The Gathering '98 -- 

Christine's Report 

        I made some mistakes last year that I vowed not to repeat this year. But, 
as is the way of such things, I made up for them with all new mistakes! 

      One blooper I managed to avoid was the lack-of-sleep one. Last year, I 
worked the night before I departed and told myself I'd have time for a nap before 
packing and a snooze on the plane. I knew better this time. And so it was that, 
well-rested, I boarded my flight for New York. 

      And then one of the all-new mistakes came up -- I flew into JFK instead 
of Newark, thinking it would be a shorter ride to the hotel. Ooh, was I ever wrong! 
     I was planning to meet up with Christi, whose plane was arriving 45 
minutes after mine. But it took almost exactly 45 minutes for my luggage to get 
unloaded, and only then did I realize that Christi's gate was in an entire other 
building, a good 1/4 mile away. 

      So I scrambled around trying to have her paged and never did manage it 
(but if any of you were wondering why I had an 800-number written on my palm 
for a day and a half, it was the Delta info line and I used a permanent pen). 

      By now it was 5:00 PM, and I got on a Gray Line shuttle with five other 
people. We cruised around the airport for a while, at one point getting stuck 
behind a 3-taxi accident, and eventually pulled into the parking lot in front of 
another terminal (still in the same airport, one of those other buildings I 
mentioned). Whereupon the driver told us she'd be back in a couple of minutes, 
and departed. 

      There we sat, with the air conditioner on full blast (in retrospect, I should 
have relished it, given how the hotel's climate-control would turn out to be). For 
fully 20 minutes, with no clue where our driver had gone. A bathroom stop? we 
wondered. A latte? A bikini wax? What the hell was taking so long? 

      At last she returned with 4 German guys in tow, at which point one of my 
fellow detainees began haranguing her about the delay and wanted the 
manager's name, etc. But we eventually got on the road again. In the middle of 
what I assume was rush hour. 

      The thing that most amazed me about my various trips on the streets of 
the city was that, given the way people drive, so few of the cars are damaged! 
Nearly two hours of horns, hair-raising close calls, and pedestrians who are either 
convinced of their own immortality or have a serious death wish. 
     Sometime after 7:00 PM (and just my luck, my hotel was the last stop!), I 
finally dragged my suitcase through the doors. I was stressed, headachy, freezing 
from that darn air conditioner, and generally not at my best (plus my bag got stuck 
in the door and nearly gave me whiplash). I was just hoping that, after all this, I 
wouldn't have gotten the hotel wrong. 

      Four people leaning over the balcony calling to me, cheering, and taking 
pictures assuaged my fear. I recognized Missy, and the next thing I knew, Doug 
and Thomas had pelted down the stairs. They carried my luggage, escorted me 
to the registration desk, and generally made me feel like a real celeb. 

      While I was standing there waiting for the clerk to figure out something 
about a fax I had supposedly received (it turned out to be another Morgan), 
Christi showed up, to my intense relief. I was terrified she would be stuck at the 
airport waiting for me, even though I knew she would figure out that I wasn't going 
to make it. So we both arrived, a little weary, and with our entourage in tow, went 
up to our room. 

      Our very small room. That was one thing in which last year's con 
surpassed -- the rooms last year were actual suites. But the view from our 
bathroom was exceptional: the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. 
Quite a thing to see in the mirror while brushing one's teeth. And a good thing, 
too, because the bathroom light was choosey about when and if it worked, so if 
not for the glow of the skyscrapers, we would have been answering nature's call 
in the dark. 

      I wrote "The Christine Morgan" on my badge, pinned on my Jericho 
button, and went around to say hello to familiar faces from last year and new 
faces to go with familiar names. I just had time before the opening ceremonies to 
freshen up and make myself look human. 

      Some of the artwork was already on display in the Crystal Room (so 
named because there were chandeliers and crystal-dripping wall sconces 
everywhere, not to mention the three enormous ones hanging in the lobby -- 
overdone, and with the gold-flocked wallpaper, perhaps just a tad on the tacky 
side, but I took a picture all the same). 

      The opening ceremonies got underway, and Christi was given a T-shirt 
emblazoned with her own deep-voiced smooth-talker of the night, Spike, as a 
thank-you for her work in creating the gorgeous portraits of Keith, Salli, and Greg, 
which would be presented later in the weekend. 

      Then I was whisked away by Mitch (aka Pogo, fandom hunk) to a 
romantically-lit French restaurant and plied with wine and champagne ... but I 
suppose I should point out that Christi and Mitch's lady Karine (aka Kanthara) 
were also part of the group. 

      After that, we went back to the hotel and learned that Greg had made an 
appearance while we were gone -- wearing his official Gathering striped shirt! I 
got to finally say hi to Denis, who'd come all the way from Belgium, and finally met 
Jennifer (aka CrzyDemona) face to face and presented her with her own Jericho 
button, as she is president of the fan club. 

      The con suite was on the 4th floor, originally in one room but then the 
hotel staff had us move to another room so they could re-carpet or something, 
and there seemed to be a lot of aggravation and confusion caused by all of that. 

      I roomed with Christi, Missy, and Mandi, and we arranged for a 7:00 
wake up call on Saturday. Somehow, it all worked out with four ladies and one 
dinky bathroom (though with an incredible view, did I mention that?). Christi has 
mastered the art of stealth, since by the time the rest of us woke up, she was 
already dressed and ready to go -- she attributes this to plenty of practice trying 
not to wake up her boys so that she can get things done in the morning. 

      I had volunteered for a shift at the registration desk from 9:00 to 10:00, 
but Jordan showed up shortly after I did, and since he knew what he was doing, I 
sat there and tried to be supportive. At 10:00 was one of the events I'd been 
anticipating, the fanfic panel. 

      It was originally supposed to be Christi, Missy, and myself, but we 
managed to pull a few other folks in so we filled all six chairs. Leva, A Fan, and 
Scott (aka Abram Wintersmith) were persuaded to join us. 

      Now, I don't know about my co-panelists, but I had a great time. I love 
attention, and I love to talk about myself and my stories. And plugging my book! 
Which, sadly, was not ready in time for me to have actual copies on-hand. But 
some people just couldn't wait to give me money, so I got several advance orders 
that will be shipped out as soon as I get and sign the copies. Which is supposed 
to be by Friday Aug. 21; we shall see. 

      I ran into Greg and gave him the Goliath figure to replace the one that 
had been stolen from him. While it was tempting to see what I could get in trade, 
figuring that if anybody had Garg goodies that I couldn't get anyplace else, it 
would be him, my more diplomatic side prevailed. 

      After that, I told myself to get down to the gift shop and buy Becca a 
present before I spent all my money on stuff for me. But just as I was about to do 
that, the dealer (Jubilee?) began setting up, and I spotted a bunch of things that I 
didn't have in my collection. The thing about collecting is: you're content until you 
are aware of something you don't have, and then it becomes a constant 
maddening urge. 

      I walked away from that table with lots of stickers, issue 9 of the comic, 
some static-cling things to go in the window (of my new car, hee-hee!), various 
other items, and most amusing of all, a "locker bag" which was a plastic 
drawstring bag containing Gargoyles brush, toothbrush, toothbrush holder, and 
even official Gargoyles Kleenex. I also bought a bunch of raffle tickets, because I 
had my heart set on the big vinyl play tent. 

      After that, it was time for part of Greg's Secret Event (GSE), so I did that 
and hung out in the con suite, and finally visited the gift shop. Bought Becca 
some presents -- a snow globe with the Statue of Liberty in it and a boxed set of 
toy cars including a taxi and NYPD patrol car. I also got a postcard of the Empire 
State Building and a stamp, and mailed it off to my mom. 

      There were also a couple of workshops going on -- fanfic, webmasters -- 
that didn't pan out because so many people were trying to get in on the GSE. I 
also poked my head briefly into the art workshop but didn't stay long, because 
what some of those people draw with their off hand with eyes shut is better than 
anything I could ever hope to do. There was also a filk workshop, and I confess, 
filk hurts my brain so I try to avoid it whenever I can (to the relief of Missy and 
Constance, who first tried to encourage me and then feared I'd be too good at it!) 

      I eventually realized I should get something substantial to eat because I 
kept noshing on munchies. So I popped across the street to McD's, where I found 
the food more expensive than in Seattle and the customers considerably ruder. 
Then it was a quick stuffing of the face before my stint guarding the art show. 

      While I was keeping tabs on the artwork -- lots of beautiful paintings and 
drawings, a stained-glass of Demona using the Phoenix Gate, a sculpture of 
Goliath, and three fantastic reproductions of the magic items (Grimorum, Gate, 
and Eye of Odin) -- I was also able to listen in on part of the TGS panel. 

      I'd lost track of Christi at some point in there; I think she was whisked 
away by Mitch again for Indian food; the man seems to eat constantly and yet just 
look at him! (which I did, whenever I got the chance!). 

      Around 8:00, it was time for GSE, which was great. Lots of talent on 
display, not only Greg's writing and narrating ability but the acting skills of many of 
our own beloved friends and acquaintances. 

      The GSE ran long, though, until after 10:00 PM. And then there was a 
scheduling conflict, because the Gathering '99 World Tour Bid Party was going on 
in the con suite at the same time as the auction in the Crystal Room. And, 
although I am fully in support and hoping to be very involved with the G99 team, 
the siren song of merchandise I didn't have yet was too strong to resist. 

      So it was that I stayed for the auction, and let me tell you, the bidding was 
out of control! I had brought plenty of money, but could not bring myself to go that 
high on several items! I dearly wanted one of the Gargoyles floormats, for 
instance, but I guess I didn't want it enough since I wasn't going to bid 60+ 

      Seth (aka IRC Goliath) must have come with a wad o' cash, because he 
outbid me more times than I care to remember. Even on the final item, the big 
cardboard stand-up of Goliath (okay, there was some other video-game Hunter 
guy in the lot too, but I only wanted Goliath). But if he was going to take it away 
from me, he was going to have to pay! Which he did. 

      The highest bid, as I recall, was $105 for a pair of T-shirts. Wow. 

      Speaking of T-shirts, I was disappointed because I had pre-ordered and 
paid for a specific size, and was planning to buy one of another specific size for 
Stephen, but due to some sort of problem with the T-shirt makers, there were 
only shirts of one size to be had. So I have to wait until mine gets made and 
mailed to me. 

      The auction wrapped up at sometime after 2:00 AM, and by then most 
everybody were punchy from exhaustion. I dropped by the con suite to see if the 
party was still going on, and the tail end of it was. Apparently Greg had been there 
for a while, giving some good advice and suggestions to next year's organizers. 

      As late as it was, I was still the first one to bed, and must have zonked 
out the minute my head hit the pillow, because the next thing I knew, Mandi's 
mom was calling bright and early Sunday morning. 

      I came downstairs just in time to photograph the two big lines of people 
heading out on the Central Park tour. I wasn't going this year; my feet still 
remembered the blisters from last year and the thought of a ride on a real New 
York subway somehow failed to appeal to my sense of adventure. 

      I got some breakfast (juice and a pastry from the place in the hotel lobby) 
and hung out in the con suite with Brian, Alison, Constance, Thomas, Shari, and 
some other folks. Then there was a slight snafu, because Constance thought she 
was supposed to wait until the Central Park tour came back before taking the 
Empire State tour out, but some of the other con staff thought Constance was 
taking the Empire State tour during the Central Park tour. 

      So anyhow, eventually the tour thing worked out, and we set off to the 
building that had once been the world's tallest. A walk of many blocks along the 
humid, noisy street. Made noisier by the fact that there was some sort of a parade 
about to start (someone said it was a Republic of Jamaica celebration?), and 
there were spectators and flag vendors all over the place. 

      There were 26 of us that lined up in the cool marble foyer while Jordan 
bought our group tickets. The lines surprised me -- it was like being at 
Disneyland! Waiting in line for the elevator (twice, as there were two), battling the 
crowds ... but the view, even though it was hazy, was just as impressive as 
advertised. We could see our hotel -- I meant to hang a towel out the bathroom 
window and see if one of those coin-operated telescopes showed anything 
alarming, but forgot -- and the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, and the Jamaican 
parade route. 

      After shooting some film, I was ready to head back, so Shari, Jen, Patrick 
and I told Batya and Jordan (who might have freaked if their headcount came up 
four short) and we returned to the hotel. I took my lunch to the Crystal Room and 
watched Merav's (sp?) costume workshop, which had done a materials-run to a 
thrift shop and had fabric and stuff strewn all over the floor. 

      Alison chose that moment to gift me with a Scooby Doo doll, and if you 
don't know why that made me scream, Dear Reader, you're very lucky indeed! 
Let's just say that even I have written at least one fanfic I regret! 

      Meanwhile, the great "Where is Christi?" panic had gone on. Seems like 
everybody wanted to talk to her, and nobody knew when she was leaving, only 
that she had a flight sometime that afternoon. Turns out she'd toured the art 
museum and then dashed off to the airport, so there wasn't much chance for 

      Then it was 4:00, and time for Greg's talk. Last year, nearly every picture 
I took of that man was either the back of his head or had the worst case of red- 
eye I've ever seen. So hopefully they'll come out better this time. 

      Much of the info was the same -- we viewed the promotional video, the 
leica reel of Bad Guys (there may be hope for that one again, now that the chain 
of command at Disney's been revamped), and Greg told the jalapena story and 
the "better than Barney" story. 

      Some new treats included a pre-Gargoyles plan for the New Olympians 
as a series (and oddly, hearing all about that and seeing the pics took a lot of the 
sting out of an episode that really gave me a hairball), and a letter from Salli Elise 
Richardson. There had been a rumor flying about that she was going to do the 
same surprise appearance like Keith David did last year, but no such luck, as she 
was filming in Vancouver B.C. (and he was in Australia, apparently). 

      Eric (aka Gorebash) missed most of the talk, and word was it was 
because he was dying his hair, in preparation for going as Elisa to the costume 

      All in all, though, I think my absolute favorite part of the talk was toward 
the end, when Greg broke off, looked toward the back of the room, and declared, 
"Jesus, there's a lot of people making out in here!" 

      At that point, everyone whirled. And because Karine (Kanthara), sitting 
with Mitch, had bent forward suddenly to hide, effectively submerging herself 
behind the people in front of her, all eyes found Jennifer (Crzy) and her husband 
Alan springing apart with a guilty look. Hoots and whistles and ribald howls came 
from all corners of the room. Everyone thought it was just them until Karine began 
making a noise that was half anguished-shamed wail, half hysterical wheezes of 
laughter. She surfaced briefly, showing a face as red as Brooklyn, then vanished 

      Needless to say, it took quite a while to restore order and get on with the 
talk! Then it was autograph time, and I took the opportunity to tell Greg how much 
I liked the essay he posted in "Ask Greg" about sex in fanfic. Up until then, I'd 
been operating with an attitude of "as long as I don't know for sure he'd hate it, I 
won't feel so bad." And then, after reading his thoughts on the subject, I was very 
relieved. I'm confident that if he were allowed to read my stuff, he'd probably like 
it. Whew! 

      After that, we had an hour and a half to get ready for the masquerade 
ball. I called home and chatted with Tim and even Becca (who could only be pried 
away from the computer by telling her Mommy had bought presents). Then I went 
up to the 32nd floor and got into my Una-suit. The horn had broken in transit, but 
a little tape patched it back up. 

      All things considered, for a costume I put together with a hot glue gun, it 
wasn't half bad! Una with a great big caboose. But I do wish that the elevators 
worked a little differently! One set went from the lobby through the 20th floor, the 
other went from the lobby only to the 21st through 40th floors. So all of us in our 
costumes had to make an appearance in the lobby before escaping to the relative 
safety of the 2nd floor Crystal Room. 

      The costumes this year were spectacular! I doubt anybody was surprised 
that Jennifer walked away with first prize for her Demona outfit. It was perfect. 
The feet, the teeth, everything. If only she hadn't broken off her wing talons 
perching in the window and scaring passers-by! Her husband Alan made a great 
MacBeth, having grown a beard specially for the occasion (though, IMO, he 
should keep it!). 

      Shari and her sisters (or is one an in-law; I can never keep track) came 
as the Weird Sisters again, but this time in their little-girl-sailor-suit guises. We 
had two Unas, myself and Noel (and Siryn was _not_ Una; don't call her that or 
she might ram that long golden spiral horn of hers right through your head!). 
Kathy was a very professional Dominique Destine, Seth was the Hunter. We had 
Future Tense Brooklyn and Demona, a couple of Xanatoses and Foxes, 
Alexander as a grown-up, an evil Ninja, a Quarryman, lots of gargoyles, Dominic 
Dracon (when Thomas got rid of the moustache, he looked eerily like Jay Leno 
minus the trademark chin; the Green Baron is too cute to be a priest and I must 
admit to having some very evil thoughts about corrupting him!) and even a guest 
appearance by one of the Scarlet Angel band members, portrayed by Denis. 

      And then there was Gore. His entrance was a complete showstopper. If 
Jen as Demona wowed the socks off us, Gorelisa left us stunned. 

      Now, a lot of guys can't pull off dressing as a woman convincingly. If 
nothing else, the wig ruins the whole effect. But Eric is blessed with a lush fall of 
thick, gorgeous hair, and the best eyelashes I've ever seen on anyone, male or 
female. With the hair darkened, the goatee gone, and Aimee's make-up artistry, 
not to mention the outfit and the balloons, it was an amazing transformation! 

      Deciding that if he was gonna do it, he was gonna go all out, there was 
much pouting and preening for the camera. And maybe just a little too much of a 
fixation on the boobs. Someone should have loaned him a bra, because they 
were wandering all over every time he moved. But that gave him the excuse to 
fondle them back into place, something that he might have enjoyed just a wee bit 
too much! I heard that Alison accidentally popped one, and how she got her 
talons on his cha-chas is something upon which I'd rather not speculate. 

      The promenade was really something. Each contestant had to parade 
back and forth down the aisle to show off the costumes. And oh, was there ever a 
lot of wiggling and prancing! I thought Seth was going to hurt himself! 

      At some point during all this, Greg snuck in unnoticed. I have no idea 
when or how, but Jordan eventually spotted him (hiding behind Jennifer's wings). 
Well, at least by then he couldn't have possibly thought we were any less sane 
than before! 

      I managed to get a few chances to talk to Greg, about the GSE and my 
book and all that, and was tremendously flattered when he told me I impressed 
the hell out of him with my writing. Not that he's read any of my fanfic, too bad, 
but because of the book. Wish I'd had a copy to send him. Something he could 
actually read! 

      So I'll have to send one, a thank-you gift because in a way, the book 
owes a fair amount to him, seen as how all this practice on fanfic has helped my 
"real" writing quite a bit. If anybody knows the address for Dreamworks, I'd 
appreciate it. Much safer to send it to work, rather than track down his home 
address and make his family worry about crazed stalker-fans! 

      One thing I did notice about the masquerade -- as the hours went by and 
more and more bits of costume were shed (wings, wigs, and tails mostly), the 
cha-chas remained! 

      I was thrilled to win the play tent in the raffle, although between that and 
my plastic Una-wings, packing everything into one bag was quite a challenge! 
Wish I'd stayed up later. I heard there were some wild conversations in the wee 
small hours after I'd showered away that white makeup and collapsed. 

      Monday morning was a time for lots of hanging out in the lobby and 
saying goodbye. I bet the hotel people were glad to be rid of us, since they booted 
us out of the Crystal Room and con suite as early as they possibly could (though 
they were peeking in the windows at us all through the masquerade). I wheedled 
a sketch out of Karine, figuring I'd better ask before she reads my account of 
what happened, as she'll probably want to kill me. And got more hugs than I've 
had all year! 

      It began to rain shortly before my shuttle was due. The rain softened the 
city with a grey-gold light, making it prettier than I would have expected. But the 
rain, buckets of it, also flooded the intersections and made the pedestrians' 
movements even more likely to get them run over. 

      The ride back was much better. No getting stranded for 20 minutes. A 
few honks, yeah, but not too many. We reached the airport with plenty of time to 
spare before my flight, so I settled myself down and wrote out titles and brief 
notions for my next dozen fanfics. 

      I was even inspired to do a little sketching, once I was safely away from 
people who really knew what they were doing. Though one would think that the 
last thing I'd want to do was depress myself seeing how my feeble skills stacked 
up to all the art I'd admired this weekend! 

      Overall, last year was fun and this year was even more fun, and I'm 
looking forward to next year! Dallas in '99! 

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