Highlander Clan Cruise 1998

All the Highlander Clan Cruise 1998 photographs have been moved to Flickr!

Thursday

Thursday was a Very, Very Long Day. I got up at 8am on Wednesday, and went to bed around 3am EST (11pm my time) Friday morning. Being me, I failed to take a nap between getting home from work Wednesday and getting to the airport early Thursday morning. To my amazement, I did sleep on the plane, which is an indication of Just How Tired I Was, ‘cuz I don’t sleep in moving vehicles well at all. I’m afraid I’ll miss something. So I got maybe 4 or 5 hours of uncomfortable airplane sleep between Anchorage-Seattle and Seattle-Houston.

Houston was rained in. They were having thunderstorms and we couldn’t land, and so we ended up flying in circles for an hour and then went down to Corpus Christi to refuel. We got back to Houston to land just exactly when my flight was leaving, and I was perturbed because I’d had the opportunity in Seattle that morning to bump to a later flight, and decided I’d better not ‘cuz there was no way to let Sarah know I was going to be late getting to the airport. I ended up on that later flight after all, but without a free ticket. Wah!

But!

Jim Byrnes There I was, standing in line to wait to see if I was going to make it on the next flight at all, and behind me I heard the word ‘Highlander’, followed by an Incredibly Familiar Voice. I turned around, and Jim Byrnes, who played Joe Dawson on Highlander, was standing five feet behind me.

I stood there in line explaining to myself that I Absolutely Had to introduce myself to him, because I was never going to have a better opportunity. So after I found out if I’d get on the flight or not, I girded my loins and went over and said, “Mr Byrnes?” and he turned around and smiled and I introduced myself and said I was going on the HCC and I was a fan of his and liked his music and had come from Alaska and I was glad he was going to be on this thing. We talked for a minute, and then I got out of his hair, and went away and then had a heart attack. Just about, anyway; I don’t remember feeling particularly panicked while I was talking to him, but once I walked away the heartrate skyrocketed and I got short of breath and generally felt really silly and it took about fifteen minutes to calm down. *laugh*

Then a few minutes later I caught sight of myself in a mirror and was horrified: I introduced myself to Jim Byrnes looking like *that*? Remember, I’d been up for over 24 hours at that point, and on a plane for more than 12. I looked like the Greasy Grunge Monster From Hell. I’m lucky Jim didn’t shriek and run away. :)

Eventually, I made it to Miami. I’d been the first one scheduled to get in; Sarah ended up getting in 2 hours before me without any idea where I was. So by some minor miracle we actually found each other (big airport!), no particular thanks to the crummy overhead system which mumbled people’s names. She did page me, and I caught my name, but I had no idea at all where I was supposed to meet her. Sarah and Tardahbear Turned out it was at the head of the stairs I chose to climb; convienent, that, wouldn’t you say? She gave me an amazingly adorable teddy bear whom I have since named Tardahbear, ‘cuz that’s what her little cousin/niece/personthing used to call her when the cousin/niece/personthing was too small to say Sarah. We discussed naming it Methos, but then concluded we would be forced to give it to Peter Wingfield, and darnit, I wanted to keep him. (The bear, not Peter. Although I wouldn’t mind keeping him, either.) And we waited for Christi, who arrived 25 minutes after I did, instead of 3 hours after I did.

We staggered off to the hotel, which wasn’t as nice as I was expecting it to be, and which had bad food, and had dinner and were unimpressed, and generally behaved like complete raving idiots and giggled and had a great time until Oh God Hundred.

At one point, Christi reached over and tickled Sarah’s tummy, which caused Sarah to make a very un-Sarahlike shriek, after which she claimed that Sarahs Did Not Shriek and that the sound had merely been a figment of our imagination. This became a running joke: Things Sarahs Did Not Do, which included shrieking, giggling, wearing girl clothes, and talking in extremely high silly voices, and the whole weekend we kept going on about how Sarah Wasn’t Doing That.

I made the mistake of giving Christi a copy of Strangers in Paradise right away, and she spent a significant portion of the night reading it. Meanwhile, I gave Sarah the eleven billion things I’d brought for her — ElfQuest tshirts, comic books, an EQ calendar (one for Christi, too) a Gambit doll, and discovered after I’d gotten back that I’d forgotten the book of poetry I’d bought for her months ago. Oh well. We talked about seeing Jim Byrnes — Sarah’d seen him in the Miami airport, and had had the weird sensation that she was on a tv set, and there was Joe over there — and bounced excitedly and Sarah recited a truly amazing amount of Bill Cosby (And God made Man. God didn’t have time to say it was Good, because RIGHT AWAY Man started screwing up…) which kept us giggling until we completely passed out fwump.

Friday

Christi Being Way Too Cute At 7:30am or so, a semi, seven floors below, honked its horn, causing Christi to levitate out of bed, race frantically to the balcony door, and scrabble wildly at the curtains in an attempt to get outside and find out what was going on. I apparently flinched violently, flopped over, and stared at her for five seconds before collapsing back into bed. Sarah, who’d woken up the first time the semi honked, thought we were absurd. :)

We actually managed to get up about two hours later, and skipped breakfast because the HoJo restaurant was so awful. This caused Christi to nearly starve right to death, and we discovered over the course of the next few days that Christis need to eat regularly even more than Caties do, which fact would no doubt startle the hell out of my husband.

We got out of the hotel and headed down for the dock, and were peering out the windows at this row of buildings a ways away, and then we realized that they weren’t buildings, they were cruise ships. Great big HUGE ENORMOUS SHIPS. I mean, we’re talking literally the size of the Titanic. Almost 900 feet long and more than a hundred feet wide, and there were nine decks for just the passengers. It completely blew my mind.

We went to check in, and ended up tipping the porters for hauling our luggage about 12 feet, which irritated Christi greatly. Once we got through checking in — which turned out to be a bother because the paperwork all indicated that we needed our passports to get *off* the boat, not on it, and Sarah and I didn’t have ours handy — we went upstairs to get checked in for the Highlander side of things.

This was the point at which we really got an appreciation for the odds on the cruise. There were hundreds and hundreds of women and about, oh, six men. I’m only barely exaggerating. :) I knew there’d be a lot more women than men, but it was still amusing. The three of us were standing in line, nearly at the head of the line, and I looked back over the line and suddenly had the sense that I was Really Tall. I am tall; I’m 5’8″, and Sarah’s a wee bit shorter than I am and Christi’s 5’6″ish. So we’re all at least a couple inches taller than the national average, and you could tell, looking over the line. There were a few women taller (and some who were Much Taller) than we were, but we were definetely at the high end of the scale. That was pretty bizarre and fun. :)

The line went from being a line to being a barely controlled mob after they announced how the packets were being handed out, and Christi managed to get to the head of her line, but Sarah and I were stuck in the K-Q line which had 32576789 jillion people in it, so we took a while to get through. It was kinda Indiscretions Still fun, though, and there were hundreds of different Highlander tshirts all around to check out — my favorite was the woman who was wearing a t-shirt with a still from “Indiscretions” on it, with Methos about to take the bad guy’s head, and it had the quote, “Just because I don’t like to fight doesn’t mean I can’t.” Good line. Of course, Methos always has all the good lines.

In time, we finished getting through the mob and got our stuff and went to collect our room keys and got onboard. The room was just large enough that with the 3 of us, it didn’t feel like we were stepping on each other’s toes. I think if we’d had a fourth, it’d have been pretty tight, but with 3 it was perfectly fine. It had 4 bunks, a bathroom door that magnetized itself to the wall with the strength of ten men, and a window which was actually decently large. There was a TV in the corner, set to the Highlander channel, and a vanity and a closet and chocolates and champagne waiting for us. I could get used to that kind of lifestyle!

While waiting for our luggage to be delivered, we went to the lifeboat drill, which was pretty much the last contact we had with anything even vaguely resembling reality for the next three days. We changed for the costume party Sarah in garb and went down to the Blue Sapphire Lounge, where the Jim Byrnes Band The Jim Byrnes Band was playing. As luck would have it, they were playing Fire On The Bayou, one of my favorite songs, so I dragged Christi and Sarah up to dance right away.

The band spent the whole evening — and Sunday evening, too — hamming it up, just loving every minute of the dancers and the crowd. Jim kept playing his guitar with his teeth, although he later claimed that he wasn’t really, even though he does have guitar picks for teeth, which statement he made and then bared his teeth at us so we could see that the front one is chipped. He said it’s really fingerwork, though, and you just get so good at it that you can goof around while playing and still make the music. The other guitarist, Tim Hearsy, played his guitar behind his head and I caught him playing with his teeth at least once, too, all very silly. I was pretty sure Jim recognized me while I was out on the dance floor, ‘cuz he grinned right at me a couple of times. *beam*

(We shall assume that the short skirt and the lowcut top had nothing to do with the grinning.)

We had our first Peter Sighting during the dancing; he was sitting down in front with Stan Kirsch, and Sarah had to grab me by the arm and have me peer down the length of her arm to locate them. Sub-tuhl. You’d think that considering how handsome I think he is, I’d have a built-in Peter Radar. Guess not! :) ‘course, this was the first time I’d ever been within, oh, fifty feet of the man, so it could just take practice. ANYway. *laugh* With them was Stan’s girlfriend whose name I have not yet learned, but wow what a knockout.

Me and TartAfter the dance we staggered back down to the room to change — at least, Sarah and Christi changed; I kept on my flapperdress ‘cuz I liked it!

The dining room was very very pretty, and it turned out we were eating dinner with 3 women, Vonda, Ronda and Diane; Vonda, at least, is a member of the Methos Boxer Brigade, of which I had, perhaps alarmingly, heard. (Nah, it’s not alarming. I mean, for gossake, I work on the web. Of course I’ve come across web pages for the people I’m fans of. How do you think I ended up on this cruise, anyway? I found it online!) So Vonda says she’s part of the MBB, and I said oh! right, I know who they are!

Although actually, I only just now found the MBB site, so I really don’t know where I’d come across the name. But I had. I assume the MBB was created (or at least named thusly) after Forgive Us Our Trespasses, wherein Amanda shows up at Methos’ place in the middle of the night and he answers the door wearing — you guessed it — nothing but boxers. Not that this is relevant, I don’t think.

But apparently the MBB has been giving Peter a bear wearing boxers for the last several cons; the latest one is named Tart (Apparently every con for the last several, the MBB has been bringing Peter a bear in boxer shorts. This one was named Tart because two cons ago, the green couch from Duncan’s loft had made it to the con, and whenever Methos arrives at Duncan’s place, he collapses onto this couch in a lovely sprawl. He was asked at this convention to sprawl for them on the couch, and obligingly did so, after which he said, “I feel like such a tart!” The last bear was named Sprawl, and this one, then, is Tart. :)). Formal Dinner With Tart Vonda is a big bear fan in general, and has evidently been purchasing the bears and the boxers for the MBB, but this was the first con she was able to attend and thus this was the first time she was able to give Peter the bear herself. She was Pretty Darned Pleased. *grin* So the entire cruise, she toted this bear around, which proved to amuse the hell out of our waiters, who provided him with a highchair Friday and Saturday nights.

Speaking of our waiters. Wayan and T … I forget his name right now … (12.10.98 update: Trevor. His name was Trevor!) thought we were, in general, nuts. :) They made horrified faces upon discovering that Sarah, Christi and I had all left our boys at home, and they even posed with Tart for a picture. *laugh* Friday night the waitstaff behaved normally, but Saturday and Sunday — well, I’ll get there.

*laugh* Vonda complimented my dress that night, and I said, “Thank you! I made it!” and she sniffed and said, “You did? I don’t like it anymore!” *giggle* So I was pretty delighted by that. *laugh*

After dinner, we went up to the Screenings, which were . . .

Incredible.

Okay. Wow. In general: it was a blast. Gillian Horvath and Donna Lettow were the commentators, and they had a great patter down, and they offered us the chance to either watch 45 minutes of outtakes and then the Eurominutes of To Be, and then 45 minutes of outtakes on Sunday and the Eurominutes of Not To Be, /or/ we could pretty much do 3 hours worth of outtakes.

Outtakes so got the vote.

They had. Sheesh. Okay. They had some extended pieces from Duende, with the hours-long swordfight between Duncan and Consone, Anthony Delongis’ character. Apparently the thing was not /intended/ to be an hours-long swordfight, but they were hoping it would stop raining. It didn’t, and they /had/ to finish filming that day, so it ended up after waiting for hours, they had to finish in the rain anyway. The overall effect is wonderful; since it is a very highly stylized method of swordplay, and since Immortals have more endurance than ordinary humans, it seems entirely possible that the fight could /last/ into late night. So it’s really a wonderful result, but it was entirely unintentional. The surface they were fencing on hadn’t been treated with sand, so it was very slick, and more than once Adrian and Anthony fell, though Anthony did say no one was hurt.

Two of the funniest/best parts of that scene were — one was very early on, when they were just starting. Because it was raining, Anthony flung his head back and his arms wide open as he was walking towards the circle, and they kept that in the show. It’s a very dramatic gesture, very full of life and passion, and it is not only a very Anthony-like thing to do, it’s also wonderfully appropriate for the character, who believes he’s going to win.

The other great bit was late that night, when it’s still dumping rain, and Adrian flings his arms out and shouts to the camera, “See, Bill (Panzer)? It’s
not raining!”

From the same show, they had a single take of Adrian and the woman flamenco dancer doing the flamenco. In the aired version, you couldn’t tell that it was actually Adrian, much to his (and our) disappointment; he learned the dance specifically for the show. So it was tremendously keen, particularly since I dance, to watch him do that.

They had outtakes from Finale, when Adrian and Elizabeth did the tango on the Eiffel Tower. They ACTUALLY DID THE TANGO ON THE EIFFEL TOWER. WAY THE HELL UP THERE. With NO GUARD RAIL. Adrian kept staring nervously over the edge and making “gaaaaah” faces and sounds, while Elizabeth seemed alarmingly unconcerned. Crazy lady!

There were audition scenes, although Gillian said they couldn’t find Peter’s, which she imagined Peter was eternally grateful for. They did have scenes for Richie and Kronos; one of the ones for Richie was very good, and in fact the kid got cast as a friend of Richie’s in a later episode. The other Richie audition — aside from Stan’s — was amazingly bad. Painfully. The kid (I will not post his name for fear of getting Gillian and Donna in trouble, but as Gillian said, it was not the name that his mother had given him at birth) looked like an anime character. He was slim and had Big Blue Eyes and Soft Black Hair and even a pointy nose. And he was awful. God, he was awful. *laugh* There was apparently a version of The Gathering in which Richie discovered he was Immortal in that first episode, and we got to see this kid do the reaction to the news. It involved an Incredibly Long Pause, and then, much as if he were stoned: “Cool.” Just utterly laconic and *awful*. *laugh*

And then the Kronos auditions. Most of them were really terrible. One or two were okay. And then Valentine Pelka was up.

Okay, I know there are other versions of this on the web, but I swear, if you’ve seen it, you’ve just gotta talk about it. For one, Val’s *utterly* fuzzy in this audition. He’s got lovely soft brown curly hair, and the *nicest* smile; you just want to take him home and *snuggle* him. Then the camera pans away to focus on his name slate, and when it comes back . . .

Valentine is gone.

Kronos has completely replaced him. He’s still got the fuzzy hair, but his eyes are just deadly. It was an absolutely *brilliant* transformation.
The entire audience sort of collectively gasped; Gillian said, while the camera was panning away, “Now watch…you’ll wonder where Valentine went.” And we /did/. It was /gorgeous/.

I’m sure there was other stuff, but the final scenes literally chased anything else out of my head. There is a scene of great fame in Come A Horseman, in which Duncan has learned that Methos used to be pretty much the baddest bad guy around, and confronts him about it. It’s called the Jimmy scene, ‘cuz Methos drives a GMC truck and the truck is basically the only prop in the scene.

One of my bitches about film is that unlike onstage, you have multiple chances to get it right, so you don’t necessarily have to be able to act. This has, mind you, never been a concern of mine with Highlander; I’ve always felt like I was watching actors on tv, not tv stars who were beautiful and who could get it right one time in ten and thus made it on the small screen.

That said, the nine, count them, nine, takes of the Jimmy scene we watched were some of the most phenomenal acting I’ve ever seen. I knew Peter Wingfield and Adrian Paul could act, and still, watching these repeats was jaw-dropping. The scene was apparently a nightmare for the editors, because they did not hit their marks; they were so far into the scene that they were no longer Peter and Adrian; it was very much Methos and Duncan fighting over this issue. And every single scene was different.

Again, an editor’s nightmare. But oh. My. God. A fan’s dream. My favorite take was I think the second one, where Methos slid through a range of emotions in seconds: rage, laughter, hurt, all the way down to nearly losing control, and then catching himself just before the edge of tears and pulling back into .absolute. control, edged with despair and anger and enormous frustration. All this in a matter of two or three seconds; it was /beautiful/. Just beautiful.

Other scenes: a tired, worn-out Methos; the same man we’d seen at the very beginning, in Methos and Finale; a Methos working himself up to explaining himself to Mac; a Methos who /did/ crumple, beyond the take that I liked best, actually into tears; a Duncan betrayed, and betrayed, and betrayed again, desperately searching for a way to not believe, a way to make it right, to remain friends with this oldest Immortal who was a great deal more than Duncan ever expected.

It. Was. Brilliant. Sarah and I were both sitting on the edges of our seats, clutching, alternately, our hearts, or our hands over our mouths, barely
breathing. In one scene when Methos slammed his car door shut, the window fell out, and even though Peter — it was Peter, not Methos — grabbed it and sort of chewed on it before ending the scene with his forehead against the steering wheel — it worked. It wasn’t funny; it was just One More Fucking Thing Going Wrong.

A lot of the people at the con had seen the Jimmy scene before. Gillian couldn’t help grinning, at the end, and saying that it was kind of wonderful to see that no matter how many times they’d showed that series of scenes, there were still people in the audience gasping and sitting, wide-eyed, with their jaws hanging open.

Three weeks later, just thinking about it, I’m still floored. It is so stunningly good to know that the actors I admire — Peter and Jim and Adrian
are all among them — can really, truly act. It was just amazing. Man. Wow.

During all this, the actors were doing their first receiving line. Sarah and I were wandering around before Anthony’s whip demo (stop waggling your
eyebrows!) and caught the tail end of the receiving line: our Peter Sighting Second Peter Sighting. It was probably the funniest of them; we stood around under the area they were all crowded into, and just stared idiotically. We didn’t even giggle particularly much, just kinda sat there and looked star-struck. After a while we went up to the next level so we could look down at them and thus get a better view, and Sarah was rationally discussing throwing herself over the edge of the promenade, figuring that at the least, Peter’d come running over to see if she was okay.

*laugh* Okay, maybe we got a little giggly. *laugh* After a while we figured maybe we should go find Christi, who was already up on the deck, I believe, to watch the whip demo, and so we wandered our star-struck way off to the upper deck. Fortunately, we weren’t quite as idiotic the other times we saw him. Them. :)

It had by this time reached the witching hour, so we went up to the Verandah Deck to watch Anthony’s whip demo.

Anthony DeLongis is an actor’s actor. The man is always on, and he’s incredibly good at flirting with an entire audience at one time, and he’s charming as hell, and he’s a complete ham. He brought his friend and fellow swordsmaster Bob Chapin along with him, and the two of them had a riot, doing Photo Ops (which involved stopping the action in midpose, and smiling brightly with *lots* of teeth at the audience) and charming the pants off everybody.

The whip demo was mostly Anthony’s show. It was windy, which made it a trifle exciting, but he’s very very good and very very careful, and I don’t think anybody was at all concerned about getting snapped. He explained how he’d learned the whip — taught himself, basically, and he’d cleverly noticed that if you weren’t careful, the whip could tear holes in your face, and that’s just Not Good for actors. (Or anybody else, but if you make a living with your mug, it’s particularly Not Good.) He thus uses the whip entirely outside his own body, in what he calls the railroad tracks; the body makes the track, and you use the whip to the outside of your arm, which means it’s not going to snap back into your face. He said the most common errors in learning to use the bullwhip are doing either a towel-snap motion or a direct down-and-up motion, both of which will fling the tip of the whip directly back at your body. Bad, bad idea.

He did call a volunteer up and wrapped a whip around her. During this, he asked if anybody could guess what the first rule was, and there were a number of us who said, “DON’T MOVE!” Veeeerrrry good, audience. *laugh* Once she was done, he said the other rule was: NEVER VOLUNTEER. *laugh* It was cool to watch, though, because he did the whole thing in relatively slow motion, and you could watch how the danger point — the tip of the whip — snapped well beyond the girl and then, since the real motion was spent, how easy (well, with PRACTICE) it was to wrap the whip around an ankle or waist or knees. It was a really excellent demonstration. He’s got a video on learning the bullwhip that I’d love to get.

Good heavens. I’ve reached the end of Friday. I don’t remember staying up absurdly late Friday night, but I’m pretty sure we didn’t go to bed at 1am. I think we ended up watching Highlander shows on the in-ship-provided Highlander channel for a while. :) It seems like bedtime was around 2 or 3am.

On to Saturday, since this got long….

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