While I didn't HAVE to get to the symposium until about 1:00pm on Saturday, I decided I might as well stick with my pattern and drive down at 7:45am. These events are not vacations for me. Sure, I have fun, but I'm there to WORK, and as a Type-A personality, I like to get to work early. So there I was at 8:15am, first one in the Registration Area. I unpacked, and got busy. There were three commissions queued up, and a Day Two report to write. I also wanted to get some breakfast, but apparently on Saturdays all the franchises in the cafeteria are closed until lunch. Rather than have a greasy-spoon breakfast (the "Cougar Grill" [or whatever they call it] was frying eggs) I spent a buck-eighty on a can of Slim-Fast. The stuff never worked on me for taking the weight off, but as a meal substitute on the run it works... provided you don't mind being hungry enough to gnaw the hindquarters off of a wildebeest by noon. And so the morning went... blogging, drawing commissions, and listening to Overclocked Remixes via my iPod and a small set of portable speakers. When lunch rolled around I had one of the gophers gopher me a double-decker Taco Supreme (it's not wildebeest, but it'll do in a pinch), and I kept working. At times I had a pretty decent crowd keeping me company. At 1:00pm I had the "Create a Character and Have Someone Else Draw It" panel. There were supposed to be four people on the "someone else" side of the panel, but one of the artists didn't show. It worked out okay, though. Steve Keele and his son Kevin, who both work in the illustration and animation industry locally, sat at the table with me, and we pounded out sketches for people for 50 minutes. Steve and Kevin weren't aware that they'd be DRAWING the whole time, but they agreed afterward that it was a blast. Except for all the pointy ears. If one more girl comes up to me and says "my character is a 17-year-old human with pointy ears" I think I'll scream. And what I'll scream is "IT'S AN ELF!" Ah, well. I only got to see a couple of the pieces Steve and Kevin did, which is a good thing... they're far, far better at this stuff than I am. Back at my table I plowed into some more commissions, two of which were inkings of the pencil pieces I did at the last panel. The space-halfling was probably my favorite, but the subterranean cano-hominid priest was nice too. At around 2:30 Sandra showed up, and everything changed. See, I was working hard and having fun up until that point, but with her by my side I was working hard, having fun, and CONFIDENT. I don't know how I manage conventions without her by my side -- and it's the exception when she's able to be there. Our 3:00pm panel, "Working as a Team" was a blast. We dispensed everything from business advice to child-rearing tips, and our back-and-forth banter was heaps of fun. At least it was for US. But then, you know... we're still in love. We can't NOT have fun when we talk to each other. Having an audience only meant that the discussion stayed a little more focused, and there was less kissing. From 4:00pm to 5:00pm I worked on one more commission (maybe two, I forget), and then arrived at the realization that I was done for the day. I got a free massage, laid down some ink, and then packed everything up in preparation for the final panel and the banquet. The 6:00pm panel, "Making a Living as an Artist" was wonderful. There were nine panelists (seven artists, and two business-managing-spouses including Sandra), and only about 20 attendees. I suggested a "roundtable" set up, so we pulled our chairs into a big circle and had a great discussion. Sandra and I learned a lot, and I think we managed to provide some decent information as well. And then it was off to the banquet. Sandra and I shared a table with Robert "Bob is not my wife" Defendi, Dan Willis, Rebecca Moesta, Kevin J. Anderson, Arthur Roberg, and Eric James Stone. We ate rat-on-a-stick (chocolate rat-molds on lollipop sticks. clever!) and spam, among other, more appetizing things. There were door prizes. And there was a furry ball-toy with some very accidentally dirty instructions ("unzip the zipper at the back of your Furr Ballz...") As I was headed out, one of the perpetually hyper Harmon kids (a ConCom child) came up to me and asked "do you know a lot of jokes?" I answered "Well... yes. But mostly I make them up, use them once, and then throw them away." "Can you make a joke out of any word?" "I can. Sometimes it takes a little while, but I can." He paused, thinking. "Mafia," he said. I looked him in the eyes, scowling over my glasses to make sure I had his complete attention. "MONKEY mafia." He almost fell over laughing. It would seem that the secret to good comedy lies in three things: knowing your audience, solid delivery, and finding a way to work "monkey" in there somewhere. That's it for the LTUE blow-by-blow. I'll post pictures of what I drew sometime later today or tomorrow.