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About alabaster

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    Grand Vizier
  • Birthday 07/10/1970

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    Columbia, MD
  • Interests
    anime, duh.

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  1. alabaster

    The Otakon 2019 Guest Request Thread

    One challenge there is that our contacts are primarily in the animation, gaming, and music industries, and not so much in the world of modeling. The other is that they’re going to have very little motivation to come. When evaluating guests, it’s fairly routine to break down the non-adjustable costs (flights, hotel, etc.) and the negotiable ones. Appearance fees have become more of s thing in recent years, despite the complexities of taxes, payments to overseas agencies, etc. Given the same baseline costs (it costs thousands of dollars to bring a guest from Japan, regardless of status), and limited budget, the first question is whether you spend that on someone with broad appeal, or someone with narrower appeal, and the other question is how relevant that guest is to our mission. A guest with broad appeal and fantastic relevancy is going to win, but one particularly appealing, or super relevant, would also be a prime selection. There’s really not much particularly unique about scantily dressed girls posing for magazines, honestly, and little to no crossover appeal. The management and business involved isn’t pushing to broaden the audience, as is the case for music, and there isn’t really a compelling cultural argument here. And to switch hats, if I were such a model, I can’t see much sense in flying 13 hours each way to be stared at in person by foreigners who don’t buy the magazines I am paid to appear in. Not when I can make bank in Tokyo for personal appearances, during the relatively short window when I am still young and sexy. (And that’s before you consider the unsavory types that tend to be involved in those businesses. There are musical acts I was advised to avoid because of Yakuza involvement, and I am certain that would be an issue in the world of adult magazines.) If this really interests you, and you think it has broader appeal and something to teach us, start with a panel. It’s rare to see a well presented panel covering such content, though I’m sure someone out there could make a good one. Until then , I don’t see anyone making it a priority, at any broad anime con.
  2. alabaster

    Fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation

    Tim Curry, too.
  3. alabaster

    The Otakon 2019 Guest Request Thread

    You’re quite right, brain fart on Amandas. And while i appreciate the vote of confidence, I am not the one booking guests these days...
  4. alabaster

    Special Guest Request

    Unfortunately, Otakon Vegas is on hiatus for the time being.
  5. alabaster

    Otakon 2020 / Tokyo Olympics

    Moved to Otakon Q&A. Speaking very generally: Otakon is typically held the last weekend of July or one of the first two weekends of August. However, there have been outliers over the years. We've been as early as July 4th weekend, and as late as Labor Day weekend. Exact dates vary and aren't generally releasable to the public ahead of time. However, they are generally locked down with venue and hotels long in advance. I have the dates noted somewhere myself, but don't recall. I'd forgotten this coming year (2019) was in July. As Aresef says above, we usually try to avoid the same weekend as SDCC, because it makes it tough for industry to participate. We have been held during the Olympics before, in 2008, opening the same day. Having established that I don't actually recall the dates, there's a lot more than "avoid conflict with another event" that goes into decisions about when the con is held. I wouldn't expect to hear 2020's dates until the usual time -- Sunday, end of con, 2019.
  6. alabaster

    The Otakon 2019 Guest Request Thread

    I know her. One reason her travel was limited for a while was the age of her kid.
  7. alabaster

    Guest Request for 2019

    I'm sorry, but we announced last year that Otakon Vegas was going on hiatus for the foreseeable future.
  8. alabaster

    New Book: Miyazaki World, A Life In Art

    We had Dr Napier here wayyyyy back in 2002, I believe. She was on the short list for the Super Sempai Squad I was attempting to put together a few years back. (Fred Schodt, Roland Kelts, Helen McCarthy, and Jonathan Clements were among the others) Still a little salty I couldn't make that work.
  9. My 93-year-old grandmother now has a smartphone. Just sayin'. depending on how you get your service, the cost is NOT that much more. On our family plan, it's a $10/month difference. (Assuming the phone is already paid for -- and some friend is bound to have an older one so you can get your feet wet without massive investment.)
  10. I'm pretty sure that's the main reason why we, and any other large event with a big dealer room queue, do it that way. Pulling you to the far end gives queue space and also ensures that the back of that huuuuuge hall doesn't become a dead space for traffic.
  11. alabaster

    The Otakon 2019 Guest Request Thread

    Maile's a friend and she's been fairly often -- I think we were one of her first cons. She's a hoot! Kojima....well, he's challenging.
  12. Lots of ideas for improving, and I'm sure the appropriate folks are considering them (in some cases I know we are). We have seen more use of slack recently, but let me share a story as to why those don't always work across the board. For guests and programming, you're talking about maybe a hundred staffers. Guests and industry number in the high dozens. Not everyone has everyone's contacts, nor should they, so you're going to need a couple of critical relay points -- usually managers or assistants. Several Japanese and Korean guests routinely use Line. Our Otakon phones were using Google Voice/Hangouts for a long time. Individuals use SMS. Various people prefer to use Skype, Slack, Facebook messenger, or other chat platforms. Iphones can use iMessage but only to other iPhones (making it super reliable between iphones, but tricky when there's an android user or two in the mix). There's also a wide range of carriers from Google Fi to Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, etc. and the networks don't all get good signal in the area nor penetration when deep in the convention center or hotels. At a certain point, it becomes ridiculous to keep half a dozen means of communication open and not have a preferred one. And each of them sucks battery life as badly as Pokemon Go. You kind of have to pick a common standard at least for staff communication so things are clear. Factor in changes in personnel across the board for industry and a lot of new people all over, and coordination becomes a real challenge. Personally, i tell people to text me; it's usually the most reliable way and the least disruptive, and my iWatch keeps me from missing calls or texts due to noise (by tapping my wrist), and when I was head of GR, I also had the Google one open as that was pretty reliable as well. (The con number was pointed at the app on my phone.) Between those two options, and occasionally checking FB, I was mostly able to stay in touch with anyone. Running out of juice was a real concern. BUT... android was almost always later in getting texts, and transit times could vary by minutes between carriers, especially as networks got slammed. It seems better now in DC, but there are still weird delays. I sent a phone number to someone twenty feet away and it took four minutes to get to his phone. Now compound that times a hundred, and even within the GR and Programming teams, you can see the problem. Now get an APB out to all staff.... Now multiply that times 25,000.
  13. alabaster

    The autograph line was a disaster.

    Right, and that was not the way it was supposed to go. With any luck, our signs and other supplies will turn up or get remade. That would help a lot.
  14. A few things worth noting. internally, we absolutely agree that we need to do better about communicating. It’s a struggle, even within staff, to get info out consistently and quickly to 700 people. We keep trying new things to improve this, but there isn’t a simple solution. When it comes to social media, that’s a constantly moving target. I miss posts from my own family on Facebook, as well as from the con, because it’s a constantly shifting target as they adapt the algorithms to try to squeeze more money out of advertisers. The only way to ensure your reach stays high is to post often npenough and generate likes often enough that the system thinks you are super engaged with your audience. Twitter, and all the others, do similar things to tweak what users see. They are not reliable ways to get information out quickly, because where and whether you see such updates varies so much from person to person, and they won’t let us just see newest stuff first by default. I am still just now seeing updates from a page that I help manage, and they are a week old. sending email to entire membership is not easy either —and it costs money to do, and your spam filters catch most of it anyway. during con (and for most of us, that’s Tuesday or Wednesday before, through the Monday or Tuesday after), the options can vary wildly, as people are in transit or busy moving boxes and setting up, or putting out other fires. We do have a virtual help desk that has people staffing it, but they don’t necessarily overlap with people who can post to all the social media or website. I don’t know about you, but I don’t keep all my social media open all the time, especially when I am working in a big concrete bunker and need to have my battery last more than an hour between charges. Every year we meet up after the con to look over your feedback as well as our own. Every year we have attempted to address the issues we are aware of, and communication remains one of those thorny issues that will probably never have a perfect solution, especially as the world of options continues to evolve. As I noted early, one big challenge that probably won’t get immediately solved is how to notify you (and 700 staff) about changes that happen within a 10-15 minute window at con. Even if we could instantly radio back to Programming Ops that the 2pm panelist hasn’t shown up, and they instantly said “oh crap, right, they sent an email last night that I happened to see, but I forgot about it”, it would still take a few minutes to verify and then notify the folks who need to update it. By that time, it’s too late. So yeah, when we know, we need to get the word out better, but there will always be mistakes and last minute surprises, and they aren’t easily communicated with any speed, and they have to be verified before pushing out. Even if our internal processes were hyper efficient and foolproof (they aren’t, but they are still miles better than they were five years ago), it still probably wouldn’t get out instantly. i do still think, however, that there is a place for this BBS, where we can have a record of what is discussed, and respond with something more than a couple hundred characters. It’s kind of annoying to try to communicate complex ideas or have reasonable discussions within the bounds of social media.
  15. Sounds simple, but often isn't. Only a handful of people can throw things out to social media and an even smaller number can do more than one type. Most of us wear multiple hats. Depending on when they found out about the lanyards -- for example, if they were a Thursday morning surprise -- then you face the issue of key people either being in transit or absolutely slammed getting things ready for the con.