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alabaster

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So apparently some of you guys missed me here last year. And a few people have indicated that they might like something like this, so here it is.

Ask me stuff.

I'll answer to the best of my ability.

I will most likely answer just about anything, but I'm not doing an advice column or anything like that. I'm assuming you'll try to stick with con-related stuff, or at least fandom-related. Just keep it civil and friendly and fun, and I'll do the same.

Note: I may answer with "no comment", and I suspect you will ask things I won't or can't answer for various reasons. Don't be offended if that's the case. And you know I do my best to avoid lying to you, though that doesn't mean I won't give crafty, misleading replies from time to time. And I reserve the right to decline to comment on personal matters or anything I feel is inappropriate.

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Okay, got 2 things.

1. How many people would have to come for Otakon to consider an attendance cap, what is the BCC's top number of people allowed?

2.Since you seem always busy with Otakon, do you ever get time to watch anime anymore?

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1. There is no exact number of people that triggers a cap: it is all about how the space is used. So we never get a straight answer, not really, from the facilities we use. And it is really up to the fire Marshall when she looks at the space being used. For US to consider a cap, it has to do with much the same thing -- our ability to safely manage the people and the space. Personally, I think we are nearing that, but we would need some better data to make that call, and our plans to collect some of that data didn't pan out last year. We will be watching the situation, and when we discuss safety plans in January, I am sure it will be considered. But while I doubt we will be announcing a cap, it really isn't my call.

2. Not as much as I used to, honestly. For a while, it had got easier because of FIOS carrying the Funimation channel; I was able to pop on the TV and watch a few shows like Mushi-shi (which I adored), Ouran Host Club, etc. I do tend to favor shorter series these days; the last long series i rally followed closely was FMA and i still havent caught more than two episodes of BROTHERHOOD, and the stackmof anime i bought but havnet watched is growing. I tend to mainline it for a month or two, usually just after Tokyo Anime Fest or Otakon when I am feeling the mood. but I find my spare time limited, and I like to watch tv while working, so it is most likely to be dubs and they are fewer and farher between lately.

I did recently watch Kids On The Slope, and loved it. Same with Summer Wars, and the stuff Shinkai had done.

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I hope this isn't too personal, but...

How did you first get into anime?

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I hope this isn't too personal, but...

How did you first get into anime?

I used to race home from elementary school and watch the last few minutes of Speed Racer when I was a kid, and then Battle of the Planets (aka Gatchaman), and then Robotech when I could. In college, I had some friends who showed me lots of Saint Seiya, Kimagure Orange Road, and Urusei Yatsura and Maison Ikkoku -- but we didn't even have subtitles for most of those; someone had pulled translations from usenet (back when you could only get Internet through government or universities). But my first proper anime addiction as an adult was Ranma 1/2. It was all downhill after that!

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Are you, or have you ever been... a Cosplayer?

Rarely, and never for anime (not that I wouldn't ever, just that I don't have the time or burning desire). However, my friend and I went as time lords to Gallifrey one year and the costumes took an award. Having some good friends who are very talented professional costume designers, you would think I would do it more often...

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I have pictures of him as the Master from the Doctor Who: Movie, you know, the costume Eric Roberts wore. :)

It's a sight to behold indeed.

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Do you have a contact at AvexMode/Avex Records (record label of Do As Infinity, among many others I assume)? I know I wouldn't be the only one to want DAI to come to the con as (a) musical guest. They're awesome. They just released two albums this year (DAI X and Time Machine, both of which are excellent), and it'd be awesome to have them at Otakon one year, possibly for the 20th anniversary celebration. I know and I bet it'll be epic, but yeah.

So with that as the preface....

...Is there any chance you can get DAI to come to Otakon 2013? I know it's gotta do with 'who's available' etc, but I thought it was worth a shot to ask.

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I have a question for you Jim. Why are you so awesome?

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Half Human, Half Time Lord. All Jim.

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what is the √-1

You said ask alabaster you did not say what to ask.

Therefore nonsense and absurd questions should be par for the course.

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Are you the Keymaster?

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Are you the Keymaster?

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Here's my question: Any chance of Gofers being able to choose their badge next year when they check in? This year we were handed Haruka and her Magic Mirror. I've got nothing against Haruka, she seems like a fine, upstanding girl, but I probably would have gone with the Eureka 7 AO badge if I had been given a choice.

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has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?

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Do you have a contact at AvexMode/Avex Records (record label of Do As Infinity, among many others I assume)? I know I wouldn't be the only one to want DAI to come to the con as (a) musical guest. They're awesome. They just released two albums this year (DAI X and Time Machine, both of which are excellent), and it'd be awesome to have them at Otakon one year, possibly for the 20th anniversary celebration. I know and I bet it'll be epic, but yeah.

So with that as the preface....

...Is there any chance you can get DAI to come to Otakon 2013? I know it's gotta do with 'who's available' etc, but I thought it was worth a shot to ask.

Apologies for not having replied -- for some reason, these didn't show up for me.

Yes, we have contacts at Avex. And yes, DAI has come up on our radar before. The timing and deal has just never come to fruition, and I think they're focused more on their career in Japan than on reaching out to the US. That is often the case, and it can vary from artist to artist, management group to management group, and label to label.

We do have history with Avex; we worked with them to bring AAA a few years ago, and that was overall pretty positive, so I'd characterize our relationship as "positive", if not particularly active. Without getting too specific, Avex's approach to US engagements seems to be focused more on booking paying gigs than on reaching a new audience via conventions, which makes it challenging for us to bring their artists as guests. (And some of the management groups have unrealistic expectations about how lucrative a US appearance ought to be, which is a problem that goes beyond just Avex.) But things change and it's a tricky thing to keep tabs on.

Otakon has never followed a traditional "hire a group of performers" paradigm for its shows -- we've pitched ourselves as an ideal place to reach a new audience or to build ties with US/international fans, and we've made good on those expectations more often than not. This has enabled us to support both acts that can fill the Tokyo Dome, and acts that have only played small clubs. Musical groups don't always have long shelf lives, and they are motivated to strike while the iron is hot -- so if it's a choice between being booked in Japan (even if to a small crowd, if they're likely to make $5k on the appearance), or appearing here where the likely immediate payout is low and there are few guarantees, they are often going to opt for the sure thing.

It's scary risking your brand in a foreign land. Somewhere out there is a great interview someone did with Yoshiki, talking about the scary prospect of re-booting X-Japan and approaching a new audience in the US and international waters. Remember that these guys were *insanely* successful in Japan in their heyday, but virtually unknown in the US outside a tiny niche -- so for them it was almost like starting over after a 20-year career.

And I guess I'll confirm that DAI is *not* currently planned for 2013.

I have a question for you Jim. Why are you so awesome?

I ate all my brocolli like a good boy when I was a little kid. And I watched PBS a lot.

Blondes, brunettes, or red heads?

Yes.

what is the √-1

You said ask alabaster you did not say what to ask.

Therefore nonsense and absurd questions should be par for the course.

If I answered that question for you, it would take all the fun out of watching you humans try to reach the answer yourselves. :)

Are you the Keymaster?

Nope. I have been the Dungeon Master, though.

Are you the Keymaster?

Woah! Only the Gatekeeper should be asking that and... you're male?

(I DON'T want to know where the gate is... I DON'T want to know where the gate is...)

We're both pretty secure in our manhoods.

And neither of us look anything like Rick Moranis or Sigourney Weaver.

(And if someone asks me if I'm a god, I know to say YES.)

Here's my question: Any chance of Gofers being able to choose their badge next year when they check in? This year we were handed Haruka and her Magic Mirror. I've got nothing against Haruka, she seems like a fine, upstanding girl, but I probably would have gone with the Eureka 7 AO badge if I had been given a choice.

Ah, this one's easy:

I don't know.

Seriously, I'm not involved in badging or in gofers; I don't have the bandwidth right now to pay attention to it, but I will say that we have been discussing a great many possible changes to badges for everyone in general. I just don't remember where those discussions are at the moment -- I am more focused on my existing workload!

has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?

Could you repeat that question in some form of recognizable English, please? You've managed to defeat my internal parser and I don't have a clue what you're asking.

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First o' all Happy Holidays & Berry Christmas to all the Otakon goers out there. Well, this faerie's been curiosified by what's possibly going down for 2013, but I have a little question because of it--since there's a planned Saturday concert plus the triumphant return of MAT3K, does this mean all fashion show(s) ya will be looking to house will be in the daytime to make room for them??

Else, While I feel I'm not going to have a merry Christmas myself, I'd still like to ask how you commander will be celebrating your merry day yes. That's all for now.

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I just found out I may not be able to go I may be with my GF who is currently 9 weeks pregnant!

Someone is playing a cosmic joke and is going to allow me to be a dad.

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All things considered, New Child awesomness > Otakon awesomeness, so Congrats! happy.png

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Good think YOU think its awesome I'm scared and wondering what kind of god puts a kid in harms way like that.

my house is a death trap. The Dog hair alone approaches lethal levels.

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First o' all Happy Holidays & Berry Christmas to all the Otakon goers out there. Well, this faerie's been curiosified by what's possibly going down for 2013, but I have a little question because of it--since there's a planned Saturday concert plus the triumphant return of MAT3K, does this mean all fashion show(s) ya will be looking to house will be in the daytime to make room for them??

Else, While I feel I'm not going to have a merry Christmas myself, I'd still like to ask how you commander will be celebrating your merry day yes. That's all for now.

Clarification: the MAT3K is a special one-time event for the 20th. It's not returning permanently.

Most programming decisions haven't been made yet.

I celebrated by working myself to death cleaning and cooking and entertaining family.

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[sigh] Sounds like it must have been a long & laborous Christmas for you. Well, thanks and I shall look forward to what this early surprise is yes!

To Joecrouse: Congratulations! I pray for a fine & healthy child for you and your girl. :)

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Honest answer: how many times have you seen The Hobbit, and how much did you gloat about having actually been to the Shire?

Twice, and rather a lot.

 

There is one scene early on, where the camera is just along the front path by Bag End's main door, and I've stood in that spot and I think I have a photo from the same spot.  And that, as much as anything, made me squee...

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Question: How is Bronycon being the weekend beforehand going to affect setup if it does at all? With a con as big as Otakon I would think it would take a substantial amount of time to get everything in place.

 

Silly Question: For how many years you have been involved with Otakon, What is the most awkward thing you have seen at the con, and what is the most awesome?

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Actually ill take this one if Jim doesn't mind- no, Bronycon won't affect our load in. They will most likely load out Sunday and at latest Monday. This will not interfere with our load in and set up. So no worries there. :)

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Question: How is Bronycon being the weekend beforehand going to affect setup if it does at all? With a con as big as Otakon I would think it would take a substantial amount of time to get everything in place.

 

Silly Question: For how many years you have been involved with Otakon, What is the most awkward thing you have seen at the con, and what is the most awesome?

 

Yup, Lauren's the right person to answer the first one.

I started attending in 1996, started gofering in 1999, and joined staff in 2002. 

Hmmm. Most awkward....I once misunderstood a guest's request and looked into finding some female companionship for him. (Lest anyone worry overmuch, we merely located the appropriate phone number and an idea of pricing, and then had it ready for hand-off.)

Most awesome? Every year, when we pull off that next awesome thing. :)

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Question: How is Bronycon being the weekend beforehand going to affect setup if it does at all? With a con as big as Otakon I would think it would take a substantial amount of time to get everything in place.

 

Silly Question: For how many years you have been involved with Otakon, What is the most awkward thing you have seen at the con, and what is the most awesome?

 

Yup, Lauren's the right person to answer the first one.

I started attending in 1996, started gofering in 1999, and joined staff in 2002. 

Hmmm. Most awkward....I once misunderstood a guest's request and looked into finding some female companionship for him. (Lest anyone worry overmuch, we merely located the appropriate phone number and an idea of pricing, and then had it ready for hand-off.)

Most awesome? Every year, when we pull off that next awesome thing. smile.png

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Any silly New Year's Resolutions?

They're all silly.

 

Honestly? I'm trying to shed some of the extra weight I carry, so "pay  more attention to what you eat", and "eat less and exercise more" are in my cards for the future.

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Any chance of getting Panels (or other events) into one of the main exhibition halls this year?  Or perhaps making one or two of the halls more multi-purpose?  

 

It seems like Video 1 is packed for the big premiers and for the AMV contests, but has a lot of times where it's only half full, especially in the afternoon on Friday.  Seems like you can toss some panels, MAT3K, game shows, etc in there as well.  

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Any chance of getting Panels (or other events) into one of the main exhibition halls this year?  Or perhaps making one or two of the halls more multi-purpose?  

 

It seems like Video 1 is packed for the big premiers and for the AMV contests, but has a lot of times where it's only half full, especially in the afternoon on Friday.  Seems like you can toss some panels, MAT3K, game shows, etc in there as well.  

In a word: Probably.   We have done that to some extent in the past, but as you probably know, it's difficult (if not impossible) to predict what will draw crowds and what won't -- and our crunch point is really in the ~1000 person size rooms. 

 

I can promise you that this year we WILL try some new things -- I have some ideas after running programming last year, and they mesh well (so far!) with Scott's inclination (Scott = Scott Argenziano, last year's president and 2011's programming chief, returning for 2013).  I will refrain from spoilers (don't want to steal Scott's thunder, or Terry's), but some of the ideas are pretty neat and by February or March you'll probably start hearing about them.

 

But I think it is safe to say, for now, that we'll be looking for ways to use a space that  we typically don't have the ability to multi-purpose. 

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I asked this in the Q&A section but didn't get a response.

 

Regarding the "nunchaku" policy, I have some ideas that I want to see if they would be allowed. (The weapon is Blackstar's chain scythe from Soul Eater).

1. Can one stick have a chain permanently attached to it then the other end of the chain have a clasp that could be hooked (just for pictures) and unhooked?

2. If #1 is a no, could I connect the two sticks with paper?  Two examples I have thought of are, party streamer paper or paper chain (make a ring with a strip of paper then another that connects with the first one and so on)

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Alabaster,

 

If one wanted to become a mod, how active would they need to be and at what times? Responsibility is a must, but I was wondering if there was a way to help out in the future. Thanks!

 

Duelit

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I asked this in the Q&A section but didn't get a response.

 

Regarding the "nunchaku" policy, I have some ideas that I want to see if they would be allowed. (The weapon is Blackstar's chain scythe from Soul Eater).

1. Can one stick have a chain permanently attached to it then the other end of the chain have a clasp that could be hooked (just for pictures) and unhooked?

2. If #1 is a no, could I connect the two sticks with paper?  Two examples I have thought of are, party streamer paper or paper chain (make a ring with a strip of paper then another that connects with the first one and so on)

 

Sorry, you'll have to ask this one in the appropriate area of our forum -- it's not something that falls under my area of expertise. (My gut says you're on the right track, by making the items easy to take apart and considering alterations that minimize the inherent danger, but you'll have to run it past the people who actually know what they're talking about regarding the specifics.)

Alabaster,

 

If one wanted to become a mod, how active would they need to be and at what times? Responsibility is a must, but I was wondering if there was a way to help out in the future. Thanks!

 

Duelit

I believe you have to be on staff to be a forum mod; I know that used to be the case but it's possible that Dr. The Minion's recent updates may have opened up some more sophisticated options.

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Have you ever done wotagei?

 

Nope. Seen it in operation, but had no idea what it was until I looked it up. :)

 

Actually, I take that back -- I probably did a bit of it at the Morning Musume show in LA a few years ago, but that's more of an "everyone else is chanting this and I might as well join in since it's obvious enough" thing. Sometimes you just kinda go with the flow, right?   But honestly that was more because I'd met the girls that morning and was up front where I could be seen, and thus stood a chance of being recognized. I'm tough to miss, and wanted to not look too out of place.

 

FWIW, while I genuinely like musicians and can enjoy most any live performance, I'm not really into the whole "idol" culture at all -- hence my personal WTF-ness with Vocaloid and similar stuff.  That's just my personal feelings, though, and as I've pointed out, my own tastes are not the template for Otakon's guests.

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Has Otakon ever had a bjd (ball jointed doll) panel? 

 

I guess the panel would be about basic care, and or information for first time owners?

 

Yup. I think we manage at least one most years, but it depends on whether any were submitted.

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Just a curious question:

 

Have you ever taken donations to the con for guests from private backers? Like say someone wanted to donate $20,000 to get a certain guest OR just for more guests in general?

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Just a curious question:

 

Have you ever taken donations to the con for guests from private backers? Like say someone wanted to donate $20,000 to get a certain guest OR just for more guests in general?

 

We'll accept donations happily (and even give you a letter for tax purposes), but they've got to either be no-strings-attached, or grants.  We wouldn't tie it to a particular guest.  Setting up that sort of quid pro quo is a dangerous precedent.  Otakon's always had an uneasy relationship with direct sponsorship and the associated strings.

 

We do our best to make fandom at Otakon fairly democratic -- you can't buy your way past the line, and once you've paid your dues, it's your passion and dedication that determine what events you get into, not your wallet.  We have done very limited experiments with paid side events, such as the charity signing with Uematsu, but even then it was for a worthy cause, not for general access.  By fans, for fans, right? 

 

I won't lie; we've had to turn down occasional cool opportunities to stay within budget, and we do our damnedest to keep costs under control. $20k can be a huge help, especially for J-guests with pricey flights, and especially this year.

 

FWIW, The bulk of our general costs are in the facilities and tech we outfit the place with.  Guests are a significant cost primarily because of the cost of airfare and catering, but it's the cost of renting three big buildings and loading them with technology that eats the majority of our budget.

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Funny that you mention the letter for tax purposes, I just sent an e-mail in through the website about that. I bought something from the Charity Auction last year and was hoping to get some documentation for tax deduction purposes. Could you poke the appropriate person and ask them to get back to me?

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That is a pretty damn good explanation sir.  I've been curious about that too since you folk are a non-profit.

 

I wanted to follow on what you said about operating costs.  You say that the majority of the annual budget goes to actually using the facilities, and what I assume is all the A/V & electrical.  Have there been any solutions acted on by the Otakorp to reduce those tech costs while minimalizing the impact toward guests & Otakon goers?

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That is a pretty damn good explanation sir.  I've been curious about that too since you folk are a non-profit.

 

I wanted to follow on what you said about operating costs.  You say that the majority of the annual budget goes to actually using the facilities, and what I assume is all the A/V & electrical.  Have there been any solutions acted on by the Otakorp to reduce those tech costs while minimalizing the impact toward guests & Otakon goers?

 

I'll see if we can get a high-level budget breakdown for a typical year.  But yes, we have kept them fairly level -- but we've also been upgrading to HD as the cost slowly lowers, and we've got a lot more facilities now than we did in 2006 when I was chair. And we have put out some competitive bids, but there are relatively few folks who really understand our needs and have the capacity to fulfill them. And they're sort of reasonable.

 

The costs that are harder to control are the costs involved in staffing the con -- housing and feeding our all-volunteer staff is costly. We are to some extent prisoners of the market (hotel rooms in most east coast cities are pricier than rooms in resort towns) and our own growth, and we're too big to do things the way we used to. (Catering is a major pain point, but we simply cannot feed 600+ people any other way.)

 

For GR, the worst of it is, hands down, the cost of airfare from Japan. And because musical acts involve more people....  well, not too long from now you'll see why I had a mild panic attack when I was doing the numbers for this year's show.

 

The one thing that is constant is that we pump every dollar we can into things you can see and benefit from.

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