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alabaster

Alabaster's Q&A (NOT guest requests!)

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So we had a little fun with this once before, and apparently there was interest in doing it again.

 

So I'll just preface it with the following ground rules:

 

I may or may not answer your question, and will gleefully evade answers about upcoming guests with no guilt whatsoever.

 

Don't be rude. I still wield the might of Mjolnir the Ban Hammer. :)

 

If you ask a boring question, I may make fun of you (but not in a mean way). If you ask a question that's in the FAQ or we've answered a million times and you ought to know better, I'll call you on it. Beyond that, have fun.

 

If you ask a really interesting question or spark a cool discussion, I may send you something from my Bin Of Stuff.  (The Bin of Stuff is where all the little odd bits and pieces  -- merchandise samples, etc. typically -- that wind up in my hands eventually go.  You never know what will wind up in there but I'll throw a bunch in a box and mail it to you.)

 

I will not be here constantly -- there's a LOT of stuff happening behind the scenes, and I take more time away nowadays than I used to.

 

 

So with that said, Ask Away!

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What... is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow? (Already been answered) sleep.png

 

Annually, on average how many times must you make a round-trip flight to some remote location in order to woo potential guests? What percentages of said "wooing" involves just email, snail mail, Skype, or actual face-to-face after an excruciating plane ride? Does Otakorp cover the transportation fees for such boondoggles fishing expeditions torture sessions business trips? wink.png

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What's the most difficult guest negotiation you've undertaken and what was involved in finally making the deal (that you can reveal)?

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What... is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow? (Already been answered) sleep.png

 

Annually, on average how many times must you make a round-trip flight to some remote location in order to woo potential guests? What percentages of said "wooing" involves just email, snail mail, Skype, or actual face-to-face after an excruciating plane ride? Does Otakorp cover the transportation fees for such boondoggles fishing expeditions torture sessions business trips? wink.png

 

Keeping in touch with industry and guest contacts is an important, but sometimes expensive, part of the job. MOST communication is by email, facebook, chat, skype, and phone.

 

But that said, there's no substitute for face to face.  Luckily, Otakorp has built a pretty robust presence at many cons.  We have staff officially representing our convention at about a dozen events in the US -- smaller teams where we have to cover flights and don't have locals, larger ones where we've got easy access. In many cases, there's a table in the dealers room, sometimes a photo booth, and occasionally a con chair or other exec level staffer acting as a sort of ambassador.

 

Way back in 2005, I convinced the board to send two of us to Tokyo Anime Fair, and that has really paid off for us, though it's not cheap.  These days, we send over about half a dozen folks -- at minimum, it's usually two senior GR staffers, two interpreters, and 1-2 members of the President/ConChair level.  (Bringing someone with a card that says President or Vice President is very useful because Japanese tend to put like with like and thus we meet with pretty senior folks.).  This year we'll actually have two trips, with a booth at the fall one, hitting the two major anime/manga/music shows. 

 

Once we're there, it's fun, but also a LOT of hard work -- we usually have 2-3 meetings per day scheduled before we hit the ground, and tend to pick up more as the week progresses.  Of course, some meetings are things like "go to onsen with Maruyama" or "have dinner with former guest" stuff, which I have to confess is both fun and work.  But there are also lots of meetings where it's the first time and we have to make a good impression, or where we're asking for something big, and those can be a little stressful.  These days we know a LOT more people and getting a half hour of their time is much easier than it used to be.  Many years we've found ourselves slammed all the way through the show we're theoretically there to go to -- only to barely see the show because you're connecting with folks there or nearby.

 

For LA (and now NY)...and I suspect for other cons, Otakon, the advantage is a lot of industry presence at a show where I am not actually working.  So you snag meetings or participate in industry gatherings as you can over the course of the weekend. That happens to a lesser extent at many mid-size cons as well.  The plans for Space Dandy were actually largely worked out at NYCC last year, over lunch one day.

 

A lot of my job is schmoozing, AKA networking, and at this point I've been doing it long enough that most of the industry people know who I am and that's kind of fun.  And while it sounds like it's a blast to go hang out with actors and directors and producers and whatnot, it's actually pretty tough to strike the right balance between a vibe of "hanging out with friends" and "makilng strategic alliances and plans".

 

So yeah. That' what Otakon covers.  But I usually go to LA in February for Gallifrey, and since I'm there, I try to meet with various LA-based folks.  Typically I invite industry/guest folks I know to meet up someplace, and Otakon buys a round of drinks and a few appetizers. Very informal, but also very productive -- plus I get to visit with people I like.  That's in addition to more formal meetings that get arranged to take care of specific con business.  Same with NYC -- if I'm there, I'll usually try to connect with folks like Tom Wayland or Lisa Ortiz, etc. who are NYC based.

 

But the first few trips were VERY hard sells -- and there are still some folks who think that all we do is play on the company dime. In reality, it's cramming my 6'5 body into economy class for 13+ hours, jet lag, working and walking 9am to 11pm and 10+ miles per day of walking, plus being able to pitch your event or talk about specifics (via translator) to half a dozen people every day for a week.  It's not cheap, but we were the first to really bring our A-game out there and we have a lot of credibility as a result -- and it's because of those things that we had the year we had last year.  I've been to Tokyo for Otakon 8 times, but I've only made it outside of Tokyo once (with Terry for a one-day trip to Kyoto) in all those visits. Nearly all the time is spent going from meeting to meeting, or waiting, or rescheduling.  I can walk parts of tokyo blindfolded, though, and I know where all the useful places near Tokyo Big Sight are. 

 

And just to clarify, I"m NOT the only one who does this sort of outreach -- "team chair" and "team Prez" usually participate, and there are some folks who you'll often see at the dealers room in other cons who are also making connections behind the scenes.  It's a pretty small industry and word gets around. 

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What's the most difficult guest negotiation you've undertaken and what was involved in finally making the deal (that you can reveal)?

 

Hmmm. Tough question.

 

Sometimes you have difficult management or other go-betweens. Sometimes you have guests who simply aren't easy to deal with. And sometimes, it's all about nailing difficult logistics.

 

Kanno's performance was a case in point.  Willing guest, but a lot of things were new, including her producer, and they hadn't tried something like this before -- technical challenges included things like finding a white full concert grand piano (there are only two of the type needed and neither was available, so we got a black one and flew over a specialist to coat it in special fabric.  But actually the negotiations weren't difficult so much as the sorting out of specific performance details.  And there were some early confusions to be ironed out.

 

Getting TMR and HMKU was another one -- both guests were up for it and happy to do it, and Sony wanted to make it happen, so there was momentum.  But arguably both of them are bigger stars now than when they were last at Otakon, and that meant, among other things, a meeting with about 15 people with very impressive titles, making sure we had our act together, in Japan months before the con. 

 

As for guests, I'm not going to tell you which ones were difficult personally, but there are a few.  Some are just annoying to deal with because of managers or assistants or personal disorganization. At least one guest I have encountered (and not necessarily at Otakon) has, i think, some serious mental issues that need therapy and probably medication.  It happens.

 

My least favorite are the folks who essentially waste my time -- people who offer something and then back out before it comes to pass, or who express interest and then aren't available after all. There's a few out there like that, too.

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When do you guys usually start looking for guests for the con like right after the con's date or do you talk to the next years guests as you try to convince a current years guest to come? Or is like a few months after a years con?

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Ok. Onsen with Maruyama? Is it just the onsen or was that also dinner? How was it and would you recommend it (and where?)

 

Would be nice to find more Tokyo-area onsens worth going to. I know there's the one in Odaiba that is kind of popular, but would like to know more for future references in case I can squeeze such a thing in.

 

Also, LINE? You must have LINE right? Doesn't everyone use it nowadays...

 

Slightly more serious question: I know a few guys who are doing a startup trying to work with some Japanese artists (illustrators, musicians, writers I guess) localizing their stuff. They were thinking how to work out an opportunity with a convention to share the burden, so to speak, of bringing the guest over, in that they have the connection and opportunity but will require some support etc. Can you share on how that generally happens with not just Otakon but other cons as well? It seems that typically happens with exception to some Cali cons.

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When do you guys usually start looking for guests for the con like right after the con's date or do you talk to the next years guests as you try to convince a current years guest to come? Or is like a few months after a years con?

 

Depends on the guest.  Musical guests take longer.  There are often false starts and early cancellations before you guys ever hear about them.

 

Some guests we chase for years. 

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Ok. Onsen with Maruyama? Is it just the onsen or was that also dinner? How was it and would you recommend it (and where?)

 

Would be nice to find more Tokyo-area onsens worth going to. I know there's the one in Odaiba that is kind of popular, but would like to know more for future references in case I can squeeze such a thing in.

 

Also, LINE? You must have LINE right? Doesn't everyone use it nowadays...

 

Slightly more serious question: I know a few guys who are doing a startup trying to work with some Japanese artists (illustrators, musicians, writers I guess) localizing their stuff. They were thinking how to work out an opportunity with a convention to share the burden, so to speak, of bringing the guest over, in that they have the connection and opportunity but will require some support etc. Can you share on how that generally happens with not just Otakon but other cons as well? It seems that typically happens with exception to some Cali cons.

 

Honestly, Maruyama is an onsen junkie (and a foodie), so usually he comes up with something, we show up at the appointed place, and pile into a car, and go.  The one we went to this time was about 2 hours out of downtown, with a view of Mount Fuji. So yeah, the facilities were okay, but rustic -- the view was spectacular.

 

I'm not sure any of them have been in the main area of Tokyo.

 

I don't really understand your other question.  It would depend on the opportunity, the guest, the reason, etc.

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I'm just curious, what was the fabric used on the piano?  From where I sat it kinda looked like a lamb's fleece.

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Was there ever a time you sent out requests to multiple guests, and had so many accept that you then had to go back and retract some of your original requests?  Or is your methodology for inviting guests ask one at a time to avoid such situations? 

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Honestly, Maruyama is an onsen junkie (and a foodie), so usually he comes up with something, we show up at the appointed place, and pile into a car, and go.  The one we went to this time was about 2 hours out of downtown, with a view of Mount Fuji. So yeah, the facilities were okay, but rustic -- the view was spectacular.

 

I'm not sure any of them have been in the main area of Tokyo.

 

I don't really understand your other question.  It would depend on the opportunity, the guest, the reason, etc.

 

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I'm just curious, what was the fabric used on the piano?  From where I sat it kinda looked like a lamb's fleece.

 

It was specially made light-handling fabric that absorbed some of the light to prevent it whiting out on the cameras, I think, but I don't know the details.  Unfortunately it'll be difficult to find out now because our contact is extremely busy.

Was there ever a time you sent out requests to multiple guests, and had so many accept that you then had to go back and retract some of your original requests?  Or is your methodology for inviting guests ask one at a time to avoid such situations? 

 

I tend to ask in waves to avoid the situation you describe.  So I'll budget for, say, 6 japanese guests, and I'll invite four in the first round. Maybe 3 accept, and then I know I have 3 slots available.

 

Occasionally we have surprises, but I budget for *some* surprises -- which gives us flexibility for last-minute additions.

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Honestly, Maruyama is an onsen junkie (and a foodie), so usually he comes up with something, we show up at the appointed place, and pile into a car, and go.  The one we went to this time was about 2 hours out of downtown, with a view of Mount Fuji. So yeah, the facilities were okay, but rustic -- the view was spectacular.

 

I'm not sure any of them have been in the main area of Tokyo.

 

I don't really understand your other question.  It would depend on the opportunity, the guest, the reason, etc.

 

 

Let me rephrase my question. Let's say some company like FUNi or Aniplex wants to bring over a guest for whatever the reason. They would typically work with the con, and I guess they are guests for the con, right? How does that process begin? I guess they just approach you etc? And supposedly a new company wants to do this, they should also talk to you?

 

As for onsen, my impression is that most of the ones in Tokyo proper are closer to spas than actual onsens. A 2-hr drive out covers a lot of ground, but that sounds about right, there are quite a few good ones west of the city.

 

 

Ah, gotcha. 

 

We have working relationships with Funimation, Aniplex, Viz, Sentai, etc. that we maintain year after year.  We speak with them often enough that when they know something, they let us know.  but the exact arrangements vary quite a bit; there's no hard and fast rule beyond what I'm comfortable with really. I will decline guests that are offered, if I don't think they're worth the cost, but that's rarely what we're offered.  But sometimes marketing plans change.  

We also maintain relationships with many of the studios in Japan, and look for ways to work together. Sometimes they'll come to us with suggestions, once they get to know us.

Last year we'd planned for two SAO guests starting shortly after Otakon 2012, firming up details here and there until announcement.  But some of the later guests and the Oreimo premiere were late additions beyond what we'd agreed to, so Aniplex footed the lion's share of their cost.

 

For a new company, they'd approach us through the website or at another con, we'd talk about the specifics, and we'd decide on the merits.  Pretty much the same way we book anyone.  If someone has a beeline to a particularly sought-after guest, and can back it up, great! I'll certainly give it a listen.

 

Then there's Peter Beagle, who just likes coming, and whose sponsor (Conlan Press) is happy to foot the bill for what is typically a very useful and profitable visit (as his usual line will attest).  We list him as an industry-sponsored guest, and he occasionally hangs out in the green room when he's not busy in the dealer's room, but primarily stays with friends in the area. That's an option too. 

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Thanks for the answer! That was quite helpful.

 

Kind of related to that question--how does Otakon figure out or otherwise gauge people's interests in guests? Especially after the fact? Is attendance the main thing?

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When was a time you were most surprised by a guest and what they offered during Otakon? Better said, did any guests positively impact you in any ways you didn't expect?

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This probably reveals I'm an archivist by trade, but I always wondered.

 

What's Otakorp's record management and retention system like? Do y'all have a process for holding onto all the correspondence, contracts, and other things for the future (even to donate to an archive, someday), formal or informal?

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Thanks for the answer! That was quite helpful.

 

Kind of related to that question--how does Otakon figure out or otherwise gauge people's interests in guests? Especially after the fact? Is attendance the main thing?

 

Well, the guest suggestion thread is a great start, and so is the overall popularity/sales/viewing stats of particular shows, but popularity isn't the only reason we bring guests.  Relevance matters more to me; it's not hard to find a few guests that will be relevant and popular, and some that are worth bringing for reasons beyond core popularity.

 

You'll see (hopefully) some guests that are a little outside the norm for us this year, but they'll be relevant.

 

There are great guests that draw small crowds -- we had Noboru Ishiguro was here twice and didn't have huge crowds either time, but the man was a titan of the industry and mentored many of the other giants.  Absolutely worth bringing.

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When was a time you were most surprised by a guest and what they offered during Otakon? Better said, did any guests positively impact you in any ways you didn't expect?

 

Sure. I won't rat them out, but there are a bunch of guests I'm tempted to bring purely so we can chat about Doctor Who in the green room. :)

 

Over the years, I've become friends with some folks, beyond just the "professional" relationship, and that, to me, is probably the most rewarding part of the gig.  

 

And hey, I'm human.  Overhearing someone you really respect saying something really nice about you (either in public, or when they don't know it will be repeated to you) is a thing that never gets old.

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This probably reveals I'm an archivist by trade, but I always wondered.

 

What's Otakorp's record management and retention system like? Do y'all have a process for holding onto all the correspondence, contracts, and other things for the future (even to donate to an archive, someday), formal or informal?

 

That's one that I will be a little careful about weighing in on, partly because it's evolving and partly because I don't have to manage it personally. 

 

We do a lot of work electronically, so centralized email, centralized/cloud storage for key records, offsite copies of any legal documentation, boxes of stuff at the office, and plenty of personal files and backups.  We're trying to get more formal about some of those processes, but we do okay.

 

Personally, I have bins of contracts and receipts and reports in a bunch of places around my house, plus a big tub at the office.

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I got another one.

 

Remember Saolilith? How did she get to be a guest at Otakon? There are a couple cons that ship Japanese DJs over for a good time, what's your perspective on that?

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What do you think is the biggest myth or misconception about your department, or running a anime convention in general?

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This is something that I've always been curious about. Since Ota is a larger convention(Who would have thought so?) do you find it easier to book guests based on the weight that the name carries or are guests more hesitant to approach a convention of this size? And have you ever had to reject possible guests?

 

What do you think is the biggest myth or misconception about your department, or running a anime convention in general?

 

(It's got to be the mass orgies)tongue.png

 

 

We call those "Reg lines" :P

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I got another one.

 

Remember Saolilith? How did she get to be a guest at Otakon? There are a couple cons that ship Japanese DJs over for a good time, what's your perspective on that?

 

That was easy.  Sony asked us if they could bring her and promote her as a guest, and I asked the Dance folks if they were up for it, and we decided to give it a try. Always a case by case basis, and often "celebrity DJs" tend to not be the real deal, so it's always up to the Dance folks. (At Otakon, at any rate, it's a different division than guests.)

 

Other cons can do what they wish, but for Otakon, we tend to have a strong DJ lineup without spending thousands of dollars in airfare to bring people in.  In other words, Hope and her crew have done a solid job for long time and I see no reason to change something that already works. 

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What do you think is the biggest myth or misconception about your department, or running a anime convention in general?

 

Well, we aren't rolling in money, that's for sure. There's one myth gone!

 

One I get annoyed at having to dispel is the idea that we're paid.  We aren't, not at Otakon, not for any of the leadership or staff. All volunteers.

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This is something that I've always been curious about. Since Ota is a larger convention(Who would have thought so?) do you find it easier to book guests based on the weight that the name carries or are guests more hesitant to approach a convention of this size? And have you ever had to reject possible guests?

 

What do you think is the biggest myth or misconception about your department, or running a anime convention in general?

 

(It's got to be the mass orgies)tongue.png

 

 

We call those "Reg lines" tongue.png

 

 

Cute.:)

 

 

As for size being a barrier or help:  it's not so much the size as it is the longevity and the reputation. Our size means industry gets good value out of dealing with us and promoting through us (and we obtain good benefits for our members by working with them).  Under 5000 people and Industry can't justify the expense involved in direct participation. Over 25k and they pretty much have to have SOME presence.

 

Every year I get tons of people who want to be guests.  It's an enviable position to be in, but it also means saying No to a lot of people.

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Other cons can do what they wish, but for Otakon, we tend to have a strong DJ lineup without spending thousands of dollars in airfare to bring people in.  In other words, Hope and her crew have done a solid job for long time and I see no reason to change something that already works. 

 

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How crazy did you have to work to get T.M. Revolution Last year. I just need to know how much I owe you for the awesomeness.

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How crazy did you have to work to get T.M. Revolution Last year. I just need to know how much I owe you for the awesomeness.

About 2-3 years ago we started talking. We have long stayed in touch with TMR and HMKU, and our ties with Sony have been strong for ages. Luckily they were keen to do it, but both are busy and it took some scheduling work on their end...the biggest issue for us was that we had to plan for the Arena and that meant setting aside some cash for a few years to pay for the increased cost of the show.

After it was clear it could happen, it was just the usual difficulties of planning a large show, though the confetti cannon during the finale was one of the items that went through a lot of changes over time. For a while it was a balloon drop but not surprisingly it is more expensive and time consuming to plant a zillion balloons 60 feet in the air. We ruled out pyrotechnics pretty early, partly due to insurance and safety concerns, but also partly because it didn't feel like a birthday thing. TMR asked for a catwalk because he likes getting out there in the midst of his fans, and the HMKU boys do too. Scheduling was tough too because we were doing our MAT3K on Friday and needed to schedule around the Masquerade, and we needed rehearsal time too.

Did I mention that the show required about 35 people to fly from Japan?

By contrast, Kanno's show was designed for intimacy to create a different feel -- I wanted to show that we could go big with a full arena rock show, but also create magic on the smaller scale. We quickly realized we had to simulcast that or face a riot, but the show would not have scaled well to the arena, even if it had been available. Ishikawa was kind enough to agree to open the show, which at one point was a little short. Then Kanno's team showed us what they were doing with the light display....

Now you get a sense of why we don't do mega-shows like that very often. :)

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All I know is you are now my new God. Now I must punish the infidels who belive not in Alabaster-Okami. To the war room!!

(Totally serious, i did miss the confetti cannon part but it was amazing and reflects your ability to put these together. If I knew Japanese I would be trampling over other people to work with you and your team. But since I don't ill close by saying this makes me appreciate even more the amount of work you guys do. Arigato. )

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Dude, I am SO not taking credit for what is clearly a team effort.  In fact, if you check the program guide, you'll see that a former staffer is credited with getting the ball rolling on that particular concert, and it took a LOT of teamwork to make it a reality. 

 

I am incredibly lucky. I have one of the most experienced, consistent, and generally reliable teams out there -- many of them predate me joining staff, much less being in charge of anything. Most of us have been at this for five or ten years, and while I try to set the tone, provide the vision, and herd the cats, I'd be NOTHING without them.

 

So yeah, i get to be the public face of the team, and the buck stops here, but make no mistake, they really pulled out the stops last year to cover my butt and get things done.

 

You know that scene in Doctor Who, where all the companions in the new series help David Tennant fly the TARDIS home? And he just walks around and occasionally taps a button or encourages someone or nudges them to adjust a bit?  That's how I see this, at least ideally.  I may know what needs to be done but there is no way in hell I could manage it all on my own!

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Ah, so you are David Tenant? Well thank Rose and the rest of them for me too. :)

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Ah, so you are David Tenant? Well thank Rose and the rest of them for me too. smile.png

 

Hah! I'm about 2 or 3 of that scrawny guy.

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This probably reveals I'm an archivist by trade, but I always wondered.

 

What's Otakorp's record management and retention system like? Do y'all have a process for holding onto all the correspondence, contracts, and other things for the future (even to donate to an archive, someday), formal or informal?

 

That's one that I will be a little careful about weighing in on, partly because it's evolving and partly because I don't have to manage it personally. 

 

We do a lot of work electronically, so centralized email, centralized/cloud storage for key records, offsite copies of any legal documentation, boxes of stuff at the office, and plenty of personal files and backups.  We're trying to get more formal about some of those processes, but we do okay.

 

Personally, I have bins of contracts and receipts and reports in a bunch of places around my house, plus a big tub at the office.

 

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I have a question...

 

Is there going to be another over 21 dance (swing dancing last year) at the Hyatt? That was great!! But I think it should be longer say end at 1am? (Last year we were at a panel and only spent about 45 mins at the dance) What would the theme be this year?

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I have a question...

 

Is there going to be another over 21 dance (swing dancing last year) at the Hyatt? That was great!! But I think it should be longer say end at 1am? (Last year we were at a panel and only spent about 45 mins at the dance) What would the theme be this year?

 

Sorry, that's not one of my areas of expertise.  At a guess, I'd say "probably" on the 21+ lounge, but no clue on specifics -- truth is, I don't know either way. That falls under Programming, I believe.  I know there was a very positive response to this last year, but it also takes a bit of work to coordinate with the venue, so I suspect they'll announce something once they lock down specifics.

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Tonight's con work included:

 Two draft performance contracts

 about 15 emails with detailed replies

 one conference call

 a bit of research on possible manga-ka  (long-shot possibility, don't get hopes up)

 

....and a bunch of Ranma 1/2 episodes. :)

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Here's a question...

 

Does JP guest/agencies/etc take into account Baltimore's "safety" as a factor in determining to go to Otakon? The question came up when I was talking with some friends at a con when a couple JP guests there decided to go to that con because the city/area/region was considered safe.

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What was in your opinion what was the biggest convention "Fail" resulting in facepalm  and how did you prevent it from happening again.

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Here's a question...

 

Does JP guest/agencies/etc take into account Baltimore's "safety" as a factor in determining to go to Otakon? The question came up when I was talking with some friends at a con when a couple JP guests there decided to go to that con because the city/area/region was considered safe.

 

I haven't seen it become a factor, though the question has come up once or twice because The Wire and a few other shows made it to Japan. But that strikes me as the sort of thing that might worry particular guests, but not most guests.

What was in your opinion what was the biggest convention "Fail" resulting in facepalm  and how did you prevent it from happening again.

 

Ours or other peoples?

 

And are you talking overall con issues, or guest/industry/press specific?

 

 

At least once a year I grouse about someone not having replied to a fairly urgent email, only to discover that it's still sitting in the DRAFTS folder.

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what I mean alabaster is what individual event during any individual Otakon (as opposed to the whole con) during the 21 year history has been the biggest Charlie Foxtrot (a Charlie Foxtrot is also know as a CF in civilian terms a Cluster F*ck) where nothing went right and it just went completely unrecoverable and you basically wound up pounding your head on the desk for an  hour or two while the aftermath settles out. I mean Murphy not only showed up but he brought his friends and they were very drunk and in a particularly perversely foul mood.  Sometimes these are called "leadership challenges" I mean individual things that have gone so spectacularly bad that you wonder if Seppuku might be warranted.

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what I mean alabaster is what individual event during any individual Otakon (as opposed to the whole con) during the 21 year history has been the biggest Charlie Foxtrot (a Charlie Foxtrot is also know as a CF in civilian terms a Cluster F*ck) where nothing went right and it just went completely unrecoverable and you basically wound up pounding your head on the desk for an  hour or two while the aftermath settles out. I mean Murphy not only showed up but he brought his friends and they were very drunk and in a particularly perversely foul mood.  Sometimes these are called "leadership challenges" I mean individual things that have gone so spectacularly bad that you wonder if Seppuku might be warranted.

 

Ah.  Well, I may have a story or two but honestly most of the real "oh sh**T" moments have been due to things beyond our control or reasonable ability to predict.   I mean, last year's Kanno passes were one of those situations where there simply wasn't much we could do about it -- and other than getting info out there earlier (which wasn't really an option), there isn't much I would change.  Even with hindsight, there was never any chance to satisfy the demand that quickly became apparent, and the simulcast was really the only option. 

 

Which isn't to say we're perfect -- and I certainly am not! -- but there haven't been any massive clusterfarks that were completely unrecoverable, that were down to us, at Otakon that I can think of. TONS of near misses, though, and the majority were recovered due to staffers being awesome. Some folks excel at picking up dropped balls.

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Come on UNCLE Alabaster STORY TIME!

 

Lets here some good ClusterFrack stories!

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Oh, tell the one about the staffer who almost got trampled at the 2004 Le arc en Ceil concert. I forgot which staffer told me thar one but that seems worth while telling. :3

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There were a few of them who nearly suffered Death By Schoolgirl, but those are THEIR stories to tell.  :)

 

I'll try to find a good story that can be shared safely....

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There were a few of them who nearly suffered Death By Schoolgirl, but those are THEIR stories to tell. :)

I'll try to find a good story that can be shared safely....

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I don't want to be that guy, but since no one else has brought it up yet - has Otakon invited Yamamotoyama Ryuta with the full knowledge that he was kicked out of the Nihon Sumo Kyokai several years ago for cheating?

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I don't want to be that guy, but since no one else has brought it up yet - has Otakon invited Yamamotoyama Ryuta with the full knowledge that he was kicked out of the Nihon Sumo Kyokai several years ago for cheating?

 

 

 

Sigh.

 

Yes, I'm aware of it, but no, it didn't really affect my decision. After the response to the sumo stuff at Otakon Vegas, we wanted to bring USA SUMO to Otakon. Byamba has another obligation and Yama was one of the other options. I decided based on personality, and the likelihood that he'd be interesting and good with fans.

 

Of course, I also didn't raise the subject.  While he retired from official competition on the Japanese circuit, my understanding is that he was never actually found guilty of cheating, and he has disputed the charges. However, his career was already suffering due to a string of injuries and accidents, and he may simply have decided it wasn't worth the time and expense of fighting it -- though a few folks involved got their decisions reversed.   

 

If you've seen the effects of rumors on Japanese pop stars' careers (careers have been ruined simply because of association and implication), you get the sense that Japan tends to react aggressively to clean house to remove any possible taint when the hint of scandal surfaces. The Baseball and Tour de France stuff was happening around the same time, so their desire to be seen taking aggressive action is understandable. It's possible he was caught in the crossfire. 

 

Regardless, he's spent considerable time promoting the sport since then, and his experience in that world is certainly valuable.

 

I have no idea how sensitive he is to the subject (I know *I* would be, especially if I felt that I hadn't been fairly judged), but as a rule I tend to avoid pissing off people who are more than twice my size. :)

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I have no idea how sensitive he is to the subject (I know *I* would be, especially if I felt that I hadn't been fairly judged), but as a rule I tend to avoid pissing off people who are more than twice my size. smile.png

 

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