hazelchaz: (Default)

Tiffany (Neo_Serenity) and Arianna Unciano study the menus. Photos online. And most of them have captions. Help me fill in the gaps!
LASFS/Aftermeetings part 354: Coral Cafe (18-Jun-2009) et seq.
LASFS/Aftermeetings part 356: Coral Cafe (25-Jun-2009) et seq.
Irvine Cosplay Picnic at Mason Park (20-Jun-2009)
Anaheim Gardenwalk and the Anaheim Marriott (21-Jun-2009)
Napmobile and a fenderbender (21-Jun-2009)
Anime Los Angeles 6 meetings part 2: Exec Dinner/Meeting (26-Jun-2009) et seq.
Anime Los Angeles 6 meetings part 6: General Meeting (27-Jun-2009) et seq.
Moving Melissa (28-Jun-2009)
Victoria's Picture Gallery: Anime Expo 2009: Saturday (04-Jul-2009)
Melissa and the Fan Gallery cases (11-Jul-2009)
Anaheim Marriott Tour (16-Jul-2009)
La Verne Cosplay Picnic at Las Flores Park (18-Jul-2009)
The picture of [livejournal.com profile] neo_serenity is from the exec dinner.

Losing my camera at Anime Expo really rocked me back... )

Oh, there's more going on than just my emotional state, of course. I've taken more photos since Anime Expo, but the photos in the queue have been on hold because of other non-photo, non-blog reasons. Family health issues and household management issues, and if I can be discarding and shredding old papers any of that comes before puttering around on my website.

I've just spent a few nights (in my copious free time) captioning some of the backlog. I think I've got to stop taking so many group photos -- they slow me down so much in the captioning phase!

I've been putting a few inconsequential updates on my facebook. Nothing major, but I wanted to repeat here the bigger items that I've mentioned there.

The Potluck Party Room at Costume College was a big success, so we'll do it again at PMX... )

Between now and PMX: I'll be at Tiki Oasis this weekend (just for fun), Anime Vegas (in a convention center), and a small anime convention at CSU Northridge. So PMX is the next opportunity to do any kind of hospitality beyond giving away granola bars and candy at our table.

For [livejournal.com profile] loscon, I'm hosting a Confirmation: Westercon 63 party. "Poofy dresses (especially white ones), shirt and tie, or school uniform" will be the dress code. We're toying with the idea of using a "Confirmitzvah" theme, stay tuned for that.

Some small convention news... )

I mentioned last month that I've purchased a new camera. I haven't found the "sports" setting yet, but I've started playing with the High ISO option for available light shots. You can see I've started posting the first crop of photos from the new camera.

hazelchaz: (ears)

My Animé Los Angeles report, part 6: Sunday. (See also part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, and part 7.)

Fred Ladd had originally been one of my picks for a Guest of Honor to tie in with Old School Day... )

Sunday also marked the debut of our ''Your Next Convention'' mini program track... )

Rob Miles is in charge of "Stage Zero" at FanimeCon, and he's offered us a half-hour timeslot to talk up [livejournal.com profile] animelosangeles. What shall we do? Will it be at 9:00 am on the last morning of the convention?

Sunday afternoon was the ''Walking Free'' Fashion Show... )

There was a lot of interest in next year's Fashion Show, especially for having it earlier in the weekend. It'll be either Friday or Saturday next year, depending on what Tech and Events work out.

Our Editor Guest of Honor, Zac Bertschy, was only able to attend on Sunday... )

Feedback/Gripe Session, in the timeslot before Closing Ceremonies, was relatively painless. Suggestions included positioning signs so from the foyer you can look down the hall and see where the doors to Artists' Alley, Dealers, LP1, LP2, and so forth are. It was pointed out that the hotel has removed the signs hanging from the ceiling that used to say Salon A and Suite 1 etc, so it's even harder to find things. Another suggestion was to add a map of the facility to the BADGE ZONE signs, with a YOU ARE HERE dot. Many compliments, lots of people liked the costume-eating escalator sign and the big posters we had everywhere (mostly of Kevin Lillard's photos). We should have announced at Gripe to go get your poster now -- many were torn down once Closing started. (I may owe people a few reprints.) Suggestion for next year: post photos from the past five Animé Los Angeleses (Animé Los Angeli?). As well as Jessica's art.

Next: After it's all over

hazelchaz: (ears)

Part 2 of my Autumn Dream report. The other half is here.

Why did I keep going to Ani-Magic? To let the anime convention-going fans in the Antelope Valley know that our convention exists. To "wave the flag." To have another point of contact with Animé Los Angeles members and potential volunteers. To give away refreshments where the convention has no con suite, so that people can stay hydrated even when they're broke.

Antelope Valley Fairgrounds ''Poppy Pavilion.'' I've said this before, but it's worth repeating: Autumn Dream bears almost no resemblance to Ani-Magic. There's some continuity in staffing, a small number of diehard repeat attendees, and a completely different "feel" to the convention. It was held in the Poppy Pavilion at the new Antelope Valley Fairgrounds (left). I think they missed an opportunity to put up a big CK to change the name to Pocky Pavilion. Poppy Pavilion, at night. And I was mildly disappointed that there weren't any concessions offering food on a stick. I know they roll in and out for special events, like fairs and swap meets, but still I hoped they might show up.

Hampton Inn and Suites, Lancaster. The official hotels for the convention were the Hampton Inn & Suites (left) and its sister hotel next door, the Homewood Suites... )

On top of that, (almost) everything was in one huge barn-like room. Take a look at their Program Guide (PDF). Take a look at page 9. Saturday live program items are at 9:30 am, 11:00, 1:30 pm ("Meet Kyle Herbert"), and 4:00 pm. Sunday is similar. Four panels? One track, four timeslots on Saturday, that's it? No wonder people were wandering around, bored, with nothing to do.

Incidentally, the only way to get the 20-page program guide was to print out the PDF from the website... )

I've always paid my way at Ani-Magic... )

Grace Nua.

I attended the convention with [livejournal.com profile] library_lynn and several others. While we were there, some Ani-Magic/Autumn Dream staffers came to us to talk about volunteering for Animé Los Angeles, such as Grace Nua (right). We didn't go seeking out staffers -- we just set up our station and waited for them to come to us. We had one staffer stop by as late as 4:00 pm Sunday to talk about working for us. (She hadn't had a break before then.)

I made sure we didn't criticize the convention, even when someone (left) asked me point-blank whether Anime Los Angeles was better than Autumn Dream... )

So anyhow, about our Animé Los Angeles presence at Autumn Dream: Mostly we just kept to our area. The Dealers Room apparently didn't fill up, dealers-wise, which would explain why we were offered a free second space. I printed up some huge posters on the Bertha at the Tower to decorate our space... )

Willow 17, Sarah, Revell Walker on the phone, and Melissa De Mello. Revell even stopped by for a while on Sunday and talked to my minions (left)... )

This gave me an idea for a small program track: "Your Next Convention" which would be a bunch of half-hour timeslots, one for each convention that wanted to participate. Each convention could give a presentation, hear comments about "last time" and answer questions about "next time," and basically have a little fannish inquisition. The last day of the convention would be perfect, because people are thinking about where to go next, and it could be held at a table near Registration because generally Reg is pretty quiet on the last day.

I came away from the conversation with the distinct impression that he thinks because I've kept quiet for three or four months, everything's fine between us... )

And Autumn Dream this year had at least 750 attendees, based on what I heard Saturday night from either Jack or Revell. Most of them were families from the Antelope Valley who had never attended an anime convention... )

Melissa De Mello. But enough about what Revell had to say about this year's convention. What did I actually do at Autumn Dream? Well, I'd booked two rooms at the Hampton Inn. I had enough Hhilton Hhonors points to get a free room just for the Minions. Melissa De Mello (right) was in charge of that room, with Willow and [livejournal.com profile] summoner_lenne9 sharing the space. The room that Lynn and I shared had an extra bed (we had that in case [livejournal.com profile] selinawoman made it out), and we put Rachel Dorfman there.

Sarah Goldberg and Willow 17. Sarah and Willow (left) got in some "minion practice" during the weekend. The two of them, along with veterans Melissa and [livejournal.com profile] aramina, are the core of the Minion team for 2008. We'll be training up the rest of the proto-minions Thanksgiving weekend, at [livejournal.com profile] loscon, where (if all goes well) we'll give them phones or walkie-talkies or something and Melissa will sit back and watch them fly.

Jerry Shaw at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds. Lynn and I made it to Lancaster late Friday night, so we just turned in instead of seeing if anyone was still setting up at the fairgrounds. Saturday morning, we found some breakfast somewhere and stopped off at Vallarta Supermarket to get a couple of cheap bottle openers (and some Mexican orange sodas). As soon as we arrived at the fairgrounds we saw an old friend, Jerry Shaw (right).

Lenny Winkler, convention vice chairman. Heading in to figure out what the arrangement was for dealers setup, I ran into Lenny Winkler (left). Although we haven't interacted much before, he recognized me on sight and told me where to go.

When unpacking everything and setting it all up, we discovered a problem... )

Melissa, Willow and Sarah met us on-site Saturday morning, and we got to work setting up our space. Folding table and chairs, tablecloths on the tables, rearranging the other chairs to make a little conversational nook at the side of our space. Assembling the wire cubicles along the back wall, taping up posters on the high wall, putting out the snacks and water bottles neatly. Stamping the special coupon code on newsletters and postcards, arranging ribbons for sale. Easily 8 different tasks to accomplish. So we could have used more help! We got it done not long after the hall opened, though, and settled in.

Pirate in a Pocky box. Melissa teased this pirate by taking and wearing his hat, repeatedly. So, this is a rare photo where he actually has possession of his own hat (right). He also happens to be wearing a Pocky box, but I'm sure it made sense in context.

Jessica Gaona in pink loli dress, blonde wig. If you have the Animé Los Angeles 4 program book, there's a drawing of him in our Rum Party writeup. [livejournal.com profile] le_moose (left) has many friends... Jessica loved the giant enlargements of her art, so at the end of the convention I took down those posters and gave them to her. Konoe Suzumiya wasn't there, so the summer "postcard" went to someone else who fell in love with it, and the winter art poster went home with Melissa.

An interesting fact about our location... )

For dinner Saturday night, Athena recommended we go to Primo Cafe (44599 Valley Central Way, Lancaster CA 93536). It was delicious. I had the chorizo burrito, which probably doesn't come as a surprise to many of you who've been reading my recent escapades.

We missed the Masquerade. Sarah was in it (sorry for missing it!) and she was shocked that her group won "Best in Show." Autolooper has posted a complete set of videos on Youtube, look for "4of7 Ani-Magic 08 Cosplay Contest." I looked at the video. I didn't judge all of the entries critically, but I'm confident their thrown-together skit was in the top three. Most of the other presentations were very weak. The five-minute stand-up routine by the man whose "costume" was a black sweatshirt with "NINJA" in big block letters was particularly excruciating. (Part 1of7, from 2:58 through 7:48, when the tech crew took pity on the audience and cut his mic.) Have I mentioned, by the way, that [livejournal.com profile] animelosangeles is looking for a Masquerade Judges' Clerk/Timekeeper?

Rachel-Elizabeth as Elizabeth Swann in some other outfit getting a Pirate King tattoo done by Captain Jack's girlfriend and her lovely friend who has awesome penmanship skills with the brush. The ''Rum Party'' had such a lovely location in the AVI's restaurant the year before (right).... )

Mike Young(?) and Sheri Jordan.

And we had lunch delivered to us on Sunday! )

Sunday was about as slow as the last day is at many conventions. )

So we went home, and were in our own beds by midnight.

And as for next year? Revell's 21 October post on the Autumn Dream forums: 'On to Next Year' )

He talks about money and funding, and about an exciting program for the 10th year celebration -- which he calls the tenth anniversary. No, "10th Annual Convention" and "10th Anniversary" don't mean the same thing. If the convention started in 2000, then 2010 is the tenth anniversary. The second annual convention was the first anniversary of the first convention, i.e. one year after, right? So... oh, never mind. And as far as weddings and children go, his "any other con" claim is so weak it's hardly worth puncturing.

On the drive home, Sarah asked me if there was any anime convention that I didn't have some sort of criticism of. That stopped me for a bit, and I had to figure out how to say what I wanted to say. I mean, I'll cheerfully be critical of the mistakes I've made with our convention, so why should I hold back anywhere else?

I finally explained that my issue with most regional anime conventions has to do with my view that the Con Suite is the heart of a convention. You can have a convention that just has nametags and a Con Suite, and it's still a convention. (A "relaxacon.") Hospitality, and the fact that people like to hang out with each other and break bread together: these are important. You see at other anime conventions that people create socializing spaces, usually in the lobby. Why not have one of those socializing spaces have a few snacks?

We've done "mock con suites" at many local conventions, including Ani-Magic last year and [livejournal.com profile] pmx this month. Some people have started calling our Peanut Butter rooms "the con suite." (Another reason to not go to every convention every year: we're not providing a reliable service for XYZ-con, we're trying to promote our con at XYZ-con. XYZ-con attendees shouldn't end up confusing our operation with something official provided by the con, because then we lose the benefit of them associating the Peanut Butter Room with Animé Los Angeles.)

I'd like for other conventions to decide that a con suite is valuable, and worthwhile, and of benefit to their members. I think the fans have already discovered the value, we just have to wait for the convention staff to see it and work for it.

hazelchaz: (ears)

And a week after the picnic, I went to see what had become of Ani-Magic. Okay, this one's a long one. I'm going to break it up into chunks. Here's part 1. The other half is here.

Ani-Magic used to be a popular convention for costumers... )

I learned (in 2003) that costumers enjoyed having a relaxing cosplay weekend, but that Ani-Magic wasn't much of a highly-programmed convention -- it was just where cosplayers went between the major conventions to kick back. For the first few years of the decade, it had a strong reputation among the anime costuming fans.

I'd like to take a minute to talk about Cosplay.com... )

Richard Man and Karisu-sama. Ani-Magic peaked in 2004, attendance-wise, at least as far as the numbers they've reported to anime-cons.com. Ani-Magic's numbers in 2000-2004 were 412, 675, 767, 985, 1012. I was there in 2004, when they were in Valencia at the Hyatt (left). Did Ani-Magic jump the shark then? That's when I started hearing people say that it wasn't as good as the years before. I went back in 2005 and 2007, after [livejournal.com profile] animelosangeles was up and running, and people started telling me how much they enjoyed Animé Los Angeles -- and how Ani-Magic was declining. And I could see it myself, as fewer of the "usual suspects" showed up, the crowds were visibly smaller in 2007 than they were in 2005. Sarah Goldberg, as ''Tonks,'' with Wolfie as ''Remus Lupin.''

Of course, at every convention there's someone attending for the first time. After Ani-Magic in 2007, the last convention of that name, [livejournal.com profile] summoner_lenne9 (right) posted this message on Cosplay.com:

I would like to thank all the Ani Magic staff FOR THE MOST AMAZING CON EVER! )

What "closing down" is Sarah talking about, in her post quoted above? Ani-Magic 2007 had trouble making ends meet, and only covered their expenses through donations. Whether it would continue was uncertain. Eventually, in late January, ''AM Chair'' (Revell Walker) made this announcement on Cosplay.com... )

An analysis of Cosplay.com traffic... )

My conclusion: the Cosplay.com community doesn't care anymore.

To be continued. Next section: Why did I keep going to Ani-Magic?

hazelchaz: (ears)

Someone and Nick Kurachi, stuffing reg bags. For [livejournal.com profile] animelosangeles, I went to a small convention at Cal State Northridge. I wanted our postcards stuffed in the reg bags, so I drove up on Thursday night to bring them and help stuff the bags (right). They gave me a table in Artists' Alley, which was outdoors on the concrete patio in the sun and immediately to the west of the building with the Dealers Room. I looked at the lay of the land, and decided it made sense to set up after noon, when the shade would start coming our way.

Sarah Goldberg. I've mentioned that at our last convention, I had a few Minions... )

The convention, in its third year, was reasonably well run. As it's on campus, they give free badges to any CSUN students who want to attend. Not counting dealers and artists and others of us with particular reasons to promote or publicize or sell at conventions, most of the non-student attendees come from the surrounding area. Their attendance seems to be stable, around the thousand mark. Their published attendance figure this year was 904.

We had a table, as I mentioned, where we gave away bottled water and granola bars and sold badge ribbons (to raise money for the ones we give away at our convention)... )

We collected a little money from registrations. But at this point, we are going to the conventions to "wave the flag" -- to talk to people who haven't heard about us, to tell people who have that we have a membership cap of 2700 on Saturday and they should pre-reg and the deadline is mid-December, to tell members that the hotel room block closes mid-December too -- but mostly our agenda now is to see what members want to volunteer. Why is this important? It's not just important, it's vital. Suppose you take everyone that volunteers at a convention in any capacity, including gophers, staff, department heads, division heads, random volunteers and everyone else. Expressed as a percentage of the total membership, what's a good number to have?

I've heard that a good goal to aim for is 10%. One in ten people at the convention are helping to make the convention happen. One in 12 or 13 -- 8% -- is still pretty good. Well, right now 20% of our pre-reg membership are tagged in the database as "STAFF" but we expect to quadruple our membership before the end of the convention. That means that unless we recruit another hundred staff and volunteers, we're looking at a figure of 5%.

Low percentages here are an early warning of potential staff burnout, so I take this very seriously. I think we treat our staff and volunteers well -- in addition to our Con Suite (a novely at anime cons, even though it's a staple at sci-fi cons) we now have a Staff Lounge, we give people breaks, we show them they're appreciated, etc. -- but the trick is to get the word out. More about that in my post about the October picnic, though.

Anyhow I'm always be on the lookout for steady workers... )

The things that I never knew came with this job... I jest. Chairing a convention isn't a job, it's a hobby. Certainly a very interesting hobby, though!

Caitlin Postal (Sonsko-chan) and someone else. The Rum Party (right) was here -- they're hitting all the SoCal conventions (perhaps excepting Pacific Media Expo), with Anime Expo in the summer and "Autumn Dream" later in the fall -- and it looks at this point as if Anime Expo is the only one that hasn't figured out the advantages of incorporating them into the con as an official event. Their loss! [Edit: Sarah reminds me that they skipped AX.] I asked Mike, who's recently married Barrie, if they received the cooking wreath safely. I don't think he's twigged to the fact that I'm really saying You haven't sent us a thank-you note yet and of course I can't come left out and chide him for that or remind him that my mailing address is PO Box 17522, Anaheim CA 92817.

Revell Walker. Speaking of other conventions, Revell Walker of Ani-Magic fame (infamy?) showed up to drop off some Autumn Dream flyers (left)... )

We didn't stay for all the closing ceremonies. Miles to go before we sleep -- me to the south, Melissa to the northwest. We did stick around long enough to hear a little of this lady singing (right). I'd bumped into a number of Voice Actors during the weekend, including one or two that had gone the fans-to-pros route (as opposed to a veteran actor who ended up in the anime world, like Kyle Hebert). I need to get better about hanging onto their business cards. (Minions, please take note, for when we're out at [livejournal.com profile] pmx. Will they have any VAs there?) Anyhow, this particular lady, whose name I've forgotten, held her own as co-emcee with Kyle on Masquerade night, and was singing the Apeture Science "Still Alive" song. I'd like to see her again, if anyone can tell me her name and where to find her next? Maybe we can lure her out to the LAX Marriott.

hazelchaz: (ears)

People sitting front of the snacks in our Peanut Butter and Jelly Oasis. In August I went to Costume College, we tried running a Peanut Butter and Jelly Oasis. See my write-up to read more about it and learn why the Costume Exhibit should be moved to rooms 120/122. In these two photos you can see most of the food and a goodly number of fans enjoying the hospitality.

Lots of people in the room. Costume College could use a place for people to grab a snack or stop and catch their breath mid-day. I've heard back that they're not interested in having their hospitality open by day, although they'd have no objections if [livejournal.com profile] animelosangeles wanted to do this again. I think that means that we wouldn't get volunteer hours credit for running it.

A week later I organized a potluck cosplay picnic at Mason Regional Park, near U.C. Irvine. (more...) )

[livejournal.com profile] ala_mokita has joked that we should chuck this convention-running habit of ours and just organize potluck picnics. Days like that make me think there's a kernel of worth in the jest... And with running it on a potluck basis, it means there will be a lot of variety. People come through with what they can contribute. The trick is just to make sure that the minimum picnic fare is covered.

Current events: We went to Autumn Dream 1 last weekend. Ani-Magic is dead, having run 2000-2007. The new event is completely different, although a significant number of the staff are the same and there's still an ever-smaller number of regular attendees who keep coming back. I'll have more thoughts about that later, as well as my reports on Tiki Oasis, Anime Vegas and other recent adventures.

hazelchaz: (Default)
So, what have I been doing since Anime Expo? Well, right now I'm putting the Fan Gallery into order, so it can be taken to [livejournal.com profile] denvention3. And we're in high season as far as convention postcards are concerned -- the [livejournal.com profile] animelosangeles postcards have been mailed, [livejournal.com profile] loscon has their postcards, and the Gallifrey One postcards ([livejournal.com profile] doctorwho convention) are due here from the printers any day. And then in the next a month or two we've got another round for all three conventions, and possibly a Westercon too.

Lynn and I have been airing out a bunch of boxes of stuff, one piece at a time... )

At work, that project that's sent me to Indianapolis and San Luis Obispo (and even San Francisco recently) is coming to a head... )

In conventions that I will be attending, I've got three coming up in August, all very different... )

Busy busy busy. Haven't done much work lately on the [livejournal.com profile] costume_con photos -- I'm hoping that I can dump all of them in place shortly and come back to the captioning later. I've set that as the project to get past before I upload more of my own photos to my own website, which is why you haven't seen any Hazel's Picture Gallery updates here.

In other news, [livejournal.com profile] missmea is still in North Carolina, having adventures. She'll be back sometime this summer. Probably spend some time sleeping on the couch here -- her old room's not available, and she has no apartment anymore. She doesn't like Orange County, though, so she'll be powerfully motivated to find a job and a place.

Oh and for those of you who follow the anime convention circuit, some odd news... )

On the ribbon front, I'm probably done with accepting orders from people who don't read my ribbons mailing list or even my Ribbon Resources page. Grrr. Argghh. At least the last person to ask "Is it too late for ribbons for Denvention" was a week ago. If you'd read the mailing list you'd know when the orders go in... Incidentally, if you're running a convention, I've got some "stock ribbons" I'd like to send your way. I'll cut you a deal. I want to use up the ones I have, so I can change color schemes when I reprint them.

And are the Tulsa fans crazy? Conestoga, the annual sci-fi convention, just a week before their new "Tokyo in Tulsa" convention? Ease up, you guys, put a bit of a gap in there! And good luck, wish I could see y'all this summer.

EDIT: Oh yeah, there was an earthquake with epicenter just 5 miles from Lynn's library. It was just in the 5's, though... wake me up when you've got a 6 or a 7 richter for us.


hazelchaz: (Default)
Chaz Boston Baden

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