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Theoretical Impacts of an Otakon Move

Yesterday Otakon announced that they were moving to the DC convention center. If you haven’t read the news, here’s the Press release on this: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/press-release/2013-08-12/otakon-to-move-to-washington-dc-in-2017.

This will be a multi-focused looked at the possible impacts on this. This is a theoretical only piece and I am not speaking as any convention/festival staffer.

There is an emotional side to this. I am a Baltimorean and you must understand the Baltimore psyche a little bit. We’re an underdog city and a city that isn’t shown a ton of love. The world knows us for the Wire. Otakon is one of those things in the fannish community that people identify with Baltimore.  It means a lot to the city and will miss the life it brings Baltimore. It is also an opportunity for DC fandom. Let me explain.

I think Otakon being in DC could directly and negatively affects the other local anime conventions (not MAGFest). I call this the San Diego affect. San Diego Comic Con brings a ton of people into the city. It also means that it’s the only convention most locals go to due to the very high cost of everything. That means events like Anime Conji (the specialized events) have to fight for the rest of fans money. That I can see as a possibility with Otakon due to it’s current size and other local cons like Awesome Con growing rapidly (7K for a first year show is really good).

A lot of fans think that DC is not safe. I deeply disagree. I have been in that part of DC and many other parts of DC (including near Nationals Park). The area around the convention center and Chinatown is a safe area of the city. DC has changed and grown over the past few years. Metro is a good option for those who are hotel price sensitive, also. You can find hotels in Crystal City or the MD Suburbs (like White Flint Mall area) that are half the price of the big hotels downtown.

The opportunity is for a DC area con to do one of two things. Move to Baltimore Convention Center and fill the hole in the hearts of Baltimore fans. You couldn’t be on the same weekend as Otakon. It would be a bold and not a cheap decision due to the exhibitor costs. If you grow the convention during those five years, you get the first crack opportunity to have all of a new building or the space to grow to 30K.

There are a couple of risks on this front. First of all, that Otakon moves back to Baltimore after the five years is up.  Secondly, that you aren’t able to draw people to the new convention center. The option I would consider is a smaller con at the Hunt Valley Inn or Crowne Plaza, then you grow to the Convention Center. I think Baltimore/DC are two separate markets with local quirks and a smaller can could succeed with Otakon in BCC.  Don't
 expect me to think of a general con in the Baltimore market at this point in time. Kickstarter has a very uneven starting point on this.

I went to Balticon for the first time in three years. It was a very good time for me in spite seeing nearly no programming. I honestly admit that much of the programming that interested me were at times when I was working the anime room. The best thing for me was the ability to socialize at a more relaxed pace. Most of the time when I'm at a convention I am so busy with doing things that I say hi and bye to people.

I did see a ton of anime. I must say the series that most underwhelmed me was Astro Boy. It wasn't the 1960's, but more recent incarnations. The 2003 television series and 2010 film really underwhelmed me. It seems like the 2003 television series was a monster of the week show. One series that did really impress me was haibane renmei. I wouldn't call it hard Science Fiction or Fantasy especially because it deals with the lives of angels. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haibane_Renmei is more information to the series itself. If you haven't seen it, go take a look at this series.

Two interesting things happened that I can't talk about. One of them is an invitation I got and another is a project I've decided to research more on. I don't know whether either of these projects bare anything of fruition, but this should be educational. If either one of them works out, you all will be the first to know about it. I hope both of them come to fruition at about the same time. 

If I ever did a Tom Con

Note: This is a very theoretical document that I’m writing. This is not actually every going to happen, but may be used by folks to try and change the con scene.

I am a very practical person in fandom, but there are times I get crazy ideas in my head such as running a convention. This usually happens when I get someone who throws absolutlely insane ideas to learn more about running one. This is where I get this notion of what if I ever ran con. I never have executed on this due to how crazy crowded DC/Baltimore anime cons are.

This is what TomCon would always be for and about:

-An adult crowd (18 plus or 21 plus, not quite sure).  I want to bring those fans who aren’t actively engaged in fandom due to changing tastes. They’re still fans, but want to not be Marco’d Pollo’d or Homestuck to death.

-It would be about Anime, Manga and Japanese Pop culture first and foremost.

-A lower cost than any convention in the region (both memberships and hotel rooms). I would like to keep it an at door rate of $45. That would mean no day memberships at this point for the convention. My goal for hotel rooms would be $99-109 a night before tax. This is to make it a full weekend show.

-A maximum of four to five guests of honor (meaning all expenses would be covered by TomCon). Voice Actor Guest of Honor, Voice Actress Guest of Honor, Fan Guest of Honor, Educational Guest of honor and musical guest of honor.  All guests would be encouraged to go beyond a few panels and autographs, but to be at all of the major events.

-Offer unique social events. Instead of an Opening Ceremony, A welcoming Ice Cream social where all of the Guests and program participants attend.

-Do a non-competition cosplay. It could be a place where class of competitor doesn’t matter. Just the beauty of their costume or ability to entertain. It’s a place where the reward is applause just like how Flute Link didn’t win any prizes back in Otakon 2007 masquerade, but got a whole house standing ovation.

-Bring a heavily curated approach to Videos. Half of the Videos must be from 1995 or earlier. Many fans don’t appreciate the history of anime and what came before what we see today. All Videos get an introduction and have a discussion afterwards. If there is time, the room just shows random anime related things and weird from Japan.

-Have a 21 plus lounge in the evening where folks can socialize and have alcohol. It could be a party inside of the hotel. It could also lower the room costs by having folks.

-Everyone besides the guests of honor would need to pay to attend. Staff would get rooms and food covered. Panelists would get a membership reimbursement if show breaks even. It creates a sense of ownership within the fandom. That is part of creating community that this show is about.

-Low costs for vendors to be part of the room. $25 for 10 hall tables and $50 with 12 or so spaces in a locked room. Badges would be at lowest membership level ($25 for the weekend). Would want to have under 10 vendors total, so that is why the small amount of tables/spaces total.

-The goal is 300-500 people.

I am wondering something. Would people actually attend this type of event who are above 18? Are people that enamored with the way things are that it’s better not to rock the boat? I live in an heavily concentrated convention area. Would this work in another area like Metro Philly or Richmond? This is all theoretical at this point, so I am not sure this idea goes anywhere. I simply want a healthy conversation to begin on this.

What's been happening Redneckotaku?

I've been very busy over the last two months here with work and a vacation over that time. It has been a good run though. I will not put everything I've been doing here because it's been a lot. The first thing I've been doing has been making a change in position in Anime USA. I am now the Assistant Director of Programming and it has been interesting in a good way. I've created a way I think will make the internal information for panels easier. Now I have lots of other work in recruiting panels for Professional and Educational track. Not sure how, but I'm starting to look in my core of contacts on that.

I am also in the midst of possibly one of my toughest decisions I've ever made. That has been the decision to move closer to work. Work is moving a couple of miles from it's current location, but it adds time to my current commute that makes it tougher to make one of the last evening trains every night. That means I need to move to at least the city, hopefully Towson or Timonium to be closer to work. This means I am selling some things that I enjoy, but need to get rid of on Ebay. Here are my listings and there may be something that you can put in your collection: http://www.ebay.com/sch/tstidm56/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&_from=&_ipg=25&_trksid=p3686.

I am also doing some interesting other convention things. One of them I can talk about, I am doing an event at T-MODE in April called T-MODE Pyramid. It is a tribute I've been wanting to do for a while of Dick Clark (the creator of the game) and a test to see whether more traditional game shows can work. When I get the time and date up, I will let people know through Facebook. The other one is a secret proposal for MAGFest 2014. I don't think this happens for a variety of reasons. I hope that If I'm not chosen for the project, it raises an issue and gives them some thoughts on it.

In the midst of all this, I've done a vacation to Disney World. It was absolutely awesome for the mind, heart and spirit. I had a blast and I plan to  get back for a Mid-Winter getaway next year (probably Universal and Sea World focused). I really enjoy Disney property because it is the easiest vacation for me to experience. It is probably the most solo friendly type of trip you can take. You don't have to drive from the time you get to the airport until you get back there when you stay there. I really enjoyed All star Sports and would stay there again. Lots of pictures are going up soon on the Facebook page.  

So Redneckotaku, How was MAGFest

MAGFest was a different one than the past two I had attended because I worked
the festival. It limited my time doing things, but it is okay because I
had a blast. MAGFest has grown massively and this will make the report I
give be a little bit more festival organizing focused.

How  much did MAGFest grow? Two years ago, it was capped at 3,000 people.
Last year, it was at over 6,000 people. This year, it was at over 9,000
people (Insert Dragon Ball Z meme here). It is on an unprecedented
growth spurt and at a greater pace than the 1999-2004 pace of Otakon.
That six year stretch led it from 4,000 people to 21,000 people. I can
see that happening by 2015 for MAGFest.  This leads into analysis part
of this.

Personal Highs and Lows
-The Driest place on earth is the Gaylord National and it was only dogged
determination that didn’t have me fainting at Union Station yesterday
evening. I think I may have to find an personal IV unit for Katsucon or
start drinking a mix of Powerade Zero and Water. I think I also pushed
myself way with the volunteering hours in too short of a weekend.

-Got fourth place in a Poker tournament. I am really impressed because I am not someone who plays Texas Hold ‘Em often at all.

-Didn’t get to hang with some awesome friends like Tyler Waldman or Viga, who I
must make amends on at Katsucon. How does a Thursday night dinner
together sound?

-Got to play a bunch of other games I don’t get to play at home due to no
arcades near me. Played games like After Burner, X-Men as Dazzler (My
favorite character in that game) and a bunch of pinball. I really love
pinball because it makes me remember Ocean City, MD and Trimpner’s
Arcade (still there I hear, but it’s changed).

What went well for the event
-It is growing into the space well. It felt naturally lively without it
being overcrowded. The lines didn’t snake into one another or things
like that. The growth is a game changer for them. Once you get to 8-10
thousand, you are able to reach out for new opportunities such as what
MAGFest on the road is doing in Austin next month.

-The most impressive thing about the Festival runners is that they think on
their feet. I will take an example from Saturday of the festival. They
were being overwhelmed by one day folks and led to a massive line. They
simply separated cash from Credit and were able to handle more folks
that way. This cut the lines down within 45 minutes of this being

-Much better ran Tabletop tournaments. One of the worst experiences I had was
on Friday night during the Poker Tournament. They had over 200 people
play in that one tournament. I basically gave up at about midnight by
going all in instead of playing my game. They basically gave four
opportunities to play the game along multiple other tournaments.

-Better sound for the concerts. I was only in the room for 20 minutes of
Protomen (awesome, but my body was telling me go the bleep to bed), but
could hear a much better sound quality being in the Potomac Ballroom and
video setup than in Maryland Ballroom. If Maryland is used again, I
would go for the larger tower setup that was in Potomac this year.

-The low amount of hours worked to get fed. You have to work twelve
hours to get fed, but only one shift to get access. Food was under $5.00
in the hotel staff cafe in the place. It is motivation to show up
earlier in the weekend than later.

Whatdidn’t go as well (This will involve how things were run just as a
warning. It also comes from a long time Convention Runner. Nick The
Newbie don’t scream at me.)

-A stronger usage of Security-First of all, I wouldn’t use Security. It
doesn’t fit with the spirit of a Festival and invites legal issues to my
understanding of Maryland Law such things as Security have to be
specifically trained and be bonded.  I would call it Public Safety or
Attendee Management services. Secondly, I would use them in more places
that need it. I don’t think LAN Volunteer should be inspecting
Backpacks. Only a LAN or Public Safety Staffer (Blue Badges) should be
inspecting Backpacks. It didn’t felt right for me as a First year
volunteer to be inspecting people’s items.

-Better Definitons for First year staffers. I don’t think First year Staffers
should be used in places such as LAN where there is such trust needed or
in Money handling positions. I’ve seen them used in both areas during
the Festival this year. I think there should be clear definitions for
Returning staffers and First year staffers (aka Volunteers). I think it
should be clearer on things like Food. If I knew when I get food
privledges,  I may have done an earlier shift on Friday than I did. Next
year, I will probably get there Wednesday or Thursday of the Festival.

-I wish Non-musical Guests had more first time guests. There seemed to be
almost no new voice actors this year (just the same three gentlemen as
last year). I may have missed someone on the guests list who was a voice
actress. It amazes me that the likes of Mark Meer and Jennifer Hale
haven’t been to the Festival yet. They would draw amazingly well for
them, since they haven’t done a lot of events. I think they could also
adapt well to the environment there.

-There is a need for some new departments. I think several key people Guests,
Hotel Liaison and Treasury needs some help. I know their DH’s, so I see
this . When you grow to the Size of MAGFest is now, there needs to be
support for Guests, Treasury and Hotel Liaison. I have a proposal on
this for Guests. I think there should be a Guest Services Department.
These handle the on marketplace and  Panel needs of all guests including
musical guests. I won’t go into too much specifics here because it is
getting long.

-The Registration system works well when it works. The Pre-Registration
system works well when it works. The problem is that the Internet goes
down alot and UBersystem can’t handle At Door Registrations well. These
are my suggestions on Pre-Registation and Registration:

-Figure out what hours are your busiest and have nearly 15 to 20 people working
those shifts. My Guesses are Wednesday between 5 PM and Midnight
(Pre-registration only), Thursday 10 AM-10 PM, Friday 10 AM-10 PM and
Saturday 10 AM-4 PM. It may mean you use Hall A to handle the booths or
table space that takes. Put more computers for Data Entry on At Door,

-Have  all At Door Stations take cash and Credit. The Festival at it’s peak
needs 10-15 Card Readers to process people. Most people have gone Credit
only on things like Festival memberships. There needs to be more
readers and signing devices for it.

-The Registration system needs to be separated from the rest of Convention
operations Server wise. MAGFest Pre-Registration works fine when it up
and At Door has been mentioned. When Ubersystem goes down, so does
Registration. This happened for three hours on Thursday.

-If the Festival can afford it, It should look at Hardwiring the computers
to the hotel’s Internet and process cards through the web directly. Many
other events bite the bullet and pay for Hard Wired internet from the
venue. It means that it takes a massive catastrophe to have you lose
Registration internet and a quicker fixing response hopefully.

-If you can offer, At door Registration through the net. Anime USA offers
At Door Registration at any time during the convention. You register
online, have your confirmation with you and you go to Pre-Registration
line to pick up your badge. This has reduced At Door wait times in half.
People sometimes do it on the smart phones while waiting in line.

-On the Harassment front, I think that if MAGFest enforced the currently standing policies then this would work itself out. Something did surprise me was seeing things such as SausageFest being said by official MAGFest Twitter manager. I wouldn't say those things. I am also afraid I would say something equally as stupid, so I avoid Marketing like the plague.

-Communication needs to be improved. MAGFest had some moments where I think it may be
losing the Festival aspect. One point was MPoints. Nobody communicated
with the other fan events who exhibited or The bands on this. I know
Anime USA would’ve accepted them all weekend, if we had known about them
before Saturday. The Protomen refused my MPoints on Sunday due to not
knowing. This reduces the value of them.

I think I’ve said alot on both sides of things and I enjoyed the Festival
alot despite the issues. Places like MAGFest remind me that any fannish
event is what you make of it. The Festival is at a point where it is
achieving greatness. What it needs most is a little bit more
Pre-Festival planning for ultimate success.  I’m ready for the next
mission just needing to know when.


MAGFest preview

MAGFest is the largest fan run gaming and VG Music festival out there at over
6,100 last year.  This is in it’s second year at the Gaylord National
and is growing quickly. The event’s mission is to celebrate and promote
Gaming culture. They do this fairly well in it’s Festival format.

This is a programming (including concerts) focused preview for everyone who
wants to get the most out of the Festival. First part of this is the
Scheduled programming, second part will be best of the concerts and the
final part is the organized Video gaming exhibits in the festival. Note
on all scheduling: This may change at any point. I am holding this as
late as I can before the festival, but may change before, during and
after it.
http://magfest.org/schedule/ for the most current schedule.

Note: This is also my personal opinion and not the views of anyone who runs any other events.

Thoughts about the best PanelsCollapse )
Thoughts on the best musical actsCollapse )

Other massively cool events.Collapse )
I know I’m forgetting about the Marketplace (http://magfest.org/marketplace), Large Tabletop gaming area, LARP, Over 300 arcades in the Arcade area, Over 100 consoles and so much more. This is a great event and I will be there to help out, so you will see me at the festival.


Food for MAGFest and Katsucon

Food has gotten significantly easier to get at National Harbor with the addition of a couple of new places especially McDonalds. McDonalds and Subway will be busy the weekend of MAGFest or Katsucon. I personally avoid McDonalds at all costs unless it’s an Egg McMuffin. I hate McDonalds and Subway especially when I can eat them at home.

These are tips and tricks that you can use to eat better tasting foods than those places for a reasonable price (around $20 a meal). http://nationalharbor.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/National-Harbor-Directory-Sept-2012.pdf for the local map for visual folks. They also have normal hours on the website and it’s mobile friendly. All prices should include tax, tip and non-alcoholic beverage. One other note, None of the National Harbor places does delivery to the hotels. It's only a six square block area (Downtown Baltimore is bigger), so just use walk there.

Revision 1.1 12/31/2012-Added explanation of Fiorella and Ketchup.

Revision 1.2 01/28/2013-Revised Pienza and National past times.

Places I would specifically avoid due to being too high in price.

Bond 45 Steakhouse- A meal here will set you back at least $50 and is mostly steaks. I can get a lot better steak for $6 a pound at my local market.

Old Hickory Steakhouse-See Bond 45 Steakhouse. This would probably be the one place where I would bite the bullet and eat if I wanted a special dinner.

Grace Mandarin for Dinner-This is good Chinese food, but it is hard to keep it under $20 per person unless you are sharing things. This isn’t a good choice for single diners. I would say if your willing to share this can make a decent choice.

McLoonie’s Pier House-This will set you back $30 plus here, but the Seafood I’ve heard is pretty good.

Pienza- This is a borderline decision for me because it’s at $20 plus for a buffet. For Lunch, it has an option for under $15 with Tax and Tip. You don't get any hot foods though. That option is over $20 with Tax and tip. It also falls under the same problem as Java Moon. The bread on the sandwich bar was rather dry. I would only do if Time is of the essence. Inside the hotel.

Bobby Mckeys-This is a Piano Bar first of all. First, Why are you at a Piano Bar when there three musical acts at Katsucon including the first band from Japan in a couple of years? Secondly, This places charges a cover charge of anywhere between $5-17, which negates any savings you get from eating the $10 sandwiches there.

Sauciety-Dinner runs over $40 and you have more affordable Breakfast and Lunch options in the other places around there.

Java Moon-It is under $20, but I think you get better quality by going outside of the hotel. It does have good coffee in a pinch. Sandwiches are very dry to my tastes and everything there is edible.

Under $10 places that are better than the Fast Food chains

Freshii- This is a fresh and healthy place with Salads, Noodle Bowls and Wraps that opens early for Breakfast. It is also very vegetarian friendly. It is also less than a block from the hotel up Waterfront Street. Will be crowded due to size, so call ahead on this.

Baja Fresh-This is pretty good Tex-Mex with heavy emphasis on Bowls and Burritos here. It isn’t a good place for Breakfast. It is pretty small, so I would call ahead for food there and Freshii above. Will be crowded, so I would suggest calling ahead if possible.

Mayorga Coffee Roasters-This is an excellent Breakfast or Lunch place that is a good break from Starbucks machines in the hotel. I really enjoy their Hot Chocolate with real Chocolate Syrup and Ham, Egg and Cheese sandwiches. It is up American Way from the Gaylord National in a small nook, so it can be hard to find.

ChiDogO’s-Dc’s one of two places for a Chicago Style Hot Dog or Italian Beef Sandwich. This is a local chain with one other location in College Park. This is definitely $10 and once people find it down National Plaza (Turn left at the Westin). This is brand new to the Harbor, so you may not have a long wait here. Did eat here and I want to eat here again for Katsucon.

Nando’s Peri Peri-This is Portuguese style roasted Chicken at this place with a variety of seasonings. There is more than just chicken here. The menu does include a Steak Burger and some vegetarian items on it. They also have excellent sides like the Portuguese Rice and the Red Skin Mashed Potatoes. This place is straight up the front door of the Gaylord National about two blocks on Fleet Street.

Nature’s Table-Sandwiches, Soups, Salads and Rice Bowls along with Smoothies are the MO of this place. The advantage of this place is that it’s down National Plaza, so it may be missed during much of the weekend.

Elevation Burger-This is a burger place for around $10. I have eaten there and it’s okay for burgers. I’ve also heard it’s not very good from others. It is an eat at your own risk type of place. It is also at the end of Waterfront street. When your that far out, you may as well eat at the Subway next door to it.

Potomac Gourmet Market-This is one place where you can get grab and go prepped sandwiches and things like Ramen and or beer. This is fairly affordable for the really time crunched folks like a staffer who has a 30 minute break before another shift starts. It saved me more than once at Katsucon last year.

Potbelly Sandwich Works-Simple Sandwiches and soups here. A dollar or so more than Subway, but pretty good and it is a very DC chain (20 odd locations around DC). It is also down National Plaza. This will be packed because it is so well known to DC area folks.

Under $20 Sit down places

The first tip for any restaurant to get food quickly is to sit at the Bar area. In MD, You have to be 21 to sit at the bar. You can sit in a table in the Bar area if your under 21 in Maryland. Many Katsucon members are over 21, so this is a good tip. If you under 21, you can ask for to go at any restaurant with a bar or simply ask to be sat in the restaurant. There are mostly restaurant/bars in National Harbor and the bars only are in the hotels such as the Gaylord.

A second tip for Sit down restaurants is to split the meal either with another person or in a to go box. I simply ask for half of it in a to go box to avoid the temptation of eating it all. I say tip well and they won't mind this at all. Some restaurants do have splitting charges, but I don't see anything amongst National Harbor restaurants on this.

The Tasting Room-This place has sandwiches for around $10 here, but it’s better known for Craft beers and fine wines. If you want enjoy a nice glass of wine or beer along with some food before the concerts and parties, this would be probably your type of place. This is along Waterfront Street with a nice patio (if you get freakishly nice weather).

McCormick and Schmicks-If you choose from the main menu, you will go over $20 at Dinner.. There are some tips that can help you on this front. They do have a Happy Hour menu that can save you some money. Nothing on that menu is over $10 including if you want to get your drink on. This is the perfect place for a late lunch or an early dinner. You can get a $4 cheeseburger with fries that is better than the $6 burgers at Elevation Burger.  One warning, this is only good in the bar area. They have booths, so the under 21 crowd should request to sit there. This is on National Plaza, so it is quieter.

Thai Pavilion-Very Good Thai, Chinese and Sushi place in National Harbor with most everything under $20 or so. I really enjoyed the Pad Thai there back at Katsucon 2011. They also have creative cocktails such as the Lychee Martini. This place also has several vegetarian choices. This is up Fleet Street from the Gaylord National.

Cadillac Ranch-A Sports Bar and Restaurant up Fleet Street from the Gaylord National on the right hand side. It’s Flatbreads, Sandwiches and Entrees which is pretty good. It is pretty loud in here, so don’t expect a lot of good conversation in the place because of it’s size. It can also take some time in here on busy weekends like MAGFest.

Public House-A bar and restaurant up Fleet Street from the hotel on  the left hand side. This is pretty sample sandwiches and entrees. The entrees are over $20 while everything else is under $20. They have a happy hour menu where you can get a beer and burger for $10 and $3 drafts. They have an extensive Beer, WIne and Cocktail selection for those who want to pay to drink.

Harrington Pub and Kitchen-An Irish Bar and Restaurant up Fleet Street from the hotel on the left hand side. This has Irish Food in it and can get to over $20 especially on the entrees. They have Happy Hour specials and accept Restaurant.com gift Certificates Sunday-Thursday. It is a good place, but I would avoid the Self pouring Beer taps. Your paying $8 a pint and that can add up quickly.

Rosa Mexicano-This is a Mexican place that is pretty much everything over $20. The only reason I don’t put this in the avoid list is because they do have a Happy hour during Monday-Friday with $5 tacos and cheap drinks.

Ketchup-Most everything is under $20, but you may push $25 with Tip and Tax. It is very uneven food wise. I would suggest getting anything here to go because this place has a hard time keeping up with sit down diners. If I was to recommend anything here, I would say go with a burger like the Shroom burger or the Lobster Mac and Cheese.

National Pastimes-Most everything is under $20. It is a Sports Bar and the food is only okay there. Food is sandwiches and things like Chicken Fingers. If you are time crunched or need to watch an NFL playoff game, they do allow takeout and is better than Java Moon. Inside the Hotel.

Fiorella Pizzeria-This will be towards the $20 side and probably over with drink, tax and Tip. I have heard they are very good pizza and have quite a few vegetarian options there. It is also a good place to get it to go without having to meet a Dominos or Papa Johns at the very front of the hotel.

Cheap Desserts

There are three places that have pretty good desserts (If your in the mood for them in January). They are:

-Ben and Jerry (Ice Cream and Frozen Yogurt).
-Cake Love (Best Cupcake and bakery place in DC area.)
-Pinkberry (Frozen Yogurt)

This has been a busy week at work and just starting to deal with the post-con stuff. Bronycon is coming to the Baltimore Convention Center on August 2nd-4th. Here is the website with the announcement: http://www.bronycon.org/. I admit that I’m not a Brony. I like more action type shows like Avengers Assemble and Batman: The Animated Series. This announcement makes me very enthused about Baltimore/DC’s standing as a fannish market.

I have talked with some of the Bronycon folks at events. They are smarter folks than some in the fannish community may give them. They’re the folks to bring Lauren Faust to her first My Little Pony convention, so they know there market.  Knowing your market is very key to any success in reaching that market.  I know of many conventions who struggle with this.

 The risk they are taking is that they are the national My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic conventions and aren’t tied to a certain area. This is the risk Otakon took when they established themselves in Baltimore back in 1999 at the convention center.  It has led them to be the undisputed Eastern National anime convention.

 They also won’t overshadow Otakon because they serve very different markets.  Otakon is the Eastern National for Anime fans while Bronycon is the largest MLP:FIM convention in the country. The risk Bronycon is making here is whether their fans will move with them.  There was a decent amount of complaints from the New York area fans. I can understand it from a fans perspective, but I can see that Baltimore Convention center is a lot more affordable than Javits or Philadelphia convention centers.  BCC also has four hotels attached or across the street from an entrance of it. More than Philly and New York has combined.

No matter what happens in early August it will probably be the most fannish week and a half the city has ever seen.

The biggest thing I look forward after every Anime USA is Thanksgiving. It's a day to talk with some family. This year I'm traveling to my Aunt's for the second straight day. My Aunt makes awesome Turkey, which will have plenty of leftovers including Mom and I doing Turkey Stir Fry (Turkey white meat with Stir Fry veggies). Hoping it's a fairly quiet day besides that. I always have a great amount to be Thankful of at this time of year. Not just for  family or for having a job, but having a great group of friends who are there for me. May everyone have a great Thanksgiving.


Post Anime USA thoughts

Anime USA happened and I had many more successes than failures this year. I am glad of that. I also am glad that I have help to make it happen for the first time in a while. I had people I can trust and that really matters to me.

I've also made my share of mistakes and am starting to think that Guests may not work for me. I don't have Ninja like skills to solve issues. I must talk and think before I act. We had the Saturday concert run late for some reason I couldn't control. The Saturday act nearly started late due to some interesting issues. It was a year of a lot of stress, but I strangely enough handled it better.

This is one of those years that test people. We had one of the most trying convention years I can imagine with two storms hitting the northeast right before the convention along with the new venue issues. We survived and succeeded more than we failed.  

I am also at a crossroads for me in fandom. I have done a lot of running the last couple of years trying to learn how to do Guests well. I am getting tired of the travel and time away from the local cons. I have missed some of my favorite local cons for far too long such as Balticon. I am also wanting to take better care of myself at conventions. It seems like after the con I am taking longer to recover. I still have a blase feeling like I shouldn't care about this convention much like Katsucon. I go there to see friends only. Personally, This concerns me the most.

I am thinking that 2013 will be a year of change for me. It could be very radical change (giving up Anime convention running totally) to more modest. I really need to get better balance in my fannish life. Until last year, I hadn't had a mundane vacation in over a decade. I had only done conventions. If I want to get a vacation in, I may have to give up Katsucon and MAGFest. Focusing on conventions I really enjoy I think will help me be in better balance. Also, taking food that will help me stay on track will help also (Fruits and vegetables). I think doing less flying places can help on this front.


I am doing well after Sandy. I only had a couple quick loss of powers. This was much better than the 36 hours during Irene. The new lines and tree trimming have worked wonders this time. Aberdeen seemed to have less power outages than usual.  I have lost two days at work because of no trains, but work will hopefully not be super stupid tomorrow and Thursday. I doubt it though with end of month madness hitting all at once. I've got a chance to watch some Book of Bantorra (a series that is crazy, dark and seinen all in 24:30) along with a beautiful opening song by Ali Project.

Next week is Anime USA and this year I am a Director of a department for the first time since 2006. It has been a challenge, but different than last year and very different than 2006. I haven't had that moment where I'm stressed to the point of needing a break, yet. This led to someone who I use as my sounding board (not someone who attends it) ask me why I keep doing it. That is a question I've asked at points this year. The best answers I can say is that it's a convention that wants to do better. All cons want to do better than the last year. This con really wants to do that. They want to bring more variety to things and try not to be the same old convention. Two examples of this is the Carnivale Cabaret this year, which fits our theme this year of Carnivale Fantasie (think the world of Kaleidostar) and bringing in an educational guest.

The other answer is that It is home con for me. For many, their hometown con is their home con. It is where the local fannish friends are. For me, Otakon is such a large convention you meet your local friends at places like the Diamond tavern or Little Italy to meet and chill. At Anime USA, I look forward to at least saying hi to my fannish friends and helping them make an awesome event happen. The Sunday night event is that place I hang out and talk. Just catching up on the weekend. Celebrating the end of my con year.

Won't be online much past now with work taking over the next three days and Anime USA making for a full weekend. I hope to see everyone out on the other side of this long, but awesome week and half ahead.




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August 2013



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