Anime Detour 2008
Anime Boston 2008
Sogen Con 2007
Anime North 2007
Anime Boston 2007
Anime Detour 2007
Anime North 2006
Anime Detour 2006
Anime Detour 2008
At which I finally stopped feeling like a waste of space. :)
Thursday, April 3
Anime Detour is my home convention, at which I'm on staff, so this con report will be rather different from my usual. On the whole, con this year went well for me. Much better than last year, which isn't really saying much considering all I was thinking about after Detour '07 was whether or not I should quit >.> But! Seriously, it was good. So I'm going to attempt a con report this time, albeit a short one.
Last year I went to the hotel really early on Thursday and ended up sitting around doing nothing for most of the day. Plus, this year I was on Ops and only on Ops, and we didn't even have our room until noon, so I took my time getting together and heading out. I got to the con sometime in the mid-afternoon, late enough to check into the hotel and move in before doing anything else. Then it was Ops setup for most of the rest of the evening. We brought in my mini-fridge, which had been sitting in my mom's garage since I got out of college and I've now donated to Detour Ops, and made a run to the store for snacks. We didn't end up needing much, since we were right across from the volunteer consuite, but we're moving to a new hotel next year and things might not stay that way. It's good to have the snack budget and the fridge just in case, IMO.
Around 7 was the meet and greet with the guests who arrived on Thursday. I finally did what I'd been planning to do and filled up the blade of the Anti-Ego Sword with voice actor autographs. Hooray for avoiding Linecon! :D Gotta admit my perspective was a little skewed after Boston and Sakura. Detour's main stage seemed so small... I was so surprised when I went in there and saw how small it was. I was sure I remembered it being bigger. ^^; But last year Detour was my first con of the season and my first impression; this year it followed two large events, so I suppose it's bound to happen. It took most of the weekend to get my brain to see our setup as normal again, though.
After the gathering I ran home quickly to pick up my printer. The Reg head had realized he needed an inkjet printer to print badge corrections, and we only had laser in Operations, so I volunteered mine (which also has scan/copy functions that came in handy). I was lucky my sister works really close to our apartment, because I'd taken my car key off my keyring so I didn't have to carry the whole thing, and didn't realize until I got home that I didn't have my apartment keys and had to borrow hers. xD
I drove like a bat out of hell to get there and back, because there was going to be a staff photo taken in half an hour. I got back in time... but although I made a hurried search of the whole hotel, I couldn't find anyone. They'd moved into a room, and I missed the picture. :( So that was a bit of a 2007 reminder that let the wind out of my sails for a while. ^^; I had to take a few minutes before I could go back to Ops, but that was all right, it cleared the air of all the 2007 stuff I never really dealt with. Once I got back to work, I got over it and was okay. There were a couple of times when I almost let the lid off the thing, but for the most part, 2007 has now been overwritten by 2008. :)
Friday, April 4
My first Ops shift was probably noon to 3 PM. Can't remember what I did before then. Couldn't have been much, as I only heard about the registration line secondhand, I didn't see it myself until late afternoon. We hit our (hee, "we," "our"... how things change ^^) registration limit in prereg, so instead of two lines for prereg and at-door it was one giant prereg pickup line. And more than two-thirds of the people showed up on Friday. There was a huge and apparently oddly complicated line almost all day, half inside and half outside the building. Fortunately the temperature was nice. Unfortunately it rained occasionally. :\ I hear the line took a couple of hours to get through. Still, after Anime Boston, I had a hard time having any sympathy (aside from the rain). And the chair summoned up some extra help toward the end of the day so everyone was able to get through before registration closed.
I went to a panel at 4:30 on running room parties at cons. I've been tempted to give it a try, either at one of the other area anime conventions or at Anime Boston with Aarana. The panel was full of useful tips and information, but left me unsure about the whole room party thing, since it's a LOT of work. ^^;; It's something to think about, though. If I make it to CONvergence, that'll be a good opportunity to see what room parties are like firsthand.
Then there was more time in Ops. Lots of multitasking and keeping track of stuff, both of which I'm reasonably good at. I even got comfortable with the radio before too long. I was glad I had brought some of everything from home, as a lot of it came in handy, from Sharpies to manila folders to my spare flash drive. There was very little we got caught without. And of course, with the new badge holders, the Lost and Found headache was almost nonexistent in comparison to last year. :D I did miss the WTF Contest, unfortunately, first time since it began that I haven't seen it. But things got busy at shift-change time and I couldn't make it.
When I finally got out of there I met up with one of the fanfic contest judges to get her rankings list, which was really different from mine, and likewise really different from the preliminary list the third judge had given me. Argh. But that was a thing to be sorted out on Saturday, because there's nothing quite like the last minute, especially if you're me. -_- I did have a peek into the Ouran room party, but since they were quietly watching episodes, I didn't stay long since I didn't want to spoil myself.
Friday was good, really good. Even with the registration line, things seemed to be going well, staff seemed to be happy and on top of things, and the atmosphere seemed overall positive. Ah, the illusion of Friday. xD As you may guess, Saturday wasn't quite as smooth. ^^; But that's to be expected, really. Saturday is always the longest and roughest day.
Saturday, April 5
So then there was Saturday. (bum bum BAAAH) Actually, it wasn't really as bad as all that. I'd just forgotten how long and busy Saturday always is, and after the smoothness of Friday it was a bit of an unexpected shock. ^^;
Saturday started early. I was in Ops from 9 AM to noon. Same old same old there, mostly. I got lucky with Ops this year in that there was always a more senior person on my shift, so I didn't ever have primary responsibility. >.> A wimpy thing to say, I know, but Operations is a tough department for me. You're the point of contact responsible for taking care of 3000 people. People report stuff to you, and you decide how to handle it or if it needs to be reported to top staff. It's a big role. Being in Ops is good for me, but I'm a lot more comfortable having someone else in the head chair.
By noon I was thinking about finding something to eat, but it turned out to be sandwich-ordering time. They did this last year, too, but the AD staff is so huge now it took a lot longer. The group really exploded this year. It was taking a while, so I put in my request and headed back to my room to get ready for the drabble contest. Got organized, wrote out the rules on a big dry-erase board, and then moved over to the designated room. Full room, again. :D No tables, again. >( I had more clipboards this year, but it still wasn't enough, as I had almost double the entries as last year. I'm going to have to pick up another ten, and that should cover it (I hope), if we don't have a dedicated workshop room with tables in the new hotel.
I wasn't very smooth at explaining things this year, I need to work on that. And I completely forgot to show everyone what the prize was. -_- But overall, it went very well. Got all the rules explained and all the questions answered, then read for an hour while everyone was writing. Once again, it ran a little overtime. I'm glad Detour has a bit of space between panels so everyone gets their full time. Every year, people are like "It's 100 words, how long can it take?" and every year about half the entrants are still writing at the end of the hour. xD
When I finally got out of there I stopped upstairs hoping to get my sandwich... and there still weren't any. o.o Bigger groups = sloooow orders. So it was off to the AMV contest, hungry for a while longer. It's funny about cons, for some reason I hardly ever feel hungry when I'm at a convention. I have to remind myself to eat when I haven't in a while. So going without wasn't a big deal, and I wasn't about to miss the AMV contest like I'd missed the WTF. I'd entered my Azumanga vid as an exhibition entry and one last hurrah. I wanted to hear the laughter of the crowd one more time, no matter what I had to ditch to get there.
So I wasn't turned away when I got there and found out only a small section of Main Programming was being used and it was packed to the brim. I worked my way over to the far wall and stood around there until some seats opened up partway through the contest. I know Detour's grid is really full, but... the AMV contest has to have a bigger room. Especially when it runs on Saturday. OMG.
The contest was good, there were several very nice vids in there. Among them... was the Death Note AMV that won at Anime Boston. Hm. I love that video, and was excited to see it again, but it concerns me that we're going to start getting that "same vids at every con" thing going on. As long as we're a small con, I would hope we wouldn't get that much notice so soon. :\
My video ran last. I was a bit surprised that it wasn't in a separate "Exhibition" category, but whatever. It got laughter, and a good-sized cheer at the end, and I absorbed as much as I could. And then I wondered if I could really give up AMVs. I still think I should, but... there's nothing quite like this.
After the contest ended, I checked in at Ops again, and the sandwiches finally showed up, but it was taking ages to get them all organized (so many @_@) so I gave up and went back to my room to work on fanfic contest stuff. I finally had all the judge's opinions in, so I had those to reconcile, and I had to do word counts on all the drabble contest entries to separate the eligible from the ineligible. I worked on that until the "Five Years of Anime Detour" panel rolled around at 6. I love to hear stories about the early years of the con, even if it brings fresh regret for not getting involved sooner. So I listened in on that, and finally got to say hi to the former chair, who'd been around but I hadn't had a chance to speak to. After that I went straight back to my room for more fanfic contest work. I was hoping to get everything together so I'd have time to run to Kinko's before my shift at 9, but I didn't quite make it. So around 8:30, I finally got a sandwich, and then it was back to Ops for the 9 to midnight shift.
Saturday night shift is the worst. Bar none. The con is the fullest it's going to be, the dance and who knows what else is going on, and if anything crazy is going to happen that's going to be the time. So there were Issues. Major issues. In addition to the usual lost items and things, which are double due to the dance, and any other weirdness that might be going on. And amid all that I was trying to finish up my stuff for the fanfic contests and judge the drabble entries. I did get a little help on the latter from one of the main contest judges, which was a relief, I don't ever want to be the only judge for anything. I got through it okay, but that was a stressful shift. Again with the multitasking skills. And it didn't really help that I forgot my meds and was too busy to run back to my room. -_- (That was just as well, though, since I wouldn't have had them for Monday if I hadn't skipped on Saturday.) I think by that time the con was really starting to wear on everyone. The atmosphere was definitely different than it had been on Friday.
When I got off at midnight, it was Kinko's time. I found a 24-hour one over in Edina and headed there straight after my shift. I had Judge's Choice certificates to print out, and the files I had assembled of the main fanfiction contest winners. 200 pages at 2:00 in the morning. Why 2:00? Because I got there and realized I had forgotten to export my Open Office file as a PDF. I had to go back to the hotel, re-save it, and go all the way back. And my next Ops shift was 8 AM Sunday. I definitely don't want to be doing that again. Next year this is going to get done before the con. Blargh.
It did get done, though, so I was all set for Sunday, except for being really tired.
Sunday, April 6
I got back to Ops at 8 AM to relieve the staffer who'd taken my place at midnight. Saturday night is when even the best-laid plans start to break down. By Sunday our on-duty board was ancient. People were working way more hours than they should have been. Organization in general was heading downhill. But on the whole, we hung in there, and once I woke up a bit I personally had a good day. After I got off at noon, I had the fanfic contest awards panel at 1 PM, which got a great turnout for a Sunday. I still wasn't very smooth at the whole announcement thing, but it went all right, and then we had a great group general discussion afterwards. About half the winners were there to accept their awards, not bad at all. The drabble contest winner was there as well, so I was able to give him his award too. Very positive experience for the first year. Next year, though, if there's no general fanfic panel again, I'm going to request one myself so we can still do the reading of the winner at the contest awards panel. I think that's an important thing to do.
After that I finally had a sizeable block of free time. I wandered the con, took pictures, and checked out the dealer's room and artist's alley. Didn't buy much, but I did pick up several original comics in AA, and some other fun things I'll post a picture of later. There was some downtime... pretty much everything closed down about an hour before Closing Ceremonies, leaving everyone with nothing to do. I made a mental note to bring that up at the follow-up staff meeting. Then I went to Closing Ceremonies, where several other people were on their last nerve, but the main talent of Anime Detour is the ability to keep such things hidden from the attendees. I've always been very impressed with that, as an attendee and now as a staffer. All cons have problems, but at Detour, the general membership never knows about them. That's a key sign of priorities being in the right place.
Closing Ceremonies was as it tends to be. Brief and ranging from fun to mushy. Our chairman is one of the best people I know, but he does say some corny things sometimes. Heartfelt, but corny. ^^; There were also the contest winner announcements. I've promised to work up the courage to announce the fanfic contest winners myself next year. That's gonna be hard. ^^;; Aaaand there was the video. Programming (?) had put together a silly farewell tribute to the Ramada (since this was our last year there) with all the staffers in it. Wow, that thing was hilariously bad. xD The crowd seemed to get a kick out of it, though, so overall that counts as win. ;P
And that was The End of That. Curtain down, game over, pack-up time. And the beginning of another bout of frustration for me.
I need to stop having expectations. Of any kind. About anything. I think that's always been my problem when it comes to Detour. Last year I expected to be busy, based on all the stories I'd heard. When I wasn't, I was devastated. This year I pretty much only expected to be busy during tear-down, since that's mainly when I was useful in 2007. So when I was busy during the rest of the con, that was a happy surprise. But when it came to tear-down, and I was sitting around in Ops doing nothing, and then tried to volunteer help in the dealer's room and ended up sitting around keeping an eye on one dealer's stuff, that was a letdown. I don't like sitting around uselessly when other people are running themselves ragged, especially now that I'm starting to feel like more of a part of the team.
It's been ten years since I was associated with any group I really felt I could belong to. It's hard to get used to that possibility again, especially with the necessary degrees of separation there have to be with con staff. Now that I don't feel useless anymore, I'm getting to really care about these people, and it's hard to see people I care about freaking out over things and not being able to help or even know why. There was An Issue Sunday, and I know as a general peon it was none of my business, but it still killed me to feel so helpless. Add to that the fact that I couldn't even distract myself by keeping busy, since I had almost nothing to do during clean-up, and that was not a fun situation. But I survived.
After that was the mass dinner at TGI Friday's, where there was good food and fun stories from the guests. We couldn't seem to resist talking about plans for improving Operations in 2009, but there's no real harm in that, as long as we manage to remember the key ideas (not sure how much hope there is of that, haha). And then it was sleep time. There was probably stuff going on somewhere, but I never know what's going on, and after a while I gave up looking and went to sleep. ^^; I needed sleep anyway... but I ended up getting a bit too much. I got just enough sleep to get out of "con mode" and into "recovery mode," but not enough to actually recover. So Monday I woke up pretty worn out and it wasn't easy to get out of bed. x_x
Monday, April 7
Once I managed to get up, I got all my stuff packed up and into my car in a reasonable amount of time. I started to help finish packing up Ops, but it wasn't long before we were told the truck was full and we were taking a break to go to IHOP. Since I'd had a little time to start helping, I didn't feel too guilty about joining in. As it turned out, it didn't matter anyway. ^^; When we got there, a few people had been stranded back at the hotel without a ride, so I went back to pick them up. By the time we got back to IHOP, all the other Ops people were getting their food and a ton more people were ordering, and I didn't want to be stuck there still eating when everyone else went back to work. So I decided to skip breakfast. And then, it turned out the guys with the truck were stuck at a slow table, so we all had to wait anyway and I totally could've ordered food. -_- But again, I don't feel hungry often at cons, so it was okay.
After that we finished packing up, got everything into the storage locker (amazingly), and then there was the after-party at the chairman's house. I didn't go last year (again, I never know what's going on -_-), but I happened to hear about it this year and gave someone a ride so I'd have a solid excuse to go. :3 Now that in itself was a crazy thing. Two years ago I was a face in the crowd at Detour, and now here I was driving to the chairman's house with the former chairman. How wild is that? I'm so lucky that my local con is one that's still so open and accepting.
That's another thing. I may whine sometimes, because I'm emo and pathetic, but Anime Detour is an amazing experience run by a phenomenal group of people. I am so, so fortunate that it happens to be my local convention. It's always been my favorite, even after all the cons I've been to. And I don't think these people hear how awesome they are often enough. So I'm making an effort to do something about that. I gave the vice-chair a slice of honesty, since he's leaving soon, and the same to the chairman, since he had a rough Sunday. I hope it meant something in some small way. Also on my list are the head of guests and the co-head of security, who I hope to corner at a staff meeting. These people kill themselves for this event and they don't hear enough compliments.
As for myself, I'm glad I stuck it out after a bad start. My main aim right now is to never, ever forget how much I love this con, no matter what happens. This was a good year, but they won't always be that way. If I ever quit, I couldn't go to Detour anymore, and there are few sadder thoughts than that. ;) There's nothing I wouldn't do for these people and this organization.