the_archfiend: (Default)
Namely, this. Oy gevalt.

I try my damnedest to be positive about anime fandom and anime conventions in general, but it's shit like this and the entire creeper debacle at Project A-Kon back in 2013 that remind me what a mistake that can be. I wish I could sit back and say things like this never happen, but that's simply not the case.
the_archfiend: (Default)

This has nothing to do with the recent SFWA fiasco, but it's yet another illustration of the unpleasant fact that sexism in fandom is alive and well in some corners - and with a vengeance.

Around the time of a recent Project A-Kon in Dallas, two groups of Twitter-enabled creeps using the hastags #gropecrew and #rapecrew decided that it would be such fun to sexually harass female cosplayers attending that convention by making a series of sexually explicit threats against them. From the Daily Dot article:

A pastebin document from ED (Encyclopedia Dramatica) members created shortly before the convention which mentions (ED  sysadmin) MeepSheep and trolling was originally tagged #gropecrew. The mention of "cwc" could be Twitter user colesl4w_king, who, along with MeepSheep and a handful of others, sent threats of rape, harassment, and even murder to con attendees over the weekend.

You could read the entire article (and should), but my guess is that you'd still be just as disgusted by this as anyone else who's been involved in fandom for as long I have. Granted, I'm on the far end of the age spectrum when it comes to anime fandom (I've been into anime longer than some of the people who now attend conventions have even been alive), but I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone would go to these lengths to harass and threaten people via a medium that can be so easily backtracked unless there's something seriously fucking wrong with them in the first place.

And yes, I know that ED is a site for Internet shit-stirrers. So what? Are they actually justified in doing this for that reason?

I suppose that this could be classified under the general term "creeping", but that term is starting to seem rather insufficient to describe some of the following:

The now-banned Twitter user xplsvs, using the #gropecrew hashtag, sent one Twitter user a picture of a murder victim with slit throat.

Other participants joked about infecting con attendees with HIV ("poz" is slang for having the virus):

At least one Twitter user alleged that the Grope Crew took the trolling offline and actually made good on its threats.

Unbelievable, Simply unbelievable.

I suppose that some people out there - someone whose own misogyny is so intense that he literally believes that "the little bitches deserved it", or someone so naive that he thinks that this is just some prankster ring's idea of fannish fun n' games and that it therefore has no real-life consequences - is eventually going to step forward and defend this crap. They're idiots. Maybe not as big a set of idiots as the perpetrators themselves, but still idiots just the same.

So if anyone else is going to choose this time to claim that they're isn't a sexism problem in fandom in general and anime fandom in particular, don't bother. Others have rebutted your argument far worse than I ever could.

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This is getting to be a depressing annual occurence.

If you happen to look at the Anime Central guest list for 2013 (as well as the special entertainment page), the only guests of honor you will find listed as of March 13th are the Japanese vocal trio Kalafina and mural artist Eric Maruscak. That's it. Period. The convention itself - which drew over 24,000 attendees in 2012 and has never had a contraction in attendance throughout its 15-year history - is now only slightly more than two months away.

That's two announced guests. With two months to go before the start of a convention that probably outdrew every mainstream SF convention in Chicago held during 2012 (including Chicon 7, no less) combined.

Add to this the fact that the hotel rooms continue to be absurdly expensive for a convention where there's more of an inducement to spend tons of your hard-earned dollars in the exhibition hall on fannish goodies and not less, and you're left wonderning why ACen is becoming more and more like this each year. This is starting to look like a pattern, especially since it took until the eleventh hour to announce any real guests last year as well. Can the concom stop this? Do they even want to?

Look, when I started attending this thing in 1999 it was a nice, manageable size. Now it's not. The rooms were also quite affordable. Now they're not, and this actually hasn't been the case in years. I have no real idea why I'd rather go to this over, say, C2E2 or Anime Midwest since the former (although not fan-run) has just as big a dealer's room (if not more so) and the latter costs much, much less money to stay at despite the fact it's held in the same primary hotel that Acen is.

People affiliated with ACen can feel free to snipe at me here or ony my Facebook page. Go right ahead, with one distinction: it's not like I have anything personal against any of you,  other than the fact that you're pricing this convention out of the reach of my wallet, I also get the feeling I'm not the only one.  
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You'll have to pardon me for bitching about a subject that never fails to irritate me, but consider the following numbers very carefully when you compare the following Chicago-area fannish conventions:

Capricon 31 (from memory): $107/night, single through quad; $119/night for a party suite

Duckon: the rate for Duckon 20 was taken off the web site, but IIRC it was either was $99 or $109/night for a standard single or double. 

Windycon 38 (upcoming): $103/night for a regular room, $153/night for a party suite. 

Chicon 7 in 2012: the rates aren't posted, but I seem to remember them being locked in at $145/night for a standard room.  

Anime Central (2012): $175/night single through quad and suites "half off of the Hyatt's rack rate per night." 

Does that last one seem just a bit...pricy to anyone? Especially in relation to the other con's room rates that I just quoted?

A bit of a gedankenexperiment, here: If you go directly to the Hyatt corporate web site and try to make a reservation for the weekend previous to Acen 2012 (unsurprisingly, online reservations aren't available the weekend of the con), you get rates ranging anywhere from $189/night to $229/night depending on what level of extra doodads you want with the package. In other words, if you choose to register through the convention room block, your savings for a standard room amounts to a whole $14 worth of savings a day. Big Whoop. Especially when you consider that other anime cons such as Kollision Con got rates from $99 to $119/night and Anime Midwest ended up getting $99 to $109/night. To be fair, both are booked at the Pheasant Run in St. Charles, but Anime World Chicago isn't, and they succeeded in getting a rate of only $89/night for a first-time anime con, for crying out loud! 

At one time, I was under the impression that Acen got taken to the cleaners by Hyatt Regency O'Hare staff on their room rates because - unlike mainsteam, fan-run SF conventions - their hotel liasions were either inexperienced in dealing with special events staff at hotels or were just brow-beaten into lousy contracts by high-pressure sales tactics. For example, their basic contract at the now defunct Sheraton Chicago Northwest was $99/night the last year they were there. I don't believe any of that anymore, as the results I posted above fully indicate. And this from a convention that has always insisted that moving to a different location (such as McCormick Place, which is their default position on this question on their web site's forums) would be prohibitively expensive. 

Which leads to this question: expensive to who, exactly?
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One of these days - and I hope it's soon - somebody somewhere will get the idea that holding a anime-related cosplay event does not entitle you to engage in outright stupidity like this, and that you just might want to make sure that such things have been okayed in advance with the city's gendarmes before you end up finding out that they're really, really protective of expensive civic tourist traps.

Just sayin'.
the_archfiend: (Default)
 Well, that was enjoyable despite the fact that I had to work the anime/film room while it was plagued by a defective DVD player (which caused subtitles to stall between episodes or even chapters; the DVDs in question were perfectly okay on other BlueRay players) and that far too much indulgence in food and/or booze caused my weight to swell 5 pounds despite the fact that I usually lose weight during SF conventions. 

Next con? Less over-indulgence and more participation. I'm not planning to volunteer at Anime Central (I did sp for Security/IRT three years from 2003-5; I'm not going through that again anytime soon), and if I find the time and/or scratch to go to Duckon I'm only working it someone begs and offers to drag me to a good local restaurant at least once during that weekend. I know the layout of the Hyatt Regency Woodfield well enough from past Windycons to know where X leads into Y, and one good thing about the Woodfield is that there's far less ground there for a staffer to cover than at Acen. 

In case anyone's perusing photos on Facebook of the MIB Pirate Party (and a big thanks to those of you who voted us best party for the fifth straight year), I am indeed the short, unshaven goof with the shot cup "bandoleros". I sincerely hope that the photo of me assuming the Craig Ferguson insincere "CBS Cares" steepled prayer hands has been reproduced somewhere by now. 
the_archfiend: (Default)
Can't any anime con in Chicago not called Anime Central get an even break?

From the web site's front - and apparently only - page:

Since closing ceremonies of the first ever Kollision Con, we have been searching high and low for a new location.
At this moment Kollision has it's sights set, and is in talks with perspective venues!

When we have news to announce, it will go up right here first!

Uh huh. Sure it will.

There have been several attempts to start up - and maintain  - an Chicago-based anime convention competing with Acen in the past. Reactor (2003-7. 2009) ultimately fell apart because of reasons that I can't publicly go into here. Anime Sound and Vision was a one-shot (other than a smaller event they held in March 2005) that apparently wasn't intended as such. The same goes for KazeCon, which tried to relocate to Milwaukee (now home of - what else? Anime Milwaukee)
and failed. Fan Service never got off the ground in the first place. 

Now, the wisdom of scheduling a convention on the same weekend as local SF stalwart Windycon (and held at the Hyatt Regency Woodfield - Windy's old location for over 15 years, for crying out loud) last year seems more than a bit questionable (in both timing and locale) to me. Still, I don't understand why Acen - a convention practically bursting at the seams with attendees and which has the highest hotel rates for any annual fan-run convention in the Chicago area - is still paramount when they've had so many problems in the past. The DDoS attack that effectively destroyed its on-site registration process (and caused thousands of people, including me, to stand in line for over 6 hours) a few years ago was an prime indicator of this, but Acen still thrives - and increases
in size every year - while its competition just turns into dust. Go figure.
the_archfiend: (Default)
Yeah, it turns out that I'm going to Acen after all. I'll also be bringing a 20-foot tall bottle of Febreze in order to ensure that the S*r*h P*l*n idiot cooties will be thoroughly removed from my hotel room when I arrive tomorrow after her speech to other idiots at the Rosemont Theater tonight.
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Someone, it appears, has gotten word of the Steampunk costumery trend and the meme is spreading to this year's Anime Central.

Yeah, I know not all of the stuff they've got listed is SPunk, but if any of you were appropriately dressed at last year's Windycon, feel free to clink and clank into the Main Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency O'Hare if you're interested.
the_archfiend: (Default)
They'll be mobbing up in Milwaukee on March 12th courtesy Anime Milwaukee, meaning that it's Yet Another Anime Convention (which is either good or bad news depending on your point on view).
the_archfiend: (Default)
No, it's not the fact that it's gotten too big, as this entry in Wikipedia indicates. It's not the fact that IRT - which is what they call their security staff, which I worked for from 2003 to 2005 - has been badly outnumbered and overworked even back when the con had not swelled to over 12,000 attendees. It's not even the fact that a DDoS attack completely knocked out their online registration system in 2008 when they failed to take adequate steps against such attacks and forced people to stand in line for over 6 hours in order to pay for their badge. All of those are annoyances, yes. But they're not as currently annoying as this:

This is a link to Acen's room rates as of today, January 2nd, 2010. As you can tell, the rate was $155 for a single and $165 for a double at the now sold-out Hyatt Regency O'Hare and a little less than that ($16, to be exact) at the Embassy Suites. For comparison's sake, the rate for a regular (single through quad) room at Capricon is $103, Duckon's is $89 (!) for a single through double/double and last year's Windycon rooms ran at $104.

Beginning to see my point, yet?

For further comparison's sake, consider this: if you book a room at the Hyatt Regence O'Hare on the weekend before and after Acen, care to guess what the rates are for a vanilla double/double room? Try $139 on for size. That's right, the regular weekend rate for a room at the Hyatt is $16-26 less than what they're charging for a similar room during a convention that's (A) ostensibly run on a not-for-profit basis and (B) could actually ask the hotel for a deep discount as a result of that status, especially in a recession-wracked economy that's killed off other convention hotels in the past. Likewise, the Embassy Suites charges less or roughly the same rate a week later depending on what type of room you request and how you're paying for it.

Keep in mind that I'm well aware that Acen has a younger, wilder crowd that has damaged hotel property in the past. As a former member of their security staff, I'm well aware of the problem. Let's just say that I'm more than a bit put off by the fact that the current hotel liason seems to be more than a bit...oh...challenged concerning their acumen in dealing with hotels. I could say that in much cruder language, but I'll spare you that experience since I might keep typing obscenities for a good, long time.
the_archfiend: (Default)
After the implosion of Reactor, someone's having another go at it in the form of something called Kollisioncon.

Problem is, the weekend that convention is being held conflicts with Windycon 37, and it's being held in Windycon's old hotel to boot.

No offense to the people trying to start this up, but their sense of timing is just a bit...irritating.

Feel free to append further snarkiness in the comments section below.
the_archfiend: (Default)
You'd have to be a member of their forums to see this yourself, but the administrative director for staff has stated that after this year it's very, very dead.

Thus far, neither Kazecon, Anime Sound and Vision or Reactor has survived to become a serious Chicagoland rival to Anime Central. Of course, there's always these guys...


Sep. 22nd, 2009 07:01 pm
the_archfiend: (Default)
I'm back from Reactor, which - as you can guess about a convention that was in deep freeze for two years due to whatever trouble they got into at the Westin Wheeling - was about as small and shrunken as a Birther's brain because of the layoff.  

A few points:

1) My opinion of the hotel I was at (and I'm not mentioning it by name here, but you can find out which one it was at the con web site or remember if it you were at any Windycons from 2004 to 2007) has gone downhill again. An earlier room change fiasco in 2005 at Windycon caused a roommate of mine to get billed a regular room rate instead of the con rate after front desk newbies co-mingled his reservation records with a departed airline pilot's. Although he cleared that problem up, he still had to come back to said hotel a weekend later to clean up a billing issue for a dinner he didn't have at the restaurant because their computer still thought he was the pilot from Air Dine and Dash. 

Fair enough. We've had problems with those guys before, but those were straightened out.

And now, some more problems. 

Try this one on for size: how about one front desk clerk not finding a record of my roommate's arrival, room number or even the fact that he reserved a key for me? How about my coming back, talking to the other clerk on duty at the time and getting a key after stomping around for over an hour trying to find the room by the poster that he usually puts on the door? Granted, I did find the room by that poster. Nevertheless, I was still in the reservation system since the new clerk checked my ID against the computer's records. What a shock.    

Oh, and then there was the problem with the key card; just like Capricon in 1998 and Worldcon in 2000, a coding bug insured that it would fail every time a new key card was used in the door or whenever another key was recoded because of the same problem. This happened about five times or so over a three day period.
Ah, technology.

Although the addition of roommates helped with the price of the room, the male member of the couple we got in on Friday had a bit of a problem that night. Drinking damn near an entire bottle of Jack Daniels over a few hours resulted in exactly what you'd assume it would result in. I'm just glad it wasn't my bed he, er, decorated. Granted, they helped with the cleanup and paid in full before they split early from the con before Saturday night, but let's just say that the sheets, pillows and comforter weren't found anywhere near their original room.

Oh, and the other problem with the con?
No open room parties allowed. Period.

Like I said before, Reactor has a rep because of past incidents. Still, the fact that I overhead hotel security staffers mentioning down in the bar that they would toss people from rooms after giving them one warning about noise complaints didn't give me pause since con security would probably intervene before that was necessary.

More's the pity that I didn't see any con security. None. Nada. I'm not kidding.   

Oh, they may have been there. They were just using their invisibility powers. Honest. I'm not sure how many people got tossed by hotel security, but my guess is it that happened at least once.

There's a bunch of other stuff I could mention about this thing, but the con chair allegedly quit (or "quit", if you catch my drift) a week before the actual thing was held and it looked it. No badges - wristbands. A "program book" that was four double-sided pages of xeroxes stapled horizontally. An exhibition hall about one one-hundredth the size of Anime Central's, and therefore not providing much in the way of DVD or book bargains, which was my primary reason for going to this thing. And so on.

I could go on, but I'd rather not. I'm just going to have to wait a few months for a better con to go to.  

Unsuprisingly, it probably won't be an anime con.
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I usually don't do this, but I feel I have to vent over the fact that the room rate for the 2010 Acen has shot up to $155 a night for singles and $165 for everyone else, making it the most expensive fannish convention in the Chicago area by far.

A few comparisons are in order, of course.

Reactor: $103 a night 

Windycon: $104 a night; suites at $159

Capricon: $103 a night; suites at $149

Duckon: $89 a night, suites from $129 to $139

While I won't repeat some of the inside stuff that I know about how MAPS/Anime Central apparently negotiates hotel contracts, I think it's glaringly obvious that you're doing a piss-poor job of it when other conventions can negotiate suite rates that beat your standard room rates.  

And this from a con that still maintains not-for-profit status and purportedly isn't an autograph-hunter media con.  



Aug. 17th, 2009 07:31 pm
the_archfiend: (Default)
While staggering around in the southern Wisconsin heat last Saturday at the Bristol Renaissance Faire, the last thing I was thinking of was seeing Hayao Miyazaki's latest, but the fact that it scored a 93 on Rotten Tomatoes (in comparison to, say, a film about toys, something that looked horribly reminiscent of Gray's Anatomy with timeslips in commercials, something that looks just plain bad and something that's actually worse than that) makes me want to check it out - just not this very instant.
the_archfiend: (Default)
Since Beryl was good enough to inform me about this at Anime Central, here: read this.

The last time I can recall going to a adult/mature/don't bring your kids thingum in the Chicago
area, it was 1997's Conversion, which died the death due in no small part to the host hotel's
management team changing; the new guys immediately caught a case of Bad Attitude towards
this thing their predecessors booked and decided to oh-so-helpfully book a prom that very same
weekend. There were other problems besides that, but anyone who was around back then (Bob?
 Anybody else?) may remember all of that other crap. 

Here's hoping these guys are far, far more successful than that.  
the_archfiend: (Default)
I noticed that Wikipedia finally got around to putting up a page concerning one of the best hard sf-based anime series ever made, IMHO.

Feel free to peruse that or this Geocities (!) site, if you wish. 

the_archfiend: (Default)
First, the almost milquetoast complaint about one convention in February:

Memo to the fine people from Capricon's parties department: it's the MIB Pirate party. We gave up dressing up like them thar guys from the Will Smith/Tommy Lee Jones movies eons ago. Next thing you know, people will start calling us the Inquisition and start putting up angry posters as if were Windycon '95 again. Ah, good times...

And now, the snarkier one for a con held around Mother's Day:

Not that I want to shout too loudly at  Anime Central's registration department, but would it be too much for you guys to finally get around to updating your online reg page?  I'm still being shown as owing you money that I don't, since (A) I sent you a check in late September that you guys cashed in mid-October, and (B) you're still showing me as owing $15 more despite that fact and an email I received last November that assured me that you'd be updating your records "soon". Oddly enough, the three emails I sent after that resulted in a vast roaring of crickets and tumbleweeds in response.

You guys are paying attention to this issue, right?

Here's hoping I'm only one of a handful of attendees with this problem, because standing in line for over 7 hours like I did last year because of the DoS attack on your computers hasn't stopped being irksome in my mind yet.
the_archfiend: (Default)
What was it in the local California water supply that gave Frank and The Captain these strange powers over musical notes, anyway...?

Could've been the same stuff that gave Masamune Shirow his powers over artwork.

Or the stuff that made Chrome one of the most appealing avant-rock bands in the bay area back in the 70's or 80's outside of the Residents?

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