skjam: Ghost cat in a fez (fez)
I had a great time, and my con report is up at my blog!

Happy News

Jul. 1st, 2012 07:58 pm
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
Everyone's mix CDs came in on time, big thanks to those of you who put in extra effort, and the packages for the out-of-towners will be going out Monday. We have five very different themes, all of which look fascinating. Now I can finally listen to them!

I'll have some extras for people at ConVergence of my mix, and I understand Baron Dave will as well.

Also, I won a Good Samaritan award at work, which is given out by the previous winner in our department to who has been the most helpful in their opinion. I got cited for my United Way raffle basket. So now I get to display a Samaritan statuette at my desk for July, and think about who to pass it on to at the end. (Those of you who've read Astro City will understand why being compared to Samaritan is a double-edged compliment.)

Hope you are all as well can be expected,
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
Picked up several books and a couple of sketches I'm going to put in a United Way raffle basket at work.

One amusing find was the Beano Annual 2012. The Beano is the longest-running British comic book, full of mischievous children in silly gag stories. This was my favorite of this year's stories.

role reversal )


Apr. 16th, 2012 07:33 pm
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
So, I should probably say a bit about Minicon while I still have some memory of it.

It's hard to think of a bigger contrast to Anime Detour that still resembles a convention. From circa five thousand attendees to less than five hundred. And since the Doubletree started remodeling the second Detour was over, almost the entirety of Minicon was squeezed into the Plaza Tower. I am deeply impressed by the work of both the concom and the Doubletree staff to get everything set up and working properly in the very short time they had.

I am happy to report that despite my room being on "the party floor" a combination of good manners on the part of attendees and decent soundproofing allowed me to get a full night's sleep.

I thought the panels I was on went well, and enjoyed most of the ones I went to. (I was kind of groggy during the "funny stories about computer history" panel, so missed many of the jokes.)

Got a nice affordable piece of art by one of the guests of honor--safe for work, too!

Looking forward to seeing the remodeled Doubletree in July, though I alas will be sleeping in the Crowne Plaza, so once again no late night parties for me.
skjam: (Communications)
Minicon is this weekend, and I've just heard back on my panel requests. I'm on three panels, all on Saturday.

SAT 11:30 AM Krushenko's - Atrium 7
Believable Antagonists
What makes a good antagonist? What makes an antagonist believable? Why does Gaius Baltar on Battlestar Galactica work better than Anakin Skywalker in Episode III? Is the antagonist more about motivations, or contrast with the protagonist?

(This one has lots of name authors on it, including Will Shetterly and Lois McMaster Bujold, so I don't think I'll need to say very much.)

SAT 2:30 PM Atrium 3
Let Me Tell You About My Character!
What gaming conversations make you want to flee in terror? Why are these conversations so fascinating to the storyteller, and so horribly boring for the listener? What is unique about RPGs that cause this phenomenon?

(I'll likely have quite a bit more to say here.)

SAT 4:00 PM Bloomington
Fanfic: Playing in Someone Else's Sandbox
Fanfiction isn't new, though the internet has made it much more accessible in the last two decades. Where is it growing? What is there to know about the explosion of fanfiction? How can we find fanfiction that we
like? How can we find communities to help us develop our work? How do fanfic authors critique each other's writing?

(And this one is near and dear to my heart.)

Hope to see some of you there!
skjam: (Imnanna)
First off, both parents are out of the hospital and doing well at home. Huzzah!

This last weekend was Anime Detour, with the theme of "It Came From Japan."

Due to poor timing, I wound up in the Crowne Plaza hotel, so it was shuttle buses for me back and forth. This didn't work too well on Friday, as the shuttle driver got stuck in traffic coming back from the airport and had both shuttles' keys on him so the backup driver couldn't substitute. Things were moving much more smoothly by Sunday and checkout time. One of these years, I'll have to actually eat in the Plaza's restaurant.

Most exciting new thing this year was Otaku Speed Dating. Separate events for gay and hetero folks, to reduce confusion. To no one's surprise, guys outnumbered gals in line for the one I went to, and some had to be turned away. The room was relatively small and the acoustics were not suitable for about eighty people all talking at the same time. One minute per candidate, change seats.

I had more (very short) conversations with women in that one hour than I've had over the last three Anime Detours. Those of you who've known me for a while are aware that while I'm not particularly shy, painful experience has made it difficult for me to engage women I haven't been introduced to in conversation. Being given explicit permission to do so helped immensely.

Sadly, I got not one single "match"--not too surprising given I was at least a decade older than anyone else in the room, and the...other problems. Still very disappointing. I got a consolation email with pictures of puppies and kittens.

Most interesting normal panel was "Weeaboos Then and Now", talking about Japanophilia as it was in Victorian times, now, and some points inbetween.

Some nice AMVs as always--this year the contest broke up the showing order of the nominees a bit for better flow. NO WTF video contest this year, apparently.

I skipped the formal cosplay, most amusing hall costume I saw was someone as Amu from Shugo Chara, with three dolls representing her Charas hovering above her shoulder on wires.

Weather was cooler than expected, though it did warm up by Sunday evening when I left.

This coming week is Minicon, look forward to seeing some of you there.
skjam: (Communications)
The initial selection for panels at ConVergence 2012: Wonder Women is up, and I've put in my request for a few to be seated on.

_High Priority_
Heroines of Anime and Manga (I proposed this topic.)
Homemakers are Awesome (I also proposed this topic.)
DC Reboot (Did not propose this one, but am a huge DC fan.)
New Manga in English (Also a huge manga fan)

_Less Priority_
Anime 101
The Most Annoying Female Character Ever
Transformative Works
Moral Choices for Strong Heroines
Naming Characters
Why Is Wonder Woman In Development Hell?

Naturally, I am hoping that other people will join the panels I proposed so they can actually be on the final schedule.
skjam: (Communications)
First off, there's an icon and other virtual art sale by Indigo over here--

And here's a rare treat: A Roger Zelazny reading at the Fourth Street Fantasy Convention many years ago.
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
ConVergence was fun. The Sofitel has industrial strength curtains in its rooms.

Frank Merriwell Down South (1903)Frank Merriwell Down South by Burt L. Standish

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is the fifth of the long-running Frank Merriwell series of exciting books for boys. (See my review for "Frank Merriwell's School Days", the first of the series.) In this volume, following on directly from the cliffhanger in "Frank Merriwell's Trip West," our hero first searches for a lost Silver Palace in Mexico. After that, he travels to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, and must solve the mystery of the Queen of Flowers. This is followed by a sojourn in the Florida Everglades and a white canoe that paddles itself, and finally an encounter with moonshiners in the mountains of Tennessee.

To be honest, this book feels like four short stories loosely stitched together more than a proper novel. And I am given to wonder if they weren't first serialized in a magazine first--at least one of the chapters ends in a cliffhanger that would work better if one had to wait an entire week for the outcome, not a mere quarter of the way into a bound volume.

The first story was my least favorite and brought my rating down by a full star. The antiquated ethnic stereotypes shift from "19th Century, you so crazy" to the stench of racism with the depiction of Mexicans. Even the compulsively decent Frank is seen to say "One Yankee is good for six greasers." That aside, the ending was very weak, with the climax taking place off-screen and one of Frank's archenemies killed off in a couple of lines.

The second story likewise ends weakly, with the antagonist killed off before his plotline can be resolved, and another character's motivation explained with "Frank later learned that...."

The third story is much stronger, with a weird feel to the mysterious goings-on, but does suffer from one too many amazing coincidences. There's an unknown species of maneating plant at one point, for those who like a bit of fantasy in their stories.

The fourth story is much enlivened by one of the better female characters in the series, Kate Kenyon, and manages the coincidences much better.

Not particularly recommended due to the first story, if you are sharing this with a younger reader it's best to discuss why that sort of cheap ethnic stereotyping isn't acceptable anymore.

View all my reviews

Happy Fourth of July!
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
(A Jack LaLane Memorial Mix CD)

As organized by [personal profile] barondave, the "Jack LaLane Memorial Mix Exchange" is songs that are about exercise, make you want to exercise, or are good to exercise to. I decided to go with mostly fast dance numbers, with a couple of breather tracks.

1. "Ready Steady Go"--L'Arc En Ciel (The opening theme to the first Fullmetal Alchemist anime)
2. "Bell Hop"--John Shakespeare (busy day at the hotel)
3. "Wapiko's Weather Forecast!"--Yoko Ishida (A "parapara" (dancing game) remix--"Fair and sunny tomorrow!")
4. "Bellydance"--Saad (The most generic bellydancing tune ever.)
5. "Unequaled boisterous dance, the sky is too small"--Read Or Die Original Soundtrack (Our heroine battles a flying machine man.)
6. "Blinkandyou'llmissit!"--Bo Pepper (The young lady has no time to waste.)
7. "Scatter the Mud"--The Irish Experience (Irish dancing music, natch.)
8. "Blow the Man Down"--Johnny Collins (classic sea shanty, steady as she goes.)
9. "The Scarlet & Gray Rag"--The Tailgate Dixieland Band (Ohio State University-based tune.)
10. "Boosters On"--Kaoru Wada (The spaceship prepares to launch.)
11. "Get Rhythm"--Johnny Cash (Toe-tapping fun.)
12. "Round & Round Hitler's Grave"--The Almanac Singers (World War Two hit, obviously.)
13. "Bounce-o-Rama (Speed-Up Ver.)"--Kingdom Hearts II Soundtrack (videogame music meets Tigger.)
14. "Popcorn"--Hot Butter (This one ought to bring back some memories.)
15. "Buckeye Battle Cry (2003)--The OSU Marching Band (Fight! Fight! Win!)
16. "Pep Vim and Verve"--Jeff Vince and Andrew Paley (from the "Dick Tracy" movie soundtrack.)
17. "Bumbo"--Moondog (Jungle-themed tune.)
18. "Patriotic Diggers"--John Allison (Ditchdigging is exercise too.)
19. "Happy Feet"--Paul Whiteman (But tapdancing is more fun.)
20. "Captain Jack"--Captain Jack (This one will seem familiar to veterans.)
21. "Kung Fu Fighting"--Girls on Top (I pretty much guarantee you've seldom heard this version of the song.)
22. "Chocobo Will Walk, No Matter How Far"--Final Fantasy Unlimited Soundtrack (The animated TV series...not all that good, but hey, chocobos!)
23. "Kol haKavod"--Yehoram Gaon (Israeli dance music.)
24. "Cuyashca"--Ruminahui (South American dance music. Love me some panflute.)
25. "Jungle Dance"--Max Steiner (From the "King Kong" soundtrack.)
26. "Dance Away"--Annie Livingston (From the "Project A-ko" soundtrack.)
27. "Flashdance: What a Feeling"--London Ensemble and Soloists (A movie about people prancing about in legwarmers? Sounds like exercise to me.)
28. "I Love to Walk"--Alf Clausen (Homer Simpson on the benefits of exercise.)
29. "Haul Away Joe"--Bramblebush (Another sea shanty.)
30. "We Kept On Dancing"--Nate Bucklin (And in conclusion, everybody dance!)

I'll be at Minicon--the most likely place to catch me is at my two panels: "What Happens After the Cure?" Saturday at 11:30 AM, and "Recommend an RPG For Me" Saturday at 7:00 PM.

But I should at some point drop in at the various parties. If you haven't been participating in this exchange, see me about other mixes you could trade.
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
Hi folks! As promised to the folks on here's a look at the "TV Tropes Will Ruin Your Life" panel at Anime Detour 2011.

Photos! )

Hope to see more tropers next time! Anyone coming to ConVergence?
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
Here's a list of the panels I've signed up for at ConVergence 2011-- actual schedule yet to be determined.

Comics and Manga - not just for Six Year Olds

Social Commentary in Comics

The Legion of Super Heroes

Beginning Gamemastering

Overexposed Characters

Femme Fatales of the Pulps

How the Pulps Saw the Future

Interesting Bad Guys

Terrorists of the Pulp Era


And one I suggested that may be scheduled if it gets enough interest...

_Retro and Historical Anime and Manga_

Description: Steam Detectives, Steamboy, Emma: A Victorian Romance and many other anime/manga titles look to the past, or a future that looks like the past. Come discuss your favorites, where they do well and where liberties have been taken.
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
Christmas happened. It was good to see the family again, and much fun was had. The gift I gave out that seemed the most awesome was a volume of Amerlia Rules for the youngest niece. She was already halfway through when it came time for her to leave.

They'd changed the bus schedules so my bus back to the Cities left about noon; the folks and I had brunch in the Banning Junction cafe. Sadly, it seems that business is down, and that part of the restaurant is now closed and looking for someone to rent.

Snow and cold continue to dominate the weather.

I missed getting a room in the Sheraton for ConVergence; the room committee has acknowledged my request for a Sofitel room, but no guarantees, and I won't find out for a while if it took. I do have a room for Anime Detour though.

Work is tolerable. My supervisor went to Nicaragua for a couple of weeks and brought back souvenirs; I'll be regifting the coffee.

Oh, and back to Christmas for the moment, I sent out all the wishlist items, finally. I hope everyone got them okay. I was very pleased with several mix CDs, some candy, books and so forth. Thanks, internet!

For hobby stuff, I have been "liveblogging" the Republic movie serial "Zorro's Fighting Legion" over on the TV Tropes website. Take a look:
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
I don't know if anyone outside my immediate family still reads these, but just in case, here's a slightly late look at my Fourth of July weekend.

Bring On the Bad Guys )
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
And the weekend begins for me.

Hope to see some of you at the convention, for those I don't, have a safe and fun weekend, with any fireworks at just the right distance for enjoyment.
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
The BCP (Bankruptcy, Consumer Credit Counseling and Probate) Department moved on Friday. We went from the third floor to the fifth, with our new Risk Management peers. Unfortunately, the moving people got delayed or there just weren't enough of them, as by the end of the day, most of our computers and personal paperwork hadn't made it upstairs. So instead of spending the last hour of Friday getting ready to start first thing Monday morning, we're going to spend the first hour of Monday trying to get ready before the phones go live.

It's a secure floor, so we will really need to have our badges handy to move around, even just to hit the restrooms. Also, the escalator doesn't come up that far, so the elevators and stairwell are chokepoints.

We have a new employee incentive store (gain X amount of Bullseye Bucks and cash in for prizes)--they gave us all $25 as a starter, only for us to discover that inflation has set in, and candy bars cost $100. It'll be a while before I get any good prizes, even if I do well in the evaluations.

Looking forward to ConVergence; hope to see a few of you there, there's still a couple of spots on the Villains of Anime and Manga panel if you'd like to be a panelist.

The U's anime club, MAS, is starting showings again this Thursday, and for a change I have a show to suggest. (first week will be voting on possible shows for the rest of summer.) "Living for the Day After Tomorrow," aka Asatte no Houkou.

Oh, and this coming Saturday is Free RPG Day, and the Source will be participating for the first time.

Also for local folks, you may want to check out the Saved By The Bell show at the Bryant Lake Bowl. I know a couple of the people involved (you may remember them from "Hamluke") and I understand an actual cast member of Saved By the Bell (The TV version) will be attending at least one of the showings.
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
The Programming folks at ConVergence have issued a partial schedule with the panels that have enough people. "Gunpowder and Bloodshed: Dark Heroes of the Pulps" and "Villains of Manga and Anime" aren't on there yet.

So, if you're going to ConVergence and would like one or the other of these panels to be run, please consider actually signing up as a panelist so they can get on the schedule.

Thanks for your attention!

Minicon 45

Apr. 4th, 2010 07:00 pm
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
Yes, it was Easter weekend, and time for my annual trip to Minicon. Once again it was held at the Sheraton Bloomington, even though to be honest it could fit in a much much smaller hotel. (450 memberships, of whom 430 actually showed up for at least a little while.)

The Sheraton had a couple of new twists to their service this year; one was the option of not having housekeeping clean your room for the day--for which you could get a $5 discount in the hotel restaurant (or extra points on the frequent stayers' club.) You can bet I took advantage of this. The other was a new entertainment lounge for guests, where you could have up to 90 minutes a day of free internet access per room. (More if you brought your own computer.)

I would like them to bring back the airport shuttle though, that was more immediately helpful.

The good thing about small conventions is breathing space--you can actually talk to someone without having to squeeze against the wall to let an endless stream of people get by...or ignore those people as you block the hall. Plus the chance that you'll actually run into the guests outside of formal panels or signings--and not be competing with a score of other people who also need to speak to that person right now.

As I think I mentioned before, this year's Author GoH was Brandon Sanderson, the fellow who's been tapped to finish the Wheel of Time series. Apparently, the second of three books is on its final draft and may be out by the end of the year. He also brought along his editor, and the artist GoH was Dan Dos Santos, who among other things did the cover to Mr. Sanderson's "Warbreaker" book. Lots of previous guests also came back (Minicon is small, but welcoming), including Ben Bova and Baron Dave Romm (who brought along his mother for her first ever SF con...she seemed to be having a ball, and learning a lot.)

So, panels I attended: The Snob in Every Fan (what parts of fandom do fans look down on as even more pathetic than their own?), Opening Ceremonies (always a treat), Recursiveness in Science Fiction that's About Recursiveness (stories about stories, stories that eat their own tails, stories about the process of writing a story....), Who Wants to Live Forever? (The up sides and down sides of immortality, and the comparative virtues of the different ways to achieve it), The Editors' Panel (Ben Bova said he owed his editorial career to the tobacco industry, as John Campbell smoked himself to death), Avatar-Cinema Event of the Year or Festival of Plagarism? (Yes), Do I Know Enough Science to Write Science Fiction? (Maybe, but research and fact-checking are key), Playing the God Card (Not about Yu-Gi-Oh! but about the hazards and challenges of using gods in your stories), How Brandon Got the Gig: Finishing the Wheel of Time (short version: Robert Jordan's widow really liked his writing.)

I saw bits of "Thunderbirds are Go!" and "Robinson Crusoe on Mars" in the film room--it will probably be in a smaller space next year as it tends to be lightly attended.

And yes, there was a huckster's room/artshow/science room. (The convention is small enough that all three and puzzle tables could fit in one large room.) I...picked up a few things, some of which will be surprises for the appropriate people.

I left early, as with no shuttle I could not rely on the bus to arrive in time to get me to the transfer point, and I walked from the Sheraton to Fuddrucker's. Lovely day for a walk, but I'm getting too feeble for long marches. (And sure enough, after I made it to the transfer point, the suburban bus showed up, I would only have had to wait an hour.)

Time to go

Apr. 2nd, 2010 10:46 am
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
It's off to Minicon, where I hope to see a few of you! Though as little sleep as I've been getting lately, I may be using my room more than usual to catch up.

Some of the rest of you are going to see me at Anime Detour at the other end of April, or at Convergence in July.


Good News!

Mar. 9th, 2010 09:19 pm
skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)
My hotel reservation for ConVergence has finally come through, so barring some major recanting on the part of the hotel or the concom, I will be able to control my own timeline at the convention.

Speaking of which, ConVergence Programming has started taking requests for seating on possible panels. These are the ones I've penciled in as wanting to be on (as opposed to just attending.)

* Villains of Anime and Manga
* Gunsmoke and Bloodshed: Dark Heroes of the Pulps
(I suggested both these panels in the first place, so it was kind of mandatory that I sign up to help make them happen.)
* Disney Villains
* Giant Atomic Monsters
* Villains in Role-Playing Games
* Behind the Sofa: Villains of Doctor Who
* The Pulps
* Current Popular Manga
* Bring Me Up To Speed (a comics panel)
* Old Time Radio

I might sign up for more when the "on the bubble" list comes out.


skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (Default)

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