ACEN 2017

2017-May-21, Sunday 11:08
dorchadas: (Enter the Samurai)
​I was incredibly nervous for basically all of Thursday and most of Friday before I went to ACEN and I still don't know the reason why. I've had a great time at the last there ACENs I went to. What did I think would happen?

Well, nothing went wrong, but here's my chronicle of what did happen:

At length, but with lots of pictures! )

This is the most actual convention-related stuff I've gone to in a long time, and we would have done even more if storytime hadn't been cancelled. I described it to friends as me scanning down the list and saying, "Alright, which of these panels at an anime convention aren't about anime" but that was...well, pretty much my thought process. Most of the cosplay pictures I took weren't from anime either. I don't go to anime conventions for the anime part. Emoji Chocobo

Looking forward to next year!
dorchadas: (Broken Dream)
You can tell I made that icon in my early twenties.

I've felt a sense of impending doom for the last few days and I'm having a very hard time pinning it down. I suspect some of it is due to Japanese class picking up again today. Aya-sensei was in ConstantinopleIstanbul for a friend's wedding last week, and this week we've scheduled free chat in lieu of reading more from 世界の中心で愛を叫ぶ since she'll have a lot to talk about. Free chat is always more nerve-inducing, but I suppose it's payback for me making the final exam for my second-year English conversation students to talk to me for a few minutes. And I need practice asking questions.

I don't like small talk in English, much less in Japanese.

Some of it is probably because ACEN is coming up and I'm never sure how much I'll like it. The first year we went after coming back from Japan was, but last year was a lot of fun. It's never related to the actual purpose of the con, though. [ profile] stephen_poon said that he used to think "These are my people" when he went and never does anymore, and I feel the same way. "My people" are the friends who I see when I go. I used to be very confused by people who went to cons and spent the whole time in the hotel bar talking to people, but it's because I didn't understand why they went. Now I do.

Also, they don't even sell 焼き物 in the dealer's room. What the hell? We need more rice bowls to replace the ones we lost in the Great Dish Crash.

Some of it might be work, though here I can't actually point to anything specific. I just feel like something terrible is going to happen, like I'm going to get laid off or have all my duties switched up for no reason or something. There is absolutely no reason I have to expect this, since my evaluations are consistently good and we're making money for the organization hand over fist, but that hasn't prevented them from suddenly tossing people out the door before, so. I suppose there's nothing I can do but my work and see what happens.

Maybe it's that I didn't get to get a manicure because the salon was too crowded? I really don't know.

It's also reflecting in my dreams, too. I had one last night where I was some kind of space marine fighting horrible shapeshifting tentacled monsters, but fortunately [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd going through her morning routine woke me up, and when I went back to sleep I had no dreams until my alarm went off.

I just wish I could pin down what's bothering me.

ACEN 2016

2016-May-22, Sunday 15:31
dorchadas: (Perfection)
This is the 11th year since I started going to ACEN and the 10th year since I started going with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd. She couldn't make the first year because of a small convention she was running at Knox College, but she came the year after and every year we've gone since, which is all of them except 2009-2011 (when we were in Japan) and 2013 (when we had no money). A couple years ago I wasn't sure if I wanted to keep going but thought it was nice to see friends, and last year I had a great time. This year was somewhere in between, but weighted more toward a great time than toward not bothering.

A full accounting follows.

Read more... )

I was surprised how much I liked cosplaying. I haven't done it since before we moved to Japan--I haven't even worn a Hallowe'en costume for years--but I was looking forward to it this year and it was a lot of fun, especially doing a joint one with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd. We've already started planning for next year, when we're going to do another non-anime cosplay with me as Mairon and her as Melkor. Often it's couples with a man playing Melkor and a woman playing Mairon, but [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd wanted to switch things around, and also if you do a google image search for Mairon, you'll understand why that's my role--examples here, here, or here. That'll probably take a while, so we're planning it early.

We didn't do as much participating in the actual convention this time, so I can see why some of our friends don't bother buying badges and just show up to meet with other friends. But buying earlier means badges aren't that expensive, and while the massive explosion of the internet and the way that nerds have taken over popular culture means that the dealer's room is no longer the only place to find a lot of the things we want, it's still worthwhile for telling us that those things exist, as well as letting us try on any clothing before we buy it, though there's more shops catering to [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's taste in clothing than to mine. And I did go to a couple panels, and had a couple more on the schedule that I didn't make it to.

Looking forward to next year!

ACEN 2015!

2015-May-18, Monday 18:18
dorchadas: (Enter the Samurai)
I mentioned before that I was a bit worried about going to ACEN this year. Last year had been a bit disappointing, and I was worried that this year was going to be a waste of time and money. It turned out to be a completely unfounded fear, and I had a blast. Read on for a recounting of our time at the con in nauseating detail.

Read more... )
dorchadas: (Enter the Samurai)
This weekend is ACEN. A few years ago, by this point I'd be frothing at the mouth excited, but I'm actually mostly just apprehensive and kind of second-guessing my decision to go at all. I think [ profile] stephen_poon put it best recently when he said that he used to get a feeling of "These are my people!" when he'd go to a con, but he doesn't get that anymore and it reduces the draw. It's not just age--though part of it is definitely age--but also that I don't really feel like I'm part of the "community" as such. I spend much more time playing games now than watching much of anything, much less anime, and I really have no idea what's going on other that what I learn from listening to Mouthful of Toast.

I think some of it is just sadness that we aren't cosplaying this year. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I had originally planned to do Creeper-tan and Ender-kun from Minecraft, but my skittishness about money--three years of grad school and not really being able to save anything ran my nerves ragged--meant that we put it off for this year. I was looking forward to dressing up as something I would have actually enjoyed, and now I won't get to. Even though it's my decision, it's still disappointing.

On the other hand, I get to see [ profile] ping816, [ profile] klenkers, [ profile] redpikachu, and some other people I haven't seen in a long time. I remember years ago that I wondered about the people who sent to cons and seemed to spend a lot of it sitting in the hotel bar talking to people and wondering why they came, and then last ACEN I spent a big chunk of it in the hotel bar talking to people. Gaze long into the abyss...

ACEN 2014!

2014-May-19, Monday 21:38
dorchadas: (Enter the Samurai)
Last weekend was ACEN, which I've been going for nine years at this point, though admittedly not consistently. My interests have changed at this point so that I'm not really all that into anime anymore and barely know what's coming out and what's popular, but ACEN is still a great place to catch up with friends that are scattered around the country (or just out of our non-car-owning transit radius) but meet up for a weekend. Several of the people I saw actually didn't even buy con badges, they just came for the company. Honestly I might be getting to that point myself based on the panel content, but I like wandering around the dealer's room too much to just give up on officially attending. The selection is often more interesting than you can find online, probably because there's a lack of IP lawyers standing around like hawks.

And now, the daily breakdown.

I took only a half-day off from work, because I didn't think that there would be much I wanted to see in the morning and because the AMA started it's summer half-day program on the day ACEN started, fortunately. I expected that [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I would arrive at about the same time, but literally as she was walking out the door a student came in who needed immediate attention and she ended up staying much longer than she intended and not arriving at the hotel until around 5:45. Since I had assumed she would be coming around the same time as I did and because I didn't want to haul a lunchbag to and from the con and because I'm really cheap, I didn't have lunch with me and so I ended up mostly just lounging around the room Friday afternoon. I did wander down to the dealer's room and over to [ profile] redpikachu's booth (Natural Pop! Made with love) to buy another cute stuffed animal. Last time it was a frog, and this time it was a corgi, and when [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd finally arrived I gave it to her, and, well:

So happy!

We both ate a ton of food, because [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd hadn't gotten to eat lunch either with all the chaos at her school so we stuffed ourselves on apples, bananas, Syrian cheese, olives, almonds, homemade beef jerky, and dark chocolate. Then we went and met [personal profile] fiendishfanfares's husband, who had kindly offered to let us borrow his work laptop to give our panel on Saturday, for info about which see the Saturday section. Then we went back to our room again, powered up the laptop and transferred the presentation over, and ran through it once to make sure that we would be able to pull it off. Having done that successfully and confidently, we headed down to the AMV room.

Watching the AMV contest entries is somewhat of a tradition for [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I, though it was most prevalent in 2005-2008, when we were attending multiple cons per year and could see AMVs riffing off of AMVs we had seen at previous cons (like this Azumanga Daioh AMV, made as a parody of this Evangelion AMV which aired six months previous). In 2012 ACEN didn't have any AMV Contest because of some leadership kerfuffle, and since we didn't attend in 2013, and since we hadn't gone from 2009-2011 at all due to the whole living in Japan thing, so I was curious what had become of it and...well, there was barely anything to it. I remember at Otakon they'd have the AMV Contest entry viewings in one of the auditoriums, but this year at ACEN it was in one of the small video rooms and there were never more than a couple dozen people in there at a time. We didn't even get a sheet with the AMVs listed to vote on them like I remember previously. I was glad I managed to identify a VNV Nation just by the style (it was Control, set to a racing anime called Redline), but otherwise the contest was kind of sad, and we only stayed for a bit because a friend had invited us to go to Anime Hell.

We headed over to the place where Anime Hell was supposed to play, but they weren't letting anyone stand in line yet, so we headed up to our room for a bit to wait for the signal. When we got a text, we immediately took the stairs down and walked over to the ballroom, followed the enormous line that had somehow sprung up in the last 15 minutes, and at the very moment that we reached the end of the line, staff announced that the line was closed. While standing off to the side and trying to decide what to do, we ran into [ profile] stephen_poon and some other people we knew, and after a brief chat, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd, [ profile] stephen_poon, and I headed over to the Hyatt's lobby bar for a drink and a chat. We were there for maybe five minutes before they called last call, so after some conversation we headed over to Red Bar for a while.

After a lovely conversation about [ profile] stephen_poon's trip to Spain, and about Japan with another friend who had come to visit us in 2011, and then [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd said our farewells and headed off to Let's Play Oregon Trail, which we'd been to previously and had a lot of fun watching. It was about an hour in, and while the players this year had done better than last time (where the panicked players had forgotten to buy any weapons and were only able to hunt because the organizers took pity on them and let them buy a pistol), they still kept trying to hunt fast-moving birds with shotguns and not having much luck. After basically everyone starved to death within 30 miles of Independence, Missouri due to chronic incompetence, we succumbed to our tiredness, went back to the room, and slept.

We were planning to go to a panel on Chicago's Anime Scene, but we thought that it would be best if we didn't set an alarm, and we woke up just a bit too late to go, so instead we went down to the dealer's room again since [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd had arrived too late on Friday to go before it closed. I had seen that Do Bats Eat Cats had a space in the Artists' Alley, and after seeing their jewelry at a store near us, and now that Japan paid us and we have money, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd wanted some new earrings.

After getting those, we looked around for a booth selling Japanese tableware to replace the ones we had that have broken over the year, but couldn't find anything. I had figured that somewhere would have chopsticks, or tea cups, or something, but no. The most we found some was kitschy anime mugs. I know we'll be able to get them at the Ginza Festival in August, but it would have been nice to do it now.

Then it was time for our presentation: "Seifuku and Bunkasai: Japanese Education in Anime," which was about the differences in our experience of the Japanese education system vs. how we've seen it portrayed in anime. You can download our slides here if you didn't or couldn't attend, and we have plenty of stories to tell if you want. It's always hard to judge these things, but I think it went well. A few people came up and thanked us afterward, including a guy who had just been shortlisted for JET and was leaving in July, who hadn't been sure he would learn anything in the panel and actually learned a lot, and a woman who asked us about Keion. Also, not many people left during the panel, which is a good sign.

After a break back to our room for lunch (more homemade beef jerky, apples, olives, nuts, and cheese), we went back down to the AMV room and parked in there while waiting on word from one of our friends, and then when we got a text and he was in the General Gaming room, we headed over there and played Once Upon a Time, about which you can read a review I wrote here. A few games of that finished, we went back to the dealer's room again because I wanted an 8-bit Legend of Zelda heart keychain, but while we couldn't find one of those, we found this set of magnets:

On the way back from the dealer's room to the Hyatt, we ran into [personal profile] fiendishfanfares and her family, and while we had missed her daughter's cosplay, we did get to see video of her doing a kamehameha as only a toddler can. Then it was back to the AMV room to catch the re-airing of the contest videos, and while this time the freestyle videos were playing instead of the drama ones, we didn't stay that long because we hadn't eaten lunch in favor of a very large brunch, and they hadn't even handed out a voting card for the AMVs.

Dinner was at the Hyatt's restaurant, which intially looked incredibly expensive for average food, except it turned out that they had a "teriyaki buffet" for $22 that, well:

I was pleasant surprised, considering how much of a hipster foodie snob I am. They also had a dessert bar with cheesecake, which is an excellent way to my heart.

After another brief rest in the room, we headed out to a succession of room parties that lasted the rest of the night, though with one nice interruption. A friend I met in elementary school and have talked to sporadically in the years since then messaged me to let me know that he'd be in Red Bar meeting with some people he knew, and having picked up that I was at ACEN based on my Facebook posts, he asked if we wanted to meet up for a drink.

And we did, and despite all the comments I make about being aloof and having trouble with small talk and blah blah blah, we had no trouble keeping a conversation going despite not really talking in depth since middle school. He also sold us on Wizard World, and while I'm not sure we're going to make it this year due to its proximity, though we might go for the day on Saturday, but we'll certainly try to get there in the future. I've been leery of going to comic conventions, just because I know so little about comics--I had to ask [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd who the Avengers were--but since so much of ACEN was us talking to friends, Wizard World or the various other cons in Chicago could easily be the same thing. And maybe I'd learn something and no longer be a comic Fake Geek Guy.

After a nice conversation and a following succession of room parties and meeting with friends, we elected to skip the rave and the various events happening late at night and went to bed at 12:30.

We woke up late and missed the panels we wanted to go to again, including one called "ACEN over 30," which I suspect was placed at 9:15 a.m. because all of us old-timers can't stay up raving until 5 a.m. like the kiddies can. But we slept past it, and after cleaning our room and checking out, we headed down to the dealer's room for one last look around and I managed to find an 8-bit heart keychain. Then we went back to the AMV room, found it was closed, and with nothing further to do and feeling pretty tired, we headed out to the Blue Line and went home.

I'm not sure I'm really the audience for ACEN anymore. I think in the last year we've watched...maybe a dozen episodes of anime, and quite possibly less, because I don't remember when we finished Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. It's not that I dislike it or anything, it's just that there's so many things competing for my attention that it tends to fall into a lower tier. I didn't even attend any panels this year other than the one that [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I presented.

Despite that, I'm probably going to still keep coming, because it's a great excuse to see people and catch up. Even if I'm not happily going to the various panels and dancing for hours, there's enough there to keep me interested. Maybe we'll even do more panels. I don't care about all the fan panels that take up a big chunk of the schedule, but living in Japan for years does give us a perspective that I suspect a lot of the attendees for ACEN wish they had.

Oh, and cosplay I liked:

Probably the most accurate Sephiroth I've ever seen. Ah, those early Playstation graphics.

Chrono Trigger is one of my favorite games, and this is one of my favorite cosplays.

I'm [personal profile] dorchadas and this is my favorite Mass Effect cosplay at ACEN.

I didn't actually see this guy, I just grabbed the photo from Twitter. But that's awesome.

Ohayocon 2008

2008-Jan-07, Monday 19:07
dorchadas: (Enter the Samurai)
I have a little post-con blues at the moment, but I'm sure it'll go away. In the meantime, here's the report from Ohayocon 2008.

We spent most of Thursday traveling, so not a very eventful day. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I woke up at [personal profile] fiendishfanfares's, where we had spent the night to solve parking issues. Got to the airport, plane left on time, got to the con location okay, etc. etc. Once there, we kind of waited around for everyone else to arrive (since most of them had driven) and then hung around in [ profile] tropicanaomega and [ profile] tastee_wheat's room while they did a bit more work on their cosplays. After dinner at the Max and Erma's across the street (very rare New York Strip with blue cheese crumbles. Mmmmmmm...), we went back to our room to finish up our cosplays (and some others came up, since our room was inexplicably twice as big as anyone else's), then went to bed.

Friday, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I woke up and got her Navi ("Hey! Listen!") costume put together before heading out. There wasn't much we wanted to do before a beginning cosplay panel at 7 p.m., so we wandered around for a while and looked at other cosplayers. We went to the dance on Friday night, but nearly got kicked out because it was apparently a "family-friendly" rave, whatever the hell that means. After that bout of lame, we went back to the room with some friends of [personal profile] fiendishfanfares and hung out before it got pretty late, and then went to bed.

Saturday we woke up again and changed into our Phoenix Wright cosplays (unfortunately, I don't have a picture yet where I'm not obscured) and went down for the semi-official photoshoot, which lasted a while. After lunch, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I separated. She had to go to a Psych in Anime panel, which was apparently pretty awesome and has inspired her to run a similar panel at ACEN. It also inspired her to get the manga Welcome to the NHK, which is hilariously disturbning (the manga, not her desire to get it). We went to the masquerade and saw [ profile] tropicanaomega's skit (which, sadly, did not win anything), as well as the other skits, which were actually pretty funny. We caught the tail end of the AMV contest, and while nothing I saw was really amazing, there was a neat video of the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya to Still Alive of Portal fame. After a few hours in a room hanging out at a pseudo-birthday party with a bunch of people whose LJs (if they have them) I don't know, we went down and caught the tail end of the rave (which was decidedly not family-friendly this time ^_~), before heading outside for a bit, and then to bed at around 5.

Sunday we left and came home. Only problem was the lack of sleep and the massive flight delay due to "fog," though I'm told that weather always gets blamed because the companies don't have to reimburse anyone for the delays then.

Looking forward to ACEN already. This could be the year when [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and my Marie and Miruru (from Onegai Teacher) costumes actually happen...
dorchadas: (Enter the Samurai)
And only five hours later than I should have. I'll post more about what happened tomorrow.
dorchadas: (Enter the Samurai)
Well, it's been a couple days. Here's the more I mentioned:

After a jaunt at the airport and our arrival in Baltimore, we ([profile] schoolpsycnerd and I) met up with [ profile] greyselke, her boyfriend and [ profile] t3chnomag3 for the trip down to D.C. to visit [ profile] jdcohen. Not much exciting on the way, just D.C. traffic. We finally got there, got ourselves situated in his apartment, then went out for sushi and some drinks in an underground bar, which helped a lot with the 95+ degree heat.

Thursday we went to the National Zoo to see the panda cup Tai Shan (a.k.a., Butterstick) after a wonderful breakfast of jalapeno-and-cheese sausages and eggy-in-a-basket. It may not have been the wisest idea, since it was 103 out, but the cub was really cute. In his nice, climate-controlled little pen with all the bamboo he could eat (...). After we got there, [ profile] jdcohen informed us that the National Zoo was one way downhill, and we'd have to climb back if we wanted to leave. Fortunately, there were ice cream stands and mist sprayers on the way back up. All plans to go anywhere else were halted in order to avoid heat stroke, so we ate a late lunch, said goodbye, and went back down to Baltimore in order to get our badges for Otakon.

The badge line took maybe 15 minutes (much better than if we had waited until Friday), and then we went to the cheesecake factory for dinner, where we waited about 5 minutes (dinner at 10 p.m. FTW!). Then, since [profile] schoolpsycnerd and I wanted to get up early, we went to sleep.

The next morning, we woke up at 8 a.m. (ugh...) to go seen Densha Otoko (電車男, "The Train Man"). Plot summary is here (Beware of spoilers). It was the episodic version (which we didn't know at the time), so they only showed the first three episodes out of 12, but it was REALLY CUTE! Well, except the first episode, which is mostly about how being a lonely otaku who is too shy and socially inept to talk to people really, really sucks. Now we have to find the others.

After lunch, we went to the Fan Parody Panel, which wasn't as good as it was last year, but was still neat (the creators of Redeath and Nescaflowne were there). Then we went to the AMV contest (Shattered Dreams, Wedding Rings and Naruto Ball Z were all good), then dinner, then back to sleep.

Saturday morning, we woke up early (though not quite as early as before) and went to see a few episodes of Doki Doki. Plot summary: Suzuki Mika is a Japanese school teacher...except she's 5 feet tall in heels, has a baby face and a tendency to cry. Hilarity ensues. [profile] schoolpsycnerd is convinced that's going to be her when we go teach English in Japan. We watched the first episode, which was enough to convince us to get it. It looks like Azumanga Daioh, but not quite as funny.

We also saw Gankutsuou (The King of the Cave), a.k.a. the Count of Monty Cristo. And, that's basically what it is. The Count of Monty Cristo. In space. With vampires. It's really pretty, and it seems to stick to the plot pretty well.'s in space. With vampires. Still, we're probably going to get that too. We can add that to the enormous backlog of anime we have to watch.

We had dinner early then, because we were going to the fan parody showings that evening. They played Redeath (which we had already seen) and Nescaflowne...which, even though I haven't seen Escaflowne, was still hilarious. Plot summary. Though, admittedly, the best part was eating the cheesecake that we got from Cheesecake Factory during the performance. ^^

Sunday, not much happened. I felt kind of sick for a large part of it, so I napped. Then, on Monday, we went home.

It was great! Though, I think, we won't get to go back next year--if we get into JET, we'll be in Japan!

Back from Otakon

2006-Aug-07, Monday 18:23
dorchadas: (Enter the Samurai)
More later.
dorchadas: (Do you speak Elvish)
So, I used to post almost once (or more) a day, and now it's about once a week or so. However, I think I have a good reason for that. While listening to someone whining about their misery is annoying, listening to someone brag about their happiness is far more annoying.

So, a poll:
[Poll #726406][Poll #726406]

I'm going to assume those are the only two choices, because obviously if I including something like "Harry Potter" as a third choice, everyone would vote for that (and I don't blame you) and the poll would be meaningless :-p

Oh, and ACEN was awesome. I got to dress up (pictures forthcoming), dance, wander around, learn how to play Go from a ridiculously absent-minded old man, and learn about exciting websites like Guro-Chan (Note: if you value your eyesight and your very sanity, for the love of God, do not click on that link). And I'm going to Otakon in August!

End of line.

Paper spam

2006-May-04, Thursday 17:08
dorchadas: (Enter the Samurai)
One of the phrases I've seen about Governor Blagojevich--I think in a letter to the editor--was that he "governed by press release." Before I started working at a newspaper, I had no idea what that meant. Now, I think I would only have one conclusion to draw if we didn't receive 5 or 6 press releases in triplicate from him a day. Clearly, it's because he's been shot.

No, scratch that. If he got shot, we'd probably get twice as many.

Also, I wrote a restaurant...spotlight. It's not exactly a review, but eh. It looks better in the paper, because the entertainment stuff I do is below it, so the page is almost entirely devoted to stuff I wrote ^_^ They're also picking it up and running it in one of the weeklies, which is nice.

ACEN is this weekend. I'll have a longer post about that when I come back on Sunday.


dorchadas: (Default)

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