In Soviet Russia, house occupies you!

homeYou know, I can never resist a good ‘in Soviet Russia’ joke.  Actually, I can’t resist a bad one, either.

Buying a house has all but consumed my life for these last two months.  Nearly everything that I have been thinking about or doing (or blogging) since early March has been house-related.  Finding a house, negotiating for it, digging up all the documents for the bank, shopping for insurance, finding a storage unit, moving all of my stuff out of my apartment into the storage unit, moving in with my cousins, closing, moving out of my cousin’s, then getting all my stuff from storage into the house and now I’m taking things out of boxes and putting things in their place and buying appliances.

Along the way, I missed out on quite a few things due to either poor planning, bad luck, or fatigue: Wild Nights, the St. Phillips Anime Club Bubblehead Tea event, Free Comic Book Day, the Central Texas Toy and Comic Expo and the Anthrocon conbook deadline.  My stress level got pretty high and I even got sent to the “principal’s office” at work for getting a little too rowdy with a customer.  My aggravation got to the point that I went from “this will be totally worth it” to “this had better be worth it.”

It has been just over a week after I got the keys, and the number of moving boxes cluttering up the living room is gradually decreasing.  I am hoping to be at some semblance of ‘normal’ (or at least as normal as it gets for me) by week’s end, especially after the new refrigerator is delivered later this week.  I ask myself, was this worth all the bother and stress and money and time and missed fun?

Without hesitation, I think:  Yeah.  Totally worth it.

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My 2012 Con Schedule!

Doing my thing at San Japan 4TW
Never forget your sanitizer!

Here is my con schedule for 2012.  Frankly, I’m surprised I never did this here before.  Unlike previous years, I won’t be ‘working’ at very many of these.

Ikkicon, Dec 30-Jan 1, Austin, Texas

Technically, this New Year’s Eve con is the first con of the year as well as the last one of last year, so there.  I’ve already done a writeup on it, so there isn’t much else.

Furry Fiesta, Feb 24-26, Dallas, Texas

Going to try something new this year.  Furry Fiesta will be my first-ever furry convention.  It will be interesting to see how similar and different this will be from all the other cons I’ve ever attended.

Mizuumi-con, March 31, San Antonio, Texas

Mizuumi con was one of the first anime cons I ever attended, and is a great place for newbies to dip their toes into the multicolored pool that is anime and manga.  At $15, its inexpensive to go to and the kids out at Our Lady of the Lake University make for a pretty enthusiastic crowd.

Aetherfest, May 4-6, San Antonio, Texas

Set in the beautiful St. Anthony hotel in downtown San Antonio and put together by the San Antonio Neo-Victorian Association, Aetherfest is a three-day steampunk convention that truly stands out with its costumes.  Steampunk attracts a slightly older crowd, so those looking for an alternative to the manic pace of other cons will find plenty to like here. Dress-up is encouraged, but not necessary, or to borrow the words of a certain Mr. Collins, there is ‘no jacket required.’

Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), June 5-7, Los Angeles, California

Of all the cons on this list, this will be one of the few that I will be ‘working’ at.  E3 is the Big One as far as videogame conventions are concerned, and I will be going there in my capacity as Editor of Original-Gamer.com to check out new games and talk to people and write.  It is an industry-only event, so not everyone can go.

Texas Comic Con, June 22-24, San Antonio, Texas

If anime isn’t quite your thing and you want to get your hero on, Texas Comic Con is the place to do it.  In addition to the loads of comic book, action figure and pop culture dealers there are a host of artists, independent publishers, and fan groups ranging from Whovians to Sith to Ghostbusters.  Guest of Honor Larry Hama and Lou Ferrigno are but a few of the names showing up to this one.

San Japan, August 10-12, San Antonio, Texas

Easily and consistently one of the best conventions I have been too, San Japan Mach 5 is upping the ante this year as they are moving into the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center this year.  The already-biggest fan con in San Antonio is about to get bigger, which should mean even MORE fun stuff to do.  Sadly, I may be ‘working’ at this one as well for Original-Gamer.com, but we shall see.

RealmsCon, Oct 12-14, Corpus Christi. Texas

RealmsCon is currently (as far as I know) Corpus Christi’s only anime and pop culture convention.  While it is a 3-day affair, my experience is that you can go and see everything in one day.  That doesn’t necessarily make it a bad convention, just a smaller one.

There may be a few other events I go to, but this is what I have planned for so far for the year.  ‘Working’ or not, this year should be fun on a bun!

RANDOM REACTION: Tsuki-con

Ready to roll!

Tsuki-con website

Tsuki-con was was held yesterday evening at the Blanco Ballroom in San Antonio, Texas.  The first-time event was a fundraiser intended to raise funds for The Advocates Youth Boxing Program, which “is designed to help youth, at-risk youth and young adults to build positive character traits and instill positive values.”

Upon hearing about it, I thought: “well, that’s a pretty cool idea, the geek community has been known to come out and contribute to charitable causes, particularly if kids are involved.”  I participate in an event called Extra Life that raises funds for children’s hospitals every year, and the thought of helping out another worthy cause sounded good to me.

I went straight to the Blanco Ballroom after work and arrived to find the parking lot nearly full, which was encouraging.  Sure enough, there were plenty of dealers, artists, and attendees there.  The Ballroom isn’t exactly grand-spanking new, but it was in decent shape and worked well for the event.  Unlike most events I have been to, there was plenty of seating, but one artist friend muttered that he’s rather see potential customers walking around.  Oh well.

Tsuki-con was a one-evening affair.  In addition to the artists and dealers, they had a cosplay contest, held some raffles, had panels, and some entertainers performed as the evening went on.  Unfortunately, they do have a few things they need to work on for next time:

Where’s the Charity? – I was a little disappointed in that there wasn’t a table for the charity that was supposed to be benefiting from the event.  It would have been nice to learn more about what they are doing.  Indeed, I wasn’t even sure where I was supposed to donate to the charity.  I did buy a special print from an artist, part of the proceeds was going to the charity, so I figured that was good enough.  This could have been a good opportunity for The Advocates Youth Boxing Program to drum up support, sign up volunteers and build awareness of their organization, but they didn’t take full advantage of it.

Who’s in charge, here? – It was not even made clear (or at least, I couldn’t tell) just who was in charge of the event.  Considering some of the issues that arose, it would have been nice to be able to find someone to get things sorted out.

I didn’t think this was THAT kind of show – Most of the entertainment was provided by Madame’s Muses, “a modern vaudville style dance troupe hoping to bring class back to the Art of the Tease.”  Yeah.  At first we were treated to a slightly risque song by one of the Muses, but it wasn’t anything too bad and the crowd enjoyed the performance.  There was a Steampunk Elvis (who I do not believe is associated with the Muses) who, along with some friends, treated us to a funny steam-themed rendition of “Viva Las Vegas” called “Viva The Steampunk.”  Everyone was having a fun time.

And then came the fishnets.

A trio of women wearing short shorts and fishnet stockings took the stage and started dancing…well, as one would expect women in short shorts and fishnet stockings to dance.  Now, I didn’t mind the show myself, but considering this was supposed to be a “FAMILY ORIENTATED” (their spelling, not mine) event it was way over the line.  I later heard that some parents immediately left with their children, and frankly, I don’t blame them.  So much for ‘bringing class back.’

Roller Girls Get Shafted – The Bexar County Roller Girls were in attendance and I was intrigued, having never seen or been to a roller derby.  Now, I don’t know if this was planned as part of the event, but they intended to put on an exhibition.  A part of the floor was set aside, lines were placed onto the floor with tape, and the gals did some practice laps.  People took seats in anticipation of watching the exhibition, but nothing was ever announced after the Muses did their thing, or shook certain things, as it were.  We kept waiting and waiting, and then…

Lights out! – A rave was scheduled for the final hour of the event.  Of course, you can’t have a rave with all that light, right?  So at about quarter to ten, nearly all of the lights in the ballroom were turned off, which pretty much ended the show for the artists (you know, the guys that were raising money for the charity) and so they packed up and left.  The Roller Girls were left to start their exhibition in near-darkness, which I can only presume is not a Good Idea given the dangerous nature of the sport.  So yeah, unless you were one of the kids gyrating around to the music, the event was pretty much done at that point.

Tsuki-con was a good idea with a lot of promise.  It started out well enough, but the execution of the event failed very badly at the end.  Poor planning and research on the part of the organizers made it an evening to remember for the wrong reasons.  Hopefully they accomplished their mission of raising money for the boxing program and do it again sometime in the future, with a few adjustments.

19 Things I Learned During Ikkicon V

So far at cons, I’ve been an attendee, worked at tables in Artist Alley, been part of a few panels and even played in a concert.  After volunteering to help run the game room at Ikkicon V this past weekend as part of the Alamo Gaming / Original-Gamer.com group, I’m wondering what there is left to do at a con short of being a big guest or actually running one.

In any event, I learned quite a few things over Ikkicon’s three days, some of which I’m not sure I wanted to, but that’s life.  So without further ado:

  1. If a member of your group has B.O. issues, your time in the hotel room will SUCK.  We had a guy that stunk up the hotel room on the first night and it remained funky for the duration, which made going back a VERY unpleasant affair.  I think my nose said “no mas” sometime Saturday night and went on strike.
  2. Unless you are in charge of something or a guest, don’t expect to get a badge with your name on it, I was given someone ELSE’S badge, so I tore off part of a sticky note and put my name over it. Bleh.
  3. Always pre-register and get your badge on Thursday night if you can, because if things go wrong during registration they go HORRIBLY WRONG. Luckily I didn’t have to wait in it, but the reg line was INSANE.
  4. Plan all you want, but something will always throw you a curve ball. I packed some microwaveable food to chow on so as to avoid overpriced hotel food and unnecessary excursions, and you guessed it, there was no microwave in the room.
  5. If there is a food that you enjoy to the point where you think could live off of it, then pack plenty of it along.  You will discover whether you really CAN live off of it.  Lucky for me, I still find Kashi granola bars and peanut butter crackers to be tasty.
  6. I am a Coke fiend.  I was dying for a soda on Saturday, so I said ‘heck with it’ and dropped $2.50 for a 20 oz bottle of sweet, sweet caffeine at the coffee shop in the lobby.  I wouldn’t have minded the price too much, but it wasn’t even that cold, if I’m gonna pay twice as much for a soda there should be some frost on the bottle…just sayin’
  7. The optimist in me says that we ran out of hand sanitizer Saturday night, the pessimist in me says that people will steal ANYTHING no matter how trivial.
  8. If you plan on running something at a con, expect that it is all you are going to do at the con.  I spent most of the weekend making sure no one hogged the Rock Band 3 station.  I took a few trips away to say hi to friends and grab some food on Saturday morning but as far as panels and events…nada.
  9. If you plan on running something at a con and doing it fairly, expect that jerks are going to think you are a jerk for doing so.  I repeatedly told people that I did not want them camping at the Rock Band 3 just waiting to play again. I got a lot of ugly looks in return, but I also got compliments from people who appreciated that I was doing my best to be fair.
  10. Geeks love “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Still Alive” and will sing along if they are played loud enough.
  11. They also really like “Du Hast.” For the life of me, I don’t get it, and frankly, I think it’s the German thing. Heck, I still like “99 Luftbaloons” from back in the day but unlike “Du Hast” it actually has lyrics.
  12. “Freebird” is just too cotton-pickin’ long.  My Xbox 360 locked up during it, and at another event, a guitar controller’s batteries gave out while it was playing.
  13. Having a 24-hour videogame room is a BAD IDEA. The problem with a 24-hour videogame room is that you need to have people in there all the time to keep stuff from walking out the door and to assist with the occasional system lock-up and dead controller batteries.
  14. If you are in charge of something, GET ALL THE DETAILS IN WRITING and have it signed by whomever is in charge.  We had some behind-the-scenes drama go down that could have been avoided if everyone had been on the same page from the start.  None of this ‘he said, she said’ business, just a signed piece of paper that says what has been decided on so there are no questions.
  15. Sometimes you must go down to go up.  If you find yourself waiting forever and a day to get on an ‘up’ elevator to get back to your room, go into one that is going down…it’ll come back up soon enough.
  16. If you don’t want to be harassed by the valets for your keys, park about 2 carlengths away from the hotel entrance.
  17. Owning your own dolly or hand truck rocks, if you are going to be working cons frequently, GET ONE.  Heck, even if you aren’t, get one anyway.
  18. When its all over and you go home, you will feel like crap, collapse onto your bed Sunday night, sleep like a rock, and will probably will not be back to normal until Tuesday.
  19. Despite all of the above, you will get to hang out with lots of cool people, have lots of fun and it will be totally worth it.

Ikkicon was a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun.  If the group I was involved in gets invited back, then I would be happy to come back next year…packing a microwave.

RealmsCon Day 1: In The Ghetto

Originally posted at J2GAMES.COM

First a disclaimer: I am from the Corpus Christi area.  Thus, my opinions are colored by the fact that I think Corpus Christi is a podunk town that only has only had one good thing come out of it, and that’s Whataburger.  I went to Realms-Con to preach the gospel of First Storm Manga and also out of curiosity to see what kind of con they could throw, especially after experiencing the uber-goodness that was San Japan.

It started out well enough on Friday morning.  First Storm Manga “Roadie” Javier and myself headed to the Holiday Inn Emerald Beach to set up shop.  I had expected a big hassle getting our badges because of the fun times I had running back and forth between the Municipal Auditorium and the Holiday Inn during the start of San Japan (YES I’M STILL BITTER).  The original plan was for us to use half of Chris’ table for FSM and the other half to sell his leftover stuff from San Japan.

First, we had to FIND the registration table.  This was made even more fun by the lack of signage.  As REAL men don’t ask for directions, we simply hung a left at the hotel’s front desk.  Walking down a hall, we saw some tables, and at the end, we found one with a “First Storm Manga” sign on it.  I was enthralled that we had our own dedicated table, but just a bit disappointed when I realized we had been placed at the ass end of the convention.  The only thing nearby was the video game room, which wasn’t even open yet.  My confidence would have been more inspired if it hadn’t been for the flickering fluorescent light over our table.  Great, I thought, I’ll be drained AND blind by the time this is all over.

But hey, a table was a table, and it would be all ours.

We still needed our badges, and so we headed back the way we came to find the registration desk.  As we walked around, we passed by Chris’ table, located right in front of the panel rooms in a high-traffic area.  Wow, isn’t he Mr. Cool.  We soon found the registration table OUTSIDE of the hotel.  I would later learn that they were forced outside to avoid a long line of people inside the hotel, which made sense, but at the time I remember thinking who could have thought that was a good idea.

Now for the fun part: “Hi, I’m Eduardo Soliz from First Storm Manga, and I am here to pick up our badges so I can set up our table.”  Now, technically, I was supposed to be under Chris’ table, but after seeing they had a table assigned to us, I logically reasoned that they would have badges set aside for us as well.  As the registration-gal flipped through the packs, I saw one with Chris’ name on it, which I hoped meant he would have an extra badge for his guest.  Much to my relief, I would later discover that was the case…once they figured out who he was, that is.

Badges around our necks, we headed back to the Reliant (my 2005 Dodge Neon) to get our wares and head over to our table “in the ghetto” as I would refer to it throughout the day.

Traffic was miserable at first, partially because of our location, partially because it was a school day, and partially because the video game room was running late getting set up.  The sign at the door that originally said “Open at 12:00” was quickly edited to read “12:15” then “12:30” then “12:50” and then was taken down.  We kept seeing the same people walk by over and over again as well as the occasional hotel guest walking to and from the pool.  Luckily, traffic picked up around four, once school let out, and except for a quick run to Subway and a trip to the hospital to visit some folks, the day was pretty uneventful.  We gave away almost all of our copies of Manga Madness, each with a copy of San Japanic! inside.

I kept wondering what was taking Chris so long, because he had told me he was going to be there at 3.  He showed up much later, but by that time, the other tables were closing down, so I figured we would do so as well.  We all rode in the Reliant to the two-story Whataburger By The Bay where we chowed down and discussed Saturday’s plans.

It was decided that we would move over to Chris’ table for the improved traffic, and so that we could peddle his wares (no free lunch and all that).  The move would turn out great in one way, and not-so-great in another…

San Japanic! The Director’s Tale – Part I

August 13, 2009 – 1130 AM

The busy day lay ahead.  I was the point man for preparing First Storm Manga’s table for San Japan, and my duties consisted of securing a table at the Municipal Auditorium for our group and obtaining our badges.  The day started off well enough. I went to work, and my short day was quickly eaten by meetings and busy-work; as usual, not much got actually done.

My mission was made easier by the fact that we had someone “on the inside.”  Laken is a good kid, cat ears and all.  Our youngest member thus far, her initial shyness at her first meeting (she refused to let anyone see her art until I secretly photographed it using my cell phone’s camera, earning me her ire) got her unfairly labeled as being ditzy, but she can be counted on when there is a job to do.

Laken is also a San Japan volunteer.  She had also contributed to our first compilation and we were hoping for her assistance in navigating the confusion that is often associated with cons.

I had read on the San Japan forums that setup was going to start at two o’clock.  Thus, my plan was to get out of work at eleven-thirty, get home at noon, take an hour nap, and then drive to the Auditorium to setup the F.S.M. table.  We wanted to get a good location across from a known artist that we knew would attract a crowd.  To make sure I was on the right track, I sent a text to Laken once I got home, and I was all but ready to fall into sweet slumber for an hour when my phone beeped.

“BE HERE AT 1”

Well, frak.  I cursed Randomizer’s Dumb Luck ™ as I quickly got up and ready to leave.  About a half an hour later, I exited the Reliant after parking in front of the Holiday Inn El Tropicano where the convention was to be held, and luckily ran into another First Storm Manga member.

Chris Holm has a table in Artist’s Alley, and for the most part, he was doing his own thing at the con.  He was also helping us rookies out, and his previous experience at conventions, and San Japan, in particular, was to be of great help.  He also contributed to our first manga, “San Japanic!” and would be checking up on us as the con went on.  He was there to setup his table, and I was glad I wasn’t going to be going it alone as my San Japan adventure began.

For the moment, though, he looked as lost as I was, and he asked me where we were supposed to go.  Not having any idea myself (we only had two choices, the hotel or the Auditorium) I sent Laken a quick text and we started walking toward the El Tropicano.  Laken responded by telling us she would meet us in the lobby, and there we met.

Much to my disappointment over the lost nap, I soon found out that the Auditorium was closed until two o’clock, and we had an hour to burn until we could get our tables.  Instead of spending it lounging around the hotel lobby shooting the breeze and browsing the Internet, Chris and I were put to work stuffing goodie bags to be given to the con attendees.

It was lots of fun.  Being the only geek in my family, it is very seldom that I find myself in the presence of other geeks; so being in a room filled with geeks was a delight.  That said, I have an unfortunate tendency to show my age when I talk shop, and I soon discovered that more than a few of the kids in the room weren’t even born yet when Robotron 2084 came out in the arcades.

Pardon me for a moment while I grow OLD…er.

The hour soon ticked away, and the Auditorium was open.  Laken accompanied us as we walked over.

We were the first ones in Convention Alley.  The place was pretty much ours; we had our pick of tables.  After debating the merits of getting the end table (as opposed to the second-to-the-end table) we got the second-to-the-end table and I laid down our tablecloth and taped up our cheesy paper logo signs.

We kept the setup low-key for a reason; there is a fan group in town that has a penchant for tampering with other groups.  While I’m sure most of their members are decent folks, we know that there are a few miscreants in the bunch.   Some of our members have had dealings with them in the past that had come to unpleasant endings.  We kept a careful eye out for them; we wanted to afford them as little an opportunity to tamper with our table as possible.

Content that all was at the ready, Chris and I took the opportunity to go to Sam’s Burger Joint to scarf some good burgers and shoot the breeze for a bit.  I then headed home to relax and start packing for The Big Day.

Frankly, I was feeling pretty good about myself.  Everything was proceeding according to plan…just as the Emperor had foretold.  Actually, “The Emperor” was more nervous about the whole thing than I was, and I would soon discover that he wasn’t being entirely paranoid.

NEXT:  BADGES?!  WE NEED OUR STEENKING BADGES!