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  • Birthday 09/20/1973

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  1. Disability (ADA) access to areas.

    Note: this is not an endorsement by me or ACen. Just the results of a hasty googlin'. http://www.mobility-connection.com/wheelchair-and-mobility-equipment-rental.aspx
  2. Disability (ADA) access to areas.

    That's pretty pricey. Medical supply places rent them between $75-150 a week, usually. Might be a wash because of the need to transport it to the site. Or talk to your doc and see if you can get it prescribed and covered by insurance on a short term basis. Any body able to find better rates?
  3. Disability (ADA) access to areas.

    We are back in Hall A, which should lessen the walk from last year significantly, but it puts us back into the position of having this traffic flow issue. This may come off sharp, and I don't intend it to, but let me be clear: we've been talking about this for years and it isn't changing. These rules existed when I was con chair, too-- they aren't new, they are just more critical now when we're more than double the size we were my first year. Feel free to discuss it with the board, but what you're saying in this thread is that we need to do something patently unsafe as a convenience to you, and that is not a reasonable request. We have been over and over this with our team, the convention center, Rosemont folks, etc. There is no good way to make that door bidirectional with the kind of traffic flow we have coming and going - thousands of people flow through that hall in an hour. If we allow people with passes to use it bidirectionally, we have to stop a massive crowd to do it, and the crowd bunches up, creates fire hazard levels of backup within less than a minute. I'm not exaggerating, guys, I'm trying to explain what happens. that door - that hallway - is not wide, and it simply cannot be a primary artery like you want it to be. We also cannot close that door to everyone except those with passes- it's all or nothing. We choose to make it a one directional path for that reason. We do our best to be accommodating to all our attendees, and we go out of our way to work with our attendees with special needs. However, we will not risk attendee safety (and in this case we're talking about greater risk to the safety of the exact folks you're asking for a special accommodation for) by trying to manage that traffic into the hall through the expo. If you have mobility issues that impact your enjoyment of the event, I'd highly encourage you to get a scoot rental for the weekend - it's a lot of walking no matter what and where. Several of our staff do so, and it is an excellent short term solution - around 100 bucks for the week.
  4. Wigs as a gopher

    It is fine, so long as it isn't something that impedes your ability to do the task.
  5. 2013 Gripes

    Hey, Luna. Thanks for the feedback. We're somewhat compressed on space due to wedding, prom, power convention and so forth going on in our area this year. Feedback honestly taken and we will do better for you next year. Sorry it's so cramped in there!
  6. Is Acen even considered an anime convention anymore?

    I'll take this one. A lot goes into making the schedule, and planning out even one single change or tweak where it will impact 4500 seated attendees and hours of other events that need to be shifted. Immediately after the con, as in Monday in April the morning after the show when we all crawled out of our beds, A bunch of us sat down in a room at the Hyatt and discussed the masquerade, what went wrong, and how to make it better. We also talked about several of the other changes and efforts, what worked, what didn't, and what we need to fix. AH/MM was a part of that conversation. I don't have the notes right by me, but we took away a list of actions. We got together with the BOD. We worked on facilities plans. We negotiated additional supplemental venue contracts, renegotiated others. We drafted a schedule framework by August, and then waited to finalize our contracts and settle things out. We booked the Akoo. While none of these things are directly about either Masq or AH/MM, they are all about clearing up the logjam in the main programming room, because our constant problem of main running over is caused in part by placing too many events there. We needed to balance having enough gap time so that if something goes wrong it doesn't push the entire schedule over the edge. I know you remember that juggling act, Lynn. :) We're now in early Feb, and the programming schedule is filling out efficiently, and we're at the point where we can rationally talk about the venues we know we have space in, and what big things go in which big places to make that work. It doesn't mean we weren't thinking about these problems from Friday night last April right on thru til now, it means that until certain things were set up, the last of which came together in January, making those decisions would have been gambling or guessing at large function spaces, and this stuff is too important to us and to the attendees and to the presenters for a guess to be acceptable anymore. It takes time, and hundreds of hours, and a dozen meetings, even more conference calls, contracts, and so forth. That isn't a complaint, I just want to make it clear that every decision on this scale has to be reviewed and considered, and none of them can be made in a vacuum. Thanks for the feedback.
  7. Is Acen even considered an anime convention anymore?

    Honestly? Dances are a part of every con I've ever been to in the fandom arena, from gaming to geek, to comic book to pony, with the exception of the big *.world type shows. I think it's just part of the culture because it's all about letting people who enjoy the medium or genre get together, mingle, and meet one another and have a good time. For us, our mascots are a play on the Blues Brothers, and music has been a part of our convention culture for a long, long time. That has morphed over the years, but the Soap Bubble, and later the Underground Groove/Hardcore Synergy, and later the Crystal Ball, they're just a part of who we are just as Anime Hell is. Just as AMV is. Panels. Guests we've seen so many times they feel like family. Attendees I see out in the city and recognize even without their favorite cosplay. A case can be made that the dances aren't anime, I agree. But they are very much pure Chicago, and that too is a part of who we are. You can make the decision to be a pure show, or an inclusive show, or fall somewhere in between, and I think we're solidly in the middle. Our core is anime, manga, Asian cinema, music, and culture. As a part of exploring that, we do bring in the dance, costume, gaming, and other areas that anime have crept into and influenced. Then there's a little bit of "Let's make sure there's enough things to do to keep everybody busy and having a great time for three days" (this is where I categories things like the board games library- not anime, but definitely a way for anime fans to gather and get to know one another. This is an aside, but I swear there's a relevant point at the end: I remember being the nerdy kid at my school who didn't like the stuff the other kids liked. I wasn't into sports, I was into these cartoons that came on late at night, and into playing D&D at the library on Saturdays, and all manner of other weird things. I drew. I decorated my favorite trenchcoat with Sharpie markers. I wore odd clothes. And I remember how it felt to be the weird one. Wasn't always fun. When I was 16, I joined a summer program called Governor's Scholars, and I met other schools' out-caste: nerds, geeks, and weirdos a lot like me. We all bonded over the love of the things we loved to do, and the sheer gladness at not being different for once. It was an amazingly affirming experience for a shy backward kid from the middle of nowhere. Ultimately, (me getting to the point finally!) my great hope is that ACen can provide that same venue where you can share the things you love with people who also love them, meet some new friends, and learn to like some new stuff while you're at it. Learn something about the culture. See a sword demo. Shop. And maybe game. And maybe paint yourself with blacklight paint and go dance your butt off for a few hours....or just draw on your clothes with a Sharpie. It's a celebration, and if people want to join in, in the spirit of that, I say game on.
  8. Is Acen even considered an anime convention anymore?

    Whaat, my response wasn't blue at all. I was VERY careful about using blue language. :) (Yes, I know what you meant. Just kidding around.)
  9. Is Acen even considered an anime convention anymore?

    Hold the phone, guys. I've been pretty quiet on the forums this year because I've been focused on cleaning up our volunteers processes, and my role now doesn't interact so much with live events and programming, however...the calls you're talking about are calls that I made as con chair, or participated in, during Artie's first year taking over, because we were and are a team working together on these things. I stand by every call we've made- we do our best given the information available. Sometimes it works..sometimes not. But we aren't looking at this to maximize the number of attendees we get, or to shave out anime programming for other things. There's no star chamber - no SEELE making decisions in a vacuum. Every decision you see has a backstory and a reason. Not always a great back story, and not always a reason everybody can agree with, but there's always, always more to it than you're seeing. That isn't to say that it's all a big seekrit: Take Anime Hell as an example: We probably talked about that for six months internally and agreed to try it in Rosemont for three main reasons: 1) Attendance had been down for Madness a couple years and it wasn't filling Main. 2) We had lost some large function spaces across the street and were tight on space, and putting Madness in a room that would already be set for it allowed us to not lose FOUR HOURS of time in our two biggest function spaces to set-changes by the hotel. (Assume it takes an hour to pull or place chairs in a room that size. It can take longer, but four hours is a good minimum.) and finally, 3) Save significant tech costs in having to tech out two rooms for dance. We discussed this, we talked about all the things you're talking about here, and came to the decision that the ability to run extra events, keep our costs down, and see if Madness really did need the biggest room we've got.. those questions warranted trying it. We've learned a few things from that, both good and bad, and have been re-examining the decision this year. AMV: I'll suck this one up and claim it. We lost a very good department manager because of decisions and mistakes I made in 2011, again working in good faith and trying to maximize the use of our spaces while keeping costs low. Best intentions all around, but it didn't work out, we dropped some balls, and there wasn't enough time to do it RIGHT last year. We are working to remedy that this year because we're fans too. We look at it and say "This is wrong, we should fix it". Look at the panels last year. We were significantly more tied in to anime and manga than in the last few years, with less general fandom stuff. Look at the musical guest this year: Kalafina has a high degree of relevance given the theme work they've done, in addition to their massive pile of other credits. If you want to know why something happens, feel free to ask. Sometimes I can explain. Sometimes there's confidential stuff that I can't explain, like "We were in negotiation with a guest who needed X guaranteed, and to do that we had to do Y, and that caused Z to fall off the schedule." So I can't promise an answer, but if it's general 'how do the train wrecks happen' kind of questions, the only way we fix those things is by talking about them. With that, I'll say thanks for your input. We were already having a conversation about how to better handle Madness, AMV, Dances, and the rest of the stuff that has to be juggled, and are putting the finishing touches on the plan for 2013 and beyond. When it's done, it won't be a secret. We are listening. We are working, constantly, to try and do better where we fall down, and as always I appreciate your love, passion, and patience with us. We love you back. This is your show. :)/>/>
  10. 2013 Dates

    Sorry, I missed that you posted a question or I'd have responded a while ago!! We try to avoid June because there are other established shows that fall in June which we'd encroach on if we moved the dates. It's a juggling act annually, missing holidays, Golden Week, the other comparably sized cons, and the dates our venue is already booked for other things. It's about being a good citizen of the anime calendar, not stepping on others' usual dates, and warning well in advance if our dates have to be somewhere they usually don't fall. (When we found out about the April dates, we published it to Animecons.com and the con runners mailing list two years plus in advance, to avoid problems.
  11. Glomping. Make it a no-no.

    <grump> Ditto the above. "...anything to risk the safety of others" is against our rules as a general comment, and I'll talk to folks about touching other congoers without permission being worked in there somehow for next year. Wording not so much as stated here, but that's the sentiment. Simply put, jumping on a stranger is already banned by default because it is not legal. That's called assault. It is the unwelcomed act of putting your hands or other bits on someone without their consent. </grump>. I'm a big mother hen today, aren't I?
  12. Policital topics getting canned here.

    Not usually a mod, just your friendly neighborhood Rosa-- but let me say that a part of it is that we've got to be careful. I asked the mods to do this during the presidential elections last time because it began to get heated. As a 501c3 we are an apolitical organization, and while the forums aren't ACen/MAPS words, we try to err on the side of caution in not getting tangled up in political speech because it could literally cost us our NFP status. Causes like the Comic Book legal Defense Fund? Absolutely fair game, but when it comes to partisanship and elections, we must remain neutral, and we need to avoid the perception of taking sides or endorsing. I don't want to stir up a big fuss, but you guys did ask, and I feel like you deserve an answer.
  13. Horrible treatment at the Embassy

    I know most of the Embassy staff--I almost always stay there when I come in for meetings. I also have to believe there's back story we're not getting, and it may not even be with this group. It may have been with another group that was offstage from where you were who tainted his mood at just the wrong moment. It may have been he mistook you guys for another group. There's really no way to know. In any case, I think we've hashed this to the end of its relevancy. Your remedies are through Embassy corporate, and all their contact info is on their website. They do read and respond to complaints, because I have submitted them about other hotels in the past (I travel a lot for work, and have some pretty trippy travel war stories, like having someone else checked into my room with all my stuff in it). Aaanyway. Reach out to corporate and see if they can make things right with you. I'm sorry you had a bad experience, but it isn't a consistent pattern with this hotel, and mostly we have rave reviews about them in the attendee survey we're doing. So as an isolated incident it is unfortunate, but not something that is going to alter the nature of our relationship with the venue- we love them and they treat us well, and they treat our attendees well. I am still very sorry that wasn't your experience. Let's close this thread out because it's turning into picking and name calling at this point.
  14. Is Acen even considered an anime convention anymore?

    Personally, I have to say that when I was chair this thread always helped me..even while it was making me ranty :) Sure, not everyone is nice, and not everyone is constructive, and there will always be ideas (like 'Let's move the con to a different location' 'ban all non-anime cosplay' and 'cancel all non-anime events and guests') that I always just looked past, because they'd fundamentally change ACen in ways that would turn it into a completely different show, and cost us things we don't want to give up. But most of the folks here are respectful fans with genuine gripes, and often some VERY good ideas for how to fix them. That is incredibly valuable to a fan-run organization. Some of the best ideas we've pulled in over the past five years have come from you guys, and from this or other forum threads that started with a conversation of the problems. You know what? there will always BE problems. It's how we deal with them when they happen that differentiates us: do we listen to the fans, acknowledge the issues, and try to come up with a plan to remedy for the future, or do we as a con staff just make excuses and look the other way. We're all fans too, and we do this same kind of gripe/complain/brainstorm process after con internally (in fact in about two weeks we meet to do it!). We do it because before you can get to solutions, you have to clear the air, and purge the stress and emotion, because putting on the show is a complete pressure cooker, no matter how smoothly it ran. So, in short-- keep 'em coming. Keep talking about what you perceive as the biggest issues, and how you'd fix them. And (cue the sales pitch!) if you decide you want to be part of the fixing process..VOLUNTEER. Come down to the Volunteering thread and sign up- we're always happy for fresh ideas and new enthusiastic people who want to be a part of things. Keep the ideas and opinions coming! Should we make some tweaks to reg and specialty badge pickup? Should we limit ages on the dance? Should we change the time on the masquerade and add more buffer? Should we work on a better way of announcing panels schedule changes?
  15. Hyatt Question

    Correct. We usually time it to right around the opening date for Registration. Please don't call the Hyatt and ask. They don't know because at this point we haven't given them a date yet. :) Also, when we do open it, it'll open about 8-9AM CT.