First of all I'd like to apologize to all of you for being so late in updating the newsletter. I had planned to post my report immediately after the meeting so you could get the story of the elections from me rather than the "official" story on the forums and website. Well that week I got reassigned at work and instead of taking phone calls, I'm now doing data entry. That's right, I type numbers in all day and send emails. So the thought of typing up several pages of report and emailing it out didn't seem like much fun. To make it up to you all I'm going to include some info on the Fall Pocky flavors (now available at Uwajimaya and other fine stores) as well as some new links to the Club website. First though, lets get down to business with the October meeting report.
Warning, this contains a lot of con drama. Heh.
The meeting began with the announcement that Alto Nimbus, the non-profit organization behind the convention is now going to be fused with the Board of directors. The old members of AN are now designated as "Founding Members" who have full votes as long as they continue to participate in running the convention on some level. The Elected Con-Chair will be serving as the President of AN. This is mostly a business maneuver to redirect the flow of power. It keeps the "Old Guard" from holding on to power past their due but allows them to still have a say in the con they helped create. They also placed a limit on the amount of people that are on the Alto Nimbus board to 13. This means that unless there are new Director positions added, only 8 Founding Members will be on the board at any given time so it's possible that they could be replaced by future elected officials. It's just not likely. This is a nice plan and it streamlines the business model a great deal by eliminating the different levels of convention staff and business staff. The main problem with it is the second announcement that Peter (Oldest of the Old Guard and the first Kumoricon Chair) made; non-staff will no longer be allowed to vote in the election of Directors and Chair.
Now in a business sense this is completely understandable. You don't get to have any say in the way a company is run if you're not actually an employee. However, in a convention sense it's a little less palatable. I'm sure the Old Guard would love to conjure illusions of rampant fangirls arriving at the elections and swinging the vote in the direction of somebody they thought was cute or funny. This will never happen. If you have ever attended the meetings then you'll know that almost all of the people present are there because they NEED to be there to get business done, and in the case of many of them (staff, Board, and Old Guard included) they don't even want to be there. The idea of people that don't care about the well being of the convention bothering to show up and vote for the "wrong choice" is just not going to happen. I believe that those volunteers and convention goers that have the will (and cleverness in some cases) to get to the election meeting should get to have a say in the convention they love. Even if the general populace was only able to vote for the chairperson while the Directors were put before the staffers, it would be a nice gesture. However, as you'll see, it might not matter that much in the future if we don't get more new blood.
Before we get into the actual election, let's examine the actual positions.
Director of Operations
Director of Programming
Director of Publicity
Director of Relations
Operations Managers: Registration, A/V, Yojimbo, Volunteer Coordination
Programing Managers: Technology, Performance, Main Events, Creations, Special Events Manager- (unknown)
Publicity Managers: Street Team
Half of the elected positions were unopposed from the very start. A lot of the nominees (about half!) deferred the nomination, meaning that they would only do the job and accept the nomination if NO-ONE else would. Sean Larson (Evil Monkey), former Kumoricon Chairperson and Sakuracon Programming Director (or some such big important position), was unopposed for his position as Director of Relations. This is not suprising, he's basically been in the position since he was convention chair in 2004. At first people complained that he wouldn't have time and we'd suffer because of his Sakuracon responsibilities but really it's not a problem. Sakuracon controls so much of our convention already that there's really very little we can do without them no matter who has the position. He's very good at the art of schmoozing, that is, networking people in the industry, and has slowly made steps up the ladder as far as the number and quality of our guests. The only real issue is that fact that he actually LIVES in Seattle Washington and won't have a chance to visit us and the Board down in Portland. We'll revisit the issues with Washington later, lets move on with the election for now.
[keep in mind, I wrote this at the beginning of the meeting and updated it as things progressed]
You could say that Meg (ecchispice) was unopposed for Chair but Waffles (Rob) was the people's candidate and can't be discounted. Meg was Chair last year and did good. Waffles has made tons of friends in his work on Yojimbo and has proven himself to be an efficient and capable worker. The question is whether his popularity is more powerful than his inexperience, a lot of people also don't take him seriously.
Waffles also endorsed Meg but is running because the people want him to.
Meg was the one who seconded Waffles' nomination.
The big elections are Brownie (lowtech) vs Brenda (nyco) for Ops and the three-way for Programming. Brenda (last year's Programming Director) is up against Jacki (Last year's Karaoke Manager) and David (Who's always been staff but not a Director so far). Brenda and Jacki make a good tag team and will work together no matter who gets the post. David has been staff for a long time now but he's always low profile. The first thing I noticed about him was that he spent the whole meeting playing World of Warcraft instead of even talking about the con.
[moving on we get to the actual voting for Con Chair]
*Meg vs Waffles*
Most of the Q&A/Debate was about Waffles being inexperienced, but very little about Meg at all. Two people noted real mistakes and problems with last year's convention and they got attacked immediately. The Old Guard had gotten their presumption warmed up for the anti-Waffles blitz and despite his endorsement for Meg and the fact that Meg was the right gal for the job, they wanted to make sure not one of us could make a valid point against her. She won of course, but if someone with clout had stepped up for the job I wonder how many of the hounds would have been let loose on them.
Next up was Ops. Brenda stepped out of the race (an unsurpising tactical decision that ended up making a mockery of the whole election) which gave Brownie the spot automatically. We then grilled Brownie about her plans for next year. Her constant controlling personality seems like it will make Ops' activities very clear and very active, almost forceful. The risk we seem to be facing is Brownie seizing assets from other departments (as well as their human resources). The real question about Ops now comes down to managers. Brownie mentioned assigning Duncan to A/V, which he has pretty much ALWAYS done. I can vouch that main events always works good, but have panels in need of gear has not always run so smoothly. She mentioned Rian (guspasho) and Andrew for some positions; but most amusing was that she'd hoped to get Lyle (Pezcat) back on the Registration Manager position. Lyle stepped away from the reg desk this year with disastrous results. It was the biggest thing complained about at the convention (and something Meg may or may not have been responsible for, depending on who's defending who). Lyle actually felt enough pity for the poor con-goers that he actually did step in and help organize tables after hours of nonsense. Though Lyle wasn't present, Brenda (who is his girlfriend) made sure we all knew right away that he was having none of it. After she was done laughing that is.
Jeff, the only option when it came to the Publicity Director position, made a very good presentation that included his reworking of the website, a bit about the pocket guide project and promises to get the publicity schedule up and out sooner than before. The Pocket guide in last year's grab bags was an innovative little invention of his and a Kumoricon first. Despite complaints about the schedule and general legibility the fact that he successfully produced it en masse and on schedule was impressive. To his credit, he was asked some tough questions about web advertisements and scheduling, he held up well. During the Q&A Peter (with the help of the Old Guard) shot down a bunch of curious con-goers who wanted to know more about his plans. Despite them being in a hurry to get on with things they felt it neccesary to actually countvotes in the one man election and conduct the parliamentary procedure bullshit I associate with the stupidest of bureaucracies.
I started the letter talking about Sean so I'll just move on to the next "election"; it was more time wasting and insistent time wasting from the people in charge.
When it came to the most interesting election of the bunch, the three way for Programming, we had another fallout. David looked up from his video game just long enough to step out of the race and Jacki did the same. Jacki and Brenda had planned to do so however, for they had been working out which of them would do what in 2007 since before closing ceremonies in September. It's really too bad because this would have been major drama bait. There were complaints about cosplay, photo shoots, and the conflict with Brownie. Every complaint could be traced to things that were the responsibilities of all staff members and couldn't be pinned on anyone specific person. Brenda wowed everyone with her forethought of organization and her indomitable FLOW CHART of the Programming staff. It had places for each assigned manager and their email address, it included her assistants, managers, and specific panel positions. It was the biggest and most concrete piece of evidence in the whole room when it came to showing people your capabilities.
After the elections (or lack thereof) the discussion immediately moved to the '07 con space. Vancouver Convention Center. Washington.
That's right, we're no longer in Oregon. My line on this has always been that we used to be "Kumoricon, Oregon's Premiere Anime Convention" but now it should be "Kumoricon, Sakuracon's bitch". This is connected back to what I was talking about in the beginning when I mentioned Sean's connections. Early last year Vallie and I noticed that the convention has moved further north every year and it would only be a matter of time before were were using the same space as Sakuracon, just different times of year.
The funny thing is, the complaints about it not being in Oregon and not too upset about the location. The Old Guard and staffers have been downright aggressive in their defense of the location. They nearly barked the advantages of the location at us and there was an unceasing murmur of "stfu" and "quit bitching" from even the friendliest staffers. The problem with their position is their enthusiastic (angry) promotion of the Center makes it sound like they want to be up there. If they worked even a drop of remorse they would soothe the Oregonian naysayers. They could also avoid a lot of complaints by focusing on the fact that we're growing so much that we need to move out of hotels more and learn to work with convention centers and hotels. My favorite point is that this is our last stop before we're big enough to actually take up the Portland Convention Center. If growth continues as projected it will be as little as two years before we'll be too big for Vancouver and big enough to afford and justify the big Center.
Here is the forum thread on the subject where you can read all the drama yourself;
After the staff broke up and the populace left Brenda immediately amassed her minions into a department meeting to fill out her giant chart. The only other elected official who seemed to do their actual job right away was Meg. No surprise really since the non-elected staffers were already working on things (as if they had known the whole election process was a farce from the beginning). Another reason none of the other Directors seemed to do stuff immediately is that they were running unopposed and had started working on next year as soon as they had finished recovering from this year's con. Here is a look of what little information I managed to get from Brenda's org chart.
Video Coordinator- Jacki
Technology Manager- Jacki
Performance Manager- Ginu
Main Events Manager- Michael Fuller
Creations Manager- Ellen
Special Events Manager- (unknown)
So there you have it, the elections of one candidate and general joke that was the October meeting. Come to the November meeting on the 18th and venture to those wild and woolly lands of downtown Vancouver, Washington to see the much vaunted convention center. You may even stop complaining about the state and realize it's a very nice place. Not me though, I don't care how nice of a building we're in if I have to cross two rivers to get there. >:P
There's more to this update than con-drama though! We're Pocky Club darnit! So let's talk Pocky!
I took with me to the meeting three new flavors of Pocky that debuted this fall. The first was one of the fruit flavors, a line introduced last year when they brought out Melon. Grape Pocky has a strong aroma and tastes very purple. The kind of grape you get from a pack of Bubble Yum or other artificially flavore candy. A very nice treat and refreshing after the oddities of the other two flavors.
The Five-Tastes pocky are socalled because of their names, Goka and Kurogo. Go means five in Japanese and the boxes bear five prominent Japanese words on the front (in both romanji and kanji) and actually incorporate all of the listed flavors into the creamy coating. Kurogo is a reimagining of the Sesame (or Kuroga) pocky that we had last year, however it has met with just as much failure. It's overpowering aroma frightens most samplers off before they can taste the cracker-like qualities of the black soy and black pine flavorings. Goka is a little better, choosing five fruits rather than seeds. Among the inclusions were peach and apricot, but unfortunately we didn't have enough translators to decipher the others. Should any of you wish to help the club by contribiuting translations feel free to visit our gallery and let us know what things are saying.
Thus ends this edition of the Pocky Club Newsletter. Expect to hear from me again sometime after the first of the year when I come out of my hibernation for good. Until then email me with any questions you might have.
Also I might have to keep an eye on the parts of the forums that remain active. Especially when they're so full of deliciously misleading propaganda. My favorite of the lies is this:
guspasho "Believe it or not, Washington is just like Oregon. The only noticable differences are sales tax (which doesn't apply to Pocky and Ramune as food items, BTW!) and the lack of smoking in bars."
Thanks for being part of Pocky Club!
I hope you all had a great Pocky Day on November 11th!