Monday, December 29, 2008

Some New Year Plans!

Once more traveling on our remarkable little planet we are about to complete another circuit around our G-class, life-giving helium factory, the Sun. As we do every year at this time, our thoughts in OSFES turn to activities we can or should pursue in its coming circuit. Let me throw out some ideas and see if there’s any interest in these group events:

If you are part of a group involved in creating or re-creating fannish costumes and would like to dust them off for some community goodwill, why not tour Omaha’s bookstores and libraries in character doing readings from genre literature? I know members of the Omaha Public Library are interested in scheduling such events. If we can find enough interesting characters, we should also be able to work our way into some of the major bookstores in the area.

What you would read would be determined by the costume you were wearing. If you were portraying a Star Wars character, you’d read from a Star Wars novel. If you were dressed as a character from Star Trek, you’d read a passage from a Star Trek novel, and maybe read the first few passages in Klingon if you were dressed as a Klingon. If you were dressed in a medieval costume for a Renaissance fair, you’d read something by Tolkien or from one of the Dragonlance books. If you were doing anime cosplay, you’d read from a particularly interesting manga. If you were dressed for a live-action version of Vampire: The Masquerade, you’d read something by Anne Rice or Laurell K. Hamilton. What you read should reflect both who you’re portraying and what’s on the shelves of the establishment where you’re doing it.

Yes, there’s a promotional motive to this: First, we’re promoting literacy. Second, we’re promoting books in the establishment we’re in. And third, we’re promoting ourselves. Members of the various groups doing the readings should be recruiting for new members for their groups while helping OSFES get the word out about its activities. If we do this right, we all win.

But this promotional cosplay doesn’t have to be limited to reading and books. Another possibility would be to have some of the anime fan groups show up in costume to attend the February 5th showing of the movie “The Sword of the Stranger.” This one-night event, happening at 7:30 PM and would be a great opportunity for those of us who love anime to let the theaters know we exists as a community and want to see more such films.

In this same vein, Starfleet marines and legions of Klingon warriors could turn out in force and in costume for the May 8th premiere of the new Star Trek movie. If we coordinated these events properly, the press coverage could go a long way to identifying our fannish presence in the community and presenting us in a positive light.

Okay, you’d like to take part in these activities, but you don’t have a costume. Would you be interested in taking part in a one-day costuming workshop that would help you and your fellow attendees create your own costume to dress up in, whether at a convention, a Renaissance fair, or just for the fun of it? I know there are cosplay groups and master-level costumers in the greater metro area who have the know-how to teach neo-costumers the basics and then direct their efforts into actual accomplishments. We in OSFES would be willing to find a location for such an event if we can find instructors willing to give of their time and talent.

So what do you think? I want your comments. Do you want to get together with other fans and make our next trip around the sun a more entertaining one? What would you like to do during our next roundabout of the Sun?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Message From Space

Since the theme for OSFest 2 is the 40th anniversary of the Apollo Moon Mission, it is appropriate to look back at what happened 40 years ago this week.

NASA had held up the Apollo mission for 22 months delay to rework the problems that had lead up to the disastrous events aboard the earthbound Apollo 1. A command module fire swept through the cabin and took the lives of Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, Ed White and Roger B. Chaffee. Finally a successful Apollo 7 mission relaunched the program. 40 years ago this week, on December 21, 1968; Frank Borman, James Lovell, and Williams Anders blasted off aboard Apollo 8 with enough speed to reach escape velocity and became the first humans to break free of Earth’s gravitational bounds and journey to another celestial body. Though their mission was not to make the actual landing, they were the first people to see the far side of the moon, the side that never presents itself to we mere Earthbound observers. I remember thinking at the time what willpower it must have taken to not divert their space craft and make that landing even knowing they would not be able to return from it. But they followed the mission profile, completed their circuit of the moon and snapped one of the most iconic photos ever taken. The image of a small planet Earth coming up over the moonrise. And on Christmas Eve, as they came back into radio contact with the entire world watching their broadcast, and after having taken turns reading from the Book of Genesis, they ended their transmission with these words; "And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a merry Christmas and God bless all of you, all of you on the good earth."

These were men that built the dreams of many a young man of my generation. I salute you kind sirs, your deeds were truly heroic!

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Omaha Anime Festival has been cancelled!

The Omaha Anime Festival had to be cancelled due to a very low number of preregistrations. Having run conventions and set up events in the Omaha area, I know how expensive these things can be and in particular the terror of an organizer when registrations do not pour in as the “go/no-go” deadline approaches. So the question I pose in today’s blog is: Why did the Omaha Anime Festival not achieve its registration objectives?” I invite people to submit their answers and comments, so all the local event organizers can learn from this experience.

1) Did you know about the event?
     - Was the publicity campaign not thorough enough to let you know what was going on and where?
     - What is the best way to present new events to you: websites, mailings, emails, or some other way? How would you like to receive information about fannish happenings in the Omaha metro area?
2) Was the timing bad?
     - Did you already have too much on your plate with the holiday season itself or with other fannish-related activities already scheduled this month?
     - Was the weather a factor? Given that December weather can be unpredictable; did you think you would be unable to attend the event?
3) Was the price too high?
     - Was the discounted value of preregistration not enough to encourage you to purchase a membership?
     - Was the preregistration cutoff date set at an inconvenient time for you? Would you have preregistered if you had known better as to when the cutoff date was?
4) Was the event something you didn’t care for? If you’re just not into anime, are there other films (or events) you would like organizers to look up and bring into the area?
5) Are you willing to come to an event, see a movie and talk with other fans about it afterwards, or is a film festival something whose day has passed?
     - Is watching anime or SF/F programming something you would rather do from your home these days?
     - Or was it just the choice of films that didn’t really grab you? If the listed movies weren’t to your liking, what anime movies would you rather see?
6) Was the reason you didn’t register that you didn’t know enough about anime to want to come?
     - If the problem was lack of knowledge about the subject, what would you like to know and how best can we present that information to you to encourage you to come out in the future?
     - Do you know about the anime fan clubs in the Omaha metro area?

I really do want people to submit comments. If you have your own blog and want to leave a more extensive talk about this subject, then please post a link to it in your comment. Thank you for your thoughts.