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July 24th, 2003


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01:29 pm - LIve from easyInternetCafe, it's Nimbus - 2003!
Nimbus - 2003 was superb; I'm really glad I went. I loved it. However, I didn't realise how much I loved it until it was over.

Here's the relatively short version - you're in distinct danger of getting a chronological account at some later date.

The wibbling.

[Location: easyInternetCafe, 234 W 42nd, New York, NY; time: noon Eastern, Tuesday 22nd]

Nimbus - 2003 was pretty stressful for me, though it was probably as close as it could have been to what I ought to have expected in advance. The main problem I had was that I knew I had prepared for the events for which I was responsible but not nearly as thoroughly as I could or should have done. (In a previous friends-only post I had written "Simultaneously I am as well prepared for it as I ever could be and horribly, impossibly under-prepared...") Accordingly, I spent most of my time at the event working on finishing off the Quest and Fandom Sqaures rather than being able to enjoy the programming and other activities. This put me in a strange mood which took an unusually weird and unhelpful turn; I ended up feeling guilty when I wasn't working, when there were other folks busy and I wasn't helping them out. Accordingly, I ended up spending very little time with my suitemates, about which I feel rather sad, and even ended up having a couple of lonely meals forced by temporal considerations. If I had been posting this on (say) Friday night then this would have been really rather a negative post; there were times when everything was getting on top of me and I wanted to cry myself to sleep.

Please don't take this the wrong way, especially the staff and my suitemates. My lifestyle, thought patterns and experience over the con were about 90% by choice. I do know that I could've told people how difficult I was finding things and asked people to help me out. I definitely did do this to some extent (I certainly didn't completely avoid doing so) and certainly thought about doing this to a greater extent, but decided against it purely because it wouldn't've been efficient; it would have been a poor way to waste their time and not particularly more effective than me working on my own. Also, I recognise that the underpreparation was purely my own fault and so it would seem very selfish to force other people to change their behaviour on my behalf to a greater extent than I already did. I already felt very guilty about how much of (effectively chair and deputy chair) Gwen and Amy's time I took up over the duration off the symposium, for instance. They had so much to do that it felt awful to drag their attention onto things which I know I really ought to have done myself before I got here.

I don't say this as a brag or a boast at all; I am ashamed about this and do feel bad. I am not proud of this. I recognise that I let the team down to an extent. It's horrible.

On the other hand, I do recognise that Nimbus was identifiably a little better as a result of the activities I organised. Furthermore, I acknowledge that it's being realistic rather than immodest to suggest that, for some of the things I worked on, there are very few other attendees who might have been able to do a better job than the one I actually did; more to the point, those who might've done these things better didn't actually volunteer to do so. Accordingly, I don't think that on balance I did harm to the event, which is a tremendous relief. However, I know that the things I did were consciously half-assed, anyone could see that they were in defecit to the tune of one buttock, and that I could've done a lot more good than I actually did. This makes me feel bad and makes me feel that I deserve to do so. This is just another of the things that I've gone into in my life with a demi-derrièred attitude and I really need to sort out the process of "how to sort things out". It's a major concern.

On top of this, I was slowly kicking off the tail end of my summer cold, which principally manifested itself by me needing to breathe through my mouth rather than through my nose while I was asleep. Conclusion: SSSSSNORE, SSSSSNORE. Couldn't be helped, but still not a desirable thing for one of your suitemates to do. (I do hope that I didn't pass on my crazy British germs to anyone else to create a wave of post-Nimbus colds like the wave of post-punt!t00bage ones.)

There's also the fact that I just, well, often don't know how to relax, don't feel confident about naturally being able to behave sociably and well and sometimes don't know how to feel comfortable even in the company of people I like, particularly when this only child is sharing a bedroom with other folks. (Again, I had previously written "On top of that, I know that people's lack of confidence and discomfort tends to be infectious to some extent; I hate to think that my discomfort and lack of confidence might spread to other folk and make their Nimbus less fun.") These are the stupidest things not to be comfortable doing, but that's just the way I am. By curious contrast, I found it much easier to get on with the people who I was working alongside than the people who I was relaxing alongside. I can make all the excuses and point to all the extenuating factors I like, but the end result is that I'm really not such an ideal suitemate.

While I believe that I didn't make any major behavioural cock-ups over the week (though I know there were a few smugnesses, unconstructive comments and snide remarks that I really ought to have avoided) I never escaped the feeling that I might have been offending or annoying either co-workers or co-resters in about fifty thousand ways and never knowing quite how I was doing so. People will tend not to tell you this to your face, though we all know, human nature being what it is, that people will tend to say what they really think behind people's backs - and people's real opinions are what matters at the end of the day. I appreciate it when people have the strength to tell me the things which are hard to hear; though it will make me feel bad for a time, in the long term, it's the only way that I'll ever learn the lessons that I know I need to learn.

None of this is anyone's fault but my own; please do not take this as a slight on any of you. It's just my general dissatisfaction with my own state of mind, my own lack of dedication (I never felt that I was on top of things over the year we spent preparing for the event) and my own abilities. I remind you that I really am glad I did go to Nimbus - 2003, despite everything. I hope that you feel that I am being honest in my overall assessment there rather than diplomatic and polite.

Thus concludes the own-personality-dissatisfaction wibbling. All wibbled out now.

The dissing.

I organised and co-organised the Game Room and three specific events. I'm going to try to grade how I felt about them on a A+-to-D-(-or-F) scale.

The Game Room itself featured one PC playing the Sorceror's (sic) Stone and Chamber of Secrets games; we eventually also had a TV delivered to the room, but unfortunately nobody brought a console and a console game to hook up to it. :-( We didn't feature all the licensed board and card games, but we did have a reasonably good selection. The Sorceror's Stone trivia game proved particularly popular. We also had zorac's Fandomopoly down there which attracted attention. (Supposedly someone else brought their own, different, set to the symposium, but I never found out about it.) Still in two minds about whether it should've been down there or not, but we haven't got into trouble about it so far and if we don't get into trouble in the future then I guess we've just about got away with it.

The Game Room was very variable in popularity; for long stretches almost empty, at some points (particularly after Gwen had just plugged it!) extremely busy. Huge credit must go to Sara and Mike who staffed the Game Room for a lot of time, which must've been a very boring job for long stretches. There was a sign-up sheet, but I suspect we ended up landing the two of them with far more hours in there than they had been planning, about which I feel somewhat sad. (Particularly because I ended up spending a lot less time there than I had originally planned to do, due to zipping off and doing Quest things and Fandom Squares things - which, again, I should've got done in advance.) The look of the room wasn't the most attractive; we did feature Mike's amazing Quidditch hoops and Sara's gorgeous Quidditch scoreboard, but it still looked somewhat bland. Perhaps shifting the Quidditch team pennants in there as well might've cheered things up. All told, the Game Room clearly could've been better, the Game Room clearly could've been more welcoming, but what we had was just about satisfactory. Without wanting to dismiss Mike and Sara's excellent efforts, I think perhaps a C would be a reasonable grade to award.

A much more important question is how the Game Room might be better next time. A major flaw was not getting the room opened early enough in the mornings, which was tied up with not organising sufficient manpower well in advance and not taking our "getting things out of the office in the morning" issues sorted out as well as they should've been done. Resolving that issue and getting a wider selection of games would take the grade up to a B. Any further than that would involve a better program of outreach, being more welcoming, offering properly scheduled introductions and so forth.

Fandom Squares... well. Setting this up took rather longer than planned, largely because we had difficulties in getting homestar's excellent software onto the PC we had planned to use for the job. It took about 25 minutes (and $3) to get such a thing as a simple single floppy disk, and even then that was only due to bumping into a business centre employee when the hotel next door's business centre was closed. Accordingly, I didn't have the time I wanted to brief the Squares in the way I'd like and we ended up missing a few important briefing points that would've speeded things up.

homestar's software worked perfectly and the mechanics of the gameplay were fine. In the end, we played four games over an hour, which is fine, but the first three of those games were X-correct/O-wrong/X-correct-for-the-win three-question sprints, so not illustrating the subtleties of which Fandom Squares was capable. By contrast, game four was a ten-or-eleven-question marathon; one person had two parallel threats at one point, but the opponent eventually blocked one and the threatener squandered the other so nothing came of it. Game four had a comical conclusion; the laptop on which we were running the game software popped up a "Warning: Low Battery!" notice over the top of the gameboard, which caused me to take another look at the clock and declare this to be an appropriate point to crown the game a 4-4 time-limit draw.

There was one comical incident in which one contestant (who, shall we say, made a name for herself over the weekend) crowned a pattern of being somewhat less than co-operative towards the progress of the game by refusing to accept one of our answers for which we had named our source. I could get the precise wording wrong here, and this may be a situation where the precise wording is important, but I recall the dialogue going something like
X: I think you should check your source right now!
Me: (imitating her slightly hysterical tone) I think you should kiss my ass!
To be fair, she did then proceed to do just that - or, at least, through my jeans - and then we got on with the rest of the game. I'm a bit ashamed because it was rude, crude and possibly crossing the boundaries of good taste to the point of being a poor reflection on the con and the board, but... hey, it seemed to be the right thing to do at the time and people seemed to get a laugh out of it.

The most important thing about Fandom Squares is that it must be funny - if it's not funny, it's a waste of time. Our Fandom Squares was occasionally funny, but the good laughs were few and far between. Largely, the unscripted, ad-libbed stuff went over pretty well; the scripted material tended to go down like a lead balloon. The biggest flaws were that I wrote wayyyyyyyy too much preamble and chat for each question, so that the jokes were very few and far between. Another big problem - and one that I should've known to do something about - was that we gave off the impression that people were reading their gags off paper instead of appearing to ad-lib them all by having more discreet palm-cards and the like. It all-too-frequently came across as being ponderously slow, unconfident and that we were (sings:) go-ing through the mo-tions. It was particularly annoying that we had some really good gags for some of the Squares which we didn't get round to using, largely because they depended on certain jokes having been told beforehand.

Let's be honest, there was a general consensus opinion of "I'm glad that's over" at the end; we died on our arses, folks, though we did at least keep going throughout. I don't blame the nine Fandom Squares themselves in any way for this. After all, you can only work with the material you're given - and the material I gave you was clearly not up to scratch. If history chooses to recall that the only thing that happened in Fandom Squares was that I told someone to kiss my ass and they actually did so then I think we'll have got away with it, but I have a nasty feeling that people will remember that there were lots of people there who were trying to be funny and failing - and it seldom gets more painful than that. Let's call it a C-. (Fandom Squares, I'm not giving you a C-; I'm giving the overall session a C- and taking the blame for it myself.)

[Location: easyInternetCafe, London Victoria; time: 3:30pm British, Wednesday 23rd]

Now that's a harsh grade, but let's be brutally honest here - some things at Nimbus were better than others, and Fandom Squares was one of those others. It's lousy when someone does something badly and claims they were doing it well after all; let's be completely honest and upfront here and say what people really will be saying to each other about it.

On the other hand, I feel confident that next time I could produce something worth at least a B with a few simple changes. 1) Write much less scripted material. 2) Use palm cards with hint words instead of reading fully pre-prepared answers from sheets. 3) Prepare the Squares much better than they were this time. 4) Keep things going much more quickly. 5) Get each of the Squares a cocktail before the show starts. (Yes, I'm serious here.) To get above a B, it's got to be really funny... and that'll take a little bit of comedy-writing magic. Much more thought required here.

The Quest. Yuck. We had effectively nine parts to the puzzle which went on over the weekend. Two of them were very cool and went as planned. Seven of them were cool in principle but their execution was significantly flawed. The major problem was that we were just behind the pace - we didn't have things prepared properly in time. Having cool stunts and puzzles (and we certainly did!) is all very well but you've got to execute them properly so that people can enjoy them to their full potential. We didn't.

We also had problems in terms of numbers of participants; many teams started, but the numbers dwindled over the weekend and only four teams completed the course. Starting with what was in practice one of the harder puzzles was a flaw which really should've been avoided. We can't really take much credit for some of the cool later puzzles and stunts when most people didn't get to see what they were.

Overall, the Quest gets a D+, largely because the playtesting was evidently vastly insufficient. If I had been a participant then I know I would've been far more frustrated by the timing glitches and screw-ups than I would've enjoyed the cool parts. Clearly the weakest Quest or Hunt of the three that I have run to date, so I feel competent to judge when things work well or badly and knowing just how badly this went.

Along the same lines, I have (co-)run what could reasonably be described as a B+ hunt in the past. If we had got everything in this Quest together and available in time as originally planned, this would definitely have been at least a B or a B+ hunt; as it stood, it was no better than "nice try but...". Again, I take the blame for not getting my act together in time and getting far more material in the right place at the right time in advance. It was my fault. This was particularly frustrating because it could so easily have been so much better if I had been doing my job properly.

Quidditch was incredibly cool. We had some remarkably nifty Quidditch hoops. We had a hugely smart Quidditch scoreboard. We had people commentating on the games like Lee Jordan. We had the most amazing-looking team banners, plus people shouting on their favourite team with hand-held pennants. People got really into it. This was a good thing.

[Location: notquiteaneasyInternetCafe, Chris' bedroom in Middlesbrough; time: 1am British, Thursday 24th]

However, it had lots of problems: it was very slow to begin with at the start, people had difficulty following the action (for instance, small details like "which teams the players were on"), there were long gaps between the games, the discovered-fake-Snitches aspect added a vast amount of interruptions and downtime... heck, I'm not sure that the Snitch aspect of things worked at all well. The Bludger aspect of the game definitely didn't work particularly well. At the risk of blasphemy, Quidditch is frankly not that good a game in the first place as games go (yes, we did have someone complain about the overvalued 150-point Snitch, and rightfully so) and difficult to bring to Muggle life. However, we can go through the parts of our adaptation of the game one by one and tweak them by way of improvement for future use.

Quidditch attracted far more compliments than any of the other things that I was involved with, but frankly it was so visual and so outlandish a concept that it would still have been popular if we had only had two balls and five players per side. If you add together points for the immense, ridiculous cool and deduct points for the problems, I think a grade of B is not unreasonable. There were possibly 150-300 from a symposium of 600 in attendance for the first game (aside: does this count towards my "Watch 50 sports at the top level" ambition?) but this number dropped over time; after all, you'd have to be a real fan to watch four games of it in a row.

The really exciting thing about Quidditch is that the ways to improve it are pretty obvious. I think next time a genuinely A-grade Quidditch session is well within our reach.

First of all, if at all possible, we try to split the Quidditch session in two; it would be far better to have the qualifying matches before an extended break and the big Grand Final after the break, thus making sure that the players are all fresh for the Grand Final and that we can have lots of instruction and gubbins when there are only a few people watching the qualifying matches rather than lots of people watching the Grand Final. Then when it comes to the final we can bring the fans in and get right down to the action without the extended preliminaries - show people one really good game of Quidditch and then get them out.

Second, I've got a convincing-looking theory about the Snitches. We still have Snitch-movers about the field carrying many (I now think a value for "many" of 12-16 looks right) Snitches, all but one of which are decoy. However, we don't stop the game for the grabbing of a decoy Snitch - we simply remove the decoy Snitch from the field of play and continue play. Once you know there are, say, 8 or 10 decoy Snitches off the pitch already, you know that the end of the game is pretty imminent, which ramps up the tension - yet there's always the possibility that the real Snitch could be the next one caught, right from the very start.

Third, Quidditch is always going to be so popular that we can afford to put a fairly serious barrier to entry in the way of potential players and we still won't have difficulty in filling the line-up. If we were to get every potential tournament team to pre-register and plunk down, say, $140 in advance in return for seven co-ordinated Quidditch jerseys (emblazoned with team logos, player names and so on) then following the game would be considerably easier and it would look incredibly spiffy. Admittedly there's always the possibility that your team will lose in 3'02" (as happened in the grand final) but at least you will have some very nifty shirts as a souvenir. I definitely want to keep the possibility of open-access pick-up Quidditch if at all possible, but taking the tournament to another level of dedication seems to be the logical progression.

Inevitably the Quidditch got a lot of the media attention. I, as token male Brit who has travelled 4,500 miles to get there (footprint distance - about 3,500 miles as the crow flies), got rather more mentions than I deserved; some of the press picked out my details from the programme so that the world can go "Here, what's this Oxford maths grad doing going on holiday to run Quidditch?". There were frequently enough of my personal details quoted to make me very recognisable, more so than I'd have liked. Meh; it's a risk of the profession.

The comical thing is that one Roger Highfield, who is Science Editor of the Daily Telegraph and so should know better even more than I should was present to give a talk and to plug his latest book, yet ended up playing on one of the teams. His turned out to be the winning team, thus giving him something to write about in his article that he really hadn't expected. He slightly muffed the punchline of the story, though; he didn't point out that his team's seeker in the Grand Final caught the Golden Snitch even faster than Harry Potter ever did, which is why his story had such a fairytale ending.

I really enjoyed being the Quidditch MC, doing the introductions and so on, though my attempt to commentate on the Grand Final proved abortive; live sports commentary is hard. There was one instance when I was momentarily (but possibly visibly) ticked off, when one of the commentators said "Let's get ready to rumble!" for four reasons: (a) I wanted to be the one to say it, (b) you save the Buffer for the main event, not the opening match, (c) there are probably legal implications involved with stealing the Buffer catchphrase so I had planned to change the final two words to "for Quidditch" and (d) by far the most irritating crime was that he didn't get nearly enough hang time on the "lllllllet's" or the "rrrrrrrrready". Le sulk.

So, all told, we have a B, a C, a C- and a D+; I think that that works out as an average of a C. Not bad as such, but definitely a lot of room for improvement and things which should have been done rather better with proper preparation. By comparison, I don't think many people would argue that the convention wasn't deserving of an A or at least an A-; by no means perfect (that's what the theoretical A+ is for) but it did so many things right that it's worthy of the highest accolades. gwendolyngrace should henceforth be referred to as Hobby Ghoddess gwendolyngrace, treated as Guest of Honour at the next Nimbus and so on and so forth. Fangirl this woman forthwith for she deserves it.

Hmm. Should we have been grading all these sessions on the OWL letter scale? I suppose I could say that my efforts were worthy of an A in that case - just that it's an A for Acceptable rather than a superior E for Exceeds Expectations or an ideal O for Oustanding...

The good stuff: the people!

The people at Nimbus - 2003 were incredibly lovely. I won't name LJ usernames because I'll be bound to forget someone really nice and cause offence, but I have very happy memories of:
  • two ladies who I have met before and whose company I always enjoy extremely much,
  • a number of ladies who I hadn't met before but who turned out to be extremely sweet, patient, supportive and very, very funny,
  • a number of ladies who I was really looking forward to meeting and who lived up to my highest hopes just through the strength of their delightful personalities which were everything I was looking forward to, even though they were rather distracted at times for the most understandable of reasons,
  • a number of people - not all at Nimbus! - who I was really looking forward to meeting for the first time and who turned out to be charming and tremendous company,
  • a suiteful of folk with whom it was really fun to share a room and share resting time,
  • a staffful and a boardful of officials who did a phenomenal job (many of whom are incredibly sweet) and with whom it is an honour to have been associated,
  • a New Yorkful of extremely fun folk, all far more hip than I could ever be, with whom it was a pleasure to spend an afternoon bathing in reflected coolness and general niftitude...
  • scads of people who I had very little or no concept of in advance but whom it was a tremendous pleasure to meet.
I think that covers everyone, some people more than once. Hopefully you all recognise yourselves. I'm very sorry that I didn't get to spend nearly as much time with you as I'd like to have done. (There were at least a couple of prominent fan writers who I'd dearly liked to have got to meet, but, alas, they didn't make it themselves.) Next time we'll have to make Nimbus much longer just for increased hanging out opportunities - or maybe that's what t00bage-style events are for?

All of a sudden, the end of the event came on Saturday lunchtime, the days having merged into one another and having rolled through far too quickly. The end of the auction was a tremendous climax, Hobby Ghoddess gwendolyngrace was crying tears of happiness and I was involuntarily driven to the same tears-of-happiness motions during the highly deserved standing o without liquid actually coming out. One trip up to Sanford to return art gallery stands later, only then did the magnitude of the convention's accomplishments fully dawn on me. The best bit was definitely the reflection once it was all over and the senses of longing and nostalgia that were built up so quickly.

This was compounded by a trip to the pool alongside tall_man and queerasjohn. The Swan has the most wonderful pools; one or two laned lap pools, a children's pool and a long, twisting grotto pool, accompanied by about three hot tubs. The grotto itself had a water slide (short, but in posession of a very good fun/distance ratio) and a waterfall. Water flowed over the fall at quite some rate and then fell some way into the pool below. There was some argument over how far the fall was, but I estimate it at about five metres or so. Certainly this was enough that when you lean forward underneath the point of contact, it gives you an extremely effective massage at the intensity level of your choice, falling with a remarkably high force if you know where to stand. As tall_man appropriately put it, it gave you "a real pounding". The pattern was obvious: take a gorgeous beating from the water, go and relax in the hot tub, slide down the slide a couple of times for fun. Repeat ad lib or until you run out of time. With the context of our past achievements, discovering just how much fun the pool could be was the single highlight of the trip.

So, yes, lots of reasons to be wibbly, disconcerted and dissatisfied with my own considerable shortcomings. However, none of them really matter very much in comparison to the extent to which the whole symposium was a tremendously positive experience, enjoyed in ideal company. Fine, fine memories indeed.

[Location: stillnotreallyaneasyInternetCafe, Chris' bedroom in Middlesbrough; time: 1pm British, Thursday 24th. Final edits.]


I've just added pots and pots of Nimbological folk to my Friends list, particularly those who I met for the first time and liked very much indeed. Hello and I hope you don't mind! The usual disclaimer applies that I don't read all the journals on my Friends list all the time (filters, filters, filters!) but I certainly met a lot of people who I would like to get to know rather better. :-)
Current Mood: tired, happy, disbelieving
Current Music: easyInternetCafe background music x2

(53 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:bateleur
Date:July 24th, 2003 06:40 am (UTC)
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I'm a bit ashamed because it was rude, crude and possibly crossing the boundaries of good taste

But also, from a purely reading-it-on-LJ perspective, very funny.

You did say the idea was to be funny ?

[User Picture]
From:irinaauthor
Date:July 24th, 2003 06:51 am (UTC)
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I agree. It's hilarious. I wish I could've been there!
[User Picture]
From:picklepuss
Date:July 24th, 2003 06:43 am (UTC)
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Damn the Avon ladies! I need to go do actual work so I've only gotten through the first section ("The Wibbling"). I post now only to prepare your for numerous comments from me scattered throughout the day at fairly random intervals. I've been waiting for your write up for days now and hate to not give it it's do.

Until I return please accept Boogie Woogie Superman as a token of my appreciation.
[User Picture]
From:heidi8
Date:July 24th, 2003 06:50 am (UTC)
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Chris, I can't speak to the Quest or even the Quidditch, as I didn't make it to that (Jon was sleeping) but I think you're being too hard on yourself about the Squares. I agree that cards would've been better, but I do think that overall the audience quite enjoyed it - and I know from reading the LJs of the squares and the contestents that all of them really did too! This really needs to be a component of HPEF events going forward - it worked well, mho.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:July 24th, 2003 07:09 am (UTC)
(Link)
I agree that cards would've been better, but I do think that overall the audience quite enjoyed it - and I know from reading the LJs of the squares and the contestents that all of them really did too!

From a quick perusal, I picked up on that too. This is pleasing, but it's more important that (a) we entertain the audience at the risk of not catering enough to the contestants and the Squares than that (b) we entertain the contestants and the Squares and not get over to the audience - and the impression that I got at the time was that we just didn't really get over to the audience.

I also think that we're not likely to get a representative sample of views from LiveJournalists at large, particularly the self-selecting minority who would choose to read my LJ in the first place (let alone post on this thread!) but I look forward to the full assessment from the survey forms that came out, High Inquisitor. ;-)

Now it's quite possible for the Squares to be rated relatively poorly and still have been pretty good simply because the overall standard was so damn high, but the numbers and comments which people put on their forms are about the best way to judge how well Squares really went. In the face of such high competition, I'm setting my expectations low.
From:dinahrae
Date:July 24th, 2003 07:04 am (UTC)
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Random list of unhelpful thoughts, sorry 'bout that but my brain is still busy digesting the experience.

a) I've found that sharing misery sometimes helps, so I'll confess that I sat in Highfields presentation, sniffling quietly, because I felt useless and bad for sleeping through the volunteers meet.
b) You have no need to be ashamed. Of course hindsight is always so useful, but the amount of work you put in over the weekend was amazing and everyone had a blast. BTW, I had an idea about those bludgers, but it needs some more thinking.
c) I didn't mind the snoring, it was kinda a comforting regular sound and not nearly as disturbing as the sounds the AC made.
d) ... do we all feel inferior and uncomfortable and only find out so afterwards? No, really, after the initial first day or so I felt really comfortable around you, which is saying a lot since I am a scaredy cat. *hugs*
e) re: d) Direct communication is such an unhelpful tool for social contacts, isn't it? We need neon signs over our heads flashing out what we should in fact say but avoid to. or maybe not, as this way lies embarassment
f) Fandom Squares was fun because it seemed as if most "Squarers" really had a good time - though I might bear eternal scares. How can one person be that scary? And don't worry, she so deserved it. Nobody else dared to do it, and there were many people who were harassed by her over the weekend.

It was great meeting you!
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:July 24th, 2003 01:32 pm (UTC)
(Link)
a) *hugs* I signed up to act as a Chaser for one of the events, missed the volunteers meet and completely forgot about the session I signed up to be a Chaser for. I knew I was planning to go to sets of programming sessions - in the end, I blew them both off due to Squares and Quest prep, but I didn't mean to blow off the one where I was due to act as a Chaser...

I dunno. Sometimes parts of Nimbus seemed over-prepared, as well as parts being underprepared. Very hard to find the right balance, and overprepared is a good sort of fault.

(b) Ideas are definitely solicited!

(c) You certainly got to listen to it very clearly :-(

(d) Wow, I'm surprised, but pleasantly so.

(e) It's awfully hard to know when tact is appropriate and when bluntness is more so. Awfully hard. I don't have the answers here, just sympathy that the problem is a problem.

(f) Wonder if I'd have said the same thing if she had been someone else? I don't suppose anyone else would have got into the same situation in the first place...

Oh well; we live and learn. I hope that we get to see each other soon too. :-)
[User Picture]
From:tall_man
Date:July 24th, 2003 09:18 am (UTC)
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This is the "Relax, man, you did a great job" reply :)

1) Admittedly, I didn't get a lot of the in-jokes about Fandom Squares, but regardless, even as an outsider, it was good for a laugh. Which, let's face it, was the point. And I don't just mean the interaction with the twitty player (which, in itself was hysterical, as you said what a lot of the attendees were thinking -- Gods, that girls was an arse :) ); I had a couple of good, hearty, belly laughs over other stuff -- questions, answers, descriptions of self by the panelists, all sorts of things.

Yeah, the dialog seemed canned. But you know what? You're dealing with a whole bunch of 'net geeks who (likely) don't do much public speaking. [sings]Rea-ding off of a scrip-ted pap-er is harder than you'd think, especially to make it seem natural. All in all, especially considering the constraints in getting fandom people to be the squares, I'd give it a higher grade, at least by a letter. B-.

2) Though I didn't play in the quest (deciding, once looking at the initial sheet, that it looked like a substantial investment of time; time which would be well spent doing other stuff, like discussing various slashy combinations until 3 AM :) ), I didn't hear anyone actively complaining about it. Those people who did it seemed to enjoy themselves. So, really, I'd rate it a couple pegs higher, myself, at least from an outsider's perspective. Say, C?

3) Quidditch was a blast. Period, end of story. Overvalued snitch, hard-to-feel bludgers, and restrictive rules (ie, no moving with the quaffle) and all. Yeah, jerseys would have been nice, but you could get the same effect with wider ribbons on the arms than we had (those narrow ones did effectively nothing). Or sashes. Or something.

But, you know what? It was the first time the game's been played. Even Naismith had to refine basketball; look at his original rules! Very little like the modern game. And thus, I can see two-dimensional Quidditch being refined similarly, with the exception that your version probably needs a bit less work. Just the things you mentioned, really -- easier way to notice a bludger hit, snitch tweaking, etc.

But, and I'll emphasize this again, it was a great deal of fun. Sweaty, sore, "damn, they caught the snitch in 3:02," fun. I'd do it again, hands-down.

Though, if we do it again, I'll make an Orlando Osprey jersey, just for grins :) Whether or not the Osprey are a team in the next tourney.

Quidditch rates a B+ in my book. Funfunfun, with a bit of room for improvement.

And I'd say that, yes, this does count towards your "see 50 sports at the top level" thing. Since there's no Quidditch (that we know of) being played at a higher level, what you saw was it. You could well have called it the American Championship, had teams from all over the US (Arizona Phoenix, perhaps, or the New England Broomsticks), rather than "just" Florida.
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:July 24th, 2003 07:21 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for your very kind words. However, I managed to find you a place in a fun room, so you're always going to be a very easy judge to try to convince. :-)

Meeting you was one of the highlights of the trip; your journal does make you like a fundamentally very decent indeed guy, but doesn't show just how super-nice you are and how kind you were to me throughout. deza is a very lucky lady.

Translation: HANDS OFF, FANGIRLS - AS WELL AS BEING SUPER-TALL, SUPER-GOOD-LOOKING AND SUPER-NICE, TYLER IS SUPER-TAKEN. ;-)
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From:dancingrain
Date:July 24th, 2003 10:15 am (UTC)
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One quick comment before I forget is an idea for the bludgers. Why not have it work more like tag? Have *people* be bludgers and either be self-directed members of the team instead of beaters, or have the beaters order neutral bludgers around. I do think the 10-second countdown thing worked well, though, at the times when players noticed or acknowledged that they had been hit by bludgers. In some senses the verisimilitude (ok, well, sorta verisimilitude) of having real black balls hit by bats was cool enough that it hardly mattered if it worked as well as it might have.
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:July 24th, 2003 07:13 pm (UTC)

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Looking back at the discussions, while we thought of solutions like that, I don't think we thought of exactly that solution. The more I think about it, the more I like it. Plus it will give the human bludgers an excuse to dress up all in black, which would inherently look cool.

It's not completely obvious how the logic would work; why would a bludger go for one player rather than another? Yes, this is a flaw with canon Quidditch, but when you know there's a real person making the decisions then it becomes harder to swallow.

There's also the whole issue with the bludger bats to work out. Qualifications for being a bludger would include a willingness to be beaten by a beater. Not insurmountable, though, I feel.

Thank you very much for sharing - excellent idea and one which may well make it (in a different form) in 2005!
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From:debellatrix
Date:July 24th, 2003 10:25 am (UTC)
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Chris - You were a delight in every aspect and your contributions to the event were wonderful. I loved Quidditch and Fandom Squares! I found you to be a penultimate gentleman and know that the "kiss my ass" comment was due to exhaustion and exasperation. However, it was very funny and quite appropriate for the situation; the stuff of which fandom legends are made.
<3 <3 <3
V
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:July 24th, 2003 07:15 pm (UTC)
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Thanks, Victoria! How kind.

The point about behaviour is that behaving well isn't just about being kind when you're all dressed up or on stage - you need to have a good attitude all the time. I know I've got a lot to learn before I can become fully confident here. We all live and learn.
From:songmonk
Date:July 24th, 2003 01:03 pm (UTC)

LOL

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Oh my gosh! The "kiss my ass" comment was you? I would not have guessed!

Sometimes humor-value supersedes rudeness and/or apppropriateness. :-)
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From:picklepuss
Date:July 24th, 2003 01:18 pm (UTC)
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I don't know if this makes you feel better or not, but reading this posts makes me the most bitter about missing Nimbus. I always suspected that had I gone, I would've spent considerable time in the Game Room.

Now I'm sure of it.
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:July 24th, 2003 01:55 pm (UTC)
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Swings and roundabouts, my friend; you did, after all, get to meet hermorrine long before I did. :-)
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From:eibbil_libbie
Date:July 24th, 2003 06:21 pm (UTC)
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One of the "Squares" checking in...

First off, Quidditch rocked my socks. It was a scream to watch and I enjoyed it muchly.

Second, I didn't do anything with Quest, so I can't comment about that.

But I was rather involved in Squares. It remains one of my fondest memories from the whole weekend -- seriously. I will never, ever forget the kiss my ass bit...or her barking like a dog. I soooo agree with what was said above -- it's what fandom legends are made of and I got to see that part of history up close and personal. Right, maybe not as up close as you did, but there you are.

I won't speak for any others, but I know that I was nervous as hell, so the cocktail would have been greatly appreciated ;-) Perhaps two... :D

I think you're being too hard on yourself about it, love. I've had many comment to me that it was a blast and that they had fun. Many others have lamented that they weren't there because they've heard it was so great. And I'm proud to have been a part of it.

I know that you worked your...can't resist...ass off for Nimbus. And I think you did a fabulous job, both before July 17th and during the event itself. Give yourself a hearty pat on the back and a big hug from me. It was utterly fabulous meeting you and I dearly hope to do so again.

Libbie -- Pumpkin Square.
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:July 24th, 2003 07:19 pm (UTC)
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Thanks, Libbie! Much appreciated, but I know that as far as Squares is concerned, I'm more interested in the opinions of Joe Audience Member who has no reason whatsoever to know me. On the other hand, if you and Sweeney can agree on something then perhaps there's more to it after all :-)
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From:alice_and_lain
Date:July 24th, 2003 08:48 pm (UTC)
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Chris, I hardly need to tell you that you're being too hard on yourself as many, many others have already said so.

I very much enjoyed Quidditch, except for the fact that it was hard to tell who was on which team. Colored shirts would make this easier (or, as sundancekid remarked to me, "Shirts vs. Skins!).

I didn't do the Quest, nor did I see Fandom Squares (long story short, I was trying to find some people and I didn't so wah). I, however, have heard that FS was wonderfull fun. So there. Word of mouth rules all.

Hindsight is ever perfect. However, I think the Games went off tremendously. And I think you are a perfectly lovely person. But you already know that.

~Amber
From:(Anonymous)
Date:July 24th, 2003 09:29 pm (UTC)

Clothing

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As I said j_p: Shirts and Skins....attendance would
skyrocket! :-)

Hedwig
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From:smilie117
Date:July 24th, 2003 09:30 pm (UTC)
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*browsing friendsfriends*

Fandom Squares! It was funnily amusing :) as a square - some of the jokes went off quite well, some didn't work so much but we tried - and that's all we could do! :)

But overall we knew as a square what we'd get into - or we sort of knew what we'd get into ^__^ just hoping for a few laughs that did come and some that didn't - but you worked hard on it - and as they say, we just take from it as we will and learn from it ^__^ as you are already forming your ideas :D

Aside from the humorous laughs off of one contestant ;) - it was a blast - even if we were *or I know I was* nervous as heck - the squares I think tried to work off of one another so it's still cool nonetheless... :)

So thanks so much for including this as part of Nimbus - and for letting me take away the memories of being a square in it's first trial run - it was lots of fun - even if you were stressed out about it.
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From:smilie117
Date:July 24th, 2003 09:50 pm (UTC)
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Also having realised I forgot to sign off :"> I'm Sabs, the FA eMentors square *waves and bounces off to sleep*
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From:wikdsushi
Date:July 24th, 2003 09:32 pm (UTC)
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*waves* Heya, it's Sushi, the odd cheerleading woman in the PVC hat who doesn't know Ian Fleming from Tom Clancy. Just wanted to make a few suggestions and comments on Fandom Squares and Quidditch.

I enjoyed Fandom Squares for the most part, although I also knew several of the contestants. I'll definitely agree, the scripted parts have to go. If nothing else, John is funny enough on his own to carry any low moments. I'd also suggest that there need to be more fanfiction-related questions since that's such a huge part of the fandom - have some well-known writers on the panel. I'd also say include someone from a slash-only site (because, frankly, slash is HUGE). I can appreciate Harry/Ginny and Harry/Hermione, but my little corner of things would have appreciated a nice dose of Harry/Snape or Ron/Draco (or Shamu/Giant Squid, but that's a whole different story).

I really like the idea of Quidditch jerseys. Even if you can't get full-fledged jerseys together, felt or broadcloth tabbards would make it easier to spot players (and they'd look nifty as well). If I might make a suggestion, rather than simply numbers or names, why not put the player's position on the back? A Snitch for Seeker, a Quaffle for Chaser, a Bludger for Beater, and a hoop for Keeper would be effective. Wouldn't be too hard to make, either - a spot of felt and some fabric glue, and it's done.

Might I also suggest cheerleaders? *grin* I'd be happy to volunteer. I know it's an American thing, but, hey, cheerleaders!

Had an awesome time, and I'll definitely be there next con. (My husband may come, too, just to help out with security in, like, eight-hour shifts.) Yeah, there were some hitches, but that's what the first time is for. You guys did an amazing job, and I am truly in awe. Thanks so much. =)
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:July 26th, 2003 08:29 am (UTC)
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We certainly were looking at big-name writers at the start, but they weren't necessarily so keen to participate. In the end, the way we decided who would be squares was to take one representative from each of the nine sites who had sponsored the convention.

Aja was there as representative of Armchair Slash. Unfortunately she only got asked one question; her second, third and fourth questions would've been far funnier than most - and, hey, the AU!leather_trousers!PoA was a good enough start. :-) Aja will be one of the very first names down for Nimbus - 2005 Fandom Squares, ceteris paribus - and recognising that there are a lot of ceteris to be paribus.

Quidditch jerseys: very good suggestion. I'm still keen on names, but icons as well is a very smart idea. Cheerleaders are definitely more than welcome.

What a delightfully (presumably deliberately, or I'm going to be eating so much crow...) horrible icon, by the way!
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From:zorac
Date:July 25th, 2003 02:29 am (UTC)
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Methinks you're being a touch hard on yourself here. Certainly, I thoroughly enjoyed both Fandom Squares and Quidditch. A few thoughts on the latter:

Bludgers: The only real problem was that they could be difficult to feal - particularly in the mayhem of the game. The solution to this might be as simple as using a different sort of ball.

Quaffle: The "stand still" rule should definately stay - although perhaps relaxed to a "one step" one - to keep the non-contact nature of the game. The "under-arm only" rule was much more of a problem (as seen by the repeated breakage of said rule) as it makes play far too restrictive by nixing overhead passing (really needed to evade blocking).

Snitch: This is the real issue - mainly due to the 150 points inherited from the books and effectively rendering the work of the rest of the team redundant and reducing victory to little more than pure luck. What's needed is to find som e way to make catching the snitch bot more difficult and more skillful - to the point where for practical considerations the games need to be time limited if the snitch is not caught. I don't have any fully-developed suggestions on how to do this, but perhaps having the snitch only making occasional, brief appearances (which would tally with the books) and dropping the fake snitches. A successful seeker should then have to undertake some secondary test of skill to see if their "catch" was successful.
From:queerasjohn
Date:July 25th, 2003 09:27 am (UTC)
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Random thought on Bludgers -- how about making them HUGE? Like football-sized, which will make it easier for the Beaters to hit them, the targets to feel them, and lend an air of ludicrity which is the entire point of Quidditch.
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From:earthquake1906
Date:August 2nd, 2003 10:28 am (UTC)

one of your new friends belatedly catches up

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for some of the things I worked on, there are very few other attendees who might have been able to do a better job than the one I actually did

You've got THAT right! *claps and squees*

I am very impressed with the thoroughness of your self critique (I wouldn't dare post with such candour about what I did right and wrong at Readercon, the weekend preceding), and glad that people have posted to reassure you about what a great time they had. If you decide to get involved with a Nimbus Quest ever again (and mind you this is not a requirement), I would very much like to help. I have not got much experience, but lots of energy - and I'd be doing it to learn from you, which would be a great privilege.

I can no longer read my entire Friends list on the day (yes, filters are the answer!) but I am looking forward to reading your LJ and getting to know you better and maybe even discussing games sometime in RL.

One of your newest fangirls / earthquake
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:August 2nd, 2003 10:59 am (UTC)

Re: one of your new friends belatedly catches up

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:-) Thanks!

By happy coincidence, I was looking at this thread just now, trying to write up a post-mortem for the con committee. With another week's reflection, Fandom Squares wasn't as bad as I thought. Looking through the Nimbus reports from people who I didn't know at the time - perhaps it didn't crash and burn after all, though it clearly didn't get above "mediocre".

Nimbus Quest: don't know. It could've worked with better preparation. We certainly made some mistakes that I've known better than to make with similar things in the past as well as new mistakes all of our own because we were being ambitious. Games like this are rare; I'm not sure where you're based (afraid that I can't even work out the continent!) but the Bay Area is probably about the best-served one in the world, with the Bay Area Treasure Hunt and the Go Game being about as accessible as they get.

I think I've got a lot to learn from you, too! :-)

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