mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Default)
I should have posted about this earlier. It came up randomly when I was searching for information about Journey of the Sorcerer and I have made almost everyone I know watch it.

mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Elf Boy)
Probably as much by accident as by design, but I was right nonetheless. Back in May I predicted in the Denvention 3 community that a Worldcon in Denver would be "~3,500 warm bodies and ~4,500 memberships, plus or minus about 300 on both those numbers."

The numbers on the Denvention 3 website says, "Total warm bodies not including Kid-in-tow 3,751". Not bad. Even better, 3,697, if I exclude the 'special passes' as I expect the long list people will do. What about total memberships? Adding them all up I get 4,618. So even closer on that number. My prediction could have been wrong if the economy had been better and I cannot remember if I was taking that into account or not when I made the prediction. But I was right in my prediction and since I would have had to eat crow if I'd been wrong I feel quite happy in posting this.

Anyone want to see if I can do it again for the next Worldcon? If so I'll get my spreadsheet updated and read the statistical entrails for your entertainment.

Interesting side note: The size of Denvention makes it only a little larger than ConAdian, the 1994 convention in Winnipeg, which the long list puts at 3,570 and a bit smaller than TorCon with 3,834.
 
mishalak: Mishalak reading a colorful book. (Reading Now)
Or some commentary on a commentary followed up by what I think needs to be done about it.

Mark R. Leeper writes in SF Crowsnest a commentary entitled Worldcons of diminished expectations. He actually makes a good preemptive strike against this being a complaint without merit by writing, "...I do not have the ego to suggest that Worldcons change to match my interests." And he goes on to list reasons why he is not personally thrilled with Worldcon and the reasons they cannot do what he would like to see in many cases.

Read more... )
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (ScandinavianII)
Perhaps it is just because it is not commonly used, but "speculative fiction" sounds clunky to my ear. But right now it is all that we have and I am thinking that our local "science fiction" convention needs to move towards using "speculative fiction" in its promotional literature. Why? Because younger fans, younger even than me, read a lot more fantasy, supernatural thrillers, horror, and the like than they do stuff that would be strictly defined as science fiction. I know the historical reason for this, but in advertising (and shouldn't advertising have a "z" rather than a "s" given how it is pronounced?) the perceptions of the target audience need to be taken into account rather than people who already know and care that fantasy used to be a little appendix to SF.

This is not the only option by any means. For one thing there is so darn much speculative fiction published each year that a rebel group of fans wishing to focus on just space opera could probably put on a pretty good convention. So could just about any named sub-genre from the vampire romances to magical realism.

The only problem with such plans is that it is a heck of a lot more work to start a new small event than it is to keep the old large salad-bar (something for everyone, pick and choose what convention you want to have) going. The thing is that I like the social and party aspects of conventions a lot more than I do the listen to published types talk about publishing aspects of our con. And the fact is that older people are on average less interested in meeting new friends, partying, and less able to stay up late socializing.

I do want to start my own more focused on socializing convention like event (Colorado Geek Holiday), but it is terrible amounts of work and hard to get people interested. Though now that I live in town perhaps I'll be able to have more parties. We'll see how Richie feels about that. Though our apartment is a lot cleaner and fit to be seen by folks. Right. Social group first, convention afterward. Maybe a small event this spring. Off to do more convention-y type stuff.
mishalak: Mishalak with long hair and modified so as to look faded. (Faded Photo)
Way back in April I predicted a win for V for Vendetta or The Prestige. This was my second prediction, the first being based upon the erroneous announcement that Pirates of the Caribbean 2 was on the list rather than Pan's Labyrinth. Today I am very happy to have been wrong and find that Guillermo Del Toro did indeed have the fannish mojo to win the Hugo.

Looking at the full ballot results I see that I was exactly right about A Scanner Darkly being eliminated first after No Award. I'm a bit surprised that Children of Men did as well as it did, but then I did not revisit my predictions with full box office numbers later on. But overall my system of predicting the Hugos seems to be not very good. Near useless really. Which is probably a good thing. It means that fans are not the anti-intellectuals that they are sometimes portrayed to be.

And I honestly think that the best speculative fiction movie did win.

Next year I should come up with a system of prediction based upon other factors if I can think up a good hypothesis and retest this one again to confirm its lack of worth.
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Elf Boy)
The announcement that Pan's Labyrinth was actually nominated for a Hugo changes the situation for my analysis. Having gone through the list of Hugo winners since 1990 and looking at box office receipts in the US vs chances of winning the Hugo against other movies I have a tentative prediction. Previously I though that V for Vendetta would win out of the second Pirates over the Caribbean movie. Possibly that The Prestige might pull a surprise. Without the big Pirate movie my first guess is that V for Vendetta has a 50% chance of winning if I am correct in box office being connected to votes.

In second with an estimated 38% chance of winning is The Prestige. Children of Men and Pan's Labyrinth currently have about equal chances of winning. A Scanner Darkly will pull a huge upset if it wins and indeed I think my hypothesis would be in serious doubt if it is not eliminated first or second.

This is based solely upon the box office business done by these movies. I may revise my prediction if I can find enough voting information from Worldcons since 1990 and find a more direct relationship between percentage of first round votes and box office totals.
mishalak: Mishalak with long hair and modified so as to look faded. (Faded Photo)
I wanted Pan's Labyrinth to win a Hugo. It didn't get nominated though. I suspect this is twofold. First off it is in a foreign language and that is a handicap, though not an insurmountable one as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon showed in 2001 by getting nominated and winning. I think the biggest barrier is that it never caught on and became a phenomenon. The Hugo winner cannot be predicted by which book/movie/show has the most sales, but it really does not hurt.

The reason this isn't the only factor (besides fans not making up the majority of the market in the case of movies) is because of the same thing that keeps comedies from winning Best Picture at the Oscars. Something can be deeply enjoyed but viewed as not serious enough.

Going by this and after reviewing past year results my prediction is that V for Vendetta will win out over The Prestige, unless Pirates of the Caribbean 2 can overcome the "Well I enjoyed that, but it is too light" factor that sunk movies like Spiderman 2, Batman Begins, Men in Black, and so on. I will be very surprised if A Scanner Darkly or Children of Men come close to the top prize.

It is possible that Pan's Labyrinth could be declared eligible for the 2008 Hugos, based upon its very limited release in 2006, but though the provision exists I think it has never been exercised. But I think that unless it suddenly catches on when it goes to DVD that there won't be the 3/4 at the business meeting to carry such a motion. Though if there were the 3/4 to carry such a motion I think that it would be very likely to win a Hugo. It only did 36 million in box office business in the US as of last weekend, since 1980 only three movies that won Best Dramatic or Best Dramatic Long Form have taken in so little. Blade Runner, The Princess Bride, and Serenity. Long odds.

I'd make predictions about the other categories, but I don't know where to get market numbers as easily as I can get box office from IMDB.

Addendum: I don't know what I'll be voting for yet. I've not seen all these movies or read all the books. yet. To the library!
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason with the text, "No, I think I'm happier mocking you than helping." (Mocks You)
When someone says something along the lines of, "I think fantasy is just fine, I just don't think it should be nominated for Hugos," does anyone actually think the person means that he actually thinks fantasy is okay? I mean really. It's as bad as the Seinfeldian, "Not that there is anything wrong with that."
mishalak: Mishalak with long hair and modified so as to look faded. (Faded Photo)
It has been a while since I posted in my own journal asking who would be coming to Denver for Worldcon in 2008. I thought I'd ask again to see how things are coming together (or not) for everyone else and to inform everyone of the shapes my own plans are taking.

Everything Worldcon and Everything Mishalak )

Questions? Comments?
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (ScandinavianII)
So I'm trying to get the DASFA website working a bit better. And better known. I'm currently trying to get it claimed on Technorati, a blog search engine thing. Which I plainly do not understand or else I'm doing something wrong. Or perhaps I'm just impatient.

But in good news I deleted a whole bunch of fake accounts and one that had posted hundreds (thousands?) of link spam comments. I also have an administrator bit so theoretically I can work out other problems for members. Now if we just had a few more active ones, besides myself, posting things there.

I've posted on this subject on the DASFA Yahoo group, but I only got one response from a member. I am unsure if I should start emailing everyone (already registered) to let them know that DASFA is going to have a more active administrator or not. For a while I could not figure out the website and responses from the system got sent to my spam box. I wonder if we have some evil things resident on our server. I'll have to ask our web guru if he can check it out or let another friend of mine who is a lot more technically literate poke around in the system and patch things. (Hi, [livejournal.com profile] heck1701!) If anyone else wishes to review the site and let me know what you think of it and how it can/should be improved I would be forever grateful. (As in I'll plug you here and on the website and give you link love or whatever else! And I won't make bambi eyes at you or whine.)

Back to something resembling work. And I need a spring Icon since it is warm and nice here today.
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Couple)
I like DASFA. For the same reason that I like my friends. I get inarticulatable (is that a word?) pleasure out of being part of it and the bi-monthly parties. The question for me is how do I get other people to fall in love with the club? It is a mysterious thing, falling in love. And I'm glad I don't have to do it again for my boyfriend. But for my third love (after my boyfriend and my best friend) needs other people to love it. Unless DASFA gets new young, fresh, interested members it will slowly fade away. Obviously we need marketing and promotion of some sort. Unfortunately I'm about as clueless about that as why I was so lucky as to have a guy love me until I realized what a gem he is.

I'm going to preface what I speculate on in the following by saying I don't know how to make being a part of DASFA attractive to people of my age or younger. Heck, I not even very good at figuring out what would make [livejournal.com profile] coloradogeeks attractive to people to join it. But I read an article by Jason Stoddard that got me thinking. It is about authors and editors marketing themselves on the internet. But might this not also apply to science fiction clubs? Perhaps what DASFA needs to create "a public persona" for the club. A face and attitude that people outside of the small group that reads Dasfax or shows up to meetings knows about.

From just reading that one article about marketing I can see that there is a great deal of work to be done on my part or other club members. I don't know half of what he's talking about and I'm probably one of the more hep Dasfans. I mean I have this sort of online Per'Zine that a number of people read (and I thank you). But I've barely looked at Myspace after being deeply turned off by some layouts that nearly caused me retinal detachment. And I've barely even heard of Technorati, Digg, or del.icio.us. I feel so... out of date. And while I've read a bit on Boing, Boing or Slashdot years ago, I've never been a regular reader and I don't know much of anything about them either.

And what would I do? Unlike the people the referenced article is aimed at I'm not a producer of truly great content. What, of the things I've done, would even be appropriate as part of a branding of DASFA campaign? Or what could I do that I am not doing now? I'm still using me repeatedly because I don't know of anyone else in the club that might be interested in such a scheme. Well perhaps John a little bit. And Rose might very well encourage me as long as I don't turn my snarkiness against the people I'm seeking to attract during a fit of pique.

And I'm thinking of all of this while I'm terribly ill and possibly not in the best frame of mind since I'm being kept up by a nasty cough.
mishalak: Mishalak reading a colorful book. (Reading Now)
I'm going to post this later on [livejournal.com profile] worldcons once I have the kinks in my wording and my ideas throughly worked out.

[livejournal.com profile] thirdworld has a post where he talks about a common Worldcon Image. Many people there comment that a common logo or image would be a good idea. Though a fair number, including [livejournal.com profile] kevin_standlee, think that many of the regular attendees of the Business Meeting and the seated/perspective Worldcon committees would not stand for it. He points out that the only time Worldcons do things the same way twice is when someone from a previous con returns to the same position elsewhere and that Worldcon committees jealously guard their prerogatives to show off local talent or otherwise do things their way.

Lots of words and a 500x500 image behind cut )

Conclusions: I have not got any yet. This is an idea that should percolate a while on the various fan groups and lists. Find out how many people would be against having an icon in abstract and then how many people object when actual ideas are floated. Maybe suggest to the Denvention committee that this should be considered as an additional item to be voted on in 2008. Just to select something that might be voted on.

Further note: This might not need to be written into the constitution. It just needs to be a standing suggestion much like the validation of Worldcon site selection ballots as they come in rather than all at once right before the counting.
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Distant)
Quoth Fashionista in trendspotting article entitled Brave New Girl, "I doubt Narciso had a Peter Jackson moment while designing his Fall line, but his forcefully graceful collection evokes a warrior princess on the throne. Vera Wang's wondrous strange clothes are weird, challenging, and maybe a Marc '05 rip off, but there's no denying that her girls made a turbulent kind of magic. And what about the Mulleavy sisters metallic and misty poofs for Rodarte?

"Whatever. If they didn't spend their entire adolesence hiding in cafeteria corners reading Sci Fi novels, then I can't quote Clueless (and I can - the entire thing)."

Interesting. And I see a bit of it in the fall lines cited. Beware my SCA and costuming friends, you might become fashionable without intending it.
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason with the text, "No, I think I'm happier mocking you than helping." (Mocks You)
No, no, not the christian sort looking for more people to be saved in Jesus's name by government action, though the impulse is obviously similar. It is that sort of people who have wonderful utterly brilliant ideas that will solve all problems and are so obviously correct that they'll solve all problems if we just trust that it works like they say it will.

Such as the advocates currently trying to convince a few big name fans to support Range Voting. Over on [livejournal.com profile] kevin_standlee's journal he wrote about them their efforts to convince him to change the WSFS Constitution. As usual with such advocates they are single minded in their support for their system they have not bothered to understand anything about how the WSFS works or why they do the things the way they do. Instead they just repeat their 'evidence' that Instant Runoff Voting is flawed and their system isn't. Never mind niggling little problems like cost to implement, the need to convince people who actually go to the Worldcon business meetings to vote for this, and that being a volunteer organization it isn't like there is a huge surplus of labor available to work on this.

If they were actually fans, rather than a sort of political consultant, they would ask to be included in a program item at Worldcon or NASFiC, throw some room parties, or whatever. No, they just want to come in tell the leaders how to fix things, fire off a few email messages, and then sit back and watch everything fall into place for them. Just as with business consultants (and other vermin) they're quite eager to tell other people how to do things but only when they don't have to take any of the risks. All he wants is for everyone to agree he is right and do lots of work to implement his system so he can proudly use that as more 'evidence' that his system is best.

Now here is what is wrong with Range Voting. First off it assume the main problem with voting is not having enough choices rather than voters not knowing what the hell they are voting for or against and how their vote works. Any type of voting only works if the people being polled know what the hell they are talking about, if you poll average people you get answers like "McDonalds is the best restaurant in the city". Just look at the internet movie database's top 250 movies sometime to see this sort of system in action in real life. It certainly is a very interesting mix, but it doesn't seem to be good at grouping movies that are objectively of the same quality, just popularity.

Secondly how is the system going to magically come up with the best candidate for a job or the best book if everyone isn't using the system the same way? When judges at sporting events come up with scores they have criteria for judging things, if everyone was using wildly varying criteria how does it work to come up with the consensus answer of the best? I doubt the Hugos would be any more respected/accepted if Range Voting were used instead. Rather than a new voting system some sort of Hugo nomination and voting forum would be better to build actual consensus and maybe (only maybe) a system that requires more of a majority than 50%+1. And when voting for site selection the criteria for selecting the best bid are wildly divergent.

Most importantly is the lack of simplicity and transparency. The reason that his (and I do mean his, the center seems to consist of "Dr" Smith and a few bottle washers, and I use scare quotes because I mock his credentialism) system seems to reduce strategic voting is that no one understands what their vote will do. Indeed for most people it would be probably wise to reduce it to approval voting by giving the highest possible marks to any acceptable candidate and nothing to any others. And it also becomes impossible to tally the votes in any simple way so the people running the election, who are already understaffed and overworked, will have to invest in various electronic systems. I'm no luddite, but I'm reluctant to support moving to a system without any actual real world evidence that it works that will require a much higher level of technical sophistication and support as long as it is in place.

And it is instructive to also look at what this Smith fellow does to promote his system. He slags Instant Runoff Voting, making it sound like the work of the devil, rather than an improvement over plurality voting. And he blatantly makes up scenarios that have NEVER HAPPENED in real life IRV. Not even in close/hotly contested three way races like the Denver/Chicago/Columbus race of last year, much less actual polical elections. There have been years of use of Instant Runoff Voting in lots of different locals, where is the real world evidence of the problem "Dr" Smith? And when will you answer actual question rather than replying with boilerplate rattling off of your same rhetoric?

In short he should no more be trusted than the know it alls coming around to tell you how to better run your business for a case full of cash and who'll won't suffer one whit if anything goes wrong.
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Distant)
Or, Geek Look Number Two
(The previous installment, Geek Look Number One, was mainly about tee shirts and jeans for men. Most of my advice is for men because I simply don't know that much about women's clothing.)

Office casual. The phrase calls up nebulous images of men in pleated slacks (or trousers if you prefer) with some sort of shirt with a collar, sometimes with and sometimes without a tie. It is totally practical, especially when the outfit is mostly of stain resistant material and worn appropriately for the weather. After all few of us need to do the heavy work that calls for jeans on most days. The trouble is that the look can make the man wearing it look like something of a corporate tool and so is not worn by geeks outside of places of work that require it. With suitable modification, however, it could be a practical and attractive look for a geek out on the town or at a science fiction convention. Pick your jaw up off the floor and let me explain.

Read more... )
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Elf Boy)
Is it usual for there not to be information up about pre-registration by the January before Minicon? I went to the website and there was a note about, "We'll have a link to a registration form up soon, as well as details on rates and cut-off dates and all that fun stuff." Well at least I know it will be on the first weekend of April. Now if I can get a (better) job I could go. Heck I could drive there if I were crazy.
mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Distant)
As I wrote yesterday fashion isn't just designer labels, fashion is also choosing comfort and practicality over the look of the moment. I think that it is very sensible to be choosing comfort as a number one criteria, but far too often that is where it stops. Color and fit should also be part of the criteria for choosing clothes and choosing how to care for them.

I'm starting off the the look that I've already mention, the ubiquitous tee shirt and jeans.

How to pick tee shirts and jeans )

Next time moving on to more professional geek looks.
mishalak: Mishalak with long hair and modified so as to look faded. (Faded Photo)
Well the style section of Denver's Sunday paper was bereft of articles proclaiming fashion trends. There was hardly any free advertising for fellow corporations announcements of new places to shop aside from one for a website run by The Gap's corporate parent. A piece on politeness on Light Rail (and the lack thereof) and a profile on Colorado's next First Lady. Nothing about clothes. So I'll have to make up something about fashion on my own instead.

Fashion has a negative connotation among geeks when it isn't openly derided by the bookish intellectuals and engineers alike. And it really shouldn't be so scorned, particularly if the person happens to be a science fiction or fantasy fan. Fashion is all about visual cues to what kind of person the wearer wants to be perceived as. This does not have to be just be about keeping up with some trust fund baby social set where having the right label on ones clothing means being part of the group or not, it can also be about saying, "Hey I'm an intellectual, an engineer, a reader, or otherwise a really smart person." Faded black tee shirts with scruffy ill fitting blue jeans does not do this.

The so casual that it goes beyond sleeping through dressing to a "I was comatose when these clothes appeared upon my body" look doesn't proclaim the wearer's intellectual prowess because it is also favored by drug addicts, high school drop outs, and the gormless. Because these other people dress in the extremely casual way they do everyone who doesn't want to be associated with them must choose a look and expend a minimal amount of effort on maintaining it. It can still be tee-shirts and blue jeans, they just have to be unfaded tee shirts and clean blue jeans paired up with a neatly trimmed head of hair and/or beard. Then the wearer doesn't just look like any old computer programmer, he looks like a computer programmer with his shit together.

The whole point of this is that filth and shabby clothes don't proclaim a person's liberation from lesser concerns, they're too common. So get ready to pick a look with Mishalak. Why? Because I suspect until New Years I'll need to fill my journal with stuff on this until I have something new to critique from fashion sites sometime after the Yule.
mishalak: Mishalak with long hair in a alpine landscape. (Tundra)
So I've started a community. [livejournal.com profile] coloradogeeks The name should explain what the group is about, generally.

As I put it in the community profile, is is meant to be "a way for geeky people in Colorado to network and socialize. Things are mostly on topic here as long as it has some plausible connection to being a geek, especially geeks in Colorado."

Esp. Good:
•Geeky Event Listings such as conventions, readings, clubs, etc.
•Questions about geeky things in Colorado or advice from the geeks on any topic
•Reviews of retailers (as long as you're not the retailer in question)
•Reports on how a geeky event went.
•Other things geeks might be interested in such as special movies showings, sales, etc.

If you're interested come join. Suggestions on promoting the community without looking like a tit appreciated.
mishalak: Mishalak with long hair in a alpine landscape. (Tundra)
Due to not having anything to do in town on Friday (except laundry and ironing) my weekend started on Saturday when I traveled into town to meeting up with [livejournal.com profile] housespinner. We meet up at Chessman Park and hung out with some of his friends at the nearby Diedrick's Coffeehouse. We talked of nothing in particular, though the subject of Denver and other cities came up. I related my experiences in San Francisco, of course. As it was getting close to time to head off to DASFA I trying to reach [livejournal.com profile] celtane again, I thought he might have fun with this little group or at DASFA, but I learned later he was busy with something. At about 5pm we parted ways because they were headed out to dance at Tracks and I was headed for DASFA.

The MileHiCon convention committee meeting was useful and productive, though it is mostly ideas and speculation since we are 11 months out from the next one. The DASFA meeting was more exciting, if that is the right word. It was time for nominations for officers and there were a lot of people not volunteering. Instead of the Editor job grenade I thought I would be throwing myself on I am going to be the Director of DASFA once again. Scary biscuits. I hope after nearly two years out of it that I shall be able to approach the job with renewed vigor, a bit of perspective, and the knowledge that if come November of next year I'm not happy with it I better quit rather than exploding all over a public stage. It only works to throw yourself on a grenade if won't blow you to bits or thing really will kill everyone else who could step up to doing it. The latter does not apply to DASFA.

I didn't immediately go the party afterward. The impending death of [livejournal.com profile] armoire_man has some of them not feeling super social at times. So six of us went to Perkins instead and then I went with [livejournal.com profile] spudicus to the Dead Dog party. It was crowded in part due to the small nature of the apartment and to having perhaps more people than usual. I did not mind it being crowded one bit, that's how parties should be. And Paul was very good to step up to have the party.

We have a backup guy for the coming year, but I cannot help but wonder out loud if we don't need a better system. People feel shy about having all the DASFAns over. I don't believe that I'm talking out to school to say that not everyone loves everyone else in DASFA. I bet there are people who don't totally like me, especially when I'm in a foul mood. That is not a troll for complements, I'm stating a fact, we're human and we don't get along like faithful angels.

Three possibilities. We go along as we are and it turns out we don't have to change. Possibility two, we should try some different techniques to make hosting a party less of a chore and/or less scary. For example making sure that people who get along will be together at the host's Dead Dog for sure so they can better put up with people who are not at their best or having a crew of people to come help clean so the host won't feel embarrassed to have his/her home seen by the public. Possibility three, we sometimes agree on a restaurant to meet in and make a reservation. For example the Perkins at Colorado Blvd. or Racine's and have that be the Dead Dog, we don't always have to have a house party. Just a place open late enough and tolerant of having us take up a largish section.

Well I had a "Stinger" beer, wheat with honey that I didn't care for. Too... mild in taste for me. I like beers with more barley in them apparently no matter their honey content, but I am happy I bought the six pack to try and share. Dropped Timmy back home and then finally crashed on [livejournal.com profile] friendly_drelb's couch. That was my Electoral Third Saturday.

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mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Default)
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