This it it! The big show. The one I’ve waited all year for. Just took me a week an a half to get around to it. MTAC Odyssey.
MTAC Odyssey, or (swi)MTAC, is the Middle Tennessee Anime Convention’s 10th annual main event. It was held this past weekend, April 30-May 2, at the Sheraton Music City hotel in Nashville, TN. This year’s theme was space
We made a point this year to bring guests back from every past MTAC, and we actually did it (and some). We even scored our first Japanese band – Quaff (Because everybody knows Peelander Z isn’t from Japan. They’re from another planet.)
This was my busiest con ever. All the jogging I’ve been missing out on because of work was more than made up for. I’m seriously positive I lost enough weight over the weekend to make my swimming trunks almost slide off.
My responsibilities took a step up by assuming the role of senior director of public relations. The up side is that I get to be more involved in putting on this event that I love and have a blast doing. The down side is that I have less time to hang out with my friends. Even those who are staff with me, I may not see for hours on end thanks to being consumed with random tasks.
I spent a lot of time in our new Media Suite, a room for press and public relations staff to conduct interviews and work in peace and quiet. It’s probably my favorite addition to the con, which is funny because it’s one most congoers won’t appreciate or even use, nor should they. I got to hear several guest interviews, which was pretty entertaining to hear 10 feet from me while I worked on panels and updated Twitter
Surprisingly, I actually found time to sit on and even run panels and events. I’ve grown to enjoy hosting panels, even more so than attending. Not only does hosting feed my ego, but it forces me to do something other than simply sitting there and being a passive participant.
I almost view How to Run a Con and Anime Clubs 101 as a responsibility in my public/community relations role, particularly not that I have stuff to say after being con staff for a few years and having ran an anime club. The Ramen Eating Contest is kind of an inheritance I wanted to run for a year, although honestly I just like coming up with random secret ingredients (this year was cake).
My true panel joy is my tokusatsu panel, this year titled Tokusatsu Heroes: It’s Henshin Time! People really freaking liked it, even more so than last year. That blew my socks off and helped make the con for me. We hosted a variety of clips, info slides, group discussion, toy showoffs and trivia giveaways. Despite working until the last minute for the panel content, it went off with little problems (save an annoying congoer I’ve since determined to be Kamen Rider Decade, but they happen). Thanks to my fellow panelists/awesome friends Thanatos and Zasalamel for helping out.
Every April, MTAC consumes more and more of my life. I am fortunate in this economy to have gotten a job recently, but getting a job two weeks out from the con, killing over half of my prep time internet access for the day made those two weeks a real pain. A lot of the work I wanted to do – wanted to learn how to do – ended up getting relegated to others.
That weekend was one heck of an odyssey. We had our fair share of problems, with several delays, cancellations and last-minute changes. A lot of this came from new people in charge of departments and sections (myself included), and while they are very capable (myself maybe included), sometimes you don’t know just what you don’t know until the time comes for you to know it (myself definitely included).
And sometimes, some things are really last-minute, spur of the moment issues, like sudden reschedules and cancellations that were otherwise set at the beginning of the con.
And then it rained…
On Saturday, May 1 and Sunday, May 2, Nashville and its surrounding counties were hit with an amount of rain. This lead to the flooding of the Cumberland River in what became the worst disaster to hit the area in decades, if not centuries. Homes and buildings became consumed with water. Roads became rushing rivers. Historic locales became swamps. Over $1.5 billion in damages was done to Music City, and more priceless were the 20+ lives lost.
MTAC was lucky to be based in a hotel on a fairly high hill, so we were safe from flooding (save for a few leaky ceiling tiles). Some were caught on the way to and from the con though. This natural disaster kept many attendees from coming to the con Saturday afternoon and all of Sunday. By Sunday, we began to learn the extent of the situation beyond simple rain. Outdoor events we couldn’t place inside were canceled, but we kept the con going. Eventually though, many people became trapped at the con and unable to go home.
The Sheraton hotel was gracious enough to offer congoers a low room rate (even lower than the con rate) to stay Sunday night, and we kept the Main Events room going until sunrise with videos and karaoke to entertain those who could not leave. Inadvertently, the con known as “3 Days of Anime” became four.
Despite the weather and the scheduling issues, I think this year was a really good year. While it may not have appeared so to the average congoer, the behind-the-scenes went fairly smoothly compared to past years and the staff worked like a good team. We just need to have the public persona better match the inner workings, and I believe we will for MTAC 2011, or…
“Are you upset little friend? Have you been lying awake worrying? Well, don’t worry…I’m here. The flood waters will recede, the famine will end, the sun will shine tomorrow, and I will always be here to take care of you.”
-Charlie Brown to Snoopy
For more info about the flood and how to help, check out these great and informative Nashvillest links.