2017 Addendum

Things I left out of my 2017 goals because I either think they are a stretch too far, or I think they are poor choices for goals:

  • Stream more often, at least once a week: I just never seem to feel up to the task of doing this. I promised myself about mid-year last year that I would do more of this, and I failed horribly at it. So I’m going to try to do it more, but I won’t be heartbroken if I don’t make it.
  • Any specific weight goal: I touched on this earlier, but I think at this point in my life this is just counter-productive. I set goals for it, and then when I don’t meet them, I end up stress eating, which just sets me back further. I think it’s much better to focus on the underlying stuff that will help my health than focus on a weight number.
  • Work towards a St. Louis FGC yearly in 2018: Let’s face it; 2018 is the earliest this could even be a thing. And it will take a minor miracle to build up something new that would be able to support such a thing. More than one person has waved me off from even the idea of trying to do this. But it’s in my mind. 2017 is the year I either help boost the local FGC or make every player in St. Louis mad at me for trying. As with streaming, if this starts coalescing, I am not going to complain and I’m going to dedicate myself to the concept. But if it’s still too far off, I won’t be disappointed in it, because I know it’s possible the local community is not ready for it.
  • Speak at more WordCamps: This is something I would love to do, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to properly devote the time to it amongst the other things. If you want me to speak at your WordCamp, you should contact me, but I am not going to actively seek this out because in the time I have available, this is probably the first thing that’s going to go.
  • Blog more regularly: If I had a dime for every time I thought I should do this, I wouldn’t have to work. :)

I think what goals you don’t explicitly set for yourself are just as important as the ones you do. These things are my “nice-to-haves” for 2017, but the real stuff I want to get to over the next 12 months is detailed in my previous post.

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Brainstorming an StL FGC Event

Ever since I attended Combo Breaker back in May—and quite honestly before that—I have been thinking about what would be necessary to bring a regional fighting game community event to the St. Louis area.

The Midwest has a good number of regional events. So why not something here in St. Louis?

I want to take the things I have learned from paying attention to various events and in the small picture I was able to form from volunteering at Combo Breaker and apply those things to creating a new event here in the St. Louis metro area for the FGC. I figured I’d sit down and compose some of my thoughts about this concept and process while I reach out to other TOs to get their thoughts.

Basic Principles

The event should be:

  • Fun. We should have a realistic understanding of the capacity of the space and metro area and make sure we can serve attendees by providing them with a well-run, on-time, and professionally-managed event.
  • Well-located. We should find a venue that is willing to work with us in crafting a positive, professional, safe, and exciting location, in terms of the available facilities, room accommodations, stream capacity, and walking-or-transit-distance food and entertainment options.
  • Open. As much as possible, we should be open, available, and communicative regarding as many aspects of the event as possible. This should include costs, schedule decisions, and community concerns. We should gather feedback from attendees and report on that feedback after the event is over, then act on that feedback in successive years.

Existing Knowledge

From volunteering and listening to what TOs have said and how other tournaments are operated:

  • We need to set expectations well ahead of time. Things like game rules, scheduling slots, codes of conduct, and player on-time expectations should be written out and communicated repeatedly and as early as possible.
  • Events like this can run on time. By setting those expectations for being on-time, training judges properly, and having overflow time built into the schedule, the event can be created in a way that it should stay on-schedule (or at least as close as possible).
  • We have examples and other TOs to learn from. This doesn’t have to be from scratch. Events like this have been done before and have been done well, and we can learn from and build on that knowledge to create something uniquely St. Louis but still in the image of other established events.
  • It’s not going to be big the first year. People probably don’t want to take a chance on a new event with an unproven staff the first year it’s out. The goal should be to make the event the best possible event and build reputation over time. That’s how you grow.
  • It needs a time of year that stays away from as many major events as possible. Yeah, right. Have you seen the calendar recently? :) But with St. Louis heat/humidity, I’m thinking late March is a pretty good target. It avoids the pre-Evo road of Combo Breaker and CEO. It’s usually not crazy cold, but it’s not summer, either. And it avoids both hockey playoffs and the beginning of baseball season, both of which will affect hotel availability in this city significantly.

Open Questions

It’s really hard to get started with this thing when there are clear holes in knowledge that appear to have been passed from TO to TO through private channels rather than in the open. Because of this, I have questions given that I have not been involved in an event beyond the floor-level. Here they are, and if you can help me with these, please drop me a line and let me know.

  • How do you plan for demand? To reserve space, I have to know how much of it I’ll need. And that contract is going to have to be signed MONTHS ahead of time. How do you find out what that number of people to plan for is?
  • How do you cover costs? All the math I have done on venue fees tells me that they are not going come close to covering the costs that such an event would incur. I want the event to be cash-positive, mostly because I can’t afford to eat any costs we don’t make up. Where does the money come from?
  • How do sponsorships “work?” This is pretty unclear to me. Is there a standard “agreement” floating out there? How do you set rates when you don’t know the size of the event?
  • How much organizational prep is necessary or desired? Do we set up an LLC for the event planning purposes? A bank account? An accountant? Does the event have to pay taxes or report taxes on payouts?
  • What are the actual event planning priorities? I know the things I want out of the event in a perfect world, but it’s not a perfect world. From a logistical standpoint, what do I focus on first?

Again, if you can help me with some of these questions, please let me know as I know that the time available to plan an event for next year is rapidly dwindling and I might already be looking at planning something in 2018 instead. I’m willing to think long-term here. I’m not leaving St. Louis, I’m not leaving the FGC, and after having a great experience of my own at other events, I want to help others have a great experience here.

I’ll update here as the process continues and time allows.

The Last Lemp

St. Louis Magazine:

On October 18, 2012, the Riverfront Times published a story headlined “One of the Last Lemps,” identifying “Andrew Lemp Paulsen” as “the last remaining descendant of Anna Lemp” and describing his tours of the crypt, with “insider history.” Paulsen told the reporter he’d never known that people were so interested in his family’s ghostly history until he was in college and happened to see a magazine that named the Lemp Mansion one of the “top 10 most haunted places in America.” The RFT article included photos of Paulsen and of William Lemp Jr., the latter captioned “Proof that well-defined jawlines and strong schnozes run in the family.”

There was one small problem. According to her obituary in The New York Times, Anne-Marie Konta died on April 16, 1973—11 years before Andrew Paulsen was born.

The story of the Lemp family is a weird one. It’s supremely intertwined with the history of St. Louis, and parallels its own rise and fall over the years.

That someone engaged in what can only be described as a long con to prove himself a Lemp family member is fairly bizarre, but interesting to read about.

Ferguson, Six Days Later

Last Saturday, Darren Wilson, a Ferguson police officer, shot and killed Mike Brown, a teenager. The following days were a tempest of flared emotions, militarized police action, protests, and controversy. Unbelievable images flashed across my television of riot-geared police firing crowd control measures into the streets of Ferguson, making it look and feel like a military occupation.

As I type this, the situation is still unfolding. Further statements have been made. Facts are slowly being revealed and uncovered. More are to come. The picture of what will happen is still forming, but the mood at the protest sites is calmer and the police presence more reserved and less armed.

This was (and is) happening in the metro area I call home. It happened in the suburb of Ferguson, but it could have happened in many other places in St. Louis and in many other places, many other cities. It could have happened in the suburb where I live.

This past week is now a part of the history of St. Louis, for good or ill. It is something we will—hopefully—remember and from which we will learn for the future. With that in mind, I took the opportunity to go to the site and witness it for myself, to record the scene and see the community affected by these things.

I first went to the QuikTrip where most of the protestors were gathered.

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It’s the source of most of what you associate with the event. There were loud protests most of the time I was there, led by a woman with a bullhorn. They alternated between the “hands up; don’t shoot” and refrains of “we’re not scared”.

Most people milled about, talking with each other and with various people who held recording devices as they interviewed others. There were casual conversations and serious statements about the events of the week and wondering what could be done.

There were many signs, many t-shirts with sayings and slogans, some of them written using large marker. The crowd was composed of all ages, old and young. Some of the people there brought their children along and were explaining the situation to them as best they could.

I was thanked for being there. I was asked by a school student taking notes on the situation what I would do to help prevent such things from happening in the future. People asked me if I wanted something to eat or a bottle of water. Everything felt of community. They were engaging. I felt welcome. I was at one point hugged rather forcefully. :) People were distributing and serving food and water in an organized fashion and volunteers were plentiful.

The media had arrayed their satellite vehicles on one end of the QuikTrip parking lot.

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One thing the local media provided me with was a stark contrast to one of the more disturbing images from the previous week. Instead of a sniper perched on top of an armored truck, now we have this on the scene:

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The immediate sign of expression from the people—other than the audible signs of the protesting and the cars honking in support—was the paint and chalk everywhere in the QT parking lot.

Some were signs of support.

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Some were expressions of frustration and a desire to be heard and recognized.

Some were out of loss—of the life that was taken.

There was a desire for peace.

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But there was also the undercurrent that flows under this all—the distrust of the police and anger regarding their actions.

From there, I went to the apartment complex where the shooting had taken place. There were families and volunteers there, making and serving food and offering it to everyone who came by. They’d set up grills, huge buckets of ice with water and other drinks for the children of the neighborhood, and tents. One man sat under a tent with a chess set on the table in front of him.

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If there was a feeling of community at the QuikTrip, it was even more pronounced at the apartments. This was especially marked given that the scene of the shooting was mere yards away.

And the sign that has been so prominent in news images was still there, resting against a tree across from the memorials that had been placed.

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Yup, the FGC Strikes Again

Ultra Street Fighter IV came out this week and I’ve been playing a fair bit. (If you’d like to see an example of how bad I am, feel free to play the below video and skip around a bit.)

I’m subscribed to updates from the only place that hosts fighting game stuff here in the St. Louis area (it seems to be a small crowd). This week, I was informed that they are going to have a tournament for the release of Ultra this upcoming Monday night:

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Now, why would I not want to attend such an event? It has a game I like, competition that I don’t normally get to experience, and could be a fun time. I could learn something about how to play the game.

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Oh, there it is. That’s why I wouldn’t want to attend.

Thanks for reminding me, St. Louis fighting game community. You’re the best.