Category Archives: events

MCM Expo May 2010

This past Saturday found me at the MCM Expo in London, a massive collection of Manga and Anime exhibitors, cosplayers, comic authors, game previews and more. It takes place at the Excel Centre in London’s Docklands, and your first experience of the day is being surrounded by cosplayers on the DLR. I had been to last years show, but even so this in itself is a wonderfully bewildering experience. Perhaps even more fun watching the reactions of the other commuters on the train wondering quite why they are sitting next to a kid with foot-tall spiky hair and a four foot long sword.

Once inside the centre itself, you join the world’s longest queue to change your ticket for an wristband. It is fun being in the queue, seeing all the fantastic and not-so-fantastic costumes going by, but I could have had even more fun if they’d sent me an wristband instead of a ticket and let me go in straight away.

Inside the exhibition hall was a bewildering array of stalls full of everything Manga one could wish for. Being old and weary from my ultra queuing, I headed to the back of the hall for a nice sit down, which happily co-incided with the second half of the industry panel on anime. Very interesting to hear the British industry perspective on the state of the industry and their potential market for anime, which seemed to be a blend of slightly beligered mixed with a pleasing amount of optimism. An interesting question on their take on the Digital Economy bill brought a lot of responses, including the very memorable response on downloading from Manga UK: “People are used to doing it everywhere. today you’ve got people hanging around in costumes outside who won’t pay for a ticket, yet the organisers still have to pay to look out for them in case a fucking 10 foot carrot decides to top themselves”. On a more serious note all of them seemed refreshingly up to date and knowledgeable about how the Internet relates to their world (which from a business point of view hasn’t always been the most up to date always), with one of them pointing out “we have to offer as good a digital service as the pirates to succeed”. this holds so true in most areas of digital business, if it is easy to steal your service, you have to compete by making your legitimate business at least as easy, comprehensive and enticing to use as your pirate competitors (see iTunes for how mainly to do this).

I then moved on to watch an exhibition match by the wrestlers of the FWA, which was a pleasant surprise for me to see, especially as I thought they had gone bust a few years ago. They had, but this was them back together again, and hopefully heading in the right direction.

The important business for me of the day was making the most of both the great stock of the main publishers, and wandering through the comic village where many indie authors and artists sell their own comics. The latter is a great place to discover and browse comics you just might not find otherwise, and I picked up a good few new ones to try. I also picked up several volumes of Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys and Pluto, my favourite mangas at the moment.

Along the way I met up with some friends and had a good time touring round, chatting and enjoying being pointed towards new anime to try.

A good fun day in London all round, may well nip along to the next one in October.

UPDATE: Posts on the expo from other people I met up with there, Tim Maughan and Andrew Proom. Also met socialistgamer and Sheentaku.

Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival: 29th March-5th April 2009

This year’s Oxford Literary Festival lasts a little longer than in previous years, and there are some good speakers to look forward to. My personal highlight will be an appearance by Bad Science‘s Ben Goldacre on Sunday 5th April at the McKenna room. Also appearing of note are Ian McEwan, Aravind Adiga and Raymond Blanc, and many others.

For more information see the Oxford Literary Festival site.

Upcoming Gigs in Oxford

Soon we shall be speaking no more of The Zodiac on the Cowley Road, it shall now be the Carling Academy Oxford. It does look like the new owners are going to get it off to a good start. There are a lot of gigs due there over the next few months, but my personal recommendations are:

  • Ska Cubano – Carling Academy Oxford – 27th September 2007
  • Happy Mondays – Carling Academy Oxford – 5th October 2007
  • Super Furry Animals – Carling Academy Oxford – 26th October 2007

No Truck Festival, just lots of flooding

I was expecting that round about now I would have sorted through a mass of photos from Truck Festival, and would be writing a lengthy piece about my experiences there. However it was not to be. About 4pm on Friday, I received a text from a friend to warn me it had been cancelled. A quick check on the site revealed what was going on; Steveton, and in particular the Truck site, was now under several feet of water due to Ginge Brook bursting its banks. As it now turns out, parts Oxfordshire had two months of rain in the course of an hour on Friday, and this quickly started to take its toll.

I was disappointed, but over the next couple of days it became quickly apparent that this wasn’t just a local problem, the Thames (Isis as we call it round here) and several other rivers throughout Oxfordshire and several other countries has started to overflow. Hundreds of thousands of homes have been flooded, whole towns are without water or electricity, basically it is carnage. It seems we’ve been “lucky” in Oxfordshire compared to Gloucestershire, but we still have many people in Oxford and the surrounding towns and villages who have been flooded and evacuated.

The warnings for Oxford itself starting coming on Sunday, when it became apparent that the Thames was rising rapidly, and that in particular the Botley Road and Abingdon Road were flooded. What annoyed me was that a warning went out for all of Oxford, but it was really hard to figure out using the local information where it was going to affect. The council sites made it clear that residents most at risk were being notified, and sandbags were being issued, but there were no maps, and relatively vague information. Now I know we’re just off the floodplain here (by a few hundred yards), but we’re not obviously uphill, and given how widespread the flooding had been elsewhere, what if the flood maps were wrong by a few hundred yards? I decided to trust them, but I’m sure the emergency and council services must have been inundated with calls from people less trusting than myself, whose minds could have been laid at rest by more information. Something that needs sorting out, I reckon.

Oxjam, Oxford, October 2007

This October sees 31 days of gigs and activities in Oxford to raise money and awareness for Oxfam. Oxjam is a nationwide event, and Oxford seems to being really going for it with Oxjam Oxford. It opens here slightly early on September 29th 2007 when Cyberscribes  play a gig atop the Carfax Tower. Looking at the programme so far, it does appear that there are going to be a lot of gigs, so I’ll keep an eye on it to see if anything particularly takes my fancy.