Sunday, August 26, 2012

Defense Against the Grad Library's Perennial Laptop Theft Problem?

I've decided to give this anti-theft software a try. It's expensive... but from everything I've read on their site and 3rd party testimonials, without being an actual Black Hatter it feels nearly unbeatable.

Undercover saves student's laptop in Ann Arbor, MI (with tweets) · wintrek · Storify

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Worries are More Useless than Wars


Friday, December 11, 2009


After having done my final project for collection development: choosing books of Japanese poetry for a library collection, I'm starting to really miss reading it. Today I made a tanka... it's not bad (can't remember for sure if it's my first). Somehow it's actually easier to be personal and reflective in Japanese than it is in English. Let me what you think.


Saturday, August 22, 2009



I spent a couple hours today looking through my parents' photo albums (which, because we have no such illusions about such things, is nothing more than a few boxes full of unmarked, undated envelopes from the photolabs) and what i found was incredibly shocking.

Unfortunately for me, there probably is no secret past to be uncovered. But the more I looked, the less I recognized and the more I realized the past cannot be true for more than one person. Events that I remember so clearly and vividly were not the events my parents or my brothers remembered. Events they remembered clearly occupied no space in my mind. During my childhood I was almost inseparable from my younger brother but we hardly share a single memory. I know one or the other of my parents or my nurse was present for many of my early memories but those moments passed as nothing that might have created a memory for them.

One set of pictures really opened my eyes: a single day trip through parts of Vermont, the only time I'd ever visited it. I think I must have been thirteen or fourteen. But of that trip i remember nothing aside from a storefront for a marble factory. I never thought much about it but when i looked at those pictures... i realized it wasn't that i hadn't remembered it, it was that it couldn't have been remembered. The entire landscape was covered in incredibly dense fog. There was really nothing to be seen.

Are memories formed by what we see or what we don't see? Is a past a thing that can be shared? Or is a random convergence of two sentient beings' hazy memories with imagined gap-filling enough to say an event actually occurred at all? Philosophy is a bitch.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Supporting Fans Who Happen to be Artists

A comment on the Okazu blog recently reminded me of how conflicted I often feel at cons. I have a friend (used to be a close friend) who is an artist and makes money wholly by selling her clothing at anime cons (currently she has countdowns for 5 on her Facebook...). The problem i've always had in supporting her is that when I proudly wear her pink beanie with panda-ears and drawstring, I am incapable of taking myself seriously and am opening myself up to ridicule by a culture at large that finds "cute" to be morally objectionable/wholly inappropriate in males.

In the past I have tried to support as many artists as there are who make buttons that say "i [heart] yuri" which i can easily put on my messenger bag and have no one be the wiser. Yet, there are many more artists who only make yaoi-inspired art (i have no where i can conveniently put it where my sexuality is not brought into question) or furry art (far worse to possess no matter the gender). i guess in those instances, i will simply not support the artist, but is that favoritism?

The question I know pose is as follows: Is supporting a starving artist (i know too well how it feels) even when their merchandize is wholly impractical/an eyesore, intelligent? If I support a yaoi-artist, despite having no way to display yaoi art (thus a waste of money), am I encouraging them to create more impractical art? I want these kids to earn enough money to get into a good art school and make for themselves... but my contribution is so small that it hardly makes a dent in such a tuition. My friend Jarrod had a novel idea for supporting our mutual hat-making friend, buy joint partnership in her business. In so doing, you can take pride in their work, without needing to necessarily buy impractical art... but, i think at that point you stop being an art connoisseur and start being a business person. I want to be an art connoisseur AND a good friend. Is there are happy medium?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Few Yuri Reviews

Today i convinced myself to start making some reviews of my more obscure books, starting with my yuri manga collection. I wrote them for LibraryThing but then copied them into Amazon and Here are some of the highlights, in no particular order because I am too tired to think (note: Castle of Dreams is not yuri, i don't know why i did that one). Oh and just so you know, the stars are ratings out of five stars.

Gokujo Drops - A light yuri story that centers around dorm life at a prestigious, debutant-esque girl's school. The protagonist is not the main character, who exists as an unassuming common place type girl in a sea of eccentric, aloof rich and beautiful girls. Not bad, but not necessarily one of my top ten favorites. Contains sexual content but i wouldn't call it explicit.

The story: a new transfer student Komari is inducted into the prestigious Ootori all girl's school. She is somewhat awkward but seemingly strong-willed. After a period of stress over where to live, she is offered a place in the most exclusive dorm on campus, provided that she become the personal attendant of a bijin ojousama. Romantic entanglements ensues as this girl sees Komari as more of a sexual slave/toy than a true friend.

Characters: Komari is so typical that it puts you to sleep. I'm not sure if she has will of her own but whatever there is of it is quickly subverted. She obviously has feelings for Yukio (? can't find a pronunciation for her name) but other than that she's content to be bullied or abused as her betters see fit. Yukio is controlling though simultaneously protecting/nurturing soul. She loves Komari but refuses to demonstrate it, preferring instead to use Komari sexually and adorn herself with Komari as the latest fad/a fashionable accessory. Other characters: interesting and somewhat vibrant. They seem to be lacking in development so far, beyond one sordid sexual encounter. Many of the characters are gay or bi, and do not hesitate to come on to Komari.

The art: under-par. Does contain one colored page. Mikuni-sensei chose to adorn his/her characters with large, empty, manhwa like eyes... but their bodies look like they belong in CLAMP. Seriously I can't find anything unique about it, or even that much bad about. It is thoroughly generic.

Overall: 2 1/2 stars

Hayate X Blade 2 (English translation) - The second installment in Hayashiya Shizuru's fun and engrossing not-yuri-but-should-have-been/could-easily-be-taken-to-be-yuri manga. Unlike Sister Red or Strawberry Shake Sweet, HxB is actually very funny.

The story: our heroine is one of a pair of twins from orphanage who enters a private elite girl's school to raise money for the orphanage. The student body at this school are encouraged to fight each with bouken in order to determine.... (okay yeah, i seriously have no idea, fill in the blank). Oh and, did I mention it's pseudo-yuri? Oh the angst. It is a thing of beauty.

Characters: Brilliant, if a little trying at times. The antagonists are a little two-dimensional but Hayashiya-sensei manages to their respective arcs with them all learning something. My favorite character? Nagi. She is 100% absent but still manages to be a character in the story.

Art: a joy to read. There is always the detractor of its size (smaller than standard but still quite readable), and desaturated pages, but those would really only be icing on the cake. I'm just happy it hasn't been dropped yet, an unfortunate conclusion to most Seven Seas purchases. This project was a joint Tor/Seven Seas so we're hopeful it'll be continued for a while.

Translation: I own volumes 3-6 in Japanese and I must say the translation works well in most cases. As it's billed as a comedy there are some culturally specific jokes that Adrienne Beck has done an adequate job of reworking into English and made notes in the appropriate (but thankfully few).

Overall: 4 stars

Castle of Dreams
- Brilliant insightful work, a must have for any fan of Kare Kano (彼氏彼女の事情).

Through a handful of short standalone stories that feature exotic locales and time periods, Tsuda eloquently connects all of human history in a web of suffering. Though her intentions were definitely not Buddhist in nature, most of these stories do focus on struggling to survive (or die trying) and making a name for oneself. Of course, they all share the patented Masami Tsuda shoujo romance (though not all the stories feature women) ethic.

The art is breathtaking; it's obvious to me that Tsuda-sensei really did her homework with on the locale and history that each story takes place in. The characters may be fictional, but the stories are history and folk lore.

My only regret is a lack of color, but that's typical (and sad) for TokyoPop. Trans was good (amazingly), but it's always hard to tell how they've managed to corrupt it if I don't have the original tankoubon in my hand.

Overall: 4 1/2 stars

Maka Maka 2 - Exceptional yuri art. Fantastic characterization. Wonderful slice of life story. No logical reasonable plot or story. Basically the artist is only interested in drawing the emotionally intense moments in a lesbian's life... and lesbian sex scenes. Far more of the latter than the former."

Overall: 2 stars

Clover - A fun read. The characters actually resemble high school girls, unlike other josei manga. No real adult themes but the story is still engrossing. Very much a yuri manga.

The story: a multi-generational story of a sort. The main characters are in high school but the story also includes their older sisters. No serious drama but the pacing is good.

Characters: Fun and believable, though sometimes suffering from the author's imposed Butch/Femme dissonance. Sorry, I don't have a favorite.

Art: One watercolor image, the rest is desaturated. I tend to enjoy the way Otsu-sensei draws faces, but... she has this extremely odd tendency to switch between shoujo and SD to express different emotional states/humorous events.

I was impressed with the binding of this book: not your typical plasticy-construction tankoubon that Yuri Hime uses for its other books.

Overall: 3 1/2 stars

Octave - An engrossing yuri manga. I particularly enjoyed the art and the characater tensions. Does contain adult themes and explicit sexual content.

The story: an ex-idol pop singer has just moved to Tokyo from the country. She distrusts herself and others and is loath to let anyone get too close. Enter the mature girl next door who, in extremely short order, puts the moves on the heroine (if you can call her that). So full of angst.

Characters: maintain a spark of life in an otherwise gray world. I'm not too fond of the male character they have as the love-interest's brother but I guess he's harmless. The "protagonist" and i use the term loosely, Yukino, is about as depressing and angsty as you can get. She basically lives in her memories and develops a complex for her girlfriend, Setsuko. In contrast, the love-interest, Setsuko, is very comfortable in her own skin. She sees the person Yukino is capable of being and wants to draw her out. She is provocative, but doesn't get her own section in this book so it's difficult to see who she really is.

Art: Contains some color pages! At last! Several explicit sex scenes, but they're not necessarily hard on the eyes. I am particularly fond of the cover art.

Overall: 3 1/2 stars

Hanjuku Joshi - First plot-like device: The story involves two sweet high school girls who are best friends and their emotional involvement that leads to sexual partnership (note: this is not necessarily an indicator of an actual lesbian relationship... but it is yuri). Second plot-like device: A third character eventually and inappropriately inserts herself into the story who seems to be bisexual (but it's never confirmed) and who enjoys taking advantage of older women.

Overall: 3 stars

Girl Friends 2 - Volume 2 specific comments: slightly more nudity, with the adult theme of premarital sex

First of all, as evidenced by the lack of any furigana and any content that could or would be misconstrued as adult, I think this book is being mis-marketed as seinen when it should be shounen or shoujo. If for no better reason than because there's no nudity and damnit, it's annoying that i can read everything but the kanji. Props to Youko for correcting me, I had originally thought it was josei, but I geuss everything from Comic High is marketed to men.

Now that that is out of the way, I liked this volume. Unlike other mangaka I can think of , Morinaga Milk has a keen sense of characterization. Mariko ungoes a transformation throughout the story, and this volume in particular highlights that quite nicely. Sadly... Akko's character is barely sketched out in this book (it's until when the audience gets a chapter or two from her perspective that we start to rationalize who she is).

In addition, the art is quite nice and would have been fabulous if they had printed in B4 size and left the colored pages colorized. As it is, they desaturated them, and if I thought that was annoying when seen in Tokyopop or Viz, it's doubly so as seen in a real tankoubon. But still, there are some panels that are attractive enough to be passable.

The story is... probably its biggest drawback. In addition to the almost outlandish use of product advertising (I know for a fact there are a plethora of Real Simple-wannabe mags in Japan where they'd be more appropriate), and the truly sad way in which Mari is incapable of thinking for herself, the pacing is also quite trying. It seems that for every step forward the protagonist makes toward independence and emotional maturity, there are between 2 and 4 steps back in self-esteem. Also, as it's introduced in this book, the audience is incapable of understanding what Akko sees in Mari, besides being a My-Size Barbie. I do like Sugi and Tamami and I think they bring a much needed comic relief to the story, but of course they don't get their own stories.

Overall: 3 1/2 stars

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Matsuri Kohime's Day Out

Hi! I thought It'd be smarter to post some of my Second Life exploits here, rather than start a new blog (I already have too many that aren't being used) So without further ado, I give you a Second Life Travelogue.

So my avatar's name is Matsuri Kohime (袴媛抹狸, which means "the princess who wore hakama" "a touch of evil genius". She's a sweet little thing who loves to play dress up. On occasion she has been known to pole dance, like two nights ago when she won the October Country Anime Costume Contest (the prize was a 1000 ld). Here's a picture from that crazy event -

Yes the bowl of ramen was a avatar costume. And yes, he won for the males.

Here's a pic of my winning costume -

Basically I dressed as Shimazu Yoshino from Maria-sama ga Miteru, holding a bokken. I couldn't find a shinai, but a bokken will do in a pinch. You might wonder why I'm hanging upside? Well, that's because October Country is known for its vampires.

I liked this spot so I thought I'd take a few more pics. Here I am in my vampire garb -

A snapshot I took of myself in the same general vicinity (this one became my newest profile image) -

Aww, I just love kimono. I tried to do an upside hanging kimono shot but I had rather poor results because my yuna was flying all over the place.

As luck would have it, Sweetaholic shop recently made a pair of hakama available (consisting of a chihaya and a hakui) and thanks to my recently won 1000 ld, I jumped for it. I just love miko, and afterall, my name has the words "hakama" in it. Here's a pic of the chihaya worn without any hakui coverings -

Thank you Flanagan's pub for providing me this ultra-cute cherry blossom tree to stand in front of. Now I wasn't 100% sure if the himo can only be worn with the chihaya or the hakui or both... oh well.

It occured to me that I could make for a very ghost-like appearence with this getup, so I journeyed back to October Country and snapped a shot off on the wharf of Innsmouth -

But I wasn't quite ready to thrust myself into the murky abyss just yet. Afterwards I felt icky all over and decided I needed to purify myself of the spirits I had been walking amongst at a shrine. But there are so many shrines in Second Life, I couldn't easily choose. Also, it's tradition to visit a shrine after New Years and since I haven't been to any in RL I thought this might be neat. This is my pilgrimage. Here I am doing water purification at Niseko Jinja in Hokkaido -

This was such a cute shrine, I snapped off a few more shots -

Well this was only an itty-bitty shrine, and I didn't really feel like I'd had the whole experience yet (plus doesn't it just look awfully too cold be traipsing about in hakama here?) so I continued on my journey. Suddenly it occured to me that there was another shrine in Little Kyoto so I hopped on over -
Unfortunately, this one wasn't nearly as exciting. Kind of a weird commerical place. BUT! They did have a four-story pagoda and I just couldn't resist doing what I had wanted to do that last time I was in Japan -

If you can't see it, I'm floating on the upper-most roof. It's quite a drop from the top floor, let me assure you. Let's see... where did I go next? Oh yes, I visited the Amaterasu Grand Shrine and Shinto School. Such a gorgeous place. Here I am doing omairi (you can sort of see my fingertips touching the floor) -

They had a very serene wetland here, so I thought I would stop and bask in my youthful miko beauty -

Oh my goddess, you'll never believe what else I found here. What shinto or temple is complete without an omikuji box? And furthermore, what omikuji box is complete without cute miko?

IRRASSHAIMASEE~ I thought it might be cuter and more appropriate if I wore hakui for this shot. Since this was a miko school there was another smaller shrine adjescent to the main building -

This is a different form of omiari you do standing up. See my dilligent gasshou? In the backgroud you can see another Sakura, well... i'm a sucker for Sakura and I just had to hop the fence and steal a shot. Whoa... how cute it turned out -

Kawaii~ I might have to make this my next profile shot. Oh yeah, and when I was taking this photo I noticed something very peculiar in the next lot over. On closer inspection, it was exactly what I thought it must have been from afar...

A stargate... (or cha'pa iee if you perfer) complete with dialing device. Curioser and curisor... I of course tried to dial out but i forgot the first rule of SG-1: you can never dial a random address and expect to hit a functioning gate.

I really wanted to visit the Neko Jinja again, but I understand it's been recently taken down due to funding issues. It might be back up soon. I do have a couple pics from there though. It's a shrine devoted to channeling cat kami. Here is my friend Vera and I currled up in a wicker basket -

Well that's all for today. I leave you with a pic of the now defunct Lillian campus (sorry you can't see Mariazou in this shot, I'll have to throw one up from the Christmas Mass) and one from inside the Bara no Yakata. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, that's quite all right. Ta Ta.