This blog was gone but now it’s back but only for archival purposes!

Once I have time, I think I will set it up so that visiting the entries auto redirects to their new home, but too lazy right now!

Visit milkymint[dot]net for the new blog!

So, I’ve finally decided to segment my online blogging life and this blog has been more or less split in two!

milkypink.net will continue to exist as a personal blogging space for talking about random things.

miuofstars.net will take over Japan-related subjects, such as dolls, figures, games, manga, and anime. in addition, I’m making an effort to maintain it as a bilingual blog. I’m nowhere near fluent in Japanese, but practice has to happen somehow, right? XD; I’ll probably also post things from my upcoming trip to Japan there, as well. I haven’t yet decided whether I’ll copy over entries from tokyo-shoujo.net yet or not. I may well repost the 2008 trip reports on mos.net with photos included, though XD;

I’ve already copied over the relevant posts from here to there, but I won’t remove them from this blog (although I may link them later, not sure).

Sorry if this split makes things more annoying for anyone – I figure there are people who want to read about specific subject-related stuff and skip all the personal junk XD; everyone is still welcome to follow this blog, I’ll continue to post non-Japan reviews and maintain my 365photo task here so it won’t be completely neglected!

A couple of mini-reviews of the books I’ve read lately:

Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

The 20th book in the Discworld series (and yes, I’m reading them in order – I find they tend to make a little more sense that way), about average Discworld length, possibly a bit longer than that, and focuses on Death (and his granddaughter, Susan). I tend to prefer the books involving Death, so that automatically makes it interesting for me, but I found Hogfather to actually be a bit creepier than most of the Discworld novels I’ve read. I can’t quite pinpoint why (although it might’ve been Teatime). Reading it now gave an additional “Christmas in July” feel so I’m not sure if it would have seemed less strange and/or more appropriate if I’d read it in December XD;

All She Was Worth – Miyuki Miyabe

This book was written by an author I’d never heard of previously, but happened to pick during a particularly ambitious book-buying spree on amazon. (I have two more books by completely new authors still waiting for me.) I don’t quite remember how it got recommended to me, I imagine it was through a (Haruki) Murakami page. ASWW is a fairly straightforward detective novel, in the sense that the protagonist is a detective and spends the entire time trying to unravel What Happened. Naturally there are some additional scenes, giving background on the protagonist and his life, but that’s generally overshadowed by the investigation and the information learned about the subject’s life and personality. I was a little disappointed that there was no shown confrontation at the end, as it felt a bit like things were left hanging. I suppose you can come to the conclusion that everything unfolded just as the detective had discovered it, and I suppose the motive for the actions was clear enough… but I somehow still prefer to hear it straight from the character’s mouth. It wasn’t a bad ending, just not my preferred one. (Also, the fact that there were at least three or four blank pages at the back of the book didn’t help any, but that’s a publishing/printing choice, I believe.)

I should note that I read these two books in quick succession, as I seem to always do. Hogfather at least took a couple nights to work through, but All She Was Worth was read from beginning to end last night XD; That was unintentional, but not unprecedented. I’m wondering whether to wait a bit before starting on In the Miso Soup or Out (I’ve also got Kinki Lullaby and Jingo but I’m saving those, one because KL’s the last Billy Chaka book and Jingo because, well, I just read a Discworld book.)

I always welcome book recommendations and questions about books that I’ve read! Feel free to leave a comment here, or on my 2010 book list page :hee:

As “Umineko no naku koro ni” moves steadily towards the end of its run, I find it harder and harder to explain why I’m completely in love with this series without giving major brain-melting spoilers.

But I’m going to try.
Because I think this is definitely a series that should be given serious consideration.

Point 1:” Sound Novel” as a concept

I feel like it’s difficult to properly convey how completely awesome the idea of reading text on a screen with images and bgm tailored to fit is… because it sounds like such a weird concept if you can’t quite imagine it.

Maybe it’s a bit strange to be reading a book on a computer – I can certainly appreciate that, as I still can’t make the transition from physical novels to ebooks, but I also read tons of stuff online as it is, so I may be more used to this concept than others.

However, Umineko is much more than just words on a screen – say what you want about the art style, but the expressions are usually right on. That style of story-telling, where the key pieces, that is to say, the character’s general appearance, are given to you right away helps make them feel more real from the start. Perhaps my imagination is less strong than others’, but without a visual representation, characters in novels often end up extremely vague, nondescript shapes inside my mind. I may have a grasp on their personality, but I can’t see their face. In some stories, this is more or less the point – they’re just vehicles for conveying something else entirely, but especially in Umineko where it’s important you come to know and like Battler’s relatives, being able to actually see them speeds up this process.

Even though there are some visuals in Umineko, a large chunk of the action is left up to the narrative and the reader’s imagination – a fact that Ryuukishi takes full advantage of. It’s much creepier to fill in the blanks yourself than to see everything clearly (although it might be less disgusting, depending on your individual experience and imagination). That which makes a novel – word choice, tone, spacing, punctuation and so forth – still features prominently in the Sound Novel format. The images do not tell the story, they merely enhance it.

The true genius of this format is undeniably the background music. I don’t doubt that Umineko’s story would still be worth reading without it, but the overall experience is improved tenfold by the amazing tracks composed by dai, zts, and others. For me, who loves music and often listens to it while reading novels anyway, this feels like pure genius – how could someone have not done this before?! (Have they? Please let me know, I’d love to read others!) I find myself repeatedly drawn to them even after I’m done reading, I’ve listened to nothing but Umineko bgm for over a month in the past – which is unusual, because I tend to prefer music I can sing with to instrumentals-only.

Point 2: Genre-mashing

Umineko seems to fall into the category of occult-horror, but yet, there’s also a mystery element, and clearly more romance than is normally allowed in most mysteries, and still, beyond that… something I can’t quite explain.

There’s tons of fan service in Umineko, I won’t deny it. The wardrobe of certain characters definitely can be described as nothing but. At the same time, it’s not nearly as awful as such things can get, and the designs aren’t bad, either.

References to other works pop up from time to time, anything from another popular doujin series (Touhou) to anime to clothing brands to TV shows. There’s even a reference to Ryuukishi’s previous work! XD

If you come into Umineko expecting to be able to wrap up the experience neatly in one genre-box, you will be disappointed.
Umineko is not wholly occult-horror, or even just horror, or mystery, or romance.
Umineko is about something much larger, which fights being quickly categorized.

Point 3: Umineko will change the way you think

Naturally, this is not something I can guarantee.
But I think it’s quite likely.
I can’t outright say how, or why, because that’s something each person should experience for themselves – to have someone else explain it, not only probably won’t work, but will have no impact.

I will say this: Umineko encourages you to become an active participant in the story.
Umineko encourages you to not stop thinking.

Certainly, you can just read it, and float along for the ride, but I would encourage you to do more than this, and I feel that you might actually have a harder time just accepting everything that you are told.

So, are you convinced?

All current Episodes can be purchased from amiami:
Umineko Episodes 1-4
Umineko Episodes 5 & 6

Yes, the novels are in Japanese, but due to the hard work of the Witch Hunt, Episodes 1-5 have been fully translated into English.
The install process does involve changing some settings on your computer, but nothing that should seriously impact your day to day use of it.

If you have any questions about the series, installing the game or the English patch, you can always ask!

Currently watching:

… is it just me, or are series using !s more and more?
the second season of Hayate no Gotoku! was Hayate no Gotoku!!, for example.
Durarara just has two from the start XD

K-ON!!

Why I Started Watching: because I watched the first season, basically XD

Why I’m Still Watching: S2 is a perfect continuation of S1 – everything I loved about K-ON!: the girls, the music, the humor, still combines into one seriously enjoyable experience.

Why You Should Watch It: the K-ON franchise is based on a 4coma, which means that humor is ever-present. the entire series is very light-hearted and it’s rare that any serious conflicts ever arise between characters (ep 11, I think, of S1 had a teeny bit of drama, as well as 13, but hardly anything, esp in the latter case). not only does K-ON! have energetic OP/EDs, but insert songs are a guarantee, since the story focuses on a five-person all-girl light rock band. There haven’t been any new ones shown yet, I think, but we’ve still got 6 episodes to go! there’s a little bit of girl/girl fanservice if you put your yuri-goggles on, but no pairings are set in stone (something the fanbase definitely takes advantage of…)



Durarara!!

Why I Started Watching: People I know were watching it, and I’d heard the series name a few times on forums and the like.

Why I’m Still Watching: Celty is awesome, Celty & Shinra is adorable and hilarious, Shizuo is <3 and Izaya is certifiable but scarily insightful.

Why You Should Watch It: DRRR!! manages its moderately large cast quite well, making an effort to balance out the focus for the main seven or so and giving time for everyone to tell their own story. DRRR!! covers some heavier topics (ep 2 doesn’t lose any time in showing the series’ more serious side) and offers a thoughtful view on human interaction. the cast is large enough that it’s likely you’ll find someone to love, but no one feels like a stock character – everyone could easily be someone you know, or are. the background music is amazing and fits right in with the mood of the story.


Angel Beats!

Why I Started Watching: I’d seen references to the series on blogs, and saw ads for DVD sales in some of the raw DRRR!! streams I watched. I finally gave in.

Why I’m Still Watching: It’s still hard for me to pin down exactly what I love about this series. I definitely connect with it, though, having watched all six episodes twice in succession. It might be in part due to Girls Dead Monster, an all-girl band that exists within the show and has already had FOUR insert songs in six episodes XD;

Why You Should Watch It: AB! is possibly a bit heavier than DRRR!! even though it contains a fair bit of weird (near?) slapstick comedy. AB! is being created in cooperation with Key – the company that made Clannad, Kanon, Air and Little Busters! – so if you like Key’s works, AB! is probably right up your alley. AB! was not a visual novel first, although it definitely has that feel, in my opinion. The OP, for example, is classic Key style. the cast is a bit more stock than DRRR!! but it’s not the most extreme I’ve seen, and it takes it in stride, poking fun at everyone in turn. the humor can be a bit over the top at times (there’s this strange running gag about people getting hit and the ED theme starting to play…) but the verbal tsukkomis are good XD (I especially like the SSS-renaming discussion in ep 1). AB! is still revealing its true form, so I can’t say more than this, but I’m definitely looking forward to the future episodes (especially after the end of ep 7!)

I’ll make a post about the phone itself later, but right now it’s deco time! :D

Nothing was stuck to the phone itself, and instead I used a pink hard cover bought from eBay. If I had used a black or clear cover the difference between the phone and the cover would be less noticeable, but for my purpose I think the pink worked out fine. Just keep that in mind when you’re deco’ing!

I used epoxy glue this time, a kind called Z-Poxy. This stuff smells poisonous (x_x) Well, at least the hardener really did. My #1 recommendation for epoxy gluing is MAKE SURE YOU CAN OPEN WINDOWS (or provide another form of sufficient ventilation). I’m serious, not only will it smell awful, but I’m pretty sure the fumes are not all that great for you to be inhaling. I had to take breaks and completed this deco over the course of a couple days, rather than 6-7 hours straight like my previous phone, where I used the glue provided by Strapya.

My epoxy glue was 30-minute set, so I would mix a small amount of the liquids, cover a small patch of the phone and decorate it. If there was too much glue and it set before I had a chance to stick anything to it, I just put more glue over it and continued. I didn’t find any problems with this process, although I did tend to use a fairly thin layer of glue when applying. Before the glue sets, you can slide things around a little to position them perfectly. I did find that even after the glue set, it was still possible for pieces to be bumped or misaligned, so please be careful in holding your deco surface after applying parts!

My materials were a plastic nut canister top, which I used as a glue mixing surface, some toothpicks for actually mixing the glue and applying to the cover, and some tweezers for moving the deco parts.

After all portions of the cover had been completed and the glue completely set (I waited an hour or two from the final portion, I think) I coated the entire thing with clear nail polish to secure the hold. Even though epoxy glue has a very strong hold, if a tiny piece is subject to external pressure it might fall off – adding a clearcoat bonds it to the surrounding parts, greatly decreasing the chance that anything will be accidentally lost. PLEASE BE AWARE THAT NAIL POLISH IS MUCH LESS VISCOUS THAN EPOXY GLUE! This means that if you’re gluing directly to an electronic’s surface, you need to be really careful about small holes and gaps in the casing as the polish will just drip in and might damage the internal elements. I felt safe doing this with my casing because it was NOT attached to the phone while I was decorating it.

If you have any further questions about this project, feel free to leave me a comment!

And here’s the final result:

Rhodium (Touch Pro 2) deco 001
I tend to like a very cluttered random deco style XD

Rhodium (Touch Pro 2) deco 002
I cover not only the back, but also all sides.

Rhodium (Touch Pro 2) deco 003
This is a bit of fail on my part – I thought I had more tinytiny pieces than just the clear/silver bits (u_u;)

Rhodium (Touch Pro 2) deco 004

Rhodium (Touch Pro 2) deco 005

Rhodium (Touch Pro 2) deco 006

Rhodium (Touch Pro 2) deco 007

Rhodium (Touch Pro 2) deco 008

Rhodium (Touch Pro 2) deco 009

Rhodium (Touch Pro 2) deco 010

Rhodium (Touch Pro 2) deco 011

Rhodium (Touch Pro 2) deco 012

Rhodium (Touch Pro 2) deco 013

Rhodium (Touch Pro 2) deco 014

Okay, I think that’s just about every possible angle XDD

Most, if not all parts (minus the tiny silver ones and the stars) were bought from Mimi Lo Lo on Etsy ♥! She has a great selection and ships pretty fast :D

I stumbled upon CBT’s Closet’s etsy page a long time ago, back when they were taking custom word necklace orders. I filed the link away for later use.

When I came back to it, custom orders had closed down!
But a whole bunch of new creative designs had surfaced.

Well, it’s only sensible to check out the true colors of the acrylic before spending more on a custom design, isn’t it?

And so I ordered two necklaces – the “kawaii bow” in bubblegum pink and the crown in mirror pink.

I ordered on February 20th, it shipped on the 24th and arrived March 3rd.

かわいいbow:
かわいいリボン

かわいいリボン3
(even the holes for hanging the chain are hearts! how cute! ♥)

かわいいリボン4

crown:
crown

crown 2

crown 3
I don’t like mirror pink as much as I thought I would – it has too much blue in it, although it’s very shiny. The crown design and the necklace itself are very nice, however. Incredibly shiny.

and! In my package, I found one more item!

pixel heart ring
a pixel heart ring!
I don’t know what size the ring is, although I’d guess 7/8 based on the fact it fits on my right ring finger pretty perfectly. It’s pretty adorable ♥
I was really surprised! I know smaller crafting stores often throw in free items for larger orders, but a ring for purchasing two necklaces seems like a better ratio than most give. (If it’s to encourage people to order more, then it’s working! I want a pixel heart in a pink shade ♥)

CBT’s Closet has a great selection of designs and colors to choose from, I highly recommend them!

I’m the kind of person who likes their bread always toasted, and my hot dogs basically black.

Essentially, the crispier the better.

I’m also the kind of person who prefers edge brownies to middle brownies – the mushy crumbly center pieces get left in the container for as long as I can stand it. As M said, if there’s a brownie craving, then I’ll give, but if I can avoid it (i.e. push them off onto someone who will appreciate them) then I will.

Enter the All Edges Brownie Pan by Baker’s Edge
all-edges brownie pan
baker's edge

Shaped in a unique way that reminds me of a maze, the pan ensures that every brownie will have at least one edge, if not two or three! Ideally this sounds great! No wasted – or at least required to be passed off to other people – brownies.
However it’s not uncommon for innovative-seeming items to fail in the execution – great idea, not so great product. Would this one match expectations?

After reading the instructions (wash before use with hot soapy water, towel dry), I set about making my first batch of edge-full brownies.

First off, I should mention that the pan is much heavier than I thought it would be. Picking up the box, when I received it, I thought to myself “cast iron?!”
but in reality it’s not quite that heavy.
I suppose the increase in weight is at least partially due to it containing at least 40% more metal than typical baking pans, but I think the overall material is different, and not as lightweight as I’m used to. Hopefully this means higher levels of durability.

Pouring my box mix in (I’m lazy, forgive me!), I found it relatively easy to navigate the winding path without spilling batter all over the place.
all-edges raw brownie mix
When I did get bits on the middle/sides, I simply pushed it down with my spatula. The coating seemed very slick and the batter did not stick much.
I did have to take some time to even out the distribution, since I figured it wouldn’t settle naturally in the oven. (I do this also with regular brownie pans – I had a disaster one time where half came out burnt, the other uncooked (-_-; ))

The instructions warned me that the pan might cook brownies faster than normal pans, so I set my timer for 22 minutes (the box said 24-26).

22 minutes later, my center brownies were still not cooked.
4 more minutes after that, not quite perfect.
An unspecified amount of time sitting in the no longer actively heating oven, and I determined them cooked.
all-edges cooked brownies

What I most had to get used to with this pan was not knowing how to cut the brownies. I’m used to doing two longway cuts and three perpendicular cuts to that, but the center metal makes this more difficult. I cut each section individually, to varying degrees of success. I think further practice will result in more equally sized brownies. (I ended up with some very small and some very large ones.)

Fresh after cooling, the first piece I took was the three-edged brownie from the top left corner.
Three edges! Impossible in normal pans <3
It was quite nice~

Sadly brownies are not quite as good a couple days later, even if reheated. Not bad, mind you, just not the special crispy goodness that my first piece was. I wish there was a better way to preserve it.

For $30, it’s a bit steep for a brownie pan, but if you love edges it might be worth it. (I bought mine with the geek points I’d saved up, so for me it feels like it was “free”, and therefore seems more than worth the price XD)

Today (the 20th) was a shopping day. There’s no denying it.

See, I went to the mall for dinner (mmm Uno’s :9). But there was a 25 minute wait, so I thought I’d go poke around Claire’s for a bit.

It was empty when I arrived, so I leisurely looked around and eventually settled on a crown keychain (for my car keys!)
crown keycharm 2

and a pink x black polkadot cosmetics case because my Liz Lisa one is too small to hold all of my stuff….
polkadot cosmetics case

polkadot vs LL side-by-side
(compared with my rose Liz Lisa cosmetics case)

and all of a sudden the store was full of parents trying to get their two year olds’ ears pierced! (@_@)
so it took me an extra 5-10 minutes just to check out. which led me to grab two sparkly rose hair clips by the register.
roseclips

Thus accomplished, I headed back to Uno’s, slightly worried that they’d already called for me and I was gone (u_u; )
Dinner was buffalo chicken quesedillas (:9!) and some pounded-flat-and-breaded chicken thing with a heavily dressed salad on top (next time I’d get dressing on the side, I <3 balsamic vinaigrette but not when my greens are drowning in it, thanks)

After dinner the mall was still open for another hour, so naturally I didn't want to waste this valuable time~
First was WetSeal. I don't normally buy much in person there, but I did find some awesome accessories - namely a sparklysparkly key necklace,
large key necklace

pretty large jewel hinge bracelet,
pink gem hinge bracelet

and three pairs of stud earrings including one set of pink sakura-like earrings!! so pretty~~ the website image doesn’t do them any justice at all!
pink sakura earrings!
(shinyshiny~ <3)

Still not out of time, I browsed MAC to check out some eyeshadow shades (Pink Venus is <3!), and then walked by bebe and saw...
a black quilted heart purse.
I couldn't pass by. I had to see it.
It was huge! and the last one, apparently. She offered to call another store to see if they had the white but it was white x gold and the black was x silver.
I thought about it. looked in the mirror. checked out the construction (pretty solid!)
and thought about it.
and said....

yes! <3

bebe's... interesting shopping bag
bebe’s shopping bag. keys for size comparison. there is no pornography inside the bag, sorry. (although thinking about it, if you buy sketchy stuff, you tend to hide it in plain bags, anyway…)

inside the bag~

polka dots with hearts!
the polka dot tissue paper was too cute! there were HEARTS! <3 <3 <3

the contents (wrapped in tissue paper)

size comparison w/ keys
it’s a pretty large bag! <3

heart bag on side
this was how it was displayed in the window – it holds its shape very well <3

heart bag handle 1

heart bag inside
inside – there’s two pockets (one for stuff, one for phone) and a zipper pocket.

heart bag zipper pull
zipper pull, might add something to this~

rationally speaking the black won’t get dirty as fast, goes with everything, etc. etc.
I’m still naturally drawn to white bags but realistically I don’t have many nice black ones to use! at least not a large one. I went from having all black stuff to almost none now XD; so I guess it’s a good decision.
and it’s cute!

so after that I went home.

but my shopping wasn’t over yet.
I went to check some things out on wetseal.com, and found some cute belts that are very similar to the white one I bought from Liz Lisa over the summer… and a light pink cardigan… and some light pink rose clips.. and a couple camisoles… and this really cute ivory ruffled jacket.
On the up side, ebates will give me 3% cash back on the purchase, and my credit card gives me 1% on all purchases. Plus I found a code for free shipping :D (I love the internet, srsly <3)

but! not done yet!

I’ve been stalking this lasercut acrylic jewelry shop on etsy for a while and even though I can’t get my custom necklace yet, I bought a couple of the preset designs to try out the quality – the crown (in mirror pink) and kawaii ribbon (in bubblegum pink). I was tempted to get the diamond earrings too, but I thought that was enough for a first purchase.

So finally, I’m done.

Well, as long as I don’t buy almost anything else this month I’m fine… XD

two photos today, since I didn’t post yesterday~

tangles of branches (003 of 365)

the first was taken in the morning yesterday, before I left.

got my head in my hands (004 of 365)

the second was taken this afternoon, when I disassembled Aryanna in an attempt to restring her with her current elastic.
that was a miserable failure, by the way. her strings were so stretched out it wasn’t possible to even push them to reconnect after I’d trimmed them down. so she’s currently in pieces. Well, her torso (minus head) is assembled currently (^ ^; ) somehow that one was okay.

I ordered new elastic from Luts along with other things I’d been meaning to order (the string puller and forceps were out of stock unfortunately! (T_T)), including two alternate pairs of hands, a face mask (so her faceup doesn’t get dirty in storage), silicon wig cap (to keep the wig from sliding and also to prevent [further] staining), and some pretty extras I happened to notice, like a crown headband~ (^ ^) No clothing items – there wasn’t anything I was particularly interested in, and no other dolls. I’m really out of the loop when it comes to other doll companies, so I don’t even know where to start regarding SD-sized clothing. I want to make most stuff myself, but certain things like shoes I’m definitely never going to make myself…. (^ ^;; ) I’m also tempted by a wig I saw at Leekeworld recently, but a) I need to remember what her wig color was first and b) she has three wigs already so technically she doesn’t need any others….

I have more photos from the disassembling that I might post to flickr later, and I’ll certainly take more photos once she’s been restrung properly (she’ll be able to stand~!).

The other event today was the arrival of my ミックミクかがみ Nendoroid. It’s Kagami in Hatsune Miku’s 「ミックミクしてあげる」 outfit, as seen in the Lucky Star OVA. This Kagamin is #62 in the Nendoroid series – I hadn’t realized there were so many now! (@_@) regular Kagamin is 28a, b & c (Comptiq, HP, and Chara)… and I think Tsukasa and Miyuki were just released not too long ago. Of course I’ve preordered Yui & Mio Nendoroids, but I’m getting a little nervous because some sites don’t seem to cut off their preorders even when they aren’t sure they’ll be able to fill all the orders they get. I suppose it’s no loss to them, if they don’t charge until shipping, if there’s not enough stock, the order just gets canceled – but for the customer, what do you do? Have faith the store you’ve chosen will come through? Place two and cancel the slower one? What if it falls through? Resort to ebay? I managed to snag HP ver Kagamin for a reasonable price (considering her popularity and length of time she’s been discontinued) on ebay, and it’s likely Mio & Yui will stay somewhat reasonable right after release, but there’s always a chance the company will end up with an unusually limited quantity, or they will just be SO popular demand greatly exceeds supply. K-ON! is pretty popular (evidenced by it gaining a second season! so excited!), but has Good Smile anticipated this? Well, one way or another those two will be mine. Ritsu and Mugi are a pass, though. (Sorry girls, one of you interrupts my OTP and the other is, well, entertaining but not my favorite.)

Listening to K-ON! music always makes me smile… and also makes me want a guitar again. We’ll see what happens there.
Tomorrow’s going to be fairly busy, I have no idea what my 365 will turn out to be.

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