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Brilliantly Botched Bunny
last modified: Thursday, November 27, 2014 (6:39:07 AM CST)
Ever had one of those moments where, despite warnings that your effort is going to fail, you stubbornly push ahead and it fails anyways? Up until 11pm the night before Thanksgiving, that was me.

So, a little background. I'm working Thanksgiving, just like how, for the past decade or so, I've worked every Thanksgiving. Yes, it blows and yes, you seriously do some soul searching at 4 am asking yourself if it truly was worth going to college for your job, but, eventually, you get used to it. Normally, at places where you're forced to work on a major holiday, your boss or coworkers try to make the best of it and have a holiday dinner anyways.

Normally.

This year, though, until two days prior to Thanksgiving, nothing was planned. At 4 pm on Tuesday, a frantic e-mail goes out pleading for volunteers to bring food for the 100+ individuals scheduled to work the holiday. Pulling my sleeves up and with a can-do attitude that would make Betty Crocker proud, I volunteered myself for mashed potatoes. After all, I was already making some for the dinner that I planned to attend after my shift and thanks to a recent Costco purchase, I have 15 pounds of potatoes at home. Plus, as I reasoned, I found a new recipe that this website and those that used it promises to expedite my holiday preparation. What could possibly go wrong?

Tuesday, 10pm - After working out and making a mad dash to the grocery store to pick up turkey gravy for the potatoes, I head home. I wash, peel and cut a good five pounds of potatos. I put them in plastic bag in the fridge, my prep work already done. I went to bed, happy, that all I would have to do on Wednesday was to add the potatos to the pressure cooker and it would be ready in a few hours.

Wednesday, 9 am - Upon opening the fridge to make lunch for work, I find that the potatoes, due to oxidation, had started to turn grey. Yes, apparently potatoes oxide. Where were the warnings about this fun fact on my recipe that assured me I could prepare potatos days in advance? Not wanting to waste the potatos, I quickly threw together the rest of the ingredients and turned the pressure cooker. The recipe's instructions were to cook, on low, for ten hours. Perfect. Just long enough for me to return from work.

Normally, I find, whenever I try a new recipe, it turns out acceptable and I'm able to tweek it to something I'll really like within another batch or two. I also find shortcuts, such as melting butter in the microwave in lieu of the stove, and employ them. Normally though, everything turns out right and I'm satisfied with the results.

Normally.

I return home at 8pm to find that the potatos are a wreck. Despite following the directions and greasing the pot, the potatoes absorbed the carmelized milk, and are either golden brown or stuck to the pot. My brilliant multitasking had been foiled.

I sighed, looking at the remaining ten pounds of Yukon potatos. At the rate at which I peel, pit and chop, those ten pounds represented another hour and a half of work. And another 30 minutes of cooking time. Exasperated but determined, I quickly set to task and finished. Ten pounds of potatos and almost two and a half hours later, the potatos were successfully cooked and drained. All that was left to do was pull out the mixer and finish them up. Butter and milk added, my mixer and I were in the home stretch. Just a couple more minutes until the potatoes would transform from a simple mash to a light and creamy dish fit to grace the dinner table.

...when, as luck would have it, that's when my mixer died.
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Grammaticas for the Idiot Abroad
last modified: Thursday, February 14, 2013 (11:12:58 AM CST)
I sometimes really wonder what goes through people's minds when they're thinking about traveling abroad, and have no knowledge of the culture, but yet, perhaps after watching a subbed foreign show, think that they do.

I'm the type of person that loves language, but for all the nerdy reasons. Communication with others is great, but what interests me most about any language is that it gives you great insight into its speakers and their opinion of the world and their place in it. I find it interesting how nouns and adjectives are incorporated into verbs that may not necessary have a direct correlation. Sadly, as English is a conglomeration of primarily Germanic and Latin families, that characteristic is not present. However, in the case of languages related to Latin, such as Spanish, it is. For example, the verb 'to hunt' is 'cazar' in Spanish. The verb 'to marry' is 'casar' . Both words are roughly pronounced the same. The association is that the act of marriage is the same as hunting, and many Spanish native speakers will make this association, and often in jest.

Chinese and Japanese have the same aspect, though, but incorporates a new aspect due to its writing system. Those familiar with either language, or who have watched enough anime omake segments, may be familiar with the fact that a good portion of kanji incorporate characters known as 'radicals'. These radicals can give the reader a general idea as to what the kanji means, even if they are unaware of the meaning of the completed character. For example, the word 'fujoshi' consists of three kanji - ? , ? and ?. The latter two simply mean an 'adult woman', but the first character, pronounced 'fu' , in this case, consists of three radicals - ? (sickness), ? (attach) and ? (flesh/meat). So while the common translation for the word 'fujoshi' is 'rotten woman', the kanji infer that it's simply a woman who's been afflicted by a disease of the flesh.

Language nerdiness aside, while working overtime, I spotted a white male passenger coming from Japan who had written two kanji characters on his bags. I could tell by his writing of the characters that he had no knowledge whatsoever about kanji as those familiar with the language do not try to mimic the brushstroke writing style when simply writing with chalk, pens or anything that isn't a brush. The first character on his bags was a poor rendition of the character for water, or ?. But the second character, which had the sickness radical and the radical for the number seven, ?, was not one that I could recall. Granted, I only know about 500 characters off the top of my head, which puts me at about a kindergarten reading level in China, but, I figured I'd ask and maybe learn something new. Concerned that the presence of the sickness radical might mean that there's something dangerous in his bags, I pulled him over.

After pulling the man aside and asked him about the characters. I told him that I knew that the first one meant 'water', but asked him about the second. He told me it meant 'tiger' ( ?, however, he wrote the Chinese version of the character, ? ) and that those two kanji characters are those that he closely associates with himself and refers to himself as the "mizutora".
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Grammaticas for the Idiot Abroad pt 2
last modified: Thursday, February 14, 2013 (11:12:31 AM CST)
(cue eyeroll) Seriously. If you're not familiar with a language, don't pick two random characters and say that these identify you and your essence. It's just stupid, especially when you refer to yourself by the foreign word, but you had to look it up on the internet and never bothered to verify your pronunciation with someone who speaks the language. Also, don't take said characters and go to a tattoo shop to brand yourself with them. Or, if you really have to do that, make sure you go to someone who understands the language and can write it. I can't tell you how many times I've seen passengers with a tattoo that says "Black Pepper" in lieu of "Black Power".

Anyways, I asked the man if he was correct with his writing of the kanji for tiger, and mentioned the sickness radical, and how, by writing it incorrectly, he basically wrote that he's a watery, sick number 7. He got really mad at me, and hurriedly informed me that he just wrote it to be able to identify his bags quickly. I was rather amused by his anger - I just pointed out the obvious. Besides, any language student can tell you that there's no shame in making a mistake like that. But there is when you brand yourself, or your items, with that.

(Apologies for the kanji characters not appearing the blog. You can look them up here if you need the visual - http://www.saiga-jp.com/kanji_dictionary.html )
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Liking that Kind of Thing
last modified: Monday, November 19, 2012 (12:49:23 PM CST)
Those of you who follow my gallery updates regularly know that I enjoy going to anime conventions. And those of you who have ever read some of my comments on these items (You're a brave person to put yourself through that) know that I like, scratch that, really love artwork featuring bishie men.

That being said, I'm not quite sure I got on the right plane for LA's Pacific Media Expo last weekend, because I'm quite certain that I was transported into the 17th century instead. How else can you explain the hypocrisy, involving mostly men, when you tell them that, instead of getting another sketch of a barely clothed female character, you want a hot man instead?

Gasp. A woman is requesting artwork of an adult man. Does she not realize that the world will certainly end if such a request is met?! There must be something wrong for her to forsake humanity over a piece of drawn male flesh!

Throughout this past weekend, I experienced this constantly. When I mentioned that I enjoy artwork featuring men, I would receive condescending looks from male art collectors, usually accompanied by an incredulous "You like *that* ?!" Excuse me? How is requesting that an artist sketch an attractive looking man any different than asking the same artist to draw a scantily clad woman?

Why is there so much negativity over male nudity, especially amongst us art collectors? Are we offended by the concept of powerful, well endowed men? Do we fear women discovering this sexual side of themselves and, collectively, feel that its our place to mock them so these women will conform to more modest standards?

I found an article about this subject on the BBC today (SFW) - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20218094

Looks like I'm not the only one to experience this in the art world.

But my question is this - Considering how homophobic US society is, why is there no backlash when I buy artwork featuring a seductive female? I own lots of artwork featuring female eroge characters, and, despite several of these items being visible for years, I've yet to receive a derogatory comment regarding those. But the second I pull out a yaoi doujinshi, I'm a deviant?

Granted, I understand that not everyone is this closed minded, and I'm quite thankful for those who are able to challenge these prejudices. But I'm absolutely dumbfounded that, in the 21st century, in one of the most modern countries in the world, both men and women can be so damn close minded.
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Adding it to the list
last modified: Wednesday, January 04, 2012 (9:49:31 PM CST)
..Of things I hate about E-bay.

In the past month, I've noticed that E-bay's search logarithm changed. It used to be that if I typed something with the word 'anime', I'd get exactly that - Listings of anime goods with the word 'anime' included somewhere in their listings. This is how things *should* be.

But now, E-bay has decided to lump the word 'anime' with other words that include at least a few letters of this word. Thus, if I look something up like 'anime shirt', the engine registers it as wanting to find shirts with 'animals'. I now am bombarded with shirts full of lions, dolphin, and WWE wrestlers...and a Muppet named Animal.

If you type in 'anime cel', you not only get anything with an animal on it, but anything with the word 'animation'. So, instead of what you might hope will be a quick search of all anime cels, you're inudated with 10,000 animation items, most of which you, nor anyone else, really cares about (Charlie the Tuna cels, anyone?).

What idiot at E-bay came up with this? Were there sellers that said "My glittery dolphin shirt isn't selling! Maybe if E-bay lumps it with the word 'anime', some grandma in North Dakota will mistakingly think that it's the anime shirt her grandson will love."

It seems like I spend more time on E-bay trying to find the thing I'm looking for than actually reading the items, looking at shipping, and picking the right one for me. Perhaps this is E-bay's true intention. They know that by the time I go through 10 pages looking for what I want that I'll just give up and buy the glittery dolphin shirt solely because I'm tired of constantly looking at it when searching for things that I really want.

..I don't know. Is anyone else having this problem with E-bay?
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The Indiginant
last modified: Sunday, August 14, 2011 (11:45:07 PM CST)
Bunny has a big axe to grind, and it's one that's been lying around, rusting for years.

It all started when I was 14 years old and was on a school trip to Washington DC. My class was given a couple of hours to shop in the Pentagon Mall. My fashion sense at the time was the same then as it is now - I love shirts with cartoon characters on them. I went to the Disney Store to see what kind of shirts they had in stock. Having a limited budget and surrounded by $30-something shirts, I had a hard time deciding which shirts I should buy for myself. But instead of asking if I needed any assistance, the employees monitored my every movement as if I were out to steal something.

Granted, there's a higher propensity of thieves who are teenagers. I understand that and I realize that these employees were doing their job.

But a generation later and I'm still a target.

I look very young for my age, and I like to wear comfortable clothes whenever I'm off work. When I'm off, I head out to stores like Walmart and Costco with my mom. In my area, all stores make it mandatory that you have your receipt in your hand on the way out.

My mom can walk out with bags of clothes, videos, DVDs or any other merchandise and no one bothers to check her receipt. She doesn't even need to take her receipt out - they wave her through. I come up with a cart full of empty see-through containers and they not only take the receipt from my hand, but proceed to go through the receipt with me, line by line, asking me where the item is and what I intend to do with it.

I've tried to be patient with these workers. I know that this financial depression causes even the best people to take desperate measures. I had hoped that, maybe after seeing me for a couple of months on a weekly basis, that the same exit people would recognize me, glance at my receipt, and let me pass without a production.

Today marked two months of having my receipt checked by Mr. Costco. While the carts in front of me all make it through with expedited courtesy, mine, however, receives a systematic inspection. But today, though, was a special day for Mr. Costco; he decided to fondle every item in my cart.

You know, just in case I decide to hide an Ipod inside the sealed bananas pack.

I asked the guy, flat out, why he decided to take inventory on my cart when the last five customers were allowed out with just a routine nod. He told me he was just trying to do his job.

....
(The little clock preventing bunny's alter-ego from escaping has just ticked down to 0.)

Not satisfied with this lame answer, I asked Mr. Costco that, if I really wanted to steal something, would I risk a criminal history over six apples and a bunch of bananas? He hesitated, and pauses rummaging through my bag. I told him that I was tired of businesses picking on young looking people and assuming that we're out to steal.

Mr. Costco, now with less bravado, tells me he's just doing his job. He puts down the cucumbers in my bag and hands me the receipt, begrudgingly.

With all the discourtesy I could muster, I told him that what he was doing was profiling, and if I can't do it as a law enforcement officer, then he sure as hell can't do it at his job.

Huff...huff...and with that, I stormed out.
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Playin' Panini
last modified: Friday, March 11, 2011 (1:40:39 AM CST)
I think that a lot of collectors, no matter what they choose to collect, got bit by the bug when they were children. In my school, it was more of an oddity to find someone who didn't collect something. So, while most of the girls in my classes collected stationery of whatever popular Sanrio character du jour was available, I, however, preferred Panini.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Panini, they're a company that would contract with popular properties (usually Disney) and, to tie in with movie or syndicated cartoons, would release a sticker album. The album featured slots for stickers featuring settei-like poses of characters and screenshots from the show. The point of the album was to get you to buy the sticker packs, which, when I was a kiddie, were about 50 cents each. With about 200 stickers per album and the uncanny probability of pulling 25 copies of one sticker (while receiving no copies of the ones you really needed) in a box, it was a time and allowance consuming hobby. My personal theory was that Panini made one copy of sticker #67 and it happened to be in the pack of the truck that jack-knifed somewhere in Alaska. How else could you explain the elusiveness of some of those stickers?!

You'd think that, after years of spending my allowance on these items, that I'd finally realize the futility of it all. And yet, although I no longer buy Panini stuff (Do they even sell them at the grocery stores anymore?), I'm doing the same with backgrounds. It's gotten to the point that I've created lists of the backgrounds I own, organized by anime title and episode. And each time another auction appears with backgrounds from anime that I collect, I cross my fingers that the seller will feature artwork from an episode whose set of backgrounds I'm trying to complete. And although I realize that I will never own all the backgrounds from any episode, each week I feel lured back to Yahoo Japan in the hopes of finding my missing #67.
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Garden of the Moneygrubbers
last modified: Sunday, February 06, 2011 (4:09:50 PM CST)
Content with my last experience at the "New People" museum in San Francisco's Japantown, I decided to attend the "Garden of the Sinners" US premiere on February 6. Although I absolutely loathe the trek to Japantown as it is in an incredibly inconvenient location, the chance to meet and possibly receive sketches from both Ufotable president Hikaru Kondo and Aniplex producer Atsuhiro Iwakami were enough of a pull to make me go. Prior to event, I had not heard about this series. From what I read on Wikipedia about the series, Garden of the Sinners is a psychological thriller, and usually, I don't watch anime from this genre.

I should have known that this event would be less smooth simply by the fact that no one at "New People" could bother to return an e-mail or a call. I asked, twice, if the two guests were planning on holding an autograph session. While I understand that it depends on the guests, I would have appreciated just a simple "I don't know" e-mail. Or, if replying to several different people was too much of a hassle, a small update to the event on the website would have sufficed. Due to available seating in the New People theatre, the event was limited to (roughly) 143 people. Less than 60 people showed up for the event, and all of us were crammed into a small room outside the theatre prior to the event. No attempt by available staff(meaning, one person) to create a line was made. Instead, two groups of people ended up merging together, with some people calling out others for what they viewed as an attempt to 'cut' in line. Prior to the beginning of the movie, Iwakami & Kondo showed up. Both of them seemed displeased, perhaps because the theatre was no where near capacity. Or maybe their accommodations were not up to snuff. Whatever the reason, they were not happy campers. Their translator kept trying to urge the audience to purchase one of ten sets of the "Garden of Sinners" package that they had available by telling everyone of the special booklets and packaging that we would receive for the low, low price of $400 for all seven movies. The majority of the audience was not impressed with the constant reminders.

After watching the first two gruesome, but artistically pretty movies, Kondo and Iwakami held a short panel. Similar to other panels that I had previously attended at anime conventions, the questions were pre-scripted. Towards the end, Kondo became upset, expressing that those in the audience must have already seen the movies, for free, online. I, apparently, was not the only one in the audience who did not like the accusatory tone, and someone in front of me held up his imported Japanese release DVDs as an indicator as to how he knew about the series. Iwakami, though, seemed more reserved and said nothing about the matter.

After attending many artist panels, I've gotten used to the inevitable "I know you *ILLEGALLY* streamed/downloaded this online" tirade. And while, in some cases, it might be justified, in the case of "Garden of the Sinners", I don't think it was. GotS, outside of Japan, doesn't have the following that Bleach, Naruto or One Piece have. A good portion of the attendees were there for the guests, though, by the end of the three movie marathon, most attendees were so put off by the insinuations and Kondo's speech about "one day walking into everyone's home and see the special GotS booklet only available in the $400 package on everyone's coffee table" that they walked out after the event. I'm not sure what VizMedia or Aniplex were planning, but, treating paying guests this poorly does not serve them. There is no reason to insult paying guests by accusing them of piracy and thriftiness. In a perfect world, the ten movie packages would have been scoped up before the event.
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31113
last modified: Wednesday, January 05, 2011 (11:56:55 AM CST)
Ah, yes, time for another gratuitous "I gots lots of hits" entry. But, unlike all the previous examples of these entries, I didn't want to do a 30K post. *Everyone* blogs about 30K. But no one blogs about 31113. And really, that's a much cooler number than, say, 30,000.

Five and a half years later, and coinciding nicely on the Italian holiday of the La Befana, the good witch, my gallery hit that mark.

I realize that I probably should have long hit the 30K point, but, in order to prevent image theft, I organized my gallery under the Japanese name of the anime, 'Sailormoon'. But, as the new RS appears to geared towards increased viewership, the old titles have been replaced by the English version, 'Sailor Moon'. (sigh) I expect to see my scans hawked throughout the internet soon...

It's hard to imagine that I've had a gallery for slightly over five and a half years now. It's also hard to believe that I've been collecting anime artwork for six and a half years. But when I look back at how things were when I first began collecting and how they are now, it makes me appreciate more how things are now. Sure, in 2005, the yen/dollar exchange rate was favorable and there was a far larger supply of high quality cels, but, the community, while larger, was not as cohesive as it is now. When I first joined RS in 2005, several Sailormoon collectors would chat about a current auction, someone would, almost on weekly basis, state that the cel was their wishlist, and expect that everyone else would back-off. What surprised me even more was how reticent the other collectors were to step aside, even though I'm sure they were well aware of the scam the other collector was pulling. Now, though, while there are fewer collectors, the community seems to be more tight-knit. We work together far more than we used to.

But, the community isn't the only thing that's change in my stint here, so has my appreciation of other anime and other art forms. Both of these things I attribute to everyone else who has created and updated their galleries during the past six years. I used to be a strict collector of Sailor Moon cels. It was all I would ever buy. But, in looking back through this year's purchases, I find that Sailor Moon cels only comprised a small portion of those items. Everything else is from anime that I learned to appreciate after seeing all the fine example others have posted on RS. And, I'm sure that, years from now, I'll still be influenced by all the great artwork on this site.

(Eee...I'm becoming a bit of a sappy Rubberslug poster child, right?)

So, pardon the nostalgia post. I promise I won't do it again...or at least until I hit somewhere around the 66K mark. Actually, judging from the witchly nature of my gallery, I'm sure you can already guess what number that will be ^_~
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Gloomy Bunny
last modified: Sunday, September 26, 2010 (3:53:58 PM CST)
Last weekend, I made the trudge to Japantown in San Francisco. Because of its relative inaccesibility(1.5 miles away from the subway & no bus goes anywhere near Japantown), I rarely go there. It's hard to justify the delightful 30 minute walk through some of the more savory parts of San Francisco when the local asian supermarkets carry what you're looking for. But last Saturday, though, Mori Chack, the creator of 'Gloomy Bear', was holding an autograph session to celebrate Gloomy's 10th anniversary. And, wanting to show support, I made the trek to Viz Media's museum, "New People".

If I ever hear an American anime distributor whine about how piracy has hurt their business, I'm going to point to the New People Museum and laugh. Real estate, as many know, is not cheap in San Francisco. Viz's center occupies one complete block of land in the middle of Japantown. On top of that, it's made with all new and 'green' materials, with lots of UV tinted windows to ensure minimal energy consumption. The museum features a small cafe (which serves 'fair trade' coffee), two small artsy stores, a movie theatre and a small gallery for art exhibits. All in all, it was definitely not a cheap place to build.


When I go to conventions featuring Japanese artists, I accept the fact that I'm one of the older people around. And usually, that's the case and I generally form con-bonds with other people in the same boat. But, this time was rather different. Most people waiting in line were my age and most of them were wearing various forms of Lolita dress. And all of them were obsessed with looking like candy.

It turns out that I was amongst four other individuals who were there for Mori Chack. Everyone else was there for the deeply discounted packages that the store was offering on Lolita goods. And, even thirty minutes prior to the signing, I was the only one in line. It made me think about Fanime and how, unless it was LMC, no one showed up for the autograph sessions.

Mori, though, is quite personable and ranks high amongst all the artist I've met at other conventions. In addition to signing an item, he'd allow you to take pictures of him drawing and gave out free stickers. This was a refreshing change from the Anime Expo 2010 debacle. Mori seemed like he was really enjoying himself, despite the small turn out for his event. In fact, that didn't even seem to faze him.

I'll add one of the shikishi(with Mori pics) on my next update.

.....

And as an aside note, I'm rather disappointed with Viz Media's museum. While I understand that Viz is trying to expose Americans to different forms and style of Japanese art, I can't help but wonder why, other than the theatre, no portion of the museum is reserved for anime. You would think that they would have been able to acquire some fascinating artwork for exhibition purposes, but, no...nothing. If Viz wants Americans to learn to appreciate other forms of Japanese art, I think that it would be helpful to get them in the door by enticing them with anime.
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The 'No' Convention
last modified: Monday, July 05, 2010 (5:51:33 PM CST)
If there ever was a convention where people can practice saying the word 'no', it would have been Anime Expo 2010.

No talking to the guests. No touching the guests. No questions. No making lines. No standing here. No standing there. No burping. No hugging. No photos. No sketches. No comparing conventions. No complaining. No vuvuzelas.

And, most importantly, no Pokéwalkers. Seriously. I had an AX handler tell me not to use my Pokéwalker. God forbid people enjoy themselves as they send each other virtual gifts while standing in line.

Usually, I don't make convention posts. I don't think that most people care about my experiences, and I'm sure even more of them don't want to read my obnoxious fangirl comments. I leave those for my long-winded essays on each item I own.

But AX 2010 absolutely sucked. And it sucked because the staff who knew what they were doing had either left or been fired. Which meant that you had a bunch of failures running around, threatening to take people's badges away for doing something so mundane as asking a question.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the hall, a group of 100 fans have just bum-rushed to the front of the line, pushing and shoving to be the first....

Apparently, in the AX world, every fan either wants to assult and/or lick the guests. Every one. I was waiting in one line when one of the AX handlers told me, in an authoritarian voice, that "you can't go forward, ma'am". That would have been fine if I had made the attempt to do so, but I was just standing there, waiting in line.

And this was what it was like during the entire convention.

For me, and, perhaps many others, AX has become less of a convention and more like Walmart. Gone are the days when you could actually *talk* to a guest. Instead, the guests have to cram as many signatures as humanly possible into a 60 minute window. And forget about asking them that burning question you had about the last episode - in some panels, it's only an AX employee that will be doing the talking.

Honestly, I'm saddened by my experience at AX this year. If AX management were smart, they'd listen to the complaints that attendees & sellers had(especially with the increase in moving fees). I'd hope that AX management will take these complaints into consideration, however, the management feels that its size makes it immune to these 'petty' issues.

So, for those of you who attended, let me know your opinion of this debacle. Maybe we can cheer each other over a $4 cup of AX Boba Milk Tea.
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Gimme my toy!
last modified: Sunday, March 14, 2010 (7:44:00 PM CST)
Yes, my name is Bunny and I have an addiction that goes by the name of "Japanese toys". Perhaps some of you also suffer from this affliction. Or perhaps some of you have visited the 'Baka no Fune'(idiot ship) on my desk at work and have noticed that the Sanji & Zoro figurines have bite marks on them.

And I can't stop adding to the menagerie.

So, as with all Pokemon fans, I had been greatly anticipating March 14. It was the day that HeartGold/SoulSilver would be released in the US. Gamestop was offering a special promotion where, if you reserved the game, you would be given a spiffy Pokemon figurine with your purchased.

And, oh, how I desperately wanted one.

I headed down to Gamestop and reserved a copy of each during the first week of March. The sign on the door told me that if I reserved my game that I would get a figurine. And the guy who took my reservation told me that I would get one too.

So, despite that fact that the majority of people in line were but infants when the first Pokemon Gold/Silver was released, I was beaming like a cheshire cat as I entered into the hallowed grounds at 11 this morning.

Until they told us that, if you reserved our games after February that you weren't going to get a figurine.

*eyetwitch*

Now, maybe telling an eight year old kid that there was no Lugia for him will work, but it sure as hell wasn't going to work with me. I want my Lugia figurine! And if there's one thing I've learned living in the US is that, if you complain loud enough and write complaint letters, you can get anything you want!

(Visions of the US anthem play behind patriotic Bunny...)

So, I asked my youthful employee if I would get my toys. And he told me "no". I looked at his name tag - Emmanuel, it was. I told him that I was informed that I would get the figurines if I had reserved the game. He protested and told me that, after the fact, he could not give the toys to everyone who reserved. I smiled and told him that it would be a shame to have to mention that I was falsely promised these figurines to the coporate office.

And, as soon as I said that, a Lugia and Ho-oh figurine magically migrated to my bag!

(ears droop, national anthem hits a few sour notes) Yes, I realize that it's not the workers fault for the store policy. I worked retail before. But there's a way to handle it and a way not to handle it. Saying to an eight year that there was "No Lugia for you!" falls under the latter.


Now, if you'll excuse me, Lugia is about to make a surprise attack on the Baka no Fune(but Zoro & Sanji will be safe, I promise!), and Ho-oh just might not be able to stop it in time....





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The UFO Kaitou
last modified: Friday, November 06, 2009 (1:17:06 AM CST)
I'm sitting in the gate at Narita International, ready to board my flight back home.

I decided to head back to Japan this year after visiting last year. I really enjoy the fall colors, and this year did not disappoint.

I always love to have authentic experiences when traveling abroad - the kind that you're not really expecting to happen, especially if you don't speak the language and there's no way you can blend in with the population. Last year, it was being pushed into the overcrowded train in Tokyo during the commute period. This year, it was being kicked out of the UFO game store.

Yes, I was kicked out. And not because I was a misbehaving bunny.

Most of the Pachinko and UFO/Game stores around here are owned by the Yakuza. It's a great set-up since both are, in one way or another, a form of legalized gambling. The House doesn't want to lose and if it views you as being too skilled, it'll make sure that you leave quickly.

If you've never been to Japan, then, the closest that you might have gotten to the Japanese style Sega version that are located in various movie theatres across the country. The claw that grabs the toys is two pronged. In some games, you need to pick up the toy and then drop it into the chute. In others, you need to push it so it will slide or punch it until it will fall. The set-up depends on the toy, the machine and how badly the House wants to make a profit.

Your best bet when it comes to UFOs is to go for seasonal items, especially if the holiday is about to end. Most places won't discount items once the holiday is over, and if the item doesn't sell, it will simply be destroyed. I happened to be in Japan on Halloween, so, I was able to take advantage of this. Additionally, the older an item is, the better chance you'll have of winning it. "Old" items, ones that everyone else probably has by now, are not highly desirable. That means that you can take advantage of special features of a machine, such as 3 chances to win a toy for 200 yen.

A few days ago, the UFO arcade near the hotel I stayed at in Tokyo began putting up their Christmas toys. One of the machines featured a mechanical set of Disney Christmas plushies. The set, featuring Minnie, Mickey and Stitch, are all dressed up in holiday attire.

The way that the arcade set it up was that the toy was perched flat, balanced inbetween a piece of plastic and a flexible wire. As the toy is soft, the way to win is to use the claw to maneuver the back of the head to the right side. Once the toy is positioned diagonally, you then move the claw to the middle and push the toy through the slot.

Thanks to the machine's set-up, I was able to get 8 turns for a 500 yen coin. I won the Mickey and Minnie dolls the day before fairly easily, and yesterday, I went back to obtain the Stitch one(they were all out when I was there). With 4 500 yen coins, I managed to win four more of these dolls. At one point, I had quite a crowd around me, watching me as I won the items. It made me feel like that "Game Machine Joe" character from Sailormoon.

Anyways, the employees weren't too happy, especially since each one of the dolls aren't cheap. It got to the point that they refused to put any more of the dolls into the machine. They also removed other items from the machines, in the event that I attempted to win those too.

So, I was kicked out.

In terms of the UFO prizes, I was a little disappointed this time around because I was hoping to win "Japanese" items. What I mean by this is that the majority of toys(upwards of 90%) are American characters. And while I expected an overmerchandising of Disney characters, I wasn't expecting the same of Care Bears or Popples. I also didn't appreciate many of these machines featuring gripping material on slots where the toys are about to fall. I guess they figure that people are really foolish enough to play machines where the odds are strongly stacked against them.

Well
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Matsuri Mess
last modified: Friday, January 16, 2009 (2:19:08 PM CST)
While I was in Hida, Japan, I purchased a small set of Lunar New Year animals dressed as Sarubobos. Sarubobo, or 'baby monkey', is the trinket that many people bring home from Japan and the Takayama region. Since I celebrate the Lunar New Year, I thought I'd put each of the animals into the 12 slotted "memory" frames, and hang it on my wall.

But I wanted something to go with it. The animals were cute, but, a small animal trinket in a big frame...well, it needed some ornaments to accompany it.

So, enter the Hina Matsuri mess.

Hina Matsuri, or Girls' Day, is celebrated in Japan on March 3. Most Japanese couples who have a daughter will purchase a Hina Matsuri set for their child. While the size of the pieces and the number of dolls featured in a Hina Matsuri set will vary(I've seen some that consist of 5 while the large ones have 15), they all feature accessories.

I thought that pairing the Hina accessories with the animals would be rather cute. After not finding much on US auction sites, I headed to YJ to purchase some Hina accessories.

Hina Matsuri sets can be expensive, and elaborate dolls generate elaborate fees. The large Hina Matsuri sets, depending on the quality, can easily reach into the thousands of dollars. Even the items that accompany the set can be rather pricey.

So I found an auction starting at 1000 yen, with poor, grainy pictures and the following description:

"This item was found as leftover stock in an now closed shop. All but the diamond cakes are included. Please refrain from bidding if you are expecting this item to be in a perfect state"

I wondered if the "Car driven by the little old lady..." adage applied in Japan. I figured, for the price, that these accessories must be the smaller ones made for smaller sized sets. And for 1000 yen and with 14 pieces, my little animals would be happily hanging on my wall with cute, small Japanese trinkets.

Or so I thought.

Today, the accessories arrived in a big box. Hoping that the item was just packaged really well, I opened it up to see that what I purchased were the larger accessories. Sadly though, they're a tad too large for the animals. But the detail on these items is absolutely incredible - the doors on the drawers all move, the lacquer and gold leaf inlaid work is absolutely breathtaking.

So, I'm off to take pictures of these items, and perhaps pair them with some acquired artwork...
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16 Minutes on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line Part 2
last modified: Monday, November 24, 2008 (3:14:58 AM CST)
About 10 minutes later, a woman came up to me who spoke English and asked me if I needed help finding the Toei Studio. It seems that Mr. Policeman had been asking passerbys if they spoke English and could help me out.

Police in Japan are so cool!!

The woman told me that it would be a little further on the road, and then I would turn right. She didn't know the street name(names for streets are generally not posted at intersections in Japan, but a few hundred feet before the intersection). Honestly, it wasn't much help, but I figured, if I head right, eventually I'll find it.

And I did.

The Toei Animation Studio is a huge complex, with a TV studio on its left and a voice training academy across the street. Yes, there actually is a school where you can learn to speak in those ubber high pitched 'kawaii' voices. As I walked down the street, I saw a huge sign with Puss N' Boots and "Toei Animation" underneath. I headed to the opening, signed my name on a guest pass(the security guard didn't talk to me as he figured I wouldn't understand) and in I went. Admission to the museum is free, and, judging from the guest book, no one had visted for three days.

The museum portion is on the first floor(the sign tells you that you can only go to the first floor). It's a small room in the back and is connected to a few other rooms. The museum rotates its collection four times a year, and it was currently showing artwork from two anime that Toei had released several versions of - "Himitsu no Akko-chan"(Akkochan's secret) and "Mohretsu Atarou".

When you head in the small room, there's a sign in sheet for your name and address, some film reel bookmarks and a packet of information concerning their recent exhibit that consists of copied settei. I took many pictures of this room, and all of them can be seen(with captions) by following the link at the end of the entry.

In the next room on the right were lots of glass cases with resin models of popular Toei characters. However, because of the issues Toei has recently had with Naoko Takeuchi(Sailormoon), all the toys that Toei owns were piled in a corner, facing a window with full light exposure. The collector in me cringed when I witnessed the damage the sun had done by warping and bleaching the colors off these items.

But beyond this, lie the real treasure - Discarded cel production machines.

What an honor it was to see machines that probably were used in the making of my favorite anime. The room looked like it had not been used much, and no one said anything about being in there. The lighting was poor to non-existant, so my pictures aren't too terrific.

In the corner, there was a large cut of cels from Dr. Slump that you could play with. You could put them on the machine and make your own sequence. I was tempted to take home one of the cels because I did not want to see it preserved in such a fashion.

As I left the museum, it had slipped my mind that they had given me an ID badge to wear while at the museum. As I was buying a drink across the street, the guard came up to me and yanked it off my chest. I guess simply pointing to the badge was too difficult, and really, I apologize for being so absent minded.

So remember, everyone, if you visit this studio, give back your ID badge.

You can find my Toei pictures here: http://cutiebunny.rubberslug.com/gallery/album.aspx?id=513
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16 Minutes on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line Part 1
last modified: Monday, November 24, 2008 (2:51:01 AM CST)
And with those directions, I headed off in search of the Toei Animation Museum.

What I later found out was that '16 minutes on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line' is about the equivalent of telling someone that the place they're looking for is in Oakland, California or Queens, New York City. In other words, not a heck of a lot of help.

But, as I ventured out for the Toei Animation Museum on October 21, I was full of high spirits. It was a free day on the tour, and I planned to make the most of it. I would head to the museum, then to Harajuku to see the Meiji shrine, then off to Nakano, where I would spend like a madman on dollar cels at Mandarake.

But, as any wise traveller can tell you, things never go as planned.

Thanks to a helpful tour aide, I had pinpointed my exact stop for the studio as being the "Oizumi Gakuen" station. At the Seibu line station in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, I noticed that the route had several trains - Express, Rapid, Semi-rapid and Local. As my Japanese is quite poor, there was no way I would be able to read the sign and figure out what station each train would stop at. But a helpful train conductor pointed to his Rapid train as stopping at the Oizumi Gakuen station. So, on the train I went.

When I arrived at the Oizumi Gakuen station, I asked the employee where the Toei Studio was. He didn't know. But instead, he gave me a little map of the area and a 'Good luck Gaijin' smile. The map, of course, was written in kanjii.

I headed to the main street near the station, Oizumi Gakuen-dori. 'Dori', as I had quickly learned, meant 'street'. Fortunately, the signs are written in English characters and in Japanese. So, memorizing the characters for Oizumi Gakuen, the map showed that I would follow this street until I reached an intersection. So, I walked.

And walked...

After fourty five minutes of walking down the street, I started to wonder if this really was a good idea. Then, I noticed a local bus whose mascot was Kimba, the White Lion. Well, certainly a bus with Kimba on must take me to the studio.

So, I stopped the bus with the number 42 on it. But the bus driver told me that he doesn't stop at Toei.

So, I waved another bus with the Kimba mascot, number 18. But the bus driver told me that she doesn't stop at Toei either. Nor does the bus with "Toei Animation Studio" written on it, which makes regular runs from some clandestine location to the studio every 15 minutes or so.

And then I waved another city bus down, but that driver told me the same thing. What I later found out, though, is that the town of Seibu has a baseball team whose mascot is Kimba. So, all public transportation has the Kimba character on it.

So, I walked.

According to the map, I would turn right when I reached an intersection with a 'video store'(so glad I invested in katakana books..) and a police station(koban). As the map looked as if it were an nth copy, I figured it was likely out of date and, if anything, the police station would be the best marker to look for.

But, guess what? The police station had been replaced by the premier 100 yen store in Japan, Daiso. It took about 30 minutes for me to figure that one out.

The nice thing in Japan is that, with so many drink machines around, as long as you have 110 yen in your pocket, you'll never die of thirst. So, with Daiso drink in tow, I turned right at the interestion. This was affirmed by the Toei Animation bus turning down the same intersection.

Half an hour later, and I run into a police man. I ask Mr. Policeman where the studio is and show him the map. Mr. Policeman goes on at length in Japanese about the location. The two words I pick up in the conversation are 'ima'(which I figured meant straight) and 'migi'(which I knew meant right). So, go straight and turn right..somewhere. Mr. Policeman knew I did not grasp much of what he said, but I thanked him anyways for his help.

So I continued to walk. And about 10 minu
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Blueberry & Margarine sandwiches...
last modified: Wednesday, October 29, 2008 (6:35:44 AM CST)
Guess where I am?

Japan...

Yes, I am currently in Japan, which means that every dream cel will likely be availble on Yahoo Japan while I`m here.

Yes, it has been quite an experience here, especially with food. The Blueberry and Margarine sandwich is no joke..they sell them here and they are quite popular in the convience stores. They also have paired peanut butter with margarine as well.

I`m a real sucker for marketting, and the anime food product tie-ins are no exeption. Today, I found One Piece Snacks, each pack features a spiffy One Piece card. I got the Luffy one, and for a buck o` five(cheap Team America reference), I will be heading back for more. I love getting prizes with my food, and Japan is definetely the place to make that happen.

But I do have one complaint about this place....the ability to seriously underestimate the amount of time it takes to get anywhere. One minute is really 5 minutes, and a trail that apparently is going to take you 1.5 hrs to get down will actually take you 6 hrs.

Speaking of which...there`s the issue of the Toei Animation studio to talk about. But I`ll save that exciting story for later, especially when I format all the pictures. I think I`ve taken around 800 so far.

Well, my time is getting short on the hotel pc and there`s exciting Japanese soap operas calling my name....

Ja ne!
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Ichigo's Worst Nightmare
last modified: Friday, May 23, 2008 (3:06:59 PM CST)
I get a lot of weird phone calls at work to the point that I have serious questions concerning the average American IQ. It seems that, when it comes to immigration issues, people just throw out all logic and operate on a system of idiocy. Whether its complaints from Americans as to why they need a US passport to travel to other countries(I imagine that it's pretty obvious that you're an American when you go around in a Hawaiian shirt and an obnoxious attitude) to whiny girlfriends sobbing about their child porn-loving boyfriend being deported, I've pretty much heard them all.

I'm also accustomed to people giving me false names, especially when they're in the US illegally. Calls from "John Smith" generally evoke snickers from "Officer Pocahontas".

So, last night's call, really, should have come as no surprise for me. But what this person was unaware of is that, I, happen to be an anime fan.

Below is the transcript of my phone call with the Russian-accented man. My thoughts will be in parathesis minus the cute little agency identification intro in the begining.

Caller: Uh, hello. Um, I'm Japanese...
(Mmm...kay.)

Caller: And..and.. my name is Ichigo Kurosaki.

(The stud from BLEACH?!....About to lose professional restraint...must resist...)

Me: Your name is not Ichigo Kurosaki.

Caller: Uh, ...Wha....what...?

Me: That's the name of a character from Bleach.

Caller: But...But my name is too Ichigo!

Me: Nonsense. No Japanese citizen in their right mind would name their son "strawberry". Now, get to the point.
(Although, in America, there have been children called "Apple"....)

Caller: Uh, well...my friend is Mongolian and um, I want to know why he's being sent home.

Me: Sorry, I can't give you any information by law. But when you friend gets back to his country, he can fill you in with all the details.

Caller: Uh, oh, ok. What was your name again?

Me: Uryu Ishida.

(click)

Ok, so, I'm a meanie. But, really, if you're going to falsify your name, give some thought to it. Otherwise, you give me ammunition for a bunch of jokes...and, of course, the rare RS post.
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Do-over week
last modified: Saturday, January 12, 2008 (8:17:01 PM CST)
It seems like the last two weeks, the universe has decided that, since I have a relatively stress-free existence, that it's time I make up for my lack of drama. Part of me feels bad complaining, especially when I open up the newspaper and see people dying and whatnot all over the front page, but..I need to just rant.

My pre-New Year's Resolution was to start cleaning out all the anime stuff I've acquired through college. As I might have said earlier, I used to collect Japanese Sailormoon cards, and, in the process of collecting, managed to acquire lots of extras. The goal this year is to get rid of them. I listed about 170 near mint to mint condition cards of a certain set on E-bay. No questions were asked about the auction by any potential buyer and the price ended for more than I expected.

The next day I get an email from the buyer telling me that the price of the item is too high for him and that, surprise surprise, he will be unable to pay. I wrote him a polite, but stern e-mail informing him that he chose to bid on the item for the amount that he did, and he must hold up his end of the bargain. After 5 days of whining about how he never thought the auction would end so high and how it's Christmastime, he manages to find the money and pays. Then he writes to ask if I have any cards from a certain set. I tell him I do and give him a price. He writes back complain that the price is too high, and then asks if I have cards from another set, but, to let me know what the prices are first because, if they're too high, he won't buy. Annoyed with his rude behavior, I tell him that I will send the item out the next day.

After a week, the buyer writes and tells me that he's received the item. But, he examined all the cards under a magnifying glass and a high powered light and has found tiny scratches in the glossy layer in less than 20% of the cards. This damage is not noticeable unless otherwise viewed in this manner. So he decides to file with Paypal for a full claim because the 20% of cards that have this insignificant damage were the ones he really wanted. He actually writes that I should have known that he wanted these specific cards. Normally, Paypal is pretty quick with these decisions regarding refunds(and generally decides on the part of the buyer), so, perhaps that is good news on my end.

Oh, and then I go for my dentist check-up and I have the makings of a minor cavity. As it was my first cavity ever, I was shocked. There goes my dream of dying without any cavities...sniff, sniff. Then they offer me candy at the end of the procedure. Part of me still can't decide if that's the nicest or most twisted thing ever. I wonder if there are any cardio surgeons that take their patients out to lunch at Burger King afterwards.

...Would now be a good time to use the Office voodoo kit one of my coworkers gave me for Christmas?

And then today...I laughed at a passenger too. A little kid. Who looked exactly like Rock Lee, right down to the spandex green suit, bowl-like hair cut and bushy eyebrows. I'm a horrible person, yes, and I'm going to hell for this. I just know it.

..Ok, well, glad I got most of that off my chest. I wanted to personally thank everyone who sent me something for Christmas. I know it's a little late, but, thanks again. And thanks also to everyone who voted for my artwork during this year's Beta Awards. I really appreciated it. Hope everyone's weekend is going well.

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Confessions of a Crappy Candy Giver
last modified: Tuesday, October 31, 2006 (10:14:47 PM CST)
Now that I'm an adult(well, that's what the ID says, but the jury is still out with a decision), the meaning of Halloween has drastically changed. While I once would don a suit and run around all my neighbor's homes for a piece of 'fun size' candy, now I find myself in the position of handing candy out.

Perhaps it's born out of resentment of only filling up 1 McDonald's "Happy Meal" Halloween Bucket(how many of you remember this?) a year while the rest of my classmates would bring in pillowcases of the chocolate confections, or maybe because my parents decided that, upon turning 12, I had grown out of Halloween...I don't know. But, I've become very protective of my candy and I only give out the "crummy" kind.

Now, I'm not cheap when it comes to this holiday because I know that, if I have any left overs, I'd want to eat good candy and not some dinky lollipop. I buy "Almond Joy", "Three Musketeers" and "Kit-Kat". I pour them in a bowl. I tell myself that I'm going to be a good hostess and equally distribute the candy.

Ha.

What always invariably happens is that I give out what I like least first. If I purchased "Snickers" or "Babe Ruth", those would be the first to go. I don't care if you have peanut allergies - Thou shall not touch my precious Almond Joy! I'll give them a handful of these, especially if I know that I'm going to have very few patrons that night. Then, the second line comes...my "not so favorites, but they're still Ok". I'll hand these out in quantities of two to three. I tell myself that I'm helping the parents out. After all, they're small children and who wants a hyper sugar-fed child running around at 11pm?

...But then, if I run through those...desperation strikes. I look at my favorites. I get queasy. And it feels like I'm comitting an act of treason by handing them out. Those insipid cutiepies in their costumes come and I hand them, one, only one, of my preciouses. I sniff and sob after they leave, marking the departure of another of my most favorite treats. When the bucket reaches to 5 of my sinful snacks, I happily shut off the light and proceed to tear into my candy. I deserve something for my sacrifice.

Yes, I know I'm going to have to explain this one before I enter the "pearly gates". I've already accepted this. I'm going to pull the "But I'm generous to everyone on other holidays" pout-route.

I doubt if St. Peter has heard that one before.







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