December 2022

plans to make...

Back in 2019, I found a small illustration of a Kagouchi-dai at the craft museum in Kyoto. Yesterday, I found an actual kagouchi-dai at the Adachi Kumihimo Gallery, and after I purchased a large supply of pre-cut silk for braiding, I asked for permission to take lots of pictures of it, so I can build one.

Next up, Matsui Shuzo sake brewery, makers of Kagura. The first time we went to Hanaroku for dinner, we ordered sake flights that were paired with the course meals. Kagura was paired with the A5 wagyu, and every time we’ve been back, we skip the courses and just order the A5 and the Kagura.

It doesn’t seem to be exported, so a few bottles will end up in our luggage. Hopefully we’ll be able to sample the blue, the clear, the yuzu liqueur, the east wind, the south wind, the west wind, …

Of course, if we sample all their sake and buy several bottles, we might not do anything else today. 😁

Loosely related, at our second-favorite gyoza joint, Tiger Gyoza Hall just off Shijo, something else caught our eyes while filling up on their bukkuri gyoza, and we’re going to be making it at home: dan-dan potato salad.

Kagura-tan desu!

My sister and I were wandering around Shimogamo Shrine yesterday carrying big shopping bags plastered with an anime-style store mascot, not something I ever expected to be able to get her to do.

It worked because they were full of premium booze we’d just picked up at Matsui Shuzo. Sadly, for a sake brewery that’s been around since 1726, you’d think they’d include at least a small callback to the classic poster girl who was hanging in their store. (the poster, that is, not the girl…)

In other news, my sister’s habit of wanting to take long walks on concrete above Perfectly Good Subway Lines has taken its toll on one of my toes; no blisters, just a subungual hematoma that I need to baby for a few days. Seriously, I don’t need to walk 9 miles a day on vacation, and if I’m going to, I want it to be a slow ramble around a scenic destination with a camera in my hand, not a power-walk from A to B on a city sidewalk.

Anyway, I now have an excuse to cut back on that nonsense. Also, it’s just above freezing out there this morning, so we’re taking a train one stop to go directly to the Umikoji Park Handicraft Market instead of walking.

For the rest of the day, I’ll stick to shopping near the station, and get all my purchases carefully packed for sending to our Tokyo hotel in a few days. The pre-cut braiding silk packets will neatly fill in the gaps. Tomorrow, two markets with possible rain.

Up for adoption...

This little fella was hanging out at the Toji Antique Market, looking for a home. He’s got some miles on him, but that just means he’s got stories to tell.

Kitagawa Craft Garden was small, but had a few vendors with interesting stuff. Toji was a different mix of items than their monthly flea market, but just as huge. If I were willing to pack and ship things home, I could have spent a few grand there. As it is, I got out pretty cheap.

More money left for Akihabara and Nakano Broadway, I suppose…

Owlcat Café

The Shinkyogoku shopping arcade in Kyoto (next street past Teramachi) now has a Bengal Cat Café and an Owl Forest, across the street from a Mameshiba Café. As far as I can tell, none of them wear maid costumes. Although, it is Japan…

Next stop, Tokyo!

Ultimate Burger...

Someone at a plastic food sample store on Kappabashi Street immortalized the American Dream:

Our last few days in Tokyo will mostly be shopping, since we didn’t want to ship it all to Kyoto and back, so I might not break out the big camera again this trip. Also, our current hotel just has showers, so I won’t be able to give my aching knees a long hot soak every night to recover from all the walking.

I really need to prioritize getting my knees worked on before the next trip. When’s the next trip? No idea; my sister’s planned next year around the upcoming Springsteen tour, so I’m seriously considering finding a good time to “work from home” out of an extended-stay hotel somewhere in Japan for a month or so. It would be very good for my rusty Japanese, which still gets me in trouble when I speak rapidly and smoothly and then can’t keep up with the responses.

In other news, this guy’s everywhere:

Literally; there’s a whole ad campaign photoshopping him into various backgrounds.

There you are!

I did not buy Rem & Ram capsule toys.

I did, however, buy a light-up duckie and a few onsen duckies.

I searched a lot of machines in different malls, and the only place I found these was in Akihabara Station on the way to the exit.

I didn’t actually buy anything in Akihabara. The ground floors were full of the latest interests, and the upstairs were up stairs. Perhaps if I’d gone there at the start of the trip…

(I did, however, buy a whole bunch of used stuff on Amazon Japan using a free trial of Prime; useful to be in the same hotel for 12 nights)

I did not go into this pachinko parlor in Akihabara to try out the new Tanya slot machine.


People generally are surprised by my Japanese, assuming I’m much more fluent than I am, like tonight’s waiter who was failing to come up with enough English to explain that it would take a while to prepare our orders, and said “jikan ga kakarimasu”. I translated for my sister, and he was pleased that I’d understood, leading him to treat me as fluent when I went up to pay the bill.

Last week, however, we ran into a waiter who managed to hear “diet cola” as daikon oroshi. We were a bit puzzled when our dinners came out with one drink and a side of cold grated radish. We Did Not Know This Was A Thing.

Otaku No Hosomichi

This was aligned with my interests:

Despite the enticingly-bound Cutie Honey just inside the entrance, let’s just say that the reality of Nakano Broadway is not as exciting or interesting as the version in Asobi Ni Iku Yo!. A lot of storefronts are empty, a lot of the rest are Mandarake specialty shops these days, and nothing really opens until noon.

I bought some collected capsule-toy cats, a Girls Und Panzer tank with the girls riding it, and an Onsa-chan with bike. I was strongly tempted by the large Rory Mercury figure, but it didn’t have a box to protect her polearm, so it would have been “fun” to pack.

Also, it was over $150.

Most of the figures were from recent shows I don’t follow; nothing was as old as the Happy Lesson figure I found earlier, except for some major collectibles with matching prices. Lots of raunchy porn, including a sex-toy shop.

This, also, was aligned with my interests:

I was quite surprised to see a framed print of the cover of one of the original Dirty Pair novels displayed in a bookstore that was half art gallery in Ginza Six. “Oh, that would be cool”, I said, and then saw that it was signed, from a limited edition of 30, and cost ¥880,000.

This was not the most expensive artsy thing on display, by several orders of magnitude…

Please stand by...

Early in the week, the Internet went down at my house, which I knew about because my security cameras stopped being remotely accessible. I asked my stepdad to go over and check things out, since there had been some storm-related outages in the area. He reported that everything seemed fine, and that the landscapers had started work on the patio.

When I got home from Japan last night, my connection was still down, but all the gear seemed functional, so I called for service. This morning, I took a look outside, and I think I see the problem: the buried cable isn’t completely buried any more, and the service box on the side of the house is open. Apparently someone on the landscaping crew fucked things up, so this will not be a free service, and will have to come out of their bill.

Catching up on anime and uploading some vacation pictures will have to wait until I’m connected through something better than my phone.

Vacation Miscellany

[pictures are mostly unrelated, but vacation-y]

I took a sterile laptop with me, with nothing on it but a handful of applications with no saved credentials and a copy of 1Password (including the new ssh-agent functionality).

The most useful application was Docker, with a single container running Pi-hole, so that I had ad-blocking on the hotel wi-fi. I still had to deal with ads when looking things up on my phone, but I didn’t spend a lot of time surfing the web anyway.

Our first Tokyo hotel was the Hyatt Regency in Shinjuku. Decent place, but not really convenient to anything, including train and subway stations. We stayed there because my sister got it free with points.

Our Kyoto hotel was the Miyako, just across the street from Kyoto Station. The location was relatively convenient, but it’s on the south side of the station, and the train and subway lines are more accessible from the north side, as are most of the decent restaurants. We spent a lot of time walking through the station to get anywhere. The biggest two flaws of the Miyako are the number of large tour groups that use it (lots of bus traffic, and don’t even try to get into the breakfast buffet), and the incredibly stiff mattresses.

Oddly, despite being a 600-room tourist hotel adjacent to the main train station, most cab drivers didn’t seem to know about it.

Our second Tokyo hotel was the Aloft in Ginza. Terrific location, with lots of good restaurants and convenient train/subway lines, and decent-sized comfortable rooms (with very comfortable beds). The two notable flaws are that it has no tubs (just excellent showers) and the chain is self-consciously hip, with dim mood lighting everywhere, including the elevators and the rooms. Seriously, if you wanted to see yourself in the bathroom mirror, you had to sit down on the supplied stool.

As usual, we flew in and out of Haneda, which is much more convenient than Narita. There’s not much to do outside the secure area, and mostly high-end duty-free shopping inside, but it’s only 30 minutes from most hotels in Tokyo.

We used the SmartEx app to purchase our Shinkansen tickets. It’s improved since we used it in 2019, with the ability to generate QR codes that are directly readable by the gates, so you don’t need to pick up paper tickets any more.

Japanese taxis are small, and even the largest van we could get through Uber for the trip home required a round of Luggage Tetris for my 3 checked bags and my sister’s 4. Why, yes, we did do some shopping. Including luggage shopping.

The A.L.I Edge suitcases are really nice, by the way. Made in Japan, nicely designed, strong and light. We each bought one, her at the Kyoto Yodobashi Camera, me at the Shinjuku Bic Camera. (they don’t have A.L.I luggage at all their stores, and we didn’t find them at any other stores, mostly because the majority of department-store luggage stores are single-brand)

A lot of places that had been on my planning page for 2+ years didn’t survive Covid, or did so in extremely reduced form. Basically, the more a place relied on tourist traffic, the worse off it was after more than two years of lockdown. In some cases, their web sites still made it look like they had a substantial retail presence, when they’d actually shifted most of the merchandise to their online stores.

This included one of the kumihimo suppliers on my list, who no longer had a real Kyoto location, just a small gift shop. Fortunately, I found one in Uji and another in Kyoto that had plenty of pre-cut silk bundles in stock, so I’m set for all sorts of braiding… when I finally set up the stands again. (they’re almost done with the interior work on the house)

The masks are slowly coming off. They’re held in place by social pressure rather than mandates, and it’s starting to fray. Subways will probably be the last place to maintain 100% compliance, but by the end of the trip we could see more faces than at the start.

We never got properly adjusted to Japan time. We were pretty much up by 3 AM every day and ready to crash by 9 PM. The masks did a lot to reduce our energy during the day, making it hard to stay up later; I went through three different types of mask, finally finding some on Amazon that were large enough to be relatively comfortable and that didn’t fog my glasses too badly. The “anti-fog” wipes for your glasses were useless, since the moisture that would have turned into fog instead collected on the inside as liquid, making things blurry.

Felbinac, elastic knee braces, and hot baths kept my knees mostly functional, but the constant stairs were a literal pain. Tokyo was a lot worse than Kyoto, because the subways are so much farther underground. By the end of the trip, pretty much anything that had stairs lost our business. Probably for the best, since otherwise we’d have spent even more money on our final visit to the Kappabashi kitchen/restaurant district.

The folks at Hanaroku were amused the first time we showed up and skipped the course meals to order just the A5 wagyu and the Kagura saké. By the third visit, they were giving us a private room. 😁 Sadly for our plan to show up early for our reservations, the first-floor bar hasn’t reopened yet. Sadly for our wallets, it’s currently being used to show off quality ceramics and other nice products.

We had dinner with two of my sister’s co-workers, both great people. She had tasked them with picking a good restaurant (because they were sick of taking people to the Kill Bill place), specifying “sushi or steak”. They chose an izakaya in Ginza that was easy for them to get to from work, but we arrived first, and were baffled by their choice. The main draw was their selection of saké, which was fine, but the English menu was full of squid balls and other weird shit. There was literally nothing that we were willing to eat… on the English menu. They had all kinds of normal izakaya food, but only on the Japanese menu, which really made it feel like they didn’t want foreigners there.

Closer to home, it turns out the first cable cut is free, so the landscapers won’t have to pay for reconnecting my Internet unless they cut it again. Which, given that it runs across an area they’re actively grading and planting, isn’t impossible. A least they’re now actively working with the cable company on getting the new line clearly marked when it’s buried later this week.

Episodes 8

Catching up a week at a time…

A-Cup Alchemist 8

In which cute girls plot cute revenge, discovering and destroying a threat without even resorting to a two-parter. Also, our Darling Flat Protagonist demonstrates precisely why I’ve been calling this show ACA by “jokingly” threatening her more-endowed friends with Magically Induced Mastectomies.

(she did not, however, threaten her busty young assistant’s assets)

Flatcat & Sword 8

So, when a mustache-twirling villain is a catman, is that whisker-twirling? I ask purely for information, because as soon as Our Traumatized Kitten overcame her fear, his parts were no longer part of Our Story, and everything shifted back to slapstick and cuteness.

Hoe Harem 8

In which Prince Humperdink is marrying Buttercup in a little less than half an hour… oh, wait, wrong story. Let’s just say that the soundtrack for the successful rescue of Our Princess Bride was Yakety Sax, with Our Chicken Farmer running away from a confrontation between haremettes, and then throwing cold water on their wifely ambitions with a cliffhanger revelation that No, There Is Another. (and he’s not talking about Halfdragon Helen)

(no, it’s not Yor, either, although SxF is so popular right now that I wouldn’t be surprised if the characters start crossing over into other shows)

Beast Tamer 8

The special no-swimsuit beach episode, in which Our Taming Hero finally gets an eyeful of sweet, sweet waifu-flesh, while the audience just gets a full course of Buy-The-Bluray flare and steam.

For next week, they’ve set up a fight with another tamer, which if it goes like every other fight in this series, will be over before it starts.


The landscapers are simultaneously building a new back patio, rebuilding the front porch, regrading the side yard, setting up proper drainage, and planting on all sides of the house. As a result, the only way in or out right now is the garage door, and the driveway is blocked by their equipment during the day. So it’s a good thing I work from home.

Monday, the interior contractor sent a guy to touch up all the wood stain, rip out the over-the-range microwave and prep for the new ducted range hood, and rip out the old second half-size burner so that space can be turned into something useful. I expected them to be back on Tuesday to continue, but they didn’t show until late in the afternoon, and then only to remove trash. Turns out the new range hood that was ordered six weeks ago still hasn’t arrived.

I can get by with a torn-up kitchen for a while (although I obviously won’t be hosting a family Christmas…), but gosh, wouldn’t it have been nice if they’d done that work while I was out of the country for three weeks, as originally planned?

Episodes 9

A-Cup Alchemist 9

In which Our Intrepid Adventurers make a run on honey in order to get flush, and discover that Our Alchemical Genius is kind of shitty at providing important safety tips, but everything comes out in the end, and they paper over the cracks in their relationship.

Then their parents show up!

Flatcat & Sword 9

In which Our Combatative Kitten whips a whiner and gets whipped by a whipper, undercutting the rumors that her promotion was less about the sword and more about the tail.

No curries were harmed in the creation of this episode.

Hoe Harem 9

The Tale Of The Feral Loli, in which First Girl doesn’t live long enough to become Best Girl, and the reason Our Hoe Lord sticks to farming is revealed to be heartbreak (figuratively and literally). Real downer after all the slapstick comedy and harem antics.

(unrelated kitties to lighten the mood…)

Beast Tamer 9

I know you’re thinking, “what this show really needs is more time spent with The Asshat Hero And His Terrible Party, and maybe another Completely Unrelated Asshat to harass the girls and try to break up Our Taming Hero’s party”. No, wait, no one was thinking that.

As expected, the tamer-on-tamer fight was brief and resolved with a completely new power that’s never been mentioned before. A slight twist is that the thieves weren’t entirely in the wrong, and the person who hired Our Harem Heroes wasn’t entirely in the right, giving off a faint whiff of Very Special Episode, complete with Moral Lessons Learned.

In the end, though, the things that really matter (at least to Our Twin Fairy Loli Waifus) are headpats and hotdogs.

(unrelated headpat-receiving ponygirl is unrelated)


I finally bit the bullet and ‘upgraded’ my Macbook Air from Catalina to Monterey (after testing it extensively on my work-supplied Mac for months). The #1 annoyance is the reduced contrast everywhere, with small gray fonts and minimal separation between window content and decoration. So I turned on the ‘accessibility’ option to increase contrast, which broke the menus in Edge’s InPrivate mode by significantly reducing their contrast (now black text on a dark gray background). Sadly, Edge doesn’t let you customize the theme for InPrivate mode; there are a number of unresolved support discussions about how the way the current visual separation between normal/private works is really stupid, going back to before Covid was just a line item in Fauci’s research funding.

It looks like I’ll have to upgrade my phone and ipad to 16.2 this week as well, since the latest zero-day security patch to 15.x is only available if your device can’t run 16. Fuck you with a toaster, Apple. Actually, these days, perhaps an air fryer would get the point across better…

My motive for the upgrade? Too busy to finish migrating off the Mac before New Years, and Microsoft has stopped upgrading the version of Office that runs on Catalina. Adobe is still providing updates for the working version of CC, but the latest version of their core apps doesn’t run, so that was a consideration as well.

(Apple of course would prefer that I upgrade to Ventura, which is still in early Beta)

Episodes 10

A-Cup Alchemist 10

In which everything happens all at once: Our Klutzy Gather Girl turns out to be the daughter of an impoverished noble house served by the family of Our Busty Gather Elf, and they’re so deep in debt their best offer is an arranged wedding, but the prospective groom is the son of the SoB that Team Alchemy just bankrupted so clearly there’s some kind of scam involved, and then Our A-Team sets out to solve The Mystery Of Giant Flaming Rage Bear Mountain while quickly making a bundle to help with the family debt(s), which leads to a nearly-fatal encounter with Tougher Monsters, and when Our Overpowered Alchemigal chops them into stew meat, there’s a sudden volcanic eruption that releases An Even Tougher Monster.

It’s like they took a look at the episode count and suddenly rushed to cram it all in before the end of the series.

Flatcat & Sword 10

In which excessive exposition and physical comedy lead Our Dysfunctional Dungeon Delvers to drop their guard, only to be caught in a trap. Suddenly deprived of The Power Of Sword-Dad, Our Curry-Mad Catgirl is forced to fight… The Cliffhanger!

(unrelated, I’d be happy to see a naughty spinoff series about the girl who appears in the how-to-learn-water-magic portion of the exposition…)

Hoe Harem 10

In which it’s like the previous episode never happened and we’re back to the wacky harem hijinks, with Our Happy Hoemonger picking up a new girl in the woods and carrying her off to his bed, leading Best Girl Ruri to assume the worst (but still come to the rescue anyway). The actual wacky plot is the worst yet, resolved with the power of… asparagus.

On the bright side, Our New Girl cleans up nicely, but her promise to steal Al away from his harem as soon as she’s old enough is doomed to failure, since she has no idea just who she’s up against. I mean, she works in a pendant shop, and the opposition includes a magical princess, a half-dragon adventurer, and a hero-with-a-capital-H. Her only chance is if it’s a naked mud-wrestling match, in which case the winners will be everyone watching.

(unrelated Tsundere Elf is here to remind Netflix that they haven’t resumed running Uncle yet after its production woes)

Beast Tamer 10

In which Asshat #1 (Teh Hero) meets Asshat #2 (Loli Collector And FoxLoli Kicker), and joins forces to kill Our Taming Hero. Next episode. Also, we finally find out what special power he gets from Our Twin Fairy Loli Waifus, after they wondered why there didn’t seem to be one last week.

The Last Good Knight finally shows up and hires Team Harem to clean up the corrupt knights who enable Asshat #2 to get away with his crimes. Given the relative power levels, this takes about two minutes, and mostly happens offscreen. Our Good Lady Knight gets to take down her boss in a classic samurai-movie face-off, which ought to count for something.

IMHO, A#2’s villainy was a bit gratuitous. Seriously, he demands that Our Twin Fairy Loli Waifus be handed over to him as sex toys, orders his guards to kill Rein to get his way, orders his surviving guards to murder the innocent townsfolk if Rein doesn’t surrender them, and then pays the knights off to cover up their failure, and the rescued townies then reveal that he does this all the time, openly kidnapping women to abuse in his mansion. But that wasn’t enough for the writers, who then show him keeping an N-tailed loli foxgirl in chains and battering her with his boots to make himself feel better. Twice.

Seriously, just give him a mustache and have him twirl it. We get it, he’s a villain. And so is Teh Hero, who does his own clean-shaven mustache-twirling.

The mistake shared with Hoe Harem is someone thinking that light-hearted harem hijinks isn’t enough, and there has to be A Serious Subplot somewhere, which is like a rap break in a bouncy bubblegum k-pop tune.


My sister and I both ordered yen from our banks before the trip, taking advantage of the excellent exchange rate, which the Japanese government has managed to reduce a bit since then.

Unexpectedly, both of our banks split the money into equal numbers of ¥10000, ¥5000, ¥2000, and ¥1000 bills. ¥2000 bills are a recent innovation that are actually quite rare in Japan, and sometimes difficult to use. Most machines accept them, but human clerks are usually surprised, and often briefly confused. They were, however, a huge hit at flea and craft markets, where vendors were excited to see them, and treated them as collectibles.

I’d still have preferred to have most of the money in ¥10000 bills, just to reduce bulk, so next time I may ask for maybe 20 ¥2000 bills with the rest in ¥10000, and just break a few right away. (we both had credit cards with no foreign-transaction fees, but it’s still not unusual to run into cash-only stores, even for fairly expensive items; and of course the flea markets and craft markets run on cash)

Speaking of which, the best place I found to get change was the capsule-toy change machine in Akihabara Station, which would take a ¥10000 bill and give you 8 ¥1000 bills and 20 ¥100 coins. Other large banks of capsule-toy machines probably have similar machines, but the ones in Nakano Broadway looked kind of dubious, so I didn’t try them.

(bubble wrap wasn’t the only padding available at Don Quijote…)

In home-improvement news,

I’m kind of wondering about the progress of all the outdoor work, with the weather promising to drop by 30°F this weekend. They’re here with two crews every weekday, simultaneously doing the stonework and putting in the new plants, but none of it looks like they’re actually finishing. Particularly the steps leading to the front and back doors, although they made enough progress at it today that I at least know what they’ll look like. I’d kind of like to have a place for delivery drivers to drop off packages without keeping the garage door open.

Side note:

I found Musk’s “should I stop running Twitter” poll to be a hilarious bit of trolling. Obviously he has new executive candidates in mind, and the poll didn’t have a date on it, so he wins no matter how many bots stuff the ballot box. And also gets a nice list of active bots.

Episodes 11

Winter Watch?

So far, I’m mildly interested in the second season of Bofuri (the lather-rinse-repeat powering-up of Maple gets old after a while, and I think the first season stopped at a good point), and will at least give the first episode of Nier:Automata a shot because y’know, her. Most of the rest are second-to-Nth seasons of things I didn’t watch before, or the usual beaten-to-death isekai themes, or just lame. I mean, what can you say about a season where the big fan-service comedy is about being turned into a puppy and adopted by a busty high-school girl, guaranteeing plenty of low-angle camera work?

A-Cup Alchemist 11

According to Sarasa Feed’s Art Of War, preparation is the key to defeating a powerful foe. Therefore, the first half of this episode is devoted to gathering materials and making weapons and protective gear suitable for taking on a Salamander that’s triggering earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. After preparation comes execution, and by now it should come as no surprise that Our Alchemical Wonder Girl is an ace at executing things, even if she does need a little boost to Give Her All.

Amusing cameo by Our Mysterious Masked Mistress. Clearly, great alchemical minds think alike, at least when it comes to pointless domino masks.

I’m expecting a sappy happy-ending finale next episode, with just a hint of yuri.

(Sarasa’s not the first heroine who needs to be carried home after casting a big spell…)

Flatcat & Sword 11

So She’s Fighting A Spider, So What?, in which Our Depowered Kitten refuses to give in to despair, poison, and pulverized internal organs, holding out long enough for Sword-Dad to come to the rescue. Woof. Special bonus elf-cleavage as Our Mothering A-Ranker breaks out the big guns. Woof.

However they wrap it up in episode 12, there will be… Flatcat Season 2! (date unknown)

Hoe Harem 11

Happiness is a warm hoe, with two haremettes bent over… to pick vegetables! Then a series of random events leads to meeting Our Latest Loli, who lures Our Heroic Hoe-er away from some Really Important Weeding for an Overseas Solo Adventure that starts to get grim, until A Sudden Twist explains why they wasted an entire episode killing off Our Childhood Girlfriend.

Unexplained is how You’re-Not-My-Real-Mom knew to use Reaks’ name to explain her presence. Also the whole dead-and-buried thing, but I’m sure that’s going to feature prominently in the next episode’s exposition. Now, as for Our Mystery Angel who’s been hanging out in the opening credits waiting for someone to bonk Al over the head, will there really be enough time in the final episode to explain her as well as everything else that’s going on? I vote “no”.

(because there’s still basically no fan-art for this show, we’ve secretly replaced the key characters from this episode with Folger’s Crystals GGO battle lolis)

Beast Tamer 11

In which Team Harem rescues the hostages and wipes the floor with the bad guys, while Our Taming Hero uses last week’s new power to free Our Fox Loli from captivity by… taming her! Then the evil plot backfires because of course he’s now immune to instant-death and all other negative status effects; that’s just what Ultimate Girl Power does for a guy.

But wait, there’s more! The backlash from Asshat #2’s failed ass(hat)ass(hat)ination attempt summons a giant cliffhanger! Team Harem, Fight-o!

This one goes to 13, by the way, so if I manage to catch up before Saturday, I can watch the big finish Christmas Eve. Because I have no intention of driving anywhere when it’s 1°F after days of mixed rain and snow, and it’s a major drinking holiday.


Higashi Honganji, the temple pretty much everyone sees in Kyoto because it’s just up the street from the station, had a special night-time event while we were there where they turned the Shosei-en garden into a moonlit book store. My sister looked up the English version of their site to see what it was about, and was immediately turned off when she saw that they’d be serving hot cow piss.

The folks at Calpis really need to contact all the online translation sites and get them on the same page.

(speaking of vending-machine drinks, I found the Georgia Emerald Mountain “special blend” canned coffee (blue can) to be quite drinkable, hot or cold; this is of course because the “blend” refers to milk and sugar, while most of them are quite bitter black coffee)


Homebrew doesn’t seem to notice or care that I upgraded my Mac to Monterey, other than that it’s stopped complaining about Catalina being old and stable. None of the installed packages were altered in any way.

MacPorts, on the other hand, simply refuses to run until you go through a convoluted upgrade reinstall process. This clearly could be scripted, but the closest they get is having a TCL (!) script for the package reinstallation step.


I can haz front steps! After the cement and mortar finishes curing for 48 hours, anyway. They spent today scrambling to get plants into the ground before the upcoming storm and freeze. For their own benefit as well as mine: they need their trucks and equipment back to prep for the fallout. Snow removal is a big part of their business this season.

Episodes 12

(🎶 fins to the left, fins to the right, … 🎶)

A-Cup Alchemist 12 (fin)

In which Our Little Orphan Alchemist grapples with an obvious decision, in order to generate uncertainty and set up the telegraphed happy ending. Group hug!

Flatcat & Sword 12 (fin)

A satisfying finish to the spider-dungeon story, as well as the expected revelation that Our Cleavage Elf has a past connection to Our Triumphant Kitten. The only real surprise was the gainaxing action by Big Bad Mama Spider. I really would have preferred to see that animation applied to Nell and/or Amanda.

Post-credits, they went right into a teaser for the next story arc, so hopefully they’ll get the second season onto the schedule soon.

(I’m running out of Fran-art that isn’t a little heavy on the Fran-service)

Hoe Harem 12 (fin)

Exposition that raises more questions than it answers, literal divine intervention that hurts as much as it helps, a big fight that ends because the villain kinda lost interest, and a haremette hangout. The ending is written as if they expect to get another season, which is highly unlikely.

Case in point: Our Hoe-hum Hero meets up with his childhood buddy, and after muddying the plot, invites him to visit the capitol. As he walks away, the guy darkly mumbles, “I can never leave this village”. Yeah, it’s probably true to the source material, but why even spend the time to bring it up unless you think you’ll be able to animate that arc someday?

(Our Latest Loli is stunned that her story was wrapped up so abruptly and incompletely, with no guarantee that Our Evil Twintailed Mysterious Murder Maiden won’t just come back and wipe out her home again tomorrow; it’s not like there’s anyone capable of stopping her)

Beast Tamer 12

“There’s no way we can possibly defeat this foe, unless we suddenly gained the ability to repeatedly cast Instant Teleport, which… Our Freshly Tamed Divine Fox Loli Waifu can do!”

Meanwhile, Team DickHero asks their boss if they should intervene, since, y’know, we’re all about defeating the demon lord, and there’s a, y’know, demon horde wiping out the town we’re currently in. Which he naturally refuses because he’s directly responsible for the mess and knows it. Are we actually sure he’s the Chosen Hero? Maybe we’ll find out in episode 13!


Snow! Wind! Ice! Temperature dropping like dangling plot threads in a single-cour anime series! Me, not wanting to go out there for any reason!

(okay, that would be a pretty good reason; I could at least open the door long enough to let her in…)

Frigid Update!

It turns out that the one opening in the house that does not have weatherstripping is the front door. This message brought to me by 25 mile-per-hour winds and -4°F temperatures. Good thing I have all sorts of bubble wrap from unpacking my Japan goodies to stuff into the gap until it warms up enough for me to attach some; it's supposed to be back up to 40° by Wednesday, and 58° (!!) by next Saturday.

Fortunately, I've gotten used to not using the front door while they were rebuilding the porch and steps...

Christmas Cake

Since I’m stuck inside for a few days (fun fact! I missed that my comprehensive landscape-maintenance plan did not include snow removal, and of course no one’s in the office until the 27th, by which time it should have finally started to melt), I’m scrubbing through 3D cheesecake archives going back to at least 2008.

Therefore, today’s theme is “oldies but goodies”, in which the girls aren’t any older than usual, but the date I saved them to disk is. That said, it’s been nice to see a number of glamour models still working into their thirties in an industry that usually discards them much younger (I’m looking at you, Ai Shinozaki, and by that I mean I’m looking at you! Yum).

For both 3D and 2D, my archives are kept de-duped with pdq, but they’ve been accumulating faster than I’ve been blogging, so the plan is to browse by date, and anything that doesn’t make the cut gets dumped onto the NAS, where it won’t be picked up by future runs of my shuffle scripts.

This double batch gets me caught up through the end of 2015, with lots of familiar faces well-represented. Next one should get me to mid-2018, and then it starts to get crowded; either I do multiple posts for each month, or start applying my deathmatch rules.

Bonus Christmas Cheer!


Beast Tamer 13

In which Our Divine Fox Loli’s application for Waifuhood is formally accepted, but we don’t find out if her powers made Our Taming Hero even more OP, because what’s important is being recognized by the guild and the town as The Real Heroes, leading Our Top-Heavy Guild Receptionist to offer them a great deal on a house with room for the full harem and any future expansion packs.

With one catch: it’s haunted. Good news, though, because not only is the cranky poltergeist a gorgeous maid with a bustline second only to Our Dragon Waifu, her battle to expel the intruders is quickly ended by a brand-new power that’s never been mentioned before. Because of course Rein just happened to spend an afternoon learning ghost taming when he was a little boy in The Village Of Infinite Taming.

Our Luscious Ghost Maid doesn’t get the full waifu treatment, but he can force her to obey, which in a better world would result in some naughty fan-art.

Wrapping up, Team DickHero is run out of town without even a sandwich, further cementing their leader’s desire to destroy Our Taming Hero and the girls he rode in on.

And so we bid a not-terribly-fond farewell to the fall season, and stare into the bleak abyss that is the winter season. For anime, I mean; it’s supposed to be back up to 55°F by Thursday, although it’s going to rain every day for a week. Gives me time to seal the front door, buy a shovel, and sign up for snow removal service. 😁

Bonus Christmas Cheer!

Cheesecake Vault, 2016-2017

Another double batch of 3D cheesecake, this time picking through everything downloaded in 2016 and 2017. 2018 will either require severe editing or multiple posts (5000+ pics).

Certain young ladies were working very hard those years, so they turn up more than once a lot.


Things I've been reading

(with varying degrees of success)

Of the various light novel and manga series I’ve been reading, most of the good ones are either released very slowly or just dead. So I look at Amazon and try out something new occasionally, and it’s increasingly full of fail and faux-Japanese “LitRPG” (a self-applied label that made my oh-hell-no list over five years ago).

  • Mushoku Tensei (as Pixy put it, “reincarnation of a slime”): volume 1 is a tough slog, because the author went out of his way to make the protagonist repellent, and even his attempts to “do better” in his new life are hampered by his basic sociopathy. I’m told he gets better around book 3, which is approximately 1.5 books too late.

  • In The Land Of Leadale: the books are more coherent than the anime, but still suffer from a fundamental lack of things for Our OP Heroine to actually do. It all comes crashing down when she’s reunited with her frenemy from the game era, who reveals what’s really going on, including the fact that the game was originally written specifically for her. And she kind of is the game now, even though the world is also real. Not going to lie here: that explanation did not make sense…

  • Private Tutor To The Duke’s Daughter: I’m not sure who the audience is for a conflict-free story where the modest, handsome, insanely OP protagonist obliviously narrates his acquisition of an underaged currently-platonic harem of heiresses, all the while believing himself to be underpowered and not fit to marry any of them. It reminds me a lot of Littlewitch Romanesque without the sex scenes.

  • Reborn To Master The Blade: Our OP Legendary King gets reborn as a girl (OP from infancy!) and quickly grows up into a lush-bodied teen hottie with twin appetites for food and combat, and a complete lack of a sex drive. Meanwhile, the world has gone to shit since now-her time, and plot coupons are doled out very slowly as she rampages across the land as a squire desperately trying to avoid responsibility so she can just beat up people and monsters. The cast quickly spirals out of control as very little progress is made towards uncovering What Went Wrong.

  • Disciple Of The Lich: Our Hero is a gullible reincarnation from Japan who mouthed off to the gods and got dumped into the lowest level of a lethal dungeon, where he was rescued by an undead tsundere necromancer who power-levels him as an excuse to keep him with her longer, which he’s too dumb to figure out, even when he finally goes to the surface world and facerolls every enemy he meets. He’s so convinced that the world is super-dangerous that he inflicts the same training on the first girl he makes friends with, so they can faceroll together while his jealous teacher stalks them.

  • The World’s Strongest Rearguard: this one is actually fun, with the harem antics kept under control by the fact that they have two clearly-defined missions they’ve been working on since book 1, and while they’re progressing through the dungeons at a blistering pace, they’re not completely OP, and must get better to deal with the challenges they face each book. Not high art, but consistently entertaining, although I wonder how long Our Back-Door Hero can remain oblivious to the fact that his always-on powers make the haremettes finger themselves to sleep every night (off-camera). Yes, I skip over the stat blocks.

  • Solo Leveling: the translated comic is way overpriced for how much material you get in a volume (remember all those looooong vertical panels? they get broken up across multiple pages and end up as the primary constraint on how much story gets told); the novels have progressed well past what most people read online, and remain interesting.

  • Gun Gale Online: I am so sick of Squad Jam.

  • Banished From The Hero’s Party… (McPharmacist & Waifu, which I have to specify because there are a bunch of these now): this was a lot more coherent than the anime, but I’m losing interest as Our Slow-Living Couple keep getting dragged into big conflicts, and Our Recovering Sister Hero’s brocon trends more and more towards the sexual. But she’s willing to share with women she respects, which he’ll be horrified to eventually learn.

  • Now I’m A Demon Lord!: there can be no conflict when Our Dungeon Lord is backed up by the power of the most insanely OP dragon in the world, who’s also his loli waifu.

  • Reincarnated As A Sword: the manga oversexualizes Fran, and the “another wish” spinoff manga is at best adequate, but the novels are good stuff.

  • Survival In Another World With My Mistress: Our Hero is not only OP, he is a certified miracle from the gods, and if it weren’t for the massive stamina boosts he gets from leveling up his skills, he would be dead after a single night spent satisfying his ever-growing harem. Seriously, he’s fathering an empire with girls of over half a dozen species, and I don’t think the author even keeps an accurate count of how many bedmates there are after a while. And they keep facerolling all opposition, to the point that he’ll probably end up ruling the world, or at least servicing all the women in it.

  • The Executioner And Her Way Of Life: I abandoned the anime, and this too after a while. TL/DR: everything you’re told about the world at the beginning was a lie, and the reveal is way too long and tedious.

  • The Hidden Dungeon Only I Can Enter, or as I think of it, The Dungeon Harem Only I Can Enter But Never Seem To Get Around To: the anime had some squicky bits about him basically training his already-obsessed little sister into being a Dom, but after N books, nothing has really changed in the harem dynamics. All the girls want him, none of them have put out yet, and little sister is the girl most likely to be the first to make a serious play for his dick.

  • A Late-Start Tamer’s Laid-Back Life: I can’t remember anything that happened in this, except that everyone in the game squees over how cute his pets are.


I just had a refrigerator moment and realized there is a significant plot hole in the final episode of Hoe Harem. No, seriously; stop laughing. Yes, in a story that was already falling apart every time they stopped to explain things, the ending has a real whopper.

In the middle of the fight against his formerly-dead childhood girlfriend, time stops, and the mysterious angelic chick explains that she’s the good god, and the evil god’s power that Deadloli is trying to activate in him is the reason he suddenly became so OP in episode 1. So she quickly exorcises him and gives him some of her own power instead, which he uses to magically grow combat weeds.

When he gets home and finally fights back against an orc that’s eager to rape him, his Super KO Punch no longer KO’s, and Helen gets him to whip out his stat card (which we haven’t seen since episode 1), and, sure enough, he’s no longer insanely OP, just “better than most adventurers”. And he’s surprised by this, because he hadn’t noticed a change.

But he got to the other continent to fight Deadloli by using his powers to run super-fast across the surface of the ocean. How did he get back without noticing?

(also unrelated, in recognition of the end of Ash’s decades of on-screen Pokemon battles, we celebrate the Original Best Girl of the series)

Cheesecake Vault, 2018 part 1

Happy New Years! I’m off to tidy up the house before family shows up tomorrow for some late Christmas/birthday celebrations. Then I have to tear it all apart again in the hopes that the contractor will be back to finish the interior work sometime next week. The exterior work is being held hostage by rain now that the snow has melted.

And yes, apparently every photographer in Japan had their calendars marked for the day Yuno Ohara turned 18, and she was booked solid for years. Prior to that, she was basically a backup dancer in an idol group, and given the usual career dynamics in Japan, it’s actually surprising that they didn’t get their hands on her (so to speak) years earlier.


“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”