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Video of the Week #023

It is that time of the week again where I post a video. This time around, I’ve decided to post a thought-provoking video on the nature of radicalization by Nick, also known as Wizard of Cause. Given that wordpress.com doesn’t currently allow easy embedding of vid.me videos, I have decided to provide a link to the video below as well as one Nick’s vidme channel.

https://vid.me/9O0nI

You can find Nick’s vid.me channel here.

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Pimp a Patreon: Phil Rossi

Phil Rossi Online: Official WebsitePatreon, Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud

Years ago, I used to listen to a lot of podcast fiction. During that time there were a few names recommended on a regular basis but it would take some time for me to get around to listening to. In lieu of the popularity of Crescent and Harvey, I finally ended up listening to Phil Rossi’s podcast novel Eden and absolutely loved it. It was such an awesome book, with all of the weirdness that one hopes for in a good science fiction story. It wasn’t weirdness for the sake of weirdness either but was relevant to what each of the characters was experiencing as they continued to study a massive tree-like structure floating out in the middle of space. To this day, Eden is still in my top ten favourite science fiction books.

Recently, Phil Rossi hit me up on Facebook and we had a lengthy chat about what’s he’s been up to. As always, he was a bundle of excitement and it was contagious. We discussed his Patreon as well and I was more than happy to tell folks about it because he is one talented dude. This is a project that he cares deeply about and rightfully so. He also has the talent to back it up.
If you aren’t already familiar with Phil Rossi, then I highly recommend that folks check out his music and fiction work. He also does voice acting as well. So, if you are looking for somebody to voice a kickass male character, he might just be the guy for your project.
Phil’s Patreon project covers both fiction and music work. The goals work towards the release of new fiction in different formats, such as covering the costs of creating print editions and sequels. The Rewards are pretty good as well, with plenty of shinies to go ’round. He has a bunch of stuff planned so why not help out?

Regardless of whether you are able to support the project, be sure to spread the word about Phil Rossi’s Patreon and any other projects that you deem worthy. This is your way to share the love for content creators that deserve it. It is also a way for them to support their habit of creating new and awesome things such as art, music, videos, crafty things and all sorts of other stuff.


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Manga Review: Atashi wa Sore o Dekinai

Year: 2004 (4 parts, three stories total)
Author + Artist: Maki Enjouji
Version:  Viscans [English translations]
Online: MyAnimeListKissMangaMangaFox
Genre: Josei, Romance, Drama, Smut

Atashi wa Sore o Dekinai is an anthology of three Josei Romance stories. It features sex scenes and the classic “main guy is a jerk” cliche so common in both Josei and Shoujo. Whilst I do have some issues with the characterization in the three stories, the artwork is attractive and the characters are easily defined by Maki Enjouji. I wouldn’t say that it is a bad collection but I wouldn’t say that it is good either. If you are looking for an introduction to Josei Romance, there are certainly better anthologies and long-run series out there.


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Manga Review: Biyaku Café

Year: 2008 – 2011 (34 parts)
Author + Artist: Ayane Ukyou
Version:  Decadence [English translations]
Online: MyAnimeListKissMangaMangaFox
Genre: Shoujo, Romance, Drama, Smut

Kaoru Iseya was just fired. After accidentally kicking a can into a door of the only cafe open late that same night, she is accosted by the owner of the establishment. After accepting the offer of a cup of tea, she wakes up naked next to him the following morning. As she is about to leave, he points out that she never paid for the tea or damages to the door and that she must work it off at the Cafe. She agrees. So begins Kaoru’s job at a very unusual host cafe. [The summary at MAL is garbage.]

Biyaku Café is a collection of stories set in a very unusual cafe called Aphrodisiac Cafe that intersect with the main arc of Kaoru (the girl that has bishounen-like qualities) and Kagetsu’s amusing developing relationship. Sure, the premise of having to pay off a debt is nothing new to manga, but it plays out in Biyaku Café in a unique and interesting way. This premise is used to tell not just one story but is a way to also introduce us to several others. This is somewhat charming even if a little cheesy at times. However, be prepared for the occasional sad story in amongst the silly fun that is Biyaku Café.
I was familiar with Ayane Ukyou’s work on the Yaoi series Kuroneko Kareshi series going in. Though I found this other work flawed, it still had a character and a story arc that suggested that Ayane was capable of something beyond smut. Oddly enough, I only found out that it was the same author and artist after looking at a few frames. The art style is very similar to Ukyou’s work on Kuroneko Kareshi but focuses a lot less on the intimate relationship of the characters. My one criticism of the artwork of Biyaku Café is that some of the characters were very similar in appearance making it periodically difficult to differentiate them. However, the linework was still neat and the settings were pleasing on the eye.
Whilst Biyaku Café does have some non-explicit sex scenes, these scenes are used to push the story of Kaoru and Kagetsu forward.  Whilst the romance in Biyaku Café predominantly focuses on hetero couples, we also see the complication of one of Kagetsu’s male admirers. Each of these arcs is addressed in a satisfying and meaningful way over the span of the series. Instead of judgement, it offers a voyeuristic look into the relationships of the various characters. It is so gratifying to see each of these characters find happiness. Whilst not all characters find love, we do see some well-needed closure that allows them to move on with their life.
As a side, there does appear to be some discussion in the manga reading community over favourite couples of the series. Each relationship plays out in an entertaining fashion. If I had to choose a favourite couple in Biyaku Café, then it is definitely Kaoru and Kagetsu followed closely by Omi and Tomomi. Why? Because there is less resistance to their attractions showing these four characters to be a lot more in touch with their own emotions and willing to act upon it as adults.

I really enjoyed this odd little series. It might be a little cheesy and some of the character art needs further differentiation but it was a really fun and unique series. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a mature Shoujo romance series.


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Manga Review: 16 Life

Year: 2009 – 2010 (12-parts)
Author + Artist: Saki Aikawa
Version:  Chibi Manga [English translations]
Online: MyAnimeListKissMangaMangaFox
Genre: Shoujo, Romance, Slice of Life

16 Life is a short run, full arc series about Saya Kajiura, a 16-year-old student that is discovered by young music producer Yazuki Takase while singing at a Karaoke restaurant. This chance meeting will have a lasting effect on their life and happiness.

The story is short but manages to pack a lot of story into those twelve instalments. I don’t come across short-run series and it was a real joy to come across one that manages to tie everything together as meaningfully as 16 Life does. Each scene also allowed us to learn something about each character as well. Saki Aikawa cut down on scenes that offered little or nothing of value to the story, allowing readers a story rather than pointless filler.
It is so easy to like the characters as well, even if you feel compelled to slap or scream at their visage. There were a few annoying moments but we often see Naoto Hiiragi helping push the story forward with his regular poking of Saya and Takase as well as pointing out when they do something idiotic or contrary to logic. Simply put, this awesome supporting character is the glue that holds the story together.
The relationship between Saya and Yazuki plays out in a logical yet understandably chaotic fashion. It doesn’t drag on with silly drama either, allowing it to resolve in a satisfying fashion. It was easy to root for them because we understood where each was coming from. We also see that putting away of secrets necessary for the pair to move on as a couple. Add to this the lack of reliance upon sex scenes in order to develop their relationship and I consider it a winner.
The artwork of this manga did a good job of conveying the story. The linework was crisp, with backgrounds depicting a living, breathing world. Saki Aikawa decided to give figures without dialogue a face as well. Whilst this is done well in 16 Life, the same cannot be said for other stories where that focus on art often takes away from good storytelling.

In conclusion, I really liked this series. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a short-run Shoujo to get stuck into. It is also a good introduction to the genre and is suitable for anyone that is looking for story over sex scenes.


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Course Review: EPUB CSS

Teacher: Tony Harmer
Length: 3h 4m
ProviderLynda.com (course link)

In this course, Tony Harmer gives an in-depth look at CSS for the purpose of creating EPUBs. The materials are straightforward and offer students problems at different stages to facilitate learning. It was a lot of fun and I found myself looking forward to each new lesson as a result.
You will also note the use of Calibre, a piece of free e-reader software that has been around for around a decade. It was interesting taking a look at the editing features that it offers as I was under the impression that it was solely an e-reader. Harmer also touched on the features of Sigil. However, he emphasised that students use any software that allows you to tinker with the styles sheets and HTML.
In conclusion, I really enjoyed this course. Though the materials are geared towards creating EPUBs, anyone with an interest in learning CSS will likely benefit. If either applies to you or if you are looking for a refresher course in CSS, then I highly recommend that you enrol in this course.


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World of Keiko 2017-08-28

Hello again! Another week has passed, seeing people on opposite sides of the planet dealing with destructive weather. I know a few folks from these areas and I find myself at a loss because they are good people and the most that I can offer right now is well wishing. After the storms have cleared and the flooding has receded, there will be a lot of clean-up to do for those affected.
On my end, I am trying to take charge of my workspace. I am still noticing areas to reduce clutter. I am not obsessive, just aware of some really bad habits developed over decades. These habits have resulted in reduced productivity, with the knock-on effect of reducing quality time with my hubby. I want my time to be more meaningful rather than in a constant state at catch-up.

On the writing front, I’ve fleshed out a few ideas. Annoyingly, I keep having another book idea from a different setting bugging me. I am trying to avoid getting distracted by it as I want to start Freak in the next month or so. Yes, there is still work to do on the setting of Freak. However, I at least have some important plot points mapped out.

To education, I have been busy with my LYNDA coursework and am back to my French lessons. I dragged my feet on the two courses for creating EPUBs with InDesign CC. The course that I am currently working on covers how to format EPUBs using Sigil and Calibre. I really enjoy the straightforward manner of the instructor.

That is it for this week. I’d like to offer a big thank you to everyone that has stuck with me thus far. I appreciate you putting up with my occasional ramblings and various conversations shared over the years. It means a lot. I leave you guys with the following clip: