December 11, 2017

I Had No Idea This Was A Thing...

...but I'm really glad it is!  Back in the old days, one of the things that high-level railfans did was wrangle a cab ride from some friendly engineer, set up a video camera, and record the trip in such a way that the viewer could believe they were really really there.  Often, these vids would end up being licensed by one company or another and sold out of the back of Trains or Model Railroader magazines.  More recently, cable channels like RFD-TV will actually broadcast such things between bull roping, the farmer's weather report, and (my favorite) the Annual Classic Tractor Show and Parade.  Such videos are much easier to make these days, and of course the visual quality is better to a stupid extent.  It was while watching one of these detailing the London DLR run from Lewisham to Bank that a yootoob suggestion caught my eye... "Night Videowalk in East Shinjuku, Tokyo."  Intrigued, I took a look.


...and it's exactly what it says on the tin: someone walking around in East Shinjuku with a 4K digital camera on a stabilizer-crane mount.  That's all.  And, much like the Jackson Hole livecam, it's wonderful to watch, in a voyeuristic way.  Sometimes it's in a densely packed urban area, sometimes he's walking on Mt Fuji, or the Imperial Garden in Tokyo, or Comiket.  And he doesn't ever say a word, so it's all natural sound.  There are others doing similar things, but their videos aren't as long... Rambalac, the person I've been watching, makes his a hour long, more or less. And to bring it full circle, one of them is of the JR Railway Museum in Saitama.  Sadly, that one isn't in 4K... but this one is:
Turns out there are plenty of other people out there doing similar things in other cities.  New York's Times Square,  or Kolkata, or even Chicago, for example.  But yeah, I'm a geek... Japan for me!  Amusingly, I already knew what some of the places looked like... thanks to Go! Go! Nippon, which blew my little mind.  I mean, I'm never going to get to go to Japan, so... well, it's a poor second, of course, but it's better than nothing.  And there's some startlingly beautiful scenes to boot.  Pour yourself a drink, settle in, and give one a watch... you might be surprised at how much you enjoy yourself.

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December 09, 2017

Random Anime Pictures #141: Now THAT Was A Surprise!

-Love Live, Ep01
I actually really enjoyed the first episode of Love Live!  I can only assume all the "idol sh*t" starts in the next few episodes, but there was practically none in Ep01.  Instead we focused on the characters, and as a result I was laughing for most of it.  I did very little of that when I watched iDOLM@STER or the not-entirely-sequel, Cinderella Girls.  Half-grins, yes.  Smirks, sure.  Head-shaking "oh, you" moments, okay.  But laughing?  Nope.

I'm not expecting much in the way of depth here, but hey, one of the main girls is Kaga Jr, gotta love that.  And yes, I know that if I'm going into an idol show hoping there won't be much "idol sh*t" I'm gonna have a bad time, but at least the first episode was fun.

And maybe they'll explain why there's a random llama on the school grounds.

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December 07, 2017

The Forgotten Pearl Harbor Memorial

The whole world is familiar with what happened to the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor that fateful day in December of 1941.  In remembrance of that tragic loss, a touching memorial was built over the sunken remains, and is a tourist attraction unlike any other perhaps in the world.  


In 1941, the USS Utah was no longer a glamorous ship.  Once a Dreadnought era Florida-class battleship, in 1931 she was converted to a radio-controlled target vessel (AG-16), both her main and secondary batteries removed, and her torpedo bulges shaved off the hull.  In 1935 she was given a the new assignment of anti-aircraft training.  To which end, she was given an ever-changing collection of AA guns, from .50cal machineguns all the way up to the famous 5"/38 dual-purpose gun.  It was in this duty that she was at Pearl Harbor on Dec 7th, 1941.

Moored in a position normally used for the US Navy's aircraft carriers, torpedo planes from the Japanese carrier Soryu closed in on her.  While the squadron leader waved the run off, correctly identifying the Utah as not worth attacking, six planes did not get the message and dropped on her.  Of these six torpedoes, two hit the seriously unprotected vessel which immediately began to list .  Some 12 minutes after the attack on her began, she rolled over onto her port side and settled to the bottom of the harbor.  Some years later, an attempt to salvage her was made, but was unsuccessful.  It was decided to leave the hulk where it lay.

A small memorial plaque was placed in 1950, and a larger memorial erected in 1972, seen to the right in this picture.  Only those with a military ID can visit, and like the Arizona Memorial, it is considered a war grave as the ship still holds the remains of 58 crewmen killed on Dec 7th, 1941.  She's not as well-remembered as the Arizona; she was neither as glamorous or her loss as dramatic.  She is still one of a perishingly few remaining touchpoints for the events of the day that began the Pacific War.  In many ways, she deserves better.

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December 04, 2017

Ducks In Anime: What The...?

-Is The Order A Rabbit?, Ep01
What the hell is that?


What the hell is THAT?


What the hell are THOSE???

I'm really enjoying Is The Order A Rabbit?, but... what the hell, Japan?  It's rubber ducks, not rubber rabbits.  Jimmy Carter notwithstanding, rabbits don't swim.  This actually bothers me much more than anything Hellsing Ultimate did, and that show is batsh*t insane.

So is Rize, but in a good way.  She's keeping this show from going completely into Saccharin City, and I thank her for it.  It's been a while since I've laughed out loud at an anime, but she's managed to make me do it a couple of times in the space of three episodes.  

Just... go watch it.  It won't be everybody's cup of... um... coffee... but it's good!

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December 02, 2017

Heh... "Devil Duck"

"Okay men, listen up."  


The Marines, gathered at the stern of the troop transport, directed their attention to the weatherbeaten sergeant.  Some distance away, the big guns of the Colorado threw 16" shells at a small piece of land in a very large ocean.

"All right.  Someone up the chain screwed the pooch.  There ain't no tide today, so the landing craft can't get over the reef."

Someone piped up with a lighthearted tone in his voice: "So we're going home, right?"

The sergeant rolled his eyes.  "Yeah, Jenkins, we're going home.  The war is over.  We won.  And it was all because of you."  The gathered group of men laughed, but there was an audible tightness to it.  "Nah, we ain't that lucky.  We're going in on the alligators."  A muted reaction from the men told what they thought of this... the LVTs might well be able to climb over the reef and carry them right to the beach, but on the other hand they had no armor and were slow in the water.  "Any questions?"

Silence.  "Awright, lets go."

The men burst out with the traditional "OORAH!" as they moved to the ship's rail... all but one of them.  That one Marine joined in with a loud, clear "QUACK!"

The target was Tarawa.  And Siwash was going to war.

more...

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November 30, 2017

Returning For A Visit

Why does the internet go insane?  Every now and again, something will grab the attention of The Web and, for a couple-three weeks or so become kinda obsessed with it.  Usually the item at the center of attention is among the stupider things one could think of.  But occasionally, the internet sets its sights on something that's actually kinda interesting.


Last year, the town of Jackson Hole Wyoming became internet famous when a live-streaming webcam focused on the "town square" was inundated by visiting yootoobers.  Apparently, one of the troglodytes that inhabits 4chan posted in that den of iniquity something to the effect that there was going to be something interesting occurring at such-and-such a time.  Of course, some ridiculous number of people showed up to watch whatever it was... I don't even know if the something even happened or not... but then something strange happened.  People kept visiting.  And visiting.  And visiting.  Then the mainstream media "discovered" the story, and then there was another surge of visitors.  At any time, there could be upwards of 3000 - 4000 watching.

Amazingly, a complex backstory arose... or maybe not that amazing, this being the internet and all.  The Arch, centered in the above picture, became a mythological... almost religious... thing.  One spoke of The Arch in reverent tones, its wonders to perceive.  For example, The Arch was the bringer of the new day, which was signaled by the stop lights shifting from normal to flashing red.  The Arch must also be fed, accomplished by people... well... walking through The Arch.  Om nom nom.  But the best known reaction would have to be "RED TRUCK."

This is Wyoming.  The pickup truck may as well be the state bird.  Most of them, however, are black.  Or silver.  Or some neutral color like that.  I imagine that, the first time, there had been a parade of pickup trucks, all alike... and then came a splash of color among the utilitarian blacks and silvers.  "Red Truck," someone pointed out in chat, and it stuck.  Lemme tell ya though... I was actually watching one time when a red 18-wheeler drove through the intersection, and it was like all the important figures of every human religion ever suddenly appeared and did a Rockettes number in the center of the square.  Good times, good times.

In the end, however, the appeal of the webcam died off, people went away, and things returned to normal... except there's always been a couple hundred viewers hanging around.  A couple of nights ago, I found myself visiting the webcam for the first time in a half-year at least.  It felt like I was the only one who remembered those times, as I had to explain what The Blessed Arch was, and the Red Truck, and... and...

Why did we do it?  Was it the voyeur in all of us, watching without being watched ourselves?  Was it an attempt to be a part of something both unique and mundane?  Was it to connect with others watching as well?  Did we want to see something peaceful?  Or was it just The Internet being The Internet again?   I don't know.  I will probably never know.  But I will be going back.

The yootoob livecam can be found here.

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November 27, 2017

A Very Pleasant Surprise Indeed

On the whole, I tend not to talk about manga here at The Pond for no other reason than I've got enough on my plate already.  I can only remember talking about two manga titles in the 12 years The Pond has been going, though there may have been another few that I don't remember.  Which doesn't mean I don't read them... oh, heavens no.  I just don't... talk about it here.


Today though, I need to sing the praises of a series I discovered last week.  I went into it cold, ordering the first two books from amazon sight unseen... hey, I liked the title.  As it turns out, this gamble has paid off big time.  Allow me to introduce you to...

...That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime.  And really, what more do you need to know when you've got a title like that?  It may not be the perfect title, but I'll be darned if it wasn't enough for me.  But, as they say, you can't judge a book by its cover.  How about what's under the title?

Our hero dies in the first few pages, stabbed breaking up some street crime.  It's probably the only memorable thing he'd ever done, honestly.  He's 37, lives alone, has a nondescript job, is neither outstanding or poor at it, doesn't much go out, plays computer games, and realizes that he's nothing special.  As he's dying, he tells his co-worker to make sure his computer hard drive is destroyed.  Heh.  Then everything goes black.  The End.

Not the end.  He wakes up... and discovers he's literally in the dark.  Can't see, can't feel, can't move, can't smell, can't ANYthing.  Gradually, with the help of a computer-like voice only he can hear, he comes to realize that he's... a slime.  The lowest of the low.  The monster that nobody fears, not even civilian npcs.  Except upon reincarnation he gained two skills: [predator] and [great sage].  The first lets him absorb the abilities of anything he... um... absorbs.  The second lets him combine abilities in new and inventive ways, gives him an... "instruction manual"... to the world he now inhabits, and lets him access the memories of his prior life.  So he's an INTELLIGENT slime.  An intelligent slime that very quickly becomes the deadliest slime ever: by absorbing a passing bat, he winds up being able to spit poison, and talk (by modifying the echolocation of the bat).  As time goes on, he gains new and useful talents, but there's a problem.  He's alone.  He's in a huge cave, with no obvious way out, and nothing around him is intelligent.  Until... well...


Of COURSE the cave has a dragon in it.  Not just any dragon, either: the most powerful of the four dragons in this world.  Who was locked away in this cave a very long time ago indeed after being defeated by a Hero.  Magic prevents him from leaving, and his magic aura is so strong that nothing with a magic sense... pretty much everything even vaguely intelligent... will even come close to the cave.  The dragon and the slime become friends... they both finally have someone to talk to!... and eventually Our Hero comes up with a way to get the dragon out of the cave... by absorbing it without dissolving it.  Or something.  It works, but there's an unintended consequence... of course.  Hijinks ensue.

This is not a perfect manga.  Our Hero The Slime quickly becomes so overpowered there's no fear that he's going to get squished.  Removes a bit of drama from things, y'know?  Some may not find the humor all that funny... it isn't laugh-out-loud stuff for me, mostly just a small grin.  It's not at all hard to see where it's going, at least in the macro.  

On the plus side, the art is quite acceptable.  While the story may be predictable in the macro, in the micro there's been a few very nice surprises.  The worldbuilding has been top-notch; while it's a standard fantasy D&D-style land, the way magic works is fun.  Our Hero is a likable fellow, unsurprisingly... we're supposed to identify with him, after all.  Really, it's been a fun little ride thus far.  If you're in the mood for something light, but not too fluffy, That Time I Was Reincarnated As A Slime will go a long way for you.  The first two volumes are available where-ever books are sold, and the third volume comes out in a couple of weeks.   It's a good read.

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November 26, 2017

F1 Update!: Abu Dhabi 2017, The Season's Over Edition

So with that, the 2017 season drives off into the sunset... literally, considering the sun went down during the course of the race today.  The championships had been sewn up for weeks.  It was theoretically possible for Mercedes' Valterri Bottas to take 2nd in the Driver's Championship, but he'd have to win and Ferrari's Seb Vettel would have to finish... um... 9th or below, it looks like.  Half of the staff of F1Update! called in today, too busy spending the holiday weekend with family or friends or both.  So it was a depleted crew that gathered in the F1U! Media Center And Snack Bar as the F1 Circus waited for the lights to go out.  What sort of show did we see?  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2017 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi! 


*LIGHTS OUT:  We're changing our mind.  We're not going to do bullet points tonight.  The conversation, it flows through us.  Because whooo-boy, this was a big race full o' nuthin'.  Right from the start, Bottas took the lead from teammate/world champion Lewis Hamilton and would essentially not relinquish it for the rest of the day.  However, almost immediately we here in the F1U! Media Center And Pizza Joint became incredibly suspicious.  Hamilton didn't exactly attack the first turn the way he normally does... not that Bottas gave him much in the way of opportunity to do so.  

And thus it came to pass that when the first lap ended, the top 12 cars on the starting grid... were still in the same position they started in.  This did not come without some tomfoolery, though, as Nico Hulkenberg's Renault had been passed by the Force India of Sergio Perez.  Hulkenberg, aware that the drab and boring Top 12 thing was resting fully on his shoulders, decided to take the place back by the simple expedient of ignoring Turn 12 altogether.  He would eventually be given a five second time penalty, which he served during his only pitstop.  It made no difference however, as he was able to open enough of a gap on Perez to come out ahead on the whole thing.  Makes us here at the F1U! Media Center And Ball Pit wonder when someone is going to do it intentionally and win a race by doing so...

Anyway.  Bottas and Hamilton began to open a lead on Vettel in third, while Bottas stayed around two seconds, give or take, ahead of his teammate.  It is true that Yas Marina Circuit is difficult to pass at, but we suspect that if there had been anything to gain, Hamilton would have been giving it a bit more effort.  Kind of like this writeup, come to that.  When the two Mercs made their respective pitstops, Hamilton tried... he put in some quick times in the laps between Bottas' stop and his own, and the stop itself was faster than the Finn's... but it was to no avail.  It was going to take a Safety Car situation to close them up.  There were two opportunities for Berndt Maylander to wake from his eternal slumber and make an appearance.  The first was when Red Bull's Smiley Ricciardo was told to retire the car due to a hydraulics failure.  He found the biggest patch of grass in Dubai and nearly managed to roll it behind the wall for the track workers.  The second time was later in the race when Renault let Carlos Sainz leave the pits without ever actually tightening the left-front wheel nut.  Yup, the gunner never bothered.  While this sounds like something that would happen at the F1U! Media Center And Lube Rack, it probably shouldn't during a F1 race.  Just saying, y'know?

As the laps ticked down, the race settled into the processional we here at the F1U! Media Center And Parade Organizational Facility had expected all along.  Late it looked like we could possibly have some action when Bottas locked up a wheel.  That allowed Hamilton to close into possible attack range, but the Finn was able to fend off the World Champ easily enough.  After this, it was clear that the Brit said "okay, you win".  From spending the entire race within two seconds or so, he was suddenly four seconds back.  And that's the way it stayed, the two Mercs finishing 1-2, with the Ferrari of Seb Vettel a distant 15 seconds behind Hamilton.  After that, it was nearly a half-minute of waiting before the other Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen crossed the line, Embryo Verstappen nipping at his diffuser as he did.  There was then another wait of 40 seconds before Hulkenberg finished.  

After the race, the two Mercedes drivers pulled onto the pit straight and proceeded to do donuts for the crowd, with the World Champion showing that one skill he doesn't have is doing donuts in a F1 car.  Here's Bottas, carving perfect circles of rubber onto the track surface as befits the android he is, then there's Hamilton, flooping around like he's hooked up to a spirograph.  We here at the F1U! Media Center And Etch-A-Sketch Art Gallery could only roll our eyes and groan.  Which we then did, loudly and with feeling, when the Williams of Felipe Massa slowly edged its way into the picture.  Yes, we know it's your last race, Felipe.  No, we don't care, you had your moment in Brazil.  The staff of the F1U! Media Center and Etiquette Facility tut-tutted savagely.  We figure he thought he'd be the only one out there and by the time he realized the Mercs were, y'know, celebrating their season-long accomplishments, it was too late to turn back to the pits.  Even Massa's long-time chief mechanic, Rob Smedley, asked "are you sure you're supposed to be there?"  No, Rob, he wasn't.  Thanks for asking, though.

In the end, the only change this race presented was Renault passing Toro Rosso for sixth in the Constructor's Championship.  That went Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull, Force India, Williams, Renault, Toro Rosso, Haas, McLaren, and Sauber disappointingly brought up the rear.  With a whimper, the 2017 Season came to a close, leaving the members of the F1U! Media Center and Prognostication Division to wonder: "wither the sport?"  Things need to be fixed, from penalties for parts changes to constant domination by one team or another.  Perhaps Liberty Media can pull it off, perhaps they can't.  We'll find out in 118 days, in Melbourne.  See ya then!

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November 25, 2017

F1 Quals: Abu Dhabi 2017

I'm a little pressed for time, but I didn't want to leave y'all hanging!  Here's the provisional grid for the 2017 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi:


Different graphical format today... the usual grid layout isn't copying correctly, and Firefoxy doesn't work today for some reason.  So instead you get a picture!  Sorry... just imagine the nicknames, 'k? 

Yup, Bottas is a full half-second ahead of the third place sitting Seb Vettel.  As predicted, the weather was perfect for the Silver cars, and thus one of the Mercs was fastest in all three phases of Quals.  It was Bottas that was the fastest when it mattered, though, setting a new track record in the process.  Unsurprisingly, Hamilton is now saying that he hopes we don't "have a train" in the race... I suspect he'd be saying "yes, please, choo-choo" if he was on pole, though.

So we're all set for the 2017 finale, tomorrow morning is looming soon.  We'll see ya then, then!

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November 23, 2017

Post-Turkey 2017

Hey everybody!  Did y'all have a happy Thanksgiving?  Or, for those members of the Pond Scum that aren't in the US, did you have a good Thursday?  Mine was... actually not so bad at all.  I'm not going to the Old Home Pond for The Meal until Saturday, so I got to do something I've wanted to do for a long, long time: I watched football on Thanksgiving.


That I had no rooting interest in any of the six teams that played today is of no importance at all.  In fact, that made it better in that I didn't care about the results, so could just watch and enjoy.  I watched the entirety of the Vikings/Lions game, listened to the Chargers/Cowboys which wow was awful, and gave up on the Giants/Redskins somewhere in the second quarter and took a nap.  Not a bad day at all, that.

What about you folks?

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November 22, 2017

F1 on NBCSN: Abu Dhabi 2017

So this is it.  Race #20 of 20.  The last of the season.  The last race to be covered by NBCSN and the Legendary Announce Team.  The last time we'll see F1 cars without an ugly piece of structure over the cockpit.  Perhaps the last time we'll see the well-known F1 logo.  The last race of Felipe Massa's career... again.  And the last weekend you'll have to listen to me whine moan and complain about Formula 1 for the season.  Here's the track map for the 2017 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi:


I've said it before, I'll say it again probably: it looks like a great track to drive on.  It's proven, however, to be not so much of a great place for a race.  Like so many Tilkedromes, of course.  Maybe now that Liberty Media owns F1 (essentially) someone else will get a chance to design a race course?  Please?

Weather should be dry and hot, perfect for the Mercs, assuming they're not bolting 2018 test pieces onto their car for race experience.  Even then, they'll probably run away and hide.  But who knows?  Not I, for I am just a humble fan.

Who will be sad when the race is over, for it means that Steve Matchett and David Hobbs will no longer be providing coverage for Formula 1, for the first time since I became a fan in the modern era... 2004.  Those two, along with The Varsha and yes, even Leigh Diffey, have been the voice of F1 for me for 13 years.  But ESPN is going to go with the international feed and announcers next year, rendering the LAT mute... and moot.  So here, for the final time, is the broadcast schedule for the Legendary Announce Team:
Friday
Practice 2: 7a - 830a  live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals: 7a - 830a  live on NBCSN
Sunday
2017 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi: 630a - 9a  live on NBCSN

All times Pond Central.  Accept no substitutes.  Coverage of Quals will likely be delayed as Saturday is when I'm going to the Old Home Pond for the Thanksgiving  meal.  

So there we go.  Let's all get ready, shall we?

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November 19, 2017

Random Anime Pictures #140: I Did NOT Expect That

As I've gotten more interested in the past months about anime-based figures, I've seen a bunch based on characters from something called "To Love-Ru."  They've mostly been very good-looking, and there's a series of figures that are probably the best-looking I've ever seen... ridiculously expensive, waaaaaay out of my price range, but the best-looking.  But I knew nothing about the series except that one pink-haired character wears a weird hat.  So with so little to look at this season, I decided to give it a shot.


-To Love-Ru Darkness, Ep01
Never mind the zombies being attacked by giant plants.  A careful eye will notice that the pink-haired schoolgirl is... um... crouched in an interesting location.  This is not by accident.  TLRD is perhaps the single-most ecchi anime I've ever seen that isn't flat-out hentai.  And it was broadcast!  "But Wonderduck," I hear you say and really, are you using whitening strips, your teeth look great, "if that picture is representative, it isn't that over-the-top, right?"

No.  It's even more than that.  Remember the High School of the Dead OVA?  That was nothing in comparison to this show.  Now, nothing I've shown you here is out-of-the-ordinary... or even particularly worth commenting on.  That's because I don't dare put the NSFW stuff on the front page.  I warn you again: if you click "more", you're going into NSFW-land.

Last warning: beyond here is NSFW.

more...

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November 17, 2017

Random Anime Pictures #139: Ohfertheluvva...

-Aquarion Logos, Ep05
See, now they're just pandering.  A beach episode.  The fifth episode of twenty-six, and already it's a beach episode.  Then the best shot of the whole thing is also the one where the Tagonist is most fully dressed.  I don't understand how this show thinks at all.

Well, okay, maybe I do a bit.  

This was the episode where everybody that wasn't a die-hard Aquarion fan jumped ship... and apparently, some of the die-hards did, too.  I know I'm not going to go any farther with it. What's the point?  I don't like giant robot/mecha as a rule, I don't like shouted special attack names, and I really don't like shows throwing in beach episodes less than a fifth of the way through the run.  I mean sure, the fanservice is nice, but if the series is this desperate this early, the trainwreck that's coming is going to be immense.  No thanks.

Nope.  Ain't gonna work.

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November 15, 2017

Ducks In Anime: Out Of The Darkness, A Light


-Aquarion Logos, Ep02
Despite my advancing years, my eye can still be distracted by cute representatives of the opposite sex, even to the point of watching an anime series solely because of a character design.  Oh, it doesn't happen often... I usually require something more than that, like a storyline or grand concept that is appealing... but upon occasion everything will line up just right.  As I wasn't really paying attention to anything this season... I still intend to finish up Girls Last Tour... I said "what the hell," and began watching Aquarion Logos.

This was not the best idea I ever had.  I acknowledge that giant robot shows can in theory be interesting and enjoyable.  Having acknowledged that, I need to state that Aquarion Logos does nothing to prove that theory correct.  Lots of combining small ships to make a big one, lots of yelled attack moves, flat-out awful animation levels, a stupid stupid plot... really, the only worthwhile thing in it is the Tagonist, Maia (above).  Yes, tagonist.  She's not on the side of Right And Good, so she can't be the protagonist, but she's not on the side of Darkness and Evil anymore either, so she's no antagonist.  So she's a Tagonist. Oh, and the cafe that's a front for the Good Guys' Giant Robot Hangar has a row of rubber duckies, as seen up top there.  Sadly, even the combination of cut-off jeans shorts and rubber duckies cannot save this series.


* Yes, I know I'm not using protagonist and antagonist correctly.  Just roll with it.

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November 13, 2017

F1 Update!: Brazil 2017

A brilliantly sunny day greeted the F1 Circus as they made their way to the grid, led by the Mercedes of Valterri Bottas.  The Finn was going to have to carry the banner for the Silver Arrows on this day as his world champion teammate, Lewis Hamilton, was starting from the pit lane after binning his car in Quals.  He had his work cut out for him as the two Ferraris were right behind him in second and third, led by Seb Vettel, and the Italian team was desperate for a win.  Every team wants to end a season on a high note, true, but Ferrari actually led both championships for a substantial portion of the season before watching Merc run away from them.  Face needs must be saved.  So what occurred?  What transpired?  THIS is your F1Update! for the 2017 Grand Prix of Brazil!


*SOMEONE SET US UP THE BOMB:  After his visit to the barriers during Qualifying, Lewis Hamilton was going to be starting from somewhere around last place on the grid, so the team made the strategic decision to actually start him from the pit lane.  Why is this important?  Because it allowed changes to be made to the car's setup.  The Mercedes has proven to be rather persnickity regarding the weather this season.  It isn't fond of cool track temperatures, being unable to get its tires up to operating levels, so the team has to do everything it can to get heat into them.  This slows the car down.  The weather for Quals was cool and not sunny, so both Mercs were set up for that... and it got Bottas the pole.  However, race day came and it was both warm AND sunny; the track temperature was right in the Merc's sweet spot.  After the end of Qualifying, however, the cars go into parc ferme and cannot be worked on or adjusted in any way unless there's a safety issue, and even then it's a case of "like for like."  The race Powers That Be have to approve the switching of parts, and will watch the change like a hawk.  THEN the car goes back into parc ferme.  That was Bottas' position.  But Hamilton?  Since he was already going to be starting from the back, starting from the pit lane would be no great hardship, and it meant that the parc ferme rules did not apply; they could make any changes they desired.  And they desired to change the setup for hot weather.  Oh, and to replace almost everything on the car, from floor to engine.  It would make a substantial difference.

*LIGHTS OUT:  Once the five red lights went out, we had the usual drag race to the first turn between Bottas on the outside and Vettel on the inside.  Neither driver had great starts, wheelspin being the thing to begin with.  It was Vettel who managed to get the power down to the asphalt first and he passed Bottas as they reached the braking zone for Turn 1.  One turn later, all became chaos.  Smiley Ricciardo spun his Red Bull, and behind him Kevin Magnussen and Stoffelwaffle did Very Bad Things to each other.  This would call out the Safety Car, and only instants after the notification came out we had another wreck, this time when Lettuce Grosjean lost his Haas and broke False Esteban! into the kittylitter.  This would prove terminal for False Esteban!'s race, bringing to an end a remarkable string: ever since he began racing single-seaters in the 2014 Formula 3 season, he had never retired from a race.  Alas, no more.

*SAFETY CAR:  As Berndt Maylander was woken from his dark slumber, Lewis Hamilton had to be chortling with glee.  Starting from the pit lane had allowed him to totally avoid all the crashing and the wrecking and the glavin! and find himself in 13th.  Seven positions in just a couple of laps?  Not bad.  Many changed tires during the Safety Car, but not the leaders, and not Hamilton, who began the race on the Soft tires (the hardest compound on offer) and looked to be going long in the first stint, and finish up with a sprint on the ultramegawowthesearesoft tires.  The Safety Car also had the effect of gathering the field back together.  Hamilton may have been in 13th place, but he was only seven seconds behind Vettel.

*READY SET GO:  After the restart, Vettel managed to open a two second gap to Bottas, but no farther.  However, they began pulling away from the rest of the field; they both wanted the win so badly there was never any thought to playing it safe or protecting the tires.  As they ran away and hid, the cameras slid back to where the action was... with another silver-colored car.

*CHAAAARGE!:  On Lap 5, when the Safety Car went away, Hamilton was 13th.  On Lap 6, he was 12th, having passed Pleasant Stroll.  On Lap 7, he was 11th, getting by Sony Ericcson.  Lap 8 saw our champion leave Pierre Ghastly behind for 10th.  You can be forgiven for thinking that Lap 9 would see him in 9th place.  In reality, he was 8th, having passed both Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg.  He then began to slack off, taking five laps to pass Sergio Perez for 7th.  Now yes, Hamilton was in a much better car than everybody he passed, but that was still some mighty fine driving.  And it wasn't over yet... at this point, Hamilton asked his crew a stunning question: "Is Vettel getting away?"  In fact, he was only 16 seconds behind the leader at this point.

*PITS: By Lap 29, all the leaders had pitted for fresh tires... and Lewis Hamilton was leading the Brazilian Grand Prix (that's a lot of Grand Prix!).  And he would hold that lead for 14 laps until he had to make his one stop for tires.  He'd rejoin in 5th place, nine seconds behind Embryo Verstappen's Red Bull.

*NO... HE CAN'T, CAN HE?:  On fresh tires, Hamilton immediately began reeling in the youthful Dutchman.  On Lap 59, he took 4th place and immediately set off for the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen only two seconds ahead.  He would begin hounding the veteran, narrowing the lead to as little as 0.9 seconds.  Once Hamilton locked up going into a turn, however, it was clear that his remarkable day had come to an end, his tires cooked and the Merc wobbling.

*THE END:  When the race finally ended, the top four finishers, Vettel-Bottas-Raikkonen-Hamilton, were covered by less than 5.50 seconds.  There was then a 27 second gap back to Verstappen.  In many ways, this 1 - 3 result was exactly what Ferrari needed.  But there had to be a dark cloud hanging around, caused by Hamilton's storming drive.  It wouldn't have been hard to imagine the champion on the podium... or if he had began the race near his normal grid position, running away and hiding from the rest of the field.

Next race is the last race, Abu Dhabi in two weeks.  We'll see ya then for the finish!

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November 12, 2017

Delay Delay Delay

So last night I went to sleep early, intending to wake up in time to watch the F1 race live form Brazil.  Instead, I had a nightmare of a night.  From around midnight to maybe 6am-ish, I was basically up every hour dealing with... um... a warp core breach.  


I've had more fun.  Anyway, the amount of sleep I had last night was insufficient to my needs which also led to massive headache that made me... um... cranky.  I had to cancel brunch with the folks, sort of moved around in a daze until I sat down to watch the race around noon, then promptly dozed off with a sandwich in my hand.  Once I woke up, I rewound the race, started it again, then dozed off at about the halfway point.  Didn't miss much, though.  Now that I've watched the thing, I'm going to go back to bed.  When I awake, I suspect I'm going to feel like a overcooked strand of mafaldine.

You can probably see where I'm going with all this.  It's not like the race was all that exciting anyway.  Bear with me, I am old and tired.

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November 11, 2017

F1 Quals: Brazil 2017

Well, quals hasn't aired yet here, but I've seen the important bits!  Here's the provisional grid for the 2017 Grand Prix of Brazil:

Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:09.452 1:08.638 1:08.322
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:09.643 1:08.494 1:08.360
3 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:09.405 1:09.116 1:08.538
4 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:09.820 1:09.050 1:08.925
5 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:09.828 1:09.533 1:09.330
6 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:10.145 1:09.760 1:09.598
7 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:10.172 1:09.593 1:09.617
8 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:10.078 1:09.726 1:09.703
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:10.227 1:09.768 1:09.805
10 Felipe Retire Already Williams Mercedes 1:09.789 1:09.612 1:09.841
11 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:10.168 1:09.830
12 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:10.148 1:09.879
13 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Honda 1:10.286 1:10.116
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:10.521 1:10.154
15 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1:10.625 DNS
16 Herelein Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:10.678

17 Pierre Ghastly Toro Rosso 1:10.686

18 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:10.776

19 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:10.875

NC Lewis Hamilton Who? Mercedes DNF


Hamilton threw his car into the barriers after just a few minutes of Q1 had elapsed, ending his day early.  He later said that the crash "was very unusual" for him.  Well, yeah.  Kinda.  I'll say this for the newly-minted four-time WC, his wreck had style.  He went into Turn 7, the rear of the car broke free, and it looked for all the world that he was drifting the Merc through the turn intentionally.  That is, right up until the moment it went rocketing off through the kittylitter and buried itself in the tire barrier.  There were some anxious moments as Hamilton didn't reply right away to his pitwall asking if he was okay but eventually he confirmed no injury.  He did look at the back of the car for a while before walking off... clearly he thought something broke back there.

Other than that, though?  It appears the session wasn't all that exciting.  Sure, Bottas took pole at the very last moment from Vettel, but... well.  There are a LOT of penalties to be applied before the start tomorrow... Smiley Ricciardo gets a 10-spot, for example... so that'll jumble things up a little more for tomorrow's race.  Weather is supposed to be warm and dry... darn it.

So!  Race in the morning then!  Enjoy enjoy enjoy!

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November 08, 2017

F1 on Somewhere or Other: Brazil 2017

Brazil.  Not my favorite race.  Oh, I don't hate it the way I hate Hungary... it's much deeper, this distaste I have for Grand Prix of Brazil.  The Hungarian Grand Prix, I just dislike the track.  Brazil?  I hate the entire weekend.  But first, here's the track map:


Okay, cool.  From all reports, most of the F1 community loves the circuit, loves driving there, finds the place to be a great challenge.  So why my bitter antipathy for Interlagos?  Back in the old days, when my F1 fandom was shiny and new, Brazil was the last race of the season.  That meant that my favorite brand of motorsport was going to be going away for four months, give or take, and it was all Brazil's fault.

I didn't say it was logical.

But because of all that, the weekend always felt gray and overcast, even if it wasn't.  Maybe particularly if it wasn't.  That we occasionally got reports of drivers or team members being threatened at gunpoint didn't help matters either.  But rain is, if not common, then at least not very rare at all, which literally made it gray... and slippery, too!  Bonus!

But now Interlagos isn't even the last race on the calendar so my distaste for the circuit doesn't even make sense anymore.  Doesn't matter.  Don't like it.

I do like the Legendary Announce Team however, and we've only got two more races with them until they are scattered to the winds.  Let's enjoy them while we can, right?  Here's the broadcast schedule:
Friday
Practice 2: 10a - 1130a  live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals: 830p - 10p  decidedly not live on NBCSN
Sunday
2017 Grand Prix of Brazil: 930a - 12n  live on NBCSN

All times Pond Central Time.  I am disappointed, but not surprised, by the decision to show NASCAR practice instead of F1 Quals live.  After all, NBCSN will not have Formula 1 much longer... no reason to hype it up just to have it move to ESPN next season.  And thus we get Quals 12 hours late.  However, if you're in the mood, Practice and Quals will be shown right before the race back-to-back-to-back.  I'll still have the normal Quals report up Saturday morning/afternoon, whichever.  I'm not even going to promise the F1U! for Sunday... best laid plans and all that, and my track record hasn't been great recently.

But it'll be here!  I promise.  See you eventually then!

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November 05, 2017

I Blame Pixy. And J Greely. And Maybe Greyduck Too. (UPDATED)

Based on reviews, blurbs, comments, and otherwise out-and-out love given out over the years by the people in the title, I just bought the audiobook version of Storm Front, the first of The Dresden Files series, by Jim Butcher.


There are 15 books in the series.

I'm a inveterate completionist.

What have you done to me?  I thought we were friends, man.


UPDATE: J says below that the first books would probably be improved if they got someone good to read them, audiobook-wise.  They got someone good: James Marsters.  Who?

Oh.  Spike!  From the Buffyverse.  Guess what?  He's really damn good.  Stage trained, studied at Juilliard, that sorta thing.  His take on Harry Dresden as a worn-down, kinda tired private eye-kinda figure is... well, I can't really say.  I mean, I think it's perfect, but not having read the books, I can't compare it to my "mental reading", y'know?  To me, it works perfectly.

 
The first chapter is actually on yootoob, y'all that know the books give it a listen, tell me what you think.

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November 03, 2017

Doki Doki Literature Club

Yeah, I know.  "Wonderduck, another dating sim?"  Yep!  And not only that, it's about as formulaic as they come!  I mean take a look:


Left to right, you've got the tsundere, the shy bookworm, the genki childhood friend, and the school princess who's also the president of this little club.  Of course, you're the only guy in sight.  We've seen this anime, this manga, this visual novel, before, dozens of times really.  These same characters too... oh, the character designs might be different, but really they're the same.

So why did this free game that's available on Steam hook me so darn hard that it got into my dreams?  I want to make this clear: there are spoilers ahead.  Not massive ones, but spoilers nevertheless.  If you're curious about this, but you don't want spoilers, allow me to direct you to friend Ben's post over on the mysteriously named Midnite Tease.  He's got the stuff.

And, if you want to go into it with as little information as possible, I salute you and don't even mind if you're not going to read the rest of this post.  Here's some music for you.
Quite possibly the happiest, most bubbly tune ever... perfect for DDLC!


more...

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:12 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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