February 11, 2017

Random Anime Picture# 126: Cheesecake Too!


-Hatsukoi Limited, ED
There are days when you plan and scheme and get everything you need to accomplish done.  And then there are days like today, where I got nothing done at all except sleep, and not even much of that.  The plan was to finish up the requested "Why A Duck?" post.  Instead, I did bupkis, and you get this post.

I mean, there are worse things that could have happened, I suppose.  It's just not what the plan was.  A lot of that going around, I think.

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February 08, 2017

Interview With A Vampire

Hopefully all of you regular (or irregular, I don't judge) anime viewers are watching the show of the season, Interviews With Monster Girls.  It's light-hearted, with a surprising amount of depth to it as well.  While I'm not a huge fan of the yuki onna (yet... she basically was just introduced in last week's Ep05), everybody else in the show is delightful.  Even the normie teacher.

There is no doubt, however, that the true breakout star of the series is Hikari, the vampire.  She's basically the most realistic high school girl I've ever seen in an anime series.  I mean, other than the whole "vampire" thing, of course.  I don't know if I've ever mentioned this, but not too terribly long after I returned from grad school in ignominious defeat, my old theatre teacher from high school called and hired me to do the lighting design for a play the theatre department at his new school was doing.  He had a lot of expectations of this one, because it was being entered into the All-State Theatre Festival... there were something like 900 shows being considered, but only six would be chosen.  The name of that play?  Dracula.  A fairly faithful retelling of the original vampire story, in fact.  And o, did I go wild on that design!  Easily the best of my 200+ lighting designs, in fact.  Anyway, we did go downstate, where I got to take a custom light design run via computer and turn it into something using a generic light plot run via a manual control board.  That only took four hours to do.  I digress.  They say that there isn't a competition between the "full-length feature presentations" at All-State; officially, they're right.  Unofficially, however, that's a bunch of hooey and everybody attending knows it.  I saw four of the five other plays downstate, and the fifth I saw when it ran here in Duckford at a private high school.  Not only were we the best of the bunch, it wasn't even close.  I'm honestly not bragging about that, it's just a simple fact.  We had a good bunch of kids... which brings me back to my original point: Hikari reminds me of, like, three of my students rolled into one.  Good kids, all of 'em.  If you've been watching the show, you undoubtedly remember the laugh-out-loud moment from the most recent episode: when Hikari needs to chew on someone because "her teeth itch."  Relative to that scene, I found this:

For everybody that ISN'T watching the show, hopefully that just convinced you to do so.  You're seriously missing out.

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February 06, 2017

F1 News: To The Manor Born


Manor F1, the last of the four "Class of 2010" teams, has pulled down the garage doors for the last time.  The cash-strapped team, running on a shoestring and a prayer for the past couple of years, has been desperately looking for a buyer since the end of the 2016 season.  There was no white knight to be found, and the active staff was apparently let go on the last day of January.  Interestingly, while the team is gone, the company that holds Manor's rights to race in F1 is still alive.  In theory, they could field a team or sell the rights off to another (approved) race group.  In practice, it's a moot point as there currently aren't any approved applicants out there.

Manor lasted for seven seasons, scoring a total of three points: two in 2014 and 2016.  Sadly, the team had two of its drivers suffer major head injuries and pass away: Maria DeVillota during testing and Jules Bianchi during the 2014 Grand Prix of Japan.  This team was supposed to be the one that changed how F1 cars were designed; under the Virgin F1 banner, the VR01 and MVR02 chassis were created and tested solely via computer.  No wind tunnel tests were needed, they said.  Computational Fluid Dynamic testing dominated the designs for the first four years, with the best result being a freak 13th place at the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix after many cars retired from that race.  The next design, the MR03 in 2014 and the MR03b in 2015, showed some promise with a 9th place finish at Monaco in 2014.  But then money issues reared their ugly head and 2016s MRT05 was a legitimate disappointment; it scored but a single point despite running the dominating Mercedes engine.  This failure put the team 11th for the season, where they received no championship payout from the FIA and ultimately doomed the team.

In the end, it was hard not to root for Manor.  They legitimately tried very hard to make a go of it and were obviously quite devoted racers.  They outlasted HRT and Lotus/Caterham (and USF1, but that's another story) by a few years... with a bit of luck, they could have become as much a fixture on the grid as any team.  In a few years, people will be looking back at their final car and realize just how gorgeous it was.

Pre-season rollouts are just a couple of weeks away.  Sadly, Manor will not be one of them.

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February 01, 2017

Random Anime Picture #125: Cheesecake!


-Seiren, Ep02 ED
Why?  What, when did I start needing a reason to post cheesecake?

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January 30, 2017

The Winter Season Of My Discount Tent.

The long-standing rule of thumb is that the Winter season of an anime year is the weakest.  Looking back through my January archives, I see that such shows as Vividred Operation and Rio Rainbow Gate! both aired in that month.  With that sort of pedigree, it seems hard to argue anything but Winter being the weakest.  However, there's always something to watch in every season, and this Winter is no different.  In fact, I went into it interested in five series, and was ordered to watch a sixth.  We're now three episodes into most shows and that means it's time to take a look at what hit with me, what missed, and what failed badly.

Let's see what we can see!

more...

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January 28, 2017

Boat. Train. Boattrain!

Sometimes, you see a picture and you've just got to share it.

click for much much bigger
Rail ferries have long been a thing of course, but this is one of the smallest self-powered ones I've ever seen.  At least, I assume that's a funnel just behind the elevated platform, and I'm betting that's a rudder post on the left side.  And how often have you seen a clipper bow on a barge?  I'm not saying this is seaworthy, mind you, just... well.  Fun photo.

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January 24, 2017

In Formula 1, "Retirement" Means Never Having To Say "I'm Sorry." (UPDATED)

So!  Formula 1 stuff, huh?  Believe it or not, yeppers!  There's been some important news bit percolating up from the coffeepot that is winter break.

First up, remember that whole Nico Rosberg wins the Driver's Championship, then retired thing?  Well, he's still retired.  Mercedes, trying to get the best driver they could to take over his seat, nabbed Valterri Bottas from Williams.  Helluva pickup that, and short of signing someone like Fernando Alonso, probably the best pick they could have made.  But that left one loose end floating about: who was going to fill the seat at Williams vacated by Bottas?  The team couldn't just pick up a kid, because they've already got one in Spear Saunter Lance Stroll, who was filling the seat left vacant by the retirement of Felipe Not Nasr Massa.  So who to pick up?  I hear Jenson Button was available... heh.  No, no, he's taking a year off.  Really, Williams was in a quandry.  Except for drivers like Esteban! or Pastor Maldodo, there wasn't much left on the F1 Driver's Tree.  And then, in a little English town called Wantage just east of Swindon, a small dark man stepped off the Stagecoach Lines bus from Oxford via Faringdon.  He then strolled two or three miles up the A338, past Simply Potty, a charming little pottery shop, then steering clear of the local Vauxhall dealer, he eventually made his way to an unprepossessing roundabout, seemingly in the middle of a field.  From there, he walked up a tree-lined drive to a security office in front of a large, modern-looking building of some sort.  "Hello," said the small dark man, "my name is Felipe Not Retired Massa.  I hear you are looking for a F1 driver, yes?"  Retiring for two months... that's gotta be a record of some sort.

In other retirement news, this one is just beginning to shake out, but it looks like Bernie Ecclestone, longtime CEO and puppetmaster of Formula 1, has been gently edged out of the picture by the incoming Liberty Media Group, the new owner/operators of the sport.  In his place, Ross Brawn, last seen in F1 when he sold his BrawnF1 team to an incoming Mercedes team, has been named the Managing Director of Motor Sports.  The commercial side of Ecclestone's position has been taken by Sean Bratches, a former ESPN executive and arguably the most important figure in the adoption of HD television in the US.  So the little troll is finally, finally gone.  He was probably the most important figure in F1 history, but jeez, enough with him already.

Two months until Melbourne!

UPDATE: So GD asks in comments just what effect Ecclestone's departure will mean to F1 in the short run.  First, I expect that the United States is going to enjoy a Formula 1 Renaissance of sorts.  The Eccletroll made it quite clear that F1 didn't need the United States and the repeated failures here proved that point (in his mind, at least).  That the "failures" came from his lack of interest in promoting anything here in the States would never cross his mind.  Liberty Media is actually an American company, and F1's new CEO, Chase Carey of the Splendid Mustache, is on record saying that he believes the US is an untapped goldmine for F1.

The other near-term thing that'll happen is that we'll see F1 become huge on the web.  The one thing Bernie never "got" was how important the internet is.  As a result, you won't find legal streams of a race or practice anywhere but NBCSN here in America... F1's own website doesn't even have streaming.  There is no legal way to watch a race except through your home provider's network... and NBCSN's feed is fair to awful, usually.  Much the same is true in Europe.  It's actually very hard to find much in the way of highlights on Youtube, and most of them are official F1.com clips.  Those that aren't are either trackside shots, stolen from the Lithuanian broadcast, or on-screen-mirrored and shrunken in quality.  The key word in the new company's name is "MEDIA".  It wouldn't surprise me at all if in the next year or two there's either an official online subscription service for the season, or a PPV-like arrangement for a race weekend.

Longer term, I expect that we'll see a reduction in races at places like Baku or Bahrain... tracks that exist only because people were willing to throw cash at Bernie and have no racing heritage at all.  Along that same vein, places like Silverstone or Monza will not have to deal with the annual jabs from Bernie, about how if they can't pony up the doubloons, F1 won't race there anymore.  Which is like saying baseball won't play at Fenway or Wrigley.  A lot of badmouthing of teams, drivers, and tracks spewed from Bernie, and having that go away is worth the price of admission alone.

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January 23, 2017

WoWs: DIRIGIBLE!

DIRIGIBLE!

DIRIGIBLE!!

DIRIGIBLE!!!

I find myself in a state of peace, for I have seen the dirigible and therefore all is right with the world.  Farewell, sweet airship with a rigid structure covered by an outer skin... until the next time I play the World of Warships map named "Polar."  And you, my readers, may you be fortunate enough to see your own dirigible.

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January 17, 2017

Cubswatch 2016: End Of The Celebration

As you know, I've been reveling in the Cubs winning the World Series this past season.  I'll admit that I'm still at the point of breaking out into a grin whenever I head "the Cubs have won the World Series."  However, every good thing must come, eventually, to an end.  On Monday, Martin Luther King Jr Day, the Cubs paid a visit to the White House.  The resulting event with President Barack Obama was pretty special.

I'm not going to get political, that would go against every reason I created The Pond.  I will say that that was a fun speech from the President, one I didn't think he had in him.

This event seems to be a good time to close the book on the Cubs' amazing 2016 season and to start looking ahead to 2017.  Spring Training is just around the corner... can another World Series run be in the offing?

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January 16, 2017

Perfect Day Engaging In 3... 2... 1... (UPDATED)

I should have known what sort of day this was going to be when I woke up before my alarm, rolled over, curled up perfectly in my comforters... just in time for the alarm to go off.  Never a good sign, that.  After my usual morning peregrinations, I pulled on my fleece and checked the weather forecast for the day.  Freezing drizzle since late last night, changing to flurries and later, all rain.  Sweet.  Out the door of Pond Central I went, down the stairs and was greeted by...

...oh dear.  Sidewalks with no salt or sand, grass with a sheen of water-covered ice, and a weird mix of rain, sleet, and slurry falling from the sky.  The parking lot didn't look much better.  Still, looked doable: just take tiny steps and watch where you're going.  About halfway to the parking lot, I realized the sidewalk was much more ice-covered in front of me, so I diverted towards the lawn.  While my shoes would get wet... there looked to be a good half-inch of water on the ice-covered lawn... that would be much better than slipping.  And then things happened quickly.  One foot shot out from underneath me, the other one sort of flailed at the ground trying to get traction, and...

...the amount of pain engaging my knees was astounding.  I seemed to be in one piece, but I was face down on the grass, already soaked, and then I realized a lot of other things on the front of my body hurt.  I rolled onto by back, and that hurt as well.  Well, nothing for it, gotta stand up no matter how much you hurt.

I couldn't do it.

I couldn't get any lift off my right leg.  Partially because of Holy CREPE my knee hurt, but mostly because of the mud, water and ice I was lying in... my foot couldn't get the traction needed.  Which is when it hit me.

I was going to have to crawl.  If I could make it to the stairwell, I could use the railing there to stand up.  And so I did.  Some twenty minutes after I made impact with the ground, I got back into Pond Central, immediately changed back into sweats and a light sweater, and called into work for the day, explaining just what had occurred.  The news later reported that Duckford had gotten a late start on salting the roads, so they were horrible too... would have made for a fun drive to work, what with it mostly being on tertiary streets and all.

So half a day later, my right knee is swelling, hot, and bright pink.  My right shoulder feels like it got jammed on impact.  My left wrist hurts right where it sits on my keyboard's wristrest.  My back is sore.  Worst of all, my MP3 player has ceased to function.  It looks okay, but the screen doesn't light up, and when I connect it to my computer, nothing shows up.  I'm guessing it being in my right front pants pocket, having me fall on it, then get soaked in freezing water for 20 minutes might have had a deleterious effect on it.

There's always tomorrow.

UPDATE: The MP3 player works!  My cellphone, which had gotten very quiet (both earpiece and external speaker), now works!  My knee... well, it functions.  It's still bright pink, hot and tender.  I'm tentatively declaring my right shoulder "borked."  I can't lift my right arm over my head without a lot of discomfort.  My left wrist now only hurts when I move it.  So that's an improvement.  But the electronic devices work, and that's the important stuff!

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January 15, 2017

Name That Mystery Ship XXXII

It's been nearly a year since I last found something I thought challenging enough for a Mystery Ship competition.  Very late last night (as in 5am late) while looking for something else entirely, I stumbled across the perfect thing!  Ladies and gentlemen, here's your image:

As always, no image searching is allowed... I can't keep you from doing it, but what good is an unearned victory?  CTX and FDM are not allowed to guess (or leave hints) until I let them off the leash.  You get ONE guess, so make it count.  The winner (as declared by me, and my decision is final) will get a post of their very own about anything they want (no pr0n, politics or religion, however) within reason.

Don't just sit there, get to guessing!

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January 13, 2017

National Rubber Duckie Day 2017!

Some say there's something unfortunate about it being the 13th day of a month, and a Friday to boot.  To this, I say "Bah!"  The real thing to celebrate today is more than enough to overawe some dumb "unlucky" day.  For today is National Rubber Duckie Day!

With a cool duck like this, there is nothing to fear.  May your National Rubber Duckie Day be great!

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January 11, 2017

Ten Weeks To Go

Two and a half months to Australia and the start of the 2017 F1 season.  Of course we'll all anticipatory and stuff, but there are others who feel somewhat more... invested, shall we say?

Ten weeks to go.  Ten long weeks to go.  For some, ten VERY long weeks to go.

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January 08, 2017

Oh Yeah! Making Groovy!

I think that 2017 cannot improve upon what I just witnessed, for I have seen 10000 people cheering deliriously as they watch a Japanese hologram dab.

Hatsune Miku - 39 Music! (from Magical Mirai 2016)
How does one top that?

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January 07, 2017

Ducks In Anime: The Grand Return

Did you realize that it's been over a year since the last Ducks In Anime entry that featured an actual rubber duck?  It's time to fix that.

-Seiren, Ep01
Remember Amagami SS?  Essentially the first show to do an omnibus format,  with each girl getting four episodes, based on a PS2 dating sim?  Back in 2010?  No?  Yes?  Well, Seiren is essentially an indirect sequel to Amagami SS, taking place in the same world, in the same school as the older show.  In fact, one of the secondary characters is the younger brother of one of the girls from Amagami.  It looks like Seiren is going to be exactly the same type of series... and that's good, because Amagami was a secret jewel of a show.  If it's anywhere as good as the older series, this one is going to be a great time.

And hey, first episode rubber duck.  That counts for a LOT in my world.

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January 06, 2017

Confirmation Of Suspicions

Back when I watched Interstellar, I was quite enamored of the sparse yet fully orchestrated soundtrack by Hans Zimmer.  However, I couldn't quite get the feeling out of my head that I'd heard it or something like it somewhere before.  Tonight, I stumbled upon this...

...and yup, that's what I was thinking.  The music for Interstellar clearly isn't the same as instrumentation by Philip Glass, but it surely did punch that particular button for me.  I mean, here's the music from the docking scene, called "No Time For Caution"...

...and here's the ending of Koyaanisqatsi, the scene that everybody's seen at least once...

I do hope Zimmer bought Glass a nice dinner first.

(no, this post wasn't an excuse to put music from Interstellar on here.  not at all. why would you think that?)

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January 03, 2017

What's On Your MP3 Player Now, Wonderduck?... still asked by nobody ever.

Caravan Palace - Black Betty

Ramalam.

Apocalyptica w/ Till Lindemann - Helden

How this slipped past me all these years is entirely beyond me.  Apocalyptica is a heavy metal cello trio, and Till Lindemann is the lead singer of Rammstein... and the song is, of course, a cover of David Bowie's "Heroes". 

Want more?  Click...

more...

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December 31, 2016

New Year's Eve, 2016


As 2016 lurches to a halt, it's hard to describe the year as anything but "not good at all."  It goes without saying that this year will be remembered for two things: death and baseball.  In the abstract, what seemed to be a lot of musicians, actors, and other famous beings passed away in 2016, starting with David Bowie at the start of January, and ending with Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds just a few days ago.  In between, of course, was anime blogger and friend to The Pond Steven Den Beste.  And Abe Vigoda cemented his status as meme to boot.

But for me, 2016 will go down as the year the Chicago Cubs won the World Series.  I honestly never thought I'd get to say that, but it actually happened.  And I was happy in a way that I haven't been since that dreadful weekend in 2009.

2016 has been a slog, no question about it.  The Pond has suffered from neglect, work has been rough, and I've seen friendships wither on the vine.  But to you readers who have stuck around, I say thank you.  You make it worthwhile, and you make me want to bring The Pond back to glory.  But mostly I say thank you for being my friends.

And now it is time for the wearing of silly hats, so as to best welcome 2017!

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December 28, 2016

WoWs: Just Battleship Things

Are you guys familiar with the old joke involving a battleship and a lighthouse?  World of Warships lets you repeat it yourself!

I actually really appreciate these little touches the game throws in.  They didn't have to put a lighthouse in the game, or a little town complete with moving milk truck, or things like that, but they did, and it makes it much more fun.  My favorite has to be on the map called "Polar", which has a dirigible floating around it.  The first time I got that map and saw it, I yelled "DIRIGIBLE!!!" in chat, and started giggling.  Then I went out and did something like 120k damage.  Ever since, I can't start playing that map until I see the dirigible.  I've even had my entire team looking for it.  Most of 'em had never seen the dirigible before, can you believe?  To be fair to them, there are other things to be looking at.  Things like...

Kongo!  Yes, I've managed to earn myself a couple of ARP ships.  Funny how that happened... I wasn't even trying, and when I reached the "yay" point the game didn't happen to mention it.  It wasn't until later when I reorganized my ship carousel that ha-ha! there they were.  "They?"  Why yes, "they."  Not only Kongo(-desu), but...

Hiei!  I've actually had better luck with Hiei than Kongo, even though they are exactly the same ship, just with a different paintjob.  I can only assume it's because da red wunz go fasta.  Which make it the exact opposite of...

...the New Mexico, which is not red.  Nor is it fast.  It wouldn't be fast if you threw it off a cliff.  There's nothing it can't turn into flinders and scrap metal, though.  I've had soem very good games with the NMex, including one match pvp match where I deleted two enemy cruisers with two consecutive broadsides.  Maybe they'll learn not to give a battleship their entire side as a target next time.  Even better, the NMex can take a pounding and keep going.  I've seen it bounce Nagato and LOLorado rounds like they were marshmallows.  Which is good, because I'm not entirely skilled in the esoteric world of battleship combat yet.  Gimme something with torpedoes any day.

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December 26, 2016

A Merc Christmas

I just found this... a little late, but still fresh as it were:

Wacky Mercedes... who'da thunk it?

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