November 30, 2006
As regular readers know, The Pond is located near Chicago. If you believe the forecasts, we're currently staring into the barrel of Snowmageddon. A foot or more of the white stuff by noon on Friday, with the worst hitting in the morning.
In preparation for this beast, United Airlines and American Airlines cancelled hundreds of flights into and out of O'Hare for Friday. I saw some quasi-panic buying at the grocery store on the way home from the Duck U. Bookstore this evening ("The End Is Nigh... I need 48 cans of Red Bull!").
This looks like a bad one, but nothing will equal the worst storm I was ever in. Back 15 years ago, I was attending grad school in Minnesota. I Was There during the Great Halloween MegaStorm. The link shows the official numbers, but the real numbers are worse: The Pond (Northern Edition) got 24-1/2 inches of snow in 12 hours.
And after that, the wind jumped to 40-50mph, picked up the top inch or so, and caused blizzard conditions despite it not snowing at the time.
Ever since then, I've not been intimidated by any Illinois storm... but this one looks naughty.
UPDATE 827am: There's six inches or so on The Pond's balcony, and the worst of the storm is reportedly still yet to come. Duck U. is opening at noon.
ANOTHER UPDATE 1101am: Duck U. isn't going to open today, which is smart. Took 'em long enough to decide that, considering that there's another three inches of snow on my balcony since the last update. The town of Duckford has declared a 'State of Emergency'. I think that's a little extreme, but then, I haven't left The Pond at all. Nor do I have a particular desire to do so. Maybe to brush off the Duckmobile later.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE 1235pm: And the snow stopped, as predicted, at noon. Now the shoveling begins...
STILL YET ANOTHER UPDATE 110pm: The Duckmobile is cleaned off, but I'm not going anywhere. The parking lot of The Pond hasn't been plowed yet, and the idiots around here can't understand that if they try to get out of the KNEE-DEEP SNOW with their riddly-plink POS cars, they're gonna get stuck... and they have. The way to get out is to take it in small bites, a foot at a time or so, not to take it all in one go.
And to wait for the plow. Now, if the internet goes out, or even worse the power, I might be able to get out, but only in that level of an emergency. more...
November 29, 2006
But, in the past, the other four races were televised by CBS. CBS provided their own announcers, and to be brutally honest, they stunk on ice. They sucked, and they sucked bad. The pictures, of course, were provided by the usual FIA feed, but the announcers were able to completely ruin even the most dramatic race (remember Imola 2005? Where Alonso held off Schumi for 13 or 14 laps? I don't... but I DO remember one of the announcers and his now-infamous "they're CRASHING over the curbs!" Over and OVER and OVER again...).
Well, NO MORE! Effective this season, the four races not broadcast on SPEED will be on FOX, who provide such astounding coverage of NASCAR races. But, more importantly, the announcers will be...
Bob Varsha. David Hobbs. Steve Matchett.
The Legendary Announce Team from SPEED, in other words. Even Peter "Smarmy" Windsor in the pitlane will be there.
But wait, there's more! Where CBS used to broadcast all four races on tape-delay, FOX will do two of them LIVE... the GP of Canada, and the USGP. The French and British GP will still be on tape-delay, however.
This might just get more people in the US watching... Mallory, the Official First Reader, e-mailed me to mention that the Legendary Announce Team is the reason she started watching F1 regularly; their insightful and funny commentary drew her in. The Pond's F1 coverage is an attempt to emulate their style.
This is VERY good news.
November 28, 2006
She said something about having "Shhhhhhh Elbow," an occupational hazard for Librarians worldwide.
(actually, it's much more prosaic than that; an unscheduled visit from The Librarian's Mother, also known as "The Evil One." Please note that that's a term of endearment. I'm not entirely sure where it comes from, as The Librarian's Mother is a very cool person.)
So I have to try and control my lust to watch more CCS for another week. Well, I've got plenty of fansubs to catch up with. Kanon 2006, the reimaged Negima!?, Crescent Love, Death Note (which The Librarian has at The Library in manga form, and talked me into d/l'g for her... which, of course, sucked me in), and Otome wa Boku ni Koishiteru, which Ubu's rantings convinced me to give a shot.
I've also realized that somewhere down the line, I somehow got the first episode of Kasimasi: Girl Meets Girl, which seems to be a perfect candidate for a "First Episode Review" soon...
November 27, 2006
Ah, Midwest, could I love you more?
For what it's worth, Anime Night (featuring The Librarian) is Tuesday night; another CCS update should follow along shortly thereafter.
November 25, 2006
November 24, 2006
Anyway, after great food and conversation, we broke out the remains of PockyPalooza II: Electric Boogaloo, settled into our usual seats, and fired up the DVD player. This week's episodes mostly DIDN'T center on Sakura, oddly enough. Ep22, "Sakura and her Kind Father", centers on her father (duh); Ep23, "Sakura, Tomoyo, and Wonderful Songs", hits Tomoyo (and has the cutest outfit for Kero-Chan yet); Ep25 was "Sakura and Another Sakura", which leans on her brother and The Mirror card heavy, and Ep26 introduces a new character with "Sakura and the Wonderful Teacher". The only episode that really centered on Sakura was 24, "Sakura's Little Adventure."
Episode 22 might be my favorite so far. The relationship between Sakura, her father, and her brother really does seem to be 'perfect.' They're all completely devoted to each other, and not in a sappy way, either. In this world of video games and iPod earbuds blocking out reality, it was really refreshing.
But as is usual when The Librarian and I get togther, our senses of humor heterodyned and we just started riffing on the show. For example, bet you didn't know that Sakura's father is sleeping with his 'Research Assistant', did you? Or that The Mirror is simply Tomoyo's greatest fantasy come true?
Really, we're spending more time having fun with the show than watching it. We'd probably drive serious fans crazy.
We discovered that the Clow Cards have realized that someone's hunting them... and they ain't happy 'bout it. Things are gonna get nasty, I think. Heck, The Mirror already tried to kill Toya by making him walk off a cliff (successfully... I mean, "successfully walk off a cliff," not "successfully killed Toya." Toya can be pretty dumb at times.). I'm wondering what the cost to Sakura will be in the end...
Gotta keep giving this show huge approval ratings. I'm even going to say that it's BETTER than my favorite show, Azumanga Daioh... but it's not going to move AzuDai out of that slot. But it'll be 2nd with a bullet, that's for sure.
Anyway, after the episodes were over for the night, The Librarian and I wound up discussing the Holiday season, and how much we don't much like it... while standing in the kitchen, for some reason. Oddly, we both said that we don't like the Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year stretch, and it's not because we worked retail and hated the incessant crowds and evil customers...
(Digression: we've both either had books thrown at us, or have been in charge when something like that happened. We both ran mall bookstores for the same chain, which is how we became friends... it's been five or six years since she worked for them, four or five for me, but we stayed close. End Digression.)
...except I think, for both of us, at least some of our dislike comes from that. Not all, but there's a sliver of deep, deep hatred for people because of our experiences in retail.
Did I mention Sakura had bunny ears in one episode?
(image from the AMV "Lollipops, Sunshine, and rrrRRRrrr" by Dokidoki. A must watch if you're a CCS fan!)
November 23, 2006
...from the entire Wonderduck family!
November 21, 2006
SDB replied, "Ain't nobody here but us chickens, Boss."
Flash-forward to today, mid-November. I'm notified that there's a new comment to that post... which these days usually means 'oh boy, new comment spam, whee." But no! It appears to be a real person named Jody, who asks:
"Can anyone tell me where the quote "Nobody here but us chickens, boss" comes from?"
Which I can answer! It's from a song (though the saying probably predates the tune) called "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens." Which, it goes without saying, has been done numerous times by numerous bands, my favorite of which is The Bobs... aka "The World's Greatest Acapella Band." You can see a video of them doing "Chickens" RIGHT HERE!
Actually, the only videos of The Bobs that I can find online truly don't do them justice. For example, I first saw them perform in 1995 or so (at which point, I'd been listening to them for 10 years), with their best lineup: Janie Bob, Joe Bob, Matthew Bob, and Richard Bob. Seeing Janie and Joe just shred on their cover of "White Room" (done without any microphone tricks) was amazing.
And puts THIS version of "White Room" to shame. Amy Bob and Dan Bob are quite good, but watching Joe Bob Finetti do the guitar solo without any electronic trickery (or Janie Bob slamming her mic stand to the ground as she tore into the lyrics) was a special treat.
For more info on The Bobs, go to www.bobs.com, or search myspace for them.
You'll be glad you did.
November 19, 2006
It's Sunday... they were all watching football.
By the way, Bears win over the Jets, 10-0. 9-1, baby!
Now, see, I don't happen to agree with the view that 'going green' is going all wussy-treehuggy. In fact, considering the history of F1 as the technological leader in motorsports, it's exactly the right thing to do.
Hell, if they could make an electric-motor-powered F1 car that could go (say) 200mph for 250 miles (or signifigant fractions thereof with pitstops) without burning gasoline, I think that'd be amazingly cool. If they could do those numbers running on any number of green technologies, that'd be fantastic.
If it kills the speeds, however, or makes the cars only go 5 laps between pitstops, then forget it. But technological advances are not to be shunned in F1; remember that F1 has ALWAYS been the leader in motorsports technology... and F1 tech flows down to our cars. Disc brakes, turbochargers, tire makeup, antilock braking systems (and traction control)... all worked out in F1 before they made it to our humble Toyotas and Chryslers. Why NOT 'green' tech?
Besides, who knows? Maybe they'll have something like garbage-powered Ferraris.
And there will always be people like Steven DenBeste, who think that F1 is vaguely pansyish anyway. Amazing that someone so smart can be so dumb, but what can you do, huh?
November 18, 2006
Just don't have a bunch to say these days, I guess.
I know quite a few peope who would be cheering after reading that last sentence...
November 16, 2006
Did I say 'Beer'?
Half of Niagra Falls.
...and, most importantly: YOUPPI!
November 15, 2006
To finish up with PockyPalooza II: Electric Boogaloo, we dug into the three remaining boxes of Pocky: Strawberry Chunk, Almond Crunch, and the famously named Men's Pocky.
The Strawberry Chunk supposedly was the basic strawberry pocky, with little pieces of chocolate buried in it. As I'm not a fan of artificial strawberry flavoring, this was my least favorite of the three. The Librarian, though, dug it like strawberry was going out of style. One thumb up, one wingtip down. Not awful, but not great.
The Almond Crunch looked like a small stick coated with sharp rocks and chocolate. Fortunately, the taste was much better than the look: pretty much like a peanut M&M on a cookie. One thumb up, one wingtip up. Pretty tasty, I'd order it in the future.
Finally, the long awaited Men's Pocky. Surprise #1: each pack of sticks was actually HEAVY. Lots of pocky in each one, and each stick is about twice the diameter of a normal biscuitstick. The flavor? Honestly, it tastes about the same as a regular chocopocky. It's supposed to be bittersweet; it seems in the Japanese culture, men aren't supposed to go for sweet flavors, so Glico made this. Maybe it was just me, but it really wasn't any different than the stuff in the red boxes. One thumb, one wingtip up, but a slight bit of disappointment in there.
Onto Cardcaptor Sakura! We made it through another five episodes, bringing us to ep21. The long-dreaded Lei Meilin has appeared, and boy, Steven, you weren't whistlin' dixie about her. I will say that her Death Stares at Sakura have been pretty funny, though. So far, the series doesn't really have an 'evil' character, but she's up there on the "annoying and despised" scale... somewhere around "Michael Schumacher", just above "Shinji", just below "Pikachu" and "Satan."
The unintentional comedy was almost absent, though. Oh, we made our usual little jokes (Sakura is lying on her bed, arms above her head, Kero-chan floating above her. The Bondage jokes came fast and furious...), but really there wasn't that much to poke fun at. Darn. :-)
Truthfully, the five episodes this night were the most disappointing so far. Really GOOD, but not as flat-out entertaining as in the past. The "scary test of courage" episode had a couple of nice sight gags (and I WANT a pair of glasses that go opaque and shine when I'm being naughty!!!), but otherwise was pretty 'meh.' The Summer Festival almost had Sakura confess to Yukino, but that fell through... and the Glow Card might be the most pointless of the bunch. Holiday Homework had a moment where I was sure Sakura was on LSD.
(As an aside, The Librarian was seriously vexed by the portrayal of librarians in this episode. "What sort of librarian says 'the book is somewhere in the library?' That's just wrong. And where are the librarian's heads? Literally! They cut them off with the top of the frame, or they're turned away from the camera, or..." She stopped there, looking ready to kill. Rule #1: Don't Screw With A Librarian.)
And then Meilin arrived. Moment of the night #1: when The Fight card kicked her into the next timezone. Moment of the night #2: when Meilin sprained her ankle during the marathon and faceplanted into the street. Pure comedy gold.
One final note. I've not mentioned one highpoint of the show, and that's the sound effects being used for comedy. Meilin gives Sakura a deathstare, Sakura recoils in fear... and there's the sound of a rubber duck. One of Sakura's friends bounces a beach-ball off someone's head, and you get a 'boing' and a clattering crash sound. It's hard to explain with words, but if you watch the series, pay attention to the sounds. It's enough to make me and The Librarian laugh out loud at times.
Two wingtips waaaaaaaaaaaaay up for CCS. I just hope that, when the show inevitably turns serious, they don't get too far away from what's made it good: Sakura, and an underlying sense of humor that shows that the show doesn't take itself too seriously.
November 12, 2006
Hey, Comment Spammers... Osaka's got something for you:
Bastiches! All of 'em, bastiches!
November 10, 2006
Treehugger? Nope, just Ayu.
November 09, 2006
(note: there is no WAY I could let "Haruhi II: The Wrath of Kyon" sit in someone else's comments without my making it into a post... even a short one like this. I think it's just too good! Um... is that all right, Haruhi?
November 08, 2006
"Look, Pixy Misa just ordered Ikki Tousen. Girls High isn't as bad as that. (It can't possibly be.)"
Yes, it can. MUCH worse.
We're now four full DVDs into the show, and there's still no end to the fun it's bringing us (which is a good thing... four DVDs finished means there's still 14 DVDs left to go!), both intentionally and unintentionally. This really is shaping up to be an amazing show, quality-wise. The animation has been top-shelf. The story, though 'monster-of-the-week', hasn't been dull... the Clow Cards have all been interesting enough to keep our attention. While I don't think CCS will supplant Azumanga Daioh as my favorite anime of all-time, it's going to be right up there.
But Oh! That unintentional humor will kill us yet. Episode 16, "Sakura and the Rainbow of Memories," which was one of the first NOT to feature the hunt for a Clow Card, had us in unintentional humor hell. Short (EPISODE SPOILER) version of the story: Sakura, her family, and Yuuki take a weekend vacation to a country house, Sakura meets her great-grandfather who lives in a house down the road. Sounds simple enough, right? Except she doesn't know it's her great-grandfather, because nobody ever tells her... including GGF himself! He just misses his granddaughter, Sakura's mother. (END SPOILER).
But, since WE don't know that until the end of the episode, the story is a little creepy in our era of Amber Alerts and "cyber-predators," and for once we're not talking about Tomoyo... well, yes, her too, but she's only in one scene (and it's one of the creepier ones for her so far).
The old man asks Sakura, amongst other things, to play in his dead granddaughter's room, play tennis with him, have tea (who made that?), and dress up in some old clothes... all the while, The Librarian and I couldn't help but make jokes about "Sakura disappearing, never to be seen again," or "the amazingly realistic female dolls (ahem) in the closet... and the crawlspace... hanging from a rope in the ceiling...", and so forth. Good times, good times.
Tomoyo couldn't come along on the trip... band practice or some such thing... and since her mother is gone "on a business trip," she's all alone. So what does she do? Bow-chicka-bow-bowwww, she's watching some of the Sakura videos she's shot on her projection screen TV. In the dark. Alone.
But it turns out that her mother ISN'T on a business trip. Remember when I asked who made the tea? Turns out that it was Tomoyo's mother! She's at the Creepy Old Guy's house, too... makes sense, since Sakura's mom and she were bestest friends, she'd undoubtably stay in touch, right? So she stole away from her own daughter to serve Sakura (she even says so at the end of the episode)!
Nice mom... that whole family is seriously screwed up, y'know that?!?!
Good times, good times.
The Elephant Throwing Contest in e13 was pretty good (and Li Shaoran proved he can be an awful dick when he wants to be. This time, though, he did it to a Clow Card, not to Sakura, so that's okay)... and e15 saw Kero-Chan and Sakura have a lover's spat... actually, two or three.
But cross-dressing Toya in a production of Cinderella had The Librarian and I near tears in e14. We also see signs that there's more to Toya and Yukito's friendship than just being friends. My god, three quarters of the characters in this show are gay, lesbian, or stalkers!
Man, it's fun!
Seriously. Go watch this series. Now.
November 07, 2006
I'm open to suggestions, though. Got anything you folks would like The Pond to look at?
November 05, 2006
Negima?!. Where Kanon 2006 is a remake of a series that aired in 1999, this is a remake of a show that aired... in 2005? I haven't seen the original, so I've nothing to compare the remake to, other than some AMVs I've watched. The animation looks better to my eye. Enjoyed the first three episodes, but the main story seems to start with ep4, which hasn't come out on fansub yet.
Crescent Love. Ooboo Roy's been ripping this show pretty hard (and as I went over there to get the link, I see that he's posted something covering two of the three shows I'm talking about here... I'll read it after I'm done posting this). It's generally getting reviews ranging from 'eh' to 'blech.' Me, I'm enjoying it. There's nothing NEW in it: stranger-in-a-strange-land Moon Princess visits Earth, where she homestays with Our Hero, His Younger Sister, and His Older Sister (WHOOPS! This originally said "mom." Thanks for pointing out the correct relationship, Ubu!) . The Childhood Friend is in there, too, as the Rival Love Interest. Throw into blender. Frappe'. Cliche' for days, right? Right. But sometimes a cliche' is what you WANT.
Look at the first two shows on this list: Kanon 2006 and Negima?! are both drama shows, with a smidge of humor. The other show I'm watching, Welcome to the NHK! is black humor, about a hikikomori (and once I catch up on it, I'll be writing it up).
Crescent Love is, like World of Narue, fluff. The girls are cute, the plot (such as it is) is inoffensive, and the humor is light. So what if the show is 'uncool'? I'm enjoying it, probably more than the other shows I've talked about in this post, simply because it IS fluff.
Besides, I wake up like this, too:
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