April 30, 2006

F1 UPDATE!: San Marino!!!

Ahhhhhhhhhh... the Legendary Announce Team. All is right with the world. Lets get right to it!

*HAVEN'T WE SEEN THIS BEFORE?: No, we're not talking about this particular race (which, of course, was butchered on CBS). We're talking about these two cars, running on this track, dicing for first place for an extended period of time. Like, say, last year? It just amazes us that this sort of thing can happen... serendipity, we suppose.

*IS THAT ALL THERE IS?: Thanks, Italian TV, for giving us the in-depth coverage of Alonso vs Schumaker. In the future, however, would it be too much to ask for a few other cars, too? There WERE other racers on the track... not that you could tell from the Italian coverage, however.

*GOODBYE, IMOLA... YOU KNOW THE REST.: They're going to be remodling Imola; Variante Bassa will disappear, replaced by a widened and modernized pitlane. Maybe we'll see a track that people can pass on now.

*TEAM OF THE RACE: Ferrari. As much as it pains me to say it, Ferrari. Particularly after the nightmare they had in Australia, 1st/4th is a fantastic result. But it IS Imola, and Ferrari ALWAYS does well at Imola.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE: Slappy. We're going to go kill ourselves now.

*MOVE OF THE RACE: We've been told that Mark Webber had a big pass on Barrichello, but nobody got to see it due to the love affair Italian TV had with the color red. So Webbo gets it on word-of-mouth.

*MOOOOOOOO-O-O-OVE OF THE RACE: We've got two for your enjoyment this race! The first, on lap one, goes to Fast Yuji Ide, for his... um... ham-fisted driving that launched Christian Albers into a quadruple roll with a half-twist. 9.5, with a 4.3 from the East German judge, he didn't like that at all.
The second bovine manuever goes, not to a driver, but to the lollypop man for Honda. There was absolutely no sign that Jensen Button's 2nd stop was finished; the tires were on, but the fuel hose was clearly still attached. Still, up the lollypop went and off Jense went... dragging half the pitcrew with him, ripping the nozzle off the fuel rig, and nearly guillotining the driver with the lollypop. Thankfully, the safety devices on the fuel rig worked perfectly, but even so some amount of fuel DID spill. Somehow, it didn't ignite. Moo!


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April 29, 2006


Things that I've wondered about:

*How does a six-point harness work? The shoulder and lap straps are pretty obvious, but I don't understand the leg straps.

*If F1 cars could 'drive on the ceiling," could they put vertical loops on the track, like we did with Hot Wheels?

*If we DO the Hot Wheels thing, where would we get the giant chair?

*Why did I think this was going to be funny?

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April 28, 2006

12 Teams.

The FIA has released the official list of teams for 2008. The participants are:

BMW Sauber F1 Team
Honda Racing F1 Team
MF1 Racing
Red Bull Racing
Mild Seven Renault F1 Team
Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro
Super Aguri F1 Team
Scuderia Toro Rosso
Panasonic Toyota Racing
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
Williams F1 Team
...and Prodrive.

Prodrive is a company with long, long history in racing. According to their website, they 'managed the BAR F1 team,' have won six World Rally Championships with Subaru, won the British Touring Car Championship five times with multiple teams, and run a private Ferrari team in the 24 Hours of Lemans (as well as other international sports-car teams).

This isn't going to be another quick and dirty SuperAguri style team, folks... this is going to be an honest-to-god Factory team, it looks like. Granted, it's a factory we haven't HEARD of (I mean, it's no Ferrari), but it's still a 'factory'.

Is anybody surprised that Paul Stoddard got rejected? European Minardi would have been great to have back, and it's not impossible that he might try to pick up a team (like Midlands, maybe?) when they want to get out of the game, but as of right now, Guido Minardi is out.

Oh well, at least we got Super Aguri!

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April 27, 2006

"Schumi wins!" "NOT so fast..."

Guess which red team might have been caught cheating... AGAIN.

That's right! FERRARI! It seems that they're doing the thing with the flexible wing again, except this time it's the entire rear wing flexing downwards, not just a tiny bit of it closing up a gap.

During Imola, it seems that the Ferraris were a good 7kph faster than everybody else in a straight line, and it's suspected it's because of the flexi rear wing. If it was another team, they'd probably be DQ'd from the race and suspended for a couple more (Honda, anybody?), but since we're talking about the My Little Pony team, nothing will happen.

Seems kinda pointless sometimes, doesn't it?

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April 26, 2006

Random F1 Notes

Some little bits of information from the F1 Circus today:

Super Aguri has delayed the new car again. Originally planned to have debuted last weekend at Imola, it had been pushed back to Silverstone in June. Now they're saying France in July. It seems that Honda is being stingy with gearbox parts.

In other SA news, they're finally going to be using a third driver for testing. Starting at the next race (the Euro GP), former Renault testdriver Franck Montagny will be sitting in the third Arrows chassis. One might think that Yuji Ide's replacement has been found.

One might be right, too. Zsolt is cracking his knuckles offstage.

In other Shadow of Zsolt-related news, there's been a Vitantonio Liuzzi sighting at Red Bull. He's testing at Silverstone this week, which has GOT to be aimed square at Christian Klein. Dietrich Mateschitz, team owner for RB, has gone on record saying that for the money he's pouring into Red Bull, particularly with the signing of car designer Adrian Newey, the 2nd driver for the team has GOT to be as good as David Coulthard's Chin. Klein hasn't been, and so Liuzzi is getting some seat time.

...and Zsolt chuckles, ready for his second go-round with Klien.

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April 25, 2006

PockyPalooza: The Reckoning

Right, as you all know, PockyPalooza 2006 was last Friday. My friend, The Librarian, came over to The Pond and after a dinner of Chinese carryout, we popped in World of Narue and began our assault on the stack of pocky. Our assessment of each type follows:

*Purple Sweet Mousse (or Mouse as it's listed on the receipt): By far the least favorite of the assembled masses. The odor was off-putting, the texture odd, and the flavor may as well have BEEN Purple Sweet Mouse... lets draw a veil over this one and move on.

*Mont Blanc Decorer: Why they just didn't call it "mocha" and get it over with is beyond me, it'd probably sell better. Smells like coffee, tastes like coffee... I can understand why the Official Overseas Reader thinks it's great for dunking. The Librarian liked this one more than myself, as I'm not a coffee fan.

*Winter Special: The Pocky version of Hershey's 'Special Dark' chocolate... in other words, mmm-MMM! Nummymuffincoocolbutter! Like normal chocolate pocky but a little more bitter, and with a thicker coating than the norm.

*Peach & Strawberry Decorer: Another strong smeller. This is not a selling point unless you like the smell of chemicals. The peach flavor is barely discernable. The decorating stripes are a nice look, though.

*White Chocolate Decorer: ...for Teh Winn! White chocolate with white chocolate decorating stripes, perfect texture, great taste, though a little bit unnatural. #2 on my list of the "Pocky I Want To Eat Again."

*Custard Fondu Mousse: #1 on my list of "Pocky I Want To Eat Again." Soft sweet coating, tasted like I was eating vanilla pudding on a cookie. Wow, this was good stuff!

*Choco Mousse: Also really good. Same as above, except chocolate pudding on a cookie.

The winner of PockyPalooza 2006, as voted upon by the Duck and The Librarian: White Chocolate Decorer by a nose!

(Note: the Caplico Cone Sticks were not judged to be worthy of the contest. They weren't awful, particularly if you like the taste of ice-cream cones without the ice cream, but I'm not going to buy them again.)

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Six Months Ago.

Today is the six month anniversary of the most frightening thing I've ever had happen to me.

On October 25th, 2005, I suffered "The Incident."

Since then, I've had no repeat, no difficulties of any kind. I'm not proclaiming myself 'healthy,' but it's clear I've dodged a bullet.

I said it back then, and I'll say it now: If something weird is happening to your heart, CALL 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY! It may save your life... it may have saved mine.

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Some Light F1 Humor.

So what happens when you put a Mercedes sports car and a Mercedes sedan on Silverstone... and give them a 70 second head-start on a 1997 McLaren F1 driven by David Coulthard?

Find out HERE.

For some reason, I was giggling uncontrollably during most of it.

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April 23, 2006

#200. NOT F1 UPDATE!: San Marino.

Fellow F1 fans, the Duck has a problem.

I can't do the F1 UPDATE! for San Marino yet. The TV coverage that we here in the US was so dreadful that I can't tell you what happened during the race, because I DON'T KNOW.

Yes, I can say that Slappy had a spectacular drive, and that he held off Alonso for 15 laps, give or take a few. But that's about all, because according to CBS, that's all that happened. There were only four cars in the race after the first lap: 2 Ferraris, one Renault, and Jensen Button's Honda.

And the Honda was there only because of the pitlane incident.

I can't tell you who was third in the race. Oh, yes, I know that JP Montoya was third, but that's only because the websites told me. We never saw him, and the Derek Daly/Ralph Shaheen combo never mentioned him. Mark Webber finished sixth, a fantastic result for him and Williams... but we only found out about it when the FIA scrolled the positions. I never heard it mentioned by CBS.

Going by the CBS coverage, the only car that DNF'd the race was Christian Albers' Midland... we never heard about any of the others. There were two yellow flags that they missed altogether, despite the graphic at the top of the screen.

F1 UPDATE!: San Marino will go up after I watch the SPEEDchannel coverage next weekend... maybe then I'll have some idea of what happened. As for right now, however, all I'll say is congrats to Michael Schumacher for his win... because that's all I CAN say.

(Edit: ...and if I hear Daly say "They're CRASHING over the CURBS" one more time, I'm going to fly to where-ever he lives, tie him to a chair, begin a playback of the race, and hit him in the kneecaps with a tire-iron every time he says it!)

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By now...

...the San Marino GP is over. Not for us here in the US, though, since we don't get to see it for another hour and a half. THANKS, CBS!

By the way, this is post #199. The F1 UPDATE!'ll be post #200... which'll be better than #100, that's for sure.

#100 was titled "WHOOOOO-oops." and dealt with Ric Flair's arrest for assaulting a man. Yeesh.

AND it's my birthday, to boot.

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April 22, 2006

San Marino: Slappy 66

At the track that was Senna's, Slappy Schumacher succeeded in taking the final F1 record that had been eluding him: Career Poles. Today's pole position was his 66th, breaking the late Ayrton Senna's record.

Truly amazing.

Also amazing: #2 and #3 on the grid are NOT Raikkonen, Alonso, Montoya or Fisichella, but Jensen Button and Rubens Barrichello, the Honda pair. For Barrichello, this is vindication of everything he's been saying, that the car hasn't worked for him. The Honda crew adjusted and tweaked his car and lo! it's worked.

Now can they keep it up for a whole race, and get Honda their first win? Can Button get his first win (and go a long way to bringing my prediction for two wins true)? Or will Ralfy-boy get Toyota's first from 6th? Or will Massa win in front of his home fans from 4th?

We'll see on Sunday!

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April 21, 2006

Practice at Imola

Okay, lets face it. The news that Alonso had fast lap in 2nd Practice isn't really news. Nor is it news, really, that Slappy Schumacher was second (and it seemed that he was first in 1st Practice); this is about as close to a "home track" for him (and Ferrari) as you can get without actually racing at Maranello.

No, the IMPORTANT news is that the course at Imola has been changed from last year, and it will be drastically different NEXT year.

This year, they tightened up the Variante Alta chicane. Last year, it was very much a straight with an almost diagonal link it in... about as wimpy a chicane as you could get. The curbs that seemed like they were a foot high made it difficult (and gave F1 UPDATE! it's favorite moment from last year's race: Patrick Friesacher's Minardi driving the line perfectly thru Variante Alta... sideways and airborne), however, and made Slappy's pass on Jense Button last year evern more amazing.

This year, it's almost like two hairpins, so sharp is the first part of it. It's absolutly a Z shape. Alas, they've lowered the curbs so the drivers don't have to worry about leaving the bottom of their car behind.

Next year, though... by this time next year, they'll have remodeled the entire track. In doing so, Variante Bassa will be removed. Other changes will be made to the pit lane, so as to make it wider (which is GOOD... Massa almost pronged himself into the wall coming out of his garage, the lane is so narrow). Other changes will be made as well, so as to remove any of the 'old' flavor of Imola. Which, of course, is best known for that miserable, tragic weekend in 1994.

Maybe now, 12 years on, we can start to put that behind us.

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April 20, 2006

Good News, Bad News, No News.

Good news: Clowns didn't eat me.

Bad news: District Manager didn't name me Manager of the Duck U. Bookstore.

No News: YET. We'll have a decision "by next Friday."

So the fretting and stress will go on for at least another week. I've actually past the point where I just want it over. I'm to the point where I no longer CARE if I get the job. I've been assured of keeping my position as Assistant Manager if they name someone else, so I won't be unemployed.

I just want them to name SOMEone. I've been in limbo now for over five months.

Oh, and there's a F1 race this weekend... on my birthday, no less. As a present, I'd like to see Super Aguri on the podium. Or Zsolt Baumgartner have a drive.

Hey, everybody's gotta have a dream.

The 'funny' thing is that this was the race that S.A. was supposed to have their new car. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they don't. Really, it's a miracle that they're racing at all; three months from startup to first race would strain a major name team like Ferrari or McLaren after all. Sure, they're not competitive yet, but S.A. is getting race experience, with zero pressure or expectations.

If they ever DO field a modern car, having these races under their belt can only help.

Friday night is PockyPalooza 2006, so F1 UPDATE!'s report on the 2nd Friday practice session will be delayed.

In other F1 news, my BATracer F1 2006 league is in the final few races, and I've got a 9 point lead for the driver's championship. I've won 4 races, had pole 9 times, and had 3 fastest laps... IN A TORO ROSSO. Second is a Renault entry, so it's not like the league is completely ack-bassward.

How's everybody else's entries? Would there be any interest in a 'private league'?

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April 19, 2006

Hell Day is Thursday.

Can't blog, clowns'll get me.

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April 18, 2006

PockyPalooza '06!

So as y'all know, this is aiming to be a rough week for everyone's favorite duck. As a reward for surviving, my friend The Librarian and I are going to have a special event on Friday night:


Now, 'round The Pond, you can only get Pocky at three places: a Japanese teppan/sushi house (great food, but a little pricy), a Wal-Mart, and a "World Market." But in all three cases, all you can get is the original chocolate Pocky and Strawberry Pocky.

But for this to be POCKYPALOOZA 2006, we had to have more than just those! So I fired up Robert's Anime Corner Store on the ol' computer and placed an order for some different types of the yummy snack!

Purple Sweet Mousse Pocky (amusingly called "Purple Sweet MOUSE" on the receipt)! Mont Blanc Decorer Pocky! Winter Special Pocky! Peach & Strawberry Decorer Pocky! White Chocolate Pocky! Custard Fondu Mousse Pocky! Choco Mousse Pocky! Even some Caplico Cone Sticks, just for the heck of it.


(edit: Forgot to mention just how great Robert's Anime Corner Store is! I placed the order late on Wednesday, and it shipped early on Friday. There was a delay in getting it here, but that was on UPS's end, not RACS'. When it arrived, it was VERY well packaged, no damage to any of the pockyboxes, nor to the other stuff I ordered. I've found a new place to get my anime fix from, that's for darn sure... and they do overseas orders, too!)

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April 17, 2006

They're Cursed...

First Jordan essentially went belly-up, unable to afford the obscene costs of running a F1 team, even a backmarker in their final years.

Now the team that bought out Jordan, Midland MF1, is pulling a Black Knight on us: "It's just a flesh wound."

Rumors abound that Alex Schnaider, the Russian owner of Midland, is seriously balking at the amount of money his team is hemmoraging, and various team-members are about to follow sporting director Adrian Burgess out of the door at a dead run.

In true "Baghdad Bob" fashion ("There are no Americans in the city. None! Never mind the US flags flying around the capital, the Americans are nowhere near here!"), Midland released a statement to the press, saying in part that the team is NOT for sale ("except to the highest bidder."), they'll be upgrading their infrastructure ("ooh, shiny new wrenches!"), and that the media is all to blame anyway.

That's what they said.

My prediction? By 2008, they'll be gone... and Guido Minardi will be owning the team!

The Spectre of Zsolt (The Pond's version of the Grim Reaper) floats over the team even now...

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April 16, 2006

Happy Easter!

For those of you that celebrate, of course. If you don't, enjoy Sunday. If it's not Sunday where you are, then... um... enjoy the day at work?

Now I'm off for a slice or two of pig, slathered in lingonberry, a scoop or two of corn souffle, and my family!

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April 15, 2006

F1 on SPEED! Oh, and CBS too, unfortunately.

It's sad, really. We've waited three weeks for the next race of the F1 season and what are we going to get?


Announcers that haven't the faintest idea what they're talking about, even though one of them was a F1 driver! Announcers that say things like "The brakes can reach temperatures just over 1100 degrees Fahrenheit."

Uh-huh. Change the 'F' to a 'C', or add 700 F., and you're in the right ballpark.

Or how about "If your wondering why the crew is sitting in the garage with their helmets on…" Probably for the same reason NASCAR pit crews, IRL crews, CART crews, and just about ANY PRO RACING LEAGUE pit crews do, you morons.

And my favorite: "Those brakes are really glowing a lot…he must have a problem."

*drumming fingers on tabletop*

Look, I know announcing a race is a difficult thing. But could you at LEAST know a little bit about what's going on out there? Heck, the race is on TAPE DELAY. You can record your coverage at your leisure! Please try to get it right for the broadcast, mmmkay?

Before CBS' Sunday debacle, we DO get to have some professional coverage from SPEED. Friday morning from 7a to 8a, they'll cover practice LIVE from Imola.

Saturday, April 22nd, they'll give us "Inside Formula 1," brought to us by Allianz... Allianz: We Do Things. That'll be from 1230am to 1am. Immediately following that, they bring us a replay of that practice session from 1am to 2am.

At 7am, we'll get live coverage of the Qualifying session... and then they're done with F1 coverage until next week, when they'll replay THEIR broadcast of the race (last year, they had a doozy to work with... remember the Alonso/Schumi battle?).

This week IS the season debut of GP2 on SPEED. 12 noon on Saturday, and 5am on Sunday, both live I think.

Sunday is the race, tape-delayed on your local CBS station, at 1pm. Just count our blessings that we get the good coverage later.

All times, as usual, are Central. Add one hour for Eastern time, subtract two hours for Pacific, add the square-root of twiddly-two for Luxembourg.

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April 13, 2006

21 Days.

"I know what will keep the fans wanting more, my master."

The Emperor Mosely, resplendent in his Ferrari Red hooded cape, gestured. "Speak, Darth Bernie. Tell me your plan."

"We should make them wait three weeks between races."

The Emperor thought for a moment, then his visage split in a hideous grin. "Excellent. You have done well, my apprentice. Go celebrate... flay the skin off of Flavio Briatore's bones for daring to run a winning team that isn't Ferrari."

"Yes, my master," said the Dark Lord of F1. "And then I will deny Paul Stoddard a re-entry into racing as a garnish."


Oh, sure, like YOU don't think that's how they act when the cameras are off?

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April 12, 2006

Comfort Food.

Ever have one of those days? Ever have it stretch out to cover a week? How about one week stretching to cover a whole month?

That's me these days. As many of you know, I'm the acting store manager of the Duck U. Bookstore. I started in that position back in November, when the store manager went on maternity leave... but she never came back, deciding instead to be a stay-at-home mom (and who could blame her?).

Since she left to expel her parasite, though, I've had THREE different district managers. I've had to interview for the position of store manager with four other people, and I've got another one (with the newest district manager) coming up towards the end of next week.

Throw in the time of year, when the Spring semester is drawing towards a close (which means textbook buyback) and both Summer AND Fall semester textbook adoption forms are due in, and I'd be hard-pressed to do my job anyway... my OLD job, back when there was both an assistant manager (moi, who handled most of the text decisions) and a store manager (who did much of the paperwork). Now, though, I'm doing the equivalent of TWO different jobs, both of which need full attention.

Throw in my impending birthday (on the same day as Imola), inching closer to the frightening 40, and I'm crispy around the edges to say the least.

Then Momduck called. She told me to meet her outside the store (understandable, since parking is nightmarish around Duck U.). "Well, okay, sure." So she drives up, and hands me a tupperware container. "It's for dinner tonight, enjoy!"

So tonight, I got to enjoy a meal that I haven't had in AT LEAST seven years: tuna-noodle casserole. Yep, it's pretty simple stuff: can or two of tuna, peas, can of cream-of-something-white soup, stir, serve over bowtie pasta.

But I can't make it like Momzerduck can. Comfort food... is there anything better when you're in the middle of a bad patch?

Thanks, Momzerduck! Love ya, quack!

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