May 31, 2006

AMVs? Eat Up, We'll Make More!

Okay, commentor HC asked for more AMV suggestions, but this time 'single-source', or using just one anime. Go ahead, twist my arm... *OW!* Geez, you take me so seriously sometimes...

This list isn't organized by preference, just alphabetically, by the way, but they're all amongst what I would call my 'favorites'. Some are technological marvels, some could have been made with two VCRs... but they all resonate with me as 'awfully darn good.'

We start... below the fold! more...

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I'm 16 years old again.

I just can't put into words my reaction when I heard/saw this... for the first time in maybe 15 years.

The Brits in the crowd might just know this: WOT.

I'm near tears from joy.

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May 30, 2006

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things...

Over at Pixy's, there's been a discussion about AMVs recently. Now, for those who aren't complete otaku (and I mean that in the nicest way... after all, I'M an otaku), AMV is an acronym for "Anime Music Video." I've found them a great gateway drug for anime; the first meeting of a semester for the Duck U. Anime Club is always AMV Night. We usually schedule that first meeting to be in the commons area of the Student Union, too, so people who'd never even THINK about coming to an Anime Club meeting will be exposed. Pretty pictures + good music = PROFIT!

Anyway, since I've got nigh on 450 AMVs on my computer, and have seen probably four times that many, I'd like to think I've seen some really good ones (and some really bad ones). Below the fold, take a gander at some of my favorites! All links lead to the AMV.org webpage for the video... free to download, if you're a member (and it's free to join)! more...

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May 29, 2006

F1 UPDATE!: MONACO

The glitz, the glamour, the F1 UPDATE!

*WELL, IT WAS GOOD WHILE IT LASTED: Nope, not much passing. Runaway winner, too. But the first 2/3rds of the race was actually interesting, and that's more than can be said for most of the races this season. C'mon, watching Raikkonen hook himself to Alonso's rear wing and hang on was great! And Webber just seems to LOVE this track, holding down a solid podium finish with great aplomb until his engine melted down. And then Raikkonen's McLaren died a whimpering death, and the race was dull again.

*GEE, MAYBE YOU SHOULDN'T CHEAT, HUH?: Schumacher ended up 5th, after starting from the back of the grid. "I am still disappointed about what happened yesterday, especially in the light of today's performance. I was amazed at how tough the Stewards' decision was." said Slappy afterwards. We're disappointed, too, Slappy.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE: Welcome back to the podium, David Coulthard's Chin! Okay, it wasn't an awe-inspiring drive, but he made no mistakes and was rewarded when his competitors' cars died. Sometimes a brilliant drive is the one that isn't brilliant at all. Congrats to the RBR team, too, for their first podium.

*TEAM OF THE RACE: Renault is the only one that really qualifies, since no one team really had a good Monaco race other than them. Meh. Honorable mention to RBR, of course, for their first podium. Too bad about the cape, though.

*MOVE OF THE RACE: Slappy. Lap 20. Chicane. He caught Button napping, shoved his way inside, and trotted past the Honda. Stuff like this makes the quals debacle so sad... the guy can DRIVE. He doesn't need to cheat.

*MOOOOOOOOOO-OVE OF THE RACE: Celebrating the things that make us wonder how these guys ever managed to sit down into a car without missing, let alone drive it at Monaco, the MotR tonight goes to Christijan Albers' start. He swerves all the way across the track, pins his TEAMMATE to the wall, and gets a drive-thru penalty for it. Way to go, Christijan! We don't know what you were thinking, but we were thrilled to see it... we knew the MotR was won right then and there!

*QUOTES OF THE RACE: more...

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May 28, 2006

F1... er... INDY 500 UPDATE!

Okay, so this isn't a full-blown UPDATE!, but a quick report on the Indy 500. I managed to see the last 70 laps or so of the race. I wasn't being anti-social; it was 90+ degrees (847 degrees European) here today, and while everybody else was able to stand the heat, the medication I'm on makes me sensitive to sunlight and high (and low) temps. So, I ate ribs and potato salad inside.

Anyway, today's 500 reminded me of the one thing that's really lacking in F1 these days (and most of the time, historically): close finishes. And lots of passing. But I digress. In the 2nd-to-last lap, Sam Hornish Jr., running 2nd, makes a move to pass Mario Andretti's grandson, 19 year old Marco, who had taken the lead on a yellow-flag session. The move failed, and wound up with Hornish dropping back probably 10 car-lengths. At that point, I said out loud (the menfolk had gathered around to watch), "Race over. No way Andretti's gonna be caught."

Half a lap later, Hornish was maybe two lengths back heading into turn three. Coming into four, he's right on Marco's tail, and I'm just like "no way what I'm seeing is happening!"

They come out of the turn, Hornish is so close, it almost looks like his nose wing is under Andretti's tail wing. They've both got momentum out of the turn, I figure Hornish had given everything he had; very close, but no pocky. In the slow-mo replay at this point, you can actually see Andretti's rear-end wash out slightly: it seemed to fishtail, like he hit the gas coming out of a standing start or something. I'm still not sure if I REALLY saw it, or if it was some camera artifact. Maybe the fact that Hornish's car was so close, it somehow upset the airflow going over Andretti's tail (though I have no idea how THAT would happen).

Whichever. Hornish dives underneath and Andretti floats over to block. Hornish cuts even farther inside and slingshots even with him. Then, like his car has an extra gear or something, he just blows the (metaphorical) doors off Marco's car, and crosses the line something like .016 seconds ahead; the second-closest margin of victory in IRL history.

At first, I was thinking that Hornish had faked Andretti (a rookie) out with a bob right before his weave left... but I didn't see it in the replay at all. An amazing finish... that's one heckuva way to win the Indy 500!

Mario Andretti looked like he was going to cry.

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Race Day, Memorial Day...

...and I'm going to the folks' pond for the afternoon. I won't be able to watch Monaco until later this evening, probably. And I won't see the Indy 500 at all.

So, please, if you have ANY feelings for me and this website... don't post Monaco spoilers!!!

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May 27, 2006

Monaco Quals... oh boy.

"This is embarrassing. Embarrassing for a world champion. It would even be embarrassing for Ide."
-Jacques Villeneuve, speaking about Michael Schumacher's incident.

Let's face it: Schumi flat-out cheated his way to the pole, then blatantly lied about it. His post-qual interview, conducted by Peter "Softball" Windsor, proved that he couldn't lie his way out of a paper bag. Forgetting the name of arguably one of the most famous corners in F1? Riiiiiiight. Okay, Schu...

Fernando Alonso was a third of a second faster than him going into the final sector, but one of the finest precision drivers in the history of the sport supposedly screwed up a VERY low-speed turn, took two car-lengths to "correct" from it, then stalled his Ferrari, bringing out the yellow.

This is far from the first time he's done something like this, on this track. Wasn't it just last year that he, desperate to get a red flag so he could narrow down the gap to the leaders, "couldn't get by" a spun Minardi? Even though there was plenty of room?

This was so blatant that the FIA immediately declared an investigation. If they judge Schumacher to have done this intentionally, he'll lose ALL his qualifying times, sticking him at the back of the grid... even farther down than his teammate, Felipe Massa, who was the only man to crash on the day.

Couldn't happen to a nicer team.

(UPDATE 638pm Central)
The FIA has decided, and the news is NOT good for Schumi. He's been kicked back to 8th on the grid because of this incredibly obvious and stupid incident.

In related news, Giancarlo Fisichella was dumped to 10th for (inadvertantly) blocking Jack Newtown. One has to think that unless he wins half a dozen races the rest of the way, he's going to be booted from Renault at the end of the season. Amazing, just amazing.

(UPDATED UPDATE 825pm Central)
Turns out it's even worse for Schumi than I had heard. He's been dumped to the BACK OF THE GRID. From the official F1 website:

"Their (the stewards -ed) finding was that Schumacher had no justifiable reason for braking so hard, as he had been traveling little or no quicker than at the same point on previous laps. They therefore concluded that he deliberately stopped his car on the circuit, an infringement of the sporting regulations."

Chances are now excellent that Ferrari will score no points in Monaco, and further sanctions are a possibility. Worse, however, is the huge blot this puts on Michael Schumacher's recordbook. Yes, he's won 7 driver's championships, but he's a flat-out cheater. Twice when the championship was on the line, he's intentionally tried to wreck rivals' cars. He's tried to game the stewards who knows HOW many times... he may be one of the greatest drivers ever, but did Ayrton Senna ever do something like that? Jackie Stewart? Hell, Fernando Alonso?

I wouldn't be opposed to him being suspended for the rest of the season. Hell, take away his superlicense. Yuji Ide may have sucked, but he didn't break the rules, flagrantly and with malice. He was just bad.

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May 25, 2006

Practice a la Monaco

I am completely in awe of the drivers of F1 cars. The sheer cojones it takes to drive quickly around the streets of Monaco is amazing. The task of horking the car around the course, just inches from the Armco barriers, has to be THE epitome of driving ability.

And in the end, the streets reach up and grab the unwary. Ant Davidson and Bobby Kubica got bit, Ant immediately after setting the fast lap for the session, bringing out the red flags. Others didn't quite kill their cars, and thankfully there's ONE little spot on the track that has a bit of run-off room (ironically, leading right to the chapel), otherwise there'd've been quite a few more carbon fiber shards.

If there is a race where the Toro Rosso boys have a great chance of scoring some points, it's this one. That V10 may be down on revs, but it DOES accelerate out of low-speed corners like a scalded badger.

That first Qualifying session is going to be awfully entertaining... expect to see 22 cars clambering to be first on the grid when the green flag flies, on the most cramped circuit of the season.

Sweepers, man your brooms!

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May 23, 2006

F1 on SPEED!: Monaco

This is it. The Crown Jewel of the F1 calendar. The pagentry, the glitz, the glamour, the spectacle that is Monaco. The only real road course... and the Official First Overseas Reader, Flotsky, will BE there.

Lucky b@$tard.

For the rest of us poor schmucks, here's the televison schedule... all times central, add one for eastern, subtract two for west coast (Steven, that means you), and add the square-root of -1 for the denizens of Flatland.

First up, we get a rare THURSDAY practice session, since Monaco doesn't allow Friday practices... prolly because it prevents the world's tax dodgers from getting "home". Anyway, at 7am Thursday, 5/25/06, we've got live coverage which is replayed on...

FRIDAY, May 26th, at both 11am and 9pm.

SATURDAY, May 27th, brings us what should be an absolutely insane qualifying session. It's not as if there's a whole raftload of room on the streets of Monaco; expect a red-flag to throw all of quals into a tizzy, beginning at 7am. Replay the madness at 9pm that night.

SUNDAY, for all of you named 'Official First Reader Mallory', we've got the GP2 series race at 5am... then the REAL race is run, but we here in the US don't get to see it until somewhere around noon (check your local listings) on CBS. Yay.

Don't miss a bit of the fun from Monaco! And Flotsky, we will want a report...

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May 22, 2006

What the...?

How in the world does he get that head into a helmet?!??!?! Click HERE to see what I'm talking about.

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May 21, 2006

Silicon Dreams.

Right, for what it's worth, MomDuck ended up with THIS CowPuter.

Athlon 64 3700+, 1 GB RAM, 200GB HD... she's got a frickin' 64-bit processor!

I've got a 850MHz P-III, with 384 MB of RAM, a 30 GB HD and an 80 GB HD, both of which are close to being filled, a GeForce 5200 (my original video card, a GeForce 2, died last August, and the 5200 was $50), a DVD recorder (it takes 8 hours to change 2 hours of avi videos to DVD video... and 5 minutes to burn the disc)...

Yes, I've got SERIOUS computer envy.

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Evangelion: The Romantic Comedy!

I can't resist...

2 or more people seriously contending for the affections of one (1 point for each serious contender): 2, Asuka and Rei.
...who trickle in (1): 1, Asuka doesn't appear until a quarter of the series is over.
...who aren't human (1 for each): 1, Rei is part-Angel.
...who have special powers (1 for each): 1, what ELSE would you call what happens to Rei in End of Evangelion?
Dorky hero (1): 1, Yep.
...who has a unique power (1): 0, driving an EVA not unique.
Klutzy heroine (1): 0.
...who has a unique power (1): 0.
Love expressed as violence (1): 1... not Love Hina levels, but...
Obvious choice (1): 1. Asuka.
Women with exaggerated figures (1): 0.
Jiggle (1): 1, Misato.
Panty flashes (1): 1, though Rei isn't really wearing them at the time...
Ecchi (1): 0.
Joshikousei (1): 1, uh-huh!
Meido-san (1): 0
Accidental exposure (1): 1, yep!
Accidental groping (1): 1, also yep!
Swimsuits at the beach (1): 0, nuh-uh.
Bathing and yukatas in a bathhouse (1): 1, yeppers.
Kimonos at a summer festival or cultural festival (1): 0.
Girl's locker room (1): 0, not the way you mean, no.
Cosplay (1): 0, no-o-o.
Romances among secondary characters (1): 1, Misato/Kaji.
Meganekko (1): 1, Ritsuko Akagi
Annoying relatives (1): 1, Gendo, the Angels...
Meddlers (friends or family) (1): 1, Gendo.
No romantic resolution at the end (1): 1. Nothing.

There you have it... with 19 points, Neon Genesis Evangelion is a wacky romantic comedy!!!

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May 20, 2006

Huh... go figure.

Steven made up a points-chart for romantic comedies in anime. I pretty much agree with it, though maybe he should have included "has annoying animal mascot" on his list. Anywho, just for giggles, I decided to run Love Hina through the wringer, figuring it'd come out on top by a long sight.

Nope, just 20 points. (editor's note: originally, this read 22. I have no idea where I got that result from, unless I give Love Hina Again more credit than it deserves...)

And yes, Steven, I know you didn't do it because you dislike the show.

(Update: Steven's actual points list, and Love Hina's points after the jump) more...

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May 19, 2006

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

If you've read just about any anime blog recently, you've seen someone writing about this show called "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya."

Apart from the odd title, what is it that makes this show stand out from the rest, that makes it the breakout series of the year, even though it's still running over in Japan, and the last episode won't air for another month or so? What's making people hit bittorrent in quantities that would make your head spin (I saw 3000+ seeders the day episode 7 was released to the world via AFK fansubs)?

HER. She's odd. VERY odd. As in "there's something not quite right about her" odd, but you can't figure out what it is. But you want to find out, very, very badly.

And it's worth the trouble. The show is very well done. I've not been able to watch all seven available episodes yet, what with the goings-on at the Duck U. Bookstore, but what I HAVE seen confirms that.

Oddly, I've noticed that the shows I've liked the most (Azumanga Daioh, Noir) are the ones that I've had problems with at the beginning. I read the reviews of Azumanga Daioh, watched the first two episodes, and said "what's the big deal?" It took me a month or so to start watching it again, and then I got it.

Same thing with Haruhi. Episode 1 (which is actually episode zero, or episode pi, or something like that) BLOWS... unless you watch it all the way through. Then you realize JUST how good it really was. Trust me: watch it, even though you might want to drive pencils into your eyes. It'll be all right.

I'm being vague here, I know. It's kind of hard to talk about the show without dealing spoilers left and right. It's safe to say that she's only interested in aliens, espers, time travellers and sliders. Woe betide you if you aren't one of the above and you try to talk to her... and god help us all if you ARE one of them.

Try the show. Just... watch. There's not much more that I can say. Become a convert to Haruhism.

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May 17, 2006

Pushing Silicon.

I hope I wasn't that obnoxiously cheerful when I was a salesduck at CowPuters (stores now deceased).

We wound up not getting anything, because I really didn't have time to research the systems we were looking at. Some very nice set of specs out there, for not a whole bunch of money, but I'm going to be the one that has to fix the thing... I want MomDuck to have a computer that she can't 'break', even accidentally.

I use computers probably 10x as much as she does, yet I've never had a virus or scumware. She's had two virii, a dialer (that called Croatia), and scumware out the yingyang, all in the last two years.

I know a new computer won't help much with that, but maybe if I make keep hitting her with the "that crepe is why you're shelling out $$$ for a new computer" message...

Still looking for advice on what to get!

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Shopping for Silicon!

Well, it finally happened. MomDuck's computer, a 500mhz P-III system (yes, you read that right... close to 9 years old, if I remember), finally got an ick that I couldn't de-ick.

It surely isn't worth spending money on it, so we're off to buy a new computer for her. Any suggestions? "Buy an Apple" is not an option, and we're looking around $1000, roughly.

So no quad-core, SLI-gpu'd systems, alas.

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May 15, 2006

F1 UPDATE!: SPAIN

ZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzz*snort*uh? Oh. Oh! Um. It's F1 UPDATE!

*LETS BE FAIR: I was particularly hard on CBS' coverage of the San Marino Grand Prix, and for good ("CRASHING over the curbs") reason. This race, they didn't have much to work with but Daly and Shaheen did an okay job. They didn't make me want to take a toothpick to my ears, and they ran with the one storyline that they could, namely, the "homecoming" of Fernando Alonso. Now if only they could calm down a little bit...

*FERNAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNDO! (repeat ad infinitum): Okay, the race was pretty dull after the first pitstop. I'll give you that; it's a fine example of why F1 isn't well-liked in the US... no passing, no challenges, just parading. But the crowd reaction to Fernando Alonso's driving, leading, and winning was just astounding. It reminded me of the Winter Olympics this year, when the first Italian stood on the top of the podium, and the whole crowd sang along with the anthem. The audience was proud of him, for their national pride. Thrilling, and exactly what A1GP wants to be.

*SAAAAAAAAAAAAATO! SAAAAAAAAAATO!: Takuma Sato continues to defy projections by a) still being alive, and b) not having killed anybody. In fact, Taku has been well-controlled all season. Kinda dull, actually. I hope a little of the Suicide Sato spirit comes back when he has a REAL car underneath him.

*TEAM OF THE RACE: Renault. 1st/3rd and a dominating performance, showing Ferrari that if they want the Championship, they're going to have to beat them for it. I don't see it happening, to be honest.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE: Fernaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnndo Alonso. He wins his home race after the first round of pitstops, and wins without having been challenged. Who else could have been picked?

*MOVE OF THE RACE: We here at F1 UPDATE! don't like giving this award to something that happens on the first lap. So MUCH happens on the run to the first corner that it's hard to say "aha, that's a great move." For this race, though, we've GOT to give it to Kimi Raikkonnen's lunge at the start. There was exactly one car width plus three inches between the two Toyotas, and Kimi slotted his McLaren deftly down the center of them, and made it look EASY. Bravo! Honorable mention goes to Franck "The Barber" Montagny for his (unseen) start that took him from 21st to 17th.

*MOOOOOOOOOOOO-VE OF THE RACE: Reader Vaucason's Duck suggested that Takuma Sato's spin on lap 10 should win this award. While we admit that it was impressive, the fact that he was able to recover from his pirouette and keep going almost without slowing down shows too much grace of form to win this award. No, one must be truly bovine to win the Mooooove. No finer example of this cow-like behavior could be found than that shown by JP Montoya, who wound up highcentering his McLaren on a curb, much like a turtle on a rock. Not since Scott Speed during practice in Montreal have we seen such a sight, and it was heartwarming indeed. Bravo, Tennis Master! Honorable Mention must go to Cora Schumacher's Husband, Ralf, for his idiotic attempt to pass HIS OWN TEAMMATE down the inside, resulting in a snapped-off front wing stuck under his car, and eventual retirement from the race. We hear the Budapest McDonalds is looking for help, Ralf...

*QUOTES OF THE RACE: more...

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May 13, 2006

Spanish GP Quals

Gonna be short today, 'cause I gotta go to work in the AM (yes, on Sunday; it's Graduation Day for Duck U.).

The top of the grid is so neat and orderly! Renault front row, Ferrari second row, a Honda, both Toyotas, and a Honda. Of course Alonso is on pole, and is therefore the favorite to win this race, which often is little more than a parade (the Legendary Announce Team mentioned that the race has been won 13 of 14 times from the first row... and the one time it wasn't was Shumi in the wet from 3rd on the grid. Hardly a wide-open race.)

Of course, the teams LOVE this track, and test here whenever possible, so there's no mystery to it, like say Turkey or Bahrain.

Here in the US, the race is at noon on CBS... I'll be at work, so the F1 UPDATE! might not go up until very late, if not Monday (if I can stand the earsplitting pain that is the CBS announce duo).

See ya then!

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May 12, 2006

Racer becomes Hero.

Ever heard of Steve Sliwa? He's a Grand Am sportscar racer, drives for SDS Performance Racing. I caught him driving one day on SPEEDChannel, can't even remember the event, but the name stuck in my mind. Sliwa's not exactly a common name, don'tcha know.


He became a hero on Friday. Seems he was out riding his bicycle when an elderly woman backed out of her driveway, lost her brakes and rammed into a high-voltage transformer. The transformer burst into flames, taking the car with it... and she was trapped inside, her arm caught under a fold-down center armrest.


You can guarantee that if there's one thing an experienced racer knows, it's how to get out of a burning car. Except Merry Banks, 81, wasn't a race driver; she was an elderly woman in a locked car.


And this is where Steve Sliwa became a hero. He ran to the car, banged on the window to get her to unlock the door, and saw she was stuck... and that he would have to get her out before the blazing car did something really bad, like explode. She hit the unlock button, he yanked the door open, got her seatbelt undone, and carried her out of the car.


A moment later, the car or the transformer exploded, filling the passenger compartment with flames.


Sometimes lives hinge on freak occurrences. Read the full story HERE.


Wingtip up to Steve from all of us here at The Pond!

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Spanish GP practice.

Cars went on track, went around and around.

That's F1 practice in a nutshell.

More importantly, thanks to the Legendary Announce Team, I've come up with Franck Montagny's nickname.

I hereby dub him Franck "The Barber" Montagny.

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