November 30, 2007

Celebrating Steven's Bravery.

Now that Steven has revealed his true self to the world, we need to give him all the support and caring we can. 

Just remember, Steven, there are many others just like you out there.  None is better known, however, than...

(thanks to

To thine self be true, Steven.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go preen my feathers.

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November 28, 2007

Anime Night: Elfen Lied Ends

So the Librarian and I got together tonight to finish up Elfen Lied.  As brutal as the violence is, and it is very brutal, and as gratuitous as the nudity is, and it's very gratuitous, it can still be a incredibly beautiful show to watch.

Case in point:

Lucy, the character responsible for the highest bodycount in short-season history, and who had been imprisoned and treated like a lab rat for the past eight years, has  

This one shot, maybe three seconds long, makes the entire anime worth the price of admission for me.

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November 25, 2007

What's Wonderduck Watching (fall edition)?

So we're a few weeks into the new season, and enough time has passed for a watcher to have decided on what's made the cut and what... well, hasn't.  That can only mean one thing: another installment of "What's Wonderduck Watching?"

Click below for the whole scoop!  Warning: quite a few screenshots, so dialup users, click and go make a sandwich or something.


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November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

(From the best sitcom ever, the legendary WKRP In Cincinnati.)

UPDATE: I love WKRP.  If I could only watch one series (american tv, that is), it'd be this one.  Because of WKRP, I grew up wanting to work in radio... and I wanted it badly enough that eventually, I did.  The studio looked very much like the one in the clip, actually.

So it is to my great sorrow that the recent DVD release of the series is unwatchable.  See, WKRP was one of the first series to license contemporary rock hits for broadcast... it IS a radio station, after all.  The Who, the Rolling Stones, Talking Heads, Supertramp, and dozens of other groups and artists had their music in the show, and in fact, two episodes revolved around a Rolling Stones concert (and so had a lot of their music involved).  Then there's the "Les has a date with Jennifer" episode, with Foreigner's "Hot Blooded" playing in the background...

Anyway, the music is a vital part of the show.  Unfortunately, the original music license was only for 10 years... and the costs have gone WAAAAAAY up since then.  So the DVD release has the original soundtrack removed, and generic (and perhaps royalty-free) music used in it's stead.  Further, since the DJs often referenced the music and the groups they're playing, the producers had to edit the episodes by snipping out dialogue in many, many places.

Obviously, that's unacceptable.  I have friends at all three tv stations here in town, I'm hoping one of them could find out if they have the syndicated versions (that did have the original music) in their vaults somewhere...


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November 21, 2007

Now Hear This...

Thank you.

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November 17, 2007

Finding Alpha.

Back in July, Jeff of Hop Step Jump! posted a picture of an unnamed character from an unknown manga.  I loved it, and turned it into a wallpaper.  Understand that I change my wallpaper on a weekly basis, yet this one lasted for three months.  There was something about the young woman that just grabbed my attention.

A week or so ago, Jeff put up another picture of her... and I found out her name: Alpha.  A little bit of searching turned up the name of the manga: Yokohama Shopping Trip (Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou).  It's been very well received (and won an award for best SF manga in 2007), but hasn't been picked up here in the States... but more importantly to me, there were two different OVAs made for it... and they were listed on Animesuki.  A few quick downloads later, and I was ready to watch.

So, what was the result?


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November 16, 2007

The FIA Does It Again.

McLaren's appeal on the cool fuel controversy in Brazil has been heard, and the FIA has very, very quietly announced their verdict. 

It seemed like a relatively simple question: did BMW and Williams have fuel that was more than 10 C. below the ambient air temperature, or not?  If yes, why didn't the stewards penalize the teams?  If no, why did the gauges used report that the fuel WAS too cool in the first place?  Certainly the results of this simple question could have far-reaching ramifications, but at it's core, it's a basic "yes/no" answer. 

But this is the FIA we're talking about here.  They've invented new ways to screw up for fifty years, and they didn't disappoint today.  After hearing the case presented to them (and listening to a Ferrari lawyer shred McLaren for an extended period... and just what was Ferrari doing there anyway?  They weren't involved in the actual question...), over the course of a full day, and delaying the release of the verdict until Friday night London time, the four-judge court of appeals came out and said "the appeal is inadmissible, we shouldn't've been hearing this case in the first place.  Appeal denied on procedural grounds."

In other words, nothing to see here, move along.

Except it's more than that, of course.  This is the FIA's way of sweeping the entire mess under the rug and putting a chair over the unsightly lump.  It solves nothing, and just makes Team McLaren even more sympathetic, as now it looks like the FIA is just playing with them.  They have a legit complaint, and they're turning it away because the team didn't fill out the correct paperwork?

Ridiculous.  Don't expect this to end anytime soon, either.  Next season's going to be a nightmare of charges, claims and allegations, mark my words.

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November 14, 2007

One Leaves, One Returns

Biggish news on the F1 front recently, as two teams change leaders... and the names are big.  REALLY big.

As has long been expected, Ferrari gave Jean Todt the heave-ho.  Near as I can tell, there's no visible reason for it.  It's not like the team underperformed while he was in charge, after all.  My guess, and this is only a guess, is that it was time to return Scuderia Ferrari to Italian command.  The surprise in my eyes is that the team allowed him to sign Felipe Massa to a three-year deal, particularly with Alonso still floating out there.  That might be one reason why Todt was let go.

Todt's old running-mate, Ross Brawn, has been on sabbatical for the past year.  Instead of returning to Ferrari as their team principal, like he'd hoped for, he's returning as Honda's boss.  It makes sense.  One, Honda is a particularly British team (despite the name, the team is based near Silverstone), and Brawn is a Brit as well.  Two, after their dismal season, which was caused by a miserable car design, they desperately need a good tech wonk, and there's probably none better.  Three, maybe the hulking Brawn can kick some life into Jensen Button, who's win at Hungary in 2006 is looking more and more like a fluke.

One leaves, perhaps for good.  The other returns, probably for a long while. 

At least we won't have to wonder about Todt's sweater anymore.

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November 11, 2007

Veterans Day

This US Army 1st Lieutenant's name was Chester.  He was one of hundreds of thousands of men who fought for the Allies in WWII.  Details surrounding this photo are sparse; I know it was taken sometime in 1942 or '43, and it's believed to be somewhere in California.

I don't know much about the man, either.  I don't know anything about his personality, his likes or dislikes, his habits.  I didn't even know he existed until half a year ago, to be honest.

Chester was my grand-uncle.  He passed away many years ago.  I never met him.

On this Veterans Day, I'm proud to say that I'm related to him.

And to finally get a chance to say Thank You.

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November 10, 2007

Happy 232nd!

"They call them leathernecks.  They call them devildogs.  But what they are... Marines."

Semper fi to the good guys!

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Surfboard Problems

As most readers of the Pond are aware, cable broadband became available last month for the first time out here.  Everything was fine and dandy until last week, when it appears that my Motorola SURFboard (model SB5101) started to  have a case of the hiccups.

Once or twice a night, the modem'll just stop functioning.  The "send" and "online" lights go out, and access just disappears.  Usually a hard reset (unplugging the power cord) will rectify the problem, but at least half of the time, the signal will drop again a few minutes later.  Another hard reset, combined with a reboot of Chiyo-chan, will fix the problem... until the next night.

Obviously, the modem still works... I'm posting, after all.  It's just annoying as all get-out to have the connection just drop like that.  When it IS working fine, I get some flat-out amazing (to me and my many years of dial-up only, your mileage may vary) d/l speeds: 175kbps is quite common, and I've seen it up around 200kbps when d/l'g something with a lot of seeds (I've switched to uTorrent, by the way).

There's a 25' run of coaxial from a splitter connecting the modem (which I'm considering naming "kamineko") to the wall, and a ethernet cable connecting the modem to Chiyo-chan.

This sound familiar to anybody out there?  The tech from the company came by and left a note saying to "clean the teeth on the ethernet cable" with a q-tip and a drop of denatured alcohol, but to this ex-CowPuters employee, that sounds like a standard brush-off answer ("Take two aspirin and call me in the morning").  If any of my readers have experience with the SURFboard, I'd appreciate your advice.

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November 08, 2007

My Stars and Garters...

On December 6th, 2007, there is going to be another meeting of the WMSC.  Unlike last time, when McLaren was fined $100 million dollars and excluded from Constructor's Championship points despite a large lack of concrete evidence, this time around it appears that there might just be some proof involved.

Except it's not McLaren on the chopping block.  It's Renault.

According to the announcement, Renault is accused of possessing information on "the layout and critical dimensions of the McLaren F1 car, together with details of the McLaren fuelling system, gear assembly, oil cooling system, hydraulic control system and a novel suspension component used by the 2006 and 2007 McLaren F1 cars".

Please note the dates involved: 2007 and 2006. 

The FIA is seriously up a creek now.  With their ham-handed evisceration of McLaren, they set a precedent that they now have to live up to: exclusion and severe fining of Renault upon guilt.  Please note that this means that there's quite a good chance that they could have their 2006 Constructor's Championship revoked.  I wonder if anybody in the FIA noticed that Ferrari was second that year?  "Gosh, really?  Hm, fancy that."

Here's what it comes down to: if Renault is found to have had all that data in their possession (and there was a 'raid' on their HQ by FIA investigators recently), they can either penalize the team... or they can turn a blind eye to it.  They do the former, and they damage the sport.  They do the latter, and they kill the sport's credibility altogether.

If the latter does occur, McLaren is going to scream bloody murder, and the lawsuits will fly thicker than a Minnesota snowstorm... and y'know what?  They'd be right to do so.

Duck and cover, lads.  It's gonna be a long couple of months.

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November 06, 2007

Brickmuppet's At It Again...

First he tried with kiwi.

Now he's apparently training cows for suicide missions.

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The Return of Anime Night!

It's been a while, but The Librarian's schedule has finally slowed down enough that Anime Night has resumed!

And what did she want to watch?

Oh dear...

That's right, Elfen Lied is on the agenda!  Now, I've talked about the show in the past, so I won't go into detail about it here, except to say that it's even grimmer than I remembered... which makes our usual riffing on the show even funnier:

"Where are my pants?"  "They're cousins!"  "Um... excuse me?  Cousins, remember?"

Weird stuff in this one, folks.  Grim 'n' Gritty is too tame a descriptor for EL, by far.  But wow, what a ride... I'm quite enthralled with it AGAIN. 

The Librarian seems to dig it, too, which is good, since it was her idea.  We should manage to finish it up next week (it's only 13 episodes, plus one OVA that ADV didn't license {and might I note that it's one of the best OVAs for a series that I've seen?}), and then... well, I don't know quite yet.  We'll figure it out.          

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November 04, 2007

Ducks In Anime: Recursiveness Abounds!

-Alfred J Kwak, ep2

It's a duck... with a duck!

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The Greatest Anime Ever.

Sometimes when you're down and out, and life has you on the ropes, something wonderful comes along and makes you realize that the world is great and good.

This has occurred today.  Today, a fansub group released episode 1 of The Greatest Anime Ever.  Ladies and Gentlemen, for your entertainment, may I present...

            ...flying, check, good for a duck.  Swimming, check, good for a duck.  Wiggles?
ALFRED J. KWAK, or Ahiru no Quack in Japan.  This is an important distinction, because AJK was originally a Dutch-Japanese collaboration that was translated into no less than  seventeen different languages!  While a children's show, it appears to be headed into quite mature territory.

According to Wikipedia, for example, In episode 1, Alfred is hatched, and minutes later, evil land developers turn his home near a stream into a theme park.  Alfred's family is killed in a car accident in episode 2.  His opponent is named "Dolf", and is apparently based on Adolf Hitler (though we haven't met him yet).  The characters age over the course of the 52 episode run. 

                                       Our hero as a young man duck.
As you can tell from looking at the screenshots, this is an old show, starting in 1989.  It's not bad, for a children's show, all things considered.  The transfer to the OGM format is pretty poor, with any movement being blurry; that's probably an artifact of the original DVD source material.  Still shots look fine, if a little soft-focus.

                            Our hero's father, taking umbrage at the slight on his family...

Truthfully, I'm sure I wouldn't've watched this if it didn't have a duck as the main character (and I didn't have broadband).  However, I'm glad I did... it's fun, and there's a lot of potential here.  ANN says it's a historical show, teaching children about life and such things as WWII.  If so, I can't wait.

One huge surprise, though, was the voice of Alfred.  The moment I heard the theme song, I thought "I know who that is," and a look at the cast list confirmed it: Megumi Hayashibara, performing in only her fifth or sixth show, and what might be her first lead (I can't tell if Ranma 1/2 debuted before or after).  It's a piece of anime history, and it's about ducks!  How cool is that???

And in this episode, Steven's worst nightmare comes true:

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November 02, 2007

McLaren Launches HWMNBN

In a move that surprises maybe three people living on Pitcairn Island, McLaren officially announced that HWMNBN would not be driving for them in 2008.  They also announced that the sky is blue, grass is green, and water is wet.

Speaking for the team, Ron Dennis said that he wished HWMNBN all the luck in the world and presented him with the keys to a new McLaren F1 supercar.  He went on to say that the strange ticking sound emanating from the glovebox was 'nothing to be concerned about, nothing at all,' and walked away, whistling tunelessly.

HWMNBN responded by reflexively attempting to shove a Spyderco Harpy in Dennis' back.  Repeatedly.

It remains to be seen who HWMNBN will be driving for next year, or who will join McLaren as Lewis Hamilton's teammate. 

In a just and fair world, HWMNBN would end up in a ForceIndia*.  Or working at the Valencia McDonalds.  Or ARCA/REMAX.  We can only hope.

*note: was Spyker, Midland, and Jordan.  Insert your own joke here.

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