January 31, 2013

F1 Pr0n: McLaren MP4-28

Before I get into the details of the new McLaren, I have a complaint.  See, the little team from Woking used to do great "glamour shots" of their cars... indeed, I believe I got my "nose-3/4-side" format for F1 Pr0n from them.  But in recent years, they've gone away from that to putting the car on an angled plinth under nice warm lights... which is HORRIBLE for my purposes.  This year they've only released TWO studio shots: one from the side, and the annual McLaren Centerfold.  *siiiiiiiiiiigh*  Well, let's work with what we've got.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the McLaren MP4-28.

For all intents and purposes, there's only two differences between this and the MP4-27.  One, the sidepods have a steeper slope front-to-back, though they didn't copy the Red Bull exhaust thing like Lotus did.  The other obvious difference is the nose.  Last year's rollout had a very low, long nose; the MP4-28, on the other hand, has something more like the nose run at the end of the 2012 season, when the McLaren was the fastest, though least reliable, car on the track.  It looks shorter, though that's probably an optical illusion, maybe because of the installed modesty panel covering the step.

Other than those differences, there's one other oddball thing... the two sidepod inlets have completely different shapes, and each one has a different style/shape of mirror.  I can only assume that this is temporary, and one will be decided upon before the first race.  Though I wouldn't put it past McLaren to go full wacko on us... it's an odd-numbered year, after all. 

Under the skin, there's reportedly a number of changes.  They've copied the Ferrari pull-rod suspension for the front, and improved the rear pull-rod suspension by putting all the pieces into one housing, thereby cutting down on drag.  Reportedly.  For the life of me, I can't see it.  That, however, is why they have people who get paid to spot things like that and I work in a bookstore.  Okay, we've seen the rest of it, but now it's time for moment we've all been waiting for... and no staples, either!


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January 28, 2013

F1 Pr0n: Lotus E21

It's that time of year again.  With the unofficial start of the motorsports year having run this past weekend, it's time for a young man's thoughts to turn to the curves and bodywork of the lovely cars of Formula 1.  What, you thought I meant something else?  Fortunately for all of us, Lotus understands that which drives us, and today brought out their challenger for the 2013 F1 Championships, the E21.

Which, at least from the front, looks very much like the E20.  This is hardly a bad thing, as that chassis proved to be quite effective in 2012, moreso towards the end of the season.  One thing that has visibly changed is the livery colors; there's more red and black, less gold.  Purists may not like this as it doesn't "tip the hat" to the old Lotus "John Player Special" colors, but I could care less.  The red looks great!

It's from this angle that the surprises start to really become visible.  They're not using a "modesty panel" to cover the stepped nose; Lotus has said that they don't want to add any extra weight to the car, particularly high up, for mere cosmetic purposes.  Now, if they can get a smidgeon of downforce out of it, however....  All the way back to the air intake, the E21 still looks like last year's car.

Whoops!  Here's a difference: Lotus is copying the rear end of the Red Bull RB8 sidepods and exhaust exits.  That'll bring the exhaust down and around the end of the diffuser, trying to get a bit of a blown diffuser effect, without having a blown diffuser (which would be illegal).  Let's face it, if you're going to copy from someone, one may as well copy from the best, right? 

It's like Laser Floyd, except better!
So there's our first charger of the year.  Next up is the McLaren MP4-28 on January 31st... we'll see you then with the next installment of F1 Pr0n!

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January 27, 2013

F1 Is Almost Back

The first rollout is Monday, when the Lotus E21 debuts at their Enstone factory.  F1 is nearly back, folks...

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January 26, 2013

A Birthday To Remember

I'd like to tell you all a story.  In some ways, it's a happy story, but in others it's kinda sad.  If you're not interested in hearing some sad stuff, please enjoy the pretty picture of a piece of birthday cake and go on with your day.

For everybody else, read on.


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January 23, 2013

Tired And... It's Probably Best If I Leave It At That.

The Spring semester has begun at Duck U, and we've been kinda busy in the Bookstore.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, I'm finding it difficult to come up with the motivation to blog here at The Pond.  There are other things going on, too, but that's the main thing.

Not that it matters.

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January 21, 2013

Vividred Operation Ep02

It's time once again for everybody's favorite hyperintelligent duck to shamelessly give the business to an innocent, unsuspecting anime.  I'll admit some reluctance to use the term "innocent" to describe Vividred Operation, as it seems very much like the Production Staff's familiarity with the word is passing at best.  Still, that's what makes these things so much fun, right?  I suppose an argument can be made that using the word "fun" to describe these episodic writeups may not be appropriate, but that's not for me to say.  I just write 'em and let you, my intelligent, good looking, well-dressed readers, make the call.  By the way, have I mentioned how great your hair looks?  Because it's flat-out amazing.  How do you get it to do that feathering-and-flip thing?  Seriously, I envy you your hair.

We pick up Ep02 pretty much where we left off in Ep01, with Akane (left) ascended to Magical Girl status amd Aoi (right) gazing lovingly into her eyes.  Just then, Gendo Plushyferret says that the two of them are the only people in the world that can fight the alien invaders, and they've got to prepare for docking.  Docking?  As in "symmetrical docking"?  I've completely changed my mind about this series, I'm all over it now!

Man, Vividred Operation has really moved into the big leagues now: it's got an OP and everything!  Too bad I'll never watch it... I actually (almost) never watch a show's OP, simply because of the spoilers that are usually contained therein.  That is, if I actually care about the series; if I don't, I'll watch once.  Yes, I know there are series where the OP is part of the show (the ARIA franchise) or changes every episode (the most recent HidaSketch); obviously that's different.  But in general, I'd rather be surprised.  Okay, now that I've got that out of my system, where's my docking?


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January 19, 2013

How Did You Spend Your Saturday, Wonderduck?

Even though I had absolutely no reason to do so, I woke up at 5am today, and I'm one of those people who can't go back to sleep once they wake up.  I puttered around the interwebz until around 7am, at which point I started three loads of towels going in the laundry room.  By 9am, those were finished, and I was giving thought to the grocery shopping.  It took me a couple of hours to get the gumption up to go do that, however, as my brain simply wasn't interested in doing anything... I was awake, but it was still craving sleep.  So off to the grocery store I went.

That took me a good half-hour or so, horrified by the incredible number of people there.  I got back to Pond Central, then I was reminded that I'm getting old and my knees are made of jello and razor blades as I took my shopping up the stairs.  I then puttered around the interwebz for another hour or so until my body said "no more, must sleep."  So I did, a glorious five hour nap.  Once awake, I gathered up my clothes and took them down to the laundry room... another three loads and two hours.  Which brings us to right now, more or less, with the temperature dropping like a rock and the wind blowing like the precursor to a hurricane.

I remember when Saturday nights were fun.  I kinda miss those days.

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January 18, 2013


Classes start next week.  I'm a little worn out already, and I'm barely spending any time on the sales floor.  You'd think I'd be nice and relaxed, and to that, I'd say that you don't really know me at all.  Under stress I tend to get a little twitchy, and twitchy means tired.  As a result, my plans for tonight are simple... have some pizza, watch a little TV, then get to work on the Ep02 writeup for Vividred Operation.  Or take a nap after dinner, one of the two.

Here's a girl dressed as a penguin.

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January 16, 2013

Vividred Operation Ep01

So there's really only one show that I'm even mildly excited about this season, and that's this one, Vividred Operation.  As I mentioned in the previous post, nobody has the faintest idea what's going to happen with it: it could be great, it could be stupid, it could be stupidly great!  Well, no matter how it shakes down, I'll be doing episodic reviews for it, probably on Saturdays.  It airs on Thursday, but there's that whole work thing to think about... I'm not as young as I used to be, alas.  I don't have as much energy, as much hair, or as many teeth as I did when I was a kid.  So let's take a look at this here show, let's see what we're being given to work with, shall we?

The City of Townsville! unknown moniker, and something seems a little out of place in it... like, maybe, the enormous tower in the center (thanks for pointing that out, Muppet!) that simply dwarfs everything in the vicinity?  Seriously, look at that thing, it's easily five times taller than the tallest structure nearby, and maybe twice as tall as the skyscrapers in the background.  In an earthquake-prone country, no less.  Can you imagine the number of zoning ordinances that had to be eased so it could be constructed?  Pilots flying into City must hate the thing with a passion, too.  Plus, it's clear that the powers that be are somewhat lax with their security methods.  To whit...

...there's this young woman, standing on the safety railing on the very top of the tower, watching the sun come up.  Completely unbelievable... I mean, there's not a single iPhone or camera in sight, and there's no way one of today's callow yoots wouldn't be recording this to post on myfaceinatube.com... with the camera held the wrong way.  Kids these days, I tell you.

Oh, so it's going to be THAT sort of show, huh?  Technically, she is wearing pants.  Lil' Miss Wallenda up there is, apparently, a member of O2STK, and nothing she does while on-screen clarifies her reason for existing. 

Yup, it's gonna be a good show for me.


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January 15, 2013

Almost Finished

The Ep01 writeup for Vividred Operation is nearly done, but I've GOT to get some sleep.  It will go up Wednesday evening, I swear upon a plushyferret!

Now I go to bed.

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January 12, 2013

Question For The Pond Scum

My friends, I have a question for all of you.  As I'm sure you've noticed, my writeups for Ben-To! are occurring at a rate that makes snails seem fast.  I've been busier at work than I was expecting, and since it's an old show, I feel like I can "relax" with it.  But I couldn't do that with a show that's currently airing, and that's where the question comes in.

Vividread Operation has just begun to air over in Japan, and it seems to hold great promise as a subject of a Wonderduck Writeup.  SDB calls it a cross between Strike Witches and Nanoha, and I suppose that's correct, though to me it leans more towards the 'magical girl' side of the spectrum.  Whatever, I can see it being just as singularly stupid as Rio Rainbow Gate!, or as singularly good as Ga-Rei Zero.  So I leave it up to you, my friends and readers, the accumulated Pond Scum: do I finish Ben-To!, or do I drop it and go with Vividred Operation

You must choose... but choose wisely.

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January 11, 2013


So there I was, in my office at the Duck U Bookstore and I really should take a picture of it and show y'all, if for no other reason than the entertainment value inherent with what my office looks like; I'm sure you think it's some sort of swank place with velour and velvet and high-end mahogany and a cigar humidor with a built-in wine cellar because what else would the office of a bookstore manager look like?  You're forgetting the huge floor-to-ceiling ferns disguising the door to my private room with the velvet Elvises, or would that be Elvii?  Anyway, two of those, the bar, and all the rye bread anybody can eat, and I go in there and hide when things get crazy (I'm in there a lot) and weep softly to myself as LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out" plays over the hi-fi and I try to regain my morale to face the world again and did I just say all that out loud?

Anyway, so there I was in my office at the Duck U Bookstore, doing paperwork like it was going out of style... didn't they say that computers were going to cut down on paper?... when I realized two things: one, that I kept looking at the opening to the private room, and two, I was ridiculously hungry.  But not for just anything, oh no... I had a craving, a veritable need, for two foodstuffs: macaroni and cheese, and peas.  Not mixed together.  Separately: a bowlful of mac&cheese, and a bowlful of peas.

Oh sure, you're amused now, but in an hour, when you start to realize that you've gotta have some elbow pasta and cheddar, and little green spheroids of flavor, you'll realize that I'm not insane.  Okay, yes, yes I am, but not because I had a craving for that.  Anyway, I had that for dinner tonight... I had no choice... and oh my but it was tasty.  Tasty tasty tasty.  Om nom nom.  It wasn't as good as the Infamous Yellow Meal© but it was pretty close.  And now I don't have the incredible longing for mac&cheese and peas anymore, so that's a great thing indeed.  Nice thing about food cravings, they go away pretty quickly after you eat it.

Um.  Did I just do that?  What's wrong with me?  I tell ya, give a duck a blog and all heck breaks loose.

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January 10, 2013

Ducks In Anime: Mochi Edition

-Tamako Market, Ep01

Well, the first episode of the new KyoAni show debuted today.  Unlike almost everything else they've done, Tamako Market is original to Kyoto Animation, not based on a manga, light novel or video game.  This... may not be a good thing, as KyoAni's previous foray into original work, Munto... let's just say it wasn't worthwhile and leave it at that.

As far as THIS original work goes, jury is still out.  It had some good points (it looks great, as all KyoAni shows do, and Anko is also great) and bad (wtf bird?), but it's anybody's guess as to which will win out. 

Still, they put a duck in it.  That counts for a lot.

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January 08, 2013

Now And Again, Manga

Over at Brickmuppet's place, a recent contest (whyasnake) brought his favorite manga to the light of day.  As with all right-thinking individuals, it turns out that it's Yotsuba&!.  Careful readers of The Pond will remember that I have a special place in my torso for that title, which explains why it has to be my favorite manga of all time.

But let's face it, that doesn't make for a particularly exciting post, so I'm going to dig a little deeper into the stacks of manga in my collection to find two other favorites!  Join me, won't you?


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January 06, 2013

Panzer Vor (If You Know What I Mean)!

One of the many surprises involving the recent series Girls und Panzer was the lack of heavy fanservice.  Oh, don't get me wrong, the girls are cute and pleasant to look at, but pretty much the only true fanservice shots are for the tank aficionado.

Oh baby, do those treads go all the way up?
And that's fine, great even.  It's a wonderful thing when shows take the high road and avoids blatant pandering to succeed upon its own merits.  I mean, I love the Strike Witches franchise, but there's no way to use it as an example of the fine art of anime... there's just not enough pants in that show.  However, a casual glance at a well-known repository of anime-related fanart (link ridiculously NSFW) makes it clear that there's a demand for Girls und Panzer fanservice.  Which is why it should come as no surprise that the Blu-Ray release of the first volume of GuP in Japan contains an OVA...

Being devoted to my readers, I've decided to take on the challenge of providing suitable coverage of this OVA for your edification.  Join me, won't you, in an excursion into GuP OVA #1: Water War!


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January 05, 2013

Cool, Funny, Weird


This was the debut run of the 2012 Toyota TS030 Hybrid LeMans Prototype (LMP1).  If you don't have the volume turned on, you're missing the "cool" bit.  In case you're wondering what's going on, the car begins in electric-motor mode before the V8 engine kicks in... which then sounds like the car is going into hyperspace.  Baby!  If the Prius sounded like that, I'd buy one.


I've posted a lower-quality version of this before, but I recently found this cleaner and longer clip of the 2001 "control tire" incident in the Australian V8Supercar series.  A simplistic description of V8S would be "Aussie NASCAR, but on road courses."  I love it; if I had to blog about a race series, but couldn't do F1, I'd probably do V8S.


The first race I ever did extensive blogging for, the 2005 USGP, is known for only having six cars start.  I've spoken of that moment on here before, but never shown it.  Well, here it is, in all its gory glory.  If you're not sure what's going on, read the link.  It'll give you at least a minimum of understanding.

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January 04, 2013

Adventures In Anime Ordering

Now, far be it for me to say that I have wildly varying tastes in anime.  To be sure, I tend more towards the light comedy / slice-of-life genres, but that's hardly the only stuff I watch.  However, even I had to scratch my head when my latest order from Robert's showed up at the Duck U Bookstore...

One of these things is not like the others / which one is different, do you know?
I suppose it's possible to find more wildly dissimilar shows than HidaSketch and Black Lagoon, but you'd have to work at it.  Both are really good shows, but in completely different ways... and that just made me think of a crossover between the two series.  That makes me weep.  Yuno in Roanapur?  Sawyer the Cleaner at Hidamari Apartments?  Wait... that one would be pretty cool, actually.

I think I need sleep now.

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January 03, 2013

Ducks In Anime: Purple

-Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai!, Ep05

Kyoto Animation doesn't do ducks very often, but when they do, they're usually nothing to write home about.  It's almost as if they didn't give much thought to ducks in everyday life or something.  It does appear, however, that with Ep05 of Chuu2, they've seen the error of their ways.  A lovely shot in a lovely scene.

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January 01, 2013

In Praise of Chuu2

Did you watch Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! (aka "Chuu2") when it aired in the Fall season?

Well, did you?
If you didn't, you've missed something awfully special.  I'll admit, I was unable to watch it when it was airing, but I've made amends for that.  Wow, is this a good show.  The basic setup is simple: guy goes to highschool intent on leaving his fantasy-tainted youth (he called himself "Dark Flame Master"... in public) behind and just live a normal life.  Then he meets... her.

Rikka, possessor of the "Tyrant's Eye."  Or a colored contact lens.  One of the two.  Unlike Our Hero, she still believes in her fantasy-tainted youth; in fact, she lives it whole-heartedly.  I'll be honest... I was embarrassed on her behalf for the first episode.  Not like I emphasize with her or anything, heavens, no... I'm merely a hyperintelligent duck with the ability to type.  If you can get past that initial embarrassment, however, you find yourself in the middle of the best anime in quite a while, perhaps of all of 2012.

Along the way, Rikka decides to form a club and somehow manages to attracts other fantasists, including a cheerleader, an upperclassman, and a middleschooler, to her side... oh, and the Dark Flame Master gets dragged along, too.  Hijinks ensue.  Ridiculously entertaining hijinks, might I add.  There is a story being told here, which reveals itself around Ep06 or so, but it's a touching one, never angsty without good reason.  And for every angsty bit, there's humor and action aplenty, usually at the same time.

It should come as no surprise that, as a Kyoto Animation series, it's absolutely gorgeous.  Details that other companies would gloss over or ignore altogether get nearly as much attention as the main images.  Characterization is new and fresh, and I found myself actually caring about them.  For a flinty-souled duck like myself, this came as a stunning surprise.

I cannot recommend this show highly enough.  Go watch it.  What are you waiting for?

UPDATE: I neglected to mention something.  Blogsuki nailed it with his description of Rikka as an opposite-Haruhi Suzumiya.  Rikka doesn't have powers but acts like she does.  Haruhi DOES have powers, but doesn't realize it.  True, there's almost nothing else similar about them, but it's an excellent observation about their respective personalities.  Haruhi would simply hate Rikka... or pity her, which is even worse.

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