April 30, 2013

Announcing The Next Episodic Review Series...

Now that I've finished Vividred Operation, I've sort of been at loose ends as far as what show I wanted to do next.  Waiting until next season didn't really appeal to me, and currently airing series are so hit-and-miss anyway.  Case in point: Vividred Operation.  If I hadn't've been doing writeups for it, I would have let it go long before. the end.  But something longtime reader Avatar said in a comment for the last episode writeup made me raise an eyebrow (metaphorically... I can't actually do that without duct tape or staples) and stroke my chin pensively.  Then I realized that over in Japan, a particular movie was being released soon, and my course became clear.  The next series I will be doing Episodic Reviews for is...

Evangelion.  Really, it's an obvious choice... a decent show that's more screwed up and broken and just begging for my gentle touch would probably be impossible to find.  "But Wonderduck," I hear you say, which as usual I respond with "How did you get in here?"  "But Wonderduck, what about the 'no 26 episode series' rule?"   Simple... I'm going to do the movie version.  The third film just came out on BD in Japan.  If I break each film into three "episodes", that's nine writeups; I can also make do six, with two per movie if I feel like it.  Depends on the flow of each one, I guess.  I suspect fewer of my readers have seen the movies than the series anyway.

This is gonna be epic.  So whaddya think?

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April 29, 2013

BEHOLD!!!


TOAST!

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April 28, 2013

Cheesecake!

It's not like I have any lack of things to write about, it's just that I have a lack of interest in doing so right now.  As in, "I really don't want to do this.  REALLY don't want to."  So I'm not going to.  Instead, I'm going to post some cheesecake for you to enjoy.

Yes, yes, I know it's some fruit-based dessert, not cheesecake.  Just play along, huh?  Imagine there's some cheesecake underneath there, okay?

more...

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April 26, 2013

I No Longer Need Any More MilHist Books...

...for I have just obtained the final word in Military History titles.  My friends, cast your gaze longingly upon the newest, and perhaps final, addition to The Shelf:

If ever proof was needed that good things can come in small packages, Lake Michigan's Aircraft Carriers by Paul M Somers is that proof.  Clocking in at 128 pages, over three-quarters of them photographs, LMAC tells the story of the USS Wolverine and USS Sable, the world's only fresh-water paddlewheel aircraft carriers.  I first wrote about these two training carriers back in 2010, long before I knew about this valuable work, which was released in 2003.  It's actually a little sparse on the actual history, beyond simple numbers, but that's okay.  We're not here for the numbers, we're really here for the pictures, many of which I've never seen before, and all in excellent quality. 

To be honest, however, I can't recommend that you rush out and purchase this book, because I really doubt that you're as insane as I am.  If you are, well heck, go crazy... er... I mean... oh, you know what I mean.  In any case, it's a fun little addition to The Shelf, and I'm happy I've gotten it.  How many people do YOU know that can say they've got a book on freshwater paddlewheel aircraft carriers in their collection?

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April 25, 2013

Right, Giving Up!


I've just discovered how hard it is to write something interesting on a subject you thought would be fun to write about, but was horribly wrong.  So instead here's a picture of a flat-out beautiful ship.

That's the HMS Enterprise.  Darn, that's pretty.

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April 23, 2013

Meet My Newest Duck

As the title says, I'd like you to meet my newest duck!

I know he looks like a racing duck that you'd find in a river somewhere, and to be honest, that's why I picked him off the shelf in the first place.  It wasn't until I got him home that I discovered his true purpose in life and the skill that sets him apart from all of my other rubber duckies.

He glows!  Now, to be sure, I have other light-up duckies, but they all flash or color-cycle; none of them just glow brightly enough to show up on camera without a ridiculously long exposure.  Because of this, I've named him Cherenkov, or "Cherny" for short.  I've got Frank next to him, just so you can see that he gives off light... and since Frank already glows, no worries!

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45

Today is English Language Day at the UN.  It's also the honored Independence Day for the Conch Republic, first declared in 1982.  Japanese composer Kenji Kawaii was born today in 1957, as was Roy Orbison in 1936.  Today is an important day for the navy of the Netherlands, as both Karel Doorman and Maarten Tromp were born on April 23rd.  New Coke debuted today in 1985, leading Vaucaunson's Duck and myself to scurry around Duckford trying to find as much "old" Coke as we could.  The confusingly named People's Liberation Army Navy was founded today in 1949.  And 45 years ago, in a hospital somewhere on the North Side of Chicago, a Wonderduck was unleashed upon the world.


Birthday candle!
Nobody is more surprised than myself.

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April 21, 2013

F1 Update!: Bahrain 2013

Remember when you could watch a Formula 1 race and expect that Hannibal Vettel was going to win?  It was only two seasons ago that he dominated the sport, so we're not talking that much time.  Remember how much fun that year was?  You do?  Good.  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2013 Grand Prix of Bahrain!

*BACK IN THE BAD OLD DAYS:  It took two laps, but Red Bull's Hannibal Vettel passed the Mercedes of polesitter Nico Rosberg for the lead.  He then proceeded to run away and hide.  The only car that seemed to have the guts to hang with him, the Ferrari of HWMNBN, managed to stay in contact for eight laps.  At that point, his DRS flap stuck in the open position, requiring two unscheduled stops to close permanently and the last possible challenger was gone.  Vettel ran away with the race.

*OH SO CLOSE: For most of the race, Force India's Paul di Resta had a podium position.  For a few laps, in fact, he led the race while Vettel pitted.  Eventually the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen passed him for second.  Then, alas, with five laps remaining, Lettuce Grosjean's newer tires took him past for third.  It would have been Force India's second ever podium, and di Resta's best finish ever.

*THE REST:  Meh.  Sergio Perez apparently thought that Red Bull thing of a few weeks ago was cool, so he decided to run into his teammate, Jenson Button.  Felipe Massa had two right-rear tire failures to kill any chance he had.  We here at F1U! just couldn't be bothered, to be honest.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  HWMNBN.  His DRS system stuck open twice in two laps.  It looked like it would open, then for whatever reason, it would get caught in the airflow and open wider than it was supposed to.  After it happened the second time, Ferrari told him "don't use it anymore." Racing from last, he managed to drive a crippled car back up the grid to finish eighth.  Amazing job.  Honorable mention to Paul di Resta for a heckuva weekend.

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  Lotus.  Kimi in second, Lettuce in third, and the team is now second in the Constructors Championship.  Yeah, not bad.

*MOVE OF THE RACE
:  On Lap 20, Lettuce Grosjean passed Nico Rosberg for third.  To do so, he took advantage of McLaren's Jenson Button having passed Rosberg mere moments earlier, as Rosberg was out of position.  It was a slick move, but completely unphotogenic.  Still, here's your award, Lettuce!  Nice job!

*MOOOOOOO-OOOVE OF THE RACE
:  Oddly enough, the only Moooooo-ooove-worthy thing that occurred today was on Lap 1, which means it isn't eligible to win the award.  It also wasn't on camera, so Giedo Van De Garde gets away with it.  Barely.  We've got our eyes on him, though.  So this week's award goes to Pirelli for Felipe Massa's right-rear tire failures.  They claim it was due to debris, but there were no other failures all day.  Methinks Pirelli just had some bad rubber in the mix.

Look how close that hull came to coming off the rim altogether.  Great job, Pirelli!  Here's your Moooooooo-oooove!

*SELECTED DRIVER QUOTES OF THE RACE
:

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April 20, 2013

F1 Quals: Bahrain 2013

So... Bahrain.  Not much to say about it.  Here's the provisional grid for the 2013 Grand Prix of Bahrain:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:33.364 1:32.867 1:32.330
2 Hannibal Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:33.327 1:32.746 1:32.584
3 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:32.878 1:33.316 1:32.667
4 Shiv Hamilton Mercedes 1:33.498 1:33.346 1:32.762
5 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:33.966 1:33.098 1:33.078
6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:33.780 1:33.358 1:33.207
7 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:33.762 1:33.335 1:33.235
8 Adrian F'n Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:34.048 1:33.378 1:33.246
9 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:33.827 1:33.146 1:33.327
10 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:34.071 1:33.702
11 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:33.498 1:33.762
12 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:34.310 1:33.914
13 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:34.120 1:33.974
14 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:34.409 1:33.976
15 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:34.425 1:34.105
16 Jules Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:34.314 1:34.284
17 Dob-dob Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:34.425

18 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:34.730

19 Charles ToothPic Caterham-Renault 1:35.283

20 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1:36.178

21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:36.304

22 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:36.476


Q1 107% Time
1:39.379

There are penalties all over the place here.  Webber has a three-spot penalty from last race.  Esteban Gutierrez gets a five-place penalty from last race, too.  Shiv Hamilton is taking a five-spot hit for a gearbox change.  The upshot of all of it is that Felipe Massa is promoted to 4th place, and he's the only car on the Hard tires.  THAT might be really important.

But probably not.  Pirelli has brought the Hard and the Medium rubber to the circuit this race.  The Medium compound has proven to be nearly as long-lasting as the Hard, but still gives a measurable bonus to traction.  Maybe Massa's going to try a 1-stop strategy? 

We'll find out Sunday morning.  See ya then for F1Update!

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April 18, 2013

Vividred Operation Ep12

The final episode of a series is usually accompanied by one or more emotions.  A sense of relief?  A feeling of accomplishment?  Sadness?  Joy?  I know I've felt all of these at the end of shows, good and bad.  However, when it comes to the type of show that I do writeups for, an approaching final episode does nothing but fill me with dread.  "Saving the best for last" is not what Rio Rainbow Gate! or High School of the Dead are known for (Ga-Rei Zero was actually a good show, and therefore exempt from these statements).  And, if we must be honest with ourselves, it's not like we're expecting much of anything out of Vividred Operation, right?  So when last episode ended with Hot Dark Girl Rei and her kickarse scarf being swallowed whole by Croooow!, it's not like there was any feeling of dramatic tension or anything.  Of course Team Aquos will rescue her, and of course there'll be a VividBlack appearance, and of course it'll kick Croooow!'s feathery tail into next week.  None of this is in doubt, the Production Staff isn't creative enough to do anything else.  The only question in my mind going into Ep12 was "Will Gendo Plushyferret be put back into his human body, and how will they manage it?"  Well, let's find out, shall we?  Welcome to the final episode of Vividred Operation!

Huh.  Looks a lot like the end of the penultimate episode of Vividred Operation.  That's Ascended Croooow!, after swallowing Hot Dark Girl Rei and her kickarse scarf, and there's still absolutely no resemblance to one of Evangelion's Angels.  None at all.  Purely coincidental.  Please don't sue us, Gainax.

RHF has gone into mental BSOD, crying about how she couldn't protect Hot Dark Girl Rei, while the other three just look at her like she's gone insane.  To be fair, that's pretty much how I feel about myself regarding this entire show, so I can't honestly hold that against them.  Y'know what?  I just wrote that sentence, and I honestly can't claim there's that much vitriol behind my words.  Vividred Operation doesn't create the sort of WTF levels that, say, High School of the Dead or Rio Rainbow Gate! caused in me.  It's just sorta there, and that's a bad place for a show to be.  It's a dead fish wrapped in newspaper of a series, lying on your doorstep, slowly beginning to smell in the midday sun, and perhaps you need to clean that up. 

MegaCroooow! proves to be even more powerful than the Alones... conventional weaponry could at least whittle away at them, but the Black Bird of Doom proves to be impervious to everything thrown at it, short of N2 mines, or whatever it is they call those here in this Eva wannabe.  But then, just when all hope seems lost and more, Gendo Plushyferret discovers that M-m-m-m-monsterCroooow! has the exact same energy signature as Hot Dark Girl Rei and her kickarse scarf... she's still alive, and inside that thing.

Well, yeah.  Seeing how this show has been more about Rei and less about the nominal main character, RHF, you'd kinda expect her to be alive, wouldn't you?  I also expect to see Vividscarf by the time this is all over.  Heh.  Vividscarf Operation... I'd pay good money for that.

more...

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April 16, 2013

Random Anime Picture #76: Uhhhh... Should We Be Seeing This?


-Hataraku Maou-Sama! Ep01

The best I can say about HMS is that it didn't stink.  That's about it.  Still, that's better than a lot of shows.

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April 15, 2013

F1 On NBCSN: Bahrain 2013

So.  Here we are again, going into Bahrain for the oh-so-popular Grand Prix of Bahrain.  Here's the track map:

There are still protests occurring on this tiny island country.  Reports are that the Government rounded up dozens of pro-Democracy leaders and imprisoned them last week.  The most intense protests are, unsurprisingly, still centered around our little sport and the intense media circus that follows along.  Also unsurprisingly, F1 Supremo Bernie Ecclestone is clueless: "What’s happened? They’re demonstrating now? I didn’t know that. There’s nobody demonstrating."  The ridiculously loose collective of individuals calling themselves "Anonymous" are saying that they'll be targeting F1 this weekend as well, due to "Mr Ecclestone's blood race."  Last year, they took down the official F1 website on race day.

All of this for a race that, quite honestly, is not very good.  The track is used only rarely each year, it's dusty and sandy, which means it's horribly horribly abrasive as well.  According to Pirelli, it's the circuit that's hardest on tires, due to a combination of grippy asphalt and gritty sand.  I've often joked of circuits being made of "sandpaper and razor blades", but it appears that Bahrain really is.

We're not likely to experience much in the way of weather.  There's always the chance of a sandstorm, but rain is almost certainly not going to happen.  Building your track out in the middle of a desert provides you with one benefit over circuits like, say, Singapore: you've got a LOT of run-off room.  It's probably the safest circuit on the calendar that way.  Never mind the rioters.

Still, the Legendary Announce Team will do their usual bang-up job on race coverage.  Here's the schedule:
FRIDAY
6a - 730a:  Practice 2 live 
SATURDAY
6a - 730a:  Quals live
SUNDAY
630a - 9a:  2013 Grand Prix of Bahrain, live

As with the past few years, though we here at F1Update! don't think that F1 should be racing in Bahrain, since they are, we'll be covering the race.  The past two have been dominated by Seb Vettel... let's hope for something different this year.  See ya then!

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April 14, 2013

F1 Update!: China 2013

There are races that are nailbiters from start to finish, where you have the leaders racing mere feet from each other, while the rest of the grid hovers just carlengths behind, hoping for an mistake.  Then you have the races where one or two cars dominate the field, running away over the horizon, leaving the field fighting for second or third.  Today was neither of these.  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2013 Grand Prix of China!

*GRAPHS AND CHARTS:  There were actually two races going on today: the one on-track, and the one on the tires.  Those who started on the Soft tires and got off them at the beginning of the race, i.e., most everybody, had one race going on.  Those few who started on the Medium tires and chose to pit late in the race for the Soft rubber (Vettel, Button, Hulkenberg) had the other race, which turned out to be for the fastest non-podium position.  That meant that we had the weird image of Hannibal Vettel leading the race on track, but in fourth position on the pit rotation.

*THE RACE IN GENERAL
:  Meh.  Once the first pit stop to get off the Soft tires occurred, it became something of a processional.  HWMNBN passed Shiv Hamilton on Lap 5 using the DRS system, and though we didn't realize it at the time, that was the end of the race right there.  The Ferrari was just awesome today, pretty much dominating the field.  Vettel would take the lead on the pit stops, but when the Ferrari wound up passing the Red Bull despite the difference in tires, it was clear who had the best car.  When Vettel finally stopped to get his Soft tires, he was nearly eight seconds behind HWMNBN on track... but nearly 30 seconds behind on paper.  He re-emerged in fourth, 12 seconds behind Shiv Hamilton.  While he would eat that up, closing to less than an half-second behind in five laps, but the Soft tires turned into the legendary jelly donut just as he was getting ready to make a move for the podium.  HWMNBN led Kimi Raikkonen by 10 seconds at the checkered flag, and the Finn led Shiv by two seconds to complete your podium.

*FINAL JUDGEMENT
: What was the race like?  We here at F1U! kept falling asleep.  In the middle of the day.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  HWMNBN got his first win in 13 races.  Just hugely dominant.

*TEAM OF THE RACE
:  Ferrari.  They finished 1st - 6th, closed the gap to Red Bull in the constructor's championship to just a few points, and generally dominated the day.  What more could you want?

*MOVE OF THE RACE:  On Lap 5, we had the image of HWMNBN and teammate Felipe Massa behind the Silver Arrow of Shiv Hamilton as they turned onto the start/finish straight.

The Spaniard made quick work of the Brit with his DRS advantage (the FIA added a second DRS zone late; the front straight), clearing the road for his Brazilian teammate.

While Shiv did everything he could to keep Massa behind, weaving across the track (legally!), the result looked inevitable.

...and sure enough, Massa outmuscled the Merc into Turn 1, slapping Hamilton in the face and handing him a two-position loss... to the SAME TEAM... in one straightaway.  Bravo, Ferrari.  Here's your shared Move of the Race!

*MOOOOOO-OOOOVE OF THE RACE:  There can be only one.

Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez, in a odd attempt to get past the McLaren of Sergio Perez, decided that he didn't really need to break for a turnOHCRAPFORCEINDIA!!!  The Sauber was out on the spot, Adrian F'n Sutil managed to make it back to the pits with a deranged rear wing, at which point the hydraulic fluid for the DRS dripped onto the hot brakes and caught fire.  Nicely done, Gutierrez!  Welcome to the big show, here's a Mooooo!

*SELECTED DRIVER QUOTES OF THE RACE:

more...

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April 13, 2013

F1 Quals: China 2013

As I mentioned yesterday, Friday Practice sessions for Formula 1 almost always consists of two things: cars turning lots of laps, and cars turning lots of laps.  Not to be outdone, Saturday Quals almost always consists of a decreasing number of cars turning lots of laps.  Here's the grid for the 2013 Grand Prix of China:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Shiv Hamilton Mercedes 1:35.793 1:35.078 1:34.484
2 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:37.046 1:35.659 1:34.761
3 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:36.253 1:35.148 1:34.788
4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:35.959 1:35.537 1:34.861
5 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:35.972 1:35.403 1:34.933
6 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:36.929 1:36.065 1:35.364
7 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:36.993 1:36.258 1:35.998
8 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:36.667 1:35.784 2:05.673
9 Hannibal Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:36.537 1:35.343 No time
10 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:36.985 1:36.261 No time
11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:37.478 1:36.287
12 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:36.952 1:36.314
13 Adrian F'n Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:37.349 1:36.405
DSQ Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:36.148 1:36.679
15 Pirate Captain Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:37.281 1:37.139
16 Jules Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:37.508 1:37.199
17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:37.769

18 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:37.990

19 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1:38.780

20 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:39.537

21 Charles ToothPic Caterham-Renault 1:39.614

22 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:39.660


Q1 107% Time
1:42.498

In the 20-minute long Q1 session, we didn't see a car on track until nearly the half-way point.  See, here's the problem... the tires Pirelli has brought to China are the Medium and the Soft compounds.  We already know that the Mediums last forever, but we haven't seen the Softs until this weekend... and HOOBOY, do the teams have a conundrum.  See, they have nearly a 1.5 second time difference over the Mediums... but they last for about two hot laps before they die screaming, and that's when the cars are light on fuel.  With a full 300lbs of gas on board?  They might make it to the end of the pit lane before they fall off... it depends on where your pit box is located.  Since the teams know that they've got to use a set of these jelly-filled donuts during the race... well, you can see why they weren't out there, pounding out the laps.  Almost nobody bothered taking the covers off the Mediums in Q1... what's the point?  Kill off the Softs in Q1, maybe you'll get to Q2. 

In the 15-minute Q2 session, again people didn't come out until the session clock had been going for a while.  Again, the jelly-donuts were the rule of the day, and everything looked to be as boring as Q1 until we saw this sight:

While he had managed to set a time, Mark Webber couldn't make it back to the pits.  The team called it a "fuel pickup problem."  Yes, the problem was that there was no fuel for the fuel pickup to pick up.  A problem with the fueling rig left him about six pounds of gas short of the planned amount.  A dumb mistake, but it happens.  However, the Stewards take a dim view of that during quals, as cars have to present one liter of fuel to scruitineering after the session.  Webber wasn't able to do so: no fuel left.  So the Stewards DQ'd him from Quals.  While he was 14th, he'll be starting from the back of the grid on Sunday.  I'm absolutely sure that there aren't any conspiracy theories flying around about how Red Bull  "accidentally" shorted Webber for his anger after the last race.  None whatsoever.

Then came Q3.  Hannibal Vettel was first out, but didn't set a time and never moved from the garage again.  McLaren's Jenson Button went out and drove the entire lap with his turn signal blinking... a 2:05.673 was the result, as he tiptoed around, taking care of the rubber.  Those two will be starting on the Mediums; everybody else is on the Soft rubber.

So the race is going to be one of alternating tire strategies: most will go Soft Medium Medium.  Most will be going Medium Medium Soft.  From where I sit, that seems to be the best plan... but that's why they race the race, isn't it?  It's supposed to be dry and warm on Sunday, we'll see you then!

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April 12, 2013

F1 Practice: China 2013

Friday Practice sessions for Formula 1 almost always consists of two things: cars turning lots of laps, and cars turning lots of laps.  Today was just like that, only moreso.

In other words, it was dull.  The track at China doesn't help matters a whit, because even down the long straight, it doesn't like the cars are going particularly fast.  In fact, the big news out of today is that Seb Vettel, the man who wants to win so badly that he'll break team orders to do it, has apparently decided to drop the facade and turn full Hannibal Lecter:

"Had I understood the message and had I thought about it, reflected on it, thought what the team wanted to do, to leave Mark in first place and me finishing second... I think I would have thought about it and I would probably have done the same thing... ...There is quite a conflict, because on the one hand I am the kind of guy who respects team decisions and the other hand, probably Mark is not the one who deserved it at the time."

He then ate a reporter's liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.  Reportedly, Red Bull has decided to do away with team orders; they're kinda pointless when neither driver is going to follow them anyway.  The real loser in all this is the Team Principle, Christian Horner.  Clearly he isn't the boss of the team, Hannibal Vettel is.  Just like Webber said, no repercussions.  Should be extremely interesting to see how this plays out down the road...

Meanwhile, over at Mercedes, Hamilton and Rosberg are having no problems, despite their little brush against the team orders thing last week.  Unless you think that Hamilton's eye-and-nose problem on Thursday was caused by something other than Shanghai's air pollution... conspiracy!

Quals in the morning.  Unfortunately, I'll be at the Duck U Bookstore until mid-afternoon.  See you then!

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April 10, 2013

Random Anime Picture #75: Is It REALLY Random When I Had To Stich The Shot Together?

"Cheesecake: the last refuge of the lazy blogger."

To be fair, I have reason.  My ASM is on vacation this week, it's been ridiculously warm in the Duck U Bookstore, I'm old, my heart seems to want to be Gene Krupa when it grows up, one of my friends was forced to use his kidney as a yo-yo, and my boss is showing up tomorrow.  There has been no stress whatsoever in my life as of recent.  So enjoy the cheesecake, I have a shirt that needs ironing.

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April 08, 2013

F1 On NBCSN: China 2013!

Well.  It has been a while, hasn't it?  I would think that, in this day and age, you could get from Koala Lumper to Shanghai in faster than two weeks and change, but sometimes the fastest seasonal sport on the planet can be awfully slow.  Well, that's all behind us now, because we've got a race this weekend!  And not just any race, oh no.  It's the Grand Prix of China!  Let's take a look at the track map:

Yeah, the Tilkenator is at it again.  From Turn 1 to Turn 10, there's almost no point in trying to pass anybody, because he made it damn near impossible by throwing turns willy-nilly.  This is one of the very few circuits on the calendar where you have to worry about smog.  The engines don't run as well in it, there's a metric farkton of dust around the place due to the surrounding factories, and on and on.  It's one of the few places where rain probably improves the way the cars behave.

The F1 world has been rather quiet during the past few weeks.  Nobody's been crying too loudly about the tires, the Red Bull orders thingy has been swept under the rug, and there's almost been more discussion about the upcoming Grand Prix of Bahrain than about this one.  Well, that's fine, too.  I'd rather we pay attention to the racing than the politics of the sport, though it does put some extra pressure on the Legendary Announce Team.  I have faith in them, I do I do.  Here's the schedule:
FRIDAY
1am - 230a : Practice 2 live
SATURDAY
1a - 230a : Quals live
SUNDAY
130a - 430a : 2013 Grand Prix of China live, plus F1 Extra.
Because NBCSN's schedule website is so awful, please take all these times with a grain of salt, and please please please check your local listings.

Now that we've got that out of the way, we've FINALLY gotten a trailer for the upcoming F1 movie "RUSH".  Let's take a look, shall we?

Ron Howard, please take all my money.  Yes, this is real, and it is spectacular.  It's also due September, 2013.  Based on the real story of Niki Lauda and James Hunt and the 1976 season.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:40 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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April 07, 2013

Vividred Operation Ep11

Hello, greetings, and welcome to this, the writeup for the eleventh episode of Vividred Operation!  I'm Wonderduck, your host and tour guide through this example of the art of anime.  I have a feeling that this will be an important and exciting adventure in episodic recapping, so please grab a beverage of your choice, settle into a comfy chair, relax and enjoy, won't you?  As you may remember, in the last episode the antagonist, known to us as Hot Dark Girl Rei, had been caught in her attempt to super-dooper-power-up an attacking Alone.  When she realized that those opposing her were people she thought were friends, namely the RHF and the rest of Team Aquos, she kinda went a little bugnutty.  The episode ended with the screen going black and the sound of a gunshot, leading us to believe that the marines had just shot her in the head.  Quite the conundrum!  So where does Episode 11 begin?

From pretty much the same place, except the rest of Team Aquos has joined the party, and they're just as mind-blown as RHF.  Hot Dark Captive Girl Rei has it allllllllll worked out: they really were just playing her for a fool.  Actually, I'm fairly sure it was the Production Staff doing that, but that's just me. 

Anyway, she's bundled onto a waiting tiltrotor and taken away, and while I've been kinda hard on this show in a lot of ways, the one aspect that has rarely disappointed has been the animation quality.  Even on this little throwaway shot of the plane taking off and flying away, they made sure to have heat distortion from the engine exhausts.  I mean, they're no Production I.G. or anything, but A-1 Pictures has absolutely nothing to be ashamed about with this show.

I mean, other than camera angles that would make pedobear blush.  At least we haven't had a "sunrise between the legs" shot in a while.  Thankfully.

But then, it wouldn't be Vividred Operation without them, would it?  I leave it as a study for the viewer to decide if that's a good thing or not.

more...

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:43 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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April 06, 2013

Random Anime Picture #74: Pbppbpbbbbbth!


-Photokano, Ep01
Highschool guy is given a camera.  Spends the rest of the series taking pictures of cute girls.  How can this be anything but great?

Really easily, to be honest.  There's the whole "creepy photography club" thing, and the voyeuristic fetish thing that, admittedly, the main character acknowledges and tries to deal with.  There's also the "bad writing" and "cardboard characterization" stuff, too.  Still, it probably won't be too awful.

I can suffer through it, I suspect.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:33 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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April 05, 2013

When Aircraft Carriers Flew

Over the years, I've written about all sorts of aircraft carriers.  Tiny ones, small ones, big ones, bad ones, even aircraft carriers that were submarines.  Today, though, I'm going to talk about what might be the strangest of them all: an aircraft carrier that could fly.

The USS Akron (ZRS-4) and her sister ship, the USS Macon (ZRS-5) were two of the largest things ever to fly, and the largest helium-filled airships ever at 785 feet long.  Only the Hindenburg was longer, and only by 20 feet.  Despite that immense size, they only weighed 110 tons and could make 72kts at maximum speed.  Their role with the US Navy was to be that of reconnaissance.  With a range of 12000 miles, more or less, crossed with their speed, they could easily scout ahead of the fleet.  However, it was recognized that something that size was hardly invisible and made for one juicy target, even if their helium gasbags meant that they wouldn't go foom the way zeppelins did in WWI.  Enter the Sparrowhawk.

Both the Akron and Macon could carry up to five F9C Sparrowhawk fighters, though four was the norm.  These were carried inside the dirigibles, and were launched and recovered via a "trapeze" unit.  Simply put, the hook on the top wing would engage the trapeze, which then hauled the plane up into the hangar.  To launch, they were lowered via the trapeze, then the hook would be disengaged.  The Sparrowhawk would then fall away, in yet another example of why pilots are insane.

The Sparrowhawks were not carried for local defense, though they could certainly perform in that role.  Instead, they were to increase the scouting area of the mothership, and allow the Akron and Macon to stay a safe distance from the targets.  On the whole, there's no reason why this wouldn't have worked, and test results were generally favorable.  There was no terrible difficulty with the trapeze unit, other than the sheer ridiculousness of the concept.

Unfortunately, neither the Akron or the Macon had long careers in the Navy.  Dirigibles are, as you can imagine, inherently somewhat fragile.  On April 4th, 1933, a mere two years after her launching, Akron was lost when she flew into a storm front over the Atlantic.  73 of her crew of 76 were lost.  Two years later, the Macon was struck by a severe gust of wind that carried away her upper tailfin (weakened by a previous accident and insufficiently repaired).  She settled gently into the Pacific Ocean, and 74 of her crew survived.

But for a while, they were flying aircraft carriers.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:17 PM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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