July 31, 2013

Yard Hopping

So Don is playing in Steven's yard, and for whatever reason that's driven Steven to play in my yard, so now it's time for me to play in Steven's yard, except it's not quite what he usually has in his yard, so it's more like I'm playing in the creepy shed in the corner of his yard.  Or some other yard-based metaphor that hasn't come to mind yet, your choice.  Anyway... behold!

Okay, they aren't red, but this is from Hatsukoi Limited, a series that aired in 2009, long before the current fad became a thing.  These... these are practically ur-red-half-frame-glasses!  Revel in this discovery, Steven, you seeker of special spectacles, for they may have been the harbinger of greater things!

Not that this isn't pretty great.

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July 30, 2013

I... Uh... Hm. Well.

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July 28, 2013

F1 Update!: Hungary 2013

Hot.  A clear, cloudless sky graced by a flaming sun greeted the F1 Circus as the cars rolled onto the grid.  The ambient air temperature was over 90°, the track surface was well over 120° and everybody was anxiously eying the soft tires to see if they'd melt or just fuse to the asphalt.  Did they?  Did the heat help or hinder polesitter Shiv Hamilton?  Or was bloodthirsty Hannibal Vettel going to be able to do bad things to the rest of the field?  THIS is your F1Update! for the 2013 Grand Prix of Hungary!

*AND WE'RE OFF!:  To be honest, we here at F1U! were expecting the usual "Vettel takes the lead, then runs away and hides" race.  And we were wrong.  Today, the Red Bull RB9 looked mortal... worse, it looked human.  In the opening stint, Hamilton led the field from pole, with Vettel around a second back.  However, he couldn't get much closer as he had the Lotus of Lettuce Grosjean stabbing and diving at him for position.  While entertaining enough, it was clear that the soft tires of everybody at the front of the field weren't going to last long... and they didn't.  The instant he felt his rubber going bad on Lap 9, Hamilton pitted, and the race, oddly, hung in the balance.

*ON THE BUTTON:  The Mercedes driver came out behind his former teammate, Jenson Button, in 8th place.  Button had started on the medium tires, which would last some 25 laps.  Hamilton had switched to the mediums as well, and on his fresher tires swept past the McLaren driver at the beginning of the next lap and began to turn fast laps.  Then it was time for Hannibal Vettel to pit.  He too switched to the medium tires, and he too came out of the pits behind Jenson Button.  The difference, however, is that the Mercedes has a top speed of at least six mph faster than the Red Bull, and Vettel simply could not make a move on Button as a result.  It took until Lap 24, when the McLaren's tires finally went, lemming-like, over the cliff, for Vettel to get past the Glare On Wheels.  At the end of the first tire stint, Vettel trailed Hamilton by around 1.5 seconds.  When Vettel finally got around Button, he was over 13 seconds behind, and the race was essentially over.

*GOING FOR SILVER:  Kimi Raikkonen had a different tire plan from everybody else.  Most of the field was on a three-stop strategy, but Raikkonen, driving a Lotus that was historically gentle on its tires, was going for a two-stop.  Late in the race, it looked like it was about to pay off... he was in second place, but on Lap 55, Vettel pitted for the final time and set off in pursuit of the Finn.  It took him approximately four laps to get within DRS range but there it stopped.  Even though the Lotus had significantly worn tires, and Vettel got to use DRS, the speed difference was negligible... the Red Bull could get close, but couldn't do any more.  Then, just as an anticlimax, the pit wall began to instruct Vettel to begin entering fail codes into the steering wheel, and to back off the man in second place for cooling purposes. 

*AS AN ASIDE:  Heat has always been the Achilles heel of Adrian Newey-designed cars.  As perhaps the premiere aerodynamicist in F1 history, his designs are marvels at the esoteric art of bending airflow to the whims of the quest for speed.  As a result, his cars get every gram of aero downforce possible out of the rules, but this often comes at a cost.  First, his cars lack straight-line speed, caused by the drag inherent in downforce.  Second, his designs are sensitive to ambient heat.  The aerodynamic bodywork is so detailed, so sculpted, and so precise that there's usually no extra space to allow for cooling.  During today's race, the team told Vettel to back away from the car ahead two different times: chasing Button and chasing Raikkonen.  The RB9 needed to get clean air into its radiators to keep from overheating in the ridiculously hot Hungarian atmosphere.  This cost the team dearly today.

*THE END:  Hamilton got his first win as a Mercedes driver, finishing some 11 seconds ahead of Kimi Raikkonen.  Vettel finished some three seconds back from the Lotus, followed by his teammate Mark Webber.  Ferrari's HWMNBN was 5th, over half-a-minute behind the leader.  Lettuce Grosjean, who had a penalty-filled race, finished in 6th, 52 seconds back.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  To be honest, nobody truly distinguished themselves today.  Hamilton won, clearly, and that's quite nice, but he wasn't particularly challenged at any time.  So instead of giving it to him, or Kimi, or Vettel, or anybody like that, we're giving it to Táltos Maldonado.  The Williams driver finished the race in 10th place, thus earning the legendary team their first point in the championship standings for 2013.

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  Red Bull.  They finished third and fourth, further solidifying their grasp on the Constructor's Championship.  On a day when nobody stood head-and-shoulders above the field, that's got to count for something.

*MOVE OF THE RACE:  On Lap 31, Jenson Button was behind the Ferrari of Felipe Massa.  He'd been behind for a bit, and was threatening to make a move on the Brazilian, but nothing was obviously going to happen anytime soon.  Then, as the pair headed towards the chicane-like Turn 6/7 complex, the McLaren driver decided he'd had enough.

A small bobble by the Ferrari driver opened the door for Button, who decided that he didn't have to brake for the upcoming turns.

Somehow keeping the car from flying off into the Hungarian wilderness, Button managed to make the turns and just steal 7th place from Massa.  It wasn't a flashy pass, but it was very well done indeed, and impressed us enough to win the MotR. 

*MOOOOOOOOOO-OOOOVE OF THE RACE:  On Lap 24, Jenson Button was heading a train of cars, with Hannibal Vettel, Lettuce Grosjean and HWMNBN all stacked behind him.  Unfortunately, his tires had fallen off the cliff, and it was clearly just a matter of time before the field swallowed him up.  Vettel went by, and then Grosjean thought he'd have a go.  First, he got most of the way past the McLaren, then tried to get back on the racing line.

Then he decided that he didn't really need to follow the layout of the track.

As is usually the case, the stewards took a dim view of these actions, hitting him with a 20-second time penalty after the race.  It had no effect on his place in the standings, but it did show that last year's goofball is still lurking somewhere.  Here's your Mooooo, Lettuce.



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July 27, 2013

(Throwing Hands Up In Frustration)

Right, I give up.  I've done everything I can do, everything I can think of, and this stupid graphics card is still not working.  Either the card has a problem, or it just won't work with my computer.  Either is possible, I have no idea which is more likely.


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F1 Quals: Hungary

Look, I haven't watched Quals yet, I don't know if I'm going to get a chance to due to this computer kerfluffle.  There WILL be a F1Update! tomorrow, and here's the provisional grid for the race, but either this computer is going to work or I'm buying a new one very soon.

Here's the grid:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Shiv Hamilton Mercedes 1:20.363 1:19.862 1:19.388
2 Hannibal Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:20.646 1:19.992 1:19.426
3 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:20.447 1:20.101 1:19.595
4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:20.350 1:19.778 1:19.720
5 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:20.652 1:20.183 1:19.791
6 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:20.867 1:20.243 1:19.851
7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:21.004 1:20.460 1:19.929
8 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:21.181 1:20.527 1:20.641
9 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:21.612 1:20.545 1:22.398
10 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:21.264 1:20.503 No time
11 Adrian F'n Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:21.471 1:20.569
12 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:21.028 1:20.580
13 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:21.131 1:20.777
14 Jules Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:21.345 1:21.029
15 Táltos Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:20.816 1:21.133
16 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:21.135 1:21.219
17 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:21.724

18 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:22.043

19 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1:23.007

20 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:23.333

21 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1:23.787

22 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:23.997

I gather that Shiv took pole at the very last moment from Hannibal, and that Mark Webber had serious car trouble all day, which is why he didn't set a time in Q3.

Right, everybody back on your heads!

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July 26, 2013

Graphics Card Installed, Problems Continue!

Right, this is getting really annoying.  After dinner, I sat down in front of the open side of my computer and gently installed the eVGA GT630 I purchased last week.  At first, it looked like everything was going smoothly... the drivers installed without freezing, which just confirms that indeed, the PSU was the problem.  Great!  Reboot when prompted, and voila!  Windows boots up...

...Blue Screen of Death.  "Machine_Check_Exception."  Again.

Now I began to invent curse words.  If you ever hear me say "serathilk", you know I'm really pissed.  I rebooted in safe mode, removed drivers, and tried again.  After a couple of tries (with BSoDs) , install happened, rebooted, and the screen came back up in 1440 x 900 resolution!  Yay! 

Then it BSoD'ed again.  The only thing I can figure is that, somewhere, my motherboard hates the GT630.  Or everything hates ME, one of the two.

I've sent a support request to eVGA, maybe I'll hear from them this weekend.

I really wanted to play Kerbal Space Program this weekend, too.

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PSU Installed!

It only took nigh on three hours to do, but my computer now has a 600w Corsair CX600 installed.  Now, I'm sure many of you out there are saying to yourself "three hours?  How in the world did it take that long???"

Well, there were a few problems along the way.  Problem number one, and the most time-consuming, discovering that the CX600 doesn't actually have a four-pin 12v ATX connector.  This, I found out after I had spent an hour and a bit getting the old PSU out, getting the new one in, and running cable.  The four-pin 12v ATX is used on old motherboards, like mine, and is never seen anymore.  After nearly removing the installed CX600 in frustration, I remembered that I have another computer (which I'm typing this post on) and could google around about this conundrum.  This is where I discovered that Corsair has a more modern eight-pin connector that splits into two four-pin 12v ATXs.  While I wish that had been obvious from looking at the various cables, it's done and over with.

Problem number two, and the most aggravating, was finding out that my old PSU was actually better equipped for hard-drive and DVD drive power cables.  That one, an old ThermalTake (which only puts 18amps to the 12v rail, by the way... well below the 20 required for my new graphics card, which confirms the suspicions of all of you, and thanks!), has four individual cords with a four-pin molex connector on them.  The CX600 has ONE cord with four molexi "spliced in."  The run from the top of my case (DVD) to the bottom (hard drive) is just barely within reach of the CX600's cord... and that, I think, only because my DVD drive is installed in the bottom of the optical drive bay.  If it was in the top slot, I don't think it'd reach.  Getting that cable run was quite annoying... I'm still not even sure I can put the side panel back on.

Problem number three was that the younger me who installed the ThermalTake PSU all these many years ago was something of a diplodocus when he put it in.  Slip-tabs that would normally hold the drive in place were badly bent, a plastic friction clip wasn't there at all, so on and so forth.  As it is, I managed to re-bend the bottom tab to do a little bit of gripping, but the three case screws that are supposed to just lock the PSU in place are, instead, doing most of the work of keeping it from falling. 

So there it is... three hours of effort, dust and swearing... a LOT of swearing... but little Chiyo-chan now has a new heart PSU.  Next step is the graphics card, but that won't come until AFTER dinner.  I'm starving.

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July 25, 2013

Oh, HELL No.

Here are a few things I am NOT going to do that involve this film:

1) Watch this clip again
2) Watch this clip in HQ full-screen (again)
3) Watch it when it comes out
4) Watch it when it comes out in IMAX
5) Watch it when it comes out on Blu-Ray

Really, it might be the greatest movie of all time, but that makes no difference to me.  The thought of being adrift in space with no hope of rescue and a sudden reentry imminent is enough to turn my bowels to water and my knees to pudding.  SEEING one of my worst fears on the screen like that?  Nope, nope and a thousand times nope.

I'd rather chew my leg out of a bear trap than do that.

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July 24, 2013

I've Got So Much Nuthin', It Hurts!

...and that's a lot of nuthin'.  I've not had time nor energy enough to even think about installing the new PSU, which I remember as being a nasty job in this particular BTX case.  Well, ces't la vie.  More something will come soon, I hope.  Here, have something fun, on me:

I... uh... even I don't know what to say to that, and I'm the one that put it here.

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July 22, 2013

F1 On NBCSN: Hungary 2013

It's been three long weeks since the Grand Prix of Germany, and after this weekend, we'll have a full four weeks off for the annual F1 summer break.  So what single race do they give us to make us hungry for more?  What historic track do we get to make us long for the days of races on consecutive weekends?  Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you... the HUNGARORING!

A slow, high downforce circuit, it's called "Monaco without the glamour."  Which is a total lie, if you think that dusty and hot are glamourous.  For whatever reason, though, the Hungaroring is Hungary's #3 tourist attraction, behind the Danube and Lake Balaton, but ahead of Budapest.

Which says something about Hungary, I think.  For heaven's sake, this is one of the few tracks that doesn't rubber in as the weekend goes on... the dust comes on too quickly for that!  They seriously need to talk to the folks at Bahrain about using their "sand binder" thingy to keep the dust down.

Okay, let's be honest here.  I hate this place with a passion.  The only time this place coughs up a good race is when it rains, and then Jenson Button wins.  This is the place where Felipe Massa took a spring upside the helmet, and lost his mojo (and nearly his life) in the process.  This is the place where, many years ago, the Legendary Announce Team had their heads superimposed over those of people going down a waterslide that's just beyond the track... and that was the highlight of the race.

Well, it's only one weekend a year.  Surely I can muster up the enthusiasm for this one outstanding Formula 1 race?
The good news is that it's back to normal for the TV broadcasts.

Practice: 7a - 830a live
Quals: 7a - 830a live
2013 Grand Prix of Hungary: 630a - 9a live

All broadcasts are on NBCSN.  We'll be watching... will you?  See ya then!

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July 21, 2013

Graphics Card Weirdness

Okay, so here's the gig.  I had time today to finally install the new graphics card... and it wouldn't.  Let me explain.

The first time I tried, I got a black screen.  Okay, didn't get the card seated correctly... not hard to do when the PCI-E slot's locking lever is broken.  Pulled it out, stuck it back in, voila! 

Windows froze during boot.  Never even made it to the desktop.  Hold down the power button and try again.  Yay, desktop!  I wait for the computer to finish trying to find the mouse and keep hitting cancel on the driver search function, then plop the install disc into it and voila!

Windows froze during install.  It was at this point that I began to think that this wasn't going to go as smoothly as the other two times I've installed graphic cards.  Power button, reboot, bluescreen before POST.  As I was too flustered at what was going on, I didn't write it down (of course) but the relevant part that I remember was this: Machine Check Exception.

 Power button, desktop, cancel cancel cancel cancel install disc it makes it a little bit farther before lockup.  At this point, I give up, pull the brand new GeForce GT630 out, put the SPARKLE GT240 back in... it functions as long as I don't have it do anything more strenuous than Minesweeper... and everything works right as rain.  Sighing, I send eVGA an eMail, asking for advice.

Response: install the drivers under safe mode, and how much power does your PSU put out at the 12v rail?  B-b-b-b-but if I install the drivers under safe mode, that'll kill off the SPARKLE, and for me to read the label on the PSU, I have to remove the PSU... and I remember having the devil's own time physically installing it in the first place.  Oh, and it's seven years old, it may not be putting out that much power anymore, right?

Suggestions, anybody?  This sound similar to anyone?  I really don't want to sink more money into this if I don't absolutely have to, but I'm willing to invest in a new PSU if need be... I'll just put it into the new computer that'll be coming down the pike soon enough.

UPDATE: And all this after I splurged on Steam's summer sale, too.  Saints Row 3, the DLC for Skyrim, and Kerbal Space Program... and I can't play any of 'em!

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July 20, 2013

Saturday Night Tunage XVII

Oh no!  Look out!  It's another installment of Saturday Night Tunage with your host, DJ Wonderduck!

It amazes me that I've managed to go seven months since the last one of these, or at least that's what the search feature says, but it does appear to be true!  I do believe that I've deprived you, my faithful readers/listeners, for much too long.  What you believe, on the other hand,  is up to you!  I make no promises that these songs haven't been featured before, but I don't much care... I like 'em all the same!  With all that out of the way, let's get on with the tunage!


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July 18, 2013

Wanderduck's Missing Pictures

A few of you may remember the pictures from my trip to Orlando last month.  I was just going through the (metaphorical) pile of snapshots unused from the journey, and I realized that I didn't use my two favorites... because they didn't fit the narrative as well as some others.  In lieu of actual content, I aim to rectify that oversight right here, right now.

The first:

Just a duck somewhere above the middle of the country... far, far above the middle of the country.  Probably Indiana or Kentucky, as it was fairly early in the flight.  Love the clouds, and the somewhat wistful view of Wanderduck looking out the window.  Just a fun little picture.

The second:

Wanderduck with the biggest, cheesiest sh*t-eating-est grin you've ever seen on a rubber duckie.  He's such a ham.  Which, to be sure, is what makes him an ideal companion for journeys. 

For either picture, click to get a big version.  I'm sure Wanderduck'd love to be your desktop wallpaper for a while!

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July 16, 2013

The Gleam Is Off... um... EVERYTHING

Look, I know I occasionally whine and complain about stuff here at The Pond.  Stuff happens, and sometimes you just have to react.  But today... today, I have a legitimate cause to complain, and there's no way anybody would disagree with me.

My assistant manager gave her two weeks' notice today.

Classes start in four weeks.

No way I'm getting a replacement in time.  I'm going to be working open-to-close all the way through Rush, which'll take us into September.  I'm actually scheduled for 57 hours the week before classes start.

I'm doomed. 

And if that wasn't enough, my DVR appears to have coughed up a hard-drive and died.  Thankfully, I just rent it... I think.  But I lost all the movies and stuff I'd recorded.  Like the entirety of Firefly in HD.  Don't let nobody tell you different, "Our Mrs Reynolds" is worth watching in HD.  Oh yes, yes it surely is. 

I'm already there, I think.

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July 15, 2013

The Sparkle Is Off The Rose

Some of you may remember back nearly two years ago when I went through that joyous time I liked to call "graphics card hell".  That was the time when my old Nvidia 7600GT went all pear-shaped and I had to replace it.  The first attempt was with a 9800GT... which failed because it was a two-slot card and my case would only support a single.  The second attempt was a PNY GT240... which failed because it was out of stock with no return-to-stock date, which is a nice way of saying "never."  The third and final attempt was the acquisition of a GT240 from a company calling itself Sparkle.  By this time it was very much a case of burning down, falling over, then sinking into a swamp, but it did work.  And it worked very well indeed!  I was quite pleased by my purchase, and to be sure it was a lovely card and all was bacon and chocolate and chocolate-covered bacon.

I had no idea that was a thing... though I shouldn't be surprised, should I?
However, three months ago I had my first inkling of a problem: a high-pitched squealing noise issuing from the innards of my computer.  When it occurred, the first couple of times, a sharp rap on the case with my knuckles ("Bap!") usually made it stop.  Then it stopped for good on its own.  Since everything seemed to still work, I let it go with a shrug and a muttered oath: "Computers."  Which was fine, until I decided to play me some Skyrim.  Booted up the game, began to walk around, saw a bear come at me, drew my sword... and the screen went blank with a "no signal" message on it.  Meanwhile, the sounds of a bear eating my character began to emanate from the speakers.  Since I couldn't actually see anything, the only way I could reboot was to do the old "hold down the power switch" gig.  Then I tried it again, thinking that I must have accidentally done something to glitch the game.  Nope.  Same thing occurred, but faster this time.  Over the next few days, I experimented with other games.  Trine went for about 5 minutes before it did the same thing.  Hell, Motocross Madness 2 blacked out after about 15 minutes.  Some research pretty much confirmed my problem: overheating.  The squealing sound?  Death of the cooling fan on my Sparkle.  So I hied myself off to Amazon and got myself a new graphics card.

The GT630 is hardly a powerhouse... it may not even be as good as the Sparkle, to be honest.  But I don't much care at the moment as this whole experience has just pointed out to me that Chiyo-chan, my smart and lovely computer, is seven years old and essentially un-upgradeable anymore.  So the GT630 is only a stopgap card (and at $65, not an expensive one, either).  In about a month, the new school year begins at Duck U.  I think that as a "huzzah, you've survived!" gift to myself, I'll be getting a new computer... and that's if I don't get one before that.  I already have a name for it picked out... and that's the important bit, y'know.  I will, of course, keep you updated as the process goes on.  God help us all.

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July 13, 2013

The Evangelion Movies: 1.11 You Are (not) Alone, pt 2

A little over a month ago, I released the first part of the writeup for the first of the new Evangelion movies.  For a while there, I wasn't altogether sure there'd be a second part... this may come as a surprise to many of my readers, but these writeups often aren't the most fun things in the world to work on!  I'm sure you're shocked by this revelation, but it's really honestly true!  I mean, let's face it... it's not like the series I do writeups for are the best ever.  Then you get nominally good shows, like this one, that are sometimes unjustly lionized for their depth and subtle character analysis, when in fact they're just giant robot shows.  I exaggerate for effect in the case of Evangelion, but nobody who has seen the actual TV series can legitimately argue that, at its core, Gainax was just throwing crap at a wall to make pretty pictures.  Sometimes it stuck, sometimes it didn't, sometimes it hit walls in other rooms altogether.  In some ways, the movies improved on this technique so at least they're consistently hitting the wall.  That's a plus.

So if you remember correctly, at the end of the first writeup, Shinji Ikari, Our Hero, had just agreed to pilot the giant Eva Unit 01 after having Teh (hot, blue-haired) Rei literally dumped in his lap.  Well, yeah.  We pick up the action from that very point...

...or from the pr0n version of Tron, one of the two.  No, nothing phallic about the "Entry Plug" the pilot rides in, or that there's a graphic for "Plug Depth Status."  Nope... it gets worse when you realize (in the show at least) that the Evas are inhabited by the souls of the pilot's mothers.  Here, let me just stick two large pins into my eyeballs now.

I'm also not going to say anything about how, once the Entry Plug has reached maximum Depth Status and is fully seated, it begins to fill up with a sticky liquid called LCL.  I'm not going to say anything about it because I'm not as perverted as I seem to be... I'm fond of not plucking my eyes out of their sockets.  Though if I did, I could stop watching crappy anime and occasionally blogging about it for your enjoyment.

Libbets and Bunnymen, I present to you Unit-01 in all of its purple and green glory.  Looks kinda like a walking bruise, actually.  Well, standing bruise, as it hasn't actually moved on its own yet.  Like the Space Shuttle being taken to the launch tower, Unit-01 is loaded onto a platform under a tube that leads to the surface.  The command is given, and vwoosh!  Up the tube it goes, propelled by the power of ELECTRICITY!  HUZZAH!!!

This may not be the most subtle sallyport ever, seeing how the act of opening is accompanied by blaring klaxons, flashing lights and a massive rumbling sound as Unit-01 is propelled by the power of ELECTRICITY!  HUZZAH!!! to face the Alone Angel.  Stealth is, apparently, not an issue.  Which makes sense; we are talking about giant robots here... to them, stealth is hiding behind a skyscraper going "oh god, did he see me?"

We'll discover the answer to that question when you click...


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July 12, 2013

Ducks In Anime Want Friends, Too!


Okay, yes, WATAMOTE! is a horribly realistic look at the seamy underside of high school life, the side only those unpopular kids ever get to see.  Yes, it's sort of depressing how accurate it is, and how much I identify with the main character even after 27 years.  All of these things are true.

But it's got a duck wearing a headset.  A cute duck, too.  And that makes it all okay with me.

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July 11, 2013

All I Want... Is For It To Be Cool. Is That Too Much To Ask?

I don't get excited about movies much anymore.  It's been a long time since I eagerly awaited some big Hollywood blockbuster... I outgrew that sort of thing, I think.  But then, almost a year ago, I caught wind of something that sounded cool, if they did it right.  Then a couple of months ago, the trailers started to hit the web.  And tomorrow, July 12, 2013, the first movie I've been really excited about in years is hitting the movie screens.  Ladles and girlymen, allow me to introduce to you...

WANT.  OH SO WANT.  Mecha!  Kaiju!  Heck, GLaDOS!  It may not be Sharknado, but it'll do.

(note: longtime readers will point out that I did get excited about Tintin.  While true, that was an excitement mixed with deep-seated fear that it would suck.  It was that fear that kept me from seeing it in the theatre.  Nothing of the sort is going to happen to me with Pacific Rim.  I grew up with Tintin.  I learned to read with Tintin.  It would have seriously hurt if that movie was bad.  This one?  If it's bad, I'm out $10 and two hours or whatever.)

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July 10, 2013

Random Anime Picture #80: I'm Confused

-Love Lab, Ep01

Love Lab is a perfectly inoffensive show, revolving around the wacky hijinks of the girls from the Student Council of Fuji Girls School.  It's nothing earth-shaking, and it's also nothing that's forcing me to watch it.  I might be losing my taste for "cute girls doing cute things in cute ways" shows, particularly when there isn't anything behind it, like interesting plot.  The above character, Riko, has proven to be particularly hard for me to deal with, though.  We all know about the "cute little fang" trope, right?  Riko is a rare example of someone with two of them... or, at least, she's supposed to have two cute little fangs.

In reality, she just comes off as looking evil and demonic.  She's not, she just looks like it... which isn't a plot point, it's a mistake.  She's a "sporty, athletic" girl, not the spawn of evil!  The rest of the show was "meh," but the twin fangs drove me up a wall, confused and wondering when she was gonna shiv someone.  I'll probably watch another episode to see if it gets better, but yeesh.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:22 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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July 07, 2013

F1 Update!: Germany 2013

A brilliant blue sky welcomed the assembled masses as the Thundering Herd formed up on the grid at the Nurburgring's F1 circuit.  Mercedes' Shiv Hamilton was on pole, with hometown boy Hannibal Vettel next to him. Vettel's Red Bull teammate Mark Webber was directly behind Hamilton, in what could be considered a precarious situation for the Mercedes driver.  Still, the Silver Arrow has proven to be the equal of the RB9 as late; would the status quo be upheld?  Or would the other status quo, that of Vettel running away and hiding, gain preeminence?  Or would the Ferraris, lurking two rows behind, make their gamble on the harder tires pay off?  THIS is your F1Update! for the 2013 Grand Prix of Germany.

*LIGHTS OUT!:  The start of any F1 race is always a frantic scramble for position... either improving it, defending it, or losing it.  Polesitter Hamilton, obviously concerned about the Red Bull of Vettel, immediately cut across the circuit when the lights went out to begin the race.  The young German was having none of it, however, and stood his ground as he quickly came alongside the Mercedes driver.  All of this had the effect of opening a clear path for the other Red Bull driver, Mark Webber.  Normally, this wouldn't be an issue... Webber is the only person on the grid with his own named starting technique, after all (the legendary "Mark Webber Lousy Start©").  For once, however, the Australian had a clean, nearly perfect getaway from third... and found nothing but empty asphalt ahead of him.

The Red Bull wave quickly swamped Hamilton, relegating him to third by the time they reached Turn 1, the two Lotus drivers hovering just behind him.  Meanwhile, Ferrari's HWMNBN and his medium tires tried grimly to hang on to the cars with the faster soft tires.  This proved to be easier said than done, as he was 10 seconds behind by Lap 7... and he was having to drive the rubber off of them to manage even that much.  Instead of the 20-25 laps he expected to do, he only managed 13, pitting before the Lotus of Lettuce Grosjean on softs.

*SAFETY CAR... HUH?:  On Lap 24, the proceedings were interrupted when the Marussia of Jules Bianchi blew its engine in a massive volume of smoke, followed by an impressive amount of flame.

Bianchi brought the car to a halt, then under instructions from the pit lane, triggered the fire extinguisher and headed for the hills.  A track worker approached with a portable extinguisher, as did a tractor to carry the stricken car behind the barriers.  We then discovered another way in which F1 cars are unlike road cars: no parking brake.

Gravity: it's not just a good idea, it's the law.  Parked on a rise, the empty Marussia began to roll backwards and across the circuit, not coming to a halt until it made it to the other side where it was brought to a halt by an advertising sign.  Fortunately, this occurred with no other cars around, though not by much: that's Vettel's Red Bull at the top of the screencap there.  The Safety Car was summoned as the wild Marussia was brought to heel.  At this point, the order was Vettel, Grosjean, Raikkonen, HWMNBN and Jenson Button, having a great drive for McLaren.

*FINALLY:  The safety car stayed out for five laps, then racing resumed.  For the most part, the order remained as above for the next 20-odd laps, until the final pitstops.  There, Kimi Raikkonen pitted with 10 laps to go for a set of used soft tires, reemerging in third, a mere 3.5 seconds behind Vettel, with teammate Grosjean between them.  As the laps ticked down, Raikkonen narrowed the gap, his medium-shod teammate being told to get out of his way on Lap 55, with 2.5 seconds between him and the Red Bull.  Every lap, the Finn shaved off a little more of the gap, trying desperately to bring it down to less than a second so he could use the DRS and pick up that extra speed advantage over the Red Bull.  Finally, going into the last lap of the race, he did it: 1.0 second exactly.  He could get no closer than 7/10th of a second, however, and Vettel took the win, followed by Kimi and Grosjean.  HWMNBN crossed the line in 4th, then came to a halt on track by turn 1.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  Mark Webber.  He started third, nearly got the lead at the beginning, and was a serious contender for second place today, until a pit screwup (see below) put him dead last and a lap down.  He then got the free pass from the safety car, putting him back on the lead lap, then fought his way up the field to finish 7th.  Pretty good result, all things considered.

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  Lotus.  They may be second-guessing the need to bring Raikkonen in for that set of soft tires on Lap 50, but he probably wouldn't've had the speed to bring Vettel to heel otherwise.  And a 2-3 finish is pretty sweet anyway.  Good job.

*MOVE OF THE RACE: On the final lap, Shiv Hamilton came up behind the McLaren of his ex-teammate Jenson Button, suffering on old tires.  A try at Turn 1 didn't work, so Shiv decided to give a run around the outside of the long Turn 2 a go.

Much to everybody's surprise, including perhaps Hamilton himself, his less-than-stellar tires held traction well enough to let him power past Button.  He then remembered to leave Button racing room in the next turn as well, instead of cutting across his nose.  A fine job of driving from both Brits, and our favorite Move of the Race.

*MOOOOOOOOOO-OOOOVE OF THE RACE:  On Lap 9, Mark Webber brought his Red Bull in for his first stop.  The team had problems with the right rear wheel, however, and were not able to get it fastened onto the stub axle.  Maybe it was a tire gun problem, maybe the nut wouldn't engage, whatever, the upshot was that the Lollypop man let the car go without the tire being attached.  It stayed on the car long enough to allow him to get some speed up before it fell off and went careening down the pit lane.

The Lotus pit crew had just finished servicing one of their cars and were in the pit lane when the tire assembly tore through them; fortunately they were all able to avoid the missile.  Unfortunately, FOM cameraman Paul Allen, who had his camera focused on the Lotus driving away, had no idea that the rubber-and-metal beast was coming for him.

It caught him on the shoulder, sending him face-first to the ground.  He apparently suffered a broken collarbone in the incident, which is about as lucky as you could possibly get.  A video of the incident is here.  The team ran down, collected Webber's car, pushed it back to their pitbox, put another set of tires on, and sent him on his way... a lap down, but still in the race.  To everybody involved on the Red Bull pit crew, congratulations, here's your Mooooooo.



Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:59 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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