December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve 2014

In the grand scheme of things, I believe it's safe to say that 2014 was very much a year to forget.

You folks made it easier to deal with.  For that, you have my thanks.  Thanks for reading, thanks for putting up with my vapors and complaints, thanks for sticking around and thanks for coming back. 

Let's hope for a 2015 where things get better.  I like that idea.  A lot.  I can do with a bit of better.

Anything you'd like to see from The Pond in the coming year?

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December 30, 2014

Torpedo Planes

In the runup to the beginning of World War II, the aircraft carrier began to force itself into the position of "Queen of Battle", wresting the title from the massive guns of the battleship.  As strategies and tactics on how to use the planes the flattops provided began to coalesce, it was generally assumed that the dive bomber, while accurate, would provide support to the true shipkiller: the torpedo bomber.  This thinking makes much sense to a Navy.  After all, when it comes down to it, a bomb punches holes in the decks of a ship, letting in air.  A torpedo, though... a torpedo makes big holes in the side of a ship, letting in water.  Water, while pretty much required for a ship to be a ship, is also not something you want inside your ship.  It causes ships to sink.  Bombs may wreck the upper decks, may set fires, may explode deep inside the hull, but only rarely will they actually be a direct threat to the hull integrity of a warship bigger than a destroyer. 

A torpedo attack was conducted based on the requirements of the dropped weapon itself.  Depending on the nation, a plane may have to fly as low as 50-100 feet and as slowly as 115mph or less to successfully launch the torpedo and have it swim correctly to the target.  Launching outside of those parameters could result in broaching or porpoising, or even the torpedo breaking up upon impact with the water.  Early on, this wasn't considered a problem; most torpedo planes could barely reach 200mph unladen and with a tailwind.  With a 2000lb weapon being lugged around, such lofty velocities were mere dreams.  At the start of the war though, nobody truly understood the sort of murderous anti-aircraft fire a prepared warship could throw up, let alone multiple ships in a layered defense.  Then carriers started to embark modern, effective fighter planes, and torpedo attacks began to become suicide runs.  Only when part of a "combined arms" attack, with dive bombers, torpedo planes, and fighters all arriving on a defended target at the same time, could the crew of a torpedo attacker have a prayer of seeing their bunks that evening.

There were three major torpedo planes flying off of aircraft carriers in the early years of World War II, one each from Japan, the United States, and Britain.  That's not to say there weren't others in use; the Brits had an effective bomber in the Beaufort.  Germany used the He-111, Italy a number of different multi-engine planes, and American PBY Catalinas were known to carry a pair of torps.  However, for the sake of this post, I'll only be looking at the three carrier planes in use: the Fairey Swordfish, the Douglas TBD Devastator, and the Nakajima B5N.

more...

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December 29, 2014

Barkhorn In Dirndl


-Strike Witches: Operation Victory Arrow pt1

Because I can, that's why.

UPDATE:

Because why not?  It's not like I hear you complaining.

Actually, it's more like "it's not like I can hear you complaining."  One advantage of a blog, that.

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December 28, 2014

Operational Note (UPDATED)

The torpedo plane post is going to be delayed until Monday Tuesday.  Two reasons for this:

1) I'm researching.  Dragging out the reference books, combing them for details, trying to make this one a decent effort instead of half-arsing it like I could do.

Everything from Salamander's Fighting Aircraft of World War II to ER Johnson's American Attack Aircraft Since 1926 are piled next to my computer, allowing quick and easy access for nigh-on any question I may have.  Research is fun!

2) I am in a nasty, evil mood.  It's the sort of mood where I am aware that I am going to be rude and bitter towards things, and I don't care.  This is carrying over to my writing.

So in lieu of putting out crap, I'm postponing the Torpedo Plane post until Monday.  It's better for everybody that way.  Trust me on this.  Or don't.  You are your own person, you don't have to trust me on anything.  But you'd be better off if you did.

We all would.

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December 27, 2014

Visual Novel Review: Sakura Spirit

It's late Christmas night, so late in fact that it's technically the next morning.  I'm browsing through the holiday sale on Steam for ridiculous deals, and I stumble over something that looks... um... interesting.  I notice at the same time that Pixy Misa, our Australian blogboss, owned it and that he was using Steam at the same time.  I shoot him a quick message asking if the game was any good, and wander off my merry way.  When I come back a few minutes later, there's a reply: "I dunno, I haven't played it yet."  Well, that's unsurprising... Pixy seems to have an infinite backlog of games, the way some of us have an infinite backlog of anime to watch (note: Pixy has that, too).  We chat for a minute, and I wandered away again.  Upon returning, I loaded Steam again and found that I had two notifications: I had been gifted both of the games on my wishlish.  By Pixy.  Now, neither of them was expensive but I'm not exactly used to just being given things out of the blue like that.  When I asked him about it, he said "You can tell me if the game is worth playing."  What better way for me to do that than to actually review the thing in the style of one of my writeups?  So without further ado, let's get right to it... let's take a look at Sakura Spirit!

I think it's important for me to point out that this title screen does not, in fact, show up anywhere in the game itself... I stole it from a promotional video.  Right away this inspires nothing but confidence in my heart.

more...

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December 26, 2014

The Day After: Carriers

Here, have a Japanese carrier!

Pretty much based on the Shokaku-class, I think... but of course that means it could be based on the Soryu/Hiryu ships, too, since they were the basis for the design of the bigger ships.

Would you prefer an US carrier?

Easy enough: that's a Yorktown-class.  Even now after all these years I think the islands are on backwards.

Finally, the Brits!

Illustrious-class, seen here being torpedoes by one of her own Swordfish... I didn't mean to hit the [spacebar] on the run-in as I was maneuvering the camera around, but I did.  Well, that's one way to get around the armored flight-deck.

All pictures are from War Thunder, of course.  They certainly took their time modeling these things, even though at the moment we only see them briefly and in passing as targets or...

...when landing or taking off, a relatively rare occurrence.  Still, it gives you a new angle on the size of these things; to whit, not all that big.  Of course, the islands got larger as time went on, but in the late '30s?  Even the Americans had more-or-less small bridge areas.  Of course, the Japanese had teeny-tiny bridge structures, if they had any at all!  However, since I can't seem to actually LAND on a Japanese carrier right now, I don't have a close-up.  Oh well.

UPDATE:


For all it's problems, it is a pretty game.

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December 25, 2014

Christmas 2014


It's likely to be a subdued Christmas around Duckford this year.  As usual, the family is gathering at The Old Home Pond.  Unlike the old days, though, it's no longer an all-day affair.  Throw in my financial ambiguity and a severe case of yours truly having a sad, and it's one of those days, y'know?

Still, there are ducks.  This particular photograph is from my "12 Days of Duckmas" archives; it was a backup for 2010, in case any of those didn't work out.  As 2010 was probably the best year I've had for that series, it has sat unused for four years.  Until now.  Finally all those Santa ducks will get their royalty payments!

May all my readers have a Merry Christmas, may it be joyous and wonderful for us all!

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December 23, 2014

Sparking Sparkiness

So other than my various First Episode Writeups, I've not felt a whole lot of drive to write very much.  Sure, there's been a post here and there, but only the Wart Hunder post and the recent Cuban cigar story feel like there's any spark to them.  Any surprise that they're both based on personal experience?  Of course not, I love talking about myself.

At least in a more-or-less non-specific way, usually.  What I'm trying to say is that I'm blogging to blog, as opposed to blogging because I want to write something.  "Oh," I hear you saying and I wish you'd quit doing that, "Wonderduck's complaining again."  No, that's not true. 

Well, okay, yes it is.  I'm blogging about not blogging again.  I should do that: write an entire blog about how I'm not blogging.  Seriously though, there are times where I think the only reason I haven't shut down The Pond altogether is that I know I'd just reopen it a day or two later to write something else.  Besides, the 10th Anniversary of The Pond is coming in July... it'd be a shame to not make it when it's that close.  So I guess you'll have to put up with me for a while longer.

Sorry about that.  I'll try to not be awful.

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December 22, 2014

First Episode Writeup #3

As I mentioned earlier, I was working on another First Episode Writeup when I wound up putting it on hold to work on a different one, one that forced its way into my attention.  I received two different e-mails from Robert featuring a show that I knew absolutely nothing about.  Then I bumped into it again somewhere else, and I just gave up and watched it.  And it was perfect writeup fodder!  I benched the half-done writeup and immediately started on this... and now, with no further ado, let's get right the heck to it!

Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Skippy.

Skippy is a boy after my own heart, and I suspect most of my readers will identify closely with him as well.  Y'see, he's a bibliophile.  Indeed, that weird pose above is due to Our Hero being in the middle of a truly stupid happydance.  Now don't get me wrong, I love books and bookstores as much as anybody and more than most, but I've never done a happydance upon arrival at one.  That should tell you what sort of individual we're dealing with here.  Yup, he's a Skippy!

A bagful of hardcovers, a points card, and a cute bookstore employee?  It's exactly how Wonderduck first met The Librarian!  Except for the points card, I didn't have one of those yet.  Or the bagful of hardcovers.  I think I bought a paperback and a magazine.  Cute bookstore employee though?  That part meshes.  Except that The Librarian looks nothing like the employee in the picture.  Okay, can we just say I once met The Librarian in a bookstore?  Cool.  By the way, can you guess what Skippy is reacting to here?  Hint: it's not the cute bookstore employee.

Oh.  Hm.  I'm starting to identify less and less with Skippy.  Hopefully most if not all of my readers are feeling the same.  Our Hero's family moved to the hinterlands of Japan due to father's job, but Skippy refused to leave... out there, new release books are often delayed, and that just will not stand.  So they left him behind in the city, as long as his grades stay high.  Yeah, well, duh on that part.  Look at him!  You think he can't get whatever grades he wants?  He's Skippy.  He can do what he wants!  Except for one thing.

He cannot read the final book of the "Seven Sins" series by Akimaya Shinobu.  Because it hasn't been released yet, and while all of Japan is looking forward to it, Skippy really really wants to read it now.  In something of an unhealthy way, if you know what I mean.  Alas, he can move heaven and earth and it won't hasten the arrival of the book one iota.

So while he waits, Skippy reads everything else in sight every waking minute of the day.  This Akimaya person has never been seen in public and writes everything from rom com to sci fi to any other abbreviation you can think of.  Basically he (if he is a he)'s Isaac Asimov, just without the non-fiction.  Like probably everybody that visits The Pond, Our Hero finds a visceral pleasure in reading in restaurants.  Actually, he finds a visceral pleasure in reading anywhere, but roll with it, huh?  So he's reading in a charming little cafe, though he's dismayed when he realizes he's lost his wallet.  At that moment...

...gun crime is so rare in Japan that in 2006 there were only two gun murders nationwide.  Most guns are illegal.  Air rifles are okay.  Strangely enough, so are shotguns, though you need to take a test, register it with the police, store ammo separately in a locked container, retest every few years, and let the police inspect it regularly.  I have a hunch that hoodyguy up there hasn't bothered with any of that.  Oh, and for the record?  I suspect it's a Mossberg, but I can't find an exact match with any of the major companies.  Maybe one of The Pond's guy folk can figure it out... here's the unresized picture if you want to have a go.

Hoodyguy is annoyed that not everybody is terrified of him... indeed, the lass in the corner doesn't even seem to realize he exists as she writes away.  I get the same way when I do these writeups, except I would react if someone holding a shotgun was screaming at me to stand up and pointing it at me.  To be blunt, it'd just be a good thing that I regularly wear black pants and I leave it at that.

Our Hero, however, is just young and stupid enough to be having none of that noise.  The struggle doesn't last very long, and hoodyguy kicks Skippy to the floor.  He pants and wheezes for a second or two, then starts to get up again.  Our boy Skippy, he's got some fight in him.  Not a lot of brains, but fight.

Are we about to find out just how much brains he's got?  Nah, this is anime.  When was the last time you saw someone shot in the face in anime without being a zombie, android/cyborg, or mook in Gunslinger Girl?  Certainly never Our Hero!

more...

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December 20, 2014

Timewaster Delayed!

I've been working on the next First Episode Writeup for the past week after having found a good BD rip of it.  It's been a slog, however, as the episode has a bad ratio of unexplained-action-to-explaining-dialogue.  That makes a coherent writeup difficult to create since I often wind up worldbuilding at the same time.  However, I've made it about a third of the way through, and the second half is flashbacks.  Yay, I guess. 

Have you ever had something force its way into your awareness in such a way that you couldn't ignore it?  Let me give you an example.  Back in 1991, I was driving up to Minnesota to get an apartment and tour the town I'd be going to grad school in.  As I crossed the Mississippi River at La Crosse, a saxophone-led song with a funky backbeat came across the car radio.  Catchy, I thought, but the DJ didn't say the name of either the song or the artist.  Later that night, as I was out driving around the town, seeing the sights (such as they were), same song came on.  Again, no name, no artist.  I woke up the next morning, turned on Good Morning America or one of those shows, and wouldn't you know it?  The live musical guest for the day was a blonde saxophonist named Candy Dulfer, with Dave Stewart from the Eurythmics on guitar, playing a tune called "Lily Was Here."

I bought the cassette before I left Minnesota.  I felt like I couldn't not do so.  What's the point of this story I hear you asking?  Well, it's happened again.  There's an anime series that forced me to watch it, just by showing up everywhere I looked for a couple of days.  Didn't know anything about it, but it kept forcing itself upon me... I felt violated, yes, but it'd be a while since that had happened.   As I rolled through the first episode, I realized it'd be perfect for a writeup.  It was just begging for one.  As a result, I've put the original writeup that I'm a third of the way finished with on hold and will now be doing this mystery show instead.  With luck, it'll be up tonight or Sunday!

Look forward to it.  Or not.  Whichever.

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December 18, 2014

Night Of The Cuban

Over at friend Ed's place, a discussion of the potential lifting of the Cuban embargo ended up with me mentioning that I've had a Cuban cigar once, but that the explanation would be much longer than a simple comment could handle.  Settle in, my friends, for this is that explanation!

The time is around 1994 or so.  My failed attempt at Grad School has seen Our Hero return to Duckford in disgrace, the sort of disgrace that only the person who had always succeeded can experience.  Our Hero makes his way through life but reluctantly, a simmering anger behind his every word and deed.  After making connections with his old theatre teacher, Our Hero stops being quite as much of a jerk to everybody and sees him make his way to a cool local bar (now a true hangout for hipsters, alas) as a regular thing.  To the point where the bartenders start pulling his beer when he's walking in from the parking lot; that sort of regular.  It's the sort of bar that "intellectuals" would hang out in, all hardwood floors and tin ceilings and a truly startling selection of good beers (remember: 1994... beer snobs hadn't really been invented yet) and some wonderfully tasty not-quite-gourmet food.  The sort of place that bakes its own bread fresh all day in a wood-fired oven.  A great bar with non-bar food?  Sign me up.  Anyway, while sitting there one night sipping on his Kulmbacher (no, not the German one but an inexpensive dark beer on tap that shared the name.  I've never seen it anywhere before or since), in walks Rick (all names have been changed to protect something something something).  Our Hero and Rick have known each other since high school, decent enough friends via the shared experience of being really bad at football one summer back then.  After a couple of hours of catching up, Our Hero gets an invite to Rick's Place.  He and Bob, another mutual friend who's name is changed in this story, share an apartment down by the Candy Bridge, and they recently lost a player from their weekly penny-ante poker game.  Well, sure, why not?  Our Hero is instructed to bring only pennies and at least a dozen cheap beers, the traditional entry fee for the night.

Poker night rolls around and Our Hero, armed with two rolls of pennies and a pair of six-packs of Red White & Blue, he makes his way to Rick's place.  After stashing his beers in the fridge, he gets to see the battlefield for the night.

The arrow points out the apartment's open-air porch where we'd be comfortably ensconced for the night.  Not shown were the truly astounding number of party lights and xmas lights arranged around the porch, nor the ingenious curtain/tarp arrangement that kept it dry in all but the very worst pelting rainstorms.  It turned out that the expected fourth for the game never showed, and his absence was never noted again, nor a replacement found or needed.  As I learned that evening, there were a few set rules for Poker Night.

more...

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December 16, 2014

Around F1: 2014 Postseason

Though we're almost a month past the final race of 2014, there's still news being made by the F1 Circus.  Shall we take a look at some of the more interesting bits?

*McLaren finally set their 2015 driver lineup.  As was expected, HWMNBN was tabbed to occupy one of the seats.  This officially puts his nickname in danger; if the team he screwed over has welcomed him back, how can I still hold a grudge?  As it turns out, pretty easily.  Fernando Alonso will remain HWMNBN until further notice, but it's getting harder and harder to grump at him.  His teammate will be returning driver Jenson Button.  The surprise was that it took a very long time to announce that decision; it was only made a few days ago, much to the consternation of Button fans everywhere.  While I personally believe that it should have been a slam-dunk decision, I can't fault McLaren for taking their time.  Kevin Magnusson is a young up-and-coming driver who flashed brilliance at times during the 2014 season (see Australia), while Jenson is on the far side of his career.  Still, I think they made the right choice.

*Possibly more exciting news occurred in the first offseason test as the worldbeating combination of McLaren and Honda returned to the sport.  Honda will be returning to F1 as an engine manufacturer in 2015, powering McLaren exclusively.  While the Yas Marina test sessions didn't go all that well, with the 2014 chassis/2015 engine lashup only managing five laps in two days, that's also to be expected.  Remember, Red Bull was having similar problems at the beginning of 2014 testing, too. 

*Marussia is now officially gone.  Tuesday was the first day of the liquidation auction of the team.  There's another day of auction on Wednesday, but almost all the interesting stuff went today.  Multiple complete chassis were auctioned off, in the 2012 and 2013 configurations, with the 2014 cars being sold either at the end of December or early January (the 2014s are in Ferrari hands at the moment, having their engines removed).  Apparently, Haas F1, the American start-up team  that'll take to the grid in 2016, bought one of the chassis, and this is a smart move.  They now have a guaranteed working testbed to run pieces on, and of recent construction as well.  Compare this to Caterham, HRT and even Marussia iteself (as Virgin F1), who had no such crutch when they joined three seasons ago.  I'd be surprised if one or both of the 2014 chassis didn't end up in Haas hands to boot.  Other things auctioned off were all the spare parts, basically everything you would need to race-run a team, except for engines and tires.  Wednesday's auction includes the actual factory fittings and equipment: cordless drills, CNC machinery (I don't think Haas will be needing any of those), computer chairs, big-screen TVs, that sort of thing.  Oh, and the team's transporters and hospitality "mobile homes."  Something tells me Haas F1 will be looking at those, too.

*Also from Marussia, mixed news about Jules Bianchi.  A few weeks ago, he was taken off the ventilator and removed from the medically-induced coma.  He was also transferred from the hospital that he's been in since the horrible accident at the Japanese Grand Prix, and is now in hospital at home in France.  However, he's still in a coma, and remains in intensive care. 

*Eye-rolling news from Red Bull.  Last week, news came from the team that some bandits ran a car into their office/factory complex and stole some 60 of their trophies, causing thousands of dollars of damage in the process.  Heaven knows I'm no Red Bull fan, but for whatever reason this annoys me to no end.  It's not like the thieves could fence them or anything, unless its to some secretive F1 fan who won't ever display them to the world.  News came out this morning that 20 of the trophies were recovered by police from a nearby lake.

Y'know, the McLaren Technology Center is near the Red Bull factory, and it has a lake... I'm just sayin'.

More news as it happens, or as I'm motivated to write about it!

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December 15, 2014

Waiting For Something

Dunno what, though.  Something.  In the meantime, though, I've finally decided what the next First Episode Writeup will be.  As it turns out, it was my first choice, I just couldn't find an acceptable video source!  Nori, my computer, is a brilliant package of electronic goodness but one thing she doesn't do well is DVD screenshots.

Which makes her exactly like all the other computers I've ever owned, truth be told.  Earlier today, though, I found a great BD rip of the series and quickly d/l'd the first episode.  So while I eagerly anticipate writing it, you can eagerly anticipate reading it!

Or, y'know, not.  Whatever.

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December 13, 2014

Random Anime Picture #89: Company


-ARIA the OVA: Arietta
It still gets me every time.  The combination of wonderful joy and quiet introspection (and occasional sadness) that is the ARIA franchise.  I was considering doing S01E01 for my next episodic writeup and found that I just couldn't.  It doesn't deserve it. 

The show isn't flawless, but the flaws are buried so deeply by the good that you don't care.  Or it's too slow-paced and sappy for you, one of the two.  That's okay, too.  It'll be waiting for a time that you need it.

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December 12, 2014

WT ACTUAL F?

My GOD, people are friggin' annoying.  All frickin' day I've been dealing with idiots, morons and nebbishes, and I've not left my apartment building.

Was it "National Piss Off Wonderduck" day or something?  Because if it was, PEOPLE SUCCEEDED!  From the guy who was trying to argue that Michael Jordan "really wasn't that good" to the whole raft of folks who decided that since I was a college bookstore manager, it was open season on me to the telemarketer who called me four times in 10 minutes to the jerk who felt it was okay to scream at me for using three washers when he needed two and there are only four, it's been one round of annoying annoyances after another.

YARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH!!!

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December 10, 2014

Mayfly

In 1911, the Royal Navy eagerly awaited the official delivery of His Majesty's Airship No.1, infuriatingly nicknamed "The Mayfly".  She was to be the RN's first airship, the largest and fastest in the world.

In pre-delivery tests, the usual panoply of problems were discovered, none of which were unable to be solved.  Except for one tiny difficulty that refused to go away, no matter how hard the crew at Vickers worked at it: she couldn't fly.  Make no mistake, she could float (barely), but nothing more than a tiny amount, and that only in perfect conditions.  She weighed in at 19.5 tons and had the lifting ability of 19.7 tons.  Something had to be done.

There were two options.  The first was obvious: add more lift.  However, "obvious" doesn't mean "easy."  For an airship, it means cutting the beast in half and adding a new section containing more gasbags.  This is also a relatively expensive way of accomplishing the task.  The second option is easier: lighten ship.  Get extra weight out of the hull and you'll be able to fly without changing the amount of gas involved.  Of course, this is what the folks at Vickers decided to do.  They went in and replaced structural members with thinner, lighter pieces... including the main keel.  The day came for a new flight test.

A gust of wind caught the Mayfly as she came out of the hangar, tilting her hard to starboard.  While the groundcrew struggled to roll her back over, she snapped in half.  As her crew abandoned ship, the two ends rose in a V-shape, ironically proving that cutting the internal weight down fixed her flight problems.  Soon enough, however, the Mayfly settled into the waters at Barrow-in-Furness.

Fortunately, none of the crew was injured, and British airship development went into something of a dark period.  It took five years for HMA.09 to take to the air, under the guiding hand of designer HB Pratt, who had predicted the failure of the Mayfly.  Pratt's main assistant was a young man named Barnes Wallis, who wound up with a successful career designing unconventional bombs.  He was the designer of the "Dambuster" bouncing bomb, as well as the "Tallboy" and "Grand Slam" weapons.

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December 09, 2014

Random Anime Picture #89: Endless


I forgot just how good The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya was.  Even "Endless 8", which I really enjoyed.

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December 08, 2014

First Episode Writeup #2

Well!  The writeup for Black Lagoon's first episode certainly seemed to go well.  I'm encouraged... maybe this can be a thing.  Or maybe it was because Black Lagoon is such a good show and people are just reacting to that quality, as opposed to my digital scribblings. Well, there's only one way to find out, isn't there?  Actually, no, there's many more ways than one to find out... I could just ask my readers, the so-called Pond Scum, their opinion!  Or I could do another writeup and judge the response from that!.  See?  Two ways right there!.  In this case, I decided to go with Option #2, because asking after just one writeup seems... um... needy?  "Please, love me, love me," said the blogger, desperately clinging onto your pants leg.  "Tell me I'm a good blogger!"  Yeah, exactly like that.  Man, that flowed so naturally from my fingertips... nah, I haven't thought of that before, never ever!  So I went through my anime collection looking for the next series to write up.  There's some good candidates in there for sure, but one almost literally jumped off the shelf at me (it actually just fell off, but that was enough to convince me).  Let's just get right to it, shall we?  This should be surprising, I think.

A train races across a cold, snowy land.  Except there's no way in the world it should be able to do this because the pantographs on the motor units aren't actually contacting the catenary wires.  That means no electrical power, and that means our train goes nowhere.  The end.  Well.  That's anticlimactic.  Okay, let's pretend this could actually work and the train races across a cold, snowy land.  Shortly thereafter...

...a young man named Skippy sits on a bench in a cold, snowy land.  He hardly seems dressed well enough for the weather, what with no hat or scarf.  His internal monologue suggests he's been there a while.  The snow on his shoulders suggests the same.  The snow piled on his head suggests that the body heat radiating out of his uncovered pate has cooled substantially.  So apparently this young man is actually dying of exposure and his internal monologue are the final firings of tortured neurons  Terminal burrowing will soon occur, perhaps under the bench itself, bringing this show to a grim and sad end and turning this writeup into the shortest ever

As Skippy drifts off into the next world, his brain spasms one last time and imagines a young lady, showing care and concern.  She is someone that he knows, someone named Nayuki that he's not seen in seven years.  Surely she's only a hallucination, dressed as poorly for the weather as she is.  They smile at each other as she guides him towards the afterlife.

They walk off into a cold, snowy land.  Neither notices, as neither can feel the elements any longer.  She because she doesn't exist, and Skippy because he's actually huddled pathetically under a bench, the bonechilling cold freezing his body into a sad parody of life.

more...

Posted by: Wonderduck at 12:43 AM | Comments (8) | Add Comment
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December 07, 2014

73 Years Later

The USS Arizona looking glorious in pre-war white, some years from her ultimate fate in Hawaii.

It was 73 years ago today when the United States was plunged into the maelstrom of World War II by the attack on Pearl Harbor.

It was 73 years ago today that Arizona became more than just a ship to the American people, but a symbol to rally around.

Which doesn't mean it wasn't more than that to those who served upon her.  To them, the Arizona was home, their shipmates brothers.

Today, there is a memorial to the Arizona in Pearl Harbor, but most moving is that the ship is still leaking... some melodramatically say bleeding, or weeping... oil into the waters entombing the ship.

Today is likely the last official meeting of the USS Arizona Survivors Association.  There are only nine names remaining on the Association's list, none of them younger than 93.  Four survivors are in attendance today at Pearl Harbor's ceremonies.

Soon, the phrase "Remember Pearl Harbor" will be all we can do; those who were THERE will be gone.  Time marches on.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 12:00 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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December 05, 2014

Orion Up

NASA took the first step in getting back into the manned exploration of space business today with the first launch of the Orion spacecraft/Delta IV Heavy rocket system.

I admit to a small amount of disappointment.  When I first heard of the Orion project, this is what I thought of immediately, not the usual rocket/capsule arrangement.  Sure, there's that pesky "nuking your own planet" thing, but I'm sure they could figure something out.

Still, this new Orion is planned to be used to get us to Mars.  However, for this launch it was unmanned... which doesn't mean there wasn't anything on board.  The TV show Sesame Street donated mementos to the flight, including Cookie Monster's cookies, the Inchworm, Super Grover's cape... and Ernie's rubber duckie.

If that isn't the coolest darn thing ever, I don't know what is.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 12:43 PM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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