June 30, 2014

F1 on TV: Great Britain 2014

There was once a time when I would wax grandiloquent about Silverstone, the home of this week's stop on the F1 calendar, the Grand Prix of Great Britain.  I would praise the Maggotts-Becketts-Chapel complex as my favorite stretch of track in F1.  I would speak warmly about its prior life as a bomber training base in World War II.  I'd even gush over the classic names given to locations on the circuit: the Hangar Straight.  Stowe, Woodcote, Copse, Abbey, and all the rest.  I would then end my gushing by proclaiming that Silverstone is probably my favorite of all F1 tracks.  Oh, and here's the track map:

I suspect I've gotten jaded in my years of F1 watching.  Or it may just be because the changes made to the circuit a few years ago were like covering a pretty girl with ugly tattoos, and probably just as necessary.  What I'm saying is that it's not my favorite anymore.  Oh, I'll always hold a place in my heart for the beautiful circuit of my dreams, but she's been supplanted.  If I'm still doing this gig when we reach the new Favorite Circuit, I'll let y'all know. 

Frightening thought: this is going to be the tenth GPGB I've done here at The Pond.  Just go click on "July 2005" and it's right there... and at 924 words, it's nearly as long as the F1U's I do now.  Funnier, too. 

So, yeah, Silverstone!  This is going to be one of the races that NBC moves around for whatever reason, so this "on TV" bit is particularly important this week... pay attention!
Practice 2: 8am - 930am live on NBCSN
Quals: 7am - 830am live on NBCSN
Grand Prix of Great Britain:  630am - 9am live on CNBC

F1U! will be watching... will you?

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June 27, 2014

SUNUVABEECHMARTIN!!!, part whotheheckcares

I appear to be quite good at blowing my leg off disintegrating my entire body devastating whole counties shooting myself in the foot.  I hate days like this.

A lot.

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June 25, 2014

Mini-F1Update!: Austria 2014

Now that our internet connection seems to be stable enough for us to type for more than a few minutes without going away for an hour, and the peanut gallery appears to be getting restless, it's time.  THIS is your mini-F1Update! for the 2014 Grand Prix of Austria!

*THE RACE:  Not as good as we here at F1U! hoped.  It started off better than we could have hoped, with Williams' Felipe Massa holding the lead from pole and his teammate Valterri Bottas holding back a challenge from the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg.  Amazingly, Rosberg's teammate, Lewis Hamilton, who had started in ninth, made his way up to fourth by the end of the first lap.  And that's how it stayed for pretty much the first 15 laps, until the first round of pitstops.  At that point, it became a question of which team had the best strategists.  The answer came almost immediately: Mercedes.  Rosberg pitted first, and when he regained the track his fresh tires allowed him to turn out a lap so blisteringly fast that neither Williams driver could keep him behind.  The same went for Hamilton, and somewhere the Williams pencilpushers were sitting there, wondering what just happened?  While there was little chance that either Williams driver could have won the race, what chance they had was thrown away by the simple decision to keep them out one more lap each.  IF they had pitted first, one of two things would have happened.  First, they could have forced Mercedes to "shadow" the movements of their rivals, forcing them to react instead of dictating the terms.  Or, secondly, the exact same thing that happened to Massa and Bottas could have happened to the Merc guys: fresh tires, a hot lap while the Silver Arrows are standing still, and the lead could have stayed with the guys with the retro-cool livery.  We'll never know, however.  Even with brakes on the verge of failure and overheating engines power units, Rosberg led his teammate across the line, followed by Bottas and Massa.

*OTHER BITS:  Reigning world champion 4Time Vettel suffered a near-total loss of power on the second lap, before whatever problem it was got fixed and he was on his way, a lap down and never in contention.  He'd last until Lap 36, when the team decided to retire the car.  At Red Bull's home track, no less.  The RedBullRing proved to be an interesting place to hold a F1 race, one that was particularly hard on brakes.  It's been since Montreal, maybe five years ago, since we had seen exploding brake discs, but Toro Rosso's Jules Vergne definitely had that happen on Lap 61.  And finally, in the pre-race festivities, every Austrian F1 driver ever got reunited with their old cars to drive a parade lap or two.  Niki Lauda and his Ferrari 312T drew the most attention, of course, but we here at F1U! were wistful at the sight of Patrick Friesacher behind the wheel of the Minardi PS04 once again.  Ah, Guido and Ethel, how we miss you here at F1U!land.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  Rosberg, we suppose.  We're not hooked on the idea, though.

*TEAM OF THE RACE: Williams.  It's been a very long time since they've had a weekend like this, and there were surely a lot of people up and down the pitlane happy for Sir Frank Williams.  And rightfully so.

:  "Let's keep Felipe out for one more lap."


"Keep complaining, Lewis.  Your tears power my car." - Nico Rosberg

"Curse you, Red Baron!" - Lewis Hamilton

"I've never finished on the podium before.  It's so high up here!" - Valterri Bottas

"To pit first and come out fourth is a bit disappointing." - Felipe Massa (note: real quote)

"Felipe, I am faster than you." - HWMNBN (who was closing on Massa at the end)

That's it for this one.  Next up, Silverstone for the British Grand Prix!  See you then, then!

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June 24, 2014

Might Be Back. Might Not Be. Not Sure Yet!

So I seem to have an internet connection again, for the first time since early Sunday morning.  I say "seem", because for all I know it's going to fade off into the sunset the first time I sneeze too hard.  We'll see.  There were a couple of benefits to not having interwebs, though... for one, I managed to watch Date A Live.  All I knew going into it was that Robert liked the show, and he never recommends things.  After having watched it, I understand why he liked it.  We also find out why young miss has such an awkward hairstyle.

The filename says it all...
So, yeah, Date A Live Season 1 gets a "recommended" from this here duck.  If Season 2, which apparently just ended airing, is as good, that'd be a helluva thing.  We'll see.

Oh, and apparently there was a F1 race this past Sunday, too.  I'll have words about that.  Oh yes, I will have words.

If I have an internet connection tomorrow.

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June 21, 2014

F1 Quals: Austria 2014

It's always exciting when the Circus comes to a new racetrack, and so far it seems like everybody and their sister loves the RedBullRing.  At least, not a single driver has said a negative word about it where an ink-stained wretch from the media could hear it, which is not the same thing.  The assembled reportage staff speak of the Media Center in the same hushed, reverent tones that you might hear used when referring to the Sistine Chapel.  In short, Dieter Materschitz has spent his energy-drink money wisely.  But all of that is mere water under the bridge if the race stinks, and the first step to stinky racing is Quals.  So how'd those go today?

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1:10.292 1:09.239 1:08.759
2 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1:10.356 1:09.096 1:08.846
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:09.695 1:08.974 1:08.944
4 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:10.405 1:09.479 1:09.285
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:10.395 1:09.638 1:09.466
6 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1:10.081 1:09.473 1:09.515
7 Kid Kvyat STR-Renault 1:09.678 1:09.490 1:09.619
8 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:10.285 1:09.657 1:10.795
9 Shiv Hamilton Mercedes 1:09.514 1:09.092 No time
10 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:10.389 1:09.624 No time
11 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1:10.124 1:09.754
12 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:10.252 1:09.780
13 4Time Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:10.630 1:09.801
14 Crashtor Maldozer Lotus-Renault 1:10.821 1:09.939
15 Jules Vergne STR-Renault 1:10.161 1:10.073
16 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:10.461 1:10.642
17 Adrian F'n Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1:10.825

18 Esteban! Sauber-Ferrari 1:11.349

19 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1:11.412

20 Gandalf Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 1:11.673

21 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1:11.775

22 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1:12.673

Q1 107% Time

Last race, we saw Mercedes dream of a clean sweep of wins go by the wayside.  This time around, it's the pole position sweep gone, and from a highly surprising source no less.  It's Williams with the front row lockout, and Felipe Massa taking the honors of place.  You could have knocked me over with a feather.

A lot of the reason for this stunning upset was the FIA putting their foot down and saying "if you run wide at Turn 8, if all four tires cross the white line delineating the border of the track, your lap will be excluded.  No arguments allowed, the track border is the track border."  Reportedly half the field had at least one lap nixed during the Qual sessions today, the primary sufferer being Lewis Hamilton.  His first timed lap in Q3 would have ultimately put him third on the grid, but was disallowed.  His second attempt ended early after a big spin at Turn 2.  Force India's Nico Hulkenberg also had his one flying lap killed by a track violation.

The big shocker, though, has to be 4Time Vettel not even making it to Q3.  His final try to get up into the Top 10 at Red Bull's home race came to a swift end when he ran wide at Turn 3.  Even your sleep-deprived Pond Leader knew this was quite the moment, as I managed a quiet "yay".  But I'm not biased.  I just enjoy knowing that Vettel is going to whine and moan some more, revealing his true colors to the world.  Where's that finger now, Sebby?

But let's step back from the schadenfreude and instead celebrate Felipe Massa's first pole position since 2008.  Yeah, it's not going to mean much once the race starts and the Mercedes cars start their charge, because it's clear that the Silver Arrows are still the class of the field, but there's that brief glimmer of hope, of mechanical insecurity for Mercedes.  Hamilton went off due to his rear brakes locking up... another brake failure like in Montreal could take both him and Rosberg out of contention easily.

And if that happens, we suddenly get the image of Felipe Massa racing against HWMNBN for a race win, this time with no Ferrari team orders getting in the way... and who doesn't want to see THAT?

Race is Sunday, we'll be here!

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June 19, 2014

Random Anime Picture #84: Monocular

This hairstyle seems to be a little... what's the word I'm looking for here?  Unwieldy.

"How does Fury even see these screens?"
"He turns."
"Sounds exhausting."

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June 17, 2014

Release The (mini)Quacken!

Not so long ago, friend Brickmuppet found himself terrorized by the latest appearance of artist Florentijn Hofman's greatest creation.  At the time, I expressed great envy of 'Muppet, knowing that The Duck would surely never make it's way to Duckford... this city wouldn't know great art if it jumped up and bit 'em.  After all, they think that orange steel pipes stacked on top of each other and welded together is Art.  So I figured that 'Mup's pictures would be the closest I'd come to the second-largest-rubber-duck-I've-ever-seen.  That is, until I came home from the Duck U Bookstore one day and found a USPS notification stuck to my door... a package delivered, and taken back to the post office.  Confused, I asked for redelivery.  After a couple of days worth of Wild Goose Chase, I finally corralled the thing... to discover it been sent from Brickmuppet.  Expecting another one of his exploding kiwi attacks, I opened it very gingerly... and found this:

It's my very own Tolo commemorative Florentjin Hofman (mini)Quacken!  Now, I have a Tolo "chubby duckie", a gift from Ph.Duck from when he visited (amongst other places) Denmark, but this?  This is next-gen stuff, right here.  Plus, it's a numbered limited edition, to boot!

What's even cooler is that "423" is my birthday!  He somehow managed to get me the one miniQuacken that was practically made for me, completely at random.  It was meant to be.

There were other things in the package as well: a book on the Tuskegee Airmen, autographed by a member of that historical unit.  An Osprey book on Zeppelins.  A t-shirt from The Quacken visit, as well as a pin of same.  But the rubber duckie itself is undoubtedly the neatest duckie I've seen in a long time.

Thanks, 'Muppet!

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June 16, 2014

F1 on NBCSN: Austria 2014

We're slightly giddy around Pond Central today.  Not only did we survive the store visit last Friday, not only did we get a surprise rubber duckie in the post this weekend (more to come about that!), but we've got a brand new race track to enjoy when the F1 Circus makes its way to Spielberg Austria, home of the RedBullRing!  Let's take a look at this n00b:

One thing we can say for sure: it isn't a Tilkedrome! (Though it was the first circuit he redesigned for F1, as it turns out... read on!)  Nor is it really a new circuit, either, as F1 used to race here; most recently from 1997 to 2003, when it was known as the A1-Ring  It was purchased by the team sponsor in 2004, renovated, brought up to F1 standards, and slotted into the calendar when the Grand Prix of Weehawken was postponed (again).  So here we are.  What sort of circuit is it?  It's short, fast, with a pleasant amount of elevation change, but best of all... it flows nicely.  None of this start-stop-start-stop crap we're "treated" to at all the new circuits, oh no.  Actually, here's a (loud) video to give you an idea...

I don't want to scare any of you, because I know how foreign this is going to sound to you all, but... I like it.  A lot.  I suspect this is gonna be a fun one!  The current lap record is from the 2003 race, 1:08.337, set by Slappy Schumacher.

Speaking of Herr Schumacher, there is news.  He was moved today from ICU to a rehab hospital, while his spokesman proclaimed that he's no longer in a coma.  Certainly good news, except it's nothing new: he's been out of the coma since some time in April, when it was reported that he was opening his eyes and having some minor interactions with the world.  That's called "being out of coma."  So today's news... isn't really news at all, except for the being moved to a different hospital bit.  So on one hand, yay, but on the other?  He's still not likely to be able to feed himself, or possibly even breathe for himself, for a very long time to come, if ever.  The weird thing about the brain is that a ridiculously fit man like Slappy may not have a brain that can "rewire" itself around the damage inflicted, while a 46-year old sedentary man who writes about F1, has never driven a manual car in his life, and has only once driven about 100mph, might have a brain eminently suited to rewire itself.  We just don't know until it happens.  If it does.  What I'm saying is, Good Luck, Michael.  You were far from my favorite driver, but I'm pullin' for you now.

This weekend's coverage, brought to you by the Legendary Announce Team, will be as follows:
7a - 830a: Practice 2 live on NBCSN
7a - 830a: Quals live on NBCSN
630a - 9a: 2014 Grand Prix of Austria, live on NBCSN

Of course, the good folks of F1U! will be gathered for their usual hijinks, so why not join us?  So there, hah!

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June 13, 2014

Excitement Over

It was exciting for a few hours there, but I made it through more-or-less unscathed.  I think this is good news.  Probably.  I think.

Lets go with that for the time being.

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June 11, 2014

So Very Exciting

Sorry there's been silence from this side of the screen this week.  Things have gotten quite exciting around the Duck U Bookstore recently, and potentially could be even moreso on Friday, when my boss visits.

No, not "exciting" again!
On the other hand, my favorite car race is this weekend: the 24 Hours of LeMans!  Maybe I'll be able to catch some of it... the store is open this Saturday, y'see, and the race starts around 7am Pond Central Time.

So, more to come as soon as I can get some time.  I promise!  For sure!  Yeah!

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June 08, 2014

F1 Update!: Canada 2014

The best day of the weekend greeted the assembled F1 Circus as they took to the grid at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal.  This was a mixed blessing: the sun had heated the asphalt to a level where the tires would work beautifully... but it was also hot enough that people were talking about a chance of overheating the tires, too.  But all eyes were turned to the two Silver Arrows poised at the head of the pack.  Mercedes was angling for the first undefeated season, but the two teammates, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, had been sniping at each other for weeks.  Everything was shaping up for a great race.  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2014 Grand Prix of Canada!

*LIGHTS OUT:  Clearly the two Mercedes drivers were completely unconcerned by the 20 cars behind them when the race began.  Hamilton had the better start and was in front of polesitter Rosberg as they headed to Turn 1, but Rosberg had the racing line.  Quite correctly, he made darn sure his teammate respected that fact, leaving him zero room as they went through the turn.  This resulted in Hamilton having to slow down and leave the circuit briefly, allowing Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel to move past into second place.  Surprising, but it was the first turn and Hamilton certainly had the better car.  Then the race changed.

*SAFETY CAR:  Two weeks ago in Monaco, backmarker team Marussia earned their first ever World Championship points.  Whatever the exact opposite of that feeling is, is what they felt at Turn 4 on the first lap today.  Max Chilton, who had finished every one of his 25 races in F1, lost control and collected his Marussia teammate, Jules Bianchi, sending them both into the wall.  The amount of debris left behind had to be seen to be believed, and a Safety Car was immediately summoned.  It took seven laps for the cleanup to be completed and the race to be resumed.

*DOLDRUMS:  The next 30 laps or so seemed to be a replay of pretty much every other race this season.  The two Mercedes pulled away from the rest of the field, opening up an 18 second lead over third place.  By this point, the F1U! team found itself dozing in its comfy chairs and seriously considering turning off the TV and taking full-fledged naps.  Then the race changed.

*BULLETPROOF, NOT HEATPROOF:  Around Lap 40, Lewis Hamilton called in to the pit wall, reporting a loss of power, losing a full second to leader Nico Rosberg in less than a lap.  Shortly thereafter, Rosberg, too, called into the Mercedes pits, reporting a loss of power.  Both cars carry on, but both are visibly slower and losing a second a lap to the rest of the field.  And then something that hadn't happened all season occurred.

*MASSA?  REALLY?:  On Lap 45, Rosberg pitted for new tires and the bad news that there was nothing the team could do about the power loss.  His teammate took over the lead.  The next lap saw Hamilton pit for tires, and return to the track in second place, just ahead of Rosberg, and just behind the Williams of Felipe Massa.  This was the first lap led by someone other than Rosberg or Hamilton all season.

*TIRED.  RETIRED.:  The first sign there was something terribly wrong with Hamilton's car was in the hairpin on Lap 47.  What should have been a relatively easy slow-down-and-turn became a desperate attempt to drag the car through the right-hander while Nico Rosberg went underneath him for second.  On the long back straight with the aid of DRS, he easily repassed Rosberg, but then completely blew the chicane at the end.  He was forced to give the position back to his teammate, at which point there was visible smoke coming from the right side of the car, which slowed to horse-and-buggy pace.  Upon returning to the pits, the car was retired.  The official reason was brake failure caused by an overheating ERS-K unit... clearly the same problem Rosberg had.  All eyes then turned to the remaining Silver Arrow.

*STILL LEADING:  On Lap 40, Nico Rosberg had a 21 second lead over Force India's Sergio Perez in third.  On Lap 50, the lead to Perez, now in second due to the retirement of Hamilton, was 0.9 seconds.  The next two places, Ricciardo and Vettel, were less than a second behind Perez, and Nico Hulkenberg's Force India was a couple seconds behind them.  While Perez tried to figure out how to get past the Mercedes, the rest of the top six close in behind them, everybody dicing for position, looking for any sign of an opening.

:  This situation lasted for some 15 laps, a masterful piece of driving from Rosberg in a less-than-healthy car.  Sergio Perez then suffered a brake casualty, allowing the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo to get past and into second.  It took him less than a lap to then pass Rosberg for the lead, for which Rosberg had no answer.  The Red Bull mechanics went wild.

*THE END: And that's effectively how it ended, with Ricciardo leading Rosberg, ahead of Seb Vettel.  At the start of the final lap, Felipe Massa in 5th tried to get past the wounded Perez in 4th.  The two made contact and both went into the wall outside of Turn 1 at high speed (nearly collecting Vettel in the process).  Immediately the race was Safety Car'd, effectively ending the amazing race that started so... um... less-than-interestingly.

:  You would expect first-time winner Daniel Ricciardo to win this award today.  You would be wrong.  Nico Rosberg wins this for managing to coax an unhealthy Mercedes home in second place, despite a ERS-K system that wasn't working worth a darn and potentially being over a second per lap slower than his rivals.  All of this while his teammate retired almost immediately with the same problem. 

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  Red Bull.  Finally, someone took the fight to Mercedes and made it stick.  We just wish it had been any other team.

*MOMENT OF THE RACE:  It's hard not to be happy for Daniel Ricciardo.



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June 07, 2014

F1 Quals: Canada 2014

Mercedes is the class of the grid this year, clearly.  Between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, they've had every single pole position to date.  They've won every race this season as well, but that's beside the point right now.  Either one of the two could easily win pole... but!  Hamilton loves this circuit.  The best drivers have "their" tracks: Senna owned Monaco.  Schumacher owned... well, everything, but he held Spa dear in his heart.  Prost was France, Jim Clark owned the British GP, and on and on.  Well, Hamilton claims Montreal as his.  So how far ahead of his teammate did he finish in Quals?  Let's take a look at the provisional grid for the 2014 Grand Prix of Canada:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Dreamkiller Rosberg Mercedes 1:16.471 1:15.289 1:14.874
2 WTF Hamilton Mercedes 1:15.750 1:15.054 1:14.953
3 4Time Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:17.470 1:16.109 1:15.548
4 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1:16.772 1:15.806 1:15.550
5 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1:16.666 1:15.773 1:15.578
6 Hooly Dooly Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:17.113 1:15.897 1:15.589
7 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:17.010 1:16.131 1:15.814
8 Jules Vergne STR-Renault 1:17.178 1:16.255 1:16.162
9 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:16.631 1:16.214 1:16.182
10 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:17.013 1:16.245 1:16.214
11 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:16.897 1:16.300
12 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1:16.446 1:16.310
13 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1:18.235 1:16.472
14 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:17.732 1:16.687
15 Kid Kvyat STR-Renault 1:16.938 1:16.713
16 Adrian F'n Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1:17.519 1:17.314
17 Crashtor Maldozer Lotus-Renault 1:18.328

18 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1:18.348

19 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1:18.359

20 Gandalf Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 1:19.278

21 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1:19.820

DNS Esteban! Sauber-Ferrari

Q1 107% Time

There will be blood in the Mercedes mobilehome tonight.  Hamilton must be chewing 10p nails and pissing hate right now.  This can't end well... I just can't see it.  SOMEwhere down this season, there's going to be an explosion.  This business will get out of control.  It will get out of control and we'll be lucky to live through it... because it'll make for GREAT drama!

Really, is there anything else important on the grid?  4Time managed to qualify third, but he's 22nd of 22 when it comes to top speed through the trap.  Guess who's first?  Well, yeah, Nico Hulkenberg, but the two Mercedes are way up the list.  Unless there's a failure, I will NOT bet against the Silver Arrows.

The only reason it isn't as dull as Vettel's domination is that with Mercedes, either driver has a chance.  The past four years, Red Bull put everything behind Vettel, and the devil take Mark Webber.

The race is at 1pm Pond Central Time Sunday on NBC, so everybody can watch it (not owning a TV isn't an excuse)... see ya there!

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June 06, 2014

D-Day 70

"Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!

"You are about to embark on The Great Crusade... ...the eyes of the world are upon you.

"Your task will not be an easy one.  Your enemy is well-trained, well-equipped and battle hardened.

"The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!

"I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle.  We will accept nothing less than full Victory!

"Good luck!  And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking."
-Dwight D Eisenhower.

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June 05, 2014

The First Of Many

The year is 1979 or 1980.  The place is Duckford.  Wonderduck has been friends with Vaucaunson's Duck for roughly a year, and there'd been a lot of Fight In The Skies played in that time, with more still to come.  The game is fun, challenging and exciting, but Wonderduck wants to know more about the planes of World War I... because doesn't everybody?  The library at QS Trotter Elementary School has practically nothing on the topic, of course.  Which means that purchasing is the only recourse, and herein lies a problem.  Problem #1: Wonderduck is 10 years old, and has no income of any sort.  Problem #2: Momzerduck and I are... not to put too fine a point on it... poor.  Duckford is in the midst of a deep Recession, either a hangover from the nationwide '75 one or the beginnings of the crushing early '80s failure (note: Duckford was a factory town... emphasis on was.  They went away in this time).  Money was very tight indeed... often it came down to "heat, light, food: choose two."

Which just goes to show how great a mom Momzerduck was... she made it work, somehow.  Yes, times were tight, but she never complained where I could hear her and things always came out okay in the end.  Looking back at it, it must have been hell for her, and here comes lil' Wonderduck, wondering if he could get something frivolous like a book on World War I airplanes. 

I don't know that that's how it went down.  It was 35 or so years ago, after all, but if it wasn't exactly like that, it must have been pretty close.  But sometime not long afterwards, a trip to Royal Hobby occurred that ended up with me leaving with a book on airplanes from the beginnings of flight through 1918.  And did I read the hell out of that book.  It wasn't a children's book, oh no.  It had a good basic history of flight at the origins, the names and figures involved, and then it got into facts and figures of planes famous and failed... the entry on the Phillips Multiplane set my brain a-racin', trying to figure out how anybody would think that'd work.  Of course, things like aerodynamics weren't as well known then as they are now, but I was just a kid.  So I kept reading, over and over, until I practically had that book memorized.

And then I grew up.  The games of FITS stopped.  High school happened, and it sucked.  Then college, getting kicked out of grad school, and the real world came a-callin'.  Somewhere along the way, the book disappeared, probably into the trash one way or another.  Other interests came and went, or came and stayed, and I simply... forgot.

The end.  No happy ending here, folks.  It doesn't work that way in real life, I'm afraid.  It's gone.


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June 04, 2014

Midway Day 2014

Just don't have enough time to do this justice, but here's an interesting photo of filmmaker John Ford, taken with some Marines at Midway.

Of course, Ford made the classic documentary The Battle of Midway, as well as the less well-known Torpedo Squadron 8Both are watchable here

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June 03, 2014

F1 on TV: Canada 2014

The next stop on the European leg of the Formula 1 calendar is... Montreal?  It must be the whole French-Canadian thing, I suppose.  Mon dieu, those European people are odd.  Still, if they're going to claim a Canadian racecourse for their own, this is the one to choose.  Let's take a look at the map for the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, on the Ile Notre-Dame, in the St Lawrence River, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

It's the anti-Monaco, all fast straights with heavy braking for sharp turns.  It's a fun track, one that's given us such classic moments as the pavement coming up in chunks, the Montreal Marmot Massacre, the 2011 four-hour extravaganza, and the Robert Kubica wreck, still the worst accident I've seen in F1.  We've also seen a lot of great races here, and maybe we'll get one this year.

I'm not holding my breath.  F1 is really the same as the past few years now, just with silver cars instead of purple-blue.  Except that, say, last year, I could imagine someone beating the Red Bulls.  Still, our friends in the Legendary Announce Team will be doing their level best to make it an interesting broadcast, so lets take a look at when they'll be doing their thing!

Practice 2: 1p - 230p live on NBCSN
Quals: 12n - 130p live on NBCSN
2014 Grand Prix of Canada: 1pm - 3pm? live on NBC (the Big Network)

So gather up your Tim Horton's, pour a Labatt's, load up a plate with poutine, and then realize that Canadian cuisine is awful.  Then watch the race!  See ya then!

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June 01, 2014

Ben-To! Ep05

I guess I need to explain myself here.  Back in 2012, I began these writeups for a lil' show about high schoolers battlin' for bento boxes, a show I actually really, really liked.  With the way stuff was going at work, though, I just couldn't keep it up... three months between writeups just isn't good enough.  So I reluctantly bid Ben-To! adieu, always hoping that one day, I'd go back and revisit the thing.

And then, a few weeks ago, Robert revealed in his newsletter that Funimation had not only licensed the series, but would be releasing it in July.  He expressed his reservation with the concept of the show... fighting over half-priced meals... but mentioned in an e-mail to me that if I liked it, there must be something to it and he should read my writeups.  Mind you, this was coming from the man who all but confirmed that the licensing of Rio Rainbow Gate! was my damn fault.

With that black mark on my soul, I pretty much have to do something to get rid of it, and what better than to promote a series I actually like?  Ben-To! was a go, once again.  Instead of starting over at Ep01, though, I'm going to pretend that the past year-and-change between the last writeup and this one didn't actually happen... if only.  Here's Ep02, Ep03, and Ep04, for your reading enjoyment and so you won't be completely confused.  I've re-read them a couple of times, just trying to figure out what I was talking about back then!  So without further ado, let's get back to the battlin' bento beat, booyah!

And of course we return to this lovely fanservice/fighting comedy with... a scene with the Pointy-Chinned Bishie from last episode (see, told ya you should have re-read my writeups, but did you listen?  Nooooooooo, of course you didn't.  Kids these days with their know-it-all attitudes and 'just how important could it be' state of mind, I tell ya.  When I was your age, I re-read my write-ups, and I liked it.  Razzenfrazzenmizzenmast...), reporting in to his heretofore unseen superior.  It seems that Shaga, Our Hero's cousin, aka "The Beauty Of The Lake," aka the Wolf who's technically on the wrong side of the tracks at the moment, is causing them no end of trouble.  Not because of anything she's done, but because of what she might do, which is tip off the Ice Witch to the nefarious doings of Pointy-Chinned Bishie's boss.  This sits not well with said Boss.

He too is a Pointy-Chinned Bishie, who's just sitting around playing with his nuts, rolling them around in his hand.  Walnuts, they look like to me, though I suppose they could be gabon nuts or even, if you squint really hard, a hickory nut.  The Borneo Tallow Nut is right out, though.  He tells his Pointy-Chinned Underling  that he must keep observing, or else Da Boss might have to take direct action... no matter how many casualties his side will take.

Being a spineless coward devoted underling, PHB agrees and hangs up the phone.  He then bitches that the group he belongs to, "Gabriel Ratchet," has stooped to such depths, but it's too late to go back now.  Okay, who in their right mind would call their gang "Gabriel Ratchet"?  A bunch of Archangel-fearing Mechanics, and that's about it in my world.  However, in my world there aren't hordes of teenage martial artists fighting over half-priced food.

I'm not entirely convinced that's a good thing. 


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