November 23, 2017

Post-Turkey 2017

Hey everybody!  Did y'all have a happy Thanksgiving?  Or, for those members of the Pond Scum that aren't in the US, did you have a good Thursday?  Mine was... actually not so bad at all.  I'm not going to the Old Home Pond for The Meal until Saturday, so I got to do something I've wanted to do for a long, long time: I watched football on Thanksgiving.


That I had no rooting interest in any of the six teams that played today is of no importance at all.  In fact, that made it better in that I didn't care about the results, so could just watch and enjoy.  I watched the entirety of the Vikings/Lions game, listened to the Chargers/Cowboys which wow was awful, and gave up on the Giants/Redskins somewhere in the second quarter and took a nap.  Not a bad day at all, that.

What about you folks?

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November 22, 2017

F1 on NBCSN: Abu Dhabi 2017

So this is it.  Race #20 of 20.  The last of the season.  The last race to be covered by NBCSN and the Legendary Announce Team.  The last time we'll see F1 cars without an ugly piece of structure over the cockpit.  Perhaps the last time we'll see the well-known F1 logo.  The last race of Felipe Massa's career... again.  And the last weekend you'll have to listen to me whine moan and complain about Formula 1 for the season.  Here's the track map for the 2017 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi:


I've said it before, I'll say it again probably: it looks like a great track to drive on.  It's proven, however, to be not so much of a great place for a race.  Like so many Tilkedromes, of course.  Maybe now that Liberty Media owns F1 (essentially) someone else will get a chance to design a race course?  Please?

Weather should be dry and hot, perfect for the Mercs, assuming they're not bolting 2018 test pieces onto their car for race experience.  Even then, they'll probably run away and hide.  But who knows?  Not I, for I am just a humble fan.

Who will be sad when the race is over, for it means that Steve Matchett and David Hobbs will no longer be providing coverage for Formula 1, for the first time since I became a fan in the modern era... 2004.  Those two, along with The Varsha and yes, even Leigh Diffey, have been the voice of F1 for me for 13 years.  But ESPN is going to go with the international feed and announcers next year, rendering the LAT mute... and moot.  So here, for the final time, is the broadcast schedule for the Legendary Announce Team:
Friday
Practice 2: 7a - 830a  live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals: 7a - 830a  live on NBCSN
Sunday
2017 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi: 630a - 9a  live on NBCSN

All times Pond Central.  Accept no substitutes.  Coverage of Quals will likely be delayed as Saturday is when I'm going to the Old Home Pond for the Thanksgiving  meal.  

So there we go.  Let's all get ready, shall we?

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November 19, 2017

Random Anime Pictures #140: I Did NOT Expect That

As I've gotten more interested in the past months about anime-based figures, I've seen a bunch based on characters from something called "To Love-Ru."  They've mostly been very good-looking, and there's a series of figures that are probably the best-looking I've ever seen... ridiculously expensive, waaaaaay out of my price range, but the best-looking.  But I knew nothing about the series except that one pink-haired character wears a weird hat.  So with so little to look at this season, I decided to give it a shot.


-To Love-Ru Darkness, Ep01
Never mind the zombies being attacked by giant plants.  A careful eye will notice that the pink-haired schoolgirl is... um... crouched in an interesting location.  This is not by accident.  TLRD is perhaps the single-most ecchi anime I've ever seen that isn't flat-out hentai.  And it was broadcast!  "But Wonderduck," I hear you say and really, are you using whitening strips, your teeth look great, "if that picture is representative, it isn't that over-the-top, right?"

No.  It's even more than that.  Remember the High School of the Dead OVA?  That was nothing in comparison to this show.  Now, nothing I've shown you here is out-of-the-ordinary... or even particularly worth commenting on.  That's because I don't dare put the NSFW stuff on the front page.  I warn you again: if you click "more", you're going into NSFW-land.

Last warning: beyond here is NSFW.

more...

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November 17, 2017

Random Anime Pictures #139: Ohfertheluvva...

-Aquarion Logos, Ep05
See, now they're just pandering.  A beach episode.  The fifth episode of twenty-six, and already it's a beach episode.  Then the best shot of the whole thing is also the one where the Tagonist is most fully dressed.  I don't understand how this show thinks at all.

Well, okay, maybe I do a bit.  

This was the episode where everybody that wasn't a die-hard Aquarion fan jumped ship... and apparently, some of the die-hards did, too.  I know I'm not going to go any farther with it. What's the point?  I don't like giant robot/mecha as a rule, I don't like shouted special attack names, and I really don't like shows throwing in beach episodes less than a fifth of the way through the run.  I mean sure, the fanservice is nice, but if the series is this desperate this early, the trainwreck that's coming is going to be immense.  No thanks.

Nope.  Ain't gonna work.

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November 15, 2017

Ducks In Anime: Out Of The Darkness, A Light


-Aquarion Logos, Ep02
Despite my advancing years, my eye can still be distracted by cute representatives of the opposite sex, even to the point of watching an anime series solely because of a character design.  Oh, it doesn't happen often... I usually require something more than that, like a storyline or grand concept that is appealing... but upon occasion everything will line up just right.  As I wasn't really paying attention to anything this season... I still intend to finish up Girls Last Tour... I said "what the hell," and began watching Aquarion Logos.

This was not the best idea I ever had.  I acknowledge that giant robot shows can in theory be interesting and enjoyable.  Having acknowledged that, I need to state that Aquarion Logos does nothing to prove that theory correct.  Lots of combining small ships to make a big one, lots of yelled attack moves, flat-out awful animation levels, a stupid stupid plot... really, the only worthwhile thing in it is the Tagonist, Maia (above).  Yes, tagonist.  She's not on the side of Right And Good, so she can't be the protagonist, but she's not on the side of Darkness and Evil anymore either, so she's no antagonist.  So she's a Tagonist. Oh, and the cafe that's a front for the Good Guys' Giant Robot Hangar has a row of rubber duckies, as seen up top there.  Sadly, even the combination of cut-off jeans shorts and rubber duckies cannot save this series.


* Yes, I know I'm not using protagonist and antagonist correctly.  Just roll with it.

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November 13, 2017

F1 Update!: Brazil 2017

A brilliantly sunny day greeted the F1 Circus as they made their way to the grid, led by the Mercedes of Valterri Bottas.  The Finn was going to have to carry the banner for the Silver Arrows on this day as his world champion teammate, Lewis Hamilton, was starting from the pit lane after binning his car in Quals.  He had his work cut out for him as the two Ferraris were right behind him in second and third, led by Seb Vettel, and the Italian team was desperate for a win.  Every team wants to end a season on a high note, true, but Ferrari actually led both championships for a substantial portion of the season before watching Merc run away from them.  Face needs must be saved.  So what occurred?  What transpired?  THIS is your F1Update! for the 2017 Grand Prix of Brazil!


*SOMEONE SET US UP THE BOMB:  After his visit to the barriers during Qualifying, Lewis Hamilton was going to be starting from somewhere around last place on the grid, so the team made the strategic decision to actually start him from the pit lane.  Why is this important?  Because it allowed changes to be made to the car's setup.  The Mercedes has proven to be rather persnickity regarding the weather this season.  It isn't fond of cool track temperatures, being unable to get its tires up to operating levels, so the team has to do everything it can to get heat into them.  This slows the car down.  The weather for Quals was cool and not sunny, so both Mercs were set up for that... and it got Bottas the pole.  However, race day came and it was both warm AND sunny; the track temperature was right in the Merc's sweet spot.  After the end of Qualifying, however, the cars go into parc ferme and cannot be worked on or adjusted in any way unless there's a safety issue, and even then it's a case of "like for like."  The race Powers That Be have to approve the switching of parts, and will watch the change like a hawk.  THEN the car goes back into parc ferme.  That was Bottas' position.  But Hamilton?  Since he was already going to be starting from the back, starting from the pit lane would be no great hardship, and it meant that the parc ferme rules did not apply; they could make any changes they desired.  And they desired to change the setup for hot weather.  Oh, and to replace almost everything on the car, from floor to engine.  It would make a substantial difference.

*LIGHTS OUT:  Once the five red lights went out, we had the usual drag race to the first turn between Bottas on the outside and Vettel on the inside.  Neither driver had great starts, wheelspin being the thing to begin with.  It was Vettel who managed to get the power down to the asphalt first and he passed Bottas as they reached the braking zone for Turn 1.  One turn later, all became chaos.  Smiley Ricciardo spun his Red Bull, and behind him Kevin Magnussen and Stoffelwaffle did Very Bad Things to each other.  This would call out the Safety Car, and only instants after the notification came out we had another wreck, this time when Lettuce Grosjean lost his Haas and broke False Esteban! into the kittylitter.  This would prove terminal for False Esteban!'s race, bringing to an end a remarkable string: ever since he began racing single-seaters in the 2014 Formula 3 season, he had never retired from a race.  Alas, no more.

*SAFETY CAR:  As Berndt Maylander was woken from his dark slumber, Lewis Hamilton had to be chortling with glee.  Starting from the pit lane had allowed him to totally avoid all the crashing and the wrecking and the glavin! and find himself in 13th.  Seven positions in just a couple of laps?  Not bad.  Many changed tires during the Safety Car, but not the leaders, and not Hamilton, who began the race on the Soft tires (the hardest compound on offer) and looked to be going long in the first stint, and finish up with a sprint on the ultramegawowthesearesoft tires.  The Safety Car also had the effect of gathering the field back together.  Hamilton may have been in 13th place, but he was only seven seconds behind Vettel.

*READY SET GO:  After the restart, Vettel managed to open a two second gap to Bottas, but no farther.  However, they began pulling away from the rest of the field; they both wanted the win so badly there was never any thought to playing it safe or protecting the tires.  As they ran away and hid, the cameras slid back to where the action was... with another silver-colored car.

*CHAAAARGE!:  On Lap 5, when the Safety Car went away, Hamilton was 13th.  On Lap 6, he was 12th, having passed Pleasant Stroll.  On Lap 7, he was 11th, getting by Sony Ericcson.  Lap 8 saw our champion leave Pierre Ghastly behind for 10th.  You can be forgiven for thinking that Lap 9 would see him in 9th place.  In reality, he was 8th, having passed both Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg.  He then began to slack off, taking five laps to pass Sergio Perez for 7th.  Now yes, Hamilton was in a much better car than everybody he passed, but that was still some mighty fine driving.  And it wasn't over yet... at this point, Hamilton asked his crew a stunning question: "Is Vettel getting away?"  In fact, he was only 16 seconds behind the leader at this point.

*PITS: By Lap 29, all the leaders had pitted for fresh tires... and Lewis Hamilton was leading the Brazilian Grand Prix (that's a lot of Grand Prix!).  And he would hold that lead for 14 laps until he had to make his one stop for tires.  He'd rejoin in 5th place, nine seconds behind Embryo Verstappen's Red Bull.

*NO... HE CAN'T, CAN HE?:  On fresh tires, Hamilton immediately began reeling in the youthful Dutchman.  On Lap 59, he took 4th place and immediately set off for the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen only two seconds ahead.  He would begin hounding the veteran, narrowing the lead to as little as 0.9 seconds.  Once Hamilton locked up going into a turn, however, it was clear that his remarkable day had come to an end, his tires cooked and the Merc wobbling.

*THE END:  When the race finally ended, the top four finishers, Vettel-Bottas-Raikkonen-Hamilton, were covered by less than 5.50 seconds.  There was then a 27 second gap back to Verstappen.  In many ways, this 1 - 3 result was exactly what Ferrari needed.  But there had to be a dark cloud hanging around, caused by Hamilton's storming drive.  It wouldn't have been hard to imagine the champion on the podium... or if he had began the race near his normal grid position, running away and hiding from the rest of the field.

Next race is the last race, Abu Dhabi in two weeks.  We'll see ya then for the finish!

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November 12, 2017

Delay Delay Delay

So last night I went to sleep early, intending to wake up in time to watch the F1 race live form Brazil.  Instead, I had a nightmare of a night.  From around midnight to maybe 6am-ish, I was basically up every hour dealing with... um... a warp core breach.  


I've had more fun.  Anyway, the amount of sleep I had last night was insufficient to my needs which also led to massive headache that made me... um... cranky.  I had to cancel brunch with the folks, sort of moved around in a daze until I sat down to watch the race around noon, then promptly dozed off with a sandwich in my hand.  Once I woke up, I rewound the race, started it again, then dozed off at about the halfway point.  Didn't miss much, though.  Now that I've watched the thing, I'm going to go back to bed.  When I awake, I suspect I'm going to feel like a overcooked strand of mafaldine.

You can probably see where I'm going with all this.  It's not like the race was all that exciting anyway.  Bear with me, I am old and tired.

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November 11, 2017

F1 Quals: Brazil 2017

Well, quals hasn't aired yet here, but I've seen the important bits!  Here's the provisional grid for the 2017 Grand Prix of Brazil:

Pos
Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:09.452 1:08.638 1:08.322
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:09.643 1:08.494 1:08.360
3 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:09.405 1:09.116 1:08.538
4 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:09.820 1:09.050 1:08.925
5 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:09.828 1:09.533 1:09.330
6 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:10.145 1:09.760 1:09.598
7 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:10.172 1:09.593 1:09.617
8 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:10.078 1:09.726 1:09.703
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:10.227 1:09.768 1:09.805
10 Felipe Retire Already Williams Mercedes 1:09.789 1:09.612 1:09.841
11 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:10.168 1:09.830
12 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:10.148 1:09.879
13 Stoffelwaffle McLaren Honda 1:10.286 1:10.116
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:10.521 1:10.154
15 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1:10.625 DNS
16 Herelein Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:10.678

17 Pierre Ghastly Toro Rosso 1:10.686

18 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:10.776

19 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:10.875

NC Lewis Hamilton Who? Mercedes DNF


Hamilton threw his car into the barriers after just a few minutes of Q1 had elapsed, ending his day early.  He later said that the crash "was very unusual" for him.  Well, yeah.  Kinda.  I'll say this for the newly-minted four-time WC, his wreck had style.  He went into Turn 7, the rear of the car broke free, and it looked for all the world that he was drifting the Merc through the turn intentionally.  That is, right up until the moment it went rocketing off through the kittylitter and buried itself in the tire barrier.  There were some anxious moments as Hamilton didn't reply right away to his pitwall asking if he was okay but eventually he confirmed no injury.  He did look at the back of the car for a while before walking off... clearly he thought something broke back there.

Other than that, though?  It appears the session wasn't all that exciting.  Sure, Bottas took pole at the very last moment from Vettel, but... well.  There are a LOT of penalties to be applied before the start tomorrow... Smiley Ricciardo gets a 10-spot, for example... so that'll jumble things up a little more for tomorrow's race.  Weather is supposed to be warm and dry... darn it.

So!  Race in the morning then!  Enjoy enjoy enjoy!

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November 08, 2017

F1 on Somewhere or Other: Brazil 2017

Brazil.  Not my favorite race.  Oh, I don't hate it the way I hate Hungary... it's much deeper, this distaste I have for Grand Prix of Brazil.  The Hungarian Grand Prix, I just dislike the track.  Brazil?  I hate the entire weekend.  But first, here's the track map:


Okay, cool.  From all reports, most of the F1 community loves the circuit, loves driving there, finds the place to be a great challenge.  So why my bitter antipathy for Interlagos?  Back in the old days, when my F1 fandom was shiny and new, Brazil was the last race of the season.  That meant that my favorite brand of motorsport was going to be going away for four months, give or take, and it was all Brazil's fault.

I didn't say it was logical.

But because of all that, the weekend always felt gray and overcast, even if it wasn't.  Maybe particularly if it wasn't.  That we occasionally got reports of drivers or team members being threatened at gunpoint didn't help matters either.  But rain is, if not common, then at least not very rare at all, which literally made it gray... and slippery, too!  Bonus!

But now Interlagos isn't even the last race on the calendar so my distaste for the circuit doesn't even make sense anymore.  Doesn't matter.  Don't like it.

I do like the Legendary Announce Team however, and we've only got two more races with them until they are scattered to the winds.  Let's enjoy them while we can, right?  Here's the broadcast schedule:
Friday
Practice 2: 10a - 1130a  live on NBCSN
Saturday
Quals: 830p - 10p  decidedly not live on NBCSN
Sunday
2017 Grand Prix of Brazil: 930a - 12n  live on NBCSN

All times Pond Central Time.  I am disappointed, but not surprised, by the decision to show NASCAR practice instead of F1 Quals live.  After all, NBCSN will not have Formula 1 much longer... no reason to hype it up just to have it move to ESPN next season.  And thus we get Quals 12 hours late.  However, if you're in the mood, Practice and Quals will be shown right before the race back-to-back-to-back.  I'll still have the normal Quals report up Saturday morning/afternoon, whichever.  I'm not even going to promise the F1U! for Sunday... best laid plans and all that, and my track record hasn't been great recently.

But it'll be here!  I promise.  See you eventually then!

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November 05, 2017

I Blame Pixy. And J Greely. And Maybe Greyduck Too. (UPDATED)

Based on reviews, blurbs, comments, and otherwise out-and-out love given out over the years by the people in the title, I just bought the audiobook version of Storm Front, the first of The Dresden Files series, by Jim Butcher.


There are 15 books in the series.

I'm a inveterate completionist.

What have you done to me?  I thought we were friends, man.


UPDATE: J says below that the first books would probably be improved if they got someone good to read them, audiobook-wise.  They got someone good: James Marsters.  Who?

Oh.  Spike!  From the Buffyverse.  Guess what?  He's really damn good.  Stage trained, studied at Juilliard, that sorta thing.  His take on Harry Dresden as a worn-down, kinda tired private eye-kinda figure is... well, I can't really say.  I mean, I think it's perfect, but not having read the books, I can't compare it to my "mental reading", y'know?  To me, it works perfectly.

 
The first chapter is actually on yootoob, y'all that know the books give it a listen, tell me what you think.

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November 03, 2017

Doki Doki Literature Club

Yeah, I know.  "Wonderduck, another dating sim?"  Yep!  And not only that, it's about as formulaic as they come!  I mean take a look:


Left to right, you've got the tsundere, the shy bookworm, the genki childhood friend, and the school princess who's also the president of this little club.  Of course, you're the only guy in sight.  We've seen this anime, this manga, this visual novel, before, dozens of times really.  These same characters too... oh, the character designs might be different, but really they're the same.

So why did this free game that's available on Steam hook me so darn hard that it got into my dreams?  I want to make this clear: there are spoilers ahead.  Not massive ones, but spoilers nevertheless.  If you're curious about this, but you don't want spoilers, allow me to direct you to friend Ben's post over on the mysteriously named Midnite Tease.  He's got the stuff.

And, if you want to go into it with as little information as possible, I salute you and don't even mind if you're not going to read the rest of this post.  Here's some music for you.
Quite possibly the happiest, most bubbly tune ever... perfect for DDLC!


more...

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November 02, 2017

Still Around, Still Alive

Just... really busy, really really tired, and for a couple of nights this week I had Very Bad Dreams.  Things should loosen up a bit soon, however, and I'll write over the weekend.  Hold on until then, okay?  Thanks!


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