August 31, 2017

Random Anime Pictures #134: Ah! An Adventurous Abecedarian Abruptly Approaches.

-ARIA the Avvenire, Ep02

There are people out there who don't like ARIA.  I get that.  I don't understand it, but I get it.  They probably think it's too slow, or that nothing happens.  And they're right... and wrong at the same time, as anybody who's watched the franchise can tell you.

But one almost universally held opinion is that Kozue Amano sure does draw 'em purty.  And singularly so at that: you won't find any other characters that look like the ones from ARIA.  This is a good thing.


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August 29, 2017

F1 on NBCSN: Italy 2017

It is the Temple of Speed.  It is what you'd get if NASCAR was European.  It is Monza, and it is FAST.  The quickest lap in F1 history was turned here.  If you are looking for subtlety, this is not where you come.  Here's the track map:

 And beyond "woo baby it's fast, " there's no much else I can say about it.  It's been a long, unpleasant day at work, and that has left me disgruntled.  So, instead of spewing disgruntlement all over the place, I'll remind you that the good folks of the Legendary Announce Team never have unpleasant days at work, because work is watching F1 races!  Here's the broadcast schedule:
Practice 2: 7a - 830a  live on NBCSN
Quals: 7a - 830a live on NBCSN
2017 Grand Prix of Italy: 630a - 9a live on NBCSN

So go watch it why don'tcha?  Not like you have to work on Monday after all!  F1U! will be along afterwards as usual.  Yay.

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August 28, 2017

Quick 'n' DIrty F1Update!: Belgium 2017

Beautiful weather over Spa-Francopants, damn the luck.  Everything was looking like it was playing directly into polesitter Lewis Hamilton's hands... if he could make it into La Source first, one could almost consider the race over.  The question was, "could he"?  Right along side him was the Ferrari of Seb Vettel who was out for blood, honor, and more points in the standings.  And behind them were 18 ravenous beasts, screaming for better grid positions.  So what happened?  THIS is your Quick 'n Dirty F1Update! for the 2017 Grand Prix of Belgium!

*THE START, or A Sign Of Things To Come:  Hamilton did indeed make it into the first turn with the lead, but Vettel wasn't making it easy for the Brit, hanging on to his rear wing like there was a grappling hook between them.  But behind them, all was not swell.  While dodging an impending Renault, Sergio Perez managed to bounce his Force India tire-to-tire with his own teammate, False Esteban!... as they ran into Eau Rouge, perhaps the one place on any circuit you don't want to do that.   Up at the front of the pack, Vettel was trying his best to get past Hamilton on the Kemmel Straight, only just barely failing to succeed.  Things would be different, however in a few laps.

*THE LAST, BEST, CHANCE:  On Lap 12, Mercedes brought their leader in for new tires.  As he stopped, Vettel pounded out a couple of sweet laps before he, too, came in for fresh rubber.  Then came the moment he and the pitcrew had worked so hard for... he pulled out of the pits ahead of Hamilton's Mercedes.  He stayed there, too... until the two cars reached the Kemmel Straight, at which point the Merc just out-powered the Ferrari to regain position.  And that's the way it stayed for another 18 laps: Hamilton leading a Ferrari that refused to go away.

*FORCE INDIA GOES KABLOOEY:  On Lap 30, those two wacky Force India drivers, Sergio Perez and False Esteban!, were being stupid again, like they have been all season.  Once again they were racing each other for position heading down from La Source to Eau Rouge where, as you may remember us saying, you don't want to do something like touch tires or anything.  So when False Esteban! decided to make a move on the right-hand side of Perez, you expected one of two things to occur: either Perez would leave his teammate room, or False Esteban! would back out as he saw the space closing up.  In fact, neither of these two things occurred, and the right-rear of Perez made rather impressive contact with the left-front wing of False Esteban!.  A sizable chunk of the nose wing came free, flew all the way across the track, bounced off the catch fencing in front of the stands, then landed back on the circuit.  Meanwhile, Perez's tire deflated as he was go up Eau Rouge and shed its carcass on the straight.  Along the way, though, chunks of rubber and carbon fiber were strewn hither and yon as the Force India struggled around the track for the pits.  Dangerous stuff, and he probably should have parked it for safety reasons.  Because of all the debris, someone poked Berndt Maylander with a very long stick and the Safety Car was deployed.

*THE LAST LAST, BEST, CHANCE:  Both Hamilton and Vettel pitted behind the Safety Car for new tires with around 13 laps to go... and as they came out, one could not help but notice that the Mercedes was on the hardest tire compound available (the Soft rubber), while the Ferrari was on the softest (the Ultra-Softs).  Here at the F1U! media center, quizzical looks were exchanged: "did we just see that?"  After backing up the DVR a few times, and one time managing to restart the entire race video, we were indeed sure that we had seen what we thought we saw.  The Merc was on the slowest tire, the Ferrari on the fastest... and while the Ultra-Softs would give up the ghose before the Softs, both should be expected to last until the end of the race.  Advantage: Ferrari.

*TO THE END:  On the restart, Hamilton managed to keep Vettel behind, but that didn't stop the German from crawling all over the rear wing of the Mercedes.  Hamilton managed to position his car perfectly in defense all lap long, forcing Vettel to regroup, try again, and try to force the Brit into a mistake.  Amazingly, despite having the better tires and being at least as quick as the Merc all day, Vettel could not improve on that restart lap's efforts and finished just a bit over a second behind Hamilton.  Behind them, Smiley Ricciardo proved that he has either nerves of steel or attachments of brass when he went three-wide with Mercedes' Valterri Bottas and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen to take third place off both drivers, then keep it, thus bringing a podium to a close.

*AFTERMATH:  False Esteban! has tweeted that his teammate was trying to kill him.  Force India is, apparently, laying down team orders to prevent this from happening again... and if it does, owner Vijay Mallya has said that race suspensions are a real possibility.  Ugly.

Next race is next week... when we'll be at Monza!  See ya there.

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August 27, 2017

Belgian F1U! Delayed (UPDATED)

This weekend has been totally messed up from the beginning, culminating in the fiasco that was Sunday.  From waking up at 11am to falling asleep during the race then getting sucked into a re-re-re-re-watch of the first John Wick film to taking a nap that wound up lasting four hours and just waking up, it's really just been a day where I've gotten even less accomplished than I normally do.

So it's 1130pm on Sunday night and there's no way I'm going to get the F1U! up tonight.  Thus, instead of killing myself trying, I'm just going to throw a yellow flag and push it back a day.  Sorry 'bout that, folks.

Update: Here, while you wait, enjoy this...
I can't stop laughing.

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August 26, 2017

F1 Quals: Belgium 2017

Belgium, man... Belgium!  Sure, the skies looked clear and wonderful and lovely, but the weather here in the Ardennes forest is like a deadly snake wearing a top hat: it can turn nasty in a second, no matter how cute it looks.  So it was with one eye cocked to the skies as the F1 Circus stepped on the loud pedal and went fast at Spa-Francopants.  Here's the provisional grid for the 2017 Grand Prix of Belgium:

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:44.184 1:42.927 1:42.553
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:44.275 1:43.987 1:42.795
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:44.773 1:43.249 1:43.094
4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:44.729 1:43.700 1:43.270
5 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing
1:44.535 1:43.940 1:43.380
6 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing
1:45.114 1:44.224 1:43.863
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:45.280 1:44.988 1:44.982
8 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:45.591 1:44.894 1:45.244
9 False Esteban! Force India Mercedes 1:45.277 1:45.006 1:45.369
10 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:45.447 1:44.685 No Time
11 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:45.668 1:45.090
12 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:45.728 1:45.133
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:45.535 1:45.400
14 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:45.374 1:45.439
15 Stoffewaffle McLaren Honda 1:45.441 No Time

16 Felipe Not Retired Massa Williams Mercedes 1:45.823

17 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:46.028

18 Pleasant Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:46.915

19 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:47.214

20   Hehrlein Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:47.679

There really wasn't much doubt that one of the Mercs would be on pole, for this is the type of circuit that they live for: friggin' fast.  Remember back when Seb Vettel won all his world championships in the Red Bull?  Remember how those cars weren't the fastest in a straight line, but seemed like they could go through any turn seemingly without losing any speed whatsoever?  Well, the Merc is like the anti-Red Bull.  Not as fast as some through the turns, but enough grunt in the power unit that all sins are absolved.  Except, of course, the Mercs are no slouches in the twistybits.  In a lot of ways, Ferrari is the new Red Bull... great on the tracks that don't depend on horsepower.  Except, of course, that the Ferrari power unit is only a tic or two below Mercedes.  Y'know what?  It's kinda dumb to try and compare new to old.  Mercedes fast. Ferrari nimble.  Grr argh.

This was Lewis Hamilton's 68th career pole position, tying Slappy Schumacher for first all-time in that category.  That's kinda impressive.  Will it translate into a win?  I'm of the opinion that any car with a Merc engine has a good shot at a podium (except for the Williams boys... yeesh).  Force India historically loves this place after all!  However, if I had to put my money on someone to win, it'd have to be Hamilton.  It's just set up for him too perfectly.  Oh, did I mention that his pole lap is the fastest lap ever around Spa-Francoamerican?

Sadly, there is practically no chance for rain forecast for the race.  But, as previously mentioned, this place is notorious for weather coming out of nowhere.  Let's hope.  Race in the morning, F1U! sometime after that.  See you then!

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August 25, 2017

Random Anime Pictures #133: Best Laid Plans

I had a fantastic idea for a post involving one of the last scenes from New Game!, I'd been working it over in my brain all day at work, had it nailed down perfectly.  You would have gotten a look inside the brain of Wonderduck while connecting it together with the show.  I think it would have been a really good post.  

And then I got home, watched the scene again... and realized it had absolutely nothing to do with what I had been thinking.  Total fail, and there's no way I could twist it to fit.  So here's a picture that fully fits my mood.
It's the weekend, at least.

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August 23, 2017

F1 on TV: Belgium 2017

Summer vacation's over everybody!  It's time for the idjits in the F1 Circus to pitch their tents in a new location!  And this time, we're at everybody's favorite WW2 battlefield-turned-race track, Spa-Francorchamps!  Let's take a look at that track map, hey?

It is, of course, a much shorter lap now than it was back in the day.  Almost 9.5 miles it was back in the 20s and 30s, and almost entirely run with the gas pedal stapled to the firewall.  It was also entirely public roads, a huge triangle running between the towns of Spa-Francopants, Malmedy, and Stavelot in the Ardennes forest.  There were no tire barriers, no huge run-off zones, no extra-wide meticulously tidy racing surface.  It was a driver, a car, skinny tires, and trees, houses, barbed-wire fences, cows, spectators, basically anything you can think of to run into, you could run into it at Spa-Francoamerican.  And the weather!  Oy, the weather!  One minute it could be sunny, the next rain or even snow!

Participants in the 1944 race struggle with the weather.
With the retirement of the old track, and let's face it, that was a good idea since nobody has died in a F1 car at Spa-Francophone since the new circuit opened in 1983.  It's still the longest circuit on the calendar, though now only 4.3 miles long.  A good lap would be in the mid 1:40s... what it'll be with the new aero rules and tires is entirely beyond me.  Sure will be fun to see the Circus doing Eau Rouge/Raidillon flat-out, pulling 6g's in the process.

Of course, the Legendary Announce Team will be doing their usual bang-up commentary job on your television sets.  Here's the broadcast schedule:
Practice 2: 7a - 830a  live on NBCSN
Quals: 7a - 830a  live on CNBC
2017 Grand Prix of Belgium, man, Belgium:  630a - 9a  live on NBCSN

Of course, F1Update! will be along sometime afterwards with its usual stellar coverage.  Look forward to it, won't you?  See ya then!

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August 21, 2017


Duckford had a little problem today.  It was overcast and cloudy... at least, it was overcast and cloudy when it wasn't overcast, cloudy and raining.  In fact, when I took my camera and tripod outside, it was dripping a bit.  I wouldn't go so far as to call it "rain", but there was water coming from the sky.  The upshot of all of this is that instead of the sun being a visible disk, it was instead a diffused blob of light.  Still, I gave it my best shot... but most of the pictures turned out like this:

Don't fool yourself into thinking there's a bit of moon arc visible there at the bottom; this picture was taken around 130pm, less than 15 minutes past the most occluded time.  We were supposed to get about 86% coverage.  At 116pm, the sun was still casting clear shadows.  Feh.  Still, the shots weren't all bad.

I call this one "Accidental Hubble."  Particularly in its larger form, it reminded me of dozens of Hubble shots with dust clouds occluding something bright in the center, y'know?  Just not as pretty.  So I have that going for me.  Which was nice.  And then, scrolling through the pictures I came across this one:

By whatever quirk of optics you may care to name, I somehow managed to catch what I assume is a reflection of the eclipse as seen inside the camera lens.  Maybe it's a trick of the mirrorless camera I use.  Maybe it's bouncing off the sun filter.  Maybe it's Maybelline.  All I know is that it's upside down from what we were supposed to be seeing here in Duckford.  And blue.  I have no idea what that's all about.  So there you have it... the best picture of the Great American Eclipse I was able to take.


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Yamato: Portrait Of The Battleship As A Young Boy

Here ya go, CXT.

No, I don't understand my title either.

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August 20, 2017

Just Where Have You Been, Wonderduck?

It was a long week, so I've been relaxing.  Next week, miracle of miracles, we're only on five hours of mandatory OT.  Which is like a gift from the gods as far as I'm concerned... five hours is practically nothing!  

"You weren't planning on using the pocket watch as a metaphor for time, were you?  Yeah, I didn't think so."
I've also been working on a huge project for The Pond, the culmination of which will come tomorrow, weather permitting.   Yep, that's right, I'm going to try some eclipse photography on Monday!  Even have the blessing of my employers, who have encouraged everybody to go outside and experience the "once in a lifetime" event (which will happen again in seven years)... with proper precautions, of course.  I've acquired the filters needed, permission to bring my camera onto the production floor (have to leave it in a supervisor's office until I need it), and hopefully I'll get something good out of it.  Sadly, the forecast is for overcast, clouds, and thunderstorms tomorrow, so all my preparations may be for naught.  But, weather permitting, I'll be out there.  

It's... unlikely that any Akus will be created.  I hope.

On the "more" page, I've put some music that I've misplaced a couple of times before... this time, they won't get away again!  Enjoy, or not.  Whichever.  I'm not picky.


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August 17, 2017


First I slept like... um... something that sleeps really badly... last night.  Then I got to work, looked at the claims rotation, and realized I was staring at nine hours or more of the worst type of claim possible.  Not only has the client gone out of their way to make them more difficult, and thus slower, but they've also instituted new automation software that's supposed to take the easy claims out of the queue and do them automagically.  This has been tried before.  It didn't work then, and it's not working now.  Which means we have to fix the problems they caused.  AGAIN.

Then the lady who sits immediately to my left debuted a new perfume today.  By the bucketful.  And she was using her scented hand lotion nigh on constantly... like, every 20 minutes or so.  Neither smell alone was overly offensive, though it's kinda rude to inflict that upon others in close proximity.  Combined, however... combined, it was like an olfactory sledgehammer right between the eyes.  Worse, the smell lingered.  A blanket nastygram from the boss (at my request-slash-plea) got her to at least cut out the lotion, but the damage had already been done.  It wasn't a migraine, but dear merciful heavens it does hurt a lot.

Then, as if all that wasn't enough, during the last two hours of the day, I was stuck there with three other people doing their overtime.  They were spread out across the room, and decided that they just had to talk to each other.  Without leaving their desks.  By yelling.  Loudly enough that it got through the music playing loudly in my headphones.  Loudly.
With a bad headache.  Friggin' shoot me.  Tomorrow will be more of the same, only Friday.  I'm so looking forward to it.

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August 15, 2017

Why A Duck: The Story Of An Obsession In Five Acts, Act II


As you may remember, in Act I of this tale Our Hero gained the first member of what would eventually become known as The Flock.  One would think that would be the beginning of a beautiful tale.  One would be incorrect.

Act II: The Duck Dark Ages
Things were not good.  Our Hero, yours truly, was in truly dire straits.  Two reasons for this.  The first was simple: he had been kicked out of grad school and his dream of being a professional lighting designer had just shattered.  The second reason was more existential: he had just failed at something important for the first time in his life.  Along the way, he'd managed to screw up just about everything you could think of, and a few more besides.  Thus, it should come as no surprise that Our Hero was mostly a seething ball of hate.  He had moved back to the Old Home Pond, with Momzerduck and Ph.Duck, and we should all feel a moment's pity for them at this time.  Our Hero was only barely human at this point, bitter and resentful of the world at large.  It's fortunate that he mostly stayed in his bedroom for the first few months, exiting only to go shopping for more cigarettes and alcohol.

And Scooter the Wonderduck was in a box in the closet, along with other things that didn't really fit in the bedroom.  Plus, unhappy bundles of evil didn't do rubber ducks.  They just don't.  Eventually, Our Hero got a job in the music department of BigBlueBoxRetailer, and got his radio gig back to boot.  After a year or so, he'd leave BBBR for the greener pastures of an independent comic book store that he'd been shopping at since he was young.  Another year passed and he'd quit that to become a telemarketer, then came a stint with RadioShanty.  It was around this time that Our Hero met The Librarian, which coincidentally led to a job with a mall-based bookstore chain that rhymed with Maldenrooks as a store manager.  This was 1999, and the future had begun to look somewhat exciting to Our Hero, but Scooter stayed in the box in the closet, forgotten.  In 2001, Our Hero moved out of the Old Home Pond to Pond Central.  One day that first week as unpacking occurred, Scooter saw the light of day again.  He immediately got a spot on the computer desk, alone but important.

Then things went right to hell again.  9/11 happened, the Maldenrooks home office announced that Our Hero's store was to be closed at the end of the year, and that all of the employees would be offered positions at the Boredoors on the other end of town.  As it turned out, all the employees but the manager.  During the worst economic downturn in 20 years.  For the next 18 months, Our Hero looked for work... and failed miserably.  While he didn't become a hermit, his life was spent applying for jobs and not getting one.

Then, one day, while he was out shopping for foodstuffs, he noticed something.  There, in the toy section of the children's aisle (right across from the shampoo and q-tips), was a rubber duckie... cute one, too.  A moment later, the duckie had been added to the shopping cart... Scooter the Wonderduck probably was lonely after all.  And thus did Scooter II: The Wrath of Khan become the second member of what would become known as The Flock.

There was no way for anybody to realize just how important that chance encounter was, nor what it would eventually lead to.

Next time: A New Hope and more.

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August 13, 2017

Name That Mystery Ship XXXIII

It's been seven months since the last Mystery Ship contest... which is better than a year, like the previous entry... so I think it's time once again!  Name this mystery ship:

As usual, no image searching.  I can't stop you from doing it, but you'll have to live with it on your conscience forever.  As is also usual, CTX and FDM are on the leash until I let 'em at it.  You get one guess, and one guess only, so make it count.  Winners are determined by me, my decision is final, so don't push it, 'k?  The winner gets his or her very own blog post on a topic of their choosing (exceptions: pr0n, politics, and religion).

This one might be easy, but we'll see.  Good luck!

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August 12, 2017

Random Anime Pictures #132: That Was Surprising

-New Game!, Ep02
We've all had one of those series... you expect nothing from it, and you get pleasantly surprised.  Well, New Game! is one of those.  "New girl starts working at small video game company, hijinks ensue" is not exactly either the most original concept, nor the most promising.  Yet for whatever reason, there's actually something good coming out of this.

The animation is nothing overly special, true, we've met all these characters before in dozens of other shows (not literally, but you know what I mean), and the plot is "main character perseveres and gets stronger".  It may be "New Game!" but it's really "Old Retread."  And yet, I'm amazed to discover that I LIKE this show... a lot.

It's got just the right balance of seriousness to humor (maybe 1:50, but it's there), and as of episode five there's not even a hint of acrimony between any of the characters.  These people are likable goofballs that are also professionals, putting in a ton of work and effort into making the newest entry in a video game series.  While we're not exactly witnessing people coding and boring stuff like that, we do get to peek behind the curtain, so to speak.  I'm sure it's dumbed down and not really like what we're seeing... it's anime, after all... but it's being handled better than anybody could have really expected.

That is not how you sword. 
The purple-haired one is the main character, and honestly she's kinda the worst part of the series.  She falls into the "earnest try-hard" camp, and is kind of annoying at times, at least to me.  Fortunately, she's surrounded by other, more interesting, characters at all times.

Let's see... from left to right we've got: Quiet Geek, Earnest Try-Hard, Clothes Horse, Genki Girl (all four of whom work in the same pod), The Legend (she's the original character creator for the video game series), and The Level-Headed One (the Art Director for the game).  The first three are artists for the game, Genki does motion work, and the other two... well, their jobs are obvious enough.  The two older women actually have depth to their characters, too.  The other four, eh, not so much.

There hasn't been any laugh-out-loud moments as of yet, but a good smile or chuckle is common enough.  None of this should be taken as me saying that this is a GOOD series that I wholeheartedly recommend, just an entertaining one.  Sometimes, that's enough.

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August 10, 2017

Good Pilots Just Land Planes

But the GREAT pilots land them with style!

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August 08, 2017

Speech-like Substance

Back in the days of enforced vacation, it was common for me to not leave my apartment for days at a time.  Indeed, at one point it reached 10 days, but that was because it was very very cold, and ducks hate cold.

However!  During those times, even in the worst of the periodic depressions I would go through, I would still talk.  Maybe an Amazon delivery would be delivered by the postal worker, or I'd get a phone call from Ph.Duck, or maybe, just maybe, a phone interview for a job.  In any case, words were a definite thing I'd do.

Which makes it entirely strange that I've literally not spoken a word since approximately 630pm Monday evening.  I went to work at my normal time, left ten hours later, and not one word was said.  Not because I was being unfriendly or anything like that... there just wasn't any reason to say anything.  Nobody directed conversation my direction, nor vice-versa, my next-door neighbor is sick so she hasn't been in this week, my boss who's always up for Cubs talk is on vacation a business trip, and during my lunch I went into the breakroom and promptly fell asleep for the whole thing.  

People used to find it amusing, but nowadays nary an eye is blinked.  But anyway, as I write this it's going on 30 hours without speaking, and the earliest I'll be in to work tomorrow will be 9am... well.  I dunno about you, but when I go a while without vocalizing, my voice comes out like a bag of gravel being dumped down an HVAC vent.  Should be interesting tomorrow.

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August 07, 2017

I Need A Nap Badly

So, in lieu of the latest entry in Operation RTPTIFG, I'm going to direct you to go read a post over at Midnight Tease about yuri manga.  I echo most of what he says.  And I'll just emphasize that Kase-san and... is good for what ails ya.  It's all in the expressions.

These are two people who really and truly like each other and like being with each other.  They act just like you'd expect people to act, more or less, and it's a joy to not have to deal with angst for once.

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August 06, 2017

On The 'L'

So a few nights ago I get a steam message from friend Ben from the mysteriously named Midnite Tease, who really needs to blog some more.  "I'm working on a modeling project," the aforementioned Ben says, "do you know anything interesting about Chicago's El?"  After sending him a few links that I knew of, I did a little bit of digging myself... just for the 'L' of it.

Yes, I'm sorry.  And yes, 'L' is the correct abbreviation, including the little quote marks.  Leastwise, that's how the CTA does it, and if anybody knows, it's them.  Anyway, since "anything interesting" covers a lot of ground, here's some cool pictures I've found along the way.

Diamonds Are Forever

Down in the Loop, Tower 18 is the control point for the confluence of five different routes, or "lines" as they're called in Chicago: the North-South running Brown and Purple lines, the East-West Pink and Green, and the Orange line, which runs to Midway Airport.  Railroad diamonds scare me... they seem like magic.  Solid tracks crossing each other without the trains derailing?  I don't see it.

We Can Build It!

1908, and what would eventually be called the 'L' has been in use in one form or another for nearly 20 years.  Mostly it was ground-level rail then, and it pretty much didn't go downtown at all due to obtuse trackage rights problems, but once those got figured out (i.e., enough bribes were passed around) some bright spark had the idea to not clog the streets.  So they called out the heavy machinery, which I really hope was called "The Spider", because c'mon look at it, and began building.  Chicago can really build things, y'know that?

Unscheduled Stop

February 4th, 1977.  Due to a routing problem and an engineer smoking weed on the job, one 'L' train bumped into the back of another at low speed.  The engineer, sitting at the other end of the train, continued to apply power until, inevitably, some of the cars jackknifed and derailed.  One of the special problems you get with elevated tracks is that when you get a derailment, it's generally a Very Bad Thing.  Two cars ended up on the ground, a third stopped only by a support, and a fourth (in the upper left-hand corner) dangling from the station at Randolph and Washington.  Two died, something like 177 were injured.  I vaguely remember this happening, as Momzerduck and I had only just moved from the Chicago area to Duckford.  It scared me as a young waterfowl... "trains that I rode on crashed!  It could have been me!"  I was a simple duck back then.  A different angle of the aftermath can be found here.

Art Or Something Like It

Sometimes utilitarian objects can be beautiful with the right lighting.  Adams and Wabash Station, butting right up against buildings on either side, looking north to one of Chicago's ubiquitous skyscrapers.  I'm sure it's ugly most of the time, but the photographer got it right here.

That's it.  Nothing special, just some cool photos.  Carry on.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:50 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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August 05, 2017

Random Anime Pictures #131: Hi! My Name Is...

Makoto Shinkai.  It wouldn't be overly controversial to say that he's the best known anime movie director not named "Miyazaki" today.  His films have all been successful, thought-provoking, and a little sad.  To a certain subset of people, though, the wild popularity is a little confusing.  His films have all been good, but have left me a little cold.  It may be a cultural thing, I don't know.  Except for "She and her Cat," that one worked with  me on almost every level.  One thing nobody will debate is that, going all the way back to his earliest works, Shinkai's films have been beautiful.

His newest film, Your Name (Kimi no na wa), pushes the bar even higher.  It's absolutely the best looking piece of animation of any type that I've ever seen.  I'm sure a lot of it has to do with progress in the use of CG, but my lord it's beautiful.

Even something as simple as a sliding door and the border of a tatami mat is given the full treatment... a simple, throwaway shot that lasts a second looks better than anything that's come before it.

And the story.  The story.  Holy crepe on a stick... but no matter how good it is, if you don't like the characters, the story doesn't work.  And, unlike the way Shinkai's earlier films sat with me, Your Name hits just all the right notes.  

I refuse to say any spoilers, not even about the plot.  If you haven't seen it already, go watch it immediately... and go in blind.  I intentionally avoided reviews and comment threads about it, and I'm very glad I did.  And you will be, too.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:33 PM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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August 03, 2017

Announcing: Operation RTPTIFG!

I miss The Pond.  I miss the way it was around here.  A vibrant group of readers that I collectively called "The Pond Scum."  Mildly clever writing about occasionally interesting subjects.  A laugh or two along the way.  Times were good, things were fun, and I had a blast.

...and then a series of things happened to derail the happytrain.  I got promoted at the Bookstore, which took up more of my time.  Then I got fired from the Bookstore which, while it gave me back all that time (and more!), sent me into a slide that ended up in a deep depression.  Then I was hired by a job where I spend all my time in front of a computer.  Then SDB passed away, something that hit me harder than I expected or realized.  The good times were gone.

Well, no more.

Today, I'm putting into motion Operation RTPTIFG (Restore The Pond To Its Former Glory).  Beginning this weekend, I am going to create time to write here at The Pond.  The plan is at least five days a week, there will be a new post.  Now, it may very well be a short thing, a Random Anime Picture or something of that sort, but there will be something.  I may not be able to regain all that has been lost... blogs in general appear to have faded, eatenby the twittermonster... but I'm sure as hell gonna try.

Together we can make The Pond great again!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 01:44 PM | Comments (14) | Add Comment
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