January 24, 2015

Random Anime Picture #91: I Don't Need A Reason...

...to post something from ARIA, now do I?

-ARIA the Origination, Ep01
It's quite amazing, the emotions this show causes.  Just hearing a few seconds of the opening themes can cause tears to well in my eyes.  That's powerful stuff.

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January 23, 2015

RIP Ernie Banks

The man known as "Mr Cub", Ernie Banks, passed away this evening.  He was just short of his 84th birthday.

He joined the Cubs in 1953, becoming the team's first black player.  He played every game of his career with the Northsiders, over 2500 and hitting 512 home runs along the way.  He was the first National League player to win back-to-back MVP awards, 1958 and 1959.  He retired in 1971, and was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1977.

I met Ernie Banks once.  No, that makes it sound like it was more intimate than it really was.  I attended a Cubs game and he was riding a golf cart up one of the ramps in the stadium, obviously headed for a luxury box or the broadcasting area or whatever.  As he approached, I waved and said "Good day, Ernie?"  The permanent smile on his face got even larger than normal and he said "Great day!" and high-fived me as he rode by.  From all reports, that wasn't artifice.  For Ernie Banks, every day was a great day.  Cub fans, and baseball fans everywhere, have lost a paragon of the sport.  The world is a lesser place without him in it.

Let's play two.

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Kantai Collection Ep03

Last week, we had a training montage.  Fubuki The Clumsy needed to improve, and fast, before she got kicked out of the fleet.  This was, of course, done, because it's not that sort of show, right?  Also, a fight was brewing to boot... exciting times ahead!  Heck, why wait?  Let's get on with the show!

We begin this brand new episode with...

...a flashback to "a few days ago," aka "the end of last episode."  Nagato has just informed the light cruisers of Torpedo Squadron Three that they and their destroyers will form the basis of the first offensive against the Abyssals.  I'd just like to point out that this scene is just seiyuu Ayane Sakura having a four-way conversation with herself.  She actually does the voices for eight of the shipgirls, and you'd better believe I'm looking forward to that scene.  Jump back to now, and it's time for the mission briefing...

...where Mutsuki discovers that her older sister Kisaragi will be in on the mission as well.  Yay for family!  Also, yay for delays in construction!  Mutsuki is/was actually the name-ship for her class of destroyers, but Kisaragi was completed before her sister.  Eh, stuff happens.

Cutest collection of warships ever!  Good lord, they'll adorable the Abyssals to death.  What we've got here is Torpedo Squadron Four, joining The Fellowship for this operation.  Briefly, the plan is for The Fellowship to sneak in and attack W Island...

...shown here and please pay no attention whatsoever to the resemblance to Wake Island.  Merely coincidental, that.  Anyway, The Fellowship is to sneak in and attack Wake W Island at night, cause as much mayhem as they can and then withdraw, bringing the Abyssal ships known to be stationed there out after them.  Then Torpedo Squadron Four will ambush the Abyssals, The Fellowship will turn around, and the massacre will be total and complete.  There's no risk of being detected ahead of time, so all is right with the world.  It'll be a piece of cake!


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January 21, 2015

Getting Away With It

In the final year of the 1980s, two of the biggest bands in Britain if not the world were imploding. 

The Smiths were a band that sounded like their songwriters were constantly on the edge of jumping off the highest building in Manchester.  This resonated with listeners and critics both, and they were hailed as "the most influential British guitar group of the decade."  They eschewed the keyboard and synth excesses of the time, instead concentrating on an echo-and-minor-key guitar-based sound.  Despite independent success unlike any seen before, the band split in 1987 from internal pressures.

New Order was formed from tragedy.  When the lead singer of Manchester-based "post-punk" band Joy Division hanged himself on the verge of the band's first North American tour in 1980, the survivors reformed as New Order.  Throughout the '80s, the band mixed what we'd call "alternative music" now and electronic dance music to create a critically acclaimed and influential sound that left major fingerprints on modern techno.  However, the various members all had audio interests that wouldn't fit the band's style.  Side projects were common, with a resulting loss of time for the main group.  Stumbling to the end, New Order broke up in 1993.

But in 1989, lead singer Bernard Sumner was wanting to add more synth programming to New Order, and was rebuffed.  He took to the recording studio alone, intending to make an "anonymous" album of whatever he felt like, but came to a discovery early on: he hated working alone.  Picking up the telephone, Sumner called Johnny Marr, the ex-guitarist of The Smiths, and asked for his input.  The two created a track, entitled "Lucky Bag", all loops and electronic drumkits, and called themselves Electronic.  If it had stopped there, Electronic would have been an interesting non-entity, a footnote in music history if that.  But of course it didn't... I wouldn't be writing about it if it had, right?


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January 19, 2015

Got Somethings To Do

I've got some pictures to take, and I've got a videogame I want to play.  So, here's some cheesecake to keep you entertained until I'm done with that.

I've always spoken highly of cheesecake.  A nice graham-cracker crust is what makes it.

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January 17, 2015

Kantai Collection Ep02

After having been hiding from the weather for the past couple of weeks, I ventured forth into the frozen wastes of Northern Illinois this evening for a lovely dinner with The Librarian.  I mention this for no other reason than to make an interesting bit of filler for this, the top paragraph of the Second Episode writeup for Kantai CollectionIn the first episode, we met half of the entire Imperial Japanese Navy and none of you, my readers, seemed to notice that I used the opening monologue from the movie Pacific Rim to describe the background the anime presented us with.  That made me sad.  I only had to change two words, to boot.  Perhaps I'm not as clever as I thought I was.  In any case, that was then.  This is now, and I'm probably even less clever just from the ongoing march of time killing off brain cells.  Hopefully not measurably so, but how would I know?  I leave that as an exercise for the reader.  Maybe one of you will tell me, but I can understand if you don't... after all, it might be more entertaining that way!  "Hurr durr... stupid hair girl stabs dead guy with pointed stick."  And I've just gotten distracted fixing a youtube link at that episodic recap and now I've got the soundtrack of Les Miserables going through my head and I'm going to give up for now and pick this up later.  Okay, it's later now, let's get this show on the road!  Raise anchor, all ahead flank speed.  Damn the torpedoes!

It is not late, it is very early.  The sun is not up.  Nary a shipgirl is stirring.  But yet, here is Our Heroine, Fubuki, out doing physical training.  You've gotta put in the effort if you wanna be the best around.  Nothing's gonna ever keep you down.

Except for having all the agility of a giraffe wearing ice skates, that is.  That and not being able to hit the broad side of a barn from the inside might have something to say about it.  Which would make for an interesting show, I've gotta say.  Everybody else goes to war, while Our Heroine stays behind.  She has to deal with being useless, particularly when the other ships come back damaged... or don't come back at all.  She'd feel completely worthless.  Then, as the Abyssals make one final push to smash the fleet, she'd be sent out, along with whatever shipgirls were left in desperation.  Finally, she'd have her chance to make a difference... to be a hero!  And then she falls over, takes a few crippling blows, and is forced to watch helplessly as her friends, her home, and her hopes are destroyed in front of her eyes.

The end.


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January 15, 2015

Spin! Spin!

I'm not feeling all that swell.  While I slowly work on the Kantai Collection Ep02 writeup, here's something that should put a smile on anybody's face... CORGISPINNING!

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January 13, 2015

Hmm. Uh-huh. Welp, That's It For Tonight.

I've been sitting here, staring at the blank "new post" screen for nearly 10 minutes, trying to figure out what I want to write about... and failing.  Actually, it's not that I don't have anything to write about; I can always do a First Episode Writeup, or something along those lines.  The so-called problem is that I want to post something tonight, not something that's going to take a long time to do... particularly with Ep02 of KanColle airing on Wednesday: that takes priority on the writeup front.

So, since I'm just going back and forth between nothing and nada, here's an appropriate picture.

How are you?

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January 11, 2015

That's... Something.

On Saturday, January 3rd, I had a late lunch with Ph.Duck, then went to the store to lay in some foodstocks.  I knew the weather was going to be taking a turn for the ugly, so I wanted to make sure I'd have enough supplies for it.  It began to snow that evening, and continued off and on through Sunday night.  Once it stopped, the skies cleared, the temperatures plummeted and the winds began to pick up.  Indeed, there was a winter weather advisory due to blowing and drifting snow on Monday, and the temps continued to fall on Tuesday.  Wednesday, we were forecasted to have a high of -3°F and windchills around negative forty.  It never actually got that warm.  Thursday was much the same, just with higher winds.  Friday, it made it above zero for the first time since midday Tuesday... not by much, and the winds still made it feel ridiculously cold, but yay for positive numbers!  Saturday, January 10th, it snowed some more, but the thermometer came close to 20... but high winds still made it feel stupidly cold.

Today, we might have just hit the freezing point, with light winds... and for the first time since January 3rd, I left my apartment. 

I got the snow off the Duckmobile, made sure it started after a week of ickycold (it did), then went back inside, where it was warm and comfy.  In some ways, it disturbs me that I was able to hermitize myself with so little fuss.  There were a few days where I didn't say a single word except for the traditional "Goodnight, duckie" to Lucky Duck, the little plush duckie that I was given in the hospital by Momzerduck.  He watches over me as I sleep to make sure I'm okay, and it's the least I can do to bid him goodnight.  But that's all I said.  No human contact beyond the internet, which is arguable, and sports talk radio, which has little to do with humanity.  I'll have to go out this week... I desperately need to do laundry, and I'm out of edible tastyyums... but I find myself reluctant to do so.  People, y'know?

Or perhaps you don't.  Good call.  I'm an outsider... you probably shouldn't be like me.

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January 10, 2015

Kantai Collection Ep01

Wow, here's a shock, I'll be doing episodic writeups for Kantai Collection!  Sure, I've said I'd be doing them, but I'm really, really doing it!  As has been previously stated, it's not like this show is perfect for me or anything... the spirits of Japanese naval vessels from World War II reborn into the bodies of young women.  Throw in a rubber duck and a F1 car and we'll effectively have all of my serious hobbies all in one place.  And then The Pond will collapse in upon itself, forming a black hole of blog; all writing therein will be self-referential... nothing from the outside will intrude, nothing from the inside will interest.  So, kinda like MySpace, then.  Of course, that almost certainly won't happen... why would a F1 car show up in this show?  I've said it many times before, however: if an episode of anime contains both a rubber duck and a F1 car, The Pond will shut down.  If the duck is driving the car, I'll close it right then and there.  If they're in the same episode, I'll finish the series.  Somewhere, one of my readers is on the phone to SHAFT, trying to make this happen.   And I don't blame them, really.  I'm actually a little excited about the possibility: it's not like most blogs have a defined and announced endpoint.  Brickmuppet isn't going to close his when he graduates from college.  Ben's not going to close his when the Texas Rangers win something.  Steven isn't going to close his when the ducks invade.  But if one animator out there that was on the production staff of Rio Rainbow Gate! is still holding a grudge, he has the power to end me.  That's kinda fun to think about.  Know what else is fun to think about?  Kantai Collection!  Let's have me stop bloviating and get right to the recappin'!

When I was a kid, whenever I'd feel small or lonely, I'd look up at the stars... wondered if there was life up there.  Turns out I was looking in the wrong direction.  When alien life entered our world, it was from deep beneath the Pacific ocean. 

A fissure between two tectonic plates.  A portal between dimensions.  The Breach.  I was 15 when the first Abyssals made land in San Francisco.  By the time ships, jets and tanks took it down six days and thirty-five miles later, three cities were destroyed.  

Tens of thousands of lives were lost.  We mourned our dead, memorialized the attack, and moved on.  And then, only six months later, the second attack hit Manila.  And then the third one hit Cabo.  And then the fourth, and then we learned that this was not going to stop.  This was just the beginning. 

We needed a new weapon.  The world came together, pooling its resources, throwing aside old rivalries for the sake of the greater good.  To fight monsters, we created monsters of our own.  The Fleetgirls program was born.

Oh boy.


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January 07, 2015

KanColle Ep01 First Reaction

Oh my, yes.

Dai Ichi Koku Sentai, at your service.
Very yes.  MUCH yes.  Yes, yes, yes.

That was the most fun I've had watching an episode of anime in quite a while.  Well, duh, it's not like it wasn't made for me: the spirits of WWII-era Japanese warships reincarnated into girls with special powers?  Now I know how tank fans felt about Girls und Panzer.

Except there's one thing that bothers me.  Akagi and Kaga wear their flight decks on opposite arms, and correctly so.  Except the Akagi had her island to port, Kaga to starboard. 

In Kancolle, the game, the artbooks, the plush figures, and now the anime, they wear the flight decks on the opposite arms.  I guess that puts their heads on the correct sides, but it still puts my teeth on edge.

I understand that there's plenty of time for this to go completely belly-up, but at least for one episode, boy, that was awesome!

Now, to work on my schemes and plans...

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No Kancolle Spoilers

Okay, just in case anybody has the bright idea of discussing the first episode of Kancolle here before I post about it?

I WILL ban you, I will ban your family, I will ban everybody you have ever loved.  I will ban your pets, your next-door neighbor, and your postal worker.  That nice person who always waves at you?  Banned, and I will laugh about it. 

Even joke comments about it will bring about a ban.  Do NOT try me on this one.

We cool?  Cool.  And thank you in advance for your understanding.

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January 06, 2015

Oh Yeah... Winter!

So I just got a text message and a phone call from Duck U, telling me that they'll be closed on Wednesday.  Seems like I forgot to get myself removed from the emergency contact line.  Anyway, they're going to be closed tomorrow because of the high of -3°F with windchills of -40°F.

I just checked, and the same thing happened on the same date last year.  Huh.  It gets cold in January, go figure.

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January 05, 2015

Random Anime Picture #90: Tess And Strension

-Yokohama Shopping Trip: Quiet Country Cafe, Ep01
I needed me some of that something awful.

-Yokohama Shopping Trip: Quiet Country Cafe, Ep02
That too. 

Alpha's got it right.

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January 04, 2015

First Episode Writeup #4

I find that I'm enjoying these one episode writeups!  There's no long-term commitment involved, I'm not devoting myself to watching the entire series, I can pull out every joke I can think of and use 'em all at once, it's great!  Even better, if I miss a plot point or something, it doesn't matter!  For example, in my very first series writeup (Ga-Rei Zero) I completely missed the significance of the blue butterflies and the gray-haired prettyboy in the first episode... who knew he'd be the Big Bad?  As an aside, after re-reading that series of writeups, I should go redo them in my improved style... hm.  Food for thought.  Anyway.  We're not here to discuss that series, we're here to discuss a new First Episode Writeup!  What poor show gets the patented Wonderduck treatment this time around?

People call them brother and sister.  Sure, there's a 20 year age gap between them, at least, but that's not too strange, right?  Right?  Neither is the glowing way she looks at him, like the look an adoring golden retriever gives her master, that's not weird for a little girl at all.  What IS weird is the perspective on this shot, which makes it look like the two of them are walking in front of a projection of the City of Townsville town below.  Never mind the viola case she's holding... yes, I said "viola."  Not violin.  Viola.  Because the viola doesn't get enough love in this world, it's such a mellow sounding instrument, not all squeaky and screamy like the violin.  If it turns out to be a violin she's carrying, so be it.  Until that time however, it's a viola because this is my writeup, darnit.  Meanwhile, in another part of the anime...

...a graphics glitch has rendered another young girl's shotgun useless.  So many things in that sentence I never thought I would ever type.  For such a great looking show and trust me, it is though we haven't quite gotten to that part yet, that's a fairly egregious mistake... particularly because it occurs twice.

It turns out that the young girl, who is named Triela, is paired with an older man as well, named Hilshire.  They seem to be part of some sort of paramilitary/police special forces unit, and their target wasn't there... which means it's at the other target.  A target that...

...is being watched by yet another heavily armed young girl/older man combo.  Her name is Rico, which seems like a fairly unlikely name for a girl.  His name is Jean, which means that the two of them should probably switch names.  There's also a lot of regular agents standing around looking inconspicuous.  Inside a nondescript apartment in the building being cased...

...a bunch of malcontents and neer-do-wells are gathered.  They've just received word that their other safehouse has been hit, which rendered it not so safe.  Oh, and the informant said that young girl did most of the damage.  The man on the right rolls his eyes and looks dubious at this news.  And rightfully so... little girls being used as assassins?  Preposterous!  What are they gonna do, hit us with Hello Kitty and My Little Pony plushies?  The doorbell rings and someone we will call Skippy goes to see who's there, chuckling under his breath: "Hello Kitty plushies."



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January 03, 2015

Yes You Can

While I'm putting the finishing touches on the fourth "First Episode Writeup", I want to address something that our friend Steven said a couple o' days ago.  To whit: "You can't go wrong with red half-rim glasses."

Steven, Steven, Steven... oh, my friend, have you forgotten?  THIS IS ANIME!  Saying things like that are like poking a duck-billed platypus with a stick... everything is fine until it leaps at your face, wraps its front legs around your head, then jams its ovipositor down your throat while it rips at you with the spurs in its hind legs, spurs that are coated with a strong neurotoxin that'll leave you in agony for months, during which time its alien babies dig their way slowly out of your body via the soles of your feet.

Here, let me show you what I mean.

-My Neighbor Seki-kun, Ep 19
Is that going into your collection, Steven?  IS IT???  Why do you make me do these things, man, why???


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January 01, 2015

New Year's Day 2015

Have I missed anything yet?

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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.


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