December 05, 2020
Is The World Ready For This? I've never played a Pokemon game. The only console I've ever owned was the Sears version of what later became known as the Atari 2600... nothing since. I've never bought a pack of Pokemon cards, either. I've only seen a couple episodes here or there of the animated series on Cartoon Network or somesuch. All of which is to say, I've got no background to speak of in the games or lore of one of the most successful entertainment franchises in history. I know a little bit, sure, but... well.
Which made it surprising that I actually watched most of this video:
Special surprise guest appearance by my hands-down favorite pokemon of all time to boot.
December 02, 2020
Surprise! Music! I had very few hopes when I clicked on a link about "science rock."
I was wrong. Very wrong.
Now that is a kickarse track, and apparently the "red string" is/was an actual thing created by Japan's National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences where a red silk containing oxytocin was really created. Wild!
It would be trite to say that this is many dozens of times better than any of the new Star Wars movies. Not incorrect, but trite.
Many years ago... over a decade... there was a free game called TrackMania Nations Forever that occupied much of my spare time. I got pretty good at it, too... I mean, not true World Record good, but on some of the tracks I could at least see the top of the leaderboard from where I was. But even though it no longer works on modern computers without a metric farkton of work... it's XP-based, for heaven's sake... I still remember the music. Fondly.
Okay. It's now time for the apparently government-mandated excursion into HoloLive. Pixy has been on a roll of late covering their antics. I've watched some streams... I'll be honest. The HoloLiveEN Vtubers don't do much for me, and I don't know anywhere near enough Japanese to get the original crew's videos. But the music is... something.
That was my first exposure in any way to HoloLive, and it's cute. Nice beat. But some of those voices are eardrum-shredding, dear god. I have to assume that having Pekora and "Miko Sakura", with their nasal, cutesy, falsetto-y, awful singing back to back was due to heavy bribery from the singer that came next... Towa Tokoyami.
Who sounds NOTHING like any of the other HoloLive crew. After hearing her in that whole-crew viddy, I went looking to see if she had anything solo. Oh yes. Yes she does.
Sold. That she can do justice to God Knows..., both live and "in-studio", is just the icing on the cake.
November 25, 2020
The Elephant In The Room Remember this?
I wrote about this sketch years ago, and it is still way up there as one of the funniest things I've ever seen. Something about Tim Conway's fnorky sound effect, but I always lose it at the monkey. I mention this because I stumbled upon something fascinating... to me, at least. An interview with Vicki Lawrence... Mama... about that sketch from her point of view.
Knowing the backstory makes it all the better to me.
In this time of plague, humor can go a long long way.
November 20, 2020
Late Night Final Again
I'm not convinced that J Wilgoose's Late Night Final persona isn't actually one of the guys from Daft Punk or Kraftwerk "slumming", as it were. Song picks up around the four-minute mark. Again, ambient isn't my cup of fish, but this isn't so bad at all.
I think I've seen the actual video before, running on an Amiga back in the day.
November 12, 2020
Ducks In Anime: Third Time's The Charm
-Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club, Ep02
I know I mentioned this in passing, but the third anime installment of the Love Live! franchise is currently airing. It feels like this one is going for something different, though... the "team" aspect of the previous two series seems to be missing somewhat. Also missing is any of the dramatic tension of the "save our school" storyline from the first two: there's no way Nijigasaki High is going to close, not with the obvious funding it has. I mean, it doesn't have holographic monitors at each desk... actually, I'm not sure it even has classrooms... but the United Center in Chicago, home of the Bulls, is smaller than the school's Club Wing.
Hell, there are entire towns smaller than the Club Wing. So when you remove the whole reason behind the first two Love Live! series to occur, what do you do now? To be completely honest about it, sell merchandise to anime fans. Best way to sell merchandise to anime fans? Cute girls.
Except this time, we have TEN instead of nine. I probably shouldn't be surprised that my favorite of the bunch, Yu... the one being leaned on... is the one member of the club that doesn't want to perform, choosing instead to be the manager. All of the girls have a color associated with them; Yu's is black. I gather she's taken the role of us, the player of the video game.
I'm not going to try and talk you into watching this show. By now, you know if you're a fan of Love Live!. If you are, you're probably already watching and you don't need me to tell you about it. If you aren't, there's nothing different here from the first two and you're not likely to suddenly become a fan. But it's got a rubber duckie in it, so that's okay with me.
What, you thought I'd leave it with just that arrow in the top picture?
November 05, 2020
FGO Players, It's Not Too Late!
You know in your heart it is true.
This concludes one of The Pond's very rare forays into political discussion.
November 03, 2020
Break Time! Things are a little crazy out there in the world. Sit back, relax, have a nice cup of beverage, and let's take a little train trip.
There. Don't you feel much better now? It's a fascinating little train line, some amazing sights and architecture on display. It's also very very cramped in spots... at one point the train comes upon a work crew which appears to be standing in people's back yards to get out of the way. The roadbed looks like it's exactly one one foot wider than the train in some parts of the line. And then there's the street section.
An enterprising model railroader could probably do this entire line in one swell foop.
EDIT: Ed's comment got me thinking. Despite my neurons being atrophied from lack of use, a connection was made and I went digging around in my yootoob links, and I found what I was looking for.
The Shonan monorail has its southern terminus at Enoshima. I had watched at least one video involving it, and I knew that it wasn't a Union station with the Enoshima Electric line... monorail requirements being distinctly different from electrified train lines. But did the videos intersect in any way? Sure enough, they do!
First, the monorail terminus is visible during the previously mentioned street section of the video above. If you pause the above video at the 22:53 mark (or follow this link), the monorail station is partially visible as an elevated white building with large windows at the end of the street, on the right. It's only visible for a second or two however. The train then rolls on to Stop EN6, the Enoshima station, coming to a halt at 23:47. It stays stopped for two minutes, finally rolling off at 24:51... pause the video at that point.
Oft mentioned videowalker Rambalac leaves the Shonan Monorail station at the 17:59 mark of this video. He then begins walking south from the Enoshimaguchi Exit until at 19:07 he's approaching a set of train tracks.. Pause the video at this point.
On Rambalac's video, on the right is a cream-colored building with garage doors, and a black latticework item directly in front of a bright-white sign. On the left is a green sign on the wall of a white building, that says "Enoden Goods Shop". Now bring up Aunz Railfan's video. Just visible on the left is a dark-colored sign on the wall of a white building. Straight ahead is a white building with garage doors, and a dark latticework thing with a bright white sign. Tah-dah! There's the intersection of two videos.
Here's the screencaps, Rambalac first, Aunz second, with the reference points circled:
Ain't gonna lie... it's totally pointless stuff, I know. But man, do I enjoy playing "pointless detective" on things like this. The little touch of joy when I confirmed the two crossed was probably an overreaction on my part, but it was still there.
October 31, 2020
Random Anime Pictures #149: A Witch On Halloween
-Maho no Tabitabi, Ep05
Every now and again you trip over a show that you had no expectations for... indeed, may not have even planned on watching... and discover you've got a gem on your hands. For me, Maho no Tabitabi, or "The Traveling Witch" in English translations, is one of those shows. As you can guess from the title, it's a story about Elaina, a newly-minted witch, and her travels around a world where magic is a thing, witches are respected, and life is interesting.
At this point you'd be excused if you thought "Oh, it's another one of Wonderduck's pleasant and nice slice-of-life shows, like Yuru Camp or ARIA or Flying Witch," and in a way you'd be right. It is a slice-of-life, and it is a pleasant and nice show. But it's got a little more behind it than just fluffy-happy-warm-and-fuzzy.
Topics this fluffy show has touched upon thus far include man-eating plants (and not the funny ones), suicide, slavery, regicide, and snobbery. Oh, and a dragon gets flat-out curbstomped. Taken as a whole, it's a relaxed series, but it's definitely not without its edgy side. It's that taste of darkness that makes it stand out from your standard laid-back fare.
Which is great, because when you combine all that with frankly beautiful animation, you get a really winning package indeed. All of which can be undone if you have a terrible main character of course. Fortunately Elaina is no perfect girl in whose mouth butter would not melt.. She's immensely talented... "the youngest to pass the magic tests, when she was 14"... and knows it. She's beautiful, and knows it. She's prideful, she's got a temper, and the ability to dispense violence is absolutely present.
She hasn't done it yet... maybe she won't ever do so in the series... but in the screenshot above she holds herself back only by the slimmest of margins. But while she's remarkably talented, she's also shown to be a hard worker, who doesn't just assume her talent is enough. There is effort to improve everywhere in the show thus far, even if it's just in interpersonal relations. But it's those little character flaws that have kept her interesting, and me coming back for more.
There is no traditional fanservice in the series. I mean, none. The author of the light novel series the show is based on made it perfectly clear that he wanted nothing of the sort to appear and the production team took that to heart. The above scene is the closest we've come thus far, and there's an appropriate shadow. I think this decision was a good one, honestly. The show doesn't really need it, any more than Yuru Camp or ARIA did. Is it as good as those series? Not yet, but there's still seven episodes to come. Not every show has to be a 10/10, and this one is better than most. That's good enough for me to recommend it.
And, y'know... happy halloween and all that jazz.
October 23, 2020
Minutes Of Calm Be like this.
We will all be better for it.
Edit: found mere minutes after the original post went up.
If yootoob is being yootoob again, see here the video here.
It is early in the morning, so I didn't really notice The Neat Part. Then I did, and I laughed.
I am a dreadfully simple duck.
October 18, 2020
Time Skip This past Thursday I went to bed very late... or early, depending on how you want to look at it. Like "five in the morning" late. There's an event coming up in Fate Grand Order that I'm not going to qualify for... you have to have cleared a story chapter that's quite a bit down the line from where I am... but for all of us that don't get to participate there's a nice bonus: 1/4 action point cost for all story chapter sections. So I've put my shoulder to the wheel, my smartphone to the grindstone and I'm making good progress on finishing up the first overall Part of the game. I'm very close to completing the Babylonia chapter after all of this... anyway, that's what I was doing up at 5am. When I did finally drag myself to bed, I slept very very hard.
So hard, in fact, that when I woke up the sun was going down, the light filtering in my window thin and gray. I could scarcely believe it... more than 12 hours asleep? I haven't done that in years... I must have woken up, used the loo, and come back to bed at least once, and more likely twice or three times, without me remembering! How very odd. Well, I needed to relieve some hydraulic pressure, so I crawled out of bed, casting a glance at the clock on my phone as I did.
Immediately I knew there was a problem... it must have glitched or something from all the hours of resource-hungry FGO from the night before because it clearly said "7:20". Around about 720pm it's full dark at Pond Central. Since the sun was still shining, though weakly, the phone must be two hours fast, like it's set to a timezone somewhere in the Atlantic, maybe Prince Edward Island. I had no idea how that might have occurred, but it clearly had.
Feeling very tired indeed for someone who had just slept for more than a dozen hours, I trundled my way to the computer and fired it up. Still groggy, I glanced at the system clock. 730. Oh come on, now my computer is wrong too??? What the hell is going on? It wasn't until I visited a weather page that said "Your Forecast for Friday Morning" on the masthead that I twigged to what was going on.
I hadn't slept 12+ hours. My clocks weren't mysteriously off by two hours. It really was 730 on Friday... 730am. The sun was going UP, not coming down. I had slept two hours. No wonder I still felt tired. I opened my e-mail... and promptly fell asleep in my chair. Waking up when the mouse threw itself at my leg... no way I pulled it off the desk when I fell into slumberland and my arm went limp... I decided to go back to bed. Probably for the best.
I've never quite had that happen to me before, certainly not for as long as it lasted and as convinced as I was. Even now, I feel a little like it's a half-day earlier than it should be.
October 07, 2020
A Wonderful Late Night Final Hope The other day I was lamenting the loss of my entire digital music collection after the death of my external hard drive... and suddenly realizing just how useful a CD/DVD drive would be right about now... when I got to wondering what some favorite bands are up to. The answer, as it is for so many of us lately, is "not much."
I mean, Joe Jackson updated his website for the first time in about a year the other day, so that was nice, but other than that? There's a new anime entry in the Love Live! franchise, the first episode of which aired last week. I was amused to see that the game's player character analogue in the anime is named "Yu." And then...
...I stopped. Do I even have any other 'favorite bands' anymore? Random songs, sure, but a whole artist? All of the names I came up with were dead or '80s bands. Or both. Almost frantically I cast about my computer desk, looking for someone else to call a "favorite". Foo Fighters? David Gilmour? How in the world did Selena Gomez get... nevermind. Finally, finally, I realized who I'd forgotten.
Public Service Broadcasting. Just how they managed to slip my mind is a study in the effects of isolation, but at least I remembered them, hey? So what are they up to?
Nothing. The band members are holed up and hunkered down just like the rest of us, but apparently their instruments and equipment is in another country altogether. I assume it never made it back from a tour when the Most Recent Great Unpleasantness set in. However, Artists gonna art, and Musicians gonna music. J Wilgoose Esq, the tweed jacket behind PSB, falls into that vein. Reportedly he threw together a motley assortment of old synths and other odds and ends and said "hey kids, let's put on a show."
Except there weren't any kids, and you still can't have shows due to the plague. So instead, he did the next best thing: a side project. It hasn't been released, but there's been a song revealed. Here's the viddy.
LATE NIGHT FINAL - A Wonderful Hope
Before you start, please realize that this is not your standard PSB fare. No historical news samples, no movie snippets, and a lot of what I call "ambient". This is important for the main reason that I generally dislike ambient music... if you drop the "t", that's the effect it usually has on me. Fortunately, while it starts out like that, it doesn't STAY ambient. It's not anybody's idea of dance music or stuff, but it's not a bad listen at all.
I guess the actual album/EP/whatever is coming out sometime in November. A nice little holiday present, eh?
September 30, 2020
Ducks In Anime: Duck And Pandahamster II Some time ago, I wrote about a wonderful little trifle from the geniuses over at Kyoto Animation entitled Baja no Studio. Sadly, I first saw this delightful story about a hamster-blob-thing and his toy duck friend shortly after the terrible arson that consumed KyoAni's Studio 1 that killed 36... including the director of Baja no Studio. As it's set in an anime production building that was based on Studio 1, it was doubly hard to watch.
Earlier this month, Baja no Studio: Baja no Mita Umi (Baja and the Sea) was available for streaming for a limited time... and now it's available at all the usual places one can hoist the black flag!
...and it's just as incredibly cute as the first one. This time, Baja and Quacky are told by Magical Girl Coco about "the sea", and magically takes them there. It's as insanely beautiful as anything KyoAni has ever done.
Yes, that's them on top of the water sphere. It looks even better in motion. Anyway, all is right with the world until the baddy, the evil Dr Doom wannabe Gi shows up and literally pulls the plug on the whole thing. Whirlpools ensue.
The show then becomes about Gi trying to turn poor Baja into his evil minion by... mistreating Quacky. The utter cad.
Quacky does try to fight back, however, like any brave duck should.
But is soon banished to a stormy sea, leaving Baja all alone. It's a heartbreaking moment, and I won't reveal how the situation is fixed, but rest assured all is right with the world by the end. Because that's the way it should be when a duckie is involved.
I'm not going to go tell you to watch it right away. I'm going to tell you to save it for a day you're feeling down. I won't claim to say it'll make everything great, but for 25 minutes or so, you'll feel better. Because that's what duckies do.
September 21, 2020
Submitted Without Comment
EDIT the next day:
September 14, 2020
Before Civilization. A few weeks back, I was chatting with Ben from MidniteTease about pretty much nothing in particular when the discussion turned, as such discussions between two relatively healthy red-blooded American males often do, to the topic of videogames.
Why, what did you think I was going to say?
Anyway, Ben is currently learning how to create mods for Fallout 3. Considering that I can use my computer to open e-mail, this amazes me to no end. He had said something about making Deathclaws wear party hats... I think? I might have that wrong. Anyway. He's doing that, and I'm still playing Fate Grand Order. Still have yet to miss a log-in from when I began around the New Year, in fact. I've gone from being a total clueless n00b in the game to being a total clueless vet at the game with a roster that's strong enough to carry my lame tucus to victory.
No, no, what I meant to say is that I've actually learned how to play, how to use the mechanics to my advantage, all that sort of thing. I've spent hours reading and watching videos on the thing, and without a doubt my favorite part of the game is... a daily webcomic that gets posted on Reddit. I've linked to Rednal's imgur album so you can read it if you want. It just put up its 500th consecutive comic a few days ago, and also finally gave it a name.
However. FGO is not the only thing I've been playing of late. God help me, I've begun playing Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy. As the creator of the game says, "I created this game for a certain type of person. To hurt them." I don't know if I'm the certain type of person mentioned, but it does hurt. So very much.
But during that conversation with Ben, somehow we veered off topic briefly to floppy disks. No, I don't know either. But as we chatted via text, I went looking through a box of old Sony disks I have here... from my RadioShanty days, no less. Over 20 years old, in other words. Poorly labeled if at all, they just sat there with no way for me to access them. And there, at the back of the box, was something that honestly took my breath away for a moment. Or maybe it was the hot sauce on the burrito, one of the two. Lets go with the thing in the disk box, shall we?
1987. I had a 286 around about that time. I couldn't tell you how much RAM it had... probably 640kb. I'm pretty sure I bought this when I was in grad school, though. 1991, then. Either way, holy crap. You've maybe played the remake that came out in 2004 which is available on Steam, and it's really quite a faithful "cover" version. But just think about this for a moment. When Sid Meier made this game, he was still four years away from the release of Civilization.
That means it was literally "before civilization." And, for all you kids out there, yes, it's before your knowledge too. You never experienced floppys.
This is very nearly archaeology, certainly in computer terms. How weird it is to say that. Anyway. Thought you might be interested. If not, eh, sorry to waste your time. If you were, great, happy to waste your time!
September 04, 2020
All Of Them, Really. You may remember a while ago, I was lamenting over the length of my hair and how badly it needed to be cut. Of course, with the Plague-19 going on getting out to a place of haircutting was difficult if not potentially fatal. This left me with two options: let it grow or cut it myself. For a while, I continued to let it grow... and grow... and grow...
But then came the issues. First, it was having to clean my hairbrush every few days. Then it was my bathtub drain clogging almost bi-weekly. Then it was random hair in my metaphorical (and sometimes literal) soup. But the real tipping point was being woken up by a literal mouthful of hair. It had gotten so long that what would have been a ponytail had I tied it was migrating to cover my face during the night. This could not stand, and so I made the decision... I had to do the deed.
Being nearly as impulsive as a block of concrete, I had to make sure I wasn't going to mess up. I have a very nice Remington beard trimmer...
No, not that Remington. At least, I don't think it's the same company. If it is, that's the weirdest case of business diversity I can think of. Anyway, beard trimmer. It's quite good for an entry-level model and it lets me remove my beard in about a fifth of the time it takes me to shave. Even better, I've had it long enough now that its now saving me money on the cost of razor blades! Win win all around! However, please notice the name: beard trimmer. I had no idea how well it'd do when it came to the overgrown field that was my hair. Its blade is less than one-and-a-half inches wide, and my head is much larger than that. Further, I didn't want to shave it all off, and the trimmer did have a guide that'd keep it an inch over my head. That'd still be short, but not oh-my-god-what-did-you-do short. So, I practiced.
Right in front, dead-center of my hairline.
Because where else would you practice when the possibility exists that screwing up would make you look incredibly stupid and would be obvious to everybody that looked at you? Then I doubled down on the stupid by not cutting flat, but at an angle so the resulting length was actually quite a bit less than 1" tall.
Yeah, about like that. Fer the luvva crepe. Before I continued, I did the one smart thing I'd done since the decision to shear myself had been made: I hopped onto the Chicago Cubs website and ordered myself a new Cubs ballcap. Because your hair can't look stupid if nobody can see it! That accomplished, I went back and got to work.
It's more exciting if you imagine a hair-cutting sequence occuring with this playing in the background. No seriously, imagine scenes of long hair dropping to the floor, close-ups of the trimmer blade deforesting whole rainforests of red, all in dramatic cinematic dramaticness. You picturing that? Pretty cool, isn't it? Heck yeah it is.
That's not what it was like. Instead it was me trying to get my hair to just all be the same height and failing miserably. For the next three days, every time I was in the bathroom, I'd see another patch that was clearly too long and work at it some more. Eventually I just set the trimmer to the very lowest height that wasn't blade-on-skin and said screw it. I'll be honest, it wasn't a good look for me. I didn't quite look like the sort of big dumb muscle you expect to see in a bad crime movie, but it was pretty close. It's been a couple of weeks now, and while it's still very very short... I can brush my hair just as well with my hand as I can an actual brush, and drying it after a shower takes about two rubs of a towel... it's not as horrible as it was. At least now you can tell I have actual hair.
Better than choking on it every morning, I'll tell you what.
August 31, 2020
Thanksgiving Coming A Day Early This Year In one of the bigger out-of-nowhere announcements I've heard in the anime/manga world, Kadokawa and Nagaru Tanigawa released a statement revealing that Light Novel #12, The Intuition of Haruhi Suzumiya, is being released on November 25. Note that this will be #11 in the States, as the last two Japanese novels were combined into one here. In Japan, it's been nine years since the last release.
Providing us with more evidence that Yen Press loves us and wishes us to be happy, they put out a tweet stating that they'll be releasing the digital version in English simultaneously. And, because that simply wasn't enough good news they're intending to reprint all of the light novels in physical form as well. Which is great, because old copies are selling online for stupidly high prices. It's not unusual to see the full US sets of 10 books selling for over $500.
Which is, of course, patently absurd.
I am greatly amused by the timing of the announcement here in the States... August 31st is, after all, the last day of the Endless Eight time loops.
August 20, 2020
August 17th, Today, Is The Day The Time Loops Of Endless 8 Start.
Just thinking you might like to know.
August 19, 2020
Today, August 17th, Is The Day The Time Loops Of Endless Eight Start.
I thought you would like to know.
August 18, 2020
Today, August 17th, Is The Day The Time Loops Of Endless 8 Start.
Just thought you'd like to know.
August 17, 2020
15532 To Go
Today, August 17th, is the day the time loops of Endless 8 start. Just thought you'd like to know!
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