February 08, 2021
Winter 2021: Don't Tell Me It's Awful! There's always somebody out there. "There's nothing to watch," they'd moan and kvetch. "It was better before this." Any maybe those people are correct. But not this anime season, they aren't. Here's a look at what I think is a remarkable Winter!
It's a winter of their discount tents...
January 25, 2021
Random Anime Pictures #150: Because I'm Too Tired To Do A Real Post.
-Fate Grand Carnival New Year's Eve Special
Remember Fate Carnival Phantasm from about a decade ago? There's a new OVA series coming based on Fate Grand Order, the game. This time, I might get all the jokes!
January 15, 2021
How I'm Feeling These Days Kinda like this.
Yep, that about covers it.
(they're Austro-Hungarian sailors in anti-flash/fire protection hoods, sometime during WWI)
January 06, 2021
Strongbad Predicted This 17 Years Ago
Dancing Robots! Dancing Robots!
I like does little guyz.
January 04, 2021
This Is Formula 1 And Stuff Okay, it's not exactly news that I'm pretty torqued off at Formula 1 these days. I didn't even watch a race this season, though I still more-or-less paid attention. No surprises, Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes dominated (again). Hamilton got his record-breaking 95th win on the way to his record-tying seventh driver's championship. Mercedes got their seventh consecutive constructor's championship. Along the way, Hammy did all his usual whining, complaining, and moaning during the races.
Nothing has changed, in other words. I'm hardly the first person to notice this of course. Which explains how this video came about.
Perfection. Sheer, utter perfection.
Edit: Oh, this guy is good. This guy is very good. Check out his channel, it's full of gems.
December 31, 2020
New Year's Eve, 2020 I got nuthin'. I don't even have the annual fireworks picture, thanks to losing it in the failure of my external storage drive. So here's an old one instead.
I just saw what I typed last year on this date:
"2019 was not a good year. May 2020 be better for all the Pond Scum. Thank you for sticking with me."
Wow. Good to see the future listens to me, huh? Happy New Year, everybody.
December 29, 2020
"Your Train Looks Like..." Over in some other part of the internet, a discussion of the KiHA 281 DMU was occurring. Used by JR Hokkaido on their Super Hokuto routes, they've been around since 1994. Someone described them as looking like something the baddies in HalfLife2 would use, and it's hard to disagree. A comment was made saying that they looked like the trains used on the Narita Express.
I knew it was the other way around, the E259 N'EX EMU didn't take to the rails until 2010, but I was wondering if there was any link between them... the same designer, that sort of thing. Certainly there had to be something, that's hardly a look that immediately pops to mind when you think "train". Much to my chagrin and annoyance, an hour or so of looking turned up nothing at all... except for one fascinating little factoid. The man who designed the N'EX? He also designed the Kikkoman's bottle!
I can see it. I mean, they both tilt and all...
December 25, 2020
Christmas 2020 It's cold out there, young ladies. You should really put more clothes on.
I'm sorry, I don't know where that came from either. Hope everybody had a Merry Christmas, or a pleasant Friday, or whatever you wanted it to be.
December 20, 2020
No, No Thanks, That's Okay... As found in one of those ridiculous Sharper Image-style catalogues:
Was the marketing department totally unaware, or was this intentional? Could they really not have known? If you'd be able to own one of these without saying things like "Pass the smegpot" or "could you make a fresh pot of smeg" all the time, you're a better person than me.
I'm uneasy about the butter on the toast now. Does that look like... um... butter... to you?
"Merry Christmas! I got you some Smeg!"
December 10, 2020
When You Consider The Future... Late Night Final released their third track just a couple of hours ago... and it's very much a banger. I mean, as far as ambient-ish music can ever be described as "a banger."
The four-song EP releases on Friday, December 11th and can be pre-ordered here!
I am pleased by this present from the music gods.
December 08, 2020
Chuck Yeager 1923-2020
There are stories.
Then there are tales.
Then there is "No sh*t, there I was, one engine gone, the other on fire..."
Then there are legends.
And then there was Chuck Yeager.
Go fast and Godspeed.
...and, before anybody asks? I made my mind up about that a long time ago: not just no, but heck no.
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.
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