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!
August 16, 2020
Derecho's Trumpet Over at college graduate Brickmuppet's place, he tells a tale of a disappointed tastebuds as he recently had to deal with a cheeseburger made with cheez wiz. His disgust is entirely understandable. A mouthful of such a monstrosity when one is expecting a wonderful beef patty with ketchup, mustard, a small amount of relish, and a delightful amount of proud midwestern-made cheese, would be a horrible experience, akin to expecting a Chicago-style Hot Dog and discovering it topped instead with ketchup and raw wheatgrass.
This tale is bad enough, but he then goes on to mention something about a derecho that brought hurricane-force winds through Iowa, Southern Wisconsin, and the entirety of Illinois last Monday. The National Weather Service defines a Derecho as "a well-organized and long-lived complex of storms producing a family of particularly damaging downbursts." Tornadoes are a thing involved with these massive storm fronts, and indeed, two were involved in the Rockford area when the beast rolled through around 3pm.
I've helpfully placed an arrow pointing at the rough location of Duckford and Pond Central. The NWS did a great job with this thing, as they began warning those of us in the path of the storm that we were in for a spot of bother around 9am. A couple of hours later, they issued something I had never seen before: a "Particularly Dangerous Situation Severe Thunderstorm Watch". I had slept in that day, having been up very late playing Fate Grand Order.
It wasn't until 130pm or so that I finally noticed the frantic reports coming from the NWS and the decidedly less-frantic heads-up coming from the best weather team in the area, the good folks over at WREX, the local NBC affiliate. It was that rather calm unconcerned nature from them that fooled me into thinking this wasn't going to be a big deal, just another thunderstorm, ho-hum. This is odd, as they are usually quite good about getting their point across when it's going to be a bad one. Well, it didn't take much longer before my complacency was blown out of the water... almost literally.
While that photo above was taken in Chicago, that same wall o' clouds pretty much came through Duckford. Seriously, it was well-defined enough that when it passed overhead it felt very much like the space station crossing the terminator line in orbit... one moment it's sunlight, the next it's pitch black. Remember how I mentioned there were two tornadoes that hit the city? The larger of them was an EF-1 with 100mph winds that touched down just to the north of Duck U and traveled Northeast, eventually causing more than $500,000 in damage to Duck Valley College, the local JuCo, when it ran over them. This wasn't a glancing blow, this was a direct hit that went through a number of residential areas.
Duck U is at the orange arrow, the estimated tornado path is the purple line. Just offscreen to the bottom left is the busiest intersection in the city, State St and Alpine Rd (which is that north-south street just to the left of the tornado start point). Duck Valley College is top-center of the map. The rest of Duckford got away with only 75-80mph wind gusts, torrential rain... after it was all over, I saw a report of rainfall rates of up to three inches/hour... and much trees and roofs blown around. State and Alpine is approximately the half-way point between Pond Central (far offscreen to the bottom) and The Old Home Pond (well offscreen to the left), so fortunately both locations were spared the worst of it. But it did get a little exciting there for a while. At one point here at Pond Central, I had breezes coming from opposite sides of the apartment at once, which has never happened before. The weatherstripping on the apartment door couldn't keep the glancing wind gusts out, and the floor-to-ceiling windows/sliding glass door to the balcony are like a huge wind magnet. Thing is, the windows face south, and the door is in the northwest corner of the apartment, facing west, at the end of a hallway. Usually the wind has to be coming from the dead north to get in there, and it REALLY has to be blowing for it to leak around the door. But when THAT is happening, the windows to the south are shielded by the building. I think it's safe to say that the winds were... "confused" during the storm. I did prepare my emergency nest in the hallway, just in case of Really Bad Things.
Timelapse of Merely Bad Things from the GOES-EAST weather satellite
August 04, 2020
Air Penguins Redux In these trying times, when all around us is going insane, when hiding in one's house for a month seems normal, when nothing really makes sense anymore, we need to be reminded that, once upon a time, this was a thing:
I first mentioned them ten years ago, but c'mon... flying penguins! I only wish the video was longer... I could watch it for hours. The same company has done many other flying things, including a very impressive (but nowhere near as fun) SmartBird, eButterflies, and... OH! I just found a longer Air Penguin video!
I want to say something inspiring, like "be like an air penguin", but I can't think of anything. Oh well.
July 28, 2020
This Is Funny What's the difference between a joke and a rhetorical question?
Well, I thought it was funny.
THIS... this is what I've been saying for decades, this guy just has a better voice and a better editing suite!
Maybe a little NSFW language. Lighting. Darn skippy.
EDIT: More Lighting! Even darner skippier!
What sort of music do wind turbines like to listen to?
They're huge metal fans.
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