June 20, 2019

You're Gonna Smile

If you're anything like me, and I apologize if you are, you just broke into a huge grin and memories came flooding back.  I know the "good old days" weren't, not in comparison to what computers can do now, but damn...

EDIT:  Notallama...
Still really funny.

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June 14, 2019

Le Mans 2019

It's that time again!  It's the middle of June, and that means that a middlin' city a smidge smaller in population than Duckford to the south of Le Havre, France becomes the center of the motorsports world as the 87th 24 Hours of Le Mans gears up.  And due to a miracle pulled off by the apartment complex management, I'll be able to watch it from Pond Central's comfy chair!  For whatever reason, Dish Network dropped MotorTrend TV (Dish 246) from our channels list earlier this week.  It was there Monday, it wasn't there Wednesday.  I called the office, explained the situation, and they called Dish this morning.  And lo, upon Pond Central the satellites did smile, for there in its normal location were the initials "MT".  I've already set the DVR for all 24 hours.


While Toyota is the favorite to get the overall win with their LMP1-H hybrid powered cars, I'm throwing my support this year behind Rebellion Racing and their LMP1-L non-hybrid cars.  The Swiss team is an honest-and-true privateer team, with no support from any manufacturer.  Despite this, they were third and fourth in last year's 24H, the best of the non-hybrid cars.  They were 12 laps down to the Toyotas.  Now that Toyota has finally won Le Mans after years of heartbreak and suffering, and Fernando Alonso has a Le Mans victory under his belt in his chase for the "Triple Crown" of wins at Monaco, Le Mans and the Indianapolis 500, I have no hesitation to root against them.  It would be a wonderful thing to see a privateer team beat the factory cars... I don't honestly expect it, unless there's some reliability issues (with a Toyota at Le Mans?  Never!), but it would be so cool.

Having said that, I'm cheering for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing in the GTE Pro division.  Yes, from privateer to factory based, all in the space of a paragraph.  The thing is, Ford is getting out of endurance racing at the factory team level after this race, so seeing them take a class victory would be a great way to go.  Sorry, Corvette, I know you're usually my team, thanks to my awesome garage being a Vette specialty shop... I'm a fickle duck, I guess.  Next year, I promise!

For those of you who want to watch along, but don't have MotorTrend TV, they have a free 14-day trial you can sign up for on their website and watch the race streaming that way.  Or there's Radio Le Mans and their brilliant (audio only) coverage as well.  There's nothing better than seeing cars going 210mph down the Mulsanne straight in the middle of the night.  C'mon, join in with me!

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June 11, 2019

For The First Time In My Life, I Have Monitor Envy

It looks so good in 1080p, but I can't imagine how much better it'd look in 8K.  They've got more over at their yootoob channel... the fireworks one is particularly cool... but none are better than this.

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June 06, 2019

D-Day + 75 Years

Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,

But he'll remember, with advantages,

What feats he did that day.
From this day to the ending of the world,
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother;  And gentlemen in England now a-bed ahall think themselves accurs'd they were not here and hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks that fought with us

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.

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June 04, 2019

Midway 2019

I'm going to go a little far afield from my usual Midway day posts, because I have some news to report.  You may or may not be aware of the upcoming Hollywood movie on the Battle of Midway, due to be released in November.


I've known about this for well over a year, thanks to my membership in the Battle of Midway Round Table.  The production company involved has been asking the BOMRT historical accuracy questions... "where was the radio set located in a Dauntless, and what color would it be," that sort of thing (note: I made that up).  Sadly, there's a NDA on the man running the Round Table, so he can't tell us much about the film.  He's assured us that they're pushing to make it look as realistic as possible.

Which is, of course, great!  If there's one Pacific War naval battle that deserves a good movie, it's Midway... and no, I don't count that '70s extrusion as "good".  But this movie isn't my news... no, my news is something a little more personal.

I've been hired as a historical consultant on the Battle of Midway!  A youtube history channel is going to be doing a series of videos on Midway, and I've been tabbed to do the historical legwork.  I can't reveal the channel name yet, mostly because I forgot to ask the Power That Be for permission and he's on a business trip, but its been around for a couple-three years, and has well over 500k subscribers.

The plan is that we'll be releasing these videos as we get closer to movie release date, and there's hope for an actual tie-in with the film... y'know, concentrate on the characters the movie is featuring, sponsorship, that sort of thing.  None of that is guaranteed... indeed, I gather only the first contacts have been made... but there is optimism.

All of which is to say, I'm really really excited about this.  It'll be a fun way to spend time, I'm getting paid for it, and anything that educates about the Battle of Midway is okay in my book!  More details will be made available as I get permission, so look forward to that... and lets hope that Midway gets the movie treatment it deserves!

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May 28, 2019

Train. Drone. Camera.

There are times when I find "drones", or what used to be called "R/C aircraft", to be incredibly tiresome.


This is not one of those times.

Neither is this.
I find it interesting that at no time does the drone fly directly over the train... maybe some sort of rule against it?  Is the pilot afraid they'll shoot it down or something?

Now instead of a camera looking at a train, how about a camera looking FROM a train?
That's the Shonan Monorail, by the way.  I have this feeling I've seen it in an anime somewhere... Railgun, maybe?

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May 23, 2019

Motorsport Holiday!

That's right, it's Memorial Day weekend here in the US, and that means it's time for all auto racing fans to plop themselves down on the couch with the remote, a bag of chips, and just spend the entirety of your Sunday watching car races!


First off is Monaco, and we probably won't be seeing this view all that much.  Monaco is dredging out tons of silt from near the Tunnel exit, so as to create a firm base for some land reclamation.  It's supposed to be finished by 2022, at which point the run from the Tunnel will be much more dramatic, going between highrises and the like.

There will be a sense of sadness around Monaco this year though.  Just this past Monday two-time Monaco winner and three-time World Driver's Championship winner Niki Lauda passed away at the age of 70.  By now you know the story of his terrible fiery accident at the Nurburgring, how it severely burned his head and neck, and worst of all inhaling hot gases scorched his lungs.  At one point comatose, he was given Last Rites.  And then, because he was a bad-ass, Lauda came back six weeks later to race at Monza, because there was a championship to be won.  He finished fourth.  A reporter says that after the race, Lauda had to peel bloodsoaked bandages off his head.  He went into the final race at Mt Fuji Circuit in Japan three points up on rival James Hunt.  Due to terrible rains, he withdrew, stating it was too dangerous.  He wound up losing the championship by one point.  The courage it took to get back into the car only 40 days after nearly dying was immense... he has since said that he was absolutely terrified.  In recent times, he'd been an adviser to Mercedes.  He had a lung transplant last year, and was undergoing dialysis treatments of late when he died.  I don't use the term "hero" very often, but we are not likely to see the level of heroic bravery it took for him to drive again.  Fortunately, we are in a time where we most likely won't see similar circumstances arise.

Speaking of not seeing things, we won't be seeing Fernando Alonso in this year's Indy 500.  The McLaren effort failed to give him a car able to qualify in the top 33, being bumped at the very last moment possible.  I suppose if another team withdraws, he'd be allowed in, but... not likely to happen.  I'll admit, that removes a lot of interest in the 500 for me, but what the hell, it's only once a year and it's THE biggest race in America.  Right?

Then in the late afternoon/early evening, NASCAR brings us the Coca-Cola 600 from the Charlotte Motor Speedway.  I have very little to say about this race; I haven't paid any attention to stock car racing this year at all.  But it makes the three-race extravaganza complete, so it is not to be scoffed at.

Monaco is at 8am Pond Central, Indy around 11am, and the 600 is at 5pm.  That makes it look like there's a few hours between the end of the 500 and the beginning of the NASCAR race, but wait!  Some bright spark at ABC noticed that gap, and decided that we'll be seeing the Monaco GP on tape-delay on the network beginning right about 2pm.  One could literally go from 11am to roughly 9pm watching autoracing.  For those of us who prefer NOT to wait, ESPN2 will have Monaco at the correct time.

So... I've got chips.  I've got gatorade.  There will probably be pizza.  Lets race!

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May 17, 2019

I Had No Idea...

Y'all remember The Art Of Noise, right?  New Wave band, did that thing with Max Headroom, and that other thing with Tom Jones, and that other other thing with Duane Eddy, and the video with the kinda creepy little girl directing people to destroy various musical instruments in various entertaining ways?  Right, that song was titled "Close (To The Edit)", and like a lot of Noise's stuff, it still holds up really well today.


But here's the thing: I always assumed that it was all electronic stuff and samples and drum machines.  And maybe it was, but I only just learned that Trevor Horn produced the band... indeed, he was actually part of the band.  And between him, Anne Dudley, and a Fairlight, there was actual, y'know, music.  That could be played live.  A stunning concept for what I thought was nothing but a studio band.

How did I discover this?  Like most revelations, I discovered it accidentally, by stumbling over a 2004 Prince's Trust concert celebrating the career of Trevor Horn.  His work with The Buggles, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Yes, Seal, ABC, and others all performed live... and then this:
Completely gobsmacked.  I knew Horn played bass, but holy crepe on a stick, he does seem to be pretty damn good at it.  Oh, and those drummers are doing some serious work.

And it was live.  Who knew the Art of Noise was a real live boy?

Note: If the video isn't working, click here!

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May 14, 2019

Tim Conway 1933 - 2019

Still the funniest thing I've ever seen.  

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Random Anime Picture #147: Starry Night With Beach

-Manaria Friends, Ep06
Every so often, a series will come down the pike that takes you by surprise, hits you on the back of the head with a sock filled with rocks, rifles through your pocket for spare change, then leaves you for dead on the sidewalk.

Manaria Friends is not that show.

Instead, what MF is is a gently believable series about two girls that have a thing for each other.  As they go through their days at Wizarding U., we learn about them, the world they're in, the growth cycle of dragons, and how a piano stays in tune outdoors in the snow.

not appearing in this picture: snow
While there is magic thrown about in the show, which makes sense since it's set in a college for magic users, it's far from being the centerpoint.  Upon reflection, there's only two or three episodes of this 10-episode series that require magic to continue the story... and one Lighting Designer that just pissed me right the hell off by using magic to provide the stage lighting, but that's neither here nor there.

Instead, our show is about Anne (right) and Grea (the other one).  Anne is a princess of the kingdom of Manaria, where the show is set.  She is a prodigy in the use of magic, seemingly more powerful than many (all?) of the teachers.  The problem is, of course, that she's not overly trained in the use of that ability, meaning there tends to be a lot of overkill in her spellcasting.  Grea, on the other hand, is a princess of the Dragonborn... okay, let's get this out of the way now:

...is a princess of the Dragonborn, which is what the kingdom of the dragons call themselves.  She's actually half-dragon, half-human, a magic user of some skill, immense physical strength, and a cute tail, which is not something I ever expected to type.

Together they go through a semester? year? becoming more and more the focus of each other's life.  While it's not all sweetness and light, it mostly is.  Manaria Friends is the sort of show that puts a smile on your face while you enjoy two people that enjoy each other's company enjoying themselves.  I'd put it in the same category as Flying Witch or Yuru Camp... it's just nice.  And for what it is, it's remarkably well done.

Give it a shot.  You'll thank me for it later.

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May 08, 2019

Oh Look... Spa!

In the past, during the various F1U!s for the Grand Prix of Belgium at Spa-Francopants, I've said that rain is always a possibility.  That's just the way Spa do.  This past weekend, the World Endurance Championship held the Six Hours of Spa, and the skies were quite nice to begin... but rain is always a possibility, right?

...I'm fairly sure I've never said SNOW was a possibility.  Ye cats and little fishes.

Hey... LeMans is coming up, isn't it?  Mid-June... hope it's gonna be on TV here, I can't find anything about who's broadcasting in the US.

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May 02, 2019

When Cover Songs Try Too Hard

Last night I found myself following a pointer gleaned from over at J's place into the darker recesses of Yootoob.  I came hunting for the promise of a good cover song, made likely by the musician being Jonathan Coulton... y'know, the guy who wrote Portal's theme song?  So into this den of iniquity I went, and I found an entire album, entitled Some Guys, of cover songs of '70s hits and ballads.  I began listening... and I found myself confused.

That's not a cover song!  Oh, it is of course... that's Coulton singing instead of Gerry Rafferty... but there's practically no difference between the two.  Is that a cover, or is it a tribute, or just a knockoff?  The entire album is like this, nigh-on note perfect copies of 40-year-old songs.  And I have to ask: why bother?  Don't get me wrong, it's a tour-de-force by Coulton.  The performances are excellent, and if you didn't know better you'd swear you were listening to the originals.
And that's the problem, isn't it?  If I wanted to listen to the original song, I'd just listen to the original, not Jonathan Coulton pretending to be Gerry Rafferty, no matter how good at it he is.

I'm long of the belief that a good cover song must have a healthy dollop of the covering band's flavor on top of the original.  The best example of this that I can come up with off the top of my head is the song "Got The Time".
Classic song by Joe Jackson in his "angry young man" phase, somewhere after punk but before new wave kicked in.  He's long been my favorite musician, and this is easily one of my favorite of his tracks.  Until I heard a cover of it.  
By heavy metal band Anthrax.
Now it's still one of my favorite Joe Jackson songs, I just prefer this version.  It's still the same song, just performed in Anthrax's inimitable style.  It's no slavish copy, it's just a brilliant repurposing.

THAT's what I think a cover song should be like.  Don't copy: adapt.

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April 24, 2019

Everybody Sayin' "What About Us?"

Sometimes being half-asleep when browsing can turn up some gems.  Like this:

Baby.  Baby.

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April 23, 2019

51

It was a day much like any other Chicago day in 1968.  A pale gray haze hung over the city, courtesy of the smog caused by millions of cars.  The ivy on the Wrigley Field walls had yet to bloom and instead remained a dull brown.  Kids were in school, grown-ups were at work, and the day continued much as any other day would continue.


Except that, in a hospital on Lake Shore Drive not far from the aforementioned home of the Cubs, a Wonderduck was presented to a confused and tentative world.
birthday candle!
My age 50 year... mmm... not so good.  Here's hoping for a better 51.

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April 22, 2019

When "Forward" Looks A Lot Like Taking A Nap

This evening, I headed into the loo here at Pond Central.  There was nothing special about this, it was simply to pick up a pair of reading glasses I had left there... 2x mag, look a lot like protective eyewear (because they are... they were on sale!)... when suddenly, I vurped.


Yes, that sneaky combination of burp and vomit that comes out of nowhere and heralds... well, I don't rightly know what it heralds.  Surely nothing good.  Indeed, I spent the next half-hour or so feeling right miserable as my body did... things I don't want to discuss in any detail here.  Because damn, ain't nobody need to know that.

So it was with some slight concern that I decided that I should just take a rest.  After all, what if it all came back for round two?  The results would have been catastrophic, considering the difficulty I have in getting out of my memory-foam mattress-topped bed.  Remember the bit in... um... (looks it up to confirm) yes, Life, The Universe, And Everything?  About how mattresses are actually friendly (if dim-witted) sentient creatures that are hunted, killed, dried out, and the bodies sent around the galaxy for people to sleep on?  Yes, well, I can't help but wonder about that at times, because my memory-foam mattress does try very hard to keep me in it.  I assume for digestive purposes.

But my choices were limited at this point: bed, or comfy chair which has its own problems.  Bed it was, just for a few hours.
...
SIX HOURS LATER, I woke up.  The hell...?  Well, damn.  And I feel right as rain, no illness bits going on at all.  The human body is a wonderful thing, lemme tell ya... I just wish I understood what the hell is going on with mine sometimes.  Well, anyway... I'm going to move the writeup to Tuesday night... nothing else going on, really... and THEN you'll know what's gotten me so het up recently.  Stay tuned!

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April 21, 2019

Wow... Just... Wow.

I had intended to actually, y'know, write.  About anime.  Here.  On my blog.  I know, what a concept, right?  It was going to be on Saturday, after I completed a great short series that charmed the socks off me.


Saturday afternoon, I laid down for a nap, around 5pm or so.  Except for two hour-long stints around 2am and 9am, I slept until nearly 4pm Sunday.  I don't know why, but my body decided "no activity for you, Mr Duck."

So you've got that to look forward to on Monday, I hope... a review of a lovely little anime that, while it may not appeal to everybody, should appeal to most of my readers.

Look forward to it, won't you?

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April 15, 2019

A World Tragedy

The famous Cathredral at Notre Dame in Paris caught fire today.  Within a relatively short time, the fire destroyed the roof, brought down the spire, and has gone on to consume everything within the stone walls. 

Its very location, on a small island in the Seine river, made the blaze hard to fight.  Getting equipment to it proved difficult, and fireboats in the river could not get close enough to reach all the burning area.  The flames spread very quickly as well, limiting what the fire brigade could do.

There have been no deaths, and it's only been in the past few minutes that I've seen a report of a single serious injury to a firefighter.  Nobody who was in the Cathedral was hurt, including the many many tourists.  If there's anything good to take from this, it'd be that.  But otherwise?  It's all pretty rotten.

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April 13, 2019

F1 Quals: China 2019

Formula 1 believes this weekend to be the 1000th official Grand Prix.  And it is, if you take into account the 11 Indianapolis 500 that were considered as part of the calendar.  If you don't, stop being a Eurosnob and realize the FIA disagrees with you.  So China becomes the 1000th race, and I'm sure that wasn't intentional in the least.  Here's the provisional grid for the 2019 Grand Prix of China:

Pos
Driver
Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1
Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 
1:32.658          
1:31.728         
1:31.547
2
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:33.115 1:31.637 1:31.570
3
Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:33.557 1:32.232 1:31.848
4
Charles AMX-30      Ferrari 1:32.712 1:32.324 1:31.865
5
DH Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:33.274 1:32.369 1:32.089
6
Pierre Ghastly Red Bull Racing
1:33.863 1:32.948 1:32.930
7
Smiley Ricciardo Renault 1:33.709 1:33.214 1:32.958
8
Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:33.644 1:32.968 1:32.962
9
DP Magnussen
Haas Ferrari 1:34.036 1:33.150 DNF
10
Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:33.752 1:33.156 DNF
11
Torpedo Kvyat Toro Rosso
1:33.783 1:33.236

12
Sergio Perez Racing Point
1:34.026 1:33.299

13
Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Racing       
1:34.125 1:33.419

14
Carlos Sainz McLaren Renault 1:33.686 1:33.523

15
Lando Calrissian  McLaren Renault 1:34.148 1:33.967

16
Pleasant Stroll Racing Point
1:34.292


17
George Russell Williams Mercedes 1:35.253


18
Dumbass Kubica Williams Mercedes 1:35.281


NC
Tony Snazzy Alfa Romeo Racing
DNF



Sharp-eyed readers will notice that there's only 19 names listed.  Good call!  Mitch Albon managed to comprehensively destroy his Toro Rosso with only a couple minutes of Practice 3 remaining, and the team wasn't able to build up a new one for him in the couple of hours between then and Quals.  While he didn't destroy his car, Alfa Romeo's Tony Snazzy had a serious power unit problem that the team couldn't repair in time to send him forth.  What this means is that Williams avoided being on the last row for the first time this season!

You've also probably noticed that both Haas drivers DNF'd in Q3.  That's because they got caught in a kerfluffle between Vettel and Verstappen right at the end of the session.  The two "V" drivers were doing a "After you Alphonse, after you Gaston" routine, behaving in accordance to the the "unwritten rules" that state that drivers don't pass each other on track at in quals.  After essentially blocking the track, Vettel decided that the Dutchman was going too slowly, charged past the Red Bull driver and raced around to the line in time to be able to take one more flying lap.  Verstappen, for his part, has said that he had backed off to give himself room to the car ahead and Vettel prevented him from taking a final shot at pole.  Meanwhile, both Haas drivers were blaming the "V" drivers for not being able to do their runs.  The "good" news is that at most they'd likely be only able to move up a single spot on the grid.  So probably no harm done.  Verstappen would disagree, bitching that he could have improved on 5th.

So the race is tonight, at midnight here at The Pond... I'm unsure as to what the quality will be, there's been a lot of Mercedes running away so far.  It's been a dusty track so far... apparently a huge cement plant is upwind of the complex... and that's made it a little hard on the tires so far.  We shall see!

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April 08, 2019

Ducks In Anime: Quite Possibly A Record

-Nande Koko ni Sensei ga!, Ep01
I don't know a darn thing about the show, except that the uncensored version is airing on the 11th.  That right there may in fact tell me all I need to know about the series.  It's only obvious that I'll be watching it, of course, if for no other reason that to see if there are more ducks.

I'm sure many people will read that and say, "Uh huh, more ducks, right."  Longtime readers of The Pond, however, are nodding their heads, "more ducks.  That's Wonderduck all right."

Anyway, the reason for the title?  These two ducks (the other one is offscreen bottom... it's a pan shot) appear in the OP, maybe a little over a minute into the episode.  I can't remember if there's been any other OPs with a duck appearing, so this might be the earliest a duck has appeared in an episode of anime ever.  Or not.  Either way, duckies!

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April 07, 2019

Humboldt



#LeaveYourSticksOut

I love baseball, and always will.  But hockey gets it in a way no other sport seems to.

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