July 27, 2009

RIP Merce Cunningham

The great modern/avant-garde dance choreographer Merce Cunningham passed away today at the age of 90.  Considered one of the most influential choreographers of the 20th century, he was also one of the great dancers as well.  He was a soloist with the Martha Graham Dance Company for six years before forming his own troupe.

In my prior life as a lighting designer, I did mostly plays and musicals.  Whenever I was asked to design for a modern dance concert, though, I always lept at the chance.  The apparent lack of structure to a modern dance piece let me play with techniques I wouldn't ever try during a play, simply because I was being graded on my "formal" designs.

I put "apparent" in italics up there because in many ways, modern dance is all about structure.  Just like ballet, it is never, ever improved, though it is often hard to tell.  There's a common symbolic language for modern dance that allows a choreographer to put a piece on paper, just like a score for an orchestra.  Nowadays, it's done via computer programs, of course.

But that structure was less confining than the traditional ballet style, letting a choreographer pull off some amazing things.  Because of that, I LOVED designing for dance.  It was really the only time that I, as a designer, felt like I was one of the performers. 

Usually in a stage production (with some rare exceptions), the best lighting designs are the ones you never notice... kinda like a baseball umpire.  It may take hundreds or thousands of hours to accomplish, but the lights are there to make the actors look good, not to make themselves look good.

With modern dance, however, lighting is there to accompany the dancers on-stage, sometimes literally.  I remember one senior dance project I worked on when I was in grad school where the choreographer wanted a duet on stage: one physical dancer, and the lights were the other 'dancer'.  She came to me before she started anything and asked for my opinions and input... and I was thrilled.  It was a bear to pull off with limited resources, but we made it work.

Modern dance allows you to do things like that.  While Cunningham's style was much closer to ballet than, say, Twyla Tharp's, and not for everyone's tastes, he was still one of the great  innovators of a style of art that I love.

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July 25, 2009

DuckFest 2009 Is Today!

The 7th annual meeting for rubber duckie collectors, DuckFest 2009, is taking place in New York City today.

...and I'm not there.

I am sad.

The owner and operator of The Duck Show, Digicolleen, is the host of this year's convention, and I'm sure there will be tons of pictures posted over the coming days.  She's also where I ganked the above photo, but I know she won't mind.

Have fun, everybody... next year, I'll finally meet you!

I hope.

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July 23, 2009

Wonderduck Watches Watchmen


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July 18, 2009


I'm open to suggestions.

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July 17, 2009

Walter Cronkite Dead

Walter Cronkite passed away today at the age of 92. 

If any person can be a legend, it was him.

And that's the way it is.

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The Remains Of The Day

As I mentioned back on Wednesday, the Duck U. Bookstore received its Fall shipment of used textbooks, totaling 130 boxes and nearly two tons of weight.  None of these boxes were particularly well-filled, so there was a lot of shredded cardboard used as packing material.  How much?

This much:

Mt Trashmore, scaled by duckie
By the time we had all the boxes opened, the pile was about four feet tall and about seven feet across at the base.  Now, I'm just a duck with an uncanny ability to pack boxes well (called "box origami" or "pack-fu" in the store), but you'd think that you could just fill the boxes with, y'know, textbooks and ship fewer boxes.  But what do I know?

I DO know that all that packing material ended up in the dumpster, which took five trips.  Bloody waste, that's all that is.  I knew I shouldn't've worn black...

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July 15, 2009

It's An Ow-My-Back! Day

Picture Unrelated
We're crazy-go-nuts at the Duck U. Bookstore right now.  We just got our Big McLargeHuge shipment of used textbooks for the Fall Semester (one month away, dear heavens!).  Unfortunately, Mr Trucker-Delivery-Person decided that, since the loading dock was a couple of inches shorter than the back of his semi-trailer, he couldn't use his palletjack to bring the three pallets worth of boxes into the store... but he could stack the boxes on the loading dock just fine, and not one step closer to the Bookstore.

Gee, THANKS, Mr Trucker-Delivery-Person!  It's nice to know that we get the value we pay for with your company!

130-some-odd boxes.  Nearly two tons worth of books.  I'm an achy little duckie tonight.  Of course, tomorrow we get to open all these boxes, check in all the books, and put them on the shelves.  Whee...

Blogging will resume Friday, after I stop being so whiney and complainy. 

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July 14, 2009

Once Again, A Virus... I Think

So Monday night, I'm visiting Instapundit's place, and my antivirus suite starts screaming at me.  While I believe it thought it caught everything, and nothing showed up as bad on Malwarebyte's Anti-Malware, I just wasn't sure.

It seemed too easy.

So, remembering the nightmare I had last time, I just decided to skip all the headaches and jumped right to a full reformat.  I began right when the first pitch of tonight's Major League Baseball All-Star Game was thrown, and after all the updating, installing, UNinstalling, pushing, shoving and weeping was through, it was just about four hours later.

Not bad, actually.

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July 09, 2009

The OCotP: An Update

I must admit to thinking that I wasn't going to see the Official Car of the Pond, a '96 Camry, in drivable condition ever again when it rolled away on the back of the tow truck this morning.  The horrid sounds coming from the engine were just too horrid for me to think any other way. 

Within an hour of it getting into Tom the Miracle Worker's hands, however, he gave me hope.  The timing belt and its associated gizmos had gone south, he said.  He continued by saying that they're rated for around 90K miles, and the OCotP has 97K and change on its odometer.  So I had gotten good life out of it, but it needed to be replaced.  Fortunately, there's a kit for that that's actually cheaper than parting it out, so that's good. 

The horrid noise I had been hearing was the water pump, tearing itself to pieces.  Tom said that he hadn't seen one fail quite this spectacularly in a while.  Seems that the pump is driven off the timing assembly in my specific type of Camry, and when the timing belt slipped its gear and wound up being off-setting by about 10o, the water pump began to shed chunks of itself.  That also caused the big puddle, as it began squirting radiator fluid hither and yon. 

Repairs (well, replacing) both devices would be pretty straightforward, though not particularly easy considering the layout of the Camry's 4-cylinder engine in the compartment.  It's pretty well packed in there, with no real elbow room to work.  Still, The Miracle Worker said that he didn't expect any problems doing it... and I believed him.  The family has been going to his shop for 20-some-odd years; if he's talking about cars and he says something is so, it is so.

The bad news was that he couldn't actually run the OCotP's motor long enough to tell if the disintegration of the water pump and the terrible timing had caused serious damage to the internals, like driveshaft bearings and the like.  "Best not to think about it right now," he said, sending a shiver of fear up my feathers.  "It's at least a 50-50 chance you'll be fine, probably a lot better than that.  If the OCotP was my car, I'd go ahead and do the repairs."

Okay.  About seven hours later, he calls me at work.  "Want some good news?  There's no damage to the engine, she's purrin' like a catgirl."  (note: he didn't actually say "catgirl")

In fact, the car was almost ready to be picked up.  It would have been, except as they were refilling the radiator, they discovered that there was a crack in the plastic overflow reservoir, and they had applied a good squirt of industrial strength epoxy to it.  It'll be like new, except it'll take overnight for it to dry.

What with towing and taxes and such, it'll come to just over $1000, but that's a damsite better than what I had been fearing... and I get my car back!  My wonderful, happy, comfortable car... the OCotP is coming home!

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July 08, 2009

Four Years!

Exactly four years ago today, Wonderduck's Pond opened for business on MuNu!

Partytime at The Pond
Pulled from the ghetto that was Bl**ger by Big Poppa Pixy himself back when he was out hunting talent (as opposed to now, when talent begs to be let in), a lot has happened since then.  Since that simple first post ("Honey, I'm home!"), there have been 1222 other posts (this is number 1224), 3176 comments, and a whole lot of lame attempts at humor.

Along the way, though, I think I've managed to put some decent posts together.  Posts like "In The Church of Speed" or "YOUR F1 Glossary", the "Dear Dad" letters for the Sky Girls OVA and the Sky Girls TV series, and the "Dear Son" reply for Zipang!.  Then there were the more serious What If...? posts What if the Enterprise was in Pearl Harbor on Dec 7, 1941? and Midway: Timing Is Everything, the two of which I consider my best work here.

But people come for the F1 Updates, and I've had a couple of good ones in the 80-some-odd races I've covered.  Races like the 2008 Belgian Grand Prix, or my collection of posts for the 2005 US Grand Prix from the Bl**ger version of The Pond.  There's also been a quick history of the Tire Wars and the study of "Clean vs Dirty".

One personal highlight was the creation and release of my AMV, "...Angel".  The youtube version still gets comments every now and again, and has been watched over 12000 times and has an "awesome!" rating to boot.  One of these days, I've got to do a DVD quality version...

Of course, there's been some darker days as well.  There was The Cardiac Incident, the death of my Grandmother, and the death of "my" cat Rumpole.  Blogging made these events go by a little easier.

And that's thanks to you, my readers.  You've made the past four years fun... now let's aim for year five!

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July 07, 2009


It's been a bad day.

I woke up this morning with blood coming from a place that blood shouldn't ever be coming from.  I managed to get a doctor's appointment on short notice, and drove there this afternoon... about 40 minutes away at highway speeds from the Duck U. Bookstore.

After being poked and prodded and peered into ("Moooooooooon Riiiiiverrrrr..."), I was given more-or-less good news, though with one caveat: don't lift anything heavy for a while. 

Oh.  With our big shipment of used books coming next week.  Oh dear.

After that, I drove to the Old Home Pond, to have dinner with Momzerduck and Ph.Duck. 

On the way home after that, I was almost back to Pond Central when my engine suddenly started sounding like someone had put a can full of gravel into it.  I parked, went in, and called Ph.Duck, he of the high level of car knowledge... he said he'd be over as soon as he could.

So, I relaxed for a few minutes and checked the blogs of some of my online friends... where I found that Steven unintentionally trolled me.  Me, the KyoAnimaniac.

Then Ph.Duck pulled in and, when I joined him in the parking lot, said "well, that trail of fluid isn't a good sign... and neither is that puddle of fluid under the front of the car."

Oh, fsck

So I have to call Ricotta's tomorrow and figure out how to get the Official Car of the Pond towed there, without me having to be present, as I have to work... and then brace myself for the possibility that I'm going to have to get another car, as the OCotP is 13 years old and may not be worth repairing, depending on the diagnosis.

Enough already, I give up.

UPDATE: Yes, I know I'm whining.  Yes, I know it's not good fodder for a post.  I don't care, I needed to do it.

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July 03, 2009

Oh, I Gotta Get A Wii Now!

From GameStop's webpage:

I bet they'll sell a million of 'em!

Is it just me, or does anybody else think it'd be bad to take a Wii (or any other videogame console, for that matter) into the bathtub?

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July 01, 2009

In The Works

Haven't posted anything recently, but mostly that's because I'm working on what might turn out to be a really nice "What If...?" post.  It also needs a lot more research than the earlier ones, though, so that's ongoing.

I'm also trying to catch up on my anime.  While I'm up-to-date on Saki and K-On!, I'm four or five episodes behind on Hatsukoi Limited.  Then there's the second season of Haruhi and the Clannad After Story special, which I'm expecting to see over on TT when I get home from work.  But, surprisingly, SpoonSubs finally got around to subbing the Hidamari Sketch x365 DVD Special!  FINALLY!  That'll be fun to watch.

So while there's a lot of silence at The Pond, there's stuff in the works.

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