While I work feverishly on getting the HSotD Ep09 review done (it's proving to be both easier and more difficult than I expected), I wish to play you the song of my people I wanted to say that the Phantom Regiment has come back to Duck U for the Summer.
These folks were gathered just behind the Duckmobile this evening, listening to a speech. It's days like this that must make their lives miserable: it rained all day, with a high of 47Â°. This past Sunday, it was 99Â°... a fifty-degree shift in four days? Aieeeeeeee! So what does it matter if the Phantom Regiment is practicing at Duck U? Well...
Turn your volume up. Do it. Oh, and get a kleenex, because it's gonna make you cry.
I heard that as I left work yesterday... and that's just a warmup piece; it's not even part of their routine. This does tend to put a smile on your face at the end of a long day.
The Obligatory Music Arguement Post!
Over in some Fark thread a few days ago, someone suggested (perhaps in jest) that The Who's Eminence Front was the "quintessential '80s song."
Naturally, I took exception to this assertion, despite the fact that Eminence Front is my favorite song by The Who, mainly because of the keyboards and John Entwhistle's bass line. No, I suggested that anybody who believes that Eminence Front is the quintessential '80s song is forgetting the only song that really qualifies for that title.
Seriously, when you throw the Miami Vice tie into the mix, is there really a song that screams '80s more than In The Air Tonight by Phil Collins? Don't get me wrong, this is not a putdown in any way; I'm quite fond of '80s music in general. It's just that nothing is considered too excessive for the recording, which is what makes it work, of course. It's brilliant in that way. It's also been overplayed to a hideous level, rendering it almost a parody of itself.
Of course, many would say that being the "quintessential '80s song" is something of a booby prize anyway. To this I say "Feh." FEH, I say.
What about Take On Me? It's at least got my vote for "Best Music Video".
Posted by: Karl at May 31, 2012 03:02 AM (eiQvN)
I don't know; the quintessential 80s sound--to me--is synth-heavy and has a "bouncy" or "bright" feel.
The Human League's "Only Human" is the kind of song that comes to mind when I think about 80s music. It's got a sound which is heavy on (to borrow a phrase) "Euro-syntho-drum-machine-overkill" and I think it typifies a lot of the popular music from that decade, especially the first half.
...and 1983 is about the time I stopped listening to popular music and got heavily into Alan Parsons, too. I don't think it's a coincidence.
Posted by: Ed Hering at May 31, 2012 09:55 AM (lw0MQ)
I can't help you out. By the 1980's I had given up on rock entirely and started listening to jazz: Billy Cobham, Michael Franks, Pat Metheny...
Memorial Day 2012
On Saturday, the USS Iowa was moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Thankfully, reader Vaucaunson's Duck and his friend, Zippy, were there with cameras. It seems appropriate to show the Iowa's final voyage on Memorial Day.
Click the picture for a much larger one.
For all those who have served our country and given all they could, I
say thank you. It's not enough, no mere words could ever be enough, but
it's all I can do on this silly little blog.
If you've never seen a battleship with your own eyes, you can't really understand just how immense they are. I've seen USS Massachusetts and walked around (and inside) her. That one's a lot smaller than Iowa, but it's still immense.
That's at Battleship Cove. They also have USS Joseph P. Kennedy (a destroyer) and USS Lionfish (a WWII submarine), and I did it in the other order.
Lionfish is tiny and cramped. It's hard to believe that more than 50 men lived on something that small. Moving up to the Kennedy, it seemed quite spacious, and huge by comparison. But the Massachusetts? Sheesh, it was like an island. It was hard to believe something that big could even move, let alone cook along at water skiing speeds.
The Boss Lady and I toured the New Jersey in October last year. As you said, the Iowa class seem to be immobile islands - but can run with an LA class sub. The "R2D2" CIWS seem incongruous on a BB, but no more than the Tomahawk missile cells also mounted on her. Well worth the time spent in New Jersey. Wish I'd seen the old girl under way....
Posted by: The Old Man at May 29, 2012 06:10 PM (2b0Q9)
That picture of Warrior confuses me. Is it using a spinnaker? Or is that someone windsurfing in a major traffic lane?
She's still eligible for reactivation, and by law must be able to be "rapidly" brought back into the fleet.
That is what the law said regarding the IOWAs when they were mothballed for the last time, but even in the 1990s, it was an open secret that no money had been authorized to keep the ships in such condition. Many a time the veterans of the old sci.military.naval newsgroup on UseNet broke the news, gently and otherwise, to the newbie who wanted to form the battle line again.
I had the great fortune of visiting the NEW JERSEY years ago at her current berth and despite knowing how big she was, it was still a surprise to see it in person. The IOWAs were also among the most beautiful battleships ever built, and along with NORTH CAROLINA, certainly the most beautiful of those left.
Oh, and since we are talking big, I am calling in one of my markers and asking you to do an overview on the Xeno series of games by Monolithsoft, i.e. Xenogears, Xenosaga, and now Xenoblade (Yeah, I just got the latter game.). Definitely not expecting to see it anytime soon, but someday. And let us see if anyone can see the amusing connection the latter has with a certain other sci-fi long runner...
Posted by: cxt217 at May 31, 2012 07:27 PM (Iurth)
CXT, I'd love to, but there's a serious problem with your request: I don't have a Playstation/Wii/Xbox. Or any other game console, for that matter. Haven't had such a thing since the Atari 2600. If one appears in my apartment sometime in the future, I'll do it, but...
Posted by: Wonderduck at May 31, 2012 07:36 PM (V/OLv)
Even if one of the Iowas were reactivated, the big guns couldn't be used. The factory that made the gun liners was shut down decades ago. The Navy made a final purchase but I believe those liners have already been used.
So it's not clear just what they'd be useful for at this point.
Steven, I believe I recently saw the government excessing spare 16"
barrels on the condition that they be demil-ed by the purchaser. The
picture showed fifteen of the barrels. But the only thing I found today
was HERE. The
auction closed over a year ago... Wonder if they are no more.
(Wonderduck sez: T.O.M., I had to delete your original comment because you had the full-length link in the body. Please, please, please use the link tool in the top of the comment bar. It looks better, and it sets off fewer spam alarms.)
Posted by: The Old Man at June 01, 2012 07:11 AM (V/OLv)
Even if those liners were still around (they're not full gun barrels) I bet the Navy yards no longer have the ability to remove the old ones and put new ones in.
K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K K
A couple of days ago, Kerry Wood announced his retirement from Baseball. He spent most of his 14-year career with the Chicago Cubs, and is the perfect example of potential derailed. He was 20 years old in 1998 when he got the call to The Show. He threw a 100mph fastball, a slider that looked like it was remote controlled, and a curve that didn't so much fall off a table as fall off the top of a very tall building, the sky seemed to be the limit for "Kid K." Tommy John surgery took the 1999 season, but he came back from that to be just as dominant as before.
Except he wasn't really dominant. He just couldn't stay healthy, going on the Disabled List 14 times in 13 years (not counting his lost 1999), and his career record reflects that: 86-75. His best single season was 2003, when he went 14-11, 266 strikeouts, a 3.20 ERA, and was named to the NL All-Star team, leading the team to the NL Championship series.
When he was on, there was nobody better, but as injuries continued to mount (a torn rotator cuff being the worst, but with elbow difficulties and a knee hurt getting out of a jacuzzi thrown into the mix), he was moved into the bullpen. In 2008, he signed with the Cleveland Indians, being traded to the Yankees in 2010. Joining the Bronx Bombers for their pennant run on the last day of July, he showed that he still had a bit left in the tank, going 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA in 24 appearances as the setup man for the Yankees closer, Mariano Rivera.
He resigned with the Cubs for 2011, then for 2012, but after one last stint on the DL, he came in this past Friday for his last appearance, getting a strikeout to the only batter he faced. It was 1582nd strikeout in 1370.6 innings, which puts him 2nd all-time in strikeouts per 9 innings (10.317), behind only Randy Johnson (10.609). He was also the 1998 Rookie of the Year and holds the Major League record for strikeouts in a 9-inning game, with 20. Below is a video of every K from that particular game, May 6, 1998:
Before you think "Oh, it was just the Houston Astros, big deal," be aware that Houston went 102-60 and won the NL Central by 12.5 games. This was the season of the "Killer 'B's" (Mike Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Derek Bell), plus Moises Alou to boot. In short, this was a heckuva lineup that he took on... heck, Bell was leading the NL in batting average when he became the 20th strikeout. And he made them look silly. Look at that final pitch.
I was running a RadioShanty when this game took place, and was fortunate enough to have a satellite dish on the roof of the store... that picked up WGN. Every TV in the place had the game on, and as the innings ticked off, I got less and less work done. By the time of the 9th inning, there were seven other people watching the game with me: a few customers, a few employees of other stores.
This game is widely considered the best pitching performance ever. Yes, better than any perfect game, better than any no-hitter. The one hit he did give up was an infield single that could have easily been called an error. He also hit a batter, but Craig Biggio was hit by 285 pitches in his career (2nd all-time). If he hadn't've given up a hit already, there's no way he would have been pitching that far inside on him. No walks, 20Ks, zero runs. If it isn't the best start of all time, it's far and away the best I've ever seen.
Okay, it's been three days! Time to post something...before we send in the GEESE!
Posted by: Ed Hering at May 18, 2012 12:57 AM (E1y9u)
Been there when editing a local newsletter. Take your time, think happy thoughts and soon the burnout will go away. Look after your own mental well being and all else will fall into place (don't ask how I know...)
The Adventures Of Tintin
Before last year, if you said the word "Tintin" to someone here in the US, it was most likely that you'd get a blank look in reply. To be sure, there were a few who knew of the stories of the boy journalist, but they're more a European thing. I was one of the lucky ones. I was introduced to the Tintin books at the age of three or four, and I taught myself how to read to them. Just a few steps away from my computer, there are some 16 of the books, terribly worn but well-loved. Most are the Little-Brown translations, but there are a few of the first Methuen ones mixed in. It's no exaggeration to say that I owe much of what I am to that small collection of "graphic novels," along with Monty Python's Flying Circus and the works of Robert Heinlein.
Some four years ago, some reports began to leak out of Hollywoodland of a major motion picture treatment of Tintin. It was to be live action, then it turned into a traditional animation project, until it was announced that WETA Digital had been tabbed to do an all-motion-capture movie instead. To be honest, I had incredibly mixed feelings about all of it. On one hand, I've literally waited all my life for a good Tintin motion picture. On the other hand, I've waited all my life for a Tintin motion picture, and I was afraid that whomever took it on would royally screw it up. Even reports that Stephen Spielberg was directing did nothing to assuage my trepidation. Indeed, my fears grew as more and more information came out: it was to be based on the two-book story, The Secret of the Unicorn/Red Rackham's Treasure... which happens to be my second-favorite of the Tintin stories (Destination Moon/Explorers on the Moon have the honor of being my favorite). There are also elements of The Crab with the Golden Claws mixed in as well. When the movie was released in December 2011, I discovered that I couldn't bring myself to go see it. Part of it was that I hate going to the movie theater, what with the talking and the cellphones and so on. The other part was simple fear. I knew I'd see it eventually, but I wanted to do it on my terms... and that meant when the DVD came out. Which it did a couple of months ago. Last week, I purchased it. So what did I think?
I need not have worried. It's a very, very good representation of Herge's work. In the extras, Spielberg says that when Raiders of the Lost Ark was released in France, it was described as a Tintin adventure, and he worked hard to bring that same sort of excitement to this film. For those who have never heard of Tintin before, it'd be a fun action romp filled with interesting characters.
Captain Haddock and Tintin
For those of us who know the stories, Spielberg took the time to throw in a ton of references while staying mostly true to the original work. There are bottles of Loch Lomond whiskey rolling around, for example.
Thompson and Thomson visit Tintin
Sadly, the biggest weakness of the film is the one thing that made it possible: the motion capture technology. It's gotten good enough that we're in "uncanny valley" territory. For the most part, the look works, but there are moments, such as the motorcycle chase late in the film, where it just looks wrong. Thompson and Thomson, the not-twin detectives, are disappointing as well. While they look very much like their comic-book counterparts, they have a goofy semi-realistic style that doesn't fit with the rest of their mo-cap world. I don't know that there's anything that could be done about that short of removing them from the story, but there you are.
It's an odd fact that the one character that isn't motion-captured is the most expressive of the cast. Snowy, Tintin's dog/partner, is 100% animated, yet fits perfectly in the world. In the original stories, we read his thoughts via word balloons. In the movie he's not allowed to speak, but you always know what's going on in his mind. Snowy is a virtuoso performance by WETA, and it really makes the movie work. If you're a Tintin fan, you owe it to yourself to see The Adventures of Tintin. If you're not, but you're looking for a good two hour action-filled romp that doesn't require a whole ton of thought and is kid-safe to boot, it's a good film for you. There is some violence, particularly during the pirate sequence, but no blood or inappropriate language.
I really enjoyed the movie... more importantly, the five-year old me that learned to read with Tintin is satisfied.
Saw it in the theater (but not in 3D), and it was very impressive. Mind-blowing was the reveal-shot of Morocco.
I thought they did a great job of translating Tintin to CGI without making him too implausible, but you're right, the rest of the characters are such broad caricatures in the comics that translating them to "realistic" CGI characters makes them implausible, and owners of prime real-estate in Uncanny Valley.
It's odd for me that I've SEEN a lot of Tintin books, but I've never read any through. I think most of them I saw in high school in a French friend's collection - Along with some original Smurfs books (before the American cartoon) and a fat stack of issues of Spirou.
Posted by: Mauser at May 07, 2012 02:07 AM (cZPoz)
Now I'm waiting for someone to do a movie based on the Asterix comics.
I'm glad the CGI wasn't a total disaster, but IMHO Spielberg should have done Tintin in traditional animation. I'm sure good animators could have kept the character design and the art style of the comic books. (FWIW, there is made-for-TV animation of Tintin out there, which stays true to the books in that regard.)
"There is some violence, particularly during the pirate sequence, but no blood or inappropriate language."
There are some things in the Tintin comic books that are remarkably "mature" (for lack of a better word); Captain Haddock's drinking habit, for example, or the fact that Tintin knows how to handle firearms. I was wondering how well those things would go over in an animated movie (which, in North America anyway, would still be primarily aimed at young children).
Posted by: Peter the Not-so-Great at May 07, 2012 07:46 PM (KiYAY)
Peter, I actually just purchased the 1991 TV series (by Nelvana, the perpetrators of "Cardcaptors", god help us) last week. I've never seen it, because until just recently it's only been available in Region 2. I almost cried when I discovered that it'd finally been released in R1.
Posted by: Wonderduck at May 07, 2012 08:25 PM (6CHh4)
Yeah, the drinking and gunplay surprised me as well. They'd have never appeared in a purely American production, and I'm surprised they weren't taken out, maybe replaced with walkie-talkees....
Posted by: Mauser at May 08, 2012 02:06 AM (cZPoz)
"...You Need To WRITE!"
I said that just a couple o' days ago, didn't I? And here I am, not writing for a couple of days. Just shows how lucky I really did get. I've got plenty of things to write about, just not plenty of time, what with the end of the school year coming next week. Of course, that means lil' ol' Wonderduck is gonna be awful darn busy, but never fear! There will be HSotD ep07 on Saturday, then something special on Sunday (assuming everything goes smoothly)... and then we're back into the F1 groove on Monday. But until Saturday, here's this:
As background: back when I attended University, I somehow landed a job at the Other Textbook Store. The off-campus bookstore; the store that wasn't affiliated with any large chain.
Like the Campus store, it saw a rush of students buying textbooks the week before class. And a rush of students selling the books the week of finals. There was also the time spent sorting/stacking/labeling during the week before the buying rush.
Other than that, I never spent any time at that store. It was a little extra money, but not a great deal. And I could get wholesale price on any books for classes I was registered for.
I fondly remember the end of each rush.
Anyway, I have sympathy for the guy who has to manage the Campus Store during the rush. It has to be as hard as any other part of handling the rush.
Posted by: karrde at May 05, 2012 10:57 AM (8iMt6)
What have you done. Can't wait for the next ep. on Crunchy now.