September 30, 2014

Jobs that take balls

There are jobs that require real guts. Obviously being a combat rifleman, but I mean other things.

I think the most praiseworthy of them are the men who risk everything to save others. Combat medic, of course, but firemen. Crew of a Coast Guard rescue helicopter is a good example: their motto is "That others may live". Unspoken is the first part: "We risk death so that others may live." And once in a while they actually do die.

What inspired this thought was that I was just reading about Rodeo Clowns.

I really love Rodeo, and out here in Oregon this is prime rodeo territory. When I was in Massachusetts we went to a rodeo once, supposedly the North East Regional final. And they were terrible.

Most of the calf ropers missed the calves, for instance. It wasn't really much of a surprise, though; Massachusetts isn't exactly prime ranching territory.

I went to a rodeo at the Oregon State Fair and it was surreal, because it alternated events between traditional rodeo and something called "Kentucky Trotters". There were two announcers who took turns; the rodeo announcer had a western accent and was just what you'd expect. The other one, for the Kentucky Trotters, was British and I imagined him with a cup of tea.

The competitors in the rodeo events wore jeans and cowboy hats, but the Kentucky Trotter competitors wore the kind of stuff you see them wear in dressage events. The Rodeo announcer could scarcely contain his contempt, and that was how I felt, too.

There's a hole-in-the-wall town in the Willamette Valley called "St. Paul" which is otherwise pretty forgettable, but every year on July 4 they have a rodeo and it's awesome. I've been to it a couple of times, and you wouldn't believe such a small town could put on such a great event. It is loads of fun.

But in this area, the king of rodeos is the Pendleton Roundup (which is world-famous). Pendleton is another relatively small town, but the population triples for the Roundup. (You've never seen to many Airstream house trailers in your life.) It's fairly near the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, and the Indians are big-time participants, doing events in traditional clothing, but also competing.

I've been to it once. My roommate and I decided on a whim to go out there, and we waited at the hospitality desk for people with spare tickets to show up with them. As a result, he and I didn't sit together, but it was still fun.

There are a lot of events in a proper rodeo, including one (barrel racing) for women. In rodeo the men are men and the women are women and everyone thinks that's a mighty fine thing. Anyway, women don't compete in the other events because they're too dangerous or require too much muscle.

Calf roping is a big event. One of the neat things about it is that the horse the cowboy rides is a full partner in the event, and it knows what it's supposed to do.

Team roping always blows me away. The first cowboy lassos the calf's head, which is hard enough, but the second guy has to throw his lasso under the rear legs of the calf and then tighten it up to catch the legs. It ain't easy, but at a decent rodeo like St. Paul or Pendleton they almost never miss. At the Massachusetts rodeo, on the other hand, they nearly always missed. I got a bit disgusted.

I've never been too impressed with "Bronc riding". I'm sure a bucking horse could toss me off, but for an experience cowbow the horse's rhythmic bucking isn't too hard to synch with, and it's very rare for one of them to take a dive.

Anyway, the last event is always bull riding. (That's when the animals get their revenge.) It's dangerous. Those bulls are big and strong and mean, and unlike Broncs the bulls have a number of different patterns to try to get the cowboy off their back, and can switch from one to another without any warning. Every rider gets thrown, the only question is whether it's before or after the time period.

And in some cases once the rider is down, the bull comes back after him, to try to kill him. Some bulls are really mean. And that's where the Rodeo Clown comes in.

The clowns are out there to protect the riders and distract the bull. It isn't always necessary; a lot of the bulls just head for the exit once the rider is off. But sometimes things get nasty.

I saw a clown get his jaw broken one time. The rider used a "suicide wrap", which doesn't always release when you want it to. (It's banned now in most rodeos.) He got tossed off, but his hand was stuck, and the bull went into a spin. In that case all the clowns can do is to wade in and try to pull on the rope to get the rider's hand free. And this clown got hit in the face with the bull's horn, and it broke his jaw.

It takes real guts to do that. Obviously no one wants clowns to get hurt, but it does happen, and once in a while they get killed. Bulls can be really dangerous.

I don't watch rodeo hoping to see someone get hurt. The ideal rodeo has good competition, and everyone goes home safe afterwards, including the animals. But that element of danger is part of the experience; it's certainly inherent in Bull Riding.

So here's to the men in the funny costumes: brave and dedicated, taking risks so the riders can be safe.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Weird World at 06:05 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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September 29, 2014

My schedule for fall 2014

Monday, Oct 6: Inou Battle

Tuesday Oct 7: Trinity Seven

That's all that interests me with the potential to watch all the way through the season.

But I've got a few trainwrecks I want to sample, so I only promise to watch half an episode of each of these:

Thursday, Oct 2: Amagi

Wednesday, Oct 8: Daitoshokan

Thursday, Oct 9: Twintail

Sunday, Oct 12: Girlfriend (maybe only a quarter for this one)

Quite frankly, the main point of all of these is to scout them for plunder potential.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 04:42 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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Chooser version 50


Added 77 images from Mondaijitachi, total now is 3778.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Site Stuff at 10:23 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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September 28, 2014

Mondaijitachi -- plunder

The top rotation is still hungry and so tonight I rewatched "Problem Children" and ended up with 55 candidates. I still have the OVA to go through and I expect it will be very fruitful, so I could end up with more than 70 total.


The primary attraction is KuroUsagi, of course.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Site Stuff at 09:20 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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September 27, 2014

Chooser version 49

Added 84 images from Twin Angel.

Total number of images is now 3701.

UPDATE: Just to review, there are magic buttons in all four corners. Hovering over the upper left corner brings up an information frame. Clicking it makes Chooser select a new image to display.

Clicking the lower left corner takes you to this blog's main page (even if you're already there).

Clicking the lower right corner does the same as clicking the upper left corner: pick a new image to display.

Clicking the upper right corner opens a new tab (or window) with the current image in it.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Site Stuff at 02:59 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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Twin Angel

So this was fruitful. I ended up with 84 candidates for the top rotation, which I'll process and install after I make this post.

I didn't watch the show; as is my usual habit I went through the episodes in reverse order just so I wouldn't get hooked by the story. But once I was finished, I came away with the unmistakeable impression that the show is a deliberate spoof of Sailor Moon. One of the big giveaways was the dreamy guy who shows up wearing a mask and throws white roses around. But there were a lot of other things. It isn't just Sailor Moon they're spoofing; there are a lot of other characters who are clearly takes on things.

There's the crazy girl from the newspaper club who is constantly looking for scoops. There's the clumsy girl who keeps tripping while carrying trays of crayfish. There's the enemy girl who's blonde and tends to wear goth-loli clothing who fights using giant mechas. And there's that teacher; yeesh.

Just all kinds of things that look like they're intended to be funny. And, in fact, I would classify this show as a comedy even though it does get serious at the end, for a while.

It feels like a sequel, but ANN doesn't list anything else except for a 2-episode OVA, so I don't know.

Anyway, it wasn't bad. And the girls are cute and the art is decent and I got 84 grabs out of it. So that's not shabby.

UPDATE: Another thing that makes it seem like a spoof is that Haruka and Aoi's faces look exactly the same when they're Twin Angel and when they're not, and yet people who know them as civilians don't make that connection.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 02:22 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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Yay! Volleyball!


Beach Volleyball is the sure sign that the director loves us.

UPDATE: It's hard to go wrong with a GE Minigun!


(But she does it.)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Cheesecake at 11:06 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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September 26, 2014

Nisekoi -- reject

3617 frame grabs isn't enough! The top rotation is hungry and needs to be fed!

So my attention was drawn yesterday by Nisekoi, a pretty standard harem comedy from the description. The story bears a very vague resemblance to Romeo and Juliet: our hero is the son of the head of a Yakuza gang. He ends up romantically entangled with the daughter of a rival gang.

But that's where the resemblance ends. There are at least two other girls who are also, apparently, after him.

When I'm considering plundering a show which I'm sure I won't like, I check a few episodes out in the middle, with sound turned off and no subtitiles. And that's what I did with this one; I downloaded a couple of raw BD rips, and took a look at episodes 6-8 and 17-19 IIRC. And what I mainly recall was a preposterous number of face faults, mostly by Our Hero.

The other thing was that the web site for the show implies that the girls are nicely shapely, but I sure didn't see any evidence of it in the show. They were always wearing loose baggy clothing or other things which deemphasized their figures.

Moreover, the episodes I was looking at were all haremette-of-the-week, which is a sign of incompetent scripting. With only four girls in a 24-episode show, if they're doing that it means they have no other story.

Now I may have been unlucky, and a beach episode (or other swimsuit episode, if there is one) would redeem a lot of sins, but I don't feel like looking any further. With a six-episode sample out of 24, I really should have seen more I could use.

So this one's off the list. Maybe I should try Yuru Yuri. If I can stomach it. It's been a long time since I glanced at that one and my memory is that it's probably useless, too, but maybe I'm remembering wrong.

UPDATE: Nope, nope, nope. I just took a look at Aroduc's archive for the show, both seasons, and it is as I recalled: no boobs. Yuru Yuri is crossed off, too.

It's interesting how some shows present middle school girls as totally undeveloped, and other shows stack them like a brick shithouse (you should pardon the expression). Makes you wonder, don't it?

UPDATE: One problem with using Aroduc's archives to shop is that he sometimes makes up names for the shows, so it isn't always easy to map them back to the real thing. But it looks like Twin Angels has potential. Episode 8 is a beach episode.


Yes, that's more like it!

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 03:59 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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September 25, 2014

Fairy Tail -- ep 198


It's been a hell of a day, but the excitement is all over now because the good guys won, so Lucy gives into an impulse and hugs Natsu. Who doesn't seem to mind.

I've always thought the relationship between Natsu and Lucy was noteworthy because it was so atypical. Lucy is in love with Natsu and everyone in the guild knows it except Juvia and Natsu himself. I don't quite understand Natsu's reaction to it all. It's not like Lucy is throwing herself at him the way Juvia does Gray, of course, but he knows he's special to her, and she's special to him. Even so sometimes it seems like she's in his friend zone.

Or maybe it's just that he doesn't know what to do, or he's got other things on his mind. Or maybe it's residual left over from when Lisanna died.

In one of the OVA's, a lot of the women from the guild were down on the beach and had a "who loves whom" contest, or something like that, and one of them brought up Lucy and someone else said, "That's Natsu, right?" and they all nodded. It isn't any secret how she feels about him.

I guess she's patient. Assuming neither of them dies violently (which is a real possibility considering some of the jobs they've been on) there's time. She's supposedly only 17. I don't think we know how old Natsu is; I'm not even sure he knows. But it's about that same age, within a couple of years.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 09:31 PM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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Imminent threat

One of the big talking points last decade was the idea that we can't preemptively attack to relieve a threat unless the threat is "imminent". That always annoyed me; it amounts to saying, "Don't fight the forest fire until you can see flames from your front porch."

It never made sense. The best time to fight a big fire is before it gets big, and the best time to deal with a threat is before it becomes imminent. (And the best way to fix a software bug is to prevent it in the first place.)

And now that Obama has finally started taking the threat of radical Islam seriously (or at least is pretending to), the usual suspects are talking about whether the threat is "imminent" again -- albeit in muted voices, because Obama is a Democrat, a Progessive, and an African-American. Don't wanna be racist, donchaknow...

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Rants at 03:16 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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