He wrote largely of Formula One racing and military history, with an emphasis on the Battle of Midway. There were also rubber ducks, baseball, music, his job and events in his life. And there was anime. The Duck and I had very different tastes, and partly for that reason he was always valuable reading. When we both liked something — Yuru Camp, Roy Clark, etc. — the chances are that it really was good.
There are about eighteen years of vigorous, entertaining writing at the Pond. Pick a random month and browse; you’ll probably find something worth reading. My favorite posts are the series of episode reviews for the utterly ridiculous Rio Rainbow Gate in early months of 2011, starting January 5 and continuing through April 15. The show’s brazen combination of illogic and fanservice provided a splendid opportunity for the Duck to employ his gifts for snark and sarcasm. If Rio is mentioned in future histories of animation, it will be for providing Wonderduck a suitable target, just as Colley Cibber is remembered because of Alexander Pope’s satires.
In memory of Eric Carra, I’ll watch a few episodes of Azumanga Daioh tonight.
A long, long time ago I came across a humorous/satirical website called The Lemon. It’s long gone now; as far as I can tell all that remains is the panel reproduced here. It was the work of Shamus Young, one of the crew who hung around Steven Den Beste’s place. He was perceptive and insightful on gaming, anime and whatever else caught his attention. Over the years he focused increasingly on gaming, but even so he was still worth reading. He wrote well, and his detailed analyses and critiques of games were interesting even to non-gamers like me.
And he was funny. The Lemon may be gone, but DM of the Rings, the one good result of the Peter Jackson catastrophe, is there to read on his website, as is Chainmail Bikini. It is not necessary to have played D&D to enjoy them.
Shamus’s autobiography worth reading, too. His account of his ordeals in grade school is sufficient reason utterly reform or just flat eliminate the education establishment. It starts here.
For quite a long time, the four years from April 2012 to April 2016 were missing from the archives of Pixy Misa’s mee.nu weblog ecosystem. A few days ago Pixy ran a script to restore the absent pages. At last one can once more read everything that the Brickmuppet, Wonderduck and similar eccentrics posted back then.
I am particularly pleased to be able to read all of Steven Den Beste’s Chizumatic again. Finally I can review his observations on Mouretsu Pirates, Girls und Panzer and Gate, as well as the frequently extensive discussions in the comments. There are also occasional trenchant remarks on the political clownshow mixed in with the anime cheesecake. The restored pages start here and run through here.
Charles G. Hill, perspicacious observer, superior wit, and brony, passed away last September. Although his death was not unexpected, it was a bitter loss. However, we did have over twenty years’ worth of commentary at his website to peruse at our leisure. Or so I thought, until just now when I clicked on the link to Dustbury and saw the above.
… Ol’ Robbo can really get behind this “social distancing” thing. Hey, I was a misanthropic shut-in before it was cool to be a misanthropic shut-in!
“Social distancing” is one of the methods by which I’ve preserved my sanity through the years. With a well-stocked freezer, I won’t need to go anywhere for weeks, perhaps months. Coping with this week’s apocalyptic threat requires no changes in my behavior. At worst, I’ll miss a few meetings. That is not a problem.
Um, if all you’re buying is water, toilet paper, and rice, you’re preparing for a very peculiar apocalypse. What, you’re gonna sit on the porch in the dark boiling bottled water over a toilet-paper stove to cook your rice as the zombies roam the neighborhood looking for brains? Relax, you’ve just proven that you’re safe from them.
For years, one of my first stops every morning after cranking up the computer was Dustbury. There would always be something new and worth reading. The proprietor, Charles G. Hill, a self-described “generalist and occasional wiseguy,” was intelligent and insightful. He was witty and clever, too, very good with bad puns, and an unabashed brony. He was always a pleasure to read. One of the few things I looked forward to on Mondays was his weekly survey of search terms leading to his site, with a wisecrack for each item. His familiarity with obscure popular music rivaled that of the Professor, and he had a healthy appreciation of fine stemware.
It wasn’t all wisecracks at Dustbury, though. Hill struggled with depression all his life. During the past few years he faced worsening problems with health and mobility. His “Vents” were often painful to read, and other posts could be disturbing. Although our interaction was limited to occasionally leaving a comment at each other’s site, I worried about him.
If there is such a thing as a “national treasure” on the internet, it’s Charles G. Hill’s site. The text deserves to be printed on acid-free paper and available in libraries for ages to come. I hope someone capable steps up to preserve Dustbury, as Pixy Misa and J Greely did for Steven Den Beste’s sites.
When perusing Dustbury, be sure to check the tabs at the top of the page, as well as the main blog. There you will find much else of interest, such as his profile with Norm Geras:
What would you do with the UN?
I’m not quite sure, but I expect it involves dynamite….
Do you have any prejudices you’re willing to acknowledge?
I shun anyone who can speak the word ‘multicultural’ with a straight face.
Last Sunday marked the second year since Steven Den Beste’s last post. The internet has not been the same since he’s been gone. I miss checking Chizumatic first thing when I crank up the computer in the morning. He was by far the most indefatigable commenter here, and seeing his avatar when I review old posts is a bittersweet pleasure.
I discovered Chizumatic 1.0 when I looked for commentary on Serial Experiments Lain. What Steven Den Beste wrote made more sense than anything else I’d read, so I made Chizumatic a regular stop on my internet rounds. When he praised Haibane Renmei, I watched it and was impressed, and duly mentioned him on my weblog. To my surprise, he linked back to me, complaining that I had misspelled his name. Thereafter we occasionally posted links to each other’s sites, and during the past ten years he left many, many comments at my various websites, far more than anyone else. He wrote his last comment here the day before his last post.
It may be presumptuous of me to think so, but I came to regard him as a friend, albeit one whom I was unlikely ever to meet. I was glad whenever I could do him a favor, such as download an unlicensed series he was interested in. Through him I found such eccentric characters as Ubu, the Brickmuppet, Wonderduck, J Greely, Aziz, Pete, and many others. Steven was notoriously prickly and seemingly unsociable, but I think he enjoyed being part of an online community, as demonstrated by his enthusiastic particpation in our comment boxes.
I knew Steven was in failing health and near the end of his life, but losing him hurts. Still, I’m grateful for ten years of engineer’s disease, perceptive discussions of anime, music, history, technology and whatever was on his mind, accounts of beaver engineering and waterfowl behavior, and everything else, all expressed in clear, logical, readable prose.
Various tributes to and memories of Steven can be found aggregated here and here.
Those of us with blogs, we need to post cheesecake in [Steven Den Beste’s] memory. I think he’d like that.
Steven did indeed like pictures of pretty girls. However, I don’t share his taste for cheesecake. Instead, I grabbed several thousand of the pictures from the header at Chizumatic and assembled them into a slide show with music from Girls und Panzer. The pictures flash by at a rate of five per second; epileptics beware.