Running Commentary 5/16/2022

Running Commentary 5/16/2022

Moon Knight (Episode 6), The Batman, Red-Breasted Goose

Hello,

I was going to give some more thoughts on the recent Warframe update now that I finally have the new ’frame and have played the new levels a bunch while farming the new ‘frame, but there's apparently a slew of fixes and minor changes coming pretty soon, and I'll need something to fill this space next week as Obi-Wan Kenobi doesn't start until the week after, so I'm gonna hold off for now.

Anyway...

Watching...

Moon Knight

The season finale of Moon Knight was released the Wednesday before last, but since I took last week off for Mothers’ Day, I’m just getting to it now. Sorry to leave you waiting. Here are my notes:

Still from Moon Knight Twitter
  • As I was hopeful for after Episode 5, Moon Knight is the first Marvel Disney+ show that I’d say ended as strong as it began. The fight between Ammit and Khonshu probably should have been left out; even though it was just a visual metaphor for the actual fight between Moon Knight, Scarlet Scarab, and Harrow, it was a goofy-looking visual metaphor. But besides that this episode was good.
  • Scarlet Scarab is the character from this show I’d most expect to see appear in some cross-over movie later on. I’m not sure why the hippo goddess’s avatar is a scarab, or why said scarab has bird wings rather than beetle wings. Actually, I wonder if, in some early draft of this show, Taweret was actually Isis. It would make a lot more sense for Isis to greet people in the afterlife, and Layla’s winged armor looks a lot like how Isis was often depicted. Probably Taweret was supposed to be Isis, but that name is still kinda ruined by the Islamic State in Syria.
  • The third guy finally showed up, though if we want to see much of him, we’d better hope this show gets a second season. Which it might. I’d watch another.
  • Some thoughts on the show overall: This was Marvel’s best series since WandaVision. It had a solid story that was both more than a struggle against the villain (as was the case with the other Disney+ shows) and well-paced and clearly realized (as was not). One big thing that helped the show keep its focus was the complete lack of tie-ins to other. Now, I like how Marvel is able to make a big, inter-connected universe of stories, but each story really needs to be about what it’s about, not just about earlier stories and later stories and parallel alternate stories, which is the trap Loki fell into. Moon Knight is about Moon Knight, about Khonshu and Ammit, about Steven and Marc, not about anything else going on. Nothing happens just to set up some other show or movie; even if Scarlet Scarab becomes a part of the new Avengers, her role here made sense here.

The Batman

Speaking of superhero film that’s been out for a while...

Of all the long-running franchises out there, Batman films are one of the more interesting to examine. Batman has had more different screen portrayals than about any character not in the public domain, with each new iteration serving as a response to the previous one. TV’s Batman, portrayed by Adam West, was a parody of earlier pre-feature shorts, a self-serious character in a frivolous, cartoonish world. Tim Burton’s Batman responded by being a more maniacal character in a world where the villains were actually scary, to children especially. Joel Schumacher’s Batman responded by being a garish spectacle more fitting as Happy Meal toys. Christopher Nolan’s Batman responded with a super-realistic style drawn from crime films for adults, and, very uncharacteristically for superhero films, a closed ending. Zach Snyder’s Batman responded by being a part of an (if all went well, which it didn’t) unending mega-franchise set in a world filled with space aliens and magic. And now Matt Reeves has responded with a Batman that’s just so quintessentially Batman that one might even call it the Batman.

Or maybe not. As much as The Batman is a well-done Batman movie, very much deserving of its recently announced sequel, I don’t think it’s the sort of enduring take on the character that the Nolan films or the first Burton film were. There’s just not that much toe The Batman that we haven’t seen in with other Batmen. The ending (SPOILERS) where Batman comes to forward to rescue the people of Gotham from a flooded, collapsing building was something new for recent Batman films, something a bit more straightforwardly heroic, which I liked. I also liked how this Batman seems to have made his gear himself, maybe with Alfred’s help, rather than raiding an old warehouse full of Pentagon hardware that was too good to actually use.

I will agree with a lot of other reviews that this film is too long; I’m not sure what I’d cut, but the film is too long. At the point that Falcone had been killed and the Riddler captured, I checked and found that there were still forty minutes left.

Still, I’m all for a sequel. There are a lot of Batman villains, like Clayface or Mr. Freeze, who either have never been done or have at least never been done well in a film, that I could see working well in this Gotham city, which is surreal and stylized enough for more weird or genuinely super-powered foes to fit in.

They’ll probably just do Joker again.

Red-Breasted Goose.png

Bird of the Week

I have, to date, featured ten different ducks as the Bird of the Week. This is the first time that I’ve featured a goose. There is a difference between the two, and it’s not just that geese are generally bigger than ducks. Geese consistently have longer necks than ducks, and structurally different voiceboxes, but the main difference is their diet. Ducks can be plant-eaters or fish-eaters, depending on the species, and nearly always feed in the water. Geese, however, are all herbivore, but are happy to eat from terrestrial plants. So while ducks will always be found in or at least immediately near water, geese are often also found grazing in open fields.

As birds go, geese have a reputation for meanness and belligerence. This mostly is a result of their size; most birds respond to people by keeping a careful distance and fleeing at any direct approach. Geese don’t tend to run away, especially not when they have goslings. That said, they don’t tend to start trouble.

True geese are divided between two genera: Anser, the red-footed geese (which include domesticated geese), and Branta, the black-footed geese. As you might guess from the above illustration, the red-breasted goose is a Branta. It is, in fact, the rarest Branta goose; at time of writing there are estimated to be fewer than 100,000 mature individuals, and declining. (Compare to several of their cousins who number near the millions.) They winter along the coasts of the Black and Caspian Seas, and breed in northern Siberia, typically nesting near falcons and owls for protection against foxes and other predators.

Branta” derives from an Old Norse term meaning “burnt”, which was given to the largely black Brant, the type species for the genus. The species name is “ruficollis”, which is Latin for “red-necked”.

https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/secure.notion-static.com/638e24f8-1829-4965-b3fe-821b0e94dace/Feature.png

Color Spaces | Bartosz Ciechanowski

An interactive guide to the way colors are defined mathematically, a topic that is quite important in a world of screens and digital printers. Ciechanowski focuses largely on RGB color spaces, which is what much of the Web is defined in, but an understanding of these will improve one’s understanding of other types, like HSL and CMYK.

Nature Does Not Care | Richard Smyth, Aeon

“Nature writing that turns aside from detail, that comes from a place of rarefied factlessness, can feel to me unmoored, and adrift. In Wanderland, Reddy, searching for spiritual connection in the landscape, watches ‘a bird of prey soar[ing] overhead. A hush descends and the bird’s presence feels like a blessing. I can feel the emotion pouring from it, a kind of love and wildness and wisdom.’ It isn’t only that I don’t recognise this sort of connection with wild things (though I don’t): it’s that I can’t see any secure points of correspondence, any way to map the feeling to the facts.”

Kind of Blue | Matt Labash, Slack Tide

An essay on how a backyard family of bluebirds both amplified and assuaged hard moments of life.

Letters from a Fish | Goderdzi Chokheli, trans. Alex Niemi, Asymptote

[FICTION] In Soviet Sakartvelo, a worker, tired of living with the responsibilities of a human being, wanders out into a river to live a life of freedom as a fish.

See the full archive of curations on Notion