Running Commentary 10/17/2022
It’s been one of the prettier Falls here in Michigan that we’ve had for a few years. Have a photo:
We're halfway through the first season, with an episode spectacular enough to serve as a season finale. Here are my notes:
- The Eye, which has been teased for the past few episodes, did not disappoint. It's always a good time when sci-fi remembers that there might be strange phenomena in space that could be cool to watch. (We even have something like that on Earth: our solar eclipses. The fact that our moon is as much closer to our sun as it is smaller means that things can line up right to give us that famous halo effect. But you couldn't count on that being the case on every planet with a moon.)
- No Syril Karn, and very little Mon Mothma in this episode.
- The next episode I'd guess will be about Cassian resuming his search for his sister, which kinda got dropped after the early episodes.
- After The Bad Batch depicted the Empire as gun-grabbers, it was time for Andor to restore some political-commentary balance by showing them as still on the gold standard. In all seriousness, I saw an interesting Twitter thread speculating that the Clone Wars so ruined the Galactic banking system that electronic payments like actual militaries use couldn't happen due to a lack of payment system infrastructure. Personally, I think the Empire has to use hard cash because, as we saw when R2-D2 plugged into the Death Star and immediately had full access to prisoner manifests and trash compactor controls, network security isn't a thing in Star Wars, and you need network security for online banking.
- That dam didn't blow up like I thought it would.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law
Season 1 of the show has concluded. Here are my notes on the final two episodes:
- We finally got some superheroics in the show as She-Hulk and Daredevil teamed up to rescue the designer from Leap Frog, even if the scene did get undercut later when Jennifer circled back to check if she'd be getting her gown after all. The show has been really good about showing how women are consistently evaluated based on their appearance when it's not relevant, so it's weird that the single proactive action She-Hulk takes in the entire series is rewarded with a pretty dress.
- The scene of She-Hulk jumping out of the Disney+ menu and into the MCU writers' room to confront K.E.V.I.N. was…I won't say expected, since it's definitely not something I thought I'd see when the episode started, but it fit with the fourth-wall-breaking nature of the character enough that it wasn't a huge, jarring shock either. Overall, I think it was a funny sequence, and making the writing of the show itself the ultimate "villain" at the end worked, perhaps too well…
- This show was not terrible but was sort of inessential feeling (which fits right in with the larger Hulk franchise, really). Mostly, I was disappointed in the writing. Everything else was fine. Many scenes seemed cut short before they built any real steam, especially in the trial scenes. I actually saw that the writers said that they realized early on that they didn't know how to write courtroom scenes, so they avoided doing so as much as was possible in a show about trial lawyers. For Season 2, hopefully they can hire someone who can write courtroom scenes so we can have more of them. There's a lot of humor potential in juxtaposing the formal and familiar world of the legal system with the wacky and fantastical world of the superpowered, but that potential can really only be realized if the trial scenes actually happen and go on long enough to build comedic momentum.
- For a character who got second billing in the lead-up to the show and who had two whole episodes dedicated to her antics, Titania wound up a pointless element in this show. Literally every one of her scenes could have been cut.
- Full appraisal of the season: while I liked elements, as a whole I did not like this show. I know it has its fans, mostly people who found it funnier than I did, so your mileage may vary. After an interesting first couple of episodes, watching it felt like a chore and I probably would have given up on it were it not for the fact that I had started covering it for RC. 4/10
Bird of the Week
This week we're featuring an odd little bird from South Asia. The Malabar Whistling-Thrush is found in the hilly country along the western coast and across the upper boundary of peninsular India. Whistling-thrushes, of which there are nine species, all within the same genus, distributed throughout Asia, are primarily ground-dwelling songbirds, nesting on ledges or low branches and feeding on ground- or water-dwelling invertebrates. The Malabar whistling-thrush is particularly dependent on forest streams, as they feed almost exclusively on aquatic insects and snails.The whistling-thrushes are not, in fact, thrushes. While they were initially believed to be thrushes, they are now classified within the Old World Flycatcher family. (While we got better buntings and warblers, the Eastern Hemisphere definitely got the better flycatchers.) To me, they look most like starlings, what with their sharp faces and glossy feathers. Those feathers are actually the focus of considerable study. These birds see each other quite differently from how we see them; nearly all of a whistling-thrush's coloration is in the ultraviolet spectrum, and their blue color is only visible under the right lighting conditions.
Whistling-thrushes may not be thrushes, but they do whistle. Their songs are low, meandering melodies that sound eerily like the whistling of a human being. In India, the Malabar whistling-thrush is sometimes nicknamed the "whistling schoolboy". "Malabar" (not to be confused with "mallowbar", a similarly-named bar cookie) is a reference to the Malabar coast, a stretch of shoreline between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea that makes up part of the bird's range. The word derives from Arabic and was long used by foreigners to refer to what is now the Indian state of Kerala. To science, the bird is Myophonus horsfieldi, or "Horsfield's fly-slayer", so named in honor of Thomas Horsfield, a Pennsylvanian naturalist and friend of Benjamin Franklin who cataloged many species native to Indonesia, but who never traveled to India.
A Modest Apology for the Man in the Bottle (1749) | Hunter Dukes, The Public Domain Review
A look at a bizarre bit of entertainment history, when Victorian Londoners were promised a show wherein a man would jump fully inside a quart bottle. When crowds gathered, they were told that the man had been trapped in said bottle backstage and stolen away. Riots ensued.
The Secret Life of Leftovers | Nat Watkins, The New Atlantis
A piece on food waste, giving various measures one might take to avoid throwing out edible items (some more extreme than others).
How Do You Make the Perfect Toy? | Matthew Braga, The Walrus
Toys are an industry dominated by fads. Whatever is popular today will usually fade once it's audience outgrows it and will be long gone once the kids who loved it have their own kids. But some toys have real staying power. This piece explores the reasons why.
Concerning the Upstairs Bathroom | Kiera Lesley, Nightmare Magazine
[FICTION] "Congratulations on the purchase of your new home! I’m sorry to inform you I was not very upfront with the terms of sale and would feel guilty if I didn’t leave at least this letter in forewarning."
See the full archive of curations on Notion