Running Commentary 10/3/2022
I had a very busy weekend, so this newsletter is going out very late. It is still Monday here where I live, but it might be Tuesday where you live when this gets sent out.
The fourth episode seems to be kicking off the main plot of the series, as Cassian falls in with a Rebel cell for the first time. Here are my notes:
- This episode felt a lot more Star Wars-y than the first three; that’s down purely to the fact that we’re seeing the Empire now, with the attendant familiar costumes and sound effects. There’s also the fact that we’re back to featuring rebel cells vs. the Empire as our story.
- I’m not sure if this big payroll heist will be the next episode or the finale. I’m hoping it comes soon; as much as I think it’ll be a pretty spectacular episode (that dam’s definitely getting breached), I don’t want the entire season to build up to the one mission.
- I’m glad we’ll be seeing more of Syril Karn. He’s a genuinely good antagonist for this show. Up to this point, we really have no reason to hate him. He’s been shown in contrast to his corrupt supervisor, he’s investigating a legitimate homicide case, and he keeps suffering for it. You could easily re-work this show with him in the heroic role, if you wanted to.
- There are a lot of working TV actors in this show, which makes adding people to the List tricky. So far I haven’t seen anybody (besides Stellan Skårsgard) who starred in anything big enough to make them a celebrity performer, but, if you’re British, this show features some familiar faces.
- There’s a lot of buzz around Luthen name-dropping the Rakata. I’m more interested in what Andor intends to use that kyber crystal for.
- It occurs to me that, of the Disney+ series we’ve had thus far, The Mandalorian is the only one that feels like a TV show. It has a running plotline but still has distinct episodes. The Book of Boba Fett seems, more than anything, like one of the Star Wars comics put to screen, complete with cover-worthy imagery like Boba riding a rancor and the sort of pervading wackiness found in titles like Doctor Aphra. Obi-Wan Kenobi feels like a movie stretched across six episodes. So far, Andor feels like an adaptation of a novel, particularly one by Alexander Freed or James Luceno. It’s slow-paced and not really built around action scenes. It does a lot to develop every character with a line. And it really lacks anything made to appeal to kids.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law
The seventh episode sees our hero(?) stranded in the woods with a bunch of reformed(?) supervillains. Here are my notes:
- Incremental progress in Jen’s character development occurs in this episode, as she articulates her feelings of inadequacy when compared to She-Hulk. We, the audience, picked up on this a while ago, but the fact that she’s realizing it’s a problem means that the show might finally really start to move forward with her character.
- Blonsky was the best part of the earlier episodes, so it’s good to see him back again. There’s actually a bit of mystery set up in this episode regarding what Blonsky’s game is. The whole situation of “whoops my inhibitor shorted out better come check on me and oh no my friends accidentally destroyed your car and wouldn’cha know there’s no cell service out here” does really seem like a setup of some sort, but I’m not sure whether Blonsky is in on it or if it’s just the Wrecking Crew, or what.
- There are two episodes left. I’m not sure what this show can do to get to the obvious ending of She-Hulk finally taking up the responsibilities of being a superhero. Who knows? Maybe she won’t. This show has featured a lot of people with powers who don’t use them for anything spectacular. Maybe Jen will just be one of them by the end.
Another new month, another DevStream to cover:
- The re-balancing of AoE weapons is still an ongoing process. DE is considering bringing back self-damage, though with some changes compared to how it used to be implemented to ensure you can’t kill yourself accidentally. This may or may not matter; although I do remember that when self-damage was removed, a lot of players started using explosive weapons more frequently, but that’s also around the time that a lot of the good explosive weapons were introduced to the game.
- DE has heard complaints about the Archons being tedious bullet sponges, and they are working on fixing that…somehow. They didn’t mention any immediate fixes, but it seems we can expect tweaks rather than re-works.
- With all the work they have to do still for the Duviri Paradox, DE will not be adding more Kahl missions beyond the three we’ve seen in the immediate future. They will be adding to/changing the mission challenges, though. Apparently, the mostly forgotten-about rework of Ven’kra Tel and Sprag will factor into this. I’ve found the Kahl missions to be an inconsistent experience, but some of the changes, especially letting us keep our progress on some of the collectibles challenges, will make them better overall.
- This week we’ll be getting Revenant Prime. If you’re confused as to how there’s a Revenant Prime, given what we know of Revenant’s origins, you’re not alone. Ballas also has know idea what Revenant Prime is, or where he came from. Personally, I’m more excited for the Phantasma Prime, considering that the Phantasma is quietly one of the best primary weapons in the game.
- Nights of Naberus is returning for Halloween. The rewards are the same as last time, plus a couple of new bits of decoration and, for some reason, the Sheev, in case you really hate playing invasions but really love mediocre daggers. Overall, if you don’t have the two ephemeras, they both look pretty good on certain frames, so I’d prioritize those. The rest of the rewards I personally don’t think are worth the effort.
- DE’s breast cancer charity drive will be this moth, and, as usual, there will be some special pink cosmetics to be had through donation milestones.
- The werewolf frame is still next in the pipeline. DE apparently was trying to make sure the default colors were good. Honestly, it must be weird to be in charge of something that every player immediately sets about overwriting. Like, imagine being the designer of the Calibri font. This is something similar.
- DE is working on an ephemera displaying your equipped Archon shards by making your ‘frame look like one of those hilarious Julius Caesar knife blocks.
- More ammo changes are coming, but this time they’re just changes in appearance. The pickups are getting re-designed. They new look looks better, but also looks a bit less distinctive, which could be a problem.
Bird of the Week
This week we’re featuring one of my favorite under-rated songbirds. The Brown Thrasher is a long-tailed, robin-sized bird, a member of a family of long-tailed, robin-sized birds known as the mimids. which also includes the mockingbirds. Like its cousins, the brown thrasher is known for singing the songs of other songbirds. While their season of singing is relatively short, the male brown thrasher possesses the largest repertoire of songs of any bird in its range. Upon finding a prominent perch, the thrasher will sing continuously in repeating melodic phrases. While some of the phrases are borrowed from neighboring songbirds, most are original. Each phrase is sung two or three times before the bird moves on to the next. Singing sessions can continue for minutes on end.
Brown thrashers are found throughout North America east of the Rocky Mountains, spending the breeding season in the northern U.S. and southern Canada before going south for the winter. The American Southeast is home to thrashers year-round, while parts of Texas and New Mexico only see them during the winter.
This bird is a true omnivore, eating everything from seeds to berries to insects to small vertebrates, including salamanders. Thrashers can tell the difference between different species of salamander and will avoid toxic ones. They have been reported to pick the undigested bits out of excrement left by farm animals.
The brown thrasher has gone by many names. Mark Catesby, who did much of the early work of cataloging American flora and fauna for European audiences, called it the “fox-colored thrush”. while Audubon would later feature it as the “ferruginous thrush” in his Birds of North America. Audubon’s painting depicts the birds fighting off a snake that has set to raiding their nest for eggs, an episode Audubon claimed to have witnessed. Audubon lamented the fact that he could not pass along the birds song as he could its appearance. Thankfully I, giving my own depiction and account of the bird nearly two hundred years later, can point my readers to the Macaulay Library’s collection of brown thrasher audio. Catesby, Audubon, and Linnaeus all considered this bird a thrush, and it’s easy to see why, given its decidedly thrush-like appearance and habits. But mimids are not considered thrushes today, but are placed in their own family, which has been found to be most closely related to the starlings and mynas. To modern scientists the brown thrasher is Toxostoma rufum, which translates from Latin to “reddish-brown [bird] with a curved mouth”.
Wacky Jabber | Douglas Hofstadter, Inference
An essay by an American who has learned Swedish, who subsequently wrote a paragraph of pseudo-Swedish gibberish as a joke, then fed said paragraph into several language translation engines as an experiment.
What is nougat, and why is it in every candy bar? | Adam Ragusea
[VIDEO] Nougat is at the core, literally, of most popular candy bars (and many unpopular ones, for that matter). But it’s rarely found by itself, or in any other context. In this video, Ragusea investigates just what nougat is, why its such a popular ingredient in just a single sort of food, and how it differs from marshmallow, its better understood culinary cousin. (12 minutes)
What Did Axios Do? | Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic
A look at the way the owners of news site Axios tried to use their employee base to get their new book onto bestsellers lists. This curation is here less due to its content and more due to the amusing parody of the Axios style Meyer writes it in.
New Look, Same Great Look | Kim Beil, Lapham’s Quarterly
A history of color photography and of the way it shaped our understanding of seeing colors. Much of human visual perception relies on the brain making sense of the raw image sent from the eyes. A camera is just an eye, and early color cameras would produce images that simply looked wrong, even though they were a very literal representation of their subjects. The science of color grading is what gives modern photographs a “more realistic” look (that is, a chromatically distorted view of the world that suitably matches our own).
Foxhole | Timothy Zahn, Baen
[FICTION] Excerpted from the anthology Battle Luna. “Something has been uncovered on the Moon that might have great scientific and economic importance. The Lunar colony is a mining colony with only internal security capabilities. Nobody had even considered that there might someday arise a need to defend the colony from the Earth! But that day has come.”
See the full archive of curations on Notion