Hello. It’s the middle of November. Christmas is just over a month away, but it isn’t Christmastime yet. The leaves are off the trees, at least here in Michigan. That might have more to due with the high winds than the lateness into Fall. Even the ornamental Bartlett pear trees have lost their leaves; that sometimes doesn’t happen until January. That’s something to keep in mind. Yes, they look beautiful in the spring and they provide good shade in the summer, but you’ll be clearing leaves out of the snow for most of the winter.
Anyway, there’s a lot to cover, so let’s get into it.
The Mandalorian Chapter 11 released Friday, picking up from the end of Chapter 10. Here are my notes. SPOILERS
- I knew Bo-Katan Krieze would be in this from the title card. Granted, I was expecting her to show up sometime, considering that Katee Sackhoff had been cast in this season. I’m expecting her to return in a later episode, since she’s pursuing the Darksaber, and series recurring villain Moff Gideon still holds it.
- Glad to see everything work out for the Frogs.
- The Quarren in this episode look better than they ever have before. I’m not sure if they were CG or animatronic, but the old rubber mask look has been really upgraded. Also, apparently Quarren sound Texan.
- Add character actor Titus Welliver and pro wrestler Sasha Banks to the List.
- 3/3 for good action in Season 2. Bryce Dallas Howard returns from Season 1, where she directed some of the better action sequences. Good stuff.
- It ends with Djarrin off to seek the Jedi on Caladan, so…⊃∪∩⪽ crossover?
I also watched Ant-Man again, having been reminded of it by the last episode of The Mandalorian being directed by Peyton Reed. Still a good time.
Bird of the Week
This week’s bird is not an oriole, let’s get that out of the way first. It is the Blackburnian Warbler, and I picked it because I think I saw one this past week. I wasn’t able to get a great look at it; I wasn’t properly birdwatching at the time, and I didn’t have my binoculars. Also, warblers being what they are, it didn’t stay still for very long. It was definitely a warbler. It was yellow-orange in front and grey in the back, and it had a dark stripe across its eye. Having reviewed my Sibley guide, I’m reasonably certain it was a Blackburnian, probably a female.
In any case, the Blackburnian warbler is native to Michigan, but only parts further north than me. The males are among the easier-to-spot members of their family, owing to their habit of sitting at the top of pine trees and being bright orange. This time of year, they’re headed south to the Gulf and Central America, and further to northern South America, where they overwinter.
The name “Blackburnian” is a tribute to Anna Blackburne, a 18th Century British naturalist and correspondent with Carolus Linnaeus, the Swedish zoologist who developed the standard Latin names given to living things. Linnaeus nor Blackburne ever likely saw this bird alive, though Blackburne had a collection of dead specimens sent back from New York by her brother, Ashton Blackburne, which seems to have included one of these birds.
I’ve played as Xaku pretty exclusively since last week, and my impression is that Xaku is a fun frame, but not a personal favorite. They have a very active playstyle but not a lot of great direct damage output abilities. Their 2 is better as a CC ability than a damage one, as the guns you steal don’t do a ton of damage; you might clean up some really low-level enemies, or take out the last 2% of health after shooting a tougher foe with your real gun, but those are the only kills you’ll get. That said, your 1 is maybe the best gun buff in the game. The changes to Void procs go nicely here, and the duration on the 1 is plenty long if you mod right. The damage bonus isn’t great by itself, but considering this is the only way to add void damage to your non-amp weapons, and considering that Void-procced enemies now vacuum headshots, there’s a real motivation to keep Xaku’s 1 up all the time. Xaku’s compound 3 ability isn’t great, and it’s clunky to switch and cast. I don’t bother with it. Xaku’s 4 is fun and goes well with their 1. It also gives serious damage reduction, which is good because Xaku is very squishy.
Going forward, I’m looking forward to the Deimos Arcana update, and farming the new prime stuff.
BattleBots 2020 season has somehow been done despite the pandemic, and it will air on the Discovery Channel starting December 3rd. Expect recaps in this space once that starts.
The Fitzgerald’s Last Companion | Neal Rubin, The Detroit News
This past week was the 45th anniversary of the most famous shipwreck in the history of the Great Lakes, the sinking of iron hauler SS Edmund Fitzgerald, which had set out from Duluth ore docks for the Zug Island blast furnaces when it encountered high waves and was sunk.
In this piece for The Detroit News, Neal Rubin profiles the SS Arthur M. Anderson and her crew, who were the last to contact the Fitzgerald before it sank.
The Internet’s First Election | Ernie Smith, Tedium
A look back at the 1992 Bush-Clinton-Perot presidential election, the first one held in the Internet age. As usual, the better share of attention is paid to Perot, whose tech-forward campaign had reaching effects far past his political aspirations.
“None Pizza with Left Beef”, Ten Years Later | Brian Feldmen, Intelligencer
I’ll preface this that this article is three years old; this isn’t another anniversary link. Feldman interviews Steve Molaro, a comedy writer who, in late 2007, stretched the limits of Domino’s Pizza’s new online order form by purchasing a bare disk of bread with hamburger sprinkled across one side.
EXCLUSIVE: The Sofa Shop Interviews | Brady Haran, The Unmade Podcast
[AUDIO] Okay, so this one takes some context: Brady Haran is a video and podcast host on many projects, most notably the YouTube channel Numberphile, which is mainly about mathematics. Tim Hein is a minister and theology professor. They are both from Adelaide, Australia, and are childhood friends. Together, they are the hosts of The Unmade Podcast, a podcast in which they discuss ideas for podcasts, since they couldn’t decide what their podcast would be about and eventually settled on that being what their podcast would be about. Are you following?
Anyway, one of their earlier podcasts was about how advertising jingles stick in the mind when things you actually want to remember are forgotten. As an example, Haran brought up the jingle for now-bought-out Adelaide furniture store The Sofa Shop. And that jingle did indeed stick in the heads of the people who heard it played in the episode. It became a sort of second theme song for the podcast. Listeners began recording their own cover versions of the tune and sending them in to be played in future episodes. It became a whole thing.
In this special episode, Haran returns to Adelaide to interview the men behind the jingle, singer Carmine Scalzi and writer/producer Quentin Eyers, who had no idea people from around the world had come to love their song about matching uphostry to curtains, etc. Worth a listen if you’re interested in one of the least glamorous corner of the music industry.
Exploding Whale 50th Anniversary, Remastered! | KATU News
[VIDEO] 50 years ago, Lane County, Oregon, decided to blow up the carcass of a beached whale with dynamite. The fact that the local news station has remastered the report and posted it to YouTube should be argument enough in favor of watching it.