There’s a lot this week, so I won’t spend even more of your time on an involved introduction. Let’s go…
The Mandalorian Chapter 15 released Friday. Here are my notes. SPOILERS
- I think this is the first episode of this show to just not have Grogu in it at all.
- Rick Famuyiwa returns to direct this episode. His episodes in the last season were my least favorite, but this one I really liked. It’s this and the premiere for me, so far, when it comes to favorite Season 2 episodes.
- The New Republic has labor camps, apparently.
- Bill Burr is better here than the last time we saw him. He has more talking to do in this episode, and less gunfighting, so I think this episode just played more to his strengths.
- I really liked the touch where, when Djarrin climbs out on top of the juggernaut, he took a lot of shots that blew off chunks of his armor, since he was wearing cheap Imperial plasteel instead of his beskar, and he didn’t think to dodge as much as he should have.
The Mandalorian’s second season will be wrapping up this Friday, and we won’t be getting a third season for another year’s time after that, but there’ve been announced plenty of Star Wars things that will be coming out starting next year.
Some we knew about: Cassian Andor’s show was announced the same time as The Mandalorian, back when Disney+ was first getting started. It’s going to be from the writer of Rogue One and the Jason Bourne films, and I expect it will be pretty good. And there’s also the Obi-wan Kenobi limited series, which fans have called for for a while now. The “Bad Batch” from the 7th season of The Clone Wars are getting their own show, which will be set during the rise of the Empire. I didn’t think much of the Bad Batch from what we’ve seen so far; they’re kind of one-note characters. But maybe they’ll be better developed in their own show.
The Ahsoka series hadn’t been officially announced, but it seemed likely considering Tano’s appearance in The Mandalorian. I’m guessing this will serve as the sequel series to Rebels that has so long been anticipated. There’s also a series centered around Lando Calrissian, which we don’t know much about but that people have generally thought might be a good idea, particularly since Solo.
Much less is known about everything else announced. The Rogue Squadron film will be from Patty Jenkins of the Wonder Woman franchise. It will presumably be about Wedge Antilles and crew, though the story will not be the same as the games of the same name. Visions will be an anthology from anime creators. Rangers of the New Republic will be set concurrently with Ahsoka and The Mandalorian, and might be about Cara Dune, or the two pilots who chased Mando and the Frog Lady into the ice cave, or about someone else, we don’t know. The Acolyte will be about darksiders at the end of the High Republic era. I’ll keep you posted as more is learned.
Bird of the Week
This week we have the Prothonotary Warbler, which is my favorite warbler, for what that’s worth. Where most warblers are at least a bit yellow, this one is the most yellow. Like other warblers, they’re small, darting things that live in the woods, near water. Unlike other warblers, they tend to nest in cavities, especially old woodpecker holes. Lawrence H. Walkinshaw, the crane watcher and dentist who is probably the most important ornithologist from Michigan, said they preferred the holes bored by Downy Woodpeckers, specifically.
Perhaps you’re a Delaware trial lawyer and you know what a “prothonotary” is, but even so, you probably wonder what a little yellow bird has done to earn such a name. A prothonotary is the chief clerk of a courtroom in certain states, Canada, and much of the rest of the English-speaking world. The word comes from “protonotarius”, a word meaning “first scribe” in the Greek-Latin hybrid spoken in the Byzantine Empire, which was applied to the highest ranking administrators and accountants in the famously tangled bureaucracy of Constantinople. Protonotarii wore golden robes, and so they were recalled by Georges-Louis Leclerc when he saw a specimen of this bird brought back to pre-Revolutionary France from Louisiana. Leclerc also had a name meaning “scribe”, but he was, in fact, a scientist of many disciplines as well as the Count of Buffon. In the process of his survey of North American animals, he got into a quarrel with his closest American counterpart, Thomas Jefferson when he declared American wildlife generally inferior to that of Eurasia. Jefferson sent him a moose, which was larger than any French deer.
I should mention another episode of American history this bird was related to: the early Cold War’s search for communist spies. Alger Hiss, a government official who was accused of being a spy by former communist and Time editor Whitaker Chambers, had denied before Congress even knowing who Chambers was. But Chambers recalled a time he and Hiss had gone bird-watching, and Hiss had spied a prothonotary warbler in the trees near the Potomac River. When questioned if he had seen a prothonotary warbler in a separate session, Hiss said yes. This and other statements earned Hiss a perjury conviction.
I’d just like to let my readers know that Digital Extremes and Epic Games have reunited, with Warframe now being offered on the Epic Store. To celebrate, DE has made a few weapon skins in the style of weapons from Unreal Tournament, which, as I mentioned in my Warframe review, DE and Epic had jointly developed. If you install Warframe through the Epic Store, you can also get a bundle with these skins and the weapons they’re for. That’s three free primary weapons, which are all pretty good. The promotion ends on Christmas Eve, so get going if you want to pick the bundle up.
I’ll start by saying that Shatter performed really well this week. That bot has set the standard, in my mind, for hammer bots.
Our lesson in bot design this week is:
Have a plan for being upside-down.
You can have some self-righting mechanism, as Witch Doctor and Rusty do. You can be invertible, and still be able to drive and attack while upside-down, like many drum spinners. You can have a weapon that can flip you back over, like Bronco. You can have a tremendous moment of angular momentum that keeps you from flipping over to begin with; many horizontal spinners take this approach. Tracer had nothing, sadly.
Black Dragon vs. Kraken ended in a controversial split decision. I agree with the judges; while Kraken certainly controlled much of the fight, Black Dragon was more aggressive and did more damage.
The most entertaining bout of the night was Mammoth vs. Huge. That was honestly one of the best fights in BattleBots, period. It was an incredibly close match, with Huge very nearly crippling Mammoth several times. Mammoth had only one path to victory, but they were able to take it.
Most impressive rookie of the night goes to Claw Viper, which proved itself durable, quick, and able to stay in control of the fight. I can see this bot winning many more matches this season.
Perfect Phoenix, aka Tombstone, Jr., had the most decisive win of the night, a one-hit knockout that was very much Ray Billings’ style being emulated. I’ve seen some grumbling that the bot is just Paul Ventimiglia’s Brutality under a new name and ownership, which, yes, is certainly true, but I don’t expect that pre-teens would be building bots from scratch.
The main event was between Hydra and Witch Doctor. I will concur with Jake Ewart that Witch Doctor is one of the more overrated bots in the competition. I’ve always thought they gained fans more through schtick than performance. That said, I would also call Hydra overrated. They coasted into last season’s tournament off of wins against the likes of Free Shipping and War Hawk, as well as a very off-their-game Bronco, only to be eliminated immediately after contact with actual top-tier bots. Even in this match, Hydra barely won.
What’s Going on with the Way Canadians Say “About”? | Dan Nosowitz, Atlas Obscura
A look at one of the defining features of Canadian English. Commonly imitated by Americans as “a boot”, the actual way “about” is pronounced in the Great White North is much weirder.
How to Make a Website | Kaitlyn Tiffany, The Atlantic
A profile of instructional website wikiHow, and its co-founder Jack Herrick.
After Centuries, a Seemingly Simple Math Problem Gets an Exact Solution | Steve Nadis, Quanta Magazine
If you have a circular fence enclosing an area of 1 acre, and a goat is tied up inside to the post of said fence, how long should it’s rope be for it to reach exactly half an acre of grass? It’s a harder question to answer than you’d expect, but mathematician Ingo Ullisch has finally found the answer:
World War II’s Worst Airplane | D. C. Agle, Air & Space Magazine
A history of the Bachem Ba 349 Natter, a vertically-launched rocket that was also an airplane made of wood, intended to be deployed as an interceptor. It didn’t work.