Running Commentary 2/8/2021

Running Commentary 2/8/2021

Hello,

Hello,

It will not stop snowing.

Anyway…

Watching…

WandaVision

Episode 5 of WandaVision released on Friday. Elizabeth Olson in hilarious huge curly hair has arrived. *SPOILERS*

They might be laughing now, but the ’80s sitcoms they’re spoofing were more sappy than funny | Photo Credit: WandaVision Twitter
  • So far, none of the actors playing Tommy and Billy were even born yet when Iron Man released in 2008.
  • This is the first sitcom episode not to feature hexagons in the opening credits, so far as I can tell. If I missed one, let me know.
  • This episode did at least as much to establish what’s actually going on as the last one. Wanda has some control over what’s going on, but not complete control, which does raise the question of where the rest of the WandaVision world comes from.
  • The big exciting thing this episode came at the very end, when Quicksilver from the X-Men movies appeared at the door. (I have never seen an X-Men film all the way through, although it seems Disney+ has about half of them. I’m sure the rest will come as the rights get untangled.) It thus seems that the X-Men universe and the MCU will be kept as separate universes, which I think is best.
  • There’s a reference to an aerospace engineer in this episode, pretty clearly setting something up. Maybe it’ll be a cameo from James Rhodes, who is one, as far as some cursory research suggests. There are also rumors swirling that it will be either Reed Richards or Sue Storm, setting up the upcoming Fantastic Four MCU entry. We’ll just have to wait and see.
  • Vision has mostly figured out that something’s up. Who knows if that will carry forward.
  • Where many of the townspeople are under a sort of mind control, it appears that Agnes is not, and is going along with the sitcom schtick of her own free will.

BattleBots

Shatter continued to impress with their offbeat take on durability, with their ablative armor allowing them to tank hits from Captain Shredderator until, true to form, the Captain wore itself out. Then Shatter had the opportunity to just beat on a big, flat piece of plastic.

Gigabyte won over Claw Viper, largely due to Claw Viper’s driving being pretty poor. I think Claw Viper has a lot of potential, being as fast and as durable as it is, but Milczewski needs more practice keeping the dual motors working in sync.

Chomp’s weakness became apparent in its loss this week. Hyjinx, with it’s low-slung, high-reach weapon, seemed almost purpose-built to defeat Chomp, but the shield around the Chomp’s legs really doesn’t seem durable enough. With only one win this season, it’s possible Chomp doesn’t make the tournament

There was a big project in the pits to replace Witch Doctor’s weapon disks, and it seems to have paid off with their win over Slammow. I’m not sure if it will be enough to keep them in the tournament, but there’s always a chance, especially since their losses were due to those bad disks.

That’ll be our bot building tip of the week, though it’s really an everything building tip: Hardness and durability are opposites. I know that seems wrong at first glance, but go try to break a pond. The only way you can is to freeze it solid first. So when you’re picking a metal, you’re going to have to balance hardness and durability. Make it too hard, and it will break under stress.

Big upset of the night is Extinguisher defeating Gruff. That’s maybe thematically fitting. Extinguisher probably should have been using it’s disk spinner this whole time.

We had a fight between the two Billings proteges, and, unsurprisingly, Perfect Phoenix won.

The main match between Copperhead and Black Dragon was a really brutal match, with Copperhead winning out in the end. In a season with no Minotaur, Copperhead is my pick for best drum spinner.

Bird of the Week

This week, we have an older drawing of mine, so please excuse the bad scan.

This is the Woodland Kingfisher, a bird found throughout the forests and jungles of sub-Saharan Africa. Both males and females of the species share the same vivid blue wings and red bills.

The woodland kingfisher is the type species of its genus. A “type species” is the species classified in a certain genus that represents the characteristics of that genus’s members generally. In this case, the woodland kingfisher (Halcyon senegalensis) is the type species of Halcyon, which is, in turn, the type genus of the sub-family Halcyoninae, the tree kingfishers, which also includes the kookaburras of Australia. These, despite being kingfishers, do not primarily live near water or eat fish; rather, they watch the forest floor for small animals or invertebrates.

Senegalensis means “from Senegal”, referring to a country on the Western coast of Africa which might be where the birds were first encountered by Europeans. “Halcyon” you might recognize as a word referring to simpler, peaceful times past. This sense of the word comes from an ancient Greek myth of Halkyone, one of the Pleiades who, in grief, threw herself into the sea and became a kingfisher capable of calming storms, hence, “halcyon” meaning peaceful. Halcyon senegalensis and its kin were named after the same myth by the British naturalist and illustrator William John Swainson. In addition to being the namesake of several birds, Swainson was a noted proponent of Quinarianism, a now-outmoded idea that every taxonomic group was one of five groups that made up a larger group and could be further divided into five smaller groups.

The Strange History of the “King-Pine” | Nina-Sophia Miralles, The Paris Review

A history of pineapples in European art, where they served as a symbol of royalty and luxury in the days before modern shipping.

Inside the Murky World of Butterfly Catchers | Matthew Teague, National Geographic

[INCLUDES SHORT VIDEO] A profile of Indonesian butterfly hunters, and the international market in pinned specimens that sells their catch.

At the Flip of a Switch | Sandy Isenstadt, Places Journal

A comprehensive history of the light switch, the ubiquitous device that “domesticated electricity”

Crossing Language Barriers with Food | Keith Conrad, The Greatest Story Ever Podcast

[AUDIO] An interview with Andrew Donaldson (the managing editor of Ordinary Times, which has featured a couple of pieces I wrote) about how a West Virginian became an honored guest at an Italian restaurant in Germany. 24 minutes.