Running Commentary 3/22/2021
4 min read

Running Commentary 3/22/2021

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Episode 1), Common Grackle


First off, if you haven’t seen it yet, my review of Star Wars: Into the Dark posted last Thursday. If you’ve read it and want my thoughts, or if you’re wondering how The High Republic stuff is going since Light of the Jedi, give it a read.

In other Star Wars book news, I’ve finished reading Victory’s Price, the conclusion to Alexander Freed’s Alphabet Squadron trilogy. A review of that should be coming shortly, but if all you’re waiting on is my recommendation to read it, you have it. Freed wraps things up very well. The trilogy, as a whole, is some of the best Star Wars ever made, and you should definitely read it.

Also, this May the First will be the thirtieth anniversary of the publishing of Heir to the Empire, and I’ve decided to do a piece looking back at Thirty Years of Thrawn. I have lots of reading to do for that, but hopefully it will be worth it.



The premiere episode of Falcon and the Winter Soldier went up on Disney+ this past Friday. It was a really promising start to a show more in line with what might be expected from the MCU. Here’s my notes: SPOILERS

Image from Falcon and the Winter Soldier Twitter
  • Falcon and the Winter Soldier share no scenes in this first episode. Boole would say the show is more Falcon or the Winter Soldier, so far.
  • Giving Sam Wilson a family was a good call. The Bartons’ inclusion in Age of Ultron gave that film some much-needed grounding. The same is true here, with the Wilsons. The idea that superheroes might have money troubles has been a thing in many Spiderman films, but with so many superheroes being billionaires, or the beneficiaries of billionaires, in their spare time, this sets Falcon apart and gives him a relatable plot conflict.
  • Bucky’s story was engaging to watch, but I don’t think it could hold a whole series. Thankfully, I don’t think it will, once he and Sam team up to…stop the new Captain America from doing something, I’d imagine.
  • This show has a budget, clearly. The opening action sequence in Tunisia was up there with anything from the movies.

March Madness

I’m not going to cover the NCAA basketball tournament like I did BattleBots, but I will say that I’ve seen a lot of teams, particularly Ohio State, losing games on the basis of missed free throws, so it seems a good idea to remind the world that I’ve explained how to make a free throw, with diagrams and equations and everything. Go ahead and share that link around to anyone you think could do to read it.

Bird of the Week

Birds, many of whom migrate from region-to-region as weather changes, are often used as signs of the changing of the seasons. Most especially, they serve as signs of spring. Here in Michigan, we have several birds that people watch out for to predict the end of our long winters. Robins are a popular one, and more savvy types might go with the red-winged blackbird, but I say, if you want to know it’s spring, really spring, when it’s warm enough to go outside and stay outside, watch for the grackles.

The Common Grackle has been a favorite bird of mine since I was very young. I like their shiny blue heads, mostly. But I’ll be the first to admit they’re not the most lovable birds. Roughly as large as blue jays, grackles will menace, or even kill, other birds at feeders. They’re also farm pests. As songbirds go, they barely quality, sending out a harsh, shrieking graaek that sounds like a rusty gate being opened. Still, they’re a sure sign of warm weather. Just yesterday, it was warm enough for me to go duck-spotting without a coat, and, sure enough, I saw the first grackles of the season there at the pond.

Their name is onomatopoeic, an imitation of their call. Their binomial, Quiscalus quiscula, comes from Linnaeus, though he originally gave them the Stoker-esque name Gracula quiscula. “Quiscula” is a bit of a mystery, etymologically; it’s similar to the native name for the island Columbus named “Hispaniola”, but grackles can be found throughout eastern North America, not just the Caribbean.


The Railjack update went out on Friday. I haven’t played it a whole lot yet (busy reading, as mentioned) but my initial impressions are that Railjack missions have been improved greatly. Just scaling down the size of the Railjack itself was a big quality of life improvement. I ran a few missions solo, with an AI crew, and, at least at lower levels, they were able to hold their own, piloting and repairing the ship while I was away commandeering enemy crewships, etc. Good stuff, play it.

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A history, both general and personal, of the practice of medical dissection, from the perspective of a doctor who performed such grisly tasks while in school.

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In a related piece, Medical Ethicist Dr. Aaron Kheriaty relates his own experiences dissecting and performing organ transplants, before reflecting on the tendency for surgeons in that line of work to view the recently deceased as a collection of useful parts.