Running Commentary 3/8/2021
4 min read

Running Commentary 3/8/2021

WandaVision (Episode 9), BattleBots, Pileated Woodpecker


Have any of you ever seen an owl in the wild? I’ve gone looking for them from time to time, but I’ve never seen one. Owls are, during the day, generally still, quiet, and tree-colored, so they’re not the easiest things to spot, I suppose. Still, many people see them and photograph them, enough that I hear about it.



The series finale of WandaVision, titled “The Series Finale”, went up on Disney+ this past Friday. It wrapped up the story of the Westview Hex, but not of the characters, really. Here are my notes. SPOILERS

Photo Credit: WandaVision Twitter
  • Hayward didn’t really amount to much in this show, in the end.
  • So Pietro was Ralph from offscreen, not Quicksilver from X-Men. I understand that Peters’ casting was a bait-and-switch, but I’m glad they aren’t trying to tie MCU and X-Men together. I just don’t think either franchise would be improved by a crossover.
  • There’s been a lot of discussion about whether Wanda should face legal consequences for kidnapping an entire town. I’m not a lawyer, and I’m not sure a lawyer would be able to answer in this case, when it’s genuinely possible to kidnap a town by magic without realizing what you’re doing. I will say, in my moral estimation, Wanda is not a villain, since she wasn’t malevolent. If she just spends some time off in the mountains, then returns like nothing happened, I wouldn’t say it was a Kyp Durron situation.
  • I don’t think I’ll be reviewing this show in its own post, so, as it wraps up, I’d like to say that this show was really good. Wanda Maximoff had always been an interesting character, but she was always crowded out by bigger names in the films. I’m glad she got her own time to shine here. WandaVision was a real success, both artistically and commercially, and it has set a standard for the soon-to-come other Marvel Disney+ series to meet.


More bracket-busting in the second round of the 2020 tournament, with two more of the top 4 seeded bots losing. Ribbot won its second upset in a row against Uppercut. Tantrum won against Bloodsport, showing some really impressive driving in the face of a much more destructive opponent. And Tombstone, who I thought could have won the whole tournament, had a bad match, losing to Black Dragon. With Tombstone out, I think Whiplash is the most likely champion this year, but we’ll see.

Bird of the Week

This week we have the largest woodpecker in North America. Probably. The Pileated Woodpecker is definitely out there; I saw a pair myself a few days ago. They’re rather unmistakable in their range: large black-and-white birds with long-ish necks and bright red crests on their heads. They are loud, making somewhat chicken-like calls and clucks and having very rustly feathers when they fly.

I mentioned that these are probably the largest woodpeckers in North America. There are two, the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker of the American South and the Imperial Woodpecker of Mexico, that are larger, though both of those species are likely extinct (there have been no verified sighting of either in decades, though some reports persist). Heavy logging with no replanting, as was practiced in the 19th and early 20th centuries in North America, was very detrimental to large woodpecker species, who depend on large, mature trees.

“Pileated” comes from “pileus”, a sort of conical hat worn in the ancient Mediterranean, which the bird’s crest called to the mind of Linnaeus. Earlier, the English naturalist Mark Catesby (for whom the American Bullfrog is named) had simply called it the Greater Red-Crested Woodpecker. In the lumber camps of old the Pileated and the Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers were often called “log cocks”. Their binomial name is Dryocopus pileatus, which means, roughly, “capped tree-beater”.

A Very Old Man for a Wolf | Emma Marris, Outside

The story of OR4, who led in the return of wolves to Oregon, and of Russ Morgan, the wildlife manager tasked with re-integrating the wolves into a landscape now dominated by ranching.

The Fault in Our Stars: On Fake Celebrity Interviews | Soraya Roberts, Longreads

“I wrote impressionistic, creative, literary descriptions of the life of stars in the form of so-called interviews.” Such was the account of fabulist Tom Kummer, whose fabricated interviews with various celebrities appeared in numerous German culture magazines. Soraya Roberts profiles the German celebrity journalism space, which has been persistently plagued with interviews either pieced together from existing coverage or made up from whole cloth.

The Drone Boat of “Shipwreck Alley” | Matthew Braga, The Verge

On the floor of Thunder Bay, an arm of Lake Huron that provides harbor for the major cement port of Alpena, Michigan, there lies a haphazard fleet of wrecked ships. On its surface, there floats a little yellow robot, BEN, the Bathymetric Explorer and Navigator, which scans the lakebed and maps out the sunken boats. Oceanographers hope that BEN and self-piloting boats like it can close the gap between mapping the sea and the land, providing to the briny deep what satellite imaging has brought to terra firma.