Running Commentary 4/10/2023
7 min read

Running Commentary 4/10/2023

Star Wars Announcements, The Mandalorian (S3E6), BattleBots (S7E12), Fox Sparrow


Star Wars Celebration happened in London over the weekend, and we got another round of announcements regarding upcoming media. We got a release date for Ahsoka, or at least a release month: it'll premiere this August. We got our first trailer, and confirmation that Lars Mikkelsen will be reprising his Rebels role as Thrawn. The trailer looked really good, and I look forward to watching the show and covering it here. We also heard that next August will bring Andor season 2, which is obviously much anticipated. Besides that, they are making a second volume of Tales of the Jedi, The Acolyte is in production, and we have the second volume of Visions upcoming as well.

Besides the TV news, we also got promised three new movies. One will be directed by Dave Filoni and will be a big crossover wrap-up for Ahsoka, The Mandalorian, etc. I'm pretty confident that that movie will be made, since it flows from ongoing projects. Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who directed the two episodes of Ms. Marvel that were set in Pakistan and who otherwise has mainly done documentaries, is set to direct a movie, starring Daisy Ridley, about Rey establishing a New Jedi Order. I hope this movie actually gets made, and the fact that Daisy Ridley seems attached already is promising, but we'll see. The least likely is James Mangold's, which he's described as a DeMille-style epic about the first Jedi. This one might happen, but we've seen directors announced only to have their project killed a few years later before, and until there's a cast announced I'm not going to act like it's a sure thing.



Still from @TheMandalorian on Twitter

The Mandalorian

Bo-Katan and Din set out to find her old group, and get detoured by another misadventure. Here are my notes:

  • This was a fund episode, and pretty clearly a fun one to make. It seems weird to say it's a goofier episode than we've had in Season 3, given that the Mandalorians were fighting pirates in the last episode and dinosaurs in the episode before that. Part of it is all the cameos, which had their charm but were a little distracting, and part of it was a general lack of a serious threat. Droids running amok, scattering people's luggage and smashing speeders are not quite the same level of peril as someone's kid getting eaten or a city getting bombed. That's not a complaint; some lighter-hearted Star Wars is nice from time-to-time, and this show does it better than, say, Andor would. This was a fun episode that I had fun watching.
  • Add Jack Black, Lizzo, and Christopher Lloyd all to the List.
  • There's a small point of confusion I had about the nano-droids: They were produced by the Techno Union, but they were marked by a chain code, which were implemented post-War by the Empire, after the Techno Union had been disbanded. Maybe the Empire wasn't the first to use chain codes, or maybe the chain code was added to seized Separatist materiel.
  • I hadn't picked up on the fact that Bo-Katan could technically lay legitimate claim to the Darksaber. She hadn't either, and I don't even think Din did until right before he gave it back to her, so I don't feel too bad.
Big Dill v Free Shipping | Still from


There were some great match-ups last Thursday, and I was really bad at guessing who would win most of them. Let's take a look:

  • LOCK-JAW v MAD CATTER - Lock-Jaw fought hard for this win, unexpectedly winning the durability battle. Post-fight footage of team Mad Catter repairing their bot provided a rare glimpse at Martin Mason not doing a Randy Savage impression.
  • MALICE v GRUFF - Malice got a much-needed win here. Gruff had a tough match-up here. They did their best to burn out Malice's weapons drive belts, but the big red disc didn't die, and Gruff's mobility couldn't survive the hits.
  • DRAGON KING v DOOMBA - This was an exhibition fight between two non-tournament-bound bots. Doomba wasn't very good, still, but I was kind of impressed by Dragon King. As it is right now, it's not an entirely viable bot, but the idea of a grappler/hammer saw hybrid is a good one, one I'm surprised no one's tried before as far as I can recall.
  • HYPERSHOCK v CLAW VIPER - This was a fight I've been looking forward to for weeks. These are the two fastest bots in competition currently, with two excellent drivers. It came down to the fact that Hypershock had an active weapon. It could outrun the Viper's Claws, and it could hit back. But I do think that without that speed, Hypershock might have lost.
  • BIG DILL v FREE SHIPPING - This fight was a great example of why bot design and bot driving need to work together. Gary Gin is a good driver, but Free Shipping's long chassis makes it less maneuverable than a more compact bot like Big Dill, which dominated this fight. Big Dill needed this win, though I'm not sure it will be enough to get it into the tournament this year.
  • LUCKY v SHREDDIT BRO - Shreddit Bro is a bad bot that doesn't work very well and lost. I have little else to say about this bot anymore. Lucky was lucky to have been matched up against them.
  • HYDRA v SAWBLAZE - Sawblaze's winning streak came to an end as they lost the battle for low ground to Hydra. It's hard to get under Hydra, and Sawblaze really doesn't have the best forks as it is. Had they gotten a good hit in, they might have been able to turn the fight, but the few times Sawblaze did get Hydra pinned, their weapon operator swung the hammer-saw a second or two too late.

Bird of the Week

As the weather warms and we enter the Spring migration, I am once again inspired to draw what I see from my window. The Fox Sparrow is a large New World sparrow that spends its summers in the forests of Canada and its winters in the southern U.S., only showing up in Michigan while in transit between the two, as one did in my yard last weekend. Like its cousin, the dark-eyed junco, the fox sparrow exhibits a dramatic degree of visual variability across its range, although unlike the junco its most colorful specimens are found in the eastern half of the continent. While some subspecies are dark and sooty or else a typical sparrow brown, the main subspecies, which breeds in Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritime priovinces, is a rich auburn color that is very nearly red. Like other New World sparrows, and in contrast to the Old World sparrows, male and female fox sparrows look alike.

Fox sparrows are ground-dwelling birds, hopping and scratching with both feet at leaf-litter or bare earth in an attempt to stir up small insects and seeds. They also nest either on the ground or very low in thickets. They are thus a prime target for predators; studies in Denali National Park, in Alaska, found that fox sparrows comprised nearly 10% of the diet of resident merlins (falcons found in the forests of the northern parts of the world).

The fox sparrow is so named because its reddish color recalls the red fox, a small, widespread wild dog whose name comes from the Old English "fox" or "vox", which ultimately derives from a word meaning "hairy" or "bushy", in reference to a fox's fluffy tail. Whether "fox" was pronounced with an "f" or "v" sound was originally a matter of regional accent; today, the "f" variant is used for foxes as a whole, while the females specifically, called "vixens", retain the "v" sound. In French, as is spoken in some of the bird's range, this bird is not the fox sparrow but "bruant fauve", or the "wildcat bunting"; New World sparrows are indeed more closely related to Old World buntings than to Old World sparrows, and, in French, the term for "wildcat" also describes a reddish tan color such as that sported by a lion or a cougar. To science, the bird is Pasarella iliaca. The genus name means "little sparrow", even though the fox sparrow is one of the largest New World sparrows and about the same size as the ubiquitous house sparrow. The species name comes from the Latin for "flanks" and was originally applied to a thrush; the German naturalist Blasius Merrem, who was the first ornithologist to split the ostrich and its kin from the rest of Class Aves, first described the fox sparrow as Fringilla iliaca, the Latin equivalent of "drossel-finke", or "thrush-finch", due to the bold, thrush-like spotting of the bird's flanks and breast.

Picture This: The Periodic Table | Philip Ball, Broadcast

“Philip Ball on the visual ordering of all the elements known to humankind—and how we might order them differently.”

Test of Time | Wright Thompson, ESPN

A defense of test cricket, a sport whose matches last as long as a business week, by an American sports writer who worries that a world without the time to watch test cricket is a world without the time to do much of anything at all.

Napoleonic Conspiracy Theories, Unsociable Shabbiness, and More Occupational Hazards of the Second-Hand Book Trade | Shaun Bythell, Literary Hub

Excerpted from Bythell’s Remainders of the Day, a diary of his experiences as the proprietor of a second-hand bookstore in Scotland. The highlights: the different things to expect from the ways books are brought to the shop and thoughts on the way booksellers are portrayed in books.

ANV | Jorge Baldeon, DUST

[VIDEO] [FICTION] "A young stargazer cadet who's working for a mysterious agency decides to disobey direct orders and ends up in the middle of a close encounter conflict that forces her to decide where her true alliances reside." (28 minutes)

See the full archive of curations on Notion