Running Commentary 4/8/2024
8 min read

Running Commentary 4/8/2024

Tales of the Empire trailer, The Acolyte trailer, The Bad Batch (S3E10,11), Warframe (Deep Archimedea), Yellow-bellied Sapsucker


I hope you enjoyed last week's Bird of the Week. It was, indeed, a fake bird made up for April Fools. We'll resume looking at real birds this week.




We've had a few trailers for some new Star Wars shows coming in the next months. First up, on May the 4th, will be Tales of the Empire, a collection of short animated features in the mold of last year's Tales of the Jedi. Where that focused on Dooku and Ahsoka Tano, these will feature Morgan Elsbeth and Barriss Offee. I'm interested to see what Elsbeth's story is; this will be the backstory of how she became allied with Thrawn. Barriss's I'm...less thrilled with. I never liked the fan theory that Barriss became an Inquisitor, because I don't see that being in her nature. She isn't a warrior. She bombed the Temple because she believed that the Jedi Order as a whole had fallen to the Dark Side in becoming soldiers in the Clone Wars. She had, up to that point, avoided the war as much as possible, rather serving as a healer at the Temple. If she refused to fight for the Republic, I can't see her fighting for the Empire.

Granted, we haven't seen the show yet. The trailer shows Barriss joining the Inquisitorius to get out of prison, which I get. She doesn't look happy in any of the clips, and she might not stick around. The one thing I hope we don't see is her being forcibly turned through torture, which has thus far been standard procedure with Inquisitors. From what I can tell this goes back to the original KOTOR game, wherein Bastilla Shan was captured by Darth Malak and blasted with Force lightning until she somehow became evil. That's not how (falling to the Dark Side of) the Force works. Like I said, I'll give my real opinion of the show, not just the trailer.

Later, at the beginning of June, we'll finally be getting The Acolyte. This is a High Republic show, which worries me somewhat, considering the High Republic books haven't been very good. (I gave up reading them in Phase I, so if Phases II and III were better, I wouldn't know.) But my complaint with those had to do with the villains and conflict being boring. This show has different villains–the still-hidden Sith–and looks to be about investigating a mystery rather than fighting in a big war, so it might be quite good. Certainly the action shown in the trailer seemed exciting.

A maximum-security facility protecting three imprisoned “specimens” — a trio of children with Force sensitivity and a high M-count.
Still from

The Bad Batch

  • Episode 10 finally showed us (some) of what's behind all those security shields in Tantiss: a bunch of kids. So I suppose they weren't getting those high-midichlorian blood samples from Quinlan Vos like I guessed weeks ago. Dr. Karr will, I'm guessing, try to get them out when the big free-the-clones mission goes down in the finale.
  • The distinct musical texture for Tantiss has been really well done.
  • Also, at the very beginning of the episode, we see Hemlock reviewing a bunch of armor designs, one of which looked quite big and bulky. When the clone assassin was contacted by Scorch, he was told the others in his group weren't ready yet. And that clone assassin is an excellent sniper. Which all gets me wondering, is Hemlock cloning his own Bad Batch. Maybe CX-2 is a clone of Crosshair, whose genetic code they'd have been able to sample directly, while the others they've had to piece together from Nala Se's notes or something. It's a theory, but the more I think about it the more I sort of believe it.
  • Omega's plan doesn't seem to have worked, besides having stopped the attack on Pabu. Having her re-captured does feel like a bit of a reversion to the status at the beginning of the season. I do wonder how Hunter and Wrecker will react to Crosshair still being standing while Omega was taken.



So...Dante. I have Dante. I farmed Dante, I built Dante, I've leveled Dante, I've played Dante, I even recorded a Simulacrum run with him. But DE's still making changes to how his powers work in a pretty major way, so I'm going to hold off on talking about him until that dust settles.

As for Deep Archimedea: I need to up my build game. I've made a point to have all of the 'frames, and I've accumulated a fair number of weapons, but I've only invested in a few key things. Of these, only Wukong was an option in the Archimedea loadouts. And I don't even have any archon shards on my Wukong.

Essentially, Deep Archimedia is a set of three high-level (but not Steel Path) missions with a bunch of restrictions (debuffs and a limited selection of gear: three each of warframe, primary, secondary, and melee weapon.) If you can make it through the missions with these restrictions (which are optional, actually), you get the best reward set in the whole game, the equivalent of several Netracell runs, with a high chance of getting tauforged archon shards. I have not been able to get all these rewards (I can get some). If I ignore the gear restrictions and just bring my best stuff, I can get through it, but if I use the mandated gear, I can't. Not in a squad and certainly not alone.

I feel like there's a lot of players out there like me. At the endgame, but not a master of the game, quite. I have all the frames, but I can't remember the powersets of most of them. In Duviri, I can get around that by leaning on weapons and on the decrees earned throughout the run. Deep Archimedea doesn't offer that. This is Warframe telling its players to get good, and to get good at everything. I'm not good at everything, yet. But I have something to shoot for now.

Bird of the Week

Birds sometimes have funny names. The birds of the Paridae and Sulidae families can often get a sophomoric giggle. "Smew", "hoopoe", and "kookaburra" all have a humorous sound to them. Then there's birds whose name sound weirdly insulting: the peewees, the coots, the loons (that one actually is an insult, which I'll get to when I finally draw one.) But there's one bird that fits all three, with a name that's seemingly insulting, somewhat embarrassing, and just plain silly-sounding: the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

The sapsuckers are a subgroup within the woodpeckers, a genus of birds that feed primarily on the sap of trees rather than just insects. They are known for boring patches of shallow holes into the trunks and limbs of trees, birch trees especially. These sapwells make them good friends with the ruby-throated hummingbird, who migrates north just behind the yellow-bellied sapsuckers and often nest close to a sapwell tree, where they can feed on the sap as they do on the nectar of flowers.1 Yellow-bellied sapsuckers are a rare migrant among North American woodpeckers, spending their summers in Canada and New England, and their winters in the US Southeast, Central America, and the Caribbean.

The way they bore into living trees, rather than tearing into the dead, buggy wood favored by other woodpeckers, make sapsuckers genuine threats to trees. A study of sapsucker habits in New England conducted in the late 1960s found that between 2/5 and 2/3 of deciduous trees fed upon died within a few seasons.2 While a healthy forest can support a sapsucker population, if you have a favorite tree in your yard or an orchard of some sort, the sapsucker is not a welcome friend; I'm told wrapping the trunk and large limbs in burlap or foil works as a sapsucker deterrent.

The term "yellow-bellied" is, in this case, a simple physical description of the bird, whose underparts are a mottled pale gold. Unfortunately, its name implies a cowardly demeanor. Looking into it, it's unclear why "yellow" or "yellow-belly" has come to mean coward. There are several theories, such as that "yellow-belly" was an insult by Texans for Mexican soldiers (who apparently wore yellow-fronted uniforms in the Alamo days) or a reference to the yellow bellies of eels, that hide in the mud.)3 But there's not a definitive answer.

To science, the yellow-bellied sapsucker is Sphyrapicus varius. The species name simply means "multicolored". The genus name was given to the sapsuckers by original Smithsonian curator Spencer F. Baird; it means "hammering woodpecker" in Greek and Latin.4

  1. Kessler, John, et al. “Sapsuckers and Hummingbirds.” BirdNote. June 21, 2023.
  2. Rushmore, Francis M. 1969. Sapsucker damage varies with tree species and seasons. Res.Pap. NE-136. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 19 p.
  3. Martin, Gary. “‘Yellow-belly’ - the Meaning and Origin of This Phrase.”, n.d.
  4. Jobling, J. A. (editor). The Key to Scientific Names in Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman et al. editors), Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Ithaca.

How a Doctor Killed the Baroque Era | Ted Gioia

Born close to the same day in 1685, Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frederic Handel were the two dominant composers of what has come to be called the Baroque Era. They were each also patients of an ophthalmologist named John Taylor. Claiming to be a knight and the personal eye doctor to various kings and the pope, Taylor is now understood to be, at least largely, a fraud. At very least, his treatments were largely worthless and his surgeries unsanitary and poorly executed. By the time he was through with them, Bach and Handel were blinded and accelerating toward the grave.

The Weird, Analog Delights of Foley Sound Effects | Anna Wiener, The New Yorker

Foley artists, named for the first of their kind, Jack Foley, are the people who create custom sound effects for television and film. Sometimes, this work is straightforward (a person is walking, so a recording is made of the shoes they wear), but often the source of sounds is something altogether unlike what’s being shown on-screen.

The Problem with New York City | Casey Neistat

[VIDEO] New York City is often hailed as the only place in America with decent mass transit systems. As veteran vlogger Casey Neistat points out in this video, that’s really only true if you and your travelling party are all adults. If you’re transporting kids, it’s back to the personal transit of the car (or, in Neistat’s case, a custom bicycle.) (7 minutes)

Quantum Eurydice | Avi Burton, Fantasy Magazine

[FICTION] "Eurydice has never felt as if she fits in her own myth. It doesn’t belong to her, not really, because the story doesn’t end when she leaves it. Orpheus gets to keep going to the land of the living, and he gets to grieve, and he gets to die a brutal death, and then the story ends. She is left abandoned in the aftermath. So, out of pity for her sad fate, we will try to tell a different tale. It goes like this..."

See the full archive of curations on Notion