It’s Memorial Day today. It’s always tricky to write something at the front of the newsletter on Memorial Day, which is always on a Monday and thus always on an RC send-out day. On the one hand, I feel like I should mention it, but on the other, I don’t know any war dead, so it’s not a day that holds much personal meaning. Which, I suppose, is a blessing.
The opening two episodes of this much-anticipated six-part limited series were released this past Friday. (And, incidentally, I’m happy to be covering a Friday show again, given that this newsletter goes out on Monday, and thus when I cover Wednesday shows I’m almost a week behind.) As is usually the case with Star Wars stuff, you can expect a full review that I’ll start writing once the show has been completed. For now, here are my notes:
- Since this show was first announced, I’ve been cautiously optimistic. There was a lot of fan demand, once it was announced that Disney would be producing spin-off movies and television, that Ewan MacGregor be brought back as Obi-Wan. So far as I can tell, “This character is popular, write something with them in it” isn’t usually a prompt that leads to really good stories. Things like Loki, The Book of Boba Fett, and Solo: A Star Wars Story, while entertaining enough, are often hampered with meandering, afterthought plots. I can’t really tell whether this series will be like that or not from just the first two parts, but what I’ve seen so far points to a coherent story. I remain cautiously optimistic.
- It’s all Disney’s fault that Leia got kidnapped since they were the ones to de-canonize Ferus Olin. In all seriousness, though, I’m glad that Leia is the twin who factors into this show, not Luke. For his story to work, Luke kind of needs to have had a really uneventful childhood. Leia, on the other hand, had a very eventful life up to the events of A New Hope, so it makes more sense for her to be in this story.
- Seeing Alderaan on-screen for more than the second or two we got at the ends of Revenge of the Sith was nice. I’m glad they were able to clear up that infestation of blue lions that used to stand around spaced 50 feet apart back during the days of the Old Republic.
- Rebecca Jackson Mendoza was one of the few performers not to reprise her role. When Breha Organa came onscreen, I didn’t immediately recognize her. I did think Simone Kessell did a good job as the Queen of Alderaan, and, with a name like that, it’s fitting that she gets into Star Wars somehow.
- The makeup for the Grand Inquisitor looks better than it first appeared in the trailer, although he still looks kinda odd. Rupert Friend put in a really stand-out performance to account for it.
- Speaking of inquisitors: the press tours ahead of this show’s release featured Moses Ingram along with MacGregor and Hayden Christensen as lead performers, but I worry that she might get sidelined in the show. That’s what typically happens to inquisitors once Vader shows up, as he presumably will by the series finale. Also, “rogue dark-sider with a double lightsaber and an obsession with killing Obi-Wan Kenobi” has been done before, and done well. Hopefully Ingram gets a little more to do in future episodes.
DevStream 162 was last Friday. It will be the last DevStream before TennoCon in mid-July. It covered the “Echoes of the Zariman” update, which will come sometime next month with some tweaks and expansions to changes made in the “Angels of the Zariman” update. Here are my notes:
- More Incarnon weapons are in the works: a shotgun, whose second form will have increased range, and a dagger that turns into a sword as its second form. So far, the incarnon weapons have been pretty good, so these new ones should be, too.
- The update will come with some new cosmetics based on the look of the void angels. These will be Holdfast standing rewards, not plat-exclusive.
- We got a look at a new landing craft, which is based on the shuttles seen in the hangar of the Zariman.
- There will be some more new arcanes coming in the next update, both for warframes and amps (which will get a second arcane slot.)
- You’ll be able to trade with the Holdfasts for void plumes!
- The long distance between Quinn, who gives bounties, and the lift to the other Zariman decks where the bounties are carried out will be bridged with the same sort of portals that take you back to the lift after completing certain missions, so no more quick-traveling from the menu.
- The Zariman missions will get little interactables that give buffs in exchange for defeating a spawned eximus unit. Sounds like it could make a fun twist, and it sounds like a good way to farm eximus kills for Nightwave.
- Void Sling is getting changed. If you go from mid-air, you’ll strafe like Void Dash before. From the ground, it’ll be reticle-based like new. I don’t really play enough as operator to have much of an opinion on Void Sling vs. Void Dash, but this will fix an issue I’ve heard complained about.
- Eximus units are getting some tweaks, mostly to make Overguard weaker. Like I said earlier, the changes to Eximus were basically all positive. Making them immune to crowd control abilities might be annoying if you’re used to CC frames just turning off the enemies, but Eximus units are meant to stand out from the crowd of regular enemies. Reducing their tankiness should make it easier to deal with them while playing a CC frame, especially for new players, who I’d imagine were having a really tough time.
- The open-world maps are getting teleporter pads near all the landmarks, which should make running a bunch of bounties in a row less tedious.
- Grappling-hook enemies, like the Grineer Scorpions and the Infested Ancients, will be changed to allow the player to jump back when grappled, knocking the grappler down. This is a good change and will be really cathartic to do.
- Riven slots are getting changed such that you don’t get the challenge revealed until you equip it on a weapon. This means that unveiled rivens won’t take up riven slots until a player decides to try to unveil them. This is another really good change, although it apparently won’t be ready until after the next update.
- Buncha cosmetics and TennoCon stuff was discussed that I don’t really have anything to say about.
So, overall, this looks like a lot of “X.1” updates that bring some really good tweaks to new content.
I’m still working through the present Incarnon weapons. Expect some coverage of those here soon.
Bird of the Week
I’ve featured two woodpeckers before in this space, both of which I’ve seen in the wild. But there are woodpeckers all around the world, not just in Michigan. Take the Lesser Yellownape, which lives in south and southeast Asia. This is a mid-sized woodpecker, about ten inches long, with a green plumage that is actually quite typical of Eurasian woodpeckers, in contrast with the usual black-white-and-red coloration of most North American woodpeckers. The lesser yellownape is a fairly typical woodpecker, living in trees, where they feed on insects found on or under bark. Males and females look very similar, but can be distinguished by the male’s red “mustache” extending back from the corners of the beak. Their crests are not always held erect; sometimes they will appear round-headed, with their namesake golden feathers only visible at the base of their necks. Their call is a loud squeal, like that of a hawk.
The lesser yellownape is a member of the Picus genus, the type genus for the woodpecker family Picidae. **“Picus” is the Latin term for “woodpecker”; in Roman myth, Picus was an early king of Latium, in Italy, who spurned the advances of the sorceress Circe, who then turned him into a woodpecker. Linnaeus initially included thirteen species in Picus, which still consists of thirteen species, though the exact roster has changed through the years. The species name of the lesser yellownape is chlorolophus, which means “yellow-crested”.
How to fall to your death and live to tell the tale | Neil Steinberg, Mosaic
Falls are a major cause of death, and the leading cause of injury. Falls off cliffs or from other great heights are typically fatal, but, depending on the person or the situation, a simple fall from standing can also kill. The best way to prepare for a fall is to prevent a fall by addressing trip and slip hazards. But if you are falling, try to remember to land on your side and protect your head.
Pete Drake & his talking steel guitar - "Forever" | Pete Drake
[VIDEO] From the ‘60s, an early example of electronically modulated vocals, applied seemingly anachronistically to a country-western song. (2:35)
Roget Gets the Last Word | Claudia Kalb, Smithsonian Magazine
Peter Mark Roget is remembered today for the thesaurus he compiled late in his life. Before that, he was a physician and tutor. Born in London to a Swiss father and an English mother, Roget found himself facing down the expanding Napoleonic empire when Geneva, where he and his pupils were traveling, was annexed by France. Napoleon decreed that all adult British subjects found in his territory were to be taken as prisoners of war, and Roget was forced to rely on his dual heritage to escape.
Beyond the Door | Philip K. Dick, Alta
[FICTION] “This early story by Philip K. Dick appeared in Fantastic Universe in January 1954. It explores themes that would mark Dick’s later work, including the complex relationship between humanity and technology.”
See the full archive of curations on Notion