Running Commentary 6/12/2023
5 min read

Running Commentary 6/12/2023

Star Wars: Visions ("Screecher's Reach"), Spinifex Pigeon


My full review of The Big Year is up on the main site. Presuming that you watched the film on my recommendation last week, you'll be all clear to read the review without worrying about spoilers.

Film Review | The Big Year
The Big Year is a very sincere look at the world of competitive birding that lets its humor come from the actual funny things that happen to birders. It’s a nice little movie that deserves more love than it’s gotten. 8/10

And speaking of birds, I spotted a mourning dove squab out a window at work the other day. I wasn't able to get a very good picture, but it was quite cute seeing the little thing bob along after its parents across a sidewalk.



Around the campfire, Daal contemplates her destiny, clutching her amulet.
Still from

Star Wars: Visions

The second short in Visions's second volume is "Screecher's Reach", from the Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon. Here are my thoughts on it:

  • This short was, for most of it, more Irish sci-fi than really Star Wars-y, but it came together into something that felt like part of the saga by the end. It isn't just made by Irish people, it brings in parts of Irish history and folklore like workhouses and banshees to flesh out its world. But there's little Star Wars to it until the final scene.
  • That final scene was a great payoff to this creepy little story. I'm reminded of the origins of Darth Zannah (I just got through reading Karpyshyn's Darth Bane trilogy; review forthcoming) but not so much so that this story seems unoriginal. It's not a happy ending, but it's a much more interesting story than that of "Sith".
  • From what I can tell the look of this short is very within the style of Cartoon Saloon's usual work. It wasn't as crazy creative as last week's short, but there were still some nice-looking shots.
  • This short made great use of its run-time. It doesn't waste any scenes, and it also doesn't seem too short
  • "Screecher's Reach" serves as a direct repudiation of the stock Disney plot of a young woman finding a better life far from home, which I suppose is the sort of thing you'd hope to get by opening up Star Wars to other studios. I will say that someone without an existing foundation of knowledge about Star Wars might not notice how dark the ending is; this is some pretty obscure fare to be someone's first exposure to Star Wars, but I could see someone maybe coming from The Mandalorian or Andor and coming upon this and not really getting the ending.

Bird of the Week

If you're outside, you have a chance at seeing a bird. Whether you're in the depths of the jungle, out on the open sea, on the frozen wastes of the poles, or even in the concrete-and-steel canyon-scape of a major city, there's a bird or several thriving in that environment. This week, we have a bird of the harsh desert: the Spinifex Pigeon.

Clad in bronze and gold and sporting a high plume on its head, and with a forcefully Latin name, the spinifex pigeon seems like what you'd get if a pigeon were made Emperor of Rome. But it's not a bird of the mild Mediterranean. These birds are found in the arid regions of the northern half of Australia, including the sun-baked deserts of the Pilbara region in the northeast of the continent, where temperatures in excess of 120° F have been recorded. To survive the heat, spinifex pigeons never stray far from water, available in the desert in the form of small streams. Spinifex pigeons drink a great deal, and their ability to produce body heat is atrophied compared to that of other doves; these factors help keep these birds cool in one of the hottest places on Earth.

While they dod sport a spine of feathers atop their heads, spinifex pigeons are actually named after the tussock-forming spinifex grasses whose seeds they feed on. ("Spinifex" means "spine-forming" in Latin and is commonly used to refer to grasses in the genus Triodia, though there is also the genus Spinifex, which are coastal grasses not found in the pigeon's range.) To science, the spinifex pigeon is Geophaps plumifera, or the "plumed ground-pigeon".

Why roller coaster loops aren’t a perfect circle | Edward Vega, Vox

[VIDEO]“If you’ve ever been on a modern looping roller coaster, you’ve probably experienced a thrilling, safe, and mostly comfortable ride. But this wasn’t always the case. Just over 100 years ago, loop-the-loops were painful, not sturdy, and much more dangerous than they are today.” (6 minutes)

The Explosive Legacy of the Pandemic Hand Sanitizer Boom | Amy Martyn, WIRED

As Covid-19 was first making its way into the United States, the FDA lifted regulations governing the production of hand santitizer, not wanting to restrict the supply of a potentially life-saving substance. But the glut of hand sanitizer production, especially that undertaken by companies without previous experience making the stuff, resulted in warehouses of sub-standard product, unable to be sold once the FDA put the rules back in place, and, apparently, unable to be stored long-term without catching on fire.

The UFO craze was created by government nepotism and incompetent journalism | Erik Hoel, The Intrinsic Perspective

Harry Reid, the Nevada senator who served as leader of Senate Democrats through much of the early 21st century, was a believer in UFOs. He used his position to grant his like-minded friends research money and official government titles, creating a system that is now producing sensational claims being passed uncritically to the public by the click-hungry news media. This story is a look at a generally non-partisan example of issues corroding American politics.

√i | Martin Cahill, Nightmare Magazine

[Fiction] Cahill was inspired by "the idea of how terrifying it would be to experience a tornado warning without knowing what you were running from".

See the full archive of curations on Notion