Running Commentary - Special Thanksgiving Edition 2022
Happy Thanksgiving! As I mentioned Monday, I’m taking the holiday weekend off from RC, but, in the interest of giving my thoughts on the Andor finale, I’m running this special Thanksgiving edition. Enjoy my notes on the finale, read my BotW entry on the turkey, first run in 2020, and click through to some of the very best things I’ve featured in the Curation links…
The twelfth episode has been released, closing out the first season of the show. Expect a full review of the season soon, but, for now, here are my notes on the finale:
- It’s kind of weird that the finale of the entire season feels like the third-most exciting finale episode. Both the Aldani heist and the escape from Narkina 5 felt like bigger conclusions to their respective storylines. Still, this was a good wrap-up to Cassian’s arc.
- I believe this is the first time I’ve watched a Star Wars thing that never once featured a lightsaber being ignited.
- Sadly, as I was worried, we never saw Mon Mothma’s story tie into Cassian’s. I guess they’ll meet next season.
- There’s an after-credits scene, if you missed it. I’ll leave talking about it for the full review.
Bird of the Week
This entry was first featured on November 30th, 2020
With the Thanksgiving holiday just past, what more fitting bird of the week could there be than the Wild Turkey? Well, perhaps it would have been most fitting to have this one featured last week, heading into Thanksgiving, rather than this week, playing catch-up, but I didn’t really have any good drawings of turkeys for last week. This one, for those of you wishing for a behind-the-scenes look at things, was a sketch done on Thanksgiving day, while watching the annual events discussed above. I used the new Charcoal KA brushes exclusively in this one, to try to familiarize myself with them.
Turkeys are members of the pheasant family native to the Americas, where they are generally the largest birds, besides swans, to be encountered in the wild. Their great size and general abundance has made them a popular game bird, and a target for domestication as livestock. Wild turkeys are able to fly, at least in short, noisy bursts, but they generally stay on the ground. They are closely tied to the U.S., culturally, being the traditional centerpiece of the Thanksgiving feast.
I generally try to talk about the names of birds if there’s an interesting story, as there is with the turkey; why is an American bird named after a country in the Near East? And, to be clear, they are named after Turkey, the country. It’s not a case of a native word that just sounded like “Turkey” to explorers. Apparently, it was the custom of the English, back in the day, to refer to everything imported from lands east of Germany as “Turkey”, since such things often routed through Constantinople. One such import were African guineafowl, which were called, in British slang, “Turkey coqs” or “Turkey hens”. Then, after the Columbian exchange got going, either American turkeys were imported through Constantinople and mixed up with the guineafowl, and named similarly, or English settlers encountering the large birds in the Americas named them after the imported birds they were already familiar with.
In any case, Anglophones aren’t the only people to name Maleagris gallopavo after some country in Asia. Many languages, including French, Russian, Hebrew, and, indeed, Turkish, refer to turkeys with a term meaning “India fowl” or “Indian”. Again, it’s unclear why; either they were imported aboard Indian ships, or they were so named after Columbus’s insistence that the Carribian islands were the Indies. In Portuguese, they are named after Peru.
In Spanish they are “pavos”, from the Latin term for peacocks, though in Mexico they are often also called “guajolotes” which derives from their Aztec name. This is the closest they seem to get to having a name of their own; even their scientific name is just a list of birds they resemble: Maleagris (guineafowl) gallo (chicken) pavo (peacock).
Over the years, I’ve featured anything I found particularly interesting or entertaining on the web that week in Curation Links. Looking back through the archive, these entries stood out as particularly memorable. So, if, with a long weekend ahead, you were looking for something to read, watch, or listen to, have at these:
American Hippopotamus | Jon Mooalem, The Atavist Magazine
"Burnham was here at the Maryland Hotel to call these animal lovers to a higher purpose, to gather them behind an idea. It was a grand and sparkling idea, an idea with momentum...The idea was to import hippopotamuses from Africa, set them in the swamplands along the Gulf Coast, and raise them for food. The idea was to turn America into a nation of hippo ranchers."
Flight Plan | Orville & Wilbur Wright, Lapham’s Quarterly
Excerpted from an article published in The Century Magazine, the Wright Brothers tell of their history and of their recent experiments in powered flight.
The Wonder Bird | Jim Robbins, Smithsonian Magazine
The Hudsonian godwit is an unassuming little brown shorebird, named for the Bay along which many live during the northern summer. When the seasons change, godwits fly to the other end of the earth, the far end of South America. They make this journey rapidly, sometimes flying a week or more across open ocean without stopping. Their numbers are falling, due to the usual issues of habitat loss and toxin exposure, but also due to shifting wind patterns that may be blowing migrants off-course.
The Land of Living Snowflakes | Jake Buehler, Discover Magazine
A visit to the island of St. Matthew, a remote island off northern Alaska, which is the only roosting place of the little-studies McKay's bunting. No permanent structures exist on the island, and researchers' visits can be decades apart, so the little white birds remain shrouded in mystery.
The 'Pie Engineer' Who Designed a Dessert For the Jazz Age | Rossi Anastopoulo, Atlas Obscura
A profile of Monroe Boston Strause, the inventor of the Chiffon Pie, which brought pie from the home kitchen into the realm of fine dining. Strause accomplished this by attacking the problem of pie-making scientifically, in a way that foretold the modern molecular gastronomy movement. One key part of the pie that remains a feature of many today: the graham cracker crust.
Soft-Serve Hardball | Andy Greenberg, WIRED
I can count the times I've actually eaten at a McDonalds on one hand, and even I am familiar with the unreliability of their ice cream machines. But they aren't really McDonald's ice cream machines, they're Taylor ice cream machines. And Taylor ice cream machines just aren't very good, apparently. They have issues like any piece of equipment, but they also have built-in shut-offs locking operators out until a Taylor technician can arrive to resolve the issue, however minor. For Wired Magazine, Andy Greenberg reports on how some have made a whole business around after-market workarounds for the machine's rigid repair regimens, and come into conflict with McDonald's and Taylor in the process.
On the Many Mysteries of the European Eel | Patrik Svensson, Literary Hub
Excerpted from Svensson's The Book of Eels, this is an account of the life cycle of the eels who live in the rivers of Europe, until one day, like reverse salmon, they return to the ocean to reproduce.
The Brotherhood of the Very Expensive Pants | Steven Rinella, Outside Online
At any given time, roughly half of the people on earth are wearing denim clothing. It's comfortable, versatile, and durable. So durable that some of the first denim articles, those worn by workers in the Old West, can still be found somewhat intact. For Outside, Steven Rinella meets up with Brit Eaton, a finder and seller of the most vintage of vintage jeans.
Chasing the Sun | Nathan Beacom, The New Atlantis
An essay about the mystery of where Polynesian peoples came from: Asia or the Americas? Includes profiles of Thor Heyerdahl (who argued for an American origin, going so far as to make his own journey west into the Pacific in a raft) and Te Rangi Hīroa (who argued for an Asian origin, based on Polynesian folklore).
All the Answers | Charles van Doren, The New Yorker
Jeopardy was the first successful quiz show in some time to hit American airwaves, after the public had been soured on the genre by revelations of cheating by contestants, aided by network execs seeking to maximize ratings with popular winners. Van Doren was one such contestant, who spent four months winning rigged episodes of Twenty-One. For The New Yorker, he recounts his story.
What Is Glitter? | Caity Weaver, The New York Times
You know what glitter is, right? It’s that…stuff. It’s a powder, kind of. It’s shiny. It comes from…the craft store, I suppose. Caity Weaver searches for stronger answers.
Perfecting the modern harmonica | Ben Marks, Craftsmanship Magazine
Harmonicas are, generally speaking, not durable goods. They are not like, say, violins, which can be played for centuries if properly maintained; they get ruined my the moist air blown through them. So when the top harmonica manufacturer's quality standards began to slip, players had to take it upon themselves to produce instruments worth playing.
The Bailey Ball, a Dangerous Amusement Park Idea | Andy Mulvihill & Jake Rossen, Slate
Excerpted from Action Park: Fast Times, Wild Rides, and the Untold Story of America’s Most Dangerous Theme Park, the tale of an infamous New Jersey amusement park, this piece tells of a ride that even Action Park’s mostly non-existent safety assurance team didn’t allow the public to…enjoy, I suppose.
The Grande Dame of Midway | Elena Passarello, Audubon Magazine
A profile of Wisdom, a septuagenarian albatross who was first tagged in 1956 on Midway Island, where she and her fellow birds come to nest. Wisdom is the oldest known wild bird.
40 Years Ago, We Almost Blew Up Arkansas | Vince Guerrieri, Popular Mechanics
A history of the Damascus Incident, wherein the fuel tank of an intercontinental ballistic missile stationed near Damascus, Arkansas exploded, flinging a live nuclear warhead out into the wild.
The Icarus Race: Into the Wild With a Fan on Your Back | Michael Behar, Air & Space Magazine
The story of the world's longest paramotoring race, wherein people riding no more than a parachute over their head and a fan on their back fly over the Rockies.
The Great Dig | Lee Dugatkin, Areo
In the early days of the United States, there was a man named Charles Wilson Peale. He dug up mammoths.
Kellogg v. Kellogg | Charlie Herman, Julia Press, Sarah Wyman, Brought to you By…
[AUDIO] An interview with Prof. Howard Markel, of the University of Michigan, about Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, his much put-upon younger brother William, and the origins of cold cereal. Markel has written a book on the subject.
Bird of Prey | Eric Liner & The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
[VIDEO] Feature-length documentary documenting efforts to observe and conserve the Philippine Eagle (94 minutes)
Rise and Fall of the Comic Empire | Charles Sonnenburg, SF Debris
[VIDEO] A lengthy look at the history of the American comic book industry, told across 13 videos of about 15 minutes each. If you've ever wondered why no one seems to read comics anymore despite superheroes being bigger than ever, you'll want to watch this.
Rockfish | Tim Miller, et al., Rob Munday, Short of the Week
[VIDEO] [FICTION] An animated film about a man and his strange pet, setting out on an alien world on something like an icefishing expedition, except rather than ice...well, the title gives a clue. The short film is featured, with a review by Rob Munday, on Short of the Week. (9 minutes)
Hareraiser (The Worst Game Ever) | Stuart Ashen, Norwich Gaming Festival on YouTube
Veteran YouTube personality and video game historian Stuart Ashen delivers a live presentation on the strange story of Hareraiser, a game based on a coffee table art book's coded buried treasure mystery, which, it seems, may have been a fraud and which certainly wasn't really a game.
The Battle of SHARKS! | CGP Grey on YouTube
[VIDEO] An idle Google search about a strange sight in a London canal leads to the discovery of a protracted legal battle between a libertarian arthouse and...well, and all of their neighbors, by the end of it.
EXCLUSIVE: The Sofa Shop Interviews | Brady Haran, The Unmade Podcast
[AUDIO] Okay, so this one takes some context: Brady Haran is a video and podcast host on many projects, most notably the YouTube channel Numberphile, which is mainly about mathematics. Tim Hein is a minister and theology professor. They are both from Adelaide, Australia, and are childhood friends. Together, they are the hosts of The Unmade Podcast, a podcast in which they discuss ideas for podcasts, since they couldn’t decide what their podcast would be about and eventually settled on that being what their podcast would be about. Are you following? Anyway, one of their earlier podcasts was about how advertising jingles stick in the mind when things you actually want to remember are forgotten. As an example, Haran brought up the jingle for now-bought-out Adelaide furniture store The Sofa Shop. And that jingle did indeed stick in the heads of the people who heard it played in the episode. It became a sort of second theme song for the podcast. Listeners began recording their own cover versions of the tune and sending them in to be played in future episodes. It became a whole thing. In this special episode, Haran returns to Adelaide to interview the men behind the jingle, singer Carmine Scalzi and writer/producer Quentin Eyers, who had no idea people from around the world had come to love their song about matching uphostry to curtains, etc. Worth a listen if you’re interested in one of the least glamorous corner of the music industry.
A Siege of Cranes | Benjamin Rosenbaum, Lightspeed Magazine
[FICTION] When he finds his home village crushed, Marish sets out across strange countries seeking what monster could have caused such a calamity. This story was nominated for the World Fantasy Award for Best Short Story of 2007.
Farewell, Doraemon | A Que, translated by Emily Jin and Ken Liu, Clarkesworld Magazine
[FICTION] A novella about a man returning to his home village in China, where a chest full of cartoons stirs up childhood memories of a lonely girl and a strange stretch of river. At over 20,000 words, you'll need to make time for this one, though it'll be time well spent.
The Bet | Anton Chekhov, trans. Constance Garnett, Berfrois
[FICTION] A selection from the Russian master's The Schoolmistress and other stories, which was first published in 1918. The story concerns a debate over the death penalty, which leads to a wager that years of solitary imprisonment would be tolerable if a large enough sum was paid in the end.
The Beyoğlu Municipality Waste Management Orchestra | Kenan Orhan, The Paris Review
[FICTION] In a dystopian Istanbul, a garbage collector's life changes when she finds a pile of handwritten music compositions discarded in a cramped alley.
Something Fishy | Harry Turtledove, Tor.com
[FICTION] The author of award-winning alternate history about super-tech confederates and aliens invading World War II delivers a look at a world where the State of Jefferson exists, and its governor is a Sasquatch. The fifth story in this world, but accessible to a new audience.
See the full archive of curations on Notion