I'm not sure if they do this everywhere, but around where I live, during Christmastime, all the towns put together an ad campaign encouraging people to patronize local shops when doing their gift shopping. But then the commercials are all for brake shops and dentists and roofing contractors. Which are local businesses, sure, but they aren't places to do Christmas shopping. And, while there are a lot of chain stores here in the middle of the country, we still have plenty of local shops which could get mentioned. I wonder if the brake shops don't just have more pull with the chamber of commerce.
The fifth episode is out, bringing some familiar faces with it. Here are my notes:
- If you haven’t seen Black Widow yet, be sure to watch that film before watching this episode. Otherwise you will be very confused by the opening scene.
- Speaking of not seeing things, I have not seen Daredevil. Hopefully, the Kingpin’s appearance doesn't mean I have to, since I don't have Netflix.
- The show ends next week. As much as I've enjoyed the show, I wonder if it will be able to wrap all this up.
Finally, after about 3 years of buildup, the New War has arrived. I’ve played through the quest. I enjoyed most of it; there's a long stretch of instant-death stealth gameplay in the middle, and that's not really something I enjoy. But overall DE can be proud of themselves. “The New War” is the longest and best quest Warframe has ever had. It wrapped up some long-dangling plot threads, while setting up some new ones we should start to see addressed in the coming year. To say more would spoil the quest, but thankfully Ghost just added drop-downs to their post builder.
- The thing this quest did best was to emphasize just how powerful the Tenno are, and how they became the key to Orokin victory in the Old War. Most of the gameplay is done without warframes, which has actually become a thing in the last few cinematic quests. But here, we aren't even a true Tenno for most of it. As was shown in the TennoCon preview, the quest opens by giving players a chance to play as a Grineer marine, a Corpus crewman, and a Dax soldier. And while, for the purposes of the quest, they're enough to get their missions done, it's much more of a struggle than it would have been for a Tenno with a warframe. Then, in the second chapter, as the drifter, we're given a more conventional shooter experience, where taking cover, keeping aware of enemy positions, and plotting a course ahead through the map, or else we’re just having to creep past guards. Finally, in the third chapter, we get our stuff back, and it’s a great moment, because we’ve really come to miss it.
- The story itself is basically what we’ve come to expect from Warframe’s quests. We discover a bit more about our past, and we go on some setpiece missions, and, at the end, the status quo of the game is changed. Although, in this case, not by much. Narmer is a new enemy faction (for certain bounties, so far) and the Lotus is back, and we have the Drifter. But these are basically cosmetic changes. It’s probably a bit much to ask that the game’s largest update to date include even more stuff, but it is true that we don’t play Warframe any differently after the quest than we did going into it. DE has promised, though, to be bringing some new things in the near future, now that their big story has been told.
- Deimos didn’t factor into this quest, even though Fortuna and Cetus both did. I thought that was weird until I remembered that Deimos had been introduced in place of the New War last year, when the pandemic had kept DE from doing necessary mo-cap work. Had that not happened, we probably wouldn’t have been introduced to Deimos and the Entrati yet. But, then again, the Infestation overall get ignored in this quest.
- I’m guessing that Planes of Duviri will be the next big story quest. There are actually some references to that in this quest.
- I have not yet acquired Caliban. That’s not really a spoiler, except in that you don’t get Caliban as part of the quest. This surprised me, since Erra apparently created Caliban. By about mid-way through I was expecting Caliban to be a secret fourth Archon who we'd fight then take control of and play as for the rest of the quest, but that didn't happen.
With Christmas coming up, it’s time for cookies. If you’re planning to have gingerbread, make sure it’s the good stuff. My recipe, first published last Christmas.
Yields: 3 trays of cookies
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1 tbsp cider vinegar
- 1 egg
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2–3 cups flour
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together shortening and sugar.
- Add molasses, vinegar, and egg, then beat on high speed until blended
- In a separate bowl, mix together baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, red pepper, and 2 cups of flour
- Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients incrementally, mixing at low speed. The dough should form as sticky but cohesive, not drippy. Add more flour as needed.
- Wrap dough in plastic and chill in a refrigerator for ~3 hours.
- Preheat oven to 375° F
- Roll out dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut however you’d like.
- Dredge each cookie in granulated sugar, and arrange on a baking tray
- Bake for 7–8 minutes, depending on cookie size. For best results, bake cookies of the same size together.
- Press down on cookies with a flat spatula, and allow to cool and stiffen before eating
Bird of the Week
This week we have a toucan. One might say we have the toucan. The Toco Toucan is the largest and most commonly seen species of toucan. Toucans are any of eight species of the genus Rhamphastos, though the entire family Rhamphastidae, which also includes the toucanets, the araçaris, and the mountain toucans, is sometimes collectively referred to as the toucans. The genus and family names come from the Greek ῥαμφηστης, which means “snouted”, a reference to the birds’ defining features: their large, often colorful bills. The common name “toucan”, and this species’s specific name toco come from the Güaraní word for “bone-nose”, which is what peoples native to Paraguay call the birds. Toucans look and act similar to hornbills, but are unrelated. Toucans live in Latin America, while hornbills live in Africa and Asia. The toco toucan specifically lives in southern Brazil, northern Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, as well as on the northern coast of South America.
The toco toucan is roughly crow-sized, with adults measuring roughly two feet long (though their bill alone makes up more than a quarter of their overall length). Like other toucans, their diet is mainly comprised of fruit, though they will also eat eggs, insects, and small vertebrates when given the opportunity. Unlike other toucans, the toco toucan lives in open country, rather than deep in the jungle. This, and their popularity as zoo exhibits, makes the toco toucan the most commonly sighted toucan in the world.
The toco toucan’s simple but bold color scheme has led it to becoming the basis for quite a lot of mascots and artworks. Also, the Pokémon called Toucannon is based on the toco toucan. (I'm not familiar with Pokémon enough to know but I'd assume Toucannon can shoot things with its bill.)
To learn Klingon or Esperanto: What invented languages can teach us | Bob Holmes, Knowable Magazine
An interview with a linguistic anthropologist on the subject of invented languages (also called “constructed languages” or “conlangs”) and what people learning Elvish or Na’vi could mean for the future of real but dying languages. Palm Trees: Technically, Giant Plants | Stuff You Should Know
[AUDIO] An overview of facts about palm trees. Among the more surprising ones: there are well over two thousand different kinds, and none produce wood (which means they aren’t actually trees.)
Sunset | Tobias S. Buckell, Lightspeed Magazine
[FICTION] On the far-flung world of Yelekene, a starship crashes into the sea. The people of a nearby island gather to investigate, but the first to reach the ship is a young boy...
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