The Curious Case of the Maldraxxian Innkeeper with Potential Finnish Ties

I must’ve been quite absorbed in something—like grinding my last toons through Shadowlands, I think—to not notice until now(!) that at the Seat of the Primus in Maldraxxus there’s an innkeeper called Tapani Nightwish.

WoW Shadowlands Maldraxxus Seat of the Primus Innkeeper Tapani Nightwish Sm

It immediately caught my eye because of two things: Tapani is a Finnish male name, and Nightwish is a world-famous Finnish symphonic metal band.

Not being a fan, per se, despite having osmotically absorbed some of their music over the years, I had to immediately look up the band members. It isn’t a case of direct homage, but likely refers to an ex-bassist of theirs, Marko Tapani Hietala.

Woot! LOL! 😀

Image: screencap from World of Warcraft

Of Dice and Dragons is an occasional feature about games and gaming.

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First Trailer Is out for Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

The gloomily hilarious Knives Out is getting a sequel. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is also both written and directed by Rian Johnson, and the first trailer is now out:

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery | Official Teaser Trailer | Netflix on YouTube

The cast seems great, but otherwise it’s a little difficult to say what exactly to expect, except it feels like a cross between an escape room and the Agatha Christie novel And Then There Were None. Although, for my mysteries, I could completely do without the gratuitous gunplay, thank you very much; I’ll go to action movies for that.

At this writing, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is expected on December 23, 2022.

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Ancient Pants for a Rider Reconstructed

The precise construction of ancient textiles is often a matter of educated guesswork, since fibers—if they survive in the first place—tend to rot in most soil types. Now we have a little more to go on: in March 2022, a study was published on the technical details of fabric and finishing techniques of eight wool garments, including a spectacular pair of pants, belonging to a rider buried ca. 1200-1000 BCE.

One of the oldest preserved pairs of trousers in the world, the garment was found at Yanghai, Turfan (also known as Turpan), in the Xinjiang area in Northwest China. It’s an area with a long history and multiple tombs, as befits a stop on the Silk Road.

The breeches were made from three pieces: one for each leg and one for the crotch to combine the two sides.

HS Archaeological Research in Asia Wagner et al Turfan Rider Pants1

All three pieces included some woven patterning. Besides striping, the leg pieces also had a decorative band in a T-hook pattern (a kind of geometric design) around the knees.

HS Archaeological Research in Asia Wagner et al Turfan Rider Pants2

Interestingly, it seems that the pant pieces were woven on a loom into the final size and shape; no cutting from a longer length of cloth was involved. A combination of multiple techniques was also discovered: regular twill weave on the majority of the work, the weave on the knees, and a third method on the upper areas to create a thick waistband.

All this means a high skill level was needed in gauging not just the size of the future wearer, but also the amount of yarn required, plus naturally the various weaving techniques.

In the course of studying these clothes, reproductions were made. The outfit consists of the trousers, a poncho with belt, two pairs of braided bands (one below the knees and another at the ankles), and a wool headband.

HS Archaeological Research in Asia Wagner et al Turfan Rider Pants3

I’ve recently done some reading on recreating prehistorical clothing from scratch, and let me tell you, all of the shearing, washing, sorting, carding, spinning, dyeing, and—only at the very end—weaving plus sewing was no mean feat. The gorgeous (pre)historic garments we have managed to find must have taken a simply enormous amount of work to create. Even with a little weaving and band making plus a lot of sewing under my belt (pun intended—sorry, not sorry) I have a hard time imagining the magnitude of effort required in textile production before modern machinery.

Found and images via Helsingin Sanomat. (NB. Finnish only.) In English, you can read more at Science News.

How It Happens is an occasional feature looking at the inner workings of various creative efforts.

Trailer for Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

I had completely missed the news that there was a big budget D&D movie in the making! On the basis of this trailer, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves looks kinda bad, but fun kind of bad. Take a look yourself:

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves – Official Trailer | Comic Con 2022 by IGN on YouTube

I’ve been playing so much World of Warcraft in recent years that I’m woefully out of date with D&D, but I think I spotted familiar things in the trailer. Also handsome, at least on a quick view; they sure churn out decent special effects these days.

At this writing, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is expected to release in theaters on March 03, 2023.

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Epic Mashup: Captain R2-D2

We all know interesting mashups of genre characters, but this R2-D2 / Captain America mashup really takes the cake:

Twitter Daniel_Logan R2-D2 Captain America Mashup

When you think about it, R2-D2 is very like the Cap: starts small (although R2 never gets larger), doesn’t talk all that much, embodies persistence, can often jury-rig vehicles, kicks (space) Nazi butt, and despite modest beginnings turns out to be one of the most competent characters in the story. I’m all in with this one, LOL!

Image via Daniel_Logan on Twitter.

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Trailer for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

The first official trailer for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has now been out for a few weeks:

Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever | Official Teaser by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

OMG, what a different choice of music for the trailer—at first just a neat, atypical choice, then getting more and more sinister when juxtaposed with the imagery. Brr!

The underwater events and Mesoamericans scenes completely took me by surprise. (Seems surprisingly similar to the Avatar sequel about to be released this year, doesn’t it, or am I the only one to make the connection?) Looks awesome, though, and has so much potential for very inventive storytelling.

On the other hand, the tribute to Chadwick Boseman I did expect—or would’ve been surprised to see omitted. RIP; the world lost a huge talent.

Director and co-writer Ryan Coogler did such a fantastic job with the first Black Panther that I’ve no doubt that this sequel will be amazing. (Finally, FINALLY, there are A LOT of serious, powerful, purposeful roles for women!) I can’t wait!

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Teaser Trailer for Andor, a New Star Wars Series

Apart from Obi-Wan, another Star Wars series I might want to see is Andor. Here’s the first teaser:

Andor | Teaser Trailer | Disney+ by Star Wars on YouTube

And the second trailer:

Andor | Official Trailer | Disney+ by Star Wars on YouTube

There’s also what’s apparently not called a trailer but a sizzle reel for Andor from 2020 with some fascinating concept art and behind the scenes glimpses.

The first thing to really grab me was the birch tree in the first trailer (around the 20- to 30-second mark). I love birches despite their evil, evil pollen, but they’re rarely depicted in SFFnal screen adaptations. Now, though, birches are canonical in Star Wars. Woot!

Another thing of note is how different the two trailers are—I’d say the first mostly introduces a mood for the series, while the second starts rolling in the various characters almost at a breakneck speed.

I also loved that Mon Mothma seems to get a much larger role than in previous stories. Plus, Fiona Shaw! Shaw’s a superb actor (whom I know from Killing Eve, a screen adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion from 1995, and as Aunt Petunia in the Harry Potter movies) but, sadly, at this point Shaw is credited only for one episode in IMDB. Boo!

Add to all that more of Diego Luna and Stellan Skarsgård (seen in Dune, Chernobyl, the Thor franchise, and many others) plus the astounding set-building, propping, and costuming we’re sure to get in any Star Wars project, and I’m strongly considering a Disney+ subscription.

Andor will release on August 31, 2022, with a three-parter of a premiere.

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A World of Warcraft Druid Cosplay by Svetlana Quindt

Svetlana Quindt at Kamui Cosplay makes seriously impressive cosplay outfits from scratch. Here are a few of her photos of the druid tier 9 set from World of Warcraft.

Flickr Svetlana Quindt Druid T9 w Flute

Her attention to detail is amazing! Take a look at the Making of photoset on Flickr for a sampling.

Flickr Svetlana Quindt Druid T9 Vest Progress

And because merely sewing an intricate costume wouldn’t be enough, Quindt has embedded LED lights into some of the gems.

Flickr Svetlana Quindt Druid T9 Skirt w Gems

A staff, of course, is included.

Flickr Svetlana Quindt Druid T9 w Staff

OMG, there’s even a little pouch built into the shoulder piece! I’m afraid I’m way too impatient to make anything this detailed, even if I looked like an Elf… Although, the Dwarven females look about the right height for me if I squint hard. LOL! 🙂

Quindt has written blog posts on the build process, available at the Kamui Cosplay website.

Images: Druid tier 9 costume by Svetlana Quindt: With flute. Making the vest. Skirt with gems. With staff.

How It Happens is an occasional feature looking at the inner workings of various creative efforts.

Trailers for She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

Goodness, Disney+ is really churning out series this year! Among the upcoming releases is She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. Here are the two official trailers:

Official Trailer | She-Hulk: Attorney at Law | Disney+ by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

Official Trailer | She-Hulk: Attorney at Law | Disney+ by Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

I have no doubt Tatiana Maslany is going to be great, and it’s always nice to see Mark Ruffalo get screentime. Also Benedict Wong and Tim Roth (Abomination) will at least visit, but of course at this point it’s impossible to know how big their parts will be. I am also curious to see what Jameela Jamil can do with a role that isn’t ditsy and/or superficial. (At least I’m hoping that her role here won’t be a rehash of her role in The Good Place!)

At this writing, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is set to premiere on August 17, 2022.

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World of Warcraft Dragonflight Talent Calculator

Wowhead has made available a talent calculator for Dragonflight on the basis of preliminary info on the upcoming expansion. Hooray, we get to dink around with test builds ahead of time!

At this writing, there are only a limited selection of classes to try: death knight, druid, hunter, priest, and rogue. In addition, the new race / class combo, Dracthyr evoker, is available for preview. Excitement! Below are some thoughts from the point of view of my main toon, a balance druid.

Wowhead Dragonflight Talent Tree Balance Druid

On one hand, there still isn’t quite enough information available. For example, on the Druid Tree, I’d like to pick Frenzied Regeneration, but the description doesn’t say whether it’ll pop you into bear form immediately upon use, which would make it less useable for me. (I assume it does, but the button doesn’t say.)

It’s great, however, that you can elect to skip certain spells. For example, I’ve never taken to Typhoon or Cyclone; they’ve always felt awkward and unconducive to my playing preferences or our joint style when Erik and I play together.

So, assuming that I’ll skip a number of lower-tree talents due to personal preferences, I’m having a hard time assigning enough points to reach the 20 required level. If this tree configuration is retained for the release, I’ll just have to hold my nose, pick talents I’d rather skip, and just not drag them onto my action bars.

On the other hand, I love that a balance druid gets more healing spells than is available in Shadowlands. When we play our druids together, we have quite a bit of staying power. I used to play a healer when we raided, but when it’s just the two of us it’s more beneficial to have a tank + dps combo. At times, though, I could use a bit more heals—the tanks are more than fine—and now I’m going to get it. Yay!

In the Balance Tree, it’s especially delightful that we can choose Convoke the Spirits, a Shadowlands covenant ability. A huge surprise was that they’re moving one of my favorite spells, Fury of Elune, to an end-tree position.

What remains to be seen is how the spells and talents become available as you progress, but so far it doesn’t look too awful. 🙂

Image: screencap from Wowhead

Of Dice and Dragons is an occasional feature about games and gaming.