Harvest Moon 2017 & “Harvest Moon” 1992

This year’s Harvest Moon, which I read was a little later than usual, was obscured by clouds last week here in northeast Illinois. The near-full moon was nice and clear the day before, however.

Not long ago I found “Harvest Moon” by Neil Young and its slightly surreal video. I must have missed the song when it came out in the early ’90s. It’s a pleasant tune, practically a lullaby for adults. For middle-aged adults, to be more specific.

And who’s the guy always sweeping as the song goes along? Father Time would be my guess. Everything is swept away by time, after all.

I’ve written about named moons before. A fair long time ago, in fact. I suspect that most of the links at this posting about the Hunter’s Moon, the more obscure relative of the Harvest Moon, are long gone. Ten years is geologic time for YouTube.

Totality

There’s no suspense to this narrative: we saw the 2017 total eclipse in its full glory on Monday (Moon Day, fittingly) beginning at about 1:22 p.m. CDT. That’s hindsight, of course. During the 30 minutes before totality, there was no way to know which way the wind would blow, and where it would carry the clouds.

As the Moon slowly ate the Sun, people gathered at the McCracken County Library courtyard for the event.

Paducah KY Total EclipsePaducah KY Total EclipsePeople tried on their glasses.
Paducah KY Total EclipseDudes were stretched out on the grass with their glasses. This dude, anyway.
Paducah KY Total EclipseThe library was giving away glasses, but also cold water, tea and Moon Pies.
Paducah KY Total EclipseWe stayed at the courtyard a while, but then I went over to the plaza across Washington St. to see whether the vantage was better. The sky was more open there, and so we all went.

Later I found out that the place is formally called Dolly McNutt Memorial Plaza, named after the first female mayor of Paducah, who was in office during the 1970s. The plaza is a square city block, ringed on four sides by trees but open to the sky inside, and featuring memorials to various branches of the armed forces.

A sidewalk inside the plaza forms a smaller square around an oval-ish fountain at the center. On Monday afternoon, kids were splashing around in the fountain — which looked pretty scummy, actually — just like they would on any warm day.
Paducah KY Total EclipseAt that moment, people were looking to the sky all around the plaza.

Paducah, KY EclipsePaducah KY Total EclipseAt first, we sat under some of the trees, since it was still fairly hot. The curious shadows of the leaves were visible.
Paducah KY Total EclipseSoon we moved to the short set of steps surrounding the fountain and sat there. By then the sky was dimming and the air was noticeable cooler, maybe 10 degrees F. It wasn’t exactly a comfortable spot, but good enough for the minutes leading up to totality.
Paducah KY Total EclipseThe clouds had held back. I knew we were going to see totality unobscured from Dolly McNutt Memorial Plaza, at about 37.083543 degrees North, 88.598450 degrees West, according to calculations I later made using Google Maps, so take that for what it’s worth.

The dimming of the sky proceeded, unlike any dusk. I saw streetlights come on, and a flock of birds head out from a tree. The last of the crescent sun, seen through our glasses, dwindled to nothing. Then it happened. Glasses came off, people in the plaza mostly expressed themselves without words, cheering and whooping and even clapping, and the show was on. We were swept up by it.

Much has been written about totality. A common theme is that photos do it no justice. This is completely correct, even an understatement. The event doesn’t look like its pictures, not even the best images from the best machines. We fool ourselves into thinking that cameras capture images like the eye. A solar eclipse puts the lie to this. For human beings, eyes are the thing.

I’d never seen anything like it. The black disk — the corona’s tendrils — wisps — curls — glowing ringlets — luminous strands — and the surrounding darkness where sunlight should be — were awesome. As in, inspiring awe.

It wasn’t a religious experience. It didn’t make me appreciate the wonders of the cosmos any more than I did before, which is a lot. It didn’t change my life in any fundamental way. But the black sun and wondrous corona did make me very glad to be alive and fortunate enough to see such majesty.

One Hot Morning in Paducah, Kentucky

The weather forecast for Paducah, Kentucky, on August 21, 2017, called for partly cloudy skies. Ah, but which part? As good as weather forecasting has gotten in recent decades, that’s beyond its competence. When waiting for a solar eclipse under partly cloudy skies, you just have to hope for the best.

In the mid-morning that day, at least, partly cloudy meant high, thin cirrus clouds that probably wouldn’t obscure the eclipse too much. They certainly didn’t block the bright sunlight. So we went about our business. Mine was business. I got up early in the morning and wrote and filed and edited and so forth, continuing what I’d started Sunday afternoon and evening, compressing the day’s work into the morning, so I’d be free to watch the sky in the early afternoon.

Late in the morning, we checked out of the motel and headed to downtown Paducah, to seek out a late breakfast. We didn’t want to be distracted by hunger while looking up at the totality, nor during much of the drive home afterward. A scattering of stores along the way, and a few downtown, offered eclipse-related souvenirs.

That was the case even before we got to Paducah. One small-town restaurant not actually in the path of totality had a marquee advertising eclipse burgers and eclipse shakes, whatever those were. Officialdom, in the form of flashing highway signs, had also taken to warning drivers about traffic around the time of the eclipse. One sign — in rural Indiana, I think — said that pulling over to the side of the road to watch the event was unsafe.

All the way down to Kentucky, the radio mentioned the event, both in the form of news and deejay patter, some of it not very bright. On the morning of the eclipse, I spotted people wearing t-shirts commemorating the event. I know it was a superstitious feeling, but I thought that was a bad idea. Wearing a shirt about an event that hadn’t happened yet, and which could be spoiled to errant clouds? That’s just asking for cloudy trouble.

We arrived at about 11:00 for late breakfast/early lunch at the Gold Rush Cafe on Broadway. Gold rush indeed. The place was doing a land-office business. There was a 30-minute wait for a table, we were told. While the rest of my family waited, I took the opportunity to scout out the place where I’d planned to see the eclipse, a few blocks away at or near the McCracken County Library, which was holding an eclipse-themed event starting around noon.

I made my way from the restaurant south on 4th St., to Washington St., where I turned west. At Washington and 5th St. is the library, a modernist joint with a small area of greenery and trees next to the building. People were already gathering there, their cars filling the parking lot behind the library. Looked like an OK spot, as did the plaza across Washington from the library. I turned north on 5th past, amusingly, the offices of the Paducah Sun, and headed back to Washington. Another block east and I was back at the restaurant, sweating profusely. (Is there any other way to sweat on a hot summer day?) It was about 90 F and the sun was strong under those thin hazy clouds. Not perfect, but very good skies — if it would last another two hours.

We only waited about 20 minutes to get a table. The restaurant was abuzz with eclipse talk. The people at the next table, two of whom were wearing science-nerd t-shirts, talked about it. A woman at another table talked of seeing another eclipse in Australia. A bearded fellow at the table next to ours, eating by himself, talked to his waitress about where he might find some eclipse glasses. The place was full — more business than they usually get on a Monday, I figure — and the event seemed to be on everyone’s mind.

Later, I saw the restaurant’s Facebook page, which posted that morning: “Ok folks, I don’t imagine many of you are running around downtown today…. we’re taking our last orders at 12:30 so that way we can go see the eclipse as well. Thanks for your understanding!”

As for eclipse glasses, I’d acquired some Celestron brand shades online the month before, when I’d read that such glasses shouldn’t be used after more than three years. The ones we have from the Transit of Venus are five years old. That’s erring on the side of caution, since I don’t really know whether they degrade enough to be hazardous after five years.

Then, of course, there were reports of substandard glasses, either made carelessly or purposely so. If made with intentional disregard for eye safety, that’s as bad as making bogus antibiotics. Bastards. So that’s in the back of one’s mind, though I’d tested the glasses the week before in my back yard without ill effect. I’m glad to report that our Celestrons seem to have protected us.

As for a shortage of eclipse glasses on the day itself, there was none. The library was giving them away, and so was an antique shop across the street from Gold Rush Cafe (or maybe selling them, I didn’t ask).

While eating lunch, the skies outside dimmed for a short spell. I knew it was too early for the partial phase of the eclipse, so that meant only one thing: clouds. When we emerged from the restaurant some time after noon, white, fluffy cumulus clouds punctuated the sky. The kind you don’t mind seeing any other time. Some were sizable. This was bad. Periodically the sun would be obscured for a few minutes.

There was nothing for it but to wait. We spent a while in the antique store. I bought some postcards there, because of course I did, including an eclipse souvenir card. Glad I found it. The artist is Jane E. Viterisi, apparently a local artist.

At about 12:30, we went to the McCracken County Library. The crowd wasn’t enormous, but sizable. People were milling around, parked in chairs and sitting on the ground. Just about everyone had glasses. We tried our eclipse glasses out for our first look at the event while in the library parking lot.

There it was, through the shades that excluded all other light: a fat orange crescent sun. Quite a sight all by itself, and getting leaner all the time. Meanwhile, the skies around the sun were clear, but clouds lurked elsewhere. Totality was coming.

The Great American Solar Eclipse Road Trip

How long did I know about this week’s solar eclipse? I don’t know. It wasn’t because of the recent media buzz. The better part of a decade ago, probably. Sometime back then, I filed away the notion: I am going to see the solar eclipse of August 21, 2017. In the path of totality.

So I did yesterday, along with my immediate family. And some unspecified millions of other people. It was an event among events. During totality, we were in Paducah, Kentucky, which occurred there for a bit more than two minutes beginning at 1:22:15 pm CDT. All my remaining days, I will remember where I was at that moment, and what I saw, and so will the other members of my family.

I’d like to report that I overcame various trials and adversity to arrive at that place at that time, like an intrepid 19th-century scientist off to see eclipses over remote parts of the globe, but all it really took was a modest amount of planning, plus a bit of time and money. Back in October, for instance, I booked a room at a limited-service motel in Paducah for the night of August 20. I mentioned this to the clerk.

“That’s why you paid the regular rate,” she said. “People who booked this month had to pay twice as much.” Surge pricing among motels. She also claimed that nearby motels, only a bit better than the one we were staying in, charged $400 a night for some rooms. “And they’re getting it.”

We left on Saturday and drove from the northwest suburbs via Champaign-Urbana to Terre Haute, Indiana, where we spent the night of the 19th. On the way, we stopped at Shades State Park in Montgomery County, Ind.

The next day we went from Terre Haute to Paducah, spending a few hours in between in Vincennes, Indiana, on the Wabash River. We saw three things there: Grouseland, home of William Henry Harrison as governor of the Indiana Territory; the splendid Basilica of St. Francis Xavier, and the monumental yet obscure George Rogers Clark National Historical Park.

The thinking behind these stopovers was that seeing the eclipse at totality was no certain thing. Clouds don’t care about your peak-life-affirming-you-are-a-child-of-the-Universe experience, or even if you’re a scientist (or citizen scientist) looking to add to mankind’s body of total knowledge. It’s just another day to the atmosphere. So in case that happened — and the prospect kept me antsy for days — the trip wouldn’t be a total bust.

All together, the trip from our house to Paducah, using the most direct roads, is nearly 400 miles. St Louis is closer, about 300 miles, but I wanted to stay away from a large city for the event, which would mean adding crowds to crowds. Also, I’d acquainted myself with much smaller Paducah in 2009 at the same time as Metropolis, Ill. (misspelling Paducah in my posting), and found it pleasant enough.

Why see the eclipse at all? Because of the astronomy books I had as a kid that explained and illustrated the phenomenon, especially with maps of where total eclipses would be in far-off future years like 1979. Because of the eclipse of March 7, 1970, which was partial in Texas. My eight-year-old self made a pinhole box but, finding that unsatisfying — and this was before widespread eclipse glasses — I stole an instant’s look at it the thing itself in partly cloudy skies, very clearly seeing the black disk on the bright one. Because the subject came up at the planetarium I visited almost monthly in elementary school. Because men were going to the Moon at the same time. Because of the lyric in “You’re So Vain” that seems to reference the ’70 eclipse. The idea of winging off to Nova Scotia just to see an eclipse seemed (seems) impossibly intoxicating. Because of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and “Nightfall” and other stories and movies using an eclipse as a plot point. Because I read Isaac Asimov writing about the Eclipse of Thales, and later read Herodotus on that event, which probably was on May 28, 585 BC, and if so history’s first exact date. Because I read about the eclipse of May 29, 1919, which helped confirm general relativity. Because of the annular eclipse I experienced in Nashville (as a partial) on May 30, 1984, which dimmed the sky in a strange way. Because it’s a cool thing to see not before I die, but while I’m still alive, just like the Transit of Venus. Because, to paraphrase George Mallory, it’s up there.

Missed Perseids, a Satellite Flare and Saturn on a Saturday Night

Over the years, we’ve sporadically attended celestial viewings at the Spring Valley Nature Reserve, which isn’t exactly dark, but it’s darker than the surrounding suburbs. We went again on Saturday.

This time, the event was more popular than I remember it ever being, since besides viewing through a telescope set up on one of the reserve’s paths, a marshmallow roast was held near one of its buildings. Volunteers gave away marshmallows on prongs for a fire that had already been built. Such family-friendliness is going to attract people will kids. We had a few marshmallows ourselves.

There was a short line to see through the telescope — an expensive-looking piece of equipment, though I didn’t get the brand or model — and while we waited, we naturally did some naked-eye observations. While I was looking one way I heard, “Look, a shooting star!”

I was looking the wrong way. Of course. A few minutes later, the same thing happened. So I spent some time looking to where I thought the Perseids would be. Last weekend was the peak for this year, I’d read. I saw none. That has happened before. A few times.

So it goes. I did see a satellite flare, which was a first. I’ve seen a number of objects before that I’ve been sure were satellites, but this was different. This object was moving across the sky at the pace of a satellite, not a high airplane, and it was flashing for a few seconds at a regular interval. I’d read, years ago, that this can happen when the satellite reflects sunlight as it rolls — or pitches or yaws or whatever — in its orbit.

It might have been a Iridium satellite. Wiki, at least, has this to say: “Occasionally, an [Iridium] antenna reflects sunlight directly down at Earth, creating a predictable and quickly moving illuminated spot on the surface below of about 10 km (6.2 mi) diameter. To an observer this looks like a bright flash, or flare in the sky, with a duration of a few seconds.”

That’s exactly what I saw. Maybe they account for some number of UFO sightings, too. (If Venus can, why not an Iridium satellite? Unless Venus is where the UFOs are coming from.)

A few people in line had iPads with stargazing apps. I guess they’re called that (there are many, it turns out). I’d never seen one in use. You hold the iPad up toward any direction of the sky and the app will draw a not-overly-bright rendering of the constellations in the area. I didn’t get a close look, but it looked like a fair amount of information, including standard constellation patterns, star names and even fanciful illustrations.

I ought to think that’s cheating. Learn your constellations the old-fashioned way, dammit, from Chaldean herdsmen. But how different is an iPad app that from taking your paper star charts out and reading them by red light, and then looking up to see what you can see? Maybe the app should display red to help keep your night vision intact, but other than that it’s really no different, except easier to use.

After about 15 minutes in line, we arrived at the telescope, whose owner was enthusiastic about sharing with the public. Good for him. He had enormous spotting binoculars, too.

Jupiter was already beginning to set, so he turned it to Saturn, about midway up in the southern sky, and away from the clouds covering some of the sky that night. Yuriko, Ann, Ann’s friend and I all took a turn. Always nice to see Saturn.

Pretty Good Moon

“Supermoon” again, eh? I took a look. I would have anyway, because I usually take out the trash on Sunday evenings, as I did yesterday. I understand that the Moon was at perigee, and closer than it will be for more than 20 years. So I looked up and there it was, looking like a nice full moon. That’s all.

The Second Bank of the United States & The Faces Within

Unusually warm these last few days. Today was so pleasant I cooked brats outside and we ate them outside for lunch. More leaves are gone than not, so for the moment there’s a mismatch between temperature and foliage, for this part of the country. It’s certain not to last.

The Second Bank of the United States is at 420 Chestnut St. in Philadelphia, just two blocks from Independence Hall. The gallery was as sparsely visited on October 22, a Saturday, as Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell were overrun by visitors. It’s the bank that President Jackson famously slew with a veto of its re-chartering in the summer of 1832, an act that was the focus of the election that fall — which Jackson won resoundingly.

The building is a handsome, bank-as-Greek temple sort of structure designed by William Strickland. Him again. I hadn’t realized he was so prominent in Philadelphia, since I’ve long associated him with Nashville. These days, the building is known as the Portrait Gallery in the Second Bank of the United States, displaying many portraits of Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary luminaries.

That includes a large collection of paintings by Charles Willson Peale, whom I didn’t appreciate until looking at one portrait of his after another. The man had some serious talent for portraiture, and much else besides.

I spent time especially with lesser-known figures of the period, though I didn’t see Button Gwinnett. The nation may have just heard of that Declaration signer from Georgia, but I did a report on him in the 8th grade, when we had to do reports on signers (picked at random, I think). I remember him, because his name is hard to forget.

All of the portrait examples from the Second Bank of the United States posted here were painted by Peale. The Founding Fathers are always worthwhile to ponder, but a lot of other interesting people characterized the period. David Rittenhouse, for instance.

David Rittenhouse, Second Bank of the US

Talk about a lesser-known man of the Enlightenment. Of special interest to me is that he was a skilled astronomer — one of those worldwide who observed the Transit of Venus in 1769 — and first director of the U.S. Mint. Not only that, he built swell orreries and surveyed borders for mid-Atlantic states, including the half-circle border between Pennsylvania and Delaware.

“His scientific thinking and experimentation earned Rittenhouse considerable intellectual prestige in America and in Europe,” says the Penn University Archives & Records Center. “He built his own observatory at his father’s farm in Norriton, outside of Philadelphia. Rittenhouse maintained detailed records of his observations and published a number of important works on astronomy, including a paper putting forth his solution for locating the place of a planet in its orbit.

“He was a leader in the scientific community’s observance of the transit of Venus in 1769, which won him broad acclaim. He also sought to solve mathematical problems, publishing his first mathematical paper in 1792, an effort to determine the period of a pendulum. He also experimented with magnetism and electricity.”

Here’s John Dickinson, who didn’t support the Declaration. Later, though, he did his part for independence, and was a delegate in 1787.

John Dickenson, Second Bank of the US

“On July 1, 1776, as his colleagues in the Continental Congress prepared to declare independence from Britain, Dickinson offered a resounding dissent,” says HistoryNet.

“Deathly pale and thin as a rail, the celebrated Pennsylvania Farmer chided his fellow delegates for daring to ‘brave the storm in a skiff made of paper.’ He argued that France and Spain might be tempted to attack rather than support an independent American nation.

“He also noted that many differences among the colonies had yet to be resolved and could lead to civil war. When Congress adopted a nearly unanimous resolution the next day to sever ties with Britain, Dickinson abstained from the vote, knowing full well that he had delivered ‘the finishing Blow to my once too great, and my Integrity considered, now too diminish’d Popularity.’ ”

Here’s a nice dramatization of that moment from John Adams, with Dickinson portrayed by Zeljko Ivanek.

This is Thayendanegea, also known as Joseph Brant, a Mohawk war chief who was decidedly not on the side of the colonists during the Revolution.

Thayendanegea, Second Bank of the United States

He was pro-British in the war, in that it served the interests of the Iroquois Confederation. Awfully even-handed of the gallery to include him, though it’s good to acknowledge his leadership skills, which apparently were many in war and diplomacy.

“The Mohawks chose to support the British because American colonists were already overrunning their lands,” says Upper Canada History. The alliance was not unnatural as far as the Natives were concerned. For more than a hundred years, the Iroquois League had allied itself with the British in their long conflict with the Algonquins. Brant, Mohawk chief, had fought alongside the British in the Seven Years’ War and he remained loyal to the redcoats. This new alliance was really just a continuance of their long-standing cooperation…

“Brant fought with fierce determination against the Americans on the frontier and distinguished himself as one of their most courageous warriors and ablest strategists. His contribution to the cause did not go unrewarded. Of Brant’s loyalty and leadership, Lord Germain wrote, ‘The astounding activity of Joseph Brant’s enterprises and the important consequences with which they have attended give him a claim to every mark of our regard.’ In 1779 Brant received a commission signed by the king as ‘captain of the Northern Confederate Indians’ in appreciation of his ‘astonishing activity and success’ in the king’s service. Even though he esteemed his rank as captain, he preferred to fight as a war chief.”

After the Americans won the war, Thayendanegea led his people to Canada, with mixed results. He’s regarded highly enough in Canada to have been on a proof silver dollar in 2007, the bicentennial of his death.

The Dearborn Observatory

Nestled among a thicket of other buildings at Northwestern University is the Dearborn Observatory. Whenever you can, visit an observatory. So we did on Saturday, since it was part of Open House Chicago.
Dearborn Observatory 2016This particular building goes back to 1888, with the aluminum dome was added only in 1997, though there must have been some other dome before that. The story of the telescope inside goes back further. The remarkable Frederick A.P. Barnard, chancellor of the University of Mississippi, tasked the also remarkable Alvan Clark & Sons to construct a 18.5-inch refracting lens for the school, the largest yet made.

That was in 1859. By the time the lens was finished in 1861, Ole Miss (not so ole then, I guess) was in no position to take delivery. Before long the Chicago Astronomical Society bought the lens for a telescope at the Old University of Chicago.

Old Chicago — not the same as the modern university — folded in 1886, and eventually Northwestern got the telescope with the Alvan Clark lens, which it uses to this day. It’s quite a thing to stand in the presence of such a storied telescope.
Dearborn Observatory 2016How storied? The One-Minute Astronomer tells us — even though it mistakes E.E. Barnard for Frederick A.P. Barnard — that “in 1846 Alvan Clark established a telescope factory at Cambridgeport, Massachusetts. Clark and his two sons, with almost no formal training, learned how to build the finest refracting telescopes in the world. Many of their instruments remain in use today…

“Many important discoveries were made with Clark refractors, especially related to binary stars, stellar motion, and planetary studies.

• Asaph Hall discovered Phobos and Deimos, the moons of Mars, with the 26-inch USNO telescope. He also discovered a white spot on Saturn that helped determine the planet’s rotational period.

• Percival Lowell (falsely) observed canals on Mars with the famed 24-inch Clark refractor at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.

• And in 1861, Alvan G. Clark made a 18.5-inch lens for E. E. Barnard [sic] at the University of Mississippi. While testing it, he observed Sirius and glimpsed the faint companion predicted by Friedrich Bessel in 1844.”

Astronomer E.E. Barnard would have been about four years old when Clark was working on the future Dearborn Observatory lens. Oddly enough, I’ve known about him a long time — I happened across a reference to Barnard’s Star when I was in junior high, and wondered, who was Barnard and why does he get a star? Good reasons, it turned out. Alas, no Earth-like planets seem to orbit his star. Much later, I learned that Barnard Hall at VU was named after him; he attended Vanderbilt in its early years.

The Dearborn Observatory is open to the public for viewing on clear Friday nights. It’s a bit far to go to Evanston just for that, but one of these days we might do it.

Phil Plait at the Cernan Center

On Saturday evening, we – all of us but Lilly, who had other things to do – went to the Cernan Earth & Space Center to see “Bad Astronomy,” a show mostly narrated by Phil Plait. It pretty much encapsulated what he has to say: there’s a lot of bad astronomy in movies, astrology is nonsense, of course men went to the Moon, and so on.

Ann Feb 10, 2015Not much new for me, though Ann probably got something out of it. In fact, she said she did, but also that she already knew there’s no sound in space. Not many movies or TV shows set in space bother with that, usually for sensible dramatic reasons – imagine the Enterprise passing by without that swoosh — though I can think of a few exceptions: 2001, Firefly.

Plait also mentioned in passing, without naming it, that there’s a place on the Moon where the Sun (almost) always shines. Never heard of that before, and it intrigued me. He must have been talking about the Peak of Eternal Light, which besides sounding like a cult, is an actual place near the south pole of the Moon.

We also got Ann a shirt from the small gift shop (which has no postcards): a map of the constellations.

That Cold Blood Moon

It was too cold this morning to drag myself outside and document the snow clinging to the April grass and trees. Why bother anyway? It looked more-or-less like this.

Actually a little less snow coated the ground this time than seven years ago, at least as recorded by my pictures. There wasn’t quite as much sticking to the branches, and none on the street. In any case, except for shadowy spots, all the snow vanished in the afternoon sun, pale and weak as it was.

Missed the early morning Blood Moon, as some headline writers seem to be calling the latest lunar eclipse. They’re nice to see, but not worth getting up at 3 in the morning, especially when it was snowing when you went to bed a few hours earlier. It’s a hard enough sell when it’s merely cold outside, as it also was this morning.

I didn’t miss the season opener of Mad Men, which apparently got low ratings. As a casual viewer of TV, the last thing I care about is ratings, especially for a show that’s going to end on a schedule anyway. It was a decent episode, neither the best nor the worst of the series, and as usual seemed to inspire a lot of commentary, so I won’t really add to that total, even in my small way.

Writing about television in general seems to inspire a body of ridiculous, or at least pointless, writing. Not long ago I saw a headline something like this: “Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead Occupy the Same Universe.” The only reasonable reaction to that is, who cares?