Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Squid Mixes: Ginger Apple Wassail

Ginger apple wassail combines ginger beer and apple cider, an apple with sugar and cinnamon dunked in the mixture, ground nutmeg for garnish.  I got my recipe from Zero-Proof Cocktails by Liz Scott.  The process generates amazing kitchen aromas.

Overall, the project was a success in that the resulting drink was quite tasty.  However, as may be apparent in the photo, the apples exploded in the oven.  "You didn't core them?" said my wife.  Well, no, the recipe didn't say I should.  Oh well.  Live and learn.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Marvel Immersion Project: Thor #357-360

My Recent Reads

Thor #357
Originally Published July 10, 1985
Writer and Artist: Walter Simonson
  • Thor leads Frigga and the Asgardian children on the long walk back home.
  • Back in New York, Sif and Bill battle the GLF who are trying to rob a bank.
  • Cameo: Power Pack
  • Loki gives Lorelei a gift to bring Thor back under her spell.
  • The Enchantress plots revenge against her sister Lorelei for the latter's refusal to help in the battle against Surtur.

Thor #358
August 10, 1985
Walter Simonson
  • Thor is back under Lorelei's spell.  She convinces Thor that Loki should be King of Asgard.
  • Meanwhile, the Enchantress has cast her own spell on Lorelei so that the latter falls in love with Loki when she sees him.
  • Beta Ray Bill battles the GLF.  When the GLF learns their leader is Titanium Man, they turn against him.
  • Featured: The Scourge of the Underworld. 

Thor #359
September 10, 1985
Walter Simonson
  • Heimdall and friends discover Lorelei's spell over Thor and set out to free him from it.  
  • Thor, still enchanted, goes to Loki's castle and finds his brother and Lorelei in bed together. 
  • Thor flies into a rage and nearly kills Loki but the latter frees the former from Lorelei's enchantment just in time.
  • Now Thor must bring the Asgardians home from Earth.

Thor #360
October 10, 1985
Walter Simonson
  • The warriors are finally brought home to Asgard.
  • Thor wishes to go to Hel to free the mortals trapped there.
Angrboða via God of War Wiki

  • He asks Angerboda (based on Angrboða, the mother of monsters in Norse mythology) to tell him the way.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Star Trek: The Most Toys

Episode: "The Most Toys"
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 3, Episode 22
Original Air Date: May 7, 1990

Data is kidnapped by novelty collector Kivas Fajo (Saul Rubinek).  The Enterprise crew believes their friend died so it takes a while before they realize the foul play.  Determined not to play Fajo's game, Data engages in passive resistance rather than submitting to his captor's whims.  Naturally, Fajo is infuriated.

"The Most Toys" is a popular choice for favorite episodes but I'm not so keen.  I find Fajo grating.  It's too bad because I generally like Rubinek quite a lot.  We grew to be fans of his courtesy of his recurring role on A Nero Wolfe Mystery.  The story's most interesting moment comes near the end as Data is finally rescued via transport beam.  At that last instant, did he intend to kill Fajo or not?  Writer Shari Goodhartz and Brent Spiner both believe he did.  The producers insisted on greater ambiguity.

Acting Notes

Saul Rubinek was born July 2, 1948 in Föhrenwald, Germany.  His parents were Polish Jews who survived the Holocaust in hiding on a Polish farm.  They emigrated to Canada not long after Saul's birth.  

Like William Shatner, Rubinek cut his teeth at the Stratford Festival in Ontario.  He rose to prominence in the Toronto theatre scene, co-founding the Canadian Stage Company.  He began working in the US in 1970.

Film credits are impressive, including Wall Street, Bonfire of the Vanities (which he began shooting immediately after "The Most Toys"), True Romance and Unforgiven.  In television, he was a regular on both Warehouse 13 and The Last Tycoon.  He had recurring roles on Frasier, Leverage and, as noted above, Nero Wolfe.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Squid Mixes: Submarino

A submarino combines tequila and beer.  Just as with the boilermaker, you fill a shot glass with tequila, then drop it into the beer glass.  I got the recipe from The New York Bartender's Guide.

While whiskey can make beer -  especially a lager - better, tequila definitely makes it worse.  I'm glad to have tried it but I won't be having it again anytime soon.

Bitters of the Month

We tried the plum bitters as a substitute for Angostura in a Manhattan.  There was a mere hint of something different in the aftertaste and in the aroma.  Basically, I think it would do in a pinch but isn't really worth keeping in the regular rotation. 

Monday, January 18, 2021

Marvel Immersion Project: Thor #351-356

My Recent Reads

Thor #351
Originally Published January 10, 1985
Writer and Artist: Walter Simonson
  • Team Asgard/Avengers continues to battle Team Surtur in New York.  The good guys are losing until the 82nd Airborne shows up.
  • Among those joining in the fight:
    • The Einherjar, the spirits of those who have died in battle
    • Tyr, one of Thor's brothers and, at least in traditional Norse mythology, the God of War.  Tuesday is named for Tyr.  For those keeping score at home, that's four days of the week named for Norse gods:
      • Tuesday: Tyr's Day
      • Wednesday: Odin's Day
      • Thursday: Thor's Day
      • Friday: Frigg's Day
  • Surtur defeats Heimdall and shatters Bifrost, the rainbow bridge.
  • He defeats Thor, too.  Now Odin alone defends Asgard.

Thor #352
February 10, 1985
Walter Simonson
  • The battle continues on multiple fronts.
  • Among others, Hercules lends his strength to the cause.
  • Surtur defeats Odin and gets to the Eternal Flame to light his newly forged sword, Twilight.

Thor #353
March 10, 1985
Walter Simonson
  • Not so fast, Surtur!  Loki hid the real flame and replaced it with an illusion.  
  • In the broader battle of Asgard/Avengers vs. Fire Demons, the good guys finally win.
  • Featured: She-Hulk
  • Odin, Thor and Loki battle Surtur together.
  • Odin and Surtur fall into the chasm of Muspelheim which seals behind them.
  • Is the end of Odin???

Thor #354
April 10, 1985
Walter Simonson
  • Having sensed Odin's passing, Hela - based on Hel, the Norse goddess of death - comes to claim him.  Thor fights her off.
  • Thor leaves Asgard to confront his grief while wandering in the wilderness.  In spite, Hela kills his horse and Thor collapses in the snow.
  • Featured: Titanium Man.

Thor #355
May 10, 1985
Writer: Simonson
Artist: Sal Buscema
  • Thor is rescued by an enormous, powerful and clearly ancient man named Tiwaz.  Thor is convinced that his savior is Odin in disguise but Tiwaz convinces him otherwise.
  • This is probably my favorite Thor issue so far - less brawling, more thoughtful reflection on Thor's role in both Asgard and Midgard (Earth).
  • Ecclesiastes 3:1-5 is quoted: "To everything, there is a season..."
  • After Thor leaves, Tiwaz reveals that he is, in fact, the thunder god's great-grandfather.

Thor #356
June 1, 1985
Bob Harras/Jackson Guice
  • While out on a walk in Central Park, Hercules and Jarvis encounter a group of young boys.  Hercules regales them with a clearly fictional tale of a great battle between Thor and himself.
  • It's a light story - much needed after the heavy Surtur tale.
  • Hercules also tells of his mythological tasks, including the stories of...
    • Hydra
    • The Bull of Crete
    • Cerberus
    • Atlas

Friday, January 15, 2021

Star Trek: Hollow Pursuits

Episode: "Hollow Pursuits"
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 3, Episode 21
Original Air Date: April 30, 1990

It's a Barclay episode!

Lt. Reginald Barclay (Dwight Schultz) doesn't seem to be working out on the engineering staff.  He's socially awkward, constantly late and seemingly incompetent.  LaForge and Riker both want him transferred off the ship but Picard challenges Geordi to befriend the man and see if he can bring him around.

Barclay is one of the best recurring characters on Next Gen.  He is Trek's walking, talking cautionary tale.  In this episode, he's addicted to the holodeck, having created, among other programs, a Three Musketeers-scape in which all of the other characters are played by members of the crew.  Beverly is a fawning mother (or lover?).  Jean-Luc, Geordi and Data are a swashbuckling trio.  Will is a swordsman, too, though a diminutive one.  Deanna is the scantily-clad Goddess of Empathy.  All stand in awe of Barclay, a far more charismatic presence in this fantasy world.

The particular story is fair-to-middling but it's worth watching for Barclay.  

Acting Notes

William Dwight Schultz was born November 24, 1947 in Baltimore.  He attended Towson University.  He made his breakthrough as Captain Murdock on The A-Team.  Film appearances include The Fan, Fat Man and Little Boy and a cameo in The A-Team movie.  

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Squid Cooks: Æbleskivers

As mentioned in previous posts, most recently this one, my paternal grandmother was Danish.  For our family, the most important culinary element of that heritage has been æbleskivers, best described as ball-shaped pancakes.  Growing up, they were my favorite breakfast though worth noting, the only time my grandmother herself made them for us, they were served with dinner.  One Christmas several years ago, my father bought an æbleskiver pan for each household in our family along with a small packet of Danish recipes copied from the web - specific sites long forgotten.  That was probably at least 10 years ago.  At most, we've made them three times in the years since and that's a generous estimate.

If they're so good, why not make them more often?  Well, in truth, they're kind of a pain to make - or at least we all think of it as being a pain.  The trick is knowing when to flip them over and then how long to let them finish.  Too long and they'll burn, too short and they won't cook all the way through.  Then there's the act of turning them over without slopping the batter.  And what's the right implement?  A knitting needle is traditional.  I prefer long cooking chopsticks.  Usually, the first batch is a disaster, a sacrifice to the culinary gods.

As part of our COVID Christmas celebration, my wife suggested an æbleskiver breakfast/brunch over Zoom with our three households: ours in Vermont, my parents' in DC and my sister's in California.  As the primary Dane at our house, it fell to me to cook.

Shockingly, all went just fine, even the first batch.  Our soup spoons are the perfect size to scoop.  I didn't burn anything.  I didn't slop too much batter - in fact, learning to live with the imperfection of the process was a good thing.  They all got cooked through.  Really, they were lovely.  I might start doing this all the time!

Yup, totally jinxed myself.  I'm willing to risk it.  As with the Dickens reading, I'd be inclined to make this an annual tradition.

It was a Danish Christmas all around.  I got LEGOs, too: