Monday, November 29, 2021

Marvel Unlimited: Marvels #4, X-Men #38-39, Uncanny X-Men #319-320

Marvels #4 offers a retelling of what is arguably Marvel's single most important story: the death of Gwen Stacy.  Phil Seldon befriends Gwen in an effort to learn the truth about her father's death.  Phil witnesses the tragic event himself and is thus as shocked and heartbroken as the rest of us.  It's a powerful moment in a powerful series.  I am glad to have experienced it.  I'm not prepared to say Marvels is the best series I've read in this exploration as the full impact is so dependent on familiarity with the source material.  But there's no denying the quality.

Next up is the Age of Apocalypse, an X-Men event crossing over numerous titles.  There seems to be a lot of disagreement over the reading order and even which issues are included in the story.  Marvel has, in fact, changed the order in different editions of its collected trades.  For now, until I am convinced otherwise, I will trust in Comic Book Herald's reading list.  He has guided me well thus far.

My Recent Reads

Marvels #4
Originally released March 22, 1994
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Alex Ross

via Marvel Unlimited

X-Men Vol. 2 #38
November 1994
Fabian Nicieza/Andy Kubert

via Marvel Database

Uncanny X-Men #319
December 1994
Scott Lobdell/Steve Epting

X-Men Vol. 2 #39
December 1994
Nicieza/Terry Dodson

via Marvel Database

Uncanny X-Men #320
January 1995
Lobdell and Mark Waid/Roger Cruz
via Amazon

Friday, November 26, 2021

Star Trek: The Masterpiece Society

Episode: "The Masterpiece Society"
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 5, Episode 13
Original Air Date: February 3, 1992

The Enterprise rescues Moab IV, a genetically engineered society, from destruction but the resulting cultural contamination brings its own complications.  For the inhabitants, our heroes represent the first outside contact in multiple generations.  Deanna Troi falls in love Aaron Conor, the community's leader and he invites her to stay.  Meanwhile, Geordi LaForge demonstrates to his scientific counterpart that his blindness does not prevent him from making meaningful, world-saving contributions.

Much of the writing and production staff didn't care for "The Masterpiece Society" in the end, just another loss of innocence narrative for Star Trek.  But it works for me.  I found each dilemma, as well as its resolution, believable.  And it's a nice story for both Troi and LaForge who don't always get the strongest material.  Yes, it's another doomed affair for Deanna but I buy this one.  Her reluctance to leave feels real.  And it's always fun when Geordi gets to be brilliant, and this time not just for his facility with gears and gizmos.  He gets to make a broader point.

So, not the best Season 5 episode so far but it feels like we're heading back in the right direction after a few mediocre efforts.

Acting Notes

Dey Young played the role of Hannah Bates, the lead scientist on Moab IV.  Young was born Anna Dey Young in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, July 28, 1955.  Her sister, Leigh Taylor-Young, is also an actress.  Their brother Lance is a writer and producer in film.  Dey Young's films include Rock 'n' Roll High School, The Running Man, Pretty Woman and Spaceballs.  This was her first of three Trek appearances in three different roles in three different series.

In addition to acting, Young is a professional sculptor.  Check out her work here.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

On the Coffee Table: Steve Almond

Title: Candyfreak: A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America
Author: Steve Almond

via Amazon

In his bio on the back cover, Steve Almond states that he's "eaten at least one piece of candy every single day of his entire life."  In other words, he takes this stuff seriously.

Almond took a self-designed tour of independent candy companies across the United States, among them Lake Champlain Chocolate in Vermont and Idaho Spud in Boise.  As in so many consumer product industries, the candy company is dominated by a small number of giant corporations we all know well: Hershey, Nestle and Mars.  But a few regionally-distributed gems have miraculously survived, even 20 years after Almond wrote his book.  Predictably, Almond's book reflects a nostalgia for a simpler time.

Delightfully, Almond also reveals an industry not entirely unrecognizable to a Wonka fan.  The corporate espionage in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was true to life.  Since a candy bar can't be patented, the production processes are closely guarded secrets.   All of these companies maintain their own ancient equipment as replacing it would run the risk of drastic changes to the products their small but loyal consumer bases have grown to love.

I enjoyed the book thoroughly.  The one drawback for me was Almond's tendency to dwell on his own personal narrative within this adventure.  Frankly, I found it difficult to care - didn't find him particularly likable.  But the candy material is fun.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Squid Mixes: Ingrid

November is Film Noir Month.  Therefore, I have named my latest invention Ingrid, after Ms. Bergman, of course.

via Amazon

In an effort to find a good use for my Bitters of the Month, Bittermens 'Elemakule Tiki (ET), I combined ideas from a couple suggested recipes from the company website.  Using my Manhattan proportions, 3:1 with 3 dashes, I combined bourbon, elderflower liqueur and the ET bitters.  The result was quite fruity.  Our still underage daughter took a sniff and sensed raisins, orange, rose and honey (future sommelier?).

My wife and I both liked the drink though she felt it needed a stronger bass note.  So, for round 2, I tried rye instead.  Winner!  So...


3 oz rye whiskey
1 oz elderflower liqueur
3 dashes 'Elemakule Tiki bitters
Maraschino cherry garnish

Monday, November 22, 2021

Marvel Unlimited: Marvels #1-3

Marvels is a wonderful series.  The history of the Marvel Universe is told from the perspective of Phil Sheldon, a professional news photographer.  We revisit loads of big events: the Richards' wedding, the introduction of the Sentinels and best of all, for me at least, the Galactus/Silver Surfer story.  The source material is vast.  Some of it I know, some I don't, though the series certainly leaves me curious enough to backtrack.  

The broader themes are the most important where the Phil Sheldon story is concerned.  What happens when the everyman gets caught up in the anti-mutant mania, then finds a mutant child living hidden in his own home?  How does he react to the ebb and flow of public trust in the superheroes?

Without question, the highlight of the series is the artwork.  Alex Ross's painted images are stunning, especially for the Galactus story.  

My Recent Reads

Marvels #1
Originally released November 9, 1993
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Alex Ross

Marvels #2
December 14, 1993

Marvels #3
January 25, 1994

Friday, November 19, 2021

Star Trek: Violations

Episode: "Violations"
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 5, Episode 12
Original Air Date: January 27, 1992

Three telepathic Ullian historians are aboard the Enterprise.  Meanwhile, several members of the crew, beginning with Deanna Troi, are having intense hallucinations, then falling into comas.  Coincidence?  Of course not.

Another awkward attempt at a rape story.  In Deanna's vision, she is assaulted by who appears at first to be Wil Riker, though the image shifts to be that of Jev, one of the Ullians.  There's a bit of a mystery structure to the narrative, though that is undercut by the lack of any real surprises or twists that stick.

The whole thing's uncomfortable.  I mean, a rape story should be, of course, but if anything, it doesn't go far enough if the intent is to explore the issue.  Even Picard's little speech at the end about the potential for evil in each of us rings hollow.

Seeing Picard with hair is fun.

Acting Notes

Ben Lemon (Jev) was born in Tarrytown, New York.  Other television appearances include House M.D., Desperate Housewives and The Practice.  In film, he kind of specialized in early '90s sequels: Die Hard 2, Hot Shots! Part Deux! and Weekend at Bernie's II.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Squid Mixes: Jewel Cocktail

A Jewel Cocktail combines gin, green Chartreuse, sweet vermouth and orange bitters.  The same can be said of a Bijou Cocktail, though, at least according to The New York Bartender's Guide, the proportions are different: 4:3:2 + 3 dashes for the former, 3:2:2+1 for the latter.  The Jewel also calls for a cherry garnish.  I felt this particular mixture emphasizes the anise flavor in the Chartreuse.