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:

Monday, January 11, 2021

Marvel Immersion Project: Thor #345-350

My Recent Reads

Thor #345
Originally Published July 10, 1984
Writer and Artist: Walter Simonson
  • The story of the Casket of Ancient Winters begins.
  • Korean War vet Roger Willis is told of the casket.  He doesn't know what it is but he's been charged with protecting it with his life.
  • Thor arrives, having broken a date with Melodi across town in order to help.
  • Malekith wants the casket, too, and kills Eric, Roger's eternally youthful father, in the pursuit.

Thor #346
August 10, 1984
Walter Simonson
  • Roger finds the casket on an abandoned stretch of the West Side Highway and is almost immediately attacked by Malekith and the Hounds of the Hunter.  Thor helps to fend them off.  The Hounds' weakness: iron.
  • Back at Melodi/Lorelei's apartment, Thor finally drinks her enchanted golden mead and is compelled to fall in love with her.
  • Unfortunately, the Melodi in attendance is not the real thing but an animated stock of wood.  The real Melodi/Lorelei has been kidnapped by Malekith.
  • To get her back, Thor must bring the casket to the Cotswalds of England.

Thor #347
September 10, 1984
Walter Simonson
  • Thor and Roger head to the Cotswalds to rescue Melodi.
  • Thor battles Algrim.  Malekith sends both into a bottomless chasm.
  • Meanwhile, Malekith blinds Roger (fortunately, only temporarily).
  • Back in Asgard, Balder meets the Norns.
Fandral, Volstagg and Hogun via Wikipedia

  • Odin summons the Warriors Three - Fandral, Hogun, Volstagg - and commands that they prepare forces for war.  He senses that Surtur is about to attack.

Thor #348
October 10, 1984
Walter Simonson
  • Thor and Roger defeat Malekith, but not before Malekith destroys the casket.
  • Surtur enters our realm and Asgardian forces brace for war.

Thor #349
November 10, 1984
Walter Simonson
  • The shattering of the casket causes unseasonable cold in Midgard, a winter experienced in other Marvel publications at the time which is kinda cool (pun intended).
  • Roger suspects Melodi/Lorelei's enchantment of Thor but through a separate spell, she prevents him from telling Thor.
  • Odin tells the history of the struggle against Surtur, the story that begins his own rise to power as ruler of Asgard.
  • Beta Ray Bill is summoned to Asgard to help in the coming battle.

Thor #350
December 10, 1984
Walter Simonson
  • Odin summons all of the Norse gods and goddesses to aid in the battle against Surtur, including:
    • Hermod, based on Hermóðr, the messenger of the gods
    • Skurge the Executioner
    • Amora the Enchantress
  • Thor enlists the help of the Avengers, including Captain Marvel (new alias: Monica Rambeau), Scarlet Witch, Starfox and the Wasp.
Monica Rambeau via Wikipedia

Starfox via Wikipedia

  • All but Odin and Heimdall go to New York to fend off Surtur and his minions.  Odin and Heimdall remain to defend Asgard.
  • Surtur breaks through when Bifrost is revealed, a result of the freak winter storm.
  • To be continued...

    Friday, January 8, 2021

    Star Trek: Tin Man

    Episode: "Tin Man"
    Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
    Season 3, Episode 20
    Original Air Date: April 23, 1990

    The Enterprise welcomes the Betazoid Tam Elbrum (Harry Groener) aboard.  Elbrum is highly telepathic, even by Betazoid standards.  Together, our friends investigate a bio ship life form currently hanging out near a star about to go supernova.  Complicating matters further, the Romulans get involved.

    "Tin Man" isn't in the top tier for Season 3 but it has strong moments, enough to warrant an Emmy nomination for Visual Effects.  Groener is good: highly annoying from the get go, though undoubtedly intentionally.  We gain greater sympathy for him over time.  The ending is surprisingly touching, including some meaningful new awareness for Data.  Plus, of course, I'm a sucker for any and all Wizard of Oz allusions.

    Acting Notes

    Groener was born September 10, 1951 in Augsburg, Germany, both of his parents accomplished musicians.  His family emigrated to the United States when he was two years old.  He apprenticed with the San Francisco Ballet as a teenager then studied drama at the University of Washington.

    His musical theater credentials are impressive, including three Tony nominations for Oklahoma!, Cats (he was the original Munkustrap, the narrator) and Crazy for You.  His best known television role was Mayor Wilkins in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  He was also a regular on Dear John and made two appearances as the Secretary of Agriculture on The West Wing.  This is his first of four Trek appearances.

    Wednesday, January 6, 2021

    Bitters of the Month: Plum

    The label on Fee Brothers' Plum Bitters indicates the flavor is meant to mimic British plum pudding.  This explains the cinnamon scent that hit me upon opening the bottle.  Considering our success with peach bitters, I'd have been happy with another simple stone fruit hint but the spices on offer suggest other possibilities...

    Stay tuned.

    Tuesday, January 5, 2021

    On the Coffee Table: Clemency Burton-Hill

    Title: Year of Wonder: Classical Music for Every Day
    Author: Clemency Burton-Hill

    via Amazon

    Year of Wonder is an ambitious project.  Writer, radio/television presenter and professional violinist Clemency Burton-Hill selected a classical piece to share each day of the calendar year, including Leap Year Day along with historical notes and a brief explanation for each choice.  The intention was to introduce the genre to newcomers with varied and easily digestible tidbits and also exhibit enjoyable works beyond the canon for those more knowledgeable.  I read along for the entire year and also managed to find a not quite complete Spotify playlist so I could listen, too.

    It's made for a most enjoyable year, at least as far as listening to quality music is concerned.  Burton-Hill includes a wonderful variety by era, instrumentation, nation, etc.  In particular, she included the work of numerous female composers, a most welcome consideration at our house.  I've always enjoyed learning about composers anyway.  I first learned the stories of the big names - Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, etc. - from flim strips (remember those?) shown by my elementary school music teacher.  To me, they were like characters in a book.  As such, learning lots of new names was fun.  Not surprisingly, quite a lot of composers have lived, shall we say, colorful lives.

    There are flaws, including a predictable northern hemisphere bias where seasons are concerned (the author is British).  Also, Burton-Hill takes the Mozart Effect at face value and one most definitely should not.  But overall, the strengths far outweigh the few nit-picky flaws.  I would love to see similar books for jazz and rock.  Might I have to write those myself?