Yesterday

Like all other modern-art masterpieces, the stove top & its stains don't retain their aesthetic appeal when photographed.

It happens to the best of us, but that's an amazing front-page headline typo to make it all the way to print.

And finally, my first brownies in a million years came out OK but rather dry. I wonder how it would be if I creamed the butter into the sugar when it's only softened instead of melting it.

Does Cuban cuisine still count as Cuban even if there's no pork in it?

Lunch from Thursday.

The dryer, naked

Taken as the machine was repaired on Wednesday.

Old Comics Wednesday: CAPTAIN AMERICA & THE FALCON #189

My sincere but probably self-defeating tribute to Frank Robbins' 1970s flirtation with penciling comic books continues with this Tony Isabella-scripted, Frank Chiaramonte-inked, Dianne Buscema-colored and Gaspar Saladino/Karen Mantlo-lettered chapter in Captain America's ongoing post-Watergate metaphorical meltdown.

When last we left them, Cap was crying and the Falcon was catatonic after the big reveal that the Falcon's life before they met was much more SUPERFLY than TO SIR WITH LOVE, which seriously flipped Cap's shit; I bet he's one of those guys who can't believe his girlfriend ever made out with anyone before him too.



I like that Cap knows exactly how many years he's known his partner; I know I would have to stop and do the math for that for, well, virtually everyone I know who's not my parents. Then again, I bet everyone who knows Captain America at all uses him as a resume job reference, so he probably has hundreds of "Years Known" figures already memorized.


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I'm pretty sure we already did this "hallucinating hero mistakes his partner for his enemies" angle earlier in this run, but it's still fun to see superdupers in vegetative states get their asses kicked. Right? ... Right? This better not be another one of those things like how supposedly not everyone shoots his teammates in the back of the head with a sniper rifle just to see which way they fall while playing games. [Even if true, the Boys & Girls club could have given me a warning before rescinding my basketball privileges for life.]


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I don't remember the S.H.I.E.L.D. guy with the widow's peak hair from the actual S.H.I.E.L.D. comic -- is this the first "Despite my obvious contempt for Nick Fury, his methods and the organization itself on top of the obvious fact that I'm so unstable that I shouldn't be allowed to supervise a car wash much less an agency entrusted with the Earth's safety, I'm still in charge when Fury's not around" pseudo- to outright-antagonist Vice/Assistant Director that's easy to drop into any story where the writer needs S.H.I.E.L.D. [or a facile metaphor for the C.I.A./America/Western Civilization] to be totally assholic?


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"Again, who's running this operation? I am, you long-established but ineffective supporting characters!"

What's that old saying? Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, it's a shame I probably just destroyed your other kidne -- OH MY GOD, IT'S THE RADIOACTIVE MAN!!! TAKE THIS, YOU COMMIE SONNUVA -- HAI-YAH! ... Sam? How did I mistake you for anothe -- BLACK NIGHT??? BUT YOU'RE DEAD! NO MATTER -- THIS WILL SCREW YOU AND THE HORSE YOU FLEW IN ON! HA HA! ... oh no, Sam! Are you OK?



Some panel transitions are more entertaining when the connecting tissue between them is cut out.



It's probably bad form to bag on the random shitty printing of a '70s Marvel comic -- a time when the company never met a production corner they didn't already cut twice [third time's the charm] -- but this panel's printing is hypnotic in its awfulness. I'd like to think that it's intentional; a clearly addled Cap could easily believe that an Asgardian temptress, whom he's fought several times in the past, would just show up to make out with him if she looks like a young-ish barfly at last call.

[SPOILER ALERT:

At the end of the issue, we learn that Cap's Enchantress hallucination is actually the villainess Deadly Nightshade, not the Falcon this time. This shocking revelation single-handedly killed any chance of a Cap/Falcon slash-fanfic boom.

END SPOILERS.]

Meanwhile, Cochren showcases the kind of management approach that gets a bureaucrat with even a career-endangeringly deep receding hairline into the #2 spot in any company; waving a gun around and making threats:


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It's hard out here for a pimp: One day, you wash up on the shores of a tiny Brazilian island; the next thing you know, you're wearing a chicken suit and Captain America is stomping a new mudhole in your ass when he's not making out with one of his foxy bitches.



This issue, and the overall thrust of the second half of Robbins' run as CAPTAIN AMERICA artist, in a nutshell.


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If memory serves, this was essentially Jesse Jackson's discarded first draft of his "I Am -- Somebody" WATTSTAX poem: "I ain't! Nothing! Captain America may have trashed me! But I ain't! Nothing! He may have trashed me like I was nothing! But I ain't! Nothing! I am! Something! And that something! Will be! The death of Captain America!"

Meanwhile, in JEFFREY COCHREN, OGLER OF S.H.I.E.L.D.:



Such is the power of Cap's heavy petting that it's distracting everyone -- even Cochren, who seems to be muttering dirty, dirty thoughts while he watches. Luckily, the Falcon recalls his training from master cockblocker, The Red Skull:


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It is a tasty bit of business to have Snap Wilson, having "lost" six years as Sam Wilson, think it's still 1969 instead of the then-actual 1975.

Rather than being annoyed that Wilson ruined his chances of getting laid while untold numbers of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents watch -- an item that hovers somewhere in the mid-20s of my personal bucket list -- Cap is delighted to see that he doesn't have treat his partner like a punching bag anymore:



However, no one sent the Falcon's partner Redwing the memo:


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The intelligence of animals in adventure stories is instantly adjustable -- a writer's crescent wrench for plotting -- but two things occur to me here:

One, the bird has been somewhere nearby -- presumably S.H.I.E.L.D. at least keeps the doors and windows closed in its deathmatch psyche-treatment room -- but the has sat out all of the asskicking his owner has taken. Either Redwing is so stupid that he doesn't recognize the Falcon, or he does recognize him but chooses to sit this fight out until the boss starts doing the heavy lifting.

Two: Once Wilson has regained some of his marbles, he instantly recognizes Captain America albeit not the part where they've been partners for the last six years. But Redwing either: 1.] Doesn't remember Cap, 2.] Remembers Cap but is following Falcon's psychic command, despite the Falcon's body having a different psyche in control or 3.] Remembers Cap, knows that something's wrong with the Falcon but has always wanted to claw Cap's eyes out.

Considering how often scientific studies indicate that performing animals like dolphins and circus elephants suffer from depression and seem to resent humans for enslaving them, I'd like to think that Redwing likes seeing Cap & the Falcon suffer whenever possible.



I just like these faces.



I haven't read any CAP comics in years, but I assume Dr. Faustus has made a big comeback sometime in the last decade; he's always a good device for writing Cap stories when the country is in a more severe shitter-downward angle than normal without having to embrace the reality that a Captain America who truly reflected the current state of the U.S. would be a stone-cold prick.

Anyway, I like that Cap strikes an odd pose to tell his pal all about the evil goddess he was making out with after he and she defeated another imaginary enemy. Does his gesture make any sense at all? When did supercomics artists stop getting instantly bored with talking scenes and finding ways to jazz them up visually, even if their jazz doesn't add anything positive to the story?

NEXT ISSUE: What's more deadly, Nightshade or Vince Colletta's corrective inks to Robbins' energetic pencils?

Cake du jour

Tonight I made a spiced applesauce cake (should use ground clove and a little nutmeg next time) while watching MST3K and hardboiling eggs for my salad dinner. All's well. Well, well-ish.

Never seen a turducken up close before.

I was surprised but not shocked to discover that these things are sold In boxes; that couldn't be more American if the component turkeys, chickens and ducks were red, white and blue. (Taken Monday.)

The Devil Takes The Earth Balance.

I made two dozen (one doz. Chocolate; one doz. Lemon-vanilla) vegan cupcakes with faux buttercreme frosting. Then, because they were comissioned for the VIP section of tomorrow night's hybrid heavy-metal concert/burlesque show at the Mt. Tabor theater (tickets still available; it's three bands rocking out after two hours of dancing ladies for just five bucks, Portlanders), I (did my best with almost no feeling in my hands) squeezed out some pentagrams onto them. ¡Hail Satan!

Cans of soup so large I to tell them "Fuck You." In a not-bad way.

Discover during a late-night/early morning grocery run. Just the soup in the can weighs more than most new-born children, although I doubt it's more delicious. (I was rocking the Blood Libel when rocking the Blood Libel wasn't cool, etc.)

I can't believe that I never took a picture of any of the banana breads I've made over the years. I may have to call this blog a liar.

By curiously popular demand, and because I'm still too grossed out by bananas to make this one myself any time soon:

Milo's Apparently Beloved Banana Bread

1/2 cup of butter, softened a bit
1/2 to 1 cup of sugar, depending on how ripe your bananas are
2 eggs

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, to taste

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 to 1 1/2 cups of overripe banana, mashed

1/2 cup walnuts/pecans/chocolate chips, if you really insist on such crap

Cream the butter into the sugar gradually, beating until it's consistent and rather fluffy. Add an egg, beat the hell out of it until fluffy. Add the other egg and beat it too.

Preheat your oven to 350f about now.

Combine the dry ingredients -- flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon -- and either whisk or sift them well, then slowly stir the dry into the wet mixture. Add the vanilla, stir it a bit, then add the banana and stir it better than you just did.

Take the nuts/chocolate chips and insert them back in your pantry; this bread doesn't need that crap to be good if you have some good about-to-go-bad bananas. Shame on you if you don't.

Pour the batter evenly into two greased bread-loaf [6x3x2"-ish or slightly bigger] pans. Bake for 50-ish minutes or until you start smelling it, and then test them with the old see-if-a-wooden-toothpick-comes-out-clean test. Let cool in the pans for 10-15 minutes, then pop them out to really cool down before cutting, ideally on a wire rack if you have one. You probably won't wait for them to cool before cutting off a piece, but you really should.

Mozel tov, you just mastered the tea bread -- replace the cup o' bananas with a cup o' berries and you have berry bread, replace/decrease the teaspoon of cinnamon with either orange or lemon juice and you have that kind of bread. Orange-cranberry bread, cinnamon-raisin, blood-of-your-enemies & butterscotch-chip bread, etc.

Happy Belated Xmas!

The best meatloaf I never made, smashed garlic potatoes and peas. Later we had my ginger cookies with some Trader Joe's chocolate ice cream.

Preparing for today's belated Xmas get-together

Ginger cookies --Grandma's fork-slating is nice, but I really should make them all tablespoon-sized half-scoops from now on -- and a gift paperback. I was too excited by the find to actually read any of it except the "Beer Books" stamp on the book's top; my hopes were later dashed that the book was a collection of games one can hold at birthday parties for drunks.

Ooo, Little Man has lost yet regained a bit of weight.

Taken/sent on the 13th.

Pre-bake apple crisp

Taken and baken on the 12th.

This used to be a bbq restaurant

Staggering around Hawthorne, post-acupuncture session. Taken 1/11/11.

Wednesday Evening Soul: What's Going On?

From the woefully obscure 1973 concert film SAVE THE CHILDREN, here's a complete version of a staple of Motown documentaries; Marvin Gaye and the Funk Brothers playing "What's Going On?" I remember footage taken from this film in somesuch documentary was the first time I had actually seen James Jamerson in action after reading a ton about him shortly after I discovered his genius by cranking the bass on my power-amp while listening to a Best of The Temptations LP. Even now, seeing him, The Funk Machine [his workhorse '62 Fender Prescision Electric Bass] and Bongo Eddie in living color is a real treat. Enjoy:

Slightly Burned Blondies

Only complaints: I would/should make my own butterscotch if I could, and not leave these in the oven a minute longer than a half-hour at the most. Made/taken yesterday.

Spiced-Apple Cake

I wasn't lazy enough to get out the blender to smash up the apples, so I made a lumpier, less dense cake.

Old Comics Wednesday: My Favorite Superman



From a characterization standpoint, my favorite Superman is the Siegel & Shuster original -- a slightly assholic man-shaped creature from another world who was clearly obsessed [as was the U.S. then*] with pursuing social justice over institutional mores and laws. These panels come from "The Empire In The Sky," a story bit later in the S&S run [ACTION COMICS #42] but have the flavor of the Superman I enjoy reading the most. Shuster had stopped drawing the strip by himself at least a year prior, with a studio of ghost artists assembled to handle the drawing chores of Siegel's scripts. This one must have been one of Leo Nowak's last jobs before he was drafted into the Army.



* Only Depression-era audiences could near-deify thugs like Bonnie & Clyde, Dillinger and Al Capone -- when a populace knows they're getting fucked over and there's nothing they can do to fight back without breaking the law, that's when their outlaws become their heroes. It's no surprise that the gangster genre and antiheroes in general made their big commercial comebacks in the country's profound disillusionment of early '70s and gangsta rap reigned supreme until the more extreme Mammonite hip-hop artists out-blinged them.

Tuesday Night Music Video: Zappacapella

My hometown's Crosby singing group does a medley of beloved Frank Zappa classics. Enjoy:



I hope the jeans-plus-sports-jacket uniforms are supposed to be amusing/ironic, too. As much as I enjoy acapella groups, there is literally no way to make them cool that doesn't require a winter night in a shitty part of Philadelphia or Chicago, a burning trash can and 1955.

The best thing to make with whole-wheat flour that no one will ever notice.

Here's my still-warm-from-the-oven first half of ginger cookies about to be eaten by a Neufchatel cheese-covered giant Pac-Man. You should come over and help me eat them all, but only if you bring another package of Neufchatel so I can properly make some frosting.

Also, Little Man and Mokey relax back East.

Welcome to Another Year

Land sakes, can't you believe I forgot to spend five minutes making a visual aid for my post bringing in the new year? Actually, if you know me and/or this blog at all, you can believe that quite easily. Irregardlessly:



OK, enough of this New Year's Crap.