Dead DC

Is everyone ready for Halloween? Costumes chosen, wigs purchased, ready to begin the revelry? We here at the Ladies have already participated in the best annual celebration around – the Comicazi Halloweeniversary! Since once again it falls to me to write the Halloweek post, I thought I’d share the group costume I was part of this year in case you’re in need of some last-minute comics related ideas. But rather than go into elaborate detail on how the costumes were created, I’m going to give you a quick rundown of who the characters are, since they’re a bit less well-known.  I’ll give a scale of 1-10 on costume-making ease though, 1 being that you could make it with all things you have lying around the house, 10 being that it requires special equipment and a license to operate heavy machinery.

We decided to go the spooky route this Halloween, so our theme was DC comics characters who are either dead or have death-related powers. I’m calling it Dead DC, but really only half the team counts as officially having shuffled off this mortal coil.

 

Dead DC heroes

Spooooooooky

We’ll tackle this group of ghouls from left to right. A note to sticklers – some of these characters date back to the Golden Age, which means they’ve been changed and retconned – the back stories I’ll give are the ones we were specifically going for with our interpretations of the characters.

On the far left we’ve got Gary as The Spectre. 

The Wrath of God, baby.

The Wrath of God, baby.

Who is he? Jim Corrigan was a hard-boiled detective who was murdered by gangsters. However, when his soul tries to get into the afterlife, a mysterious voice  tells him that rest is not his fate – he’s to go back among the living and eliminate the evil in the world. He promptly finds the gangsters who killed him and gets some gruesome vengeance. He’s become the spirit of God’s wrath, punishing evil with single-minded purpose.

Dead or not? Dead, or at least a spirit, but needs to be bonded to a human host to properly channel his wrathful energies.

Powers: God-like. Basically, The Spectre wills something to happen and it does. He’s punished evildoers in a variety of creative ways, largely in the “poetic justice” vein – for example, killing a bank robber with a tornado of dollar bills.

Costume difficulty: 3 While this requires some make-up and a cape, neither is terribly complicated. The Spectre is typically shirtless, but as Gary demonstrates, a white shirt or body suit is easier than 20 tubs of greasepaint.

Next up is Bill as Mister Bones

Do you think the chain smoking is what keeps him so thin?

Do you think the chain smoking is what keeps him so thin?

Who is he? A gynecologist named Dr. Love decided to experiment with six of his pregnant patients, injecting them with a mutagen, in order to create a team of meta-humans, then kidnapping the babies to raise as his own. One of those children was Mister Bones, whose skin, muscles and organs were rendered transparent by the mutagen – he looks like a living skeleton. When the kids learn about the doctor’s treachery, they decide to become a supervillain team. Eventually they are rehabilitated, and Bones becomes the  regional director of the Department of Extranormal Operations, the government agency dealing with metahumans in the DC universe.

Dead or not?  Totally not dead. He just happens to look that way.

Powers: Besides the see-through skin, which pretty useless as a power, Mister Bones has superhuman strength, which is pretty great. Unfortunately, he also produces cyanide in his sweat, resulting in the death of anyone he touches, which is pretty terrible. All in all it’s kind of a wash.

Costume difficulty: 2. You just need a suit, which you may already have, and a skull mask, skeleton gloves, and bald cap. Or you can do what Bill did and wear a hat, making this costume even easier.

In the red is me as Deadman.

Do you think he gets satellite reception with that thing?

Do you think he gets satellite reception with that thing?

Who is he? Boston Brand was a trapeze artist in the circus who performed under the moniker of Deadman. One night during his act, he’s shot and killed by a mysterious assassin known only as The Hook. Like Jim Corrigan, however, death is not the end for Boston – a Hindu goddess named Rama-Kushna sends his spirit (though not his body) back to earth with the power to possess any other living being, with the task to find his murderer and obtain justice. (Also, as a fun trivia fact, Boston had a twin brother named Cleveland. This is not particularly relevant, but I thought you should know.)

Dead or not? Deadman is most definitely, really, truly dead. It’s right there in the name, really. He’s a ghost and that’s that.

Powers: All of the basic spook powers – flight, invisibility, intangibility (so he can walk through walls), and of course, possession, which allows him to interact with the living world.

Costume difficulty: 7. Most of this costume is pretty easy, but you probably don’t have it lying around – the red spandex suit, the face make up. My shoes are just sneakers duct-taped in red, and the D is duct tape also. The really tricky bit is the collar, though naturally it was the entire reason I wanted to do this costume. It’s magnificent. Mr. Menace made it out of cardboard and velour fabric, with the addition of a white “chest” that attached to my real one. It’s a thing of beauty, and wore well. Don’t expect to have even a little bit of peripheral vision, however. It’s no wonder Boston Brand was killed – he was pretty much the easiest person to sneak up on ever.

Bonus: DC Nation has put out shorts of the cutest Deadman ever, and here he is:

Last up we have my own dear Mr. Menace as Ragman.

There's a little something on your cape...

There’s a little something on your cape…

Who is he? Rory Regan is the son of a junkman in Gotham City – his dad owns a shop called Rags ‘n Tatters. But he also has a secret – he’s also a mystical Jewish vigilante known as the Ragman – in possession of a mystical suit of rags, each of which is the soul of someone the Ragman has brought to justice. Rory’s dad passes on the mantle, and Rory begins to fight corruption and occult forces in Gotham.

Dead or not? Rory himself is alive, but he’s running around in a suit made out of the souls of dead people. I’d call that about 50/50.

Powers: Ragman can tap into the powers and abilities of the folks whose souls make up his suit, allowing him to increase his stamina and endurance. The suit also has teleportation powers, and can take on other forms if needed. His primary power, however, is sucking the souls of out of terrible people and adding them to his suit. Are you seeing a theme with these heroes? A light touch they are not.

Costume difficulty: 4. Once again, you’ll need to get a spandex suit for this costume, and the cape is a bit more elaborate than The Spectre’s. Rather than sewing patches onto the suit, however, we took the easy way out and just made them out of duct tape in a variety of colors and patterns. It looked great and was pretty simple.

Bonus trivia: Ragman is known as “The Tatterdemalion of Justice.” Make of that what you will.

So that was my Halloween – what will you be this year? What character would you most like to be if you had the chance?

Smalerie Shares Some Halloween Comics

Ah, Fall.  Such a lovely time of year.  Days filled with foliage, apple picking, and various fun things to do outdoors.  Nights filled with warm drinks, and cold sweats trickling down your back as you gorge yourself on everything spooky for Halloween…  Well, at least that seems to be much of the case in the Smalerie household.  Between The Boy’s great love for bad horror movies, Mokey’s wardrobe of costumes, and my constant internet research on Halloween themed food-items – it’s a pretty great time to be a New Englander.  And since I assume that many of our blog readers are like-minded Halloween-loving fools, I though I’d use my turn this month to share the Halloween comics I managed to scare up.  Let’s start with the most bleak, shall we?

Marvel Zombies Halloween – Fred Van Lente (writer)

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To save you from the disappointment I felt, I will tell you right now that none of the zombies actually go Trick or Treating. Boo.

Before grabbing this one shot, I had never read any of the other Marvel Zombie titles other than that terrible Christmas one I reviewed last year.  While I find many zombie stories interesting, it is not one of my top genres, so unless someone recommends it to me, I often skip stories about the walking dead.  And to be completely honest, the idea of superheroes turned to zombies felt a little too trendy and gimmicky for my taste.

I’m not going to go as far as to say I was pleasantly surprised by this title, but there were a few moments I liked.  Zombie Squirrel Girl and her horde of furry minions was neat to see and I was surprised to discover how many characters I was able to recognize.  The story itself is a bit thin and often feels emotionally manipulative as it makes sure to stuff in elements like adorable children and cute kittens trying to have just a smidgen of holiday fun in a world that is otherwise terrifying and bleak.  While I don’t think it will make people run out to read more Marvel Zombies, it’s not a bad 10 minute read as a subscription or $2 digital purchase.

 

Batman: Li’l Gotham #1 – Derek Fridolfs, Dustin Nguyen

Halloween Comic Fest 2013 - Batman - Li'L Gotham Special Edition 001-000

Pretty darn cute, right?

Oh man, did they have my number when they created this series.  Another series with cutely drawn little Batman and assorted characters?  Take my money now, fools!  No, it isn’t as good as Tiny Titans in terms of pure sweetness, but it is also written for a family-friendly audience and the art is just a ton of fun in terms of expression and color.  There is a nice mix of humor and sentiment in this issue as Batman tries to prevent Damian from taking out every kid who made the bad choice to dress as a villain for Halloween.  Damian comes off as bratty without going overboard and there was a moment or two that completely confirmed my theory that having Batman as your dad could indeed be a pretty great thing, especially when he buys you calzones for dinner.  This issue is available online for $1 and was given out for free last year as part of Halloween Comicfest 2013.  Not a huge investment for a little taste of the series.  I fully intend to read more myself.

 

Lobo/Demon – Helloween – Alan Grant, Vince Giarrano

Lobo - Demon - Helloween [1996] (Mendax - DCP) {DC} 00 (1)

I think the cover for this one pretty much speaks for itself.

What?  Another Lobo Holiday book?  Apparently, no one enjoys celebrating holidays more than the Main Man himself.  Even if the story BARELY has anything to do with Halloween and has most of the action occurring in space.  Who am I kidding?  This really isn’t a story.  It’s just an excuse to have Lobo and Etrigan team up again.   That’s ok with me though.  It’s just so ridiculous that you don’t even care.  Epic battle and cheap rhyming commence!

On a more serious note though, I feel that this is the kind of book you either love or hate.  You either revel in fact that Lobo fights a space dragon, or you roll your eyes at how over the top everything is.  A book of this kind feels oddly nostalgic because the style of writing and art feel so rooted in the 90s.  That isn’t necessarily a bad thing for me.  And just to alert you all of my bias, I will pretty much read any story that has Etrigan in it.  He will both tear off your face and wear adorable booties at the same time.  He’s always worth digging through The Boy’s comic boxes to find.

 

So, readers out there in the internet’s spooky mists, what are you up to this Halloween season?  Any book titles you want to share with us?  Or maybe just want to tell us how excited you are for Comicazi’s Halloweeniversary this weekend?  Well then,  have at that comment box below.  And be sure to show no mercy.

 

 

Five More Reasons You Should Be Mad At Mathew Klickstein

slimed-cover

By now, you’ve almost certainly heard about the bizarre, offensive interview that the author of the new book Slimed!, a history of the early years of kids’ cable network Nickelodeon, did on Flavorwire. If you haven’t, here’s the original interview.

Sadly, racist and sexist drivel like this is all too common in the world of pop culture nerds. That’s part of why I usually don’t comment on it. Most times, I’m content to let other people who share my feelings on the subject do the talking. But this case goes beyond just the usual ignorant garbage.

Should we be mad at Mathew Klickstein because his views on race and gender are vile? Absolutely. But there’s a whole slew of other things he’s done in this single interview that shouldn’t be ignored.

1. He can’t make a consistent argument

The idea that a character should be Caucasian unless the show is entirely about the character being from another racial and cultural background is loathsome. Klickstein’s inability to make this terrible argument without repeatedly contradicting himself is just icing on the insult-to-the-reader’s-intelligence cake. For example, what does Klickstein think about people writing characters who are a different race than the writer?

I was talking with the guy who wrote for DC, and he made a really good point: Why does someone who’s making something about a black person need to be black? Why does someone making a show about an Indian person need to be Indian? Why does someone making a show about women need to be a woman? If you’re making something about an alien, you don’t need to be an alien to do it.

But then:

But the people who are making [current Nickelodeon show *Sanjay and Craig*] are not [Indian]. …I just don’t understand why they feel that they need to do that. Why not have it be Indian creators doing it, and have it more about the Indian culture and Indian-American culture?

Same interview, just two questions later, completely opposite position.

Earlier in the interview comes another contradiction, this time on how a character’s race should be determined:

…[Adventures of Pete & Pete] happens to take place in the suburbs of New Jersey, you know, it’s a whitewashed area!

I can understand the argument that Pete & Pete does not have a very diverse cast because of where it’s set and (though Klickstein neglects to say it) that the setting is an important part of the show. And while this doesn’t come up in the interview, I get that it can be tough when somebody is criticizing a show you like for any reason. Sometimes you feel like you have to defend not just the show, but yourself for still liking the show.

But then, in the same answer:

I think it’s worse when they shove [diversity] in there. Sanjay and Craig is a really good example, which funnily enough is written in part by Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi from Pete & Pete. That show is awkward because there’s actually no reason for that character to be Indian — except for the fact that [Nickelodeon President] Cyma Zarghami and the women who run Nickelodeon now are very obsessed with diversity.

If Sanjay shouldn’t be Indian because there’s “no reason” for him to be, what race does Klickstein think he should be? I’m betting you can guess.

So that argument about how Pete & Pete is low on non-white characters because of where it’s set and the importance of that setting to the show? Completely pointless. Because even if that show had a completely different setting, the cast would look exactly the same under Klickstein’s formula.

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2. He’s not articulate about the shows he likes

Klickstein obviously likes Pete & Pete, as well he should. It’s a really great show and I would say that even if I didn’t fear that Smalerie would disown me if I said otherwise. I like the show. Smalerie loves it. She’s also great at explaining why the show is good. She’ll cite specific episodes and discuss the feelings and time of a kid’s life that the show captures so well. Hearing people talk about things they’re passionate about is one of my favorite ways to spend time. I feel like I gain a whole new understanding of and appreciation for that thing they love.

What does Klickstein have to say about his favorite show?

The reason Pete & Pete does so well is it’s the best show from that era. It’s the best show from that network! Hands down: the way it looked, the music, the fact that they got all these really interesting cameos…

None of this gives me a better understanding of why Pete & Pete is a good show. Klickstein lists some elements of the show, but there’s no detail on any of them or how they contribute to making it good television.

It’s even worse when he applies it to his anti-diversity argument:

Some of these other shows — My Brother and Me, Diego, and Legend of Korra — it’s great that they’re bringing diversity into it now. Fantastic. But you know those shows are not nearly as good as Ren and Stimpy, which was made by all white people! Or Pete & Pete, which was all white people! I’m not saying white people are better at it or anything, I’m just saying that part of it doesn’t matter.

Comparing Ren and Stimpy to Legend of Korra is like comparing apples to jet engines and Klickstein makes no effort to explain why he believes the shows he likes are better. He operates from the assumption that everyone agrees with him. Being able to speak articulately about why these shows and this era were special is a crucial part of writing and promoting a book on the history of Nickelodeon. If Klickstein can’t explain what makes his favorite shows great, he might not be the best person for the job.

3. He’s wasting a great idea

I want to read a book about the history of Nickelodeon. I would love to learn about the decisions made in Nickelodeon’s formative years and hear fun behind the scenes stories from the individual shows. But now, I can’t read this book. Between his views and his inability to put together a cogent argument or analyze what makes a TV show work, I don’t feel like Klickstein is the guy to tell me the Nickelodeon story.

clarissa

4. He’s an ingrate (when it comes to women who helped him)

Klickstein has equally ugly views on women and spends parts of the interview dismissing the fan interest in Clarissa Explains It All and relating the difficulties of doing standup about how hard it is to be a white guy. Here’s what he has to say about his experiences in the publishing industry):

You might not like this or care, but it’s very hard to be a man in the publishing world. No one talks about that. My agent: woman. My editor: woman. My publicist: woman. The most successful genre is young adult novels — 85% of which are written by women.

Klickstein’s agent, editor, and publicist aren’t making it hard for him to succeed in publishing as a white man. They’re the people who helped him get this book out. They’re also the people who will now have to do damage control and explain to their bosses why all the press for the book they’ve published is now going to be focused on the author’s racism and misogyny.

5. He’s making it harder to have a smart conversation about these topics

Race and gender in media are sensitive subjects. It’s not easy to have conversations about them, particularly if you’re not one of the people directly affected by these media portrayals. But they’re conversations worth having. I want to talk about whether the diversity of a show should be reflected in the writing staff or – in the case of animation – the voice actors. I want to have a discussion about characters whose race or gender is central to their stories versus characters who happen to be of a particular race or gender. I want to have these conversations not because I have the answers to these questions, but because I don’t and talking abut it can help me get closer to those answers.

Good, if difficult, conversations can come out of the Klickstein interview. But Klickstein’s views themselves don’t lead to good conversation. When you lead with ideas like “it’s really hard being a white man” or “TV characters should be white by default,” it just ends in a shouting match. There’s not much to say beyond “That’s horribly racist.” A sane and serious talk about these issues requires a fresh start.

DC vs. Marvel In the Kitchen: Main Dish Main Event

Hey there food fight fans!  Hopefully you caught last week’s post where we put side dishes from the DC Super Heroes Super Healthy Cookbook (DSHSHC) and the The Mighty Marvel Superheroes Cookbook (MMSC) head to head in a culinary cage match to see which was the most edible.  This week, the battle continues!  I, Tiny Doom, will be cooking for Marvel, while my culinary compatriot The Red Menace will be repping for DC.  The Goog continues his role as “The Watcher”, eater of horrible foods, and general good sport.

Ground rules remain the same.  No improvising or improving the recipe.  Ingredients should be in the spirit of the times, ie. no using fancy rosemary ham in place of standard cold cut ham, no matter how much one likes the rosemary ham and usually refuses to eat other cold cut ham varieties…but I digress.

On to the main event of main dishes!

Round 2: Main Dishes

MMSC entry:  Spidey’s Parmigiani

MMSC_spidey

Slings a web…any cheese?

I’m going to admit I picked this recipe due to the total disconnectedness of it, and the picture of Spider-Man with cheese webbing.  It’s called Parmigiani but there is no parmesan, nor is it Parmigiana in the traditional sense.  There are barely any Italian influences, except mozzarella.  It’s a Monte Cristo!  That said, I know what the Red Menace is making, and this recipe does have more of a potential of being edible (read: no cans were involved).

Keeping with the spirit of the recipes, I bought all supermarket ingredients, white bread, regular cold-cut ham, and pre-packaged mozzarella (or as we called in growing up “rubberdella”-yes, I am of Italian decent).

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Sandwich prep-so much mayo!

The sandwich prep is pretty straight forward.  Though it called for a lot of the mayo-mustard mix to spread on the bread.  I don’t love mayo and don’t use it very much. Apparently this sentient condiment sensed this and the first scoop I removed from the jar slid off the spoon to splat soundly on my exposed foot.  I don’t have photographic evidence of this because I was too busy cry-voming, but trust me, it was awful.

Frying cheese filled, egg soaked sandwiches in butter. See what we mean about this not being the healthy cookbook?

Once the sandwiches are made you dip them in the egg mixture, like making French toast.  Then you cook them on a griddle or frying pan.

These at least look edible

Like The Thing’s omelet, the concept here is not bad.  In fact, with the right bread and sandwich fixings, I think you could make a pretty good (while not very good for you) sandwich.

DCSHSC Entry: Mild-Mannered Burger

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Okay, here’s the deal. I knew that this burger would probably NOT be delicious. But I had two goals. One was to make a main-dish that wasn’t basically just another ham sandwich or tuna sub. The other was to continue the mad exploration of wheat germ in everything.

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Doesn’t this look like an appetizing assortment of burger ingredients?

In addition to the germ, this recipe calls for breadcrumbs as filler. While I’m not sure that panko would have been in the average American kitchen circa 1981, we live in 2014. It was what was in my kitchen and I felt like homemade breadcrumbs, which were my other option, were even less in the spirit of the project, so there you go. Then the directions forgot to tell you to put said breadcrumbs into the bowl, but I did it anyway. I know what you want, DCSHSH cookbook, even when you don’t.

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Oh yeah, that’s the good stuff.

The other slightly weird ingredient here is tomato juice. I mean, I get what you’re trying to do here, DCSHSH, or at least I think I do. You’re trying to sneak some vitamins into this burger. You’re also, maybe, possibly, trying to amp up the umami in this beast, even though in 1981 that was barely a concept. But I’m thinking tomato paste might have accomplished both goals more handily. OH WELL. The other ingredients are soy sauce (umami again, and salt!), mustard, and a healthy dose of self-loathing. The recipe also didn’t specify how much soy sauce – it just said 1. One teaspoon? One tablespoon? One cup? I went with teaspoon because that was how much mustard was in there and it seemed likely.

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Ready for the heat.

Once you’ve made nice little patties, you have to cook them. This is not accomplished by grilling the burgers, nor by pan-frying, which is the method I typically employ indoors. Instead, you have to broil these suckers. I don’t know if this to make them “healthier” or if the makers of this cookbook thought that a 500+ degree oven was safer than a frying pan spitting grease. Frankly, both seem a little dubious to me, but I don’t make the rules, I just follow ‘em.

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Cheese-shields up!

Finally, while I did not go full-on Clark Kent with the buns (SORRY THE GOOG) I did decide to attempt the cheese-shields for the Superman portion of the burger. Go to the tasting notes to find out what happened with that, but hold this image in your mind. They look so nice here, don’t they?

 

Tasting:

Spidey’s Parmigiani


Tiny Doom- As it was, this was edible, but not overly exciting.  The ham and cheese didn’t have much of a distinctive flavor, and the mustard, while there, was not really enough to make this much beyond “fine” and “all right”.  I ate half my sandwich since I knew I had a burger to come.  I would use this method again, but with a much more compelling filling, and only on a “long run” day.

Rating: 3.5 Cheese Webs

The Red Menace - This was tasty in an incredibly one-note way. That note was salt. If you like salt, possibly in a light and fluffy sandwich, Marvel has got you covered. If, on the other hand, you are looking for a complex interplay of flavors, well, that ain’t happenin’, kid.

Rating: 3 Superman Capes

The Goog-  Gooey, cheesy.  It was a grilled cheese with ham between two slices of french toast.  Could have used more ham, maybe some salt, at tomato would have been welcome.  Mostly tasty, but not terribly healthy.

 

Mild-Mannered Burger

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Oh, dear.

 

Tiny Doom- The biggest surprise for me in this cook-off was learning how much flavor wheat germ actually has.  And…in this burger this was very much the case.  It looked like meat, but the taste was surprisingly vegetal from the wheat germ.  It also made for a different consistency, a little mushy, and not very juicy, since I am supposing the germ sucked up all the meat juice.  Since I don’t do ketchup, a helpful scoop of dill pickle relish was deployed and I will admit to eating my whole burger. (Thankfully TRM made them smallish.) 

Note: It’s possible that combining the burgers and the Parmigiani we might have actually has a balanced dish…at least balanced in terms of sodium intake.

Rating: 3 Cheese Webs

The Red Menace - As you can see, a mere minute under the broiler was not kind to my lovely cheese-shields. I also cannot free-hand a ketchup S to save my life. If these were little tiny meatloaves, instead of burgers – well, they still wouldn’t be that good, because unlike the Parmigiani, there was NO salt to be tasted in these bad boys. Apparently a mere teaspoon of soy sauce is insufficient to flavor 6 burgers. And the wheat germ was indeed incredibly…present. Both the consistency (incredibly soft) and the taste (slightly wheaty?) were affected by its inclusion. All of that said, they’d be just dandy with a lot more of all of the flavoring and a lot less of the fillers.

PS: Mr. Menace stopped by and we made him eat one of these. He did it, but his face was not terribly happy. We also sent one to our pal Gary, who actively enjoyed it for some reason.

Rating: 3 Superman Capes

The Goog-  I didn’t hate this, but it was oddly vegetal, as TD said, but not entirely unpleasant.  It certainly tasted healthier than the Parmigiani.  I wouldn’t kick it off of my grill, but I’d eat the slightly burnt regular burger first.

ROUND 2 DECISION-  Frankly, I’m calling this one a tie.  While the main dishes were more edible, neither was super exciting, or a recipe that either of us will add to our permanent repertoire.  It should be noted that we sent a DC based burger to DC super-fan and notoriously picky eater, Gary S…and he claims to have enjoyed it.

BONUS ROUND: DESSERT

Except, okay, it’s not a round because we only had one dessert. I just happened to have all of the ingredients (yes, even the powdered milk) for these:

GreenLanternvsPBfiend

NOT THE PEANUT BUTTER FIEND.

And after all, what’s a dinner party without dessert, right? RIGHT?

You can see the directions pretty clearly so I won’t re-hash them. This is actually a pretty good recipe for kids – there’s no actual cooking involved, just mixing a bunch of sticky ingredients together and rolling them into balls. It’s like Play-Doh that you can eat. (And yes, I know you CAN eat actual Play-Doh. That doesn’t mean you SHOULD.)

I rolled mine in peanuts, because that is what I had available.

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Mmmm…brown.

These weren’t too bad, all things considered. My honey was a bit crystallized, which may have contributed to the slightly gritty texture. They were also overwhelmingly sweet. Overall they made me think of some of the diets I see going around right now, like “here’s a sweet treat that’s packed with protein!” But all things being equal, I think I’ll stick to chocolate chip cookies.

Do you want to see more recipe battles from these catalogs of culinary creations?  Let us know in the comments.  Our cooking abilities and stomachs are yours to command!

DC vs. Marvel In the Kitchen: Side-Dish Showdown

Early in the days of this blog, I wrote a post about the DC Super Heroes Super Healthy Cookbook (DSHSHC), a slightly strange 1981 off-shoot of the DC marketing juggernaut. The post, about Batman’s dubious attempt at french toast, was popular enough that I wanted to do a sequel, but there needed to be a twist, something to draw you all back in. See, Marvel also has a cookbook, one that slightly predates the DC one, in fact – Stan Lee Presents: The Mighty Marvel Superheroes Cookbook (MMSC).  This book doesn’t have a spin on health, like the DCE one.  Instead it seems more geared toward recipes kids would make with parental supervision.  This means easy recipes with a lot of pre-prepared ingredients (read: canned stuff).  I thought it would be fun to put these recipes head to head. Tiny Doom graciously offered to represent Marvel in this contest – we couldn’t afford a copy of the book, (which goes for an average of $100!) but the good folks at ScansDaily provided us with enough material to make it work.

So join us, won’t you, for a two-part battle royale to determine whether DC or Marvel reigns supreme – in the kitchen.

The ground rules were that we had to follow the directions exactly – no “improving” the recipes with better techniques or ingredients. That said, as you’ll see, there were times I had to interpret instructions, mostly due to missing steps or clarity errors.

Tiny Doom’s husband The Goog joined us as “The Watcher” in order to break any ties, and because if we were going to suffer, so was he. Mr. Menace had other plans, but we still managed to force him to consume some of this nonsense, as you’ll hear about in Round 2.

Round 1: The sides!

DSHSHC Entry: Commissioner Gordon’s Undercover Vegetables

Veggies and cookbook

It doesn’t seem so bad yet, does it?

I picked this recipe for a couple of reasons. One, I was totally enchanted with the ludicrous accompanying illustration, in which Jim Gordon is giving a bunch of veggies their marching orders – an undercover op to trick veggie-haters into consuming them. I’m not sure why the vegetables are down with this. I guess they exist to be eaten? The whole thing gets mega-creepy pretty quickly if you think about it for too long.  The second reason I selected this was that in my previous post, I mentioned an obsession with wheat germ runs through this book. This recipe is a good showcase for that obsession.

 

 Jim Gordon talks to vegetables

What…IS that in the bottom right of Commissioner Gordon’s slide?

Cooking notes:

 Ingredient list

In order to get in all of the vegetables listed, you’d have about 1 piece of each.

1. Hmm, it tells me to cut up the veggies, but not how. Should they be in big chunks? Julienned? I decided to make fairly small cauliflower florets, carrot coins, and to leave the mushrooms as they came, pre-sliced.

2. A thing you might not realize is that three cups of mixed veggies is not a lot of any one vegetable. I think I only used about a quarter of the cauliflower. This was probably for the best.

 Bag o'veggies

Mmmm…germy.

3. There’s an instruction to add the salt and wheat germ, but no instruction to shake the bag after you do so. Since this is a cookbook for kids, that kind of makes me crazy, but I assumed it needed to be done and did it.

4. Hmm. 350°F for 20-25 minutes seems like an insufficient time to get these vegetables cooked, even with this foil tent that I’m supposed to put over them. Said tent raises its own concerns – when I first saw this recipe I figured it was a sort of baked tempura – veggies with a crispy coating. But how can the coating get crispy under this foil blanket? Oh well, I guess we’ll find out together.

 Vegetables and wheatgerm

Here goes nothing.

 

MMSC Entry-The Thing’s Clobbered Omelet (Submitted by Tiny Doom)

MMSC_thing

It is indeed, Clobbering Time.

 If you want to get technical this is more of a frittata than a traditional folded omelet.  I have no idea why it looks like it exploded in the above picture.  I think maybe it’s also supposed to mirror a quiche (if the mirror was shattered on the sidewalk into a thousand pieces).  The recipe is low on seasoning and high on canned ingredients, which do supply plenty of salt and “can” flavor.  Admitted, that’s part of what made me want to try it, it was just so 70’s.  The prep isn’t overly complicated.  Melt butter, cook onion (I did not add pepper due to allergies), add canned veg.

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Well at least the carrots are colorful

Then…the step that really made me shudder, combining canned cream of mushroom soup with the eggs.  Not sure what the point of this is, can’t we just add real mushrooms and some cream?  Please!?  Nope!  Apparently this is how they roll on Yancy Street.

image

I straight up do not like the look of this.

The directions say to cook over low heat, gently lifting eggs now and then…and I did this, but I felt like the egg still wasn’t setting to a point where I felt comfortable feeding it to people I like. (Why am I feeding this to people I like at all???) So I finished it in a 350 degree oven for about 10 min.

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It looks like an omelet made with canned veg. Success?

I am guessing this looks like it’s supposed to?  I used a pretty large pan here, there were 8 eggs after all, and the directions say to cut this into 4 pieces.  I am opting for 8 pieces instead, we have a lot of tasting ahead of us tonight and I’m not sure anyone should be choking down a full quarter of this in one sitting.

The Tasting:

Under Cover Vegetables:

undercover vegetables

Might make good garden mulch?

 The Red Menace: As predicted, the vegetables were completely undercooked, with the possible exception of the mushrooms. And guess what – when you steam wheat germ, it apparently puffs up, turning into a bizarre soft, pillowy coating that expands in your mouth, until all you can taste is wheat germ and despair. These vegetables aren’t fooling anyone, and if you gave them to a veggie-hater he or she would probably punch you right in the nose. 

Rating: Half a Batarang

Tiny Doom- I think the recipe is the culprit for making this so tough.  There is no way the vegetables would have cooked though at the time and temp in the recipe, no matter what vegetable you used.  Plus, covering them keeps the wheat germ from toasting. Instead, it steams into a wet germy covering.  So if you like raw veggies and soggy wheat germ, this is the dish for you!  Part of keeping it healthy might be that there is only a tiny bit of salt in this recipe…but it’s not doing it any favors (or flavors *rimshot).  Sriracha got used here too.

Rating: 1 Thing Clobbering Fist

Goog on the Veggies:  The veggies were under cooked, practically raw, and the germ was soft.  Overall it was fairly unpleasant, but not beyond saving.  Had the book called for the veggies to be roasted to completion and the wheat germ maybe crisped up, they could have been pretty good, depending on your opinions on wheat germ.

The Thing’s Clobbered Omelet

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 Tiny Doom- I think it’s safe to say right off the bat that this is something I would not make again.   I was not into the texture.  The canned vegetables hold a lot of water, so the texture is a bit wet and spongy.  And, how can something be so salty and so so bland at the same time?  There is zero nuance of flavor, unless salty wet sponge is an approved flavor?  After a few bites I had to cheat and add some Sriracha to finish my piece. (I hate wasting food, so yes I finished it.)  It should be noted that The Goog was a brave soldier and ate this for lunch the next day so it didn’t go waste.
Rating: 2 Thing Clobbering Fists

TRM – When I first saw this, I felt fear. Fear that I would try to put it in my mouth and my body would just straight up reject it, which would be a dinner-party faux pas. Luckily, it wasn’t quite as horrible as I thought it would be. However, it wasn’t what I’d call “good.” As TD notes, it was incredibly salty and yet bland – the only other flavor I could identify was a faint tang of can from the vegetables, a weird metallic note. Also, I am pretty sure there were some kind of beans in the vegetable melange, which is just wrong in an omelet. 

Rating: I’ll give it one whole batarang, for being less awful than I thought it would be. Still, nothing edible should ever be that color.

The Goog on the Omelet- I certainly didn’t hate this, but it did have a weird consistency.  It would have benefited from more cooking time and less squishy ingredients, maybe just mushrooms, and no “cream of.”

ROUND 1 DECISION GOES TO MARVEL! But barely. And really, the vegetables were less unappealing, but could not win a cooking contest since they were still mostly raw.

STAY TUNED FOR NEXT WEEK’S BATTLE FEATURING MAIN DISHES!

3 Things: To Do in the Fall

I will admit that coming up with a post idea for my turn this month was tough.  There is a lot going on.  We are a couple episodes into a new season of Doctor Who with a shiny new Doctor, I’ve finally started the month-long preparations for my Halloween costume for the Comicazi Halloweeniversary Party, and the famous Comicazi Cookie Clash is on the horizon.

Then the Red Menace shared this…and it almost killed me.  It also got me thinking.  I love Fall.  It’s the best!  It’s like Mother Nature has announced Last Call and it’s time to get drunk on cider donuts before she closes shop for the next four months.

So here are a few ways I choose to celebrate the season:

Interesting...

Now this is what I’m talking about!

1) Life’s a Beach, finally!  Now is the time that I like to go and enjoy all those things that other people ruined for me over the summer by crowding the beaches and forcing me to wait hours in line for my fried clams.  While a lot of “summer places” close after Labor Day, you might be surprised by how many places stick it out and even stay open long after all the vacationers are gone.  The best part is that not only does it give you a better experience in terms of crowds, but those quiet times give you a chance to talk to and get to know people.  Sure, it might not be warm enough for swimming, but there are plenty of things to still do and see when everyone else heads into the woods to do some leaf peeping.  And as an extra bonus, there are many beaches that allow dogs free reign during the off season.  Now if only Mokey the Chicken-Dog the  wasn’t afraid of seaweed…

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You get out here and enjoy this beautiful weather right now, young lady!

2) Cha cha cha changes!  When the weather turns cooler, suddenly I care again. This is the time of year I clean out my make-up, update a bunch of things, and even switch over to my fall/winter scent. Because, dammit, I want to smell like pie…right now!

There is something about knowing that your eyeliner won’t end up melting down your chin before you even get to the office that makes a girl suddenly want to learn how to give herself cat eye eyeliner flips.  And if you are interested in such a thing yourself, might I suggest you start over at The Beauty Department with their handy guide?  The skill might come in handy if you also find yourself going a little crazy over e.l.f.’s Halloween Style Books.  The Diva palette ended up being perfect for my Halloween costume, but more on that later.

3) Watch The Adventures of Pete and Pete.  Ok people.  It’s honesty time here.  Yes, the two previous items were cute and all, but now it’s time for the serious stuff and what may very well be the main point of this article – the glory that is The Adventures of Pete and Pete.  This is it people, the hill that I might die on defending my opinion that this was probably Nickelodeon’s most (and arguably only) perfect live-action show.

For those of you who might not be familiar with the show, Pete and Pete started as a series of shorts that were shown in-between other Nickelodeon shows in 1989.  Due to the popularity of these shorts and a handful of follow-up specials, Pete and Pete became a regular half hour series for three seasons from 1993-1996.  Focusing on the experiences of two brothers who are also best friends, the show is surprisingly clever and funny.

So why watch this show in the fall?

There are a few reasons.  One is that a lot of the show was filmed in the fall, creating warm backgrounds that blend into the glorious red locks of the two brothers who share both the main action of the series and their first names.  The other reason?  On a more sappy note, there is something just so comfortable about this show.  It’s both surreal and yet so very grounded in the experience of being a kid that it just makes sense to snuggle up and watch it while sipping some sort of warm drink.   If you are looking for a show that captures more of what it feels like to be a kid than the actual real life experience of being one, this is the show for you.  Games of dodge-ball become battles for honor and the ice cream man is myth.  The world and life itself just feels so big.

And really, who wouldn’t love a show that involves personal superheroes, turtle amnesia, and a squid named Edna who serves as the school mascot?

Don’t believe me?  Decide for yourself.

Just be careful, because if you are anything like me, you just might end up spending your time watching episodes on youtube rather than taking care of life-things, like cooking dinner and writing for a blog you have with your friends.  Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

What Fall activities are you most looking forward to?  Or perhaps you just want to talk about Pete and Pete?  Post your comment below and let’s give ol’ Mother Nature a run for her money.

Does Hand-Drawn Animation Need Saving?

If you know me at all, you know that the future of hand-drawn animation is a topic that is very important to me. Hand-drawn animation (more commonly referred to as 2D animation, though I prefer the more descriptive term “hand-drawn”) is an art form that I have long loved. Unfortunately, much of the conventional wisdom about hand-drawn animation over the past few decades has been forecasting its impending demise. From clueless entertainment writers who deem the medium irrelevant in the age of computer animation to more thoughtful commentators who recognize that there’s a space for different styles of animation but that the market for hand-drawn movies seems to be drying up, nearly everyone seems convinced that hand-drawn is not long for this world.

So I was pleasantly surprised, if a bit skeptical, to come across a blog post entitled
“It’s Time To Admit That 2-D Animation Does Not Need ‘Saving'”
, penned by my animation blogger colleague Charles Kenny. After so many years of gloom and doom predictions for the medium I love, a bit of positivity was a welcome change. But is there truly good news for hand-drawn animation and its fans or merely wishful thinking?

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Five Movies I’ll Always Watch

In a world where fewer and fewer people have cable (or even broadcast) TV, that old rainy day tradition of flipping through the channels to find something, ANYTHING, to watch may be falling to the wayside. Sure you could get up and pop in a DVD or Blu-ray, but that’s not the point.  The point is to lie on the couch and do nothing, including not thinking too hard, so your entertainment should just come to you. Thankfully, The Goog and I still have basic cable, and when I want to veg out I find myself searching the guide for the movie equivalent of comfort food. Yes, I own all of these movies, and could just pop them into the machine…but somehow finding them out there in the ether makes it feel a little more meant to be. Here are five movies that I will always watch.

Jurassic Park- JurassicPark Plot: Eccentric billionaire brings back dinosaurs from DNA extracted from amber encased mosquitoes.  He invites dinosaur experts and his grand-kids to check out the theme park he is building.  Life finds a way. Spoiler-It doesn’t go well.

Why I keep watching:  I know it’s shoddy science.  I don’t care.  I still get the same feeling of excitement at the first big dinosaur reveal as I did when I first saw this in the movie theater.  That John Williams score, the characters’ own astonishment – I’m a young teen at a summer blockbuster all over again.  Also, I always thought Dr. Sattler was kind of a badass and there is a young girl who’s a hacker.

Fun Fact: I recently showed this to Little J.  It still holds up.  I may have told her how jealous I was of her getting to see this for the first time.

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We Don’t Need Another Hero

tinaturner

Tina can take care of herself.

Let’s open with a question: How many of you are following us on Facebook right now? I ask because some seriously cool conversations have been happening over there lately. The page is a great place for us to share links and other passing pop cultural ephemera and hear what other people think about it. One of those links, posted by Honorary Lady The Goog, was IO9’s critique of that Milo Manara Spider-Woman cover that’s been making the rounds (no, not the creepy 3D rendering follow up.) One of the participants in the discussion asked a question that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about. Friend of Tiny Doom Geoff asked, “Have you ladies done an article not just about what you’d like to see in a female hero but also how it differs from the typical guy power fantasy?”

Well, we hadn’t, Geoff, but we’re gonna today. Or at least, I’m gonna. Geoff’s comment went on to clarify that he didn’t expect us to speak for all women, which is great, because I’m super unqualified to do that – just our personal takes on what makes a great super-powered lady and how that is or isn’t reflected in mainstream comics. So here are the five major traits, in order from most to least important to me, I’d like to see in my ideal comic-book heroine and how I think it stacks up to the typical male hero. For the purposes of this piece, the “typical” male hero is able-bodied, straight, white, and super-powered. Yes,  there are many heroes who don’t fit this bill, especially these days, but we’re talking about archetypes, here. After each one I’ll give an example of a character who I think embodies that trait.

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Cosplay Ladies of Comicon: Jenifer as Elsa

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The Costume:  Unless you’ve been spending the last year or so in the remote wilds of someplace or other, it is quite impossible not to recognize the lovely Elsa from Disney’s animated feature, Frozen.

Choosing a Character:  It’s really a special thing when you are able to find a character that is not only a lot of fun to dress as, but also resonates with you as a person.  Jenifer chose to dress as Elsa not for all the obvious reasons, but because Elsa was the first character in whom Jenifer was able to see someone who struggles with anxiety and depression but was not the villain of the film.  And for those of us who face challenges like these and more in our daily lives, Elsa is more than just a pretty lady with even more pretty/icy powers.  She is a character to whom we can relate.

Favorite Part of the Costume:  The cape, it makes her feel majestic.  And might I personally add, the loops were a great idea, functional and add a nice bit of drama!

Biggest Cosplay Challenge:  The bodice.  Choosing a multicolored bodice to represent the way ice can reflect the colors that surround it was a really visually striking idea.  Sadly, it was not an easy task.  When Jenifer’s first attempt to make the bodice changed color as a result of some fabric glue she used, she had to regroup and come up with a new plan.

Cosplay Experiences:  Jenifer has been cosplaying since February of 2013 and is happy to say that her experiences have been mostly positive with a few exceptions.  When we chatted, she took a moment to mention what a great time she was having at Boston Comicon.  Truth be told, based on how everyone (especially the younger kids) was reacting to her costume, I can’t say that I was surprised to hear it.

Thoughts on Clown Spiders: Jenifer was gracious and accepted a sticker with our would-be mascot on it, but shared that while a fan of clowns, spiders fell into the category of things she found terrifying.  Sounds like Tiny Doom can add another member to her “Spiders are Horrible” club.

Jenifer, thanks so much for taking time out during your busy day!

And for those of you who want to know more about this cosplaying lady, you can follow her Tumblr.