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Friday, May 31, 2013

Daleks Grow Radishes

Denim: Ooh, the intense sunlight is overloading my visual sensors.
Pocket: When we complete Mistress' assignment, we can return to the house.

Denim: We've loosened the ground.  The radishes should be able to grow.
Pocket: Space the seeds farther apart, then we'll see how my new gun works.

Denim: The growth ray appears to work.
Pocket: You think the radishes are large enough.
Denim: My sensors can't penetrate the soil.  Give the plants another blast.

Denim: Freeing this radish from the soil has drained my energy reserves.
Pocket: Hey, it's not my fault the trigger got stuck.  

Pocket: You it's too big?
Denim: The Humans have a saying: "Bigger is always better."

Pocket: I hope Master enjoys his lunch.
Denim: You should try that new growth ray on his dessert.
Pocket: I wonder how it would work on ice cream.
Denim: Just make sure you use a big enough bowl.

Pocket & Denim Dalek

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Spider-Man's Twinkies

If you're like me, you can't wait for Hostess products to reappear in the supermarkets.  Advertisements like this in old issues of Marvel Comics only make the waiting worse.

Hostess' absence from the marketplace has allowed competitors to fill the shelves with their own knock-off versions.  Suddenly, everyone's got their own version of Hostess' classics like their cupcakes and twinkies.  But no one's marketed a knock-off on my personal favorite snack cakes: Zingers.  So I look forward to late July, when according to executive vice-president Michael Cramer, all the classic snack brands will start reappearing.  "Everything will be as delicious and fattening as it always was," he promises.

Thanks, Mike, I'll be holding you to your promises.  'Cause I need Zingers to fuel all my pursuits, just like Spider-Man needs his Twinkies to fight crime in New York City.    

Dragon Dave

Related Internet Links
Twinkies (the real ones) back on store shelves in July

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Captain America’s Philosophy

"If only I had Captain America's shield..."

In the Ultimate Spider-Man episode “Not A Toy,” Captain America stops by the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier to give Spider-Man and his young superhero team a few pointers in fighting and strategy.  When Agent Coulson calls Captain America away for a few minutes, the older superhero leaves his shield behind.  Spider-Man picks it up, and dreams of wielding it in battle.  Then he decides to give it a quick throw. 

The shield is more powerful than he realizes, and it breaks through a training room window and flies off the Helicarrier.  As it falls, it bangs into Iron Man (who happens to be flying by), distracts a criminal long enough for the police to capture him, and nearly knocks down Spider-Man’s Aunt May.  Then it bounces over the fence of the Latverian Embassy, where Doctor Doom retrieves it.

"You'd think Captain America would be more careful
than to let a teenager play with his shield."

Like many Marvel heroes and villains, Doctor Doom is a scientist.  Instead of returning the shield, he launches a missile at Spider-Man and heads off to his laboratory.  Spider-Man flees through the streets of New York City until Captain America arrives and knocks out the missile with Spider-Man’s Spidey-Cycle.  

Take that, Doom Missile!

Instead of balling out the young superhero, Captain America says, “I try not to live in the past.”  The two then team up to retrieve the unique shield before Doctor Doom can reverse engineer it to use in his own nefarious purposes.

It’s easy to expend negative energy on what others say or do.  Captain America’s philosophy may be harder to practice, but it seems the wiser approach.  Perhaps that’s why, like Agent Coulson, he’s my favorite superhero.

Now, if only I could get one of those Captain America shirts like Agent Coulson is wearing.

The Ultimate Spider-Man TV show is loosely based on the comic book series of the same name written by Brian Michael Bendis, who serves as a Consulting Producer for the series, and wrote the episode “Not A Toy.”  You can watch Ultimate Spider-Man on Disney XD.

Dragon Dave

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

O. J. Simpson’s Boots

I found this old advertisement in Marvel Comics’ Star Trek Vol. 1 Issue No. 3, and it struck me so powerfully that I thought I’d share it with you.

O. J. Simpson won a college scholarship, a Heisman Trophy, was a two-time All-American, and played a prominent role in what is regarded as one of the greatest games of the twentieth century.  And all that was before he went to the National Football League (NFL), where he played in six Pro Bowls, was named was 1973 Player of the Year, and became the first player to rush more than 2,000 yards in a season.  Clearly, there was a time when he seemed bigger than life, and he channeled the public’s fascination with him into a successful post-athletic career as an actor and sports commentator.  And yet, all that good was wiped away forever, and our perception of him irrevocably changed, because of what he apparently did later.

How we treat others matters.  Not just yesterday and today, but every day of our lives.

Dragon Dave

Monday, May 27, 2013

Those Nameless Star Trek Security Guards

In the original Star Trek TV series, the security guards wore red shirts.  This must have worried them, as red is such an eye-catching color.  Indeed, most of the people who died on away-missions wore red.  These security guards filled an important function, yet they were rarely recognized, and none became memorable crew-members of the U.S.S. Enterprise.

While the later movies would address this issue by making Mr. Chekov head of Security, “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” really made the security guards stand out.  Each wore armor that covered his torso, as well as a helmet secured by a thick chinstrap.  Unfortunately, the encounter with V’ger never gives them anything to do.  Even when the burst of plasma energy invades the bridge, the security guard is ordered to keep back, and not even fire his phaser, as Ilia, the beautiful Deltan navigator, is killed. 

Apparently Marv Wolfman, who adapted Harold Livingston’s script for Marvel Comics, was dissatisfied with the inability of the security guards to fulfill their proper role.  So he has the security officer on the bridge attempt to combat the V’ger’s plasma-probe, in the hopes of defending his crewmates.

Needless to say, things don’t go well for him. 

While Wolfman doesn’t name the fallen security guard, he will have Kirk list the security guard among the Enterprise personnel “Missing” following their encounter with V’ger.  And so, finally, a Star Trek security guard gets the respect he deserves.   

Images from Marvel Comics' Star Trek Vol. 1, Issue No. 2.

Dragon Dave

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Queen Elizabeth II: Mother to a Nation Part 2

In The BFG, Sophie watches as the giants run away.  The Big Friendly Giant has told her that every night, while he travels the world bringing pleasant dreams to children, the other giants venture out and eat humans.  Although the BFG feels bad about this, he doesn’t see how he can convince them to change their ways.  The only plant that grows in their land is the Snozzcumber, and it tastes so revolting that none of the other giants will eat them.

But Sophie feels she must do something.  After all, tonight the giants are heading off to her country, to eat her fellow British citizens.

So she concocts a plan.  Using the BFG’s stores of collected dreams, Sophie has him mix a nightmare about giants snatching British citizens out of their homes and eating them.  Then she asks him to take her to Buckingham Palace.  Using his trumpet-like device, he blows this nightmare into the Queen’s bedroom.  Needless to say, when the Queen awakes, and Sophie tells her that her nightmare was true, the Queen bursts into action.

Queen Elizabeth II,
captured by renowned illustrator Quentin Blake

She calls the kings and queens of other countries.  She summons the heads of the British Army and Royal Air Force.  While she awaits their arrival, she sits down for breakfast and asks Sophie and the BFG to explain the situation, and suggest how she can remedy it. 

I'm glad the BFG enjoyed his breakfast,
but oh, that poor piano.
And those grandfather clocks!
Her butler organizes the staff, and he fashions a table and chair for the BFG.  Then he watches, aghast, as the giant eats up all the food the cooks serve up, until the royal pantries are emptied (and the BFG discovers that the humans’ food tastes infinitely better than those yucky Snozzcumbers).

When the heads of her military seem incapable of coming up with a means of capturing the other giants, the Queen turns to the BFG and Sophie, who offer her a solution.  The heads of the Army and Air Force don’t like it, but they agree to go along with this strange plan concocted by a giant and an orphan girl.  After all, they can’t really refuse a royal command.

While other authors might have portrayed the situation more realistically, Dahl never mentions the important roles that the Prime Minister, the other Ministers, or the Houses of Parliament play in the everyday running of the United Kingdom.  Instead, he has Sophie take her problems directly to Queen Elizabeth II.  Far from being remote and unconcerned, the Queen is horrified at the thought of her subjects’ needless deaths.  A politician, faced with the same situation, would gauge public reaction to various proposed remedies, and ensure he had the necessary support to weather any potential backlash before he committed himself to a particular plan.  But the Queen acts like a mother whose children are threatened, she immediately takes charge of the situation, and demonstrates how relevant she is to her country by her decisions. 

You know, maybe America really does need a Queen.

Dragon Dave

Related Internet Links
Illustrator Quentin Blake, who the Queen recently awarded with a knighthood, has a wonderful website.  Check it out at

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Queen Elizabeth II: Mother to a Nation Part 1

Starting as we did, the United States never had a royal family. This has made it difficult for me to understand the role that the British royal family exerts on the average citizen in England.  Whenever the subject arises on TV news, English broadcasters and celebrities assure us that the only people who revere the royal family are foreigners.  In particular, they point the finger at Americans, claiming that because we broke away from England centuries ago, we suffer from a case of Royal Envy.

In the episode "The Course of True Love" of  the TV show “All Creatures Great and Small,” the veterinarians learn that King George VI has just died.  Siegfried Farnon looked particularly gutted, as if part of the basic framework of his life had just been ripped from beneath his feet.  But by the end of the story, Queen Elizabeth II has ascended to the throne, and the vets look forward to a glorious new Elizabethan era.  

A Coronation Day Edition
of "The Daily Mirror" newspaper
at The World of James Herriot

Of course, I know part of the role that the Queen and her family play in modern England.  They are always highly sought after by organizations and businesses, and a royal visit is always cause for celebration.  Each member of the royal family makes a hefty schedule of visits each year, and each unleashes an army of police who make sure an area is completely secure well in advance of the day of the visit. 

Each year, the Queen also bestows honors upon prominent citizens.  One year, she honored Alf Wight, who wrote his All Creatures Great and Small novels as James Herriot, with an OBE (Order of the British Empire). 

A shop window display in Thirsk
where Alf Wight, the real James Herriot,
lived and worked.

As she wears the crown, it makes sense that the Queen is the most celebrated.  Everywhere we went last year in England, we saw banners announcing the upcoming Diamond Jubilee, celebrating Queen Elizabeth’s sixty years on the throne.  Curios filled shop windows, and streamers and union jacks decorated the streets.  Handymen were kept especially busy, repainting and repairing the fronts of houses and buildings as the celebrations neared.

Toward the end of our vacation, a hotel manager assured me that those who spoke disparagingly about the royal family in the TV news programs reflected the views of the majority.  From what I could tell, he must have been right.  In the United States, our government consists of a president, along with a bunch of elected and appointed people.  Each spends a few years in office, and then fades from view.  But a royal is there to stay.  He (or she) serves the entire country, for as long as he lives.  And the Queen is most important, as she wears the crown, and represents England’s sovereignty. 

"Um, excuse me, your majesty..."

Much as I’d like to, I don’t think I’ll ever understand what the Queen represents to the common British citizen.  But I can respect the fact that she’s there, year in and year out, through good times and bad.  Regardless of economic hardships, political scandals, war, or other difficulties.  People look to her, and in her they see everything they desire their country to be.  Given the vets reaction in "All Creatures Great and Small," perhaps most British citizens even see her as the mother of their nation.  I can respect that.  I suppose, in a way, I can even envy that.

Dragon Dave 

Related Internet Links