Michael May from Michael May's Adventure Blog joins us for a discussion of non-Super Hero Comic Books.  We talk about some of our favorites, why they are our favorites, what ones we read and what ones we think suck.  Nerd to Dos involve two separate Star Trek TV shows, Pirates of the Caribbean, James Bond and The Bionic Woman.

The Vesha Valentine Story and The Trouble with Katie Rogers 

It's a very special episode on this week's Nerd Lunch Podcast. While Pax and Jeeg both are off fighting bears and building robots respectively, CT is joined by Jay from The Sexy Armpit and together they host a chat with UK comic book artist Des Taylor. Des, known for his simplistic and retro-style of illustration, is the creator behind self-published titles The Vesha Valentine Story and The Trouble with Katie Rogers. He has also had several pieces of his super hero art go viral on sites like GeekTyrant.com, io9.com, BleedingCool.com and our friends at The Retroist. In the show, Des talks about his history, upcoming projects, his thoughts on the New 52 and who he'd want to force choke.

It was a great honor to get the chance to talk to Des and I wish him much success as he continues to tackle all these amazing projects on his plate. I was a fan before, but getting a chance to speak to him has solidified that fandom.

Show Links:
Des Taylor's Facebook Page

As an extra bonus, here's a cool little video about Des:

cheerwine1Cheerwine is one of those southern delicacies, like Chick-fil-A and Waffle House, that I had long heard about on the Internet but never had the chance to try. However, back in the fall I paid a visit to the old Nerd Lunch stomping grounds of Central Illinois and found that a longtime favorite store, Friar Tuck, now carries specialty sodas like Red Rock Cola and Cheerwine. I took advantage of the situation and loaded up my trunk with a selection of beverages, including my first ever bottle of Cheerwine.


Cheerwine falls into the dark/caramel soda class with colas and Dr. Pepper-like drinks. Flavor-wise I think it most closely resembles a muted Dr. Pepper with a stronger cherry flavor. Oh, like Dr. Pepper Cherry or the homemade version of cherry DP my family has made using grenadine. The flavor balance of Cheerwine is quite nice though not as unique as I was expecting. It’s definitely tasty, but not as transcendent or as difficult to replicate as Red Rock. Luckily Cheerwine appears to be available at many Cracker Barrel location so those of you in the chain restaurant belt of America shouldn’t have to go far to give it a try.

For the second week in a row, the Nerd Lunch Podcast is joined by a member of the Schlock Treatment Podcast. This time, Kirk Howle stops in. Filling in for an absent Jeeg is Shawn from Branded in the 80s and Cult Film Club. The Nerds launch into a discussion about failed movie toy lines and even pitch their own ideas for movies that should have a failed toy line. This week's Nerd To Dos include doing some animation, hunting down classic toys and a quest for Jumpin' Jack Doritos.

Additional Kirk Howle projects mentioned on the show:

As mentioned in a recent post, I've had an unexpected stretch of vacation time since breaking my ankle and leg, and I've spent a fair amount of that time hitting the Trek.  My personal sweet spot is DS9 in its entirety (although I've been skipping the Lwaxana Troi episodes); TNG Seasons 4-7; and movies II-III plus "First Contact."  I think part of my preference from DS9 stems from a greater attention to How Things Work.  I like the sense that heading to Ops is just another day at the office, where you get a cup of raktajino and push paper.  I like the sense that they really are overworked and understaffed and sometimes have conflicting agendas.  

During my recent rewatch, I've been particularly impressed with Nog's transition from troubled youth to Starfleet officer, and I've been thinking about how this contrasts with the mishandling of Wesley Crusher.  Part of Wesley's trouble was just good old-fashioned Early Installment Weirdness.  Taking the Chief Medical Officer's son, dubbing him Acting Ensign, and putting him on the bridge in his comfy rainbow sweater does not really sync up with how Starfleet (or Picard) seems to work in later seasons.  Having a mystical alien struggle to communicate in terms we can understand just how extraordinary Wes really is does not make things better.  

I liked what the did with Wes in later guest appearances --- making him promising yet fallible, ultimately leaving Starfleet for a life more suitable to Space Mozart.  Still, it's jarring to see him in this deleted scene from Nemesis --- he made LT and he's junior engineer on Riker's new ship and he likes girls and he's about thirty years old and not as good looking at that age as Q led us to believe.  They could've at least made him Riker's First Officer, and had him act like a grown-ass man.  Wes could've done this scene in Season 1.

Too late now, but I've gotten some inspiration from reading Patrick O'Brian's wonderful Aubrey/Maturin series, about the British Navy of the Napoleonic Era.  Back in the day, a prospective naval officer went to sea at age 12 or so, rated as a midshipman.  They were apprentice officers, given considerable responsibility over the crew (oftentimes veteran sailors 2 or 3 times their age) while learning their math and navigation and Latin.  Once they had their time in, they were tested before the promotion board.  If successful, they would be promoted to Lieutenant.  If not . . . well, some of the most pitied creatures in the fleet were midshipmen  thirty or forty years old, with no chance of promotion and nowhere else to go.

Maybe the distinction between "Acting Ensign Crusher" and "Midshipman Crusher" is a slight one, but I think it would have been much more palatable to establish that Starfleet has several routes to becoming an officer besides four years at the Academy, one being the Midshipman Program.  As a midshipman, you can stand a watch or man a duty station like any other officer, but you also spend a lot of time in the holodeck classroom and gaining hands-on supervised experience doing every job on the ship.  I grant you, they did some of this on TNG with Wesley, but just making this a regular program instead of something we are doing special for Cosmic Messiah Wesley sits a lot better, doesn't it?  And there could've been a whole "Lower Decks" type set of recurring characters --- in keeping with naval tradition, there's a "midshipman's berth" where all the mids bunk together.  Teenagers in space.  It writes itself.            
Outlook Not So Good

We kick off the new year by peering into the future with fourth chair Doug Frye from the Schlock Treatment podcast. Using all the tools at our disposal from tarot cards to the Magic 8 Ball, we each make predictions for 2013 in the realms of TV, movies, and fast food. We also start up the Nerd Lunch Dead Pool and predict which celebrities will kick the bucket this year. Our Nerd To-Dos feature Star Wars Angry Birds, Battlestar Galactica, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Jack in the Box.

Nursing a broken leg this past week, and I've used the time (and medication) to immerse myself in the deep and swampy waters of Star Trek lore.  I found out that the drugs I'm currently taking are not strong enough to make me enjoy "Enterprise" all that much.  

I ran across a non-canon but entirely plausible full crew manifest for the original Enterprise, providing job titles for all 72 officers and 428 enlisted crew.  Most disturbingly, this manifest posits the existence of a heretofore unacknowledged senior officer:  the Chief Services Officer.  

Overseeing six junior officers, seven petty officers, and 47 crewmen, the CSO is in charge of the supply/quartermaster, commissary, and sanitation operations.  You know, I never thought about it, but someone has to do it, right?  

So remember all the ridiculous bullcrap Wesley Crusher had to go through to get into the Academy?  Face your greatest fear, respond to weird alien trivia, be the son of a slain officer and the former chief of Starfleet Medical, get a recommendation from the Captain of the flagship of the entire fleet, and actually pilot the damn thing for several years instead of going to high school?  Some guy did all that, and when he graduated four years later, Ensign Rusty became the Junior Janitorial Operations Officer on the Enterprise's five-year mission.   

He paid his dues, dammit.  He climbed the ranks from LTJG (Senior Janitorial Operation Officer) to LT (Commissary Officer, Alpha Shift) and finally LTCOM (Chief Services Officer).  He stayed with the Enterprise during its time as a Starfleet Academy training vessel, imparting wisdom to a new generation of Starfleet sanitation officers.  His office was in the 23rd century equivalent of the boiler room.  After Spock died, he came by with a spray bottle and got those fingerprints off the radiation chamber.  He traveled back to the 80s and stayed on the ship, and eventually used an enormous net to clean up the whale tanks.

We, the viewers, must assume that all of this took place just slightly off-screen.  He was at those senior staff meetings, if the camera had just moved a little to the left.  During the commercial breaks, he would use some sort of futuristic space-mop.  He and his team beamed down to new worlds and mopped up the Gorn blood or whatever leaks out of a Vorta or whatever leaks out of Scotty. 

Ever since I realized that Lieutenant Commander Rusty is an implied part of the Star Trek universe --- and indeed must have a counterpart on every ship plus Deep Space Nine --- he has haunted me.  Should we assume that in the divergent timeline created in the most recent movie, Fate has still found away to put Ensign Rusty back on the ship, so that the whole cycle can play out again?  I think so.  If the cosmos conspires to give us the heroes we need, then it must also make room for those the anonymous men and women who do their jobs without complaint or attention or glory.