In which Hugh bakes some pies

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It’s the end of January!
And I realized that I haven’t just done a blog post in a really long time. I mainly fill this space with reviews, podcast reposts, publication announcements, and the odd bit of fiction, but I should probably be doing more to actually connect as a person and not a collection of projects and opinions.
So here goes:
This year, I had to extra goals beyond the usual: I wanted to bake more, and have more adventures. And while the dead of winter isn’t so great for the later, it is the perfect time for the former.
This month, I dipped my toe into making pies, and I made one that was successful, and one that was tasty, but also a disaster. Since I work at home, my baking tends to cluster around gatherings: parties, poker nights, etc. And the one with the easiest timing for me is my Monday night table-top gaming group. The only trouble is, one of the players is super lactose intolerant, so lots of things that I cold bake, he can’t eat. But I was going to make a pie, that he could eat, and it was going to be delicious, dammit!
Experiment one: Dutch apple pie


Since I knew I was dealing with a dietary requirement, and because I didn’t want to do absolutely everything, I went out and bought ready-made vegan pie crusts. They came frozen in a pack of two, and were five-ingredients, so I was pretty sure I picked a winner. I also picked up apples and spices. The recipe I picked called for your typical pie apples, but Wegmans was out, so I ended up going with Ginger Gold apples. I wasn’t sure how they would do, and I was nervous.
They turned out to be great! They were sweet and juicy, and they stayed together well. They were also really tasty as slices, because I cut way too much. The recipe I used also called for a topping, but it was a piddly thing, just spots of brown sugar over bare apples. This would not do, not a bit. So I looked up a crumb topping recipe, made a few adjustments, and got it to come together! The pie turned out beautifully, but the weather turned against us, and my husband and I were forced to eat the pie ourselves. Tragic.
Experiment two: Blueberry pie


But I was left with a second pie shell. Later in the month, we went to a brunch serving waffles, and we were encouraged to bring toppings. So, I tried my hand at blueberry compote, and tried turning the leftovers into pie.
The compote turned out well, but didn’t thicken up as much as I thought it should. This might have been because it was another vegan recipe, or it could’ve been because I went by the exact times in the recipe, and not by eye. But they were great on waffles, at least.
The next day, I baked the remaining pie shell, and added the leftover filling. Again, the filling was very wet, but I didn’t think anything of it, and put the finished pie in the fridge, wrapped in plastic.
It ended up not getting any thicker, a right soup of a pie. Worse, the bag leaked in my car. The latest arctic storm has caused me to turtle up, so I haven’t seen the damage in the light of day yet. Next time, I’ll have to make sure the pie sets properly, and take extra precautions while traveling.
So that was my adventure for the month, One good, and one bad, pie completed. Next month I’m going to be doing more shortbreads, and possibly something special for Smoky Writers at the end of the month. If you want to keep up with my baking in real time, I follow me on Instagram!

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Podcast: NP32 – Essentially Barclay

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Welcome to Nostalgia Pilots! This week, Hugh, Jurd, Spence, and Jason discuss Gundam Wing episode 32: The God of Death Meets Zero!

Click HERE to listen to the podcast!

In tonight’s episode: Duo turns in six Space Leo pelts for his Gundam Upgrade, Hilde makes a confusing delivery, and Trant has insufficient machismo
Plus, Tubarov continues to suck at everything, and the Nostalgia Pilots wish Relena could pilot.

Promo: The Melting Potcast! Are you a writer? The Melting Potcast is looking for new flash and short fiction!

Thanks for listening!

32 - i can handle a system like this no problem

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Hugh Likes Comics: Naomi

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Naomi #1
Written by Brian Michael Bendis and David F. Walker
Art by Jamal Campbell
Lettered by Josh Reed
Published by DC Comics


The Skinny: DC’s newest imprint opens with a surprisingly quiet, but beautiful, introduction

What is it like to live as an adopted teenager in a world where someone like Superman exists? When a fight with a super-villain sends him hurtling through the small town of Port Oswego, Naomi is left grappling with how she feels, and the nagging doubt that something about her suburban, middle-class life is off. And after the fight, and even the cleanup is over, she’s left wondering, what other extraordinary events is the town hiding, and why won’t anyone talk with her about the day she was adopted?
Bendis and Walker do a great job of approaching a stock comics trope from a new angle. The lens of this issue is focus squarely on Naomi, instead of the marketable superhero. There isn’t a lot of tension for a first issue, giving us a real taste of what Naomi’s normal life is like. This is likely to change, but for a first issue to let us simply meet this new character is both unexpected and refreshing.
The real standout here is Jamal Campbell’s art, though He really breathes life into what could be a staid, and honestly, boring comic. His Port Oswego is vibrant and dynamic, while still retaining its small-town atmosphere. He does a lot of great work with layouts and panels as well. We get a pair of sequences where townspeople respond to Naomi’s questions, and she sits outside the panel grid, but also underneath it. There is a lot of subtle characterization in those tight frames.
Naomi #1 is the start of something really interesting. You can buy it digitally from Comixology, or pick it up in print from Your Local Comics Shop.
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Fiction: Patrol

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A week of unexpected snowfall had paralyzed the city. The protector loaded his mobile fortress for the long night ahead of him and checked his supplies one more time: shovels, flares, thermoses of cocoa, coffee, and soup. He had plenty of blankets, hats, gloves, and coats to distribute. He had everything he needed.
Nobody robbed a bank in a blizzard. Except for Weather Girl, of course. But this was the time of year he felt the most useful. Stopping robberies and chasing super-villains was all status quo work. During the winter, he actually felt like he made a difference.

This story was first published as a part of Everyday Drabbles on Wattpad. Visit the link for a new free 100-word short story every day!

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Podcast: CCRC48 – Castlevania S1E1

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Tonight your hosts, Hugh of HughJODonnell.com, Rich the Time Traveler, Jurd, and Opop, encounter Warren Ellis’ Dracula.

Click HERE to listen to the commentary track!

Castlevania is currently streaming on Netflix!

nonaut Cinema Reviews is presented by http://skinner.fm and http://hughjodonnell.com, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

This podcast was originally posted at Skinner.FM on Thursday, January 24, 2019.

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Hugh Likes Comics: Invaders

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Invaders #1
Written by Chip Zdarski
Drawn by Carlos Magno with Butch Guice
Colored by Alex Guimarães
Published by Marvel Comics

The Skinny: A new story of Marvel’s Golden Age heroes rooted in the trauma of war.

Invaders #1 is a comic out of time. The retconned compilation of Golden Age Marvel, then Timely Comics, The Invaders were a team of patriotic superheroes fighting for the Allies in World War II. This included Captain America, but also Timely’s two biggest heroes of the period: The original Human Torch, Jim Hammond, and Namor, the Sub-Mariner. This story of the team is split between the war and the present, as Hammond interviewing Cap and his fellow soldiers for a book he’s writing, and Namor, as king of Atlantis, is preparing to start another war.
This book walks a perilously thin line, but I think it manages it beautifully. This isn’t just a superhero soap opera, but an earnest look at the trauma of war. This kind of subject hasn’t always been handled well by comics as a medium, but Zdarski, better known for his humor writing, is evocative and realistic, balancing genuine pathos with the more fantastic melodrama. In one scene Captain America is talking with Hammond about his own complex feelings about reliving the war over speaker phone, while battling a Tony Stark-designed arming of training robots. It should come off as goofy, but Zdarski’s writing, and the art, sells it.
The art is stand-out here. Using two art styles, and in this case two artists to denote different time periods isn’t a new innovation, but Magno and Guice are both distinctive, and each style is well suited to its respective period. Giuimarães’s colors are also a sharp division, with muted browns and yellows for the war contrasting with more vivid colors for Steve’s training session and Atlantis.
Invaders #1 is the start of a story that is so far doing an excellent job of balancing two different storytelling extremes. I’m very much interested in seeing how it plays out. You can find it digitally from Comixology, or pick up a physical copy from your Local Comics Shop.

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Fiction: Fire Arrow

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The Elemental Creators all stared in horror as the Fire God’s javelin slammed into the Sea Goddess’s chest in a pillar of flame. Silence rang throughout the slowly forming plane. She slowly pulled the projectile out and examined it dispassionately as the flame guttered.
The other gods all looked on, ready to intervene if he attacked her again.
“Can we all get back to work, please?” The goddess asked in a voice like the tides.
Once they all resumed their work creating the fledgling world, the formless Wind Deity whispered in her ear. “Aren’t you mad though?”
“Steaming,” She replied.

This story was first published on Wattpad as a part of Everyday Drabbles, a daily hundred-word writing project. Click the link for more free flash fiction!

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