In my previous post, I noted that Community hasn’t quite lived up to expectations, despite being a very strong show. I guess I should qualify that statement by saying that very few things with stellar reputations have truly been able to live up to expectations. The more something is built up, the more it has to do to meet expectations, which can often be an impossible task. One of the biggest “letdowns” that I have experienced is Alan Moore’s Watchmen. It is a phenomenal book, definitely worthy of all the praise it receives. But for years, I had been told it was the greatest graphic novel of all time, and when I finally got around to reading it, it just couldn’t live up to the hype. Very few things can live up to the moniker of “greatest representation of its medium.” To date, only two things dubbed best of their medium have lived up to that hype: The Wire, known to many as the greatest TV show ever made, and The Sandman, Neil Gaiman’s magnum opus, consistently listed as one of the three greatest comics ever written (along with Watchmen and Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns).
The Wire appears at first glance to be a police show about a drug enforcement task force, but that description doesn’t even scratch the surface. It’s the story of an American city (Baltimore, but it could really have taken place anywhere), examining it through various institutions, from the police to city hall to the dockworkers union to the school system. The first season focuses on the police and a drug dealing organization, but each season brings another city institution into focus and shows how it is connected to all that has been shown before. It also does a great job of making (nearly) every character a well-rounded, three-dimensional human being. Even the ones who are supposed to be complete sociopaths or obstructive bureaucrats.
While The Wire is deeply rooted in reality, The Sandman is a tale of the fantastic. It’s world is filled with gods, monsters, and the supernatural along with humanity. Myths are true and dreams have an effect upon reality. This world is overseen by seven beings, called The Endless, representing seven aspects of life, each ruling over its aspect and its opposite, with varying degrees of thought on how involved he or she must be. Our central character is seemingly Dream, also known as Morpheus, the Endless in charge of dreams and reality. However, despite being the title character, the story is more about humanity and how dreams affect our world. Dream does engage in action when he needs to, but he’s more content to sit back and let humanity play itself out. The series examines the importance of stories, all of which start out as dreams, in our life, and how if enough people believe in a dream or a story, eventually it will become reality.
Yesterday, I posted a recipe for a bourbon whipped cream. Today, I thought that I should follow up by making a whiskey recommendation. I used Buffalo Trace in the recipe yesterday, which is definitely very good, but for my first whiskey recommendation, I decided to go with Pappy Van Winkle’s,* another fantastic bourbon.
The Van Winkle brand is very well-regarded, and its line has received numerous awards and accolades. The bottle I have is the 15-year-old Family Reserve. It is very smooth, and has a sweet, caramel flavor. It is a bit expensive, but it is definitely one of the best bourbons I’ve ever had.
*Buffalo Trace and Pappy Van Winkle’s actually come from different branches of the same distillery.