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I tend not to be conflicted about comic book movies. Either I like them or I don't, and that's pretty much it. I like comic book movies when they show some degree of originality and ambition, but I also can like them where they're just plain fun.

For some reason, I'm not quite so black-and-white about Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, the sequel to the enormously entertaining Marvel movie that was a huge and largely unexpected hit back in 2014. I think part of the problem is that I enjoyed the first one so much that there was almost no way the second one could live up to expectations and be as original. One reviewer I read suggested that the new one has to work twice as hard to generate as much pleasure, and that seems about right. It is still fun, but...

That said, the new Guardians is a feast for the eyes as written and directed by James Gunn, who clearly has affection for his band of mismatched and vagabond mercenaries. The cast is terrific - Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Michael Rooker, Kurt Russell, and the voice work done by Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel.

Despite my misgivings about the new Guardians, I must admit that I found one review of the film to be thought provoking - that it is emblematic of most Marvel films because romance takes a back seat to the higher priority of family. That's an interesting notion and, I think, an accurate one. And if Marvel can talk about the importance of family as being a touchstone for its approach to moviemaking, that's not the worst thing in the world.

When I was in the Pacific Northwest last week, I made my usual trek to Etta's, on the edge of Pike Place Market, where I hung out with Morgan, often celebrated here and in both my books as one of the world's great bartenders.

Also as usual, I didn't order anything. Morgan just opened a bottle of red wine and poured me a glass; he knows my taste and I trust his. In this case, it was the 2013 Baer Star Red ... which is a wonderful blend of merlot and cabernet franc that is silky and smooth and delicious ... and, as it happens, perfect with the amazing Dungeness Crab Sandwich that I ate.

Yup. Perfect.

I'm also happy to heartily recommend the Peeper Ale, from the Maine Brewing Co., which I enjoyed this week while traveling in New England. It is hoppy, but not too much so ... and went down smoothly.

Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.

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