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Longtime (and maybe even newer) MNB readers know that we're big Star Trek fans here at MNB, and I'm happy to report that "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds," in its second season on Paramount+, continues to delight as the best of the new Trek series that have come out over the past few years.

Part of the series' charm is its willingness to take big swings in terms of plot, character and tone.  This year alone, the series has featured an outright comedy (which also happened to be a crossover episode with the animated series, "Star Trek: Lower Decks," that somehow totally worked), a musical episode that managed to take flight and be utterly charming, and several dramas that, as Trek often does, were more about humanity and ethics than warp drives and dilithium crystals.  

And while taking big chances with its narratives and styles, "Strange New Worlds" also has managed to do a far better job than many of its predecessors in allowing supporting characters to shine, providing sometimes unexpected depth and context.  To my mind, Anson Mount, as Captain Christopher Pike (the series takes place on the USS Enterprise, but about a decade before James T. Kirk became its captain), certainly is one of the best captains in the franchise, and Ethan Peck as a younger Mr. Spock has proven to be worthy of the role made iconic by Leonard Nimoy.

"Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" is terrific television;  to be fair, it benefits from the idea that each season is just 10 episodes long, as opposed to the 22+ that the original series, "Star Trek: The Next Generation," "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," Star Trek: Voyager," and "Star Trek: Enterprise" had to produce.  If you like first class science fiction with a humanist edge - Star Trek always has been about tolerance, acceptance, and humanity living up to its best potential - "Strange New Worlds" is for you.

(Plus, Pike's go-to method of connecting with his crew is to invite them to his quarters for a home-cooked meal, with jambalaya and ribs among his specialties.  It speaks to the power of food to bring people together.)

I can't really write about them yet because they still are in the middle of their current seasons, but I'm really liking "Justified: City Primeval," season two of "The Lincoln Lawyer" and season three of "Only Murders in the Building."  They're totally different in tone, but are lots of fun with terrific performances at their core.  I'll have more on these as time goes on.

I always say that I came to drinking hard liquor relatively late in life - until about a decade ago, I was strictly a wine and beer drinker.  But one of the things about having adult children is that sometimes they can open your eyes to stuff you didn't know, which has been the case in my household.

I've learned the pleasures of a wonderful old fashioned and a vodka martini, and of course there is what has sort of become our national adult beverage - Tito's and soda with lime.

Lately I've been trying different kinds of rum.  I have a couple of rules.  First, I only drink rum on nights when I don't have to write MNB the next morning.  (Just seems prudent.)  I also pretty much limit myself to two fingers of rum with a large ice cube.

My go-to has been Blackwell's rum from Jamaica, but over the weekend I had a chance to try two brands that I really, really, really liked.

First up was Papa's Pilar, a dark rum distilled in Key West and marketed with lots of Ernest Hemingway references.  And then there was Key West Bad Bitch rum, from Key West First Legal Rum Distillery.  (I was with a friend who spends a bunch of time in the Keys, hence the theme.)

My palate isn't educated enough to know what I'm drinking, but I know that I'm enjoying my continuing education.

That's it for this week.  Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.