Sunday, July 20, 2014
This week's movie was The LEGO Movie (2014). I fully expected to hate this movie. Yeah, I heard good reviews, but I have seen enough other LEGO creative endeavors that I was not really expecting much at all. In fact, I was pretty sure I would be disappointed. Not only was I not disappointed, I want to see it again to catch some more of the in-jokes that were spread around. It actually had a plot! I wasn't expecting that. And the characters were, if a little stereotyped, still "fleshed" out enough to work. The jokes were sometimes edgily hilarious and other time flat-out stupid funny. Emmett was a good protagonist and I loved seeing Green Lantern as an annoying prat bothering Superman. Pity there was no Aquaman, but maybe that was for the best.
As for the main plotline: (SPOILER ALERT!)LEGO artists do not use glue, but LEGO Master Builders hired by LEGO for permanent exhibits do. Most Adult Fans of LEGO don't want to glue because then they cannot tinker with their creations.(END SPOILER) Overall, a lot of fun.
So much fun that I went to Amazon and purchased the awful pop song almost as soon as we finished watching the movie. It's almost as good for exercising as Chicken Fat. LEGO jumping jacks!
DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
- Jun 11th
- Justice League United #2 - I'm really not sure I like this version of Rann. I mean, I've never been a big fan of Adam Strange, but this just seems like stomping all over the whole Rann legacy to me. I'm just not impressed.
- Green Lantern Corps #32 - So the Durlans are still one step ahead? What a surprise. I'm really tired of this plot.
- World's Finest #24 - This feels a bit like a final episode. Nice touch on how the employee pitches in to help. I do like the team-up of Power Girl and Huntress despite the recent annoying crossover that derailed the book almost entirely.
- Smallville Lantern #3 - There's a whole lot going on in this book that makes very little sense unless you can remember what came before, and that's just not as clear as it could be. Though, hey, Ma Hunkle. That's something.
- Astro City #13 - While it all pulled together in the end, the temporal jumps made this one a difficult read. I really want to rearrange it and read it in the actual hourly order, but I'm not tearing my book apart.
- Tales of Honor #3 - This continues to be more of an illustrated novel than a proper comic book. Yes, the source material is dense with information, but a good adaptation would find the key bits and promote them. In this, an absolutely key moment, McKean's support of Harrington against Hauptman, is kind of underplayed. I'm moderately disappointed with the adaptation, though the artwork is quite fascinating.
- Spongebob Comics #33 - Jerry Ordway art for the Mermaid Man story, and Ramona Fradon work on the back cover... I'm happy.
- Grimm Fairy Tales: Warlord of Oz #2 - If those are "practical fighting togs" then I'm the queen of England. Ug. Story is vaugely interesting, character clothing and design is a little insulting.
The Martian: A Novel by Andy Weir. Hubby-Eric checked this out from the library, so I went ahead and read it as well. This is a VERY good book for nerds like me. It's a survival story that just piece-by-piece takes the reader through all the things this poor guy has to do when he's left behind, presumed dead, on Mars. Mark Watney, the main character, is a very smart engineer (hey, he was picked for a journey to Mar, after all) and goes about dealing with his situation the way a good ol' engineer would. It's a book very much in the traditional of Robinson Crusoe, but it's so modern and nerdy that it's just fantastic. Crusoe never had a crew worried about him or a bunch of people at home able to see his camp, and it's the other side of the story that really makes this book a thrilling read. Any nerd who is even slightly interested in space flight, colonization of other planets or just plain science really ought to read this one.
My mystery book this week was The Alpine Vengeance by Mary Daheim. Milo starts getting disturbing letters that indicate a decade-old murder is still unsolved, prompting Emma to start looking into the past. Once again the town's people get a major role and, better, this book also goes back to a previous murder, apparently already solved, and reopens it. Do mystery writers generally go back and revisit a previous story? The events from earlier were covered in The Alpine Fury, and that story had multiple mysteries that had to be solved. Many of them are discussed in this story, but the key piece is one that Milo and Emma got wrong ten years ago. I enjoyed this one, not just for the references to the past (which were very easy to follow) but also the way it ties in with the city and the population. If you want to start the Alpine series, I strongly recommend starting at the first book, The Alpine Advocate.
Fortean Times #316 (July 2014). Disturbing Voodoo cover. Not really my thing, and it goes back to the old format of having a face as the focal point, which isn't my favorite type of cover, either. The gentleman in question, Rollo Ahmed, seems to have gotten along by playing "the Other" in England, which is a depressing way to deal with racism... but apparently somewhat effective at the time. The article ends with a promise for more about Ahmed in next month's issue.
Another main article is about mass hysteria, covering why it happens and what the results can be. The whole article is in support of the release of a book on mass hysteria and examines a few cases while referring readers to the book to get more information. That's not to say that there isn't a lot of information in the article... enough in fact for the casual reader. But the book promises more and more detail if one so desires.
The third main article is about the Human Fly, a real-life "superhero" of the late 1970s who did lots of stunts, including standing on a DC-8 airplane as it took off and jumping school buses at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. I vaguely remember the guy, but I was a little too young to remember much. Still, fun to read about.
Strangedays starts with Slender Man, the freaky and yet totally fictitious internet meme that apparently has taken on a life of its own thanks to idiots who are unable to distinguish reality from fiction. The whole Slenderman phenomenon is something I mean to write more about some time, but I'm still thinking through the implications of people who seriously believe in it. There's something profound about human nature in that story.
Ahem. Moving on, Strangedays also has objects that stopped bullets, a narcoleptic epidemic, attack of the tumbleweeds, scary emus and moronic criminals. Science covers the history of Lichtenberg patterns and how they were perceived by people throughout the ages along with bits on the Turin Shroud. Archaeology finds evidence of vampire burials in Poland and meteorite shrines in Arizona. Classical Corner is a tough read but appears to be about pre-Roman Britian and how those people reacted to Romans.
Ghostwatch is about ghost photographs and what photography and technology has done for ghost hunting. Alien Zoo finds a new jellyfish, the return of a sasquatch mask sort of stolen by a teacher in 1939 to the First Nations it belongs to and the existence of a possible feather of a thunderbird. Fairies, Folklore and Forteana is about One-Eyed Joan, who identified a witch in 1555 by, as she told an ecclesiastical court, talking to fairies. The UFO Files looks at abductee support groups, the Hessdalen sightings and the problems with alien communication. UFO Casebook takes a closer look at crop circles.
Random Dictionary dares to take on alien abductions, and starts with the earliest reports, then moves on to the general timeline of an abduction. I, personally, think there is a completely different explanation for abductions. I'm sure I'd feel differently if I were a victim, but unless such a thing happens to me, I tend to think these are something the mind manufactures rather than actual physical experiences. Perhaps we'll someday know the truth... if it's actually out there.
The Forum starts with a piece about objects that fall from the sky, and how some of them come from nearby activities on the ground. One example used is the head of a sledgehammer that was tossed through a roof by a wood chipper. The second Forum article is sort of an attack on cryptozoology and the assumptions often made by people in the field, but also a promo for a book, Cryptozoologicon, about it. Some good, some bad... if the book is written like the article I'm not interested.
The final Forum article tackles the disturbing legend of foundation sacrifices, particularly for bridges. The article actually quotes Terry Pratchett and mentions Discworld and "speculative folklorists". Fun stuff about a gruesome topic.
Reviews are great, starting with a lovely takedown of a Rendlesham book and continuing to a review of Paul Cornell's latest. Letters are good, with some interesting additions to previous articles. One letter notes that if an airliner can simply vanish, how likely is it that we would know if there are UFOs watching us? Interesting thought.
It Happened To Me has a long excerpt about an Alaskan earthquake that was fascinating. Fortean Traveller visits Norway to seek out the Northern Lights (and finds them). Phenomenomix is... amusing. Another good issue.
In a rare feat of something, I'm completely caught up with this magazine at the moment. It'll actually be almost a full month before I get my next issue. And this is apparently the issue currently on the stands in the UK (I tend to get my issue nearly a month after the UK). So this is a rare moment. Enjoy.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Here's the latest on my goofy IndieGoGo Campaign.
- Total raised: $190
- IndieGoGo Fees: $17.10
- Other payment Fees*: $1.50
- Paypal Fees: $5.27
- Total for Halloween: $166.13 (66% of $250 goal)
As usual, feel free to spread the news of the campaign yourself... or not as the case may be. Quick link is http://igg.me/at/tegan/x/3601409
The status of the campaign is: Fun-Size Candy (but only $90 from Mini-Comics!)
* This fee just showed up, and I think it's supposed to be the estimated fee the payment processor will charge to transfer money at the end of the campaign. There is also a line for bank fees from my bank, but nothing on it. I may get another unexpected fee before this is over. One thing I learned quickly about IndieGoGo (and I presume the same is true of Kickstarter), it will nickel and dime you to death if you let it. Technically, I think we need about $285-290 to make sure we can afford the comics, but we'll chip in the extra if we hit $280.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Sunday, July 13, 2014
Here's the latest on my goofy IndieGoGo Campaign...
There is almost nothing to report. In short, I've gotten a single new comment, also asking if I want to promote my campaign. No new donations, still don't have to send out any handwritten postcards (*whew!*). It's obvious that these things require serious care and feeding to work, and I'm not really the kind to want to push it too much. What we've got so far will definitely help offset the costs of Halloween, but that's all. No mini-comics yet.
As usual, feel free to spread the news of the campaign yourself... or not as the case may be. Quick link is http://igg.me/at/tegan/x/3601409.
The status of the campaign is: Fun-Size Candy
I got this from Netgalley as a preview and was actually surprised at just how neat it is. The stories are varied, the supporting characters are fleshed out and interesting. And the ongoing background tale is both hilarious and terrifying. You wonder just what Allison has gotten herself into. The ending is both satisfying and frustrating. I love Allison's paranoid friend, she's probably the best character in the book.
Anyway, this is worth getting. I believe it's currently being released as single issues, and a potential fan could get started by checking out the first issue. There's also a Four Page Preview at CBR. Otherwise, it's something you can pre-order on Amazon. Check it out.
This week's movie was Thor (2011). Hubby-Eric got it from the library, so of course at a crucial moment the movie stopped because the disc was so scratched up. Fortunately, we were able to get through it and watch the whole thing, unlike our effort with Hulk... *ahem* Anyway, Thor is a brash godling who looks forward to becoming king of Asgard, but his coronation is interrupted by a sneak attack and his reaction to it leads to his banishment to Midgard (Earth). I really enjoyed seeing the "magic is just advanced technology" thing. It worked for me. I wonder if the Asgardians could rebuild the bridge if they wanted to, or have they relied on existing technology so long they no longer can duplicate it? The Earth-side was funny, particularly Thor getting humbled by a couple of women, repeatedly. Loki struck just the right note with me as well: trying to do good but failing because he cannot get to the heart of what is right. It took me awhile to figure out why the older doctor (Selvig) was so familiar... he was Bill Anderson in Mamma Mia, and did fantastic in that role. The after-credit sequence promises some more of him, which I like. Overall, a decent little movie. I wish I'd popped up some popcorn to go with it.
Aside: Hubby-Eric and I are trying to get through the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe and finally catch up with the movies. We rewatched Iron Man (2008), attempted to watch The Incredible Hulk (2008) but the disc was bad. Iron Man 2 (2010) is on hold at the library. Then we'll see Captain America (2011) finally. Then The Avengers (2012). Hopefully we won't get any more bad DVDs from the library, but I'm not holding my breath. People aren't careful with DVDs they didn't pay for, which means the odds are always decent that we're going to get a heavily scratched DVD from the library.
DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
- Jun 4th
- Aquaman and the Others #3 - Finally we start to get somewhere with this story. Last issue was treading water, this one brings the enemies to the forefront and ties the flashbacks into the present.
- Earth 2 #24 - Hey, we're back to the original three again, sort of. I like the wonder kid, he's wise for his age. And Val, well, he's pretty cool too.
- Green Lantern #32 - Uh, yeah, war. Durlies. Greenies. Whatever. Is this plotline done yet?
- Swamp Thing #32 - Aquaman definitely comes off as a jerk in this one, but he also seems to be a guy who is willing to make the hard decisions to save the world. And the art was decent, so I'm happy overall, despite the negatives. I bought this because I thought it would be a different angle on the same events as the Aquaman book (that was how it was solicited). Instead it was a continuation. I'm not completely disappointed.
- Justice League 3000 #7 - Ok, I admit I wasn't expecting THAT twist. So it worked. But will somebody please fill in Green Lantern?
- Batman '66 meets Green Hornet #1 - Wait, do these guys know each others secret identities? Seems like they don't, but the snark between them makes it almost seem like they do, as well. Anyway, fun story.
- Tiny Titans: Return to the Treehouse #1 - A neat little story, not enough Aqualad. It's good to see more of Franco and Baltazar's work on Tiny Titans.
- Capt Action Cat #2 - You know, screwing up the timestreams is bad enough, but crossing realities really starts to make things confusing! Aw yeah, timestreams!
Saturday, July 12, 2014
Friday, July 11, 2014
Thursday, July 10, 2014
Here's the latest on my goofy IndieGoGo Campaign...
- Total raised: $65
- IndieGoGo Fees: $5.85
- Paypal Fees: $1.04
- Total for Halloween: $58.11 (23% of $250 goal)
Most of my visits have been from the United States (and all my contributions), but I've had visitors from Canada, France, the Philippines, Singapore and "Europe". I do wonder what people in countries that don't celebrate Halloween the crazy American way think of the whole thing.
Anyway, at the moment the status of the campaign is: Fun-Size Candy (blah).
Wednesday, July 09, 2014
Since I can, I think I'll update everyone on the IndieGoGo Campaign and what I've learned so far...
First off, I really didn't seriously expect much, maybe a couple of people throwing in a couple of bucks. So to be at $50 already is startling, if not shocking. Yeah, it's a better cause than some kid making potato salad, but that really isn't saying much at all.
IndieGoGo is pretty easy to set up. If you know anything at all about HTML you can control the look of your page nicely. I could do more myself, but I'm still trying to work full-time whilst running this thing, so, baby steps.
The IndieGoGo site gives people running a campaign the ability to look at some stuff through a dashboard. One thing it showed me is that I have gotten $45 that will be sent to my banking account at the end of the campaign, and $5 through Paypal. The fees (9% of the total unless I meet the $500 goal) reduced the $45 to $39.60 and the $5 to $4.55. The Paypal fees (2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction*) reduced the $5 even further, taking it down to $4.10. Ouch. If we meet the $500 IndieGoGo goal, I will get 5% refunded, making the total IGG fee just 4%.
Anyway, that means the total I've raised after fees is $43.70. If I don't reach any of my goals, that'll buy some Halloween candy. Not enough, but it will make the holiday a little less painful in the pocketbook. To get the comic books, we need to raise $250 after fees, so ... 17.48% of the way there. That's really not that bad. Whee!
*Note: Paypal fees are taken out of the total amount paid. IndieGoGo pays $5 to Paypal then "refunds" itself the 9% fee. So Paypal takes out the 2.9% and 30 cents from the $5 total, not the lesser $4.55. Should we reach the $500 goal and get our extra 5% back, Paypal will also take its fee from that, meaning they get to double-dip. This is really quite a slick deal they've got going with IndieGoGo.
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
I've never been one to shy away from the bandwagon! I have started an IndieGoGo campaign to Make Halloween Totally Awesome for children who come to our house. We expect between 800 and 1,000 kids (I am NOT exaggerating!) to come and beg for candy on Halloween. In order to pay for what I want to give out (mini-comics) I'm running an IndieGoGo campaign with really lame perks.
Feel free to chip in a buck or two... or completely ignore it. I have no idea if this will work or completely fail. I'm curious to see what happens.
Monday, July 07, 2014
Sunday, July 06, 2014
My mystery book this week was The Alpine Uproar by Mary Daheim. After a man dies in a drunken brawl, Emma feels that something about the incident is not quite right. This one goes back to the strengths of the series and works through Alpine as a place, using it as the main character. The incidents aren't pretty, but it makes Alpine seem a lot more real as it goes on. Poor Vida. If you want to start the Alpine series, I strongly recommend starting at the first book, The Alpine Advocate.
DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
- May 28th
- Aquaman #31 - Aquaman seems to be less than a diplomat with Swamp Thing, but it's Mera who steals the show with her story in this one. That can't be a good position for her to be in.
- Secret Origins #2 - Yet another version of the Batman origin. Fortunately, the Aquaman origin is there and fills in some small gaps left from the details in the series. Excellent! And Starfire's origin is ok, I suppose.
- The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West #18 - Well, that wasn't entirely what I was expecting to happen. And the revelation of just who that other gal is... well, interesting. I really am enjoying this version of Oz.
- Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #5 - Things are beginning to come together, and that's good because I really need this story to hold together better if I'm going to understand it.
- Peanuts V2 #18 - Fun stuff, as usual. This may not be all Schulz, but it's got some really good bits even so.
- Twilight Zone #5 - Nice tie-in with the previous storyline, while also being very much its own story. Nice cliffhanger, as well.
- FCBD - Final three books in this year's haul...
- FCBD: The Tick - A pretty good main story in which Arthur shows off his talents quite nicely. Heh. And then a mildly funny back-up tale. Whee.
- FCBD: Street Fighter - Some vaguely interesting fighter-based stories. Not really my thing, but they had decent artwork and the first one wasn't bad at all.
- FCBD: 2000 AD Special - A very complete sampler of the 2000 AD universe that really does a good job of illustrating just how different some of the British sensibilities are from American in comic book storytelling and humor. I've become a fan of the Judge Dredd/Mega-City One stories, but because I don't seek them out, I suspect I mostly see cherry-picked collections/samples of the best of the best.
Fortean Times #315 (June 2014). I love this type of cover... the woodcut design is just awesome and the break from the normal layout is very nice. I even like the colors they used. The cover story itself is a fairly typical poltergeist tale, although it lacks a major character if it is a polt. Fortunately, that issue is covered in a sidebar. I like the historical context provided, and the concept that the story has changed in focus as society itself has changed. All interesting ideas. Definitely a good read, well put-together with some decent research behind it.
Another main article is about Igor Bourtsev, a man who has spent his life looking for the Russian Snowman, including a lot of time under Soviet rule. Fascinating stuff about the Russian understanding of yeti and bigfoot, including what Russian researchers think of the Patterson-Gimlin bigfoot film (spoiler: they think it's real).
Another article covers the history of the Nandi Bear and what it might be/might have been. There's a very good theory as to why it hasn't been seen in recent years. There's also some evidence that one or more may have appeared in traveling menageries in the UK a couple hundred years ago. Really strange and intriguing stuff, but the author sort of rips up the conclusions of the guy who was kind enough to send him info about the animal collections, which ended the article on a sour note.
Strangedays starts with pets eaten by snakes. Eeww. (Inkwell wondered why I hugged him after reading that). The allergy round-up didn't surprise me. My mother had a run-in with strange allergies when I was still young that left an impression on me. The lucky escapes had some good tales, but some of them may well have been just that, tales. The special report on the vampire symposium was a good read. The bit about the Island of Poveglia was a nice touch of history. I was amused at all the dread, dead, ghosts in the story followed up by the locals talking about using the place as a swimming hole and playground. Heh. The Mystery Ring photos are cool, and a reasonable explanation put forth. Love the Fortean Follow-ups, although some of these seemed less follow-up than continuation on a theme.
Konspiracy Korner was a little more insane than usual, and terribly disturbing in implications whether the conspiracy in question is false (more likely) or true. Archaeology made me want to go out and get a metal detector. Or live in a place where hoarded gold coins might show up. I'd heard about the discovery of the Faberge Egg, but the Irish gold fish was a new one for me. Classical Corner was difficult to look at. I just don't like those spontaneous combustion photos. I would've preferred a more classic bit of art on the subject, personally.
Ghostwatch is about Gef the Talking Mongoose. Lots of little bits in there, some really intriguing. And some slightly depressing. The impact the story had on a horror writer also was interesting. Alien Zoo was fine, nothing incredibly shattering. I like how it is now known that whales are making the mystery "bio-duck" sound, but marine biologists still don't know why. Ask Aquaman! Mythconceptions taught me something about early radio sports coverage I didn't know, which is good. The First Forteans talks about Rupert Thomas Gould and his works that paralleled Fort's stuff, but was a little more rigorous in a scholarly sense. I suspect Gould's works might be easier to read than some of Fort's.
A new feature is called "Fairies, Folklore and Forteana" and appears to link stories from folklore to Fortean topics. The first one is a humdinger. It's about a "wool roller" that appears in early 19th century literature. Basically, a big ball of wool that just rolls along, sometimes buzzing, sometimes damaging the legs of a horse. In one case, containing a pixie. Very odd stuff. I like it. Blasts from the Past covers mediums who claimed to visit Mars or host visitors from Mars and what they described the Red Planet to really be like. Some crazy stuff there, including photos purported to be of Martian royalty. Illustrated Police News was about a mysterious disappearance (and reappearance) and Phenomenomix concludes its look at P.L. Travers and her beliefs.
The UFO Files were good, with Flyingsaucery taking on Rendlesham again, Clinton's attempts to discover what the government knows about UFOs while he was president and pareidolia that makes people think a lens flare on a web cam is a flying saucer. The UFO Casebook is about "reality blinks", where something happens and the human mind sort of skips a beat. An example used is two people who both saw a parked car move sideways a few feet, but nobody else noticed. Another example is a man and his cat both noticing a bit of dirt on the wall at the same time, despite the probability that the dirt was there for some time. There's some potential there for good stories.
The Forum starts with a piece on the Crystal Palace and a train car full of skeletons. It's an amazing story that is pretty much not possible, but it's still fun. The second forum article is about Vincent Price's roles in some adaptations of Poe's works, filmed by Roger Corman. The piece is in response to Corman's announced intention of remaking the films, but goes into great detail on Price's role in making the films classic. Neat stuff that I just hadn't heard of. The world is too big sometimes.
Reviews are good with the usual types of books, including a gigantic conspiracy theory in the first book. I thought the review of the Steed and Mrs Peel comic was disturbingly correct, even though I never watched much of the original Avengers. I'd love to read "Lost City of the Exodus" by Ahmed Osman, just to figure out his conclusions, but I'm not sure I'd be inclined to buy it in order to read it. Letters were great, with the usual amount of self-correcting and updates that I love to read about. There's even a defense of the Doctor Who book that was ripped to shreds in last month's reviews. All kinds of fun stuff in this one!