Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Sunday Review

TV this week:

  • Have I Got News For You: "Jeremy Clarkson, Kate Silverton, and Ian McMillan" - Final episode of this batch. Paul Cornell almost gets a mention, as the Captain Britain comic is one of the subjects they cover. It was funny to see the US Presidential race from the British point of view, as well. Though I suspect Clarkson isn't a liberal. Too bad there wasn't another episode, I would have loved to see them react to the guy who was pepper sprayed for laughing too hard at Paul (possibly in this very episode).
  • Iron Chef America: "Flay vs Samuelsson" - Very common ingredient, and as usual I'm rooting for the challenger, who is simply cool. Also as usual, I'd much rather taste the challenger's dishes than Flay's.
  • The Next Food Network Star: "Star on the Go" - What, they still let Robert play with the big boys? The challenges were out of a nightmare. Lisa really redeemed herself this week in the challenge itself, but was a witch during the judging. In the end, they picked the right person to not move on.
  • American Gladiators - Hulk-themed episode. Very lackluster. None of the contestants really stand out, and the clipping of events was at the same time annoying and a relief.
  • Ghost Hunters: "Garden State Ghosts" - It seems really strange that some of the ghost hunters are terrified of bugs and spiders. Also, they debunk while running around in the dark: couldn't they do some debunking before lights out? I still think a proper investigation of a place would involve weeks of work to establish baselines, intense debunking, and cameras running 25/7. No group could afford to do that, though. So the show always leaves my skeptic side unsatisfied, even if I generally feel entertained.
  • Monster Quest: "Ghosts" - I watched this as a sort of counter-point to Ghost Hunters, hoping for a little more science. Oh well. It's a nice enough show, and I'm sure I could get into it as a cryptozoology fan, but it is overproduced (like GH) and repetitious. Really repetitious. I really want that infrared camera, though. I don't know what I'd do with it, but my gadget-loving heart wants to play with one.
  • Doctor Who: "Midnight" - Wow wow wow. That's some of the best acting I've seen in a long time. The script was pretty basic, but WOW the acting. I wouldn't call this episode my favorite by a long shot, but it was really really good. Wow.
Comics this week:
  • Trinity #2 - Um. Ok. I'm not really feeling the impressed-ness yet.
  • Wonder Woman #21 - Three different stories in one issue! Sort of! And all three work well, and even work together. Who woulda thunk it?
  • Action Comics #866 - Hmm. Not a lot to say about this one except it's a nice set-up.
  • Titans #3 - I still want to know what happened to Garth. But he's in limbo with Aquaman, I guess.
  • Green Lantern Corps #25 - Yay, more Natu. Boo, more cosmic stuff.
  • Tiny Titans #5 - No Aqualad or Fluffy in this one. Bummer.
  • Wildguard Insider #2 - Looking forward to the final issue of this one, and I really liked this issue. I wish I'd kept up with the on-line comic when it was going, but I'm glad I can catch up now.
  • Captain Britain and MI13 #2 - Skrulls and fairies. It's not bad, if you like Skrulls and constant battles.
  • Star Wars Rebellion #14 - You know, if I'm going to read Star Wars comics, I could do much worse than these. Pretty good finish to the tale.
  • Local #12 - I want to reread all the previous issues now. I think this is a satisfactory ending to the series, but I won't know until I reread the entire thing.
Just a final note here, I'd like to thank my friend D who is buying many of the comics I read each week, allowing me to read a lot more than I could afford. Thanks, D!

This week's library movie was Happy Feet. Well, that had a lot of songs in it. I wouldn't recommend this one unless you've got a person who really likes music and dance with you. It wasn't bad, it just was a little overwhelmingly musical. I liked the guy near the end who said, "I don't want to live in a world without penguins!" Otherwise... well, this one was just ok. Maybe I'm suffering from penguin overload or something.

Agatha Christie this week was her first collection, Poirot Investigates from 1924. Although the original US edition had 3 extra stories, I ended up with a reprint of the original UK version, which only has the original 11 stories. But they are really good little stories! Each one a bite-sized Poirot tale. Quick reads, and intriguing enough to make me slap my forehead at each reveal, because I always think I should have figured it out. Somehow Christie makes me feel not quite stupid, yet still a little slow. I'm enjoying her works and I'm glad Doctor Who inspired me to start reading her books.

My library book this week was A Land So Strange: The Epic Journey of Cabeza de Vaca by Andrés Reséndez. This book was recommended in Fortean Times #236, and because it speaks to my interests in pre-Colonial America, I couldn't wait to dive into it. The story concerns four men who survived an ill-fated colonialization effort that landed in Florida. The four men, including Cabeza de Vaca, walked across North America from Florida to the Pacific Coast before any Europeans had reached that far. Along the way, they endured slavery and starvation and eventually became holy men in their quest to return home, which they managed in 1536. There are two ways to read this book. You can read it right through then check the end notes, or you can read the end notes as you go along. Because I'm a fussy reader, I tend to read the notes while reading the text. This book had lots of notes. Practically every paragraph had an endnote, and the majority of the notes were as long as the paragraphs themselves. Everything was documented, and parts of the story where there is contention among scholars had the disputes laid out along with the reasons the author chose one interpretation over another. If you were to read the book straight through without reading the notes, it would be a quick read of an interesting bit of history that most of us know nothing about. With the notes it became a fascinating look into the past and a study of the limitations of understanding what happened only 500 years ago. If you have any interest at all in what America was like back then, or want to read an incredible tale of survival against the odds, this is the book for you.

I also read Little Brother by Cory Doctorow this week, and was hit pretty hard by the ideas in the book. I recommend it to just about everyone. You can download it for free or buy a copy.