Sunday, November 09, 2008

A Sunday Review

TV this week:

  • Smallville: "Identity" - Does this mean the series is nearly over? And that last scene... huh.
  • Battlestar Galactica: Season 1 Miniseries - Netflix is a new and useful thing for us. We plan to watch the entire series, and so we started with the mini. I can see the links to the original series, but there are a lot of changes. I miss the "King Tut" helmets. I like the updated Cylons, and the whole "network" excuse for why the entire fleet went down as quickly as it did. Looking forward to the rest.
  • Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives: "Traditional Dishes" - I could eat at any of those places. None of them looked so good I'd go out of my way, but I'd eat there. One thing this episode drove home is how much this town needs a good Italian restaurant.
  • Numb3rs: "Scan Man" - A very good one, with some serious intensity. The math was minor, but the social issues were powerful.
  • Dinner: Impossible: "Street Cart Critics" - Ouch! Lots of plans got derailed in this one. But he somehow pulled it off. The ads for the episode made it seem like he failed, but the reviews at the end were mostly positive. I wonder what they'll do next?
  • Ghost Hunters: "Live Show Results" - While the pulling of the coat seemed very impressive, Grant kept his right hand in his pocket the entire time, making me wonder if they hadn't rigged something. Also, the "You are not supposed to be here!" voice sounded like someone trying to be creepy on a walkie talkie. Not saying they faked it, I'm just not convinced. The second place... I hope they were able to reassure the woman, but if I were her I'd get someone to check out the stability of that house. From the creaking floorboards to the bees nest, it needs some TLC.
  • Smallville: "Bloodline" - I don't know why, but I enjoyed this episode more than any other recent episodes. And I'm not a Kara fan at all. I still don't quite buy Davis for what he's supposed to become, but... well, it makes a little more story sense now.
  • Battlestar Galactica: "33" - Netflix sent us the second disc of season one, which happens to be the first of the actual season. This episode is a grim start, with the fleet jumping through space every 33 minutes to keep ahead of Cylon attackers. It was an intense episode that didn't remind me at all of the original series. Wow. Good stuff.

Comics this week:
  • Tiny Titans #9 - Very cute as always. Not enough Aqualad (in fact, I don't think he was in this at all). Beppo! The Atom Family = Cute gag. Again, I gotta wonder who the audience is supposed to be for this book?
  • Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns #1 - I'm not a big fan of Lantern tales. I'm a little interested in the other colors, though, and seeing a Blue Lantern was nice.
  • DC Universe Halloween '08 - This was a mish-mash of stories that didn't work as an anthology. The linking arc didn't do anything for me, though it was nice to see the Dibnys again. The only one I liked was the Vixen tale, despite it being an interruption of another tale for no apparent reason. None of the others were better than mediocre.
  • Checkmate #31 - Um. Ok.
  • DMZ #35 - Ah, a sweet arrangement they have on the island. As usual, Roth arrives just in time for things to be shaken up. The final pages were chilling, for potential not for what was on the page.
  • Northlanders #11 - I'm always up for a good resistence story. This one ... makes me want to hit the history books and make sure I'm up to speed. The date is interesting. As is the mention of Brian Boru. Looking forward to more of this tale.
  • Hellboy: In The Chapel Of Moloch - There is nothing quite like a Hellboy tale written and drawn by Mike Mignola. When I read Mignola was doing the art on this one-shot, I ordered it without fear of the book being anything other than first class. I was not disappointed. I love this type of Hellboy tale, and wish there were more.
  • Usagi Yojimbo #115 - A really good done-in-one issue that shows the nature of both Usagi and one of his friends. The scene in the castle was chilling. As always, one of the best comics on the shelves.
  • Obama: The Comic Book - Less a comic book, more an illustrated mini-novel. Still, it includes his famous 2004 speech that propelled him to the national theater, and it gives a decent background of the man.

This week's movie was Four Minutes, an ESPN movie about Roger Bannister. This was a nice solid movie about a milestone in sports history. It managed to be well-paced and engrossing both despite and because of the subject matter. The side stories were kept out of the way of the main plot, but still managed to hold my interest. This was a much better movie than I was expecting. Worth checking out if you have 90 minutes to spare. By the way, my fastest mile (in 8th grade) was 6 minutes 56 seconds.

My library book this week was The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau. I read the City of Ember based on the Unshelved review, and enjoyed it. When I heard there is going to be a movie, I also learned there are sequels to the original book. I promptly visited the library to check out the first of the three other books. This book picks up shortly after the first one ends, and shows how people from two vastly different cultures find a way to get along. I can't tell you the precise reading age of this book, but it is definitely aimed at younger readers, maybe pre-teen and teen. That shows in the writing style and the plot resolutions. I enjoyed it, but if you are used to more sophisticated fare, this might be a little too light a read for you. The other two books of the Ember series include a prequel and a sequel to this book. I may pick them up, but haven't decided yet.

Agatha Christie this week was The Seven Dials Mystery from 1929. This one is a sequel of sorts to The Secret of Chimneys in that a few of the characters from that book are the sleuths in this one. Particularly the charming "Bundle", who has a confusing and sometimes amusing adventure figuring this one out. I admit, I was fooled. But, again, that had to do with the narrative style Christie uses. I think perhaps I need to open my mind a bit more when reading her books. Next up is 1930, a year in which Christie had three books published, but only two of them under her own name.

Fortean Times #242, December 2008. I got this last week, for anyone keeping track, and read it fairly quickly. I needed some extra time to think about some of the articles, and as a result have gone back to reread and ponder since then. First up: I hate the cover. The wax doll of the Tocci Twins is just creepy. Not because they are cojoined twins, but because wax dolls in generally are creepy. I would've preferred one of the photographs from the article. Speaking of the article, I think I would've liked to chat with the twins, but I guess after the horrific childhood they had, they probably would not have wanted a chat with me. The seaside cave on page 8 made me say "I want one!" until I realized how high I'd have to climb on a sheer cliff to reach it.

The Ken Campbell obit was detailed and interesting, and I recognized a lot of names of people who crossed his path. Wow. The Project Kugelblitz article was a nice touch of sanity. Who says that some number of UFOs aren't caused by military efforts? Linking it to the Rendlesham Forest incident worked for me. I'll accept it as an untestable hypothesis. The article further debunking the Betty and Barney Hill incident was nice. I think Making Light completely debunked the Hill abduction over a year ago, but that doesn't stop anyone who truly believes it happened, and further debunking is always good reinforcement.

The short article on Cryptozoology and the modern point-of-view was one of those articles I had to ponder a bit. I think Josh on Destination Truth does a nice job with this... he takes the locals very seriously, takes his hunt very seriously, but doesn't expect to find mythical beasts so much as the origins of myths in his hunts. I don't entirely disagree with the author, but I think he needs to give cryptozoologists a little more credit. I was glad to see the Anakin Skywalker double-exposure photo from page 12 of FT #241 was pointed out and apologized for in the letter column. The review of the ghost hunting video game almost made me want to try it... almost. I also liked the look at Easter Island.

But the article that really got me was "Laughing with Charles Fort" by Simon Wilson, who manages to finally put "Fortean" into terms that most people should be able to understand. He uses a joke to express the duality which Fortean thinkers work in, and from there posits that Forteans are more ready to laugh with the world than skeptics, who tend to laugh at the world and it's foolish beliefs. I'd rather be laughing with than at, if I have a choice. It's an article I can see myself returning to in the future, if only to remind myself to not take everything so seriously.