Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Sunday Review

TV this week:

  • Smallville: "Requiem" - Toyman. And... Lex wins? This one is a bit too over-dramatic at the end for me. Yeah, dramatic moments and all, but this series goes to that well too much, making it all same old, same old.
  • Ghost Hunters International: "Unknown Soldiers" - Wow, the Phillipines. The first place was depressing. Whether or not what they found was supernatural or, more likely, a product of the active fauna of the area, their farewell at the hospital was a classy moment. Interesting debunking with the magnetic field in the second investigation. And finding a squatter was a nice moment as well. Maybe not for the squatter. But, is it just me or does GHI always seem to have the results the client wants?
  • Numb3rs: "Sneakerhead" - I can't criticize shoe collectors when I collect Aquaman stuff. But those shoes had one convoluted journey, didn't they? I enjoyed this one, a bit of a fluff ep, but fun with a little bit of math.
  • Supernanny: "Davis Family" - The father in this one was frightening. He might as well wear furs and carry a club. I wanted to see some sincerity in his eyes, but I just saw cluelessness. If there is a Supernanny follow-up years later, this is one family that MUST be a part of it.
  • Food Detectives - They tackle MSG, and somewhat disprove the effects of it on regular healthy people. They also find an ice cream that sticks to the cone. And they compare caffeine levels of different drinks. The MSG was the most interesting story for me, and I loved the way they tested the effects on a control group.

No comics this week, nothing until Tuesday. I'm rereading Hikaru No Go because I finally got my hands on the 13th volume. I'd forgotten how much I love this series. The fun bits still make me laugh aloud. I particularly like Sai's glee whenever he gets a chance to play the game. This is one Manga series definitely worth finding. Adjusting to reading the "wrong way" can be a little difficult. I found during my reread that if I got interrupted, I would usually flip a page the wrong way when I got back to the book and get totally confused for a moment because I was suddenly ahead of myself instead of reviewing. But I think it's good mental exercise to learn to read Manga like this.

For anyone who doesn't know what this Manga series is about... it's pretty simple. A typical kid, Hikaru, is rummaging in his grandfather's attic one day, looking for something to sell for pocket change, when he comes across an oddly bloodstained Go board. But the board is haunted by the ghost of a Go player from 1000 years ago, who enters Hikaru's consciousness. The ghost, Sai, awakens Hikaru's interest in the game of Go, and guides him on the way to becoming a professional Go player. No superheroes in this one, but certainly a lot of story. Beyond Sai's existence as a ghost, the book is very down-to-earth and real, and a lot of research went into making it as authentic as possible. The art is by Takeshi Obata, possibly best known in US comic circles as the artist on Death Note. The writer is Yumi Hotta.

And, hey, if you've got Netflix, could you put Hikaru No Go Volume 1 in your queue? The problem is that they don't actually seem to HAVE a copy right now. Perhaps if enough people requested it, they'd get it. I would really like to see the Anime series from the beginning, but at the moment Netflix is probably my only possibility (unless someone feels like buying it for me from my wishlist, but frankly I'd rather Netflix bought another copy so more people can enjoy it).

This week's movie was Once. Eric picked it out for Valentine's Day. Not the best Valentine movie, but terribly beautiful and surprisingly happy despite the ending. This is a slice of life movie, and doesn't have much action (although the opening scene has a little)... not tragedy nor comedy, it's just life with some really strong music. If you don't like music or slow-moving love stories, you might find this one not to your tastes. But I loved it. The dialogue was sometimes difficult to follow with the Irish and Czech accents (not to mention the actual Czech at times), but I caught enough to keep up with it. A gorgeous movie that was both sad and happy at once. Speaking of... the title refers to people who plan to succeed at what they want to do in life once they get everything else sorted out, and as a result, they never do.

My library book this week was Gifts by Ursula K Le Guin. It's been a long time since I read any fiction by Le Guin, and this is the first of a new young adult series she started a few years ago. All the things that make her a fantastic writer are in here, and none of the stuff that made me so disappointed in Tehanu, which was the last Le Guin novel I read. This book concerns a youngster growing up in a feudal land where lords with "gifts" protect their clans and battle with rival clans. Orrec's gift is a powerful and horrible one, and he waits impatiently for it to manifest. But when it does, the power isn't what he expected or wanted. The book follows him as he grows from a terrified boy into a man following a dark path... literally. It's a good book, and worth checking out if you have the time and inclination.

No Agatha Christie this week. Inter-library loan has failed to find the next two books published in 1934 so far. We're still looking.