Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Sunday Review

TV this week:

  • Primeval: "Episode 22" - It all still hinges on "Claudia Brown" somehow. The herd of "rhinos" was lovely work, and I enjoyed Connor's mad dash through the woods trying to escape. I love Lester's apartment and all the notes. Danny's... activities amuse me. I want to be amused by Christine Johnson's fate, but even for her that was a bit extreme.
  • The Next Food Network Star: "Dinner at Ina's" - Wow, Teddy really screwed up there. Right then and there he became a goner to me. I didn't see what he did last week as throwing Melissa under the bus: Brett seemed to be the force behind that, while Teddy kept his mouth shut and looked intensely uncomfortable. But Teddy's betrayal of Debbie, especially after they worked so incredibly well together, was nearly unforgivable.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold: "The Last Bat On Earth" - Mister Miracle in the pre-credits, with a mystery villain. Not bad. And the main story, with a title like that, has to be Kamandi! Fun enough. I've never been a big Kamandi fan, but he's ok in small doses.
  • History Detectives: "Psychophone, War Dog Letter, Pancho Villa Watch Fob" - The Psychophone story is hilarious. The idea that it might have to do with the paranormal was natural, but the real story makes much more sense. The War Dog story was another moment of shame on the United States. I like the guest historian whose ancestors rode with Pancho Villa. It's always cool when an investigation pans out into truth.

This week's movie was Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb by director Stanley Kubrick and Starring Peter Sellers and George C. Scott. This 1964 black comedy is absolutely frightening. The situation set up is all too plausible when strategists overthink possible scenarios. The comedy is incredibly bleak, but somehow manages to still be funny. A lot of that is due to Peter Sellers, but the others also play their parts to the fullest. Brutal, brutal film. And yet I found myself grinning at the end of it.

This week's comic book related review is Torchwood: Rift War. This is a collection of comics from the magazine, and because of that, the quality is a bit uneven. The artwork is great in places, and horrible in others. The story holds together ok, but I found myself scratching my head in a couple of places at the choices made. Overall, it's a decent story although the ending was telegraphed almost from the first pages.

My library book this week was Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter. A small orange kitten was stuffed into the Spencer Library drop box sometime during the night before January 18th 1988. He was found by the library director and assistant director, named Dewey Readmore Books, and soon became a fixture in the library. He passed away on November 29, 2006 at the age of 19, a long life for a cat. In those years, he touched many lives, became moderately famous, and helped that library director deal with her own difficult life. This book is a brutally honest look at just what impact Dewey had on Spencer Iowa, and in Vicki Myron in particular. I picked up this book after reading Todd Klein's review and I truly enjoyed it. You get a lot about Myron's life in between information about the cat, a picture of life in the Iowa cornfields, and you also get a good sense of Dewey's life. I found myself looking up the library's website, and hoping to someday see the documentary that featured Dewey, Puss in Books. I do warn you, it may be a difficult read when you get to the chapters about death. But it was a good read.

Another library book I picked up this week was Dorp Dead by Julia Cunningham. I read this book as a teenager, and while bits of it stuck with me, other bits seemed entirely new reading it as an adult. I had entirely forgotten about the mountain tower and Hunter and even the dog. I deeply remember the ladder-maker and Gilly's spelling: "I purposely never learn to spell, which for the simple indicates stupidity." Because of this book, I never considered bad spelling to be a sign of low intelligence (although there have been times the spelling on the Internet has made me question that conclusion). This is a chilling little story, easy to read despite the unusual narrative voice. There is more than a little of the horror genre in it, as you wonder what Kobalt's real intentions are. In this particular edition, there is an essay (by Betsy Hearne) at the end of the book describing its impact when it was first published (1965) and critical reaction to the book. Put into historical context, the book is even better to my eyes. This is a gem of a book, well worth a read.

Agatha Christie this week was One, Two, Buckle My Shoe first published in 1940, and also published as The Patriotic Murders and An Overdose of Death. Poirot goes to the dentist and only hours later the dentist commits suicide. This one has layers on layers, and the extra two titles might give something away if you are reading closely enough. I wasn't. Nope. I had no clue to the murderer. I don't think I'm stupid, I just think Christie is far more clever than I'll ever be. I did like Christie's description of Poirot's moment of revelation, something we don't usually see quite like that. It was almost inspirational. This one is worth reading if you are Poirot fan if only to see Poirot in a state of utter terror. Heh.