Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Sunday Review

TV this week:

  • Ghost Lab: "Disturbing the Peace" - I decided to check out this show because I want to see if it's a truly scientific look at the paranormal. Ghost Hunters has kind of opened the door on a scientific look at ghosts, without going through, so my hope is that this one at least takes a step toward that door. This review was written while watching the show.
    First location is the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium, which I didn't know was haunted. I like that they do debunking before they turn off the lights. And they have gadgets ("dataloggers") that constantly monitor EMF and temp, instead of only carrying stuff around. I think these guys are WAY better funded than TAPS. They brought in an astrophysicist to explain parallel universe theory and how it relates to ghosts. They also stay at a place multiple nights... good. They bring in a band to get the ghosts interested ("era cues"). Definitely better funded than TAPS. I wonder who is funding them? Their declaration that the place was haunted was a little disturbing. They have some evidence, maybe even scientific, but what does that evidence really say?
    Second location is the Myrtles Plantation, which TAPS already investigated so I'm more familiar with it. They open with a ghost photo, but don't seem to show the whole thing. I'm not liking the style of this show. It's bad in a different way than Ghost Hunters, although this show is also overproduced with too many sound effects. It's interesting that these guys immediately review any evidence they find. It shows they have more time. Cold spots and being touched don't make for compelling TV, I'm afraid. And again, they make their declaration that the place is haunted. But where's the science?
    Science is NOT just evidence. Science the the testing of the evidence in a rigorous way. I'm getting the impression that this show is just a better funded Ghost Hunters with leaders who aren't out to disprove a haunting (like TAPS) and thus are automatically suspect before they even start. I'll give it a few more episodes, but it is a disappointment so far.
  • Destination Truth: "Alien Mummies/Lake Van Monster" - I suppose hunting aliens in Chile is a form of cryptozoology. The cultural bits are always fascinating, and this one had some really good bits, including a haircut. I wonder what they dug up, and kind of wish they'd taken a small sample for themselves to get tested (I'm still leaning toward thinking it was a chicken). Handing it all over to the locals seems like a bit of a waste. The lights and sounds were intriguing, but not evidence of anything in particular. Moving over to Turkey, the monster seems a fairly neat local mystery. I'd like to see more of those carvings and painting on that old church. Running around on a boat in the middle of the night looking for a monster during heavy rain (and snow) isn't really that safe. Ah well, it was an amusing episode, if only for the haircuts.
  • Ghost Hunters: "Glimmer Men" - *THAT'S* the Jay I like, the one who hedges his bets about declaring something haunted, and suggests more investigation. Watching this after seeing the new Ghost Lab show reminded me why I enjoy Ghost Hunters in the first place. It's the healthy skepticism that makes them test and retest doors clanging, and it's the personalities who are eager for the paranormal but willing to find mundane explanations for everything. They listen, they guess at what something might be (besides paranormal), then they test. I don't much like investigations on ships (too much possibility of noise), but that was an interesting one with good stories. The Canadian prison (eh?) was a very nice building with a wretched past. The high EMF fields in both places could explain away a lot of the sightings. Good stuff.
  • Heroes: "Acceptance" - No Matt? Hiro is good in this one, but you'd think that even he would have more sense than to keep going back repeatedly. I have to wonder where he went to at that critical moment. And I'm trying to actually care about the rest of the characters, and finding nothing there of interest.
  • Numb3rs: "7 Men Out" - Intense. Again, not enough math, although there's a tiny touch on the statistical analysis needed to make the odds. Just not enough. The Larry subplot is strange, but one of the more interesting parts of the show now.
I haven't been doing Smallville reviews because it turns out we don't get Smallville out here. If we want to watch it, we'll have to find an online source.

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic book shipment that arrived this week, of books originally released September 23rd and 30th:
  • Wednesday Comics #12 - Finally, the final issue! Ok, so... Batman: So normal. Kamandi: Good art, good story. Superman: So normal. Deadman: Pretty good. Green Lantern: Solid. Metamorpho: Silly. Teen Titans: Incomprehensible. Strange Adventures: Strange. Supergirl: Oh, almost too cute for words. Metal Men: Eh, ok. Wonder Woman: Almost incomprehensible. Sgt Rock: Solid. Flash: Um, what? Demon/Catwoman: Cute. Hawkman: Oh sweet Aquatic action! Ahem. Um, pretty fun little story. Overall, not a bad package, and I'm glad we got it. There was almost enough Aquaman to please me, but if they do this again we need an Aquaman feature, darnit.
  • Blackest Night: Superman #2 - Blah blah blah, Smallville, blah blah Kal-L blah blah... wait, WHAT villain is that? Coming into a situation where the baddies feed on emotion? Oh, nice touch. Very nice. I can almost forgive the rest just for that villain in this circumstance.
  • Justice League of America #37 - I liked the development that put Roulette and Amos Fortune into the same storyline, but otherwise this was just a run of the mill story. Needs more Aquaman.
  • Super Friends #19 - A Super Friends version of Black Alice?!?? Ahem. I'm guessing people can figure out what my favorite bit was... it comes after, "Oh man, Batman's after me!" Heh. Annoying cardboard ad stuck in pages was... well, annoying.
  • Bart Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror #15 - Every year we get this, and every year it's very odd and sometimes very good. This year it was very odd. And really, that's all I've got to say about it.
  • Doctor Who: Black Death White Life - Nice set up, and the payoff wasn't entirely bad. I wanted something more, it felt like there was something missing. But I can't quite figure out what was bothering me, sorry.

  • Usagi Yojimbo #123 - Wow, it's been a LONG time since we've heard from Hijiki. Interesting bit of Usagi's past there.
  • Blackest Night: Titans #2 - That trio on the upper part of the last page... aren't they occupied elsewhere in the storyline, or am I just making the assumption that this has to make sense?
  • Green Lantern #46 - Zombie corps fights Care Bear corps. Yay!
  • Justice Society of America #31 - I want to like this, but the story seems to be flailing a bit right here. Confusion in the plot, which may reflect the attitude of the team at the moment, but doesn't make the reader happy.
  • Justice League of America 80 Page Giant #1 - An anthology based around the premise of the JLA being sent back in time. There are a few nice twists in there, and all the stories are ok, although some are much better than others. I like the appearances of some of DC Universe's lesser known heroes.
  • Batman: Brave and the Bold #9 - Because I know a little about the DCU, I knew what the twist of this story was going to be before I got to it, but it was still fun to read. And I do wonder what kids who don't know about the DCU thought of it.
  • Astro City: Astra Special #1 - College already? Wasn't she just playing a playground game... just a couple of issues ago? Has it really been that long? Nice set up, with an incredibly uncomfortable boyfriend being introduced to the true weirdness of the Furst family. Reminded me a little of Noble Causes. The second issue will determine if I enjoy this special.

  • Moon Knight Saga Free Comic - A surprisingly well-written summary of Moon Knight's career, nicely retconned, I'm guessing, to fit in the bits that really don't fit. Still doesn't make me want to pick up the comic, but at least I'd understand it if I did.

My library book this week was The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. This is a beautiful book. It just is. I don't want to spoil anything by telling you all about it, but if you like dogs and want a good read, read this book. The story is told from the point of view of a dog named Enzo who is owned by a racecar driver named Denny, and they live in Seattle. And it's just GOOD. It one of those books that I cried at the end, but it was happy tears. Your mileage may vary, but I adored this book, and being able to recognize the locations was just a nice bonus.

Agatha Christie this week was The Rose and the Yew Tree from 1948, written as Mary Westmacott. An invalid tells us the story of the brutish and unscrupulous John Gabriel after first letting us know how the man died a virtual saint. This is the best of the Westmacott books so far. Yeah, it's got a bit of that depression that the others do, but it rolls along such that it feels right. It doesn't pull you down into it. And the strengths of Christie's abilities to create characters are showcased in this. She starts with the stereotypes, just to make sure you can follow the character, then fleshes them out with small details and quirks. She makes them real. Instead of a bunch of cardboard cutouts running around filling their role, each one has life and emotion and things you wonder about. In any case, this was a solid Christie novel, and not another depressingly hard read. I actually enjoyed it quite a bit.

My Agatha reading may be delayed a bit over the next few weeks. The library system here weeded last month, and from the looks of the catalog, they threw out a LOT of their old Christie paperbacks that I was relying on to keep this going regularly. So I'm going to be getting a few of them via inter-library loan, which always takes longer. So there will be Christie-less weeks coming soon.