Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Sunday Review

TV this week:

  • Ghost Hunters International: "Silver Shadow" - Argentina to Australia in one episode! Eden Hotel in La Falda, Argentina is the first place, and it has some good stories with it. I like the guide, Rose. Deep Thought: When people see a figure that turns a corner and vanishes, why do they always think GHOST! and not NINJA!? Lots of sounds, and a couple of strange experiences. As usual, nothing convincing. Next up is the Monte Cristo Homestead in Junee, Australia. I love the stories. Sometimes I think I only ever watch these shows to hear the great stories people tell of what they've experienced. Again, nothing much more than EVPs, which I don't take as proof, and other sounds.
  • Heroes: "Close to You" - Not sure what to think. More Hiro and Matt is good, though. That finale seems to be pulling all the plot threads together.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold: "The Golden Age of Justice" - Hubby-Eric was very excited about this one, because of the JSA appearance. I was amused by the pre-credits sequence with Detective Chimp.
  • Robin Hood: "The Enemy of My Enemy" - Coming up on the end of the series, as Guy and Robin join forces to hunt down their brother. The writing is working well to keep the surprises going and to get everything twisted and confused. I don't blame Little John's reaction, and I knew there would have to be a moment when Guy rescued him later on. Looking forward to the last two episodes.
  • Numb3rs: "Arm in Arms" - Those are some really nasty guns. Both as weapons and in the way they backfire. Lots of math thoughts in this one. Otto's reaction to the dead was a nice touch. Overall another good episode of a great show.
I've been watching a lot of Animal Planet lately, just to have background noise while I'm working. One show that caught my attention is The Haunted, which features true ghost stories that involve animals. And I say "true" in the sense that the people involved believe that they experienced something supernatural. I've been enjoying the goofy and dramatic way the show is presented, usually without any evidence that could be considered significant enough to support the tales. But it's chillingly good stories. Looked at as an anthology of ghost stories it's not a bad show.

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic book shipment that arrived this week, of books originally released Dec 16th, 23rd, 30th and Jan 6th (whew!):
  • Green Lantern Corps #43 - Natu and Guy mourn Kyle in their own ways. Heh. Yeah, that pretty much sums up the entire issue. Heh.
  • Justice League of America #40 - Psychological examination of the Detroit League, courtesy the Black Lanterns. At least it had some Aquaman.
  • Power Girl #7 - Amusing. Power Girl is ... courted... by an alien dude with a big ego. Amusing.
  • Tiny Titans #23 - Robin has animal problems. I love the recurring Aqua-Ohs as the breakfast cereal of the sidekicks. It makes me happy every time I see it.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold #12 - The stakes couldn't be higher than this one. Christmas disasters almost read like the new Doctor Who's Christmas adventures.
  • PS238 #42 - More on Captain Clarinet and his origins as the son of SupermAtlas. Good stuff as usual. Want more, as usual.
  • Doctor Who #6 - On the one hand, it would have been nice to get this before the final episodes aired in 2009, but on the other hand, there are some unexpected developments here.
  • Marvelous Land of Oz #2 - Ah, the translation scene, one of my favorites in all the books. Jellia has some nerve here. Poor Tip, left behind in the dust.

  • Green Lantern #49 - Ok... interesting... John Stewart's dead are examined, then we get back into the main storyline with Mera! I love how Mera compares life within the ring to coral. This bit with Mera, Atom, and Black Lantern Jean is very talky, but it explains quite a bit of what this whole thing is about. In fact, you get the whole reason superheroes come back from the dead right here in these pages.
  • Blackest Night: JSA #1 - At least we got a little bit of Ma Hunkel. I like to think she'd react a little better to a zombie, but hey. Can't have everything.
  • Justice Society of America #34 - I wish I knew a little more JSA history. Ok, I like this side of the team, and I'm enjoying the humorous aspect of this book. And I know that Mordru has some major significance, but I'm not sure what it is. Maybe next month will tell, or maybe I'll look it up online before the next issue arrives.
  • Powers #2 - Flashback to Christian's past. I always like seeing more of what he was before he became a detective.
  • Northlanders #23 - Ships arrive, possibly offering help in a brutal winter. But this book is pure brutality. Wow. Not expecting that to happen.
  • Usagi Yojimbo #125 - Oh, Usagi. Way too trusting. He untangled a nasty situation, only to get more trouble heaped on his head. I do love this book.
  • Beasts of Burden #4 - The Beasts of Burden Hill fight off a horrible *something* in a graveyard. Ooooh, I'm liking this series. More please! Nice to get this so quickly after reading the last issue. Not something I'm used to anymore.

  • Blackest Night #6 - Despite the appearance of Mera, this was not worth having my comics delayed over. But then... Mera's change in this one was surprising and yet true to her character (especially the mini-series where she left Aquaman). I wanted to see more of that Mera/Wonder Woman fight... good thing Mera is a guest in the next book I'm reviewing.

  • Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #2 - Wonder Woman versus Mera for the match of the day! Not a bad appearance, and certainly makes it clear that Mera is a strong character who ought to be used more.
  • JSA All Stars #2 - Um. Ok. Let's see... I like that the AI plays on common AI themes to be silly. I've always been intrigued by Johnny Sorrow. And the back up story is a nice touch, particularly that opening. But I'm still not sure what's going on at all.

My library book this week was How Beautiful The Ordinary edited by Michael Cart. This is an anthology of twelve stories about sexual identity involving teens. And I've got severely mixed feelings about it. My conservative side is screaming that the depictions of sex are too blatant for teenagers, while the side of me that recognizes reality points out that kids know about sex already. And anything that will lead teens to a better understanding of themselves and others is probably a good thing. Let's tackle the stories one by one, and see what my screaming conservative side feels:
  • A Word From The Nearly Distant Past by David Levithan - the shades of those persecuted for being gay haunt the current generation. This is a striking way to examine how much life has changed for the better for kids who realize they are gay. Very powerful little story.
  • Happily Ever After by Eric Shanower (comic book format) - two gay teens find a genie in a bottle and split a wish. Both funny and sad, and yet filled with a strange optimism.
  • My Life As A Dog by Ron Koertge - a boy's life as a dog is easier than being a gay teen. Slightly confusing at first, but as the comparison becomes more obvious the horror of the situation is more powerful.
  • Trev by Jacqueline Woodson - a little girl realizes that she's not, and makes the world deal with it. I was a bit taken aback by this one, recognizing a little of me in Trev. Altogether an interesting story.
  • My Virtual World by Francesca Lia Block - girl meets boy online, and boy turns out to originally have been a girl. A simple love story. Nicely done.
  • A Dark Red Love Knot by Margo Lanagan - The Highwayman is reimagined with a different motive for the ostler than love for the landlord's daughter. This is the first story that my conservative side screamed loudly about, as the ostler and a soldier share a moment.
  • Fingernail by William Sleator - a Thai man meets a foreigner who inspires him to greater things. Sleator is a part of my childhood, and this story... well, it wasn't exactly what I was expecting from him. But it was good. My conservative side was very disturbed by the casual sex.
  • Dyke March by Ariel Schrag (comic book format) - a young woman attends a march for lesbians. Not impressed. But then, I was never impressed by that sort of scene (and I mean the kind where people get together and drink a lot and act stupid - not the protest march part).
  • The Missing Person by Jennifer Finney Boylan - a boy becomes a girl in her own mind. Another strong story that my conservative side didn't object to at all. After the last three, conservative me breathed a sigh of relief.
  • First Time by Julie Anne Peters - two teenage girls do "it" for the first time. Conservative me just had an aneurysm and collapsed after I read this. Good to get rid of her for a bit.
  • Dear Lang by Emma Donoghue - a lesbian writes to the child she and her partner started to raise together, before they broke up and she was never allowed to see the child again. Heartbreaking story. I mean, it just hurt to read the genuine pain.
  • The Silk Road Runs Through Tupperneck, N.H. by Gregory Maguire - a novella about a college fling. This story is told with a mix of flashback and "twenty years later". Again, the casual sex disturbs me, but it disturbs my conservative side in heterosexual stories as well, so I'm not sure why I'm complaining.
Overall, again, I've got mixed feelings about this. I'm trying to tell myself that it's no worse than a ton of books I read as a teenager (Anne McCaffery's books spring to mind as having quite a bit of sex, and I read those in middle school). For some reason there's a voice inside me that is terribly disturbed by the amount of sex in this book. And that's strange, when I adored the love stories and found the little girl who insisted she was a boy to be wonderful moments. To be completely honest, I guess I've never been comfortable with any depiction of casual sex in literature (and I've read a LOT as an English grad) and because this book is entirely about sexual identity, it just makes me uncomfortable in general. I tried to visualize myself reading this as a teen, and couldn't. It just wasn't the same time. Those ghosts that the first story talks about were still walking around, although it was changing. And I was a very different person, who would've believed, wrongly, that homosexuality was a choice. I don't know for sure if this book could have changed my mind. Would I let teens read it? Well, I wouldn't stop them. But I'd want to be there to talk with them about it if they had questions.

On another note, while reading this anthology, I've also been following the Trial of Prop 8 in California. Prop 8 is the California hate law that prevents homosexual marriage and relied on repeated lies and scare-mongering to pass. The trial was originally going to be recorded and broadcast live to YouTube and other courtrooms, but the supporters of Prop 8 didn't want anyone to see them, and begged the courts to prevent the airing of the trial. The courts gave in, mostly due to a historical disdain for open courts rather than on the strength of the Prop 8 supporters fear of retribution. (Yeah, when Prop 8 supporters have been beaten and murdered brutally then I'll feel pity for them. Until then, they are just cowards lacking the courage of their convictions.) But because of their faux fear, I've had to follow the trial via The Prop 8 Trial Tracker and Firedoglake. In any case, one of the testimonies, on Day 5, hit me pretty hard. The transcript of Helen Zia's testimony is here. If you read her testimony on both sites, you might see why I felt it so strongly.

Agatha Christie this week was A Daughter's a Daughter from 1952, written as Mary Westmacott. Yup, it's another one of the Westmacott Christies. Not a mystery, but a depressing slice of life book. This one is about a woman who gets happily engaged when her daughter is on a vacation to France, and what happens when the daughter returns to find a stranger about to move in with the family. It's depressing. Very very well written, but sad. The characters, however, do learn from their mistakes. And there's a great character named "Laura", so that's a bonus for me. This book also hearkens back to Absent in the Spring when one character (Laura, in fact) talks about how much better everyone would be if they spent some time alone in a desert learning about themselves. Another strange aspect of this story: I wouldn't be at all surprised if someone told me it was originally intended to be a play. The room descriptions sounded like scene-setting, the action happened almost entirely in dialogue, and there are a limited number of characters and places. When reading it, at times I felt like I was reading a play. Not a criticism, just something I noticed. While I would avoid the first couple of Westmacott books, the others so far have been not bad. I'm actually looking forward to the last one.


Jonathan L. Miller said...

Mordru is a classic Legion villain who got retconned in the '80s into being a Lord of Chaos (as opposed to Doctor Fate as Lord of Order). He wound up being used as the major villain in the first story-arc of the revived JSA in the late '90s.