Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Sunday Review

TV this week:

  • History Detectives: "Lauste Film Clip, Baker's Gold, Transatlantic Cable" - The early film clips they show are incredible, as are the machine shops she visits. Finding out that the collection that guy had was as significant as he thought was very neat. The Gold Rush story had a few good bits, and again an amazing outcome for the owner of the artifact. I found the transatlantic story fascinating. I don't think I ever realized just how much telegraph cable was laid in the Atlantic. I was surprised that they were able to figure out it was authentic, but even more surprised that they even figured out what line it belonged to!
  • Dinner Impossible: "Spring Training Tangle" - This one is just cruel. Having good ingredients for the Major League, and crappy for the minor league is bad enough, but that twist with the equipment and the three strikes is just insane. Worse that George is the one who got both strikes.
  • Battlestar Galactica: "Unfinished Business" - We watched the extended version on the DVD, and it was a LONG episode. Lots of flashbacks to New Caprica. Starbuck again becomes a more fascinating character. Her choices are strange but I sometimes think it all makes a sort of sense. She cannot settle, but if she is she's going to settle with someone who doesn't remind her of what she lost. I feel very sorry for Dee. She deserves so much better.
  • Battlestar Galactica: "The Passage" - The fleet must go through a highly radioactive area to get food. In the meantime, a Cylon is having revelations. A low key episode in many ways, but it has a lot going on, much more than I would expect. And another character passes on, but in a wonderful evocative episode.

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic book shipment that arrived this week, of books originally released June 23rd and 30th:
  • Beasts of Burden Hardcover - There's a possibility you've already read these. You can read a handful online, and you might have gotten the series. One of the stories is a little more difficult to get your hands on, as it's only in a larger collection. But in any case, this is definitely worth the price of the book, even if you haven't read them before. The story is about a group of dogs (and one cat) that keep running into the supernatural in their homes on Burden Hill. Lovely artwork and thrilling stories make this a MUST-BUY for just about anyone. Seriously, if you have the chance, get this.
  • Green Lantern Corps #49 - Do not like the alpha-lanterns. Don't much like the lanterns anyway, but really don't like the alpha-lanterns.
  • Power Girl #13 - I was expecting to hate this book with the new creative team. After all, nothing is quite like Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti on a book. To my surprise, I actually enjoyed it. I don't love it like I loved the previous 12 issues, but I enjoyed it. The big problem is that if you didn't know what Max Lord was up to, you might not completely understand what happened in this issue. But then, Power Girl is closely wrapped in DCU continuity, so that's to be expected.
  • Zatanna #2 - I like her style in this book, but it's the supporting cast that will make or break this book. So far, so good.
  • Astro City #1 New Printing - Way back when, a clerk at a comic shop showed me "the best use of wind and movement marks to disguise nudity" that she'd ever seen. Had I known that book was going to become one of my favorites, I would have bought that first issue. But I passed, and over the years was able to collect every issue *except* the first one. Which I now have in reprint form.
  • Tick New Series #4 - I'm really not a big Tick fan. I mean, I'll read it, and chuckle along with the jokes, but it's not a book I seek out. But then there are issues like this one, that poke fun at every water-based hero in every comic book universe. As an Aquaman fan, I can't resist and can't help but enjoy it.
  • Powers #5 - Walker's depression is horrible to watch, but Heather has the right idea. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like she's going to get away, does it? Lots of stuff happened in this issue, but it's really difficult to write about any of it without spoilers. I like this book, but it's not something that lends itself to my kind of light reviewing.
  • Incredibles #10 - So wait, is the entire family running around completely ignorant of each other's adventures?
  • Doctor Who Ongoing #12 - So, Turlough's diary is fake? Interesting manipulation of Matthew.

  • Green Lantern #55 - Lobo. Why'd it have to be Lobo? Eh, good enough story in the middle, but it's the little story at the end that tells why there's a Red Lantern cat that makes this issue worth checking out.
  • Justice Society of America #40 - Is JSA really late, or is JLA way ahead of schedule? I ask this because the events in this issue apparently take place right before JLA #44, and the current issue of JLA is... #46. So, what the heck, DC? Fix your scheduling! Well, I wonder if all the events in JSA #41 will have already been discussed and fixed two issues ago in JLA. Ug.
  • Justice League of America #46 - And, speaking of poorly timed books. I can't tell if I should wait for the JSA books to catch up if this is supposed to be a crossover. Although this issue says to check with the next issue of JSA, which is printed as #41, for the next part, so maybe it's going ok now. But if DC intended this odd schedule... well, I'm not impressed. Besides, this book needs more Aquaman.
  • Action Comics #890 - Got this because of the writer. I may keep getting it just because it was surprisingly good. Lex is dealing with the aftermath of being an Orange Lantern, searching for meaning with his good friend Lois by his side. With the recent revelation of who else is going to appear in this book, I'm actually looking forward to it.
  • Batman Beyond #1 - Enjoyed the TV series, and the comic based on that, so we had to get the start of the character in the DCU proper. Terry is definitely overworked in this, but I hope we can see more of the Justice League anyway. There's an Aqua-character in there.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold #18 - Martian Manhunter and Doctor Fate. Good stuff in this one, but I wonder if it'll go above the heads of some younger readers? Still, love the letter column and the Aquaman picture someone drew.
  • Northlanders #29 - I like when they hit Iceland. But the rest is pretty depressing. What a big world it is.
  • Royal Historian of Oz #1 - The description of the Official Oz Society cracks me up to the point of evil giggles. I'm sure there are many Oz fans who might find that parts of this book hit a little too close to home. But it appears to be both all in good fun, and done with a care for the real Oz history that takes the sting off. I think I'm going to enjoy this one.
  • Usagi Yojimbo #129 - I love Usagi's response to the challenge. I love the way he proved his point. Very good stuff here, as usual. I always save this book for last because I know that I will always enjoy it, and I want to end on a good note.

This week's movie was October Sky. A group of four boys are inspired by Sputnik to learn how to launch rockets. It's a little unsettling to see the dangerous experiments the kids manage to do without any adult supervision, but then, those were more innocent times in a lot of ways. The story is powerful and compelling, and ought to be shown in schools more. The idea that a group of kids can learn how to launch rockets through experimentation and hands-on work is wonderful. I was far more interested in what happened to the people after the events of the movie, and some searches led me to gather that the information at the end of the movie wasn't exactly true, but wasn't too far off, either. I love the fact that the title is an anagram of the original title, "Rocket Boys". That just makes it even cooler.

My library book this week was Indian Legends of the Pacific Northwest by Ella E Clark, 50th Anniversary Edition. This book was originally printed in 1953, and is a collection of native tales gathered from multiple sources around the Northwest. The edition I checked out is a 2003 reissue. The tales are loosely organized into five sections, tales of the mountains, tales of the lakes, tales of rivers and waterways, myths of creation, and a final section for anything that didn't fit in the first four. The tales come from native nations who originally inhabited Washington, Oregon, and Northern California. There's an introduction to the book itself, then each section has an introduction. Most tales have a very short paragraph saying where the story was collected, by whom and from whom, and the dates it was told. There are a lot of people who were in their 70s and 80s in 1953 quoted. Some of the stories are very similar, but the editor seems to have made a number of choices to keep within her themes while still being true to her subject. The story intros will sometimes give alternate actions that happen in the tales. The book has an extensive bibliography, a glossary, and an index. And there is surprisingly little editorializing about the stories, although what there is grates. Definitely a good book to pick up for a general sense of native legends in this area. Fascinating reading.

Agatha Christie this week was Ordeal By Innocence from 1958. A man's alibi arrives two years too late, but reopens the murder case to the distress of the family involved. I admit I couldn't figure out Dr Calgary at all in the beginning. How could he have not realized the significance of his act upon the family? But I suppose I'll buy his ignorance for the sake of the story. The atmosphere was nicely built up, and while I had a good sense of who really did it, I was completely shaken by a red herring and the reveal of another fact of the case, and in the end guessed completely wrong because I kept second-guessing myself. Which I always do with Christie's books, and I always love every minute of it, so I suppose I should stop complaining.