Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Sunday Review

TV this week:

  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: "The Legend of Alice May" - This is almost a forgettable episode, with a standard cliche story... except, the mystery harkens back to a past one that the crew has solved, and the plot moves along the overall storyline to the show. Hrm.
  • Being Human: "Series 2, Episode 4" - Eric recorded the end of the previous episode, so we could finally see what Mitch actually did, see George and Nina talk on the phone, and see who is behind... well, everything? Amazing how much information was in that last few minutes. And moving on to this episode, Mitch may be fighting a losing battle with his efforts, but at least he's making some progress. Annie... as soon as I saw the guy in the alley I knew she shouldn't be headed that way. As for George, well suppressing the wolf isn't a smart idea, is it?
  • Battlestar Galactica: "Dirty Hands" - Baltar is causing problems from jail, starting a virtual revolution among the people who have the tough jobs in the fleet, in particular the refinery that supplies the fuel for the entire fleet. Wow. This was a good one, with a lot of undercurrents and repercussions for everyone on the fleet. Lots of stuff here to think about. The scene of Baltar "reverting" to his home accent was nicely done.
  • Battlestar Galactica: "Maelstrom" - Oh, I was not expecting that at all. I mean, really. I don't recall that Starbuck died in the original series. And certainly not with a vision of a multicolored target that had haunted her for years. The whole thing was amazing. I can hardly believe that they dared to do that. Wow. Sheesh. Now I want to see more of this series, but that was the last episode on that disc. Hurry up, Netflix!
  • History Detectives: "Hot Town Poster; Face Jug; Lost City of Gold" - I know very little about 1968 protests, so this was a serious education for me. I love that he found the creator of the poster. During this one, hubby-Eric actually paused the playback so we could talk a little about it. Moving on to the Face Jug, that is one scary looking jug. I'm kind of surprised at how rare the jugs are, but it was interesting to see three others in that collection. The origins of the jugs and their uses turned out to be much more complicated than it first looked. And the last stroy is about the Cities of Gold. At first glance that inscription sure looks fake, old, but fake. The misspellings alone would indicate that, but the testing of the rocks pretty much proved it was fake. I wonder if Marcos De Niza was a liar, or if he saw something else that we still haven't found?
  • Stephen Fry in America: "Pacific" - Finally he gets to Seattle! Well, first he spends too much time in California, and looks for Bigfoot in Oregon. But in Seattle he visits the Market and the Aquarium, along with a club that was a little unexpected. We spotted Chukar Cherries, where a family member once worked. After an all-too-brief stop in Seattle, he heads to Alaska after abandoning the cab on a Seattle pier. It's quite a change from Barrow Alaska to the Hawaiian islands, but that's the jump he makes. And I really enjoyed his trip to the observatory. Well, I went ahead and put the companion book for this series on inter-library loan. I hope to review it sometime later. But I really enjoyed the series.

This week's movie was The Chronicles of Narnia - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe from 2005. I never saw this in the theater when it came out (poor Eric went alone), but Eric bought a big old box set with four discs and showed me the extended version available on the set. While it's not one hundred percent faithful to the book, it's really really good, and an impressive adaptation with lots of fantastic visual effects (along with a handful that didn't quite work for me). I thought the kids were perfect in their roles, and Tilda Swinton made a nicely understated white queen (a part that can be really overplayed). I think Eric made me watch this just so he could watch all the extras on the box set without feeling guilty. As soon as we finished the movie, he started watching bloopers. Now, I have to be totally honest and admit that I've never really enjoyed the Narnia series. The subtext in them was freaking obvious to me when I first read them, and has always made me mildly uncomfortable with them. Perhaps if I had read them first as a child instead of a teen I might have enjoyed them more because of obliviousness. Watching this movie brought a lot of that feeling back to me, of feeling like I was being preached at... by a freaking lion. Overall, my enjoyment of the movie was tempered by that unease, something that many folks probably don't experience.

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic book shipment that arrived this week, of books originally released August 4th and 11th:
  • Brightest Day #7 - To be brutally honest, I really don't like the "White Lantern Aquaman" alternate cover. The blue-white color scheme doesn't work for me, although the details on the throne are fantastic. It's not the artwork itself, it's the coloring that puts me off. Once into the book, it's nice to see a little more of Jackson, and the flash of White that tells each of the returnees what they must do was a strange little bit. I like that it "healed" the fish and cleaned the oil from the beach. I'm getting just tiny bits of Aqua-fun, but keep 'em coming, DC!
  • JSA All-Stars #9 - I'm still not sure about the King and Cyclone thing. And, overall, I like the back-up story more than the main tale.
  • Superman: The Last Family of Krypton #1 - Ah, Elseworlds. How I've missed you! I wonder if my Elseworlds list is still up online anywhere. In this tale, the whole family of Superman survives and arrives on Earth with their technology and philosophy. A fun start.
  • Incredibles #12 - The start of a new storyline, with bits left over from the last tale. An unexpected end and a good cliffhanger.
  • Torchwood #1 - I confess, I'm not entirely sure what happened at the end of that first story. Jack says he has to destroy the human disguise, but then takes another action entirely? I'm just a little confused. The second story has a promising start, but we'll have to see how it goes.

  • Green Lantern Emerald Warriors #1 - Don't like the characters involved. Not sure I care about the mission. The book does nothing for me.
  • Birds of Prey #4 - Wait, do we know who the White Canary is yet? I'm just unsure what the whole thing is. I admit, the story draws me in, but I feel like this might be better to read all at once when the story is done.
  • Zatanna #4 - Wait, so Zatanna has a cousin? Was this in a previous issue and I simply glossed over it, like I am wont to do? Is he the same guy that showed up in Titans? I think I confused this guy with King Chimera over in JSA.
  • DMZ #56 - Wow. I feel like the story is coming to an end, or at least a conclusion of sorts, and this issue definitely helps that feeling along. Wow.
  • Northlanders #31 - I find it very hard to enjoy a book where I can't stand the protagonist, and this issue, like last one, is that kind of a book. I just can't stand this guy. Sorry.

My library book this week was No Talking by Andrew Clements. Another audiobook hubby-Eric and I listened to coming back from the Winkie Convention. The boys and the girls of Dave Packer's fifth-grade class are nicknamed "The Unshushables" because they never shut up, but when Dave's experiment in silence turns into a bet with boys against girls, the entire school is affected. This is a hilarious book. The battle is fantastic, and the consequences of the bet are humorous and intriguing. As we listened to the book, I found myself devolving into three-word sentences and silence with Eric, as the no talking became addictive. Definitely one to give loudmouth kids.

Agatha Christie this week was Adventure of the Christmas Pudding, a 1960 Collection of six short stories, only published in the UK. To my deep appreciation, inter-library loan came through with a copy of this book from The University of Dubuque, Iowa. This is probably the farthest away I've gotten a book from, so I'm gratefully to the Charles C. Myers Library for allowing their books out on loan. Now, let's get down to the stories, four of which I'd read before, one of those in a different form under a slightly different title.
  • The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding - Poirot gets to experience a traditional English Christmas while investigating a stolen ruby. I had this one figured out from the start only because of the set-up, but finding the guilty party was never the trick. It was seeing what Poirot would do to recover the gem that was the mystery, and I didn't quite figure that out ahead of time.
  • The Mystery of the Spanish Chest - This is an expanded version of The Mystery of the Baghdad Chest which I commented on here. In the intro to this collection, Christie says that Poirot thinks he was at his best in solving this case. It's a good one, with a nicely convoluted plot that works out exactly right in the end.
  • The Under Dog - I've already read and commented on this one here.
  • Four and Twenty Blackbirds - I've already read and commented on this one here.
  • The Dream - I've already read and commented on this one here.
  • Greenshaw's Folly - The last story is a Miss Marple tale about a hideously ugly house and a will. And I figured it out almost from the start. The motive was obvious, and the only hitch was a locked door. But Marple explained all that away nicely.
When I put this book on inter-library loan, I thought that I hadn't read the majority of the stories. Now that I know better, I feel a little ashamed to have put the library to so much trouble. Still, there's a bit more of Agatha to go yet, and I'm glad to have read this one in publication order.

Fortean Times #263 (July 2010). Very creepy cover with a little kid holding a donut, and apparently it's a ghost kid that haunts a theater! Oooh! But the cover story does an excellent job debunking the tale, going back to eyewitnesses and finding the root of the story. I love that kind of article, one that does the research and finds the heart of a myth. Awesome stuff, just what I want from my Fortean research.

This issue has been in my possession for months, but I waited to read it until I got #262. While there isn't a lot of continuity from issue to issue, I do prefer reading them in order. And, as I write this, the latest issue has just arrived, almost a month exactly from the last one, so maybe, just maybe, this book is back on schedule? Well, I'll believe it when I see my issues come monthly again, but I live in hope.

Right, moving on. There's an intereview with an ex-military man about his experiences with the paranormal in military. I've chatted with someone involved in the remote viewing program, and they believe it completely. The guy in the interview does too. But I just can't shake my doubt on the subject. I guess I'd have to see proof in a controlled setting, and the paranormal just doesn't lend itself to controlled settings.

I enjoyed the article about people finding Noah's Ark, again. And I love how the article ended with the note that any wooden shiplike structure on a mountain could just as easily be a votive temple dedicated to the legend of the Ark as the Ark itself. I liked the picture of the freak Golden Delicious apple, half green half red. Looks yummy. But many of the pictures in this issue were really disturbing. For imagery, this wasn't an issue for the weak of stomach.

I loved the Blast from the Past article about the sailor who apparently made up great stories for reporters. Good hunting there, and a neat reminder that journalists haven't always been good about checking their sources. The article about people disappearing and creating new lives was good. I can imagine coming up with lots of good fiction based on those real tales. The ice falls story was enough to chill me. Scary stuff to have falling from the sky. I was caught out on my bicycle in a pretty nasty hailstorm once, it's just not fun. Good story about the Rodney Street pyramid, and the short film by the kids can be seen here. I love that what is essentially an anti-gambling film is partly funded by the lottery.

This overview is too long already, but I'm skipping over a ton of great stuff. I guess I'll wrap it up by saying I haven't covered half of what I enjoyed in the issue, the reviews and letters were great as usual, and I'm really glad I have two more issues on my bedstand to read now that I've finished this one.


Tom Galloway said...

Zachary Zatara first showed up in Titans as a member during the 52 One-Year-Later-Gap. For the last year or so, he was an occasional supporting character (close to background level) in the Superman books. Basically same powers as Zatanna, except he can't affect organic matter. I think this issue may have been the first time the two have been shown together in the comics.

King Chimera, introduced in JSA by Willingham and Sturges, is the legacy/son of Golden Age character King Standish (where King was just his first name) aka The King. The King was just a master of disguise; they made up a lost civilization riff later on in his career to account for Chimera having powers.

Oddly enough, based on a "Guess the next JSA member" ad reprinted in one of the All-Star Archives, had Hawkman gotten his own book and thus been "forced" to leave the JSA for honorary status, The King would've likely been the best bet for the Flash Comics feature to get JSA membership in his place.

Bill D. said...

I kinda liked the Alice May episode. I thought it was fun that it harkened back to the Creeper episode from back in the day, and it made me laugh that Alice was drawn to look like Gwen Stacy. But the cameos like that are one of my favorite parts of the show, like when they'll draw Don Knotts or the teenage Pebbles and Bam Bam into the background of a scene.