Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Sunday Review

This week's comic book related review is Hikaru No Go Volume 20. Only a few more volumes to go. Hikaru is in the running for a multi-country tournament, and a new character is introduced to challenge him on the style side of things. As usual, the end of the book is a cliffhanger where you aren't entirely sure who has won a game. All you know for sure is that either one deserves to go on to the tournament. As usual, I want the next volume now!

This week's movie was Batman: Under the Red Hood, another direct to DVD animated Batman movie. And, like every other one I've seen, very well done and worthy of checking out. Yay for Netflix! This story is about the biggest failure of Batman's career, Jason Todd. I don't know how closely it aligns to the comic book adventures on the same subject, but it certainly hung together as an excellent movie story. The reveal of the reason for Jason's torment was particularly strong. I wasn't fond of the voice for the Joker in this one, although it was an adequate performance for the role. And I loved Nightwing's commentary as the story moved along. One particularly lovely moment was when Ra's experienced Batman's disappearing act. I enjoyed it, and we also enjoyed the other extras, mostly on upcoming projects, on the disc. Definitely worth a Netflix if you like the superhero genre.

My library book this week was Going Bovine by Libba Bray. Cameron has Creutzfeldt-Jacob, "mad cow" disease. He's going to die. But first, he has a couple of things to do. Not sure why I picked this up, it must have been recommended on a website I read. But it turned out to be a very strange and pretty interesting read. It has somewhat adult themes, with NSFW language and typical teenage misbehavior that the innocent will find offensive and everyone else will shrug at. Most readers will figure out fairly quickly what must be happening, but it's worth continuing on, even if you know the conclusion, because you really don't. I won't say it's the best book I've read, but it certainly was worth the time it took to read it. Again, not for the innocent, but thought-provoking nonetheless.

TV this week:
  • Ghost Hunters International: "Demons of Nicaragua" - Another double-shot, starting in Masaya, Nicaragua and the Coyotepe Fortress. The episode started off with a visit to the family of one of the hunters, and a beautiful party thrown for the group. Brief but it was a sweet moment. The Coyotepe Fortress wasn't nearly as pleasant. The tales were of torture when the fortress was in use, and satanic rituals after it was abandoned. The boy scouts currently using the place had come up with some stories, and GHI thought they found something there. Moving on to a torture chamber in Leon, Nicaragua, Carcel XXI, which was a prison and is now a museum since 2000. The crew even talked with a man who was a prisoner in the place, was tortured there, and went back to be a museum guard and heard the voices of friends who had died there. I'm not too excited by what they found, particularly the orb, but it was an interesting place anyway.
  • Ghost Hunters International: "Pirates of the Caribbean" - And now they are off to Omoa, Honduras and the Fortaleza de San Fernando. A zipline tour of the jungle to start the adventure, and I totally agree with Barry and his fear of heights. It was a massively cool ride but I'm not sure I would survive it. The location is a fortress on the edge of the Caribbean that has a long history including pirates and prisoners. The courtyard is beautiful, and the whole fort looks like one of those gorgeous old places that would be swarming with tourists. The stories of the place were incredible and I love how the people giving their personal tales end with something like "I decided to walk away as fast as I could." I'm not sure the evidence presented would have done anything to convince me there were ghosts, but it was a series of interesting sounds. Not the most exciting finish to a series, but then these are ghosts, the reason they aren't scientific is because they don't perform on demand.

  • Ghost Hunters: "Haunted Hotel" - The team is going to Cooperstown! They are off to the Otesaga Hotel in New York. It's a big place, a resort, and they get to stay overnight. Oooh. Seriously, though, it's a really nice looking location. I'd like to visit, haunted or not. The experiences were strange and interesting, but still not compelling. I wonder if anything they ever produce would be compelling enough for me to believe it? And while they thought that voice was saying "Amy", I thought it was saying "Mommy". I did like that the hotel gave the Ghost Hunters the run of the entire place without any other guests. Too many of these investigations involve too much outside sounds. In any case, they didn't find anything that would scare me away from staying there if I ever get out there with enough cash to do it.
  • Ghost Hunters: "America's First Zoo" - The team is visiting the Philadelphia Zoo, which just seemed insanely difficult to me. Animals make sounds, and the team relies on sounds. But the zoo appears to be a little bit more than your average zoo, and it's mostly the administration buildings that have the ghosties. The location was spread out enough that they didn't have enough cable to reach everywhere they wanted to cover. They immediately started to have interesting experiences, but so many of them were mundane. Knocks, bumps, footsteps, doors closing... I can't help but think most of those can be explained away entirely too easily to be considered paranormal. So, fun place, a dearth of animal sightings (no ghost animals?), and nothing special.
  • Ghost Hunters: "Uninvited Guests" - Another two location episode, starting at the 1875 Inn in Tilton, NH. It has a story of major fires and a little girl named Laura who perished. Nothing spectacular in this one, but potential for debunking. The place looks like a funky little location, not a bad place to visit. But a dining room haunted by a gargoyle? All they found were voices, and I just don't take EVPs as enough evidence. Next they go to Oxford, NJ and the Shippen Manor. Another old building, now a museum, with cool claims. I like the look of this place better, a nice stone building in the woods. Stories include ghosts, slamming doors, rushes of wind that attack people. Mostly claims that would be hard to debunk. During the start of their investigation, I noticed that Jay and Grant believe that objects can contain residual energy ("be haunted") which makes a museum a place where all kinds of things could happen. The people I really respect in these investigations are the camera and sound crew. Having to follow these folks around tiny hallways and steep stairwells... fun. Again, nothing groundbreaking found here, but it looks like a fun museum to visit.

  • Destination Truth: "Spirits of Angkor Wat/Canadian Lake Monster" - Oh man, Angkor Wat! That was cool. They should NOT have had the folks do that ceremony to ward off evil spirits, though. Doing a search for ghosts in an area with unfamiliar wildlife seems pretty difficult. They came up with some fun EVPs, and the thermal image was strange, but without experiencing the place myself I'm not really convinced. Loved their offering, though. Moving back to Canada, the group goes to hunt down Ogopogo in Okanagan Lake in British Columbia, not very far from my neck of the woods. In fact, pretty darn close. I don't recall having visited Kelowna but I may have sometime in the past. I've spent a decent amount of time in Canada. Anyway, diving in a frigid lake in the winter isn't something I would be inclined to do but hey, it's Destination Truth, so they do it! As usual, they came up with nothing definite, and only offered the sturgeon answer as a possible candidate, rightly pointing out that no sturgeon has ever been caught in Okanagan Lake. And so, the mystery continues.

  • Being Human: "Series 2, Episode 6" - I loved the broken psychic. He was honest even when it seemed almost wrong to be honest. I can tell that George is wrong for Sam, and Sam is wrong for George, but the daughter is cute. Mitchell's decision and hopes are heartbreaking. And that was quite a finale to the thing.
  • Being Human: "Series 2, Episode 7" - Complications as Nina returns to the house! And we learn who survived the explosion in the last episode, but unfortunately they learn who was behind it. George not figuring out daylight saving time seemed unlikely, but made for a very dramatic moment. And that last bit, when Mitchell learned Lucy's last name... ouch.

  • The Muppet Show: "Season 3 DVD Set" - We're more than halfway through, but there are two guest stars I want to mention simply because their appearances were, in my opinion, the two absolute best episodes ever. One was Helen Reddy, who is one of my favorite singers and whose final number with the camel never fails to give me a smile and happiness. The other is Harry Belafonte whose "Banana Boat Song" skit with Fozzie taught me what the song meant as a kid. And the line from Beauregard, "I always thought these was peachies!" has kept me giggling for over 30 years. But the highlight is "Turn The World Around" with those incredible African mask muppets. I remember as a child being stunned that even the final note from Zoot was done by an African mask instead of Zoot. I have not regretted a moment of having these DVDs, and really want Season 4 & 5 (and yeah, Muppets Tonight) to come out on DVD as well. But frankly, having Helen and Harry is enough if I never get the rest.

  • Battlestar Galactica: "The Road Less Traveled" - Kara is looking utterly nutcase in this one. I'm not surprised at the result her insanity brings. And Baltar comes off as something other than slimy for once. I can't help but feel for Tyrol, although this apparent alliance with Baltar sends chills up my spine.
  • Battlestar Galactica: "Faith" - Ok, I really really wasn't expecting the mutiny to resolve that way. Really. That was just about the last thing I was expecting, to be honest. And the cancer bit with Roslin was breathtaking. I used to swim with a woman who had cancer, and I remember the awesome hats and scarves she would bring in, and how that was made into a way to deal with everything. So, what exactly is going to happen when the team sent with Kara to find Earth shows up with a freaking Battlestar in tow?

  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold: "The Siege of Starro! Part One" - Not enough Aquaman. No, really. I liked seeing Aqualad and Aquaman in the crowd, but I'm not a big fan of B'wana Beast, Firestorm, Captain Marvel, or Booster Gold, so the appeal of that particular team-up was limited. Still, nice to see how B'wana Beast was affected by Vixen being controlled. And clever of Firestorm to figure out how Captain Marvel could stop the main menace.

Fortean Times #265 (September 2010). The cover shows off the capitol in DC with UFOs over it and the headline, "Weapons of Mass Deception, Washing, 1952: How the CIA Created the Flying Saucer Craze" Big talk, and another implication of a conspiracy in the CIA. In the editorial, Paul Cornell is announced as a guest at UnConvention 2010, which for the first time I wish I could get to. The usual suspects make up StrangeDays, including a 70-year-old radio that seems to play period music, crop circle pictures, bodies in hotel mattresses, insane collections, and falls of fish. Ghostwatch talks about ghost photography. The Necrolog is a long article on the great Martin Gardner, whose interests parallel those of both myself and my husband, and who will be missed.

Blasts from the Past talks about a volcano that isn't, and why it came to be reported as one. The Fortean Bureau of Investigation covers the Dark Star theory of Planet X, which is intriguing but doesn't seem to have much by way of evidence to support it. There's a fascinating article on the quest 200 years ago to prove that meteors came from outer space. Articles in the Forum cover holy feathers, telepathy between dogs and their owners, and monsters. The Reviews are rich with books, movies, and games and are as strong as usual. Nothing got really poor reviews this month. And the letter column was great as usual as well. And as usual I've left out tons of stuff that this magazine it bursting with in order to keep this down to only a couple of paragraphs. Still the best magazine around.