Sunday, April 03, 2011

A Sunday Review

My library book this week was Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. The second book in the Hunger Games series, Katniss must deal with the events from the first book, which have left her confused and heartbroken. I'm trying not to give spoilers, which is hard, because this book builds so carefully on the first book. The writing style is so engaging, first-person present tense, that you feel yourself there in the action. The only thing "wrong" with the story is how long it takes Katniss to see the obvious in front of her. She's a kid, but a remarkably self-centered one for being such a responsible teen. So it's frustrating as a reader to know what could happen if she was more aware of the world around her. Looking forward to the final book.

This week's comic book related review is Hikaru No Go Vol 21. The qualifiers for the international tournament are decided with a surprise extension of play, and Hikaru is offended when a Korean player insults Shusaku. This is mostly more set up for the tournament, and ends with the team arriving at the hotel. I'm treasuring every last issue now, as we're far too close to the end. And yet I'm really curious to see how the series finishes, something you don't get with American (superhero) comics at all.

TV this week:
  • Being Human (US): "I See Your True Colors... And That's Why I Hate You" - Sally tries to let her old friend know about Danny, Josh must confront his family, and Aidan screws up. Another good episode, going in a very different direction than the UK series. I like the changes.
  • Being Human (US): "Children Shouldn't Play with Undead Things" - From the title I should have figured out what storyline would be in this one. I wonder if it's going to finish the same as the UK version? Completely new ghost storyline that has promise. And the lovelife of a wolf storyline is similar. Good ep.
  • Who Do You Think You Are?: "Steve Buscemi" - This episode focuses on an ancestor who had some issues. It's not every day that you find out that your great-great-grandfather was a suicidal dentist, thug, war deserter, and bigamist. But then, not everyone has such interesting relations.
  • Who Do You Think You Are?: "Gwyneth Paltrow" - This was a bit scattered, with multiple ancestors being hunted down. She goes to Barbados to find one, hunts through the census and death certificates for others, and then to a synagogue to find rabbis in her ancestry. I enjoyed it a little less for the scatterness, but there seemed to be more in it because of the multiple ancestors she hunted down.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold: "The Battle of the Super-Heroes!" - I loved the pre-opening teaser with King Tut Pharoah. The main segment was with Superman, and I guess I've been spoiled by the other animated Superman series, because it really didn't do much for me. Oh, it was cute and clever and all that, but in the end I wished for the Lois who swam with the sharks with Aquaman.
I've decided to try to catch up on some of the ghost shows that I have recorded in the last few months. So, I had my own little marathon while hubby-Eric was off in Oz. Here's my thoughts written as the marathon progressed:
  • Ghost Lab: "Afterlife Sentence" - Aired Nov 20th 2010. This one has a visit to the West Virginia State Penitentiary followed by a private residence in Ohio. I like how they brought along a former guard to talk with one of the inmates. She seemed to get a response as well. The second investigation didn't prove much, but revealed some issues that needed to be solved at the home, so that's good.
  • Ghost Lab: "Theme Park of Death" - Aired Nov 27th 2010. This one visits the Lake Shawnee Fun Park and a private home, both in West Virginia. A couple of tragic deaths at a Fun Park have led to hauntings, and the team goes hunting for dead children. Of course, the fun park was built on a Shawnee burial ground. It's like an episode of Scooby-Doo. The private home has been abandoned for ten years after ghosts drove the family out. Witnesses were members of the family that lived in the house, and a sketch artist drew images of the ghosts based on the sightings. A little research revealed them to be family. The "no more fussin'" EVP was kind of cool.
  • Ghost Lab: "Eternal Home" - Aired Dec 4th 2010. The team goes to The Shanley Hotel in New York and then to Arkansas to visit The Poet's Loft. The story of the hotel was interesting. The EVP was fairly cool, and I like that they brought in a voice expert to try to determine what the voice was. The second place had a good set up, with a fun ghost who clearly wants to be helpful for the most part. Though there might be older and more menacing ghosts there, too. Both places had once been bordellos.
  • Ghost Lab: "The Morgue" - Aired Dec 11th 2010. We start at a home in Arkansas, then move to the Harrisburg State Hospital in Pennsylvania. The home is set in the middle of nowhere, and children are being terrified by ghosts. The only clue as to why is that the land is along the Trail of Tears. In the end, they were able to calm the children and reassure the family. Next up was a huge hospital with a long history. They caught a lot names on EVPs, even the name of a former employee, but they weren't able to figure out why.
  • Ghost Lab: "The Innocent" - Aired Dec 18th 2010. This has two investigations, one at the Soldiers National Museum in Pennsylvania, then to another museum in New York, the Iron Island Museum. The first museum was once an orphanage with a mysterious headmistress who abused the children. The team's findings suggested unhappy child ghosts still being held prisoner. The second place was a church/funeral home before it became a museum. It seemed to be haunted by a man and possibly by the son of the museum director. It was heartbreaking to watch her read a letter to her dead son, trying to bring him out.
  • Ghost Lab: "No Escape" - Aired Dec 25th 2010. They visit Montana and Tennessee in this episode, starting at the Montana State Prison then going to the Old South Pittsburg Hospital. The Montana State Prison is a very nice looking building that's now a museum, with some creepy stories from the staff. In fact, they started having experiences during an interview with a staff member, which doesn't seem to happen much in *any* ghost hunting show. I like how they recreated a prison riot in the hopes of bringing out more action. Lots of action in that place. The hospital they visit next had a good set up, and a frightening EVP. Now, if only I really believed in EVPs. Part of me wants to, but I have a hard time with them.
  • Ghost Lab: "Path of a Killer" - Aired Dec 31st 2010. This episode investigates the Villisca Axe Murder House in Iowa and Million Dollar Lane (bowling alley) in North Dakota. The Villisca murders were never solved, and now something seems to be haunting the house, so the team tries to figure out what happened and what's happening. Spooky EVP, but none of it proves anything. Next up is a bowling alley, and it seems like a fun visit. I figured they would play a game, very much their style.
  • Ghost Lab: "Behind Stone Walls" - Aired Jan 8th. The team goes to Missouri to check out The Pythian Castle, then visits the Hundley House in Illinois. Cool castle. Interesting history they uncover, as well. I like how they left the clients happy with their haunting. The Hundley House had some great sounds, but I'm not sure what to make of it. It's so easy to fake such things, but the owner seemed ok with it.
  • Ghost Lab: "Chambers of Horror" - Aired Jan 15th. This episode starts in a literary fashion at The Chambers of Edgar Allan Poe in Kansas City, Missouri. The second segment visits the Great Lakes Shipwreck Coast Museum in Michigan. I was interested in the first place, a haunted house based on Poe's writing. It's a remarkably silly location, though it apparently gets more real after dark. Haunting a haunted house takes some doing. The Shipwreck Museum was much more interesting a place. The stories of the wrecks were heartbreaking, and the trip to the Myron was an interesting aside for this show. Again, I wonder who is bankrolling these guys.
  • Ghost Lab: "Deadwood" - Aired Jan 22nd. The finale of the season (and the show?) is in Deadwood, South Dakota at the Fairmont Hotel and the Wild Bill Bar. I've seen this location on TV before. It's a wonderfully creepy awesome place. The last words they got were rather impressive, even if you don't really believe in EVPs. I got the distinct impression that this was the final episode from the voiceover at the end. That's ok, I've got plenty of other shows to watch.
  • Ghost Hunters International: "Hamlet's Castle" - Aired Jan 05. Visit to Kronborg Castle in Helsingør, Denmark. What an awesome location! I love seeing the setup for the places, and this is one place that I'd love to visit someday. Watching this so soon after Ghost Lab, I find that there are advanatages to the instant review style of Ghost Lab over the "do everything then review" style of Ghost Hunters.
  • Ghost Hunters International: "Ghosts of the Eastern Bloc" - Aired Jan 12. They start at the Pidhirtsi Castle in the Ukraine, then go to the Reszel Castle in Poland. Pidhirtsi has some great ghost stories with it, including a murdered wife, Nazi occupation, and a TB hospital. Not much found there, to the relief of the clients, who wanted to be sure it was safe to open a tourist trap there. The Reszel Castle has a lovely history like most castles, including a horrible tale of "the last witch of Poland". I was totally unimpressed by them getting all excited by a straw in a glass of ice moving, but Barry's dance when he thought a bug was crawling up his leg was great. Fortunately, they figured out that ice caused the straw to move. A fun episode.
  • Ghost Hunters International: "Unfaithful Spirit" - Aired Jan 19. This one is all about Fürsteneck Castle in Germany. More wife abuse in this one, with an unfaithful wife bricked up for her crimes. Lots of sightings and horror in the castle. One of the ghost hunters learned the hard way that you don't invite spirits to take your energy, except later he invited them to take energy again. The crew was jumping throughout the episode, when they weren't nearly fainting. Blinking lights, and disembodied voices, but not much else.
  • Destination Truth: "Live From Ireland - The Search for the Banshee Ghost" - Aired March 17th. The event took place at Duckett's Grove Castle in Ireland. I liked the opening how Josh went through the set up and introduced his whole team, and still managed to get a little snark in. The location looks beautiful, and it's clear that restoration work was being done well before they mentioned it. Why doesn't it surprise me that Barry is the one member of the team who really doesn't want to hear the Banshee? I loved how, at one point, the members found a bridge over a ditch, and they were told not to go down in there. When they asked why, one of them said, "they're going to commercial", then it went to a commercial. Heh. Sending Jael up that tower was cruel, but I do wonder if what she was hearing was just the wind on the staircase there. A fun start to this part of the season, but I'm glad I didn't watch it live.

Fortean Times #270
Fortean Times #270 (February 2011). A wonderful Christmas themed cover of the Three Wise Men being led by a flying saucer. The cover story is about religious accounts that are very Fortean, including Ezekiel's wheels, Zechariah's scroll, and Vishnu's flying chariots as specific examples. The article of course mentions Chariots of the Gods, and the stir that caused in the popular imagination when it was published. I found the sidebar that asked what the Wise Men really saw to be a fascinating look at how we study our own past.

Strangedays has the usual round of up fun stories and images. The bear that does a "yoga workout" every morning was fun. The short article on the Catholic Church in the US looking for more exorcists was intriguing. The Bogus Social Workers article reminds me of the clown scare. There's a bit about more bits of John the Baptist found and being revered as relics. Another article is about letters and postcards that arrived very late at their destinations. There's a bit about a ladder that unexpectedly moved at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. There's also a great picture of a rock on Mars that vaguely resembles a gorilla.

The Science section covered the "missile launch" that was widely observed on the 8th of November. Ghostwatch is about the ghosts of women who were executed. Archaeology showed us an ancient smurf in Peru along with ancient tattoos on a mummy. The UFO Files discusses military sources for UFO sightings.

An article about UnConvention 2010 has a fairly unflattering picture of Paul Cornell, Doctor Who and Marvel comics writer. Another article discusses the high rate of conversion to fundamental Christianity by undergraduates at high pressure British Universities. There is also an article covering the 41st MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) Conference in Denver. The second part of a UFO contact story started in the previous issue continues the argument about what UFOs are, and what contactees are actually experiencing.

The Forum starts off with a love-letter to "A Christmas Carol". A second article covers the curse of Tecumseh on US Presidents. The third article is about Temporal Lobe Epilepsy and how it can possibly explain just about any Fortean experience, without stretching it too much. The Reviews were good, as usual, but didn't prompt me to hunt anything down, although the perfect 10 given to the UK DVD release of Night of the Demon was interesting. A wonderful review of the "Journey Through The Afterlife: Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead" exhibit at the British Museum makes me wish I could hop on a plane and check it out. Another strong issue of the best magazine available.