Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Sunday Review

TV this week:

  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold: "Bold Beginnings!" - When I saw Space Ghost, I thought we'd gotten the wrong thing. I don't recall Space Ghost being in the DC Universe. The main story is a framing sequence in which Green Arrow is doing his best to prevent Aquaman from telling a story, which is hilarious. I love love love the cleanshaven version of Aquaman riding Storm. And I was very amused at how the story ended. Aquaman will NOT be denied!

  • Early B&B Aquaman

  • History Detectives: "Season 9, Episode 4 - African American Comic Book; Lindbergh-Sikorsky Fabric; Civil War Letters" - We missed the previous episode when the DVR decided not to record the whole thing, only bits and pieces. So I was glad to see this one. The letters had the expected ending, but I'd never heard of that battle, so it was informative. The fabric swatch was a fun little bit of aviation history I knew almost nothing about, although I did recognize the name Sikorsky. But the gem of this episode was the comic book, which was both a fantastic look into the Golden Age of comics and a great story of an artist who was clearly good at his craft. This was a good episode.

  • Torchwood: Miracle Day: "The New World" - Gwen and Rhys look so happy, if rightfully paranoid. And Captain Jack made his usual dramatic entrance. Interesting new character in Esther. And Rex is cool too. Definitely an introduction episode, but not a bad one for the moment. I'm going to take a "wait and see" attitude toward the rest of this series/season and mostly reserve judgement, but I didn't hate it.

My book this week was Pirates in Oz by Ruth Plumly Thompson. Eric actually read this to me in the weeks leading up to the Oz Convention. We really enjoy sharing the time together, and I get to ask stupid questions as he starts to read each night, like, "Is there a princess?" and "Are there zombie hordes?" (Yes, late in the book and No, not at all). Anyway, this adventure concerns a King who loses his people and a Pirate who loses his underlings, joining up together with a reading bird and a boy from Philadelphia to have adventures and save the land of Oz from the Nome King yet again. It was fun, short, snappily written, and had some bits that made me laugh aloud (particular Roger's method of getting Captain Salt angry). Lots of fun, and I think Eric needs to read me more Oz books.

While at the Winkie Convention, I got to meet two comic book creators I hadn't before. One was Kirk Kushin, the writer of Ozopolis, a new series about Oz. While we were at the Con, hubby-Eric and I purchased both issues of the book. I got to see a presenation on the book on Friday night, and a question and answer session on Sunday morning, so I knew some things about the book going in. But they didn't really prepare me for just how utterly Ozzy these books are. I mean, I've been married to an Oz fan for over 17 years now, so I know my Oz. And these are Oz. Very much so. There is a touch of danger, lots of fun, and the characters you know and love. Each issue also stands alone, although there is an overall storyarc that will no doubt resolve itself spectacularly in a future issue. The artwork is delightful, both covers and interior. It's faithful to the character designs I know while still having unique elements that make it fun. There is a short editorial at the end of each book, the first about Dorothy's hair color and the second about the Wizard himself. Frankly, either issue is a full package by itself, and one of the best of its type I've seen for Oz. Ever. I have literally only one complaint about these, and it's a nitpick: there are no issue numbers on the cover, only inside in the indicia. This may eventually make it difficult for people to know what issue they are getting, but probably not. So, my opinion is that Oz fans should definitely pick these up, and non-Oz fans might find them quirky and fun as well, with characters you've never seen in the movies but are awesome anyway.

Another comic book related review for this week is Hikaru No Go v22. The tournament starts, with Hikaru still offended by the Korean player. He wants to battle the player even more when the guy insults Shusaku at the opening, and puts on a fierce fight against his first opponent. This is so near the end, I'm pretty sure I'm not going to get to see Sai again. But seeing Hikaru grow up makes this worth it.

Agatha Christie this week was Passenger to Frankfurt from 1970. The youth is rising and rebelling, and the governments must deal with it. This is dreadful. The youth rebellion is sketched out in such a way that makes it utterly unbelievable, and while the whole Young Siegfried thing was a nice twist on the fears of the time, it was also remarkably silly. The ending was either brilliant and edgy, or a complete muddle of nonsense. This is the worst of Christie's books I've read so far, with maybe the exception of one or two of the Westmacott books. I think avoiding Christie's non-mysteries is probably a good thing (although her supernatural stories aren't too bad).

Fortean Times #276
Fortean Times #276 (July 2011). I'm getting behind on these again, but since I like to savor them, I guess that's ok. Interesting cover this time, with the Giants On Earth headline. The back cover ad is a nice calm "How to be a successful writer" ad, so this was an issue I could leave laying around without feeling like I ought to cover it up. The cover story is about True Giants, not Bigfoot or Abominable Snowman, but an almost human cousin that could explain all the stories of giants from folklore and history. It's an interesting theory presented by a couple of guys who know their cryptids, but I'm sure it'll be as accepted as Bigfoot by mainstream science. As always, until there is proof, there is nothing there.

Strangedays starts with tales of TV reporters suddenly not making sense. I'd heard about one of the cases, but the article points out several more, and one that I hadn't thought of that way. Interesting! The very next article is about Bin Laden conspiracies now that he's been reported dead. Much about the usual drivel and people falling prey to it. Of more interest is the first known literary time machine, from a Spanish playwright in 1887. An article about worms raining on people made me laugh for a long time over this quote: "We started hearing this wee thudding noise," from a teacher who witnessed a fall in Scotland. I've been thinking about wee thudding noises ever since.

Archaeology has short articles on the Bluestones in England, ancient giant bunnies, and human footprints left in rock. Classical Corner goes into more cases of visions and how they were reported. Ghostwatch has a couple of good stories, well, one silly story and one interesting one. Alien Zoo is about the tiny elephants of Liberia and more strange creatures in New Guinea. Konspiracy Korner is about a faked memo and a long discredited disinformation campaign that's gaining new ground among some conspiracy theorists. Mythconceptions asks if Spartans really did toss disabled babies off a cliff. UFO files aren't anything special this month, except for more about idiots shining lasers into cockpits of planes, not realizing that they are blinding pilots. Blasts From the Past delves into newspaper reports from 1866 about the appearance of a devil in front of many trustworthy witnesses. The writer of the article also discovers a couple of cases where thieves dressed as devils to terrify victims into not chasing them. Police News is about Jumbo the Elephant.

The Science section is about inventions that never made it to reality because of lack of money or lack of interest, with Tesla's inventions as a prime example. This article ties into a main article on Starlite, a material that apparently could withstand and insulate against intense heat. It was introduced in the 1990s by Maurice Ward, its inventor, and then apparently dropped off the face of the earth despite a ton of potential life-saving uses.

Another article jumps into history to find a cult of a snake, and examines why we believe so readily the single surviving report about it despite that report's writer being an unreliable witness. The existence of the cult appears to be proven by artifacts from the time, but the report of it was that it was a complete fraud. It's a fascinating look into how we perceive history through the lenses of the handful of sources we have.

The Fortean Times Random Dictionary is about Miracles, and the perception of them throughout history. There's a rather amazing passage from the Talmud quoted, which argues about whether or not miracles even should matter in the way we have faith. It's a thought-provoking piece.

I love the Forum this month, a piece of debunking some artifacts along with a really fun article about people who believe that three centuries of history were completely made up. Good reviews, as usual. One book got a 10 (out of 10): The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics by James Kakalios, who also did the excellent The Physics of Superheroes, which I have and love. Lots of good stuff in the letter column, I loved the monsters in the Simulacra Corner. It was another great issue of the most amusing and thought-provoking magazine available out there.


Anonymous said...

I guess Space Ghost and Batman have been in the same universe since Time-Warner acquired DC and Cartoon Network. It's probably no worse than Batman meeting Scooby-Doo.