Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Sunday Review

My book this week was McGooster & McGyman Begin Their Adventures by Pat Rochkind (Author) and Patricia A. Wozniak (Illustrator). Having my nephew visit for a week was interesting, and I tried to give him reading material and such, but I was surprised when he returned the favor by loaning me this book to read. He knew I like cats, and this is definitely a book for cat lovers. The title characters are two kitten brothers who are moving into their first home and have to learn what it's like to be house cats. They have a series of experiences and misadventures, make new friends, and even throw a wild party. While it's a chapter book in many ways, the large format makes it kid-friendly, and there are enough illustrations to break up the text and amuse the eye. The copy loaned to me was well-worn and has clearly been read repeatedly. This would be a fantastic read-aloud book, especially if the family has cats. I'd love to see the next adventure of these two great characters.

This week's comic book related review is Hikaru No Go v23. Ok, yeah, I cried. It's the last volume of an excellent series, what do you expect? I got the chills, too, at the final words of the main story. What a series! I tried to pick up Go while I was reading it, but it is a difficult game for someone on her own to figure out. Someday, maybe. But in the meantime, what a fantastic series. All about growing up and so different from so many other comics. This series is HIGHLY recommended by me to anyone who wants to read a good comic, one in which characters learn and change, and one that does eventually end.

Haunted Collector - Another show I decided to try, with a lot of trepidation. This one amused me a LOT, as the guy who is the focus of the show thinks that hauntings are generally caused by items and so his goal is to find the item in the house that is haunted and remove it, putting it in his own haunted museum. If the activity doesn't stop, the item is returned. So here's the episodes:
  • "Haunted Bayou/Library Ghost" - I was absolutely delighted when the crew started the investigation during the day, including getting a nifty EVP. You don't always have to wander around in the dark. The first case is a rental house that can't keep renters because of the hauntings, and they find a gun buried in the crawl space and remove it. The second case is a library that is so haunted that the kids who use the building are scared. I love when they go into the basement and the guy tells his daughter, who is creeped out, "You've dated things creepier than this basement!" They eventually remove a typewriter, which seems to calm the problem. (Addendum: The gun was returned to the people in the first case, according to several online sources, but I don't know if any of the problems in the house were resolved).
  • "My Mother's Ghost/Paranormal Predator" - The first case is a mother who thinks her child is being haunted, possibly by her own recently deceased mother. They eventually remove the deceased's prized music box. No result for this case is reported in the show. The next one also has a child being scared, but there are a TON of items in the place, so they eventually remove an antique cane gun and three shark jaws. The reports of the hauntings decreased.
  • "Burning Spirits/Ghosts of the West" - First case was a New Mexico alehouse with different kinds of spirits (yeah, they make that joke). They locate an old detonator for explosives and remove it. The second case is a hotel in the "Wild West" that scares people so much they are losing customers. The stories are fantastic, as ghost stories often are. They can't find anything to remove, as the most likely culprits might be bullets lodged in the ceiling.
  • "The Sanitarium/Firehouse Phantom" - The first case is a rental house that once was a sanitarium. They find a broken poison bottle in a crawl space, which they remove. As is normal, we don't get a follow-up on the results for the first case. The second case is a museum that used to be a firehouse and is having stuff move on its own, including an old firetruck that took off down a street without a driver. They find a mourning brooch which they remove from the building and apparently calms the activity.
  • "Uncivil Spirit/Revolutionary Ghost" - The first case is the story of a house that seems to date back to the Civil War, where a bullet was found that apparently caused a haunting. They remove some Civil War items found in the back yard. The second story involved a young man living on the site of a Revolutionary massacre who was being tormented. Eventually they determined that he was the trigger item for the hauntings and suggested he move. He did, and the hauntings stopped.
  • "Slaughterhouse Ghosts/Supernatural Sword" - First case is a haunting of horses. A woman lives in an old barn that has been converted to a house, but had tons of stuff left over from the barn days. Horses were being scratched in the night. After learning the place was a slaughterhouse, they remove a skinning knife. The second case is a man who has driven away his family after being scratched and injured, to the point of blacking out. He's got some strange items in the house, including a hearse. They eventually find a Salem Cross painted on a floor under a carpet, and take some swords he has collected. No follow-up to say what happened in this case.
Conclusion: The ghost hunting itself is either not very rigorous, or we aren't seeing enough of it due to editing. There is not enough debunking (although we do see some). I've been spoiled by Ghost Hunters. In addition, the removal of "haunted" items seems rather questionable. I had to look online to find out that he gives the items back immediately if requested or if taking the item doesn't help, and that he attempts to "exorcise" them while he has them. That should be stated clearly in the show, because it seems strange that he's got this huge basement museum of supposedly haunted items, some of which seem to be somewhat valuable. The worst problem is the lack of follow-up for the initial case in each episode. It would help a lot if there was information about what actually happens in the future.

Fortean Times #277
Fortean Times #277 (August 2011). I like the cover, except for the big "Alien Invasion" headline, which makes it look a little tacky. The cover article is about the concept of life throughout the universe, called panspermia. The article is written by an advocate of the idea who at times seems to be trying to convince the reader by repetition of facts. It's not a bad theory, but the article could have used a little help.

Strangedays starts off with magic in politics and robbery (same thing?) and moves to some neat photos of lucky escapes. The usual selection of the weird and wild includes a poor couple whose honeymoon took them to Munich just in time for a blizzard, Bali just in time for a monsoon, Perth just in time for wildfires, Queensland for a cyclone, Brisbane for flooding, Christchurch for th earthquake, Japan for another earthquake, and finally found peace in China. Whew. There's also a handy list of failed doomsday predictions.

The Science section is about cold fusion, and the research that continues to be done on the subject. Alien Zoo talks about Russian Kiwis and re-created Yeti artifacts. Ghostwatch is about ape and pre-human ghosts. Archaeology has a bit on Hawass and his difficulties after the government troubles in Egypt. Classical Corner is about 18th century slang. Mythconceptions tells the tale of Camembert cheese. Konspiracy Korner is so far out there I'm not sure what it was about (birthers? Muslims? Tuning forks?). The UFO Files has a reasonable UFO sighting by a young man who came up with a reasonable explanation for it. Police News has a story about an unsolved murder from 1896.

One of the main articles is about Hermetics and their influence on Western civilization, starting with the story of Galileo and why a solar-centric view might have been extremely dangerous to the Catholic Church because of Hermetic texts, which contradict Catholic traditions. It's a compelling article, almost enough to make me seek out the texts to see what the fuss is about. Another article is about the Cosmati pavement in Westminster Abbey, which is an interesting story but didn't really give me more than a strange impression of art.

The Forum has a remarkably stupid article about the Old Man of the Mountain of New Hampshire. Another Forum article is about Kate Bush. A third talks about Jack Kirby, and the influences on him while helping to create the X-Men. The reviews are solid, as usual. Nothing that has to be on my wish list, but a few good items. I love the letters. Another good issue, with a cliffhanger ending in the cartoon, even.