Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Sunday Review

TV this week:

  • Doctor Who: "The Name of the Doctor" - Um. Whoa. This episode succeeded in part thanks to the supporting cast. In particular, I was very upset when (SPOILER ALERT!)(END SPOILER), and Strax was a kick in the pants. I think Strax quotes will be floating around on the internet as some of the best Doctor Who quotes for many years to come. As for that ending... well. I guess it must be the 50th anniversary. Yeah. I think that's a big clue to a big kind of story coming down the line. And we have to wait until November. It's going to be a long wait.

  • Downton Abbey: Season 1, Episode 6, UK version - Well, I knew Sybil was headed toward getting her head smashed in, I just didn't expect it to happen so quickly. Thomas and O'Brien are just nasty, but Bates' horrible secret is out. And Bates makes it clear that he's been around for two years, which means the series has taken place over two years so far! Is Daisy finally getting a clue? As for Mary, she's much more likeable in this episode than in previous ones. But I still think Matthew is an idiot if he marries her.

My library book this week was The Alpine Christmas by Mary Daheim. As Christmas draws near, body parts are found in the river, so the sheriff must figure out who the victim is and if there is any danger to the people of Alpine... all with the help of the local newspaper publisher, Emma Lord, of course! This one wasn't quite as good as the first two books, but still held my attention all the way through. Again, if it weren't for Vida and her regular info-dumps, the readers (and Emma) would often have to say, "huh?" because the cast of characters is the entire town. Anyway, the mystery gets a lower grade from me in this one while the interaction between characters was great, as usual. Now to look for the next book... I guess it's safe to say I'm going to read as much of the series as I can. Daheim is already up to "X" in the alphabet. If you want to start the series, I strongly recommend starting at the first book, The Alpine Advocate.

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Apr 17th
  • Justice League #19 - Not enough Aquaman for me, especially after the crossover. Interesting twist in the Shazam story.
  • DC Universe Presents #19 - Well, that was sort of an Aquaman appearance...
  • Green Lantern: New Guardians #19 - It's still not having much of an impact on me. Perhaps the next book will finish this nonsense crossover.
  • Batman Beyond Unlimited #15 - I hope the appearance of the Justice League in the Superman Beyond story is good news. Nice cliffhanger, at any rate. The art in the Justice League Beyond story is awful. And Batman Beyond is getting along nicely.
  • JSA Liberty Files: The Whistling Skill #5 - While I'm beginning to figure out what this book is about on its own terms, I'm still wondering what it has to do with the JSA or the DC Universe.
  • Fables #128 - I really don't like Brandish. I mean, really.
  • Doctor Who V3 #8 - The baddie didn't seem as scary in this as in the TV story. But it was still a bit frightening. Eh. Tolerable.
  • Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #4 - Fun little story, even if the solution was pretty much obvious from almost the beginning. Nice appearance of the Judoon, but I'm not sure they would be so likely to just forgive Leela at the end, there...
  • Hoax Hunters #9 - This is a flip book, one side showing the episode that the TV show aired, the other side showing what happened behind the scenes. I read the show side first and was mildly confused for a moment until I remembered what was happening. Then I was just amused.
  • Apr 24th
  • Steed and Mrs Peel #7 - Yikes. I figured the villain out and the whole thing pretty quickly, but yeah, yikes. Nicely presented. Particularly that final panel.
  • Arrow #6 - I liked the football one. Timely and poignant. Nice how it twisted expectations slightly.
  • Superman Family Adventures #12 - Oh yeah, Aquaman!
  • Peanuts V2 #8 - Some good stuff in this one.

Fortean Times #296
Fortean Times #296 (February 2013). Cover is cute in a retro sort of way, but not really my thing. The cover story itself also didn't do much for me, being about reports of sex with aliens. Some of it really kinky. All of it a bit TMI for my tastes.

Another article is about artwork by Aleister Crowley. Again, I'm not much interested in the guy... but a couple of the piece of reproduced art weren't entirely crap. Just mostly crap.

Another article talks about Victorian ghost hunting mobs, a strange sort of flashmob that developed when reports of ghosts started to get out to the public. It was an interesting variation on public entertainment. But then, when you've got nothing better to do, it probably seems fun to go hunt ghosts with a few hundred of your closest friends.

The gem of the articles in this one is a piece on Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan and fascinating character himself. In 30 years of life he had a greater impact that many writers together had over longer lifetimes. His story is heartbreaking but terribly predictable, and the article sets as many facts straight as can be set. I just can't help but wish Howard had lived a longer life and knew how many people his barbarian actually touched.

Strangedays starts with sasquatch and the Bounty, and has a photo page of edible medical goodies. There's a report of a real superhero and talking animals. There's an interesting story of a carrier pigeon's bones and final message found in a chimney that hadn't been cleaned in a long time, and how its coded message may finally be decoded.

The 2012 Watch is about locations where people tend to wait out the end of the world. This one delves into history and so is far more interesting than most of these pieces have been. The Science piece is about camel spiders and attempts to dispel some myths that have built up about the creature. Ghostwatch is about phantom monks. Alien Zoo is about cats and birds. Archaeology has a bit about an Orkney Isles Neolithic temple site recently discovered and another bit about secret symbols found on Stonehenge (using a laser-scan survey).

Classical Corner is about fame and the desire for it. The UFO Files mentions Gary McKinnon, who hacked into U.S. military servers to try to find the truth about UFOs, but instead got accused of being a spy. Fortunately for him, he no longer faces the possibility of extradition to the U.S. for his cyber-crimes. The Illustrated Police News is about the fighting ghost of Tondu.

The Forum is taken up with an article about the gloso, a church grim that takes the form of a giant pig and, according to Swedish legend, can give a person the gift of foresight if a certain ritual is performed involving it on Christmas day. The bad thing is that the gloso is fire-breathing and has giant tusks and you might get killed if it doesn't like the way you've done the ritual. Oops.

Lots of great reviews, including one of Manimal, a series I vaguely recall watching for at least of couple of the eight episodes it ran. The Reverend's Review almost makes me want to watch a horror film (no, I'm not a fan of horror in any media). The letters are great, with the usual awesome corrections and neat stories. The first-hand account of seeing the Minnesota Iceman and the story of the sealed room were particularly fascinating to me. Another good issue.