Sunday, May 31, 2015

A Sunday Review

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Apr 29th
  • Multiversity #2 - Ok. Well. The Earth-11 Aquawoman kicking butt was nice, but overall, this was a disjointed mess of a story that made little sense without multiple re-readings. Oh, it's fun, but it's not really a good read except for the joy of seeing so many alternate heroes. Overall, the whole series, I'd say it was average. It had potential, but it kind of just fizzled.
  • Justice League #40 - This isn't really a book about the Justice League, it's a prologue to the next big DC Universe event. As such, I find it minorly annoying. At least it has a funny variant cover.
  • Convergence #4 - Ooh, so we finally get Brainiac? Yay.
  • Convergence: Justice Society of America #1 - That's an intense JSA there. This is a sad book about aging, but then the super-heroes jump forth and... one last time.
  • Convergence: Shazam #1 - Ah, so much fun for the Marvel family. Not much else to say about this one, except I'm looking forward to seeing them battle the Gaslight team.
  • Convergence: World's Finest Comics #1 - Scribbly is one of my favorite comic book characters, for all he represents and all he doesn't represent. This is a pretty good tribute to him.
  • Hoax Hunters 2015 #2 - Ah, so we finally get to see the other side. Does this mean the team will eventually be reunited?
  • Grimm Fairy Tales: Oz: Reign of the Witch Queen #1 - Well, the nice summary made some of what happened before make actual sense. It doesn't make a ton of sense, but more than it did to me before. I'm afraid this book just doesn't really grab me.

Hubby and I watched two movies this past week. One was Meredith Willson's The Music Man from 2003, starring Matthew Broderick in the title role and Kristin Chenoweth as the librarian. Overall, a very satisfying version. Chenoweth is amusing and amazing throughout and Broderick is born to play lovable rogues. Taken as its own movie and not in comparison to previous versions, this is a decent little flick. Of course, there seems to be a lot of hate out there for Broderick, so if you don't like his acting, then you'll probably want to avoid this. Personally, I've enjoyed him in most roles I've seen him in, so take that as a warning.

The other movie was Divergent, based on the book by Veronica Roth. I have read the book, and in fact have a few serious issues with how the series ends, although the series is actually pretty satisfying (if depressing) on the whole. The movie condenses the book nicely while keeping the key plot points, and in some cases even explains them better than the books did (which is really odd when I think about it). In short, this is a pretty good adaptation of a problematic book. I think I'm looking forward to seeing the next one, but I am really tired of young adult dystopias. Is society really so screwed up that the only way to imagine a good story is to imagine a major disaster that tears it all down?

Fortean Times #327
Fortean Times #327 (May 2015). I really like the "northern light" ghosts on the cover of this issue, although I feel like the design itself is missing something. The story it's based on is good, with the "vardøger" being something I've actually experienced a couple of times with my husband. Since he's of Norwegian descent, maybe it's just something the Norse do? If you are wondering, it's when you are home and you hear familiar steps come to the door, the door opens and you hear a person doing what they always do when they come home, like take off their shoes or hang up keys or something. But if you check, nobody is there at all. A few minutes later, the person arrives and does EXACTLY what you heard a few minutes earlier. It hasn't happened often to me, but I have experienced it with my husband. I put it off to my imagination... I mean, I'm wishing so hard that he's home that I just imagine him coming home. But the article makes it seem like it's much more widespread and common than I'd ever thought. I'd never thought of it as paranormal, but then I've never been with other people when it happens, and that is what propels it over the edge of imagination. It happens when groups of people are together and they all hear it. Slightly freaky when I think about it, but not scary... just perplexing.

Another main article in this issue is about "the most haunted house in England" which supposedly was a jail for a bit before it became a home. The woman who bought it in 2005 has had trouble renting it out... or rather, trouble keeping renters once they've lived in it for a bit. So she decided to "rent" it out to paranormal investigators to try to figure out what's wrong with it. Lots of interesting stories around the place, a bit of woo about the house choosing its owner, but not a bad article.

The third of four main articles is about early radio in English and the problem of "oscillation". Since radios people had in their homes were not simply receivers, they also broadcast as people tried to tune into a station, there was a common problem with heterodyning... causing interference on a station as you tuned to it. And humans being what they are, some people took advantage of the problem to intentionally interfere with broadcasts. Now, I don't understand the issue well enough to explain it, but I found the article to be both hilarious and informative about a problem I never knew existed. It's almost enough to make me want to take up radio as a hobby to figure it all out.

The final article is about strange rains, like fish and frogs and killer smogs. It's a good summary of strange rainfall throughout recorded history with a major emphasis on modern cases. The article is an extract from a book about rain by Cynthia Barnett, and ends with a reminder about how important the health of animals, particularly frogs, is in telling how healthy the planet is.

Going to the regular features, Strangedays has the usual line-up, starting with stories of people who hoard the dead bodies of their loved ones. There's also a section of follow-ups, which I always enjoy. The Conspirasphere presents an argument that Putin is a double, since the real Putin died during his recent 10-day disappearance. There's also an excellent photo of what looks like a skeleton in mud in the Thames, but was actually metal pipes and old rope. Science has more information on how electricity is being used to heal, with a grim reminder about electroshock therapy. Archaeology reports on a long-lasting embrace, Mongolian structures, a sunset that rolls down a hill and a misinterpreted DNA study. Classical Corner looks at ancient electioneering tricks.

Ghostwatch examines an apparently debunked case of a ghost channeled by a psychic, asking if what she did really was either a fraud or subconscious cues. I'm not really convinced either way. Alien Zoo looks at a recent online campaign that apparently showed dodos caught on a trail-cam in Costa Rica. The video attracted a lot of attention, as did the follow-up, which showed it was a conservation campaign. Fairies, Folklore and Forteana is about hurlers. Just go read it. The UFO files continues its look into the strange UFO sighting, part three of I don't know how many.

The Forum has three pieces. The first is about a sailor who drowned in 1850. After his death, it was discovered he was a woman. The article asks some questions about women dressing and living as men, and lists a couple of other examples before wondering how many cases there were that we don't even know about.

The second article is about Dresden and a survivor who went on to live a very long life marked by pain and tragedy. It's a good story, one I kind of feel honored to get to read.

The last article is about OOPARTS (Out of Place Artefacts), particularly metal that should not have been possible to make in the distant past that nevertheless exists despite being "impossible" for our ancestors to have made with the skills and tools they had. There happen to be a lot of them mentioned in the article, so many that the author wonders if we just have a huge gap in our understanding of the past, rather than these things being rare and strange.

The reviews are fun, as always, starting with a book about Bilderberg and another asking if dolphins are really as smart as we think they are. There's an absolutely bewildering review of a book that's apparently a companion to a spoof tv show along with a brutal review of a book on Christianity's origins and another brutal take-down of a book about Heaven's Gate. Nothing really jumped out enough to go on the wishlist this month. The letters were also good, with one even including an extensive bibliography. All-in-all, another solid issue of the best magazine in the world.