Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Sunday Review

TV this week:

  • Supergirl: "Blood Bonds" - Deeply disappointed in this one, because it makes Cat look stupid. She isn't stupid, and this was a cheat on the viewers as well as the characters. Cat should know, and she should be willing to play along once she's thought about it. I did not enjoy this episode much at all.
  • Supergirl: "Childish Things" - Oh, now this is an interesting development! Not only do we get n snfpvangvat yvax jvgu Jvaa, ohg Pnzreba Punfr! Naq gur ivrjref svaq bhg rknpgyl jul W'baa qbrfa'g jnag gb hfr uvf cbjref juvyr qrgrezvavat gung Ybeq vf whfg nf zhpu n wrex nf rirelbar rkcrpgf. V ubcr jr frr zber bs Punfr, rfcrpvnyyl vs ure cnegvphyne cbjre (sebz gur pbzvpf) pbzrf vagb cynl.
  • Supergirl: "Strange Visitor from Another Planet" - And the backstory to Mars starts to come out. Pretty scary stuff. The bit with Xnen "genafyngvat" sbe Nqnz naq Png jnf whfg cher zntvp. The rest... eh, it works. This was definitely an episode worth watching, but it's not one that stands out for me.

  • The Flash: "Potential Energy" - So everyone is trying to make Barry faster, except for Wally, who has his own issues while learning about his father for the first time. I kind of hate to admit it, but I love the Turtle. And they got the perfect guy to play him, too.

  • Legends of Tomorrow: "Pilot, Part 1" - Rory as Rip Hunter. I like it. It's a promising start to what could turn out to be a good show. I hope it does. I loved the bar scene, especially when she finally said she could use help. Overall, fun start.

  • Arrow: "Blood Debts" - More movement toward Felicity becoming Oracle? Or something else entirely? And we learn that Darhk's family isn't entirely what we thought it was, or what we might have been led to believe it was.

This week's movie was Man of Steel, the Superman reboot from 2013. I'd been hearing for awhile how bad this movie was, and kind of figured it was just fans being fans... but this was a real stinker. From the opening scenes on Krypton to the final wink and nod, it was just pure crap. Oh, don't get me wrong. The actors were certainly good, but the parts they were given were not. The effects were lovely, but the plot was so thin it almost didn't exist. The movie seemed to be one excuse to have a massive battle scene followed by another, with snooze-fests in between. It was a very long and boring 143 minutes. I hope the upcoming movie is better than this, because if it's as bad, there's no way the DC franchise of movies will survive. That said, here's what I liked... most of the casting was good. Pretty solid characters all the way through. Pity they weren't given a chance to shine. Perhaps the best moment in the entire film is Creel Juvgr fgnlvat jvgu Wraal rira gubhtu vg zrnaf gurl jvyy nyy qvr. V nyfb yvxrq gur vqrn bs Ybvf genpxvat qbja gur zlfgrel zna jub fnirq ure... ohg V'z abg ernyyl nyy gung xrra ba ure univat fhpu fhpprff be rira gur snpg gung vg gheaf uvf bevtva nebhaq pbzcyrgryl. Vs fur pna qb vg, bgure crbcyr pna, fb Pynex Xrag nf na nygre rtb vfa'g jbegu fcvg va guvf havirefr. V ungrq gur vqrn gung Fhcrezna svefg orpbzrf xabja ivn na vagretnynpgvp guerng. Fb rirelbar ba gur cynarg nffbpvngrf uvz jvgu gung naq gur rafhvat qrfgehpgvba. Naq lbh unir gb oryvrir gung gubhfnaqf be rira uhaqerqf bs gubhfnaqf bs crbcyr qvrq va gung rcvp onggyr orgjrra Fhcrezna naq Mbq. Jurgure be abg lbh oryvrir Fhcrezna fnirq gur cynarg, lbh nyfb xabj, gunaxf gb gung guerng, gung ur nyfb oebhtug gur qrfgehpgvba gb gur cynarg. Gur cflpuvp qnzntr gb gur cbchyngvba jbhyq or havzntvanoyr... whfg guvax bs ubj jr'er fgvyy qrnyvat jvgu gur gjva gbjre nggnpxf. Guvf jbhyq unir orra pbafvqrenoyl jbefr naq zber greevslvat. Vg jbhyq unir punatrq gur ragver jbeyq naq tvira iveghnyyl nyy gur fheivibef n frevbhf pnfr bs cbfg-genhzngvp fgerff. Rira gelvat gb fhfcraq zl qvforyvrs, guvf chfurf vg n ovg gbb sne. Gurer unf gb or vagreany pbafvfgrapl, naq guvf zbivr qbrfa'g ernyyl unir vg. And what was with the washed-out color? It was a hard movie to watch visually. I kept feeling like I needed to adjust my television set. Whoever did that ought to not make any more movies. That was horrid. Overall, I'm really glad we got this from the library and didn't pay to go see it. It certainly makes me less enthusiastic about seeing "Batman v. Superman". I'll probably go only to see how poorly they treat Aquaman.

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Dec 2nd
  • Green Lantern #47 - I like the haircut. The rest... eh.
  • Batman Beyond #7 - So the world is reeling and starting to recover, and what's Matt up to? I don't know that I like this universe.
  • Doctor Strange #3 - So, he's clued in to the fact that he's being hunted. Will that save him? I don't know the magical rules of the Marvel universe, so I have no idea what's going to happen in this book.
  • Mage Inc. #3 - Very good finale to what I thought was a pretty cool story, but it suffered from coming out so long after the last issue. I almost can't remember what happened before.
  • This Damned Band #5 - Finally getting to the endgame, and the real badguy is revealed. Scary stuff, kiddies.
  • Doctor Who 9th #5 - Who watches the watchmen? This is a classic case of something thinking they can take over for the Doctor without realizing just how much he actually does. At least the ending is somewhat happy?
  • Doctor Who 10th #2.3 - I'm liking Cindy as a character, and I enjoyed Cleo almost from the start. With the fellow who shows up on the final page, this can't help but be some kind of fun.
  • Doctor Who 12th #14 - I'm really not enjoying the corrupted suns story. It seems to be dragging.
  • Dec 9th
  • Earth 2 Society #7 - And... that's the end? Ok. Green Lantern is more like the Spectre here, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Overall, though, I've been disappointed in this book. Maybe it'll start telling interesting stories now?
  • DC Comics Bombshells #6 - Lots of Mera in this one, and I like her actions. Nice to see her treat Stargirl and Supergirl with such compassion. Amanda Waller calling her silly is nice... and Waller isn't? Honestly, I'm loving this book.
  • Star Trek/Green Lantern #6 - Well, I was expecting a return to the status quo, not... what we got. And it seems a little odd that Scotty's rings didn't feature at all in the solution. I suspect this has been left open for a sequel. Only time will tell.
  • Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 - Perfect team-up. Can I really say any more without spoiling it? It's just perfect. This is a very good set-up tale, and I'm looking forward to the next issue.
  • Spider-Man 2099 #4 - Yay, Captain America finally gets to show herself. But I hope Roberta isn't hurt by the process, although everything she is appears to be a lie.
  • Back to the Future #3 - Ha, George and Lorraine both seeking out Marty's help when romance seems to go sour. I love it. As for Biff, well. I'm not sure what to expect from him next.
  • Doctor Who 8th #2 - Ah, a smart companion. Of course she gets injured right off the bat... that's what companions are for, after all. This was a pretty good issue, but we still haven't figured out the central mystery of this companion from the first issue: how did she know about all those aliens?
  • Doctor Who 11th #2.3 - This one seems like a lot of irrelevant stuff, showing us bits of history of each of our companions, including Daak. I think I'd be happier to just get on with the story, now.
  • Rebels #9 - I think this is a done-in-one tale about friendship and the death of it. Nicely written. I liked that the Shawnee, who has seen much more than the British, has his head on straight. Pity he'll never get through the Brit's conditioning.
  • Legend of Oz: The Wicked West #3 - I'm enjoying this, even if it is the second time around. I never expected a wild west version of Oz to be good, but it really does work. And I'm also liking the back-up story, which is giving us an idea of the witches of Oz and what may have caused their... problems.
  • Spongebob Comics #51 - I saw the ending to the game creator signing story coming from a mile away, but it was awesome anyway. And seeing Squidward actually enjoy time with Patrick and SpongeBob was also pretty cool. Overall, not a bad issue despite the lack of Mermaid Man.
  • Dec 16th
  • Justice League #46 - Still no Aquaman. Still a boring story about new gods, which I never really liked anyway. Wake me up when this thing is over.
  • Justice League United #16 - This appears to be a summary of what's happened so far, with a wrap-up. So I'm guessing this might be the final issue? The art is bizarre and somewhat unsuited for the story.
  • Batman '66 #30 - Is this it for the Batman? Has he really had his final adventure? Will we never see him and his chum, Robin, again in the pages of his comic book? Have I been reading too much of this?
  • Teen Titans Go #13 - Aqualad's life is about more than just swimming around, talking to fishes. Well, I would think. But the first story in this issue really does bring back some of those uncomfortable questions about how Atlanteans do... certain things. Second story was irritating. I like my teeth, so dentists are fine, thank you much.
  • Tales of Honor: Bred to Kill #4 - And that wraps up quite nicely. This mini was far better from the first because it was allowed to be a comic book, straying from the original words of the original author. I wouldn't mind seeing a few more like this, exploring other bits of the Honorverse.
  • Huck #2 - That was definitely NOT what I expected to happen. But then, Huck may not be obviously bright, but he's consistent. He just wants to help. Yes, I'm enjoying this series.

Fortean Times #330
Fortean Times #330 (August 2015). Nice shocking cover, pun intended. The layout is eye-catching, so that's good. The cover story itself is ok, all about people who've been struck by lightning. Apparently there are some positives... if you survive. Which is not to say I'm going to head out and get hit by lightning just to find out if the stories are true. The editorial shakily points out two deaths from lightning strikes that happened just before the issue went to print. Yikes.

Another main story is about Yew trees, and was, as usual, more fascinating then I expected it to be. The life-cycle of a yew is interesting, and it kind of makes me want to have one... which would require more land than I've got. Add in that they are poisonous, and maybe I'll just add them to my dream garden instead. But there's a lot of fun stuff in this one about a tree I knew very little about, including interesting sidebars to the main article.

Another article tells the sad story of Stephen Phillips, a promising poet in a time when you could actually make a living as a poet, who moved into a haunted house and pretty much lost everything.

The final main article is about preserving Fortean collections as people in the field age and pass away. Sometimes the families of those who collect Forteana aren't at all interested in the collections and simply toss them. But they clearly had value to the ones who collected them, and might be valuable to other researchers. It turns out a Swedish organization is working on the problem and has started to collect and preserve people's libraries. I heartily approve.

As an aside to that last article, a new feature called "Building a Fortean Library" premiers in this issue. It talks about what to look for as you build a private library, including a starting recommendation of an encyclopedia of Fortean topics. This could be a very fun feature, or it could turn out to be something that would have gone just as nicely on the always excellent reviews pages. Only time will tell.

Strangedays starts out with giant 'blood' falls in Antarctica and gates to hell (a sinkhole filled with flame). That's as good a start as any! There's pieces on clever dogs and a UFO sighting over Nigeria, horrible diets and hippos wandering city streets after a flood destroyed the zoo. There's another round-up of the world's oldest people and some follow-ups of previous stories. Science is about alchemical resurrection, and what the folks might have actually been seeing. Archaeology has a variety of stories that are awesome, because I've always loved the topic. Classical Corner covers everyday advice from the ancients while Ghostwatch visits Las Vegas.

There's a very cool piece on an exhibition of artwork from Richard Dadd, done while he was an inmate in Bedlam. Freaky beautiful works by a man who killed his own father in an apparent schizophrenic fit. Fairies, Folklore and Forteana tells of a collector of tales who saved stories of pixies from vanishing, and was an interesting person in her own right. Forum has a piece on the disappearance of a statue that became a religious fight in Ireland. There's also a piece on hobs and their origin and disappearance.

The UFO Files looks at the danger posed by fans of science fiction who develop cult-like behaviors. Fandom... fanatic? There's also a couple of stories of timeslips. Blasts from the Past continues a look at Phantom Anaesthetists... are they urban legend or something else entirely? Strange Statesmen looks an Idi Amin and what may have driven the insane stories surrounding his time as dictator. The conclusion is that there was far more to the tales than what Westerners may see on the surface. What if open talk is so dangerous that using metaphor and folklore is the only way to express discontent?

On to the reviews! Nothing jumps out as something I want to purchase, although both the dragon and the conspiracy books sound interesting enough that I'd read 'em if they came my way. There's a review by an eight year old, which I think is new. Not quite as excellently written as the standard, but not bad at all. Then there's a nearly incomprehensible review by Barry Baldwin (Classical Corner) that I'm still not certain about. But overall, another excellent review section. And I'm actually slightly more interested in seeing Ant-Man after reading the FT review of it. The letters were solid, although one of them might have been better published in the forum, as it took two entire pages. In the end, another good issue of the best magazine published.