Sunday, April 03, 2016

A Sunday Review

TV this week:

  • Gotham: "Prisoners" - The title of this episode refers to both plotlines, one involving Oswald and the other involving Jim. The prison-break plot was more exciting, but the Penguin plot was much more terrifying in its implications. I liked it.
  • The Flash: "Flash Back" - Wow. The time wraith was pretty scary, and reminds me of the image of Flash as he ran himself out of existence in the Crisis. Which I'm sure is intentional. The change in history is interesting... so how did Barry's interference lead Hartley to make up with his parents, I wonder?
  • Supergirl: "World's Finest" - Hubby-Eric had us watch The Flash before watching this, because he'd heard there was something in The Flash that led into this story. Well, it wasn't immediately obvious from watching The Flash, but as soon as we got our first look at Barry in Supergirl's world, I realized it was a particular device. This was a fun episode thanks to amusing villains and a lovely team-up between superheroes of different worlds. The finale and the cliffhanger also worked nicely. Good stuff all around.

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Feb 24th
  • Aquaman #49 - Let me just get this out there right now: I absolutely despise the outfit Mera is wearing on the final page. I don't particularly care about the reasoning, but frankly, it's awful and the quicker it's dumped, the better. As for the remainder of the issue... a nice, relaxing tale of introducing Atlanteans to surfacer culture with a drumbeat of terror in the background. Not bad, but there's really very little plot.
  • Justice League #48 - Isn't this stupid storyline done yet?
  • Spider-Man 2099 #7 - Person gets superpowers, person decides she is God, person tries to get people to worship her... and all the while superheroes are trying to stop her. Meh. Not horrid, but could be better.
  • Back to the Future #5 - Ah, the history of Clara and how she came into Emmett's life. It's a pretty good little story that gives some depth to Clara. This has been a really fun book, each issue a standalone story, and most of the stories have been solid. If you like the original movies, go grab any issue and take a read.
  • Dirk Gently: A Spoon Too Short #1 - Well, it's slightly better than the first mini-series so far, which really isn't saying that much. Watch and wait, I guess.
  • Grimm Fairy Tales: Oz: No Place Like Home #1 - Um. Right. I get that I'm supposed to suspend my disbelief, but this book. Nope. Sorry.
  • Peanuts vol 2 #31 - As usual, the classic strips are better than the modern ones. I wasn't really all that interested in the first story, but the second one made me roll my eyes in amusement. Still good, just never as great.

Fortean Times #336
Fortean Times #336 (January 2016). I found the cover of this one to be gorgeous. The red background and the silhouettes are lovely. Problematic, however, is the font design, which made me try to decipher the title of the cover article as "Pacan Pastimes" repeatedly. It's pretty, but the "g" just didn't come across for me. That said, the story of the dance is another one of those cool but inexplicable things that make the world a bit better. Why are they doing it? What is the meaning? Nobody knows for sure anymore? In any case, it sounds like a fun and pretty much harmless thing that obviously can bring in tourists as well as keep folks occupied. I'd love to see it, but it's not something I would go out of my way for... and out of the way appears to be where it's at.

The second feature article is about the Kibbo Kift. I was alternately amused and horrified by the story. The organization seems ok, if a bit on the far side of wacky, but some of the connections it made seem a little less-than-helpful for the average person. Still, I've been sitting around a campfire and if anything pulls the mysticism out of you, it's roughing it for a week.

An article about Alan Garner prompted the response of "Who?" from me, which I gather is not the proper response at all, judging from the names dropped of people influenced by his books. As when the magazine covered M.R. James, it appears I have some reading to do to catch up.

The last feature is about the coco-de-mer Lodoicea maldivica which is a coconut with a rude physical appearance and fun history. The article is also about General Charles Gordon and his belief that the coco-de-mer was the forbidden fruit, and that Eden (at least what remained of it) was in the Seychelles.

Strangedays starts with a tomb time machine, odd new year traditions, micro-nations, people who hide from civilization, animal die-offs and miracles involving inanimate objects bleeding.

The Conspirasphere looks at ... wow, I'm not even sure how to describe it. A Romanian sphinx, Bilderberg and an alien stargate. One thing that the truly goofy conspiracies have in common is a complicated plotline. Ghostwatch is about spectrophiliacs, which is just what the root words imply. Murdie, the author, is practically rolling his eyes throughout the article, while still attempting to give the notion as much respect as any idea.

Archaeology goes back to where the stones in Stonehenge are from, and updates us on new theory and thought. There is also yet another ancient earthworks discovered that has a regular form from the air (concentric circles, in the Golan Heights). Classical Corner looks at Hannurabi's Law Code, which is enough to make Daesh look downright tame.

Alien Zoo looks at a mysterious monkey... maybe. And the beavers in Devon continue to thrive. Mythconceptions asks about London Bridge being sold and moved to Arizona. Fortean Follow-ups looks at a recent cattle mutilation case, fish being frozen while swimming, spontaneous human combustion and even more on yew trees.

Fairies, Folklore and Forteana examines cases of missing children being discovered far from where they vanished from, and how the paranormal is invoked in some such cases. The UFO Files starts a detailed look at the Rendlesham Forest Case. Building a Fortean Library is about the work of William James, with what is suddenly one of my favorite quotes in the world:
"A Beethoven string-quartet is truly, as some one has said, a scraping of horses' tails on cats' bowels, and may be exhaustively described in such terms; but the application of this description in no way precludes the simultaneous applicability of an entirely different description." - William James
Strange Statesmen looks at Papa Doc Duvalier, and even has a theory as to how he got to be so cruel and disgusting after having been a much-loved doctor for years: Namely a terrible heart attack after which his entire personality appeared to have changed. The piece is a great read, but disturbing.

Forum starts with an article by a teacher who uses an optional class he is allowed to hold every year to teach children about the paranormal and how to test paranormal ideas with science. A second piece is about the Ummites, an alien event/hoax in Spain in thr 1960s, and the question of whether or not the hoaxers were British.

Reviews were great as usual, with some a little more interesting than others. The opening review, of The Strange Case of Ermine de Reims: A Medieval Woman Between Demons and Saints by Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski, made me want to check it out. The story is about a woman whose nightmares are recorded by a priest, but there are overtones of abuse on an emotional level, if not worse. Truly fascinating, but wow it looks expensive. The reviews also look at the recent Star Wars movie and find the same problems as most reviewers.

The letters are fun, lots of following up from previous stories, and a good photo of a striped apple. Two letters tackle the EmDrive with theories on why it might actually work, one of which seems to me to make a lot of sense... but then, I'm not a scientist so I won't argue the point. It Happened to Me is properly frightening. Overall, another great issue of my favorite magazine.

Fortean Times Wishlist: FT1-FT24, FT40-FT163, FT194-FT211, FT219-FT222, FT229-FT238