Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Sunday Review

TV this week:

  • 10 Dollar Dinners: "Bird on a Budget" - Pity I don't like chicken, because she really sings the praises of stocking up on chicken and freezing it. Her glaze was really simple and cool, though. I almost am willing to try it here. The potato tips were interesting, and maybe I'll give those a try someday. I'm not a big slaw fan, so that may never reach our plates.
  • History Detectives: "WPA Mural Studies; George Washington Miniature; Japanese War Balloon" - I knew about the WPA, but I didn't know about the murals. I wonder how many of them remain intact, and how many I've seen? The family link was wonderful, but I wonder if the client would have recognized her aunt from that home video? I hope they let her see it. The George Washington miniature is a nice example of a museum having a treasure they didn't know about. Pretty cool! The research into the piece led all over the place. Lots of fun. The final investigation is one I've actually reviewed before when it was first aired. Still a tragic story, as the balloon bombs were considerably more successful than anyone knew, and not just because of the civilian deaths. Scary that there might be more of those bombs out there.
  • Being Human: "Episode 5" - Mitch goes back to the vampires, and Annie faces off against Owen. Nothing goes to plan for these guys, does it? Mitch clearly didn't think the world conversion idea all the way through, did he? And Annie, poor Annie. On the other hand, George seems to come into his own in this one.
  • Ghost Hunters: "I Am Not Guilty" - Uh. Ok, you know, if you listen too many times, that sound *might* begin to say "I Am Not Guilty", but I sure didn't hear it at all. It was a beautiful location, but I just wasn't terribly impressed by the ghosts. The thermal image, however, was very impressive. I do wonder what caused it. When I first saw it, I thought it was a member of the crew trying to get out of the way, but they claim no one was there. I disliked the second location, as it seemed overcrowded to me. I couldn't be comfortable in that place. I enjoyed the research bit, even if I tend to think it's just coincidence.
  • MonsterQuest: "The Real Moby Dick" - I like Destination Truth better, because of the snark and the examination of the cultures to give context to the search. But this one wasn't too bad. As a person interested in cryptozoology I'm kind of surprised I didn't start watching this sooner. The jellyfish sting was nasty. Warnings of that sort of thing aren't quite enough. It got him on the one spot he wasn't completely covered. As for the search... um, it seems silly to try to prove whale aggression. Oh well.
  • Dinner Impossible: "Amusement Park Adventure" - I told the television that Robert needed to get rid of those grocery bags quickly! Oh well, he didn't quite succeed, but he didn't fail, either. I wouldn't really want to try that food any more than I'd want to go on that roller coaster.
  • Being Human: "Episode 6" - Mitchell decides to finish it with Herrick. Wow, a lot happened in this one. I'm not sure how to respond to it. It's just a very wow-like episode. I wasn't sure going into watching this if a second series was planned, so the ending was sort of a surprise to me. Next up, we're going to watch the pilot episode.

This week's movie was The Last Unicorn. I'd never seen this before, so the whole thing was new to me. And it managed to surprise me a few times. At first I thought it was just going to be your typical early-80s animated film, but it eventually morphed into something different. There were spots where the plot sort of lost me for a bit, but overall I was pleased with how it moved along. Of special note should be Tammy Grimes, playing Molly Grue, without whom I think parts of the movie would have been unwatchable. She MADE some of those scenes work. Overall a good popcorn movie, and something to watch on a Saturday night when you're staying home.

This week's comic book related review is Hikaru No Go Volume 16. Have I mentioned that I love this series? If not... I love this series. This just continues to grow on me. Fantastic artwork, I can always recognize the characters without any problems and it's amazing how dynamic the art is for a manga about a board game! In this volume, Hikaru continues to stay away from Go and search for Sai, while Isumi goes to China before the Pro Test to study. Heartbreaking to watch Hikaru lose all interest, not just in Go, but in life. And fun to see Isumi's growth. And, as usual, the ending has me wanting more. Where does Hikaru go from here? Only seven more volumes to go!

My library book this week was Ranger's Apprentice Book Five: The Sorcerer of the North by John Flanagan. Our favorite Ranger, Will, starts another adventure in the next phase of his life as he loses the "apprentice" tag. This is definitely a set-up book, not a standalone. The ending is certainly a cliffhanger, and all the characters haven't yet gathered by the end of the book. I only wonder how many books this particular story will take to tell. And, as I've nearly caught up with the publishing rate of the future books (in the US), I may have to wait a while to find out. Still, a good quick read.

Another book I read this week was Gregor and the Code of Claw by Suzanne Collins, Book Five in the Underland Chronicles. Well, this is it. The final book in the series. And... well, it doesn't let down precisely. It just doesn't excel. There are a lot of themes that we'd already seen in the first four books, a couple of events we've been waiting for, and a slightly surprising relook at the prophecies. All-in-all, it's not bad. I wanted more, but I still enjoyed it. The ending made me wonder if there will be a follow-up series some time. Good series, fun stuff, written for 11 to 12 year olds. Nice snacks for an adult reader.

Agatha Christie this week was Sparkling Cyanide from 1945, also published as Remembered Death. A family revisits a deadly dinner party a year later. I got this one. Well, I figured out the murderer, just didn't figure out the method. And no wonder, as the method was just this side of preposterous. But I did figure out the motive, so I feel like I made a little progress with this one. If you start to think about the way the second murder was conducted, the plot starts to fall apart a little. The whole set-up was just remarkably stupid, and not needed. Ah well, it was still an enjoyable read! To my vast amusement, the first sentence of Book 2 is, "Lucilla Drake was twittering." Later on, we get this passage, referring to Lucilla: "Because there's someone there who twitters – twitters like a little bird... A little bird told me – was a saying of my youth. It's very true, Kemp – these twitterers can tell one a lot if one just lets them – twitter!" Ah Agatha, so ahead of her time!