Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Sunday Review

Well, with the con two weekends ago, the blogger updates I felt I needed to make last weekend, and being actually on this road right now, this is a stress-filled Sunday Review. I'll mention that, since the Olympics, we've gotten Netflix back again after a LONG hiatus due to financial woes, so my Battlestar Galactica reviews will start up where I left off watching them almost a year ago.

TV this week:

  • Battlestar Galactica: "Resurrection Ship: Part 1" - I only vaguely remember the original Battlestar storyline involving the Pegasus, so except for the apparance of the ship in the last episode, I didn't know what was going to happen in this storyline. I don't think it's even close to the same, anyway. Cain is nasty, and I'm not sure what to make of Starbuck's promotion and apparent willingness to devote herself to Cain. Ah, it's good to have Netflix back again!

  • Dinner Impossible: "Boxed In: Terminal Trouble" - Robert has to put together a dinner at a shipyard, but all the ingredients are in boxcars strewn across the place, and he has no real kitchen. He managed the job nicely, despite some setbacks and annoyances. As usual. Good fun.
  • Dinner Impossible: "Dorm Food Doom" - Robert must make a fancy dinner for college students using only food found in their dorms. Without the frats, this mission would have been a complete bust. The "food" he found in the regular dorms was barely even edible for the most part, and certainly not something to make a meal out of. The food found in the fraternity houses saved him. The faulty fryer was an adventure, and I like how the repairman was put to work once it was clear he couldn't leave for the duration.
  • Dinner Impossible: "Ironman Obstacles" - Three different kitchens, each with the theme of one of the parts of the Ironman. I didn't think he'd have much trouble with this one, except for the on-site ovens. He always has trouble with the on-site ovens, and this event was no exception. When will they learn that they have to provide Robert with back-up on-site kitchen equipment?
  • Dinner Impossible: "Destroyer Disaster" - The Captain ordered 5 dishes, so Robert tried to overdo it like usual. I knew that would bite him on this particular mission, just because of the way the Captain presented it. This one was a disaster from start to finish. I was very surprised when they finished the first mission successfully. He didn't succeed on the second mission thanks to the "blue" requirement. But I would still love to have tried some of those dishes.

  • Numb3rs: "Growin' Up" - A really depressing story about a really sick man and four of his victims, who were children when he hurt them, but grew up into something else entirely. Very, very depressing. The subplots helped pull the whole thing up, and they didn't dwell too intensely on the bad, but it worked.
  • Numb3rs: "Cause + Effect" - If this is the final episode, I can accept it. I won't love it, but I can definitely accept this as the end of the series with the successful way they tied up everything and yet set up the future. Wow. To have the final episode follow Don's stolen gun also worked as a plot point, highlighting the failures of the justice system.

  • Who Do You Think You Are?: "Emmitt Smith" - I really wish he could have tracked more of his family. It was a little disturbing to see the history of his family laid out like that, all the brutality. While he may have found what he was looking for, I just kept thinking "I wish..." during the episode.
  • Who Do You Think You Are?: "Lisa Kudrow" - Wow, Lisa found a big story back there. It was wonderful that the guy was still alive and she was able to talk with both him and a woman who had known her great-grandmother and was witness to the atrocity. With the Salem Witch trials in the first episode, slavery and rape in the second, and Nazi atrocities in this one, I wonder what the next will bring?

  • MonsterQuest - This series is apparently over, with the last episode airing on the 24th. It was a series plagued by poor science and over-opinionated experts, but it attempted to keep an open mind and give people the benefit of the doubt. I enjoyed it for what it was, but wasn't overly impressed by it. I'm not sure if I care that it's been cancelled. It would be nice if there was a show on the air that covered cryptozoology well, but MonsterQuest wasn't it. But it was a good start.

  • Ghost Hunters: "Alcatraz Live Event" - Hate the format. I don't mind Josh at all, in his snarky glory, but the live events are not my cuppa, and the folks always look so uncomfortable sitting around a set. Fortunately, the investigation itself was recorded. I've found the live Hallowe'en events to be mostly unwatchable. Ghost hunting is a really boring thing in real time (which is one reason I would never make it as a ghost hunter, I'd fall asleep). I do like Josh's comments on how Steve and Tango should take their act on the road and just do comedy. That's why they do the Academy show, I'm sure. To get more of Steve and Tango on TV. Their Willy Wonka dicussion during the investigation was simply marvelous, and the follow-up during the live discussion was amusing (and slightly mean). I wasn't convinced by the evidence, but it was pretty cool. I liked their cake.
  • Ghost Hunters: "Fort Ticonderoga" - No Grant? This location is in upstate New York, an old fort that has multiple hauntings from the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War. Neat historical place. The bright flash was definitely cool, particularly that it was seen by others. I really want to come up with other explanations for everything seen.
  • Ghost Hunters: "Shamrock Spirits" - First location is Paddy Reilly's Pub in New York City. I was amused that they were greeted by a song. Haunted by Gene Hackman... who isn't dead... and a spirit who rides an exercise bike. They did some good debunking in this one. The second location was Harriet Beecher Stowe's house in Hartford, Connecticut. No Jay on this one. The stories are strong, involving multiple deaths in the house and even seances held at the place. They did a little debunking, particularly the beard thing. The empty house sound wasn't at all impressive, although her idea that it was checkers was a neat one. Houses make really bizarre sounds. Every house I've been in is noisy, particularly at night.
  • Ghost Hunters: "Phantoms of Jersey" - The first location is the Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City, New Jersey. YAY! Another lighthouse! More height for Steve to be scared of. And they got a good storm to add to the atmosphere. Not much discovered there, but it was a neat place for an investigation. The second location is the Stephen Crane House in Asbury Park, New Jersey. I'm not sure what to think about that place. Not as much history, the stories aren't that good. Nothing really impressive there.

  • Destination Truth: "Ghosts of Masada; The Leprechaun" - Man I love that image in the opening of the waterfall that goes upward due to the wind. Ahem. Happy to see this show and Josh's snarky sense of humor again. The snark in the tourist area of Jerusalem was great (Last Supper dinner placemats?). The stop for a dip in the Dead Sea to the Monkees Theme Song was absolutely wonderful. Their first location, Masada, was just incredible to me. The location is fantastic visually. As usual, I really really wish they gave us more daytime imagery of the location. They never go around the locations enough in the daylight. But the stuff they caught, particularly the strange figure on the wall, were interesting. Now, the figure was seen with the FLIR camera, so I'm not convinced it wasn't some sort of artefacting, but it was cool. I want to see more of it and in frame-by-frame detail. The drums, and the fact that it could have been anyone in the desert, was neat to hear. Can you imagine being completely alone in the desert and hearing drums? The second location was in Ireland to hunt for Leprechauns. The idea is that it's an unknown or misidentified animal, since sightings continue to happen. Definitely a job for cryptozoology. And they did some very strange investigating. The journey underground, in which Rider nearly was killed by a flood when her light gave out, was a bit scary. They found bones of chickens and sheep, and cows triggered their motion sensors. And apparently spent a lot of research time in a pub. Right.
  • Destination Truth: "Ghosts of the Great Wall; Israeli Mermaid" - Visiting the Great Wall, the "Wild Wall" part, is a bit of a coup for the team. I liked the cameraman's happiness at filming in the Forbidden City. The strange foods in the Beijing market were a neat bit of Joshsnark. When they actually reach the section of the wall they have to do a bunch of climbing (which made for a literal cliff-hanger when Rider slips). I can see why people are hurt and killed up there. It looks like just a genuinely dangerous place. Josh mentions that the wall looks improbable in that place, and the short of the wall clinging to the ridges was great. I appreciated the look into the old guardhouses, since I've seen many pictures and video of the Wall, but never a guardhouse before. Rex following a ghost over a wall and nearly down a sheer drop was exciting... and another literal cliff-hanger. The second location is a lovely cryptozoological story, chasing a mermaid with a $1 million bounty on her head. They get to use their diving abilities on this one. They didn't find a mermaid, but they apparently found something big and unusual. Pity they couldn't get better footage, but a two-day investigation is never enough.

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic book shipment that arrived this week, of books originally released March 3rd, 10th and 17th:
  • JSA All-Stars #4 - Poor Stargirl. And why would anyone trust Johnny Sorrow?
  • Justice League: Cry For Justice #7 - Ug. Why did I bother? I really didn't like this mini, and this ending in particular (the unnecessary death of a minor character irritated rather than upset me, due to the poor way it was presented). Just not good.
  • Incredibles #6 - I hate mind control stories. So freakin' confusing.
  • Astro City: The Dark Age Book Four #2 - And... everything starts to pull together into one coherant plot again. Wow. Really interested in seeing how this one ends!
  • Demo Vol 2 #2 - I was right to be scared of this issue. In its stark simplicity, it was in fact worse than I imagined.
  • True Story, Swear to God #12 - Wow. WOWoWOW. I love this book. And this is a great issue. It tells how Lily and Tom get married at the Magical Kingdom, and yes, it made me cry. I've been reading about Tom's problems with his drawing online, and trying to give him virtual hugs, so seeing this book in my hands was a great moment, even without all the fantastic work inside.

  • Justice League: Rise and Fall Special #1 - Right. Green Arrow over the edge. Ok. Grim and Gritty, just the thing Brightest Day was going to end? I don't know, but I'm not caring.
  • Super Friends #25 - An Olympics issue! Yay! And Aquaman is so cute I just wanna hug him! The plot broadcast itself, but I'm sure kids'll love it nonetheless.
  • DMZ #51 - Matty's done the worst, and now he's living the worst. The whole thing with the nuke, and how the media is being manipulated, is a strong side-story to Matty's self-pity.
  • Powers #3 - Um, yikes? Nicely done, Bendis, nicely done. For that matter, Oeming is pretty dang incredible on the artwork on this one, as well.

  • Brave and the Bold #32 - Wow. Great story! This is Aquaman, quietly saving the world while everyone else has no idea. The framing sequence wasn't bad, either, with the sailor trying to prove his story. Art and colors are particularly wonderful.
  • Green Lantern Corps #46 - Tholian Web was a good idea! I'm not buying that Xanshi could become a Black Lantern, as there has never been any indication that it was a living planet like Mogo before it was destroyed. Overall, still not impressed.

My library book this week was The Mennyms by Sylvia Waugh. This story concerns a family that lives in a big old British house in a classic village who have a strange secret. I can't remember who recommended this one, but I enjoyed it a lot. The secret is revealed early on, but I'll hide it anyway as it's fun to discover for yourself. The family has issues, and many of them revolve around being a traditional English family. I can't really say a lot more about it if I want to keep the secret, but I'll say there was lots of fun, a couple of decent twists, and a satisfying ending that left it open to sequels (apparently this is a five book series). Worth checking out. I put the next book in the series on hold at the library, so maybe I'll be reading that soon.

Agatha Christie this week was Destination Unknown from 1954, also published as So Many Steps to Death. This isn't a mystery, it's a thriller with some mysteries in it. So figuring it out wasn't much of a victory for me. The plot is about scientists who are vanishing, presumably across the Iron Curtain, and a woman who is suicidal. This one just left me wanting. Definitely not her best story.

Fortean Times #258, March 2010. Voodoo doll Michael Jackson along with a reference to Illuminati makes for a silly cover. The story it was a cover for was just as silly. If you want to believe that a secret worldwide conspiracy controls media, you are welcome to it. And the thought that Lady Gaga is the conspiracy's number one tool... well, whatever.

Strangedays covers the Norway light show that later turned out to be a failed rocket test. The headlines were ok this month. I liked the coverage of the zombie-walkers: a two-page spread with mostly photos. An update on the "fat killers" story from the previous issue says the story was proven false, which is very nice. Homer's "sardonic grin" is explained as a Joker gas-like effect of hemlock water dropwort. There was a good bit on the extremely poor track record of mediums in actually being useful to police. Phil Plait is mentioned and quoted from his blog in a short piece on Saturn's monster ring. Science has an article on the effects of extreme cold on the human body. Ghostwatch has a bit about the effect a haunting can have on real estate. There is a two-pager article on Phineas Gage and how the photo of him was discovered thanks to online sleuthing. The Archaeology section had an early map and a couple of other pieces. Classical Corner is about Feminism and Lesbianism in the ancient world.

Another article covers a series of pranks and myths circulating around China, including a myth about a Swedish town populated only by women. There's also a piece on the parakeets of London. Konspiracy Korner is all about the fear of Communism on the far-Right, and how it's been going on for a very long time. The UFO files is about the British Ministry of Defense closing their UFO files, along with a cold case that was convincingly proven as a mirage after 50 years, based on primary sources. The A-Z of UFO theories continues and includes sleep paralysis, lucid dreams, and pollution. Some good stuff there. Blasts From the Past is about Spring-Heeled Jack in Australia. A three-pager talks about Philip K Dick's theories, which he apparently shared freely with the FBI. Random Dictionary is about bleeding and sweating statues, icons, and paintings. A researcher revisits the phenomenom of alien abduction, and finds some problems with previous studies. And more time is devoted to the Large Hadron Collider.

The reviews are as great as usual. I'm particularly amused to see both a 0 score and a 1 score for particularly awful-sounding books. The movie Avatar got a 6, while The Road got a 7. I still have no intention of seeing The Road (the book was bad enough) while I very much enjoyed Avatar. And the letters were good, too, as usual. Lots of good stuff. I do love this magazine. The next issue has already arrived, but I'm not sure when I'll have time to read it, much less review it.