Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Sunday Review

No new Doctor Who for another six months. I'll survive, but I'm certainly going to miss it. I'm getting much closer to the current Fortean Times, now, too. I should catch up next month... I think. Also, I read a book this past week, but I can't review it here until my review of it appears in the newspaper. So I'll just say I enjoyed it and leave it at that until later.

TV this week:
  • Downton Abbey: Season 1, Episode 7, UK version - Ok, the main plot point was a complete surprise, but makes sense. It's the only thing that could stop Matthew from inheriting. But Mary, wow... she made some really stupid decisions in this one. There was a lot more she needed to say to Matthew. Anna's detective work in London was nice. And poor Daisy... what loyalty! Thomas is entirely too lucky, he should have been in prison for his attempt to frame someone else for his thefts. O'Brien, on the other hand, looked like she actually felt guilty about what she'd done. Glad about Gwen's success. The series started with news of the Titanic, it's fitting that it ends with the start of the war. Looking forward to the second season. I think it's safe to say I enjoyed season one.

Here are reviews of some of the comic books that Eric got on Free Comic Book Day:
  • The Steam Engines of Oz - This might be the first issue of the series, and not just a different free look... we certainly ordered it, my husband being a complete Oz-nut. I found it very strange, but promising. We'll just have to see where it goes from here.
  • SpongeBob Freestyle Funnies - I really enjoyed the Mermaid Man stories in this one, particularly the two-pager featuring Catfishstress. I'm always surprised how much I love these spoofs.
  • DC Nation Super Sampler - Depressing that yet another version of Batman is being produced instead of the excellent Young Justice series. And I'm not seeing anything about this Batman version that I haven't seen before. Boring. As for Teen Titans... eh, whatever. No Aqualad, I don't care for it.
  • Archaia 2013 Free Comic Book Day Flip Book - An unfortunate printing error made some of the text difficult to read in this book, but I still enjoyed the Mouse Guard and Rust stories. Less sure about the others, but not bad for a sampler...except for the printing.
  • World of Archie Digest FCBD 2013 - Archie isn't really my thing, being aimed at young adults. But it's still a pretty good comic. And this digest is pretty much crammed with great little stories. If I were in the audience for the Archie titles, this book would make me want to pick some up.
  • Superman Last Son of Krypton #1 FCBD 2013 - So, if I were actually interested in this story and went out to pick up a Superman book, would it lead on directly from this? Where does this plotline fit in the mishmash of Superman books?
  • Hal Foster's Prince Valiant FCBD 2013 - I really would like to get more of the collections, but haven't had the money. This just reminds me what I'm missing.
  • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century FCBD 2013 - Wow, that strip didn't age very well. It's still quite interesting, but very odd.
  • NFL Rush Zone Season of The Guardians FCBD 2013 - I'm not sure what would make this a readable book, but it seems like a poor man's Power Rangers to me.
  • Judge Dredd Classics FCBD 2013 - I've never been really into Dredd, but I've enjoyed most of what I've read of it. This set of stories was pretty good.
  • Top Shelf Kids Club FCBD 2013 - Nice mix of stuff, with enough pages of each to get an idea of how much you might like it. The book started with the strongest feature, Owly, but many of the others were ok. I'm not going to run out and buy any of them, but it's a sweet little package for those that will be impressed.
  • Avengers Assemble/Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. #1 FCBD 2013 - I really don't know what to say about this book. It's vaguely amusing, but really isn't my cuppa. So I'll just move on to the next.
  • Action Time Buddies FCBD 2013 - Very, very odd. Kind of cool, but in an odd way. I think I know a few folks who would like it. Me, I can pass.
  • Smurfs FCBD 2013 - The main Smurfs story was ok, although the whole use of the word as adjective, noun and verb gets maddening very quickly. Annoying Orange was better than I expected and I was saddened and amused by Ariol. Saddened by what happened to the bookstore owner, amused because I could by that totally focused reader.

Fortean Times #297
Fortean Times #297 (March 2013). "The Ghost Impersonators" is definitely one of the goofier covers I've seen. Cute photography tricks. Part of me wonders if anyone ever believed that sort of image. The cover story is pretty good, covering types of ghost impersonation and how a lot of people didn't fall for it. It also calls up the Victorian ghost mob stories from the previous issue of the magazine. I suppose you get entertainment where you can.

Another article is about Lionel Fanthorpe's fiction, and the Fortean themes it embraced. I actually felt a mild urge to go hunt down some of the pulp books for light reading once I'd finished the article.

The last of the main articles in this issue is about Greyfriar's Bobby, a dog said to have kept vigil at his master's grave long after the man passed away, and later immortalized in a statue and in movies. The article looks for the truth in the story, and finds some tidbits of interest to the Fortean reader. Good stuff, as usual.

Strangedays starts with a tale of a Serbian vampire whose old home apparently collapsed, scaring the locals who believe enough in the tale to have that twitchy feeling of needing to look over their shoulders. Another article talks about a vanishing Pacific Island that has appeared on maps, unquestioned, for about 136 years... despite not existing. There's a good set of Fortean follow-ups, including a bit on the potential restoration of the "monkey Jesus" in Spain.

Another section is about strange baby tales, including a woman who became pregnant while already pregnant and lots of stories of babies surviving falls from extreme heights. There's some pieces about dogs holding vigils or tracking down lost owners, echoing the Greyfriar's Bobby piece.

Science talks about acquired savant syndrome and how studies of it may lead to literal "thinking caps" in the future. Ghostwatch has a neatly spooky ghost photo with a neatly spooky story to go with it, but of course nothing that could truly be considered evidence of the supernatural, sadly. The article goes on to talk about ghosts in bars in general, trying to avoid the usual "spirit" jokes.

Konspiracy Korner is about covert British attempts to bring America into the war against Hitler by overcoming the very strong isolationist faction of the American government. It's an interesting conspiracy theory that has a little bit of evidence behind it. It does tend to make me wonder if any history book ever contains the truth of any event.

Alien Zoo is about a snake with legs in Mexico and an update on the search for the extinct Tasmanian tiger. Archaeology has a piece on plants allegedly germinated from 31,800-year-old seeds and a piece of pottery thought to be 20,000 years old. Other "older than thought" discoveries mentioned include dairy from 7,000 years ago, chocolate from 500 B.C. and a pearl from 5,500 B.C. Mmmm, chocolate. Fortean Traveller visits a crater in Estonia.

Classical Corner looks into the epitome of abridgement in ancient times, and assesses Florus, who, in the second century A.D., chopped up older sources to make books of interest to schoolboys. UFO Files examines attempts to make flying saucers, UFO haunts in the woods and a multi-witness sighting that defies explanation. UFO Casebook discusses how aliens are a bit passe in the study of UFOs and argues we should be paying more attention to scientific reasons for sightings and trying to work out what's really happening.

The Forum has an article about Ash trees, and the threat to them of a fungus spreading in Europe. Another article is about people seeing (and sometimes recording) figures in the sky made of cloud and light. Reviews has some good picks, including ripping apart a biased book about Mormonism that came out just in time for Romney's election run. Fortean Fiction looks at "London Falling" by my old friend Paul Cornell, so that's good. Letters were great, as usual. There's a great picture of a statue of Lenin taking in Bulgaria with a star on his face... he looks like Mermaid Man! And with that, on to something else...