Sunday, July 07, 2013

A Sunday Review

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • May 22nd
  • Justice League #20 - Interesting twist of membership. I'm not sure what I think of it, since I kind of liked the new Atom. Huh.
  • Aquaman #20 - This issue has very little to do with Aquaman. The whole filler issue thing is annoying, however I do like the new character. I was just surprised that there was almost no Aquaman in the issue.
  • Green Lantern: New Guardians #20 - Ok, are we done with the stupid crossover now? Are we back to a status quo of some sort? Maybe?
  • Arrow #7 - A story set on the island, a Felicity wants a raise story and a story of a carjacking. All decent little tales, nothing that stands out as awesome.
  • Batman Beyond Unlimited #16 - Batman: Ok, that's a new one. Justice League: I'm not sure I like evil schools much, and I'm not sure they could take down the league quite that fast. Superman: How do you stop an ultimate bomb from destroying the world?
  • Powers: Bureau #4 - I really have no idea what's going on in this book anymore.
  • Steed and Mrs Peel #8 - Well, that's freaky. I like how Emma tries to stop Steed from "saying it". Heh.
  • Doctor Who V3 #9 - I want to visit the TARDIS' Lego room! Fortunate Clara! Oh, yeah, fun start to the story, too.

My book this week was Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown. I was actually assigned to read this at work, and my review of that appeared in the newspaper already, so now I feel like I'm ok to post about the book here, as well. First off, this book is definitely aimed at young adults, but any parent of teenagers would do well to read it also.

The plot is fairly simple. Ashleigh's boyfriend is about to leave for college, while she's still stuck in high school. Pressured by some friends, Ashleigh texts a nude picture of herself to him. After a nasty break-up, the picture becomes a local meme.

The stats about sexting are frightening. We all know children are stupid. We were stupid at that age, and kids today are pretty dang stupid as well. It's not true idiocy, it's just a lack of comprehension of the consequences of actions. Sexting happens a lot because teens just aren't thinking about how a picture can last a LOT longer than a teenage crush. Heck, a lot of adults can't seem to wrap their minds around the notion that digital photos can last way too long and be spread far too easily. So it's hard to blame children too much for this stupidity.

My biggest issue with the character in this book was that she was also drinking, which gave her too much liquid courage. The girl is described as a straight-A student and athlete, but not a lot is made of her initial mistake in the book: getting drunk. It certainly made it harder for me to sympathize with her, although I came around by the end of the book. She isn't a person I would hang out with, but she seemed to have learned her lesson.

The true success of the book, however, is showing how her actions impacted everyone around her. Even while the main character is describing the horrors of being bullied and how her life is utterly disrupted, she takes time to note what happens to the other players in the incident. Particularly striking is the potential fate of her ex-boyfriend, and how the reader learns about it is harrowing.

The book also gives a ray of hope to any readers who might go through something similar. Ashleigh researches sexting and discovers cases of suicide from the bullying, but she eventually starts to pull her life back together.

I certainly recommend this book to teens and their parents. I wouldn't call it high art, but I'm going to seek out other books by Jennifer Brown.

Fortean Times #301
Fortean Times #301 (June 2013). As an American child of the Star Wars generation, Peter Cushing's most famous role for me is definitely Grand Moff Tarkin in the original Star Wars movie. However, I've seen him in other roles since then, and he's not the villain my childhood made him out to be. In particular, he's "Doctor Who" along with everything else. However, the cover image of him most probably triggered very different thoughts in me than in much of the British audience. The cover article itself was very good. I enjoyed reading about the real man behind the roles, and the article also made me want to seek out more of his work. The preview of "Whitstable" by Stephen Volk, which is a fictional tale about Cushing, also made me want to read it. So all around a pretty neat bit, good work on the writers' parts.

The other main article is about believing impossible things. It covers how belief has changed in the past few hundred years, with people in the middle ages believing in magic while modern people believe in science. The article also discusses problems with the word "belief" in modern understanding. As an example, when I say I believe in UFOs, people might assume that I believe in alien craft... but what I actually mean is that I believe people see strange lights in the sky that we can't yet account for with current science.

Strangedays has some truly strange stuff, including a ridiculous survey that found 4% of Americans believe that shape-shifting lizards control the world. Another piece has more on the Shroud of Turin. There's also a bit about Agatha Christie and the name "Bletchley" during WWII. The magazine devotes two pages to out-of-place critters, including a wallaby in England, an alligator in New York City and a walrus in the Orkney Islands. There's also a section on awesome pets saving people's lives, including a lot of awesome cats.

Science is about "dowsing rods" being sold to Iraqi police to detect bombs, and why such things sometimes actually work (mostly by relaxing the user enough to use knowledge he isn't conscious of in finding the object he's searching for). Ghostwatch is about haunted mirrors and hauntings related to mirrors. Alien Zoo reports on a hoax about a colorful owl, a cross-bred bat and a resort devoted to the yeti being built in Russia. Fortean Traveller goes to India to look for pigmy elephants. Illustrated Police News is about human cannonballs.

Konspiracy Korner has cracked the real reason JFK was assassinated, one that isn't a surprise to anyone who has even the slightest knowledge of the whole subject. Archaeology has a piece on the oldest town in Europe and a lost amphitheatre just discovered in northern England. Classical Corner is a really sick overview of some of the excesses of historical popes. The UFO Files... mixed bag in this issue with the usual nonsense covered and appropriately poked fun at along with a fascinating theory involving quantum entanglement and UFOs.

The Forum has an article on a very Fortean hoax phone call about the death of General Wladyslar Sikorski that predicted the exact circumstances of his death six weeks ahead of time. Lots of possibilities about that one. Another article is about Proust and memory. The final forum article questions if hauntings can be caused by infrasound, and comes to some conclusions about infrasound having an effect in hauntings.

Reviews were great as usual, with more than one book making it to my wishlist. The letters were also fun, including a follow-up to a ghost picture. Simulacra corner had some hilarious faces and the it happened to me bits were very spooky. Another great issue.