Coming of Age (TNG Rewatch: Season 1, Episode 18)

A character-heavy episode, full of familiar tropes that add up to little. Starfleet seems much darker than we’ve ever seen it before, in two parallel storylines that intersect only thematically. Wesley, who we know full well isn’t leaving the show, applies to Starfleet Academy, and a grumpy admiral friend of Picard brings aboard an unlikeable prig who interrogates the crew, asking leading questions about events we’ve seen in previous episodes. After…

PAC-MAN: The Untold Story of How We Really Played the Game

A fascinating study of the thinginess of a video game. Put in your quarter, hit the one-player button and grab the joystick. All you have to do is move Pac-Man through a series of tight cornered mazes, trying to eat all the dots and fruit on screen while also trying to out-maneuver a group of ghosts who will kill you as soon as they touch you. If you eat one of…

Controversial Content in YA Literature: A College Professor and Homeschooling Parent Answers an Aspiring Teen Writer’s Questions

I received this comment on my blog: [F]or my Senior Project I am writing a young adult short novel. I found the article on your blog, “Short Story Tips: 10 Ways to Improve Your Creative Writing,” very helpful. However, I was wondering if you had any opinions on the boundaries of what is appropriate content for the young adult genre. This is in regards to things like drugs, sex, and…

What Can Science Tell Us About Dad Jokes?

Beyond making the audience cringe and, hopefully, bring a father a little closer to his son or daughter in a healthy manner, puns have given researchers insight into how the left side of the brain engages with the right side. Researchers showed that the brain’s left hemisphere processes the language of the pun first, while the right side takes a few beats to catch the ambiguous dual meaning in a 2016 study…

Home Soil (TNG Rewatch: Season 1, Episode 17)

The concept was good, and the production values were decent (I really liked the main lab on the planet); however, it starts out as a murder mystery and spends some time developing the human suspects, only to drop them abruptly when the “microbrain” starts growing, so this episode ends up lopsided and disappointing. I did like Troi’s speech: “We see and hear you now. We didn’t know you were there. You are beautiful to us. All life is beautiful.” Yes, it’s corny enough that I couldn’t help but think of the reformed Sour Kangaroo at the end of Seussical. But it captures one of the enduring appeals of Star Trek — it lets us envision what it would be like to be part of a society where idealism and selflessness and intellectual curiosity is mainstream culture.