Saga of the Jasonite

The continuing adventures of that eternal man of mystery…

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Star Trek reviews: Lessons and The Chase

Yikes, I had to review two of the worst episodes of season six! Oh well, at least it’s not Rascals or Aquiel. I’ve soldiered on anyway and reviewed this in a relatively short amount of time.


Lessons is not a good episode. Picard falls in love again, to a stellar cartographer/musician this time. We see Picard playing his Ressican flute for the first time since The Inner Light, and I can’t say that’s a good thing. There’s a planetary emergency that requires her specifically to be there (what are the odds). We think she dies, turns out she’s alive, then she leaves the ship. Fine by me.

Do you know why this episode got made? The idea for it had been around since season five, but nobody wanted to do it. The only reason it was made was because the writers couldn’t come up with any more ideas for episodes. They were scraping the bottom of the barrel, so to speak, and this is the result. Check out my other comments on this bummer of an episode in my full review.

The Chase

The Chase is a better episode, but not by much. Picard’s old archaeology mentor visits and tries to get him to leave the Enterprise and come with him on an expedition for several months. When he refuses the guy takes off and gets himself killed. Picard then takes up the expedition himself. The Chase consists of finding DNA fragments from dozens of worlds which, against all odds, have something in common that forms an ancient computer program. Turns out the Cardassians, Klingons and Romulans are all after it too, and culminates in a disappointing ending.

This is Star Trek’s attempt to explain why all the aliens are humanoid, as I’m sure many of you have figured out. This episode’s inspiration for the plot was Carl Sagan’s book Contact, and trying to marry these two concepts resulted in this less-than-stellar outing for the crew. A cast member from this episode is still alive and kicking at 106 years old! There is a deleted scene for this episode as well. Check out my full review if you’re interested in reading more.

Whew, got those over with! My next two reviews will include a wonderful episode, Frame of Mind, and the moderately interesting Suspicions. See you then!

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Star Trek Episode Reviews: Birthright, Part II and Starship Mine


Birthright, Part II

Happy New Year! I was thinking it would be tough to push through the reviews during the holidays, and I was right. Still, I was able to do some work and am happy to announce the completed reviews for Birthright, Part II and Starship Mine.

The second half of Birthright is pretty good. All of the stuff with Data in part I is gone, and we only focus on Worf and his POW camp experience. Worf learns the Klingons there were knocked unconscious and not allowed to die, and that their children have no idea they are a warrior race. Worf is not allowed to leave and spread word of the camp, so he decides to teach the adolescents what it means to be Klingons, which destabilizes everything.

As I said part II is fine, but to me it just feels like a regular episode, not as though this is the ‘exciting conclusion’ to a special two-part episode. What happened to James Cromwell, who played the alien who got him involved in all this stuff in the first place? Turns out they had to reduce the part dramatically because he broke his leg between filming the two parts! Check out my full review if you’d like to know more.

Starship Mine

Starship Mine is a pretty enjoyable episode by comparison. The Enterprise needs to get rid of its beryon radiation, so the ship is evacuated as the scan to remove it is lethal. Picard goes back to the ship to get his saddle and stumbles into the plot of Die Hard! It’s the captain of the flagship against a cadre of thieves against the backdrop of a lethal beam that is is slowly sweeping the ship.

The behind-the-scenes fact that practically everyone knows is that Tim Russ, who plays one of the thieves in this episode, will go on to play Tuvok in Voyager. The fact that Picard essentially gives him the Vulcan nerve pinch is something I love. You may not know that he will play another character in DS9 before Voyager starts. Which one? Check out my full review to find out. You may also spot an actress that will go on to play a major character in Babylon 5 as well!

Next time it’s the vomit-worthy Lessons and the only slightly better The Chase.

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Star Trek episode reviews: Tapestry and Birthright, Part I

I just can’t seem to stick to reviewing two episodes per month. Luckily I have a good excuse:  we have a new son! Joshua was born August 24th, and now that we’re both getting a bit more sleep and I am more coherent, I’ve got my reviews done. This week it’s Tapestry and the first of a two-parter, Birthright.


Tapestry isn’t just one of the best episodes of season six, it isn’t just one of the best Q episodes, it’s one of the best episodes in the entire series. Upon Picard’s apparent death, Q welcomes him into the afterlife with open arms. In discussing his life, Q discovers one of Picard’s greatest regrets is his rash actions that led to him getting an artificial heart, and offers him a chance: if he can avoid getting stabbed, Q will let him live. Picard gets to live, but in a life he would never want.

Remember in my last post I said if Ron Moore said he would have done anything differently it would have been not writing Aquiel? Well, Ron Moore said of all the episodes he wrote this was his favorite. According to him, “I wanted Picard to look back and realize that things that you thought were like, these traumatic screw-ups in your life actually got you where you are now.” This is also one of only five episodes that does not have a stardate. If you’d like to know more, feel free to check out my full review.

Birthright, Part I

Birthright, Part I is a step down, as most episodes would be. The Enterprise is docked at Deep Space 9 for a made up reason, just to set the episode at Deep Space 9. While there Worf is told by a mysterious alien that his father is still alive, at a Romulan POW camp. Worf doesn’t take kindly to this, but ends up paying an alien to take him there to investigate. Meanwhile, due to a convenient alien device, Data is shocked into having his first dream.

Evidently this was supposed to be a standalone episode about Worf and some Romulans, Bridge on the River Kwai style. The story was expanded to be a two-part episode but due to where they would break it they needed to fill some time in part one. Thus the whole idea of Data progressing as a sentient life form emerged. I’ll bet you didn’t know that it was supposed to be Jadzia Dax on the Enterprise with Data instead of Dr. Bashir! Read about her reaction a lot more in my full review.

I’ll do my best to get the next two episodes, Birthright Part II and Starship Mine, written as soon as possible. I’d love to finish season six by the end of the year–I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Here’s hoping.

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Star Trek episode reviews: Aquiel and Face of the Enemy

Yes, it’s been a little while since I got two new reviews out to y’all.  I’m just glad I can do it now, because in a couple of weeks my third child will be born and that will likely throw a monkey wrench into things again. Still, I will keep on truckin’ until I finish.


Aquiel is one of the weakest episodes of season six, and there’s only one other episode even in the running. Alright, two episodes. In the course of delivering supplies to a relay station, the Enterprise crew stumble upon a murder mystery. One officer is dead, the other (presumably Aquiel) missing. Geordi looks through all of Aquiel’s files and sort of falls for her, then voila, the Klingons produce her, still alive! The only problem is she’s the prime suspect now, and that puts Geordi potentially at odds with her and his crew mates. Also, there’s a dog.

Incredibly weak episode, so forgettable I forgot the Klingons were even in it! Ron Moore, one of the star writers for TNG, DS9, etc, said if there was anything he would have done differently during his time on Star Trek it would have been not writing Aquiel! Would you like to know which classic film American film Aquiel is based on? Want to know why the CGI at the end of the episode turned out so horribly bad? Check out my full review!

Face of the Enemy

Face of the Enemy is as good as Aquiel is bad. It’s the terrifically told story of how the soft, empathetic ship’s counselor gets kidnapped, surgically altered to look like a Romulan and thrown onto a Warbird against her will, only to rise to the occasion and become a complete badass. Turns out she’s part of a plot hatched by Spock to smuggle out a high ranking vice proconsul and his aides so they can defect to the Federation. The plan goes sideways though, and she has to stare down a tough-as-nails Romulan Commander, take command and deliver the Romulan dissidents practically by herself. It’s the best Deanna Troi episode ever. It may be the best Romulan episode ever too.

There are several bits of trivia here. This is the episode where Worf finally debuts his new warrior’s ponytail. He’ll have it for the rest of the series and all through DS9. I’ve captured a picture of it for you. Would you believe the ponytail wigs he wore were made out of Russian children’s hair? This is where the Tal Shiar started, and have appeared as recently as Star Trek: Picard. Want to know how Q almost came into this episode? Check out this and more by reading my full review.

That’s it for now. Next time I’ll be reviewing Tapestry and Birthright, Part I. Hopefully it’ll be sooner rather than later! Ta Ta For Now…

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Black Lives Matter–a White guy’s perspective




I know, I know, I’m a White guy, why am I writing about this? What do I know about it anyway? Judging from what folks on TV and politicians are saying, it seems I know more than some. As a therapist, a social worker, and someone who has heard what matters to his Black friends, I’m going to take a shot at it.

Black Lives Matter as a movement goes back to about 2013, after Trayvon Martin was killed. As you may recall, he was a Black unarmed 17-yr old in Florida who had a hoodie on and was shot and killed by a member of the neighborhood watch. His killer was later found not guilty.

More recently was the death of George Floyd, which is what sparked protests across America. A Black man killed during an arrest in Minneapolis, he was handcuffed face down in the street and the arresting officer kept his knee on George’s neck for eight uninterrupted minutes, despite George initially saying “I can’t breathe, don’t kill me.” Paramedics arrived to treat George, but the officer would not take his knee off George’s neck and he died. Per the report of professionals at the scene George did not have a pulse for the last three of those minutes, and nobody present made any attempt to revive him. The officer involved was clearly responsible for his death. The fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor later that year added more fuel to the movement. While not mentioned in the Black Lives Matter movement, a spiritual predecessor event was the videotaped police beating of Rodney King in 1991 which led to the LA riots.

What is Black Lives Matter? Why do some folks say in response, “All lives matter”? First, notice that only Caucasian people are saying all lives matter, minorities do not say that. Both conservative and liberal political figures say this too, and they don’t get it. Minorities get it. What do they get? That for most of their lives, in the US, they are repeatedly told their lives don’t matter, at least not as much as Caucasians. They are told this in many different ways, and repeatedly.

Do you have a Black or minority friend? If so, ask them about it. I grew up in Eastern Washington, and there just aren’t a lot of Black people there. I used to think racism ended in the 1960s or 70s. In college I saw a documentary called The Color of Fear and it changed my mind. When I went to graduate school 45 minutes away from Detroit I began to have Black friends for the first time. I started hearing stories from them about what happens when they drive down the road and are pulled over for no legitimate reason. During that time I was asked by a very close friend if I would come with him to buy a car, because Black folks get treated differently at a car dealership than White folks. I was having experience after experience, teaching me what life is like in America for those that are not White. Racism is not an easy thing to hear about, it’s not an easy thing to think about. Discrimination is not a recent trend either, it has been around since before the US was formed. To understand the present, we need the context of the past.

Slavery was around in the US before the Constitution was drafted, and finally ended in 1865 at the end of the Civil War. Was that the end of discrimination? No, Jim Crow laws were enacted later that century. The purpose of Jim Crow was to enforce segregation, take away their right to vote (or make it very difficult), and institutionalize disadvantages for African Americans living in the South. These laws continued until 1965! Shall we talk about lynchings? Lynching was a somewhat common practice throughout the 20th century, and as recently as 1981 Black men in this country were still being chased by gangs and hung to death. In 2017 a Missouri state representative suggested lynching all those who supported removing Confederate monuments.

In 1954 segregation of schools was declared unconstitutional but Black Americans still had to live with separate drinking fountains, restaurants, even bathrooms from Whites. It was because of this segregation in 1955 that Rosa Parks’ refusal to leave the ‘colored section’ for a white passenger because the ‘whites only’ was full is what invigorated the Civil Rights Movement, which went from approximately 1955-1968. It included such luminaries as Martin Luther King and Malcolm X (both of whom were assassinated). The Voting Rights Act of 1965 finally protected a Black person’s right to vote, coming 45 years after women gained the right to vote in the US.

This was a great victory, but did not end racism in America. The Tuskegee Experiment went from 1932 to 1972, and involved hundreds of Black people, all poor sharecroppers who were promised free healthcare. When it began there was no treatment for syphilis, but when penicillin was discovered as a treatment in 1947 (the same year a Black man was first allowed to play professional baseball), the researchers intentionally only gave placebos to the participants for 25 more years, to see how bad syphilis could get. Men died, went blind or insane, and passed it on to their kids. This is a major reason why African Americans developed a mistrust of the medical system in America. More recently, from 1981 to 1997 the US Dept of Agriculture discriminated against tens of thousands of Black Americans by denying loans that were then given to White farmers in similar circumstances, which finally resulted in $2 billion worth of settlements after the fact.

This stuff is not ancient history, it is still happening. Are Africans Americans and other minorities targeted unfairly? Are they killed by police at a rate higher than Caucasians? There are two pieces of evidence I can cite. First, a 2018 report by the independent, bipartisan U.S. Commission on Civil Rights found “consistent patterns of racial disparities in police use of force.” The study also found Black Americans are more likely to be unarmed than White Americans when killed. Second, a prominent national newspaper logged 2499 Whites killed by police for a rate of 13 per million, and 1301 Blacks for a rate of 31 deaths per million, almost triple (African Americans are less than 15% of the population), since it began tracking such data in 2015.

Many Black youth grow up in neighborhoods where multiple family and community members have been purposely neglected or victimized by some members of law enforcement, as well as the courts. I have never entered a store and been followed around by employees because I was White. I have never been pulled over while driving my car because I was White, or followed by the neighborhood watch because I was White. I’ve never been told to “go back to Africa” or had a boss say to the one Black employee, “Hey I got some lunch for us, and I know who wants the fried chicken!” (I witnessed this at my place of work in 2006). If I was a minority in this country, however, by the age of 30 the odds are some of these things would have happened to me.

Black Lives Matter is stating their lives matter as much as White lives do! It ought to be obvious, of course their lives matter just like Asian lives, Latino lives, Native American lives, etc. All lives matter equally in theory, but not in practice. History has shown this is not the case. I empathize and agree 100% with the overall mission of BLM, which is to “eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.” I also support their right to peaceful protest guaranteed by the First Amendment, as should all Americans. As citizens we must do better to help root out racism.

However I don’t agree with all their aims, such as defunding police departments and parts of the BREATHE Act. I don’t think all African Americans support defunding the police either. The police force does far more good than harm, we need them and I support them, it is a mistake to defund law enforcement. I also disagree with the minority of BLM members who engage in destruction of property, or violent protesting. Protesters have no right to destroy, deface or steal property, or to undermine the government’s legitimate police powers. The Constitution and laws contain no invitation to revolution or anarchy. Two wrongs do not make a right.

To my mind there are significant similarities between the overall mission of Black Lives Matter and the #MeToo movement, both of which have been maligned by various groups. Women’s lives matter and they are entitled to be treated equally, to live without being victimized, harassed or abused. I think Black people want the same.