Top 10 Best Star Trek TNG #9: Ship in a Bottle

shipinabottleThis is an episode that I think isn’t talked about much, and I have to ask why. It’s well-crafted, and it has a great premise.

Before I start talking about this episode, I have to talk about a couple episodes that precede it. First is “Elementary, Dear Data”. In that episode, Data and Geordi are playing Sherlock Holmes on the Holodeck with Dr. Pulaski, who replaced Dr. Crusher for the second season. Geordi got sick of Dr. Pulaski constantly ribbing Data about his only following the script of what normally happens in a Sherlock Holmes mystery and not doing actual detective work. (Dr. Pulaski, just because Data doesn’t have emotions doesn’t mean he has to put up with your attitude. I can totally understand why Geordi was annoyed with you. Man I hated Dr. Pulaski) So to prove a point, he asked the computer to create an opponent based on Professor Moriarty for Data to defeat. The result is a completely self-aware version of the brilliant criminal. He’s like the Holodeck on God Mode. The only reason he stops is that Picard convinces him that it would be in his best interest, that someday they may learn a way for him to leave the Holodeck. This would lead some elements that would be explored with Star Trek Voyager’s Emergency Medical Hologram.

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Worst Star Trek TNG Episodes: Skin of Evil

skinThe first 2 seasons of TNG are universally regarded as the worst part of the show’s history. If you want the whole sordid story of why these seasons are such a mess, I suggest watching  Chaos on the Bridge, the 1-hour documentary about the beginnings of the show.

One of the biggest problems with the first season is definitely Tasha Yar, played by Denise Crosby, who was chief of security in that season. We know very little about her, and she was one of the few characters who didn’t get a spotlight episode in the entire history of the show. This is her only spotlight, and–spoiler alert–she dies! Is it any wonder why Denise Crosby wanted to leave?

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Top 10 Favorite Star Trek TNG Episodes: Lower Decks

lowerA few years back, I reviewed what I considered were the best and worst episodes of the original Star Trek. While I was writing those posts, I had started rewatching the 80’s version, Star Trek: The Next Generation. Now that I’m on the final season, I’ve decided to do a retrospective for this series as well (And DS9 fans, your day is coming. I’m in season 5 of that now.

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One Faith, Many Paths: Chris Cairns

cairns

This week, I interview fellow autistic Catholic Chris Cairns, who also happens to be a member of the Knights of Columbus!

  1. How long have you been a Christian? I have been a Christian my whole life. I was baptized Lutheran as an infant, and was an Evangelical from the ages of 8-14, Lutheran from the age of 14-19. Then I joined RCIA.
  2. What was your childhood like? My childhood was fairly normal until my Dad died. He had brain cancer. I had to go through life without a Dad. I did have a good mom though. 
  3. Why did you join the Knights of Columbus? I joined the Knights of Columbus because I wanted to surround myself with good Catholic men and be able to promote Catholicism through my counsel.
  4. Can you explain what the Knights of Columbus do? The Knights of Columbus are the world’s largest charitable and fraternal in the Catholic Church. They help provide life insurance in case anything happens and your family needs support, and they help with pro-life and pro-family causes. The Knights were behind the persecution of Christians by ISIS being labelled a genocide. In Iraq, the Knights have pledged to help rebuild a village that was majority Christian.

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Rock n Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2019 Nominees

Well here we are, another year and another big list of potential inductees for the Rock Hall. If I sound cynical, there’s a reason. I’m 50/50 on this list. I was really hoping for people like Grand Funk Railroad, Duran Duran, Pat Benatar, and Weird Al to get the nod. What we got instead were a few people I want to vote for. (Really, Kraftwerk should already be there, and so should MC5) We also have some people I feel should wait their turn, like Radiohead and Rage Against the Machine. On the other hand, we have Devo, Stevie Nicks, and Def Leppard–now that’s something to get excited about.

But you’re not here for my complaints. You’re here for my quick breakdown of who to vote for. Well, here you go.

stevie 1. Stevie Nicks: I know what some of you are going to say: “Isn’t she already in because she’s in Fleetwood Mac?” And you’re right. But she also had a solo career, so she can get in twice. In fact, she can be the first female to do that if she gets inducted. I personally think she’s a shoe-in. As of this writing, she’s in 2nd place, right behind Def Leppard.

roxy 2. Roxy Music: One of the best glam rock bands of the 70’s, but you probably don’t know about them because they’ve gotten so little airplay on American radio (except maybe “More Than This” if you’re lucky). But I want these guys in. They need to be in because we need Duran Duran in there, and you wouldn’t have Duran Duran without these guys.

janet3. Janet Jackson: Her again? Didn’t we already have her on the ballot a year ago? And the year before that? Anyway, can we please move past the “wardrobe malfunction” that was over 10 years ago and forgive her? There are musicians with WAY more controversy that have gotten in.

prine4. John Prine: Every year, there’s at least one entry that makes me say “Who’s that?” And this year, it’s John Prine. I guess that’s what I get for not listening to country all that much. He’s a country rock star, and a pretty good one at that, judging by the songs I looked up. He’s a favorite of Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, and Roger Waters. And he’s already in Nashville’s Hall of Fame as of 2003.

kraftwerk5. Kraftwerk: Here’s another group that I feel deserves recognition that you’re all probably scratching your heads about. Kraftwerk was a big deal in Europe, and in the rap scene here in the states. (Go look up “Planet Rock” and then “Trans-Europe Express”) But seriously, Kraftwerk is great. All that EDM you like owes their success to Kraftwerk.

devo6. Devo: Oh I can hear you guys now. “They’re a one-hit wonder! Why do they get a chance? What’s next, Men Without Hats?” Actually, Devo was more popular than you think in the 80’s. They had some big hits on the alternative stations, and that totally counts. And they fit the rock mold by being satirical. Not all rebellion is serious.

ll cool j7. LL Cool J: Here we go, the baddest boy in Old School rap! I can hear all you elitists saying Rap and Rock shouldn’t share a Hall. But if the Temptations, Hank Williams, Miles Davis, and Herb Alpert deserve a spot, then so does LL. The man totally rocks. He wrote some of the most sensual love songs, and his rap battles with Kool Moe Dee left smoke on rap’s battlefield for years.

MC5 8. MC5: The Motor City 5 is one of the longest-running punk rock bands in American music. Their song “Kick Out the Jams” has been covered by quite a few bands over the years. Musicians like Slash and Tommy Morello probably learned to play it as soon as they got their first guitars. Yeah, they deserve it.

defleppard 9. Def Leppard: Stuff the ballot box for these guys! They’ve endured quite a lot. Their drummer has one arm. They lost a guitarist to hard partying (and fired another one for the same thing early on, ironically enough). They had two big albums back to back, which was unusual at the time. What’s that? They’re at the top of the polls now? OK, you already know how big they are. Next.

cure 10. The Cure: Look, I’m not completely cynical here. I love The Cure. I already did an entry on Jason’s Jukebox where I ranked all their albums. Go read that if you want to know why this band must get in.

radiohead11. Radiohead: Um, listen Rock Hall dudes. Thom Yorke said if he and Radiohead ever get the nod, he’s not gonna show. So, I say don’t let him in. They’re too recent. They need to wait their turn. Are they good? I guess. *Looks out window and sees mob of Radiohead fans ready to lynch him*. Look, I’m only a casual fan of these guys, OK? If they had chosen a better opener for their career than “Creep”, I might’ve become a bigger fan. But I always think of their worst song. Sorry, everyone.

rage 12. Rage Against the Machine: I don’t agree with Rage’s political views, but I won’t deny they have talent. Will they be able to get Zack to get up on stage and do a show with them if they win? Probably not.

rufus 13. Rufus featuring Chaka Khan: Hip-hop loves this funk act, and Chaka Khan is a big deal in her own right. I think we should let them in. We already have Parliament-Funkadelic, and Rufus is pretty much along the same line. I know you elitists don’t think R&B deserves a spot, but I disagree. A lot of rockers wouldn’t be around if not for R&B.

toddrundgren14. Todd Rundgren: Todd don’t want to work. He wants to bang on the drum all day! Yes, this is the guy who made that song. He’s also a pretty good producer, working for such artists as Psychedelic Furs and XTC. Which means we can let him in again as a non-performer if we want.

zombies 15. The Zombies: What? They’re STILL not in? “Time of the Season”, go listen to that! It’s an awesome song! Seriously! They already should be in! In fact, most of these bands should be in. Fortunately, I don’t have to convince you. These guys are in 5th place.

The Rock Hall needs to improve, and these bands are a long way to getting those improvements. Let’s stop being cynical and complaining about the politics. Make your voice heard.

 

 

Jason’s Jukebox: Tom Petty

tom petty

Tom Petty died in 2017, so I made a New Year’s Resolution to write a Jukebox post for him. Although I’m a huge fan of his music, I’ve never gone through all his albums. Time to fix that, I guess.

debutom Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1976) ****

Singles: “American Girl”, “Breakdown”

This is a pretty solid debut, despite it being so short (about half an hour). We get the excellent anthem “Breakdown” , which became so popular that at one concert, the whole crowd sang the first verse and the chorus before Tom could even start.

Best Tracks: “Breakdown”, “Anything That’s Rock n Roll”, “Strangered in the Night”, “American Girl”

you'regonna You’re Gonna Get It (1978) **1/2

Singles: “I Need to Know”, “Here Comes to Girl”

Not quite as good as the debut. Once again, it’s so short and it’s also pretty weak.

Best Tracks: “I Need to Know”, “When the Time Comes”, “Restless”

damn Damn the Torpedoes (1979) ****1/2

Singles: “Refugee”, “Here Comes My Girl”, “Even the Losers”, “Don’t Do Me Like That”

If you ask me, this is the album that belongs in 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, not the debut album.  It has Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at their best. Benmont Tench became the band’s “secret weapon” with his multi-talented prowess as a keyboardist and other instruments. The album has many of his best-loved tunes. This is their first totally solid album.

Best tracks: “Refugee”, “Even the Losers”, “Shadow of a Doubt”, “Louisiana Rain”

hardpromisesHard Promises *** (1981)

Single: “The Waiting”

This album came around the time Tom Petty recorded his duet with Stevie Nicks, “Stop Dragging My Heart Around”, on her Bella Donna album. In fact, Stevie Nicks even has a guest appearance on “Insider”. It’s a great follow-up to the previous big-seller.

Best tracks: “King’s Road”, “A Thing About You”, “Insider”

longafter Long After Dark (1982) ***

Singles: “You Got Lucky”, “Change of Heart”

This was the first album to feature Howie Epstein on bass and backing vocals. It was also their MTV debut, with the Mad Max-inspired video for “You Got Lucky”. Epstein has an impressive debut.

Best Tracks: “You Got Lucky”, “We Stand a Chance”, “The Same Old You”

southern Southern Accents (1985) ***

Single: “Don’t Come Around Here No More”

This album was going to be a concept album, but it never panned out. The songs don’t really seem to fit together as concept albums normally do. But it’s not too bad otherwise.

Best Tracks: “Rebels”, “Don’t Come Around Here No More”, “Spike”

letmeupLet Me Up, I’ve Had Enough ** (1987)

Single: “Jamming Me”

This album’s pretty much buried these days. In fact, it’s the only album that doesn’t get a spotlight on the Heartbreakers’ first Greatest Hits compilation.  I think this one of the worst albums, so maybe we didn’t miss anything.

fullmoon Full Moon Fever (1989) ***1/2

Singles: “Free Fallin”, “I Won’t Back Down”, “Running Down a Dream”

This is Tom Petty’s first “solo” album (although technically, some of the Heartbreakers do guest star). It’s a great album, and it even has his fellow Travelling Wilbury Roy Orbison making his final recording on it.

Best Tracks: “Free Falling”, “I Won’t Back Down”, “Yer So Bad”, “Zombie Zoo”

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One Faith, Many Paths: Haydon Cornett

aisling

For my latest interview, I chose one of the members of my Autistic Christians group, Aisling Cornett!

  1. When were you diagnosed as autistic?  I was diagnosed when I was twelve years old. My mom had read up on it and came to the conclusion that it was likely, so she took me to a psychiatrist. Psychiatry was a special interest of mine, so I was eager and fascinated.
  2. What was your childhood like? My childhood was “Christian”–sheltered, American, Southern, and emotionally isolated. No one understood me properly, including myself, so I spent most of my time retreating into books. I was ridiculed and excluded by other children, and my family mistakenly thought I was disrespectful , rude, and intentionally difficult. Nevertheless, my family meant well and introduced me to some wonderful books, movies, music, and food.
  3. How did you become a Christian? You told me you were a convert. I was raised in the conservative, fundamentalist church of Christ–an obscure niche of a group that was very focused on intellectualism and a literal interpretation of sola scriptura in about every way possible. They essentially had no spiritual experience whatsoever, and were quite legalistic. It was all about knowing bible trivia. I never felt close to God. I certainly didn’t know Him. Prayer was just a ritual you did so things would go well for you. I’m a very emotional person, and I was very unfulfilled, so in Middle School I turned to Wicca. I was a closet pagan and could see and commune with “faeries” and “nature spirits”, and I would cast spells to make things go my way. I was happy, but I also had undiagnosed anxiety that manifested itself in a crippling terror of Hell. This fear got stronger and stronger and was fed by things I found on the Internet about “end times philosophy and the “great tribulation”. I was terrified that I would go to Hell if I didn’t go back to some form of Christianity. I became a Charismatic and had a radicalizing, life-changing experience of the love of God as truly present and real. I tried to evangelize everyone I met at high school. After I graduated, I was looking for a church to go to other than my parents’, and I found a house church and an Orthodox parish. I kept coming back and visiting, and now I’ve discovered the truth of Holy Orthodoxy and have become a catechumen.
  4. Who is your favorite biblical figure besides Jesus? Probably St. Stephen. His love for the Lord and others is so inspiring.
  5. Do you have a favorite biblical passage? Honestly, I haven’t read enough Scripture to have a favorite passage yet. I don’t know if I’d ever be able to pick anyway.

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