False Memory by Dean Koontz Just Didn’t Ring True

Dean Koontz and Stephen King have always been in competition to be my favorite author. I think after reading this book, King definitely took the lead.

False Memory is a book that left me feeling like I had bought a book that I’d read before. While someone who isn’t an avid reader of Koontz’ books may find this story keeps them on the edge of their seat, if you read a great deal of his book you may feel a bit cheated.

The characters seem like we know them from somewhere. I began noticing this in the last Koontz book I read, From the Corner of His Eye. The characters from book to book are being to seem very similar to each other. There are always people in the story who, for one reason or another, are very very good. They usually have a perfect life, are rich, and do a tremendous amount of good for their fellow man.

These characters then seem to be thwarted in doing all their goodness by someone so deeply evil, yet charming, that they have managed to get away with their evil-doings until meeting our heroes. Somehow, the heroes and heroines (with the help of a very smart dog – usually a Golden Retriever) manage to conquer whatever obstacles the villain throws in front of them. By the end of the book, everything is wrapped up nice and neat and they are more perfect, rich, and happy than they were in the beginning of the story.

False Memory is the story of Martie and Dusty Rhodes (could that name be any more of a cliche?). One day Martie begins having terrible panic attacks that lead her to believe by the end of the day that she will kill her husband.

Dusty, meanwhile, is dealing with his own demons int he form of his half-brother, Skeet. Skeet has substance-abuse problems and became suicidal that day while helping Dusty on a painting job. After managing to stop Skeet from jumping off the roof, Dusty brings him to a clinic for treatment, then returns home to find Martie in the midst of her own breakdown.

After ruling out a physical or medical problem, Martie seeks treatment from Dr. Mark Ahriman, the same psychiatrist who has been treating her friend Susan Jagger. Up until a few months prior, Susan had been a very successful real-estate agent and happily married. A severe case of agoraphobia ended both her career and her marriage.

Dr. Ahriman is not all that he seems, and Martie and Dusty soon begin to gather bits of information that lead them to suspect this. Despite everything Ahriman has done to manipulate people, Martie and Dusty are somehow able to catch on to his machinations and try to gather facts to prove what is going on.

The book actually only takes place over a few days as Martie and Dusty go through the beginning of her attacks into her treatment. She only has a couple of appointments before they begin to suspect Ahriman. The one thing Koontz always does well is give incredible detail. The book does not plod at all despite the fact that it takes place over such a short time. Instead, I felt like I was in a whirlwind and couldn’t see how anyone’s life could go through so many of the abrupt changes that Martie and Dusty go through without doing some major damage to the psyche.

One thing Koontz has always done well is write villains. I think he enjoys them more than heroes since he seems to give them more depth. Ahriman is no exception. He is not simply a one-dimensional villain, but someone who’s very core of being seems to be evil, going right back into childhood. Despite having so many advantages, something is not right in his life – his “wiring” is off – and at various times we see just how he came to be as twisted as he is now. Ahriman is the best part of this book.

However, Ahriman’s connection to Martie and Dusty is not just her accidentally stumbling into his office, and that bothered me to no end. It was too coincidental; too contrived. The ending was a tremendous disappointment and letdown after I’d invested the time in these characters. Has Koontz begun to rest on his laurels? This book really has me asking that question.

I wish I could put in a “maybe” where it asks if I would recommend False Memory to a friend. It would depend on just how many Koontz books that person had already read. That option not there, I’ll put in a NO since I think there are much better Koontz books out there to read.

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Shades of Gray: A Review of A Bronx Tale

Written by Chazz Palminteri
Directed by Robert DeNiro

The first time I saw the movie A Bronx Tale was after hearing an interview on the radio with Chazz Palminteri. I had never heard of him before, but hearing him discuss this movie, and the characters who are all based on people he knew growing up, I felt I had to see it.

The movie is an excellent story of the relationship between a neighborhood mobster, Sonny (portrayed by Palminteri) and Calogero – or “C” (portrayed at a young age by Francis Capra and in his mid-teens by Lillo Brancato). Robert DeNiro portrays C’s father, Lorenzo, a bus driver who’s route enables him to keep an eye on his son, and who is consistently at odds with the mobster over his son’s future. Trying to keep his son on the straight-and-narrow, the scenes between DeNiro and Palminteri are incredibly well done, and are the true gem of this movie.

At the tender age of 9, C witnesses a shooting outside of his apartment. When asked by the police to identify the shooter, C lies and covers up for Sonny. Recognizing what the boy has done for him, Sonny takes him under his wing, much to Lorenzo’s chagrin.

Lillo Brancato does an amazing job portraying C as a teen caught between so many worlds in the Bronx of the 1960’s. On one hand, he has his relationship with his father (and mother, though we see little of her throughout the movie). On the other, he has the relationship with Sonny. On still another side is his friends his own age, who Sonny actually tries harder to steer him away from than Lorenzo. And then there is C’s heart, which has led him to fall for Jane, a black girl who attends his school.

All of these worlds collide in a frantic ending that will keep you on the edge of your seat. At 122 minutes, the movie is long, but I found few parts that really seemed to drag. There is comic relief as well, in the form of Sonny’s mobster buddies. The funniest has to be Eddie Mush who is called that because everything he touches turns to mush.

Why this movie did not get recognized in the way of awards, I have no idea. The acting is fantastic and the story is excellently written and paced. Robert DeNiro directed the movie, his first time behind the camera, and should’ve gotten an award (or at least nominated), as well as Palminteri nominated for the writing.

As with any mob-related movie, expect violence. C and his friends use strong language constantly. It is for effect, as you get the idea that the kids are using it because they think that it makes them sound tough.

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Star Trek – The Next Generation: Justice

Written by Worley Thorne, Ralph Wills, and Tracy Torme
Directed by James L. Conway

A good Star Trek episode, in my opinion, is one that makes you think; one that makes you ask questions; while at the same time entertaining you. Sure, that’s a higher standard than we’ve come to expect from most other television programs, but I have always felt that Star Trek usually rose to that higher standard.

Enter the first season episode of The Next Generation titled Justice. In this episode, there are two important questions that stop and make us think. One is about the punishment fitting the crime. The other is about whether one society has the right to impose its values on another when the handling of a situation varies so greatly.

Having just helped settle a new colony on a planet in a distant solar system, the crew of the Enterprise happens upon the planet Rubicun III. At first, the place seems to be an ideal location for a little bit of rest and relaxation for the crew. Things soon take a much different turn, however, when Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) accidentally crashes through some new plantings. All crime on Rubicun III is given the same punishment: death. Wesley’s accident is considered to be a crime.

Does the punishment fit the crime? In this case, it would surely seem not. Yet as Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) is talking about Earth’s past, I am thinking of how many people are given 20 years on the “three strikes an you’re out” drug charges for possessing a small amount of illegal substances while murdered and rapists oftentimes see less than that.

Picard then is faced with deciding whether or not to break the Federation’s own Prime Directive pledging non-interference with other cultures. Saving Wesley from death will certainly do that, yet he is also obliged to protect his crew and their families.

Add to this a ship orbiting the planet near the Enterprise which appears to be able to occupy multiple dimensions at a time. The people of Rubicun III look at this caretaker ship as their “God”.

All of this sounds like a wonderful set up for a great show. So what went wrong?

The Edo – the people of Rubicun III – are humans just like us, except they seem to come from Hitler’s concept of a “master race”. Every single one of them is blonde, blue-eyed, and beautiful. All women are perfect shapes and all men have tremendous muscles. Their culture is the 60’s freelove movement run amok – in the beginning they are described as “making love at the drop of a hat”. They run everywhere (which looks dumb most of the time, to me) and wear skimpy clothing which barely covers them. More believable would be that they wear no clothes all the time, but I guess that wouldn’t make it past the censors.

The Edo seem to have no concept of personal space. We are treated to scenes of well-muscled men being oiled down by multiple females. Picard often describes them as “child-like” because of their innocence. Yet I cannot believe that with all of this “love” being spread around, they don’t have a problem with people getting angry over who is sleeping with who. Of course, there is the death sentence hanging over them, but considering how many people kill their wives/husbands/lovers and then turn the gun on themselves, I’d think this would be a bigger problem.

Their race did not ring true to me, and I felt uncomfortable watching them. I kept wondering if the “God-ship” would suddenly turn out to be manned by people in Nazi uniforms – as Kirk found on a planet in one of the original Star Trek series episodes.

I don’t know who to place the blame on here – the writers or director for running amok with the Edo culture, but it tears down what would otherwise have been a great episode.

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Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry: It Won the Pulitzer for a Good Reason

Lonesome Dove can be real intimidating when you first pick it up to read. The paperback version logs in at 945 pages. To me, it is worth reading every single one of those pages.

In our culture, both on the silver screen and small screen, cowboys have been glamorized and made to seem larger-than-life and heroic. McMurtry brings them completely back down to earth in this novel. We see all of the work – the dirt, the pain, the danger, the anguish – that comes with this job. The good guys don’t always win, things don’t always go as planned, and there is no smiling, happy ending.

McMurtry’s characters are human in every sense of the word. They are courageous and stand up for what they believe in; they are heroes are struck down when trying to do the right thing; they are honorable and at the same time can bend that viewpoint a bit when it suits them. In other words, they are like many of the people we see every day in our own lives, all these years later.

The story begins in the town of Lonesome Dove sitting just off the Mexican border in a dry, dusty area of Texas. Two former Texas Rangers, Woodrow Call and Gus McCrae have retired here and run the Hat Creek Cattle Company. Life is fairly boring with the main excitement being the occasional raids by Mexicans on their cattle, which they respond to by raiding the Mexican cattle back. Gus makes a crack that some of the cattle spend their whole lives just going back and forth over the riverbed.

One day an old buddy by the name of Jake Spoon wanders into town and fills Call’s head with thoughts of Montana. In short order, there is a cattle drive going on from the most southern part of this country just about up to the Canadian border.

Jake manages to end up with the only prostitute in Lonesome Dove accompanying him as they head north. He is also on the run from the law for killing a man.

I think the character of Jake was one that intrigued me the most. In so many ways he is such a weak man and ends up being in the wrong place at the wrong time just because of that. He knows what’s right, but doesn’t have the courage to put himself on the line standing up for that. Too often, he takes the easy way out. He is a tragic figure we can sympathize with, and at the same time shake our heads because we are disappointed.

We learn early on that Call is the father to Newt, a young boy who was (supposedly) orphaned when his mother died years before and was taken in by the Hat Creek Company. Newt looks up to these men with idolatry. No one has ever told him who his father is, and he theorizes that it’s Jake. Call won’t admit to it not out of shame of Newt but that it showed he was weak enough at one time to love a woman.

Call is a strong, stoic man who isn’t very likable. Gus is his opposite in his easy-going, friendly, outspoken nature. Their friendship works because they are so different and because Gus is the one person in the world who isn’t intimidated by Call. Both men subscribe to a code of honor and would gladly put their lives on the line for each other and the men who work for them.

The chronicles of the trip from southern Texas to Montana are so involved that they rope you in. There are so many different stories going on at the same time. Characters wander in and out and McMurtry manages to weave them into a wonderful tapestry that we end up caring about. We want to know if they will all make it to Montana. We care about each character and what is happening to them, from Lorena – the prostitute, to July Johnson the newlywed sheriff hunting down the man who murdered his town’s dentist, to Clara Allen, a woman running a ranch in the middle of Nebraska with two young daughters. By the end, we feel we have a stake in the journey. We have invested our time reading the book and we are rooting for the outcome.

There is no easy happiness here in this novel. It is a brutal, hard look at the American west. But it is a spectacular read!

I had watched the mini-series before reading this book and became very intrigued. I love the book even more. Don’t let the size intimidate you. It is well worth taking in the 945 pages!

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While You Were Sleeping: All The Lonely People…..

Written by Daniel G. Sullivan and Frederic LeBow
Directed by Jon Turteltaub

I had forgotten just how truly enjoyable and good While You Were Sleeping is until I had the opportunity to rewatch it. Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman are wonderful together, exuding chemistry and making their characters believable as they work their way to each other despite the obstacles in their path.

Bullock portrays Lucy, a lonely token collector in a token booth on Chicago’s El line. Every day she sees the same stranger pass by her (Pete portrayed by Peter Gallagher) and thinks that if he will just talk to her and get to know her, that her life will somehow change and be magical.

One day, Pete is mugged and pushed onto the train tracks. Lucy saves his life. Once at the hospital, the doctors are refusing to let her stay with him since she is not family. One of the nurses lies and says that she’s his fiancee so they will let her stay. This is where the fun and confusion begin. Lucy feelings are mixed after Pete lapses into a coma and Lucy inadvertently begins deceiving his family. She is torn between her guilt, and her longing for the warmth, love and acceptance that this family exudes.

Bullock’s performance is so strong and believable; she makes Lucy real to us and we can sympathize with her loneliness. She is an Eleanor Rigby character longing for a life different than her own. To that end, she keeps a valid passport on hand, yearning to get that first stamp in it, but unable to pry herself away from her mundane life and push herself into doing what she longs for.

As she finds the love and acceptance in Pete’s family, her guilt mounts, but so does her longing to be a part of their family. It’s when she meets his brother Jack that the sparks fly. Jack immediately senses that she is not really his brother’s type, but more of his type. Although he is immediately suspicious of her, the two of them bond and dance around each other, denying their true feelings since Lucy is supposedly his brother’s fiancee.

Pete eventually wakes up, and the movie gets even funnier here as Lucy manages to keep up the deception.

Bullock and Pullman make this whole movie. Their performances are outstanding. I have trouble with Peter Gallagher being someone that would be the object of somebody’s fantasies, since I don’t find him particularly handsome, but that’s just me. He’s in a coma for the majority of this movie, but the little bit of time we see of him near the end, he does a wonderful job as a man reborn with a new appreciation for life.

The rest of the supporting cast, including Jack Warden as Saul, a family friend who catches onto Lucy fairly early, Michael Rispoli as Lucy’s skeevy landlord, Joe Jr., Peter Boyle as Pete and Jack’s father, and Jason Bernard as Lucy’s boss and friend are all excellent and back up what is going on with 100% believability.

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Star Trek – The Next Generation: Lonely Among Us

Written by D.C. Fontana, Michael Halperin, and Tracy Torme
Directed by Cliff Bole

This extremely well-written Star Trek: The Next Generation first-season episode really made me pause and think about so much.

Lonely Among Us starts out in one direction as the Enterprise is transporting two warring alien species to mediate their dispute at a place known as Parliament. The trip is eventful enough trying to keep the representatives apart when the Enterprise encounters an energy cloud.

After making a close sensor sweep of the energy cloud, a strange force seems to travel though various members of the crew. Strange occurrences also begin to take place, such as the warp drive deciding to stop working for no apparent reason.

Once the alien force takes hold of Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart), he orders the Enterprise to return to the coordinates of the energy cloud. The crew helplessly stands by and watches as they know their Captain is not behaving normally, but by regulation he has done nothing that would put the ship in danger.

What makes the episode so intriguing is the alien/Picard’s desire to live as a pure energy being. What he describes essentially sounds like taking one’s soul out of the body and living in the universe outside of that.

Is this death? The body is gone, but the soul in the form of pure energy lives on? What a thought-provoking concept. It intrigued me enough that I thought about this story for days after watching it again. Could our soul just be this sort of energy with the ability to inhabit our bodies for a period of time? Is “death” an existence like this pure energy? We are told heaven is just so different from what we know that it cannot be described to us. Could it be living as an energy being – a form we cannot relate to living as humans?

In the end, Picard’s energy returns to the ship and the body is re-created using the pattern logged in the transporter. Conveniently, of course, this also renders him unable to recall anything that happened to him once he transported off the ship.

The profoundness of the writing in this episode is extraordinary for the first season episodes. The depth with which the spiritual question is asked is tremendous. Unfortunately, what makes this episode not work to its potential is the schizophrenic nature of the episode itself. The warring aliens attempt to provide comedy, yet it seems more like it is an entirely different episode going on within the other one. Even Picard’s description – while under the influence of the alien – of what life is like as an energy being must be cut short for the timing of the episode. I would’ve liked to have heard more of that and less about the aliens.

The crew’s seeming impotence in the face of their Captain’s possession by the alien also seemed ridiculous. We can see that the Captain is not rational – he continuously talks about being “too busy” to respond to the crew’s requests that he go for medical and psychiatric evaluations. All he seemed to do during this time he was “too busy” was stare out the ship’s porthole in his ready room and sit at his desk with his feet up. One time when he declares himself “too busy” he then stretches back in his chair and puts his feet up. It seemed as if he was daring the crew to challenge him.

Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) as his First Officer and Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden) should have removed him from command before he had the chance to put the ship in danger. Instead, they chose a wait-and-see attitude. If I were Picard once I returned to the Enterprise, I’d send every last one of them back to Starfleet Academy to take their Officers’ Training over again.

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Rail Trails of New Hampshire – The Winnepesaukee and Northern Rail Trails

Winnepesaukee River in Tilton

Rail Trails have become popular recreational sites in many communities across the country. Railroads that have fallen into disuse and been abandoned have been converted into recreational trails. In some spots, the rails are still in place with a trail next to it. In others, the rails and ties have been ripped up and the trail graded. These trails have the advantage of generally being accessible to all kinds of activity and to people in wheelchairs or scooters as well.

In some ways I find this very sad. In the West, Chinese immigrants were largely responsible for railroad construction. In the East, it was Irish immigrants. Both were driven hard and often abused to the point that many workers died giving us a series of railroads that criss-crossed the country and changed how we lived. Now those railroads are being ripped up.

On the other hand, at least instead of just becoming abandoned and overgrown, at least communities are turning these trails into something for the community. In some cases, they also have a bit of a history lesson.

A bit of history on the Northern Rail Trail

The first rail trail I ventured to this morning was the Winnepesaukee Rail Trail or Winnepesaukee River Trail. This trail runs alongside tracks still in place, generally between those tracks and the WInnepesaukee River. The total length is about 5 miles between Tilton and Franklin.

Although rated as “wheelchair accessible,” I found it to be a little rough for someone in a wheelchair or scooter, even a scooter with the larger “all terrain” wheels. The section I was on was mostly crushed gravel and dirt and was quite uneven. I found three geocaches in this section of the trail, going under Interstate 93 and beyond from Tilton.

The Northern Rail Trail is quite different and much nicer. The tracks here have been ripped up and the tracks area graded, leaving behind a smooth, wide path stretching more than 57 miles from Boscawen to Lebanon. I walked 3 miles in each direction from the eastern and of the trail near Webster Lake. As you can see in the pictures above, it was flat and pretty smooth. In the winter it’s used by snowmobilers, cross-country skiers, and snowshoers. Once the snow is gone, it’s opened up for walking, running, bicycles, and horseback riding. The picture on the upper right shows a private access trail from a stable to the rail trail and there were plenty of hoof-prints on the trail today.

I encountered few people on the trail at this time. It was wide enough for us to distance from each other as we passed. Many people were walking their dogs along the trail. If I were better on my bicycle, I would definitely think about riding here. It’s so flat and smooth that it makes it easy for any skill level to ride on the trail. It’s also conducive for people in wheelchairs as well as motorized scooters.

White River Junction 48 miles

I was here for geocaching, of course. There are quite a number of geocaches along the trail. Some are “challenge caches” where you have to accomplish a specific task before you can find the geocache. Most of them are straight-forward caches hanging in trees along the trail. What’s nice here is that since the rail trail is elevated, the geocaches are close to the trail rather than having to search further away from the trail. I found a total of 19 caches today on the trail.

Another history lesson on the trail


If your community has a rail trail or a recreational trail, it’s a great way to get out and get some exercise. If your community has some abandoned railroad tracks, why not look into what it takes to turn it into a community recreational trail? The longer ones, especially, are a draw for tourists, especially us crazy geocachers.

Star Trek – The Next Generation: The Last Outpost

Written by Herbert Wright, Richard Krzemien, and Tracy Torme
Directed by Richard Colla

The most wonderful thing about the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode The Last Outpost is that it introduces us to a race which will be featured not only later on in this series, but very prominently in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

All that is known of the Ferengi at this point are rumors and conjecture. During this episode we learn of their profit above all else philosophy: caveat emptor.

The Enterprise is pursuing the Ferengis after they snatched an energy converter. The ship is stopped in its pursuit and the power is being drained. At first, Picard believes the Ferengi are behind the situation and that the Federation has greatly underestimated the depth of Ferengi technology.

I felt at this point that Picard was written too weak. Too quickly, it seemed that he was willing to discuss terms for surrender with the Ferengi. To compare it to the original Star Trek series, I don’t believe Kirk would have thought of surrendering as quickly. This also does not seem to be the Captain Picard we know later in the series who will battle the Borg and mediate in a Klingon Civil War.

The crew of the Enterprise soon learn that the Ferengi are in the same predicament. Picard negotiates an agreement to work together to solve the problem of the power drain. The two ships were so caught up in the situation between the two of them that they failed to notice what was happening on the planet around which they are orbiting. The planet is believed to be the last outpost of an ancient civilization – the Tkon Empire – which once numbered in the trillions.

Riker, Worf, Tasha, and Geordi beam down to the planet surface. It is at this time they learn of the actual size of the Ferengi – they are quite a bit shorter than humans. This makes for a somewhat humorous bit when the two landing parties begin to scuffle with each other. A guardian of the portal appears and challenges the two landing parties. The Ferengi try to deceive the guardian, but Riker approaches him honestly and manages to get power restored to the Enterprise just in time to prevent the crew from losing life support completely.

There was one well-written subtle analogy in this episode of Data playing with the Chinese yo-yo (or finger toy as it’s called here). With both fingers in as he pulled, neither of his hands would become free. However, when he gave with one side, both managed to free-up. This was a great analogy to the situation. The writers never directly refer to it; there is no time when Picard says, “Hey, this is just like Data’s finger toy!” Rather, it’s just put out there for people to pick up on their own.

The one main inconsistency I found was the value that is placed on gold here. In the Star Trek universe, the emphasis is placed on gold-presses latinum, and not the gold itself. It is said that gold is “worthless” and that the latinum is tremendously valuable.

As far as first-season episodes go, this one was pretty good. The writing is good, even though we know the Enterprise will ultimately escape. Only Picard seems to be out-of-character for a Captain. The rest of the crew seem to be consistently written. There is a hint at a deeper relationship between Picard and Dr. Crusher, but little information other than the continued hints are given here.

This was a great introduction to the Ferengi race, and the writers of Star Trek really made the most of it here and in the future!

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Corona Virus Diaries – April 10, 2020

Yes, that’s snow in my backyard. About three inches of heavy, wet snow fell late yesterday. It’s more annoying than anything, although one of our small birch trees fell across the driveway. It didn’t hit anything, luckily.

Our county bounced up to 23 confirmed cases of COVID-19. That’s four more than it was at the beginning of the week. Still, when I look at places like the metropolitan NYC area, I can’t complain. My son has Crohn’s disease and receives infusions of remicaide to keep it in remission. I know he’s immunocompromised, but he usually fends off any colds or viruses better than the rest of us do in the house, so I wasn’t too worried that he still wanted to go to work. He works the drive-thru at McDonald’s, usually handing people their order and not taking money. We’d had a conversation about using hand sanitizer frequently, especially if someone handed something back to him for any reason. Yesterday he had a virtual doctor’s appointment with his specialist. She advised him to stay home. I could see his whole body sink with disappointment. He just loves that job. She told him flat out that if he got the virus it could kill him because of the remicaide suppressing his immune system. Even though I’m his legal guardian (he’s on the autism spectrum) I really wanted this to be his decision. We gave him overnight to think about it, but last night I called him upstairs and told him that if he decided to continue working, I was watching the number of infected people in the county and if it bounced up, I would tell him he was staying home from now on. When he woke up this morning he’d decided to stay home from work.

I know everyone is saying “Yay, good decision.” My thought, though, is the virus isn’t going anywhere. This isn’t a case of all of us staying home and it will go away like magic (despite what Orange Caligula says). Sooner or later we’re all likely going to have contact with it. Are we just putting off the inevitable? Who knows? None of us have a crystal ball. I lost one child already and losing another would kill me, and I do mean that literally, but I am at peace with the fact that I have no control over this and will accept whatever happens in the long run. I’m not afraid of dying.

Since we had a rainy/snowy day yesterday we did indoor activities. My granddaughter and I colored Easter eggs. She played Go Fish with her Poppy. I made beef stroganoff for dinner, using a new recipe for the Instant Pot. I wasn’t too thrilled with it. I think the sauce was too thin and there ended up being too much of the sauce compared to the beef and mushrooms. It wasn’t bad, though.

Now I have to worry about keeping Danny occupied as well. I don’t want him to just hang out in the basement playing video games and I have to watch for depression. I told him he can help keep Boo busy the next few weeks. We’re trying to figure out other things for her to do away from the television. I have Highlights books for her age level that just came in too. We’ll make it through, but every day is a challenge.

Star Trek – The Next Generation: Where No One Has Gone Before

Written by Diane Duane, Michael Reaves, Johnny Dawkins, and Tracy Torme
Directed by Rob Bowman

When looking at the credits for this first-season episode, I immediately realized why it worked so much better than others I’d watched. One of the co-writers on this story is Diane Duane, who has written some of the best Star Trek novels I’ve read.

An arrogant “propulsion expert” is beamed aboard the Enterprise, along with his assistant, to fine-tune the engines in the hopes of achieving better performance. Kosinski is so believably portrayed by Stanley Kamel. He comes off as the typical people I’ve witnessed who have come in with the arrogance that they are the greatest gift to a corporation. Usually, they end up driving it into the ground.

In many ways, that becomes the case here. His own arrogance is in many ways Kosinski’s undoing. As he and his assistant enter engineering with Chief Engineer Argyle and Commander Riker, he acts as if he owns the place and talks down to both Riker and Argyle.

His assistant is a much more likable alien from the planet Tal-Alpha-C. His name is unpronounceable in our language. Wesley Crusher is in Engineering doing a school project, and the two of them develop a natural rapport with each other.

Everything seems to go haywire, however, as a trial run of the fine-tuning is performed. The Enterprise is transported over 2,700,000 light years away from home – a distance which would take 300 light years to return from at full-warp. Only Wesley witnesses the phasing in and our of our reality of the Assistant during the trial run.

Kosinski is so arrogant about his apparent success in pushing past the Warp 10 barrier, he has dreams of a new speed scale titled “The Kosinski Scale”. He is not worried about getting home, only the adulation that is due him.

After an attempt to return falters, so does Kosinski. Watching him unravel somewhat leaves the viewer smirking. Meanwhile, his assistant is dying, having exhausted all of his strength. Wesley tries to tell Commander Riker what he witnessed, but Riker dismisses him.

The Enterprise has landed in an uncharted area of space – someplace where thought and reality are merging and strange things begin happening on the ship.

The Assistants true self is revealed – he is an alien “Traveler” who was using Kosinski and his abilities as a way to study humans. Before this time, his race considered them too primitive and uninteresting to be bothered with.

Before he makes a final attempt to send the Enterprise back home, the Traveler has a word with Captain Picard about Wesley. During their time together, the Traveler has seen that Wesley is a prodigy and has insights that are truly gifted and not normally seen in a boy of his age. He urges Picard to use this opportunity to help guide Wesley, but not to tell him about what has been said.

To send the Enterprise back, the crew is told to “center their thoughts on duty”. I found this to be an almost Peter-Pan like moment of “think happy thoughts”.

As the Traveler uses his abilities to send the Enterprise back to its point of origin, he phases completely out of their reality.

I thought this episode was interesting. It set up a lot of potential in Wesley that I think was wasted in later episodes. The concept of The Traveler was a great addition, and was carried off very well. The writing was great, especially the part about space and time and thought aren’t separate things they appear to be. The concepts here were stated clearly and without giving me a headache.

There was humor too, mostly in the shape of Kosinsky, but also when the strange things began appearing on the Enterprise. When a Klingon “targ” appears on the bridge next to Worf and he explains that it’s the Klingon version of a kitty cat, it’s a fairly humorous moment. (Even though this hints of Worf’s childhood being on the Klingon homeworld, something we find out didn’t happen in later episodes).

An exceptional piece of acting is also to be noted in Patrick Stewart’s portrayal of Picard as he is talking with his “mother”. I thought this was a tremendous piece of work pulled off with such clarity by Stewart. I have always felt that he was the best “Captain” and small scenes like these tucked away in episodes only confirm it.

There was one strange thing in the episode. When Picard is giving his “think happy thoughts” speech, the scenes switch to different crew members around the ship listening to him. At one point, we see a middle-aged male Asian crewmember in what appears to be the Starfleet uniform with the skirt. I thought it was odd, and I actually watched the scene a few times making sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me.

This episode ranks as one of the best of the first season. Unfortunately, that is not saying much.

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