A deeper look at Star Trek’s android expressions.

In an episode of the sixth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation titled “Schisms,” Lieutenant Commander Data shows off his understanding of the human practice of poetic composition by reciting some of his own.

It’s interesting to hear Data’s Seussian tone when reading his works out loud.


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How people are making amazing games in just one day

Making a game is impressive enough, but making a game in days, or even 24 hours, is mind-boggling. So much effort goes into the creation of a videogame, from concept and design to programming and troubleshooting, that compressing all of that down into such a short timeframe should be impossible, and yet, nearly every weekend, people are spinning out these fantastically fun feats.

These incredible sprints of creativity are called game jams. Originally started in 2002 by Chris Hecker and Sean Barrett, a game jam is a game-making contest that lasts between 24 and 48 hours. The name comes from “jam sessions” in music, where people gather and play not-fully-finished songs just for the fun of it. …


Sherlock Holmes jumpstarts fandom, despite his creator’s wishes.

A picture of people walking along the street in front of the storefront for the Sherlock Holmes Museum in London.
A picture of people walking along the street in front of the storefront for the Sherlock Holmes Museum in London.
The Sherlock Holmes Museum is still a wildly popular location to visit in London today. What might Doyle think of his detective’s impact? Via Wikimedia Commons.

There’s some debate over what the first “official” fandom was in the modern sense of there being a community cropping up around a specific piece of media. Most people agree that the best place to start looking for the real original modern fandom is to look at the first pieces of widely published and consumed media, which were serial fiction pieces published in magazines rather than expensive-to-produce bound books. One of the first series in this format to blow up spectacularly, to the point of still being wildly popular to this day, are the original tales of Sherlock Holmes.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle originally published his stories about the legendary detective that could tell you your life story from a single look in the Strand Magazine, a popular London literature periodical in the 1800s and early 1900s. In this popular format, these episodic adventures nearly always ended on a cliffhanger in order to interest readers in buying the next magazine so that they could read the next part of the story. None of the other stories in this format had as huge an impact on the public as Holmes’ exploits. Readers were rabid for the next installment. …


A colorful antique tapestry depicting Aeneas’ flight from Troy.
A colorful antique tapestry depicting Aeneas’ flight from Troy.
Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed, CC BY-SA 4.0. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Most heroes of Greek and Roman epics are defined by a single, prominent trait of theirs. The Iliad’s Achilles was courageous, The Odyssey’s Odysseus was cunning, and The Aeneid’s Aeneas was dutiful.

But maybe this defining trait was assigned unjustly. Aeneas shirks his duties to the city of Carthage and its queen, Dido, massively, devastatingly, by leaving the city to falter and fail instead of helping it to rise. He may have fulfilled his destiny, according to the gods, but ultimately, he failed in his duty to his people, and to Dido.

Aeneas Flees to Carthage

In the second book of the Aeneid, we witness a flashback to the fall of Troy, through the eyes of our hero. We learn about the tragedy he and his men faced, the pure destruction of the city, the death of the king, and, most chillingly, we witness the ghost of Creusa, Aeneas’ wife, killed in the fires of the Greeks. …


Some easy alternatives to big-name entertainment shopping.

A small shopping cart with bags in it sits on top of a laptop.
A small shopping cart with bags in it sits on top of a laptop.
Image by Preis_King from Pixabay

In an age dominated by huge, faceless corporations that deny basic rights to their employees, there’s never been a bigger push to shop independently. Small businesses are frequently better not just in terms of ethical principality, but in quality of product as well.

Aside from the obvious solution of shopping directly from the online storefronts of independent businesses (please definitely keep doing this), here are three alternatives to larger entertainment shopping.

A quick note: I do include links to each of the sites listed below, but I am not sponsored by them nor have I been asked to promote them. I am providing these recommendations independently; the only incentive I have is helping people, and the only referral link included, for Libro.fm, is done without compensation beyond what I describe below. …


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Learning to be happy alone on the open sea in Raft

Somewhere in the middle of the vast, empty sea, a single square of broken planks and plastic bottles floats. A person, alone, sits atop it with nothing more than a hook for scavenging the bits of debris that float by to fashion themselves a better home.


A hardcover of the book sits on an orange scarf beside a red rose, on a red background.
A hardcover of the book sits on an orange scarf beside a red rose, on a red background.
The funny thing about roses is that they have thorns. Image by the Author.

I’m not usually a huge fan of prequels to a completed series. When this book was announced, I’ll admit, I was intrigued but not optimistic.

The Hunger Games trilogy was the catalyst for an entire generation of YA novel series and the instigator for the YA dystopian subgenre’s sudden and continued mass popularity. Katniss’ story of survival and rebellion against a tyrannical and scheming government, her struggles with mental and physical illness on top of the pressures thrown on her of being a figurehead in a war she was too young to fight, and her desperate fight to maintain the friendships and family bonds that drive her at the most basic level was absolutely astounding to me when I first read it. …


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Via Grammarly.

On December 30, 2020, Grammarly sent its users a newsletter titled “Communication Trends of 2020.” They detailed the results on their blog, but in the original email, similar to users’ usual personal statistic report, Grammarly showed some of the changes in their data that they thought were significant for the year.


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A beautiful game keeps getting better with the 1.5 update

The most recent update to Stardew Valley was the biggest expansion yet. Introducing a brand new character, a new farm map, new character cutscenes and flavor text, a new area, and a new achievable for completing the game at 100%, it essentially acts as a full-on expansion pack for the game.

There are also a few somewhat silly updates (that I still adore). Ducks can now swim. You can sit in the chairs. There’s new music to enjoy and a few new upgrades you can add to your house.


A small, dark, 19th century-style  room with a raven statue in front of a sunlit window.
A small, dark, 19th century-style  room with a raven statue in front of a sunlit window.
Poe’s dorm room at the University of Virginia, now used for induction into the Raven Society. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Edgar Allan Poe’s famous work of existential horror begins as many stories typical of the genre do, on “a midnight dreary” in “the bleak December,” so described by the reader’s host for the duration of the story, a man haunted by the memories of his lost love Lenore in the late hours.

He’s visited by a raven, who sits upon a bust of Pallas over his door, repeating the phrase Nevermore over and over, as the answer to every increasingly panicked question posed by the tortured speaker, even as he begs the raven to leave him.

The poem ends ambiguously with the raven still perched upon the bust to this day. Macabre and fantastic, “The Raven” presents a story with plenty to unpack and is an interesting piece to analyze in the light of a commentary on the afterlife and the effect of grief on the mind. …

About

Cat Webling

Hello! I’m Cat, author and amateur fandom historian based out of Georgia. I write about literature, theater, gaming, and fandom. Personal work: catwebling.com.

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