XPRIZE Gives Awards — The Tricorder Is Real!

It has been 50 years since the end of the first season of Star Trek. The fantastic, futuristic world presented to us by Gene Roddenberry was full of technology that would boggle the minds … of people in the 1960s. However, less of a prophet and more of a pioneer, Roddenberry inspired generations of scientists and engineers to make that world a reality much sooner than expected. Some of those technologies, like mobile phones, have become almost ubiquitous. Others, like warp drives, are still theoretical, but on the cusp of reality.

One thing that has eluded us to this point is the medical marvel that is the tricorder. Half a century has passed since being introduced to the portable diagnosis machine, and there still hasn’t been much to show for it.

Until now.

Enter the X Prize Foundation. The organization, founded in 1995, seeks to promote innovation through competition. The first competition held was for private organizations and individuals to fly into space. Since then, there have been many others, including the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE. Announced in 2011, the challenge officially began on 10 January 2012. The devices would have to be portable, non-invasive, and diagnose over a dozen predetermined medical conditions.

Now with the competition complete, of the seven final teams from around the world, two winners were crowned on 13 April 2017. They were awarded cash prizes as well as assistance in developing their products.

Final Frontier Medical Devices team

The first place winners, taking home a prize of $2.5 million dollars, was Final Frontier Medical Devices. The Pennsylvania-based team was led by two brothers, emergency medical physician Dr. Basil Harris and network engineer George Harris. Their creation is called DxtER (pronounced “Dexter”), and it can operate autonomously or share information with healthcare providers at the discretion of the user. Truly the epitome of classic, free market, garage level innovation, the group was comprised of family and friends giving of their time and expertise to bring the marvel to life. DxtER uses an A.I. platform utilizing a combination of years of clinical emergency medical experience and data from actual patients with a variety of conditions.

Dynamical Biomarkers Group team

Second place, and a $1 million dollar payout, went to Taiwan-based Dynamical Biomarkers Group, who had sponsorship from mobile phone giant HTC. The team was led by an Associate Professor from Harvard Medical School, Chung-Kang Peng, Ph.D, and included experts from a wide variety of disciplines. Although the device is a bit larger than the winner, it is still extremely portable and is powered by a user-friendly smartphone app.

DxtER being tested.

With the advent of these new technologies, the future of medicine becomes brighter in multiple ways. Emergency rooms and doctors’ offices would no longer be bogged down by people simply needing a diagnosis for themselves or their children, freeing up resources for patients with more immediate and pressing needs. Areas where medical care is at a premium or nonexistent will be able to be better served. Those who are adventuring or traveling where no medical care is available can still receive basic medical care. It even opens the door to better monitoring technology for athletics, allowing coaches and trainers to better watch and assess performance issues in athletes.

On a more personal side, I have been dreaming up as of late a way to provide full clinical examinations where a doctor is not on site. It could be for patients in quarantine, where the doctor is at a remote location from the patient (such as Arctic and Antarctic explorers and researchers), or even for astronauts exploring deep space (such as journeying to Mars) when exams can’t even be done in real time. In those cases, observation and auscultation are fairly simple, but percussion and palpation are prohibitively difficult. Such developments as have come out of the X Prize Challenge bring such a project closer to reality.

Dynamical Biomarkers Group product test.

I would like to offer my congratulations to the winning teams, Final Frontier Medical Devices and Dynamical Biomarkers Group, for their innovation and achievement. And I offer my utmost and sincerest thanks to the X Prize Foundation for their efforts to bring out the innovation to make this possible, as well as to all of the teams who took part in the challenge and brought Gene Roddenberry’s vision to life. The world will be a better place thanks to all of you.



Episode 416 “What If…”
Written by DJ Doyle
Directed by Oz Scott

The Triskelion is intact! Skye is back! Ward is back! Tahiti is back! It’s old home week, as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. brings back a few elements of season one — and actually uses them in a way that makes the whole episode much more interesting that most of the entire first season. Even Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) is watchable in this episode! Of course, it’s no surprise that he’s a turncoat still, even in this made up virtual universe.

And poor Jemma (Elizabeth Henstridge). After being dumped in the bottom of the ocean, almost drowned, stranded on an alien planet… now she’s a zombie.

In the tradition of Marvel’s What If…? series of comic books telling stories in alternate universes, tonight’s episode sets up a world in which everything is topsy-turvy. How much do our heroes realize they’re supposed to be the heroes and not the villains? How much will Coulson (Clark Gregg) remember?

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The panel: Maia Ades, Mindy Inlow, Dan Handley, Sam Sentman, Tim Harvey, Jason Hunt





“The End” for GRIMMLY SPEAKING? It’s a GRIMM Life

Episode 6:13 “The End”
Written by David Greenwalt & Jim Kouf
Directed by David Greenwalt 

[recap by Maia Ades]

Here it is, my last Grimm episode post. We may do a series wrap up at a later date, but this is the last episode and last post covering one of the episodes. Overall I think the writers did a good job of wrapping this series up. I have some niggling issues with some of their choices, but it did bring the story to a conclusion.

Talk about cramming story in. This episode is still only 43 minutes long. I thought since it was the series finale that they might make it a longer episode. Instead they put it all in one regular length show. It manages, to not only give us some catch up scenes of what came before, flash backs of bits from the original pilot, it also manages to have the final battle and resolve it all in the end. And that is probably the highest compliment I can pay this episode. It manages to wrap up a series that has been playing out its storylines for the past five and half seasons. It does a fairly good job of resolving many loose ends. It doesn’t go back and resolve story ideas from some of the first seasons, but I’ll forgive them at this point.

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Grimm has been building to a huge showdown, an ultimate battle for the world as we know it. Or actually the world Grimm has built, which, let’s be clear, is not the same world I live in.  So, they had to give us a pay off for the long build up to that. They also had to leave their audience with an ending that they would be happy with. This ending probably didn’t make everyone happy, but if they’d left all our favorite characters dead, there just might have been riots in the streets.

(Photo by: Allyson Riggs/NBC)

My biggest peeves with this episode were the breaking of their own rules and the final, “Twenty Years Later” part. By my count Nick (David Giuntoli) offered the stick to the Devil twice. I thought that the rule was, Nick had to give the stick to him. Well, he tried to, twice. I don’t know why that wasn’t the end of it. It would have been a very unsatisfying ending. True. But the way it played out, they weren’t following their own rules. That always bothers me. If you create a world, create rules for that world and then break them, what was the point of making the rules? Why did the Devil bring Trubel (Jacqueline Toboni) back to life? It did not serve him well. Why would he give Nick an ally to use against him?

Have you seen It’s a Wonderful Life? The end reminded me of that movie. Nick experienced the deaths of everyone that was important to him, and then they were all given back to him. Okay, everyone doesn’t die in the movie, but somehow it felt similar. I expect he will go on to live the end of his days not taking them or their friendship for granted. I do like that there are some key details that are different in the two times Nick comes flying through the mirror. The second time, Eve/Juliette (Elizabeth Tulloch) retained her Hexenbiest powers. Trubel goes to Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) and Rosalee’s (Bree Turner) house, instead of to the Spice Shop. Adalind was not wearing Bonaparte’s ring, because Nick took it off her after she was dead, and Diana (Hannah R. Loyd) remembered what happened. Oh, and of course, the Spear of Destiny made the trip through the mirror with Nick and Eve.

(Photo by: Allyson Riggs/NBC)

The whole thing at the very end with the kids now as adults seemed unnecessary. We see now grown up Kelly writing his dad’s story in the Grimm book. Not surprising that he embellished the story. While Nick is to be credited with saving the situation, he did have his weak moments. He did turn his back on his duty as a Grimm. He tried to give the stick to the Devil. In fact, if it weren’t for first Trubel taking him on and then the spirits of both his Mother and Aunt, he would have given up. He also could not have defeated the Devil without the aid of all three women.

I never did get my Baby Jack Jack moment with baby Kelly. I so wanted that. Seeing Kelly as a handsome young man did not make up for it. I still felt cheated out of that.

Can we be honest? Diana is creepy. That child could give anyone nightmares. Which makes it a bit odd when Renard (Sasha Roiz) and Adalind (Claire Coffee) agree that she is their shining achievement. That child has created a lot of chaos and death. That’s before the whole issue of the Devil coming to claim her for his bride. People were dying because of her before she was even born. Then more people died trying to either get her or protect her as a tiny infant. I wonder what her teenage years were like?

(Photo by: Allyson Riggs/NBC)

In the flash forward, we learn that Monroe and Rosalee’s triplets arrived safe and sound. But we don’t get to see them. They’re just mentioned in passing. I didn’t need to see them. But then, I didn’t need to see adult Kelly and Diana. It really could have ended with the group hug. I’d have been fine with that. Was that part necessary to other audience members? Did you feel the need to see how the kids grew up? Did you need to know that for some reason, Kelly is the one writing his Dad’s story twenty years after it happened? We’ve seen Nick adding to the Grimm books after various encounters. Why would this story have been different? Why would he not have written down his own story shortly after his re-entry through the mirror? Yes, it’s cool that his son is carrying on the tradition. I just don’t understand why he’s writing that story and not his own.

Well Grimmsters, it’s been quite a ride. Thanks for following along with me. It’s been an honor and privilege to share with you my thoughts and critiques of each episode. Maybe I’ll see you at a comic-con some day and we can chat about a Grimm world.


ONCE UPON A TIME Rumpelstiltskin Was A … Hero?

Episode 613 “Ill-Boding Patterns”
Written by Andrew Chambliss & Dana Horgan
Directed by Ron Underwood

In this episode, there were villains, heroes showing villainous tendencies, and the most heroic character was … a villain.

You know things are really screwy when the most heroic character of the episode is Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle)! But they made it work and work well. And the inclusion of previously and traditionally heroic characters as villains is certainly not uncommon on Once Upon A Time. In this case, there were more than one. Now granted, they’ve given Rumple a heroic arc before, but it was sadly short lived and didn’t take the time to explore that aspect of the character. So it’s good to see them touching on it every now and then.

Beowulf (Torstein Bjørklund), who was initially a good guy before becoming vindictive toward Rumple, is a good example. He even faked the existence of Grendel to bait him into a trap. Of course this was after Rumple committed genocide wiping out so many of the ogres. But not all, as it was implied, since it was also billed as the First Ogre War. But it was enough to get Beowulf irked to the point of wanting to kill the Dark One in revenge for stealing his thunder.

Now THAT’S a knife! (ABC/Eike Schroter)

Then there’s Baelfire (Brandon Spink), Rumple’s own son, who at first tried to prevent his father from doing evil, then himself ordered him (using the dagger of course) to kill Beowulf. Then he started wanting Rumple to go out and get revenge on more people. So Rumple gave him a memory potion where he would forget about using the dagger altogether.

Granted, it was early in Rumple’s time as the Dark One. But it still seems weird to have him as the hero more than as the villain. His whole giving in to darkness was supposedly to help people, which later turned him into pure evil. It seems every Dark One became so originally by trying to be altruistic. It’s good to see that even the most over-the-top villains are given believable origins.

Still, even in Storybrooke, he was trying to do the right things. He tried to give the memory potion to Gideon (Giles Matthey) so he would stop trying to be the Savior and seek revenge on the Black Fairy (Keegan Connor Tracy). Failing that (and being forced to reveal that it was the Blue Fairy that forged the sword), he saved the Blue Fairy from Gideon; although it was after he forced her to reforge the sword. I just hope they can keep a bit of the hero arc going so we can explore that side of the character that we were robbed of previously.

She’s ba-a-ack! (ABC/Eike Schroter)

It’s also good to see the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) back, and that Regina (also Lana Parrilla) accepts that this Robin (Sean Maguire) is a different one than she loved before. Now that frees the two Reginas to go head-to-head.

And Emma (Jennifer Morrison) finding the ring and getting engaged to Killian (Colin O’Donoghue) who killed her grandfather? I actually look forward to when she finds out.

I’m loving the Rumpelstiltskin hero arc. And I’m looking forward to the twin Reginas clashing again. I just hope that all the clashes aren’t going to overwhelm each other and weaken each other’s story lines.


Once Upon a Time airs Sunday nights at 8/7c on ABC.

ONCE UPON A TIME Captain Hook Was the Voice of Reason

Episode 612 “Murder Most Foul”
Written by Jane Espenson & Jerome Schwartz
Directed by Morgan Beggs

I really enjoyed this episode’s transformations, role reversal, and characteristic twist ending.

Okay, this whole Snow/David (Gennifer Goodwin/Josh Dallas) Ladyhawke subplot needs to come to an end. It was great for a while. It’s overstayed its usefulness. Somehow, the curse needs to be lifted. Leaving video messages for each other before trading consciousness, although romantic in the way that they do anything to make it work, has become tiresome. It’s past time to move on.

With that out of the way, the rest of the episode was pretty good. We got an excellent dramatic performance from Josh Dallas and a nice twist ending. With the Gideon plot somewhat sidestepped for this week, it made the two other story lines more presentable.

This is the second consecutive episode featuring August/Pinocchio (Eion Bailey). The circumstances are completely different in both. It almost feels like he was either being shoehorned in, or they’re setting him up for a major role in the last part of the season. I really hope it’s the latter. They’ve forced characters into stories rather oddly too many times over the course of the series. With the current story line getting ready to wrap up at the end of the season, I hope there are actually plans for Archie (Raphael Sbarge) and August, who have been appearing a bit more.

When William Tell doesn’t have an apple to shoot at, he’ll shoot at sleeves. (ABC/Jack Rowand)

I’m intrigued at where they are going with the Robin Hood (Sean Maguire) subplot. At first it seemed a cheap way to reintroduce a dead character. But the idea that it’s clearly not the Robin they know makes for an interesting potential wild card. Taking a magic box from Regina’s (Lana Parilla) vault only deepens the mystery surrounding the new version. The previous incarnation of Robin of Locksley was a bit of a whiner. This one seems dangerous. And much more interesting. Especially when he’s trying to kill Keith (Wil Traval), aka the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Redemption arcs seem to work well on Once Upon A Time. The flashback to David’s father is no exception. Having been told that his father, Robert (David Cubitt), died a worthless drunk, seeing the opposite was quite refreshing. Being forced to sell one of his twin sons to Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) to become a son of and heir to the king in order to pay for medicine to save the other, Robert seemed like a coward. But when he risked his life to save his former son, turned prince, from Paradise Island and pleading with King George (Alan Dale) to allow him to take his son back showed heroism. And he gained sobriety in the process. Ordering Robert’s execution only made the king/Albert appear all that much worse.

A son and imaginary father bonding moment. (ABC/Jack Rowand)

But the highlight of the episode was David’s complete meltdown. Upon finding out about his father’s bravery and King George ordering his death because of it, he went to confront Albert at the mental hospital for a duel to the death. The fight was interesting to watch. The thing that got me though was that it was a knife fight, but wasn’t choreographed as a knife fight. It was more like a sword fight with baby swords. Killian (Colin O’Donoghue) broke up the fight and talked David down. The pirate had truly changed his ways. For David to have gone overboard and Killian to be the voice of reason was an interesting and refreshing change of pace. The hallucinations that David experienced of his father were a bit odd though.

Of course, there was that ending. King George’s men didn’t kill Robert. Pirates, led by Captain Hook, intercepted them. Killian killed Robert and then made it look like a drunken accident. So what happens when the word gets out what really happened? Killian just got David’s blessing to ask Emma to marry him. This could be … well, awkward.

I’m looking forward to seeing how Pinocchio plays into the final episodes. Please tell me he wasn’t just pointlessly shoehorned in. And please bring an end to that infernal sleeping spell! It worked for a while, but it’s run its course and now it needs to stop.


Once Upon a Time airs Sunday nights at 8/7c on ABC.

ONCE UPON A TIME Emma Changed Her Fate … Or Did She?

Episode 611 “Tougher Than The Rest”
Written by Adam Horowitz & Edward Kitsis
Directed by Billy Gierhart

This week’s episode is inspired by a twisted version of a classic tale. But at least in this case, they admit it’s a twisted version. And it was done to great effect. The tale was The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Anderson.

As a young girl living under a bridge having run away from a group home, Emma was met by an older boy as she was ripping pages out of a storybook and using them for kindling. He stopped her just before she burned the aforementioned tale, explaining that the “ugly duckling” believed in itself so much that it changed its fate and became a swan. Young Emma tried correcting him that it was always a swan. But the lad, who we would later find out was a young Pinocchio, said it wasn’t how it was told to him. Thus, not only did it inspire young Emma to adopt the last name “Swan”, it also set up the overarching theme for the episode.

In Wish World, Emma and Regina blew any chance of using the portal to get back when they were held up by Robin Hood. I love the fact that it only stretched this particular subplot for one episode. Historically, such things would last so long, it would rival the milking of subplots on Dragonball Z. But this season, they’ve been much better about moving things along.

A former puppet making puppets. (ABC/Jack Rowand)

Emma got the idea to seek out Pinocchio in Wish World to build a wardrobe (like Geppetto did for baby Emma) that would send them back to Storybrooke, since he dismantled the original years ago. Regina ditched them to go looking for Robin Hood.

Except that Robin Hood was actually Robin of Locksley and he stole from the rich and … kept it. Hopefully this reintroduction will be a less whiny version than the last one. After all, his version of Marian died before they could marry.

The two got captured by the Sheriff of Nottingham before being “freed” by Rumpelstiltskin. Then as revenge on the Wish World Evil Queen for locking Belle away and starving her to death, he decided to take it out on Regina. He threw her and Robin in a prison … from which Robin could escape.

Emma and Pinocchio found an enchanted tree which he could carve a wardrobe from. He had a magic chisel handed down from Geppetto since non-magical items couldn’t affect magic wood. But in an encounter with an old, drunk Captain Hook with a big gut, the chisel was broken. Eventually, Emma convinced Pinocchio that if he truly believed, he could be the woodcarver his father was and wouldn’t need an enchanted chisel. It worked.

When the cabinet was completed, Emma and Regina took Robin along through the wardrobe and into Storybrooke. They reappeared coming out of exploding trees, presumably acquired from Michael Bay. And Emma went to face her fate.

Why does Gideon dress like he’s heading to the Jedi Temple to kill younglings? (ABC/Jack Rowand)

While that was happening, Gideon had appeared in Storybrooke as the guy in the hooded robe from Emma’s vision. He had been raised, and harshly treated by the Black Fairy in another realm, for 28 years. What is the deal with 28? Emma was 28 when she found out she was the Savior and broke the spell everyone was under. Now Gideon was 28 and wanted to kill Emma.

And why? He wanted to stop the Black Fairy and needed to become the Savior to do so. After all, asking for the Savior’s help wasn’t sufficient enough. He has to kill the Savior in order to take her power, since in the end, there can be only o– … Sorry, wrong franchise.

There was a sword battle between Emma and Gideon. And she got the best of him! And the sword was shattered! She changed her fate!

But wait … she was wearing different clothes in the vision, meaning that it wasn’t the vision. And Gideon promised he would still kill her before he disappeared. And Mr. Gold warned Belle that war was coming to Storybrooke. And it ended with a vandalizing Gideon, inside the clock tower, smashing out the face of the clock. Jeez, how many times are they going to have to fix that thing? And there are still too many episodes yet. So the fate could still be coming.

So a big thank you to the writing staff for not lingering on the Wish World story line any further than this episode. And please don’t make this Robin as whiny as the previous one. While I’m not the most thrilled with the whole “I knew all along” trope that Pinocchio expressed, I’m still thrilled to see where the rest of the season leads. Fate or no fate?


Once Upon a Time airs Sunday nights at 8/7c on ABC.

The AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Get Their Man… or Do They? — LEVEL ELEVENTY-SEVEN #108

Episode 414 “The Man Behind the Shield”
Written by Matt Owens
Directed by Wendy Stanzler

It’s a game of cat-and-mouse on this week’s explosive episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but who’s the cat and who’s the mouse?

Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his team are aggressively searching for May (Ming-Na Wen) and Mace (Jason O’Mara), and in their hunt they come across pieces of Coulson’s past, where he and May visited Russia to retrieve a 084 for S.H.I.E.L.D. This is before May started seeing Andrew, and it serves to set up the antipathy felt by Ivanov (Zach McGowan), but more to set up another piece of the #Philinda Experience we’re about to get.

While it’s a perfectly straightforward episode, it has its moments of expectation-twisting, especially with an ending that could or could not actually be what it looks like…

The panel: Maia Ades, Mindy Inlow, Dan Handley, Jason Hunt





AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Falls Down and Goes Boom — LEVEL ELEVENTY-SEVEN #107

Episode 413 “Boom”
Written by Nora Zuckerman & Lilla Zuckerman
Directed by Billy Gierhart

It’s an explosive episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but mainly only because we have Terrence Shockley (John Pyper-Ferguson) finding out things about himself he knew not until now. And it’s not something he likes about himself, and the Superior (Zach McGowan) isn’t too happy about it, either, especially after there’s an… incident, shall we say? … at the office of Senator Nadeer (Parminder Nagra). It ends up being Daisy (Chloe Bennet) vs. Shockley as she tries to counter his skills and … abilities, shall we say?

Meanwhile, Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Mack (Henry Simmons) continue their search for May (Ming-Na Wen), and that leads them to Agnes (Mallory Jansen), a flesh-and-blood Aussie who happens to have worked with Radcliffe (John Hannah) and is completely freaked by the idea that he went ahead with his experiments in robotics — only we’re back to Radcliffe claiming to work with the long-standing goal of making it possible for Agnes to live forever. Because she’s got an inoperable brain tumor. But Radcliffe’s mention of the Mainframe also tips Coulson to the fact that May’s alive.

The panel: Maia Ades, Mindy Inlow, Kammie Settle, Dan Handley, Timothy Harvey, Jason Hunt





Getting Time Loopy: The Groundhog Day Effect

[Featured image by freeimageslive.co.uk – fmant0]

There’s an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called “Cause and Effect” (episode 518). In it, while exploring an uncharted area of space, the Enterprise and its crew came upon a “temporal flux distortion” out of which came the USS Bozeman. It struck one of the Enterprise‘s warp engines causing a repeating time loop in which Bill Murray woke up in Punxsutawney, reliving the same February 2nd over and over.

Or something like that.

In celebration of the day that we worship a fortune-telling rodent that consistently predicts the weather incorrectly, we’ll take a look at the scientific phenomenon featured in the film most associated with the day, the appropriately named Groundhog Day. But in doing so, we also need to look at another aspect to the same temporal loop phenomenon depicted in that film. Whereas Groundhog Day is about a person living a fairly linear life in a universe caught in a time loop, we should also look at a local time loop while the universe continues a linear existence. That occurs in the aforementioned “Cause and Effect”.

Enter The Wormhole

First of all, we need to look at what would create the physical property of a time loop. The best (and possibly only) candidate would be the wormhole.

Wormholes are common staples in science-fiction. One could even call it a bit of a trope. But are the depictions even accurate? The simple answer is that nobody knows. In fact, wormholes themselves are, at this point, only theoretical and possibly just a mathematical curiosity. However, scientists generally believe that the figures must be accurate and they must be real.

Wormhole art by David Baker/SciFi4Me

Wormholes are, in theory, shortcut passageways between two points in time and/or space. Based on the curved space-time of relativity, they are tunnels at the shortest distance between points on a curve. Imagine having to get to the other side of a mountain. The only two ways to get to the other side are to go over or around it. Oh, wait. Someone kindly cut a hole through the center complete with paved road. How nice. That’s essentially what a wormhole is like in curved space-time.

However, they’re very small. I mean really small. I don’t think you quite grasp the level of attoscopic diminutiveness that describes wormholes. They’re tiny, is what I’m trying to say. They exist on a quantum scale. And they don’t typically last very long. The theory is that if enough energy is exerted on a wormhole, it can be enlarged and held for a longer period of time, such as long enough for a ship or person to travel through.

It probably doesn’t look like this. (STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE/Paramount Television)


And what would one look like? Although most movies and television shows depict wormholes as sparkly vortexes, the truth is that no one has the slightest clue. Perhaps they don’t even all look the same. Some might look like black holes. Some might look like something from a video game portal gun.

They probably don’t look like this, either. (STARGATE/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)

They could also be invisible!

That’s The Spirit!

Then there is the issue of memory. How can we explain the fact that the meteorologist named Phil Connors (played by Murray) could relive the day over and over remembering what happened before without ever aging? How can the Enterprise crew experience déjà vu? If there was a full time reset, wouldn’t their memories also reset? And if not, shouldn’t they be aging each time? This is the point where we have to step slightly aside from hard science and start guessing.

Although I and most others, including scientists in all fields, believe in the existence of a non-corporeal self, called a spirit or soul, others don’t, including scientists in all fields. The reason for that is that there is not enough hard scientific proof that it exists.

But we need for people to go back in time with a reset body, including synapses in the brain needed for memory, and still remember what is going on. For that, we have to simply assume the non-corporeal self exists, and that is what gets sucked into a wormhole and dropped into the past. (Though admittedly, it doesn’t really explain an android like Lt. Commander Data. So we’ll just take some artistic liberty on this.)

Breaking The Loop

Now it’s time to figure out how to break the time loop.

For the Enterprise, the solution is easy. Data sends a message back to his earlier self that said the course of action being ordered won’t work. So he opts to carry out the other option and saves everyone. There is no explosion, and the energy needed to open up that wormhole is never exerted. (Apparently doing BOTH courses of action for greater effect was somehow unreasonable to them. But let’s not split hairs.)

And we’re pretty sure they don’t look like this. (GROUNDHOG DAY/Columbia Pictures)

The strange case of Phil Connors is a different story altogether. There seems to already be an invisible wormhole there connecting one point in time with another in the past. It was apparently placed there by the Universe in some form. (Some might say it was chance. Some might say that it was God. But the credits indicate that it was Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis.)

The only real solution in this case is to cause the events in the time line to deviate enough to avoid the wormhole. But no matter what changed in the events throughout the story, it just kept resetting. Then after about forty years (according to one interview with the late Mr. Ramis), he finally managed to change events in such a way as to dodge the wormhole and keep his spiritual essence from being ripped out of him and shot back into the past.

Yes, it took Mr. Connors forty years to get over himself.


So there you have it, the Groundhog Day Effect. You can now rest knowing that the phenomenon has an explanation.

By the way, this is the 2,437th time you’ve read this article.

Sweet dreams.


The AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Have Two-Faced Issues All Around – LEVEL ELEVENTY-SEVEN #104

Episode 410 “The Patriot”
Written by James C. Oliver & Sharla Oliver
Directed by Kevin Tancharoen

Early in the season, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gave us a new origin for Jeffrey Mace (Jason O’Mara), one that wasn’t consistent with his comic book roots. Now an Inhuman, The Patriot was a slightly new take on the character. Except now we find out that’s not the case! And what’s in the case! And why is Burrows (Patrick Cavanaugh) suddenly the most important man in the room?

Turns out, General Talbott (Adrian Pasdar) has concocted a little secret, and it’s now up to Coulson (Clark Gregg) and the gang to figure out how to save the cheerleader director and prevent the outing of a secret that could destroy S.H.I.E.L.D. all over again!

Melodramatic enough, Poppins?

Meanwhile, more anxiety for Radcliffe (John Hannah) and Aida (Mallory Jansen) as the LMD of Agent May (Ming-Na Wen) now has a mission but no direct control from either of them. What if she figures out what she is?


The panel: Maia Ades, Mindy Inlow, Sam Sentman, Dan Handley, Timothy Harvey, Jason Hunt







Three weeks after its debut in theaters, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is still going strong at the box office. Quickly surpassing Captain America: Civil War, it gained the number two spot for 2016. Critical acclaim, positive word-of-mouth, and even a controversy or two concerning the resurrection of certain characters — all worked to make Rogue One a hot property.

The gang gathers around the table to talk about favorite moments, some quibbles, and speculations about what happens next, especially in the wake of Carrie Fisher’s untimely death.


The panel: Mackenna Riley, Mindy Inlow, Jennifer Wise, Thomas Townley, Jay McDowell, Jeff Hackworth, Sam Sentman, Dan Handley



Recap: ONCE UPON A TIME Aladdin Became A Weapon


Episode 610 “Wish You Were Here”
Written by Adam Horowitz & Edward Kitsis
Directed by Ron Underwood

In this episode, there was a genie, an abduction, and an alternate universe. Overall, this was a good episode and a good winter finale. But there are a couple of things that annoyed me.



The first is that the tactic of using genie wishes on others to circumvent the magic backlash (always a price to pay) was picked up on so quickly and often without any setup. Dramatically, someone should have gotten burned for everyone to have learned the lesson. Instead, everyone knew the issue right off the bat.

The other issue is the main topic of the season (Emma’s vision) keeps getting upstaged and buried by the subplots. In previous seasons, subplots either supported the overall arc or at least worked alongside without drowning it out. Not this time. Luckily, this episode redeemed that.

Now that we’ve gotten the things that annoy me out of the way, let’s get to the rest of it.


Emma and Regina found the Evil Queen kneeling by Robin Hood’s grave, infuriating Regina. Emma took the vision sword out and cut EQ on the cheek. The injury wasn’t echoed on Regina’s cheek. The sword can harm one without affecting the other.

So EQ summoned Aladdin, now a genie, to grant Emma her wish to never have been the Savior. And Emma was transported away to an alternate realm. Later, Regina tracked down the EQ. Knowing that they were the same person, and that wished couldn’t be undone, made the wish to Aladdin to transport her to the same place he sent Emma. And she disappeared.

David confronted the EQ and got her into a fight, just long enough to grab the lamp. He wished to Aladdin that she be given exactly what she deserves. Nothing seemed to happen. So he gave the lamp to Jasmine so that she could wish them to Agrabah, which she did. She and Aladdin disappeared.


Mr. Gold wasn’t able to locate his son. As a sign of good faith, he released the bonds he put on Belle, and the two agreed to work together to find him. At the convent, they found the Mother Superior in bad shape. She revealed that their son had been taken by the Black Fairy.

EQ saw a flash of light inside Granny’s and the hooded figure from Emma’s vision came out. The hooded person turned EQ into a snake, giving her what she deserved. He went to Gold’s shop and revealed himself to Gold and Belle. He was their son, Gideon, all grown up.


Off in Wishworld, Emma was a princess in the Enchanted Forest with an elderly King Charming and Queen Snow White. She had no knowledge of Storybrooke. And Regina showing up frightened everyone since they had apparently long since defeated their version of the Evil Queen. So with the help of that world’s Rumpelstiltskin, she needed to pretend to be the Evil Queen again in order to jog her memory about being the Savior. And in exchange for his help providing a magic bean that would allow them back into the real world, he would get his freedom.


At Henry’s knighting ceremony, Regina showed up and kidnapped David and Snow. Emma showed up at the Evil Queen’s castle where Regina had the two. But instead of standing up and fighting Regina, Emma offered her the key to the kingdom and surrendered. Then Henry showed up to try to be the bold and daring knight. He was eager to kill Regina. Apparently, his behaving like Emma never wanted him to was enough to jog her memory and she realized it wasn’t real.


By the river, they activated the magic bean which opened up a portal. But then Wishworld’s Robin Hood showed up, distracting Regina. And they missed their chance to return.


So unlike other seasons, the winter finale wasn’t the end of one story and the start of a new one. Instead, it’s a cliffhanger that is meant to hold us over for three months until the remaining five (yes, FIVE!) episodes left on this season’s calendar. And March can’t get here soon enough.


Once Upon a Time airs Sunday nights at 8/7c on ABC.


Recap: ONCE UPON A TIME People Were Running Off With Babies


Episode 609 “Changelings”
Written by David H. Goodman & Brian Ridings
Directed by Mairzee Almas

In this episode, there was a manual, squid ink, and a new Genie!


In flashback, Belle (Emilie de Ravin) found Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) with a baby he took from a couple who turned out to be Jack (Nick Hunnings) and Jill (Tammy Gillis), presumably prior to Jack breaking his crown. The baby was going to be used to summon the Black Fairy (Jaime Murray), who was known to take children. He used squid ink to freeze her, and he began questioning her about taking babies. And we found out that Rumple is the son of the Black Fairy. And his father was Peter Pan. No wonder he’s so screwed up. The Blue Fairy (Keegan Connor Tracy) recruited Belle to return the child, which she did.

In Storybrooke, Gold captured one of the nuns (Jacky Lai) and had her tied up. She wasn’t tied up very tightly. I’m just going to pretend that she couldn’t get out of the very loose rope because of the magical enchantment. There. Plot hole filled. And I let out a sigh of relief. You’re welcome, show creators.

The Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) showed up and witnessed the “message” Gold was sending to the others. Using a magic powder, he caused her to age and become extremely old (Edwina Shuster). And he reminded her that she was supposed to kill Zelena (Rebecca Mader) on his behalf.

It's time for more threats. (ABC/Jack Rowand) EMILIE DE RAVIN
It’s time for more threats. (ABC/Jack Rowand)

Belle was in the library where she discovered a manual on how to defeat the Dark One. She opened it up, and it said to follow the red thread. She looked up and found a glowing red thread that led her into a dream state, one where the glow wasn’t radioactivity. She found her unborn son (Giles Matthey) grown up (Morpheus) who explained that the thread was what Gold wanted to cut with the magic shears. Then she woke up from the dream, laying on the book.

It turns out the book was written in squid ink. This gave the idea for Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) to go to Gold’s shop and provoke him. That provided the distraction for Emma (Jennifer Morrison) to use squid ink on Gold to freeze him. As they searched the shop, Emma had more visions (surprise, surprise) that stopped the search and allowed Gold to get away with the aging powder. Those visions seem to come in the nick of time to stop our intrepid heroes from getting things done. It has me wanting an end to the story line since they’re too convenient.

At Granny’s Diner, Belle started having contractions and realized the tea she was drinking was tainted with the aging powder. And her son appeared to her in a dreamlike vision saying that she knew what to do. She gave birth, named him Gideon, and handed him off to the Blue Fairy to take him away to keep him safe. I guess naming him Morpheus would have made it too obvious to Gold.

"Premature" delivery on an epic level. (ABC/Jack Rowand) EMILIE DE RAVIN, COLIN O'DONOGHUE, JENNIFER MORRISON
“Premature” delivery on an epic level. (ABC/Jack Rowand)

It turns out that the Evil Queen was the one who put the spiked Belle’s tea. Emma went to Gold’s shop, found the sword she saw herself being killed with in her vision and took it. Regina (also Lana Parrilla) threatened to crush her won heart in order to kill the EQ. And when Jasmine (Karen David) summoned the Genie for help in finding Agrobah, all that came out were a couple of gold bracelets proving the Genie had been freed. So Aladdin (Deniz Akdeniz) put them on to become the Genie.

So he has been the Savior, and is now the Genie. Now I want to see Aladdin become the Dark One so he can claim the Once Upon A Time super power trifecta.


Once Upon a Time airs Sunday nights at 8/7c on ABC.


Recap: ONCE UPON A TIME Mirrors Did More Than Reflect


Episode 608 “I’ll Be Your Mirror”
Written by Jerome Schwartz and Leah Fong
Directed by Jennifer Lynch

In this episode, there were a wand, a dragon, and a whole lot of mirrors. It’s unusual to see an episode that didn’t have even a single flashback. And it’s a good thing too. An occasional break from time jumps is refreshing.


Snow (Gennifer Goodwin) and David (Josh Dallas) seem to be doing fairly well with their Ladyhawke-like situation. They started tag-teaming their lives and time with the baby. It showed the depth of their commitment with one cooking for the other before tagging off, and leaving video messages for each other. And it’s started to take its toll. Snow, though, figured out that the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) was watching them through a mirror on the wall.

Partners in deception. (ABC/Jack Rowand) OLIVIA STEELE FALCONER, JARED S. GILMORE
Partners in deception. (ABC/Jack Rowand)

Regina (also Lana Parrilla) got the idea to trap the EQ in the mirror world. She enchanted a mirror to capture the villain. Henry (Jared S. Gilmore) was used as bait to attract her to the beach. Then when Henry disappeared and Regina and Emma (Jennifer Morrison) tried using the mirror, it didn’t work. EQ switched the mirrors and trapped them instead. She then took the place of Regina and convinced the others that Emma had gone to New York to seek out the Dragon. Meanwhile, the two were in a mirror world where they could do nothing more than look at the real world through people’s mirrors.

It didn’t take long for Henry to catch on. As much as I criticize their use (or lack thereof) of Henry, he showed his capability in this one. I still wish they had made him drunk with power as the Author, but they never seem to want to make him a villain. However, if they can keep him clever and relevant, I’ll accept that. He saw through EQ’s disguise and, with Violet’s (Olivia Steele Falconer) help, got to the vault to try to find a way out for Regina and Emma.

Aladdin, the world's best burglar? (ABC/Jack Rowand) DENIZ AKDENIZ
Aladdin, the world’s best burglar? (ABC/Jack Rowand)

In the Mirror Universe, Regina and Emma found the Dragon (Tzi Ma), who, had been sent there by the Evil Queen. He found a back door out, but it was a broken mirror which had to be re-assembled. While they were working on it, EQ, with the Dragon’s heart, commanded him to turn into a full dragon and attack them. Regina tried to tempt Henry with power from a magical hammer she acquired from Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle). When he refused, she got mad and threw the hammer which broke the mirror and freed Regina and Emma.

Not trusting Gold, Belle (Emilie de Ravin) decided to skip town. She employed the help of Zelena (Rebecca Mader) to do it. They got Aladdin (Deniz Akdeniz) to break in to the pawn shop and steal the magic wand she would need to escape. He barely escaped being caught, but saw Gold spinning straw into gold on a spinning wheel. He also got the wand. Gold ended up taking the wand back from Zelena and putting a gold bracelet that he was weaving on Belle; this would allow him to track her wherever she went. But he wasn’t able to harm Zelena. So EQ and Rumple decided to work together to get revenge, Rumple wanting the EQ to get Zelena for him.

Never trust Rumpelstiltskin when he's doing arts and crafts. (ABC/Jack Rowand) ROBERT CARLYLE
Never trust Rumpelstiltskin when he’s doing arts and crafts. (ABC/Jack Rowand)

Another good episode. I like the fact that they’re continuing to move through subplots quickly and not stretching them out. Unfortunately, the main plot about the Savior once again has taken a back seat, just getting a couple of small mentions.. Hopefully they’ll get back to having it back in the forefront soon.


Once Upon a Time airs Sunday nights at 8/7c on ABC.


Recap: ONCE UPON A TIME There Was A Spell With A Twist


Episode 607 ” Heartless”
Written by Jane Espenson
Directed by Ralph Hemecker

In this episode, there was a portable dungeon, flying hatchets, and a potion from the Underworld.


I’m still wondering how much more of our characters’ histories they can tell before it’s overkill. Still, it’s good to see that they’re moving through the subplots quickly and not stretching them out.

In flashback, the Huntsman/Woodcutter (Paul Johansson) was a bad guy. He disguised himself as a peddler to drug David (Josh Dallas) and use his dog to track Snow White (Gennifer Goodwin) for the Evil Queen. Inside the wagon he was using were chains and shackles. Snow, not yet a bandit, was trying to get money to pay for a ride on a ship to get away. David was going to the same destination, but to sell the family farm that they couldn’t afford to maintain.

Woodcutter or bug-eyed barbarian cosplay? (ABC/Jack Rowand) PAUL JOHANSSON
Woodcutter or bug-eyed barbarian cosplay? (ABC/Jack Rowand)

When the Woodcutter captured Snow in his porta-dungeon, David showed up, they fought, and the Woodcutter punched a hole in the box containing Snow. She was able to grab his arm and allow David to kill him. Snow gave David what little money she had collected so far. Their hands touched and caused a “spark of true love” that gave birth to a sapling at David’s feet. And they never saw each other.

So the two of them met well before they actually met. Got it. It’s one of those “destiny” things. Although they did a good job of hiding their identities from each other, it’s still a bit awkwardly shoehorned in. The destiny story arcs have been used so often elsewhere. To add yet another layer of history to the main characters seems a bit overkill.

He didn't even axe her what her name was. (ABC/Jack Rowand) GINNIFER GOODWIN, JOSH DALLAS
He didn’t even axe her what her name was. (ABC/Jack Rowand)

In Storybroke, Snow was sleeping in bed but then woke up in the woods where she was confronted by the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla). The Queen told her that she wants her heart, and David’s as well since they share the same heart. She gave Snow a potion. So was there really a reason for the advance notice of what the EQ planned to do? The taunting the scene represents seemed a bit unnecessary.

The potion turned out to be water from the River of Lost Souls in the Underworld. Regina (also Lana Parrilla) figured she got it from Gold’s shop to use it to destroy the town. This might have worked better if it came as a surprise toward the end rather than tipped by the Queen so early on.

Mother Superior (Keegan Connor Tracy) suggested that a magical sapling could be used to entrap the Queen. Yup, the same one from the Enchanted Forest. And she cast a spell to help lead them to it. Because magic. And convenience.

The royal couple is protected by an infant tree. (ABC/Jack Rowand) GINNIFER GOODWIN, JOSH DALLAS
The royal couple is protected by an infant tree. (ABC/Jack Rowand)

Regina wrote a note for Zelena (Rebecca Mader) to meet her at Gold’s shop, and signed it as the Evil Queen. That led to Zelena walking in on Gold (Robert Carlyle) and the Queen sharing a bit of romantic time in the back room. It shook things up in the alliance. Then they decided to use it to their advantage.

Once Snow and David both found and touched the sapling, their love history flashed before their eyes. Then the Evil Queen showed up and destroyed it. Good. The existence of the sapling as a solution seemed too convenient. Quickly getting rid of it was a good thing. Let the story build before bringing it back, assuming they do. If they don’t, it was pointless. She told them to give their hearts willingly or have the town destroyed.

It's so much easier to destroy the town when they're all in one place. (ABC/Jack Rowand) EMILIE DE RAVIN, REBECCA MADER
It’s so much easier to destroy the town when they’re all in one place. (ABC/Jack Rowand)

At a gathering in the cemetery, EQ threatened the townspeople with destruction if Snow and David didn’t show up. When they did show, she yanked their hearts out, put a curse on them, then shoved them back in. Snow collapsed and then vanished. Once the others found her, she was sleeping in the woods. David kissed her which woke her up, but caused him to fall asleep. In something that seems inspired by and an interesting twist on Ladyhawke, when one is awake, the other is asleep, a sleeping curse with a twist.

Zelena told Belle (Emilie de Ravin) about Gold and EQ. Apparently she didn’t care about that, just that Gold acquired the shears to use on their baby. Gold was not happy with Zelena.

There were a few hand of the writer moments, and a few parts that could have been done better. But it did help move the story along and didn’t stretch anything out. It should be interesting to see how the new curse plays out. And I would like to see more focus on the main topic of the season so far, the curse of the Savior.


Once Upon a Time airs Sunday nights at 8/7c on ABC.