Timestamp #CLS4: Co-Owner of a Lonely Heart & Brave-ish Heart

Class: Co-Owner of a Lonely Heart
Class: Brave-ish Heart
(2 episodes, s01e04-05, 2016)

Timestamp CLS4 Lonely Heart Brave-ish Heart

Loads of character development in a two-hour adventure.

Co-Owner of a Lonely Heart

Far across the universe in the halls of the Shadow Palace on The Underneath, Corakinus receives word that his servants can make his heart whole again. Unfortunately, his attempts to sever the attachment to April only strengthen the connection. On the other end of that connection in Shoreditch, April gasps in pain before picking up the sword of the Shadow King.

The next day, a strange petal dances on the wind before landing on April’s window as she practices her violin. April breaks a string and cuts herself, but the power of the Shadow King allows her to heal quickly. She also shares some bad news with her mother Jackie: He father has recently been released and made contact with the family.

Ram is feeling better after connecting with April. Meanwhile, Charlie shares the truth about the Cabinet of Souls with Matteusz. Everyone heads to school where Miss Quill watches as Mr. Armitage‘s name is added to the memorial and meets Dorothy Ames, the new headteacher sent by the Governors.

Later in class, April challenges her teacher during a lesson about warfare and the Dunkirk evacuation. As she literally breaks into her locker later, it’s apparent that the Shadow King is bleeding into her psyche. After ignoring a call from her father, she asks Ram for help. While they chat in Ram’s car, several more petals fall on the city and April’s father Huw MacLean shows up. His appearance is a violation of a court order, but all he wants is the chance to apologize. When he presses the issue, April manifests as the Shadow King and scares him away.

They are confronted by Ms. Ames for their truancy and Ram is encouraged to take April home while the headteacher is bitten by a flower petal. As Ram and April talk in her bedroom, the Shadow Kin locate Earth and plot an attack. April and Ram turn from talking to romance, which has a similar effect on the Shadow King 9,000 years of space travel away. Unfortunately for him, the Shadow Kin are disgusted by the thought of intimacy during sex. Afterward, April and Ram are discovered by April’s mother.

Charlie and Matteusz discuss the Cabinet of Souls and the prince reveals that the cabinet could transfer the souls into the bodies of another race. The cabinet is a powerful weapon capable of genocide. Miss Quill is angered by the discussion and storms away.

Later on, Tanya confronts Charlie about how he lords over the team. Matteusz chimes in occasionally while also being bitten by a flower petal. In fact, the petals are growing in number. Meanwhile, Miss Quill requests time off to deal with something at home, but Ms. Ames calls her into a meeting. The new headteacher also has a file with Charlie’s true identity on paper.

Jackie confronts the two teens about their relationship. Ram acts with respect toward her, but after he leaves, Jackie expresses her concerns about Ram and the parallels with April’s father. Ram calls Tanya and tells her that April is in trouble, which is a call that Huw overhears as he lurks nearby. On the ground is a squirrel, bloodied and killed by the flower petals.

Ms. Ames shows the petals to Miss Quill, remarking that there haven’t been many squirrels or birds around. One drop of blood causes the petals to multiply rapidly, and Ms. Ames asks Miss Quill to help solve the problem. She offers to remove the creature from Miss Quill’s head and free her from the contract.

April leaves the house to make up with Ram, but her departure is interrupted by Huw. After her parents argue, April is attacked by the Corakinus and the two personalities begin to merge. The Shadow King’s servant amplifies the effort but April resists as she attacks her father. Ram arrives just as April is about to execute her father with the Shadow King’s swords. April spares his life as she returns to lucidity. The rest of the team arrives just as April turns on her mother and heals her with the Shadow King’s power.

The act displaces enough energy to reveal Earth’s location to Corakinus, so April takes the initiative and slices open a rift. She dives inside, headed toward The Underneath, and Ram jumps in after her.

Brave-ish Heart

Ram races through The Underneath as a Shadow Kin chases him. He is saved by April and her scimitars, joining her as she makes her way to the Shadow Palace. She reveals that she cannot open a rift back home, so the two of them may be trapped there permanently. Back on Earth, Tanya reveals the truth of April’s condition to her parents, and they accompany Charlie to find help. Tanya finds Ram’s father and brings him into the team.

Meanwhile, Miss Quill and Ms. Ames continue their discussions. Ms. Ames asks for her thoughts on genocide, linking her plan back to Charlie and the Cabinet of Souls. They meet up with April’s parents and Charlie and Miss Quill confronts the prince over the cabinet. She’s angry that all of the people who slaughtered her people are still alive. Ms. Ames and the Governors want to use the cabinet’s power to destroy the petals.

April and Ram make their way through a cavern that reminds the Shadow Kin that they must defeat the universe or be crushed by it. They believe that they are a mistake of the universe and destined to live as shadows beneath everyone else unless they can overpower the universe. Ram discusses his Sikh heritage with April, proclaiming that doing good for the sake of doing so means getting closer to his god. They are interrupted by a telepathic link to Corakinus. He knows where they are.

Ram’s father and April’s parents argue about their children’s relationship while Tanya talks them down. As April gears up for war against the king and his army, Jackie’s heart glows. At the Quill/Smith home, Ms. Ames, Miss Quill, Charlie, and Matteusz debate the merits of using the cabinet to save the planet. Since only a Rhodian can operate the cabinet, Ms. Ames threatens Matteusz’s life to force Charlie into action. Tanya escorts everyone to the headteacher’s office as Matteusz sends her a text message. Apparently,  according to Ms. Ames, shadows can kill the petals. But bringing the Shadow Kin to Earth is a non-starter even though the petals are now consuming humans.

April engages Corakinus in a one-on-one battle where the victor becomes the new king. As they duel, the connection between Jackie and April intensifies. Using that connection, April opens a rift and she is joined by her father and Ram’s father. April finally defeats Corakinus. Huw talks her out of killing the king, and April declares that defeat is enough to depose Corakinus. The newly-crowned king has Corakinus locked away before she returns to Earth.

Under duress, Charlie decides to use the cabinet, but Matteusz is able to ambush Ms. Ames and throw her gun away. He stops short of committing genocide when April opens a rift and dispatches the Shadow Kin against the petals. Once the threat is obliterated, April orders the shadows to return home and destroy the path along the way.

Inside his cell, Corakinus severs the link that his followers created. April’s powers are gone, but they still share the same heart. Fortunately, the actions she took with the powers remain, including her mother’s ability to walk again. Her family is healing, but she needs Huw to stay away until the MacLean women can forgive him.

Meanwhile, Ms. Ames reveals that the Governors foretold all of this. The offer for Miss Quill still stands.


This should have come a lot sooner in the series. There is so much character development in this pair of episodes and it is a shame that we had to trudge through two really thin and slow plots to finally reach it.

I love seeing the weight on Charlie’s shoulders as a deposed prince, the last of his people, and the pressure placed upon him by his former enemy now turned indentured servant and protector. Miss Quill is hungry for revenge for her people and she’s willing to make a deal with the devil to get it. These two living under the same roof is delicious tension, particularly as Matteusz tries to tread the thin line of armistice between them.

We got a glimpse of Tanya’s leadership last week, and this week brings it back as she wrangles the personal conflicts between April and Ram’s parents while trying to save her friend. April and Ram continue to develop their new relationship, and they both show intense boldness alongside brilliant empathy. April’s personality tempers her heart – a most appropriate weakness for her empathy – with her wisdom, making her my favorite character of the bunch.

I also love that she’s practicing “Night Visiting” on her violin. A follow-on from that previous story, it’s a song inspired by legends about the spirits of deceased loved ones. Those spirits would knock on their living relative’s windows at night and appear as either warnings of danger or as an escort to drag their living relatives to Hell. It seems to have stuck with April, especially since she’s a student of folk songs.

Finally, in a neat bit of trivia, Charlie’s last name is Smith. Presumably no relation to the other Smiths that we know, either Time Lord or journalist.

Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”


UP NEXT – Class: Detained

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Culture on My Mind – The 2022 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
The 2022 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar
January 20, 2023

2022 SW LEGO Advent CalendarIt’s time to talk about the 2022 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar!

My family has been doing these LEGO advent calendars since 2015 and I chronicle the daily builds on Instagram. Each of the annual box sets has been spotlighted on this site. These boxes contain twenty-four unique small builds, many of which are abstract, along with exclusive mini-figures and whimsical winter-themed spins on Star Wars staples. This box leaned on the recently released LEGO Star Wars Summer Vacation special.

Despite the Summer Vacation links, however, this set also tied in some holiday cheer and sampled various aspects of the Star Wars library. It started with the prequel era (with a brief nod to The Bad Batch), then hopped into the classic era (with a small bounce into Summer Vacation), before wrapping up with a Santa-themed GNK droid.

The holiday sweater-clad C-3PO and R2-D2 were so much fun to see, as was the beach bum Darth Vader with his snorkel fins and sand castle. The abstract mini-builds were all well done and I adored the ability to hang Luke Skywalker from the Wampa cave. The snowtrooper was a big hit in our household since LEGO took time for representation and gave us a black woman beneath the helmet. That was a great surprise and I hope they have more like them in the future.

Even the basic fillers like a B1 battle droid and a weapons rack didn’t take away from the fun, leaving 2022 with one of the best Star Wars advent calendars in recent memory.

Now, on to the countdown:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Day 9

Day 10

Day 11

Day 12

Day 13

Day 14

Day 15

Day 16

Day 17

Day 18

Day 19

Day 20

Day 21

Day 22

Day 23

Day 24


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Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #CLS3: Nightvisiting

Class: Nightvisiting
(1 episode, s01e03, 2016)

Timestamp CLS3 Nightvisiting

When memories become weeds.

On the two-year anniversary night of Tanya’s father’s death, she is visited by something that resembles him. She doubts his appearance, believing that he is a hallucination, but the being has actual memories of their lives together. If she takes his hand, her grief will be gone forever.

A similar apparition visits Miss Quill, posing as her sister and promising that she can use a gun again if she accepts the bargain. Ram also gets a visitor in the form of Rachel while he video chats with April. Meanwhile, Charlie and Matteusz hook up after the former consoles the latter about his family’s homophobia.

Tanya returns to her room to talk with her “father” after checking in with her mother. She presumes that her mother is asleep but doesn’t notice that the woman is entangled in the alien vines. Both Tanya’s and Quill’s apparitions explain that they are the Lankin, an organism that feasts on a victim’s grief while killing them. They are all connected to the “great trunk” by vines running throughout the city and can presumably read their victims’ minds to emulate essential memories. The vines are also self-healing.

Ram and April rendezvous outside and try to work out this invasion. April reveals that her father attempted to kill himself by driving off a bridge when she was eight. Unfortunately, both she and her mother were in the car, resulting in her mother’s paralysis. April focuses on the things she loves to prevent the memory from controlling her life, and she uses this power to console Ram.

Ram and April follow the vines to Coal Hill and then follow the one into Tanya’s flat. Tanya struggles with the memory of her father since the Lankin only gets more aggressive about feeding on her grief. Ram and April arrive and warn her about the threat, but Tanya takes the Lankin’s hand. Unfortunately for the vine-creature, Tanya has more anger than grief toward her father’s memory. The anger poisons the creature but doesn’t weaken it enough.

Quill outright rejects her nightvisitor’s offer and eventually has Charlie and Matteusz stab the creature. They join up with the others to fight the threat. They finally defeat it after Quill steals a bus and rams it through the tentacles, forcing the broken links to retreat into the rift. Everyone seems fine afterward, and most of the victims have amnesia about the event.

The adventure ends as new bonds are forged within the team: Charlie offers space in his home for Matteusz while April and Ram continue to bond over their time together.


There’s not much to talk about here.

The episode tips its hand too way early by exposing that the ghosts of loved ones past are an alien tentacle invasion. While it does a good job of exploring the deeper hurt within the core team members, it spends a lot of time meandering through the 45-minute runtime before spending about five minutes actually fighting the threat.

The good side is that we see the team being proactive (in pieces, anyway), and admitting that they are gelling together after the threat is defeated. Hopefully it means that we’ll see them taking action more often in the remainder of the series run.

Rating: 2/5 – “Mm? What’s that, my boy?”


UP NEXT – Class: Co-Owner of a Lonely Heart & Class: Brave-ish Heart

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Culture on My Mind – The 2021 LEGO Marvel Advent Calendar

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
The 2021 LEGO Marvel Advent Calendar
January 13, 2023

2021 SW Marvel Advent CalendarApparently, the latter days of 2021 and early days of 2022 were chaotic. So chaotic, in fact, that I completely forgot to post my summaries of the 2021 LEGO Star Wars and Marvel advent calendars. So, January 2023 will bring you some late (and even later) gifts as I take a look back at four separate calendars.

Last week, I looked back at the 2021 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar. In the coming weeks, I’ll cover the 2022 sets for Star Wars and The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. This week is about the 2021 LEGO Marvel Advent Calendar.

My family has been doing these LEGO advent calendars since 2015 and I chronicle the daily builds on Instagram. Each of the annual box sets has been spotlighted on this site. These boxes contain twenty-four unique small builds, many of which are abstract, along with exclusive mini-figures and whimsical winter-themed spins on franchise staples. The Marvel characters made their debut with this holiday line in 2021, and there was no better way to kick it off than to highlight the Avengers from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

At this point, the MCU was settling into what would become Phase Four. The Infinity Saga (Phases One, Two, and Three) ended in 2019 and, of course, 2020 put everything on hold due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. By the end of 2021, we had four new films and five new television series to crack open the multiverse concepts that would define the next three phases, but the pandemic had definitely thrown a wrench into plans at Marvel Studios.

Thus, celebrating the Avengers was a strong choice.

The 2021 Marvel-themed box focused on themes and characters from The Infinity Saga, including minifigures for Tony Stark/Iron Man, Black Widow, Spider-Man, Thanos, Captain Marvel, Nick Fury, and Thor. Those minifigures were also outfitted differently to make them exclusive to this set, which presents a challenge to “gotta-have-em-all” collectors.

The Marvel set differed from the traditions set by the Star Wars sets by building a world for these characters (and kids of all ages) to play in. The scene was set for an Avengers-style holiday party, including presents and decor to compliment the typical abstract micro-builds. It’s a neat concept, but it also comes across as filler in some cases, such as the barbeque grill and present wrapping station.

I did really like the idea of presents, however, particularly how they were linked to each character’s style and cinematic gags. Spidey gets a churro and an arachnid-themed box while Tony gets the arc reactor under glass as proof that he has a heart. I also really enjoyed the helicarrier, Stark robot, and Avengers Tower builds, and the finale with an Infinity Gauntlet was an elaborate one. It came with enough extra Infinity Stones to reenact the paperweight scene from Loki.

It’s a good debut for the Marvel brand, and while I expected something closer to the Star Wars boxes, the world/scene-building aspect isn’t a terrible choice. For every barbeque grill and Christmas wreath, I have to remind myself that children are building these sets with their parents. The fun they have and memories they build together is worth it.

Now, on to the countdown:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Day 9

Day 10

Day 11

Day 12

Day 13

Day 14

Day 15

Day 16

Day 17

Day 18

Day 19

Day 20

Day 21

Day 22

Day 23

Day 24


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Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #CLS2: The Coach with the Dragon Tattoo

Class: The Coach with the Dragon Tattoo
(1 episode, s01e02, 2016)

Timestamp CLS2 Coach Dragon Tattoo

The episode that played with boredom.

Picking up after his injury in the fight against the Shadow King, Ram has trouble adjusting to his new leg. His performance during a football game disappoints Coach Dawson and Ram’s father Varun. The coach is also upset with his assistant, Caroll, who is brutally attacked and skinned alive in the locker room by a dragon-like creature.

Ram returns to the locker room and finds the corpse which triggers his trauma from the night of the prom. He hides in a restroom stall but the corpse and blood are gone when he returns. In their place stands Coach Dawson. The coach tells Ram to go home, then takes a shower while the dragon tattooed on his body snarls through bloodied teeth.

The next day, Charlie, April, and Tanya muse about how the rest of the school has seemingly forgotten about prom night. They also discuss Ram and his trauma. While they muse over what to call the temporal rifts in the school, Miss Quill and Mr. Armitage discuss the day’s inspection of her science class in front of the Barbara Wright Building. Finally, Ram is transferred to the second-string football team and rejects Charlie’s attempts at friendship.

In science class, Miss Quill tries to impress the inspector in her cold way. Ram storms out of class and finds Coach Dawson to ask about extra training. Unfortunately, Dawson doesn’t have time and Caroll is missing, so Ram is dismissed from the coach’s office. While Ram goes to the locker room to look for evidence of what he saw, we note that the coach has a corpse in a trash bag under his desk. Coming up empty-handed, Ram takes a smoke break with one of the cleaning staff. While he’s out there, the dragon strikes again, consuming the cleaner and dousing Ram in her blood. He takes a shower as the trauma consumes him.

That night, Ram talks to Tanya and they agree to meet up where the cleaner was killed. Tanya suggests involving Miss Quill and the new team, but Ram refuses. He wonders about his value now, but Tanya reminds him that he helped save April on one leg. They’re both surprised when Coach Dawson appears out of nowhere and dismisses the pair before chastising the sentient tattoo that moves across his body.

Miss Quill continues her silent torment with the inspector. She later consults with Charlie, insistent that the inspector is an alien or impostor. Meanwhile, Ram continues to perform poorly on the pitch. His father tries to console him on the drive home, but Ram doesn’t want to talk about it. He finds some solace in discussing death with Tanya, whose father died suddenly some time ago.

The inspector subplot continues as Miss Quill throws a stapler at the man and confronts him. Funny enough, the inspector is intrigued enough to request another observation period with her class.

Tanya, April, and Charlie talk about the coach, the cleaner, Ram, and Miss Quill’s attempts to hack into UNIT. Mainly, Tanya is upset that their new team isn’t getting involved in the mysteries. They start looking into the cleaner’s death but have trouble discussing it with Mr. Armitage. While they’re in his office, a space-time rift opens behind the headmaster and the dragon emerges. It kills the headmaster in front of the students and drags the corpse through the rift. The coach isn’t a direct suspect since he was talking to Ram at the time, but Ram also noticed the tattoo moving across the coach’s flesh.

The students involve Miss Quill, but she’s too wrapped up in her inspections to engage, so Tanya declares that they are on their own. Tanya does have a breakthrough with Ram during their homework chat that night, and April seeks solace in a video chat with Charlie. The team finally begins to coalesce around the mystery dragon as Ram lets slip what they experienced in the headmaster’s office. Ram realizes that the dragon that Charlie sketched from his memory is the same image that was on Dawson’s body.

The team meets at the school to find Coach Dawson while Miss Quill confronts the inspector. The inspector is inexplicably in the school after dark, and he ends up in a chase through the school with the dragon and Miss Quill. The dragon attacks the inspector and we find out that the inspector is a robot.

Correction: Was a robot. He’s decapitated now.

Meanwhile, the students watch Coach Dawson dispose of Mr. Armitage in the school’s trash bins. They confront the coach as Miss Quill leads the dragon to the scene. In the end, we find that the coach was inadvertently fused with a dragon when it came through a rift. It acted like a parasite and he had to feed it blood from the people that he killed. This second dragon has come in search of its mate.

Ram offers himself, primarily to rid himself of the pain, but the dragon simply abducts Dawson and takes him through the portal. Problem solved? The team isn’t convinced since it required a man’s death to end the threat.

Miss Quill continues to go on about the robot. No one cares, but she does find a clue that points toward “The Governors,” providing a hornet’s nest for her to kick.

Later that night, April ignores a call from her father while Ram discloses his secrets to his own. Varun consoles his son and helps him train with the new leg.


This was a rough one because it didn’t seem to have much heart. It works thematically, but the team doesn’t really gel at any point as this plot spins its wheels. The important pieces are placed on the board way too late, revealing that Coach Dawson isn’t necessarily evil but rather possessed by an entity beyond his control.

The inspector subplot has some funny points, mostly related to Mr. Armitage’s reaction to Miss Quill’s over-the-top investigation. “I don’t even understand some of these swear words.” But overall it is painfully obvious filler alongside a lackluster plot that wastes one of the most empathetic characters with a meaningless death. Thus ends the journey of Headmaster Armitage, whom we’ve known since Into the DalekThe Caretaker, and Dark Water, and it is a shame.

This episode also points out a rather large problem with the suspension of disbelief. Tanya claims that she’s 14 due to being moved ahead because of her academic performance. At the time of filming, actress Vivian Oparah was 19 and it’s pretty obvious since she blends in so well with the rest of the cast who are playing 17-year-olds. I’m no stranger to drama series set in high schools with twenty-somethings playing the students, but the difference between 14 and 17 is a bit more distinct.

Setting that aside, the most heart and character that this episode provides is between Ram and his father. Watching their relationship as Ram begins to heal from back-to-back episodes of blood-soaked trauma is beautiful. I only wish that the story had provided the same to the rest of this Scooby team.

If this story is any indication, Class is becoming Torchwood with edginess and darkness, but without a good chunk of the humanity that provided a flicker of hope in the fight.

Rating: 2/5 – “Mm? What’s that, my boy?”


UP NEXT – Class: Nightvisiting

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Culture on My Mind – Where the Drama is Local

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Where the Drama is Local
January 9, 2023

It’s time to talk about the performing arts again. This week, I’m thinking about community theater and a panel discussion courtesy of the Theater and Musical Lovers YouTube Channel.

The channel and its associated Facebook group were established as an unofficial gathering of Dragon Con attendees who love theater, musicals, and the performing arts. Their goal is to create a community of fellow thespians and fans at the convention. This group came together last weekend to talk about community theater and local productions. I mean, sure, Broadway is where everyone wants to end up, but some of the best experiences are homegrown.

When I was in the Navy, I volunteered a couple of times at Playhouse 51 in Millington, TN. That community theater is a non-profit run by volunteers. The theater is housed in the Millington Civic Center, which was once a Baptist church that ended up in the city’s hands. The city offered the space to Playhouse 51 for a $1 annual lease, effectively endorsing it so long as the volunteer force can keep the doors open.

That’s the kind of community that local theater creates.

On January 7th, a group of passionate curtain callers discussed the charms and pitfalls of local theater, along with how to find, join, support, or found your own local theater troupe, and why you should see that show they’re putting on in their uncle’s barn!  Gary Mitchel and Sarah Rose were joined by Greg Bell, Christi Chalmers, and Ell Rhodes to chat about the creativity, passion, and drama that you can find in your own hometown.

Note: Depending on security settings, you may have to click through below to see the video directly on YouTube. You should definitely subscribe to their channel for more updates.


The Theater and Musical Lovers Group will be hosting more of these panels. If you’re interested in participating or have some topic ideas in mind, head over to the group on Facebook and drop them a line

You can find Gary and Sarah on the socials: On Twitter, they are Gary_Mitchel, SarahRose_KPK, and Daisuki_Suu; on Instagram, they are Gary_Mitchel and Daisuki_Suu; and Gary’s horror-themed podcast that he hosts with Erin McGourn is A Podcask of Amontillado. Of course, the Theater & Musical Lovers channel can be found on YouTube.

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Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Culture on My Mind – The 2021 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
The 2021 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar
January 6, 2023

2021 SW LEGO Advent CalendarApparently, the latter days of 2021 and early days of 2022 were chaotic. So chaotic, in fact, that I completely forgot to post my summaries of the 2021 LEGO Star Wars and Marvel advent calendars. So, January 2023 will bring you some late (and even later) gifts as I take a look back at four separate calendars.

Next week will bring the 2021 Marvel set. After that, I’ll cover the 2022 sets for Star Wars and The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. This week is all about the 2021 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar.

My family has been doing these LEGO advent calendars since 2015 and I chronicle the daily builds on Instagram. Each of the annual box sets has been spotlighted on this site. These boxes contain twenty-four unique small builds, many of which are abstract, along with exclusive mini-figures and whimsical winter-themed spins on franchise staples. The Marvel ones are relatively new to the line, but Star Wars has been a longtime anchor property.

The 2021 Star Wars-themed box was heavy on ships and characters from The Mandalorian, a move that made a ton of sense since that was the big draw for fans on Disney+ starting in 2019. I particularly liked the Razor Crest build, the whimsical multi-day stormtrooper and shooting range setup, the Slave I (the “flying iron”), and the multi-day Grogu/Mandalorian run. Of course, staples like the X-Wing, landspeeder, and Imperial cruiser are nice to have. On the downside, there seemed to be a lot more filler with weapons racks and the like.

Now, on to the countdown:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Day 9

Day 10

Day 11

Day 12

Day 13

Day 14

Day 15

Day 16

Day 17

Day 18

Day 19

Day 20

Day 21

Day 22

Day 23

Day 24


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Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #CLS1: For Tonight We Might Die

Class: For Tonight We Might Die
(1 episode, s01e01, 2016)

Timestamp CLS1 For Tonight We Might Die

A threat like the Hellmouth and a warrior like the Doctor.

At Coal Hill Academy, a student runs through the halls in the dark of the night. A woman pulls him into hiding but a molten creature still finds them. In the aftermath, a rift tears open in the hallway.

The following day, the students report for classes and gossip about Kevin’s disappearance. In the foyer, April MacLean tries to convince Tanya Adeola to help her decorate for the autumn prom. Tanya declines due to her strict mother, and April ponders taking the new kid, Charlie, as her date.

The new physics teacher, Miss Quill, argues with the head teacher, Mr. Armitage, over her new position. She soon convenes class and chastizes the kids over their personality quirks. She tries to stump the students with a difficult equation, but Tanya recognizes it as a Gibbs probability density (the Boltzmann distribution) of a classical Klein-Gordon field. After class, Charlie lets April down by telling her that he’s taking Matteusz as his date. April’s disappointed but happy that Charlie’s out and proud.

At a later football match, Ram Singh misses a goal when he spots a mysterious shadow on the field. Meanwhile, Tanya spots a similar shadow while walking home, and this shadow chases her into a shop. She dismisses the shadow as being under too much stress. Tanya later returns home, is chastised by her mother for not doing her homework, and calls Ram to tutor him in physics. April ends up facing the shadow as Ram tries to help her via video call.

Charlie heads home as well only to find Miss Quill waiting for him. He questions her about the burn marks on the floor and whether or not she killed Kevin. As Quill steps outside, she reminisces about the prior night’s events – she made Kevin shoot the monster, but the two ended up killing each other – and walks off with the gun that she’s not allowed to shoot in her pocket.

April ends up decorating for the prom alone and gets attacked by the shadow. Miss Quill arrives and tells April to run as they face the creature, telling April to use the gun. Before she can shoot it, Charlie interferes and knocks the gun out of her hands. The shot goes wild and clips the monster, and as April staggers from the pain, Miss Quill explains that the weapon is a displacement gun. Effectively, it displaces the target in space and time by sacrificing the shooter.

Since April hit the Shadow Kin with a glancing blow, they now share a heart. The creature retreats from both the school and Tanya’s room, and Tanya’s mother freaks out about the video call. Charlie and Miss Quill help April decorate for the prom and April learns the truth about the other two. Charlie is a Rhodian prince and Miss Quill is a freedom fighter from an opposing force. When the war ended, Quill was bound to Charlie’s service by a parasitic arn, which prevents her from using the gun. During the war, the Shadow Kin slaughtered all of the Rhodians. Quill saved Charlie and they were dropped on Earth by a figure of legend out of space and time. That figure, the Doctor, left them in hiding at Coal Hill School.

Since her heart is split across space and time, April hears the Shadow Kin’s thoughts. The creature is coming for Charlie and the object that he salvaged from his homeworld. Later that night, Charlie ponders the mysterious box while April stares at the stars.

The next morning, April warns Tanya to be careful of the shadow while at the prom. Tanya passes the warning to Ram later on, and as April, Ram, and Charlie prepare for the prom, Tanya tells her mother that going to the dance will help with a school assignment. Charlie, April, Matteusz, Ram, and his girlfriend Rachel arrive as Miss Quill chaperones the event. Everything goes well until the Shadow Kin makes contact through April, warning that it is coming through the rift that it created.

The creature kills Rachel and the students engage a group of the Shadow Kin. April tries to convince everyone to evacuate the school, but the students refuse. As the Shadow Kin burst through the doors, however, the students run. Meanwhile, Ram loses a leg as he attacks a Shadow Kin. The Shadow King confronts Charlie and destroys the gun, but as the king advances, the battle is interrupted by the Twelfth Doctor.

The Doctor riffs on once being the school’s caretaker before confronting the Shadow King, inadvertently revealing Charlie’s and Quill’s secret identities. The Shadow Kin demands the Cabinet of Souls, which supposedly contains the souls of every Rhodian and could be used as a weapon. While the Doctor questions avenging a genocide with genocide, Charlie reveals that the cabinet is empty. The legends were just a myth.

April threatens to kill herself to defeat the Shadow King, but the Doctor and Tanya fight back by eliminating the shadows in the school. Without a shadow to hide in, the Shadow Kin cannot occupy the space. The king threatens to take April with him, but Ram knocks the king into the rift as the Doctor seals it.

In the aftermath of the battle, the authorities clean up the mess while the Doctor assesses the new team. He reveals that the excess of artron energy in the area has worn the fabric of space/time quite thin. The school acts like a beacon and this team will need to defend the school. Ram is healed with an alien prosthetic leg and Miss Quill is left in charge of the defense force as penance for Kevin’s death.

With that, the Doctor departs.

Ram and Tanya head home in disbelief of the night’s events, the former trying to get used to his new leg and come to terms with Rachel’s death. Charlie promises April that they’ll get her heart back, and she tells Charlie about her mother who was paralyzed in a car accident. April says that if her mother can adjust, so can she.

Quill asks Charlie how he’s not consumed by the rage over the loss of his people like she is over her own. He doesn’t see a point in the rage, then returns to his room to reveal that the Cabinet of Souls is indeed full.


This is a decent start with a generic story that has a Doctor Who meets The CW feeling. It’s an interesting touch to have the two aliens in charge of the school’s new defense force be refugees, one the last of his kind and the other unable to wield her special weapon. I also like that our heroes have flaws to overcome during this journey. The potential exists for a decent ensemble adventure.

The Coal Hill School Roll of Honors is a nice touch in a setting reminiscent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer – explained here as existing in the Doctor Who universe alongside Once Upon a Time and The Vampire Diaries – and draws the Doctor with Clara‘s name among those who have mysteriously disappeared from the school. The Doctor may not recognize her name directly, but he should recognize Danny Pink and Susan Foreman. Just like Sunnydale High, Coal Hill acknowledges that there’s something strange in the neighborhood but they can’t quite put a finger on what it is.

Pilot episodes are shaky, and this is no exception. But with the Doctor there to bless this spinoff, I’m eager to see what this ensemble does with the potential that they have been gifted.

Rating: 3/5 – “Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.”


UP NEXT – Class: The Coach with the Dragon Tattoo

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Culture on My Mind – Lord, Laird, Lady?

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Lord, Laird, Lady?
December 30, 2022

This week, I’m reading about the downfall of a YouTube sponsorship. We’ve all seen the advertisements as we’re perusing our favorite videos – let’s face it, there are a lot of ads on the platform, and the frequency seems to be increasing – and I know that I wondered about the logistics and legalities of owning a square foot of land in Scotland.

I mean, the appeal is pretty big from a novelty perspective. Make a donation, get a certificate, and laugh about being a Lord of Scotland. But how deep does that rabbit hole go? I tried digging into it back in June and landed on an article from Tales of Times Forgotten named No, You Can’t Buy One Square Foot of Land in Scotland and Become a “Scottish Lord”. But the dissent was sparse at that point. I mean, I had no intention of buying in after living through trends like the “buy a star for your loved ones” in the ’90s, and I donated directly to ecological charities and causes to make a difference, but I was certainly curious about how something like Established Titles worked.

YouTuber Scott Shafer cracked the story open recently, and I found out about his work through YouTubers like Pleasant Green and LegalEagle. It certainly has the YouTube community in an uproar as content creators take their various sides and start hurling mud, but at least we have some answers.

No, you can’t buy a small piece of land and earn a title. Yes, companies like this are under investigation for their business practices.

And, yes, they’re pulling their sponsorships and closing ranks, which implies a lot about the case on the whole.

There is more to come on the matter, but I think that these two videos are a great starting point for the logistics and legalities. Both of them sum up Scott Shafer’s original research quite well. Take some time to dive in if you’re interested.

LegalEagle:

Pleasant Green:

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Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

STEAM Saturday – Artemis to the Moon

STEAMSaturday

STEAM Saturday
Artemis to the Moon
December 24, 2022

In this edition, we start with the Artemis program’s successful flight, bizarre creatures at the bottom of the ocean, and a major fusion breakthrough.

It has been a while since I published a STEAM Saturday, so there are a few more video links for you to peruse over the holidays. I hope you and yours have a safe and warm holiday season. See you next year.

STEAMHeadlines

NASA – Liftoff! NASA’s Artemis I Mega Rocket Launches Orion to Moon (Nov 16, 2022)
Following a successful launch of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), the most powerful rocket in the world, the agency’s Orion spacecraft is on its way to the Moon as part of the Artemis program. Carrying an uncrewed Orion, SLS lifted off for its flight test debut at 1:47 a.m. EST Wednesday from Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA – Splashdown! NASA’s Orion Returns to Earth After Historic Moon Mission (Dec 11, 2022)
NASA’s Orion spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, west of Baja California, at 9:40 a.m. PST Sunday after a record-breaking mission, traveling more than 1.4 million miles on a path around the Moon and returning safely to Earth, completing the Artemis I flight test.

Space.com – Spacesuited Snoopy doll floats in zero-g on moon-bound Artemis 1 mission (Nov 16, 2022)
“When NASA was identifying what the ZGI would be, it just seemed to make sense that it was Snoopy.”

Science Alert – A Host of Bizarre Creatures Has Been Found At The Bottom of The Ocean (Nov 4, 2022)
From fish on stilts to creatures of ooze, the strange denizens of the deep uncovered during investigations of two new marine parks located 2,500 kilometers (about 1,500 miles) off Australia’s western coast were a dream come true for researchers.

BBC – US scientists announce fusion energy breakthrough (Dec 12, 2022)
Physicists have pursued the technology for decades as it promises a potential source of near-limitless clean energy. On Tuesday researchers confirmed they have overcome a major barrier – producing more energy from a fusion experiment than was put in. But experts say there is still some way to go before fusion powers homes.

Scientific American – Nuclear Fusion Lab Achieves ‘Ignition’: What Does It Mean? (Dec 13, 2022)
Scientists at the world’s largest nuclear-fusion facility have achieved the phenomenon known as ignition—creating a nuclear reaction that generates more energy than it consumes.

NPR – J. Robert Oppenheimer’s security clearance was wrongly revoked, energy secretary says (Dec 17, 2022)
The Biden administration is reversing a 1954 decision that revoked J. Robert Oppenheimer, known as the father of the atomic bomb, of his security clearance and ultimately ended his career as a physicist.

ScienceNews – The first planet found by the Kepler space telescope is doomed (Dec 19, 2022)
The first planet ever spotted by the Kepler space telescope is falling into its star. The planet has roughly 2.5 million years left before it faces a fiery death.


STEAMSci

Physics Girl – Hosted by Dianna Cowern, a science communicator and physics alumna from MIT, this show was part of PBS Digital Studios until 2020. She uses her platform to explore complex physics, astronomy, and science-related topics in simple terms.

Veritasium – A combination of the Latin for truth, veritas, and the suffix common to many elements, -ium, this show is literally an element of truth. It is hosted by Australian-Canadian science communicator, filmmaker, and inventor Derek Muller (Ph.D., Physics Education Research).

Ask a Mortician – Caitlin Doughty is a mortician, author, blogger, and YouTube personality known for advocating death acceptance and the reform of Western funeral industry practices. You got death questions, she’s got death answers. Ask a Mortician was suggested by Sue Kisenwether.

 


STEAMTech

Ceddar – Cheddar News feeds curiosity about what’s next with the latest in business news, culture, media, technology and innovation shaping our world tomorrow.

Becky Stern – Becky Stern is a maker living in NYC. Making and sharing are her two biggest passions!

 


STEAMEng

Practical Engineering – Grady Hillhouse is a civil engineer in San Antonio, Texas. His channel aims to increase exposure and interest in the field of engineering by highlighting the connection between the world around us and the energy, passion, and thought that goes into making it a nicer place to live.

Not Just Bikes – Stories of great urban planning and urban experiences from the Netherlands and beyond. There are a lot of reasons why Dutch cities are so great; it’s not just bikes.

 


STEAMArt

Shop Time – Peter Brown is a geek with a full set of power tools, and he uses that knowledge to experiment, craft, and have fun.

Ben’s Worx – Ben is a maker from Queensland, Australia who has always had an interest in woodworking. He makes all kinds of things from wood, metal, plastics, and epoxy resin, and loves to experiment in the name of entertainment.

Moonpie Creations – Ken is a woodworker and creator who likes to have fun. A combat veteran, he uses his tools as a way to relax and deal with everyday stress. He loves to try new things, think outside the box, and stay cool.

Boylei Hobby Time – A hobbyist just trying to make fun things and inspire you to be creative.

Defunctland – Defunctland is a YouTube series created by filmmaker Kevin Perjurer telling the stories of pop culture’s past. With a focus on theme parks and themed entertainment experiences, Kevin guides audiences through colorful, dramatic, and often surprising narratives of nostalgia, business, and creativity. A spin-off show named DefunctTV explores the history of children’s television entertainment.


STEAMMath

8-bit Music Theory – This YouTuber loves music, video games, and analyzing and talking about music from video games. He promises that if you are a big nerd, you’ll love it too!

 


STEAMMulti

Veritasium – A combination of the Latin for truth, veritas, and the suffix common to many elements, -ium, this show is literally an element of truth. It is hosted by Australian-Canadian science communicator, filmmaker, and inventor Derek Muller (Ph.D., Physics Education Research).

Johnny Harris – Johnny Harris makes videos about maps… and other things.

Mark Rober – An engineer and inventor, Mark Rober presents popular science concepts and do-it-yourself gadgets in easy-to-understand terms. He was previously a NASA engineer (where he worked on the Curiosity rover) and a product designer at Apple’s Special Projects Group (where he authored patents involving virtual reality in self-driving cars). One of his best-known series involves the development of a glitter bomb to combat porch pirates and internet scammers.

Wendover Productions – Wendover Productions, run by filmmaker Sam Denby, is all about explaining how our world works. From travel, to economics, to geography, to marketing, and more, every video will leave you with a little better understanding of our world.

U Can Beat Video Games – U Can Beat Video Games is a YouTube channel for all of us! Have you ever wanted to get better at video games, but every video requires players to have superhuman abilities? On UCBVG, watch Kylo take on titles like Castlevania, Mega Man, or Zelda, and learn strategies that anyone can use for these games and more! UCBVG also discusses the history and technology behind these games during his tutorials.

 


If you have any suggestions for STEAM Saturday, please leave them below in the comments. If your suggestion is used, your name will be credited.

Disclaimers: Any sponsored content or advertising presented in videos and/or links highlighted in STEAM Saturday are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Creative Criticality. Pursue such content and offers at your own risk. The links and videos attached to this post were publicly available at the time of publication, but there is no guarantee of availability after publication.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope that something inspired you to get out there and explore the universe.

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STEAM Saturday is a celebration of curiosity and imagination through science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics, the very building blocks of the universe around us.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.