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The three members of the Paleontology club sat in the near-dark of Trilobite Park's education centre. They sat apart from the other students, who they had come to hate in a very short span of time.

"This is not as much fun as I thought it was going to be," Blake said. "You getting a signal yet, Juraj?"

"Still nothing," Juraj said, holding up his phone. "Damn it, I have to log in soon. My Candy Train Empire needs constant updating if I want the Crystal Station built by Wednesday."

"Cheese 'n' crackers," Daisy sighed. "Turn off the damn phone. Everyone turn off your phones. You ain't got no way to recharge 'em so just check in once an hour, capice." ...continue reading "Trilobite Park — Chapter 18: Courage"

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Leonard Nimoy In Search Of S04E16 Vincent van Gogh
A good screencap or the best screencap? You decide.

This one is… Ah. This one is frustrating. Brilliant, but frustrating. With a lot of episodes of this show, I really don't know how Nimoy feels about the rubbish they have him spouting. With this one, it's very clear that he's quite passionate about the subject -- Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh. Nimoy, as he explains early in the episode, once played Vincent's brother, Theo. Through that experience, he became deeply fascinated with Vincent's life. Later (after filming this episode?) he wrote and starred in a one-man pay about Vincent. A filmed version of this play apparently exists, but I gather it's extremely difficult to find. Nimoy went on to write the play into a book, which was published in the 80s.

My point is, this is clearly a subject dear to Nimoy's heart, and he really pours himself into the episode. His usually brilliant narration goes well above and beyond it's normal quality. During the linking scenes where he's meant to be in France, he's actually in France, not in some part of Southern California which looks a bit like Paris. He's far more deeply embedded in the show than usual, walking through the places Vincent worked and lived. When he describes Vincent's suicide, it's almost like he's fighting back tears -- and it's hard not to choke up watching it.

Unfortunately, in spite of its many, many strengths, the episode has a glaring problem. Namely, the structure of the episode is based on Nimoy looking for proof that van Gogh was not a 'madman' after all. And this is… yeah. This is weird.

It's a good documentary. I really want to stress this. I'm no expert on van Gogh, but I've seen serious documentaries made by the BBC that aren't as informative, entertaining or sensitive. But central to it all is Nimoy's quest to prove that van Gogh wasn't a 'madman' -- rather than just, you know, rethinking his prejudices about mental illness. I know there's no definitive, agreed diagnosis on van Gogh's condition but -- bottom line -- the man was mentally ill. No he wasn't a stage 'madman', a movie 'madman'; but most mentally ill people aren't that either. Nimoy argues that van Gogh's work is too brilliant for the artist to be 'mad' and… well, just no. There are, were, and will be lots of people with mental illnesses who are talented creatives.

Nimoy's conclusion is that van Gogh was not a 'madman' but an epileptic. I honestly don't know enough about epilepsy to know is this is likely. But basically arguing that van Gogh's erratic behaviour was neurological rather than psychological in nature means… what, exactly?

To be fair, in Nimoy's summing up, he wonders himself about the utility of asking the question 'what was wrong with van Gogh.' He concludes that asking the question is more valuable than the answers he found. And also to be fair, Nimoy clearly wasn't done with van Gogh. The episode looks like it's about moving van Gogh from one box to another box, but I suspect that Nimoy realised the inadequacy of that as a means of understanding one of history's truly great artists.

Quote

"But I found something that was, in a sense, beyond the search." Nimoy.

Summing Up

Personal quest: 10/10, Decent documentary: 9/10, Location filming: 10/10, Interesting subject: 10/10, Understanding issues of mental illness: 0/10. 39/50. Distinction.

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When the alarms went off and the lockdown locked down, Valerie had been in Thag's office, trying to find a suitable instructional video about ancient curses on YouTube.

"I think we were right about this place being cursed," she said, shouting over the klaxon.

"Yeah, I gathered," said the perpetually exasperated Thag, turning on his phone-light. "And now the internet has gone down. Great."

"What do we do now?"

"Me?" Thag said. "I'm HR Manager, so I'd better get to work saving peoples' lives and trying to stop the curse. You? You've been very helpful, but this isn't really your responsibility. You can just hide out here in my office, if you like."

"Now hold on, I'm the one who sold –" ...continue reading "Trilobite Park — Chapter 17: Danger at Every Turn"

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After some serious deliberation the students and plumbers decided that, for safety's sake, the Prime Minister needed to be hidden. After a lot of arguing, no one was willing to accept responsibility for babysitting the nation's leader. In the end, they drew straws and June ended up responsible for finding a hidey hole for the doughy idiot.

Sighing deeper than she'd ever sighed before, she led Prime Minister Brett Blandson through the darkened corridors of Trilobite Park. "If we can make it to the security office, that barbarian woman can look after you," she said.

"I've got nothing against the Barbarian people," the PM said, "they've made a wonderful addition to this great country, but did she arrive legally? Or at least illegally, but by plane?"

"Shut up." ...continue reading "Trilobite Park — Chapter 16: The Doom that Came to Room 12a"

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2

Jacobs stood with Hey Ew in the twilit corridor outside Room 807b. The floor was wet with brine that trickled out from under the door. The emergency lighting buzzed and flickered. A vending machine lay broken on the floor.

"The lights are off for, like, twenty minutes and already people are breaking into vending machines," Jacobs scowled.

"No, the vending machines were all broken into long before the emergency," Hay said. "It was just after my cafeteria opened, as a matter of fact." ...continue reading "Trilobite Park — Chapter 15: Winds of Terror"

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Stock certificate In Search Of S04e15 The Missing Heir

Now this one's pretty cool. I thought from the title it would be about a missing person case, but it's actually about an old stock certificate, the current owner of which is unknown. 'Fair enough' you say, but the certificate was worth three million dollars in the late 1970s. That is a spicy meatball!

We start with some pictures of the American West and a little speech about the land of opportunity, before Nimoy points out that there are a surprisingly large number of unclaimed assets in the US. Then we get into the details of this one, super valuable stock certificate, held in San Francisco by Wells Fargo Bank and owned by – well, no one knows. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S04E15 The Missing Heir"

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