The X-Files


One of the most iconic shows of the ’90s, The X-Files, captured a generation of people who thought outside the box and “wanted to believe”.

The premise of the show revolves around two FBI agents exploring the paranormal from two completely different biases. You have Dana Scully; a strong, sophisticated and level-headed young lady, whose job it is to debunk the work of her partner after being assigned to work with him in the basement of the bureau. Scully is a skeptic, often putting science at the forefront to explain the unexplainable. Fox Mulder, on the other hand, is a rather credulous character. Often referred to as “Spooky” by his peers, he has become obsessed with finding his sister Samantha who was abducted—ostensibly by aliens—and was never recovered.

The show tells a number of different stories. But, there are two main stories on which the X-Files focuses. The stand alone episodes are the self-contained genre stories such as horror, thrillers and science fiction. Then, you have the mythology episodes, which deal with the Mulder/Scully pursuit of a conspiracy to hide something from the American public.

Something I’ve always admired about the show was the writing, it delivered a level of quality that far surpassed anything before it. Howard Gordon (Homeland), Darin Morgan (Fringe), David Amann (Castle), and Vince Gilligan (creator of Breaking Bad) were just a few of the standout writers on the show. I think this gives you a good indication on just how strong the writing was.

The influence the X-Files has had on television is undeniable. Many shows, specifically science fiction dramas, have followed its stellar storytelling format even ten years later. Lost, Supernatural and Fringe are just a few of the shows that have paid homage to the X-Files in some way, shape or form.

In the later years, the show injected some new characters into the mix. You had Agent John Doggett (Robert Patrick—love his work), and Special Agent Reyes (Annabeth Gish). While the introduction of these characters was not well received amongst the cult-like fans, they played a crucial role in the ending of the series. (I, however, thought it strengthened the show, bringing renewed interest to a series that was 8 seasons in). But, hey, I guess this is something we can elaborate on further if this topic generates some comments.

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Synesthesia


I’ve been working/re-working this topic for a while now on my blog, trying to gather information on the subject by talking to people who experience it on a day-to-day basis. Perhaps this will lead to a worthwhile discussion.

So, what exactly is synesthesia? It’s more of a neurological phenomenon, where a stimulus in one part of the brain triggers a response in another, unrelated brain region—for example, seeing sounds as colours,shapes, and relational space. Multiple types of synesthesia have been reported, though there are hundreds of possible types out there. The most common types are grapheme-colour, sound-colour and day of the week/month-colour. In short, synesthesia is when someone associates/experiences colours with sounds, numbers and words.

[As seen on the wikipedia page]

580px-Synesthesia.svg
(e.g. Monday is red, Tuesday is a blue)

From my understanding, there are two categories of synesthesia (perhaps more): projected and associated. Someone with projected synesthesia (let’s say sound-to-colour) actually sees the colours in their field of vision. Someone with associated synesthesia sees the colours in their “mind’s eye”. Both types are equally valid; associated in many different types of synesthesia.

One study I read suggested that 1 in 2,000 people are synesthetes, but another (LiveScience) found it was 1 in 23. Obviously more research is needed to figure out what the real prevalence is, but I would imagine it’s closer to the 1 in 23 statistic, especially considering I’ve met (and become friends) w/ four random people who experience it on a regular basis in the last year alone. The difference between men and women is prevalent as well. Studies show that three times as many women as men have experience synesthesia, but this might be because women are more likely to acknowledge having it, more so than men. Though studies have often shown it’s more prevalent in women. Synesthesia is also associated with other traits and conditions such as autism spectrum disorders (ASD), OCD, left-handedness and being artistic.

Do any of you experience the phenomenon known as synesthesia? Or do you have friends who do? I’d love to hear your feedback on the subject.

For more information on this topic, I direct you to these pages:
http://www.cell.com/neuron/abstract/S0896-6273%2805%2900835-4?cc=y?cc=y
http://www.bu.edu/synesthesia/faq/

What do you collect? (Zippo Lighters)


One of the few things I still collect are Zippo lighters.

At first this was mostly just a hobby, which quickly turned into a full-blown love affair. I love the sound they make when you open them, keeping them well maintained, and of course, the smell they give off after being lit. Such a wonderful aroma. I’ve also learned quite a few cool tricks over the years, like opening it w/ one hand (the squeeze), rolling it through the fingers (Zippo Tango) and sparking the light with the snap of your fingers…but those are all pretty basic. (Yeah… I’m a total douchebag for mentioning that).

Over the years, my collection has grown to about 40+ lighters. While that might not be a lot to some, at $20-$30 (up to even $50) a pop, one has to set a budget. I’ve sold at least 10 lighters in the last two years, and I was able to get more for some of them than I originally paid. Not all lighters skyrocket in value though, which is why you should have a good understanding of everything engraved on the bottom: year, style, model, serial code, etc.

Fun fact: People often think the lighters are manufactured by prisoners, and that the letters on the bottom stamp indicate their crime—”R” for rape, “M” for murder, etc.—when, in fact, all they do is help identify the year and size of that particular Zippo.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures at the present time (my collection is at my mom’s place), but I will try to get a photo (or two) at some point during the holidays. Cheers, friends!

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Luka Magnotta to stand trial on first-degree murder


A Court of Quebec Judge ruled there is sufficient evidence for Magnotta to face first-degree murder charges in the slaying and dismemberment of Chinese exchange student Jun Lin.

Magnotta will also be tried on four other charges, including causing indignity to Lin’s body, broadcasting obscene material, using the postal service to send obscene material and harassment of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other members of Parliament.

Last year, the 30-year-old Ontario native pleaded not guilty and opted for trial before a judge and jury.

The weeks-long preliminary inquiry in the case wrapped up earlier today at the Montreal courthouse. Evidence presented at that hearing cannot be published because of a court-ordered ban.

Judge Lori Renée Weitzman, who heard from more than 30 witnesses in recent weeks, has ruled there is enough evidence to proceed to trial in the case.

Earlier this week, Magnotta’s lawyer told the court that if his client is ordered to stand trial, it should be on a lesser charge.

Luc Leclair, who is representing Magnotta, told the judge that the Crown must show that the killing was both planned and deliberate for a charge of first-degree.

He said based on his analysis, the judge cannot conclude the evidence presented at the hearing justifies that charge.

The trial date will be set on April 29. It’s unlikely the trial will commence this year, so I would imagine sometime in early 2014.

Writing: What it means to me (Short)


Well, I guess I’ll start off with why I love to write. For starters, I’m deeply passionate about putting pen to paper or fingers to keys. I don’t think it’s so much I love writing, it’s that I feel I have to write. This passion has been with me since I was a young lad growing up in the small, quiet and unobtrusive town of Hemmingford, Quebec. Back then I was always writing short stories on my experiences with video games, most notably The Legend of Zelda. (I would even create my own scenarios about how Link would defeat Ganon and save the princess.)

In high school my love for writing grew fonder, and it was noticeable in my work. I know teachers always say less is more in an effort to teach the importance of being clear and concise, but if I was given a 500-word writing assignment, you could be sure I’d write twice that. The main reason being that I was always going with more complex topics. This began in elementary school public speaking—while everyone else would speak about their love of firetrucks or baseball, I’d be explaining an overview of World War II.

While I had aspirations in high school of becoming an author, our dreams don’t always turn out the way we want them to. After college, life and work took over, and I stopped writing altogether. Two years ago I decided to start focusing on my writing again, and soon realized how much I’d forgotten in a few short years; especially in regards to punctuation. If I had joined this community three years ago, my run-on sentences may have made you cringe harder than seeing a family member in a bukkake video. (That’s how bad I was.) I see this, though, as the joy of writing—learning something new each and every day. I strive to better myself in this creative field with each passing day.

Finally, writing has been a godsend, of sorts, for me. Much like my bass guitar, it’s been a tremendous positive outlet for me to express my feelings. As someone who has dealt with anxiety, panic attacks and general unhappiness for the last several years, writing gives me something to focus on; it’s a distraction from negative thoughts, and makes me feel like I’m doing something constructive at the same time. In fact, I find I do some of my best work when emotions come into play, especially when angered or inebriated, and would like to know if others also find this to be the case.

As for what I’m doing these days, I’ve rekindled my passion for writing Movie and Gaming reviews. I’ve even broadened my tastes and jumped onto every day stories that surround us here in the real world. Keeping the mind occupied is one of the greatest things we can do for ourselves.

After a long fought battle, Chi Cheng passes at 42


The music world has lost another great musician over the weekend. Former Deftones bassist, Chi Cheng,  passed away at the tender age of 42. As many might recall, Cheng was seriously injured in a car accident in 2008, and while he’d been in a semi-conscious state then since, he had been starting to show signs of improvement over the last couple of years. Sadly, he lost this fight around 3 a.m. early Saturday morning (April 13th).

Cheng was taken to the emergency room the morning before, and while he was being treated, his heart simply stopped. On OneLoveForChi.com, his mother had this to say:

Our dearest Family,

This is the hardest thing to write to you. Your love and heart and devotion to Chi was unconditional and amazing.

I know that you will always remember him as a giant of a man on stage with a heart for every one of you.

He was taken to the emergency room and at 3 a.m. today his heart just suddenly stopped. He left this world with me singing songs he liked in his ear.

He fought the good fight.You stood by him sending love daily. He knew that he was very loved and never alone.

I will write more later. I will be going through the oneloveforchi site and any other information may not be reliable. If you have any stories or messages to share please send them to the onelove site. Please hold Mae and Ming and the siblings and especially Chi’s son, Gabriel in your prayers. It is so hard to let go.

With great love and “Much Respect!” Mom J (and Chi)

Musically, Cheng was a very passionate, influential musician with a style that made you take notice on stage. This also reflected an uncanny ability to lay down subtle, yet distinctive notes perhaps best heard on ‘Change (In The House Of Flies)’. Behind the scenes, Cheng was a practicing Buddhist, and maintained an interest in Taoism and Shamanism. He often signed off letters with “The Violently Pacifistic Buddhist Thug.” Cheng was a very impassioned man, dedicating a lot of free time and finances to causes such as PETA and WEAVE. Cheng, along with his band mates, also sponsored a community service group based out of the band’s hometown of Sacramento, California. The group aids homeless citizens in developing their musical talents, among other things. The band asked media outlets desiring concert access for five dollar donations to the Chi Ling Cheng Special Needs Trust at a show this past fall at the Fillmore, showing that Cheng remained at the forefront of his band mates’ minds.

Prior to accompanying the band in ’98, Cheng had begun studying literature at Sacramento State College when he answered an ad Chino Moreno and his band mates had posted looking to acquire a bass player. He would then go on to play bass with the band on five Deftones albums, beginning with Adrenaline, the outfit’s 1995 debut, and culminating with Saturday Night Wrist in 2006.

The news of his passing is being mourned worldwide by friends, family and the metal community as a whole. Everyone has taken to social media upon hearing the news, myself included. On twitter, #RIPCHICHENG was trending worldwide. An impromptu candlelight vigil also took place Sunday night (April 14th) at Cesar Chavez Park in Sacremento, California.

On a personal note, I’m deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Chi, he was genuinely influential in my early years of music. In fact, it was their music and his style that made me pick up a bass almost 17 years ago. And how fitting it was that the very first song I ever learned to play on that Ibanez 4-string was ‘My Own Summer’ by the Deftones. I know he went through a lot of hardships after his accident, so I truly hope he’s in a better place now. The music world has lost a great musician today. Chi, I thank you for inspiring me to play. Rest easy, brother.Image

Need For Speed: Most Wanted (Initial Thoughts)


Having just acquired this game recently, I haven’t experienced all that much of it. Here are a few of my initial thoughts on it thus far:

As a long time fan of the series, and purchaser of the original Need For Speed on PS1, I have both positive and negative things to say about this latest installment in the franchise.

While there are many positives, the game really slaps you in the face with the negatives right away. I’m not a fan of those slow, annoying and unskippable crash sequences. This should have been drastically improved upon; it’s completely maddening, especially when your mind is really set on winning the race. It’s a complete slowdown. Save the crash animation for games like Burnout: Paradise, which is also made by the same company. I’m a little put off by the handling of some of the cars; the driving mechanics could be a little smoother. It feels as If I’m driving the ice cream truck from GTA: Vice City sometimes, but again, I must reiterate, I haven’t gotten that far into the game. I’ve been spending most of the time just driving around doing ludicrous stunts with friends.

The incentive here is the multiplayer. That’s what I’m really enjoying the most; especially since I’m not a hardcore race fan to begin with, nor a fan of racing games in general. Overall, the game is aesthetically very pleasing, and I’m definitely digging the scope of the map. The exploration aspect alone helps to sell me on a game early on. I recall having a lot of fun in the original Test Drive, as it had such an open world that allowed you to roam freely for hours at a time. The new Easy Drive menu allows (and overall simplifies) destination selection and modding of your vehicle. Speaking of the cars, they look absolutely amazing, so detailed and polished compared to that of previous installments. The racing, from what I’ve seen, is well balanced, with excellent AI interaction as well.

In all honesty though, it’s a shame this game was made nearing the end of the console cycle. I truly believe Criterion could have made an even better game had they waited. If you’re a racing enthusiast though, I definitely recommend this one.Image