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, 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

Resident Evil: Retribution (Movie Review)

I hate to sound like a Negative Nancy, but the script was mostly incoherent and the acting was sub-par at best. I went through the entire film thinking, “a movie is supposed to be a story” — whereas this felt like an incomplete chapter. I know we don’t walk into a Resident Evil film thinking it’s gonna be a classic, but it should at least have a captivating story. This film, like the previous installment, relied too heavily on the CGI.

If you’ve missed one or two of the Resident Evil entries since the original big hit in 2002, there’s no need to worry, so have some of the actors. Reprising roles from one previous films or another are: Michelle Rodriguez (Rain, No. 1), Oded Fehr (Carlos, Nos. 2 and 3), Sienna Guillory (Jill, Nos. 2 and 4) and Boris Kodjoe (Luther, No. 4). Don’t fret, either, if you’ve never seen one of these films in your life. A handy prologue, narrated by Alice, lays it all out for you.

I was also a little turned off by how they just plucked things out of various Resident Evil games and stuck them all in together to appease gamers, it’s a complete “let’s just stick this in there, that should suffice” mentality. And yes, I do understand that the majority of people who go see these films are fans of the gaming series, but for those who aren’t, they wouldn’t know who some of the characters were.

In Resident Evil: Afterlife, a newspaper clipping stated that one of those characters (who was in this film) had already been killed off, so even I was a little bit confused. That being said, I still managed to get a nostalgic erection seeing those characters for the first time onscreen.

As for the 3-D, it’s pleasing if you’re an occasional moviegoer, but for those who judge a 3-D experience based on the number of objects that fly out of the screen, you might be in for a little bit of a disappointment. The 3-D was seldom used during this film. This isn’t a big issue for myself, as I’m not really a fan of it being incorporated into film.

In conclusion: Resident Evil: Retribution is style-over-substance in every possible definition of the concept. The plot only served as an excuse to move the characters quite literally from one action sequence to the next, and the 3-D is uncomfortable, off-putting, and will more than likely draw you out of the ensuing onscreen action. A number of later developments clearly show that the director (Paul W.S. Anderson) avoided emotional character moments in favor of over-the-top action at every single turn. However, in a time when amateur filmmakers can throw together cool action videos with blockbuster CGI special effects in their home office, context and competent storytelling should be more relevant than ever. If Anderson doesn’t care enough about his characters and story to make them anything but emotionless fighting and shooting machines, why should we, the audience, care to sign up for further installments of his Resident Evil vision?resident_evil_retribution_2-t2

Expanding my documentary horizons

I tend to watch a lot of nature, deep sea and Egyptian related documentaries. That’s really where my passion lies, but I’ve learned to broaden my tastes in recent months.

5 Broken Cameras—An extraordinary cinematic work of political activism, this film is a deeply personal, first-hand account of non-violent resistance in Bil’in, a West Bank village threatened by encroaching Israeli settlements.

Unscarred: The Nick Mondo Story—If you’re a wrestling fan, I implore you to give this film a shot. This docu covers everything from early life and humble beginnings to uncertainty in the business and ultimately having to give up his dream. Low budget it is, but the passion he brings to the table more than makes up for it. You will witness the rebirth of Matt Burns aka “Sick” Nick Mondo.

Food, Inc.—This film really woke me up to exactly what we purchase in our local grocery store. After you see this film—and it is essential that you do—you will have a different outlook, not just on nutrition, but also on what you put in your shopping cart. This film helped me to establish a love/hate relationship with fast food. Also, it made me look at name brands like Tyson and Purdue differently, and the inhumane, unhealthy and unsanitary conditions in which chickens, cattle and pigs are raised and slaughtered. This film was an eye-opener, to say the very least.

The Fog of War—This is an amazing story of America as seen through the eyes of the former Secretary of Defense, Robert S. McNamara. One of the most controversial and influential figures in world politics, he takes us on an insider’s view of the seminal events of the 20th Century. Political leaders worldwide could learn a lot from this compelling look at the welfare of mankind.

Now I’m about to watch the Jodi Arias Documentary, which you can find on Youtube.