The Truth Is Still Out There

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I started watching The X-files during the season 2. I was able to see most of the first season episodes thanks to reruns at the time, but I’m glad I wasn’t late to the party. When the show starting to come out on DVD, I jumped at the chance to own each season. Now I own the blu-ray set, all 9 seasons, and there’s a couple of place holders for new seasons.

Science fiction is a hit-or-miss genre. There’s a lot of terrible content out there. However, these days the genre is well represented. That wasn’t really the case back in the 90s. That changed with The X-Files, a realistic show about the paranormal and supernatural. The show made me appreciate sci-fi and helped make it the genre I prefer for my writing projects.

Why was the show so successful? Probably thanks to the main cast, the writers, but also because the show kept you guessing. Chris Carter, the creator, once said that you never know who might be killed off next. He also took care to keep episodes spooky, by making sure the audience had to use their imagination for some of the monsters and aliens. While later on this was somewhat abandoned thanks to better special effects, the early shows showed you just enough to get you thinking. Sometimes it’s what you don’t see that’s the most scary.

A few months ago I started watching the series from the beginning. It was the first time watching on blu-ray, and I enjoyed every moment of it. Each episode was originally filmed in widescreen format, so no troublesome black bars. The quality of the picture was great, though still not true HD. The collection had all of the previous special features of the DVD box sets, plus a few new things.

This latest run through has reminded me of everything I liked about the show. I also feel like I understand the mythology better.I don’t think there is any bad episode, even after 9 years. My favorite seasons is probably the early ones., 1-4, but I enjoyed the later ones as well. (As a side note, I also got a copy of The Lone Gunmen season, which clears up a few things too). I’m sure some fans may feel different, but I can’t think of a bad episode. I did like some more than others, and some might not have been as enjoyable. However, I never felt like I wasted time watching one. I looked forward to each episode and some still scared me even after so much time has passed. At times the show felt fresh and new.

For The X-Files event, I’m glad I watched the original series again. While not necessary, I think having the older episodes in recent memory has brought more satisfaction to watching the new episodes. The 6-episode event starts off with a mythology episode, with a comedy episode in the middle. The short series very much encompasses what a normal season was like. There was the main plot line running through the show, but also non-mythology stories one might call the monster-of-the-week.

I feel this was a good decision on Carter’s part, it kept the show fresh and interesting. Had the show simply focused on the mythology episodes, the event episodes wouldn’t have felt the same as the original series. Carter often tried to give fans a break between the mythology shows or if one episode was particularly emotionally heavy.

After watching the event for a second time, I think my favorite episode was “Babylon.” I especially loved the end with Mulder and Scully, having a nice moment. And we got to see The Lone Gunman again. I also really liked the episode about the were-monster played by Rhys Darby. Joel McHale plays an important role in the first and last episodes of the event. I do like both actors for different reasons. McHale does a fine job playing a right-wing nut job conspiracy theorist. Darby is just amazing.

There’s hope that The X-Files will continue on, with either a movie or new episodes, however brief they may seem. The cliff-hanger ending at least allows the possibility. Clearly the show has past the time when it was pulling 24 episodes a season, but Fox did allow The X-Files to keep it’s time length at about 44 minutes per show. And one final fun thing, the original intro was used, a little nostalgia.

The X-Files made my love of sci-fi. The show inspired me to focus on sci-fi for my writing projects. Even though the show may appear a bit dated, were’re all getting older you know, I think the new event fits well with the original series and doesn’t’ feel like a rehash of the original series. It’s great to see the show make a comeback, even if it ends up being short-lived. At the very least we know there is an appetite for old and new fans alike to watch Mulder and Scully at it again. I guess it’s true, the truth is out there…

 

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Trying Something New

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Last month I became Lyft driver. It’s a job that promises to pay better than other ride-sharing services. Ride-sharing provides a unique way to make money, but it depends on the rides you are able to find and how far you have to drive to find them. While I do think Lyft is a good service, I decided that it’s not really worth it for me. Driving an electric car for something like this is best in a major city. And really, I don’t like driving, haha.

I’ve been researching other potential jobs for the last month or so.  I’ve talked about getting a job before on my blog, but it’s difficult for me to find something that is a good fit. I am focusing on working towards getting a job as an or writer in some capacity. That is why I’m working on improving my writing skills.

EDX.com has several online courses and I recently decided to take a class on grammar. My hope is that I can learn how to become a professional editor/writer. Once I finish, I’ll get a certificate of completion, and that’s going on my resume. I plan to take the class over and over again or something like it until I reinforce the knowledge gained. And of course, while I do this, I’ll be working on a couple of stories too. 😉

 

Twilight of the Elites

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Now that I am focusing on writing again, submitting my short Strange Creatures to a Sci-Fi magazine, I’ve decided that I needed to read books again. I have a few books that I started but never finished. This year, I got back into reading thanks to The Lose Your Belly Diet by Dr. Travis Stork. I continued by finishing Chris Hayes’ book, Twilight of the Elites.

This being Haye’s first book, which I did pre-order, I was looking forward to reading it and I almost finished the book in the month it came out. Distractions prevented me from finishing until a few days ago. I’m happy to say the book is fairly unbiased for the most apart. Yes Hayes’ solution to fixing institutional corruption, inequality, and other issues have a liberal feel in the book, but the decline of American institutions are discussed in a fair and balanced way.

Twilight of the Elites is a fairly unbiased account of why Americans have lost faith in their institutions. The fact is, be it government, corporation, religious institutions, or anything else, there has been a trend of the failure of our most trusted institutions. This has led to a frustration and mistrust of authority.

Hayes carefully examines many of the institutional failures over the past few decades. He explains how elite-think has failed and why major leaders from various sectors of American life have failed to do what the American people want or have failed to do their duty.

Hayes suggests that social distance plays a major reason leaders have acted unethically, committed certain illegal acts , or made catastrophic mistakes. Social distance refers to the disconnect between two groups. For example, the wealthy often do not understand the plight of the poor or middle class, because they don’t interact with those economic groups. The biggest takeaway I had from the book was that many of these so called elites lacked empathy and understanding of the people they were trying to serve. Hayes effectively points lays out how social distance impacts the public. Clearly, we all need to have a better relationship to each other, rich and poor.

Imagine you are a powerful leader. You have many advisors and friends helping you to make the right decisions. Now imagine they are all “yes men” and never question your thinking or your decisions. If everyone is always telling you what you want to hear, you can’t be an effective leader since you may not feel the need to question your own ideas. While it can be frustrating to be challenged often, it has its’ benefits.

I feel Twilight of the Elites It’s an insightful read. You may not agree with how Hayes would solve the problems of our failing or inept institutions, but the reasons Hayes lays out for why they fail make sense. The sad truth is, even with a merit-based society, there is still an unbalance with who reaps the rewards. And even though we imagine the smartest, best candidates should have leadership roles, they often are far removed from the common man and lack the understanding and empathy to serve them.

The book isn’t a major downer, like I have mentioned there are solutions to the problems of institutional corruption and failures. The solutions from Hayes may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but he does have a cautious optimism. Clearly we can find ways to solve the biggest issues facing the United States and even the world, but we have to find a way past the dangerous partisanship effecting our country before we can get back to solving the big problems.