Rewatching The X-Files

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Thanks to Netflix, binge re-watching old TV shows are a cinch! Forget your friends and family because in the next 12 (36, 48, 72) hours, you’ll be completely immersed in the world of 1990’s alien conspiracies.

I decided to rewatch The X-Files because I was SO scared of this show when I was a kid that the theme song still gives me the heeby jeebies. Now that I’m older (and wiser, I hope), I realize that some episodes aren’t scary at all and some are downright ridiculous.

For example, episode 14 in season 1 features sexy, murderous Amish aliens who can change genders. Crop circle ensues.

But I do have a newfound appreciation for this show. Here’s why:

  1. X-Files was scary before TV was scary. It’s pretty remarkable to think that The X-Files was a precursor to other creepy, spine-tingling tv shows that left you hanging after every episode – like Walking Dead and Lost. And they did it with some pretty primitive special effects.
  2. It took the Twin Peaks formula and made it better. It was ahead of the times but it also took a tried and tested formula of suspense + camp – and made it more interesting and binge-watchable. David Duchovny now available not in drag.
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  3. It didn’t shy away from science. The X-Files showed off 90’s computers in all its glory – green and black screens and all. Scully was often in the autopsy room talking into a recorder CSI-styles. There was no dumbing it down for audiences. Mulder and Scully weren’t afraid to be smarter than you.
  4. Skeptic Scully and Spooky Mulder have chemistry. This was lost on me as a kid but now I see that these two fell in love at first sight of UFO. I want to believe.

But then again, I was seven years old when the show started, so what do I know?

 

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Reading the Philippine’s first crime novel

_20170416_111032.JPGIn February, I went to my friend S.J.’s wedding in the Philippine’s. I loved, loved, loved the Philippine’s – the people, the places, the food.

Like most vacations, it was hard coming back. I think it was even harder coming back because we had been surrounded by so much love and happiness from the wedding. I wasn’t looking forward to coming back to a cold, snowy, stark Toronto. In a moment of mourning the end of my vacation, I picked up Smaller and Smaller Circles by F.H. Batacan at the Manila airport.

Smaller and Smaller Circles is often described as the Philippine’s first crime novel. After all, whodunnit detective novels usually hail from cold, rainy Scandinavian countries. But this is actually much more than your classic crime novel. It’s clear that Batacan is using fiction to make a statement about corruption of authorities and how the country’s poor are forgotten.

Batacan’s novel traces the steps two Catholic priest forensic investigators take to find a serial killer is who kills poor slum children and skins off their faces. It’s a bit like the movie Spotlight except both the good guys and the bad guys are priests.

Smaller and Smaller starts off slow but it does eventually hook you. Religion changes the perspective of the investigators and that’s something you won’t find in a Scandinavian detective novel. Batacan also dives deep into the interwoven church and state bureaucracy which is, at times, tedious.

This is a good read and does provide insight into current events in the Philippines such as the rise of Duterte and the conflicted relationship between citizens and a very power church.

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Trevor Noah finds humour in tragedy

trevor-noah-born-a-crimeFor those of you who are fans of The Daily Show, you should get your paws on Trevor Noah’s autobiography, Born a Crime. Better yet, get the audiobook version (read by Noah) like I did after my friend, C., highly recommended it. (Thanks C.!)

Like The Daily Show, Noah tackles tough topics in Born a Crime, like being a mixed-raced child growing up in apartheid South Africa, where mixed-raced relationships were legally prohibited. But Noah finds the humour in his predicament because if you think about the implications, it’s ridiculous.

Noah shifts between tragedy and comedy without skipping a beat, breaking down barriers for the taboo. I remember my high school drama teacher telling us that comedy is just tragedy plus time and Noah illustrates this like a true comedian. Spoiler alert, the last chapter is most devastating but also made me laugh the hardest.

Noah reminds us that people can’t be reduced down to their ethnic, religious and socio-economic groups. History shows that attempts to draw lines where they don’t belong (between people, within a person, between places) results in tragedy.

We’re better off if we can love and laugh together.

Hidden Figures makes superheroes out of mathematicians

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A few years ago, I was Freshly Pressed for writing a blog post about math.

I’m really proud of this because not only was I Freshly Pressed, I was Pressed for writing about something I am so uncomfortable with.

When I heard about the movie Hidden Figures, I knew I had to see it. I mean, who would have thought that in 2017, a top grossing movie would be one about black women doing math for NASA?

If this movie was made in 1998, it would have been Ben Affleck flying into space to rescue us from an asteroid. (And, I don’t want to miss a thing.)

But it’s 2017 and nerdy is the new flash. As Hidden Figures so inspiringly taught us, math is the backbone of today’s technology.

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As a daughter of an programmer, it was also really exciting to see them roll the first IBMs (International Business Machine, whoop!) into NASA. I practically squealed when Octavia Spencer’s character steals a book on Fortran from the white segregated library. Not because it was so ballsy but because I’ve never heard Fortran mentioned in mainstream media. And when she whipped out those punchcards… oh no you didn’t!

Sure, the scripting was cheesy but it was thrilling to see three minority women confidently take on math and out-calculate not just any men, but NASA’s top engineers. I hope it inspires a whole new generation of girls and women to never back down from a difficult equation or a top spot in the conference room.