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Musical Mayhem

It is rare in your life that you can point to a specific moment, place or item that first introduced you to a topic. More often than not, it results in a vague “I read it in a book” or “from a friend” or something along those lines. But every now and then, there is a singular moment that sticks out in your mind like a Post-It in a textbook – one precise moment that you can point to and say with absolute certainty that it introduced you to a wider world.

For me, it was the wider world of music. And what introduced me was what some may call an unusual medium – video games.

I was never big into music other than what my parents would listen to on the radio whenever we went for a drive, and classical music was always fallen asleep to in the back of the car. I appreciated music, the beat, etc. But I never gave it much mind, except for musical theatre (which long-time readers know that I acted in when I was a child and still love).

Case-in-point: My favourite song when I was a kid?

“La Bamba” by Ritchie Valens!

But that all changed on November 21, 1998 when I was in Grade 9.

A Legend was Born

In 1998, I had just started high school and my mind was slowly being expanded to the wider world around me. And, as luck would have it, two years earlier, my brother and I had bought a Nintendo 64 gaming system and were enjoying it. And in November 1998, what may people – myself included – believe the seminal game of that system (and all-time) released. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

I had never really played any other Legend of Zelda games prior to this one, but the hype and advance reviews in magazines was extremely positive. So, my brother and I reserved the game and got our mom to pick it up while we were in school, so that we could play it that night. And now, over 18 years later, it is still my favourite video game ever.

But what made it so special?

Well, the story was simple but engaging: A forest boy engages on a quest to right some wrongs, and meets a princess who was kidnapped. This boy (Link) rushes to rescue the princess (Zelda) from the bad guy (Ganon), but ends up traveling seven years into the future so that he is strong enough to defeat him.

The graphics were amazing and the characters were memorable (who can forget the movement of King Zora or the dance of the King goron, Darunia, when you play him a certain song?

The Music Makes the Man

I could talk about the gameplay mechanics, the different levels (such as the exceedingly complex water temple), the fun plot twists, or why you simply must get the Biggorn Sword as soon as you can, but the real hook – pun intended for those who know the game – was the music.

In the game, music plays an extremely important part. Near the beginning of the game, you are given an ocarina by Princess Zelda, which is a handheld wind flute. And throughout the game, probably other than your sword and shield, is your most used item.

Music within this game allows you to win others trust, gain entrance to new areas, change the game world, teleport around the map, and even change time. And all the music is different, and all modeled after different musical styles.

Do you know what a Minuet is? Or how about a Bolero? A Nocturne? A Requiem?

All of these are songs within the game and are works of art. Just sit back, relax, and listen to the audio brilliance.

I would find myself humming the Bolero of Fire in class, or walking home from school and trying to remember all the songs for when I got home. I still remember those songs to this day, and for some, even the inputs on the controller you had to use to play them.

And in so doing, this video game not only brought me hours and hours on enjoyment, but served as an introduction to the world of music, and bolstered my appreciation of classical and international compositions.And what more could you ask?

Oh, and in case you were wondering, according to the Oxford Dictionary:

MInuetA slow, stately ballroom dance for two in triple time, popular especially in the 18th century.

BoleroA slow, stately ballroom dance for two in triple time, popular especially in the 18th century.

NocturneA short composition of a romantic or dreamy character suggestive of night, typically for piano.

Requiem – A Mass for the repose of the souls of the dead.

It’s A Brand New Day

It’s a brand new day of a brand new year with a (somewhat) brand new blog!

But before I get to the reveal of The definitive host 3.0 upgrade, I have some other news to share first.

I have another post up on the Scientific American Guest Blog, this time about some of my favourite animals – Snakes!
The post is entitled, “Biting the hand that feeds: The evolution of snake venom.” I had an absolute blast writing it, and I hope you will all enjoy reading it.

Now, on to the main event. But instead of you reading what is coming up with my blog, let me tell you.

That’s right, this blog will now have a significant amount of time spent answering YOUR science questions that you have always wondered about but never quite understood. Is there anything you or anyone who know has always wondered about?

So go ahead, ask away!

I will try to answer each and every question I get, and if I cannot, I will find someone who can. But, for this to succeed, I need your help. Promote this blog, get people involved, and I think this could turn into something really, really special (but only if you help).

Please submit questions to:

Thank you, and stay tuned!

Twelve Months of Manly

I have decided to do something which I have yet to do here on my blog, and that is participate in an Internet fad, which in this case is called “Twelve Months.”

The rules are simple:
-Post the link and first sentence from the first blog entry for each month of the past year.

So, let’s see what turns up!

Two interesting things have happened to me over the past few days. (I had just gotten a letter in the mail from the Prime Minister’s Office)

Yeah, I know it’s been a while. Yeah, I know you all have been eagerly awaiting my next post. (Posted all my tweets about the science conference I went to)


Based on my background, as well as my thesis, many people assume that I am an animal guy through and through. Granted, my thesis was on frog salinity tolerance, and I know quote a bit about a vast majority of animals – but that is not my only area of interest. (Book review of SUPERBUG)

NO Posts (Had just graduated and began looking for work in earnest)

Welcome, welcome, welcome! (Changed the name of my blog to “The definitive host” from “Musings of a Manly.”)

Sorry for the long delay between posts, but it’s gotten surprisingly hectic over here. (Posted my Masters project on black-footed ferrets)

NO Posts (Working for someone in Texas)

NO Posts (Went to Europe)

NO Posts (Started a new full-time job, and did not make me want to write even more)

Hey there folks, sorry for my prolonged absence! (Posted all the links to my LabSpaces posts that I had been making over the past few months)

NO Posts (Sorry … but the job was eating up a lot of time)

Are there aliens among us? (About the Arsenic Aliens story)

Quite the busy year, eh?

But don’t you worry, as this trend of months going by without a post shall continue no more!
One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to write more on my blog, as well as workout more and finish my novel … it’s going to be a great year πŸ™‚

Life Update

Well, life may not be all that bad.

I may have a new idea for my MRP, and I got an encouraging email from an internship position that I did not get.

While it may seem counter intuitive, despite the rejection in the email, they said that my CV was impressive and that my references were excellent. And that they would be “more than happy” to offer me a position later.

I’m excited about this new idea for my MRP, and I may get something later on from a prestigious organization.

A light was just turned on at the end of the tunnel πŸ™‚


Three commercials.

Three commercials that are famous.

Three commercials that I STILL like every time I see them.

And yes, I figured that I must include one final bonus video … as it was a truly Canadian phenomenon.

Gotta LOVE ’em πŸ™‚

Me, but Not Me

So, in a vein attempt to not do work, I thought I would Google myself (it’s a verb now, get use to it!)

Apparently, there are different versions of me all over the place.

Here are some of what these me-but-not me’s have accomplished:
– Marketing Manager in London
– A Psychiatrist in North Carolina
– A VP of Marketing in Boston
– A Physician in North Carolina
– A track star in New York
– A road racer in the UK
– A Miner in Saskatchewan

And coolest of all, there is a company named after me in Ireland. Honestly!

Apparently, they are “recision engineers,” and specialize in, of course, “precision engineering.”

When I go there, I GOTTA visit it and get a picture taken with my company…hehe.

And then there is me … a trained Biologist/Zoologist going into journalism.

Hopefully, one day, I’ll make my many namesakes proud πŸ™‚

Two girls, a guy and a shot in the arm

Now, I know I blogged yesterday, but today was so odd that I felt I must.

Last night, I could not sleep. All I could think about was how much work is looming over me this entire week. I have SIX, that’s right SIX, assignments to do before the end of the week. I need to accomplish at LEAST 1.2 assignments per day!!!

I got two hours of sleep, so, suffice it to say, I was not in the best shape to come to class this morning.

What you must know, is our Monday class is tag-teamed by two guys who would cause anyone’s Gay-Dar to short out. One has a ring, the other does not, but there are suspicions abound.
Case in point, there are two pieces of evidence that points only in one direction:
– A LOT of mention of “low hanging fruit”
– “People don’t care how the sausage is made. They only care how it tastes”

Honestly people, what would YOU THINK??

At the mention of the sausage comment, many of our class laughed, including me. And then, I made the mistake of making contact with one of the girls who was on the verge of loosing it. We both, as if by some telepathic bond, knew what each other was thinking and laughed hysterically for the next few minutes.

I have great misgivings about this class.

So, THEN, I was told to ‘act’ out a fake interview scene about a man being bitten by a giraffe. Yes. I know. Honestly?

Anyway, after that absurdly long class which moves slower than a turtle up a hill, I proceeded to do a massive amount of work.

Was I productive? Somewhat
Did I get some things done? Kinda

Then, I went to a free MUMPS booster shot clinic and had a very interesting time there.

I met a public health nurse, who was very, very pretty. And, the end of the conversation went like this.
*I asked her for her phone number to interview her later in the week*
Nurse – “OK, here it … wait, you;re not going to use this to call me up and ask me out are you?”
Me – “I wasn’t planning on it”
Nurse – *Smirks* “Well, that’s a shame”
Me – “Well, maybe I will …”
Nurse – “And maybe I’ll say yes ;)”

As if that wasn’t cool enough!

I sat down for the mandated 15 minutes of observation period, and got talking with yet another attractive girl. Instead of talking for 15 minutes and parting ways, we ended up talking for OVER AN HOUR. Yah.

Sadly, before I could ask her about her dinner plans, a friend of hers spontaneously appeared and lured her away. But, let’s just say, it won’t be the last time we see each other πŸ˜‰

So, all in all, it was a craptacular day that turned out to be pretty good.

Until I came home and saw my ‘To Do List,’ and how little I have gotten done today and how much shit I have to do this week.

If I survive this week, I will probably be so deprived of sleep and so temporarily insane that I will probably gorge myself to death on a mixture of cheese and orange juice …. mmmmmmmm.

Goodbye Gil

Many years ago, when I was in high school, I became sick with the flu during the summer. There was nothing much to do whilst sick, other than lie down and watch TV or movies.

One day, I was flipping channels, and rested upon a channel to see what was on. When the show began, I had no idea what it was, but it seemed interesting. There was some dark humour (my favourite), murder and some pithy dialogue.

That show quickly rocketed to the top of my favourite MUST see TV list. I watched old re-runs on every network that was airing them, I taped them, I rented DVDs and was ALL caught up on all the seasons so far by the time the new season started.

That show had everything that I like: Murder, mystery, scientific language and tools, great characters, compelling storylines and a lead actor who was amazing. He was in control, a certified genius, quirky, odd and a perfect example of a modern day Sherlock Holmes. I am, of course, talking about the show CSI: Crime Scene Investigations and its star, Gil Grissom (played by William Peterson).

There was, and still is, a reason why it is TV’s #1 rated show.

Every character has had moments in the sun: Catherine, Gil, Nick, Warrick, Sara, Greg, Doc Robbins, David, DNA lady, Archie, Hodges and even the fingerprint girl.

And now, sadly, my favourite character on TV has departed. Gil Grissom has left CSI as a regular cast member, and may return next year for a few episodes, but consider him gone.

He was the reason why I continued to watch the show, he was the ‘hook’ that kept me watching all those years. But, I like the characters and the show is still entertaining after all these years, so I will give it a chance. I shall continue watching the show and see how new cast member Laurence Fishburn does.

Here are some of my favourite episodes of CSI that you should watch:
Grave Danger
For Gedda/For Warrick
Who Shot Sherlock?
Invisible Evidence
Any of the Lady Heather Episodes
Any of the Paul Milander Episodes
You Kill Me
And many, many others

Even as I watch all the new episodes, I will miss William Peterson’s character. I am sure I am not the only one who will be watching the new episodes with trepidation.

Goodbye Gil, you will be missed.

Impending work load causes student’s brain to explode

A Carleton University student has suffered what doctor’s are calling a bizarre case of sudden brain explosion.

David Manly, 24, was a first year student in Carleton’s prestigious Master’s of Journalism course. He was one of only 20 other students accepted this past September.

Friends cannot believe that David died so suddenly and without warning. “I’m shocked,” said best friend Nicole Willman. “I cannot believe he is gone, and I never got to say goodbye!” she said, her voice cracking with emotion.

Natalie Stechyson, a fellow journalism student was so broken up, that her words were completely unintelligible. In between the sobs and the gasps for air, only one sentence was audible, “Who will I talk to about gossip now?”

According to the medical examiner, “David’s ever increasing stress levels and workload caused a change in his brain. He was a ticking time bomb,” Dr. Ron Albert said. “I would advise ALL students to relax immediately and de-stress. For their own safety,” he said.

David’s Monday began like any other, as he went to class at 8:30 a.m. and attended his class. One of his fellow students, Colin Zak, sat beside him and said that, “He looked a little stressed, but he said that it was a bad morning. He seemed to relax after a little bit,” said Zak.

Following that, he went to his afternoon class with fellow student Chloe Fedio. “We had presentations all day today, and it wasn’t that bad of a class,” she said.

“After class, on the way to the bus, he did seem a little stressed. But I didn’t pay it much attention,” said Fedio.

At 7pm, his body was found by Officer John Johnson on a routine patrol of an old woodlot, where he takes as a shortcut home.

“I have never seen anything like it,” said Johnson. “He looked perfectly normal, just laying there, like he was asleep.”

“I expected him to be in class tomorrow,” said Claire Brownell, a fellow Master’s student. “He will be greatly missed,” she said.

His family has declined comment, wishing for privacy in their grief.

“Students are experiencing an exponential increase in workload and stress as the term comes to an end,” said Dr. Albert.

“Do something that relaxes you, anything! So that David’s death not need be in vain,” said Dr. Albert.

Braveheart madman