Happy Birthday, Son!

23 years old today?

Wow.

This kid is pretty lucky. Having a birthday so close to Christmas in most families means that the youngster often gets ripped off gift and party-wise. The holiday and the celebration are often combined. That sucks! But not only did we as parents make sure his birthday and Christmas were as equitable as if they were months apart, we also gave him two parties. One would be low-key in December because friends and families are burnt out. The other party would be a few months later and would be the big blow-out par-tay!. Not only would people be recovered emotionally from the holidays but financially as well, ensuring enough time had passed so my son didn’t get re-gifted the crappy Christmas presents that nobody wanted.

Oh, like no one else would do or has done that, too. Liars.

If anyone wants to send presents then please make it in the form of cash or something that can be readily changed into cash.

HE isn’t from outer space, he’s the AUTHOR

Still feeling unclean from that purposefully horribly-structured X-Files “fan-fic” I posted yesterday. It was more of an exercise in provenance than anything else, though I did enjoy the idea of a sequel of sorts to the Bat Thing episode and the idea of a Dana Scully ready to open up a barrel of whoop-ass. Also, a reference to Mulder showing and feeling his age because he doesn’t trust the benefits of medical advances that everyone else takes advantage of was funny. I was amused by the thought of Dana appearing 35 and grrrrrr-hot while Mulder is thin, turkey-necked, creaking and firmly in his 70s.

The concept of the Sof-Wall© comes from Tru Dat. An as yet unpublished opus of mine, Tru Dat is about what happens to a person during an era of unprecedented access to private information. Due to a compromised suite of programs called True Data released into the wild, personal privacy is all but gone and the most trivial, minute detail of anyone’s life is open for casual perusal. Being boring is one’s only haven from constant intrusion and meddling by friends and strangers.

The Sof-Wall© is just my idea of taking the interactive environment that exists today mostly as art installations to an extreme. In the future, I see people totally immersed in sensation, shapes and images, based upon their personalized Tru Dat preferences, that is reflected in their physical environments via shifting, malleable objects and structures. Residential walls will be the least of the advances, serving mostly as interfaces for entertainment and information.

I think it is inevitable that gesture and voice commands will relatively soon be commonplace in our environments. It is already available in a nascent form for entertainment and communication purposes. A universal user interface for technology, that can adapt to needs and requirements is not only very likely but also necessary.

Winding up season 9 of the X-Files on the tablet. I watch about one episode a day sitting in the car during lunch at work. Our break room is a freak show, uncomfortable and no one SHUTS UP and LEAVES ME ALONE. Yes, some of those episodes are nearly unwatchable but the good episodes are great. Looking around the internet I noticed there are no decent pictures (other than Scully in her dirty, dirty shoes*) of the fictional book cover From Outer Space written by two-off X-Files character Jose Chung.

So in LTMS-style I decided to create one of my own. I found a nice painting of a classic Roswell alien (from the book Communion that From Outer Space is riffing on), shifted some colors, added some science fiction-y text, a cigarette and some smoke. The smoke was the hardest part given my level of photo manipulation skills (somewhere south of a North Korean propaganda minister).

The result was a reasonable facsimile of the cover to Jose Chung’s From Outer Space, as seen in the 1996 X-Files episode of the same name. Use it as wallpaper, a treeware notebook cover, tarantula habitat liner or however you want. This is fair-use fan-art so be cool and don’t stick it on anything for sale without entering into some agreement with the original artist for the painting of the alien and probably whoever owns the X-Files franchise. It’s also uncool to gank it, put your logo on it and slap it on your site. You know who you are.

I’m a big science and science-fiction nerd-fan but I don’t believe for a moment in anything supernatural or of super-nature. Science as we know it just doesn’t support all the fringe claims of weirdness out there. But when I first read Communion back in 1987 I have to admit it was the only thing in my life as an adult that ever gave me recurring screaming nightmares. I’d read a chapter and that night have the most awful dreams. Typically, I embrace nightmares. They are not at all scary and like thunderstorms, I think they are great and entertaining. Fear is the mind-killer, you know.

Yet reading the book by Whitley Streiber messed me up on a predictable basis. It got so bad that as an experiment I’d forego reading it for a couple of days just to see what happened and would sleep like a baby on whiskey and sedatives. Then I’d read a chapter and that night wake up to the sound of an apple being crunched in my head** and losing my crap. I mean I was shaking, sweating and had the whole feeling like I’m dying thing.

Someone who believed in aliens (don’t get me wrong, I want to believe. Aliens would be great!) would propose that the book was bringing repressed memories of when I was abducted by aliens to the surface. But that is stupid. Unless of course I repressed memories of being kidnapped by a pervert when I was young and the descriptions of Streiber’s “true story” was causing me to recall them and causing my discomfort. Nah.

I eventually made it through the book but it was a rough couple of weeks. A few years later I saw the movie based on the novel and it was hilarious***.

*What?
** FYI, Whit. It’s called “waking up during mid-snore”.
*** An alien glory-hole vacuum probe. Are you kidding me?

X-Files: 2025

The bed room air quickly cooling to her preferred temperature, lights slowly dialing up and the soft trill of her phone connection roused Dana Scully from her sleep. A glance at the shifting patterns of the malleable Sof-Wall© revealed it was 2:09 in the morning. With an irritated gesture of one hand that was detected and interpreted by the house sensors Scully halted the standardized announcements and home preparation of a phone call. Scully knew a call that early was never a good thing and another gesture dimmed the lights back to their previous darkened setting. years of sharply-honed instincts told Scully it was better to remain in a covert mode until she was better informed.

“This better not be you, Mulder.” Scully grumbled. In spite of advanced medicine she often felt, if not appeared physically, all of her more than 60 years. “I’m retired from the FBI, NSA and medicine and too old for chasing monsters.”

Scully sighed and rose from the bed, pulling her robe closed around her. “Ugh. I’m a mess. Audio only, answer call.”

A wave form representing the connection rippled on the Sof-Wall© followed by the sound hisses and crackles. Scully frowned. “What, it’s 1993?” she mused. There was another moment of static and then a male voice could be heard. “Mom? Are you there?” The voice sounded as if it came from an incredible distance but it was instantly recognizable to Scully. It was her long missing son!

“William? William! It’s been over ten years! Where are you? What’s wrong?” Scully felt her heart beat rapidly, over-riding the software in the coronary nan-bots of her health prescription. “It’s been years! Where are you?” There was a pause and then William responded. “No time to explain, Mom! Do you still have your old field weapon? You need to protect yourself right now! Hurry!”

The house pinged and symbols for a lost connection scrolled across the wall. Not hesitating any further Scully gestured at her bed and the Sof-Wall© opened a secure pocket, ejecting a shiny SIG-Sauer P228. Scully snatched it from the temporary shelf-tongue, grabbed the magazine and slammed the it into the weapon, jacking a round into he chamber and taking the safety off in smooth, well-remembered actions. The gun was an old nearly obsolete weapon but still deadly. “Kind of like myself.” Scully muttered grimly. Somehow, William had known his mother was in danger and she was experienced enough not to dismiss the warning as some conspiratorial feint to deceive, inveigle or obfuscate.

Suddenly, the bedroom window shuddered under a terrific impact. The Sof-Wall© shifted and the artifice of a window vanished and merged with the rest of the wall as the house responded to the attack, transforming into a protective mode. Scully chuckled. Whatever was seeking to gain entrance through the mock windows wasn’t very smart, not being aware enough to realize that actual windows and doors were nothing but programmable and temporary transparent sections or portals in the structure of modern Sof-Wall© housing.

Scully heard a piercing shriek of frustrated rage and
then there was a rapid pounding of fists on the wall. A short thrill of fear arced through her but Scully swiftly crushed it down. She was used to weirdness. Standing directly in front the area of the raucous disturbance Scully calmly took up a shooter’s stance and said “Interrogation room.” A section of the wall immediately cleared but only one way. She could see out through the wall but the raging attacker could not see in, like an the one-way mirror into a law enforcement interview room. It was a common privacy setting for most homes, only the name was personalized. To Scully’s irritation, Mulder called the one-way setting the “Sexy Exhibitionist Peep Show.”

Scully shook her head, recognizing the pale, scrabbling shape and vestigial but functional wings that beat on the exterior of the nigh-impenetrable house. “Well.” She said. “It took you long enough. House…STARBUCK

The house data net pinged an acknowledgement and in a matter of a few seconds it responded. Swiftly, a long narrow slit in the shape of a crucifix formed in the Sof-Wall©, mimicking in design the arrow slit favored by ancient castle builders to fire projectiles through at enemy soldiers. Sensing the gap opening in the wall the maddened bat creature put it’s face up to the opening and screamed. Scully stepped up to the arrow slit and aimed her gun directly into the toothy maw of the monster. It had hunted for Scully over many decades out of revenge for a fallen mate and moments from perceived victory it realized that something was wrong. A strange guttural noise of surprised issued from the red-lipped mouth. “That’s right.” Scully said grimly. “Ruh-Roh!”

The creature made a motion to flee put Scully was too fast, too prepared. She fired her gun, emptying the entire clip into the face of the bat-creature before it could duck out of sight or fly away. Smoke filled the arrow slit but only briefly as the house whisked away harmful or unpleasant pollutants. Scully peered through the gap in the wall and a medical diagnostic screen appeared on the Sof-Wall©, confirming the creature was indeed truly dead, though the absence of most of it’s head by the impact of twenty-four high powered rounds of ammunition was confirmation enough for Scully. She was sure it would not leap up and attack when she least expected it to. After all, she was a medical doctor. Tucking the warm gun into the pocket of her robe Scully turned away from the still form of the creature, remarking, “There is no scientific explanation for you being so stupid.”

Snapping her fingers and gesturing, Scully let the house return to normal mode after confirming that law enforcement was indeed notified and on it’s way. While she waited she poured herself a glass of wine and wondered where William, her baby, was now and how he managed to glean she was being threatened. She hoped he was thriving though there was no conclusive evidence to suggest otherwise. She knew, though, that she would not rest until she was able to hold William in her arms again. She would have to locate William, wherever he may be. Scully made a decision, knowing she might regret it. “House…Call You-Know-Who.

The Sof-Wall© formed a video screen and moments later it connected, depicting the image of a handsome man with a heavily lined face that showed the results of eschewing medical nano-bots. Scully sighed. “Mulder, it’s me.”

Separated at Birth?

Interesting that in the absence of the classic Fourth World characters to yet be fully realized in the NewDCU that Professor Insidd, the sadistic Yellow Lantern has a look similar to the Jack Kirby design of Desaad. While the Prof and the Apokolptian interrogator have the same sadistic predilections and toothy grin it is Desaad’s hair and the skull designs on Insidd that are creepily similar.

Monday With Hayley Mills: Our Ways Will Part

Eerie, suspenseful music by Hans Zimmer inserted by a fan into a scene from the 1961 Hayley Mills film Whistle Down the Wind (1961). Fans really like using this song in other movies.

Here’s the opening scene with original soundtrack intact. Be shocked at the casual cruelty, rejoice as HAYLEY SAVES SOME KITTENS!