The Joys of X-Files

Long before there were reality show blow-by-blows, Television Without Pity and even Mighty Big TV, I was recapping “The X-Files” for friends and co-conspirators. I called this little email “X-Files News in Brief” after a newsletter I wrote for Levi’s. With “The X-Files” returning for a six-episode run Jan. 24, I thought I’d dust off this ditty I wrote in 2002, when the show departed the airwaves. At the very least, it will catch you up in time for Sunday’s reboot. (Material not suitable for work.)

THE VERY LAST X-FILES NEWS IN BRIEF*
*At least until the next movie comes out. . .

Yes, gentle readers, “The X-Files” has arrived at the end of its network run. . .As Marita Covarrubias once told Mulder, “Not everything dies.” And so, “The X-Files” will live on in the hearts of fans, in nightly reruns, and soon as a major motion picture franchise, despite Gillian’s insistence that she can’t imagine playing Dana Scully as a senior citizen. Wheelchairs and flashlights? We’ll be there in the first row!. . .To borrow Ten Thirteen’s motto, “I made this” – with a little inspiration from Longfellow’s “Midnight Ride of Paul Revere”. . .Hope it recalls your favorite episodes and highlights the joys of X. . .

A FAREWELL ODE TO “THE X-FILES”

Listen, dear ‘Filers, and you shall grock

This farewell ode to Dana and Fox.

On the tenth of September in Ninety-three,

“The X-Files” debuted on network TV.

Aliens, monsters, paranormal shocks,

Not the usual fare of the idiot box.

 

No one would call you a Girly Girl,

Inhabiting this nightmarish world.

For nine long years you’ve endured such a fright

From freaks ‘n’ geeks that go bump in the night,

Red-eyed mothmen lurking under the bed;

Burger-flippers devouring brains from a head!

Flying saucers that can scorch you into a French fry,

And Flukey and Faster and Tooms, oh my!

 

Fans loved Fox Mulder’s punning reflex,

And watching Wonderbra’d Scully snap on the latex.

But the real truth is, the show made a spark,

From Episode One to Season Number Nine,

With the paranoid thrills the mythology arc

Sent up and down your tingling spine.

Delving into paranoid conspiracy

‘Twas like swimming in porridge;

Each time they solved a mystery,

The government denied knowledge.

 

Down in the basement, Scully met Spooky.

From the first, we knew, she found him quite kooky.

His fringe theories she’d been asked to debunk,

To separate pure science from Fox’s space junk.

But the skeptical redhead began to waver

The night foxy Mulder dashed in to save her

From a yellow-eyed mutant intent on her liver,

Eugene’s cuisine made everyone shiver.

 

Flashlights in hand, off the partners went

To uncover the Litchfield Experiment.

And reveal the secrets of a fallen UFO,

After Deep Throat put them in the know.

Soon doubting Dana no longer had to ask,

Why the paranormal was part of their task.

Her handsome partner was quickly besot,

Like Frohike, he found Scully white hot!

Scully wasn’t Melvin’s only obsession,

Sneezy had dibs on Mulder’s porno collection.

 

With one peek into the Erlenmeyer Flask,

The enemy slowly lifted its mask.

A cunning conspiracy soon laid bare,

The agents knew The Truth is Out There.

 

Season Two saw the X-Files down for the count,

Till Krycek led Fox up to Skyland Mount.

There Duane Barry arranged Dana’s abduction,

Staged to look like an EBE production.

Upon Scully’s return,

The agents would learn

Aliens were here, we had plenty to fear.

The date set for colonization,

Humanity due for extermination.

 

The shows were on fire, the tension got hotter,

Chris Carter certainly was a master plotter.

Though, our favorite outings this sophomore year,

Were the ones about monsters, not alien fear.

Chaco Chicken and Flukeman and “Humbug” were great

And left us wondering, Was it something we ate?

Darin Morgan’s first script turned X into Felini

And then there was Mulder’s itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny red hot Speedo bikini.

 

Season Two ended with a fiery jar,

Mulder stranded in burning boxcar.

Cancer Man lit the fuse, that devilish bomber,

And left us pondering for the rest of the summer,

Whether Mulder’s life he’d managed to erase,

But then, nothing on X-Files disappears without a trace.

 

The black-lunged bastard was in for a surprise,

Killing Agent Mulder doesn’t mean he dies.

Back on the case, Scully in tow,

The most venal man you will ever know

Tipped the special agents where to go.

A dank, dark place with lots and lots of files,

A mine shaft that went on for miles and miles.

It seemed the government had its own plan:

How to survive when shit hit the fan.

 

A new threat arose from the bottomless sea,

Hidden in oil the color of tea.

Mulder escaped the Syndicate’s snare,

Avoiding the fate that was Alex’s share.

The alien plot, Krycek sought to expose,

But spoiler was foiled, oil poured from his nose.

 

Season Three really began to hum,

When Dana and Fox met Jose Chung,

And learned the score from one Clyde Bruckman

That Mulder would die from autoerotic asphyxiation.

How ‘bout those cases of troubled teens?

One rained down lightning on those who were mean.

Two girls who knew how to Carpe P.M.,

A Ronin who sought victims to condemn.

Pusher used his thoughts to control the brain

Scully didn’t believe—her constant refrain—

Cerulean Blue may be like a gentle breeze,

But it ain’t no fun, when your partner has a gun

And he tells you to freeze.

 

The new season shed nary a light

Upon our agents’ perilous fight.

Their latest cases, frankly, were macabre,

Tracking goat-sucking fiends called Chupacabra,

Rattling incestuous rednecks out of their beds,

Searching for Leonard, or one of his heads.

 

In Year Four, we learned little more

About the oily fiend

Slithering onto the scene,

While Russians used Mulder to test their vaccine.

We watched Max’s demise on a wayward flight,

But Max wasn’t alone in deadly plight,

The scariest moment, we must suppose,

Was the cancer found up Scully’s nose.

 

When the curtain rose on Season Five,

Dana Scully was barely alive.

And what of Mulder’s ongoing quest?

A hoax, he was sure, now laid to rest.

No more would he believe in secret UFOs.

His mission: A cure for Scully’s repose.

 

The answer came from a place unexpected,

Cancer had grown when the chip disconnected.

With Dana returned to the fullness of health,

The partners resumed their ventures of stealth.

Trouble found them in a town full of vamps,

Who pulled up stakes on their trailer park camps.

 

Just when Mulder felt no more surprise,

There appeared new aliens without any eyes,

Immolating abductees, a fiery demise,

They seemed to be on a homicidal bender,

Until they encountered Cassandra Spender.

Scully escaped the funeral pyre,

To hear Mulder call her tale the words of a liar,

But soon Fox’s faith would begin to restore,

Once Krycek clued him to the alien war.

The final conundrum: To Resist or Serve?

Fox’s belief never again would swerve.

 

Even more queries the X-Files did raise,

When the agents looked into the case of Gibson Praise.

Was this kid a psychic chess prodigy,

Or Melvin Frohike’s “Mini-Me”?

Turns out the boy had alien DNA,

And so the Syndicate spirited him away.

But which double-dealer had the vaccine?

Would alien invaders discover the scheme?

Is the Syndicate on the side of humanity,

Or evil traitors on the verge of insanity?

Will Fox and Dana learn of the threat?

What do you think? Are we confused yet?

 

When the first reel of the movie unspooled,

The office was closed, the X-Files shut tight,

For our intrepid agents, things didn’t look bright.

But true believers know not to be fooled,

Soon Mulder and Scully would set things aright.

Scully went missing, locked in deep freeze,

While the Syndicate hatched a plot for its bees.

One sting from a hybridized pricker,

Implants a little alien kicker,

Turns an unsuspecting host into jelly,

While baby E.T. grows in its belly.

So Mulder flew to the fortress of ice,

To save dear Dana from evil device.

His reward for being so intrepid?

He finally got to see Dana nekkid.

Scully saw nothing, or so she swore,

Only Fox knew the truth of the alien spore.

 

When X-Files returned from its big-screen premiere,

Things in Hoover building grew even more weird.

Agents Fowley and Spender took over the cases,

Leaving Scully and Mulder in mighty strange places.

For the forces of truth, what could be worse?

Mulder and Scully now reported to Kersh.

With Kersh’s orders would Mulder comply?

Of course not! He spit in the A.D.’s eye.

He snuck under the radar and got into trouble,

When a Man in Black used a time-warp bubble

To become Fox Mulder’s body double.

Morris was sleazy, he macked on Scully,

Her reputation he seemed certain to sully.

Until the time-space warp wefted itself,

And Morris’s life went back on the shelf.

 

In a haunted house, on Christmas Eve,

Scully told Mulder she wanted to leave.

The halls were decked, the night a tradition

Instead the duo were sent to perdition

By suicidal ghosts with a ghastly pact.

But who shot whom? Will we ever know fact?

Was it simply Fox’s paramasturbatory fantasy?

Or murderous spirits in the mood for mystery?

 

Hot on the trail of two missing hikers,

Mulder went looking for little green strikers,

Only to be foiled by psychedelic fungus,

Not, as he thought, aliens among us.

 

Next, an artifact set Fox’s head a-dinging,

Now he was sure, aliens were ringing.

The cause was a chunk of E.T. debris,

Lost on the coast of an African sea,

A spaceship humming on unearthly frequency.

But what were the symbols carved on its skin?

Would Scully find a cure for Mulder within?

If Dana could solve the spacelings’ equation,

Perhaps they could stop the alien invasion!

 

After seven long years, finally an answer;

Fox discovers who really took Samantha.

His sister at peace, her soul among starlight,

Mulder decides to take up a new fight.

 

The latest clue sprang from the very first Files,

Involving the case of abductee Billy Miles.

The alien war has a new footsoldier,

Borne from the chip in young Bill’s shoulder.

The FBI is in on the deception,

But what has this to do with Scully’s conception?

 

Season Eight made us question, Who was the father?

By now, you may wonder, why did fans bother?

Mulder was gone, from this earth he’d been stolen

Only to return, in a condition quite swollen.

Could it be that the death knell had tolled?

Or, simply the way Duchovny acted his role?

 

John Doggett to the X-Files soon was appointed,

How would this play to the X-anointed?

Would fans accept Scully’s new man,

Or treat him as Fox’s also-ran?

Would he be true, or try to deceive her?

Did fans want Scully in the role of believer?

As the season wore down to its inevitable conclusion,

Doggett guarded Dana from creep and contusion.

He found a safe haven to deliver the child,

And kept a straight face in a plot run wild.

 

One thing about shows in the Eighth Season:

Not enough fun, far too much reason.

It left us yearning for Mulder’s puns,

And Darin Morgan’s earlier, funnier ones.

Doggbert kept up a season-long whine

That extended into Year Number Nine.

 

Here’s the story of the final season:

Alien invaders had Fox on the run.

A cover, in fact, for David’s departure

From cult-status show that made him a star.

Leaving John and Monica, our googly-eyed pair,

To investigate the Brady Bunch affair.

And bid adieu to the three Lone Gunmen

Whose heroic deaths stopped bio-Armageddon.

Oh, and there’s the matter of Scully’s son,

Sweet little psychokinetic baby William.

Were the sprite’s powers heaven-sent?

Or birthday gift from the secret government,

To save the world from alien invasion?

Most likely it’s another Carter evasion.

After a decade of clues, tricky to follow,

I hate to admit it, this plot’s too hard to swallow.

 

How will it end? What clues will they leave,

When “Endgame” airs this next Sunday eve?

Will the exit strategy spoil what we know,

For the faithful fans who’ve taped every show?

Fox and Dana deserve a heroes’ farewell,

Not a new rung on the circles of hell.

Will aliens lead us on another goose chase,

Followed by a movie sequel post-haste?

Little to go on, no spoiler to review,

Except for hints in last week’s preview.

One sign is good, should raise all our hopes,

That smiling assassin of night-time soaps,

Greg Sumner, it seems, has Fox on the ropes,

And takes him to task for his Grand Obsession.

X endangered again? Not out of the question.

We’ve watched in awe these last nine years,

Let’s hope the finale allays all our fears.

Whatever Chris Carter may have up his sleeve:

If the Truth is Out There, then I Want to Believe. . .

The Night Before X-Files

X-Files‘Twas the night before X-Files,

And all through the land

Not a creature was stirring,

not even Cancer Man.

 

The cases were filed in their file drawers with care,

In hopes the special agents soon would be there.

But Mulder and Scully were nestled all alone in their beds,

While visions of conspiracies danced in their heads.

 

The agents dreams swarmed with hybridized bees,

and an embrace that was really nothing more than a tease.

And the heroes we’d waited so long to see kiss?

Stung by a bee – postponing our bliss.

 

Barely a year before those same damn bees

Had Skinner scrubbing bathroom floors, down on his knees.

 

The greatest evil doing the duo sought to expose,

Involved Scully’s cancer, the one in her nose.

Then, there was the chip found lodged in her neck,

Which led Mulder to a boxcar and a fiery train wreck.

 

But, trains aren’t the only things that can crash.

A mysterious UFO turned an aircraft to ash.

Amongst the rubble was an old friend named Max,

but little to go on and even fewer facts.

 

It was like Mulder’s trip to the Bermuda triangle,

a foray to find some kind of angle.

But, all Mulder found was a Nazi’s fist,

and a Scully clone who socked him for giving her a kiss.

 

Southward the agents flew, to a factory for chicken,

A gory affair, certain to sicken.

The townspeople wore hideous masks, they wielded sabers,

and dined on a bilious stew made from their neighbors.

 

The next case involved vegetarians.

What a relief!

Til they found suspicious thugs poisoning local beef.

 

Next on our menu of hideous cuisines:

A motley crew of toad-licking teens.

And a monster living high on the hog,

making a meal of Scully’s accessory dog.

 

Then there were villains like Morris and Eddie,

a couple of losers who got to feel heady

When they took Agent Mulder’s body for a spin

and had far more fun than the body Fox was left in.

 

Now you might think these couplets simply a spoof,

But I tell you, I heard him, up on the roof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney Cancer Man came with a bound.

 

He was dressed all in grey from his head to his foot,

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.

The butt of a Morley he held tight in his teeth,

And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath.

 

His eyes, how they glared! his mouth, how scary!

The end of his cigarette lit up like a cherry!

A simmering menace! A life devoid of mirth,

This man who goes by the name of Raul Bloodworth.

 

He was sallow and smoky – a right bleeper, I said to myself,

And I shivered when I saw him, the evil old elf.

The menace in his eye, and the nod of his head,

Soon gave me to know I had something to dread.

 

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And destroyed all the evidence, then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

 

He sprang to his fleet car, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle,

But I heard him exclaim, e’re he drove out of sight,

“Happy X-Files to all, and to all a good night!”

On How the Grammar Gremlins Wailed

You know I make no claims at grammar expertise. I’m often confused by usage and wind up poring over reference books, which is what I’ve done here because, without them, I wouldn’t have even the language to describe what’s wrong with these examples and how to make them right.

As always, please feel free to share your favorite mangled language or word-wranglers in the Comments.

On how “on how” came to be overused and abused
The prevalence of the “on how” locution makes me grind my fangs down to nubs. And what is a gremlin without its fangs?

Here’s what I’m talking about:

Teaching a demon on how to disguise itself in the muggle world is tricky.

We were taught on how underworld demons try to blend in so they can steal our blueberries.

It was surprisingly dangerous learning on how to saddle a dragon.

The use of “on how” in each of these sentences is correct. Technically. Grammatically. So, what’s got me flustered? Three things, basically:

1) “On” is a preposition. Often we see it attached to verbs in short phrases, such as “relied on,” “depended on,” etc. Part of the overuse of “on how” is coming from the attachment of “on” to verbs that don’t really require it, like “debated on” or “educated on.” In vernacular speech, we’re constantly getting our “on” on. Once “on” is firmly in place, it seems “how” must follow. The way to avoid this usage is to shorten the sentence. In the first example above, “on how” isn’t needed at all. We could say:

Teaching a demon to disguise itself in the muggle world is tricky.

2) The most common misuse of “on how” is as a replacement for “about.” Again, “on how” generally won’t cause your grammar check to draw squiggly green lines under a sentence. But, as most grammar gods command (okay, suggest), it’s advisable to avoid two words where one will do and select the word whose meaning is clearest. And that would be “about.” So:

We were taught about how underworld demons try to blend in so they can steal our blueberries.

3) Finally, to make your sentence zing, add “-ing.” In other words, turn the verb that follows “on how” into a present participle and chuck the offending prepositional phrase, thusly:

It was surprisingly dangerous saddling a dragon.

When the rule of “on how” has passed, the land will be safe for gremlins once again. I just hope I have some teeth left.

Early on
Oh my, here’s another “on” that’s clamped its mighty incisors to “early” and won’t let go.

Early on in the episode, Buffy stakes a vampire.

It was popular, early on, to dismiss “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” as a teen soap opera.

Using “early on” when “early” will do is just pouring it on. Buffy would never waste two stakes when Mr. Pointy alone is more efficient. Put your faith in “early” and trust it will do the job you intend. “On” adds no significant meaning or clarity to the sentence and tends to make the writer sound bombastic. Leave the bombast for Principal Snyder; you’ve got more important demons to slay.

On Me, Myself and I
I love these easy-to-understand pronoun examples from Woe Is I by Patricia T. O’Conner.

“Some of the smartest people I know hesitate at the word than when it comes before a pronoun,” O’Conner writes. “What goes next, I or me? he or him? she or her? they or them?”

Good question. Apparently, the answer is that all of them are correct – though your choice may alter the meaning of the sentence, so that’s where you’ll want to be careful. Check out these examples:

Mulder loves baseball more than I.

Mulder loves baseball more than me.

The first sentence indicates that Agent Mulder, when he’s not chasing aliens or government conspiracies, enjoys our national pastime more than I do. The second suggests that Fox loves baseball more than he loves me, which, frankly, I refuse to accept. (Unless the next “X-Files” movie is as bad as the last one. Then, all bets are off, Mr. Duchovny.)

O’Conner goes on to help those of us who have trouble with “myself,” “yourself,” “himself,” “themselves,” etc. Austin Powers could have used her help, when he first met the villain and warbled, “Allow myself to introduce myself.”

In Woe Is I, you’ll find this helpful note: “Myself and the rest of the self-ish crew shouldn’t take the place of the ordinary pronouns…They are used for only two purposes.”

One is emphasis (“The prime minister himself would lose patience with Austin Powers.” Note that “himself” doesn’t need to be added to make this sentence clear.). The other is to refer to the subject (“Dr. Evil hates himself.” “How can you consider yourself a secret agent?”).

Now, that’s the way to tell those grammar gremlins, “Oh, be-haaave!”