It's been a long winter, hasn't it? I mean, hell, I live in Florida, and it's been great here and all... sunny, 70's, that kind of thing (well, it was cold enough today that I had to wear shoes with actual laces, as opposed to velcro straps, and I'm generally opposed to that), but with the wind chill it was a brisk 64 degrees this afternoon so I can really feel your pain, you out there in Minnesota and Maine and Chicago and all.  This doesn't have anything to do with Scully, of course, but I made a New Year's resolution to be more sensitive. I think that's coming along nicely, don't you?  But anyway.              

This month I thought I might discuss something that has troubled me for a while, because it's one of those things that seems rather obvious, so very painfully obvious, that I figured I wouldn't ever actually address it, because it might make people think that I don't actually have that firm a grasp on what I am writing about . [Psst:  "Science"]. But last Sunday I was comforted to realize that I am not the only one who might need a certain issue clarified.  You know which one. Sure you do. This month I am going to explain what is an MRI.  (As an added bonus, I'll try to fit in how MRI films are excruciatingly and obviously different from CT films, even to the naked eye, even an eye that might be idly mentally undressing a former cyborg, but one which is still aware of the PAINFULLY OBVIOUS differences between a CT film and an MRI film.)     

The acronym MRI stands for 'magnetic resonance imaging', which I knew, of course, but which someone else might accidentally have mis-translated for years as Massive Radiology Invoice, and who now realizes with great chagrin why she got so many bizarre looks at scientific meetings.  Someone else, that is, other than me. MRIs used to be referred to as NMRs, or Nuclear Magnetic Resonance imaging, until everyone freaked out about nuclear anything after seeing the way Jane Fonda was dressed in The China Syndrome. Since the seventies we've just dropped the word 'nuclear' which solved the problem (Until just now, of course.  Now that I have reminded you, please feel free to riot at your convenience.).

A CT, or a "computerized tomography" scan (which used to be known as a CAT, or computerized axial tomography scan until some point where we dropped the word axial, thus ruining a number of punchlines to jokes involving veterinarians and emergency rooms) consists of a highly sensitive x-ray beam that is focused on a specific plane of the body. As this beam passes through the body, images are projected based on the differing densities. Bone shows up as white; gases and liquids as black; and, tissue as varying shades of gray.                   

The way an MRI works is more complex. Apparently, hydrogen molecules emit an NMR signal. Human beings, which are made, primarily, of hydrogen-intense water and fat molecules -- ok, ok, and other stuff like carbon and calcium and beer and Cheetos and Ding Dongs and Slim Jims, all of which are beyond the scope of this article. Frankly, I don't want to have to get into what, for example, Slim Jims cause the human body to emit, something for which you should all be devoutly grateful -- can be imaged by tracking the signals emitted by the hydrogen molecules in the body. An MRI machine tracks this signals, and plots them in 3-dimensional space so that they can then be viewed on a single plane (a computer screen or a film) as an image, or "slice."              

(At this point I would like to be honest with you all and say that yeah, there is a lot more to it than that, but the explanation starts to involve things like the physics of spin, and equations that look like: 

and at that point in my research I started to get very nervous and had to go get a beer and lie down for a while with a damp cloth on my forehead and an old General Hospital rerun from the `80s on TV (Luke and Laura's wedding, the episode where Scotty catches Laura's bouquet and whips it back at her before trying to choke the living you know what out of Luke on the balcony. How great was that episode, I ask you?) so let's stick to "signals emitted by hydrogen molecules, projected in three dimensional space", ok? If you want more details, go to medical school. But I digress.)

This is a CT of the head

This is an MRI of the head

As you can see, an MRI scan looks a bit different than a CAT scan.  An MRI, as its data points are more precise, generally gives far more detailed data than does a CAT scan.  It's also a significantly more expensive test to run, according to my HMO (but you must realize that my insurance carrier's primary care physician listing includes astrologers, so I'm not sure whether they are the most reliable source of information. My own physician does indicate that February will be a good month for me, particularly on the 19th and the 27th. He expects my cholesterol to drop when my  moon moves into in Jupiter.   Also I should go easy on the salt.)

Anyway, I hope this clarifies that issue for all of us. Next month I think I'll try to find the space in my column to work in a discussion of which side of the body the liver is on.             
Authors note: I cannot believe this, but I have to footnote. Unbelievable. I better stick to outright lying in the future - it's much less work. 

Most of the data and all of the photos in the above article come from the following:  DAVID, Online Atlas of Human Anatomy for Clinical Imaging  Diagnosis, Developed by J.-C. Oberson MD. Copyright 1998.  J.P. Hornak, Ph.D, author of "The Basics of MRI." Special thanks to Dr. Sandy for her technical assistance. May you all lead long lives that don't involve suing me for plagiarism.


by Sister Nina

When I was asked to write an article for the newsletter, it seemed a dream come true -- until I realized it was for the FEBRUARY newsletter.  Meaning, I would be writing it before "Badlaa" and it would come out after "Badlaa." I had spent days trying to think of a topic for the article, something about how panspermia travelling near the speed of light and arriving after the Cambrian Explosion would actually affect the Burgess Shale Fauna (Fig. 1), but always in the back of my brain, with the insistence of a heartbeat, I could hear "butt genie....butt genie....butt genie...." God help me. By February a butt genie joke would go over as well as a pregnant chad.  And wouldn't my readers, after viewing the episode in question, be somewhat traumatized? Even if I managed to soothe them (poor simple souls), would they be grateful? How many people calmed by the band that played as the Titanic sank actually caught their next gig ashore?  Precious few, I'll wager.  It would be like me attending a Kenny G. concert because he was featured in the Muzak playing in the dentist's waiting room before my root canal (Fig. 2). And who's to say *anyone* will be left to read my article?  Remember the mass exodus from OBSSE after "Orison" aired, when literally one person left the mailing list?(1)  Heaven forbid history repeat itself.

"Butt genie... butt genie...." STOP!  There must be something else -- witticisms about John Doggett's manliness?(2) Comments on Scully's hair and general appearance?(3)  What's the use?  Mulder's gone, Spender's dead, Samantha's turned into starlight. "The X-Files" has gone to Hell in a creaking cart. And we're worried about Scully's unbuttoned shirts?  People, GET A CLUE!  The world has ended!  Butt genies roam the land!!

But perhaps I am being overly pessimistic.  Look at art.  People felt the history of art ended when Marcel Duchamp turned a urinal upside down and called it "Fountain" (Fig. 3).  Yet they had plenty of time to recover before art ended again with Andy Warhol silk-screening a Campbell soup can on canvas.  Art has ended several more times since then, but people still manage to write articles about it.  Urinals... butt genies....  butt genies...

And is there not consolation in art, even in so lowly an art as the writing of online newsletter articles? Didn't Aristotle consider tragic plays about incest, cannibalism and body cavities to be cathartic, bringing relief instead of despair?  Wouldn't Aristophanes have eventually gotten around to writing "The Butt-Genies" (Fig. 4, note 4)?   Perhaps we will be reading the February newsletter in the spirit of shared survival, like the men on the U.S. Indianapolis torpedoed by a Japanese sub and left to float for days in shark-infested waters.                  

And I can offer consolation- consolation from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Remember the first chapter in "The Little Prince," where the author draws a boa constrictor who has eaten an elephant, first from the outside (Fig. 5) and then in cross-section (Fig. 6)?  Do you remember the joy you felt on first reading "The Little Prince"?(5) Is it not similar to the innocent joy you felt when you first discovered "The X-Files," before the mytharc and walk-ins and savior!slugs added a bittersweet tinge to the palette?   So whenever the words "Butt genie" invade your consciousness, think of (Fig. 5 and Fig. 6).  A thing inside another thing need not be tawdry.

Note 1: In her monograph "The great door-slamming: a revisionist history," OBSSE List Historian Dr. Ptero Pod used archival records to determine that fluctuation in OBSSE membership was correlated with sunspot activity, not with appearances of Donny Pfaster in his underwear.
Note 2:
  In Ancient Greece, the festival of Dionysus was celebrated with masks and costumes, including an imitation penis, the phallos, often too large for one person to lift with ease, carried on a pole or cart.  Later, actors in the komoidia wore masks and leather phalli while performing in plays such as "The Clouds" and "Lysistrata."
Note 3:
How 'bout that Scully?
Note 4:
In Ancient Greek there was a verb "to radish", which was the act of punishing an adulterer by inserting a large vegetable into the rectum. In "The Clouds", Aristophanes sought laughs from the thought of adulterers getting punished in this manner.   In Greek and Roman times, the radish was very different than the ones we grow today.  The radish was grown for winter storage, and often weighed 50 to 100 lbs. each. It was eaten cooked or raw and seasoned with honey and vinegar.
Note 5:
To delay prosecution for copyright infringement, I stole illustrations from "The Little Prince" from a Romanian website.  So to appreciate the splendor of Saint-Exupéry's text, please get out your Romanian:French dictionaries: In cartea aceea se spunea: "Serpii boa isi inghit prada dintr-o data, fara s-o mai mestece. Pe urma, nu mai sunt in stare sa miste si dorm intruna, timp de sase luni, cat tine mistuitul. M-am gandit atunci indelung la peripetiile din jungla si am izbutit sa fac la randu-mi, cu un creion colorat, primul meu desen. Desenul numarul 1. Era asa:


"Aristophanes and Greek Old Comedy" by John Porter

Burgess Shale
Marcel Duchamp
International LITTLE PRINCE Online
Kenny G
"Rape in antiquity: sexual violence in the Greek and Roman Worlds"
by E. M. Harris


Fig.1 Burgess Shale Fauna


Fig.2 Kenny G. & my dentist


Fig.3 Duchamp Ready-Made


Fig.4 Radishes




by WetLegKik

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Every year Brother WetLegKik breaks down the events on the OBSSE mailing list. If you're not on that list and ever wonder what goes on, or even if you are and can't remember the past this is a pretty good indication of the craziness there.)

The year 2000 was an interesting one for the OBSSE mailing list. As the seventh season of The X-Files staggered towards the final finish line, one series star was suing the XF creator/producer over syndication money and was not on speaking terms with anyone at 1013 Productions. He wouldn't even have lunch with them. The other star was telling anyone
who would listen that she could not possibly do an eighth season because she was exhausted, emotionally and creatively drained, underpaid, didn't have a thing to wear, and wanted to be a movie star. Loyal fans of The X-Files were openly fighting in the streets, back alleys and online about whether the show should continue its downward spiral towards mediocrity or mercifully die at the ripe old age of seven.         

The year began with a bang in an episode that shocked Scully fans around the world and OBSSE members in particular. Our Saint Scully did the unthinkable. She committed a serious crime and then conspired with Mulder to cover it up. The fact that Agent Scully, in her own home, shot and killed the very essence of the devil, Donnie Pfaster, while he was in custody was too much for some OBSSE members to accept. Heated
arguments flew across the Internet. Legal outrage versus moral justification, technicalities of the law versus the bigger view, vengeance versus due process, and saint versus mere mortal were just some of the topics of debate. Some OBSSE members in good standing were so upset that they found their way to the Abbey door and left of their own accord in their own Accords. Another less-than-legitimate member of the mailing list had been surreptitiously lying low in disguise, but found she could not remain silent in hiding any longer and marched out the door, upset in a major way by Scully's illegal behavior in Orison. Yep, it was a tense time for the ol' Inbox.             

After Chris Carter's patented "forget all about it" solution to Dana Scully's criminal and moral breakdown, we immediately went back to clever and non-fattening X-Files-lite episodes such as The Amazing Maleeni and Je Souhaite, and slimy MotW episodes such as Signs and Wonders and Theef. This period will be forever known as the Maleeni Hair Era (MHE), a time when many of us who care about the hair suffered greatly. A substantial bounty was semi-jokingly offered for the head of the hairdresser who caused so much anguish for so many CHarcists. Mytharcists were given a bit of closure with Mulder's final acceptance of the loss of his sister, Samantha. But for Scully fans these episodes were only filler, as we were all obsessed with Gillian Anderson's upcoming writing and directorial debut in all things. We were finally going to get to know Dana Scully through the eyes of the person who knows her better than anyone else. Non-Mulderists planned to rejoice in witnessing the contempt Scully really felt towards Fox Mulder. It was gonna be good. Then, only one minute into all things, gasps of amazement, shock, disgust, and revulsion were heard across the land when it was revealed that Agent Scully had slept with Agent Mulder even before the opening title sequence rolled. How could this happen? Scully is too good for Mulder. Scully is a saint. Mulder is a punk. The end of the world is upon us! Although Gillian put it right out there for all to see, many people went into immediate denial and came up with some outlandish rationales for disproving the obvious. If some Scully fans thought a sexual relationship between Mulder and Scully was impossible, improbable, ill-advised, and downright disgusting, they were stunned at the next revelation in our favorite little sci-fi saga. David Duchovny wanted out and Gillian Anderson wanted out. Many fans wanted The X-Files to end before it turned into Mayberry R.F.D. If there was not going to be an eighth season, Chris Carter had to wind up seven years of the alien mytharc and unresolved sexual tension in one episode. And so he did. Mulder was abducted near the X on the road in Oregon where it all began, and the seventh season ended with Scully smiling and uttering the words, "I'm pregnant."

A firestorm of protests rained down upon the OBSSE mailing list. NoRoMos went into cardiac arrest. "It's impossible!" they cried. Bead was so upset about Scully's pregnancy that she withdrew into total seclusion, only venturing out after dark each evening to set her VCR to record every freakin' minute of every freakin' show on the WB. Shippers smiled enigmatically and started crocheting baby blankets, planning baby showers, and worrying about how Scully's clothes would fit. The mailing
list arguments supporting the obvious reason why Scully could not possibly be pregnant collided in mid-dialup with detailed scientific, biological, and medical explanations as to how it could have happened. The most outrageous SRE: Cigarette Smoking Man had something to do with it. Long, entertaining mailing list threads debated whether the baby would be human or alien? Stay at home or day care? Granny or nanny? Breast-fed or formula? Disposable or cloth? Public school or private? Late night chats questioned the length of the FBI's maternity leave, HMO pediatric care, the J. Edgar Hoover Building's nursery facility, maternity holsters, and post-partum workout exercises.

The seventh season of The X-Files ended with things in an unsettled condition. It looked like the bottom of the ninth inning had come and gone and the game was over. One nun, who could not be identified, was spotted out in front of the OBSSE Abbey, demurely pounding a big "For Sale" sign into the hallowed ground with a 40 pound sledge hammer while laughing hysterically. The classified section of the local newspaper was suddenly filled with cryptic advertisements for the sale of some strange things. Items such as several dozen unopened cases of Tic-Tacs, thousands of pounds of various cheeses and simulated cheese-like food products, unused nuns' habits and wimples, various leather clothing items and adult swimming pool accessories. One ad offered a complete collection of The X-Files episodes (except Travelers) on videotape (the tapes were not for sale but the ad said they could be traded for Buffy tapes). All of these want-ads had the same phone number: 718-4-SPARKY. 

Then came the announcement from 1013 Productions that there would be an eighth season of The X-Files, but it would be Mulder-lite. David Duchovny's contract was up and he would not be coming back as a full time employee of 1013 Productions. Gillian Anderson was locked up contractually for an eighth season and reluctantly agreed to fulfill her contract. Although she had previously said that she could not possibly do an eighth season, she caused 600 jaws to simultaneously hit the Abbey floor by announcing that she had signed up for a NINTH season! This caused great consternation in OBSSELand, with Richter scale readings of 7.2 julias, causing lots of broken marguerite Glasses at the epicenter, which was located in Boulder, Colorado, USA. Emergency shipments of paper cups, ice, salt, tequila and Beer were dispatched to the affected areas. CathyB ranted, La.. rationalized, and Gen legaleezed, while some of us just scratched our heads and wondered why we shouldn't be happy that Gillian wanted to continue to play our favorite character on our favorite TV show. But the ninth season was a done deal.

However, all of these important issues took a back seat to the most important event of the summer of 2000: The Third Annual OBSSE Fest.

The mailing list was strangely quiet during the week of Fest. Those of us who could not attend wondered if maybe the entire group of Fest goers had been abducted by people with Scandinavian accents and forced to eat bland food and sing corny songs. We shouldn't have worried because Sister "Bossypants" Nanners had her Fest 2000 Foto Album WEB Site uploaded and available for worldwide viewing early Sunday evening, before some Festers had even pranced through the airport metal and cheese detectors on their way home from Minnesota. Judging from Nanners' photos and more photos by the lazy slackers who couldn't get their photos uploaded before Monday morning, Fest 2000 was a big success, with lots of fun, frivolity and a very nice buffet table. And leeches. The sisters of OBSSE (along with a few token brothers) proved again that if something is worth doing, it is worth overdoing, in extremis. It didn't take long before the mailing list was awash with neeners and inside jokes that made the rest of us just want to hurl.

Arriving back home in Colorado after another successful OBSSE Fest, Wielder of the Holy Trout, Sister Autumn "Where's my freakin' beer?" Tysko had not even had time to unpack her fish when she found out that she had been invited to join Gillian Anderson in Washington, D.C. for a NF, Inc. Congressional Luncheon. That sounds real fancy schmanzy, but all it meant was that Autumn would get to go to D.C. and schmooze with Gillian and other less important people (like Senators and Congressmen) and eat rubbery chicken. Although Sister La.. is the chief NF muckety muck in OBSSE, she could not accompany Autumn to Washington, D.C. because she is terrified of Gillian Anderson's hair and poor fashion sense. Instead Sister "It's my freakin' newsletter" Paula went along with Autumn. Shortly afterwards, the mailing list was filled with neeners and photos of Gillian playing grab *ss with Autumn. It made the rest of us unfortunate low-lifes just want to hurl.

In the midst of all of these charitable goings on, one particular member of OBSSE seemed to forget that discretion is the better part of valor, and uncharitably boasted about her own charitable contributions to charity. This did not go over well on the list and it soon threatened to rip apart the very fabric of OBSSE. Fortunately the fabric of OBSSE is polyesther, and it merely stretched instead of ripped.

After the OBSSE Fest in Minnesota and the Schmooze Fest in Washington, D.C., things quieted down on the mailing list through the "dog" days of summer. Well, they were quiet until late July, when 1013 Productions announced that Scully's new partner had been created and that Agent John "I'm a man's man" Doggett would be played by actor Robert "Who is he?" Patrick. Then the 1013 Spin and Hype machine went into action, informing all of us that Doggett would be different from Mulder. Apparently, after seven years of watching Mulder's every move on TV, none of us realized that he was such a girly man. Doggett would be different. He would be a manly man. If Mulder had one ounce of testosterone, Doggett had a hundred gallons. The mailing list was immediately flooded with questions regarding exactly how well the manly Agent Doggett measured up (in inches for U.S. residents, centimeters for all others). Speculation ran rampant as to suitable objects for comparison, from golf balls to beach balls. There was a genuine sense of concern expressed on the list for Doggett and his sense of balance while burdened with such a heavy payload. But it was only July and soon things on the mailing list calmed down as we realized it was a long time until November. Just for fun, everyone put on their survival gear and paid tribute to Kirby "I lurve Gretchen" Vivor.

Exhausted after an exciting July, the mailing list really fell into the summer doldrums in August. It was quiet until some self-obsessed ghoul suggested a "self-obsessed ghoul" topic and away we went, trying to top each other's brushes with celebrity. AutumnT even joined in and boasted that the highlight of her life was having a professional football player babysit her when she was a toddler. Autumn thought that was really cool, until we reminded her that she recently had lunch and hung out with an Emmy Award-winning actress. Duh.

September was sort of quiet on the mailing list. A brief flare-up of Never Again related posts sent Sister La.. into an extended state of ecstasy which caused delays in the publication of the OBSSE newsletter. But other than that, the first part of the month was fairly serene. Then La.. received a special message from Gillian Anderson, thanking everyone in OBSSE for the fundraising and awareness-raising efforts by OBSSE on behalf of NF, Inc., and giving us all "bug hugs". We all swooned. La.. was so happy she changed her email address to

When Gillian's House of Mirth was shown at the New York Film Festival, it was neener time again from all of those lucky New Yorkers who got to go see Gillian and the movie. Then photos of Gillian in "that" shockingly-shaped tangerine dress and "those" Wizard of Oz boots she wore to the NYFF HoM screening started popping up all over the place, much to the horror of those of us who have an aversion to ridiculous looking clothing being worn in public. Sister Paula was fashionably aghast. Ataraxia said the outfit looked like a very sick Photoshop joke. Henry claimed that he was nearly blinded. And our very own NFF said that she liked Gillian's NYFF outfit. Does that give you any inkling of where true evil resides? And is anyone else getting confused by all the NFs, NFFs, and NYFFs? Is this some kind of conspiracy?

The critical acclaim heaped upon House of Mirth had OBSSE'rs acting like proud parents. High fives were exchanged electronically around the world. We were right. She COULD act. Life was sweet. Life was good. Until it happened. It is now known as the "Big-Boned Incident". A New York Times film reviewer described Gillian Anderson as "big-boned". A sharp stick in the eye could not have hurt us any worse. Bad fashion sense? Possibly. Poor buttoning skills? Of course. A sexy beauty mark above her upper lip? Fer shure. Big-boned? No way. If that New York reviewer could have collected the heat generated on the mailing list in response to his comments, he could have melted all the snow that recently fell in Central Park. Outrage was a totally inadequate description of the tone of the mailing list posts in response to his review. The UNC server that handles OBSSE mail overheated and set off the sprinkler system in their computer room. One sourpuss in the Big Apple ruined the whole barrel of rabid monkeys.

In early October Sister Lens "I can't ever make the connection" of Science, the OBSSE Elder of Minion Relations, did make the connection and got married. It was THE event of the season, with an international audience. Not only did quite a few OBSSE minions (suck ups) attend the ceremony at an undisclosed location in New England, the entire freakin' OBSSE Council of Elders was there too, which was quite a surprise considering the serious Elder feud concerning wedding gift protocol. It seems AutumnT sent Lens a lovely wedding present a week or so before the happy event. Lens immediately sent AutumnT a thank-you note, informing her that the new blender made some knockout 'ritas. AutumnT was miffed. Lens was puzzled. AutumnT did not think Lens should be opening her wedding presents before the wedding. Apparently, AutumnT did not realize that opening wedding gifts early was not the only pre-marital activity in which Sister Lens engaged.

The wedding reception proved that the "doesn't have a clue" gene is alive and well in the Lens of Science family. Sister Lens has a cousin who attended the wedding. Cousin of Science is a big X-Files fan and was well aware of The Order of the Blessed Saint Scully the Enigmatic and the OBSSE WEB Site. She had even applied for admittance to the mailing list, but the list was closed and she was rejected. At the wedding reception, Cousin of Science was unknowingly seated at the OBSSE table. Across from her were people named Squat, Princess, Gen, Paula, La.., Kirby, Colin, Nanners, Glasses, Nanchita, Jezebel, CathyB, Meredith, AND Autumn. They were all dressed in nun's habits and knocking back the free booze, smoking big cigars, and cussing like little sailors. Cousin of Science didn't even stop to think that this was unusual. The only topic of conversation at the table was Dana Scully. Cousin of Science still did not make the connection. Finally, Cousin of Science asked why everyone seemed to know each other. It was explained that they were all members of an Internet cult called OBSSE. A light bulb appeared over Cousin's head and lit up brightly. She was surprised. She was astounded. She was thrilled. She was honored. She still did not have a clue that her cousin Donna was Sister Lens of Science until someone explained it to her. And we thought the Peacock family was scary.

October was a difficult month for the OBSSE mailing list. Snippiness raised its ugly head as the effects of a long summer of Scullynemia began to take its toll. As the autumn leaves began to drop, AutumnT began dropping some major spoilers for the premiere episode of Season "Who Let The Dog Out" Eight. Spoiler virgins lived in fear that in a moment of passion, a determined spoiler post would slip through their protective devices and ruin five months of celibacy. Of course, since the FOX Network would be carrying the Major League Baseball Playoffs and World Series, the first episode of The X-Files was not even scheduled until early November. This prompted much whining from those who do not understand the magic, beauty, and pure poetry of baseball. As a reminder to some Denver Broncos and New York Jets football fans, Scully is a baseball fan and not a football fan. Want proof?

"Shut up Mulder, I'm playing baseball."
 Dana Scully in The Unnatural

"I like baseball."
 Dana Scully in The Goldberg Variation

And in the immortal words of Arthur Dales #2 in The Unnatural:

"What you fail to understand in your joyless myopia is that baseball is the key to life--the Rosetta Stone, if you will. If you just understood baseball better, all your other questions... the aliens, the conspiracies, they would all be answered by the baseball gods." 

So, there. PFNAR! Not to mention that the FOX Network executives sold their souls to the devil in hopes of getting a New York Yankees vs. New York Mets World Series. And the devil delivered. Oddly enough, the devil looks just like Roger Clemens.

While the non-believing heathens suffered through the month of October with no X-Files and baseball on TV almost every night, the enlightened ones sat back and rejoiced in our gifts from the baseball gods. We enjoyed our salted-in-the-shell peanuts and Cracker Jacks, knowing that we would soon get to quench our thirsts on November 5th with a delicious, Big Gulp of Dana Scully. Ahhhhhh.

The OBSSE Elders were concerned, however, about the long-term effects that five months of no new Scully was having on the huddled masses. This concern spawned a major event on the mailing list: Pandering Week. Rather than simply voting for our favorite Scully-centric episodes to be screened during next year's nationwide Scullython Fundraisers for NF, someone (La..) decided to allow mailing list members to actively campaign for their favorite episode (Never Again) to attempt to sway the voting in their favor. Simple plain text-only (PTO) mailing list posts pleading for votes quickly gave way to heavy-handed HTML, JavaScript-enhanced, Flash-assisted, multi-media-equipped WEB Page Panderings (HHHTMLJSEFAMMEWPP). It was not a pretty sight. Shameless would not even begin to describe the depths to which some members (Rania) were willing to plunge to get their favorite episode (Teso) added to the Scullython playlist. An elder-organized counter campaign containing not-so-veiled threats and fishy-smelling scare tactics was quickly implemented to encourage the electorate to vote against certain episodes (Teso) and for certain episodes (all things). The Republican Party took note and used these same tactics in Florida to win the American presidential election. Although the OBSSE voting machines had very little problems with Chad, Scully's pregnant dimples did cause some snags. But there was no doubt that the OBSSE Scullython vote count was very accurate, and in the end, all things worked out well, except for Field Trip being included at the expense of some good episodes. We can all hope that the bad blood caused by this experience can be forgotten and that lame episodes are never again included in such a prestigious exhibition of Dana Scully's best episodes.

Just a few days before the season premiere on November 5th, with nerves getting raw and many members spoiling for a fight or fighting for a spoiler, an OBSSE tradition was dragged up out of the wine cellar. In an attempt to release the tension that had built up during the five months since Requiem aired and left us all dangling in suspense we were given Rampant Pissiness Weekend! Now the gloves could come off and all of the ignorant sluts and stupid morons could be addressed as "ignorant sluts" and "stupid morons", instead of insincere bare-faced lies such as "my very dear friend" or "my esteemed colleague". By Sunday afternoon, the blood-letting had ended and OBSSE members were getting all schmoopy again about their very dear friends and esteemed colleagues. We were now ready for the Season Eight to begin.

The first two episodes of the new Season, Within and Without gave all of us fans lots and lots of Scully. She met her new partner, Agent John Doggett. Rather than shaking his hand, she tossed a cup of water in his face. Cheers were heard from Nova Scotia to Hawaii as that scene worked its way across the North American time zones. But a strange sadness hung over the OBSSE mailing list. Even though many members did not miss Fox Mulder at all, almost everyone had to admit that The X-Files just wasn't going to be the same without him. Not only had Mulder been abducted, we also found out that he was dying. Scully was sad and alone. Doggett was stone-faced and couldn't comprehend multi-syllable words. Kersh was as big a jerk as ever. Skinner was wimpy and had taken to wearing pastel colors. Ma Scully didn't answer the phone. There was an underlying melancholy on the show and on the mailing list. Scully had no one to turn to and she was feeling very alone in the cosmos. It was obvious things had taken a turn toward the dark side.

However, the most important thing about the first two episodes was that Scully was right-haired and her blouse was tight. And there was major cleavage. Oh, and the AutumnT Reviews and the Severed Reviews were back!

OBSSE'rs are nothing if not resourceful, and even though our favorite FBI agent was suffering in many ways, that was no reason not to have a party. All over the United States and Canada, Season Eight Premiere Parties (SEPPs) ushered in the new era of The X-Files. Airlines experienced an unexplained surge in passengers on the Friday before the premiere. Grocery and liquor stores tallied up much higher than normal sales, even though it wasn't a holiday weekend. On Sunday evening blenders blended, cheese dips were dipped, snacks were snacked, digital cameras digitized, videocassette recorders recorded, and Naked!CathyB got naked. No one ever said we don't know how to have a good time.

To top off a great premiere weekend, Gillian Anderson was on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno on the Monday after the premiere. She didn't dress like Scully, but she wasn't wearing anything like that horrid HoM premiere outfit. She looked hot. She told bathroom stories, talked about a menage-a-trois with Mulder and Doggett, and giggled. She also encouraged everyone to vote the right way in the next day's election. Apparently, the Tonight Show was pre-empted in Florida that night.

What do you call it when the climax occurs at the beginning? The first two episodes, Within and Without, seem to be the highlight of Season Eight so far. Starting with Patience, The X-Files appears to be heading downhill. Forgetting about Scully's search for Mulder and reverting to Monster of the Week episodes just left a lot of people hanging from the rafters. About the only good things that happened in Patience were Gillian Anderson now had top billing in the opening credits and she had again forgotten how to button her blouse. Most comments on the mailing list regarding the sudden shift of focus away from Fox Mulder and towards the emergence of John Doggett were thoughtful and fair, with most people giving Agent Doggett the benefit of his doubts. Leading up to the holiday hiatus, Scully lovers found they were getting less and less Scully each week. While Roadrunners was no doubt Scully-centric, it left a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths. A lot of us don't like it when Scully gets shot, and in Roadrunners she took a big slug right in the back. She was in pain and needed help and Doggett is not a medical doctor. Of course, some irreverent and disrespectful members of the mailing list couldn't resist making light of Scully's slug, and yukked it up big time until they hit their five post limit.

Next came Invocation, and it was so depressing it could barely generate any discussion at all. Even Scully's most ardent supporters grew tired of hearing her say stuff like "this is not normal". If it were normal, someone else would be assigned to investigate the case. If Mulder and Scully had an on-screen electricity between them equivalent to a 1000 watt floodlight, Scully and Doggett have the dimness of a 7 watt nightlight.

Things perked up on the mailing list in early December as numerous members of OBSSE converged on Los Angeles for the California Tofu version of the Washington, D.C. NF Schmooze Fest. After some intense therapy and promises that Gillian's hair looked good, even Sister La.. made the trek from New York City to LaLaLand to attend the function held at the FOX Studio. The Homework Princess was a special guest, and Gillian would not leave her alone, insisting that The Princess appear in every photo with her. Judging by the early neener posts, the Los Angeles get together with Gillian was very exciting, with everyone getting to meet with, tour the XF set with, be photographed with, and actually touch Gillian. It made the rest of us scum-sucking single-celled life forms just want to hurl.

Before everyone who attended the West Coast Schmooze Fest could finish posting their neeners, AutumnT dropped a bombshell spoiler on us that she got straight from the big-boned star of HoM herself. An upcoming episode of The X-Files will feature a legless genie who transports himself about by hitching a ride on the "Where The Sun Don't Shine" shuttle. The distasteful subject matter of this episode, which will appear early in 2001, generated a large number of intelligent, insightful, and highly dignified posts that one would naturally expect from such an intelligent, insightful, and highly dignified group of people. The premise of this episode actually sounds so incredibly ridiculous that some of us suspect that it is a piece of disinformation, planted by Chris Carter to expose the person at 1013 Productions who is leaking confidential information to AutumnT. It could be just like what happened to "X" in Herrenvolk but this time it is the lady with the mole turning out to be The Mole. Will AutumnT soon be face down in a pool of Nanchita's cheese dip on the hallway floor of Gillian's apartment building, writing "SRSG" with her finger in the quéso? Only time will tell.

While we all knew that eventually we would get some heavy Doggett-centric episodes so we could get to know the manly man better, we certainly did not think that both Doggett AND Scully would disappear from view in the same episode. Redrum was about some stranger having a bad dream. It didn't even really happen. It certainly wasn't an X-File. Maybe they should have had Skinner or Frohike having sexy dreams about Scully. At least it would have been relevant and made Reade happy.

If we needed proof that Season Eight was going into the tank, the fact that the Severed Reviews began appearing a week or two before AutumnT's Episode Reviews should have been like a fire alarm going off. The Severed Reviews are written (penned? hammered out? regurgitated?) by a couple of whacked-out foreign correspondents (one in Britain and the other in the Australian outback) who HAVE NOT EVEN SEEN THE EPISODE they are reviewing. In fact, it could be that they have never seen a single episode of The X-Files, and are actually watching some BBC or OzBC knock-offs of the real thing. Even they were bored to tears just reading about Redrum on the mailing list and took to knocking each other about with a large, spiked club for inspiration. This is not unusual, and sometimes they write better after a few gallons (liters?) of blood have been spilled.

Following Redrum, we were less than overwhelmed by Via Negativa, which according to a recent expert analysis, contained about four minutes of actual Scully screen time, and that's counting time Scully was shown sleeping! This episode was about as filling as cotton candy, and barely generated any mailing list comments at all, either positiva or negativa.

In conclusion, the year 2000 was a good one for the OBSSE Mailing list. It averaged 36 posts per day. We endured Orison outrage, only a few flaming skirmishes, intense neenering, pregnant Scully, and lame license plates. We enjoyed shift key impairments, pseudo-offlist weekend, CHarc discussions, RP weekend, Pandering Week, Naked!Ranting, FEST Photos, and Rania!Offlist!Squirrel posts. We busted our buttons with pride at the success of the NF Scullythons, Gillian's amazing episode, The OBSSE Newsletter, and House of Mirth. We were amazed at the blurring of national borders, the breakdown of cultural barriers, the tolerance and camaraderie of good friends we have never met, and the special delivery of a new baby Scullyist.

all things considered, it was a pretty good year...