Tag Archives: North Carolina

The X-Files Season 10: Issue #16

XFiles_10-16

This issue is titled Immaculate and is the first installment in a new storyline. It is definitely spooky stuff and sucks you right in. The writing team weaves together science fiction and horror with actual events to create a truly engaging tale. I’m already craving the next issue.

The story is set in a rural North Carolina town that certainly fits the Bible Belt stereotype. A young woman named Joanie Cartwright goes to an abortion clinic and passes the gauntlet of Pro-Life demonstrators. Once inside, she appears to be communicating with an unseen alien entity. A bomb is exploded and it is assumed that she smuggled it in and detonated it, although she emerges unharmed. She continues to speak to this entity with divine reverence and persuades some of the protesters to follow her.

Once Mulder and Scully are assigned, they discover that the girl’s mother and some of the townsfolk have blinded themselves. They also find out that Joanie’s supposed boyfriend, Daniel, is studying a book on demonology. This all works well in building a compelling mystery.

The issue concludes with a twist that deepens the plot. Throughout the issue, an alien-like shadow represents the entity with whom Joanie is communicating. In the final frame, the entity is depicted with horns and what appear to be large wings, a clear implication that this is supposed to be a demonic being. It leaves the reader with a slew of questions. Is Joanie impregnated by some satanic entity? Is there a connection between angelic/demonic beings and alien life forms? Is Joanie an innocent or is there some dark intention behind her actions? In classic X-Files fashion, one is left with more questions rather than answers.

The issue scheduled out next month will be titled Millennial Visions. That intrigues me for a couple reasons. I don’t think our society has truly gotten over our millennial fears. I think as a society, our apocalyptic fears have taken root and are being fed by media hype. Natural disaster, global warfare, and biological threats are all prominent in our collective psyches. I am also intrigued by the possibility that we may see the return of Frank Black. For those who are unfamiliar, Frank Black was the main character in Chris Carter’s other television series, “Millennium,” which explored the darkness and apocalyptic changes associated with the new millennium. The show ended abruptly and Frank Black made his final television appearance on an X-Files episode. I have always hoped that Black would return in a film or something. Maybe this will be it. I suppose we will have to wait until next month to find out.

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Naked Came the Leaf Peeper

NakedLeafPeeperAsheville, NC is a quirky place, to say the least. There is a saying here: “If you’re too weird for Asheville, you’re too weird.” But its home for me and I love it here. The unique blend of artists, musicians, writers, spiritual seekers, and fringe people of all sorts nestled within the Blue Ridge Mountains makes this the ideal place for me to live.

For the holidays, I was given a gift certificate to Malaprop’s, a local independent bookstore that I love to support. I knew before going there that I wanted to get a copy of Naked Came the Leaf Peeper. I had seen it on display for a while and it has been on my wish list. It is a collaborative work featuring twelve local Asheville writers each contributing a chapter.

The book is a riot! I burst out laughing multiple times as I was reading. Some of the scenes are so over-the-top that, even if you are unfamiliar with Asheville, you will still find them hysterical. For example, there is a scene where a vehicle gets stopped for reckless driving, and it is discovered that the woman driver is naked and shaving herself as her ex-husband tries to steer. And the craziest thing is, if you live in Asheville, it doesn’t seem that far-fetched.

So at this point, you may be wondering what it’s like in Asheville. Here is a quote that will give you an idea.

J.D worked his way downtown, pausing at a light straight across from the Asheville Civic Center so a man and his llama could cross the street in front of him.

A man and his llama?

J.D. turned off his auto-pilot and really looked around for the first time. There were llamas everywhere. Coming and going from the convention center, walking up and down the sidewalk, sitting on benches and parked cars. In the little park at the end of Broadway, hippies and llamas danced in a drum circle. There was even a llama standing with a tip bag tied around its neck while its owner played a guitar outside Malaprop’s Bookstore.

(p. 116)

So while this is a little bit exaggerated for humor’s sake, it’s not far from the truth. You’ll see all kinds of people with animals downtown, and there are always street musicians and people dancing around in drum circles. True story—I used to own an ice cream shop here in Asheville. One day a person came in with a goat on a leash and asked if it was OK to bring his goat in. I told him no, that the goat would have to wait outside. He seemed hurt. I couldn’t help wondering about relationship between him and his goat.

I had some neighbors once who told me that their friends would not come into Asheville because there were too many “wiggins.” It took me a few minutes to realize that he meant wiccans. Yeah, there is definitely a strong earth-based religious community here and the book includes a nod to them with a pretty accurate depiction of a pagan gathering in downtown.

The drummers began to beat their drums slowly, their rhythm increasing as Rowena’s voice grew louder, directing listeners to connect with the Divine within and to the spirits of the land, water, and sky. She called out to the spirits dwelling inside the rock and soil that formed the mountains visible in every direction; she called out to the spirits living in the rivers and springs that nourished the soil, the plants and the animals that drank from them; she called out to the spirits dwelling among the flowers and trees that also nurtured life and brought beauty and comfort. Holding a crystal wand in her hand, Rowena traced a spiraling pattern from above her head to the ground at her feet. She spoke to the dead, honoring those who had come before, and invited them to the circle, too. She undid the boundaries between the living and the dead, the animate and the inanimate, the earth and the cosmos. All were welcome at the gathering.

(pp. 169 – 170)

I don’t want to give away too much, but I’ll say that the rest of the book is filled with witty satire, parody, social commentary, literary allusions, and such. While the story is fictional, the depictions of Asheville and the surrounding counties are pretty accurate. I can also say that many of the characters in the book remind me of people I’ve met here over the years, from the conservative to the quirky to the just plain weird.

Yeah, I live in a weird city, but I love it. Honestly, I can’t imagine living anywhere else. And on that note…

Forget the Keep Asheville Weird bumper stickers. Asheville was weird enough as is.

(p. 116)

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