After months of seclusion, most of which has been spent working on the massive "Leviatron" project, Doctor Flaxon surfaced in Santa Clara, California on April 1, 1996, at a special after-hours awards ceremony given by CyberEdge Journal at the VRAIS conference. Flaxon received the first award for "Incredible Innovation in Virtual Reality Interface Design", presented by Ben Delaney of CyberEdge, and gave a brief overview of some of the unique interfaces developed at FAIT during his acceptance speech.
Flaxon received a special honor when Ivan Sutherland, recipient of the first-ever "VR Pioneer" award (to be known hereafter as the Sutherland Award), gave a tip-of-the-hat toward Flaxon's "Baseball-bat Interface" (sic) in the context of answering the question, "have we been fooled by VR yet?". A large, twisted grin formed on Flaxon's face at the mention of his technology by the "Father of VR". The two were seen chatting amiably together after the ceremony.
At the August 30, 1995 VeRGe (Virtual Reality Education Foundation) meeting in San Francisco, Flaxon showed up in the audience with one of his recent test subjects, Scott Stevenson of Santa Rosa, California. Flaxon was strangely quiet most of the evening, deeply absorbed in the panel discussion of Violent VR Games happening onstage. During the latter question/answer period, however, he broke his silence to stand and point out the dearth of discussion about Violent Interfaces, his chosen area of expertise, and invited anyone in the audience to approach him during the break for details about his research in this area (a rather obvious ploy for "volunteerism").
Flaxon and an unknown partner were seen at Virtual World in Costa Mesa, CA on August 5th, 1995. Our sources, who were participants in the session in which Flaxon and company were involved, say Flaxon's call sign was "The Evil Dr.", and that his accomplice just called himself "Elvis". Flaxon came in second place (he admitted to the others during the pre-play briefing session that it was the first time either he or Elvis had played BattleTech), being savagely and repeatedly attacked by a female player known as "Honey". It appears Elvis must have been telling the truth about his first-timer status - his end score was in the negative numbers. There was speculation by witnesses that Elvis may have been a recent Flaxon "volunteer", perhaps returning to the real world for the first time in months after being immersed in one of Flaxon's horrible simulations at the lab.
Flaxon was seen at the Siggraph show in Los Angeles, CA, in early August 1995. No public performances were given, but Flaxon was reportedly carrying a briefcase with bumper stickers on it reading, "Take a Criminally Insane Scientist to Lunch" and "Have You Hugged Your Social Liability Today?". Scott Foster of Crystal River Engineering was reportedly engaged by Flaxon during Course 10 (Sound for Animation and Virtual Reality), perhaps to discuss 3D audio design concepts...
Flaxon was also seen repeatedly in the company of Ben Delaney of CyberEdge Information Services (publishers of the CyberEdge Journal)... One wonders what sort of nefarious alliance might be brewing between the Evil One and this industry publishing magnate.
It seems the Evil One was laying low (literally) throughout the month of July, feverishly
driven to work the bugs out of his latest project: The Space Shuttle
Adventure LBE system. Late nights were spent
programming the complex hydraulic control system and establishing the links to the pod's
sound system, which consists mainly of two 5,000-watt subwoofers mounted at the front and
rear of the cabin, pointing toward each other. The audio program is designed with a
frequency-sensitive delay on one of the channels, allowing the woofers to emanate acoustic
wavefronts that reinforce each other: one woofer "pulls" while the other "pushes", maximizing
airflow in both directions through the cabin and thoroughly hammering its occupants.
On an unrelated note, researchers in Las Vegas, Nevada, have reported a 200% rise in deafness
since June among its rising homeless population. Public health officials are still baffled by
this phenomenon, and have no leads as yet as to its cause.
(Associated Press, August 10, 1995)
On May 24, 1995, the Evil Dr. Flaxon appeared in public at the Mecklermedia VR95 conference in San Jose, California. Walking around resplendent in his ultra-white lab coat and having done a decent job at hiding the scars and welts on his forehead with makeup, he attempted to rub elbows with the brightest lights in the VR community both by attending sessions and cruising the exhibit floor all day long.
That evening, he gave a rare and special presentation of his background and his work at FAIT to a largely VeRGe'n (Virtual Reality Education Foundation) audience. Linda Jacobson, after a somewhat lengthy and oft-shaky introduction of Flaxon (during which she alluded that Flaxon might be somehow mixed up in the curious disappearance of Alternative Interface guru Dave Warner), handed the stage (and the audience, like so many hors d'oeuvres) over to Flaxon. After giving an overview of his early work and his design philosophy, he launched into a slide presentation in which he showed off the full FAIT line of products.
The second part of his presentation consisted of a live demonstration, with the somewhat-naive Calvin "Vinnie" Grier coming up to the stage to act as Flaxon's "Special Guest Victim". The ever-willing Vinnie was made to wear one of Flaxon's new prototype HMD's (known as the "Flax Machine"), while Flaxon served up several FAIT virtual worlds via a remote interface to the off-stage rendering engine (affectionately dubbed the "John Deere Box", for some strange reason...) As the experiences took each predictably and increasingly twisted turn, Vinnie's apparent agitation grew, until finally he broke down in an emotionally-frustrated fit, prone and pounding the stage with one fist.
It was pitiful.
Flaxon also utilized the moment to distribute flyers introducing FAIT and announcing the opening of this Web site. After the presentation was over, Flaxon took Vinnie to the open-house party at General Reality, where he was allowed to consume beer and relax a little bit before his next session...