Relax, Folks

I admit it: I’m a simple man, amused by simple things.  Beyond the Simpsons and Mel Brooks and Monty Python, I get a huge kick out of conspiracy theories…and especially out of the folks who obsess about them.

Right now, easily the most entertainment is coming from “flat earthers”.  For whatever reason — and I have zero idea why — this particular conspiracy theory has bubbled to the top in terms of media mentions and attention.  It’s that bubbling to the top that has made it fun, however!

The stories and Youtube videos about these folks — both for and against — are entertaining enough…but then you get to the comments.  Oh, the comments…  My God, are those comments pure gold!  Heck, they’re more entertaining than the dang stories/videos themselves.

orgin_of_secret_societies-invertNow, as much fun as I have with the believers of that theory, it is those who are obsessed with attacking them that provide some of the funniest moments.  Don’t get me wrong, the whole “flat earth” thing is loony as hell…but it’s no loonier than the Freemasons being a nefarious, centuries old plot to dominate the world (as opposed to a bunch of old guys who like funky handshakes and hanging out for drinks a couple of nights a week…). It’s certainly no loonier than the “aliens among us”, or the Illuminati, or the Rosicrucians, or the…ah, hell, go ahead and pick your own!

But, for some reason, the flat earthers just seem to get some opponents going.  A number of folks take the whole thing personally, get well and truly angry and upset about it.  Hell, to a number, it represents not a loony, very small-time conspiracy theory, but is instead a symbol of the complete breakdown of modern society.

Oh, please.

The flat-earthers no more represent the end of civilization and the triumph of ignorance than a pair of 80-year-olds exchanging secret handshakes represent a secret cabal controlling the fate of humanity.

Honestly, I think the people who get so wound up and obsessed with “debunking” the looniness are the reason it even exists in the first place!  Oh, I’m sure there are folks out there who really believe the Earth is flat*…all of about five of them.  No, most of the “flat earthers” aren’t believers, I’d say; it’s far more likely that they’re out there just absolutely trolling the shit out of the angry folks.

discworld_main*I think Terry Pratchett had it about right with Discworld: It’s flat!  And on the backs of four elephants!  Who are standing on top of a turtle!

Think about it: you post a video, or a link…you make a few comments…and touch off a firestorm of people working themselves into a frenzy and a fury.  You then grab a beer, sit back, and laugh your ass off watching people twist themselves into knots linking your “flat earth” crap to every problem they see in the world: the left will say it shows how the right have destroyed education!  The right will say that, no, it shows how the left has destroyed the family and the last vestiges of morality!  It’s inbred rednecks! No, it’s college snowflakes!  It’s Americans!  No, it’s Canadians!

I’ve never posted a link or story or video on the whole “flat earth” thing…but, my God have I enjoyed the show that follows!

Really, folks, is the whole thing worth getting upset about?  Just how empty does a person’s life have to be to get upset about someone else beliefs?  Just how vituperative and politically narcissistic do you have to be to turn a cheesy conspiracy theory into anything more than a laugh?

Great, now I’m getting myself back into a “conspiracy-theory-mood”. Hell, maybe someday I’ll actually finish that satire I’ve had kicking around the back of my mind for the last couple of decades!

I Finally Solved the Problem!

Err…okay…that title may be a bit, umm, ambitious. Not to mention misleading as hell – I have way too many problems to solve at one time. Or, well, at all.

But I did figure out why the conspiracy theory book was not clicking with me, and that’s a huge hurdle to overcome. The early process of creating the structure and plan for a story should, for me at least, follow pretty smoothly on the heels of finding/creating the main character and general intent.

It didn’t, not this time.

Because I was doing it wrong.

Well, at least “wrong” for me.

I had been coming at this from the top-down. I was researching conspiracies and secret societies and trying to come up with a plot based around them. That’s…err…very, very wrong. Four times I sat down and tried to come up with just a summary of the story, and an idea of how things would progress, and four times I failed. There are far too many conspiracies (not to mention just plain random craziness that also fits the bill) for that to work. It’s the equivalent of trying to create a fantasy story by starting with the armor.

most-interesting-squirrelADD random-thought warning!

That might actually be a fun writing challenge for when I’m bored and sick of everything else. Start with an empty suit of armor…add a sword, although for the sake of variation maybe I’ll make it a club since there’re too many magic swords in stories…then come up with a heroic story from THEIR point of view.

SQUIRREL!!

Okay, I’m over it now…back to the post I meant to write.

I know it sounds so basic it shouldn’t have to be stated, but I had to go all the way back to the beginning and start with the story first. I sat this morning and figured out the structure of the book (not as hard as it sounds – I have a certain structural model that makes sense to me, and helps me to plan things out), then I started planning out the story itself, and what I wanted to accomplish in each part.

Finally, things clicked. Thank anything and everything in the universe!

That 5-1 game I mentioned before? The conspiracy theory book finally scored a few goals. It’s still 5-4 with a minute left, but at least it’s a fucking game now.

Again, I know it sounds trite to go back to such basics, but sometimes that’s what you have to do. Well, at least, that’s what I have to do.

The other “realization” that helped me was when I remembered I don’t need to know and define every single twist and turn before I start. Especially not in a book like this. I need a good general picture, not an infinitely detailed outline. This is a story based on humor & satire, I can let the writing take me to places I hadn’t really counted on – within reason, of course.

Now it’s time to celebrate with a beer*.

*Note – had I failed at “solving” my problem, it would be time to console myself with a beer. There’s nothing quite like flexibility!

 

Templars and Masons and Rosicrucians, Oh My!

Reptilian people. Alien Overlords. Occult ceremonies. Financial manipulation. Political….err, normalcy.

God, I love conspiracy theories! They are the most entertaining things in the world. Especially this year…I don’t even want to talk about this year’s politics. Nope, I’m on strike in that regard. No politics…and certainly no election. They don’t exist.

imageLA LA LA…I’m not listening!

Conspiracy theories make infinitely more sense than a single minute of the 2016 election season.

So, I have this pile of books on conspiracies and secret societies to read for research on the (potential) next book. Hell, I’ve been reading this stuff off-and-on since around 2000, maybe a few years earlier. Hey, what do you want? I can barely remember what I had for breakfast, and you want me to remember when I read my first conspiracy theory book? Crikey.

The hard part is paring all of that insanity (fun, but still looney as all get-out) into a useable plot…preferably one that does not mirror, mimic or otherwise copy that best of all conspiracy theory novels, Foucault’s Pendulum. You haven’t read it, you say? Go, now, and get it. I’ll wait. GO! I say.

Do I go big, and focus on worldwide dominance? A war between secret societies? Or go small, and work through one guy’s view “from the inside”?

The hard part of starting a new book–for me–isn’t the writing itself. Hell, the writing is the fun part. No, it’s staring at the blank paper where a plot outline is supposed to be. Especially since I love characters and character-driven stories. Thrillers and mysteries and other plot-driven stuff? Those are, to be honest, something of a slog for me to even read, let alone write. I’m not sure I could pull off a purely plot-driven story. Hell, that’s a big part of why I can’t write short fiction to save my life.hh-animals-squirrel-4

Dammit…another ADD moment…SQUIRREL!!

Never mind. Back to plots. And, well, characters.

I do think I’ve found my protagonist and POV. Still working on the tone and voice, but it is coming together. I want this to be a comedy, so that frees up the voice quite a bit…now I just have to watch a shit-ton of comedies to get my brain into that mode.

SHUT UP, CONNOR! IT’S NOT YOUR TURN!

Sorry, the other potential story was, err, misbehaving. Anyone know where I can get a shock collar for a ghost?

At any rate, slackers are the key to this story at this point. There may or may not be…ahem…some autobiographical elements to that part of the character. Stop judging me, I freely admit to my slackerdom! One of the things I do plan to do with this particular story is play with locations and settings. I’ve spent a wee bit of time in Europe, and I absolutely have to use places like Prague and Kraków and Dubrovnik and….crap, that list could go on for a while. Let’s just say I know every, err, well, brewery between here and Moscow.

Oh…and mullets. Somewhere in this damn book, someone will have a mullet.