Confusing Things

It’s school time and time to work on a different schedule. Everything revolves around the kids’ school schedule. They all wake up early, but not quite as early as me. It’s my job to make sure every one of us navigates the morning without colliding with each other. I don’t always make it happen. I think sure bets are so rare they might be nonexistent. At least they are to me.

This time of year brings both welcome and unwanted things. I think the cooler temperatures will please most people; no one likes extremes. All of the animals seem to enjoy the cool. It also smells better in the house. All of the little rug rats won’t sweat so much, and when they run through the house, they won’t have an odor so much like wet dogs.

It’s amazing. One of the age-old questions – why do sweaty children smell like wet dogs? Okay, we don’t need to mull that. There are better, unanswerable questions. Eh oh… I don’t know. I’ll back up from that right now. The other day, the seven-year-old son asked me, “Why are we here?”

Seven years old. Who says youngsters can’t ponder existence?

From this, I can postulate that children might try to tackle Metaphysics before they wrestle with sexual urges. Now that’s odd/ I have met several women who claim the only thing males think about is the act of procreation. Perhaps the resolution of this puzzle is this answer: reproduction is the true meaning of life. Can’t say yes, can’t say no.

Maybe someday.

How about I turn back to business. The minds of everyone, young and old, don’t turn off. We all wrestle with hard problems. Another example? All right. Things like that usually depend on perspective – up close, or from a distance. The real question is when gazing at them from middle grounds. The compromise of position take on new flavors, the same way unifying the theories of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics appear impossible.

Dichotomies appear everywhere, in every facet of living. Sometimes things seem different, sometimes the same. Why are babies and older men so similar? Aren’t they? They are both frequently bald, have no teeth, and often have a load in their pants. What can I say?

Could it be that nothing changes? Hmm. How about that possibility? If we step back far enough, changing perspective again, there isn’t much difference between one end of the spectrum and the other. It doesn’t matter what the range is either. It can be anything.

If you compare the extreme right-wing with the radical Left-wing in politics, they are both of them way out there, almost photocopies of each other. In that case, the spectrum is more of a circle than a line, and they appear to meet.

Could it be that all extremes meet? What about IQ? Have you ever talked to a real genius? I had a professor in college; the man had several doctoral degrees and could brilliantly speak about anything in his field.

I watched the man walk across campus one day, and he strolled around in every direction, stopping to look at a bush, the sidewalk, and I think the clouds in the sky. He looked like a bonafide idiot. And if you talk to him about something out of his field, he came across almost like a buffoon.

Now let me ask. Have you ever been lucky enough to be around a mental disadvantaged person? They can sit for hours doing a simple task, using their intellect to work out a problem. There is also this: The Dunning Kruger Effect. It is a phenomenon in which smarter people live with the idea that everyone is as intelligent as they. Since they find conclusions easy to come up with, others must too. They have no basis for thinking otherwise. Conversely, people that have impaired or lower intelligence tend to think they are the smartest in the room. We tend to equalize the difference.

So the discord between one end of a continuum and the other might, like liquids, seek their equilibrium. Does the universe self-regulate? Is it its nature to level things? I don’t know.

In my upcoming novel, The Great Zero Sum has themes that address these things. It is action-packed, and there are twists every few chapters. I think you will enjoy it.

If you haven’t picked up my first book, please do. You can find it at:

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Please leave a review. The review doesn’t need to be an epic in itself. Just say you like it, and if you don’t, give an idea why. It only helps everyone — readers, authors, editors, publishers. Everyone.


The Villain of Infamy

Have you considered how important the antagonist is to a story? A good story needs a bad guy, or girl, as developed as the protagonist. It takes continual conflict between the two throughout the story. The villain must have at least as much chutzpah and skill as the hero, maybe more so. Certainly, they cannot have any less.

The evildoer may, or may not, be present at the beginning of the story , but their effects have to be felt early on. The significance of the mischief-maker becomes more and more pronounced as the story builds, especially so in a thriller or suspense.

The rising action oftentimes lasts the greatest part of the story. It is during this time that the tension ratchets up. I’ve seen this part of stories and novels described with ladders, stair steps, an inclined plane, all sorts of visual aids. The bottom line is this, there has to be an increase of stress or tension to pull the story to a more intense place. Most commonly we refer to it as building action, thus the visualization of the ladders, stairs, et cetera.

This is where your inner stress and conflict begin to eat you up, where it’s not unheard of for a moviegoer to scream, “Watch out!” in the middle of the theater, much to their embarrassment.

This rising action is the reason that novels and movies don’t fit in the three-act structure of the theatre. The first act houses the: action before the story, the exposition, the introduction of characters, and the catastrophe that begins the actual story. The second act houses the rising action and the continual complications of the catastrophe. In a poker game, we would call it upping of the ante. The gambit of increased tension. The third act is where the climax resides. After that is the denouement – the final resolution. Look at it like the unraveling of a skein of yarn that is magically made neat again.

The novel and/or movie doesn’t fit neatly in the three-act form. The rising action continues to build to, and in some cases on, the last page, or the last scene. That way the tension can continue until it is almost unbearable.

A very good friend of mine, a college roommate, once attended the movie Wait Until Dark, an excellent thriller made in 1967. He was on a date and later told me he didn’t want to be embarrassed. While standing in the lobby, waiting for the previous showing to end, he heard a lot of screams near the end of the movie. He made a mental note not to scream because he knew it was coming, and he wanted to look studly, macho.

There was indeed a scary part near the end and when he saw it he was prepared and ready. What he did not know was there were two scary parts, and of course, the second event was much more terror-filled. After he was successful the first time, he relaxed. Then came the final horrifying instant for which he was not prepared. He screamed, “Oh shit!” like a sissy, stood up and ran from the theater. Embarrassing.

Well damn, once again I got sidetracked. I’ll dive back in.

The rapscallion’s effects need to be felt throughout the story, or at least until the climax. This doesn’t mean that the villain has to be alive throughout. Hell, the damned blackguard might have died in the beginning during the catastrophe that started the whole thing, but the effects certainly never end there.

Now here’s the crux. By the end of the rising action, the anti-hero’s effect on the story needs to appear much greater than the hero’s ability to counteract those effects. Then, with a sudden twist, preferably as yet unseen, or perhaps seen before but with insignificant effect, the hero gains the upper-hand and corrects everything, bringing things back in line with the proper world.

The villain needs as much attention to developing infamy as does the hero to altruism. In The Sigma Factor, there are several villains in varying degrees, but two antagonists produce more evil than any of the others. Between them, the world crashes around Ol’ Stan.

I hope many of you took advantage of the sale at Smashwords. $1.50 was not a bad price for an e-book. If you bought, thanks. Now for those of you who only like to read page-turning paper books. I’ve finally succeeded in getting The Sigma Factor into paperback. It has taken this long for me to accomplish this since Rebel ePublishing closed their door. It should be ready by this Friday.