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Agatha Christie and Qanon

Agatha Christie is one of my go-to authors. Her mysteries are often second to none and great adventures to boot, as her characters often travel to exotic places. Most of her stories can be read in one sitting, and most are more than mysteries: they give us her insights into human nature as well as quiet, no frills love stories.

That being said, she has a few misses, at least in my opinion. I don’t care for her Harley Quin stories and some of her stories that are political spy thrillers. However The Man in the Brown Suit is my absolute favorite by her, and as I’m going to read that again soon, I’ll be sure to do a review later on. This week I read Passenger to Frankfurt and though I enjoy politics and spies, I found this story tedious and difficult to follow.

When this happens with an author I like, I often try to finish the book anyway and find something to enjoy about it. Strangely enough, the violent, anarchic world revolution happening in the book has similarities to the violence and anarchy happening in our world today. Christie refers to certain people of wealth being behind violent youth movements that think they are going to change the world, but really are only puppets for those with power who want more of it.

This has a lot to do with what the elusive Q or Qanon shares with followers on the 8-Chan boards. If you don’t know about Q, I highly recommend at least brushing up on it, as for good or bad, this Qanon is influencing a lot of people. We are all hoping the Q team is on the side of good and he/they appear to be working in conjunction with President Trump in order to get information out by bypassing the media. Q posts questions, phrases, codes, essentially, and asks anons (the anonymous users of 8-chan) to research people and their connections to power, trafficking, crime, and the like.

Despite the Q phenomenon being painted like a cult, the point of it seems largely to get people to think for themselves, to do their own research, and really to realize how much they are lied to and how much is purposefully kept hidden from them by the media. It is also has been a great boost for Trump and MAGA supporters, especially those who find following politics via legal moves and C-Span rather tedious and boring. Researching death and sex cults will always be more interesting. In recent weeks, some Q followers have gotten frustrated that there’s been no fantastic arrests of all the evildoers yet or that we aren’t fighting a physical war yet, or something. People are bored again, because politics, research, and the like, it’s not glamorous or exciting. It’s tedious, dogged work, and one often has to take the longer route when the shorter would be far more exciting.

In consequence the Q team, too, seems a bit down. No one’s seeing the amazing things that have already happened–the true exchanges of power happening in the USA and the world–and are only focusing on what hasn’t happened yet, and frankly, what may never happen. The “wheels of justice are slow,” Q says, and they understand the followers’ frustration.

So how does this connect with Passenger to Frankfurt and Agatha Christie? Well, the story is essentially about a group of people, spies, trying to stop a violent world movement. It is the same thing, old rich people stirring up the young. The young think they are fighting for good and that their violent overthrowing of everything will eventually bring about some kind of utopia. We have seen this in countless revolutions throughout the ages, but it is only the rich and powerful who win in these movements, for they are safe from the violence and get away with instigating crimes while the young get batoned, tear gassed, and arrested. And the utopia never comes, because it’s all about more power or new power for certain people.

At one point in the story, someone draws a diagram showing how so many things are connected or controlled by the same rich people, the same 13 families or Illuminati of conspiracy yore: finance, armament, art, the drug trade, the sex trade, slavery etc. Q research has shown many that the same groups of people (think George Soros) are pulling the strings behind, well, almost everything. It’s unsettling to find that certain people have so much power. Who do they think they are? That’s the question. Do they think they are gods or what?

Christie envisions one such person as a very old, fat woman who has every indulgence and only surrounds herself with beautiful young people all eager for the revolution. This revolution is connected largely to Hitler of WW2 fame, and its hinted that these people are yet again trying to create a “pure” human race using a supposed descendant of Adolf. Today, where anyone who doesn’t agree with anyone else is labeled as a “Nazi” or the next “Hitler,” placing him on a pedestal as the ultimate evil yet again is, well, tedious. Hitler wasn’t the first to start this kind of thing or try to rule the world, and he wasn’t even the most successful. Yet, Christie uses him, because he’s an easily identifiable evil, or was, to most people in 1970.

I saw this revolution stuff, too, in my college years. I graduated in 2000 and I can tell you my classmates were as much in love with Mao and Che Guevara as students probably are today. No eyes were batted at these people being violent mass murderers; it was enough they were not American, or against America, or against being just boring vanilla or something. That was the thing, then, and probably still is today. The young are taught that being peaceful and having a happy family, that these things are all lies of some kind because of course some families and some people are unhappy, so therefore it’s wrong for anyone else to be happy or normal or something. We see this in the LGBTQ movement, where the normal romantic loves between a man and woman are pushed aside in pursuit of being unique or troubled in some way. Why is youth so tempted by this stuff? It’s first of all a desire to fit in with one’s peers, the exact opposite of what’s professed, and also the wanting to do something special. And it is a desire for a world with no bad outcomes, no bad choices, and no bad consequences. (But it’s a lie, and as a result so many of these young people commit suicide because they know it’s a lie and they’re just waiting for someone to chastise them with the truth and no one does. It’s like seeing a brother hit his sister and the child knows he’s doing wrong, but the parents always say it’s good, what he’s doing is good. Nothing wrong, no wrong choices, and after awhile the child can’t take it anymore because he knows it’s wrong what he’s doing. It’s written on his heart. It’s written on all of our hearts.)

The trouble with the “heaven on earth” idea is that we are all humans who have only lived on earth. We don’t know what heaven is, not really, and if we are marching to another’s drum, we are trying to implement their version of a heaven, not actually Heaven. Human nature also can’t be controlled completely by other humans, and if it can, the loss of freedom would be great. We’ll stab you in the back as much as we’ll love you, and so utopian movements fail as people start to grab power only for themselves or lose faith in the movement.

Near the end of the story, Christie brings up this Benvo project or benevolence project, basically a scientific experiment to make people stop being violent and desire only other people’s good. Normal benevolence is a great thing, this would be a nightmare. By this point in the story, I honestly wasn’t sure if these people were the good guys or the bad guys at this point. They wanted to stop the violent movements by drugging people into being good, no, not being good, making them have no desires but to please others. Ella Enchanted, anyone? It would be the worst kind of slavery! Basically, the conclusion is that people who want to rule the world for whatever reason are ultimately not be trusted. They come to see themselves as gods and other people as ants. Like Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment, they think of themselves all as great Napoleons, too smart to be chained by any laws whatsoever. And they will eagerly commit murder or lobotomies for the sake of their future “heaven on earth.”

What does that have to do with Q? Well, we want to believe the Q team is the good guys, and I do hope they are, but the reality is that they may be, too, envisioning a world that can only succeed with careful control over everyone and everything. If the “swamp” is drained, if all corruption stamped out, and all the criminals brought to justice, even then, even then, new people will be waiting at the gates to seize power. The peace and prosperity will only be until the corruption and revolutions start again. Q says to “trust the plan” and says the followers are watching things unfold almost like a movie. It’s mostly good and it’s mostly exciting, but the truth is that it’s not a movie, it’s real life. And the truth is, all the new information people have unearthed can be just as useless as it can be useful. The strides made are largely political moves that bore the young to tears. Talk about FISA and people’s eyes glaze over (as one example).

This is not to dampen the efforts of Q, Trump, or MAGA, but this all is about exchanging the old guard of power into a new guard, hopefully better than the last, but still never quite the “power for the people” that’s always promised. We can have anarchy or we can have rulers, and anarchy only leads to stricter rulers. Peace, prosperity, freedom. These are the goals, and can only be reached for the average person by having a good strong man in power, and good, strong men are rare, rarer still if they don’t get corrupted by being in power.

The real good in the world is found in everyday life, in normalcy, in living in the truth. And so Christie’s book ends with the promise of a wedding, the man has gotten his girl, their naughty little bridesmaid says her prayers and seems back on the straight and narrow, and the world is whole again, for a time. As a Christian I know without God, we are nothing, that a world without Him would be hell. Still, it’s tempting to look to other people, like Trump, as someone who can save us from ourselves, but he’s not a savior, he’s breaking the media’s hold on us, and that’s no small thing. He’s showing us how hollow the promises of our congressmen are, and that’s no small thing. He’s showing us that good has to be fought for, and that’s a big thing, perhaps the biggest thing. We can’t have utopia, but we may be able to live in peace for a time, and this may mean embracing nationalism and discarding the globalism that is only putting the poorest of us in stricter chains.

The world is bad enough already, Q says, but there are those rich and powerful who are only fostering more hurt, manufacturing more war, and they should be relieved of their power for the sake of everyone. The Clinton’s should be in jail, shouldn’t they? It’s best to think of things in those terms, I think: Crimes and punishments for them. It does no good to dream on about utopias, Libertarian or otherwise. There may be no mass arrests or martial law, but why would we want either, really? It’s enough if there’s one significant arrest and we avoid martial law and the good strong man becoming the bad strong man. It’s good enough if we avoid being experimented on and made to love being good or love the state, like in 1984. Even God doesn’t force us to be good, even God doesn’t force us to believe in Him.

Sigh. One tries to be an insightful writer, telling truths no one else seems to get or something, but it’s all like a lecture and tedious and I got sort of bored writing it all out, just as I got bored with whatever dear Agatha was trying to say in her story. The truly profound is elusive. Politics are politics. Power is power. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Passenger to Frankfurt like Qanon, is only remarkable because today we have been so very, very steeped in lies. In a climate where the truth is mostly apparent, i.e. common sense, these kinds of stories and devices wouldn’t be needed. But humans tend to lie and be illogical, so we’ll see these stories pop up time and again to remind us we are being manipulated. We are being manipulated, but aside from knowing the truth, there’s not much the average person can do. That’s the lesson. At most one can share the truth with other people. As a Christian, this makes sense to me, for Christianity is much the same: Here is the way things are. Here is Jesus, the way to salvation. You can believe in Him or not. That’s about it. But that’s everything! Because believing in Jesus gives us the confidence to go out and do good and have that power of positive thinking that Trump was raised on. So in Christ’s name, we can have the grand plans, the grand stories, and also the everyday ones. We can have all the cake and eat it too, but that Heaven will not be on this broken earth.

Ok, there I go again. One tries to say something wise and it just ends up sounding like a lecture. Anyway, Passenger to Frankfurt strangely connects with the Q movement, if only in the sense that it tries to pull back the curtain, so show the people pulling the strings. Things are more interconnected than we’d like to believe. People have a staggering amount of power and wealth and hide it well. These are things to be aware of. Conspiracy theories should be researched, not scoffed at. Great wrongs are often righted in the world behind the scenes, sometimes with spies and crazy plans and people who will forever have to be anonymous. They are not important, but what they are doing is.

A Rose by Any Other Name: A Rant on Titles

It’s like people are determined to ruin my childhood or something. Okay, okay, drama aside, let me explain. The books, the books that defined my teenage years for me were, okay, yes, the Anne of Green Gables series, and, yes, Little House on the Prairie, and various teen romance series that were probably too steamy for me to be reading, and Robin Cook thrillers, and Isaac Asimov sci-fi extravaganzas… but I digress. Where was I? The series that I loved, one of those that almost clammer for a screen adaptation, but resolve themselves to staying literature only, was The Kingdom series by Cynthia Voigt.

What I loved about the series was mostly the second book, On Fortune’s Wheel, which is terribly romantic, but the third book, The Wings of a Falcon ended up ultimately being my favorite as I got older. Something about two friends making it through everything…it just sticks with me to this day. The first book is Jackaroo, the plot of which at first seems like a knockoff of Robin Hood. And it is, sort of, but the world of The Kingdom, quiet, contemplative, and somewhat melancholy, draws you in. The series just has this rare quality of making the reader feel like you are there. You are going through this, too. This quality is likely why Voigt is such a successful writer of young adult stories.

Anyway, I learned today, just in looking up the series to see if I wanted to buy newer copies, that um, they’ve changed the titles. All of them. Well, the fourth book, Elske, is now The Tale of Elske, and it’s my least favorite of the series, so that one didn’t disappoint me too much.  But the others! I just can’t believe it! Jackaroo, On Fortune’s Wheel, and The Wings of a Falcon have all been changed to The Tale of Gwyn, The Tale of Birle, and The Tale of Oriel. Three wonderful, intriguing titles exchanged for stupidly bland titles that fail to reflect the fact that The Kingdom books, although set in the same world, aren’t sequels, aren’t part of a large, overarching quest or plot, and are each really their own stories almost entirely. It’s almost as stupid as changing D.M. Cornish’s awesome series title Monster Blood Tattoo into Tales from the Half-Continent.

Why do publishers or authors or whoever do this? Blander titles are supposed to sell more books? Really? It would be like me changing my series, Trolls for Dust, to Vale Studios. Boring! Now, if they’d changed them to more interesting titles, I would maybe be on board, but this… Well, my childhood is long over, anyway, and one can’t go back, not really. My memories of those happy reading days will have to suffice. I will treasure my dog-eared original titles and refuse to replace them unless they become absolutely unreadable due to wear and tear.

This winter I want to read the entire series again and go through for you what I love about it and why you or your teenagers might like it too. They will be the same stories, despite the names being changed, but I disagree with Juliet. Names of things matter. Names show identity, they show who you belong to, who loves you, sometimes who hates you. Names can be blessings or curses, beatifying or insulting, and changing a book’s title is no small thing, just like changing one’s own name is no small thing. It is a transformation no matter how one looks at it. The object or person is simply different after. Most of the time, I hope, for the better, but this required a rant because the original titles are infinitely more suitable for the series, and the new titles woefully inadequate. And don’t even get me started on the new covers.

The Kingdom

The covers and titles I grew up with.

A World in Shadows

Maybe it’s all the rain we had today, or the fact that I saw a–double rainbow!!–but I am feeling like writing a poem, only I haven’t written a poem in years. A bulb is out in my favorite lamp that I got from a dear friend and the shadows it casts on the ceiling are perfect for writing a poem, probably what should an epic one, but I can’t seem to find the right words.

lamp shadows

Galaxies, creation, the dance of the stars, the dance of romance.  It’s all in there.  Casablanca and great old movies are in there, as well as The Great Gatsby, Orson Welles, and drops of Jupiter.  I am writing a non-poem, poem here.  Darkness and light.  Dripping candles. Greek columns of tragedy, and just the sense of a world apart from our present one. What stories lie in shadows on the wall!  I could stare at it forever and never figure out the tale, because the tale is in my heart tucked away somewhere for safekeeping.

Last notecard for “The Stolen Necklace” tomorrow. I’m sad to see the story end. The desire was very strong to just end it with one word from Lord Dovecoat, and I could have, but I thought it best to end how it began, with Lady Tolliver.  She is a bit silly, but really not a bad sort after all.

–P. Beldona

The Legend of Cambria: Ad Review

Sometimes one surfs the internet and just comes across something so random yet so amazing that one has to share. I live in Minnesota and we have a great company here called Cambria that makes kitchen countertops and the like. I’ve never visited one of their stores, but their buildings are always impressive and the main campus off of Hwy 169 in LeSueur always has impressive Christmas lights.

Please note that although I think Cambria is an awesome company, this is not an ad for them and I am not affiliated with them, nor have I had the opportunity to work with them. One kind of needs a house or office in which to purchase and install countertops.

Anyway, I was looking at their website today, which is cambriausa.com. On it, they have this movie called The Legend of Cambria and I thought, oh it’s a fun little ad based on medieval legends or something, and then I started to watch it and realized, A) it’s actually about 40+ minutes long, and B) is amazing in its production quality. I literally could not keep my mouth from hanging open. The scenery itself just makes one want to jump into the screen. It is the fantasy lover’s fantasy world.

The story is told in voiceover and has a Lord of the Rings appeal to it. There was a lot of magical elements thrown in that I didn’t really get, but they looked cool, and I’m thinking the plot’s based off of a Welsh legend of some kind, but will have to do more research to find that out for sure.

The Legend of Cambria is advertising, really long advertising that goes beyond being just an ad. It talks heavily about the fight of good versus evil, in a more pagan sort of way, but it makes one think: What’s really important? Just the thought of how much money and work went into producing it is mind boggling. Since I don’t really watch the Oscars anymore, I didn’t know they actually played this at the Oscars and Colin Farrell is the narrator.

I’m just still reeling and thinking, “It’s just a commercial, an ad.” Also, in considering my book series, a stunt like this is something that Sandra Vale of Vale Studios in Trolls for Dust would try to pull off. In thinking of future advertising endeavors for my series, The Legend of Cambria will definitely stick in my mind. You can also watch it on YouTube, and you’ll notice in the comments that people are thinking this is an actual series. Now that’s a compliment of the highest order. That’s my ultimate goal for Trolls for Dust, that it be so good that people would wish it was an actual TV show.

Alright, back to my whittling away at my next fairy tale story and TfD Season 3. Plan to have notecard #9 out for “The Stolen Necklace” tomorrow, but the ideas have to simmer a bit tonight. Happy Friday!

Smoke

The past few days have been a little off health wise, just due to all the smoke coming down from the fires in Canada. I pray they are able to put out the fires soon. If the air quality is this bad in southern Minnesota, I can’t even imagine what it’s like up in British Colombia. Makes me think of Boromir’s speech about Mordor in the Lord of the Rings movies: “The very air you breathe is a poisonous fume.”

So didn’t get a lot of writing done. Print edition for TfD2 is almost ready, just had to fix a few minor issues, and I’m mulling over ideas for the end of the Stolen Necklace, and I have Wednesday set aside to get a least a couple more notecards out for that.

Other things.  Have you heard of Qanon? It is of course written off as a conspiracy theory, but what it really is, is someone (possibly connected with the military and/or Trump admin) getting a whole bunch of people to research stuff online. I just learned about it recently and it’s fascinating, and if true, better than any Hollywood movie or bestselling novel.  It’s just all crazy enough to be true, mostly because evil is really that evil and also really that stupid. Evil doesn’t tend to play the long game. As Q says, “all for a LARP?” (Live Action Role Play). Answer: Don’t count on it. Where’s there’s smoke, there’s fire.

One of the few things worth watching on Netflix these days is the movie adaptation of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Peel Society. Such a perfectly odd title and both a book and now movie that I’ve recommended to so, so many family and friends. The book’s a little hard to read as most books written in letters are, and the movie was able to shine because they cut down a lot on the letter reading and writing and focused on the characters and plot, making a lot easier to follow.

The setting was great, and if they actually filmed on Guernsey island, what a beautiful, quaint, little place! Should be tourist central.

Only a couple criticisms about the movie: I thought the ending kiss was awkward, but maybe I’m too used to  K-drama kisses now, which are different. The second thing, I would have cast Matthew Goode as the pig farmer.

Goode was the perfect literary agent, Sidney, but he’s massively talented and it just seemed he was wasted in such a small role, especially since he has great onscreen presence, a presence that would have given the movie an anchor that it sorely needed. Sometimes films need a strong onscreen presence for the other actors to rally around and/or contrast their own characters’ presences to, kind of like how all of the planets are situated in certain ways around the sun.

Other than that, the movie was great and a joy to watch. We often forget how hard war really is on just day to day living. You can’t get certain foods, may not be allowed to meet together, and the ground is always shifting (literarily and figuratively) beneath you. It’s one of those maybe rare times when the things that matter most, matter most.

Trolls for Dust, Season 2 avail. for preorder.

TFD FinalTfD2 is finally available for preorder with print version soon to follow. And it’s got the most fantastic cover. 🙂  I tell ya, it’s amazing how much a space can affect things when doing a book layout. Some of my chapter titles weren’t being picked up properly when converting to e-pub and all due to a space!

Next week I plan to continue the notecard story, The Stolen Necklace, so that will be fun, and although I really, really want to get chugging away at TfD3 (and 4), I have this semi-Cinderella tale I want to finish first.  More on that when publication time comes.

Also,  a dear friend of mine who is also a self-publisher has the beginning of a great series on sale called Blood of the Eohim. Check it out, especially if you are an animal lover, because it has animals with super powers in it! I’m not so into animals, but I love how you just know where you stand with them right away, especially dogs. They either love you or want to rip your throat out.

Okay, back to layout and my slow devouring of War and Peace (I am almost to page 500 and really enjoying Tolstoy as a writer.)

As Kay Shree of the Starry-Eyed Press would say: “Peace and Dandelions!” –P. Beldona

June random thoughts

Isn’t it kind of bizarre that a very minor crash is enough to “total” a car? Maybe it’s just because I drive a really old car, but last year I was hit in a roundabout, so we were both going less than 20mph. Think how much we pay for cars, even used ones, and so many accidents and problems often cost a great percentage of what the car is worth to fix. People often complain how a health crisis can throw a family into poverty due to the high costs, well, so can a car crisis. For some, cars are considered a luxury, but in America in most places you really need them to get around. On the flip side, it’s can be a good thing that a minor accident can do a lot of damage, because it probably incentivizes people to drive safer as a whole. If we had indestructible bumper cars, it could mean more would recklessly drive, as a minor hit wouldn’t hurt them or the car.

Notecard story: Planning on getting another card out this weekend sometime. So far it has been a fun and challenging writing exercise and I’m thinking there’s potential homemade Christmas presents in this idea.

Priest slapping baby at baptism video. Not sure how viral this video is, or if you’ve seen it, but it is an amazing example of how parents and especially fathers are the main protectors of their kids. As the mom struggles even against a very old man, to get her baby away from him, it is the father’s physical strength that ultimately succeeds in the getting the kid away. As we recently had Father’s Day, it’s a great example showing how the fact that fathers are both willing and able to protect the ones they love is the primary reason they are needed. Really don’t know what was up with the priest, senility, or as some cry, demon possession of some kind, but it’s certainly scary to watch, especially because in a church and at a baptism that kind of violence is the last thing expected.

Trolls for Dust, Season Two: Revisions and proofreading are underway, and I hope to be able to share the awesome cover soon. I am really excited about this story and I am getting to reveal the longer arc of the series. In rereading Season One, it’s been fun to see that I really like some parts, some maybe could use work, but that as a book as a whole it is a good jumping off point for where Seasons 2, 3, and 4 are going. At first I thought the series would end up being a trilogy, but there is so much going on and so much material that I really want and need to do four books. Hopefully, each book won’t take four years to write, but I think as I get better at writing and storytelling and the whole process, things will come faster and faster over time.

Kid crisis/border crisis: Many Trump supports say that the biggest impact of his presidency is going to be to harshly deal with trafficking, especially child trafficking and abuse. And there’s been thousands and thousands of pedophile and trafficking rings busted all over the world since he’s taken office. The current outcry with kids being held at the US border is a part of this. Many of these children are not with their parents, but with traffickers and abusers. So, it’s just going to be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Christian apologetics: Attended a conference for that this week and just found it so crazy that like in other fields, politics, medicine, law, etc., religion is the same. People are taught lies and not shown the facts that are available. There’s so much out there indicating the Bible is true, but what is taught in many places is this lie that there is no evidence at all that the Bible is true, and people grow up believing it. Believing in the Bible and Jesus as one’s Savior from sin is a work of the Holy Spirit and of faith, but if that is indeed the truth (and I believe it is), then it makes sense that there would be some amount of actual evidence indicating that it is the truth. It’s actually similar to the whole vaccine topic, because people often hold a different, higher standard for evidence for those two things above and beyond what in regarding other topics and fields they would accept as sufficient evidence. It’s fascinating and it really hit home to me that what evidence is accepted by the individual ultimately says more about the individual than the subject under consideration. We have a harder time with the facts and insist on more evidence when something does not confirm what we already believe, but readily accept almost any evidence that supports our current beliefs. This way of thinking is our nature and very hard to overcome to truly look at and judge things objectively.

–P. Beldona