First of all, I have to acknowledge that the title I came up with for this article is now wholly inaccurate. When Mykola originally made the request (assignment? demand?), it was almost exactly one year to the day upon my joining Newsvine, and certainly excellent timing for a retrospective.
Here we are, though, one month later, and the cursed retrospective is only just now being released from its cage, shaking the guano from its scaly feet, cocking a rheumy eye at the pale late-afternoon sun and preparing to let out a croak of something approaching...triumph? Resignation? Ritalin withdrawal?
Why on earth could that be? Well, it's time for me to confess my dirty little secret: I hate to write. I find it easier to crap broken glass than to disgorge anything even resembling my inner thoughts onto a piece of paper (or the cathode ray equivalent). Worse, the fact that I do find it so painful torments me further so that on top of everything else, I get writer's block.
Over the years, though, I've managed to make my living as an ink-stained wretch off and on. The only way I've gotten through it is by allowing the pressure of a looming deadline to build up enough that it burbles to the surface in a rush, overwhelming the paralysis that fear of writing induces. Hell, I normally don't even touch the keyboard until there's less than 8 hours remaining before terminal editorial sanctions begin.
And now for the truly demented, sado-masochistic, seventh-circle-of-hell part...y'know where I said earlier that I hate to write? Well, that's true. But the other part of it is that I absolutely have to write. Even on Newsvine, when I decide to take a break from writing, let my brain idle at the curb and just seed for a while, after about 10 or 15 seeds, I feel a reptilian presence uncoiling itself from my basal ganglia; an insistent, pulsating boom boom boom of pressure that demands release or it is CERTAIN to cause MY HEAD to.........EXPLODE!
And then I write something and all is well.
Yeah, I know it doesn't sound healthy. But I'm comforted by the fact that a lot of writers tell me they feel exactly the same way. Twisted bunch, ain't we?
In a lot of respects, Newsvine has been something of an antidote to this syndrome. I've said this often, and on a number of different threads, but Newsvine affords me the freedom to write about whatever I want, without the tyranny of the assignment editor, or the cruel subjugation of the freelance query letter. It's the closest thing to stress-free writing I've ever known.
So along comes Myk. . . and. . . ASSIGNS me something! Arrrrggggghhhhh! (This is why I am going along with Djehuty's suggestion that this article be blessed with the 'ok-myk-you-bastard' tag.)
So here goes (after perambulating through that rambling preamble); my Newsvine retrospective covering 365 days (plus or minus 30), in which Synthesis attempts not only to hold forth on some of his favourite articles (*weak moans from the cellar* "not all of them, oh please God, not that . . ." ), but to perhaps provide some insight into what was going on in his pointy little head at the time.
Around the time I joined the 'Vine, I was also contributing to a little newspaper on the north shore of Lake Erie called The Lake Erie Beacon, so two of my earliest articles, Greens Weigh in on the Battle of the Great Lakes and Does a Sea Monster Haunt Lake Erie's Shores, were outgrowths of material I was working on elsewhere. The latter was, I believe what got me invited to my first Newsvine group, the Cryptozoology group (thanx, Stevetherobot!), to which I have enjoyed contributing many a seed.
Another of my passions has to do with the birth of modern humans and the migrations of early man. The time from about 20,000 BC up until the Bronze Age is so shrouded in preliterate question marks that it fascinates me to no end. It's as if, absent written records, we have to infer everything from the most ephemeral of records: buried ruins, folk tales and archtypes, fossil records, ice cores and tree rings. The fog is so thick that all the disciplines of science need to be brought to bear in an attempt to shed a little light on our species' earliest days. This has led me to the conclusion that a synthesis of scientific methods (rather than chauvinistic insistence on the primacy of one method over another) is the true path (and giving me, in the process, my Newsvine screen name). Some of my favourite articles on this topic have included: New Bering Strait Discoveries May Finally Smash Clovis Barrier, Mormons in the New World 600 BC: Fact or Fiction, Was Megalithic Culture Earth's First Empire?, Did Phoenicians Discover the New World?, and Free the Celtic Homeland.
Some of my theories about the human journey remain decidedly fringe. In order to have a home for publishing some of these half-developed thoughts and musings, I created the Hall of Mirrors group, dedicated to the full spectrum of conspiracy theories in general, and in particular, to the concept of the grand unified conspiracy theory in which all conspiracy theories can peacefully co-exist. Some of the articles that have found a home in Hall of Mirrors include Unlucky Friday the 13th, Freemasons Pay Respects to Brother Gerald Ford Yale Alumnus Nathan Hale: Proto-Spook, my two-part profile of Egyptologist Dr Zahi Hawass, my recently much-neglected multi-part Crypto-History series, The Occult Roots of Nazi Power, the two-part Serpent Cults article, and my more recent articles on Bohemian Grove, CIA shell companies, the North American Union and ubiquitous surveillance.
I will skip over my boring attempts at business writing, my one shot at a recipe (Lauhal, how did those bourbon sours ever work out for you, by the way. . . ?) and my abortive stab at a weekly trivia column, and move on to my other two passions, world affairs and doing stuff with ropes, in just a smidge. But before I do that, I want to mention in passing a few of my more uncategorizable efforts, just because they turned out to be kind of fun.
My article on the Top Ten Sci-Fi Movies of All Time was my first Newsvine article to attract significant numbers of votes or comments, and I was surprised at the time by how thoroughly that degree of feedback got me hooked on the site. After that article, I was well hooked on the chronic, er. . . the 'Vine. . . and was bound and determined to repeat that success (something that didn't happen for ages . . . ). Some of the other oddball articles I experimented with were: a multi-part series on boomer nostalgia, Top Ten Vintage Rides, Pussycat Dolls: Chicks With Tricks?, Favourite Watering Holes, Top Ten Hot Canadian Chicks (which I'm proud to say directly inspired the Hottest Newsviner Contest). Then, in a fit of loathing at my whore-itude, I wrote the self-excoriating confessional, I Feel Dirty.
Before I run out of gas (and before you run out of patience. . . *crickets chirping*. . . ), allow me to rhyme off a few more favorites, first from the underappreciated Vertical Reality group: Caving in the TAG Karst ; Risk Sports: Experience vs Loved Ones ; A Moderate Scramble.
And from the international affairs files:
Iraq War and Security Contractors ; U.S. Soldier Abductions ; Waiting for the Hidden Imam ; U.S. Plan to Make Canada it's Energy B*tch ; Excommunicated? Join the Club! ; Is George Bush a Chi-Com Sleeper? ; Hot Lead and Hotter Chicks and We Stand on Guard for Thee, Afghanistan.
Jesus. I feel dirty again after having waded through that long and vile screed of self-promotion. Now I know what Paris Hilton goes through daily. But hopefully, this is something along the lines of what Mykola was looking for (was it, Myk?) in a one-year retrospective. . .
As I re-read what I've written here, my conclusion is that it's a fair (if overly detailed) look back at what I've written -- and been excited about -- over the last year: experiments, failures, modest successes and even one or two articles I'm really quite proud of.
What's not represented are the wonderful friends I've made, and the insight, wisdom and inspiration I've received from all of you, both in your articles and in your comments. But going down that path would render invalid the 'Attention Whores' tag I was so pleased to be able to use with this article (not to mention choking me up a little), so I'd best leave that for another article.
That wasn't so bad, was it? See you all here same time next year. . .