Saturday, January 19, 2008

Getting Conked: Part I

Most scholars are familiar with the tragic Greek characters of Sisyphus, Tantalus and Narcissus. Fewer are familiar with Conklinus, whose particular failed act of blind repetition was continually believing that he had come up with a truly original creation.

It started in South Bend, Indiana, when young Conklinus was a 13-year-old adolescent teaching himself how to play guitar. One day in his parents' basement, he invented a riff on the bass string. Later that day, he played it for his older brother: "Ted Nugent!" the elder said. Conklinus had never heard "Hey Baby."

Conklinus tried again, inventing a more complicated riff involving four strings, some of them open, others playing a melody in octaves. "Jimi Hendrix!" the elder exclaimed. Conklinus was then treated to his first listen of "Third Stone from the Sun."

And so the pattern continued. In college, Conklinus traveled the European continent and thought, "You know, the one consistent thing from Dublin to Budapest is the Big Mac. Economists should invent The Big Mac Index as a way to compare currencies." He did nothing about it, but, years later, The Economist did.

After college, Conklinus started writing screenplays. He penned a script based on a friend's idea about a couple giving birth to a baby that could already speak. Conklinus made the baby sound like Shakespeare. The story editor at DreamWorks liked it, until a producer pointed out that the baby character was obviously stolen from The Family Guy. Conklinus had never seen an episode.

Conklinus forged ahead. He wrote his first original screenplay, "Fake Your Own Death, Inc.," in which a madman kidnaps an artist and a priest and fakes their deaths to force society to value their genius and martyrdom. He recently learned of an obscure Mark Twain play called "Is He Dead?" from 1898, in which an entrepreneur conspires with an artist to fake his death and raise the value of his work. The play is now being performed for the first time in history in Manhattan, and today, the Wall Street Journal wrote about "The Death Effect."

Undaunted, Conklinus finally developed an idea for an original dark comedic novel, told entirely in suicide notes, in which it slowly becomes clear that the depressed hero can't even find the time or privacy to commit his final act of despair. At work one day, while directing a photo shoot for a writer about his age, he inquired about the man's recently completed novel. "It's a story told in suicide notes," he said. "It comes out in April."

And the story has recently continued. But more on that later.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, on the bright side, at least you have no illusions about the sparkling originality of your precious ideas... People like that are annoying.

Anonymous said...

Only Conklinus could have written Bee Slipperus.

Marc Conklin said...

Bee Slippers is really just a slowed down version of an obscure Stones tune from Tattoo You called "Heaven," but thanks.

kimberlyoh said...

Remember what we were talking about on Friday over lunch? I thought you were talking about this place: http://www.11visual.com/

and then, I found out that one of my clients just got a new job... at this place: http://www.thinkeleven.com/

It's everywhere!!

Marc Conklin said...

The place I was talking about is actually here: www.takeittoeleven.com.

Rolling 187 Singer said...

That comment about Bee Slippers cuts deep. I thought we were really something special man.

Marc Conklin said...

We were, man, we were. Rolling 187 was totally original, although using "187" because R is the 18th letter of the alphabet and "g" is the 7th... that we stole from Janet Jackson.

fab4fan said...

I'll say it again: you were conked, but by MARK TWAIN. (And to a much lesser degree, Ted Nugent and Jimi Hendrix.) You should be proud of that.

The Wordman said...

by the way, I wrote down a concept in the form of a short story, which later appeared as "Shallow Hal," about 15 years before that movie was released -- too bad I wasn't born one of the Farrelly Brothers.

you're obviously tuned into the Zeitgeist, Marc -- now all you need to do is turn the tables and come up with ideas before the ZG has time to conk you.

or, as the SubGeniuses say,
"pull the wool over your own eyes."