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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Left Behind: Chapter 8, Part 1

Welcome back ladies and gentlemen to our regular feature on Left Behind, the book that will convince you that righteousness and talent with the pen apparently don't go together. Last time we insulted cabbies and inquired into work schedules. What happens this week? Well, I don't want to spoil it, but you should get your tinfoil hat ready.

As always we have a comment of the week. This week the prize goes to Mister Troll, who just barely took the lead in a very competitive group of comments with this winner:

I wanted to start using "Ozark!" as an expletive, but I haven't managed to find an appropriate moment yet.

Just give it time, the perfect moment is coming, I can feel it! I'd also like to give a special honorary mention to the Soc Shriners, some of whom are using their present state of obscurity to follow along (See the ninth question). Truly, folks, I'm touched. At the same time, did you really HAVE to spend money on a copy of this crap? I can't help but feel responsible and no amount of showering can get that kind of stain clean, you know? In any case, keep at it folks, because I'm quite confident the best is yet to come!

And with that, let's begin! As always, page/line numbers are in bold, quotes from the book are in block quotes, my commentary is in regular print, and you can navigate the whole series with the provided tag.


Dramatis Personae

In ascending order of cholesterol level...

Rayford Steele: Airline captain. Husband of Irene Steele. Possible former gay porn star. Ditherer. No longer attracted to Hattie. Bad father. Cries a lot.

Irene Steele: Wife of Rayford Steele. Born-again Christian. Not perfect, just forgiven. Reader of marriage books. Cleans obsessively. Likes egg in her coffee. Bakes really silly cookies. Likes butter churns.

Cameron "Buck" Williams: Reporter. Known for "bucking tradition and authority." Terrible Excellent writer. Spiritually attuned. Electronics wiz. Fast typist. Clumsy on slides. Travels a lot. Graduated from Princeton. Human alarm clock.

Hattie Durham: Flight attendant. Toucher. Hottie. Hysterical female type. Girl power devotee. Unhealthily thin. Twenty-seven years old. Blonde.

Chris Smith: Airline co-pilot. Worked with Rayford Steele. Father of two. Husband. Killed himself.

Chloe Steele: Daughter of Rayford Steele. Student at Stanford.

Chaim Rosenzweig: Israeli chemist. Kinda freaky. Friend of Buck's.

Steve Plank: Buck's boss at Global Weekly. Not the sharpest tool in the shed.

Nicolae Carpathia: Businessman. Romanian Senator. Romanian President. Antichrist. Favors arms reductions.

Raymie Steele: Son of Rayford Steele. Taken in the rapture.

Dirk Burton: English guy Buck knows. Graduated from Princeton. Kinda gullible.

Joshua Todd-Cothran: English finance guy.

Jonathon Stonagal: American ultra-rich dude. Involved in international monetary cabal.

Marge Potter: Steve Planck's secretary. Matronly.

Lucinda Washington: Fiftyish black woman. Raptured.

Ken Ritz: Pilot. Profiteering on the rapture. Actually quite polite. Fired for being too careful. Believes in aliens.


Chapter 8: In which we talk about Romanian politics, flesh out (sort of) a conspiracy theory, Ray flaggelates himself because Saint Irene was too good for him, there's an unfunny joke, and we all talk about nothing on the phone for a long time.

Page 135- Line Tapioca:

No quote because nothing interesting is said but, basically, we open this chapter with Bucky talking to Steve Planck about this and that. Eventually, however, they circle around to the subject of Carpathia, the antichrist and all around nice evil guy. Particularly, they discuss the fact that Carpathia was just "elected" President of Romania.

Page 136- Line 11-12:
"Didn't they just elect a leader, what, eighteen months ago?" Buck said

Buck Williams- secret agent reporter and closet Romanian political wonk. Seriously, is there anything he can't do? Anyway, we discuss this turn of events for a while and then Buck wonders how Carpathia could come from nowhere to become president of his country, which provokes this exchange...

Page 137- Line 4-11:
"He [Carpathia] didn't exactly come from nowhere. His businesses were built on Stonagal financing. And Carpathia has been a disarmament crusader, very popular with his colleagues and the people." [Steve observed]

"But disarmament doesn't fit with Stonagal. Isn't he a closet hawk?" [Buck asked]

Planck nodded.

"So there are mysteries."

Well, yes, mysteries, but suspicion and mystery doesn't equal squat except... you know... suspicion and mystery. For the record, however, if I were a "closet hawk" (and not very deep in the closet if a quasi-idiot like Bucky realizes it) wouldn't I want foreign nations to disarm? I mean, hell, it's a lot easier to conquer countries that can't shoot back. On the other hand, if I'm super-rich because I sell arms, disarmament is obviously a bad thing, but I'm not sure that someone whose fortune is built on weapons can be described as a closet hawk. More like a, "Right there out in the open for everyone to see hawk". Then again, maybe Stonagal wanted Carpathia to be his beard? Awwww! Thats's so sweet! Anyway, ever the suspicious one, Buck proceeds to ask if Carpathia got the presidency by killing the previous president.

Page 137- Line 23-28:
"Interesting you should say that, because the only wrinkle in Carpathia's history are some rumors that he was ruthless with his business competition years ago." [Planck commented]

"How ruthless?" [Buck asked]

"People took dirt naps."

"Ooh, Steve, you talk just like a mobster."

Okay, several things: (1) as we all know, the rumors about the rich and powerful are invariably true, no matter how outlandish, (2) I'm actually pleased that Steve is talking like a mobster- it makes a nice break from all the cowboys and Dickensian wannabees that we've been hacking our way through with a machete for the past seven chapters. Regardless, the next two pages are spent arguing over whether or not Buck and Planck should be interested in Carpathia. Buck argues in the affirmative, based on the fact that it's improbable that Carpathia would just suddenly become president. Planck argues in the negative because Carpathia is still only president of Romania which is, to paraphrase, a totally chickenshit country that nobody cares about. We then run into a discussion about how it's suspicious that Stonagal got Carpathia a gig speaking at the UN. Planck, however, doesn't think this is odd since Stonagal is such a savvy political animal.

Page 139- Line 1-3:
"So what? He [Stonagal] knows how to play the game. He reminds me of old Joe Kennedy or one of the Rockefellers, all right? What's your point?" [Planck exclaimed]

I wonder how random these choices of exemplars actually were. I'd wager the authors are Republican and the Kennedy family are about as prominent an example of a Democratic political dynasty we have. As for Rockefeller, Nelson Rockefeller was not only a pragmatist he also gave his name to the Rockefeller Republicans, who were moderate to liberal Republicans. Actually, that doesn't fully cover it: I'm fairly sure that the modern Democratic party is- more or less- made up of Rockefeller Republicans. So, in short, I think the authors are deliberately implying that the corrupt super-wealthy dude who catapults the antichrist to power is most similar to prominent Democratic-esque politicians. Try to suppress your shock. You might suggest that I'm reading too much into the text but, really, you'd be wrong. Whatever, from there we move on to Steve telling Buck about his new assignment, which you may recall from chapter 3 (roughly page 55 to the end of the chapter). The only difference is that, if anything, the whole thing sounds dumber now.

Page 140- Line 10-12:
"You are short on sleep, aren't you, Buck? This is why I'm still your boss. Don't you get it? Yes, I want coordination and I want a well-written piece." [Planck said]

Well, best give up on Buck, then.

Page 140- Line 12-16:
"But think about it. This gives you [Buck] automatic entree to all these dignitaries. We're talking Jewish Nationalist leaders interested in one world government-"

"Unlikely and hardly compelling." [Buck retorted]

Ironically, Buck just sumarized this whole damned book.

Page 140- Line 17-19:
"-Orthodox Jews from all over the world looking at rebuilding the temple or some such-" [Planck continued]

"I'm being overrun by Jews."

About the only response to that is an uncomfortable silence. Every time you think this book can't get worse, they find a way. Moving on, I'm fairly sure that "rebuilding the temple" would also involve "demolishing the dome of the rock," which I suspect would start some serious shit in the middle east. But, hey, by all means!

Page 140- Line 20-30:
"-international monetarists setting the stage for one world currency-"

"Also unlikely." [Buck sighed]

Forgetting, of course, that a few days earlier lots of people disappeared into thin air, minus their clothes, in a move that most commentators are calling "unlikely". What does the rapture have to do with a one-world currency? Nothing, really, but damned if the authors aren't convinced that they're related.

Page 140- Line 23-30:
"But this will let you keep an eye on your favorite power broker-"

"Stonagal." [Buck added for the dim readers]

"Right, and heads of various religious groups looking to cooperate internationally."

"Bore me to death, why don't you? These people are discussing impossibilities. Since when have religious groups been able to get along?"

And, once more, we remember why Buck is a failure as a journalist. See, he's such a hotshot that he knows that conflict, controversy, and argument just don't sell. That's why television and print media are filled with calm, reasonable discussion of the issues that always ends in agreement and harmony. Duh. Anyway, Buck eventually accepts that he's taking a dumbass job covering a bunch of stories that prominently feature Jews, and man does he seem excited about it. Regardless, we babble for another page or so, get a hint that maybe Dirk Burton- international monetary conspiracy theorist and tinfoil haberdasher extraordinaire- was taken in the rapture, and Buck gets home to his lonely apartment.

And that, believe it or not, finishes the first half of Chapter 8. If that seemed quick... well... that's because the chapter is only fifteen damned pages long. I'd keep going, but we start next time with Rayford, and he's drowning in his usual fetid stink of failure. So, I guess I just decided to end this episode on a high note. In any case, come back next week when Rayford once more impresses us with what an ass he is. So, you know, more of what we got in the last seven chapters. And, if that doesn't appeal, take heart! Because when we get to Chapter 9 we're going to be treated to one of the only "serious" discussions of theology in the entire book, and believe me when I tell you that it is absolutely hysterical.

Buckle up, it's quite a ride.



Blogger Mister Troll said...

Yeah, Ozark! Two points for me...

"You might suggest that I'm reading too much into the text but, really, you'd be wrong."

As funny as that statement was, I think the real point is that we might suggest you're reading too much of the text.

Thursday, November 05, 2009 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger scripto said...

""You are short on sleep, aren't you, Buck?(let's go lay down)" This is why I'm still your boss."(I'm ordering you to lay down)" Don't you get it? Yes, I want coordination..."(bend over and grab your ankles) "and I want a ... piece." (right now)

"Well, best give up on Buck, then."

Yep. It'll be a while before he gets back on that yellow bicycle.

Thursday, November 05, 2009 4:28:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Since when do nationalists, Jewish or otherwise, want a supernational government? It's more than "unlikely", it's self-contradicting.

Thursday, November 05, 2009 7:58:00 PM  

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