Total Drek

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Friday, July 08, 2011

The Overton Window: Chapter 21

Welcome back one and all to our ongoing series on The Overton Window, the book that proves that being an author is not the same thing as being a writer. Last time Noah and Molly discussed Noah's possible future as her sugar daddy. What happens this week? Molly takes Noah back to her lair and the authors spew yet more exposition all over us.

As I mentioned I am once again selecting a comment of the week, and this week that "honor" goes to Jonas for setting the bar high:

I'm sincerely sorry to say that I really think this book would be better if it were a porn-y mockery of itself called "The Loverton Window" that focused exclusively on Molly's bizarre interest in Noah and his incredibly feeble attempts to get into her bra.

(I'd say pants, but let's be somewhat realistic about his chances.)

Indeed, were Noah to get into Molly's shirt I'd be impressed, but into her bra? That would take a level of performance far beyond anything we've seen from Noah Gardner thus far. But, hey, you may as well dream big, right? Thanks, Jonas, and keep it up, folks. We're a long, looooong way from home.

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. My footnotes use the traditional star system (e.g. *, **, etc) while references included in the Afterword to the book are noted with numbered parenthetical tags (e.g. (1), (2), etc.). Flee for your lives!

Dramatis Personae: In an order determined by numerology.

Eli Churchill: Former janitor at a volcano lair. Fan of remote telephone booths. Shot in the head by parties unknown.

Beverly Emerson: Mysterious correspondent of Eli Churchill's. Molly's mother.

Noah Gardener: 28 years old. Sets the dating bar "medium-high". Works Vice president at a PR firm. Went to NYU. Is "witty". Frequently forgets where he's going and why. Not good at talking to women. Not really inclined to help out cab drivers. Low tolerance for alcohol. Lost his mother when he was young. Fond of chicken and waffles. Rich as shit. Views himself as a sexual panther. Likes bacon. Considers himself to be good at word games.

Molly "Hottie McPretty" Ross: Dresses like a hippie, but not really. Looks like a free spirit. Perfectly captures the essence of womanhood. Auburn hair. Green eyes. Pale skin. Has a tattoo on her chest. Wears a silver cross around her neck. Lost her father when she was young. Impressed by fancy cars. Cocktease. Possibly suffering from bipolar disorder.

Arthur Gardner Noah's father. Owner of Doyle & Merchant. Megalomaniac. Surprisingly vigorous for a 74 year old man. Really good at power point.

Khaled: Lebanese cab driver. Sold out by Noah Gardener.

Hollis: Friend of Molly Ross. Very polite. From the country. May be a Yeti.

Danny Bailey: Some kind of YouTube celebrity. Former lover of Molly Ross. Kind of a dickhead. Loves conspiracy theories and incoherent speeches. Sodomized by inmates following the rally. Once dressed up as Colonel Sanders to infiltrate the United Nations.

Stuart Kearns: FBI agent. Works on homeland security matters. Kinda old and wrinkly.


Chapter 21: In which we go to Molly's insurgent headquarters, watch the authors rip off Ray Bradbury, forget critical parts of the constitution, and Noah learns why someone as pretty as him shouldn't accept drinks from strangers.

Recommended Mood Music:

Page 155, Line 1-3:
When the cab pulled to a stop Molly opened the door and turned back to him as he paid the fare.

"Come on up," she said. "See how the other half lives."

Oh, good. She brought him home. Yay? And for those who are keeping track, their destination was specified in the last chapter but the book doesn't explicitly state that the destination given was for her place. It might well have been a random destination Noah pulled out of his ass- where he goes to hire those middle-high bar women, perhaps? Regardless, Molly escorts him through a rusty, quasi-functional front gate.

Page 155, Line 7-9:
A dismal courtyard lay beyond the gate, and at the entrance a triple-bolted fire door opened to a sad little front hall lit by a single hanging lightbulb.

Oh, man! A single hanging lightbulb! I f-ing love that cliche! Can we have an overweight super in a wife-beater, too? Anyway, our protaganist and his girl head on into the building, rapidly discovering its horrendous state of repair. And then Noah makes an observation that is, in a word, odd.

Page 156, Line 1-3:
None of the repair work seemed up to code, but little of the older, existing carpentry did, either.

Ah, well, that's the thing about building codes, Noah: anything built pre-code is exempt. So are we supposed to be surprised that an old building in an old city has old features that don't meet current building codes? And does this mean the authors approve of building codes? What socialists! Real free market types would support the right of private industry to build whatever the hell crappy structures they want. And if they collapse, then maimed survivors can sue as a paltry way of obtaining justice for their slaughtered spouses and children only to find themselves tied up in court by the builders' attorneys until they go bankrupt and sink into destitution and misery. Just like the founders intended.

Page 156, Line 9-11:
When they arrived at the third floor Molly had her keys ready, and she set about unlocking several dead bolts on the unnumbered apartment door.

Okay, so "home" is an unnumbered apartment in an abandoned building sealed by multiple dead bolts? Soooo... she lives in a kill room then? Good to know. Noah, for his part, doesn't seem to realize that this chapter might well end with him at the bottom of a pit being told, "It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again." Anyway, after telling him she hasn't lived there long, they step through the door and into a completely different book.

Page 156, Line 18-25:
Great effort had obviously been taken to transform this space into a sort of self-contained hideaway, far removed from the city outside. What had probably once been a huge, cold industrial floor had been renovated and brought alive with simple ingenuity and hard work. The result was one large area divided with movable partitions to form an impressively cool, livable loft. From where he was he could see a spacious multipurpose room off the entryway, a kitchen and laundry to the side, and what seemed to be a series of guest rooms toward the back.

Yeah- simple ingenuity, hard work, and a shitload of money because movable partitions, laundry and cooking equipment, electrical and plumbing work, and so forth ain't cheap. Even if you do it yourself it ain't cheap. And don't even get me started on the bribes to utility workers, local cops, etc, since I really doubt that they're occupying this space legally. Noah asks how many people live here, which makes sense since it's awfully ginormous for one single gal, and then we get this.

Page 156, Line 28-31:
"I don't know, eight or ten, so don't be surprised if you see someone. They come and go; none of us lives here permanently. We have places like this all around the country so we can have somewhere safe to stay when we have to travel." [Molly answered]

What is she? Freaking Al-Qaeda? This is what we call a "safe house" and it isn't the sort of thing maintained by a typical political group. No, this is the sort of thing maintained by paramilitary units or terrorist organizations. Keep this in mind when you ponder that this book is supposedly encouraging people to behave in a non-extreme way. Regardless, Molly escorts Noah into her "room" and offers him some sweet tea. He accepts her offer and she leaves him to go prepare said beverage. Noah takes the opportunity to look around her stuff.*

Page 157, Line 6-14:
He walked about midway into the front room and found a slightly elevated platform enclosed in Japanese screens of thin dark wood and rice paper panels. There were a lot of bookshelves, a dresser, a rolltop desk, and a vanity. But the space was dominated by a large rope hammock, its webbing covered by a nest of comfy blankets and pillows, suspended waist-high between the red shutoff wheels of two heavy metal pipes that extended up from the floor through the ceiling. This room within a room was lit softly by small lamps and pastel paper lanterns. The total effect of the enclosure was that of a mellow, relaxing Zen paradise.

Given the authors' previously noted tendency to describe objects- including fancy cars and apartments- with far more care than their characters, I'm tempted to label all this as a conscious effort to contrast Molly's character to Noah's. Noah lives in expensive opulence but spares little or no attention on his surroundings, not even realizing that the movers had left a penmanship assignment of his from his boyhood on a desk in his apartment (roughly Pages 130-133). Molly, on the other hand, invests care and thought in preparing her space, in so doing producing a much homier place to live. Yeah, I'm tempted to suggest that, except that Molly commented on just the last page that she doesn't live here permanently and it's basically a safe house for the use of her organization. As such, unless we're prepared to assume that she travels around the country with all of this crap, we have no choice but to conclude that this room was more than likely decorated this way when she arrived. Oh, the fact that she chose it might mean something, but that's only if we assume that she had any choice at all. So, in the end, we can't really conclude anything from this scene except that, once again, the authors are perfectly happy to abandon an aspect of the narration when it grows inconvenient.

Page 157, Line 15-18:
A glance through the nearest bookcase revealed a strange assortment of reading material. Some old and modern classics were segregated on a shelf by themselves, but the collection consisted mostly of works that leaned towards the eccentric, maybe even the forbidden.

"The forbidden"? What are we, a library in Alabama? Look, I've actually read a large portion of The Turner Diaries. If that doesn't suggest to you just how free the press is in the U.S., ain't nothin gonna get the job done. I'm not going to list all the titles Noah finds, but I will mention that it includes Orson Scott Card's infamous Empire, a novel that's also about an attempt to overthrow the U.S. government. The main difference is that, unlike the authors, Card can actually write. I can tell that the authors are trying to be inclusive of books from the left and the right here but, once we've crossed the line into including fiction, I really wonder where the hell Margaret Atwood's classic The Handmaid's Tale has gotten to. I mean, as long as we're talking about fictional depictions of the overthrow of the U.S., why not include a really, really good one? Just sayin' is all. Anyway, Noah keeps looking and then runs across... this.

Page 157-158, 157: 23-31, 158: 1-3:
Below was an entire section devoted to a series of books from a specialty publisher, all by a single author named Ragnar Benson. Noah touched the weathered spines and read the titles of these, one by one:

The Modern Survival Retreat
Guerrilla Gunsmithing
Homemade Grenade Launchers: Constructing the Ultimate Hobby Weapon
Ragnar's Homemade Detonators
Survivalist's Medicine Chest
Live Off the Land in the City and Country

And a last worn hardcover, titled simply Mantrapping. [emphasis original]

Yeah. Remember, everybody: the authors are definitely not encouraging the use of violence here. Remember that brief line in the bar when Molly's mom said that violence was bad? That totally outweighs this whole scene. And the ones that follow. Totally. Moving on, it turns out that Ragnar and his book-of-the-month-club is, in fact, real, which doesn't do a lot for my peace of mind (1) (2). Noah doesn't seem to care, though I have to concede he isn't given much time to ponder the implications.

Page 158, Line 4-9:
"Those are some pretty good books she's got there, huh?"

It was only the tranquil atmosphere and a slight familiarity to the odd voice from close behind that kept him from jumping right out of his skin. He turned and there was Molly's large friend from the bar, nearly at eye level because of the elevated platform on which Noah was standing.

Oh. Great. This guy again.

Page 158, Line 10-15:
"Hollis," Noah said, stepping down to the main floor, "how is it that I never hear you coming?"

The big man gave him a warm guy-hug with an extra pat on the shoulder at the end. "I guess I tend to move about kinda quiet."

"I might need to hang a bell around your neck for my nerves."

"Come on," Hollis said. "Let me show you around some."

Well, that was cute I guess. Horribly written, yes, but kinda cute. Oh, I know it wasn't supposed to look flirtatious- that stupid line about the "guy-hug" was totally code for "these dudes are definitely not gay"- but it nevertheless succeeded, and I for one found it heartwarming. Anyway, Hollis shows Noah around and, predictably, ends up taking Noah back to his room.** Said room contains a bed, yes, but also a shit-ton of tools and such. And again, like Molly's room, one is forced to wonder if he lugs this crap around or if it was here when he arrived, but I digress. The consistency ship has long since put to sea, leaving us alone and forlorn on the beach.

Page 158, Line 22-28:
"What is all this stuff?" Noah asked. One table was covered with parts and test equipment for working on small electronics, another was a mass of disassembled communications equipment, and a third was devoted to cleaning supplies and the neatly disassembled pieces of a scary-looking black rifle and a handgun. More weapons were visible in an open gun safe to the side, but his focus had settled on the nearest of the workbenches. "Are you making bullets there?"

Right, so, Molly has the library of a terrorist and her buddy Hollis has a damn arsenal, as well as what could very well be partially-built explosive devices. And we're in what amounts to a secret lair. How does all this not scare the shit out of Noah? I mean, I have friends who own a truly stupid number of firearms*** as well as friends who reload their own rounds. I do not, however, have friends that do all of those things while giving every indication of preparing to fight the f-ing police. Anyway, Hollis admits that, yes, he's making ammunition, and then Noah invites more exposition.

Page 159, Line 7-26:
"Why on earth would you want to make your own ammunition?"

Hollis sat, put on his spectacles, picked up the components of an unfinished cartridge, started working with the pieces, and then spoke. "Noah, do you like cookies?"

"Why yes, Hollis. We were talking about firearms, but yes, I do like cookies."

"And which do you like better?" He'd placed the open powder-filled casing in the lower part of his hand-operated machine, fitted a bullet on top, tweaked an adjustment ring with the deft touch of a safecracker, and then rotated a long feed lever until the two parts mated together into a single, snug assembly. "Do you prefer those dry, dusty little nuggets you get in a box from one of them drive-through restaurants?" He removed the finished cartridge from the mechanism and held it up so Noah could admire its perfection. "Or would you rather have a nice, warm cookie fresh out of the oven, that your sweetheart cooked just for you?"

"I see what you mean, I guess."

"Oh hell, anything'll do for target shooting, I suppose, but if I know what I'm hunting I can make up something that's just exactly right, and she'll fly straighter and hit harder than anything I could buy in a box from a store."

Now, Noah admits on the very next line that he isn't what you'd call a "gun guy". I'll make a similar admission here, although I'll also observe that I enjoy target shooting and own several firearms. I also have a very close friend who has served a term in the U.S. Marine Corps and is a federally-licensed firearms dealer. So, I asked him about this passage. His response basically boiled down to this: hand-loaded rounds can achieve levels of quality comparable to those from a factory, and it is possible to adjust the load in a round slightly in order to compensate for certain unique quirks of the specific weapon you're using. That said, the tolerances of the weapon as a whole are tight enough that, by and large, you cannot alter the propellant load of the round sufficient to modify its ballistic characteristics enough to change its stopping power without, in all likelihood, screwing up the gun you're firing it from. Or, more bluntly, if you tweak the bullet enough to make it hit harder, the gun you fire it from is probably going to explode in your face when you fire it. The adjustments you can make in the hand-load are not so much to improve its damage but to make an already-accurate round even more accurate for matches. And on an unrelated note: yes, that passage above describing a long feed lever mating parts together is, hands down, the most erotic bit in this entire book. Anyway, Noah asks how many rounds Hollis can produce in an hour, Hollis says between 75 and 200- a number my friend says isn't unreasonable- and then Molly returns with Noah's tea. She borrows Noah and escorts him elsewhere on his tour of her lair.

Page 160, Line 20-23:
There were other voices nearby, and Molly led him down the line of doorways and partitioned spaces toward the sound. At the end of this hall they came to a large room with a diverse group of men and women sitting around a long conference table.

Did you get that? A diverse group of men and women? See, if you keep just asserting the movement is diverse in narration, you can totally get away with never bothering to include any people of color whatsoever. Well, aside from Khaled I guess, but by this point Khaled is probably trying to choke Jack Ryan with his own necktie, so he doesn't count.

Page 160, Line 28-30:
"Everybody," Molly said, "This is Noah Gardner. And Noah, these are some of the regional leaders of the Founders' Keepers. You said you were good with names, so let's put you to the test."

Right, so, Molly has taken the evil genius' son to the lair of her insurgent group, and is about to introduce him to the regional leaders of said group. What could go wrong? As it turns out, very little, because not only is Noah a moron, but the leaders are all using pseudonyms taken from founding fathers. As the scene unfolds it turns out that they're all studying these little books. It ain't a bible study, however, as it rapidly becomes clear that each book contains things written or said by one or more founding fathers. Molly also has a book.

Page 162, Line 5-7:
"I'm [Molly] not like they are, though. They've each memorized a whole person, and I've just got little pieces of a lot of them. Mostly Thomas Paine, though."

Uh-oh. I do not like the look of where this is headed. Noah asks what this is all about, and the answer is everything I feared.

Page 162, Line 12-18:
"It's one of the things the Founders' Keepers do," Molly said. "We remember."

"You remember speeches and letters and things?"

"We remember how the country was founded. You never know, we might have to do it again someday."

"So you keep it in your heads? Why, in case all the history books got burned?"

If you find yourself wondering where you've seen this before, wonder no more: the authors are basically shamelessly ripping off sci-fi legend Ray Bradbury. And boy is this girl ever going to be pissed! There's a spot of quoting various major figures in U.S. political philosophy and then the narrative stumbles along (3) (4). In any case, our journey through the looking glass is just getting weirder and weirder.

Page 162, Line 19-26:
"It's already happening, Noah, if you haven't noticed. Not burning, but changing. Ask an elementary school kid what they know about George Washington and it's more likely you'll hear the lies about him, like the cherry-tree story or that he had wooden dentures (5), then about anything that really made him the father of our country. Ask a kid in high school about Ronald Reagan and they'll probably tell you that he was a B-list-actor-turned-politician, or that he was the guy who happened to be in office when Gorbachev ended the Cold War."

It goes on but, for those keeping score at home: yes, knowledge of George Washington was just placed on an equal footing with knowledge of Ronald Reagan. This whole passage- which I will spare you from- is like a political science class crossed with a bible study, only somehow infinitely dumber. And the irony of the whole thing is that I'm fairly sure the actual founding fathers would have regarded this type of devotion as repugnant. The founding fathers were, among other things, radicals. They broke with long standing tradition and tried to forge a new and untried path. So, to be blunt, I think this obsession with doing just what they wanted centuries after they died would be the exact antithesis of what they were about. But, hey, I'm just an over-educated asshole, what do I know? Regardless, Molly quotes some Paine- in the process making it even more obvious how terrible the writing in this book is- and then they wander back to her room to hang out and drink sweet tea. Yes, really.

Page 163, Line 18-22:
"That looked like a small arsenal Hollis had back there," Noah said. "Are all those guns legal?"

"Two of them are registered. The rest are just passing through. He's on his way to a gun show upstate."

"So the answer's no, they're not legal."

Well, they're in New York City so, no, probably not. So, again to sum up: secret lair, crazy people obsessively studying doctrines, bomb making materials, insurgent handbooks, illegal firearms... totally normal, totally healthy. Anyway, Molly bitches about how hard it is to register guns, Noah comments that's just par for the course in New York (6) (7) (8) [As a side note: Yeah, I know that link is broken. It's what the book says. The authors also refer us to page 49 of this book, but damn if I'm gonna buy a copy], and then we're off.

Page 164, Line 1-11:
"Wait, didn't you say you were pre-law in college? I would have thought they'd have spent a few minutes on the Second Amendment."

"Yeah, they did," Noah said. "The experts differ quite a bit on its interpretation."

She spoke the words thoughtfully. "'The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed'- that seems pretty clear to me."

"You left out the part that causes all the arguments."

"The word militia meant something different back then, Noah. Ben Franklin started the first one here. The militia was every citizen who was ready and able to protect their community, whatever the threat. It was as natural as having a lock on your front door." [emphasis original]

Okay, so, here we go. The thing is, Noah is right**** that Molly initially left off the bit that causes arguments. The problem is, her comments on the meaning of the term militia still side-step a critical issue. Her description of what "militia" meant sounds more akin to what we'd refer to as an armed mob. But is that what the founders intended? Well, if we actually check the text of the second amendment we see it reads, "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." So, the relevant detail is not just the reference to a militia, but the specific provision that it is a well regulated militia that is at issue. And the founders didn't intend that the "well regulated" provision would be easy to satisfy, as Alexander Hamilton- my favorite founding father as it happens- made clear in the Federalist 29. Does this mean that the government can regulate firearms any way it wants? No, not really but the issue is nowhere near as clear-cut as the authors imply here. And I support the second amendment (as well as some gun control), it's just that we should at least be clear about the causes of the argument. The authors do, of course, provide a couple of their endnotes for this "the militia was every citizen" thing, but none are available online. Or so the authors imply but both of them are, in fact, online. One of them- the Federalist #46- is available from a random website. Read it yourself but, in my view, it doesn't support the "armed mob" perspective that Molly is pushing. The other, Elliott's volume of debates, is available from Google books. Do a search in that one for the term "militia" and see what you think from the context but, again, it does not look to me like an armed mob was at all what the founders had in mind. Anyway, Molly rambles on and Noah participates as only he can.

Page 164, Line 18-19:
"Speaking of the way you read it [the second amendment]," he said, "why don't you tell me about your bookshelf there."

"Please, I would like more thinly-veiled exposition!" She complies and we get a brief discussion of the collected works of Ragnar, with a particular focus on the advisability of building a grenade launcher, " your rumpus room" (Page 164, Line 30). Molly reveals that the original Ragnar is Hollis' uncle and that Hollis has now taken over the family business as it were. Then we get to a detail that's actually relevant to the plot.

Page 165, Line 16-18:
"Now finish your tea or I'll think you don't like it."

He did, in one long drink, and Molly patted a place beside her on the hammock with one hand.

What follows from this point is, believe it or not, not the simple narration, "Noah rose and gingerly joined her on the hammock". Instead, he refuses citing his current unfamiliarity with hammocks, she insists, and then we're treated to a half-page description of the process of entering a hammock. I just do not understand the priorities that these authors have, you know? Anyway, he notices she's wearing a silver bracelet and asks about it. She shows him that the outside has an inscription from Thomas Paine reading, "We have it in our power to begin the world over again" (9). Then it gets better.

Page 166, Line 26-29:
"There's more," she said. With her other hand the carefully twisted the bracelet so the inner face of it turned out, and there was another inscription on that side.

Faith Hope Charity [emphasis original]

Right. Did she get this bracelet at TEA Party Hallmark, or what? Fortunately, Noah knows just how to respond when admiring the jewelry of the girl whose panties he wishes to obtain a tourist visa for.

Page 166, Line 30:
"That's... nice." [Noah answered]

Yeah. Noah Gardner. Such a brilliant boy.

Page 167, Line 1-3:
"I guess I don't really understand," Noah said. "I mean, I understand those words, but that's not really a battle plan, is it? Do you know what you're up against?"

Honestly, I think Noah's selling Molly and the gang short here. I mean, they have a secret lair, ample bomb making parts, a small arsenal, the ability to make ammunition, manuals for all kinds of insurgent whatthefuckery... clearly their "battle plan" involves little, if any, charity, though I'll make no claims about faith and hope. Regardless, we move into the oral exam portion of the evening.

Page 167, Line 6-15:
"Okay," Molly said. "Pop quiz: Who fired the first shot in the American Revolution?"

"That's a trick question. Nobody knows who fired the first shot."

"Is that your final answer?"


She worked herself up onto an elbow so she could look at him. "It wasn't fired from a gun. The first shot was a sermon, delivered by Jonathan Mayhew, years before Lexington and Concord. It wasn't a politician who first said 'no taxation without representation.' It was a preacher (10)."

"Ah. So that's the faith part."

You've gotta love the way she trapped Noah there with her inane answer. It's like claiming that the first shot of World War II was Hitler being kicked out of art school. And, hell, we all know the kinda wacky shit preachers say- who knew anyone would take him seriously?

Page 167, Line 16-21
"It's more than that. Our rights come from a higher power, Noah. Men can't grant them, and men can't take them away. That's the difference, I think, between what happened in the French Revolution and what we achieved in ours. We believed we had the will of God behind us, and they believed in the words of Godwin. One endures, and the other fell to human weakness." [Molly continued]

Leaving aside for a moment the sheer number of atheists, humanists and deists among the founding fathers,***** that explanation for the difference in outcomes between the American and French revolutions is so ridiculous it's almost physically painful. On the one hand, we have an independence movement in which a distant set of colonies attempted to secede from their mother country while keeping their basic governmental and class structures intact. In the other case we have the downtrodden in an extremely stratified society with a tremendous amount of inequality rising up and overthrowing the existing government, and then having to reconstruct a functioning government and civic life while simultaneously defending themselves against a myriad of external threats. So, yeah, clearly the only difference there that could produce contrasting outcomes is freaking faith. Sure. Pull the other one now- it has bells on it. Anyway, Molly rambles on about Ben Franklin saying it was our duty to serve our fellow man and Noah notices a sketch of a log cabin in the woods. He asks about it and Molly explains that it's a depiction of what she really wants in life.****** I'm not going to reproduce the dialogue because it's terrible and dull as all hell, but my margin note sums it up: "And this is supposed to convince us that she's a reluctant bipolar terrorist?" Regardless, it's time to head for the big finish.

Page 169, Line 10-12:
"There's a cancer in our country, Noah. We've both seen the X-rays now. If we don't stop it, it'll spread wherever we try to hide. And I want you to know something, I need for you to know something." [emphasis original]

She calls it "cancer" I call it "the compromise inherent in a democracy". You MAKE the call!

Page 169, Line 14-17:
"There's nothing I wouldn't give up to defend my country. No matter how hard it might be, there's nothing that's in my power that I wouldn't do."

"I understand," Noah said. "I admire that a lot."

No, you moron. That's not admirable, that's freaking terrifying. There are, in fact, things that no person should be willing to do for their country. Murder children, for example. Is Molly saying she's willing to murder children? Well, there's nothing she wouldn't do, so I guess so. Nobody should ever admire that level of fanaticism. And Noah is about to get an object lesson in why.

Page 169, Line 26-29:
Then he noticed a subtle blur that had crept into his vision. A little shimmer had formed around sources of light, and though he blinked it away the strange haze returned after a moment more, this time accompanied by an odd discomfort, like a passing wave of vertigo.

Uh-oh. Did Molly spike Noah's sweet tea with rohypnol? I mean, I'd have prefered she spike it with cyanide, but hey, we'll take what we can get. Regardless of pharmacology, Noah rapidly starts losing his cool, his coordination, and eventually his consciousness.

Page 170, Line 19-23:
As the cloudy room began to swim and face he saw that three strangers were standing nearby, young men dressed in business suits and ties.

"It's time to go, Molly," one of them said, the voice far away and unreal.

"Just give us a minure. Wait for me downstairs."

Okay. Does she work for the mob? Then again, she maybe poisoned Noah, so do we really care who she works for?

Page 170, Line 24-26:
And they were gone, and another, taller figure appeared.

"You'll stay with him, Hollis, won't you?"

"I'll stay just as long as I can."

Yeah, I'll just bet, Yetikins. I bet you're where Molly got the rohypnol from in the first place.

Page 170, Line 27-31:
He [Noah] felt her arms around him tight, her tears on his cheek, her lips near his ear as the blackness finally, fully descended. Almost gone, but the three simple words she'd whispered to him then would stay clear in his mind even after everything else had faded away into the dark.

"I'm so sorry."

Oh, no! Whatever will become of Noah? More to the point, who cares? Us, I suppose, but only in the sense that if Noah dies we're going to be stuck with just Stuart and Danny, and that can't possibly be a good thing. Regardless, we've reached the end of our chapter, so tune in next time when we check in with the gruesome twosome and discover whether Danny is any good at anything.

I don't want to spoil it for you, but he and Noah have a lot in common.

* Just to be clear, I don't find that weird at all. It's what you do on a first date when your host bustles off for some reason. You look at the bookshelves, glance at the CDs or movies, and generally get a sense of what they might be like underneath the good impression they're trying to project.

** I'm actually a little shocked that this isn't described as Hollis taking Noah for a guy-visit to his place.

*** Sorry, man, you know I'm right. I'll admit, though, that your SL-8 is crazy fun to shoot. You should totally keep that one.

**** I mean, shit, a stopped clock is right twice a day.

***** If for not other reason than because modern social conservatives deny that there were any atheists, humanists or deists among the founding fathers in the first place. Chris Rodda has a lot to say on that point, however.

****** i.e. to be an extra on Little House on the Prairie. I'm guessing she'd appear as, "boring girl who dies of typhus" in the credits.



Blogger Ken Houghton said...

""Come on up," she said. "See how the other half lives.""

I lived in NYC for fifteen years, the last ten in a very nice 2BR (NYC definition; 1BR anywhere else in the US)—on 163rd Street, during the height of the "crack epidemic."

If Molly's flat is "how the other half lives"—working for a large organization that keeps similar "cubicles" as living spaces for the their oft-traveled, well-compensated employees—then I and 99.44% of my neighbors who had guns pulled on them and cars busted and torn apart searching for coke and who had to call to be walked home the nights they worked late at Columbia Presbyterian don't exist at all.

Which is a nice summary of Glenn Beck's world view.

Sunday, July 10, 2011 2:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


They sell Noah to the Chinese government in order to allow China to discover just how stupid Americans can be. This provides China with a perfect opportunity to destroy all rich white inheritance fucks like Noah, leaving the country blissfully free of at least a few idiots in this shallow gene pool of ours. Oh, and ushering in an era of crazy Tea Party wingnuts like Molly who will clearly make the world more awesome with their Pro-Drug stance (regarding douchebags, at least), their ability to tell time from the stars and a mean abilty to decorate loft spaces in Manhattan.

Oh, and Noah dies crusted within his own feces in a pitiless Chinese holding cell. Hurrah!

Only Hollis and his former penmanship teacher will miss him.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011 11:17:00 AM  

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