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Friday, August 19, 2011

The Overton Window: Chapter 28

Welcome back one and all to our ongoing series on The Overton Window, the book that makes Penthouse Letters look plausible by comparison. Last time Danny went to a strip club but, somehow, was more interested in the strippers' cell phones. What happens this week? We return to Noah, who miraculously still lives.

As I mentioned I am once again selecting a comment of the week, and this week that "honor" goes to Jay for proposing an Overton Window total conversion project:

When I saw that "some other video" link, I was expecting a Rickroll. Now I can't stop imagining that "Danny Bailey" is a cover identity of Rick Astley.

I'm seeing Vanilla Ice as "Stuart", Debbie Gibson as "Molly", Dolly Parton as "Mrs. Ross", and for "Noah", a young Kasey Kasem.

Could Jimi have faked his death to become "Hollis"?

You know, honestly, I don't even know what to say to that. I'm too busy snickering uncontrollably. Great work, Jay, and keep it up folks. This crap ain't gonna make itself funny.

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.). Up, up and away!

Dramatis Personae: In an order determined by roulette wheel.

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 Mom.

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.

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.

Charlie Nelan: Gardner family lawyer. Silver hair. Impeccably dressed. Looks awesome. Has some sort of weird relationship with GQ. May have the ability to sense when Noah's in trouble using some sort of clairvoyance. Possible kleptomaniac.

Stuart Kearns: FBI agent. Works on homeland security matters. Kinda old and wrinkly. Not particularly trusting. Lives in a double-wide trailer. Sixty-three years old.

Mr. Puddles: AKA Gray Death. AKA Ninja Cat. Stuart's cat. Large. Dangerous looking. Possibly plotting his demise.

Tiffany: A stripper at the Pussycat Ranch. Thinks Danny is awesome.


Chapter 28: In which Noah wakes up and the authors forget about biology.

Recommended Mood Music:*

Page 191, Line 1-4:
A small fragment of his awareness saw everything clearly from a mute corner of his mind, but that part had given up trying to rouse the rest of him. Noah still lay where Molly had left him, not exactly asleep but a long way from consciousness.

So he's unconscious, then? Would that have been so hard to write? "Noah was unconscious." See, it's easy. As opposed to, say, the weird description of the confederated states of Noah's brain that we get at the opening of this chapter. In any case, Noah hears some banging noises, but they don't make much impression on him.

Page 191, Line 9-17:
His nightmares had grown infrequent as he'd gotten older, but they'd always been the same. No slow-motion chases, shambling zombies, or yellow eyes peering from an open closet door; the running theme of his nocturnal terrors was nothing so elaborate. In every one he was simply trapped, always held by something crushing and inescapable as his life slowly drained away. Buried alive in a tight pine coffin, pinned and smothering beneath a pillow pressed to his face by powerful hands, caught under the crush of an avalanche, terrified and helpless and knowing he'd already begun to die.

"Meanwhile, in a narrative where this type of detail would not seem out of place..." Seriously, though, I appreciate that the authors are- for once- trying here but, unfortunately, absolutely nothing that you just read will ever be relevant. I mean, not even once. Unless it's intended to allude to something that we'll get to a little bit later.

Page 192, Line 7-8:
This was the part where he knew he had to wake up, because if he didn't he was sure the dream would kill him.

You know, I've died in a dream before. By which I mean, my dream self expired. It's rather unpleasant, but thoroughly survivable. Then again, about 90% of the time if I remember dreaming at all, it's nightmares, so perhaps I'm just more used to coping with scary dreams than Noah "Hold me, Molly" Gardner. Anyway, some people appear, start tearing tape off of him and one of them- a woman- tells him he might feel a little pinch.

Page 192, Line 29-32:
He looked down and watched the gradual pierce of a hypodermic needle, but felt only a distant pressure and then a chill trickling up the vessel as the plunger was pushed to its stop. The room had begun a slow spin with him at its center.

"Woah, man! That was some awesome shit. Hey- do any of you have some funyuns? Man, I could go for some funyuns right now. OH! Or bacon! Man, I f-ing love bacon!"* Leaving all that aside, I'm forced to wonder whether someone was nice enough to leave a description of whatever it was that Noah got dosed with in plain sight since, really, you don't want to inject shit into a guy who has been drugged with an unknown substance. I'm also wondering whether or not he still has both kidneys. Hey, a terror cell has to get funding from somewhere.

Page 193, Line 1-7:
The doctor snapped her fingers in front of his face. "Noah? Can you tell me what year it is?"

"Where am I?"

"You're safe. What's your mother's maiden name, do you know that?" She had a stethescope to his chest, and her attention was on the face of her wristwatch.

"Wilson. Jaime Wilson." He felt his head beginning to clear.

Sadly, the name of Noah's mother will never, ever become relevant to the plot. So, as characterization goes, that sucks. The doc follows up by asking Noah what day it is.

Page 193, Line 13-16:
"I got here on Saturday night." A few others had gathered around and he noticed them exchanging a look when they heard this answer. "What happened? How long have I been out?"

"It's Monday, about noon," the woman said.

Ah. So, Molly drugged Noah with something, and then put him under some sort of anesthesia to keep him out for around two full days. First and foremost, that's pretty dangerous unless he was monitored by someone with proper training. Given that Molly left Hollis in charge of Noah, I'm betting he wasn't. More importantly, however, even if they gave Noah I.V. feeding- also requiring training- he should be dehydrated by this point and, regardless, will be ravenously hungry.** He should also be sitting/lying in a pool of his own filth since getting drugged unconscious doesn't cancel your need to expel waste. Needless to say, none of this appears to be the case. Basically, Noah seems to have been just shoved in some kind of suspended animation while the authors were dealing with Stuart and Danny, which makes sense because that authors really just wanted to sideline Noah while they dealt with Stuart and Danny. Still, one likes to see a little more craftsmanship. Or competence. One of those c-words.

Page 193, Line 20:
Monday, about noon; he'd been dead to the world for forty hours.

Well, in Molly's defense, Noah was hardly vibrantly alive to begin with. No, he's really more like an ambulatory piece of furniture, albeit not as pimp. Also, you've got to hand it to these authors: when they need a character out of the way so they can advance another "plot" thread, they really get him out of the way. In any case, the doc tells Noah to come along, he asks where they're going, and she turns for the ominous response.

Page 193, Line 28:
"Your father wants to see you," she said.

Bum, bum- oh, wait, it's just his dad. Whatever. I guess he might be pissed that Noah broke into secured files and shared them with his new bipolar psycho terrorist girlfriend,*** but that's just crazy. Nevertheless, if you want to find out the terrible truth, you'll have to come back next time because this is- absurdly enough- the end of the chapter, and I'm feeling just lazy enough to stop here.****

You're welcome.

* Yeah, you're right, I've never been high, unless you count the drugs they gave me for the various surgeries I've experienced and those aren't what I would have called fun.

** I've been on I.V. feeding only before for an extended period. You do still get hungry. So very, very hungry.

*** Wasn't that an episode of Family Ties, or something?

**** Yeah, I also have a plane to catch.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Noah expelling waste" is almost the entirety of this book. It could be the title. So why would they leave out how Molly has him attached ass-to-mouth to Hollis in a terrible Human Centipede experiment?!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 5:01:00 AM  

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