Total Drek

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Friday, September 30, 2011

The Overton Window: Chapter 35

Welcome back one and all to our ongoing series on The Overton Window, the book that makes us all glad the TEA Party isn't in charge. Yet. Last time Noah went to visit Molly's mom on her death bed and hung out with an old friend who will never, ever reappear. What happens this week? Noah goes to see Molly and... well... that basically covers it.

As I mentioned I am once again selecting a comment of the week, and this week that "honor" goes to Jay for making the essential point, although I will note that I now love Ken again:

re:*** I'm suddenly struck by the notion that there might be a porno version called "Left in the Behind".

There's a really chilling scene when you see all the emptied ... socks?

BTW, what are we supposed to make of a secret conspiracy based on public relations? You can't secretly conspire in the public view. Either you're broadcasting your message, or you aren't.

Leaving the socks alone- and frankly, who wouldn't under the circumstances- I think Jay has really hit on the core issue. This is a secret conspiracy that relies for its effectiveness on not really being secret. Or, arguably, even a conspiracy. Seriously, the evil conspirators in this book are at least as dumb as the heroes, and that leaves us without anyone to cheer for. No, all we have are people to cheer against, which basically means I'm hoping that this book ends in a gamma ray burst. Thanks, Jay, and keep at it, folks! The conclusion simply cannot come soon enough.

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.). Kerfluffle!

Dramatis Personae: In an order determined by drunken undergraduate econ majors.

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. Injected with weed killer by parties unknown blisteringly obvious to everyone.

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. Wants to bang his mom.

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. Looks just like Noah's mom.

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. May be afraid of cats.

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.

Ellen Davenport: Old friend of Noah's. Second-year neurology resident at Mt. Sinai. Doesn't appear to need sleep or have good taste in her associates.


Chapter 35: In which Noah finds Molly and the marionette strings become even more obvious.

Recommended Mood Music:

Page 225, Line 1-3:
The street address that had been scrawled on the hospital's notepaper didn't lead him to another of the so-called safe houses that Molly had described.

For which Noah should be grateful, since if it did he'd likely be on a collision course with a bunch or armed whackos. That said, I can't decide whether I'm happy that the authors didn't make Molly give the nurse the address to a safe-house, thereby making it an unsafe-house, or annoyed that when Molly is genuinely in need of a safe-house, she isn't actually in one. I mean, Jesus, when nobody is looking for you, you hang out in a safe-house, but when powerful people are looking for you to do you harm, you don't go to a safe-house? What?

Page 225, Line 3-6:
When Noah looked up as the cab pulled to a stop he found he was outside what looked like a quaint family-style eatery, the Buccaneer Diner on Astoria Boulevard in Queens, about a mile from La Guardia Airport.

In case you're wondering, yes, this place does exist. I'll be the first one to admit, having glanced at the menu, that this looks like the kind of place my wife would despair of keeping me away from.* That said, I have no idea why the authors felt compelled to be this specific because it just doesn't matter at all for the narrative ever. Seriously, the scene could have taken place in a McDonalds, or a Chuckie Cheeze or even a WalMart Radio Grill for all the location ends up impacting the book. Best guess? It's more product placement. Regardless, Noah wanders in and notices the lunch crowd was winding down before spotting Molly.

Page 225, Line 13:
When Molly looked over and saw him walking up the aisle she stood...

Okay, this is gonna be good. The last time Molly saw Noah she had just drugged him unconscious and was about to go break into his office. Is she going to run for it? Is she going to pull a gun and try to shoot it out? Man, this is exciting!

Page 225, Line 14-15:
...and was suddenly overcome by a flood of tears she must have been barely holding at bay. She ran to him and threw herself into his arms.

What. The. Fuck? What is even happening in this scene? Does she know what book she's in? Doesn't she suspect that Noah might be ever so slightly pissed at her right now? Why am I reading this shit?

Page 225, Line 16-17:
In the cab on the way he'd given a great deal of thought to what he might say to her if he actually found her waiting at the end of the ride.

Okay, great, we have a chance to salvage the situation. Maybe, just once, Noah can respond to a situation like a real boy instead of the authors' wooden puppet!

Page 226, Line 3-9:
Not only did you break my heart, but you and your friends could have killed me with an overdose, all in the name of a hopeless cause.

I care about you, I was starting to believe in you, and now I don't know if a single thing between us was real.

And of course, there was this one:

I think my father must have ordered your mother to be murdered, just as easily as he'd ordered breakfast that morning. [emphasis original]

Right. So it's the OR where he responds like a wooden puppet getting jerked around by a bunch of authors who are either too incompetent to write a decent character, or too goddamn lazy to bother to try. Seriously, what actual human being- barring some sort of serious mental issues- would possibly react this way? He isn't a man, he's a hackneyed disaster.

Page 226, Line 10-12:
There was too much, so Noah said nothing. Neither forgiving nor forgetting, he put it all aside for the time being and just held her for a while.

What the hell does that mean? Does that mean he's going to exact his hellish revenge later? As it turns out, what it mostly means is that the authors are beginning to find Noah's quite reasonable anger at what was done to him tiresome and have decided to just get rid of it in the fastest, easiest way possible. Alternatively, the Buccaneer Diner is some sort of magic "all is forgiven" vortex, but not being a New York resident, I can't speak to that. Anyway, Molly asks about her mom and Noah gives her a brief account. Molly then explains that she had been traveling with others who had gone on ahead to La Guardia to test the security.

Page 226, Line 25-27:
They weren't just searched and harassed, as had often been the case in recent years; this time they were arrested and detained. [emphasis added]

Okay, first of all, I have to call bullshit. So far the only people we've seen in Molly's little terror cell have been white folks with more or less normal religious views. That is really, really, really not the type of people who are routinely harassed by TSA. Seriously. I'm friends with actual brown people, including actual Arab brown people, and as such, when I compare their stories of TSA to my own I reach the inescapable conclusion that Molly's folk are not the type of people who are subject to routine harassment. However the fuck much Glenn Beck might like us to believe that white Christians are somehow an oppressed group in the U.S. it just IS NOT TRUE. Are we all clear on that? Good. Second, the thing that really bothers me in this passage is that Molly is sitting here alone yet, somehow, she knows her friends were detained. How? Did they call her-from detention- to let her know? Somehow I doubt it and, if they did, why the hell aren't the cops swarming her under even now? Did she have an associate watching to see what would happen? That would have made the most sense, save for the fact that Molly is sitting here alone. Is she clairvoyant? Must be, because there's no other freaking way she could have known that. God does this book suck. Anyway, moving along, Noah suggests that Molly drive to wherever the fuck she's going, but she says that she can't take that long, so she had to fly. Somehow.

Page 227, Line 3-8:
Noah was listening, and he was also studying her face as she spoke. The passing resemblance to that picture of his mother was almost gone now that she'd ceased to maintain it. That likeness had been subliminal at best, just enough to hook into his subconscious. But now, as they say under the bright fluorescent lights of a Queens diner, he realized that there was absolutely no denying who Molly did look like. [emphasis original]

If you're not breaking out in a cold sweat at this point, you either don't know what a colossal fuckup Noah is, or still think the authors put any effort into this book at all.

Page 227, Line 9:
And that gave him an absolutely brilliant idea.

I really, really doubt that. Noah and brilliant ideas are like the square root of negative one- possible in theory, and even useful for abstract reasoning, but imaginary none the less. But, imaginary or not, that's the end of the chapter.

Now, I could go on to the next chapter now, but I won't. Partly, this is because I'm lazy. Partly it's because the next two chapters are pretty long and scrunching the next one together with this one wouldn't work out well. But mostly it's because Noah's idea is so brain-searingly, gut wrenchingly moronic that we just have to be able to dedicate a whole episode to it. Really. So, come back next time when we discover what Noah's brilliant plan is, and marvel at the fact that he didn't need someone smarter to come up with it for him. Like, I don't know, a fifth grader who still eats paste.

See you then!

* Unless, that is, there were a Waffle House nearby. I freaking love Waffle House.



Blogger Ken Houghton said...

"the bright fluorescent lights of a Queens diner"

That is the first--and we can only hope last--time that phrase will ever be used.

BRIGHT fluorescent lights? The whole effing place is about to lose its lights, because they're all just about to burn out, like William Shatner in that episode of The Six-Million Dollar Man?

Otoh, I think of Noah as i as appropriate: a small letter denoting a wacky idea that makes sense only in certain contexts. Necessary for continuity, but of no real interest in and of itself.

Oh, and the nearest Waffle House to the Buccaneer Diner is about 77.5 miles away, in Bethlehem, PA. So you're, er, safe.

Friday, September 30, 2011 9:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Jay said...

Being searched and harassed by the TSA is not a prelude to detention. Searching and harassing is what the TSA does, roughly 16 hours a day. If they actually tried to detain everyone they searched and harassed, they'd have to send every single plane to GITMO.

Friday, September 30, 2011 10:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Jay said...

The authors seem to think the previous events were a romance. They met, they flirted, there was heavy-handed but oddly unspecific political conversation in a bar, she took him home to the safehouse to meet the other members of her cell, she drugged him, then they were in love.

I don't care how big her tits are, love does not work that way. People who try to make love work that way go to jail. Deservedly.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011 9:12:00 AM  

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