Friday, October 29, 2010

Radio Shakesville

New Podcast:

Halloweentown

Here is a link to the podcast blog where you can download the show.

You can also play the show in a pop-up.

Tracklisting:

Electric Hellfire Club: Halloween
Siouxsie & the Banshees: Halloween
Panic! At The Disco: This Is Halloween
Dead Elvi: The Creature Stole My Surfboard
Little Tibia and the Fibias: The Mummy
Frankie Stein and His Ghouls: Be Careful, It's My Throat
Dynamite Magazine presents Count Morbida's Chamber of Horrors
Phyllis Diller: You're Different
Oingo Boingo: Weird Science
Clear Static: Dead Man's Party
Kidz Bop: Monster Mash
Book of Love: Tubular Bells
David Byrne: A Walk In The Dark
Phantom Piano
Tones On Tail: Movement Of Fear
Dead Can Dance: Carnival Is Over
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark: The Lights Are Going Out

The show is available via Feedburner.
The RSS is here, if you need it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

(Everyday Is) Halloween



Ministry: "(Everyday Is) Halloween"

The Overton Window: Chapter Twenty

Is it wrong that I feel relieved, that I feel thankful, that this chapter is only two pages long? "Once you've paid five dollars for a gallon of gas, three-fifty suddenly sounds like a real bargain." Yeah, and once you've read all twelve pages of chapter nineteen, the scant two in chapter twenty is like a Tuesday night rimjob.

The other nice thing is that we've made it more than half-way through the book, page number wise. This must be what Lewis and/or Clark felt like crossing the Continental Divide. It's all downhill from here. No doubt, in more ways than one.

This chapter is another cab ride. There's a lot of movement in this book. In taxis. In limos. On planes. Down halls. Up elevators. As if to suggest the story is going somewhere by virtue of the characters doing so. It's a cheap visual trick employed by filmmakers all the time. Unfortunately this is a book, not an episode of Criminal Minds.

The cab ride is nothing more than a short, silly conversation between Noah and Molly. Of course, there's the requisite proselytizing along the way. Noah suggests there was no clear indication when the NWO was going into effect, not in the Powerpoint. It's happening as they speak, according to Molly. How can she tell?

"The economy is crashing, Noah. There's no net underneath it this time. That's why they're rushing through all this stimulus nonsense, both parties. All the cockroaches are coming out of the woodwork to grab what they still can. It's a heist in broad daylight, and they don't care who sees it anymore. That's how I know.

"They've doubled the national debt since 2000, and now with these bailouts, all those trillions of dollars more—that's our future they just stole, right in front of our eyes. They didn't even pretend to use that money to pay for anything real, most of it went offshore. They didn't help any real people; they just paid themselves and covered their gambling debts on Wall Street." She looked at him. "You asked how I know it's happening now? Because the last official act of any government is to loot their own treasury."

Got all that? Good. I have just one question: When Molly says "that's our future they just stole," what exactly does she mean? The bailout and stimulus money was her/our future? How so? Okay, obviously she was being more philosophical. I just don't know what the philosophy is. It doesn't seem to mesh with the whole bootstrappy Libertarian viewpoint to say the government owed her some sort of future.

Noah offers to help Molly and her mom, no strings attached. He's rich. He'll be okay.

"You're wrong—you won't be okay. No one will. If they accomplish half of what we saw on those screens then money won't protect you. Nothing will."

Ummm... what? So if Darthur puts the New World Order into effect, Noah is hosed how exactly? Darthur won't protect his only son? What's he going to do? Put him to work making cogs in a cog factory in Cogtown? Huh? I don't even understand this book at all. I really don't. It soooo badly written, so poorly thought out, it doesn't hold up to even the smallest amount of scrutiny.

Especially literary scrutiny:

After a time her clasp on his hand tightened for a few seconds, but it didn't really feel like affection. It was more like the grip a person might take on the arm of the dentist's chair, or the gesture of unspoken things an old love might extend at the end of a long good-bye.

Huh? Oh, who cares...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Caligula

This is a jumbled, disjointed mess of a movie. It's a random collection of scenes interrupted by random sections of pornography. How Peter O'Toole and John Gielgud ended up in this I don't know. At least Helen Mirren and Malcolm McDowell can blame it on youthful naïveté, but the elder thespians should have known better.

When Bob Guccione calls you up, says he's making a movie and asks you to be in it, your instincts better be warning you. And if they're not, then your manager or agent should be.

Here is the story: Caligula becomes emperor, humps his sister, and then is murdered by his own soldiers. In between all this there is rape, sodomy, fisting, torture, murder, necrophilia, and tons of shitty dialogue. The sex is graphic, the sets elaborate, but the film is, ultimately, rather dull and completely incoherent.

It's one thing to be in a crappy porno flick, it's another thing altogether to be in a crappy porno flick with pretensions it's a grand piece of art.

The orgies, the fisting, the intrigue, it becomes all rather pointless without any proper context in which to frame it. Unfortunately the film is slapped together in such a way that it's difficult to know what is going on or why, though I suspect that all may be beside the point.

As a historical drama Caligula is a failure. One cannot watch this and expect to learn anything, let alone be entertained. As porn it fares even worse, lacking eroticism, instead wallowing in its depravity. What titillation there may have been suffers from being surrounded by all the violence and degeneracy.

Avoid this one like a go-go boy with crabs.

Directed by Tinto Brass & Bob Guccione • Unrated • 1979 • 156 minutes

The Overton Window: Chapter Nineteen

Ah, chapter nineteen! You're a cornucopia of ideas. Most of them silly, some of them nonsensical. In good news, that cover image is finally explained. So that's something, right?

But before that big reveal, we've some nonsense to wade through.

Last chapter Molly had walked out on Noah and "all but disappeared into the river of weekend tourists and theatergoers flowing through the heart of Times Square." But now the two of them are back together, sneaking into Doyle & Merchant.

Because "weekend work was one of the many things his father frowned upon" Noah is forced to take the secret entrance into the office. Did I mention back in chapter five Darthur's hatred of watches? I don't think so. Let me do it now:

In 1978 an account executive had checked her watch during Arthur Gardner's heartwarming remarks at the company Christmas party. She’d looked up when the room got quiet and had seen in Noah’s father’s eyes what time it really was: time for her to find another job, in another city, in another industry. By the following Monday the unwritten no-timepiece rule was in full and permanent effect.

Huh? Okay, anyway. No clocks. No work on weekends. So Molly and Noah have to sneak in the office's back door.

A private elevator led to Arthur Gardner's suite of offices on the twenty-first floor, and that was the way they'd be going in.

The elevator had originally been an auxiliary freight lift, largely unused until its luxury conversion when Doyle & Merchant established their New York offices here in the 1960s. There was only one wrinkle in the layout: the ground-floor entrance to this elevator had to be located on the next-door tenant's property, which was currently a multilevel, tourist-trendy clothing store.

Ummm... okay. Darthur engineered the overthrow of Guatemala but can't con Heinrich's into moving out of their sublet to make way for his private elevator? Or was it intentional of Darthur to have his secret entrance near the belts and socks of the department store? Is this supposed to be the thrilling part of the thriller? Skullduggery among the Dockers?

It's another of those strange little details. Saying Molly and Noah took a freight elevator up to bypass security would have sufficed. But instead there's all this silliness about the elevator being at another address.

They ride up the elevator and Molly thanks Noah for breaking into the office. He replies "I'm not really speaking to you right now." Aww, how cute. Because he speaks to her to tell her he's not speaking to her. You crazy kids!

Noah gets philosophical:

There was only one way to warrant a blatant breach of business ethics such as this, and that was to attribute his actions to a higher cause. If Molly was right, then a cute but quirky mailroom temp had identified a grand, unified, liberty-crushing conspiracy that had been hatched in the conference room of a PR agency. The benefits of learning that would easily outweigh the consequences: forsaking his father's trust and violating the ironclad, career-ending nondisclosure clause of his employment contract. After all, with the fate of the free world in the balance, the prospect of getting fired, disowned, and probably sued into debtor's prison should be among the least of his worries.

I guess if you're willing to suspend disbelief that "a grand, unified, liberty-crushing conspiracy had been hatched in the conference room of a PR agency" then the rest of this book will be easy to swallow. Me, I just can't get past the ridiculousness of it. Then again, I can't get past how a dirty look translates into "no clocks, not here, not ever."

The elevator reaches the top and the two slink into Darthur's office. It's a swank, well lighted place, "a shrine to the very real forms of happiness that money could actually buy."

Molly paused at the sight of one thing.

"What is this?" she asked.

She was looking at a marble sculpture on a pedestal in the corner. Noah's father had commissioned it years ago. The figure depicted was a strange amalgamation of two other works of art: the Statue of Liberty and the Colossus of Rhodes.

Okay, so that's the cover:


The Statue of Liberty meets the Colossus of Rhodes. Which means what exactly?

"It's the way my father looks at things ... at people, I mean: societies. The law may serve some superficial purpose, but it only goes so far," Noah said, touching the spear in the statue's left hand. "At some point the law needs to be taken away and replaced with force. That's what really gets things done. People ultimately want it that way; they're like sheep, lost without a threat of force to guide them. That's what it means."

So, Darthur is a fascist. No surprise there. I mean, he's going to establish the New World Order or whatever. I don't get really how Liberty plus the Colossus symbolizes the effete nature of law and the will to power. But I guess that's what Wikipedia is for.

There is more walking down halls until they reach "the locked AV booth, where the presentation files were stored". There some espionage shit as Noah accesses some "coded folders on the computer" and starts up the Powerpoint again. And blah blah blah it's the same old shit from earlier.

Now, here's something I don't quite get. Either Noah knows about the NWO or he doesn't. He claims not to. But wasn't he right there in the room when Darthur laid it all out in chapter three? I started second-guessing myself. How could he have sat there in the room and then claim ignorance about the whole affair. That would make no sense. (Yes, I know, I know.) So I went back and looked at chapter three again, thinking maybe I misread it.

Nope:

"Because we must, we will finally complete what they envisioned: a new framework that will survive when the decaying remains of the failed United States have been washed away in the coming storm. Within this framework the nation will reemerge from the rubble, reborn to finally take its rightful, humble place within the world community. And you," he said, looking around the table, "will all be there to lead it."

"The misguided resistance that still exists will be put down in one swift blow. There'll be no revolution, only a brief, if somewhat shocking, leap forward in social evolution. We'll restore the natural order of things, and then there will be only peace and acceptance among the masses."

That's pretty straightforward shit there. Either Noah is a liar (PR weasel!) or he has gummi worms for brains. It makes no sense that Noah would lie about the NWO plan then sneak into his own office to reveal the plan to Molly. But it also makes no sense that he doesn't in fact know about it. What the fuck was the point of him burying that leaked memo in chapter three if he wasn't fucking involved in the conspiracy?

It's all down to poor storytelling, I know. Speaking of which:

"Who was in this meeting, do you know?" Molly asked.

Ummm.... From the previous chapter:

"I know there was a meeting at the office yesterday afternoon," she said, lowering her voice but not her intensity. "I saw the guest list on the catering order. I know who was there."

Poor storytelling, like I said.

There are more exciting Powerpoint slides. Like this one:

The heading was "Framework and Foundation: Toward a New Constitution." No names accompanied the headings that followed, only the areas of government that each new attendee supposedly represented.

• Finance / Treasury / Fed/Wall Street / Corporate Axis

• Energy / Environment / Social Services

• Labor / Transportation / Commerce / Regulatory Affairs

• Education / Media Management / Clergy / COINTELPRO

• FCC / Internet / Public Media Transition

• Control and Preservation of Critical Infrastructure

• Emergency Management / Rapid Response / Contingencies

• Law Enforcement / Homeland Security / USNORTHCOM / NORAD / STRATCOM / Contract Military / Allied Forces

• Continuity of Government

• Casus Belli: Reichstag / Susannah/Unit 131 / Gladio / Northwoods / EXIGENT

Noah asks what Casus Belli means. Molly explains "It means an incident that's used to justify a war." Also, Reichstag? Are you fucking kidding me? I guess once can never pass up the opportunity to make an allusion to the Nazis.

More slides. Because nothing is quite so thrilling as Powerpoint. Or passwords.

A security dialog popped up, and with a vocal sigh Noah entered his override password. If anyone ever checked to see who'd accessed these files and when, this would be another nail in his coffin. An hourglass indicator appeared, along with the message: Please Wait ... Content Loading from Remote Storage.

Note the plot point: If anyone ever checked to see who'd accessed these files and when, this would be another nail in his coffin. Whoops! I suspect someone will be checking.

Molly had left her seat and walked a complete circuit of the round room, looking over the various headings on the screens. She stopped by his side, pointing out a bracketed rectangle that enclosed part of the illustration on the slide in front of them.

"What's that box?" she asked.

"It's called the Overton Window."

Two explanations in one chapter! In fact, that's the entirety of the cover explained. Well, almost the entirety. The part that reads "A Thriller" is still a fucking mystery to me.

What follows is a long, and boring, discussion about the Overton Window and airline security and anarchy and "complete top-down Orwellian tyranny" and the media with a little bit of speechifying thrown in for good measure. Noah sums up:

"We put a false extreme at both ends to make the choices in the middle look moderate by comparison. And then, with a little nudge, you can be made to agree to something you would never have swallowed last week."

Which, I guess, is how you end up with that liberal Patriot Act.

And I apologize in advance for this next quote. I really hadn't intended to force you into reading so much of this dreck. But there was just so much in these paragraphs I couldn't not share it with you:

"We never let a good crisis go to waste, and if no crisis exists, it's easy enough to make one.

"Saddam's on the verge of getting nuclear weapons, so we have to invade before he wipes out Cleveland. If we don't hand AIG a seventy-billion-dollar bailout there'll be a depression and martial law by Monday. If we don't all get vaccinated one hundred thousand people will die in a super swine-flu pandemic. And how about fuel prices? Once you've paid five dollars for a gallon of gas, three-fifty suddenly sounds like a real bargain. Now they're telling us that if we don't pass this worldwide carbon tax right now the world will soon be underwater.

"And understand, I'm not talking about the right or wrong of those underlying issues. I care about the environment more than most, I want clean energy, I want this country to recover and be great again, people should get their shots if they need them, and Saddam Hussein was a legitimate monster. I'm saying opportunists can attach themselves to our hopes and fears about those things, for profit, and this is one of the tools they use to do that. The question to ask is, if they've got a legitimate case for these things, then why all the lying and fabrication?"

I'm not going to unpack most of that. I'm too tired to bother. And you're all smart enough to do that without my guidance. But I am going to point out that one galling bit of irony that is laying there like a steaming turd in the snow: "Opportunists can attach themselves to our hopes and fears about those things, for profit."

Yeah, Beck, Opportunists certainly can attach themselves to our hopes and fears for profit. You'd certainly know a thing or two about that, wouldn't you? I mean, what would you call The Overton Window if not an opportunistic attempt to wring cash from your paranoid fanbase by playing on their fears?

More speechifying follows. About Al Gore and Goldman Sachs and Enron and blah blah blah. And more Powerpoint. And more bullet-points:

• Consolidate all media assets behind core concepts of a new internationalism

• Gather and centralize powers in the Executive Branch

• Education: Deemphasize the individual, reinforce dependence and collectivism, social justice, and "the common good"

• Set beneficial globalization against isolationism/sovereignty: climate change, debt crises, finance/currency, free trade, immigration, food/water/energy, security/terrorism, human rights vs. property rights, UN Agenda 21

• Associate resistance and "constitutional" advocacy with a backward, extremist worldview: gun rights a key

• Quell debate and force consensus: Identify, isolate, surveil opposition leadership/threaten with sedition—criminalize dissent

• Expand malleable voter base and agenda support by granting voting rights to prison inmates, undocumented migrants, and select U.S. territories, e.g., Puerto Rico. Image as a civil rights issue; label dissenters as racist—invoke reliable analogies: slavery, Nazism, segregation, isolationism.

• Thrust national security to the forefront of the public consciousness

• Finalize the decline and abandonment of the dollar: new international reserve currency

• Synchronize and fully integrate local law enforcement with state, federal, and contract military forces, prepare collection/ relocation/ internment contingencies, systems, and personnel

Interesting, no, the points like "Quell debate" or "Thrust national security to the forefront"? I seem to recall lots and lots of talk during the previous administration about how True Patriots didn't criticize the President during a time of war. Why, anyone who did that was a traitor! That wasn't something out of the Liberal Playbook. That's standard rightwing rhetoric. Does Beck think his readers are stupid? Does he think no one remembers that? Who was it that thrust national security to the forefront? It sure wasn't the Left who were in charge after 9/11.

Oy. I almost feel sorry for Beck's fans. Almost.

There is one final slide, set to go into effect. In three days! "Casus Belli." Oh noes!

The Mummy



Little Tibia and the Fibias: "The Mummy"

Monday, October 25, 2010

No, That's Not What You Think It Is



[Click image to embiggen.]

Meet The World's Largest Gummy Worm. Yum!

Three pounds, 128 times bigger than a traditional gummy worm, 4000 calories, 5" circumference, made in the USA, from delicious gummy liquid. It's also ribbed, for some reason.

There's a video at the link, which I haven't seen. Diabetics should, presumably, avoid viewing.

[Via Andy.]

Wait & See



Diamond Rings: "Wait & See"

Friday, October 22, 2010

Today In Publishing News



Here's The Situation: A Guide to Creeping on Chicks, Avoiding Grenades and Getting in Your GTL on the Jersey Shore by Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino, Gotham Publishing, 144 pages.

[Via Michael K.]

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Overton Window: Chapter Eighteen

Chapter eighteen is notable for two reasons. First, it opens with a single word. A paragraph unto itself:

Bacon.

Secondly, Noah and Molly get their first kiss:

Molly looked into his eyes, and what he saw in her was a perfect reflection of a wanting that he also felt, so there was no delay of invitation and acceptance. It was a different sort of desire than he'd known before, an understanding that something now needed to be said that no language but the very oldest could possibly convey. He bent to her, closed his eyes, and her lips touched his, gently, and again more urgently as he responded. He felt her arms around him, her body yearning against his in the embrace, a knot like hunger inside, heart quickening, cool hands at his back under the warmth of his jacket, searching, pressing him closer still.

Still with us? Good. I wouldn't blame you if you'd given up after that. My only hope here is that there is no sex scene waiting for us down the road. Because if it's anything like the kiss, it's going to be brutal. I promise you, if there is a sex scene, I will warn you ahead of time. You've my word on that.

Anyway, back to the opening paragraphs.

Bacon.

Scent appeals to the most primitive of the five basic senses. Unlike a sight or sound or even a touch, an aroma can rocket straight to the untamed emotions with no stops required at the smarter parts of the brain. You like it or you hate it; that's the designed-in depth of raw stimulation the nose is built to deliver. So amid all the other deeper thoughts that should have come to Noah's mind upon awakening, it was bacon that crowded them out to come in first across the finish line.

I'm going to need your help here. I can't make heads or tails of this sentence: "Scent appeals to the most primitive of the five basic senses." What is the author saying here? That scent appeals to our sense of smell? I'm pretty sure most of us know that. Even if I didn't know that, I think I'd pretty easily deduce that scent does not appeal to one's sense of hearing. Or is he saying the sense of smell is the most primitive of the senses? If that's what he meant, maybe that's what he should have written. Because "scent appeals to the most primitive of the five basic senses" is nonsensical, no pun intended.

The rest of the paragraph ain't exactly Dostoevsky either, what with all the rockets of raw stimulation and whatnot going on there.

So, Molly has made Noah breakfast and the two of them sit in the sunroom (huh?) and enjoy a moment with the NYT Sunday crossword. Noah knows lots of big words and Molly soundlessly mouths letters as she writes. I guess this is characterization.

Then Molly drops the proverbial bomb. (Real bombs later.)

"I've been meaning to talk to you about something," Molly said. She got up and took his empty plate and silverware to the sink.

"Okay. Let's talk about it."

"I'm not going to be in town very much longer."

"Why?"

I'm just not. There were some things I wanted to do here, and I've done them now, so I'll be leaving."

What? What things did she have to do? Get arrested? Hang up flyers in Noah's office? Go to a Libertarian poetry slam? And she's been meaning to tell him since when? Since they got out of jail? Since he woke up and ate her bacon? Huh?

Nevermind.

Molly cleans up the kitchen and asks about something Noah has framed in the apartment. He describes it as "a penmanship exercise, from the fifth grade, dad's favorite poem."

It wasn't quite right to say it was his father's favorite poem; more like the old man's justification of his life set in verse. He'd directed his young son to study it so he'd always know the way things really worked in this world.

Noah picked it up, let his thumb brush the dust from the corner of the glass, and read each metered line aloud.

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled,
and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled
and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters,
and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up
to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future,
it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain
since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit
and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger
goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished,
and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing
and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us,
as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings
with terror and slaughter return!

Ummm... Okay. I'm no poet laureate or anything, so I'm not going to pass judgement on the piece. Rudyard Kipling wrote it, and he's respected as a writer, and aside from that I know next to nothing about him. He wrote Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, and that cartoon used to give me the heebie jeebies as a kid, so this poem seems to fit.

Noah and Molly discuss the poem.

"And what do you think he was telling you with this, your father?"

"He told me the poem meant that history always repeats itself, that the same mistakes are made over and over, only bigger each time. The wise man knows that if you can't change that, you might as well take full advantage of it. But to me it meant something else. It's a warning, I guess, about what happens when you forget common sense. I think it means that there really is such a thing as the truth, the real objective truth, and people can see it if they'll just look hard enough, and remember who they really are. But most of the time they choose to give in and believe all the lies instead."

I see. Really. I do. Darthur's philosophy is that history repeats itself. Not exactly profound or anything. But Noah is sure there is more to the world than that: there is Truth to be seen, if only everyone would look. I guess there are worse philosophies to adhere to.

I think my favourite part here is how Molly's sole purpose has developed into facilitating Noah's Awakening. And cooking bacon. Nice. She's there to serve. Perfect, Beck, just perfect.

After breakfast, Molly and Noah go for a walk in Times Square. Like they're in a Meg Ryan movie.

They'd talked some along the way, though for the most part it had been a quiet walk. But there was nothing tense or self-conscious in those wordless stretches. He found himself at ease in her company, as if a conversation was always in progress, only spoken in other forms. She stayed close to him, at times with an unexpected gesture of casual intimacy: an arm around his waist for half a block, a finger hooked in his belt loop as they crossed a busy street against the light, a palm to his cheek as she spoke close to his ear to be heard over the din of the traffic.

See? Just like a Meg Ryan movie. And like a Meg Ryan movie, the two kiss in Times Square. (EIther there or Central Park, right? Because those are the only two places in NYC.) See above if you'd like a replay.

If this were a movie, do you think Molly would be played by Meg Ryan? The role seems against her type, but I bet Sarah Michelle Gellar would be up for it. That being said, I am positive Tom Hanks would not be Noah. Maybe Hanks' weird little cousin, Colin.

With everything to see and hear around them there at the very crossroads of the world, soaring billboards, scrolling news crawlers, bright digital Jumbotrons that lined the tall buildings and blotted out the whole evening sky, it all disappeared to its rightful insignificance, flat as a postcard. That place was left outside their small circle, and if asked right then he might have stayed there within it forever.

It was a really good kiss. I think that much can be said. Noah really really likes Molly. I really really dislike the author of this dreck.

Then it starts raining again and the couple ducks into a coffee shop to warm up. As they are sipping their Folgers Gourmet Selections (with Flavor Crystals™), Molly asks Noah for some advice. She wants to know what the PR whiz would do if the teabaggers were to hire him.

"What is it you want to accomplish again?"

"We want to save the country."

Noah thinks for a while and basically tells Molly that the teabaggers need to get their shit together. And through him Glenn Beck basically tells the teabaggers to their shit together. Noah tells Molly they need a platform.

"Start with the tax code, since your mom is so passionate about that. How about a set of specific spending cuts and a thirteen percent flat tax to start with? Get that ridiculous sixty-seven-thousand-page tax code down to four or five bullet points, and show exactly what effects it'll have on trade, and employment, and the debt, and the future of the country. And I'm winging it here, but how about real immigration reform? The kind of policies that welcome people who want to come here for the right reasons, and succeed."

Ah yes. A flat tax! That'll fix everything. Know what else fixes things? Bullet points! And immigration reform. The kind that lets people into the country for the right reasons, like being white!

"And what did you mean, save the country, by the way? Save it from what?"

She looked at him evenly. "You know what."

Heh. Yooouu know! Seriously, these are adults? These are adults trying to save this great nation from the talon grip of the NWO? No. Adults don't talk like that. Has the author ever spoken to another adult? I don't think he has.

She clarifies, sort of.

"I know there was a meeting at the office yesterday afternoon," she said, lowering her voice but not her intensity. "I saw the guest list on the catering order. I know who was there. I know you were in it. And I think I know what it was about."

"Okay, yes, big surprise, there was a meeting, but I wasn't there for all of it. And do you want to know something else? I don't even know what it was all about, so how could you?"

"Then let's both find out."

Okay, so the NWO might be undone by a catering order? These are the people who have spent fifty years implementing a plan to take over the world, or whatever, and they can't keep the menus out of the hands of spies? "Oh em gee, John Aschroft ordered a tuna melt! Do you know what this means?!" Actually, I don't know what that means. He always seemed more the egg salad type to me anyway.

Molly demands Noah prove her wrong. What? Prove what? You haven't said anything!

"Let's go right now and find out."

"I can't do that."

"Yes, you can. We'll go to the office right now, and you'll show me that I've got nothing to worry about. If that's the case then that'll be the end of it."

Okay, this is straight getting on my nerves now. What the fuck is she expecting to find? The plans for the NWO right there in the offices of Doyle & Mer­chant? It's not like there was a Powerpoint and a hand-out explaining everything. Whoops! That's right, there was a Powerpoint and a hand-out explaining everything. Okay, so even if there was, why can't Noah just bring home a copy? And why can't a VP visit the office on Saturday? It seems like someone in his position would have run of the place, no questions asked. Oh well, not that it matters anyway.

Molly gets a little creepy too and tries to blackmail Noah. What the fuck is with everyone in the fucking book? What a bunch of manipulative, mendacious turds. Even the people we're supposed to like are assholes. This whole book is garbage.

"Do you want me to leave?" Her voice was tight and there were sudden tears in her eyes. "Do you never want to see me again? Because that's what this means."

So. Yeah. Molly. Blackmailing a man you know has feelings for you. A man you just kissed. Now you want him to break into the offices of the NWO, like Old Mister Bullet-In-The-Head Churchill, and do I don't know what exactly, or you'll split. Wow. Everyone in this book is a douche.

"That is so incredibly unfair," Noah says. And rightly so. But it's too late. She's out. And Noah is left alone in a Times Square coffee shop. (Bubba Gump's? I hope it was Bubba Gump's.) And it's then that Noah decides what he must do.

If he's going into the office on a Saturday, I'm not going to be impressed. I've done that very thing countless times, and I'm not even a VP trying to stop the New World Order.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cosmic Love



Florence + The Machine: "Cosmic Love"

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Overton Window: Chapter Seventeen

Oh, chapter sixteen, how I miss you. You made so much sense. I thought, with you, I understood what was going on. But no. Now I am lost. Chapter seventeen came along and ruined everything with its lack of coherence.

Danny and Kearns are on a private jet, on their way to a meeting with some militiamen. Militiamen intent on committing "a grotesque act of domestic terrorism." Kearns is an undercover agent. Danny is his bait.

I guess this all ties back into those missing nukes. But I thought Darthur's PR firm had those. Is the militia a cover group for Darthur's firm? If so, why do is Danny needed "to lend a crowning bit of credibility to the proceedings"? Suppose the militiamen really are just a bunch of terrorist douchebags intent on setting off a bomb in some U.S. city? Then why is Kearns portrayed as such a douche when his efforts to stop them are pretty fucking noble?

Last chapter, it was pretty clear Kearns was an asshole for coercing Bailey into waiving his rights and turning snitch. In this chapter Kearns is little more than a spoiled doofus.

Stuart Kearns took a pack of Dunhills from one jacket pocket, his lighter from another, then reclined his seat a notch and lit up. He inhaled deeply, then blew a thin white ring of smoke and watched it drift up toward the rounded cabin ceiling.

"What are you doing?"

Danny Bailey had awakened from his nap and was staring at the lit cigarette across the narrow aisle as though he were watching a bank robbery in progress.

"You can still smoke on a charter. On this one, anyway." Kearns extended the pack to him, shook a filter tip halfway out. "Come on, you know you want to."

Come on, you know you want to? Yeah, that's how adults talk to one another. I love how Kearns smokes Dunhills. The only people I ever knew who smoked Dunhills were me and my homo pals (and Liss). I don't think it's an accident that Kearns' brand of choice is an expensive, fashionable brand, rather than Camels or Lucky Strikes. Yeah, he smokes faggy cigarettes and blows smoke rings: what a stooge!

Danny is, of course, all business here. He doesn't cotton to Kearns breaking FAA regulations. Which is odd, for a rabble rouser with such a dislike of The Man and his Rules.

Backstory:

Several years ago, Kearns had the FBI set up a website, www.stuartkearns.com, and began posing as a disgruntled whistleblowing ex-agent. He'd been, according to his cover story, "run out of his job when he'd tried to blow the whistle on some dangerous truths." With his knowledge of Dangerous Truths and access to the FBI's database of Very Bad Things, Kearns became a "household name" in militiamen circles.

Kearns is described here as "ex-fed-turned-Patriot." Interesting, no, the notion that one can't work as an employee of the government, as a federal agent, and be a patriot? Ah, well, maybe that's how the militias see it, and not Beck. Except every character in the book has spent the last 125 pages lambasting every aspect of government.

Anyway...

A new discussion group had formed in a private chat room on the site, under the heading of "Direct Action." The members began to kick around the logistics of the Oklahoma City bombing, Tim McVeigh's attack on the Murrah Federal Building in 1995: what had gone right, what had gone wrong, and the various conspiracy theories still swirling around the event and its aftermath. With some encouragement from the forum leader the discussion evolved—some half-baked plans that would've gotten the job done better, other vulnerable targets, men, methods, and materials. Many dropped out of the conversation as things got more serious, but eight stayed on.

This remaining group progressed to tentative voice chats and then to encrypted e-mail exchanges, all the while inching their way from what had started as a mere discussion toward a solid plot that could actually be executed. Three more anonymous participants eventually got cold feet and dropped out, leaving five people ready, willing, and able to commit a grotesque act of domestic terrorism.

So Kearns lures five people into his fictitious plot to set off a nuke. And now needs Danny to help him close the deal, as it were.

Danny Bailey would be brought along to the first in-person meet-up, to lend a crowning bit of credibility to the proceedings; he was currently the closest thing the Patriot underground had to a national spokesperson. In essence, Bailey would play the Oprah to Kearns's Dr. Phil.

I don't know about you, but these militiamen sound like dopes. They're falling for this? Okay then. Thank maude they're stupid, is all I can say.

Danny isn't too keen on playing along.

"These aren't my people," Bailey said. "You've gotta be kidding me, man, I've never told anybody to do any violence—"

"I've watched your videos, son, and you don't exactly tell them not to, either."

"Aw, come on." Bailey sat back in his seat, shaking his head. "I've got to go over the top just to get people up off the couch. Have any of you guys ever actually read the First Amendment?"

It's nice that there is some rationalization thrown in along the way. All's fair in Patriotism™ and infotainment where the First Amendment is concerned. Good to know, Beck.

Now, the author uses this moment to indulge in some faction. Blending fact, with fiction. Or, pulling-a-Law-and-Order, as we like to call it, ripping off a real news story and passing it off as his own.

Kearns asks if Bailey's ever done any acting. Bailey whips out a photo of himself dressed as Col. Sanders shaking hands with Ali Treki, president of the UN General Assembly.



"That's me." Bailey pointed to the man standing next to him in the photo. "And that's Mr. Ali Treki, the president of the UN General Assembly, receiving an official state visit from the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, who'd been dead for almost thirty years at the time. It was a publicity stunt for my DVD on UN corruption, United AbomiNations. It's sold out, but I'll see if I can get you a copy."

"I'll add it to my Netflix queue."

Except that in real life, this was a publicity stunt pulled by KFC, to promote their new grilled chicken sandwich. I don't know why the author chose to glom onto this factoid and weave it into the fine fabric that is this story. I guess maybe he just liked it.

I'm thinking we'll find out that Hollis sang Chocolate Rain too. Or Noah was the techno Viking. Or Darthur is goatse. Us fans of faction can only hope.

All that would certainly be less confusing than what's actually going on.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Just FYI



Cornel West was in The Matrix. The third one, I think.

Ur So Gay

I was playing around in the app store on my phone this weekend when a great idea came to me. Why don't I see what gay-themed apps might be available? Whoops!

I discovered no less than six apps under the gaydar monicker. (Gaydar 3000, Gaydar 2.0!, GAYdar+, to name a few.) And what do these products do? They're all the same, more or less.

To wit, the description from Gaydar Pro:

Are you Gay? Are your friends Gay? With Gaydar Pro you can easily find out! Tilt your phone towards the target and the meter will go full on Gay Crazy! Scan their Thumb print to detect their level of gayness. Use Homo-Recognition to take a picture of the gay target and watch the rainbows take over! Send picture to friends!

OMFG, that is soooooooooo hee-larious! HA ha ha! Ur a total gaywad! Because there is nothing funnier than calling someone a fag! Oh, my aching sides!

Okay, I know. It's just a joke. I should lighten up. No one ever got hurt by being called a homo, right? Right?

(p.s. This is a good gaydar app, at least from the description.)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hey Nerdz!

Dear nerdz, wyzzards, LARPers, mathrockers, and technocrats:

You need one of these:


It's a magic wand TV remote control! Wingardium Leviosa! This piece of Old-World-Craftsmanship- (it's made by hobbits!) -meets-the-Technological-Age (made by hobbits in factories!) can learn (like a robot!) up to thirteen "commands"! Such as: Changing the channel, adjusting the volume (both up and down!) and I don't know what else!

Only $89.99!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Speaking of Stupidity

...And ignorance. And bigotry:



This obnoxious billboard appeared in western Colorado this week. It depicts four caricatures of President Obama as a suicide bomber, a pimp (I think), a bandito, and a homo.

The four "Obamas" [are] sitting around a table with playing cards showing only sixes bunched in groups of three.

Also on the table is a copy of the Declaration of Independence, a liberty bell, a toy soldier and a statue of Justice holding a balance.

Beneath the Obama caricatures are numerous rats, some of which are labeled as the IRS, trial lawyers, the EPA and the Fed. Sitting above all that is a line, "Vote DemocRAT. Join the game," which is positioned between two vultures, one of which is labeled the U.N. and the other with the name Soros.

It's absurd. Really. It's practically a fucking parody. Like that theory that says after a certain point you can't differentiate between real conservatism and a satire of conservatism. ("Poe's law!" - bgk.)

Local Democratic Party Chairwoman Martelle Daniels said: "It's beyond disrespectful. You would like to think that we all would show respect for our commander-in-chief, but this is just beyond that. It's racist, it's homophobic, and it's really cowardly."

Republican Party chair Chuck Pabst: "It's reprehensible and disrespectful, and that's not what any honorable person would put forth. To ridicule somebody in this manner is juvenile."

Area politcal cartoonist Paul Snover, who created the image, said "I am not allowed to say who (paid for it) at this time. If it had been me, I would have included the Republicans as part of the problem."

Okay then.

He also said the image was designed to "get people to think a little deeper." Think what exactly?

I'm certainly not thinking too highly of your racist, homophobic billboard.

As an aside, I'll note the story's headline: "Caricatures are racist and homophobic, local Dems say." Really? I mean, there is no way that's not, objectively speaking, racist and homophobic. What's with the obsequity? No one writes a story and says "The rain was wet, according to some douchebag." That shit is just wet. The way that billboard is just racist.

The Overton Window: Chapter Sixteen

Part Two, here we are. Wasn't Part One thrilling? Not so sure? Let me recap:

There was lots of walking. In the rain. Down hallways. We were treated to no less than four speeches. There was a cab ride. Someone was murdered. (And never mentioned again.) There was a Powerpoint. There was a Toby Keith reference. Blackwater thugs walked the streets of New York City. Cops raid the Stars 'n Stripes pub. There's a lawyer, then a limo ride. And chicken and waffles. And "total horndog" Elliot Spitzer. Noah warns Molly "don't tease the panther."

If anything could be described as thrilling, maybe it's Noah's run-in with Blackwater. Or maybe the raid on the bar. And quite possibly, in the hands of a competent author, these events would have been. Unfortunately, our ghostwriter is not a very good one.

In no one's hands would Darthur's speech be compelling reading. Nor Beverly's. Nor Danny's. Nor Noah's. There is nothing inherently thrilling about the Federal Reserve. Or Social Security. Or Carrol Quigley. Or home schooling.

The story thus far is this: PR whiz Darthur Gardner is about to implement his plan to replace the U.S. government with a "new structure". His son, Noah, also a PR whiz, has fallen for a teabagger named Molly. That's it, more or less.

Molly, Molly's mother, Noah, and about 300 teabaggers are arrested on trumped up charges then released. Überteabagger Danny goes missing. Molly and Noah go home together, but not in that way.

That's Part One.

In Part Two, chapter sixteen, Beck and company get back to basics: Nothing much happens. We do get a new character. Yay for new characters!

Federal agent Stuart Kearns shows up at The Tombs to interrogate Danny Bailey. Yes, I know I said he was dead. Turns out he's not. He was just whisked away (is that an expression? whisked away?) to a "a cage full of the worst serial offenders this venue had to offer" instead of the holding tank with all the other teabaggers.

Kearns arrives at the jail and sits around waiting for Bailey to be brought in. This gives the author an opportunity to share Kearns' backstory and describe the furniture and lament bureaucracy for several pages.

While waiting, Kearns pulls out Bailey's rap sheet (do they still call them rap sheets?) and we get Danny's backstory as well. Good times.

This was an abridged version of the FBI file for the young man he was about to see. The guy was a marshmallow, he'd been assured, and by a covert order he'd just spent a long hard night in a cage full of the worst serial offenders this venue had to offer, so he would certainly be softened up even more by this morning. With luck, once a deal was on the table there wouldn't be too much time wasted in negotiation.

At this point, we're not supposed to know who Kearns is waiting to see. It's clearly meant to be a surprise when it's finally revealed. Danny's name isn't mentioned for quite some time, but, jebus, on the page prior Molly was saying Danny had gone missing. So who in the hell else would this be? Or were we to have forgotten all about him like Molly thought Noah might have?

Here's the big reveal:

Three corrections officers approached the open door with a heavily shackled prisoner in their charge. He could barely walk on his own, either from the effects of heavy fatigue, the abuse he'd obviously taken from his cellmates overnight, or both.

They brought him in, sat him down across the desk, cuffed him to the chair. The guy's head was hanging, chin to his chest. Without the arms of the chair holding him upright he'd probably have slumped right to the floor.

"Daniel Carroll Bailey?"

Insert music sting here. Bum-bah!

Oh, yes, gentle reader, look on, with shock and horror, how cocky young Mr. Bailey has been brought low by his night in The Tombs.

Okay, back to Bailey's rap sheet. Some coke busts. Tax problems. Caught with "a modest grow operation and a trash bag full of premium bud." (Premium bud! HA!) He rolled over on someone in that one, and Kearns hope to use Bailey's snitchy tendencies against him.

The latest entries concerned evidence gathered through recent home and business surveillance warrants, highlighted transcripts of a monitored ham-radio show, and a list of some videos he'd produced that were now circulating through the Patriot culture on the Internet. Hate speech/counterterrorism was the box that was checked on his first wiretap request, but the latest such authorization had been requisitioned by three cooperating divisions, as abbreviated in the margin: DC-JTTF, NM-DTWG, NM-WMDWG.

The Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Domestic Terrorism Working Group, and the Weapons of Mass Destruction Working Group. The last two offices were based in New Mexico.

Uh oh. Remember those missing nukes from the prologue? This thing is finally starting to tie all the pieces together. It looks like Danny's involved in that missing bomb business.

Or... maybe not!:

Based on this file and, more important, based on Stuart Kearns's own long experience in the field, this little guy didn't seem like he'd ever been much for the government to worry about. It was almost as though they decided years ago that they were going to get him, but they hadn't yet known exactly how. He didn't seem dangerous, only outspoken and troublesome.

Damn! I knew it! Danny's a troublemaker and a patriot! The government is out to get him! Like all patriots! The government hates patriots! Or something.

Okay, I need to tell you something. I have a headache. And I think this chapter is making it worse. So I am just going to wrap this thing up post-haste.

Danny has been roughed up in jail. He wants his lawyer. Kearns says that's cool. You can have your lawyer but...

If you decide to go that route I want to warn you. This is from a high authority, the highest; in fact with your past record, your charges from last night, and especially"—he patted the folder in front of him—"the evidence from an ongoing federal investigation, the best any lawyer's going to get you is fifteen to twenty years in a place much worse than this. That's a fact.

Kearns assures Danny that he is the only one that can help him.

Oy. So, what do you think? Will Danny squeal on his teabagger friends? Or will Danny fake squeal and pull a total double-cross on the Feds? I'm voting the latter.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bedtime For Kitties



Potter curls up on the bed.

900 miles away, Juni does the same.

Glee To Do The Timewarp Again


I've never seen Glee. But I know you have. I guess they do themed episodes where they re-enact famous musicals and then release a new CD every week? Right? Who knows! I know you know. But I don't. Anyway, they're doing a Rocky Horror show this month. Yay for Rocky Horror! TV Guide has some exclusive photos from the set.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Injunction Issued on Don't Ask Don't Tell

A federal judge has issued an injunction to end Don't Ask Don't Tell, effective immediately.

Judge Virginia Phillips ordered that the military "immediately to suspend and discontinue any investigation, or discharge, separation, or other proceeding, that may have been commenced" under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

The U.S. Department of Justice has sixty days to appeal.

Radio Shakesville

New Podcast:

A Grand Day Out

Here is a link to the podcast blog where you can download the show.

You can also play the show in a pop-up.

Tracklisting:

Moondog: Bird's Lament
Ha Ha Tonka: This is Not a Cure for the Common Cold
Los Straitjackets: Swampfire
Cowboy Junkies: This Street, That Man, This Life
Randy Newman: Baltimore
Hugo Winterhalter: My Isle of Golden Dreams
Liza Minnelli: Rent
Irmin Schmidt: Shudder Of Love
Crime & the City Solution: The Adversary
Florence + the Machine: My Boy Builds Coffins
Spiders from Mars: Red Eyes
James Daniels: Danny's Big Speech
The Call: Turn A Blind Eye
David Bowie with Queen Latifah: Fame '90
The Pink Panther: It's Punk
The Partridge Family: I Can Feel Your Heartbeat
Brigitte Bardot: Tu Veux Ou Tu Veux Pas?
Horst Jankowski: Pink Balloon
Elvis Presley: Without Love (There Is Nothing)
Tom Jones: I (Who Have Nothing)
Travis Tritt: Burning Love

The show is available via Feedburner.
The RSS is here, if you need it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Overton Window: Chapter Fifteen

I don't understand Glenn Beck. I don't understand this book. I don't understand his characters. Or maybe, I don't understand Glenn Beck's relationship with his characters. Because he doesn't seem to like them all very much.

Which is okay, if you're Bret Easton Ellis and your characters are supposed to be unlikeable dipshits. But Molly is our heroine. Why is Beck playing her as a goggle-eyed rube while at the same moment lambasting nefarious (and nameless) elites for viewing his precious teabaggers as goggle-eyed rubes?

They got out at the corner, and as Noah signed off with the driver, he saw Molly standing there on the sidewalk, looking all around as if she'd just stepped off the last bus from Poughkeepsie, taking in the ritzy sights of the Upper East Side.

"Is that where you live?" she asked, pointing.

"No, not there. See those flags? That's the French Embassy."

So Molly is too stupid to tell the French Embassy from Noah's swanky apartment building? But she knows the truth about Freedom and Patriotism? Maybe because she's a Real American she doesn't give two fucks about the French and their Socialist embassies. Or something. Incoherence, thy name is Beck. Though, it's not just outside that Molly is agog: "The instant he'd keyed them inside, Molly took off to explore, marveling at the panoramic floor-to-ceiling view, running from room to room like a toy-starved moppet cut loose in FAO Schwarz."

Also, douchebaggery, thy name is Beck. Backing up a bit to the elevator ride to the twenty-third floor:

They walked inside and made their way across the ornate lobby to the elevator bank. As the double doors were closing a hand reached in to stop them. They reopened to reveal a lanky, fiftyish man in a blue jogging suit. He was flush from a morning run, a rakishly handsome fellow with dark, thinning hair and sharp blue eyes. He thumbed his numbered floor button and those blue eyes gave Molly a leisurely, detailed once-over, which she seemed just barely able to coolly ignore. When the elevator stopped and opened at his floor, the guy glanced to Noah with a subtle nod before he departed, a man-to-man stamp of approval indicating their shared good taste in fine feminine company.

As paragraphs go, that one is pretty fucking awful. Fine upstanding patriot is ogled by Noah's pervert neighbor. Sheesh. Really, on top of the writing ("fine feminine company") it's tasteless, offensive. It stopped me in my tracks, the objectification of our supposed heroine. And somehow, it manages to get even worse with the next few lines. Read it again:

They walked inside and made their way across the ornate lobby to the elevator bank. As the double doors were closing a hand reached in to stop them. They reopened to reveal a lanky, fiftyish man in a blue jogging suit. He was flush from a morning run, a rakishly handsome fellow with dark, thinning hair and sharp blue eyes. He thumbed his numbered floor button and those blue eyes gave Molly a leisurely, detailed once-over, which she seemed just barely able to coolly ignore. When the elevator stopped and opened at his floor, the guy glanced to Noah with a subtle nod before he departed, a man-to-man stamp of approval indicating their shared good taste in fine feminine company.

The doors hissed closed again, leaving the two of them alone.

"Was that who I think it was?" Molly asked.

"Eliot Spitzer."

"The governor. Of New York."

"Former governor. And maybe you noticed just then, if you hadn't already read about him in the papers, that he's also a total horndog."

No. Fucking. Way. Right? This isn't possible, is it? This is not actually a book that someone wrote, someone else edited, some company published. Along the way someone created a cover (someone created several covers, actually), and someone typeset it, and there were marketing meetings and sales conferences about it. This shit was printed and bound and boxed up and loaded onto trucks and shipped to book stores all over the country and clerks at shops everywhere unpacked those cartons and put the books on shelves. This. This book. All of that happened with this book. With its paragraph about Elliot Spitzer being "a total horndog."

Sit down and think about that for a while.

Okay. Molly and Noah shower (separately) and head to their beds and things just get worse. I know I keep saying things get worse, but they do. They really do. Whenever I think this book can't possibly get any more awful, it somehow manages to. I mean, logically, you'd think, at some point, we'd reach the nadir and things would turn around. "Hey, that was horrible, but at least it wasn't as bad as chapter nine!" But no. There is some force at work here making each chapter exponentially worse, like a Fibonacci sequence of hack writing.

Sitting in bed after 24+ hours awake, Noah attempts to read himself asleep, but is interrupted.

He heard a soft knock from the hallway, looked over, then sat up a little straighter when he saw her peeking in.

"Me again," Molly said.

"Hi." He laid his book beside him, holding his page.

"I used your phone. I hope that's okay."

"It's fine, anything you want."

"I was calling about Danny. Remember him? Danny Bailey, from the bar?"

"Yeah. I wish I didn't, but yeah."

"Nobody remembers seeing him after the raid, and he wasn't with the rest of us at the police station. I called around to see if anyone had heard from him."

Hey, Noah, remember that guy whose speech you derailed that ended with you up on stage giving your own speech? Remember him? No? The guy who was awful cozy with your date early in the evening? Not ringing any bells? Oh, oh, I know! He's the guy who was shot at! After which everyone ended up in jail? Remember him?

I hate stupid questions.

So, yeah, plot point, Danny is missing. He's no doubt been abducted by the "contract security forces" the busted up the teabagger rally. I know, I know, I just ruined the upcoming thrill of a later chapter when this is all revealed. I am a bad person. On the plus-side, we don't know if he's dead or not, so there is some suspense in this revelation. Right?

Who cares anyway? Let's find out what Molly is wearing!

The faded jersey was much too big, of course, and she'd gathered the slack and tied it up, leaving a spellbinding glimpse of a taut, smooth waist above the northern border of a lucky pair of his own navy boxers.

Her hair was down, towel-dry and glistening, dark and curly and caressing her shoulders as she walked.

Are you hot? I am totally getting hot just reading that. I'm not really. But Noah is:

"I thought you were going to sleep in the other room."

"Do you mind?"

"No, not a bit. It's just like that time my aunt Beth took me to the candy store and then wouldn't let me eat anything. I didn't mind that, either."

"I'll go if you want."

"No, stay, stay. I'm kidding. Kind of. Just try not to do anything sexy."

Just try not to do anything sexy. Or what? There is nothing quite as charming as being vaguely threatening to a half-naked woman in your bed.

She ran her hands through her hair and stretched again, wriggled herself under the covers, and rolled onto her side with one arm across him, the long, cool silkiness of her bare legs against his skin.

"Now see?" Noah said. "That's what I just asked you not to do."

Okay, let me interject here and tell you nothing happens. Good, bad or ugly. They just fall asleep cuddled up together. But Noah does deliver his now immortal line.

"I'm only getting comfortable." Her voice was already sleepy, and she shivered a bit. "My feet are cold."

"Suit yourself, lady. I'm telling you right now, you made the rules, but you're playing with fire here. I've got some rules, too, and rule number one is, don't tease the panther."

Don't tease the panther. I don't know exactly what that means. Maybe it has something to do with his "outstanding record of success with the ladies." But, basically, it sounded like Noah was threatening to rape her if she got too sexy. I doubt that was what the author intended to convey here, but hey, welcome to Rape Culture. Our hero is a wild animal that can't be stopped once he gets all wound up, and that is supposed to be sexy.

Anyway, Molly kisses Noah (on the cheek) goodnight, and he lies there in bed, "having begun to dream quite a while before he finally drifted away."

And with that, Part One of this thriller draws to a close. I just hope Part Two is more than just Noah's Saturday night at the Knitting Factory. I can't take another night of speeches.

Quote of the Day


"This guy Glenn Beck, I saw him once in New York. I passed by him on the street on Columbus Circle. We just caught eyes for a second, and I literally went, 'Ewww!!'" — Martha Plimpton, to Vanity Fair.

Today In Awkward Scenes From Gay Porn Films



On a discarded truck tire. In a ... salvage yard? Nuclear waste dump? Where is that? And why didn't that guy keep his shoes on?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Radio Shakesville

New Podcast:

Covers

Here is a link to the podcast blog where you can download the show.

You can also play the show in a pop-up.

Tracklisting:

Concrete Blonde: Everybody Knows
Calexico: Fallin' Rain
Aztec Camera: Jump
Morrissey: That's Entertainment
The Pretenders: Creep
Hate Dept.: Effigy
Sparklehorse: Wish You Were Here
k.d. lang: So In Love
The Watson Twins: Just Like Heaven
Two Nice Girls: Cotton Crown
Codeine: Atmosphere
Suede: Shipbulding
Rufus Wainwright: Hallelujah
Robbie Williams: Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye.

The show is available via Feedburner.
The RSS is here, if you need it.
The iTunes feed is temporarily disabled.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

The Overton Window: Chapter Fourteen

In Overton related news:

Way back at the beginning of this series I noted that Beck dedicated Overton to David Barton, founder of dominionist group WallBuilders. Barton is back in the news today, going on record with the decidedly un-Libertarian position that teh buttsex among queers should be regulated by the federal government. No word on how Barton feels about hetero assplay. Specifics on how regulation might work were not available.




Noah finally strolls out of jail, along with all his patriot buddies. Überslick lawyer Charlie really earns his pay.

According to Charlie, a group of cops had eventually come forward to corroborate Noah's version of the evening's events: they'd apparently wanted to play no part in the railroading of this harmless group of like-minded citizens. Just as a minor rebellion was threatening to break out between the actual uniformed officers and the contract security forces who'd been working the scene, a phone call had come in from some high echelon, and right away everything was abruptly and quietly settled.

Phew! I just knew all the cop-hating would not stand. The good, hardworking, honest (white) cops were under the thumb of those Blackwater goons, or whoever the "contract security forces" are. That the cops went along with this scheme, up to and after the fact, until a nosey lawyer got involved, doesn't exactly paint them in the kindest of light. But, just so you know, the cops are not the bad guys. Cops are never the bad guys.

Noah watches his new teabagging friends leave and notes how "the sky was clearing with the soft lights of the predawn metropolis outshining all but the brightest stars." Barf.

Hollis thanks Noah and says he's in his debt. They can call it even if Hollis can just tell him the time.

The big man looked up and seemed to take a bearing on a number of celestial bodies before ciphering a moment. "I'd say she's nigh onto half-past four in the morning, give or take some."

Barf. Again. I'll leave it to you to unpack Beck's boner for the Everyman™.

A silver Mercedes S600 Pullman, waits for Noah, and fortuitously, as he's about to be whisked away, Molly and Beverly appear. Noah, gentleman that he is, offers them a ride home.

The author goes on about how nice the limo is, wanking over the "hand-worked leather and rare polished wood." It's a nice car. "The entire vehicle was a rolling monument to the comforts of First World business royalty."

"I don't always get to travel like this," Noah apologized as the car got under way. "But just for perspective, my dad wouldn't be caught dead in a Mercedes. He rides in an armored Maybach 62, or he walks."

Yeah, for perspective. What? I don't even know what this means. Nevermind. Noah has a fancy limo. Darthur has a fancier limo. It gets more ridiculous:

Noah opened a center compartment by his side. Behind the sliding door was a neat pyramid of Turkish hand towels, kept constantly warm and moist like fresh dinner rolls. With a set of tongs he passed one to each of them, and then unrolled his own and pressed the steaming cloth to his face, rubbed in the heat, leaned back, and breathed in the faint scents of citrus and therapeutic herbs. His riding companions did the same, and soon there were long sighs from across the compartment, the sounds of unrepentant indulgence, comfort, and relief.

Nice limo, nicer towels.

Beverly asks Noah about his work as a lying PR stooge. Noah gleefully details how he "wrote some talking points for a man, a U.S. senator from out west who's about to become the subject of an ethics investigation."

"You've heard it before—there's been no wrongdoing, the charges are baseless, a pledge of full cooperation, faith in the process, a little slam at the motivations of his accusers—short and sweet, because he's so eager to get back to serving the needs of his constituents. Believe me, this sort of thing is routine. It'll be in the papers tomorrow night; that's why I can tell you about it."

Just one question: Why would anyone pay for that service? Because if you're a veteran politician who has managed to make it through the gauntlet of campaigns and debates and elections and closed-door backroom negotiations and committee meetings and filibusters and blah blah blah and then get caught, figuratively or literally, with your pants down, and you haven't the wherewithal to come up with "the charges are baseless" on your own, then it doesn't seem at all likely that you'd end up in office to begin with.

Just saying.

Anyway, Beverly asks him if it bothers him doing that for a living. (Lying, I think; not ripping off dildobrains by charging them for talking points they could have thought up themselves.) Yes, it bothers Noah if he thinks about it, so he doesn't think about it.

The limo drops Beverly off at the Chelsea, which seems a little boho for such a conservative woman, if you ask me. I may have mentioned this before, but I am pretty sure the writer has never been to New York. It's like his only reference for the city was a Rough Guide. It reads with such inauthenticity, as if someone whose never been to a big city is imagining what New York might be like.

It reminds me of an anecdote I once read about Truman Capote. He was living in New York at the time and he had a friend in from back home in Monroeville. One morning he asked his guest where they'd like to go for breakfast. "Tiffany's!" they blurted out. That was the only business the guest new by name in New York. Nevermind that they don't actually serve food at Tiffany.

I just imagine the ghostwriter thinking to himself, "The Chelsea is a hotel in New York, right? I can have Beverly can stay there. Yes, authenticity!"

Noah and Molly sit in the limo as it drives aimlessly through the city. Molly first confesses she misjudged Noah then confesses she's hungry.

"Say no more." Noah touched the intercom. "Eddie, could you take us up to Amy Ruth's, on One-hundred-and-sixteenth? And call ahead, would you? I don't think they're open yet. Tell Robert we need some orange juice and two Al Sharptons at the curb." Through the glass divider, he saw the driver nod his head and engage the Bluetooth phone system.

Yay for soul food! Boo for dragging Robert out of bed to cook for Noah!

Backstory alert!:

On the way to the restaurant he learned a little more about her life. Her family had moved around a great deal when she was young, following her father's job as a journeyman engineer for Pratt & Whitney. They'd ended up living near Arnold Air Force Base outside Manchester, Tennessee. When her dad was killed in an accident at the testing facility there, that's where they stayed. Her mother then reclaimed her maiden name and started the patriot group they were both still a part of, the Founders' Keepers, a few years later.

Clenis alert! Changing the subject, Molly asks "Who's the most fascinating person you've ever met?"

He didn't hesitate. "President Clinton. Hands down."

"Really?"

"All politics aside, you've never seen so much charisma stuffed into one human being. And you brought up the subject of lying earlier—this man could keep twenty elaborate, interlocking whoppers in his head at a time, improvising on the fly, and have you believing every word while you're holding a stack of hard evidence to the contrary. His wife might be even smarter than he is, but she doesn't have any of that skill at prevarication, and Gore was pretty helpless if he ever dropped his script. But Clinton? He's like one of those plate spinners at the circus: he makes everything look completely effortless. And obviously, in a related skill, he's a total Svengali with the chicks."

"I never found him all that attractive."

"Oh, but it's a whole different thing when someone like that is right next to you, as opposed to on your TV. If he was sitting here now, where I'm sitting? I promise, you'd be helpless. He wouldn't even have to try. You'd listen to him recite from the phone book for an hour and swear it was written by Oscar Wilde. Clinton could read you a fairy tale and you'd be down to your panties by the time Rapunzel let down her golden hair."

"I'll have to take your word for it."

"That being said, he's also one of the most ruthless sons of bitches who ever walked the earth, and we won't see another one like him for generations."

Back in the author's note, Beck said "the words Republican or Democrat rarely appear in this book, and when they do, it’s in an equally unflattering light." Okay. Sure. When this book gets around to calling W. and Cheney the d-bags that they are, I'll believe Beck is a non-partisan man of the people, and not the right wing hack that he appears to be.

Backstory alert! Darthur edition:

"Rhodes Scholar, that's a little-known fact. He was studying anthropology at Oxford when he met a man named Edward Bernays—Bernays was an admiring nephew of Sigmund Freud, if that explains any part of this messed-up business—and Mr. Bernays needed some new blood, someone with my father's skill set, to give a shot in the arm to the industry he'd invented a few decades before."

"Public relations."

"Right. Bernays got his start in the big leagues helping Woodrow Wilson beat the drums to push the U.S. into World War I. And my father's first project with him was a massive propaganda campaign for Howard Hunt and the CIA, along with the United Fruit Company, when they all got together to overthrow the president of Guatemala in 1954."

Did you get all that? Darthur helped overthrow Guatemala's democratically elected government. So he knows what he's doing when it comes to coups.

Speech alert!

Just kidding.

No, really, Noah gives a speech. But I am not going to tell you anything about it. It's a short one. And he references Joseph Goebbels. So, no. I'm not going into it. I've already said more about it than I wanted.

There's chicken and waffles, Noah's backstory (it's a bore), a ride through Central Park. Then things get weird: Molly sits on Noah's lap and asks him to take her home. To his home.

"I'm not talking about anything sexual," she assures him. "I just don't feel safe yet, after last night."

Well, at least that means there will be no sex scene in chapter fifteen. I'm glad something about this chapter went right.

Hit That Perfect Beat



Bronski Beat: "Hit That Perfect Beat"

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Overton Window: Chapter Thirteen

I've talked a fair amount of shit about previous chapters. They were awful; I don't think I was being unfair. The writing really is terrible. The plot nonsensical. The characters flat, inconsistent. The book is, quite simply, garbage.

And as much as I've complained about those early chapters, this one is, inarguably, the worst. Because as ridiculous as everything has been up this point, chapter thirteen is even stupider. In fact, it is so poorly constructed that it's insulting.

Here's what happens: Noah wakes up in Molly's arms, in the back of a police van. The patriots are perp walked past the liberal media. Noah's fancypants lawyers gets the charges against him dropped. But before Noah can leave, he sees all the most radical patrons from the bar standing around the police station having a laugh. Because they were all undercover cops!

Really.

This is, literally, the most ridiculous and unbelievable thing that could have happened. I dare you to come up with something stupider. Can't be done. No Twinkies for you!

He opened his eyes, and found her looking down at him.

It was the wide variety of aches and pains that told him for certain she wasn't a figment of his imagination. His head was resting in her lap, and Molly held him steady as the crowded police van bumped and jostled along the patchy downtown streets.

Noah looked up at her again. "What happened—"

She hushed him with a fingertip to his lips, and he saw that her wrists were bound with nylon ties.

Oh. My. Fucking. God.

Are you gagging? Because I'm gagging. What tripe.

So, yeah, Noah is dragged from the van past "local and network correspondents" and detained with a couple hundred teabaggers, drunks, and male prostitutes. Oh, the humanity!

After a time he saw something that he couldn't begin to understand; he must have been mistaken. The man from the back of the tavern, the one with the gun, was being escorted from an adjacent cell. He wasn't in handcuffs or restraints of any kind. He was just walking along with the officers toward the exit.

What?!? No! Not the gunman! He's just walking out of jail! How could this be? Oh, yeah, he was clearly an agent provocateur! Duh! (And jebus, I need to lay off the exclamation points for a while.)

Eyeing Noah's "gold class ring from Riverdale Country School," the cops pull him from the cell and take him to be interrogated. The interviewing officer even gets a short speech. Yay for speeches!

He tells Noah he is "going to get on a big bus with some armed guards and take a ride to central booking at the Manhattan Detention Complex—most people call it the Tombs. Over there they'll get your mug shots, your DNA and your fingerprints, and then you'll be formally charged and arraigned in the criminal court and bound over for trial." Blah blah blah. It's painfully boring.

The officer tries to play Good Cop/Bad Cop all by himself, hoping to get Noah to squeal. Not that Noah has a chance. The family lawyer arrives before Noah can open his mouth.

Charlie Nelan was one of those old-school, silver-haired überprofessionals who swore by the power of image. No matter where you happened to see him, he always looked as though he'd just stepped out of the "Awesome Lawyers" issue of Gentlemen's Quarterly. Fortunately, he was every bit as sharp as he looked.

Slick Charlie tells the cop "I want my client released, and his charges dropped, and I want that arrest report in the shredder." And to further his point, the officer's captain calls at this very moment. The cop takes the call and Nelan drags Noah down the hall. It's there that Noah sees something unbelievable. Well, honestly, it's not believable, if you understand the distinction.

Out in a common area, a dozen or so men were gathered together having coffee and a collegial chat with some uniformed police. He stood and stepped closer to the glass, trying hard to believe his eyes.

In this surreal gathering was every heckler, every troublemaker who had made himself apparent during the speeches at the bar. Every one of them was dressed similarly, the differences being confined to the inflammatory slogans on their clothing and their selection of cracker-chic accessories. When scattered among a larger group they'd been harder to spot as co-conspirators, but all together like this, with their guard down, their costumes were obvious and their mannerisms out of character. It looked like the after-party of a Larry the Cable Guy stunt-double audition at Central Casting.

One of them matched a picture in Noah's memory to the very last detail. He was sure this time: the man was wearing a loud flannel shirt, a hunter's vest, a do-rag torn from the corner of a Confederate battle flag, and a shoulder holster.

So, yeah, the agitators? All undercover agents. They were at the rally to stir up shit, to cause a riot, to bring down the average in Noah's outstanding record of success with the ladies. Noah is freaked out by this revelation.

Which is odd, don't you think? All of it is. Again, going back to Noah's' earlier professed ability to spot an infiltrator, he missed all of the undercover cops. And he just spent the afternoon in a meeting about implementing the New World Order, and he's stunned to see it taking place. Noah's fancypants prep-school education obviously didn't buy him any critical thinking skills.

Nelan tells Noah he's pulled all the strings he can, and if he "so much as jaywalks" there is nothing he'll be able to do. Noah doesn't care.

"Those guys, right out there"—Noah pointed through the glass, and Charlie looked briefly in that direction—"they were at this meeting tonight, where all this happened, and they were there specifically to start something. When they got tired of waiting for the people to get violent they did it themselves."

"Let me see if I understand you. You're saying that you think an undercover New York City police officer discharged his weapon in a crowded bar to incite this whole incident?"

Nelan says it doesn't matter if he did. Noah disagrees. Because he's becoming a Better Man. "That guy right there, the one with the visitor's badge and the holster under his vest, that's the guy who fired the shots that started all this!" Oh, the humanity!

Noah refuses to leave. "Not without everybody else who was brought in with me." (To hell with the drunks and rent boys!) Nelan complains about opening "this can of worms again" (huh?) and says he won't be able to do anything without Darthur's say-so.

That wasn't welcome news, but Noah took a deep breath and nodded his permission.

Oh dear. Daddy issues. Very thrilling. Less thrilling: Everything else.

Why Does Joe The Plumber Hate Puppies?

Joe The Plumber, the Tea Party, and the Alliance For Truth have taken on the most evil of evil organizations. (No, not NAMBLA.) I'm talking about The Humane Society. Yes, the evil, despicable, free-market-hating Humane Society.

Proposition B or the "Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act" ... aims to help eliminate the "3000 puppy mills" in Missouri that constitute "30% of all puppy mills in the U.S.," according to Michael Markarian, the Chief Operating Officer of the HSUS.

The Alliance For Truth (HA!) will have none of that and are fighting back against this "radical agenda." Or, as spokesdouche Joe The Plumber says, the propsed bill is "taking our constitutional rights away."

Oh, okay.

Good to know Joe The Plumber and the Tea Party are moving forward on their pro-puppy kicking platform. Nice

Quote of the Day

"Learning about the suicide deaths of Tyler Clementi, Seth Walsh, Asher Brown, Billy Lucas and Justin Aaberg has been heartbreaking for me. These young people were bullied and tormented by people that should have been their friends. We have a responsibility to be better to each other, and accept each others' differences regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ability, or religion and stand up for someone when they're bullied."Daniel Radcliffe, discussing the Trevor Project with MTV.com.

Extreme Baby Carrots!

Extreme Baby Carrot Commercial

Monday, October 04, 2010

The Overton Window: Chapter Twelve

Pencils down.

Okay, so how did you do? I asked last chapter if anyone could guess what exciting thing would happen next. Did any of you guess "Another speech"? If so, give yourself a Twinkie, because you're a winner! Yes, this is the third chapter in a row with a speech by one of the characters. Will the thrills never cease? That was rhetorical. Well, maybe not rhetorical so much as sarcastic.

Noah hopes to be ignored, but Bailey zeroes right in on him. "Well, well, well. Looks like we've got a junior ambassador from the Ivy League among us." Yeah, damn elite! Who invited him anyway?

He's coaxed up on stage by Bailey. "I doubt if you can tell us much about the Constitution or the Founding Fathers, but maybe you can enlighten us with a little racist, communist wisdom from a real hero ... like Che Guevara."

Che Guevara was a racist? That's not rhetorical. Really, if someone knows, please drop a link in comments.

Noah finishes his beer and takes to the stage. And for three pages explains how the teabaggers will never, ever win. They are correct in their paranoid conspiracy theories, but that isn't going to help them any.

"I want to start off by saying," Noah began, adjusting his voice to make the most of the sound system, "that because of my job I'm in a unique position to know for certain that most of what's been said here tonight is absolutely true."

The crowd quieted down considerably upon hearing this, as he'd assumed they would.

"Let me see if I can confirm some of the speculation from earlier speakers ... The Federal Reserve isn't federal at all: you're right, it's basically a privately owned bank, a cartel that loans you your own money at interest, and its creation was the beginning of the end of the free-market system."

I mentioned back in chapter three that I really did not understand the Darthur character. Half of what he said was pure Beckian philosophy, and the other half was Beck's paranoid fears. But now I've got it figured out. Of course, this should have been obvious from page one, but maybe I was being overly optimistic with the writing here.

Darthur and Molly and Noah and Danny and every other person in this thriller isn't really a character at all. They are certainly not fleshed out in any meaningful way. But it's not just lazy writing. No, the characters are here not to move the story along, to develop, to interact with one another, but to mouth Beck's words, to impart his paranoid worldview like puppets in some weird Libertarian Guignol.

"The United States was built to run on individual freedom, that's true, but because you've let these control freaks have their way with it for almost a hundred years, your country now runs on debt. Today Goldman Sachs is the engine, and in case you haven't realized it yet, the American people are nothing but the fuel."

See what I mean? That's just Beck. It doesn't read at all like a character who just pages ago claimed that "talking politics" was "kind of a waste of time." Noah continues:

The Committee of Three Hundred exists. And the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission, the Club of Rome—they all exist. And they are globalists; they're wealthy and powerful beyond anything you can imagine. All of them together really do run things in this world, just like you say they do. There's nothing secret about those societies, though. No hidden conspiracies: they do what they do right out in the open.

Oh my! That paragraph is a conspiracy theorist's wet dream. I think though, the Trilateral Commission reference is a bit dated. Weren't they super spooky back in the Eighties? Well, I guess there can't be a Facebook-quality reference on every page. Relevance is hard, you guys!

The thing I really love about the Noah character is how he serves to legitimize Beck's paranoid theories. He's the inside man that confirms all the horrible things the teabaggers believe is going on are really true. Because the New World Order is one PR campaign away from success: "The place where I work is where all the secrets get told, because they have to tell us their secrets before we can hide them." Okay then.

Then Beck and Noah lay out for the teabaggers their main problem: Their public image:

Noah pointed out a particularly hefty man near the bar.

"Can everybody read what it says on this guy's T-shirt? Turn around so we can see it, big guy; be proud of it. It says, 'Born in the Jew S A.'

"If he's not already an infiltrator or an agent provocateur, then your enemies should hire him immediately. With him standing next to you, who'd ever believe a word you say? At every rally you hold, if you're lucky enough to get the press to cover you at all, he's the one guy who'll get his picture on the front page. If you want to know why you can't get any traction with the other ninety-seven percent of America, it's because you let yourselves be lumped in with people like that."

Fringe elements, the smallest of minorities in the movement, you see, are all that the press will cover. "If you're lucky enough to get the press to cover you at all." Heh. Yeah, I hate how there is rarely mention of teabaggers on the news. If only they had their own news network.

I also love how the idea that the man in the anti-Semitic (is that what it is?) T-shirt may be an agent provocateur. Nevermind that Noah just claimed he could spot an infiltrator without even trying. Beck wants everyone to believe that the particularly scary elements of the teabagger movement are all secretly liberal agents trying to besmirch the good names of the true patriots. Yeah, okay.

Noah points out that "name-calling also works like a charm" too, another trick of the leftist news.

"There's a Birther, and a Truther, two Paulites, a John Bircher, a Freeper, a white supremacist, a pothead, three tea-partiers, and that guy there is the jackpot: a Holocaust denier. From there it's easy to roll you all up together so that no one in their right mind would want to join you. Why would they? According to the network news, you're all borderline-insane, ignorant, paranoid, uneducated, hate-mongering, tinfoil-hat-wearing, racist conspiracy theorists.

If I may point out something: Labelling someone a white supremacist isn't exactly name-calling. Neither is calling someone a Holocaust denier. That's just correctly identifying someone based on their beliefs. Also, "three tea-partiers"? I thought they were all tea-partiers. Now I am so confused. I did, however, like the shoutout to the Freepers. Of course, do I need to note that Freepers is name they've adopted for themselves? I don't think Beck gets this whole name-calling thing.

"There's no respect for you in Washington. They laugh at you. You say you want a revolution? That Constitution the lady was holding up a while ago? It gives you the power to revolt at every single election. Do you realize that in a couple of weeks every last seat in the U.S. House of Representatives will be up for grabs? And the presidency? And one-third of the Senate seats?

"The approval rating for Congress is somewhere around fifteen percent. You could turn the tables and put them all out of a job on that one day."

Again with the mention of the upcoming presidential election. Is this 2008? 2012? 2004? Oh, nevermind, that can't be important, can it? Forget I even asked.

And that's that, essentially. Noah says if anyone wants to punch his lights out, he'll be out front waiting for a cab. Oy.

Did you follow all that? Teabagging patriots are right, there is a conspiracy, but the fringe elements, who may be leftist agitators, are delegitimizing the movement, and the only way to achieve legitimacy and advance the cause, to reclaim the country, is to disassociate the movement from those undesirable elements.

So, yeah, that was Noah's speech. I got tingles just reading it. I didn't really. Now Noah wanders off stage and bumps into Beverly.

"That was quite a speech you gave, and on such short notice," she said.

"Yeah," Noah said. "I've got a gift. Look, I didn't mean any disrespect—"

"You don't have to apologize to me." Her face was kind, her eyes intelligent and alight with that same inscrutable glint that had hooked him so hopelessly during his brief time in her daughter's company. "I think we might have more in common than you realize."

Noah may have something in common with these patriots after all. How nice! And that glint in Beverly's eyes? Awesome. Totally awesome.

Things are about to take a turn now, dear readers. And I want you to be prepared for it. It so ridiculous, so obvious, so by-the-numbers, one would not even consider it a possibility. It's just too absurd to actually happen. But then, this is Glenn Beck's fantasy, and absurdity is what he strives for.

Back in my last post I asked if anyone could guess what exciting thing would happen next, right? Did anyone say "cops in riot gear raid the bar"? If you did, give yourself a Twinkie and a Ho-Ho, because that is some insightful shit you're working right now. Yes, the Stars 'n Stripes is flooded with truncheon-wielding goons who proceed to rough up the patriots.

Noah attempts to leave the pub, but spots some shifty looking goons near the entrance. He makes for the fire-exit. He tries to pull Beverly along with him, but she is lost in the throng of teabaggers. And then:

To describe the next few seconds as a blur would make it seem as if the ensuing events were jumbled together or indistinct, and they were far from that. They passed in something like slow motion, like those graceful shots of a drop of milk splashing into a cereal bowl or a rifle bullet cutting edge-to-edge through a playing card at twenty thousand frames per second. But the trade-off for all that visual clarity was a complete inability to act; Noah could see everything, but do nothing.

I am not a professional writer by any means. And I do understand that to write effectively takes a fair amount of skill, if not some modicum of talent. I imagine writing something truly suspenseful take a mastery of language far beyond that which I possess. Which makes me wonder why Beck didn't hire a ghostwriter with those skills. To say this book lacks thrills is an understatement, and that's problematic, since the words "A Thriller" appear on the cover right under the title.

A slate-gray pistol appeared in a man's hand nearby—a man whom Molly had pointed out earlier as a newer member of her organization. The weapon was drawn down and level toward the stage. There was a flash, and the sonic pressure of a firecracker or the popping of a paper bag too near his ear, and then another, over and over as the crowd surged away from the gunman. The rising sounds of panic, a shower of glass and white sparks as a spotlight shattered in its mount above the stage, the back door banging open, the rush of black-suited officers storming in, a sudden stinging odor like a mist of Tabasco and bug spray, a loud commotion at the far end of the room as another squad in riot gear burst in.

Noah sees Hollis on the floor, victim of a tazering. A "a nearby man-in-black" raises his club to bash in Hollis' head. (And if I may interrupt, I thought Beck and his ilk loved cops. What gives?) It's here that Noah's transformation begins. It starts in an instant:

As the black truncheon swung down Noah reached up and caught the uniformed man by the wrist, stopping him cold with an unexpectedly steely grip toned over years with his personal trainer at the Madison Square Club. It's true what they say: you just never know when all those pull-ups are going to come in handy.

There was no struggle. The other man locked eyes with him, their faces a hand's width apart. Perhaps the man was in the midst of a defining moment of his own. At first he looked surprised, and then incredulous, and then—despite the impressive array of armaments swinging from his belt and the three additional troopers already rushing to his rescue—he looked afraid.

Noah, and the chapter, quickly fades to black, as the truncheon blows rain down on his head.