Monday, March 4, 2013

Coming to Know Left Behind (Biblically)

I'd like to say that Left Behind is the worst novel that I've ever read, but I'm not sure that it even qualifies as a novel. It's more like a bunch of ridiculous Christian propaganda with a story loosely draped around it. So loosely, in fact, that it slips off and gets trampled all over by the raging end times paranoia of the nutty fucks that Christed all over the page.

By the way, while writing this I got tired of repeatedly writing "LaHaye and Jenkins" or "the authors of left Behind" so for simplicity's sake they will henceforth be known as "The Raptards."

Here are the main problems with Left Behind:

1. It's filled with all kinds of ignorant hatred towards Jews.

“Stay in town long enough to come to my church, and God'll getcha.”
“He's already got me, Lucinda. But Jesus is another thing. The Israelis hate Jesus, but look what God did for them." 

Israelis aren't necessarily Jews, and Jews don't hate Jesus. They just disapprove of him because he was a nice Jewish boy who grew up to be a carpenter instead of a lawyer.

Here's Buck's editor trying to sell him on covering a story:

We're talking Jewish Nationalist leaders interested in one world government—”
“Unlikely and hardly compelling.” 

“—Orthodox Jews from all over the world looking at rebuilding the temple, or some such—”
“I'm being overrun by Jews.”
“—international monetarists setting the stage for one world currency—”
“Also unlikely.” 


The Raptards: THOSE BANK LOVIN JEWS R GUNNA TAKE YER GOVMENTS AND STANDARDIZE YER CURRENCIES.
Left Behind fans: This is totally rational. It is not the paranoid ramblings of two bigots in any way. Please write more books!

Jimmy, your two groups—the religious Jews who want to rebuild the temple and the ecumenicalists who want some sort of one-world religious order—are they going to be at odds with each other? Will there be religious Jews—”
“Orthodox.”
“OK, Orthodox Jews at the ecumenical meeting? Because that seems at cross
purposes with rebuilding the temple.” 


The fact that Buck thinks a "religious" Jew is the same as an "Orthodox" Jew has me struggling to understand what Buck's concept of a non-Orthodox Jew is.

Pictured: A joke the Left Behind authors didn't get
 

"... I always called myself a Christian, mostly because I was raised that way and I wasn't Jewish.” 

Is he saying that Christianity and Judaism are the only two religions? Or that ethnic Jews can't be Christian? Either way, I'm pretty sure the Raptards are cow rapists.

2. The authors have no idea how non-Christians think

I'm an atheist. I know many of you reading this are Christian. The following is not a generalization of all Christians, who are largely reasonable people. It's aimed squarely at the two lunatics that wrote Left Behind... Unless what they say strikes a chord with you, in which case yes, I'm talking about you, Christard.

(Rayford) found (the Bible) on the floor, next to the bed. Would there be some guide? An index? Something that referred to the Rapture or the judgment or something? If not, maybe he'd start at the end. If genesis meant “beginning,” maybe revelation had some thing to do with the end, even though it didn't mean that. The only Bible verse Rayford could quote by heart was Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” He hoped there'd be some corresponding verse at the end of the Bible that said something like, “In the end God took all his people to heaven and gave everybody else one more chance.”

If you grew up in Western civilization, you automatically know more about the Bible than Rayford demonstrates here. He is elsewhere described as having been a former churchgoer, not to mention the fact that his wife was a fundie. Yet, he somehow remains completely ignorant about the book of Revelation. That's right, guys - if non-Christians aren't Christian it's just because they have never read the book that comprises the foundation of Western civilization.

Now he was getting somewhere. Who was this who testified of these things, and what were these things? The quoted words were in red. What did that mean? He looked through the Bible and then noticed on the spine, “Words of Christ in red.”

Somehow Ray managed to grow up in America without knowing who Jesus is. That's impressive. You have a real talent for being an ignorant turd missile. I'd say you could restart the Westboro Baptist Church in the wake of the rapture, but they're probably still around.

For years he had tolerated church. They had gone to one that demanded little and offered a lot. They made many friends and had found their doctor, dentist, insurance man, and even country club members in that church. Rayford was revered, proudly introduced as a 747 captain to newcomers and guests, and even served on the church board for several years.
...
When Irene discovered the Christian radio station and what she called “real preaching and teaching,” she grew disenchanted with their church and began searching for a new one. That gave Rayford the opportunity to quit going at all, telling her that when she found one she really liked, he would start going again. She found one, and he tried it occasionally, but it was a little too literal and personal and challenging for him. He was not revered. He felt like a project. And he pretty much stayed away.

According to The Raptards, non-believers are non-believers mainly because of ego. Oh, and because church is hard. I don't know how much more of this cutting analysis I can take, guys!

“For his salvation,” Rayford whispered. “Salvation.” Another ten-dollar church word that had never really impressed him. He knew Irene's new church was interested in the salvation of souls, something he'd never heard in the previous church. But the closer he had gotten to the concept, the more he had been repelled. Didn't salvation have something to do with confirmation, baptism, testifying, getting religion, being holy? He hadn't wanted to deal with it, whatever it was. And now he was desperate to know exactly what it meant.

Rayford somehow missed the entire point of Christianity, every time he went to church, his whole life. And they let this guy fly planes.

Rayford's daughter Chloe is quite skeptical of this whole rapture business and doesn't take to her father's desire to be born again. Rayford takes her to speak with Bruce Barnes, one of the few people at his wife's church to get left behind. Chloe keeps making sarcastic comments about his new faith until:

Bruce Barnes sat back and looked at Chloe, then at her father. “I'm going to ask you something,” he said, turning to her again. “Could you let me tell you my story briefly, without interrupting or saying anything, unless there's something you don't understand?”
...

“I don't want to be rude, but I don't want you to be either. I asked for a few moments of your time. If I still have it, I want to try to make use of it. Then I'll leave you alone. You can do anything you want with what I tell you. Tell me I'm crazy, tell me I'm self-serving. Leave and never come back. That's up to you. But can I have the floor for a few minutes?”
Rayford thought Barnes was brilliant. He had put Chloe in her place, leaving her no smart remark. She merely waved a hand of permission, for which Barnes thanked her, and he began.


This Barnes guy is a truly a rhetorical master. If you use the ingenious debate tactic of asking someone to listen to you, they'll be rendered powerless to counter you until you're finished! 

This also suggests that the only reason atheists don't believe is because they've never heard what Christians have to say. If you live in America, you know why that idea is absurd.

Chloe had gone with him to the church meeting for skeptics the night before, as she promised. But she had left a little over halfway through. She also fulfilled her promise to watch the video the former pastor had taped. They had discussed neither the meeting nor the video.

We never see the church meeting for skeptics or hear Chloe's reaction to anything. We never hear a debate. Isn't that convenient? It's almost as if The Raptards have no fucking clue how atheists think. But that's absurd! They've written sixteen books about it. Sixteen awful, nonsense-ridden books.

Between their house and the airport, they saw more than a dozen homes that had been gutted by fire. Rayford's theory was that families had disappeared, leaving something on the stove.
“And you think this was God's doing?” Chloe said, not disrespectfully.
“I do.”
“I thought he was supposed to be a God of love and order,” she said.
“I believe he is. This was his plan.”
“There were plenty of tragedies and senseless deaths before this.”
“I don't understand all that either,” Rayford said. “But like Bruce said last night, we live in a fallen world. God left control of it pretty much to Satan.”




  
 “Did she also tell you about the end times, Chloe?”
“Sure. All the time.”
“But you still don't buy it?”
“I want to, Dad. I really do. But I have to be intellectually honest with myself.”
It was all Rayford could do to stay calm. Had he been this pseudo-sophisticated at that age? Of course he had. He had run everything through that maddening intellectual grid—until recently, when the supernatural came crashing through his academic pretense. But like the cabbie had said, you'd have to be blind not to see the light now, no matter how educated you thought you were.


According to The Raptards, you'll come to believe if you just stop thinking so much.

Oh, there would be skeptics and those who worshiped objectivity.

Right, skeptics "worship" objectivity. When an atheist stones someone to death because they're not being empirical, you can say we "worship" it, Jenkins.

3. The characters are a bad word I won't say here, but it rhymes with "cunts"

Ray is at home waiting for his daughter to call, and Hattie gives him a ring to tell him her family is alive:

He leaped when the phone rang, but it was not Chloe.
“I'm sorry, Captain,” Hattie said. “I promised to call you back, but I fell asleep after the call I took and have been out ever since.”
“That's quite all right, Hattie. In fact, I need to—”
“I mean, I didn't want to bother you anyway at a time like this.”
“No, that's OK, I just—”
“Have you talked to Chloe?”
“I'm waiting for her to call right now, so I really have to get off!”
Rayford had been more curt than he intended and Hattie was, at first, silent.
“Well, all right then. I'm sorry.”
“I'll call you, Hattie. OK?”
“OK.”
 

Seems like a perfectly reasonable way for Ray to act, considering that he's not sure if his daughter is alive. But Hattie doesn't think so:

She told Buck about her call to Captain Steele and brought him up to date on who Steele was, that he had lost his wife and son, and that she had been late calling him back after hearing her good news from Buck. “And then he just brushed me off because he's waiting for a call from his daughter... And I know he's grieving because it's like his wife and son are dead, but he knew I was on pins and needles about my family, and he never even asked.” 

Jesus, Ray. All you're doing is simultaneously grieving for your family and waiting to find out if your daughter's alive! No need to be a dick to people.

“Captain, it's me again. I'm sorry, I won't keep you long, but I thought you might have tried to call me, and I've been on the phone, so—” 

GET OFF THE GODDAMNED PHONE.


"Hattie actually is a true Christian, but I left her behind because she's such a fucking bitch."
 
".. you can be grateful your daughter didn't get on Pan-Con directly out of Palo Alto. The last one out of there went down last night. No survivors.” 
“And this was after the disappearances?”
“Just last night. Totally unrelated.”
“Wouldn't that have been a kick in the teeth?” Rayford said.
“Indeed.” 


"Ah shucks, my daughter died horrifically. Just my luck!"

“How involved is Jonathan Stonagal?”
“Overtly, you mean?” she said.
“Well, everybody knows he's circumspect. But is there a Stonagal influence?”
“Does a duck have lips?”
Buck smiled and jotted a note. “I'll take that as a yes..."


Because, ducks... have lips? 

“Mr. Burton's body was discovered in his flat this morning. He had suffered a bullet wound to the head. I'm sorry, as you were a friend, but suicide has been determined.”
Buck was nearly speechless. “By whom?” he managed.
“The authorities.”
“What authorities?”
“Scotland Yard and security personnel here at the exchange.”

Scotland Yard? Buck thought. We'll see about that.

"What authorities?" Are you trying to take the alpha retard mantle from Ray? 

Buck took both his real and his phony passport and visa—a customary safety precaution—caught a late flight to London out of La Guardia Friday night, and arrived at Heathrow Saturday morning.

Do the authors seriously think that traveling with a fake passport is a "customary safety precaution"? It can actually net you ten years in prison. The only journalism Buck is going to be doing are gonzo editorials about limp biscuit games.

“We kidded him about being such a klutz.”
“Yeah. So?”
“If he was with us right now, where would he be sitting?”
It suddenly dawned on Buck what Alan was driving at. “He would be sitting to one of our lefts, and he was such a klutz because he was left-handed.” 


... Never heard that before. You sure you guys were born in the 20th century? 

Anyhow, Buck almost gets caught in a car bomb, and he litters his real passport on the ground next to the burning wreckage so that the perpetrator will believe he's dead... Which guarantees that he'll be going to prison after he returns to the US and shows up alive, as the only way he could have done that was with a fake passport.

I mean, he could have gone to the US Embassy and been under the protection of US Marines and a big-ass gate. He could have told the embassy officials that he was almost the victim of a goddamned car bomb and that he needs a little bit of a security detail getting home. Instead, he decides no one will care about a little felony here or there because he's a journalist. Better learn to speed-fap, Buck!

4. It has one of the worst violations of "show, don't tell" in the history of literature

Throughout the book, we're told that the main antagonist, Nicolae Carpathia, is an incredibly charismatic and persuasive individual:

Nicolae Carpathia, a 33-year-old born in Cluj, had in recent months taken the nation by storm with his popular, persuasive speaking, charming the populace, friend and foe alike.

“Carpathia's impressive,” Steve conceded. “He's handsome as a young Robert Redford, and this morning he spoke in nine languages, so fluently you'd have thought each was his native tongue. The media is eating him up.” 

Even from a distance, the man seemed to carry himself with a sense of humility and purpose. His presence dominated the room, and yet he did not seem preoccupied or impressed with himself.

Carpathia addresses the UN in what is described by Buck as "one of the most touching scenes (he) had ever witnessed."

He spoke earnestly, with passion, with a frequent smile, and with occasional, appropriate humor.

Jerry Jenkins: I'm not going to tell you what he said but trust me, it was a really, really good speech! Just imagine what someone who is a really good writer would write. That's what he said.

“In 1944, the year the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank were established, this great host nation, the United States of America, along with the British Commonwealth and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, met at the famous Dumbarton Oaks Conference to propose the birth of this body.”

"Allow me to give the readers the UN delegates a brief history of the UN taken from the first paragraph of Wikipedia."

Displaying his grasp of history and his photographic memory of dates and places, Carpathia intoned, “From its official birth on October 24, 1945, and that first meeting of your General Assembly in London, January 10, 1946, to this day, tribes and nations have come together to pledge their wholehearted commitment to peace, brotherhood, and the global community.”

Are you reading a book report, Carpathia? If so you're going to get an F since there aren't any "tribes" that make up the UN.

He began in almost a whisper, “From lands distant and near they have come: from Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria ... ” He continued, his voice rising and falling dramatically with the careful pronunciation of the name of each member country of the United Nations. Buck sensed a passion, a love for these countries and the ideals of the U.N. Carpathia was clearly moved as he plunged on, listing country after country, not droning but neither in any hurry.

There are 193 member nations in the UN. I shit you not - he is listing every single one of them. To them.

More than five minutes into the recitation, Carpathia had not missed a beat.

Holy goddamn fucking seriously!? Five minutes?!

And there was more, as the Nicolae Carpathia juggernaut sailed on. Over the next half hour he displayed such an intimate knowledge of the United Nations that it was as if he had invented and developed the organization himself. For someone who had never before set foot on American soil, let alone visited the United Nations, he displayed amazing understanding of its inner workings.

Jerry Jenkins: When I say that this speech was amazing I'm not lying! I wish that there someone who could tell you what he said because it was really great. Trust me!

During his speech he casually worked in the name of every secretary-general from Trygve Lie of Norway to Ngumo and mentioned their terms of office not just by year but also by specific day and date of their installation and conclusion... Then he swept through the eighteen U.N. agencies, mentioning every one, its current director, and its headquarters city.

This is absurd. There is no way that the best and brightest of the world would be impressed by this guy reading from the Encyclopedia Britannica. The Raptards are obviously writing characters far beyond their skill level. If you don't think you could give a speech that would leave the entire world in awe, then don't have your character's make one.

 5. Unintentional hilarity, utter nonsense
 
 Dirk Burton had been a reliable source in the past...

"Dirk Burton." That's actually the guy's name. No comment.

And with that he slowly ate his cookies, the smell and taste bringing images to him of Irene in the kitchen, and the milk making him long for his boy. This was going to be hard, so hard.

... There just aren't enough lolz, guys.

Nothing could have been scripted like this, Buck thought, blinking slowly. If somebody tried to sell a screenplay about millions of people disappearing, leaving everything but their bodies behind, it would be laughed off.

And it is.

Though he was already in his eighties and appeared infirm in news photos, he not only owned the biggest banks and financial institutions in the United States, but he also owned or had huge interests in the same throughout the world.  Because rich people can't be old?
How long would it take to make all those crazy connections and finally get on an Ozark flight from Springfield to the Chicago area? He remembered the oldest joke in the airline industry: Ozark spelled backward is Krazo. Only it didn't amuse him just then.

Or anyone, ever. 

The news on TV showed the amazing progress being made at clearing the roadways and getting mass transportation rolling again. But the landscape would appear tacky for months.

Tacky: adj 1. Something unfashionable. raptarded 1. The landscape as it appears after thousands of people have died in traffic accidents. 

Rayford gazed out the front window in the darkness, just in time to see Chloe, one big suitcase on the ground next to her, paying a cabdriver. He ran from the house in his stocking feet and gathered her into his arms.

Rayford is an adult male wearing stockings. I have no idea. 

“Well, what if I decide to become a Christian tomorrow? I'd kind of like you (at church with me).”
Chloe looked at him. “I don't know, Dad. It's not like graduation or something.”
“Maybe it is. I feel like your mother and your brother got promoted and I didn't.”
“Gross.” 


Nope. No fucking clue here, either.

They strolled under a bridge to elude the hot spring sun.

This is in New York City, where the average high during spring is seventy one degrees. Who are these guys, snowmen? Vampires? Gingers? Wait, those last two are the same thing.

And on that note of awful bigotry against Ginger-Americans, I will leave you. More later.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Left Behind: A Lulzy Account of The Rapture

And so it came to pass that the Lord turned the earth into an old-timey globe


Left Behind, if you didn't know, is a fiction series about life in the Tribulation period after the Rapture. If you don't know what any of that is, read about it here.

There are approximately six thousand books in this series. They are written by a jelly donut from the notes of a homophobic mummy.

The first character we are introduced to is one Rayford Steele, which is a name clearly meant to sound distinguished to Left Behind's demographic. You know, morons.

He was the pilot who had once consumed two martinis during a snowy shutdown at O'Hare and then voluntarily grounded himself when the weather cleared. He offered to pay for bringing in a relief pilot, but Pan-Continental was so impressed that instead they made an example of his self-discipline and wisdom.

... By firing him, I hope?

In a couple of hours Rayford would be the first to see hints of the sun, a teasing palette of pastels that would signal the reluctant dawn over the continent. Until then, the blackness through the window seemed miles thick.

It is miles thick. It's called "night," Ray, and it goes all the way into outer space.

For now the plane was a dark, humming sleep chamber for all but a few wanderers, the attendants, and one or two responders to nature's call.

Oh God, what about the pilots?!

"Don't worry, if this fucker takes a nosedive it'll wake us up. Probably."


Rayford reflects on his wife's recent turn to Jesus:

Rayford's greatest fear was that this religious fixation would not fade like Irene's Amway days, her Tupperware phase, and her aerobics spell.

LOL, her Tupperware phase? She should try a more exciting hobby, such as anything. 

Next to a window in first class, a writer sat hunched over his laptop.

We were just talking about Rayford but the story suddenly changed to the other protagonist, Buck, without a new chapter or a space or even some asterisks. This jelly donut really can't write worth a damn.

Both admirers and detractors at the magazine called him Buck, because they said he was always bucking tradition and authority.

I see what they did there! Your co-workers are pretty clever. I bet they're almost funny enough to write for Jeff Dunham. Sarcasm aside, though, that's actually still funnier than Jeff Dunham.

Buck recalls meeting Chaim Rosenzweig, a Nobel Prize winner who was declared Most Jewishly Named Man in the World Man of the Year for Buck's magazine. Chaim found a way to turn desert into fertile soil:

Rosenzweig's formula was fast making Israel the richest nation on earth, far more profitable than its oil-laden neighbors. Every inch of ground blossomed with flowers and grains, including produce never before conceivable in Israel.

Cool, that will solve all kinds of problems around th-

... he was protected by security systems as complex as those that protected heads of state. As heady as Israel became with newfound glory, the nation's leaders were not stupid. A kidnapped and tortured Rosenzweig could be forced to reveal a secret that would similarly revolutionize any nation in the world.

And thus, feed the impoverished masses of the world? Not seeing a downside here. Is this seriously the guy your magazine wants for Man of the Year?

Frustrated at their inability to profit from Israel's fortune and determined to dominate and occupy the Holy Land, the Russians had launched an attack against Israel in the middle of the night. The assault became known as the Russian Pearl Harbor...

Because... America attacked Pearl Harbor?

The Russians sent intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear-equipped MIG fighter-bombers into the region. The number of aircraft and warheads made it clear their mission was annihilation.

So, you want to occupy Israel, and to that end you're going to... annihilate it? And you're hoping to get sensitive information from a lab somewhere in this country that you intend to liquefy? And you're going to send planes and ICBMs at the same time?

Good luck with that. 

The radio was alive with reports from Israeli pilots. They had not been able to get airborne in time to do anything but watch as the entire Russian air offensive seemed to destroy itself. 
Miraculously, not one casualty was reported in all of Israel. Otherwise Buck might have believed some mysterious malfunction had caused missile and plane to destroy each other. But witnesses reported that it had been a firestorm, along with rain and hail and an earthquake, that consumed the entire offensive effort.
...
Jewish scholars pointed out passages from the Bible that talked about God destroying Israel's enemies with a firestorm, earthquake, hail, and rain.

God could have wiped out the invasion force at any time in any number of ways that didn't cause massive loss of life. The ICBMs could have all mysteriously failed to launch. The planes could have all been plagued by electronics failures. Everyone in the Russian military could have suddenly fallen asleep every time they attempted any operation against Israel. But nooooooo... God waited until the last minute.

"LOL explosions are sweet"

Christian friends wanted Buck to take the next step and believe in Christ, now that he was so clearly spiritually attuned. He wasn't prepared to go that far, but he was certainly a different person and a different journalist from then on. To him, nothing was beyond belief.
Not sure whether he'd follow through with anything overt, Captain Rayford Steele felt an irresistible urge to see Hattie Durham right then.


Pick one guy to talk about! ONE!

“People are missing,” she managed in a whisper, burying her head in his chest. He took her shoulders and tried to push her back, but she fought to stay close.
“What do you in—?”


I have no idea what that sentence was going to be. What do you intend? What do you introduce? What do you inbred hicks see in this book? There's no possible sentence that would logically follow there!

“Ray! Their shoes, their socks, their clothes, everything was left behind. These people are gone!”

Do you realize what this means?! Yoda is a fundie!


"Pray out the gay you must. Yes. Hmmm."

It also means that everyone in heaven is butt naked, which is... uhm... kind of gross, actually.


"If thou art faithful thou may enter... unless thy boobs saggeth."

First one, then another cried out when they realized their seatmates were missing but that their clothes were still there. They cried, they screamed, they leaped from their seats.

"Oh my God, why? WHY?! WHY WOULD PEOPLE LEAVE PERFECTLY GOOD CLOTHES BEHIND?!"

He remembered a friend in high school who had a form of epilepsy that occasionally caused him to black out when he seemed perfectly conscious. He might remove his shoes and socks in public or come out of a washroom with his clothes open.

His clothes "open"? If someone said, "Hey, your clothes are open" as I came out of a restroom I would probably scream and kick them in the nuts/labia. Only a schizo trying to accost me would use such a phrase.

“That's not the worst of it, Pan Heavy. People everywhere have disappeared. Orly lost air-traffic controllers and ground controllers. Some planes have lost flight crews. Where it's daylight there are car pileups, chaos everywhere. Planes down all over and at every major airport.”


"LOL, this is awesome."

One report said that so many cabbies had disappeared from the cab corral at O'Hare that volunteers were being brought in to move the cars that had been left running with the former drivers' clothes still on the seats.

That's absurd. Everyone knows Muslims won't be raptured.

He complimented everyone on remaining calm and avoiding hysterics, although he had received reports of doctors on board who handed out Valium like candy.

What are doctors doing traveling with huge stashes of Valium?

In order to get word on what's happening on the ground, Buck rips open the phone in his seat and connects it to his laptop to get email. Hattie notices this and confronts him:

“What in the world are you doing?” she said, leaning in to stare at the mess of wires leading from his laptop to the in-flight phone... "I can't let you sit here and vandalize airline property.”
“I'm not vandalizing it. I'm adapting it in an emergency. With this I can hopefully make a connection where nothing else will work.”
“I can't let you do it.”
“Hattie, can I tell you something?... Wouldn't you like to make contact with someone? If this works, I can reach people who can make phone calls for you, let your family know you're all right, even get a message back to you. I haven't destroyed anything, and I promise I can put it back the way I found it.”
“You can?”
“I can.”
“And you'd help me?”
“Anything. Give me some names and phone numbers. I'll send them in with what I'm trying to upload to New York, and I'll insist that someone make the calls for you and report back to me. I can't guarantee I'll get through or that if I do they'll get back to me, but I will try.”
“I'd be grateful.” 


So Hattie doesn't have a problem with passengers violating air regulations as long as she can benefit from it. I'm just dying to see where LaHaye and Jenkins takes these wonderful characters next.

“Well, do me a favor and consider me part of your crew, too. Just because I can't fly the thing doesn't mean I don't feel some ownership. And don't treat me like a little woman.” 

I'm not sure what treating someone like a little woman is. Getting things off a high shelf for them unnecessarily?

Most shocking to Rayford was a woman in labor, about to go into the delivery room, who was suddenly barren. Doctors delivered the placenta. Her husband had caught the disappearance of the fetus on tape... CNN reran the footage in super slow motion, showing the woman going from very pregnant to nearly flat stomached, as if she had instantaneously delivered.

As anyone who has given birth or been present at a birth knows, the mother's abdomen does not instantly deflate once the baby has been born. Maybe God saw fit to give her washboard abs to make up for the whole baby-snatching thing.

Would he want to live if Hattie Durham were the only person he cared about? And why did he care about her? She was beautiful and sexy and smart, but only for her age.

Only having one person to care about is apparently a reason for suicide. As for that last sentence, I looked up her age on this ridiculous series' wiki and found that she's supposed to be twenty-seven. Jesus Rayford, how old do you like them? How young do you like them? (shiver)

Ideas are like egos—everybody's got one.

"Bitch, please."

Her morning routine included the coffeepot on a timer kicking on at six, percolating her special blend of decaf with an egg.

Her coffeepot needs an egg to make coffee? What the fuck?

He flicked off the radio, which was piping the Christian station's network news hookup into the air, droning on about the tragedy and mayhem that had resulted from the disappearances.

The Christian station is still on the air after the rapture. Oh, the irony.

“Did anyone impress you?”
“Yes!” Rosenzweig had said without hesitation. “From the most perplexing and surprising corner of the world, Romania."

...
“And he was... ?”
“Nicolae Carpathia.”

“Carpathia like the—?”
“Yes, like the Carpathian Mountains.


LOL. I wouldn't be surprised if we find that he lives in a castle and has an irrational fear of mirrors. By the way, Carpathia isn't a Romanian word.

"This man is about your age, by the way. Blonde and blue eyed, like the original Romanians, who came from Rome, before the Mongols affected their race.”

Jesus, I thought I was done with this bullshit after the Da Vinci Code. The original Romanians were Dacian. The Romans did conquer Dacia later, and given the fact that Romans came from all over the fuck I don't see why they couldn't have brought dark features to Dacia themselves. I couldn't find any reference to modern Romanians having dark hair due to interbreeding with the Mongols, probably because it's racist bullshit that nobody cares about. I'm not a historian, though, just a guy with Google trying to substantiate frivolous claims made by a pastry and his partner, The Corpse Who Walks.

I'll end on that note. More to come.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Da Vinci C-OH JUST END IT ALREADY

Well, just finished the Da Vinci Code, and all I have to say is...
 
Teabing really was was the Teacher? What?!

I suspected he would turn out to be the Teacher (the bad guy who orchestrated the murders and wants the keystone for himself) when Langdon first discussed going to him for help, because that's exactly the kind of predictable twist a hackula like Dan Brown would use.


Pictured: a Hackula. Sucks blood/at writing

I discounted that possibility after he entered the plot because his subsequent actions render that twist completely implausible. Teabing is kidnapped by Silas and his traitorous manservant Remy, who also take the keystone. Then, Langdon gets a message from the Teacher demanding a meeting. He reveals himself to be Teabing, meaning that he orchestrated his own kidnapping. He then demands Langdon and Sophie's help in deciphering the cryptex at gunpoint.

Uhm, excuse me, but what the holy shit is going on?

The two of them were already helping Teabing give him exactly what he wanted. Even if he thought they wouldn't be willing to reveal the secret to the world (which was his stated goal), he should have at least used their help finding it, since that's exactly what they wanted to do. Then, once he knew where the grail was located, there wouldn't be anything they could do to stop him from revealing the secret short of killing him. Worst case scenario, he could kill them... once they had helped him find it.

Alternatively, why not just kidnap Sophie and get Sauniere to tell him where the grail is himself? That makes a lot more sense than killing the only four people who know and hoping that they weren't lying or misinformed.

Another thing: What was the big deal with revealing the secret to the world when it had already been revealed?

"The royal bloodline of Jesus Christ has been chronicled in exhaustive detail by scores of historians." He ran a finger down a row of several dozen books.
Sophie tilted her head and scanned the list of titles:
 

THE TEMPLAR REVELATION:
Secret Guardians of the True Identity of Christ

THE WOMAN WITH THE ALABASTER JAR:
Mary Magdalene and the Holy Grail

THE GODDESS IN THE GOSPELS
Reclaiming the Sacred Feminine

"Here is perhaps the best-known tome," Teabing said, pulling a tattered hardcover from the stack and handing it to her. The cover read:
 

HOLY BLOOD, HOLY GRAIL
The Acclaimed International Bestseller

Sophie glanced up. "An international bestseller? I've never heard of it." 

"You were young. This caused quite a stir back in the nineteen eighties. To my taste, the authors made some dubious leaps of faith in their analysis, but their fundamental premise is sound, and to their credit, they finally brought the idea of Christ's bloodline into the mainstream."

So, this secret that would shake the foundations of Christian faith worldwide had already been published internationally, without any impact whatsoever.

But, why should this make any sense? Dan Brown makes the most crazy and ill-informed New Age nutcase look like Richard Dawkins.

"No, Sophie... Saunière is not a Merovingian name."
Sophie wasn't sure whether to feel relieved or disappointed. Earlier, Langdon had asked an unusual passing question about Sophie's mother's maiden name. Chauvel. The question now made sense.
"And Chauvel?" she asked, anxious.

Again he shook his head. "I'm sorry. I know that would have answered some questions for you. Only two direct lines of Merovingians remain. Their family names are Plantard and Saint-Clair. Both families live in hiding, probably protected by the Priory."

And both are made entirely of drooling retards, since that's the only way that all of Jesus' descendants could be limited to two family names. 

Langdon held up his Mickey Mouse watch...

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA... Ok, sorry. To continue:

Langdon held up his Mickey Mouse watch and told her that Walt Disney had made it his quiet life's work to pass on the Grail story to future generations. Throughout his entire life, Disney had been hailed as "the Modern-Day Leonardo da Vinci." Both men were generations ahead of their times, uniquely gifted artists, members of secret societies, and, most notably, avid pranksters. Like Leonardo, Walt Disney loved infusing hidden messages and symbolism in his art. For the trained symbologist, watching an early Disney movie was like being barraged by an avalanche of allusion and metaphor.

I  tried looking for something to validate this, but all I could find were dicks and boobs hidden in Disney movies.

The reason for that mysterious smile? Leonardo isn't wearing any pants.





"In terms of prophecy," Teabing said, "we are currently in an epoch of enormous change. The millennium has recently passed, and with it has ended the two-thousand-year-long astrological Age of Pisces—the fish, which is also the sign of Jesus. As any astrological symbologist will tell you, the Piscean ideal believes that man must be told what to do by higher powers because man is incapable of thinking for himself. Hence it has been a time of fervent religion. Now, however, we are entering the Age of Aquarius—the water bearer—whose ideals claim that man will learn the truth and be able to think for himself. The ideological shift is enormous, and it is occurring right now."

Uh-huh. Right, Teabing, and which university was it that fired you again?

A miracle, Lord. I need a miracle. Silas had no way of knowing that hours from now, he would get one.

Did... Did you just spoil your own book, Brown?

Asking Jacques Saunière to endorse a manuscript on goddess worship was as obvious as asking Tiger Woods to endorse a book on golf. 

Remember when Tiger Woods was famous for golf? I mean literal golf, not the kind of "golf" where you have to make sure you clean your balls before you go home. Uh... Which I guess is also literal golf. Nevermind.

From where Sophie was seated across the table, she could not yet see the text, but Langdon's inability to immediately identify the language surprised her. My grandfather spoke a language so obscure that even a symbologist can't identify it? She quickly realized she should not find this surprising. 

Well, no shit. I mean we're talking ab-

This would not be the first secret Jacques Saunière had kept from his granddaughter.

Oh. I was going to say something about how symbologists can't be trusted to speak on any subject other than how everything is secretly a vagina, but yeah, that too, Sophie.

... Sophie Neveu was light-years out of her league. If a British Royal Historian and a Harvard symbologist could not even identify the language—

Then we can safely conclude that it isn't a code for gods fucking each other.

By the way, it turns out just to be English written in reverse, which says a lot about Langdon's academic rigor; they tell elementary students about how Leonardo wrote in mirror-image cursive just to keep them from eating glue out of boredom.


Not a bold claim considering that most of what he knows is bullshit.

Several years ago, Langdon had attended an event at Harvard's Fogg Museum. Harvard dropout Bill Gates had returned to his alma mater to lend to the museum one of his priceless acquisitions—


Do I sense a patronizing tone coming from Langdon? Yes, Bill Gates did indeed drop out of Harvard because he couldn't wait any longer to start owning you and everything you love. I doubt he has any reason to feel inferior to someone whose greatest intellectual achievement is noticing that the Eiffel Tower looks like a dick. 

The Priory, like many European secret societies at odds with the Church, had considered English the only European pure language for centuries. Unlike French, Spanish, and Italian, which were rooted in Latin—the tongue of the Vatican—English was linguistically removed from Rome's propaganda machine, and therefore became a sacred, secret tongue for those brotherhoods educated enough to learn it.

Yeah, about that. Also, there are a few other European languages not derived from Latin, like German, Swedish, Hungarian, Finnish, Greek, Polish, Russian, Czech, Norwegian, Dutch, Basque, Irish, Welsh, Manx, Albanian, Armenian, Breton, Cornish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Danish, Romani, Slovak, Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian, Macedonian, Bulgarian, Icelandic... I mean, just a couple.

The ancients believed that the male was spiritually incomplete until he had carnal knowledge of the sacred feminine.

I can't really prove this assertion wrong because Brown merely says "ancients," as he does in many places throughout the book. Which "ancients" do you mean? Egyptian? Greek? Sumerian? Indian? Celtic? Any number of thousands of other peoples throughout Africa and Eurasia? 

"Without my femahneen side, I am NUSSINK!"

The Jewish tetragrammaton YHWH—the sacred name of God—in fact derived from Jehovah, an androgynous physical union between the masculine Jah and the pre-Hebraic name for Eve, Havah.

Dan Brown: LATIN CAME BEFORE HEBREW. I KNOW BECAUSE DA VINCI.

"For the early Church," Langdon explained in a soft voice, "mankind's use of sex to commune directly with God posed a serious threat to the Catholic power base. It left the Church out of the loop, undermining their self-proclaimed status as the sole conduit to God. For obvious reasons, they worked hard to demonize sex and recast it as a disgusting and sinful act. Other major religions did the same."

Here Brown is talking about Hieros Gamos. News flash, Danny boy: Christianity is monotheistic. Therefore, a ritual between a god and goddess would be, at best, completely meaningless, and at worst heretical. But it would definitely be totally hot either way.


Zeus playing "hide the tzatziki" with Hera

"Professor Langdon?" A male student in back raised his hand, sounding hopeful. "Are you saying that instead of going to chapel, we should have more sex?" Langdon chuckled, not about to take the bait. From what he'd heard about Harvard parties, these kids were having more than enough sex.

In other words, Langdon doesn't get invited to any parties.

"Go ahead," Teabing said without breaking stride or glancing back. "My lawyers will fricassee your testicles for breakfast. And if you dare board my plane without a warrant, your spleen will follow."

That's... oddly specific. Not liver or stomach or lungs or head or eyes or gallbladder or tongue. No, it must be the spleen.

"It's early on a Saturday," Teabing said, hobbling toward the entrance, "so I'm assuming we won't have services to deal with."

It's a good thing you saw fit to inform the reader other characters about what day it is, Teabing! Inside the church there's an altar boy, and this is his reaction upon seeing Sophie and Langdon:

(Teabing) stepped aside, flourishing his arm toward the attractive couple behind them. The woman was soft-featured, with lush burgundy hair. The man was tall, dark-haired, and looked vaguely familiar. 

Even London altar boys know who Langdon is! Being a Harvard symbologist is like being a rock star, only more obsessed with sex and not as intellectual.

"Robert, no!" Teabing exclaimed. "Don't! That's the Grail you're holding! Rémy would never shoot me. We've known each other for ten—" 
Rémy aimed at the ceiling and fired the Medusa. The blast was enormous for such a small weapon, the gunshot echoing like thunder inside the stone chamber.

I think it's funny when characters do this in works of fiction. "To show my willingness to kill I will SHOOT THIS INANIMATE OBJECT. Presumably this also extends to people so DO AS I SAY."

Nodding tiredly, Collet walked over to the base of the old ladder and grasped the bottom rungs. The ladder was an antique tapered design and narrowed as Collet ascended. As he neared the top, Collet almost lost his footing on a thin rung. The barn below him spun. Alert now, he moved on, finally reaching the top. The agent above him reached out, offering his wrist. Collet grabbed it and made the awkward transition onto the platform.

Oh, the things wrong with this paragraph. First, having him almost slip and fall off the ladder; it's done in movies to show how high and perilous a climb is, but we're talking about a two-story barn here. He might break a leg at worst. Second, "the barn below him spun," which looks like it should be a note in a screenplay for the cinematographer. Third, the entire passage does not do anything whatsoever to help us understand Collet or make the story any more compelling. This space could have been used for more pagan god sex but you wasted it on poorly done dramatic filler. Shame on you, Mr. Brown.

Did Hera find the tzatziki? I'll never know if you keep wasting my time with barn mishaps!

In fact, that passage shows everything that's wrong with The Da Vinci Code outside of the blatant disregard for superficial Google searches. It's almost entirely a heartless, intellectually shallow pulp thriller. The only good I have to say for it is that the movie had Amelie and Gandalf.


"So you see, Sauron is actually a phallic symbol. More Hobbit leaf, my dear?"


Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Da Vinci Code Part 2, aka Dan Brown is a Gibbering Dildo

This is the second of three posts I will make on the Da Vinci Code. This middle section of the book contains the shocking revelation that

SPOILERS

Dan Brown has no academic integrity!

END SPOILERS

Oh yeah, and Jesus knocked up Mary Magdalene and their descendants still exist today. Dan Brown offers the following as proof of this assertion:

In The Last Supper, John totally looks like a girl.

END SPOILERS AGAIN

The Mona Lisa was, in fact, one of the world's most documented inside jokes. The painting's well-documented collage of double entendres and playful allusions had been revealed in most art history tomes, and yet, incredibly, the public at large still considered her smile a great mystery.

Notice how Brown doesn't give any details here? That's because he's a little thing I like to call "full of shit."

Most recently Langdon had shared the Mona Lisa's secret with a rather unlikely group—a dozen inmates at the Essex County Penitentiary. Langdon's jail seminar was part of a Harvard outreach program attempting to bring education into the prison system...
"You may notice," Langdon told them..."that the background behind her face is uneven."
...
"He screwed it up?" one of the inmates asked.
Langdon chuckled. "No. Da Vinci didn't do that too often..."


I like to imagine the inmate here becoming enraged by Langdon's condescending tone and putting a sharp piece of metal between his ribs, but we don't always get what we want.

"By lowering the countryside on the left, Da Vinci made Mona Lisa look much larger from the left side than from the right side. A little Da Vinci inside joke. Historically, the concepts of male and female have assigned sides—left is female, and right is male. Because Da Vinci was a big fan of feminine principles, he made Mona Lisa look more majestic from the left than the right."

What do you know? I couldn't find any reference at all to this anywhere online. It's almost as if he's just making up horseshit, but since TDVC began with the word FACT in big letters, I know that can't be the case.

"Well done. Amon is indeed represented as a man with a ram's head, and his promiscuity and curved horns are related to our modern sexual slang 'horny.' "

You are such a fucking liar, Brown! Yes the fact that he has horns is indirectly related but you are clearly trying to imply that "horny" came from some ancient Egyptian religion. You're worse than Michael Moore.

"It was Isis," Langdon told them, grabbing a grease pen. "So we have the male god, Amon." He wrote it down. "And the female goddess, Isis, whose ancient pictogram was once called L'ISA." Langdon finished writing and stepped back from the projector.
AMON L'ISA

"Ring any bells?" he asked.
"Mona Lisa... holy crap," somebody gasped.
Langdon nodded. "Gentlemen, not only does the face of Mona Lisa look androgynous, but her name is an anagram of the divine union of male and female. And that, my friends, is Da Vinci's little secret, and the reason for Mona Lisa's knowing smile."


This is completely, utterly absurd and strains belief to an extreme degree. A hardened criminal says "holy crap?" I call bullshit on you, Brown.

Jacques Saunière had indeed paid a visit to the Mona Lisa before he died.

What the... He limped over and wrote some shit on the Mona Lisa, then went back to another place, stripped down to his Pepe LePew, drew some more numbers and anagrams on the floor, then drew a pentagram on his chest and a huge circle around himself, then arranged his body like the Vitruvian Man before he died? How much blood did this guy have?


... That wasn't wine?

Sophie looked baffled in the glow of the message scrawled across the Mona Lisa's face.
 

SO DARK THE CON OF MAN

"Sophie," Langdon said, "the Priory's tradition of perpetuating goddess worship is based on a belief that powerful men in the early Christian church 'conned' the world by propagating lies that devalued the female and tipped the scales in favor of the masculine."
Sophie remained silent, staring at the words.
"The Priory believes that Constantine and his male successors successfully converted the world from matriarchal paganism to patriarchal Christianity by waging a campaign of propaganda that demonized the sacred feminine, obliterating the goddess from modern religion forever."





And may I add that you must not be familar with Christianity, Mr. Langdon.

The extra surveillance wiring in the walls made it virtually impossible to get a carrier unless you stepped out into the hall.

The surveillance wiring to the cameras that you earlier claimed were fake?

"Sophie," he said, "all I can tell you is that equal-armed crosses like this one are considered peaceful crosses. Their square configurations make them impractical for use in crucifixion, and their balanced vertical and horizontal elements convey a natural union of male and female, making them symbolically consistent with Priory philosophy."

Uh, what? That cross means a lot of different shit but I don't know where you got this "natural union of male and female" thing from. Why is everything sex with you, Brown?




Langdon later reminisces about showing his Holy Grail theory to his publisher, who was very skeptical:

"You're a Harvard historian, for God's sake, not a pop schlockmeister looking for a quick buck."

Oh, the irony.

As Faukman read down the list, he looked like a man who had just discovered the earth was actually flat. "I know some of these authors. They're... real historians!" 
...
Faukman was still staring at the list. "My God, one of these books was written by Sir Leigh
Teabing—a British Royal Historian."

...
Faukman was still shaking his head. "But with all these books written about it, why isn't this theory more widely known?"
"These books can't possibly compete with centuries of established history, especially when that history is endorsed by the ultimate bestseller of all time."


Langdon, you just said that historians can't compete with established history. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the Harvard in this universe is a fledgling New Age community college where the biggest department is astrology and David Icke has tenure.

In fact, this is at the heart of a lot of conspiracy theories. When authorities lend credence to fringe beliefs, it's a form of validation. When authorities say that it's a load of shit, it's because they're part of the brainwashed masses. No matter what specialists on the subject say, crackpots can just go on believing that the President is a communist/Illuminati/Knight Templar/transdimensional reptile/Kenyan. Compromise with reality? Never!

A career hazard of symbologists was a tendency to extract hidden meaning from situations that had none.




"Ten digits," Sophie said, her cryptologic senses tingling as she studied the printout.

Uhm, were you bitten by a radioactive cryptologist or something?

"He was the master of double-entendres," Sophie said, turning to Langdon. "He loved anything with multiple layers of meaning. Codes within codes."

Just as Sophie likes being redundant. Saying the same things over and over again. Repetition.

After all, if Langdon's instincts were correct, the Grand Master of the Priory of Sion had just transferred the brotherhood's legendary keystone to his granddaughter and simultaneously commanded her to find Robert Langdon.
Inconceivable!





Then we come to a particularly awkward and unpleasant part in chapter 54:

Teabing laughed heartily, patting his rotund belly. "Touché. My only carnal pleasures these days seem to be culinary." Turning now to Sophie, he gently took her hand, bowing his head slightly, breathing lightly on her fingers, and diverting his eyes. "M'lady."
...
The smile that grew on Teabing's face was almost obscene. "Robert, you've brought me a virgin?"
Langdon winced, glancing at Sophie. "Virgin is the term Grail enthusiasts use to describe anyone who has never heard the true Grail story."

...
Sophie quickly outlined what Langdon had explained earlier...
"That's all?" Teabing fired Langdon a scandalous look. "Robert, I thought you were a gentleman. You've robbed her of the climax!"

...
Teabing already had Sophie locked in his twinkling gaze. "You are a Grail virgin, my dear. And
trust me, you will never forget your first time."


I don't care if he is Ian McKellen; Teabing gives me the creeps. I feel bad for his French "manservant" Remy up there alone with him in the chateau. One day he's going to find out that Teabing can not only change his own diapers, but that he doesn't need them in the first place.

Anyway, Teabing proceeds to tell the secret behind the Holy Grail, but I don't intend to reproduce it here because I would have to quote almost four entire chapters. I'll give you the short version:

Dan Brown is a cunt.

(you can read the full tale and why it's wrong here, here, here, and here)



Sunday, February 10, 2013

Da Vinci Code, aka Da Fuck Am I Reading


It is actually a novel, but there are no other factual claims in this book.

FACT:

The Da Vinci Code is a novel written by Dan Brown in 1862. It is 2700 pages long and does not contain the letter "j." If you take the first word of each page it spells out "Dan Brown screams like a little girl when he sees an albino." Charles J. Guiteau had a copy of The Da Vinci Code on his person when he shot President L. Ron Hubbard with a cat fired from a pentagram-shaped slingshot.

All descriptions of why this book is a piece of silly, predictable, intellectually shallow tripe are accurate.

*******

There are three things that make The Da Vinci Code completely worthless reading. First:

1. Bullshit

I actually spent more time trying to find sources for a lot of Brown's more damning claims than I did actually reading The Da Vinci Code. If historical accuracy were Dan Brown's wife, she would have been fucking the milk man long ago since Dan pays her no attention. Make no mistake, he does not intend the backdrop of TDVC to be fictional:

All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate. 

And here he states that he considers the work 99% accurate. However, it is closer to 99% bullshit. Anyone who doesn't instantly urinate in terror at the mention of the word "Google" can quickly discover this. I have no idea how this book was written in an era where the entire sum of human knowledge can be accessed by anyone, instantaneously.

The Priory of Sion—a European secret society founded in 1099—is a real organization. In 1975 Paris's Bibliothèque Nationale discovered parchments known as Les Dossiers Secrets, identifying numerous members of the Priory of Sion, including Sir Isaac Newton, Botticelli, Victor Hugo, and Leonardo da Vinci.

Nope, it was a hoax. Is academic integrity so hard, Dan?



The connections may be invisible, he often preached to his symbology classes at Harvard, but they are always there, buried just beneath the surface.

So, by your own character's admission, he makes connections that aren't there. He's a Harvard professor? In symbology, no less? That's not an academic discipline I would take seriously even if it were real.

Symbologists often remarked that France—a country renowned for machismo, womanizing, and diminutive insecure leaders like Napoleon and Pepin the Short—could not have chosen a more apt national emblem than a thousand-foot phallus.

That sounds like a whole bunch of psuedopsychological drivel to me, but who am I to contradict a symbologist. 




Despite the orgiastic rituals once held at the Arc du Carrousel...

I couldn't find any reference to this, but considering that the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel was completed in 1808, I find it extremely unlikely that any religious orgies took place there.

Despite the estimated five days it would take a visitor to properly appreciate the 65,300 pieces of art in (the Louvre)...

It would indeed be extremely difficult for a visitor to appreciate 65,300 pieces of art at the Louvre Museum since there are only 35,000 of them.

The late French president who had commissioned the pyramid was said to have suffered from a "Pharaoh complex." Singlehandedly responsible for filling Paris with Egyptian obelisks, art, and artifacts. François Mitterrand had an affinity for Egyptian culture that was so all-consuming that the French still referred to him as the Sphinx. 

Actually, they called him the Sphinx because he was a very enigmatic person. As for his "pharaoh complex," I couldn't find a single goddamn thing online about it.

As a young astronomy student, Langdon had been stunned to learn the planet Venus traced a perfect pentacle across the ecliptic sky every four years. So astonished were the ancients to observe this phenomenon, that Venus and her pentacle became symbols of perfection, beauty, and the cyclic qualities of sexual love. As a tribute to the magic of Venus, the Greeks used her four-year cycle to organize their Olympiads. Nowadays, few people realized that the four-year schedule of modern Olympic Games still followed the cycles of Venus. Even fewer people knew that the five-pointed star had almost become the official Olympic seal but was modified at the last moment—its five points exchanged for five intersecting rings to better reflect the games' spirit of inclusion and harmony.

There's just one teensy little thing wrong with that passage, Mr. Brown; the pentagram formed by Venus is not perfect. The rest of your information is correct, however. Oh, except for the pentagram representing perfection and sex to the Greeks, which it didn't. You're right on the money with the rest... Although, the Greeks actually based the Olympics around Zeus, not the planet Venus. But those are the only mistakes! Well, except for saying that the original Olympic seal was a pentagram, which there is no reference to, anywhere. But everything else you said is true! Which is, uh...

Nothing.

"Unfortunately, the United States military has also perverted the pentacle; it's now our foremost symbol of war. We paint it on all our fighter jets and hang it on the shoulders of all our generals." So much for the goddess of love and beauty.

It's a star, dipshit. We have fifty of them on our flag.

He wondered if Fache had any idea that this pyramid, at President Mitterrand's explicit demand, had been constructed of exactly 666 panes of glass—a bizarre request that had always been a hot topic among conspiracy buffs who claimed 666 was the number of Satan.

673, actually.



"Any of them real?" Langdon asked, motioning to the cameras.
Fache shook his head. "Of course not."
Langdon was not surprised. Video surveillance in museums this size was cost-prohibitive and
ineffective. With acres of galleries to watch over, the Louvre would require several hundred
technicians simply to monitor the feeds.


Nope.

Embedded in the gray granite floor, a thin polished strip of brass glistened in the stone... a golden line slanting across the church's floor. The line bore graduated markings, like a ruler. It was a gnomon, Silas had been told, a pagan astronomical device like a sundial.

Nope! 

Da Vinci had always been an awkward subject for historians, especially in the Christian tradition. Despite the visionary's genius, he was a flamboyant homosexual and worshipper of Nature's divine order, both of which placed him in a perpetual state of sin against God. Moreover, the artist's eerie eccentricities projected an admittedly demonic aura: Da Vinci exhumed corpses to study human anatomy; he kept mysterious journals in illegible reverse handwriting; he believed he possessed the alchemic power to turn lead into gold and even cheat God by creating an elixir to postpone death; and his inventions included horrific, never-before-imagined weapons of war and torture.
Misunderstanding breeds distrust, Langdon thought. 


NOPE!

Langdon felt a chill. They played Tarot? The medieval Italian card game was so replete with
hidden heretical symbolism that Langdon had dedicated an entire chapter in his new manuscript to the Tarot... Originally, Tarot had been devised as a secret means to pass along ideologies banned by the Church. Now, Tarot's mystical qualities were passed on by modern fortune-tellers.


No, goddamn it!

The Church of Saint-Sulpice, it is said, has the most eccentric history of any building in Paris. Built over the ruins of an ancient temple to the Egyptian goddess Isis, the church possesses an architectural footprint matching that of Notre Dame to within inches.

Go home, Dan Brown. You're drunk.




2. Terrible exposition

Dan Brown does exposition even worse than Stephenie Meyer and E.L. James... and they're Stephenie Meyer and E.L. James.

The general rule of exposition is "show, don't tell." For example, if I'm writing a (barely) fictional book about what a scandalous floozy your mom is, I won't have an opening scroll in which I state that she's a scandalous floozy. I won't have a character say "As you know, there aren't any men in town your mom hasn't speedbagged with her tongue." I will show her giving fellatio to complete strangers, because that's good exposition. And trust me, she's easy to expose.

The funny thing is, Dan Brown does the good sort of exposition but he still fucks it up.

Robert Langdon awoke slowly.
A telephone was ringing in the darkness—a tinny, unfamiliar ring. He fumbled for the bedside
lamp and turned it on. Squinting at his surroundings he saw a plush Renaissance bedroom with Louis XVI furniture, hand-frescoed walls, and a colossal mahogany four-poster bed.
Where the hell am I?
The jacquard bathrobe hanging on his bedpost bore the monogram: HOTEL RITZ PARIS.
Slowly, the fog began to lift.


Dan Brown: How can I tell my audience that he's in the Hotel Ritz Paris? I know! I'll have him forget he's in a hotel room! I am a genius!

By the way, "genius," "HOTEL RITZ PARIS" isn't a monogram. That would be HRP.

Langdon still felt fuzzy. A visitor? His eyes focused now on a crumpled flyer on his bedside table.
 

THE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF PARIS
proudly presents
AN EVENING WITH ROBERT LANGDON
PROFESSOR OF RELIGIOUS SYMBOLOGY,
HARVARD UNIVERSITY

Langdon groaned. Tonight's lecture—a slide show about pagan symbolism hidden in the stones of Chartres Cathedral—had probably ruffled some conservative feathers in the audience.


So rather than tell us that he had a presentation earlier, Dan Brown has him remember it by looking at a crumpled up flyer... even though this would be a case where it would be fine just to tell us.

But, he can't really do the "tell me" kind of exposition well, either:

"Ladies and gentlemen..." the hostess had announced to a full house at the American University of Paris's Pavilion Dauphine, "Our guest tonight needs no introduction. He is the author of numerous books: The Symbology of Secret Sects, The An of the Illuminati, The Lost Language of Ideograms, and when I say he wrote the book on Religious Iconology, I mean that quite literally. Many of you use his textbooks in class."

"He needs no introduction. So, allow me to introduce him." Notice how that only happens in fiction? The author is aware that the (fictional) audience knows who he is and it would be weird to introduce him, but he has to get around the fact that the real world audience doesn't. So, the author throws out a half-assed thing TV Tropes calls As You Know.

Last month, much to Langdon's embarrassment, Boston Magazine had listed him as one of that city's top ten most intriguing people—a dubious honor that made him the brunt of endless ribbing by his Harvard colleagues.

I'm not sure why this should be "dubious" but the hostess decides to read the article out loud when she's introducing him for some reason:

"Although Professor Langdon might not be considered hunk-handsome like some of our younger awardees, this forty-something academic has more than his share of scholarly allure. His captivating presence is punctuated by an unusually low, baritone speaking voice, which his female students describe as 'chocolate for the ears.' " 

Wow! Now I know that he is forty-something with an unusually low baritone speaking voice! This isn't awkwardly delivered or superfluous information at all. Seriously though, "forty something?" If you're going to cheat at exposition like this, don't also test my suspension of disbelief by telling me that the magazine editors don't know how old he is.

Here's some from the antagonists:

"Inside a house of the Lord," the Teacher exclaimed. "How they mock us!"
"As they have for centuries." 


The Teacher fell silent, as if letting the triumph of this moment settle over him. Finally, he spoke.
"You have done a great service to God. We have waited centuries for this..."


As you know, you've read my blog for months and there has never been exposition this forced before.

"I have a favor to ask of you. I just received a call from an influential American bishop.
Perhaps you know him? Manuel Aringarosa?"
"The head of Opus Dei?"
Of course I know of him. Who in the Church doesn't?

"Hello, person who doesn't need to be informed about anything! There's an influential American bishop named Manuel Aringarosa. Even though he's famous throughout the Catholic church, I will ask you if you know who he is so that you can tell the audience that he's the head of Opus Dei!"

God knows he needs the pension, Collet thought. Fache's zeal for technology had hurt him both professionally and personally. Fache was rumored to have invested his entire savings in the technology craze a few years back and lost his shirt. And Fache is a man who wears only the finest shirts.

Interesting conversation you're having with the narration there, Collet.



Their relationship had evaporated in a single instant one March night when she was twenty-two. Ten years ago. Sophie had come home a few days early from graduate university in England and mistakenly witnessed her grandfather engaged in something Sophie was obviously not supposed to see. It was an image she barely could believe to this day. 

Dan Brown does this shit a lot. "I have a terrible dark secret, and I'll tell you what it is later! I promise it's really shocking! Just keep reading!"

Langdon fired back, smiling as he projected a slide of a spiral seashell. "Recognize this?"
"It's a nautilus," the bio major said. "A cephalopod mollusk that pumps gas into its chambered shell to adjust its buoyancy." 


"Sorry, I want someone who's not a clumsy exposition device to tell me. Anyone else recognize this?"

One night, there was a horrific fight, and his mother never got up. The boy stood over his lifeless mother and felt an unbearable up-welling of guilt for permitting it to happen. This is my fault!

The character felt guilty right then. "I AM FEELING GUILT RIGHT NOW!"


3. Laughably bad writing

Although a mere worm compared to the Grand Duchess of Literary Nonsense, Dan Brown has his share of things that are really hard to understand and/or take seriously.

The man's English was accented—a sharp, authoritative bark."My name is Lieutenant Jerome Collet. Direction Centrale Police Judiciaire."

"I speak English fluently, but I must say the name of my bureau in French because I will not sully it with your filthy swine tongue."
 
"My capitaine requires your expertise in a private matter."

"My capitaine also requires that we call him capitaine even when speaking English. I hope to be as French as him one day."

As Langdon stared at the bizarre image, his initial revulsion and shock gave way to a sudden
upwelling of anger. "Who would do this!" 


The painting, Langdon guessed, was worth upward of two million dollars, and yet it was lying on the floor like a discarded poster. "What the devil is it doing on the floor!" 

Who would write without question marks!

Langdon stared at the picture, his horror now laced with fear. The image was gruesome and
profoundly strange, bringing with it an unsettling sense of déjà vu. A little over a year ago,
Langdon had received a photograph of a corpse and a similar request for help. Twenty-four hours later, he had almost lost his life inside Vatican City. This photo was entirely different, and yet something about the scenario felt disquietingly familiar.


His "horror" now laced with "fear." You are a clever wordsmith, Danny. I also like how your character thinks there's something familiar about this situation but he just can't put his finger on it. Maybe it's the fact that he doesn't look at crime scene photos every day?




The driver pulled out a handheld walkie-talkie and spoke in rapid-fire French. "Monsieur Langdon est arrivé. Deux minutes."
An indecipherable confirmation came crackling back.


... But not so indecipherable that he couldn't tell it was a confirmation. Langdon is just that good at symbology.



The man was stocky and dark, almost Neanderthal, dressed in a dark double-breasted suit that strained to cover his wide shoulders.

Dark = neanderthal? Dan Brown should change his name to Dan Brownpeoplearemonkeys.

Unlike the waifish, cookie-cutter blondes that adorned Harvard dorm room walls, this woman was healthy with an unembellished beauty and genuineness that radiated a striking personal confidence. 

Is it me, or does that sound like an incredibly verbose and tactful way of saying she's enormous?

On either flank, a shadowy row of sleek buttresses jutted out like the ribs of a beautiful beast.

Never thought "ribs jutting out" was beautiful. You don't have any self-image problems, do you, Mr. Brown?



Sophie detected the faint hint of a lopsided grin growing across Langdon's face, and she felt herself smile back. "Good luck, Robert."

Faint hint of a... lopsided... grin? Fuck this! Thank god I'm already a third of the way through this tripe.

More coming. Probably. Maybe.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Everything That's Wrong With FSoG (Besides Everything)

I have come to the end of Fifty Shades of Grey, no pun intended. In fact, quite the opposite is true - the writing in FSoG was so droll and awkward that maintaining any feelings of arousal (should they even arise in the first place) is nearly impossible. One would need handfuls of viagra to get any kind of hot and bothered reading this book.



Not pictured: enough viagra

The final leg of the book is full of examples of why FSoG is completely unappealing, and I've divided them into a list of four things that represent everything that is wrong with Fifty Shades (besides everything).


1. Sudden mood and subject changes cause confusion and hilarity

If you want to know what is most jarring about Fifty Shades of Grey, read the following passage at the beginning of chapter twenty one: 

I lie back for a moment staring through the windows at the lofty vista of Seattle’s skyline.  Life in the clouds sure feels unreal.  A fantasy – a castle in the air, adrift from the ground, safe from the realities of life – far away from neglect, hunger, and crack-whore mothers.

I have no idea why E.L. James thinks "crack whore" has some kind of neutral tone to it, but it's the only term she uses to describe Christian's birth mother. She never says "crack addict" or "prostitute" or "Miami resident" even though they all mean the same thing. Her inability to consider the tone of how she phrases things ruins what little atmosphere she manages to instill.

Suddenly his hand is in my hair, tugging it so my head tips back, and his other hand travels down to the base of my spine.  He kisses me, long, hard, and passionately, his tongue in my mouth.  His breathing is mounting, his ardor… Holy cow – his erection… we’re in a field.

We were going pretty well there until "Holy cow - his erection." But before you can actually wrap your head around that, she decides to suddenly note that they're standing in a field for some reason. I suppose she means that she's self-conscious about having sex in a field, but E.L. James isn't able to segue into that idea with any sort of grace. If only she made these transitions as smoothly as she applies ether-soaked rags to strangers in parking lots. She could actually receive literary praise AND tortured screams from confused tourists!

I press send (on the email) and climb despondently back into bed, resolving to ask Christian about his relationship with that woman.  Part of me is desperate to know more, and another part wants to forget he ever told me.  And my period has started, so I must remember to take my pill in the morning.  

That's... good to know. Make sure you give me daily updates on your uterine wall, Ana.

Holy Moses… my dream.  I gape at him, thinking about his tongue on his palate.  Hmm, his expert tongue. 


Read that again in Homer's voice.




Supposing I’ve said I hate him, or worse still, that I love him, in my sleep.  Oh, I hope not.  I am not ready to tell him that, and I’m sure he’s not ready to hear it, if he ever wants to hear it.  I scowl at my computer and decide that whatever I cook, I will make bread.

If you do not understand why heartbreak equals bread, congratulations! You do not need anti-psychotic medication. However, E.L. James should visit or a psychologist... or a horse whisperer.



2. It is impossible to be aroused when you're horrified and/or choking back bile

Ana frequently informs the reader about her "insides" during what would otherwise be arousing scenes:

A slow, sexy smile spreads across his beautiful face, and I’m rendered speechless as my insides melt.

And he picks up the pace, thrusting faster… harder… and my whole body is moving to his rhythm, and I can feel my legs stiffening, and my insides quivering and quickening.

“I can think of a few things,” he grins, gray eyes bright. I gaze back impassively as my insides clench and melt under his knowing look.

When someone says "insides" I think "colon," not "vagina." It really ruins the moment when the image of clenching entrails is thrown into the mix.

“Are you sore?” he asks, leaning over me.
“A little,” I confess.
“I like you sore.”  His eyes smolder.  “Reminds you where I’ve been, and only me.”


I would say this was a red flag but you're waaaaay beyond that, Ana. Every moment you're around Christian and not decapitated is a moment you're beating the odds.

“When did you start your period, Anastasia?” he asks out of the blue, gazing down at me.
“Err... yesterday,” I mumble in my highly aroused state.
“Good.”  He releases me and turns me around.
“Hold on to the sink,” he orders and pulls my hips back again, like he did in the playroom, so I’m bending down.
He reaches between my legs and pulls on the blue string… what!  And… gently pulls my tampon out and tosses it into the nearby toilet.  Holy fuck.  Sweet mother of all… Jeez.


There's just something about tampons that fails to flame my passions. Maybe it's thinking of her internal organs shedding their linings or something. Is that weird? Maybe I should just get over my prudish hangup about bleeding genitals.

He’s standing there, naked, gloriously naked, with my blood on him… and we’re finally having this conversation.

I have no idea why she needs to mention that he still has menstrual blood on his dick. Maybe it's a metaphor? She "Christianed" him? Heh! No?

He lets go with a deep growl, and he buries his head in my neck as he buries himself inside me, groaning loudly and incoherently as he finds his release.

I feel as if I have been sexually assaulted reading that. All I can imagine there is some Rule 34 fan fiction starring Wolverine.

I can see his naked feet, and I want to kiss every inch of them… run my tongue over his instep, suck each of his toes.  Holy shit.

OK, Quentin Tarantino. Keep it to yourself.


3. It's filled with vapid, unnecessary details

One thing that makes FSoG such a chore to read is the volume of completely superfluous detail the reader is lavished with. James seems to think that we care about Ana's every little thought, but I decided that I didn't want to know anything about her somewhere between the words "Twilight" and "fan fiction."

I head into the kitchen which is still shrouded in darkness.  Where are the light switches?  I find them, flick them on, and pour water into the kettle.  My pill!  I rummage in my purse that I left on the breakfast bar and find them quickly.  One swallow, and I’m done.  By the time I finish, Christian is back, sitting on one of the bar stools, watching me intently.

The second book in this profane trilogy is called "Fifty Shades Darker," presumably because it contains even more harrowing accounts of Ana fumbling for light switches.

It is late afternoon, and I sit nervous and fidgeting in the lobby waiting for Mr. J. Hyde of Seattle Independent Publishing.  This is my second interview today, and the one I’m most anxious about.  My first interview went well, but it was for a larger conglomerate with offices based throughout the US, and I would be one of many editorial assistants there.  I can imagine being swallowed up and spat out pretty quickly in such a corporate machine. SIP is where I want to be.  It’s small and unconventional, championing local authors, and has an interesting and quirky roster of clients. 

Uh-huh. Mmm-hmm. One question, Ana. You realize this is a book about BDSM, right? If I fall asleep reading about you doing that, I sure as shit don't care about the podunk publishing firm you're applying to. Wait, is it a BDSM book publisher? No? OK then, not interested.

“Ana Steele?” A woman with long, black, pre-Raphaelite hair standing by the reception desk distracts me from my introspection.  She has the same bohemian, floaty look as the receptionist.  She could be in her late thirties, maybe in her forties.  It’s so difficult to tell with older women.

Will we ever find out which side of forty the publisher's assistant is on? You'll have to read Fifty Shades Darker to find out! That E.L. James sure knows how to make a cliffhanger.

“No.  I’m not tired.” I feel strangely energized.  It’s been so good to talk – I don’t want to stop.
“What do you want to do?” he asks.
“Talk.”
He smiles. 
“About what?”
“Stuff.”
“What stuff?”
“You.”
“What about me?”
“What’s your favorite film?”
He grins.


AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGHHHH next section!


4. Most of it doesn't make any goddamn sense

Whether it's bad prose or bad characterization, a lot of this book is a riddle handcuffed to a mystery and gagged with an enigma.

He smells so good; clean and freshly laundered, so Christian.

He has a walk-in laundry machine? Rich bastard. 

His eyes widen and darken while his hands knead my naked backside.

They widen and darken? Also, I'm not sure how you see this if he's giving you a butt massage, unless yoga/dislocation is involved.

I roll my eyes at the memory of his overbearing bossiness, but I realize now that’s just the way he is.

Overbearing bossiness, huh? Not his aloof bossiness. "Get on your knees, now. Or not, whatever's cool."

I mention the two literary societies that I belonged to and conclude with working at Clayton’s and all the useless knowledge I now possess about hardware and DIY. 

I'm pretty sure DIY is the definition of useful knowledge. But when did definitions ever get in E.L. James' way?

He seemed fine when I went into his study.  We had sex… and then he wasn’t.  No, I don’t get it.  I look to my subconscious.  She’s whistling with her hands behind her back and looking anywhere but at me.  She hasn’t got a clue, and my inner goddess is still basking in a remnant of post-coital glow.  No – we’re all clueless.

The inner goddess and the subconscious recur constantly throughout the book, and yet E.L. James never clarifies just what the fuck she's talking about. She seems to think you can be conscious of your subconscious, which I'm pretty sure would make you Batman/Kurt Russell.


Not pictured: Batman, because you never see Batman and Kurt Russell in the same place at the same time.

As far as I can gather, her subconscious is the part of her psyche that is anxious about the dismembered limbs she left her in her altar room; her general nay saying is an attempt to avoid lethal injection. Her inner goddess is the part of her psyche that emerges during Ana's black outs and is the one that demanded a tribute of human flesh in the first place. Got it?
 
He half smiles his secret private joke smile.

If you think the above sentence is compelling, you need to re-evaluate how safe it is to trust yourself with utensils.

His private-joke smile etched on his beautiful face and his eyes a molten gray.

A... molten... Fuck it. Not touching that.

“I’ll see you later.”
“Try and stop me,” he whispers.


Try and stop you from... being seen? This is a huge recurring problem with the book. I have no idea how this passed any kind of editorial process. You can't just smear excrement on the page and call it a story! You have to actually write words with the feces, and the words must be logically coherent. Only then will we let you into the minimum security wing, Mrs. James.

“Eat,” he says, his tongue caressing the front of his palate as he enunciates the ‘t’.

Ea-th. Ea... ch. Eaaa-thra. Ea-thuh. Sorry, I have no idea what you're talking about. When I try to pronounce that I sound like I'm speaking Elvish or Anne Heche or something.

My mother has relaxed to the point where she is literally horizontal now that Mr. Megabucks is not coming to dinner.

Literally horizontal. I actually have no idea what she's trying to convey here, which is the problem with people way overusing the word "literally."

“I have a situation which I have to deal with.  I’ll see you Friday..."
Oh no.  The last ‘situation’ he had was my virginity.  Jeez, I hope it’s nothing like that. 

Oh my God, Ana! Your virginity CAME BACK.

I put my head down and proceed to the gate, keeping my eyes on the shiny, white floor, blurred through my watery tears.

Watery tears as opposed to some other kind of tears. Do I have to elaborate on why this is wrong? Do I have to go into how this is completely unappealing because it cheapens and undermines the elegance of written language through superfluous words that add nothing to the ideas being expressed? Oh, I just did.

“Hi, My name’s Leandra, What can I get for you… er… folks… er… today, this mornin… ?” Her voice trails off, stumbling over her words as she gets an eye full of Mr. Beautiful opposite me. 

E.L. James is totally off base here. Women never react this way to handsome men in real life. I'll have you know that I am a really, ridiculously, unbelievably studly and handsome man, but women are always incredibly composed around me. In fact, most don't even seem to notice me. If this waitress saw me with my gladiator-like physique, I can assure you that she would barely even talk to me. Happens every time.

Why do I want to spend every single minute with this controlling sex god?  Oh yes, I’ve fallen in love with him, and he can fly.

If you have to ask why you're drawn to a sexy person of the opposite sex, then you need to stop spending so much time in church.

Unconditional love – what every child deserves from its parents. 

E.L. James' neighbor: Excuse me, do you mind watching my baby for an hour?
E.L. James: I WILL MAKE SURE IT GETS WHAT IT DESERVES.

Wow… to be this wanted by this Greek god.

I wouldn't be so excited about that. I mean, the Greek gods killed their dad and screwed their siblings and raped mortals and ... Oh God, are you actually getting turned on by that, Ana? Wait, I don't want to know. 

Leaning down, he nuzzles my neck.  Tracing his teeth and tongue from the base of my ear to my shoulder.  He hums softly as he does, and the sound resonates through me. Right down... right down there, inside me.

We already heard you describe Christian pulling your tampon out so you can fuck, but now you sound like someone Joseph Smith would tell to get the stick out of her ass. 

His touch elicits a delicious, tickly shiver.

You have no idea how often she uses the word "delicious" to describe things that are not food. Let me tell you now that if I had a nickel for every passage like the one above, I would have enough money to buy a book other than Fifty Shades of Grey.

He’s kissing and sucking and nibbling… moving south… and then his tongue is there.  At, a the junction of my thighs. I throw my head back and cry out as I almost detonate into orgasm…


This is the result of someone finally finding her vagina after 22 years

Outside, in the relative cool of the half-light of pre-dawn, the valet hands Christian a set of keys to a flash sports car with a soft top.  I raise an eyebrow at Christian, who smirks back at me.
“You know, sometimes it’s great being me,” he says with a conspiratorial but smug grin that I simply can’t help emulating. 


You say that smug shit with the valet standing right there, Christian? Are you trying to get urine in your wiper fluid? 

Closing my eyes, I try to calm myself down, to connect with my inner sub.

How many people do you have inside you, Ana?! Don't answer that.


... And that's that. I'm sure you're wondering how the book ends, right?


I'm sorry to say that it's not in a coital nuclear explosion that claims both their lives

Ana wants to see how far Christian goes with his punishment fetish, so she bends over and tells him to take it up to eleven. Then she cries from how much it hurts and realizes that he's really, really fucked up and dumps his ass. Seriously, Ana? You couldn't have done that three hundred pages ago?

However, there are two more books, so I'm sure we have lots more to read about these two. Or rather I do, you lucky pricks.