Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Chapter Two

Noah Gardner stands at the candy machine, his Tootsie Roll falls, and he stares, enchanted, at a young woman pinning a flyer to the breakroom bulletin board. She struggles to reach the top of the board and Noah offers to help.

She ignores him, but he's not put off.

Something about this woman defied a traditional chick-at-a-glance inventory. Without a doubt all the goodies were in all the right places, but no mere scale of one to ten was going to do the job this time. It was an entirely new experience for him. Though he'd been in her presence for less than a minute, her soul had locked itself onto his senses, far more than her substance had.

Oh, Christ. "A traditional chick-at-a-glance inventory"? "All the goodies were in all the right places"? You're kidding me, right? I guess that's what happens when someone's soul locks into your senses. Whatever the fuck that means.

She hardly wore any makeup, it seemed, nothing needed concealment or embellishment. Simple silver jewelry, tight weathered jeans on the threadbare outer limits of the company's casual-Friday dress code, everything obviously chosen and worn for no one's approval but her own. A lush abundance of dark auburn hair pulled back in a loose French twist and held in place by two crisscrossed number-two pencils. The style was probably the work of only a few seconds but it couldn't have been more becoming if she'd spent hours at a salon.

She's a free spirit, with natural beauty. Better than all that arm candy Noah had been musing over in the previous chapter. You got all that, right? I can't wait until she lets her hair down, literally, and her full radiance is revealed. I bet Gardner passes out at that moment.

The woman hangs the flyer, and it's described pretty much just like this. More or less. The eagle was my idea.

We the People

If you love your country but fear for its future,

join us for an evening of truth that will open your eyes!

Guest speakers include:
Earl Matthew Thomas-1976 U.S. Presidential candidate (L) and bestselling author of Divided We Fall
Joyce McDevitt-New York regional community liaison, Liberty Belles
Maj. Gen. Francis N. Klein-former INSCOM commanding general (ret. 1984), cofounder of GuardiansOfLiberty.com
Kurt Bilger-Tri-state coordinator, Sons of the American Revolution
Beverly Emerson-Director emeritus, Founders' Keepers
Danny Bailey-The man behind the YouTube phenomenon Overthrow, with 35,000,000 views and counting!

Bring a friend, come lift a glass, and raise your voice for liberty!
August 31st, 7:00 PM, Heritage Club

Oh my, the rally (the assembly?) is tonight! Such short notice, Noah asks. (Oh, and yay for the YouTube reference. Relevance!)

"Congratulations, you can read." Oh, she's sassy too! What a woman! She tells him she doesn't much expect anyone here to attend. And why not?

"All you PR people do is lie for a living," she said. "The truth is just another story to you."

I wonder what Beck's PR people think of this sentiment? Anyway, Noah introduces himself and the woman retorts firing off some helpful facts, more for the reader's benefit than anyone's, I imagine:

Noah has a fancy office, he's just been promoted to VP and his father owns the company. No wonder he's so existential and forlorn. Or whatever he is.

Then the sparks really start to fly:

"Hey, I have to confess something."

"I'll bet you do."

"You haven't told me your name yet," Noah said, "and I've been trying to read it off your name tag, but I'm worried that you'll get the wrong idea about where I'm looking."

"Go for it. I'm not shy."


It's like Bogie and Bacall up there on the page. Are you hawt yet? I am so engorged by this. Figuratively, I mean.

Noah checks out the name badge pinned to her chest, notes the edge of a tattoo, "a bird, or maybe it was an angel" (I call dibs on it being a bald eagle!), and learns her name:

"Molly Ross," he said.

She tipped his chin back up with a knuckle.

"This is fascinating and all, Mr. Gardner, but I need to go and service the postage meter."

Okay. Hold on. There is no way that was an accident. She has to service the postage meter, seriously? You know what? I'm gonna go out on a limb here, and suggest that the ghostwriter here knew exactly what he was doing all along and purposefully barfed up the shittiest manuscript he could, as a joke. And somehow, the thing met with Beck's approval ("Don't change a goddamned word!" I imagine Beck yelling at his editor) and got published. Like a prank that's spun out of control. And now library shelves everywhere are stunk up with this travesty.

Noah asks Molly if she's going to the rally (the assembly?) tonight. He says he might go, being how patriotic he is and all. Then Molly tells a joke. But it's not really a joke. Made some weird Dadaist/Libertarian anti-joke. I dunno:

"Noah comes home—Noah from the Bible, you know? So Noah comes home after he finally got all the animals into the ark, and his wife asks him what he’s been doing all week. Do you know what he said to her? He said, 'Honey, now I herd everything.'"

Molly walks away, telling Noah over her shoulder not to forget his candy bar. Noah is left speechless.

I know how you feel, Noah. I really do.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Chapter One

Two pages.

That's how long the opening chapter is. Two pages. But hey, that's enough to meet our protagonist, Noah Gardner: "Good-looking, great job, fine education, puckishly amusing and even clever when he put his mind to it, reasonably fit and trim for an office jockey, Noah had all the bona fide credentials for a killer eHarmony profile" who had "spent a full decade building what most guys would call an outstanding record of success with the ladies."

Okay, so, I'm not most guys, but let me ask you something. Is "an outstanding record of success with the ladies" a common phrase among your peer group, most guys? Just wondering. It's nice though, to see Beck give a nod to Christian dating site eHarmony, I guess to keep relevant.

As he'd rounded the corner of age twenty-seven and stared the dreaded number thirty right in the face, Noah had begun to realize something... While he'd been aiming low with his standards in the game of love, the women he'd been meeting might all have been doing exactly the same thing. Now, on his twenty-eighth birthday, he still wasn't sure what he wanted in a woman but he knew what he didn't want: arm candy. He was sick of it. Maybe, just maybe, it was time to consider thinking about getting serious.

Noah is having an existential crisis. There. That's basically chapter one. Well, him having the crisis and seeing the woman of his dreams. All while standing at the vending machine at work. (Work, by the way is a PR firm named Doyle & Merchant.)

"Top psychologists tell us in Maxim magazine that the all-important first impression is set in stone within about ten seconds." Again with the pop culture reference. Beck will show you just how relevant he is. I'm waiting for a mention of Facebook and/or Youtube next.

Beck spends several paragraphs sort-of describing the woman (as yet unnamed; suspense!; can't wait for chapter two!), throwing in a mention of the Grateful Dead along the way. More relevance! Well, no. If he'd wanted to be really hip, he'd have mentioned Phish. I'd, again, love to just copy and paste the whole chapter here, to illustrate just how awful it is, but at some point, that would become cumbersome. Besides, if you really want to read this dreck yourself, get down to the library.

There follows more garbage about PR and art and lines and beauty and "the purest essence of a woman" (I'm rolling my eyes right now) ... all of which leads us to the whole crux of chapter one: "Unlikely as it must seem, he knew right then that he was in love."

Noah Gardner, he of the easy life of an outstanding record of success with the ladies, he of the existential crisis, he who may soon consider thinking about getting serious, just found something to give his life meaning: a woman.

Friday, August 27, 2010


The Overton Window opens with Eli Churchill at a pay phone in the middle of the desert, roll of quarters in his hand, calling Beverly, and spilling the beans on a conspiracy involving a missing two-point-three trillion dollars and eleven nuclear weapons. In two and a half pages, Beck has laid out the entire plot. To hell with suspense, or mystery. No one wants that in a thriller, right? And to say this is poorly written is an understatement. The writing is clunky, stiff, amateurish. It reads like fan fiction, with apologies to writers of fan fiction.

Let's just jump right in, shall we?

He cradled the pay-phone receiver against his shoulder, glanced down the narrow, rutted Mojave dirt road he'd traveled to get here, and then up the long, dark way in the other direction.

In this much quiet your ears could play tricks on you. He could have sworn that there'd been a sound out of place, like the snap of a stalk of dried grass underfoot, even though no other human being had any business being within twenty miles of where he stood, but he couldn't be sure.

So, Churchill is in the middle of the desert, twenty miles from nowhere, on a dirt road. Using a pay phone. What? Are there lots of pay phones in the Mojave along narrow, rutted dirt roads? That seems... unlikely. And I wonder if the author has heard of this new thing they have out now called a "cellular phone." Cool thing is, you can buy disposable cell phones now, and they are completely untraceable. That's probably easier than finding a pay phone in the vast expanses of the Mojave desert.

He worked his last six quarters from their torn paper roll and dropped them one by one into the coin slot.

He had just three minutes left. In a way, it was ironic. After years of planning, he'd brought all the evidence he needed to back up his story, but not nearly enough change to buy the time to tell it.

Oh the irony. One more reason to get one of those disposable cells.

"Now where was I ..." As he riffled through his pile of photocopies a couple of the loose papers got caught up in a gust and went floating off into the night.

"You were talking about the money."

"Yes, good, okay. Two-point-three trillion dollars is what we're talking about. Do you know how much that is? From sea level that's a stack of thousand-dollar bills that would reach to outer space and back with thirty miles to spare.

Okay, as is revealed a few paragraphs down, Churchill has infiltrated this deadly conspiracy involving trillions of dollars and stolen nukes, as part of a plot to build a new "political and economic and social structure" and Eli still needs to check his notes to see if he's got this right. I mean, it doesn't sound like the kind of thing one would figure out then be unclear on afterward. Maybe he was checking his photocopies to see how high two-point-three trillion dollars would stack. And again, as if "to outer space and back" was something you'd need to reference your notes on. Not that the stacking height of great gobs money means anything. Not really anyway.

It's a lot of money, and here's what they're doing with it (just who they are will be revealed in coming chapters, no doubt):

"I've seen the place, one of the places where they're getting ready for something—something big—planning it out, you know? I got a job inside in maintenance, as a cleanup man. They thought I was just a janitor, but I had the run of the place overnights.

"I saw what they're planning to do. They're building a structure." He checked his notes to make sure he was getting it right. "Not like a building, but like a political and economic and social structure. They've been working on it for a long, long time. Decades. When they collapse the current system, this new one they've put together will be all that's left."

So, you got that? They're building a new structure. Political and economic and social. Whatever that means. It's vaguely NWOish.

"They're changing the books so that in a generation from now almost nobody will remember what this country used to be. They've got the economy set up to fall like a house of cards whenever they're ready to tap the first one at the foundation. They've got the controlled media all lined up and ready to carry out their PR campaign. And they've got people so indebted and mind-controlled and unprepared, they'll turn to anybody who says he's got the answer."

I think this is the controversial part. The part where Beck, in his author's note, implored us to think. Yes, think, because the media is controlled, the media is some great bugaboo. As if Beck himself isn't part of the media, as if Beck himself isn't a commentator on one of the biggest and most influential media outlets in the world, as if Beck's radio show doesn't pull in 9 million-plus listeners. A very influential media personality tells his audience to listen to him and not listen to influential media personalities? Ummm.... okay.

Churchill warns Beverly "they're going to stage something soon to get it all started" right before he's killed.

A glint of brilliant red light on the wall of the booth caught his attention. He turned, as the man behind him had known that he would, and let the phone drop from his hand.

Eli Churchill had enough time left to begin a quiet prayer but not enough to end it. His final appeal was interrupted by a silenced gunshot, and a .357 semi-jacketed hollow point was the last thing to go through his mind.

Oy. Really? An assassin shows up, in the middle of the desert where this phone booth is and using a silenced 357 with a laser sight, shoots Churchill dead? Because he was a janitor working undercover who made photocopies of the "new structure's" plans to use two-point-three trillion dollar and eleven nuclear weapons to topple the government. All of which he needed to tell Beverly. Whoever she is.

You know, "a .357 semi-jacketed hollow point was the last thing to go through his mind" may sound cool when Morgan Freeman says it, but on paper, it's downright silly. But then, everything about this book appears to be pretty silly.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Dedication, Acknowledgments, A Note From the Author

I know I said I was going to dive right in to chapter one today, but there's all this preamble stuff in the book I should address before we get started.

Overton is dedicated, in faith, hope and charity, to a minister, a war hero, and a philanthropist. The latter two I'm indifferent to, as dedications, but it's that first one that gets me. "Faith: To David Barton, a man who knows that the answers were left everywhere in plain sight by our Founders."

David Barton is the founder of WallBuilders, an organization whose goal is to "exert a direct and positive influence in government, education, and the family by (1) educating the nation concerning the Godly foundation of our country; (2) providing information to federal, state, and local officials as they develop public policies which reflect Biblical values; and (3) encouraging Christians to be involved in the civic arena."

Oy, a dominionist. Swell. I guess it's good we know exactly where Beck is coming from, right there with the very first line of his book.

Then there are the acknowledgements. Beck thanks his ghostwriter, his editors, all the douchebags at Fox, including Neil Cavuto and Bill O'Reilly, (no mention of Hannity, though. Ouch!) and a slew of other people. But the best part is this:

Special thanks to ... All of the VIEWERS, LISTENERS, AND READERS, including the Glenn Beck INSIDERS. We're not racist and we're not violent ... we're just not silent any more.

(Bolding original)

Umm... Okay. I've read a fair amount of books in my time, but this is the first time I've ever seen an author go out of his way to let his readers know he's not a racist. If you (and this applies to everyone, really) have to make an effort to point out that you're not a bigot, it is time for you to stop, take a moment, take a thousand moments if necessary, and do a little introspection. What is it about your behaviour, your actions, your words that have the world at large thinking you're a racist? It could be the entire world is wrong, or maybe you've some issues to work out. Saying "I'm not a racist" isn't enough. And as for noting your followers are not violent? More on that below.

Moving on... The note from the author. I almost quoted the whole damn thing here, it's just that ridiculous. But let's go back to something I talked about yesterday. This word of his, faction.

I've been a fan of thrillers for many years. While nonfiction books aim to enlighten, the goal of most thrillers is to entertain. But there is a category of novels that do both: "faction"—completely fictional books with plots rooted in fact, and that is the category I strived for with The Overton Window.

I worked in the book business for a long time. There is no category of books called faction. Please, just knock that off. Faction is a real word, sure, but it already has a definition. See.

I know this book will be controversial; anything that causes people to think usually is. In this case, I hope that you are forced not only to think, but also to research, read history, and ask questions outside of your comfort zone. It will ultimately be up to each of us to search out our own truths.

Oh please. "I know this book will be controversial; anything that causes people to think usually is." Who says stuff like that? I mean aside from high school kids writing essays about Marilyn Manson? I've never read an author, especially one of genre fiction, who takes his work and himself so seriously. Dude, it's a thriller. Enough with the pretension. This is NOT some groundbreaking work. Hell, it's not even a new story.

"While this may go without saying even once, I feel the need to say it again" Oh, this is going to be good, isn't it?

This is a work of fiction. As such some of the characters in this book express opinions that I not only disagree with, but vehemently oppose. I included them in the story because these views, like them or not, are part of the current American dialogue. Ignoring them, or pretending that radical ideas don't exist in society, does all of us a great disservice. Silencing voices or opinions only pushes them to the shadows and darkness, where they can fester and grow even stronger.

Oh Christ. More exhortations against violence. Which, again, begs the question. Why is it necessary to state that your intentions, the intentions of your readers, are not violent? Shouldn't that be a given? Unless there's something in your work, your actions, some mound of historical evidence that might give people the notion you're maybe treading a dangerous line there. I don't know. But it seems like if "this may go without saying even once" then you really should have no "need to say it again."

When all is said and done and people look back at this time in the history of our great country, there’s only one thing I hope that everyone, critics and fans alike, call me ...


Newsflash, Beck: Most everyone (at least those with sense) are already saying you're wrong. We have been for years.