TEC: Chapter 39: Levi’s Turn

Levi hangs up with Murphy, and then realizes that OOPSIE DAISY he forgot something:

The letters “RDD” on the dollar bill.

“Oh, David!  We got so caught up in the bridge scenario that we didn’t pursue it.  ‘RDD.’  I wonder if they’re a person’s initials?”

“I only I had somebody on speed dial that I could call right back with this question!”

David pretty quickly shoots down the initials idea, since “Lenni Lenape” wasn’t a person, so obviously these letters couldn’t be a name, either.  Because that’s how it works.

But in less than half a page, Levi hits upon the obviously-correct answer (because the book tells us so): RDD stands for radiological dispersion device–a dirty bomb.

And now that Murphy has presumably rolled over and fallen back to sleep, it’s Levi’s turn to show off his vast knowledge of Wikipedia to an underling.  And he can do that because…

“Levi, I’ve been with Mossad for years and I still don’t understand how a dirty bomb is different from a regular nuclear weapon.”

Well, David, you’ve also been with Mossad for years but couldn’t even fool one man in a small grocery store for thirty seconds.  So…that actually explains a lot.

Though really, it is pretty stupid for two spies to sit around in a cantina and explain Wikipedia basics of bombs to each other.  Yet another reason why keeping Isis in the dark was a bad idea–when it comes to warcraft, she’s a perfect fish-out-of-water character for Levi to explain bombs to.

But first, Levi explains what a nuclear weapon is to this trained Mossad agent:

“A thermonuclear device, like an atom bomb, does tremendous damage.  When it explodes it destroys buildings, equipment, and people with a massive fireball…”

Shucks, I’m sure David never had occasion to learn that in Mossad school!

Then Levi spends half a page explaining neutron bombs.

At this point, David actually gets a bit impatient because Levi is NOT ANSWERING HIS DAMN QUESTION ABOUT DIRTY BOMBS.

“Well, I have to lay a foundation so that you’ll understand.”

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WHAT???

Oh, sorry, your pointless Wikitalk is boring the shit out of me.

“One more caveat before I jump to the dirty bomb.  Have you heard about ‘red mercury’?”

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I HAVE!!!!

That’s that stuff that sent Spock to the alternate dimension, right?

“Not exactly.”

Oh.

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“…red mercury is a more efficient and cheaper way to make a neutron bomb.  It doubles the nuclear yield, with a great reduction in the weight.”

ACTUALLY…

Yanno, I rag on Wikipedia, because it’s clearly the authors’ only source for research, but Wikipedia taught me something today.

RED MERCURY IS FAKE!!!

Red mercury is a hoax substance of uncertain composition purportedly used in the creation of nuclear bombs, as well as a variety of unrelated weapons systems. In reality, no such substance exists.

It amuses me that Phillips is using this whole stupid chapter to expound on something that doesn’t exist.

Actually, that’s a pretty good summary of the Babylon Rising series as a whole!

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FINALLY, gorammit, Levi gets around to explaining dirty bombs.  If you care, read Wikipedia.  I can guarantee you that David did:

“So dirty bombs are more like weapons of mass disruption than mass destruction,” David concluded.

How witty of you, David!

It is not a Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD), but rather, as researcher Peter Probst calls it, a “weapon of mass disruption” (Hughes, 2002).

Hmmm…

“If you ask me, that’s what the terrorists are going to use–a dirty bomb!” Abrams said seriously.

I’m glad Phillips informed us that Levi is speaking seriously, because otherwise, I would have assumed he was joking, possibly while wearing a big red clown nose.

TEC: Chapter 38: Michael Murphy, Symbologist

Levi and David have triumphantly escaped to Mexico.

“Wait till [the first responders] go in the shed and find the Arabs and the RPGs.  That will cause a stir in quiet old Presidio.”  David grinned.

“Haha, I blew my entire mission and turned this whole situation into national news!  It’s FUNNY!”

Naturally, when Levi and David sit down in a little cantina to examine the mysterious box, the first Mexican they meet is the owner, who shakes them down for a fee to sit there, seeing as how they’re “wet Americans.”  Why this Mexican man thinks these two Israeli men are American is anyone’s guess.

All that’s in the box, turns out, are stacks of $20 bills and one little $1 bill, lovingly sealed in a plastic baggie.  It features extra “markings,” and Levi knows just the guy who can interpret this piece of terrorism evidence.

ROBERT LANGDON, WORLD-RENOWNED SYMBOLOGIST!!!

Nope, it’s Murphy, of course.  Because his (alleged) expertise in Biblical archeology has given him perfect knowledge of modern terrorist codes.

Since LaHaye and Phillips don’t, I’m going to supply a picture of a bill so you can follow along at home.

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“Inside of the [right side] seal is a shield.  At the top of the shield is a set of scales, and at the bottom is a key.  Someone has circled the key in pen.  In the open space next to the seal, someone has drawn a crescent moon pointing downward.  There are what look like three talons coming off the points of the crescent moon.  And below the moon are two pyramids forming a six-pointed star.  It is exactly the same as the tattoo on the Arab who fell into the alley.”

Hey, remember when Irish-American Murphy had to remind Israeli Jew Levi Abrams on what a Star of David looks like?  Good times.

“It sounds like Talon is again involved in this.”

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Continuing!

“Below the green seal are three letters–RDD.”

“[On the left side of the bill] is someone’s name: Lenni Lenape.”

Murphy IMMEDIATELY (and I mean that, like in one page), figures out this terrorist code:

“The key is circled.  It probably means that this dollar bill is the key or carrier of a coded message.  The name of the person is another clue.”

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Boy, sure is a good thing Levi called Murphy instead of ACTUAL spies and code experts in the Mossad!

And surely the Mossad could never boast Michael Murphy’s extensive experience with Wikipedia:

“Lenni Lenape is the name of a tribe of American Indians.  They lived in the wooded areas around Delaware, New Jersey, and New York.  …  The Lenni Lenape Indians had a large encampment on top of the New Jersey Palisades.  It overlooked the Hudson River.”

“The site of the original Lenni Lenape encampment is now called Fort Lee.  It is from Fort Lee on top of the Palisades that you begin to cross the George Washington Bridge.  You travel on highway I-95 from New Jersey to Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan.”

“That’s it!  That’s it, Michael.  The George Washington Bridge!  It must be their target!”

Um, yeah.  I guess that must be it.

REALLY?????

I mean honestly, Talon or some higher-up in Talon’s terrorist organization wrote the words “Lenni Lenape” on a $1 bill and it was just assumed that the Arab recipients of the bill would understand that those words meant “bomb the George Washington Bridge”???

First of all, like I said, how would the Arab terrorists be expected to know about Native American tribes and exactly where they used to be settled?  And second of all, why bother with all the smoke and mirrors?  If somebody saw a $1 bill that just so happened to have the words “GW Bridge” scribbled on it, I doubt their first assumption would be “this must be a code to a terrorist plot!”

And the most important question I can think of is: why does this “key” bill still even exist?  Once the Moar Arabs received it and got their target, wouldn’t they promptly burn up the bill?  It doesn’t exactly contain a lot of information: just confirmation that it’s for the Talon Terrorist Cell, and the clue to the target.

But no, the Moar Arabs sealed it in a baggie and put it in a relatively obvious hiding space.  Why, so it was there for reference in case they ever forgot who they worked for and where they were going to put the bomb?

And you know what’s really sad?  This basically makes this Talon Cell the most incompetent terrorists ever, and they STILL figured out David was a spy within thirty seconds of seeing him.

But never mind all that!  The important thing here is that Murphy is RIGHT!  And he has emotions and stuff about the George Washington Bridge being bombed:

“That would be a terrible target for us!”

“As opposed to all the good targets they could have chosen!”

And Murphy knows it’s a terrible target because Wikipedia told him so:

“Three hundred thousand vehicles cross the span a day.  It’s the only fourteen-lane suspension bridge ever built, and it’s the thirteenth longest main suspension bridge in the world.  It’s a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.”

Remember, everyone, Phillips would have us believe that Murphy pulled these factoids right out of his ass.  In the middle of the night.

YOU KNOW, THERE ARE OTHER THINGS IN THE WORLD THAT YOU CAN READ BESIDES WIKIPEDIA, MURPHY!

Grrr…

TEC: Chapter 37: Exotic Locations

Well, we’re finally getting away from the Moar Arabs chasing Murphy and Isis, and getting to the Moar Arabs invading Presidio, Texas.

We open with a paragraph about how hard it is to get to Presidio–a 4-hour drive from the nearest airport of any size.  Looking at Presidio’s own website, seems Phillips did his proper research here–it really is a town that’s kinda in the middle of nowhere.  It is also a town, according to Phillips’ favorite research site, that has a population that is well over 90% Hispanic/Latino.  And this is a population of only 4,000-5,000 to begin with.  In other words, about the size of a smallish college or university like Dartmouth or Brandeis or something.  In other other words, a difficult place to blend in, disappear, and never be seen if you happen to be a Moar Arab…or, for that matter, an Israeli Mossad agent.

Levi stops in town to ask for direction, making sure he is conspicuous from the moment of his arrival.  Then he finds his fellow agent David, who has been staked out in a run-down motel for 20 days now, keeping watch over four Arabs who have moved into a shed down by the river…

…but, much like Levi, make themselves as much of a spectacle as possible by using high-end cell phones and flashing huge wads of cash to buy used vans.

This assignment, btw, David refers to as “boring.”

But it’s okay now, because Levi has “been given the green light to put the pressure on.”  Which vague direction they take to mean they get to grab one of the Moar Arabs and interrogate him.  So they follow him to a tiny grocery store…

Inside the small store, David quickly spotted the Arab at the far end of one of the aisles.  David picked up a box of cereal and pretended to read the label.  After a moment he glanced up only to see the Arab staring at him.  Although their eyes met only briefly, David could sense that the man was uncomfortable.

Oh no!  He might have made me!  David turned and walked away, attempting to look as if he was completely uninterested.

WORST.  SECRET.  AGENT.  EVER.

So, why didn’t they just wait for the guy outside and then snatch him?  What was achieved by going into the store in the first place?

Anyway, the Moar Arab makes a run for it, and David chases him like an idiot.  Yeah, good job AGAIN at keeping a low profile, jerk.  They go on a high-speed chase through the town, which sounds kinda silly in a town of 4,500 with one main drag.  It all ends in tears when the Moar Arab tries and fails to beat a train at a crossing.  So Levi and David bugger off back to the Moar Arab shack in case Train Guy alerted his compadres.

When they get to the shack, turns out Train Guy did alert his compadres, who are packing to leave.  Holy crap are Levi and David worse than useless at this spy thing!

Upon seeing the besets secret agents in the world, one of the Moar Arabs breaks out his “rocket-propelled grenade launcher“…

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…and proceed to blow up Levi’s rental car.  Fortunately unfortunately, Levi and David have already exited.  So a small arms firefight ensues, and eventually Levi and David decide to “crawl around and approach them from the rear.”  This maneuver takes them seven minutes.

As they took up their positions, they heard a motor start: the van!

“Aw, shucks, Dave, I never anticipated they would try to make a break for it during the SEVEN MINUTE break we gave them!”

And then they hear sirens in the distance.  ‘Cause exploding a whole rental car caught the attention of the police, go figure.  So they have but a few seconds to search the shack.  Inside they find only some weapons and two dead Moar Arabs, because (again, go figure), the live Moar Arabs took everything important when they left.

Then Levi goes to check the outhouse:

The odor was repellent.

I hate these things, he thought with distaste.

Yeah, how unusual, because most people love the smell of outhouses.  Kinda like most people love waiting in TSA lines at the airport.

But Levi muscles through the odors, and finds a metal box.  So Levi and David take it with them as they swim across the Rio Grande to Mexico to evade the Presidio police.

As you would.

TEC: Chapter 36: Parties Suck

Hey, everyone, remember the Babylon scenes?  I bet you forgot the writing on the wall was even part of this story.

Okay, maaaaaybe I’ve been a bit slow on the updates because of my busy summer, but STILL…this is taking forever to get to the writing.

And it has actually been twelve chapters since our last flashback, and that was to Daniel in the lions’ den, not the writing on the wall.

But now we are back in Babylon, 539 BC, and King Belshazzar is throwing a party.  Phillips makes sure we know it’s an eeeevil party, with wine and stuff.

Mmmm…wine…

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And Belshazzar has this BITCHIN’ idea to use the gold and silver goblets in the treasury that were “taken from the temple in Jerusalem.”

And so IMMEDIATELY after the toasts with these goblet begin, the writing on the wall happens.  Which frankly just makes God seem like a big whiny baby, who’s fine with just about anything so long as people don’t touch his stuff.

Naturally, everybody freaks out, and Belshazzar’s mommy is the only one with any sense, calling for Daniel to interpret the writing.

End chapter.  That was riveting.

 

TEC: Chapter 35: Discovering Something New

So, a note before we start: as was pointed out in the comments of the last installment, one of our authors, Tim LaHaye, has died.

Not Raptured, mind you.  Just died.  Like a normal person.

I feel bad for his family and friends, as I always do when someone dies, but part of me is not sure why I should feel bad, since 1) if his family and friends share his beliefs, they are presumably thinking that the best thing that could ever happen to someone has happened, and 2) this is a guy who, if someone dies and didn’t believe exactly what he did, thinks they get to be tortured for all eternity.

When Jesus comes back in Glorious Appearing, Rayford Steele tells his Raptured wife that she gets “one cosmic told I-told-you-so.”  And that’s the annoying thing about being an atheist: we don’t get that.  Because there is no cosmic afterlife for anyone.

Still, though, I’ll take a worldly told-you-so: there’s no Rapture.  Jesus isn’t coming back to get anyone before they die.

Sorry not sorry.

***

Anyway!  Back to our regularly-scheduled heathen critiquing:

Isis and Murphy are on the third floor by the stairs.  The Two Moar Arabs just got to the third floor and headed down an aisle away from them; Talon and the Other Arab are still on the elevator.

So what are Murphy and Isis to do?

Why, they dash up to the FOURTH floor, of course!

And then, a moment later, the Moar Arabs head to the fourth floor, too!

Gee, never saw that one coming.

But Murphy has a plan!

“Come back here where the two directions of bookshelves converge.”

Phillips…doesn’t have much experience writing action scenes, does he?  WHO TALKS LIKE THAT???

The Two Moar Arabs split up when they reach the fourth floor, I guess so they can increase their chances of being overpowered.

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Fadil turned down an aisle and started toward Murphy and Isis.

Murphy whispered, “When he gets near, step into the aisle and say something to him in Arabic.”  Then Murphy disappeared.

Hey, neat trick!

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What a surprise that, once again, Murphy abandons Isis to do all the actual work.  Also, gotta love that our brave and resourceful heroine isn’t even allowed to come up with her own plan.

Fadil was caught completely off guard as he approached the end of the aisle.  All of a sudden a beautiful woman with red hair stepped in front of him, took a sexy pose, and smiled.

“My, but you are handsome,” she murmured.  “I’ll bet all of the women want to go out with you.”

So our heroine, who once saved a little girl by pretending to be an ancient goddess…is reduced to striking sexy poses.

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We are told that Fadil, of course, isn’t actually a trained terrorist.  (Um, so why then did Talon bring him along?)  So the sight of this white woman completely flummoxes him, to the point that Murphy can get the jump on him and “fire a reverse punch.”

REVERSE PUNCH!!!

Having knocked him out, Murphy wastes precious time posing Fadil as though he had fallen asleep at a table.  Inexplicably, all this ruckus has attracted no attention.

So then, instead of making a break for it down the stairs and out the door (it’s insulting!), Murphy leads Isis to a ladder that leads to the roof.  Then, instead of just using the fire escape (“I’ve got a better idea.“), they use the roof to get to the elevator shaft (?????), so they can hop onto the top of the elevator so they can get back into the building and ride the elevator to the first floor.

Hey, idiots, there are STAIRS RIGHT THERE!!!

And the funny part is that Talon doesn’t buy that they definitely went to the roof.  Team Talon once again splits up so they can cover both the roof and the interior.  Jeepers, seems Murphy didn’t think of that!  And I will once again point out that they could have dashed down the stairs and been completely gone by now.

But then we wouldn’t have the HILARIOUS scene where Murphy and Isis hop onto the top of the elevator, then into the elevator, startling a grandmother and her two grandchildren.  Because Phillips could not care less about women over the age of forty who don’t look like supermodels, the grandmother isn’t even given a line.  And Murphy swears the children to secrecy because they’re being chased by “evil men.”

I’m kinda surprised that he didn’t say “evil Arabs.”

Also, no matter how much you swear little kids to secrecy, I’m willing they would have spilled the beans if the Evil Men were suddenly looming over them.  In other words, Murphy just really endangered this little family.  And it was totally unnecessary, because again, THEY COULD HAVE BEEN GONE TEN MINUTES AGO RIGHT OUT THE FRONT DOOR.

And it actually winds up being the SAME THING, because one of the terrorists, Rashad, sees them as they get to the front door.  So the whole go-upstairs-go-to-the-roof-drop-onto-the-elevator plan was completely pointless.

And as they run out of the library, we are told that Murphy grabs Isis’s hand as they run.  Sure, jerk, just drag her everywhere.  Women love that.

This all leads to an alley fight, where Murphy conveniently knocks the gun away from Rashad so they can fight hand-to-hand and Murphy can once again demonstrate that he is an expert in karate-do.

He flashed to the face of Terence Li, a young Cantonese archaeology student who had taught Murphy the secret of drunken-man fighting.

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So Phillips has seen Drunken Master, so I guess that’s cool.  But the fight is over in one-third of a page, so not so cool.

Then Murphy and Isis wander off, but not far, because they idiotically left all their books and papers back in the library, when they could very easily have taken them along.  Nope, they are forced to hang in a coffee shop for THREE HOURS until they can assume the coast is clear, then they head back to the library, where, in a COMPLETELY SHOCKING TWIST, Talon has taken all the papers!

But friendly librarian Alvena Smidt fills our heroes in on Talon: that he is from South Africa and speaks Afrikaans.  Murphy is pleased at this information, because it “may give us a way to track down more information about him.”

Except that Murphy has already interacted with Talon twice, so this should not come as a surprise.  I mean, isn’t Murphy supposed to a cosmopolitan world-traveler, like another, better archaeologist?

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So why wouldn’t he recognize a South African accent when he heard one?  Hell, Ive only been to two countries besides my own, and I know a South African accent when I hear one.

But this is just time that we’re driving home that Phillips decided Talon is South African, when he clearly was no such thing in the first book.

Poor Greg Dinallo.

 

 

TEC: Chapter 34: Heroic…for a Girl

Well, now that Paul is free of the horrific Shari, we can resume our intriguing espionage action, right?

Back in the library, Isis has emerged from the potty and is now looking for Blavatsky’s book.  Almost against his will, it would seem, Phillips gets inside Isis’s head for a moment, sharing her moment of discovery and excitement upon reading a new book.  For a moment, he seems to forget that she’s just Murphy’s Like a Supermodel arm candy.

Pausing for a moment to savor her surroundings, she spots Talon and the Moar Arab he is with as they get into the elevator.  But they don’t see her.  Isis also sees two random men ascending the stairs (why, if there are four men, doesn’t Talon leave at least one of them to keep an eye on the door?).

They too looked like Arabs.

Based solely on this “fact,” Isis assumes the two men are evil and with Talon, because we all know how those Moar Arabs are.

Please note that Phillips didn’t even have to do this.  Because literally ten seconds after she spots them, she hears them talking, and of course understands them, and confirms they’re with Talon.  But once again, we all know how those Moar Arabs are.  Isis was only being logical racist.

And now she needs to get a message to Murphy before the Moar Arabs see him back at their table…

So remember back in Babylon Rising, how Isis saved the day when that little girl was kidnapped and was going to be sacrificed?  Despite BR being a silly RTC novel, Greg Dinallo managed to do something pretty much perfect with Isis.  It showed her saving the day by using her special skill set that Murphy didn’t share.  In one brief moment, she showed that she wasn’t “just” the intellectual spinster, but was brave and imaginative and resourceful…pretty much everything Murphy (and probably most RTC readers) figured she was not.

If you didn’t realize what a shitty hack job The Europa Conspiracy is, and how it has absolutely no purpose other than being the third book in a series that is meant to have four books, you might think this scene was once again setting up Isis to do hero stuff.  The bad guys are closing in, and Isis and Murphy have been separated (because she had to potty, but whatever), and Isis sees the danger before Murphy.

So, drawing on her incredible knowledge base and her genius IQ, Isis…

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Get ready…

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Makes a paper airplane.

She writes TALON on the blank first page of the book (though it would have been way funnier if she had written MORE ARABS), and makes a paper airplane and tosses it at Murphy.  So he grabs his notes (but none of the other papers and journals they’ve been reading), and comes over to Isis.

Wait, if he could get to her, why couldn’t she get to him?

Probably because she’s A Girl.

And, like the Girl she is, she “fell into his arms, shaking.”

Sure is a far cry from pretending to be an ancient goddess…

Oh, and by the way, I can’t help but feel that Isis might have been better prepared for this crisis had Murphy only told her that it was a possibility.

But no, it was Man Talk and not fit for her delicate, feminine, Supermodel-y ears.

TEC: Chapter 33: I Want Money So I Can Buy Things

Hey, guys, remember Paul and Shari?  With all this conspiracy talk and moar Arabs, I bet you forgot they were part of this story.

And yanno, they aren’t really part of this story.  But they’re very minor characters that are still around, and it’s time for them to break up.

Which leads to my main question on this topic: WHY ARE THEY STILL TOGETHER IN THE FIRST PLACE????

Paul and Shari have been together for about two years.  That’s about one year and ten months longer than they should have been together, considering how little Shari thinks of or cares about Paul, and how much Paul has gone through for this “relationship.”

To review: Shari and Paul had a Meet Cute way back in Babylon Rising.  And even at that first meeting, Shari had a snide comment to make about Paul’s lack of faith.  But being a Good Christian Girl, Shari immediately invited him to church so that she could get Conversion Points.  And there, Paul was seriously injured, through no fault of his own, by two villains: Talon…and Shari’s own brother.

Despite all this, Shari and Paul stayed together, Shari punching him in his injuries that were caused by her brother.  And throughout the next book, Paul continued to stay with Shari, because he apparently has so little self-esteem that he thinks it’s normal to be with someone who doesn’t care about you at all, and is only interested in your conversion.

But Shari always has to have things her way, and now she has decided it’s time for them to break up.  After all, two years is a long enough time to devote to any conversion prospect, and it’s clear that Paul enjoys the writings of Richard Dawkins far too much to ever become a really real RTC.

Now, I’ve talked before about how these books really want us to see Shari as innocent and sweet and kind, but she once again proves herself in this scene to be anything but.  Instead of letting Paul (who, let’s remember, has done exactly nothing wrong) down easy, she basically recites him a Reasons You Suck Speech.  One that goes on, and on, and on.

Poor Paul.

But we’re certainly not supposed to be thinking “Poor Paul.”  In fact, Phillips does a very strange thing here: he starts referring to Paul as “Wallach,” even though he has always been Paul.  And Shari is still “Shari,” not “Nelson.”  Just one more way to distance the reader from Paul as Shari dumps his sorry ass in the most painful way possible.

Shari does a nice little bit of misdirection to begin the breakup–she questions him about religion for one second, then switches gears to the fact that he has a scholarship from Barrington, and wants to work for him after he graduates (which I assume is this year).

Shari brings up her same old concerns about Barrington, principally that “Barrington’s company produces a lot of sleazy programs on television and radio.  They go against the moral fabric of society.  How can you be a part of that?

(Phillips apparently forgot that Shari doesn’t watch TV at all, so Paul isn’t allowed to point out that Shari has no firsthand knowledge of any of this.)

Phillips makes sure that no matter what Shari says, Paul is the one in the wrong.  For example:

“Paul, you know that I’ve always been honest with you and with my feelings.  I think that you’re being used.”

Wallach bristled and began to get defensive.  “No one is using me!” he exclaimed.

Geez, I can’t imagine why Paul is getting defensive…just because Shari invited him to coffee for the sole purpose of attacking and then dumping him.

“You’re just angry because I sometimes challenge your precious Dr. Murphy in class.  Not everyone believes in creation, you know,” Wallach said angrily.

“It’s not that at all, Paul.”

Liar, liar, Shari.  Stop bearing false witness.

Caught in a truth that probably hits just a bit too close to home, Shari shifts into sanctimonious lecture mode:

“I’m concerned with your values in life.  God doesn’t seem to be high on your list.  Money, power, and pride seem to be your focus.  Those things can be very attractive at first, but in the long run they destroy a person.”

Right, Shari.  That’s why God has never once rewarded his favorite followers with worldly possessions.

“I just want to get out of school and start earning some money.”

“Why, Paul?”

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Paul, who has way more patience than I do, actually responds seriously to this asinine question:

“I want money so I can buy things.”

“Things?”

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“Yeah.  Like a car, a house, a boat, or a plasma television…things!”

Yeah, so this is supposed to be the trap so that Shari can catch Paul in his own materialism, yet I find no fault with his goal of home or car ownership.  I mean, can you imagine Shari’s response if Paul had said he had no plans to ever get a job or buy a house?  Basically, there’s just no way Paul can win here.

 

“Well, after you buy all the things…”

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Sorry.  I’m pretty sure this is a mistake, and Shari was meant to say “buy all these things,” but this way is way funnier, so it all worked out.

“…then what are you going to do?”

“Have fun!”

Sounds like a plan.  I’m there, dude.

“Let me see if I understand,” Shari said slowly.

…in order to make him feel as small as possible.

“A job earns you money, so you can buy things, so you can have some fun.  Right?”

“Right.”

It is just so bizarre that Shari is treating Paul’s very normal goal of getting a job and earning some money as though he just told her his life goal was to kick as many puppies as possible.

“Paul, things don’t bring lasting happiness.  A car can wear out.  A house can burn down.  A boat can sink.  And a plasma television can break.  When that happens, where will your fun be?”

I guess it’ll be in the new car you get when you trade in the “worn out” one, and in the new house, boat, or TV you buy after the insurance payout.

“Everyone has to earn money to live!”

Ah, but Paul’s sensible response has no place in Shari’s little world.  (And damn, this is a long, annoying dumping.  And I was once dumped in a heartless way myself, so my bar is set pretty high.)

“I don’t disagree with working to provide for one’s family.”

Really?  Cause…it kinda sounds like you do.  At least when it’s Paul who’s doing the providing.

“But in all of our conversations, you haven’t talked about family, or service to the community, or contributing to the nation, or raising children with values that you can pass on.”

Yeah, he’s just been working his ass off to keep his scholarship and planning to find a job as soon as he graduates.  What a monster.

“Most of your conversations have been self-centered and me-focused.”

Remember, everyone, Shari is supposed to be the nice, sweet, sensitive person here.  As she dumps this poor, hapless guy with the world’s longest Reasons You Suck Speech.

She then quotes the Bible at the atheist, because that always works:

“Do not try to work together as equals with unbelievers, for it cannot be done.  How can right and wrong be partners?  How can light and darkness live together?”

Paul takes understandable offense at being told he is unequal to Shari and living in darkness.  Shari, bless her sensitive little heart, doesn’t deny for a second that she meant what she said, but goes on to “explain” the quote as meaning that they are “walking down separate roads.”  Which is a much nicer way of breaking up with someone and what she should have said in the first place, instead of telling Paul that he is a shallow, materialistic, selfish, evil idiot.

Who wants to get a job and was once knocked into a coma when he went to church at her behest.

Yanno, sometimes the way you are dumped says more about the character of the dumper than months of dating can.  There are nice ways to break things off with another person, and mean ways of doing so.  And even though I’m sure Paul is hurting right now, hopefully he’ll quickly realize that someone who would be so nasty is not someone he needs by his side as he performs the evil deeds of graduating college and beginning a career.

I’m just sorry for him that he wasted two years of his life on this Mean Girl.

But Phillips sure wants us to dislike Paul (oops, I mean “Wallach”) and side with Shari.  Because we are told that Shari starts crying as she finishes stomping on Paul’s heart.  Aww.  Poor widdle Mean Girl.

We aren’t told what Paul’s reaction to all this is.  What a surprise.  He’s just an atheist in darkness, after all.

TEC: Chapter 32: Maybe there were EVEN MOAR Arabs

Well, after that little detour into Crazy Conspiracy County, it’s nice to be back in the world of improbable partnerships between Islamic terrorists and white South African guns-for-hire.

Hey, it could happen!

Oh, and remember when Murphy went to Florida and Talon couldn’t take him out alone, even though he had a CAR and Murphy is kinda a dumbass?  Well, now that Isis is along, Talon has recruited THREE Arab terrorists to search ONE library for the pair.  So, go Isis, I guess.

The Arabs (hey, why bother to learn their names, right?) pretend to be interested in silly things like books, while Talon chats up the librarian.

Oh, and ALSO remember that time Paul Stepola cited Con Air in Soon, even though the movie came out years before he was born and might perhaps not be the kind of film to be considered a must-see classic by subsequent generations?  Well, Tim LaHaye and Bob Phillips share Jenkins’ love for 90s action films, as the interaction between Talon and the librarian mirrors the interaction between the villain and the bank worker in In the Line of Fire.  More on this as the scenes between them progress.

Or…maybe I’ve just seen too many 90s action films.

Anyway, Alvena Smidt is a typical librarian (at least in the minds of LaHaye and Phillips, I guess)–plump, nerdy, bespectacled, with a liking for obscure words, classical music, and polka-dot dresses.  Naturally, she is also a lonely sister, and is immediately attracted to Talon, especially because she’s South African, and recognizes his accent.  (Which I don’t even think he had in the first book, but I don’t care enough right now to go back and check.)  Talon couldn’t care less about her, since he’s a sociopath she’s a plump librarian, and just asks about Murphy and Isis.

“Oh, yes.  Who could miss that beautiful woman with the red hair.  She looked like a model.”

Isis’s newfound looks-like-a-model status: Confirmed again.

Said looks-like-a-model needs a potty break, so she ambles off, but because she’s a woman, she doesn’t notice Talon or The Arabs.  (The name of my new band!)  As she leaves, Murphy speculates as follows:

Whoever the Friends of the New World Order are, it’s certain that they are powerful and have an evil plan.  They succeeded in killing Dr. Anderson.  Will we be next?

Okay, I have no idea why Murphy thinks that killing Anderson was the work of the Friends of the New World Order.  Talon was behind the wheel of that SUV, and Murphy doesn’t even know that.  For all he knows, in fact, it could just be a random hit-and-run by a crazy driver.  And if the FotNWO wanted Anderson dead…well, Anderson was sitting in that nursing home for years, and they could have killed him in any number of ways, any time they wanted to.

And downstairs in the library, the TENSION MOUNTS, as Talon schools The Arabs on how not to just start shooting at two people in a library, since this will reduce their chances to mount a successful terror operation later.  Is it really so difficult to quietly dispatch two unarmed people in a large and not-very-busy building with tons of places to hide, and why are these guys taking orders from Talon?

Questions for the ages!

 

TEC: Chapter 31: MOAR Conspiracies

My mom asked me what I was doing with the blog right now, and I tried to explain some of Michael Murphy’s “ideas.”  This was her take on the whole thing:

“So they think the AntiChrist is going to be some kind of Nazi vampire?  Because I think being a Nazi vampire would make sense if you were the AntiChrist–you could do a lot of the work for yourself.”

Makes more sense to me than anything else I’ve read so far!

Anyway, you’d think, after three chapters of this, that we’d be done with RTC conspiracy theories.  But nope–time for more to pile up!

But first, a look at what makes The Perfect RTC Wife-to-Be:

Murphy looked up at Isis as she read, studying her face for a moment.  There was no question she was beautiful.  Her sparkling green eyes and red hair were striking.

It is a rule in this book that green eyes shall always be referred to as “sparkling“…whether those eyes belong to Isis…or Shari.  In Chapter 6, Murphy wishes he could “drown in [Isis’s] sparkling green eyes.”  And in Chapter 1, Murphy observes Shari’s “sparkling” green eyes, too.

Actually, since Shari has black hair, I guess Isis is a Significant Green-Eyed Redhead.

But there’s more!

She was smart, well-read, and could hold her own in almost any conversation.

“Her fine mind and ability to handle herself are the reasons I never tell her anything and don’t allow her to participate in discussions that are Man Talk!”

She was fun to be with and was not afraid to try things that were new and different.

I’m wracking my brain trying to think of a time when Murphy and Isis had fun together.  Sure, she tries things that are new and different…if you count the fact that she constaly puts her career on the line to secure funding for the pseudo-boyfriend whose success rate is only 50%.

She was independent and at the same time seemed to need his strength.

“She’ll probably be able to submit with little to no trouble!”

So in the continuation of Murphy and Isis’s constant fun-having, she fills him in on some of the genealogy of the future AntiChrist: in an act of research that is pretty shocking, Dr. Anderson found out that the AntiChrist’s egg donor’s mother AND the AntiChrist’s inseminated mother’s mother were both prostitutes.

Oh, and the father of the inseminated mother was a “Gypsy chieftain,” allowing Murphy to observe that Gypsies “are well-known for fortune-telling” and into lots of scams.  Raise your hand if you’re surprised that, on top of everything, Murphy is anti-Romani.

Murphy observes this of Alfred Meinrad, the sperm provider for the AntiChrist:

“He was a scientist and had a Ph.D. in astrophysics and a second Ph.D. in microbiology.  He was a very outspoken atheist and evolutionist.”

That BASTARD!

(Oh, and I wonder if Murphy might just be a teensy bit jealous of the good doctor, who has one more Ph.D. than our favorite adventurer.)

So the AntiChrist is descended from whores and god-deniers.  Whereas last time they made an AntiChrist, he was descended from not one, but TWO homosexuals.

Wonder which of their Most Hated Humans LaJenkins will use next time?

And the hits just keep on coming, as the truth comes out, to the shock of all: the AntiChrist’s ancestors have SPOOKY NAMES.

I’m serious.  We spend a page on this.  Spooky names.

“Michael, Michael!  Listen!” Isis exclaimed, reviewing the genealogy.  “You know that I can read and speak many languages.”

“Sure.  I know that.”

As do we all.

“Look at these names.  Zigana Averna: Zigana is Hungarian for ‘gypsy’ and Averna is Latin for ‘queen of the underworld.’

So “speaking many languages” means “knowing the meaning of every given name and surname in that language,” eh?

“Mariana Yakov: Mariana is Russian for ‘rebellious’ and Yakov is Russian for ‘supplanter’–one who takes the place of another.

I’m not sure which is sadder: that Isis thinks that Murphy doesn’t know the meaning of the word “supplanter,” or that she thinks Bible scholar Murphy doesn’t know the history of the name JACOB.

“Keres Mazikeen: Keres is Greek for ‘evil spirits’ and Mazikeen is Jewish for ‘elf like beings who can change shapes.’

“Alfred Meinrad: Alfred is Italian for ‘counselor to the elves,’ and Meinrad is German for ‘strong advisor.’

Holy shit.  Alfred Meinrad is the most bad-ass name ever.

“Carmine Anguis: Carmine is Latin for ‘crimson’ and Anguis is Latin for ‘dragon.’

“Kala Matrinka: Kala is Egyptian for ‘black’ and Matrinka is Egyptian for ‘divine mother.’

“And finally Calinda Anguis: Calinda is Latin for ‘fiery’ and Anguis is Latin for ‘dragon.’

From all this, Isis now concludes that the situation is “really spooky” and “scary.”

This is coming from a woman named ISIS.  Who got teased for that name as a kid.  And she thinks other people’s names are spooky.

This is also the author of the book, congratulating himself that the names he chose for his characters are spooky and scary.

But how does that work in the world of the book?  Did the Friends of the New World Order scour the globe for a family with appropriately-spooky names?  Did God put the ideas for spooky names into the parents’ heads so the AntiChrist would be spooky enough?

Regardless, it’s all SPOOKY, eh?

And we all know how easily Isis is spooked.

Woman that she is.  Who needs Murphy’s strength.  To fight the spooky names.

 

 

TEC: Chapter 30: Rio de Conspiracy

With a clear plan to confirm Murphy’s wild conspiracy speculations, we now check in with The Seven (TSAN!) during their planning meeting.

This time, they’ve opted to meet in Rio, which is cool.  What’s not cool is the way the story manages to contradict itself immediately:

John Bartholomew thinks that Rio is a great city to meet in because it’s “one of the most crowded cities in the world.”

Then he thinks how nice it was of Señor Mendez to book them a huge villa at Copacabana Beach, “a secluded spot where they would be alone.”

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Then he thinks how funny it is that they’ll be planning to “destroy Christianity, the rule of law, and set the stage for the Anti-Christ in the shadow of Corcovado Mountain with the giant Christ the Redeemer Statue on top.”

Okay, admittedly, that is fairly bad-ass.

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Or it would be, if they were actually DOING something instead of once again hitting the planning phase of the…plan.  Man, three books in, and they’re still going over hard-copy (REALLY???) to-do lists of their nefarious schemes.

Admittedly, it is hilarious the way they talk about their plans.  I kinda like these planning stages, just for the way they phrase things:

“We have begun to plant the suggestion into the minds of key UN leaders to consider moving the United Nations organization from the United States to Babylon in Iraq. … Rebuilding Babylon will bring back Arab pride and give them all something to focus their energy on. … The United States would still have to support the UN or be accused of being Arab-phobic.”

I wonder if LaPhillips are speaking from experience with this whole weird accusations-of-being-“Arab-phobic” thing.

BECAUSE MAYBE THERE WERE MORE ARABS!

(I’ll never get tired of that line.)

Then they talk about their plans for wars and rumors of wars:

“We have begun a plan to create a crisis between India and Pakistan. … We have already started stirring up the North Koreans over the nuclear issue.”

I’d love to know how they’re actually accomplishing this.  I have a feeling they’re just taking credit for what’s already happening.

Then they talk about trade and it’s just as boring as talking about trade always is.

Then they get to the smallpox and anthrax attacks they’re planning, which also sound like a bad-ass way to spread panic, but once again, we’re given no details.

Then on to the stock market.  Zzzzzzzz…

Okay, now the fun stuff:

“We will infuse money into the Americans’ next presidential election.  Our plan is to support those candidates who are more liberal and socialistic in their thinking.”

Because we all know that those eeeevil libruls are but a step from the Anti-Christ himself!

Oh, and then they have this bizarre sub-plan to set a bunch of fires.  Yes, actual fires.  So that…firefighters will be kept busy, or something:

“The plan is to cause erosion problems, which will lead to increased runoff, mudslides, and flooding.  Hopefully this will damage crops, structures, and transportation.”

Everyone nodded in agreement.  The plan sounded wonderful to them.

If you say so, man.

On to the religion plans!

“We will begin funding various religious leaders and also begin to call for all faiths to unite.”

“We’ll fund individuals and also work to bring everyone together equally!  This is sure to work!”

“We will push for the universal brotherhood of man.”

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“We will support and encourage the homosexual community.”

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“Those who oppose them will be ridiculed, threatened, punished.  We can do this by instituting legislation that will take away critical tax advantages for churches and religious organizations.”

It’s hilarious that this would qualify as threatening or punishing.  Still, the tax idea?  Nice.  I approve.

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“Any who oppose our plan can be accused of hate speech and jailed for nonconformity.”

Jailed for nonconformity?  Are they for real?  This is what LaPhillips think American secularists are into?  Jailing people for nonconformity?

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Man, American Christians have it so tough, don’t they?  In a novel written by two RTCs, fictional villains talk about the possibility of jailing people…for nonconforming thoughts on gay rights.  No wonder preachers are constantly prepping their flocks for persecution.

Oh, and The Seven (TSAN!) end the meeting saying it will all come together if Talon does his job.  Which I wouldn’t bank on, given how he still hasn’t even managed to kill Murphy, a man who takes zero precautions whatsoever with his own safety and security.

Damn, looks like the atheist-theosophical-UN-librul-LGBT-Catholic-feminist-socialist-Arab-forest-fighting worldwide conspiracy is screwed.

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