Soon: Chapter 29: Four-Eyes

Paul goes to Spec’s place–an office “located [in] a row of single-story brick buildings housing movie postproduction facilities.”

Paul gets himself in by playing his NPO card, but why he bothered, I don’t know, since Specs is just enormously up-front about the billboard hacking.  Seriously, is this the way an innocent man talks?

“You’re suspected of being the projectionist who’s vandalized billboards and the Hollywood sign.” [Paul said]

Holywood, you mean?” Specs said, smiling.

Paul nodded.  “How do you do it?”

“Whoever’s doing it, it would all be a matter of hacking.  I love the term projectionist, though it is, of course, archaic and inaccurate.  These high-tech visuals are all run off computers, so if a person did want to mess with them, he would have to understand the inner workings of the machines…”

And on and on he rambles, incriminating himself to anyone with half a brain.  Fortunately, Paul doesn’t need half a brain–he’s an Underground Zealot!

Paul intertwined his fingers behind his head.  “So with you unwilling to admit it’s you, and with us unable to find evidence on your equipment, it’s a stalemate?”

“Given those variables.”

I gotta say that it’s quite cruel of Paul to make Specs think he has actually been found out.  He did the same thing with St. Stephen, but he meant to both be cruel and make him reveal himself.  In this case, no one is watching, Paul already knows it’s Specs, and…well, I guess Paul just liked to drag things out to make it as painful as possible for everyone.

Finally, Paul gets down to things:

“How about another variable?  What if I were to tell you that I am your brother in Christ and that the only reason I don’t have my penny to prove it is that I have not made contact with the local underground leadership?”

Specs cocked his head and folded his arms.  “Now there is a conundrum.”

“How so?”

“If I were who you think I am, I would want this to be true so badly that I would declare myself.  But if you are not who you say you are, my words could convict me.”

Yeah, because your words have been so innocent so far.

Paul leaned forward, elbows on his knees.

Gotta love these posture changes–from casually negligent to aggressive in a heartbeat.  But yeah, he has all kinds of sympathy for poor Specs, his “brother.”

[Paul said] “I am who I say I am, and you can believe it because I say it in the name of the risen Christ, who said, ‘My purpose is to give life–‘”

“‘–in all its fullness,'” Specs shook his head.  

(This is the Christian code phrase for the L.A. Underground.)

“So you’re that guy?  You’re really that guy?”

Specs has been successfully hacking the Hollywood signs and billboards for weeks, staying out of sight the whole time, but what’s really impressive is some dude in the NPO who’s getting all his information from some other dude in Chicago who has been a Christian for years. 

Specs (who, of course, looks the part of the stereotypical hacker: short, balding, pale) starts crying at this revelation, and I can’t help but think that it is also because Paul has been toying with him for ten minutes, too.

And here it is, THE LINE that I mentioned last time:

“It’s an honor to meet you, sir,” Paul said.  Then, imitating John Malkovich in Con Air, “Love your work.”

That made Specs laugh.


Con Air was made in 1997.  I remember it as being a fun film, but does Jerry Jenkins really think that of all the films in all the world, the ones that will survive World War III and remain well-known, such that random lines are quaotable and recognizable even to people born decades after the films were made, are Casablanca, True Grit, and CON AIR???

Hell, I liked Con Air.  And I mentioned this Soon scene to Angus, and he immediately recognized the line.  This is not terribly surprising, since Angus was a teenage guy when it came out.

Honestly, if Jenkins wanted to use this movie in his Atheistopian novel, why not have Ranold reference it?  He is the one who would remember it firsthand.

Angus also reminded me of something wonderful about this line.  He remembered that it was spoken by John Malkovich’s character (a criminal), complimenting Steve Buscemi’s character, another criminal.  Although “criminal” is a rather mild term, since the “work” that is so “loved” happens to be SERIAL KILLING.

So Paul’s admiration of Specs’ billboard vandalism is compared to an admiration of SERIAL KILLING.

Did Jenkins think about this at all?  AT ALL???

I guess not, because now that the ice is broken with a Con Air reference, Paul starts telling Specs all about the NPO’s mission to track down him and the L.A. underground in general.  He is doing this when he gets a Skull Phone call from Ranold, telling him to get to South Central L.A.

Turns out Ranold and Bia have made good on their promise to Quash ‘n Dismantle the underground.

More on that next time.  😀

Posted on January 21, 2012, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. Um, just ‘cos the projector is run by a computer that doesn’t mean the person operating it isn’t a projectionist.

    Of course, no Atheistapo officer would ever claim to be someone’s brother in Christ if he wasn’t really.

  2. What’s this smanchy-panchy ‘evidence’ Paul says he needs and Specs seems to bank his safety on with his pathetic non-denials. Those SWAT guys back in San Fransisco wiped out an entire house of civilians that were no direct threat to them, hadn’t sabotaged anything in the city yet, had no weapons and only a few overheared christian phrases on record. Now Specs who HAS performed acts of sabotage is pretty much admitting it’s him but in such a way it isn’t a admissable confession in court and he expects due process will protect him? If it had been Raynold talking to him, wouldn’t he have just said “Yeah, I can’t prove it, but I know it’s you so *BLAM**BLAM**BLAM*”? Consistency is nice!

    BTW, how did Paul find Specs? Did the zealots tell him or his NPO people? In the latter case, isn’t it possible to hack that skullphone of Paul and listen in all the time in case, say, Raynold, decides he doesn’t trust Paul enough?

    • It was Straight who told Paul where to find Specs. Oh, and Straight also told Paul to be careful and that he would probably be watched, especially because Ranold was in charge.

      Remember that. 😉

  3. I have no idea how Specs thinks Paul is the real deal when he could have just gotten the sign and countersign from someone else who ratted out to save his/her own skin.

    And lulz @ Con Air. Not exactly the most memorable movie of the 1990s. Now, Terminator 2, yes.

  4. Then, imitating John Malkovich in Con Air, “Love your work.”

    Um, if Jenkins can’t trust his audience *today* to place the line, why should we believe that anyone in atheistopia will be able to?

  5. “I love the term projectionist, though it is, of course, archaic and inaccurate.”

    “Much like my glasses.”

  6. “Paul nodded. “How do you do it?”

    The correct answer is, “I didn’t do it.” Ohhhhh, but THAT would a LIE! An eeeeevil, anti-Christian, atheist-loving LIE! And we all knows that Jenkins can never let one of his RTC’s tell one itty bitty tiny lie, ever. (Of course, Specs could have said, “I can’t tell you how I did something if I never did it in the first place” — that would have been accurate if misleading.)

    “Con Air.” *siiiiiigh* I’m trying to give Jenkins credit for referencing a somewhat recent movie (recent, compared to the publishing date) and yet I can’t quite manage it. “True Grit” and “Casablanca” keep getting in the way.

    I’m willing to let Jenkins get away with describing Specs the hacker as “pale” but only because the three hackers I know personally are, in fact, on the pasty side. But the hackers I know are all quite hairy, and the shortest one is 6 foot exactly (*gasp* they’re tall enough to Jenkins protagonists! eep!)

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Six foot exactly?

      I’ve been reading Manly Wade Wellman’s “Silver John” collection recently (Appalachian supernatural), and one of the things mentioned in the stories was an Appalachian folk belief that only Jesus Christ was “six foot exactly” (gasp).

  7. …well, I guess Paul just liked to drag things out to make it as painful as possible for everyone.

    Particularly the reader.

  8. Hopefully Paul will be asked to repackage a stuffed animal at some point.

  9. Headless Unicorn Guy

    Question: Is Con Air one of Jenkins’ favorite movies? If so, it could be a case of “It’s MY fave, so it has to be everybody’s.”

    So Paul’s admiration of Specs’ billboard vandalism is compared to an admiration of SERIAL KILLING.

    Did Jenkins think about this at all? AT ALL???

    In short, NO. You expected anything else from the Greatest Christian Author of All Time?

    • I have to admit I was at least somewhat suprised that Jenkins has apparently seen Con Air. It’s hardly a proper moral christian film, what with several of the cons being portrayed nicely instead of all deserving of jail in preparation for hellfire (apart from Cage’s character who got strawmanned into jail, there’s his black buddy and Steve who gets off free). Or perhaps he only saw the trailer and that’s why he knows the line but doesn’t know what it is said about.

      Anyway, any (and I use the term very loosly) admiration for Jenkins having seen Con Air goes right out the window since this is such an ill-fitting reference to it, a movie that’s hardly a classic is known by a guy who wasn’t born when it came out, that it looks like he really wanted to show to his audience “Look, I saw this movie, ain’t I edgy? Huh? Huh?”

      • This. A lot!

        I agree that Jenkins probably was told something about Con Air, or saw some portion of it, and was like “Ah! I know! I will refer to this movie!” not realizing that to treat it as a ‘classic’ requires something of an unfounded leap of faith (ha-ha, see what I did there) that strains the suspension of disbelief.

        I mean, what about Gattaca? Terminator 2? Other movies that in some way became widespread and popular for several years or which tried to explore deep questions about what it means to be human?

        But no, it has to be some movie that probably only has a small cult-classic following. Ugh Jenkins WHY DO YOU SUCK.

  10. I admit, I’ve never seen Con Air. I almost want to, now… >_>

  11. Jenkins might have been thinking of another 1997 movie when he wrote this scene: Absolute Power, when the infamous cat burglar played by Clint Eastwood is questioned by police about what he may know about a break-in in which the trophy wife of a very wealthy supporter of the President’s was murdered.

    IIRC, the conversation was similar. The police ask how he managed to get past the home’s extensive security system, and his answer is along the lines of, “Not saying I did it, but if I had done it, this is how I would have done it.”

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