Friday, November 21, 2014

The Quest for Forgiveness: Chapter 6, Part 1

Last time, Ethan's trial went decidedly not well. He left prison mentally broken and settled down in a town in Wyoming. But that's enough of how awful his life is, apparently. Back to Brijanna!

The flashback continues from Brijanna's perspective after she was taken away from Ethan. Things go badly for her:
During the trial Janna was taken to a foster home in Phoenix, and her life returned to the way it was before she met Ethan Anderson.
Which I would assume meant she was in an orphanage where she was not allowed to have ropes. It's moderately close: she's bounced from foster family to foster family, including one that abuses her for real but she keeps quiet because she's worried nobody will believe her after the charges she made earlier that she knows were false.

This would be a good point in the story to explain why Brijanna made the false accusations in the first place, but nope. Understanding our character's back story is less important than just telling us life got tough after she lied. And life gets TOUGH.

Apparently every single foster home forbids her from doing just about everything, like playing the guitar, writing songs, or doing extracurricular activities, and they pawn her belongings. Not surprisingly, she chooses to run away right before her fifteenth birthday. She gets a job in a Phoenix diner and lives with anyone who will shelter her. One day, she finds her guitar in a pawn shop, so she buys it and hitchhikes to L.A. to be a famous singer.

She gets another restaurant job and sleeps with anyone who claims they will offer her a record deal, though that never happens, so by the time she's sixteen she's jaded and has decided she's never going to love anyone again.

She leaves L.A. and goes to Nashville instead, changing her name to Brianna. She'll be called Brianna for the rest of the story, so I'm going to return to calling her that as well. She gets a waitressing job but is still homeless. On top of that:
Guilt consumed Brianna day and night . The gnawing fact that she knowingly hurt the one person in her life that cared most about her began to take a toll. Ethan Anderson was never far away in her thoughts.
Well, this is the first I've heard about it in two pages (and two years of Brianna's life). Apparently the guilt wasn't that bad until she was homeless.

Also, again, Rothdiener, now would be a good time to tell us why she did that in the first place...

One day, at work, Brianna starts playing the piano and sings a song she wrote herself. As is the problem with so many Mary Sues who are proclaimed to be The Best at things, hyping it up leads to a lot of disappointment when you actually have to show how awesome it is. Brianna's song is... less than amazing. I mean, it's decent for being written by a 16-year-old, but it's not spectacular. Consider a few tunes written by actual teenagers ("The Man With the Child In His Eyes" by Kate Bush, "Royals" by Lorde, and "Fake Tales of San Francisco" by Arctic Monkeys, to name a few of the more acclaimed ones) and you'll realize the bar is set a little higher than "put some rhyming thoughts together."

Frankly, though, Brianna can't even do that. Her song has has no discernible pattern, with random rhymes and bits that are either verses for a different tune or really really long bridges. These lyrics awe everyone and are later described as "sad, but captivating." Sad I'll give you. Brianna clearly wasn't having a good time while she was writing it. Captivating... the jury's still out on that one.

It's also extremely melodramatic and cliched. It sounds like a worse version of Taylor Swift's early music, and I have yet to hear any adults be complete blown away by the poignancy of Taylor's first album, as everyone seems to be here for Brianna's song in the diner.

In fact, gang, I think we might just have to take up the rest of this blog entry going through her song bit by bit, because the more I look at it to figure out what to comment on, the less I can make sense of it.

So here we go.
I used to sit and watch the sunrise,
Never by myself 
I used to run along the sandy beaches, 
Enjoying the sun 
I used to love without regretting, 
But those days are done
All right, we do have a rhyme here, so kudos to Brianna for that. (We will lose it in Possible Verse #2.) However, that is an awful first line. Watching the sunrise by yourself isn't a terribly melancholy image. In fact, I can think of more movies and books describing a solo sunrise viewing than a group sunrise viewing, and it's nearly always a peaceful image.

The song is quite literal (especially on Possible Verse #2), so I can only assume that that means she really never watched sunrises by herself. Maybe that's why it's especially lonely for her. Because she grew up thinking you just always watch the sunrise in pairs.

(These lyrics, btw, bear a bit of a resemblance to the opening lines of I Dreamed a Dream... except that song is easily 10,000 times better than this one.)
Now I sit and cry all alone, 
Now I walk the streets of this city 
Now I question if love was ever real, 
Before there was rain 
Yes, before there was rain
There is a nice lyrical parallel here between sit/run in the verse and sit/walk here. It's all a little dramatic and over-the-top (though I suppose it does literally describe her life), but it's OK. Note, however, that there's no apparent rhyme here. Because there suddenly will be in Chorus #2. If we thought Chorus #2 was the overall rhyme pattern, this chorus would look like it was trying to rhyme "alone" and "city." But, hey, maybe I'm jumping to conclusions. Maybe those rhyme in a Phoenix accent. Maybe they pronounce "alone" like "aloitty."

Now we expect a second verse, somewhat like the first one in format...
I look to the time of no more heartache, 
I look forward to that time coming 
I remember the time of happiness and love, 
The time I felt a part of life 
A time made just for us 
Now I see that time has ended
I feel no need to remember, 
I feel as if I’m all alone
...What? What is this?

No, seriously, what is this?

At first I thought maybe this was a bridge and she just got bored after writing the first verse/chorus, but there are even more lyrics after this before we head back to anything remotely resembling what we've seen so far. What this song looks like is: "Verse, Chorus, 14 lines from my diary that I haven't bothered to work into the song, Verse, Chorus."

There's no rhyming whatsoever here, aside from internally rhyming "time" with itself six lines in a row. And while I think you can totally do interesting things with repetition like that, you have to do interesting things with it. You can't just insert the word into random places in each line. That just sounds like you took a break after each line, completely forgot what you'd written thus far and thought when you came back, "Oh, hey, I should write something abut time."

And also, what the heck do these words mean?

We have:

  1. Looking forward to a happier time
  2. Looking back to a happier time
  3. There is no time
  4. I don't need to remember things because I'm alone
This is so random. There's no logical progression in these thoughts at all. The first and the second are connected, but there's no reason she'd be jumping from one to the next. The first couple lines sound like they're seguing onto the next section of the song, maybe a hopeful or a desperate "maybe someday will get better" theme... but then that's just completely abandoned in favor of "I DREAMED A DREAM IN TIMES GONE BYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY."

Can I write a super amazing song by just putting the same random word into eight lines that have nothing to do with each other? Because I guess that's all it takes. I think I shall choose the word "eggplant."
Are you there? 
I’m calling to you 
But I just hear silence 
Nothing coming from anywhere 
There is no hope 
Only sorrow
Yup, not sure what to do with this section either. I'd say it's a bridge but the last section might be a bridge since it in no way resembles the rest of the song, so maybe she just has two bridges because putting them together into a third verse was just a ludicrous idea.

OH MY GOSH NO WAIT MAYBE IT'S A RAP BREAK

That would be the most awesome answer EVER. Verse, chorus, rap with no noticeable rhythm or rhyme, verse, chorus. You could maybe even smooth over that awful "time" section by making it a rap. Maybe.

Also, I think this verse is talking about God? Although, since we never heard Brianna's side of the story about the abuse, we also have zero idea what she thinks of God. In the trial they said she wanted to be Muslim again, but we have no particular reason to think that's true. We don't even know if she still believes in God at all. So who knows what this part is about, really?
What can break me from this pit of despair? 
I used to hold him in the moonlight 
Look deep into his eyes 
See the depths of wonder 
It was a dream I surmise
And here, in Verse #3 (or maybe Verse #2, hadonno), we're suddenly back to rhyming, which is too bad, because if she'd just completely given up on rhyming we maybe wouldn't have lines as awful as "It was a dream I surmise." Seriously, if you don't have to rhyme with "eyes," there's no reason to include that.

This verse is as scattered as the rest of the song. While I've presented the lyrics to you exactly as they are broken up in the book, it's pretty clear that that lyric belongs with the bridge duo beforehand. The rest of the verse is a logical thought -- a simple memory of, uh, apparently holding Ethan in the moonlight and seeing depths of wonder in his eyes, which is a weirdly romantic image given that we as the audience know that Ethan did not develop a creepy romantic relationship with his adopted daughter.

Anyway, the rest of the verse is kind of cohesive. But starting the verse off with "SO MUCH DESPAIR" makes the sudden subject change really jarring. It's like she got distracted mid-sentence: "Ohhhhhh, how will I ever not be despair agai-- Oh, HEY, remember that time I held him in the moonlight?"
Why did you leave me? 
Where did you go? 
Did I ever mean anything to you? 
Or was it all for show? 
Are you there... are you there? 
Before there was rain 
Before there was rain 
Yes, before there was rain
Oh, and there's that sudden rhyme scheme that wasn't in the original chorus. It's fine if songs and poems don't want to rhyme, but rhyme-no rhyme-no-rhyme-no rhyme-rhyme-rhyme is a WEIRD way to do it.

It's also rather difficult to fit into the original chorus' rhythm. You have to smoosh two lines together to make it fit, either "Did I ever mean anything to you or what it all for show" or "Or was it all for show are you there are you there." Either way, it's awkward.

Also, we're back to talking to... maybe God again. Or maybe Ethan. But that'd be stupid, because Ethan left her because she falsely accused him of abuse, and he went to jail, and there's no reason to think his love was all for show. Either way, this song is all over the place. If you read it as a breakup song from a dumpee, it kind of works, especially the romantic imagery -- but the book makes a big deal talking about how Brianna writes from her own experiences, so I have no idea who this is about. Secret boyfriend Rothdiener forgot to tell us about?

So that's Brianna's song. Now let me be clear. This is not an AWFUL song. For being written by someone between the ages of 14 and 16, it's fine. It's clearly coming from her heart. But it is not something that should instantly amaze everyone who hears it. It sounds like it was written by a teenager who doesn't have a deeper understanding of storytelling, metaphor, and lyrical sound.

Note that these sections in the book are broken up by random gushing descriptions of people reacting:

"[The customers] stopped talking [and] listened..."
"Brianna continued her poignant tune..."
"Brianna stunned the patrons with her vocal ability..."
"...awed by the young girl's talent..."
"...mesmerized by Brianna's stage presence..."
"...she continued to enchant the small audience..."

Some of this refers to the voice, melody, and presentation, which, granted, we can't see. But Rothdiener's been gushing all book long about how amazing a lyricist she is, and, um... turns out we can't see that either.

Incidentally, if anyone musically inclined wants to make up a tune for this and record it and try to make it work... I would love to see someone try to straighten this out. Just remember, the melody has to be breathtaking haunting, poignant, and beautiful, according to the book. And it needs to be sung by someone with a voice that is amazing, stunning, awe-inspiring, amazing (again), beautiful, full, the most incredible, and that sends chills down people's arms. Easy peasy.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tune In Thursday: "Boy From New York City" by Manhattan Transfer


This week's Tune In choices both landed on the jazzy side of things. This is a fun, upbeat pop jazz song that I really enjoy.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Blog Request: NaNoWriMo

Last week I asked you guys what you wanted me to write about, and I got quite a few very cool ideas -- I will definitely be tackling them whenever I have nothing in particular I want to write about.

I wanted to address this one first, seeing as how we've just passed the halfway point of November:

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? If yes, what's it about? If no, what are the top few ideas you want to write about someday?

I absolutely am doing NaNoWriMo this year, although it's been a bit of an odd journey. I started off writing a Christian coming-of-age story, sort of the anti-God's Not Dead. The central idea was of a very sheltered girl heading off to a secular college, ready to do battle for God in an anti-Christian environment. But when she gets there, she finds that things don't seem to be lining up the way she thought they would. Most people don't seem to be that hostile about her faith, they just don't care and the few times she tries to stand up for God by challenging a teacher on evolution or God's existence, it doesn't go at all as she expects. She wonders if she's not being bold enough, but ultimately she figures out she's not even a little bit prepared for what the real world is like, and she has to find a way to re-shape her faith a little bit without abandoning it.

So I was all excited about this idea, had a lot of cool things I wanted to explore, but about four days in, I remembered why I don't ever write dramatic YA growing-up stories. They're so boring to write.

So then this happened, in the middle of my MC getting advice from her mom on the phone:
I knew she was right. But I was bored of this story. 
Let's take a detour. 
When I got back to my dorm room, it was empty. In fact, I realized, I hadn't seen another person on the way back from class. That's weird, I thought. On Monday the campus was buzzing all day. 
I pulled the curtains back and peeked out my window. Nope, nobody there. I stared at the walkway for almost a full five minutes, but nobody walked past. The ugly gray cloudy sky seemed somehow darker and more oppressive. 
I tried to tell myself I was crazy. Maybe there was a big event going on and everybody was attending that. Maybe it was a sports thing. I hadn't paid any attention to the sports things. Shannon was a sports nut, so that would explain why she wasn't here either. 
I peeked my head out into the hallway and then wandered through the halls, taking a moment to peek in doors that were open. Nobody. 
When I got to the end of the hall, I found Rachael's office, closed but with the blinds open, and with a clear sign on the door: "In from 10-6." 
It was 11:30 right now. 
Maybe she was off at lunch, I told myself, though I tried the door and it was unlocked. Rachael wouldn't leave her door unlocked when she went to lunch, would she? She had given us a huge lecture the other night about how important it was to lock our own doors when we weren't there, just as a matter of safety, because that way if anyone got into the building sneaking in behind someone else, they couldn't go into any rooms that didn't let them in. 
So why would she leave her door unlocked in the middle of the day and not be here? 
Maybe she just ran down the hall to make a copy or check on someone. 
So I sank down to the floor next to the door and patiently waited. 
And that is how my quiet coming-of-age Christian story turned into a survival horror Left Behind-style story, though the one in charge of all these disappearances is definitely not God. I'm not sure what's going on here (and I doubt I'm ever going to explain it in the story), but a huge chunk of the population is gone, and periodically more just disappear. My character is convinced it is God, although she's not sure how or why, since this isn't how she's ever heard the rapture preached. She may accidentally start a cult eventually. Still debating on that one.

Also, Jacob requested that I include him in the story as a murderer. I named a character after him and he turned out to be just the worst person (last chapter, he got punched in the face and everyone cheered) so I don't think people are going to be surprised when he's a murderer.

I'm currently about 5000 words behind, but I'm slowly catching up, so I'm optimistic that I'm going to make it this year.

I don't have any other stories currently mulling around inside my brain, but there are a few written/half-written past NaNo projects I'd love to play around with some more. I'll have to talk about those some other time.

How about you guys? Are you NaNoing? If so, what are you writing about, and how is it going?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tune In Tuesday: "Purpose" by Michael Winther


From the awesome Avenue Q Swings concert, featuring jazzy renditions of Avenue Q songs. This is one of the more family friendly ones.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Whatever Is... Honorable

Whoo, finally getting this one written! Sorry for the huge gap in between this one and the last one -- I kept forgetting to put it all together.

Today's word is "honorable," but as I said in my last Whatever Is blog, there are a lot of differing interpretations for this one:
Looking up the original Greek word, I found this: semnós (an adjective derived from sébomai, "to revere, be in awe") – properly, what is august (dignified, has "gravitas"); weighty, deeply respected because viewed as majestic (having "gravity"); grave. 
This gets translated as all kinds of things. A quick glance at Bible Gateway translations gives me answers like honorable, honest, worthy of reverence, seemly, holy, noble, worthy of respect, respected, chaste, and grave. The most common by far, however, are "honorable" and "noble."
While I definitely chose a few that deliver messages about honor and nobility, I was also really struck by the definitions that were on the side of "grave" or "deeply respected because of... having gravity." It made me think of a few movies that are really hard to watch but deliver some important messages or tell important stories -- movies that treat grave issues gravely without sentimentalizing or trivializing them. So I wanted to look at that side of it as well, since I thought that was a fascinating interpretation of the word.


Grave of the Fireflies (1988). This was actually one of the first ones that came to mind when I chose the interpretation I wanted to focus on. This has been called by many people "the saddest movie in the world," and I can absolutely agree with that. It is heartbreaking. The story centers on a boy and his younger sister living in Japan during World War II, as they find themselves orphaned, homeless, and eventually dying. It's one of the most intense stories I've ever seen about how war can seriously impact innocent citizens, not just soldiers. There have been a lot of stories about the horrors of war, but this movie was one of the ones that really hit it home for me.


Requiem for a Dream (2000). This was another no-brainer for me. I've heard people say that this movie did more to dissuade them from trying drugs than anything else, and that it should be shown in high schools. While I can't imagine a high school ever being willing to screen this, I do think it's the most powerful movie I've ever seen about substance addiction.

One cut of the movie is even rated NC-17 (though I've only seen the R-rated version), but the images earning it that rating are in no way prurient or enticing. They're terrifying. If there ever was a movie that should not be edited, it's this one. Watching this movie and the depths to which these characters' addictions take them makes plain the ugliness of their addiction. It's not romantic or exciting. It's destructive beyond all belief, and this movie is a movie that is not afraid to treat the subject the way it deserves.


Casablanca (1942). After a couple of hard-hitters there, here are a few movies that focus more on the more common meaning of "honorable" and "noble". (There are spoilers ahead, although I think most people know how this one ends by now.)

In this movie, Humphrey Bogart's character, Rick, has determined that, in his own words, "I stick my neck out for nobody." As the plot unfolds, he has an opportunity to run away with the wife of a resistance leader fighting for freedom during World War II. When the time comes for him to make his decision, he instead chooses not to take that opportunity, giving this beautiful speech:
Last night we said a great many things. You said I was to do the thinking for both of us. Well, I've done a lot of it since then, and it all adds up to one thing: you're getting on that plane with Victor where you belong. . . . You have any idea what you'd have to look forward to if you stayed here? Nine chances out of ten, we'd both wind up in a concentration camp. . . . Inside of us, we both know you belong with Victor. You're part of his work, the thing that keeps him going. If that plane leaves the ground and you're not with him, you'll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life. . . . Ilsa, I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you'll understand that.
Rick makes the decision to reenter the fight for the right, even at the expense of his own romantic happiness. He's become bitter and cynical over the years, and we as the audience fully expect him to have the happily-ever-after ending he's been hoping for, but deep down he knows this is not the right time or place for that, and he ultimately chooses to do the right thing, the honorable thing, instead of being self-serving, as he has been for so long.


Frozen (2013). Gosh, there is just moment after moment in this film about honor -- self-sacrifice all over the place, especially in two almost-deaths, though once is more dramatic than the other. Olaf nearly dies saving Anna's life by lighting a fire to keep her warm, and Anna nearly dies dying saving Elsa's life at the end, as well as a lot of other smaller ones. And along the way, honor yields good things: lives are saved, lives are transformed, and in the end everything is restored. I've described this movie as "the anti-Little Mermaid," because for Ariel personal happiness trumps wisdom, honor, kindness, and patience, but in Frozen the exact opposite message is sent. Even Elsa had to learn this lesson -- in "Let It Go," she delights in the fact that her need to do the proper thing (not even necessarily the right thing) is no longer suffocating her, but eventually she learns that shutting everybody out for her own good is not good for her or for others.

That's my list! I also asked on my blog and on my Facebook page for people to suggest movies that exemplified the word "honorable" or "noble" and got some great choices -- here's what they suggested!




Ikiru. To find purpose to helping others without expectation of recognition. -- Lauren










Cyrano de Bergerac. That movie always makes me tear up. He stuck to his ideals past personal pain and hardships. He would go hungry and be love sick and even loved someone so much that he would try to give them the person they wanted even if it wasn't him. --Christian






Lars and the Real Girl, and Waitress. Both films deal with honorable behavior...people making noble sacrifices and doing the right thing, for the sake of someone else, even when it's hard, even when it seems impossible, even when it makes themselves unhappy, but they go ahead and do it anyways because it's what's right even when they really really don't want to. Even when doing the wrong thing seems so easy....and that it would make them personally happy. They are actions that in my opinion are more honorable then going on some epic quest or fighting in some epic battle. In many ways they are actions that are a lot harder then that, because it takes a much true sense of honor and nobility. They're films about people who do the right thing, and that's truly honorable.

In retrospect I would also include Spanglish with the two I mentioned and for the same reasons. I think Flor is deeply honorable. --Naomi



I'm gonna go brawn here and throw down Gladiator and 300, man or group of men fighting for their honor. Spartans don't back down and throw away who they are to an evil empire, even if it meant death. --Timothy










Babette's Feast. The witness of genuine sacrificial love vs. self-martyrdom. Though the movie is rather "gray," the theme shimmers with life for me! --Michelle





Maybe this is silly, but Mulan. And it highlights different kinds of honor and that sometimes the most honorable thing may be the least expected. --Sarah




What are your picks? Share your thoughts in the comments!





Next Month

Next month's theme is "whatever is right." Looking that up online found this explanation of the original word:
díkaios (an adjective, derived from dike, "right, judicial approval") – properly, "approved by God"; righteous; "just in the eyes of God". "Righteous" relates to conformity to God's standard (justice).
Other translations say "just," "righteous," and "fair." I'm thinking it shouldn't be hard to come up with some movies that exemplify that idea! I was late in posting this month's post, but let's give ourselves another four weeks and plan to post the next installment on December 22, right before Christmas. I suppose if you want to come up with some Christmas-themed movies about justice, you can go right ahead. Submit ideas in the comments, email me, post on my Facebook page, or contact me any other way!

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Quest for Forgiveness: Chapter 5

Last time, Ethan had a horrible trial where everyone testified against him. The judge is clearly in his favor but the evidence is pretty stacked against him. The defense is meeting the next day.

(There is more discussion of abuse in this chapter, as a heads up for anyone who needs it. But don't worry, after this chapter, that subplot is abruptly dropped and hardly ever referred to again.)
Ethan returned alone to his empty house. Most of the furniture was gone.
What? Why? I mean, I know his family was leaving him, but they were living with Susan's parents, so it's not like they would need furniture right now, even if they were allowed to just take it. Maybe he had to sell all his furniture so he could afford a lawyer.

We also have a sentence that makes me laugh out loud:
Ethan felt as empty as the emptiness of his house.
Well, yup, emptiness sure is empty!

He wanders into Janna's room, where he finds the guitar he was going to give Janna as a present before she started saying he abused her. (It's a very confusing passage, because he says the guitar he bought for Janna after Susan smashed hers was gone, but I think he means that this new guitar was actually the third one he was going to give her for no reason.)

Frustrated with the situation, he smashes the guitar on the piano, because apparently Janna has a piano in her room, which is pretty intense. But also probably reasonable, given that Susan smashes instruments she doesn't want to hear.

He falls asleep in Janna's bed and his father wakes him up half an hour before court time. He hurries out the door and his dad talks about how he has to stop defending Janna because it could ruin his life. He responds:
“I lost Susan long ago. I thought we had something special. As the years passed , I didn’t like what she became. It was pitiful to see her so wrapped up in herself.”
Whoa. No, that was not what happened. He was pretty oblivious to things going wrong for them. That was why he was so devastated when it fell apart -- he was taken completely by surprise. This paragraph reeks of him trying to pull a "Well, I was going to dump her anyway."

He gets to court late. The judge says not to let it happen again, but I'm pretty sure this is the last court session they anticipate having, since he's not testifying in his defense and the prosecution's done. It can't take that long.

Ethan's dad takes the stand, apparently as a character witness, but he spends a lot of his time talking less about Ethan's character and more of it saying he was, for example, really good at music and foreign languages. He talks for like two minutes, the prosecution has no questions, and the defense is done with its case. Well, judge, I'm sure everyone's delighted you reserved an entire day for the defense.

The judge is not pleased with Ethan's decision to not testify for himself:
“Mr. Anderson, you do realize that the only testimony you had was a character witness. That can help in some cases, but unfortunately, most cases like yours are decided by emotions, not facts.”
OKAY.

Here comes the other thing that makes this trial SO RIDICULOUS.

The judge gets all convinced that people are going to decide his guilt based on emotions, not facts.

Let's review the facts of the prosecution's case:
  1. A professional psychiatrist working regularly with Brijanna says her symptoms are consistent with those of abuse.
  2. Brijanna was bruised and visibly frightened when she went to the police.
  3. Brijanna herself says she was abused and provides some details.
  4. Susan says there was opportunity for abuse, though she wasn't able to prove it actually happened.
And now let's review the facts of the defense's case:
  1. The hospital report says Brijanna was not sexually abused, which she never explicitly accused him of in the first place.
  2. Ethan's dad thinks Ethan is a good guy who can speak a lot of languages.
...If we're deciding this based on facts, as the judge is so insistent we should do, the odds are clearly against Ethan. Frankly, even if Ethan DID jump in and say he didn't do it, I'm not sure it would be terribly convincing.

As we will continue to see in this infuriating chapter, the judge has zero idea what constitutes a fact and what constitutes an emotion. Her hunch that Ethan's a good guy? Emotion. Trusting the experts who tell us their professional opinion and how it lines up exactly with what the victim says? Not so much emotion.

So the attorneys present their closing arguments. The prosecution's is, actually, pretty emotion-based, given the facts that she has far more apparent evidence at her disposal than the other side. She ends with this lovely bit:
“Guilty! Guilty! We need to put this man away for many years. I’m sure in prison he will get what he dished out.”
Whoa. Choosing to avoid a thought of "He needs to be held responsible for his crimes," and focusing instead on "I sure hope other people in prison hurt him." Way to be professional.

The defense comments on that:
“What was it you said? In prison he might get what he dished out. I would have thought you were more professional than that.”
I wouldn't blame her too much though. She's not a Christian, so she's pretty much doomed to be evil through and through.

The defense tries to come up with reasons why Brijanna must have lied:
“Imagine this. Your clean-cut son came home late one night with a giant tattoo on his forearm. Or, what if you discovered your daughter was doing drugs? Have you ever known a teenager who faced an unwanted pregnancy? How can you explain the behavior of a teenager? You can’t! Psychiatrists have been trying for centuries.”
Er, and I'm pretty sure most of those examples given have been explained by psychiatrists. And other people. Unwanted pregnancy, tattoos, and drug use are not incomprehensible inexplicable behaviors. Can they be bad choices? (Or, in the case of unwanted pregnancy, results of bad choices?) Sure. But it doesn't mean they're beyond the reach of explanation. And plenty of adults run into these things as well, so it's not unique to teenagers.

I can only imagine one of the jurors being like, "Um, I have a tattoo on my forearm," and all the others gasping and exclaiming, "WHAT MAD IRRATIONAL BEHAVIOR IS THIS?! Who can explain it? We can't!"

The lawyer warns the lawyers that if they find Ethan guilty, it will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

A couple hours later, the jury's made its decision. They pronounce Ethan guilty, and the Evil Feminist Women cheer. The judge fines them $50 each and kicks them out, to which they protest, "We're Americans!" because pfffff, Americans don't pay fines or leave places!

The judge refuses to send Ethan to prison and instead gives him two years in a state medical facility and four years under house arrest. She then tells the jury this:
“While you were running on emotions, I was working with facts.”
The first time I read this, I think this was the first moment when I really wanted to throw the book across the room -- and if it had been a physical book instead of my Kindle, I think I might have. I can deal with the judge operating entirely on her hunch that Ethan's a good guy, since we as an audience know it to be true, but I cannot handle the fact that she thinks her hunch = facts while taking the prosecution's pretty substantial evidence into consideration = emotions.

Seriously, what "facts" did she expect them to take into consideration? There was zero evidence to the contrary, especially since Ethan wouldn't come right out and say he was innocent (since apparently if he did, Muslims would instantly know Brijanna had converted and would kill her).

I have no idea what Rothdiener thinks "facts" means.


Ethan's dad blames the whole mess on Susan, proclaiming:
“If she would have welcomed Janna into your home with love and understanding, none of this would have happened.”
Which is a pretty huge accusation, considering nobody knows why Brijanna lied about it. It could have had nothing to do with Susan at all.

Ethan's time in the rehab hospital goes very well, with him teaching college courses. But then his dad dies and has his identity stolen, so soon he has no money. Because his dad was supposed to be supervising his house arrest and couldn't now, he goes on to prison, where everyone beats him up. His second year in, someone stabs him a bajillion times during lunch, and the No-Emotions-Just-Facts judge from before arranges for him to go back to the clinic.

When he's released, his lawyer shows up and we get an extremely abrupt announcement of how Ethan's doing:
Robert tried to help, but realized Ethan was mentally ill.
His paranoia is "at its peak." I'd have assumed going back to a mental health clinic for three years would be the very best place for him to be after such a harrowing experience in the state penitentiary, but it appears it has actually made him worse.

So Ethan takes off, eventually settling down in a town in Wyoming and working as a handy man truck stop.

The next chapter picks up from Brijanna's point of view. Does this mean we will find out why she randomly accused Ethan of abuse? Here's a hint: The answer begins with N and rhymes with "Go."

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Tune In Thursday: "Put Ur Hands Up" by Family Force 5



One of my NLDC teams listened to this album on repeat for weeks on end. But I'm pretty sure I liked it even before the Stockholm Syndrome set in :-)

Family Force 5 will definitely be showing up here again, as I have a fair amount of music by them. Because they're awesome and all.