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RB_


Backflipping through reality at ludicrous speeds. What does RB stand for, anyway?

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Jun
12th
2019

Driving Myself Insane for Your Enjoyment (One Extraordinary Time, chapter 1) · 10:06pm Jun 12th, 2019

So, this is something a little different. I'm sorry. Blame Estee.



A little background: I like to hang around the Fimfiction discord server, because I hate myself. One of the other unfortunate denizens of this pit of crushed hope and degeneracy is the always wonderful Estee, who, like me, shares a masochistic hate-love of terrible prose.

Recently, during a discussion about self-publishing, they introduced a "book" (I use the term loosely) to the chat: One Extraordinary Time, written by Jefferey Kaplan, and edited by Ken Mrproofreader.

Yeah. We're off to a great start already.

I, being curious, took the initiative of reading through the preview. I immediately knew I had a winner on my hands.

During this discussion, Estee dared me to do a blog series as I read through it. I said I would, but only if I got to make them read through some of the worst book that I own and do a blog about it. They agreed.

And so here we are. Estee's book hasn't arrived yet (I don't want to spoil what it is), but they've given me the go-ahead to start reading. As per our agreement, I have to do one blog for each chapter (14 in total). This means I'll be spamming your feeds for the next two weeks, and for that, I deeply apologize, and invite you to unfollow at your discretion.

(Please don't though. I need the validation.)

As for the rest of you sadists...

Well, let's get reading.


But actually, before we get into the story proper, I'd like to comment on something else. The preface for this ebook credits its design to one ebooklaunch.com. Looking through their website, they offer a number of useful services, including formatting ($19/file) and cover design ($349+). I bring this up because I want you to know that the author actually paid a non-insignificant amount of money to get this on Amazon's store shelves.

Here's the cover, by the way:

Anyway, our story begins thusly:

Saturday, August 18

Freddy was happy, finally at the front of the line after waiting thirty minutes. It was always crowded at the Great NY Bank on a Saturday. “Can I help you?” a smiling, pretty female teller asked.
Freddy smiled back, wearing his favorite Yankees T-shirt. “Yes, can I have please have $50?”

This is our protagonist, Mr. Freddy Will. You know that old saying about how you should never trust someone with two first names? Yeah.

Also, note the Yankees shirt. Just trust me on this one.

Mr. Will withdraws his $50 and heads out of the bank. However, he is stopped by one Mr. Anderson, who seems a little too eager to please him.

Mr. Anderson, a distinguished silver-haired man in his late fifties, extended his hand. “Mr. Will, it is an absolute pleasure to meet you. Please, here is my card. I have a cell number on it. I am available to you 24/7. We have wonderful investments that will help make your money grow."

The reason for this is also the inciting incident of the plot, which we discover a few paragraphs later:

Freddy started walking to his apartment ten blocks away on East 88th Street. His 590 square foot apartment was between 2nd and 3rd Avenue. At a light on the corner of 85th and 3rd, he looked at his receipt. He expected to have about $840 in his account; the receipt read a little differently. Make that very differently, with a lot more zeros. Freddy’s eyes went blurry for a second as he saw the number—840 million.

If you couldn't make it out from that tangled mess of digits, our hero has just benefitted from a bank error that has added six zeroes to his balance. In a stunning move of rationality, our hero figures this is just a printing error and continues with his day.

I want you to keep in mind: this happens on page two.

Now, when I say 'continues with his day', I mean it. Our Mr. Kaplan is not fond of cutting away from the exciting action of everyday life. First, our hero returns to his apartment, and there's something I want to highlight here.

There's a certain phenomenon in writing. I don't know if it has a name. I like to call it Tacticool Syndrome.

Tacticool Syndrome is a terrible affliction that affects many writers, and its main symptom is the complete inability to just call a firearm a firearm. Instead, as soon as any kind of weapon is mentioned, you will be given its name, make, model, serial number, and every other detail the author thinks he can fit in, because the author needs to make absolutely sure that you know that he knows what a gun is and how much he loves them.

Unfortunately, this terrible disease doesn't just limit itself to guns. Cars are another common example, where you'll just be reading along and then suddenly the plot is put on hold to talk about the protagonist's 1996 Mustang SVT Cobra with with its engine hand-assembled in Michigan and its three hundred and five horsepower and how it can go 0-60 in less than six seconds. Computers can also be a victim of this.

One Extraordinary Time gets the unique distinction of being the first time I have ever seen Tacticool Syndrome applied to baseball.

His apartment was practically a shrine to the New Yankee stars past and present. Above his sofa were pictures of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig together. His wall across the room above his big screen TV was a black and white picture of an intense looking Joe DiMaggio swinging at a pitch. The picture next to DiMaggio was a smiling Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris together on the 1961Yankees, followed by a picture of Reggie Jackson, taking a swing during the famous 1978 season; the Yankees made one of the greatest comebacks ever to win the division from Boston in a one game playoff, going on to beat the Dodgers to win the World Series. His ensemble included pictures of today’s Yankee stars like Derek Jeter and Roger Clemens, winners of three straight World Series.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Freddy's main character trait. Also, "...1961Yankees..." [sic]. Doing a great job there, Mr. Mrproofreader, sir.

Anyway, after reading his paper for a while, our hero goes to work (at exactly 3:45 pm; Kaplan likes giving timestamps). Mr Will, as it turns out, is a waiter at a restaurant named China Wok, which, as you might be able to guess, is an upscale Chinese restaurant. Apparently it is also one of the most popular restaurants in NYC, as the author informs us that people regularly line up around the block to get in, and that Freddy can make a cool $300 in tips on a Saturday.

The China Wok is owned by Mr. Wong, and the entire restaurant, from kitchen to cleanup, is run by his family. Except for Freddy, of course, but apparently he's honorary family.

“Hi, Mr. Wong,” Freddy said as he entered the restaurant.
Mr. Wong smiled broadly. “Good to see you this afternoon. Ready for a very busy night?”
“I’m always ready, Mr. Wong.”
Mr. Wong, still smiling, said, “Okay, go serve your favorite customer.”

Riveting.

We are then introduced to Mr. and Mrs Luntz, a rich elderly couple who visit this restaurant every day. And by 'introduced', I mean we spend about five pages on them. I would tell you more about these two characters, but honestly I don't care, and neither should you.

Oh, and we also get this wonderful nugget:

Freddy grabbed a quick bite in the kitchen. He glanced at the cooks. “I’m counting on you guys to make me look good tonight in front of my customers.”
Johnny, smiling, said, “Don’t worry, we make you look good, and let us know when some sexy woman come in. We’ll prepare their dishes extra special.”

Yaaaay.

So, I kid you not, but we go straight from this into a discussion of the Yankees.

Mr. Wong’s nephew Phil was wearing his Mets cap as he prepared the food. Freddy loved to kid him. “I think this year the Mets might have a chance to beat the Yankees, but you will need to wear two Met hats on your head. Maybe one forward and the other backwards.”
“Very funny. We would have beat you last year if it wasn’t for Clemens’ cheap shot at Piazza,” Phil shot back.

This goes on for a while. Then, of all things, we go off on a tangent about former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani, and his failed bid for the senate. Except, nope, I fooled you, they're actually still talking about the Yankees!

Mr. Luntz said, “I heard Giuliani found a new home and a way to be closer to his beloved Yankees.”
“Okay, I’ll take the bait. How did he do that?” Freddy asked.
Mr. Luntz replied, “The mayor took his pillow, blanket, and toothbrush to sleep in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium.”
Freddy continued playing along. “Which monument did he sleep next to?”
Mr. Luntz, puffing his cigar, said, “Why, his favorite, Mickey Mantle of course. He was mumbling to the Mick for advice.”

You know, some authors consider it bad form to start multiple paragraphs in close proximity with the same words. Mr. Kaplan, however, sees it as an artistic flourish.

It is after this discussion that we finally hit our first scene break (thank god). We cut ahead two hours, and... they're... still at the restaurant.

I'm going to let you in on a little spoiler: we're going to be here for a while.

Freddy continued to do peeka-boo with the napkin. How can I get this baby to stop crying? Then he started jumping up and down while making a silly face.

Our hero, ladies and gentlemen.

So, I'm just going to skip ahead, here, because literally nothing else happens in this scene. It's not even worth commenting on. Freddy does his job, he flirts with a bachelorette party, gives out free wine, the cook wants to invite the bachelorette party to dine in the kitchen and they joke about it, and on and on and on...

While I was reading this for the first time, I came across the line:

...Johnny, a Yankees fan...

and thought it was talking about Freddy. This should give you some idea of how interesting this character is.

Oh, and also a guy in the restaurant calls the owners chinks and Freddy threatens to throw him out. Good on you, Freddy.

So, you remember that scene break I mentioned earlier?

Freddy leaves the restaurant thirteen pages after that. That's thirteen pages where literally nothing happened. I'd tell you how many pages it's been since the book started, but my Kindle is bad at things.

This is the point in the preview where I stopped reading and Estee and I made our little deal. I am already regretting this decision, and I can only hope their torment at the hands of my book will be comparably painful. Either way, I'm flying blind from this point onwards.

Anyway...

It is now Saturday, August 19th, and we rejoin our intrepid hero on a... jog in the park. He then gets a bagel and talks about the Yankees some more.

“Say, your dad must be impressed with this group of Yankees. Does he feel these teams are as good as the Yankees of the Mantle days?” Stan asked.
“I know he respects this team a lot, but to him those older Yankees teams were heroic. He told me that after my grandfather would put him to bed, he would sneak his radio under his pillow and listen to the games with an earpiece. When he was in Korea, he would listen to the games on the U.S. Armed Forces radio network,” Freddy replied. They talked for an hour about baseball while Freddy ate his bagel. He then took his papers and went home to shower.

GOD would you please just DO SOMETHING. CHRIST.

He then—oh for fuck's sake, he then goes and plays a game of softball. Mr. Luntz shows up, to my honest shock and surprise. Nothing happens.

I feel like this is the theme of this book. "Nothing happens". Maybe also "Hey the Yankees are pretty friggin neato".

They go back to his apartment and OH GOOD ANOTHER EXCUSE TO TALK ABOUT THE YANKEES. JUST WHAT WE NEEDED.

Harris looked up, admiring a picture of Mickey Mantle waving during a ticker tape parade. He asked, “Hey, Freddy, when was this Mantle picture taken?”
“This was after they won the ‘61 World Series. See that cop right near Mantle? That’s my dad. On that day, he headed security for the parade. Mantle autographed a picture for my dad at the end of the day. It’s still hanging on the wall in his house. He got to know The Mick. My dad said he was always a gentleman.”
“Wow, great pictures. They’re worth a fortune. You can make a bundle selling them on Ebay,” Harris said.
“You Wall Street guys think everything is just about the money. I could never sell these pictures. My dad would shoot me; he still has his gun,” Freddy said with a smile.

You have no idea how much I wish he would.

There's something else important in this conversation, but I have a sneaking suspicion I know where it's going, and I want to keep it a surprise. As such, I've been avoiding referencing it. If I'm right, and if anyone actually continues reading these, you'll thank me later. Maybe.

Probably not.

And it is with my greatest pleasure that I get to say that I just reached chapter two!

Yes, all of this was just chapter one. Let's have a recap of the important points we've covered, shall we?

  1. Freddy Will has a bank error go very much in his favour.
  2. ...

Yep, that's it. That's the entire chapter. Nothing else of importance happened.

Only thirteen more to go!

Comments ( 23 )

His apartment was practically a shrine to the New Yankee stars past and present.

Though the former were technically Old Yankees.

In any case, you're a brave man. May the Lord have mercy on your soul, because Jeffrey Kaplan certainly won't.

Most people would think that rambling about one's minimum wage job, the Yankees, the backstories of several seemingly-unimportant minor characters, the Yankees, the mayor of New York City's personal life, and the Yankees would be rather boring. Most would (hopefully) not stuff all that crap right in the first chapter, especially after briefly glossing over the plot hook to the entire rest of the story.

Evidently Mr. Kaplan is not most people.

Good luck reading this mess, and RIP your sanity.

I suggest keeping on hand a load of Pinkie Pie's most insane moments, for when the drearyiness becomes to much to bear...

Maybe that's how people from New York actually talk? Or, Yankees fans at least?

Also, what's wrong with the phrase "1961 Yankees"?

I've never heard of this book, but I look forward to reading more. (Of your blogs of it, not the book itself.)

As a wise man once said: reading a bad book is torture, reading about someone reading a bad book is pure amusement.

No, I didn't say that. Batman did.


Batman is very wise.

During this discussion, Estee dared me to do a blog series as I read through it. I said I would, but only if I got to make him read through some of the worst book that I own and do a blog about it. He agreed.

Estee is a she?

:rainbowlaugh: What is it with comedy, that your obvious suffering is so side splittingly funny? :facehoof:
Seriously have not laughed that hard since reading Estee's original blog. :twilightsmile:
You two are hillarious! But please don't recommend any books to me... thanks! :trollestia:

5073750
As far as I know, Estee works hard to maintain gender anonymity. Let's respect that wish, eh?

This story is starting to sound like the literary version of Wiseau's The Room. Hopefully Kaplan doesn't feel the urge to describe in this same level of detail how the character with two first names decides to go "take a nap" in the middle of the day... *shudder*

Sorry though I am to say this, I'm thoroughly enjoying your review of this story. Please hang in there, and know that we appreciate your torment.

Well, this is already interesting. Though I read your rant blog about the use of the word "dimensions" first so I was already planning on following you because of that one so I'll follow to catch the others here.

Hopefully you make it though with only minimal mental scarring.

5073620
The problem was that it was "1961Yankees" not "1961 Yankees". As in, there wasn't a space there.
Though like 5073588 I caught the lack of "York" first then saw the smush.

5073750
The use of "he" throughout that section of the blog also threw me for a bit of a loop. I understand that gender neutral writing is a bit of a pain but it's still good practice for times when it is needed.

RB_

5073831 5073798 5073750
Fair point. I've always just kind of assumed, and they've never corrected me about it, so it didn't occur to me. Pronouns neutralified.

Oh, oh this is already far beyond the point where I would get the bleach.

5073623
Yes

I dunno… I've seen worse fanfics here... and even WORSE on Furaffinity. (these fandoms DO deserve some of the hate, let's be honest. We coddle the idiots who write this metaphorical toxic waste-coated trash mixed with bloody choleric diarrhea.)

Also... with regard to your suffering:

It amuses me.

“You Wall Street guys think everything is just about the money. I could never sell these pictures. My dad would shoot me; he still has his gun,” Freddy said with a smile.

Bah! That's what death cap mushrooms were invented for (or Destroying Angels... or several others of the Amanita genus)! Ya just slip a few into beef stroganoff!

Then all the monies shall be yours! MUWAH HA HA HA HA!!

RB_

5080523
I felt the same way in chapter 1.

Not so much by chapter 14.

5080579 Oh, it's one of those stories where the writer's skills DECREASE with each successive chapter.


That's going to leave a mental scar, all right.

GOD would you please just DO SOMETHING.

Is there a name for a protagonist who doesn't actually do anything in the story? I'm not talking about 'the outcome would be the same if they did nothing at all' but someone who does so little that they cause nothing at all to happen? So insignificant that the bad bad wouldn't bother to kill them because they are just that unimportant?

This is something I've seen a lot in past, usually from writers who know how to put the words on the page (some are even competent about it) but don't really get how to make a plot work. So it all just happens to the main character while he does nothing but float along and mostly seems to be there because all the other characters want them there for same reason.

RB_

5083812
The closest I can think of is the Useless Protagonist.

From Mark Twain's Essay "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses"
1. That a tale shall accomplish something and arrive somewhere.
2. They require that the episodes in a tale shall be necessary parts of the tale, and shall help to develop it.
3. They require that the personages in a tale shall be alive, except in the case of corpses, and that always the reader shall be able to tell the corpses from the others.
4. They require that the personages in a tale, both dead and alive, shall exhibit a sufficient excuse for being there.
5. The require that when the personages of a tale deal in conversation, the talk shall sound like human talk, and be talk such as human beings would be likely to talk in the given circumstances, and have a discoverable meaning, also a discoverable purpose, and a show of relevancy, and remain in the neighborhood of the subject at hand, and be interesting to the reader, and help out the tale, and stop when the people cannot think of anything more to say.
6. They require that when the author describes the character of a personage in the tale, the conduct and conversation of that personage shall justify said description.
10. They require that the author shall make the reader feel a deep interest in the personages of his tale and in their fate; and that he shall make the reader love the good people in the tale and hate the bad ones. But the reader dislikes the good people in it, is indifferent to the others, and wishes they would all get drowned together.
11. They require that the characters in a tale shall be so clearly defined that the reader can tell beforehand what each will do in a given emergency.

5073798
Well, yes, they do. However, reading Estee's blogs makes it obvious

5083827
That's not your choice to make. If someone wishes for privacy, the courteous thing to do is respect it.

5084066
I've got secrets myself. Hot tip for those who don't already know this:
Posting stuff on the internet is NOT the best way to keep a secret

But, as Estee apparently doesn't want to discuss it, I'll let it drop

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