TF: No heroes

Tribulation Force, pp. 82-85

Buck and Bruce need to discuss Buck's impending confrontation with the Antichrist, so they head out to a local restaurant and settle into "a booth in a dark corner of a noisy pizza* place."

A busy restaurant seems like an oddly public place to discuss their ultra-secret strategies for their covert resistance squad. When the topic of conversation is vigilance against your enemy's spies, you'd think somewhere less conspicuous might be preferable. But this is probably less odd than the fact that the restaurant is crowded and boisterous so soon after the Event.

I really am trying not to dwell on this point, but it's inescapable. Nothing in this book is compatible with its supposed post-Event setting and the reader slams into the discrepancy on every page. The authors' denial of their own context and betrayal of their own premise makes every conversation, encounter, church service, workplace, news report and phone call in this book ring false. It makes everything jarringly wrong.

Buck is about to fly to New York to meet with Nicolae Carpathia face to face. His travel arrangements have all been made and he's already told Alice he's going. First, though, we get yet another belabored discussion in which Buck pretends he hasn't yet made up his mind about going, and yet more discussion of our protagonists' very limited understanding of the dangers involved.

"I'd sure like to get Rayford's and Chloe's input on this," Bruce says, but Buck didn't want them in on this conversation. He doesn't want the Steeles told of his trip until after he leaves because if Chloe knew he was going, she might want to talk to him first, and that would interfere with the whole passive-aggressive stiff-arm flirtation he's working with her. (Step 1: Leave ambiguous, ambivalent-sounding voicemail message. Step 2: Turn off the ringer on his phone. Step 3: Sulk when she doesn't immediately get in touch with him to pledge her undying love.)

Bruce reluctantly agrees. "If that's what you want. But you have to realize, this is not how I see the core group." The core group isn't supposed to keep anything secret from one another — it's meant to keep secrets from the rest of the congregation.

Bruce says he'll need to tell the Steeles eventually, because he'll need their help casting the defensive prayer spell that will shield Buck from Nicolae's mind-control mojo. He doesn't put it exactly like that. He says:

"Buck, if you go, you're going to want all the prayer support you can get."

And that points to the problem with how Bruce sees the core group. If more prayer from more people is better, wouldn't it make sense for Bruce to enlist the entire congregation in this effort? If Buck really needs "all the prayer … he can get," then why not get Loretta and the amorphous others in on the action too?

This prayer support, Bruce says, will be needed because Nicolae is dangerous. But neither he nor Buck seems to appreciate the nature or scope of that danger:

"He's a dangerous man and a murderer. He could wipe you out and get away with it. He did it before with a roomful of witnesses. On the other hand, how long can you dodge him? He gets access to your unlisted phone number two days after you move in. He can find you, and if you avoid him you'll certainly make him mad."

This very morning Bruce spent several hours explaining that the Antichrist will be a global dictator with supreme, unchecked power over every aspect of life. Here, though, he still seems impressed that Nicolae can "get away with" crimes without being captured by the authorities. There are no other authorities. Nicolae even has power over … the phone company (DUM dum dummm).

What Bruce still hasn't figured out is that Buck's meeting with the Antichrist also presents a very real danger for Bruce and for the rest of their little "force." Buck knows all of their secrets, so sending him off for a chat with a telepath might not be the best way to guard those secrets.

Here is the crux of Bruce's advice to Buck, the closest they come to a strategy for our hero's confrontation with the arch-villain:

"You can depend on God this time, too, Buck. But you should have some sort of plan, go over in your mind what you might say or not say, that sort of thing."

That's it. Buck is going to "go over in his mind what he might say." Because that worked so well the last time he tried it, approaching Chloe with his carefully rehearsed pre-planned conversation. She strayed from the lines he had scripted in his mind and he wound up eating Chinese takeout all alone.

The feebleness of Bruce's strategy — "some sort of plan … that sort of thing" — is inevitable once you set it in the context of the overall strategy, agenda and master plan of the Tribulation Force. The point here being that the Tribulation Force has no overall strategy, agenda or master plan. This is the problem underlying this entire book and, indeed, the entire series of books: Nobody in the Tribulation Force seems to know what a Tribulation Force is for or what one is supposed to do.

The TF has been presented as a kind of cell group of resistance fighters — the rag-tag rebellion up against the evil empire. But here we see that this just isn't true. One of their own has been granted access to the evil emperor himself and their only concern becomes how he will manage to get away unscathed. They're not acting or thinking like a resistance, but like fugitives.

How long can Buck "dodge" Nicolae, Bruce asks. How can he "avoid" him without "making him mad"?

What they ought to be asking here, instead, is something like, "Where can we get enough C-4 to do the job properly and how are you going to smuggle it into Nicolae's office?"

Nicolae Carpathia is the villain, the Beast, the conqueror bent on conquest whose evil scheme for world domination Bruce just spent the entire morning lecturing about. Buck will meet him face-to-face the next day. His options for this meeting boil down to two questions:

1. Should he try to kill Nicolae?

or

2. Should he try to convert Nicolae?

Buck's got a firsthand meeting with the Antichrist, so those are his only options. He can try one or the other or both, but he has to try.

If Bruce and Buck had discussed or even imagined those questions it would have gone a long way toward providing a longer-term agenda for Tribulation Force, the resistance cell, and toward providing an actual plot for Tribulation Force, the book.

The underlying assumption in those questions above — a mistake on my part — is that this is a story with heroes. Heroes are the people who, when the villain sets out to destroy the world, try to stop him. The options I've sketched out above for Buck reflect the two main approaches to trying to stop such villains — violence and redemption.

Here is the scene LaHaye and Jenkins are stumbling toward: Nicolae sits in his office, meditating on his evil scheme and the worldwide suffering it will cause. In walks the hero.

If that hero is anyone other than Buck Williams, then we're in for some fireworks. Pick a hero, any hero. In walks Buffy Summers, armed with wisecracks and a nasty scythe-looking thing, matter-of-factly informing Nicolae that his scheme stops, now. In walks the Doctor, unarmed except for a sonic screwdriver and a boundless, inexplicable confidence, cheerfully explaining to Carpathia that he gets
one last chance to do the right thing, to leave the planet alone fo
r good. Or else.

Substitute any hero you like. The exact proportions of violence/redemption threatened/offered may vary, but every hero will — one way or the other or both — step forward to try to stop him.** That's what "hero" means. In walks Sean Connery in a tuxedo, or Errol Flynn swinging in on a rope, or John Wayne with his hand poised above the holster, or Humphrey Bogart, looking disappointed that he's had to pull a gun like this.

It doesn't matter which hero, if they're a hero, they're going to seize on this opportunity to try to stop the villain.

But while the story of Tribulation Force — of the entire Left Behind series — has a villain, it has no heroes. These are books without heroes because they are set in a world without heroism — without the possibility of heroism. A world of inexorable prophecies and inevitable doom.***

My guess is that Bruce and Buck would see any effort to stop Nicolae as pointless. There's no sense in trying to kill him or to convert him because they already know that his evil scheme for world domination is prophesied to occur. He cannot be stopped.

Very well, what then is the point of having a Tribulation Force? Is it just a support group for the impotent? Is it a kind of Underground Railroad shielding believers from the Antichrist so that they can survive long enough to suffer and die, instead, from the unmediated wrath of god? Or is it an entirely otherworldly endeavor — an attempt to save the souls of those whose bodies are already a lost cause?

These aren't exclusively eschatological questions. The answers Tim LaHaye would give are the same for his readers — here, now, in the actual world — as for the characters living through the Tribulation in his novel. The strange, pointless fatalism of his eschatology is simply a reflection of a similar pointlessness in his ecclesiology. He can't imagine what the Tribulation Force is supposed to be doing because he can't imagine what the church is supposed to be doing. He's convinced that nothing can be done apart from standing aside and watching the fulfillment of prophesy unfold itself, and so he can't imagine anything else to do. No agenda, no strategy, no master plan. His novel without a plot arises directly from a view of life without a plot.

"You should have some sort of plan … that sort of thing." Just don't bother trying to fight or to redeem the villain. And don't try to stop his plan, it can't be done.

Inspiring, isn't it?

- – - – - – - – - – - -

* Jenkins doesn't say, but this is probably a factor in Buck's determination to return to New York. After years in the city, Buck now finds himself in a midwestern exurban sprawlville, where grabbing a slice on a Sunday evening involves getting in the car and driving to a chain restaurant in some dismal chain mall where, on ordering what they call "pizza," one receives instead something almost unrecognizable. This Not Really Pizza might not just convince Buck to visit his former home, it might convince him to move back. (Chicagoans may here rise to defend their city's delicious "deep-dish pizza," as they should. This is indeed a tasty foodstuff, but A: It is so utterly different from actual pizza that arguing about which is better is like trying to compare wine and beer, and B: I doubt the chain outlets in Carol Stream have really good deep-dish pizza either.)

** "What Would Jesus Do?" the T-shirt asks, and it's a relevant question in considering what purports to be a "Christian" novel with alleged heroes who regard themselves as followers of Christ. Jesus' approach always inclines more toward the redemptive end of the spectrum (although there was that bit with the moneychangers and all those "woe unto you" lists). I think of his approach to stopping the arch-villain's evil scheme as much the way Gandhi described it: "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." How exactly that jujitsu of nonviolence would play out in Nicolae's office I couldn't imagine, but I'm sure that Jesus, like any other hero, would do something to stop the villain's diabolical scheme. He wouldn't just spend the whole time trying to figure out a way to escape without "making him mad." (Actually, Jesus' presence in that room would be particularly dangerous since — from what I understand of theoretical subatomic eschatology — any contact between Christ and Antichrist would result in an explosion creating a black hole.)

*** Since we invoked Terry Gilliam last week, let me do so again here to say this: The Left Behind series has far more in common with 12 Monkeys than its authors would ever admit.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/rajexplorer Raj

    Izzy: Salvation Army–the LARPer’s best friend, really.
    Brad: Izzy, you mean to say Sally Ann, surely. Same as J.C. Penney’s is “Jean-Claude Pennet” and Target is “Tarzhay.” (So what are the equivalents for Goodwill and Wal-Mart?)
    I call Checkers fast-food restaurants “Chez Cair”.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/rajexplorer Raj

    Thalia, I’m envious.

  • Tonio

    I would be curious if Fred’s reading of the L&J canon includes this nonfiction work. The title alone makes my bile rise.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/shiftercat ShifterCat

    Izzy, let me know if you’ll need a proofreader when that book is more or less done.
    I did a previous proofreading job in which I discovered that I can spot spelling errors in fictional languages. :)

  • Not Really Here

    *follows Tonio’s link. crawls under bed and refuses to come out until assured that all the bad people have gone away*

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Following the amazon link, I find that “Soul Harvest” is one of Amazon’s “This Phrase May Be Important In This Book Because It Is Capitalized” phrases.
    Crossreferencing, I see thatit comes up a lot in conjuction with the works of Ellenjay.
    If I hadn’t known from the context, I would have assumed that “Soul Harvest” referred to, in order:
    1. A survival horror game set in the rural midwest
    2. A blaxploitation farm comedy.
    (Meanwhile, Fox News is reporting on a new book that reveals that (a) Most women do not find men at all attractive, and (2) the main reason women have sex is to get some respite from being nagged for sex by men. God I hate working in an office whose ability to receive CNN is dicey.)

  • Jenny Islander

    Wal-Mart is “Wally World,” for the weird synthetic atmosphere (you could walk into a store in Seattle and walk out in Fairbanks, as if the place were a single brightly colored plastic Fairyland). Or “Mall*Warts, Your Source for Cheap Plastic Crap,” which I have spotted on a local bumper sticker.

  • Jenny Islander

    The “manly penis and manly-man activities” subthread reminds me of some themes that the Gentle Christian Mothers have identified in punitive discipline, such as:
    1. The way they did it in 1950s TV, and/or in my nostalgic memories of an earlier or later time, was wholly Biblical. You must conform to my nostalgic memories or you are not really Christian. This includes sports, dress, gender roles, and so on.
    2. Free will is evil and must be smashed. This is an essential step on the road to Heaven and if you skip it, your child will be a delinquent, a Satanist, or even (shudder!) g-a-y. In more extreme sects, this translates to never letting your children live on their own, ever. You get family compounds, nauseating talk about your daughters going from the covering of their father to the covering of their husbands, etc.
    3. It is possible for one human being to save another’s soul. Follow the program in the book to do so. If you don’t, your child is Hellbound. Individual decisions? What are those?
    4. The way you were before you had children is the way your life should always be and you should resist changing it at all costs. If your children have needs that require you not to behave like newlyweds, there is something wrong with them. Possibly they are sinful.
    5. Come to think of it, all children are full of original sin and, because it’s possible to save the soul of another and free will must be smashed in order to do so, you must regard any deviation from my nostalgia and any event that demands change IN YOU as sin. And beat, shame, or manipulate it out of your children. Don’t ever think about your own sins. It’s all about purifying those little cesspools you produced. You are the image of God. Your children, not so much.

  • Brad

    Except, Jenny, that “Wally World” and “Mall*Warts” don’t have that faux-snob appeal of “Tarzhay.” Have to be something like – I dunno – “Wal-Martinique”?

  • Lori

    A blaxploitation farm comedy.

    I would pay money to see this movie.

    Meanwhile, Fox News is reporting on a new book that reveals that (a) Most women do not find men at all attractive, and (2) the main reason women have sex is to get some respite from being nagged for sex by men.

    This idea is a major component of one of my Top Ten Hated Attitudes. It tends to make me angry in a stabby sort of way.
    Figleaf discusses the stupid book here. If you follow the tags for The No-Sex Class he explains the overall attitude far better than I can and, unlike me, he never sounds stabby.

  • Not Really Here

    (a) Most women do not find men at all attractive, and (2) the main reason women have sex is to get some respite from being nagged for sex by men.
    Hey, I think I remember being interviewed by that author…
    Um, did this person interview anybody else?

  • Not Really Here

    and after following Lori’s link-
    um, biased sample, much? also, hey, Fox, misrepresent much?

  • lonespark

    Thalia, thank you for the awesome report. Sometimes I think about all the substructure/infrastructure of the modern world and my head feels explodey. I suppose it started when I got an environmental consulting job and realized how many monitor wells there are in the world, which is nothing compared to the irrigation wells and the utility vaults and…

  • http://jamoche.livejournal.com jamoche

    Wal-Mart is Waldemort, The Store Which Must Not Be Named.

  • lonespark

    Um, Lori, that link was NSFW. Oh dear.

  • Jeff

    [[The rule is, if you don't see a recognizable body the character isn't really dead and will eventually return to the show.]]
    Mystery Rule (I’m sure it’s a TV Trope): If a body is burnt beyond recognition, it’s not who it’s supposed to be — that person is still alive, and set the fire.
    ===============================
    [[I desperately wanted to be Angelique when I grew up. Or Katharine Hepburn. Or both.]]
    Katherine Hepburn as Angelique would have been AWESOME!

  • Not Really Here

    I was just putting the laundry in the dryer, and I had a sudden thought about the whole RTC corporal training “beat your kids or they’ll turn out to be monsters” attitude.
    I think most of us have observed, or possibly even been in, families where one child was favored over the other, and the favored child almost never spanked (or disciplined in any way), and was a total brat (my sister, stepfather’s biokid, was one of these, and once PUNCHED MY MOTHER IN THE STOMACH when she was, I think about four or five, because my mother wouldn’t give her something she wanted, and wasn’t punished for it, and there’s one of the few offenses for which I think a child should be spanked) while the other, unfavored child was frequently spanked or beaten, often for trivial offenses, and was exceptionally well-behaved.
    If you believe in corporal punishment and subscribe to the Just World Fallacy, I think it would be easy to come to the conclusion that the better-behaved child was better behaved because they got their fanny tanned when they needed it.

  • Lori

    @lonespark: Sorry.

  • Drake Pope

    Wow, Lori; that’s a really good link. It’s the best book review of a book that apparently no one has ever read I’ve ever seen, and I’m glad to see that those archaic ideas (that women can’t enjoy sex and that sex is or should always be a tool to manipulate others) are being exposed. It always annoyed me that lazy sitcom jokes were being used as scientific hypotheses.
    If you believe in corporal punishment and subscribe to the Just World Fallacy, I think it would be easy to come to the conclusion that the better-behaved child was better behaved because they got their fanny tanned when they needed it.
    I see what you’re saying. Still, it’s pretty bad parenting. When you spank or beat someone constantly for trivial (or, reallly, nonexistent) reasons, they’ll be exceptionally well-behaved. They won’t become better people, they’ll just stop annoying you. I think abusive husbands experience a similar phenomenon. If someone beats you with little to no reason whenever they feel like it and there is no way for you to escape, then you might spend your childhood living in fear. To a bad parent, that might be the same as being well-behaved. And once that fear of the lash goes away (after all, you just scared them, you didn’t actually TEACH them to be decent) then they’ll be on their own to figure out their own values.
    Comparing bad parenting to the occasional use of corporal punishment in an otherwise loving relationship doesn’t really work. There are bad parents who abuse their children, and bad parents who never so much as look at their children. There are good parents who occasionally spank, and good parents who find the idea reprehensible.

  • Anton Mates

    Not Really Here,

    Can I modify that to “throughout most of recorded history”, then? ‘Cause people didn’t start writing stuff down until well after agricultural development happened.

    Oh, definitely. That’s certainly one meaning of “history,” after all, as opposed to “prehistory.”
    I was just taking it in the “history of our species” sense (in which case it includes prehistory) because that seemed most relevant for an evo-psych argument. Especially given that homosexual inclinations seem to be common in every human population, unlike more obviously “culture-driven” traits like lactose tolerance.

  • ako

    Comparing bad parenting to the occasional use of corporal punishment in an otherwise loving relationship doesn’t really work. There are bad parents who abuse their children, and bad parents who never so much as look at their children. There are good parents who occasionally spank, and good parents who find the idea reprehensible.
    I had good parents who occasionally spanked me (maybe half a dozen times in my lifetime). I don’t think it was a good idea, and I’d be reluctant to recommend spanking to anyone. The main reason they did it, I think, was coming from a fifties upbringing with the idea that spanking was normal discipline. The main reason they didn’t do it much is probably the same reason I wouldn’t recommend it; spanking switched things in my mind from “I’m being punished because I did wrong” to “I’m being hit and humiliated because they’re bigger and stronger than me”, which isn’t the lesson you want kids to get from discipline.
    And this was calmly administered, rare, for-specific-infraction, open-palm, barely-even-stung spankings. I just ended up after every spanking feeling humiliated that someone bigger and stronger got to smack me and get away with it, and thinking more about wanting to be tough enough that I could make them sorry than having done anything wrong. And my parents, who did a pretty good job of parenting overall, were probably perceptive enough to get the whole “This isn’t teaching her anything useful, and she’s awfully upset” thing and switch to more effective methods.

  • lonespark

    I was spanked like twice ever, but I didn’t think it was humiliating. (Open palm, no force, clothed, I hasted to add.) Just odd, in hindsight. I guess I must have been an extra brat that day?

  • Caravelle

    Brad :

    Name the movie:
    “Hey, let’s play a game. It’s called, see who can be quiet the longest.”
    “Cool! My mom loves that game!”

    I have no idea, I’m not good with movies…
    It does remind me of camp. At the end of the day we’d play various games, and the last one was often “King of Silence”. The first time I heard that I was excited, sounds like a cool game ! Then we actually played, the rules are if you make a noise you go to bed, last one standing wins. It’s SO BORING. I thought “damn, this game sucks !”.
    It’s only a lot later I realized, it’s not a game. Evil camp organizers.

  • penny

    caught up!
    Izzy: “If I had to pick a category, I’d put it in the latter, since it’s definitely trashy: full of hellhounds and ballroom dancing lessons and people glaring at each other while making blood oaths to Prove a Point, and the implication that people in Crapsack Future World interpret “American Pie” as a coded reference to the way the world ended. It’s got serious bits, but I was giggling a lot during the writing process.”
    WANT. Sounds like my kind of novel.
    CU5012: Love Glen Cook. Besides the character names, he has one of the best talents I’ve seen for writing in distinct character voices. The Annals as written by different characters actually sound like different people writing. Love it.
    Generally, re spanking: Various research I read on motivation (very studied in the ed. psych world) sides with those of you who are anti-spanking. Lots of praise, be careful with rewards*, consider what message your chosen punishment is ACTUALLY sending vs what you want it to. I don’t know that I’d say it’s always 100% a bad idea, but I do think it’s dangerously easy to teach your kids that might makes right when you use corporal punishment. I’m trying to remember a particular book I read — it was all about raising boys, synthesizing a lot of the research out there, pretty strongly arguing against not just the “boys will be boys” attitude but even spanking. Can’t think of the name of it, though.
    * Too much emphasis on the rewards actually decreases motivation to care about the thing you’re being rewarded for doing. Bribes are great motivators for temporary fixes but not long-term solutions. Grades are bribes. There’s a reason so many kids come out of school with decent grades and not caring about what they supposedly learned.
    Caravelle: I wish I’d thought of that game when I worked at a Girl Scout camp. Might’ve stopped the girls coming to my tent at midnight to complain about the bat in their tent, which only flew in since they had their flashlight on and were talking.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/rajexplorer Raj

    penny: I wish I’d thought of that game when I worked at a Girl Scout camp. Might’ve stopped the girls coming to my tent at midnight to complain about the bat in their tent, which only flew in since they had their flashlight on and were talking.
    And the problem they had with such a cool animal voluntarily entering their tent was …?

  • Tonio

    It’s all about purifying those little cesspools you produced. You are the image of God. Your children, not so much.
    I know many people who believe that humans need to be kept in line by either criminal law or social custom, or both. They tend to be the same people who fervently object to economic regulations. Conversely, the argument for such regulations has little to do with controlling people economically, but has more to do with overall social justice.

  • Socks of Sullenness

    As far as I can remember my childhood – now over 60 years ago – my parents never ‘beat me’ or ‘spanked me’ or even struck me in punishment. The worst I can remember was what I would now call an admonitory tap, or possibly a slap on the hand. This would follow the kind of disobedience when, despite frequently being asked not to try to eat the cake mixture out of the bowl, but to wait until the cake had been put in the oven, I would persist. It didn’t hurt, it would be one tap, and I’d be given the emptied cake bowl, so no loss of love or privileges. To stop the child putting his hand in the fire, or running carelessly out into the road, something more than exhortation might be needed.
    I think what worries me is that such ‘gentle’ warnings are classed as the first step on an inevitable path to beating a child until you raise welts, and then kicking the Dachshund to sausagemeat. It isn’t …

  • Indigo

    @ Tonio: I know many people who believe that humans need to be kept in line by either criminal law or social custom, or both.
    I am an individual of many contradictions, and one of them is: I profoundly dislike police forces in practice while viewing them as a necessity in our current state of ethical evolution.
    I also find it ironic how libertarians tend to be fond of Hobbes. I think they stopped before they got to the part where he said “and that’s why we need a brutally powerful government.”

  • Launcifer

    Socks of Sullenness: The worst I can remember was what I would now call an admonitory tap, or possibly a slap on the hand.
    Actually, that was pretty much the same for me, where my mother’s side of the family was concerned. As I grew up, I garnered the impression that the tap/slap/whatever you want to call it was solely for the purpose of shocking me enough to stop what I was doing so that the infraction could be explained and dealt with in other ways.
    Raj: And the problem they had with such a cool animal voluntarily entering their tent was …?
    We have a family of bats living in the elm tree at the bottom of our garden (well, it’s someone else’s tree…) and much fun has been had sitting outside in the autumn, switching off the house lights and just watching them swoop about overhead.

  • Lori

    I wish I’d thought of that game when I worked at a Girl Scout camp. Might’ve stopped the girls coming to my tent at midnight to complain about the bat in their tent, which only flew in since they had their flashlight on and were talking.
    And the problem they had with such a cool animal voluntarily entering their tent was …?

    IME a bat in a confined space tends to freak the hell right out. The results tend to be unpleasant for bystanders and sometimes fatal to the bat.

  • http://wenzersaddictions.blogspot.com/ Wenzer

    :::follows Tonio’s link, makes mistake of clicking on the look inside the book feature, reads a couple excerpts from the book, loses appetite:::

  • Tonio

    I am an individual of many contradictions, and one of them is: I profoundly dislike police forces in practice while viewing them as a necessity in our current state of ethical evolution.
    That’s different from the mindset I was describing. The people I’m talking about see harsh Singapore penalties for crimes as a good thing, wishing we could have that here.
    I also find it ironic how libertarians tend to be fond of Hobbes. I think they stopped before they got to the part where he said “and that’s why we need a brutally powerful government.”
    I know little about Hobbes so I’ll have to look that one up.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    Kim Newman/Jack Yeovil, who wrote the Anno Dracula series, is also perhaps the only person I’ve ever comes across who can make the history of pornography sound like a genuine academic subject. The man knows far too much about literature and cinema for his brain not to dribble out of his ears one day.
    He also wrote a rather useful guide/introduction to Doctor Who which came out just as Dr. 9′s season was starting. Speaking as someone whose previous experience consisted of vague memories of Tom Baker’s run, I was grateful.

  • http://scyllacat.livejournal.com Thalia

    Free will is evil and must be smashed. … nauseating talk about your daughters going from the covering of their father to the covering of their husbands, etc. –Jenny Islander
    Jenny, the medieval use of “covering” is sexual congress. I read that SO wrong.

  • Froborr

    Wal-Mart is “Wally World,” for the weird synthetic atmosphere (you could walk into a store in Seattle and walk out in Fairbanks, as if the place were a single brightly colored plastic Fairyland).

    I feel this way about malls. When I was a little kid, I was terrified that if I got lost at the mall, I could end up stuck in a mall on the other side of the planet.
    “I am Mall. I am one with many *fingers*. You think you see malls, but it is only *fingers*.”

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I feel this way about malls. When I was a little kid, I was terrified that if I got lost at the mall, I could end up stuck in a mall on the other side of the planet.

    Sure, it sounds scary when you say it that way, but I could totally see this being the premise of the MOST AWESOMEST PBS KIDS SHOW EVAR.
    Imagine, each week, a group of twelve year olds, their muppet, and, say, one mildly mentalyl handicapped adult find a new corner in the mall that takes them to some far away land, distant planet, or period in history, whereupon they can learn about the local culture by way of their retail habits.
    And once an episode, a patronizing song about how people from this foreign country, alien planet or distant time are really just like us in spite of seeming at first to be a bunch of funny-colored savages.
    I would watch this show.

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Kit Whitfield

    (a) Most women do not find men at all attractive, and (2) the main reason women have sex is to get some respite from being nagged for sex by men.
    I think if you substitute the word ‘him’ for ‘men’, the author is probably telling us something.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/rajexplorer Raj

    Kit: I think if you substitute the word ‘him’ for ‘men’, the author is probably telling us something.
    *high-fives Kit*

  • Jenny Islander

    In the gentle discipline group I belong to, the toolbox for repeated disobedience includes (among others) keeping an eye on the child at all times if possible; if not possible, stating beforehand what the consequence will be (“if you stick your finger in the cake batter, you can’t lick the spoon or the bowl”); enforcing the consequence immediately, consistently, and calmly even if the child flips out and screams “I hate you;” and going on to something else instead of dwelling on the misbehavior for hours or days–the kid still gets a slice of cake.
    For running into the road, many moms swear by harnesses for toddlers. Their impulse control simply doesn’t exist and they are naive enough to think “Mommy running after me is funny” rather than “Hey, I could get squished by a car.” The gentle discipline model I attempt to follow (not always successfully) also recommends watching one’s tone, so that when you issue an enraged bellow or terrified scream, Junior knows that YOU MEAN IT and immediately freezes and looks back at you. (It works!) For older children, one method is narrating what you do: “Time to hold my hand; now we stop at the edge of the sidewalk while Mommy looks both ways; I don’t see any cars, so now it’s OK to cross; and we do not stop for anything, even a penny in the road or a feather.” Over and over and OVER until you see the child do the behavior without prompting.

  • Not Really Here

    Froborr- I loathe malls with a great loathing, mostly because I find them incredibly disorienting. I completely lose my sense of direction when I’m indoors, and when I’m in a mall, I am in a constant state of scanning the signs over the stores, trying to figure out just where exactly the hell I am.
    Jenny Islander- I’m a fan of harnesses, but be prepared to be hassled by people who think you’re cruel for keeping your youngun’ on it. My mother used one on me, and got a lot of heat from strangers. I also had a manager at a movie theater I worked at comment, “That is so cruel” when a mother walked by with her toddler on a leash and harness. I asked, “would you rather the kid got hit by a car, or got separated from his mother and kidnapped?” That shut her up real quick.
    I don’t think being put on a “baby leash” did me any damage. I think it kept me safe. It’s a great way to let an energetic toddler run around instead of being confined to a stroller or being carried and becoming cranky as a result, while substantially reducing the risk of Something Bad happening to the child. I wish they were more popular. It would probably cut down on the number of screaming toddlers in public places who want to move about, not be strapped into a little chair with wheels on it.

  • http://www.zeldauniverse.net GDwarf

    Not Really Here: I work at an amusement park aimed at pre-teen kids, and I see at least half a dozen of those harnesses every day. I think they’re a good idea usually, but I will admit that I thought they were really weird when I first saw them.

  • redcrow

    Ross, I’d watch the hell out of this show! And if there could be Russian version, I’d even volunteer to play Mildly Mentally Handicapped Adult, if they’d redubbed my voice and let me wear a mask.
    Will there be animated sequences?

  • hapax

    For older children, one method is narrating what you do:
    The chief drawback to this technique is that I found that I tended to fall into that habit when talking to adults as well: “Now I’m looking through typing your question into the catalog, then I’m going to click on the button here — See? — and then we’ll go down to hall to the non-fiction section on the right…”
    Of course, it added an amusing spin to more… intimate… encounters.

  • Lori

    I used to see a lot of kids on “baby leashes” when I lived in California. Not the harness ones so much, but the ones with the wrist strap (it’s set up so that even kids with good escape skills can’t open it). Those seem to draw less criticism, maybe because it looks less like a pet leash and more like an extended version of holding the kid’s hand. They don’t seem to be as popular here though, and I’m not sure why. I certainly never saw a problem with them.
    My sister-in-law got one for my niece when she was little and it was a total life-saver. J. went through a phase when she thought hide & seek was the best game ever and would play it all the time. Like in malls. If she got away from you for a second she would hide and refuse to answer when you called because that’s not how the game works. Without the harness she would have either gotten herself hurt or one of us would have murdered her.

  • Froborr

    I loathe malls with a great loathing, mostly because I find them incredibly disorienting. I completely lose my sense of direction when I’m indoors, and when I’m in a mall, I am in a constant state of scanning the signs over the stores, trying to figure out just where exactly the hell I am.

    I am EXACTLY the same way. One of the things I love about living in the city is that malls are both smaller and more vertical, which makes them much easier to navigate. I still hate them, but it makes them a lot easier.

    Of course, it added an amusing spin to more… intimate… encounters.

    Isn’t that basically what “talking dirty” is?

  • penny

    Raj: “And the problem they had with such a cool animal voluntarily entering their tent was …?”
    They were terrified of all nature except the horses they were there to ride. Seriously. They woudn’t go to bed if there were daddy longlegs in the tent.

  • Brad

    Imagine, each week, a group of twelve year olds, their muppet, and, say, one mildly mentalyl handicapped adult find a new corner in the mall that takes them to some far away land, distant planet, or period in history, whereupon they can learn about the local culture by way of their retail habits.
    Sounds like a mercantile version of Magic Bus.
    I once had an idea for a character who could enter any branch of a franchise and instantly transport himself to any other branch. I called him “Chain” Linc.

  • Firedrake

    NRH, Froborr: you’re supposed to lose your sense of direction, and most importantly your sense of time – most malls are carefully designed to banish long sightlines and natural light, and they very rarely have clocks. Blame Victor Gruen – he invented the idea more or less single-handedly.

  • Tonio

    And the problem they had with such a cool animal voluntarily entering their tent was …?
    While bats are cool animals, in America they are a major carrier of rabies, responsible for more cases than dogs. But bat bites are still rare.

  • Jormengrund

    Heck, I know someone who can take down the Antichrist without having to bat an eye!
    Kate Gosselin.
    If she can handle the 8 kids and Jon’s crap, she can most certainly take down Nicholai and still serve the kids dinner, too!


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