NRA: It was the worst of books

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist: pp. vii-1

Every book in the Left Behind series begins with a prologue summarizing “What Has Gone Before.” This is good to know because it means you can skip ahead to Book 12 and just read the prologue instead of slogging through the horror of the previous 11 volumes.

The prologue here in Book 3 presents a challenge for Jerry Jenkins. How do you recap what happened in Tribulation Force when nothing actually happened? Those who joined in our tour of Book 2 here will recall that the first 400 pages are uneventful, then the story abruptly skips ahead 18 months to the outbreak of World War III. That’s the book: 400 pages of treading water, then “18 months later” and our heroes get stuck in traffic only to discover, second-hand, that Washington, New York and London have been destroyed.

Jenkins’ recap of the previous book is almost entirely focused on those final 50 pages — paying particular attention, of course, to the enormity and inconvenience of the traffic jam. Here is nearly all of what he writes to sum-up the earlier four-fifths of that book:

Rayford, Chloe, and Buck, along with their mentor — young pastor Bruce Barnes — become believers in Christ, calling themselves the Tribulation Force, determined to stand against the new world leader. Nicolae Carpathia of Romania becomes head of the United Nations seemingly overnight. And while he charms much of the world, the Tribulation Force believes Nicolae is Antichrist himself.

Through a bizarre set of circumstances, both Rayford and Buck become employees of Carpathia — Rayford his pilot; Buck, publisher of Global Community Weekly.

This helpfully reminds us of key aspects of both the setting and the plot of these books.

Regarding the setting, it shows again that this story of “the end of the world” isn’t about the end of this world, but of the end of a fictional world very much unlike our own. In this fictional world, becoming the “head of the United Nations” means becoming the most powerful person on earth. The UN, in these books, is a kind of planet-wide federation to which every nation — except the United States and Israel — belongs in the same way that the American states belong to one, united nation.

This framework is never stated outright, but it is assumed and implied because, apparently, this is how Tim LaHaye understands the actual United Nations. This is what he thinks the name “United Nations” means — just as he seems to think that the word “Christianity” refers to a kind of cheerful maltheism. In LaHaye’s mind, this is how the world works. He seems to think that Ban Ki-Moon has more power than the actual president of a country like Romania — that Ban has more power in Romania and over Romania. In LaHaye’s imagination — and thus in his fictional world in these novels — the UN secretary-general outranks every actual head of state, with the various presidents and prime ministers of every nation obediently answering to the secretary-general. This is, of course, radically different from the actual United Nations — a mostly toothless international diplomatic gathering with a figurehead diplomat whose minimal influence comes mainly from issuing strongly worded statements that the world is free to ignore.

The point here is that LaHaye’s UN is radically different from the real UN in a way that makes his supposed “Bible prophecies” more possible and plausible. This is true of all the ways in which the fictional world of these books differs from our own. LaHaye can’t imagine changing his prophecies to make them even remotely possible in this world, so instead he changes this world into one in which his prophecies might have a chance. Sometimes this requires a massive revision of the structure and function of institutions like the UN. Other times it involves something even more radical — such as rewriting human nature to eliminate parental affection, national pride and religious devotion.

The world of these books bears some resemblance to our world — but only at the most superficial level. It’s easy to get lulled into a false sense of familiarity due to all the recognizable names and places. You recognize words like “Chicago” or “Israel” or “United Nations” and assume you know what they mean here. Don’t be fooled. The world of Left Behind is not our world. It is an alien universe inhabited by alien creatures and ruled by an alien god.

Regarding the plot, the excerpt above reminds us that we can’t read these books with the usual expectation that the heroes will be heroic, or that their actions ought to make sense. Here are the two things we need to know about these heroes: 1) they aim to “stand against” the Antichrist; and 2) their plan for doing so involves working for him and following his orders. Neither these characters nor the authors seem to understand that resisting and assisting are not the same thing.

The phrase “through a bizarre set of circumstances” seems to be Jenkins’ way of summarizing the first 400 pages of the last book. The circumstances there aren’t really bizarre as much as belabored. Rayford and Buck vow that never, ever, under any circumstances would they ever work go to work for Nicolae Carpathia. And then they both agree to go work for Nicolae Carpathia.

The truly bizarre set of circumstances comes next, in Jenkins’ unintentionally hilarious summary of the beginning of World War III:

They [Rayford, Amanda, Buck and Chloe] discover that Bruce is in the hospital, but on their way to visit him, global war erupts. American militia factions, under the clandestine leadership of Carpathia-emasculated President Gerald Fitzhugh, had joined forces with the United States of Britain and the former sovereign state of Egypt, now part of the newly formed Middle Eastern Commonwealth. American East Coast militia forces have attacked Washington, which lies in ruins.

Carpathia, whose hotel was leveled, is spirited away safely. His Global Community Forces retaliate by attacking a former Nike base in suburban Chicago, within sight of the hospital where Bruce Barnes was suffering from a deadly virus. An assault on New Babylon is quickly thwarted, and London is attacked by Global Community Forces in retaliation for Britain’s collusion with the American militia.

I’d read all of that at the end of Tribulation Force, but there it was padded out over a whole chapter and muffled by pages of tedious prose. Seeing it distilled here into two paragraphs highlights just how deliriously weird this is.

The authors’ idea of World War is like some dadaist game of Risk. (“My 13 armies from Kamchatka invade Baltic Avenue with Professor Plum and the candlestick … Uno.”) Each step seems random, nonsensical, and unrelated to whatever just happened. The Americans attack and destroy Washington and in response to this American invasion of America, Nicolae bombs the Chicago suburbs. An Egyptian army tries to march undetected all the way to Iraq and gets wiped out by Antichrist fighter jets on their way to obliterate London.

Jenkins’ two-paragraph summary above is such a jumble of arbitrary non-sequiturs that one almost suspects it’s his deliberate attempt at Pythonesque humor. But then one remembers that Jenkins is simply listing the events from LaHaye’s End Times check list in the prescribed and prophesied order, and thus neither author sees anything absurd or humorous about any of this. It’s something they believe will actually happen, very soon.

After this, the prologue stops summarizing and just starts reprinting. The remaining iv pages simply repeat the final four pages of Tribulation Force, recounting Rayford’s anguish over the death of Bruce Barnes and the traffic on I-94.

It’s worth noting some of the many things this introductory recap did not review from the previous books. It tells us twice about Rayford’s marriage to Amanda White, but says nothing about Buck and Chloe tying the knot. Nor does it say anything about the Two Witnesses, about Tsion Ben-Judah, or about the Tribulation-initiating peace treaty between Israel and the Antichrist. We’re reminded of the details of Rayford’s recent flight schedule, but not of any of the prophetically significant events from the End Times check list.

Those “Bible prophecy” elements were what initially prompted the authors to write these books, but now they seem distracted from them. They’ve gotten so caught up in the fantasy of their “heroic” Marty Stu surrogate characters that even LaHaye seems less concerned with the fulfillment of his prophecies than with reminding readers that studly pilot Rayford Steele is widely respected and envied and is getting laid by his hot new wife.

Which brings us, at last, to the pages with Arabic numerals and the proper beginning of Book 3, Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist.

Here is Jenkins’ first sentence:

It was the worst of times; it was the worst of times.

Ugh.

First of all, this isn’t even accurate. We’re only 18 months into the seven-year Great Tribulation, so Rayford knows better than to imagine that this is “the worst of times.” This apocalypse has barely gotten started. We’ve got five more seals, seven bowls and seven trumpets of divine wrath still to come — with each septet progressively worse than the one before.

The worst of times? Rayford has seen the Big Chart and has been studying the check list for months. He knows he ain’t seen nothin’ yet. He’s only half-way through the horsemen. If he somehow manages to survive another few years, he’ll be dodging demon locusts and flaming hail while the stars fall and the oceans bleed and he’ll be looking back to this time as “the good old days.”

And second, if Jenkins wants to play with classic opening lines, then he needs to put a bit more effort into it than this lazy, half-baked spoof of Dickens.

Dickens himself certainly did. Here’s a bit more of his original opening sentence from A Tale of Two Cities:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way …

Dickens establishes his setting and his theme at the same time while making it sing. That’s genius. Appropriating that genius was a smart idea for Jenkins — “steal from the best” — but he makes a mess of it. He was aiming, I think, for the kind of playful twist that would evoke all the poetry and emotional force of the original. But the clumsiness of the allusion instead just invites an extremely unflattering comparison.

Jenkins would have been better off taking a cue from Snoopy and ripping off Bulwer-Lytton instead of Dickens: “It was a dark and stormy apocalypse.”

Or maybe borrowing instead from an American classic: “You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of Tribulation Force, but that ain’t no matter.”

We could play this game all day:

  • In a plane in the sky there lived a pilot.
  • It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single Antichrist in possession of global power, must be in want of two assistants.
  • This is a tale of a meeting of two lonesome, skinny, fairly odd white men on a planet which was dying fast.
  • Call me Nicolae.
  • There was a man called Rayford Eustace Steele, and he almost deserved it.
  • Real, true Christians are all alike; and every sinner is sinful in the same way.
  • God is a sick god … god is a spiteful god. I believe there is something wrong with god’s liver.
  • Only the real, true Christians would have believed, in the last years of the 20th century, that this world was being watched by a divine intelligence greater than humanity’s; that as people busied themselves about their various concerns they were being scrutinized and studied, even more narrowly than a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.
  • You better not never tell nobody ’bout God.
  • A screaming comes across the phone.
  • Hattie, light of my life, fire of my loins.

I hope you’ll add to this list in comments below.

  • ChrisH

    The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Salvation has largely supplanted the Dispensationalist Study Bible as the standard for theology, for though it does not have checklists and footnotes, it scores over the more apocolyptic work in two important respects, it is slightly cheaper and it has the words “GOD LOVES YOU” in friendly letters on the cover.

  • parvomagnus

    “Sing of the wrath, Goddess, of God’s son Jesus,
    That…actually, you icky pagan lady, just
    Be quiet and let a man do the talking.”

    Okay, I guess that one’s more for whichever book has Jesus exploderating people.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JeffHeise Jeff Heise

    In the ending, Nicholai ended the heaven and the earth.

  • http://twitter.com/ignatzkat Nathaniel

    I owe the discovery of TurboJesus to the conjunction of a telephone and a study bible. The telephone troubled the depths of a corridor in a country house on Elmhurst in Mount Prospect; the study bible is fallaciously called  The Scofield Reference Bible (Oxford, 1917) and is a “literal” but delinquent reprint of the King James Bible of 1611.

  • http://snarkthebold.blogspot.com/ Edo

    Come good brother, little brother,Pretty playmate of my childhood,Dead and taken in the Rapture,Dead again in nuked Manhattan,Dead and gone in one eye’s twinkling;Never to behold each other,Nevermore to have each otherIn this world of desolations,In the Time of Tribulation.

    Strike we now our hands together,Fingers into curve of fingers,So that we may grieve together,Pour out all our deepest sorrows,Cry aloud complaints to heaven,”How much longer? How much longer?”Hear the Demiurge’s answer,Ignorance as He the AuthorSkips our tears of lamentation,All our woes and remonstrations,Plugs his ears in concentrationOn the Force of TribulationAnd butt-baby Nicolae…

    (Skipping the intervening five pages, I’m guessing that nobody’s done the Kalevala yet. If they have, mea maxima culpa.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Edo-Owaki/1268185670 Edo Owaki

    Is is really that hard to format? Come on, Disqus.
    Come good brother, little brother,Pretty playmate of my childhood,Dead and taken in the Rapture,Dead again in nuked Manhattan,Dead and gone in one eye’s twinkling;Never to behold each other,Nevermore to have each otherIn this world of desolations,In the Time of Tribulation.
    Strike we now our hands together,Fingers into curve of fingers,So that we may grieve together,Pour out all our deepest sorrows,Cry aloud complaints to heaven,”How much longer? How much longer?”Hear the Demiurge’s answer,Ignorance as He the AuthorSkips our tears of lamentation,All our woes and remonstrations,Plugs his ears in concentrationOn the Force of TribulationAnd butt-baby Nicolae…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1726194258 Marquette Popweasel

    But because it was the very world it was, the very world they had allowed it to become, for years his activities did not come to the alarmed attention of The Ones Who Kept The Machine Functioning Smoothly, the ones who poured the very best butter over the cams and mainsprings of the culture. Not until it had become obvious that somehow, someway, he had become a notoriety,  a celebrity,  perhaps even a hero  for  (what Heaven inescapably tagged) “an emotionally disturbed segment of the populace,” did they turn it over to the Tribulation Force and their prophetic machinery.

    But that would make TurboJesus complicit in the apocalypse and the damnation of billions … oh, wait.
     

  • Parisienne

    Wow, all you have to change about this one is the names (in the interests of full disclosure, it is the book that I am currently reading and I haven’t finished it yet):

    ‘Well, Buck, America and Europe are now nothing more than estates taken over by Carpathia. No, I give you fair warning. If you won’t say this means war, if you will allow yourself to condone all the ghastly atrocities perpetrated  by that Antichrist – yes, that’s what I think he is – I shall disown you. You’re no friend of mine – not the “faithful slave” you claim to be… But how are you? How are you keeping? I can see I’m intimidating you. Do sit down and talk to me.’

  • hf

    So there I was, tied to an altar made from outdated encyclopedias, about to be sacrificed to the  dark powers by a cult of evil Librarians.

    OK, I lied about being tied up. And the cultists weren’t trying to sacrifice anyone, they were throwing a party to welcome me. But they were>/i> wearing sensible shoes.

    (The actual first line, “I am not a good person,” might come from Nicolae or almost anyone else in the series.)

  • hf

     Noooo!

  • Dash1

     

    The original starts “It was the best of times”, then goes on to the
    worst. In order for this opening to even sort-of work it would, then,
    have to start the same, with the best of times. It’s by subverting what
    we expect to come next that one gets something half-way decent. But by
    making it clear, from fourth word, that this is different from the
    opening it references all surprise is lost.

    Well, in fairness to Jenkins, when I see “it was the worst of times,” absolutely the last thing I’d expect to come next is another instance of “it was the worst of times.” So yeah, he subverted. I guess.

    Problem is, the poor man can’t even subvert properly.

  • Makabit

    “Where’s Jesus going with that ax?’ said Chloe to her father as they were setting the table for breakfast.

  • Tonio

    Many good entries here. Many of us are familiar with Right Behind, but has anyone tried an LB satire that emphasizes the point that Fred has made? Where the real villains of the story are Buck and Rayford? Or imagine that Nicolae was once a decent man, corrupted by power, and the two Tribulators are unwittingly following his path.

  • Dash1

    Since Roger Cole has introduced television openings…

    Now sit right back, and you’ll hear a tale,
    A tale of a first-class twit,
    Caught up in the apocalypse
    Aboard a flying ship.

    The twit was a mighty GIRAT,
    The captain strong and sure.
    He flirted with the stewardess
    While staying (sort of) pure.

     

  • Will Hennessy

     Right?!? A screaming comes across the phone indeed.

  • Rikalous

     

    I’m starting to wish that everyone would include hints regarding the sources of their quotes for those whose memory, knowledge, and google-fu all fail at piercing the mysteries.

    In that case, reposting

    I call our god TurboJesus, not because we call him so, but to make his
    nature clearer to you, my happy readers, who are privileged to live in
    Reality.

    to say that the source is (rot13′d) Syngynaq: n ebznapr bs znal qvzrafvbaf.

  • Kadh2000

    In the week before his departure to New York, when all the final scurrying had reached a nearly unbearable frenzy, an old crone came to visit the home of the antichrist, Nicolai.
     
    Nicolai: Rise of the Antichrist
    Laheye and Jenkins’s
    Classic Tale of True Apocalypse
    and High Altitude
    You had to admire two guys who called their own new book a classic before it was published or anyone else had a chance to read it.  Maybe they figured if they didn’t do it, nobody would, or maybe they were just trying to give the reviewers a helping hand; I don’t know. I skimmed the first chapter and it was pretty much exactly as I remembered.  Then I turned to the second chapter, the one about Chloe Williams and the little kind of tantalyzing description of the Bombing of Chicago.
    And that’s when I begin to realize there was a problem.

    Yea… got abbreviation right!.
     

  • Kadh2000

    “Before Carpathia blew up Chicago, I beamed them all into the Sears Tower where they’ll be no Tribbles at all”

    -okay it’s an ending line, but still…
    -and I know they changed it ot the Willis Tower

  • reynard61

    If this hasn’t been done already:

    My name is Buck Williams. I used to be a reporter, until…”We’ve got a Tribulation notice on you. You’re God-listed.” When you’re Tribbed, you’ve got everything: a Bible, a help-meet, an immunity to Jedi mind-tricks. You’re stuck in whatever job the Antichrist decides to dump you in. You report on whatever assignment comes your way. You rely on anyone who’s still talking to you: an oblivious ex-colleague; the pilot who flies the Antichrist’s airplane; family too —  if you have any. Bottom line: As long as you’re Tribbed, you’re not going anywhere…except where the Antichrist sends you…

  • Makabit

    You know, it wouldn’t be genius, but simply beginning with “It was the worst of times.” would be better. It references the TOTC line obviously, but not repeating it takes away some of the dripping antigravitas.

    Except, of course, that as Fred said, it’s not, yet.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    Amaryllis beat me to it, but I’m going to do it anyhow:

    “The apocalypse won’t be the apocalypse without Bruce,” grumbled Buck, lying on the rug.

  • Sailorsaturumon132000

    In a hole in the ground there lived a GIRAT.  Not just in a small hole: it was a bunker and that meant comfort, or as much comfort you could have  in times like those.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    It goes by many names: “The Crisis,” “The Dark Years,” “The Tribulation,” as well as newer and more “hip” titles such as “World War G” or “G War One.” I personally dislike this last moniker as it implies an inevitable “G War Two.” For me, it will always be “The God War,” and while many may protest the scientific accuracy of the word God, they will be hard-pressed to discover a more globally accepted term for the creature that almost caused our extinction.

    The first thing the boy Cameron remembered was the telephone call. For all the rest of his life he had a special warm feeling for phones and those peculiar sounds and shapes that seemed somehow to combine into a bustling seriousness that had to do with importance and greatness and heroism and bravery and, above all, home. No matter how high Cameron rose in life, he never forgot that all his memories began with that phone call.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    It was cold on the rampart. I slapped my numbed hands together, then stopped hastily for fear of disturbing the Antichrist. My post that night was just outside his personal apartments-a post that I had won through a bizarre set of circumstances…but I had no wish to call attention to myself now.

    (“Vs Guvf Tbrf Ba -” Arurzvnu Fphqqre sbe Cerfvqrag va 2012!)

  • Garageman

    “When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Rayford’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. He must have had bad dreams and climbed in with his wife. Of course he did. This is the day of the first judgment.”

  • Lonespark

    I like that one, Patrick McGrew!

  • Wotan Anubis

    Nicolae Carpathia sighed when he heard the scream, but he finished shaving before he did anything about it.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    This brings up another thing that really *annoys the crap* out of me about these books.

    I write – not well, but I do write; so I actually understand the whole “the characters do what the characters do, I mostly just transcribe what they’re doing” thing.

    I get that.

    What bugs me is that it seems pretty clear that Jenkins does not, actually, get that.  It’s like he read it in a book about writing, didn’t quite comprehend it but knew it sounded writerly and thus added it to his vocabulary without really comprehending what he was actually saying.

    I say this because unless Jenkins really absolutely 100% intends for Buck and Rayford to be OMGHORRIBLE people, villain protagonists of a particularly low order – unless this is his actual honest to goodness intention, then there’s simply no way that that’s what Buck and Rayford ‘just do’ when he lets them dance around the page on their own.

    As we’ve all noted many many times, a lot of the things they do simply do not make sense, or when they do, they only make sense through a lens of intensely self-absorbed narcissism.

    It’s not that I haven’t had characters act in a similarly self-absorbed fashion before; but that’s because THAT’S who that character is!  I intended that they be a self-absorbed asshole, so when they run around the page and I record their doings – they do ass-holish things. 

    So we’re left with the old stupid or evil dichotomy here:

    Is Jenkins stupid in thinking that his characters are heroic and anything-but-repulsive?  Ie: he’s just written them really, really badly and railroaded them into their roles as lackeys of the antichrist solely to fit in with said awful writing…

    Or does Jenkins actually think these are legitimately the types of characters who are heroic?  In which case… WTF is wrong with that guy!? (Don’t answer, I can guess.)

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    This being the first of these books I’m actually trying to read, I had a thought that ties to JJohnson’s “is the author stupid or evil?” question about these characters.

    For those of you wise/fortunate enough to avoid reading these books, it’s important to realize how bone-grindingly dull they are. It’s a testament to Fred (no pun intended) that he reads through these and plucks out the significant lines of characterization or theology and posts them, because they’re buried in dull, boring dreck.

    The writing functions as anti-drama. The story has plenty of tense, dramatic scenarios. Imagine your newly-married wife, lost somewhere in Chicago as atomic weapons rain down on the city and chaos breaks out, and you, her loving husband, cannot find her!

    By all rights, telling that story should have us, the readers, worried but hopeful, eager to see what comes next. Will he find her? If he does, will she be alive, or injured, or captured by enemies? Isn’t our hero putting himself at greater risk to find her? What will happen to him, succeed or fail?

    Reading the actual text gives us none of those emotions, conveys none of those fears. We, the readers, aren’t given any descriptions to evoke feeling, because Jenkins, the writer, doesn’t feel the need to express any of those things. This is another reason that Mary Sues are bad, and Author Inserts are tricky. The author already knows what the character is feeling; it’s obvious to him that his Author Insert is panicked and fearful, so why would he “waste” time describing such an obvious thing to the readers? If you’re writing about a character that you, the author, are still figuring out, one with emotional and mental states separate from your own, you wind up describing them more, just to get a good handle on them. Writing yourself? Not necessarily.

    The end result is a very dispassionate retelling of events, focused not on the characters (because the author already knows them really well!) or the character’s internal states (because those are just the author’s internal states, and he already knows those too!) but on the external elements: the logistics of travel, the color of cars, the amount of traffic on the road. it’s an amazing, drama-draining literary approach to the End Times, by way of Range Rover product placements and an endless litany of phone calls.

  • Bill the Splut

    “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen, and I know this because it was also the amount of phone calls I made that hour.”

  • Skybison

    Okay, I have to try one:

    My Little Nicolae
    I used to wonder what the satanic NWO could be
    My Little Nicolae
    Until you all shared it’s magic with me

    Big evolution
    Tons of gay
    A beautiful abortion
    Socialist and strong
    Sharing atheism
    It’s an easy feat
    And religious tolerence makes it all complete

    My Little Nicolae
    You are all my very best friends.

  • Skybison

    Okay another one

    Long ago in a distant land
    I, Jerry Jenkins, the shapeshifting master of darkness
    Unleashed an unspeakably evil book series
    But a foolish blogger wielding humor and wit stepped forth to opposse me

  • LMM22

    Don’t know if anyone is reading this at this point, but, as it turns out, the opening stanzas translate a lot better than one would thing:

    I sing of faith and the man, he who, forced by fate,
    first emerged from the womb of man to New York, and to
    New Babylon — driven endlessly by ancient, cruel prophecies,
    by the will of God, by cruel Jehovah’s remorseless anger,
    suffering seven long years until, by persecuting a people,
    he drove them to God: from him the converts
    came, the former Muslims and Hindus and Jews.

    Jesus, tell me the cause: how could He be offended in his divinity,
    how was He grieved, the Host of Hosts, to fate any man,
    regardless of virtue, to follow such prophecies, to end
    in such a fate? Can there be such anger in the mind of God?

    It’s times like this that I really regret not keeping up with my Latin, because this would be so much cooler in the original language….

  • LMM22

    And another. (We should just have a separate thread for guesses. Mine should be Google-able.)

    Carpathia had been thinking that he needed more room for the leisurely life that was now his. He wanted to have everyone near him, even the people who were still off in other countries. He had bought four acres in Iraq, near the south of the country….

  • JonathanPelikan

    Somewhere, deep in the fabric of reality, our comments are being recorded. They will be remembered for eternity.

    Also this thread’ll be here in the archives over the years as the community moves on but people look back and go through the vault or new people rush to catch up and read through a hundred posts in a day.

  • LunaticFringe

    Phones. Phones never change. 

  • Mau de Katt

     

    And that word right there — “emasculated” — is the crux of the thing.

    Yeah. I noticed that word, as well. Conservatives have really made that
    one of the most frequent words in their culture vocabulary, haven’t they?

    Well, Nicolae did commandeer Prez McHugh’s Fully-Loaded Air Force one for his own personal use, after all… but you notice that Rayford still got to fly the thing.

  • Mau de Katt

    Two powerholds, both alike in malice,
    In fair America, where we lay our scene,
    From ancient prophecy break to new nonsense,
    Where political agenda makes religious hands unclean.
    From forth the fatal loins of those two homosexuals,
    A splice of star-cross’d gene sequences take their form;
    Whose misinterp’ted prophesied actions,
    Doth with his life act out their belief system’s strife.
    The fearful checklist of their death-God’s wrath,
    And the continuance of their pastors’ rage,
    Which, but their world’s end, nought could remove,
    Is now the two decades’ traffic of our blog;
    The which if you with patient eyes attend,
    What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.

    (Cebybthr, Ebzrb naq Whyvrg)

  • Mau de Katt

    (Yeah, I lost most of the rhymes, not to mention the iambic pentameter.  sigh….)

  • Mau de Katt

    More TV goodness:

    Here’s the story of a left-behind pastor,
    Who was tutoring two very ingn’rant guys.
    All of them had brains of mush, like their creator;
    Oh, yeah, and there’s a girl.

    Here’s the story, of a man named Nicolae,
    Who was busy with his taking o’er the world,
    There were four horsemen, destroy’ng the planet,
    Yet they wouldn’t win.

    Then one day the pilot met this Antichrist,
    And he knew he had to fly this villain’s plane.
    But his group said he could justify his actions,
    And they called themselves the Tribulation Force

    The Tribble Force, the Tribble Force —
    Yeah, the called themselves the Tribulation Force!

    (Bu pbzr ba — lbh ernyyl qba’g arrq zr gb gryy lbh gur fbhepr, qb lbh?)

  • Gordon Freeman

    With the humbling realization that I could never match the transcendent so-bad-it’s-goodness of “It was a dark and stormy apocalypse,” I hereby offer my own riff.

    Of Rayford’s first ascendance, and the
    plane

    Of that forbidden job, whose improbable
    assumption

    Brought plot holes into this book, and
    all our boredom

    With loss of meta-Chloe, till one
    greater Antichrist

    Entertain us, and chew the scenery to
    pieces

    Sing heav’nly Jenkins, that through the
    secret course

    By mail-order didst inspire the chosen
    hacks,

    In the end how the heavens and earth

    Returned to chaos: or if O’Hare Airport

    Delight thee more, and Michigan’s lake

    That lay still by New Sodom; I thence

    Invoke thy aid to my preposterous song,

    That with no middle flight intends to
    soar

    Above the fully loaded, while it
    pursues

    Dulness unachieved in prose or rhyme,

    That to the height of this inanity

    I may assert LaHaye’s theology

    And justify the ways of TurboJesus to
    man.

  • Gordon Freeman

     Jonrober (in comments 41-80):
    Buck-as-Rorschach is brilliant – two villains who have fooled far
    too many people into thinking they are heroes.

    Magic_Cracker (in comments 81-120) did
    it first, and several others did variations, but whatever its form,
    the Lovecraft allusion may be the most damningly appropriate riff of
    all.

    Ross (in comments 81-120): the remark
    about David Hayter had me picturing this conversation between Otacon
    and Solid Snake: “Snake, have you heard about the Tribulation
    Force?” “Tribulation Force?” “Yeah, they’re the only people
    around who are more useless in a fight than I used to be.”

    FearlessSon (in comments 81-120): great
    riff on the opening of MGS4.

    JonathanPelikan (in comments 81-120)
    raises an interesting question: in these books, have we finally found
    something worse than the Mass Effect 3 ending?

    Riastlin Lovecraft (in comments
    161-200): that 40k one was pure gold. I’m working on a Wheel of Time
    version myself, which I should post soon.

    Melissa Wilson (in comments 161-200):
    Oh… my… god. You haven’t just won the thread, you’ve squared the
    circle. You’ve simultaneously created both an irresistible force and
    an immovable object. You have found a way to make Left Behind EVEN
    WORSE.

    Roger Cole (in comments 161-200): I
    wondered if someone would do a Buffy riff. Nice job.

    Spinetingler (in comments 161-200):
    thank you so much for making me imagine Buck’s letter to the
    Penthouse Forum. I was just thinking I needed to do more to reduce
    the world’s excess supply of brain bleach.

    Gocart_mozart (in comments 161-200):
    “BLOW UP THE WORLD with a fish!” is now my new favorite parlor
    game.

    LMM22 (in comments 281+): I feel your
    pain. If I had the Italian for it, you’d better believe I’d be
    riffing in terza rima.

  • Ymfon

    Testing…

  • http://www.iki.fi/wwwwolf/ Urpo Lankinen

    “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel. In the sky was mr. Captain, Steele, in the cockpit of his plane.” …and the rest of the chapter is about the airline timetables. The second chapter is an extensive listing of what’s going to be in television that night so you don’t need to watch the dead channel.

  • 4oz of reason

    “It is a rugged, middle-aged airline pilot, and he stoppeth on of three…”

  • Vermic

    I love this thread so much.  The whole thread, but special love goes to “Jabberbucky”.

  • http://twitter.com/shay_guy Shay Guy

    You are sitting in a cramped plane west of a white airport, with a reinforced cockpit door. There is a small phone here.

    You are one of the top Tribble Sleuths in the city. Solicitations for your service are numerous in quantity. Compensation, adequate. It is an evening of indeterminate season and weather. You are feeling particularly Jesus-y tonight.

    A young Antrichrist stands in his New Babylon office. It just so happens that today, the 6th of June, is this young Antichrist’s birthday. Though it was thirty-six years ago he was given life, it is only today he will be given a name!

  • LMM22

    I’d like to believe that, but I don’t trust Disquis. There are three blogs I read which consistently have good comment threads — this one, Ta-Nehesi Coates, and Making Light — but, of them, only Making Light has its comments in plaintext (not to mention on a single page). Those I don’t worry about — I can back them up fine on my computer. But Disquis comment threads are only good as long as Disquis lasts, which may only be a few years.

    This is a *solid* thread, and I wish there were a better way of backing it up. I think the move to Disquis has been one of the biggest mistakes a blog can make. I can see why people do it (it’s easier to outsource stuff), but, in terms of documentation, Disquis is terrible.

  • LMM22

    I feel your
    pain. If I had the Italian for it, you’d better believe I’d be
    riffing in terza rima.

    I’ve been wanting to do a historical natural apocalypse for awhile (how would the Renaissance have dealt with an alien invasion a-la “War of the Worlds”? How would the ancient Greeks have dealt with a comet impact? How would anyone have *processed* that sort of event?), but it feels right to write it in the original language.

    Maybe I’ll just do English scenes interspersed with stanzas from appropriate languages.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hawksco Scott Hawks

    Wicked Planet…

    Gay Lovers…

    Antichrist…

    Jewish Wealthy Bankers…

    Nicolae.


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