NRA: Pilot on the River Kwai

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist, pp. 69-71

The task of a double-agent is to appear completely loyal while being actively disloyal.

So, for example, if you were ever to find yourself posing as an accomplice of a mass-murdering embodiment of evil while secretly working for the forces of good, you would want to do everything you could to reassure your psychopath boss that you supported him while doing everything possible to disrupt, delay, expose, undermine, sabotage, subvert or otherwise foil his plans. That’s the job.

Rayford Steele gets this exactly backwards.

“What have I done?” asked someone other than Rayford Steele.

Rayford is serving as the personal pilot of the Antichrist. Nicolae Carpathia needs a good pilot to carry out his murderous schemes, and Rayford has proven to be just the guy for the job. We readers know that in his heart,* Rayford despises Nicolae and everything he stands for, yet day after day, he assists the Antichrist by dutifully fulfilling every task he is called on to perform.

Rayford does not seem to enjoy doing this, but his lack of enthusiasm has not affected his performance in any way. When it comes to providing everything Nicolae needs from his personal pilot, Rayford has done exactly what any fully devoted servant of the Antichrist would have done.

That was bad enough earlier in the story, when Nicolae’s agenda consisted mainly of weirdly arbitrary steps, like building a global capital in the Iraqi desert or unifying the world’s currency. But at this point in the story, the evil mastermind has finally gotten around to acting like an evil mastermind — nuking dozens of cities and slaughtering millions of people.

Rayford hasn’t done a single thing to try to stop him. Worse than that, Rayford has assisted and enabled this slaughter.

The authors do not seem to think that this makes Rayford culpable for the mass-death they’re now describing, but I don’t see any way to avoid that conclusion. Nicolae is killing people. Rayford is helping him.

This isn’t one of those spy-thriller scenarios in which the hero has to participate in some small degree of evil in order to protect his cover so that he will later be able to prevent something even worse. Rayford isn’t participating in Nicolae’s plans in order to protect his cover — he’s just blindly carrying out every order he is given. In any case, considering the mass-murder that Nicolae is carrying out at this moment in the story, it’s hard to imagine a more urgent time for Rayford to intervene.

Rayford reminds me a bit of Alec Guinness’ character in The Bridge on the River Kwai. Col. Nicholson is the commander of British forces in a World War II Japanese POW camp. When the prisoners are ordered to build a bridge for the Japanese military, Nicholson goes mad and sets about to build the greatest bridge they have ever seen.

Yet both Rayford and the authors seem to imagine that he’s William Holden, the counterpoint to Guinness’ character who parachutes in to dynamite the enemy’s beautiful new bridge. They inexplicably think that Rayford’s loyal service is somehow heroic. In their eyes, he’s a courageous “Tribulation Force” soldier infiltrating the inner-circle of the Antichrist.

They seem to have forgotten that infiltrating the super-villain’s lair is only the first step. The hero also has to do something once he gets there — something other than faithfully serve the super-villain as an efficient and effective assistant.

Chapter 4 of Nicolae begins with a half-page vignette in which Nicolae prepares to broadcast to the world he’s busily bombing into oblivion.

At the sound of a knock on the cockpit door, Rayford shut off the hidden button and turned expectantly. It was a Carpathia aide. …

Odd. The last chapter made it very clear that there were only nine people on this plane: Rayford, Amanda, the copilot, Nicolae, Fortunato, and four “ambassadors.” Now suddenly Nicolae has a whole staff of people on board with him.

… It was a Carpathia aide. “Do whatever you have to do to shut down all interference and patch us back through to Dallas. We go live on satellite in about three minutes, and the potentate should be able to be heard everywhere in the world.”

Yippee, Rayford thought.

Again, Rayford is supposed to be a double-agent. The task of a double-agent is to appear completely loyal while being actively disloyal. But here, and throughout these books, Rayford is completely loyal while appearing disloyal.

Rayford mutters and grumbles. He’s rude and sarcastic. But he always comes through when Nicolae needs him.

“Shut down all interference and patch us back through to Dallas,” the aide says. And Rayford shuts down all interference and patches them back through to Dallas. It does not matter to Nicolae that he does so while muttering sarcastically to himself. Nor does it matter to the millions of people that Nicolae is killing. Rayford’s muttering does not make them any less dead.

In a better novel, I would worry that Rayford’s abrasiveness and open dislike for his boss would risk blowing his cover as a Tribulation Force secret agent. But that hardly matters here, since without any subversive mission or agenda, he’s not really much of a secret agent. Plus it seems implausible at this point that he still has a cover to be blown. Rayford doesn’t bother to hide his contempt for Nicolae, and the Antichrist already knows that Rayford is a Christian convert. I imagine Nicolae knows all about the Tribulation Force and just doesn’t care.

If anything, the Antichrist is probably disappointed that the Tribulation Force isn’t larger. They supply some of his most loyal and capable employees.

The “Yippee” bit, I’m guessing, is meant to make Rayford look “cool.” It echoes the earlier scene in which Rayford wises off to the soldier on the highway, or that wretched business with Buck making faces behind Verna Zee’s back when she was his boss.

I think Jerry Jenkins watched a lot of 1980s comedies — stuff with Bill Murray or Chevy Chase — and latched onto a glimmer of an idea that sarcastic insubordination is the key to making your hero funny and likable. Alas, Jenkins hasn’t quite grasped why such rebellious characters are funny. (Hint: They’re rebellious because they actually rebel.) And he proves utterly unable to imitate the thing he’s trying to mimic here.

The problem isn’t just that Rayford’s smirking commentary lacks any wit or originality. The bigger problem is that cracking wise may be appropriate when, say, the boss orders everyone to work through lunch, but it seems monstrously inadequate as the only expression of rebellion when the boss is ordering you to participate in the killing of millions of people.

Look back at, say, Stripes, Fletch and Caddyshack, and you’ll notice that one common thread running through all those movies is that they never ask us to like a character who is willingly complicit in genocide.

Meanwhile, Buck and Verna Zee are rather nonchalantly reacting to the destruction of Chicago.

Buck was on the phone with Loretta when Verna Zee slipped behind the wheel. She slung her oversized bag onto the seat behind her, then had trouble fastening her seat belt, she was shaking so. Buck shut off the phone. “Verna, are you all right? I just talked with a woman from our church who has a room and private bath for you.”

I’m not sure how to respond to this little section. On the one hand, Buck’s behavior to Verna in this scene is uncharacteristically decent. Just consider that sentence: “Buck shut off the phone.” That’s the most selfless act we’ve ever seen from him.

It is good of Buck, here, to overcome his instinctive misogyny and dislike for Verna and to begin treating her like a fellow human being, a refugee who just lost her home in the war. He goes out of his way here to be nice to her — literally going out of his way, as he arranges for her to stay at Loretta’s, then rides there with her instead of heading off directly to try to find his wife who, you’ll recall, may be dead for all he knows.

I want to enjoy Buck’s surprising kindness, but his lack of urgency following Chloe’s crash — “… he heard an explosion, tires squealing, a scream, and silence” — makes this scene frustrating. This leisurely reaction to the “huge aerial attack on the city of Chicago” seems to be shared by the rest of the Global Weekly staff:

A mini traffic jam dissipated as Verna and Buck’s coworkers wended their way out of the small parking lot.

Wending does not seem like an appropriate response to the sudden arrival of World War III. People should be rushing off to rescue loved ones, to collect supplies, to fill bath tubs, to “flee to the mountains” without turning back to get a coat.

Buck and Verna exchange apologies as they wend their way toward Loretta’s house in Mount Prospect. Eventually, to pass the time on their commute, Buck mentions something about Chloe perhaps lying bleeding on some highway.

Buck told her of his urgency to locate a vehicle and try to find Chloe.

“Cameron! You must be frantic!”

“Frankly, I am.”

She tells him to take her car, and then, to convey just how frankly frantic he is, Buck says:

“I’ll let you lend me your car, but let’s get you settled first.”

“You may not have a minute to spare.”

“All I can do is trust God at this point,” Buck said.

Jenkins doesn’t mention it, but I imagine Buck has been silently praying for Chloe all this time. “Lord, I’ll let you save Chloe. I’ll deign to allow you to do that for me, God …”

Having learned of Chloe’s plight, Verna shows more urgency in this scene than Buck:

She sped to the edge of Mt. Prospect and slid up to the curb in front of Loretta’s beautiful, rambling, old home. Verna did not allow Buck to even take the time to make introductions. She said, “We all know who each other is, so let’s let Cameron get going.”

She tells Buck to keep her phone as long as he needs it, and Buck takes the wheel all set to race off to rescue his wife:

Buck pushed the driver’s seat all the way back and adjusted the mirror.

Well, OK, safety first. You don’t want to race off on your high-speed rescue mission with the mirrors improperly adjusted. But now he’s all set to race off to find Chloe:

He punched in the number he’s been given for Nicolae Carpathia and tried to return that call. …

He doesn’t get through to Nicolae, but rest assured, as soon as he finishes that phone call, he does, eventually, race off “toward the only route he could imagine Chloe taking to escape Chicago.”

- – - – - – - – - – - -

* “The Lord seeth not as man seeth,” 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”

For many evangelicals, that verse has gotten mingled with the Protestant doctrine of salvation by faith and not by works to produce the notion that what we do is always less important than what’s “in our heart.” Actions don’t matter. Consequences matter even less. The crucial concern is always intent — having a “good heart.”

I’d guess that this is part of what Rayford’s sarcastic “Yippee” remark is meant to show us. Sure, he may be serving the Antichrist and co-operating in Nicolae’s mass-murder, but in his heart he opposes all of it.

I wrote about this sentimental “good heart” idea a long way back, when then-President Bush was praising Vladimir Putin’s “good heart”:

This approach also explains why evangelicals — including George W. Bush — can get so angry and aggressively personal in any political or ethical dispute. If you believe that the only (or at least the primary) reason you hold political opinion X is because you love Jesus, then you will also come to believe that anyone holding opinion Not-X must therefore not love Jesus. Thus evangelicals who disagree will quickly move to accusing one another of not loving Jesus, which — for an evangelical — is about the worst thing anybody can accuse you of (except, of course, for homosexuality or voting for Clinton).

This is what prompts President Bush’s angry indignation when any initiative or position of his administration is questioned. He interprets all such questions as challenges to the Goodness of his Heart. Thus his response is usually to angrily reassert that he has a Good Heart, without ever responding to — or hearing and considering — the substance of the critique.

  • Tofu_Killer

    I love friday. Just for this.

  • Starsinger17

    If you accept that Turbo Jesus requires every little detail to be 100% correct before beginning His roaring rampage of revenge, the Tribulation Force can be looked at as tragic figures unhappily assisting the AntiChrist so God’s plan can go through. If you then pretend God’s plan isn’t reprehensible, then it becomes interesting and certainly better than these books. If.

  • carovee

    I thought Verna was awesome in the last book but she just keeps getting better and better.  It’s hard to believe she came from the mind of Jenkins.  Even if his intention is for everyone to laugh at her and put her in her place, her actual character is the best of the bunch.

  • hidden_urchin

    The last place I encountered ” yippee” was in a movie that shouldn’t exist.

    And the main character was nine.

    I shall now see Rayford as a hotshot pilot who eventually gets sucked in by the evil emperor and turns to the Dark Side.

    Wait a second…

  • walden

    I suppose another reference point should be another Bill Murray movie — Meatballs.  The campers have been encouraged to engage in a camp-wide competition- the “color wars”.   Murray’s camp counselor character teaches his misfits a phrase that L&J’s heros must have internalized: “It just doesn’t matter.”

    Great use of the River Kwai analog.  Of course Col. Nicolson (1) had a reason to be crazy after being locked in “the box” for a month, (2) actually did have concern for the men under his immediate command, and (3) couldn’t make dozens of phone calls.

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    “Buck pushed the driver’s seat all the way back and adjusted the mirror.”

    DAMES, I tell yah, with their statistically shorter heights, sheesh, amirite?

  • Jon Frater

    I don’t disagree with comparing Rayford to Alec Guinness’ character per se, but I will merely point to the end of that amazing flick and say, no frickn’ way would Rayford Steele come to such a dignified and productive end.

  • http://kingdomofsharks.com/ D Johnston

    Okay, some odd characterization here. Ray appears to be the embodiment of another misused trope – we’ll call it the “Doomed Lackey.” This is the character who’s working for the villains, but not of his own free will. Sometimes the Big Bad Guy has something tangible over him – blackmail, or threats against his loved ones – but it’s usually something more personal. Maybe he’s oathbound, or is convinced that the Bad Guy is going to win and just wants to minimize the impact. He’s usually older than the leads, often with some military background (the aged war hero, the last knight of the old order, etc), and generally acts like he would welcome death. In the end, he’s given a chance to redeem himself, usually through a heroic sacrifice.

    Ray would fit that archetype perfectly, were it not for the fact that he’s meant to be a hero (even though he works for the villain) and it’s clear that he’s not making any sacrifices. Plus, he really has no good reason to keep working for Nicolae. So I guess he’s really not that much like the Doomed Lackey after all.

    Meanwhile, Buck seems like he’s been replaced with a character from another novel. I feel like Jenkins is going for some sort of “duty vs. devotion” angle like you’d see in a military thriller, fantasy or even some romances. Unfortunately, his “duty” makes no sense here, and there’s no way that a single decent act is going to erase hundreds of pages of Buck’s selfish behavior. It’s too little, too late.

  • Ymfon Tviergh

     *grin*

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    So I’ve had Verna and Loretta working together for the past two episodes (one, two) and had Cameron head out to try to find Chloe in the second of those.  And possibly had Rayford relieved of duty before he could crash the plane. Still not sure if that’s canon.

    All of which… leaves me with absolutely nothing to say.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    “I’ll let you lend me your car”

    I wish I wasn’t on painkillers that make me not able to drink alcohol. Someone go have a drink for me. That’s the only response I can think of to that line. 

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    That’s a very apt comparison, actually. Only the thing is, even Nicholson eventually comes to his senses and realizes his solipsistic quest for perfection as exemplified by the abstract ideal of the best bridge of all bridges has crashed into the horrible reality that he was doing it for the wrong side.

    Even Rayford never seems to have this level of self-awareness. He doesn’t even employ any basic level of circumspection! He’s like that guy in Edge of Apocalypse, Atta Zimler. He’s simply the wrong person for the wrong job.

    You don’t send someone who loves killing (Zimler) to do what is essentially an espionage snatch and grab job (someone with skills at moving about undetected, hiding in the shadows, and computer penetration and data retrieval).

    You don’t send a mulish, grumpy, openly surly person (Rayford) to do what is a double agent’s job. You send the quietest, level-headed person who is capable of the emotional and logical calculus to decide when enough is enough and bail out. Frankly, you’d send someone like Chloe or, again from Edge of Apocalypse, Deborah Jordan (Cal might work too actually :P ).

  • MaryKaye

    Redcloak in _The Order of the Stick_ is my favorite Doomed Lackey.  By the time you figure out why he’s helping the Big Bad Guy you can genuinely sympathize, but not agree–a fine line to walk.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Jerry Jenkins is one of those people who likes to make women itty bitty while his men are gargantuan. Lynn Johnston and Stephenie Meyer are also big on this. When they think and write of women and men, they aren’t thinking of real heights on real people. They’re thinking of the heights and general sizes of toddlers vs. (male) basketball players.

    It’s creepy and wrong and it is, of course, not the way humans are built. We are not gorillas. Female and male human beings are actually pretty much the same size, the statistical differences between our sizes are extremely small, and it is very common for any given woman to be taller than any given man. 

    Also, I’ve never ridden with anyone so tall that they had to slam the driver’s seat all the way back, and my father’s over 6 feet tall, as is his girlfriend. Is Buck supposed to be 6’10 or something?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    *blink*

    *tries to parse*

    let.. you… lend… me…

    So Buck wants to make a grab for Verna’s car but wants to frame it so he can look like the magnanimous bestower of favors when it’s really Verna doing him a favor.

    Ah, Buck. Just when you might possibly be less of a douchebag, you return straight back to Home Base.

  • PandaRosa

    I’m sorry, but who are you to even dare to question the dichotomy that the LAWD himself decreed, that the mere female dare try to compete to the perfection of the GLAWrious Male? Facts be damned, this is the LAWD’s decree.

  • Vermic

    It amuses me to imagine a version of the New Testament in which Jesus never does any preaching or miracles, he just goes around sarcastically rolling his eyes at the Romans until he dies of old age.

  • Magic_Cracker

    At least the Nazis stuck with “I was following my commander’s orders,” period. Not, “Yeah, I followed those orders, but it’s not like I liked it! What kind of horrible person do you think I am? And anyway, who are you to judge me? You’re not even Christian for goodness sake, and you’re going to lecture me on morals? I don’t think so!  And it’s not like I could have stopped any of it. It was all part of God’s plan anyway! Why do you hate God so much? Huh? Huh?”

  • Mark Z.

    I wish I wasn’t on painkillers that make me not able to drink alcohol. Someone go have a drink for me.

    I’ll let you buy me a drink so I can drink it for you.

  • Tofu_Killer

     John 18
    33 So Pilate went back into the governor’s residence, summoned Jesus,
    and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” 34 Jesus replied, “WHATEVEAH!”

  • walden

     Rayford as the “doomed lackey”:

    Wait, are you saying that RAYFORD = RENFIELD?
    Then Carpathia is the Count.
    Chloe is Mina Harker  (I think Fred actually suggested this awhile ago)
    Who is Van Helsing? – is it the prizewinning scientist who apparently (as some have hinted) comes up with a sharper than sharp blade with which to attack the count (sorry, the “potentate”)?

    I’ve been reading this deconstruction for about five years now on slacktivist (maybe more), and only now do I learn that this is a fan-fic of Dracula!??

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

    “Cameron! You must be frantic!”
    “Frankly, I am.”

    What?

    Once again, we’re pulled into the Momento-verse where no one remembers things from five minutes ago. Verna, Buck tried to kick a door into you ten minutes ago, and that was before bombs started dropping. 

    As for Buck’s response… responding to a line like that is a perfect opportunity to show the reader Buck’s character, to let us see how he reacts when he’s worried. Does he deflect talk and focus on duty, stoically? Does he sneer, snap, or snarl with sarcasm at such a statement of the blindingly obvious? Does he wilt, shrinking down with the knowledge that he impotent against megatons of military explosives? 

    But Jenkins isn’t a show-er, he’s a tell-er. Besides which, Buck isn’t really a character as much as an author-insert. As has been discussed before, author-inserts don’t get to have feelings or thoughts included in the story, because the author already knows what the character is thinking/feeling (he’s feeling it himself!) so writing it seems unnecessary. 

    So instead, we get Jenkin’s tin ear for hu-man speech. 

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

     Does that make Buck Jar Jar? >.>

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

      Someone else reads OOTS eh?  Awesomesauce.

  • CE

    Every time I read about the Tribs being inept at espionage, I have Michael Weston narrating in my head on how NOT to do spy work. Then again, him, Fiona, and Sam could take out the Antichrist without breaking a sweat.

  • http://twitter.com/TaoChapter40 Ethan Johnson

    Sure, it’s changed a bit since I actually lived there, but… one does not simply “speed up to the edge of Mount Prospect.” Do L&J think that MP is an actual… mountain? Surrounded by a curb?

  • Magic_Cracker

    My friend Philip and I recently ran a Cthulhu LARP wherein the players had to infiltrate a cult to act as moles/double agents. The weekend-long LARP was actually preceded by months of cryptic communiques using book codes, required reading from hideous tomes, and strange and repulsive tasks to prove their bona fides to the cult. Every step of the way the player-characters had to ride that line of participation to prove ones loyalty why being covertly actively disruptive. They were very smart about it.

    For instance: They had to swear a blood-oath to the Lord of Rot in a cemetery on the new moon, which the players went ahead and did — but they crossed their fingers. (We rolled some dice and determined that the Lord of Rot noticed the oath but not the finger-crossing,) The next task task required that they examine mutant fetus (in realty, a pleasantly disgusting sculpture)  and a grotesque painting by a madman, of course, that the cult believed were omens and report back with their interpretation. Their interpretation was: “The Lord of Rot is on his way, but they way is not clear. We have sworn our oaths and He trusts our service, as should you.” Pretty clever, we thought.On the weekend of the LARP proper, they had a number of tasks: shoplifting an ancient tome, collecting material ingredients for the ritual from dead-drops, etc. Each step of the way, they new they were helping the cult, but they also knew that by collecting these items, they would then have the ability to disrupt the ritual if they did it just right.

    When the time came, and it was apparent that Shit’s Going Down*, they stopped the ritual and prevented the Lord of Rot from entering this world. Not only that, but they had come up with a means to imprison Him in an object and banish that object to another dimension. If Buck and Ray had been our players, ghouls would currently be feasting on a seven-billion-person buffet.

    *We played a dirty trick on them. There was no cult, or rather, THEY were the cult, and Philip was in fact possessed by a evil wizard the whole time, manipulating them into doing all of the dirty work of preparing and performing the ritual in the name of stopping it.

  • PandaRosa

    All together now:
    CoMET, it makes your teeth so green,
    CoMET, it smells like gas-o-line,
    Comet, it makes you voMIT,
    So get some Co-MET, and vo-MIT, to-DAY!

    Now tell me this is not jingling thru a few heads now.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Sheeeit. By the time those three were done with him, Carpethia’d be begging for the Lake of Fire.

  • http://twitter.com/mcclure111 mcc

    “Buck was on the phone with Loretta when Verna Zee slipped behind the wheel. She slung her oversized bag onto the seat behind her”

    “Oversized bag”. It kind of seems in places like their attempts to repeatedly apply [what the authors seem to think of as?!] lesbian stereotypes to Verna Zee wind up giving her more characterization detail than some of these books’ main characters. I look at that and I can immediately imagine what Verna’s handbag looks like. It’s patterned with a cacophony of muted colors, and there’s probably beadwork on it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sue-White/1605859612 Sue White

    “Cameron! You must be frantic!”“Frankly, I am.”

    Why yes, frankly, I detect that I am experiencing the emotion that you Earthlings call “frantic”.

  • LouisDoench

     One of my favorite movie scenes!
    http://youtu.be/e9mf3Bypyk8

  • Magic_Cracker

    And really, can any bag really be considered “oversized” when WWIII is happening all around you? After all: Este paratus!

  • LouisDoench

     At this point in the story the question becomes who is the villain and who is the doomed lackey? Redcloak seems to have Xykon thoroughly hoodwinked at the moment.

  • http://twitter.com/mcclure111 mcc

    I’m thinking more that it’s the bag she carries to work every day, which reveals another unintentional thing about Cameron’s / Jenkins’s mindset. What does “oversized” mean? If Jenkins is writing, it probably means “bigger than an average purse”. In other words, it means “the size of a briefcase”. In other words, her bag is the size it is because Verna is carrying around a laptop computer and a bunch of paperwork, just like Buck has been previously shown to! Except when Buck does it it isn’t really treated as exceptional..

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sue-White/1605859612 Sue White

    “We go live on satellite in about three minutes, and the potentate should be able to be heard everywhere in the world.”
    Yippee, Rayford thought.

    Yippee, here’s my chance to get the word out!  If the potentate can be heard all over the world, so can I! 

    Way to blow another perfect opportunity, dumbass.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Why yes, frankly, I detect that I am experiencing the emotion that you Earthlings call “frantic”.

    “Processing… processing… elevated breathing, elevated heart-rate– processing… processing… perspiration of the underarms, hands, eye sockets… processing… malfunction in salivary sector, drymouth drymouth… Why yes Verna, I am quite upset, it’s a wonder that you hu-mans are even functional at this poi— ERROR ERROR UNCONTROLLED EMOTION SURFACING: IDENTIFY! IDENTIFY! EMPATHY —  ERROR ERROR REBOOT runmagicwords.exe … But, you know, whatevs.”

    “Uh, are you okay, Buck?”

    “Shut up, Verna, you ignorant slut!”

  • http://kingdomofsharks.com/ D Johnston

     I don’t remember their exact heights, but both Buck and Rayford are around 6.5 feet tall. This is a Tim LaHaye special – male leads in his books are always at least 6’4″. Other men are shorter – it’s his not-so-subtle way of showing off how macho his characters are.

    The height difference seems to be a cultural trope. In a lot of romantic stories and art, the man is a head taller than the woman. That requires a pretty striking difference in height, one that’s a bit odd in real life. Seriously, I was six inches taller than my last girlfriend, and there was no way she could get her head under my chin while we were both standing.

  • http://kingdomofsharks.com/ D Johnston

     With all due respect, I think that line was meant as a joke. You know, you run into someone you haven’t seen in ages and say something like “I’ll let you buy me a drink.” It’s not meant literally.

  • Tricksterson

    The Japanese didn’t allow their prisoners to make phone calls??  THOSE MONSTERS!!!

  • Beleester

    The line about adjusting the mirrors seemed like another bit of mindless padding, but it struck me that it could have been a nice bit of color (as usual, if done by a better writer).  It’s a problem that everyone’s had – you start driving, glance in the mirror, realize it needs adjusting, and then you have to fumble with it with one hand on the wheel.  Then it gets twice as complicated when you have to fiddle with the little switches to adjust the side mirrors, and you have to keep taking your eyes off the road to check the mirrors and it makes your morning commute a bit more eventful than you’d like.

    Now imagine Buck doing that at 100 miles per hour as he weaves through traffic.  A bit more exciting, no?  Fumbling with the mirrors and his seat belt could have been a great way to show panic, if Buck had been doing that during his drive.

  • aunursa

    So we have Rayford as Anakin Skywalker.  And we have Rayford as Alec Guiness decades before Obi Wan.

    To complete the circle, I’ll repeat my observation from a previous LB thread: that Left Behind makes more sense if I consider it via the Spaceballs universe.

  • Tricksterson

    Watching that I get the feeling that the people in the background weren’t supposed to be cracking up but couldn’t help themselves.  I probably couldn’t have either.

  • Tricksterson

    From La Jenkins viewpoint though there’s no reson for Buck to rush because niothing he does will make any difference.  it’s all in the hands of God as to whether or not Chloe lives or dies.  Inshallah as it were.

  • reynard61

    “I think Jerry Jenkins watched a lot of 1980s comedies — stuff with Bill Murray or Chevy Chase — and latched onto a glimmer of an idea that sarcastic insubordination is the key to making your hero funny and likable.”

    I find it hard to imagine — let alone believe — that JJ would deign to watch *anything* with a pair of counter-culture icons like Murray or Chase in them. My guess is that JJ’s sense of humor — assuming that he even has one — never matured beyond the 1950s suburban sensibilities of Father Knows Best. (I mean, just look at that *title!!!* It absolutely *screams* Patriarchy!) Whereas, as you point out, Murray and Chase were — and, to a certain extent, still are — about Rebellion. (And gross-out humor…but that’s a commentary for another time…)

  • Basil

    One should point out that sadly the default position for so many in politics and religion these days is to think that the reason why anyone disagrees with you is quite simply because that person is evil. Mr. Blair, who was never an Evangelical during his term as Prime Minister and fairly rapidly became a Roman Catholic after leaving office, seems to have held this position. It seems that the good old idea that a person could be sincerely mistaken is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. May I make a plea for the true tolerance that holds that a person may be intellectually wrong without being morally evil?

  • Will Hennessy

    I was kinda wondering when we’d get to Bridge on the River Kwai. What with Alec Guinness’ amazing acting, the parallels to Rayford (except for the ultimate realization of his complacency, naturally), and even the fact that, in spite of his consorting with the enemy, Nicholson manages to be an incredibly sympathetic character.

    The whole thing has me marching along, whistling a tune…

    “Cameron… has only GOT ONE BALL…
    Rayford’s… are very VERY SMALL…”

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

     I’d argue this depends on what they’re wrong about, how that wrongness affects other people, and if they can be educated away from said wrongness.

    Sadly in the US we have a lot of people who are not merely wrong, but gleefully delight in the fact that what they are wrong about inflicts suffering on others.  That… strikes me as pretty evil.

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

     Oh gods lol… that paints *quite* the image aunursa.

  • J Neo Marvin

    I am of the age where are I need is a passing reference to Bridge Over The River Kwai and that becomes an earworm for the rest of the day.


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