NRA: Cater to their feelings

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; pp. 120-122

First, a quick reminder that Buck Williams is a jerk:

It was nearly time for Buck to head for Palwaukee Airport. Verna Zee was back at the Global Community Weekly office with the new (to her) used car Buck had promised to buy her from the fleet of leftovers from New Hope.

Verna, you’ll remember, had graciously loaned Buck her car so that he could go to look for Chloe after the bombs fell.

He abused it, blowing a tire, and then abandoned it. He’d promised Verna to replace it with “a better car,” and, apparently, has fulfilled that promise as minimally as possible.

A few chapters back Buck bought a car for himself. He used his Global Weekly credit card to buy a $100,000 Range Rover even though it was for personal use, not for work. (Buck stopped doing work in the last book, although he still collects his salary.) But he won’t use the company credit card to replace the car he took from his employee. She’ll have to make do with one of the Rapture-surplus cars Loretta had collected at New Hope.

I’m sure Loretta and Donny Moore gave Buck a competitive price for the car — just like with the laptops. I’m picturing them in the church office, counting the money, as Donny asks, “Do you think Buck will ever realize we just sold him Irene Steele’s car?”

Loretta, we’re told, “was at the church office fielding the constant phone calls about Sunday’s memorial service.”

And here’s how I imagine those calls going:

“No, it’s just for Bruce. Only Bruce. … Yes, I realize that our church lost dozens of members in the bombing, and millions more are dead all over the country, but … no, no, you’re right. You’re absolutely right, but it’s not up to me. … Buck Williams planned it. … Exactly, yes. …”

Chloe hobbled around on a cane, needing crutches but unable to manage them with her sprained wrist in a sling. That left Amanda to take Buck to the airport.

“I want to ride along,” Chloe said.

“Are you sure you’re up to it, hon?” Buck said.

Chloe’s voice was quavery. “Buck, I hate to say it, but in this day and age we never know when we might or might not ever see each other again.”

“You’re being a little maudlin, aren’t you?” he said.

The last time Chloe left the house she was badly injured in a car wreck due to a nuclear bomb. She also knows, for a fact, that the second, third and fourth seals of divine wrath are being poured out on the world, meaning that “a fourth of the world” will be dead in the weeks to come. So rather than seeming maudlin, her comment seems appropriate.

But the authors have to treat this like a “quavery” bit of overly emotional thinking on her part because that will allow Buck to callously dismiss her feelings, after which the authors, through Amanda, can deliver yet another Lesson in Christian Marriage.

That’s the point here, with this lesson meant to be some Mars-Venus business about men being too practical and unfeeling while women are overly emotional. The authors here are thus reminding good, godly husbands that they need to cater to the sensitivities of the weaker sex and pretend to be paying attention when their wives prattle on about their feelings. This is similar to the earlier Lesson in Christian Marriage in which godly husbands were urged to pretend to appreciate any “frilly,” feminine knick-knacks their wives have used to decorate the home.

That’s my summary, but look at what the authors have written here and judge for yourself if it’s accurate:

“You’re being a little maudlin, aren’t you?” he said.

“Buck!” Amanda said in a scolding tone. “You cater to her feelings now. I had to kiss my husband good-bye in front of the Antichrist. You think that gives me confidence about whether I’ll ever see him again?”

Buck was properly chastised.

The lesson here seems to be, roughly, “Husbands, cater to her feelings and make her think you’re really listening when your wife talks about … oh, you know … whatever it is that wives talk about when they talk about all that woman-ish stuff.” I can’t figure out whether the authors are simply unaware of the way their lesson on listening reveals that they don’t listen, or if this is actually meant to sound patronizing. I may think of “patronizing” as a bad thing, but I’m not sure the authors agree that it is. (If husbands are patrons, after all, why shouldn’t they be patronizing?)

After the lesson, Buck, Chloe and Amanda pile into the Range Rover — Buck driving, of course, because it’s his car and because penis — and head toward Palwaukee Airport.*

Buck was amazed that the built-in TV had survived Chloe’s crash. He was not in a position to see it, but he listened as Amanda and Chloe watched. Nicolae Carpathia, in his usual overly humble manner, was holding forth.

Nicolae Carpathia, we have just been told, usually comes across as “overly humble.” He seems like a fake, in other words, a condescending phony.

He is a fake, of course. He’s the Antichrist — a false messiah. But the thing about any decent false messiah is that he has to seem like the real deal. That’s the salient fact about actual phonies — they seem genuine.

I think part of the problem here is that the authors simply do not trust their readers to dislike Nicolae without making him utterly unlikeable. This despite the title of the book: Nicolae: Rise of the Antichrist. His rise, we are told, is due entirely to his charisma, his preternatural charm and superlative eloquence. Yet they’re afraid to allow him to be or even to seem charismatic or charming or eloquent.

Instead what we get is every bad writer’s favorite method of making one character seem smart: making everyone else seem stupid. Consider poor Chaim Rosenzweig. He’s supposed to be a genius, but he comes across as clueless and dimwitted, utterly fooled by Nicolae’s obvious fraudulence and “overly humble” phoniness.

In this scene it’s not just the foolish Rosenzweig who is fooled by Nicolae’s obvious pretense — it’s the entire world.

Jerry Jenkins’ provided himself with another way of handling this. Back in the first book of the series he went to great lengths to establish that the Antichrist has supernatural powers of mind control. I keep waiting for him to make use of that in scenes like this — to suggest that Nicolae is working his mojo on the whole world through this broadcast while only the redeemed, those who enjoy the magic of divine protection, can hear what’s really going on.

But Jenkins doesn’t do that here. Instead, he falls back into the trap he set for himself by insisting that Nicolae is the greatest orator and most convincing speaker of all time.

Again, don’t ever do this to yourself as a writer. Don’t ever give a key character any superlative skill that will at some point have to be demonstrated on the page. Robin Hood stories are fine — you can describe an arrow hitting its target without having to wield the bow yourself. But don’t try to tell readers about the world’s greatest poet, or the world’s funniest comedian, or the most compelling orator of all time, because eventually you’ll have to back that up by supplying the poetry, jokes or oratory that live up to such descriptions. And unless you are, yourself, the greatest poet, funniest comedian, or most compelling speechwriter in all the world, then you’re trapped.

Jenkins is trapped. He is not the greatest speechwriter in the world. He is, rather, a terrible writer of terrible speeches.

And instead of great, or good, or even adequate oratory from Nicolae, what Jenkins gives us instead is this:

“Make no mistake, my brothers and sisters, there will be many dark days ahead. It will take tremendous resources to begin the rebuilding process, but because of the generosity of the seven loyal global regions and with the support of those citizens in the other three areas who were loyal to the Global Community and not to the insurrectionists, we are amassing the largest relief fund in the history of mankind. This will be administered to needy nations from New Babylon and the Global Community headquarters under my personal supervision.”

So New Babylon, the capital of the one-world government established after all nations were abolished, is going to oversee the distribution of “relief funds” to the various nations that need them. What?

“With the chaos that has resulted from this most sinister and unwise rebellion, local efforts to rebuild and care for the displaced will likely be thwarted by opportunists and looters. The relief effort carried out under the auspices of the Global Community will be handled in a swift and generous way that will allow as many loyal members of the Global Community as possible to return to their prosperous standard of living.

“Continue to resist naysayers and insurrectionists. Continue to support the Global Community. And remember that though I did not seek this position, I accept it with gravity and with resolve to pour out my life in service to the brotherhood and sisterhood of mankind. I appreciate your support as we set about to sacrificially stand by each other and pull ourselves out of this morass and to a higher plane than any of us could reach without the help of the other.”

It’s difficult to imagine that banal, contentless speech uniting the entire world behind its beloved leader. I’m not sure I can imagine anyone listening to the whole thing without changing the channel.

Buck shook his head. “He sure tells ’em what they wanna hear, doesn’t he?”

Set aside that the meaningless pile of throat-clearing noises above is being presented to us as an example of superlative oratory. Focus, instead, on the idea that this speech is also the authors’ best attempt to convey an oily politician pandering to the masses and giving them exactly “what they wanna hear.”

Who, ever, in all the long history of human experience, has ever wanted to hear that? How are the masses being pandered to by that indecipherable puddle of rhetoric?

This echoes the problem we saw earlier with the Lesson in Christian Marriage. Husbands are instructed to seem like they’re listening to their wives when they say all that stuff they’re probably saying, whatever it is. And politicians are criticized for pandering to the masses for saying all that stuff the masses want to hear, like …  you know, whatever that stuff is that the people want.

The authors have no idea what it is “they wanna hear,” because they view ’em — the masses, the maddening crowd, the hoi polloi — the same way they view their wives: as alien, inscrutable and unknowable. As a different, and subordinate, species.

And thus it doesn’t occur to the authors that it’s actually very easy to portray a politician saying what everyone wants to hear. Just have him say what you want to hear. To portray a crafty Antichrist spinning words to deceive the entire world, have him say the kinds of things that would deceive you.

Sometimes the authors’ lack of empathy is due to a lack of imagination. But here — with their world as with their wives, with the masses as with the Mrs. — they avoid empathy because they regard it as impossible. Empathy works by remembering the ways that you’re just like everyone else, and the authors refuse to accept that they are.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

* This is not a long trip. I looked it up. Palwaukee Airport is only about 7 miles from Mount Prospect.

Yes, they’ll be driving through a post-nuclear wasteland, but we’ve already seen that the roads are fine. The only after-effect of the nuclear attacks on Chicago’s highways seems to be that there’s less traffic than usual. And anyway that’s downtown, in Chicago itself. The city was attacked with nuclear weapons, not the suburbs. If things that happened in cities were in any way connected to life in the suburbs, then, why, suburban churches would have to change almost everything they’re doing. And that’s just silly.

Palwaukee Airport is a good 18 miles from downtown, so no problem there.

Oh, and Buck Williams is certainly the only person who decided to fly out of the smaller suburban airport after O’Hare was destroyed in the bombing. So no need to worry about crowds or a riotous mob-scene when they get there.

In real life, it’s not called “Palwaukee Airport” any more, by the way. It’s now “Chicago Executive Airport” — they changed the name about 10 years after Nicolae was written.

There may be a lesson there for anyone writing stories with a near-future setting. It’s probably best to avoid using the present-day names for any airports, stadiums, concert venues or convention halls. Those names are too likely to change, making your “future” seem oddly antiquated.

I’m not criticizing Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins for failing to foresee this name-change. It’s just a novel, after all, it’s not like the authors claim to be prophets or something. Oh, wait …

The fact that, 15 years after this book first came out, Palwaukee is now called “Chicago Executive” does not undermine the credibility of their prophecy. What does undermine their credibility as prophets is the fact that, 15 years later, the airport — and the rest of the world — is still here.

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  • Lunch Meat

    Considering the amount of money this series made and the seemingly limitless number of examples of people in love with the books, who identify with the characters and find the plot compelling and believable, that aunursa always seems to be able to drag out of the dark places of the Internet–

    Has anyone considered the possibility that these books really are amazingly well-written and that we’re the ones being mind-controlled by Fred to think they’re terrible? (presumably as part of his evil plot to destroy the world by making conservative evangelicals with whom he disagrees retroactively more popular.)

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

    I was seriously considering the possibility that the people who praise the books got some super-secret release only issued to people who call themselves RTCs.

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

    Mah head asplode.

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

    I had to kiss my husband good-bye in front of the Antichrist.

    Ooh, kinky.

  • MaryKaye

    You could write a reasonable book on how to handle differences in communication style and ability within a relationship.  You could reasonably note, in that book, that some styles are commonly found in men in our culture, and others in women, leading to probable style mismatches in het relationships (and other kinds of trouble in non-het relationships).

    But my impression of Gray was that he went further:  these differences are *normative*, if you don’t think you have them you are either deluded or Doing It Wrong.  Furthermore it is each partner’s, but especially the woman’s, job to *cater* to the partner’s style (for more recent examples think of anything in which the term “man-cave” appears).  The emphasis on “Your partner may not say s/he wants this but s/he secretly does” squicked me.

    I also recall the advice being given as very specific to white suburban upper-middle-class couples with a rather conventional lifestyle.  Fireplaces.  Champagne.  French restaurants.  Nine to five jobs.  Nuclear families.  Television, sports, shopping.  It ended up reading as essentialist in other ways too–as if to say “Your relationship isn’t real/doesn’t matter unless it fits this mold.”

  • Mrs Grimble

     

    I also recall the advice being given as very specific to white suburban
    upper-middle-class couples with a rather conventional lifestyle. 
    Fireplaces.  Champagne.  French restaurants.  Nine to five jobs. 
    Nuclear families.  Television, sports, shopping.

    Reminds me of an American anti-feminist woman in the 70s or 80s, who wrote a book about how a wife ought to cater to her husband’s every need.  It actually gave detailed instructions on how she should behave; for example, in the morning, while the husband was dressing in the bedroom, she should be putting fresh sheets on the bed and spraying it with perfume, whilst murmuring “Hurry home, darling!” And when the husband came home from work, his wife should greet him at the door wearing her best sexy underwear and a filmy negligee. 
    Yes, really. 
    I recall an interview with her at the time, in which she evaded answering when the interviewer asked if she did any of that for her husband.

  • fraser

     The Total Women, yes that was the book. Advocating absolute obedience to your husband in everything, in the assumption he will therefore do anything you ask. Sort of like topping from below.
    The author was a very devout Christian. In hindsight, her advice fits well with a lot of the complementarian stuff we see now.

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

    in the morning, while the husband was dressing in the bedroom, she should be putting fresh sheets on the bed and spraying it with perfume, whilst murmuring “Hurry home, darling!” And when the husband came home from work, his wife should greet him at the door wearing her best sexy underwear and a filmy negligee.

    What if he’s allergic to perfume? What if he’s not a morning person, and cheery chirpiness in the morning makes him hate everything and everyone even more than he already does in the morning? (I’m like that — do NOT be cheerful at me until I’ve been awake for an hour.)

    As for the second, what if they have kids? What if he’s exhausted and hungry and sweaty and dirty and doesn’t want to have sex? 

    I can just imagine the poor women who tried this and only got funny looks and grouchiness from their husbands in return. Men don’t marry combination maid-blow-up dolls; they marry human beings. For some reason, a lot of people in our culture (mostly women so far as I’ve seen;  the only gossip blogger I know of who acts like men can and often do love women is a gay man) think it is impossible for men to love women. Which is extremely sad and also annoying for everyone concerned.

  • http://twitter.com/KeroseneBitumen Christina Nordlander

    “What if he’s exhausted and hungry and sweaty and dirty and doesn’t want to have sex?”

    I suspect (possibly uncharitably) that the author didn’t account for men who don’t work in air-conditioned offices.

  • Lori

    I suspect failure to take other non-middle class families into consideration was part of it, but I suspect that it’s mostly just another manifestation of the idea that men always want sex. The 2nd half of that rule being that women never do, but either “give” men sex because it’s their duty to do so, or as part of an exchange of goods.

  • Maria

     I’ve always thought that someone should invent a combination matchmaking/cruise service that would pair up ‘Rules’ girls and ‘Pick Up artists’ together and trap them on a luxurious cruise ship that will never dock so that the rest of the world doesn’t have to deal with their nauseating crap any longer.

  • fraser

    In fairness to the author, she’s not that inflexible. If you’ve got kids, adjust your costume. If your husband prefers a different outfit, adjust accordingly (and if your husband wants to sleep late, let him). But yes, she does assume husbands will all want sex or at least the sight of a sexy woman when they get home (along with dinner ready to go and lots of ego boosting) and that you should structure your day to make it happen (she does believe sex should be fun for both parties, but if the wife’s not into it tonight, she should do it anyway).

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

    I’m guessing she thinks it’s impossible for the husband not to be into it tonight.

    I do think that, in a sexual and romantic relationship, if one person wants sex and the other person’s just kind of “meh” (rather than actively not wanting it), it’s a good thing for the “meh” person to have sex to please their partner. But this is only if the relationship is already open and honest and healthy and etc. 

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I read a book that advised the wife (stay-at-home, natch) to tidy the house and have a bath to make herself “nice” in anticipation of the husband’s return home from work because it’s not OK to make him put up with coming home to a tired-looking wife with messy hair.

    Said book also instructed the wife not to bother the husband with her problems when he first comes home, but to wait at least 30 minutes before bringing anything to his attention. Because his job is hard and he needs a rest! Yes, you may have spent the day in the emergency room because little Johnny fell of his bike and needed stitches in his scalp, but the husband had meetings!

  • Kadh2000

     I do have to give my wife about 30 minutes when she gets home.  It takes her that long to go from work mode to being around family mode.  So I fix her a drink (sprite and grapefruit juice) and a snack and hand her the newspaper.  Then I go finish working on something about the house.

    Half an hour later, she’s read the paper, and is feeling better from eating and drinking, is less stressed because she has relaxed.  Some people really do need that half an hour to unwind.  Of course when our kid was younger, there were days when she’d get home from work and I’d tell her “she’s all yours” and take the half an hour to chill myself.

  • P J Evans

     My mother would always give us half an hour when we got home from school, before we had to deal with homework. It really does make a difference.

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

    One thing I definitely know I like to do is when I get home, just ease out of the evening commute and relax for a bit. Same for when I get to work. I like to just take a few minutes at the beginning grabbing a orange drink out of the vending machine and then into the day I go. :)

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Sure, I get that. But there’s a big difference between “it’s nice to have time to unwind” and “don’t mention anything important for half an hour”, let alone “don’t dare give the impression that you, the wife, might have had a difficult day too”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    If you ask me (and nobody did), it’s not a bad idea for there to be a “decompression period” when a spouse comes come. Unless the house is on fire and/or little Johnny is in the hospital, most situations aren’t going to change in the next 20 minutes. 
    Yeah, it’s old-fashioned, but so is Grandma’s meatloaf, and the family still digs in whenever I make it.

  • fraser

     Whereas if my spouse has a bad date, she usually wants to vent immediately, so I try to keep time available for that.

  • Mrs Grimble

     

    I
    read a book that advised the wife (stay-at-home, natch) to tidy the
    house and have a bath to make herself “nice” in anticipation of the
    husband’s return home from work because it’s not OK to make him put up
    with coming home to a tired-looking wife with messy hair.

    Said book also instructed the wife not to bother the husband with her
    problems when he first comes home, but to wait at least 30 minutes
    before bringing anything to his attention. Because his job is hard and
    he needs a rest! Yes, you may have spent the day in the emergency room
    because little Johnny fell of his bike and needed stitches in his scalp,
    but the husband had meetings!

    That sounds a lot like the same book I mentioned.  I didn’t read the whole thing, just bits of it in the bookshop, but I was astonished by the author’s narrow view of people, relationships and the world generally. 
    Of all the women I knew, only one of them fitted the author’s stereotype:  married, childless and a stay-at-home housewife.  And she was forever complaining that she was bored out of her skull and that she’d love to get a job except that her husband threw tantrums every time she mentioned the idea. I only knew her for a few months, but I can’t imagine she stayed married for very long.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Anyone else remember the shit that hit the fan when one of the authors of The Rules (Don’t talk to a man before he talks to you!  Don’t call him!  If he doesn’t buy you jewelry, he doesn’t really love you!) got divorced? 

  • Lori

    Yup. I admit I wondered if her husband left when he realized that the woman he feel in love with was entirely an illusion fabricated to con him into marrying the woman he actually found himself living with.

    Even if he didn’t feel that way, I doubt it was a benefit to their marriage that other people saw him as having been conned into heading up the aisle. I know nothing about him, but IME Rules girls (I refuse to call them women) tend to pick men who conform very closely to the manhood rules. And under the rules of manhood being publicly made a fool of is most definitely not a good thing.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    I know nothing about him, but IME Rules girls (I refuse to call them women) tend to pick men who conform very closely to the manhood rules.

    Well, they call themselves “Rules Girls,” so why shouldn’t you?  ;)

    Regardless of the individual circumstances, The Rules confirms to a man all the worst stereotypes of single women: that we are just playing games, that we like to make men jump through a thousand hoops for the privilege of one kiss, that we’re only interested in shiny trinkets, and that even if we don’t talk about marriage, we are always, always thinking about it.  So, so harmful, to both women and men.

  • fraser

     Carol Tavris (in The Mismeasure of Woman) points out that a lot of gender differences are power differences. Some of Tannen’s points (men interrupt more, make more definite statements) get reversed when you have a woman in authority dealing with male underlings.
    The Normative premise is pretty much a staple of romance advice books–I’m not sure if it’s sincere belief or just to make people buy it (think you can find a man/woman who doesn’t play by these rules? They don’t exist sucker! My way or the highway!). The Rules, for example, asserted that any couple you know who got married despite ignoring The Rules is doomed to divorce.

  • Lori

    The irony of course being that at least one of the authors of The Rules is divorced from the husband she said she got by following said rules.

  • fraser

     I know. But she assured interviewers that while couples divorcing when they don’t follow the rules proves she’s right, her divorcing when she did follow the rules doesn’t prove there’s any flaw in her theories. So that settles that.

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

    The emphasis on “Your partner may not say s/he wants this but s/he secretly does” squicked me.

    *flails in fury*

    I have been in multiple relationships in which the man is like, “no, what do you REALLY want,” and my answer is, “WHAT I JUST TOLD YOU I WANT HAVE YOU SUDDENLY STOPPED UNDERSTANDING ENGLISH.”

    But then, those guys often refused to straight-out tell me what THEY wanted, so I guess they assumed everyone else expected their romantic partners to be mind-readers too, because THEY sure did!

    I also hate asking for directions and my husband doesn’t mind; I’m better at putting stuff together and he’s better at caretaking; and our sex drives are at the same level (high). 

  • Tybult

    I just watched the first episode of Twin Peaks, and let me tell you, they love them some phone conversations in that show. The characters treat the phones with a near fetishism – they caress them, they haul them around, they describe the colors of the phones.

    But they do it right. The phone calls convey critical information, and more, they convey emotional context. You see a community get torn apart in this show, and the destructive agent (the death of a teenaged girl) is largely transmitted over the phone.

    Before the LB posts, I never would have noticed this.

    “You’re being a little maudlin, aren’t you?” he said.

    This is such over-the-top chauvinism that I can only respond to it with some shitty detective noir:
      It was a hot day, as hot as one of Carpathia’s barnburner speeches.
      The dame walked into the office, smelling of old church pews and fallout. She had a shiner under one eye.
      “Some lug been smacking you around, doll?” I asked. I poured myself two fingers of Mike’s Hard Lemonade and tossed it back.
      The dame sniffed. “I need you to look into a couple a mooks for me. Go by the name of Moishe and Eli.”
      “Jews.”
      “I asked my banker. He doesn’t know who they are.”
      “Sounds like a conspiracy to me.”
      “Do you want the job or not?” she asked.
      “I’ll bet it’s backtalk like that got you the shiner,” I said. “I don’t investigate for free, doll.”
      My name is Buck Williams. I’m the best private dick in Chi-Town.

  • GeniusLemur

    My name is Buck Williams. I’m the biggest private dick in Chi-Town
    There, fixed.

  • hidden_urchin

    I just did a lot of research on phone systems,
    particularly early phone systems, and what I found most exciting was the shared
    sense of community built around the phone especially in small towns.  For instance, my grandfather told me a story
    about his aunt’s phone which was on a party line.  When the ring pattern for a certain neighbor
    was heard, everyone else would know to pick up their own phones and eavesdrop
    because the gossip would be good.  Also,
    in his town, the women who worked the switchboard were some of the most highly
    respected people in town because, at the height of the Great Depression, they
    were some of the few with steady employment.

    Additionally, prior to automatic switching,
    the operator in a small town could act as a community organizer because she
    would get the information first.  So, for
    instance, if someone was injured then it would be the operator who called for
    an ambulance, the doctor, and a neighbor to help out the family.  Or, the operator could forward calls because
    people would tell where they would be at a certain time and so, if someone
    called looking for them, she would just dial the phone where the person was
    instead of the person’s home.

    In short, telephones can heighten a sense of
    community and isolation if they’re used correctly.

    Here are two of my favorite telephone stories
    that I found (among many).

    Sorry,
    Wrong Number
    is a suspense/noir genre radio play centered around a
    woman and her telephone.  It is entirely
    worth the thirty minutes.

    This video is
    from AT&T and is a short story about a small town that lost its phone
    system due to fire in 1978.  You’d never
    know the story of the loss and restoration of a phone system could be so
    moving.

  • Lori

    For instance, my grandfather told me a story about his aunt’s phone
    which was on a party line.  When the ring pattern for a certain neighbor
    was heard, everyone else would know to pick up their own phones and
    eavesdrop because the gossip would be good.   

    Party line phones have always given me a wiggins for just this reason. The idea of everyone in town being able to be all up in your business like that totally freaks me out.

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

    Yeah. For all the charm that such stories evoke of the early-20th century telephone operators, the serious lack of privacy in such matters does not endear me to the notion of small-town living in that era.

  • P J Evans

     It’s like FB, in some ways.

  • Lori

    Noting again that I am not on FB. This is a major part of why. I just can’t deal with the concept of putting all my business out in front of the world like that. Especially not on a platform that keeps changing its security settings in a way that defaults to show everybody every damn thing. Saying that Zuckerberg and I are not on the same page when it comes to the value of privacy is a massive understatement. And don’t even get me started on the hypocrisy of Zuckerber’s sister complaining about someone distributing a Zuckerberg family photo that was posted with the intent of being private. Welcome to being a FB user, Randi. 

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

    At least in party lines, people could only talk about their babies’ potty training, not post pictures of it for everyone to see. Including close-ups of poop.

    This is why I am no longer on FB.

  • P J Evans

     I’ve never considered signing up for it. For many reasons, one of which is TMI.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    …including close-ups of poop.

    Do people really do that???Maybe it’s not all bad living under my rock.

  • fraser

     In the original Body Snatchers novel, Jack Finney’s protagonist laments rotary-dial phones precisely because they’ve lost that community aspect.
    And yes, Sorry Wrong Number is very good.

  • Tybult

    I appreciate your support as we set about to sacrificially stand by each
    other and pull ourselves out of this morass and to a higher plane than
    any of us could reach without the help of the other.

    God. This is awful. Like “I passed out and hit my head on the desk while I was listening, and now there’s blood all over the carpet and I’ve forgotten what numbers are” awful.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Wait…Amanda’s with Buck and Chloe now? Last I heard she was getting on a plane to leave….I wanna say LA?…before the airport was bombed.

    How did she get to Chicago? Did she change planes somewhere or get a direct flight? What airport did she land at? How did she get from the aiport to Loretta’s place?

    Enquiring minds need to know.

  • Ken

    Wait…Amanda’s with Buck and Chloe now? How did she get to Chicago?

    Same way Chloe got from San Jose to Chicago in the first book, in the middle of the post-Rapture chaos.  Mind you I’m not sure how that happened either, but I have three theories:

    Quantum Mechanics: As a non-viewpoint character, Amanda’s position is uncertain until she is observed by one of the two viewpoint characters, collapsing her wave function.

    Friday the 13th: Amanda is wearing Jason’s hockey mask and can do Offscreen Teleports.

    Bad Writing: Jenkins doesn’t notice and doesn’t care. I am leaning toward this theory because it encompasses the other two as special cases.

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

     

    Same way Chloe got from San Jose to Chicago in the first book, in the
    middle of the post-Rapture chaos.  Mind you I’m not sure how that
    happened either, but I have three theories:

    RPG Video Game: Amanda is an NPC, and can arrive in the hidden village located in the center of a monster-infested swamp before you, despite not having gone through the sidequest to the get the magic amulets that protect you from the poison mist.

  • esmerelda_ogg

     (Re Ken’s 3 theories about how Amanda got to Chicago (and how Chloe did too, earlier)) – Never mind what’s probable. Quantum mechanics is so much cooler, and it’s obvious that neither Chloe nor Amanda is a real person, so they might as well be collapsed wave forms given shape by the expectations of the menfolk. Besides, LaJenkins doesn’t bother with probability, so why should we?

  • Jessica_R

    Really Nicoale’s speech reminds me of a MST3K bit with Professor Bobo going on about why he is not fit to lead and ending with the immortal line, “I will now open the floor to questions about my incompetence.” 

  • Beroli

    I just…

    It would have cost Jenkins nothing at all to write Buck replacing Verna’s old junker with an expensive new car. It would have demonstrated Buck being generous in a way that cost Jenkins nothing and cost Buck very little. Instead, he makes this huge point of Verna getting a new-only-to-her used car. I must therefore conclude that Jenkins thinks spending more money on Verna than necessary to fulfill the letter of his word would reflect badly on Buck, or that it makes Buck cooler that he just-barely kept his word. Or that “you shouldn’t spend more money on anyone outside your tiny personal sphere than you have to” is an essential part of Jenkins’ philosophy.

    I suppose we should count our blessings he didn’t decide it would show how incredibly cool and manly Buck was to have him, instead, tell Verna that she should be honored to have had her car be wrecked by the GIRAT and he wasn’t replacing it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bobby.herrington.1 Boze Herrington

    “I appreciate your support as we set about to sacrificially stand by each
    other and pull ourselves out of this morass and to a higher plane than
    any of us could reach without the help of the other.”

    Is it supposed to be that awful? Poe’s Law at work!

  • That Other Jean

      “I appreciate your support as we set about to sacrificially stand by each other and pull ourselves out of this morass and to a higher plane than any of us could reach without the help of the other.”

    Is it supposed to be that awful? Poe’s Law at work!

    Maybe it’s from an entry into the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest?  Nah, we would have heard if L&J had won.

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

    I’ve also heard the gender-essentialist line that women who complain want huggy-feelies and not someone who’ll bail them out or help fix the problem. It’s supposed to be part of the whole “aren’t-women-just-so-complicated-haw-haw” paradigm.

    The really insidious part is that the reason why some women are sometimes so maddeningly indirect in the first place about things like problem-solving?

    Because of socialization.

    Many (but not all) women, as has been established before, are taught to respond to men in ways which preserve the male sense-of-self-as-master, for example not directly saying no to propositions for sex or dates, but providing face-saving answers which have the effect of declining such things.

    The taught tendency to apply indirection likely holds for other aspects of conversation which involve some emotional stakes.

  • j_bird

    I’ve also heard the gender-essentialist line that women who complain
    want huggy-feelies and not someone who’ll bail them out or help fix the
    problem.

    I’m a known and avowed ~woman~, and I do often find that I’d rather just have a listening ear for my problems than to have someone try to fix them.  Partly, it’s because talking through them helps me figure out what to do; partly it’s nice to have someone affirm that the problems are real and nontrivial.  But largely it’s because of a desire to be *independent*; i.e. I don’t *want* someone else solving my problems for me. 

    But wait!!! Aren’t independence and self-sufficiency supposed to be male traits? Damn conflicting stereotypes…

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

    Yeah. As I said in my original post the “wanting an ear” phenomenon is, in the gender-essentialist paradigm, not a part of a person’s makeup, but instead claimed to be a feature of ALL women because they’re just so ~emotional~.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     There have been many times in my life when my penis was no impediment to me wanting someone to just pat my shoulder and tell me it was going to be okay, rather than say things I’m sure they thought were helpful but which sounded a lot like “Your problem is actually trivial because I can rattle off a simple solution I am sure you are too dumb to have thought of yourself”

  • flat

    talking about emperors, on the same day her majesty queen Beatrix of the Netherlands announced she will abdicate I found out that there will be a new banner of the stars novel.

    So now I can find out how the assault on the imperial capital will end.

    I hope lakafalle will fall because when I watched the anime I thought the empire had it to easy fighting the alliace, and the loss of the capital will give a bunch of high ranking abh officers some real stress.
    And the rank and file united mankind soldiers not happy about the stunt the Haina federation just pulled of because they have been fighting for the past seven years, while the Haina federation was neutral.

    So I hardly can’t wait to see how it ends.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Cater to her feelings.

    There’s a part of me (a small part, but it’s there) that actually feels sorry for the people, both men and women, who fall into this line of thinking.  It must be very lonely, not being able or willing to connect with your partner, to “know” that such a connection is impossible because of the Mysterious Differences between

    Speaking of Focus on the Family, check out this gag-worthy article about how women want to be princesses and men want to be fairy-tale heroes.  This is a theme I’ve heard many times on Christian talk radio: men want one thing and only one thing (respect) and women want one thing and only one thing (love).

    http://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/communication_and_conflict/the_love_and_respect_principle/love-and-respect-a-royal-marriage.aspx

    That small part of me (the part that is not angry and contemptuous) feels bad for the men and women who buy into this bullshit.  That there are men out there who think it is wrong and not their god’s plan to have love in their lives.  Women out there who think it is wrong and not their god’s plan to get respect.

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

     Yeah… I mean honestly is it too much to ask to have both?  A healthy relationship requires both elements or it simply won’t work out.

  • Lori

     

    Speaking of Focus on the Family, check out this gag-worthy article about
    how women want to be princesses and men want to be fairy-tale heroes.     

    I hate to break it to them (OK, no I don’t), but when I was little I never had much interest in being a princess. I occasionally wanted to be queen, but princess didn’t appeal to me much. It still doesn’t.

    In the interest of fairness I would point out that FotF and its ilk are not the only ones who buy into this concept. For the sake of folks who just don’t want to know I won’t go into any detail, but Princess and Knight is a kink. It’s a pretty specific form of femdom and the general idea is the same as FotF’s little fantasy—women want to be catered to and put on a pedestal and men want to bear hardship and suffering to please their lady fair.

    As with other kinds of kink there are some folks who say “This is what works for us” and others who say “This is how things are meant to be.” I have no problem with the first folks . I have no interest in it because it’s really not my thing, but if it’s working for them and everyone involved is a consenting adult then I have nothing to say about it. That 2nd group of folks is obviously another story. I  want to smack them only slightly less hard than FotF, and not in a way they’d like at all. They don’t have a huge public forum for spreading their ideas of how things ought to be and they don’t tell people they’re going to hell for not conforming, but their underlying attitude is really no better.  There’s no excuse for that.

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

    How is love supposed to exist without respect? That does not work.

  • Isabel C.

    As someone who’s been “the guy” in a lot of relationships, yeah, Gray bugs the hell out of me.  As B says, a book about differences in communication style, even one that said “our society encourages men to blah and women to foo”, sure. Innate gender differences to the point of being from different planets? Barf.

    Although it does give me the opportunity to note that my friends and I conducted our *own* research into this subject, sometime around third grade, and concluded that boys were from Jupiter, because they were stupider. ;)

    As far as the fixing-things deal goes, I’ve found that offering possible solutions goes over just fine with my female friends, as long as I frame them as *possible* solutions, stuff that worked for me that you don’t have to try. In my experience–and I feel like there’s an essay on this somewhere, but I don’t remember who by–the guys who say that women don’t want suggestions are the guys who make suggestions in an assumed-authority manner that totally fails to take the other person’s life and preferences into account.  “Just quit your job!” when you’ve just bought a house or have dependents to support, for example.

     

  • http://twitter.com/Jenk3 Jen K

    In college I created the “makeup theory of grades” based on the fact that there were about 7 women in all my computer science classes. The 1 who slept late and skipped makeup got As, the few who wore some got Bs, and the ones who went all out got Cs.   I’m sure the small sample size had nothing to do with this. 

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

    On thinking over the “new – for her” line, it’s just now I’m really able to kind of work out the level of unself-conscious meanness this really implies, and how it teaches women readers of these books to expect to be devalued and treated as second-best and wanters of “new” material possessions.

    L&J nust think women are silly people who can be bought off with shiny “new” things.

  • P J Evans

    L&J must think women are silly people who can be bought off with shiny “new” things.

    It may work for them and their buddies, although I’d expect it to be more like ‘here’s some money, go buy yourself a treat’, adding condescension to the mix.

  • Trixie_Belden

    Yeah, and I still hadn’t gotten over being disgusted with Buck’s asinine attitude when we read the section a couple of weeks ago where he first borrowed her car.  If you were in a moment of desperate need and someone tried to help you, particularly if that help came at some inconvenience to themselves, could you imagine yourself sneering about what second rate equipment they gave you without immediately feeling kind of ashamed?  That’s what made that scene so disgusting:  Buck was pretty much rolling his eyes the whole time at those stupid lesbians and their junky cars, and the narrative agreed with him, holding him up as a can-do guy and a wonderful new RTC who gave that crappy little lesbo car the treatment it deserved.

    And now, we get another sneer:  new (to her) suggests that as far as Buck (with the tacit agreement of the narrative) is concerned, Verna got all the car that a frumpy dyke like her has a right to expect. He didn’t really have to even go out of his way to find it:  it was right there at New Hope

    That is why I still shake my head about the Stephen King praise for Jenkins.  I know it was sort of concluded that he was probably  mostly being tactful to a fellow writer he happened to meet face-to-face, and that maybe they just hit it off – but when I read sections like these I wonder how it would be possible for anyone with sense to “hit it off” with Jerry Jenkins.  It seems to me you couldn’t write a scene like this without being a colossal jerk; such a colossal jerk, in fact, that you couldn’t talk to him for five minutes without his colossal jerkitude expressing itself. 

  • Lori

    Steven King is not a woman and when he and Jenkins met it was in the context of a charitable effort to help a male friend. It’s possible that they didn’t discuss the sort of things that would make Jenkins’ jerkitude obvious. It’s also possible that King is the kind of person who doesn’t notice sexism and homophobia because he’s not the target.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    It’s possible for people to hide their jerkitude for quite awhile.  Hell, sometimes the people with the most to hide are the best at hiding it–I read a study recently where it was observed that people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder make a better first impression than most other people do.

  • Trixie_Belden

    Yes, that’s a good point.

  • Münchner Kindl

    Chloe hobbled around on a cane, needing crutches but unable to manage them with her sprained wrist in a sling.

    So a motorized wheelchair would be a good idea. Or somebody pushing a normal foldable wheelchair for her. Surely, given that the  bombs only affected some areas – and since a lot of houses should still be empty from the Rapture – they could easily get one? Or at least mention trying to get one?

    So New Babylon, the capital of the one-world government established
    after all nations were abolished, is going to oversee the distribution
    of “relief funds” to the various nations that need them. What?

    Actually, why not? Relief during famine and other catastrophes is what the UN – and UNICEF, WHO, WFP – are famous for, esp. in the eyes of the non-RTCs. And what non-RTCs, who are not in on the secret OWG conspiracy, consider good (Christian) work.

    Besides, unlike the weapon thing, it doesn’t say that food and blankets will be shipped into New Babylon and then distributed out again. It only says “Oversee”, which could mean typing numbers into a database:
    1st lackey: Potentate, disaster relief from NY estimates that 1 mill. people need homes and blankets, 2 mill. need food, 0.5 mill. need medical help
    2nd lackey: Potentate, the province of Europe has donated 10 mil. blankets, 200 tons of medical supplies, 50 t. of food.
    Nicholae: Good, send 1 mil. blankets, 10 t medical, 20 t of food to NY. Send 2 mil. blankets to London etc.

    Set aside that the meaningless pile of throat-clearing noises above is
    being presented to us as an example of superlative oratory.

    Actually, even without supernatural mind mojo and just natural charisma, that could work. When we analyzed speeches by FJ Strauss and JFK, they were full of empty clichees and meaningless phrases. There was no specific promises, examples, steps or anything, just goals we wanted to reach, others who were bad and so on.

    But the people who listened were caught up because of the way these politicans delivered them. So simply writing a not-wonderful speech doesn’t make a character a bad orator – it could be his delivery not the words. That’s were the movie could show this better than a book.

  • fraser

     I’ve read Kennedy’s speeches though and many of them were wonderful. Even read and not listened to.
    It’s true though that delivery could make the difference, but again, that would have to be clear in the story.
    Or,as has been said in these posts so many times, make it clear the mind-mojo was at work. For example, if the speech really is bland but everyone picks up on the subtext, and not the same subtext–anti-Semites hear veiled anti-Semitic allusions, pacifists hear anti-war slogans, warhawks hear militarism. And they just assume everyone else is too dumb to get the REAL message.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/GUFZNDXKK6JQGEIGV7VGXFUDKE c2t2

    I think we’re reading this all wrong. L&J are all about being literal, right? That puts ‘cater to her feelings’ in a whole new light.

    Feed your wife based on her mood!

    Gloomy – comfort food
    Angry – spicy food
    Bored – bread
    Talkative – carbonated beverages*
    Restless – exotic quisine
    Happy – sweets
    Nostalgic – leftovers

    *as in ‘bubbly’

  • Bificommander

    About Amanda and Chloe’s inexplicable travel powers: Note that these books pay painstacking attention to the travel details logistic for its male protagonists, never failing to underline what awesome manly men they are for completing such harrowing adventures, bravely trudding through the wounded and needy to reach their destination. And yet women seem to arrive where they need to be for the story, and how they got there is glossed over.

    Even in the first book where Buck and Chloe made a trip at the same time, and Chloe made a longer trip faster and with only a fraction of the budget. Everything the men do is a quest, and everything the women do… well, they don’t really do anything per se. They just, y’know, take care of everything the men need or want them to do. But that’s not really ‘doing’, is it. Taking action is manly, so whatever the womenfolk accomplish just can’t really be an action.

    My funny theory of their powers: They are good RTC wives, who are always where their husbands want them to be, so god teleports them there whenever needed.

  • Hth

    I like that the call to “sacrificially stand by one another” is portrayed as….

    a huge winner, something everyone longs to hear? and….

    something only RTCs have the sense to see through?

    Because self-sacrifice is, I guess, really wildly popular among everyone who isn’t a Christian.  Nothing weird about that perspective.

  • Carstonio
  • Lori

    I am so very tired of Fox News and For News affiliated asshats trolling us all for cash. So very tired. There is just not enough STFU in the world.

  • Fusina

     Oh dear god. Seriously?

    As the tee shirt says, “You can only say WTF so many times before you give up and just get drunk.”

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

    The Rules has been able to sent me into foaming-at-the-mouth rage since I was a teenager. It’s basically about creating a false persona that your target will fall in love with.

  • fraser

     I think the single worst thing in the book was the authors advice to teenage girls to make themselves into clones of the popular kids. Because high school is not the time to be an individual.

  • Msmilham

    I could never read these books because they hit too close to home, living RIGHT in the suburbs they were talking about. Eery to see post-apocalyptic places I go every day haha.

  • banancat

    I actually find my commute to be a relaxing unwinding time.  It’s about 30 minutes and my brain is basically on autopilot.  I turn up the music and sing along and I don’t have to feel guilty about not doing all those things on my list because I wouldn’t be able to do  them while driving anyway.  Sometimes I stop for frozen yogurt on my way home and I’ll actually sit in my car in the parking lot if I need to finish it, because once I get in the door my relaxing time will be over and I’ll have to deal with cooking and my needy cat and going to the gym and cleaning and all those other things.

  • fiercebadrabbit

    There’s a villain currently being villainous in the Marvel Universe named Honest John, the Living Propaganda. When he wants to, he appears to everyone who sees him as their ideal leader. The readers sometimes get to perceive him as he is, a small, nondescript, powerless looking guy whose real name we don’t even know. To those he effects, he is whatever and exactly what they need. Some people see a specific other person (Thor sees Odin, for example), while others see some amalgamation of whatever they understand to be right and good. He gets some help, as he’s currently working for Red Skull who currently has the powers of Charles Xavier (it’s still a comic book, after all) and there’s some additional mind-control mojo judiciously stirred in, but most of what he accomplishes, he does by being the person that people want to listen to. His power works through broadcast media of various sorts and on as many people as he wants. His introductory sequence shows him inciting people to attack their mutant friends and loved ones with perfectly calm, loftily-phrased rhetoric.

    Jenkins and LaHaye: Miles behind the people who bring you spandex-clad vigilantes punching each other since 1995.

  • Turcano

    …he’s currently working for Red Skull who currently has the powers of Charles Xavier…

    Do… do I even want to know how or why that happened?

  • fraser

     Partial brain transplant, I believe.

  • Lalouve

    I was another one of those who didn’t want to be a princess unless I could be Wonder Woman. Oddly enough, my nearest underling and I are currently structuring our work relationship very much as queen to favourite knight: he has skills I lack (and I have skills he lacks) but he is adamant about employing those skills in my service only. I respect his skills, he respects my decisions about their application.

  • Catherine

    Personally, I wanted to be the prince and ride around having adventures and not bother with the princess at all.
    50 years ago it was damn hard to find female role models who kicked ass. 

  • Adamlangfelder

    I love these blog posts! They’re perfect for a guy raised on mystery science theater 3000 and rifftrax!

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

    Voldemort would make mincemeat of Nicolae, Buck and Rayford.

    === VoldeSkewed ===

    immediately after the Rapture

    “Who Apparated all the children and some of the adults at once?” queried Voldemort to the audience at large.

    Nobody dared answer.

    a week after the Rapture

    Imperio.”

    Jonathan Stonagal abruptly stopped struggling, and stood up straight, glassy-eyed.

    “Good. Mr Stonagal, you will immediately explain why some politician out of Romania has been receiving missives from you on a regular baiss. When I cast the Imperius Curse upon him he had some ridiculous story of being born from two men; he explained you were the one who had set it all in motion.”

    Half an hour later

    “That has to be the most ridiculous, convoluted story I’ve ever heard! I know of this Muggle Bible, and I admit that even with the sudden disappearance of children and certain adults who claimed to be Christian, the way these prophecies are strung together defies description!”

    Voldemort idly fiddled with his wand, then decided.

    “You, Mr Stonagal, are no longer of any use to me. Your protege, however, will be a useful fool for my plans. Avada Kedavra.

    Jonathan Stonagal fell to the floor of the Riddle Mansion even as the green light still washed over him.

    “Wormtail! Go fetch that lackey, Carpathia.”

    Two months later

    Severus Snape couldn’t believe his eyes (or ears) as he watched from a shadowy corner in the United Nations General Assembly chamber. The Suggestion Potion the Dark Lord had ordered that he brew in large quantity had worked!

    All Severus had had to do was adulterate the coffee, tea, and juices (easy enough with the Confundus Charm) these people drank in the reception chamber prior to the gathering to select candidates for Secretary General, supposedly the most powerful position in the world; the Dark Lord, Severus thought, was more than a trifle misinformed about the true powers of the U.N.O., but one does not contradict the man who cast more Killing Curses in his entire life than a legion of Aurors did in a lifetime…

    The Imperiused Carpathia did nothing more than read off a list of nations, and yet —

    The potioned audience responded as though the man were the next world savior. The other candidates for office, who had spoken far more eloquently and realistically, were utterly unfazed at this farcical elevation to power of the Muggle cats-paw of the Dark Lord.

    Unbelievable, thought Severus.

    Meanwhile

    Imperio! Damn you, IMPERIO!”

    “You keep saying that word,” smarmed Buck Williams. “But I don’t think it’s working.”

    Voldemort wondered if it were literally possible for steam to rush out of his ears. This infuriating man acted like he had absolutely no brain worth mentioning! Legilimency might as well have been like trying to see if a puffskein had thoughts! The Imperius Curse did nothing. A Confundus, oddly enough, had the man briefly nattering on about cookies and a woman named Chloe, but Voldemort couldn’t decide if it had been a coincidence.

    Just to see…

    Avada Kedavra!”

    Unbelievably, the man leaned over at that exact minute, reaching for something shiny that was on the floor.

    The grinning, simpering fool stood up, beaming. “Look! I found one of those funny one pound coins!”

    Voldemort began seriously entertaining the notion that this man was a walking Horcrux permanently dosed with Felix Felicis.

  • fraser

    Nice!
    Now I’m reminded also of the Bartimaeus Chronicles, a kids’ fantasy series in which the British government is ruled by magicians, but they’re all Benevolent and Wise and requiring the nonmages serve them in every way is only a fair trade for the terrible sacrifices the mages make for the common good. Something like that would be much more believable as an Antichrist government than the LB mess.

  • esmerelda_ogg

     

    This infuriating man acted like he had absolutely no brain worth mentioning! – Invisible Neutrino

    Well, at least Voldemort understands our Buck.

  • Water_Bear

    Holy shit! I just read a (condensed) version of this!

    “31. Never discus The Rules with your therapist.”
    “31. Never discus The Rules with your therapist.”
    “31. Never discus The Rules with your therapist.”

    There aren’t enough Red Flags in all of China to cover this situation. I mean, wow, how the hell did this even get published? WTF!

    (Also a little freaked because I’m starting to recognize the stuff on the list from things a woman at my college has been doing. How common are Rules Girls? Should I be running now, or wait for solid confirmation?)

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    It’s fun to read the one-star reviews over at Amazon–at least it’s affirmation that plenty of women and men find this all as counter-productive aand insulting (to both genders!) as we do.

  • Lori

    In spite of what a lot of people believe, I think Rules Girls are uncommon overall. If you like the woman I think you should definitely wait for confirmation.

    The thing about The Rules is that there are several of them that are things that make sense for perfectly normal, honest people. The fact that someone does those things doesn’t mean she’s doing anything weird or manipulative. Being busy, and therefore saying no to a relatively last minute invitation is a perfectly normal thing. Saying no to a Thursday request for a date because it’s after Wednesday, even though you aren’t busy and would otherwise have liked to go is dumb.

    Be a “creature like no other” is the stupid cousin of “be yourself”.

    “Be honest, but mysterious” is a stupid way to express what is generally good advice—don’t lie, but don’t tell all your stories and just generally let it all hang out on the first date.

    Same goes for “Don’t open up too fast.” That’s usually a good guideline. You don’t want to share all your stuff before you know the person well enough to have reason to trust them.

    There are a few more like that. And then there’s the rest, which are horrible and manipulative and retro in the worst way and just generally things no self-respecting person should do.

    And yes, “don’t tell your therapist about this bullshit thing you’re doing” is a great big ol’ red flag, waving madly in the wind.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Exactly–and the advice that is good is the advice that is pretty common knowledge already, hardly the top-secret keys to finding love.

    “Keep yourself busy before a date” is correct, but just a good plan for life–don’t let your every thought and action revolve around dating, have outside interests, etc.  Though, Being Girls, the top tips given in the book include getting a manicure or buying new clothes or perfume.  Oh, you know how we girls just love to shop!

    The pages of the book, the vast majority of the advice, is simply saturated with contempt for women and hatred and resentment of men.  The few pieces of wisdom that most of us learned in our teen years are not enough to compensate.

  • fraser

    As someone pointed out when the book was new, one of the books’ underlying assumption is that women don’t have outside interests–they do nothing but sit by the phone waiting for Him to call and have to be told to get a life (or at least, create the illusion they have an existence away from him).

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

     

    The thing about The Rules is that there are several of them that are things that make sense for perfectly normal, honest people. The fact
    that someone does those things doesn’t mean she’s doing anything weird
    or manipulative. Being busy, and therefore saying no to a relatively
    last minute invitation is a perfectly normal thing. Saying no to a
    Thursday request for a date because it’s after Wednesday, even though
    you aren’t busy and would otherwise have liked to go is dumb.

    Reminds me of Heartless Bitches International’s Manipulator Files: Red Flag List that purports to be a list of warning signs that someone is a manipulator or abuser.

    It contains some good general advice mixed in among bizarre judgments of healthy behavior or non-harmful quirks and some really horrific victim-blaming.

  • fraser

     Oh, is that the one that warns against guys who read comic books or dating people who’ve had abusive parents?

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

     

    Oh, is that the one that warns against guys who read comic books or dating people who’ve had abusive parents?

    That’s the one. Someone who calls their mother before making major life decisions is apparently just as much a potential manipulator/abuser as someone who tries to make you financially dependent on them.

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

    And “sleeps constantly”? That’s a manipulator?

    I thought excessive sleep was considered a possible sign of metabolic disorder or clinical depression, which have nothing to do with emotional manipulation.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Yep, and you should stay away from a guy who’s into history or television or comic books.  I mean, geez, who would want a guy with interests?  Ewwww…

  • Alicia

    Yeah, who would want a man with no apparent motives, desires, interests, or hobbies?

    I mean, besides Hattie Durham, Amanda White, and Chloe Steele? 

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

     

    And “sleeps constantly”? That’s a manipulator?

    I thought excessive sleep was considered a possible sign of metabolic
    disorder or clinical depression, which have nothing to do with
    emotional manipulation.

    Oh no, according to HBI metabolic disorders and clinical depression are ALSO signs of emotional manipulation.

  • http://twitter.com/KeroseneBitumen Christina Nordlander

    Good grief, some of that list is vile.

    For the record, I met my (wonderful) husband *because* he was into nerdy interests that I happened to share. But no, clearly I should have gone for a handsome face with no interests instead.

    And the victim blaming is just… wow. So just because you’ve been abused or had an otherwise sucky life, that means you should never have a chance to be in a relationship? I’m baffled.

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

     

    For the record, I met my (wonderful) husband *because* he was into nerdy
    interests that I happened to share. But no, clearly I should have gone
    for a handsome face with no interests instead.

    Well, according to #10 someone with no hobbies is ALSO a manipulator. So a potential partner is safe only if their hobbies fall into a limited but unspecified range of interests.

  • CharityB

    Many cult groups generally dissuade members from discussing the cult with outsiders except in strictly-defined preapproved ways. This helps the cult cloister its members from the outside world (strengthening its control — if they’re afraid of everyone who isn’t a member) while at the same time stopping members from coming into contact with inconvenient truths about the cult.

  • http://twitter.com/MuseofIre MuseofIre

    Melissa Bank’s The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing is an absolutely brilliant take-down of The Rules BS. She points out that, basically, if you succeed, you’re stuck with someone who doesn’t know or like anything about the genuine *you*, and conversely, you’re apt to scare away someone awesome who would have appreciated your quirks but can’t be bothered with headgames.

  • Lori

     So true.

    My genuine, not just trying to put a good face on it, observation is that being married to the wrong person is really lousy and that most people are better off single than with the person they’d end up with by playing idiotic games.

  • KevinC

    Grrr.  I’m really starting to hate this “Rule” that says nothing happens unless Raygun or Camshaft sees it (and it doesn’t reallyhappen until the one that sees it tells the other about it over the phone).  It’s like some kind of Schrodinger’s Universe that requires one or both of them to open the box.  As long as Camshaft doesn’t notice that there’s been a nuclear war, or a global crime wave, or Horsemen or Vials or Trumpets or Bowls, etc., then he and those close to him can inhabit a weird Normality Bubble and apparently spend the entire series hovering, Wile E. Coyote-style, over the abyss of the Apocalypse, safe to worry about First-World Problems like whether the TV in the Range Rover is still working or the reception on their Super-Awesome Gold-and-Diamond Plated Status Phones.  As long as Cam-Cam doesn’t look down. 

    Better authors could have used this to interesting effect by having, say, Amanda being disoriented and nervous around Buck, as if there’s something horribly wrong, but she just can’t place it, and then when she separates from him, suddenly ERMAHGERD–NUCLEAR WAR AND ZOMBIES AND MAD MAX BIKER GANGS!!!  Running frantically through a terrifying apocalyptic doomscape, only barely evading the forces of evil and savagery, she calls Cam-Cam to warn him, but it’s as if what she’s saying gets lost in translation somehow.  He caters to her feelings, tells her to find some nice quiet place to relax and unwind.  So she tries to get to him to warn him in person, but when she gets close enough, *thwooosh,* Oh dear, my hair is quite a mess, and would you look at these horrible stains on my clothes!  That one almost looks like blood!  Oh yes!  I have to warn Buck…about…

    But of course we’re not dealing with better authors.  So instead of being a useful, even interesting story device, the Rule forces Ellenjay to constantly reinforce Camshaft’s Normality Bubble because the Antichrist can’t really do something unless Camshaft can see it on TV or hear about it over the phone.  Which means that, no matter what, there still has to be TV and cell coverage.  And since nothing else can happen unless Camshaft can get there to see it, there has to be gas at the gas stations, cars in the car dealerships, private planes at the airports, and money (of which Buck, of course, has plenty) still has to work.  Otherwise, that little trip across the suburbs of post-nuclear Chicago would be a lot more like Sam and Frodo getting into Mordor, and casual flights to Israel to get a couple Bible quotes out of Moses and Elijah would be right out.

    Even if Raygun was not already fully-loaded with evil from the very start, the Rule would force him to be.  Since he’s leashed to the Antichrist and the Antichrist can’t be stopped, he can’t even try to do anything significant to oppose him beyond the occasional whoopee cushion and joy-buzzer handshake.    Again, better authors could have Ray eventually realize that Nicky Sangre de Christo can only do horrible things as long as he (and Buck) witness it.  So he calls Buck and says, “Buck!  TURN OFF YOUR TV!  Turn off your radio, don’t pay any attention to Nicolae Carpathia, OK?”  Then, he finds his first opportunity and makes a daring escape from the Antichrist’s clutches, pursued by Supreme Commander Leon and his goons.  Action, explosions, maybe a few bullet-holes in Ray’s precious flesh, but then, as he staggers those last few steps before collapsing, putting Nicky outside of his Schrodinger radius, *thwooosh!*  Nicky is just the Secretary General of the United Nations.  UN Chief of Security Leon Fortunato is wondering what he and his men are doing pointing guns at the guy in the pilot’s uniform, and the cops who have just showed up with sirens blaring are wondering the same thing.

    Or, Ellenjay could have just used the omniscient point of view.  By itself, that would have improved the books by at least one order of magnitude.  All of a sudden, Ray doesn’t have to be the Antichrist’s most trusted minion.  All of a sudden, it isn’t necessary to spend page after page explaining that the Range Rover’s TV is working, the cell phones have their full complement of bars, or how Buck got the Range Rover or the phones or the laptops or have him driving quiescently through the suburbs, because the events in the Middle East can still happen without him.  The Antichrist can make a speech that is heard by the people who aren’t in the middle of the nuclear war zone (and not necessarily by those inside it) because Buck doesn’t have to be the one to make both real simultaneously.  So Buck & Co. could have a much more exciting survival drama because they don’t also have to be inhabiting an unaffected area so that they can watch TV. 

    As a bonus, it becomes much easier to make the Antichrist a larger-than-life villain.  Without a camera-character having to watch him as he orders coffee, takes bathroom breaks, makes staffing decisions, adjusts his necktie, etc., etc., he’s never dragged down to a banal, human level.  Compare with Darth Vader in the original trilogy, or Voldemort in Harry Potter.  Distant, spooky, almost completely unknown to the audience and the characters until details slowly trickle in.  And when the villain does appear, there’s a moment of surprise and fear, because this towering force that’s been pulling the strings behind everything is suddenly there, in person.   Imagine how much more difficult it would have been for Lucas or Rowling, if Lando Calrissian had to be Darth Vader’s personal pilot and valet, or if Ron Weasley had been Voldemort’s adopted son, and each had to spend the entire series constantly in their respective villain’s presence, trying to be on the good guys’ side while the plot forbids either to Just Shoot Him.

    Instead, these books constantly torture the reader with massive cognitive dissonance between the Normality Bubbles around Camshaft and Raygun and the OMG! APOCALYPSE! that’s supposed to be happening outside.  On the other hand, their intended audience already has an astounding capacity for cognitive dissoance, so I guess that isn’t a problem.

  • KevinC

    One more thing: it’s only the Rule that makes the casual sexism of this week’s theme even possible.  It’s THE APOCALYPSE AND NUCLEAR WAR AND…we’re dispensing “Mars and Venus” marital advice?  Really?!  Even setting aside (with the requisite Herculean effort) that it’s awful, sexist advice, the very idea of it is only applicable to the comfy, workaday suburban normality that any apocalyptic story (whether it be zombies, robots, nuclear weapons, Mayan prophecies, or the Book of Revelation) is specifically designed to shatter and sweep away.

    The Rule is so grating in part because even Ellenjay’s patriarchal sexism could have been more sympathetic without it:

    “Cater to her feelings?!  Are you serious, Amanda?!  Look at her!  Do you see those bandages?  The cast?  The cane?  I didn’t have a bomb shelter built under our church so that we would never freaking use it!  Chloe is staying there because the last time I let the woman I love out of my sight she almost died and OK Chloe you’re coming with us get in.” 

  • KevinC

    Clarification: I don’t mean to say that having Ellenjay’s sexism be more sympathetic would be a good thing (more like “less terrible”).  Rather, that it’s possible to make a character who’s a dick and still have them be sympathetic enough that the readers don’t wish there was an eternal fiery Hell for them to go to.  And in the case of an actual good writer who wants the character to become a hero, have them grow and change and learn to not be a dick.  ‘Course, this is Ellenjay we’re talking about here, so the Fractal Awful is inescapable.

  • KevinC

    A quick fic:

    “International aviation rules prohibit me from flying again for 24 hours.”

    “Nonsense,” Fortunato said.  “How do you feel?”

    “Exhausted.”

    “Nevertheless, you’re the only one qualified to fly this plane, and you’ll be flying it when we say you’ll be flying it.”

    Rayford blinked at Leon, stunned for a moment by the sheer, pig-headed irrationality of the man’s words.  Here they were, in the middle of World War III, and this numbskull wanted GC-1 to fly straight into Middle Eastern airspace–almost within spitting distance of the last, well-armed, sovereign nation on Earth–with a pilot at the helm who would be struggling just to keep his eyes open.  Rayford tried.  Really tried, to hold his anger in, or maybe direct it toward some harmless outlet, like maybe a pissing contest with Leon.  But it was like some fissure cracking open inside him, seething fountains of orange-red magma bursting through a hard, brittle crust.

    Ray had taken this job because he’d been convinced that God had wanted him here.  He’d endured Nicolae’s sickening malevolence, watched helplessly while he murdered millions while he waited for the Holy Spirit’s leading, all in faith that he had been put here for a reason, that God would have some great good for him to do that would make it all worth it.  He’d waited on the Lord, not wanting to lash out in the flesh and miss his chance for God’s greater good.  But this one, last straw of random, stupid, pointless meanness detonated under the tower of his faith and patience, sending it all collapsing into its own footprint.  In that moment he could only feel one thing: pure, white-hot hatred for the man in front of him, only want one thing: to erase that cocky look from Fortunato’s face.  To erase him.

    *whop*

    Fortunato’s clothes slumped to the floor.  The Event?  It’s happening again?  How?

    “Ah, Rayford, Good to see you on your feet,” Nicolae’s smooth, ever-so-confident voice purred.  “I was looking for Mr. Fortunato.  I trust he has spoken to you…about…”  The Potentate’s eyes fell to the heap of clothes, then up to meet Rayford’s.  Their usual genial gleam suddenly turned to the flash of a freshly-drawn sword.  “What have you done with Mr. Fortunato?” he asked in a cool voice with only the smallest hint of malice.  Nicolae never needed more than that.

    “Me?  Wha…?” Rayford stammered.  And then…he remembered.  Back on that 747.  An erection pressing uncomfortably against his tight belt, demanding to be set free.  Pulsing with each heartbeat, each forbidden thought of dragging Hattie into the latrine, or taking her right there in the flight attendants’ break room, or…  And then the surge of anger.  At himself, yes; but then, at the people who caged him, who had kept him from boning Hattie like he’d wanted too all those years–hell, like she’d wanted him to all those years: Irene, and Raymie.  And how he’d thought, for just one second, how much better his life would be…if only there was no such thing as Bible-thumpers and kids.

    The incomprehension on Rayford’s face slowly faded.  With each passing second, a whole lot of things started making sense.

    “I expect an answer,” Nicolae said, the tenor of menace in his voice rising.  A smile spread across Rayford’s face.

    “He should have called me Captain Steele when he had the chance.  As for you?  You have held the world in thrall long enough.  I want you to go away now.”  With the sound of a clap by cupped hands, air rushed into the vacuum where Nicolae had been.  His suit crumpled to the ground at Rayford’s feet.

    Buck’s cell phone rang.  He drew its from its holster, letting it ring a couple more time while he caressed its sleek form with his thumb.  Of course he could not resist its siren song for long.  he touched the ‘Talk’ button like a lover’s clitoris.  “Buck.”  His face brightened when he heard the familiar voice.  “Ray  Thank God you’re alright!  Where are you?”

    “I have some good news for you, Buck,” Ray said.  “Nicolae Carpathia is no more.”

    “…What?  How…is that possible?  He’s the Antichrist…the prophecies…”  Something about Rayford’s chuckle made the hairs on the back of Cameron’s neck stand up.  “You’re saying you…killed him?”  Ray laughed this time.

    “‘Kill’ is such an ugly word, Buck.  Every child on Earth, gone in the blink of an eye, and not one of us ever said they’d been killed, no not once.”

    “Ray?  Are you OK?”

    “Never better.  I have some more good news for  you, Buck.  You are the only person who could have matched me.  The only person who shares my power.”

    “Uh…Ray?  What are you talking about?”

    “For the ‘Greatest Investigative Reporter of All Time, you never were very bright.  But then, you never had to be, did you?”

    “Ray…you’re starting to scare me.  What’s going on?”

    “When was the last time you wrote a story, Buck?”

    “Well, just last…”  Buck’s brows furrowed in confusion.  He could remember all the exciting news he’d seen…the attack on Israel, Chaim’s all-but magical crop-growth formula, the Event, the rise of Nicolae.  He could remember receiving the acclaim and admiration of everyone around him, as if he’d produced a Pulitzer Prize-worthy account of each one.  And the money!  Even before Nicolae hired him, the paychecks came in as if he was the most read reporter in print.  But…for the life of him…Buck couldn’t remember actually writing anything.

    “I don’t suppose you’ve ever wondered why, in the middle of the Apocalypse, your life just kept going on almost like normal?  Why your money was still good for cars and gas and plane tickets while everybody else in the world has been reduced to barter and looting by the collapse of the global economy.  Except when you were around.  When you were around, their lives were normal too.  They didn’t even miss their children.  Am I right?”

    “I…don’t understand…”

    “Of course you don’t.  But that’s alright, Buck.  You don’t have to understand.  Because I have some bad news for you too:  I want you to go away now.

    Buck’s cell phone dropped onto the heated leather seat of the Range Rover.  The driverless vehicle began to swerve. 

    Chloe screamed.

  • Ymfon Tviergh

     …Wow. Just wow.

  • aunursa

    Rayford: The Rise of Anthonychrist

  • http://twitter.com/Jenk3 Jen K

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