NRA: What Would Rayford Do? (Do the opposite)

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; pp. 165-174

This chapter offers scenes featuring Rayford Steele at his Rayfordiest.

He and Hattie Durham are at a restaurant. That gives Rayford another chance to interact with people who are at work, and whether that’s at a restaurant, an airport, a store or a traffic stop, it’s an opportunity for more cringe-inducing Rayfordishness:

They were led to a table set for four. But even though two busboys hurried out to clear away two sets of dinnerware, and the waiter pulled out a chair for Hattie while pointing Rayford to the one next to her, Rayford was still thinking of appearances. He sat directly across from Hattie, knowing they would nearly have to shout to hear each other in the noisy place. The waiter hesitated, looking irritated, and finally moved Rayford’s tableware back to in front of him. That was something Hattie and Rayford might have chuckled over in their past. …

To fully appreciate the Rayfordosity on display here, keep in mind that this isn’t just any restaurant. This is Hattie’s restaurant. “Hattie herself had helped conceive it,” we are told. Rayford knows this, but — despite several pages of small talk in this chapter — he never says anything to her about it. No comments or compliments on the decor or the place’s success. No questions conveying an interest in her project. No acknowledging her work at all.

Most of us, on visiting a restaurant with an acquaintance who helped design the place, would find something encouraging to say about it, even if the place was a total trainwreck. “You must have had fun bringing all this together,” or some other such vaguely positive comment would seem like the least one should say. Hattie’s Global Bistro, we’re told, is doing very well. It’s a magnet drawing discerning patrons who have come from all over the world to work in the new global capital city.

Yet it never occurs to Rayford to say one word about it. Instead, within five minutes of arriving he’s giving the waiters a hard time for no reason (“I’d prefer to sit here, please,” would have avoided the irritation he seems to have provoked deliberately), rolling his eyes as though visiting such a restaurant is an ordeal. And he imagines that Hattie would be “chuckling” over this behavior if she weren’t otherwise in a bad mood.

The irony is that Rayford’s appalling behavior stems from his “thinking about appearances.” His aim, on arriving at the restaurant, was to appear virtuous — and he seems to believe he succeeded at doing so. He and the authors both seem wholly unaware that the main appearance he is creating is that of being a callous, condescending jerk.

That gets at the core of what it means to be Rayford Steele: the vast chasm between how he imagines he appears to others and how he actually is. That difference is a product, in part, of the fact that he seems to spend a great deal of time preoccupied with imagining how he appears to others and of the related fact that he is terrible at doing so accurately.

Consider this part of his conversation with Hattie, where he seems to think that imposing a lawyerly control on the terms of their former flirtation is a better way of asserting his goodness than, say, the long-delayed apology Hattie deserves from him:

“Well, to tell you the truth, when you dumped me –”

“Hattie, I never dumped you. There was nothing to dump. We were not an item.”

“Yet.”

“OK, yet,” he said. “That’s fair. But you have to admit there had been no commitment or even an expression of a commitment.”

“There had been plenty of signals, Rayford.”

“I have to acknowledge that. Still, it’s unfair to say I dumped you.”

One of the things that I find fascinating about Rayford Steele is the way he subverts the readers’ expectations about the significance of a character’s motive. Broadly speaking, we expect good characters to have good motives and evil characters to have evil motives. That’s a conventional way of distinguishing between the heroes and the villains of a story. Rayford doesn’t fit into such tidy categories. He has horrible motives, but he seems to believe — sincerely — that his motives are good. He’s a bad guy who thinks he’s one of the good guys, a cad who thinks he’s a gentleman, a jerk who thinks he’s a mensch, a negligent bystander who thinks he’s a hero.

This also separates Rayford from antihero protagonists. Antiheros may spend time “thinking about appearances,” but they tend to be aware of the difference between the appearances they strive to project and the characters they actually are. Antiheroes tend to be aware of their own conflicted motives.

With an antihero, redemption is always a possibility. Think of Tony Soprano. One could argue that the theme of The Sopranos was that Tony knew he needed to change to become a better person, and he even seemed to want to change to become a better person, and yet at every opportunity he chose not to. The show would have been a stagnant, repetitive mess except that Tony was perpetually aware of his need for redemption, of the possibility of choosing it, and of the cost of that choice.

The difference between a literary masterpiece and something else can sometimes boil down to whether the artifice of the unreliable narrator is conscious or unconscious.

Rayford is not aware of any of that. He thinks of redemption only in the past tense. Where The Sopranos gave us an antihero struggling, and failing, with the ever-present possibility of redemption, Left Behind gives us a Rayford, a man so wholly entombed in his delusion that he can’t even imagine changing or choosing or growing.

Whenever I think about this, trying to plumb the bottomless depths of Rayford’s shallowness, I’m tempted to think of him as a remarkable literary creation. He epitomizes the kind of delusional narcissism that enables one to enable evil. There are layers of complexity to his simple-minded self-absorption. Had any of that been a deliberate effect intended by his creators, these books might be read in literature classes. Jerry Jenkins — despite his shortcomings as a stylist, his tin ear for dialogue, and his delirious disregard for continuity and research — might be spoken of in the same sentences as Nabokov or Dostoevsky or, at least, David Chase.

But we don’t commend the authors for this achievement because they seem as wholly ensconced within Rayford’s delusion as Rayford is himself.

It almost seems unfair that such an accidental, unintentional achievement isn’t recognized. I suppose that’s partly because such accidents are all too common. Consider, for example, the polar opposite appreciation and literary reputation of Lolita and Known and Unknown. Both books feature an unreliable narrator desperate to charm the reader into forgiving the unforgivable by weaving a tapestry of self-serving rationalizations. Both narrative voices are a painstaking construct — the product of labor and artifice. Yet the former book is hailed as a masterpiece and one of the greatest novels of all time while the latter collects dust on remainder tables as an unwelcome relic from a time most of us prefer not to remember.

But imagine if “Donald Rumsfeld” was a wholly imaginary character and that the events recounted in his memoir were audacious fiction, a wicked satire describing an implausible campaign of deceit that ultimately ensnared even the deceivers themselves, leading to a catastrophically lethal blunder in which trillions were squandered and hundreds of thousands slain. Yet despite that all-too-predictable outcome, this fictional narrator with the oddly Dickensian name is unrepentant, effusively praising himself as a hero and a champion of virtue. If it were fiction — the product of conscious artifice rather than of unconscious artifice – Known and Unknown would be on the syllabus of English literature classes everywhere.

Now imagine the other side. What if Lolita was actually a memoir, written by a real-life Humbert Humbert? All that gorgeous prose would be reviled and rejected. Copies of the book would sit, unwanted and unread alongside copies of O.J. Simpson’s If I Did It.

Rayford Steele is, in his own way, a literary achievement that ranks up there with Humbert Humbert and the Underground Man, and with “Donald Rumsfeld” and “O.J. Simpson.” But because, like those last two, Rayford was not a deliberate artistic creation, he isn’t celebrated as such.

I don’t want to celebrate Rayford, but I do want to learn from him. He has a great deal to teach us. And so do his creators.

That, more than anything else, is why I’m still reading these books after nearly 10 years (!) of slogging through them page-by-ludicrous-page.

I’ve seen this referred to as “hate-reading” — analogous to the diversion of “hate-watching” so-bad-it’s-good TV shows or movies just for the fun of mocking their shortcomings and reveling in their failures. I appreciate the pleasures afforded by this pastime. It can be a lot of fun in small doses — especially in the company of quick-witted friends.

But hate-watching for its own sake can’t be sustained very long before it turns into something else. The whole point of the exercise isn’t just to absorb the awfulness of some so-bad-it’s-good movie or show, but to respond to it. And that response leads to something richer than just quips and mockery.

Just responding, “This is bad,” is unsatisfying. It lacks specificity. To get more specific — to identify and articulate that specificity — means switching from statements to questions. Why is this bad. How is this bad?

And that, in turn, leads to bigger questions: What is the nature of badness in general? What is the precise nature of the precise badness we’re witnessing here? What, if anything, would make this good? What is the nature of goodness?

These questions are not asked explicitly or didactically — that would ruin all the fun of getting together with your friends to watch Plan Nine From Outer Space or The Real Housewives of New Jersey. But such questions are also unavoidable if you want to say anything funny, clever or incisive. Without considering those questions on some level, you’d be left with nothing but puns and funny noises. (Not that I’m opposed to puns and funny noises — I still giggle at this YouTube classic starring Robert Tilton. But we surely there are also more substantial critiques that need to be made of Tilton’s brand of deceitful, predatory sanctimony.)

Even if you only start asking such questions in order to sharpen the edge of your mockery, thinking about such questions leads you beyond mere hate-watching and into something more like what we could call apophatic criticism.*

“Apophatic” is a fancy word from the world of theology. It usually refers to a kind of negative theology in which we strive to clarify the nature and character of God by saying what God is not like. The idea was put forward by folks like Maimonides and Dr. Seuss (“the way to find a certain something is to find out where it’s not”).

The idea of “negative theology” sometimes gets a negative response because the word “negative,” of course, has negative connotations. So some people hear that word “negative” and assume that negative theology must involve destruction — a tearing down or a tearing apart. But it’s actually a helpful approach that yields positive results. Negative theology allows us to be more constructive — to speak with greater clarity and confidence about the nature of God than we are able to do when attempting to make “positive” statements, which tend to be inadequate, anthropomorphic, or limiting and, therefore, misleading.**

That apophatic principle from The Cat in the Hat is what allows us to learn so much from the World’s Worst Books. These books are an almanac of awful — an exhaustive catalogue of “where it’s not” that enables us to better locate many certain somethings. These books fail on every level — storytelling, characterization, continuity, theology, politics, ethics, logic. They’re also clearly “so-bad-they’re-good,” and thus suitable for the amusement of hate-watching, but more than that, they are instructively bad. Every page provides an opportunity to ask all those questions above — an exercise in negative theology, or negative literary criticism, or negative ethics.

We can learn, in other words, how not to do theology, how not to tell stories, how not to treat others.

This is the value of contemplating Rayford Steele in all of his insufferable, overwhelming Rayforditude. Rayford serves — albeit unintentionally — as a flashing red danger sign warning us of the perils of delusional narcissism. He is worth studying and contemplating in the same way that Charles Sheldon taught us to contemplate Christ. “What would Jesus do?” Sheldon famously asked. And we can ask — just as fruitfully — “What would Rayford do?”

The difference there, of course, is that we should then make sure we’re not doing it.

If you’re a storyteller and you’re trying to write a story with an actual hero, ask WWRD? Then write the opposite.

If you want to be the hero of your own story and of your own life, ask WWRD? Then do the opposite.

Try it out next time you’re at a restaurant and the waiter comes to your table. WWRD? Do the opposite. You’ll make one person’s day and help to make the world a better place.

- – - – - – - – - – - -

* We shouldn’t make too much of this distinction between “hate-watching” and what I’m describing here as an “apophatic” approach. Don’t conclude that the former is frivolous or that the latter is ponderous. The whole point of hate-watching, after all, is to say something funny — and that means to say something true. So the real difference here may be something more like the difference between poetry and prose.

** This is part of why so many of my favorite bloggers are atheists — and why I often find myself agreeing with what they think and write about God. We can agree on the statement “God is not X,” even if we still disagree on the shorter, more sweeping statement, “God is not.” The atheist channel here at Patheos features several really excellent apophatic theologians.

  • P J Evans

    that’s a cool fountain!

  • P J Evans

    I know a lot of people who need that in their cubicles: they think that being necessary makes them important.
    They tend to think it’s funny when told that if you can’t be replaced, you can’t be promoted.

  • Jamoche

    My first thought was that was a scene from Logan’s Run.

  • Jamoche

    They’re generating a Reality Distortion Field and need to be introduced to the Total Perspective Vortex.

    (which is essentially what happens to Buck in my Night Vale fic :) )

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

    What’s special? Eat a cookie on international television while you eat a cookie at home?

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

    But WHO will play Ambiguously-Gay-but-RTC flight attendant Tony?

  • aunursa

    Amy **** What I’m not sure about is this turning into a Glee musical with 50% of the cast being from Hollywoods popular stars and the other 50% from the Disney channel. I understand to have to appeal to the masses but this story isn’t a popularity contest. It’s about making the decision for God and not being Left Behind.
    6 hours ago via mobile

    Tammy ******* **** The cast from the original movie would be great just updated version and older I can not see anyone else as buck than Kirk Cameron he takes it very serious

  • general_apathy

    #FirstWorldTribulations

  • Daniel

    Rayford’s mind was on a room full of people he would never touch. Sitting behind his fully loaded potato skins, sipping tap water (apparently they were going halves on the bill) he knew all eyes in the Global Bistro were on him. He wondered how long this meal was going to last. He felt, sitting staring into Hattie’s large blue eyes, that he had been here for weeks, not eating anything, just watching her peruse the menu and bite her lower lip as she concentrated on the dishes. Her eyes were the window into Hattie’s corrupted soul. Bruce Barnes had pointed out in an obscure self-penned parable (written at the time he confessed his sins, shortly before he paid the bar tab) that the soul is like a woman, and the eyes like all windows allow women inside to see men looking in at them. The eyelids, he added, are the curtains of the soul. Rayford finally understood what Bruce’s parable meant. Though it was beautiful he could not cry as Bruce had done when he told it, he could not cry because Rayford was a man. He checked himself, in case anyone else was watching. Because he knew everyone was watching.

    Any one casually looking over, anyone who had themselves been corrupted by eating the devil’s foodstuffs, could easily imagine they saw a man looking into the perfect eyes of a younger woman he lusted after, a younger woman whose beauty and seductive charms had nearly pulled that man away from his wife, once upon a time. A woman who’s perfect figure and incessant walking and bending and talking and laughing had all been finely tuned to exploit his weakness… his natural weakness as an unsaved man, a sinner, a man
    powerless to control the lust she had deliberately made him feel. Anyone
    looking over would forgive him this natural manly weakness, but since his
    conversion Rayford had become his own harshest critic. Rayford modelled his
    life on Jesus’ now. If there was one thing Jesus hated, it was forgiveness, and
    so Rayford had learned that he whilst he could be forgiven, had he sinned, it
    was not his place to forgive others.

    His weakness had manifested itself most clearly whenever Irene disagreed with him. Bruce had given Rayford this insight into himself. It had been his greatest gift, a chance for Rayford to better understand Rayford, and to realise that his only real error had been his compassion, for Irene, for Hattie. He should have taken a firmer line with them both, and he resolved to do that with the only one of them still on Earth. Rayford was a stronger man now; it had been more than eighteen months since a woman had disagreed with him, and more than a year since one had had the last word. He felt he had steeled himself for the fight he knew was coming. He smiled. That pun was worthy of Buck, wherever he was. As he refocused his thoughts he found himself reflected again in those Adriatic eyes. Hattie was waiting for him to speak. Anyone watching would have known she was eager to be filled with his words.

    Hattie couldn’t- wouldn’t- see what she was doing to him. She refused to acknowledge that Rayford was correct. She wanted to live in her illusion a little longer. She was still trying to convince herself of a lie, she was still confusing Rayford’s words with excuses, rather than statements of fact. He couched his language in as strict and unambiguous terms as he could. He tried to keep his poker face in tact, so anyone watching would not imagine he had any emotional interest in this woman, whom he’d never touched.
    “You have to admit there had been no commitment or even an expression of a commitment.”
    “There had been plenty of signals, Rayford.”
    “I have to acknowledge that. Still, it’s unfair to say I dumped you.”
    She rolled her eyes. Why would she do this to him? She refused to accept that he was right- he had never touched her, on that point he was extremely clear. Without touching there could be no relationship. Anyone watching would be sure to agree.

    Part of the reason he’d talked to her about Irene was that the touching in their relationship had stopped. She’d sat on his lap a couple of times early on in their marriage, and the honeymoon had been a whirlwind of hand holding, lap sitting, even kissing. But such passion inevitably dies and leaves the man bereft of those consolations only a woman can offer. Only a woman- Bruce Barnes had repeatedly made that point. And when that happens it’s wrong for a younger woman aware of her beauty to deliberately attempt to lead that man astray, as Hattie had done.
    “I mean, the flirting, the shopping trips in Paris to buy Chloe sweets- not to mention all the times you sat me on your lap during flights.” A wicked smile drew the corners of her coral bow mouth up toward those sparkling eyes. She patted her belly.
    “I mean, this might have been yours.”
    Rayford maintained his dignity as he spluttered on his water. Anyone watching would have imagined she’d turned him down. Anyone watching would have wondered how such a thing was possible.
    “Don’t be obscene Hattie!” He dabbed the spilled water off the table.
    She laughed. She was laughing. Rayford couldn’t understand why. The joke would have been equally difficult for anyone watching to understand. He wished she’d think of others, just once, like he did.

    “When did you become such a prude Rayford?”
    He straightened up proudly. To the untrained eyes of the people watching it may, possibly, have looked a trifle self-important, as though he was trying to regain his dignity. He wished others would stop watching him.

    But he wondered- could the child be his? She’d sat on his lap, certainly, and he’d been so seized by the moment he hadn’t used precautions. He doubted she’d ritually bathed herself in bleach and burned all her clothes- she was not saved and could not know the right way to behave after a man she wasn’t married to had not-really-touched her.

    He hadn’t been around when Irene had fallen pregnant with Rayford junior or the girl child he’d also had. Rayford had simply followed normal procedure. He’d payed a doctor and then some time later driven an overweight Irene to hospital, where he’d handed out cigars to the other expectant fathers and was eventually given the baby he’d been promised several hours earlier. The delay had been her fault- Rayford had made sure to drive the fastest and therefore best way to the hospital. He explained the route to the doctors and other staff- even before his conversion he had been generous with good news. He’d tried to give the child back when he saw a piece was missing, arguing with several doctors until they explained it was a girl. Rayford, ever the stoic, had decided to put a brave face on it. He asked for a discount, which he didn’t receive, though his parking was validated, meaning he’d won. He chose not to blame himself for the femaleness of the baby, instead realising it was Irene’s fault- after all, she was a woman, which in a lot of ways was basically a tall girl. He’d had better luck the second time. But the mysteries of how the children had actually been made were quite outside his ken. There are some things man is not meant to know, and Rayford, as anyone watching could see, was a man. Babies are women things. So, he realised in fright, Hattie’s spawn might be his.

    “I really think, as this is a professional meal between” he couldn’t bring himself to say “colleagues”. They weren’t colleagues. He was the pilot of Global Community One. She was just the World’s First Lady. With his ever present tact he resorted to “professional…people… that we should maintain a certain level of… professionalism.”
    “And that means I accept that you’re dumping me more than a year after we last worked together, more than six months after I became engaged to the Potentate, and after you got married to…”
    “Agnes.” Rayford hated being put on the spot like that. It was just like Hattie to expect him to remember his wife’s name with no revision. She had always tried to sully Irene by asking about her when they had worked together, every time Rayford had very nearly not never touched her she’d say something about Irene- asking how she’d feel if she knew, asking whether there wasn’t a chance Irene and Rayford might not “sort things out”… banalities, awful banalities that made Rayford momentarily hate her for reminding him of their different intellectual levels. This was why he was glad that all these people were watching. Since he’d been saved he’d accepted that Jesus makes the rules, but it is only the eyes of others that makes you follow them. If they were to turn their gaze away for a second, they’d imagine that Rayford would break the seventh commandment with this woman, this disgusting, voluptuous, smiling, shining, radiant, obscene, lithe, lissom, awful woman. He hadn’t got the strength to resist the imagined sins of the masses. So he prodded at his food, and stopped looking at those eyes.

    He thanked the Lord he had the courage and the will to do what everyone else expected him to. This, he knew, marked Rayford out as a hero of the Lord’s resistance.

  • Daniel

    Bruce: All her life it’s been “cookie cookie cookie cookie cookie cookie”

    Buck: That’s a lot of cookie.

  • aunursa

    You had me at “Sitting behind his fully loaded potato skins.”

    Better enjoy those skins, Ray. ‘Cause you’ve only five years until potato skins will be loaded with … [all together now] … steaming piles of fresh produce, drenched in butter.

    EDIT: I finished it. Brilliant.

  • Lunch Meat

    That was horrifyingly perfect. You are way too good at this. I laughed out loud here: “He’d tried to give the child back when he saw a piece was missing, arguing with several doctors until they explained it was a girl.”

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

    Had me at “fully loaded potato skins,” had me guffawing at “she was a woman, which in a lot of ways was basically a tall girl.”

  • Lunch Meat

    I’ll do it! I’ll do it!

    …I’ve about given up hope of them casting me as Jaina Solo in the new Star Wars anyway…

  • Kubricks_Rube

    That was amazing. Many great lines, but if I had to pick a favorite: “He asked for a discount, which he didn’t receive, though his parking was validated, meaning he’d won.”

  • Jamoche

    Give her the bow of shame and toss her to the wolves!

  • Daniel

    Thank you kindly. I should point out, for any biblical literalists reading this, that the line

    “he saw a piece was missing…Rayford, ever the stoic, had decided to put a brave face on it”

    is not meant to be read as a literal account of Rayford’s actions.

  • FearlessSon

    It makes sense to me if you assume that the two of them are seated at a large round table suitable for six or eight people. You know, the kind that a restaurant sets out for large parties of guest so they can all sit together.

    The fact that only two people could book a table this big in the middle of a room at a popular restaurant is probably a means by which the author underscores how important and influential the people sitting there are.

    So not only are they insufferable pompous wastrels, but unappreciative ones at that.

  • Daniel

    I think Tinkins imagine most people sit in restaurants ON each other, as the world of the unsaved is a hotbed of lust and sodomy. Some “specialist” eateries put patrons back-to-back, others insist on spooning while you eat (mostly ice cream places).

  • Daniel

    Guy’s Romanian and evil- this is their preferred seating plan:

  • Daniel

    So the Holy Spirit is an aperitif?

  • FearlessSon

    Nope, it is from the genre-bending classic Deus Ex. Fun game, lots of references and influences. Think of it as kind of “conspiracy kitchen sink.” Warren Spector said he wanted to make a game that takes place in the world that conspiracy theorists think we live in. Unlike L&J, he knows that kind of world is fiction.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    This is SO perfect – especially Rayford’s constant fretting, like a thirteen-year-old, about the people he thinks are watching him and what he imagines they’re thinking.

    And “very nearly not never touched her” – lovely. Almost as delicious as those fully loaded potato skins.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    I know it’s been said before, but those “steaming piles of fresh produce” sum up Timkin’s lack of imagination. Heck, there’s so much excellent meatless food in the world (for instance, I just had a white pizza with broccoli and garlic for dinner), and they never, ever allow their characters to enjoy some of it. You call that heaven?

  • dunesen

    I think one of the driving forces behind Rayford’s actions is this idea that his pre-saved self is dead and gone, and therefore he has no ties to his life from that period. Only he does, in Hattie and his daughter and his coworkers and acquaintances and everyone else he knew but still keeps in touch with.

    I’ve never been a real part of any Christian community, so I have to ask: is this at all common? I know a lot of people, when they take on a new religion and feel reborn, just dive in and try to take on a completely new persona, often cutting many of the ties and friendships from their old life. But do people keep in touch with their old colleagues and expect the others to treat them as a completely different person they have no prior contact with?

    Rayford is acting as if he needs to only make a passing acknowledgment of his relationship with Hattie, thinking ‘That’s no longer who I am, so she has no business bringing our past up.’ Do other people do that? “Don’t mention that time I got s**tfaced and tagged the police car. That person is dead, that event never happened.”

  • Daniel

    No. People= Penis havers
    Women= no penis
    Penis= meat
    ergo men eat meat, exclusively. Women can have vegetables, but really they should try much, much harder to be like men.

  • Launcifer

    And since they’ll likely be eating according to the conventions of Service à la Russe, that makes everything one evil Commie plot. Or something.

  • Trixie_Belden

    Thanks Dogfacedboy, that was sad and quite wonderful.

  • Sue White

    … discovering how good stuff is done by watching people stuff it up royally.

    That must be the idea behind http://www.webpagesthatsuck.com.

  • Launcifer

    Did he use a crayon or a permanent marker?

  • Daniel

    John 3:16- When you absolutely, positively gotta convert every mother-kisser in the room… accept no substitutes.

  • Daniel

    Well a surgeon’s mask with a biroed face on it. I’m in danger of lowering the tone again.

  • FearlessSon

    “I never dumped you, Hattie, it was… look, I would by lying if I said I had not considered starting something with you then. But that was back then, and the world has changed in that time… and so have I. I realized back then that was not a path that I could walk down with you. I’m sorry feelings may have gotten hurt, sorry if I sent signals I was not ready to follow up on… but that was the choice I felt I had to make.”

  • Launcifer

    Ach, next you’ll be telling me he made his own machine that goes ping! out of used toilet rolls and sticky-backed plastic.

  • general_apathy

    You know what they call a chocolate chip cookie in France?

  • Daniel

    That was the laziest Blue Peter ever.

  • Daniel

    You know you can walk into a church in France and get a glass of wine? And I don’t mean in no paper cup- I’m talking about a full silver chalice of wine.

    And in Amsterdam? You can get married to a guy.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    Phhbbbbtt. And I say that with the deepest respect and admiration, and a bit of unavoidable sputtering.

  • Trixie_Belden

    Thanks for that post! It expresses some thoughts I’ve had turning over in my mind for a while. It started when I went to a Riff tracks showing of Manos, the Hands of Fate. Manos is undeniably a bad film and is perfect for riffing – I’m not trying to be contrarian – but when I saw it I was struck by the thought that it was actually more watchable than some of the paint-by-numbers films you’re talking about. There is a certain energy to the storytelling, even though it’s clumsily expressed.

  • otrame

    Too busy fapping away to the scenes of just how SAVED all the Christians are. Just like them.

    I’ve been reading these posts since about half way through the first book and I have to say that they still leave me with my jaw swinging in the breeze sometimes. I am happy Fred is continuing his public service of showing us just how to write really bad fiction. Seriously, I have read het fan fiction written by emotionally stunted 15 year old girls who spend most of the story talking about how cool the Mary Sue character is, that was much, MUCH better than this shit. These men have made millions doing this. The world is not fair.

  • Jen K
  • Launcifer

    Yeah, well, I couldn’t find the episode that left Buck with a couple of empty yoghurt pots glued to his ear after he tried to make his own telephone.

  • Daniel

    It was a teenage wedding

    and the old folks were in Hell,
    You could see that Buck had truly met the Mademoiselle,
    And now the GIRAT and the student have rung the chapel bell,
    C’est la vie said the Raptured

    They hopefully won’t go to hell.

  • Daniel

    And poor Chloe tied to the table where he’d tried to make a switchboard from liquorice laces and araldite.

  • otrame

    Tarantino is a frigging genius, but a seriously flawed genius. His “conversation” scenes are ….sorry, I don’t have words. Excuisite, maybe? Better than that. But over all, his movies tend to leave a lousy taste in the mouth.

  • general_apathy

    I was already snickering at the bit about Hattie’s baby, and then this:

    But he wondered- could the child be his? She’d sat on his lap,
    certainly, and he’d been so seized by the moment he hadn’t used
    precautions.

    made me burst out laughing. Brilliant.

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

    Oh, oh, oh, and what about GUY BLOD :P

  • esmerelda_ogg

    I can only offer a tiny sample size here, but in my experience, no. Definitely not common.

    Of course, it’s possible that RTCs do expect people to pretend their previous personas never existed, and that Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia. But from what I’ve seen, Christians don’t.

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

    “professional”? “Jenkins”?

    Perhaps by the most unrestrictive of definitions in that he got a book advance and gets royalties.

  • Alix

    I only knew one person who ever tried that, back in high school while I was still vaguely involved in church youth group. He got roundly called out for being an asshole, and when he ratcheted up the holier-than-thou behavior, the youth pastor took him and his parents aside for some serious discussions as to what was and wasn’t appropriate behavior for a born-again Christian.

    But a) my mom’s church is Baptist, but weird, and b) while we got a lot of RTC-ish stuff cycling though (Left Behind books on the library shelf, etc.) we were only on the fringes. Enough to be aware, not enough to be a part, really. (Not the whole church body, anyway. Like I said, it’s a weird church.)


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