Left Behind post left behind

Left Behind post left behind November 22, 2011

Yeah, another week kind of got away from me there. I apologize for that. We’ll pick up again next week without further prolonging the misery of poor, doomed Bruce Barnes.

If you enjoy this song even half as much as I do, then perhaps this video will help to make up for my Trib Force Monday failings.

That’s “Vomit,” from the new Girls album Father, Son, Holy Ghost, which has a handful of pretty good songs and another handful of pretty great ones. I’m a sucker for the kind of Gospel-flavored crescendo we get at the end of this song — starting at around the 4:30 mark, if you’re impatient. (That’s Vearline Board and/or Tisha Fredrick doing the “Great Gig in the Sky” background vocals there, running away with the song the way Merry Clayton runs away with “Gimme Shelter.”)

Christopher Owens says the title of the song comes from Proverbs 26:11: “Like a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool who reverts to his folly.” Make of that what you will. Owens is an interesting fellow.

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  • Well, darn! I’ve been reading Dracula this week and wanted to share my observations of how Von Helsing, the Harkers, et al’s actions contrast with those of the Tribbies.

  • Ken

    Wait, Bruce Barnes is doomed?

    (Coleslaw: I was in a community theater production of Dracula the last two weeks, playing Jonathan Harker, and I assure you that at no time in my character analysis did I think “maybe Jonathan would ask the count for a job.”)

  • No rush Fred – you get to it when you get to it, and we’re glad to have it when you do b  Seriously, I’ve enjoyed your Left Behind posts so much I’ve talked to friends far removed from anything to do with these books solely because you do a great job deconstructing them. 

    Basically what I’m saying is good things come to those who wait.  Left Behind posts are good things so waiting I shall be.

  • Anonymous

    Hell: not getting your left behind post on the time you expect it.

    But don’t rush it Fred just see it as cooking a huge diner for friends who can accept the reason dinner is a bit later than usual.
    Just put your love, compassion, faith and your pure hatred of those douches who wrote those books in it and we can enjoy a joyful healthy dinner of left behind.

  • Cole: maybe you can jot them down in a Notepad document for later?

  • @ac4c6c09ea1d4bd1a7fc6948645847ff:disqus   Jonathan already HAD a job working for the Count… that was the whole reason he was in the castle in the first place.  Of course the play version may differ from the novel version.

    The Last Temptation of Chloe part 3 

  • MaryKaye

    Have you heard “New Low” from Middle Class Rut?  It was on my wake-up radio the other day and really startled me:

    I’ve been right
    I’ve been left
    I’ve been wrong
    I’ve been left behind
    I’ve been up but mostly down
      Mostly down….

    The lyrics are evocative and vague and can easily be made to be about Left Behind, and I really like the tune.

  • There are two versions of the play I have seen. The first one alters many of the characters and events of the book drastically, and leaves out the part about Jonathan having met the Count in Transylvania in the course of bringing him legal papers to sign:

    A later version was closer to the novel:


    The only movie version I have ever seen all the way through was the one with Frank Langella in 1979. I  have seen bits and pieces of the Bela Lugosi version on TV.

  • Ken

    Yes, that was our Act I Scene 1 – Jonathan meets the count, representing the law firm.  I should have said by the second scene there was no question of working for him. As Coleslaw noted, a marked difference from Buck and Rayford, who knew what Nicolae was before meeting him, but still went to the meeting and accepted the job offers.

    (The play was a new adaptation; the author/director didn’t like the existing versions. It stayed fairly close to the novel, although characters were cut.)

  • Joshua

     prolonging the misery of poor, doomed Bruce Barnes.

    Actually, I’m cool with that.

  • Rikalous

    Coleslaw, let’s hear them observations. If we don’t have something Left-Behindy to talk about, at least some of us are going to get the shakes.

  • Anonymous

    One day while bored at work I amused myself by matching up the Tribbles to their Dracula counterparts (yes, I know, I have too much time on my hands).  Here’s what I came up with:

    Dracula = Nicolae
    John Harker = Buck
    Mina Harker = Chloe
    Arthur = Rayford
    Lucy = Hattie
    Van Helsing = Tsion Ben Juddah
    John = Bruce?
    Quincy (the baby) = Kenny Bruce

    Be interested to see who agrees/disagrees with my pairings.

  • Well, once you put it that way, I realize my ideas are more scattered than I thought. Okay, first to get everyone who is not familiar with the book version up to speed (because the movies and plays have left out a few characters and rearranged others, such as by making Lucy Harker’s fiancee and Dr. Seward her father) here’s the quick plot outline. We start out by reading Jonathan Harker’s journal on his trip to Transylvania to get Count Dracula’s signature on some property transactions. While at the Count’s castle, he realizes he is being held prisoner and that his life is in danger. The action switches to England, with two young women friends, Lucy Westerha and Mina Murray first exchanging letters and then writing in their journals while Mina visits Lucy in her hometown of Whitby. Both young women are fatherless, although Lucy has a mother, who is very ill and not expected to live long. Mina is engaged to Jonathan, while Lucy is being courted by three young men: Dr. John Seward, an American, Quincy Morris, and Arthur Holmwood, later Lord Godalming. Lucy accepts Arthur’s proposals. Mina becomes concerned when weeks go by and she doesn’t hear from Harker.

    Dr. Seward runs a mental institution and is particularly concerned with one patient, Renfield. Lucy develops a mysterious illness, requiring several blood transfusions, and Dr. Seward calls his old mentor, Dr. Von Helsing to come help him figure out what is wrong. All of these characters (except Renfield) keep diaries or journals in one form or another. 

    Mina finally gets word of Harker, who is in a hospital being treated after he escaped from the castle. He gives her his journal to hold onto. He also marries Mina while in the hospital.

    It isn’t until after Lucy dies that Mina puts all of the journals together and von Helsing realizes that the count is a vampire, and that he is living in Carfax Abbey, next door to Dr. Seward’s establishment.

    At that point, the Harkers, Drs Seward and von Helsing, Quincy Morris, and Lord Godalming (Arthur) form a sort of committee to run Dracula to earth (literally) and destroy him forever. It is at that point that I began to notice the contrast with the Tribulation Force. The, oh let’s call them Dracula Task Force, or DTF, actually take action. They make plans and implement them, at great risk to not only their lives but their souls.

  • Interestingly enough, in many respects, the views of the DTF are highly congruent with those of the Tribbies. The characters make many references to the differences between men and women, although von Helsing does allow that Mina Harker has a brain as well-trained as a man’s. Mina is actually quite intelligent and her insights at certain points in the story are invaluable, but the menfolk decide they need to protect her from their hunt for Dracula at the Abbey, lest it leave too much of an impression on her delicate emotions. As a result, Mina is left home alone and gets attacked by the Count several times before the others realize what is going on. 

    There are also constant references to God and his providence, and to the day of judgement throughout the text, although the day of judgement is not seen in the sense of the end times but as something that comes to each of us after death.  

    The book also takes an unflattering view of women and sexuality. Mina and Lucy are both revered for their purity and sweetness, but after Lucy’s death, when the DTF (minus Mina)  realizes that she is the vampire attacking young children and goes to hunt her down, there is a scene where they confront the undead Lucy in the graveyard.

    The sweetness was turned to adamantine, heartless cruelty, and the purity to voluptuous wantonness. . . As she looked, her eyes blazed with unholy light, and the face became wreathed with a voluptuous smile . . . She still advanced, and with langorous, voluptuous grace, said, “Come to me, Arthur. Leave these others and come to me. My arms are hungry for you. Come, and we can rest together. Come, husband, come.”

    Yeah, because being a sexual person is totally like kidnapping little kids and drinking their blood. Later, when Von Helsing tries to protect Mina by touching the host to her forehead, it burns her and leaves a red scar. She immediately declares herself “unclean”.

    So I can see the Tribbies being quite comfortable with Stoker’s views on women, sex and judgement, just not with the whole taking big risks against a formidable foe thing.

  • Rikalous

    Stoker really didn’t like voluptuousness in women, did he?

  • Lori

    Apparently no one ever passed on to Stoker that invaluable piece of writing advice, kill your darlings. 

  • Joshua

    I think that Stoker probably did like voluptuousness in women, hence his perception of the power of the word when describing Lucy’s temptation of her (technically ex) fiance.

    Dracula is one of my favourite novels, but Stoker’s writing style is definitely very unpolished imho. I doubt that he knew to kill his darlings. Van Helsing gushes emotionally so much I’d like to slap him about the head with a fish, and the building of the DTF is kinda artificial.

    However, I love it for its wonderful creepiness and intriguing story. I’ve never thought of putting it alongside Left Behind, but now that you have, it’s horrifyingly appropriate.

  • For your viewing pleasure, an EoA write-up earlier than usual this week. :P

  • Stoker also refers to his character’s use of the technology of the day as frequently as Jenkins does Buck’s use of telephones. Mina and Jonathan keep their journals in shorthand, and she eventually types them out on her trusty typewriter. When they are in Eastern Europe at the end hunting down the count, she even makes a note in her journal about how glad she is to have the travel typewriter that one of the men was able to buy for her. Dr. Seward keeps his journal using phonographic recording equipment and wax cylinders, and makes a note when they are on the hunt about how much he misses being able to do so and how vexed he is having to write with a pen. (like me and my iPad, I guess.) Of course, in Dracula, these references to up-to-date technology serve a purpose. They remind the reader that these vampire hunters are modern, scientific, rational thinkers, not superstitious peasants. Maybe that’s the point of the telephone references in Left Behind? Did we ever figure out a reason for the telephone references in Left Behind

  • Well, the novels in Stoker’s time had to include a lot more description than now, mainly because the people reading them had no reference as to what a “phonograph” was.  Nowadays, we all know what a elephant looks like from TV, even if we’ve never seen one in person.

    As for the “voluptuousness”… meh.  It was just good old fashioned titillation, but properly disguised to avoid the wrath of the moral guardians.  Just like my grandmother watching the soaps and clucking her tongue about all the “shameful” behavior, but never missing an episode.

  • I really liked Stephen King’s advice on that… he said after you finish your first draft, you put it totally out of your head for 6 weeks.  Don’t touch it, don’t look at it, don’t even think about it.  Just chillax and do other stuff.

    That way when you come back it’s ‘… much easier to kill someone else’s darlings than your own.’

    It is too.  It’s so much simpler when the emotional investment has faded and you can clearly see “Yes that was a nice idea, but it breaks the flow of the book, so it has to go.”  (I kind of like taking sections like that and filing them away to use later… sometimes you can get a short story out of a scene that didn’t work in one project m)

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  • Lori

    As for the “voluptuousness”… meh.  It was just good old fashioned
    titillation, but properly disguised to avoid the wrath of the moral

    The problem isn’t the word itself, it’s that he uses it too many times.

    That’s a big part of “kill your darlings”—learn to see the words and expressions that you use to frequently and edit ruthlessly. It doesn’t take much to push a terrific word choice over the line to a tic.

  • Since I was slicing portions of four or five paragraphs together (hence the ellipses) it looks like he used the word more frequently than he did, but yes, it was a go-to adjective for female vampires.

  • “splicing” not “slicing”.

  • @LoriAnnK:disqus
     – Seriously… another trick I learned (again from King*) – a common thing to abuse are -ly adverbs.

    “He cautiously opened the door and peered inside the room.” – There’s nothing wrong with that sentence, but when you’re writing a novel there are two problems with it:

    1)  It’s less descriptive than it could be.  “Cautiously” relies entirely on the reader’s imagination of how this guy is moving.  That’s OK in places, but if the scene will later rely on some level of positioning, you’re going to need to describe that ahead of time or it’ll be wonky.

    2)  You’re going to have a boatload of words that end in -ly in your book if you write this way.  If you think of how many words are in a novel, and how easy it is to use an -ly word to describe a much more involved series of actions than it lets on – you can very quickly end up with a book that’s both flat and has a certain… grating… quality to it’s writing.  It’s not a universal thing – there are times and places for -ly words – especially if slowing things down in a particular segment is a problem…

    So instead of taking that easy route – if you force yourself to only use -ly words in situations where it’s absolutely essential, you can get imo better (and more) out of the same set of things.

    “He slipped up to the door at the far end of the hallway.  With great care he pressed himself against the rough timber wall.  Without sound he twisted the knob, pulled the door open only a crack – and then peered into the room beyond.”

    Err – the point of all that being that a good way to avoid dull and repetitive writing is to make sure that when there’s an easy way to describe something without really describing it… you don’t do that and instead make yourself take the longer route that requires more brainpower.

    … sorry… writing geekery >.>  uhm… nothing to see here! *ninja vanish*

    *The book, On Writing, is excellent, imo.  If I say more I’ll gush so I won’t >_>

  • Lori

    Since I was slicing portions of four or five paragraphs together (hence
    the ellipses) it looks like he used the word more frequently than he
    did, but yes, it was a go-to adjective for female vampires.

    Three times in 5 paragraphs is at least 1 too many.

  • Bad Horse

    I’ve been trying very hard but can’t find any way to get to the BEGINNING of this series of Left Behind posts.