Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Mother of All Yankee Candle Stores

Okay, I know I've grumbled about this before, but why can't the authors, scriptwriters, filmmakers, and anyone else who dabbles in post-apocalyptic fiction get it right? I think the last book I read that was reasonably accurate in its descriptions of Life After Armageddon (aka Life After the Grid Collapses) was Alas, Babylon, which was published in 1959. In that novel, things did fall apart fast once electricity vanished, right down to (if I recall correctly) the main characters noting that the pace of life changed dramatically without electric lights: they muse about the fact that now when the sun goes down, they go to bed. There was none of that sitting around the living room while burning the equivalent of a Party Lites dealer's entire stock of decorative candles.

What brings on this morning's grumblings, you ask? Last night the S.O. and I began watching The Walking Dead on Netflix. Yes, I know we're late to the party. The series is now into (or perhaps past) its third season. However, when it first premiered, we were still living in Atlanta, which is where the series was being filmed. I didn't need to watch a television show to know that Atlanta was a shit hole full of the walking dead. I worked with them. I was also stuck in traffic with them on a regular basis. You think that scene of the Interstate with the outbound lanes totally full of immobile cars is a bit of creative fiction? Ha. That's I-85, I-75, or I-20 leading out of town on any Friday afternoon.

But that wasn't what inspired this morning's mutterings. Nope, it was the three survivors, two adult men and a  little boy, sitting around the living room after sundown with the room lit up like a 19th century German Christmas tree. Not content to have candles burning on every conceivable surface, the set dressers also had 2, count 'em, 2 gas Coleman lanterns blazing away. Once again I ask, what did they do - find the Mother of All Yankee Candle stores to raid? Just how frigging bright do these filmmakers and tv series producers think people need to have a room in order to see to have a simple conversation? I know it is possible, through the magic of filters, specialized lighting, and various technical tricks, to film people in rooms lit with as little as one candle, so why don't these post-apocalyptic series ever do that? Instead they do set dressing that makes it look as though the characters can just stroll down to the mall (or call the Party Lite dealer) to restock anytime. And that b.s. with the two Coleman lanterns was just overkill. One Coleman lantern would be the equivalent of a good table or ceiling light. In lumens, a Coleman set on high is brighter than a 75-watt incandescent bulb, so there's no way a person would need two of them plus several dozen candles just to sit around the living room chatting about the how and when of the Zombie Apocalypse.

Which, of course, leads to a variation on my Mother of All Yankee Candles rant: just where the heck did they find 2 Coleman gas lanterns and the fuel for them? You can find candles in any neighborhood Family Dollar store, but Coleman lamps and the white gas they burn are a little more specialized.

I'm not even going to get into the idiocy of the cop deciding to take a horse from the farm instead of looking for either a fuel barrel (if you've got a farm, odds are you've got a fuel drum somewhere full of gas for the tractor) or something to use to make a siphon hose. Instead he takes the horse and heads into downtown Atlanta. The S.O. looked at the street scene and speculated that he was heading for IKEA, god knows why (maybe he thought he could pick up some Swedish meatballs for lunch). If he was a Georgia sheriff's deputy and came down I-85, he had to know he'd passed the exits for the Centers for Disease Control (site of the supposed refugee camp) six or seven miles back.

And, yes, we're going to keep watching. If nothing else, the ensuing episodes should fuel lots more rants about people who write post-apocalyptic fiction being buried so deep in the device paradigm of modern technology that they can't effectively imagine life without it. 


  1. Pretty expensive to run gas lamps these days.

  2. The gas lamps are also a lot less common than they were 20 or 30 years ago. That type of Coleman is too bulky for backpackers, and the people who use the old-fashioned, no utility hook-ups campgrounds are dwindling in number. If you're staying in a full-service parking lot -- I've never figured out why some people think parking an RV at a KOA or its equivalent is "camping" -- you don't need a gas lamp.

  3. Made it through season one and stopped part way through Season 2. Stupid choices made by boring people is just too frustrating to watch for long.


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