Thursday, February 9, 2012

Part Seventeen, Chapter Six - Heller Procrastinates and Considers Buying Stocks

The first, lengthy paragraph of this chapter is dedicated to Heller's latest outfit, as Gris gets a "good" look at it from a mirror in Heller's peripheral vision.  The main thing is that the clothes, as always, make him look young, which is critically important.  Also, Heller is ruining the suit by wearing his baseball cap and metal cleats with it.

Our hero goes to the hotel safes to get some money, while our villain listens through the hero's ears to a speakerphone conversation coming from an office.  Gris really ought to ask for a refund on those bugs - sometimes they can hear conversations in the next room, and other times they can't make out a whisper from a few feet away.

Babe Corleone is chewing out Vantagio in a very mob boss-ish fashion for "standing in the way of this boy's career."  All this is because Vantagio told her that Heller didn't immediately register for Empire University the previous day because the "boy" overslept.  She orders him to get Heller's academic career in motion, and with that I've just summarized more than a page of this chapter in three sentences.

So Vantagio has a forced, friendly chat with Heller.  He asks if the girls are giving Heller any trouble, but Heller laughs that "it's fairly easy to handle women," especially if you threaten to kill them.  Heller has some questions for Vantagio, though - he has less money that he'd like and wants to get more, since he's "got to do something about the planet" and needs more funds to do so.  Heller asks about gambling and stocks, but a grumpy Vantagio explains that all the bookies and whatnot are crooked, and so are the brokers.

Instead, Vantagio pushes Heller towards getting that all-important diploma.  Heller's in no hurry, since he has a full week to register and wants more time to think about it, but Vantagio will not be denied and whips out a course catalogue, quickly deciding that Heller will go for a degree in Nuclear Engineering.  Then he gives Heller directions to the campus and tells him to get to the administration building pronto.

Heller tries to protest, but Vantagio hits him with "a mandatory, American Indian custom regarding saving a man's life."  Yes, the Italian explains that he is the Chewbacca to Heller's Han Solo, and as such is responsible for Heller's well-being.  Or something.  "You saved my life, so therefore you have to do absolutely everything I tell you!  And that's the way it is from here on out!"  A somewhat sheepish Heller is shown out the door, unaware that he can always change majors if he feels the need to.

Gris, meanwhile, thinks Vantagio is all mixed up, because he remembers a ancient Chinese custom in which a person who saves a man's life is forevermore responsible for him - which is why Apparatus agents in the country are under orders not to save lives, which is completely unnecessary since the Apparatus is too Evil! to do that anyway.

He also spots an opportunity with the mobster.  Suddenly, Vantagio is a itsy-bitsy, tiny little man, 5'2'' at the most.  And he's from Sicily, which is kinda close to Corsica.  And Napoleon was from Corsica.  Therefore, Vantagio has a Napoleon Complex and is threatened by Heller's height and success, something Gris can exploit!

It seems kinda redundant to decry psychology as a sham if Gris is incapable of using it correctly in the first place.  It's like accusing modern medicine of not working but having a character ignore the dosages and chug a whole bottle of pills at once.  It actually undermines your message, in fact, since readers will always wonder if someone competent in the "false" science would get better results out of it.

Random fact for this chapter: Vantagio's actual name might be, judging from the old course catalgoue he pulled out, Geovani Meretrici.  Now there's two Geovanis in this book.  Also, Vantagio might be a nickname that means "whiphand" in Italian, though since Hubbard's the one telling us this you may want to double-check.

Back to Chapter Five

1 comment:

  1. Hi Nathan, great job! I'm having a blast reading your blog. I'm italian, so let me shed some light on the obnoxious names used by Hubbard in this poor excuse for a book:
    - Geovani is an incorrect spelling of Giovanni, that is John.
    - Meretrici is a somehwat old-fashioned word meaning "harlots" (yes, it's plural)
    - Vantaggio (with a double G) means simply "advantage" or "gain" (nothing to do with whiphand, sorry)
    - Sesso means both "sex" and "gender" and it's a male noun.
    - Rimbombo means literally "boom" as a noun.
    - Narcotici is, well, "narcotics"
    - Fiaccola means "torch", or more exactly the kind of torch used by athletes to light the Olympian fire.
    there may have been other cases of italian words used here, but my brain just refuses to remember anything.