Friday, January 3, 2020

New Project: MCU Obsessed! The Parameters

Hello, is there anybody out there?

Well, okay, I don’t know how many or even if any of my readers remember this blog, but I decided to throw my hat back into the ring and get back to this. There’s no real deep reason behind it, except that I just felt like doing it again; I kind of missed having an excuse to do long-winded texts about pop culture.

I’ll probably pop over to Slacktivist and do some plugs, but that will be the extent of my shameless self-promotion. I figure, eh, I’m not getting paid for this, so there’s no real reason to go to too much trouble. I’m not sure how many people are even still into the blogging format—seems most have migrated to YouTube videos and podcasts—but blogs make it easier for me to supplement my personality with links from YouTube, so here I’ll stay.

Anyway, I decided to take on this project of chronicling and reviewing each film that makes up the collective known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe or MCU for short.It’s just an idea that has nagged at me for a while. I tried to resist, because I am a massive fangirl, and I wanted my posts to be of more substance and not just endless, “OMG! I love it so much!”

But the idea wouldn’t let me go and often, when it comes to writing, if an idea is hanging on you, there’s usually a reason for it. Whether it’s a good idea or a bad one, the only way to exorcise it, is to explore it. Maybe it’ll be trash, maybe it’ll be genius, or something in between, but it’s usually worth exploring that idea, even if it goes nowhere.

I, like many writers, have documents I call “my dead birds,” drafts for stories and novels that for whatever reason, failed to come together and fly, stalling out some pages in. However, I’ve never regretted the time I spent on my dead birds. With each project, I learned a little more about the craft and got even further, until now, I have two completed books and a partial third that’s driving me crazy. It’s meant to be the finishing book to my series, but endings are something I’ve always struggled with and the fact that the third installment of a trilogy is supposed to be the biggest, most solid ending of all, doesn’t help. Nor does the fact that the final installment is notoriously difficult, causing even good writers to fail to stick the landing. :deep breath: Still, I persevere.

But like I said, if I intended to take on this project, I want it to have value and substance beyond gushing praise. There probably will be plenty of gushing, but I will try to talk more about the nature of the craft, why it is good or bad. To better aid in this project, I thought I’d do a post listing the rules and parameters of the project as means of keeping me in check and given my few readers an idea what to expect.

First of all, we will go in the order of release date, starting with Iron Man and ending with [INSERT NAME OF WHATEVER RECENT RELEASE HERE]. We will confine ourselves solely to the films classified as part of the MCU and nothing else. I probably will bring up other Marvel adaptations outside the official MCU, but to the extent that I do, it’ll be to discuss how this film utilized this character or idea and how it compares to the MCU’s handling of it.

A bit of life advice: do not try to make sense of the chronology of the X-Men films. Therein lies the way to madness.

And while there will likely be some discussions of how this element paid off in a later film down the line, for the most part, we will treat each film as a stand-alone and talk about it as such. It’s a rule that will likely be repeatedly bent and broken, but I feel it’s important to try to treat the film as an individual unit. The film-goers at the time of the release may have had some theories about what might happen later, but they couldn’t know for certain what would happen, wouldn’t know that this would eventually be explained in this sequel. Therefore, we will bend our minds and try to approach it how the average movie-goer would have seen it, as much as we possibly can.

I will refer to the MCU wikia and other supplemental materials like tie-in comics or deleted scenes, but those will be used more as a means of further exploring the characters/world. I am a firm believer in the idea that good art should be able to stand on its own. If you have to read a bunch of tie-in materials to understand what the hell’s going on, then the project has failed. Supplemental materials should be like a spice—the dish is still good on its own, but the spice just adds a little extra, like a cherry atop your sundae. Supplemental materials should not be a rickety scaffolding that has been krazy-glued together in a desperate attempt to support a structure about as solid as wet cardboard. I will also discuss behind-the-scenes info to explore how various acting or directing choices shaped the final product.

For the ease of the project, I will leave the various TV/streaming services out of the discussion. I may touch on them a little, explore how they handled various ideas, but that will be the extent of it. Though for the record, I will give some brief reviews here below.

Agent Carter OMG! I LOVED IT SO MUCH! It totally should have gotten six seasons and a movie! I could go on and on, but long story short, Hayley Atwell's portrayal of Peggy Carter is one of the items on my "Stuff That Makes Me Question My Commitment to Heterosexuality" list.

Daredevil, Season One A solid, well-crafted product from beginning to end, easily salvaging a compelling character whose reputation had taken such a drubbing in its previous outing. Not a weak point anywhere, great performances from everyone in the cast, especially Vincent D’onofrio’s turn as Wilson Fisk, creating a great villain with an involving backstory and charisma out the yin yang, while still managing to be a terrifying villain, the kind of person who can go from discussing art with the woman he loves in one scene to making it so a Russian gangster’s neck is now enjoying a pleasant breeze in another, and having it all feel like the natural extension of his character.

That’s one praise I will give to all the Netflix series. Since they aren’t bound by the MPAA, the creators can go all out with the violence and horror, not hold back at all. Because while I hate to sound like Buckets of Blood guy from Shortpacked! but modern fight scenes are so neutered by MPAA regulations as to feel almost cartoonish. I’m not saying I want every film to drip with gore, but it feels ridiculous how the hero can mow down scores of mooks and the most ever seen, is maybe a spot of blood.

It was why Logan was such a great movie. The R-Rating meant the filmmakers didn’t have to hold back on the gore, so there’s actual meaningful bloodshed in the fight scenes, lending it a visceral feel lacking in so many other outings with this character. Yeah, it’s all choreographed since it’s, y’know, a movie, but the fights feel more real, like there are actual humans being wounded and thrown around. You cringe at the impact of the blows the characters receive. In doing so, it salvaged Wolverine, a character who had almost been rendered a cartoon by his previous outings, turning him into a sweating, striving, deeply compelling and very human character. It always felt kind of ridiculous, having a character whose most notable physical traits involve having massive knives fused to his hands, having there only be maybe a spot of blood in his fight scenes.

Once you’ve realized that PG-13 films have been proven to have even more scenes of violence than R-Rated films, it’s one more exhibit in a very long list of exhibits as to why the MPAA sucks and is terrible and sucks. For many many more, see the informative documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated.

Anyway...

Daredevil, Season Two The stuff with The Punisher is great and amazing. I had always been somewhat dismissive of the character. It's not that I don't believe that you can't tell compelling stories using Frank Castle, it's just that for me, he's a very limited character, the kind you can write a miniseries about, but there's not enough there to build a franchise on. The Punisher is Batman without the style and morality that makes Batman interesting. He's pretty one-note; he runs into a bad guy/obstacle, he blows it up and keeps going without any qualms of conscience whatsoever.

But in this adaptation, The Punisher is still a conscienceless monster, but he's also a very human, striving, hurting character. I think he works best more as a foil to other characters, than as the MC in his own right. Or in other words, he can be used as a dark mirror for other characters or as a means of studying a more straightforward heroic character in a new light.

The trouble is the vast majority of the series is taken up with all this BS regarding The Hand and Elektra, and while this is material that is rife with interesting ideas, somehow it all winds up being so punishingly dull you're like, "Will you stop with all the secret evil society of magic ninjas and get back to the courtroom drama?"

Daredevil, Season Three managed to regain much of the series's lost momentum, bringing back Vincent D'onofrio who remains fan-fucking-tastic, but at this point, the various Netflix series had experienced their Waterloo and were spiraling down the drain, and it shows.

Jessica Jones was good, nay, great, but it was so viscerally uncomfortable on such an unbelievably disturbing scale that I couldn't make it past a few episodes, because it made my skin crawl so much. I know it's supposed to do that--I know it is a detailed exploration of abuse and its psychological effects--but at the same time, I'm just like, "Nope, nope, nope, I can't even!" It is great art and I understand why it is great and it works, but I just couldn't handle it. Probably if I had watched more beyond a few episodes, I'd be forever unable to resist punching David Tennant if I ever saw him out in public. Since David Tennant is, from what I've heard, actually a lovely person, not an asshole, and he played my brother's favorite incarnation of The Doctor, he's probably not deserving of random face punches. Save those for Nazis and alt-Right trash.

Luke Cage, Season One, was like the first season of Daredevil, a generally solid product, even if Mariah is never as compelling as Cottonmouth. Misty Knight was fucking cool and I would have loved to have her doing her own thing in her own series.

As for season two, by now the Netflix series had hit their Waterloo and it shows. I lost interest a few episodes in, because it was just scene after scene of people talking with some shocking, hardcore violence scenes in the last few minutes. It also didn't help that, well, maybe the problem was with the TV I watched it on, but I had such a hard time hearing what anyone was saying. I kept having to crank it up and spent so much time shouting, "Oh, will you people stop whispering like teenagers in homeroom and talk at a normal volume?" Then one of those hardcore violent scenes would show up and blast me with sound, thus making me regret turning it up so I can hear the dialogue and understand what the hell was going on. Though I freely admit that my perception may also be inaccurate because I spent much of my teenage years, blasting music at top volume through my headphones for hours on end, so yeah, there's that to take into account.

Iron Fist And here we have the Waterloo I keep talking about. I only made it ten minutes into the second episode, because I just wanted so badly to punch this smirking dude right in his stupid fucking face. I thought maybe the series suffered from the equivalent of having to follow Susan Boyle on Karaoke Night, aka the old "tough act to follow" bit. No matter how talented you may be at singing, if you're following Susan Boyle and aren't fucking extraordinary, you're going to seem piddling in comparison. So I felt like I should give the series a chance.

But Good God, it just sucked so much. I completely understand all the hate. All the other Netflix series were delving into some pretty heavy material related to power, race, and abuse, and meanwhile, here we've got Danny the Poor Little Rich Boy. Still, it does fascinate me, how that one series managed to sink the entire Netflix series roll-out. Until Iron Fist, the Netflix series were freakin' unstoppable, delivering hit after hit, but one bad series sank the whole franchise.

I couldn't really get too far into The Punisher--just got bored in the first episode--and I never checked out The Defenders because I heard all the bad buzz and decided, "Y'know what, maybe this time I should listen," and I did. I regret nothing. My watchlist is superlong as is.

As for Agents of SHIELD, well my feelings have shifted. I dropped out after the first season, because good god, Skye was such a godawful Mary Sue. Skye was the sun around which all the series's characters and events orbited, Skye's judgment was rock-solid and unshakeable. It pissed me off, because I was promised an ensemble show, dammit, not the All Skye Spectacular! It's a pity because I've always loved Coulson, even before he put Loki through a wall, May was a badass, and Fitz and Simmons were freaking adorable. It may be one of the unifying factors of the MCU fandom: everyone ships Fitz and Simmons. Probably even Hydra ships Fitz and Simmons because even though they’re a quasi-fascist organization serving a malevolent alien intelligence, they're not stupid.

Since season two of AoS was premiering at the same time as another show I really liked, I was just kind of like, "Nah…" and dropped out. Then I saw some clips from season four where they introduce Ghost Rider and they were just so fucking metal that I was like, "I have to get into this series!" He's nowhere near as hammy as the Nicholas Cage version* but goddangit! it was so cool to see that character in all its true grandeur. Every time Ghost Rider was onscreen, I fought the urge to shout "FUCK YEAH!" and do the Ronnie James Dio Devil Horns Sign, because that's what you do in the face of something so damn metal.

I don't know who or what intervened in the subsequent seasons, but at some point, Skye not only got a name change and became Daisy Johnson, she also became much less of a Sue. She probably still ranks pretty high on Mary Sue Litmus Tests, but not as high, since the people on the show basically backed off and decided to let the other characters be awesome and do stuff. I've been watching the series since season four and it's been a pretty solid, decent product. I keep wondering if I should go back and view seasons two and three, but I can mostly follow along even with just my surface knowledge of the seasons and as said before, my watchlist is superlong as is.

Then again, I've come to really loathe the term "Mary Sue" and believe me, that is a rant we are going to get into at some point in this project, so brace yourselves.

I will strive to produce quality content for each and every one of you. For the record, there will be spoilers aplenty in all this. Since this franchise is ten years old, trying to avoid revealing spoilers feels pretty pointless, like trying to avoid revealing that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's father. If you haven't seen the films and you don't want spoilers, don't read the reviews/comments until you have, simple as that. If it bothers you so much, go find some far corner to whine in.

I don't know how often these posts will come out, but I will try to produce them on a regular basis, even if it might be closer to once every two weeks or once a month. Again, I want to do these posts justice, so I will not only rewatch the movies, but I will watch the director's commentaries, deleted scenes, and track down other behind-the-scenes info on them.

My posts will contain most of the things my brave readers have come to expect from me: repeated, longwinded diatribes over stuff I care about that's only tangentially connected to the main discussion, gratuitous profanity, links to YouTube and other content (because the beauty of the Internet is being able to supplement your arguments with random links to other stuff), stuff revealing my scarily obsessive nature, and, in all likelihood, dick jokes because dick jokes improve everything.

In the interest of disclosing any biases that may affect the project, I admit that I am a pretty hardcore Steve/Bucky shipper and have myself a nice little collection of fanfics and fanart related to it. I will try to be fair, and judge the films on their own merits, but again, wanted to disclose my inherent bias. Have to say even before Civil War forever cemented it for me, I could never really get behind Steve/Tony. It always felt kind of one-sided; never got the idea that Steve was anywhere near as obsessed with Tony as Tony was with him. And the obsession reeked mostly of daddy issues, something which is going to come up a lot in these films.

And no, I will not use pairing names, because even though Stucky and Stony aren't too bad, given what some other ship names are like. I am opposed to ship names. I will not bend on this issue. I will die on this hill, dammit! Is it so much work to type Character A/Character B even despite wordcount limits on summaries? I want to be able to read a summary, figure out who is getting paired up with who, without too much trouble. Too often some of these names have me going, "Okay is this a ship name, a typo, or did the person writing this have some kind of stroke?" If we had this stupid trend when Star Trek basically helped create modern fandom, we wouldn't even have the term "slash" to begin with. Even if, utilizing the ship name trend, Kirk/Spock would be rendered as Kock, which is both amusing and appropriate.

In keeping with my obsessive nature, I craft headcanons and fan theories like no one's business and will feel free to share them with everyone. The beauty of the Internet is I get to rant incoherently without anyone stopping me. Unless you click away, you all are my prisoners! :maniacal laughter: And as said before, I freely pick and chose from a wide variety of canons, weaving together bits and pieces as I see fit, to create my own personal canon regarding the characters. It seems like something comic book fans do either consciously or unconsciously as a result of the multiple canons. Outsiders may find the many canons in comic books daunting, but to me, the beauty of the genre is its multiplicity. You can hold onto what works, throw out what doesn't, and still be able to more or less follow along with the stories without too much trouble.

Though for beginning comic book readers, I recommend series based of animated series adaptations. The DCAU remains home to the greatest superhero adaptations ever and their spinoff comics are equally as amazing. Since the various series that made up the DCAU were, ostensibly meant for kids, despite the sheer tonnage of How Did They Get This Crap Passed the Radar? moments, the writers and artists were forced to work within the limitations in the interest of being kid-friendly and couldn't just coast by on over-the-top shocking violence or sex to grab the readers' attention. As a result, some of the most well-crafted stories are told in this little subgenre.

I know this somewhat goes against all my rants about how violence in films is so neutered to the point of being cartoonish, but my views are complicated and this is a longwinded discussion for another day. tl;dr version, there's a difference between being gory and violent for the sake of being these things and there's a difference in being gory and violent in service to the story and message you're trying to convey. Adding gratuitous sex and violence to a stupid story, doesn't make it deep. It's still a stupid story, just a lot more unpleasant to enjoy and lacking the wide-eyed WTFery of Silver Age comics, where there's something almost beautiful about the wild, crack-addled swing-for-the-fences insanity.

As always, I remain a big believer in discontinuity. The beauty of fiction is you can reject reality and substitute it with your own, without too many of the bad consequences that come with doing it in the real-world. If you liked this plot point, but not that one, hold onto what works, throw out what doesn't, and create your own canon, even if it exists solely as a shadow canon in the back of your head. Channel your inner Samuel L. Jackson and be all, "I recognize that canon has made its decision, but given that it is a stupid-ass decision, I've elected to ignore it!" and go from there. In fiction, the world is in your hands.

Anyway those are the parameters for the new project. If any of you have suggestions regarding it, feel free to share. As said before, I’m not sure how frequently the posting schedule will be, given that life’s complicated and the nature of the project, but I will try to be as regular as possible for the sake of my readers. Take care until then.

*Once again, I reiterate my theory that none of the people in that scene were acting. Because Cage really is that weird, and it’s very hard to fake that kind of genuine terror.

But I placed the asterisk for another reason: once again, I have crackpot idea to promote on the off-chance that someone reading this has any actual money or power.

We all know that both Nicolas Cage and Johnny Depp are hemorrhaging money, because they’ve decided to have EVERY expensive habit, not just one. It’s why Cage sleepwalks through so many obvious stupid movies and Depp will be Jack Sparrow until he dies.

Both of these men are known for their over-the-top acting and since both are in need of money, my proposal is a Freddy vs. Jason-style film that will serve as a showdown once and for all who is the bigger, better scenery-chewer.

Me, if I had to chose, I’d go with Cage, because he’s got that brand of old-school gonzo crazy seldom seen outside of questionably-run state asylums. When he decides to go all out and not just sleepwalk, he makes even absolutely terrible movies worth watching. For the record, regarding all those videos showing clips from Wicker Man, the clips are just as hilarious in context as they are out of it.

Whereas Depp just constantly prances around, poking you in the eye with his crazy, being all, “Look at me, I’m so delightfully quirky, isn’t it amazing and whimsical how quirky I am?” managing to make you hate an already terrible movie even more than you thought was possible. He’s all Manic Pixie Dream Girl with his crazy.

Plus Cage went broke buying comic book memorabilia, castles, and T. Rex skulls, and there’s no denying the inherent coolness of those things. Whereas Depp went broke by being a wife-beater who spends the salary equivalent of some nation’s gross domestic product in a month on wine, and leading a life of such Dionysian Excess that even Dionysus is saying, “Dude, you need to cut back." The last part may have been cool when he was an up and coming twentysomething getting his first taste of fame, but as a grown-ass fiftysomething adult with a couple of marriages under his belt and a couple of kids, it just seems kind of sad and pathetic. Though the first part, the one about the wife-beating, that is and always will remain completely uncool at any age.

Though if we can get John Woo in on this thing, that would just be great. He gave us Face/Off a movie of such coked-up stupid insanity that it manages to cross the line separating genius and madness to become genius. The whole movie centers around the concept of “What if we hired two of Hollywood’s biggest hams and put them in a movie where they are forced to act like each other?” In this case, we got Nicolas Cage and John Travolta trading faces. It is grand and glorious in its insanity and I love it for that. It’s what served as the seed for my proposed Cage vs. Depp movie. Because even if my proposed film is terrible, it will at least be bad in a way that’s interesting, unlike the majority of films the other two actors are involved in.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

This is the End, My Only Friend, The End!

Hey, guys! Sorry to be late with the post. I wish I could claim noble reasons, like I was busy receiving a congressional medal of honor or something, but really while some stuff was going on, it was mostly a combo of intangible mental stuff combined with general laziness.

I'm about to say something that well, I hope my readers with delicate heart conditions have their medication ready, because here's a shocking revelation: I like fan theories. Even if I don't agree with them (like I don't believe that Jerry Jenkins is a Poe, secretly lacing later books with subversive remarks about the PMD mythos), I still find them fascinating to hear about. It's interesting to watch people scramble to come up with elaborate rationales. Conspiracy theories are basically the same phenomenon as fan theories, but fan theories are better, because they involve entertainment and don't lead to actual people getting actually hurt, like PizzaGate* and the like.

In addition, I also enjoy creating fan theories. I am basically Homer Simpson: When I get bored, I make up my own movie. For the record, while I'd never suggest that anyone take life advice from Homer Simpson, trust me when I say that he was really onto something with mixing bacon and chocolate; it's a combo that just works on so many levels.

It is one of the things I like about comic books: the multiple continuities. People find that intimidating about comic books, but the beauty of the multiple continuities is, if you don't like one part, you can jettison the part you don't like and put in something from another continuity that you do like. Plus, it will in all likelihood, get retconned eventually, so you might as well hold onto the canon you do like. It's one of the reasons that while I thought Hydra Cap was a fucking stupid insensitive idea ("Y'know what sounds like a good idea? Let's take a character who was created by two Jewish guys to be one neverending Take That against Nazism from day one and have it turn out he was a member of a quasi-Nazi organization all along. That sounds like a good idea," said no one ever) at the same time, I didn't worry too much. No matter how much comic book companies may be like, "Oh we're totally not going to back down from this," they eventually will. Maybe it's because said idea is costing them sales or maybe they'll just create a new title, where that part of continuity doesn't apply. If the new title sells, while the other one doesn't, then the other one's continuity contributions will die an ignoble death.

Have to say, I was pleasantly surprised that they backed down from Hydra Cap so quickly. I thought they would limp along for a few more issues, before admitting defeat, but they retconned it in the next issue. As a service to my readers, who, like all creative and snarky people, probably struggle with self-doubt and deep-rooted self-esteem issues**, well, let's just say the guy who created Hydra Cap, tried to do a Take That against his critics. As you can probably tell, it was nowhere near as epic as the one done by the character's creators.

Every time you guys start to question your aptitude as a writer, be it of fiction, fanfiction, or dirty limericks on bathroom stalls (not judging any of y'all), click on the Hydra Cap Take That and take comfort that nothing you've ever created, however bad it may be, is nowhere near as cringe-inducing as that.

The long, belabored point is that the canon for the LB-verse is so bad, riddled with gaping plot-chasms, that making up a head canon becomes pretty much an act of survival. The beauty is that any canon you create for the LB-verse, no matter how nonsensical, it will actually make more sense than the actual canon, even if said fan theory is, "It's all the dream of some autistic kid shaking a snow globe."

As I've pointed out, even the "It was all a dream" theory makes more sense. Most of the time, unless properly utilized, the "It was all a dream" ending is such a cop-out because it means that nothing that occurred, actually mattered. Here, though, it would make complete absolute sense if this whole series was a dream created by Rayford, as he dozes off on a break. In his dream world, Rayford is the single greatest, most important human to have ever existed, unlike the real world, where he's a graying sky bus driver who can't get any respect, not even from his own kids. All the inconsistencies could easily be explained away by the surreal, incoherent nature of dreams.

Though I admit I am having some doubts as to "It's all a dream of Rayford's" fan theory based on a quote from the previous chapter.

“You know what I want?” Rayford said.

“Tell me, Dad,” Chloe said.

“I want a picture of the original Tribulation Force.”

Chloe rounded up Bruce and Cameron, and the three glorifieds posed behind Rayford’s chair.

The instantly produced photograph stunned even Rayford. It depicted three robust young people frozen in the prime of their lives and a long, bony man with drooping jowls, liquid eyes, and no hair, weighing barely over a hundred pounds, veins prominent on the backs of his hands, bundled in a sweater despite the desert heat.

Do you really think the fantasy of a guy with Rayford's ego, would have him not be the pinnacle of physical fitness/attractiveness?

So the canon I'm going to go with for this last chapter, is based on one suggested by Spiritplumber in the comments of the previous chapter:

“REHEMA, I need you to call my wife and assure her and the others that I am well. And, of course, I need to know the same is true of them.”

“And why would you think I would do that for you?”

“Because I would do the same for you. You are a mother. You have family. You may see yourself as an operative of the rebellion, but-”

“Bullshit. You wouldn't lift a finger for me. We looked into you, you know. A century ago you had every opportunity to stop Carpathia and didn't lift a finger to.”

“I tried to shoot him!”

“After years of flying him around. All you had to do was crash the plane. You had literally hundreds of opportunities. I love my son. More than you can imagine. Certainly more than you love the Ken doll that yours has become, or you would be single-handedly storming the Ultimate Temple to get back the childhood that was denied to him. You? You love only yourself. Here I am, ripe for conversion, and the only argument you can come up with is self-preservation. Have you ever considering doing what's RIGHT for once in your life?”

“You're mad! I AM doing what's right!”

“No, you're doing what your boss told you to. You're - what was the expression? Just following orders.”

“So are you!”

“No. Satan is, as you pointed out earlier, in no position to order anybody around. And that's just how I like it, me. We are doing this for the sake of humanity, and we are doing this because it's the right thing to do. Oh,and one more thing.”

“What?”

“Sandwich? Spiked. Enjoy your LSD trip. It should last long enough to prevent you from going to Siwa even if you figure out how to leave. I'll enjoy mine, but then again, I've got a clean conscience.”

Rehema took a swig from the water bottle, threw the rest of it roughly in Rayford's direction, and sat down against the wall waiting for the acid to hit.

Basically that's my headcanon. All the events of this chapter exist in the head of Rayford as he trips out in a prison cell, while the TOL with combined help from the League of Awesome take back the world.

Okay, done talking. I'll get to the actual book. Just try and convince me that the "This is all a dream by Rayford while he's tripping balls" theory doesn't make more sense.

THE EARTH teemed with billions of people, and the end of the Millennium was vastly different from the beginning. That was no surprise to Rayford, who kept up with the news, often sitting before the television with Chaim Rosenzweig. “We don’t have one trained soldier,” he said. “And we don’t need one. Not a hair on the head of a believer will be harmed by the biggest fighting force the world has ever seen.”

I have to question how exactly the earth is teeming with billions of people. We can talk about how nearly every event of the Tribulation would be an extinction-level one, but Ellanjay don't know/don't care, so we'll somehow assume that there was some population left behind after all this. Obviously those over the "You Must Be This Tall To Get A Free Pass" line who didn't say The Prayer, were pitched into Hell at the end of all this. So the vast majority of the population are, to use the books' words, Glorifieds or Naturals. Glorifieds, despite being kept perpetually at prime reproduction years, no longer have any desire for sex. Heck, they probably lack the ability. No matter how many oysters or blue pills they eat, they're still as impotent as a Nevada Boxing Commissioner. I suppose I should apologize for making you think about the genitals of LB-verse characters, but I won't.

But okay, it is revealed that Naturals like Kenny and Kat, who were safely under the "Free Pass" line at the time TurboJesus showed up, are still capable of physical desire and reproduction, with last week's chapter proving that Kenny and Kat produced a whole passel of K-slaves, who in turn, produced a their own. For the record, if any of my readers wants to take on the task of coming up with names for all the K-slaves, well, I would be like, "Seriously?! Don't you have anything better to do, like at all?" but I would still be willing to listen. I just assume that Kenny and Kat are basically the LB-verse equivalent of the Duggar family, except everyone's name begins with K; hence why I refer to the kids as the K-slaves.

Still even assuming a good population of Naturals, the rest of the chapter seems to imply that they are vastly outnumbered, meaning that the TOL, in addition to distributing a Manifesto dripping with Strawman Has a Point, they also devoted a good portion of their time to sex, lots and lots of raucous headboard-banging sex. They did what they could to produce enough children and raise them to be hardened eeeevil heathens, and said kids, in turn produced their own and on and on and so forth. Though the "Outbreed the unbelievers!" strategy sounds like something the RTCs would utilize more than the heathens.

Daily for the past three years, the news had abounded with stories of millions of adherents to the Other Light, growing bolder by the minute. Their printing presses and electronically transmitted messages blanketed the globe, recruiting new members, amassing a weapons stockpile and training a fighting force a thousand times bigger than had been aggregated for the Battle of Armageddon a millennium before.

Rayford was amazed that God allowed such a brazen, wanton act of defiance on the parts of so many as they symbolically thumbed their noses at Jesus and the earthly rulers He had chosen from the ages. Even in Israel, tanks rumbled through the streets, uniformed soldiers marched, and missiles and rockets were paraded before the faithful.

Because we all know that RTCs are appalled by violence and don't have a collective hard-on for the military***. It's why they are among the loudest of voices, protesting Putin's invasions and the way he runs roughshod over the rights and lives of his people. They are opposed to oppression regardless of whatever reasons are used to justify it, and they aren't obsessed with projecting an air of hypermasculinity.

Though, spiritplumber, you have earned the right to strut to whatever music you like, because your headcanon of the TOL being the Kids Next Door is totally canon.

Television broadcasts from around the world showed the same and worse— what seemed like entire people groups dressed in the all-black uniform of the fighting forces of the Other Light. Of course they were all younger than one hundred and thus relegated to the status of children— rebellious, articulate, passionate, defiant, furious children. But they were also brilliant and had written songs and poems and speeches anticipating the day their leader, the Other Light personified, would be— in their words—” foolishly released” by his captor.

"They use their innate capacity for language to express their views in hopes of better being understood and showing support to those who believe as they do. They really are monsters!"

And like I said, the TOL is totally the Kids Next Door.

That became obvious soon enough when the countless followers of the Other Light announced that their centuries- long project to manufacture weaponry unlike anything that had ever been seen on earth had resulted in all that could be seen, blotting out much of the landscape of Israel and surrounding the City of David.

For a thousand years there had been no wars or rumors of wars, no nation rising against nation; now TOL had emerged with a highly organized, trained, precision-tuned army of hundreds of millions. It finally became obvious that God had released Satan, according to the Scriptures, when the warriors from all over the world, “whose number is as the sand of the sea,” were finally in place, gathered for battle.

If anyone wants to do some fanart of this, I am totally on board. Me, I can't draw decent stick figures. Remember, no matter how bad your stuff may be, it won't be as bad as the actual canon, so go nuts. Create fanfiction, fanart, and even dirty limericks about the LB-verse.

Of course, Ellanjay do what they can to milk the suspense, pretending like this all matters, despite being as choreographed as a WWE match. Though that feels unfair to the WWE. While it is all choreographed, the athleticism demonstrated by the wrestlers is very real. They did have to go through quite a bit of training to be able to do all that without getting hurt. Like clowns in a circus, it takes a lot of training to look gracefully ungraceful and do all those falls without actually breaking something. And the WWE, no matter how bad it may be, it still has better writing than anything in the LB-verse.

“And now,” he shouted, somehow able to be heard for miles, “I come to claim what has been rightfully mine since the dawn of time: the very throne of God!”

Yeah, tell me that line doesn't sound like the setup to a WWE match. I don't really follow WWE that closely, but if any of my readers do, feel free to figure out which wrestlers would play Satan and TurboJesus.

Satan is all, "Charge!" TurboJesus goes "I AM WHO I AM!" and zaps the TOL into Hell. He pauses to gloat over Satan for a bit, before punting him in as well.

A seam in the cosmos opened before Satan. Flames and black smoke poured from where the Beast and the False Prophet writhed on their knees screaming, “Jesus is Lord!”

Satan cried out, “Jesus is Lord! Jesus is Lord!”

Jesus closed His fingers and Satan was thrown into the abyss, the seam sealing to muffle the screams of the three who would be tormented day and night forever and ever in the lake of fire and brimstone.

Congratulations, Ellanjay, you have successfully created a final battle even more disappointing than the one in Breaking Dawn and that takes some doing.

For those of you too lazy to click on the link, yet not too lazy to read on through, the final confrontation is between the Cullens and the Volturi. The Volturi are like this super vampire council and are all mad because they think the Cullens have created a vampire child (i.e. turned a kid into a vampire). The kid is actually a human-vampire hybrid, but let's not get into that.

Anyway, we get all this buildup to the confrontation, the Cullens preparing and recruiting other vampires to fight with them, yet when the big confrontation comes, here's how it goes:

Volturi: You created a vampire child! That's against the rules!

The Cullens: But she's not a vampire child!

Volturi: Oh, then we've got no beef with you.

After which, they leave.

But again, even that is still better than KC and when you manage to be worse than a Twilight novel, you need to hang your head in shame.

[TANGENT] Though I can't judge Twilight fans too harshly. I was outside the target demographic when that series came out, but I freely admit that if I had been part of said demographic, aka between the ages of 10-15, I would have eaten that shit up with a spoon. Obsessive love sounds romantic, not scary as hell at that age. Part of growing up is acknowledging that you had crap taste as a kid. [/TANGENT]

After all this, it's mostly a bunch of biblical copy-and-paste which I will ignore. Quoting the Bible doesn't automatically make your shitty writing deep, people!

But I will quote this part:

Arrayed before Jesus were three great books: the Book of Life, containing the name of every person who had ever lived; the Book of Works, containing every righteous or evil deed they ever committed; and the Lamb’s Book of Life, containing only those who had trusted in Christ for their salvation. Rayford’s glorified mind allowed him to understand that he was, of course, listed in the Book of Life, but he had been forgiven for any misdeed associated with his name in the Book of Works. And that he and everyone with him in the beautiful city of God were listed in the Lamb’s Book of Life, while all the desolate souls hovering about the throne were not.

Uh, who exactly are the desolate souls in this scenario? Because the TOL were all zapped into Hell, while the RTCs got into Heaven. So who would be the desolate souls hanging around? I thought maybe they could be people who were bad and didn't say The Prayer, but not too bad. The kind of people who Kick the Dog, but stop short of the crossing the Moral Event Horizon. But that would go against what Ellanjay have already established that they believe that all crimes, regardless of devoting yourself to charity work but not saying The Prayer or being Genghis Khan, to be equivalent. Heck, you can basically be Genghis Khan, yet be completely off the hook, so long as you said The Prayer.

Anyway, everyone goes inside and Ellanjay copy-and-paste their description from Revelation. If you want to save yourselves some money, read the last few chapters of Revelation and save yourself some money.

And that's it. Like I said, I don't know really know what I plan to do next. I want to rest on my laurels for a bit, but I am more than willing to hear some suggestions.

*I am so sick of the trend of adding -Gate to the end of every scandal. It's just so played out. In any case, the original Watergate was referring to an actual place, the Watergate Hotel, the trend makes even less sense. One of these days we will have a scandal about an actual gate and if we keep up with this trend, we'll be forced to discuss something called GateGate. If we must borrow from twentieth century political scandals, why not use -Dome in reference to the Teapot Dome scandal? Adding -Dome to the end of anything automatically makes it sound more badass, like we're in a "Two men enter, one man leaves!" kind of scenario. Henceforth I decree that all scandals have -Dome at the end, rather than -Gate, with the exception of GamerGate which will be called Pathetic Shitstorm because that's what it was.

**It seems to be a requirement for the job, unfortunately. Being creative and being sane seldom go together. It's even worse if you're funny. Nearly every comedian worth a damn has issues out the yinyang.

***As always said hard-on applies to drooling over fancy toys that cost a shitton of taxpayer money and don't really do much in a war where the enemy fights primarily via asymmetric warfare or guerilla warfare. Also, said hard-on means that while they support the troops in the abstract, they most definitely don't intend to do something silly like fund VA hospitals and other services to take care of wounded vets when they come home.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

By Your Powers Combined, Rayford is Captain Bullshit!

Hello and happy Sunday! We're in the penultimate chapter of this book. Maybe we'll get lucky and I'll throw on the next chapter, but it seems unlikely. In all likelihood, I will be done with Kingdom Come next week. As to what happens next, well first, like I said, I want to do some laurel-resting. As for afterwards, I have no idea. I am open to suggestions.

As for the post title, I couldn't think of anything, so I went with 90s cheese because I have a weakness for it. :shakes head: That show...how many other shows would have the protagonists literally meet Hitler?

I have said many times that Rayford and Buck are the most powerful forces in the LB-verse, at the tippity-top of the hierarchy that governs this world. Because Ellanjay can't possibly envision a world without a hierarchy and since they assume they'll be at the top of it, so must their Mary Sues. I've also said that the only reason there isn't a scene where Zod or TurboJesus sobs and talks about how they wish they could be as manly as Rayford and Buck, is because Ellanjay were too chicken to write it.

As you can probably guess, I stand by all those remarks and will do so until the end of time. In fact, I might find a way to do so beyond time, because Rayford is the Worst. It's a bad sign when a fan theory--about this whole series existing as a dream Rayford's having on his lunch break--makes so much more sense than what is actually there. Worst of all, said fan theory is the "It was all a dream" fan theory, aka a trope that's more often than not, one of the biggest cop-outs ever.

“REHEMA, I need you to call my wife and assure her and the others that I am well. And, of course, I need to know the same is true of them.”

“And why would you think I would do that for you?”

“Because I would do the same for you. You are a mother. You have family. You may see yourself as an operative of the rebellion, but I know better. I can see in your eyes that you know the truth. I have told you everything I know about God and Christ and faith and prophecy, about the world as it once was and now is, and about my family. You know God is real, and you know He will somehow get me out of here in time to get back to my people and my assignment.”

If I was lazy, I would just make my entire response to this chapter just be Linkara's hate laugh.

We all know how much concern Rayford has demonstrated when it comes to the needs and feelings of others. Though to be fair, zero is a percent, as The Simpsons have pointed out.

Okay, how much does anyone want to be that if called upon, Rayford would not be able to say anything about his family, like what is their favorite color or what is their favorite hobby (besides praising TurboJesus and being obsessed with sex)? Heck, I'm willing to bet that Rayford probably wouldn't even recognize his own family. It's not that he suffers from Prosopagnosia because face-blind people are capable of demonstrating genuine concern for the lives/needs of others. It's more like he suffers from Rayfordagnosia, where he's completely incapable of seeing anyone who isn't him or, in the very least, doesn't have anything he needs at that given moment. You can come up with a better name for Rayford's, ahem, unique condition. I just assume that in this conversation with Rehema, all Rayford can perceive, are a bunch of shapes and sounds in a vaguely woman-like silhouette. We all know that if asked to say anything about Rehema, he'd just say, "She's female, brown-skinned...I think she's a carbon-based lifeform that can't survive without oxygen."

I suppose I could make a crack about how Zod ignores starving kids in Africa, so Rayford won't know a moment of discomfort, but to be fair, this is the MK, so there's no poverty, war, disease, and famine. But I will point out that Token Jew, Chaim, Saintly Irene, Mac, Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Barnes, are all going to this talk, so is there a reason why it will be a total wash without Rayford there?


I know--Rayford is one of the most powerful beings in the LB-verse--but because I'm that person, I'll assume they need him to form the head. Also, because I'm that kind of person, I'll post a gratuitous Power Rangers clip mostly because I was way more into Power Rangers than Voltron as a kid. I'll let you all make the call as to which part of the Megazord Rayford is. Though at least, both shows are at least bad in a way that's entertaining. Though that Power Rangers theme song is like the ultimate earworm in that you only need to hear one part of it once to have it lodged in your brain until you die.

Rehema calls Saintly Irene and they talk for a bit.

Irene Steele was, of course, puzzled by and suspicious of the call from the young woman who identified herself as Rayford’s guard. “He’s wondering where we’re hiding?” Irene said slowly, carefully considering whether she should reveal anything.

She decided she could do Rayford no harm. “Tell him that he will find us where he left us. We will wait in plain sight.”

“You are crafty people, Mrs. Steele,” Rehema said.

“If you wish to think so. But it strikes me that God has blinded your compatriots, as we have not moved since my husband left us. And would you remind him that we must be on the road to Siwa by no later than one in the morning if we wish to fulfill our obligations there?”

Okay in a sense Saintly Irene is right in that telling Rehema all this wouldn't do Rayford any harm since IT'S THE MK AND HE'S SAID THE GODDANGED PRAYER SO THERE'S NOTHING BAD THAT CAN HAPPEN TO HIM!

Though at the same time, given how badly Saintly Irene just failed a basic level of OPSEC, it makes me wonder if the RTCs could be brought down via politeness. Look all clean-shaven, be all nice, and polite, and be like, "Would you please tell me in exhausting detail all the plans you have in place?" then sit back and collect the information. Or you can be like, "Hi, I'm a wallet inspector. I'm going to need your wallet and your pin." Offer, of course, is void to anyone who can't pass a paper bag test. No matter how good you look in a suit and tie, how polite you are, you will still be seen as a dangerous threat. They've probably called security on you already.

Though a more sensible reason as to why they haven't moved, would be that because they're in an RV and those, under the best of circumstances, have the same steering/fuel efficiency as the Lincoln memorial. So they would be an incredibly dumb vehicle of choice to go through the desert in.

Then there's this bit, which is just really, really sad.

Irene chuckled. “He has convinced you of the error of your ways, has he?”

“Very nearly.”

“We will welcome you warmly into the family of God, dear.”

“What?” Irene could tell Rehema was overcome. “Did you not hear me?”

“I heard you, Mrs. Steele. It’s . .  . it’s . .  . it’s just that no one has ever said that to me before.”

Seriously, is there anything sadder than the just quoted passage? Only drowning puppies and there'd have to be a lot of them.

Though for my readers who believe that Jerry Jenkins is a Poe, I'm sure you're leaping all over this quote, because it seems to imply that RTCs are a bunch of intolerant stone-cold hypocrites, unwilling to associate or show basic courtesy to anyone outside their subculture.

Back to Rayford and Rehema. Rehema is all "Rayford Steele TurboJesus is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life." and "Okay, if I get you out of here, can we stop to pick up my son?"

But Rayford is all "I could not allow you to release me and go get your son while other believers remain here."

Meta-Rehema is like, "Okay, so how about I go get my own son, seeing as he's, y'know, my kid, then I come back here, release you and all the other RTCs." At least that's what my version of her says.

Of course, given that these people are all RTCs and none of them can die and TurboJesus will eventually punt all his enemies into Hell, anyway, THERE'S REALLY NO GODDANGED REASON WHY A PRISON BREAK HAS TO TAKE PLACE! NO ONE IS IN ANY ACTUAL DANGER!

Though we do have to admire the courage and steadfast will of Rayford Steele.

“What kind of a zealot would I be to escape and leave others to whatever fate awaits? If we do this, we take everyone.”

And the fate that awaits them, is mild discomfort until TurboJesus shows up and kills everyone! Because so far, all they've done to Rayford is take away his shirt and shoes, made him miss a few meals (though that was quickly null and void, because Rehema gave him her sandwich), and forcing him to sleep in less than ideal conditions. Pretty much every torture victim in the history of the world, is laughing and laughing bitterly.

Given that this is what an RTC considers to be torture, well, should the US end up in some kind of dystopian hellscape (a very real possibility these days, given whose in charge right now), how quickly do you think they would fold in the wake of actual oppression?

Of course, the sad truth is that the Christian Right and pretty much everyone on the Right, sold their souls for money and power decades ago and don't care. Whatever horrible stuff that comes to pass, won't affect them or anyone they care about, so why should they care? As I tell people, if Donald Trump screws up, he'll be able to GTFO without any trouble. Money buys a lot of things, including escape hatches. He'll GTFO to some other country and start over, while everyone else is left behind to clean up the mess he's made; it's what he's spent his entire career doing.

Stuff like that makes me wonder if we should encourage the Right to Go Galt. Maybe once all the self-centered, arrogant, rich a-holes are gone, we can actually get to work and have a government that does something besides Fellate the Rich and Kill Brown People. Plus, we all know this would be likely outcome if they Go Galt.

:sighs: Like I tell people, it's not the conservatives kneejerk opposition to change that irritates me; it's how inconsistent they are with said opposition. Since the Founding Fathers were saints among men, if they're really so opposed to change, they should live like them. Travel via horse and buggy and when they get sick, have their humors balanced. It'd work for the some of the same reasons as the Go Galt scheme. While the Right is busy dying of easily preventable illnesses while in their forties, everyone else could get stuff done.

Or we could, like I've suggested before, give RTCs one-way tickets to Saudi Arabia or North Korea or China. If they manage to escape, maybe once they've experienced actual persecution for their faith, they won't throw hissies over being told "Happy Holidays." And since they had been refugees, maybe they would be more sensitive to their plight. And if they don't get out, they'll be trapped in third-world hellholes with atrocious human rights records, so, again, Liberals can take advantage of their absence to get stuff done.

Ishmael and co. finally get all pissy about how nice Rehema is being to the prisoner.

Stripped of her weapons and ammunition belt as well as her boots, Rehema was shoved into Rayford’s cell and shackled both to him and to a steel ring embedded in the wall. She was shuddering, but he drew her close and whispered, “The better for us to be able to pray.”

And with the withdrawal of TOL troops, they did pray, and Rehema became a child of God.

“My son is in a TOL day care center six miles from here,” she said.

“God knows,” Rayford said.

Yes, I did have all kinds of pervy remarks regarding this situation. Though it does feel kind of wrong to make them. Rehema is 90, which is underage by the MK standards. Though she also has a four-year-old son, so...you know what, I'm just going to bail out. There are more productive things I could do with my time, than try to figure out what Rehema would (physically) resemble at age 90. Like Heroin. I've always been meaning to take up a Heroin addiction. I should do that instead. It's probably psychologically healthier.

It's ten. Rehema is getting all upset and female, instead of being all resolute and male like Rayford.

The old man and the young girl turned carefully and sat next to each other, backs against the wall, manacled arms raised. “This is the best part of being on the right side,” Rayford said. “Waiting and watching to see what God will do when there seems no possible solution.”

And that sound you hear is pretty much every Christian martyr pointing and laughing. Again, how quickly would the RTCs fold when faced with actual suffering for their faith? You guys can bloviate all you like, but you're not the heirs to Dietrich Bonhoeffer. You guys aren't even worthy to clean the skidmarks off of Bonhoeffer's underwear.

Anyway, for those of you wondering when the deus ex machina will show up, Anis the Angel shows up, busts everyone out without any difficulty, even giving them cars, so they don't have to use those wiggly things located on either side of their sin zone to get around. It wouldn't even be that rough on them, going on foot, because they have super special awesome super speed.

Anyway, Rehema picks up her son and the RTCs are a big hit at Siwa.

Then we get a time jump. But first, a listing of the people who have died.

Qasim Marid was, of course, fired from the Children of the Tribulation ministry, and he died at one hundred.

He was replaced by Abdullah Ababneh’s friend Sarsour, who endeared himself to the staff and Cameron Williams’s extended family over the next nine centuries.

Ignace and Lothair also died at one hundred— as did Mudawar— and became the Other Light martyrs, still revered by billions of adherents more than nine hundred years later.

It's probably safe to assume that Sarsour managed to endear himself to the COT daycare and Cameron WIlliams's family, by being aware of his place and displaying a suitable amount of submission. Because Qasim really is the worst, going out with a girl Kenny Williams was interested in, even though Kenny never gave any sign that he was, and Kat did accept his invitation. How dare he react in an immature manner after being dumped for no real reason? Qasim should have done a better job of kissing up to the bullies and born their emotional abuse with pride, dammit!

As you probably guessed, when it comes to my headcanon, as far as I'm concerned, Qasim, Ignace, Lothair all faked their own deaths and they're hanging out with Cendrillion.

Kenny and Ekaterina Williams’s wedding was performed by Bruce Barnes, and the couple produced eight sons, six daughters, and more than eighty grandchildren over the next two hundred years.

Why am I not the least bit surprised that Kenny and Kat basically became the Duggars? Personal Headcanon: Just as the Duggars pretty much strip-mine the alphabet for J-names, Kenny and Kat do the same with K-names. I'll let my readers list the names of the K-slaves. Just call me paranoid or whatever, but I have a general mistrust of families where every member has the same initials. Maybe there are some families out there where everyone's name begins with, let's just say, the letter A, and they're normal, but experience has taught me that the kind of people who insist the kids all having names beginning with the same letter, see their kids less as freethinking individuals who will eventually move out and form an identity apart from them, and more as boxsets.

Though if Kenny and Kat manage to avoid naming a kid, Jinger, they're still better than the Duggars, much as I hate to admit it. Seriously, you couldn't name her Julie or Jeannette or something? Though Kenny and Kat are better than the Duggars primarily because they're fictional, so no real people are being harmed by all this, whereas the Duggars...I'm not going to say anymore. It's just too sad. Here's to hoping someone manages to bust out of the compound and write one helluva tell-all memoir.

Everyone is all old now. For those of you wanting some specs regarding aging in the MK, here's a bit for you.

By the end, the ministry was maintained by the glorifieds, as the naturals finally saw the ravages of time catch up with their bodies. When the naturals reached ages higher than about seven hundred, they began to slow and notice the diminution of their senses, particularly hearing and sight.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: you guys ever heard of Tithonus? Then this will all be new to you.

Though Wikipedia's quote about what happened with Tithonus does seem to accurately reflect what happens to the RTCs.

but when loathsome old age pressed full upon him, and he could not move nor lift his limbs, this seemed to her in her heart the best counsel: she laid him in a room and put to the shining doors. There he babbles endlessly, and no more has strength at all, such as once he had in his supple limbs.

Though even before old age sat in, the RTCs lied around and babbled endlessly, so maybe this isn't entirely accurate.

Anyway, all the characters from other books who have died, show up and the Original Tribbles have a group photo, but I'm bored to tears.

Sorry, but we're not going to get the next chapter until next week. Kind of figured that was how it was going to go. So have fun until then.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Man from R.T.C.

Happy Sunday, everybody! Though also Happy Mothers' Day! Hope y'all did something nice for your Mom, because she's probably put up with a lot from you. Though I apologize if some of you have shaky relationships with your moms. I thought about posting the infamous wire hangers scene from Mommie Dearest for those of you whose Moms were terrible, but I worried about whether that would seem insensitive. But ah well, happy mothers' day to good moms, boo to bad ones, and don't forget to celebrate same-sex couples because they deserve some love too.

Last week, we finally made it through Chapter 30. Hopefully Chapter 31 won't take as long. :crosses fingers:

Rayford is still being held in the KK...well, I thought about calling it the Keystone Kidnappers Kompound, but that felt more than just a wee bit wrong. So we'll shuffle away from that joke.

As you can probably guess, Rayford is working with Rehema to chalk up another Saved on his fuselage. And for some reason, she's just going along with this instead of punching him in the throat or tasering him in the dick, either of which I would do. If I couldn't do either or both of those things, well, you know The Simpsons episode with the parody of The Amityville Horror? I would totally be like that house, destroy myself rather than have to spend another minute in the presence of Rayford Steele.

But he may have more of a hope of converting Rehema than any of the other KK, because while she is dark and swarthy, she's not as dark and swarthy as her compadres.

She was fairer-complexioned than most in the compound, despite her dark brown eyes and hair so black it could have been dyed but clearly wasn’t.

I would love to see how Ellanjay would defend this as, y'know, not being racist, but I should really stop indulging that masochistic tendency I have. It never ends well and I should accept that. Plus, given that Tim LaHaye is dead, if he were to show up again, I think we'd have bigger problems to worry about and my question would probably seem kind of piddling and insignificant.

Out of curiosity, in the event of a Zombie Uprising, what would you all use as your weapons? Obviously, the smartest thing to do, would be to hunker down and let the National Guard take care of this via tanks and machine guns. Be nice if that bloated military budget was finally put to good use. But okay, suppose for some reason, hunkering down isn't an option. What are your weapons?

For close quarters, I'll go with a baseball bat with nails hammered into it. As cool-looking as katanas are, they require specialized training to use properly and at the End of the World, I'm a firm believer in Keep It Simple, Stupid. As for ranged weapons, obviously, guns are the best, but they need reloading (which can only be done with bullets) and they make a helluva lot of noise. So while I'm okay with having them around in the Zombie Apocalypse, I do feel that we should have some quieter ranged weapons. I'm leaning towards a crossbow, myself. You don't get the range and force of a bow and arrow, but crossbows require little, if any, training to shoot and use. Plus, they do look cool. I may be about Keeping It Simple, but even I'm willing to acknowledge the Rule of Cool, just so long as it isn't ridiculously impractical.

Anyway, regarding Rehema, well, I'm trying to envision some kind of Character Morality Spectrum and where each character would fall. I thought about trying to draw one as part of the post, but couldn't figure out how. Sorry, guys. Y'all will either have to make one yourselves or use your imaginations.

Anyway, it would be a spectrum with the left side of it (natch) representing the evil of the LB-verse; the closer you get to the right, the less evil a character is. Of course, Nicky/Satan are at the very end of the evil spectrum, because they're supposed to be the greatest evil in the LB-verse. We can and will quibble about it, but let's just go with Ellanjay's interpretation for now. Characters placed in the middle at 0 are basically NPCs: they appear in one or two scenes, maybe even say a line, but overall, hang in the background. Though furthest right, I'm wondering if I should place Zod or TurboJesus or since St. Rayford and Cam-Cam are the greatest forces within the universe, does that mean even on a morality spectrum they outrank Zod and TurboJesus.

My long, rambling point is, based on this spectrum idea, I keep trying to figure out where Rehema would fall. She is female, which makes her somewhat suspect in the LB-verse. But women in the LB-verse tend to be more Ineffectual Irritating Evil, rather than of the pure, cold-hearted variety. She is brown which further pushes her towards the Evil end of the spectrum, but that mention of her being lighter-skinned than her compatriots makes me wonder how an LB character determines the Brown factor. Do they keep paint samples with them and compare them against a character's skin? Though a slightly lower melanin count does put Rehema closer to the right.

I suppose I could quibble some more with my calculations, but I don't think I will. Like I've said before, math scares the crap out of me. Though if everyone is considered a child until they reach the age of 100 in the LB-verse and Rehema is 90, I find myself wondering what she would look like. I imagine it as being like Tolkien's elves where they age very slowly until they reach adulthood, after which they just stop all together. In fact, Tolkien's elves do sound very similar to citizens of the MK, minus the long tragic history, the pointed ears, and the cheekbones that are to die for.

Anyway, for Tolkien's elves, puberty is over when they reach the age of fifty. Before that they look like and resemble children; in their twenties, they physically resemble seven-year-olds. Like the MK citizens, Tolkien's elves are considered full-fledged adults at the age of 100.

But all that speculating, doesn't help me get much of a picture as to what Rehema looks like. I harp on this point so much, because later in the conversation, she mentions having a four-year-old son, even though she isn't :gasp: married, so I find myself wondering if she had a kid when she was barely out of puberty or was the conception the product of statutory rape or what? Though I suppose it could have been a consensual affair. Rehema, after all isn't an RTC, and thus would view sex as an act of love, rather than a grim necessity needed to produce more believers. Though having a child out of wedlock does put her further to the left on the spectrum.

Anyway, poor Rehema is stuck with Rayford until midnight and I sympathize. In a just world, she would have a taser or something to use on him, but this is the LB-verse, so no go. Just that I would totally sympathize with her tasering Rayford in the balls after this line:

“Poor girl. You’re going to know more about me than I know about myself, because I plan to talk until I cannot go on.”

She chuckled. “That will keep me awake. Keep me out of trouble. But I am supposed to be talking to you, propagandizing you, selling you on the inevitability of our cause and the certainty of our victory in the end as evidenced by all the work you see being accomplished on the screens. This will continue for centuries until we are invincible.”

“Oh, dear one,” Rayford said, “you have already lost. Victory is ours. You have so little time, really. Follow your heart and mind, change your course, join the forces of the one true and living God before it is too late.”

I'd ask if there was a way Rayford could sound like anymore of a patronizing jackass, but experience has taught me that every time in the LB-verse where you're like, "Okay, that was bad, but it'd be hard for things to get any worse," Ellanjay rises (or falls) to the occasion and produces something that makes you fondly long for moments like Rayford smirking about an unsaved coworker who committed suicide in the wake of losing his family.

Okay, I'll assume that Rayford probably can't be killed. He said The Prayer by the time TurboJesus showed up to burninate the heathens, but does that mean there still aren't ways to take him out? Like could we encase him in concrete and bury him underground? He'd still be alive, but the weight of concrete and earth would leave him unable to walk around and be a patronizing ass towards everyone. It'd take some work, but frankly, the benefits would far outweigh the costs.

Of course, what keeps me from having too much sympathy for Rehema (though I do have some)is again, the KK's scheme is even more poorly thought-out than the Underpants Gnomes' path to riches.

Rehema turned and faced Rayford. “You are a nice and well-intentioned man. But it is you who are out of time.” She looked at her watch. “In fewer than seventeen hours, your God will have been shown incapable of delivering you from our hands in time for your meeting. Then we will know whose god is worthy.”

Uh, guys, you do realize that even if Rayford isn't there, Saintly Irene, Token Jew, Chaim, Mac, Mr. and Mrs. Barnes will be, so I'm fairly certain they will still be able to rack up converts and do damage to the cause. Though wait, that would be going against the rule of the LB-verse: Our Buck and Rayford are the single, greatest forces in the LB-verse. So much so that when either character isn't onscreen, I have a hard time believing that anything goes on. Probably everybody just hangs in the wings, waiting for them to show up so the play can continue. Or maybe when they're not in the scene, the LB-verse resembles the world before the creation, as told in Genesis chapter 1, which describes the world as being formless and void. But then again, even when they're onscreen, it's formless and void.

The section ends with Rehema being all "Tell me about your family," and I'm shouting "NO! Please don't give him an opening to recite any more non-specific generalizations about the people he's supposed to love above all others!"

Anyway, after all this, we're back with Abdullah who is still working on his Sooper Sekrit Mission to Be an Asshole towards convert Mudawar and Sarsour. Based on the dialogue at the beginning, I feel like maybe I've missed something, but not enough to want to go back and reread everything.

Abdullah sat across from Mudawar in his office, leaning toward him earnestly. “So you feel, as you have expressed it, that you ‘owe me one.’  ”

“Yes. You earned it. You deserve it. One for your side. What will it be?”

“I have no idea what you have in mind. You know my heart’s desire: that you and Sarsour come to faith.”

And my heart's desire is that the TOL Panthers or the TOLstapo show up and tear gas the living hell out of you, but we're not likely to get that, are we?

For the record, of the two names, I prefer TOL Panthers. It seems to better fit with the TOL motif of fighting for their right to exist and express themselves in whatever manner they see fit, so long as it harms no one else in the process. The Gestapo weren't known for their sterling beliefs in the rights of others, I'm just sayin'.

Though I suppose I will have to console myself with fantasies about the TOL Panthers coming in and dragging Abdullah off. Because like I've said before, Mudawar and Sarsour have been ridiculously tolerant of Abdullah, allowing him to hang around and use their facilities to loudly proclaim that they are horrible people deserving of nothing but hellfire and damnation. This building is their property and as the owners/operators, they have the right to say, "I don't want you around. Get out before I call the authorities!"

If nothing else, if the TOL Panthers did show up in full tactical gear and go to town on Abdullah, he would at last have experienced some actual suffering for his faith, which would give him all kinds of street cred and boost him further to the right on the Good-Evil spectrum. Of course, being beaten with a nightstick probably pales in comparison to the very real anguish and suffering experienced by White Christian Males when the over-worked, under-paid cashier :gasp: :choke: :pearlclutch: wishes them a "Happy Holidays," but still.

Mudawar offers Abdullah a chance to be able to preach in front of a large gathering of TOL. And I'm like, "Finally!" Because I thought this whole scheme of Abdullah's was that he would go to the TOL and hang around and preach at them in an office or on a street corner, if needed. Yet all he's done so far is hang around an office, sit on his fat ass, and harass Mudawar and Sarsour.

Once again, the Satanic-Worshipping Godless Heathens are way more respectful of the rights of others. Because can you imagine one of the RTCs allowing a member of the TOL to hang out on their property and try to win converts. :Insert So Much Bitter Laughter Here:

Though at the same time, you do feel like shouting at the TOL, "Oh come on! Stop being such pushovers!"

Much of the conversation is taken up with, well, I suppose this is supposed to read as high-tension sly spy manipulations, but lordy... There is so much stupid that I may just do a linkstorm, dump a whole lot of spy-related clips/songs, starting with Secret Agent Man, seguing into Austin Powers, Inspector Gadget, and Maxwell Smart.

And I really wish I could just keep going at this for all time, bringing in The Pink Panther, The Avengers, and just about any other spy/espionage show theme I can think of, but I should probably show some work ethic and get back to the review. I'll let you pick your spy music of choice to read these scenes to. Just know that any fictional spy, even Inspector Gadget, is way more competent than any character in the LB-verse.

Though of the themes I've just linked to, have to say The Avengers is my personal favorite for its grandeur. Then again, it was composed during an era when people gave a shit about TV show theme songs.

I have to admit that the overwhelming amount of stupid kept me from getting much of the conversation between Abdullah, Mudawar, and Sarsour, but from what I can tell, he's still all "Kenny might be an infiltrator!" and Mudawar and Sarsour are vaguely blackmailing, threatening to make it look like Abdullah is working for them via editing and such. Given what we've seen with Kenny proves that RTCs have no problem immediately believing the worst about someone they've known and cared about for a long time, they might actually be able to set up Abdullah and have it work.

Anyway, we might need to have a candlelit vigil for Abdullah, because just think of the immense amount of suffering and pain he's going through.

Abdullah’s mind was too jumbled to even think about crafting a message. Soon it would be time to make his daily run for Mudawar’s coffee and Sarsour’s snack. Should he continue to do that, to serve his enemies out of love while they stabbed him in the back?

Poor Abdullah...Jesus was only repeatedly whipped and scourged, before being nailed onto a cross to die a painful, excruciating death for the sins of humanity. Whereas you may find yourself enduring something far worse: buy coffee and snacks for people who don't like you. I mean, sure, crucifixion was the kind of death where, if the Romans felt like being merciful, they'd send someone out to break your legs with a club, so you die from asphyxiation, rather than linger for days on end, but you face being mildly inconvenienced and having spend an amount of money that probably doesn't add up to $20.

:hums "We Shall Overcome" for Abdullah while playing the world's smallest violin:

On an unrelated note, if I keep communicating in brutal sarcasm, how soon until I won't be able to communicate in any other form?

There's an interlude with Cam-Cam and Chloe. Chloe is all weepy and female, but believes that Kenny-boy isn't a traitor. Cam-Cam is all steadfast and manly, but still unsure about whether Kenny-boy is a traitor. Like I said, given how quickly everyone's willing to accept the worst about Kenny, I feel like telling him to give everyone the finger, meet up with your boyfriend, and attend a Black Sabbath concert. Kenny is such a moral prig, but the nature of all the stupid, forces me to have a quark-sized amount of sympathy for him.

After the interlude, Sarsour shows up. He and Abdullah talk and surprise surprise, Abdullah's steadfast assholishness has earned him another convert. He also tells Abdullah that the eeeevil TOL infiltrator is Qasim. :dramatic prairie dog:

Again, since the RTCs have been just such absolute shitstains towards Qasim, I totally have no objections to him working for the other side. In fact, I'm looking for my pom-poms so I can do a proper cheerleading routine on his behalf.

Mouse's Life Lesson to Anyone, Young or Old, Reading This Post: Don't reshape or completely change yourself, just so shitstains will stop bullying you and let you live your life with some peace and dignity. One, it never works, and two, bullying is always wrong, regardless of the victims age/sex/race/orientation, regardless of how terrible their fashion sense is, regardless of how weird and socially awkward the victim is. Don't waste time and energy trying to make shitty people like you. They never will like you and it's never worth it.

There's a brief interlude with Kenny-boy that I'm quoting because, well, if I'm going to be doing Beavis and Butthead laughter until I die, so should the rest of you! I'm a firm believer in Misery Loves Company.

Kenny had sketched out some handicraft projects for the kids that would help drive home the current lessons from the life of David. It hadn’t been easy to concentrate. There had been times when he slid off his chair to the floor, moaning in frustration and crying out to God for relief. A knock at the door made him wipe his face and straighten up. He peeked out to see Ekaterina. Thank You, Lord.

...

Like I said, if perverted thoughts could ever be converted into a viable fuel source, a Utopia may ensue.

Based on the contents of this paragraph, I'm assuming the handicraft projects for the kids involve making a diorama of when David saw Bathsheba on the roof. :wicked grin:

The rest of the paragraph...I want to say it reads like a letter to Penthouse, but given that there are kids in the room with him, I'm like, "Oh for the love of God, Kenny! Either think about baseball or grab a box of Kleenex and duck into the men's room for a bit!" Do something before the kids starting going, "Why are Kenny's pants bulging like that?"

OW! Okay, that's as far as I was going to take it, thank you.

After that brief bit, we're back with Sarsour, Mudawar, and Abdullah. Sarsour announces to Mudawar that he's converted. Mudawar is all angry and pissy.

Then we cut to Kenny-boy and Kat. Apparently Kat has finally rubbed together her two braincells and realized that the email is :gasp: fake. Granted this decision took place entirely off-screen as we were given no indication that Kat had found something that might convince her to stop automatically believing the worst about Kenny, but hey. I'll just stop ranting and raving and make more sex jokes. That's what you guys are here for, right.

She rose and approached him, but before he could stand, she sat on his lap and buried her head in his chest. “I just want the truth to come out so everyone will know. You know the others are suffering too.”

"So is that a Bible in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?"

The chapter ends with Kenny-boy getting a call on his skull phone. I'm assuming it's Abdullah telling him that Qasim is the mole, but I'm more focused on how Kenny called Kat, hon. Which is totally something one twentysomething says to another. As if he wasn't enough of a patronizing jackass.

And that's it for this week. Take care until I see you all again. For those of you wondering we've got two more chapters until this is all over, though there is an afterword from Tim LaHaye. I don't really have much planned after this book. I think I'll finally go through with my threat to do some copy and paste, cut out the mothereffin' front matter and the passages with the Biblical figures reciting copy and paste from the Bible, just to see if this book's wordcount would even qualify it as a novella, never mind a novel. Maybe I'd make my Kingdom Come Abridged available to everyone else, but I'm not sure if I should. Sounds like a good recipe for a lawsuit.

Afterwards, I'm not sure what I'll do, though I do want to rest on my laurels for a bit. If anyone has any suggestions, feel free to let me know.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Rayford Endures the Mildly Uncomfortable TOL Inquisition (Chapter 30, Part III)

Well, I celebrated a birthday a few days ago. :grumbles: They made being an adult sound like a step below being a superhero and I fell for it. That and people always talk about growing up as a conscious choice, that one day you decide, "It is time for me to become a responsible adult and do adult things like-" okay, I'm not entirely sure what adults do, besides hold jobs and have kids. Thing is, what they don't tell you is that you don't conscientiously decide to put aside childish things. Just that as you get older, all the toys and stuff start to interest you less and less, until one day, you realize you haven't played with or done X in ages. Growing up just seems to be a background thing, where it mostly goes on without you realizing it and when you do, you realize at some point you crossed a line and there's no way of going back.

It's one of the many many reasons Inside Out may be the best damn Pixar film ever. Yeah, in growing up, you gain things, but at the same time, you're also losing stuff you'll never get back and it always hurts to lose things, even if you know it has to happen.

As long as we're talking about Pixar, while I haven't decided whether or not to have kids (still have mixed feelings about it), I have decided that they will not see the Toy Story films until they are in college, because if they see them before, I won't ever be able to throw out any of their toys because they'll be like, "But then they'll think I don't love them anymore!" The same goes for that insidious Velveteen Rabbit book.

Oh, all right, I'll try to see if I can finally finish chapter 30 this week.

Last week, I was grudgingly forced to somewhat be on Rayford's side, something that I still feel disgusted and dirty about. Well, this week, I don't have to worry, because with every single line...I'm trying to picture what Rayford looks like. I've already decided he has terrible fashion choices, but he must also have the smuggest, most punchable face ever. Were it not for the fact that he is more powerful than God in the LB-verse, people would be punching him in the face constantly. Even his own mother wouldn't be able to stop punching him.

Our dear Fred Clark has this bit of delightful fanart and while I totes picture Chloe looking like that, being all Lindsay Weir from Freaks and Geeks, I'm not sure if I can approve of comparing any LB-verse character to Zapp Brannigan from Futurama. Zapp may be an overconfident buffoon, a description that fits most of the characters in the LB-verse, but he had kind of an oily charm and some good words of wisdom. Pro Tip: the way to a girl's heart really is through her parents. Have sex with them and you're in.

Rayford, on the other hand, is as charming as Herpes. At least when you open Pandora's box, you get some hope to go with all the misery; with Rayford, you only get misery and a never-ending burning sensation.

Rayford has been picked up by the Keystone Kidnappers. They call themselves, The Only Light, but trust me, when I say they deserve to be called the Keystone Kidnappers. Henceforth that shall be their name from here on out. Anyone who disagrees shall be punished by catapult.

Rayford is like, "You guys have been born in the MK and have actually seen TurboJesus and Zod walking around plain as day."

And we get this exchange between him and the Keystone Kidnappers (KK). I'm with Firedrake. These guys are the chaff, used by the TOL resistance to keep the Millies distracted while the competent people get shit done.

“We don’t, and we will prove it, as we also are advertising. We have publicized that our god will keep you from appearing in Siwa, proving once and for all that you claim to represent a God who is capricious, unjust, and nonexistent.”

“He does not exist and yet He is capricious and unjust? Detaining me will prove nothing. God will do what He chooses.”

This is something we've seen again and again with Ellanjay. They operate like the LB-verse is like ours, where God and the like are mostly taken on faith or as Paul would define it, "the assurance of things hoped for, evidence of things not yet seen." The problem is the LB-verse has numerous, incontrovertible proof of God, the kind of proof that would make even Richard Dawkins pause. God is a full-fledged character in this series, so again, the problem the heathens would have isn't that there isn't proof of his existence; it's the nature of the deity in question. Most people would consider the guy who sends people to a place of eternal misery and torture, without taking into account any extenuating circumstances or allowing such legal niceties such as a trial where the defendant can either represent themselves or :gasp: have legal representation provided for them, to be a bad guy.

Yeah, I know even if they had trials and such, the very concept of Hell is nothing but problematic. No matter what horrible tortures Hitler or some other genocidal a-hole puts a person through, there is a natural end to it. Even they can only do so much to a person for so long, before the poor schmoe finally dies. The idea of someone torturing a person without end, is so monstrous as to be beyond thought whatsoever.

So yeah, the problem here isn't that the TOL doesn't believe in God; the problem is, according to Rayford and co., is that they refuse to worship someone who tortures their family and friends in Hell for all eternity and will eventually punt them into Hell for refusing to worship him. And we also must not forget, that God in the MK has a loyal army of Brownshirts who arrest and harass people who haven't committed any crime. Because, and we must never forget this about the Right, Christian or otherwise, they have no problem with oppression, so long as it's done by the right people for the right reasons. Nicky Appalachians was eeeevil, but that was because he tortured people and stamped out dissent in the name of EBOWF or Carpathianism. It would be perfectly all right if Nicky had done his monstrous deeds in the name of the RTC subculture, but he didn't, which makes his actions wrong.

Anyway, the KK talk about how keeping Rayford from the meeting will help them sway people towards who they worship, who is (Reader with Heart Conditions should have their medication close by so they can handle the shocking reveal) Lucifer.

The KK talk about how Lucifer will release himself from the pit and lead them to victory against Zod.

“He will lead us to overcome all who oppose him. Even now, centuries before he is released, massive preparations are under way.”

“Released by whom?”

“We believe he will release himself.”

“From confinement by whom?”

“He incarcerated himself to prove a point.”

Rayford laughed aloud. “If he did that, he’s proved my point!”

“Your point?”

“That you’re idiots. Now who’s capricious? You really believe your all-powerful leader locked himself away for a thousand years and will eventually emerge to prove he’s in charge?”

Ishmael shook his head. “When you see what is happening in his name, you will not be so cavalier.”

Within the next paragraph, you will see the horrors being committed in Lucifer's name. Once again, if any of my readers have heart conditions or something that would make swoon like a 19th century Southern Belle if they read or hear anything shocking, I ask that they brace themselves. I don't want to be responsible for any hospital stays.

Ishmael finally slowed about a half mile from a lonely intersection, then turned right onto a road lined on either side by black-uniformed, armed soldiers. They stood at attention and saluted as the sedan passed. Ishmael waved and waved. The route led to an underground entrance wide enough for the car, and Rayford was intrigued by the quick plunge into utter darkness and a coolness he had not experienced for years.

When even the RTC characters are like, "Y'know I miss darkness," only one word can summon up this Utopia: FAIL!

Gotta commend the TOL for managing to get organized so quickly, enough that everyone has uniforms and arms, despite Zod constantly zapping their soldiers when they reach 100. Granted as a rebel group, they would work much better without uniforms. Rebel groups usually lack in funds, weapons, and numbers. What binds them together isn't a look, it's an ideology. Because as the Evil Overlord List points out, having your mooks wear distinctive uniforms or have a specific tattoo, makes it hard to do covert operations. Rebels are therefore better off wearing whatever clothes a mission dictates. So long as they have an ideology that each member is willing to fight and die for, they can keep going indefinitely.

[Long historical Lecture about Strategy that Only Tangentially Ties Into the Book]
Or in other words, think of Vietnam, where technically the US won every battle fought there, but ultimately failed to win the war. They failed because the Vietnamese, while lacking in tech, they had an ideology that united them, that they would bleed and die for. This was their home, their lands, and their people they were fighting for, whereas for the US, this is some muddy backwater thousand of miles away from the people and places they care about. As such, all the Vietnamese had to do, was keep the fight going until the US lost the will. The war was never winnable, because for every soldier we killed, we wound up making more, because it turns out the way to winning someone's heart and mind, isn't through dropping bombs on their village and killing just about everyone they care about.

Apologists for the Vietnam War will do things like point out how the infamous Tet offensive was quickly routed and the North didn't hold onto the bases for very long, but like I've said before, the Vietnamese strategy wasn't to conquer territories, but to wear their opponents down. The Tet Offensive wasn't meant to be a lasting victory; it was meant to prove something to the civilians back in the states. For weeks, average Joe Blow American was being told by military and government officials that the enemy was losing its will to fight and the war was drawing to a close, but the Tet Offensive proved that all to be a lie. The enemy still had plenty of will to keep going and most Joe Blows realized what the military stubbornly refused to: that while the Tet Offensive had been quickly routed, all the Vietnamese had to do, was lay low for a while then try again, then repeat.

Though for those of you wanting an example that doesn't involve Southeast Asia, let's talk about the good ol' American Civil War. First of all, it was about Slavery. Every state that seceded published a document announcing their reasons for doing so and they all cited their belief in slavery and the North's encroachment on it, along with their failure to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act*. To use the wise words of Jon Stewart, saying the Civil War was about slavery isn't politically correct history; it's correct correct history.

It is true that the North wasn't entirely united in the fight against the South. They did have border states who did practice slavery and had to deal with uprisings in Missouri and the NY Draft Riots of 1863. But those divisions were fairly isolated and eventually resolved.

But the South suffered from deep-rooted divisions from the very beginning, ones that only continued to grow and grow as the war went on. First of all, the South's combined population was 9 million people, 4 million of which were slaves. Since their ideology couldn't dare let the slaves fight alongside the Confederates, that meant so many of the troops had to be used to keep a major chunk of the population under control, keep them from taking advantage of the chaos to GTFO. As a result, this didn't endear the cause to many of the poor Southern Whites who (correctly) were like, "You're sending us to die for some rich a-hole's slaves." The South was an aristocracy where the one percent made all the decisions, while the majority had little, if any, say in how things were run.

As a result, it may have ultimately been ideology that did the South in. Yeah, the South had a lot of disadvantages when it came to men and arms, but they did have some advantages. If they had had a consistent ideology to unite them, they might have been able to pull off what the Vietnamese did, draw out the fight until their opponents lost the will to keep going. But there were deep fissures in their ideology from the get-go. The Civil War wasn't a United North against a United South; it was a mostly United North against a bitterly divided South. General Sherman's army, on his infamous March to the Sea, actually grew in numbers with not only many escaped slaves running off to join in the fight, but plenty of poor southerners and Confederate soldiers deserting to join in as well. [/Long Historical Lecture]

Again, were it not for the fact that Ellanjay have stacked the deck, the TOL probably could win, if they have an ideology that unites them. Because as spiritplumber points out, when the Big-Ass Totally Final Battle for All Time comes, the TOL vastly outnumber the Millies. Because I am a pervert, my theory as to why, is pretty much Sex, lots and lots of headboard-banging, mind-blowing Sex. Because while Naturals like Kenny and Kat still seem to have the desires of the flesh, the vast majority of RTCs brag about how they know longer desire anything, content to have mutual admiration societies. So by default, the RTC population is going to have a precipitous drop.

Okay, back to the book. Rayford is taken underground and oh Lordy...I have posted this link many times to make fun of the "torture" Chloe endures at the hands of the GC. Again, though he runs a Satanic NWO and wants to crush all who dissent against him, Nicky is awfully respectful of the rights of others, going so far as to allow a group advocating his overthrow, to have a big massive, televised meeting so they can acquire more fighters for the cause. Granted they don't do any actual fighting, but still.

The point is, for all the wargle-bargle, the enemy really sucks at torture and oppression. Just look at the horrors Rayford has to deal with.

“When did you last eat?” Ishmael said.

“About six hours ago.”

“Good. Let him wait another eighteen for just enough food to keep him functioning. And take his shirt, shoes, and socks. Chilly, Mr. Steele?”

“Of course.”

“Your slacks and undershirt should be enough. A little chill will keep you alert.”

Rayford was led to a cavernous opening that proved incongruous, as it sported walls bearing huge flat-screen TV monitors and high-tech desks and workstations but was ringed by dirt-floored cells enclosed by prison bars. Each cell bore a prisoner— a man, a woman, or a young person, all sitting on steel mesh beds. Each wore an expression of fear and resignation. And each had one armed guard posted outside his or her cell.

Anyone whose heard of Abu Ghraib, never mind was imprisoned or worked there, is laughing and laughing bitterly. Because these are the horrors Rayford Steele is enduring: missing a few meals, being forced to stay in conditions that are sparse, rather than the luxuries of the Ritz-Carlton, and not being able to wear a shirt, shoes, and socks in a place that while a little chilly, is not likely to be so uncomfortable that he's risking frostbite. Me, I like being barefoot and mostly wear shoes because society says I have to. Though maybe I'm underestimating the KK; maybe they've scattered Legos all over the floor of their dimly-lit underground prison. That would truly be horrible!

Though if the imprisoned RTCs have expressions of fear and resignation, I have to wonder how strong their beliefs are. Again, they have incontrovertible proof as to the rightness of their beliefs. Shouldn't they be all joyous and confidant, singing hymns because they know that nothing the TOL does will hurt them ESPECIALLY SINCE THIS IS HEAVEN AKA A WORLD WITH NO PAIN AND DEATH IF YOU SAY THE PRAYER BEFORE AGE 100!

Well, okay, the no pain part is somewhat debatable. Since Ellanjay suck at World-building, I still haven't worked out whether pain and death still happens before age 100. Sometimes I think, "Okay, it does," but because consistency is for godless heathens, then they'll have something that contradicts it. But I still stand by the previous ragedump because like I said, they have incontrovertible proof as to the rightness of their beliefs. They know without a single doubt that God and Jesus exist and will free them from bondage and punish their captors. So again, FAIL!

Rayford decides to put the moves on Rehema. For those of you curious, she's all weak and female and was the one who undid his cuffs in the previous chapter, because she was concerned about him being in pain. I suppose I should apologize for using the phrasing "put the moves on Rehema" but were it not for Ellanjay's deep-rooted and creepy disgust towards the desires of the flesh, I would totally assume a porno was about to take place, based on the dialogue.

Rayford found himself grateful beyond measure that his guard was Rehema. “You know what your name means, do you not?” he said as she gently guided him inside, removed his handcuffs, and pulled the cell door shut.

“Do tell,” she whispered, her face a mask of boredom but her eyes dancing.

“ ’ Compassionate.’ And you have already proven to be that.”

She shrugged and sat with her back to the bars, her weapon tucked between her knees. Rayford sat on his metal frame, already beginning to shiver, and talked loudly enough so only she could hear. He asked her to tell him about herself, but she demurred.

I can't be the only one starting to hear bow-chicka-wow-wow music playing. Please tell me I'm not. Though I know, no sex in the MK, unless you're a godless heathen (hence their greater numbers). Sex with Rayford or any Millie would probably be unpleasant and leave you feeling dirty afterwards anyways, because every interaction in the RTC subculture is always about power. Therefore, a couple doesn't decide to have sex, because they love each other enough to surrender themselves completely to another person; they grudgingly have sex because pastor says they have to in order to produce babies.

It may be one of the reasons why they're so opposed to Gay sex. Not only can no babies result from it, but when two guys or two girls get it on with each other, it's two people roughly of the same standing in the hierarchy making love to another of the same standing, rather than a higher-up (aka a big, strong manly man) dominating having sex with someone further down the hierarchy (aka a lesser, weaker female.)

I keep saying, "It's always about Sex," when it comes to the RTCs, because whenever there's a scandal in that subculture, so long as Sex isn't involved, RTC celeb might have a shot at surviving it, so long as they play their hand carefully. They won't have the same cachet as before, but they'll be able to survive. But really it could probably more accurately be called, "It's always about Power," rather than "It's always about Sex." Because their creepy obsession with power and hierarchy invariably gives birth to their creepy views of sex which leads to said scandals. Maybe they don't wear the fancy robes and funny hats like Catholics, but the RTCs do invariably believe in an elaborate hierarchy, the same as they do. They may talk about how we're all equal before God, but it's always with the silent Orwellian corollary, "But some are more equal than others."

Though some props to Rayford. While I know most Baby Name websites cannot be trusted when it comes to the meaning and history of names, according Behind The Name.com, Rehema is of East African origin and means "mercy" in Swahili. So he is kind of right there, though I'm still going to call BS. I will accept Rayford knowing the meanings behind common, white snowy white names like John or Anne, but Rehema is fairly uncommon and do you really think Rayford has the intellectual curiosity needed to read through an issue of TV Guide, never mind a book listing Baby Names.

Anyway Rayford tries to put the moves on convert Rehema. I fight the urge to go, "Convert her all night long," and laugh like Statler and Waldorf from The Muppets.

Apparently the RV has some kind of cloaking device because Rehema talks about how even though she saw Rayford leave it, neither she nor the other KK-ers could ever find it.

Rehema talks about how monitoring and tracking are done at this underground base and they have munitions plants all over the world, manufacturing stuff in anticipation of the Big-Ass Totally Final Battle for All-Time. :sighs: I should really think of a new name for this battle, because I sure as heck am going to get tired of typing all that out, yet I don't know if using the acronym BATFBAT would be memorable enough. I made up the name to mock how Ellanjay have so many crucial final battles and TurboJesus coming back so many times, all the while asserting that this will be the final one. They're worse than the Rolling Stones when it comes to these things.

Again, I'll assume that Rehema and the KK are chaff like Firedrake and spiritplumber proposed because really you kidnap and imprison an enemy and your first move is to show them all your secret tech and the locations of your munitions factories? At least Bond Villains have style to go with all the stupidity, thus making it so we get some awesome stunts.

For the next material I'm about to post, well, I must provide a warning, not just to readers with heart conditions, but really just readers in general, because this is likely to make you laugh until you injure yourself. So you might as well come up with a good story to tell the ER ahead of time, before reading onwards.

Rehema hunched her shoulders as she seemed to throttle a laugh again. “I know how it sounds,” she said. “But the battle is against the believers in the God who is not there.”

“But we believe so deeply that we have obeyed His edict against weapons of war. You and yours would attack an unarmed people?”

...

So far, I have been remarkably restrained in my use of YouTube links for this post. But in the wake of all this, I think I'll break down and provide a few.

We'll start with Roger Rabbit than dip our toe into some Monty Python.

Because we all know how committed Rayford and the other RTCs have been to the cause of peace. They believe so strongly in that they do what they can to help work towards a more peaceful world and lend their support to the politicians who work for peace, rather than a perpetual, never-ending war with [Insert Whatever Country We've Always Been At War With]. So strongly do they believe in peace that they resisted Nicky's violent oppression by...well, not by nonviolent resistance because that would be wrong, but by doing nothing, which in no way, lends tacit support to Nicky's regime.

RTCs have always been on the side of peace and justice. Hence why they were some of Martin Luther King's strongest supporters, why they were the most horrified by Vietnam War-era atrocities such as My Lai and Kent State.

Okay, I think I've been brutally sarcastic long enough. It's again, an example of how the Right isn't opposed to oppression so long as it's done by the right people for the right reasons. In the scenario proposed, the TOL would be massacring innocent people in the name of their poorly-defined ideology; if they were doing it in the name of RTC-ianity, it would be okay, but they're not.

Of course, this is all beside the point as in the final battle...you want to know what happens? Lucifer gets let out of Hell, the TOL assembles, and with a wave of his hand and no effort on the Millies or God's part, they get punted into hell to burninate forever. It's really said when even Breaking Dawn aka a novel from the Twilight series, has a better final battle and their final battle is a cocktease as well.

Rayford asks her age and Rehema talks about how she is 90 and I fight the urge to have Rayford breathe a sigh of relief, because at least, she's not statutory. OW! Okay, I'll stop.

Anyway, he points out that you've seen people older than you get punted.

“It does tell you something, doesn’t it? How do your fearless leaders explain that one? The God you claim does not exist— and yet whom you oppose— somehow curses those who reject Him for a hundred years, and no one gets the picture?”

She shook her head slowly. “No wonder you call us idiots.”

Not only can Rayford not be punched enough, he can not have the words, "Fuck you, Rayford!" yelled in his direction enough. But don't worry: Rayford is suffering from some terrible, mild discomfort at the hands of his captors.

Again she was quiet for several minutes. Rayford knew he shouldn’t be hungry until morning, but just knowing he would not be given any food until dinnertime the next night gave him pangs. And he was shuddering. He rubbed his arms and brought his knees up to his chest, wrapping them in his forearms.

Never has anyone experienced so much mild suffering. We must hold a candlelit vigil and pray on Rayford's behalf.

Then we face discussion.

“We’re not all atheists, you know,” Rehema said.

“Of course I know. How could you be?”

“I couldn’t. You’re right. I’ve seen friends and relatives die, right on schedule. Only a fool denies that.”

“So you believe in God.”

“I believe He exists. I just don’t like Him much.”

And if you guessed that Rayford will never at any point address Rehema's valid points, congratulations, you've won a No-Prize, redeemable for either No-Money or No-Points that you may use however you see fit.

But first we get what can only be described as Sandwich porn. Someone comes by and drops off Rehema's lunch. But Rehema, feeling that Rayford has suffered enough mild discomfort, gives her sandwich to him.

But Rayford had underestimated the power of her simple sandwich. He smelled it as if it lay under his nose, and he imagined every bite. He looked away, tried to think of something else, and concentrated on his recitation of history— especially his own. He talked of his life, his family, the Rapture, being left behind. And while Rehema appeared interested and even at times enthralled, she furtively passed the last few bites of her sandwich through the bars to him.

...

So many jokes...so very many jokes.

Every joke I think of, branches off and spawns even more jokes, thus making it so that if somehow you can convert my perverted thoughts into something that can be used as fuel...well, congratulations, we've just discovered a never-ending renewable resource that leaves us no longer hopeless dependent upon Middle Eastern oil and may usher in a new era of peace and prosperity. If it was possible, thanks to me, the Indians would no longer have to protest pipelines cutting through land they consider sacred.


But since there's not enough time to type all these jokes, I'll just make one: Rehema's sandwich must go really well with Kelis's Milkshake.

Rayford expresses some concern that Rehema might get into trouble for giving him her sandwich :snickers:. It's kind of sad how I feel like throwing a parade whenever an RTC expresses concern about the welfare of others, though it is dampened by the fact that if Rehema gets in trouble, there won't be anyone to bring him sandwiches so Rayford would :gasp: have to go a few hours without food, and again, he's only doing this to rack up another convert.

Rehema is like "Whatevs. They won't mind. They still need me and hey, I'll be dead in ten years anyway."

The chapter ends with this conversation where Brave Sir Rayford bravely avoids addressing any of the points Rehema was actually making, like any true RTC.

When Rayford began telling her of his own salvation and all his experiences during the Tribulation, Rehema finally turned to face him. He surprised himself by how much Scripture he had committed to memory over the years, and as he held forth, he quoted passage after passage of prophecy that had come true just as the foretellers had predicted.

Finally Rehema said, “How could anyone doubt God after all that?”

“They couldn’t,” Rayford said. “To oppose Him they had to acknowledge that He existed but that they simply wanted to go their own way. Like you.”

With that Rehema stood and turned her back, pacing before his cell.

If Ellanjay really intended to use this series to rack up converts, you think they would show the actual conversation between Rayford and Rehema, citing the actual scriptures. Granted, an atheist probably wouldn't read this far into the series, period, but as if we didn't have enough proof that Ellanjay are doing the RTC equivalent of The Requirement, there's this.

Though oy vey, the old "Atheists Hate God!" canard. Because we all know that someone who doesn't even believe in the existence of a thing, spends all their time sitting around and hating that thing. Hence why RTCs spend all their time hating leprechauns, unicorns, fairies, dragons, and any other mythical creature. I thought about listing Hindu deities or the Norse and Greek Pantheon, but from what I can tell, they devote an awful lot of time, trying to prove non-Christian faiths wrong. You'd think if they were that certain the Christian God existed, they wouldn't feel the need to repeatedly proclaim that God's Not Dead and they're not ashamed, but it's the old repeat of the Alpha wolf thing I talked about in another post.

Despite the reputation/image has people have on an alpha wolf as the strutting bully, actual studies of actual wolves in the wild, have proven...well, I'm just going to quote from an article because they say it better:

“The main characteristic of an alpha male wolf,” the veteran wolf researcher Rick McIntyre told me as we were watching gray wolves, “is a quiet confidence, quiet self-assurance. You know what you need to do; you know what’s best for your pack. You lead by example. You’re very comfortable with that. You have a calming effect.”

The point is, alpha males are not aggressive. They don’t need to be. “Think of an emotionally secure man or a great champion. Whatever he needed to prove is already proven,” he said.

The obvious parallel is that if the RTCs were really certain that they were right, that their God is the realest, most manliest, awesomest around, they wouldn't need to loudly proclaim it and constantly us the worst vitriol to assert their beliefs. If they were really secure in their beliefs, again, they would be like Paul who, as a Roman citizen and a Jew, he knew the beliefs of said cultures and wasn't afraid to face and address them. He was secure in his knowledge of those cultures and secure in his belief that not only was Jesus the long-proclaimed Messiah, he also believed that Jesus died to save everyone, not just the Jews. That belief was the foundation of Paul's ministry, which helped him endure all kinds of horrible punishments which culminated in him literally losing his head over the Christian Faith. Paul has his faults and I, as a liberal Christian, do feel they need to be pointed out and addressed, but at the same time, he had his virtues as well and his beliefs, while not completely in line with 21st Century Values, were much more nuanced than RTCs would have you believe.

A part of that article about wolves that I really liked, was how it talked about 21, an alpha wolf they came to refer to as "super wolf" by the researchers who observed his life. 21 never lost a fight with a rival pack and was fierce in his defense of family, but his favorite activity, according to a researcher, was to wrestle and act goofy with the little pups.

Real alpha wolves lead by example and know that the most important part of being a leader, is taking care of your people. Hence why even though they may play a key role in bringing down game, often, afterwards, they'll step back and let the rest of the pack eat first before having his share. In fact, the researcher in the article says that in his twenty years of study, he has very rarely seen an alpha male act aggressively towards his fellow pack members. Packs tend to be family groups, made up of the Alpha, his mate, their offspring, and a sibling or two, and generally, families that tear each other apart don't do to well.

In fact, while nature at times is rough, usually altruism wins out. A species that spends all their time fighting each other, generally doesn't last too long. Hence why while animals may fight each other for mating/territorial battles, they mostly focus their aggression on other animals and when they focus their aggression on other animals, even the fiercest predator has a natural limit. You can parade the juiciest, most succulent sheep right in front of a tiger, but if he's eaten recently and is all nice and full, tiger would be like, "Nah, I'm good."

Well, we're done. Finally made it through Chapter 30, though I probably lectured everyone into submission with all my talk about the value of ideologies in War and all this talk about wolves. Take care until next week.

*The Fugitive Slave Act is one of the best examples as to something I've come to believe, that States' Rights are the last refuge of the legal scoundrel. It's the argument resorted to when bigots have no other leg to stand on. The Antebellum South had no problem overriding the States' Rights of abolitionist states like Pennsylvania by using the federal government to pass the Fugitive Slave Act making them have to return escaped slaves to their owners. Only when the tide was irrevocably turning against them, did the South suddenly be in favor of limited government power, meekly crying, "States' Rights."

Also went through this with the Civil Rights movements. They had no problem using the federal government to enforce segregation via decisions like Plessy v. Fergusson but as soon as the tide turns against them and the government says they have to let Black kids go to school with their kids, then they cry, "States' Rights."

Though a non-related race issue is when it came to Gay Marriage, for a while, the bigots were all "We don't need a law from the federal government. Let the states decide and work this out for themselves." But as soon as states like Massachusetts and Vermont vote in favor of letting Gay people get married, then they start championing for a ban on Gay Marriage at the federal level, even though doing so would override the popular will of states like Massachusetts and others who voted in favor of Gay Marriage.