Saturday, February 28, 2015

I Have No Choice But to Play Continuity Cop

Hello and welcome to the last day of February! Thank goodness this horrible month is coming to an end. Got to agree with Ed Weathers's opinion of February myself, but as always, YMMV.

We've all seen many times that when given the choice between Show and Tell, Ellanjay choose Tell every time, only occasionally attempting to Show. This is in defiance of one of the great writing commandments "Show, don't tell." Granted one of the things you learn about writing is that there are exceptions to every rule and you should use what works for you or the story, not follow a rule unto death. But when you're talking about action-packed exciting stuff that would actually be a helluva a lot more interesting to read about rather than yet another round of Exciting!TV Watching!Action...yeah, kind of think it would be nice to, y'know, actually see the stuff mentioned in the opening paragraph instead of Ellanjay fast-forwarding through it so Judd can whine about how it's so hard to survive during the Apocalypse.

Okay, I thought I'd warn you a little bit about this week's selection. Since, I don't know, Consistency ran over their dog when they were kids, Ellanjay really hate it and the time scale gets really screwed up in this chapter, screwed up enough that my brain just crashes several times trying to make sense of it all. Like I said to aunursa in a previous comment, if Ellanjay had put forth any effort on plotting or characterization, I'd be willing to forgive screw-ups involving time because speaking as a writer, it's hard to keep track of time in a novel and most writers have made one or two screw-ups regarding it. But Ellanjay haven't given me anything to latch onto, anything to love or care about, so there's nothing to distract from such a glaring screw-up.

As you guessed, the first viewpoint character for this chapter is Judd aka mini-Rayford. The first paragraph mentions that it's been months since he and Lionel arrived at the Ohio safe house and things have changed dramatically. The GC are redoubling their efforts to ferret out RTCs. As a result, it's becoming more difficult for food to get in and with an influx of refugees at the hideout, everyone's cramped and hungry.

Now if this was a truly well-written young adult series like Susan Beth Pfeffer's Last Survivors series all this discomfort would be delved into. Like I mentioned earlier when talking about screw-ups, if the writer puts forth the effort to craft a compelling story with characters I can care about, I'm willing to overlook screw-ups and just go with the story. Susan Beth Pfeffer's Last Survivors series is a good example of that. I have only a elementary level knowledge of physics, but I know the event that sets off everything in that series (an asteroid smashes into the moon, pushing it closer to Earth, screwing everything up) is unlikely to happen; if an asteroid did strike the moon, it'd probably just knock off a chunk and send it crashing to Earth and unlike what certain movies will tell you an piece of space debris need not be humungous in order to render life on this planet, moot.

But anyway, in spite of the scientific flaws of Pfeffer's story, I was still able to get into and feel for the characters simply because she immerses herself in their heads and does a good job of making their reactions to said events feel believable and human. She makes you feel what it's like to be cold, hungry, and scared all the time.

Ellanjay, as you probably guessed, don't put forth one-eighth the effort Pfeffer does. Rather than delve into the hunger issue, how people don't focus and behave at their best when they're hungry and scared, which is a shame. A shrinking food supply lends itself to great dramatic potential with people having to endure rationing and wondering if they should take in every RTC refugee because the more people they shelter, the more people they have to feed, and whatnot.

But as you probably guessed, the food issue is barely touched on as Judd is far more concerned about the fact that with all these people here, he :gasps: no longer has full control over the computer, making it harder for him to talk with Vicki. Who would imagine that something as piddling and insignificant as the Apocalypse would interfere with Judd's efforts to get laid?

There's a brief mention about Lionel being depressed over the fact that since he only has one arm, he can't help out with the work that is needed to keep the hideout going. As you guessed, this is told from Judd's perspective rather than from the perspective of the person actually dealing with this shit (Lionel). Never say that Ellanjay don't know how to pick the most compelling POV from which to tell a story.

But Judd remains optimistic.

Despite the negatives, Judd knew God was still working. Another plague had hit the earth, turning rivers into rushing floods of blood. Judd had traveled past a nearby river every night on his way to the construction area, and the gurgling blood and horrible smell was sickening.

If by working, you mean ensuring that no life of any kind (plant or animal) survives, then I'd agree with you, Judd, that God is indeed working.

And in this little paragraph, we get one of many continuity screw-ups, because seriously, I distinctly remember from previous books that the waters had all turned to blood. In fact, I think this is the third time that plague has happened. First there was Wormwood, then apparently Ellanjay forgot about Wormwood because they turn the waters to blood again in another book, and now there's this little mention. And if you guessed they don't talk about all the mass starvation/dehydration coming about as a result of all water on the planet being undrinkable, congratulations, you know your Ellanjay-related tropes. :sigh: We could be reading Shakespeare right now.

Seriously, aunursa, you wanna help me out with your encyclopedic knowledge? Just how many times does God make water undrinkable or turn it into blood in this series?

As a result of the bloody water, the GC citizens are more concerned with such piddling concerns as staying alive rather than hunting down the unmarked. No word on how many of said citizens are currently languishing in tent hospitals and the like with many dropping dead every minute, but hey, I suppose I can't expect that level of detail from Ellanjay.

But Judd is soon busy, reading an email from Chang. Chang (and yes, I do wish it was about this Chang)talks about something that happened to the guy whom everyone in the series, good or evil, acknowledges his greatness and circles around him (for he is the sun of their world, while they can only be mere satellites), by which I mean St. Rayford.

I've mentioned earlier, but as bad as this series is, I am genuinely surprised that the series isn't just the Kids constantly witnessing what Our Buck and St. Rayford are up to and lavishly praising them. Granted there's a little of that, but still, there have been whole books in which Our Buck and St. Rayford are barely mentioned. I also wonder if maybe Tim LaHaye wasn't breathing down Jerry Jenkins's neck as much, seeing as his Mary Sue surrogate (Buck) gets more screen-time than LaHaye's (Rayford).

But anyway, Rayford was in Argentina, the GC, showed up, and if you guessed once again, Angels (in this case, Christopher, Nahum, and Caleb) show up and save their asses, again congratulations on being familiar with Ellanjay tropes. If you also guessed that the angelic visitors accomplished Jack when you think about it, congrats again. Basically all the angels do is show up and tell the GC to leave. After the GC leaves, so do the angels. Never say Ellanjay don't have the finger on the pulse of today's youth. Today's youth hate excitement of all kinds.

After reading Chang's email, Judd is all mopey, thinking about how he wants to get back to Vicki. He reads a verse from Romans 5 , specifically verses 3-5, but in a rare realistic reaction, after reading it, Judd's like, "I don't want to build more character. I want to be with Vicki."

Then we cut to Vicki's section. Thought I'd warn you ahead of times: this is where the time scale gets seriously screwed up, so brace yourselves.

Vicki has been kept busy updating the website, but she is not left unmarked by suffering. She too, has been forced to cut back on her computer/phone time, which means she can't have dirty cybersex/phonesex with Judd.

Vicki takes comfort from the first few verses of the Book of James. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it's probably a good thing she didn't read the rest of the Book of James, more specifically Chapter Two. Because James was all about the Social Gospel and is the source of the infamous verse that goes "Faith without works is dead." So yeah, if Vicki had read any further, some heretical ideas might have taken root.

But shortly after this, we come to the one line which makes my brain crash gears.

A few days before Ryan’s eight-month birthday, which Vicki and the others celebrated with gusto, a vehicle pulled into camp.

If you're wondering, it's those first few words that make my brain crash. Eight months have passed in this verse?! Seriously, eight months?! Because I distinctly remember reading about Ryan Victor's birth in this book. At the time, my brain crashed trying to figure out how long Cheryl had been pregnant, because given how little care Ellanjay pay to such details as pregnancy, I found myself wondering if Ryan was a Micro-Preemie because I couldn't make heads of tails over how much time had passed because Cheryl seemed to jump from "six months away from giving birth" to "currently in labor."

In addition to the "Eight Months?!" issue, earlier in Vicki's section, there were other details brought up that made me go "Huh?" If you're wondering, Cheryl has been sharing her baby with Tom and Josey, but lately, Cheryl has become more distant, staying away from Bible studies and staying away from the Fogartys whenever they have her baby. But that leads into this puzzling paragraph:

By the time Ryan started to crawl, Cheryl had moved into a run-down shack by herself farthest away from the others. At each milestone in the baby’s life—his first tooth, his first haircut, his first word, which was dada—Cheryl withdrew more and more.

This threw me, making me wonder if Ryan Victor was some sort of freakish prodigy baby, but I took the liberty of doing a Google Search to be sure, and apparently it's not within the realm of impossibility for a baby to be crawling and talking a eight months. The talking one threw me more than the other ones in that paragraph. As said before, I haven't actually had a kid, but I know enough about infant development to know that there's usually a window in which these developments usually happen. Like the average age in which they start to cut teeth is around six months (though some start earlier or later) and I could accept a baby crawling a eight months, I thought talking was something that came later. Oh well...

Like I said before, I'd be more willing to let continuity issues slid if they put forth any effort into their work, especially when it comes to issues of infant development, because, speaking from personal experience, babies are hard characters to write. Most character development comes about as a result of characters interacting with other characters, but babies can't really interact with other characters in an appreciable way. For much of their life, all they can do is cry, lie around, and wait for someone to take care of them, so it can be tempting to forget about them for pages at a time. That's one of the criticisms I've heard of Jean Auel's latest book. In the previous book, her protagonist, Ayla, had a baby and many wondered how this would effect her life, but it turns out it doesn't. Ayla's baby could be easily played by a couch cushion because her presence doesn't affect anything that happens in the book. Tip for aspiring writers: if you're going to have a baby as a character, remember that they do exist and even though they can't go off on adventures of their own, their existence should have an affect on the plot or the parent of said character.

But anyway, for those of you craving to experience a popular Ellanjay trope (bringing back a character who has been gone long enough you could be forgiven for having forgotten existed in the first place), Chad shows up again and much of the rest of the chapter is taken up with his conversation with Vicki. I know Chad is supposed to come across as romantic and such, but he still comes across as kind of pervy, given that we don't know how big the age gap is between him and Vicki. Granted by now Vicki is around the age of 20, so I can't scream, "Statutory!" and it's not unusual for couples to have age gaps between them (my mom is seven years older than my dad, but they met and married as adults), but still something in Chad's manner and bearing squicks me.

Anyway the end of the chapter can be summed up as this: Chad hits on Vicki, Vicki politely refuses, and Chad having realized he is, at best, a minor character in this series backs off, realizing she and Judd are meant to be together. The chapter ends with Vicki finding out that Chad died after a high-speed chase with the GC. Chad was apparently trying to get to Judd so he could bring Vicki and him together, but since Ellanjay still need to pad out the book even more, despite being richer than most African nations, all Vicki can do is sigh and decide that she and Judd will be together when they are sure that the writers God wants them to be. I could point out that in a year, when TurboJesus returns, this time packing heat, Vicki can be with Judd all she likes, but my guess is she wants to be with him before the Glorious Appearing because she knows after that, there's no sex for anyone, married or single, gay or straight. Can't say I blame her for wanting to get laid before God takes it away for everyone. I suppose using that logic, Vicki should have jumped Chad's bones the instant he walked in, but as if, Ellanjay would let a main character commit so egregious a sin as :gasp: :choke: :pearlclutch: premarital sex. Again, more and more I'm starting to think there's a reason Beverly LaHaye spends all her time in Washington D.C., making a career out of telling women that they shouldn't have careers. I suppose I should call her on her hypocrisy, but frankly if I was married to Tim LaHaye, I'd look for any excuse to get away from him too.

Well, I read through this and it looks like it'll be another one chapter snark this week. Wonder if that's going to be a thing from here on out, me just doing one chapter snarks. It'll probably depend on whether stuff happens or not. But I have been doing this crummy little blog for nearly five years and I know the nature of my posts have changed in that period. I'm often embarrassed by my earlier ones, by all the spelling errors and all the overlooked snark material, but hey, we all have to start somewhere and I'd like to think that while I'm not as proficient as Fred, that my snarks are still worth reading.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Context Matters

Like I said, it gets harder and harder to work up the strength to go a few roads with Ellanjay every week. But tonight I have the Oscars to look forward to. Don't care about any of the nominees, but it's being hosted by Neil Patrick Harris so I get to spend an evening alternating between lusting after him and cursing the Heavens for making him Gay. Dammit, Neil Patrick Harris! You're funny, charming, can sing, dance, and act...why do you have to be gay?!

Then of course, I look at pictures of Neil Patrick Harris's equally adorable family and feel guilty for wishing he'd somehow get Amnesia and forget he's Gay.

Okay, now that I've embarrassed myself by revealing to the Slacktiverse that I long for a Gay man's tender touch, let's get back to business.

As a writer/thinking human being, I do like to try to get into the minds of others, no matter how repellant, and figure out where they're coming from. Though in Ellanjay's case, I admit, I spend more time trying to figure out what they were trying to do, given that they fail at everything.

Anyway, my point is, I keep wondering what the hell they were trying to say with last week's line that made me see red about how Israel must confess a specific sin in order to be blessed. Do they realize just how fucking anti-Semitic that sounds? I know they'd be shocked and appalled by all the times I and Fred have referred to them as anti-Semitics. Ellanjay's thinking is probably similar to the kind of thinking seen by a lot of racists which goes along these lines: Racists attend cross-burnings. I have never attended a cross-burning. Therefore, I am not racist.

But I'm not completely sure so I'm wondering if someone more versed in the arguments fundies use can tell me: a) What were they trying to say with the specific sin line? and b) How Ellanjay can justify that it's totally not anti-Semitism?

I'll even provide the line to help you out:

“Israel must confess a specific national sin against the Messiah before we will be blessed. In Hosea 5:15, God says he will ‘go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offense, and seek my face; in their affliction they will seek me earnestly.’

Now that we've got that bit of business out of the way, let's see what this week has to offer.

Sam and Lev are climbing up a high place together. Sam is doing a very nice version of "Lotta bad things can happen out there to your body, your eternal soul...we can offer you protection, my good man."

Lev and Sam look out at a stage where a bunch of GC and a bunch of unsaved are gathered. The GC is committing such eeevils as making a spring of water appear in the desert and provided bread to the hungry and thirsty gathered. Sam is all scornful, once again making the remark about how the GC are doing counterfeit miracles, when suddenly, people in the crowd start dropping dead. Apparently some freaky Dust Devil has appeared and the crowd starts running in fear. The spring of water turns to blood and we get this delightful passage:

The chopper started, and a cloud of dust kicked up and covered the area. Sam strained to see through the binoculars. When the sand cleared, Lev let out a shriek. Bodies dotted the path back to Petra. The stage was gone. There were no Peacekeepers or vehicles or anything that had been there only moments ago.

Y'know I can't help but think of that noxious "Angels in the Alley" glurge, ably taken down by Snopes here. The logic behind the LB-verse is similar. They keep blaming all the misery and suffering on Satan and every time God intervenes, they say a prayer of thanks, but in this section, it's God's fault, not Satan's that these people died. He was the one who sent the dust devil and poisoned the water, thus ensuring that the people who gathered there died horribly and will burn in Hell forever. If He had left them alone, there's a chance they might have converted and be on the side of right when TurboJesus comes back, packing heat. So yeah, not exactly a ringing endorsement of God's love.

If you guessed immediately after seeing all this, Lev decides he loves Big Brother, congratulations on being familiar with Ellanjay tropes. I admit I pretty much saw Lev's capitulation coming, but at the same time, there was part of me that hoped that somehow he'd escape like Taylor and Hasina. But so much for that.

The section ends with Sam walking Lev through The Prayer and we cut to Vicki.

Now, I know many of you, including myself, have pointed out many times that even though they're living through the End of Days, the protagonists (with the exception of Ryan "Butt Monkey" Daley) aren't really suffering much. Well that simply isn't true, because according to the next section, Vicki has to resort to :gasp: :choke: communicating with Judd every night via email and instant messaging, while only getting to talk with him on the phone three times a week. It's like Kurtz said, "The horror...the horror..."

Judd, being the Nice Guy that he is, complains about Lionel and how his injuries are slowing them down, as though Lionel hacked off his arm not because he was in life-threatening danger, but to inconvenience Judd. I admit I'm exaggerating Judd's comments a little for comedic effect, but not by much. Here's what he said, if you don't believe me.

In one e-mail, Judd described his thoughts about Lionel. I feel awful that I resent him. I know there’s no part of him that wanted that to happen, and he’s been through so much pain during the healing process. Yesterday I awoke out of a dead sleep and heard him gasping for breath. I thought he was dying, Vick, but when I got to him, he was crying. He said his arm really hurt, and he was just sad about the things he’d never be able to do again.

All that must make it even harder for you, Vicki wrote.

Yeah. Deep down I know that what happened is not anybody’s fault. But when I think of not being able to be there with you, all those ugly feelings come back.


I know Ellanjay would probably sooner bathe in battery acid than read Doonesbury, but whatever your opinion about the strips' politics, even they knew that losing a limb is a traumatic event that lends itself to a great story.

Anyway, Judd and Vicki eventually get on the phone with each other. Vicki is all "God protected you and Lionel from the GC and if He wants us to be together, we'll be together, and that if he just wants them to be friends, then that's okay too."

Judd basically says the same thing that if God wants them together, they'll be together, and I'm feeling the strongest urge to post this cartoon from xkcd. Yeah, it's probably only tangentially related but humor me here.

The conversation ends with Judd saying that with God in control, there's no way he can blame Lionel for them not being together, and after reading that line, I really hope Lionel shivs Judd in the eye. Because seriously, Lionel, your friends suck.

Vicki hangs up and reads Sam's latest blog post. For those of you wondering, Lev's mother too has abandoned the Faith of her Fathers and become a good RTC. Vicki then decides to read Sam's blog post to the rest of her friends and the majority of her section is taken up with this. Yeah, because the only thing better than Exciting!TV Watching!Action and Exciting!Email!Action is Exciting!Reading!Action. Never say Ellanjay aren't in touch with the youth of today.

Anyway in addition to the stuff Lev and Sam mentioned at the beginning of the chapter, Nicky's miracle worker also temporarily blocked the sun with a cloud and turned a microphone stand into a snake and back again, in addition to creating the spring of water and feeding the crowd bread from a basket that never emptied. Truly their evil knows no bounds!

But don't worry, for those of you confused as to how feeding the hungry is evil, Sam's blog post explains for us.

“‘Do you see the mockery of this? Miracles God performed in the Bible were produced by this faker to gain people’s trust. And they fell for it big-time. The man, or being, whatever he was, said he was a disciple of Carpathia. And while his behavior had been nice up to that point, he then said that Carpathia’s patience had run out and that he would administer Carpathia’s mark. He simply pointed at people, and they had the mark of Nicolae.

Afterwards, as though Ellanjay sensed my critiques about how the villains aren't being that evil, the miracle worker kills a group of followers then resurrects them. Then things become seriously confusing. I thought Ellanjay were trying to have the bad guys Kick the Dog, but what follows...yeah, you have to see it for yourselves.

“‘I have to tell you, Lev and I saw this cloud moving straight for the stage and audience, but we didn’t know what it was. Abdullah said the man onstage told the people the cloud contained snakes, vipers with a deadly venom. That’s when the spring of water turned to blood and the man called the people fools and said Nicolae wanted them dead. He told them to run but warned that the vipers would kill them before they reached Petra.

“‘And that is what happened. The cloud caught up to the people, and there was a line of bodies in the sand. Abdullah was sitting in the helicopter with two of his friends when the evil man appeared before them. The wonder-worker didn’t open his mouth, but they heard him say, “I know who you are. I know you by name. Your god is weak and your faith a sham, and your time is limited. You shall surely die.” ’”

I can't be the only one going "Da Fug just happened here?!" It becomes even more confusing when Sam brings up the Dust Devil and that after it swept through, everything in the desert--the stage, the vehicles, and the people--were gone. Sam and Abdullah talked to Token Jew. Token Jew told them that it was demonic apparition they saw, which only makes things even more confusing. What purpose was this apparition supposed to serve? Was it supposed to win converts to either Zod or Satan's side? Or did Ellanjay just want something creepy to happen but they botched it because they suck as writers?

Sam goes on to say that Token Jew told him that God is doing his winnowing work or in other words, punting those who won't kiss his ass. So it's pretty much like aunursa said in a previous comment about how God created people he knew would never believe and is now killing them for not believing.

Token Jew then quotes from Romans. They don't specify chapter and verse, so I had to do some digging to find it, because I believe in context, but to the best of my knowledge, he quoted the last few verses of Romans 11. As you've guessed, if you actually read the other parts of this chapter, Paul's opinion is more nuanced than Token Jew's. I pick on Paul for being a misogynistic ass at times, but even he wasn't as bad as Ellanjay. Most of the really misogynistic stuff wasn't written by him and he has more respect for the Jewish people than Ellanjay. This isn't surprising, seeing as Paul was originally a Jew and therefore knew its traditions inside and out, but still have to admit, while I have my issues with Paul, I'd much rather follow his version of God than Ellanjay's.

Vicki's section ends and we cut back to Sam.

Apparently now everyone at Petra has the Zod-mark, which is good. Now they no longer have to worry about Token Jew siccing God on their asses for not obeying every word that comes from his mouth. So we have a nice theocratic dictatorship out in the city of refuge.

Token Jew decides to preach a sermon. :groans: Not again! Make the bad men stop with this overused trope, Mommy!

Okay, maybe before we get to the sermon, I need to bring up Chaim's little speech he does as an opener.

“Tsion believes the Lord has told him that no more indecision reigns in the camp. You may confirm that by looking about you. Is there anyone in this place without the mark of the believer? Anyone anywhere? We will not pressure or condemn you. This is just for our information.”

Yeah, it's just for informational purposes. There's no way this will be used against's all perfectly safe, so long as you do exactly what Token Jew says.

Anyway, Token Jew starts his sermon by citing Isaiah. I read ahead and apparently, Token Jew's sermon is entirely made up of quotes from the Old Testament prophets, even though they preached constantly about the Social Gospel which I thought Ellanjay considered a bunch of Islamo-Commie-Fascist nonsense.

Once again, when they quote Isaiah, they don't specify chapter and verse, forcing me to fire up Google to figure out which verses they were mentioning. Can't help but wonder if their target audience would be willing or able to go to that amount of effort in order to understand the book. It's almost as though for all their talk about how it's important to read your Bible every day to better discern God's will for your life that Ellanjay don't really mean it. When they say "Read your Bible every day," they probably mean, "Read the parts we like and don't even think of reading any further lest heretical ideas take root."

Anyway, turns out Token Jew is quoting from Isaiah 10 specifically a few verses here and there, 20-23 and 27, for those who care. It's probably a good thing that Token Jew didn't read the beginning of that chapter. Who knows what ideas his foolish subjects loyal citizens might get?

He then quotes from Zechariah, again without citing chapter and verse, but I believe it's Zechariah 13, specifically the last two verses. And if you guessed the rest of the chapter fails to make the singular point that Ellanjay want it to make, congratulations for being a thinking human being who takes into account context.

Token Jew ends his sermon by preaching a few verses out of Ezekiel. Unlike the previous examples, he does actually cite a chapter, Ezekiel 37 aka the Valley of Dry Bones chapter. Granted Token Jew doesn't bother to supply verse numbers, but it's a start. Since I'm a gentile/amateur theologian, I can't be certain how Jewish people or biblical scholars interpret this chapter, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Ezekiel is saying what a lot of the Jewish prophets said: If you follow the Law and keep to the Faith, you will be restored. I'm also going to assume that when Ezekiel wrote said chapter, he also probably wasn't saying, "At some indeterminate point in the future, TurboJesus will kill all your enemies." Thank goodness we have Ellanjay to tell us how the Jewish people/scholars have been interpreting their own scripture wrong for what appears to be countless millennia. What would they do without him...

Anyway, that's it for this week. I know, I know, another one chapter snark, but hey, felt this one was getting hella long and I try to keep them at a reasonable length as a courtesy not only to my sanity, but to my faithful readers.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Exterminate All the Brutes!

I know, I know, I'm late, but truthfully, it's getting harder and harder to find the strength of will needed to go a few rounds with Ellanjay every week. Firedrake's right; once you've made it to the Epic Pig Ride, it's all downhill from here. Now instead of mind-melting insanity, it's the same stupid,dull lectures over and over again.

But I did vow to make it to the end and I've made it this far. Might as well get to it. So let's end the Self-Pity Party and put on some cheesy montage music to get us all pumped, shall we?

Anyway, last week ended with us learning something new, courtesy of Ellanjay. According to Ellanjay, when Muslims force people to convert or die and say things like, "Islam or the Sword!" that's evil and wrong. However, it is fine and dandy for Christians to say, "Jesus or the sword!" and kill those who don't convert. :grinds teeth: The things this series has taught us.

The chapter begins with Sam feeling really bad about all those people buried alive and cast into Hell because they had the nerve to complain to Token Jew about the theocracy he's establishing out in Petra. As you probably guessed, Sam only briefly touches on this before going back to the important work of trying to rack up more converts on his fuselage. So he goes to talk to Lev. For those of you who had a rage-induced memory blackout, Lev's father and sister were among those that Zod buried alive.

Lev, continuing to be all inscrutable and Jewish, has the nerve to be all upset over losing cherished family members, asking "Why God would do this?" and such. Sam makes a token display of sympathy, saying he's sorry for his loss. But Lev still doesn't take the bait and decides that he wants to find some of Nicky's miracle workers and see if they can bring back his father and sister, which is a reasonable step to take, seeing as yeah, the miracle workers have demonstrated the ability to bring back the dead, rather than letting them burn in Hell like Zod intended.

Sam's all "The miracle workers are fakes and God loves you!" but Lev has the nerve to respond by saying, “How can God love me if he takes away my father?”

It's a perfectly cromulent question and as you guessed, Sam's response is the kind of response that makes you do an Boondock Saints F-bomb supercut.

“Your father spoke out against God’s leaders. God is cutting out those who don’t believe. You must follow him before it is too late.”

Yeah, it's such a shame God created people He knew would never believe then was forced to kill them for not believing. I mean it's not like God is omnipotent or omniscient or omnibenevolent. Because God is not any of these things, then you understand why he (and his servant, Token Jew) couldn't simply win over dissidents by, I don't know, rearranging the stars in the Heavens to spell out "Jesus is Lord!" or anything like that. God simply had no choice but to "Exterminate all the Brutes!" Because as said before, he simply isn't omnipotent or any of the other omnnis listed.

Now if you don't mind, I'm going to post a completely unrelated link and step outside and scream until my throat is raw and blistered.


Okay now that I've gotten that out of my system, can we all agree that there's no doubt that Token Jew has established a theocracy out in the desert with him as the Grand High Inquisitor whose word is law and if you dissent, he brings in God on air support?

Like I said before, the only problems RTCs have with dictatorships/theocracies is when they follow the wrong person/religion. Nicky is evil; therefore, a dictatorship under his rule is evil. Whereas Token Jew is good; therefore a dictatorship under his rule is good..

Anyway Sam's infuriating section ends with Token Jew giving a speech about false prophets.

If you're wondering we cut to Judd and finally the Great Debate between Token Jew and Leon Fortunado takes place. As you probably guessed, the debate, such as it is, is pure weaksauce. Leon is all "Nicky is Lord!" and dares God to strike him down if he's lying. And even though RTCs are big fans of the Atheist Professor glurge and that if God did strike down Leon, it would be a powerful witness, but as you probably guessed, nothing happens. So in addition to not being any of the Omnis, God also isn't bigger than the Boogeyman. Damn Veggie Tales lied to me!

Token Jew's argument, if you're wondering, is essentially "Jesus is Lord and there are 109 prophecies that say so!" And if you guessed Token Jew would harp on and on about all the atrocities Nicky has committed while tacitly ignoring the ones his God has committed, well congratulations for being a longtime reader of this blog! Wish I could say it came with perks, but I'm afraid not.

“Mr. Fortunato,” Tsion calmly said, “would you tell the viewers how many people have died by the guillotine because of your loving god? Would you admit that Global Community troops and equipment were swallowed by the earth near Petra, and that two bombs and a deadly missile struck here, yet no one has been injured and no structure jeopardized? Will you not also admit that Global Community Security and Intelligence Peacekeeping forces have spent millions of Nicks on attacking all traffic in and out of this place, and not one plane, flier, or volunteer has been scratched?”

I keep waiting for Leon to say, "And will you tell how many people have died at the hands of your loving god? How many have died as a result of poisoned water, repeated asteroid strikes, earthquakes, nukes, lion-headed snake-tailed flying people killers and who knows what else? I mean if your God is as loving as you claim, couldn't He witness to his flock in a way that doesn't involve repeatedly killing them and condemning a sizeable portion to a place of never-ending torment?"

But I have a feeling I'll be waiting till the end of time for any of Ellanjay's antagonists to give that kind of response. Because as I've said and many others have as well, Ellanjay have insulated themselves in a nice Criticism-proof bubble for so long that they don't know what actual criticism sounds like. That's why all the debates between Believers and Non-Believers are pure weaksauce.

Yeah, I feel a need to post Matthew 23 right now. I must particularly insist on verses 23-24.

Judd's section ends with a weird little passage that I'm guessing Ellanjay put in there in order to prove that they're totally not anti-Semites even though their deepest desire is for the Jews to stop being Jewish, which most would consider to be anti-Semitism.

Anyway, Leon basically says "Didn't the Jews kill Jesus?" thus allowing for Ellanjay to attempt to prove they're not anti-Semites by having their mouthpiece character say that the Gentiles did it. In addition to bolster his argument, they have Token Jew quote from the Old Testament. Token Jew quotes from Zechariah, specifically Zechariah 12:10 and Hosea 5:15.

I posted links to the entire chapters because being an English major/thinking human being, I sort of believe that context is important and that quote mining is bad. But basically Token Jew is yanking out those verses and using him to bolster his argument which is this:

“The offense? Rejecting the messiahship of Jesus. We repent of that by pleading for his return. He will come yet again and set up his earthly kingdom, and not only I but also the Word of God itself predicts the doom of the evil ruler of this world when that kingdom is established.”

And since earlier on, Token Jew specifically said that "Israel must confess a specific sin against the Messiah before we will be blessed," it should be abundantly clear: Jews, it's all your fault. All the pogroms, inquisitions, and to top it all off, the Holocaust, it's all your fault for being so FUCKING INSCRUTABLE AND JEWISH!

:goes outside and screams some more:

For those of you wondering, I didn't put that line about "Israel and the specific sin" in Token Jew's mouth. It's right there in the FUCKING BOOK IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE ME! towards the bottom of 3467 in the eBook. I know this is the standard "He beats me but it's my fault for making him angry in the first place and I'm real sorry, Mister Lord, for making you so angry in the first place!" abused spouse logic they've used before, but the way they used it this time, implying that all the millions who've died over the centuries...yeah, for a moment all I could see was red. About the only way this could be worse was if they said something about how the Jews were asking for it what with their insistence on walking around in the dark in that sexy miniskirt.

Judd's section ends with him saying that Leon never answered any of Token Jew's arguments, again tacitly ignoring that Token Jew didn't answer any of Leon's arguments either.

And we cut back to Sam. As you probably guessed, the "debate" so to speak, has now degenerated with Token Jew interrupting Leon by saying "Jesus is Lord" every time Leon tries to get in a word edgewise. Remember kids, interrupting someone isn't a sign of a weak argument; it's proof that you're a manly Alpha Male who doesn't need to actually know the opposition's argument before knocking it to the ground. Because that's exactly what your heroes, Jesus and Paul believed. None of that wussy crap of actually listening to your opponents, hearing their story, and meeting them where they are. Yeah, I'm going to post this link. Once you've read it, you'll understand why. List of Fallacies.

Anyway, the debate finally ends when the GC cuts off Token Jew's mic, proving how eeevil the GC is in that they don't allow freedom of speech/dissent. They cut off his mic after allowing him to spew out his dissent for several pages, unlike Token Jew, who has God bury anyone who disagrees with him. There's clearly a difference.

Token Jew gives a few words to his people about y'know about Being wary of False Prophets who twist scripture to their own ends.

Sam walks off to check on Lev. Lev is clearly shaken by what has happened. Lev talks about how the GC will still let them take the Mark, but that he needs to stay with his mother and look after her, now that his father and sister are gone. Sam, remembering the tenet of evangelism which is Always Be Closing, is basically like "What will it take to get you to take home a brand spankin' new Jesus today?!"

But Lev continues to be all inscrutable and Jewish, still says he has questions regarding his sister and father. The chapter ends with him deciding to climb a high place, saying that if what Sam says is true about the GC, he'll convert.

And that's where I'll leave you this week. I know, only one chapter, but this one really got under my skin and besides this snark's hella long as is.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Resistance is Futile

I know I'm late, but after last week, I wasn't exactly champing at the bit to go a few more rounds with Ellanjay's protagonists, given that they're incapable of creating a protagonist who isn't an asshole. But then again, given that none of the members of the YTF are anywhere near as awful as Paul Stepola, maybe I should count my blessings, bite the bullet, and get to it. I do promise, given the outbursts from last week, to cut down on the profanity, but as always, I feel free to rescind that promise every time it gets to be too damn much. Besides science backs my love of profanity. Now I'm sure some fancy-pants intellectual will tell me that the study in question is more nuanced then I think, but hey, anything that justifies me being a potty-mouth.

One last thing, I took the liberty of using Kindle's "Search this book" feature. If you guessed that Dr. Rose's name is never mentioned again even though we're only 54% through the book, congratulations, you're a long time reader of this blog who correctly surmised that the asshole protagonists won't give another thought to the fact that this guy, who went out of his way to help them, is burning in Hell for all eternity.

Now that I've given all my disclaimers, let's put on some Pat Benatar, and tear Ellanjay a new one this week.

Okay, in a stroke of realism, the chapter begins with Lionel experiencing some phantom limb pain. As said in a previous comment, I doubt Ellanjay are going to put too much work in demonstrating Lionel's struggles now that he's lost an arm. We're lucky if we get anything similar to the struggles of Jaime Lannister in A Storm of Swords. For those not familiar with the Game of Thrones series, Jaime loses his dominant hand in the third book and pretty much finds himself having to relearn how to do everything, including feed and dress himself with his other hand. In addition to feeding and dressing himself, he pretty much has to relearn how to fight with a sword because George RR Martin knows enough about sword-fighting to know that you can't just switch to the other hand after a lifetime of training and practice with the dominant one. So in short, Jaime pretty much goes from being one of the best swordsman in Westeros to practically being a beginner again after the loss of his hand. But okay, I've pretty much accepted that Ellanjay are nowhere near willing to put in the kind of effort that George RR Martin does, so let's get on with the story.

Basically, if you're wondering, Judd and Lionel are no longer at Dr. Rose's house, but another YTF safe house. If you're wondering why the hell they haven't just used Dr. Rose's car to drive the rest of the way to Wisconsin so Judd can be reunited with Designated Love Interest Vicki, well that's because the only thing Ellanjay love as much as God is money, so they seek any excuse to pad this sucker out.

But as much as they love padding, Ellanjay miss an opportunity to do so, by speeding past Lionel's struggles to adjust to be one-handed. That would have both added to the page and been interesting, but it would also involve research, so yeah, probably too much to hope for that they would write about this in a semi-realistic fashion.

Lionel not only regained his strength but also learned to function with only one hand. Eating wasn’t a problem since Lionel could use one hand with most of the food. The doctor and everyone else in the new safe house had been amazed at what Lionel had done.

I will give a little leeway in that Lionel didn't lose his dominant hand, but still gotta question Ellanjay's assertion that Lionel has no trouble adjusting to eating and living with one hand. Trying using a knife and fork when you only have one hand or putting on your shirt and pants with one hand. But again, if they really showed the characters' suffering as a result of the Apocalypse that would cut down on all the haw-hawing they like to do.

We then cut to Vicki who is engaged in Exciting!Thinking!Action. Basically she thinks about all the raids the Tribbles have been doing and how some of the Tribbles have been captured and killed as a result. It's a good thing Ellanjay opted to have Vicki tell us what's been going on, instead of showing us a raid. The excitement might have raised the readers' blood pressure a few beats.

Anyway, after Vicki's brief appearance, Ellanjay decide to cut to Petra for some reason. Sam has spent his days, walking around, working on his blog "Petra Diaries," and trying to convert his friend, Lev Taubman. As you no doubt guessed from his name, Lev is all stubborn and Jewish and has yet to accept Jesus as his savior. He, like all other Jewish characters in this series, also manages to have a Jewy McJew kind of name, despite the fact that he was originally from Chicago (his family moved to Israel just before the Rapture). I sometimes wonder if there's any bad Jewish fiction where while the Jewish characters have traits outside of being Jewish, the Christian characters all walk around with names like Christian McIlovejesus and have no discernible traits outside of doing weird, non-Jewish stuff like not circumcising their baby boys. Turnabout is fair play, after all.

Anyway, Lev and his family have been hearing about how Nicky's healers have very eeeevilly used their supernatural powers to save people so they won't die and burn in Hell for all eternity and they've decided they want to meet up with one of the miracle workers. Sam, of course, is all "You can't go! Nicky's evil and you need Jesus!" But Lev, continuing to display sense (that will probably promptly disappear after the inevitable conversion scene), is like "You're so close-minded." He then mentions that Sam probably won't even come to the debate between Leon Fortunado and Token Jew. I suppose given how debates usually play out in this series, where they're either rushed through or involve displays of logic that wouldn't sway a second-grader, I probably will be disappointed if and when the debate comes, but hey, after reading over thirty books in this series, I'm used to disappointment. I've come to accept that Conservapedia acquired their masterful debating skills from crappy RTC fiction like this.

Anyway, Sam walks away from this conversation all Emo and wondering why Lev can't seem to love Big Brother the way he does and the chapter ends with a cameo from Abdullah. Given that he's described as a friend of Rayford Steele, I'm going to assume that this is the same Abdullah Smith from the adult books.

Abdullah's advice is basically "Keep praying." While I'll admit that the message he gives is pretty standard RTC boiler-plate about how you should pray without ceasing that Jesus will open your friend's eyes, it still feels kind of wrong. As said many times before, if all this is Zod trying to get everybody's attention, why doesn't he just rearrange the stars in the sky or something to spell out "Tim LaHaye was right and you should buy all his books!" in whatever language he wants. Because even though I can see a conversion story coming at me, what if Ellanjay, in a shocking reversal, decide not to have Lev realize that "Jesus is Lord!" and start lamenting how foolish he was to follow the teachings of the rabbis? Oh yeah, what will happen is that Lev will promptly die or he'll Kick The Dog and die. After which Samuel won't give a single thought to his former friend as he gets poked with pitchforks by fiery demons.

Anyway, second chapter, for those of you who missed him for some bizarre reason, we finally hear from Judd again. He and Lionel have spent the next few weeks in the safe house, bravely using the Internet to keep up with "The Petra Diaries" and anything else going on in the world. Yeah, it's really dull except for this one little bit in the opening paragraph.

Judd was glad Lionel was making progress, but each time Judd saw him, he felt somehow betrayed, like Lionel had hurt himself to keep Judd away from Vicki. Of course, Judd knew this wasn’t true, but something was going on inside him, a bitterness he knew had to be worked out.

I know the paragraph says that Judd is mad at Lionel for keeping him from Vicki, but yeah, I'm still wondering if I should dust off the "Ho Yay" tag. But then again, I am a drooling pervert who sees potential for Ho Yay everywhere especially in RTC fiction because it's so much more fun that way.

Plus yeah, Judd, Lionel hacked off his arm solely to inconvenience you.

Anyway, Judd briefly reminisces for the first time in God-only-knows-how-long about his slaughtered raptured family. But he quickly gets back to the important task of reading stuff from his friends because the trip up north is currently on hold, due to Ellanjay seeking any excuse to pad out the series bad road conditions and Lionel not being up to travelling.

Judd has received devotional information from Marshall. Judd is impressed by how Marshall is handling some tough topics like "Being Angry at God Because He Keeps Trying to Kill You" but for those of us still wanting to know how any of these prophecies can be reconciled with Ellanjay's assertion that "God loves humanity," keep wondering. As you probably guessed, we don't actually see how Marshall addresses these topics because Ellanjay always choose to tell rather than show.

In addition to Theodicy, apparently Marshall has also been talking about romantic relationships at the End of the World, leaving Judd to wonder whether he should continue to pursue Vicki or if being with her would take away from his duty to spread God's word. Yeah if it's anything the Tribbles are known for in this series, it's their belief in the Great Commission. While Nicky tries to win souls to his side by being compassionate, doing stuff that offends Jesus by visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, and clothing the naked, the Tribbles have been faithful followers of the one true God, following in the footsteps of Paul, Peter, and many others by sitting on their asses in the Hole-in-the-Ground.

Chang Wong then sends Judd an audio file of Nicky and Leon talking. As you can imagine, it's standard villain "Bwaah Bwaah!" talk that I really can't snark. Suffice to say, maybe Ellanjay will actually show this debate between Leon and Token Jew given that they mention it again. But I'm not going to hold my breath. As Fred Clark would point out, this wouldn't be the first time they've failed to deliver on a promised debate.

Anyway, about the only way to make the conversation between Leon and Nicky interesting is to give them whatever funny voices feel appropriate for their cartoonish personalities. I went with Boris Badenov and Skeletor if you're interested. I'll even let you decide which is which because I'm too bored to care.

Anyway after listening to that conversation, we cut away from Judd back into Petra with Sam.

Anyway all is not well at the Petra Compound. Token Jew and Chaim are trying to calm down the Unbelievers, but they, led by Lev's father, are simply refusing to surrender to the collective. They want to go meet up with the miracle worker. But Token Jew and Chaim won't let them. Lev's father does a variation on the words of the Israelites in the desert, but right now I'm totally with him. Yeah, I would be like "Who died and made you King of Kings?" to Token Jew and Chaim as well. Yeah, there's a reason theocracies generally don't work out to well for minorities.

Sam suddenly feels a need to direct Lev and his mother away from all this malcontents. And y'know I'd been thinking thus far that while this week's selection has been pretty stupid, it hasn't been anywhere near as rage-inducing as last week's. I know, you're laughing at my naivete.

As you can imagine what happens next is Token Jew preaches a sermon that moves the hearts of the unbelievers who bow and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Actually what happens is this:

Tsion quieted the crowd and spoke gravely. “Unless you agree with these, it would do well for you to depart from the presence of these wicked men, lest you be consumed in all their sins. From this point on, let it be known that the Lord has sent me to do all these works; I do not do them in my own interest. If these men do what is in their minds to do and God visits a plague of death on them, then all shall understand that these men have provoked the Lord.”

When Tsion finished, the rocks trembled. Lev and his mother fell back, and Sam grabbed them as a great hole opened under hundreds of people. The angry men and women were swallowed immediately, falling into a deep cavern. Lev’s father and sister screamed and plunged down, their arms waving as they fell. The wails echoed from the enormous hole, and just as suddenly as the earth had opened, it closed, and the people inside disappeared.

I'm afraid the only commentary I can type up would just consist of me screaming variations on "Fuck you, Ellanjay!" over and over again, so I'm going to bow out for this week, seeing as we've reached the end of the second chapter.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Hoping There's A Special Place in Hell for Such Awful Writers

Y'know how I said last week, that I was going to hold back on the rage and profanity, so when Dr. Rose is finally stuffed into the Fridge, my rage would be at its peak? Well for those of you who missed the rage and profanity last week, well this is the week it comes back. Just you wait, it's coming.

So Judd, being an idiot, sees Lionel missing and leaps to this conclusion: the GC found him, chopped off his arm, and dragged him away so they could guillotine him. Yeah, because that totally makes sense. The GC would totally go to all that trouble for one punk teenager as opposed to just emptying several rounds of ammunition into him.

Thankfully, Dr. Rose is here to serve as the bastion of sanity in this universe, pointing out to Judd that hello, there are only one set of tracks and a trail of blood.

They follow the trail of blood and find Lionel.

It was the most wonderful and terrible sight Judd had ever seen. The young man who had been with him since the start of the Young Tribulation Force—Lionel Washington, the strong, resourceful, solid, and steady member— stumbled out from behind a rock, his right arm held up in a wave, his shirt covered with blood. Judd’s belt was still tightly wrapped around what was left of Lionel’s left arm.

Woo...Though since when has Lionel ever been "the strong, resourceful, solid, and steady member" of the YTF? The only times I can remember him demonstrating any personality traits (and need I remind you, being Black doesn't count as a personality trait.) was in the early books when he was such a jerkass to Ryan that I kept hoping Ryan would snap and beat Lionel to death with his own Bible. But in subsequent books, it's been forever since he demonstrated any personality traits.

You also gotta wonder how Judd would describe Vicki if asked to. Probably refer to her as "the one with boobs" because being female is also a personality trait according to Ellanjay.

Anyway, Dr. Rose continues to be a caring physician, giving Lionel pain medication, as he and Judd carry him to Dr. Rose's car.

Lionel passes out when he's loaded into the car. Judd decides to do what everyone should do in a crisis and picks up the phone and calls Vicki. For those of you who don't remember, Vicki's idea of getting help for Lionel was not to call every Tribble she could think of to help organize search parties; her ideas of help was to think happy thoughts in Lionel's general direction. Anyway, they talk and it's really boring and unsnarkable, so let's fast-forward.

Dr. Rose doesn't take Lionel to the hospital, because he knows what would happen if Judd and Lionel showed up there without Marks. Dr. Rose instead takes Lionel to his house and starts treating him there. While Dr. Rose treats Lionel...well for those of you who were biting your nails raw wondering when we were going to get more Exciting!TV!Watching!Action, well don't worry. Judd takes time to flip on the TV.

The world was still in awe of the miracle workers. These false messiahs performed miraculous deeds for the sick, diseased, maimed, and disabled. One program featured a collection of video clips from around the world. After a miracle had been performed, the video made sure viewers knew this was all done by Nicolae’s power.

Okay, like I said before, I did fast-forward through Vicki and Judd's conversation, but now I feel a need to bring up a point mentioned in said conversation. Basically it's told through narration with Vicki filling in what had happened in Wisconsin. Judd then narrates that he couldn't believe how God had answered their prayers.

To which I say, how did God answer your prayers? Lionel had to hack off his arm with a pocket knife and probably would have died if it weren't for the efforts of a heathen. God didn't save your asses; Man did!

Not to mention, once again, God uses his supernatural powers to kill everyone, which is seen as a good thing. Whereas Nicky uses his supernatural powers to save people, and that's seen as a bad thing! No, that will not stop pissing me off.

We do get a cameo appearance from Z-Van, which makes me smile. I thought for certain they had shuffled him off-screen to whatever nether-space characters in this series go when they're not being mentioned. But for those wanting more bad lyrics, Z-Van's appearance is basically a cameo.

In fact, what happens is at the concert, we get a visit from two angels, one named Christopher and the other, Nahum. Because Ellanjay haven't overused that plot device--having angels appear, deliver a message, and leave without accomplishing Jack--at all. It's entirely fresh and original to anyone not suffering from Anterograde Amnesia.

As you guessed, nothing was accomplished by the angels' visit. All they did was show up, do a variation on "You need to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior," and leave.

I admit that, despite wanting to, I've held back on the salty language thus far. Don't worry; I'll soon stop.

Judd turns off the TV. Dr. Rose comes in and gives a rundown on Lionel's condition. Lionel's fine but take care of him so he doesn't get an infection. Then Dr. Rose asks, "You really know where my wife and baby are?"

Judd nods. Then Dr. Rose points at his Mark and says, "And because of this I'm not going?"

Judd nods again and I feel the need to post the entire end to this chapter. I try to avoid doing bigass quotes, but sometimes, in order to truly appreciate just how FUCKING AWFUL this book is, sometimes you need bigass quotes. Besides, I'm a firm believer in Misery Loves Company.

“I don’t get it. I’ve tried to help people. You’d think God would take that into account.”

“It’s not about doing good things.”

Before Judd could explain more, the doctor moved into the shadows. “I guess I had my chance.” His voice cracked as he spoke again. “Do me a favor, would you?”

“If I can.”

“Assuming you make it to where my wife and baby are, would you tell her I love her?”

The man’s voice trailed off, and he whispered something Judd couldn’t hear. It was clear he was in despair, and Judd wanted to say something to make him feel better, but what? What could he say to someone facing eternal separation from God and the people he loved?

Dr. Rose picked up the phone and dialed a number. “Judy, it’s Pat. I’m taking a couple of days off. I really need to be away. Don’t try my beeper or phone.” He put the phone down, climbed the stairs, and Princess followed, whimpering. The door closed.

Judd grew tired. He found a pillow in the living room and carried it to the stairs leading to the basement.

The gunshot startled him. It came from Dr. Rose’s bedroom. He dropped the pillow and took the stairs three at a time. Judd stopped at Dr. Rose’s door and shook his head. He didn’t look inside. He knew what he would find.


You have no idea how long I've scoured YouTube, trying to find the perfect clip to sum up the rage I'm feeling right now. I'm starting to think there isn't one. So, I'll provide two clips that kind of illustrate my reaction to this part: Here's a G-Rated Version. And for those of you less easily offended, the Uncensored Version.

And now, I'll do what you've all come to expect of me: get into an all-caps screaming rant.



Sorry about that. I think I've officially used up my yearly allotment of F-bombs and it's only the end of January. Heaven help us...

Though now that I've calmed down somewhat, we can play a game I like to play when faced with shitty art: Discontinuity For those unfamiliar with this game or too lazy to click on the link, in Discontinuity, basically you take the parts of canon you like, work with those, while ignoring the parts of canon you don't like. For example, let's go with the Donner ending to Superman II. Unlike the official ending, the Donner ending has a real sense of pathos with Superman and Lois Lane breaking up, whereas the official ending has the Amnesia Kiss, a truly stupid Asspull. Or for more examples, many people cling to the theory that Zion in The Matrix trilogy is simply a backup program created by the machines to convince the rebels that they've woken up and not fallen further down the rabbit hole. Or Anakin Skywalker was consciously or unconsciously manipulating Padme's emotions using the Force, which would totally explain all the inconsistencies in her behavior.

That's the beauty of discontinuity: when things don't go your way, throw out what doesn't work. Regarding the LB-verse, I've currently decided that Dr. Rose didn't actually shoot himself, but he knows that punk Judd won't leave him alone unless Judd thought he was safely damned for all eternity, so Dr. Rose fired into the ceiling, slipped out a window and he will soon meet up with Taylor, Hasina, and Joel, and together they'll mount a massive war against the Heavens. If nothing else, I imagine Judd dying and the LB-version of Dives and Lazarus plays out with Dr. Rose standing at God's side while Judd burns. Think of it as being similar to the afterlife I imagine for Fred Phelps, where he dies and sees Matthew Shepherd and Debbie Valgos standing at God's right side.

Yeah, I know, only one chapter, but I've reached my limit for this week. I need to drown my sorrows in whatever I can find. It's times like this, I shake my head and marvel at the guy who inspired this blog: Fred Clark aka Slacktivist. Because given that the wrongness in LB: the Kids is mild compared to the wrongness of the adult books...yeah, not going to say more.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Wussiest Version of 127 Hours Ever

Well, I got some good news and bad news. Good news is I've read through a couple of the chapters for this week and from the looks of it, while none of it qualifies as good, at least you don't have to worry about me overusing the f-bomb to the point where it loses all meaning/power. Bad news...well for all those who predicted bad things would happen to Dr. Rose, despite him being a decent human being and a caring physician, well, I read ahead and you're right. But that's not in this week's selection so for now, I'm in the clear. Right now, I'm marshaling up all my profanity to save for that moment, so that when we get there...think of it being like starving a junkyard dog for weeks until it attacks everything that moves. I want my hate to be pure and unadulterated when the time comes.

Okay, lengthy disclaimer out of the way, onto business.

The chapter begins with Lionel, aka the only one of the main characters currently in a dramatically compelling situation right now. Part of me wonders if he's inherited the position of YTF Butt Monkey or if the fact he's the only one who suffers actual harm (but not irreversible harm) as a result of the Apocalypse...if it has something to do with him being Black. After all, you don't have to be a Horror Movie Buff to know that things generally don't work out for Black People in horror movies.

Again the chapter starts off fairly compelling with Lionel being in pain, miserable, and scared, as he wonders about Judd, checks his supplies, and all that. But it very quickly devolves into silliness. Don't believe me? Try to read the next quote without laughing.

Lionel watched a cotton-candy cloud float through the sky. He closed his eyes and looked again, studying the shape. It looked like a face, with two eyes and a nose. Suddenly, Lionel saw Nicolae Carpathia’s face, the old devil himself looking down. Nicolae looked like he was laughing.

I'm going to assume Lionel is hallucinating due to pain/blood loss because I don't recall "cloud control" being one of the Anti-Christ's powers. Not to mention, the egotism in assuming that someone as powerful as Nicky would give a rat's ass about some teenager suffering on the North American continent and decide to punk with him just for kicks. Besides he's got his country's 500th anniversary to plan, his wedding to arrange, his wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it; he's swamped.

The next paragraph is less funny as Lionel thinks about how he was before he accepted Jesus Christ. For those too lazy to go through several years worth of posts, before he accepted Jesus, Lionel was an ordinary thirteen-year-old kid who thought about a lot of stuff and just went through the motions regarding church. It's really sick in that once again, an ordinary kid is dumped on and made to feel worse than Hitler because he's an ordinary kid. That was one of the reasons that documentary "Jesus Camp" was so off-putting, even to believers. You think scenes of kids evangelizing at a bowling alley or speaking in tongues would be cute or funny, but yeah, it comes across as sick as they're berated and beaten down for being kids.

After that moment of self-flagellating, Lionel perks up, reminding himself that he's on the right side and how he'll be laughing his head off when the heathens are burning in Hell.
Okay it's not quite that bad--exaggerating for comedic effect here--but it is pretty bad.

Lionel's section ends with him hearing the sound of an engine.

Judd, meanwhile, has arrived at the hospital with Dr. Rose. Dr. Rose, considering to be an awesome person, agrees to let Judd stay in his car, while he goes inside and takes care of a patient. He even leaves Judd the keys, though warns him that if Judd takes off with his car, he'll report him to the GC. I suppose that should count as a Kick the Dog moment but I still think that Dr. Rose is being way too nice to that little punk, Judd. He's helping him out and rather than just stuff him in the trunk, which is what I totally would do, he's given him the keys to his car so Judd can make himself comfortable. In short, Dr. Rose is currently the only decent human being in this universe and he'll eventually pay the price for it.

Judd searches for stuff in the doctor's car and we cut to Vicki.

Vicki talks with Wanda Whatshername about Cheryl and baby Ryan. Wanda tells Vicki that it's important that they make Cheryl eat or drink something, because even though the baby will be raised by the Fogartys, he'll still need his mother's milk, given that formula is difficult to find on the black market.

We then segue into Wanda's Conversion story because Ellanjay really love the overused plot device where the characters dish out their backstories in large expository lumps. I'll give the short version: Wanda made a living, helping to deliver babies. On the night of the Rapture, she was at a hospital assisting with a birth. The woman in question eventually required a C section, but just as the doctor lifts the baby out and says, "You have a beautiful baby girl," both the baby and the doctor are slaughtered bamfed into Heaven, leaving behind the baby's umbilical cord and the doctor's clothes.

Like I've said before, many moments of this series has great horror movie potential. I find myself reading Wanda's recitation of the events and thinking about how a truly great horror writer like Stephen King would handle this scene. Because the elements are all there for a great horror scene, especially with the bereaved unnamed mother screaming and asking what they've done with the baby. But the trouble is, Ellanjay don't realize they're writing horror.

Fred Clark said something similar to those lines in one of my favorite posts about the Left Behind series: What Would Rayford Do? (Do the Opposite). He points out, correctly, that if Rayford Steele was a creation of conscious artifice or in other words, written by authors who recognized what an unpleasant asshole he is, than the Left Behind series would be a masterpiece. But since the authors themselves seem to be as wrapped in delusion as Rayford himself is, the whole series fails at everything it sets out to accomplish.

It's the same with Horror. Writing great Horror fiction requires an ability to recognize Horror for what it is and an understanding of people. Plus you have to have some sympathy for the victims, which Ellanjay clearly don't. Say what you will about Stephen King, but he does have an understanding of Horror and how the survivors are often left more damaged than the dead. I don't like everything Stephen King wrote (it's kind of obvious that he was coked out of his gourd when he wrote Tommyknockers) but still.

As you probably guessed, what eventually happened to Wanda is, she started reading her Bible, and eventually came to Love Big Brother accept Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.

The rest of the chapter is spent switching between Judd and Lionel's perspectives as Judd waits and waits for Dr. Rose and Lionel hears what sounds like a GC search party approaching him. The chapter ends with Dr. Rose, continuing to be a mensch, by giving Judd food and telling him he'll back as soon as he can.

The next chapter begins with Lionel listening as the sound of the GC search party draws closer. Nothing really to snark except that I've got to admire the GC's ability to say the phrase "Tribulation Force" without busting a gut laughing afterwards, especially when you consider the brave acts of defiance that the Tribbles have done in this series. Those disdainful looks/comments they give every now and then, really hurt Nicky's feelings. I know by the Tribbles's own admission that they can't do anything to thwart the all-mighty prophecies, no matter how convoluted they might be, but that didn't necessarily mean that they couldn't be actually doing something like feeding those left hungry as a result of all the dead crops (poisoned water, remember?), tending to the injured following the latest earthquake/nuking, and sheltering the homeless. But that would require actual hard work, pain, and sacrifice, which would take time out of their busy schedule of looking down on people and thinking about how they've got he it all figured out.

Lionel calls Vicki and the next section is from her perspective.

Vicki is horrified as Lionel talks about cutting off his arm. Here's his quote:

“I can’t remember what Jesus was teaching there, but I figure it’s better for me to be able to live without my arm than to stay here and die or get caught by the GC.”

Yeah, once again, what doesn't matter where and when and how Lionel dies? Lionel's said The Prayer. No matter what way he dies, of blood loss after hacking off his arm with a pocket knife, of exposure after being trapped out in the wilderness for days, or after being tortured to death by the GC...all those deaths definitely fall into the not fun category, but given that Lionel's said The Prayer and will be bamfed into Heaven, which is known for its high levels of Bliss. No matter which way it ends, Lionel has confirmation that he'll spend his days bathing in the light of the Undying Lands, so yeah, why his he so afraid of Death?

Besides, ever hear of a verse called Luke 17:33? For those not as educated in the gospels or too lazy to google, here's the verse in question.

Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.

You think Ellanjay with their hard-on for Christian Martyrdom would be all about that verse. But it's clear: they want the cheap vicarious thrills of martyrdom without actually having to go through with the martyrdom part.

But despite Vicki's protests, Lionel's determined to hack off his arm so she puts Wanda on the line to walk him through it, seeing as Wanda's the only one available who has any medical training.

So what follows is the Ellanjay version of 127 hours with Wanda coaching Lionel through the whole messy procedure. Unlike 127 hours, though, the pain and horror of this scene is only briefly touched on. In fact, most of this scene is told from Vicki's perspective as she paces around the hideout, wrings her hands, and prays. :headdesk: Again, a great dramatic opportunity squandered. In fact, I'm going to post the amputation scene from 127 hours just so you can see how Ellanjay fail. Granted I know comparing a movie and a book is the proverbial apples-and-oranges comparison, because movies are an audio/visual medium and the audience can only experience it through sight and hearing, whereas books can touch on all senses. But even still, Ellanjay fail. I mean, Ellanjay you couldn't have actually written about Lionel cutting at his arm, seeing the blood, feeling the pain, and freaking out?! You had to cut to Vicki, whose currently just thinking nice thoughts in Lionel's direction? I confess I haven't read the book that formed the basis for the movie 127 Hours but I imagine that even though the author, Aron Ralston, is a more an athlete than a writer...even he could probably write the scene in a way that makes it dramatically compelling and conveys the horror and pain of it all.

The Vicki section ends with one of the Tribbles, Marshall coming in and saying, "It's over." Naturally given their natural talent for being able to choose the best viewpoint from which to tell a scene, we don't cut back to Lionel. Instead, we cut back to Judd. He and Dr. Rose have finally left the hospital and are speeding off to go rescue Lionel. Judd thanks Dr. Rose for not turning him in. Dr. Rose, continuing to be awesome, says, "You can thank me when we rescue your friend." I know I shouldn't have shared that bit of small talk with you, but given what ends up happening to Dr. Rose...yeah, felt it was needed.

The chapter ends with Judd finally reaching the place where Lionel was trapped and gasping. I think that's a good place to leave you for this week. As always thanks for reading and feel free to leave your comments, good or bad, on this post. Hope you all have a happy rest of the week.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Kindness of the Damned

Having fooled the The Keystone Kops GC with his ingenious "They went thataway!" ruse, Judd is on the run, trying to find help for Lionel. Eventually he finds a road leading to a town and though he and Lionel had avoided the main roads, Judd realizes that he has to take the chance if he's going to get help for Lionel. He finds a sign pointing towards a hospital and heads in that direction. Me, I'm breathless with anticipation wondering what BS excuse Judd's going to come up with in order to hide his lack of a Mark. Because y'know the hospital will probably check. Let me guess, what'll probably happen is he'll pull down a hat and be like, "Uh, yeah, I totally have the Mark" and since the GC have never heard of lying, it'll totally work.

Anyway, we cut to Lionel. Lionel is still trapped under a boulder. While wondering about Judd, his phone rings. He answers it and it's Vicki. They proceed to have an awfully cheery conversation, when you take into account that one of the participants is stranded out in the wilderness with a massive boulder on his arm and no food and they haven't even mentioned the water situation.

Anyway, towards the end of this ridiculously cheery conversation, we finally find out what our stalwart heroine, Vicki, has been doing to try to help Judd and Lionel.

“I had Conrad put out a message on the Web site—”
“No. I don’t want to alert the GC.”
“We didn’t give your location. We just put out an SOS so people could pray.”

The record-scratch sound effect seemed the most appropriate way of describing my reaction.

That's what you've been doing Vicki?! The physical and mental equivalent of posting something on your Facebook feed or on Craigslist or whatever and going, "Hey my friend is in life-threatening danger somewhere out in the wilderness. Could you please think some nice thoughts in his direction as opposed to organizing search parties or doing anything that would actually help? kthnxbye." FUCK YOU, VICKI! YOU HAVE A GENERAL IDEA OF WHERE LIONEL MIGHT BE AND YOU'RE NOT EVEN TRYING TO PROVIDE ANY KIND OF SUBSTANTIAL AID! NOT GOING ORGANIZE SEARCH PARTIES OR ANYTHING AT ALL! VICKI, I AWARD YOU NO POINTS AND MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON YOUR SOUL! [/ragedump]

Okay, now that I've gotten some of my rage out of my system, I'll provide some slightly less profanity-laden criticism. I suppose maybe the reason Vicki isn't on the phone with every Tribble who might be able to help is because maybe she finally realized that using websites and cell phones to communicate with your rebels-in-arms when you're hiding from an enemy who controls all the infrastructure involved with those things, is a damn stupid idea. I would go with that excuse except WE'VE WATCHED THE TRIBBLES BLATANTLY USE CELL PHONES AND POST SHIT ON THE INTERNET WITHOUT EVER GIVING ANY THOUGHT TO GC MONITORING! AND NOW WHEN A COMRADE IS IN LIFE-THREATENING DANGER, WHEN IT MIGHT DO SOME REAL GOOD, NOW VICKI'S AFRAID OF MAKING CONTACT WITH OTHER TRIBBLES?!

:deep breath:

Vicki hangs up and Lionel is alone again. He finds himself looking at his trapped arm and his knife and wondering if he should cut off his arm. My response: yes, Lionel you should. Since your friends' idea of helping you consist of abandoning you when you need them most and occasionally thinking nice thoughts at you, you should. In fact, I'm starting to wonder if you've taken Ryan's place as the Butt Monkey in this series.

But Lionel decides to wait for Judd.

Judd finally reaches the hospital parking lot. He notices all the expensive vehicles including a Humvee, watches and listens in on a doctor treating a patient. He hides in the parking lot, waiting for a doctor to emerge.

Judd's genius plan for getting a doctor? Well, basically he slid a pipe under the Humvee's tires. When the doctor goes to check, Judd ambushes him and begs him to help his friend. And if you thought I was done with ragedumps for this week, just you wait. If you're wondering the doctor, whose name is Patrick Rose, has the Mark, but he does agree to help Judd, taking him to his home.

Next chapter, Judd is in Dr. Rose's house. Dr. Rose, by now, has realized that Judd doesn't have the Mark and has made the obvious conclusion. Yet rather than just pick up the phone, turn Judd in, and collect the reward money, Dr. Rose continues to be very nice to him, feeding him an omelet and fresh OJ. Granted, at first, I was headdesking at all this because Judd never thinks for a moment that it could be drugged or poisoned or something, just jumps right in and starts eating, but given what we later learn about Dr. Rose in the chapter...yeah, soon you'll be grinding your teeth along with me.

As, Judd eats, he and Dr. Rose talk.

“So, are you a Judah-ite?”
“What difference does it make? If I don’t have the mark you can take me to the GC and get your reward.”
Dr. Rose glanced around the kitchen. “Does it look like I need money?”
“You’re not going to turn me in?”
Dr. Rose took a mouthful of food and sat back. “I became a doctor so I could help people. And I’ve never been impressed with Nicolae, though he did bring sanity when the world fell apart. Coming back from the dead was nothing short of a medical miracle, but I can see through the act.”
“You don’t think Nicolae is god?”
“Maybe he is. Maybe he isn’t. At the end of the day, it doesn’t do much for my patients. Which brings us to your friend.”

So as you can tell, Dr. Rose is a nice, caring physician, WHO IS GOING TO SUFFER FOR ALL ETERNITY BECAUSE OF A STUPID TATTOO EVEN THOUGH HE'S DOING WHAT THE TRIBBLES ONLY TALK ABOUT DOING, HELPING PEOPLE! But I should parcel out my ragedumps a little more carefully because it's going to get worse for him, much worse.

We get a brief interlude with Lionel. It's started to rain and Lionel's desperately praying, trying to figure out what he should do. In the hands of even an adequate writer, this could be a great, dramatic scene. All the elements are there: an injured, abandoned teenager panicking and trying desperately to figure out what to do next. But as you probably guessed, Lionel's emotional state is only briefly touched upon. Remember if Ellanjay actually showed how horrible the Apocalypse would be for those who didn't say The Prayer, not only would that cut back on all the fun of Haw-hawing as those sinners burn, but their RTC fanbase might :gasp: start asking questions about how all this suffering, inflicted by God, lines up with their assertation that their God is a loving god. We can't have that!

We then get this moment after Lionel prays yet again:

Lionel thought about his prayer. God was his strength. It would take God’s power to move the stone. Unless …
Maybe the reason God hadn’t sent an angel or brought Judd back was because God wanted Lionel to act. Did God want to show his strength through Lionel’s weakness? God winds up showing his strength by not helping Lionel, instead forcing Lionel to cut off his own arm in order to free himself?! HOW IN ANYBODY'S NAME DOES THAT MAKE SENSE?!

It's like a said before: in this series, no matter what, God gets credit for all the good and none of the bad. If a firefighter races into a burning building and rescues a dozen children, that was God acting through him. If a gunman rushes into a building and kills a dozen children, there's blather about free will and how it's totally not God's fault.

The section ends with Lionel looking at his knife and asking God to make it clear whether he should wait for Judd or do something else.

Now we cut back to Dr. Rose and Judd. The section begins with a truly infuriating passage, but I warn you, it is only going to get worse.

Judd couldn’t understand why Dr. Rose was acting like a friend. Could Judd trust anyone with the mark of Carpathia? The man’s eternal destiny was sealed, so there was no sense explaining the truth of God and the Bible. And yet, the man didn’t seem concerned that Judd was an enemy of the Global Community.

Y'know if Ellanjay or whoever wrote this series had some FUCKING CONSISTENCY, it might work. Ellanjay believe that the world can be divided into two groups: the Saved and the Hardened Reprobates Who Deserve to Burn. Fine, but in order for this to work, YOU HAVE TO ACTUALLY SHOW THE HARDENED REPROBATES AS BEING COMPLETE AND TOTALLY UNREDEEMABLE ASSHOLES! But it's already been shown that Dr. Rose, despite having the Mark that damns you forever no matter what you do, is a kind, caring physician. He's willing to help Judd and Lionel and he's stated that he doesn't believe Nicky's BS. SO THE FACT THAT HE'S DAMNED FOR ALL ETERNITY REALLY PISSES ME THE FUCK OFF!

But then again, that seems to be a common thread among ex-Fundamentalists. Those who were raised in the strictures of Fundamentalism and eventually left, often talk about what made them decide to leave, and this whole division of the world into The Saved and The Damned, often plays a huge part. There are countless examples, but right now, I'm thinking of the account of Carolyn Jessop. Carolyn Jessop was raised within the confines of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints and like many of Christian Fundamentalist backgrounds, she grew up hearing about how the world outside the faith is evil and wants to hurt the true believers. At 18, she was married off to an older man in the community who had three wives already and proceeded to endure one high-risk pregnancy after another. Her seventh child (she eventually had a total of eight children) was born with special needs. By this point, she had already started to have her doubts about her faith, but it was the kindness of the doctors, who helped changed her mind. She talks about how the doctors were always so compassionate and kind to her and her children, despite their beliefs, showing sympathy towards her struggle to raise her kids, while her fellow believers in the faith, scoffed at her and told her that her child's health problems were her fault for being an unfaithful wife.

So for those going tl;dr, it was the kindness of the Damned, as opposed to the cruelty of the Faithful, was what eventually led her to take her chances in the outside world.

Okay back to the story.

Dr. Rose collects more information on Lionel's condition from Judd and finally states the obvious: that at this point, Lionel is going to lose his arm. The only question is whether they'd be able to save the rest of him. Judd asks "Why are you helping me?" and we get this response.

“I figure, if you’ve made it this far, and if you’re willing to risk your life for your friend, you deserve a chance. The GC may catch you. That’s none of my business. My job is to help anybody I find who’s hurt.”

The only justifiable response to this is the gnashing of teeth and the shouting of "Fuck you!" over and over again. Because as said before, Dr. Rose is actually helping people, while the Tribbles hide in their hole-in-the-ground and talk about it. YET GUESS WHICH ONE IS DAMNED FOR ALL ETERNITY TO A PLACE OF UNIMAGINABLE TORMENT?!

Since Dr. Rose had mentioned having a wife at some point, Judd, being a compassionate RTC, decides to ask about her. Turns out, as you probably guessed, that Dr. Rose's wife, along with their unborn child, was slaughtered by God during the Rapture, while he was doing a shift at the hospital. Dr. Rose continues to be a sympathetic character as he talks about all the chaos of that night.

Judd's like "What do you think happened?" And Dr. Rose, continuing to be in the lead for the Gold Medal in the Sympathetic Character Olympics, says that he's heard a lot of theories, but it doesn't really matter because he knows they're not coming back. Which, again, is a sensible response. As Fred has mentioned in his posts, Ellanjay make big deal about how those raptured aren't actually dead, but it's hard to see the difference. Gone is gone, whether they were whisked away like Elijah or crashed the car.

Judd's like "I know where they are" but Dr. Rose gives a mild "STFU." There's silence for a bit, but then Dr. Rose is like "All right, so where are they?" After asking a few more questions about the doctor's late wife, Judd launches into his spiel about how Jesus died for your sins and all that. Dr. Rose is like "Yeah, yeah," but then asks about whether they'll see their loved ones again, oh and brace yourselves for what's to come. Marshal up all your rage and profanity because believe me, you're going to need it.

Judd pursed his lips. “Those who accept the gift God offers will see those who disappeared again. That’s one of God’s promises.”

:grinds teeth: In the interest of prying a truffle out of a pig's snout, let me point out that Judd is resisting the urge to go "Nah nah nah! I'm saved and you're not!" That's something isn't it.

Dr. Rose responds by slamming on the brakes, sending Judd forward, and proceeds to chew him out.

“That’s what frosts me about you people. You’re so sure about everything, and it’s all in the future. Someday you’ll do this, and someday God’s going to make everything better. At least Carpathia does stuff for us right now.”

Not a bad smackdown, though Dr. Rose could also point out that according to Judd, GOD IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL THE SHIT AND MISERY THAT'S HAPPENING WHILE NICKY TRIES TO HELP PEOPLE! but I'll take what I can get.

Judd's like "Nicky's the enemy of God" and starts to say that those who take his Mark are damned, to which Dr. Rose is like "so they don't get a chance at your little after-death party?" Judd's like "I'm just telling you what I believe. If you wanna turn me into the GC, go right ahead."

Dr. Rose, continuing to be sympathetic, is like "If I wanted to do that, believe me, your head would be rolling on the ground." He then asks, "What does your Bible say about me?"

And here's Judd's response:

Judd took a breath. “Taking the mark of Nicolae and worshiping his image means you’ve made your choice.”

I've thought and thought and scoured YouTube but I can't find the right clip to adequately illustrate just how much I hate Ellanjay and their dumbass beliefs. Okay this clip kind of illustrates my reaction to this scene, but still.

I must point out that even after all this, Dr. Rose doesn't do what I would do, which is shove that little sanctimonious turd out of a moving car or rat him out to the GC. What happens after Judd said all that is Dr. Rose receives a page. He makes a phone call and makes a U-turn back to the hospital. According to him, a GC official was ambushed by rebels and the hospital needs his help to patch him up. Judd's like "Can someone else do it?" and Dr. Rose says that the head of the hospital asked specifically for him and wouldn't take no for an answer. Judd asks "What about Lionel?" and finally, Dr. Rose, whom I'm starting to wonder if I should dub him Dr. Awesome, says this:

“So that’s his name, huh? Lionel will have to hold out until we can get to him.” Dr. Rose scowled. “Of course, if we don’t get to him in time, God’ll just take him to heaven, right?”

Gotta give the good doctor credit: he really does have the RTCs' number here. It doesn't matter if he does anything to help Lionel because as said before, Lionel's said The Prayer so no matter what he does, he'll get into Heaven. The RTCs love to boldly proclaim that they aren't afraid of dying, but their boasts ring awful hollow.

:massages temples:

I thought the fact that they had shuffled Joel and Aron off-screen meant that there wouldn't be as many infuriating, blood pressure raising passages in this book. I was wrong. Sorry about all the anger, bitterness, and profanity. I'll try to be more snarky next week, but I can make no guarantees.