Saturday, November 22, 2014

Let the Profanity Storm Continue!

Okay, I promise I'll try to cut down on the swearing. I won't make any guarantees because like I said, sometimes this series gets to you in such a way that the only thing that seems fit to describe it is the F-bomb. But I don't want to overuse the F-bomb to the point where it loses all power. This is a blog after all, not a David Mamet film.

This week's selection begins with Judd, who used to be a mini-Rayford but now is essentially an empty expanse where a character should be. Like I said before, can you name any of Judd's personality traits? Anything he loves besides God and Vicki?

Now what is Judd doing? He's working on the website and sending emails to his obligatory love interest aka Vicki.

But Judd also knew the Global Community was monitoring anything coming from suspected Judah-ites. Tsion Ben-Judah’s Web site was a popular destination for GC officials who wanted to see the latest on the “enemy camp.” Anything posted on the kids’ Web site had to be checked and rechecked to make sure it didn’t give out vital information.

Yeah...anyone with computer know-how wanna tell Ellanjay that even if you leave out any place-specific details in your posts, the government can still easily track your website? I am totally not computer-literate (my problem-solving involves mostly turning it on and off) but even I know that.

Judd gets an email from Naomi telling him about how Sam and Mr. Stein have gone to Tel Aviv. Basically it says she's worried and wants Judd to pray for them. So at least they didn't have Judd instantly know that Sam and Mr. Stein were in Tel Aviv. Maybe that proves that Ellanjay don't believe that RTCs have hive minds like the Borg.

Judd browses the web some more and we see more proof as to why Nicky's better than God. I thought about quoting the entire passage but it'd be a bigass quote so I'll just sum it up. Basically one of the False Prophets puts on a show, taking the water, which as you recall was turned to blood by our loving God and rendered undrinkable, and he makes it clear and drinkable again. So as said before: Is it any wonder everyone chooses to follow Satan? Satan is using his supernatural powers to do good and save people from dying, whereas God poisons and kills everyone. But then again, I'm one of those weirdos who thinks that Matthew 7:15-20 was probably more along the lines of "Beware of David Koresh and people like him," rather than "Beware of magical super people who use their powers to save people rather than letting them die like God intended."

We do finally cut in on Sam and Mr. Stein in Israel. If you're wondering, rather than taking one look at them and shipping them off to the guillotine, which would be the sensible thing to do, the GC has decided to imprison them because that totally worked in the past and there's certainly no chance that Sam and Mr. Stein will take the opportunity to grandstand and convert their fellow prisoners.

Turns out since Mr. Stein and Sam identified themselves as Jews (sheesh...you'd think they'd take this opportunity to proudly proclaim the gospel of RTCianity), they're going to be shipped off to camps where they'll be starved and tortured, as opposed to being guillotined like all the other RTCs. Sad part is I'm so used to the Incredible Stupidity that is the characteristic of all characters written by Jerry Jenkins that most of my objections are related to the whole transfer thing. Why can't they be tortured and starved at the holding center where they're currently at? Why must you make everything so needlessly complicated, Nicky?

Sam counts about seventeen men on the cell block with them. Some have the Mark, but most are Jews and I'm assuming Sam can tell at a glance that they're Jews because they all have forelocks and kippahs and they are all eating bagels and shouting "Oy Vey," at various intervals. Because that's what Jews do.

Anyway, Mr. Stein leads them in The Prayer, but only three of the seventeen have the God-Mark. I'm going to guess that as for the rest, Mr. Stein just zinged them and made them Unitarians.

But anyway, Sam drifts off to sleep.

Next chapter, Sam wakes up at 4 a.m. to see this guy standing in the door of his cell:

Sam resisted the urge to scream, but his eyes widened and his heart raced furiously. Sam was sure he had never seen this stranger. He wore sandals, a long, flowing robe, had a short beard and piercing eyes. He had no mark, either of the true believer or of Carpathia.

And that man was Charles Manson. And now you know the rest of the story.

Sam asks the guy if he's taking them for the transport. The man shakes his head. Sam, continuing to be dumber than most plant life, is like "Then why are you here?" The man responds:

“I come in the name of the Lord our God. He is strong and mighty to save. Though the evil one is set on the destruction of the people of God, he will not touch you. There are many praying for you and your friends.”

Sam, in response, is like I'm not worthy! and points out that others have died and why should he be saved? But the angel apparently wants Sam to keep writing his blog because there are few things more important than some blog written by a teenager? Hey, Angel Dude? Why didn't you bother to save Chloe given that she runs the magical Co-Op on which all the RTCs depend on for, y'know, survival? But then again, Ellanjay probably put Chloe in charge of the Co-op because they think running a co-op during the freakin' apocalypse is light work and therefore can be easily handled by a weak, womanly female.

I'm trying to figure out if this little part, where an angel is dispatched to rescue a blog-writer, is more egomaniacal than M. Night Shyamalan casting himself as a writer destined to save humanity. Seriously how is it that he keeps getting his crappy films made? He made one good movie and each subsequent one has been worse than the one that proceeded it. He's basically the Wile E. Coyote of directors. [/Shyamalan rant]

Where was I? Anyway, Angel Dude leads Sam out of his cells, lets out Mr. Stein, Aron, and the unnamed converts, leaving the others on the block to suffer and die at the hands of the GC. Even though Sam and Mr. Stein and the unnamed converts have said The Prayer so no matter what happens, they're going to Heaven. Shouldn't Angel Dude focus his efforts on the unsaved prisoners? Y'know for people who go on and on about how they have no fear of death because of Jesus, they sure have a huge fear of death.

During this little story, they reference Acts 12:6-8. For those too lazy to click on the link, what happens is that an angel sets Peter free after he's imprisoned. Thing is I have to object to it being referenced in this series. Peter wasn't just a posturing Alpha Male who sat around and waited for Jesus while smirking about how he's got it all figured out; Peter actually did stuff and was eventually martyred for it.

But anyway, they get outside the prison and Sabir is waiting for them in a minivan. Apparently Sabir also received a visit from Angel Dude.

Sabir explained that he had been awakened from a dead sleep and told to come to the GC station. “I got in my little car and a man stood before me, shaking his head. He pointed to this vehicle, and I found the keys in the ignition. If I had brought the small one, we never would have been able to fit all of you in.”

Again, it's amazing the fact that RTCs credit God with helping them with all sorts of small stuff like finding them a parking space, yet when it comes to big stuff, like y'know feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless, they respond with that non-biblical proverb: God Helps Those Who Help Themselves.

Anyway, Sabir's plan is to take them to the airport after which they'll be flown back to the safety of Petra. So what purpose did this little plot cul-de-sac in Tel Aviv serve? And don't say "It allowed Ellanjay to pad out the books further and make even more money even though they're probably richer than Croesus at this point."

Anyway on the ride to the airport, this conversation happens and I'm quoting it for a reason that should be apparent.

As they drove near where the miracle fair had taken place, Aron touched the window and looked out sadly. “What about Joel? Is there no hope?”
“Your brother made a foolish decision,” Mr. Stein said. “He closed himself to the truth and took the mark of Carp—”

And here's where my brain, well, the only way to describe its reaction is with the record-scratch sound effect. And I tried to cut back on the profanity, but I'm afraid I have no choice.

FUUCK YOU, ELLANJAY, BECAUSE THAT'S NOT WHAT JOEL DID! HE TOOK THE FUCKING MARK SO HE AND HIS BROTHER WOULDN'T FUCKING STARVE TO DEATH BECAUSE APPARENTLY FEEDING THE HUNGRY AND SHELTERING THE HOMELESS ISN'T WHAT CHRISTIANS DO IN THIS SERIES! EVEN THOUGH IT'S BASICALLY WHAT JESUS WOULD DO! INSTEAD, CHRISTIANS DO THE ALL-IMPORTANT JOB OF SITTING ON THEIR ASSES AND WAITING FOR GOD ONLY OCCASIONALLY BOTHERING TO PULL JUVENILE PRANKS ON A GUY WHOSE SUPPOSED TO BE WORSE THAN HITLER, STALIN, AND POL POT![/ragedump]

Okay, now that I've gotten that out of my system, let's continue. Aron, proving that he's still a dirty Jew what with his compassion for his heathen brother and not a good RTC, says essentially, "But I was just as closed off to the truth and Joel only took the Mark so I wouldn't starve to death."

And I'm going to quote Mr. Stein's response in its entirety. Because it needs to be seen.

Mr. Stein turned. “We spoke with your brother before you came in. He seemed upset we had even come. He countered our message at every point.”

Yeah, how dare that filthy Jew not immediately accept your recycled talking points cribbed from about a thousand other RTCs. The very nerve of him, digging deep into his own traditions and experience and trying to engage you in honest inquiry as opposed to just going "Shit! Baptize me now!" like a character in a Jack Chick tract.

Aron, still refusing to do the Christian thing and say "He made his choice: now let him burn" says that Joel was angry at himself and knew what they'd say about God.

Sam says essentially that "I know you love your brother but he turned us into the authorities and we can't go back for him."

Aron buries his head in his hands and says his heart breaks for him. Sam decides to comfort him by telling him this:

“My father also made a foolish choice and died before I could speak with him again. I’m so sorry.”

"And now my father is burning in Hell where he'll be tortured over and over again and experience suffering on a level that can't be imagined because Our God is a loving god."

:grinds teeth: The only thing worse than the LB-verse is Lisa aka that one Jack Chick tract that is so messed up that not even Jack Chick will keep it in print. I suppose I should provide trigger warnings for that link, but there aren't enough trigger warnings in the world for that link! In fact, I'm starting to wonder if maybe Hell is that Chick Tract for all eternity. No fire and brimstone, just that one tract with the most fucked-up moral in history.

Anyway, they get aboard the plane (flown by Mac, of course) and arrive in Petra. The love-bombing commences as they're all greeted warmly. And Chaim, still calling himself Micah, gives a prayer.

Micah prayed for Jews who were being arrested around the world. “You know, Lord, that these people are being mistreated and killed simply because they have Jewish ancestors. The Global Community considers them traitors, and they are being paraded across international television, humiliated every day. We ask that you would surround these with your love and mercy, and show them the truth that you want them to turn from their sin and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior.”

Given that their sins consist of being MOTHERFUCKING JEWS! I don't understand why Ellanjay are shocked, shocked when you accuse them of being anti-Semites even though their most fervent desire is that the Jews stop being Jews aka the branch of theology that launched the Inquisition, pogroms, and to top it all off, the Holocaust.

Mr. Stein then steps up, gives the standard altar call, and asks that Aron's parents, Rabbi Ben-Eliezar and Mrs. Ben-Eliezar come forward. They do and love-bomb hug Aron.

The chapter ends with this:

“Their other son was unfortunately caught up in the desire to follow Nicolae Carpathia, but we can rejoice that this one has believed and has returned.”
A great roar rose from the crowd as they yelled their praises to God. When the noise died down, Mr. Stein looked at the struggling group near Sam. “What about you? Will you receive the gift of God now?”

I'll mention while Aron's been all weepy, he hasn't yet said The Prayer; thus his saved status is still up in the air. But you know what will happen: eventually he'll see the light, abandon the faith of his fathers, and never give a thought to Joel as he slowly
burns in Hell for taking the Mark to save his brother's life.

Everything about this series is reprehensible, so reprehensible that I'm in danger of overusing the F-bomb to the point where it loses its power. Anyone know any foreign swears I can throw in to spice things up?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Saturday Morning Bullshit or Why This Series is The Tingler

Warning: this week's snark contains a lot of links and a major profanity storm. I hope everyone has the sense to not open them if they're at work.

This week's chapter begins with everyone's favorite part of a novel--exposition and travel logistics--as Sam and Mr. Stein explain to Mac what we already know: how they're going to Tel Aviv to witness to some Rabbi's kids. It's really boring and unsnarkable except for this one line:

Mr. Stein asked Mac why he hadn’t stayed in Petra, and Mac smiled. “I’d get too fat eating all that manna. Plus, I’m having more fun than a coon in a cornfield flying all over the place with Albie.”

Based on that line of dialogue, I'm forced to picture Mac as Wild Bill from G.I. Joe. Yes, I'm a fan of that crappy eighties cartoon invented for the sole purpose of selling toys to eight-year-olds. Stop judging me! Though Cobra Commander would be more threatening than Nicky and this is a villain who got a gigantic laser and the best use he could find for it was carving his face on the moon. Not to mention the time he tried to conquer the world with mind control bubble gum. Plus Cobra Commander is voiced by Chris Latta whose high-pitched raspy voice made him at least entertaining even when his schemes didn't make any sense. RIP, Chris Latta. [/fangirling]

After landing in Tel Aviv, Sam and Mr. Stein meet up with Sabir, who is still driving a taxi cab because the plot needs him to even though it doesn't make any sense. Sam and Mr. Stein cleverly (and I'm putting cleverly in italics because the plan is really stupid) hide the fact they don't have Nicky's Mark by wearing hats and long-sleeved shirts.

They reach the place but don't find Aron or Joel, just a walky-talky. They hear someone say, "Pick it up and move to the right," and being the geniuses that they are, they do. :headdesk: Y'know with that kind of logic, Nicky could probably wipe out the Christians by leaving out envelopes coated with arsenic and a sign that says, "Lick me." It'd work given that the tribbles' minds operate on about the same level as the Super Friends.. Y'know when I set out to do this week's post, I didn't know I was going to make so many references to Saturday Morning Cartoons. Good times...

Anyway, they follow the directions from the walky-talky and eventually run into Joel Ben-Eliezar. Thankfully, Mr. Stein summarizes the story regarding his parents: that they used to be inscrutable and Jewish, but now they've abandoned the faith of their fathers and their cultural identities, and become good RTCs.

So naturally what follows is one of those scenes where they try to convert the stubborn Jewishy Jew. And we learn that apparently Ellanjay believe that being Jewish is synonymous with being an Atheist. Because that somehow totally makes sense. Don't believe me? Let's go through this conversation bit by bit.

“It is true. It is why we have come all this way at such personal risk. We want to tell you the truth about God.”
Joel rolled his eyes. “I have no need to believe in God. There is a scientific explanation for all the questions we have.”

:headdesk: Yeah, there's totally a scientific, non-supernatural explanation for why the Russia-Ethiopia-Libya nuclear payload was swatted out of the skies. Also, people get bamfed out of their clothing all the time. I could go on and on this point, but I think I've made myself clear. I know Ellanjay view the Jewish people as being cute but wrong, but I didn't know that they apparently believed them to be suffering from mental retardation as well.

“Even with everything that’s happened?” Sam said. “The disappearances, the earthquake, the—”
“People believe in God because they’ve been told to. They have an emotional attachment to their faith because it helps them get through. It helps them deal with their pain. I rely on myself and hard work. If a crisis comes, like an earthquake or another natural disaster, I try harder.”

So in addition to being a Jewish Atheist suffering from some form of intellectual disability, Joel also has the nerve to believe that you shouldn't sit on your ass while things get worse until TurboJesus comes and fixes everything otherwise known as that eeevil heresy called "Salvation by Works." After all, it's not like the brother of Jesus said something about faith without works being dead. :eyeroll:

They say something along the lines of "What about comfort?" Joel's response is “The only comfort we have in life is to know we have done something worthwhile. We’ve tried to think independently and struggled to improve the world.” So yeah, right now, I like Joel and hope he manages to escape like Taylor did. As far as I'm concerned, Taylor and Hasina faked their deaths and are off having adventures and being awesome in their own series while the tribbles sit on their asses and wait for God. That's my head canon and I'm not changing it.

Mr. Stein's like "What happens when you die?" Joel says, "Nothing. You get one chance and that's it." Mr. Stein tries to follow up with "With all that's happening in the world, doesn't it make sense to place your faith in God?" Joel's response is “I have faith in myself that I can improve the world. Outside of that, I have no use for faith.”

Not a bad response, I got to say. It would have been nice if Joel had responded by raising an eyebrow and saying, "Wait a minute, you're saying God is causing all these disasters yet you want me to place my faith in him even though he's the source of all evil right now?" But Ellanjay have shut themselves in a nice criticism-proof bubble for years now, so this may be the closest to a skeptical viewpoint we'll get.

Joel's brother Aron finally shows up. Aron tells us that Joel has taken the Mark, but he hasn't bowed down to Nicky's image. Joel has regretted taking the Mark, but given the kind of God worshipped in these books...gonna go out on a limb and say that matters diddly.

The chapter ends with them hearing a commotion. They look and see two guys trying to kill each other with swords in the center of the street. Comparisons to Roman gladiators are made. One of them chops off the other's arm. As he stands around bleeding, a long-haired man (dressed normally for once) comes and heals his arm.

The crowd hushed. The hero worship for the winner turned to silence as the man placed the severed arm back in place, grasped it with both hands at the point of the injury, and said, “I have been given power by the potentate. Therefore, under the authority of the risen lord, Nicolae Carpathia, I pronounce this wound healed.”
The injured man lifted his once-severed arm and raised a bloody fist above his head. “It’s back! He healed my arm!”

Yeah, this is a case of what TV Tropes calls Villain Has A Point. Y'see God loves us, which is why he's using his supernatural powers to kill us all. Satan, aka the Father of All Lies, aka the guy whose supposed to be the villain of this piece, is using his supernatural powers to help people. I don't believe I need to say anymore.

Next chapter...turns out the long-haired guy is one of the false prophets, whose name is Orcus. I have no idea if he appears in the adult books and I don't really care to know anyway. As Orcus is standing around saying, "Praise Nicky!" Mr. Stein gives the usual spiel to Joel and Aron about how Satan can mimic God's power but he's a false god who's evil and if you worship him, you're screwed."

In the midst of all this, we get this passage, which in light of other passages, raises my blood pressure. Once we get further along, you'll understand why.

Joel rubbed his forehead so hard that the bandage came off. Sam saw the mark of Carpathia beside scratches and blotched skin. “I’ve tried to get this off with sandpaper, even tried to cut the skin. But maybe Orcus is right. If he can do these things by the power of Nicolae …”

In response to this, Mr. Stein turns to Aron and says, "We need to talk now." So he pulls Aron aside and does the standard "Jesus is the messiah" spiel. And here's the part where my blood pressure goes up and I get all ranty...bear with me.

Aron focused on Mr. Stein’s words and nodded, asking questions and listening carefully. “If what you’re saying is true, my brother has no hope.”
“You are right. Once a person voluntarily takes the mark, their eternity is sealed.”

If you're not experiencing a white hot flash of fury right now, it's official: you have no pulse. Because it's been established that Joel didn't want the Mark. He only took it because he and Aron were both hungry and there's no way to buy or sell anything without the Mark. Also, the previous quoted passage has made it clear that Joel has regretted taking the Mark ever since.

I had the idea to post a really funny Simpsons clip to serve as a little bit of laughter before the profanity storm ensued, but I can't find the clip I'm looking for anywhere on YouTube, so you're going to just have to endure the Epic Profanity Storm without it. Sorry. If anybody's easily offended by profanity, just scroll past the all-caps part. Now that I've given my disclaimer...

:deep breath:

FUCK YOU ELLANJAY!!! FUCK YOU AND THE SHITTY INTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE YOU RODE IN ON! BECAUSE YOU'VE JUST FUCKING SAID THAT THIS GUY, JOEL, WHOSE ONLY CRIMES WAS TAKING THE MARK SO HE AND HIS BROTHER WOULDN'T FUCKING STARVE TO DEATH AND BEING JUST A LITTLE SKEPTICAL, IS GOING TO BURN IN FUCKING HELL FOR ALL ETERNITY BECAUSE OF IT! YOU FAIL! YOU FAIL SO HARD YOU DON'T EVEN DESERVE THE CRAPPY HOME VERSION! IN FACT, RIGHT NOW, I'M ENVISIONING TAKING THE CRAPPY HOME VERSION AND DOING ACTS WITH IT THAT ARE ILLEGAL IN ALL FIFTY STATES AND MOST OF CANADA, I HATE YOU SO MUCH! FUUUCK YOU!

:deep breath:

Okay, now that I've gotten that out of my system, I'm going to quote Romans 8:38-39. Ellanjay have to know this verse; they quote from Romans later on in this chapter. So in short, WTF, Ellanjay?!

Romans 8:38-39New International Version (NIV)

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Okay, back to the story...In fairness, Aron does display some skepticism by saying "Even if he took it in order to help me?" in response to Mr. Stein saying because Joel took the Mark he's screwed for all eternity. Mr. Stein, doesn't bother to answer this legitimate question, instead, stepping around it by saying this:

Mr. Stein knelt before Aron. “Don’t let your brother’s choice affect your destiny. You will not be called to account for his decision. Accept the gift God is offering now.”

But the inevitable conversion scene is delayed as Joel shouts from another room, "Hey look outside!"

Outside, Orcus is preaching simultaneously saying that Nicky is a man of peace, while also saying, "We need to kill all who oppose them!" I could point out all that's wrong with this, but like I said before, right now, I'm siding with the villain of this series because the hero not only crossed the Moral Event Horizon years ago, but also took a steaming dump on it. To quote the late great Roger Ebert, you can't have heroes and villains when the wrong side is making the best sense.

Yeah, sorry for all the links in this post, but it livens up a dull rant and it's about the only thing helping me keep my sanity in the face of the overwhelming madness. I'm starting to think this is what the Nazis saw when they opened the Ark of the Covenant.

Orcus finds an unnamed woman who identifies herself as Jewish and pulls her from her hiding place. Orcus is all "Take the Mark!" but she refuses saying that she can't show allegiance to Nicky because he kills her people. Orcus kills the woman using two swords and there is much rejoicing had by the crowd.

I think Ellanjay realized that Joel was attracting too much sympathy because after this, they have him turn to his brother and say, "See this is why you need to get the Mark!" Like all their attempted Author's Saving Throws, this fails.

Mr. Stein, realizing that a potential sale is slipping away, pulls out a Bible and quotes a long passage from Romans, proving that Ellanjay are familiar with that book. The passage they quote is Romans 5:6-11, if you're curious.

Aron is like "So God becomes our friend simply because we ask him?" Mr. Stein's response is simply "Yes." Mr. Stein goes on to talk about how all our good deeds are rubbish because we're all horrible sinful people who deserve to burn in hell and the only way out of it is to say The Prayer and ask God to forgive your sins." Remember kids, Jesus lived a blameless life and was murdered because you're full of sin and evil aka the Gospel According to Ellanjay.

We also get this passage further illustrating Ellanjay's ignorance of Jewish culture, because remember they love the idea of Jews but not the reality of it, much in the way, New Agers love Native American culture while remaining ignorant of what Native American culture is or of the issues facing Native Americans.

Aron sat and stared ahead. Sam had gone through this same process as Judd and Lionel tried to convince him of the truth. For some the decision was immediate. For others, especially those who were Jewish, it was a more difficult process. There were hurdles they had to overcome that others didn’t. Aron had no doubt been raised to believe Christianity was different from Judaism, and for a Jew to embrace Jesus meant that you turned your back on your faith. Sam knew that wasn’t true, but would Aron see it?

To paraphrase aunursa, to a Jew, Jesus is irrelevant. They don't hate Jesus or spend their time denying that he's the messiah anymore than they do Joseph Smith, Mohammad, or Buddha, because as far as they're concerned, Jesus has nothing to do with their faith.

Mr. Stein is all "Jesus died for your sins! Reach out to him now!" and Aron starts to close his eyes, but just as he does, Joel opens the window and gives away their position to the GC, because Ellanjay were afraid that we might still have sympathy for an eevil sin-riddled sinner like Joel. Mr. Stein's like "Don't put this off" but Aron says, "I'll say The Prayer as soon as we're safe."

Two GC goons haul off Sam and Mr. Stein, taking Aron away in a different vehicle. Mr. Stein says this long prayer, praying to the writers God to spare them and make Aron a RTC. They arrive at a GC center and Ellanjay end the chapter with this:

Sam’s heart pounded in his chest. He couldn’t take his eyes away from the guillotine. When the Peacekeeper returned and roughly pulled him from the car, Sam knew he had only minutes and perhaps seconds to live.

Because I'm beyond pissed off right now, I'm going to spoil the suspense for everyone: NOTHING HAPPENS! According to Wikipedia, both Mr. Stein and Sam make it to the part where TurboJesus slaughters everyone. So like I said before: YOU FAIL FOREVER, ELLANJAY!

:deep breath: Sorry about all the profanity, rage, and links in this week's snark, but this week's selection really got to me. Think of this series as being like the Vincent Price movie, The Tingler. The only way to keep it from sinking its evil into you is to scream and rage against it. Rage, rage against the idiocy and the cruelty of it all!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Techno-Porn as written by the Technology-Iliterate

Ellanjay, with their finger on the pulse of today's youth, decide to begin with exciting!remodeling!action! Yeah, I'm bored to tears soon. I know I said in a previous snark that one of my favorite post-apocalyptic tropes was when the heroes got together and started rebuilding the destroyed structures of society, but I'm more into stuff like how they wire it for electricity or get the plumbing going. This, with Vicki and Shelly painting the walls and choosing curtains...yeah, lethally boring. I prefer things that are lethally funny myself.

Vicki is still worried and is only able to stop thinking of Judd when she plunges into her remodeling project, which is one of her few character traits that actually feels human. Few things worse than sitting around worrying; it's a natural human impulse to want to do something even as inconsequential as choosing curtains.

She then writes in her journal which makes me go o_O. Since when does Vicki keep a journal? I can't remember if it's been mentioned before and I'm too lazy to look up. But anyway, here's her entry:

I can’t think about Judd dying. The thought is too horrible. I keep hearing that man’s voice who answered the phone and it makes me sick. From the time Bruce Barnes started teaching the Bible, I’ve known that things would get worse. But it always seemed like something far off, an evil in New Babylon. Now the evil has spread so much that we’ll have to worry about normal citizens, not just the GC. But a life without Judd …

I suppose points for constructing a fairly realistic teenage girl's voice here. But I still have to raise eyebrows. Ellanjay and their characters keep going on and on about how the second half of the tribulation is going to be so much more horrible than the first half, but I have to go really? Given that all the water's turned to blood, killing all the creatures that live in the water and probably all animal life on this planet, God (aka the guy doing all this) is really going to have to hustle if he wants to impress me.

Vicki's section ends with her and Judd finally having a phone conversation which I won't recap because it's fairly dull: Judd recaps what he and Lionel went through in South Carolina but tells her that they're okay now and talks about how he hopes to see her soon.

After the conversation, we cut to Judd's POV. He and Lionel are staying at a plantation house on an island on a river. I don't know if this place actually exists in the real world--Ellanjay don't provide enough details about the place for me to check--plus I already have way too much useless information taking up valuable neuron space so yeah, don't really want to know.

So the South Carolina believers hold a meeting and we get this weird little detail:

The youngest members were a little younger than Judd. Luke and Tom had found them on an island not far from Beaufort. Their ancestors were African slaves, and though they were glad to be safe, the kids felt strange living on a plantation.

This is the extent their discomfort is mentioned and for that I'm grateful, because the few times Ellanjay try to address racism...yeah, still remember the first book where Lionel was introduced and it talked about how some of his relatives accused him of losing his blackness...please don't make me say any more about just how awful that passage truly was.

Nothing really of note comes of this meeting. They just talk about whether to try to get Judd and Lionel to Wisconsin or go on the offensive against the bounty hunters. My eyes lit up at the "go on the offensive" line but quickly my hopes dimmed as I was reminded that nothing ever happens in these series. For pete's sake, the Power Rangers are more pro-active than the Tribbles. At least when there's a world-destroying evil on the loose, they actually try to stop it.

The chapter ends with Vicki showing Becky and Colin their new home. Woo...

Next one, well for those of you who like techno-porn, we start with descriptions of technology. Unfortunately, since Ellanjay have demonstrated a complete inability to predict any kind of advance in technology (like the rise of cell phones and internet porn), their attempts at tech-porn come across more as unintentionally hilarious.

JUDD and Lionel met with Carl and found he had some of the latest gadgets and phones from the Co-op. “Sometimes they deliver supplies, food, and clothes, and other times they have stuff like this.” Carl held up a tiny phone about three inches square.
“How do you punch in the numbers on something that small?” Lionel said.
“You don’t. It’s all voice activated. And look at this.” Carl removed a soft plastic piece from the back of the phone and placed it in his ear. “You talk and listen through this without using your hands. You can look at the display to see who’s calling, but you never have to hold anything. Some are so small you can actually fix the transmitters to one of your teeth.”

This series was written from 1997-2004, so we can chalk up "smartphones" as yet another invention Ellanjay didn't see coming. I'll let someone more versed in technology than I take a stab at taking apart Ellanjay's latest attempt to sound futuristic and tell me if their invention sounds at all practical or if it sounds riddled with flaws.

The SuperPhones also come with earpieces so they can communicate with anyone so long as they have their earpieces in. And apparently this network is worldwide, so props to Ellanjay for predicting a trend that might actually happen: worldwide cell coverage. Always said that the day they get rid of the out-of-area problem with cell phones is the day the Horror genre is pretty much dead. My quibble is this: how exactly are they keeping the GC from tapping and listening in on their worldwide network? Because with current cell phones, law enforcement can easily track you by the pings received from your phones from nearby cell towers. But I am thinking way too much into this, mostly because the story is giving me nothing else to think about. Sorry...

The section ends with Judd calling Vicki again and talking to her. Nothing they talk about is of any real importance, but Vicki finally tells him about that prophecy she received from Anak: about how the one she loves won't return to her whole. She's come to believe it refers to the original members of the YTF and not auxiliary and is worried. Judd reassures her and hangs up. He then turns to Lionel and asks him to be his best man when he and Vicki get married.

Next section, we're in Petra with Sam. He's working on the latest installment of the Petra Diaries. The section begins with a brief summary mentioning that Token Jew's been busy explaining various parables. There's also a mention that tomorrow Token Jew will talk about the Sermon on the Mount. I'm kind of (in a masochistic way) curious as to what Token Jew will say about it. The Sermon on the Mount is probably the greatest passage in the New Testament, one that lends itself to thousands of sermons and never fails to elicit a sense of "Am I really being the best follower of Christ I can be?"

Most of the citizens of Petra have come to embrace Anti-anti-Christianity, but there are a few holdouts. Here's Sam's compassionate writings about them:

As Tsion or Micah begin to speak, these defiant ones and those who are not sure about Jesus often fall to the ground as if in pain. They struggle and cry out, tear their clothing, and throw dirt in the air. If you have ever read the story of Jacob when he struggled with the angel of God, this looks exactly like that. They are fighting the very God who has died to save them and calls to them even now.
The Bible talks about this kind of spiritual warfare. I have never seen it so dramatic as here in Petra. The people can’t walk away from the teaching. It is right in front of them every day, and they cannot escape the voices of truth speaking so clearly.
If you are reading this and you feel this same wrestling in your soul, do not resist God. He loves you and wants to come into your life and forgive you, change you, and make you a new person. Allow him to do that today and end this fight with the God who loved you enough to die for you.

Since I know most of you aren't Biblical scholars, I will quote the passage, Genesis 32:22-32, where Jacob wrestles with God.

That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”

But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

The man asked him, “What is your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel,because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”

But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.

So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.

I imagine the reason Ellanjay is citing this passage is another attempt to prove that they're not anti-Semites by choosing a passage of great significance to the Jewish people. But I can't help but feel that Ellanjay miss the point. Jacob wasn't ever punished for wrestling with God; he was blessed. I take that to mean that it's okay to wrestle with God, to question the decisions and motives of said being, not to blindly obey. But you know how Ellanjay feel about questioners.

After writing his missive, Sam walks around and finally decides to confess his feelings to Naomi Tiberius For those of you who didn't cheat and browse the wiki, she shoots him down, saying that she sees him only as a friend and nothing more. Heartbroken, Sam decides to check his email.

Turns out he got an email from Aron Ben-Eliezar, son of Rabbi Ben-Eliezar. For those of you who've forgotten about Rabbi Ben-Eliezar, the Rabbi, like all good Jews, has abandoned the faith of his fathers and become a good RTC. Aron asks to see Sam in Tel Aviv. His message goes like this:

Sam,
I finally received your note. Thank you for writing. I’m glad to know my parents are safe, but I don’t believe they are followers of Ben-Judah. I know they aren’t foolish enough to buy what Carpathia says, but they wouldn’t turn their backs on our faith.
Joel and I would like to talk with you, but not by email or phone. And please, don’t tell my parents about contacting me. If you can come late tomorrow night, we will wait for you.

Shalom,
Aron

In the interest of giving credit where credit is due, Mr. Stein says that something doesn't feel right about this email. He doesn't think they're loyal to the GC, instead saying they're lost lambs in need of a shepherd. Sam still wants to go to Israel and talk to them and I roll my eyes. How is it that they seldom consider that all these helpful emails might be a goddanged trap by the GC? But even if it were, no worries: like I said before, preschoolers armed with their safety scissors are more of a threat than the GC. But looks like we'll get another travel montage soon as Sam and Mr. Stein decide to leave the safety of Petra and go to Tel Aviv.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Meh

This week, we're beginning a new book: Hunted. It covers books 35-37 for those of you who wanna follow along. The end is in sight, people!

As you recall, last week, Judd and Lionel finally made it to the states, but horrors of horrors! They were captured by bounty hunters in South Carolina.

Most of the first chapter of this book is taken up with the bounty hunters arguing with one another. I suppose all these arguing scenes are supposed to reveal character and further build tension as to what's going to happen to Judd and Lionel, but given that I've read the Wikipedia page on this series...yeah...Even if I hadn't read the Wikipedia page, I still wouldn't feel any tension because we're up to book 35 AND NONE OF THE MAIN CHARACTERS HAVE COME TO ANY LASTING HARM! With, of course, the exception of Ryan, but Ryan was the kids series' Butt Monkey so I don't know if he counts. Bottom line when it comes to these books: once you've figured out each character and the role they're supposed to play in the plot, then you can pretty much predict everything that will happen to them from here on out.

We get a brief interlude from Vicki. She's all concerned and upset unlike the rest at the Wisconsin hideout who are kind of "Meh" about it. I suppose it'd make sense they'd be kind of "Meh" about the whole thing. Given the massive deaths over the past few years, there's gotta be some massive cases of PTSD going on, but on the other hand, none of the characters act like they're suffering from anything worse than a stubbed toe, so yeah...Also, I guess it'd make sense that, unlike Vicki, they're not immediately going "OMG! We've gotta rescue them!" given that they know whatever happens to Judd and Lionel, they'll immediately get bamfed into heaven. They've said The Prayer; they've purchased their one-way tickets.

Somehow Lionel got a hold of a pocket knife. He tries using it to cut the plastic ties holding him and Judd but fails. I'll give the bounty hunters credit for not being completely rock-stupid like pretty much all the characters in this series, in that they didn't choose something that Our Brave Heroes could easily cut through.

The chapter ends with Judd thinking about Vicki and praying, wondering naturally how this fits into God's big plan. We do get another mention of Bruce "Useless" Barnes. Apparently, Bruce was fond of saying, “Pray as if everything depends on God, but work as if everything depends on you.” This saying made me raise an eyebrow and I consulted Google to find out who originally said it, but I couldn't get a definitive answer. Just know that this saying, like the RTC's favorite saying "God helps those who help themselves," isn't actually in the Bible. BTW, if you know the original author of the RTC's favorite saying without googling, congratulations, you win a No-Prize. You may dedicate it to anyone you like. I just find it funny how RTCs credit God for helping them with little stuff like finding a parking space, yet when they meet someone in real trouble (like say, poverty), they whip out that saying.

Next chapter, Judd is all "I don't wanna die!" He tries to reach for Lionel's knife, but fails. Lionel, however, is calm, saying that God is running the show and he's taken care of us thus far, so he'll take care of us to the end. Yeah...I don't really need to point out the myriad ways God has shown his love for his people again, do I? Though this whole series makes a lot more sense if you substitute "the authors" every time they say "God."

Lionel admits that before they left Petra, he had a dream about a sharp blade dripping with his blood. Judd's like, "Why didn't you tell me?" Lionel's response makes me smile. He says, essentially, that before he had a dream that he was riding in the pouch of a kangaroo over an ocean, so there was no reason to tell him the dream about the blade.

The truck they're riding in comes to a stop. Weapon fire breaks out and we cut to Vicki.

Vicki is in tears, blaming herself because she was the one who told Judd to take that flight to South Carolina. Shelly tries to comfort her, saying they've just got to trust God, and we get the first indication of some kind of PTSD in this story.

“Trust God?!” Vicki screamed. “We trusted God for Bruce, and look what happened to him. We trusted God for Ryan, and he still got trapped during the earthquake. We trusted God for Natalie and Zeke’s dad and Chaya. There’s a long list we’ve trusted to God, and they’re all dead.” Shelly looked at the floor, and Vicki shoved her face back into the pillow. “He and Lionel are going to die and it’s because of me.”

And another mention of Ryan! I suppose this passage isn't too bad--a workmanlike demonstration of PTSD--but I do have to point out how apparently only the proud owner of a set of ovaries gets PTSD. Apparently manly RTCs aren't at all affected their comrades dying in droves.

Shelly's like "It's all part of God's plan and he's in control." But Vicki continues to behave like a human and isn't comforted by Shelly's platitudes.

“It’s too hard! I don’t want to be part of his plan anymore. I don’t want to hide or worry about how we’re going to eat or if the GC is going to come rushing in on us any moment. Why does God expect so much?”

Applaud this brief moment where a teenager under a mountain of stress, actually behaves like a teenager. I assure you, it won't last long. It is a little weaksauce because you know the writers would never go so far as to have one of their protagonists renounce God or say anything close to this awesome speech by Mister Smith from the sadly short-lived TV series, Jeremiah.

“I can’t do this anymore. You hear me? I can’t do it anymore! I didn’t ask to be the chosen. I don’t want to be the chosen, I’m tired of being the chosen. So choose somebody else for a change! You got nothing to say? I know you can hear me. Pick now to go quiet? Well damn you. Damn you for doing this to me. And damn me for not blowing my brains out. That’d really mess your plans up, wouldn’t it? I don’t want to know what I know! I shouldn’t have to know the things I know, not if I can’t do anything about it!”

BTW, if you haven't seen the series "Jeremiah," the whole thing's available for free on Hulu. Go, watch, and see how it succeeds in every way unlike Ellanjay who fail in every way.

Shelly utters a few more platitudes, hugs Vicki, and says she'll stay with Vicki until they hear more about Lionel and Judd.

The Judd section begins with a sentence that makes me say, "What?!"

Judd flinched when shotgun pellets slammed against the truck bed and left dents in the metal.

I said "What?!" because I thought they used laser weapons in the LB-verse, but maybe Nicky only lets his followers use them and RTCs must make do with ordinary guns. Or maybe this is like the Power Rangers SPD-verse and lasers come out in pellet form? Yeah, I realize no one but me will get that reference but hey, it made me smile.

I'll sum up this boring action scene. Turns out Tom (who had escaped earlier) and Luke have come to rescue them. They shoot Albert (aka One Arm) provoking this brief inner monologue from Judd.

Albert lay on the ground, holding his stomach and panting. Judd felt a strange mix of anger and pity toward the man. A few months ago Judd would have prayed for him and tried to convince him of the truth about God. Now that Albert had the mark of Carpathia, Judd knew his fate was sealed. He felt sorry the man had no chance for heaven, but he was mad at him for trying to harm believers.

Me, I'm kind of confused by this whole thing, mostly because Ellanjay, who can't bear for their characters to have any shades of grey, but did they kill the guy or not? Given that he was a threat to them, I suppose it'd be justified if he did die, but the way they act later, cuffing him up...I'm reading and rereading trying to figure out whether they actually shot them with actual bullets or if they used lasers (which would totally contradict the first sentence of the Judd section) or what in Glob's name is going on here? To soothe my anguished soul, I'm going to post a clip from The Ember Island Players.

Anyway, to sum things up, Tom and Luke free Judd and Lionel and make it to the South Carolina hideout.

Judd sat with his back to the shack, his head in his hands. He had been prepared to die, to give his life, and God had used Luke to spare it again. He patted his pockets, forgetting Max had taken his cell phone.

Again, common motif in RTCianity: God gets credit for all the good (even though, Luke was the one who did all the heavy-lifting) and none of the bad. When a firefighter rushes into a burning building and saves a dozen children, God was acting through him. If a serial killer rushes into a building and kills a dozen children, then there's blather about free will and how God's totally not responsible for this.

The chapter ends with this line:

Lionel smiled at Judd. “Who did you want to call?”

And if you can read this without shouting, "Ghostbusters!" than you're a stronger person than I am. But seriously, I think I'll end my snark there for this week. Thought about throwing on a third chapter given how skimpy this snark was, but decided against it.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Danger Stared me in the Face and I Ran Away

Lionel is thrilled to discover that not only is the pilot named Lionel like him, he's also Black as well. His last name is Whalum and he asks to be called Mr. Whalum to avoid confusion.

So Mr. Whalum is flying them out of Petra and taking Lionel and Judd to South Carolina. While in the air, he decides to tell us his conversion story. :whimpers: Really, Ellanjay? Again with that over-used plot device. Especially since all the conversion stories can be summed up as "I was a good person, but I didn't have Jesus in my heart, so when God slaughtered my family in the Rapture, I immediately decided it was time to start kissing God's ass." That is seriously how it always goes.

So they land in South Carolina. Lionel complains that his throat feels all scratchy and he and Judd walk around complaining about the fishy smell. They wander around looking for their contacts in South Carolina, Tom and Luke, whom I've almost completely forgotten about because I only have so much room in my memory and like I've said, no one has any distinguishing traits. As they walk, they talk about Petra and about Vicki. Judd's like "I'm not sure she'll even want me back," not an unreasonable assumption to make given how he's behaved towards her in the past.

Lionel cleared his throat and unzipped his backpack, looking for a water bottle. He found it and took a long drink. “You don’t think I’ve noticed? Not your looks.” Lionel tapped Judd’s chest. “In there. Something’s been going on. You’re treating people differently. I mean, you’re not perfect, but you’ve improved.”

:raises eyebrow: Yeah, just look how much Judd has changed. Before he was a posturing Alpha Male, a mini-Rayford really, now...we'll he's a complete nonentity who just goes from point A to point B without developing any distinguishing traits whatsoever. I seriously know nothing about Judd. Name one thing he likes besides God. Okay so he likes Vicki. Why? And don't say because he's contractually obligated to by the series' authors. What exactly does he like about Vicki? Judd might as well be played by a wooden stump or a rock with a face painted on it.

They see some guys that at first cause them to think, "hmm...they might be Tom and Luke, but as they get closer, they realize they aren't. I'm sure the guys will eventually be given names but for now, I'm going to call them the same thing the book calls them: Scarface and One Arm, because one guy has a scar on his face and the other has one arm. Scarface and One Arm both have the Mark, but those of you hoping that something, anything would happen to Judd and Lionel...hello, and welcome to the blog, is all I have to say.

The chapter ends with Lionel coughing and revealing their position to the two guys.

Next chapter begins with Judd and Lionel running like hell from Scarface and One Arm. For those of you confused, Scarface and One Arm are bounty hunters who make their living turning the unmarked over to the GC. Forgive me, but this whole chapter is one long action scene with brief interludes with Vicki. It's really impossible to snark. In an attempt to liven things up a little, I will provide some apropos music

I had planned on skipping the Vicki sections because all that happens is that she prays for Judd and Lionel, but it does mention this head-scratcher of a statement:

Cheryl Tifanne had gained weight with her pregnancy, and the girl sought Vicki out. She told Vicki that Marshall Jameson was a trained paramedic and would help deliver her child. Becky estimated that Cheryl was about six months away from giving birth.

The hell?! I say this because I peeked ahead (thank you, Wikipedia) and apparently Cheryl gives birth in the next set of books, even though this one says she's six months away from giving birth meaning that she's only three months pregnant. Either there's another time skip or Cheryl's baby is ridiculously premature or maybe gestation takes less time in the LB-verse or maybe Ellanjay are just hacks who can't be bothered to keep track of pertinent details because they have the Checklist to follow.

But back to Judd and Lionel. They run and run until they find the Bounty Hunters' truck. In the back of the truck is another believer all bound and gagged. Ellanjay don't immediately tell us who the hell this guy is, in a futile effort to build suspense, but I'll spoil it for you: it's Tom. His brother Luke got away and apparently this BoHu program that the GC is funding refers to Bounty Hunters. Also, rather than giving them actual guns that shoot actual bullets, the GC has chosen to give their Bounty Hunters, guns that shoot lasers and can be set on either stun or kill. They free Tom and continue running but the chapter ends with Judd hearing the sound of dogs on their trail.

The next chapter...more exciting!running!action...here's another song in an attempt to keep you from lapsing into a coma Be grateful: I briefly considered linking to A Flock of Seagulls.

Well, Scarface and One Arm actually manage to shoot Judd, Lionel, and Tom. As they're lying stunned on the ground, the Bounty Hunters banter as another one of their buddies, Dog Man shows up.

Another man Lionel hadn’t seen before ran up, panting and sweating. He patted the dogs and inspected the prisoners. “I get a piece of this action?” Dog Man said.
“I stopped them before the dogs ever got here,” Scarface said.
“Now hold on. I chased them toward you just like you asked. If I’d have known you wouldn’t give me a cut—”
“Stop your bellyachin’. I’ll give you half of one of them.”
The man looked at the ground, then squinted at Scarface. “That’s less than 20 percent! You know, this is going to seriously hurt our relationship—”
“Stop.”
“I mean it. I got dogs to feed. You cut me out like this and next time you call I might not show up.”

This is pretty much the only amusing part of this entire chapter and gives me once again, an excuse to use the "Ho Yay" tag.

The three are thrown into the back of the truck which is piled with a bunch of dead bodies. Now in a well-written novel, this would be a great scene of horror but the detail is mentioned in passing and Lionel's is pretty much "Meh" about it.

Tom then offers to take the bounty hunters to the rest of the Believers in the area if they let Judd and Lionel go. Before you get too worked up about this, Tom later reveals to Judd and Lionel that he's lying and doing this on purpose to buy more time for Luke to come and save them.

And I know I've already covered three chapters, but nothing's happened and there's only one chapter left in the book, so let's finish this sucker off. The sooner we get to the end of this series, the better.

Now they're at the Bounty Hunters' pad. One Arm rouses Judd and makes him eat. I have to say, Judd's being awfully whiny given that he's been kidnapped. Also since it's mentioned later on in the chapter that the GC pays a good bounty for the Unmarked, regardless whether they're brought in dead or alive, WHY ARE THE BOUNTY HUNTERS BEING SO DAMN NICE TO THEM?!

Judd, in a rare show of intelligence, tries to establish a bond with his captor. He manages to get One Arm to give him his name, which I'm not going to bother to learn because once the inevitable escape happens, we'll never see or hear from these guys again. One Arm reveals that he lost his arm to an alligator, not to one of Zod's myriad disasters which was what I thought. Judd asks One Arm if it bothers him killing people or taking people to be killed by the GC, to which One Arm just laughs and says the LB-verse equivalent of "Hell no!"

After they all have eaten, Judd, Lionel and Tom get together and pray that the writers God spares them.

The book ends with the Bounty Hunters taunting them and saying they have an appointment with the blade. But Ellanjay can't fool me. I've read over thirty of these books and I know, nothing will happen no matter how hard Ellanjay try to convince me that the characters are totally in danger and stuff will really happen this time! You can only fool someone so many times!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ellanjay's Writing is the Bane of Creative Writing Teachers Everywhere

The first chapter begins with a real clunker of a sentence, so bad I have decided to quote it in its entirety for everyone's amusement.

EACH day Judd awoke with a new sense of God’s provision and a fresh yearning for home.

Do I need to explain why this sentence would make any English major worth their salt want to drink a fifth of vodka just to make the hurting stop?

But as you know from years of reading my blog, it always gets worse.

Judd was glad for a few days of safety without having to worry about a GC attack. He struck up a friendship with the computer whiz, Naomi, and met more of Sam’s friends. Judd and Lionel helped people build tents and shelters, and in their spare time they climbed the heights of Petra and explored the ancient ruins with Sam.

Uh, Ellanjay, you wanna know what would be helpful? IF YOU SHOWED US ALL THIS INSTEAD OF TELLING US! I mean, if they had bothered to put forth any sort of effort, there's some good material here. You can show Judd meeting Naomi and establishing a friendship with her. One of my favorite tropes of post-apocalyptic lit is when the brave heroes try to rebuild a destroyed civilization. Since Petra hasn't been inhabited for centuries, it would be really interesting to see our heroes try to make the place livable by building homes and other necessities. All of this would be more interesting than the chapter we actually get, because what I suggested would develop the characters and give a chance to show off their skills, but that would require the writers to do research and include some world-building so we can't have that.

Instead, we get this paragraph and the rest of the chapter, I'll go ahead and spoil it for you: it's pretty much just Judd and co. watching the GC documentary about Nicky's resurrection. Why they feel the need to watch the news all the time when they know exactly what's going to happen...I don't know.

Judd emails Chang. Apparently Mr. Wong is dead. Naturally he became a believer before dying so Chang is spared having to live with the fact that the man who raised him is roasting in hell in the hands of an Angry God. Also, Chang's been doing some hacking and is worried about a new GC program called BoHu, but he can't figure out just what BoHu is. I suppose I could look it up on the wiki but I'm lazy. Besides, eventually it'll be laid out in excruciating detail for us.

But anyway, onto the documentary.

There's really not a lot to snark: it's standard propaganda puff piece with everyone talking about how Nicky is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life. I must say of all the faults Nicky has (chief among them, how badly he sucks at being a supervillain), I have to say this part makes sense. It'd make sense that a dictator like him would have his own Joseph Goebbels to promote his image.

Of course, Judd is all sickened and horrified by it. I still wonder why the hell he's watching it given that he knows all the prophecies and knows that Nicky's the anti-Christ, plus what kind of information would a propaganda piece have for him anyway? I suppose Ellanjay put it in here so they can show how horrible Nicky is, but like I've said so many times, given how much worse the hero of this series is, aka God, it fails.

The part Judd finds most horrible is when a three-year-old girl comes on screen and sings a song. It's basically "Jesus Loves Me" with Nicky's name put in it. I'm posting the lyrics so we can once again laugh at how badly Ellanjay and co. fail at scansion. Here's a hint: songs work better when you know about it.

“Nicolae loves me, this I see.
He came back from the dead for me.
Little ones praise him in song.
They are weak, but he is strong.
Yes, Nicolae loves me.
Yes, Nicolae loves me.
Yes, Nicolae loves me; he came back from the dead.”

The part with the little girl becomes even more horrifying when you take in account that she's three, meaning that given the time that's passed in the LB-verse, she was conceived in the immediate aftermath of the Great Slaughter Rapture. That part I don't have too much problem with; it's possible her parents, in the heat of an incredibly stressful moment, forgot the condoms, but given the kind of disasters this girl has witnessed in her short time on Earth...Again, the fact that Zod didn't make everyone sterile during the Great Tribulation only further proves that Zod's an even bigger dick than Superman.

When you take into account all the disasters Zod has inflicted, it's no wonder that the little girl and everyone else sides with Nicky. Nicky, for all his uselessness, has managed to maintain an infrastructure in spite of all these back-to-back Acts of Zod, thus managing to save more lives. But then again, the same kind of Zod mindset seems to govern US foreign policy. Whenever we discover a large portion of the world under the rule of some tin-pot dictator we don't like, we bomb the hell out of them, because that's what makes people like you, dropping a cruise missile on their family.

Okay, done with politics for now, back to the story.

After the documentary ends, Chaim (I will never call him Micah. I may have few principles but I stand by them) starts preaching. He starts with the basic "Nicky is Satan" speech but apparently Ellanjay did take a few minutes to try to think of some objections people might have to their brand of religion. Granted they're pretty half-hearted (like all critiques) but I take whatever I can get.

“How do you explain Nicolae’s resurrection?” someone yelled from the front. “How could he do that if he were not God?”
“Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die like everyone else, will live again. They are given eternal life for believing in me and will never perish.’ ”

Here's another idea for an LB-verse Drinking Game*: take a sip every time someone doesn't answer a reasonable question. Because that's what Chaim just did: rather than cite anything that might answer the question, he follows the GT lead and just starts spitting out bits of scripture at random.

Another anonymous heckler is like "But how do we know?" Chaim doesn't even bother to provide an answer; we just get more summarizing about how Judd watches him try to convince people.

Judd heard someone behind him say, “I’m not choosing. I believe Nicolae is a murderer, but I can’t believe in Jesus either.”
“Do not think that you can remain neutral about this issue,” Micah continued. “Jesus himself said, ‘Anyone who isn’t helping me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.’ If you choose against Christ, you are choosing for Nicolae.”

If anyone ever doubts that Ellanjay believe in the Gospel According to George W. Bush, just point them to this little quote. Also, anytime someone doubts Ellanjay's virulent anti-Semitism, point them here because they clearly say anyone (and that probably includes Jewish people) who doesn't follow Jesus, worships Satan.

Oh and I did look up Chaim's Jesus quote just to see what the gospels actually say. Surprise, surprise, if you google it, you discover that Jesus's verse was actually more nuanced than Ellanjay's paraphrase makes it out to be. I, for one, found this selection from Luke 9:49-56 interesting.

John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name; and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow along with us.” 50But Jesus said to him, “Do not hinder him; for he who is not against you is for you.”

When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem; and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him. But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem. When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But He turned and rebuked them, [and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”] And they went on to another village.

Judd's section finally ends and we cut to Vicki. It's a short, very boring passage where she talks with Charlie. Apparently he's copied out I Corinthians 13 aka the Love Chapter and wants to read it at Judd and Vicki's eventual wedding. Once again, I wonder about Charlie. They keep using the word "slow" to describe him which really cheeses me off. Give me some specifics, Ellanjay! Does he suffer from some kind of birth defect like Downs Syndrome or a minor form a brain damage or something? But I think Ellanjay don't give me specifics because that would require research and also because the reader might start asking questions about why a loving and benevolent God chose to let someone with such a mental defect suffer through the horrors of the Tribulation.

Anyway, back to Judd.

For the first time in many chapters/books, guess who's onscreen! Rayford Steele, aka the biggest douche in the LB-verse (ignoring Zod, of course) Naturally because kissing Buck's and Rayford's asses is one of the ten commandments of RTC-ianity, Judd is starstruck.

Judd had been thrilled to speak with Tsion Ben-Judah, but he was equally excited a few days later when he found Rayford Steele, a pilot and one of the original Tribulation Force members. They met outside the computer building, and Rayford invited Judd back to his small place. Captain Steele’s house, if it could be called that, was a tiny but well-built building that was big enough for a bed and his computer equipment.

Have to admit, when I started snarking this series, I thought we'd see A LOT more of Rayford and Buck. In fact, I thought the YTF's whole purpose would be to stand around while Rayford and Buck did stuff and constantly gush about how awesome Rayford and Buck are. Have to admit, there was a degree of that, especially in the single digit books, but high on my list of reasons why the Kids version is less excruciating than the adults (again, can't say it's good), is that Buck and Rayford rarely appear onscreen and are rarely mentioned at all. That makes my job both a lot easier (because I hate Rayford and Buck with the intensity of a thousand fiery suns) and a lot harder because you can make such good hay out of snarking Ellanjay's MarySuedom and the disgusting sexual politics of both their self-inserts.

Anyway, this section actually humanizes Rayford a little. Relax, it's still not good--workmanlike is more like it--but hearing Rayford talk about how he misses his grandson and almost wishes he hadn't married Amanda (because she wouldn't have been on that doomed flight if she hadn't met him) made me feel more than just deep-rooted loathing for his character and everything he stands for. That's an accomplishment for Ellanjay.

The chapter ends with Chang telling Judd that they've finally made arrangements for someone to fly him back to the states, specifically to South Carolina. Frankly, I wish they would just speed it up and get Judd and Vicki back together so we can get the forced romance over with, but at least, they'll be on the same continent again.

Well, I'm in a hurry--got things to do, people to see--so this week, it's just a one-chapter snark. But I think I've given you enough fodder for some good discussions.

*Once again I have to caution my readers: don't try a LB-verse drinking game. I don't want to be responsible for any cases of alcohol poisoning.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

What the Deep-Fried Hell?!

If you like reading about travel logistics and wrong-headed preaching, then this week's post is for you! Sorry it's late: yesterday was a busy day for me.

Those of you know I do have a tendency to repeat myself. I apologize for that but there's really only so many ways you can say Ellanjay Know Nothing About Humans or Their God is a Cruel Bastard. Like I said, maybe because I'm not experiencing the suffering first hand, but I find myself in awe of our dear Fred's ability to take only a few pages from the adult series and say so much more than just "This is awful." Fred, if by some chance you're reading this blog, me and all the other snarkers out there salute you. Here's a song for you.

Judd is sitting and waiting for the plane that will take him and Lionel to Petra. Once they get to Petra, they'll be flown back to the states. Ellanjay do try to set the stage, but given their hatred of painting in anything but broad strokes...yeah.

JUDD sat in the tiny car near a runway on the outskirts of Saarbr├╝cken and listened to Jacques explain the history of the region. The area had switched hands so many times in the past century that it was hard to keep up with all the changes. But one thing was certain: The Global Community now controlled Saarbr├╝cken.

Here I raise an eyebrow. Hasn't the Global Community controlled every place on earth except Petra for nearly four years now? Try to keep track of your worldbuilding, Ellanjay.

So Judd, Lionel, and Westin sit around and wait for five hours. After five hours with no plane in sight, Judd finally calls Chang to ask what's up. Chang's ever helpful response is to shrug his shoulders and say that the plane should have been there five hours ago.

We do get a mention of that paragon of awesomeness aka Taylor Graham. That's the sole reason I'm quoting this section. For those who haven't yet been exposed to the awesomeness that is Taylor Graham, I'll give you a quick primer. Taylor Graham was Conrad's brother and while he didn't kiss the Tribbles' ass and kneel before Zod, he still rebelled against the GC. Unlike the so-called rebels in this series, Taylor actually did stuff rather than just pull stupid pranks and look disdainful. He remains the only character who recognized the gap between the GC's words and actions: everyone else just assumed being a pistol-packing pacifist made perfect sense. He died, along with his partner in awesome, in a suitably cool fashion, thumbing his nose both at the GC and Zod. If you want to know more, click the tag "Taylor is Awesome."

Judd thought of Taylor Graham, a pilot who had taken a lot of chances to help the kids. It was a plan Taylor would have loved, but Judd felt queasy as he explained it to the others.

I find myself wondering why the writers felt a need to mention Taylor again. Is this just their annoying habit of dredging up forgotten characters or is there some deeper zen meaning? Ah, heck, y'all are probably tired of me going on and on about Taylor so let's move on.

A plane finally lands. But horrors of horrors, both the plane and the pilot have the GC logo. However will our brave heroes escape?!

Well for those of you who were finally hoping something exciting would happen...gotta break it to you. Nothing happens. Turns out the pilot's an RTC named Jerry Kingston and the Mark's a fake. I have no idea if Jerry Kingston appears in the adult books and I'm too lazy to look it up for myself, but Ellanjay do bother to give us a description.

The man was just under six feet tall, had sandy blond hair, and a day’s growth of beard. On his forehead was a -6, the mark of the United North American States. He put his palm to the mark, rubbed it hard, then grasped the edges with his fingers and peeled it from his skin. “Friend of mine made this for me. Lets me move around the GC without drawing suspicion.” He put out his hand. “Jerry Kingston. Are you Westin?”

Again, they make a point in mentioning his height even though the only way someone would know someone's exact height just by looking at them would be if this was staged in front of one of those height things at the gas station. But it's vitally important for the audience to know that while Jerry's a manly RTC, he's not as manly as Our Buck or St. Rayford, both of whom are taller than six feet.

So now that they're in the air, Jerry decides to tell us his story. :whimpers: I'll sum it up. Jerry was in the Air Force, doing a tour overseas (they never say where overseas) with his RTC buddy, Brad. While they were flying, the Rapture happened, Brad was bamfed out of his flight suit and plane. Jerry later joined the GC, but had his qualms about some of the stuff they were having him do.

“Then I started noticing things about the GC. Orders that came down that didn’t seem like what a peace-loving group would do. When I challenged them, I was told the orders came from the highest level.”

Have to admit when I first read this line, I got a little excited thinking maybe we finally, finally have another character who recognizes the gap between Nicky's alleged pacifistic beliefs and his actions. But how quickly, how very quickly that hope was squelched. Oh, Taylor Graham, no one can replace you and I should really stop grasping at any hope that someone could.

“What did they ask you to do?” Judd said.
“Just drop a little nuclear warhead on London,” Jerry said with a scowl. “Can you believe I did that?”
“I remember that,” Lionel said. “Thousands were killed.”

:grinds teeth: So Jerry's killed thousands of people by his own admission but the RTCs just welcome him with open arms, not even bothering to suggest he be tried as a war criminal, even though, yeah, I'm fairly certain the Hague would consider nuking London to be a war crime and Nuremburg proved you can't use, "I was just following orders," as an excuse. To be fair, I'm not sure the RTCs have the means to hold war crimes tribunals but they have all these planes and just about every other kind of tech at Petra, so don't try to tell me they're just a plucky group of rag-clad rebels.

Before, you mention Paul, keep in mind we're talking about completely different scales. Nuking a major metropolitan city is on a completely different scale from his alleged persecution of the church back when he was called Saul. I'm sure there are some London RTCs who will admit they're glad Jerry's an RTC, they probably still want to see justice done.

More and more, I think of the conundrum aunursa likes to propose to RTCs: if Hitler or one of the SS made a sincere confession of faith before they died, would they go to Heaven while Anne Frank and the rest of their victims burned in Hell?

Sorry to make so much hay over a few lines, but it cheesed me off.

Jerry admits that after nuking London he couldn't live himself, so he flew out into the ocean, planning to dive-bomb and kill himself. But he has an epiphany and pulls out of the nosedive just in time. He googles "eternity" and apparently Token Jew's website was the first thing that came up. In the interest of curiosity, I'm going to do the same. Well, I have to say I'm disappointed. Most of what came up was just definitions. I was hoping it'd be porn so I could make a cheap "Internet is for Porn" joke and provide some links to the few, the proud, the blog-readers. Sorry.

Anyway, after reading Token Jew's site, Jerry converted, left the GC, and became a member of the Co-Op.

Second chapter, they finally, at long last, arrive in Petra.

Lionel walks around eating the manna and quail that magically falls from Heaven. Ignoring the fact that bamfing some manna from Heaven into the hands of an undecided would really help them make a decision, I've gotta say, "Zod, could you bother to send down some lime trees or something? Ever hear of Scurvy? It's not a fun way to go."

We then get to the wrong-headed preaching part of this week's section, when Lionel finally decides to ask some questions of Token Jew. His question is essentially this: after all these miracles, how come people still don't believe.

Yeah, about these miracles...let's consult Wikipedia for the definition of a miracle.

A miracle is an event not explicable by natural or scientific laws. Such an event may be attributed to a supernatural being (God or gods), a miracle worker, a saint or a religious leader. Theologians say that, with divine providence, gods regularly work through created nature yet are free to work without, above, or against it as well.

The word "miracle" is often used to characterise any beneficial event that is statistically unlikely but not contrary to the laws of nature, such as surviving a natural disaster, or simply a "wonderful" occurrence, regardless of likelihood, such as a birth. Other miracles might be: survival of an illness diagnosed as terminal, escaping a life-threatening situation or 'beating the odds'. Some coincidences may be seen as miracles

I suppose if we use that definition then Zod has been doing miracles, but it's the nature of these miracles we need to talk about. If terrorists rendered your water undrinkable, killing millions, would your kneejerk response be to embrace their beliefs because clearly their cause is right and just? Didn't think so. RTCs are basically as many have put it, Cthulhu cultists except that Lovecraft, who by all accounts was a racist asshole, at least he knew you couldn't claim that the Old Ones did what they did out of love.

So Lione's like "Why can't God just make them believe?" Here's Token Jew's response.

“Our God is sovereign, which means he is involved in all of the events of this world. He knew you would ask this question. He knew Judd would not accept his parents’ faith and be left behind. He knew my family would be killed.”

Again, by their own admission, Ellanjay admit that God is responsible for all the evil in this 'verse. Maybe you think I'm being extreme but if you say God is involved in all the events in this world, you can't credit him with the good without crediting him with the bad.

Lionel then asks the obvious question: "Why didn't he stop that?" And of course, Token Jew gives a weaksauce answer.

“Our ways are not his ways. I do not understand why he let my family be killed, but I know that he is in control. And though we would like to make everyone believe the truth about him, he has chosen to give each person the freedom to choose or reject him.”

Yeah, about that...I've got to dredge up a question I ask a lot about RTCs. Since they came up with that weaselly Age of Accountability shtick, I'm going to assume that those under twelve, along with miscarriages and stillbirths, are safe. But what about the profoundly retarded unable to choose or reject or uncontacted peoples like the people of North Sentinel Island? I've heard regarding uncontacted people that RTCs will allow them in, saying that God forgives them for never having heard of Christ, but in that case, why do they send out missionaries to try to convert people? Remember, if they've heard of Christ and rejected him, they go to Hell when they die, whereas if they'd never been witnessed to by the missionaries, they'd get into Heaven.

Lionel scrunched up his face and looked around the room. “I’m not trying to be difficult. I really don’t understand how God can want people to come to him and not make it happen.”

“If God forced people to become believers, they would have no choice. They would be acting like robots. Instead, God demonstrated his love by dying for them, in their place on the cross, and allows each person to accept or reject God’s sacrifice.”

Every hear of a Hobson's Choice, Ellanjay? You've made it clear that those who choose to reject wind up in Hell, so no one really has a choice here.

The conversation, thankfully draws to an end after this, with Chaim and Token Jew basically saying, keep trying to rack up converts, which would be nice advice if Lionel ever actually followed it. But he doesn't.

The chapter ends with Vicki's viewpoint. They've made it to the new hideout and settled in. Tanya's upset because her father's dead, but I have a feeling this won't lead to her reading the other parts of the Bible and asking Vicki some very pointed questions.

Most of the section is taken up with Marshall giving his testimony. Not another testimony in less than two chapters. Make the bad men stop with that overused plot device! A hint to aspiring writers out there: having sections where a character drones on about their life and choices is boring as hell. There's a reason everyone skips the Chapter Two of a Babysitters' Club novel.

Because this snark is getting hella long, I'll try to wrap it up. Marshall owned a Christian Radio station and knew a lot of preachers and a lot of Bible verses but didn't have Jesus in his heart. When the Rapture happened, he was left behind. He got religion and has been an RTC since.

Sorry that this post is hella long and ranty. All I can say is buttons were pushed.