Sunday, July 26, 2015

Consent, Mothereffers! Learn what it means!

Before I begin, I feel a need to apologize to my good readers. Because from what I've seen of this week's selection, looks like I'm going to have to repeat myself yet again, by doing more rants about how RTCs have issues with sex and can't grasp the idea of mothereffing consent. It's just one of those issues that keeps cropping up again and again in the RTC culture, because as many will tell you, refusing to acknowledge the existence of a problem doesn't make it go away. Fred Clark has already written a damn good post on this, talking about while the RTCs see the Josh Duggar mess as a "young man strayed and committed the act of premarital sex, before marriage." They see it as a "youthful mistake" and justify it as "We've all strayed and fallen short of the glory of God." Whereas those outside the RTC bubble know there is a big difference between a pair of teenagers deciding to get it on, even though they're not :gasp: married, and preying on your sisters. Again, I apologize for the repetitiveness of this post and right now, I am silently preying that neither this post nor any I've made in the past, accidentally stumble into Funny Aneurysm Moment territory.

But before we get to talking about RTC hangups regarding sex, we start off with Judd and Westin, who are basically hiding in a hole-in-the-ground, just like they've done for 90% of this series. Because we could follow Klaus and Rainer, aka those guys who are taking on the GC in order to keep them from finding their hideout, but that level of excitement might actually raise the readers' pulses a little and we can't have that.

But horrors of horrors! The only TV they have done in the hole-in-the-ground is broken, so Judd and Westin can't watch the GC broadcast and make sarcastic quips about it. Quelle horror...

Ellanjay, as though anticipating my complaints about Judd and Westin are the least interesting characters right now (because they could be doing something, anything besides squatting underground), do have Westin make a token protest about how he didn't feel right having others fight for him. Surprisingly enough, Judd doesn't chastise him for forgetting the sacred RTC duty of Doing Nothing, but as you probably guessed, the complaint is dropped pretty quickly and nothing comes of it. Spoiler alert: Judd and Westin accomplish Jack in this chapter. I know, you're shocked too.

Westin quotes a passage from Psalm 147 and talks about how he used to believe he was hot stuff, but now has decided that if God wants to use him, he'll let him use him however he wants. In his words: "If it means I’m flying supplies, that’s great. If it means I’m holed up in this dark, stinky septic tank, that’s okay.”

Yeah...I suppose I could point them towards this poem by St. Teresa of Avila but given that Teresa of Avila was :gasp: a Catholic and RTCs have traditionally held a dim view of Catholics (though Roe vs. Wade has forced the two sides into an uneasy alliance), I don't think they'd get the message. Because even though I know the PMDs believe that this cockamamie scheme must go forth, that God cannot change his mind (though chapter four of Jonah proves that he can), but even still, the Tribbles could be doing stuff, besides making disdainful comments while hiding away from Nicky. But everyone knows that all that BS about feeding the hungry, taking care of the sick, clothing the naked, and visiting the imprisoned, would only cut into valuable gloating time.

Eventually the rest of the German believers show up and we hear about the fate of Klaus and Rainer. Of course, it's told secondhand, robbing it of any emotional impact and you can't help but think that it would have been more exciting to ACTUALLY WITNESS IT FIRSTHAND RATHER THAN SPEND A FEW PAGES WITH JUDD AND WESTIN CONTEMPLATING THEIR NAVELS! But as one of those heathen Methodists, my judgment might be faulty.

I'm going to quote the conversation about Klaus and Rainer's fate. I weighed out whether or not to promote them to the League of Awesome Characters Who Are Totally Off on in their Own Books Doing Awesome Stuff While the Tribbles Dick Around Doing Nothing (League of Awesome, for short), but while they're much more interesting than the Tribbles, didn't see enough in their short appearance onscreen to warrant adding them to the League of Awesome. As of right now, the League consists of Taylor, Hasina, Joel, and Dr. Rose. If anyone knows of any other characters to add to the list, let me know.

“We need to stay here for a while,” Gunther said. “The Peacekeepers are back, but we’re hoping they won’t find our hideout.”

“What about Rainer and Klaus?” Westin said.

“They’re dead.”

“But not before they took a half dozen GC with them,” a younger man said.

“What happened?” Judd said.

“Rainer and Klaus tried to get the GC to chase them away from the safe house,” Gunther said. “It worked for a while, but then the GC surrounded them. After a firefight, the GC won.”

“We’re kicking ourselves for not going to their rescue,” Helga said. “We should have at least used the remote guns.”

“You know that wouldn’t have done any good,” Gunther said.

Judd thought of Rainer’s wife. They were together now, reunited in heaven.

“Why didn’t you set off the booby traps?” Westin said.

Helga sat forward and took some beef jerky from a tin. “We left the entrance on automatic. If the GC find it and crawl inside, the whole place will go up. All the evidence will be destroyed.”

Uh, Helga, I know I keep harping on this point and I keep wanting to hit up aunursa and find out if the series ever bothers to address my reoccurring complaint, but why exactly do the RTCs shy away from martyrdom? They have what none of their readers ever get: actual proof that all this shit is real. They know that when they die, they can spend the rest of the Tribulation living it up in Heaven as opposed to squatting in a hole and eating canned food on Earth, in addition to numerous other perks given to those who die before TurboJesus comes. So like I keep saying WHY AREN'T THEY ACTIVELY SEEKING MARTYRDOM EVERY TIME THE OPPORTUNITY PRESENTS ITSELF?!

After that conversation, we cut to Vicki and here's where we get into all that stuff about sex and consent that I was mentioning earlier. Once again, I apologize for the repetitiveness of it all, but then again, Ellanjay are much more repetitive than I am. Plus, I like to think my rants are more enjoyable to read.

Vicki's wringing her hands about how she can't contact Judd when one of the YTF, Shelly, emerges from the background. Increasingly I start to wonder if the Minor Characters don't just clump together into a big cloud, breaking off from the Collective only when the script says it's their turn to be onstage and say a few lines.

If you're wondering, Shelly's turn onstage involves her relationship with Conrad. Aka that relationship that is never seen and the only reason I know the existence of it, is periodically Vicki narrates about it. First time it was mentioned, was several books back where she said that Shelly and Conrad were getting close. Since we never actually saw them interact with each other, I keep debating whether this relationship qualifies as a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment or is more a case of Strangled by the Red String. Yeah, I don't know what I did in the dark days before TV Tropes either.

Anyway, that was the extent of their mentioning of Conrad and Shelly's relationship until the last book where it was mentioned that they were fighting. Like I said, it was quickly brought up and no one bothered to explore it any further. I had no idea why they were fighting. Their sudden anger towards one another was as inexplicable as their love for each other.

But Vicki finally asks "What's going on between you and Conrad?" And I'm fighting the urge to have Shelly say, "The writers decided that they didn't want to share a solid-gold Humvee so they brought this up again to pad out the book." I know, you're getting tired of all the jokes about padding, but dammit! They make it so easy! Lesser writers follow the rules of fiction where there's a clear narrative arc with a rising action and a climax, followed by falling action and a denouement. Lesser writers actually understand the principle of Chekhov's Gun in that if you mention a plot element, it has to pay off at some point down the road. Or in other words, HAVING ALL THIS PERTINENT CHARACTER/PLOT DEVELOPMENT COME WAY THE HELL OUT OF NOWHERE AND HAVE NO BEARING ON ANYTHING THAT IS TO FOLLOW, IS REALLY SHITTY WRITING!

Well anyway, here's Shelly's tale of woe:

She paused a moment more, then looked at Vicki. “We were fixing up one of the cabins with Charlie—this was before the heat wave and before Judd came back.

Charlie ran for some supplies, and Conrad asked if he could kiss me. I got kind of uncomfortable. We had both said we wouldn’t put ourselves in a situation where we were alone together, you know, so we wouldn’t be tempted. When I hesitated, he thought I didn’t like him anymore. Then I tried to explain and things really got bad. I know it was only a kiss, but I just didn’t feel right.”

“You guys talked after that, right?”

“Shouted is more like it. He said if I didn’t trust him that we should break things off and just be friends. But we haven’t been, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.”


I suppose I could make the obvious point of how of course, they just kissed. Because one of the rules of Christian Fiction is, "You can't have any of the characters, even the bad guys, commit any sins, especially not the heinous act of intercourse."

But if Ellanjay had allowed it to get any further, like have Conrad cop a feel or something, then once again, they'd find themselves in uncomfortable territory. On one hand, Conrad is a teenage boy and we can't expect a teenage boy to do something as gauche as control themselves and respect their partner's wishes, but on the other hand, Shelly was probably tempting him, what with her being all female and whatnot. It was her fault for being by herself and advertising how blatantly female she is, what with her ankle-length skirt and those bumps in her shirt.

:headdesk: And people say feminists are the ones with regressive views of men. Funny thing, RTCs, we feminists actually believe that men are something more than a mangy alley cat driven to screw everything in sight. We actually believe that they are capable of controlling themselves like humans do. But then again, we're just weird that way what with our insistence that it's consent that matters when it comes to sex, not the participants' gender/marital status, so what do we know.

“I think you did the right thing saying no,” Vicki said. “Something in your gut told you it didn’t feel right.”

“But Conrad’s nice. He would never do anything—”

“Doesn’t matter,” Vicki said. “If you feel something’s not good and you push that down, you stop listening to the voice God gave you.”

“What do you mean, ‘voice’?”

“I think God gives us something inside that tells us when things don’t feel right. The times when I got into the most trouble, before I became a believer, were times when I didn’t listen to that feeling, that voice that was telling me to watch out. And I know a lot of other girls who’ve had those same feelings but didn’t listen to them because they were afraid they’d hurt somebody’s feelings.”

In the interest of trying to be a little less relentlessly negative, I will say that at least they didn't have Vicki say something about how she shouldn't have been alone with this guy or tempted him by being all female. But what they do have her say...it's not much of an improvement. Because what if Shelly hadn't been able to get away? What if Conrad had tried to take it further and didn't back down as soon as she started objecting? Do I need to go any further with this line of thinking?

Vicki advises Shelly to talk to Conrad, saying that maybe he feels as bad about all this as she does. Then Shelly, recognizing that Vicki is a Main Character aka someone who matters above all else, turns the conversation back to her. And I have a feeling this is the extent of the Shelly-Conrad subplot. Next time they bring it up, I bet it'll be a one line deal where Vicki makes some off-hand statement about how they were fighting but they've totally made up now.

Vicki talks about Token Jew's latest missive about all the children in the millennial kingdom and all that. Vicki seems quite excited about taking care of the kids and that's about it.

We cut back to Judd. Judd and the Germans have been doing nothing but hiding for two days. Since the story has given me nothing else to talk about, I'm forced to start thinking about logistics. Like what are they doing, bathroom-wise? If they're going with a traditional septic-style system (because you know Ellanjay would look at you blankly if you brought up composting toilets), well, those will still have to be periodically cleaned out, so they're still connected to the grid. I suppose I could try to guess how many people are hiding down there, so I can make some guess at how long before the system fills up and the ration situation, but this is probably one of those things that only a Doomsday Prepper Buff* like myself would care about.

Anyway, the alarms aren't working at the hideout and the chapter ends with this futile attempt at suspense.

A group rushed down the hall, and Judd thought someone was coming with food. Then he heard the click of rifles and shouts from the kitchen. Helga jumped up and darted for the hall but stopped dead in her tracks.

A GC Peacekeeper stuck a gun through the door. “On the floor! Now!”

Yeah, I'm not even going to bother to read ahead for next week, because we all know this will come to absolutely nothing, JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER TIME A TRIBBLE WAS CAPTURED BY THE GC! BECAUSE ELLANJAY APPARENTLY BELIEVE THAT THEIR AUDIENCE CONSISTS OF ELDERLY HEART PATIENTS WHO CAN'T HANDLE ANY EXCITEMENT!

Though to be fair, that might be an insult to elderly heart patients.

Anyway that's it for this week. Take care of yourselves until next week.

*Please don't judge me: we all have our guilty pleasures. If you're wondering, most of those people on the show, I just think, "Boys and their toys," some are deluded psychos (Tyler Smith, season three), but there are a few where you're like, "If something goes down, I totally want this guy on my side."

Sunday, July 19, 2015

As Preachy As I Want to Be

Hey everybody! Again, sorry about last week, but I'm here right now, so let's get to this.

Like I said last week, Judd is in New Babylon with some German guys, having been delayed in his efforts to get to Petra, because of vital, plot-related purposes that certainly have nothing to do with money. This is vital stuff that cannot be safely excised from the story because otherwise the readers would lose much needed plot/character development. Important stuff is happening!

Okay, I think I've run this joke thoroughly into the ground. I scoured TV Tropes trying to find the one perfect trope that describes this whole thing with the Germans in New Babylon. The closest term I can think of is Plot Tumor, but I'm not sure if that's the best term. It is somewhat accurate in that like a tumor, it saps away strength and the plot skids to a halt, but then again, given how little anything that happens in this series has to do with what happens next or what happened previously, I'm forced to conclude that this entire series is nothing but plot tumors stringed together.

I suppose you could point out, as many have, in Raiders of the Lost Ark that Indiana Jones's actions have very little bearing on the plot, that if Indy had stayed home and played canasta with his buddies, the Nazis still would have gotten their faces melted, but at least, Indiana Jones had awesome stunts to go with its illogic. There are no cool moments in the LB-verse: no awesome one-liners or Crowning Moments of Awesome. Yeah, I know, I need to deal with my addiction to TV Tropes, but there is a reason they have a page called "TV Tropes Will Ruin Your Life."

Plus in Raiders of the Lost Ark, when the bad guys get their faces melted off, at least, you know they've done something to deserve it, by virtue of being Nazis. Like I said, no matter how much the characters talk about how eeeevil Nicky is, I have to take his side. He's doing his best to try to keep the infrastructure intact, try to keep the world together, actions which would save more lives than anything the RTCs have done, which is mostly wring their hands and pray that the heathens became RTCs before they died. So yeah, I'm on Team Satan, because everyone else sucks.

Anyway, so Judd is watching while the German believers run around trying to secure the hideout. Given what I read last week, how the text seemed to imply that even though the Germans had the Zod-Mark and believed in all the PMD stuff, that they were totally interpreting this all wrong somehow, I thought there'd be some part where Judd patronizingly explains how they're totally wrong for wanting to do stuff or something. Guess what? Judd and Westin's actions amount to fuck-all in this chapter! They could have been safely cut out of the story and it wouldn't affect anything. In fact, I'm starting to wonder if the Tribbles aren't basically cardboard cut-outs painted lime green, because as I keep saying, nothing happens. They go from plot point to plot point, just gawking at all the suffering and misery like a bunch of slack-jawed yokels. Even when Lionel lost his arm, it didn't seem to impact him much!

Anyway, Judd's delicate sensibilities are shaken as the Germans talk about bombs and booby traps. Because even though he's a member of a resistance group, apparently the idea that they might be forced to kill GC soldiers in order to protect themselves and others, never occurred to him. Even though we're six years into the Apocalypse...

Judd had felt unnerved by Rainer and the others talking about war and killing. There was quite a difference in being against the Global Community—escaping from them and fighting for the souls of people who had not yet taken the mark—and actually killing Carpathia followers. On the other hand, God was going to judge evil. Judd wanted to hear what Tribulation Force leaders would say. Would they actually shoot to kill and be a part of the final battle?

:headdesks:

Someone really needs to tell me why exactly, no matter how much stupidity you get exposed to (and there's a lot of it on the Internet), it never stops burning?

Because every time the Tribbles are all "Oh noes!" about all the killing, I'm like, you guys have read ahead, right? Here's a hint: when TurboJesus returns, he comes packing heat. There really is no difference between you killing them and TurboJesus killing them, because THEY'LL STILL WIND UP IN HELL HAVING THEIR INTESTINES PULLED OUT BY DEMONS NO MATTER WHO DOES THE JOB!

Do they think it hurts less to be eviscerated by TurboJesus as opposed to an anti-aircraft missile or whatever the Tribbles use?!

Besides, we've seen time and time again, how Ellanjay feel about pacifism. Even though there's a long tradition of Christian Pacifism, they spend so much time worrying about wolves in sheep's clothing that they fail to see that it's the wolves in wolves' clothing responsible for most of the misery in the world. Here's a hint: Adolf Hitler didn't rally Germany by being all hippie-dippie peaceful.

But yeah, it's stuff like this...given the dim view RTCs have of pacifism, you wonder why Amish fiction is so popular among them. Because that's a major part of their tradition, aside from the buggies and funny clothes.

Plus as many will point out, pacifism is not synonymous with being a wuss. There are many examples of this throughout history, but the story of Dirk Willems from the Anabaptist tradition, is a good example of the difference between RTCs and, y'know, actual Christianity. Because in that story, Willems could have interpreted his pursuer falling through the ice as proof that he had God's favor and just let the poor man drown; instead, Willems went back and rescued his pursuer, an action that led to him being martyred.

So yeah, shut up, Ellanjay. Because you suck at everything!

Sorry to get so long-winded. Buttons were pushed, is all I can say.

Anyway, while Judd and Westin are just watching stuff, Rainer and Klaus leave the hideout with guns, in hopes of drawing the GC away. I'll spoil it for you: we find out in the next chapter they die. And of course it's all told secondhand, robbing the reader of any opportunity to feel anything for the characters. Granted they wouldn't have felt much, given that we'd just been introduced to the Germans, but still.

They cut to Vicki's section and as you guessed, nothing really happens. The Brave Tribbles Bravely Watch the news and Bravely Say Disdainful Things about Nicky (though they're safely hidden away so they're in no real danger), but Vicki does receive an email from Token Jew.

There really isn't much to snark regarding his missive. Just that Token Jew is all "Trust God" regarding her marriage to Judd. But we do get a nice example of Ellanjay's talent for completely missing the point regarding scripture.

Y'see Token Jew cites Luke 16:19-31. This is one of the most famous stories from the gospels. You may know it as "The Rich Man and Lazarus" story and while I could just provide a link, I'm going to quote the entire passage, because it needs quoting.

The Rich Man and Lazarus

19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Now throughout history, most people interpreted the moral of this story as "Seriously don't be an Asshole and ignore the appalling misery lurking beyond your doorstep." Whoever wrote this passage would probably agree with the sentiment in this photo on Facebook. Yeah, much of the stuff that gets circulated on Facebook is pretty much worthless (see previous mentions about Internet and stupidity), but occasionally you find a gem. James certainly would.

But according to Token Jew, me, along with James and many others throughout history, have been interpreting "The Rich Man and Lazarus" all wrong. Here's how we should read it, according to Ellanjay's mouthpiece:

The story of the rich man in hell and Lazarus who was a believer—see Luke 16:19-31—is quite clear. In the next life we will still recognize not only those we knew on earth, but as Lazarus, he recognized Abraham who had lived hundreds of years before him. Even those in torment recognized those in paradise. That would indicate we all will recognize one another in the next life. Remember, Paul said, “For me to depart and be with Christ is far better.” So we will have an even better relationship then than we do now.

...

It's times like this all I can really say is, "Wow..." Because somehow the message that Token Jew managed to take from this passage, which has tugged at the hearts of so many Christians throughout history, is not, like I said, "Don't be an Asshole who Ignores the Appalling Misery of your fellow man," but, "When we get to Heaven, all those horrible sinful sinners will be able to watch us living it up in the golden light of Heaven, while they get their insides pulled out by demons." There really are no swears, no curses that adequately describe what I'm feeling right now.

I will admit that I will not make any definitive statements regarding the afterlife. I am not God, so I am in no position to dictate who will burn in Hell and who will go to Heaven. I'm one of those weirdoes who tends to believe, like that friend Anne Lamott quoted, that “You can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”

I will make a few statements regarding the afterlife, though. My views are mostly in line with Slacktivist's in that while there is much we do not know about God or Jesus, how much actually happened and how much was filled in (because the Gospels weren't meant to be history books, no matter what RTCs believe about them), but I do believe that reading the stories of Jesus gives you some insight into the character of God. And frankly I can't picture Jesus, aka the guy who said "Forgive them, father" as his enemies were torturing and killing him, being the kind of guy who roasts people for all eternity for the horrific crime of not saying The Prayer.

Because while most people would, on occasion, envision all the bad people of the world being punished, preferably in a similar fashion proposed by the Mikado in Gilbert and Sullivan's musical, most would blanche at the idea of it lasting for all eternity without any possibility of parole or release or whatever. Plus, in that song, the Mikado was singing about punishing people who had actually done something to deserve it and by deserving it, I don't mean "They believed slightly different things about our Invisible Sky Daddy!"

I could also point out that the Luke passage in question never says that Lazarus ever said The Prayer and became a good RTC. It said he was a beggar who lived in squalor yet went to Heaven, whereas the Rich Man, who ignored his suffering, went to Hell. That believer line is just Token Jew leaping to conclusions: that of course, Lazarus was an RTC, who believed in every dot and tittle of PMD teachings, even though most people were illiterate and he probably didn't own a Bible, and Darby/Scofield, who compiled this convoluted time line, didn't exist yet.

So for all we know, regarding Lazarus, is that he may have lived and died a Jew or maybe he believed in something else entirely. You can't automatically jump to the conclusion that he was an RTC, especially since during the time Luke was written, the people of that time had entirely different issues/concerns from modern-day Christians.

...

I'm sorry, I really didn't mean to be so damn preachy this week. Like I said, buttons were pushed.

We cut back to Judd, who is continuing to play the part of Brave Sir Robin, as he watches Rainer and Klaus (aka those guys who are actually doing stuff that would be exciting to see onscreen) fire at the GC in an attempt to lead them away from the hideout. We must never forget how Ellanjay know nothing about what makes for good, dramatic storytelling as we just watch Judd wring his hands and PEOPLE TALK ABOUT WHAT'S HAPPENING, AS OPPOSED TO SHOWING ANY OF IT! But I suppose that might lead to the readers being like, "Okay, so why exactly aren't the Tribbles, y'know, joining them? Given that they know if they die, they get a one-way pass into Heaven and are spared horrific misery, you'd think they'd actively seek martyrdom at the hands of the GC. Why aren't they?" And we can't have the readers asking those kinds of questions, we just can't.

Anyway, the chapter ends with another guy, Gunther (because all foreigners have Obvious Foreign Names, remember?), leading Judd and Westin away to a super-secret, even more underground part of the hideout, where they'll be safe. Why are they only leading Judd and Westin to this super hideout? Because the rest of the German believers know that as Minor Characters, they are at best ancillary satellites to the Main Characters. They know that the Main Characters matter above all else and that the best a Minor Character can hope for, is a few lines/moments onstage, and for a Main Character to cast his shining countenance upon them.

Okay, they do make a half-assed attempt to justify taking Judd and Westin to the hideout. They say it's because Westin is the only pilot here and Judd has a fiancée waiting for him, but a reasonably bright Kindergartener could poke holes in that wet tissue paper-thin logic.

And I'm done for this week. I apologize again for getting so damn preachy, but like I said, buttons were pushed. Also, it's my blog and I'll be as damn preachy as I want to be! In the mean time, take care of yourselves and remember that apparently there's no such thing as "justifiable homicide in defense of art" so no matter how tempting it may be, to beat out lengthy messages in Morse Code on Ellanjay's skull using a tire iron, it just isn't worth it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Do You Hear the People Sing

Sorry for the lateness of the post. Combination of "There was stuff going on" as well as general laziness. But I'm here now.

So like I said last week, Judd and Westin are stranded in New Babylon, because their plane exploded. It has absolutely nothing to do with padding, none whatsoever. Yeah...I really probably shouldn't have created that "So Much Padding" tag, because of course, it'd be overused.

So Judd and Westin, along with Rainer, who I'm basically picturing him looking and sounding like Rainier Wolfcastle, because I am desperate for some form of entertainment here. Thought I should probably warn you: the bulk of this chapter is taken up with Rainer explaining how he came to love Big Brother. So forgive me if my snark isn't that great, because yeah, it is damn near impossible to snark something that's been done so many damn times. :whimpers:

Anyway, Rainer believes that they were meant to be in New Babylon based on a prophecy written in Revelation 18. Because a key thing to remember, regarding Ellanjay's beliefs: all the prophets of the Bible, they weren't actually writing about their specific time or their people, many of whom were undergoing horrific suffering at the hands of mighty empires. Ellanjay believes it was all written for RTCs at some indeterminate point in the future.

Ellanjay don't quote the entire chapter of Revelation 18, though they do quote the bulk of it, but as I read it, I don't claim to have Slacktivist's education in scripture, but beneath all the florid imagery, it sure sounds an awful lot like John (or whoever wrote it) was talking about Rome. Y'know, that empire that was persecuting the Christians at the time John wrote his letter, the same empire with a long history of brutal subjugation, the same empire where the majority toiled, gave their lives and their bodies, while an elite lived quite comfortably. I mean, it's not like most of the stuff listed in the 11-13 verses were luxury goods, thus implying that the wealthy elite partied and lived comfortably, while its citizens lived in absolute squalor. Oh wait.

Anyway, Westin is all, "So why do you guys want to hang around a city that's going to be destroyed by God?" Rainer gives this response.

Rainer smiled. “When it says, ‘Come away from her, my people,’ we believe that means there will be true followers of God right in New Babylon. We couldn’t imagine who they would be, and then God placed a desire on our hearts to come here and either join this band of brave fighters or become a part of the biblical history.”

"And of course, when it says, 'Come away from her, my people,' Revelation certainly isn't saying, 'Walk away from a system built on a brutal hierarchy that takes the resources, the sweat and the labor, and even the lives of the people at the bottom, and sends it to a wealthy elite.' That's communism! Next you'll be saying that we should actually feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit those in prison as opposed to just reading verses about it. We're followers of Christ, not of some hippie-dippie Islamo-commie-fascism that dictates that everyone be treated with basic decency whether they have one dollar or one billion dollars."

Anyway, Westin raises some eyebrows at all this, though I don't really know why. From what I can tell, either Rainer's group actually believes in doing stuff (violating the sacred Tribbles ethos of doing nothing) or they have an interpretation that is slightly different from Token Jew's, which means it's wrong, regardless of whether they believe every word of the PMD timeline and even if they don't do anything. Because a cursory study of history shows that the cause of so many wars can be summed up as, "They believe slightly different things about our Invisible Sky Daddy! Let's kill them!" or "Let's kill these innocents to show that we will not tolerate the slaughter of innocents!"

:sighs: Increasingly I think that George Santayana's quote-"Those who do not learn from the past, are condemned to repeat it"--needs a corollary: Yet those who do learn from the past, are condemned to watch helplessly while everyone else repeats it.

Anyway, here's what Westin says:

“Those verses beg some questions,” Westin said. “If God’s people are supposed to come out, how are they supposed to do it, and where do they go?”

Rainer nodded. “I have been thinking about that. It’s clear God has had enough of the lies and killing of New Babylon, so he’s going to destroy this evil city. But there must be something coming that will signal that it’s time for us to leave. That’s what we’ve been waiting for.”

And of course, the part of Revelation 18 that they'd get hung up on, is travel logistics. But then again, if they focused on the rest of it, which talks about the destruction of an empire built on human misery, an empire that lived quite opulently, enjoying their luxury goods, while the majority of the populace suffered...yeah, readers might start thinking bad things about Our Buck and St. Rayford, both of whom live quite lavishly and never lift a finger to alleviate the sufferings of others. Though they do occasionally cast disdainful looks at Nicky and isn't that what really matters? Thinking nice thoughts in the general direction of the suffering masses, as opposed to doing anything that would actually help them.

Plus as to the "how are they supposed to come out of the city?" I know Westin is probably hung up on the destruction of the plane, but he is well aware that there are other means of leaving a city that don't involve using big, noisy, gas-guzzling vehicles that have many ways they could break down, especially since the roads are probably ripped to shreds by now, and here's a hint: cars, planes...those kind of vehicles don't tend to do that well when it comes to off-road transportation. They require a special infrastructure in order to get necessary fuel and parts to keep going.

But I guess it'll be a cold day in hell, before Ellanjay lets their beloved characters do something as gauche as use a bicycle or any means of fleeing the city that involves them using their own two feet, rather than just shifting into gear or something.

Rainer mentions their leader, Otto Weser. Yeah, he doesn't appear onscreen in this chapter, but I'll let you pick which of the Nazis from Hogan's Heroes that you think Otto will look and sound like, when he inevitably appears onscreen. Because Ellanjay could put forth effort to create memorable characters, but like I said in a comment last week, the secret to being an incredibly productive writer, is to not give a shit.

Anyway, Rainer says they haven't had contact with Otto for a while, Judd thinks that something's up, and we cut to Vicki.

I hadn't planned on snarking Vicki's section, because so little happens, but there are a few choice bits. Plus, there's a hint, however faint, that maybe something will happen on her end, even as I know she'll just do something girly like wring her hands and pray for Judd.

Basically, all Vicki does, is watch a squirrel and think about how sad it is that God's destroying the world, while talking about how ugly the scenario is after numerous back-to-back Acts of God. There's this head-slapper of a quote:

Vicki recalled the verse about God knowing even when a sparrow fell from the sky. But did God know every squirrel, raccoon, and deer that died in the heat plague? Did he see the death and devastation and hear the cries of believers who had been killed? Already the Global Community News Network reported arrests and beheadings.

Uh, Vicki, the question isn't so much, "Does God know?" as it is, "Does God care?" And the answer clearly is, No, flat-out, fucking NO! :goes outside to scream:

Like I said, H.P. Lovecraft may have been so racist that probably the only reason he didn't join the Klan, was that it would require more interaction with people than an awkward weirdo such as himself would enjoy, but even he knew that the Elder Gods DIDN'T DO ANY OF THIS SHIT BECAUSE THEY LOVED PITIFUL WEAK HUMANS!

Anyway, Vicki hears someone coming up the hill. Now back to Judd.

Judd goes to sit with Rainer, who is staring at some painting. Judd starts talking to him and now we're finally going to get into Rainer's conversion speech. :whimpers: Stay tuned kids, because we've got some really good toy commercials coming up, I swear.

Rainer had been an actor/aspiring playwright before the shit hit the fan. He quotes a line from one of his plays and apologizes for it being terrible, but given that Ellanjay fail in every aspect of the craft...yeah...To satisfy your amusement/morbid curiosity, I'll post the line.

With his eyes still closed, Rainer spoke. “When light and dark collide and ignorance takes up the sword against understanding, what is left for weary men to do?” He paused, opened his eyes. “We, the weary, pick up pieces from the battlefield and live.”

I suppose Ellanjay are going for film student-style pretension with this line, and this may be the only time they've succeeded at anything in this chapter. Then again, that isn't much to brag about.

Anyway, Rainer starts self-flagellating about how before the Rapture, he thought he was all that, and that he should have listened to his RTC aunt, but didn't until it was too late. His parents died unsaved during the Wrath of God quake, while crusing down the Rhine (because we mustn't forget that he's German), and yes, he doesn't give a single thought to the fact that they're currently being roasted on a spit. Just like a true RTC.

I did, out of morbid curiosity, google the Rhine and apparently you can take cruises down it, so for once, Ellanjay were right. Though I am a little disappointed, because I was hoping that this would be another astounding error in geography that came about because they don't care, like how apparently the Jordan River, far from being a muddy trickle like many Israeli citizens like Gershom Gorenberg mistakenly believe, it is actually full of boats to ferry tourists up and down its length.

Anyway, Rainer eventually went to Token Jew's website and converted. But in one of the raids with Otto, Rainer lost his wife. Judging by this quote, plus the fact I peeked ahead at the next chapter, I think the group's divergence from sacred Tribbles' teachings is that not only do they want to do stuff, but Rainer has no problem with dying and being reunited with his wife in the undying bliss of Heaven. What a weirdo...

Rainer looked at Judd with tears in his eyes. “Sometimes I wonder if I’m here in New Babylon because it’s God’s will for me, or if I’m on a mission of death. One mistake and I’d be reunited with my wife forever.”

Anyway, there is a brief interruption of the Judd and Rainer conversation. For those of you wondering if the Vicki thing was going to go anywhere, like, at all, wonder no more. Turns out nothing happens. The person coming up the hill, was Lionel, and that's really only the notable thing about that part. Me, I wonder if Lionel is basically like the ads in that one episode of The Simpsons or something where he ceases to exist, unless someone is looking at him.

Lionel tries to comfort Vicki, who is all broken up about Judd. Me, being the drooling pervert who looks for any excuse for Ho Yay (because RTCs are the best unintentional creators of Ho Yay around), I'm going to read pervy intentions, regarding the conversation between Lionel and Vicki.

Vicki asked Lionel to sit. “I was up here thinking. I like this place. I’m going to miss it when I go to Petra.”

Lionel bit his lower lip. “Vicki, I’ve always appreciated what a friend you’ve been, and I couldn’t be happier for you and Judd …”

“But what?”

Lionel shook his head. “I don’t know. Maybe God’s trying to tell you something. Maybe you shouldn’t go to Petra. Maybe Judd shouldn’t have gone to New Babylon.” Vicki slipped an arm around Lionel, and the young man hung his head. “He’s the best friend I’ve ever had. I just wish he would be more careful.”

Try and tell me in this conversation that Lionel isn't basically playing Iago. Inwardly, he seethes with jealousy, because Vicki is able to have Judd, whereas Lionel cannot, because RTCs support the verses that allow Christians to eat bacon, but apparently the one against the Gays must stand for all time. Since Lionel can never have Judd, he does his part to taint Vicki's happiness. Because if Lionel can't have him; she shouldn't be allowed to either.

Yeah, I suppose I'm a drooling pervert, who reads entirely too much into these verses, but let me have this! Anything I come up with, however insane, is considerably more interesting than what's on the page!

Vicki decides to ask Token Jew about how this whole marriage thing will work out in Heaven. Gotta give you advance warning, regarding this weekend's snark: we get the fun and thrill of reading long passages of Token Jew's sermons. Yeah, sarcastic clapping is definitely in order.

And in the interest of providing a service to my poor, suffering readers, I'm going to post a song, one that's probably closer to how John intended for his Revelation to be read: Do You Hear the People Sing

Have fun until Saturday or Sunday!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

I Have Nothing But Sympathy for the Devil

In all honesty, I had planned on posting a new snark yesterday. But the Internet was out for the entire town until six! Because while America could follow the examples of other countries, who get faster, more reliable, and cheaper Internet than us, instead we don't. Because massive, creaky, inefficient corporate monopolies are the American Way, dammit! But seriously, no Internet make Mouse something something.

So we are now beginning Book 12. Like I said, the end is in sight. So grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and put on your montage music of choice, so we can get to this. Those of you who have read this blog, have probably picked up on my love of eighties cheese, so you're not too surprised I went with this. How such an awesome song became the theme song for such a bad movie, I don't know.

Anyway, apparently Judd is trapped in New Babylon and I apologize to my good readers for having not realized what the hell was going on with his plotline. My naiveté/optimism tripped me up. I thought that since now Judd and Vicki, after so many delays, had finally gotten engaged that Ellanjay would finally get things moving along. Already I can hear you guys laughing bitterly and shaking your heads at me. Because how could I have been so foolish as to underestimate their love of padding/money? I know, I'm ashamed of myself, too.

And I know I'm supposed to be all "Oh noes! What about poor Judd?!" but given that all the stuff he's been through basically amounts to a stubbed toe, compared with the suffering of the nameless, damned...just stop attempting all these Author's Savings Throws, Ellanjay. You're just embarrassing yourself.

Plus at the same time you're trying to convince us that Judd's suffering because God is no longer burninating all the brutes, yeah, you provide examples within the text of real people, who have suffered, who deserve our sympathy much more than Judd.

Judd watched as a temperature gauge on the right side showed things were back to normal. The woman moved a remote camera slightly to the left, and several people crawled out of an underground bunker. Their skin was pale, and they looked like they hadn’t eaten in weeks.

The woman zoomed in on a smiling group. A young man ran to a burned-out area and lay down, scissor-kicking as if making a snow angel. The others with him laughed.

...

There's really nothing I can add to this quote. No commentary is sufficient to describe just how horrified Judd is by the prospect of people escaping the plague and finally being able to get out of their houses and get food, rather than, y'know, STARVE AND BURN LIKE THE GOOD LORD INTENDED!

It gets worse in the next paragraph, so bad that I wonder if the previous quoted passage, if it was something the ghostwriter snuck in without Ellanjay realizing it. Because we all know how very rarely Ellanjay consider the actual consequences of all these Wrath of God events, so I'm a little suspicious. My guess, regarding the paragraph that I'm about to quote, is that they did realize the ghostwriter slipped one by, realized that their audience may actually experience some sympathy for the nameless damned, and put this paragraph in, in order to correct that egregious error. After all, rewriting? Only amateurs like EVERY WRITER WORTH READING waste time rewriting their works.

The mood inside the safe house wasn’t cheerful. They would no longer be able to move around during the day. Westin grumbled about his plane, wondering if the GC would find it.

“We have to prepare for possible inspections by Peacekeepers,” Rainer said. “They’ll be going from building to building soon.”

...

Yeah, if you heard a loud profanity emanating somewhere from the middle of the continental United States, now you know why. Sad part is, while I want to scream the F-bomb until my throat blisters, for once, my rage is such that the f-bomb seems entirely too inadequate. Anyone know any good foreign profanities, preferably ones that don't have too many vowels or consonants? I like a good ragedump to just roll off of the tongue.

A live shot of Carpathia’s palace showed open windows and people streaming out of the building. Judd wondered if the GC would ever estimate how many had died from the heat. Leon Fortunato appeared at a press conference, and Judd was shocked at the way the reporters looked. The normal crowd of men and women covering international news was down to only a few people in ragged clothes. Even makeup couldn’t hide their gaunt faces.

Fortunato was dressed in his usual gaudy clothing, but Judd could tell the past few weeks had taken their toll. There were dark circles under Leon’s eyes, and his clothes seemed to sag.

Y'all know that I have a tag called "Strawman Always Has A Point," right? It's a tag I've used quite a bit and will use for this post, but increasingly, I think I should have called it "Villain Has A Point." Because the heroes are so damn reprehensible that I have no choice but to root for Satan. That's how bad things have gotten! Sometimes I wonder if this series isn't basically the equivalent of this infamous fic that would make even Gandhi in favor of capital punishment, but only for this author. I should probably warn you against clicking on that link, but if you're anything like me or Milhouse Van Houten, all the disclaimers will only make you want to do it more. Just know that I consider said fic in the link far more reprehensible than the infamous Celebrian. Say what you will about Celebrian, but at least it doesn't ROMANTICIZE A FUCKING NAZI!

I've said in previous snarks that no matter how much the RTCs chest-thump and talk about how they're totally the heirs to Bonhoeffer's legacy, based on what I've just read in this snark, my comment about how if the RTCs were dropped down the road from Auschwitz in the years 1940-1945, their brave actions would consist of hoping the inmates became good RTCs before they were gassed, while complaining about the unpleasant odor produced by the crematoriums...I admit I love to exaggerate for comedic effect, but in this case, I don't think I'm exaggerating. THAT'S WHAT THEY WOULD FUCKING DO!

Gotta feel for Bonhoeffer for having his legacy hijacked by assholes. I admit to not being an expert on the guy, but I imagine his beliefs were a lot more nuanced than the RTCs think. From what I heard, he probably didn't subscribe to the belief that the Bible is totally inerrant despite having been around for thousands of years, and if you were to ask him, he'd probably say that being a Christian was probably about more than just hating gays and abortion. Plus the dude was willing to suffer and actually did die for his beliefs, so you kind of have to respect that a little, if nothing else.

Anyway, after this, we cut to Vicki's perspective. Back when Slacktivist* was still snarking the third book in the adult series, we all had a great laugh, when somehow Loretta knew Our Buck was in trouble and that everyone needed to pray for him. Because one of the perks of being an RTC is that apparently you share a hive mind or some kind of spider-sense that lets you know when a Main Character is in trouble. I was going to say, when an RTC is in trouble, but from what I can tell, the spider-sense only applies to Main Characters. No one seems to get that worked up when Bruce "Dead and Useless" Barnes dies or when Loretta dies.

Based on this passage, where Vicki wakes up with her "Judd is in trouble" sense tingling, I kind of wonder what this means regarding Judd's character status in the LB-verse. I've referred to him as a mini-Rayford, but stuff like this...it makes me wonder if in the great hierarchy that Ellanjay love and worship, if Judd hasn't been raised to a status where he is on equal footing with Our Buck and St. Rayford. Then I remember that in Ellanjay's hierarchy, Our Buck and St. Rayford are in a category all of their own, with only Zod and TurboJesus being greater than them.

They do try for some details of the scenery but like I said, it doesn't work, though you almost admire the effort. It's basically the Black Knight fight in Monty Python, only without the humor.

Basically Vicki talks about how thanks to the Heat Wave, all the frogs and insects were boiled or burned to a crisp. And sense they're all dead, so are all the mammals and birds and reptiles that feed on them. As you probably guessed, they don't mention anything about the mammals and the birds and the reptiles, because Ellanjay don't know jack about the food chain, HOW IF YOU REMOVE ONE BLOCK FROM IT, THE WHOLE THING IS SCREWED!

This is the kind of mistake that really makes me want to grab them both by the collars and scream. Because the food chain isn't some arcane secret guarded by a select order of Shaolin Monks beyond the River of Death. IT'S BASIC KNOWLEDGE THAT MOST OF US LEARN IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL!

I'd make a crack about how "They just didn't care," and link to the TV Tropes page of the same name, but this stupidity...somehow I feel it goes beyond not caring. For once, there's no trope that adequately describes the situation I find myself in!

I also could point out that all animal and plant life would have died all those times when Zod turned the waters into poison, but I've pointed it out so many times...Yeah, I'd say arguing with Ellanjay is the equivalent of getting into a boxing match with a quadriplegic, where no matter how much you pound on them, they stubbornly refuse to admit defeat and claim victory as soon as you shuffle out of the ring because you can only pound on them so many times before it loses it's thrill, but even a quadriplegic would put up a better fight. The only metaphor that comes close to working is the one used in reference to debating Creationists: Pigeon Chess.

Anyway Vicki's prayer-sense is tingling and she decides to pray for her friends and by friends, I, of course, mean Judd, not Lionel or any of the other Tribbles she cares about. It's like Vicki realizes that even though she is not rated as highly in Ellanjay's Great Chain of Being, by virtue of being a girl with girl parts, and that Judd's status as a Main Character elevates him above all those filthy untermenschen, she still knows that she is above Lionel by virtue of being White.

There's a long passage where Vicki talks about how she's totally changed her view of prayer over the past six years. How apparently now rather than treating God like her personal concierge/strongman who gives her what she wants when she asks, now Vicki believes it is about communicating with God, staying silent most of the time awaiting his answer. Yeah, I'm going to stop laughing derisively someday; I just don't know when. Because for those of you who lack the insane devotion to this series, I'm going to post the last prayer Vicki was mentioned as making.

Vicki watched Cheryl stare at the fires raging on the hillside. She didn’t know what to say and silently prayed, “God, please show Cheryl where’s she’s been wrong. Help her to see the truth about what she’s done and admit her mistakes. And give us wisdom with what to do with her. Amen.”

You tell me that Vicki isn't basically calling on God to play the part of the Strongman, to either convert or exterminate that brute, Cheryl for her unplus doubleungood thinking. Because that's what RTCs do. To borrow from a book that's as good as this series is bad called Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, they go for people's emotional wounds and bring God in on air support.

She then reads Isaiah, Chapter 26, drawing comfort from the third verse. The section ends with Vicki getting a phone call from Judd, after which, we cut back to him.

The conversation is a circle-jerk with both Judd and Vicki going on and on about how they're terrified that they won't see each other again and how they are totally suffering, guys! But yeah, given that the chapter has already shown people who ACTUALLY ARE SUFFERING...I'm not buying it. The mere fact that Judd can make a phone-call from the enemy's capital to Vicki, who is a continent away from him in the States, proves that shit can't be too bad. I could also point out that in the whole thing with Howard, they weren't able to use cellphones BECAUSE THE INFRASTRUCTURE FINALLY STARTED TO DETERIORATE AFTER REPEATED ACTS OF ZOD! But no one should be naïve enough to believe that Ellanjay would recall stuff from chapter to chapter, never mind from book to book.

Nicky gives a speech. I suppose we're supposed to find it inspiring or chilling, what with his bland pleasantries about how we'll rebuild from all this, but like I said, Ellanjay couldn't be assed to actually create a charismatic villain, because to do so, would require them to actually know something about human behavior and admit that bad people can have positive traits and good people can have bad ones...since they hate nuance as much as they hate showing what actually happens as opposed to just telling us, we can't have that. It would force them to admit that Hitler, along with all the villains of history, weren't some supernatural being that just bamfed onto earth, but sad part is they were people, ordinary horrible people.

Yeah, I'm going to add Alexander Solzhenitsyn to the long list of writers Ellanjay really need to read. Though frankly it'd be enough if they read this quote from The Gulag Archipelago:

If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?

Anyway, following Nicky's speech, Judd receives a phone call from Chang, who plays this message he'd overheard Nicky deliver:

Judd heard Nicolae rub his hands together as he said, “For the first time in a long time, we play on an even field. The waterways are healing themselves, and we have rebuilding to do in the infrastructure. Let us work at getting all our loyal citizens back onto the same page with us. Director Akbar and I have some special surprises in store for dissidents on various levels. We are back in business, people. It is time to recoup our losses and start delivering a few.”

I suppose we're supposed to be shocked and appalled by all this: Nicky using the latest disaster as an excuse to go after a hated minority, a strategy that is so different from every other dictator in history. Though, I will admit that the last analogy isn't entirely accurate in that in this case, THE HATED MINORITY HAS REPEATEDLY DEMONSTRATED THAT NICKY IS RIGHT TO HATE THEM! NO MATTER HOW MUCH THEY GO "OH NOES" ABOUT THE PEOPLE HE KILLS, IT DOESN'T CHANGE THE FACT THAT THE TRIBBLES HAVEN'T DONE A DAMN THING TO HELP SAID PEOPLE OR STOP NICKY! IN FACT IT OPENLY CRITICIZES PEOPLE WHO DO!

:deep breath:

I really wish Nicky had delivered this speech instead of his bland platitudes. Because it works so much better. This would be the perfect time to stir people up, get them ready to fight against the enemy that has repeatedly killed their families and shown no regard for life whatsoever. Because I'm fairly certain in the wake of the 9/11 disaster, Bush II didn't just mouth platitudes; he used the disaster as a means of ramming through policy, of getting shit done, and if anyone objected, he, and his supporters, could point to the disaster and say, "Why do you hate America?" When the Bush II administration manages to be smarter than a guy who is supposed to be worse than Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot, you've failed.

Oh and Spirit Plumber, you should totally make that game you mentioned in the previous comments. Because I have to side with Nicky simply because he's so much less reprehensible than the Heroes, so a game where basically you have to play as Nicky and try to keep the world intact as God's trying to kill everybody...that would be pretty cool.

The chapter ends with Chang telling Judd that the GC has blown up Westin's plane which is bad for some reason. Because Judd can't get out of New Babylon for reasons. But this snark is long enough and I'm all raged out. Damn...for some reason, I thought they wouldn't hit me so hard in the opening chapter. I really am too naïve for my own good.

*Slacktivist, in the unlikely chance you're reading this, just know that I eagerly await your snarks on the adult books. I understand if you've got so much going on in your life that you really don't want to spend anymore time with Rayford and Buck along with the rest of the heroes who don't do anything remotely heroic. Because while Ellanjay would really have to struggle to come up with a passage worse than the one where Rayford mansplains about the wrongness of abortion to Hattie, we know they are up to the task. Now if you don't mind, I'm off to get royally drunk and cry for a while, and not necessarily in that order.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Judd and Vicki Are Filled with Christ's Love!

Okay, it's Sunday, I've got a cold drink, and I'm ready to snark. Let's get to this.

Like I said last week, we're on the last chapter of Book 11. Next week, we start the very last one, Book 12. :high-pitched squeal: The end is in sight, people!

So last week, Judd finally proposed to Vicki, in a fashion, I found to be incredibly, incredibly creepy rather than romantic. But I realize I'm not a good judge of what's creepy and what's romantic. I'm probably the least romantic person ever, given that I'd rather watch the Avengers 2: Age of Ultron with awesome good guys beating the crap out of bad guys, than suffer through another edition of White People About to Kiss aka a Nicholas Sparks adaptation. Like I said last week, I find most grand romantic gestures, in fiction and in life, to be creepy as hell, especially Judd's, what with him convincing Vicki that she's about to die in order to spice up his proposal. Were it not for the fact that TurboJesus will show up in about a year and will take away romance, as well as sex, for everyone, I'd give them eighteen months at the most.

Lionel has escaped the clutches of whatever Black Hole he was sucked into, because after being gone for so many chapters, he shows up again, congratulating Judd on finally popping the question to Vicki. I suppose I could make a tasteless joke about that's not all Judd's going to get to pop, but yeah, it feels kind of wrong. Plus I've made so many jokes about how the RTCs' regressive notions regarding the filthy act of sex, ends up leading to more problems down the road, than if they just treated sex like it was: a natural act carried about by people who love each other. But if they just talked about sex honestly and openly, then they'd have to learn about stuff like consent, which would require admitting :gasp: :choke: that those on top of the hierarchy aren't always right in everything they do, a notion that's just too big for them to comprehend.

Of course, Vicki, being the good Lady Against Women that she is, doesn't share my views regarding grand romantic gestures.

After Vicki recovered from the shock of the creative way Judd had asked her to marry him, she socked him in the shoulder for scaring her with the GC trick. “You just about gave me a heart attack! I thought we were both dead.”

Judd smiled. “I thought it would be memorable. Who wants to tell everybody a boring engagement story?”

I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised that Vicki didn't immediately curb-stomp the shit out of Judd for putting her through emotional hell, but y'all know I see Judd and Vicki's relationship forming not so much because they really love each other and can't imagine not being with one another, but because like I said before, they're desperate to get laid and are only getting married, because they're too chicken to commit the sin of premarital sex. Even though, they could have premarital sex and just ask for forgiveness afterwards and be free and clear, right? Because most RTCs, if pressed, will admit that no sin permanently separates you from God, so long as you confess it and ask for forgiveness.

But like I said, I am like the least romantic person ever, so I'm not a good judge of this sort of thing. Every time I see a big lavish wedding or a grand romantic gesture, I'm silently thinking, "This will end quickly." Call it an unfair generalization, if you must, but most of the time, I turn out to be correct. Grand romantic gestures are great and cinematic, but a relationship cannot be sustained on them alone. Eventually, you and whoever you love, are going to have to be able to forge a relationship during all the quiet and boring parts.

I will admit that given that Judd and Vicki have a year, tops, before TurboJesus shows up, that they're probably not going to have to deal with the emotional fallout of a relationship ending, but still.

Marshall has misgivings, saying that while he's not completely cool with the idea of Judd and Vicki getting married, at the same time, they have shown good judgment throughout the dating process. Or in other words, nothing helps prevent the heinous act of premarital sex like having them spend the majority of their time in different hemispheres. Yeah, I need to shut up about it, just like I need to stop making digs at RTCs' repression, but it's just too damn easy! Let me have this!

“What do you mean?” Judd said.

“Let’s just say people have been watching you two to see if you’d become clingy with each other. You know, to see if you’d be so ‘in love’ that you wouldn’t be able to concentrate on anything else. But we’ve been pleased with how you’ve handled this.”

In my defense, read the above quote and tell me that Marshall isn't basically commending Judd and Vicki for not jumping each others bones as soon as they could. Granted, his comment is pretty damn coded (because RTCs would be up in arms if any of the characters, even the bad guys, committed actual sin), but I stand by that interpretation. I know the RTC culture has a hard-on for Victorian-style courtship, but somehow I wonder if that's even accurate. I may not claim to be an expert on the Victorian era, but I doubt that even they were as repressed as the RTCs of today are. Newsflash: Homosexuality, premarital sex, as well as abortions, didn't magically come into being with the Roe v. Wade ruling. They've been around probably since we crawled out of the primordial ooze and started dwelling on land. The difference is that now we actually talk about it, instead of tacitly pretending like it doesn't exist.

Marshall advises Judd and Vicki to go through marriage counseling before going through all this and offers to set them up. I have mixed feelings about how much good that will do, though. If they were seeing someone who actually knew something about psychology, maybe it would work, but The Internet abounds with countless testimonials as to how the RTC version of counseling, doesn't work. The states that actually educate teenagers on sex and birth control, rather than just screech about how they shouldn't do it because it's evil and against God (aka abstinence-only education in a nutshell), have lower abortion and teen pregnancy rates than their abstinence-only counterparts.

Yeah, I know, I should stop it with all the harping on sex, but I still see it as a larger symptom of the problems in the RTC culture. They would like to believe that refusing to acknowledge a problem makes it go away, but it doesn't work that way. To quote the Immortal Johnny Cash*: what's done in the dark, we'll eventually be brought to the light.

Plus, I continue to wonder just what do Vicki and Judd know about each other. Can either of them name the other's favorite book or movie? Does Judd know Vicki's dreams about the future? Okay, that last question is a bad example, given that like all good RTCs, once Vicki kneeled before Zod, she became a good, faithful member of the collective and her dreams involve seeing all the heathens die and burn in hell forever, but still. If you were to ask me what those two have in common, what kind of bond they share (besides, y'know, TurboJesus), I'd be forced to say that they're carbon-based lifeforms and neither can survive without oxygen. But the RTCs probably feel that the fact that one has a penis and the other has a vagina, is reason enough for them to get married. To heck with that weird stuff regarding mutual respect and an emotional bond.

I swear, eventually I will stop repeating myself over and over again. I apologize, but like I said, they make it too damn easy. If it bugs you, just turn these posts into a drinking game**: every time I repeat myself, take a swig of your poison of choice.

Judd asks if they could have Token Jew perform the ceremony and Marshall is like, "email him and ask yourself." So Judd writes an email as does Vicki and they send it off to their fellow RTCs, who respond with a flurry of "I'm so happy for you" emails that are really too boring to be worth snarking. Chloe and St. Rayford are among those who respond, though I was wondering if Chloe hadn't gotten beheaded by now. Oh well, if she hasn't, she probably will be soon. Besides, I really shouldn't devote too much thought to this series and its characters, given that Ellanjay clearly don't.

[slight tangent] I know Chloe's duty as a Tribble is to run the Magical Co-op. I often wonder if she got assigned this task, because the authors, for some reason, think that keeping up a massive trading network so RTCs can get necessary supplies (food, medicine, etc.) during the Apocalypse, is light work, well within the reach of a weak, womanly female like Chloe. If so, someone really should break it to them that Chloe's work is pretty much the lifeblood of the organization, way more important Our Buck's publishing of slightly disdainful (but not to disdainful) articles on the Internet. People kind of need food and water to live, to say nothing of the other supplies that running a Resistance network demands. [/slight tangent]

Token Jew writes back, telling Judd and Vicki to seek the Lord in prayer when deciding where to live. But Westin offers to fly them to Petra. They immediately accept his offer, which may be the smartest decision they've made in this chapter. Though when your options are basically to squat in a hole-in-the-ground and survive on canned food and bottled water, while living in fear of GC raids, or go to Petra, where Zod will smack GC planes out of the sky and you get all the fresh food and water you want, you'd probably choose Petra. But given that previous snarks have proven that the city of refugee where they are protected from those who want to stamp out free speech and the right to exercise your religion, is about as free and democratic as the Democratic Peoples' Republic of North Korea***. Because Nicky is evil; therefore a worldwide dictatorship under his rule, is wrong. But Token Jew is good; therefore, he is well within his rights to sic his God on anyone who doesn't agree with him.

Sometimes I wonder if the only objection RTCs have to the government of North Korea or really any dictatorship, is that they run roughshod over the rights of people they like, or in other words, Christians and Capitalists. So long as you thoroughly kiss American ass and persecute the right people, the RTCs probably don't care about your atrocious human rights record.

So Vicki and Judd decide to go to Petra and to my surprise, they actually decide to take Lionel with them. I thought for certain, after saying his one line, Lionel would disappear into the abyss, never to be seen again. So I suppose Lionel ranks a little above some of the other tribbles, because while they bring him with them to Petra, they don't bother to invite any of their other friends in the States to the city of refuge. I wonder if that means Lionel is still the series' Butt Monkey, though at the same time, I continue to wonder if even in death, Ryan is and will always bear the title of Butt Monkey, rendering this debate pointless.

But for some reason (probably padding), Westin only has room for Judd on his plane, so rather than have a few more days to get to know each other while living in the city of refuge, Judd decides to go ahead to Petra, to set things up for Vicki and Lionel.

Judd and Westin talk a little about Armageddon on the flight, and you just know they long for the day in which they finally get to "Exterminate all the Brutes!" like I said before. They want to see the day when the blood of their enemies reaches the bridles of the horses, no matter how much they try to weasel out of saying it directly. Because like Slacktivist said, Ellanjay are basically Jonah in that they preach the gospel not because they genuinely want to save people from Hell, but because they want to see the nasty, sinful sinners get what's coming to them.

Though in a rare show of...okay I don't know what to call this. Competence seems too much, but adequacy might work. Anyway, Ellanjay reject their inclination towards padding and don't come up with stupid obstacles in order to keep Judd from getting to Petra for a dozen more chapters. Hey, life has taught me to be thankful for small favors.

Judd arrives in Petra and begins setting up.

Meanwhile, Vicki watches the news and thinks about how she's worried about Judd. Why, I don't know. They never say, because that would actually develop her character.

According to the news, the water has changed back from blood into water, which means the third bowl judgment or whatever, is over. I suppose I could look up that infographic someone linked me to in an earlier post, so I'd know just what the hell was going to happen next, but like I said, I'm lazy. Plus, that infographic...were it not for the fact that it was articulating what millions of people actually believe will happen, I'd assume it was created by a schizophrenia patient with a fixation on the Bible and some computer skills, after having a particularly incoherent dream. Though that seems unfair somehow: even someone in the grips of a psychotic break could probably come up with a more coherent story/timeline for all this.

After watching the news, Vicki listens to a recording sent by Chang, which has Nicky ranting and raving about the Jews with that Suhail Akbar guy whom I don't care about. As you probably guessed, I only made it through this boring and totally unsnarkable scene by envisioning Nicky and Suhail, as Cobra Commander and Destro, respectfully.

You should be used to this by now, my weakness for eighties cartoons created for the sole purpose selling toys to sugar-high eight-year-olds. But I really do long for the sheer WTFery and the massive plot holes of eighties G.I. Joe. At least it was entertainingly bad, plus Chris Latta's high-pitched raspy voice...like I said before, even when Cobra Commander's plans made no sense whatsoever (which was often), at least you could be entertained by all of it.

I suppose Nicky raving about the Jews is supposed to be proof that he is the real anti-Semites, unlike RTCs like Ellanjay, who just want the Jews to abandon the culture and faith that has sustained through countless millennia of persecution and become good RTCs.

Anyway, next we cut to Judd, who meets a German actor named Rainer Kurtzmann. While we are spared his "How I came to love TurboJesus" spiel (though odds are we'll get it laid out for us later), I think we can safely assume that Rainer is basically Rainier Wolfcastle from The Simpsons. Because Ellanjay could take the time out to create characters with unique identities beyond their saved/unsaved or ethnic/nationalistic background, but that would just require more effort than they're willing to give.

Like I said, why be like the Shakers and insist upon creating a quality product that can be used and enjoyed by everyone, when you can, with much less effort, just slap a Jesus fish on a piece of crap. Not only does slapping a Jesus fish involve less work, but you also can make more money much faster, because your niche group is so desperate for reading material (and they can only read within a specific niche) that they'll accept whatever you put out. Besides, Quality would make them think, which is scary!

Rainer is shuffled off-screen for no real reason and Judd continues to walk around, not doing anything of note at all. We do get this bit, which seriously makes me go, "Seriously?"

The conversation was so interesting that Judd and Westin stayed past their deadline to get back to Petra before dark, so the group made room for them. As the sun went down, Judd watched the group go through their complex routine of securing the hideout. A few days after the sun plague began, the group had burned the top of their house to make it look like the others surrounding it.

Judd found it difficult to sleep in the enclosed hideaway. It was so different than the camp in Wisconsin, where they felt safe at all hours. A team kept watch over video screens throughout the night, looking for any irregular GC movement.

Okay, I will say, in the first paragraph's defense, that they aren't at Petra. Why they're not there? I don't know. I'll just assume "Padding!" and move on.

But the second one...Judd is shocked that a resistance group that is firmly in Nicky's crosshairs has to do stuff like go into lockdown and keep up monitor duty even at night? What the hell has he and the American Tribbles been doing? This is basic stuff that any group in hiding has to deal with! Seriously, meth is not a breakfast food, Ellanjay!

Judd starts to go out in the morning, only to be stopped by a female member of the group who says that it's not safe to go out until the sun is fully up.

The chapter ends with Judd getting a phone call from Chang, aka one of several other characters he's had more meaningful interaction with than he has with Vicki. Chang reports that the sun plague is over, which means that the RTCs can no longer dick around, watching with amusement as all those heathens burn alive. Granted it also means that their delicate ears are no longer strained by all that off-key screaming, but still.

Judd is heartbroken, because he's a million miles away from her in hostile territory, but like I've said, I've passed the point of giving a shit about his and Vicki's love life.

The chapter ends with this exchange between Chang and Judd. I wish I could say I understood or even cared about what was going on. Because I, like the honey badger, don't care.

“Where are you?” Chang said.

“You’re not going to believe it,” Judd said.

And that's it for book 11. We've made it through 11 out of 12 volumes. While I know there will probably be plenty of ragedumping and f-bombs to come, I feel I need to bask in this accomplishment for awhile. Y'all enjoy yourselves until next week.

*That was put in there not only because it's Johnny Cash and he's awesome, but as a reminder that Christian art doesn't always suck.

**I should probably not encourage drinking games, but sometimes...you gotta do what you gotta do in order to survive. Just don't drink and drive or do anything that you'd hate to have to explain to a loved one or the cops once you've sobered up. No matter how satisfying it'd be to tap out lengthy Morse Code messages on Ellanjay's skull using a tire iron, it just isn't worth it. Apparently, you can't commit justifiable homicide in defense of good art.

***North Korea is the leading exemplar of a rule I have: never trust any country that has to advertise how good it is in its name. America may be a democracy and we're all arrogant and proud of ourselves, but at least we don't go around calling ourselves the Free Democratic States of America. We just say, "We're the United States of America," and let that speak for itself. I cite as further examples of said rule: The Peoples' Republic of China and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Whenever you have to advertise how free and democratic your country is by using its name, you need to take a long, hard look at yourself.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Create Your Own Head Canon*

All right, everybody! I'm back from vacation and yesterday, I enjoyed some good storytelling in the form of the latest Pixar film, Inside Out. Seriously, people see that movie. So now, time to tear some bad storytelling a new one.

Well I've read ahead and those of you expecting my usual amount of ragedumps complete with numerous deployments of the F-bomb, hate to break it to you, but it's mostly action scenes, aka the material I always struggle to snark because since no one ever faces any actual physical or psychological damage, it all comes across as a long series of dialogue and action verbs. In order to keep this interesting, keep myself from lapsing into a boredom-induced coma, I'm going to picture the opening scene (where Howard, Vicki, and Judd run from the GC) as being scored to the Benny Hill theme. Yes, I know I've made that joke before, but the Benny Hill theme adds humor to any scene it's scored to, so let me have this!

Anyway, like I said, the opening is an action scene with Howard, Vicki, and Judd running from the GC. I'd make a Keystone Cops reference, but that feels like an insult to the Keystone Cops. Probably even they were more competent than the GC!

They do try to make it suspenseful with the GC goon firing actual bullets at them. This surprises me, because I thought that Ellanjay had established that the GC, being too femmey to use actual guns like Real Men! used laser weapons to take out their quarry. But Ellanjay seem to hate consistency almost as much as they hate showing, so I shouldn't be too surprised.

Like I said, given that nothing happens, I have no choice but to gnaw at a few nits like a starving dog on a bone. We do get this mention, which I found odd:

Judd had played enough football to know how to make himself look menacing to quarterbacks on the other side of the line. He gritted his teeth and lowered his shoulder. The older man dropped the pole, turned, and ran toward the terminal entrance, just as Judd heard a loud thump at the door behind him.

I have to say, maybe it's been mentioned before, but this is the first time they ever mentioned that Judd played football. Honestly, it's not too much of a stretch for me to picture Judd as a jock. And given what we know about football and their ugly history of covering up information regarding the effects of repeated concussions on the brain...yeah, I'm going to stop now, not only because obvious joke is obvious, but I'm worried that I'm straying into uncomfortable territory here. I'll just say that football, along with a lot of other sports, is incredibly stupid when you think about it and post a cartoon here.

Judd and Vicki and Howard go through a car chase, after which Judd calls Westin and they have a conversation about travel logistics that's so boring, it is actually painful to read. I got through it by flipping through the pages as quickly as I could, much in the way, the only way to read the infamous fanfiction "Celebrian" is to start scrolling as fast as possible and keep scrolling until you reach the end. Some friendly words of advice: if you must Google "Celebrian," make sure you do it around someone you're not ashamed to cry in front of.

Either way, the only interesting part is the end, where we have this conversation. I wish I could say I understood why the hell St. Rayford would be at all upset about anything, but I'm too lazy and bored to care. If you want to know more, get a copy of the book and look it up for yourself.

“I have to know, is this going to affect the way the Trib Force looks at me?”

Westin paused. “I told the Trib Force this was my idea.”

“But that’s not true—”

“Right. So kick me out of the choir. Steele chewed me out, said I was playing hot dog with people’s lives, and I apologized.”

“But this wasn’t your fault. I was the one—”

“Judd, I took the blame. Maybe I shouldn’t have, but I did. You’re square with them, okay? See you at noon.”

Like I said, why Rayford would get his undies in a bunch over anything that's happened, I don't know and I don't care. It's probably related to the Scream-style Morality that governs this series where the actions of the heroes are always right, regardless of the outcome, because they are the heroes. Conversely, the villains' actions are always wrong, regardless of the outcome, because they are villains. Yeah, while I don't know how exactly Ellanjay go about creating their characters (probably involves putting every stereotype they can think of onto paper, interspaced with masturbation breaks), but it's amazing how all the background characters know they are background characters, second fiddles to the great and powerful Main Characters for whom the Earth revolves. Apparently whenever they come into being, they are given a copy of the script and know that while at some point, they'll have a brief moment in the spotlight where they say a few lines or play a few bars, after that, they fade back into the collective.

After the chase scene, we cut to Vicki's perspective. What do we get to calm our nerves after such high octane excitement? Exposition. So much Exposition. :whimpers: Y'know after seeing Inside Out** and its amazing storytelling, I thought plunging into back into the LB-verse would have an effect akin to starving a junkyard dog, how when you turn it loose, it just attacks anything that moves. But what gets me is that while this series is bad, well, it's not even uniquely bad in a way that's memorable or fun to talk about. If the fanfic, "Celebrian," is akin to eating a hot fudge sundae where everything is replaced with shit, this week's selection is like eating rice cakes in that even cardboard has more of a taste than that.

Yeah, I know, I'm really going to pay for all these complaints about how boringly bad this series is, if not, next week, then at some point in the future (because I'm seriously tempting the fates and those mothers are real bitches), but still...

Vicki is disturbed by news from Oregon. I have no problem believing that of the estimated 168746851 places she's visited in the series, that at some point, she stopped in Oregon, but given that we know nothing about said believers, not even their names, and this is the first time they've been mentioned in, like, forever, I'm going to scream at the top of my lungs the same thing I keep screaming at the top of my lungs regarding this series: WHY SHOULD I CARE?!

The Tribulation Force continued moving people and supplies around the country and the world, though the Global Community had tried to adapt. News from Oregon disturbed Vicki and the others when they found out about a new GC plan that affected believers.

“The GC moved into the lava tubes in Oregon,” Mark said a few days after Judd and Vicki returned.

“Lava tubes?” Charlie said.

“They’re natural rock formations made by volcanoes,” Mark said. “Miles of tunnels believers have been using since we were forced to go underground. Once the plague of heat hit, GC survivors decided to move into them at night because the temperature is so cool during the day. They surprised some believers, and a bunch of them were executed.”

I suppose this also could be a callback to the adult books. Ellanjay are fond of doing that, throwing in little callbacks to the adult books. I guess they consider it a treat for those who suffered through those books. If they didn't, maybe they're hoping this will convince the kiddos to pick up the adult books. But like I said before, if you have to read a bunch of supplementary material in order to understand what the hell is going on in your book series/TV series/movie, THEN YOU HAVE FAILED IN YOUR STORYTELLING! A READER SHOULD BE ABLE TO ENJOY THE SHOW AND UNDERSTAND WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON, EVEN IF THEY DON'T HAVE ENCYCLOPEDIC KNOWLEDGE OF THE CHARACTERS!

I basically tell the same thing, regarding some of the stuff related to General Grievous in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. I'm not going to doubt the fans' assertions that most of this stuff is explained in the Clone Wars shorts that came out before the movie. I admit that I haven't seen said shorts, but I'm not going to cast doubt on their assertions that they are better than the prequels (because it seems everyone is better at telling stories in the Star Wars-verse than George Lucas), I will continue to say that the fact General Grievous's scenes don't make any sense if the movie-goer hasn't seen those shorts, proves that George Lucas failed at that aspect of storytelling. I could go into a long rant of the other things that sucked about the prequels, but really that dead horse has been thoroughly flogged. Plus, this blog is a deconstruction of Left Behind: the Kids, not an endless rant about how much the Star Wars prequels sucked. Though they did suck and we must never forget it.

Anyway, my personal head canon, regarding the Oregon believers, is that when the GC stumbled onto them while taking shelter, the GC, noticing that the RTCs were well-supplied and their lands were protected from the heat, asked the RTCs for help, because they have a desperate, starving population to take care of. And because the RTCs follow the gospel of "I got mine. Get yours, Jack!" they attacked the GC, forcing the GC to defend themselves. Yeah, I know, Ellanjay would be appalled at my interpretation, but I'm appalled at their interpretation of Jesus, so we're even.

Vicki's like "Why couldn't anyone have helped them?" Mark says that the believers were too cut off for other groups to reach them, which is actually a sensible answer. With all the constant back-to-back Acts of God, communication systems as well as roadways, are probably shot to hell. Though in my personal head canon, Mark says, "Why are you sad? They got bamfed into Heaven at the minute of death. They get to spend eternity bathing in the light of Heaven, while we have to struggle to survive on canned food and bottled water. In addition, by dying as martyrs, they get even more points with God. In fact, why are we sitting here and talking about stuff when we could be seeking martyrdom as well. Let's go stand in front of the nearest GC building and preach the Gospel to every officer we see."

Because seriously, do Ellanjay ever give a reason like at all, as to why the Tribbles don't actively seek martyrdom, even though they know what all will happen and they have received what no one in the real world does: actual confirmation that God exists and that all this stuff is true. Except for the Social Gospel, but that's a whole 'nother kettle of fish we'll deal with later.

At the end of the section, we find out that apparently the Tribbles have decided to split Vicki and Judd up. The text claims it's because Vicki has become a main contact for younger believers, whereas they need Judd's manly strength to unload supplies at other locations. But we all know it's because Ellanjay can't enjoy their solid-gold Humvees or diamond-studded swimming pools if they can't have an island in the Caribbean to go with it.

I know, I make that joke, complete with Weird Al song, a lot, but dammit! They make it so easy! Even shooting fish in a barrel would present more of a challenge!

Next section is from Judd's perspective. Judd agonizes over whether he should ask Vicki to marry him. He loves her, but worries that if he asks her and she says no, that'll screw up their friendship. I'd say that being on different continents for much of the series, would probably have more of an effect on their relationship, than her turning down his marriage proposal. But then again I'm one of those weirdoes who cares about character development and believes that when two characters wind up together, there should be a reason, aside from the fact that they have different genitalia, so clearly I'm the wrong audience for Christian Fiction in the first place.

In a post from way, way back, I once said, back when the series was either in single-digits or the teens, that if I was writing this series, I'd have Judd and Vicki :gasp: :choke: commit the heinous sin of premarital sex in the wake of the emotional aftermath of the Rapture. After which, because they were both raised by card-carrying Assholes for Christ, they'd feel tremendous guilt and have a quickie marriage. Only to discover after said quickie marriage that there's a reasons decisions made in the heat of the moment, seldom work out well for anyone involved. After that, they'd part company. Whether they'd have any animosity towards each other afterwards or if they'll just mope, realize they work better as friends, and move on, I haven't decided.

But then again, in Christian Fiction, if you have any characters, even the bad guys, commit any sin, then you are a moral degenerate, setting a bad example for today's youth everywhere. Because people never sinned in the form of premarital sex or worse offenses, before people started writing and talking about said sins. Fun fact: rape and abortion both came into being following the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973. And now that I've provided a lesson in history as seen by the RTCs, let's get back to the story.

Anyway, Judd reads and rewrites the love paragraph from I Corinthians, Chapter 13. And it really does drive me nuts, seeing such a wonderful passage used in this series. Like I said before, I, like a lot of people, have my issues with Paul. Paul is a frustrating character in that while there are passages, like I Corinthians 13, where he manages to transcend the mores and limitations of his time and really touch on the love of God, in other passages, he stubbornly remains very much a man of his time.

I will say, in his defense, that most of the really misogynistic passages that RTCs like to cite, were probably not written by Paul. Also, as a former Jew, Paul would probably be shocked that the Christian faith places his letters on equal footing with the Torah. As far as he knew, Paul was just writing letters to various churches, giving them advice so that they may grow in faith; he probably had no idea that people would still be reading and talking about his letters to this day. I, myself, am a writer and I journal as well. While I know that at some point, someone, preferably after my death, will read my journals, if you took me a thousand years into the future, and a massive religion centered around my journals had arisen, complete with people debating the authenticity and context of said journals...what we'd have is a head-exploding scene to rival the one in Scanners.

So yeah, I'll cut Paul some slack. While we can debate over what he said about Jesus and what meanings Paul's writings have in our day to day life, I'd worship Paul's version of Jesus an infinite number of times before I bowed to TurboJesus. Whether you like him or not,Paul saw Jesus as a figure who'd bridge the gap between God and man, unlike Ellanjay, who treat see him as their personal concierge/strongman. Plus, Paul did legitimately suffer for his faith and by suffer, I don't mean had to endure a cashier wishing him "Happy Holidays" suffering.

I suppose I could post Judd's rewriting of the Love passage and point out how Judd consistently fails on all accounts, but what do you take me for? Someone who isn't lazy?

Judd then thinks about how Vicki fits that passage:

She was never jealous of anyone who succeeded, was never proud or boastful about her accomplishments, and seemed to always put others ahead of herself. Even when Judd was asked to go on trips for the Trib Force, she seemed genuinely excited for his opportunities.

I could go digging through old posts and come up with plenty of times where Vicki behaves like a Good Christian Bitch, but given that Ellanjay see nothing wrong with being a Good Christian Bitch, I probably wasted my time posting that clip.

I could also point out that Ellanjay's ideal woman could be described as the Angel in the House (and you know they'd get the vapors if they opened and read the contents of that link), or for those less academically inclined, a doormat. Probably the only reason they allow women in the congregation and subject themselves to the dirty act of sex, is because they know if they didn't, there would be a precipitous drop in the number of people warming the pews on Sunday.

I would make a joke about the Shakers, but I have a certain affection for them. Yeah, most people probably disagree with their views regarding sex and marriage, but they believed in the value of the craft. They believed that if you were a chair-maker, you glorified God by making a high-quality chair and charging a fair price for it. So you knew if you purchased anything made by the Shakers, you were buying a quality product, not a shoddy piece of crap that someone slapped a Jesus fish on and will fall apart the first time you use it.

Plus, once you know the backstory of the founder of the Shaker faith, Mother Ann, about how she was basically forced into a marriage that lasted only four years, during which she bore four children, all of whom died in infancy, you can kind of understand why she had a dim view of sexuality.

The last section of the chapter is told from Vicki's perspective. She and Judd are unloading stuff together. According to an email Vicki read from Wanda, Cheryl has made good progress. They don't exactly say what this good progress is, but we all know that their idea of good progress involves Cheryl closing her mouth and ceasing with her silly insistence on being involved in her son's life.

I know I've already done so many rants regarding the Cheryl Arc, but it never ceases to amaze me how RTCs continue to be baffled by the idea of consent. If you ever desire some depressing reading that touches both on how consent is a foreign concept to them and that Adoption doesn't really solve everything the way they think it does, pick up a copy of either The Child Catchers or The Girls Who Went Away. Just lock up booze and weapons afterwards, because while I managed to make it nearly to the end of The Girls,The Child Catchers was so damn depressing/enraging, I had to stop halfway. Kept having to fight the urge to scream, "WHAT PART OF MOTHEREFFING CONSENT IS SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND?!" I'm already socially awkward and unpopular enough without having to add that to my list of problems.

They talk a little about Ryan Victor. We do finally get a reason for how scarily precocious he is. No, it's not The Village of the Damned explanation. That would actually be interesting; the possibility of Ryan Victor using his scary mind powers would really liven this shit up.

But it turns out that Ryan Victor suffers from the more prosaic condition known as Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome because Vicki talks about how Ryan Victor has been such a source of joy the past two years, even though the last time he was mentioned, they were celebrating his first birthday!

Look, I know I should cut Ellanjay some slack on this issue. As a writer, I know babies and small children are inherently difficult to write; you run the danger of having them disappear for pages at a time (with no concern from anyone) only to reappear much more older and precocious, or you wind up producing a nauseatingly cute cliché that makes your audience what to become an advocate in favor of Child Abuse. Babies and small children are hard to write, because most character development comes from characters interacting with other characters, and babies and small children can't really interact on a meaningful level with anyone. Basically, they're a lump of clay or marble, or in other words, a work in progress. When their personalities are a little more developed, you can have more meaningful interaction/fun with them, but until then, they're really more of a possibility or a plot device than a character.

So I tend to be understanding and forgiving when writers screw up with babies and small children. Unless they make a really egregious screw-up (like having a newborn speaking), or unless they're Ellanjay, whose problems can be summed up as They Just Didn't Care. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that they just didn't care. Given how bad most Christian Fiction is, that seems to be the general stance of most writers in that particular niche. They know the readers of that genre will read whatever crap you put out, because they are desperate for entertainment and forbidden from reading anything else, so they don't have to even try to produce a quality product.

Anyway, while doing all this, an officer comes after them, forcing a chase scene, wherein our brave heroes are pulled over. As you guessed, the ending...yeah...I think I should just quote from the book, rather than summarize it for you. Besides, you know I believe in Misery loves Company.

Vicki opened the door and climbed out. She looked for a place to run, but the officer motioned her to the rear of the Humvee. The air felt warm, so the plague was still in effect.

“You, redhead, walk slowly toward me with your hands up,” the officer said.

Vicki did as she was told.

“What do you want with us?” Judd said.

“Shut up and come with me, punk.”

“No!” Vicki said.

“Hands on the back of the car!” the officer warned.

Vicki turned. She couldn’t believe they had been caught. They had gone through so much, too much to have it end like this.

“You,” the officer said to Judd, “on your knees.”

Judd knelt behind the car, and Vicki glanced at the officer, who slowly walked toward them. The man stopped near Judd, holstered his gun, and pulled something out of his pocket. “I believe this is yours, young man. And I think you know what to do with it.”

Vicki turned, her brow furrowed. The officer had given Judd a tiny box, and Judd smiled. The officer took off his sunglasses and pushed his hat up, showing the mark of the true believer.

“Zeke?” Vicki said.

“Pay attention to what’s happening, redhead,” Zeke said.

Vicki glanced at Judd, who was still on one knee. “Vicki, I have known you almost six years, and though we’ve had some difficult days, the last few weeks have been the happiest of my life.”

Vicki covered her mouth with a hand as Judd opened the box, revealing a sparkling ring.

“I’ve come to love you, Vicki, and I want to share the rest of my days with you, before our Lord returns.” He pulled the ring from the box and held it out. His voice broke when he said, “Will you marry me?”

Tears stung Vicki’s eyes as she slipped the ring on her finger. Vicki fell into Judd’s arms and they kissed. Her voice trembled as she whispered, “Yes.”

Okay, another lesson learned from this series: Creating an elaborate ruse to convince your love interest that she is in life-threatening danger, in order to spice up your marriage proposal and ensure that she won't say No, isn't emotional manipulation/blackmail.

I admit that I am biased in that I've always found proposals where a girl can't veto the request without humiliating the guy in front of all his family and friends or without looking like a massive bitch, to be the opposite of romantic. Can't he just take her some place private and romantic and pop the question there? After which, if they need a cheering crowd in response, they can reenact it elsewhere. I'd probably be the worst girlfriend or wife ever, because every time I see a grand romantic gesture, either in movies or real life, I can't stop thinking about how creepy said gesture is. It's also the reason why I can't watch most romantic comedies. That and the fact that the female characters in said movies, are so lame, no matter how many times the scriptwriters assert how "strong" and "independent" they are.

Anyway, that's it for this week. Sorry for all the times I repeated myself and sorry for all the links. I like to think the links liven up my dull rants, but I understand if you feel different.

Before you go, I will make one announcement. I hope it fulfills you with the same amount of joy as it does me. The announcement is this: we have one chapter left in this book. After next week, we can finally move onto Book Twelve, aka the last volume in this insanely overly long series. Really the only justifiable response to that announcement is this. Yeah, I know the Hallelujah Chorus is so popular, it's practically become a cliché, but it is pretty awesome in spite of it. Proof that Christian Art didn't always suck harder than a room full of Kirbies armed with Electrolux cleaners.

I did consider posting a link to the last movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, because if you were to really twist my arm and force me to choose between Handel's Messiah and Beethoven's Ninth, I would grudgingly admit that I like Beethoven's Ninth more, even though I really love both works and not just the parts everyone's heard of; I wholeheartedly love them both.

But I'll save that for the very last snark on this series, as a palate cleanser for the brave souls who have suffered through so much bad writing with me. Plus, there is the danger that the famous chorus everyone recognizes from Beethoven's Ninth, might have a completely different meaning than what everyone thinks. That famous chorus, which is done in German, might be Beethoven singing about how much he loves screwing prostitutes of all shapes, sizes, and ages, for all I know.

Whereas Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" is in English, so I have some idea as to what they're singing about. Even though it amuses me that The Messiah has become a Christmas staple, when it doesn't take much for someone to tell that it was originally intended to be an Easter piece.

Sort of like the time I played "Meditation" from Thais by Jules Massenet on the violin for a church congregation, only to discover afterwards that the meditation was some guy trying to convince a girl to stop being a prostitute and become a nun. Yeah...luckily for me, most people have an appalling lack of knowledge when it comes to art, so I was safe.

Wow...my little announcement wound up being longer than I thought. Until next week, everyone.

*If you're wondering about the post title, it's both because a) I couldn't think of a decent title and b)I believe in encouraging my readers' creativity. No matter what head canon you come up with, it'll probably be more interesting if not better written, than anything produced by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.

**Seriously, go see Inside Out.