Saturday, July 26, 2014

Once again, Strawman has a point

So Vicki has dragged the black-haired girl into the hideout and now they're questioning her. In a rare show of competent writing, Ellanjay (or most likely, the Ghostwriter) give a description of this girl.

The girl was a little over five feet tall, with jet-black hair that hung down in clumps. She wore a dark, leather jacket and black jeans. Everything was dark about her except her skin, which was quite pale. She had a thin, cute face and brown eyes. Vicki couldn’t help thinking the girl looked like she could use a good meal.

Not bad but I've got to object to the height description. Unless they're at a gas station in front of one of those height measurers by the door, they shouldn't know she's a little over five feet tall. People don't tend to notice someone's height unless they're either really short or really tall and it doesn't sound like this girl's either.

The girl introduces herself as Tanya and talks about her and her father's beliefs.

“The dragon,” Tanya whispered. “This Carpathia dude is the head dragon of Revelation.”
“You read the Bible?”
“My dad does. He believes the prophecies are coming true. That’s why we went underground. The terrorists, or the dragon, were taking over, and it wouldn’t be until Armageddon that we could come out again.”

Uh, correct me if I'm wrong but isn't that exactly what the Tribbles believe? That Nicky is the Dragon of Revelation and the only way to survive is to hole up somewhere? Given that Tanya later reveals that her dad's the head of some organization called the Mountain Militia, I'm assuming this is Ellanjay taking potshots at the Christian Survivalists. It doesn't really work though because there's little difference between Ellanjay theology and that of the Christian Survivalists. Both have a cruel God that even the Old Testament Jehovah would blanche at and both have an obsession with fancy toys.

In short, I'm wondering, like Vicki, why Tanya doesn't have the Zod-Mark.

In fact, right now I really wish I could follow Tanya's group because they're actually doing stuff and suffering the consequences unlike the Tribbles who don't have a bruise to show for three and a half years worth of suffering.

Nothing really happens on Judd's end. He talks to Chang and receives some recording of Nicky's rantings. Since they won't talk about what's on the recording until next chapter, I'm fast-forwarding.

Vicki, after hearing all of Tanya's complaints about how it sucks to live underground, sees an opening and decides to start talking to her about God.

Vicki scooted to the edge of her seat. “What do you think about God?”
“I don’t know,” Tanya said. “I don’t really think that much about him these days. Everything seems like it’s determined ahead. Who lives, who dies. What do you think?”
“Just like I think there’s an evil person in the world, I believe God is working out a plan for good to those who believe in him.”

Tanya rolled her eyes. “You call what’s happening in the world good? From what my dad tells me, there’s been a lot of people losing their lives. Now the oceans have turned to blood. Doesn’t sound like God’s doing a very good job.”
“In the Bible, God said he would send his Son to set the captives free. God’s doing that right now for millions of people around the world. He did it for me, and he can do it for you too.”

Raise your hand if right now you're totally on Tanya's side right now? Wow all two of my readers agree with me: Tanya's the one making more cogent points. I don't need to delve to deeply into this debate seeing as it's one we've had before. I'll just remind you that in the LB-verse, God loves his people so much that he's willing to kill them all so that no one will perish.

The chapter ends with Colin reporting that someone is headed their way.

Turns out that someone is Tanya's brother, Ty. Yeah, I'm wondering if this Mountain Militia group comes from the Duggar School of Naming Your Kids. Basically Ty's like, "You're coming with me," and drags Tanya off. Vicki gets in a last minute, "Jesus loves you!" leaving out the part where TurboJesus is also the one trying to kill you horribly.

Well, now we finally get to hear Nicky rant and really it's impossible to snark. I'm sorry but Nicky is just so over-the-top ridiculous that even though we're supposed to see this as a scene of horror, no one, I repeat no one, could possibly take this seriously. All the great villains in literature are shaking their heads in dismay. But because you probably don't believe me and because I believe in spreading suffering around, I'll give you a selection. You may picture Nicky using whatever silly voice you like to get through this.

“Maintain your loyalty mark application sites and make use of the enforcement facilitators. But, effective immediately, do not execute Jews discovered without the mark. I want them imprisoned and suffering. Use existing facilities now but build new centers as soon as possible. They need not be fancy or have any amenities. Just make them secure. Be creative, and share with each other your ideas. Ideally, these people should either long to change their minds or long to die. Do not allow that luxury.
“They will find few remaining Judah-ites to sympathize with them. They will be alone and as lonely as they have ever been, even though their cell mates will be fellow Jews. There are no limits on the degradation I am asking, requiring, you to inflict. No clothes, no heat, no cooling, no medicine. Just enough food to keep them alive for another day of suffering.
“I want reports, gentlemen. Pictures, accounts, descriptions, recordings. These people will wish they had opted for the guillotine. We will televise your best, most inventive ideas. From time immemorial these dogs have claimed the title to ‘God’s chosen people.’ Well, they have met their god now. I have chosen them, all right. And they will not find even death a place they can hide.

Like I said, this speech is mostly this: Nicky ranting about Jews to such an extent that even the most vitriol-filled Neo-Nazi would be like, "Dude, turn it down a notch."

Vicki's group meanwhile is praying for Tanya and her group. Oh and we get this statement which should make everyone headdesk.

Vicki told him. “It sounds like he’s into some weird theology. From what she said, her dad uses the Bible like some kind of code-book. He has them all believing everything’s going to be okay as soon as the final battle ends.”

Just as you can't claim that God loves us when he's doing his damnedest to prove otherwise, you can't criticize a character for using the Bible like a codebook when that's all your good characters do. Remember all that stuff Jesus said about turning the other cheek and sharing the wealth only applies to when he establishes his kingdom on Earth. Also, the seven letter to the seven churches that begins the Book of Revelation...that actually doesn't refer to actual churches around during John's time but to seven ages. I could go on and on about this point but I think I've made it clear.

I thought about throwing in a third chapter but for once, I think this snark is long enough with just two. I never thought I'd stop doing three-chapter-snarks yet here we are.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Zombies Would Starve in the LB-Verse

First of all, a welcome back to our dear Firedrake! Nice to know you haven't died in a freak vomit-choking and/or gardening and/or spontaneous combustion accident.

I'll sum up the first section: Vicki talks to Lenore. I am dead serious here: that's all that happens.

Meanwhile, Judd and Lionel and Westin are, for some unfathomable reason, still trying to bum a ride back to the states off of Z-Van. I know many of you don't understand my irrational love for Z-Van but I can't help myself. He so far hasn't ratted them out, despite the fact you'd think he'd realize by now they're not going to convert to Nickyism, and he gives them front-row seats at his concert, despite them criticizing his music every chance they can get, and most importantly, he lets them use his stuff. It's almost as though he knows Judd and Lionel are main characters for which the plot must part for them like the Red Sea for Israel.

But Westin's noticed something about him, besides the whole Nicky-Mark business.

Westin squinted. “Something’s happened to Z-Van. Maybe it was what the concert did—his new album is number one and they haven’t even released it yet.”
“What do you mean?” Judd said. “His looks have changed?”
Westin shifted in his chair. “The guy has always been into weird, dark stuff, but something’s happened. His eyes are vacant, like Z-Van’s not really there anymore.”
Judd told Westin what Chang had overheard on Carpathia’s plane. “You think Leon could have given Z-Van power to levitate above the stage like that?”
“I guess it’s possible.” Westin smirked. “That’s all we need—more little Carpathias running around.”
“You’re saying Z-Van is under somebody else’s control?” Lionel said.
“Maybe he took some drugs, or he was energized by the concert,” Westin said, “but it sure seemed like I was talking to a different person.”

I'm now picturing Madonna Dahmer spinning his head around and vomiting pea soup.

The chapter ends with Judd wondering if it's safe to be around Z-Van.

Uh, Judd let me give you a subtle hint: NO! Z-VAN HAS TAKEN THE MARK WHICH MEANS HE'S ONE OF THE LEGIONS OF THE DAMNED. :headdesk: It's like we're in a zombie movie and Judd's going "Well he keeps licking his lips and moaning and hungering for brains. I hope it's safe to hang around him."

So Sam's again doing nothing but watching them do stuff at Petra. He finds Micah aka Chaim and they talk. Mostly it's the usual alpha-male posturing we've come to know and love in the LB-verse (though they make the usual "It was God giving me strength" sort of spiel.) And apparently Hattie Durham aka the Great Butt Monkey of Babylon did make something of an impact. Chaim says that she told him that God was going to do great things through him. As thanks, he plans to scatter her ashes once the Glorious Appearing (aka when TurboJesus shows up) happens.

The chapter ends with Judd receiving a call from Chang who's panicked because Nicky just announced he's going to level Petra with bombs. Me, I'm going, "am I the only one who remembers the whole cockamamie prophecy that says you'll be safe until three and a half years are up after which TurboJesus slaughters the GC and institutes his regime peace on Earth.

Next chapter, Judd's all "Are you sure about this?" and Chang's like "Hell yeah, I'm sure." Godwin's Law is invoked as they compare Nicky's plan to Hitler's plan to wipe out all the Jews (as well as handicapped, gypsies, homosexuals, and communists and believe me, they had a very loose definition of the word "communist.") This makes me all ranty but I'm afraid I can't quite convey my rage in a coherent fashion, so I'm just going to remind everyone that the Nazis identified as Christian, so yeah.

I'm deliberately fast-forwarding through Vicki's and Sam's parts. Again, it's just more talking and watching. Forgive me, but it's white noise: it's unsnarkable. Let's see what the chapter ends with. :looks ahead: Another meaningless action scene...:whimpers: I'll sum it up for you: Vicki is talking to Anita on the phone as Anita tries to escape. But the chapter ends with Hector going, "I should have taken care of you when I had the chance." Believe me, Hector, I wish you had: it'd be one less pinball for me to keep track of.

Once again, another chapter for you. I don't know when I'll stop doing three-chapter snarks. Probably when something freaking happens.

I'll hit fast-forward again and tell you Anita escapes.

Chaim decides to preach a sermon for us. Let's listen in, shall we?

“John said he heard the angel of the waters saying, ‘You are righteous, O Lord, the One who is and who was and who is to be, because you have judged these things.’
“And what,” Micah continued, “of our enemies who have shed the blood of saints and prophets? God has turned the oceans into blood, and one day soon he will turn the rivers and lakes to blood as well, giving them blood to drink. For it is their just due.

It is also the just due of everyone, RTC or otherwise, too poor to have access to other drinking sources who will now die horribly. Because God is a friend of the poor.

“But what shall we his people eat and drink, here in this place of refuge? Some would look upon it and say it is desolate and barren. Yet God says that at twilight we shall eat meat, and in the morning we shall be filled with bread. In this way we shall know that he is the Lord our God.”

Uh, bread and meat's all fine and good, Zod, but what about our Vitamin C? Every hear of Scurvy? It's not a fun way to go.

It then begins to rain quail and bread.

Micah stood at a high place and called out a greeting. “We need not ask ourselves, as the children of Israel did, ‘What is it?’ ” he said.
“For we know God has provided it as bread. Take, eat, and see that it is filling and sweet, like wafers made with honey. As Moses said to them, ‘This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.’ ”
“Manna,” Sam whispered.
Micah moved in front of a huge rock, planting his feet firmly in the loose rocks in front of it. “And what shall we drink? Again, God Almighty himself has provided.”
Sam gasped as Micah raised both arms. Gushes of water sprang from rocks everywhere in Petra. Sam jumped down from his perch, put his hands under the fresh, cool stream, and drank.

You'd think Zod would be giving all this fresh water to those who are still on the fence. After all, the people at Petra are all converts: if they die of thirst, they get bamfed into Heaven. After all, it's not the healthy that need a physician.

Meanwhile, in America, Vicki thinks about boys, or to be specific, Judd. Like I said before I like these rare character moments, even though you can tell the ghostwriter is frantically trying to convince us all that, despite having not been on the same continent for several books, Judd and Vicki are totes meant to be together.

In the stillness of the night, with crickets and frogs singing around her, Vicki’s thoughts turned to Judd. Judd’s recent phone call renewed her hopes that they would someday find a way to be together.
Vicki thought about the boys she had known in school. Most of them had been what her father had called “a bad influence,” but that had simply made her want to date them more. Looking back, Vicki wished she hadn’t gotten so involved in dating.
Vicki had once gone to a wedding of a distant cousin whose parents were into church. The couple had decided not to date but “court” each other. When she heard about the guidelines they had both lived by during their engagement, it had seemed strange and almost laughable.

After that paragraph, I expected to hear regurgitated information about courtship and how it's so superior to dating, but surprisingly Ellanjay skip this. I'm not complaining, though; too busy thanking God for small favors.

But the chapter ends with Vicki hearing something moving in the bushes and grabbing a black-haired person by the ankles. That seems a good place to leave you all, so I will.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Tale Told By Idiots

Firedrake, if you're out there and you haven't suffocated in some freak wig closet accident, I have to admit something: you're right. After the epic pig ride, it really is all downhill from here. I know I promised not to complain about how bored I am but right now it's so boring that it's actually painful to read and I'm wondering how the hell am I going to snark this? But I'll give it a shot.

Vicki's section...it's all talking. Nothing but boring talking about the person in the woods, who might it be, could they be a GC or not? Again, it might read as interesting if this series was written by JK Rowling, who wasn't afraid to let bad things happen to her characters, but like I said, we're reading Ellanjay. We do get another appearance by Cheryl who talks about how if her baby's a girl, she'll name it Vicki :gag: and if it's a boy, she'll name it Ryan. I can't help but question the wisdom in naming your baby after the second greatest Butt Monkey in the LB-verse. If you're wondering, the greatest Butt Monkey in the LB-verse is Hattie Durham.

Oh and some of the people in America are leaving. I can't keep track of who's leaving and who's staying because I have a hard time distinguishing between any of the characters in these series.

Judd's section...well guess what, we get Ellanjay's favorite action: Exciting!Telephone!Action. Basically Mr. Stein calls Judd and tells him WHAT WE WITNESSED IN THE PREVIOUS CHAPTERS ABOUT MICHAEL AND THE EARTH SWALLOWING THE GC UP! Me, I find myself just gobsmacked by the true awfulness of it all. Why did they waste several pages with Mr. Stein doing play-by-play of what we just witnessed? I know Judd didn't witness it and needs to know about it, but surely he should know about it GIVEN THAT THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE COCKAMAMIE PROPHECY HE BELIEVES IN PREDICTS! Surely three and a half years in, he'd know every letter and tittle of this meshugenah prophecy. Never have I seen such a naked excuse for padding in my life!

Some of Vicki's friends leave. That's seriously all that happens in the first chapter. I'm so sorry.

The next one begins with Sam in Petra as he and the other evacuees work to try to make it livable. Given the amount of work needed to bring amenities to that ancient city, I can picture all the archeologists in the world screaming in pain, as precious artifacts are destroyed so that they might have comfort. Oh, sure they don't mention them destroying stuff, but given that Ellanjay would never allow their characters to simply rough it, I have to assume that they're destroying artifacts right and left.

Apparently Our Buck is here, directing construction. Naturally Sam is, like all characters in this verse, starstruck. [slightly OT] You ever wonder just how much Jerry Jenkins sees himself in the character of Buck? Does he ask that his friends and relatives refer to him that way? How much you wanna bet he roleplays, with himself as Buck and his wife playing the sexy young ingénue, Chloe? And now that I've grossed you out with that visual, back on topic. [/slightly OT]

They're talking about setting up a computer station and I'm wondering how that's even possible. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Petra in the middle of the freaking desert? How exactly are they supposed to get electricity, let alone Internet access, out there? But then again, in a situation where I'm being hunted down by the anti-Christ, I'd be grateful for safety and water, never mind my precious electronics. But try to picture Ellanjay writing a novel without phones or internet? The plan is to link everything up with their contact in New Babylon, Chang Wong. It's becoming clear: Ellanjay thinks Hacking=Fucking Magic.

Judd is still trying to get back to the states. He talks with Chang and that's about it.

Vicki receives an email from Anita. For those wondering "Who the hell is that?" she's Manny's sister. And judging by how the chapter ends, I smell a conversion scene.

Sam meanwhile, is watching as people build their homes in Petra. Naturally Ellanjay gloss over important details like how the heck are they plugging in computers out in the freaking desert.

The chapter ends with Vicki talking on the phone with Anita. She tells Vicki about her brother's death and naturally, Vicki, never afraid to be a Vulture for Christ, sees an opening she can exploit. Because Christianity is all about exploiting emotional wounds.

I'll throw in a third chapter. Sorry to do so many three-chapter-snarks but really nothing's happening.

First let's examine this headdesker of a conversation between Vicki and Anita.

“You know all about joining a gang, right? When you’re accepted, you take the mark of that gang and become one of them. It’s the same with God, only a lot better. When you ask God to forgive you for the bad stuff you’ve done, he makes you part of his family. But he doesn’t make you pass any tests to get in.”
“But I have to do something to get him to love me, don’t I?”
“No. The Bible says God loves you so much that he gave his only Son. Even before you were born, Jesus died for you, so tell God you believe and you want him to come into your life and forgive you. Do it now.”

Actually Vicki, it's established several times that you have to say The Prayer or else Zod's hands are tied and he'll pitch you into Hell regardless of what kind of life you've lead.

I'll spoil it for you: the section ends with Anita saying The Prayer. Wooo....

Lionel's back from outer space or wherever the hell he's been because we finally hear from him. Too bad nothing of importance happens so I'll just fast-forward through it. If you really want to know, Nicky just shows up in his limo with a lot of guys and Leon's all "Kneel before him!"

Judd talks again with Chang. Aunursa's already told me about Chang's interrogation, so his conversation with Judd is strictly to fill in the readers of the kids version.

“I refused to take the test until my boss, Mr. Figueroa, showed up. He asked me a series of yes-or-no questions. Is today Sunday? Are you a male? That kind of thing. When he asked if I was loyal to the supreme potentate, I closed my eyes and reminded myself that Jesus Christ is the one who fits that description, and I answered yes.”
“So you passed?” Judd said.
“The test went on for some time. I had to evade a couple of answers that could have hurt me, but I think I passed.”

And you thought I was joking when I said that the characters repeatedly bow to Satan while claiming that in their hearts they're bowing to God. You gotta wonder what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (characters in the part of the Book of Daniel that they don't read) think of all this. Apparently they could have just bowed to the statue of Nebuchadnezzar, while thinking of God, and it would have been totally okay.

And that's it for this week. There is some more stuff. Apparently Nicky takes the lie-detector test (why? I don't know.) and the chapter ends with Sam waiting. Once again, I apologize for the weak quality of snark.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Why do Ellanjay Hate Suspense so much?

Hmm...no comments on last week's post. Either some kind of massive plague is going around or this is your subtle way of saying you're tired of me pointing out Ellanjay's anti-Semitism. I promise I'll try to cut back, since I think I've beaten that point into the ground, but I make no guarantees.

For those of you wondering, we're beginning a new book this week. It's called Protected and it covers books 32-34 of the Left Behind: the kids series. I've said it before and I'll say it again: there only reason this series is so freaking long is avarice. More stuff happens in JK Rowling's Harry Potter series and that's only seven books.

As said before, Vicki was doing monitor duty when she noticed, someone creeping around the hideout. Vicki decides not wake anybody up because she's a girl with girl parts. Actually the reasoning given is that she doesn't want to come across as a scared little girl, but given how sexist Ellanjay are...yeah, I'm going with the girl with girl parts explanation.

We also get a bit of meditation from Vicki. I have to admit, I do, well I wouldn't go so far as to say like, but Vicki's passages seem easier to endure because Ellanjay ease off the narrative gas more often when it comes to her.

It had been a long time since she felt like a kid. True, she was only seventeen. In a normal world she would have been enjoying her senior year of high school. But this was not a normal world. Each day brought a new set of dangers and problems. She and the others had done their best to think clearly, then react. But there were some things you couldn’t plan for, things that went beyond imagination. Like tonight—helicopters falling from the sky, the threat of an all-out war coming from the most evil man in the world.

No, Vicki didn’t feel like a kid. She should have been thinking about her senior picture or buying her first car or what she would wear to the prom. For a split second, as she put on the jacket, Vicki let her mind go. She imagined wearing a beautiful dress and walking into Nicolae High, arm in arm with Judd, her red hair flowing over her shoulders.

It would be really nice if Ellanjay delved a little more into what it's like to be essentially a child soldier, but I have a feeling that's expecting too much from them.

So Vicki takes their dog with them as she decides to go out and see what's out there. Even though they just barely escaped from a GC trap and for all she knows, this could be another one. :headdesk: Sweet Zod, Vicki is a moron.

So Z-Van's plane is toast, leaving Judd and Lionel and Westin stranded in Israel. If you're wondering, they do bring up taking a commercial flight out of Israel but turns out that only people with the Mark can fly commercial nowadays. The brief section ends with them deciding to go to Z-Van's concert.

Vicki is searching the woods. Ellanjay once again try to do an action scene but fail miserably. I'll sum it up for you: Vicki finds some gloves with MM written on it and a note that says "Help Me."

I'll skip the Judd section for now since nothing really happens.

The chapter ends with Sam among the people marching to Petra. They see GC soldiers coming for them and try to work up a little suspense, but since we've already been told nothing will happen to them...yeah, I don't need to say anymore, do I?

Next chapter, we get more Z-Van. :fist pump: I love that crazy Madonna Dahmer ripoff.

Not much really goes on at the concert, just Judd watching and smirking about how he has it all figured out. They do provide us with more Z-Van lyrics which makes this section more bearable.

“His hands so cold, his heart at rest,
As lord of all sees one last test.
A grieving world, we turn to you,
The one entombed in shadows new.”

“The planet waits, not knowing when
We’ll see this man of love again.
But death is not a worthy foe,
This wound, this sting, he will not go.”

“Res-urrection, sent from above
Res-urrection, power of love
Res-urrection, rise from your bed
Res-urrection, back from the dead!”

Maybe it's the Stockholm Syndrome talking but I don't think Z-Van's song's that bad. It has the makings of heavy metal number. But then again, I've always liked Z-Van. He's so much more fun than our Elsie Dinsmore-esque protagonists.

Everyone chews Vicki out for making such a stupid decision and frankly I'm with them. Were it not for the fact that the GC couldn't find their dick with two hands and a map, she could have gotten them all in a trouble. Nothing really much comes of this section and I'm bored to death so let's speed to the end of the chapter.

It too is very boring. Boring through and through. Basically Sam sees all the soldiers coming and wonders if they'll survive.


Because the snark is skimpy, I'll throw in a third chapter.

Yet another robed man has shown up and starts quoting long passages of scripture. It's pretty much impossible to snark, so I'll fast-forward again to the end and tell you that the robed dude is the archangel Michael.

In the meantime, Judd and Lionel are still at Z-Van's concert, for reasons I can't fathom, and we get to hear the song that Z-Van wrote about them. So here are more lyrics for you:

“What more does he have to do?
He came back from the dead, just like he said.
An incredible man with peace and a plan
For a world to be filled with love.”

The song spoke of “two young men, swayed by religion, controlled by a book.”

Z-Van continued, yelling now: “I’ve heard this song before. I’ve heard about Jesus. I’ve heard about sin, but he can’t solve this mess we’re in.”

Judd then watches as Z-Van mocks Christ's crucifixion after which he takes to the stage in front of all the audience members and the people lined up to take the Mark and preaches the Word until the GC drags him away.

WRONG!

Y'see that's what Judd would do if he wasn't a spineless coward. But given that he is, here's what really happens.

A few people stood in line to be processed. Judd thought about telling them what a mistake they were making, that they were forfeiting their souls, but as he got closer and heard their conversation, he decided against it.

:grinds teeth: I'm sure though that Judd feels really bad about it and that's all that really matters, feelings. Not actually doing something to save people, but feelings. As said before this series is the anti-Bodhisattva; rather than try to save people, the RTC thing to do is to laugh at all the drowning people.

The chapter ends with Sam watching the GC army get swallowed up by the Earth, which might have been a cool moment except that it, like everything else in this series was told for us in advance thus killing what little surprise there was.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Fate of Anne Frank and Ellanjay Completely Forget about Wormwood.

What we have waiting for us are a lot of action scenes...forgive me, please, I'm doing the best I can with what I've got.

The chapter begins with Judd and Lionel basically helping tear down stuff and load it up so they can get to Petra. Yea, just what every Young Adult novel needs: Exciting!Packing!Action.

We then cut to Vicki's section which I enjoy a little better because the writers ease off the narrative gas and allow the characters to be something besides Expositors Extraordinaire. Basically what happens is Vicki and Shelly talk about boys.

While Mark got some needed sleep, Vicki pulled Shelly aside and told her about her conversation with Judd.
Shelly put a hand over her mouth. “How do you feel about it?” she said.
“Excited. A little scared. I’ve liked Judd as a friend for a long time. It feels like something’s changed with him.”

Uh, what exactly has changed between Vicki and Judd? It's been several books since they were on the same continent. Oh yeah, I know what's changed: the writers realized that it's nearing the end of the series and they haven't paired them up yet, so they're hurriedly trying to do so even though the only thing they have in common, besides being RTCs, is that they're boring.

But then we get this headdesker:

Shelly ran her tongue over her lower lip and tilted her head back. “Since we’re being honest about guys, I have a confession.”
Vicki grinned, anticipating what was coming. “Conrad and I have become pretty good friends since our trip out west. We’ve been doing a Bible study together. And he writes me letters. Isn’t it romantic?”
“If anything can be romantic these days, it’s writing letters to somebody staying in the same house with you. Does anybody know?”

Unlike Judd and Vicki, who haven't been on the same continent for several books, Shelly and Conrad have been living in close quarters and this is the first mention of any kind of relationship beyond friendship regarding them. I'm dead serious: they just pulled this one flat-out of nowhere. Oh and letters? I guess in Ellanjayland even modern teenagers are hip to Victorian-style courtship. Next up on Conrad and Shelly's list: holding hands.

Here's some advice to aspiring writers out there: if you're going to have characters in romantic relationships, you have to show them acting romantic towards one another. No, you don't have to show the actual act of coitus but some flirting or kissing or something that gives us the idea that they're more than just friends. Right now, I'm picturing a pair of pinballs rubbing up against each other.

Next Vicki and co. turn on the news which informs them that Manny is dead. No. Stop. Think of the children [/Sarcasm] They read an email from Manny, wonder if the gang members converted before Manny died, and that's it.

Here's a good question to ask those of Ellanjay's politics: was Anne Frank sent to Hell when she died? After all, she was Jewish. Maybe not one of those Orthodox SuperJews that predominate these books but still Jewish. I find myself asking that because as Judd watches the evacuation, Westin tries to get an Israeli (or in other words, a Jew) to reject the faith of his followers and accept Jesus. The guy's response is "Never!"

This anecdote isn't very long but it's enough to make me wonder about Anne Frank's fate. Firedrake already told me about the whole "Harrowing of Hell" doctrine and I'm sure Ellanjay accepts it on behalf of everyone in the Bible, but what about all the other Jews. Is Anne Frank along with six million others burning in Hell while the SS (the majority of which identified as Christian) getting front row seats in Heaven. Maybe you think I'm Godwinizing the debate, but sometimes the debate needs to invoke Godwin's Law.

The choppers start firing bullets and that's where the chapter ends.

The next chapter...as you probably guessed, the only ones being harmed are the GC while the RTCs fly unscathed. But those stubborn Jews Israelis simply refuse to convert, saying that it's a trick. Frankly I'm with them: given that Nicky has declared war against the RTCs and the Jews, wouldn't it make perfect sense for the Jewish people to conclude that all this is a result of Hashem intervening and not immediately bow and accept TurboJesus.

Meanwhile, Sam is trying to convert the Israelis in his vehicle. Once again, Ellanjay are trying desperately to make this all suspenseful as they go through gunfire and all that, but it fails because WE KNOW NOTHING WILL HAPPEN BECAUSE IT'S ALREADY BEEN PROPHESIZED THAT ZOD WILL PROTECT THEM! [/ragedump]

Judd talks to Chang, who exists to fill in gaps in the readers' knowledge, on the phone. Apparently he used his Super Hacking skills to get Token Jew on the air. They say the pundits keep trying to talk over him, but you know what might stop that nefarious Token Jew. A BULLET TO THE BRAIN! Any reason why the eeevil one-world dystopian government is all pacifistic when it comes to dealing with a guy rallying people to fight against it? I know, because prophecy! That's why! But I must protest the stupidity; it's in my nature.

Oh and he executed the Supreme Commander Walter Moon for allowing Token Jew on the air. Again, what might help? EXECUTING TOKEN JEW!

Apparently Fortunado has said he plans on praying him off the air and it ends with the announcement that the water has turned to blood. Uh, correct me if I'm wrong, but since Wormwood has hit, poisoning all the water on earth and Nicky has done the water to blood thing before HOW THE HELL IS THIS SUPPOSED TO BE SHOCKING?!

Vicki and co. watch Token Jew's message. There's really nothing to snark: it's basically Token Jew going "Jesus is the Messiah so abandon millennia of teachings and accept the eradication of your culture for your own good." I think Rubyfruit said in a previous conversation that she found herself more offended on behalf of the Catholics than on any other group in the LB series, but I find myself more offended on behalf of the Jewish people. Granted I'm really in no position to talk about issues facing them given that I'm a Gentile whose expertise comes from reading Judaism for Dummies but more and more I wonder why Ellanjay are shocked! Shocked to be called anti-Semites. Do they really believe that we should see a series that presents the Jews abandoning their faith in droves to become good RTCs as anything but?

The GC keep trying to shoot down the RTCs but since they're graduates of the Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy, they keep hitting each other. I know we're supposed to see this as miraculous but that's my interpretation and I stand by it.

The chapter ends with Judd talking to Chang again. The blood water problem is international (again, I shout until I am hoarse about Wormwood) and the GC are instituting lie detector tests to ferret out moles. This is supposed to be shocking because an eevil organization violating 4th amendment rights...color me shocked and surprised.

I've decided to throw on another chapter so I can finish out this book. I've already purchased all the books I need so there won't be any delay in snark.

For those of you worried about Chang, fear not. He's crashed his computer so they can't recover the hard drive and I'm sure when it comes time for the lie detector test, he'll just give some variety of weasely answers like a good RTC.

Vicki watches the destruction of GC forces on the news and we get this headdesker as it talks about how the water turning to blood has affected stuff.

Though the Global Community tried to downplay them, reports from around the world flooded in about the seas turning to blood. Beautiful vacation resorts became death sites as whales, fish, sharks, and every imaginable sea creature perished and rose to the surface. Ships radioed Mayday signals, saying they had run out of drinking water and were unable to get back to land.

If you're going hoarse shouting "WHAT ABOUT FUCKING WORMWOOD!" you're not alone. I'm doing the same. Not to mention, it's good that Zod has wiped out all variety of sea life, real good. So I take their vision of Heaven is an entirely sterile one free of any of the fauna and flora that make Earth interesting. Once again, I find myself longing for the other place.

Nicky gives the generic "We shall overcome" speech which is supposed to be inspiring, but once again, wouldn't inspire anyone with a pulse.

“This Micah claimed to represent the rebels, but we now know he is an impostor who has used his trickery to create the great seawater catastrophe,” Carpathia said. “Do not be dismayed. The enemies of the Global Community will be brought to justice, and just as the difficulty we have faced with the sores has passed, so this problem with the earth’s waters will be overcome.”

Is it any wonder why I envision him as being played by Brent Spiner?

Oh and apparently the RTCs aren't affected by the blood water and bottled water is affected too. Congratulations, Ellanjay, you've condemned pretty much all of the world's remaining population to die horribly only to end up in Hell where they'll suffer horribly for all eternity. Soft drinks and juice for some reason remain unaffected.

Judd and Lionel and Westin are searching around for Z-Van so they can borrow his plane and go back to the states. Me, I question why the hell they're still hitting him up for favors given that Z-Van has accepted the Mark meaning he's fully on Nicky's side. I also think it's damn nice of him to keep letting them run around using his stuff like that, awful nice behavior for someone who's supposed to be one of the Legion of the Damned.

Vicki is doing her watch when she sees someone in the bushes. Yawn.

The chapter and book end with Judd and Lionel running towards Z-Van's plane only to see it get a massive hole blown in it. So I guess our brave heroes will have to find another way to get back to the states. Why I should care, I don't know.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Pinballs

We begin this week with a mostly Vicki chapter. Ugh...Stay tuned kids, because we got some real good toy commercials coming up, I swear.

Now, you're probably wondering why I'm so down about this. Isn't spending time with Vicki better than spending time with a watered-down mini-Rayford aka Judd? But truth is none of the characters really have any distinguishing traits. As said in a comment on a previous snark, the characters, for all we know about them, might as well be pinballs with little name-tags attached and as many of my readers will point out, they have as much control over the plot as pinballs do over their own path. Here's a challenge for my readers: name some traits of some of the characters mentioned. By traits, I mean personality traits, not ethnicity or background. So no going, "Uh...Lionel's the black guy, right? or "That dude's Jewish."

Vicki and Mark are walking down the hallway searching for Claudia. They find her but she doesn't have the Super Special Awesome Zod-Mark and the GC are closing in on them. But it turns out that the GC do have a few brain cells to rub together, because it turns out this whole thing with Claudia was a trap.

I'll admit I skimmed through most of the next part. Forgive me, but it's really impossible to snark given that it's just a boring collection of action verbs which have no consequences because nothing ever happens to the good guys. If you're wondering, Vicki and Mark are saved by a black maid named Florence, who's so stereotypically black that I wonder why there aren't massive protests over these novels. Then again, Ellanjay seem to be ignorant and proud of their ignorance of anything outside of White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant male.

Florence has Vicki and Mark climb into the laundry because we can leave no cliché unused in these novels. And just because I believe in spreading suffering around, I'll provide a sample of Florence's dialogue:

The woman hummed the tune again, stopping long enough to say, “My job’s the same as the Lord’s in a way. I take the trash out and make sure it gets put in the right place. He takes our trash and puts it on the cross where Jesus can take care of it. Simple as that. Hmm hmm hmm hmm …”

I'll end this chapter for you: they escape without any trouble and I'm bored to death with the whole thing.

Next, we begin with Darrion bravely watching the news. The news is essentially this: Nicky is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life. Also Darrion smirks about how they haven't connected the sores with The Mark.

Nothing happens on Lionel's end so let's just skip to Judd.

Well, nothing's really happening there either, just a lot of thinking. He's mad at Lionel for getting separated from him, making me wonder if I need to dust off my "Ho Yay" tag. And we get another mention of Ryan! Judd actually apologizes for having been such a jerk to him. Too bad, Ryan's dead making any such apology completely pointless.

Judd talks on the phone with Vicki and I suppose we're supposed to read unresolved sexual tension between the two, but given that the writers know nothing about how teenagers act towards one another, it comes across as them trying desperately to come up with an excuse to pair up a pair of paper dolls. I'll sum things up: Vicki is worried, Judd talks about what a jerk he was to Ryan, Vicki's all "He knew you cared in the end," and then they hang up. Mac shows up and David Hayseed is dead. Given that I don't think Hayseed made any appearances in this series, I don't see why we should care.

I'm throwing in a third chapter because the snark's a little skimpy.

Judd and Lionel are hanging around talking, when Chaim, still calling himself Micah, shows up to give his speech. I won't go too much into detail about this speech as it quickly devolves into the standard altar call, but let's start:

“Of the billions and billions of people who have ever lived, One stands head and shoulders above the rest in terms of influence. More schools, colleges, hospitals, and orphanages have been started because of him than because of anyone else. More art was created, more music written, and more humanitarian acts performed due to him and his influence than anyone else ever. Great international encyclopedias devote twenty thousand words to describing him and his influence on the world. Even our calendar is based on his birth. And all this he accomplished in a public ministry that lasted just three and a half years!
“Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God, Savior of the world, and Messiah, predicted that he would build his church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. Centuries after his public, unmerciful mocking, his persecution and martyrdom, billions claimed membership in his church, making it by far the largest religion in the world. And when he returned, as he said he would, to take his faithful to heaven, the disappearance of so many had the most profound impact on this globe that man has ever seen.

I could also point out that in addition to all these great humanitarian acts, Jesus has also been the inspiration for the Inquisition, numerous pogroms, and to top it all off, the Holocaust. You can't point out all the good that's stemmed from Christianity without acknowledging the bad.

“For years skeptics have made fun of the evangelist’s plea, ‘Do you want to be saved tonight?’ and yet that is what I ask you right now. Do not expect God to be fooled. Be not deceived. God will not be mocked. Do not do this to avoid a confrontation with Antichrist. You need to be saved because you cannot save yourself.
“The cost is great but the reward greater. This may cost you your freedom, your family, your very head. You may not survive the journey to safety. But you will spend eternity with God, worshiping the Lord Christ, Messiah, Jesus.”

What if instead of doing this in order to avoid a confrontation with Nicky, they're doing this in order to avoid the fires of hell? You can't say, "Don't convert out of fear!" when that's what your characters do! It just doesn't work!

I'm going to quote 1 John 4:18 again, so you can see how Ellanjay fail.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

After Chaim's speech, Rabbi Ethan Ben-Eliezar and his wife come up to Mr. Stein being all "How could we have been so blind? How was we supposed to know that your attempts to extinguish our culture were for our own good?" Well okay, they don't say the second part but it's implied. They then ask about The Prayer, giving Ellanjay yet another excuse to quote it in its entirety. They say the prayer and stop being ignorant Jews and become RTCs, thus losing what few distinguishing traits they had.

That's where I'll leave you. Sorry to do so much summarizing but like I said there really isn't a lot to snark.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Jewishy Jews Strike Back!

Like I said what we have waiting for us in this chapter is the inevitable conversion scene and oh boy does it suck. Not that I'm not used to Ellanjay's failings by now, but still.

Like I said before, Mr. Stein mentioned that Nicky wouldn't be able to stand against his ultimate enemy and the wife of Ethan Ben-Eliezar (no points for guessing ethnicity) was like "Who's that?" Because Jews are either mind-blowingly ignorant of Jesus or they hate him with all their hearts, but heaven forbid, you accuse Ellanjay of anti-Semitism. I'm sure some of their best friends are Jewish. In fact, they love Jews. Just look at all their great Jewish characters...there's Tsion ben Judah aka Token Jew, Chaim Rosenzweig, Mitchell Stein...Ellanjay just love Jews so long as they abandon the faith of their fathers and stop being so inscrutable and Jewish.

Thankfully, the beginning of Mr. Stein's conversion speech is done in summary. Normally this kind of summarizing, of rushing through pertinent information (like all the Old Testament prophecies which of course, point to TurboJesus) is a bad thing, but here, I welcome it. Less stuff for me to suffer through.

Mrs. Ben-Eliezar mentions that she had a daughter named Meira who, like all good Jews in Ellanjay's world, stopped being Jewish and became a Christian. As soon as she says her daughter disappeared, Mr. Stein leaps all over this saying, "I know what happened to your daughter and you can see her again, but only if you do exactly what TurboJesus wants." Well, okay he leaves off the last part, but yet another lesson you can take from these novels: Emotional Blackmail is A-Okay to use in order to convert someone.

But then for some reason we cut to Vicki. [TANGENT] Y'know more and more I'm starting to think that bad books are just as good or maybe even better at teaching you the craft than good books. Because I've not gotten very far in this chapter and already I can point out so many flaws and say, "Hell yeah, am I doing better than this!" Not to mention, it gives me hope. If something this bad saw the light of day, maybe there's a market for my Young Adult novel in progress. [/TANGENT]

Manny and Hector talk. Hector, being a hardened reprobate, is scoffing about all those people resisting the Mark being like, "It's just a little tattoo." Manny naturally tries to convert him but Hector rolls his eyes. That's all that happens. Why did Ellanjay interrupt the previous section to bring us this interlude which goes nowhere and does nothing? Do they think if we don't get a Vicki section in every chapter we'll forget she exists?

Lionel and Westin are heading to Petra. Z-Van appears, chews them out, but gives them the idea to use Z-Van's plane to transport pilgrims to Masada.

We finally cut back to Judd who's with Mr. Stein as he tries to convert those heathen Jews. Mr. Stein keeps up the emotional blackmail going, "If you accept Christ, you'll see your daughter again." But Rabbi Ben-Eliezar is having none of it. He's all "You expect us to believe all this?!"

But Mr. Stein has a weapon up his sleeve: Revelation 12. I'm going to post the entire chapter so we can all get a look at it and see just how badly Ellanjay fails.

12 A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. 3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. 4 Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. 5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.”[a] And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. 6 The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.

7 Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:


“Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.

11
They triumphed over him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.

12
Therefore rejoice, you heavens
and you who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
because the devil has gone down to you!
He is filled with fury,
because he knows that his time is short.”

13 When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. 15 Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. 16 But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.

We've already heard Ellanjay's interpretation of the woman given wings of an eagle verse. If you're wondering their interpretation is that all the RTCs will flee to Petra in light aircraft and be safe there. As for the river the dragon spews from its mouth, well, their interpretation needs to be seen to be believed:

“It says the dragon will try to drown Israel with a flood that comes from the dragon’s mouth. Dr. Ben-Judah believes this flood refers to the Antichrist’s army.”
“Oh dear,” Mrs. Ben-Eliezar said.
“But the Scripture goes on to say that the earth will help Israel by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that gushes from the dragon’s mouth.”

To quote Fred, this is what Ellanjay mean by straightforward reading of scripture. How they get "river from dragon's mouth" to mean "army of soldiers" I don't know. Me, I'm just disappointed that it doesn't involve Nicky trying to kill everyone with his drool.

Chang calls and tells Judd that Nicky killed Loren Hut and is planning on shooting down all the craft flying for Petra.

“Carpathia wants to wipe out the Orthodox Jews and the Judah-ites wherever they are.”
“Then everybody needs to head to Petra,” Judd said.
Mr. Stein asked what was happening and Judd held up a hand.
“Carpathia says Petra is just as defenseless against their weapons as Masada,” Chang said. “Judd, if God doesn’t do something miraculous, you guys could all die out there tonight.”

Yeah, I know they're trying desperately to build some sort of suspense. Well guess what, it fails miserably given that they've already mentioned in a previous chapter that the RTCs will be safe at Petra for three years and it mentions IN THIS CHAPTER that the earth will swallow Nicky's army. So why are they worried? Also, did editors even look at this book or do they just red-stamp them into printing?

Next chapter begins with Vicki eating. Again, given that nothing happens on her side, I don't get why Ellanjay keep cutting to her. Didn't Hitchcock say that "drama is life with the boring stuff cut out of it." Clearly Ellanjay don't know that.

Anyway, there's a lot of talking which amounts to nothing. Vicki still wonders what to do about Claudia and Manny introduces them to his sister, Anita.

Lionel's section is basically techno-porn with them talking about GPS and navigating. I'd have a modicum of respect for their techno-porn but given how badly they failed to predict future trends like cell phones and internet porn becoming widespread, yeah. Word of advice, guys: to paraphrase someone I've forgotten, good sci-fi sees not only the car, but also the traffic jam. Ellanjay fail to see either.

In Judd's section, Mr. Stein is still trying to do his damnedest to convince those Jewishy Jews to abandon millennia of teachings and convert! But the Rabbi is being stiff-necked and refusing to bite. Again, that's what Jews do. They either stubbornly refuse to convert despite canned arguments or they kill you if you do.

Judd thinks a little about Vicki and even when they have him doing a little reflecting, I still hate Judd.

Manny decides to stay and try to convert the gangs to RTCianity. Vicki and Mark decide to go after Claudia. They check into a hotel*, allowing the clerk to list all the amenities, and I'm bored to death with the whole thing so that's where I'll end the snark. Sorry if it seems like I was too angry and not funny enough but buttons were pushed.

*So they allow Vick to check into a hotel room with a guy she isn't married to?! That sound you hear is Irene Steele having the vapors. Seriously, they do mention each room having two double beds, but I'm still surprised they went through with this given how rigidly puritanical Ellanjay and their ilk tend to be.