Sunday, September 26, 2010

Judd Thompson as Norman Bates

So Vicki arrives at Judd's home and we get a little hint that at least she's not a virginal white as snow RTC like Chloe, with this little passage:

When was the last time she had been alone with a teenage boy without winding up drinking, smoking, doing dope, or worse?

That last part, the "or worse?" leaves us perverts plenty of room for speculation,oh yes it does, but it doesn't tell us much. In a world where young adult literature is addressing serious topics such sex and drugs, Ellanjay is a throwback to the fifties where these things still went on but no one talked about it.

Anyway, they talk and talk, carrying on long conversations in that Brenda Starr dialogue fashion, and Vicki mentions needing new clothes and Judd offers to let her borrow his mother's clothes and all I can here in my head is that orchestra sting from Psycho. If a recently orphaned boy starts trying to get you to wear his mother's clothes, that's a sign you should run. But I suppose this could mark the first step in Vicki's Stepfordization.

I had been picturing Judd as Rhett Van Der Graaf from King of the Hill (aka the guy Luanne dated in the episode she revirginized), but now I've got to picture him as Norman Bates.

Judd was talking about his mother as if she were dead. It seemed to Vicki his voice was about to break.
"I can see why you were proud of her," Vicki said. "If she has a lot of clothes like this, I'd be honoured to wear them. Remember Judd, she's not dead. If everything we believe is true, and we both know it is, she's in heaven."

Which means she's dead! She's passed on! She's ceased to be! She's expired and gone to meet her maker! She's a stiff! Bereft of Life, she rests. She's shuffled off this mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleeding choir invisible! This is an ex-RTC!

Sorry about the Monty Python ripoff but really meeting your maker means the same thing regardless of whether or not there's a body involved.

Anyway back to everyone's favourite static duel, Lionel and Ryan. Well, basically not much is happening except that Lionel picks on Ryan for not helping him, even though a twelve-year-old wouldn't be much help against the guys in the first place, and goads Ryan into going back to Lionel's house and getting his bike. :beats head against desk: No more transportation logistics. Mommy make the bad men stop!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Lionel: Multiple Contender for the Darwin Award

So Lionel heads home to confront the looters at his house. In the real world, this would qualify him for a Darwin Award because crazed looters plus unarmed thirteen-year-old boy...I don't think you need to do the math, here.

But it turns out that his Uncle Andre owes powerful people money and said people have decided to crash at Lionel's house as part of the payment. Lionel naturally decides the best thing to do at a time like this is smart off at these people. The only reason he doesn't end up dead because of it is because of divine writ of Ellanjay's protection.

What follows is Jenkins's painful attempts at tough-sounding dialogue, most of it done in the style of what Turkey City Lexicon calls Brenda Starr dialogue. We get no indications of what any of the thugs look like; they might as well be talking cardboard cutouts for all we know. But we do get this bit of brilliance, after Lionel threatens to call the police.

"You think the police have time to worry about you right now? We could kill you and bury you and leave a pile of your clothes on a chair, and they'd believe you were one of those people who disappeared. Trust me boy, you're better off with a place to stay. We'll even let you eat, maybe teach you the business."

Unlike the adult books, at least we get some indication that the police are hamstrung and too busy to investigate every single disappearance, so basically, if you ever wanted to permanently settle a grudge with someone, the aftermath of the rapture is the time to do it. Kill someone, stack their clothes, and hide their body. The police will be too busy to bother checking into every disappearance because they're preoccupied with the suspicious disappearances of every child on earth. So I have to give Ellanjay kudos for remembering this for the children's book, but boo them for forgetting it in the adult books. Remember how they went for the old faked suicide canard with Dirk Burton?

After that conversation, Lionel finally shows some sense and hightails it out of there. Meanwhile, Vicki is standing in front of the burned remains of her house and we get a good bit of writing here. Well, maybe good is too strong of a word. Adequete would work better.

But now, as she stood in the cool of the morning, staring at the slowly rising smoke and smelling the acrid fumes, she was overcome with a longing for that little trailer house. She remembered how it looked, how it smelled, how it creaked when she walked through it. She had even learned where to step to keep from making noise when she tried to sneak in after curfew.

I have to give Ellanjay kudos here, especially for the last line. It would have been nice to go further, maybe talk about the little tacky knicknacks her mom collected or her sister's Barbies, or her favourite strapless bra, now forever lost, but I'll take what I can get. I think I'm developing Stockholm's Syndrome thanks to this book.

So Judd offers to take her in and in the conversation, all I can think about is that guy Luanne Platter on King of the Hill dated in the episode she revirginized, who was so desperately horny that she agreed to marry him just so they could have sex. You can't honestly expect me to believe that Judd is being nice to her out of the kindness of his heart. Especially with dialogue like this:

"I'm what God will use to take care of you. You're a Christian now, and he's going to watch over you and make sure you're taken care of. He's going to use me to do that."
"So you're God's guy now, his right hand man?"
"You could say that."
"So, where are we going?"
"To my house."
"Just let me do this, Vicki. I really think God wants me to, and I'll feel like I'm letting him down if I don't."

That's not all he'll be letting down if he doesn't :eyebrow waggle: But seriously, read that dialogue and tell me it doesn't reek of a teenage boy desperate to get laid.

There's a short section about Ryan but not much happens on his end. He sees Lionel running away and decides to run away too. I'm serious, that's all that happens.

And I'll leave you till next week.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

They're Not Dead, Really

Another boring chapter I'm afraid. This one's only moderately boring compared to the last two, much in the way a kick in the gut is moderately painful compared to a kick in the teeth. I'm starting to think this is payback for giving Ellanjay kudos.

Lionel tried to pray. When he had been a phony, a kid in a Christian family who pretended to be like everyone else in the clan, it never surprised him that God seemed distant. He couldn't remember when God had seemed close. He knew that was because he had never become a true Christian, and that was also why he had been left behind.

Once again, we get the delineation between phonies and RTCs. Yet a few questions remain: if his mother Lucinda and the rest of his family were such good Christians, how come none of them could figure it out? What does it mean to be good when apparently anyone can fake it? Also, if being a RTC means saying The Prayer and accepting Scofield-Darby's interpretation of the Bible, does that mean the millions of Christians before Scofield and Darby are in Hell?

But his grief over the loss of his parents--though they were in heaven and not dead--and his horror over what had happened to his Uncle Andre, plus the sheer exhaustion of trying to figure out what to do next, had caught up with him.

Once again, the delineation between dead and raptured though there really isn't much of a difference. Usually when we say someone's with God, it means the same thing regardless of the circumstances. Gone is gone.

It was no wonder Ryan seemed angry,even angry with God. If all of what had happened was true, the way Bruce Barnes explained it--and Lionel knew it was--Ryan had to be drowning in confusion. What must he think of a God who would allow his parents to die and leave him behind while Christians disappeared into heaven?

This is the only flicker of rebellious thought we see from Lionel. Watching it is like watching a crushed insect struggle to regain its footing.

He knew it was hopeless to pray about something that had already happened, but he couldn't help pleading with God to assure him that maybe, just maybe, Andre had come to Christ before he was murdered or committted suicide. He even prayed the same thing for Ryan's parents.

Because if none of the people mentioned said The Prayer, they are roasting in Hell. I tried to find out more information about Ryan's parents at wikipedia but all the website would say is that they were "confirmed unbelievers" as if that perfectly justifies torturing them for all eternity.

But Lionel spots looters at his home and tries to get Ryan to help him, but Ryan refuses and I can't blame him. I mean, the kid's twelve; he's not Superman. What does Lionel expect him to be able to do against a bunch of looters? Just for the fun of it, I'm going to assume that these looters are a bunch of Jimmy Bats's goons.

Back to Judd and Vicki, they're heading back from the airport to Vicki's trailer park when they run into a little trouble.

One of the black leather-clad men stepped in front of Judd's car and slammed both palms on the hood. "Where do you think you're goin', boy!"

For a brief moment, I cheer because I start to think maybe we're going to have a cool Mad Max kind of apocalypse but that is quickly squelched.

Anyway, it turns out Vicki's trailer has burned to the ground and Judd demonstrates what a caring compassionate human being he is with this line:

At least, Judd thought, she knows the truth now.

And I'll leave y'all to point out the number of things wrong with that line.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

It's so Boring

It's so boring

I don't know if any of y'all are Nostalgia Critic fans but I had to post a link to his Boring Song because this book is so damn boring. It has less action than a nursing home. I'm dead serious here; never have I so longed for the screwed up sexual politics of the grown-up books: at least it would give me something to talk about, but I'll try to do what I can.

Anyway, Lionel apparently is the only one concerned about Ryan so he goes after him and we do get this brief acknowledgement regarding the fate of Ryan's parents.

"How do you know how I feel?" Ryan blurted. "Your family's in heaven. For all I know, my parents aren't just dead, they're in hell."

Which is where they'll be for all eternity, suffering without end because God can't apply the brakes. I know I say that a lot but some things need to be repeated again and again lest we forget.

I keep thinking about how my favourite heroes would handle this. Batman and Superman would respond by calling up the league and the various other god-like beings they have on their rolodex, and together they would mount a massive war against the heavens. In fact, that's about the only sane course of action for anyone in response to such events. And again, I am still accepting fanfiction if anyone wants to write it.

Basically what happens in this chapter is Ryan and Lionel set up a tent in Ryan's backyard because Ryan can't bear to sleep inside his own house, the police tell Lionel that his uncle is dead, and I'm bored to death with the whole thing. Let's see if the next chapter's any better.

[reads ahead]

9 pages of Judd and Vicki trying to move Judd's car out of the parking garage?! 9 pages devoted to Ellanjay's hard-on for transportation! 9 perfectly innocent pieces of paper that could have been used for so much better purposes such as wrapping marijuana cigarettes or writing hare-brained manifestos or something!


That's it. For now, I give up. Maybe next week I'll have renewed my strength enough to give these books the snarking they deserve, but right now, it's just so boring.