Thursday, December 27, 2012

Running out of Ways to Alleviate my Boredom

Sorry, sorry. I know I need to get on a more regular posting schedule but I'm going to be visiting relatives tomorrow through the weekend, so I thought I might as well post today. Also, I tried to set up a RSS thing for my page but I'm not sure what RSS is or if I succeeded. Let me know if there are some things I need to do to fix it or whatever.

So as said before last week, the American branch of the YTF are at a bowling alley (where a group of believers meet) and now it's surrounded as the GC are about to make their move. Nothing really happens except people cry and the pastor says to trust in God.

Meanwhile, in Israel, Judd is not happy to see Nada. He explains that they're only cleared to have three people arrive in New Babylon and that if four do, they'll be in trouble. That actually seems like a legit security issue, especially in the post- 9/11 era. The section ends with Nada saying that she can't go home and that she's run away. I wonder if this has something to do with her father's insufficient amount of YTF ass-kissing, though I thought he'd sipped the Flavor-Aid and realized the superiority of Judd.

Back to America...I know my faithful readers, having seen Ellanjay blow away so many suspenseful opportunities before, are waiting with bated breath to see just how they squander it this time. Basically the section is short but it consists of Vicki opening the back door so Pete can back up his truck and open up the back so people can get in. He says that GC transport vehicles are on the way so they have to hurry and that's where the section ends.

Wait a minute...what the hell, Ellanjay?! I thought you said earlier that the bowling alley was surrounded with GC vehicles; now they're on their way. Did I, in a desperate hope for suspense, misread the books (a likely possibility given how bored I am) or is this a big honking continuity error?

In the plane, Judd is like "You can't run away from home?" but Nada is adamant about going with them. We also find out that while her father does like Judd, he doesn't want her to pursue a relationship with him. Judd tells her to call her parents but Nada refuses saying that they would just make her come home. She also chews out Judd for refusing to stand up to her father, but Judd says that when he sees how much he cares for her, Jamal will change his mind.

Basically all that happens in the next section is they load the truck and Vicki takes a recording device (used to record meetings) from a woman and set it up so that it plays a recording of an old meeting, so that the GC think they're still in there. I don't see why Ellanjay keep having us switch back and forth between locales so much. Why not do a chapter on the plane and a chapter in America rather than a few paragraphs here and a few paragraphs elsewhere? Does Ellanjay think that kids suffer from severe memory defects and wouldn't be able to hold onto details throughout a chapter?

Judd explains the situation about Nada to Mac, who manages to come up with a cover story for why she is here. The story is, she is a family member coming to pay respect for her brother (who was lost in the Wrath of the Lamb quake for those of you wondering). Apparently they're being hosted in the main complex in New Babylon as opposed to a hotel on the outer fringes or something more sensible like that.

The next section, Pete is driving around with all the people in back of the vehicle. He plays it cool, managing to deal with the first GC peacekeeper's questions, but the section ends with them hearing a siren just as they approach the ramp for the highway.

Next chapter, Pete has been pulled over and it's a fairly decent scene, except that what little tension there is, is diluted by the fact that we know nothing is going to come of it, just like nothing came of every other run-in with the GC. I have a hard time believing that the GC could conquer a group of seven-year-olds, let alone the world. What happens is that Vicki unzips their protective suits, causing the demon locusts (remember those?) to swarm all over them, thus enabling Pete to escape. So I guess when, back at the bowling alley, the people there kept talking about how God would protect them, they meant Vicki because she's the one who actually enabled them to escape.

Meanwhile, the plane is flying into New Babylon. Nada gets back from calling her parents. She's in tears as she explains that her father chewed her out for playing what he calls "love games" which sounds like a fatherly thing to do. I would be pretty pissed off if my teenage daughter stowed away on a plane so she could chase after a boy she likes and that's overlooking the fact that they're going right to the anti-Christ's headquarters.

Mac talks about how Nicky's going to issue the mark of the beast soon enough. He warns them to be careful not to let people know they're believers. Nada objects, saying, “Just keep quiet and let them go to hell?” This is essentially Ellanjay's theology because remember Ellanjay believes that the truth must be a carefully guarded secret, accessible only to an elite few. Remember how Bruce "Useless" Barnes bravely refused to reveal the identity of the anti-Christ to the other members of his congregation?

Pete's barrelling down the road in his truck when he hears, through a radio he stole off of one of the downed GC agents, that they're coming for him. He takes an exit and the dazed passengers get out of his truck and make plans to go hide in the caves.

There's really not much to talk about when it comes to the ending of the chapter. Basically the kids are walking around New Babylon and Lionel shakes his head after Nada flirts with Judd. I don't know why but in an effort to end my crushing boredom, I'm going to assume Ho Yay, just because it's more fun that way.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Not Very Snarkworthy

Can't help but notice a shrinkage in comments. Guess that's because nothing really snarkworthy has happened. While I cherish each instance of good writing in this book, it's also really boring to snark. Oh well, maybe this week will be different.

First section is in America and it's really dull actually. All it is, is a lot of summarizing so I'll just sum it up for you. They convert people, fix stuff, show them Token Jew's website, then move on.

In Israel, Judd tells Lionel about Pavel's plan to sneak him into New Babylon, but the conversation inevitably turns to Nada. Lionel's basically like "Dude, just tell her you're not interested," but Judd surprises me by saying, "“My problem isn’t telling her I’m not interested. If that were true I could do it. The problem is, I am interested.”

Wow...I must say this is kind of a drama-free announcement seeing as I've read the wiki page and know that he and Vicki eventually end up together, but I must applaud them making some effort to introduce dramatic tension about who Judd's going to end up with.

Basically, Judd's plan is to go to New Babylon and maybe work out his feelings towards Nada.

In America, the YTF receives a coded message from Carl saying that the GC is headed to South Carolina (where Tom and Luke are), but also Johnson City, Tennessee, and Baltimore, Maryland. He goes onto say that they are specifically targeting a believer named Chris Traickin. Apparently Traickin is not only a believer but also a former senator and he's been trying to stir up other believers in order to start a new government, which is more than the so-called Tribulation Force has done.

In Israel, Judd and Nada talk. Judd is diplomatic towards Nada saying that he wants to use this trip to sort out his feelings towards her. Nada still has feelings for him, but understands why he feels the need to leave. The section really isn't that snarkable though it ends with Judd kissing Nada on the cheek and Nada whispering, "I love you," in his ear.

The chapter ends with Vicki asking how long until they get to Johnson City. The answer is an hour if you're wondering.

Next chapter, the YTF arrive at a diner in Johnson City and they meet up with the cook, Roger Cornwell, who, like all good people, has the Zod-mark. He tells them that he saw the GC coming into his town and thinks they might be headed to the bowling alley across town because that's where his group meets. So the YTF are working to try to warn the believers before the GC get there.

In Israel, Judd, Lionel, and Sam are about to leave. Mac McCullum (gotta love Ellanjay's names) meets up with them. We hear that apparently St. Rayford decided to bolt during the Meeting of the Witnesses because he figured it was only a matter of time before Nicky Kilmanjaro had him killed. He managed to fly Token Jew and Chloe home, but Our Buck is still stuck in Israel. Mac is wondering if it isn't high time he quit as well, considering that Nicky passed a law requiring people to bow in his presence. Oh and apparently Pavel is dying. I'm sure you're all just heartbroken at the news.

Nothing happens in the next America section except that Vicki and the others race to try to get to the bowling alley. Now to Israel.

Mac tells them that Nicky and Leon are also plotting against the SuperPope. I wish I could say for certain why, but as I recall the SuperPope had been getting a swelled head so this seems standard operating evil overlord protocol.

Vicki races to the meeting and tells the believers that the GC is onto them. Surprisingly, the believers are rather dismissive of her and her warning. This is surprising since you'd think that now that Christians are Teh!Persecuted! they wouldn't be so shocked that the GC might come for them and would have planned on it. But they do eventually listen to Vicki and decide to let the Lord show them what to do.

Meanwhile, Judd is shocked to find that Nada has decided to tag along with them.

The chapter ends with Vicki realizing they're surrounded on all sides. I think it's safe to say that absolutely nothing will come of any of this.

Hmmm...this writing was neither good nor snarkworthy. I despair.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Brief Bit of Good Writing

Okay so Pete and Vicki, along with Carl, Shelly, and Conrad are all riding south in Pete's truck, which, for those curious, means that the only ones currently at the school are Melinda, Charlie, and Janie, aka the unbelievers, and Lenore and baby Tolan. I admit I had no real reason for pointing all that out except to better keep track of who's where.

Like I said I had considered last week doing a three-fer snark but when I read ahead, I changed my mind. The reason I changed my mind is because we actually get some good writing here. I'm assuming this is all the ghostwriter's, Chris Fabry, doing because I can't imagine anything good coming from Ellanjay. I took the liberty of looking Chris Fabry up on Amazon and apparently he has a long list of titles attributed to him. I don't know if he was a ghostwriter on all of them, but I'm almost curious enough to check out some of his titles, even though I find most Christian fiction to be horribly derivative, just because his simple workmanlike talent almost makes parts of this novel worth reading.

Anyway, the trip causes Vicki to start thinking about a trip, she took with her family. Now those who read the post entitled "Meet Vicki Byrne" will recall that before her parents became Assholes for Christ good RTCs, they were drunk rednecks. Fabry sticks with that aspect of the background, yet manages to add some shading to their characters and we get a sense that even before they became RTCs, they did love and care about their kids even if they weren't going to win parents of the year. It is rare to see these kinds of shades of grey in Ellanjay's work, which is why I attribute all of it to the ghostwriter.

Basically, Vicki's parents borrowed an RV and took her and her sister on a long road trip to see the ocean. The trip ends up going south and they run out of money quick, but before they do go back home, Vicki's father goes out of his way in order to drive them by the beach so they can see the ocean. I really wish I could just post all of this so I can show you just how decent the writing is, but I'm trying to keep the long-ass quotes down to a minimum. Still, it is a decent description of Vicki and her sister playing along the beach and it's nice, these moments in the story when the writers ease up on the narrative gas and let the characters reflect for a moment. I will post a small sample so you can see what I've been gushing on and on about. Sorry to gush so much, but these moments of good writing are so rare that I find myself greedily treasuring each instance.

It had been such a long time since Vicki had remembered her father’s smile. The events since the disappearances had kept her so busy she didn’t think much about the past. But now, with the rumble of the diesel engine and the shaking of the truck cab, she let herself go back. She remembered little things like her dad’s stale-beer breath, the brand of cigarettes he smoked, and little Jeanni’s screams as Vicki chased her around the house. She remembered the laundry her mother used to hang on a line by the trailer. Seeing one of her shirts or a pair of pants flapping in the breeze had always embarrassed Vicki.

Pete's truck takes them by the ocean and Vicki asks if they can stop by the ocean for a bit. They do and we get more good description of the scenery. Now my inner critic is sarcastically saying, "Uh, hasn't Wormwood poisoned all the water by now so they probably really shouldn't be playing in the surf," but while I will concede my inner critic's point, again this is nice writing. Besides, eventually Ellanjay will regain consciousness and the writing will take on its usual suckitude so I should just enjoy these moments.

The chapter ends with them meeting a pair of believers, Tom Gowin and Luke, and they warn them that the GC's on to them so they better disappear.

Next chapter, we're back to Israel, which I assume means we're back to more of the bad writing I've come to expect from Ellanjay. Basically, Judd is browsing the YTF website, which is, if you're wondering, and he receives an email from Pavel, aka another character you've long since forgot about. Nada is with Judd and once again, she flirts with him, but Judd isn't interested in her.

So Judd and Pavel talk about how Pavel's father is now a Tribulation Saint. Apparently, the SuperPope and the ten kings were all bit by the demon locusts and Nicky Bonanza is planning on doing a speech with a CGI-ed locust sitting on his shoulder in an attempt to convince the people that these locusts can be tamed. Also, the Brave RTCs bravely packed tracts and pamphlets in with relief supplies, so as to spread the word or some brave martyriffic stuff like that. The Israel section ends with Pavel asking Judd to come visit him in New Babylon.

Then we cut back to America and lordy lord, is it boring. Basically they meet up with some kids and Vicki starts the conversion speech, which I'm sure we'll see more of in the next chapter. Naturally it begins with the spiel about Zod trying to get your attention by killing you horribly. Since this snark is long enough, I'll spare you.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Not Much to Look At, Not Much to Say

Happy Friday everyone!

Okay, as stated in a previous post, Pete wants Vicki to go south with him so she can instruct others on the Bible. They also talk about putting together a website, which naturally they'll link to Token Jew's website. How they're going to do this since Nicky Alps announced that he'll arrest anyone who goes to Token Jew's website, I don't know.

There's really not much to say about this first section, though there is this little bit about how they're going to find all the believers.

“That’s where Carl comes in,” Pete said. “We let the GC ferret out the believers and before they can arrest them, we tip the believers off and give some teaching.”
“Won’t the GC figure out there’s somebody working on the inside?” Conrad said.
“Maybe,” Pete said. “Carl will have to be careful.”

My response: Wasn't the whole point of this trip so as to teach others about the Bible? Why would they need to ferret out believers? Wouldn't they just be preaching to the choir? Not to mention, ugh, another double agent plotline...getting sick of Ellanjay's obsession with that plot line mostly because they never put it to any good use. There's so much dramatic tension that could be milked from it, but seeing as Suspense and Tension ran over their dog when they were a kid, Ellanjay strangle it before it can ever be born.

Anyway, in Israel, Judd and Lionel research locust stings and create a household mixture that looks like real stings and put it on themselves. There's mention of an email from Vicki asking Judd for permission to go with Pete, proof that Vicki's becoming a proper lady against women RTC woman in that she's asking Judd for permission to go somewhere, when Judd has never asked her for permission to go off into the desert or do anything for that matter. Judd encourages her to go and we're back in America.

Well I'll be...We actually get mention of Butt Monkey aka Ryan. I thought once he was dead and buried we'd never hear about him again, but we actually do. Basically Darrion talks about how Ryan showed her the light. It's not really that snarkable, though this part is interesting.

“I thought God was a force in the universe,” Darrion said. “I’d meditate and try to work myself into a spiritual state. That was empty. Ryan said God was a person, and when he prayed, he prayed to somebody who cares. That’s part of what turned me around and got me thinking that Ryan was right.”

As I recall, Darrion was a follower of the EBOWF aka Nicky Cardamon's vaguely defined faith. Only a few faiths would define God the way Darrion just did, but then again, remember in Ellanjayland, other faiths don't have their own ideas about God; they just hate Jesus. So I suppose, according to Ellanjay, they'd latch onto anything that'd give them an excuse to keep hating Jesus.

Now we're in Israel again. Judd and Lionel and Sam are at the hospital. Judd has apparently bowed to Lionel's wishes and agrees that he was wrong to do something to Deputy Woodruff and promises not to try anything again. They draw straws to see who gets to go in and who has to stay with the getaway vehicle. Judd draws the short one, leaving Lionel to stay with the vehicle. Surprise, surprise, the mini-Rayford gets to do the important job of trying to convert the heathens.

Apparently the GC have put up an electric shield to zap any locusts that try to get through. Didn't think that demon locusts could be taken out with electricity, but gotta hand it to the GC for thinking of it.

So Sam is there to see his daddy and tries to convince him of the truth. Naturally when told of this, Daddy Goldberg gives the same response that every other non-believer gives: "And this is evidence of God's love how?" Of course, even though we're like twenty books into the series, Ellanjay still don't have a good response to the question. Sam just goes "You need to convert," Daddy Goldberg refuses, but Deputy Woodruff sees them and triggers an alarm. That's where the chapter ends.

So the alarm has been sounded and Sam and Judd are running for their lives. Luckily a GC nurse, who, like all good people in this series, has the Zod-mark, tells them where they can leave. Sam and Judd find themselves in the laundry room and I roll my eyes as Judd tells Sam to tie some sheets together. Really the old knotted bed sheet escape? Are there any cliches left unused in this story?

I'll give you the short version since there's really not much snarkable material: Sam and Judd climb down the laundry chute and escape.

In America, Vicki makes preparations to leave. Also, apparently Mark used some Super Special Awesome program that turns their emails into a code that the GC can't crack. I roll my eyes.

I thought about doing a three-fer snark, but I've looked at the next chapter and there appears to be a decent amount of material there, so I think I'll leave you with what I've got thus far.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Apparently Pacifism isn't Evil?!

Nothing really happens much at the beginning of the chapter. Pete shows up, the others debate whether it's safe to accept Carl (they do decide to accept him), and they unload stuff from the truck.

In Israel, Sam tells Judd that he wants to go see his father and Lionel has a talk with Judd about the stunt he pulled with Deputy Woodruff. Apparently he objects to it, which kind of confuses me. I'm wondering though if it's primarily because in that situation, Judd actually did something as opposed to nothing and remember doing nothing is the primary function of RTCs in the Ellanjay universe.

“It seemed like you enjoyed sending that locust after him back at Jamal’s apartment. Am I reading it wrong?”
Judd looked away. “I was on the phone when that guy killed Taylor and Hasina. And then he lied—”
“I’m just as ticked off about what he did as you,” Lionel interrupted. “Woodruff is a GC scumbag. But you looked like you were doing more than saving Jamal and his family. It looked like you were trying to get even.”

Now I'm really confused. After all, isn't the whole point of this series is bad things happen to heathens who dared to mock God's Own Prophet non-RTCs while RTCs just chuckle about it? Lionel's newfound concern for his fellow man is kind of confusing.

Judd shook his head. “I haven’t told anybody this, but I’ve thought about it a lot. When I heard what Woodruff did, I made a promise to Taylor and Hasina. If I ever had the chance, I’d try to get that guy back. It wasn’t until I heard Woodruff’s voice without seeing his face that it all came together.”
Lionel ran a hand through his hair. “I don’t believe this.”
“Maybe I’m wrong for thinking this way,” Judd said, “but maybe I’m right. A lot of believers might be spared if he’s taken out.”
“And what about the ‘vengeance is mine says the Lord’ stuff? Don’t you see? This is the same thing you stopped Taylor Graham from doing when he wanted to shoot Nicolae at the stadium. You’re going to get yourself and a lot of other believers in trouble if you try to kill him. And you’re going to have to answer to God.”
“What do you mean?”
“Ever heard of ‘Thou shalt not kill’? I think it’s still in effect.”

So apparently RTCs are pacifists. That's something new given Ellanjay's suspicions of pacifists. After all, haven't they continually demonstrated that pacifism is code for "secretly wants to rule over humanity with an iron fist?" Also, don't the Tribbles eventually form a militia of their own? So if they really take such a stringent interpretation of "Thou Shalt Not Kill," it's news to me. I could also mention that the people who share Ellanjay's politics are usually enthusiastically pro-war and pro-death penalty, but I don't know if I want this to turn into a nasty debate in the comments section, though given that I just brought it up, it will.

My theory: Lionel feels emasculated because Judd actually did something and is trying to cut him down to size.

They find out that the Deputy and Daddy Goldberg have been taken to a hospital and then it cuts back to the American YTF.

Vicki decides to give the newly minted RTCs an overview of the Christian faith and I'm sure this overview, which is being given by a teenage girl, I'm sure it'll be a thorough lesson and not just a nitpicking of a few selected verses. Anyway, Vicki starts with Genesis and the garden and does the whole fall-of-man spiel and according to the book, talks about "Noah, Joseph, Moses, David, Daniel, and many of the prophets." That's all that's said so we don't know if Vicki brought up the part of the bible where Noah is passed out naked and drunk in the vineyard or David commits adultery with Bathsheba (Ellanjay probably think that David's adultery is her fault, the nasty little whore), but before long, Vicki is preaching on Isaiah. Isaiah is one of my favorite prophets and oh, how it pains me to see his words being used to prop up Ellanjay's horrible theology.

She pointed out Isaiah 9: “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. And the government will rest on his shoulders. These will be his royal titles: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His ever expanding, peaceful government will never end. He will rule forever with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David.”
“Do you know who that’s talking about?” Vicki said.
“It sounds like a baby,” Carl said, “but then it sounds like God.”

I can't be the only one hearing Handel as that verse is read, can I? Also how does that sound like an illegitimate child born to a impoverished Palestinian Jew and her carpenter husband? I like those verses but they really don't line up with what we know about Jesus's birth. Jesus was born into poverty and filth, not glory.

And of course, Vicki reads from Isaiah 53, which aunursa calls "That one chapter the Jews can't figure out" in a previous comment as a way of mocking how Ellanjay apparently believe that Jews don't have their own teachings and writings to debate; they just spend all their time denying that Jesus is the messiah. I won't try to argue the Jewish view of this chapter; being a gentile, I'm not well-versed in Jewish teachings and don't wanna unintentionally insult Jewish readers. I'll just say that Isaiah 53 does better describe Jesus's ignoble death, which makes it easy to see why Jewish Christians might have, when writing the gospels, conflated his death with that chapter.

Remember, Jesus's followers had experienced their equivalent of 9/11; the man they'd given up everything to follow had died a criminal's death on the cross. Is it not possible that they dug deep into the teachings they'd been raised in, in order to find proof that in their eyes, Jesus had overcome death?

She showed Carl verses that clearly taught about the nature of God. He was one spirit, but three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. She pointed out the depths of God’s mercy and love for people, but also that God was holy and required perfection.

Nice oxymoron. It says she should Carl verses that clearly taught about the nature of God, then she brings up the trinity, aka that doctrine which has stymied just about everyone who has tried to explain it.

Eventually the discussion ends and the chapter ends with Pete asking Vicki if she'd be willing to go south with him.

Though I did only one chapter, I think I'll leave you for this week.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Now with more Bitterness and Sarcasm!

When we last left our brave hero, he had just found Jamal and his family tied up and they're currently being questioned by GC Deputy Commander Woodruff and experience tells me that Ellanjay will take advantage of a situation that lends itself to tension and milk said tension for all its worth and won't let it peter out into nothingness like so many other situations.

In case you're new to this blog or suffering from massive head trauma that was sarcasm. Given Judd's status as mini-Rayford, there's no way anything serious could ever happen to him. The world may be coming to an end, but Judd will walk away with nary a scratch.

Judd, being the tactical genius that he is, decides the smart thing to do is confront the Deputy, saying this:

Judd took a step into the room. “I was on the phone when you killed my friends Taylor and Hasina. You said they resisted arrest and you were forced to kill them. You lied.”

Since when were Taylor and Hasina aka the Power Couple of Awesomeness, friends of Judd's? Didn't he spend all his time trying to convert them and rolling his eyes when they refused to take the bait?

Naturally, the deputy, rather than doing the smart thing and just shooting Judd where he stands, gets into an argument with him even though, hello, he's the man with the gun. He should be dictating how things go. This is like all these Mary Sue fics in which the Sue, who is supposed to be considered witty but really comes across as a petulant bitch, smarts off to a character and the character, rather than rolling his/her eyes or tearing the Sue a new one, reacts with either stunned silence or starts sputtering. But then again, as Fred has already pointed out, the Left Behind series is basically Mary Sue fiction for Ellanjay.

So Judd says, "Walk out of here and leave my friends alone," which would be badass except that he's Judd and not Liam Neeson, so the Deputy's response should be to say "No" and shoot him. No wait, he should shoot Judd then say "No."

Naturally the Deputy calls him on his bullshit, but rather than shooting him, he gives Judd enough time to release one of the demon locusts on him. Judd unties Jamal and his family while the deputy writhes in pain and I shout, "See this is why you should have shot him while you had the chance!" This series would be much improved if anyone involved had read the Evil Overlord list but to be fair, given that this series has to follow the template as laid out by God's Own Prophet, Tim LaHaye, we probably can't afford to actually have smart villains who pose a threat to the playable characters.

In America, Vicki and Lenore are taking care of Melinda and Janie and bravely watching the news as they tell us what we already saw happen: demon locusts stinging people. So yeah, nothing happens.

Meanwhile Carl and Mark are outside Chicago. Mark is demonstrating a rare level of intelligence in that he's reluctant to take Carl back to the hideout, even though Carl said The Prayer and he has the Zod-mark. Z tells him that means Carl's okay and talks about how with the gold coins, he was able to buy and deliver food and supplies to RTCs around the country. He mentions Pete coming to deliver them and that's it on this section.

Judd and Jamal regroup and head towards Hat Dude's (aka another character whom you've forgotten about) house. Naturally, Jamal has stopped being all inscrutable and foreign and now kisses Judd's ass like everyone else in this series, thus losing the few cool points he had.

Mark and Carl meet up with Pete. They talk about delivering supplies and Pete offers to drop them by the schoolhouse.

Chapter two, apparently Lionel's haunted by all the people he saw being tormented by the demon locusts. I could go into a rant about how he shouldn't be kowtowing to the person who sent them, but it is so rare for a character to demonstrate basic compassion for their fellow man that I'm willing to give Lionel a few points here.

Hat Dude is reading Token Jew's blog and we learn that apparently the locusts can only bite you once, not that that's much comfort to its victims. Also, we get this headbanger of a quote:

“If Tsion is right that these are demons, these creatures must be going crazy. They hate believers. They must want to kill us, but they are under instructions from God to torture only unbelievers.”
“What Satan means for evil, God is using for good.”
“Exactly,” Yitzhak said.

Yeah, it's good that you allowed these insects to bite unbelievers and poison them with a venom that makes them want to die but are unable to achieve the sweet release of death, real good that you did that.

There's a reason I pictured Zod in this series as the vindictive Anthony from It's a Good Life in previous posts.

Naturally Lionel loses what few points he gained by complaining about how he'll have to endure five months of that noise. Poor, poor Lionel's delicate ears. I don't know how they'll stand five months of people screaming in agony from the venom. My heart bleeds.

Oh and here's Token Jew's message. Let's take it apart, shall we?

I beg of you not to look upon God as mean when we see the intense suffering of the bite victims. This is all part of his master design to turn people to him so he can demonstrate his love. The Scriptures tell us God is ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abundant in kindness. How it must pain him to have to resort to such measures to reach those he loves!

It hurts us to see that even those who do receive Christ as a result of this ultimate attention-getter still suffer for the entire five months prescribed in biblical prophecy. And yet I believe we are called to see this as a picture of the sad fact that sin and rebellion have their consequences. There are scars. If a victim receives Christ, God has redeemed him, and he stands perfect in heaven’s sight. But the effects of sin linger.

Y'know I'm sure everyone's tired of me using the abusive spouse analogy but I really can't find a better one. Again, Token Jew's message can be summed up as "He beats me but I deserve it and besides Zod is bigger and more powerful than I'll ever be."

I wonder how Ellanjay line up their perspective of Jesus with the Jesus of the gospel of John, who after telling the Pharisees "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone," told the woman caught in adultery that he doesn't condemn her and to go and sin no more. Do they not see the massive disconnect? Of course they don't; they probably don't read any of the verses outside the ones that support their philosphy except the ones against homosexuality.

Oh, dear ones, it thrills my heart to get reports from all over the globe that there are likely more Christ followers now than were raptured. Even nations known for only a tiny Christian impact in the past are seeing great numbers come to salvation.

Wait, is that even possible? I mean, remember Zod slaughtered bamfed all the children and given all the disasters that have struck the Earth back to back, again, I have to say, is that even possible? I'm surprised the Earth still has a population after all this.

Of course we see that evil is also on the rise. The Scriptures tell us that those who remain rebellious even in light of this awful plague simply love themselves and their sin too much. Much as the world system tries to downplay it, our society has seen catastrophic rises in drug abuse, sexual immorality, murder, theft, demon worship, and idolatry.

Remember, if you don't immediately fall to your knees and shout hosannas to Big Brother Zod, then you're full of hate and evil. It doesn't matter if you're Mahatma Gandhi or if you simply believe that Zod killing everyone you care about is incompatible with the God you heard about.

Sorry to be all bitter and angry, but this chapter is really getting under my skin.

Always test my teaching against the Bible. Read it every day. New believers—and none of us are old, are we?—learn the value of the discipline of daily reading and study. When we see the ugly creatures that have invaded the earth, it becomes obvious that we too must go to war.

Too bad none of the YTF actually take his advice and read their bibles. Maybe then they'd discover just how horrible Token Jew's interpretation is.

Vicki is in bed thinking about the day's events. Apparently during the day, Conrad, Charlie, and Darrion had played a game with the locusts, seeing who can hit the mosts locusts with a baseball bat. But Shelly made them put a stop to it.

Anyway, Vicki finds Janie trying to swallow a handful of pills in order to make the pain go away and Vicki being the compassionate human that she is, tries to make an altar call. But Janie manages to hold onto her cool points and says that if Zod did this to her than she doesn't wanna connect with him.

“That’s not true,” Vicki said. She grabbed a Bible. “God could have wiped out everybody who didn’t believe in him. Instead, he’s being patient with us.”

“How do you figure that?”

Vicki turned to Second Peter. “This was written a long time before the disappearances, but it’s still true. It says, ‘He does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent.’ A little later it says, ‘The Lord is waiting so that people have time to be saved.’”

Janie rolled her eyes. “God is stinging us and putting us through earthquakes because he cares? I say that’s a weird way of showing it.”

Oh Janie, how I love you right now, but I have a feeling that unlike the Power Couple of Awesomeness, you're not going to escape becoming a lobotomized follower of Zod. Still if Zod doesn't want anyone to perish than why does he keep trying to kill us all through poisoned water and space objects? I know I say that a lot but it bears repeating.

And that's it for this week. Sorry if I came across as too angry and bitter and not funny, but again, Ellanjay really got under my skin.

Friday, November 16, 2012

I'm Back

I'm back. Once again, thank you, thank you to Thrownaway for donating the needed material to me. I will try hard to be worthy of such generosity.

For those of y'all who don't know, we are officially on book twenty so we are halfway into the series. I'm sure that it was vital that Ellanjay stretch out the series so long and they aren't using it as an excuse to put more money in their pockets. :eyeroll:

When we last left our brave heroes, the freaky locusts were flying towards the baby's crib and I was already composing rants full of righteous rage because if the locusts started attacking the baby, it would be a major inconsistency with their philosophy. After all, didn't Zod slaughter bamf all the kids into heaven because they were below the "age of accountability" line or something like that and therefore, they could be spared the horrors of the Apocalypse? I was so looking forward to tearing Ellanjay a new one with my rants, but I'm afraid that it turns out that the locusts are unable to attack the baby, so give Ellanjay a little credit: they're occasionally consistent.

I just thought I'd give you the heads up: if it sounds like all I'm doing is summarizing that's because that's pretty much all I can do. So far the first few chapters are just the characters watching shit happen. I admit, I almost put reacting to stuff that happens, but I didn't because even reacting is still being more active than the Heroes who Don't Do Anything are.

Basically, Vicki and the others at the school are freaking out over the locusts. Meanwhile, Judd on the plane, is doing something related to the plane--truthfully I'm not really sure what's happening because there's a lot of mention of stuff about hatches and manual overrides and other techie stuff that I don't understand, so I can't really give you an accurate summarizing of what's going on, sorry. Lionel and Sam are watching the locusts swarm and we get some indication that Sam isn't completely dispassionate about what's happening--he expresses concern for his father--but before you give him any brownie points, he is only concerned about blood kin, not any of the others. Remember kids, anybody who isn't a believer or a blood relative is an untermensch and you need not concern yourself with them.

Mark and Carl talk and that's it. Meanwhile, I will give Vicki credit in that she and the rest of the kids at the school are trying to fight off the locusts by commanding them to leave them alone in the name of TurboJesus. It's a bit melodramatic but I'll allow it simply because it's nice to see the characters occasionally care about someone else's suffering. Either way, the chapter ends with Lenore saying The Prayer, which is the exact same prayer that everyone else says, because apparently The Prayer operates on the Bloody Mary principle; merely uttering the words makes you an RTC but it has to be the exact words or else Zod's hands are tied and he'll send you to Hell. For those of you wondering, here's the prayer. Word of advice: don't read it outloud unless you wanna become an RTC.

Lenore trembled and bowed her head, her face in her hands. “God, I need you. I know I’ve done bad things and I’m sorry. Forgive me. I know you’re real, and you mean what you say in the Bible. I believe you died for me and that you’re coming back after all this is over. So come into my life and make me a new person.”

Second chapter, Judd and Lionel and Sam start attacking the locusts, spraying them with fire extinguishers in an attempt to drive them off so they can let the people off of the plane. Surprisingly, the fire extinguisher plan works until they run out of spray. Frankly I can't remember that being in the Bible, the idea that the demon locusts of Hell can't handle fire extinguisher spray but then again, I've actually read the Bible beyond the few verses Ellanjay like to cherrypick in order to support their theology so what do I know?

Meanwhile, at the school apparently Vicki is baffled by the fact that Charlie and the baby were spared being bitten by the locusts, though Melinda and Janie weren't. Charlie, if you're wondering, doesn't have the mark of the believer. She decides to email Token Jew and ask why, but I can already guess why. The baby is covered under the "age of innocence" rule and as for Charlie, it's been established that he's slow, to use that euphemism, so maybe this is Ellanjay trying to answer a question laid out by their critics, the "What about the profoundly retarded unable to make a commitment to Christ?" question. Of course, if that does turn out to be the case, they'll have to answer then "Why wasn't Charlie bamfed into Heaven along with the other RTCs before all this shit happened anyway?"

Meanwhile, Mark and Carl talk about John and Carl tells him about how John saved his life and gave him a Bible with a message written inside and we learn yet another thing about how Ellanjay think: apparently they believe that heathens are so unfamiliar with the Bible that when presented with a book (John, if you're wondering) followed by chapter and verse written in a numerical format, we'll be utterly baffled and unsure what to make of it. :eyeroll:

I thought I'd do a third chapter as a treat for y'all.

Anyway in Israel, we finally run into the Gruesome Twosome aka Moishe and Eli, who are preaching their message of "Zod loves you but you made him angry so he has no choice but to torture you horribly but it's your fault for making him so mad in the first place."

But anyway, in America, we hear from Token Jew again. He confirms my theory about Tolan, but his response still raises entirely too many questions.

As for the baby, Tolan, he is protected by the same love God had for the infants taken in the Rapture. God would not allow these beasts to plague a little child like this. His love and mercy continue, even in these dark times.

If Zod so loves the little children, then why did he allow them to be born into a period of such massive suffering? Why not make everybody sterile for the time being? Not to mention, wouldn't killing Tolan be a merciful thing to do? I mean, you know shit's just going to get worse and this poor baby's going to suffer horribly because of it and if you do kill him, he'll get a one-way ticket to Heaven, so why not?

But Token Jew is baffled as to why Charlie was spared so no confirmation of my theory, not yet anyway.

Anyway the kids begin discussing putting together a website called "The Underground" so to lead others to TurboJesus. I wonder how they're going to do this since didn't Nicky Cardamon say that those who visit Token Jew's website will be fined and imprisoned? Even the kids themselves wonder how they're going to pull this off.

The chapter ends with Judd, Lionel, and Sam returning to Jamal's house to find him, his wife, and Nada with their hands cuffed behind their backs, being interrogated by the GC and I think that's a good place to leave y'all until next week. Thanks again for the generous donation, Thrownaway, and I hope y'all enjoyed the snark.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Wishlist

Because the job hunt has remained as fruitless as it is irritating, I've changed my mind. I've decided to post a wishlist of books needed so that I can continue to deliver snarks to y'all. I figure I should be productive in at least one area of my life.

Anyway, here's the list.  I know some may object but I've chosen the books that have most of the books smashed together because I figure it'd be cheaper than buying each separate book, but if you do feel you wanna buy them separate rather than together, we've just finished book number nineteen so I need book number twenty or for those who don't object to collected books, I need the one entitled "Frantic."  Can't help but think that Ellanjay have a nice racket going being able to stretch the series out so long. I pity poor Fred whose not even halfway through yet. Pray for the man.

Anyway,  I think my loyal and faithful readers for their comments and their encouragement. I feel bad hitting up people like this. I hope if you all do decide to help out that you're okay with the fact that you're helping out a total worrywart who is terrible with money and people.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Attack of the Locusts!

Sorry, sorry for the lateness of this post. I wish could say it was personal troubles, but really, it was mostly general laziness. Ask yourself: are you really biting your nails to the raw wondering what'll happen next to the Heroes who Don't Do Anything?

Another problem, well eventually I'm going to finish off this book and because I'm stone-broke, I won't be able to purchase the next volume so I may have to suspend this snarking for a while. I don't know if I'll just stop updating the snark or maybe I'll take another crack at my series on Right Behind (which no one reads).

Anyway, this selection begins with Judd, being the compassionate RTC he is, sniggering as the GC struggles to explain what's going on. Judd then looks out the window and sees small pieces of the black cloud breaking up and hears the sound of stuff hitting the plane.

Meanwhile, Mark finally meets up with Carl. Woo-hoo. Carl has been reading the bible but since he lacks the Super Special Awesome Decoder Eyes that reveal Zod's plan to convert by killing us all, he hasn't taken the bait. He wants to go with Mark to the hideout and even offers to ride on back on his motorcycle. Frankly, I'm surprised that Mark is okay with this whole "Let's all go to the hideout" plan. After all, it isn't much of a leap to consider the possibility that perhaps Carl is bugged or he's a mole or something.

Anyway, Lionel and Sam are at the airport when the cloud bursts, revealing hordes of demon locusts. I could quote Ellanjay's description of the locusts but given how badly the fail at everything, I think I'll quote from Revelation, chapter nine. That way we can see how interpreting this chapter is a fool's game.

7 The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces. 8 Their hair was like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. 9 They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle. 10 They had tails with stingers, like scorpions, and in their tails they had power to torment people for five months. 11 They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon and in Greek is Apollyon (that is, Destroyer).

It is also said that these locusts won't attack anyone with the seal of God on their forehead, but those attacked will wish they could die but be unable to. Naturally, Judd watches this with a dispassionate eye. The plane is forced to make an emergency landing.

Carl gets attacked by the insects.

Meanwhile, at the school, Janie, aka the hardened reprobate who better demonstrates Christian love than the so-called RTCs, is being attacked by the insects and is screaming in pain and Vicki, the Good Christian Bitch that she is, is all, "We tried to warn you." I grind my teeth like crazy.

To be fair to Vicki, in the second chapter, she does try to make Janie comfortable, but right now my opinion of her character is abysmal. Conrad manages to trap one of the locusts and is studying them, something I really don't see the point of. Vicki then explains, for the stupider readers in the audience, what the whole locusts thing means and after talking about how Zod has decreed they won't hurt the RTCs, she says something truly heartless and bone-headed, basically saying it shows how God uses his enemy for his own purposes.

Meanwhile, Carl naturally notices that the insects aren't attacking Mark and we get yet another conversion with yet another identical Prayer, which again, seems more like spell-casting than anything Jesus preached, especially since the locusts back down, once Carl's finished the all-important Prayer.

Judd tries to get up so he can convert the people aboard the plane. Lionel and Samuel watch a tarmac worker scream as the insects attack him and try to kill himself to escape. Naturally Lionel doesn't freak out, but stares dispassionately (sorry to overuse that word but it really fits) at the man and starts reciting Revelation 9:6

During those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.

Sorry to cheat and copy and paste from the Bible so much, but it's much more interesting than the actual book, which is saying something.

Janie's in agony from the locusts' sting and Vicki, again being the compassionate RTC, decides to chalk another one up on her fuselage and tries to convert her. She's all "Give your life to God, Janie," but Janie, who's currently my favorite character since the Power Couple of Awesomeness is gone, says, after Vicki hems and haws in response to her question about whether accepting Zod would make the pain from the stings go away, "Then what good is your God anyway? Get out!"

Oh and would you believe that even in a time like this, the all-important internet connection is still up? Man, whatever Nicky Alps uses to maintain his communications network, we need.

The other heathens, Melinda, Charlie, and Lenore, are cowering in the basement as the locusts are digging through the ground. The book ends with Lenore screaming about her baby and Vicki screaming, "No!" as the locusts look at the crib where Tolan is sleeping. Naturally because I don't have the next book, I can't say whether the locusts will attack Tolan, even though he's a baby, for being a heathen unbeliever, but if he does, at least we'll know that Ellanjay can't keep their own theology straight because weren't those under twelve bamfed into heaven because of that whole age of innocence thing?

And since I just finished the last two chapters, I'm afraid this is going to be it for my Left Behind: the kids snark for a while, until I get a job that is. If you're wondering about school, let's just say it didn't work out, so I don't have any money from it, and please don't ask why it didn't work out: I'd rather not rehash that to strangers over the internet.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Most Boringest Section in History

Nothing happens. I know I say that a lot but in these two chapters, I really, really mean it. I've never been so dangerously close to a boredom-induced coma and if any of my readers suffer from narcolepsy, I suggest you stay away from this snark.

So Mark, aka one of the minor characters you've all but forgotten existed because no one has any distinguishing features in this series, arrives at the airport to meet with Carl. He gets questioned by this guy with the name tag Kolak and watches a broadcast from Nicky Alps who says he's going to let the SuperPope (aka the EBOWF pope) make his ruling on the RTCs and whether they'll be allowed to travel. Meanwhile, I suffer a concussion from banging my head against the desk in boredom.

At the school, apparently baby Tolan might be sick. I don't see the worry as he's described as having a runny nose and a cough and anyone will tell you, babies shrug off illness pretty quickly. But they ask that Z guy to get some baby aspirin for them. They also manage to get the safe open and it's full of gold coins. I have no idea why they would be so excited since gold is only valuable as long as there's an infrastructure that says it's valuable; isn't Nicky Appalachian going to issue a new mark of the beast currency system soon? I doubt their coinage would be much good then. Either way, I smack my head again in boredom. At this rate, I'm going to be punch-drunk by the time this snark's over.

Judd decides he wants to leave Mali and go back to Israel to be with Lionel and Samuel. Mr. Stein agrees with him and offers to have Immen take him to the airport. That's seriously all that happens in this section. :smack:

Y'know as I recalled from a previous snark, a UFO had struck the world. Is it so much to ask that we finally find out what the hell this object is and what's going to happen? Then again, nothing's going to happen because nothing ever happens in these books. :smack:

Lionel hears about the coins from Vicki and is excited she's wiring them some money to get home. Again, that's all that happens.

Mark is in a hotel room and apparently some inky blackness is covering the earth, making it seem as dark as night. It really would be nice to focus on this, but we all know that would interfere with Ellanjay's hard-on for travel logistics and phone calls. And now that I've left you with that horrible mental image--Ellanjay with a hard-on--I'm going to smack my head again in hopes of inducing unconsciousness. Maybe when I wake up, stuff will actually happen. :smack:

Apparently Jamal is still bitter towards them. This is interesting but again nothing really happens. Lionel just tells Nada about the money, Nada offers to retrieve it, and Jamal's like "Like hell you will!"

Next section, short paragraph about travel logistics with Judd. Apparently the black cloud, aka something happening that would probably be a lot more interesting to read about than all this crap about travel logistics, has stranded flights. Judd won't be able to get back to Israel until Monday. :cue dramatic prairie dog:

Lionel and Samuel go to the bank to get the money. But afterwards, there's some creepy guys waiting outside to jump them so they have to go out the back.

Next chapter, Lionel and Samuel escape without harm, thus preventing anything interesting from happening in this section. Woo-hoo...

Judd's still stuck at the airport until Sunday evening or Monday morning. Mark sits and watches a little TV at the airport while waiting for Carl. I ask: Does Ellanjay seriously believe that kids love reading stories in which the hero's stuck in the airport and doesn't do anything except sit there and wait?

Judd is :gasp: forced to eat an overpriced meal at the airport while awaiting his flight and the SuperPope makes his announcement. Basically the SuperPope says it's illegal to practice a religion that goes against their mission so the RTCs are now evil and also you will be subject to fine and imprisonment if you visit Token Jew's website. They also mention that they have tracking in place to monitor the activity of every citizen. This makes me smile as a I picture Nicky's employees sorting through a bunch of porn URLs. Because the the Internet is for Porn.

Samuel and Lionel arrive at the airport, but are stranded due to the cloud. I cry from boredom. But something mildly interesting happens when they hear an angel sound a trumpet calling for yet another judgment.

Anyway the section ends with Judd and Vicki's group also hearing the trumpet. I will end my snark here because I can't take any more boredom.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Warning! Really Long Post

Sorry, sorry, for the late post. I was visiting family and was unable to post. Also, sorry for the unimaginative post title; it's getting harder and harder to come up with witty post titles. Anyway, you know the rules: links may not be worksafe.

Well I'll be: Judd and Mr. Stein do actually leave the airport. Apparently Immen drives them out to the desert where some nomads live. Apparently somehow, these nomads are so isolated that only a few words of their language is known and they've for the most part just kept to their ways, a lifestyle that was in no way affected by centuries of colonialism or by the myriad disasters that hit the earth back to back. I did a cursory glance at Wikipedia and apparently there are nomadic herders in Mali, but I call bull on them being utterly isolated from the modern world. Also, note that Ellanjay the ghostwriter doesn't bother to give a name to the group, just calls them the nomads. I think they're cheating and trying to avoid doing research on nomadic tribes of Mali. I thought they'd mention the Tuareg because it would give them an excuse to bring up someone regarded as a martyr for the faith, Charles de Foucauld, but then again, that would shatter their Noble Savage motif they got going plus Charles was Catholic and you know Ellanjay believe that Catholics can only be raptured if they stop following the teachings of the Mother Church and stop being so inscrutable and Catholic.

I can't help but wonder since Immen only knows a few words of their language and Judd and Mr. Stein don't know a single word, how are they supposed to preach to the heathens so to speak. Probably do the old trick where they talk slowly and loudly because doing that instantly makes you more easy to understand and isn't at all an assholish thing to do.

At the school, Vicki is being all pissy at Janie (who is rapidly becoming my current favorite character) for running off, even though Janie swears up and down that she wouldn't rat them out to the GC. Vicki is all "You have no idea what the GC can do to you!" but Janie goes "I do but I don't expect you to care about it!" and storms off.

Vicki then talks to Lenore who tells her that the man they found frozen to death was her husband, Tim, and that he'd died because they'd eaten all the food and burned just about everything else in order to keep warm during the Freeze,so he went out to get food and firewood so she and baby Tolan wouldn't freeze. Vicki expresses sorrow but never makes the connection that Lenore's husband would be alive if Zod hadn't decided to go for the Exterminate and/or Convert the Brutes! approach. Not to mention, I have a sneaking suspicion that she's not really feeling any sympathy for this woman but is only acting like she does because she knows it's expected of her. Then again, my feelings towards the main characters are abysmal so I can't be trusted.

If you're wondering how Judd and Mr. Stein and Immen are going to convert the heathens, never fear! That handy Babelfish spell comes back and since all other religions are basically going "La-la-la can't hear you!" and that saying "Jesus died for your sins!" immediately opens all eyes to the truth, the nomads convert in droves. They then ask Judd and Mr. Stein and Immen to witness to the tribe's enemies. If you're wondering the only descriptors given to these nomads are that they wear loose clothing, cloth around their faces, carry spears, and sleep in animal skin tents. It must have taken Ellanjay all of five minutes to craft that description. Thank goodness they weren't too burdened with Research to get this sucker to market.

I've been doing a lot of one chapter snarks lately but this one's a little skimpy, so here's a second one.

Vicki and the other Stockholm Sufferers Good Christian Boys and Girls are having yet another meeting at the schoolhouse about all the heathens they keep attracting. I start grinding my teeth as they discuss the dangers hosting non-converts brings until Darrion, who I'd nearly forgotten existed, brings up a verse from the book of James reminding them to care for the widows and orphans, which makes the first paltry mention of any kind of social gospel we get in these books. Frankly I'm wondering what would happen if they read the rest of the Book of James. Because James was all about the social gospel. I foresee heads exploding.  Either way, Janie, Charlie, Melinda, Lenore, and Tolan are allowed to stay and Vicki actually goes upstairs to apologize for yelling at Janie, while I wonder if the effect of the Flavor-Aid has worn off, albeit briefly, because this is the first time Vicki's shown empathy for Janie's feelings.

Janie tells her story about being tortured by the GC and reiterates that she won't rat them out because she knows what the GC can do, Mark, aka yet another character I've forgotten about because no one has any discerning personality traits in this series aside from being either a main character or a minor one, makes plans to go see Carl, and on the news, the GC make mention of yet another massive object about to hit earth. Naturally, they predict that it'll break up in before it hits earth, but Vicki goes digging for Token Jew's message, even though you'd think she'd know what all was going to happen next.

Judd and Mr. Stein convert members of the tribe and that's all that happens.

Meanwhile, we finally hear from Lionel again. He's been hanging with Nada and teaching Samuel. He also has sense enough to keep Samuel from going to see his father. Nada expresses a desire to go back to the states with them but Lionel tells her she can serve Zod by staying in Israel. Judd calls to ask for help getting back to Israel and that's all that happens on Lionel's end.

Our last stop in this snark is once again, the schoolhouse. Mark leaves to go after Carl and Vicki tries to convert Lenore but they're interrupted by a quake. Turns out this Unidentified Foreign Object (henceforth referred to as UFO until told otherwise) hit the earth causing a massive mushroom cloud to rise into the air and triggering massive volcanic activity. I would worry but given how many disasters have hit, back to back, and how little effect they've had (only one of the main characters, Ryan aka the Buttmonkey have died and only a few NPCs have died), I'm not worried. In fact, I'm jaded, which is the opposite of what I should be when reading this kind of novel. Once again, I bring up the Last Survivors series by Susan Beth Pfeffer. It too, played fast and loose with science and had a whole mess of shit get dumped on their heroes, but the thing is, it eased off the narrative gas and allowed the readers to feel the suffering the characters were going through. In fact, she was unrelenting in showing just how awful all this was and made sure you knew that the characters were suffering. But since Ellanjay see all this suffering as simply the heathens receiving their just deserts at the hands of an angry God, they can't focus on the suffering because that would detract from their busy schedule of Nelson laughing.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hospitality is meaningless

Bit disappointed that no one laid into me for that whole Kurt Vonnegut thing in my last post, but then again, maybe I was wrong to assume that his fans are rabid and quite possibly insane. Anyway, same rule about links still applies.

The beginning of this chapter is really, really boring on both the American Front and the Guys Front.

In America, they're looking for Janie because if she rats them out to the GC, they're screwed. There is a brief poignant moment when they come across the body of someone who died looking for wood during the freeze, but in true Ellanjay fashion, it isn't dwelled on much.

Now with Judd and Mr. Stein...Well I'm happy to say, Ellanjay didn't wuss out. They actually went to Mali. Unfortunately all they do in their section is walk around the airport, so jury's still out on whether they'll actually show us anything of Mali or if they'll just wuss out and spend all their time at the airport. But regardless, it won't mean anything given that they managed to make visiting Israel and seeing some of the most holy sites in Christendom, seem about as memorable as looking at the side of a bus.

Anyway, they find Janie, who has a woman with her named Lenore. Basically they chew Janie out and she's all "I needed a smoke like you wouldn't believe," and introduces Lenore. Janie also says that life at the school isn't so bad aside from all the God stuff, which is a clear sign that Stockholm Syndome she's on the road to someday becoming a good RTC.

Lenore has a baby, Tolan, and naturally her arrival plus Janie's insistence that she won't go back to the school without her, sparks debate among the RTCs. They do eventually decide to take Lenore and her baby in, but still yet another lesson repeatedly learned as a result of these books: hospitality means looking out for your own. You owe no one else anything.

There is an interesting little conversation at the end of this section. Apparently Janie has the gall to refer to herself as a "Child of God," which makes Conrad say, " you're not," and start going through the "Christ died for you" spiel. It's kind of confusing: I thought it was standard Christian doctrine that everybody was created by God; therefore we all bear a touch of the divine and can be considered Children of God, regardless of our Saved/Unsaved status. But then again, I'm one of those shiftless hippies who believes that she isn't in any position to make statements about who is or isn't going to heaven, so what do I know?

Janie, who I'm liking more and more, calls Conrad on his bullshit, saying essentially, "So you don't think I'm a child of God? Well what about Lenore or her baby?"

But Conrad has this to say:

"What you believe is that we're all part of God and that God rewards and punishes people simply by what they do."

"Yeah, so?"

"God's not like that. He wants to be our friend, but we sinned, and that separates us from God."

Okay, I'm seriously scratching my head right now. I don't wanna launch into the whole Theodicy debate because there's no satisfactory answer to it, but isn't "God rewards and punishes people by what they do" a standard part of Christian doctrine? In fact, don't Ellanjay's heroes frequently get rewarded for their virtuous behavior and snigger at the poor souls suffering as a result of the disasters brought about by God? I hate to belabor a point but Strawman Has a Point.  I know the point of this kind of fiction is to set up Strawmen for the brave heroes to knock over, but Ellanjay can't even do that right.

As for the last part, anyone remember being a kid and being told by your mother or father that if friendship comes with strings attached, then they aren't really your friend? The same applies to God. Just as if your friend demands you jump through hoops to please them, means they aren't really your friend, if God can't accept humans as the sweaty, flawed creatures he created, then he's not your friend either. In fact, given all the shit he's put humanity through in this book, kissing up to him basically makes about as much sense as kissing up to an abusive spouse in hopes that maybe he'll beat his other children rather than you. It's just sick and wrong.

But Janie, in a move that makes me like her more and more, refuses to buy what Conrad's selling and we end that section with Conrad rolling his eyes and thinking about how she won't listen to the truth.

In Mali, Judd and Mr. Stein are still at the freaking airport. Mr. Stein talks about how unlikely it is that someone like him would be chosen to be a messenger for God and brags about how he's memorized scripture. He then recites something from Psalms, which makes me roll my eyes. Because Jews apparently never ever read the Old Testament and therefore Psalms would completely baffle them. Anyway, a pilot with the Super Special Awesome Secret Mark comes up to them, introduces himself as Immen and says that God sent him to help them and that's where the Judd and Mr. Stein's section ends.

In America,  there's actually a nice bit where Shelly and Vicki read emails after which Shelly teases Vicki about her crush on Judd. Naturally, Vicki denies having a crush on Judd and while this is standard teenage banter, it's actually kind of nice. Even in the face of the apocalypse, teenagers will be teenagers and it's nice to see them occasionally act like teenagers.

Mark returns with Lenore and her baby, apparently ahead of Conrad and Janie by a few minutes, and the chapter ends with Vicki saying "We need to figure out what to do about Janie." Already my teeth are in grinding position because when they mention "doing something about Janie," I sincerely doubt they mean continuing to welcome her in Christian hospitality and love and probably mean telling her she could either accept Zod or be chained up in the basement or something like that. I would say they could just kick her out, but you know they would never just do that what with their paranoia that she'll rat them out to the GC. So they'll probably decide they need to really drive the point home. My rebuttal is essentially Revelation 3:20.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

Note, that it's all between them and God and that in this, God is not forceful at all: he simply waits. He doesn't strong-arm you or kick the door down or anything.

Oh and regarding my whole links game, if any of you can think of any good "America" ones, that would be appreciated. I'm starting to run out of them and I'm trying to liven up my posts here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Ellanjay are Wusses

Again, some of the links in my post may not be work-safe and I don't want anyone getting fired because they read my blog. So if you're at work, please wait until you get home to click the links.

Fred Clark has already written about how Ellanjay violate Kurt Vonnegut's Eight Rules for Writing* and he does, but I'm more interested in how Jenkins manages to violate his own rules for writing. I stumbled onto this little gem while doing an archive binge at Writers' Digest and I find myself shouting, "Physician heal thyself," until I'm hoarse. BTW, if you need to contract laryngitis for any reason, just read that article until you throw out your voice from all the screaming.

So like I said, Judd for some reason thinks that Mr. Stein has gone off the deep end because he wants to go to Africa and witness to those who haven't heard of Christ. I'm not sure why he thinks Mr. Stein has gone off the deep end--seeing visions and portentious dreams has been a regular part of Christianity for a while--but frankly, I think it's because Mr. Stein wants Judd to come with him and Judd's a wuss. That's my theory and I'm sticking with it until I'm offered proof otherwise.

But Mr. Stein does do something good: he makes Jamal promise to look after Lionel and Samuel while he's gone. And much as it pains me to admit it, Judd does demonstrate some small courage: he's not sure about the Africa trip so he prays to God that if it's his will, he'll go. Naturally the section ends with him and Mr. Stein getting fake passports and Hat Dude sneaks them to the airport.

In America, Vicki is getting ready for yet another Bible study even though most of the inhabitants of the school are already converts so is there really a reason for them to constantly rehash the same few verses over and over again? But Janie is missing and they're worried that she might be heading to sell them out to the GC. That's all that happens on the American side.

In Israel, Lionel and Samuel are skittish around Jamal, a nice little touch which actually makes sense: they after all have good reason to believe that Jamal's not that thrilled to have them in his house. 

Samuel still wants to set up a meeting with his daddy, something which seems pretty damn inexplicable when you take into account that Daddy arrested one of his friends and were it not for the fact that the GC are inexplicably sissies, he probably would have tortured a confession out of him. Don't get me wrong: it's nice to see an RTC concerned about someone who isn't a fellow RTC, but given the circumstances...

The section ends with Samuel taking them to a warehouse where some RTCs, who actually are a bit pro-active and probably a lot more interesting to read about than the Tribbles, are smuggling religious literature inside crates of GC literature.

Judd and Mr. Stein are at the airport trying to get a flight and I will credit Ellanjay with one thing here: they actually acknowledge Africa as a continent rather than a monolithic nation. When Mr. Stein asks the vendor for a ticket to Africa, the vendor, who is named Vivian, responds with "Uh, what city, you dumbass?" Again, one of my major pet peeves is when Africa is treated like a monolithic country when it's a continent with over fifty different countries. You wouldn't have a character talk of North America like it's a homogenous land consisting of stereotypes that bear a suspicious resemblance to Texans; you shouldn't do the same with Africa.

But Ellanjay loses what few points I was willing to give it when the vendor, in a futile attempt to get Mr. Stein to narrow things down a bit, asks about natural features, but it isn't until they run into a fellow believer named Mr. Isaacs that they get anywhere. Remember kids: only RTCs are remotely competent. Though my sympathies are still with the poor agent: how would you feel if someone came up to you and said "Hey I'd like to go to Africa," but couldn't or wouldn't tell you where in Africa he wanted to go? So yeah, more signs that Ellanjay don't believe in research and their cultural insensitivity is through the roof.

So apparently where God wants Mr. Stein to go is near the Northern Sahara between the 10 and 40 degrees latitude. Right now, apparently God wants them to go to Bamako aka the capital city of Mali. Meanwhile, I'm frantically searching Wikipedia in anticipation of their missionary trip just so I can see all the things they got horribly wrong. Because Ellanjay believe America is the greatest nation on earth so there's no point in learning about other nations, especially since all national stereotypes are true. But frankly, if we're to be truly honest, I think Ellanjay are going to wuss out. Something will happen and their heroes will be unable to go to Mali, thus sparing them having to research another land and culture. I base this on experience: it's been proven time and time again that Ellanjay will use any excuse they can to wuss out of the hard stuff involved in writing and writing about another culture is pretty hard sometimes.

*About Kurt Vonnegut: I still feel somewhat guilty in that even though I love, love his rules on writing and I laugh at most quotes attributed to him, I still haven't been able to make it through any of his novels. For some reason, everytime I try, it feels like he's holding me back from the action, standing in front of the screen and keeping me from getting close. I feel guilty because like I said, I do consider him wise and funny, but I just can't get into his works.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Insert Witty Post Title Here

Since I'm going to start providing links to various media, maybe I should place a warning: some of these may not be Work-Safe, so be careful. Don't want anybody getting fired because of my posts.

So the sun has finally risen and naturally because Ellanjay don't understand how the sun works, snow melts almost instantly. But I'll give them a little credit in that they acknowledge that all this snowmelt could have problems: the river is rising and the American YTF are wondering if they need to move to higher ground. This is what would happen if all the snow melted at once. So I'll give Ellanjay a half-point because they got something half-right.

But enough about boring stuff like whether or not Our Brave Heroes have to evacuate due to rising waters; the important thing is that the generator is running again so they can get their all-important emails again. I know y'all were just biting your nails raw in anticipation.

As you guessed there's more emails from that Carl* guy who I still don't give a rat's ass about even though the YTF are endlessly debating whether this guy's on the level, whether he's trying to trap them, and Oh God, how little do I care about this.

The America-based YTF find out that Carl's heading their way and that apparently the GC are staying away from Chicago due to reports of a whole lotta radiation downtown. As you probably guessed, this radiation thing is mentioned in passing and no one seems to care about what this means for the people living in the area or what's going to happen when the radioactive cloud reaches them because Ellanjay are fucking morons who didn't think about stuff like this and think we'd rather hear about a character we'd long since forgotten about and his fucking emails!

Okay, deep breath..

Okay, so not really much is going on in Israel. Samuel apparently wants to be called Sam and they're still kicked out of Jamal's house. To my surprise, they aren't talking too nastily about Jamal. Ever since reading the last chapter in which he kicked them out, I was bracing myself for pages of the YTF whining about how Jamal is TEH EVOL!1111 for kicking them out because he felt they were a bad influence that was putting his family in danger. Frankly, because I hate the YTF and I like being contrary, I was fully on Jamal's side: the dude has lost one child; is it so horrible that he wants to protect his remaining one? But actually, the YTF, while they're still not "Yea, we got thrown out," are understanding of his desire to protect his family.

Lionel does ask Judd if he does have feelings for Nada. Judd admits that he likes her but only as a friend. Nada is also described as being a "knockout" which, given that we have no further clues about what she looks like, is about as meaningful as Hattie's description of being drop-dead gorgeous. We can surmise, however, based on her name and the fact she was mentioned as having an Arabic accent, that she is of Middle Eastern descent and though I know eventually, Judd will be married off to Vicki, I almost want him and Nada to hook up. Make the story less predictable. Though I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't have a romance between her and Lionel; they're both ethnic which makes it okay.

The section ends with an interesting note in which Judd rejects the idea of dating Vicki because in his words, "They fight too much." There's so much we can read into that, given Ellanjay's views on women, especially ones that don't bow and do as the menfolk say, but I think we should move on.

In America, the YTF are doing a bible study. Naturally, Melinda and Charlie are listening closely, while Janie stares off in the distance. Astute readers can tell that Ellanjay are using this as an indication that Melinda and Charlie are slightly less eeevil than Janie, but I'm going to just assume that Janie is just sick and tired of hearing the same few verses taken out of context over and over again, because is it really that difficult to remember the horrible shit that's going to happen to you?

Token Jew basically says to keep an eye on the sky and says that three more horrible disasters are going to happen and given that the whole world probably looks worse than Afghanistan under the Taliban rule, is anyone going to notice a few more disasters? But then again, we've already talked many times how Bruce "Dead and Useless" Barnes and Token Jew are really awful at their jobs.

Anyway the section ends with Janie rolling her eyes at all this, but Melinda's all "I don't know. They've been right about everything thus far." So yeah, inevitable conversion coming up...

Anyway, in a rare show of courage, Judd, following Lionel's advice, decides to go back to Jamal's and talk to Nada about his feelings. This also marks a rare show of sympathy from an Ellanjay character in that Judd is demonstrated as caring about the feelings of one of those shallow, fickle, overly emotional creatures known as women. I honestly don't know what to think about what's going on except to assume that this is the Ghostwriter's doing again.

Anyway, the scene between Nada and Judd is actually fairly decent with Judd doing his best to let Nada down gently, but naturally, she is hurt and tells Judd to leave. Once again, I do have to commend that for once, the plot isn't bowing to the wishes of mini-Rayford aka Judd. Nada is upset and the plot acknowledges that she is justifiably upset: she's had her heart broken. It's nice to have a female character go against a male character's wishes and not have her lambasted as the Whore of Babylon (cough:Hattie:cough) for daring to go against him. Nada has every right to be upset--broken hearts are never fun--and the book acknowledges that.  We also finally get some description as to what Nada looks like: she has long brown hair and dark brown eyes. It's not much but I'll take what I can get.

But Nada does get a nice dig in at Judd asking "How can he hope to fight against the GC when he can't even stand up to her father?" and while I quibble about that "fighting the GC" part because you know Judd wouldn't last long if he experienced actual suffering at their hands, it's still nice to see that arrogant turdblossom get served every now and then.

The chapter ends with another appearance by Mr. Stein. He's grown a beard and his face is all lit up, which naturally means that he's gone off the deep end. Surprise, surprise, I'm right. Apparently he received a vision from Zod telling him to go into Africa and witness to people living in the deepest jungles who haven't heard of Christ. God also told him to take Judd with him. I could quibble that Africa isn't as dark and isolated as they used to be (it'd make more sense if they headed into the Amazon rainforest), but once again, I'll overlook it because finally, someone is thinking what about isolated tribes who haven't heard of Christ?

I've peeked a little ahead at the next chapter. I'm not going to snark it because this snark's long enough as is, but apparently Judd thinks Mr. Stein has gone off the deep end. Frankly, I'm not sure why: isn't seeing visions traditionally been a part of the Christian religion? What is it about Mr. Stein's vision that makes Judd go, "Oh hell no!" Me, I think it's because going to Africa, without the basic technology that a rich American would be accustomed to, would be a sacrifice on Judd's part and Judd's too weaksauce to make that sacrifice. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it until we find out otherwise.

*For those wondering, yes, I am picturing Carl as being Carl Carlson from The Simpsons. Why? Because I'm a lifelong Simpsons fan and because it adds a little diversity to Ellanjay's whitebread world.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

It's Okay to Disobey Authority, so Long as it's Brown-skinned.

Well so far, at least at the beginning, there's still some of that good writing around. My theory: as the series wore on, Ellanjay, who always have about a dozen projects they're currently half-assing, decided to just let things be and didn't pay too much attention to the writing of LB: the kids. Though I still think roofies were involved somehow.

Anyway, the kids at the schoolhouse rock! Vicki and her fellow RTCs are actually demonstrating basic hospitality by taking care of Melinda. I know Ellanjay probably only see this as a means to a possible conversion, but kids, if you're reading this, this is what you should be doing as a means of demonstrating hospitality as opposed to being Assholes for Christ.

Not only is Vicki and the others trying to treat Melinda's frostbitten toes,but Vicki stays with her, giving her aspirin, and holding her when she moans, until her toes start to look a little better. It's really sad when I feel like throwing a Mardi Gras-style bacchanalia when the characters act like compassionate humans.

But there are signs that some of Ellanjay's "RTCs are good/everyone else is full of concentrated evil" philosophy seeping through. After taking care of Melinda, it's mentioned that the YTF start trying to clean up the place, fix the roof, and get the generator going again and naturally, only the RTCs are mentioned as doing this work, because the heathens (for those who don't know, the heathen count is at three, with Charlie, Janie, and Melinda still being unconverted) apparently don't care about getting warm again. But there are some decent signs: Janie is depicted as complaining about the food, but she does wolf it down when it's given to her, giving her a touch more humanity than she has demonstrated thus far. The section ends with Melinda, who's bundled herself up, asking "What's going to happen to us?" You'd think by now, Vicki would have given her the full rundown by now, but instead Vicki simply pats her shoulder and says, "We'll take care of you." Again, it's a nice, human touch somehow seeping in, in that Vicki is showing basic humanity.

In Israel, Moist and Ellie are ranting about leaders who don't do what they promised to do and how shit's going to happen as a result. :Yawn: MEGO Now, I'm longing for J. Michael Straczynski's awesome albeit short-lived series, Jeremiah. Now there was a good show and if you're wondering why I'm bringing it into the conversation, in season two, a character (played by Sean Astin), who refers to himself as Mister Smith and claims to have been chosen by God to be his prophet,  is introduced and I'm reminded every time I read any of Moist and Ellie's Tourette's-style ranting, just how badly Ellanjay fail at creating prophets. It's true that many of the Biblical prophets were earthy figures (Amos was a pruner of trees before being called to this line of work) and some were more educated (Isaiah advised kings which implies a little education), but all managed to convey a certain otherworldliness in their writings; you could believe that they were in touch with something bigger than themselves.

You get elements of that in Mister Smith. He is closer to an Amos-type prophet rather than an Isaiah, but he does, despite being an earthy, practical person, demonstrate an otherworldly knowledge that makes people sit up and take notice. Moist and Ellie just sound like they have a Schizophrenia; they are robots, parrotting what bits of holy writ they've heard over and over again, of which they know the words, but not the music. But to be fair, JMS does have more talent in his baby fingernail than Ellanjay do in their entire bodies, so I suppose this isn't too surprising.

In America, the YTF are freezing, running out of firewood, and they can't get the generator going. Melinda's still in considerable pain and that's all that happens in the brief check on the America-based YTF. I kind of wished that Ellanjay would realize that all this back-and-forth between Israel and America gives the readers whiplash and that he shouldn't switch locales between paragraphs and if he does, stuff should be happening. If all that's happening is both sides saying variations on, "Damn it's cold out," then why not do one chapter in Israel and the next in America, so as to make things a little easier on the reader?

Judd's in prison and freezing in his cell, but apparently isn't as affected as some of the other prisoners, though you'd think since they are in all likelihood, eeevil heathens, that all the hellfire inside would be keeping them warm, but apparently it doesn't work that way. There is an affecting moment when Judd realizes a man that had been lying still is in actuality, dead, but it isn't dwelled on too long because stuff like this might actually traumatize the kids who are hoping for the apocalypse so they can watch everyone burn. Emotional responses from the characters would ruin the fun.

Daddy Goldberg is massively pissed at Judd because he converted his son. Judd tries to chalk one up for Zod but it doesn't work and he's sent back to his cell, where he has a curious conversation with a grizzled, old man. Now the whole time, I was thinking, "Oh boy, is he going to have Judd 'pick up the soap'" given how he's introduced but like I've said many times, Judd is a mini-Rayford: of all the YTF, he's in the least amount of danger no matter what situation he's in.

Anyway the grizzled old pervert man (GOM) tells Judd, after making Judd give him his blanket, that they're releasing him and that he should check his coat. Judd is confused but realizes what the readers' have already figured out: the GC are releasing him with a tracking device in hopes of ferretting out other RTCs. He tries to convert GOM, but GOM doesn't take the bait. Later, GOM and him trade coats before Judd's released. He does get his wallet and ID back, but Judd for once demonstrates a few braincells by realizing, "Hey, these can be bugged as well," and throws them away. Me, I'm hoping that the GC were a few steps ahead and sewed a tracker into the lining of the coat, but I'm not going to bet the farm on that. Also, given that we can put tracking chips in animals and chances are the GC probably don't have any of the moral hangups that would prevent them from putting chips in people, why haven't they put them in their prisoners? That would be great: if Judd got back to Jamal's, only to realize he played right into the GC's hands and has doomed his friends. But again, not going to bet on it.

But as Judd heads back, the sun comes out and the earth is warm again  and Judd thinks this infuriating line which suggests to me that Ellanjay have regained consciousness:

A monitor inside the coffee shop showed a replay of the entire conversation between Nicholae and the witnesses. Commentators praised the work of the potentate. Judd smiled. He knew God had been looking out for him and other believers.
Except for all the RTCs who died during the freeze because they were homeless or weak or sick or just plain unlucky enough not to have the resources a rich American does, you prick!

[primal scream]

Anyway in the schoolhouse, Vicki and the others are celebrating the end of the freeze and making plans to consider resuming classes and worship. Vicki finds Janie standing by a river and they talk. Vicki is all "God did this and more's coming," but Janie remains convinced that the break in the freeze is Nicholae's doing.

In Israel, Judd waits around before returning to Jamal's, which is a smart move in case he's being followed, but I'm holding onto the faintest hope that he's been lowjacked. He runs into Lionel. They talk about Daddy Goldberg, but the conversation soon turns to Nada. Apparently Jamal cares about her and is keeping her locked up, But still Nada managed to disappear, leaving behind a note saying that she does have feelings for Judd and wants to meet up with him so they can talk. Needless to say, Judd is not pleased by this and neither is Jamal, who throws him and Lionel out, saying that they've caused enough trouble for his family. Frankly, I'm still shocked that Ellanjay are actually letting their teen protags disobey an adult RTC. Isn't RTC-ianity huge on obedience to all RTCs in authority regardless of how incompetent, corrupt, or evil they may be? But then again, judging by their names, which are all scary and ethnic, and the fact that Nada has been mentioned as having an Arabic accent, it may be that before becoming good RTCs, they were islamo-commie-fascists muslims* and since Muslim and Arab are interchangeable because it's not like one's a racial distinction and the other's a religious distinction, maybe the message is "Obey all RTC Authority figures so long as they're white and not a scary shade of brown.

*I've also flirted with the idea that Jamal's family were Palestinian Christians because it's not enough to be Christian in Ellanjayland, you have to be of a specific subculture, but I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that Ellanjay assume that all Palestinians are Muslim, much in the way too many idiots assume Arab=Muslim.

**If you're wondering about all the links and videos, I'm trying to liven up what I'm sure is a dull job, reading my posts, since nothing happens in these books as said many times before.

Friday, August 17, 2012

All this Good Writing is Starting to Scare Me

Mouse is more than just a little disappointed with the comment turnout from her last post, but then again, I probably shouldn't whine about that given that I can't keep to a consistent posting schedule. Anyway, let's get down to business

[old serial voice] So when we last left our brave heroes, Judd actually did some basic heroism, there was a decent feeling of suspense, plus Daddy Goldberg provided hints that he might (until the inevitable conversion scene) be the compelling character I so sorely crave, and Nicky Usambara displayed basic villainy by outfitting his officers with buttons that when pushed, will summon other troops to their area. Funny isn't it, how I feel a need to commend the characters for doing basic anything? [/old serial voice]

Everyone up to speed? Good.

So Judd grabs Nada and runs for the kitchen but Daddy Goldberg stops them. There's a weird choice of verb usage in the next sentence making me wonder if I missed a detail because I was distracted by some other, more obvious wrong in this story, in which Judd is described as "blasting" Daddy Goldberg. Needless to say, my inner third-grader is going nuts with that choice of verb, but I doubt that's what the writers intended so anyone wanna help me out? Either way, Judd has pinned Daddy Goldberg to the ground and as the GC are busting in, he tells Samuel, Nada, and Jamal to run for it. over their protests. I suppose I could question why the GC haven't completely surrounded the place, making any kind of escape impossible, but dammit! For once, given the way this scene is written, I actually feel a little suspense! I actually care about what's going to happen to Judd, even as my cynical side is saying, "Y'know in all likelihood this will result in nothing, just like everything else."

I'm going to assume that the ghostwriter has been writing most of the scenes in this book, at least the ones I like, because I can't imagine anyone as tone-deaf, as ignorant and proud of it as Ellanjay actually doing decent albeit by-the-book writing as this.

Daddy Goldberg manages to slip free from Judd and Judd tries to escape, only to run into the GC and the fact I actually feel some concern about what's going to happen to him is testament to the skills of the ghostwriter.

Meanwhile, the kids in America are freezing in the school and even that has some suspense as Vicki is worried because Melinda's condition is deteriorating and she's wondering what more can be done. Again, cynics may wonder why she's the only one deteriorating so badly, but shut up! For the first time in a while, I actually care about the characters and what's going to happen to them. After enduring so much crap in these books, can't I enjoy a little of the good without it being tainted by base cynicism?

Janie and Charlie are bickering over who gets to sleep next to Phoenix aka the dog and even that seems to work because even though the characters are godless heathens worthy of hellfire and damnation by Ellanjay's standards, you get a feeling that the writer has some compassion and knows that they're fighting because they're freaking cold, not just because they're horrible heathens full of concentrated evil. Janie then hints at something she read in a book about a guy who was freezing to death who used his dog to stay alive. In her words: "Won't tell you what the guy did, but it didn't end well for the dog." And again, there's none of the usually derisive notes that the characters usually refer to her; you get the idea that she's suggesting this because she's freaking cold and not because, again, concentrated evil. Y'know this spate of good writing makes me wonder if the brave ghostwriter slipped something in Ellanjay's drinks and banged this out while they were out cold. Just remember, it wouldn't be that hard for him to get away with something like that; Ellanjay believe that editing and rereading are for wimps.

There is a brief discussion of that email from Carl, which I'm not going to rehash the whole 'Carl' thing because I don't care, but the section ends with a massive snowstorm hitting which douses the fire, making things even colder, and plunges the room into darkness.

Lionel speeds off, driving Jamal and Nada and Samuel back home and in a nice touch, he's actually nervous to be driving because the most he'd done before was back out of a driveway. I suppose I should question why they're not being followed though; surely the GC would be suspicious of a vehicle hanging around the scene.

Jamal and Nada argue and for once, you can't tell which side the author's hand is tilting towards, because they're both making cogent points. Jamal is chewing into her for taking such a stupid risk, but Nada is like, "Hey I love you and I admit I screwed up, but you have to let me live my life." Once again, some good writing...all this good writing is actually starting to scare me a little. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.

They discuss what will happen to Judd, realizing there's the very real possibility that Judd might lead them to their hiding place (they don't actually say he might be tortured into confessing but it's nice to see hints). They also discuss something in which the Nicky Amaro said about how he wasn't going to go after believers, but realize that hey, what's said in front of cameras and what goes on in a GC Jail are often two different things. They ask Samuel if he knows anyone who could help and he briefly mentions a lieutenant who knew his mother, but they wisely decide that it's too risky and the chapter ends with them saying that all they could do right now is pray.

At the schoolhouse (I'm trying to cut down on the "In America" jokes) apparently the weight of the snow caused the roof to cave and the YTF can't get a fire going because the wind keeps blowing it out. :starry-eyed wonder: There's actual suffering afflicting the heroes...I need to sit down for a minute. Melinda complains that she can't feel her feet and they take of her shoes only to find that three of her toes on her left foot have developed frostbite.

So Judd is in GC custody preparing to be questioned. He's resolved not to tell the GC anything but is nervous so he prays a little. Daddy Goldberg enters with a man who introduces himself as  Deputy Commander Woodruff and they begin questioning Judd. It's a short scene but Judd does demonstrate some smarts by refusing to directly answer their questions about Token Jew, instead opting to go for the indirect approach: when asked if he believes in what Token Jew proclaims, Judd says, "Has everything he said come true?" Again, bravo, brave ghostwriter. Whatever it is you slipped in Ellanjay's drinks, well, let's just say, they need a continuous pump of the stuff so we can get more good writing.

The ending of the chapter is just a little disappointing with Judd mentioning Nicky's latest bit about how he's going to leave believers alone, which causes the GC to be like, "Oh well," and escort him back to his cell, rather than just saying, "Yeah, he lied," and continuing the torture, but with all this good writing, I'll forgive a little missed opportunity.