Saturday, April 27, 2013

Man's Willful Indifference to His Fellow Man

First of all, before I get going, I have to complain yet again about how these books are formatted. Why do they have a few paragraphs with Vicki then a few with Judd then back to Vicki? Why not just do one chapter with Vicki, then the next one with Judd, and so forth? Do they think kids' attention spans are really that short that they can't keep track of who's doing what from chapter to chapter?

Also, am I the only one wondering if Lionel got the Chuck Cunningham treatment? Because we haven't seen hide nor hair of him in ages and I'm wondering if Ellanjay or the ghostwriter just flat-out forgot about him. Not that I'm a huge fan of his character, but it's a telltale sign of bad writing when the writer can't keep track of one of the main characters in their book.

The chapter begins with Vicki, Darrion, Mark, and Shelly getting together and talking about Nicky's speech. Naturally, they're offended by it, but we don't dwell on this long as they receive a phone call from Conrad telling him that Melinda is nowhere to be found, which forces them to conclude that she disobeyed them and came to the school.

Next section has Judd bravely watching television. Lionel makes a brief appearance at the beginning as he and Sam are talking about the new schools, but the bulk of this section is devoted to Judd watching television. Naturally, Nicky makes an appearance and gives this speech:

There is probably no one more dangerous on the face of the planet as this religious zealot, Tsion Ben-Judah. The man tried to kill me before thousands of witnesses at Teddy Kollek Stadium in Jerusalem more than a year ago. He is in league with the two old radicals who spit their hatred from the Wailing Wall and boast that they have poisoned the drinking water. Is it so much of a stretch to believe that this cult would wage germ warfare on the rest of the world? They themselves clearly have developed some antidote, because you do not hear of one of them falling victim. Rather, they have invented a myth no thinking man or woman can be expected to swallow. They would have us believe that our loved ones and friends are being killed by roving bands of giant horsemen riding half horses/half lions, which breathe fire like dragons. Of course, the believers, the saints, can see these monstrous beasts.

Have to give Nicky props for finally showing some basic villain cred in blaming a hated minority. Yes, we could quibble as to whether or not RTC-ianity really qualifies as a hated minority but in this universe they do, so give Nicky props for choosing to focus everyone's hatred on the RTCs. Just as I want to throw a parade everytime the RTC characters demonstrate basic decency, I also wanna do the same whenever the villains demonstrate basic villainy.

So Vicki goes looking for Melinda only to run into a morale monitor. The morale monitor asks what she's doing and Vicki about wanting to find her friend so she doesn't miss Nicky's speech. But when she is asked Melinda's name, Vicki blanks (she knows Melinda wouldn't use her real name but doesn't know her alias). She takes of running and the Morale Monitors come after her.

Meanwhile, Mark is in the arena looking for Melinda when a guy named Dr. Neal Damosa comes up to give a speech. I have no idea if this character appears in the adult books but props for giving a villainous character a decent name. But anyway, Mark and the other RTCs get a taste of the horrible persecution that awaits them when Damosa calls an RTC by name, questions him, then has him arrested. The section ends with Melinda being pulled onstage.

Vicki rushes into the auditorium and sees Melinda on stage. Apparently, the morale monitors had set up a booth and offered free materials from Token Jew; when Melinda stopped to take a look, they arrested her. Frankly I'm not sure how I feel about this villainous scheme. It's better than very evilly allowing their enemies to gather at the Teddy Kollek stadium in Israel and very evilly broadcasting their evil message worldwide so millions can convert, but not by much.

The chapter ends with Judd and the others in Israel seeing the 200 million horsemen ready to attack. Me, I'm just wondering if these are the same horsemen as the lion-headed snake-tailed flying people killers as earlier.

Vicki is trying to think of how to save Melinda when she is recognized. She takes off running, gets caught, and falls down. That's seriously all that happens.

Meanwhile, Judd watches the 200 million kill people with a dispassionate eye, not even bothering to shed tears or try to revive them or anything. Again, when the anti-Christ is the most sympathetic character in what is essentially Christian fanfiction, you've failed miserably.

Vicki scrambles to her feet and tries to run away, but the GC is hot on her trail. Luckily Mark shows up and manages to distract them with a "She went thataway!" bit causing me to headdesk. I think the thugs in a Bugs Bunny cartoon would be smart enough not to fall for that.

Vicki runs and hides in the bathroom only to be saved by an RTC named Natalie, who is working as a morale monitor. They meet up with Melinda who is handcuffed next to a dead morale monitor. Now you'd think being stuck next to a dead person would be somewhat traumatizing, but Melinda isn't the least bit shakened by the experience.

Even though, I'm grinding my teeth at the sheer inhumanity these characters are demonstrating, I will give them one thing: Mark does scream, "We have to help them!" when the plaza explodes. It's such a small thing to celebrate but given how inhumane eveyone is in the Ellanjay-verse, I have to celebrate whatever I can.

Vicki and the others try to help as many of the others trapped inside as they can, but eventually they have to leave, but horrors of horrors! They've got a flat! But Mark has an idea and that's where the second chapter end and I think I'll end my snark there. I know this is kind of a short one, but there's a lot going on in the next few chapters and I don't want this snark to be too long.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Back to School

Okay so as said before in last week's post, Hattie and Kasim have something in common: they both want to kill Nicky. Of course, this is a violation of the Tribbles ethos, which is to do nothing and they have a discussion in which they admit as much. Well, okay, they point out that Nicky would come back from the grave, bigger and badder than before, but even so, you'd think the Tribbles could do something to alleviate the massive amount of suffering, like say, feed the hungry or shelter the homeless, but apparently even that is a violation of Zod's great plan because you never see them doing even that.

Sam apparently hasn't fully sipped the RTC flavor-aid and manages to ask some pointed questions about their theology. Unfortunately, he's satisfied with their weaksauce answers.

Here's a sampling:

“Why does God even allow somebody like Carpathia to live?” Sam said. “It doesn’t make sense.”
“God’s plan has been in place since the beginning of time,” Mr. Stein said. “Satan and his evil angels and all who follow them are merely part of God’s divine design. Satan is God’s devil, and he only gets away with what God allows him to.”

So okay, God created Satan and Satan is only doing what God told him to do, which is be evil and unleash massive amounts of suffering, doesn't that make God, I don't know, somewhat evil himself?

Again, at least with the Elder Gods, Lovecraft had the good sense to know that while the Elder Gods may be fearsome and powerful, they sure as hell couldn't qualify as good. Lovecraft may have been an all-around bigot but at least he had that much sense.

“But if God knew all this bad stuff was going to happen …” Sam paused and looked at Mr. Stein. His lip quivered. “God knew my dad wouldn’t respond to the message, but he made him anyway. I don’t understand.”
Mr. Stein put a hand on Sam’s shoulder. “And neither do I. How can we understand someone whose wisdom and knowledge are so far above our own? But I do know this. If your father had never existed, neither would you. And you would not have had the opportunity to follow Christ.”

I keep trying to create a coherent response to this but all I can do is vomit with rage. Just that if Sam never existed, it wouldn't matter one way or another; he wouldn't care because he wouldn't exist to care.

So they start discussing who will kill Nicky.

“I would think the person who kills Nicolae will be filled with anger,” Mr. Stein said. “He will no doubt be desperate, willing to sacrifice his life for something he feels is right.”
“Will the person be insane?” Lionel said. “Perhaps,” Mr. Stein said. “But he may believe it to be the most sane thing he’s ever done in his life. He will be desperate but cunning. To get close enough to the potentate to inflict this kind of wound will be an impressive accomplishment.”

So I'm confused...doesn't St. Rayford participate in the attempted assassination? So apparently the "doing nothing" ethos is lifted only for that one moment and only because it won't do anybody any good. aunursa, you wanna help me make sense of this again? Sorry to keep calling on you, but sometimes the illogic renders my capacity moot.

Meanwhile on Vicki's end, she's babysitting Tolan, which leads to her thinking of the kids she used to look after around the trailer park, which leads to the admission that most of them died in the plagues and are quite possibly suffering in a hell for all eternity without end.

There's a fairly realistic albeit boring conversation in there about boys, which I won't get into, even though it's a rare moment when the narrative gas eases off and let's its protags be teenage girls for awhile.

Anyway that moment ends pretty quickly as they begin looking over a pamphlet about Nicky's new schools.

The world we see today is very different from the one we knew a few years ago. People of all ages are looking for answers. For young people, this is a stressful time. You’ve lost family and friends. You want to know what will happen in the future. That’s why Potentate Nicolae Carpathia and the leaders in education around the world have teamed to bring you Global Community Satellite Schools. You don’t need math and science right now. You don’t need tests in English composition. You need to know how to survive. Potentate Carpathia wants every young person to fulfill his or her destiny. He says, “If you want to make a difference for the good of humankind, attend the opening session of the new satellite school in your area. You are the future of the Global Community. We need you.”

Okay, I'll give Ellanjay credit: it sounds like Nicky is more interested in creating an army of child soldiers than in schooling the next generation. I'll give them credit: that actually makes sense seeing as Nicky knows there isn't going to be a future so he'll concentrate on winning as many to his side as he can.

So they discuss who's going to go to the new schools. Vicki and Darrion have their fake IDs ready, Conrad isn't going (he felt it'd be too risky seeing as he's a former morale monitor). Janie, aka Godless Heathen, walks in and announces she wants to go, saying she'll go in disguise like the rest of them, and we get this very callous moment from our brave Christian heroes.

When Janie left, Mark said, “Maybe Janie going would be the best thing. The GC would catch her, and she becomes their problem.”
“I’ve been praying for that girl ever since I became a believer,” Lenore said. “I’d hate to see anything happen to her.”
“How long do you keep praying for somebody?” Vicki said.
The room fell silent. Vicki wondered if there was any chance that Janie would ever believe.

Next chapter, Judd and Kasim talk about Nada. Apparently Kasim is pissed at Judd believing that if Judd had only loved Nada as much as she had loved him then Nada would still be alive. Not entirely sure how this works, but it does make my little black heart cackle with glee whenever the YTF are chewed out. But Kasim is still going to go through with his plan to assassinate Nicky and begs Judd to keep quiet about it and that's where that section ends.

So Vicki is in line to get into the GC school when she runs into Marjorie Amherst aka the girl who creamed herself fainted at Judd's graduation ceremony.

Vicki goes into the auditorium where they run a videotape of Nicky welcoming them to the school. I would snark it but there's really nothing to snark. It's like all of his speeches: filled with bland pleasantries. We're supposed to find it either inspiring or chilling but it succeeds at neither.

I'm afraid I'm going to leave you there. Yeah, the second chapter snarked was kind of short, but I read ahead and there's a long one coming up, so this will have to tide you over until then.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Hello and happy Saturday! Now before we begin, I'm going to promise to be a little less angry and bitter. I can't make any guarantees but I'll try.

Judd has been keeping to himself, trying to work through Nada's death, when we hear about Mac McCullum, aka a character from the adult books whose had maybe one onscreen appearance and therefore shouldn't be easy for readers to recall, has apparently saved Leon Fortunado's life from assassins. The characters are like "Why would Mac do that?" and the section ends there. I'm serious; that's all that happens.

Meanwhile, at the school, Melinda, filled with newfound love for Big Brother zeal for God, is trying to convert Janie. Janie, however, still refuses to take the bait, responding to their usual weaksauce "Zod's trying to get your attention" argument by saying:

Janie held up a hand. “Give it a rest. Haven’t you seen all the people dying around the world? You think a loving God would allow that?”
“He’s trying to get your attention,” Melinda said.
“No. He’s not there or he’d do something about all this. The only person you can trust right now is Nicolae Carpathia.”

I know Janie's argument is almost as weaksauce as the RTCs, due in large part to the fact that Ellanjay can't possibly envision someone disagreeing with them who isn't Adolf Q. Stalin-Pot, but still gotta side with Janie here. When compared with Zod, Nicky Chersky seems like a piker. I mean, the worst Nicky could do was nuke nine cities. Zod, on the other hand, smashed the earth repeatedly, froze it, poisoned the water, and unleashed the lion-headed snake-tailed flying people killers. Clearly if we're weighing out villain-cred, Zod wins.

Suddenly the RTCs see the lion-headed snake-tailed flying people killers and know they have to get Janie downstairs. Why would getting her downstairs protect her? I would say it's the same logic from Indiana Jones (shutting your eyes will totally avoid the wrath of God), but at least Indiana Jones had some awesome stunts to go with its illogic. Left Behind has none of it.

Janie starts coughing and choking on the sulphur but Vicki takes this moment to demonstrate the Demonbuster logic that runs this series, manages to call them off by calling on the one who sent them, aka Zod for those of you who haven't been paying attention.

Vicki mustered her courage and spoke. “Leave this place now! In the name of Jesus Christ, the almighty God, I command you to leave.”
The horseman’s face was dark, like a bottomless pit. He turned and looked at Vicki, and she saw the monstrous, evil face with sharp teeth and a look that defied description. Vicki turned away and closed her eyes. Father, I ask you to send these things away. If they stay, there’s no way Janie will ever become a believer. Please, have mercy on her and make these things leave.

Yeah, if Vicki can make them go just by telling Zod to back off, then why didn't the other RTCs try this? Sam could have tried it to save his father, but then again RTC-ianity and sociopathy seem to go hand in hand.

But anyway, it turns out the GC are going to go through with their plans to reopen schools and that's the end of that section.

Meanwhile, Sam is actually thinking about an unbeliever who, as far as we know, died an unbeliever, aka his father. Naturally he doesn't make the connection that dear ol' dad is roasting on a spit for being a faithful Jew, but I'm desperate for what few crumbs I can take from this series.

Judd consoles Sam by saying this:

“God wants people to know him, but he gives us a choice. You and I chose to accept God’s gift. Your dad rejected it.”
“I picture my father suffering now. I wish I could take his place.”
Judd knelt by Sam. “This is going to hurt for a long time, but you’re not responsible for your dad’s choice. The only person God holds you responsible for is you. You can pray and plead with others, but it’s their decision.”

Do I need to reiterate that sociopathy and RTC-ianity go hand in hand? Didn't think so.

They watch the news ceremony honouring Mac and another adult character I don't care about, Abdullah Smith. The chapter ends with the announcement of Hattie's death, but since I've read the next chapter, I know that Hattie isn't really dead so I'm bored to tears. Next chapter, please.

Judd talks with Mac who tells us that Hattie is alive, but they're trying to find and stop her from killing Nicky. That's because she's actually doing something which goes against the whole Tribbles ethos which says that the only thing to do in an apocalypse is nothing. :sigh: Need I reiterate how much I miss Taylor and Hasina?

Mac talks about foiling the assassination attempt on Leon and honestly, I understand why so many of my fellow snarkers side with Leon; he's too pathetic to be taken seriously as a great threat to the world at large. He and Mallory from the Babysitters Club have too much in common. Sorry for making a reference no one will get, but I read the Babysitters Club books as a kid and have recently visited a lot of snark sites, so it's in my head.

Naturally, Judd is more concerned with travel logistics than anything else and asks Mac about flights back to the US.

“Travel is still difficult with the plague. There’s no telling how long that will last. The GC estimates about 10 percent of the population has died since the start of the smoke and fire and sulfur. That means about three times that will eventually die. If you can find a commercial flight, take it.”

Meanwhile, Vicki and the other kids decide who's going to attend the GC schools even though there's no reason for these schools because there's no future and Nicky Chittagong knows it. Then she receives an email from the pastor they met in Arizona. Apparently Jeff, aka Our Buck's brother, became a believer so we can cancel that candlelight vigil we had planned.

In Israel, Mr. Stein has received another vision, this one telling them to preach in the streets. One of the characters points out that that's what the Gruesome Twosome are already doing, but Mr. Stein says that God told him something would happen during their preaching that would cause many to turn to him. Judd is mulling over this when he runs into Kasim. Apparently he and Jamal haven't completely sipped the Tribbles brand of flavor-aid because like Hattie, they wanna do something. Kasim's got a gun and is planning on taking out Nicky. The chapter ends with that bombshell.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Rage Level: Critical

Hello and happy Saturday fellow dirty sinners!

As stated last week, this week what awaits us is a long missive from Token Jew and I almost want to do another poll asking who's more irritating, Bruce "Useless" Barnes or Token Jew? I'm not sure I can decide though Bruce was on stage more unlike Token Jew who we mostly hear about through missives on his website. But Token Jew does also manage to be an insult to the Jewish people, so that alone might give him the edge in the Annoying-Off. I'll let my readers decided, though.

But anyway, let's get down to business.

“The deadly demon locusts prophesied in Revelation 9 finally died out after torturing millions. Many who were bitten at the end of that plague have recovered only three months ago.
“While many gave their lives to God after seeing this horrible judgment, most have become even more set in their ways. It should have been obvious to the leader of the Enigma Babylon One World Faith that followers of that religion suffered everywhere in the world. But we followers of Christ, the so-called rebels—enemies of tolerance— were spared.”

Darrion shook her head. “Makes you wonder why anyone wouldn’t believe the truth about God.”

So apparently it should be obvious that Zod beats us but we deserve it and we should be on our knees apologizing to Mister Zod* for making him that angry in the first it any wonder that the religion preaching peace is still more popular? What's the point in worshipping Zod when he can just overturn your life and screw with you for no reason? At least if you worship Lovecraft's Elder Gods you get eaten first.

“It is helpful to know this current plague was created by the releasing of four angels bound in the Euphrates River. We know that these are fallen angels, because nowhere in Scripture do we ever see good angels bound. These were apparently bound because they wanted to create chaos on earth. Now they are free to do so. In fact, the Bible reveals they were prepared for a specific hour, day, month, and year.”

Melinda raised a hand. “I don’t get it. I thought angels were good.”
“They were all created by God to follow him,” Vicki said. “But a third of the angels followed Satan and became demons. Angels only got one chance to choose.”

Okay I'm seriously going "What?!" here. Just where in the bible does it say any of this. Though I do know that all that stuff Vicki's saying is the Bible according to John Milton or in other words, it's not actually in the Bible.

So Mark is inspired to write a series of numbers on the blackboard. He then explains them.

“Right. Tsion told us the horses and riders will kill a third of the population alive right now.” He pointed to the R. “After the Rapture came a great war, an earthquake, and meteors. All of that killed 25 percent of the people alive after the disappearances. That left 75 percent of the people who weren’t taken away by God. Follow closely. One-third of 75 percent is 25 percent, so the current wave of death will leave only 50 percent of the people left behind at the Rapture.” how again is it that the earth still has a population? Let's try to work this out. Will start with 7 billion humans at time of Rapture. Let's see I suppose we can humour Ellanjay's delusions and assume that RTCs are indeed a persecuted minority but still remember EVERY FUCKING CHILD ON THE FUCKING PLANET WAS SLAUGHTEREDRAPTURED TOO! [/ALL-CAPS] Sorry for the all-caps and excessive profanity but it's amazing how Ellanjay forget to include that little fact when they do these little calculations. So I'll give 5 billion humans post-Rapture, one billion for the RTCs and one billion children. Then we have all the judgments including ALL the water turning to poison and since I'm very bad at math, I'm not going to try to do the calculations, but I am going to ask a question I've asked repeatedly: how is it that Earth still has a population given that one of these disasters would be enough to finish Earth off, let alone all of them back to back?

Once again, I point you to Threads in order to clear the bad taste of Ellanjay's illogic out of your mouth.

“This next section is a little difficult,” Mark continued. “Tsion thinks God wants people to come to him, but this latest judgment might be preparation for the final battle between good and evil. He’s weeding out the people who won’t accept him.”

Wait, what now? I thought the whole point of these disasters was Zod was trying to reach out to the heathens and convert them. Granted he was trying to convert by killing them which really isn't a smart business plan, but wasn't that his whole plan. Now they're saying he's just killing off the unbelievers, which makes me wonder what's the point? If he hates unbelievers so badly, why not just send TurboJesus in now and let him kill Nicky already? aunursa, you wanna help me out? My brain hurts just trying to work out this illogic.

But Token Jew does try to make one concession to the "How is this compatible with a God of love?" crowd.
“Many of you have written and asked how a God of love and mercy could pour out such awful judgments upon the earth. God is more than a God of love and mercy. The Scriptures say God is love, yes. But they also say he is holy, holy, holy. He is just, as in justice. His love was expressed in the gift of his Son as the means of salvation. But if we reject this love gift, we fall under God’s judgment.

My response: what about the profoundly retarded who lack the wherewithal to accept any kind of God, those living in the darkest depths of the Amazon who haven't encountered any missionaries, and all the babies and kids who are going to die horribly as a result of these back to back disasters? I'm sure Zod won't have the horsemen attack the little ones just as he didn't have the demonic locusts attack the kids but being young wouldn't protect them from drinking bad water or freezing to death. I suppose they get a one-way ticket to Heaven which makes me wonder why the RTCs aren't killing kids like crazy. Not to mention, Zod is sending them to Hell which has been traditionally depicted and upheld by Ellanjay as a place of punishment with no end and I don't need to delve into all the wrong surrounding that. Just remember according to Ellanjay, Gandhi is in Hell because he lived and died a faithful Hindu, but Fred Phelps will get his pass to Heaven because he's a Christian.

“Imagine this world with half its population gone. If you think it is bad now with millions having disappeared in the Rapture, children gone, services and conveniences affected, try to fathom life with half of all civil servants gone. Firemen, policemen, laborers, executives, teachers, doctors, nurses, scientists … the list goes on. We are coming to a period where survival will be a full-time occupation.”

It should already be a fulltime occupation given all the disasters. Not to mention all those civil servants you listed, they're going to die and burn in Hell because they were doing their jobs, trying to save people from Acts of Zod.

I know this clip is only tangentially connected to what we're talking about but I'm linking y'all to it because it's awesome and because I'm picturing the civil servants as being like Dan Turpin from Superman: the Animated Series.

Anyway, that's the end of the letter. Afterwards, Melinda and Vicki talk. Melinda continues to show a healthy attitude: she doesn't want to convert just because she's scared. Vicki responds by saying "Zod's trying to get your attention." aka the same weaksauce argument used by every character in this series.

Melinda talks about how the horses gave her nightmares and Vicki says she was scared until she realized they couldn't harm her because they were protected by Zod. :grits teeth: Do I need to explain the wrong in that little sentence?

But for those hoping Melinda would escape with her healthier attitude towards Zod intact, I'm sorry to disappoint you but the chapter ends with her kneeling before Zod and saying The Prayer. :sigh: And I almost liked Melinda. Her attitude was so much healthier than that of the RTCs she's surrounded by who see God as their personal strongman.

Anyway, that's it for this week. I know, only one chapter, but I've done such a substantial post, so I'll leave you. Sorry for being mostly angry and bitter, not snarky and funny. Maybe next week will be better.