Sunday, December 29, 2013

Name the Stupidest Part of this Story

Happy Sunday! Family get-together kept me from posting. I should be back to posting on Saturday again, pretty soon though.

So Nicky has just woken up in his coffin and given a "Bwaah-Bwaah" speech. In the real world, the personnel wouldn't be able to keep the throngs of people under control and they'd start trampling each other in order to get a closer look at their beloved leader. But in Ellanjayland, everyone files in, nice and orderly, to see Nicky.

There really isn't much more to say about the first section. Judd walks around, smirking about how he's got it all figured out. He runs into Z-Van who's going "We're not worthy!" The segment ends with Judd coming face to face with Nicky Mocho.

Meanwhile, Vicki and the American YTF are hiding in the rocky crags near their house as the GC raid the place. Darrion decides to steal a radio from one of the GC goons (don't ask me why but it's not yet the stupidest thing she does) so she and Vicki rappel down the side of the crags. And for those of you wondering, in true Ellanjay fashion, while they make a stab at trying to be suspenseful by having Darrion slip and almost fall, the experienced reader knows nothing will happen and just flips through these pages.

Darrion swipes a radio from one of their cars and they listen in. She decides to open up the trunk and see if there's any stuff they can use. As she does, the GC start coming their way. Darrion grabs Vicki and pulls her into the trunk with her.

My response, in a nutshell, is essentially a Picard-style headpalm. Seriously, what part of this sounded like a good idea?

Judd locks eyes with Nicky, wondering if Nicky can tell he's a believer. Fear not, though, nothing happens. They look at each other, Nicky talks on the phone to someone, and Z-Van and the rest of his band continue to go, "We're not worthy!" I am not making anything up.

So Vicki and Darrion are in the trunk of a GC vehicle, listening as the GC work. The GC then come, shut the trunk, and speed away with Darrion and Vicki still inside. :headdesk: I'm not sure who's stupider: Darrion for coming up with this plan, Vicki for going along with it even though a reasonably bright five-year-old could point out all the flaws in it, or the GC for not noticing that there are people stuffed in your trunk.

The rest of the YTF are wondering where Vicki and Darrion are. They watch as their home goes up in flames then go off in search of them. Again, that's all that happens. and his band forever and join the Tribbles, but Lionel tells him not to.

Next chapter begins with Vicki and Darrion getting banged around in the trunk as the GC vehicle speeds off. In the hands of a decent writer, they could milk this suspense for all it's worth, but like I said before, Ellanjay hate suspense. The rest of the YTF realize they have GTFO and leave.

Lionel is talking with Westin, aka the guy who converted in the last section. Westin wants to walk away from Z-Van and his band.

Westin sat on the bed and put his face in his hands. “I thought you’d tell me I needed to get away from these people as fast as I can.”
Lionel sat beside him. “We have a couple of friends who had a chance to work directly for Carpathia. They both took the jobs, even though they were believers. They felt God wanted them in that place.”

Clearly Lionel is referring to Our Buck and St. Rayford both of whom are bravely working for the enemy and doing everything in their power to thwart his machinations by...occasionally giving him disdainful looks and pulling stupid pranks that really don't do anything except allow Our Buck or St. Rayford to snicker for a few minutes. Albert Goering and Oskar Schindler are both giving the Picard-style headpalm.

Vicki and Darrion are struggling to open the trunk. But the fire set by the GC to destroy the YTF's home is spreading out of control so the GC abandon the vehicle, leaving Darrion and Vicki trapped inside. But since we know the characters are wearing titanium steel plot armor, we know nothing bad will happen to them, so forgive me for not gnawing my nails over them.

The fire has spread to the forest surrounding the house. The other YTF know they have to get out of there, so they steal one of the abandoned GC vehicles (not the one with Darrion and Vicki inside)and speed off. If you're wondering, there's only a brief "What about Darrion and Vicki?" among them. I'll forgive it though given that adrenaline is pumping, but once again, we should feel something, like say, their guilt about leaving Vicki and Darrion in enemy hands. But we don't.

Friday, December 20, 2013

It's Alive!

The chapter begins with more people talking. Again, who would have guessed the apocalypse would be so boring? But for those of you interested, we get another example of Jerry Jenkins Ethnic McEthnic-style names: Enoch Litwala. For those of you wondering, he represents the African region of Nicky's ten region-government.

After the other guys speak, Leon comes onstage and gives his speech. And Leon might as well be twirling a moustache given how much he plays the part of the Strawman Villain who represents all that RTCs hate. I suppose I could quote large portions of his speech for you, but I won't seeing as it can be summed up as "Worship Nicholae Carpathia you fools!" with large amounts of maniacal laughter mixed in.

We then cut to Vicki even though the main action is in New Babylon with Judd and Lionel. Leon continues his "Bwaah" speech by saying this:

“It is also only fair that I offer proof of my role,” Fortunato said, “in addition to what you have already seen and heard from Nicolae Carpathia’s own image. I call on the power of my most high god to prove that he rules from heaven by burning to death with his pure fire those who would oppose me, those who would deny his deity, those who would subvert and plot and scheme to take my rightful place as his spokesman!” Leon paused dramatically. Then, “I pray he does this even as I speak!”

After he says this, fire from heaven appears and torches the three minor potentates* who had been less than enthusiastic about Nicky. Seeing as only one of them has been given a name (Enoch Litwala) and we know nothing about any of them, it's hard to feel horrified by this. Not to mention, if they hadn't been torched now, we all know that TurboJesus would have slaughtered them because the only distinguishing factor between Satan and TurboJesus is that TurboJesus's gun is bigger; therefore he wins. Might apparently does make right. The only bad thing about this scene is not the slaughter, but who's doing it: again if TurboJesus does it; that makes it good. If Satan does it; that makes it bad.

Judd and Lionel wonder what they're going to do if they have to bow to the statue of Nicky. For those wondering if they're going to do a take on the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, I wouldn't hold my breath. In this series, people bow and swear allegiance to Satan all the time, all the while telling themselves that they're secretly bowing/swearing allegiance to God. Like I've said before, you've gotta wonder what all the great Christian martyrs would think of this.

Annie shows up and does something smart by telling them to get out of there. But people are freaking out. The chapter ends with Nicky climbing out of his coffin.

Next chapter, Nicky starts speaking. Naturally he speaks of peace, aka the only virtue more evil than tolerance, trying to calm down the people who are freaking out. Vicki is sickened as he quotes the words of Jesus. Me, I wonder why, if Ellanjay know the words of Jesus so well, can't they see the contrast between the biblical Jesus and TurboJesus?

Vicki's section ends with her receiving a message from Natalie saying that their call has been traced and they need to get out now. Frankly, I can't help but be amazed, given that these two chapters have involved resurrections, fire from heaven, and now the possibility of a GC raid, at how bored I still am. I know I promised not to complain about boredom but I find it really amazing that how Ellanjay manage to suck the horror and suspense out of stuff. Even the hackiest of hack writers would have a hard time making the anti-Christ rising from his grave possessed by Satan not be exciting, but somehow Ellanjay pulled it off. I blame the fact that all the characters are wearing titanium steel plot armor so we know nothing bad can ever happen to them.

Word of advice to aspiring writers: make stuff happen to your heroes. You don't have to be as brutal as George RR Martin, but have something happen. An arrow almost hit, a punch to the jaw, anything. We should be worried about their physical or psychological safety. JK Rowling, while not as brutal George RR Martin, was good about this. Not only did she kill off characters but she showed time and time again that not even the trio was safe from the scars that come with being in a war. [/rant]

Meanwhile, Lionel gives the closest thing to a GTFO here, the series will allow, but Judd says he has to stay and watch this. Why? Because the writers' need a member of the YTF to witness the following events.

Nicky begins by forgiving the person or persons responsible for his death. Then, for those of you wondering, he gives this speech.

“However, individual would-be assassins aside, there are opponents to the Global Community and to my leadership. Hear me, my people: I need not and will not tolerate opposition. You need not fear because you came here to commemorate my life on the occasion of my death, and you remain to worship me as your divine leader. But to those who believe it is possible to rebel against my authority and survive, beware. I shall soon institute a program of loyalty confirmation that will prove once and for all who is with us and who is against us, and woe to the haughty insurrectionist. He will find no place to hide.

Nicky, Nicky, you know you could have used the whole assassination attempt as an excuse to further tighten your hold by imposing new laws eroding religious freedom (just pin everything on those RTCs) and people would probably start worshipping you simply BECAUSE YOU JUST ROSE FROM THE GRAVE RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM!!![/ragedump] Anyone wanna give Ellanjay a one-way ticket to North Korea so they can see how a country based on a cult of personality works?

Lionel, being smart enough not to stand around like Judd, is getting the hell out of there when he runs into Westin, aka Z-Van's pilot. Westin says "You guys predicted everything! Tell me how I can become one of you!" and we walk through yet another standard conversion scene even though in the face of all they've witnessed, it feels kind of foolish that Lionel would use the standard "You're a sinner and sin separates you from God" speech.

Vicki and the American YTF are fleeing into the woods to hide from the GC. That's all that's happening on their side.

The chapter ends with Nicky giving this speech:

Carpathia invited anyone who was formerly against him to join the Global Community, then added, “In closing let me speak directly to the opposition. I have always allowed different points of view. There are those among you, however, who have referred overtly to me personally as the Antichrist and this period of history as the Tribulation.

You may take the following as my personal pledge: “If you insist on continuing with your subversive attacks on my character and on the world harmony I have worked so hard to create, the word tribulation will not begin to describe what is in store for you. If the last three and a half years are your idea of tribulation, wait until you endure the Great Tribulation.”

Standard villain "Bwaah!" speech but I've gotta wonder how much worse can Nicky make it. They've already survived all out nuclear war, several asteroid strikes, all the water becoming undrinkable, two attacks of the Lion people killer thingies, most of which were caused by Zod and not Nicky so yeah, totally not impressed here.

*I haven't yet mentioned this but somebody should have told Ellanjay how utterly stupid the title "potentate" is. It doesn't add to your character's villain cred if your readers giggle every time he's on stage.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Ellanjay Know Nothing about Humans

Again, I thought I'd post today since I've got work tomorrow.

So for those of you worried that there hasn't been enough of Ellanjay's hard-on for communication, the chapter begins with Lionel reading an email. It's from Sam who talks about how "All is being fulfilled" and that he'll be their man in Jerusalem. Which is probably a good thing, seeing as he's actually from Jerusalem and would probably make a better witness to all that's going on than Judd or Lionel; Sam's less likely to stand out.

So Lionel goes for a walk and we get even more proof that Ellanjay Know Nothing About Humans.

The temperature was already in the high eighties, and Lionel wondered how hot it would be by noon. Street vendors set up stands as people moved closer to the funeral site. Dealers sold umbrellas, bottled water, chairs, sunscreen, and even souvenirs. Every block featured street entertainers—some with guitars, others with different musical instruments. The farther away from the hotel Lionel walked, the rowdier the entertainment became. Jugglers and clowns tried to make people laugh who didn’t want to laugh. Fortune-tellers badgered the grieving pilgrims to spend a few Nicks.

Uh, have Ellanjay ever watched the news after a beloved world leader/figure has died? Clearly they haven't because if Nicky was as beloved by all (except RTCs and soon-to-be RTCs)they'd know that funeral services for said leader/figure aren't usually filled with people trying to get a laugh out of the crowd. I'll admit I'm not questioning the presence of venders--in the face of every tragedy, are people selling tacky souvenirs--but I will question the clowns. I know this was published before Nelson Mandela died so I can't point to that as an example, but surely they'd seen other renowned peoples' services so in short, what the hell, Ellanjay?!

In America, Vicki bravely sits at the computer answering questions and experiences persecution in the form of people sending her nasty emails. Once again, someone give Ellanjay (and many others) one-way tickets to Saudi Arabia so they can experience real persecution.

She receives an email from Natalie. Apparently, Charlie and the Shairtons made it out but are now in GC custody and once again, I have to go, What the hell, Ellanjay?! You had a workmanlike albeit chilling scene with them being burned alive and now you spoil it by making it so they live. What exactly did Suspense do to you as a kid that made you hate it so? Did it run over your dog or something?

Vicki, naturally assumes that the GC couldn't possibly be pretending to be Natalie in order to entrap her (that's what would happen in a smart novel), gives the names of some of her friends and promises to help her out.

So Judd and Lionel are backstage with Z-Van at the funeral and apparently it's really sunny out. According to the book, the temperature gauge reads 106 degrees. Me, having experienced several summers in which the temperature reached triple degrees, I am watching these next few scenes closely so I can see how Ellanjay fail at this. Because they will fail; it's a given.

While sweltering in the heat, Judd and Lionel notice some GC peacekeepers with the Super Special Awesome Zod-mark and decide to seek them out. The peacekeeper, whose name is Annie Christopher, gives them water and they talk some more.

Judd pointed to the draped statue behind Carpathia’s body. “Do you know what they’re going to do with that thing?”
Annie’s radio crackled and she held up a hand. “Sector 53 contained,” she said. She put the radio back and sighed. “My boss took a close look at it this morning. They have a fire going inside the statue that was started using Bibles and other holy books. Evidently they got them from the late Pontifex Maximus’s collection.

Anyone remember that furor a few years back about some Gitmo guards flushing the Koran and the riots that ensued from the report? Well apparently Newsweek wasn't wrong to report on the Koran abuse because Muslims (along with every other religion on Earth except RTCianity)don't really care about their holy books.

“And that’s not all. They want the statue to appear alive so they’ve somehow made the thing talk.”
“You’ve got to be kidding,” Judd said.
Annie shook her head. “On the scaffold this morning, my boss swears he heard the thing say in Carpathia’s voice, ‘I shall shed the blood of saints and prophets.’ ”

Okay so Nicky isn't even trying to be all subtle peacey McPeace-Peace anymore: he's flat-out stating that he's Satan. How exactly does claiming to be the Prince of Darkness win you support? I can picture people going, "Well, he is the Father of all Lies but he does support a woman's right to choose so he's got my vote." Then again, that does come close to describing the mindset of some voters so I'll give Ellanjay a half-point here.

So Judd and Lionel are at the funeral, smirking the entire time.

The music faded and Leon Fortunato gave Carpathia’s personal history in a voice filled with emotion. Nicolae had been born thirty-six years earlier in Roman, Romania, and was an only child. He was athletic and interested in academics. Before the age of twelve he was elected president of the Young Humanists and was valedictorian in high school and at the university he attended.

Okay I was going to call bullshit on the "Roman, Romania" thing but apparently Ellanjay cracked open an encyclopedia because there really is a city in Romania named Roman. I still doubt they wouldn't have come up with the name Nicholae were it not for the dictator, Nicholae Ceaușescu.

Also apparently Nicky was a Humanist. I thought Atheist was the most evil "ist" there was. Or is this a case of "No One's really an Atheist; they just hate God!"

Ol' Leon does do something smart by blaming the RTCs for this. Okay he lays the blame at "anyone professing there's only one way into Heaven" which describes most religions, with the exception of Buddhism and Hinduism, but everyone knows he was really referring to RTCianity because all other religions are disingenuous.

The chapter ends with Z-Van performing a praise song to Nicky and Judd wondering what's going to happen when Nicky rises from the grave. That's where I'll leave you, given how long this snark has gotten.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Snicker about how they have it all figured out

Well, I have to work Saturday again, so I thought I'd post this snark early. That said, on with the show.

Judd and Lionel discuss whether Z-Van's going to betray them to the GC, but given that they're in an airplane headed to New Babylon, there really isn't much they can do. They talk to the pilot, Westin, who mentions seeing the GT's resurrection. There's no word about Westin having the Super Special Awesome Zod-Mark but given how he talks, chances are he's either an RTC or about to become one.

Meanwhile Vicki and the American branch of the YTF are watching the news and thinking about Charlie. It's not really snarkworthy, just them watching the news and seeing people of all shapes and sizes mourn Nicky and of course, the YTF snicker at all this and talk about how they got it all figured out.

You think I'm kidding about the "talking about how they all got it figured out?" Here's an example.

A religious expert was called on to explain the phenomenon. He said that since the leaders of the Global Community and the One World Faith were dead, Carpathia and Mathews, people would try to fill that gap in many ways. The expert said that people turning to Jesus Christ was a fairly recent craze that began shortly after the vanishings.

“Dr. Ben-Judah created an uproar, particularly among Jews, when at the end of the live, globally televised airing of his views he announced that Jesus the Christ was the only person in history to fulfill all the messianic prophecies, and that the vanishings were evidence that he had already come.”

“So why doesn't this expert have the mark of the believer?” Janie said.

“This guy knows his facts, but he doesn't know God personally,” Vicki said.

“And he’s right about people looking for something to fill the hole Carpathia left in their lives. Tsion says a lot of people will still believe the truth, but many more will follow false teachers.”

Ah, the anti-intellectualism...that never gets old.

Vicki then turns to Matthew 24:21-24. For those not in the now, here's how that section goes.

21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now--and never to be equaled again. 22 If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect--if that were possible.

Note the plural "christs" and "prophets." Can't help but think this refers to all time, not a particular seven-year time frame at some undetermined point in the future. I wish I was better educated in the Bible like Fred, but that's my interpretation: that it sounds more like "Beware of David Koresh!" than "Beware of a polyglot promising peace."

“So there are going to be people pretending to do miracles?” Janie said.

“Not pretending,” Vicki said. “They’re going to perform miracles, and a lot of people are going to think they’re from God.”

Again, I lack Fred's expertise, but how would the average laymen, unversed in Ellanjay's convoluted interpretation, be able to tell the difference between honest-to-God according to Doyle miracle and the ones Vicki is talking about? I mean, if the anti-Christ manages to regrow your amputated arm, would you really know or care?

Meanwhile, the plane is landing and Judd and Lionel are going, "Oh what do we do!" as they see GC vehicles approaching the plane. But Z-Van, continuing to be awesome, is like "You think the GC's interested in a pair of kids." He says that he's going to meet with one of Fortunado's aides at a press conference and that he's taking them with him. Lionel and Judd are aghast and are like "No, don't invite us."

But Z-Van drags them along anyway, introducing them as the guys who saved his life. Judd and Lionel receive invites to Nicky's funeral and the section ends with Judd saying to Lionel, "We've got to find some disguises."

In America, Vicki finally hears from Charlie. We then get a fairly effective scene as the GC storms the farmhouse where he lives with Ginny and Bo. The chapter ends with her hearing Ginny scream about them pouring gasoline. I have to admit, I didn't like this secondhand approach when it was Taylor and Hasina, mostly because Taylor and Hasina are so much more awesome than all the Tribbles combined, but it works here.

Second chapter, Vicki tells the others about what happened to Charlie. Apparently that's the GC's new tactic: torching the houses of believers with them still inside. I have to admit, while I think they can choose a more effective way of dealing with believers, this still is pretty effective. The fire sends a visual message to any believers that might be in the area: this could happen to you.

They then realize that they hadn't heard from Natalie in a while. They pray for her and Charlie and that's where Vicki's section ends.

Next all that happens is Judd and Lionel and Z-Van proceed pass Nicky's body. Then they receive an invite that Fortunado wants to meet with them personally and the section ends there.

Vicki hears from Natalie that she's okay but is being watched carefully. That's all.

Judd and Lionel and Z-Van are meeting with Leon Fortunado. For those wondering, Judd's disguise consists of a robe and a turban, which is only slightly better than Our Buck disguising himself with a baseball cap.

Z-Van's working on a new song which he'll sing at the funeral. Oh and Guy Blod makes an appearance in this series. Me, after what I've heard about him from other readers of the adult books, am a little disappointed. I was hoping for so much more campiness and flaming but there's barely any in this.

But fear not, Judd isn't recognized (though how Fortunado would be expected to remember one smart-aleck kid from a few years ago, is beyond me). He and Lionel are led to some penthouses to stay in.

“I feel guilty for sleeping in this kind of luxury while other people are on the street,” Lionel said.

Judd nodded. “Do you think it’s happened yet?”

It's kind of odd that Lionel would say all this, given that both Rayford and Bucky live pretty comfortably while the unbelievers outside die horribly. I don't think I've seen either the Tribbles or the YTF actually tend to the poor.

The chapter ends with Judd saying "We've gotta do whatever it takes to get home."

And that's my snark for this week.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Z-Van is rapidly becoming a favorite character.

Sorry sorry for the lateness of this post. I had to work Saturday and Sunday and my brain was kind of fried after all those straight hours of Christmas songs. Hell is retail during the Christmas season.

The beginning of this chapter is mostly exposition. Vicki talking about how Token Jew was right about everything and the other members of the YTF asking about what happens next and Vicki explaining while they watch the news. There's nothing really snarkworthy so let's get to Judd's section.

So Judd is traveling with Z-Van and given what we're told about his appearance, it's safe to assume these books are set during the Reagan administration.

This skinny guy with tattoos all over his body and wraparound sunglasses oozed power. He was used to people getting him anything he asked for. Judd had seen him listed as one of the wealthiest men in the world.

As he looked at all the rings in the man’s ears, nose, and lips, Judd felt a mix of contempt and admiration. There was no doubt Z-Van was a good showman and business operator, but he had no friends. His life was filled with drinking, partying, and concerts, but it was empty.

Did I not tell you that Z-Van's a Madonna Dahmer rip-off? Also, am I the only one thinking that Judd's got a case of sour grapes here? Given that the main tenet of RTCism is sit back and wait, he's probably secretly envious of Z-Van, who actually has a life.

Z-Van asks a few questions, which leads to this confession from Judd.

Judd took a deep breath. “Okay, I’ll shoot straight. We’re believers in Jesus Christ, followers of Tsion Ben-Judah, otherwise known as Judah-ites. That group back in Israel is made up mainly of Jewish believers who are telling the world that their only hope for peace is to follow the true God.”

The only hope for peace? Haven't the books made it clear that regardless of whether you convert, Zod's still going to pummel the Earth with back-to-back disasters? Then again, Ellanjay's theology is that Zod's response is basically, "Look at what you made me do!"

So Judd decides to walk Z-Van through RTCianity.

Judd asked Lionel to go to the section on prophecies on the kids’ Web site. “These things were written about two thousand years ago. Everything from the massive, worldwide earthquake to the one we just had in Jerusalem. The Bible even predicted that seven thousand would be killed in that quake.”

And now I'm wishing Aunursa still commented on this blog because right now, I'm going "Cite please?" Where in the Bible does it mention a specific number? Usually when it comes to numbers, the Bible gives a vague "a lot" kind of number.

Judd tries to tell Z-Van that Nicky is going to come back from the dead. Naturally Z-Van laughs at this.

“If Eli and Moishe can come back to life, why not—”

“Those two crazies at the Wailing Wall? Carpathia blew them away days ago.”

“He doesn’t know,” Lionel said.

“God raised them from the dead,” Judd said. “They went right up into the clouds.”

“Wooooo.” Z-Van laughed, moving his finger in a circle in the air. “Then why haven’t they shown that on the news?”

“I was there,” Lionel said. “The GC won’t show the replay because they know it’ll affect people.”

So wait a minute...even with the blackout, you'd think the people there would be talking about it? I'm assuming this book was written before smartphones, with their built-in cameras, became commonplace, but there were still cameras and there is this marvelous place called the Internet where people can discuss this stuff. But my biggest objection is, if Nicky could black-out news of the GT's resurrection, THEN WHY DIDN'T HE BLACK-OUT THEIR PREACHING IN THE FIRST PLACE?! IF DAVID HAYSEED IS AS GREAT A HACKER AS EVERYONE SAYS HE IS, HE SHOULD HAVE FOUND A WAY TO BROADCAST THE RESURRECTION AS WELL!

Z-Van asks Judd and Lionel the old, "If you're so good why weren't you taken?" question, and Judd responds with the age-old "Going to church doesn't make you an RTC any more than sitting in your garage makes you a car" metaphor.

Z-Van mentions his mom really believing in that stuff and naturally, given that pouring salt into emotional wounds is what Jesus would do, they try to zero in on that in order to get him to convert. But Z-Van isn't having any of this bullshit and tells Judd and Lionel to get lost.

Also, apparently I wasn't paying attention because I thought that Z-Van was taking Judd and Lionel back to America but apparently they're going to New Babylon. Why I'm not sure. Frankly it sounds like a stupid idea to go to the anti-Christ's capital city but what do I know.

Sorry for the abbreviated snark but next chapter is long and this snark is already pretty long itself. This will have to tide you over for a bit.