Saturday, February 23, 2013

Cultural Insensitivity Ahoy!

Judd is tossing and turning thinking of what Lionel said. Sometime during the night, he gets up and notices that Sam has left. He wakes Lionel and they search and find a note left under Sam's pillow.

Lionel and Judd,

I know you won’t like this and you may not understand it, but I have to talk with my dad. I keep having the dream and it scares me. One of the verses I’ve read lately is in 1 John. It says, “Such love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear.” So I think God wants me to face this. If I don’t, I’ll live the rest of my life wondering about my dad.
You don’t have to worry about me giving you guys up. The GC can do anything they want, but I’ll never give them any information about the Force.
In case something happens, don’t come looking for me. If I can make it back to you, I will. I still dream about visiting the schoolhouse in the States.
God bless you. Thank you for showing me the truth and for being my friend.
In Christ,

Much as it pains me to admit it, I have to commend Sam: he is actually trying to show Christian Witness unlike the rest of the TF, who are happy to hide and smirk about how they've got it all figured out. Granted, Sam loses a few points in that he's only concerned about a blood relative, but still.

Still, Lionel is pissed and blames Judd. But before they can do anything, there's a knock at the door. They open it, only to find Mr. Stein. For those of you who've forgotten, he and Judd parted ways when Mr. Stein decided to go deeper into Africa to witness. Where in Africa? Wouldn't know because Ellanjay, like so many other hack writers, treat Africa like a monolithic country when in reality it's a continent made up of 54 countries.

Meanwhile, on Vicki's end, the kids are getting a minivan and preparing to go visit other churches. Not much really happens and there's really no snarkable material except that apparently instead of dollars, we have Nicks now. This amuses me because you'd think it'd be easier to just convert to an entirely electronic money system, which would fulfill the Mark of the Beast part of the prophecy, rather than going to the trouble of minting a new monetary system after yourself. But as Fred has so eloquently illustrated in his snarks, Nicky's rather bad at this Supervillain scheme.

But anyway, meanwhile on Judd's end, he and Lionel and Mr. Stein talk about their adventures and before I begin snarking Mr. Stein's testimony, I've got to warn you: if any of you have issues with blood pressure or ulcers or anything aggravated by rage, please have your medications on hand. I don't wanna be responsible for hospitalizing anyone.

So here it goes.

“As I traveled farther into the country, things became spiritually darker. In one village, I noticed there were very few young people. I learned that these people had been terrified by the Rapture of their children. They knew nothing of the true God and believed a spirit had stolen their children in the night.
“So, when the other judgments came—the earthquake, the stars falling from the sky, the darkened sun, and so forth—they believed the spirit wanted their older children. To please this angry god, they planned to sacrifice one child each day.”

That sound you hear is me grinding my teeth. Nice job, Ellanjay, painting an entire continent as a bunch of goat-herding, spear-wielding primatives...Have you ever heard of Nairobi? As in the largest city in Kenya? Believe it or not, Africa does :gasp: have cities, complete with trained professionals. They aren't all a bunch of brutes stirring missionaries in pots.

Though if we are talking about the less-traveled parts of Africa, I can point out that much of Africa is Christian. In fact, in some places, they're so Christian that they persecute witches, thus taking your theology to its logical extreme.

But most importantly, given how much time has past in the Ellanjay universe, and if they've really been sacrificing a child a day, how is it that they still have a population? Or do they think Africans reproduce by dividing in two like flatworms or by budding?

Sorry for the long-winded rant but they hit a nerve.

“I spoke to them and told them that the Great Spirit was almighty God and that he took their children because he was kind and loving. Their sons and daughters who had vanished were safe in heaven.”

That still doesn't change the fact that Zod killed their children. They're children are just as dead as if a nuke had been dropped on them.

But if you're wondering, those silly, superstitious Africans immediately bow towards white man's knowledge the inspiring word of Zod and convert.

Judd then asks Mr. Stein how he got back from Africa. I'm kind of wondering the same thing. I can't help but be marveled at Nicky Rieseferner's infrastructure which manages to withstand several acts of Zod back to back. The entire planet should look worse than post-earthquake Haiti, yet they still have internet, running water, and flights to and from where they need to be.

Next chapter, anyway, Mr. Stein starts to feel that Zod is calling him to go north so he does, winding up in Casablanca. Someone wanna tell Ellanjay that Casablanca looks like this so maybe they'll stop acting like Africa's the darkest continent or something?

Anyway, in Casablanca, he gets hired onto a crew only to discover that they're smuggling heroin and cocaine. Surprisingly, when they discover that Mr. Stein's an RTC (unlike the rest of the YTF, he preaches to anyone within earshot) they don't throw him overboard like real smugglars would do.

A storm breaks out and the men are afraid, but Mr. Stein says that according to the scripture, no one can die during the period following the locust attack. This amuses me and makes me think of that one episode of Family Guy where Peter takes over as Death. Naturally because Peter doesn't want to kill anybody, problems soon arise as people start to think the laws of life and death no longer apply. I can't help but think of something similar happening in the Ellanjay universe. Not to mention, you'd think this might shake a few skeptics. Wouldn't someone be like "Hey I was riddled with bullets in a gang shoot-out yet I'm not dead" and think that's just a little bit odd? It's almost like Ellanjay doesn't think through the consequences of the stuff they throw into their story but that can't be the case. :eyeroll:

Long story short, the entire crew converts and throws their cargo overboard. Now I know my readers are thinking that throwing drugs overboard probably isn't the smartest thing to do, but the nameless crew, still showing more stones than all of the TF put together, decide that they're going to go to Greece to witness to the buyers, believing that no one is so bad that they can't be saved. My response is: what about the anti-Christ? Does this mean if the TF witnessed to him and he converted that Zod's entire plan goes out the window? Or is Nicky Cordillera just puppet who can't do anything except what he's been programmed to do and will be punished for playing the part Zod created him to play?

Anyway, Mr Stein somehow wound up back in Israel and his tale is so inspiring that Judd and Nada decide to have a talk about their future.

Judd nodded. “I want to be just like him. He’s singleminded and won’t let anything get in the way of doing what God wants.”
Nada stared at Judd. “What does that do to us? Am I a distraction?”
Judd smiled. “You’re a good distraction. But I’ve been thinking a lot about Pavel and Sam. Lionel’s called me on this a couple of times and I think he’s right. I’ve let down my friends. Being with you is great. Our friendship means a lot to me, but right now it just seems . . .”
“Yeah, exactly.” Judd paused and looked into Nada’s eyes. “Maybe God wants us to work together. Maybe he wants us apart. I don’t know which it’s supposed to be. But whatever God wants, that’s what I want.”
“I understand,” Nada said. “Me too. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t hurt. I felt like we were growing together. Let’s not tell anyone about this until we’re sure what God wants us to do.”
“Agreed,” Judd said. “Let’s be totally committed to doing what God wants us to do from now on.”

Nada's taking this "I'm dumping you for godly reasons" thing awfully well. Me, I'm starting to wonder if I need to dust off my Ho Yay tag in that Judd seems to care a lot more about what his male friends think of him than what Nada does.

So that's the snark for this week.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Christian Writers=Best Creators of Ho Yay around

Happy Saturday everybody!

Our next chapter begins with Kasim and Nada finally being reunited with their parents. It's really quite dull and I despair of finding anything snarkable about it. Again, the writing in the kids version, while more competent (I wouldn't call it good), leaves you with a dearth of snarkable material.

Meanwhile, at the schoolhouse, apparently the YTF have received all sorts of requests from other RTCs to come visit them. Frankly, given that many of the people they visit, wind up arrested, I'm not so certain they should be so keyed up to have them visit, but what do I know?

Vicki utters this prayer, which sums up Ellanjay's view of RTCianity as a knowledge to be bestowed upon a chosen few.

“And, Lord, we ask you to prepare some people right now, the people you want us to meet. Show us which ones we can trust, which ones want to hear the message, and which ones just aren’t ready.”

But while out, they find other heathens to bring to the schoolhouse. Currently only one is given a name, Connie, which means that the others will probably be treated as an undistinguishable mass; if that's not the case, they'd probably be given names.

Next chapter, Vicki and the others at the schoolhouse are actually showing Christian fellowship by taking care of the unbelievers. Granted they're only doing this so they can unload more "product" on them, which costs them a few Brownie points, but like I said, I wanna throw a parade every time the characters show human decency.

They talk with Z, aka another character you've forgotten about, about using the schoolhouse as a training ground for unbelievers, then they make plans to visit other places in order to witness, though again, someone wanna tell me the point of all this preaching to the choir? They're already believers and they already know about all the horrible shit that Zod's going to bring them, what's the point?

Meanwhile, Sam's been having dreams in which his father forces him to reveal the hiding place of Token Jew. He admits that he had made contact with the hospital his father's staying at, which leads to an argument among the Young Tribbles. Lionel joins in the argument and once again, tell me it isn't dripping with Ho Yay.

Sam nodded and Lionel asked to speak with Judd privately. When they were alone, Lionel said, “You can’t bring him back here and expect him not to wonder about his own flesh and blood. You’d do the same thing if it were your dad.”
“Don’t lecture me,” Judd said sternly.
“I’m not lecturing,” Lionel said. “I’ve been telling you we need to take Sam to the States, but you won’t listen. You’re too . . .”
“Too what?” Judd said.
“You don’t seem with us anymore,” Lionel said. “You’re more concerned with your love life—”
“That’s it,” Judd said. “I don’t have to take this.”
“Maybe I’m wrong,” Lionel said. “Finding Kasim was a good thing, but it just feels like we’ve lost you as leader of the Young Trib Force.”

My earlier statements about Lionel's objections to Nada revolving around not wanting competition for Judd's hand, seems more and more accurate. Ah, Christian Fiction...somehow it's the creators of some of the best unintentional Ho Yay around.

Also, I could point out that isolating a member from loved ones is probably one of the warning signs of a cult rather than pure Christian Love.

Judd says that they currently can't get back to the states and Lionel asks if he'd come if they could, but Judd answers, "I don't know."

At the schoolhouse, all that happens is another conversion scene complete with The Prayer. Given that I've already snarked what feels like a million of those scenes already, I'm going to pass.

I thought about supplying a third chapter, but the chapter after this is hella long with what looks like ripe fodder, so I'm afraid I'll just have to give you an abbreviated snark for the week. Have fun.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

May the Snark be with You

I know you've all been biting your nails raw, just quivering with anxiety wondering how Judd and Kasim and Nada are going to escape, so I'll get right to the point. They do. They sic the locusts on the GC and make their getaway in the confusion.

Meanwhile, the YTF are debating what to do about Chris Traickin. Me, I'm wondering just why the GC haven't already shown up. There's not really much that happens--it's resolved in a pretty boring fashion--but Traickin does say something which makes me fangirl him a little. He's no match for the Power Couple of Awesomeness in terms of awesome, but it is pretty nice.

Basically one of the YTF attempt to convert him by doing a "Zod doesn't want you to suffer which is why he's sending demonic locusts after you" speech, but Traickin says this in response.

“Stop,” Traickin interrupted. “If you’re going to throw me out of here, do it.
Don’t preach.”

I point it out because it's nice to see the YTF called on their BS even if it's only in a small way.

Meanwhile, we finally here from Lionel, who receives an email from Chloe. There's not really much to snark: Chloe basically talks about being pregnant and all the work that comes with putting together the co-op. The only interesting part is the mention of Hattie Durham. Something tells me we're getting close to the part where she gets killed by the sun. Judd, Kasim, and Nada join up with Lionel, they talk but decide to wait on contacting Nada's parents.

Pavel's father shows up and they talk about the memorial service to be held. Apparently the SuperPope is going to be in attendance. And I know I promised not to talk so much about how bored I am, but really, something happen, please!

Next chapter is the funeral and apparently the SuperPope isn't going to be there, just a woman wearing the ceremonial garb of the EBOWF. We can tell the EBOWF is eeeevil because they ordain women. The woman gives a speech that, like all of Nicky Swartberg's speeches, is full of bland pleasantries and cliches, yet all the non-RTCs ooh and aah over. Then Leon Fortunado appears via video link. There's a brief laughable moment where Judd worries that Leon will remember him from his high school graduation as though Leon's going to remember one smart-alecky kid from the thousands of places he's been in the past few years, but Judd has since grown a beard so there's no need to worry. Leon presents Pavel's dad, whose name is Anton, with a certificate of merit in his son's name, then Anton gets up to speak.

Basically, he delivers your standard altar call speech, which isn't worth snarking as I've already snarked those before. The GC, rather than arresting him on the spot and dragging him off to a gulag, generously allow Judd, Sam, Lionel, and Anton time to escape via chartered plane.

Vicki and the others arrive safely back at the schoolhouse and they talk to Omer, who tells them that most of the believers they witnessed to, have been arrested. Omer, having not sipped the RTC flavor-aid, is actually doing something working on a plan in order to smuggle the prisoners out. Vicki's all "They'll kill you," which makes me headdesk. Some resistance group they are, too scared to actually do some resistance. Besides, given that if they die, they get bamfed into Heaven instantly, you'd think that martyrdom wouldn't scare them so badly. Okay, currently Omer is an unbeliever, but still.

He calls Vicki on it and makes yet another Strawman has a Point remark about how all this misery doesn't exactly scream loving God.

I'll throw in a third chapter for you.

Judd and the others pick up Kasim and Nada and they get the heck out of New Babylon thanks to a pilot named Hank Keller. I have no idea if he plays a larger part in the adult books but it seems there's no such thing as a walk-on character given how one-shots keep coming onscreen. Still, I won't waste too much grey matter on remembering his name.

Basically Hank tells his conversion story, which I won't waste too much time on, except for the mention about his RTC dad. Apparently dear ol' dad was a cab driver who was bamfed while driving his cab. He mentions that the couple riding in back survived and I can't help but scream, "If they hadn't they'd be in hell because Zod can't apply the brakes for some reason!" over and over again. Anyway, they arrive in Israel without a hair harmed on their RTC heads.

Meanwhile, at the schoolhouse, they are debating the future of the schoolhouse. Lenore wants to turn it into a hospital/school using the hospital part to treat the non-RTCs, while using the school part to teach those interested about God. But Vicki decides to go talk with Melinda and Janie aka the godless heathens.

Basically, Melinda and Janie have been kept locked in a dark room, which is somewhat understandable--they are a danger to themselves and others--and it would make sense that the kids wouldn't exactly know what to do with someone in their situation. Janie is her usual argumentive self but Melinda is more dour, saying she wished she'd drunk poisoned water like her partner, Felicia. Vicki tries to get them to convert by telling them something worse will happen but when they ask what exactly will happen, she says they're not ready to know.

Mark is not onboard with this hospital/school idea but he's outvoted so Vicki and the others decide to make a run into town to gather people for the school.

The chapter ends with Nada and Judd arriving at her parents' house and that's were I'm going to end my snark. Maybe you'll have better luck snarking this than I did.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

I Predict Nothing Will Happen

Happy Saturday everybody!

Well last week, as y'all would recall, ended on some cliffhangers. This week, we'll finally get some answers and we'll find out just how predictable Ellanjay are.

So Nada fainted as soon as she opened the door. Judd enters in and it turns out a man with dark beard and mustache is in the apartment. The man then proceeds to introduce himself as Kasim.

So okay, turns out Nada's brother isn't really dead. On the day of the quake, he said The Prayer as it happened and faked his death, by throwing his ID badge in the rubble, figuring that it probably wasn't a smart idea to keep working for the anti-christ, which is more sense than either of Ellanjay's Mary Sues have demonstrated. Ever since faking his death, Kasim has been hiding out, too scared to contact his family. Apparently he's afraid the phones/emails might be traced but I can't help but think he's an asshole since the YTF and TF both use phones and emails with nary a thought that they might be tapped. The apartment he's been living in was something Dan had modified for use as a hideout, so he's been hiding in a hideyhole in the floor and eating the food left in the apartment.

But this happy reunion is short-lived: the Keystone Kops GC show up, notice the cold ice-pack on the floor of a seemingly empty apartment, and decide to surround the apartment.

Predictability of Twist: Well, gotta hand it to them, Kasim turning out to be alive is fairly unpredictable. But it loses points because the reader never has a chance of piecing it together: Ellanjay don't bother to plant clues for the reader to gather, then later say, "Oh yeah, that's what that meant." Still, I'll give them points nonetheless.

Now as to the Chris Traickin cliffhanger...

Basically he's riding along asking very pointed questions about the members of their group. Conrad still doesn't trust him, so Chris decides to tell his story. He tells them about how his wife, Dana, was a believer and naturally was slaughtered bamfed into heaven. He says he finally converted when he was given a Bible and a copy of Mere Christianity.

Next chapter, Judd and Nada and Kasim are huddled together in the hideyhole. Kasim realizes that they're likely going to test the ice-pack for prints, which means his cover will be blown unless they get the pack back.

Well, for those of you wondering, it's finally revealed, to the readers at least, that Traickin is dirty. Omer shows up and he speaks into a hidden microphone on his clothing.

Predictability of Twist: Fairly predictable. I mean, they kept saying over and over again how his mark looks weird and the locusts are tailing him, so not too hard to see coming.

Creepy Note: Omer says he's in love and I'm assuming he's referring to Vicki as she's the character he's spent the most time with. My response: That's kind of gross. Though to be fair, I'm not certain how much time has passed in the Ellanjay-verse so I don't know if Vicki's still underage or not.

For those of you on pins and needles, biting your nails to the quick wondering how Nada and Judd are going to deal with the Ice-Pack of Death, here's what happens, Nada goes to switch it with another but gets caught. Poor Nada...starting to wonder if she's the Series' Butt Monkey now that the previous one has died.

Meanwhile on the road, Omer tells the YTF that Traickin is dirty and Vicki takes his protective headgear and throws it out the window. Pete smashes the wire Chris was wearing but Chris, no doubt, rubbing his hands with fiendish glee, says it's too late. But the YTF get him talking by threatening to open the window which would unleash the demon locusts whose bite makes you long for the sweet release of death. So lesson for the kids reading this book: Torture is A-Okay so long as it's done by manly Christians. Yeah, I'm really starting to think this is the favorite reading material of the Bush II administration.

If you're wondering about the mark, Traickin faked it by basing it off of the drawing of a kid from a house church. You'd think it'd be easy to tell the difference between once stamped by God and one smeared with greasepaint but hey, that's just me.

So Nada and Kasim have climbed out of the hideyhole and are listening at the door as the GC question Nada. Kasim says he has a plan and tries to break the windows with a nightstand, but the windows won't break. The chapter ends with the GC saying let us in or we'll shoot the lock because yeah, that's totally how locks work.

Me, I'm rolling my eyes and predicting that this will all come to nothing on both the New Babylon and the American front because the plot armor runs pretty thick for these kids; they never suffer so much as a bruise as a result of what they're going through.