Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Zod-botomy

This snark has been going for about four years, give or take, and I realize that not everyone of my readers can remember all the way back into the single-digit books. So in order to refresh everyone's memories, I'll give a little primer on Tom Fogarty by giving you a sampling of quotes.

For those who remember, Tom was one of the more clear-headed characters. Admittedly, this was probably unintentional given that Ellanjay suck at creating strawmen for their protagonists to knock over, but if you don't believe me, take a look at some of these quotes.

"I was raised in a church where I was taught that God was love, but also that if you died with one sin on your soul, you went to Hell. I couldn't make that compute. I quit the church as soon as I was old enough to make my own decisions. I still carried around in my head the belief that there was a God, but that he was a God of love. Not an angry judge, not a crabby parent. Not someone who would create a person and burn him up later."

Did I not tell you he was one of the more clear-headed characters? Unfortunately, in this week's snark, he will kneel before Zod, say The Prayer, and will promptly lose the shades of gray aspect to his character that makes him so appealing in the first place. But Ellanjay can't abide shades of gray.

Here's another quote, which touches on Theodicy aka Why is there evil in the world if God's supposed to be omnipotent?

"I quit thinking of God as someone who made sense. In fact, I don't know if I believe there is a God at all anymore. How could there be a God, in charge of everything, who would allow the things I've seen? People bludgeoned and mutilated, usually by someone they love and trust. I've seen parents murder their own children, children murder their own parents. I've seen people go through things that no one should ever have to endure. Where is the God in that?"

If you're wondering, Judd's answer to Tom's questions was basically "God left control up to Satan" or as Fred calls it "The Devil Made Me Do It" gospel.

And finally, one last quote from the single-digit books. Sorry to do so much past-quoting but I really liked Tom--not as much as I liked Taylor and Hasina, but still--and I wanted you to see the kind of person, soon to get lobotomized by Zod and become as cold and uncaring as everyone else in this series.

"I'm glad for you that you have something you believe in," Fogarty said. "If it works for you, fine. If it works for Josey, I'll be thrilled. Nobody that wonderful should have to go through what she's going through. It's been a long time since I've seen her come to life the way she did around you kids today. She rarely smiles anymore, but the way you saw her today, that's the way she used to be all the time. But parents aren't supposed to outlive their kids. It's too much to ask of a mother to have her children disappear. And it's happened all over the world. And you want to tell me the loving God of the universe did this on purpose? For what?"

Anyway, what happens in the first part is basically a car chase. Oh and Tom said The Prayer, which once again, I'm not going to bother to quote because it's identical to every other prayer. You gotta note that Tom, even though he had already prayed to God which indicates some belief in him, didn't get the Zod-mark until after he said The Prayer. And Ellanjay wonders why we accuse them of spell-casting!

Next section, we finally cut back to Judd. Judd decides to talk to Chang who's busy directing the mass exodus of believers who had infiltrated Nicky's organization. So it was more than just Our Buck and St. Rayford in the organization? Then why in the name of all that's holy did they not do a damn thing to slow Nicky down? Oh yeah, the gospel according to Ellanjay: Lie back and think of TurboJesus.

The operation is called Operation Eagle based off of a passage in Revelation 12. Let's take a look at their literal translation.

“It comes from a passage in Revelation 12. ‘She was given two wings like those of a great eagle. This allowed her to fly to a place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be cared for and protected from the dragon for a time, times, and half a time.’ Tsion believes the woman represents God’s chosen people. The two wings are land and air, and her place is Petra.”
“How long are people supposed to stay there?”
“Dr. Ben-Judah teaches that ‘a time’ is one year, so ‘a time, times, and half a time’ would be three and a half years of protection.”
“And the dragon is Nicolae?”
“Yes, Antichrist.”

Don't Ellanjay believe their reading of the Bible is the most correct one? Then please tell me, why do they take such an approach to Revelation 12? Could it be that maybe they realize that John was speaking in :gasp: :choke: symbols and metaphors? Of course, he probably was referring to Christians being persecuted by Nero and not talking about some indeterminate point in the future, but still. [/cranky English Major/amateur theologian]

Chang is still whining about The Mark and I feel like smacking him. Enough with this emo-shit already! But anyway, back to Vicki.

Vicki and the others are love-bombing Tom, when they receive another email from Claudia asking for help. In a rare show of intelligence, they decide to send a reply to her rather than make face-to-face contact, realizing that it might be an attempt to trap them.

Second chapter is, well, a lot of buildup to what I'm guessing is the infamous pig-riding scene. I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to it. It sounds like a goldmine of snark.

Judd meets up with Lionel and Sam. Sam is bringing up meeting places where they can talk about Zod. In the book's own words, some are hidden but some are right out in the open. Picard facepalm Once again, Nicky fails basic villainy.

Judd walk around noting the tacky souvenirs (a detail which actually works) and the Orthodox Jews sneering. Once again, I wonder if Ellanjay have heard of :gasp: Reform Jews or any of the many different sects or do they think of them as a bearded collective, like the Borg except less sci-fi.

Most of the chapter is taken up with a newscast, which I will summarize. They talk about the plane crash and how no bodies were found. They believe the bodies were vaporized. Oh and Fortunado's all itchy. Apparently that's news. There's a new guy in charge of the Morale Monitors who now carry actual guns. And in an attempt to convince me that Nicky really is the most evil person on the planet, they have Lionel say this:

“This guy gets more evil every time I hear him. He’s telling his head guys how to kill anyone who opposes him. He wants people to suffer before they die. And even after they’ve been killed, he wants them beheaded as an example to others.”

So yeah, Lionel, you're shocked, shocked that Satan is using violence to deal with threats to his rule? What did you expect, tea and crumpets?

The next section consists of Darrion, who's also watching the news. According to the news, Pete, aka the guy that surrendered to save the rest of the group, spilled the beans about all sorts of stuff. But Mark's all "He's lying" because everyone knows Torture is Ineffective against Brave RTCs. They also receive another email from Claudia who has gone AWOL and is asking for help. She says she's prayed but she doesn't see the Zod-mark Token Jew mentioned.

And that's where I'll leave you this week. Sorry to have such a long post, but stuff needed to be quoted.


Firedrake said...

Y'know, it would be really nice if just once this "literal" reading meant that the "two wings" were a light aircraft or something like that. Or even actual wings!

"Ride the pig! Ride the pig! Ride the pig!"

Quasar said...

Finally caught up after an archive binge.

(More than) a few thoughts, split into several comments because holy crap I type a lot:

- As Fred has said many times, there is so much squandered potential in all these supernatural disasters. Heck, you could probably download a bunch of disaster movies you've never heard of, watch them back to back, and get a far better sense of the setting of Left Behind than Lahaye and Jenkins ever manage to convey. You even get the bonus that people in Disaster Movie 2 wouldn't remember the events of Disaster Movie 1, for the complete Left Behind experience!

(Finish up with Sharknado for a more believable ending than TurboJesus)

- What I want to know is, where are the scientists, pseudo-scientists, science-enthusiasts and just plain ol' nerds? When the sun goes dark, what are the astronomers doing with Hubble? When the magiquakes shakes the world, what are all the geologists finding out when they compare seizmographs? When the demon locusts arrive, how many biologists are capturing and milking them in order to discover the chemical makeup of their venom? Cryptozoologist Christians studing the flying purple people killers, marine biologists trying to work out if any marine life survived the water poisoning, climatologists studying the lingering effects of the megafreeze on hurricanes and stormfronts?

I mean geeze, even I'm curious about whether the rapture simply removed believers leaving a vaccum in their place, or whether it filled in the space their bodies occupied with air. (Given that L&J didn't mention a thunderclap, I'm guessing the latter. But where did that air come from? Did he pull it in from a parallel dimension? Verbalise it out of nothing? I mean geeze, everyone whose seen Star Trek has wondered about how transporters work).

- I want to see fan-art of Kasim in Jedi robes weilding General Jew's lightsaber. Which makes General Jew Obi-Wan, I guess? Or maybe Yoda.

- Holy crap Chaim! When did he go from gullible wet-behind-the-ears omni-scientific biologist to sword-wielding wheelchair-bound badass? I'm now imagining him as Old Hamish from Terry Pratchett's The Last Hero, complete with pimped out wheelchair with skulls and spikes on the wheels.

I also choose to believe his sword is some sort of gigantic enchanted megasword that eats souls.

Quasar said...

- One thing that strikes me about the LB:FK books, is how much stuff the protagonists do *in-between* the actual elements of the plot. They always seem to be flying somewhere or hiding in trunks or infiltrating schools or getting captured or macing themselves in the face (although only minor characters do that because the protagonists are Pretty Pony Princesses who can never be hurt). Always with the getting captured. But then the actual prophetic stuff rolls around and they passively watch it happening on TV.

It reminds me of the quote, not sure who said it: "Every sentence should establish characterisation or advance the plot." But none of this stuff does either of those.

The protagonists are pretty much interchangable for any particular scene (pick any argument between RTC's, swap the characters, and try to imagine whether you would have noticed either of them acting out of character), and what passes for a plot is completely prophesy-driven, with the characters actions having no effect on anything ever.

I suppose this is partly unavoidable: this is a spin-off, afterall. But spin-offs are supposed to tell their own stories. This is just an entire series of filler for the main story.

- Maybe it's the fact that I'm reading a decon, so the whole thing gets sorta compressed, but it seems like the story just can't keep from ramping up the rediculousness of their premise. I mean, okay,
my willing suspension of disbelief can take the rapture and world quake and the sun disappearing. I can even handle the locusts because the mental image is just plain cool (swarms of locusts pouring over the landscape like a tsunami, lit by
fires and street lamps from below).

But then there's fire-breathing witnesses. And lion-headed horses. And the Voice Of God shouting out "COME UP HERE!"

No, seriously. I mean, "Come to me!" or "Return, my children!" might have been appropriately dramatic and pretentious, but "Come up here!"? What, is he scolding Eli and Moses for being naughty?

The Narm is strong with this one.

Quasar said...

- Nicolae's resurrection. He rises from his coffin dracula-style after being head-stabbed by Chaims megasword, thus proving himself an invulnerable demon-like being who may or may not be Satan (spoiler alert! he is). And what dramatic soundbite does he accompany this with? How about "I am risen!" or maybe "I live... again!" or possibly "Not even the shackles of death can hold me!"

Nope. “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”

Satan himsef, people! The Lord Of Darkness' idea of a dramatic rise-from-the-dead quote is "institute a program of loyalty confirmation". No wonder he's such a media darling!

I wonder what's idea of pillow talk is?

"Oh Nicolae, you're so naughty! Tee hee hee."
"Indeed. I instituted a program of enthusiastic eroticism to add significant quantities of endorphin-release to tonights coupling."

... actually, that's kinda hot.

Personally, I would have gone with "braaaaiiiinzzz". Um... that is, in the risen from the dead scenario. I don't think zombie noises are appropriate pillow talk...

... actually, that's kinda hot.

- Wait a second... would you *really* have an open-casket ceremony after being stabbed in the head by a sword? I'd normally expect that to make something of a mess. What happened to that wound, anyway?

- "If the last three and a half years are your idea of tribulation, wait until you endure the Great Tribulation.”

Tiiiiiitle drop!

- "In New Babylon, Judd is walking along, smirking about how he has it all figured out when he's hit by a golf cart. Apparently it's one hell of a golf cart going really fast because it sends Judd flying and he blacks out."


In a better book, that golf cart goes on to become Judds rival and nemesis, pancaking him looney-tunes style whenever he's smirking about nonbelievers being all non-believing.

Eventually this culminates in a rooftop duel, Judd weilding the Sword Of Chaim, Golf Cart sporting a demonic engine upgrade from Nicolae himself (imagine it's got this whole Legion-Voice thing going on, except with engine noises instead of voices). Christian vs Demon Cart. Man vs Machine. Who will win?!

- “Mr. Fogarty, the Bible talks about people being blinded to the truth at this time of history. I don’t know how it works, but it’s clear there’s something supernatural going on that keeps people from believing what’s obvious.”

To be fair, that's entirely accurate in the LBverse, except that the supernatural entity stopping people from believing is the authors.