Saturday, January 31, 2015

Hoping There's A Special Place in Hell for Such Awful Writers

Y'know how I said last week, that I was going to hold back on the rage and profanity, so when Dr. Rose is finally stuffed into the Fridge, my rage would be at its peak? Well for those of you who missed the rage and profanity last week, well this is the week it comes back. Just you wait, it's coming.

So Judd, being an idiot, sees Lionel missing and leaps to this conclusion: the GC found him, chopped off his arm, and dragged him away so they could guillotine him. Yeah, because that totally makes sense. The GC would totally go to all that trouble for one punk teenager as opposed to just emptying several rounds of ammunition into him.

Thankfully, Dr. Rose is here to serve as the bastion of sanity in this universe, pointing out to Judd that hello, there are only one set of tracks and a trail of blood.

They follow the trail of blood and find Lionel.

It was the most wonderful and terrible sight Judd had ever seen. The young man who had been with him since the start of the Young Tribulation Force—Lionel Washington, the strong, resourceful, solid, and steady member— stumbled out from behind a rock, his right arm held up in a wave, his shirt covered with blood. Judd’s belt was still tightly wrapped around what was left of Lionel’s left arm.

Woo...Though since when has Lionel ever been "the strong, resourceful, solid, and steady member" of the YTF? The only times I can remember him demonstrating any personality traits (and need I remind you, being Black doesn't count as a personality trait.) was in the early books when he was such a jerkass to Ryan that I kept hoping Ryan would snap and beat Lionel to death with his own Bible. But in subsequent books, it's been forever since he demonstrated any personality traits.

You also gotta wonder how Judd would describe Vicki if asked to. Probably refer to her as "the one with boobs" because being female is also a personality trait according to Ellanjay.

Anyway, Dr. Rose continues to be a caring physician, giving Lionel pain medication, as he and Judd carry him to Dr. Rose's car.

Lionel passes out when he's loaded into the car. Judd decides to do what everyone should do in a crisis and picks up the phone and calls Vicki. For those of you who don't remember, Vicki's idea of getting help for Lionel was not to call every Tribble she could think of to help organize search parties; her ideas of help was to think happy thoughts in Lionel's general direction. Anyway, they talk and it's really boring and unsnarkable, so let's fast-forward.

Dr. Rose doesn't take Lionel to the hospital, because he knows what would happen if Judd and Lionel showed up there without Marks. Dr. Rose instead takes Lionel to his house and starts treating him there. While Dr. Rose treats Lionel...well for those of you who were biting your nails raw wondering when we were going to get more Exciting!TV!Watching!Action, well don't worry. Judd takes time to flip on the TV.

The world was still in awe of the miracle workers. These false messiahs performed miraculous deeds for the sick, diseased, maimed, and disabled. One program featured a collection of video clips from around the world. After a miracle had been performed, the video made sure viewers knew this was all done by Nicolae’s power.

Okay, like I said before, I did fast-forward through Vicki and Judd's conversation, but now I feel a need to bring up a point mentioned in said conversation. Basically it's told through narration with Vicki filling in what had happened in Wisconsin. Judd then narrates that he couldn't believe how God had answered their prayers.

To which I say, how did God answer your prayers? Lionel had to hack off his arm with a pocket knife and probably would have died if it weren't for the efforts of a heathen. God didn't save your asses; Man did!

Not to mention, once again, God uses his supernatural powers to kill everyone, which is seen as a good thing. Whereas Nicky uses his supernatural powers to save people, and that's seen as a bad thing! No, that will not stop pissing me off.

We do get a cameo appearance from Z-Van, which makes me smile. I thought for certain they had shuffled him off-screen to whatever nether-space characters in this series go when they're not being mentioned. But for those wanting more bad lyrics, Z-Van's appearance is basically a cameo.

In fact, what happens is at the concert, we get a visit from two angels, one named Christopher and the other, Nahum. Because Ellanjay haven't overused that plot device--having angels appear, deliver a message, and leave without accomplishing Jack--at all. It's entirely fresh and original to anyone not suffering from Anterograde Amnesia.

As you guessed, nothing was accomplished by the angels' visit. All they did was show up, do a variation on "You need to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior," and leave.

I admit that, despite wanting to, I've held back on the salty language thus far. Don't worry; I'll soon stop.

Judd turns off the TV. Dr. Rose comes in and gives a rundown on Lionel's condition. Lionel's fine but take care of him so he doesn't get an infection. Then Dr. Rose asks, "You really know where my wife and baby are?"

Judd nods. Then Dr. Rose points at his Mark and says, "And because of this I'm not going?"

Judd nods again and I feel the need to post the entire end to this chapter. I try to avoid doing bigass quotes, but sometimes, in order to truly appreciate just how FUCKING AWFUL this book is, sometimes you need bigass quotes. Besides, I'm a firm believer in Misery Loves Company.

“I don’t get it. I’ve tried to help people. You’d think God would take that into account.”

“It’s not about doing good things.”

Before Judd could explain more, the doctor moved into the shadows. “I guess I had my chance.” His voice cracked as he spoke again. “Do me a favor, would you?”

“If I can.”

“Assuming you make it to where my wife and baby are, would you tell her I love her?”

The man’s voice trailed off, and he whispered something Judd couldn’t hear. It was clear he was in despair, and Judd wanted to say something to make him feel better, but what? What could he say to someone facing eternal separation from God and the people he loved?

Dr. Rose picked up the phone and dialed a number. “Judy, it’s Pat. I’m taking a couple of days off. I really need to be away. Don’t try my beeper or phone.” He put the phone down, climbed the stairs, and Princess followed, whimpering. The door closed.

Judd grew tired. He found a pillow in the living room and carried it to the stairs leading to the basement.

The gunshot startled him. It came from Dr. Rose’s bedroom. He dropped the pillow and took the stairs three at a time. Judd stopped at Dr. Rose’s door and shook his head. He didn’t look inside. He knew what he would find.


You have no idea how long I've scoured YouTube, trying to find the perfect clip to sum up the rage I'm feeling right now. I'm starting to think there isn't one. So, I'll provide two clips that kind of illustrate my reaction to this part: Here's a G-Rated Version. And for those of you less easily offended, the Uncensored Version.

And now, I'll do what you've all come to expect of me: get into an all-caps screaming rant.



Sorry about that. I think I've officially used up my yearly allotment of F-bombs and it's only the end of January. Heaven help us...

Though now that I've calmed down somewhat, we can play a game I like to play when faced with shitty art: Discontinuity For those unfamiliar with this game or too lazy to click on the link, in Discontinuity, basically you take the parts of canon you like, work with those, while ignoring the parts of canon you don't like. For example, let's go with the Donner ending to Superman II. Unlike the official ending, the Donner ending has a real sense of pathos with Superman and Lois Lane breaking up, whereas the official ending has the Amnesia Kiss, a truly stupid Asspull. Or for more examples, many people cling to the theory that Zion in The Matrix trilogy is simply a backup program created by the machines to convince the rebels that they've woken up and not fallen further down the rabbit hole. Or Anakin Skywalker was consciously or unconsciously manipulating Padme's emotions using the Force, which would totally explain all the inconsistencies in her behavior.

That's the beauty of discontinuity: when things don't go your way, throw out what doesn't work. Regarding the LB-verse, I've currently decided that Dr. Rose didn't actually shoot himself, but he knows that punk Judd won't leave him alone unless Judd thought he was safely damned for all eternity, so Dr. Rose fired into the ceiling, slipped out a window and he will soon meet up with Taylor, Hasina, and Joel, and together they'll mount a massive war against the Heavens. If nothing else, I imagine Judd dying and the LB-version of Dives and Lazarus plays out with Dr. Rose standing at God's side while Judd burns. Think of it as being similar to the afterlife I imagine for Fred Phelps, where he dies and sees Matthew Shepherd and Debbie Valgos standing at God's right side.

Yeah, I know, only one chapter, but I've reached my limit for this week. I need to drown my sorrows in whatever I can find. It's times like this, I shake my head and marvel at the guy who inspired this blog: Fred Clark aka Slacktivist. Because given that the wrongness in LB: the Kids is mild compared to the wrongness of the adult books...yeah, not going to say more.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Wussiest Version of 127 Hours Ever

Well, I got some good news and bad news. Good news is I've read through a couple of the chapters for this week and from the looks of it, while none of it qualifies as good, at least you don't have to worry about me overusing the f-bomb to the point where it loses all meaning/power. Bad news...well for all those who predicted bad things would happen to Dr. Rose, despite him being a decent human being and a caring physician, well, I read ahead and you're right. But that's not in this week's selection so for now, I'm in the clear. Right now, I'm marshaling up all my profanity to save for that moment, so that when we get there...think of it being like starving a junkyard dog for weeks until it attacks everything that moves. I want my hate to be pure and unadulterated when the time comes.

Okay, lengthy disclaimer out of the way, onto business.

The chapter begins with Lionel, aka the only one of the main characters currently in a dramatically compelling situation right now. Part of me wonders if he's inherited the position of YTF Butt Monkey or if the fact he's the only one who suffers actual harm (but not irreversible harm) as a result of the Apocalypse...if it has something to do with him being Black. After all, you don't have to be a Horror Movie Buff to know that things generally don't work out for Black People in horror movies.

Again the chapter starts off fairly compelling with Lionel being in pain, miserable, and scared, as he wonders about Judd, checks his supplies, and all that. But it very quickly devolves into silliness. Don't believe me? Try to read the next quote without laughing.

Lionel watched a cotton-candy cloud float through the sky. He closed his eyes and looked again, studying the shape. It looked like a face, with two eyes and a nose. Suddenly, Lionel saw Nicolae Carpathia’s face, the old devil himself looking down. Nicolae looked like he was laughing.

I'm going to assume Lionel is hallucinating due to pain/blood loss because I don't recall "cloud control" being one of the Anti-Christ's powers. Not to mention, the egotism in assuming that someone as powerful as Nicky would give a rat's ass about some teenager suffering on the North American continent and decide to punk with him just for kicks. Besides he's got his country's 500th anniversary to plan, his wedding to arrange, his wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it; he's swamped.

The next paragraph is less funny as Lionel thinks about how he was before he accepted Jesus Christ. For those too lazy to go through several years worth of posts, before he accepted Jesus, Lionel was an ordinary thirteen-year-old kid who thought about a lot of stuff and just went through the motions regarding church. It's really sick in that once again, an ordinary kid is dumped on and made to feel worse than Hitler because he's an ordinary kid. That was one of the reasons that documentary "Jesus Camp" was so off-putting, even to believers. You think scenes of kids evangelizing at a bowling alley or speaking in tongues would be cute or funny, but yeah, it comes across as sick as they're berated and beaten down for being kids.

After that moment of self-flagellating, Lionel perks up, reminding himself that he's on the right side and how he'll be laughing his head off when the heathens are burning in Hell.
Okay it's not quite that bad--exaggerating for comedic effect here--but it is pretty bad.

Lionel's section ends with him hearing the sound of an engine.

Judd, meanwhile, has arrived at the hospital with Dr. Rose. Dr. Rose, considering to be an awesome person, agrees to let Judd stay in his car, while he goes inside and takes care of a patient. He even leaves Judd the keys, though warns him that if Judd takes off with his car, he'll report him to the GC. I suppose that should count as a Kick the Dog moment but I still think that Dr. Rose is being way too nice to that little punk, Judd. He's helping him out and rather than just stuff him in the trunk, which is what I totally would do, he's given him the keys to his car so Judd can make himself comfortable. In short, Dr. Rose is currently the only decent human being in this universe and he'll eventually pay the price for it.

Judd searches for stuff in the doctor's car and we cut to Vicki.

Vicki talks with Wanda Whatshername about Cheryl and baby Ryan. Wanda tells Vicki that it's important that they make Cheryl eat or drink something, because even though the baby will be raised by the Fogartys, he'll still need his mother's milk, given that formula is difficult to find on the black market.

We then segue into Wanda's Conversion story because Ellanjay really love the overused plot device where the characters dish out their backstories in large expository lumps. I'll give the short version: Wanda made a living, helping to deliver babies. On the night of the Rapture, she was at a hospital assisting with a birth. The woman in question eventually required a C section, but just as the doctor lifts the baby out and says, "You have a beautiful baby girl," both the baby and the doctor are slaughtered bamfed into Heaven, leaving behind the baby's umbilical cord and the doctor's clothes.

Like I've said before, many moments of this series has great horror movie potential. I find myself reading Wanda's recitation of the events and thinking about how a truly great horror writer like Stephen King would handle this scene. Because the elements are all there for a great horror scene, especially with the bereaved unnamed mother screaming and asking what they've done with the baby. But the trouble is, Ellanjay don't realize they're writing horror.

Fred Clark said something similar to those lines in one of my favorite posts about the Left Behind series: What Would Rayford Do? (Do the Opposite). He points out, correctly, that if Rayford Steele was a creation of conscious artifice or in other words, written by authors who recognized what an unpleasant asshole he is, than the Left Behind series would be a masterpiece. But since the authors themselves seem to be as wrapped in delusion as Rayford himself is, the whole series fails at everything it sets out to accomplish.

It's the same with Horror. Writing great Horror fiction requires an ability to recognize Horror for what it is and an understanding of people. Plus you have to have some sympathy for the victims, which Ellanjay clearly don't. Say what you will about Stephen King, but he does have an understanding of Horror and how the survivors are often left more damaged than the dead. I don't like everything Stephen King wrote (it's kind of obvious that he was coked out of his gourd when he wrote Tommyknockers) but still.

As you probably guessed, what eventually happened to Wanda is, she started reading her Bible, and eventually came to Love Big Brother accept Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.

The rest of the chapter is spent switching between Judd and Lionel's perspectives as Judd waits and waits for Dr. Rose and Lionel hears what sounds like a GC search party approaching him. The chapter ends with Dr. Rose, continuing to be a mensch, by giving Judd food and telling him he'll back as soon as he can.

The next chapter begins with Lionel listening as the sound of the GC search party draws closer. Nothing really to snark except that I've got to admire the GC's ability to say the phrase "Tribulation Force" without busting a gut laughing afterwards, especially when you consider the brave acts of defiance that the Tribbles have done in this series. Those disdainful looks/comments they give every now and then, really hurt Nicky's feelings. I know by the Tribbles's own admission that they can't do anything to thwart the all-mighty prophecies, no matter how convoluted they might be, but that didn't necessarily mean that they couldn't be actually doing something like feeding those left hungry as a result of all the dead crops (poisoned water, remember?), tending to the injured following the latest earthquake/nuking, and sheltering the homeless. But that would require actual hard work, pain, and sacrifice, which would take time out of their busy schedule of looking down on people and thinking about how they've got he it all figured out.

Lionel calls Vicki and the next section is from her perspective.

Vicki is horrified as Lionel talks about cutting off his arm. Here's his quote:

“I can’t remember what Jesus was teaching there, but I figure it’s better for me to be able to live without my arm than to stay here and die or get caught by the GC.”

Yeah, once again, what doesn't matter where and when and how Lionel dies? Lionel's said The Prayer. No matter what way he dies, of blood loss after hacking off his arm with a pocket knife, of exposure after being trapped out in the wilderness for days, or after being tortured to death by the GC...all those deaths definitely fall into the not fun category, but given that Lionel's said The Prayer and will be bamfed into Heaven, which is known for its high levels of Bliss. No matter which way it ends, Lionel has confirmation that he'll spend his days bathing in the light of the Undying Lands, so yeah, why his he so afraid of Death?

Besides, ever hear of a verse called Luke 17:33? For those not as educated in the gospels or too lazy to google, here's the verse in question.

Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.

You think Ellanjay with their hard-on for Christian Martyrdom would be all about that verse. But it's clear: they want the cheap vicarious thrills of martyrdom without actually having to go through with the martyrdom part.

But despite Vicki's protests, Lionel's determined to hack off his arm so she puts Wanda on the line to walk him through it, seeing as Wanda's the only one available who has any medical training.

So what follows is the Ellanjay version of 127 hours with Wanda coaching Lionel through the whole messy procedure. Unlike 127 hours, though, the pain and horror of this scene is only briefly touched on. In fact, most of this scene is told from Vicki's perspective as she paces around the hideout, wrings her hands, and prays. :headdesk: Again, a great dramatic opportunity squandered. In fact, I'm going to post the amputation scene from 127 hours just so you can see how Ellanjay fail. Granted I know comparing a movie and a book is the proverbial apples-and-oranges comparison, because movies are an audio/visual medium and the audience can only experience it through sight and hearing, whereas books can touch on all senses. But even still, Ellanjay fail. I mean, Ellanjay you couldn't have actually written about Lionel cutting at his arm, seeing the blood, feeling the pain, and freaking out?! You had to cut to Vicki, whose currently just thinking nice thoughts in Lionel's direction? I confess I haven't read the book that formed the basis for the movie 127 Hours but I imagine that even though the author, Aron Ralston, is a more an athlete than a writer...even he could probably write the scene in a way that makes it dramatically compelling and conveys the horror and pain of it all.

The Vicki section ends with one of the Tribbles, Marshall coming in and saying, "It's over." Naturally given their natural talent for being able to choose the best viewpoint from which to tell a scene, we don't cut back to Lionel. Instead, we cut back to Judd. He and Dr. Rose have finally left the hospital and are speeding off to go rescue Lionel. Judd thanks Dr. Rose for not turning him in. Dr. Rose, continuing to be awesome, says, "You can thank me when we rescue your friend." I know I shouldn't have shared that bit of small talk with you, but given what ends up happening to Dr. Rose...yeah, felt it was needed.

The chapter ends with Judd finally reaching the place where Lionel was trapped and gasping. I think that's a good place to leave you for this week. As always thanks for reading and feel free to leave your comments, good or bad, on this post. Hope you all have a happy rest of the week.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Kindness of the Damned

Having fooled the The Keystone Kops GC with his ingenious "They went thataway!" ruse, Judd is on the run, trying to find help for Lionel. Eventually he finds a road leading to a town and though he and Lionel had avoided the main roads, Judd realizes that he has to take the chance if he's going to get help for Lionel. He finds a sign pointing towards a hospital and heads in that direction. Me, I'm breathless with anticipation wondering what BS excuse Judd's going to come up with in order to hide his lack of a Mark. Because y'know the hospital will probably check. Let me guess, what'll probably happen is he'll pull down a hat and be like, "Uh, yeah, I totally have the Mark" and since the GC have never heard of lying, it'll totally work.

Anyway, we cut to Lionel. Lionel is still trapped under a boulder. While wondering about Judd, his phone rings. He answers it and it's Vicki. They proceed to have an awfully cheery conversation, when you take into account that one of the participants is stranded out in the wilderness with a massive boulder on his arm and no food and they haven't even mentioned the water situation.

Anyway, towards the end of this ridiculously cheery conversation, we finally find out what our stalwart heroine, Vicki, has been doing to try to help Judd and Lionel.

“I had Conrad put out a message on the Web site—”
“No. I don’t want to alert the GC.”
“We didn’t give your location. We just put out an SOS so people could pray.”

The record-scratch sound effect seemed the most appropriate way of describing my reaction.

That's what you've been doing Vicki?! The physical and mental equivalent of posting something on your Facebook feed or on Craigslist or whatever and going, "Hey my friend is in life-threatening danger somewhere out in the wilderness. Could you please think some nice thoughts in his direction as opposed to organizing search parties or doing anything that would actually help? kthnxbye." FUCK YOU, VICKI! YOU HAVE A GENERAL IDEA OF WHERE LIONEL MIGHT BE AND YOU'RE NOT EVEN TRYING TO PROVIDE ANY KIND OF SUBSTANTIAL AID! NOT GOING ORGANIZE SEARCH PARTIES OR ANYTHING AT ALL! VICKI, I AWARD YOU NO POINTS AND MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON YOUR SOUL! [/ragedump]

Okay, now that I've gotten some of my rage out of my system, I'll provide some slightly less profanity-laden criticism. I suppose maybe the reason Vicki isn't on the phone with every Tribble who might be able to help is because maybe she finally realized that using websites and cell phones to communicate with your rebels-in-arms when you're hiding from an enemy who controls all the infrastructure involved with those things, is a damn stupid idea. I would go with that excuse except WE'VE WATCHED THE TRIBBLES BLATANTLY USE CELL PHONES AND POST SHIT ON THE INTERNET WITHOUT EVER GIVING ANY THOUGHT TO GC MONITORING! AND NOW WHEN A COMRADE IS IN LIFE-THREATENING DANGER, WHEN IT MIGHT DO SOME REAL GOOD, NOW VICKI'S AFRAID OF MAKING CONTACT WITH OTHER TRIBBLES?!

:deep breath:

Vicki hangs up and Lionel is alone again. He finds himself looking at his trapped arm and his knife and wondering if he should cut off his arm. My response: yes, Lionel you should. Since your friends' idea of helping you consist of abandoning you when you need them most and occasionally thinking nice thoughts at you, you should. In fact, I'm starting to wonder if you've taken Ryan's place as the Butt Monkey in this series.

But Lionel decides to wait for Judd.

Judd finally reaches the hospital parking lot. He notices all the expensive vehicles including a Humvee, watches and listens in on a doctor treating a patient. He hides in the parking lot, waiting for a doctor to emerge.

Judd's genius plan for getting a doctor? Well, basically he slid a pipe under the Humvee's tires. When the doctor goes to check, Judd ambushes him and begs him to help his friend. And if you thought I was done with ragedumps for this week, just you wait. If you're wondering the doctor, whose name is Patrick Rose, has the Mark, but he does agree to help Judd, taking him to his home.

Next chapter, Judd is in Dr. Rose's house. Dr. Rose, by now, has realized that Judd doesn't have the Mark and has made the obvious conclusion. Yet rather than just pick up the phone, turn Judd in, and collect the reward money, Dr. Rose continues to be very nice to him, feeding him an omelet and fresh OJ. Granted, at first, I was headdesking at all this because Judd never thinks for a moment that it could be drugged or poisoned or something, just jumps right in and starts eating, but given what we later learn about Dr. Rose in the chapter...yeah, soon you'll be grinding your teeth along with me.

As, Judd eats, he and Dr. Rose talk.

“So, are you a Judah-ite?”
“What difference does it make? If I don’t have the mark you can take me to the GC and get your reward.”
Dr. Rose glanced around the kitchen. “Does it look like I need money?”
“You’re not going to turn me in?”
Dr. Rose took a mouthful of food and sat back. “I became a doctor so I could help people. And I’ve never been impressed with Nicolae, though he did bring sanity when the world fell apart. Coming back from the dead was nothing short of a medical miracle, but I can see through the act.”
“You don’t think Nicolae is god?”
“Maybe he is. Maybe he isn’t. At the end of the day, it doesn’t do much for my patients. Which brings us to your friend.”

So as you can tell, Dr. Rose is a nice, caring physician, WHO IS GOING TO SUFFER FOR ALL ETERNITY BECAUSE OF A STUPID TATTOO EVEN THOUGH HE'S DOING WHAT THE TRIBBLES ONLY TALK ABOUT DOING, HELPING PEOPLE! But I should parcel out my ragedumps a little more carefully because it's going to get worse for him, much worse.

We get a brief interlude with Lionel. It's started to rain and Lionel's desperately praying, trying to figure out what he should do. In the hands of even an adequate writer, this could be a great, dramatic scene. All the elements are there: an injured, abandoned teenager panicking and trying desperately to figure out what to do next. But as you probably guessed, Lionel's emotional state is only briefly touched upon. Remember if Ellanjay actually showed how horrible the Apocalypse would be for those who didn't say The Prayer, not only would that cut back on all the fun of Haw-hawing as those sinners burn, but their RTC fanbase might :gasp: start asking questions about how all this suffering, inflicted by God, lines up with their assertation that their God is a loving god. We can't have that!

We then get this moment after Lionel prays yet again:

Lionel thought about his prayer. God was his strength. It would take God’s power to move the stone. Unless …
Maybe the reason God hadn’t sent an angel or brought Judd back was because God wanted Lionel to act. Did God want to show his strength through Lionel’s weakness? God winds up showing his strength by not helping Lionel, instead forcing Lionel to cut off his own arm in order to free himself?! HOW IN ANYBODY'S NAME DOES THAT MAKE SENSE?!

It's like a said before: in this series, no matter what, God gets credit for all the good and none of the bad. If a firefighter races into a burning building and rescues a dozen children, that was God acting through him. If a gunman rushes into a building and kills a dozen children, there's blather about free will and how it's totally not God's fault.

The section ends with Lionel looking at his knife and asking God to make it clear whether he should wait for Judd or do something else.

Now we cut back to Dr. Rose and Judd. The section begins with a truly infuriating passage, but I warn you, it is only going to get worse.

Judd couldn’t understand why Dr. Rose was acting like a friend. Could Judd trust anyone with the mark of Carpathia? The man’s eternal destiny was sealed, so there was no sense explaining the truth of God and the Bible. And yet, the man didn’t seem concerned that Judd was an enemy of the Global Community.

Y'know if Ellanjay or whoever wrote this series had some FUCKING CONSISTENCY, it might work. Ellanjay believe that the world can be divided into two groups: the Saved and the Hardened Reprobates Who Deserve to Burn. Fine, but in order for this to work, YOU HAVE TO ACTUALLY SHOW THE HARDENED REPROBATES AS BEING COMPLETE AND TOTALLY UNREDEEMABLE ASSHOLES! But it's already been shown that Dr. Rose, despite having the Mark that damns you forever no matter what you do, is a kind, caring physician. He's willing to help Judd and Lionel and he's stated that he doesn't believe Nicky's BS. SO THE FACT THAT HE'S DAMNED FOR ALL ETERNITY REALLY PISSES ME THE FUCK OFF!

But then again, that seems to be a common thread among ex-Fundamentalists. Those who were raised in the strictures of Fundamentalism and eventually left, often talk about what made them decide to leave, and this whole division of the world into The Saved and The Damned, often plays a huge part. There are countless examples, but right now, I'm thinking of the account of Carolyn Jessop. Carolyn Jessop was raised within the confines of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints and like many of Christian Fundamentalist backgrounds, she grew up hearing about how the world outside the faith is evil and wants to hurt the true believers. At 18, she was married off to an older man in the community who had three wives already and proceeded to endure one high-risk pregnancy after another. Her seventh child (she eventually had a total of eight children) was born with special needs. By this point, she had already started to have her doubts about her faith, but it was the kindness of the doctors, who helped changed her mind. She talks about how the doctors were always so compassionate and kind to her and her children, despite their beliefs, showing sympathy towards her struggle to raise her kids, while her fellow believers in the faith, scoffed at her and told her that her child's health problems were her fault for being an unfaithful wife.

So for those going tl;dr, it was the kindness of the Damned, as opposed to the cruelty of the Faithful, was what eventually led her to take her chances in the outside world.

Okay back to the story.

Dr. Rose collects more information on Lionel's condition from Judd and finally states the obvious: that at this point, Lionel is going to lose his arm. The only question is whether they'd be able to save the rest of him. Judd asks "Why are you helping me?" and we get this response.

“I figure, if you’ve made it this far, and if you’re willing to risk your life for your friend, you deserve a chance. The GC may catch you. That’s none of my business. My job is to help anybody I find who’s hurt.”

The only justifiable response to this is the gnashing of teeth and the shouting of "Fuck you!" over and over again. Because as said before, Dr. Rose is actually helping people, while the Tribbles hide in their hole-in-the-ground and talk about it. YET GUESS WHICH ONE IS DAMNED FOR ALL ETERNITY TO A PLACE OF UNIMAGINABLE TORMENT?!

Since Dr. Rose had mentioned having a wife at some point, Judd, being a compassionate RTC, decides to ask about her. Turns out, as you probably guessed, that Dr. Rose's wife, along with their unborn child, was slaughtered by God during the Rapture, while he was doing a shift at the hospital. Dr. Rose continues to be a sympathetic character as he talks about all the chaos of that night.

Judd's like "What do you think happened?" And Dr. Rose, continuing to be in the lead for the Gold Medal in the Sympathetic Character Olympics, says that he's heard a lot of theories, but it doesn't really matter because he knows they're not coming back. Which, again, is a sensible response. As Fred has mentioned in his posts, Ellanjay make big deal about how those raptured aren't actually dead, but it's hard to see the difference. Gone is gone, whether they were whisked away like Elijah or crashed the car.

Judd's like "I know where they are" but Dr. Rose gives a mild "STFU." There's silence for a bit, but then Dr. Rose is like "All right, so where are they?" After asking a few more questions about the doctor's late wife, Judd launches into his spiel about how Jesus died for your sins and all that. Dr. Rose is like "Yeah, yeah," but then asks about whether they'll see their loved ones again, oh and brace yourselves for what's to come. Marshal up all your rage and profanity because believe me, you're going to need it.

Judd pursed his lips. “Those who accept the gift God offers will see those who disappeared again. That’s one of God’s promises.”

:grinds teeth: In the interest of prying a truffle out of a pig's snout, let me point out that Judd is resisting the urge to go "Nah nah nah! I'm saved and you're not!" That's something isn't it.

Dr. Rose responds by slamming on the brakes, sending Judd forward, and proceeds to chew him out.

“That’s what frosts me about you people. You’re so sure about everything, and it’s all in the future. Someday you’ll do this, and someday God’s going to make everything better. At least Carpathia does stuff for us right now.”

Not a bad smackdown, though Dr. Rose could also point out that according to Judd, GOD IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL THE SHIT AND MISERY THAT'S HAPPENING WHILE NICKY TRIES TO HELP PEOPLE! but I'll take what I can get.

Judd's like "Nicky's the enemy of God" and starts to say that those who take his Mark are damned, to which Dr. Rose is like "so they don't get a chance at your little after-death party?" Judd's like "I'm just telling you what I believe. If you wanna turn me into the GC, go right ahead."

Dr. Rose, continuing to be sympathetic, is like "If I wanted to do that, believe me, your head would be rolling on the ground." He then asks, "What does your Bible say about me?"

And here's Judd's response:

Judd took a breath. “Taking the mark of Nicolae and worshiping his image means you’ve made your choice.”

I've thought and thought and scoured YouTube but I can't find the right clip to adequately illustrate just how much I hate Ellanjay and their dumbass beliefs. Okay this clip kind of illustrates my reaction to this scene, but still.

I must point out that even after all this, Dr. Rose doesn't do what I would do, which is shove that little sanctimonious turd out of a moving car or rat him out to the GC. What happens after Judd said all that is Dr. Rose receives a page. He makes a phone call and makes a U-turn back to the hospital. According to him, a GC official was ambushed by rebels and the hospital needs his help to patch him up. Judd's like "Can someone else do it?" and Dr. Rose says that the head of the hospital asked specifically for him and wouldn't take no for an answer. Judd asks "What about Lionel?" and finally, Dr. Rose, whom I'm starting to wonder if I should dub him Dr. Awesome, says this:

“So that’s his name, huh? Lionel will have to hold out until we can get to him.” Dr. Rose scowled. “Of course, if we don’t get to him in time, God’ll just take him to heaven, right?”

Gotta give the good doctor credit: he really does have the RTCs' number here. It doesn't matter if he does anything to help Lionel because as said before, Lionel's said The Prayer so no matter what he does, he'll get into Heaven. The RTCs love to boldly proclaim that they aren't afraid of dying, but their boasts ring awful hollow.

:massages temples:

I thought the fact that they had shuffled Joel and Aron off-screen meant that there wouldn't be as many infuriating, blood pressure raising passages in this book. I was wrong. Sorry about all the anger, bitterness, and profanity. I'll try to be more snarky next week, but I can make no guarantees.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

It's a Whatever-I-Don't-Really-Care!

Sorry, sorry...Had a lot to do yesterday and didn't get around to posting a snark. I hope you'll find it in your hearts to forgive me.

So Lionel's all freaking out, going "Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?" Okay, to be honest, there's only one snake, but y'know what, I can't pick on Lionel too much for freaking out. If I was in the situation he was in, stranded in the wilderness, with my arm pinned under a massive boulder...I'd totally lose my shit. In fact, given that I lose my shit under ordinary circumstances, I don't even wanna think about what I'd do under extraordinary ones.

He freaks out, praying and hoping the snake isn't poisonous, until a fox comes along and chases it away.

There's a brief interlude with Vicki. There's really not much to snark; it's just everyone freaking out as they try to help Cheryl, who is in labor. There is mention of her communicating, via email, with a midwife named Wanda. I'm going to assume Wanda has been mentioned before at some point and didn't just come way the hell out of nowhere. I tried browsing both Wikipedia and the Left Behind wiki but neither was any help. Yeah, it'd mean I'm being a bad reader in that I completely forgot about the existence of a character, but like I said before, given that the characters in this series have no distinguishing features of any kind, I think y'all can cut me a little slack here.

I do have one last quibble before we move back to Lionel. In this scene, Vicki's timing Cheryl's contractions with a stopwatch and notes that the interval between contractions is becoming further apart which makes me o_O because I thought as labor progressed, the contractions became closer and closer together, becoming stronger and more frequent. I tried reading Wikipedia's page on Childbirth, but I'm still confused on that point. I'm starting to think there are limits to what Wikipedia can teach you. Could someone with more knowledge help me out here so I can decide whether or not to add Childbirth to the long list of things Ellanjay know nothing about?

Anyway back to Lionel. Lionel is watching the fox, being like "Good fox, nice fox," sort of deal. He offers the fox his sandwich in order to get it to hang around and wonders whether the fox is an angel sent by God in disguise. Yeah, I know, kind of silly, but given the circumstances, I'll allow it. Besides, shortly after he thinks this, Lionel shakes his head and thinks the blood loss has to be affecting his theology.

Next, we hear from Judd. Woo... [/sarcasm] Anyway, Judd's running around trying to get back to the Salem hideout in order to get help for Lionel. Which of the many Salems in the United States is he trying to get to? I have no idea. I really stopped caring about Judd and Lionel's Excellent Adventures through America a long time ago. For all I know, they could be in Timbuktu. In fact, you may think this is crazy but I have a sneaking suspicion that the only reason they didn't just reunite Judd and Vicki, instead opting to have this long adventure of them trying to get to each other, is so they could pad out the novel. Padding in an Ellanjay series? Surely you can't be serious! Yeah, the fact that both Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins are both probably disgustingly rich...I'll add that to my list of "Stuff that Makes Me Question the Existence of a Loving God."

Anyway, as Judd travels, he gets angrier and angrier as he thinks of Nicky and the rest of the GC. I know, I know, but we do get a flicker of rebellious thought from him. It lasts about as long as a drop of rain in the desert during summer, but like I said, I relish these few moments and grab onto any I can find.

Judd stopped by a tree a hundred yards from the hideout and caught his breath. He realized he was angry, not just at the evil around him but also at God for allowing it. The whole thing was somehow part of God’s plan, but Judd didn’t understand it.

Uh, Judd, what exactly is so difficult to understand about the plan here? It's clear that God cares about as much for you as a Sadistic Sims Player cares about the virtual people under their control or, to put it in a more low-tech fashion, a child cares about their paper dolls. God moves you from place to place and does whatever he pleases with you because he doesn't care what happens to you because you're entirely beneath his notice. Think of your role in all this world-changing events as being like the role of the rats in the cornfield, torn up by the tractor when the farmer (God) decides it's harvest time.

I know, I belabor the point, but like I said, it really cheeses me off the way Ellanjay keep having their God do all this horrible shit for no real reason and still claim that God loves them.

Anyway, if it sounds like I'm rushing through the second chapter, it's because I am. They're really isn't anything to snark, seeing as it's just a childbirth scene and given that I have no personal experience or medical knowledge on the subject, I can't really go through and point out all the stuff they do wrong. All I know about childbirth is that it's painful, messy, and lasts longer in the real world than it does in movies and TV. That and The Scrubs summation of it. That out of the way, let's get to it.

They've finally managed to get Wanda whoever-she-is, on the phone, and she's coaching Vicki through this. The baby's face is all blue and the umbilical cord is wrapped around its neck. So they have to deal with that. Eventually the baby is born, but still isn't breathing. Luckily, Vicki, with coaching from Wanda, manages to get the baby breathing.

Anyway, the baby's here and it's a boy for those of you wondering. Cheryl names him Ryan Victor and once again, I've got to question why she'd name her baby after the second biggest butt monkey in the LB-verse.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

127 Hours: the RTC version

Happy First Post of the New Year, Everybody! I hope all of you got what you wanted or needed this holiday season. Now that all the parties are done, let's get to work.

The first chapter begins with an action scene, which like I said before, would be suspenseful if I gave a shit. To be fair, this time one of them, Lionel, does come to some lasting harm, but given all the other previous action scenes I've suffered through in which nothing happened...yeah, it comes across as "too little, too late." Besides the only differences between Lionel and Judd is that Judd is older and Lionel is Black. Someone wanna tell Ellanjay that being Black isn't a personality trait?

Okay enough stalling.

Judd escapes the rockslide. He walks around looking for Lionel, growing increasingly worried as he hears no response. He freaks out when he hears a hiss and leaps fifteen feet to the ground. If they hadn't mentioned a specific number, I wouldn't be fussing over this but since they did (and since as I told aunursa, this series gives me nothing else to think about), I have to raise an eyebrow. Y'see when I was eighteen, I fell ten to twelve feet out of a tree and broke my femur. They had to put a metal rod in it to put it back together and I was on crutches for four months afterwards.* So yeah, I've got to question the idea that Judd could make that leap and be fine afterwards. They say something about his knees aching but I'm still calling bullshit here.

Interspaced with all this stuff about Lionel and Judd, is mentions about Vicki and Cheryl. Cheryl is justifiably freaked out and is demanding pain medicine. Vicki wants to give her an aspirin. But Josey vetoes this, pointing out, in a rare show of rationality, that it could hurt the baby and they don't have to equipment to monitor Cheryl's condition. But Cheryl won't stop freaking out, so Josey and Vicki give her a piece of candy, hoping that maybe the placebo effect will help a little.

Judd finds Lionel. Lionel is pinned by a massive boulder on his left arm. Judd tries and tries to find a way to move it, talking all the while to Lionel in order to keep him calm. Eventually Judd realizes that he'll need some kind of mechanical help to remove the boulder. He tries calling the various safe houses he and Lionel had been to, but gets no response.

So he decides to do the only thing he really can do in this situation: pray.

“God, you sent that angel, Anak, to Vicki and the others. It would only take one finger for him to lift this rock and help Lionel. Please, I need your help. I need to get Lionel out of there, and there’s simply no way.”

Now I'm going to spoil it for you: Zod doesn't help them. In fact, according to the wiki, Lionel escapes by cutting off his arm. Granted he gets it back when TurboJesus comes to slaughter everyone, but yeah, remember kids, Satan uses his supernatural powers to save people, which is evil, whereas Zod uses his to murder as many people as possible, which is good. Yeah, the mythos behind the Old Gods makes a helluva lot more sense here. H.P. Lovecraft may have been super racist, but at least he didn't claim that Cthulu and the others did what they did out of love for humanity.

Judd manages to, in the midst of all this, call Vicki. Yeah, because she'd be a whole lot of help in a situation like this. Granted she does have connections to other Tribbles who might actually know something, but the more cynical side of me wonders if Judd was more concerned about how this might affect his chances with Vicki than anything else. Because all Jenkins's protagonists are assholes. If you don't believe me, read Rubyfruit's snarkings of the adventures of Paul Stepola. Even the biblical Paul wasn't as big an asshole as Paul Stepola!

The chapter ends with Judd applying a tourniquet to Lionel's arm and continuing to talk to him.

The next chapter begins with Vicki trying to help Cheryl through her labor. There's not really much to snark here. I admit, this is one of the rare occasions where Ellanjay actually do something right in that both Vicki and Cheryl are justifiably freaked out. Vicki admits that even despite all the research she'd done on the Internet, she feels helpless and wishes she could do more to help. Again, I wonder why Judd's still considered the leader of the YTF, given that he and Lionel have been off gallivanting on another continent away from most of the group, while Vicki's been doing the heavy lifting in getting everybody together. I haven't done a conversion count but I'll bet good money that Vicki's racked up more converts than Judd as well. But then again, Vicki doesn't have a penis so she couldn't possibly be a good leader.

After tying the tourniquet, Judd leaves Lionel to go get help at the safe house they'd just walked away from. I suppose this could count as an asshole move on Judd's part. My limited knowledge of first aid says it's probably not a good idea to leave an injured person behind unless you have absolutely no other options. Yeah, about all he could do with Lionel is provide psychological comfort, but hey, that little bit might make all the difference. I'm wondering though, given that he's called Vicki and told her what's going on, WHY THE HELL HASN'T SHE MADE ANY CALLS TO GET HELP FOR HIM AND LIONEL?! Granted, Judd and Lionel are out in the wilderness** so yeah, there'd probably have to be search parties organized in order to find them, but surely some of the Tribbles have some useful skills in this area? Even if they're not totally skilled in Wilderness Survival, one of their super-hackers could probably track the cell tower which registered Judd's call and they can start from there. I may not be an expert on First Aid or Wilderness Survival/Rescue, but I'm fairly certain the sooner you can send out search parties, the better. With every hour they waste dicking around doing nothing...yeah, Lionel should be grateful all he lost was an arm, given how bad his rescuers suck at their jobs.

The next section focuses on Lionel and I have to confess, we get some good writing. Well, okay, good might be too strong of a word, but given how bad this series is, these brief moments of adequacy are like a drop of water in the desert.

Lionel's trying to think about the pain and trying to stay awake, worried that if he gives in and goes to sleep, he might not wake up. I suppose I could wonder why he's so worried about dying given that he knows, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that he'll get bamfed into Heaven after all this, but still, he's seventeen, alone in the wilderness, and in a lot of pain, so I do feel for him a little. After I broke my leg, all I could do was bawl like a baby, even though I knew I wasn't likely to die from what I was going through. Besides, it's kind of nice, as Lionel, in order to keep his mind off the pain, starts thinking about his family for the first time in how many books.

He tries to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and finds himself thinking about food, about how it's been so long since he had a juicy cheeseburger. Apparently, since, y'know the whole Mark of the Beast deal, the Tribbles have had to pretty much survive solely on what they could scrounge up or what the Co-op provides which means, usually something out of a can, or something stale. I could question why everybody isn't surviving on canned food, given that Wormwood's poisoned all the water, killing all plant and animal life, but dammit! Let me enjoy this bit of adequate writing in peace here!

He also reflects on how his life has changed.

How long had it been since he had eaten at a restaurant, walked through a mall, shopped for clothes, or listened to music on the radio? How long since he had done anything normal? The disappearances of his family had been a little more than four years ago, but it seemed like a lifetime.

Four years. Lionel was now seventeen. He should have been looking for his first car, stashing cash to buy some old beater he could call his own.

Yeah, I know, standard post-apocalyptic trope where the character reflects on how much things have changed since the catastrophe happened, but given how rarely the Tribbles demonstrate human reactions, this is refreshing.

He thinks some more about his family, but then hears the sound of wildlife and freaks out. Again, these rare bits of realism in the story...I attribute it all to the Ghostwriter, valiantly trying to tell a decent story despite the boundaries set forth by the almighty Ellanjay. Granted there's only so much the Ghostwriter can do, given that most important trait of any Ellanjay ghostwriter is how well they kiss Ellanjay's asses, but still.

Lionel receives a phone call from Chang. Rather than ask Lionel any useful questions that might help rescuers find him, Chang decides to tell him that the safe house Judd's heading towards is scheduled for a midnight raid by the GC, so Judd's walking into a trap. All Lionel can say is "We have to pray Judd sees them before the GC does" and we get this headdesker of a paragraph.

He put his head on the backpack, closed his eyes, and thought about the people in Salem. He and Judd had stayed with them longer than anyone else on their trip north, and though tempers had flared at times because of the close quarters, Lionel had a deep respect and love for the people.

Yeah, we can really feel the love Lionel has for these people with whom he hasn't exchanged a single word with and whom he doesn't even bother to name. I suppose in a better written series, this could be a sign of Lionel's PTSD kicking in, but yeah...

The chapter ends with Lionel freaking out as he finds himself face to face with a snake.

*You wanna know the worst part of this injury? Granted being on crutches for four months really, really sucks, but for me, the most irritating part was having to explain my injury to everyone. I knew it would happen. It's a human response: when you see someone hobbling around on crutches, the first thing you wanna know is, "What the heck happened?" And I'd have to say, "I fell out of a tree," which led to their immediate response which was, "What were you doing in a tree?" Believe me, the temptation to lie, after awhile, was strong; the only reason I didn't was because I knew I could never keep my stories straight.

**I could point out, like I have so many times before, that there shouldn't be much wilderness left, y'know, with all plant and animal life dead, but yeah, I think you've gotten the message by now.