Saturday, February 28, 2015

I Have No Choice But to Play Continuity Cop

Hello and welcome to the last day of February! Thank goodness this horrible month is coming to an end. Got to agree with Ed Weathers's opinion of February myself, but as always, YMMV.

We've all seen many times that when given the choice between Show and Tell, Ellanjay choose Tell every time, only occasionally attempting to Show. This is in defiance of one of the great writing commandments "Show, don't tell." Granted one of the things you learn about writing is that there are exceptions to every rule and you should use what works for you or the story, not follow a rule unto death. But when you're talking about action-packed exciting stuff that would actually be a helluva a lot more interesting to read about rather than yet another round of Exciting!TV Watching!Action...yeah, kind of think it would be nice to, y'know, actually see the stuff mentioned in the opening paragraph instead of Ellanjay fast-forwarding through it so Judd can whine about how it's so hard to survive during the Apocalypse.

Okay, I thought I'd warn you a little bit about this week's selection. Since, I don't know, Consistency ran over their dog when they were kids, Ellanjay really hate it and the time scale gets really screwed up in this chapter, screwed up enough that my brain just crashes several times trying to make sense of it all. Like I said to aunursa in a previous comment, if Ellanjay had put forth any effort on plotting or characterization, I'd be willing to forgive screw-ups involving time because speaking as a writer, it's hard to keep track of time in a novel and most writers have made one or two screw-ups regarding it. But Ellanjay haven't given me anything to latch onto, anything to love or care about, so there's nothing to distract from such a glaring screw-up.

As you guessed, the first viewpoint character for this chapter is Judd aka mini-Rayford. The first paragraph mentions that it's been months since he and Lionel arrived at the Ohio safe house and things have changed dramatically. The GC are redoubling their efforts to ferret out RTCs. As a result, it's becoming more difficult for food to get in and with an influx of refugees at the hideout, everyone's cramped and hungry.

Now if this was a truly well-written young adult series like Susan Beth Pfeffer's Last Survivors series all this discomfort would be delved into. Like I mentioned earlier when talking about screw-ups, if the writer puts forth the effort to craft a compelling story with characters I can care about, I'm willing to overlook screw-ups and just go with the story. Susan Beth Pfeffer's Last Survivors series is a good example of that. I have only a elementary level knowledge of physics, but I know the event that sets off everything in that series (an asteroid smashes into the moon, pushing it closer to Earth, screwing everything up) is unlikely to happen; if an asteroid did strike the moon, it'd probably just knock off a chunk and send it crashing to Earth and unlike what certain movies will tell you an piece of space debris need not be humungous in order to render life on this planet, moot.

But anyway, in spite of the scientific flaws of Pfeffer's story, I was still able to get into and feel for the characters simply because she immerses herself in their heads and does a good job of making their reactions to said events feel believable and human. She makes you feel what it's like to be cold, hungry, and scared all the time.

Ellanjay, as you probably guessed, don't put forth one-eighth the effort Pfeffer does. Rather than delve into the hunger issue, how people don't focus and behave at their best when they're hungry and scared, which is a shame. A shrinking food supply lends itself to great dramatic potential with people having to endure rationing and wondering if they should take in every RTC refugee because the more people they shelter, the more people they have to feed, and whatnot.

But as you probably guessed, the food issue is barely touched on as Judd is far more concerned about the fact that with all these people here, he :gasps: no longer has full control over the computer, making it harder for him to talk with Vicki. Who would imagine that something as piddling and insignificant as the Apocalypse would interfere with Judd's efforts to get laid?

There's a brief mention about Lionel being depressed over the fact that since he only has one arm, he can't help out with the work that is needed to keep the hideout going. As you guessed, this is told from Judd's perspective rather than from the perspective of the person actually dealing with this shit (Lionel). Never say that Ellanjay don't know how to pick the most compelling POV from which to tell a story.

But Judd remains optimistic.

Despite the negatives, Judd knew God was still working. Another plague had hit the earth, turning rivers into rushing floods of blood. Judd had traveled past a nearby river every night on his way to the construction area, and the gurgling blood and horrible smell was sickening.

If by working, you mean ensuring that no life of any kind (plant or animal) survives, then I'd agree with you, Judd, that God is indeed working.

And in this little paragraph, we get one of many continuity screw-ups, because seriously, I distinctly remember from previous books that the waters had all turned to blood. In fact, I think this is the third time that plague has happened. First there was Wormwood, then apparently Ellanjay forgot about Wormwood because they turn the waters to blood again in another book, and now there's this little mention. And if you guessed they don't talk about all the mass starvation/dehydration coming about as a result of all water on the planet being undrinkable, congratulations, you know your Ellanjay-related tropes. :sigh: We could be reading Shakespeare right now.

Seriously, aunursa, you wanna help me out with your encyclopedic knowledge? Just how many times does God make water undrinkable or turn it into blood in this series?

As a result of the bloody water, the GC citizens are more concerned with such piddling concerns as staying alive rather than hunting down the unmarked. No word on how many of said citizens are currently languishing in tent hospitals and the like with many dropping dead every minute, but hey, I suppose I can't expect that level of detail from Ellanjay.

But Judd is soon busy, reading an email from Chang. Chang (and yes, I do wish it was about this Chang)talks about something that happened to the guy whom everyone in the series, good or evil, acknowledges his greatness and circles around him (for he is the sun of their world, while they can only be mere satellites), by which I mean St. Rayford.

I've mentioned earlier, but as bad as this series is, I am genuinely surprised that the series isn't just the Kids constantly witnessing what Our Buck and St. Rayford are up to and lavishly praising them. Granted there's a little of that, but still, there have been whole books in which Our Buck and St. Rayford are barely mentioned. I also wonder if maybe Tim LaHaye wasn't breathing down Jerry Jenkins's neck as much, seeing as his Mary Sue surrogate (Buck) gets more screen-time than LaHaye's (Rayford).

But anyway, Rayford was in Argentina, the GC, showed up, and if you guessed once again, Angels (in this case, Christopher, Nahum, and Caleb) show up and save their asses, again congratulations on being familiar with Ellanjay tropes. If you also guessed that the angelic visitors accomplished Jack when you think about it, congrats again. Basically all the angels do is show up and tell the GC to leave. After the GC leaves, so do the angels. Never say Ellanjay don't have the finger on the pulse of today's youth. Today's youth hate excitement of all kinds.

After reading Chang's email, Judd is all mopey, thinking about how he wants to get back to Vicki. He reads a verse from Romans 5 , specifically verses 3-5, but in a rare realistic reaction, after reading it, Judd's like, "I don't want to build more character. I want to be with Vicki."

Then we cut to Vicki's section. Thought I'd warn you ahead of times: this is where the time scale gets seriously screwed up, so brace yourselves.

Vicki has been kept busy updating the website, but she is not left unmarked by suffering. She too, has been forced to cut back on her computer/phone time, which means she can't have dirty cybersex/phonesex with Judd.

Vicki takes comfort from the first few verses of the Book of James. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it's probably a good thing she didn't read the rest of the Book of James, more specifically Chapter Two. Because James was all about the Social Gospel and is the source of the infamous verse that goes "Faith without works is dead." So yeah, if Vicki had read any further, some heretical ideas might have taken root.

But shortly after this, we come to the one line which makes my brain crash gears.

A few days before Ryan’s eight-month birthday, which Vicki and the others celebrated with gusto, a vehicle pulled into camp.

If you're wondering, it's those first few words that make my brain crash. Eight months have passed in this verse?! Seriously, eight months?! Because I distinctly remember reading about Ryan Victor's birth in this book. At the time, my brain crashed trying to figure out how long Cheryl had been pregnant, because given how little care Ellanjay pay to such details as pregnancy, I found myself wondering if Ryan was a Micro-Preemie because I couldn't make heads of tails over how much time had passed because Cheryl seemed to jump from "six months away from giving birth" to "currently in labor."

In addition to the "Eight Months?!" issue, earlier in Vicki's section, there were other details brought up that made me go "Huh?" If you're wondering, Cheryl has been sharing her baby with Tom and Josey, but lately, Cheryl has become more distant, staying away from Bible studies and staying away from the Fogartys whenever they have her baby. But that leads into this puzzling paragraph:

By the time Ryan started to crawl, Cheryl had moved into a run-down shack by herself farthest away from the others. At each milestone in the baby’s life—his first tooth, his first haircut, his first word, which was dada—Cheryl withdrew more and more.

This threw me, making me wonder if Ryan Victor was some sort of freakish prodigy baby, but I took the liberty of doing a Google Search to be sure, and apparently it's not within the realm of impossibility for a baby to be crawling and talking a eight months. The talking one threw me more than the other ones in that paragraph. As said before, I haven't actually had a kid, but I know enough about infant development to know that there's usually a window in which these developments usually happen. Like the average age in which they start to cut teeth is around six months (though some start earlier or later) and I could accept a baby crawling a eight months, I thought talking was something that came later. Oh well...

Like I said before, I'd be more willing to let continuity issues slid if they put forth any effort into their work, especially when it comes to issues of infant development, because, speaking from personal experience, babies are hard characters to write. Most character development comes about as a result of characters interacting with other characters, but babies can't really interact with other characters in an appreciable way. For much of their life, all they can do is cry, lie around, and wait for someone to take care of them, so it can be tempting to forget about them for pages at a time. That's one of the criticisms I've heard of Jean Auel's latest book. In the previous book, her protagonist, Ayla, had a baby and many wondered how this would effect her life, but it turns out it doesn't. Ayla's baby could be easily played by a couch cushion because her presence doesn't affect anything that happens in the book. Tip for aspiring writers: if you're going to have a baby as a character, remember that they do exist and even though they can't go off on adventures of their own, their existence should have an affect on the plot or the parent of said character.

But anyway, for those of you craving to experience a popular Ellanjay trope (bringing back a character who has been gone long enough you could be forgiven for having forgotten existed in the first place), Chad shows up again and much of the rest of the chapter is taken up with his conversation with Vicki. I know Chad is supposed to come across as romantic and such, but he still comes across as kind of pervy, given that we don't know how big the age gap is between him and Vicki. Granted by now Vicki is around the age of 20, so I can't scream, "Statutory!" and it's not unusual for couples to have age gaps between them (my mom is seven years older than my dad, but they met and married as adults), but still something in Chad's manner and bearing squicks me.

Anyway the end of the chapter can be summed up as this: Chad hits on Vicki, Vicki politely refuses, and Chad having realized he is, at best, a minor character in this series backs off, realizing she and Judd are meant to be together. The chapter ends with Vicki finding out that Chad died after a high-speed chase with the GC. Chad was apparently trying to get to Judd so he could bring Vicki and him together, but since Ellanjay still need to pad out the book even more, despite being richer than most African nations, all Vicki can do is sigh and decide that she and Judd will be together when they are sure that the writers God wants them to be. I could point out that in a year, when TurboJesus returns, this time packing heat, Vicki can be with Judd all she likes, but my guess is she wants to be with him before the Glorious Appearing because she knows after that, there's no sex for anyone, married or single, gay or straight. Can't say I blame her for wanting to get laid before God takes it away for everyone. I suppose using that logic, Vicki should have jumped Chad's bones the instant he walked in, but as if, Ellanjay would let a main character commit so egregious a sin as :gasp: :choke: :pearlclutch: premarital sex. Again, more and more I'm starting to think there's a reason Beverly LaHaye spends all her time in Washington D.C., making a career out of telling women that they shouldn't have careers. I suppose I should call her on her hypocrisy, but frankly if I was married to Tim LaHaye, I'd look for any excuse to get away from him too.

Well, I read through this and it looks like it'll be another one chapter snark this week. Wonder if that's going to be a thing from here on out, me just doing one chapter snarks. It'll probably depend on whether stuff happens or not. But I have been doing this crummy little blog for nearly five years and I know the nature of my posts have changed in that period. I'm often embarrassed by my earlier ones, by all the spelling errors and all the overlooked snark material, but hey, we all have to start somewhere and I'd like to think that while I'm not as proficient as Fred, that my snarks are still worth reading.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Context Matters

Like I said, it gets harder and harder to work up the strength to go a few roads with Ellanjay every week. But tonight I have the Oscars to look forward to. Don't care about any of the nominees, but it's being hosted by Neil Patrick Harris so I get to spend an evening alternating between lusting after him and cursing the Heavens for making him Gay. Dammit, Neil Patrick Harris! You're funny, charming, can sing, dance, and act...why do you have to be gay?!

Then of course, I look at pictures of Neil Patrick Harris's equally adorable family and feel guilty for wishing he'd somehow get Amnesia and forget he's Gay.

Okay, now that I've embarrassed myself by revealing to the Slacktiverse that I long for a Gay man's tender touch, let's get back to business.

As a writer/thinking human being, I do like to try to get into the minds of others, no matter how repellant, and figure out where they're coming from. Though in Ellanjay's case, I admit, I spend more time trying to figure out what they were trying to do, given that they fail at everything.

Anyway, my point is, I keep wondering what the hell they were trying to say with last week's line that made me see red about how Israel must confess a specific sin in order to be blessed. Do they realize just how fucking anti-Semitic that sounds? I know they'd be shocked and appalled by all the times I and Fred have referred to them as anti-Semitics. Ellanjay's thinking is probably similar to the kind of thinking seen by a lot of racists which goes along these lines: Racists attend cross-burnings. I have never attended a cross-burning. Therefore, I am not racist.

But I'm not completely sure so I'm wondering if someone more versed in the arguments fundies use can tell me: a) What were they trying to say with the specific sin line? and b) How Ellanjay can justify that it's totally not anti-Semitism?

I'll even provide the line to help you out:

“Israel must confess a specific national sin against the Messiah before we will be blessed. In Hosea 5:15, God says he will ‘go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offense, and seek my face; in their affliction they will seek me earnestly.’

Now that we've got that bit of business out of the way, let's see what this week has to offer.

Sam and Lev are climbing up a high place together. Sam is doing a very nice version of "Lotta bad things can happen out there to your body, your eternal soul...we can offer you protection, my good man."

Lev and Sam look out at a stage where a bunch of GC and a bunch of unsaved are gathered. The GC is committing such eeevils as making a spring of water appear in the desert and provided bread to the hungry and thirsty gathered. Sam is all scornful, once again making the remark about how the GC are doing counterfeit miracles, when suddenly, people in the crowd start dropping dead. Apparently some freaky Dust Devil has appeared and the crowd starts running in fear. The spring of water turns to blood and we get this delightful passage:

The chopper started, and a cloud of dust kicked up and covered the area. Sam strained to see through the binoculars. When the sand cleared, Lev let out a shriek. Bodies dotted the path back to Petra. The stage was gone. There were no Peacekeepers or vehicles or anything that had been there only moments ago.

Y'know I can't help but think of that noxious "Angels in the Alley" glurge, ably taken down by Snopes here. The logic behind the LB-verse is similar. They keep blaming all the misery and suffering on Satan and every time God intervenes, they say a prayer of thanks, but in this section, it's God's fault, not Satan's that these people died. He was the one who sent the dust devil and poisoned the water, thus ensuring that the people who gathered there died horribly and will burn in Hell forever. If He had left them alone, there's a chance they might have converted and be on the side of right when TurboJesus comes back, packing heat. So yeah, not exactly a ringing endorsement of God's love.

If you guessed immediately after seeing all this, Lev decides he loves Big Brother, congratulations on being familiar with Ellanjay tropes. I admit I pretty much saw Lev's capitulation coming, but at the same time, there was part of me that hoped that somehow he'd escape like Taylor and Hasina. But so much for that.

The section ends with Sam walking Lev through The Prayer and we cut to Vicki.

Now, I know many of you, including myself, have pointed out many times that even though they're living through the End of Days, the protagonists (with the exception of Ryan "Butt Monkey" Daley) aren't really suffering much. Well that simply isn't true, because according to the next section, Vicki has to resort to :gasp: :choke: communicating with Judd every night via email and instant messaging, while only getting to talk with him on the phone three times a week. It's like Kurtz said, "The horror...the horror..."

Judd, being the Nice Guy that he is, complains about Lionel and how his injuries are slowing them down, as though Lionel hacked off his arm not because he was in life-threatening danger, but to inconvenience Judd. I admit I'm exaggerating Judd's comments a little for comedic effect, but not by much. Here's what he said, if you don't believe me.

In one e-mail, Judd described his thoughts about Lionel. I feel awful that I resent him. I know there’s no part of him that wanted that to happen, and he’s been through so much pain during the healing process. Yesterday I awoke out of a dead sleep and heard him gasping for breath. I thought he was dying, Vick, but when I got to him, he was crying. He said his arm really hurt, and he was just sad about the things he’d never be able to do again.

All that must make it even harder for you, Vicki wrote.

Yeah. Deep down I know that what happened is not anybody’s fault. But when I think of not being able to be there with you, all those ugly feelings come back.


I know Ellanjay would probably sooner bathe in battery acid than read Doonesbury, but whatever your opinion about the strips' politics, even they knew that losing a limb is a traumatic event that lends itself to a great story.

Anyway, Judd and Vicki eventually get on the phone with each other. Vicki is all "God protected you and Lionel from the GC and if He wants us to be together, we'll be together, and that if he just wants them to be friends, then that's okay too."

Judd basically says the same thing that if God wants them together, they'll be together, and I'm feeling the strongest urge to post this cartoon from xkcd. Yeah, it's probably only tangentially related but humor me here.

The conversation ends with Judd saying that with God in control, there's no way he can blame Lionel for them not being together, and after reading that line, I really hope Lionel shivs Judd in the eye. Because seriously, Lionel, your friends suck.

Vicki hangs up and reads Sam's latest blog post. For those of you wondering, Lev's mother too has abandoned the Faith of her Fathers and become a good RTC. Vicki then decides to read Sam's blog post to the rest of her friends and the majority of her section is taken up with this. Yeah, because the only thing better than Exciting!TV Watching!Action and Exciting!Email!Action is Exciting!Reading!Action. Never say Ellanjay aren't in touch with the youth of today.

Anyway in addition to the stuff Lev and Sam mentioned at the beginning of the chapter, Nicky's miracle worker also temporarily blocked the sun with a cloud and turned a microphone stand into a snake and back again, in addition to creating the spring of water and feeding the crowd bread from a basket that never emptied. Truly their evil knows no bounds!

But don't worry, for those of you confused as to how feeding the hungry is evil, Sam's blog post explains for us.

“‘Do you see the mockery of this? Miracles God performed in the Bible were produced by this faker to gain people’s trust. And they fell for it big-time. The man, or being, whatever he was, said he was a disciple of Carpathia. And while his behavior had been nice up to that point, he then said that Carpathia’s patience had run out and that he would administer Carpathia’s mark. He simply pointed at people, and they had the mark of Nicolae.

Afterwards, as though Ellanjay sensed my critiques about how the villains aren't being that evil, the miracle worker kills a group of followers then resurrects them. Then things become seriously confusing. I thought Ellanjay were trying to have the bad guys Kick the Dog, but what follows...yeah, you have to see it for yourselves.

“‘I have to tell you, Lev and I saw this cloud moving straight for the stage and audience, but we didn’t know what it was. Abdullah said the man onstage told the people the cloud contained snakes, vipers with a deadly venom. That’s when the spring of water turned to blood and the man called the people fools and said Nicolae wanted them dead. He told them to run but warned that the vipers would kill them before they reached Petra.

“‘And that is what happened. The cloud caught up to the people, and there was a line of bodies in the sand. Abdullah was sitting in the helicopter with two of his friends when the evil man appeared before them. The wonder-worker didn’t open his mouth, but they heard him say, “I know who you are. I know you by name. Your god is weak and your faith a sham, and your time is limited. You shall surely die.” ’”

I can't be the only one going "Da Fug just happened here?!" It becomes even more confusing when Sam brings up the Dust Devil and that after it swept through, everything in the desert--the stage, the vehicles, and the people--were gone. Sam and Abdullah talked to Token Jew. Token Jew told them that it was demonic apparition they saw, which only makes things even more confusing. What purpose was this apparition supposed to serve? Was it supposed to win converts to either Zod or Satan's side? Or did Ellanjay just want something creepy to happen but they botched it because they suck as writers?

Sam goes on to say that Token Jew told him that God is doing his winnowing work or in other words, punting those who won't kiss his ass. So it's pretty much like aunursa said in a previous comment about how God created people he knew would never believe and is now killing them for not believing.

Token Jew then quotes from Romans. They don't specify chapter and verse, so I had to do some digging to find it, because I believe in context, but to the best of my knowledge, he quoted the last few verses of Romans 11. As you've guessed, if you actually read the other parts of this chapter, Paul's opinion is more nuanced than Token Jew's. I pick on Paul for being a misogynistic ass at times, but even he wasn't as bad as Ellanjay. Most of the really misogynistic stuff wasn't written by him and he has more respect for the Jewish people than Ellanjay. This isn't surprising, seeing as Paul was originally a Jew and therefore knew its traditions inside and out, but still have to admit, while I have my issues with Paul, I'd much rather follow his version of God than Ellanjay's.

Vicki's section ends and we cut back to Sam.

Apparently now everyone at Petra has the Zod-mark, which is good. Now they no longer have to worry about Token Jew siccing God on their asses for not obeying every word that comes from his mouth. So we have a nice theocratic dictatorship out in the city of refuge.

Token Jew decides to preach a sermon. :groans: Not again! Make the bad men stop with this overused trope, Mommy!

Okay, maybe before we get to the sermon, I need to bring up Chaim's little speech he does as an opener.

“Tsion believes the Lord has told him that no more indecision reigns in the camp. You may confirm that by looking about you. Is there anyone in this place without the mark of the believer? Anyone anywhere? We will not pressure or condemn you. This is just for our information.”

Yeah, it's just for informational purposes. There's no way this will be used against's all perfectly safe, so long as you do exactly what Token Jew says.

Anyway, Token Jew starts his sermon by citing Isaiah. I read ahead and apparently, Token Jew's sermon is entirely made up of quotes from the Old Testament prophets, even though they preached constantly about the Social Gospel which I thought Ellanjay considered a bunch of Islamo-Commie-Fascist nonsense.

Once again, when they quote Isaiah, they don't specify chapter and verse, forcing me to fire up Google to figure out which verses they were mentioning. Can't help but wonder if their target audience would be willing or able to go to that amount of effort in order to understand the book. It's almost as though for all their talk about how it's important to read your Bible every day to better discern God's will for your life that Ellanjay don't really mean it. When they say "Read your Bible every day," they probably mean, "Read the parts we like and don't even think of reading any further lest heretical ideas take root."

Anyway, turns out Token Jew is quoting from Isaiah 10 specifically a few verses here and there, 20-23 and 27, for those who care. It's probably a good thing that Token Jew didn't read the beginning of that chapter. Who knows what ideas his foolish subjects loyal citizens might get?

He then quotes from Zechariah, again without citing chapter and verse, but I believe it's Zechariah 13, specifically the last two verses. And if you guessed the rest of the chapter fails to make the singular point that Ellanjay want it to make, congratulations for being a thinking human being who takes into account context.

Token Jew ends his sermon by preaching a few verses out of Ezekiel. Unlike the previous examples, he does actually cite a chapter, Ezekiel 37 aka the Valley of Dry Bones chapter. Granted Token Jew doesn't bother to supply verse numbers, but it's a start. Since I'm a gentile/amateur theologian, I can't be certain how Jewish people or biblical scholars interpret this chapter, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Ezekiel is saying what a lot of the Jewish prophets said: If you follow the Law and keep to the Faith, you will be restored. I'm also going to assume that when Ezekiel wrote said chapter, he also probably wasn't saying, "At some indeterminate point in the future, TurboJesus will kill all your enemies." Thank goodness we have Ellanjay to tell us how the Jewish people/scholars have been interpreting their own scripture wrong for what appears to be countless millennia. What would they do without him...

Anyway, that's it for this week. I know, I know, another one chapter snark, but hey, felt this one was getting hella long and I try to keep them at a reasonable length as a courtesy not only to my sanity, but to my faithful readers.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Exterminate All the Brutes!

I know, I know, I'm late, but truthfully, it's getting harder and harder to find the strength of will needed to go a few rounds with Ellanjay every week. Firedrake's right; once you've made it to the Epic Pig Ride, it's all downhill from here. Now instead of mind-melting insanity, it's the same stupid,dull lectures over and over again.

But I did vow to make it to the end and I've made it this far. Might as well get to it. So let's end the Self-Pity Party and put on some cheesy montage music to get us all pumped, shall we?

Anyway, last week ended with us learning something new, courtesy of Ellanjay. According to Ellanjay, when Muslims force people to convert or die and say things like, "Islam or the Sword!" that's evil and wrong. However, it is fine and dandy for Christians to say, "Jesus or the sword!" and kill those who don't convert. :grinds teeth: The things this series has taught us.

The chapter begins with Sam feeling really bad about all those people buried alive and cast into Hell because they had the nerve to complain to Token Jew about the theocracy he's establishing out in Petra. As you probably guessed, Sam only briefly touches on this before going back to the important work of trying to rack up more converts on his fuselage. So he goes to talk to Lev. For those of you who had a rage-induced memory blackout, Lev's father and sister were among those that Zod buried alive.

Lev, continuing to be all inscrutable and Jewish, has the nerve to be all upset over losing cherished family members, asking "Why God would do this?" and such. Sam makes a token display of sympathy, saying he's sorry for his loss. But Lev still doesn't take the bait and decides that he wants to find some of Nicky's miracle workers and see if they can bring back his father and sister, which is a reasonable step to take, seeing as yeah, the miracle workers have demonstrated the ability to bring back the dead, rather than letting them burn in Hell like Zod intended.

Sam's all "The miracle workers are fakes and God loves you!" but Lev has the nerve to respond by saying, “How can God love me if he takes away my father?”

It's a perfectly cromulent question and as you guessed, Sam's response is the kind of response that makes you do an Boondock Saints F-bomb supercut.

“Your father spoke out against God’s leaders. God is cutting out those who don’t believe. You must follow him before it is too late.”

Yeah, it's such a shame God created people He knew would never believe then was forced to kill them for not believing. I mean it's not like God is omnipotent or omniscient or omnibenevolent. Because God is not any of these things, then you understand why he (and his servant, Token Jew) couldn't simply win over dissidents by, I don't know, rearranging the stars in the Heavens to spell out "Jesus is Lord!" or anything like that. God simply had no choice but to "Exterminate all the Brutes!" Because as said before, he simply isn't omnipotent or any of the other omnnis listed.

Now if you don't mind, I'm going to post a completely unrelated link and step outside and scream until my throat is raw and blistered.


Okay now that I've gotten that out of my system, can we all agree that there's no doubt that Token Jew has established a theocracy out in the desert with him as the Grand High Inquisitor whose word is law and if you dissent, he brings in God on air support?

Like I said before, the only problems RTCs have with dictatorships/theocracies is when they follow the wrong person/religion. Nicky is evil; therefore, a dictatorship under his rule is evil. Whereas Token Jew is good; therefore a dictatorship under his rule is good..

Anyway Sam's infuriating section ends with Token Jew giving a speech about false prophets.

If you're wondering we cut to Judd and finally the Great Debate between Token Jew and Leon Fortunado takes place. As you probably guessed, the debate, such as it is, is pure weaksauce. Leon is all "Nicky is Lord!" and dares God to strike him down if he's lying. And even though RTCs are big fans of the Atheist Professor glurge and that if God did strike down Leon, it would be a powerful witness, but as you probably guessed, nothing happens. So in addition to not being any of the Omnis, God also isn't bigger than the Boogeyman. Damn Veggie Tales lied to me!

Token Jew's argument, if you're wondering, is essentially "Jesus is Lord and there are 109 prophecies that say so!" And if you guessed Token Jew would harp on and on about all the atrocities Nicky has committed while tacitly ignoring the ones his God has committed, well congratulations for being a longtime reader of this blog! Wish I could say it came with perks, but I'm afraid not.

“Mr. Fortunato,” Tsion calmly said, “would you tell the viewers how many people have died by the guillotine because of your loving god? Would you admit that Global Community troops and equipment were swallowed by the earth near Petra, and that two bombs and a deadly missile struck here, yet no one has been injured and no structure jeopardized? Will you not also admit that Global Community Security and Intelligence Peacekeeping forces have spent millions of Nicks on attacking all traffic in and out of this place, and not one plane, flier, or volunteer has been scratched?”

I keep waiting for Leon to say, "And will you tell how many people have died at the hands of your loving god? How many have died as a result of poisoned water, repeated asteroid strikes, earthquakes, nukes, lion-headed snake-tailed flying people killers and who knows what else? I mean if your God is as loving as you claim, couldn't He witness to his flock in a way that doesn't involve repeatedly killing them and condemning a sizeable portion to a place of never-ending torment?"

But I have a feeling I'll be waiting till the end of time for any of Ellanjay's antagonists to give that kind of response. Because as I've said and many others have as well, Ellanjay have insulated themselves in a nice Criticism-proof bubble for so long that they don't know what actual criticism sounds like. That's why all the debates between Believers and Non-Believers are pure weaksauce.

Yeah, I feel a need to post Matthew 23 right now. I must particularly insist on verses 23-24.

Judd's section ends with a weird little passage that I'm guessing Ellanjay put in there in order to prove that they're totally not anti-Semites even though their deepest desire is for the Jews to stop being Jewish, which most would consider to be anti-Semitism.

Anyway, Leon basically says "Didn't the Jews kill Jesus?" thus allowing for Ellanjay to attempt to prove they're not anti-Semites by having their mouthpiece character say that the Gentiles did it. In addition to bolster his argument, they have Token Jew quote from the Old Testament. Token Jew quotes from Zechariah, specifically Zechariah 12:10 and Hosea 5:15.

I posted links to the entire chapters because being an English major/thinking human being, I sort of believe that context is important and that quote mining is bad. But basically Token Jew is yanking out those verses and using him to bolster his argument which is this:

“The offense? Rejecting the messiahship of Jesus. We repent of that by pleading for his return. He will come yet again and set up his earthly kingdom, and not only I but also the Word of God itself predicts the doom of the evil ruler of this world when that kingdom is established.”

And since earlier on, Token Jew specifically said that "Israel must confess a specific sin against the Messiah before we will be blessed," it should be abundantly clear: Jews, it's all your fault. All the pogroms, inquisitions, and to top it all off, the Holocaust, it's all your fault for being so FUCKING INSCRUTABLE AND JEWISH!

:goes outside and screams some more:

For those of you wondering, I didn't put that line about "Israel and the specific sin" in Token Jew's mouth. It's right there in the FUCKING BOOK IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE ME! towards the bottom of 3467 in the eBook. I know this is the standard "He beats me but it's my fault for making him angry in the first place and I'm real sorry, Mister Lord, for making you so angry in the first place!" abused spouse logic they've used before, but the way they used it this time, implying that all the millions who've died over the centuries...yeah, for a moment all I could see was red. About the only way this could be worse was if they said something about how the Jews were asking for it what with their insistence on walking around in the dark in that sexy miniskirt.

Judd's section ends with him saying that Leon never answered any of Token Jew's arguments, again tacitly ignoring that Token Jew didn't answer any of Leon's arguments either.

And we cut back to Sam. As you probably guessed, the "debate" so to speak, has now degenerated with Token Jew interrupting Leon by saying "Jesus is Lord" every time Leon tries to get in a word edgewise. Remember kids, interrupting someone isn't a sign of a weak argument; it's proof that you're a manly Alpha Male who doesn't need to actually know the opposition's argument before knocking it to the ground. Because that's exactly what your heroes, Jesus and Paul believed. None of that wussy crap of actually listening to your opponents, hearing their story, and meeting them where they are. Yeah, I'm going to post this link. Once you've read it, you'll understand why. List of Fallacies.

Anyway, the debate finally ends when the GC cuts off Token Jew's mic, proving how eeevil the GC is in that they don't allow freedom of speech/dissent. They cut off his mic after allowing him to spew out his dissent for several pages, unlike Token Jew, who has God bury anyone who disagrees with him. There's clearly a difference.

Token Jew gives a few words to his people about y'know about Being wary of False Prophets who twist scripture to their own ends.

Sam walks off to check on Lev. Lev is clearly shaken by what has happened. Lev talks about how the GC will still let them take the Mark, but that he needs to stay with his mother and look after her, now that his father and sister are gone. Sam, remembering the tenet of evangelism which is Always Be Closing, is basically like "What will it take to get you to take home a brand spankin' new Jesus today?!"

But Lev continues to be all inscrutable and Jewish, still says he has questions regarding his sister and father. The chapter ends with him deciding to climb a high place, saying that if what Sam says is true about the GC, he'll convert.

And that's where I'll leave you this week. I know, only one chapter, but this one really got under my skin and besides this snark's hella long as is.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Resistance is Futile

I know I'm late, but after last week, I wasn't exactly champing at the bit to go a few more rounds with Ellanjay's protagonists, given that they're incapable of creating a protagonist who isn't an asshole. But then again, given that none of the members of the YTF are anywhere near as awful as Paul Stepola, maybe I should count my blessings, bite the bullet, and get to it. I do promise, given the outbursts from last week, to cut down on the profanity, but as always, I feel free to rescind that promise every time it gets to be too damn much. Besides science backs my love of profanity. Now I'm sure some fancy-pants intellectual will tell me that the study in question is more nuanced then I think, but hey, anything that justifies me being a potty-mouth.

One last thing, I took the liberty of using Kindle's "Search this book" feature. If you guessed that Dr. Rose's name is never mentioned again even though we're only 54% through the book, congratulations, you're a long time reader of this blog who correctly surmised that the asshole protagonists won't give another thought to the fact that this guy, who went out of his way to help them, is burning in Hell for all eternity.

Now that I've given all my disclaimers, let's put on some Pat Benatar, and tear Ellanjay a new one this week.

Okay, in a stroke of realism, the chapter begins with Lionel experiencing some phantom limb pain. As said in a previous comment, I doubt Ellanjay are going to put too much work in demonstrating Lionel's struggles now that he's lost an arm. We're lucky if we get anything similar to the struggles of Jaime Lannister in A Storm of Swords. For those not familiar with the Game of Thrones series, Jaime loses his dominant hand in the third book and pretty much finds himself having to relearn how to do everything, including feed and dress himself with his other hand. In addition to feeding and dressing himself, he pretty much has to relearn how to fight with a sword because George RR Martin knows enough about sword-fighting to know that you can't just switch to the other hand after a lifetime of training and practice with the dominant one. So in short, Jaime pretty much goes from being one of the best swordsman in Westeros to practically being a beginner again after the loss of his hand. But okay, I've pretty much accepted that Ellanjay are nowhere near willing to put in the kind of effort that George RR Martin does, so let's get on with the story.

Basically, if you're wondering, Judd and Lionel are no longer at Dr. Rose's house, but another YTF safe house. If you're wondering why the hell they haven't just used Dr. Rose's car to drive the rest of the way to Wisconsin so Judd can be reunited with Designated Love Interest Vicki, well that's because the only thing Ellanjay love as much as God is money, so they seek any excuse to pad this sucker out.

But as much as they love padding, Ellanjay miss an opportunity to do so, by speeding past Lionel's struggles to adjust to be one-handed. That would have both added to the page and been interesting, but it would also involve research, so yeah, probably too much to hope for that they would write about this in a semi-realistic fashion.

Lionel not only regained his strength but also learned to function with only one hand. Eating wasn’t a problem since Lionel could use one hand with most of the food. The doctor and everyone else in the new safe house had been amazed at what Lionel had done.

I will give a little leeway in that Lionel didn't lose his dominant hand, but still gotta question Ellanjay's assertion that Lionel has no trouble adjusting to eating and living with one hand. Trying using a knife and fork when you only have one hand or putting on your shirt and pants with one hand. But again, if they really showed the characters' suffering as a result of the Apocalypse that would cut down on all the haw-hawing they like to do.

We then cut to Vicki who is engaged in Exciting!Thinking!Action. Basically she thinks about all the raids the Tribbles have been doing and how some of the Tribbles have been captured and killed as a result. It's a good thing Ellanjay opted to have Vicki tell us what's been going on, instead of showing us a raid. The excitement might have raised the readers' blood pressure a few beats.

Anyway, after Vicki's brief appearance, Ellanjay decide to cut to Petra for some reason. Sam has spent his days, walking around, working on his blog "Petra Diaries," and trying to convert his friend, Lev Taubman. As you no doubt guessed from his name, Lev is all stubborn and Jewish and has yet to accept Jesus as his savior. He, like all other Jewish characters in this series, also manages to have a Jewy McJew kind of name, despite the fact that he was originally from Chicago (his family moved to Israel just before the Rapture). I sometimes wonder if there's any bad Jewish fiction where while the Jewish characters have traits outside of being Jewish, the Christian characters all walk around with names like Christian McIlovejesus and have no discernible traits outside of doing weird, non-Jewish stuff like not circumcising their baby boys. Turnabout is fair play, after all.

Anyway, Lev and his family have been hearing about how Nicky's healers have very eeeevilly used their supernatural powers to save people so they won't die and burn in Hell for all eternity and they've decided they want to meet up with one of the miracle workers. Sam, of course, is all "You can't go! Nicky's evil and you need Jesus!" But Lev, continuing to display sense (that will probably promptly disappear after the inevitable conversion scene), is like "You're so close-minded." He then mentions that Sam probably won't even come to the debate between Leon Fortunado and Token Jew. I suppose given how debates usually play out in this series, where they're either rushed through or involve displays of logic that wouldn't sway a second-grader, I probably will be disappointed if and when the debate comes, but hey, after reading over thirty books in this series, I'm used to disappointment. I've come to accept that Conservapedia acquired their masterful debating skills from crappy RTC fiction like this.

Anyway, Sam walks away from this conversation all Emo and wondering why Lev can't seem to love Big Brother the way he does and the chapter ends with a cameo from Abdullah. Given that he's described as a friend of Rayford Steele, I'm going to assume that this is the same Abdullah Smith from the adult books.

Abdullah's advice is basically "Keep praying." While I'll admit that the message he gives is pretty standard RTC boiler-plate about how you should pray without ceasing that Jesus will open your friend's eyes, it still feels kind of wrong. As said many times before, if all this is Zod trying to get everybody's attention, why doesn't he just rearrange the stars in the sky or something to spell out "Tim LaHaye was right and you should buy all his books!" in whatever language he wants. Because even though I can see a conversion story coming at me, what if Ellanjay, in a shocking reversal, decide not to have Lev realize that "Jesus is Lord!" and start lamenting how foolish he was to follow the teachings of the rabbis? Oh yeah, what will happen is that Lev will promptly die or he'll Kick The Dog and die. After which Samuel won't give a single thought to his former friend as he gets poked with pitchforks by fiery demons.

Anyway, second chapter, for those of you who missed him for some bizarre reason, we finally hear from Judd again. He and Lionel have spent the next few weeks in the safe house, bravely using the Internet to keep up with "The Petra Diaries" and anything else going on in the world. Yeah, it's really dull except for this one little bit in the opening paragraph.

Judd was glad Lionel was making progress, but each time Judd saw him, he felt somehow betrayed, like Lionel had hurt himself to keep Judd away from Vicki. Of course, Judd knew this wasn’t true, but something was going on inside him, a bitterness he knew had to be worked out.

I know the paragraph says that Judd is mad at Lionel for keeping him from Vicki, but yeah, I'm still wondering if I should dust off the "Ho Yay" tag. But then again, I am a drooling pervert who sees potential for Ho Yay everywhere especially in RTC fiction because it's so much more fun that way.

Plus yeah, Judd, Lionel hacked off his arm solely to inconvenience you.

Anyway, Judd briefly reminisces for the first time in God-only-knows-how-long about his slaughtered raptured family. But he quickly gets back to the important task of reading stuff from his friends because the trip up north is currently on hold, due to Ellanjay seeking any excuse to pad out the series bad road conditions and Lionel not being up to travelling.

Judd has received devotional information from Marshall. Judd is impressed by how Marshall is handling some tough topics like "Being Angry at God Because He Keeps Trying to Kill You" but for those of us still wanting to know how any of these prophecies can be reconciled with Ellanjay's assertion that "God loves humanity," keep wondering. As you probably guessed, we don't actually see how Marshall addresses these topics because Ellanjay always choose to tell rather than show.

In addition to Theodicy, apparently Marshall has also been talking about romantic relationships at the End of the World, leaving Judd to wonder whether he should continue to pursue Vicki or if being with her would take away from his duty to spread God's word. Yeah if it's anything the Tribbles are known for in this series, it's their belief in the Great Commission. While Nicky tries to win souls to his side by being compassionate, doing stuff that offends Jesus by visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, and clothing the naked, the Tribbles have been faithful followers of the one true God, following in the footsteps of Paul, Peter, and many others by sitting on their asses in the Hole-in-the-Ground.

Chang Wong then sends Judd an audio file of Nicky and Leon talking. As you can imagine, it's standard villain "Bwaah Bwaah!" talk that I really can't snark. Suffice to say, maybe Ellanjay will actually show this debate between Leon and Token Jew given that they mention it again. But I'm not going to hold my breath. As Fred Clark would point out, this wouldn't be the first time they've failed to deliver on a promised debate.

Anyway, about the only way to make the conversation between Leon and Nicky interesting is to give them whatever funny voices feel appropriate for their cartoonish personalities. I went with Boris Badenov and Skeletor if you're interested. I'll even let you decide which is which because I'm too bored to care.

Anyway after listening to that conversation, we cut away from Judd back into Petra with Sam.

Anyway all is not well at the Petra Compound. Token Jew and Chaim are trying to calm down the Unbelievers, but they, led by Lev's father, are simply refusing to surrender to the collective. They want to go meet up with the miracle worker. But Token Jew and Chaim won't let them. Lev's father does a variation on the words of the Israelites in the desert, but right now I'm totally with him. Yeah, I would be like "Who died and made you King of Kings?" to Token Jew and Chaim as well. Yeah, there's a reason theocracies generally don't work out to well for minorities.

Sam suddenly feels a need to direct Lev and his mother away from all this malcontents. And y'know I'd been thinking thus far that while this week's selection has been pretty stupid, it hasn't been anywhere near as rage-inducing as last week's. I know, you're laughing at my naivete.

As you can imagine what happens next is Token Jew preaches a sermon that moves the hearts of the unbelievers who bow and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Actually what happens is this:

Tsion quieted the crowd and spoke gravely. “Unless you agree with these, it would do well for you to depart from the presence of these wicked men, lest you be consumed in all their sins. From this point on, let it be known that the Lord has sent me to do all these works; I do not do them in my own interest. If these men do what is in their minds to do and God visits a plague of death on them, then all shall understand that these men have provoked the Lord.”

When Tsion finished, the rocks trembled. Lev and his mother fell back, and Sam grabbed them as a great hole opened under hundreds of people. The angry men and women were swallowed immediately, falling into a deep cavern. Lev’s father and sister screamed and plunged down, their arms waving as they fell. The wails echoed from the enormous hole, and just as suddenly as the earth had opened, it closed, and the people inside disappeared.

I'm afraid the only commentary I can type up would just consist of me screaming variations on "Fuck you, Ellanjay!" over and over again, so I'm going to bow out for this week, seeing as we've reached the end of the second chapter.