Like I said last week, we're on the last chapter of Book 11. Next week, we start the very last one, Book 12. :high-pitched squeal: The end is in sight, people!
So last week, Judd finally proposed to Vicki, in a fashion, I found to be incredibly, incredibly creepy rather than romantic. But I realize I'm not a good judge of what's creepy and what's romantic. I'm probably the least romantic person ever, given that I'd rather watch the Avengers 2: Age of Ultron with awesome good guys beating the crap out of bad guys, than suffer through another edition of White People About to Kiss aka a Nicholas Sparks adaptation. Like I said last week, I find most grand romantic gestures, in fiction and in life, to be creepy as hell, especially Judd's, what with him convincing Vicki that she's about to die in order to spice up his proposal. Were it not for the fact that TurboJesus will show up in about a year and will take away romance, as well as sex, for everyone, I'd give them eighteen months at the most.
Lionel has escaped the clutches of whatever Black Hole he was sucked into, because after being gone for so many chapters, he shows up again, congratulating Judd on finally popping the question to Vicki. I suppose I could make a tasteless joke about that's not all Judd's going to get to pop, but yeah, it feels kind of wrong. Plus I've made so many jokes about how the RTCs' regressive notions regarding the filthy act of sex, ends up leading to more problems down the road, than if they just treated sex like it was: a natural act carried about by people who love each other. But if they just talked about sex honestly and openly, then they'd have to learn about stuff like consent, which would require admitting :gasp: :choke: that those on top of the hierarchy aren't always right in everything they do, a notion that's just too big for them to comprehend.
Of course, Vicki, being the good Lady Against Women that she is, doesn't share my views regarding grand romantic gestures.
After Vicki recovered from the shock of the creative way Judd had asked her to marry him, she socked him in the shoulder for scaring her with the GC trick. “You just about gave me a heart attack! I thought we were both dead.”
Judd smiled. “I thought it would be memorable. Who wants to tell everybody a boring engagement story?”
I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised that Vicki didn't immediately curb-stomp the shit out of Judd for putting her through emotional hell, but y'all know I see Judd and Vicki's relationship forming not so much because they really love each other and can't imagine not being with one another, but because like I said before, they're desperate to get laid and are only getting married, because they're too chicken to commit the sin of premarital sex. Even though, they could have premarital sex and just ask for forgiveness afterwards and be free and clear, right? Because most RTCs, if pressed, will admit that no sin permanently separates you from God, so long as you confess it and ask for forgiveness.
But like I said, I am like the least romantic person ever, so I'm not a good judge of this sort of thing. Every time I see a big lavish wedding or a grand romantic gesture, I'm silently thinking, "This will end quickly." Call it an unfair generalization, if you must, but most of the time, I turn out to be correct. Grand romantic gestures are great and cinematic, but a relationship cannot be sustained on them alone. Eventually, you and whoever you love, are going to have to be able to forge a relationship during all the quiet and boring parts.
I will admit that given that Judd and Vicki have a year, tops, before TurboJesus shows up, that they're probably not going to have to deal with the emotional fallout of a relationship ending, but still.
Marshall has misgivings, saying that while he's not completely cool with the idea of Judd and Vicki getting married, at the same time, they have shown good judgment throughout the dating process. Or in other words, nothing helps prevent the heinous act of premarital sex like having them spend the majority of their time in different hemispheres. Yeah, I need to shut up about it, just like I need to stop making digs at RTCs' repression, but it's just too damn easy! Let me have this!
“What do you mean?” Judd said.
“Let’s just say people have been watching you two to see if you’d become clingy with each other. You know, to see if you’d be so ‘in love’ that you wouldn’t be able to concentrate on anything else. But we’ve been pleased with how you’ve handled this.”
In my defense, read the above quote and tell me that Marshall isn't basically commending Judd and Vicki for not jumping each others bones as soon as they could. Granted, his comment is pretty damn coded (because RTCs would be up in arms if any of the characters, even the bad guys, committed actual sin), but I stand by that interpretation. I know the RTC culture has a hard-on for Victorian-style courtship, but somehow I wonder if that's even accurate. I may not claim to be an expert on the Victorian era, but I doubt that even they were as repressed as the RTCs of today are. Newsflash: Homosexuality, premarital sex, as well as abortions, didn't magically come into being with the Roe v. Wade ruling. They've been around probably since we crawled out of the primordial ooze and started dwelling on land. The difference is that now we actually talk about it, instead of tacitly pretending like it doesn't exist.
Marshall advises Judd and Vicki to go through marriage counseling before going through all this and offers to set them up. I have mixed feelings about how much good that will do, though. If they were seeing someone who actually knew something about psychology, maybe it would work, but The Internet abounds with countless testimonials as to how the RTC version of counseling, doesn't work. The states that actually educate teenagers on sex and birth control, rather than just screech about how they shouldn't do it because it's evil and against God (aka abstinence-only education in a nutshell), have lower abortion and teen pregnancy rates than their abstinence-only counterparts.
Yeah, I know, I should stop it with all the harping on sex, but I still see it as a larger symptom of the problems in the RTC culture. They would like to believe that refusing to acknowledge a problem makes it go away, but it doesn't work that way. To quote the Immortal Johnny Cash*: what's done in the dark, we'll eventually be brought to the light.
Plus, I continue to wonder just what do Vicki and Judd know about each other. Can either of them name the other's favorite book or movie? Does Judd know Vicki's dreams about the future? Okay, that last question is a bad example, given that like all good RTCs, once Vicki kneeled before Zod, she became a good, faithful member of the collective and her dreams involve seeing all the heathens die and burn in hell forever, but still. If you were to ask me what those two have in common, what kind of bond they share (besides, y'know, TurboJesus), I'd be forced to say that they're carbon-based lifeforms and neither can survive without oxygen. But the RTCs probably feel that the fact that one has a penis and the other has a vagina, is reason enough for them to get married. To heck with that weird stuff regarding mutual respect and an emotional bond.
I swear, eventually I will stop repeating myself over and over again. I apologize, but like I said, they make it too damn easy. If it bugs you, just turn these posts into a drinking game**: every time I repeat myself, take a swig of your poison of choice.
Judd asks if they could have Token Jew perform the ceremony and Marshall is like, "email him and ask yourself." So Judd writes an email as does Vicki and they send it off to their fellow RTCs, who respond with a flurry of "I'm so happy for you" emails that are really too boring to be worth snarking. Chloe and St. Rayford are among those who respond, though I was wondering if Chloe hadn't gotten beheaded by now. Oh well, if she hasn't, she probably will be soon. Besides, I really shouldn't devote too much thought to this series and its characters, given that Ellanjay clearly don't.
[slight tangent] I know Chloe's duty as a Tribble is to run the Magical Co-op. I often wonder if she got assigned this task, because the authors, for some reason, think that keeping up a massive trading network so RTCs can get necessary supplies (food, medicine, etc.) during the Apocalypse, is light work, well within the reach of a weak, womanly female like Chloe. If so, someone really should break it to them that Chloe's work is pretty much the lifeblood of the organization, way more important Our Buck's publishing of slightly disdainful (but not to disdainful) articles on the Internet. People kind of need food and water to live, to say nothing of the other supplies that running a Resistance network demands. [/slight tangent]
Token Jew writes back, telling Judd and Vicki to seek the Lord in prayer when deciding where to live. But Westin offers to fly them to Petra. They immediately accept his offer, which may be the smartest decision they've made in this chapter. Though when your options are basically to squat in a hole-in-the-ground and survive on canned food and bottled water, while living in fear of GC raids, or go to Petra, where Zod will smack GC planes out of the sky and you get all the fresh food and water you want, you'd probably choose Petra. But given that previous snarks have proven that the city of refugee where they are protected from those who want to stamp out free speech and the right to exercise your religion, is about as free and democratic as the Democratic Peoples' Republic of North Korea***. Because Nicky is evil; therefore a worldwide dictatorship under his rule, is wrong. But Token Jew is good; therefore, he is well within his rights to sic his God on anyone who doesn't agree with him.
Sometimes I wonder if the only objection RTCs have to the government of North Korea or really any dictatorship, is that they run roughshod over the rights of people they like, or in other words, Christians and Capitalists. So long as you thoroughly kiss American ass and persecute the right people, the RTCs probably don't care about your atrocious human rights record.
So Vicki and Judd decide to go to Petra and to my surprise, they actually decide to take Lionel with them. I thought for certain, after saying his one line, Lionel would disappear into the abyss, never to be seen again. So I suppose Lionel ranks a little above some of the other tribbles, because while they bring him with them to Petra, they don't bother to invite any of their other friends in the States to the city of refuge. I wonder if that means Lionel is still the series' Butt Monkey, though at the same time, I continue to wonder if even in death, Ryan is and will always bear the title of Butt Monkey, rendering this debate pointless.
But for some reason (probably padding), Westin only has room for Judd on his plane, so rather than have a few more days to get to know each other while living in the city of refuge, Judd decides to go ahead to Petra, to set things up for Vicki and Lionel.
Judd and Westin talk a little about Armageddon on the flight, and you just know they long for the day in which they finally get to "Exterminate all the Brutes!" like I said before. They want to see the day when the blood of their enemies reaches the bridles of the horses, no matter how much they try to weasel out of saying it directly. Because like Slacktivist said, Ellanjay are basically Jonah in that they preach the gospel not because they genuinely want to save people from Hell, but because they want to see the nasty, sinful sinners get what's coming to them.
Though in a rare show of...okay I don't know what to call this. Competence seems too much, but adequacy might work. Anyway, Ellanjay reject their inclination towards padding and don't come up with stupid obstacles in order to keep Judd from getting to Petra for a dozen more chapters. Hey, life has taught me to be thankful for small favors.
Judd arrives in Petra and begins setting up.
Meanwhile, Vicki watches the news and thinks about how she's worried about Judd. Why, I don't know. They never say, because that would actually develop her character.
According to the news, the water has changed back from blood into water, which means the third bowl judgment or whatever, is over. I suppose I could look up that infographic someone linked me to in an earlier post, so I'd know just what the hell was going to happen next, but like I said, I'm lazy. Plus, that infographic...were it not for the fact that it was articulating what millions of people actually believe will happen, I'd assume it was created by a schizophrenia patient with a fixation on the Bible and some computer skills, after having a particularly incoherent dream. Though that seems unfair somehow: even someone in the grips of a psychotic break could probably come up with a more coherent story/timeline for all this.
After watching the news, Vicki listens to a recording sent by Chang, which has Nicky ranting and raving about the Jews with that Suhail Akbar guy whom I don't care about. As you probably guessed, I only made it through this boring and totally unsnarkable scene by envisioning Nicky and Suhail, as Cobra Commander and Destro, respectfully.
You should be used to this by now, my weakness for eighties cartoons created for the sole purpose selling toys to sugar-high eight-year-olds. But I really do long for the sheer WTFery and the massive plot holes of eighties G.I. Joe. At least it was entertainingly bad, plus Chris Latta's high-pitched raspy voice...like I said before, even when Cobra Commander's plans made no sense whatsoever (which was often), at least you could be entertained by all of it.
I suppose Nicky raving about the Jews is supposed to be proof that he is the real anti-Semites, unlike RTCs like Ellanjay, who just want the Jews to abandon the culture and faith that has sustained through countless millennia of persecution and become good RTCs.
Anyway, next we cut to Judd, who meets a German actor named Rainer Kurtzmann. While we are spared his "How I came to love TurboJesus" spiel (though odds are we'll get it laid out for us later), I think we can safely assume that Rainer is basically Rainier Wolfcastle from The Simpsons. Because Ellanjay could take the time out to create characters with unique identities beyond their saved/unsaved or ethnic/nationalistic background, but that would just require more effort than they're willing to give.
Like I said, why be like the Shakers and insist upon creating a quality product that can be used and enjoyed by everyone, when you can, with much less effort, just slap a Jesus fish on a piece of crap. Not only does slapping a Jesus fish involve less work, but you also can make more money much faster, because your niche group is so desperate for reading material (and they can only read within a specific niche) that they'll accept whatever you put out. Besides, Quality would make them think, which is scary!
Rainer is shuffled off-screen for no real reason and Judd continues to walk around, not doing anything of note at all. We do get this bit, which seriously makes me go, "Seriously?"
The conversation was so interesting that Judd and Westin stayed past their deadline to get back to Petra before dark, so the group made room for them. As the sun went down, Judd watched the group go through their complex routine of securing the hideout. A few days after the sun plague began, the group had burned the top of their house to make it look like the others surrounding it.
Judd found it difficult to sleep in the enclosed hideaway. It was so different than the camp in Wisconsin, where they felt safe at all hours. A team kept watch over video screens throughout the night, looking for any irregular GC movement.
Okay, I will say, in the first paragraph's defense, that they aren't at Petra. Why they're not there? I don't know. I'll just assume "Padding!" and move on.
But the second one...Judd is shocked that a resistance group that is firmly in Nicky's crosshairs has to do stuff like go into lockdown and keep up monitor duty even at night? What the hell has he and the American Tribbles been doing? This is basic stuff that any group in hiding has to deal with! Seriously, meth is not a breakfast food, Ellanjay!
Judd starts to go out in the morning, only to be stopped by a female member of the group who says that it's not safe to go out until the sun is fully up.
The chapter ends with Judd getting a phone call from Chang, aka one of several other characters he's had more meaningful interaction with than he has with Vicki. Chang reports that the sun plague is over, which means that the RTCs can no longer dick around, watching with amusement as all those heathens burn alive. Granted it also means that their delicate ears are no longer strained by all that off-key screaming, but still.
Judd is heartbroken, because he's a million miles away from her in hostile territory, but like I've said, I've passed the point of giving a shit about his and Vicki's love life.
The chapter ends with this exchange between Chang and Judd. I wish I could say I understood or even cared about what was going on. Because I, like the honey badger, don't care.
“Where are you?” Chang said.
“You’re not going to believe it,” Judd said.
And that's it for book 11. We've made it through 11 out of 12 volumes. While I know there will probably be plenty of ragedumping and f-bombs to come, I feel I need to bask in this accomplishment for awhile. Y'all enjoy yourselves until next week.
*That was put in there not only because it's Johnny Cash and he's awesome, but as a reminder that Christian art doesn't always suck.
**I should probably not encourage drinking games, but sometimes...you gotta do what you gotta do in order to survive. Just don't drink and drive or do anything that you'd hate to have to explain to a loved one or the cops once you've sobered up. No matter how satisfying it'd be to tap out lengthy Morse Code messages on Ellanjay's skull using a tire iron, it just isn't worth it. Apparently, you can't commit justifiable homicide in defense of good art.
***North Korea is the leading exemplar of a rule I have: never trust any country that has to advertise how good it is in its name. America may be a democracy and we're all arrogant and proud of ourselves, but at least we don't go around calling ourselves the Free Democratic States of America. We just say, "We're the United States of America," and let that speak for itself. I cite as further examples of said rule: The Peoples' Republic of China and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Whenever you have to advertise how free and democratic your country is by using its name, you need to take a long, hard look at yourself.