Saturday, August 29, 2015

Better to Live Under Robber Barons than Under Omnipotent Moral Busybodies

Those of you concerned about my psychological state will be happy to know that this week's selection is nowhere near as rage-inducing; in fact, it's quite dull. The problem with Ellanjay is that their stories come in two flavors: rage-inducing and dull. For those of you wondering, most of the time I get through these passages by imagining the adventures of the League of Awesome*, who actually do stuff while the Tribbles just dick around. Seriously if anyone wants to publish fanfiction on Right Behind about the League, feel free to do so.

The majority of this chapter consists of what Turkey City Lexicon calls, "Brenda Starr Dialogue." For those of you too lazy to click on the link, here's the definition.

Long sections of talk with no physical background or description of the characters. Such dialogue, detached from the story’s setting, tends to echo hollowly, as if suspended in mid-air. Named for the American comic-strip in which dialogue balloons were often seen emerging from the Manhattan skyline.

Ellanjay do briefly remember that Vicki exists and she and Judd have a conversation. Whether or not they'll ever remember the existence of that black guy cough:Lionel:cough, is hard to say. I did read the next chapter and there's no sign of him. I'm assuming Lionel is some kind of being that ceases to exist when no one looks at or talks to directly. And it's times like this I really wish I knew which pop culture reference to make. I suppose I could repost that clip I did about the ads in that one Simpsons Halloween Special, but I was hoping to think of something else.

Anyway, nothing really to report on the conversation between Judd and Vicki. Vicki's all womanly and whiny and ineffectual, and doesn't understand why her manly man, Judd, is spending so much dicking around in New Babylon. We all know the obvious answer is "Padding!" but still.

Anyway, Judd and Gunther and Westin and ZZ Top check into a hotel. They get stopped at the desk but Westin helps them get in, by claiming that they're actually GC, wearing some special optic lenses that enable them to see despite the massive plague. So the manager lets them by. I suppose my faithful readers could point out a thousand holes in said story, but like I've said, given how very rarely the characters demonstrate any intelligence at all, I cling to these moments, even if they frequently don't make much sense.

Judd makes note of the luxurious accommodations (remember if RTCs live in the lap of luxury while their fellow humans suffer horribly, it's their reward from God. Asking them to share is "Teh Socialism!" which is how Hitler started! If Nicky and his crew lead a life of comfort and ease while their fellow humans suffer, that's proof of their evil.) nods off, and sleeps for a bit.

But Judd is troubled. Why? Just read the paragraph and commence with the headdesking.

Something had bothered Judd about Westin since they had teamed up to rescue the people in the Indiana library. He seemed to have no problem lying to the GC or to members of the Tribulation Force. Judd tried to bring up the subject.

The Horror!

To be far, Ellanjay are kind of hamstrung by the morality of their particular subculture. The RTC believe in manly, heterosexual Absolute Morality as opposed to those slimy effete and possibly homosexual Liberals who practice Moral Relativism. Trouble is, Absolute Morality can only work in a situation where everything's stable: steady supply of food/water/shelter, no threats, inside or out, and there's a fair, democratic government that guarantees the rights of all, even minorities.

Outside those strict conditions, Absolute Morality falls apart pretty fast. Take, for example, what if you were stranded on a deserted island, with somebody you've never met, but there's only enough food to feed one of you. What would you do then? Absolute Morality (the morality that says "X is always wrong no matter what the circumstances") would fall apart pretty quickly.

But you never have much luck explaining to Ellanjay how something that could be evil under most circumstances, is good under a specific kind of circumstances. They always say "Lying is always wrong!" but never have a good response when you point out people like Oskar Schindler and others, who, during the Holocaust, risked their lives and often :gasp: :choke: LIED in order to protect the Jewish people they were hiding from the murderous Christian Nazis.

This is even more galling when you consider that Ellanjay steadfastly believe that Nicky is supposed to be worse than Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Chairman Mao, and Pol Pot combined. Wouldn't most people consider lying to Nicky as opposed to helping him, to be the lesser of two evils in that scenario? But then again, when you're part of a culture that carefully divides everything into two categories--good and evil--where anything they consider evil goes into the evil box, regardless of I said, Ellanjay probably treat genocide or rape as being equivalent to premarital sex (regardless of if both parties consented) and lying, even though most of us, know that premarital sex and lying are worlds' apart from genocide or rape.

Plus Ellanjay are terrible at following their own advice. As aunursa can point out, there are numerous incidents in the Adult Books where Our Heroes pledge allegiance to Nicky and proclaim his divinity, but they get out of it by telling themselves that in their hearts, they were pledging allegiance to Jesus. Like I've said before, I'll continue to wonder what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would have thought of that weaselly logic. Because according to Ellanjay, they could have bowed to the Idol of Nebuchadnezzar while telling themselves that they bow to God, and not had to go through that whole fiery furnace bit.

Credit where credit is due: Westin's reaction when Judd confronts him, is pretty close to how I'd respond. He's like, “Look, this is war. Life or death. These people will chop our heads off. And pretty soon they’ll be gunning for us with nukes.”

As you guessed it, Judd's response to this, is pure weaksauce. But since Judd is a Main Character and basically a male Elsie Dinsmore, eventually Westin will be made to see the errors of his ways and repent for having questioned the judgment of a Main Character. Though further illustrating why Ellanjay don't understand basic morality, Judd skips over the whole "Lying to the GC" offense, because apparently, Westin committed an even greater wrong: he lied to Rayford Steele! That is an even greater offense than Jerry (a Tribble who freely admitted to nuking London, a city of 8.63 million)! Because St. Rayford and Our Buck are the suns around which all the characters or planets in the GC universe revolve around! Even Zod and TurboJesus bow at their feet, hoping someday to be as awesome as St. Rayford and Our Buck!

Anyway, here's the conversation between Judd and Westin. Ignoring the Brenda Starr dialogue, like I said, I'm totally on Westin's side right now. Because his perspective is slightly less nonsensical than Judd's. I know that's not a very high standard, but given how bad this series is, my standards dropped below sea level a long time ago.

“The GC is one thing, but to lie to Rayford Steele about me—”

“I was trying to do you a favor and keep you out of trouble.”

“I know, and I’m grateful you wanted to look out for me—”

“Then drop it. If you have a problem with it, let me go my way and you go yours.”

Judd felt frustrated that the conversation had turned into a fight, but he still felt bad about Westin’s lies.

I'm assuming this conversation where Westin committed the unforgiveable offense of lying to St. Rayford took place in the previous chapter. Probably that part where Judd took some time out from RTCsplainning to ZZ Top about how the Jewish people are Cute but Wrong (and have been misinterpreting their own scriptures for who-knows-how-many millennia) to talk to Chang about something. I ignored most of that conversation, because it didn't present much snark material. I suppose I could turn back to said chapter and reread it, but what do you take me for? Someone who isn't lazy?

Anyway Judd and the others head to the first-floor conference for some meeting, Judd demonstrating his trademark sociopathy by blithely noting the body of a guy who fell down the stairs and broke his neck thanks to the Darkness plague. But Judd gets side-tracked by the most evil thing of all!

The sound began as a soft, crackling noise wafting through the streets. As Judd reached the top of the steps he made out the strains of a recorded version of “Hail Carpathia,” sung by the 500-voice Carpathianism Chorale:

Hail Carpathia, our lord and risen king;
Hail Carpathia, rules o’er everything.
We’ll worship him until we die;
He’s our beloved Nicolae.
Hail Carpathia, our lord and risen king.

Because the most evil thing the devil can do, is establish his own version of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, apparently. Also, again, songs work a lot better when you know something about scansion. Just like stories tend to be more interesting with conflict and when you show, rather than just tell us what's happening.

But the evil of Nicky's Choir pales in comparison to the horror he really has in store for the suffering people of the Global Community. Y'see, Nicky has decided to (and here I must warn any of my readers with heart conditions to clear out) set up stations to provide much-needed food and water to those suffering as a result of the plague! Can anyone think of any greater evil than providing food and water to those who need it?!

Of course, while the suffering citizens clamor to the supply stations for food, Westin and Judd demonstrate the great compassion that RTCs are known for, by smirking about all these people desperately seeking answers and actually accepting help and aid from the Satanic NWO that's providing help and aid.

Westin was right. Some were even grumbling against the potentate. “Carpathia’s always told people the big advantage of worshiping him was that he was a god you could see,” Westin said. “I guess the real God took care of that for a while.”

Okay, Westin has officially lost what few points I was willing to give him for standing up to a spineless little toady like Judd. Because that's what Judd is--a toady--and there's a reason that people tend to find the toady who cowers and does whatever the Bully wants him or her to do, to be so much worse than the Bully itself. Of course what makes this particular Bully even worse is that He (because God is totally a dude. Numerous verses attest to him having a penis) is doing this for OUR OWN GOOD!

Yeah, I'm going to post a C.S. Lewis quote. While he screwed up the whole "Liar-Lunatic-Lord" trilemma and I will never stop being pissed about "The Last Battle" from the Chronicles of Narnia, he did say some pretty insightful things on occasion. Plus, like I said, for all his faults, Lewis genuinely believed in the value of the craft. When he wrote the Chronicles of Narnia, he didn't just slap a Jesus fish on it, pepper in a few references here and there, and call his job finished: he did know that it was his duty, as a writer of children's fiction, to create good, quality fiction that children would enjoy reading. But anyway, here's the quote, one that I think most RTCs could benefit from knowing:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

Judd and the others go to a GC meeting and face no difficulties whatsoever in getting in. Because a Satanic worldwide government dedicated to crushing their enemies and ruthlessly suppressing dissent, has never heard of lying.

So they mingle among the GC and we do get this little moment of hilarity:

“Chief Akbar, can you give us an update on the situation?” the general said.

“I just returned from a meeting with the potentate. It appears that he is the only one we’ve found who can see in this most recent … phenomenon. You’ll be pleased to know his presence actually provides a glow.”

"Years of working at a nuclear power plant has left Nicolae Carpathia with a healthy glow. And left him as impotent as a Nevada Boxing Commissioner."

Sorry, but that Simpsons episode was the first reference to come to mind, which isn't too surprising. The show premiered when I was five and I've been watching ever since. I'm fairly certain if you were to do a diagram or something of my brain, you'd find a whole part of it devoted to Simpsons quotes. That and a section for Star Wars trivia as well as theme songs from cartoons I haven't seen since my age was in the single-digits. My brain obsessively catalogs useless information, which really distracts from the two never-ending quests I've committed myself to: one, to finally figure out which Chris in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the hottest (Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, and Chris Pratt) and two, my journey to pinpoint the precise moment Frank Miller went insane. Because how the same guy could give us both "Batman: Year One" and the clusterfuck that is "All-Star Batman and Robin" is driving me to madness!**

Okay, I'll stop with all the annoying geekish*** tangents that no one cares about (but me) and get back to tearing Ellanjay a new one.

So okay, we can add "Glows like E.T." to the list of Nicky's powers, right up there with the mind-whammy, charisma (though anyone would be more charismatic than the Tribbles), insane organizational abilities (because he's keeping up the infrastructure despite repeated back-to-back Acts of God, so clearly the dude's got some talents), being unaffected by the Heat plague, and somehow still being an exemplar of the eeevils of pacifism, despite resembling Genghis Khan a lot more than he resembles Gandhi.

They mention that New Babylon is currently the only place affected by the Light Plague and I find myself nitpicking, because that's what I do. Couldn't Nicky bring in outsiders to provide support/supplies to the beleaguered city or would any forces that suddenly show up there, be suddenly blinded as well? I find myself wondering whether there's some kind of residency requirement in this plague. Like do you have to have lived in New Babylon for a specific amount of time or would an Unsaved who just moved in the day before the plague, still be screwed? I ask these questions, because like I've said before, the series gives me nothing else to think about.

The GC continue to talk, very eeevilly talking about how Nicky is sending supplies and setting up a loud-speaker system in order to provide relief and calm his citizens. Quelle horror! Everyone knows that the true Christian response to a disaster isn't to get to work providing much-needed aid, but to stand and goof around with a guitar as the levees break, drowning a major metropolitan city full of people and destroying many others.

Towards the end of the chapter, they make some half-hearted attempt to have Nicky do some actual evil. Though I have a feeling they only put it in there in order to bolster their "They're the real anti-Semites, not us!" defense.

Akbar cleared his throat. “The current concern is with the Island facility. As you know, the potentate has considered closing this, and now he is anxious about the prisoners there.”

“Why is he anxious?” the general said.

“The Island is the only camp for Jews in the blacked-out area. He is requesting that you go ahead with extermination plans of all prisoners immediately.”

Judd glanced at Westin and Gunther who both looked horrified.

“How do you propose we do that since we can’t even see the prisoners?” a man in front of Judd said.

“We have every confidence that you will find a way. Shoot them. Gas them. Burn them. The potentate doesn’t care how you accomplish this, just that it gets done.”

No wonder Judd's justifiably horrified. The GC wants to exterminate every Jew, which is so unlike the RTCs. The RTCs just want them to surrender the cultural/religious identities that have sustained them through countless millennia of persecution and become good RTCs, or be pitched into Hell by the RTCs' personal strongman (TurboJesus) where they will suffer the physical and psychological equivalent of Auschwitz all the time, every day for the rest of eternity! Truly, the GC are the real anti-Semites in all this!

The chapter ends with the Tribbles deciding to make a bold stand against Nicky's tyrannical forces by taking their cell phones! I'm seriously not kidding here. Because even though the GC are under the blindness plague, apparently they don't notice Judd and the others lifting their cell phones off of the table. At some point, one of them even takes the cell phone right out of someone's hands.

Gunther answers the phone saying that the matter will be taken care of and since there are no other means of relaying messages quickly in the GC universe (because landlines and email do not exist apparently), that means we're off to the next great adventure that allows Ellanjay to both expand the page count and their breakfast nook: they're going to The Island to rescue all those foolish Jewishy Jews. I'll reassure you somewhat in saying that they mostly fast-forward through everything so the RTCsplainning isn't quite as bad a last week's but I don't know if you find that reassuring at all.

*As of right now, membership in the League of Awesome consists of Taylor Graham, Hasina Kamen, Joel, and Dr. Rose. If anyone knows of any other minor characters worthy of being promoted, let me know.

**I've been debating what the hell happened to Frank Miller. At first, I was operating under the "Replaced-by-an-Evil-Twin" or possible "Mirror-verse" version, but my brother came up with a theory I like even better: replaced by a Skrull shapeshifter. Yeah, the Skrull are part of the Marvel Comics Universe but I still like this theory because it's been proven time and time again, that the best way to figure out if someone's been replaced by a Skrull, is to punch them until they're unconscious. And I have no shortage of reasons for wanting to punch Frank Miller.

***In the great "Nerd vs. Geek debate and what it means," I totally have to label myself a Geek. Because the way I distinguish between Nerds and Geeks is that Nerds, despite their great social difficulties, they possess useful information. They are the Steve Jobs and Bill Gates and Stephen Hawkings of the world. Geeks on the other hand, despite having the same social difficulties as Nerds, Geeks have a wide command of useless information. If the safety of the world depended on me solving a quadratic equation, then it's been nice knowing all of you. If it depended on me humming the Dragon Dagger Theme from Power Rangers, then you guys better have one hell of a parade in my honor when this is all done.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Ellanjay Don't Get It, Like At All

For those of you who missed my all-caps ragedumps, you're in luck because like I said last week, this chapter is a doozy. If you don't like all-caps ragedumps, then skip this week's selection and wait for next week's. Next week's chapter, while boring and pointless, is a lot less rage-inducing.

Like I said, in a futile attempt inject some suspense and convince us that the characters are really in danger, Ellanjay take a page from Raymond Chandler and send a man in with a gun. Okay, if we must split hairs, it's a woman with a gun, but the basic principle is the same.

But since there are never any consequences to anything that happens in the LB-verse and since, like I said last week, the woman with a gun is STILL BLIND AS A RESULT OF THE LATEST ZOD PLAGUE! I'm going to picture the scene where she goes after Judd as playing out like this scene in Muppets Treasure Island. Thing is, at least Muppets are actually funny, whereas Ellanjay...their worst moments are when they try to be funny.

As you can imagine, the lady's shots are pretty much going wild. In spite of this, Judd decides not to rush her and disarm her or even hide behind a desk. Instead, he picks up a glass paperweight, shaped like Nicky, and throws it at a wall, causing her to freak out and start shooting everywhere. Me, I desperately wished that the GC WEREN'T ROCK-STUPID and had other weapons at their disposal, like batons (both electric and non-electric) as well as knives OR SOME FORM OF CLOSE-QUARTERS WEAPONRY SO THEY AREN'T COMPLETELY HELPLESS AND EASILY PWNED BY A WORTHLESS IDIOT LIKE JUDD! BASIC RULE OF LIFE: ALWAYS HAVE BACKUPS TO YOUR BACKUPS SO YOU'RE NOT COMPLETELY SCREWED IF WEAPON A FAILS FOR SOME REASON!

As you can imagine, given my love of the Internet, I am familiar with the Evil Overlord List and how the LB-verse would be much improved if Ellanjay were as well. Not going to quote all the lists, but a few rules did stand out.

23. I will keep a special cache of low-tech weapons and train my troops in their use. That way -- even if the heroes manage to neutralize my power generator and/or render the standard-issue energy weapons useless -- my troops will not be overrun by a handful of savages armed with spears and rocks.

56.My Legions of Terror will be trained in basic marksmanship. Any who cannot learn to hit a man-sized target at 10 meters will be used for target practice.

197. I will explain to my Legions of Terror that guns are ranged weapons and swords are not. Anyone who attempts to throw a sword at the hero or club him with a gun will be summarily executed.

After throwing the paperweight, Judd goes to ZZ Top and continues to try to convert one of those foolish Christ-killers Jews to RTCianity.

ZZ Top talks about how there have been all these mysterious appearances at beheadings and whatnot.

Zvi was panicking now, breathing heavily and shaking. “A friend told me he saw a man appear at one of the mass beheadings of Judah-ites. Right out of thin air. He wasn’t there, and then he was. Do you think that was from God?”

“What did the man say?”

“He talked about God’s forgiveness, like you.”

“I’ve seen angels do the same thing,” Judd said. “They come as God’s messengers to warn people about not taking Carpathia’s mark. And they plead with the undecided to choose Christ. It’s another display of God’s love.”

Yeah, it's a truly powerful display of God's love, akin to how an abusive asshole, after beating their spouse or kid senseless, will clean and dress their victims' wounds, often apologizing and saying it won't ever happen again, I just lost my temper, and all that.


This is really the only justifiable response to this...


Because as the Book of Jonah, chapters 3 and 4 make it clear, GOD CAN CHANGE HIS MIND! I understand why the Old Testament God makes some people blanch, but compared with the God of Ellanjay...yeah, it's not even a contest. In fact, aren't Ellanjay basically placing limits on a being they believe is limitless, by saying that God cannot change his mind?

But I have a feeling they probably don't read the last two chapters of Jonah. Though they really, really should.

ZZ Top is all "I won't take Nicky's Mark!" and Judd preaches the Gospel of George W. Bush by saying,“It’s not enough to be against Nicolae. Jesus said those who are not for him are against him. That puts you in some pretty awful company.”

As you can imagine, every time I stumble onto a line like that in these books, I have uncomfortable flashbacks to 2003 where us anti-War types (of which, I was one) were constantly having to explain that being opposed to invading Iraq doesn't mean we love Saddam Hussein. Given the ideology and makeup of the Bush II administration, it's not too hard to see the parallels. Because for some reason, while the Right is able to grasp the idea that cities and states tend to contain large groups of people, many of whom have little if any influence over government affairs, for some reason, they think that only one person lives in Afghanistan or Iraq or Whatever Middle Eastern Country the Right is chomping at the bit to go to war with.

Judd sees the woman lying down and pointing the gun at her head. For those of you who thought that previous all-caps ragedump was impressive, just you wait. Because to quote Bachman-Turner Overdrive: You ain't seen nothing yet.

And I know I'm doing another bigass quote, but you know by now I believe in spreading the misery around.

The woman looked wild, clawing at her skin until it bled. Big patches of hair were gone from her head. “Oh, God, help me. I don’t want to go through another one of these!” She finally stopped and put out a hand toward Judd. “Who are you?”

“A friend. Don’t be afraid. I’m not going to hurt you.”

“You’re one of them, aren’t you? One of the Judahites.”

Judd didn’t answer. He simply stared at the -6 on her forehead, signifying that she was from the United North American States.

“Before the disappearances, before any of the bad things started happening, I went to one of those big meetings,” she said. “The kind they used to have in stadiums.” Saliva ran down the woman’s lips and onto her chin. She was sobbing as she talked, reaching out, then pulling her hand back. “A man sang and then another one stood up and talked about the Bible. I didn’t want any part of it. My friends and I were there to make fun of the meeting. And then I saw some people from my neighborhood going forward. I almost went with them, just to see what would happen. I almost did.”

“Why didn’t you?” Judd said.

“I thought religion was for weak people. I thought I had plenty of time to decide. I wanted to have fun with my life. But …”

With this, the woman flew into a frenzy of scratching and wailing. Her eyes flew open and Judd saw how hollow they looked, as if he could see all the way to her soul.

When she settled, Judd came closer. “Let me help you to a safe place.”

“Where can I go in this blackness that’s safe?” she spat. “I might as well throw myself off the side of the building. There’s no hope!”

Judd wanted to tell her she could call out to God and be forgiven, but he couldn’t. The best he could do for her was ease her pain a little.

“I know what I’ve done!” the woman yelled. “I had a lot of chances to say yes to God, but I kept putting it off. Kept saying no. And now look what happened.”

I'm fighting the urge to repost the link to that Nostalgia Critic clip I posted earlier. You should thank me. Instead I scoured YouTube searching for a clip from The Simpsons, specifically their parody of Left Behind called Left Below. Because it is so close to the actually thing that it is barely satire.

Because Ellanjay, like I and Fred before me, have said before, they are Jonah. They're preaching the Gospel not because they genuinely care about people and want them to be saved, but because like Jonah, they're obliged by God to give those heathens, The Requirement. Their only consolation is that after having done The Requirement, RTCs are completely off the hook. They get to set back and laugh as those horrible people who believe slightly different things from them, burn for all eternity! After all, you did your part. CLEARLY THE BLAME LIES WITH THEM FOR NOT CHANGING THEIR CHERISHED BELIEFS AT THE DROP OF A HAT!

:deep breath: I knew I was in it for this week, but really...

As you can imagine, Judd displays the warmth and compassion we've come to associate with RTCs.

Judd sat back, drained of emotion. How many other people on earth could say the same thing? How many had hardened their hearts toward God, making jokes of the message or saying they would get around to it later? Judd had been one of them. He had ignored the truth for so long, but God had given him a second chance.

That's the difference between the forces of good and the forces of evil in these books. Satan has no value for human life, which is why he does his best to try to clean up the massive mess God created, so as to lessen the death toll. God on the other hand, values human life and is so willing to not let a single one perish that he DECIDES TO KILL EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM!

Yeah, in order to both soothe my temper and allow me to gush like a fangirl, I'm going to talk about Avengers 2: Age of Ultron. Because the Marvel Cinematic Universe is nothing but awesome, because the people involved know that there should be a clear difference between the heroes and the villains. I was nothing but impressed in the final climatic battle, when Ultron is basically like "Okay, you can stop me or save the citizens of this city" and Captain America, along with everyone else on the team, responds by saying,"STFU! We're doing both!" And they proceed to do so.

Because that's the kind of thing heroes do: when given a choice between options A and B, they try to find an option C, which is all of the above.

In fact, that's why of the Avengers, Captain America is my favorite. While I don't hate angsty heroes, at the same time, his optimism is quite refreshing. Optimism is too often conflated with naïveté, but I don't think that describes the Captain. He knows there are bad people in the world, but he steadfastly believes that they are far out-weighed by all the good people and that when push comes to shove, the good people will stand up and do the right thing.

Plus, previous entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe prove that the Captain, when faced with having to choose between the lives of many against the lives of few, he will be pragmatic and choose the many. Because as that previous clip shows, he does give his former friend a chance to back down, but when said friend makes it clear that he's not going to, the Captain gets down to business and does whatever he has to in order to save the world.

:sighs: If we could just spend more time gushing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we'd all be a lot happier. I know I would be. But this blog is devoted to tearing Left Behind: the Kids a new one, so let's get back to business.

Judd does display some compassion. He takes the sobbing woman to a back room and gives her soda and sandwiches. That is seriously all that does. Though to be fair, that's still more compassion that Our Buck or St. Rayford ever demonstrate towards anyone.

“I know he tried to reach me,” the woman whispered. “I watched them bring people through here and treat them like dogs, then talk about peace and love and goodwill. I knew in my heart it was fake and the other message was true.” She looked up and opened her mouth. Her chin quivered as she tried to form the words. Then tears welled in her eyes.

Judd guessed what she was trying to say. She wanted to know if there was any hope, if God would somehow give her one more chance. But the woman must have known the answer. She put her head on the table and sobbed.

And that's the extent of said Unnamed Female Guard's participation in this chapter. No soul-searching from Judd whatsoever. He can't be bothered even to pray and say to God, "Yeah, I know about this whole Mark business but couldn't you cut this person a little slack here?"

It's probably for the best, though: if Judd started asking God to cut this one person some slack, he might :gasp: :choke: start thinking of other people, realize that they matter as well and ask God why he can't cut them some slack as well! We mustn't allow such heretical ideas to take root!

So Judd and ZZ Top walk down the hall and we get what makes up the bulk of this chapter: RTCsplainning!

Yeah, when an amateur scholar like me (I took a Bible Study course in college and I read about theology in my spare time) can easily poke holes in your theology, you've failed.

“How could you have compassion for that woman when she wanted to kill you?” Zvi said.

“Because I was exactly like her before the disappearances. For some reason, God gave me mercy and allowed me to call on him before it was too late.”

“Why do I still have a chance when that woman doesn’t?”

"Because thanks in part to the writers, God is weaker than a tattoo with a computer chip in it, making it so that he can't save you if you have one for any reason. Plus the writers deemed that you would serve as a good representation of all Jews everywhere as a means of deflating criticism that they're anti-Semitic, even though all they want is for Jewish people to stop being Jewish. So that's why they've let you temporarily off the hook. My advice: convert or wind up a brief sad example for me, the Main Character, to reflect on."

Anyway, ZZ Top says, "Tell me why you think Jesus is the Messiah," thus paving the way for many wrong-headed lectures. Let's brace ourselves.

Judd starts with the Old Testament. I'll post his entire thing on it, so we can all enjoy just how wrong he is.

Judd began in the Old Testament and from memory shared many prophecies that looked forward to the Messiah. “In Genesis, God curses the serpent and says that a descendant of Eve will crush the serpent’s head. Jesus won the victory over the devil on the cross. In Isaiah it’s predicted that a virgin will conceive a child and give birth to a son. Mary, Jesus’ mother, was a virgin.

“In one of the little books, Micah, I think, it says that out of Bethlehem will come a ruler over Israel whose origins are from ancient times. Jesus was born in Bethlehem.”

If you're wondering, the one about the descendant of Eve crushing the serpent's head, that's in Genesis 3, verse 15 to be specific. And it really is an astounding prediction. Given that Eve is considered to be the Mother of all Humans, it really takes a lot of prophetic insight to predict that one of her many offspring will at some point in the future, step on a snake.

I can't be the only one wondering what would happen if I pointed out that there are two creation stories and two flood stories and from there, asked them which one they believed was true. Because if the Bible is inerrant with each book being equally authoritative...

Judd is clearly speaking about Isaiah 7 where there's a verse about how "a virgin shall conceive." Oddly enough, the original Hebrew version of Isaiah doesn't use the word traditionally used to refer to virgins "betulah." Instead, the word they use is "almah" which Wikipedia defines as:

a young woman of childbearing age who has not yet had a child, and who may be an unmarried virgin or a married young woman.[1] The term occurs nine times in the Hebrew Bible – see usage below.

So yeah, Isaiah may have just said, "A young lady will have a baby," which most will agree is different from "A woman who has never so much as masturbated, never mind performed the filthy act of sex (which we only perform in order to fill the pews, not because we enjoy it), will miraculously bear a baby."

As many scholars point out, Paul's letters are the oldest part of the New Testament and it's rather interesting that for all his striving to try to convince people that Jesus is the Messiah, he doesn't ever mention a Virgin Birth. You'd think something that notable would be worth bringing up.

Ellanjay do a little better in that there is a part of Micah that speaks of a great ruler coming out of Bethlehem in Micah 5. But once again, Ellanjay assume that the writers of the gospels recorded exactly what happened, even though the oldest of the gospels, Mark, was written several decades after Jesus had lived and died. Also, Mark doesn't have a birth story in it.

But as aunursa will point out, if you actually read Micah 5, compare the actions of said predicted ruler with those of Jesus. Granted the gospels are not history books, no matter what Ellanjay say, but even so, Jesus is a very different figure from the one in Micah. Micah's ruler triumphs over all his enemies; Jesus died a criminal's death on the cross.

Plus since Bethlehem wasn't exactly a little one-horse town at the time of Jesus's birth, I really doubt that it's an astounding insight to suggest that at some point, somebody will be born in that town and grow up to do great things. As for the "origins from ancient lines" bit, given that Ellanjay believe that Adam and Eve are the parents of all humans everywhere, that's not much of an accomplishment. Also, since both David and his son, Solomon, had multiple wives/concubines, I doubt that they each produced only one direct offspring, so you can't use the Line of David bit as well.

ZZ Top is all "But Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah, right?" Thus allowing Judd, in a masterful display of Circular Reasoning, to quote several passages from the Gospels. Even though, like I said, the Gospels weren't meant to be history books. Gospel means Good News and that's essentially what they were: these guys trying to spread the word of a guy who had done amazing things and helped them to do amazing things as well.

In fact, even if we assumed that the Gospels were meant to be history tracts, ancient people weren't as scrupulous about history as we are. Ancient historians tended to compile history not so much as "Here's exactly what happened" but as a series of stories from which a moral can be drawn. Also, basic fact when it comes to studying the field of history: there is no such thing as an unbiased study of history. Even if you just listed the facts, the mere act of choosing which facts to list and which to leave out, is in itself a product of the writer's bias.

Anyway, there's a brief interlude in the "Convert the Jew" lecture as Judd receives a phone call from Chang, who tells him that St. Rayford will fly him and everyone else out to Petra. Wooo...Just remember that this detour in New Babylon allowed Ellanjay to build another wing on their mansions, so it can't be called pointless, at all.

Anyway, as you probably guessed, the chapter ends with ZZ Top, after doing the Obligatory "How could I have been so blind?" self-flagellating, saying The Prayer. After which, he can see. I must confess that frankly I wonder about The Prayer. Ellanjay treat it in a manner akin to the "Bloody Mary" chant where if you do it the right way with the precise amount of sincerity dictated, you win. I sometimes wonder if there's a way to measure the precise amount of sincerity needed. Obviously, you can be too insincere but I wonder if you can go too far and not be insincere enough.

Just remember that unless you say The Prayer, it doesn't count. Not even if you're in a foxhole and your friends are dying around you. Unless you say The Prayer, you can't just shout "O God, Save Us!" Because no matter how sincere you might be, even if you genuinely believe that the Christian God will answer your prayer, it doesn't count.

And I realize I spent a lot of time this week being angry and probably not that funny. I like to think I was at least informative in that I gave you stuff to think about, but in the interest of lightning the mood, I'll provide a link to a music video by Veggie Tales that is both funny, informative, and somewhat related to what we've been talking about this week. Plus, it proves that Christian Art doesn't always suck nard. Jonah Was A Prophet.

Ellanjay could really stand to listen to the chorus of that song, is all I'm going to say.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Facing the Idiot Hydra

Like I said for those of you who enjoy all those scenes where an RTC patronizingly explains to a Jewish character how they've apparently been misinterpreting their own scriptures for centuries, you're in luck this week. And of course, said lectures also come with a dollop of "The GC are the real anti-Semites, because they want to kill Jews, whereas RTCs merely want them to abandon the faith that has sustained them through countless millennia, surrender their identities, and become good RTCs, which is totally different!"

So Judd and Gunther basically just walk in and what follows results in me headdesking a lot. Because I'm fairly certain you'd have a more difficult time shoplifting a pack of gum from the mini-mall than these characters have in busting out the prisoners.

Basically all they do is walk up to this one chick, wave around a paper that claims contains orders from Nicky (I won't use the word "Potentate." I have a few principles but I stand by them) demanding that the prisoners be let go. And while I know New Babylon is under the effects of this whole Blindness plague (except for our brave heroes), I'm still like "Seriously?" Because you'd think that given Nicky's top-notch communications network, someone would have radioed in something like, "Yeah, we've been struck blind," and from there, order all their employees to stay where they are and continue to do their jobs until things get worked out.

But that's one of the many things that bugs me about this series: not only are the heroes consistently caught off guard by the latest Act of God, but so are the villains. Even though Nicky is possessed by Satan and there have been countless works written by PMDs listing when all this horrible stuff will go down. I thought Nicky's shtick was that he knew exactly what was going to happen somehow believed that everything was going to work out, so long as he follows everything to the letter. Granted, it makes no sense because if he knows what's going to happen, then he knows that he gets punted to Hell in the end.

Initially, when I started this series, I just assumed that Nicky was basically a puppet for Zod to carry out his work, that he had no will of his own. Granted that's pretty sick--the idea that Zod created Nicky to be the anti-Christ, yet when all this is said and done, he gets punted for being the anti-Christ even though he lacked the free will needed to change his fate--but at least it was somewhat consistent.

Anyway, my long-winded point is, why is Nicky completely caught off guard by all this? Why isn't he like, "Okay this plague will last X number of hours. Until then, stay where you are and don't let anyone go until it lifts?"

But again, if this series had villains that actually posed a threat...yeah there'd be no way we'd have gotten to 40 kids books and 16 adult ones. Because I have an easier time listing villains who were less effective than Nicky than I do trying to think of more effective ones. There are toddlers playing with chemicals found under the sink that are more of a threat to the world than Nicky! Zygotes are more of a threat to the world than Nicky! Probably even Aquaman from the Superfriends is more intimidating than Nicky!

And yes, I know, Aquaman in the comics is a lot cooler, but y'know I love any excuse to indulge in my love of crappy Saturday Morning Cartoons put out by people the Superfriends' case, I think it's safe to assume that everyone involved, was on massive amounts of drugs. Probably even the kids who originally watched that series. I'm not sure how, but it's the only logical conclusion for the sheer amount of WTFery that is the Superfriends.

So anyway, Judd and Gunther find the seven, but three of them have Marks, so they're going to let them hang. Though I could ask why exactly they'd be in prison. They did what Nicky wanted, surrendered their identities and accepted the Mark that means they will burn for all eternity. I suppose they could be like Dr. Rose (who isn't dead, dammit!) in that they accepted the Mark, but have since fallen out of love of Nicky, but you know how Ellanjay feel about nuance. They believe in the Gospel According to George W. Bush: you're either with us or you're with the enemy. The idea that people could object to God and Nicky...something tells me if we were to try to explain that to them, what would result is an eruption that makes Pompeii look like a piker in comparison. That is, if they don't just start reciting their talking points over and over again until you say, "Screw it," and walk away. Because if your opponent realizes you can't be reasoned with, gives up, and walks away, you've won the argument.

So Gunther decides to RTCsplain to one of the Jewish prisoners. And if you guessed that we get an example of how RTCs simultaneously believe that all non-RTCs are mind-blowingly ignorant of Jesus yet at the same time, are well-versed in the bizarre lingo of the RTC culture but pretend otherwise...again, congratulations. Wish I could say you could redeem any of the points you get for acquiring this knowledge for anything useful, but I'm afraid not.

Here's the conversation:

“How do we know you’re not the GC with more of your tricks?” Longhair said.

“We come in the name of the Prince of Peace, the King of kings, the one who was called the Light of the World.”

“Who is this light?” a bearded man said. “And when can he come down here?”

Gunther chuckled. “I will tell you about this light. In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God. He was in the beginning with God. He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn’t make. Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone. The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”


Because apparently the Jewish people are so ignorant that they haven't heard of the first few verses of the Gospel of John or that apparently Christians worship some guy whom they also call The Prince of Peace, the King of Kings, and the Light of the World. They somehow have never heard of this. They never went to school or read a book or watched a movie or a television show. Because, like it or not, Christianity has had a major impact on the world and as a result, even if a form of entertainment doesn't explicitly say, "This is totally about Jesus," Christian motifs still show up. In order to understand what people are talking about when they say Superman is a Christ figure, you have to have a basic knowledge of who Jesus Christ is and what people believe about the guy, even if you don't agree one hundred percent. Of course, in Superman's case, the idea that so many call the character a Christ figure, is somewhat amusing, given that his creators were both Jewish. But I think I've made my point.

Though I suppose that passage could have been so much worse. Ellanjay could have decided that all Jewish people speak in backwards talk like Yoda or that they all began all their sentences with, "You want?" Like the guy could have been like, "You want that this guy can come down here?" or something like that.

Because like I keep saying, I freely admit that I like to exaggerate for comedic effect, but in Ellanjay's case, I don't think I'm really exaggerating much. Whenever one of their characters identifies another character as Jewish, I always assume it's because said Jewish character is wearing a kippah, eating a bagel, sporting sidelocks and a beard (even if they're female), and shouting, "Oy Vey!" at various intervals. That or in this not-so-distant future, the Jewish people wear special codpieces that accentuate their circumcised penises. Again, even if they're female.* Because that's what Ellanjay believe regarding the Jewish people: that they're basically a collective like the Borg, only with more beards and fewer electronic components.

Anyway, Unnamed Longhaired Guy is like, "Yeah, I'll take my chances" and is shuffled off-screen. But fear not: a younger guy is curious, thus giving Judd an opening so he can rack up another Christ-killer convert for God.

Of course, the dude has an incredibly Jewish name, Zvi Zeidman, but I'll be damned if I'm going to waste time learning it, especially since I don't know if we'll ever see him again, so I'll just call him ZZ Top. There's probably more dignity in being named ZZ Top. Plus the girls go crazy for a sharp-dressed man.

I know, I should stop indulging in my love of eighties cheese, especially since the eighties also gave us Ronald Reagan, aka the guy who responsible for a lot of the idiot rightwing ideas that we're still trying to get out from underneath of. :(

But before we get into the RTCsplainning, Judd shows off his awesome super-vision, by reading an email.

Regarding the latest Jewish camp on the Island, I wish to relate good news. The transport you sent arrived fine with only two dead prisoners. We have experienced great success in keeping the inmates alive and, at the same time, miserable. The camp doctor has come up with a concoction that we have to feed only once a day, and it sustains the prisoners for twenty-four hours.

Truly the GC's capacity for cruelty knows no bounds! Can anyone think of anything more evil than giving a prisoner one meal a day that satisfies their daily calorie requirement?! I mean, sure the GC could be giving them nothing, thus condemning the prisoners to a slow, horrible death from starvation, or they could feed them very little, while working them to death building weapons and other projects on behalf of the GC, again, condemning them to die slowly and horribly from starvation. But clearly the GC's method of giving them one meal that sustains them for a day, is so much worse!

Judd reads a little more about something called The Island, which apparently is located on the Tigris and is bad, somehow. I'll assume this is something that they talk about in the Adult books, but given that I have enough worthless knowledge clogging up valuable neuron space, I'm not going to bother to hold onto this, not even on the off-chance that it'll come into play later on.

Ellanjay continue to present their "The GC are the real anti-Semites, not us!" defense by having ZZ Top talk about how the GC are so much worse than the Nazis:

“It’s worse than the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s. The GC torture their prisoners to the point of death but don’t allow them the decency of dying. I’ve even heard they take videos of the beatings and torture and send them to Carpathia.”

I can't be the only one fighting the urge to point out that the majority of the Nazis identified as Christian. If you talked to their friends and neighbors, they would be the kind of people that they would speak well of. They attended church every week, paid the bills on time, and were kind to their wives and kids. Yet at the same time they were doing horrible things to innocent people.

Because like Alexander Solzhenitsyn said, in The Gulag Archipelago, "If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

Because what Ellanjay stubbornly refuses to accept is that all the horrible people of history, your Hitlers and Stalins and whatnot, weren't supernatural beings that inexplicably bamfed onto Earth and decided to do horrible things for shits and giggles; they, along with all the many people who carried out their orders, were people, ordinary, horrible people.

Yeah, I'm going to put in another quote, this one by Hannah Arendt from her infamous Eichmann in Jerusalem book. I suppose it would help if Ellanjay read the entire book from cover to cover, but really just this one quote would probably help:

The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal. From the viewpoint of our legal institutions and of our moral standards of judgment, this normality was much more terrifying than all the atrocities put together, for it implied — as had been said at Nuremberg over and over again by the defendants and their counsels — that this new type of criminal, who is in actual fact hostis generis humani, commits his crimes under circumstances that make it well-nigh impossible for him to know or to feel that he is doing wrong.

Judd is all "You don't have to stay in the dark." and ZZ Top is like "So you're going to preach now?" And Judd lays it out for the poor befuddled Jew, who, well I'd say he was raised by wolves which is why he has never heard any of Judd's standard boilerplate theology before and acts like all this is new, but I'm fairly certain even if ZZ Top had been raised by wolves, he wouldn't be this clueless.

“Basically, God loves you and wants you to be his child. He wants to adopt you into his family, but he won’t do that unless you want to be a part of it.”

“What do you mean?”

“God’s perfect. He can’t allow anything near him that’s imperfect. And you and I are both sinful. We’ve done bad things.”

“I’ve been taught since I was young that the path to God was through obeying his commands.”

“True, but you know as well as I do that you haven’t lived up to every command. And if you break even one, you’re out of the program. That’s why God had to provide a sacrifice, so we could be forgiven.”

"But by that logic, if I say The Prayer with the precise amount of passion and sincerity demanded, I can do whatever I want and still wind up in Heaven, so long as I ask for forgiveness afterwards for the horrible things I do, right?"

Oh how I wish ZZ Top would say that. Just like I wish he'd point out "Okay so God's perfect, which is why we can't be around him, because we're imperfect. Even though God created us to be imperfect in the first place. How does that make sense? And why exactly can't he just say, 'Sorry about that screw-up,' and wave his hand and make us perfect?"

But like I said, the Rapture probably will come and go before we see an honest skeptic asks a question that isn't pure weaksauce. Just like I'll wait in vain for a character who isn't defined solely by his/her ethnic identity or for a villain that isn't made of incompetence.

But there's more...

“Zvi, have you ever considered the possibility that you’ve been living in darkness your whole life? Do you know God’s peace, feel his forgiveness, his love?”

“You can’t know those things in this life.”

“Yes, you can. Again, I’m not trying to preach, and this is your decision, but God is real and he wants to come into your life right now and make a difference. He wants to show you mercy, but you have to accept it. I’ve met a lot of people in the past few years who’ve been raised exactly like you, and when they see the truth, they can’t believe they were blind to it for so long.”

:whimpers: For those of you, like me, cringing at all the illogic, I really hate to break it to you, but next week, it'll only get worse. That's the beauty of this series: every time you cringe and think, "Now there's no way they can come up with something worse than this scene," Ellanjay dig deep and find a way.

Or in other words, for all of you who enjoy my profanity-laced, all-caps ragedumps, you have much to look forward to next week.

Because I don't think you could sway a brain-damaged toddler with this logic yet in the next chapter...the only way I can describe it is, the way I describe a lot of things: through pop culture references. Basically the next know that scene in The Princess Bride where Wesley gets a year sucked off his life and all he can do is whimper afterwards? Yeah, I have whole new insight into how he must have felt?

Ellanjay, in yet another futile attempt at suspense, end the chapter by having the female guard come in and threaten them with a gun. I suppose it would be threatening if she could actually see to aim it and if you didn't know, even without having read the books or my posts, that it will all come to nothing, but they tried.

I could also point out that there's no logical reason why she suddenly is like "Hey, you're those bad guys I'm supposed to be executing by the hundreds!" when earlier, she barely bat an eye when they claimed to be GC. Because since the GC operate on the honor system, all Judd and Gunther have to do is say they're with the GC and it totally works. Because an evil Satanic worldwide government has never ever heard of lying.

But now that the plot needs some suspense, suddenly she's threatening them. :sighs: I'd say this entire series is an Idiot Plot, but that feels piddling and inadequate. This series is a Idiot Hydra: no matter how many idiot plots/characters you cut away, they just sprout more.

*I suppose I should apologize for that visual, but hey, Misery Loves Company. Brace yourselves for next week, though.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

I Get Pedantic (Or Am Still Totally on Satan's Side)

So for those of you who didn't read last week's post, the GC are stumbling around in the dark as a result of God's latest plague which is a plague of darkness that solely hits New Babylon for reasons! Our heroes are able to see somewhat, enough that they can get around and laugh at all those hapless unbelievers, which is what takes up most of the chapter.

But seriously the amount of Deus Ex Machina in this's like trying to play freeze tag or something with that one irritating kid. No matter how many times you get him, he's like "Nuh-uh I have [Superpower X] which makes me immune" until you want to just smack the hell out of him and go play with someone else. Another bit of advice for writers: Invincible Characters are boring as hell!

So Gunther, Westin, and Judd are driving around talking about what's happened and what will happen. Gunther, based on his reading of the Bible, believes that God's going to nuke New Babylon. Because the verse says that the city will be destroyed by fire and the only thing that causes fire, are nukes apparently. Ellanjay probably look down on people who are obsessed with Nostradamus yet they fall into a lot of the same traps as Nostradamus groupies.

But in a rare display of, I don't know what to call this, Gunther suggests that they take advantage of the light plague and use it to free GC prisoners while the GC are stumbling around like idiots. :Dramatic Prairie Dog: Okay, who are you and what have you done with the actual Tribbles? Show me on the doll where the aliens probed you, Gunther! Because as an RTC, you should have internalized the sacred Tribbles ethos of doing nothing! After all, Ellanjay have shown that nothing but bad comes of violating this ethos! The few Tribbles who have actually done stuff, inevitably wind up dead! So WTF?!

Gunther held up a hand. “If Judd’s right—and I think he is—we still have time to do some good here.”

“What do you have in mind?” Judd said.

“Radios and computers are working,” Gunther said. “We might be able to communicate with other locations and get the GC to release prisoners, maybe foul up their system. Plus, there’s a holding facility not far from here. Captured Jews are sent to concentration camps from there. Since the heat wave ended, they’ve probably brought new people there.”

Okay, so since Judd suggested it and since Judd is a Main Character, thus higher up on the Great Chain of Being than Gunther, that's why he suddenly wants to do stuff. Still haven't ruled out a possible pod person invasion, though.

I did read the next chapter after this one and for those who you who felt there weren't enough scenes where the Author's Mouthpiece patronizingly explains to a Jewish character that they've apparently misinterpreted their own scriptures for countless millennia, don't worry: we've got one coming down the pipe for you. :sighs: It's times like this, I think of that quote from King of the Hill where John Redcorn (an Indian) goes, "Five Hundred Years of Oppression, and somehow I find this the most irritating." Except, of course, the Jewish people kind of have the Indians beat on that account.

[Slight Tangent] Since one of the perks of having an eBook is the "Search Inside" feature, I decided to use it and if they ever mention Joel or Aron again. For those of you who have forgotten, Joel and Aron are a pair of Jewish brothers, but Joel took the Mark in order to keep his brother from starving to death. Because feeding the hungry is for dirty hippies. Since when has Jesus fed anyone? Though he has regretted taking the Mark ever since, by the characters' own admission, Joel is going to burn for all eternity. :pauses to scream a little: Last we left Aron, the RTCs were dropping him off in Petra to be with his parents, which gave me some hope. Because they didn't do the obligatory "Character Kneels Before Zod" scene, I thought maybe Aron would get out of this somehow. But I also remembered that Ellanjay love to do that cute trick where they shuffle a character off-stage for so long and with so little mention that you can't pick on the reader for forgetting that they existed, so I checked. And neither Joel or Aron's names turn up in this book. I'm not sure what to make of that. Just know that Joel is one of the few characters in the League of Awesome, along with Taylor, Hasina, and Dr. Rose. If you know of anyone else who deserves promotion to the league, let me know. [/Slight Tangent that probably bored people to tears]

But Judd has to call his one shot at getting laid before God comes back and takes away sex for everyone. Vicki is all "Tell me you've gotten out of here" and Judd has to tell her that with all the GC planes destroyed by the heat wave and Westin's plane destroyed as well, they're not going to get out any time soon.

Uh, yeah, guys you know there are other ways of getting to Petra that don't involve the use of planes. Okay, I went to the wikia for this series (the things I do in order to make my snarks accurate). According to the wikia for this series, New Babylon is located on the ruins of old Babylon in Iraq. I'm not going to dig too deep and ask which old Babylon they're dealing with (I'm pathetic but not that pathetic, not yet anyway), but most place that ancient civilization as roughly in the southern part of Iraq. Since we can't pin it down too much, I'll just assume that New Babylon is located somewhere between the Tigris and the Euphrates and all that. In fact to make this a little easier for my poor suffering readers, we're going to pin down Babylon's location as the modern city of Hillah, Babil Governorate, Iraq, just so we can have a few parameters to work with.

That leaves Petra. Petra's location can be more easily pinned down, in the southern Jordan governorate of Ma'an. The nearest town to Petra is Wadi Musa, so we'll use that in order to pin down the distance between the two points. After doing all this digging, I'd estimate that there are 551 miles between Our Heroes and the Holy City of Refuge. That is a good distance to be sure, but what I'm getting at with all this nitpicking and obsessing over geography, is THE READERS CAN PROBABLY THINK OF MANY WAYS FOR THE HEROES TO GET TO PETRA THAT DOESN'T INVOLVE USING A PLANE!

I know Ellanjay wouldn't dream of letting their characters do something as gauche as use the two limbs located on either side of their sin spear, and I admit, I'd certainly try to avoid traveling that far using either a bicycle or my own two feet (don't even get me started on the kind of terrain Our Lazy-Ass Heroes would face), but really, the only means of travel that come to mind is a large metal gas-guzzling phallic symbol?!

Okay, given what we know about Ellanjay and how desperate they are to assert the manliness of their heroes, their preference for the large gas-guzzling phallic symbol way of travel isn't too surprising. But even with my amateur knowledge of geography, I know New Babylon probably isn't the only city in Iraq. Ever hear of a little place called Baghdad? They could, travel by foot or bike or vehicle until they're out of New Babylon, then use their contacts to get someone to fly them out to Petra. Spoiler alert: no one suggests this. [/Insanely long rant about Geography]

Sorry about the previous rant. I swear I'm not normally this pedantic. But like I keep telling aunursa and many others, if this series had given me something, anything to think about, like a character or a plot point worth following, I wouldn't so obsessed with pinning down minor details like this. But Ellanjay failed as writers, so I have no choice but to be all irritating and nitpicky.

Judd tells Vicki about Gunther's plan. Vicki continues to wring her hands and express concern for Judd's safety, before realizing that though she may be a Main Character, which boosts her above other characters, that still doesn't overcome her primary defect: that she's a girl with girl parts. So she tells Judd to be careful but to go and set free as many captives as he can. And that's the extent of Vicki's participation in this chapter.

Gunther did do something smart by destroying one of the Mark applicators. Though given that Nicky can probably easily have one shipped in via rail (another form of transportation our heroes could take advantage of) or by air once this plague is over, it probably just slowed him down a little. To be fair, that's more than what they have been doing and it's nice to see them behaving somewhat like the resistance group they claim to be, but really, you wished that Ellanjay had done some research on guerilla warfare or resistance groups. Because when a lazy English major can poke holes in your heroes' Great Heroic Action Against Tyranny...yeah.

To be fair, said destruction probably has value from a symbolic standpoint, but destroying one machine out of the many many others Nicky has...Good luck. Especially since Nicky has proven over and over again that he runs a top-notch government with infrastructure most people can only dream of, so like I said, he'll replace the broken machine pretty soon.

Anyway, I'd thought that Judd and Westin and Gunther were going to go liberate a GC Holding Facility and liberate it, which actually would be an impressive Act Against Tyranny, but instead, they dick around by going to a restaurant. And as said before, while I know we're supposed to be on the side of Our Compassionate Heroes as they smirk at the horrific sufferings of others, can see where I'm going with all this, can't you?

Here's a hint: the heroes don't come across as particularly compassionate when they whine about the wailing of all those suffering heathens.

I'll just provide a few quotes for you, without commentary, because there are times in which commentary is insufficient/redundant.

“Oh, Nicolae, you have all power,” an older woman cried from across the street. “You bring light and peace and hope. Please, Nicolae, save us!”

“Shut up, woman!” a young man said. He was sitting with his back against the wall of a building next to the restaurant. “Neither Nicolae nor Fortunato can save you from this.”

“Blasphemer!” an older man yelled. “You let Nicolae or any of his Peacekeepers hear you say that and you’re a dead man.”

The young man scratched at a bloody scab on his neck. “Death would be welcomed right now.”

Gunther and the others went inside the restaurant, stepping over two bodies of people who had killed themselves. Judd stayed behind and inspected the young man’s forehead. No mark. But when Judd leaned down and caught a glimpse of the man’s right hand, he saw the clear mark of Carpathia.

The young man took a swipe at the air, missing Judd’s head by inches. “Who are you? What do you want?” He had pulled his shirt up and was rubbing up against the coarse brick, trying to get some relief. His back was bleeding.

“I’m a friend,” Judd said softly. “You don’t have to be afraid.”

“Do you have a gun?”


“Can you get one?”

“What for?”

The young man laughed wildly. “How long has it been since this darkness came? A week? Two?”

“It’s only been a few hours,” Judd said.

The man put a finger in his mouth and bit down hard. Blood poured from the wound and gushed down his lips. “I can’t see to take a step, and I don’t have the energy if I could. I just want to die. I know this is the end.”

Judd stood and took a step toward the restaurant door.

“Please, I beg you. Hit me with something, knock me out. I can’t stand this itching, and my head feels like it’s about to burst!”

“I can’t help you,” Judd said. “I wish you’d have responded to God before it was too—”

“God?” the man screamed. “Jesus? I hate them! I hate everyone who talks about God!”

If you guessed, regarding the second passage, that Judd just steps around the corpses and keeps walking, congratulations. You could have donated valuable neuron space so much worthier information.

But yeah, am kind of regretting starting that "Our Sociopathic Heroes" tag, because there really is no way I can avoid overusing it until it loses all meaning. That and the "Strawman Always Has A Point" tag as well. Because as I keep pointing out, GOD IS THE ONE WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL THIS HORRIBLE SHIT IN THIS WORLD! Just remember: Nicky uses his supernatural powers to rescue people, which is bad. God uses his supernatural powers to kill people after which HE SPENDS ETERNITY BURNINATING THE SHIT OUT OF YOU, which is good.

Because seriously, when Silver-Age Superman is looking at you and saying, "Christ, what a dick," you need to reexamine your life. Figure out at what point did you sell your heart for some magical beans or something.

The scene at the restaurant, as you probably guessed, Goes Nowhere, Does Nothing. Judd and some other characters cook some meat and leave. After which, they drive around some more with Judd sitting in the backseat thinking about how it's very sad that those horrible people left God with no choice but to Exterminate all the Brutes! As you probably guessed, even before you read the part I'm about to quote, while I love exaggerating for comedic effect, I'm not exaggerating by much. I very rarely am when it comes to these books.

Everywhere they drove, Judd heard howls from people in pain. It seemed to be getting worse by the hour. When people heard the car’s engine, they ran into the street, reaching out like blind zombies, trying anything to relieve their pain. Judd hated ignoring them, but what could they do? These people had chosen against God and were now paying the price.

Judd wondered what it was about the darkness that made things so much worse. Simply turning out the lights on the world was one thing, but there was something supernatural about this that caused people enough pain to want to kill themselves.

Yeah, I know I shouldn't repeat myself and I know I should stop invoking Godwin's Law, but like I said in previous posts, if the RTCs were dropped in a village down the road from Auschwitz in the years between 1940-1945, the extent of their rebellious actions against a genocidal tyrannical government, would be praying that all those gassed people became RTCs before they died and complaining about all the dead person ash from the crematoriums ruining their whites. I mean, show some consideration, people!

I could also point out that said genocidal tyrannical government during that time was also predominately Christian, but they'd probably just invoke the No True Scotsman fallacy and we'd wind up going in circles.

It's like I said, in another Left Behind discussion thread, but sometimes I wonder if this Weird Al song doesn't perfectly encapsulate RTCs: Why Does This Always Happen to Me? Because you know Rayford or any Ellanjay character would complain about how the bones in their boss's face bent the tip of the blade after they stabbed him with it, thus making it so it would never be quite as sharp again.

Anyway, they do finally get to a holding camp, complete with razor wire and guard towers. The guard is all bluster, but the RTCs just seriously walk up and start opening the gates. :headdesk: I think even the guys who gave us Red Dawn could have created a more plausible, busting out the prisoners scene. Granted that movie is pretty much an NRA masturbation fest, but still.

And that's it. Get ready for patronizing lectures next week! I keep wondering if I should call this kind of lecturing, Christsplainning or RTCsplainning. You guys can tell me which works better in this case.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Totally Rooting for Satan (because I have no other options)

Happy Saturday everybody! Thought I'd try posting my update today for some reason. Got nothing better to do.

Anyway, for a brief instance, the GC does demonstrate a basic level of competence. I know, I'm shocked too. Granted it dissipates pretty quickly as yet another Deus Ex Machina intervenes before the characters suffer so much as a bruise, but still. Like I said, I keep thinking I should have named that tag "Villain Always Has a Point" instead of "Strawman Always Has a Point." I've said it before and I'll say it again: this series forces me to side with Satan simply because the heroes are such reprehensible people.

Because you know I love pop culture references, think of the beginning (with the GC demonstrating basic competence) as being like the beginning of Star Wars: Episode IV, where the stormtroopers swoop in and kill everyone aboard Princess Leia's spaceship. They get that one scene of competence than spend the rest of the movie being the idiots who smack their heads on door frames and couldn't hit water if they fell out of a boat. Thing is, Star Wars had a sense of fun about the whole deal and had characters you could actually care about, especially Han Solo. :pauses to drool: If you were to ask me who my childhood crushes were, I'd say my first crush was either Han Solo or Tommy Oliver. Yes, that Tommy Oliver from Power Rangers. C'mon, he's awesome!

But I should probably stop talking about Star Wars and childhood crushes and get back to the business at hand.

Judd is all bent out of shape that the GC is swarming the hideout and arresting everyone inside, even though the RTCs are a terrorist group that has repeatedly tried to undermine Nicky's regime and made numerous threats on the lives of Nicky's supporters, siccing God on anyone who dares to oppose them.

Okay to be fair, Nicky is hardly a shining beacon of democracy, but at the same's an old rule I have, regarding stories with heroes and villains: you should be able to tell the difference between the two. If the city of Petra is supposed to be a micro-version of the Kingdom of God, given that previous snarks have demonstrated that Petra is about democratic as North Korea, you know that if Token Jew and his merry band of RTCs were in power, they'd be imprisoning and torturing and executing their enemies as well. But they'd be doing it in the name of TurboJesus, which makes it okay.

As though having heard all my complaints about how for all their bluster, the RTCs are surprisingly afraid of martyrdom, Ellanjay do have Judd narrate about how he's totes not afraid of dying, though he will regret not getting to third base with Vicki not being able to see Vicki again. Though given that TurboJesus shows up about a year from now, like I said, that's really not too horrible a fate.

Anyway, before the Deus Ex Machina steps in and makes all this completely pointless, I thought I'd quote some of the stuff with the GC demonstrating basic competence. Because I feel like celebrating whenever any character does that in this series.

A man with several military medals pinned to his uniform stepped forward, hands clasped behind his back. “I suppose you’re wondering why your little operation didn’t explode when we entered, hmm?”

When no one answered, the man gave a fake smile and continued. “Well, I’ll tell you. After your two friends gave us trouble, we found your guns.” He motioned overhead. “When we uncovered your entrance, instead of barging in, we called in the bomb squad.” He pointed to the side of the house, and Judd saw a gaping hole. “We made a new entrance—hope you don’t mind—found your little bomb, defused it, and waited. What a shock when we heard you enter through the sewers.”

And here's the second example:

The officer squinted. “You have no guns, you have no contact with other rebels, and you have no chance of escape.” He held up a small computer device. “And in this tiny drive I have all the information from your computers. Your contacts, your plans. Everything.”

Helga gave the man a worried look. “Our files are encrypted. You’ll never be able to—”

“With the resources of the Global Community? I’m sure our tech crew will have this figured out by my morning coffee.” He turned to Westin. “You’re crazy to think you can defeat us.”

Okay, I admit in both of those passages, the GC are doing stuff that a Elementary School Hall Monitor would know to do and the second one, given how heavy it is with the "Bwaah-Bwaah!" the guy was basically asking for a Deus Ex Machina to smack him upside the head, but really, I treasure any moment where either side demonstrates basic competence. Though given my love of eighties cheese, yes, I did spend the entire segment picturing the Unnamed GC guy as Cobra Commander.

That's one of the things that really bothers me about the series, not so much that it's bad, but y'know, that it's not entertaining in its badness. Say what you will about how pretty much all those cheesy eighties cartoons existed as twenty-two minute toy commercials, but at least, the people involved, well, they probably knew this was a step above dinner theatre, but hey, a paycheck is a paycheck. Plus, the thing that distinguishes Ellanjay's bad art from all other bad art is, they actually believe this shit will happen at some point in the future, even the part where the Leader of the World rides a giant pig. Say what you will about G.I. Joe and its merits or lack thereof, but I don't think anyone who produced or watched the show, feels like it's an accurate portrayal of the U.S. military. Though given the Right's kneejerk response to anything is either invasion or more guns, maybe I'm wrong there.

Westin is all "Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord." To which Unnamed is like, "Yeah, I actually saw someone rise from the dead, so you're little shtick ain't impressing me much," which I have to say, is a very reasoned response. Yeah, the RTCs can chest-thump about how Jesus came back from the dead, but all they've got, are testimonials, many of which were written years after the events depicted, actually happened. Whereas for those of you who've forgotten, Nicky did actually come back to life, sat up in his coffin in front of a massive crowd and a whole lot of cameras. Can't blame people for siding with Nicky given that his side has more solid proof backing up its claims right now.

Anyway, here comes the Deus Ex Machina to save our heroes once again and keep them from experiencing any actual consequences to their actions.

The group had all been cuffed except for Judd and Gunther when the lights went out. Literally. Peacekeepers dropped their weapons and reached to rub their eyes as headlights on the GC cars went dark. Flashlights were useless to the officers. Streetlights disappeared. Judd had seen power outages before. Once his parents had been away and the power went out while he was watching a scary movie in the basement. It had taken him several minutes to find his way upstairs, and it had terrified him.

But this was different. Lights on phones, radios, the dashboards of the squad cars—everything was dark. The incredible thing was, Judd could still see. Everything was a hazy brown, and he could only see about twenty feet, but he could see.

So okay, basically Zod's latest disaster is making everything go dark: no sun or moon or any form of light whatsoever. I suppose I could try to tackle the science of it all, but given that Ellanjay's response to everything (including why everything and everyone isn't dead, despite multiple bombardments from space rocks and poisonings of the world's water supply) is "Goddidit!"

But anyway, what follows is an action scene where Our Heroes take advantage to escape. It's boring as hell, so forgive me for fast-forwarding through it.

Westin pointed to the lead officer, and Judd angled toward the man who sat mumbling on a smoldering piece of wood. He had put his pistol back in its holster and was staring into the darkness.

Westin grabbed the gun and Judd expected the man to lunge or shout, but he just kept mumbling. “My wife. She doesn’t know where I am. We should get word to the others not to come out, not to go into the dark.”

Judd took out his pocketknife and carefully cut a hole in the man’s right front pocket. The computer drive fell out. The Peacekeeper reached for his holster, but the gun was gone.

“You looking for this?” Westin whispered, cocking the gun close to the man’s face. “Not dancing in any blood now, are you?”

“Please,” the man cried, “don’t take my gun.”

Judd picked up the computer drive and took a few steps back. Westin joined him, emptying the gun and tossing it back at the feet of the Peacekeeper. The man picked it up, pointed it at his own head, and pulled the trigger. He pulled again and again, until the clicking of the gun mocked him. The man broke down, falling to the ground and jerking with sobs.



Before anyone says anything, I'm not stupid, I know Ellanjay totally intend for us to be on the side of Judd and laugh at the pathetic GC officer he has completely at his mercy, but I just can't. I'm having uncomfortable flashbacks to another piece of shitty literature. For those too lazy to click on the link, it goes to a snark from Christopher Paolini's Eragon series, specifically a chapter from the third book, Brisingr. Paolini suffers from a similar problem as Ellanjay in that he's written what he thinks is a dashing hero, but is in actuality, a heartless sociopath. It's heavily debated among the anti-fans of Paolini's series (a group that's almost a big as the actual fandom) as to which is Eragon's worst Kick the Dog moment. For me, it's totally the part in the link, because wow...

Though like I said before, in Paolini's defense, I will say that while his books are crap (and they only get more incoherent further in when he tries to turn them into something more than Star Wars in Lord of the Rings clothing) at least, he doesn't honestly believe the stuff in his books will actually happen at some point in the future.


Anyway, Judd and the others make it back to the hideout and destroy it, taking with them a laptop. But fear not, Judd does get to talk to Vicki, while continuing to demonstrate what an absolute fucking sociopath he is.

Judd looked at the Peacekeepers, many of whom were on the ground, screaming and cursing God. They scratched at unseen sores and rubbed their aching bodies. The pain that began as an itch soon turned so intense that the Peacekeepers crawled beside rocks or cars and tried to rub up against them for relief. Men chewed their tongues until blood ran down their chins. Some found rifles on the ground and turned them on themselves, hoping to end their agony.

For those of you wondering what Bible verse they use to justify this, don't worry: Vicki has the answer. I suppose I could point out that really six years in and you still haven't memorized all this shit that's going to happen to you?! You're still going "Durrr...I wonder what this Act of God is all about?!"

But I know that's the least of this series' problems. That kind of complaint is basically the equivalent of going to a porno and your biggest quibble being the characters' taste in wallpaper. Given that one of Fred Clark's earliest Left Behind posts was on the pornographic aspects of the Left Behind series, that metaphor seems a lot more accurate than I originally intended. I'd honestly thought I was just making a one-off funny line.

Though Left Behind serves much the same purpose as porn, allowing its readers a nice fantasy world where they're always right and always get whatever they want and everybody exists to serve them. [/Digression]

Judd heard a click of computer keys. “Here it is. It’s in Revelation, chapter 16.” Vicki read the verses, her voice trembling. “ ‘Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. And his subjects ground their teeth in anguish, and they cursed the God of heaven for their pains and sores. But they refused to repent of all their evil deeds.’ ”

For those of you wondering, the verses Vicki cites (because context is for wimps!) are 10-11. For those of you, who like me, believe in context, here's the rest of Revelation, chapter 16. Once again, I regret that I don't have Fred's theological training so I can't properly tear into this, but then again, I'm just waiting for the part with the hundred pound hailstones mentioned later. Because like I said, my knowledge of physics is limited to "Gravity makes stuff fall down" level, but even I know that if the Earth was to be bombarded by massive hundred pound hailstones...yeah, I think life on this planet would become even more moot than it already should have!

But I'm one of those weirdos who believes that the Book of Revelation was written by John as a blistering critic of the cruelties of Rome and how they'll totally get what's coming to them, so what do I know? I mean, it's not like Nero, aka the Emperor of Rome, was massively persecuting the Christian Church at the time of John's writing. Oh wait...

Vicki's all "Get out of there" and the chapter ends. And I think that's as good a place as any to leave y'all for the week.