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.


spiritplumber said... Different Rose, right? This one shows up at the end of Glorious Appearing (and the Tripocalypse prologue). Love the "Tried to kill Carpathia, but was stopped by an angel" part. The other B-Team members do not seem to have a wiki entry (maybe we should help?), but never fear, there is at least one penis adaptation:

aunursa said...

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?

They could bring them to the edge of the darkness, and then use Nicolae's glow to bring them inside.

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?

Anyone in the city is subject to the plague.

Mouse said...

Spiritplumber, I am referring of course, to Doctor Patrick Rose who helped Judd find and treat Lionel after he (Lionel) lost his arm. But despite being a caring physician who mourns the loss of his wife and unborn child in the Rapture, despite the fact he no longer believes in Nicky's BS, he's damned because he has the Mark, even though he's a helluva lot better person than any of the Tribbles. He put himself on the line and went out of his way to help Judd and Lionel, though it would have been better to just let them hang. Whereas the Tribbles never do anything nice for anyone without using it as an excuse to chalk up another on their fuselage for God. Here's a hint: Doing good deeds in order to prove what a good person you are and chalk up another convert, is not being a good person.

As a firm believer in Discontinuity, I will continue to assert that the gunshot Judd heard...Dr. Rose didn't shoot himself. But he knew the sanctimonious little twerp, Judd, wouldn't leave him alone until he thought he (Dr. Rose) was safely dead/damned. So he shot into the ceiling or the floor and ran off to meet up with Taylor and Hasina and Joel. Together they formed the League of Awesome and are out doing awesome deeds while the Tribbles just dick around. Because Discontinuity is a beautiful thing.

Firedrake said...

"Oh, I'm not really a Carpathianist, I swore fealty out loud but I have reservations in my heart" seems to me not so terribly far from "oh, I'm not really guilty of those atrocities, I felt really bad while I was performing them".

You can tell that Nicky's glow is unholy because it's red. Good glows are blue (also ńĆerenkov radiation but never mind that now). Green glows can be either.

I've been assuming it's if (within X miles of New Babylon && !RTC) rather than something that might move with the individual.

Why not get the RTCs out of the slave camps and say "all right, help the people in New Babylon and we let you go"?

minus b plus or minus square-root b squared minus 4 a c end-square-root, whole lot over 2a.

What happens if someone gets given the mark while they're unconscious? Or while they're under the age of 12?

spiritplumber said...

Mouse, I read the parts with Dr Rose and... wow. I guess he exists to drive home the "it doesn't matter if you're a good person" part.

I keep picturing him as Rory Williams if the Doctor hadn't shown up and he was able to get his MD.

spiritplumber said...

Firedrake, that actually happens to one of the kids. Basically it Doesn't Count (tm) but it's really handy for the RTCs, because he gets to play smuggler.

aunursa said...

What happens if someone gets given the mark while they're unconscious?

Chang Wong was drugged and incapacitated when he received the mark. However he was already an RTC, so he bore both marks, until Book #11 when the MotB was removed by Divine intervention. That Chang was spiritually saved despite having the MotB is controversial. Many Christian theologians protested that it was contrary to the teaching of the New Testament. At any rate, L&J don't address whether an unsaved person who takes the MotB while incapacitated has his fate sealed.

Or while they're under the age of 12?

Pretty much everyone under 12 had been raptured. So the only children would have been conceived since then and would be no more than 6 at the time of the glorious appearing. L&J don't appear to have addressed your question.

spiritplumber said...

Hmm, about the age question.... let's see.

In "Kingdom Come" which I really should sit down and spork (the RPG is going well, but it diverged a bit... just to put it in perspective, Kirk Cameron owns a functional AT-AT walker and roams the New Mexico desert in search of the fabled E.T. cartridge landfill) we have Cendrillon Jospin being the first person in the Millennial Kingdom to die.

This happens 93 years into the Millennial Kingdom, which means that she was conceived very shortly after the Rapture.

The children who got raptured on grounds of being children (roughly 0 to 12) return to earth, in the MK, as young adults with glorified bodies, since Zod was gracious enough to let them skip childhood.

So there'd be an age gap.

Firedrake said...

I would imagine quite a lot of children were conceived very shortly after the Rapture.

Well, in a world with real people in it they would have been.

Dana Hunter said...

I adore your geeky tangents. They make Ellenjay's drivel survivable. I'm going to leave my vote for Chris Hemsworth right here. I will help you beat Frank Miller has been replaced by a Skrull or just felt comfortable letting his asshole flag fly. And if saving the universe requires quoting whole episodes of Rocko's Modern Life from memory, I can be your sidekick.

Keep up the excellent work. And please tell me you have something else lined up to mock when this series is over!

Firedrake said...

Someone else who knows Rocko's Modern Life? Truly, I have found my people.

Stardust said...

On a desert island where there is only enough food for one person, absolute morality works just fine.

You just have to be willing to potentially starve to death, maybe flip a coin over who gets the goods. Not really that unreasonable that someone might do so: I'd seriously hesitate before murdering a total stranger to secure my own life, and I'd feel bad physically trying to keep all the food from them / stealing from them. There'd be a decent chance they'd be physically stronger than me anyway, in which case I'd have to hope they'd be amiable to sharing and hoping for rescue aka not a fan of moral grays.