Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Plot Spins Round. Right Round. Like a Record, Baby.

Again, Ellanjay are trying, trying to convince me that something is going to happen, something that will actually matter and not just be another Big-Lipped Alligator Moment in a series full of them. And again, I'm crossing my arms and going, "Nope. Not going to do it. Maybe you could have fooled me back in the single-digit books, but not anymore."

So we begin with Mark running, running, running like a constipated wiener dog. Yes, I did do that as an excuse to post a link to a Weird Al song; I thought you guys were used to that sort of thing by now.

Anyway, Mark's thoughts are basically, "Gotta rescue my friends and think some more about how evil Nicky is, despite the fact that most of the disasters were caused by the loving God I claim to worship, while Nicky has been trying to play clean-up and prevent even more deaths by make crucial repairs to the infrastructure." Again, the only objection the RTCs have to a global dictatorship that ruthlessly crushes dissent is that Nicky is ruthlessly crushing the wrong kind of dissenters. They would have no problem having a global dictatorship run by an RTC, one that ruthlessly crushes anyone who doesn't agree with them. Just look at the theocracy/dictatorship Token Jew has set up in Petra, where you either do as Token Jew wishes if you want to stay in the last safe place on Earth or he sics God on you. Again, it's the problem we keep coming across in this universe: it's not so much killing in the name of your faith that RTCs have issues with; it's that you're killing in the name of the wrong god.

Then we get to this paragraph, aka further proof of just how much Ellanjay suck at the craft of writing.

Mark chanted the words softly as he ran, moving his feet to the words. He had never been much of a singer, and his cousin John had made fun of him in church once. Mark smiled at the memory. John had been killed at sea by a giant wave, and Mark had never really gotten over John’s death. Sure, he had gone on with his life and tried to help others come to know God, but John was always in the back of his mind. What would have happened if he had stayed with the group, instead of heading east and getting drafted by the GC?

For those of you wondering, John was a character who died a few years into the Tribulation, some time when the series was either in its teens or early twenties at the latest. I'm not going to look this up to be sure, because I have entirely too much worthless information taking up room in my cerebral cortex as is. Suffice to say, if you guessed that this is the first time since John's death, that his name has been mentioned, again, congratulations and hang your head in shame. Because you, like me, know entirely too much about this series. Because seriously, this is shitty writing. Even Dan Brown would know you can't write a line like "John was always in the back of his mind" as though that makes up for the countless pages where he hasn't even been mentioned. But like I said before, Dan Brown may be a hack, but at least he delivers on what he promises. You know you're not going to get high art with Dan Brown, but at least you get a somewhat entertaining potboiler to pass the time with.

Anyway, Mark prays and we cut to Lionel and Chang who are trying to help them out.

Lionel clicked on the computer’s world-time function and saw it was 3 a.m. in Wisconsin. If the GC carried out their plans, they would catch his friends in the middle of a Bible study, trying to get the Web site running again, or worse, sleeping.

I suppose if I wasn't lazy, I could do the math and figure out what time it is in Petra while Lionel's doing this stuff. But I am lazy and very bad at math, so I won't.

I will raise an eyebrow at the "Bible Study at 3 a.m." bit, because who the hell is awake at 3 a.m.? But then again, sleep deprivation is a common tactic among cults. Seriously, I haven't done more than a cursory glance at the list in the link, but even I can tell that RTCianity pegs out the cult-meter. If any of my readers want to go to the link and pinpoint which traits RTCianity, as depicted in the series, shares with cults, be my guess. Because like I've said before, I'm lazy.

Chang does a bunch of stuff trying to override the GC's computers, because it's been indicated already that Ellanjay consider hacking to be magic. But then again, from what I've heard the people involved with the show CSI: Cyber seem to believe the same thing. But I suppose they couldn't have a series based on a bunch of nerds redirecting websites so they show pictures of dicks or something.

Lionel is all upset by Chang's sudden plot-induced failure to hack into the GC. Chang tries to reassure him:

Chang put a hand on Lionel’s shoulder. “When I was in New Babylon, many times I felt like there was nothing I could do. But I realized the greatest thing any of us can do is pray and ask God to work out his will. You see, God really is for us. He wants to help us through difficulties. I used to think he should just take us out of them or solve them for us. But sometimes I think he shows himself greater by walking through our troubles with us. So let’s invite him to have his perfect way in your friends’ lives and in our lives too.”

If anyone ever doubts my assertion (and I don't see why you would) that the characters in this series are simultaneously genre-savvy and COMPLETE FUCKING MORONS! just point them to this paragraph.

Though it also doesn't take much to start making the obvious Cthulhu/Elder Gods reference. I know I've made said jokes before, but they just make it so damn easy! Because tell me that Chang isn't trying to hold onto his sanity by convincing himself that Godthulhu really does care about him, in spite of the overwhelming evidence that says otherwise. I'd make a crack about how at some point, two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of Chang's nose, but y'know, RTCs would never do something as gauche as :gasp: enjoy alcohol or have heterosexual intercourse for any reason except procreation.

Mark keeps running and at some point, steps into a hole and injures his leg. I'd pretend to care, but even that requires more effort than I'm willing to put forth. What do youse takes me for? Someone who isn't lazy?

Fear not, Mark makes it to the camp and warns everybody. There's all this talk as they run for the vehicles to get away. Mark pours a bunch of lighter fluid all over the tribbles' computers then lights a match. I freely admit that my problem-solving when it comes to computers, is 90% Turn it off and On and 10% Panic if that doesn't solve anything, but even I have my doubts that flambéing the computers would keep the GC from recovering stuff off of the hard-drive.

From what I heard, it's all but impossible to completely destroy a hard-drive so that its contents can't be recovered. Given that the GC are pretty much hot on their tail (sorry for the terrible pun, but I couldn't think of any other way of putting it), I can't help but think that they'll probably quickly put out the fire and send what remains to forensics to collect any useful information, including the numerous folders devoted to giraffe porn. At least that's how things would play out in a series that wasn't basically a never-ending Idiot Plot.

The chapter ends with this little bit.

Each step was painful, but Mark managed to make it to the end of the row of cabins, lighting fires and getting away. He hobbled back past the main cabin as the fire whistled and cracked. Mark found his car, a diesel, and it chugged to life. He pulled out, the fire lighting up the forest behind him. He pulled onto the path and gunned the engine.

He came to a stop at the main road and pounded his fist on the steering wheel. “Take that, Fulcire!” he whooped.

Mark turned the wheel to the right and started to pull out but stopped. He couldn’t leave now. The GC would come back and see the fire, then go after his friends. Maybe there was something more he could do.

He turned around and headed back into the trees. He would figure out some way to delay the GC. Anything for his friends.

Again, I continue to cross my arms and say, "Nope, not going to fall for this." I know they really want me to get all teary-eyed and moved by Mark being willing to lay down his life so his friends can escape. Maybe they're hoping that their scene will go down in the great echelons of character sacrifices, right up there with Spock's scene, but I think it's safe to say that it won't. Comparing Spock's sacrifice to whatever awaits Mark--I admit I only did a cursory glance at the next chapter--but I think it's safe to say that comparing Spock to Mark is like comparing a dirty limerick scrawled on a bathroom stall to Shakespeare. :puts on bookie eyeshade: In fact, Yinsen's death in Iron Man was probably more moving, even though Yinsen might as well have had "Dead Meat" tattooed onto his forehead, given what a cliché he was. Heck, JJ Abrams shitty retread of Wrath of Khan* is probably still more moving.

Because I'm feeling generous and because so little happened, you guys are getting a second chapter.

Lionel is all "Oh noes" as Chang pulls up an image of the Wisconsin camp burning. But since the plot needs to move forward, Chang's elite haxxor skills are suddenly back. He somehow hacks into the GC satellites and makes it so that the GC can't communicate with each other. Because like I said before, one of the hallmarks of an Idiot Plot is that when it's important for the plot to move along, suddenly the characters stop being idiots. That was why, in last week, the GC stopped being so incompetent that the Keystone Kops point and laugh at them: because the plot needed them to be threatening in order for it to move along. And that is why Chang goes from being all derpy to being able to take out...okay, again because I'm lazy, but as I recall, the GC control all the satellites in the world, since they are a global dictatorship and all. So anyone have any idea just how many satellites Chang would have had to shut down? I'd look it up, but again, lazy.

Mark, meanwhile, is watching and listening as the GC are checking out the burning cabins. Fulcire is there and you gotta give the GC credit for being hands-on in their oppression, sending the chief of security out to Podunk, Wisconsin just to round up one particular nest of terrorists.

But Mark has an idea. And if I have to point out the stupidity in his idea, please stop inhaling whatever it is you've been inhaling. It's clearly reduced your IQ to room temperature.

As the officers ran, Mark got an idea. Everyone was so intent on following orders that no one paid attention to the vehicles.

He pulled himself up and staggered to the last Humvee. After making sure no one was inside, he quietly opened the driver’s door. His heart beat like a freight train when a light went on and a ding, ding, ding sounded. He quickly found a button on the doorframe and pressed it, turning off the light and the sound.

Mark grabbed the keys dangling from the ignition, pulled them out, and stuck them in his pants pocket. One down, he thought.

Sad part is this isn't the first time the GC has fallen for the "Mess with their vehicle" trick. I would go through past posts and point out examples, but I'm starting to think that the only people lazier than me, are the writers of this series. I'll just say however many times it happened, it was stupid then and it's stupid now.

The plot skids to a halt with an Interlude from Judd and Vicki. I suppose it was put in because it gives Ellanjay an excuse to indulge in Exposition! Even so, you find yourself raising an eyebrow and being like "Really? You guys couldn't have placed this interlude somewhere where the plot wouldn't grind to a halt?!" Because were it not for the fact that Vicki's spoonfeeding us information that we'll probably need to know, I'd say it qualifies as a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment because it's completely out of tone with the rest of the chapter.

Basically Token Jew sent Vicki some stuff about the millennial kingdom, which she's reading to Judd.

“All we’ve been through has a way of changing your mind about a lot of things,” Judd said. “What’s in there?”

“Tons. For example, Tsion believes that in the one thousand year kingdom, God’s going to lift the effects of original sin.”


“Well, he says it’s going to be a lot like the Garden of Eden. All the people who rebelled against God and the bad angels will be gone.”

"And by gone, I mean suffering a fate that's supposed to be worse that Auschwitz, Tuol Sleng, a Stalin-era gulag, and pretty much all the POW camps of history combined, for all eternity. Because God is Love and there is no fear in love!" I picture Vicki looking all wide-eyed, a big Stepford Smile on her face.

Yeah we all know what a huge hard-on the Christian Right has about the Ten Commandments, but I can't help but think that the Ten Rules of Tuol Sleng probably speaks more to them. Because again, their only objection was that Pol Pot was killing and torturing in the name of Communism rather than Jesus. Though the Old Testament God may seem cruel and barbaric to modern readers, I still believe that even he would blanch at Ellanjay's depiction. Heck, at least Old Testament God, looked at in the light of the time and place he was worshipped in, was at least a helluva lot more consistent. Ellanjay keep trying to combine Old Testament God and New Testament God while paying lip service to modern depictions and the whole thing winds up coming across as, at best, incoherent.

1. You must answer accordingly to my question. Don’t turn them away.

2. Don’t try to hide the facts by making pretexts this and that, you are strictly prohibited to contest me.

3. Don’t be a fool for you are a chap who dare to thwart the revolution.

4. You must immediately answer my questions without wasting time to reflect.

5. Don’t tell me either about your immoralities or the essence of the revolution.

6. While getting lashes or electrification you must not cry at all.

7. Do nothing, sit still and wait for my orders. If there is no order, keep quiet. When I ask you to do something, you must do it right away without protesting.

8. Don’t make pretext about Kampuchea Krom in order to hide your secret or traitor.

9. If you don’t follow all the above rules, you shall get many lashes of electric wire.

10. If you disobey any point of my regulations you shall get either ten lashes or five shocks of electric discharge.

Vicki then cites Isaiah 2, which makes me raise an eyebrow, because Isaiah 2 is all about peace and how it'll be a good thing when the fighting is over, but Ellanjay have made it clear that the people who long for and strive towards Peace are in league with Satan. That's why they're so terrified to drive through Amish country, because they know those shifty Amish are secretly packing bazookas inside their buggies. Since the world must get worse before TurboJesus slaughters us all, those who try to work towards peace or improve the lives of the deeply impoverished are secretly pistol-packers in league with Satan!

But I have a feeling if I were to point this out, they'd give a response akin to Hank Hill's from King of the Hill: It's Jesus Peace, not hippie peace!

Vicki also talks about Isaiah 65. In proper RTC fashion, she only brings up the verse about how everyone will live to be one hundred and ignores the larger context. Because Ellanjay take the Bible literally, you see.

But like I said, if any of the Tribbles actually decided, "Y'know maybe I should read the Bible for myself and not just rely on Token Jew to serve it up for me..." Like I've said before, chaos would ensue. Especially if they actually read any of the prophets', major or minor, works, what with their constant criticism of those who make their fortunes off of the appalling misery and suffering of others.

“Just think about it,” Vicki said, putting the pages down. “No more drug addicts. No more thieves and murderers. The stuff on TV won’t be so violent. Everybody’s going to know about God because Jesus will be the true King.”

Actually given that Ellanjay probably subscribe to the same mindset as Jack Chick, where what matters is whether you've said The Prayer with the precise amount of sincerity, not what you've actually done, there probably will be plenty of thieves and murderers in God's kingdom. Need I remind you that Judd and Lionel hitched a ride on a plane flown by a guy who cheerfully admitted to dropping a nuke on London and killing millions? And that neither seemed that bothered by it, because said pilot, Jerry, was now a good RTC and that somehow cancels out killing millions of people, whose only crimes were just living their lives?

Yeah...I know there will be a few on the Christian Right who object to me using Jack Chick to represent their beliefs, but I find good ol' Chick to be useful. The problem the Right has with Chick isn't so much the things he says as it is the fact that Chick just flat-out says it without bothering to clothe his naked bigotry in the proper dog whistles. That and he's unapologetically anti-Catholic and given that the Right now shares an uneasy alliance with the Catholics thanks to Roe v. Wade, they probably don't appreciate throwbacks like Jack Chick reminding people of the past.

After that bit, we cut back to Mark, who is bravely taking on the GC, by going to their Humvees and throwing their car keys into the woods. Because a Satanic NWO operates on the Honor System and believes that merely thinking, "Please don't steal my car," is enough to stop potential thieves. That's why they didn't just, I don't know, TAKE THEIR DAMN KEYS WITH THEM LIKE ANY SANE HUMAN WOULD DO!

But horrors of horrors! Mark triggers a car alarm. He takes one of the GC vehicles and tries to make a getaway, doing various action heroey stunts. As you probably guessed, because I was bored, I did mentally score the entire scene to Yakety Sax.

To wrap it up, the GC, in a rare show of competence, shoot out Mark's tires and the chapter ends with him being hauled off. But again, I refuse to be fooled! Nothing is going to happen! :peeks ahead: Okay, I did a cursory look ahead and apparently something does happen! Spoiler alert: it, like everything else, is dragged out over several chapters when it could have been resolved much quicker and it involves several angelic visitors, who basically just say "There, there." and LEAVE WITHOUT ACCOMPLISHING FUCK-ALL! And I am right in my assertion that even JJ Abrams shitty retread of Wrath of Khan was more moving than anything in this series!

*Okay, I admit that I was totally a Star Wars gal growing up and all I've seen of Star Trek**, are a few clips, the Wrath of Khan, and the two nu!Trek movies, but I'm begging some diehard Trekkie who reads this blog: Tell me that Kirk, in either the Original Series or movies, does actually demonstrate some good leadership abilities. Because the Kirk in nu!Trek...high on my list of tropes that really piss me of is the Informed Attribute. Don't tell me that Kirk is a natural-born leader then proceed to have his every action prove that he really sucks at being a Starfleet Captain and shouldn't be in charge of a stone, let alone a ship full of people. I imagine that TOS Kirk was an arrogant ass much like Tony Stark, but I do like to believe that he did have some genuine talent to back up his boasting and he was at least charming enough that you understand why people would want to be around him. But nu!Trek Kirk...seriously, someone smack the living shit out of that arrogant punk-ass kid.

**I keep thinking I should get into Star Trek but I haven't for the same reason I'm probably the only person on the Internet not into Doctor Who: the sheer amount of continuity intimidates me.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

You Cannot Fool Me! Nothing is Going to Happen!

As you will recall from last week, Ellanjay put in some kind of cliff-hanger, trying, once again, to convince me that the heroes are totally in danger and suffering from stuff that will leave lifelong psychological/physical scars. But I am crossing my arms and stubbornly saying, "Nope. Not going to do it." Maybe in the past they could have fooled me and gotten me convinced that stuff was actually going to happen and it wasn't going to be worthless padding, but we've long passed the single-digit books. You can't fool me! It's like Stephen King said in On Writing: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, shame on both of us." Though as embarrassing as it sounds, if I were to go back and review every post I've done, it'd probably turn out that Ellanjay had fooled me more than three times, a fact which makes me blush. But since I'm lazy and embarrassed by some of my earlier posts, I'm not going to.

Anyway, Mark is forsaking the central tenet of RTCism of Doing Nothing and leaving to do stuff, so the beginning is mostly him saying goodbye to everybody and everybody being in tears and blah, blah, blah.

We do get a brief mention of that plot-line regarding Shelly and Conrad that Ellanjay periodically pick up and mention. Like I said, if they actually did stuff with it, y'know showed the conflict rather than just mention it off-hand, I wouldn't be so irritated by it. But they don't, so I am.

Mark sighed. “I’m a militia of one now. No, I’m not sure this is right, but I just can’t stay and wonder anymore.” He glanced at the people coming out of the cabin and leaned close to Shelly. “You’ve been a good friend to me and the others. I’ve been talking with Conrad. He’s a great guy. Give him another chance.”

We do get a mention of the vehicle that Mark is traveling in. As you probably guessed, as a lesser person on the Great Hierarchy, Mark's car isn't anywhere near as big or manly as Our Buck's Range Rover: Mark's car is described as being a two-seater, fast enough to outrun the GC if needed, but small enough to hide in a pinch. Oh poor Mark...not only have you walked away from the One True Tenet of RTCianity by doing stuff, you've also come to believe, like those effete Europeans, that at the End of the World, it's probably more important to have reliable, functional, fuel-efficient transportation, rather than a vehicle that has the same handling/fuel efficiency as the Lincoln Memorial Building (and is the same size as said memorial building) and proudly asserts your mighty American penis to the world. Because saving money, just like saving the environment, is un-American, dammit!

Mark drives off and has a brief poignant thought about whether he'll see them again.

As for those of you wondering what Our Brave Trio (Judd, Vicki, and Lionel) are doing, well, their section is exciting! trying to send email! action. Because apparently the GC have stopped being rock-stupid and realized that as a one-world government that currently controls all the satellites and cell towers, they can :gasp: block our brave heroes and keep them from sending word to them about the upcoming raid. I continue to not be fooled. Nothing is going to come of this plot point! It was just put in to pad out the series and there's no way you can convince me otherwise!

I'm sure all of you have heard of the term that was created by James Blish yet popularized by Roger Ebert. Basically an Idiot Plot can be defined as, "The Idiot Plot, of course, is any plot that would be resolved in five minutes if everyone in the story were not an idiot." Ellanjay, as you know, are fine connoisseurs of the Idiot Plot. Those of you familiar with Slacktivist's posts on the second book in the adult series, will recall the plotline where Chloe thinks that Buck is cheating on her, yet rather than do what anybody would do and confront him, she just sulks and snipes at him for pages and pages, until Buck tells her that she's being all silly and female and wrong. Granted this did allow them to air their regressive views about women (like I said, I increasingly think that the only reason they haven't embraced Celibacy like the Shakers, is because there would be a precipitous drop in the number of bodies in the pews) so from their perspective, it wasn't pointless but still.

One of the things I have learned, regarding Idiot Plots, is that frequently the characters aren't always idiots. Granted they are 90% of the time, but when the writers need the plot to move forward, suddenly the villains take a level in badass and stop being incompetent goons who couldn't find their dicks with two hands and a map. Hence why the GC are suddenly like, "Durr...maybe we can trace and block their Internet."

But we do get some hints of the GC's trademarked Incompetence from this email Chang intercepted:

We continue to have great success rooting out rebels and would like to present the potentate with something spectacular today. We believe we have discovered a nest of Judah-ites hiding in rural Wisconsin. They have gone virtually undetected the past few months. We have also been able to tap into their Web site. We hope to have these rebels in custody by morning and turn the Web site into a tool for our cause. We will have them singing “Hail Carpathia” before the morning is out.

Uh, guys, I know I'm not the head of a massive worldwide dictatorship, but you do realize that in controlling the world, you do also control Wisconsin? In fact, since this email Chang intercepted was to the Supreme Commander of the United North American States, you'd think said commander has already picked up the phone and made the necessary phone calls. Because like I said, the GC controls the world which, as much as Ellanjay hates to admit it, America is a part of the world.

We cut back to Mark. Not much happens in his section, just him moving right along, when he spots the GC's fleet of Humvees on the move. I'm actually shocked that the Ellanjay, given their obsession with the heroes asserting how manly and masculine they are compared to their effete, possibly homosexual foes, that they're letting the GC tool around in manly Humvees rather than Volkswagen Bugs.

Mark tries to dial his friends but since the GC are continuing to be competent to move the plot along, he still can't get through. So his section ends with him basically going, "Oh noes I got to warn them."

We then cut back to Petra. Again Judd and Vicki (and possibly Lionel) are all "Oh noes!" about the Wisconsin situation. But fear not, Token Jew is here to try, once again, to tackle the problem known as Theodicy.

As you probably guessed, Token Jew's explanation is pure weaksauce, just like all their other attempts at solving this problem.

“We understand,” Judd said. “It’s just that we know angels warn people. Is there any reason why God couldn’t do something like that now?”

“God’s ways are God’s ways. I do not presume to understand why he chooses to keep some from the blade while others are taken from us. I do not understand why he chose me to lead a million people here, but I am grateful he made me part of his plan. I do not think there is any harm in asking him to act—in fact, I think he wants us to. So let us pray now that he will use some angel or human to save your friends and keep them safe.”

Or in other words, Ellanjay chose to go the "The Lord works in mysterious dickish ways" route of explanation. Granted this explanation is a step above some of their other attempts, but still I would have appreciated it if Token Jew had just gone, "Look, while none of us matter as much on the hierarchy as St. Rayford and Our Buck, you guys still are main characters. One of the perks of being a main character is that the laws governing this universe can be bent, broken, or tossed aside any time the capricious deity who runs this place, feels like it. So just sit back and hope that said deity hasn't decided that he needs to throw in a martyrdom scene to spice things up. If he has, you're screwed. If not, fear not."

But something tells me we'll never get that scene. Seriously this's the most gratuitous example of the characters both being genre-savvy and complete idiots at the same time. It's like every character has been given a few pages of the script and knows whether they're a Main Character and from there, how they relate to the other Main Characters, or if they're just a spear-carrier meant to move the plot along. Though they aren't too genre-savvy because if they were, they'd be like, "Y'know I could suffer through all the horrific disasters that I know will happen or I can actively seek out martyrdom and spend the rest of this seven-year tribulation, romping in Heaven with all the hot ladies and gents of history. Bye, going to preach at the GC recruiting center until I get carted off!" It's the old "Sip goo in Zion or eat steak in the Matrix" dilemma.

Brief interlude where Mark rigs his car to explode in order to attract the GC's attention while he runs off to warn his friends. Like I said, there's no way Ellanjay are going to convince me that something is actually going to happen. No way in Hell.

But they do provide a brief explanation as to how Mark rigged the car. I know nothing about vehicles, but I bet even the A-Team would find this set-up a little dubious.

[Yet another 80s Cheese-related Tangent] But then again, the A-Team had Mr. T on their side, so it's not like the Tribbles ever had a shot at matching the A-Team in terms of coolness. Ah, Mr. of the few people who became famous for being himself and by being himself, I mean, being legally insane by any definition of the word. But he is the lovable brand of crazy, not the scary Mel Gibson-brand. So in the great Internet debate of Mr. T vs. Chuck Norris, gotta side with Mr. T. Because Mr. T is the lovable kind of crazy, whereas Chuck Norris has embraced much of the rightwing's rancid bigotry and become, yeah, there's no way I can finish this sentence in a way that isn't depressing. [/Tangent]

Anyway, enough stalling, here's the setup:

He had reached a knoll when a terrific blast shattered the night. Flames shot into the air, then another explosion. Mark had stuffed a rag in the gasoline can, lit it, and placed it under his car’s gas tank. The lead truck in the convoy stopped, and several troops jumped out, weapons ready. An officer shouted something, and the last vehicle turned sideways on the road. Mark didn’t wait to see what would happen. He scrambled over the knoll, got his bearings, and headed for the camp.

Yeah, I'm waiting for the GC to respond by pointing to a few cars and saying, "You guys stay with the burning vehicle and provide backup. I've already called the firefighters; they'll be on their way soon," but while the GC have gone up a level in competence, they're apparently not that competent.

We cut back to Petra. Judd and Vicki are meeting with Token Jew to talk about their marriage. As you guessed, because Ellanjay are into worthless padding, not necessary information that would actually flesh out the characters and provide needed development, they just have the narrative say something about how marriage is difficult and they've been having disagreements. Because I'm a drooling pervert, I just assume every time they mention Judd and Vicki having disagreements, it's because the sex really is that bad. Since we're on the last year of the Tribulation, both Judd and Vicki are legal and not statutory, so that remark isn't too creepy. It still probably qualifies as a little creepy and for that I apologize; I too, wonder how I enjoyed entertainment before my hormones kicked in and turned me into a drooling pervert, capable of seeing sexual overtones in every form of entertainment. The fact that I cut my story-telling teeth, reading and writing fanfiction, probably doesn't help either.

Vicki is all "Did you have disagreements with your wife?" and we've finally reached the part where I felt some emotion besides "Bored beyond all reason." Unfortunately, since the only emotions Ellanjay are capable of eliciting from me are either "Bored beyond all reason" or "Ragedump leading me to use the F-Bomb to an extent that David Mamet would consider too much"...I don't need to say anymore. I'll just post the quote, because you should know by now, I believe in spreading pain around.

Tsion laughed. “We had pouting sessions at first. I would get hurt and pout for a few days. Then she would get hurt and pout for a week. She was much better at pouting than I was, let me tell you. But as we grew together, and especially after we became believers in Jesus, I saw our relationship change.” He sat back and closed his eyes. “Oh, how I long to speak with her and ask her advice on things. But then I won’t have to wait long for that, will I?”

"Oh those silly women and their constant pouting. My wife was always going on and on about how I shouldn't sleep with her sister or beat her, or bet our grocery money on horses. But then again, y'know how women are, am I right? What with their mysterious menstrual cycles making them get all moody for no real reason at all?"

Thought I'd provide a translation. Because while I am mentally shouting "Fuck You, Ellanjay. Now I know why Beverly LaHaye took a job and moved a thousand miles away from her husband, so she can make a living saying that women shouldn't have careers and should be solely devoted to their husbands!" at the same time, I'm like, "How can they not see how, at best, incredibly patronizing, at worst, incredibly insulting, Token Jew's dialogue was?" Granted I shouldn't be too shocked by their regressive views towards women, but given how much they fail even at stuff that doesn't involve women, I'm wondering just how well either Jenkins or LaHaye do at their jobs.

Jenkins is a writer, a profession that requires some knowledge of humans/observation skills, but we can point to numerous examples, even outside the LB-verse (just read RubyTea's takedown of his series about Paul Stepola), which proves that...I'd say he's been dwelling under a rock or raised by wolves since infancy, but even then he'd probably not be completely clueless about how humans behave towards one another. I'm forced to go with the Multiverse theory.

One of the things I like about the comic book universe is that theory. It came into being because given that most of these comic book characters have been around for decades, eventually there will be a few Continuity Snarls which leads to confusion on the readers' part. They could and have tried to explain away said snarls, but inevitably in doing so, they wind up creating more snarls. So basically both Marvel and DC have the concept of the Multiverse and use that as an excuse to cover their asses. The excuse is basically, "All the continuity is true. That particular story just happened in an alternate universe." It's a lazy explanation and it probably leads to its share of snarls, but I like and embrace said theory: the idea that multiple universes can exist side-by-side with the occupants of either universes being unaware of it and that all the great fictional stories we tell, are psychic vibrations from some other universe. I'll let the Justice League from the DCAU explain it in a much less confusing fashion. Because lately while DC Movies (with the exception of the Nolan Batman pictures) suck, the DC Animated Universe is and will always be awesome! We must never forget it.

Anyway, the point I'm trying to build to is that in various fiction where the multiverse exists, frequently there's a tear or a hole or something and the denizens of different universes find themselves transposed to another world. So while I could accept that Jenkins is simply a shitty writer with a shitty grasp on human nature, maybe Jenkins is actually a citizen from a terrifying alternate reality where everyone is as monstrously inhuman as the characters in his novels. But somehow he got stranded here, which is why his novels exist in our reality. :whimpers: Hey, if you can think of a more comforting delusion for me to cling to, I'd like to hear it. I'd rather believe Jenkins is a transplant from another world, rather than accept that some people are that monstrously clueless.

I also wonder about how well Tim LaHaye does at his job. Because as a pastor's daughter, I know damn well that there's more to being a pastor than preaching for an hour on Sunday. As a pastor, my dad is frequently called upon to shepherd his flock and be a source of spiritual comfort throughout the week, often doing home visits and hospital visits and nursing home visits. Words of advice: if you're going to make a quick drop-off visit to an elderly parishioner, expect to spend a minimum of thirty minutes sitting in their house as they talk about their life/family. And that's just if said parishioner is a person of few words. If they're real Chatty Kathy-types, kiss the rest of your afternoon goodbye.

I imagine these visits to hospitals aren't too rough when it's a minor ailment and both parties know that said parishioner will be back home within days, but my dad has had to deal intimately with the facts of life or death. Parishioners tend to want someone to comfort them or their elderly relative as they die. Being face to face with that level of pain has to be rough, which is why I wonder just how well Tim LaHaye can do at the preaching gig? Because he's had to have been shoved into situations where it comes down to choosing the least-bad solution to a bad problem and you'd think that would give him some insight into the fact that peoples' lives seldom make the singular point you want them to make. I'll just assume that Tim LaHaye probably delegates the visiting aspect of his job, freeing him up for a busy schedule of writing shitty books.

Okay, now that I've finished my insanely long tangent that was probably more interesting than the stuff in the book, back to the book. But there's not really much to report. They talk and talk with Vicki talking about how they should start an orphanage to take care of all those kids, too young to be exterminated by TurboJesus yet old enough to be brainwashed by Carpathia and their eeeevil secular humanist parents, when TurboJesus returns, packing heat. Yeah, I'm going to provide a link to ako's "Children of the Goats" fanfiction. Even though, said fan fiction/deconstruction will likely never be continued, given how much time has passed, it's still damn awesome. Sometimes I wonder if I should track down ako, be like, "Have you ever seen the movie Misery? Then this will all be new to you." Given that I've both seen the movie and read the book, I can creative in how I choose to motivate ako. But seriously, ako has probably died in a freak gardening/vomit-choking/spontaneous combustion accident. Or moved on and developed a life/hobbies that don't involve making fun of people on the Internet. Either way, the Slacktivist community is sadder because of it.

And that's it. Sorry for one chapter, but I felt it was long enough this week. I hope you had fun reading it at least.

Monday, October 12, 2015

For the Love of Whatever, It's called Show, Don't Tell!

Sorry to be late but at my cousin's wedding on Saturday, I stepped wrong in my heeled sandals and wound up with a sprained ligament in my ankle. Good news, hopefully I won't be on crutches for four months. Bad news, I have to wear a boot. But hey, I'd much rather deal with a boot for maybe a month (that's what the Doctor said) than four months on crutches. Yeah...I wonder if this injury unseats the time I broke my femur (after falling out of a tree) as my stupidest injury.

If you ever decide to get involved in writing, the commandment you keep running into over and over again, is "Show, don't tell." I admit if you're a newbie, it can be difficult to find the proper balance. That's one of the problems with writing: to paraphrase Captain Barbossa, the rules are more like guidelines. About the only ones that are set in stone are essentially, "Read, write, and rewrite." With other so-called rules or commandments, nearly anyone can pull a book off the shelf that breaks a rule yet is still damn awesome. Most will say, "Don't begin the story with your protagonist as a baby," yet the Harry Potter series does and it's just awesome.

So when it comes to, "Show, don't tell," there should probably be a few caveats, because like I said, it's about what works for the story or works for you. Sometimes it's perfectly okay to tell, rather than show. In these cases, it's usually because said detail is a minor one that can be dealt with quickly. Many Sci-Fi fiction has faster-than-light travel, which is currently a violation of the laws of physics, but rather than boring/confusing the readers to death by trying to explain how it all works (and inevitably said writer will get stuff wrong because few writers have PhDs. in physics), just show how having said travel affects the story. Make some one-line babble about "Tachyon particles" or "Arc reactors" and get to the part where your characters do stuff, already!

As for when you should "show" a general view, always defer to show. Experience has taught me that it's easier to fix a story with too much detail, than too little. With too much, you just play brutal editor and hack and slash through stuff in your document; it's far harder to figure out how to layer more stuff on a skeleton. But really, when it comes to stuff like character's emotions/reactions, yeah, you should show the hell out of that stuff. Don't say, "Character X is sad," show us his/her sorrow. Talk about tears or show their inner monologue! Just don't do the single-tear trope. That one always cheesed me off, because personal experience has taught me that no one looks good when they're sobbing.

I'm doing this diatribe because in this week's selection, I keep wanting to get some brass knuckles with the words "Show" written on them and pound the shit out of Ellanjay. Because there are so many missed opportunities, so many parts where if you gave them to any writer worth a dime, they could have made good hay out of all this. The majority of this week's selection involve the Tribbles dealing with the loss of Chloe. Anyone could see dramatic potential in a group of people reeling from the loss of a friend. But Ellanjay just do the text equivalent of "They are really sad" rather than plunge further. But I suppose, like I've said in the past, if Ellanjay did opt to "Show, not Tell" and in doing so, showed just how horrific all these horrible disasters would be, physically and psychologically, that would cut down on the gloating. Because as Fred has said, Ellanjay aren't writing these horrific scenarios out of a genuine desire to see people get saved; they are Jonah, doing their part by preaching, in hopes that they can sit around and gloat when God exterminates the brutes!

Okay, sorry, I'll get to the book now. Just thought I should do some talking, is all.

The chapter begins with a part that makes me shout, "Come on!" Because it's something lends itself so perfectly to showing, yet they squander it.

THE FIRST thing Vicki wanted to do after the broadcast was see Chloe’s son, Kenny. She found him with Chang’s sister, Ming Toy. Kenny came to Vicki right away, and she held him tightly for a long time. The boy was still asking where his mother was and when he would see her.

“Buck should be here tomorrow,” Ming whispered to Vicki.

Kenny reached for Vicki’s hand, and she sang him songs and helped him get to sleep that night, with the promise of exploring Petra in the morning.

Again, anyone could see great dramatic potential in this scene. In the interest of being as accurate as possible, I went to the Left Behind wikia to look up Kenny's age. From what I can tell, he's around three or four years old. With that in mind, it can't be too hard to see the dramatic potential that could have been mined from all this. Picture this: having to explain to a young child that his mother is dead and he won't be able to see her. Okay, Kenny's situation is different in that the Tribbles have absolute confirmation that Chloe will show up again in a year, but still. A kid his age doesn't exactly have a lot of life experience. Maybe he's heard of other people dying as a result of the myriad disasters, but it's still different when it's your mom. Also, again a child his age doesn't have much in terms of coping skills/being able to express his feelings in a constructive manner. Anyone whose been around a child under the age of five, will tell you that kids that little are real crybabies. They have all these emotions that they don't fully understand, that are so much bigger than them, and they can't fully articulate. So when they get overwhelmed, they inevitably start crying.

So I'm calling BS that Kenny would just meekly go with Ming and not pry further about his mother or start wailing when he heard the terrible news. I almost said, a three or four-year-old probably wouldn't be comforted by dribble about how "Mommy's in Heaven" when he really wants her with him, but truthfully, that dribble doesn't work on anyone, even if they are old enough to drink. Here's a hint: sometimes the best thing to say is, "I'm sorry," and from there, offer to do something. Clean house or make a casserole or something.

There's also this line.

Vicki could tell Judd was shocked by what had happened to Chloe, but they didn’t want to talk about it in front of Kenny.

Again, so much wasted dramatic potential! You could have a had a scene similar to one in Season 8 of The Dreamkeepers (a fan-continuation of the Kiwi drama, "The Tribe") where Judd and Vicki talk about their feelings regarding Chloe and wonder whether they should go on as scheduled with the wedding or put it off a little while longer out of respect for those mourning the loss of Chloe. When a project done by a bunch of fans online for fun has better writing than something published by an actual publishing agency, you've failed!

But I've said many times that I have a dim view of the Vicki/Judd relationship: that they're mostly getting married so they can have sex, because they're too chicken to just engage in premarital stuff then ask forgiveness afterwards.

For those of you wondering how the Tribbles will deal with their grief, fear not! Token Jew is hear with his platitudes that wouldn't comfort anyone human.

Oh and apparently Albie's among the dead. I don't know if that had been mentioned before and I overlooked it (because I've been known to do that sort of thing) or if this is the first instance his death has been mentioned. I'm also wondering whether he's even been mentioned at all in the series before, but I'm too lazy to look it up. Here's a hint, guys: it's okay to do callbacks to the adult books, but they have to make sense. That was what I ranted about regarding the death of Steve Plank: given that in the kids' books, he'd never been seen or mentioned before that point, it's pretty stupid to expect the target audience to know and care about his death.

Anyway, the words of Token Jew. As you probably guessed, said eulogy is so generic and non-specific that you can practically substitute any name you want in place of Chloe's and it'll still make sense. In fact, if you're really, really bored (like I am), just start putting in your favorite fictional character's name. Sort of like one of those Google searches where you put in "[Your Name Here] was killed by" and see what comes up. Apparently I die a lot of vampire-related deaths, making me wonder if I should switch to a garlic-based body wash or something.

“Because both Albie and Chloe were people of the Word. Oh, how they loved God’s love letter to them and to us! Albie would be the first to tell you he was not a scholar, hardly a reader. He was a man of street smarts, knowledgeable in the ways of the world, quick and shrewd and sharp. But whenever the occasion arose when he could sit under the teaching of the Bible, he took notes, he asked questions, he drank it in. The Word of God was worked out in his life. It changed him. It helped mold him into the man he was the day he died.

“And Chloe, our dear sister and one of the original members of the tiny Tribulation Force that has grown so large today. Who could know her and not love her spirit, her mind, her spunk? What a wife and mother she was! Young yet brilliant, she grew the International Commodity Co-op into an enterprise that literally kept alive millions around the globe who refused the mark of Antichrist and lost their legal right to buy and sell.

“In various safe-house locations over the past half-dozen years, I lived in close proximity to Chloe and to her family. It was common to find her reading her Bible, memorizing verses, trying them out on people. Often she would hand me her Bible and ask me to check her to see if she had a verse correct, word for word. And she always wanted to know exactly what it meant. It was not enough to know the text; she wanted it to come alive in her heart and mind and life.

“To those who will miss Chloe the most, the deepest, and the most painfully until we see her again in glory, I give you the only counsel that kept me sane when my own beloved were so cruelly taken from me. Hold to God’s unchanging hand. Cling to his Word. Fall in love with the Word of God anew. Grasp his promises like a puppy sinks its teeth into your pant legs, and never let go.

Again, it would actually help if Token Jew would actually mention specific traits related to Chloe. What was her favorite movie and why? Also, it's nice he made some acknowledgement of the massive task she was in charge of, but it would also be nice if they mentioned how the Co-Op worked in the first place! I'm assuming Ellanjay's thinking goes along the lines of "She gets stuff at Wal-Mart" but as anyone would tell you, the stuff at the Wal-Mart, they require materials and fuel in order to get into the hands of consumers. It's a basic fact: everything you use, eat, or wear, the materials had to be harvested and shaped, before finally being transported to shelves. All this requires human labor (which needs food, water, and sleep) and frequently, it requires the burning of fossil fuels in order to power the machinery needed to make and transport this stuff. But I have a feeling if I were to ask Ellanjay point-blank how Chloe's network works, their thinking is (sorry to repeat the joke, but it works) akin to that of the Underpants Gnomes path to riches.

I'd also like to know how Chloe went from being a Stanford Sophomore who managed to cross much of the country in the wake of the massive chaos caused by the Rapture to a stupid brat who whines rather than confronts her man when she thinks he's cheating on her, but I'm assuming that's easily explained by the God-botomy that happens whenever a character kneels before Zod. Because nearly every character was a helluva lot more interesting before they bent the knee.

Token Jew ends his eulogy by quoting the last few verses of 1 Corinthians 13. I provided said link because while I enjoy picking on Paul as much as the next Liberal Christian, for all his faults, his views regarding God and Jesus were probably much more nuanced than Ellanjay's. Plus, as a former Jew, Paul wouldn't be anywhere near as patronizing when it comes to the Jewish people. Also, as many will point out, most of the really misogynistic passages that people with Ellanjay's politics like to cite, weren't actually written by Paul.

But for all of Paul's faults, there's a reason 1 Corinthians 13 aka the Love Chapter, endures. While in some passages, Paul remains stubbornly a man of his time with the prejudices of someone of that time, in the Love Chapter, he does manage to transcend those limitations, even for a bit, and that warrants celebration. Plus, love him or hate him, Paul saw Jesus as someone who'd bridge the gap between God and Man, not a vengeful djinn who'd throw you into Hell unless you say the right words with the right amount of sincerity demanded.

The chapter ends with Vicki and Judd getting married. Again, they fast-forward through this, in spite of the dramatic potential. There are a few good small details about Vicki wishing that her friends could serve as bridesmaids or that her or Judd's parents were there, but it wraps up pretty quick.

When the time came, Chang Wong linked by video with the group in Wisconsin so they could see the ceremony. Judd and Vicki had chosen a beautiful spot overlooking the spring of water. Everyone said Vicki looked lovely in her dress. When Vicki saw Judd, she tried to keep from crying but couldn’t. She wished her family could have been there to share the moment. She wished she could have met Judd’s mom and dad.

They had written their own vows and both wept openly as they read their words to each other. Tsion spoke for a few minutes and challenged both Judd and Vicki to give their love to each other and their lives to God. “We do not know exactly what the next year will bring, but my prayer for you is that you would both grow in the grace of our Lord, until he comes again.”

Again, it would be nice to hear their vows and hear their internal monologue on this important day, but that would actually be good, necessary details that would actually flesh out the characters, and you know Ellanjay prefer worthless padding above all else.

Throwing on a second chapter because the first one was short and because I'm feeling generous.

The chapter begins in the viewpoint of Lionel. Knowing Ellanjay and how much they suck at juggling characters, this will probably be Lionel's only appearance for a while.

I'm afraid there's not much really to talk about in his section. He just talks and thinks about stuff and watches the news. Again, there's interesting potential that could be mined, especially in parts where he talks about how he feels useless and pitied because he's always given light work. Because even though his pain is mitigated by the fact that he'll get a new arm when TurboJesus returns a year from now, it's still a loss, one that would require him to work around. Certain chores are difficult if not impossible to do one-handed. Ever try cutting up your meat for dinner? Kind of difficult to use a knife and fork with just one hand.

After this bit with Lionel, we cut back to the group in Wisconsin. One of them, Mark, has fallen astray from the RTC faith in that he wants to actually do stuff. As I recall, in the single-digit books, he was the guy who wanted to join one of the militias in armed insurrection against Nicky, so props to Ellanjay for a little consistency here.

Marshall Jameson paced in front of the computer. “I understand your feelings, Mark. I’ve wanted to start a rebel radio station to tell people the truth, but some things are too dangerous.”

“Why are we so concerned about staying safe?” Mark said. “Isn’t it more important to get the message out?”

Conrad Graham slapped his hands on his knees. “If that’s your goal, I might go along with you, but you’re talking about fighting the GC. What could you possibly accomplish?”

“You saw what they did to Chloe,” Mark said. “If somebody had tried to take those Peacekeepers out before they caught her, she wouldn’t have lost her head.”

“Reports from the Trib Force say she went outside trying to protect her family and friends,” Marshall said. “But a rescue mission would have backfired. They didn’t even know where she was.”

As you probably guessed, I am totally on Mark's side in this debate. Like I keep saying, they have absolute confirmation that all this stuff is true, so why don't they just stand outside the centers where Nicky distributes the his Demon-Mark and preach until the GC cart you away?

I admit that my knowledge as to how Chloe was captured and the "tortures" she endured at the GC's hands, comes solely from this website. If I am wrong, I'm sure aunursa will chime in and correct me, but as I recall, Chloe was captured because she was an idiot who decided to head outside and confront a threat on her own, rather than alert the others in the bunker so they can all deal with it. Because heaven forbid Our Buck lose a few hours of sleep! Though that does actually seem within character. Chloe, as a good and proper RTC, knows that on the great hierarchy that rules the LB-verse, she ranks below Our Buck. His concerns matter above all else and it's generally understood that as a lesser being, Chloe must bow her head and sublimate her concerns to his. But Chloe's capture still remains one of those moments where you shake your head and wonder how the hell she got into Stanford.

The other tribbles are like, "We don't want to see your face on TV." But Mark continues to make good points, pointing out that they have enough help in running the website, so they don't need him around. The Tribbles ask, "So what do you want to do?" And Mark, continuing to make all the points, basically says he wants to go after the GC. Again, I know Mark will eventually be humbled and brought back to the one true tenet of RTC-ianity, which is, after loving God and Jesus, to do nothing, but I continue to side with him. In most fiction, the guy who wants to go after the bad guys and stop them from killing innocent people is generally seen as the hero. Granted we could ask why he isn't going after Zod, given that he's responsible for everything including Nicky and the GC, but I'll take what I can get.

Because like I keep saying, heroes are generally people who value human life above all else. That's what made Avengers 2 so awesome: when Ultron was like "Okay you can stop me from wiping out all life on this planet or save a city full of innocent people" the Avengers' collective response is "STFU! We're doing both!" And they proceed to. :sighs: I know I need to stop gushing so much about the Marvel Cinematic Universe but it's just so awesome. I know people don't gush as much about Avengers 2 as they did about the previous Avengers film, but I still think Avengers 2 is a damn awesome film, well worth your viewing time. The problem was that The Avengers was so awesome that Avengers 2 had a lot of expectations riding on it. For the most part, I think it met most of its story-telling goals.

I do wonder if Avengers 2, with its awesome gee-whiz action and heroes who actually do value about innocent lives, rather just paying lip service to it...part of me wonders if it wasn't just thumbing its nose at Man of Steel just a little. Again, as said in previous snarks, Man of Steel is one of those movies that provokes nothing but frothing, profanity-laden rants out of me. Since I don't want to alienate my online readers the way I have people in real life, I'm not going to go any further into my Man of Steel rant. I will say that the Marvel Cinematic Universe understands that a large reason why we like Superhero films, is the spectacle. We know the idea of a billionaire battling evil in a robot suit of armor he built himself is inherently ridiculous (and they do make nods at it), but at the same time, we love it because it's inherently awesome at the same time. Don't get me wrong, when it does come time for the big hero-villain smackdown, they do take it seriously and not have both sides constantly punning like in Joel Schumacher's Batman and Robin, but like I said Marvel knows we love Superhero films for the awesome ridiculous spectacle and they deliver.

All right, I'll stop geeking out and get back to work. :(

Colin suggests they make contact with someone living near Chicago, a woman named Lenore. I have no idea why they think that will steer Mark back to doing nothing, but hey. Mark's selection ends with them trying to call her, but the number not getting through! Meanwhile, I make the Invasion of the Body-Snatchers scream. Because it had been established that communication networks require no upkeep or maintenance whatsoever, that they are as tough and hard to get rid of as dandelions. Hence why they still have Internet and cell service no matter how many acts of God strike back to back.

We cut to Vicki, who is waking up. Once again, Ellanjay miss an opportunity to flesh out their characters, but they do manage to confuse the timeframe, just in one paragraph.

She lay back and stretched. Being married was a lot different than she had thought. There had already been disagreements to work through. Her childhood image of “happily ever after” was gone. Marriage was truly a lot of work.

Yes, because I'm a drooling pervert, my immediate thought in response was, "So the sex was that bad?" But I'm raising an eyebrow, because it couldn't have been more than a couple of days since the wedding; shouldn't Judd and Vicki still be in the honeymoon phase of their marriage? But given RTCs' hangups about sex, my immediate response seems disturbingly accurate. I find myself wondering about all the RTC kids who manage to do what their parents/pastor wants and save it for marriage. I can't help but think of how awkward it is, come their wedding night, when after so much buildup, they're finally allowed to get it on. You just know there's going to be some of them going, "The Hell?! This is what everyone made such a big deal over?!" Because as many will point out, your first time is rarely as earth-shakingly magical as so many make it out to be.

There's actually a cute bit where Judd decides to serve Vicki breakfast in bed. It's one of those bits that this series sorely needs more of, characters behaving, well, like humans towards one another, as opposed to sitting around and passively watching as Horrific Disaster Number 6549871651567 happens.

There's so discussion about Manna. Basically it's a light flaky pastry that tastes sweet and dissolves on the tongue. There is a brief mention about how God must have added extra vitamins to it. I wonder if that was put in, in response to all my criticisms about how a diet consisting of Manna and Quail probably doesn't provide all the necessary daily nutrition requirements. In fact, later on when they talk about how people have lost so much weight on a diet of manna, I fought the urge to make a smart-ass remark about how malnutrition would quickly take the weight off.

There is another nice human moment where Judd and Vicki talk about how they feel so guilty for being happy when so many others in Petra(like Buck and Kenny and some unnamed NPCs) are going through appalling emotional pain. It's a small thing but I come to celebrate the rare moments where characters act human and show compassion for others.

We cut back to Mark. Mark has decided to leave in the night, but runs into Charlie, who wants to come with him. That's seriously all that happens.

The chapter ends with Lionel and a little bit where Ellanjay once again tries to convince us that the tribbles are totally in danger this time for real, guys!

I'll just quote so you can enjoy said passage:

“Look at this,” Chang said. “The GC intercepted your message. It never got to your friends.”

“What? How could they—?”

Chang clicked on the e-mail from Kruno Fulcire’s aide. He pointed at the bottom of the screen. “See this? It’s code for the higher-ups. I think they’ve finally broken into the Young Trib Force Web site.”

“No,” Lionel gasped.

“That’s not the worst news. Looks like the GC has a location for your friends. If we don’t alert them, they’re dead.”

Nice try, but you can't fool me! I know this will all lead to an interlude as pointless as condom-dispensers in the Vatican City. You can try and try, but I've been burned too many times to fall for that trick again.

I'm going to assume that someone gently pointed out to Ellanjay that Satellite Internet, especially Satellite Internet under control of a Satanic NWO, can be easily tracked. Again, it should have happened a lot sooner, leading me to suspect that Ellanjay only took this into account as an excuse to pad out the series.

And that's it. I'll try to have the next part Saturday or Sunday. Hopefully nothing else will happen that will keep me from my duties.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Do Not Resist, 'Cause Nicky is Strong!

Well, I've put it off long enough. Time to do my hate rituals and get to snarking.

Spoiler alert, we've finally come to the part where Chloe's neck gets to enjoy a pleasant breeze. But I, like Pierre, don't care. Seriously, I feel like Bart Simpson, going, "You know what would be better than nothing? Anything!"

I should probably warn you: if there's a lot of links in this post, it's mostly in order to amuse myself and keep from going into a boredom-induced coma. That's why I usually provide links. That and to better fight the urge to tap out lengthy Morse code messages into Ellanjay's skull with a tire iron. That's what I like about hanging out on the Internet: I can supplement my poor social skills with entertaining clips from YouTube.

You'll be happy to know that Vicki and Lionel have finally touched down in Petra so we can cancel that candelight vigil we had planned.

They talk some more about how New Babylon will soon be destroyed. Much of this chapter is talking, I'm afraid. :whimpers: In previous chapters, but not this one, they spoke about how New Babylon will most certainly be destroyed with nukes. Because the Revelation verse they pulled out of context clearly says it will be destroyed by fire and everyone knows the only thing that causes a fire, is nukes, apparently. For centuries, all the great leaders of history, George Washington, Alexander the Great, or Genghis Khan, ate their meat cold and raw, because there were no nukes. Plenty of worthless items such as a bow drill or a piece of flint, but no nukes.

But it's like Fred said: Ellanjay believe that all the books of the Bible weren't written for the people of their time (even though many were undergoing horrible suffering at the time of writing), but for some other people on some continent they've never heard of some 2000 years in the future.

There's some blather about the GC setting up a trap for the Tribbles in Louisiana. I suppose it's a callback to the adult books, but I don't know and I don't care. I just thought I should mention it in the futile hope it will actually mean something later on.

We get this last comment from Vicki, before cutting to Judd.

“Are they going to televise Chloe’s execution?” Vicki shuddered. It was a spectacle Vicki never wanted to see, but if her sister in Christ was going to be killed, Vicki wanted to witness the woman’s last moments on earth.

Vicki wants to make sure after they cut off Chloe's head, they drive a stake into her heart just to be sure. Okay, that's a little dark, even for me, but I'm bored out of my skull.

So much so that I thought I'd see if any of my few, my proud readers can answer a question that I'm forever debating (and probably always will debate until I'm claimed by the icy hand of death): Which fictional supernatural horror does Dick Cheney most resemble in terms of looks and personality, Mumm-Ra from ThunderCats or Randall Flagg from too many Stephen King books to list?

Mumm-Ra is a strong contender in that his motto ("As long as evil exists, Mumm-Ra lives!") does accurately describe Dick Cheney's existence. Because I firmly believe Dick Cheney will never die. He will be around when the sun turns into a red giant and consumes Earth and probably afterwards. Because Heaven doesn't want him and Hell's scared shitless of him! :O Dude's had four heart attacks and is still standing, whereas one is usually enough to take most people out! A few years ago, when I heard Dick Cheney had a heart transplant, let's just say there is nothing you can say that will convince me that he had it done in the traditional manner: I think he tore it out of some poor sap's chest while it was still beating ala Mola Ram in Indiana Jones. Nothing will convince me otherwise.

But at the same time, Mumm-Ra was shown as having a soft spot for his dog and that alone may convince me not to label Dick Cheney as Mumm-Ra. Because Dick Cheney feels nothing for no one. Dick Cheney has no soft spots, period. His wife and kids are all synthoid-replicants created to serve as a cover and convince the public he's not an eldritch horror with a human exterior.

I also lean towards the Randall Flagg interpretation because I have no difficulty believing that Dick Cheney has appeared throughout history under a wide variety of names/appearances, just like Flagg. Whether he always uses the initials "DC" is up to you.

But I thought I'd throw that question out there and see what my readers think? I know they're probably telling me to "STFU and get back to the book!" but trust me when I say that the Dick Cheney question is far more interesting. It's a mystery that demands to be solved!

Judd is still in New Babylon. Why...I don't know and really don't care. I'll just assume it's got to do with padding and move on. It's probably healthier than getting into long debates about the nature of Dick Cheney's existence.

Oh and for those of you, like me, who are still wondering what the hell was the point of the stuff with Krystall, wonder no more. Because apparently she got a bridge dropped on her. They boo-hoo about it a little and talk about how eeeevil Nicky is for killing her for leaking intel to a terrorist organization, but tacitly ignore the whole "Whatever she did to help the Tribbles, it doesn't matter because she'll still wind up roasting on a spit anyway" issue.

Judd briefly starts talking about how they're are probably other people in New Babylon who need to GTFO before God rains down nukes so maybe they should go hunting for them and I start crying and saying, "Make the bad men stop with the transparent excuses for padding!" Thankfully though, the Story Gods are smiling down on me as Mac shows up and is like, "Get on the plane!" and Judd does. :breathes a sigh of relief: I don't know what I did to deserve this reprieve, but hey, I've learned don't question a stroke of good fortune. Besides, Ellanjay will punish me soon enough with more padding.

When Mac saw Judd, he grinned and slapped Judd’s back. “I dropped off a redhead in Petra. Get on the plane, boy. I’m taking you home.”

Judd couldn’t help laughing as he got on the plane. As Mac and Otto spoke at the bottom of the stairs, a sense of peace came over him. During his stay in New Babylon, he hadn’t let himself think of the next day. He simply survived minute by minute. Now his thoughts turned to Petra and who was waiting for him.

That last line, when Judd talks about how his thoughts turned to Petra and who was waiting for him, I had to fight the urge to cross out "who was waiting for him" and replace it with "the vagina waiting for him." Because like I've said so many times, nothing will convince me that this marriage isn't just a flimsy excuse so Judd and Vicki can get laid before God comes and takes away sex for everyone.

We cut back to Vicki. Apparently in Petra, they've set up a massive viewing of Chloe's execution. It will be projected on the side of the mountain for everyone to see. Because that's what Chloe would really like her fellow believers to witness: her tortuous death at the hands of the enemy.

There is some mention from Sam about how they don't normally watch executions, but Token Jew decided everyone should see the coverage. Because those other Believers or Jews (there are no other categories of people who are opposed to Nicky) were NPCs, not Main Characters like Chloe, so the Tribbles could safely ignore their painful deaths.

Apparently Chloe still looks all radiant and beautiful, because no matter what you put a Main Character through, even if they're dragged through a coal chute by their hair, when the time comes for them to grandstand and be all martyriffic (spoiler!), you can't have them :gasp: :choke: have their beauty marred by so much as a bruise. Because as Conservapedia has taught us, fat or ugly or fat and ugly people never have anything wise or insightful to say.

Vicki has a sad, though, when she sees some Jewish prisoners.

The camera panned away, and Vicki noticed prisoners with the Star of David stenciled onto their clothes. These were Jews who had been starved, beaten, and tortured. They looked almost relieved to be nearing death.

The text heroically manages to resist having Vicki think about how those Jewishy Jews will soon pay the price (in other words, burn in hell) for holding onto the faith/identity that has sustained them and their ancestors through centuries of persecutions, many times at the hands of RTCs, but hey. Fear not, though. As you probably guessed those nameless Jews will never be mentioned again in this chapter. They are NPCs who serve no other purpose except to give Vicki a reason to be sad and shake her head. And of course remind the readers that the GC are the real anti-Semites, not us! Afterwards, they will soon disappear from the story, never to be heard from again.

The guy hosting the executions is named Jock Ashmore. I mention him because I'm bored and I thought my readers would enjoy playing "Guess the Ethnicity/Nationality of This Character" game. Plus, it also provides me with a transparent excuse to indulge in my love of eighties cheese, by posting yet another link. Just know that I'm totally spending the whole section picturing him as the host from The Running Man.

Then we cut to Judd. Vicki runs to greet him and they all go to find a place to sit and watch Chloe's execution. I know I overuse the "Our Sociopathic Heroes" tag, but the casualness of this whole endeavor, about them all gathering round to get the best view, as though they were WATCHING THE PREMIERE OF CAPTAIN AMERICA 3: CIVIL WAR* RATHER THAN SOMEONE THEY CONSIDER A FRIEND, DIE HORRIBLY...I find myself oddly grateful that they manage to avoid mentioning whether or not the Tribbles are munching on popcorn as they wait for the blade to come down.

As you probably guessed, an Angel makes an appearance, gives a long speech full of Bible quotes, before leaving without having accomplished fuck-all. Just like all the previous angelic apparitions...because the almighty creator of the Universe can't actually do something that doesn't involve killing people horribly. He would try to rescue Chloe, but there isn't an orphanage or a hospital full of sick people nearby, so if he did perform a miracle and save her from dying, no innocent civilians would get caught in the crossfire and die horribly as a result of his intervention. We can't have that!

Of course, the Tribbles are amazed. Frankly, Tribbles are so easily amazed that I picture them acting like the stoned teenagers on The Simpsons around tin foil: "It's like a living mirror!"

“Incredible,” Vicki said, as Chang switched back to the live feed.

“I was ready to pull Chloe’s execution off the air, but this is too good,” Chang said. “God is even using this terrible event to reach people.”

Uh, God, maybe I shouldn't question you, seeing as I haven't created the entire universe in six days or resurrected myself after being dead for three days, but y'know what would work better than your current strategy of "Send an Angel to accomplish nothing of any importance" or "Exterminate the Brutes!" ANYTHING! I've compared your strategy to that of the Underpants Gnomes plan for riches but y'know what? THAT'S STARTING TO FEEL UNFAIR TO THE UNDERPANTS GNOMES BECAUSE EVEN THEIR PLAN IS MORE THOUGHT OUT THAN YOURS!!!!

Afterwards the area fills with heavenly light, or in other words, we get yet another heavenly miracle that accomplishes nothing. Seriously, it just makes it so the viewers don't get to see the blades cut off peoples' heads. They do get to see the bloody headless corpses as they twitch for a few seconds afterwards but it just isn't the same. And because I'm so bored, I amuse myself by picturing a PBS fundraiser in between all this, with a solemn speaker talking about how PBS is only able to provide such hard-hitting entertainment/news with the help of viewers like you and that they need your support to keep going. And of course you will get a nice tote bag if you do contribute.

But then again, for my own amusement and because it continues to provide me with a transparent excuse to indulge in eighties cheese, I picture Nicky's news channel as being pretty much exactly like Cobra TV. And yes, they do provide breaks so the band Cold Slither can play their hit song "Cold Slither" from their album "Cold Slither." Sadly, I would buy the hell out of that album if it actually existed, because increasingly I, like the good people at Cracked, wonder if we weren't supposed to root for Cobra in the first place. Because do you really expect the show's target audience of prepubescent boys to side against an organization that has the Baroness on payroll?! For those of you who don't know, the Baroness is the femme fatale who insured a generation of young boys would grow up with a thing for women in black leather with foreign accents and librarian glasses. Heck, I'm into her as well! I love foreign accents and am all about glasses. Geek chic rocks!

Okay, I'll try to stop with all the damn eighties cheese-related tangents.

Judd and Vicki and the others watch everybody get executed and if we guessed, there's no reaction and we learn nothing about the people being executed, congratulations. Reactions/backstory are for PCs only! As an NPC, you serve to allow the PCs to shake their heads sadly.

Finally though, we get to Chloe.

Since Chloe is a Main Character, she gets to grandstand, making a long drawn-out altar call, which the GC just allow. Because a Satanic One World Government would never do something as gauche as, I don't know, pull out a gun and shoot her to shut her up! Oh yeah, because guns and bullets are manly weapons unbefitting for effete GC troops! Or y'know, you could use electric batons, zap the hell out of her, then behead her. But then again, I suppose while the GC may be a Satanic NWO dedicated to crushing the RTCs and killing the One True God, they wouldn't be so monstrous as to trample over a condemned terrorist's right to free speech, after all.

The chapter ends with the blade coming down and killing Chloe. But at the moment of contact, angelic light blinds everyone so they don't have to see Chloe's brutal martyrdom.

Yeah, I know Ellanjay have, at best, an uneasy alliance with the Catholics. RTCs and Catholics have mistrusted each other for centuries, but thanks to Roe v. Wade, they have formed an uneasy alliance based on a mutual hatred of women/fetishization of fetuses. They still hate each other, but both sides realize they need the other side's organization/numbers if they are to ever overturn Roe v. Wade. As soon as they succeed in that, they'll be back to accusing each other of being Satan incarnate, but until then, they try to bite their tongues and keep their more unsavory opinions to themselves. Though on occasion, they do slip up and their true opinion comes shining through.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that since Ellanjay are Protestants, they don't share a tradition of Saints the way the Catholics do, which is why they are seriously unimaginative when it comes to martyrdom stories. Catholics may have their flaws, but they had some damn good and damn gory martyrdom stories! You believe they actually suffered for their faith!

Though the lack of imagination also stems from the fact that like I've said many times, their readers' love the cheap vicarious thrill of martyrdom stories so long as they don't actually have to go through with the martyrdom part. I mean, just think of the horrors that would unfold if they actually had to suffer for their faith and by suffer, I don't mean, have someone wish you a "Happy Holiday" or watch the gays get married. Kind of kills the gloating if you know that Chloe may have retained consciousness for up to fifteen seconds after being beheaded.

I think that's enough for this week. I apologize for oversaturating my post with G.I. Joe, but admit it, it was more entertaining than anything in the book. I'll just give you one more G.I. Joe link for the road, before I shuffle out entirely: 5 Cobra Commander Terror Plots That Might Actually Work.

And yes, as pathetic as it sounds, I've seen every episode on that list. Can't hate a villain with Chris Latta's voice, who managed to get a giant laser and decided the best use for it, was to carve his face onto the moon. Gotta give Cobra Commander credit for being a hands-on leader. He's in the trenches fighting alongside his redshirts, which is more than you can say for the G.I. Joe brass.

I'll stop now. :( I'm just saying at least Cobra Commander was entertaining while being nonsensical which is more than I can say for this series.

*I am continuing to beseech the movie gods: please let this movie be awesome like all the other movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Please tell me the writers saw what went wrong in the comic book version of Civil War and are taking care not to make the same mistakes. Because even though Tony Stark's traditionally been the more conservative voice in the Marvel Universe, being conservative in his politics doesn't mean he's synonymous with Hitler, dammit! Even though the modern GOP seems determined to prove otherwise.