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.


Firedrake said...

Yeah, because that is the answer to a woman in a troubled relationship: the man is right, give him another chance.

I bet they're secretly electric Humvees or something.

Cars haven't gone up like that since the fifties, pretty much. It's really quite hard to set a car on fire, never mind generate an explosion.

I still miss Izzy and The Opoponax. Maybe they're on Disqus-Slacktivist but I despise Disqus.

It's not just a narrative problem, it's a basic difficulty with the theology. If God is inevitably going to Make Stuff All Right, what does it matter if your neighbour rapes goats under the gibbous moon and listens to that profane Lawrence Welk music? That's all just part of God's plan. The same theology that generates the total lack of narrative tension here is generating a total lack of tension in people's lives, except that their preachers forget about all that stuff and talk about having to fight a Holy War instead.

Nothing good ever comes of talking about a Holy War.

spiritplumber said... This an adjunct to Children of the Goats. Still working on the sidefic for this round, in the meantime, enjoy :)

Cendrillon Jospin is the first person to die during the Millennial Kingdom, you can find some details at (except, you know, LaHaye doesn't tell us WHY she died or HOW).

So I started writing something about that. WARNING: May include Kerbal Space Program references.

Mouse said...

Okay read your little fixfic on Cendrillon. Thought it was pretty touching. Always been a sucker, as a bookworm, for the post-apocalyptic trope or generally stories about people trying to protect the knowledge of the old world from those who just want to destroy the old stuff. It makes me think of that one episode from the sadly short-lived series Jeremiah where Kurdy talks about how to him, libraries are more sacred than churches. Seriously I do not know if you have seen that show, Jeremiah, but if you haven't, you should. Last I checked, both seasons are available for free on Hulu. Go now!

Blank Ron said...

'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.'

I am having a great deal of trouble figuring out how you can go 'undetected' and have a functional, frequently-updated Web site. One might as well go around wearing a neon sign reading 'Ask Us About Our Server!'

Firedrake said...

Blank Ron, just ask the CSI: Cyber scriptwriters; they pull stuff like this every week. It's probably something to do with the Deep Web.