Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Not much of a Man, by the Light of Day, but By Night I'm One Hell of a Lover

Hey guys. Sorry for the lateness of this post, but stuff was going on and everything kept stacking on top of each other. But I'm here now and let's see what I can do with the next chapter of Kingdom Come. I don't know what you've heard, but it seems we're in the middle of a major holiday and often in said holiday, there's a lot going on as people go to visit relatives and such. Plus, the general stress that may make someone less likely to be up to talking about what a Nice Guy™ Kenny-boy is. So there probably won't be a post this weekend and since the weekend after, I'll be visiting relatives, there won't be a post that weekend either. Might try to get something out next week, but I make no guarantees.

As you can tell by the Rocky Horror reference in the post title, I will eventually degenerate into making juvenile "That's what she said" kind of innuendos. Sorry about it. It's out of my hands and in Ellanjay's, unfortunately. :laugh: Though before we get to that bit of fun, we have to go through some other stuff first. And yes, you may interpret my previous line in whatever manner you deem fit, interpret it all night long!

Let's just start by stating the obvious: Kenny is such a Nice Guy™. I really mean it, what with using emotional manipulation, pretending to care about Kat's feelings in hopes of getting close to her, tearing down any guy she has the nerve to like more than him, making her emotionally dependent on him, in hopes of having sex with her. Few guys can claim to be as Nice™ as Kenny Bruce Williams.

On an entirely unrelated note, if I keep communicating solely in brutal sarcasm, will I eventually lose the ability to communicate in any other way? Oh and if I keep rolling my eyes, will they eventually get stuck in that position? Because I wouldn't mind too much, but I keep getting dragged out of the house to associate with other people and they might find it off-putting. Though maybe this is one of those problems that will soon resolve itself. I can only hope.

I FOUND Qasim hilarious,” Ekaterina reported, plopping herself on Kenny’s couch and declining his offer of grapes. “I’m stuffed. He took me to the Valley Bistro, where you had your meeting.”

“Our meeting?”

“Your Millennium Force meeting. Anyway, it was great. Did you just love it? I did. And Qasim was chivalrous, full of stories, talked a mile a minute— in fact, I feel like I’ve just now caught that from him. Have I? Am I just talking incessantly? Stop me if I am. I don’t mean to be. He wants to see me again. I probably will let him, but I didn’t promise.”

Kenny’s mind was whirling. He liked the quiet and shy Kat better, and he hated that she seemed so intrigued by Qasim. But her knowing about the Millennium Force troubled him most.

Again, if you thought I was kidding or exaggerating about all this "Kenny is a Nice Guy™" remarks, I hope this passage was enough to sway you otherwise. I know it's very unlikely that an editor looked at this book, never mind gave it the Red Pen treatment, but sometimes you wonder if there was some material cut, if some brave soul was able to stand up and say, "Y'know Kenny is coming across as kind of insensitive here, you might want to soften it a little?"

Because it barely takes any reading between the lines to discern what Kenny "Nice Guy™" Williams is thinking.

He's clearly thinking "How dare she go out with a guy who asked her out and enjoy his company, even though he isn't me. Because even though I've never actually flat-out asked her out, apparently she's supposed to see through my mind games and realize I want to go out with her. I mean, I've been all nice to her, pretending to be interested in her as a person, rather than a girl with girl parts, so clearly she should reward me by giving me sex."

Again, can anyone honestly say that my exaggeration is really much of an exaggeration at all?

Pro Tip: Nice Guys™ who use the fa├žade of friendship in order to get close to a girl in order to score, aren't really Nice Guys™. They're manipulative leeches and after being around a few, you honestly prefer the "jerks" because at least they are honest. If you're going to be anything, good or bad, at least be honest about what you do and what you are. Because as awful as Neo-Nazis are, you almost appreciate that they are open and honest about the reprehensible things they believe, rather than using the traditional dogwhistles about "welfare queens" and "thugs." Though I will admit, were it not for the fact that the guy is actually going to serve in the highest office in the land, watching all the logical gymnastics as Trump supporters try to explain how his belief that certain religious/ethnic groups are less than human and therefore, don't deserve to have the same rights as everyone else, how that isn't racist, would actually be kind of impressive. You find yourself wondering if there isn't any turd out there that someone isn't willing to try to polish.

Yeah, I'll give you some words from Revelation 3, more specifically verses 14-16:

‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.

Because here's a basic rule, Nice Guys™: people have lives, have thoughts and feelings, apart from you. They do not exist solely for your purpose. So therefore, they :gasp: not have the same feelings as you do and :gasp: :pearlclutch: have every right to say, "No," if they're not interested. Like I keep saying to people in various places online, only an asshole would object to being friendzoned, as in having a friend, aka someone who likes and cares about you and enjoys hanging out with you, but doesn't necessarily want to have sex with you. And of course, stop acting like you deserve a goddanged medal for managing to occasionally display basic human decency.

Okay, that rant went on longer than I thought. Though I am trying to figure out why Kenny so objects to her knowing about the Millies. I didn't really think it was that much of a secret, but that's to be expected, given that Ellanjay have repeatedly proven they have no idea how a resistance group is supposed to work.

Kat is all, “He doesn’t even know we know each other!” And I'm whimpering like Wesley after he was put through the Life suctioner. Because given that everything seems to take place within a few square miles, how exactly does Qasim not know that Kenny and Kat know each other? That and I thought Qasim worked out at the daycare, helping with recreation, and since Kenny and Kat also work at the incredibly poorly-run daycare...:whimpers: Though maybe it's one of the characteristics of someone in the LB-verse: they are incapable of noticing anyone that doesn't have anything they want. So using that logic, you can understand how Kenny, Kat, and Qasim can work together, while somehow being unaware of each others' existence.

Kat also talks about how she wants to join the Millies and be a TOL infiltrator. Kenny is all shocked and appalled by this:

Kenny strode to the window and pulled the drapes apart, letting in the bright moonlight. “I think you’re most valuable and productive right where you are. I mean, I’d rather you were working directly with me, but don’t you feel as if you’re where God wants you?”

Given that Bahira, aka a weak girl with girl parts, is involved with the TOL infiltration, it's abundantly clear that Kenny is objecting not out of fear for Kat's safety, like a decent person would, but because her working with the TOL would pull her away from him and Kenny can't abide anything that pulls Kat away from him. She might :gasp: develop an interest in something besides him.

Oh and sign that Kenny is a true RTC: he brings in God on air support to back him up and give Kat a nice dose of religious guilt to go with all the other guilt she's received at his hands. Like that friend of Anne Lamott said, “You can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”

Yeah, in my headcanon, after all this, Kat proceeds to curbstomp (or dick-stomp) Kenny then give him the finger and walk off to go hang with Qasim, maybe try some positions she saw in the Karma Sutra or something.

But unfortunately, I'm not writing the LB-verse, so the hate-cringefest only continues.

Kat is all, "Hey I was just thinking about it. I haven't decided on anything yet," she and Kenny talk about saving kids from the TOL, and we get this delightful little bit from Kenny:

Kenny sighed. This was Qasim’s fault. He had put everything on the table, proving again that he was a loose cannon, impossible to trust, the quintessentially wrong person for the job. Kenny sat again, picking a handful of grapes from the bunch and swirling them in his palm. “I need to tell you about Qasim, but I don’t want you to take it the wrong way.”

Yes, how dare Qasim be all nice and try to curry to other peoples' feelings, so they'll stop with the emotional cruelty.

Though at the same time, this attitude is somewhat realistic: everyone, including Bullies, hate Toadies. Hence why I keep saying to Qasim, just give those mothereffers the finger and tell them where they can stick their Millie Membership. Because again, telling bullying victims to reshape themselves, so that the Bully will show the most basic of human decency and leave them alone, is really fucking sick. And it's really taken me a lot of willpower to resist using the F-bomb until now.

Because how dare Qasim try to help out the Millies by recruiting someone who might be interested in joining? But then again, Kenny is probably only objecting because Qasim made the offer, thus failing to respect his Authoritah! It's the old Alpha Male mindset that governs the LB-verse.

Hence why I feel the need to steer Ellanjay and other horrible people, towards this article from Reader's Digest: How to be an Alpha Male.

Because despite the stereotypes people have of the Alpha Male wolf, as the posturing, strutting bully, real studies of, y'know, actual wolves out in the wild, have shown that actual Alpha Males, well, I'll just quote from the article because they say it better than me:

“The main characteristic of an alpha male wolf,” the veteran wolf researcher Rick McIntyre told me as we were watching gray wolves, “is a quiet confidence, quiet self-assurance. You know what you need to do; you know what’s best for your pack. You lead by example. You’re very comfortable with that. You have a calming effect.”

The point is, alpha males are not aggressive. They don’t need to be. “Think of an emotionally secure man or a great champion. Whatever he needed to prove is already proven,” he said.

That's the basic gist of the article. The Alpha Male may fiercely defend his pack from outside threats and may play a key role in bringing down game, but when it comes to his own pack, he leads by example and sometimes, he'll let the rest of the pack feast before him, because part of being a good leader isn't making sure everyone kowtows to you: it's taking care of the people around you. The Alpha Male feels no need to constantly assert that he is strong and powerful; he knows he is and goes from there. Though studies of wolf packs have indicated that it might be the matriarch who has the real power in the pack, making decisions regarding where to travel and when to hunt.

I could go on happily talking about wolves, but probably ought to get back to the book. I haven't even made it through the first section, that's how wordy and ranty I'm being. So once more unto the breach, as Shakespeare would say.

Kenny-boy displays the smallest sliver of decency by admitting to Kat that all his "brotherly" warnings about Qasim, may in fact be born out of jealousy and he wanted her "attention," which I take to mean, "He wants to get laid and since he's devoted all this time to her and she's a girl with girl parts, he's like 'Let's do it already.'" Because no one in the LB-verse can just have premarital sex and pray for forgiveness afterwards.

But then again, like I've said before, whenever a scandal dethrones someone on the Christian Right, it's always about sex. The Christian Right is willing to forgive a lot, but not if sex is involved. Even if one of their own was a modern-day Jack the Ripper, they would probably be willing to let that slide, so long as he wasn't :gasp: having sex with the prostitutes he brutally murdered.

There's a bit with Kenny and some grapes that I guess is supposed to be cute, but given all the creepiness that came before, it has no hope of changing the dim view I have of Kenny.

Once they were both seated again and Kenny felt the color receding from his face, Ekaterina reached for his hand. He wiped it on his pants to be sure it wasn’t sticky with grape juice and extended it. No one but his parents had ever held his hand.

“Now, you’re going to tell me about Qasim. And then I’m going to tell you how innocently I view him regardless. And then we’re going to tell each other why we’re so interested in each other’s attention.”

Minor quibble first: it took me a while to figure out who was saying the last line. You don't have to provide a tag to every line of dialogue (pro tip: generally "said" works just fine most of the time.), but every now and then, even if said conversation is just between two people, provide us with some kind of tag. Doesn't have to necessarily be "Kenny said" or anything like that. It could be an action like "Kenny masturbated furvitely (but not fervently because that would be sick and wrong)" or something like that.

It's especially needed with the last bit of dialogue, because given that the previous paragraph and the chapter in general, has been told from Kenny's POV, I thought that maybe the dialogue was Kenny's. But then I remembered Ellanjay's rampant sexism combined with their tin ear for dialogue, I'm wondering if the last line was meant to be Kat's. I'm still suffering hemorrhages trying to work out who's speaking there.

Though yeah, Kenny I really believe that your hands would be sticky from grape juice and not...OW! Okay, I'll try to cut back on the creepy sex stuff. I can't stop entirely, because Ellanjay won't let me, but I'll try, just so I won't be irritating as hell.

For those of you wondering, the conversation about Qasim occurs later in the chapter and it really is as tooth-grindingly awful as you think it's going to be, maybe even more. So though I know nobody about me cares about my League of Awesome head-canon, I'm just going to call it and say that Qasim is in. Maybe later I'll change my mind, but right now, I really feel for the guy. Everyone just keeps treating him like shit for no real reason. He's been nothing but a basic decent person and they just dump on him for it.

Conversation between Rayford and Chloe about how Noah is coming to give a talk. Nothing really happens. What does it say about me that I almost look forward to the stuff with Rayford because right now, I find it less creepy and awful than the stuff with Kenny-boy and Creepy Raymie. Speaking of, now we cut to the part where Kat and Kenny talk shit about Qasim.

Kenny searched himself for any ill motive in telling Ekaterina his misgivings about Qasim. She fell silent and seemed to cloud over as he spoke.

Yeah, I bet you really spent a ton of time in thought about this. Kenny, you know how people use the expression, "Lying makes the Baby Jesus cry?" This is the type of lying that makes the Baby Jesus go for his shotgun.

Kat asks how Kenny feels about Qasim's spiritual state. And here's Kenny's response:

“I don’t know what to think. Raymie is dubious because Qasim’s conversion story is so cut-and-dried. And he doesn’t seem to have been successful in ministering to kids at COT— actually leading them to Jesus, I mean— despite all the years he’s worked there.”

Ah, that old trend in the RTC subculture where you can't have your conversion story be, "Well, I was raised in a specific church/faith and never really knew anything else and due in large part to societal/family-related pressure, I walked up to the altar and accepted Jesus into my heart because that's what was expected of me and from there, my religious life has mostly been a series of crests and troughs where there are times in which I am really devoted to my faith and times in which I'm distracted by other concerns."

No, to have a proper RTC conversion story, it must go something along the lines of, "I expressed an interest and dabbled in faiths outside the Judeo-Christian tradition, displayed a basic level of rebellion by going to parties or worse, looking at pictures of girls without their clothes on and drinking alcohol." Though bonus points if you really rev it up, talk about how you used to chop up prostitutes and feed them to dogs, all in worship of the great lord, Satan, and hope that even though you are basically flat-out confessing to murder, a crime that has no statute of limitations, no one notices how the police don't bother taking a look at you.

And apparently Qasim slips away when there's real work to be done, outside of playing with the kids. This slur against him feels really rich, given the continual laziness displayed by the authors. It always seems to be Projection on the Right. Maybe it's comforting for them, assuming that everyone is just as awful as they are, but it sucks for everyone else. And again, if I was Qasim, I'd look for any opportunity to get away from them for a few hours, until I can find a way to make a more permanent escape.

We cut back to Rayford briefly. Apparently Zod feels the Egyptians have done the requisite amount of "We deserve this and we're sorry for making you so angry in the first place," prayers and have brought back the water. Woo-hoo. :sarcastic clapping:

And now we cut back to Kenny and Kat. In an addition to try to pry a truffle from a pig's snout, I will say that this next section is less dumping on a guy who has done nothing to warrant it and more the kind of stuff that makes a drooling pervert like me go nuts. I know, I swore I would cut back, but again, I'm not made of stone!

“All right,” Ekaterina said slowly, “I have lost my enthusiasm for the unique personality of Qasim Marid. I suppose I know what to say when he asks to take me out again. But whatever will I do with my spare time now?”

“I have some ideas,” Kenny said, smiling.

"I don't know," Kat said. "I'm getting really tired of doing it doggie-style. Can we try wheelbarrow style, just to liven things up a bit?"

OW! Well if any of my readers object to the cheap and obvious joke, just take comfort I have yet another thing in Internet search history that I hope to never be called upon to explain. I keep praying desperately that the "I'm a writer. I swear to God, I'm not a terrorist or a pervert or both," defense still counts as a valid one, given how paranoid everyone is and how draconian our justice system has become. Because I have yet to meet a writer worth his/her salt, who didn't have a search history that would not only cause a blue-haired schoolmarm to swoon, it would put her in a permanent swoon-induced coma.

I am really sorry for the juvenile jokes that will make up the ending of this snark, but it is really damn difficult to avoid making The Todd-style comments to this dialogue between Kat and Kenny. Again, writers of Christian Fiction™ could really stand to shell out a few bucks to have a drooling pervert, such as myself, go over their manuscript for anything that could make for all kinds of unintentional humor, just as if I'm going to keep using the trademark symbol, I could stand to learn how to do it with my keyboard so I don't have just keep copying and pasting it over and over.

Kenny took her elbow as they walked. “I was struck from the first by your obvious passion for the Lord,” he said.

“Me too,” she said. “I mean about you.”

Yeah, that's what you were really struck by. You certainly didn't notice her Huge Tracts of Land or how limber she is.

“It’s something I have to work on,” he said. “How bad is that? I’m living in the millennial kingdom with Jesus right here on the throne and ever-present, and still I struggle with the flesh.”

“We’re not in heaven yet. The glorified-mind-and-body people seem to have no distractions to their devotion.”

"Since we're not Glorified, how about we go to your apartment where we can spend a good evening, struggling with each other's flesh."

“Ignore you? If you were infatuated, I don’t know what to call what I was. What I am. I just know I want to spend a lot more time with you, Kat. I want to really get to know you.”

“Well,” she said, gazing at him, “it seems we have plenty of time for that. For one thing, I am going to be putting in for a transfer to a more direct-ministry-oriented department. I mean, I like rec and I’ve had my ministry opportunities. But I’d feel more comfortable now in an area that doesn’t have Qasim in it.”

“It’s unlikely my parents would put you in my area. My mother was on to us from the first day.”

“Oh, how embarrassing! It showed?”

“According to her.”

"Maybe my wardrobe shouldn't be just skintight jeans and leather."

OW! I'm sorry, but I am really having a difficult time restraining my perverted self. Because even in context, it's hard to interpret "Oh, how embarrassing! It showed?" without going to all kinds of...well let's just say it involves Kenny's area and stop there.

Though Kat's next line makes me feel a eensy-weensy bit guilty for all the innuendo.

“Mothers know these things. But I want to learn from you how to make reaching these kids an everyday thing.”

Since in this case, she's talking about kids, it would be kind of wrong for me to infer anything about that. But for the few of you who haven't tired of me making dirty jokes and cackling about afterwards, I'll give you the last few lines of this chapter.

“Well,” Kenny said, “if our relationship is going to be educational, we ought to start on the way to work tomorrow, wouldn’t you say?”

“Just tell me when to be ready, Professor Williams.”

Yeah, the question isn't whether or not my face is red and I'm making Beavis and Butthead-style laughter; the question is, "Will I ever stop?" This may make the upcoming family get-together awkward especially since, well, my cousins have had a few kids. The eldest is about eight, the youngest is three. Any advice? Because little pitchers have big ears and I heard cold showers don't actually work and...fine, I'll mace myself on my way out.

Merry Christmas everybody and just in case I don't post next week, Happy New Year! Hope everyone gets what they want and stays out of trouble. Me, I may find myself on some kind of watchlist.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

I've Seen the Movie and It's Surprisingly Decent

Hey guys!

I have finally seen Vanished: Left Behind--The Next Generation. I had planned on putting a short little review at the beginning, then leaping back into Kingdom Come, but I wound up having more to say. So this week, we're going to take a break from talking about what a Nice Guy™ Kenny-boy is and talk about the movie. Spoilers ahead for anyone who cares about this sort of thing.

First of all, a thank you to Firedrake for making it so I could watch Vanished: Left Behind-the Next Generation. I don't know how you gained access to it, but I'm not judging in the slightest. I'll assume you know a guy who knows a guy and leave it at that.

But now, I find myself at a loss. Y'see I had planned on reviewing said movie at some point on this blog, planned on being all snarky and tearing it a new one like I normally do, but the movie...It was actually kind of decent.

Oh, will you people put down your torches and pitchforks and listen for a bit! Why do you even have those? Maglites are way more practical and given that few, if any of us, work with hay, I can't figure out why you would need a pitchfork in the first place!

Don't get me wrong: I still think the Left Behind series is a repugnant series guided by a repugnant philosophy and written by repugnant people. But I had repeatedly said that no matter what, however bad the movie may be, it will still be better than the books. And it was. Sometimes even if you don't agree with the philosophy of a film, you can still get drawn into the power and resonance of the story. I cite as example, the eighties Red Dawn. Yeah, it's cheesy and the people involved were paranoid and legally insane by any definition of the word, but at the same time, there is some emotional power to be drawn from it. You really do believe the teens are cold, hungry, and afraid, even if you can point out about a million flaws in their military strategy and in the communists. The people involved were insane, but at the same time, they did really believe in their story, put forth all their effort into creating a compelling film. Which makes it so much better than the remake with Chris Hemsworth, which was a soulless "Let's cash in on Eighties nostalgia" project from beginning to end. Plus, in the original, the Soviet Union invading had a degree of plausibility. It wasn't a lot, but it was a degree, unlike the remake which has freakin' North Korea as the bad guys. Maybe if Chris Hemsworth had been shirtless from beginning to end, I would view the remake a lot more positively, but since he wasn't...

Anyway, I had planned on making some crack about how Vanished had some actual money behind it, which enabled them to actually produce a better, more aesthetically pleasing film than the Kirk Cameron Left Behind, but then I looked it up. Vanished was made on an estimated budget of $2 million dollars, while Kirk Cameron's was made on a budget of $4 million, which boggles my mind, because Vanished actually looks much more polished and sleeker than Left Behind. It is still low-budget, but it doesn't scream it the way Left Behind does. Of course, now I wonder how much of Left Behind's $4 millions went towards paying Kirk Cameron's salary.

And of course, another reason Vanished is actually kind of decent: the main cast actually has some acting chops, unlike Left Behind, where only Brad Johnson and Clarence Gilyard were putting forth any effort. Yeah, it was basic acting 101, but in trying as best as they can to flesh out the limited characters they were given, it makes Rayford's scenes and Bruce's scenes easier to watch. Because Kirk Cameron couldn't act like he was falling off a cliff if you physically shoved him off of one. He would just smug his way down until he hit the ground, leaving a smug-shaped impression in the earth.

But again, the cast is surprisingly decent. Mason Dye and Dylan Sprayberry had worked together on Teen Wolf, so they play nicely off one another. The actress who plays the protagonist, Amber Frank, her most notable role was on a Nickelodeon teen sitcom, but she handle herself quite well. And I was kind of impressed with the actress, Keely Wilson, playing her younger sister. Because few things are worse than bad child stars and Christian films usually have the worst, but Keely Wilson actually did a decent job, didn't fall into the "mugging for the camera" trap that befalls so many child actors, like the kid who played Raymie Steele in the version with Kirk Cameron.

No matter what happens, the main cast keep their reactions grounded in reality and well, their reactions feel genuine. They actually react like kids would in the situation and don't just do things so the plot will move along. Plus again, the characters did show more sense than anyone in the Adult books or the For Kids! books. When the shit has hit the fan in that spectacular a fashion, GTFO. Get the hell out of Dodge and try to track down someone who might be able to help you.

Of course, a large reason the movie works is because for the most part, it strays away from the rigid template of the books. It focuses its attentions primarily on the Rapture and the effect it would have. The books were in such a hurry to lay out the rise of Nicolae, that they fast-forwarded through the whole, y'know, Every Child on Earth is Missing! bit. The movie does make some nods towards the books. On their way out of the city, they stop by a church run by Bruce Barnes, who gives them a USB key with Vernon Billings's "In Case of Rapture video," and clips from said video are shown, and Nicolae Carpathia makes his appearance in the last few minutes, but for the most part, it does its own thing, focuses on the protagonist and how she and her friends are confused and scared.

I'm not saying the movie doesn't have its faults. Obviously to really capture what would happen in the wake of the Rapture, it should be a lot closer in tone to Children of Men, which constantly drives home the misery and suffering inherent in a world that has no hope. I also would have liked some more development with the Doomsday Prepper-guy. The actor playing him, Tom Everett Scott, did a good job playing him, managing to convey some twitchy, off-kilter aspects even before he was revealed to be crazy, but I still think there should have been more build-up, before the guy revealed himself to be all Ax Crazy. Felt like more could have been done with it, with Gaby and her friends noticing the strained "Everything's Okay" atmosphere and how people keep "running off" and maybe those guys with guns aren't there to just protect them from outside marauders. I was also a bit confused by the whole "He was keeping Gaby's father hostage" twist. Where exactly was Doomsday Prepper keeping him, before Gaby spied on his guys? It looked to be an adjourning property, but we never really saw Doomsday Prepper doing anything over there. It seemed like his security was doing most of the villainy, while he was unaware, so I was a bit confused by the revelation.

Though as something of a Doomsday Preppers buff, I was kind of impressed with his set-up. Too many of the people on NatGeo's show, you're like, "Boys and their toys." Because yeah, you've got plenty of canned goods and bullets, but all that doesn't mean much of anything, if you don't have a resupply plan and you can only get so far with the "Shoot up your neighbors and take their stuff" resupply plan. If any of the whole Doomsday, End-of-Civilization scenarios come to pass, the people who will survive, are the ones with skills, the ones who know how to garden and build things with a minimal need for power-tools or other stuff tied to the grid. And of course, what would happen, is people banding together in collective tribes. Occasionally, said tribes might for some kind of loose Iroquois Confederation, where they let each other do their own thing, live how they see fit, unless it intrudes upon the lives of others, but still work together against shared enemies.

So that in mind, I was a little impressed with the guy's setup. He does have guns, but they aren't just Assault Weapons that serve no real purpose except to take as many human lives as possible; they are more the kind of weapons to be used to hunt wild game, aka the kind you that would be most useful at the End of the World. Because in addition to serving no real purpose except to kill as many people within a short interval as possible, assault weapons are also fussy weapons with quite a few specialized moving parts that make it more prone to jamming and harder to find replacements for.

Also the dude had a hydroponic set-up, which was kind of nice. Though while hydroponics is cool, me, I always thought that aquaponics is an even cooler idea, though I suppose only a geek like me would care about that sort of thing, and it was probably too much to expect the movie to go into details on permaculture. Though again, even though the guy turned out to be crazy as heck, characters still demonstrated a lot more sense than anyone in the books. In a crisis situation, you'd understand why the characters would flock desperately to this guy; when everything's gone to hell, yeah, it'd probably make sense to hook up with a Doomsday Prepper. And of course, they are kids; however much teenagers may consider themselves adults, when a crisis happens, they become kids again, desperately hoping that someone older and wiser knows what's going on and will set everything right again.

Heck, even the "Accept Jesus" parts feel a lot less obnoxious. In the books, it's totally spell-casting where it doesn't matter if you believe in God; what matters is if you say The Prayer with the precise amount of sincerity demanded. And again, another one of its strengths is that the characters don't immediately leap to "God did it!" but consider some scenarios like bioterrorism or alien abductions, both of which would be pretty out there, but when every kid on Earth below a certain age is gone, yeah, you're going to start considering those kinds of scenarios. So the fact they didn't act like they had read the book jacket and knew exactly what was going on, also gave the film some strength.

Though again, given the strengths of the main story, you actually do find yourself going, "Dang it!" when they pause to put something in from the actual books. Though I will say even though we got only one scene with Bruce Barnes, I did like him so much more than his book counterpart. The people involved were smart enough to realize that in the wake of such a catastrophe, people aren't going to wait until Sunday rolls around to start flocking into church. Major event happens and everyone seeks comfort. Though we don't hear Bruce's tale of woe or see much of him at all, what little we do see, already makes him a more appealing character than his book counterpart. In the wake of the Rapture, he's gotten out food, bottled water, and other supplies, and gotten the people gathered to get to work distributing it. He's also got a basket full of USB keys to hand out to people explaining what had happened. Which again, proves he has more compassion and better leadership skills than his book counterpart.

If you're wondering about how Randy LaHaye, Tim's grandson, did as Nicolae Carpathia, well, he doesn't appear or do anything until the last few minutes, when he gives a speech seen via electronic billboard, so I can't really make any judgments on how he did. But he does do a decent job with what he's given, though a large reason is that the writers knew that having Nicolae recite a bunch of facts isn't stirring oratory. It is standard politician "We will rebuild" speech, but it's more believable that the characters would follow that. And according to IMDB, Randy LaHaye has acted before, mostly in bit parts, so he may not have solely gotten the part based on nepotism.

Reading the trivia section on Vanished, Randy LaHaye does seem to genuinely believe the message of his film and actually cared about creating a decent product. No matter how much Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins may claim otherwise, we all know that the Left Behind books and by extension, the movies were created to serve as revenge porn for RTCs, rather than as tools for evangelizing. The trivia lends credence to the idea that this project was a labor of love for him and again, while you may not support the dumb-assed convoluted PMD beliefs, again, there's something to be said for the people involved putting forth actual effort and passion into their work.

Though one of the trivia bits has this:

His grandfather, Tim LaHaye was able to see a screening of Vanished before his death where he responded positively: "One of the proudest moments of my life was when my grandfather saw the movie and told me afterwards, "Finally, there's a movie about Left Behind that captured what made the books so successful."" Randy also revealed that the working titles of the next two movies were "Rise of the Deceiver" and "The Rebellion Awakens". He stated that the first sequel was planned to begin filming in 2017.

It's touching, but I am wondering if Tim LaHaye had gone a little senile towards the end. Because a large reason why Vanished works is because, like I said, they follow the books very loosely. And I have to say, the trivia does provide a handy out as to why Nicolae doesn't have a Romanian accent.

When asked why his portrayal of Nicolae doesn't have a Romanian accent, Randy explained that they have given the Antichrist the supernatural ability to cause those who listen to hear him in their own native language. This is the reason why Nicolae sounds American to the American characters in the film. This power is not directly brought up in Vanished, but will be an element explored in future sequels.

It's an out, but it's one that actually make sense. Because sometimes laziness, if done properly, pays off. The whole concept behind X-Men came about out of sheer laziness. Stan Lee was tired of inventing reasons for why his characters have powers, so he just threw up his arms and said, "They're mutants, that's why!" Again, lazy, but it had unexpected metaphorical payoffs and basically gave the writers the ability to create infinite numbers of characters without having to explain their backstories too much, because it was interwoven into the universe.

And I must admit, however shallow it may be, Randy LaHaye is actually quite easy on the eyes. Not Chris Hemsworth-level, but still.

Regarding those sequels mentioned, if they ever came to pass, unlike the sequels John Travolta promised to Battlefield Earth, I might actually be willing to watch them. Though I'm not sure how long they can keep up the "It's a surprisingly decent, resonating film despite being adapted from terrible books" bit up. Future sequels may force them to follow the events of the books more carefully and like I said, one of the strengths of the movie was that it barely touched on book stuff: just had the rapture happened and went from there.

I do hope they don't draw out the love triangle between Gaby and the two dudes, Josh and Flynn. It is a trope I'm getting tired of in YA fiction: the love triangle. I won't bring up the Twilight series, because that series was just a mess, but I thought it somewhat worked in The Hunger Games trilogy. I saw the triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale, more because however much Katniss may like Peeta, she didn't like the idea of being forced to marry him, having the choice forever taken from her, in order to keep her family alive. So she rebels, drawing closer to Gale, as means of asserting her will. The series had its flaws, especially in the last book, but for the most part, The Hunger Games series is a decent read.

But it's a danger with love triangles: draw them out too long and the heroine (it's usually a heroine at the center of these) comes across as a flaky mean-spirited idiot who enjoys toying with the feelings of others, and the guys come across as complete dopes for continuing to crush on her. Vanished mostly kept the Love Triangle thing on the wayside, realized that Gaby has more important stuff to worry about than her sex life.

Anyway, tl;dr, while Vanished is hardly Casablanca level in greatness, it is a decent film that does manage to have some kind of emotional resonance. Don't know if I would pay theatre-level prices for it, but if you want to rent it on Amazon, it might be worth your time.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Nice Guys™ Should Finish Last

All right, I'm here.

This may come as a shock to the people who read my blog, but I have a passionate, obsessive enthusiasm for movies and TV shows. I know, it's really hard to believe.

Anyway, I see something I really enjoy, well, I'm one of those insane types who has to fight the urge to dress up and go door to door being all, "Have you heard of Heavenly Creatures? It was Kate Winslet's first film role and it convinced the studios that maybe Peter Jackson could do a damn good job directing the Lord of the Rings trilogy." Though for the record, most of the time when I want to evangelize, it's when said product is good, but few outside a small following, have heard of it. So you'll be happy to know I don't do that for the Marvel Cinematic Universe; it's clearly doing fine and doesn't need my evangelizing. The DCAU on the other hand...yeah, it is kind of sad how unless I'm in the presence of animation buffs, I can't talk about how Kevin Conroy is the best Batman and Heath Ledger may be a great Joker, but Mark Hamill blows him out of the water every time.

But anyway, my faithful blog readers have noticed how I have made repeated references to the Swing Kids rebellion of Nazi Germany. Well, I finally got around to seeing the movie about it called Swing Kids. It came out in 1993 and received generally negative reviews, but I thought it was pretty danged cool. It starts out as being almost like Footloose, what with those crazy kids and their love of dancing and that crazy new music, going up against the crusty old adults who just don't understand, but given that in this story, the crusty adults are freaking Nazis, things escalate fairly quickly from there.

As Wikipedia and I keep telling you, the Swing Kids experienced actual suffering for liking that crazy music; many wound up in concentration camps or were forcibly drafted into the military. I suppose what the Swing Kids experienced in no way compares to the sufferings of other rebellious movements like the Free France or the White Rose and it certainly doesn't come close to what the Jews experienced at the hands of the Nazis, but again, there are times in which you've got to cross your arms and say, "No." Regardless of how much societal pressure, it is always better to die on your feet, rather than live on your knees. And of course, when the Nazis are doing everything they can to stamp out degenerate art and music, it becomes even more important to hold onto said music.

Though again, like I keep saying, while we can point to plenty of examples of tyrannical governments based on a religious ideology, I can't really think of any based on hedonism. Can't think of any government that took over, then was immediately like, "You will have and enjoy sexual intercourse for purposes other than reproduction!" or "You will burn your collection of Pat Boone CDs and Christian Rock CDs, or be sent to a concentration camp!" As said before, hedonists don't really mind if you're not into the same things they are. Hedonists would be like, "Yeah, you can spend your days singing praises to Jesus, but I'm going out to have some real fun." They don't like the same things as fundamentalists or RTCs, but they don't try to outlaw, ban, or do anything to keep said fundamentalists from enjoying what they like.

The same cannot be said about fundamentalists or RTCs, who, like I've said before and will say again, for them, it's not enough to practice their faith in whatever manner they see fit and shut up about it. Their poisonous egos cause them to feel that they can't be properly holy, wear their ankle-length skirts and enjoy whatever entertainment their pastor deems worthy, so long as there are other people in the world flashing their sinful ankles and enjoying music that :gasp: actually acknowledges the reality of human emotions and isn't just, "Na-Na, Jesus is great."

Of course, there is hazards to a life of excessive pleasure, but there are hazards to any form of excess, including being so obsessed with being holy and following the rules that you lose sight of what said rules were meant to do in the first place and instead, spend your days scowling about all those heathens, how they're having fun now, but they'll eventually pay for it. I'm fairly certain Jesus spent a lot of time talking about the dangers of that form of excess; the gospels have him constantly laying into the Pharisees about the sin I've pointed out. I'm with Fred, who in one of my favorite LB posts said: "Sin boldly. Better to be a crack addict chasing a counterfeit of the pearl of great price than to be chasing nothing at all."

It's like me and my affection for Coulda Been Contenders. Even though they may have fallen short and failed to accomplish what they set out to do, I have more respect and affection for them, because they did actually try. They may have failed, but there's some nobility in how they tried.

Sorry, sorry. I swear I didn't plan to talk so damn much, but really there isn't a lot this week. There's usually not a lot every week, but this week...however much I criticize A Separate Peace for trying to stretch out a short story's worth of material into a novel, at least there I could entertain myself by shouting at the protagonists, "Will you two just fuck already?!"

The chapter begins with a few paragraphs with Yasmine and Abdullah talking to each other about Abdullah's plans to try to infiltrate the TOL. It gets revisited later on in the chapter when he visits Zeke and Zeke basically says, "I can't make you look like you're under one hundred." Yeah, it is really that dull. I could talk about how the TOL, with the exception of that one rapist dude, isn't really interfering at all with the day-to-day lives of RTCs and really, the RTCs are acting more tyrannical, trying to do everything they can to keep them from living their lives as they see fit, arresting them for have nightclubs where they dance and enjoy alcohol. I know I've already ranted about this, but I haven't really heard anything about the TOL sending spies to bring down the RTC movement from within.

Next part is a discussion between Kenny-boy and Kat. This thread in the chapter is admittedly more interesting, because I can dust off all my rants and links about Nice Guys™. Because Kenny is such a Nice Guy™. Just look at this conversation between him and Kat after she tells him that she's going on a date with Qasim.

“See you? As in go out with you?”

She nodded. “And I agreed.”

“What? Tell me you didn’t!”

“Kenny! What’s the matter? I didn’t want to be rude. He just wants to take me to dinner Friday night. What can be the harm? You know him better than I. Is there some reason I should not accept an invitation from a brother?”

A brother? Kenny wasn’t so sure. Raymie was suspicious of Qasim, and his personality grated on Kenny. But that wasn’t enough to make him bad-mouth the guy to Ekaterina. Kenny knew full well why he had a problem with Qasim’s interest in Kat. He had merely beaten Kenny to the punch.

“Well?” she said. “No warnings? No dire stories?”

Kenny shook his head. He wanted to blurt out that he cared for her and would rather date her himself, but it was too late. He had missed his window of opportunity. He would look jealous and desperate. Would he have to compete with Qasim to see her at all now?

Yeah, Kenny may not be using the exact same lingo as Nice Guys™, but he definitely shares the same mindset and aggrieved tone of one. Because apparently Kat is supposed to instinctively recognize that he wants to get in her pants without him saying so, and give him what he wants, because he's spent all this time pretending to listen to her and care about her thoughts and feelings. Because everyone knows that women are machines and if you put enough niceness coins in them, sex is supposed to come out.

Kenny is shocked, shocked that for all the time he devoted to emotional manipulation, Kat has the nerve to go out with someone who actually asked her out and displayed open, honest interest in her. All right, I'll post one last webcomic link and move on. No points for guessing which character Kenny is in the comic.

Chloe and Cam-Cam are about to sit down to a dinner of fresh fruit. Once again, I roll my eyes, because good lord, they didn't even try to make the all vegetarian diet sound attractive, at all. Even though, I'm fairly certain that while meat is off the table, there are still such things as spices around. Heck, even the Raw Foodists can slap together some appetizing-sounding recipes. I have no intention of starting an all Raw Food diet, but still, I think I've made my point and again, Ellanjay keep undermining their own case.

Because I'm going to provide you with side-by-side lists in order to compare the RTCs and TOL.

The RTCs' Activities in Heaven

Eating steaming piles of fresh produce

Spending their days working a slightly different version of the 9-5 rat race of our world.

No sex whatsoever.

As for leisure activities, they consist of singing hymns (and you know they're the banal praise choruses of modern Christian music, rather than Handel or Bach or anybody good) and dourly looking down on anyone different from them. That and of course, smiling with glee when Zod chooses to Exterminate All the Brutes.

TOL's Activities in Heaven

Rocking out to music with an actual beat

Enjoying alcohol and other intoxicating substances without any of the hazards of our world.

Going to nightclubs to dance to said music and partake of said intoxicants

Having all kinds of sex because they do not have to worry about STDs in Heaven

Leisure activities include generally enjoying Heaven, leaving the RTCs alone, and :gasp: saying things like a tyrannical deity who tortures people horribly for believing slightly different things and a Christian Taliban-like organization, may actually be horrible.

So yeah, it's not too surprising whose side is making a better case.

Anyway, Yerik, that priest guy from before, shows up to talk to Cam-Cam and Chloe. And he says that Noah has expressed his willingness to talk to the kids at their poorly-run daycare. I think it's safe to assume that the Noah in question is the flood guy, not the one mentioned in Numbers 27. Like I keep saying, it pays to know some of the more obscure parts of the Bible. .

Yerik tells Cam-Cam and Chloe, Noah's stipulations for this appearance:

“Just so you’re aware, he’ll be here alone. He will require nothing. No food, no drink, no introduction. And while there may be no way to preclude this, neither is he comfortable with praise. No doubt the children will want to cheer him, but there’s no need to encourage it. And as for drawing a large crowd, allow me to ask you, sir: have you already thought of whom you might inform as soon as I leave?”

:grins wickedly: If Noah isn't comfortable with praise, would he be comfortable with bringing up Genesis, chapter nine, verses twenty to the end? I could also bring up how that passage was used to justify Slavery and Jim Crow, even though isn't it really more Noah's fault for getting drunk and passing out naked? But because one of his kids saw his daddy's pecker, that means millions of people who never met or knew him, have to suffer horribly for his offense. Because that was how they justified it: Black people were the descendants of Ham, so they must forever serve White People.

Yeah, like I keep saying, I would get kicked out of that daycare so fast. Again, it pays to know some of the more obscure passages of the Bible.

Next section is about Rayford and his merry band doing stuff in Egypt. I'm going to post the entire passage, because I believe in spreading the pain around.

News of the new name of Egypt spread quickly through that nation, and as Rayford, Irene, Chaim, Tsion, Mac, Bruce, and his wife visited the various cities, the people would cry out, “Long live Osaze, ‘loved by God,’ and long live our King, the Lord Christ!”

But after one of the team preached and young people under one hundred streamed forward to commit their lives to Christ, someone was always bound to demand to know when God would lift His curse.

“That is up to you!” Bruce or Tsion would boom. “We believe the Lord is waiting to bless repentant hearts and minds and spirits.”

“But we have seen our sin and confessed!” the people would yell. “And ours was a sin of omission! We allowed others to sway us, but we did not choose to oppose the Lord!”

Rayford’s team never left an area without constructing, developing, advising, counseling, and even initiating technological advances. But even Rayford himself wondered how long it would be before God lifted His hand of discipline from the land.

Oy...I'm actually grateful that they told this in mostly summary. Yeah, it's lazy as heck, but just think of how much worse this passage would have been like, if they had put in more. Because you can just hear Rayford, in a whiny, aggrieved tone, being like, "Ugh...what is with these people, what with their constant demands for water? They just won't shut up about it. It's like they think it's one of the basic necessities of life that people won't survive long without. Why can't they spend a few more hours praising Jesus, instead of such frivolities as doing whatever you can to collect and treat whatever water there is to be found, running their urine through various filters to purify it, and dying horribly? And would it hurt for them to bathe or take a shower? They smell terrible. These people are so damn insensitive to the suffering of others."

Like I keep saying, I freely admit to exaggerating for comedic effect, but can you really say I'm too over-the-top here?

Though I will say again: why haven't the Egyptians just gotten the hell out? Because the borders of country are determined politics or natural features; it's not like those lines on maps represent alligator-filled moats. It would majorly suck, being a refugee, but when your options are A) stay where you are and die a horrible death or B) Undertake a dangerous journey and possibly survive, can you blame most people for choosing Option B?

Given that the Christian faith centers around a child raised by a couple of Palestinian Jews who traveled ninety miles from their homeland at the behest of their government, with one of them nine months pregnant while on this journey (artwork depicts Mary as riding a donkey, but in all likelihood, she would have walked like Joseph)*, and later, had to flee again to Egypt to escape a genocide, you'd think Ellanjay would be a bit more sensitive to the plight of refugees.

Anyway, there really isn't much more to this chapter. Creepy Raymie tells Kenny about how Noah is going to visit, Zeke tells Abdullah that he can't make him look younger, Cam-Cam and Chloe talk about nothing, and Kenny continues to give off Nice Guy™ vibes. Yeah, I think the most irritating aspect of that phenomenon is the aggrieved tone and the sense of entitlement. Apparently they feel they deserve a god-danged medal for doing the bare minimum needed to qualify as a decent human being.

For the record, I read the next chapter and yeah, no matter how they try to polish that turd, make Kenny's interactions with Kat seem all cute and emblematic of young love, it never stops being creepy or reeking of the Nice Guy™ phenomenon. Seriously, Qasim, just give these guys the middle finger and take off. Stop trying to kowtow to a bunch of bullies and make them like you. I've said it before and I'll keep saying it: the message that bullied kids should just completely reshape themselves, so as to get bullies to leave them alone and stop the emotional cruelty, is really sick. There is never a reason to bully someone, even if you wouldn't be surprised if that kid didn't have 666 tattooed on their scalp. You don't like someone, just leave them the hell alone, go out and live your life.

*And again, the journey...even if one of them wasn't pregnant, it would still be rough. Very few of the roads would be paved, forcing them to travel over some very rough terrain, and it wasn't like today where there's a gas station at every exit, so travelers would have to figure out how they are going to eat and sleep on this journey.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

There Are Always Men Like You

Hey guys! Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving, even my British posters who don't celebrate the holiday. Let's shake off our food comas and get to tearing Kingdom Come a new one.

Though I'd warn you that this post gets into some dark discussions about abuse, especially towards the end. Those of you with issues, feel free to bow out.

Our opening bit...I know you get tired of me reiterating the point that every character, no matter what their rank in the hierarchy or whether are Good or Evil, recognizes the inherent superiority of Buck and Rayford, but dammit, they keep forcing me to do so.

WITHOUT SO MUCH as a call or an official invitation, Rayford Steele’s small band entered the Egyptian parliament building that had been rebuilt in Cairo during the first year of the millennial kingdom. Whatever had been going on, the entire place fell mute, and all heads turned to watch the men approach the dais.

The man presiding immediately said, “We’ve been expecting you,” and several members of the government stood to applaud. Others glared at them until the ovation petered out.

I'm seriously starting to wonder if RTCianity should be referred as Rayfordianity and its followers called Rayfordites. Because people suffering massively because Zod took away all the water, know to recognize the greatness of Rayford. After all, he is known worldwide for bravely flying Nicky around the world and occasionally thinking disdainful, but not too disdainful, thoughts in Nicky's general direction.

Yeah, Firedrake's fan theory about the LB-verse all being a dream created by Rayford...Normally I object to "It was all a dream" endings because so often, they are complete and total copouts, but in this case, it would actually explain so much. All the inconsistencies would be easily explained and can you honestly admit that you don't find the idea that this is a the dream of a Misogynistic RTC Pilot dozing while on the job to make so much sense? In this dream world, he is the single most greatest human being there ever was, as opposed to the real world where he is a greying sky bus driver facing continuous mockery from his kids who stubbornly refuse to be like he was, perfect in every way.

Though to be fair, some of them do recognize Chaim, hailing him as Micah. But Token Jew isn't happy.

Rayford had seen Tsion Ben-Judah in countless situations, but never had he seen him carry himself with such authority and— clearly— anger. “On your knees!” he shouted, and immediately the assembled slid from their chairs to the floor.

I know everyone's getting tired of me posting that one clip from The Avengers but dang it! They keep giving me reasons to!

Because like Cap says, there is time to plant yourself like a tree and say, "No. You move," and I'd say when a demiurge dictator with superpowers is killing people for the heinous crimes of believing something slightly different, that's the time to do so. Because as I recall, this all stems from a few Egyptian government officials disagreeing with Zod. Yet Zod decides the best response is a massive disaster that will kill not only a handful of dissidents, but also a bunch of men, women, and children guilty of nothing more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Though then again, that is fully in character with the RTCs' beliefs. Saddam Hussein being a moral sewer of a human being, totally justifies throwing more matches onto a regional powder keg, which will explode and kill a bunch of ordinary people trying to live their lives. And of course, you shouldn't ask unpleasant questions like, "If you're invading Iraq because Saddam is bad, why not go after North Korea, given that the regime there is every bit as awful?" and you most certainly shouldn't suggest things like, "Maybe you're not invading North Korea because you can't power cars with Kimchi," and definitely do not point out that the USA sold Saddam the weapons he used to gas his own people, because during the 80s, we were scared of the Ayatollah in Iran. So we funded Saddam, who was at war with Iran, basically turning a blind eye to the horrific crimes he was committing. Even after our own State Department was basically saying, "Dude, this is not a nice guy you're doing business with," we still kept selling him weapons, believing that "Yeah, he's a little unruly, but if we give him weapons, and say, 'Bad Saddam! Very bad Saddam!' when he commits horrific atrocities, he will eventually fall into line." If Saddam hadn't decided to bite the hand that feeds him by invading Kuwait, we would probably still be propping him up.

:deep breath:

Sorry guys. You're probably getting all tired of the damn politics, but I can't help myself; it's like a spigot gets opened. You also probably getting tired of my constant girl boner for Captain America and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so I will post a pertinent clip from the DCAU* and move on.

Token Jew starts ranting about how they worship Ptah and they eeevilly build structures and idols to Ptah. Me, I duck into Wikipedia to see what it says about the religious makeup of Egypt. I realize, of course, that Wikipedia isn't the bestest, most scholarly source around, but I find it a good starting point. From what I can tell, the cult of Ptah ended with the Third Intermediate Period of Egypt. For those of you not up on your ancient history (though it's probably difficult to be any good at ancient history when you believe that the world is only 6000 years old), the Third Intermediate Period of Egypt began in 1070 BCE and ended in 664 BCE.

So yeah, Ptah probably doesn't play that huge a role in the religious makeup of modern Egypt. Modern Egypt is primarily Sunni Muslims, who make up 88% of the population. We all know that Ellanjay have a dim view of Islam, but you want to know what the next largest religious group in Egypt is? It's Coptic Christians, aka one of the oldest Christian sects still around. Its followers believe that their church was established by Saint Mark himself in 42 CE. Proof for that is probably sketchy, because records from the first century are generally spotty at best, but I felt a need to point that out, because as Fred Clark has said many times, while Ellanjay act like their interpretation of the Bible is totally ancient, totally how all the great Christians throughout history interpreted it, really it is a very modern interpretation, dating back to the 19th century at the earliest.

And I know I'm belaboring the point, because that's what I do, but I feel a need to post a link to this graphic about the Egyptian Revolution. Because no matter how much the RTCs insist otherwise, things are rarely as Black and White as they think they are and for the most part, people are basically good. We may believe different things, but push comes to shove, most of us try to do the right thing, help out those in need. We may not always succeed, but we try.

Plus, as I keep pointing out, the country with the largest Muslim population isn't in the Middle East; it's Indonesia. Yet the problems facing Indonesia are, for the most part, problems facing any First World Nation: growing population, shrinking resources. If the problem really is Islam, as so many bigots proclaim, wouldn't Indonesia make the Middle East look like Switzerland in comparison?

All right, moving on...

Token Jew continues to foam at the mouth.

A man looking not much younger than Kenny stood. “Sir, if I may argue our side of the issue—”

“Your side? You are accursed! Or are you a believer, confident you shall live past your hundredth birthday?”

“It merely happens that I respectfully disagree—”

“Respectfully? You are fortunate you remain on this earth, for God willed that your young compatriots become examples for the rest of this nation.”

“But, sir, that is precisely our point. What kind of a loving God is so capricious that He would—”

“Demolish this building!” Tsion roared. “Rebuild it as a temple to the Lord. Delight in His ways. Seek His face. Follow His statutes. Never again disobey His commands. And henceforth this land shall be known as Osaze, ‘loved by God.’ Lest you fear that His wrath evidences something other than His love, imagine what He could have done in the face of this ultimate insult.

Oh, so much "Strawman Always Has a Point..." it's actually quite painful. Though of course, Token Jew would be from the Bill O'Reilly school of debate where not letting the other guy argue his case, is totally proof that you are completely one hundred percent in the right. But if the other guy shuts you out of the debate, because you cannot, at all, be respectful of the rights and needs of others, that is "OMG!!!!!11 PERSECUTION!" that makes the Holocaust seem piddling in comparison.

Yeah, I'm thinking of Acts 17:16 to the end. For all you lazy readers out there, I'll post the passage in question. Though admittedly, I had already planned on doing so.


16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. 17 Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there. 18 Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, “What does this babbler want to say?”

Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,” because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection.

19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak? 20 For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean.” 21 For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing.

Addressing the Areopagus

22 Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:

TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.

Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” 33 So Paul departed from among them. 34 However, some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

Paul often gets a lot of flack from Liberal Christians. Some of it, is admittedly deserved. Sometimes in his letters, Paul really seems to get it, the life-changing message of Jesus, how the last will be first and the first will be last, all the prisoners will be set free, and all those sick and hurt, will be healed, but other times, he remains stubbornly a man of his time.

In his defense, most of the really misogynistic passages RTCs love to cite, weren't likely written by Paul. It was a standard practice in the ancient world, putting someone else's names to your works in order to get them more widely spread. The actual Paul's letters reveal that while he probably wasn't a hundred percent in line with Third Wave Feminism, his views regarding women were much more nuanced than RTCs like to believe.

But the point about the quoted passage is, well, look at Paul's approach. He could have stood there, ranting and flailing about how they're all sinners destined to burn forever, like Token Jew. And the people in the area would have either ignored him or mocked him.

But instead, Paul showed respect towards them and their beliefs, meeting the people of Athens where they were. Paul, after all, was a Roman Citizen, in addition to being a Jew, so he knew the beliefs interwoven into Roman society as well as the Jewish beliefs. He actually knew his opponents' arguments and wasn't afraid to address them, because he had learned and studied them himself. It's a basic rule of debate--Know your opponent's arguments before you knock them to the ground--but it's a rule that seems sadly lacking in the RTC subculture.

And for the record, for all of Paul's sweating and striving to prove that Jesus is the promised Messiah, none of this letters make any mention of a Virgin Birth. Given that Paul's letters are the oldest part of the New Testament, that indicates the Virgin Birth part of the mythos was a more recent addition to the Jesus story.

I know the part about the Virgin Mythos probably wasn't necessary, but I put it in there, because I find it interesting, and this is my soapbox.

Rayford's section ends with this line:

As Rayford followed Tsion and the others out, the entire auditorium was filled with weeping and men and women pleading for forgiveness and mercy.

Given the severe drought, the weeping men and women soon keeled over because, y'know, crying is kind of a bad thing when you're already severely dehydrated. Though since Ellanjay foolishly decide not to mention the Egyptians' prayers, I'll write a translation for them: 'Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don't care what you do to her. Tear her face off, strip her to the bones. Not me! Julia! Not me!'


In the next section, Creepy Raymie is our POV character. And no, I will never stop calling him that. I know I should probably call all the RTCs in this series, Creepy, but with Raymie, it feels even more apropos. Qasim, still trying to cozy up to the bullies, so they'd stop with the emotional cruelty, has brought a copy of the TOL manifesto. The rest of the section is taken up entirely with this text, without us even hearing the Millies (what I'm calling the Millennium Force until one of you gives me a better name) get the vapors or their monocles shatter at the impropriety of it all. And I know I've already done so many bigass quotes and I somewhat apologize for them, but I'll post the manifesto, just so you can see how eeeevil the TOL's beliefs are:

To the thinking members of the global society: Use your brains! You are capable of rational thought. We of the Other Light acknowledge that everyone who entered this period of history was a believer in God, either surviving the last seven years on earth as they knew it or returning from heaven with Him.

We do not deny that God was the Creator and that Jesus is His Son. We deny that He ever came to earth in the flesh or that He died and was resurrected. We aver that He unfairly treated one of His own creations, an angel, and summarily cast him out of His presence, forever besmirching his name and reputation.

Worse, He has left men and women no choice but to believe in Him and serve Him, denying our free will. We have no quarrel with those who believe and follow Him and consider themselves devout. We simply insist on the right to decide for ourselves.

And now we come to the crux of our manifesto: If it’s true that we, as His opponents, are not allowed to live past the age of one hundred, this merely proves our point: He will not countenance an alternate point of view. Critics and even some of our most loyal members have suggested that if it’s true, we should have abandoned our ill-fated cause when the first wave of deaths hit.

We, however, insist on our right to rebel, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Because of the new world, the population is exploding as never before. Literally billions more souls will be born with every generation, and therein lies our hope. Even if it’s true, our progeny, properly informed and coached, will— by the end of the Millennium— amass an innumerable force. God’s own prophecies indicate this.

Even if it’s true that we will continue to die out every hundred years, if we remain committed to our cause against the vengeful, bloodthirsty God of the Old Testament, we have hope. If we can equip the eventual mega-army of dissidents to where they can actually emerge victorious in the end, perhaps the new ruler will resurrect us and allow us to reign with him.

The biggest mistake God makes will be to loose our leader for a season at the end of this Millennium, for that shall truly signal the end of His kingdom. Let us not be deterred by intermittent defeats. Watch our ranks grow with every generation, and we will in the end prove that God is anything but gracious and loving and forgiving.

Our hope and wish and instruction to the future torchbearers of the Other Light is that they continue to add to and refine this manifesto until— by the last generation— it becomes the most motivational and strategic call to arms the world has ever known.

And be encouraged. Even if it’s true that we die out every generation, it stands to reason that our progeny will become more numerous each time. And if that’s true, it should be exponentially encouraging to each new wave that carries on our message.

So, what if it’s true? Add to this document. Refine it. Improve it. Pass it on. And we’ll see you on the victory stand in the end.

The Other Light

So much 'Strawman Always Has a Point,' that even the phrase 'Strawman Always Has a Point,' feels entirely too inadequate. Because if this was written by anyone with half a brain, this would be a Big Damn Heroes moment. Because nearly every form of entertainment, like that clip from the DCAU I posted earlier to freakin' Power Rangers know that standing up to the Villains and basically saying, "No!" regardless of if you have a snowball's chance in hell of winning, is pretty damn heroic. There's a reason we celebrate organizations like the White Rose or the Free France movement; in the wake of so much misery and societal pressure, they stood against the tide and did whatever they could to stop an evil organization's advance and save lives.

Okay, Ellanjay would probably respond by being all, "B-but they're standing against God and He isn't evil!" To which I'm like, "Subsitute out God's name for Satan or say, Saddam Hussein, and see if you still find their actions acceptable." Because there should be a fundamental difference between the forces of Good and Evil and said difference shouldn't just be, "One side does horrible things and wins, but the other side fails."

I know Ellanjay were probably writing this series as Revenge Porn for RTCs and therefore, just didn't care about their opponents' arguments (again, unlike Paul), but maybe some nagging voice deep inside kept saying, "You know the other guys are making some good points," so they attempted an Author's Saving Throw in the next scene to try to prove that the TOL really are like super-evil.

The next passage, Abdullah is the POV character. A Nameless Neighbor talks about how the TOL is spreading, but one of them was recently smited by Zod. Apparently one of them tried to rape a woman with a glorified body, in hopes of creating a mongrel race of partially glorified people who may be able to overcome the "Death at 100" rule. But Zod smited said TOL, reducing him to ashes.

And I have to roll my eyes at all this. Because like I said, it feels like a transparent attempt to be all, "See they really are evil!" in response to all the observations about how they are coming across as pretty heroic. So they're putting in a Kick the Dog moment because one bad guy tangentially associated with a movement, doing bad things in the name of said movement, is proof of the movement's inherent evil. Though said rule seems to only apply to those who can't pass a paper bag test. So a supporter of Black Lives Matter murdering Cops proves that Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization and a Muslim doing something horrible, regardless of whether it is in the name of their faith or not, is proof that those groups are inherently evil. But Dylann Roof or the many other white dudes who have shot up schools, churches, and other public places, are merely isolated nutbars and in no way, prove that Racism is still a problem warranting being addressed or that White Males often have a sense of entitlement and react badly when they aren't immediately given something they feel is "due" to them.

Though given that most violence against White People is committed by other White People, you really do wish they would address this scourge of White-On-White violence that plagues their communities.

Abdullah tells his wife he's thinking about infiltrating the TOL and we cut to Kenny-boy. And maybe I belabor the "Kenny wants desperately to get laid" point a little too much, but I dare my readers to read the first few lines of his section and try not interpret it in a way that isn't creepy as hell.

Kenny visited Ekaterina that evening, hoping to muster the courage to tell her how affectionate he had become toward her. He could never quite seem to find the words, and she kept changing the subject.

Uh, guys when people use the word, affectionate, that usually means some actions are involved, gestures that go beyond looking a pretty girl and pining at her from afar? And again, I know I may be reading too much into this, but given the Author's Saving Throw attempted in the previous section, I'm finding it very difficult not to.

Because you know that Saving Throw was put in because they're like, "Okay, the TOL is making some good points," so they had to do something to prove how truly eeeevil they are. Since RTCs consider Sex to be the most egregious of sins, they had a member of the TOL try and fail to rape someone. Though I would be remiss in my duties as a snarker if I didn't point out that for all their wargle-bargle over how eeeevil the TOL is, when it comes to Sexual Abuse in their own communities, RTCs have an even more appalling record. For the sake of brevity, I only posted one link to our dear Fred's blog, because I very easily could have kept posting links until the end of time. Because when you divide Sex into two categories, one being "Good" and the other being "Evil," and Good is defined as "Within the bounds of holy matrimony between two heterosexual individuals," while Evil is anything that doesn't fall into the Good category regardless of if the actions are "Two people deciding to express their mutual love for each other by having sex, even though they don't have rings on their left fingers," or "Preying on the underaged," then yeah, horrible crimes will result.

Again, Consent, mothereffers! It's the basic principle that governs whether it qualifies as abuse or not. And no matter how much Dudebros** like to break blood vessels and pretend that it's such an arcane, difficult concept that no guy could be expected to fully grasp, it's not. In fact, here's a handy cheat sheet.

If she or he says, "Yes," via spoken dialogue or otherwise conveys enthusiasm or consent via body language, go ahead and have fun. There may be possible consequences like STDs or pregnancy, but there are possible bad consequences to everything. But the point is, under those circumstances, it does not qualify as Rape.

If the other person does or says anything that gives you doubt as to their consent, STOP. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Because maybe you were misreading things, but it's better to err on the side of caution than to continue. If he or she isn't giving clear signals that they are interested, STOP. Maybe you'll get to have sex another time if you're lucky.

If someone is falling down, black-out drunk or passed-out all together due to his or her alcohol consumption, keep an eye on him or her and maybe call an ambulance, but at no point, do you need to do anything with your genitals or his or her genitals.

In fact, even if they are drunk but still conscious, unless you two have been in a committed relationship for a while and have had sex before, again, err on the side of caution and don't do it. Maybe at some other time, when both parties are sober, you can get it on, but until then...well, you have hands for a reason.

Kenny and Kat talk for a bit. And the chapter ends with Kenny wondering if Kat would make the perfect infiltrator of the TOL, unlike Qasim who is "Too Immature" to be a good spy.

And that's it. Sorry for all the danged footnotes, but hey, there was some more stuff I wanted to say, but I wasn't sure how well they fit into the conversation and like I said, I know I tend to ramble. So I place "Stuff I want to talk about, but am not sure if it fits" towards the end, using asterisks to indicate that there is more for those interested. And if you're not interested, you can roll your eyes and just ignore said asterisks.

*I am an absolute sucker for moments like these in Superhero movies or shows, where the civilians do more than just scream, flail, and die off-screen. Hence why I keep posting that Avengers clip and why I love that bit from Power Rangers so much. And it's one of the reasons that no matter how many times I've seen that moment in the DCAU, even though I know what's coming, I still get chills when it happens. Though for me, it's the line Superman says at the end, that really drives the emotional gutpunch home. Seriously DC Comics, get the guys involved with the DCAU to make your movies! They have proven, over and over, that they can deliver, tell damn good stories that appeal to both children and adults alike, without being so dark and gritty that they cross the line to Outright Unpleasant to Watch.

The Ordinary Heroes bit is one of the reasons I love Lord of the Rings so very much. For all the talk about how Aragorn is the One True King and Gandalf's talent for sorcery, ultimately Middle Earth is saved by ordinary hobbits displaying ordinary virtues such as friendship and courage. I first read LOTR after the first movie came out and I started reading it because I thought Legolas was hot and wanted to see more of him. So I picked up the series, only to fall head over heels in love with Samwise. And said love hasn't ended. Between my love of Samwise and Captain America, I think my standards are too high for any real-world guy to have any shot at satisfying.

**Dudebros and MRAs are always going, "Dur...Feminists don't care about male rape victims or male victims of domestic violence." Even though there's a reason the phrase "The Patriarchy Hurts Men, too" shows up in many different variations in our lit. Because it turns out that providing a narrow definition of what is considered appropriate masculine behavior, hurts everyone, especially guys who fall outside said narrow definition.

People have long noticed that women are more likely to be diagnosed with mental illnesses as Depression and speculated as to whether our body chemistry makes us more prone to mental illness. But lately it's been theorized that mental illness affects both genders at roughly the same rate and the reason for the higher number of diagnoses in women, is because women are more likely to seek help for their condition. There's less stigma attached to a woman having a mental illness than there is for a guy. Women have greater access to the full spectrum of human emotions, whereas for Men, the only emotion they're allowed to express, outside of Stoicism, is Anger. Any other emotion is seen as weak and feminine. Even though Beowulf and the Norse mythos have their heroes breaking down in tears over the deaths of comrades and the text doesn't condemn them for doing so. In fact, said breakdown is shown as proof as to how much the hero cared, how dedicated he is to his task. The "Boys Don't Cry" attitude is a very recent invention.

Plus again, for all their rantings and ravings, it's the feminists who uphold and support male victims of rape and abuse, the feminists who say, "You were a victim and you have every right to be angry and hurt about it," whereas the MRAs and dudebros, for all their talk, use male victims as fodder for jokes. It's almost as though they don't really care about the suffering of male victims and just use the existence of said victims to prop up their toxic belief systems, but that can't be the case!

Anti-Feminists see men as walking dicks, incapable of any higher thought. Feminists see men as thinking, feeling humans capable of basic self-control, yet somehow it's the Feminists are stereotyped as having a negative view of men.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth.

Hello and welcome everybody! And yes, the reason for the C.S. Lewis quote in the post title will become apparent. Lewis may have been off-base with his Liar-Lunatic-Lord trilemma, but that doesn't mean he wasn't right on the money when it comes to other stuff.

I know you guys are going to get tired of me linking to that Mac Davis song over and over again, but Lordy, it's just so perfect for Rayford, especially in the beginning of this chapter. Yeah, I honestly wonder if anybody in the Slacktiverse has put Rayford through the Universal Mary Sue Litmus Test. Because good God...

Though I've kind of noticed that we haven't had as many appearances of Jerry Jenkins's surrogate character aka Buck Williams. I wonder if Tim LaHaye was really breathing down his neck for this book; hence why we haven't seen much of Buck. Of course, I'm also wondering what the heck Rayford's second wife, Amanda, is doing during all this, because she shows up at the beginning and pretty much disappears, save for a mention at the end. Given that no one is having sex anymore, why can't Rayford live together with Irene and Amanda? Heck, why not have a dormitory-style living facility for everyone since, like I said, no more sex? But the nuclear family must endure, even in situations where it doesn't really make sense.

Okay, I've done enough blathering. I think I'll copy and paste the opening paragraph, just so you can see how hard it is for Rayford to be humble when he's perfect in every way.
I thought you knew by now that I'm a believer in "Misery Loves Company" or in other words, spreading the pain around.

IN HIS PAST, Rayford would have said he couldn’t believe his luck. But this was more than fortune; this assignment proved he was continually blessed by God. His leadership skills had been tapped and his muscles stretched by the decades he’d spent leading a development team in Indonesia. And now it became his charge not only to rebuild and develop Egypt but to lead the spiritual effort as well.

Egads! Rayford is so horribly smug that the only person who could successfully play him in any film adaptation, would be Martin Shkreli. Because other actors might be like, "Y'know Rayford is really coming across and unsympathetic and horrible in this scene," and try to soften his actions, so as to make him more relatable to the audience. But if Shkreli was playing him, he'd just be playing himself with a few more mentions of God and Jesus in his lines.

Though like I said, that's one of the perks of the movie adaptations. They're not good movies by any means, but film and book are two different mediums, which forces them to make changes that make the movies more bearable than the books. Brad Johnson, who played Rayford in the Kirk Cameron version, is just doing basic workman acting 101, but like Fred said , even though Johnson isn't helped at all by the script or the director, he does manage to make Rayford seem a lot more sympathetic than the book version.

Though I'm sure Ellanjay would be appalled by the accusation that Rayford is a Mary Sue. They'll be like, "But he feels a stirring in his loins for a woman who :gasp: isn't his wife?" Yeah, but said stirring never actually causes him any actual trouble, never costs him his job or his marriage or his standing in the community. Because everyone just seems to tacitly accept that it was Hattie's fault for being all female and alive. But I'm sure the fact that Rayford can't play the banjo to save his life, qualifies as a flaw, even though it never comes into play at any point in the story.

One last quibble before I finally move on. What exactly was Rayford doing in Indonesia that would make him more muscular? I thought he was just developing some kind of poorly explained technology, but there are words associated with IT types and muscular isn't one of them. I'm sorry, IT folk. Don't mean to pick on you. You provide a valuable service, which is much more than I can say about Ellanjay. It's just that there's a reason you don't see many IT types in People Magazine's Beautiful People or Sexiest Man Alive issues.

Though I suppose maybe Rayford is working in construction, but I have a hard time believing that he'd be the type who'd insist on not using power tools or bulldozers or any kind of earth-moving equipment. Y'know how he feels about exerting himself.

Rayford has decided not to take Chloe and Buck or Raymie and Kenny feeling that the COT ministry needs them. So who's going with him? Well, we've got Useless Bruce, Token Jew, Chaim, and Saintly Irene. Though Bruce's Nameless Wife is also coming along and Lord, you can't help but stare in appalled horror at the sheer amount of laziness in that Ellanjay can't be bothered to even give her a name, though they probably could have just called her whatever woman's name sprung to mind in the first five seconds. Me, because I'm that kind of person, I would have named her Junia or Jael. But all they say about Nameless is that she had a gift for organization, whatever that means.

Rayford talks to Abdullah before he goes. There's really nothing that interesting about the conversation, because while Abdullah may have beaten his wife, even he has enough judgement to recognize Rayford's inherent superiority to all living things. He is the sun around which the LB-verse revolves around. In fact, the LB-verse did not exist until Rayford willed it into being. He uses his powers over time and space to convince everyone that the world is 6000 years old rather than 40 years old (the age he was in the first book). I know I'm being a little extreme, but can anyone deny the inherent rightness of these statements?

I'm going to ignore much of the conversation between Abdullah and Rayford, because really who wants to see it, but I will post this last bit:

“Dangerous, eh?” Rayford said. “Surely the Lord doesn’t expect a man your age to pose as a member of TOL.”

“Captain Steele,” Abdullah said solemnly, laughter dancing in his eyes, “I recall the days when a comment like that to a person of ethnicity was punishable as a hate crime.”

Yeah...I'm really tugging at my shirt collar right now, because...well, I can name some victims of Hate Crimes off of the top of my head and here's a hint: none of them were victimized and horribly murdered because they wouldn't go to nightclubs and have fun, drinking and listening to that rock and/or roll music. Trigger Warnings for those who need them!

Maybe I'm wrong but I don't think James Byrd, Jr., Matthew Shepherd , or Brandon Teena were killed for refusing to drink or groove to Rock and Roll. But maybe I'm wrong. I mean, we already know of Christians martyred every day by eeeevil secular progressives, who insist that they provide goods and services to paying customers who find love in their own locker room. The horror!

Anyway, we get a brief interlude where Rayford and co. arrive in Egypt and see what all has happened.

As soon as they had landed in Al Jizah, it became clear the area was wounded. Since the Feast of Tabernacles in Israel several days before, no rain had fallen in the entire nation of Egypt. Worse, it was obvious that God had shut off even the underground springs— deadly to a desert climate. Rivers had stopped flowing, and rapidly evaporating water lay stagnant everywhere. Citizens filled containers as fast as they could, trying to collect the last of the good water.

Back up, I'm a bit confused. Things have gone all Mad Max after just a few days? Because I know all the stuff mentioned would become one helluva problem really quick, but that quickly? Egypt may have its problems, but they probably do have bottled jugs of water and other beverages to drink. I can see things getting rough, where water is so limited, it is used strictly for eating and drinking, no bathing or showering. And of course, Rayford and Co. probably would sanctimoniously look down on them for being all smelly. But people aren't rock-stupid and generally, we have a strong will to live. So in the wake of something like this, we'd get to work. Every last drop would be carefully rationed and heck, we'd probably come up with some way of filtrating urine or bad water back into clean. There are many low-tech filters that aren't too difficult to build. Heck, the SODIS system is easy as nachos to utilize. As a blogger I follow sums it up:

Take a clear water bottle with a tight cap, fill it with unsafe water, set it—on a sheet of metal for extra strength—in the direct sun for eight hours or so, and most of the nasties should be done for. Essentially, the UV rays give a deadly dose of cancer to all the little cryptos and giardias and such (it’d be like making a person stand in the sun for ten years straight, equivalently)

Some studies have contested the usefulness of the SODIS system, but in a crisis situation, drinking some clean water is probably better than drinking unclean water.

Though I do feel a need to point out that the borders seen on maps of the world, are primarily formed by politics or rivers or mountains. Since they're not, as Ellanjay and those of their ilk believe, massive electrical fences or alligator-filled moats, you'd think the Egyptians would, I don't know, decide to leave and go to one of the many neighboring countries that still have water. Though now that I've said all this, I'm hearing uncomfortable echoes regarding the Syrian Refugee Crisis. Though at least in that old parable of the Good Samaritan, the people who walked by and refused to help the poor guy, weren't the reason he'd been beaten and left for dead on the Jericho road in the first place.

And dang it! I swore I wouldn't get into politics, but there seems to be no way around it. I'll just ask one politically-charged question and move on. Readers of my blog, feel free to chime in. Here's the question: is there any asinine idea on the Right that can't be traced directly or indirectly to White Supremacism?

But we'll get to the poor Egyptians soon enough. I'm trying to figure out what's worse: being stuck with no water or being stuck with Rayford and Co.

Our interlude is with Kenny, who still wants badly to get into Kat's pants. Kat talks about how she told a ten-year-old girl the story of Jonah and then led the girl to Christ. Right...I'm wondering if Kat told her the whole story of Jonah or if her version ended with him being vomited up by the large fish. Because the last chapter of that book, chapter four, which I am going to post in its entirety, because yes, I'm that kind of person, might hit a little too close to home for the RTCs.

4 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. 2 So he prayed to the Lord, and said, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. 3 Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!”

4 Then the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?”

5 So Jonah went out of the city and sat on the east side of the city. There he made himself a shelter and sat under it in the shade, till he might see what would become of the city. 6 And the Lord God prepared a plant[a] and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be shade for his head to deliver him from his misery. So Jonah was very grateful for the plant. 7 But as morning dawned the next day God prepared a worm, and it so damaged the plant that it withered. 8 And it happened, when the sun arose, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat on Jonah’s head, so that he grew faint. Then he wished death for himself, and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”

9 Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”

And he said, “It is right for me to be angry, even to death!”

10 But the Lord said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?”

Though for all the lazy people reading my blog, I'll provide a link to the animated song version of the moral of Jonah's book. Plus, like I said, I do like to point out Christian Art that Doesn't Suck.

And because again, I'm that kind of person, I'll post the interlude about Rayford's adventures in Egypt so you all may suffer with me. Though if you think what you're getting this week is bad, it gets even more stupid and idiotic next week. That's the beauty of this series: no matter how many times you're like, "Okay, I don't know if anything could be worse than that scene," it always gets worse. It's hard to think of how anything could be worse than the scene in Nicolae where he mansplains about abortion, but we know Ellanjay are up to the challenge.

A neighbor man about Rayford’s age wandered over to the Al Jizah construction site one afternoon. “You the ones the Lord sent?” he said.

“That would be us, sir.”

“Can you do anything about getting Him to turn the water back on?”

“That’s why we’re here, but as you can imagine, the leadership of this nation is going to have to get in line.”

“I hope you’re not expecting a warm welcome in Cairo. Those young men who talked the other leaders out of going to the feast are dead, slain by lightning in the very presence of their colleagues.”

Rayford stretched. “The Lord’s justice is swift, friend. He clearly made an example of those two, as His Word warned. When their ends came, there could have been no question why. And I believe we’ll be seen as the messengers we are. We’re praying the whole ordeal will give us a hearing among the young people here, show them there’s no trifling with God.”

“Well, know that every other believer is praying the same thing. Why must we suffer for the actions of a few?”

I'll assume the bit "Rayford stretched" was originally "Rayford masturbated feverishly thinking of all those sinful sinners burning in hell for all eternity. That'll show him, he thought as he climaxed. Teach them for poking holes in my logic by pointing out the flaws of Pascal's Wager or the Lunatic-Liar-Lord Trilemma.

...

Egads, I've written Left Behind porn. God help me and anyone who reads this. Though I just assume whenever some horrible Act of God happens, the Tribbles either masturbate like crazy or hate-fuck. Because given the Christian Right's screwed up views of sex, I have a hard time believing that they can see it as an act of love, something apart from their constant power struggles, ego-strokes, and general love of violence.

And yes, the Lord's justice surely will give a hearing among the young people here. I'm sure if they weren't busy dying slowly and horribly from dehydration, they'd immediately say The Prayer and be like, "Shit, baptize me now."

Though because I'm anal-retentive to a scary degree, I went digging through RubyTea's blog where in the second book of the Shitstain Trilogy, she talked about the effects Los Angeles drying up in the blink of an eye, would have. I'm going to copy and paste, even though RubyTea was talking about one city and Egypt is a country made up of :goes to look it up: some 92 million people. Though to split hairs, it's probably considerably less given that all the heathens were tossed into Hell when TurboJesus came back. I wonder if Ellanjay would count Coptic Christians among the RTCS? Just curious...

Anyway, as RubyTea put it:

Everyone is so curious about the long-term effects of the dessication of Los Angeles, but Jerry Jenkins has left it as a cliffhanger.

So you know what?

Frak THAT noise.

I’m going to let you guys in on the total revelation of the effects of the dessication, in the first chapter of Silenced.

I’m not going to do the whole book, mind you. (I think I’m nearly overdosed on one Paul Stepola *gag*) But I am going to tell The Rest of the Story of the “miracle” of drying up a vibrant city filled with innocent people.

First of all, the death counts of Atheistopia and God are out the window. Jenkins informs us that thousands die.

Thousands.

That this is not surprising makes it no less horrifying.

And remember, according to the dictates of a LaJenkinsian RTC God, those thousands go straight to Hell.

And I’m sure we can all imagine who most of these thousands would be.

First, the sick and injured. Those who depend immediately on water and water-based medications to survive the next few minutes.

Next, the very young and the very old, the weak, the infirm, and most of all, the poor. The people least likely to have the ability to buy their way out of the city.

So again, when you think about the situation in Egypt, think that but on a larger scale. In fact, maybe I was off-base in wondering if it would really turn into Mad Max that quickly. It probably would because, well, the longest anyone has ever lasted without water is six days. In fact, again, I will repeat: why the hell would anyone stay in Egypt, given what's going on? Like I keep saying, in a situation like this, when your options are "Stay and Die" or "Undertake a Dangerous Journey and Possibly Survive," yeah, they'll go with the second option. People generally want to stay alive and dang it! Am I going to keep hearing uncomfortable echoes of the Syrian Refugee Crisis during my snarks?!

I'll post a Facebook response someone wrote about Trump, Jr.'s shitty Skittles metaphor and move on.

Eli Bosnick
18 hrs ·
"If I gave you a bowl of skittles and three of them were poison would you still eat them?"
"Are the other skittles human lives?"
"What?"
"Like. Is there a good chance. A really good chance. I would be saving someone from a war zone and probably their life if I ate a skittle?"
"Well sure. But the point-"
"I would eat the skittles."
"Ok-well the point is-"
"I would GORGE myself on skittles. I would eat every single fucking skittle I could find. I would STUFF myself with skittles. And when I found the poison skittle and died I would make sure to leave behind a legacy of children and of friends who also ate skittle after skittle until there were no skittles to be eaten. And each person who found the poison skittle we would weep for. We would weep for their loss, for their sacrifice, and for the fact that they did not let themselves succumb to fear but made the world a better place by eating skittles.
Because your REAL question...the one you hid behind a shitty little inaccurate, insensitive, dehumanizing racist little candy metaphor is, IS MY LIFE MORE IMPORTANT THAN THOUSANDS UPON THOUSANDS OF MEN, WOMEN, AND TERRIFIED CHILDREN...
... and what kind of monster would think the answer to that question... is yes?"

Though of course, they're not even going to try to answer Nameless Neighbor Man's question. Sometimes in works of fiction, they do leave some questions unanswered. Like in the epic Y: the Last Man while we are eventually told the reason for Yorick's immunity to the plague and while the series offers up several causes for said plague, they never explicitly say what caused said plague. Or for those of you who are fans of the DCAU (and who isn't?) the episode "A Better World" from Justice League has said league meeting up with the Justice Lords, another version of themselves from an alternate reality. In this reality, Lex Luthor killed Flash and Superman lost it and killed Lex and now said League rules the world, brutally subjugating anyone who stands in their way.

Anyway, my incredibly belabored point is in that episode, there's an exchange between League!Batman and Lord!Batman:

Lord Batman: Think about it - a world where there's no crimes. No victims. No pain.

Batman: And no choice! Who elected you, anyway?

Lord Batman: Who elected you? The problem with democracy is, it doesn't keep you very safe.

Batman: It has other virtues. But you seem to have forgotten that.

Lord Batman: I didn't forget! I just chose peace and security instead.

Batman: You grabbed power!

Lord Batman: And with that power, we've made a world where no eight-year-old boy will ever lose his parents...because of some punk with a gun!

Batman: [pauses, then drops his Batarang] You win.

The people involved with the series freely admit that they had Batman respond that way, because they Lord!Batman was seriously making some good points. You can disagree with the methods of the Justice Lords, but...yeah, I wonder if I'll ever stop using the "Strawman Always Has A Point" tag.

But in both of the examples I've mentioned, the creators could get away with leaving some questions unanswered, because a) their works were damn good and b) sometimes it's good to leave a few mysteries that the readers can debate over.

But Nameless Neighbor Man's question is a fundamental one woven into the fabric of the LB-verse. He's basically saying, "Okay, why should I worship a God who gleefully kills people horribly, so he can torture them for all eternity and hurt them even more?" Yeah, I'm going to post this clip again. Even though I already posted it last week, it bears being reposted. Because if I were to talk to Ellanjay about this, talk about how a dictator is depriving his subjects of food and water and people are dying in droves, they would be horrified and be like, "Depose the a-hole!" But since God is horribly killing people, that magically makes it okay. So yeah, Nameless Neighbor Man is totally the old guy in the clip going, "There are always men like you."

After this bit, the Millennium Force meets and I still earnestly long for a nickname I can give them. Like I keep saying, words have meaning and you shouldn't give yourself an awesome, action-packed name if you never actually do anything worthy of it.

Anyway, Creepy Raymie (and I'm wondering if I should now dub him "Creepy Racist Raymie") talks about finding another natural to infiltrate the TOL.

Raymie nodded, but— no surprise— Zaki jumped in. “Qasim’s already done it, and he has a report for us.”

“Zaki, we’ve been over this,” Raymie said. “He’s probably already given us away.”

“No, and he’s prepared to debrief us. Trust me; there’s stuff you’re going to want to hear.”

Yeah, maybe I should be a little more choosy about my League of Awesome members but I'm really considering adding Qasim to the League. Because they just keep shitting on the guy even though he hasn't done or said anything worthy of such treatment. In fact, like I said, I keep trying to think of reasons for Raymie's scorn that aren't racist or xenophobic as heck.

“Zaki, if we’re going to do this, be this force, we don’t want a lot of people knowing about it. I’m not afraid of the young people of the Other Light, because they can’t hurt us. But they can sure hurt a lot of other people, so we have to stay under the radar.”

“Fine, but can I bring him in?”

Yeah, my head just created a new dent in the wall. Because how exactly can TOL hurt a lot of other people? How would that even work? Are we talking physical hurt or psychological? If it's physical, well, I'm still suffering hemorrhages trying to figure out how this "Death at 100 years old" works. If we're talking psychological, I could point out that the TOL, which acknowledges the joys of the flesh, probably have a healthier mindset, rather than spending all eternity hating and despising themselves for the joys of the flesh, but said urges don't go away; they just sublimate them and they manifest themselves in much more disturbing ways.

Raymie magnanimously decides that there could be no harm in letting Qasim come in and talk about what he's seen. And I'm like, seriously, Qasim?! Just stop. Stop trying to win the favor of a bunch of shitstains, shake the dust from your sandals, and move on. It makes me cringe, watching the scene where he's talking to them, trying so hard to make them like him. It's one of the sickest messages delivered to victims of Bullying: that they should reshape themselves and make themselves less repulsive, so the Bully will leave them alone. Yeah, someone should act a little more confidant or a fat kid could probably stand to exercise a little more, but they should want to do that for their own benefit, not just so some a-hole won't abuse them. Bullying is wrong, no matter what reason given.

Yeah, I know, I've been getting on so many hobbyhorses lately. I apologize. In my defense, read this exchange between Creepy Raymie and Qasim, see if after reading it, you're still opposed to the idea of Qasim just saying "Screw you," and leaving, after giving everyone the finger. And of course, the RTCs would be more offended by someone giving the finger than they would by the emotional cruelty associated with bullying.

“Before you start,” Raymie said, “I need to be clear. You realize you’re not part of this group and you don’t work under our auspices.”

“Granted. But it’s in your best interest to know what the competition is up to, wouldn’t you say? And they’re up to a lot. Those so-called nightclubs of theirs, at least the one in Paris, are so underground hardly anybody even knows about them.”

“Well, that makes sense,” Kenny said. “No matter what they’re doing in there, they’re breaking every law on the books, and if they flaunted it, they’d be in deep trouble.”

“Rumors say they have these dances and orgies and do a bunch of drugs, but unless they were just putting on a show for me, none of that was going on. They just meet there and talk and scheme and plan.”

Like I keep saying, no matter how horrified they act, the TOL still sounds suspiciously like the Swing Kids rebellion of Nazi Germany. And for the record, the Swing Kids experienced actual suffering for daring to like that Negro Music. And by suffering, I mean, Nazi concentration camps suffering rather than, "The cashier wished me a 'Happy Holidays'" suffering.

Though okay, I'm trying to work all this out. Because even John Lithgow in Footloose would be like, "Now aren't you guys going a little too far with all this?" Because they say they're breaking laws, but I'm trying to figure out what the text of these laws are. Because humans are champions when it comes to scouring for loopholes, so pretty much every time we pass a law, we have to strictly define what we're against. Like if they're opposed to dancing, how would they define it? Is Ballet still on the table, but Hip-Hop isn't? And what if some guy leapt into the air, shouting, "We won!" Would the RTCs be like, "Hey you were moving in a vaguely rhythmic yet joyful manner. That's dancing and that's against the law!"

We can further split hairs regarding music. But given how nebulously defined the RTCs' laws are... I'm having uncomfortable echoes of the Taliban which was so oppressive regarding nearly every aspect of their citizens' lives, especially their female ones, that they eventually banned paper bags. But the Taliban oppressed people and committed horrible human rights abuses in the name of Allah which makes it wrong, but the RTCs are doing it in the name of TurboJesus which makes it okay.

Of course, I find myself wondering, "Okay, how do you know orgies are taking place? Couldn't that large group of people be a book club or maybe they're getting together for a wedding or a funeral or something?"

I have a similar response to Anti-Trans Bathroom Bills: How the hell do you intend to enforce any of those rules? Because stationing armed guards outside of every public restroom in the state, who will ask everyone who comes by, "Are you packing a penis?" would cost of buttload of money, in addition to all the lawsuits that would immediately be filed. Plus people can and do lie. Hell, under those circumstances, I would lie and I'm a cisgender female. Just have this crazy idea I'm under no obligation to tell a complete stranger about my genitals.

I'm assuming advocates of said laws would probably be totally in favor of a visual check, but the instant that law was proposed, never mind passed...is there an amount greater than a buttload? Because that's how many lawsuits would be proposed. 4th Amendment bans unreasonable searches and seizures and having your pants pulled down because you needed to pee, probably qualifies.

But I suppose they need to blame somebody for the horrific consequences of poorly-planned Conservative politics. Besides, those lucky transgender people...not only do they get to use the other bathroom, they're also statistically more likely to commit suicide and be the victim of a hate crime, in addition to having to constantly deal with intrusive questions and explain their life choices to everyone. Lucky bastards have it so good.

They have some line in there where they talk about how Raymie is worried that Qasim will come across as completely amateurish to the TOL. Yeah...that's what Raymie is concerned about.

But for those of you horrified by the TOL's love of music, mind-altering substances, dancing, and sex, the true horror awaits you towards the end of the chapter, when we find out what else the TOL is up to.

“Come on,” Bahira said. “That goes without saying. They’re in the minuscule minority, what they’re doing violates the law of almighty God, and they know it! Some of their people have died, and while they revere Satan—”

“They like to say Lucifer; they say Satan is a pejorative label the believers gave to a poor guy who got a raw deal.”

“Regardless, while they revere him, he’s powerless and can’t even be planting these ideas in their heads. These people are totally making this stuff up as they go along, and it’s entirely in the flesh. They’ve been seduced by the world and by their own pride. They can’t even blame it on the devil!”

I know, I know, I've been so preachy and dull this week, but I feel a need to point out that Hedonists, in general, are responsible for very few hate crimes. Hedonists tend to be like, "Yeah, you guys spend all your time praying and repenting. I'm going to go have some real fun." Maybe an astute reader can prove me wrong, but I can't think of any instances where Hedonists took over a country and oppressed the poor religious people, sticking guns to the heads of RTCs and being like, "Okay, you will either have and enjoy intercourse for reasons other than procreation or else you die." I'm not saying there isn't a downside to a life of excessive pleasure-seeking--there are--but there are downsides to any form of excess including being so Pharisee-like in your hatred and condemnation of anyone who doesn't do like you. Again, most dictators tend to have an ideology that they believe above all else, believe that it's more valuable than the lives of others, and correct me if I'm wrong, but that sounds like it describes the RTCs more than the TOLjugend.

Because it's the old thing with fundamentalists of any stripe: for some reason, they can't just live how they see fit and shut up about it. As long as other people are out there, sinfully flashing their ankles and enjoying sinful entertainment, they just can't seem to be holy. Say what you will about the Amish, but whatever faults you may have with their beliefs, they're generally content to keep to themselves and live their lives. They're not lobbying the government to make everyone have to wear a cape dress or use a horse and buggy.

And dammit, I told myself I was going to stay away from politics, but somehow they keep coming up. Sorry guys. Until next week.