Sunday, February 14, 2016


Okay, I'm here and ready to snark. Tried to get going yesterday but all this stuff kept happening. That combined with my love of procrastination means we wind up with a Sunday post.

Again, not going to lie to y'all: this week's chapter, like the previous week, and the one before it, and probably all subsequent chapters, is dull as hell. It's the text equivalent of a boxing match between Mike Tyson and Stephen Hawking, in that no matter how much Ellanjay chest-beat about "Will the Tribbles stay strong and stay alive during all this?" we all know who's going to come out on top here. Though wait, my comparison may be unfair to Stephen Hawking. Stephen Hawking could probably put up more of a decent, exciting fight, especially if his wheelchair really is as tricked-out as The Simpsons would have us believe.

As a result of the sheer boredom, I do go on tangents and again, as a courtesy to readers who are totes not interested, I put them inside brackets so y'all can skip past them and get to the book stuff.

[TANGENT Where I ramble embarrassingly about myself]
Yeah, I know, pop culture reference that is only tangentially related to what's actually going on. But that's how I roll. When facing bad art, I, like Homer Simpson, drift off and start making up my own story. Hence, my whole head canon about the League of Awesome. I can't say exactly where this impulse comes from, where it all began. Maybe it's just inherent in English Majors, being all obsessive and weird about Entertainment (we do tend to enjoy storytelling).

I do have to credit my brother and fanfiction for helping me to cut my storytelling teeth. I don't know how other kids rolled, but I was never content to just watch an episode of a Saturday Morning Cartoon or whatever and just sit and wait for next week's episode; immediately after the credits, I start talking about what had happened and from there, start crafting a plotline about where I thought it was going to go from there. I told them to my brother, because he was the only one who would really listen, who seemed interested in my theorizing. I just remember how exciting it was when we got the Internet (can't remember exactly what year my family got the Internet. I think it was 1995 or 1996, but others disagree. If you're wondering, I was born in 1985), but it blew my mind, when I did a search and discovered that other people were doing this too and that this had phenomenon had a name: fanfiction.

From there, I wrote my share of fanfics and hung out and criticized other people's fanfictions. Eventually, I lost interest, but I have fond memories of that time. Like I said, I cut my storytelling teeth on fanfiction and learned valuable lessons about good writing that could be used in both fanfiction and original works. If I ever get published, I wouldn't mind it if somebody wrote fanfiction on my stuff. I wouldn't read it, because as anyone will point out, the Internet is often a dark and scary place, but I'd totally be okay with it, because it'd be like coming full circle.

Anyway, my point is, this kind of thing, taking bits and pieces from canon and just going nuts with them, comes naturally to me. I often do it with bad fiction, because I've said many times, I sure as hell believe in discontinuity, but I also do it with good stuff. After seeing Star Wars: the Force Awakens, I almost immediately started constructing a backstory for Snoke. I know odds are pretty good my theory will be Jossed almost as soon as JJ Abrams releases the next one, but I enjoy it. I just can't passively sit and wait for the next film; I just can't resist trying to make up my own story to tide me over until then. [/TANGENT]

One last thing before I get to the book: Y'all know I do read the comments, obsessing over them like the weird obsessive geek* you know I am, and though I already responded to one of Firedrake's comments on last week's post, I feel a need to put it in the main post.

[Comment TANGENT]

Basically, last week, we discovered that the reason Nicky is using horses, despite the fact that there's a reason the modern military hasn't utilized horse-drawn cavalries since WWI, was because of one verse that said something about God striking down horses and riders, which clearly meant that the bad guy had to have horses and riders, even though this is supposed to be at some indeterminate point in the future. But we've established that Ellanjay suck at everything, including trying to map out future trends.

Firedrake was stymied by this, saying, and I quote:

Um, the logic she is broken. If LBGod is striking horses with panic and riders with madness, this is surely a reason to not have horses and riders in your army, rather than going out of your way to find some?

And I shake my head, because we've been through this kind of silly literalism before. Anyone remember the plot tumor where Judd hung out with some German guys in New Babylon for awhile? If you don't, can't blame you. There have been so many danged plot tumors, I'm not surprised if y'all couldn't keep track of all of them.

Basically the Germans were there, because of their interpretation of verse four, in Revelation 18 or to use the words of a website I've quoted before:

In the latest book, there is one laughable situation where some German Christians supposedly read a verse in the Revelation about God's people being told to come out of Babylon, because the city was going to be destroyed "in one hour", and so they travelled to the Antichrist headquarters in Baghdad just to save God the embarrassment of not having anyone inside to "come out" when the time came. Seriously! This is exactly how contrived the so-called fulfillments of various prophecies are, as far as Jenkins and LaHaye are concerned. Find a verse, weave it into a good car or plane chase, and then pretend that it is what the Bible was talking about all along.

So we shouldn't be too surprised that they read the 12th chapter of Zechariah and only notice the fourth verse. Because again, they only noticed that one verse of Revelation, chapter 18. Those of you who weren't lazy and actually read through that chapter of Revelation, would have noticed that there are a lot more verses than just one, and reading it, you get the idea that John was saying something entirely different when he tells people to "Come out of Babylon."

Because it's not like there was a massive empire around that was persecuting the followers of Christ, an empire that swallowed up and controlled most of the world, and had an economic system where a privileged elite lived in the lap of luxury, while the majority, the people who toiled and slaved on behalf of the elite, lived in appalling poverty? It's not like the part, where John talks about all the stuff that will be destroyed when God wipes out Babylon (verses 11-17 of chapter 18), were luxury items, stuff that the rich enjoyed and flaunted, and cost more than their servants could make in a year. I don't know where you could have possibly gotten the idea that a follower of Christ would find the idea of the rich living in the lap of luxury, while sanctimoniously looking down at the impoverished and steadfastly refusing to do a thing to help them, to be a crime against God. Nor would Jesus himself, dream of ever saying anything that might make someone who is rich and powerful feel uncomfortable. [/TANGENT]

All right, I'm done now. I'll get to the damn book.

The chapter begins with Lionel and there are brief moments with him here and there, just like the previous chapter, but given that even less happens in his sections than in Judd and Vicki's (and I'm really starting to think I should change my tags regarding them to "JuddandVicki" because they kind of became a single organism immediately after Judd put a ring on it), I'm mostly going to ignore it. Got a problem with it? Get your own copy and read for yourself.

Judd's section begins with an attempt at establishing the physical and emotional setting. Like all attempts, it fails.

Judd had gotten turned around by the advancing Unity Army and ended up on a street he didn’t recognize. All this time in Jerusalem, planning and memorizing its layout, and now he was lost. The Old City was only a third of a mile square. This shouldn’t have happened. And Vicki was losing lots of blood. She hadn’t complained about her injury, but he could tell she was in pain.

Okay, because I've never been very good at describing places, I can't tell, based on what little I'm given, where in Jerusalem Judd is right now. I could rant about how Ellanjay are also bad at this, in that no matter what, every place is the same, be it a gas station bathroom or the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (aka a sacred religious site bitterly fought over by many Christian sects).

But really I don't need for Ellanjay to start talking about physical scenery, like what the buildings looked like and such. Given what's going on, I'm more concerned about emotional scenery right now. I mean, this is prime dramatic material. Vicki is badly hurt. Though neither she nor Judd are kids anymore (seven-year passage of time), this is something that would freak most people out, whether they're 23 or 103, their loved one being hurt and in pain and they can't help them because they're in a war zone.

So if they talked about it, mentioned the stuff exploding around them, mention the smell of cordite or of burning flesh or whatever, talk about how Vicki keeps moaning and Judd's heart leaps in his chest every time something blows up and he wonders if this is really the I said, that would be some fantastic writing that would give actual insight into Judd's character. I've posted this clip from Children of Men before, but they need not necessarily go that dark. Heck, a damn kid's show about teenagers with attitude punching out rubber-suited monsters while wearing bright spandex, still managed to do a fairly moving scene with ordinary people being forced to stand up and be brave in the face of horrific destruction. Yeah, it's a bit cliché, the whole "I am Spartacus" bit shown in said clip, but there's a reason people use these sort of conventions: when they are done well, they do work. I imagine even if my readers aren't that into Power Rangers** and know next to nothing about the "Countdown to Destruction" two-parter, the clip still had some emotional resonance, even if you don't really know all the characters/context.

But I concluded many books ago that in a choice between "Show and Tell" Ellanjay will always choose "tell" both because it's easier and lazier (Can't pump out a manuscript in 21 days if you do something silly like edit and obsess over the craft), but also because if they really delved into the physical and psychological suffering that would come from being alive during the Apocalypse, their readers might pause and be like, "Holy Hell! This is kind of a horrible belief system, believing that unless you say the precise words with the exact amount of Sincerity demanded, you will be put through all of that and worse if you die." Who knows what hijinks may ensue from there?

After a line of dialogue from Vicki, we get to this paragraph, which, let's just say I pity the poor ghostwriter or whoever had to write it. Because whoever did, had to write a paragraph where Judd thinks about how much he loves Vicki and how it's different from feelings he'd had for other girls (before becoming an RTC, natch), yet at the same time, they had to do it without mentioning that Judd, Saved or pre-saved, might have :gasp: or had carnal feelings towards a member of the opposite sex!

Given that even villainous characters, where the text go out of their way to talk about how evil they are every time they're onstage, can't actually do anything that the cloistered RTC culture might find objectionable (Villains can murder redshirts by the score, but heaven forbid, a villain does something truly evil like use four-letter words, even the mild "hell" or "damn", or implies that he has carnal feelings towards another character and enjoys the act of sex, or imbibes a drop of alcohol), there's no way they would allow even pre-Saved Judd to admit to having feelings of lust towards the opposite sex.

So whoever wrote this was in one helluva bind and most of us would have been hard-pressed to come up with something in that kind of situation. But they really could have tried to come up with something better than this:

Judd couldn’t help thinking how beautiful Vicki was. Before the disappearances he had been attracted to girls who wore all the right clothes. Vicki had told him the only pair of designer jeans she ever owned had been bought at the thrift store near her trailer. Vicki’s inner beauty shone through now, and he couldn’t imagine anyone more attractive.

I suppose I could make one of my many "Judd is Gay" cracks and I have no problem doing so, but I think the problems of the quoted passage go beyond "Judd is a deeply closeted young man, who has had more chemistry with some of the male characters he has shared screen time with, than his designated female love interest." Because I'm like, "Really, Judd?" that's what you noticed about girls before the Rapture, their clothes?" I know someone's going to call me on unfair stereotyping, but I feel a need to remind you that Judd was sixteen at the beginning of the series, and I have a really hard time believing that a completely straight, totally heterosexual hot-blooded sixteen-year-old boy would look at a girl and just see her designer duds, rather than her huge tracts of land or her dirty pillows or something.

Though if we are going to pile onto the whole "Judd is Deeply Closeted" theory, I could point out that stereotype regarding gay men, how they're supposed to be obsessed with designers. But I know, not all Gay dudes are flaming queens (though some are, so much that you're shocked that everyone was shocked to discover that Freddie "Couldn't be Anymore Flaming If I Was Actually On Fire" Mercury was Gay), but I think the creepiness of this scene goes beyond Judd being Gay and ashamed to admit it. Am I supposed to believe that before all this happened, whenever Judd saw a girl walking around, he just say upright piles of clothes moving under their own power, and neither he nor anyone close to him, thought this was the least bit odd/disturbing?

You kind of wonder why Rebelution bothered to conduct their unbelievably creepy/sexist modesty survey. Since even a hot-blooded Unsaved Teenager like Judd was able to look at a girl before his conversion, without thinking about how underneath their clothes, girls aren't wearing clothes, and from there, imagine how good they'd look without their clothes on, apparently this passage in Ellanjay's book proves that modesty isn't something girls need to worry about. A surprisingly feminist message from the trogdolytes who wrote this series! Granted they didn't go so far as to say, "Y'know maybe a girl should be treated with respect, whether she's wearing a burqa or is three-fourths naked," but I take what few victories I can.

Though that part where Vicki talked about how the only pair of designer jeans she ever owned, came from a thrift store near her trailer, that also would have been interesting if they fleshed it out. Like when Vicki and Judd first met, did Vicki feel some resentment? Because Judd was established as coming from a more privileged background, so maybe Vicki would have rolled her eyes and assume he's just another spoiled rich kid, who will grab her ass and later make fun of her when laughing about it with his rich kid friends. Because there's stuff Poor Teens go through, due to poverty, that rich kids don't. Adolescence can basically be summed up as "descent into physical and emotional hell" but it's arguably worse for a poor kid. I mean we all know that kids are compassionate and sensitive to the feelings of others and would never dream of making fun of someone for wearing hand-me-downs or coming to school all smelly, because their alcoholic parents drank the money that was supposed to pay the water bill. As someone who wasn't poor, but was bullied relentlessly from age 11 to 18, that sound you hear is me laughing bitterly.

Egads, I've written this much on the first page alone. Am I going to have to divide this chapter over more than one post? We'll see.

Anyway, not much happens after that. Judd is all manly and carries Vicki (I'm sure the Pieta pose is all nice and martyrrific, but my readers can probably think of easier ways of carrying an injured person than that.) thinks about stuff and that's it.

Lionel's interlude is just a paragraph, so there is really nothing I can talk about. Except we get an example, once again, of Ellanjay's tin ear when it comes to naming foreign or ethnic characters. Maybe it's the Stockholm Syndrome talking but I've come to love these little parts, just love cataloguing all the bad names, while pointing and laughing.

I do a similar thing with celebrity baby names. Every time a celeb has a kid and gives it some weird-ass name, I enjoy a few minutes of endless merriment. Though I don't worry too much about the celebrity kid; North West may face all kinds of issues as a result of being raised by Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, but in all likelihood, as a rich celebrity kid, she'll go to school with other celebrity kids, all of whom will have weird-ass names, so of all the issues North West will face, bullying about her name won't be one of them. Though seriously, North West?! That's the kind of name that's cute for five seconds, but then your poor kid is stuck with it until they turn eighteen, after which, they'll sign legal paperwork and you'll never hear from them again.

Anyway, the name in question is :drumroll: Dr. Shadrach Meshach Lockridge, who is described as a famous black preacher, whose preaching style reminds Lionel of the preachers he'd see when visiting relatives down south. There are just so many clichés/stereotypes to unpack here, but someone else will have to do it, because I'm too busy laughing until I cry tears of joy. Firedrake, I'm sorry for all those times I made fun of you for being able to accept a global dictator riding a giant pig, but not the existence of laser weapons. I'm sorry; I was ignorant and didn't understand. Now, I do. Because even the Epic!Pig!Ride is more believable than someone named Dr. Shadrach Meshach Lockridge. I'm just a little disappointed that Ellanjay didn't manage to fit in the name of the third guy from the fiery furnace story. If you're going to commit, go whole hog on it! Call him Dr. Shadrach Meshach Abednego Lockridge, dammit! And yes, that pun was intended.

Anyway, Lionel's prayer sense starts tingling and he starts praying for Judd and Vicki. I could talk again about the hierarchy in this story, how those lower on the Great Chain of Being often report feeling compelled to pray for those higher up, yet we never see any instances of those higher up feeling compelled to do the same for those further down. But I've talked about it before, so let's get back to business.

So we cut to Judd and Vicki. Not much for me to really snark. Judd's just being all martyrrific, running around trying to take care of Vicki and joining her in praying for God to "Exterminate all the brutes!"

The next part is a longer part with Lionel. Lionel is all walking around and on the front lines, even though you'd think given that he's missing an arm, they'd have him working behind the scenes, keeping the fighters supplied and whatnot. I'd actually understand if Ellanjay had wussed out and just had him deliver ammunition to the defenders, like they did with Judd and Vicki.

He quickly returned to his assigned position and looked for Zeke. Sam told him Zeke was meeting with a Trib Force member. In the past half hour, the ragtag Petra army had fired their DEWs and some bigger guns at Carpathia’s vast army.

“Bet those guys are hot in those black uniforms,” Lionel said.

“I wonder if those tanks are air-conditioned,” Sam said, smiling.

Thought I'd put in this paragraph because even the guys who write the history textbooks that kids are forced to slog through in school, are in awe of Ellanjay's ability to take something inherently exciting (like a battle) and strip away anything remotely exciting or interesting from it, reducing a battle to "they fired their guns at the other guy's armies."

[TANGENT Where I Rant about M. Night Shyamalan]I used to think that M. Night Shyamalan was the Anti-Talent, in that not only is he not talented, but he sucks the talent out of anything and anyone near him, because even when he was basically hand-delivered material that would make a great movie, based off of a television show which had a large, passionate fanbase, great, well-written characters, and fight scenes that would look awesome on the big screen, Shyamalan still managed to screw it up so badly they you're like, seriously, this guy directed The Sixth Sense?! How is that even possible? Just like you still wonder how each of his subsequent films, no matter how bad, still manages to be worse than the one that proceeded it, yet he still manages to find work in Hollywood. It's enough to make you wonder if not only does Shyamalan know where bodies are buried, but if he also has pictures of every studio exec in Hollywood performing an unnatural act of romance with an attractive livestock that they are most definitely not married to, while snorting cocaine off of Jimmy Stewart's skull. There's just no other logical explanation, unless we explore the possibility that after The Sixth Sense, he was replaced by a mirror!verse version of himself, or if, like Frank Miller (at some point in his career), was replaced by a Skrull shapeshifter as forerunner to an invasion.

And maybe since I've never been part of a mass infiltration/invasion, I shouldn't tell the Skrull how to do their job, but I do wonder how replacing Frank Miller or M. Night serves your strategic purposes. I'm just sayin'.

But much as it pains me to admit it, if I was in a Pick Your Poison scenario where it was either Shyamalan (all his post Sixth Sense films, with the exception of Unbreakable. Haven't seen it, but its passionate defenders may convince me to give it a chance) or Ellanjay, I'd go with Shyamalan. As awful as his films may be, most of the time, you can at least enjoy looking at them (they're stupid but pretty) and they often wind up being the best unintentional comedies around, even though Ed Wood still has Shyamalan beat on that front. [/TANGENT]

Though really, you have the bad guys in black uniforms in the desert? I know Nicky has to have horses, because the Bible says so, but is there a verse against his soldiers wearing Earth tones? Yeah, I'm picturing a discussion between GC grunts going down similar to this comedy sketch: Are We the Bad Guys?

[Project Idea TANGENT]
In fact, if any of the readers of my blog or Slacktivist have too much time on your hands and access to equipment needed to make YouTube videos, I've got a suggestion for you: an Office-style sitcom set in the LB-verse with the rank-and-file GC employees trying to do their jobs and keep things going at the End of the World, but also have material in there about office romances and politics. Because like I said, while Ellanjay depict Nicky as running the world with the aid of like five people, ten at the most, anyone with brain cells knows that the operation of that massive an organization would require a massive bureaucracy of rank-and-files, ordinary white-collar types to push around paper and make phone calls in order to get stuff done. Someone has to manage the books, make sure Nicky can get his massive pig and all the machines needed to give everyone the Mark. Not to mention the special scanners that stores would have to have in order to buy and sell things.

Though there would be some differences in tone between episodes with some being about "Will Isabella Barcelona find the perfect Secret Satan gift for her hardass supervisor, Aristotle Athens?" while others it will be more "Holy shit! There are locusts with people faces out there!" But seriously some fabulously talented person out there: make this idea a reality, please! [/TANGENT]

In true Ellanjay fashion, Lionel and Sam aren't actually shooting and firing guns; instead they're sent to retrieve weapons, IDs, and uniforms, and I'm like "Hold on a minute!" I thought this was a siege/stand-off with the RTCs holed up in the stone fortress of Petra, while Nicky's army surrounds them and tries to take said fortress? How is this part, with Lionel and Sam picking stuff off of GC soldiers, supposed to work? It is explicitly established that they are robbing dead GC soldiers, but how exactly did Lionel and Sam get to the soldiers? Either they, in violation of basic military strategy, decided the best thing to do, while under siege, is to leave their massive military fortress and go outside the fortified walls to get to the dead GC, rather than staying behind the walls and using them as cover, while you open fire on them, or some NPC Petran decided to leave the protection of the fortress, so he could bring dead bodies for Lionel and Sam to pick stuff off of. AND NICKY'S MASSIVE STANDING ARMY DIDN'T JUST IMMEDIATELY SHOOT THE IDIOTS STUPID ENOUGH TO LEAVE A FORTRESS DURING A SIEGE OR ARREST THEM?!

Again, when someone whose knowledge of military strategy is mostly from what she's read, here and there, can poke so many holes in your story, YOU FAILED!

Though okay, maybe the siege of Petra is a traditional Hollywood-style siege like Helm's Deep in the Two Towers, and all along, Nicky's Army have been scrambling up and down the wall using ladders and there are trebuchets and catapults and such. I could quibble with that, point out that in real life, sieges were usually "Surround the place and starve the bastards out" rather than "Use all our cool siege tech to bust down walls and have our armored soldiers scramble up ladders while archers shoot arrows at them or defenders pour boiling oil or throw boulders at them, in an awesome scene that would translate well on the big screen," but I'd be willing to go along with a Hollywood-Siege, because it would be a lot more exciting and the heroes would actually be doing stuff as they try to keep the enemies forces from taking Petra. And I know, the idea of Nicky using trebuchets and catapults, instead, technology developed in the twentieth century, would be pretty stupid, but given that he's already using horses for no damn reason, might as well commit and throw in medieval-tech as well! It'd be stupid, but said medieval tech is cool-looking so I'd let it slide, because it's very rare anything cool or exciting every happens in these books.

But we are given no indication in the text that it's a Hollywood-style siege, with good guys trying to in vain to slow the bad guys, who are busted through the outer walls and are scrambling and trying to take the inner ones. As far as I can recall, it's mostly been a siege where "Good Guys fire laser weapons at bad guys (if you're wondering, every time lasers come up in this story, yes, I am thinking of Dr. Evil. I thought you knew by now I was that kind of person)" and "Bad Guys have blast the Good Guys with Nicky giving a speech where he's all 'Peacey McPeacey, Why Can't We Be Friends?' even though it makes no damn sense anymore." When did the actual fighting start? Because things had actual felt kind of casual with Lionel just hanging around listening to that preacher (who you just know will insist on being referred to as Dr. Shadrach Meshach Lockridge rather than just being called Dr. Lockridge, just like Homer Simpson insists that his monogram contain every letter of his name.). You'd think if there was an actual battle raging beyond the walls that Lionel would be a little tense and on edge OR GIVE SOME OTHER INDICATION THAT A MAJOR BATTLE BETWEEN THE FORCES OF GOOD OR EVIL WAS OCCURRING ON HIS DOORSTEP!

In my defense, it was likely when I was in a boredom-induced coma, but still, basic rule of writing fight scenes: make sure the readers know who are the good guys and who are the bad guys, where they are on the field when shit gets real, in the very least, who is attacking and who is defending, and what's at stake if the Bad Guys win.

Anyway, there's a bit with Lionel and a GC soldier. I imagine Ellanjay is going for the same kind of effect akin to The Battle of the Bulge where Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe, acting commander of the 101st is told to surrender by the Nazis, and McAuliffe gives the famous one-word reply: Nuts!

[TANGENT about language] Which you have to admit, language-wise, it's a remarkable show of restraint for a military man dealing with mothereffin' Nazis. Can't help but wonder if the newspapers or whatever, when they reported on this, cleaned up the language a little. Because military men are not a bunch of bluenoses; they swear, a lot. And frankly, I find all those who complain about the characters in movies like Saving Private Ryan using foul language to be incredibly stupid. Shit is blowing up all around them! people are dying with their guts hanging out! I think the people in that situation have earned the right to use whatever language they want!

Unless RTCs feel that everyone, no matter how scared or hurt or desperate they are, even if the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are riding right down their street, they should always sound like a Victorian Lord, regardless of background. Turn to their buddies and be all "I say, Old Sport, this really steams my beans," rather than using the F-bomb or any of its assorted cousins. I'm just sayin': I can think of a lot of reasons why I wouldn't make my kids sit through Saving Private Ryan and language is the least of my concerns. [/TANGENT]

Of course, no matter how much Ellanjay try to play this up, Lionel's blather doesn't sound anywhere near as badass as McAuliffe's one-word reply. But that's because unlike Lionel, who is all smug and sanctimonious, only briefly being bummed out over losing his arm, whereas McAuliffe was trying hold off Mothereffin' Nazis despite being outnumbered 5 to 1 and his forces were woefully undersupplied. I don't even need to tell you that in a badass contest between him and Lionel...okay to be honest, there's no way we could actually call it a contest. Contest implies that both participants have a chance at winning.

Anyway, GC soldier taunts Lionel and shoots him. There's a cliffhanger as we cut back to Judd and Vicki, but eh, I'll just spoil it for you and get Lionel's part over with, by posting the ending to the chapter. I bet you'll be really surprised.

Lionel heard the gunshot as he closed his eyes and flinched. He expected to be lying on the ground with a bullet hole in his chest, but the shot whizzed past him— or through him. He turned to see a penny-sized hole in the sand directly behind him, then glanced back at the shooter.

If that bullet landed there, how did it miss me? Lionel thought.

“Lionel, Sam, get outta there,” someone said behind them. It was Zeke, standing on the crest of a dune.

The soldier fired again while Lionel and Sam turned and walked away.

“Their weapons won’t do a thing here,” Zeke said. “Just wastin’ their ammo.”

“We’ll roll over you and smash you into this desert,” the officer yelled.

“Yeah, I’m sure that’s what you think,” Zeke said, helping Lionel and Sam back to the line. “Your guy’s a loser. Ours is the true Lord.”

Lionel was shaking when he made it back to the line. He found a small hole in the front of his shirt and one the same size in the back.

Like I said before, Ellanjay really are like that annoying kid you played Superheroes with, where no matter what you did, their Hero would suddenly evolve a protection against it, until you're like, "Screw it, I'm playing with someone else." Because the essence of good drama is conflict. It may not necessary have to be "Will Hero save the World?" it could easily be "Will Girl Work up the Courage to Ask Cute Guy out?" but the point is, there are stakes. While we generally know that Hero will win, at the same time, most writers take time to make you care about the Hero and make sure you know the stakes, and make it so that achieving Victory, either costs the Hero something or just requires Hero to dig deep and discover a reservoir of courage or something.

This series is just "God Falls, everyone bad dies!" The heroes don't have to suffer or do anything; whether Rayford accepts a job as Nicky's pilot or spends the End of Days, munching chips in his Lazy Boy, doesn't matter because nothing the characters do, matters! You find yourself rooting for Nicky because the Hero (Zod) is so much more monstrous, but also because Nicky actually has an ounce of initiative. He does stuff like maintain the infrastructure thus preventing more people from dying and burning in Hell like God intended. It's like I and Fred have both said: Nicky is trying to save the world from cosmic forces trying to destroy it and fighting to save the world from destruction generally makes you the hero, no matter how much Ellanjay say otherwise.

At least even though shit would have still worked out in Raiders of the Lost Ark, even if Indy stayed home and graded papers, at least that movie gave us awesome stunts that made it worth a viewer's time. Plus, again, the people who got their faces melted off and died horribly at the hands of a powerful, angry deity WERE MOTHEREFFIN' NAZIS WHO HAD ACTUALLY DONE SOMETHING TO DESERVE IT, SOMETHING BESIDES "NOT PRAYING THE PRAYER WITH THE PRECISE AMOUNT OF SINCERITY DEMANDED!"

Anyway, if you're wondering what happened in Judd and Vicki's little interlude, they got captured by GC forces. And I am so sure that this time, unlike every other time in the past, something will actually happen to the heroes when they're in the bad guys' custody.

Well that's it. I know lots of Simpsons quotes, but I've been watching that show since it premiered when I was five; it's safe to say I'm more Simpsons quotes than man, now. I did find myself referencing the Third Reich more than I intended to in one post. Maybe I should broaden things out a little. As I keep trying to tell idiots on the Internet, y'know Hitler wasn't the only genocidal asshole of history. Heck, even if we limit ourselves to just the 20th century, that still leaves us with plenty of assholes we could compare people to. Just for once, I want someone to compare someone or something they don't like, to Pol Pot! We need to break away from Nazi analogies and Stalin analogies; they're just kind of played out. I'd suggest Idi Amin analogies and Augusto Pinochet ones, but given the USA's history of propping up both regimes, you kind of understand why people stay away from those guys. Don't want to use an argument that your opponent could easily turn against you.

*People use nerd and geek interchangeably, but I define them this way: nerds know useful information. They're the Steve Jobs and Bill Gates of the world; they have great social difficulties, but they'll utilize their useful, albeit specialized knowledge to make themselves filthy, stinkin' rich.

Whereas geeks possess the same social difficulties as nerds, but our command is limited to useless information. 90% of my computer problem solving is "turn it on and off," and 10% is "Panic when that doesn't work!" But I'll go to my grave, being able to hum the Dragon Dagger Theme from Power Rangers and rant about how Kat isn't the embodiment of Satan for breaking up the Tommy/Kim ship.

**Y'all know I love Linkara and I love his "History of Power Rangers" videos as well, especially for the behind the scenes info (how the comedic Super Sentai Go-Onger team was adapted into one of the darkest Power Rangers installations RPM was one of the funniest things ever). Power Rangers in Space is really interesting, because after Turbo, the show was basically on life support. It was generally understood that after In Space, this was it for the show. So the writers involved went all out, culminating in the best ending two-parter episode ever "Countdown to Destruction" where they resolved the conflict and all the dangling plot threads in an awesome epic fashion. In doing so, they managed to bring viewers back to the show in droves and save the series from cancellation.

If you are wondering, the only Neo-Saban series I've seen is Power Rangers Samurai, which just reeks of too many dropped plotlines. I'm just sayin' they were clearly moving towards a redemption arc for Dekker and Dayuu, even though their Sentai counterparts were much darker, but then they just said, "Eh," and dropped the whole thing. Haven't really enjoyed any of the subsequent series because it reeks too much of them trying to bank on nostalgia, rather than do anything new. So since I believe in discontinuity, I mentally rewrite Samurai in my head and have chosen to ignore the Neo-Saban era. It all ended with RPM, dammit!


spiritplumber said...

I posted it earlier today on the older post. More riffing on "There's got to be someone keeping the lights on and the phones talking".

As far as Judd & Vicky, the only excuse I can think of for why he's not fireman-carrying her if she really can't walk is that a fireman carry makes it more likely that an arm or leg wound will open and take advantage of gravity to drain. But given that he wouldn't know how to dress a wound after THREE YEARS OF LIVING IN THE MIDDLE OF A WORLD WAR....

spiritplumber said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
spiritplumber said... Also, this thing!

Finally, happy valentine's day to my favorite snarker!

Firedrake said...

I am told that Stephen Hawking has run over several people, and they reckoned it was deliberate. The chair is not a light thing.

I tend to do the fanfic speculation thing only in works that are definitively over (e.g. because the author is dead), or where I don't care about the canonicity of any future works (I didn't worry about taking Stargate Universe into account when I was playing with Stargate SG-1, and I certainly don't care about what L&J may write in the future).

I wrote a short technical book last year. It's probably going to sell a few hundred copies at most. But I have done my best to make sure that every word is the right word, and I don't even have "working to the greater glory of God" as an excuse!

The phrase "attracted to girls who wore all the right clothes" might have another explanation: he was observing the status signals of economic fitness, i.e. young women who had enough spare resources that they could spend time and money "looking pretty" rather than on something with direct productivity. Reverse peacock.

Certainly my first reaction to Lockridge's name was "what happened to Abednego? Oh, well, he was bad." But then I know a chap with the first names John Paul, who only just avoided also being George Ringo.

Yes, actually, modern tanks do have air conditioning; it kind of comes free with the NBC sealing.

What, that nice Frank (whores whores whores whores kill blood knife whores whores) Miller? (But, y'know, I'm one of those annoying people who saw what was going on in The Sixth Sense early on, and just found it ploddingly obvious.)

Supposedly said at the Battle of Waterloo:
"By gad sir, your leg's off."
"By gad sir, so it is."

spiritplumber said...

I need to write some more about the league of awesome... I've done bits about Dr. Rose and Hasina so far, who else?

Firedrake, good point about ornithology.