Sunday, January 8, 2017

They totally think this song is about them

Sorry, sorry guys. Combination of general laziness and well...let's just say I increasingly question the "Humans are social animals" meme. Because I was ready to slam my head in a car door to make it all stop and really, I wonder if anyone in the family enjoys these get-togethers. Maybe it's one of those things where we do it because culture says you need to do it and everyone assumes that everyone else enjoys it, so they feel they have to suck it up and do so as well. Keep hoping that at some point, we'll break the ice and everyone will be like, "I thought I was the only one," and filled with our newfound wisdom, we'll decide to show how much we really love each other, by get together separately in the privacy of our own homes.

That and well, we must never forget that 2016 was the equivalent of a year-long dumpster fire. Even if we ignore the celebrity deaths, Donald Trump alone makes this year the worst in recent memory. I would forgive the Founding Fathers for so much if they put a loophole in the Constitution that made it so Trump couldn't be president. I wouldn't let them slide on slavery--that's too big--but I'd stop ranting about the Electoral College. In fact, why don't we add an amendment saying that "Everyone can run for president, so long as they are over eighteen and they're not Donald Trump." Though we'd code it to his DNA specifically, so he can't cheat by changing his name and we don't screw over some other guy with the same name who actually would be a decent president. In the unlikely event that one of his descendants runs, like I said it's just for Donald's DNA specifically. Because it's conceivably possible that he could have a grandchild or somebody who actually is a decent human being.

Though given that none of Trump's kids bear any resemblance to their father, I've long suspected there's some Game of Thrones-level shit going on with his wives. Yeah, I know he marries supermodels, which would cancel out a lot of his bad genes, but would it really cancel out all of it?

All right, I'll shut up and get to it.

I've ranted many times about how disturbingly unimaginative Ellanjay are. I will probably rant many more times before this book is finished. I apologize for the repetitiveness, but stand by the general message.

Because again, when asked to write about Heaven, a world where there is no pain or sorrow, where you have nothing but time on your hands to pursue whatever activity interests you, and all earthly quarrels cease, they can't imagine anything except a slightly more amped up version of our current existence. Hence why you have characters talking about how they should take some time off from work to do X and such. Given that everyone is immortal, wouldn't time cease to have any meaning in Heaven? Again, like I said, you have nothing but time. And since there's no need to worry about stuff like how you're going to pay the rent or pay for food or insurance, why couldn't you just take off time whenever you want? Is there some kind of a holy landlord who goes around knocking on doors and saying, "Come up with the money you owe me or I'm throwing you out?" If there is, where are they throwing them out to? Hell? If they're over one hundred and have said The Prayer, wouldn't that be yet another reason why their convoluted theology makes no damn sense?

Of course, all this could have been avoided if Ellanjay had followed the example of other writers who were sensible enough to bow out. Get your characters to the undying lands and fade out from there. But like I said, hubris and avarice did them in.

CAMERON WILLIAMS was up two hours before anyone was expected on his property, which now covered eighty acres and was threatening to have to expand yet again. Daily he and Chloe and Kenny and a couple hundred other staffers hosted the children at what had become known as the biggest day care center in the world.

Have to admit that when I read that bit about how his property was "threatening to have to expand yet again" I pictured Cam-Cam's property as being made up of Audrey IIs. Admit it, it would actually make so much sense, explain how Chloe and Cam-Cam are managing to raise two hundred freakin' kids. The answer is obvious; they feed the bad ones to one of the Audreys. So yeah, I'm starting to wonder if I should regret all the smart-alecky remarks about how I'd use my knowledge of the Bible to corrupt the other kids and get kicked out of that daycare so fast.

I've talked about how incredibly poorly run the MK Daycare center is, so I won't do it again. Plus Ellanjay are being too vague with numbers for me to rant about the child-adult ratio. Just yeah, Ellanjay clearly haven't been around kids, like ever. Probably farmed out the kids to nannies and such, because if this was anywhere near realistic, with actual kids and not pod-bots, the daycare would be like Kurtz's setup in Apocalypse Now. No points for guessing who the severed heads and corpses would be. I'll let you decide who will play the part of Kurtz and who plays Dennis Hopper's character. I'm leaning towards Qasim being Kurtz myself, because again, even though he hasn't done anything deserving of it, they just keep shitting on him. Then again, Kurtz ends up dead, so now I'm conflicted. Someone want to help me out here?

It is kind of weird to think that in Heaven they would need a daycare. You need them in the real world, because parents often have to work for a living and kids are small, noisy, and stupid so you can't just leave them alone, but again, this is a place with no pain and sorrow, where the child can stick his hand in the adder's nest and everything will be okay.

Though yeah, even Ellanjay, in the next paragraph, admit that the most important tenet of the RTC faith is "Thou shalt show reverence unto Rayford and Buck Cameron."

But of course it was more than that. Besides that the kids all seemed to revere and, yes, love him and Chloe— which he accepted gratefully from Jesus as recompense for their giving up their small family in service to Him during the Tribulation— COT had become the most effective salvation ministry anyone was aware of.

Okay, judging by the use of the word "revere," apparently Cam-Cam is Kurtz. Though that part about how they all love him, I'm fighting the urge to make jokes, seeing as they're, y'know, kids. I know, I know, I'm reading too much into it, but given how all the creepy sex stuff keeps showing up in this book, I can't help myself. Though we all know in actuality, Ellanjay view love and revere as synonyms. You know their view: There must be a leader with all power over his followers and that Leader must possess a penis and everyone must obey and never criticize, regardless of how badly the Leader's decisions turn out. Unlike my digression about wolves last week, Ellanjay feel good leadership is about whether people kowtow to you, not about taking care of the people under your command.

Cameron sang and prayed as he strolled the grounds, checking on everything from parking areas and gates to buildings and open areas. Everything seemed in order for their special visitor. Predicting within a few thousand how many might show up was another thing. Only one staffer had informed him and Chloe that he wouldn’t be there, giving no reason, just asking for the day off. Who knew? Maybe he wanted to be there as a spectator. Why else would a person not want to be working today?

Again, they keep proving how disturbingly unimaginative they are, over and over. Because of course, they would still have to worry about parking spaces and gates. I mean, we all know if given a choice between paradise and a parking lot, they would choose a parking lot every time. Even though, since again, this is supposed to be paradise, it seems strange that Ellanjay would want to recreate one of the most irritating aspects of going to a major event: trying to find a legal parking spot. And even though it's paradise and no one wants for anything, they would still have gates to protect against thieves or just the hoi polloi in general.

And we all know the daycare/church/Christian madrassa would look like a Protestant Megachurch rather than say, Notre Dame, or anything actually beautiful to look at. Like I keep saying, this is supposed to be Heaven, where you have nothing but time and resources. So wouldn't you really go all out on aesthetics, since you no longer had to worry about money?

Sometimes I find myself longing for the days in which the Church was the only game in town for artists/musicians/artisans. I know there was a whole lot of bad stuff went on when the Church ran the show and I'm glad to live in a democracy, but again, all the really good Christian art seems to have come from that era. Back then you couldn't just slap a Jesus Fish on a piece of crap and call it a day. If whoever commissioned you, didn't find your work to their liking, they would be like, "Tough," and move on to the next starving artist in line. Competition only strengthens the craft and modern day Christian Art™ suffers from a serious lack of it.

Oh and I'll spoil it for you. The hold-out staffer is Qasim. I know it's supposed to be proof that he's a hardened reprobate, deserving of nothing but our scorn, but I've already made my views on him clear many times. Just GTFO, Qasim. Don't try to kiss up and earn the favor of bullies; it's not worth it.

Then we cut to Kenny-boy.

Things were different between Kenny and Ekaterina by the time he arrived at her place that morning. He was struck that they seemed to look at each other differently. She looked him full in the face, her eyes not wavering from his.

I'm wondering if they put in that last sentence in anticipation of dirty perverts like me. I'll assume that Kat proceeds to fall down an open manhole, because you should really really focus when walking down the street. Though maybe Kat is secretly hoping in Heaven, she finally got her seventh birthday wish and is now one of those kids from Village of the Damned. That would be nice, if she proceeded to make Kenny's head explode.

They talk for a bit, Kat's parents give them their blessing and we cut to the Steele family. Ray-Ray, Chloe, Cam-Cam, and Saintly Irene are hanging out, talking about Kenny's fixation with crush on Kat. It is really quite dull, except for the part where Saintly Irene (or one of them, it's hard to tell with the lack of dialogue tags) is like "And Kenny's got designs on her?" Who wants to tell them that when people say "They have designs on someone," it's rarely a good thing. It's usually the kind of thing said by Villain's in thigh-high stiletto boots.

Those of you who think I am reading too much into it, well, here's the first paragraph of the next section with Kenny-boy.

When Kenny and Ekaterina walked in, everyone’s response was Kenny’s worst nightmare. It was painfully plain that they had been talking about whom he was bringing to breakfast. Everyone had gone mute and studied Kat, reading way more into this than it was worth— at least yet.

Given that the blood of Rayford Steele and Cameron Williams flow in his veins, it's not too surprising that everyone is obsessed with him. And of course, no one would just assume that Kat and Kenny are friends and decided they wanted to hang out and see Noah together. Or that they could merely be exchanging long protein strings. It's probably a case since Ellanjay can't imagine hanging out without a woman and being friendly to her without wanting sex from her, of course, their characters would feel the same.

And we get a cameo from Bruce "Dead and Useless" Barnes.

“Kenny,” Bruce said, “I haven’t seen you in forever. You know you’re named after me, don’t you?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And that I performed your parents’ wedding?”

“I know that too, sir. Good to see you.”

“You don’t need to blush, Kenny Bruce,” Bruce said. “I’m not suggesting anything.”

"I'm just curious as to whether you like films with gladiators."

:shudders: Yeah, I'm wondering if they will ever stop with the creepy sex stuff. Though I thought that since Bruce died before Kenny was born, he hadn't seen Kenny at all. Though maybe it's more, "Hey I haven't seen you in a few days," kind of thing, which would make some sense.

Bruce's Nameless Wife scolds him. I still remain appalled at the sheer laziness in that they can't even bother to give her a name. C'mon just give her the first woman's name that comes to mind. You don't even have to do a Google search. I thought about naming her Selina Kyle out of spite, but that would mean Bruce Barnes is Batman and there's no way he is Batman; he's the absolute negative of everything about Batman.

Kenny's all "We're just friends," and Bruce Barnes fills the all-important part of loudly proclaiming how perfect they are for each other, because the Right believes loudly saying something makes it true:

“Yeah,” Bruce said, chuckling. “That’s some radiant friend. You two couldn’t look more enamored with each other if you were posing for wedding pictures.”

Uh, no one uses the phrase "radiant friend" unless said friend is Marie Curie or...I'd make a radium girls joke, but given what happened to them, it just feels too sad. At least, Marie Curie had two Nobels to show for it.

Kenny talks for a bit and finally Noah shows up. Sadly, the description doesn't enable me to make Ho Yay jokes like that time with Rayford and David.

Where there had been a loud hum of activity throughout the Williams acreage, now silence pervaded. No one spoke; no one moved. Everybody turned as one and stared toward the main entrance, where a lone figure strode purposefully onto the grounds.

He wore a colorful robe with a wide blue sash, and his white hair and beard contrasted with his robust appearance.

For my own benefit and because I'm a huge Simpsons geek, I'll picture Noah as The Sea Captain. Your call to which character he'd say, "Y'arr that'll replace that whale in me nightmares."

And that's it for this week. I know wussy snark, but cut me some slack here. I'm still suffering from Holiday-related trauma. Why can't we have a holiday where we give each other gifts and just leave each other the hell alone? No religious or family-based guilt, just all the fun of getting presents.


Melvina said...

If Kat had a personality I'd feel sorry for her getting so involved with this family... Also since when is constantly making eye contact with someone endearing? What do they talk about? Do they have any inside jokes? Do they have a favorite board game? Or do they like to cook together? Wait... The most cooking folks do in this world is steam some vegetables... Do they even use seasonings??

Well, going by Jenkins' naming conventions, may I suggest the name Nadia for Bruce's wife? It's an anagram of Diana which is the name of Jenkins' wife and Bruce feels like a self-insert for the author, albeit on a much smaller scale than our glorious protagonists...

What? I at least gave it more thought than Jenkins did! Also I'm going to pretend that she's an artist who over the decades created a large collection of private paintings depicting roast beef and ham and seafood and other meats all in their most succulent, juicy, and delicious glory in homage to a bygone era.

Lodrelhai said...

"Unlike my digression about wolves last week, Ellanjay feel good leadership is about whether people kowtow to you, not about taking care of the people under your command."

Clarification: Anything a "good" leader does (good here defined as whoever they say is appointed by zod) is considered by default to be taking care of the people under their command. Sort of like how anything zod or turbo Jesus do is by default good. The power of the person determines the appropriateness of the act. Things only get screwed up because their followers don't worship them enough in just the right way.

Firedrake said...

Deciding not to believe that Family Togetherness Is Good is a very hard thing to do if one's been brought up with it, but I don't know anyone who's been harmed by making that leap.

But of course there are landowners in L&J!heaven. I'm faintly surprised there isn't chattel slavery.

And cars, obviously.

Maybe someone should write a filk of "Just Glue Some Gears On It (And Call It Steampunk)" - just slap a fish on it and call it Christian…

I have a new technique for predicting what will happen in these books. Just think of what your oldest and nastiest relative would consider fun, and that's what it is. So of course the kid has to be embarrassed in front of his family ("he's got a girl…friend" - um, so?)

spiritplumber said...

Would they have seasonings?

Good question. Everything seems pretty bland and everyone is vegetarian but not vegan (people do eat milk and butter, although we're not told about eggs).

Usual minific from me to try to answer that question: