Sunday, April 23, 2017

This Song and Everything Else Is All About Rayford! (Chapter 30, Part I)

Happy Sunday, everybody!

I should learn to watch what I say, not just because I swear too much or make too many juvenile "Character X is Gay" or "That's what she said" jokes. A mere couple of weeks ago, I said this:

Thing is, we haven't actually seen much of Buck or Rayford in this book. Yeah, we've gotten some cameos here and there, but most of the time, if Kenny-Boy isn't the POV character, Creepy Raymie is. So this makes me wonder if I need to rethink the great chain of being in the LB-verse. Do Rayford and Buck lose their standing once TurboJesus kills everyone? Though it could be since Kenny-boy has the blood of both Buck and Rayford flowing through his veins that makes him a veritable LB-verse Voltron, where the combo makes him even more powerful than Rayford and Buck are individually.

I know it's very unlikely that Ellanjay wrote this book with me in mind, but I wonder if they somehow anticipated my complaints. Because this week, it's nothing but Rayford Steele. :whimpers:

I freely admit that I need to cut back on my swearing, but I also believe in using the simplest, most concise word to describe something, and the simplest, most concise word that describes Rayford, is Asshole. He is just such a goddanged insufferable Asshole, so much so that I have to believe that he shapes the very reality he inhabits, simply because if he didn't, well, even his own mother would punch him in the face every time he smugly strolled towards her. In fact, while I try not to overuse words, the word "smugly" should be placed in front of every verb if the sentence is about Rayford. Something like, "Rayford smugly walked down the street, smugly thinking about how hard it is to be humble, when he's perfect in every way," or "Rayford smugly sat on the toilet and smugly took a crap." I'm exaggerating because that's how I roll, but it just so aptly describes Rayford.

As I've said before, you can have asshole characters in entertainment. In Seinfeld, pretty much all the characters are assholes, but it worked because the people involved, both on the writing and acting side, knew that these characters were assholes. Or you could have a character who is an asshole, yet is so over-the-top and audacious in his/her assholery that in doing so, they achieve a certain grandeur. Think of Black Hat Guy from xkcd or Mike from Shortpacked!.

Or for those wanting a character who isn't from a webcomic, think Doctor Doom. Comic Book! Doctor Doom is so theatrical, so over-the-top and operatic when it comes to the scale of his plans that there will probably never be a movie version that would capture him in all his glory. Doctor Doom isn't content to merely go to eleven; Doctor Doom goes to twelve!

Whereas Rayford, like so far every film adaptation* of Doctor Doom, is a lazy, whiny pissant who never comes close to justifying the worship/awe everyone seems to have towards him.

Now that I've lectured everyone's ears off, let's get to the actual book. I won't deny that at points, the sheer amount of fractal wrongness in this chapter causes me to stroke out for a bit. So if I place a quote with little, if any, commentary attached, understand that I know it's wrong, but there's so much wrong I don't know where I'm supposed to begin dealing with it.

Anyway, here's the opening:

THE UNIQUE ministry the Lord had assigned Rayford Steele and his team in Osaze had gone more swimmingly than any project Rayford could recall, but that very fact niggled at him every spare moment. Had he erred in believing that this period, this millennial kingdom with Jesus on the throne of the world, would be a time of unmitigated peace?

So things are going well, but that bothers Rayford because it's a confirmation that this era is indeed, one of peace and prosperity? At least it is, so long as you don't dissent from the party line, but we already knew that.

I know Ellanjay and by extension, their Mary Sues, consider peace to be inherently evil, but I thought they were like Hank Hill, all "It's Jesus-Peace, not Hippie-Peace."

People everywhere are lining up to hear the words of St. Rayford Steele and convert in droves, but that bothers him for some reason. Because I'm that kind of person, I'll assume what bothers him, is that because they convert, they won't wind up in Hell, and Rayford won't be able to think about all those sinful sinners burning forever as he masturbates. Yeah, plenty of other people will wind up in Hell, but the mass conversions mean that there won't be as many agonizing screams of the damned for Rayford to get off on.

I suppose I should apologize for having written the above remarks, but I won't.

On a similar joke, I'll let you guys guess how long I laughed juvenilely at the next line I'll quote.

For if the Lord Himself was in charge, why did Rayford and his little band need a rear guard? From whom were they being protected?

No matter how old I get, part of me always has the same juvenile sense of humor as a thirteen-year-old boy. Though in my defense, the previous line had a clause in there about how "that angelic visit from Anis had both inspired and rattled Rayford." And given how much Anis sounds like Anus...:several minutes of Beavis and Butthead laughter:

Okay, to be fair, Anis is an actual Arabic name, but it's just one of those things where that phrase followed so soon, by a sentence asking if Rayford and his little band need a rear guard? :more B&B laughter: Hey I already admitted I have the sense of humor of a thirteen-year-old boy. It's like a panel cited by Superdickery, where as if the character being named The Gay Desperado isn't snicker-worthy enough, they follow it up with the line, "He's coming through the back door."

Next paragraph has a line about how "Everyone had been affected by the drought and famine that had resulted from Egypt's disobedience." I spend several minutes, not making juvenile sex jokes, but rolling my eyes and going, "Yeah, I'm fairly certain that an area having literally no food and water, would be affected somehow by all of it." And by affected, I mean, people would die in droves. Though as said before, since the boundaries of countries are determined more by political maneuverings and not by there literally being massive alligator-infested moats on said boundaries, again, why have the Egyptians stayed? Again, it sucks being a refugee, but dying of thirst or starvation sucks even more. If it comes down to A) Stay and Die or B) Flee and Possibly Live, most would choose option B.

It soon became apparent to Rayford, however, that those with natural bodies— himself, Chaim, and Mac— had way less stamina than the glorifieds. Without consulting anyone else, Rayford began planning a long break after what he expected to be a huge meeting in Siwa the next evening. The naturals needed it, and perhaps some respite from the work would calm his troubled mind.

Successful as it was, the work was not easy, partly because Rayford and the others remained committed to living in the motor home. They could afford to stay elsewhere, but crowded as it was, it seemed the most prudent use of their resources.

Yeah, I really believe Rayford is planning a long break despite all the work that needs to be done, because he has less stamina and is genuinely tired. We all know what a modal of good work ethic he's been throughout the series.

Though never let it be said that St. Rayford and the others aren't being martyred for their faith. They have to stay in a motor home with all the comforts and amenities of home! The Egyptians have it easy, living in a desert environment where every drop of water has to be rationed, because Zod took away all the water, and there's so little food that...I'm thinking the situation in Egypt is basically like conditions in Leningrad during the Nazi Siege, only on a wider scale with much less ice involved. For those of you who don't know just how freakin' bad the Siege of Leningrad was, let's just say when the authorities find themselves classifying Cannibalism into two categories, one being Corpse-Eating and the other being People-Eating, you know shit has gotten unbelievably, appallingly real.

Continuing with the general trend that the MK is a more amped-up version of all the annoying nuances of Earth, of course, they can't check into a hotel room because they have to conserve their resources. Ellanjay are probably giving themselves big thumbs up for having Rayford and Co. stay in an RV, but I'd bet that a hotel room would be a heckuva lot more efficient, providing much more comfort and sapping fewer natural resources than the camper. RVs, after all, are about the size of the Lincoln Memorial and have pretty much the same fuel efficiency of the Lincoln memorial.

Also, the batteries need to be hooked up and recharged, unless the characters plan on living without AC or electric stoves or any comforts of modern life. Some have a shower and a sink, but the water for those isn't magicked up out of the ether; they do have to be periodically refilled and with Rayford, Chaim, and Mac alone (ignoring the various glorifieds with them), they would probably burn through their water pretty fast. In a country where there's no water, that would kind of be a bad thing. And most RV toilets are chemical ones which have to periodically be cleaned out. I'll be charitable and say that maybe the Glorified have transcended the need to poop and pee, but Rayford, Mac, and Chaim haven't.

I looked it up and apparently in addition to the three characters mentioned, we've got Irene Steele, Token Jew, and Mr. and Mrs. Barnes along for this trip. I've seen some bigass RVs, but housing seven people under one? It is possible, but I can't help but think that the amount of fighting, over who hogged the bed sheets or who took too long in the shower and used up the water, or who ate the last of what...Let's just say the WWE wishes it could be this raw.

I suppose someone will point out that Hotels are considerably bigger than RVs, but I still stand by my statement that if you crunched the numbers, taking into account the amount of space along with the number of bodies it can hold, it would still be more efficient than an RV. If not, it would definitely be much more comfortable.

Chaim talks about the upcoming meeting in Siwa and how there will be protestors. I roll my eyes, because we all know Ellanjay would, in true Rightwing fashion, either shout over their opponents and refuse to let them say anything (we've already seen Token Jew do that in an earlier chapter), cut their mikes, bar them any kind of entry, or cancel the meeting entirely because of some bullshit safety concerns.

For the record as a citizen of a state that's pretty much the buckle of the Bible Belt, governed pretty much by the Good Ol' Boy Network, where one of our representatives is this fuckwit, I know what I'm talking about. Again, for people who so loudly champion Free Speech, they always seem to turn tail and run as soon as anyone says, "You're being a fuckwit." For all their railings against Safe Spaces and SJWs, the Right is made up of the most whiny, hypersensitive bunch of crybabies ever.

For those who clicked on the link, Cracked really isn't exaggerating Markwayne Mullins's awful by much and I say that as someone represented by him. Also, while I know Cracked isn't the bestest, most scholarly news source around, I do feel that they should get more credit than what they are given, because they've taken on some pretty serious shit that most media sources wouldn't touch with a thirty-nine and a half foot pole, like this article on pedophilia and how our unwillingness to even talk about it, beyond a superficial "It's Evil!" makes the problem even worse. To quote the opening paragraph to the article, which can be applied to a lot of issues:

Before we get started, can we all agree that there's a difference between trying to understand something and condoning it? There's nothing on Earth so awful that we should avoid talking about it completely. If anything, the more scared you are of a thing, the more you should try to understand it. Talking about a subject like pedophilia isn't going to make it worse. But refusing to talk about it -- or accusing those who do of glorifying it or normalizing it -- definitely will. No problem has ever been solved with ignorance.

But as they're hanging out, the awful news about Kenny-boy arrives via, and I shit you not, fax machine. I suppose I could go to madness trying to work out how a fax machine on an RV would work, but I'm more like, "Uh, I'm fairly certain email was a thing when this book was published." :goes to Google: According to Google, it was released on April 3, 2007, so hell yeah, email was a thing! But for some reason the news couldn't be sent via a mass email; it had to be done via tech that only a handful of people use anymore.

The general failure to anticipate basic advances in technology, is nothing new when it comes to Ellanjay. As I've said before, no one writing a story set in the future or the not-so distant future, manages to bat a thousand when it comes to technology, but Ellanjay fail at so many things that I'm sure as heck not going to give them any slack about this.

After everyone reads the document, probably with plenty of "Oh mys" and pearl-clutching, Rayford says this bit of dialogue, which is so clunky, I pretty much have no choice but to post it.

When the others had read the document and Rayford had told them what Chloe had said, he added, “There is no question Irene and my daughter and I are biased, so I would ask that we simply accede to my grandson’s request that we covenant together in prayer and seek the Lord over this.”

And by covenant together in prayer (whatever that means), Rayford means "Everyone clap your hands if you believe in fairies!"

Okay, that's probably unfair to both Peter Pan and J.M. Barrie. They both have a more coherent theology.

Though of course, we can't have something like this.

Rayford: Hey God, is any of this BS about my grandson true?!

God: NO!

And from there have them resume their ritual self-flagellating over how hard it is to be humble, when they're perfect in every way.

Instead, we get this:

And so it was that Rayford and Irene and Chaim and Tsion and Mac and the Barneses knelt and prayed. Tsion began, and then Chaim, and soon all were praying at the same time. Several minutes later they prayed in succession again, but Rayford noticed a change. Whereas they had begun haltingly, seeking God’s wisdom, asking Him to shed light on the truth, now they seemed to be praying for Kenny, for strength, for endurance. One by one, those with glorified minds and bodies— those who had been in heaven— expressed in their prayers that the charges against Kenny did not resonate with them.

I'm assuming Ellanjay mean for this to a grand "I am Spartacus!" moment, but it doesn't work. Spartacus and those standing up for him, were legitimately underdogs, as in they were slaves being brutally oppressed by a massive empire risking their lives with their defiance, not underdogs as in the Mighty Ducks sense. Since the RTCs are pretty much running everything and occupy all the places of power, serving as Brownshirts for the Theocratic Regime, this wargle-bargle about how they are just sooo persecuted at the hands of others, what with their demands for the rights afforded to them as citizens, comes across much like a playground bully who, even as his undersized victim lies on the ground, spitting up blood, whines about how much it hurt their fists to whale on said victim. Or to put it in song by Weird Al form, Why does this always happen to me?!

Again, when a show geared towards sugar-high eight-year-olds, understands and pulls off the "I am Spartacus!" moment better than you, you need to hang your heads in shame.

Bruce Barnes's Still Nameless Wife actually speaks, using actual dialogue, not just narrative summary, leading them all in prayer on behalf of Kenny-boy. Ellanjay still can't be bothered to give her a name or make any mention of what happened to Bruce "Useless" Barnes's kids (as I recall, the wife and kids were raptured), but hey.

:looks ahead: Given how I've managed to type this much about just a few pages and we have many, many more to go, I think I'll just call it quits this week, even though we haven't finished the chapter. I try to keep my snarks at a readable length and this one...let me just repeat what I said earlier about how Rayford Steele is the smuggest smugger that ever smugged. Probably even his stream of urine is smug somehow.

Though for those of you quivering in Antici-Pation about what comes next, I'll provide a brief spoiler as to what you have to look forward to: apparently Rayford Steele is so dumb that you could write "Free Candy" on the side of your windowless van and he'd fall for it for all eternity, not just when he's a kid. He would die if you put scratch 'n' sniff stickers at the bottom of a swimming pool, whether it had water or not. He would sell both his kidneys on the Internet and be proud of the deal he just made. And he does all this without saying, "Hold my beer," to someone first.

*I've been wondering if there isn't some kind of curse on the Fantastic Four franchise, making it impossible to make a good movie out of those characters. Because when the shitty unreleased Roger Cormon version is considered to be the best film adaptation, you know a franchise has problems. I'd wonder if it's the Angry Spirit of Jack Kirby interfering, but they've managed to make good film adaptations of some of his other characters :cough: Captain America :cough: so maybe it's not that.

Though even if Jack Kirby had gotten all the credit/royalties due to him, I can't help but think that his spirit will still be angry. I'm totally on Team Give Jack Kirby Like All The Royalties! because nearly every character in Marvel's stable who wound up being worth a damn, was created at the hands of Jack Kirby. Jack Kirby was so damn influential in the comic world that the comic book era should be divided up into BK and AK or Before Kirby and After Kirby.

Guy was such a character-creating, artistic machine that I've wondered if he wasn't some kind of alien android or something sent to Earth to show what our world could be like, if we embraced Kirby and his ideals. But instead, we screwed him over, so the aliens are like, "Nope. We were going to give you cars that get hundreds of miles to the gallon, intergalactic spaceships capable of reaching the farthest limits of space within hours, robots that can pass the Turing Test, AND a cure for all forms of cancer, but clearly you're not worth of it. Enjoy your world of shitty reality TV shows and wars created as paybacks for problems that resulted from previous wars. Because throwing matches on a regional powderkeg will totally work this time!"


spiritplumber said...

Well, it's all desertic, there's no water.... there's this very large vehicle moving around inducting people into a cult...

It's not the siege of Leningrad, it's Bizarro Fury Road.

What we do not see is The Other Light improvise itself into a disaster response organization, using cells outside Osaze to bring food and water into the blighted areas, deploying engineers and workers to dig deep wells, scouring pre-Rapture literature for how desert cultures used to live so that valuable water-conservation skills can be re-taught to the locals...

The unique situation in Osaze would encourage the rebirth of a separate culture; we can imagine a TOL upper echelon trying to take advantage of this, maybe supporting learning ancient Egyptian history and encouraging the worship of the old gods, to see what happens...

The reemergence of a desertic biome has the few, but hard-working, TOL biologists and climatologists working overtime to rediscover this environment before it goes away...

TOL truckers and pilots bringing in supplies are also handling the outflow of refugees from areas too dry to be helped, who will need assistance in resettling elsewhere...

Kingdom Come is a wonderful story of humanity's resilience against the greatest monster of all, if one reads between the lines :) Threads 6 through 8 are relevant to this. By the end of the Millennium, Osaze/Misrayim has been retaken by The Omega Legacy subfaction, and has developed its own mix of cultures. The cities are all about conventional high tech, and capitalism: every school has a makerspace, there is stiff competition between startups, and if you don't have bitcoin on your card you basically don't exist. Outside the cities, since the country is still under Divine punishment by drought, the world's only deserts exist: people living there have gotten used to it and have revived historical (but not very accurate, think SCA!) reconstructions of various desert dwelling cultures, including obviously that of ancient Egypt. This includes fictional cultures such as the Fremen from Dune. Misrays are a hardy people, having survived a prolonged drought and even the Ten Plagues redux when they briefly refused Christians the right to preach. Their national holiday is the Day of Perseverance. Misrays older than 100 keep existing through cybernetics, but this eventually causes body deterioration, so there are a few heads in jars controlling robots around.

Mouse said...

Re: Bizarro Fury Road:

You have no idea how much I love all the visuals that idea produces. Now I'm wondering which character is the bald, white dude who is all, "I live. I die. I live again!"

spiritplumber said...

Hmm, if it's all topsy turvy anyway.... how about Cendrillon?

(I need to write more about her).

While Rayford goes off to bravely fight for Immortan Jesus by using up a lot of water in a country that is starved of it, I'd like to imagine Sarsour and Mudawar organizing a TOL relief effort, since they are in Cairo, it's probably where supplies collected by hardworking TOL cells in Europe and elsewhere in Northern Africa arrive, get past whatever anti-smuggling system that the newly imposed Christian government has, and are sent out in armored convoys or in unmarked cars where they are most needed. All while Abdullah remains completely clueless about the Theological Training Institute being a front for the underground monorail, as it were.

Firedrake said...

Hey, Rayford, God didn't tell you to have an elite personal guard (rear or otherwise). You came up with that all on your own.

The RV obviously runs on Jesus Power. Combined with extra-polluty diesel, of course, because lung disease means AMERICA!

It came in on a fax, it must be true.

Mouse said...

Have to say, spiritplumber, the stuff I love most about your headcanons, is all the bits with the Satanic NWO or the TOL working behind the scenes to get stuff done, while the RTCs have their circle-jerk. I just assume that if anything works in the LB-verse, it's because of all the godless heathens who immediately mobilize and get to work, while the Tribbles smug around.

Because like I've said before, no matter how many massive world-ending events, Nicky manages to keep the power on and get supplies to where they need to be, regardless of how much Event X would have completely disrupted air, land, and sea travel. Again, we had an RTC administration that couldn't come up with a plan for a disaster they had a week's notice on. :cough: Hurricane Katrina :cough:

I do wonder if Bush II doesn't periodically look up at the sky and thank good that Katrina hit in 2005 rather than before. That disaster was the beginning of the end for his administration and probably would have torpedoed his chances at getting reelected, if it hadn't had the courtesy to wait. Though again, now that we're under a guy who makes us fondly nostalgic for Bush II...I think I'm going to cry for awhile.

spiritplumber said...

Thanking Yahweh about a natural disaster not messing with his reelection chances does sound like a GWB thing to do, yes.

I've done a little bit of work on disaster preparedness/management, and have a fraction of an idea of the effort in planning, creativity and sheer perseverance that is involved.

On the RTC side, the only person who seems to have half a clue about logistics in a crisis is Chloe, who ends up running the international commodity co-op (and, best as I can tell, about a tenth of the Earth's economy by the end), off screen.

I gotta wonder what the Glorified template does to the brain of someone who's obviously clever and competent... hopefully it doesn't look too much like Harrison Bergeron!

Incidentally, Jerry Jenkins has come to agree with the notion that Carpathia's indwelling by Satan crippled his ability to think like a modern human.

Now I wonder if it's worth writing about the TTI guys...

The next chapter should, by any right, be an enormous trap if the base was being run by The Omega Legacy rather than by The Only Light.

spiritplumber said... Looks like someone else caught the dot, so to speak :)