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Stripper? I Hardly Even Know Her!
Reader mail-bag:

1. "Tableau," not "tableaux." Got it. I'd blame Sars for not catching that, but you wouldn't believe all the stuff she does catch, so I think it's best to not incur the wrath of the Grammarian Goddess.
2. Best e-mail of the week? This link.
3. Best spam headline of the week? "No More Premature Ejaculat"
4. Forty-seven.

We open with Brother Justin seated in the burnt-out ruins of Saint Chin's of the Holy Immolation, where he delivers an ominous voice-over that consists of a few judicious phrases from taken Revelations 18. "And he cried out with a mighty voice," he cries out with a mighty voice, "saying, 'Fallen! Fallen, is Babylon the great." Hmm. Fallen into a mine, perhaps? "And the Kings of the Earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her, will weep and lament when they see the smoke of her burning." Uh-oh. Has Aragorn been a naughty boy again? As we fade from Brother Justin to a shot of the carnie trucks heading down a dirt road, Justin himself fades from the beginning of the chapter to the end, without so much as a verbal ellipsis to speed us on our way. "Woe, woe, the great city of Babylon," he intones. "For in one hour your judgment has come." Well, actually, it was more like forty-seven minutes. But I'm guessing Brother Justin has never heard of syndication rights.

The trucks continue on down the road, where they run into John Hannah, otherwise known as the cutest little Scotsman in all of Texas. "This the road to Babylon?" asks Samson, despite the fact that even Lila already knows that it is. "Aye," replies John Hannah. "It's just over yonder past the wee little warp core. Turn left at Loch Ness and ye can't miss it." He's laying the accent on pretty thick here, primarily so that we can all get a good laugh when he cocks his eyebrow in response to Samson asking if he's from around here. Mr. Hannah claims to have been born and bred right there in Babylon, and then asks a stupid question of his own by wondering if they're "the carnival" when he's standing six inches away from the giant "Carnivàle" on the side of the truck. We also establish that he's planning on leaving town, but not before he gets the chance to deliver some vaguely creepy dialogue, so as to better set the proper atmosphere for this episode. You know what would have made this scene better? If he'd been carrying one of those bandana-pouches on the end of a stick. Hobos are always funny.

The trucks keep driving, and we get a lengthy wagon train sort of montage, which includes shots of the Cooch girls flirting with John Hannah as they pass, and a pack of dogs running alongside the last truck in line. Eventually they stop somewhere in the middle of nowhere, and everyone piles out to stretch their legs. "What the hell are we doing here?" wonders Random Roustie #3.14159. "Ma says Babylon is cursed," adds Meatloaf's Daughter. Oh, she does, does she? Remember that one later. There's much groaning and belly-aching among the ranks, led primarily by Gordon Gayko, who doesn't seem anywhere near as happy as you'd expect about finding a nice open stretch of desert where he can sun himself on a rock. The lone voice of reason here is Adrienne Barbeau, and if you've seen many of her movies, you know that's probably not a good sign. Samson doesn't care about their gripes, however, and just orders everyone to get to work. It's obvious that he's just as creeped out as the rest of them, though, because he totally fails to use the "Let's shake some dust" catchphrase he's been perfecting recently. By the way, am I the only one who thinks it's odd that Samson wears lifts?

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