Holiday Greetings From The Zombie Apocalypse

In the spirit of full disclosure, I first posted this in December of 2012 – zombies were all the rage and life was simpler.  I have written several more installments because I liked Bobby, Earl and the zombies.  These have yet to be published, but will be in the days/weeks to come – I promise.   

black eyed peas
I wouldn’t want to imply that The Olive Garden uses dried black eyed peas from Goya, but it seemed more appropriate than most of the junk in my stock of pics.

We were looking for some food in the kitchen of an Olive Garden outside of what was once Durham, North Carolina.  It was supposedly December 25th – at least that’s what Earl said.  The calendar was pretty much useless by that point.  Days and nights were spent fighting the undead as they lurched and hissed all around us.  The sound of their clicking teeth took the place of sleigh bells and Bing Crosby.

I tightened the grip on my ugly stick and glanced at a zombie that was inching closer.  This one looked like she had been an obese woman in her late fifties when she turned.  Stalking the planet for the brains of the living might’ve been the one diet and exercise program which had actually worked for her.  Her clothes hung loosely on her now, she had lost one of her scuffy slippers and the remaining one was barely hanging on.  A couple of curlers hung comically from her foul, matted hair.  She wasn’t one of the fast ones.  I stole a glance at Earl.

“You telling me it’s freakin Christmas today?”

“I think so, Bobby.  I might be a day or two off, though” he replied.  “Feels cold enough to be December, don’t it?”

I shrugged my agreement to him and turned my attention back to Francine.  Earl and me took to naming them a while back.  It made things a little less tedious and could actually help if things got a little too crowded.  Housewife-looking zombies, and there seemed to be quite a few of ‘em, were usually called Francine or Edna.  Younger ones were named Junior or Sally Mae, depending on their gender.  I tried to give foreign-looking ones a name that would match up with their likely country of origin.  Earl’s not all that creative so he names all the foreign ones Saddam, whether they look Middle Eastern, Asian or whatever.  A young zombie of Asian descent would be “Saddam Junior” according to Earl’s rule book.  Naming the young zombies is real important, since they tend to move faster’n the older ones.  I know that this aint politically correct, but when you’re about to take a Lousiville slugger with spikes in the end of it across their chops, you don’t waste much time worrying about pissing off Miss Manners.  I’m pretty sure Miss Manners got herself chewed up a long ways back anyway – likely ’cause she hadda hold her pinky out when she was swingin’ her lacrosse stick at the undead.

Francine was edging closer.  She’d slowed down when she paused to look at some shiny, swollen cans of crushed tomatoes on the floor near her feet.  These zombies aint exactly like the pretend ones we used to see on TV.  They’re hungry alright, but they can be distractable.  Shiny stuff, brightly colored stuff – they’re drawn to it like lake carp.  Eventually their appetites get the better of ‘em though, and they start back on their quest for the flesh of the living.  Francine had lost her interest in the puckered cans and was heading back my way.

The beautiful thing about zombies is they got none of what you call protective reflexes.  They don’t flinch or duck or nothin’.  They’ll walk right up to you no matter what position you’re in.  I was standing there looking like a major league slugger at the plate with the bases loaded and here comes Francine.  Her head was a far sight bigger’n a softball and moving slow.  Her arms were up though, so I switched from my Sammy Sosa stance over to a modified Paul Bunyan.  I swung like I was piecing out a sequoia and one hit was all it took.

“When you’re done dancin’ around with Edna over there, gimme a hand with this stuff and let’s get back to camp” Earl called.  ”The girls’ll wonder where the hell we are.  You know how they worry”

“Her name’s Francine, Earl, and I don’t dance.”

I stepped around her, noticing for no particular reason that her second slipper had finally fallen apart.  I found a couple of cartons of dried spaghetti without too many mouse turds in them.  Things were looking up for Christmas dinner.



14 Seahorse Court

(Image from skyscrapercity dot com)
(Image from skyscrapercity dot com)

Black stared out the window at Arnie’s house next door.  Nothing had changed since the last time, but he looked anyway.  The caution tape twisted in the gentle morning breeze.  Black’s gaze followed the yellow stripe from the chain link fence to the scrub palmetto in the back of Arnie’s yard, then to where it disappeared on the far side of the house.

He pulled a grapefruit from the mesh bag on the counter and twisted half on the dull spike of the old Pyrex juicer.  The cigarette smoke curled past his ear on its way to the ceiling.  He scooped two seeds and tossed them in the sink on his way to the freezer.

Liana had harped at him about smoking in the new house.  It was funny; she’d smoked like Chernobyl when he’d first brought her over from Belarus, twelve years earlier.  Black could still see her in his mind, sitting on the sofa in the old house chain smoking and learning English from watching the soaps.  She said if she enjoyed shivering, she could have stayed in Belarus.  Eventually Liana convinced Black to take the early retirement package. They sold the house in Bloomfield and moved to Florida.  Now she was gone.

Black sat in the silence, drinking his breakfast of vodka and grapefruit juice.  The sinkhole had swallowed the back half of the place next door, taking Arnie’s wife and her beloved Pomeranian, Buttons, to their deaths.

From his screened porch, Black could see into Arnie’s living room and what remained of the bath.  There were hand towels hanging on the rack next to the sink and half  a roll of toilet paper still on the spindle.  He felt like a voyeur staring into the empty house.  He regarded his ice cubes – already fading in the early heat of the day.  He took a swallow and felt the cool burn of acid and alcohol.  Black chased the mouthful of cocktail with a long pull on his cigarette and gazed back out at the hole.

Let’s drop iPhone, and Call It a Royale With Cheese

“Vincent, I already told you, I aint giving you no muthuh-fuckin massage!” (Image from Miramax Films)

iPhone ads are gradually destroying my perceptions of some great actors.

First, Samuel L. Jackson is chatting with Siri about recipes and organic ingredients for his risotto.  I realize that Mr. Jackson is an actor, and it’s not fair to only think of him as Jules Winnfield in “Pulp Fiction”.  I also realize that Samuel is not necessarily interested in people thinking that he is Mr. Winnfield.  He’s been in plenty of movies since then, playing all sorts of characters.  Clearly he is his own man and is not to be defined by one single character.  I’m also fairly confident that the good folks at Apple paid him an enormous sum of money to do that commercial, and as such, he was obligated to follow their script.  Despite all that knowledge, it breaks my heart to see him chatting it up with an automated phone-chick for grocery shopping advice.

I like advertising to take bigger chances.  As Jah as my witness, I swear I would go buy myself an iPhone within the hour if Mr. Jackson as Jules Winnfield was talking to Siri.

Winnfield (speaking into his iPhone with a look of cool annoyance on his face and his Jeri-curled locks looking like a black Medusa) : “Bitch!  Where can I get some organic mushrooms for my muthuh-fuckin risotto?”

Siri: “I’m sorry, what did you say?”

Winnfield (kicks over a barstool in the kitchen and picks up a cleaver from the counter) : “What country you from?”

Siri: “I’m sorry what did you say?”

Winnfield (holding the cleaver menacingly) : ” ‘I’msorrywhatdidyousay’ aint no country I ever heard of!  They speak English in I’msorrywhatdidyousay?”

Siri: “I’m sorry, what did you say?”

Winnfield (throws the cleaver aside and pulls a large, scary handgun from his jacket and aims it at Siri, despite the fact that the phone is in his own hand) : “Say ‘I’msorrywhatdidyousay?’ one more mothuhfuckin time!”

You see what I mean?  Not only would I go buy an iPhone, but I would record the commercial and watch it over and over again, because I would be proud to own an iPhone.  In fact, I’d probably go out and buy one or two more iPhones.  If the commercial ran long enough for Jackson to actually shoot the phone, I would likely swoon.

Instead, I’m left scratching my head.  Why in the world is Samuel L. Jackson cooking his own risotto?  He should have a bevvy of super models in lacy aprons and heels cooking for him.  If one of them skinny chicks slips up and doesn’t use the organic mushrooms, well.. she gonna wish she did.

As if my disenchantment with Samuel L. Jackson’s ad isn’t enough, iPhone came out with a few more celebrity ads.

An actress named Zoey Deschenelle shows up in one.  I honestly have no idea who she is, but if that’s her birth name, then she really had no choice but to grow up and become either an actress or an international spy.  If that’s not her original moniker, then I think the pretentious name police might have a warrant out for her arrest.  The commercial is entirely forgettable.  She’s dressed in frumpy pajamas, asks the phone annoying questions and wraps up the commercial by dancing badly as she leaves a messy room.

John Malkovich also appears in a couple of iPhone ads.  Over the course of his career, he’s played a range of roles.  While I don’t identify him as directly with one character as I do with Mr. Jackson, I think of Malkovich as being a sophisticated, witty man irrespective of whether he’s on the stage, screen or walking down the sidewalk.  In the commercials he’s sitting in an elegant room with opera on in the background, and asks Siri to tell him a joke.

Siri says “Two iPhones walk into a bar…I forget the rest.”

Mr. Malkovich leans his head back in his tasteful, leather-upholstered wing chair and laughs at the pathetic attempt at humor by Siri.  To look at his amusement, you’d think he was drinking gin rickeys and trading barbs with Dorothy Parker and Burl Ives at the Algonquin Round Table.

I realize that the people at Apple are trying to sell phones, but can anyone actually believe that an intellectual, urbane man of the world like John Malkovich could possibly be amused by a stupid phone telling half a joke?  This man starred in “Death of a Salesman” on Broadway with Dustin Hoffman!  We’re not talking David Hasselhoff here.

Alas, the almighty dollar can convince even the most accomplished actors to sell soap.

Here’s a tip for future stars of iPhone commercials; take less money if you have to , but demand some creative authority over the finished advertisement.  There’s no reason you can’t plug yourselves at the same time you’re hawking that iPhone.  Think you can’t do it?  Ask Clint Eastwood how it’s done.  He did a commercial for Chrysler, probably got a boatload of cash and came out looking liker a bigger, badder version of himself than he already was before the commercial aired!  No one at the Super Bowl party I was at shook their heads and wondered how a mega-star could’ve sunken  to such a low station in celebrity life.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that one or two of the party goers ran out the next day and put down deposits on the latest versions of K-cars.

What’s it gonna be punk, the Luxe Sport Package or the Royale with leather trimmed upholstery and nav system? (Image from

On the other hand, if Apple decides to start using unknowns in their commercials, like say blog writers from the South of Jersey with aspirations of becoming novelists from the South of France, I’ll be more than happy to tart it up however their creative team asks me to.  Just sayin…