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.

 

 

Squawking Dead – Episode One

To clarify, I meant to write Season 4.  (Image from collider dot com)
To clarify, I meant to write Season 4. (Image from collider dot com)

Season whatever of The Walking Dead has begun.  I’ll admit to being a fan of the zombie apocalypse series.  In fact, I’ve never missed an episode.  That won’t stop me from poking fun at the show.  As my wife will attest, I’m not against mocking the things I love.  Episode 1 of this season’s TWD is no exception.

We rejoin our merry band of survivors in their happy prison home.  The original group’s numbers were expanded at the end of last season by a bunch of refugees from the compound of the evil governor.  Despite the paranoid screening process the survivors typically enforced, they let the whole busload of people in, without even checking them for references or bite marks.

The troop has decided to grow their own produce and raise hogs.  While the population has tripled, only one person, Farmer Rick (formerly known as Sheriff Rick), appears to be doing all the weeding or hoeing or whatever it is that farmers do.   Rick deals with the drudgery of tilling the good earth by wearing earbuds and listening to some vintage hillbilly music.   I realize the  ghouls are on the other side of the fence, but I personally would prefer to keep from compromising my sense of hearing in a world filled with growling brain eaters.   Lord only knows where one goes to charge an iPod or download Boxcar Willy’s Greatest Hits in a low tech world overrun with zombies.

Nothing quite says "Happy Holidays" like Boxcar Willie's rendition of "Away in a Manger in the Ozarks" (Image from last dot fm)
Nothing quite says “Happy Holidays” like Boxcar Willie’s rendition of “Away in a Manger in the Ozarks” (Image from last dot fm)

While it only takes one guy to farm, it looks like it takes quite a few more to patrol the inside of the perimeter fence, killing zombies by poking them through the fence with sharp sticks and in one case, a cane.  The zombies just stand there and take it, almost eager to have their egg-shell thin foreheads pierced.  The chain link posse members dance around looking for the opportunity to shish-kabob zombie heads, as if they require a perfect shot.

There appears to be a budding romance between Hershel’s pretty younger daughter and some young Romeo.  I had always thought that she and Carl would hook up, but that goofy kid is still too wrapped up in wearing Daddy’s cowboy hat and killing things.  I paused the DVR playback and asked my wife who the hell this new young buck was.  She shrugged at me.

Young Romeo joins Crossbow Daryl and a few others to go scout out a grocery store for supplies.  The store had been taken over and fenced off by the military in the early days of the zombie infestation.  As the gang of survivors go inside, the camera pans upward, and we discover there is a wrecked helicopter and tons of walkers randomly staggering around all over the roof.  The usually doglike hearing of the zombies was conveniently absent this time.  None of the roof-toppers heard Daryl and Young Romeo’s five minutes of witty dialogue outside the front doors of the store.  I was going to pause the DVR again and ask my wife how a hundred or so zombies got up on top of a supermarket in first place, but before I could, the camera showed the decomposing roof.  TV foreshadowing experts like myself know this can only mean one thing.

My wife keeps putting tape over this button on the remote.  I don't understand why.  (Image from powerofted dot com)
My wife keeps putting tape over this button on the remote. I don’t understand why. (Image from powerofted dot com)

Despite their constant, random stumbling all around the roof, none of the zombies had thus far managed to fall through the weak spots.  That history changed once the guy inside drew the zombies’ attention by putting a bottle back on a shelf and causing a massive set of shelves of liquor to fall over on him.  True to movies and television, he wasn’t hurt, but his leg was “caught”.   I’ve never pulled a set of shelves over on myself, so I guess it’s possible.

I often wonder how I would manage myself if the world as I knew it ended and the streets were filled with flesh eating zombies.  I don’t know if I’d be able to figure out how to use a crossbow, but I can guarantee those shelves of liquor would not be quite so well stocked.  Before I could make a wise-assed comment to my wife about the overabundance of alcohol, the zombies started falling through the roof.

The world is largely populated with flesh-eaters.  You'd think there'd be a shortage of chianti and fava beans.  (Image from the guardian dot com)
The world is largely populated with flesh-eaters. You’d think there’d be a shortage of chianti and fava beans. (Image from the guardian dot com)

Despite their paper-thin skulls and lack of any sort of balance reactions, most of the falling zombies survived the twenty foot drop onto the concrete floor and came up chomping.  Crossbow Daryl killed one by stomping his head like an over-ripe melon.  Even with craniums like fine china, the zombies manage to have unreal biting power.  One of them caught Young Romeo’s leg and tore a big chunk out of his calf, right through the leg of his blue jeans.  In the spirit of audience participation, readers are encouraged to pause for a minute and go find a pair of Levi’s.  I defy you to bite through the material.

On some less plot-critical points;

It was fabulous luck that the survivors managed to pick a prison with an extensive children’s book selection in their library.

In previous episodes, we’ve watched as survivors go foraging for food anywhere they can find it, but there are one or two cast members who’s anatomy suggests that they are at least partially responsible for the lack of food.  These folks aren’t missing any meals.  They know who they are, enough said.

Some may wonder why I waste my time fussing about a successful TV show.  Who cares, right?  A whine-fest I wrote long ago on The Walking Dead, complained about the lack of untied shoes on zombie feet may have reached the right people.  Camera shots of shuffling feet nearing the rotten parts of the roof, showed zombies wearing untied shoes or missing shoes altogether.  I can only assume that someone in a position of power read my words and made sure to make corrections.  If only they’d conferred with me about the rest of this year’s premier.

Walking Dead While Talking Logic

Let’s make this clear: I enjoy “The Walking Dead”.  You can’t beat the dramatic interactions, the plot twists, and the extreme nature of a life in a zombie-filled world, where hope is all you have.

Who doesn’t love zombies? Can we have a show of hands – assuming zombies haven’t eaten your hands yet (Image from podcast.teachercast.net)

My love of the show is predicated on my having to be able to accept the premise that the world is largely populated with zombies, and that if you let your guard down, even for a minute, one of them might just sneak up and take a bite out of you.  Before long, you’ll either be eaten by a horde of them, or turn into one yourself.  Without the acceptance of the premise, the show is totally silly.  Modern medical science tells us that there is no such thing as a virus or disease which turns people into mindless, flesh-eating zombies.  The nightly news tells us that bath salts will do the trick.

I’m okay with embracing the premise, but I have my limits.  Anyone who’s ever gone to a horror movie will tell you that you have to accept certain things to be able to enjoy the experience.  For example, no one in their right mind would ever go into the haunted house at the end of Creepy Lane, and certainly not at the stroke of midnight on Friday the 13th.  No sane person would open that door at the end of the hall when there’s all that scary sound-track music playing.  People in horror movies are notoriously stupid when it comes to their choices.  If you’re going to enjoy a movie or TV series of this ilk, you simply need to surrender your logic for a few minutes and enjoy the ride.

Fans of the show will tell you that the story isn’t really about the zombies.  After all, zombies, or “walkers” as they are also called, are mindless carnivores.  There’s no real opportunity for character development when it comes to these hungry guys and gals – it’s just lurch, attack, hiss, and re-lurch.  The meat of the Walking Dead story is the interactions between the survivors as they try to stay alive.  For the most part, the very human emotions and difficult decisions they are faced with are what make the show compelling.  Luckily for the cynical viewer, there are so many zombies that the survivors don’t have to make the typically foolish decisions we’ve grown accustomed to in the horror genre.

Be that as it may, I need to point out a few things about the show which are sticking in my craw like a poorly chewed piece of Hershel’s calf.

Premise:  Once infected, every zombie develops incredibly sharp teeth and jaw muscles which allow them to have the destructive biting power of saber toothed tigers.

Bullcrap:  Despite hyper-trophic jaws and a disregard for pre-existing dental shortcomings, we are expected to believe that a weak spot has developed in the front of the skull of each zombie, allowing survivors to kill them with the poke of a stick to the middle of the forehead.

In the spirit of writing a “green” blog, I’m re-purposing images from previous posts whenever possible. This guy may have been infected with the zombie virus, but his teeth still look like he just came from the orthodontist. (Image from zombiecombatcommand.com)

Premise: Wild animals don’t run away from people now that most of them are zombies.

Bullcrap:  Wild animals are wild, and having the majority of mankind turn into killer-jawed eating machines will not likely make an owl or a deer any less afraid of a human.

Fer Chrissakes Bambi! Didn’t you see season one when the zombies attacked and ate a horse?! You need to stay away from humans! (Image from jnace.net)

Premise:  Without an infrastructure, things like gasoline delivery don’t happen anymore.  Early episodes showed characters dodging zombies while looking for gas.

Bullcrap:  Now that the show appears to have landed a sweet little product placement promotion with Hyundai, the days of looking for fuel are gone.  As a bonus, the responsive handling of the Sonata is great for dodging the undead in the middle of the road.

This Hyundai Veracruz will outrun even the fastest zombie and there’s plenty of storage for pointed sticks and flashlights! (Image from cargurus.com)

Premise:  In the first two seasons, survivors had to be frugal with battery use, as new Duracels were even rarer than gasoline.

Bullcrap:  I can’t keep the flashlight in the kitchen from being dead every time there’s a blackout, but in the catacombs of the prison, these guys suddenly have tons of working flashlights.

The great thing about this baby is that you can also use the back end of it to pierce the egg-shell thin zombie skull just above the bridge of the nose (Image from dansdata.com)

Premise:  Hillbilly Daryl has three arrows in his quiver, and almost always has one loaded and ready to fire in the crossbow.

Bullcrap:  He never runs out.

Daryl has three arrows, and the same number of shirt sleeves as Larry the Cable Guy. (Image from walkingdead.wikia.com)

Premise:  Zombies are slow, lumbering creatures and are easy to shoot.

Bullcrap:  No one with a gun ever misses, except for the one lady, who missed so badly she almost hit Rick in the foot – but after that, she didn’t miss again.  Oh and Otis missed the tame deer and shot Carl at the end of season 1.

You’ll never get a good head-shot on that zombie if you keep looking at her ass! Focus, Carl, F-O-C-U-S !! (Image from tacticalfanboy.com)

Premise:  Bullets are getting scarce, especially after the survivors shot up the prison grounds killing zombies who could have been dispatched with sharp sticks.

Bullcrap:  Bullets won’t be in short supply for long, rumor has it the producers are currently in negotiations with Remmington brand ammunition for a product placement deal for hollow points starting next season.

I used this before for another post. It was a pain in the ass to draw, so using it a second time eases the painful memories of struggling with badly drawn thumbs.  (Illustration by the author)

Premise:  Lori is conflicted by her situation.  She’s going to be bringing what appears to be Shane’s baby into a hellish world filled with flesh eating ghouls and very few quality daycare centers.

Bullcrap:  She’s got a big bun in the oven!  Between the swollen ankles and the hemorrhoids, she shouldn’t be able to escape the zombies.  Even a mindless walker will be able to identify her as the weakest member of the tribe as well as a two-for-one in the eating department.  Can’t she get eaten, please?

While Mexican beer is off-limits to pregnant gals, Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia with a few dill pickles is still a favorite for those late-night cravings. Lack of refrigeration pretty much kills that option though – no wonder Lori is so bitchy! (Image from knowyourmemes.com)

Phantom Blog Readers

I know I’m still way too wrapped up in how many people read my posts and in how few of them actually “like” them.  A true artist creates what he or she creates without regard to whether or not anyone will ever see it, much less like it.  I’m not trying to imply that one should make the quantum leap of judgement to put me in the company of artists or even wordsmiths, I’m just saying I shouldn’t care…but I do, and I hate myself for it.

True to form, I spend way too much time checking my stats.  Looking to see how many people read me, and which of my posts are getting the most hits.  For the life of me, I don’t understand the success of Life Lessons From Gilligan’s Island, but there’s no accounting for taste.

There is an issue which I’ve recently discovered.  One which has thought-gremlins prancing around feverishly in my head.  WordPress has a map feature and it tells the writer how many readers he has on a given day all over the world.  I’m embarrassed to admit that were it not for the coloring-in of the countries, I’d be hard-pressed to figure out where in the world some of them are actually located.  As it happens, my posts were pretty big in Macedonia for a while.  I had no idea where it was, but I’ve always been a big fans of their nuts.

In any case, the country demographic piece has a hole in it.  When adding up the hits in the various countries, the totals are not always the same as the overall number of hits, sometimes substantially less.  The stat number says I’ve had 47 hits, but the country demographics only add up to 34.   I can’t help but wonder where the other 13 hits are coming from, if not from the countries of the world.  Possible explanations of where those phantom readers are located follow:

I’m not sure this is actually a ship. It’s more like a floating hotel/theme park/mall. I was on one of these once. Another blog perhaps (Image from photo-dictionary.com)

Ships at Sea – I know it sounds so 1940’s.  I’m confident that even today, there are in fact ships at sea, though it’s hard to imagine that anyone on them is finding the time to read my blog, since there’s a rock climbing competition on the Lido deck, scrap-booking classes in the Slave Galleria, and a 24 hour chocolate fountain in the Spanish Doubloon Ballroom.

In orbit – Do astronauts have access to the world wide web thingy when they’re not in this world?  Is there even a space station out there?  Are there people on it?   I’ve lost track.

Look at those creepy little guys! Tell me the one on the far left doesn’t look like Grampa Al Lewis! (Image from gammillustrations.com)

Mole Men Living Beneath The Earth – I’m old enough to have been more than a little disturbed by that ancient Superman rerun.  As long as we’re on the topic of childhood demons, I have to account for the possibility that the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz may be reading my blog, though they didn’t strike me as particularly bookish.

China – I bet it’s China; they probably have some dark reason for not wanting us to know they’re reading me.  Or maybe North Korea where reading my blog is punishable by public ridicule (instead of suffering privately like the rest of you folks)

I couldn’t find a picture of a poltergeist – apparently they’re not too photogenic…anyway…look at the eyes on this zombie! and that suit!! He’s dreamy! (Image from zombiecombatcommand.com)

Zombies and Poltergeists – Reading me from beyond the grave – I think it’s poltergeists – zombies would show up on the world map, as they lurch through the countryside looking for brains to eat.  Lord knows, if they’re reading some of the stuff I write, they could use all the brains they can cram into their gaping maws.

People On Commercial Jets – Using electrical devices when they’ve been told not to.  So eager to read my blog posts that they, along with Alec Baldwin, put others at risk and take the chance of pissing off the stewardess.  I know some folks find me amusing, but is it worth risking honey-roasted peanuts and half a can of soda?

Holy crap! A strange being from a far off galaxy – who knows how intelligent he may or may not be! I wonder what he thinks of the space alien. (Image from astro.wsu.edu)

Space Aliens – Even though I’ve admitted to having never seen a Star Wars, Star Trek or Star 80 movie, I have to admit that it’s possible.  I hope they like my humor, but not enough to abduct and probe me.