Monday Morning Update!

All the news…

So while I was in Montana I read three books – two new and one old fave I keep in my suitcase for emergencies.

World War ZWorld War Z, An Oral History of the Zombie War, by Max Brooks – I’d been avoiding this book, worried it would be your standard post-apocalyptic zombie fare ala The Walking Dead.  Not so!  World War Z is a fantastic work.  The story unfolds via first person interviews with survivors ten years after victory has been declared.  Loved it, especially the inclusion of the Five C’s– kind of an inside joke.  (The chapter on North Korea will send chills up your spine it’s so scary prescient.)  I was determined to read the book before the movie is released.  To my great disappointment rumor has it that for the sake of political correctness the location of Patient Zero has been changed.  Too bad.  Max Brooks is also the author of The Zombie Survival Guide.

Gifted HandsGifted Hands, the Ben Carson Story, by Ben Carson and Cecil Murphey.  I finished this autobiography in a few hours.  I’d been wanting to read the book for years.  Only laziness kept me from buying it.  All the recent publicity surrounding Dr. Carson forced me to finally get my ass in gear and buy the book.  Gifted Hands is the inspiring story of a poor black kid from a single parent home in Detroit who grows up to become the preeminent pediatric neurosurgeon in the entire world.  Dr. Carson is an impressive man.  The challenges he’s met and the standards he’s set for himself throughout his entire life are equally impressive.  Good stuff.

After the NightAfter the Night, by Linda Howard.  This book travels with me.  If I run out of reading material, why, viola!  There it is!  The hero, Gray Roulliard, may be a beast, but he’s one sexy beast.

So long, Andrea!

So long, Andrea!

You’ll never believe it but thanks to my daughter’s insistence I watched the season finale of The Walking Dead.  I swear it was so much like a soap opera I didn’t have to have seen a single episode of Season Three to pick up right where I’d left off.  What did I think?  Meh.  Wasn’t horrible.  Wasn’t stellar.  Not much in the way of forward movement.  Quite a few TSTL moments and of course we were treated to the de rigueur demise of a member of the original group.  Next season I’ll probably watch the first episode and the last.  And yeah, I’m still mad as hell about Shane.

Game of Thrones, Tyrion Lannister

Game of Thrones, Tyrion Lannister

Ah… On the other hand A Game of Thrones opened on a high note–  So much talent, so much potential, so many fabulous stories to tell.  I’m super excited about this season.  A Game of Thrones promises great things.

Vikings- Ragnar Lothbrokson

Vikings- Ragnar Lothbrokson

Sundays are tough for me.  All my television viewing, except for The Big Bang Theory and Person of Interest, is condensed into a single night:  A Game of Thrones, Vikings, (The Walking Dead), and Downton Abbey.  Fortunately each show follows it’s own timetable so I won’t be forced to choose.  If I had to choose I’d choose Vikings.  If you’re not watching Vikings, man oh man are you missing something special.  Watching Rollo, Ragnar’s brother, bury an ax in Svein’s chest was practically orgasmic.  Payback’s a bitch, honey.

In other news I’ve been traveling lots– and that’s sort of an understatement.  Two weeks ago I was in Oregon for my father’s birthday.  As you know this was an important birthday, most notably because he nearly died of a ruptured mitral valve last November.  After a couple setbacks he’s great, amazing.  Aging in reverse.  I like to keep my family life private but here are a few picks of our small birthday gathering–

My mom and dad

My mom and dad

Our little family - my parents, my sisters, my cousin, me.

Our little family – my parents, my sisters, my cousin, me.

My dad goofing around

My dad goofing around

My dad and his nephew

My dad and his nephew

Here’s a totally cool photo of my daughter taken during a hike on her ranch.  She’s standing with her short-haired St. Bernard who thinks she’s a cow dog–

My amazing older daughter

My amazing older daughter

They need rain/snow… bad.

Last but not least my new cowboy boots!  I mean if you fly all the way to Montana on a little plane what’s the first thing you do?  Go shopping at Murdoch’s.  Bought two shirts and a new pair of cowboy boots.

Ariat boots

Ariat boots

Oh, almost forgot… My birthday is Saturday.  I’m not big on celebrations and I hear tell hubby has something special planned.  I think he’s whisking me away.  Oughta be interesting!



How The Walking Dead ‘Killed’ This Passionate Fan’s Passion…

In a hurry, I might add.

It’s the lack of character development, stupid.

1.  Tired, trite plot devices.  Hey, old campy sci fi flicks and cartoons like The Simpsons and Futurama have used ye olde decapitated head floating in a jar trope and used it better because the trope was intended to be tongue in cheek.  Sorry, can’t take it seriously. Makes me giggle.

2.  “Smell the Fart“.  We don’t know Michonne.  Last season’s cliffhanger left us with the impression of a borderline insane, possibly psychopathic, cunning, mysterious kick ass female survivor.  I couldn’t wait to get to know her.  Unfortunately we still don’t know Michonne because she has fallen victim to Joey Tribbiani’s ‘smell the fart‘ syndrome.  Remember when Joey landed a leading role in a soap opera?  Well… Michonne is smelling the fart big time.  And that’s about all she’s doing.

3.  Boring writing = the kiss of death = Andrea = Who?  The one survivor I really cared about from the original group (after Shane’s character-assassination and murder), the woman I had high hopes for, has become a zombie without even trying, uh, I mean… dying.

4.  I don’t need record zombie kills.  Zombies are nothing more than set pieces.  I need flesh and bone– three dimensional characters who move the plot forward.  Please don’t resort to zombie attacks to create plot which leads me to the following:

5.  As my son says, heroes are boring.  Villains are not.  Why?  Because most of the time movies and television portray heroes as reactive rather than proactive.  Villains, on the other hand, are proactive.  In other words, villains have a plan.  They have a vision.  Which is probably why The Governor is more interesting than anyone else, heads in jars notwithstanding.  (I must point out the borrowing here– themes from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.  Pay attention, it’s in there.)

I worried the death of Shane might spell the death of the show for me.  I hoped Andrea and Michonne would fill the void.  Not so far.  Nada.

Thus I’m thrilled to have found Faith on Hulu and I can’t wait for A Game of Thrones because if nothing else Tyrion and Cersei Lannister will fill an entire hour with plots and plans, sorrow and joy, murder and mayhem.

Complexity rules.  It’s the characters, stupid.

The Walking Dead Season Premier- more questions than answers…

which is not necessarily a bad thing.  I simply haven’t yet decided if it’s a good thing.

Maggie the Zombie Slayer


We missed a lot.  Seriously, I’m missing a lot of information here.  The writers skipped over the entire winter,  leaving us in the dark as to how the small group survived. Herschel did mention something about running from house to house, but other than Lori looking a might peaked– (What else is new?)– everyone appeared too well fed to have spent months living hand to mouth.  While characters have obviously changed, as in Carol can now shoot a gun and Maggie is channeling Sigourney Weaver in Aliens, there was no indication of how the group came to terms with the following:

a.  Shane’s murder and Rick’s culpability.  For the good of the group?  Self-defense?  One has to wonder…

b.  The certain knowledge they will all become walkers when they die.

c.  Rick’s word = The Law.

In other words, last season ended with such a powerful scene, every character horrified and traumatized by Rick’s multiple revelations… Yeah I killed Shane (my best friend and father of my wife’s baby).  Yeah, we’re all gonna be walkers when we die and I’ve known for quite some time.  Yeah, I’m the boss of you so shut yer dang pie holes.

Only Lori seems troubled, but casting frequent concerned glances at Rick just doesn’t cut it for me.  Without Shane to add tension to the relationship I’m not really feeling it.

Yes, there was a somewhat humorous and suggestive tete a tete between Daryl and Carol, although I wasn’t certain how seriously to take it or how far they’ve taken it– which is too bad because I like Daryl and Carol together and I wouldn’t mind seeing more of them.  Unfortunately during the conversation Carol tossed off a thoughtless insult about my dearly departed Shane.  If that’s all Carol has to say about the man who kept them alive for months, the man who stopped Carol’s husband from beating her and beating her daughter… very out of character.  Although I did think it was hilarious when she almost shot Rick.  Passive aggressive or an accident?

*** An Addendum:  Carol said – and I may be paraphrasing – “I doubt Shane could have gotten us this far.”  A fallacious argument if I’ve ever heard one.  While it’s true Rick has taken on some of Shane’s qualities, i.e., he’s grown a thicker skin and he’s ruthless, at least to all (superficial) appearances, he lacks Shane’s pragmatism, intelligence, instinct and cunning.  (I’m going to use a lot of ‘head’ references here- Rick doesn’t think ahead, he tends to blunder headlong into situations where he finds himself in over his head.  Rick is still ‘proper’ and ‘prideful’.   Shane, for instance, would order everyone to eat the dog food.  He’d say – “We’ve eaten worse.”  In fact I doubt there would be any hesitation among the group.  I would bet under Shane’s leadership they would have resorted to pet food on many occasions because it was available and they have a pregnant woman to feed.  Hey, desperate times call for desperate measures.  In a catastrophe human beings have eaten all kinds of things to stay alive.

I meant to put up this link to Marina’s Zombie Report, her take on the season opener.  Check it out, it’s great!

Glen and Maggie are cute together – I give their scenes two thumbs up.

The episode featured lots of blood and gore, always a plus for a big segment of the viewing population, although I’m left wondering why there are so many walkers.  Even if you have a functioning brain stem, body parts will begin to fall off after a while.  See?  Questions.  As in why do those riot police still in full riot gear look pretty darn healthy for walking dead?

Dear Rick (and writers), as a nurse I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the following… chopping off Herschel’s leg with an ax will not stop the infection from spreading since it had already spread throughout his bloodstream by the time you dragged him into that room.  Besides, how do you plan to cauterize the wound?  You don’t have a way to stop the bleeding and you don’t have any antibiotics so all I can say is… a hair-brained scheme if I ever saw one.  Just about as hair-brained as saving that kid, hauling his ass back to the farm, wasting time and effort saving his leg, and then deciding to kill him.  I’m quite fond of Herschel but you shoulda just shot him in the head.  Would have been kinder.  Even if he doesn’t become a walker he sure as shit ain’t gonna outrun ‘em.

On the one hand the season opener was entertaining, on the other hand, something was missing and it wasn’t just Shane.  Rick can’t carry the show for me, he’s too stupid.  Note to Rick’s asinine brain… If dog food is the only thing available you eat dog food.  Beggars can’t be choosers, oh glorious leader.  Daryl, in his previous incarnation, would have given Rick a well-deserved smackdown for that bonehead move.


On the other hand, I’m already loving Andrea and Michonne.  Here’s to hoping Andrea and Michonne enliven Season Three.


Speaking of a Zombie Apocalypse…

From The Walking Dead: Yellow Jacket Bait

A rise in the number of zombies would precipitate a corresponding rise in the number of yellow jackets as zombies, i.e., rotting corpses, would provide a movable feast.  A ready source of decaying meat.

Thus I would need a flame thrower to defend myself from the swarms of yellow jackets, especially in more mild climates like California and much of the southwest, and the southeast.

Cold = Dead Yellow Jackets

Thus I would have to make my way to Montana or the Dakotas.  Possibly Canada.  The growing season is short but the winters are harsh, which would, in turn, freeze zombie appendages, causing them to fall off, and the climate would kill yellow jackets.

Problem solved.

Yes, I know. Perseverating…

But damn, I’m suffering from major post-traumatic stress disorder!  However I have learned I can be desensitized.  And it will be effective and permanent after five years of treatment.  Life will go on.



Always do what the dog tells you to do.

Run you fool!

I just finished reading Zombies Take Manhattan, Short Stories by Marina Bridges.

Two correlations come to mind:  The Game of Telephone and Six Degrees of Separation.

The overall story arc begins and ends in the same place– a string connects each story, like the string strung out between two tin cans to make a tin can telephone.  So… a.  The message is passed on, but with each telling it’s altered and b.  Each character in one story is somehow linked, just like those tin cans, with the characters in the stories on either side in order to c.  Form a perfect circle.

Zombies Take Manhattan is a blend of horror, mind-games, off-beat and oh-so-dark humor and, uh, obviously zombies.  It’s not all fun and games, as the first story, Wheel of Wonder, might lead you to believe.  It’s more of a rapidly progressing dissonance, leading to chaos, mass extinction and eventually… a dead tin can.

Well worth the price of admission.

Zombies Take Manhattan is available for your e-reader.

Amazon Buy Link.

Smashwords Buy Link.

Marina’s Website.