What about Bob (or: Staying Sober In The Zombie Apocalypse)


I’ve had kind of a tumultuous past week+, so I’ll try to make as much sense as I’m able.

My mother-in-law is in the hospital with pneumonia. This is, unfortunately, very common with Alzheimer’s patients. Dysphagia, or difficulty with swallowing, happens in the later stages of the disease, causing people to aspirate and therefore develop pneumonia.

(This is yet another reason why I have little-to-no patience with Alzheimer’s “jokes” — like when people say they have Alzheimer’s because they lost their keys. Just…no. Stop. It’s not only not funny, it displays unimaginable ignorance as to how horrible this illness really is.)

She is bouncing back fine, and was cheerfully confused when we went to visit her yesterday, but will now have to be on a fairly strict puréed diet. It’s simply one of those things we now know to expect.

So while it was a mostly pleasant visit, it’s one of those things that remind me that my life is still not “normal,” in the sense that once you’ve committed to caring for someone with this disease, you can’t ever go back to where you were prior to taking on the responsibility, even when you are no longer an in-home caregiver. This is probably going to happen again. Or something else will happen. We’ve certainly learned that there are no shortage of rugs to be pulled out from under us.

I was still recovering from a conference I’d been to last week, which was book-ended by air travel snafus going to and coming back. Some air traffic control mess outside of D.C. caused my flight to the conference to be delayed several hours, and severe weather caused an even longer delay coming home. I didn’t hit my own bed until around 2:30 in the morning on Friday. The conference itself was great, but every day was scheduled such that I was up early and in bed late. I think I averaged maybe 4 hours of sleep a night. And maybe some of you can function fine on that, but this girl cannot. So I spent most of my first day home asleep either in my bed or on the couch.

I roused myself sufficiently to attend Walker Stalker Con (which my sister and I had been planning on since LAST year’s Walker Stalker Con) on Saturday. Among other cast members, I got to meet Lawrence Gilliard, Jr.

CNDFRwkUkAAHUcmHis character, Bob Stookey, an Army medic prior to the outbreak which has created the zombie pandemic in the series, is also an alcoholic. I found Gilliard’s portrayal to be spot-on and incredibly moving, and when I met him on Saturday, I got to tell him as much (I may have gotten a little weepy as well). He was really happy to hear this, and said, “You know, I figured, in this alternate universe – you know there’s gotta be people like that out there in it. I wanted to do that justice.”

I’ve thought a lot about that since Saturday. It’s sort of comical. Like, where are you going to find a MEETING in the zombie apocalypse? And if you did find a group of recovering addicts out there, what are you going to talk about?

“I took this walker’s head off with a mop handle, and while I KNOW I did the right thing, I just keep thinking about how GREAT a glass of Scotch would be.”

“Wow. I so relate. I had to shove a crowbar through my coworker’s skull, and I have SUCH a resentment about it.”

I kid, but I’m also kind of serious. I THINK ABOUT STUFF LIKE THIS. Especially now that the companion series has started and one of its principal characters is a drug addict. We’re not exactly equipped to deal with even mundane things like paying bills without wanting to anesthetize ourselves, and here are these characters trudging a Road of Happy Destiny that’s strewn with big globs of gore and severed body parts. It gives one pause, it really does.

And it comes down to survival, doesn’t it? We’re faced with a decision. We have to make that decision every day. Drink or don’t drink. Use or don’t use. Live, or die. Maybe it’s not quite on the level of…magnitude…as a zombie apocalypse, but…you know, actually, it really kind of IS. Let’s not even get into the parallels of substance abuse (and the way it can render someone who previously had been vibrant) and being a shuffling, unfeeling walking corpse. Let’s not talk about insatiable need. Let’s just talk about getting through a day without being destroyed by something inside of you. About finding the people who’ll survive alongside you. About the importance of connections, even when shit is falling down around you.

It’s not that much of a stretch. Not to me, anyway.

In recovery, I’ve absolutely learned that I can survive just about anything without drinking. I can sit with discomfort. I can handle 4 hour delays in the middle of a lightning storm at the Orlando airport. I can be present just sitting with my severely-addled mother-in-law in an unfamiliar hospital. So, you know, I could probably deal with zombies.

It’s just too bad that Bob had to die on the show.  We would have stuff to talk about.

A Poem For The Walker Who Looks Like Nick Cave


Another season has passed.
Minor, and major, characters have met their grisly ends,
and your kind has supped on the marrow
of human frailty.

But whither to, Nick Cave Walker?
I miss you, o walker that looks like Nick Cave.

But for Bicycle Girl, you were the iconic one,
the one for which there was no Darabont-penned backstory
(although you have been immortalized – re-immortalized? – as an action figure).

You haunt my dreams, Nick Cave Walker.

Are you still lurching about Atlanta?
Were you part of the herd that stormed Hershel’s farm?
Where have you gone, Nick Cave Walker?

I long to see you gripping the chain link fence
surrounding the prison in which our heroes – your lunch – will
seek refuge come October, your hair just
a tad greasier, your sportscoat just
a tad more
jauntily askew.

Nick Cave Walker – I have left you supplies by the abandoned
Chevy Nova on the interstate.
A new tie.
A copy of the Nocturama LP.
My heart.

On the windshield there is a message:
Nick Cave Walker wait for me here.

I am yours, Nick Cave Walker. Nomnomnom.

An Open Letter to Anyone Bitching About “The Walking Dead.”


First, let’s eliminate the roughly .0087% who work in the writing and/or television fields. Most likely, your criticisms are A) valid, and B) thoughtfully expressed. You’re off the hook, here.

Now, to address the hordes (see what I did there?) who – while seemingly wishing to wash their hands of the entire series – just can’t seem to STOP WATCHING IT EVEN IF IT SUCKS SOOOO BAD OMG. Assuming that you simply have issues with self-control and this is why you continue to watch something that obviously bothers you a great deal, I’m going to try and address your concerns the best I can, given that I’m 1) not Robert Kirkman, and 2) probably more of a “zombie fan” than at least 3/4 of you whiners.

In perusing the various message boards and fan sites, whiners seem to fall squarely into one of two schools of thought:

  • This isn’t as good as/doesn’t follow the source material.
  • This doesn’t have enough zombies/has too much “drama.”
  • To the former – I get where you’re coming from…to an extent. You get very attached to a story, and you almost always are disappointed when it’s translated into another medium and loses what you consider to be essential plot points or characters. The fact is, though, that what works in a novel (or a graphic novel) does not necessarily work on film. Even if it’s simply to spare yourself the disappointment, you have to go into the series with very, very few expectations. It’s even better still to view the source material and the series as two completely separate stories, that happen to share certain similarities.

    This has worked nicely for me so far. Confession: I squirmed uncomfortably for the first couple of episodes in Season One. I cocked my head – puzzled and irritated – during the whole CDC debacle (which doesn’t happen at all in the comics). After a second viewing, though, I actually grew to appreciate it.

    I also take a sort of weird comfort in the fact that while Sophia meets a terrible end in the series, she’s alive and well as of right now in the comics. I cried like a baby when Dale died in both versions (although he died an arguably more dignified death in the comics). I couldn’t stand Shane in the comics, and still can’t stand him, but I find him far more compelling in the series and have come to understand why they’ve continued to keep him around. Hershel is a much richer, more developed character in the series. Andrea, on the other hand, kicks WAY more ass in the comics. And – hey – I think just about everyone can agree that sexy hick Daryl Dixon, who is nowhere to be found in the comics, is a much welcome addition to the series.

    In short, I’m able to follow both stories quite happily. I really suggest you give it a try.

    Now. To the latter group. You know who you are. You’re pissed that all the living people just mope around and talk about their prrrrrooooblemmssss. You feel quite strongly that there is far too much talk, and not nearly enough walk(ers). I don’t even know where to begin with you schmucks.

    Let’s start with the fact that there is a WEEKLY SERIES WITH ZOMBIES BEING SHOWN ON TELEVISION. This in and of itself is a giant mountain of AWESOME! coated with a fine dusting of HOLY FUCKING SHIT! There is nothing else like this on television, and surely you can stop grousing for a second and admit this.

    If you want a weekly series about zombies, you have to look at it realistically, from the perspective of the people who are bringing this to you.

    First and foremost – BUDGET. I’m sure you and your friends could make a way moar awsum show about zombies that would just have loads and loads of the aforementioned, with a good, splattery zombie kill roughly every 42 seconds. But you know what? I’m guessing you and your friends are not independently wealthy and don’t have a great deal of money to spend on special effects. Therefore, your zombies – plentiful though they may be – are going to look like crap. Don’t even argue with me there. Unless you’re Rick Baker, you are not going to make a convincingly rotten horde with little more at your disposal than spirit gum and some fake blood from the joke store.

    Now, let’s take a trip in our WayBack machine and recall the Season One premiere. Remember how many goddamn walkers were in that episode? How much, do you reckon, did that one scene cost? I know it might be a tad over your head, but above and beyond special effects, there’s the cost of permits to film in downtown Atlanta, to ensure that an entire city block is yours and yours alone in which to film. There’s also the cost of extras, catering, crew, and equipment. And that was for ONE SCENE IN ONE EPISODE.

    Think that over, and then come back at me with your “there aren’t enuf zombies WTF?” Because unless you’re going to write a big fat check to underwrite the cost of more walkers, you need to can it, for real. I enjoy a good horde as much as you do, but I’d rather see an episode with one or two really creepy and horrible walkers, knowing that they’ve lavished a good deal of attention to detail on said, than have them blow their entire budget on one massive horde. That thing in the well was nine kinds of awesome….so awesome that I wasn’t going to begrudge them the fact that it was the only walker on that episode.

    Finally – Robert Kirkman (the creator of the series) has, from Day One, maintained that the titular “walking dead” refers to the survivors, not the walkers. His is the philosophy of Romero: a good zombie story is one in which the zombies themselves are secondary, even tertiary. The real horror is in what a situation like that does to the living. This is what we’re seeing now. We are seeing people who, in functional society, were for the most part moral, ethical, and law-abiding citizens. This is what this story is about. It quite effectively raises some pretty frightening questions, because while maybe there won’t ever be a zombie apocalypse, there could very well be a similar kind of societal breakdown as depicted here. Maybe you’re a superhero, but most people aren’t, and certain behaviors and personal philosophies are going to be examined, re-examined and possibly jettisoned as everything continues to (literally) decay. If you can’t appreciate the fact that this is what this series is attempting to explore, then perhaps you SHOULDN’T be watching it. There’s plenty of splatter out there that won’t make you have to, like, THINK. Go check it out.

    Meanwhile, I’m going to continue to enjoy the hell out of this show, and thank my lucky stars that AMC had the intelligence to see it for what it is.

    Crushes I’ll Admit To.


    As I get more and more engrossed in the second season of The Walking Dead (I’ve long given up on being even the slightest bit upset that it’s not exactly following the story arc of its source material), I find myself getting a little knock-kneed over sexy-hick-with-a-crossbow Daryl, portrayed by Norman Reedus:

    Have mercy.

    The houseboy rightfully points out that it’s probably not Norman Reedus that I’m making squeaky noises and little damp spots over, but DARYL.  You know, like I don’t find Harrison Ford the least bit attractive, but Han Solo is the sexxxiness.  I am totally Team Daryl, as much as I hate being Team ANYTHING, since I’m over 40 years of age and refuse to use acronyms or emoticons.  It’s okay to be Team Daryl, because he’s not sparkly, he’s sweaty and dirty and foul-mouthed and HOT.  HOT.

    I’ve had plenty of bizarro crushes over the years.  I learned early on, as a matter of fact, to PRETEND that I crushed on the same people my little girlfriends crushed on, because to admit the real sources of my pre-and-post-adolescent yearnings was to invite much scorn and derision.

    “Ohhh, Donny Osmond IS SO CUTE (but really I want to marry Gene Wilder).”

    “Scott Baio.  SQUEEEEEE! (actually, I prefer Anson Williams).”

    “I like John first, then Simon, then Roger (I need to go home because they’re showing Time After Time again on HBO and I am COMPLETELY in love with Malcolm McDowell as H.G. Wells).”

    In high school, when I wasn’t swooning over an ACTUAL guy, all my hopes and fantasies were pinned on this dude:

    Oh GOD.  Griffin Dunne.  I saw After Hours when I was a sophomore in high school, and fell hopelessly in love.

    Upon returning home from the movie, I went into my room, dodging the records and cassettes strewn all over the floor, pushed the pile of clothes to the foot of my unmade bed and sat there, crosslegged, pondering the complexities of this situation.  Was it truly Griffin Dunne I was after?  If so, I had at least a few years to truly transform myself into the bookish, cynical, sylph-like siren he was bound to be attracted to.  I would probably also have to take up smoking.  Naturally, then, I’d have to set my sights on NYU, and Tisch.  I figured by the time I was a senior, our paths would have crossed, perhaps at some staged reading.  I would be aloof, of course, which would fascinate him, and slowly but surely I would allow him access into my complicated mind.  Eventually, over drinks at Elaine’s, I’d confess my teenaged crush, and we would spend the rest of the evening trading choice lines from “After Hours” before he’d walk me back to the trendy loft I shared with a paint-splattered recluse and a cheeky, smart-alecky gay waiter.  Outside the freight elevator, we’d share our first kiss.  I bounced a little on the bed, girlishly thrilled by this not-too-distant vision of myself.

    But then guilt overtook me.  I was being disloyal.  Disloyal to the REAL BOY for whom I was also carrying a torch.  Never mind that he was across town, probably practicing his guitar, and not thinking about me.  My leaving for New York was going to devastate him, eventually.  Maybe.  I had such a knack for longing for the unobtainable.

    I never did go to NYU.  I never did meet Griffin Dunne.  But damn, he’s still cute.

    I’m just not sure I’d want him on my team when the zombie apocalypse comes down.