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.

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.

    Random Thoughts

    Always dress as though you’re going to run into an ex, or someone who was mean to you in junior high.

    Ranting and screaming and namecalling isn’t “political discourse,” it’s telling everyone you have a shitty diaper and are unwilling or unable to change it yourself.  And I’m not singling out one party here, either.

    Belief:  that’s personal stuff.  By “personal” I mean this – let’s say I believe in magical jingle bell elves.  Believing in magical jingle bell elves gives me a degree of happiness, and comfort in difficult times, and provides a set of standards by which I live my life.  But as I am sitting here, jingling, I also understand that not everyone believes as I do.  As such, I don’t try to push my magical jingle bell elves on someone who – say – believes in glittery rainbow unicorns, or doesn’t believe in anything at all.  I don’t dare to presume that someone who doesn’t believe in magical jingle bell elves is less moral or ethical than I am.  More importantly, I don’t try to push legislation that requires everyone to at least PRETEND to believe in magical jingle bell elves.  My belief in magical jingle bell elves should not determine public policy.  Why?  Because it’s personal.  This has nothing to do with being a “liberal.” It’s simply common sense.

    My mother is probably the best driver I know.  She’s the best driver I know because she, in her words, drives “as though everyone else on the road is drunk, stupid, or clinically insane.”  This works for walking, too.

    I don’t get people on Facebook who “like” a page dedicated to something that they DON’T like, just so they can mouth off about why they don’t like it.  It’s like crashing a birthday party, jumping on the table, and announcing to everyone that the birthday girl has a zit.  This morning someone posted on the page of a television show (of which I am a fan) something to the effect of:  “I have an intense desire to see you fail.  The only thing non-transparent about you is your pilot episode.  The worse you get, the more people like you.  I knew people like you in high school.  They never went anywhere, either.”  To which I say:  I knew people like YOU in high school.  They were the ones who sneered at everyone’s good time, because they liked such-and-such before it was cool, and they want to make sure that everyone knows it.  You haven’t grasped the fact that NOBODY CARES that you had the seven-inch pressed on blue vinyl of which there are only 500 copies.  Furthermore, you’re whining about “transparency” on a show ABOUT ZOMBIES.  Honey, get out of your mother’s basement and go get some fresh air.

    If someone compliments you on something you’re wearing, the correct response is:  “Thank you.”   That’s it.  No going on about how it was on sale, how you think maybe it’s too tight around your ass, or that it’s from two seasons ago.  “Thank you.”  Give it a try.

    See that basket over there?  The one with the sign that says:  “TAKE ONE”?  You are not obligated to take any, unless you’re an alcoholic, in which case you take at least three, whether you need them or not.

    Here’s the thing:  I can joke about being a recovering alcoholic.  But generally I’m not real into non-alcoholic people making jokes about alcoholics.  It’s like one of the last things it’s okay to make jokes about, because it’s still considered some kind of moral weakness on the part of the afflicted person, rather than what it actually is.  You don’t make jokes about cancer, do you?  Untreated alcoholism is every bit as deadly.  And to those who think it’s about weakness, here’s something to think about:  You have a mosquito bite.  Don’t scratch it.  No – don’t scratch it.  What’s that?  You scratched it?  Tsk….you’re so WEAK.

    That said, I also believe that once someone has accepted that he or she is an addict, that person has an obligation to do something about it.  And then, that person can make jokes and….oohhh, look – free refrigerator magnets!