Monday, February 20, 2017

Season 7 Episode 10 - Friends

Not to start out in a rant, but: what was up with the vernacular of the new group? The sentance structure was unbearable. I mean, they didn't have accents that would insinuate a misunderstanding of American grammar (An oxymoron, I know.). It was like Lord of the Flies, The Next Generation. We kill Piggy. You find Kirk to do fire. My gosh, it was like watching  Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger. Do you see me rolling my eyes? 

And let's not forget, the walker from Pan's Labyrinth. Gave me flashbacks of the two-weeks of nightmares I had after watching that movie. 

Sorry, I had to get that out of my system.

So, when we left the group last week, they were surrounded by our Lord of the Flies, dump-dwellers. 

Side Note: Has anyone else watched Life After People? Gosh, I would love those expert's jobs: the study of structural decay. In my spare time I like to take pictures of abandon architecture - an homage to my artist-mother's work - and it's fascinating how different climates have a different effect on the rate of decay of human-made structures. 
I often wonder while watching TWD if they take any of those sciences into consideration while filming. I know the zombies have gotten more decayed over time, though not nearly as much as one would expect. Seriously a zombie apocalypse would be the easiest apocalypse to survive - wait a year, maybe two, don't get bitten, keep cuts and sores clean, maybe go north where the zombies would freeze solid, and you're good to rebuild civilization. So this episode, I sincerely wondered how the dump would smell.
Even in an anaerobic environment, the initial organic-decay smell would be long gone. Plastic bags, which photo-degrade after a year of exposure to the elements and turn into plastic-dust, would be gone (assuming they were on the top of the pile). Natural fiber fabrics, cottons and wools, etc., would succumb to mold and mildew pretty quickly. So what's left? Metal, glass, rubber and things that start with "poly". You know the chemical smell of the inside of a car on a very hot summer day? That's what I imagine, only worse, as the sun, heat, and humidity break down the molecular ties of all that garbage. Maybe that's why the people can't speak anymore - they've spent the apocalypse huffing fumes.
 Anyway. I really liked that after telephone Rick and farmer Rick and crazy-eyed Rick, and tail-between-the-legs Rick have been replaced by leader Rick. I think, in all honesty, this is the first time we've seen this Rick. Sure, he showed a great deal of leadership qualities as officer Rick before the story arc between him and Shane came to a close. But this is different. He isn't as struggling with that role. And, first time ever, when Michone put her head on Rick's chest out of relief and mutual comfort and smiled up at him while he kissed her head...I could believe they were a couple. 

Father Gabriel also showed considerable character growth - leaving clues, taking a hostage...I haven't gotten this far into the comics, so I'm interested to see how his character plays out.

Meanwhile. Rosita. Ug. She and Richard need to just take their self-destructive teenage angst and go. The two actual teenagers aren't half as bad. I'm guessing there's a purpose to their nihilism and that when their characters do die, they'll go out with honor and dignity. Maybe Richard will save Carol and Rosita will save Sasha. Except that they stopped doing that when they killed off Beth, so we'll see. And while I'm on other characters: Tara. Wow. She lies like I do. How nobody said, "Hey, Tara, what are you hiding?" is beyond me. But, hey. Now they'll have five groups against Negan.

The reunion between Daryl and Carol: from the moment he found out where she was until he slipped off into the darkness, every moment of that was so sweet and so powerful. I've loved watching both of them since season two. Remember when Sophia was missing and Carol was so weak? Daryl told her a story about the trail of tears and gave her a flower as a sign that they would find Sophia. He does that now by telling Carol that they won against Negan and that everyone is fine. Daryl has always offered hope to Carol, and Carol has offered strength to Daryl. Their meeting felt like a final goodbye between the two of them; Carol getting her final dose of hope that her friends are safe and alive and Daryl getting enough strength to leave the kingdom and go back on his own.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Mid-season Premiere

I don't have a lot to say just yet. We changed cable companies a while back and TWD comes on an hour past my bedtime with the new company, so my brain is not functioning. I mean, it's 1 pm and my third cup of coffee isn't making a dent. Seriously.


It was a nice, light, happy episode with the most video game style zombie killing method ever devised. The hilltop is fed up with Negan and Gregory as that all-important dethroning of Gregory and exchange of power to Maggie gets set up. King Zeke threw me a curve ball by deciding not to join Rick's coup...for now.

I'm glad Daryl is over at the Kingdom so he can show those kids how to aim a bow. I'm guessing his presence in the Kingdom will have something to do with Ezekiel eventually changing his mind. Maybe Negan goes looking and finds Daryl. Maybe Daryl is more convincing than Rick. Who knows. Morgan admits that Rick was right and sometimes it's kill or be killed and he lies to Rick about Carol's whereabouts.

And then there's the good Reverand. I'm not quite sure what he's up to, but since I'm sure it's not holing up in some church while his parishioners claw at the siding, it's nice to see him take some initiative.

I watched the first few minutes of Talking Dead. I think I need new glasses because the director was sitting there and I thought it was the director of Sons of Anarchy until he started speaking and it threw me off so bad. I completely disagree with all of them going on about the chemistry of the cast on-screen. I'm sorry, but I don't buy the romantic couplings - as my teenager would say, "ships." It's like they're siblings or something. The only chemistry I see is the Rick/Daryl dynamic where I actually buy their relationship and maybe the Sasha/Rosita animosity.

Anyway, thoughts? Insights? Throw them out in the comments.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Warm Bodies

"My only love sprung from my only hate!
Too early seen unknown, and known too late!
Prodigious birth of love it is to me,
That I must love a loathed enemy"

I'm not your average chick-flick kinda girl. With few exceptions, romantic comedies take a back seat to most other movies by choice. Warm Bodies (2013) is one that makes the cut. I normally wait for movies to come out on TV - not DVD or blue ray, TV, but as soon as Warm Bodies hit Redbox, I had to see it. I was not disappointed.

Warm bodies is a modern adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet based on the book of the same name by Issac Marion. It's set in an alternate reality where zombies have taken over as the dominant species.

"R" played by Nicholas Hoult is a zombie living at the airport. The zombie disease progresses in levels. R and most of his peers are the standard, brain-loving zombies called corpses. They eat human flesh and wander slow and aimlessly through the area they were when they died but they still have remnants of their humanity. They look like humans, move like humans, and through R's inner dialogue we learn that they think like humans though on a rudimentary level. The zombies, in this way, are paralleled to the human condition where the plague is a symbol for the loss of human connection through the overuse of technology.

Then there are the "bonies" who have progressed to the final stage of the plague. Bonies are the main protagonist in Warm Bodies. They've lost their human form and their human thought. Their only goal is to eat. According to R's narration, "They call these guys Bonies. They don't bother us much, but they'll eat anything with a heartbeat. I mean, I will too, but at least I'm conflicted about it."

Enter Julie. Julie, an uninfected human and daughter of the survivor's leader. She and her team get caught by zombies on a supply run and R eats her boyfriend. He then fixates his gaze on Julie but instead of eating her, he kidnaps her and falls in love with her. Over time, she falls in love with him too. Meanwhile, their contact with one another cures him of the plague, bringing warmth into his dead body (Which is, of course, the opposite of the conclusion of Romeo and Juliet.). With the alliance of the corpses and the humans, they bring down the impending scourge of bonies and bring to life those who were once dead.

Warm bodies is a fun, albeit different take, on the zombie trope and a great addition to any zombie library. For further reading, this is a good place to look.
*Only 18 days till the return of TWD*

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Snacking Dead

This is a review of the cookbook, The Snacking Dead - A Parody in a Cookbook by DB Walker

A few years ago it seemed like everything was a Walking Dead parody - including cookbooks.

The Snacking Dead is a fun cookbook with spectacular pictures. Each recipe is accompanied by a story about surviving the outbreak and each has a clever Walking Dead invocative name. I assumed this was more of a survival-food cookbook, but most of the recipes are standard American fare with a twist.

Today I'm making Guac and Load Guacamole.

I picked this recipe because I had some avacado that needed to be used.
Step 1. Put all ingredients in a bowl. (avocado, green onion, jalapeno, lime juice)
Step 2. Mash it together with a fork or if you're lazy, like me, throw it in a food processor.
Step 3. Ignore the book and add garlic powder, seasoning salt, and cumin.
4. Serve with tortilla chips or on chimichangas or tacos.

That's it. 

We're guacamole purists here so I was worried it wouldn't go over well but my kids licked the bowl clean which I consider a food success.

The Snacking Dead isn't a daily-use cookbook, but if you like amazing food pictures, it's a fun one to add to your collection of zombie heads in fish tanks.

On the back of the book is a website, but it's down now. It can be purchased at Amazon.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Floating around this house somewhere is a copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith, a parody of Jane Austin's famous Pride and Prejudice. It was a birthday gift from my mom. I've been trying to find it for three weeks so I could finally read it. I hadn't bothered before because the words "Pride and Prejudice" nearly sends me into convulsions. I hate that book and did every time (four - I had to read it four times) it was assigned for school reading. But the movie was good, so it deserves a shot. I mean, who doesn't want to see aristocrats from the Regency period get eaten by reanimated corpses?
I finally found it!
Themes: Love, honor, vanity, and zombies.
Genre: Apocalyptic Romance (that was weird to type).

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is set in an alternate reality in Britain during the Regency period in the countryside of the gentry - the upper class - during a long war against the living dead. Unlike London, the country lives in relative peace, saved by the protection of a wall around the city where most of the dead are contained.

While the original toyed with themes of love, its real value as a literary classic was its commentary on the social structure and the roles of women in society and their value therein. Their value as a gender relies solely on their value as a potential wife. Love is secondary to accomplishment in the delicate arts of entertaining with skill on the Pianoforte (a predecessor to the modern piano) standing as a symbol of utmost femininity and culture. Young ladies of this culture are pitted in a vicious competition to marry well. 

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies adds an additional accomplishment to the list: skill in martial arts with the different styles and schools drawing a clear line in the subtle variances of high social class. This plays a huge role in the story arc between Mr. Darcy and Miss Bennett and symbolizes the cutthroat life of high society by paralleling the kill or be killed reality of a zombie apocalypse.

The plot follows the original love story between Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley) and Miss Bennett (Lily James) except for one little detail; Mr. Darcy is an expert zombie hunter. Well known for his skill in rooting out the most clever of zombies and his thoroughness of eradicating them, Mr. Darcy comes across as pretentious and apathetic in social situations which is only matched by Miss Bennett's obstinance and pride.

Once they realize their folly in judgment of one another, the duo, equal on the battlefield of both love and war, defeat the vile foe and turn the tides on the war against the reanimated dead, and find a place within each other's arms.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was a fun take on the genre as well as an interesting and creative adaptation of a classic novel. Well worth the watch.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Hearts Still Beating

Sorry, once again, for the delay. I had to watch this episode three times for it to sink in and I still feel like I'm missing something. Before I get started for real, I can't help myself...

Why didn't Spencer cross the road?
Because he didn't have the guts.

I crack myself up. Sorry. That was a joke we told in elementary - only replace "Spencer" with skeleton. I've been waiting all week to use it.

It's been a week since the season-seven mid-season finale (try saying that three times, fast) of TWD. While this season has felt really, really slow, it's actually following pretty close to it's normal story progression. It is both mid-season and the mid-point of the story (not to be confused with the climax). At this point we've been introduced to all new characters and our protagonists are facing the catalyst for the upcoming battle - they know what needs to happen, but they're not quite done figuring out the details and there are still a whole bunch of loose ends to tie together. While last season danced with the theme of morality, this season - and this episode - is about power.

What we know so far:
  • Negan is the bad guy.
  • Negan rules by fear and intimidation.
  • Negan has the numbers. "We're all Negan."
  • There are five colonies, three of whom Negan controls, one is hidden, and of course, one is where he resides. Everyone within his circle of influence is pretty sick of dealing with Negan. I mean, his own people are practically begging to be shot just to escape.
  • Rick and crew are the only ones who know everyone (though not everyone knows everyone) so they'll be the ones to bring all the communities together.
At the Hilltop:

The story starts with Maggie at the Hilltop, mourning Glen and wearing a hat reminiscent of the one Glen wore in seasons one and two. On TWD, hats play an important role in the lives of the characters. Glen stopped wearing his hat when he and Maggie became a couple, this is thought to be because his character evolved and matured, but maybe it's something more. In some cultures a hat is a sign of protection (Which is the point of a hat anyway, isn't it? They protect the wearer from sun, rain, cold, and wind...). Together, he and Maggie protected one another. Now that she's alone, she wears a hat. Or maybe it's just hot.

That doesn't make her vulnerable though, probably less so. Maggie is craving apples. In history, literature, and lore, apples symbolize everything from knowledge to luck to evil to love. Apples are often depicted as the forbidden fruit in the story of Adam and Eve, holding knowledge and mortality within its peel. In Norse lore, apples grant immortality to the gods. In one Norse story in particular, Loki kidnaps Iduna, caretaker of the apple tree of the gods. In her absence, the apple tree fails to produce fruit and as a result the gods age and become mortal. By taking Iduna (and her apples) Loki takes power away from the gods. In Hearts Still Beating, Maggie takes, and eats, Gregory's apple - removing him from his position of power in the process. Later, when the Hilltopers give her an apple pie (which she eats barehanded - love it) they solidify her as their chosen leader of the Hilltop.

Daryl's Escape:

Any clue what those little figurines were?

Daryl escapes at the prompting of a note left under his door. I'm going to speculate that it was from Dwight (who switches sides in the comics). Anyway. After eating, changing his clothes, and sneaking out of the compound's walls, Daryl finally makes it outside and back to his bike - his apple, his symbol of power and freedom. There, a Savior, "Fat Joey" catches him in the act and says he'll let Daryl go. Daryl kills him with a pipe and it is darkly reminiscent of Glen and Abraham's deaths. He then removes a revolver - Rick's revolver - from the Joey's belt before leaving with Jesus (who was still lurking since Carl's visit) on the bike.

The Kingdom:

Richard talks to Morgan and Carol about needing to take out the Saviors. He tells them how Negan took control and about the fragile peace they've formed. What he says foreshadows the near-end of the episode when Negan confronts Rick at Alexandria. 
"Sooner or later something will go wrong. Maybe we'll be light on a drop, or maybe one of ours will look at one of theirs the wrong way, or maybe they'll just decide to stop honoring the deal. Things will go bad and when they do the kingdom will fall....I'm scared that if we don't do something now we won't only lose more people - we'll lose everything. I know what the Saviors are and I know what they do and I know they cannot be trusted. and I think you know that too."
 - Richard

He accurately assess the character of the Saviors and the future they can expect if they work with them. This is echoed in Daryl's words to Fat Joey's corpse before his escape. "It ain't just about getting by here. It's about getting it all."

The Pond Walkers:

Side note, since Dawn of the Dead, I've always assumed boats would be the safest place in a zombie apocalypse. Hearts Still Beating took that theory and drowned it. I shiver just thinking about it.

Anyway, it's in these scenes that we get the theme of this episode and of the rest of the season. Inside one of the buckets on the boat, they find a note with a big one finger salute drawn down the middle.

"Congrats for winning, but you still lose."

This foreshadows the war to come on both sides. Negan is winning, but he's going to lose. The colonies are going to win. But there will be loss. Why they didn't chuck the note is beyond me, but Aaron takes a beating for it when they get back to Alexandria. On the road we get a glimpse of why Arron allows himself to get beaten and why he is willing to risk his life to scavenge for Negan. His motivation is similar to Rick's - you do what you have to do to protect the ones you love. When he explains this to Rick, Aaron gives the episode its name.
"Either your heart's beating or it isn't. Your loved ones hearts are beating or they aren't."
This ties in with Rick and Michone's conversation later inside the jail. They will fight so their loved one's hearts can beat one more day. Negan will never allow all of them to live. He's killed upward of five Alexandrians so far and, like Richard pointed out and like Daryl pointed out, it's never going to be enough. He left Alexandria with these words, "[Eugene] and whatever you left for me at the front gate and however much you scavenged, it's not good enough."

Spoiler: Negan ends up living in the jail.

Rosita's Bullet:

After guileful Spencer's prophecy about Rick and following disembowelment, Rosita takes her one and only shot at Negan in the second failed assassination attempt so far. Instead of hitting Negan, however, her one bullet hits Lucile, Negan's alter-ego, permanently damaging the bat; and in that instant, it isn't just Lucile who is damaged, but Negan's phallic symbol of power is scarred as well.

United at the Hilltop:

We finally get the feel-good reunion we've been waiting for since the premiere. Everyone hugs. Most of them cry. Sasha and Rosita bury the hatchet. Daryl gives Rick his revolver. This act restores Ricks power which had been in the hands of the Saviors. Our team is back together.

And to tie it all together:
  • Everyone wants to kill Negan. They're all on the same page.
  • They know how powerful Negan is (thanks to Michone's reconnaissance work).
  • They know they all want to kill Negan.
  • They're going to win.
Now all our protagonists have to do is unite all the communities and defeat Negan. That's simple, right? Only two more months until we can watch them do it.

A few more things:

The shoe in the forest: This is another group of survivors that we'll probably meet at the end of the season or at the beginning of the next season - they're either "The Survivors" good guys, or "The Whisperers" the bad guys. I didn't watch Talking Dead to find out which.

Where did the actual church come from? Weren't they meeting in a house before? With folding chairs?

Happy Holidays.

Monday, December 5, 2016

A Twofer

Before I get started...

I usually don't sign out of Blogger, but I guess my daughter was the last one to use the computer; so when I pulled up the main page it was all new and pretty...if you haven't seen it, log out of google and take a look. Based on the new sign in page, I might think about starting a blog.

Side note: We were probably the last people in the US to get a Netflix subscription until last Sunday and since then it's been a Marvel marathon in my house. So I'm behind on TWD. Side-side note: Luke Cage - not bad. I'm not really into the whole super hero thing, but it sucked me in. Daredevil? It's my own personal sleeping pill. Seriously. But I finally commandeered the remote and get caught up on TWD

Season 7 Episode 6 - Swear (Swear? Really? Is that really the name of this episode?)
AKA: The Tara Episode

This week, much to the chagrin of half the internet, TWD did another small group/new colony episode.

Tara and Heath (who I honestly forgot were gone) were out scavenging and were completely clueless about the happenings with Negan and Denise and the Alexandrians. After coming up to a bridge, they found themselves in a precarious situation with sand zombies. Weren't those killer? They were my favorite walkers since the season two "well zombie." Then they got separated when Tara fell off the side of the bridge into the river below.

Tara washed up on shore, unconcious, where her life was spared by a new character, Cindy (the moral compass of Oceanside). Tara followed Cindy into the woods to find a thriving, female-only community. My heart pumped a little bit when I saw them. The first thing that came to mind when Tara stumbled upon them was The Wicker Man and I secretly hoped for a new villain that would rear its ugly head just as Negan dies off - via Oceanside - and lamented that Terminus wasn't a women-only group of cannibals who assimilates the women and eats the men. Sadly, none of those things happened. Oceanside is just another in the growing string of Negan's victims.

After some back story and stew at Oceanside, Tara narrowly escapeed an execution, agian with the help of Cindy. When she arrives at the bridge, Heath is gone, but he left a trail of breadcrumbs for Tara. Tara arrived home (without sign of Heath) and found out that Alexandria has been victim to the wrath of Negan and Denise is dead.

When I'm behind, I'm not in analyze, English nerd mode. There were a few exceptions though - flashbacks. Flashbacks are tricky in the way writing a novel in first person is tricky (I'm looking at you Hunger Games and The Help). It can be done successfully by the right writer. Not everyone can pull it off, however, because it pulls the reader (or in this case, viewer) out of the story. Maybe this is why Daredevil puts me to sleep. Anyway, the Tara episode is full of them and it felt a little disjointed as a result.

The episode, in my opinion, worked despite this flaw. I liked the Oceanside community and Tara's motivation as a character in past episodes finally came to light. There were more children than in any of the other communities so far. I've always assumed that the plague targeted children disproportionately. They have weaker immune systems, their physical limitations would make defending themselves borderline impossible, and their natural curiosity and naiveté makes them vulnerable to attack, so it makes sense. Yet the presence of children seems to be an indicator in TWD world of whether a community is thriving or just surviving and here they are at Oceanside, thiring, going to school, washing up before dinner...having an almost-normal childhood experience. We saw this at the prison in season four too. By contrast, there are no children at the saviors compound, and few, if any, at the Hilltop and Alexandria. I guess this makes Maggie's pregnancy even more significant in that it foreshadows prosperity to come.

Episode 7 - Blazing Hell

So far this season there's been a lot of set up on TWD and not a lot of real story progression. Think of the premiere as the last episode of season six and episodes two through six as a prologue (Which, lets be honest, could've been accomplished in two episodes). Episode 7 is the real beginning of the story.

At this point we catch up with Jesus and Carl, who have been sabotaging the truck of goods on their ride to Negan's compound. Like Heath, blue-eyed Jesus is leaving a trail of sticky breadcrumbs behind them before rolling off the back of the truck just before arrival at the compound. Carl, in his ill-conceived plan, stays inside the truck in hopes of assassinating Negan. His attempt fails and instead, Negan (impressed with Carl's pluck) takes him under his wing, showing him all the spoils that could, presumably, be his. Meanwhile, Michone, Rosita, and Spencer take the same (albeit slower) path to Negan, perhaps never hearing that "revenge is a dish best served cold." And the preacher is full team-Rick.

So far, TWD has been Ricks coming of age story where Rick's biggest enemy has always been himself. If the writers take this story seriously, that will change and the villain of the story will, instead, be his legacy. For several seasons, the balance between good and evil has slowly tipped toward evil in both Rick and Carl. Lori, Carl's mother, was the tie that bound Rick and Carl to the world-that-was and to humanity itself. As her memory fades, so does their humanity. Now under the fatherly hand of Negan (yes, I said fatherly) the evil of Carl's inner nature can be fully actualized in an age old story of father vs. son and Rick will have to decide between trying to save his only son, or sacrificing him on the alter of The Walking Dead.