Posts Tagged ‘zombies


My New Life’s Ambition Involves Zombies

I have a lot of ambition.

Some of it has been realized—attending and covering the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama and covering the NFL Draft live at Radio City Music Hall. I’ve done both for about five years now.

Some of it has not—I want to cover the Super Bowl, I want to publish a book and I want to sky dive.

I’ll get to them at some point of course.

I have a new ambition now, one which may not be easy, but I’m putting it out into the universe anyway.

My newest ambition is to to get on The Talking Dead.

image via AMC

For those of you unfamiliar, The Talking Dead is a talk show, hosted by Chris Hardwick of Nerdist fame, which airs right after each episode of The Walking Dead, the awesome zombie television show on AMC.

You might also recognize his voice from Back to the Barnyard.

Basically, the show gathers Hardwick and three other people (sometimes cast members, sometimes celebrity fans) who then talk about the show in general as well as the episode we just saw.

Man, I so need to be on this show.

I would be an awesome guest. I know the show and comic backwards and forwards. I’m funny (RIGHT?) and well spoken.

I’m even semi-famous thanks to the videos I do at Bleacher Report.

I’ve got it all!

Hey, I even have a post planned for sometime in the next few weeks (one of the Pops in Pop Culture pieces) about Rick Grimes as a dad.

Honestly, there’s no harder job than parenting during the apocalypse. You can’t even fob them off on the public school system to get a break from the little monsters.

Yeah, I’ve got takes for days about this show.

So there it is. I’m not sure how to make it happen yet, but it will happen.

Then I just have to get the kids on The Walking Dead itself as zombies and all will be well.

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Cutting the Cable Cord

So when we moved coasts (West to East), we decided to cut the cable cord.

Actually my wife wanted to, while I was more reluctant.

Four years later, I don’t miss it much and as it stands she was once again right.

Being in a beach house with cable reminds me jut how little I miss it. Seriously, how much crap I don’t want to watch can you produce?

Lots, apparently.

We do Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime streaming and while we miss some shows live (especially ones we get into late), those are few and far between. Not to mention the fact that we get to watch when we want to watch.

With DVRs, streaming and other techie goodness, that’s the way of the future and frankly, Hollywood and the Cable Companies are just spitting in the wind as they try to prevent it.

The only issue has ever been sports, but there are a ton of ways around that, not the least of which is heading to a bar.

The added benefit of cutting the cord has been that the kids are less inundated with ads, resulting in less bouts of MEMEMEMEMEMEMEMENEEDNEEDNEED that seem to happen when they have full TV for a week.

I don’t think they miss it. Hell, Alpha Tween started the vacation week pushing to go to the beach and specifically said he didn’t want to watch TV.

Not to say he hasn’t or won’t just that he wanted to do not watch.

Sometimes they get caught up in screen time with the Ipad or streaming anyway, but we’ve reduced it a bunch and will continue to especially during school.

I used to think we might be rare freaks for this, but turns out we aren’t.

This past weekend we went into Queens for a friend’s 4oth birthday and I met multiple people who had done the same. It was really surprising.

As a country, we appear to be pretty attached to our televisions, but that seems to be changing. People are cutting back on their cable and spending less and less money on it.

Now, it doesn’t mean we aren’t over-wired because, well here we are on a blog while I am on vacation and I’ve been on Twitter all day as well. We’re still pretty attached to our “stuff”.

However, we can and do control how and when we (and our kids) watch. The trick is to fill that non-screen time with activity – be it hunting for turtles like we did this afternoon or reading (our kids, thank goodness, are avid readers) or a million other things.

Do rather than watch. Not all the time but more often.

Computer games and screen time is fine. Sometimes, though, we let it take over our lives, especially television.

I’m thankful for Netflix, Hulu and the rest. For streaming sports when NBC gets around to airing the Olympics. For all the different ways we can get content delivered to us when we want it versus when “they” say we can have it.

For the chance to take control of our lives and choose to do other things.

I’m actually pretty happy we cut the cord, so much so that 99% of the time I don’t even think about it.

It’s nice to know that, apparently, we’re not alone.

I’d be curious how many of you don’t have cable or, even if you do,how much more you watch online than live. Let me know in the comments.

I’m off to the beach for a bit.

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One Week Late Movie Review – World War Z

I can't have any of this crap on my current diet so I am just torturing myself now

I can’t have any of this crap on my current diet so I am just torturing myself now

So I was thinking, who ever gets to the movies on opening night anymore? Once they have kids?

Sometimes you can get a sitter and sometimes it’s worth it, but honestly, the hassle and crowds and your kids often make it easier to wait. And as they get older, sometimes you want to wait because it’s something the kids might enjoy.

For example , I don’t often make it out to any Marvel Superhero movie on opening weekend because the boys are always really eager to see it as well. So at times, I have to wait.

It seems then, I am always a week late.

How about a review that’s a week late then? After the hype has died down and all the reviews which said the same thing over and over again, how about a fresh pair of eyes to tell you whether it’s worth your time?

Welcome then to the One Week Late Movie Review.

Don’t expect this to be too regular because I’m a parent and I don’t get out all that much, right?

Tonight we’re talking World War Z, the Brad Pitt Zombie movie inspired by the fabulous Max Brooks book of the same name – which I can’t recommend highly enough (but that’s a whole different column).

WWZ is PG-13, runs about 116 minutes (minus the 45 minutes of ads, commercials and trailers prior to the film) and also stars… well honestly nobody much you’d recognize. Really this movie is all about Pitt.

Oh Matthew Fox is in it (you know, the dude from LOST?) but if you blink you miss him.

By the way, from here on out there be spoilers, so beware!

seriously kids don't open that door if you don't want them

seriously kids don’t open that door if you don’t want them


The plot revolves around family man and ex-United Nations employee/trouble shooter Gerry Lane (Pitt) as he tries to figure out how to counter or at least slow the zombie plague.

And oh yes, they call them zombies. Not “infected”, not “diseased” – these are zombies. There’s even a nice little moment when the concept of zombies gets scoffed at, but really only by the science geeks “safe” on the flotilla cobbled together from US Navy ships.

As always the grunt on the ground embrace the reality facing them more quickly.

We follow Lane as he and his family flee Philadelphia, fight their way out of Newark (which really didn’t look much different than usual zing!), and meet the flotilla. We then follow Lane solo as he hops around the globe (South Korea, Israel, Cardiff) in the hopes that somewhere lies an answer.

As I said, this is Pitt/Lane’s movie – nearly everyone around him is cannon fodder until the final act – but the writers (and there were many) did a fair job making you give a damn what happens to him.

In the end, Lane notices a pattern amongst those the “zekes” (a nice nod to the book) don’t try to attack and is able to formulate a plan to camouflage the rest of us from the living dead, if only for a while.


I think so. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, despite grave reservations because even from the trailers I knew it wasn’t going to resemble the book at all.

And then Beppo understood what they had told him at Clown College - helicopters and clown car tricks don't mix

And then Beppo understood what they had told him at Clown College – helicopters and clown car tricks don’t mix

By the way, this is absolutely not a horror movie. I can see an argument for it as a thriller or an action movie, but it isn’t a scare flick. It trades on tension, which builds right from the beginning and ebbs and flows throughout the whole movie.

The opening act is about as tense a sequence as I’ve seen in a movie like this in some time and the movie does a good job building and releasing tension throughout. It slows down a little near the end, although given a lot of the final act slow might be a poor choice of words.

World War Z is almost completely bloodless, by the way – for a zombie movie, ridiculously so. For the most part, because it trades in tension, not horror, it works. But there are times it doesn’t, such as when Lane gets his crowbar stuck in a zombie’s head.

As Lane attempts to yank it out, another zombie is heading towards him. Lane sees the guy and keeps yanking at the crowbar.

The problem is, the director and editor clearly cropped the shot so we couldn’t see the crowbar stuck in the head. They didn’t want the younger audience to throw up, I guess, as the brains and gore came out.

Which is fine for about five seconds and then, really, it gets silly and completely ruins the moment. You can’t see what Lane is doing, even in wide shots and reverse angles.

I understand the desire for a wider audience and I get why a studio would want it so bloodless. But then make sure you shoot it in a way where we don’t realize it in such an obvious manner.

On the other hand, the movie is high paced, fun and definitely got the packed house I was in going. While some sniggered at a few points, everyone enjoyed themselves quite a bit.

That’s in large part due to Pitt’s performance. I’m a huge fan of him – he has some tremendous range and a lot of charisma and it’s the force of his personality which really pulls you through the movie. With so many other interchangeable “red shirts” in the flick, he had to be.

Props to the writers too, for some nice touches which sucked you into caring about Lane.

Honey, I think those Justin Bieber fans might be rabid

Honey, I think those Justin Bieber fans might be rabid

The opening act, as I mentioned, is incredibly tense and throughout it you get the sense of how much he cares for his family and they him.

It’s also helped along by the all-too-believable government jerks which often serve as fulcrums to move us towards caring for a main character in movies like this.

The government/military really screws his family. I mean, totally bones them in a cold, hard fashion which I feel was pretty damned realistic. Lane doesn’t want to go on this mission once he makes the flotilla. He’s barely survived and wants to do nothing more than remain with his family – which any dad or mom can imagine being the case.

But the General in charge of the recovery/combat effort very quickly boxes him into a corner: you go on the mission, your family can stay. You decide against going and you and your family are ass out of luck. They’ll get sent to a relocation camp.

Faced the prospect that nowhere is as safe as a floating boat filled with armed soldiers, Lane goes. How could he not?

Then at one point, Lane has disappeared and is believed dead.  What happens? The captain and general toss the Lane’s out anyway.

Which you can believe because the military is all about resources and calculating what to spend them on. Once Lane is believed dead, wasting resources keeping his family on board a crowded aircraft carrier doesn’t make sense.

Still, it plays as cruel to the audience and makes it hard not to care for a character at that point.

Lane is smart too. Early on he gets jumped by a zombie which proceeds to drip blood and goop all over Lane’s face, including in his mouth. How he prepares himself to keep his family safe while he waits to potentially turn into a zombie is smart and almost takes you a second to realize why he’s doing what he’s doing.

Kids, the popcorn line is getting out of control. We may need to skip it.

Kids, the popcorn line is getting out of control. We may need to skip it.

They also do a great job with some of the supporting characters, short lived though they often are.

The army grunts in the South Korea base are marvelous and capture our conception of soldiers having to deal with civvies and outsiders playing catch-up perfectly. The Massad agent Lane hooks up with in Israel is also solid.

Sometimes they aren’t as flushed out – the Israeli soldier who makes it to Cardiff with him could have used more personality – but often the writers did a good job with little time to work with.

Overall, I really liked this movie. It was a great summer flick and probably above average from your usual fare like Transformers and the upcoming Pacific Rim which tend towards really loud and dumb.

This has some stupid moments (if you need to break into a base which has infected people in it and they are filling the main hallway you need to walk in, why not head to the roof to go over them?) but they aren’t too frequent and frankly they go by so fast you tend to forget them.

Again, if you are going to this hoping to see a film version of the book, don’t.

You will come away, if not angry, really annoyed. There are nods (soldiers calling the zombies “zeke”, the brief debate about whether a bat or axe is a better anti-zombie weapon, the Israeli wall) but that’s about it. I understand the very first draft or two were closer to the book, but I have to wonder if things like The Walking Dead scared them off.

Hopefully someday, somebody will make a miniseries of the book because it deserves that treatment.

And again, if you go looking for the usual horror and gore, you will come away equally unfulfilled.

But if you go looking for a fun action/thriller, you should walk away happy.


Sometimes for these reviews I think it will be a very easy decision, but this isn’t. This is truly a matter of what your kid can handle in terms of both tension and visual stimuli (there is enough CGI to choke a CGI horse in this thing).

If at first you don't succeed, pile up more zombies

If at first you don’t succeed, pile up more zombies

As I said, it’s not horror and there is no real gore. The violence isn’t really hard core and aside from some blood when Lane gets hurt, it’s a very “off the screen” flick – a hand gets chopped off, the crowbar gets stuck, people get bit (though it never seems as if the zombies are eating them) but it always happens off camera.

So they won’t be exposed to tremendous blood and entrails, but as I said there is a high amount of tension. The threat of violence can almost be worse for some kids than actual violence. It’s PG13 so you know it’s not too bad, but it might be worth seeing it first.

I have gone back and forth with The Wife about taking the Alpha Tween to this movie. He’s seen Shaun of the Dead which is more gory and was fine with it (she says he had nightmares, he bristles at the accusation). However he recently sat through The Impossible with my wife and the tension really seemed to get to him.

So I don’t know if I would take him at this point. I usually err on the side of “why not” at his age, but given the Wife’s concerns, we’ll probably pass.

For your kids it all depends on how they handle that stress.

There’s little gore and very few scares though, so if that’s your main concern you should be fine.

Overall I enjoyed it and it’s worth a night out.

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What I’m Into:

Reading: Dead Beat by Jim Butcher Listening to: The Heist, Macklemore Watching: Damages