Thursday, December 31, 2009

Viral Zombies: 28 Reasons to Fear Men

Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.

I tried thinking about what to write this week and honestly had some difficulties. I tried to think of something that would be an appropriate New Year’s theme, but what kind of New Year’s Resolutions could a zombie have?

1. Eat more brains.

2. Eat more brains.

3. Eat more brains?

. . .Not very entertaining.


As I struggled to think about what to write, fortunately the FX network was reading my mind. Or helping my mind to fill with thoughts of zombies! FX showed two wonderful films back to back- 28 Weeks Later and 28 Days Later. For those of you who are familiar with these films, yes, ‘Days’ does come before ‘Weeks.’ For some reason though, they aired the “sequel” first, followed by the original ‘Days.’ For those not familiar with these films... confused yet? I’m a bit confused and I own them both!

Now here is the point where I should probably throw in a ****SPOILERS!!**** warning. Normally, I avoid writing any sort of spoilers in reviews and such. And if I were writing a simple review of the film(s), there would not be any. For those who have seen the film, the next part will be boring. If you don’t care about being spoiled and haven’t seen the movies, I am going to quickly tell you the plot and move on to what I think is the most interesting aspect of the film. So, you have been warned...

28 Days Later came out in 2002 and was directed by Danny Boyle, the same man who brought us Trainspotting  and  A Life Less Ordinary (I won’t mention Slumdog Millionaire in that list due to some residual bitterness, but you may recognize that film as his due to more recent buzz surrounding it). Some of you may argue that Days doesn’t qualify as a *real* zombie film. We’ll get into that debate later in future weeks...but for now let’s just assume I’ve already won that fight and convinced you that, yes, the extremely fast and mobile infected of 28 Days Later fit into the zombie category.

The basic plot is easy-- scientists force some monkeys to watch nothing but violent news and video clips. This act in turn creates a sort of neuro-virus that is only referred to as “Rage.”  The Rage Virus infects a host and instantly turns them into a rabid being intent on nothing else but killing, maiming, and beating the crap out of someone. Some British PETA-type people decide it would be a great idea to let these chimps out of their cages, despite warnings and clear evidence that these are NOT normal chimpanzees. They get out of their cages, attack everyone in the room... and we jump to 28 days later in the film.

A man, Jim, wakes up from a coma in the hospital. It is completely empty. In fact, Jim discovers that most of London is abandoned. I say most, because, yes... it is kind of overrun with infected zombies. Along the way Jim meets some people who are not infected and together they fight to survive. Of course, not everyone does, but that’s okay. Jim remains safe, as does his new lady friend and together they join up with a father/daughter team who have managed to stay alive in their apartment complex. They all hear an AM frequency that states someone has “the answer and cure to infection.” They must travel to a military blockade to find these people that they hope are actually there. As the travel in and out of London they get into some shenanigans with the zombies, some drugs, and a grocery store.

They finally make it to the blockade that looks abandoned as well. At the very last moment the father of the father/daughter duo becomes infected, and out of no where... SOLDIERS! The shoot him about fifty times and take Jim, his lady friend, and the daughter to a huge mansion estate.

And here is where it actually gets interesting.


It turns out... there is no cure for the infection.  But the soldiers do have an answer to infection... repopulation. It turns out their leader started the broadcast and promised it would bring women who they could have sex with and start the world over.

I won’t go into the details of the ending, although it does have a pretty cool climax. But what I find so intriguing about this movie is the action from when they first meet the soldiers.  The beginning of the movie, while cool, is pretty typical zombie, in my opinion. The second half really makes you think-- what would the world be like after a devastating infection? What lengths would you go to to survive?

The small group of soldiers who have managed to survive have a pretty nice set up, as far as post-apocalyptic worlds go. They have food, good shelter, and lots of guns. Plus a broadcast that can bring other survivors to them. If there’s one thing you want to do during a zombie infection, it would be to join forces with others. But the isolation and terror of the situation has turned these soldiers into... monsters? They see two girls, one who is fairly young, and can think of nothing but sleeping with them. The fact that they are going to rape them does not seem to bother the men at all. What would drive a person to that degree of desperation? We don’t get to see the men before the outbreak. Perhaps they were always pigs?

Here we have a zombie film where the zombies may not be the most frightening things in the film. I think that is why this film was so commercially and critically successful. It takes a normal zombie set up and makes you think you know what is coming.-- people survive, they keep getting into fights with zombies. They run, they get chased, etc.  But this movie really flips all that around and in the end, it isn’t the zombies that are the largest threat! The humans are-- kind of an evil deus ex machina.

Every time I see this movie, more so than any other zombie film, I really try to put myself in the spot of the survivors. It is difficult to even imagine that world and the measures to which some would resort.

In the end, I think this is a movie that really makes you think. If you watch the bonus features you can see a storyboarded completely “radical” alternate ending where the soldiers play no part in the second half of the film. I’m glad they decided not to go with the alternate ending because if they had, this film would still have been good, but would have lost the more psychologically disturbing aspect the final cut gives. The follow up film 28 Weeks Later loses some of the originals creativity, although it would be difficult to deliver the same kind of shock value as the soldiers gave us in the first. Weeks ends up being a more traditional “run from the zombies chasing you” film, although the very ending is pretty cool...

For those who have seen these films, what do you think? What are your opinions on the soldiers, what they seem to be reduced to, and what their plans are for world repopulation?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Funny Hats and How to Best Use Them

Now that the season has past, I can admit that I wasn't in a Christmas-y mood this year - despite the tacky holiday display. The whole thing was a hassle. The only upside of Christmas this year was my post-holiday exchange with two of my best friends.

D (follower of this blog), Steph, and I have been friends for a long time and have had years of gift-giving. For anyone who buys presents for someone year after year, you know that eventually you'll hit the wall of "I have no clue what to get them that's not a gift card." Still, every post-college year, the three of us meet for lunch and exchange gifts.

This year there was a debate about doing gifts. Steph and I had already discussed a cheap price limit and I repeated it in an email that read: "Steph and I were discussing a $20 cap the other day. Cap meaning limit. Unless we want to buy each other stupid hats. Which could be pretty funny."

That was all it took to create our first ever stupid hat exchange.

The Rules
1. Must be a nontraditional hat, meaning we have to go beyond the knit cap, beret, or baseball hat.
2. But it can't be a farm animal hat or a Christmas type Santa hat.
3. We have a $20 limit.
4. Once opened, we must wear a hat during dinner.


After weeks of us taunting each other with "wait until you see your hat," the three of us and Steph's daughter met at Not Your Average Joe's for lunch. With all the crazy hats in the world, both Danielle and I got identical hats. (All photos courtesy of D and Steph.)

We had so much fun with the stupid hat exchange that we're going to do something similar next year. The hat exchange and my tacky wreath were the highlights of Christmas 2009 for sure.


Now that we started a new holiday tradition, I'm sure it will be a matter of time before we end up planning the stupid costume exchange. Or we end up building our own with our yearly gifts. There is talk now of a silly hat party, which will be pretty awesome.

And to top it all off, Cedric now has two new hats to wear during the winter months as I'm sure he'll be cold on the front porch. (Assuming cardboard wizard-vampires get cold, that is.)

You can see more pictures from the silly hats on my Facebook page.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Blog Spotlight: Be Nice to a Stranger

I was originally going to talk about Stripey today, but changed my mind.

Be Nice to a Stranger is a project that (fellow writer and blog follower) Erinn has undertaken. The goal is to do one nice thing for a stranger for the month of December. The nice activity varies from calling the insurance company just to tell them they are doing a good job to helping pay for someone's medication.

We should be nice all the time, but I'm the first to admit that I'm rather bitchy and Masshole-y instead. Reading about what Erinn's doing reminds me of my shortcomings in that department and still makes me feel a little fuzzy inside because in the month where most people forget what is meant by "the spirit of Christmas," Erinn is encapsulating it.

And now through the end of the year, she's going to donate money to a charity for every comment on her blog entry.

So go over to Erinn's December project and read about what she has done. There's still a couple of days left in the month so maybe we can all follow Erinn's lead and make someone's day.

Monday, December 28, 2009

My Mini Vacation

Unofficially, my vacation started on Christmas Eve. (When you work in educational software, there isn't much to do between 12/24 and 1/2.) Officially, it starts tomorrow at noon and ends the moment I wake up on January 4. And I've got plans.


What are they?
Besides doing a fabulous hat exchange with two good friends, writerly stuff.

Like what?
Revising my YA project, FALLING TO NORMAL.

This was supposed to happen on December 1, but I was hijacked by my NaNoWriMo project until mid-December. (A separate entry will happen discussing that later this week.) All Hubby heard while I sat at the kitchen table over the weekend was me huffing in five minute intervals. It was just as I feared - I have to go back a version.

Isn't that counter-productive?
Well, yes, but sometimes you have to go backwards before you go forwards. Think of it as a weird version of Mother May I? If you forget something crucial in the game, you're sent back to the starting line. In writing, it's the same thing. If something wasn't added at a crucial turn, the whole draft can go to shit and ultimately change the course of the plot.

In FALLING TO NORMAL's case, I pulled some subplots out that would have most likely made the draft stronger if they remained, but in the current draft those plots don't work the same way anymore. I'll be spending weeks recrafting these cut scenes and seeing how they can be incorporated in the current draft.

How the heck are you going to do that?
I've used the plot card technique to write down all the major events that happened as I remembered. Then, I reread my entire draft to see what I added or what I forgot. From there, I'll evaluate which of the missing scenes from the plot cards can be canned.

In addition to that, I have a couple of questionnaires received from different seminars I've taken this year to help hone this what-hopes-to-be-final draft into a fantastic piece of fiction.

Do you have any further plans on making this revision complete?
I have to admit, not really. Unless I want to forget everything I've ever written and start from the beginning... But that's crazy talk.

You say crazy talk. Are you insane?
More than likely.

I'll blog more about this over the next few weeks while I churn this out. No more Bejeweled for me. I have things I have to do. (Hear that, Bejeweled? You don't own me.)

Do you have revision tips? Comment below.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Deck the Halls with Brains and Corpses!

Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.

Most people don’t associate zombies with Christmas. The average person probably lumps zombies into the neat little category of all things “Halloween.” And while it is true that zombies get their biggest spotlight during the days of cider and burning leaves, let’s face it-- zombies are awesome. And they deserve to be loved throughout the year! As far as Christian holidays go, it is easy to think zombies go best with Easter and not Christmas. After all, tomorrow is the celebration of birth, not a celebration of the dead rising from the grave. Nevertheless, zombies can find a home with baby Jesus, Santa, and snowmen.

Fresh on my mind is the new book It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like ZOMBIES! (A Book of Zombie Christmas Carols) by Michael P. Spradlin. Yes... it literally is a book full of popular and familiar Christmas carols rewritten to be sung when the zombie apocalypse strikes and most of your friends are sure to become the undead. You want to include them in your festivities as well, right?

Yes, Christmas is on its way-- and all the little boys and ghouls are dreaming of stockings filled with candied eyes and bleeding body parts. You’d better watch out! Santa Claws is coming to town-- and he knows who’s been naughty, who’s been naughtier... and who’ll taste best with a nice glass of Chianti!

Sounds like my kind of holiday book! Some of the soon-to-be-classics include “I Saw Mommy Chewing Santa Claus,” “We Three Spleens,” “Deck the Halls with Parts of Wally,” and “I’m Dreaming of an Undead Christmas.”

Now, you still living humans may be familiar with the “Christmas Song” (sometimes mistakenly called “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire). Here is what happens when it becomes zombified!

Fresh brains roasting on an open fire,
Zombies chewing off your nose--
It all began when they ate the whole choir.
They’re even eating Eskimos.

Everybody knows a leg bone and someone’s toes
Make a Zombie’s season bright.
Tiny tots, with their eyes in a bowl,
Will find it hard to see tonight!

If that didn’t just bring a smile to your face or make you laugh in joyous Christmas spirit... I honestly don’t know what else will!

A lot of my close friends know that I fear snowmen. Some people are afraid of clowns, others dentists... but I am afraid of snowmen. I am constantly trying to educate my family and friends that snowmen are, in fact, evil and that it is only a matter of time that one might try and kill them! A few years ago I even made some “Snowmen Survival Kits” as Christmas gifts, complete with everything needed to fight of evil men of snow. So, imagine my delight when I discovered one of the songs in this book is called “Zombie, the Snowman!” Maybe now someone will believe me when I say they should be wary of these guys...

Zombie the Snowman knew the brains were fresh that day,
So he said, “Please run, because it’s lots more fun when I eat your brain that way."

See? Clearly EVIL.

The book also contains some awesomely gruesome and graphic illustrations for each song; some of them are actually kind of disturbing! I bought my copy at Borders for ten dollars. It’s a pretty thin book, so I thought ten was kind of pricey. But the book was just released last month and it is Christmas. I’m sure if you wait to buy it next week it will be highly discounted! These rewritten songs are pretty clever and may even inspire you to come up with some of your own alternate lyrics. I imagine this book will be an integral part of my future Christmas celebrations!

And as a side note, last week the man who helped teach you that zombies eat BRAINS passed away. Dan O’Bannon, writer and director of Return of the Living, was only 63. As a tribute on my Twitter page, I posted a link to an Onion article from several years ago that featured the “O’Bannon Institute for Postmortem Nutritional Studies.” Feel free to go check it out here.

Zombie Christmas to All! And to All an Undead Night!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Even More Holiday Tack

That's right. For my final post of the day, we're seeing more of my favorite holiday - Tacky Christmas. I can see that you're very excited. That's a good thing because this post contains all things Christmas.

Reindeer





Trees






Santa




All non-Santa photos are my tacky Christmas display. Hubby is playing Santa in the photo from last year's holiday party. I'm a fan of the purple mittens that Santa is sporting.

Tomorrow is Zombie Thursday. I'm hoping that Miranda will make it Christmas themed.

Penelope the Wreath: A Study



See how it's hanging askew? That's not intentional, but the side with the poinsettas is so heavy from wire that the wreath naturally hangs at an angle. I tried tying the ribbon off balance to correct it, but no such luck. It just adds to the tackiness, I tell myself.

Close ups!




See me in that last close up? That's me being artsy.

Holiday Wishes From Beth

My good friend Beth Fisher sent another email over a week ago. Let's see what she has to say about my brianchild this time.

Subject: Happy Holidays
Hello,

We have been moving through the human body systems quickly.  As a result, there have been three quizzes in rapid succession.  The children have been working very hard and are visibly exhausted.  Originally, I had a quiz on the nervous and endocrine systems scheduled for Wednesday, December 16th.  In the spirit of the holidays, I have decided not to quiz on this material.  I have also decided to take the children's highest score from the three human body quizzes and count it twice in their average.  This is my gift to them in recognition of all their hard work.

We will be working on a writing assignment towards the end of the week in the computer lab.  This will serve as a culminating activity for the human body unit.

Happy Holidays!  B. Fisher

Phantasma was upset that there was no quiz on the endocrine system, since that was her favorite one. So for Christmas, she'll get a quiz as a stocking stuffer. She's a very smart child and likes to have her intelligence tested. A lot. We're also giving her a DIY chemistry set and maybe something girlie like a bracelet. She really wants a puppy, but the Stripey and White Ones rule the house and we must not upset them.

Do you want to see Phantasma's endocrine test results or anything else that goes on with my miracle child? Let me know by commenting below or emailing me.

That's My Kind of Tacky

Today's going to be a series of small posts while I complete all my Friday tasks today. There will be a theme for the day and it will continue along the tacky vein.

First up!



Yes, that's a cardboard cut out of Edward Cullen. Yes, it's mine. No, I did not buy it. My friends did as a birthday decoration last year. I won't go onto a soapbox about Edward, Twilight, Stefanie Meyer, or the underlying tones of abuse because it's Christmas after all.

Yes, this is my front porch. I have Edward Cullen overseeing part of the middle school route. Yes, I agree that is creepy.

Even though it's Edward, I call him Cedric. And you have to admit that Cedric looks smashing in his festive elf hat.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The House on Emerson Street






As a child, one of my best friends was Jenny. She lived with her mother and grandmother  a street and a half behind me. (Her back door was on a side street that ran off the street behind mine.) Her house was on the town line, making her neighbors across the street from a different town.

In this town, around the corner from Jenny's house and her across-the-street neighbors, was Emerson Street. Because of one Christmas-loving resident, Emerson Street would glow in the sky like an airfield on the horizon during the holiday season.

Since I was smaller than Phantasma, I would go check out the house every year.And every year, since holiday decorating technology advances, the decorations grow. Now the house, front, and back yards are a mix of old and new.

Also the epitome of tack. But I'd be lying if I said that I didn't love it. There's a hidden beauty in it's tackiness because you know that they put thought to where everything will land from the Santa that protects the driveway to the nativity scene on the front lawn. The house is a piece of holiday art.

When I was out taking these pictures, I was with my dad. He told me a little known fact about the Emerson Street house. The inside is just as crazy as the outside with a Christmas tree in every room of the house (at least that was the case when the homeowner's children were growing up.) The guy that lives here loves Christmas so much that he makes the entire house a shrine to Christmas. I'm not sure if that is overkill or awesome.





There is a rival to the magnificence of Emerson Street, though. About a 30 second drive and around yet another corner, sits Mini Me. This house has been adding to the display for a few years, but it takes commitment to have as many lights as the house on Emerson Street and dare I say - an expendable budget?

So the rival house isn't impressive, especially with the backdrop of Emerson Street still glowing mightily. There's a scattering of big outdoor Christmas lights strung on bushes and a few lawn ornaments scattered on the ground, but everyone needs to start somewhere. They do get an A for effort and the cutest polar bear lawn ornament I've ever seen.







There's only a couple of days left until Christmas. Send me pictures of the displays you've seen.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Tacky Reindeers

In continuation of last week's celebration of holiday tacky, I'd like to examine reindeer decorations. The reindeer has sort of become the new staple of holiday tackiness.

We see it on our cars.




People used to just put a wreath on the grille of their truck, but now we have the reindeer car kit. (If you click the photo, you can go and see that they are sold out for 2009, that's how popular these kits have become.)

We see our pets become them.



Even though, it's usually dogs that get suckered into wearing the holiday outfit, Lucky the Snowcat is the size of a small dog. That justifies him wearing antlers, right?

Of course, there are those light up reindeer lawn ornaments. No photo is required for those because EVERYONE knows about them. They're like a staple of Christmas.

I do have a new tacky reindeer to present. I think it will become the new holiday office chick.



I give you the light fixture reindeer. He fits in any office environment and takes no time to put together. The receptionist and I did this last week and the most complicated part was creating the antlers. (Great job, Julia!) Everything is taped on so there's no damage to the pricey desk lamp.

All that's required for an office reindeer is a pair of googlie eyes, a red pom pom nose, a square of felt, 4 pipe cleaners and tape.

So far everyone that walks past likes office reindeer. They move the lamp around so he can look in different directions and they tap his nose.

More tacky Christmas will come through the week. Stay tuned...



Thursday, December 17, 2009

Zombie Thursday: Zombie Fluxx

Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.

Last week’s blog became a fairly in-depth look at voodoo zombies; I was even accused of being too smart by this blog’s owner! I will admit it got pretty scientific and researchy, which is what I promised you all the week before last.

This week, let’s get back to the lighter side of zombies (and I’m not talking about their ability to love or show mercy)! Every once in awhile I’m going to try and do a ‘review’ or some sort, be it zombie inspired music, zombie movies, or this week-- a zombie game!


On the table this week (or actually, on the living room floor) is a card game called Zombie Fluxx. This version is one of several in the “Fluxx Family.” I first discovered Fluxx in 2005 when I was living and working in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. There was this amazing store called Puzzles, Pranks, and Games which sold, well... puzzles, pranks, and games. I used to go every few weeks and pick up a new puzzle or board game, and I always valued the recommendations of the staff (the owners of the store were also performers in the production I was in). One day I decided to purchase original Fluxx, and I’m certainly glad I did! It is billed as the “Ever Changing Card Game” because there aren’t any set rules or objective to the game... they literally change throughout the game. Sound complicated? It can be!

Players are dealt three cards each. Each player takes turns in order and to begin with there are only two rules-- draw one card, play one card. That’s it! But it builds from there; some of the cards you can play are called “New Rule” cards, which either build on to the existing rules or replace them completely. There are “Keeper” cards which are laid out in front of you and are what help you win by achieving whatever “Goal” card comes into play. The goal of the game usually requires a player to have two Keepers that go together, for example, one goal in Fluxx is to the have a “Bedtime Snack” which means you must have a Milk Keeper and the Cookies Keeper laid on the table to win. The Goal can also change constantly throughout the game, so no objective is set in stone.


Jump now to Zombie Fluxx. The basic principles of Fluxx remain... but throw some undead terror into the mix, and you’ve got yourself a chaotic ever changing, quick thinking Zombie good time! Not only do you have the Keeper Cards (in this edition they are cards like Brains, Chainsaw, Baseball Bat, and Friends), but you also must deal with the (typically) unwanted Creeper Cards, aka the Zombies!! New rules allow you use some Keepers, like the chainsaw, as weapons to kill the zombies that are laid out on your side of the table (when a player draws a Creeper, they must immediately play it, and as in real life, you do not want zombies up in your grill!). The Goal cards in this version are things like “They Fear Fire” where you must have a Can of Gasoline Keeper and the Lumber Keeper to win (very Night of the Living Dead, huh?) and “I Alone Survived” in which the player must have the Car Keeper, no Friend Keepers, no Zombies, and all other players must have at least one Zombie card. Goals such as this one have so many points you must meet that it can be complicated to win.

It is also possible for everyone to lose in this version of Fluxx. There is one card called the Ungoal. It acts like a Goal card, but if the conditions are met, ALL players instantly lose because the Zombies kill you all! Why would you ever play this card? Simple-- some of the New Rules may force you to play cards in your hand, even cards you wouldn’t want to play... including the Ungoal!

My parents just flew home for the holidays, and what a better way of welcoming them home and spending a little quality time together than by killing some zombies? My mom and I sat down for two games of Zombie Fluxx and had a pretty good time playing. One downside to the game is that the rules, or lack of rules, can be a bit confusing or complicated to explain to first time players. It helps in playing the Zombie version if the players are already familiar with original Fluxx. We had played Fluxx a few years ago, but I had to explain the rules to her from scratch, not only Fluxx in general, but all the added rules of the zombie expansion.

The best way to learn this game is to just play it and learn as you go. How all the cards interact with each other begin to make sense as you start laying things out and playing the different Goals, Rules, and Actions. Our first match didn’t get too crazy. I think we stuck to the basic rule of “draw one, play one” for the whole game with few other New Rule cards coming into play. The Goal that lasted throughout our first match was the “I Survived Alone.” I won the first game almost by default. I had the Car Keeper in my hand, but unfortunately had zombies. My mom made a goof and played a card that allowed me to kill one zombie on my next turn. In the game, there are single zombies, pairs of zombies, trio, and quartets of zombies. If you kill a zombie, and you have a “pair of zombies” card, that pair gets “scared” and runs to the player of your choice. My mom set up my win by allowing me to kill my one zombie and have my scared pair run to her leaving me with the car, no zombies, no friends, and she had at least one zombie on her side! Epic Win!


Our second match was a true Zombie Apocalypse panic! We had about five different rule cards in play, and the goals changed at least four or five times. Our number of cards to draw, play, and discard changed frequently. We were allowed to kill zombies with our bare hands during the “Zombie Season” rule card, and realized that, hey, “Zombies Ain’t So Bad” meaning that even if a goal stated that you had to have no zombies to win, they were alright hanging out around you anyway! I exchanged one of my Keepers with my mom and changed the Goal to reflect the Keeper I stole, hoping to obtain the other Keeper I needed on a later turn. However, my mom’s next card allowed her to steal the Keeper back, and since I changed the goal, she then had both cards required to win the “They Fear Fire” objective. For both rounds, game play lasted for roughly 20-30 minutes.

Overall we had a fun time playing. The cards have really great and entertaining artwork on them, full of the traditional green skinned, flesh falling off, bloody zombies! Since the rules are always changing, game play never gets dull or boring, and certainly not predictable. However, there is a lot going on, so close attention must be paid to all the new rules and the goal to not only make sure that you can win, but also that you aren’t playing something to help your opponent win. The game says it is for ages 8 to Adults, but I honestly feel like this would not be the best gift to get a younger child. Original Fluxx might work well with a youngster, but Zombie Fluxx adds on a lot of new conditions and things to remember that I often found myself checking the “How to Play” sheet. Young children may get very confused and frustrated with the game.

Another awesome thing about this game is that it can either work as a stand-alone version, or you can shuffle it in with any other Fluxx deck! Using the 100 cards of Zombie Fluxx along with my deck of original Fluxx is sure to add even more insanity to the mix. Another version I have been dying to try out is Monty Python Fluxx-- can you imagine killing a zombie with the Holy Hand Grenade? Or having a zombified Spanish Inquisition jumping up to scare you? Imagine the possibilities...

I would definitely recommend this game for any lover of cool card games, zombies, or both! It is packaged in a fairly small box, so it would make a great stocking stuff for next week. I bought mine for fifteen dollars, and found it to be reasonably priced. This game is probably not carried at your major corporate toy stores or Walmart, but you are likely to find it at your local gaming store or comic book store. It comes from a company called Looney Labs, and is available for purchase on their site for sixteen dollars (although they encourage you to find a local retailer and support your community).

Have fun! And let me know what you think if you try this game out for yourself.

Hubby and I have been owners of the original Fluxx for years and just purchased both Zombie and Monty Python Fluxx this summer. All three are great games and it's nice to have the variation of the Zombie and the Monty Python after years of the original.

If you've played any of these, please let Miranda and I know your impressions below.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Baby It's Cold Outside!

Today's post was going to be about my office reindeer, but sadly there is no time. However, it's truly winter here in Boston with very cold temperatures from the Canadas on the way. What's the best way to warm up?

Tea?
Hot Chocolate?
Sweaters?

True, those all help in the warming department, but the most important thing is to wear proper outwear. I'll have Lucky the Cat illustrate.



Tomorrow is Zombie Thursday. I'm hoping that Miranda will be showcasing some zombie decorations in the spirit of Christmas.

Stay warm!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Bold, The Tacky, The... Watermelon Wreath?

My request from yesterday has been answered.

Riz has sent me pictures from her tacky Christmas display. Riz has her display in her office cubicle and has told me that her entire office is embracing tacky this year. This is a mega win.

Riz loves the colors pink and green and loves them more if they're combined. I can't help but think of Friendly's and their Watermelon Roll every single time I see them together, but that might mean I can't get ice cream off my mind. (Given the way the pants are fitting lately, that is definitely the case.)


Despite my new math skills, Riz has made pink and green her signature colors and it's evident in her display. You can see hints of it here with her Christmas tree and flashy reindeer with removable feather ruff.

I love how Elvis is serenading the Santa from Futurama and the reindeer. The emo tree isn't digging the live Elvis Christmas special, which is totally okay because I don't think if you're truly emo you would appreciate The King anyway. (Note: if the tree was enjoying it, it's lights would be on.)



I have to admit that I did get the idea of using a tinsel wreath from Riz. She was the first to purchase one from Target and she did get Blackadder (the peacock) first as well. But I was the first of us to get the tinsel trees.

She makes the watermelon color scheme work. It's Summer. It's Christmas. It's tacky AND flashy. (With a slight disco flair because of the central ornament.) I love the lime green glitterized holly leaves the best in this arrangement; it really captures the spirit of Tacky Christmas more than the wreath.

Every time I think two colors can't be more wrong together, she proves me wrong by assembling something like this wreath. The only way it could have been even more awesome was if the wreath lit up like the tree. Don't worry Riz, there is always next year.


Riz also sent me a bonus photo and even though it was more of a "see my cat's new friend" than "put her on your blog," I'm going to do just that. I'm also declaring Piddy the Cat Purveyor of Tacky Christmas. The devil monkey ornament in front of her justifies this decision entirely. (Just don't tell the White One or the Stripey One that I said this, otherwise upheaval will ensue.)

Do you have a tacky Christmas display? Is there one in your neighborhood? LET ME KNOW!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Forget the Tacky, Bring on the Flashy

I've previously hinted at my love of Christmas displays. There's something entirely awesome at the bling quality of Christmas lights.

Truth, there's something entirely awesome about the tackiness of Christmas lights.Where else are you going to find penguins holding the letters J, O, and Y in places that aren't their natural habitat? There is no other time of year where it is completely expected to kill your electric bill and put blow up creatures on your front lawn. I don't have much of a lawn otherwise I might be tempted to take out the wise men I found in a basement excursion. Of course, the landlord might not like that.

Because of the lack of lawn, and the insanity of the cats, I don't have much space for Christmas spirit. Fortunately, I have a front door. And an enclosed front porch. I'm using both to my advantage and have set up a winter wonderland on my porch.

Today, I bring you phase one - THE WREATH.



Not the best picture, but there wasn't much I could do with what I had in the greyness of yesterday and my childhood bedroom.

This is a custom made wreath that I did with an assist from my mom who, despite the arthritis, loves all things crafty. She also got the bonus of spending over two hours with me. (She thought that was the best thing ever. Clearly she doesn't love blue tinsel the way I do.)

The best thing about this wreath is how cheap it was. Everything was on discount so what should have cost me about $40 at least cost me $15.

What I love about this wreath is Penelope. She's the purple partridge on the right. She has a purple glittered head and gorgeous feathers for the rest of her. And she looks fantastic against the blue backdrop. She was also the easiest part of the whole process. A clip and she was done.

I will be sharing more of my Christmas display this week once I find the charger for my camera. In the meantime, do you have kick ass holiday decorations? I want to know. (I'll also be showcasing some others up through Christmas, or that's my goal at least.)

Comment away!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hijacking Other Entries

I truly meant to do a real blog entry today, but life got in the way. So instead, I'm going to share with you what Laura posted at Combreviations.



This has got to be the best waffle/zombie crossover picture ever.

Like it? I do too. Laura found it on The Pancake Project. You can go read more entries over there.

My 2 seconds over there was a little bit of awesome in an otherwise crap day. Just looking at this picture now is making me smile. That I'm smiling at a bloody hand waffle might be disturbing to some, but hey I grew up playing in a playground that used to test nuclear devices back in the day.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Zombie Thursday: The Power Of Voodoo

Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.

It has been three weeks now, and hopefully it comes as no shock or surprise that I love zombies. I literally think and talk about zombies everyday. I always have some sort of zombie reference to make, a zombie joke, and I even wear zombie clothing. A lot of people don’t understand my fascination. I’m not even sure I understand my fascination. But one thing that always seems to either intrigue or bother people who know me is... do I really think zombies are real?

I act as if they are. I talk about them as if they are real. I have escape and battle plans should a zombie outbreak occur. I even had a coworker tell me recently that I was far too intelligent to believe in the existence of zombies. How can one be too smart to believe in something? That’s like saying, “you are too smart to believe in God,” or “you’re too smart to believe in gremlins” (both of which I do). I’m not sure if intelligence has anything to do with beliefs. Logic, maybe. Reasoning, possibly. But intelligence? Nah! After all, a very smart person might believe in the Tooth Fairy, but we’ve all been woken up by our parents’ arms snaking underneath our pillows to deposit a hard earned dollar bill in exchange for our completely useless teeth. So, an intelligent person may continue to believe in this odd fairy’s existence until they are jostled awake by their parents one night and the belief is shattered. Does it make them any less intelligent? Nope!

So do I really, truly believe in zombies? Well, I will leave you dear readers to keep guessing. In the meantime, let’s discuss a more scientific existence of zombies, mainly the voodoo zombie.

Prior to 1968’s Night of the Living Dead, films that contained zombies did not have the flesh eating, reanimated corpses we know and love. They were of a different variety, namely dead people who had been brought to life as slaves for a voodoo sorcerer. Probably the most famous of these films, often considered the first full length zombie film, is 1932’s White Zombie starring Bela Lugosi of Dracula fame. The film’s plot, set in Haiti where voodoo is practiced heavily, revolves around a newlywed couple, a jealous admirer, and a voodoo sorcerer. Just as she is wed, poor Madeleine starts to transform into a zombie after she is given a potion made by Lugosi’s voodoo sorcerer character. She dies and is resurrected as his zombie slave along with all the other mindless zombies who run Lugosi’s sugar mill.


The film did not receive positive reviews when it was first released. A major criticism was the poor acting and the over the top story line. Zombies... over the top?!? Even though most critics in America were not all that accepting of the film, one overseas group was... the National Socialist Party! Yes, White Zombie was one of the only American horror films to get the Nazi seal of approval.

Personally, I find (and so do the Nazis) the idea of a voodoo zombie slave intriguing! If there are going to be hordes of zombies, I would love to be the one in charge and pulling the strings. So where do these zombies come from? Is there any truth or historical evidence to zombie slave claims? Surprisingly, yes!

Voodoo is a religion originating in Haiti that combines the beliefs of West Africans and Roman Catholicism (yep! Christianity plays a role in voodoo). It is based upon the belief in one supreme god, Bondye, and lesser deities, Loa (or Lwa). Practitioners of voodoo believe that Bondye is not at all different from Abraham’s God, but that he is unreachable by humans. Therefore, their energies are focused on praying to the Loa, which are often compared the the various saints in Christianity.

The area of voodoo where zombies come from is not very widely practiced. A lot of myth and superstition surrounds this area of ‘black magic’ voodoo and has been sensationalized by film and television. Typically a sorcerer known as a Bokor is responsible for creating a zombie through the use of several potions and toxins.

The main toxin that has been attributed to zombification is tetrodotoxin. It is true that tetrodotoxin (also called TTX) is the poison found in pufferfish. However, this is not its only source. TTX is also found in certain newts, toads, angelfish, and other sea creatures. Doses of TTX will cause the body’s nervous system, organs, and muscle function to slow down to such a state that it appears as if a person is dead. The wrong amount of TTX will truly kill a person (to put it in perspective, tetrodotoxin is one hundred times more poisonous than cyanide). A bokor will poison someone with TTX to the point that they appear dead to doctors and loved ones. Later, the zombie victim will be given a second poison coming from a Datura plant.

The genus Datura belongs to the same family of plants that contain other “witches’ weeds” that you are probably familiar with, such as deadly night shade or mandrake. Common names for Datura plants are Devil’s Weed, Hell’s Bells, and Thorn Apple. These plants also contain toxins that act as hallucinogens. Side effects can make a person unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality, can cause severe violent behavior, and causes amnesia, all of which give a person zombie-like qualities. Reports from zombies who have broken free from their bokors have admitted to memory loss; during their enslavement, they were unable to remember who they were and could not even recognize loved ones. They had no will of their own and could only do what was told to them. People who have reported seeing voodoo zombies claim that their eyes were blank and unfocused, and their faces were devoid of any expression.

With a combination of these two poisons, it is plausible to see how a zombie could be created in the voodoo practice.

Another interesting side note to this “zombie drug” is the Family to which it belongs. If you are a fan of Max Brooks’ The Zombie Survival Guide (and really, who isn’t?), then you may remember that Mr. Brooks claims real zombies are victims of the Solanum Virus. It seems as if Mr. Brooks has done his homework as well. Although in the Survival Guide he claims the origins of the Solanum Virus have never been found or detected anywhere in nature, it is almost certain he came up with this virus based on the voodoo zombie drug. The family of plants used for this toxin is from the Solanaceae family. And the term Solanaceae comes from the Latin word (you guessed it) Solanum meaning “the nightshade plant.”

Could there be truth to voodoo zombies? Many historical accounts exist of those claiming they were under a bokor’s spell and family members insist that those they buried as dead have returned to them years later with no memory of what happened to them. Many scientists dismiss these claims, yet they are still there. Could the Solanum Virus be real, the result of a mutated plant infecting a human?

Zombies may be closer than you think.... I’ll let you be the judge.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Little Bit of Awesome

Hubby insisted that I watch this video last night. After two viewings, I knew you all had to see it too.



This clip just pours on the awesome from the line about saying yes to extra mayonnaise to partying with 2 R's. I love how Jared Allen has totally embraced his mulletdom to the point of wearing a shirt that says "MULLET."

Quick Mullet Education
Everyone thinks that the mullet just happened in the 80s, but that's only when it became a fashion statement. It was around before that. Way before. Like, Ancient Greek before.

And the mullet isn't only the hairstyle choice of rednecks. It's been loved by celebrities over the years:
  • MacGyver
  • Hulk Hogan
  • Mrs. Brady
  • Bill Ray Cyrus
  • David Bowie
  • Louis XIV, King of France
The mullet is making a comeback, the video at top confirms it. Being a survivor of the Mrs. Brady Mullet, I don't know how I feel about the revival no matter how awesome Jared Allen paints the mullet lifestyle.

Do you have any thoughts on this? I'm dying to know.

    Monday, December 7, 2009

    Phantasma's Own Nemesis

    This is for all of you who said I should email the teacher and get more out of this...

    A parent replied all on Beth's last email. She renamed it to "graded quiz and upcoming quiz." Read below...

    Dear Mrs Fisher,

    Hope you had a great weekend!
    Tessa and I went over her quiz over the weekend.  She and I were disappointed to see that she got a 74 %.  When we went over the info she said that she did not have some of the info as that info was given while we were in Florida over Thanksgiving week.  I just wanted to communicate with you on it to make sure that was the case and see, if possible, anything can be done. Was there any supplemental info on this quiz on the eBoard that we did not know about?

    Thanks for the info on the respiratory and the excretory systems. 

    I will send Tessa in with the Permission slip tomorrow.

    I would love to donate on the 16th, but I just did at the elementary school in November. Hopefully there will be another opportunity in the Spring at the middle school.

    Thanks so much for your help and support.

    Warm Regards,
    Tara Woltstein

    Those Woltsteins. *raises fist angrily* They are nothing but a family of kiss asses, with Tara Wolstein being the worst with her thank yous and over eager blood donations. I have my eye on you Tara Wolstein and your little perfect daughter.

    I'm loving that Phantasma has outscored Tessa by such a high margin. I too got to review a quiz the other night, but like mother, like daughter. Phantasma scored a 98.

    Tessa Wolstein and Phantasma don't get along and haven't since kindergarten. Tessa would flounce around in her perfect little clothes and would always make fun of Phantasma and her "unusual" garb. (The word unusual was said by Tara Wolstein, evil ice queen that she is. I think there is nothing wrong with wearing fairie costumes in December.)

    Friday, December 4, 2009

    Like Contests?

    So do I, and I've entered one with this entry as proof.

    Go over to YA Highway and enter if you like the following words:
    Free
    YA
    Books
    Bookcases

    All you need to do is click on this link and follow the instructions.

    YA Highway is a very cool blog. As an aspiring YA author, I like them. You should too.

    Little Phantasma Update

    Just when the work day was reaching the pinnacle of slowness, my friend Beth Fisher emailed me with an update on Little Phantasma.

    Subject: upcoming quiz
    Hello parents,

    We are currently moving through the human body systems.  Our next quiz will be on Wednesday, December 9th.  It will cover both the respiratory and excretory systems.  Supplemental review materials have been posted on the eBoard.

    Permission slips have been coming in for the S B Nature Center in school field trip.  If your child has not yet returned theirs, please make sure that payment in the amount of $5.50 is included and is in the form of a check made out to Main Middle School.  The presentation will be during science class on January 11th.  This will mark the beginning of our study of the animal kingdom.  The permission slip has been posted on the eBoard in the event your child has misplaced theirs.

    Thank you for your support of our blood drive.  If you would like to come in as a walk in on December 16th, they will do their best to accommodate you.

    Warm regards, B. Fisher
    Phantasma just had her quiz on the digestive system on Tuesday and had spent the Thanksgiving break writing out her index card in that super-tiny print that only non-existent children can do. Since she's my daughter (and a creation of my imagination) I know that she aced that quiz. That being said, she shouldn't have any problem with this upcoming quiz, even if there is no index card support.


    I'm going to have to look into this permission slip thing though. I don't remember seeing one which can only mean that she's forging my signature. Again.

    Damn kids.

    Thursday, December 3, 2009

    Zombie Thursday: I know your type-- tall, dark, and dead!

    Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.


    Hey, fellow zombie fans! I hope everyone had a great time eating some brains and turkeys last week. This week’s blog may seem like kind of a cop out, but I have to admit I have been entertaining some guests, family, friends, and starting to gear up for Christmas.  So, next week the blog will be very well researched and lengthy. But until then I will leave you with a zombie song that has been stuck in my head and has been driving me crazy! It comes from a game called ‘Plants vs. Zombies’ (see www.plantsvszombies.com to play). In the game, the zombies are trying to attack a nice suburban home... but the household plants and shrubs have other plans! Players build an army of plants to attack the zombies and thus save the day! After beating the game, you get to see this video.  However, the creators just put it up on YouTube anyway to draw attention to the game.


    So, enjoy!



    If Your Life is Twilight, It's Time to Get a New Life

    It's not, actually. But Laura over at Combreviations posted this yesterday and I have been reading it in horror since.

    My Life is Twilight is a fan generated site about, you guessed it - TWILIGHT and all things that fall under it's helm. Resplendent with typos, it's pretty easy to share with the world how your life doesn't exist without this world.

    Before you get all pissy at my hating on this site, I'd like to point out that I have no problem with fandom. Fandom is a right of passage as a teen and most of us carry it well into adulthood. I'm a fangirl of all things Dark Tower, for example. I was also a card carrying Aerosmith die hard until I tore up my contract.

    I know how it is to argue over the finer points of a good book and which character is the best. My friend Danielle and I have spent more than one all nighter arguing over The Vampire Chronicles. We've debated over whether or not Stephen King really needed to add that last bit in Dark Tower 7. A whole group of us have discussed who will win in a fight: Lestat, Edward, or Jean-Claude. (The final determination in that was Jean-Claude.)

    So I understand your fandom. I encourage you to carry that flag and wave it around proud.

    But. (There always is one, isn't there?)

    But you have gone too far in your fandom when you post the following things:
    I'm so Robessed that I made my bf cut his hair like Edward and stay out of the sun for like a month....he called me crazy but he did cut his hair because i threatened to break up with him after being together for 6 years and yes, he even did write me a song-MLIT. (Limbu_chic)

    My teacher gave me an assignment to describe tort reform, and I wrote my paper about how Edward was TORTally hot! She gave me a D, though, I guess she's team Jacob, lololol. (TeamDracula)

    i'm probably failing at least 3 classes because i cant put the damn twilight books down...i've pretty much memorized them...i bought the journals to write down my fav quotes while i reread the series...again... i havent even seen my book bag for the past 3 weeks :) ..screw college MLIT!! (myhajocy)

    So this week is finals week and what do i do instead of studying?? I youtube every video that involves rob pattinson and fail my exams! Oh well It was worth it :) MLIT (edwardswifeyy)

    People.

    Come back to reality. I know it's hard and crappy and you have bills or that final exam or your significant other is being a dick, but you're needed here.

    Fandom is supposed to be fun, like a hobby. It shouldn't be a way of life. If you can't function on a level outside of your given fandom sphere, you have a problem. Even in my most fanatic days of Aerodom - where the hardest of my obsessions were - I was still actutely aware of life going on around me. I was able to still focus. You should too.

    Now, it could be that all these MLIT people are submitting these stories in a tongue-in-cheek way. If that's true, then it's truly awesome. And I invite you over to help decorate my Edward cut out for Christmas. He's on my front porch waiting for glitter, lights, and a pink Santa hat.

    Wednesday, December 2, 2009

    Sick? Then Don't...

    The last week has been filled with little sick bugs. Hubby was sick and once he came home from his business trip, I got it exactly three days later. And on Hubby's birthday no less.

    I'm on the mend, but it's slow.

    I'm an impatient sick person. Unless I'm on death's door, I bitch and complain and will announce repeatedly that I don't feel well. While sick I've learned that there are some things that I just shouldn't do.

    Socialize. This should be the topmost thing not to do for anyone who is sick. Not only can you spread your germs to everyone else, but in my case, you end up talking nonsense. I'd cite an example, but I was so out of it at dinner on Sunday, I don't even remember what I said. To anyone.

    Laundry. Since I was home sick on Monday, Hubby asked me to do some laundry for his business trip. Normally I sort. And check pockets. And all sorts of laundry-ish things. Not Monday. I threw it all in one load and when I noticed that the load was a little light, I just went and pulled random shirts from our hamper and washed those too.

    Dye My Hair. Since I didn't have the attention span for laundry, covering up my roots should have been put aside. Again. But it's that again that gets to me. (I had put off dying my hair by two weeks because of NaNoWriMo.) So the gray was bothering me and I decided to cover it up. But I didn't have the attention span to truly get all the roots, or saturate the rest of my hair. Or to fully rinse it seemed.

    This morning when I finally looked in the mirror I was happy to discover that the gray is missing, but I know it will have to be touched up again in two weeks.

    Wrestle the Cat. Hubby left yesterday and we have hit Stage 4 with Lucky. I'm wrapped in a blanket and he's trying to fit into the overfull kitchen cupboard. (Also known as Narnia.) After a few weak-ass attempts of wrangling him, I finally won and then dumped him in the carrier so I could sleep.

    Writing. Tried to use my extra "at home" time to complete my first draft of my urban fantasy, but I kept getting distracted by shiny online things like, Bejeweled. OCD kicks in overtime while I'm sick.

    Are there things you know you shouldn't do when sick? What are they?
    Related Posts with Thumbnails