Amazon bought Goodreads. It was big news. Goodreads is a popular social network where readers connect with each other, connect with authors, and review and recommend books. It’s a very active community. Amazon wants to incorporate the site into their Kindle tablets, and the easiest way to do that was to buy the site.
Amazon’s purchase of Goodreads created some hysteria. What would happen to the site? Would it essentially become another arm of Amazon? Would Amazon basically be spying on people to learn what they like to read? Eh, I don’t know. I think we are all plenty spied on by merchants, especially online. I don’t expect to keep my preferences private when I’m wandering all through cyberspace.
Amazon has already changed the world of books. Basically, Amazon has made traditional publishing companies poop themselves. No longer do new writers have to bang their heads on the doors of those hallowed halls. They can publish their own books, and sell them. Established writers are wandering off the farm, too. They are self publishing both their old and their new material. In addition to books, Amazon sells virtually everything you could ever hope to buy, and they are even stepping on eBay’s toes by letting at-home vendors sell.
So, Jaye Manus and I were discussing this and, frankly, laughing about it, when we started saying, “What if Amazon REALLY took over?” Thus was born JUNK MAIL, my vision of Amazon making the zombie apocalypse a little more survivable. It’s a twenty-something page short story, and it’s available as an ebook through, of course, Amazon.com
Special shout out to Jaye. She’s writer, she’s an ebook genius, and she’s a fun, fun girl. Together, we plot our own version of world domination, and it’s a blast.
After a Season 1 marathon last weekend and a replay of Seasons 2 and 3 this weekend, The Walking Dead will return to AMC with a new episode on Sunday, February 10th. It’ll be a great relief for fans. The hardships of winter and the disappointments of the holiday season double suck when you can’t even get your zombie fix.
The Season 1 marathon on Super Bowl Sunday featured a lengthy teaser from the upcoming Governor-ordered fight to the death between brothers Merle and Daryl Dixon. Not since the Civil War have Americans been so interested in brother-against-brother conflict. The outcome of the fight is sure to be one of the highlights of the mid-season premiere. The producers of The Walking Dead have promised us repeatedly that no character is safe, so there is fan anxiety attached to the fight. We stand to lose yet another main character. If Merle dies, nobody will care. If Daryl dies, there is a Facebook group that proposes we riot.
The death of T-Dog bothered fans of The Walking Dead, but the mourning was brief. Folk hero T-Dog was damned near scenery, truth be told. He had five minutes of lines in Season 2, even less in Season 1. Daryl’s death would impact the show in a much bigger way. Fans don’t like Daryl just because they like him. Daryl has become the heart and soul of The Walking Dead.
I didn’t really understand how it was that Daryl had wormed his crossbow-wielding, white-trash, man-of-few-words way into our hearts until I watched the Season 1 marathon this past Sunday. In the early days of the show, Rick took pleasure in his family. Glenn seemed to enjoy his transformation from pizza delivery guy to zombie slayer. Everybody hopped on the chance to get drunk. The group had reasons to survive.
By Season 3, not so much. Rick could barely look at Lori before her death. He has glanced at his new baby maybe twice, and he gives his son, Carl, orders and not much else. Carl struggles to take on adult responsibilities because there isn’t anything else for him to do. Glenn has acquired the ultimate hot farmer’s daughter love interest in Maggie, but their love is earnest and dutiful and doesn’t look like it’s any fun at all. Carol, eh, she’s still cleaning up the other character’s messes. With the joy gone from life, people have started doing everything they do on the show because they have no other choice. It’s backwards evolution. The original characters from Season 1 who’ve made it to the prison aren’t getting more complex. They are turning into mice.
In the middle of these miserable, desperate people, we have Daryl Dixon. Before the walker virus, the best Daryl could hope for in life was a trailer home and a live-in girlfriend to knock up. The zombie apocalypse has given Daryl a place of trust in a group that wouldn’t have admitted him in the pre-walker world. His nothin’-to-lose bravery and his got-nothin’-better-to-do tenacity allow the character to take on lost causes (the search for Sophia) and to spend time worrying about what really matters. Daryl is often the only character to acknowledge the other survivors’ grief, and his “Little Ass Kicker” greeting of dead Lori’s baby allowed the other characters to feel something better than despair over her arrival.
Daryl Dixon is the anti-mouse of The Walking Dead. With the other characters running around on a wheel, doing things because they have to, Daryl does things because he wants to. He has grown, not dimished.
The character of Rick Grimes gets the most camera time on the show, but, make no mistake about it, Daryl Dixon is the hero of The Walking Dead. I really hope that the producers won’t kill him off just to prove that they can.
It’s nearly 2013. Fuck you, Mayans, we made it. In honor of the special occasion of us all being alive and not cosmic cinders, the Zombie Report would like to present…
The Five Greatest Zombie Moments of 2012
5. The Discovery Channel finally gave the zombie apocalypse the respect it deserves and showed us scientists on the same show with people who hoard weapons and passionately debate whether or not they can bear to shoot their families when they get bit.
4. Filmmaker Joss Whedon endorsed Mitt Romney for President because he’d be the candidate most likely to bring about the zombie apocalypse. Romney lost, in spite of Whedon’s help.
3. Marina Bridges and J. W. Manus published the ebook, ZOMBIES TAKE MANHATTAN! (you seriously didn’t think I’d leave myself out.)
2. Most of Ronald Poppo’s face was chewed off by Rudy Eugene in a bizarre Miami, Florida zombie attack. Police had to shoot Eugene multiple times before he ceased and desisted and died. There were cries that the zombie apocalypse was upon us, but Eugene took the reason behind his actions to his grave without infecting any of the rest of us.
1. AMC’s The Walking Dead killed off the character that hero Rick and the entire country loved most…T-Dog. In spite of hardly ever having lines or anything to do, T-Dog won the hearts of the country by being a black guy in a zombie entertainment who didn’t die immediately. Rick’s wife, Lori, also died, but eh, nobody much cared. Here are all of T-Dog’s lines from Season Two of the top series. All five minutes of them.
Welcome to 2013, you survivors. Be sure to stay with a buddy and aim for the head.
I asked Marina if she had a new zombie report for her readers. She threw a shoe at my head and made a growling noise that made the hair lift on the back of my neck.
You see, she’s writing a new zombie story. We’re really hoping to have it finished before Christmas (she writes, I edit and produce). Apparently, my asking if she’s done yet (or asking her to write more posts for this blog) has the same effect as my kids screaming from the backseat of the car: “Are we there yet?!?” (It’s her own fault. I love Zombies Take Manhattan and I’m a greedy reader and, much like zombies, some is never enough.)
She did say if I was really, really good and quit bugging the snot out of her, she’ll let me read her work in progress on Monday. Well, shoot. That means I have to be good all weekend. That’s iffy.
It also means I can’t talk about the new story. I can say it has zombies in it. And, best of all, it features one of my favorite characters. Anything else, my lips are zipped.
That’s not much of a zombie report.
Zombie news, zombie news… I’ve already beaten my disappointment in The Walking Dead to death (I suggested to Marina that she include a scene where Rick and Carl show up in NYC and get eaten–oddly enough she didn’t think that was a grand idea…writers, hmmph). I did find a Jeff McComsey GUTTERS comic strip called “8 Easy Steps To Create a Walking Dead Storyline” that was pretty good. I read Jonathan Maberry’s Dead of Night, which was horrendously creepy and disturbing and gave me nightmares–meaning I loved it. I also watched (again) one of my favorite zombie movies
DANCE OF THE DEAD!
Maybe not the classic that Night of the Living Dead is, but it cracks me up every single time.
So zombie report fans, you have my sympathy. You, like me, will have to wait until Marina comes up for air. It’ll be worth the wait.
Whistling, twiddling my thumbs, being good…
I got into an argument with my cable service provider and ended up cancelling TV before the new season of The Walking Dead began. This bummed me out until I discovered I could buy episodes from Amazon and watch them on my Kindle Fire. Well… Well. After how disappointed I was in the last season, I was hesitant about watching this season. Marina kept talking about it and I am forever the optimist, so I’ve been keeping up.
And not digging it. Not at all.
Rule Number One (and the only rule that counts): Don’t be a bore.
Sorry, TWD, but this season is a wretched bore.
You writers have made an elementary mistake. You’ve mistaken situation for plot. I don’t care how interesting any particular situation might be, it can only hold a reader’s or viewer’s interest for so long. The zombies are a situation. Once you’ve killed a few thousand and had them kill a few dozen characters, nobody cares. They just aren’t that interesting.
What makes any story interesting is the drama. Drama comes from the characters. Boy, have you guys dropped the ball regarding TWD characters. Your second elementary mistakes lies in narrowing the individual stories to the situation. The characters are flat because the only thing they do is react to the zombies. Fine, we get it. Zombies bad. Kill or be killed. You’ve reduced the characters to survival mode, but survive for what? I wouldn’t want any of those sad sacks to attend my Christmas party. Last season you had some interesting conflicts playing out. Glenn and Maggie’s romance. Shane’s struggle with madness. Herschel’s hope for a cure. This season? Stick them in a prison. Big whoop. I had hopes for Andrea and Michon. But all Andrea is doing is playing mouthpiece and Michon just wanders around looking sullen. And the governor? Come on! Haven’t we seen this villain in just about every bad movie ever produced? The guy’s picture should be in the dictionary next to “Stereotype.”
I have a suggestion for you (that is, if you’re hoping for another season–if your real goal is to kill everybody off and the season finale will be a gray screen with THE END IS OVER, then ignore this post). If you want to salvage TWD, watch Faith.
Faith is a Korean fantasy-historical series. It has time travel and a mystic warrior and a king and queen and sword fights and martial arts and an annoying twit of a heroine and absurd sub-titles and gorgeous production values and wonderful costumes. Mostly what it has are incredible characters.
Every night for the past week I’ve been watching Faith on hulu.com. It’s riveting. I am caught up in the story. I am invested. Why? The characters.
As I said, the heroine is an annoying twit. She screams and whines and overacts and screws up and accidentally stabs people. She shouldn’t be likeable. Except… she wants to go home. She was kidnapped from the future and she doesn’t belong in ancient Korea. It frightens her. She doesn’t understand the culture. That’s kind of her strength, too. The other characters don’t understand her either and they either over- or under-estimate her. Annoying or not, she’s never boring.
And the hero? This is a guy with a story. What he wants is to honorably fulfill his obligations so he can retire peacefully. He’s suicidal, too, and you’d think that would make him a downer, but it’s a cultural thing and it doesn’t mean he’s depressed. It means that’s a reasonable option for him, which actually heightens suspense and causes genuine conflict between him and the heroine. Plus, he keeps making promises he is honor-bound to keep, so he’s in conflict with himself, too.
You want a villain? Watch a few episodes and meet Excellency Gi Cheo. That guy is evil. He’s also charming and sly and funny, and he tries to hide a huge weakness. He doesn’t just want power. He wants everything! If he can’t get it through the people, he’ll kill them all and get new people. If he can’t it through the king, then he’ll get a new king. And if heaven tells him no? Well, he’ll figure out a way to remake god. He’s fascinating to watch.
Faith knows how to use female characters. Strong, active female characters with their own stories, desires, goals and conflicts. A queen and a court lady and female warriors and an assassin and a drug dealer. The writers on this show aren’t afraid to give the females stories and big dreams and interesting things to do.
Know why viewers hated Lori? Because you bounced her around like an irritating puppet. What did she want? What was in her heart? Every time you worked up an interesting conflict for her, you solved it with a zombie attack.
So do yourselves and the fans of TWD a favor and watch Faith. pay attention to the characters. You’ll learn something.
I’m hoping people have noticed that my Zombie Reports have been a lot about The Walking Dead, lately. If you have noticed and you are annoyed, give me a break. Season 3 of The Walking Dead is the biggest zombie news since Florida immersed itself in zombie-making bath salts. So, here’s my Official Unofficial Recap of Episode 2, Season 3 of The Walking Dead!
(Those of you who both have DISH TV and don’t understand the word “recap,” you’ve been warned.)
The show picked up right where Episode 1 ended. Rick and his people are trying to save the life of One-Legged Hershel, formerly known as Two-Legged Hersel before Rick cut off his zombie spit infected leg with an ax.
The surviving prisoners we met at the tail end of Episode 1 are duly impressed by Rick’s act of savage ax necessity for all of three seconds. These prisoners are under the impression that they are Bad Asses, in spite of the fact that they’ve waited ten months for the guard who locked them into the cafeteria at the beginning of the walker apocalypse to return for them, something that even a lone, terrified four year old wouldn’t wait for after about a day. The prisoners continue to show us their stupids by ignoring zombie killing instructions, which results in a comically gory scene where they shank zombies in the guts instead of bashing in their skulls. I will not be surprised if prisoners in prisons all over the country start boycotting the show, since The Walking Dead has even less use for prisoner characters than it has for black characters. Although two new black prisoner characters ARE dead before we reach the thirty minute mark.
More about Hershel’s bloody stump. Blah blah, they don’t want him to die because they’ll miss him and because they’ll have to kill him when he rises from the dead and falls over because he only has one leg. Then Carl does something MIND BOGGLING. HE WANDERS OFF ON HIS OWN ADVENTURE. First he wouldn’t stay in the house, now he won’t stay in the cell. These people need to cut off one of Carl’s legs.
Carol suddenly has an emergency, and it’s a great time to have it, right in the middle of a real emergency (man with cut off leg maybe dying and becoming a zombie). Carol’s emergency is Lori is pregnant. Well, yes, yes she is. She has been for a while. We are worried about this right now because apparently Lori is overdue to have her Nerf Ball-sized baby, and Carol wants to practice cutting women open in case Hershel isn’t there to do it. Carol enlists Glenn to help her obtain a corpse to practice on. I’m surprised they even bothered killing their medical school specimen, frankly. If it’s practice Carol wants, what better practice could there be than performing the operation on a writhing, clawing, moaning female body? Lori isn’t likely to stay corpse-like still for a C-Section without anesthesia. While Carol practices, someone or someTHING watches her from the woods outside of the fence. I hope it’s a malpractice lawyer.
Back in the prison, Hershel stops breathing. This means he’s dead and this means he’s going to turn into a zombie. Lori performs CPR on him anyway. We are treated to a moment where we don’t know if zombie Hershel is ripping out Lori’s tongue or if confused, no-blood Hershel thinks Lori is his deceased wife. Turns out he was confused, and it’s a little anticlimactic. Lori is fine, nobody ripped out her tongue and nobody rips her a new one for endangering herself, her baby, and everybody else.
The last scene of the episode is Lori trying to get back with Rick because there are no lawyers left (except maybe the malpractice lawyer watching Carol from the woods). Rick’s zombie-like response leaves us to wonder if he has held onto his life but lost his soul. Because, my God, who WOULDN’T jump all over, “Let’s be a couple, again. What the heck, it’s not like we can’t get DIVORCED.”
If you watched The Talking Dead after the show, you saw the BIGGEST spoiler that has been ever been spoiled by a show connected with a show where people don’t want spoilers EVER. I’m not going to blow it here, because it was almost as big as showing us Sophia coming out of the barn the week before Sophia came out of the barn. Umm..AMC? Don’t spoil your popular show by trying to boost the ratings of your silly show. It’s about like leaving Hershel to die because you need to learn to cut people open in case Hershel dies.
The Walking Dead returns tonight with a shiny new episode. Many fans can’t wait, so I’m going to satisfy their curiosity with my Official The Walking Dead Predictions, which are based on nothing official other than I officially want to make them.
Prediction #1- Rick is highly displeased to discover that there is virtually no food in the prison. The surviving prisoners raided the grain stores early in the Walker Apocalypse and cooked it all up in their homemade still. Having a lot of product and very few customers, they are delighted to meet Hershel, who immediately trades them Maggie in exchange for a mason jar full of hootch. Maggie, tired of Glenn telling her that he’s inspecting her for scratches when she thinks he wants to get jiggy, does not object.
Prediction #2- Daryl returns to his convict roots and hooks up with an inmate named “Big Arrow.” Carol, realizing finally that her relationship with a gay man was her way of repressing her own sexuality, disappears while looking for the women’s wing. Her friends, fed up with searching for members of the Peletier family, do not go looking for her.
Prediction #3- T-Dog will say very little, if anything. He IS the black guy and is lucky to still be on the show at all.
Prediction #4- Rick will spend the episode gnawing on Hershel’s amputated leg and screaming, “Fuck off! I’m tired of taking care of you!” at everyone.
Prediction #5- Andrea and Michonne will have three minutes of airtime this week rather than two.
Prediction #6- Lori Grimes, terrified that the new life in her womb is actually new death in her womb, takes a renewed interest in her son, Carl. Carl is mortified by being forced to wear diapers in front of his love interest, Beth Greene. In attempt to look more mature, Carl paints a mustache on his upper lip and insists that everyone refer to him as “Dirty Sanchez.”
The season opener left us with one of the most memorable lines in television history…”Holy Shit.” Hopefully my predictions will prove to be true and this episode will be equally memorable.
Anybody else got any predictions?
If you have DISH TV, you were screwed. The third season of The Walking Dead started last night. Not only has DISH dropped American Movie Classics, but AMC took every possible opportunity during the premiere of The Walking Dead to tell us that people with DISH were missing the premiere of The Walking Dead. DISH TV subscribers, you have to be feeling good about yourselves, today! Although you didn’t see it, so you don’t know that AMC pooped on you all night. Until I just told you, now. Or unless you’ve gone to The Walking Dead AMC website, where you will see right up there that it’s NOT AVAILABLE ON DISH.
On with the show…time has passed since we left the survivors from Hershel’s farm sitting by the roadside, all out of faith in their leader, Rick, and totally screwed. We can immediately tell that time has passed because Lori’s pregnancy is showing. Either that or perpetually bony actress Sarah Wayne Callies has broken down and eaten a meal consisting of more than a Ritz Cracker.
The show did a good job in the opening scene of showing us that everyone has changed. No whining. No fighting. No moral quandaries for everyone to stop and discuss before they can break and enter and kill zombies and plunder a house. Until…a slimmer, older, but not taller, Carl finds some tasty dog food for the obviously starving group to eat. That is where Rick draws the line, wordlessly letting us know that HIS. PEOPLE. WILL. NOT. EAT. DOG. FOOD. Yay! Rick still has some of his totally ridiculous principles intact. Things haven’t changed THAT much.
I don’t want to post a lot of spoilers for the DISH TV subscribers who will have to catch up on Hulu. And I’m too lazy to recap the entire episode. I will say that Daryl Dixon seems inexplicably fatter (Norman Reedus, what have you been eating?). Carl’s head has somehow grown into his father’s hat, although the rest of him hasn’t grown at all. Rick has smarted up and he seems to now hate Lori as much as the rest of us do. The characters still make stupid decisions aplenty, like rushing into situations without having any idea what is ahead of them when they actually have the leisure to make some noise from safe places and find out. I’m afraid that the setting of the prison isn’t going to be that interesting. The creators have promised that it’s virtually going to be a character. It’s going to be a really damned grey character, if that’s true. I’m also concerned that the creators have given up any semblance of artistic integrity at all and have decided to react to fan cries of, “We’re bored with the farm, kill more zombies!,” by pummeling us all through Season 3 with the killing of zombies.
On the plus side, my favorite soap opera, The Walking Dead is back, and I can’t wait to see Michonne and Andrea make out!
Of course I’m trying to sell you something, so check out my ebook! Zombies, a bearded lady, and an illegal pet, all on the inside!
However, I’m also apprehensive. I remember the red coal hot barbeque fork tines of disappointment that poked my eyes out during the Season 2 premiere when the zombie herd staggered right past the bleeding T-Dog. In Season 1, characters had covered themselves in zombie guts so they could walk through Atlanta. The team that produces THE WALKING DEAD hadn’t followed their own rules. Earlier in the season, the zombies could smell. Now they couldn’t smell. I felt cheated as shit.
Zombie fans are sticklers for The Rules in a way that fans of other horror genres aren’t. Vampires go to the beach in broad daylight and nobody gives a damn. Silver bullets are optional when killing werewolves, mainly because it’s really hard to come up with silver bullets. Zombie fans care about The Rules because they are actually compiling their own survival guides while they are being entertained. You have to be careful about The Rules. People are paying attention. Close attention.
Later, on THE TALKING DEAD, I heard a member of the show’s creative team respond to the criticism over the You-Said-That- Zombies-Can-Smell-And Then-You-Said-They-Can’t-Smell issue. He said something like, “We never said that zombies are bloodhounds. We’ve never had zombies sniffing people out.” I got mad all over again. ZOMBIES WOULD HAVE TO NOT HAVE ANY SENSE OF SMELL AT ALL TO NOT SMELL T-DOG GUSHING BLOOD, AND YOU TOLD US BEFORE THAT THEY COULD SMELL PEOPLE!
But somewhere along the line, I gave it up. It’s not like there is ANOTHER zombie show I can watch. I have to watch the only zombie show there is. I can’t NOT watch the only zombie show there is. And that led to me relaxing other rules I generally have about my entertainment just so I could watch THE WALKING DEAD.
Rules about character continuity. Relaxed. Lori went to town alone to tell Hershel that his daughter was sick in spite of the fact that the men had gone into town to find Hershel because Hershel’s daughter was sick. Now, Lori would NEVER, EVER chance her son losing both parents. EVER. She is the character who is LEAST likely to go off alone on a ridiculous errand. And, beep beep, there she went. I was mildly annoyed, but I dealt.
Rules about maintaining a decent, believable plot in general. Relaxed. The only person who was still on Shane’s side by the end of Season 2 was Andrea. Nobody really trusted Shane. Almost all of them feared Shane. Yet the entire group was horrified when Rick confessed that he’d killed Shane. The reason they turned against Rick was the producers needed them to turn against Rick to set up what is going to happen in Season 3. Again, I dealt.
And I’ll probably keep right on dealing. THE WALKING DEAD is my soap opera. I’m like my grandma with her “stories” that she had to watch every single weekday, with people coming back to town with different faces to avenge themselves against their evil twins who’d stolen their husbands. Grandma knew that shit wasn’t real. THE WALKING DEAD isn’t real. BUT THEY’D BETTER WATCH THE RULES, THIS SEASON! OR I’LL BE MAD! I’ll watch. But I’ll be mad.
I, personally, follow the rules with my zombie fiction. Check out the great review of my ebook, ZOMBIES TAKE MANHATTAN!
And one more repost from 2011… This is one of my favorite passages from Charlie Huston, a master at laying down a lot of info without ever once losing control of the words or the reader’s attention.
“Killing a zombie isn’t complicated, it’s just hard…
So, for the sake of argument, say you have a zombie in front of you and you want to kill it. Well the best, quickest, and easiest thing to do is sever the connection between its brain and the rest of the body. This may not actually kill the host, but not even the zombie bacteria can move a host once its brain stem is hacked or its neck is snapped. Now, say you have two or more zombies standing there and you want all of them dead and you don’t really have any practical zombie-killing experience to draw on. In that case you might try pulling out your large-caliber hand-gun and shooting them in the heart. You could try for the face, but unless you hit the brain stem or blow out some really enormous chunks of gray matter, they’re gonna keep coming after you. So just go for the heart. Explode the heart and the machine can’t run no matter how hard the bacteria works. You could also strangle, drown or burn or blow up or hang or chop up or push from a tall building your average zombie. As long as you stop the heart or the brain or just cause massive physical trauma, you’re gonna kill the thing. But we’re talking about finding a quick and easy method here. So my advice is use a gun and a lot of bullets, just like if you were trying to kill your wife or husband.”
From Already Dead, by Charlie Huston, 2005