The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Posts Tagged ‘zombies’

Linkies (some commentary)

Posted by BigWords on June 30, 2011

Gypsyscarlett posted about the first horror film a while back, so I should point out how late (comparatively) this move into the horror genre was for early cinema. The first comic-book adaptation – something seen by many as a recent phenomenon – was in the 1880s. You can argue amongst yourselves if they meet the precise criteria, but both Ally Sloper and a series of untitled shorts based off a one-pager of a boy (sometimes a girl) standing on a water hose, then raising their foot when the gardener looks into the end of the hose, were made in the mid-1880’s (eighty-four seems to be a date that stands out)

Blake M. Petit put up his 100 favorite comics – there are some excellent choices in there, and I may steal borrow the idea at some point for a post. I really need to convert people to the wonders of Valerian, The Walking Dead and Black Jack for good karma points.

Neftwink has been posting some amazing photographs over the last couple of months, so you should be taking a look.

Oh, and Jamie DeBree raised a subject I’ve been trying to ignore. Notes. The mere thought of explaining how jotting down the things which make up my works-in-progress tick makes me cry.

At some point I’m going to have to explain how I pull all the threads into little blankets of text with which I try to wrap my characters into seamlessly. Hmm… Lots of fabric metaphors there. (You’re guess is as good as mine as to where that came from)

Talents. Uh. “I can see where the holes are.” Stop sniggering. It wasn’t meant like that, and you know it. When I look at things (from novels to comics, from television shows to news broadcasts) I can see where there are things which have been omitted, and where pieces which appear to be unconnected end up intersecting. It’s like I know instinctively where there ought to be more material. It also allows me to call bullshit on nearly everything which BBC News broadcasts – not that doing that is particularly difficult.

While I agree with this, I also acknowledge that there are times when calling someone names is not only necessary but demanded. Anyone who claims the live-action Transformers films are high art, for example, or who insist that Yoko Ono’s songs are beautiful.

When I saw this post my immediate reaction was to point out precisely why we need to be able to film police officers…

Can anyone say “Rodney King”?

Oh, and you must read this as a primer to the forthcoming apocalypse.

Posted in Misc., writing, zombies | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Some More Thoughts On Books

Posted by BigWords on January 14, 2011

I’ve touched on this before, but the subject of book design – and everything that a person can do to ensure the best product possible – refuses to go away. People keep coming up with new ideas, recycling old ones, and borrowing others from monthly publications, The nature of publishing is not too far from the attention starved kid in the back of the classroom desperate to have some validation of their existence, constantly pulling pranks and cracking jokes so notice will be paid of him (for it is nearly always a male), and this has been so for decades. The attempts to induce casual purchasers of titles to pick up a book has resulted in some very gauche gimmicks – from the hologram cover (notably used on Wes Craven’s Fountain Society, though better known as an aspect of the Dork Age of comics) to jewel-covered titles. Yes, it seems that there are people with too much money on their hands. The various attempts at attracting buyers has not been entirely successful over the years, and a handful of truly unattractive books have managed to make it to the shelves – none of which I will name here, in an attempt at retaining some degree of impartiality here.

A recent conversation turned my mind back to a notion which, initially, seemed as if it was a throwaway remark intended to get people thinking on the ways that the future was rapidly becoming the present. Adding digital content to hard copies isn’t a new concept, with CDs having been included with books since the nineties (there are a few great examples, a lot of fine uses, and a couple of pointless additions to the main text), but there hasn’t been a game-changing example in a while. One of the main problems with adding things to a book has been the manner in which the items were grafted to the basic design of a book. The cardboard CD sleeve design on inside covers is annoying (and nearly always a source of annoyance and interminable frustration in retrieving the disc), while the small foam stub has issues regarding the replacement of the CD or DVD-Rom. This is an important piece of the complete book if it is deemed worthy of inclusion, but too little attention is payed to the way in which it all hangs together. I’m more interested in a means of adding digital content which removes the need for such contrivances, and which steps neatly around new problems.

I can’t find the precise link to where I previously covered this, but I pointed out that hardback editions of popular titles were the best place to test-drive the fusion of the traditional and the digital. If you look at the spine of a big hardback title, you’ll notice that there is a gap between the binding and the actual spine of the book. By extending the edge of the book slightly there will be enough room to slip in a memory stick, and as memory sticks now have more than enough room in their memory, the concept of having the full text in a number of formats is not out of the question. This goes back to extended treatise on e-books I did as well, and I still insist there are much better e-book formats forthcoming.

Before anyone gets the idea that I’m somehow slighting e-books by referring to them in the same post as I go over “gimmicks” then I assure you that I am not maligning them. Far from it. Having stated before that eBooks are something which will slowly emerge as a full media separate from traditional publishing, there’s no need for me to further elaborate on their status. The current technology behind them is baby steps. That’s all getting me further away from the central idea I’m pondering, and the ways in which books can take advantage of their design.

When I started thinking about the gimmick-covers I immediately thought of books which tied in their content to the design of the cover. There are a few examples of DVD cases acting as showcases for the skills of the design team which prove that the packaging is sometimes more impressive than the contents – one of the Saw films (IV or V) has a circular saw mechanism in a little window on the box, which (after some words from John Kramer) starts churning away at flesh unseen… he clear plastic being already rendered to appear as if blood is spurting across the inside of the packaging. Yes, it’s a lame gimmick for a second-rate film, but it managed to attract my attention for a few moments. Had this been used on a film which I considered less childish in its’ theme, I may have actually bought the box instead of the regular packaging. Synthesis between cover and content is key, and with no thematic link, and cover effect is worthless.

Books, then. I like the idea of having something unique (or which at least attempts the illusion of individuality), so having something crafted on the cover is appealing. I was looking at samplers, and the conceit of having an actual sampler on the cover of a book about samplers hit me. It’s a neat idea, but my fledgling steps towards the art form have been less than successful, despite spending an ungodly amount of time coming up with a design which I thought was really funny – a zombie theme, naturally. Gauging how long I have spent unpicking the damn thing and attempting to make it look even halfway like something I would have hanging around a living space – never mind showing in public – means that the production of such things aren’t entirely without problems. Maybe having one on a cover isn’t the best idea I have ever come up with, as the production process would require an extended period of trial and error in the design stage.

The size of a book, in instances where adding things to the cover is concerned, really does matter. Would I buy a book which reproduced album covers at full size? Probably not, unless the reverse of each image had a substantial degree of contextual information. Would I buy it if it had an actual LP glued to the cover? Yeah. I really would. it’s a gimmick as much as anything else, but it appeals to my sense of the surreal, and has an unusual element. Unusual is good, because it immediately engages the reader in questions. There was a lot of talk about the first video advert in a magazine, and soon – when the kinks in the technology have been worked out – I can imagine a video cover on a book. Before the cries of “heresy” and “blasphemer” erupt, I am not claiming that such a move would be a step forward, nor a great advance in literary wealth, but it might shift a few more copies of a book which would otherwise not shift as many copies. Sales are damn important to both an author’s reputation and a book’s long-term status, so the first person to have such a cover would need to make sure that the title on which it is first implemented be damn good.

The proof of gimmick covers is not just in the world of comics (where the otherwise predictable and cliche-laden X-Men #1 sold a million or so copies), but also in the way that DVDs with multiple covers has become the norm. We are living in an age when the attention span of the consumer has to be taken into account, and any publicity which can be generated by something so seemingly simple as cover ornamentation must be looked into as an enhancement as much as it is a declaration of content. Content may be king, but the cover is the queen – that which people pay attention to, and which commands attention. I’ll refrain from the “just like a woman” comment, as I’ll only end up getting grief for that…

Posted in Misc., Over The Line, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Zombiethon Round-Up – Part Three

Posted by BigWords on October 31, 2010

I didn’t make it to fifty films. That isn’t the biggest let-down of the week (you can make an educated guess regarding the previous post as to the nature of the week’s low point), yet the fact that I’ve sat through no less than forty odd films and a couple of television episodes regarding zombies has made me realize a few things. Firstly, I really, really want to be somewhere with an independent supply of water when the apocalypse falls. Can you imagine the smell of undead pieces of flesh hanging off your weaponry, compounded by the fact that no-one has had a shower in weeks? These are the types of questions which have been rattling around my head whilst the filmmakers intentions have been largely ignored. I’ve seen most of the decent films enough to know them off by heart, so the ruminations have been getting free reign.

Despite not setting out to expand my theories about survival post-civilization, there are good tips throughout zombie films, and even suggestions which could be put to use whilst the cities are still standing. Zombieland‘s cardio rule is a very pertinent one in a world where there are a lot of folks too fat to run from the undead. The walking banquets are, in a roundabout way, good for the long term survival of the human race, ’cause while the zombies are feasting on them the rest of us can run like our asses are on fire. And, while I’m thinking of food here (yeah, watching zombies do their stuff make me hungry) there needs to be enough food wherever I am at the beginning of the apocalypse, as there is no chance I’ll survive on junk food alone. Well, not for long anyways…

Even though it isn’t (yet) a required text on zombies, Dead Rising has a perfectly valid argument against trying to hook up with other survivors – there is nothing to say that everyone else hasn’t gone completely and utterly insane with the situation around them. These fuckwits (technical term) will most likely be the death of as many people as zombies, so it makes sense that everyone tries to avoid everyone else. Just in case. Adding to the reasons for avoiding other survivors is the fact that there is always one idiot who denies they have been bitten. Go watch the Dawn Of The Dead remake and you’ll see that even babies aren’t above suspicion… So yeah.

The list, for those of you wishing to replicate this “experiment”:

28 Days Later; 28 Weeks Later; 48 Weeks Later; AAH! Zombies!!; Apocalypse Of The Dead; Beyond Re-Animator; Bio Zombie; Day Of The Dead; Day Of The Dead; Day Of The Dead 2: Contagium; Dead Air; Dead Snow; Diary Of The Dead; Fido; The Ghost Galleon; The Horde; House Of The Dead; I Walked With A Zombie; I Was A Teenage Zombie; King Of The Zombies; The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue; Living Dead Girl; Mutant; Night Of The Living Dead; Night Of The Living Dead; Night Of The Seagulls; Pet Sematary; The Plague Of The Zombies; Quarantine; Resident Evil; Resident Evil: Apocalypse; Return Of The Blind Dead; Shaun Of The Dead; Survival Of The Dead; Tombs Of The Blind Dead; Trailer Park Of Terror; Versus; White Zombie; Wicked Little Things; Zombie Bloodbath; Zombie Flesh Eaters; Zombieland; Zombies, Zombies, Zombies

There sometimes wasn’t time for me to watch full features, so I threw in a few episodes of Tales From The Crypt as well – the less said about the feature films the better. You may also want to check out a couple of first season episodes of Urban Gothic, which subverts zombies and necromancy seven different ways before the end credits roll. Oh, and while I remember about it – as my brain is quite likely to melt before the next election rolls around – all Brits reading this really need to reconsider their political allegiance when there exists a party which actually makes sense out there. Trust me… When the end of days comes, you will want to have the correct people in charge.

Posted in Misc., Over The Line, zombies | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

The Zombiethon Round-Up – Part Two

Posted by BigWords on October 31, 2010

If the first post was “The Good,” then this is The Bad. The films I have avoided mentioning thus far are, without being too mean, worse than eating dogshit whilst having a red hot poker thrust up your anus, as a Hanson album plays on an eternal loop. These are the films even as distinguished a film geek as Quentin Tarantino would be unlikely to admit to watching. I’m possibly overstating just how god-awful they are, but not by  much. I know they are meant to be horror films, but I’m sure inducing horror in viewers at the prospect of watching them again wasn’t exactly the idea. You can go hunt them down if you are sufficiently mentally ill or have a broad and deep masochistic streak, but it would honestly be cheaper paying someone to punch you in the face repeatedly.

The first film to make me question my sanity in a week of zombie films was the comic-book adaptation Trailer Park Of Terror, which sounds like the perfect mix of everything I like, yet managed to disappoint on nearly every level. It’s not that the story is bad (there’s a nice clean line through the film), it’s just awful to look at. If I had watched it in isolation, I would probably have been more favorable to it, yet hot on the heels of some of the classics of the zombie genre it pales into insignificance.There are some nice extras with the main feature, but no matter how much supporting material could be added, it’s just another in a long list of disappointments which would sully those first few hours of flesh-tearing bliss.

The worst offender is – without the shadow of a doubt – Zombies, Zombies, Zombies, a film which any sane film producer would have bought in a heartbeat when they heard the high concept. It’s a twist on the Dawn Of The Dead conceit of hiding somewhere safe, in this instance a strip club. The survivors are, naturally, strippers themselves, yet despite having one of the best-sounding premises, it manages to destroy the idea resoundingly. I wanted to like this for so many reasons… Um. Okay, mainly for the strippers, but the film deserves no time whatsoever spent thinking about it. That I have already typed this much out is a testament to how much it irritates me, and I would rather puke blood than continue. Therefore…

That 48 Weeks Later manages to make those two films look decent by a substantial magnitude beggars belief. It’s so bad that it could feasibly be used as an implement of torture should the US military wish to get quick answers from those detained at Gitmo – trust me, even the most hardened terrorist will beg for a quick death after sitting through the first half hour, and it goes downhill from there. It would have gotten on this page for piggybacking on the success of 28 Days Later alone, but it’s unimaginable badness means it gets a special level of Hell all to itself. The amateurish acting borders on hilarious, so if you want to laugh at production values, awful acting and the kind of direction not seen since The Star Wars Holiday Special then this should suit you perfectly.

While not quite as bad as the above, Apocalypse Of The Dead is so packed full of clichés that it struggles to retain any of the vague interest which the admittedly cool cover art raises. It neither strikes an individual tone nor conforms to any of the established ideas which zombie films should strike for, varying wildly in tone from broad comedy to (allegedly) tense drama in the space of a few scenes. The brief moment late in the film where it seems to take a cue from Stephen King’s Cell is an opening which is never capitalized on, yet the “leader zombie” is probably the most interesting character in the entire film. That doesn’t say much for the leads, but they are as wooden as the stake through Dracula’s chest. If I make it sound disjointed and an awkward addition to the genre, then I am being kind.

It may seem a tad unfair to lump The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue (or whichever of the hundred odd alternate titles it shows under) with that lot, though I found it to have none of the charm or style which the best of the zombie films display. There are a few exceptional scenes which border on classic, though aside from the bandaged zombie I don’t foresee myself wishing to revisit this any time soon. I’m only being nicer to AAH! Zombies!! as it has a funny idea and a quirky style, but it rapidly outstays it welcome once shifting from its’ early premise into something that is not entirely unlike Stubbs The Zombie. Instead of being mean, I’ll just point out how hot Betsy Beutler is, and quickly change subject.

Beyond Re-Animator is the one film I’m mentioning here which I truly wish wasn’t made, not because of how bad it is, but because it diminishes the first two films in the series. The prison setting is still fresh enough that it holds some interest, yet manages to fumble some excellent set-ups with poorly thought out scares and crappy editing. I really like Jeffrey Combs, and the only reason I can think of him doing this film is that he was trapped into a contract even Harry Houdini couldn’t have gotten out of.

Those were the highlights of the worst. You may want to refrain from thinking too long on what films were so bad as to make me repress the memory of having watched them, but bearing in mind the level of quality here I’ve spent more time wondering how these films get made. The Bill Hicks joke about production meetings (which hangs pretty much on the phrase “Will there be titty?”) doesn’t seem so far fetched after all…

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The Zombiethon Round-Up – Part One

Posted by BigWords on October 31, 2010

Eternal cruise, I feel the fires of madness
Burning holes into my wounds
This Hell on Earth, I feel the power of sadness
No way out I’m marooned.

Lonely this Hell on Earth
Demons screaming in my mind
Wading through debris of life
A thousand souls their graves to find.

Marooned by Running Wild

My grand plan for Halloween wasn’t without some, ah… interesting time management issues, and I am especially proud of the ingenious idea of watching DVD’s on the laptop during my lunch break to keep from falling behind. You’ve probably guessed from the title of the blog post that it has something to do with the undead, but it is much, much madder than anyone could possibly think of, at least without already lining themselves up for a padded room in a nice facility where the jackets are done up from behind.

The plan was to watch fifty zombie films in a week, so I started with the DVDs I knew I would like (not the last mistake I would make during this insane challenge), namely Dawn Of The Dead, Shaun Of The Dead, I Walked With A Zombie and Zombie Flesh Eaters. Calculating the odds of getting through the entire fifty meant that some cheating was in order, so I pulled out the box set of old zombie flicks and watched King Of The Zombies, Revolt Of The Zombies and White Zombie to fulfill my classic quota and to get some shorter features in before the time constraints really began to bite. The picture quality on the newer films was fine, but those older films are really starting to show their age, even on HD-upscaled DVDs.

A minor interlude is called for here, as it seems to me that the DVD quality of White Zombie especially is actually worse than the old video sell-through release. The tonal quality of the footage lightens and darkens mid-scene throughout, and the number of scratches is unbelievable. It wasn’t this bad on video (or, for that matter, on the 16mm version I saw whilst it was circulating in the late-80s), so I can only assume that this isn’t from the same master copy. The film itself has some wonderful moments, and one scene in particular stands out – Karloff’s Legendre is overseeing the removal of Madeleine’s coffin, and it is so much like a shot Kubrick would have engineered that I had to rewind a few moments to see it again. So beautiful…

Tick tock, tick tock… The clock is tight enough as it is, and I’m fucking around by rewinding. The night was filled with the original Night of The Living Dead, then the remake of Day Of The Dead. That is one film, I gotta say, that doesn’t deserve to be connected to George A. Romero in any way. Mena Suvari is so hopelessly miscast as a hard-ass military stock character that the rest of the film can’t help but look ridiculous around her. There are good effects in there, but rather blunted by the fact that she doesn’t get horrifically mutilated within the first half hour by the undead. With dawn closing in on me, and the week about to begin in earnest, I settled on 28 Days Later. Yeah, I know… “It’s not a zombie film.” Well, fuck Danny Boyle and the horse he rode in on. It’s a schlocky zombie flick. End of story.

I’m splitting this into three, so I can cover as much as I can be bothered saying about each of the films I watched. This, unsurprisingly being the first, is where I get to lavish affection on the good stuff, as there really isn’t enough said about the better zombie films. The other two posts will mostly be mockery and insults, so enjoy the relatively good mood on display here:

My opinions on NOTLD, Dawn and (to a lesser degree) Day haven’t changed over the years. Romero, more than any other director, really gets the concept of zombies – or, as he uses in NOTLD , “ghouls,” which is a much better word for his creatures. I love his style and his voice, but even I am not insane enough to class Diary Of The Dead in the same category as his earlier work. It’s a neat idea, but it’s also one which has been driven into the ground since The Last Broadcast – a classic of the POV style. The immediate follow-up to this, Survival Of The Dead is even less notable, save for an amazing final shot – almost worth sitting through the rest of the film for alone. It also breaks a cardinal rule by having identical twins as a major plot point, which indicates the slow deterioration of the “Dead” series as much as the dilution of the danger has.

If you are wondering, I’ll state right now that I skipped the lamentable Land Of The Dead. It’s not that it adds nothing to the mythos – the attraction to fireworks, and an increase in zombie intelligence which will eventually pay off in Survival – are fine, but any explanation as to how the sealed-off city fits in with the other films would require too much back-story. It’s the ugly step-sister of the franchise, desperately trying to look hip and cool while waddling along with too much padding. That’s probably heresy, but I’m beyond caring. I also managed to skip the comedy-horror Return of The Evil Dead, though that was more from luck than anything else – I forgot about it until it was too late to hunt down my copy. It’s probably nestled between Plan 9 From Outer Space and Twilight, along with a host of other B-movies…

Due to a couple of recommendations (here and here), I picked up the Norwegian film Dead Snow, and… Okay, I liked this, but the barrage of Frank Miller references in the credits threw me off slightly, and the shout-out to 300 only compounded the feeling that I was watching a low-budget fan-film. The effects are awesome, and it has a great storyline, yet there are moments where it feels as if it is trying too hard to throw in references to other films for the sake of it. I especially found the stark chiaroscuro of the trees against the snow at the beginning, though the harsher black and white element is lost rapidly as the film moves into a more traditional horror style. The zombies themselves are a major departure, being able to not only run, but also fight the “heroes” – med students, including a comedy character whose inclusion is obvious from the first reference to his phobia.

Another outstanding example of non-traditional zombies comes in the form of The Horde, a French zombie film in the mold of the Dawn Of The Dead remake, though infused with a stylistic angle as expected from a pair of French directors. It’s billed as “Die Hard with zombies,” but it has a lot more in common with computer games than any films which come immediately to mind. The sequence in Max Payne 2 where the building is burning around him is captured in mood, only the danger is zombies running around trying to eat people rather than flames licking at the heroes heels. The fat guy with the fire-axe may be a reference to Resident Evil, though it becomes an indispensable character trait for the unlikely savior of the beleaguered survivors. I’m going to watch this again, it’s that good…

That, sadly, is most of the best stuff. Sturgeon’s Law is fully in effect when it comes to zombie films – perhaps more than in other horror sub-genres – so I’ll leave off this post here without spoiling the mood.

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I Have A Cunning Plan…

Posted by BigWords on October 17, 2009

I’m still wandering from idea to idea without so much as an inkling of what my NaNo will be about, though the notion of adopting “dares” seems to be one which has real appeal. They will, of course, need a through-story to make sense of them, and a proper sense of time and place. Some ideas which are being bandied around sound really fun to tackle, and I may have to decide on a genre quickly if I’m gonna add more, but the following seem to have merit:

Have a character who kills people via txt-tlk.

Interesting, but it might be a bit of a hard sell.

Use as many AW user names as character names as you can.

Oh yeah, this one is gonna be interesting.

Make your characters play ‘The Game.’
BP if someone says, “I lost the game” at the climax.
DBP if the game is a plot point.

Maybe. I like the notion of an ARG being a plot point.

DARE: Use the words lubrication, moist, and intercourse in your novel

This… I kinda HAVE to do, don’t I?

DARE: Have a character say “I reject your reality and substitute my own!” to another character.

I like.

Include a character who makes constant references to the internet meme of your choice.
-BP if the internet doesn’t exist/hasn’t been invented yet in your world.
-DBP if no one questions this character until at least halfway through the story. That includes references to it in thoughts.
-TBP if the character ends up turning evil because his/her ways were questioned.
-QBP if they become the main villain.

Have a character who only says one line
BP if they say the line in every scene they’re in
Double BP if the line makes sense in the context of the scene
Triple BP if it turns out to be an important plot point

DARE: Have a belligerent robot.
BP: If he was programmed that way.
TBP: If the purpose of his creation was to drive the entire world insane.
QBP: If the programmer did this by accident, but was happy with the result.

Dare: Incorporate Vampire-Robot-Nazis who are also zombies into your plot.
BP if one Vampire-Robot-Nazi who is also a zombie says “You’ve just been Philed in.” after shooting somebody several times.

Damn… So many good bits of business to use, and I still – fucking pathetic, I know – have no plot. The one thing I have set my mind on is the fact that I’m exploiting the Friday the 13th date in the middle of November. That’s when all the nasty horror stuff will appear, though with the suggestions that I like from AW and the NaNo boards being more SF in nature… Yeah, this is gonna take some hard work to accomplish.

The geek in me loves the following:

Have one of your battles be an RPG battle, and record commands, damage taken, limit breaks, etc.
– BP if all your battles are like this
– DBP if at least one of your battles is a random encounter, with the monsters spawning literally out of nowhere

I might just do an entire novel set in the City Of Heroes game.

Posted in Over The Line, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Pick A Genre, Any Genre…

Posted by BigWords on October 16, 2009

NaNo is approaching fast, and I still haven’t even decided which genre I’ll be using for my entry. That’s right, I’m completely and totally out in the wind on this. I should decide soon, but there are so many crazy things that seem like they would be fun to try. If November rolls around and I still haven’t decided on a specific genre I’ll be forced to sit down and type the first thing that comes in to my head, which won’t be pretty…

The options are endless, though somehow intimidatingly small. A western? Nope. Still tinkering with the mess I’ve got the last one into. A thriller? Too plot-heavy to wing it, and there wouldn’t be enough time to come up with an amazing twist or three. A detective story? Maybe. I like the work-backwards’s way (mangling the English language here, bear with me) in which they work, but the one month rule is a bit tight to do one justice.

Fantasy? Very possibly the genre which will save my ass. I like the strangeness I’ll be able to play with. SF? Tied with fantasy, though perhaps too much to deal with in one month. Horror, then? Oooh, yeah, a very real possibility, but it won’t be zombies. The zombie novel I dusted off and checked through looks too good to waste energy on aping, and I will be coming back to it after November.

So I’m left with… Erotica? Sheesh, trying one for the first time with the whole pressure of NaNo would be insanity, and I’m not sure what new insight I would be able to offer that genre. Comedy, possibly? Aaah, yes, my old friend comedy. Though my taste in humor is very, very dark, the prospect of trying to remain in a funny mood for a whole month will probably result in one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever written. Parody might be do-able.

Maybe autobiography would be too self-indulgent, unless I decided to drag up a lot of old shit that is unresolved. I’ve been witness to some incredible, and some very illegal, things over the years, so settling old scores by telling the world where the bodies are buried (metaphorically) would also be therapeutic. It might get me greenlit by an unhappy reader, but at least it would be interesting and a unique angle.

And I have yet to work out if it will even be a novel. I’ve always wanted to write a musical along the lines of the Morrison-era Doom Patrol comic. A giant ball of light in the middle of a stage singing how having sex with one’s self is so grand… Heh heh, that’ll probably be my Christmas pantomime idea, so I better leave it till later. A comic-book script will be tough to hit 50k with, unless I come over all Alan Moore with the descriptions.

A computer game? Which brings up an interesting question I hadn’t thought of until now… Does computer code count towards the final word count? Hell, I could hit 500k (maybe more) if I was allowed to go wild with code, and I could turn in an actual finished (if kinda small) game if I was left alone for a month. Maybe I’ll bolt myself away and unplug the ‘phone so I have no distractions…

Wow. So much choice, and so little time left to make up my mind.

I want to keep clear of anything anyone else is doing as well, just to add to my problems. That’s one of the reasons I’m so picky about my work – I can see so many similarities to the works of others. I’ll check the SYW area of Absolute Write every now and again, and nearly every time I do so – or closer to every time – I end up scrapping a handful of ideas because they have been covered so well by others.

Nathan Bransford said that originality was impossible over in his blog, but I still want to strive for something that feels unique. Something that rings with a sensibility that could not have come from the mind of any other writer. I want, to put it bluntly, to be so fucking original that it hurts. Yeah, that’s the ranting of a spoiled child, but I’m not gonna apologize. I’m in crisis mode here.

Two weeks and counting. This is probably gonna be a very long two weeks, filled with possible storylines emerging, bad ideas being mocked and an unhealthy amount of liquor being drank. Two weeks of worrying – because worry is good – and frantic scribbles to see if I’m able to come up with a unique idea, told in a unique way, with unique characters. Hell, I might as well give up right now…

Maybe nobody will notice if I just re-write my favorite myths as extended superheroes-by-way-of-horror film mash. A drunken, mean Heracles bitch-slapping people for no real reason. I could even write it so it reads exactly like early Image comics. Hmmm… There’s an idea.

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Notes On The Zombie Apocalypse

Posted by BigWords on October 12, 2009

Back when I started writing the zombie novel (my records show that to be 2003) I decided to take copious notes on anything and everything that could possibly be referenced. One of the first things which was considered was the weather, due to the usual horror bullshit of everything happening in the rain – something I was determined to avoid. It’s kinda an unusual way of approaching a story like this, but still…

With the dead walking there would be no scheduled flights taking place. The only record of such an event taking place is 9/11, so I looked at the weather reports which were taken in the weeks after the attack and noticed an increase of 1° in the three days after flights were grounded. Global dimming – where the reflection of the sun by clouds – is counteracted by Mother Nature, along with slightly clearer skies, would mean sunny days ahead.

If the infrastructure of emergency services is compromised early there would be massive fires, making city living impossible. The toxic fumes from the smoke would replace some, but not all, of the pollution which has been eliminated by normal life. While the oft-publicized greenhouse effect has been warming the planet, global dimming (thank you airlines of the world) has been cooling things down. With air pollution minimized we would be facing very hot days.

All of which amused me, as writing rainy scenes with running zombies seemed to veer deep into parody. And, knowing my sense of humor, I would be forced to use slapstick scenes of the shuffling undead kicking water into the air in amazement at their surroundings…

The interesting bits of info from my notes mostly cover world-building and organization (reorganization, actually) of society, but some neat visuals came from medical stuff as well. There are nine pints of blood (roughly) in a human body, so – working back from the endpoint – I managed to estimate that one human could sustain five zombies for a day or so. It gets more complex as time moves forward, due to the desiccation of the zombies, but as a starting point I thought it pretty solid.

The fact that a severed femoral artery is capable of spraying claret six feet also added to an idea which came to me during an episode of a nature documentary. Sorry to say that I didn’t note the program, but it dealt with sharks being able to ‘smell’ blood. So… They know that there is an injured person nearby because they can sense the presence of fresh blood which isn’t zombified. It takes quite a bit of workaround to sell their heightened sense of smell as a logical plot point, but one which works for the betterment of the story.

Interestingly (or so I think) I chose to call the small interludes ‘INTERMEZZO #1’ etc., rather than the (expected) movie-referencing INTERMISSION. The following is from the first of these pauses, but I’m not sure if it would have ended up being included or not:

Infrastructure is underrated. The societies we build around us depend on independent and subtly woven tapestries of companies, individuals and entire industries which – over decades – have coalesced into an efficient illusion of simple everyday occurrence. It is only when the morning newspapers fail to arrive, or public transport is discontinued, or some other inconvenience shatters our routine that we are forced to confront the possibility that we rely too heavily on the continuance of things which are out of our control.

Wordy and obvious. Meh.

The following is a conversation from near the end of the first chapter.

“Do you want the long version or the short version?”
“Readers Digest version.”
“We’re fucked.”
“Maybe I will take the Director’s Cut after all…”
“Okay, we’re fucked and the dead are walking.”
“Isn’t there a bunch of other information on the commentaries. Like, how-they-did-that segments on the dead walking?”
“Just look out a window.”

Not exactly subtle, but zombie stories aren’t meant to be subtle, right?

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New Stuff, Old Stuff, Weird Stuff & My Stuff

Posted by BigWords on October 10, 2009

I’ve added quite a number of things to the blog upon my return to the interwebs, and even though I’m not quite up to speed (internet weeks aren’t like real weeks, because time works differently online) I have managed to get most of the essentials done. There are programs which still haven’t been loaded onto the laptop, but they can wait while the important business of maintaining this little corner of the internet is attended to.

Two sayings have been running through my mind as I contemplate the quickly approaching NaNo date (November 1), and I guess that the sentiments are widely held because of their ubiquity:

A change is as good as a rest.

Variety is the spice of life.

Those may seem to be simplistic ways of viewing our day-to-day lives (whatever that entails), but they have the nugget of truth that I feel is true in more ways than they are facetious. I like them. I’m also taking the advice oft given that “having a break from the usual routine” can do wonders for the weary soul. That translates as something more akin to a 180° than a slight shift in behavior. I’m almost beginning to feel relieved that I don’t have to do some things.

This post is a change from my usual meanderings, being – as it is – a rough guide to this blog. I’m also prepping my brain for a completely new story for NaNoWriMo. There may be more on that subject once the date comes around…

New stuff (here on my blog) includes a list of places I frequent. Jeez, that sounds so fucking sleazy written out like that, and I’m wondering if ‘frequent’ (as a word) is now associated too deeply with cottaging and dirty old men outside school gates. I would try to think of  a better word if my brain wasn’t so frazzled at the moment, but right now I’m struggling to come up with ways to phrase things that aren’t completely lame-beyond-comparison.

I also attempted to write a Bucket List, but my pathetic attempt fell short of the normal 100 things by quite a way. 95 entries to be exact. Am I that hopeless right now that I can’t even come up with the things I would love to do before the Grim Reaper decides I’m too tasty a snack to ignore any longer? I am, without a doubt, beyond redemption right now, and I can only apologize about my uselessness at filling the list.

Must do better will be my epitaph.

Old stuff which has will been added around here is covered by some of the opening text from my zombie apocalypse magnum opus. (I know, I know… I haven’t typed it up yet, so be patient) There is probably more stuff I can find on my external hard drives, but I need to install some software before I can fully appreciate the wonders which are located on them.

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Whatever the positives or negatives of the companies, the adverts currently spamming British television for gold to sell have been getting rather annoying. After the ridiculous claims have been sifted out of the message they present (gold is not better than cold hard cash) you can begin to see them for what they are… And to have Anne bloody Diamond presenting one of them is beyond a fucking joke.

This is – you may remember – an individual whose claim to fame is being a gob for hire. She would say whatever a person wanted for some cash, like the good little worker bee she is. I remember reading her ludicrous comments in the aftermath of the Bulger case, and she really isn’t the most intelligent person on the planet, never mind the country. It is a hidden message that you would have to be slightly brain-damaged to take the advert seriously.

I’ll expand on this when I find the courage to read some of the crap which she’s written.

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That is all for now. I’ll post something more substantial when I get around to loading in all the stuff I need onto the laptop and get things set up how I like.

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Zombie Wordsearch

Posted by BigWords on September 14, 2009

zombiewordsearchJust for fun – and because my obsession with lists kinds makes them essential – I’m posting a wordsearch here. Sans clues. Yup, that’s right… You’re gonna have to stretch your little gray matter to find all thirty-six words and phrases I have included.

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