That’s a whole lot of zombies

In Case of Zombies
In Case of Zombies

I have 85 zombie movies in my Netflix queue right now.  After Shoot ‘Em Up, I will begin watching as many of them as I can before and during my zombie class in January.  I wonder how many I’ll get through.

Brendan Riley: zombie expert

From “Undead Like Me” by Gavon Laessig, at

The Zombie Walk is only the most recent example of flesh-eating ghouls seeping into our daily lives like so much puss from their decaying husks. Explains Professor Brendan Riley, a zombie expert at Columbia College Chicago, these illegal immigrants from the grave have been with us for decades. “Zombies are pretty interesting because, as we understand them today, it’s a very modern monster. Vampires and werewolves and ghouls are all monsters that have been around for a long time, but zombies didn’t really show up until the 1920s,” says Prof. Riley. …

“I think what makes the zombie so frightening for us is the idea of you being you, but not being able to control yourself,” Prof. Riley says. “The voodoo zombie is literally a person under the control of another person. In ‘White Zombie’ it was a magical control. In ‘Night of the Living Dead’ the zombie is under the control of this insatiable hunger. Even though the films go out of their way to say this isn’t the person it used to be, what’s scary is the idea that it might be—it might be us. There is this idea that something about us stays in that creature.”

[emphasis mine]

Happy Halloween 1

Rated MY: Moderately yucky for zombie gore and violence.


Creepy politics

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Rarely Riotous

I don’t really know what I expected from Jonathan Winters: Rare and Riotous. I have a vague memory of JW being very funny during a short bit at an awards show, probably the Emmys.  So when I came across this DVD on Netflix, I snatched up my opportunity to see what Winters brings to the table.

To be fair, his shifty eyes and faces are downright hilarious.  Very funny.  But this doesn’t outweigh the “haw haw” back slapping that JW and Art Carney do for the bulk of the first 1 hour show (which I couldn’t even bear to finish).  The funniest bits were the old commercials, as for Scripto pens.

Most frustrating were the number of topical jokes Winters and Carney made.  A number of times, Carney did impressions or said punch lines that left the audience in stitches while I scratched my noodle.  The overall effect was much like watching Ryan Styles and Colin Whatshisname improvising together, but in fifty years when half their jokes don’t make sense.

It seems like I should have just watched the highlight reel on Youtube.


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Zombies in Popular Media

Zombies in Popular Media

My new flyer is ready.  Woot.

A snapshot of American election coverage

A snapshot of American election coverage

Screenshot from Yahoo, 28 Oct 2008, 10:21a.m. CST



It’s pretty astounding this movie got made.  It’s a movie about a cute rat.  A rat who likes to cook.  But it’s not a kid’s movie.  Not by a long shot.  I don’t remember seeing too much of the press about this film when it came out, so I don’t know whether it got the same kind of broad warning across that Wall-e did about its dubious entertainment value for the short-pants set.  But I would not envy parents who brought young children to this film.

That said, Ratatouille is an heart-warming story with slow pacing and lovely imagery (as above).  The kid-friendly stuff, like the “control the boy by pulling his hair” shtick drags the rest of the film down, whereas the more nuanced development of the boy and the rat characters works pretty well for me.

It’s a shame we don’t have a place in our media landscape for the 45-minute or 60-minute feature movie.  This would have been the perfect length to tell this story.  As it was, the film was 100 minutes or so, and it was just too much.  The plodding pace and extra goofiness detracted from the story, for me.

Worth seeing, but I wouldn’t go too far out of my way if I were you.

I’ll stop posting political stuff after, oh, say early November.

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

More on Open Source and Academia

Ruffin writes:

What I dislike is the way the university continues to place itself between scholarship and the public paying for it. I’m not working in “any other industry”. I’ve worked in a few of those, and I’d prefer to work in a protected space outside of that system, a space that performs as a check and balance on the system that’d rather own my work and run it through a profit maximization machine than share it unconditionally.

I agree.

Inspector Allyn Mysteries: The Nursing Home Murder

Inspector AlleynNot a whole lot to say about this mystery. A classic detective story, with a police detective who rounds folks up, bounces from interview to interview, and stages an elaborate congress at the end to suss out the villain.

Inspector Allyn has a morose face and a morose demeanor, the worst of the stereotyped British starched attitude and aspect. There’s a bit of humor here and there, but it’s extremely dry or centered around one theme (namely, how the desk patrolman in Allyn’s office always makes a snide remark when something happens).

The mystery itself was a bit more interesting this time, mostly because the filmmakers did a good job of weaving a variety of hatreds around the victim without making him out to be too much of a boor. The mix of political motives (the victim was a politician involved in the post-war Palestinian events) and personal ones (he was also a womanizer and a bit of a bastard) kept me guessing about who might have done the deed.

We’ll probably continue to watch the series, but for my dollar, you’re better off with a Midsomer Murders or Mrs. Bradley Mysteries.

Palin and Ms. South Carolina