The Zombiegeddon Fitness Plan: Being the Best You Can Be, in Case of the Zombie Apocalypse

So, I recently got a gym membership.  I’m looking to drop about 40 pounds, and I really needed something to do, so the gym is kind of perfect.  And while losing weight is awesome, and being healthy and fit is great too, I have to admit that in the back of my mind (or maybe somewhere closer to the middle) one of my motivations is definitely Zombiegeddon.  Having been expecting zombies to show up for years now, I have run over so many scenarios, so many times, and one thing is clear – staying alive will not be a cakewalk.  Unfortunately for those of us who are out of shape I think that survival under these circumstances will require a good amount of running, walking, jumping, and hiding in often uncomfortable places (though the backseat of a Volkswagen wouldn’t be a particularly good spot to hide from zombies.  Just FYI.).  Endurance, strength and flexibility will be huge assets, and in fact may mean the difference between life and death. 

Today I started actually working out, getting in shape.  Today I also started my self-training for the Zombie Apocalypse.  There are lots of great reasons to get in shape, and they all factor in to why I decided to pay good money to make myself all sweaty and out of breath.  But perhaps the most entertaining, and the most ridiculously motivating is the possibility that you may need to be in the best shape possible to prevent being eaten alive by zombies.  Think about it.

Pandering to the LCD: For our own good

So, no decision has been made yet as to whether or not the FDA will approve GM salmon for release into our food chain, but I keep waiting for it, and I keep researching the peripheral topics associated with it. The things I keep coming back to are Monsanto (even though they are not the ones who created this salmon), and product labeling. And it’s the labeling which has me all riled up today. I recently read something that said that not only will the FDA not require GMO‘s to be labeled, but they are making it difficult for things to even be labeled as NOT containing GMO’s. Furthermore, one of the things that folks against labeling have cited as a reason for opposing it is that too much labeling only “confuses the consumer”. Wow. I didn’t realize that I was that easily confused. I thought I was doing alright, I manage to get in and out of the grocery store in pretty good time, often even purchasing things that I have had to choose to buy from among a plethora of other things that I could have bought. In fact, considering the ridiculous amount of products and brands that are jammed into our SUPERmarkets, my ability to sift through, find what I need and want to buy, make my way to the checkout, and get the hell out of there, is actually pretty awesome. I think that just maybe my poor decision- addled brain could handle 1 more label to decipher on my food stuffs. You dicks.

Don’t patronize me. Don’t make decisions based entirely on your profit margin and then tell me it is for my own good. Both the FDA and the food companies are worried about their bottom lines, and they are willing to sacrifice our health and our environmental safety in order to make money.

Oh, and also, just FYI, there is a proposal going through the FDA right now for the name of “high fructose corn syrup” to be renamed “corn sugar”.  The name change will not reflect any nutritional change, it is only to “clarify” for consumers what they are eating, and also to escape the bad name that HFCS has gotten in the past few decades.  If the ingestion of refined sugar concerns you, be on the lookout for this to possibly be enacted in the future.

The Nightmare on Elm Street remake: surprisingly encouraging

Sometimes I get the nagging feeling that the reason that I like so few new horror movies is because I am determined to do so.  It’s disturbing because it makes me doubt my own tastes.  And it would be easy to see why a self-fulfilling prophesy could be at work in my brain – after all, I have trouble remembering the last newer horror film that I truly liked, and I am adamantly, or even ferociously against almost all of them, especially remakes of classic films.  But today I can breathe easy, assured finally that I am not just a hater, that my tastes are simply uncompromising.

Not surprisingly I went into watching the Nightmare on Elm Street remake expecting to hate it.  Mostly I just wanted to be able to rip on it educatedly and that’s why I watched it (also I was pretty bored).  But about 20 minutes into the movie I realized with some shock that I wasn’t exasperated, or nauseated, or having to restrain myself from turning it off.  This is because the new Nightmare on Elm Street isn’t half bad.  It definitely resembles the original, however it does manage to be its own film.  The balance here between paying homage to the first one, and adding to the story and making it fresh is admirable.

Among the major differences is the tone – this movie is a lot less “fun”, more serious than the original.  This is especially apparent when it comes to the star of the show, Mr. Freddy Kruger.  In the original series he was a deadly jokester – just as likely to throw a quip at you than a hand full of knives – and I’ll admit that even as a kid this kind of took the edge off his scariness.  The newly imagined Freddy Kruger is, like the whole movie, darker, more serious, and at least a bit more scary.  He is also taken to task for his original trespasses (those that resulted in his becoming the dreamland murderer that we all know) – child molestation.  The original left it pretty much alone, focusing instead on Freddy’s proclivity for murder, but it is given a more focused role in this film, which adds to Kruger’s new, more disturbing and ultimately less likeable persona.

The level of violence and gore are also amped up, though not to any ridiculous degree.  I expected the sex and language to also be  increased upon, though I was happily surprised to be wrong on this count as well.   Much of the pandering and gratuitousness of modern horror movies is missing from this one, and I have to say it makes me very happy.

Was this a great film?  No, it was nothing mind-blowing, just a remake of an 80’s horror film.  But it was good; hell, I would watch this movie again.  And while this may strike some a prosaic designation, if one takes into consideration how few new horror movies get anywhere near to being described so positively by me, it would become clear that this is high praise indeed.

The Arrested Development movie: why we should all just let it go

I love Arrested Development.  I think it is the funniest, smartest sitcom that has been on television.  I signed both petitions when Fox was trying to take it off the air, and to this day I resent that it was canceled after only 3 short seasons.  I am forever quoting lines from it, so much so that I sometimes don’t even realize that I’m doing it.  I’ve watched all 3 seasons more times than I can count.  I love it, I miss it, and I probably always will.

It launched the career of the very talented Michael Cera, brought Jason Bateman back onto the scene, and, well, the whole damn cast is just so talented and awesome.

And it is because I love it so much that I think that the plans for making an Arrested Development movie should be forever canceled.  Four years have elapsed since the show was canceled and talk of the movie still lingers on the web.  Initially I was pulling for it, waiting for it, hoping for it.  But as time has gone by I’ve grown up, gained wisdom and I now think that if you love something, you should let it go.  The fact is that the movie could suck, in spite of the good intentions and massive talent of all involved – it could suck, hard (think of the sadly disappointing X-Files: I Want to Believe).  And if it did in fact suck – I don’t think I could handle it.  I runs the risk of tainting 3 brilliant seasons of on point comedy genius.

We have to let it go.  Keep watching the DVD’s, keep appreciating it, and keep hoping that TV comedy someday gets even close to that kind of greatness again.  Fox should forever feel like they’ve “made a huge mistake”, and we should be left to mourn our loss and revel in lost genius in peace.

Stuff that annoys me: Unrated DVD releases

Ok, so we have the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), and they are in charge of rating the movies that are released in this country.  Most of us are familiar with the ratings system and so we know what to expect when we see a particular rating associated with a film.  And if you are watching a movie in the theater this is a fairly reliable indicator of things to expect, so that it is possible to relatively accurately decide if the content is appropriate for you and/or your family.  So far, so good.  The problem (and the bit that annoys me) comes when a film is released to DVD.  Unless you live under a rock (or are seriously not in the market for DVD’s) you’ve probably noticed the growing trend of “Unrated” DVD releases; in many cases the fact that the film is unrated is actually emphasised as a selling point.  Myself I have trouble finding non-unrated DVD’s as of late.

It used to be that “special features” were not subject to rating, and it would be noted as such on the DVD cover.  So you could expect things like commentaries, outtakes, and “making of” documentaries to possibly contain things not fitting with the rating of the actual film.  Within the last few years however the trend has been for the movie itself to be released with deleted scenes (scenes not included in the theater release) which are also unrated.  So that, not only are you not getting the movie that you may have seen in theaters and enjoyed, but you are also getting a movie that potentially includes content that could take a movie rated PG-13 to an R, or an R to an NC-17, and so on.  This usually includes added sex, language, drug use, violence, and gore.

Ok, so, I’m not a prude – really, I’m not.  I’ve heard the argument that the “Unrated” editions allow the filmmakers to retain the “artistic integrity” of their movies, which may have been undermined by editing required to achieve a certain rating from the MPAA.  Ok, that would be a good argument – if that was the case, but most of the time I don’t think it is – I think it’s bullshit. 

First of all, many films lack artistic integrity to begin with.  Second of all, all of the unrated versions of movies that I’ve seen haven’t benefited at all from the additional content – in fact they usually suffer.  I mean really – do more tits and ass, more profanity, or more violence ever really make a movie better?  I know some folks might argue with me, but I think that by and large – no they do not.

I think that the marketing folks are trying to make a buck at the expense of films and audiences.

I also think that it is unwise to require ratings for movies shown in theaters (where box office attendants make sure that people underage can’t get in without a parent), but allow unrated content to be bought practically anywhere films are sold and brought home.  I mean – why have a ratings system at all if that’s what’s going to happen?  Then you have all that added content just sitting there, in your living room, waiting to be seen by (little) people who should not.

Ok – yes it is the parents job to say what their children can and cannot see, but why even put this stuff out there?  And I don’t believe that violence in entertainment causes violence in real life, but I think that denying its role in the violencization ( I think maybe I made that word up) and overall degradation of todays youth culture would be naive.  So, if it’s not adding “integrity” to films, and it’s bypassing and ultimately undermining our already stressed ratings system, then why the hell does this go on?  It just pisses me off.

Zombies Everywhere! .11

Ok, so you may be asking yourself how my new-found friend didn’t know about the zombie apocalypse.  Well this comes down to assumptions that popular zombie culture have bred in many people.  In the movies there are always zombies everywhere – kinda hard to miss.  Or, there is a news program on that tells you what is happening.  Or the lead character wakes up from a coma and everything is already in full swing.  My point is that in fictionalized accounts of this sort of thing exposition and the need to move the plot along leads to things being taken for granted, and to things happening conveniently because that’s the easiest way to do things.  But when it is really happening, as with the rest of life, things are not so simple.

For instance, depending on what is the cause of zombieism, the condition might spread rapidly, might not.  In this case, I can’t tell you for sure what caused the zombies.  I never saw a news report about it, or stumbled into some secret government lab containing conveniently laid out explanatory documents that shed light on the matter (or at least I haven’t yet 🙂 ).  I have theories, of course, most everyone I’ve met has theories.

From what I can tell this plague started out slowly, probably taking at least a day or two to pick up speed.  I think that at the time I took notice it was at some kind of mid-stage.  It seems to travel like a virus, transmitted through bodily fluids.  However it also seems to afflict the dead, whether or not the person had been infected whilst living.  I’ve personally seen a previously uninfected dead guy get up and walk around with no apparent provocation.  Due to this I believe that the cause is pathogenic – viral or possibly fungal.  I’m not a doctor or a scientist of any sort, but, like I said, everyone has a theory.

My slightly confused hero lived further out into the country than I did, so it’s not so surprising that he was unaware that the world was falling into zombie-induced chaos.  It took a lot of folks by surprise.  And unfortunately the element of surprise is a hell of a great advantage.

‘Blue Bloods’ Tom Sellack’s new procedural

I love Tom Selleck.  I have since I was little; one of my first remembered TV watching experiences is of Magnum P.I., which I still watch to this day.  I’ve seen some of his movies, and some of his subsequent television work (Las Vegas, the Jesse Stone TV movies), and I’ve always been impressed.  I was very excited to hear about Blue Bloods, and have been anticipating it for months.  It had a lot to live up to, being produced by the creative team behind The Sopranos, and in spite of my fondness for Selleck, I admit that I was apprehensive that it would suck, like so many other shows unfortunately do.  Well, I finally got to see it and I have to say that I was not disappointed.

Yes, it’s a pretty basic police procedural, however it doesn’t feel stale, and is not overly predictable.  It also boasts a nice ensemble cast (including Donnie Wahlberg, who always manages to be compelling). I don’t believe it is possible to truly get an accurate feel for a show based on its pilot (in my experience the pilot tends to be one of the worst episodes).  The pressure of introducing an entire cast, setting, and circumstances usually leads to lots of exposition and consequently overburdened dialogue (which often leads even good actors to somewhat choppy delivery).  And the pilot of Blue Bloods is not without these weak points.  However I still think that it is a strong show with a strong premise.  Police procedurals are hugely popular, and this one, with its side focus on this particular family of cops (and one district attorney) seems like a winner.  I am now waiting to see some more episodes to back up my initial reaction, but I have little doubt that this series will only get better as the season goes along.  Blue Bloods airs on Fridays at 10/9c on CBS.