Urban (mis)Advantures

The Zombies Are Here…. — June 22, 2014

The Zombies Are Here….

Undead War


The Zombie Apocalypse is upon us!

Dead Guns Press has unleashed a collection of zombie tales,

featuring my short story


published under my pen name, Kameryn James.

Availabe from Amazon.

“May Day World” is based upon an extremely vivid dream I had a in 2012 about the zombie apocalypse and how it changed my family.
Here is an excerpt from the beginning:

     Many months have passed since the husband, Liam, and I had a shouting match, for such noise attracts Them.  And They bring death, or something like it. Our last argument was shortly after the bombs left craters on the western seaboard, instantly killing an unmeasurable amount of people and filling the air with devastatingly powerful toxins. We were both in such shock, and I was providing crisis counseling to many people who lost relatives, and we took our stress and anxiety out on each other.
   Little did we know that the bombs were only the beginning.

So if you would like to add zombies to your summer, don’t miss out on The Undead War!  Maybe we’ll all learn a few new survival tips!

World War Z — June 22, 2013

World War Z


Zombie fans united this weekend at movie theatres to witness a depiction of the entire world at war with the undead. Based on Max Brooks brutally intriguing novel of the same title, “World War Z” is not your typical zombie film. 

If you want missing body parts, blood spatters and intestines hanging out, watch AMC’s The Walking Dead, or any of the newer George Romero movies. For the WWZ movie is mostly void of the gruesomely detailed walking corpses or attacks as Brooks so masterfully writes in the novel.  

But the film is packed with soldiers calling the zombies “Zekes,” shooting at them, and putting their lives on the line to save their country men.  Bombs, including nuclear, fall. People panic and scream and fall prey to the infected and entire cities are lost as millions (possibly billions) of people turn.  And these bad boys and girls don’t stumble around stupidly and aimlessly.  These zombie biznaches run, climb stairs, leap, and even parkour throughout streets, building tops, and over obstacles. They pile on top of each other like ants, scaling buildings and walls. And these zombies are intelligent. 

Viewers who have read the book will also find Patient Zero, a kick-ass female soldier, and most importantly, the horrid, radical, and seemingly irrational decisions that salvage human kind. Well, most of human kind anyway. And this last idea is what I believe is the premise of the novel. 

If you are interested in seeing the movie, but have not read the book, don’t read it yet.  Just go enjoy the film. Then pick up Max Brooks’ World War Z at your local library or book store.  If you have read the novel and haven’t seen the film, be prepared that the film creators basically put Brooks’ idea on the big screen. Don’t compare it to the book. 

And good luck surviving this version of  the Zombie Apocalypse.

“CPR makes you undead….” — October 6, 2012

“CPR makes you undead….”

CPR is something everyone should know and can truthfully save a life.  You never know when you are going to need it: work, home, dining at a restaurant, stuck in traffic, or during a zombie apocalypse.  Even if you have succumbed to the virus and joined the ranks of the walking dead, as this video shows:

CPR makes you undead.

Very creative way to encourage people to learn a needed skill, just in time for Halloween.  Wonder what they have for Christmas?

A Beautiful Moment in Evans City. — July 26, 2012

A Beautiful Moment in Evans City.

My most recent Urban Adventure took me to about thirty-five miles north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to a quaint town called Evans City.  I was in Pittsburgh for a wedding and wanted to do some sight-seeing.  Now, I know there’s plenty to see in Pittsburgh the Andy Warhol Museum, the Toonseum, and the double decker bus tours.  But I was more interested in spending time with family and being the colossal dork that I am, I wanted to visit a certain cemetery.

My nephew, his family, and my son made the short yet lovely drive North to visit this famous graveyard.  It is not Arlington, nor does it hold any famous people.  But Evans City Cemetery is the spot where the first cinematic flesh-eating zombie stumbled down the peaceful graveyard and terrorized a brother and sister.  It is the place where these eerie words were uttered:

“They’re coming to get you, Barbara.”

Yes, Evans City Cemetery is where the opening scene to Night of the Living Dead was filmed.

Upon reaching Franklin Road, my nephew calls and states he’s pretty sure we are on the right track.  And we both see the wooden sign.  I squealed like a girl at a Justin Beiber concert, “Omigosh, we’re here!”  With this exclamation, I awakened my son, who napped in the passenger seat.  I eased the rented car up the dirt road and immediately stopped at the famed chapel, which is the first recognizable image from the movie.  Barbara and her brother, Johnny, parked their car in front it.  The groundskeeper is parked near there an I asked him, completely knowing the answer, if this is the “old chapel.”  He did not seem to mind me holding a camera and wanting to walk calmly around the cemetery.

The chapel has aged quite a bit over the past forty-plus years, and is actually in danger of being torn down, as it is falling down as one can see in this picture.

Don’t want to see this historic chapel destroyed?
Visit FixtheChapel.com and donate!

Our stroll around the cemetery on this hot day took us by other spots used in the film.  The tall monument with the ball on top is clearly visible in the scene where the first ghoul stumbles towards Johnny and Barbara.

Here is the approximate spot where Johnny meets his demise after struggling with the zombie.

We also stood by the famed “Blair” tombstone, where Johnny teased his sister by telling her they were coming to get her.  This tombstone is just down the dirt road across from the chapel.   This last pic was shot in the area where Barbara fell and lost her shoe.  Yet there is a grave on the exact spot, so if you visit, show some respect and don’t go stomping all over the final resting place.

Evans City Cemetery is a peaceful and beautifully well-kept place of burial.  There are no signs pointing out that it is where an entire genre took its first steps.  And that is a huge part of what made this experience so wonderfully enjoyable and personal.

I’d like to thank Tom G. for his article on Dark Destinations, which specifically points out areas in the cemetery that are featured in Living Dead.  And I hope to hear that Evans City received enough money to renovate the chapel by October!

A Beautiful Living Dead Moment…. — July 2, 2012

A Beautiful Living Dead Moment….

For a time which quantity I cannot remember, I’ve rummaged through bargain bins of DVD’s in search of a certain 40 + year-old movie.  These hunts always ended with empty hands.  Every holiday, again I search the DVD’s on sale.  Every Halloween, I think “there has to be copies of it on display now!”  Nope.  Finally last year, I went to For Your Entertainment and asked if they sold copies of it because they have everything in stock.
“We have it on Blu-Ray.”
I have not made that technological jump yet.
It’s not that I don’t believe this masterpiece deserves me paying a full price.  It’s that I simply cannot afford it right now.

I’m talking about George A. Romero’s classic horror film, Night of the Living Dead, independently filmed and released in 1968 on 35 mm black and white film.
My appreciation for this movie began when viewing Night on cable television as a teen-ager.  During this time, the cable networks thought it was a great idea to colorize the classics.  Well, this does NOT work for horror films.  The shadows, drear, and dread disappear when fake colors are added.  So I patiently waited a few days until a network aired it in black and white around Halloween time.
That night, I lay on my bed, gripping my pillow and refusing to take my wide-eyed gaze off the screen.  Barbara watched in helpless terror when her brother was attacked by a walking corpse in a cemetery.  Strangers sealed themselves in a farmhouse, hoping to ward off flesh-eating zombies.  And *gasp* sweet little Karen (portrayed by an eleven year old) dined on her own father and killed her mother with a masonry spade.  To me, this whole idea was terrifying:  the dead coming back to life as soul-less beings, with no purpose but to consume the living; walling oneself in a house and with few options for survival; a child falling prey to the monsters and then killing her parents.  Mr. Romero appeared to spare nothing when it came to scaring the living daylights out of people.
And these concepts have survived near four and a half decades, spanned generations, and crossed into many medias: movies, video games, television, books, graphic novels, and music.  With no pun intended, the zombie genre is alive now more than ever.

So, back to my beautiful moment.
This weekend, I took the Boy and a couple of friends to the mall so we can get some air-conditioning.  We parted ways for a bit and agreed to meet back in Target.  But they were not there.  Hmmmmm, where would three video game playing, music loving, graphic novel/comic book reading teen-aged boys go?
Newbury Comics.  Right beside Target.  Of course.

The boys spot me immediately, and two of them head my way.  Upon turning to call for the third one, I see it standing on a low shelf, the cover printed over a gravestone background.  Could it be?  Is this finally happeneing?  Everything vanished out of view as I honed in on it.

Millennium Edition
George A. Romero’s
The Original Classic

After years of searching for them, The Living Dead found me at a completely unexpected moment.  I love you, Newbury Comics.

“Wait!  I’ll be just a few minutes!” I call to the boys as I scoop the DVD from its place, leaving a blank spot.  Ah, the last copy, at least on this shelf.   My son’s friends arch eyebrows in confusion when seeing someone my age dash into Newbury Comics.  But I did not care.  In addition to getting hard-to-find movie, music, and TV show memorabilia, I’ve discovered great bargains at the comic store in the past.
Instead of blabbing about how I’ve been searching for this DVD like a long-lost relative, I made small talk with the Newbury employee at the register, typically dressed in punk gear and her hair dyed orange and yellow.
On they way home, with three boys gawking over a Batman book, I realized this will be my second “staycation” within a year that I’m spending time with Mr. Romero and zombies.

Let’s set the record straight about Zombies. — June 23, 2012

Let’s set the record straight about Zombies.

The Miami “Zombie” attack and a couple of others in the South have made news lately.  Most of us have heard the horrific story of a drugged out man, eating the face of a homeless man in Florida.  Since then, another man under the influence bit a police officer and threatened to eat him.  Another high man needed police intervention in Louisiana when he bit a chunk out of someone’s face.

And the media are calling these “zombie” attacks to draw attention.  Well, it works.

But these aren’t zombies, people.  They may be cannibals.  And they are certainly drugged out of their minds.  But they are not zombies.  There are different types of zombies, and even Webster’s dictionary offers a definition that I completely disagree with.  Yes, I am taking on Webster.  Allow me to make my point.

First of all, this is a zombie:

Image from AMC’s The Walking Dead

Notice the rotting flesh, the deep sunk eye sockets, and milky eye color.  Notice that this is a dead person walking about.  This fits one definition of a zombie: “the body of a dead person given the semblance of life, but mute and will-less, by a supernatural force, usually for some evil purpose.”  This is the “reanimated corpse” zombie type.  There are stories of a zombie curse that slows the heart rate and breathing down, rendering the victim in a mute and obedient state.  This supernatural type of zombie was around way before our flesh-eating Walking Dead friend here.

Popular modern fiction has made the “reanimated corpse” into a disease carrying flesh eater.  The disease is usually spread by a bite or blood contact from the infected zombie, carrying a man-made or radioactive virus.
Secondly there is a zombie drink, and no it is not the virus, but a cocktail.  The “Zombie” is made of several rums mixed with citrus juice and often with apricot liqueur.  Chelmsford’s Hong and Kong restaurant makes a Zombie cocktail that renders one quite clumsy with the chopsticks and fried rice.  In fact, the cocktail menu advertises that you will “join the ranks” of the walking dead with one.
Apparently, Zombi is a deity worshipped in some West African and Haitian religions.
So, Webster also defines a “zombie” as a “person who has a strange appearance or behavior.”  Another source states it as “a person whose behavior or responses are wooden, listless, or seemingly rote; automaton; or an eccentric or peculiar person.”  And this is the definition I disagree with.  Why?  Well, what is “peculiar,” “eccentric,” or “strange?”  Who defines that?  As a mental health therapist, I see most “normal” behaviors as “peculiar,” such as people willing to sit in traffic for two hours each morning and evening to commute to work.  My muscle relaxer causes me to slouch, blink slowly, and drag my feet when walking about, which is “peculiar.”  There are times when most humans will behave strangely.  If this is the case, then we are all “zombies” and the so-called Zombie Apocalypse has already happened.  And none of us seemed to have survived it.  What a lame apocalypse…..
And the Award for “Best Cameo” Goes To…. — June 5, 2012

And the Award for “Best Cameo” Goes To….

The MTV Movie Awards rolled out this past weekend, which I did not watch this year because we do not have cable.  But this is the movie award show I truthfully enjoy watching because it celebrates movies people actually watch.  Another reason I dig the MTV Movie awards is the categories:  Best Fight Scene, Best Hero, Best Dirtbag.  But I’d like to propose my own category, along with my winners:  Best Cameo Appearances.

The Cast of “Dawson’s Creek” in Muppets From Space (1999) :
The Muppet Movies are riddled with great cameos, from Brook Shields to Jim Parsons.  But one of my faves is when the cast of teen drama “Dawson’s Creek” waited in the fields for the alien arrival.  The piece included a young Katie Holmes and Joshua Jackson (of Fox’s Fringe fame).

Whoopi Goldberg, The Little Rascals, 1994.
A dread-locked Buckwheat skips along just before the big soap box car race.  He smiles and points into the audience, seated in the bleachers.
“Look, there’s my Mom!”  And Whoopi Goldberg smiles are waves back.  Sweet.

Kathy Bates in Stephen King’s The Stand (1994): 
As the Super Flu plagued humanity and thousands dropped dead, disc jockey Rae Flowers (played by Bates) ran a radio station all by herself for a day.  Yet her views of the flu cost her her life, which was shockingly aired on her radio show….

Pegg (left) and Wright. By the way, in case of zombie apocalypse, I would so get my Picture With a Zombie….

Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright, George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead (2005): Around the time  of Pegg’s performance in the amazingly funny  in Shawn of the Dead, he and his friend, Edgar, were zombified for Romero’s fourth installment of his legendary franchise.  Simon and Edgar played “photo booth zombies,” where people could get their pictures taken with a pair of zombies securely chained out of harm’s way.

Timothy Olyphant voice over in Rango (2011):
A pet tropical lizard gets lost in the dry American west.  The poncho wearing Spirit of the West, gruffly and mysteriously voiced by Mr. Olyphant, guides him.  Hey, animated films can have cameos also.

Keith Richards in Pirates of the Caribbean, At World’s End (2007): Our favorite pirates gathered at the Brethren Court, and Captain Teague (Richards) made sure no one broke the pirate code.

Christopher Knight and Florence Henderson in The Brady Bunch Movie (1995):
What Generation X kid did not love the Brady Bunch?  Peter, played by Knight, was my favorite Brady.  Knight appeared as a teacher in a cafeteria, getting onto one of the newer Brady Boys.  And Grandma Brady visited the family at the end of the movie.  Who better to play her, than Mrs. Brady herself, Florence Henderson.

Image from All Movie Photos.

  Dr. Phil and Shaquille O’Neal, Scary Movie 4 (2006): This is my absolute favorite opening in the Scary Movie franchise.  Dr. Phil cuts off the wrong foot and admits he’s not a real doctor.  Shaq misses a shot.  Dr. Phil drops the “mother” of all curse words.

Although I did not rank the above cameos, I did save the best one for last.  Ladies and gentlemen, I present
Bill Murray as himself in Zombieland (2009):

Tallahassee, Columbus and the girls need a safe place to crash on their way to Pacific Playland as zombies have taken over America.  Tallahassee (portrayed by Woody Harrelson) drives them to Bill Murray’s mansion, where they drink wine, practice shooting, and play a scene from Ghostbusters.  In this photo, Murray shows the few survivors how to make themselves up like zombies in order to walk around with the Dead.  For those who have not seen the film, I will NOT spoil the moment that makes this the Greatest Cameo Ever.

Supposedly, Stephen King appears in every film that was based on his books.  Also, master of suspense and horror, Alfred Hitchcock, has cameos in all of his films.