Blog Archives

I Watched the World War Z Trailer. I Would Like to Take a Moment to Rage Incoherently.

Nice haircut.

Side note: yes, I know I’m a week late on The Walking Dead Episode 3. I just finished watching it this morning since I was busy last week. Plus the events of Episode 4 were surprisingly spoiled by close to a dozen people on Facebook within hours of it being shown, leaving me ambivalent for the moment. I’ll get to them. Promise. Here’s a heapin’ helpin’ of rage to tide you over.

World War Z is a book. It’s a zombie book. It was written by Max Brooks, son of Mel, who also wrote The Zombie Survival Guide. Both of them are considered essential reading by zombie aficionados for very good reasons. They are smart, well-written, and funny while treating their subject matter seriously. They are near and dear to my heart, as they are to many. Upon finishing my first zombie novel, The Curse of Troius, my dear friend and sadly passed Carl Spicer declared simply, “I’ve only read one good zombie novel, and that was World War Z.” (Sorry Carl, you know I can’t resist telling people that even though you tried to explain what you meant. It’s too good a line. Miss you, bud.) Max Brooks’ books are the literary equivalent to Romero’s cinematic influences on the entire zombie genre.

What makes World War Z special for me and many others is its story structure. Instead of focusing on a particular protagonist, the story is presented as one-on-one interviews with a wide range of people who were involved in the zombie war that ended ten years prior to the story. This allows the tale of the war to spin out in little vignettes, from its ostensible beginnings in China to its spread throughout the world and eventual conclusion, as told by the eyewitnesses to the events. The different stories highlight bravery and cowardice, self-sacrifice and self-promotion, agony and joy and despair and hope and everything in between. The eyewitnesses are neither good nor bad; they’re people, some more sympathetic than others. Reading through the novel provides the best of both worlds: the epic saga of man’s battle against the shambling hordes of the infected dead as a whole, and the harrowing and humanizing tales of the individuals swept up in it all. It is a remarkable book. If you’ve never read it, buy it here. It will not disappoint.

Read the rest of this entry

Dear Aravan: Your Questions, Answered

One of the best parts about having a blog is getting to see how people end up there. On a daily basis, I know how many people reached here by clicking a link on Facebook or Twitter or a different website, but the absolute best section is the Search Terms section. This tells you the weird and wonderful things people have typed into Google and somehow ended up on your site. Some things, like “bob harper” searches, are a natural fit with the blog and so it’s no surprise to get 400 or more varieties of searches in that vein in a 3 month period. Those things are fit perfectly.

It’s the other stuff that I love, though. The things that just don’t seem to be a natural fit whatsoever. They are the absolute best.

So I got an idea: why not take these bizarre and incongruous searches and turn them into a Question and Answer format, along with my most frequent searches? And when I say I “got” the idea, I mean I stole it, completely and unabashedly, from the awesome Candice Bundy. If you like dry humor with a twisting edge (and if you don’t, then what the fuck are you reading this for, anyway?), then you need to read her stuff. She’s even cool in person! (We’ve met, you see. We discussed writing in a bon vivant manner with our devil-may-care attitudes and poignant bon mots and bonded over a rational fear of scuba diving. Also, I was very drunk and may have just been shouting quotes from Revenge of the Nerds all night while she patiently put up with me.) So, here are the questions that you, the world, have asked me, and I will answer them as best I can.

Read the rest of this entry

By Popular Demand: The Aravan Guide to Parenting

God I fucking hate kids.

A few weeks back, I provided some really awful parenting advice as part of my series about weight loss (sample: “Show your kids the back of your hand”). I included the caveat that no one should listen to any of my advice about anything ever, but then a weird thing happened. People, people with children, people with actual living human beings under their care and guidance, thought that I should write the parenting guide I’d jokingly referred to.

Well, OK. Let’s do this thing.

Because why the hell not? I’m a parenting expert, because I don’t have any squealing little brats that I constantly coddle and gloss over the sociopathic and demented shit they do. I mean, I was a kid once, I HAD parents, so I’m as much an expert as the next guy. I can see the forest for the trees and all that shit. Actually, I’m probably more qualified to be an expert in bee-eating than parenting, but whatever. As long as you don’t actually listen to a single thing I say ever, you’ll do fine.

Read the rest of this entry

Bye, DaleFace: Walking Dead S2 Episode 11 Review

Can't beat my, can't beat my, no you can't beat-a my DaleFace.

I’ve begun the laborious process of catching up on past Walking Dead episodes. It’s harder than I thought it would be, and this episode is a perfect encapsulation of why that is the case. I think this show is coming down with a serious case of Heroes syndrome: a strong start followed by a realization that the writers have no idea what they want to do.

But anyway, when last we followed this group of absentee parents who nevertheless think it’s best to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, Shane and Rick were going to try to leave the kid Rick rescued, patched up, and decided he couldn’t live with, after which the two got into a brawl that nearly got them all killed, all of which could have been avoided if Rick had just let Shane kill the kid. Rick, however, insists on it being his choice and that he has to sleep on it.

So, of course, the show begins with Rick deciding the kid needs to die. Sigh.

Read the rest of this entry

Now With 30% Less Hate! Walking Dead S2 Ep9 Review

"Kill them, Rick. Kill them all. For me. And Shane's, I mean your, your baby."

When last we saw the world’s most dysfunctional zombie apocalypse survivors, Rick had just blown away two guys from Philly for having the audacity to ask where the group was staying, Lori was suffering from brain damage before she actually suffered head trauma from a car accident, and some blond girl that hardly had any airtime at all before now was catatonic. Is this the week where our prayers our answered and Lori gets eaten, Carl tries to find her and gets eaten, Dale looks for the two of them and gets eaten, and the audience lives happily ever after?

Well, no, not so much. But I do have a confession to make. This episode didn’t make me angry. Not once. I know, right? Crazy. Well, OK, I did get angry once, but that was when they showed the car wreck from last episode, which is still just awful in every way. But other than that, I didn’t hate it. Did it have issues? A couple, but they were minor. Instead, we had a mostly plausible story, maybe for the first time since the first season. So put away your Haterade, pick up a gun, and follow along with our intrepid band of somewhat-less-stupid-than-normal survivors.

Read the rest of this entry

Hey, I’ve Got a Great Plan: Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 2

OK. I was very hopeful after the first episode that things in Walking Dead Land would get better. In truth, I did like this episode more overall than the first, but it still had some pretty glaring problems. And for the record, I didn’t read the comic books this series is based on, so if they’re following the books to the letter (which they aren’t) and you want to say that the things they are depicting happened in the comic books, that’s fine. It doesn’t make the story problems magically go away. But anyway.

The episode starts with a flashback. Why, I’m not sure, since the flashback told us things that we already knew: Grimes gets shot, his partner the Ma-Shane tells his wife, who then tells her kid. We never saw it happen, but it seemed reasonable to assume that it would happen roughly along those lines. Maybe they thought we forgot he was shot and in a coma despite being reminded of it every single time Shane and that harpy of a wife have a conversation. Maybe they wanted to illustrate how difficult and heart-wrenching it is to be told that a family member you love has been shot, which I think most people probably would intuitively understand. Or perhaps they wanted to show that Shane wanted to bang his buddy’s wife and Rick and the harridan were having marital problems before he was shot, but the fact that the two started humping pretty quickly also does a good job of suggesting that perhaps there was some sort of attraction there. Most likely, I think the writers felt they needed a huge sign that says LOOK AT THE JUXTAPOSITION AND ROLE REVERSAL HERE! because they believe the average television viewer is dumb as fuck.

Read the rest of this entry

My Thoughts on The Walking Dead, Season 2 Episode 1

I don’t know if I’ll do this for every episode of the AMC series, but I had enough thoughts about the first episode that I figured I’d babble on about them. At least I think I have enough thoughts. It’s really early and I’m tired so maybe I just have one thought bouncing in my head and it’s I LIKE CHEESE and this post will end up moldering in the Drafts area for a few months before it gets thrown out like a 7-year-old box of baking soda that hangs out in the fridge for some nebulous reason like “fighting odor” when I’m not really sure what odors there are to combat in a refrigerator but ANYWAY.

So, Walking Dead is back. I watched it last night. As a writer who spends an inordinate amount of time writing zombie stories, most people assume that I love reading about zombies and watching zombie movies and going to zombie dress-up events and all that stuff. I’ve got a secret. I actually don’t. Yes, I love every George Romero zombie film there is, even the ones no one else does. I love the Resident Evil movies, but that is also due to the Milla Jojovich factor, the actress that I have a free pass for from my wife for when we meet (right, honey? Honey? It was a joke! Honey? /grumble /makes couch into bed). I love Max Brooks’ zombie novels (and cringe when I think what Brad Pitt is going to do to World War Z. Just when I started to respect him as an actor and whatnot.). And honestly? That’s about it. There’s a couple throwaways like Planet of the Dead that I enjoy as well, but there is an awful lot that I don’t really care for in the slightest.

Read the rest of this entry

5 Things About LARPs and Hurricanes and Assorted Other Stuff

1. I played in a LARP two weekends ago. It was a different kind of game than ones I’d done in the past. The game is set in post-apocalyptic America where most of the population is either dead or Infected – like the “zombies” in 28 Days Later, fast and angry – and you are trying to get by and survive along with a group of other would-be survivors. It took place on a campground that had a replica ship, castle, and fort on the land, all of which were incorporated into the game as actual locations to explore and fight in. Combat was simulated using Airsoft weapons from pistols to shotguns to assault rifles along with “boffer” weapons – essentially replica weapons made with PVC and foam padding so it doesn’t hurt when you accidentally closeline someone.

I had a fucking blast.

Read the rest of this entry

Foodies, and Why I Hate Them

Yes.  I am aware of the fact that I just spent a week discussing my trip to a small farm to learn how to make raw milk cheese.  I am also aware that I went to that farm because I saw it on a foodie show.  You might think it makes me a hypocrite.  I contend that it does not.  I am not a foodie.  I love food.  But I am not a foodie.  Foodies are those pretentious guttersnots moaning about how wonderful offal is and discuss how they are going to get their Parisian cheese flown in.  I hate those people.

I just read this article in the Atlantic about foodies.  Go ahead and read it.  You will understand the people I mean.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait. Read the rest of this entry

And Now, A Brief Break Between Riveting Stories About Farms

This post is not a nice place to be.  Strong language, violence, and adult themes are present.  Reader discretion is advised.

Some people just set me off.  Being in contact with them makes me daydream of taking my freshly-poured hot tea, throwing it in their face, and reveling in their screams just before pummeling them into small bite-size pieces.  Just having them swish into my eye-line can evoke a murderous rage.  Actually being forced to speak with them is enough to spark the primal urge to SMASH.

Whew.  That needed to be let out. Read the rest of this entry