For Halloween Let These Zombie Books Eat Your Brains

Just in time for Halloween – my post for work on my favorite zombie books. Feel free to add yours in the comments. I’m always looking for good xombie books to read.

CHAPTER CHATS

Black and white photo of an overpass with the Empire State Building int the background and dark clouds overhead.

by Alan S.

The haunting times are almost here – get in a spooky mood with some of my favorite zombie books.

Zone One by Colson Whitehead (also available in ebook) – If you like your monsters a little more literary, you should start here. Mark Spitz is an uninfected worker assigned to clear Zone One (in Manhattan) of the infected. The book spans three days of work and includes flashbacks of how Mark survived the zombie apocalypse and the reason for his nickname.

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion – I have always said that zombies were my favorite monster because you could in no way make them romantic. Marion proves me wrong with Warm Bodies. He tells the story of R, a zombie living in an abandoned airport who falls in love with a human girl name Julie after eating the brain of her boyfriend. I thought…

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What’s Good in Tater Town 10/25/20

Another week of dealing with all the stuff I’ve mentioned over and over again. Lather, rinse, repeat. Let’s find the good.

  1. Ravens football on Sunday afternoon.
  2. Dinner with my son.
  3. Nice weather all week.
  4. I took Wednesday off due to a morning and an afternoon appointment.
  5. The morning appointment was canceled so I had most of the day off to relax.
  6. More new TV this week.
  7. Virtual pub quiz Thursday night.
  8. One last nice weather day Saturday to get yard work done.
  9. Kentucky football game was bad, but gave me an excuse to sit in the couch and watch football.

That’s all I can think of right now. No Ravens game today and it’s raining all day. Sounds like a good day to sit on the couch and read whole random football games are on TV.

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Shut Up and Do Something

I saw a post on Facebook today about this being National Bullying Prevention Month and asked how we thought our schools are doing with combatting bullying. I wrote this post back when my son was in high school. His school made the news for having a big anti bully rally with famous people yet did no actual work in stopping it from happening. I hope it is better these days. Still everyone does need to shut up and do something.

My rant of today involves a growing trend I see of people talking a lot, but not really doing anything.

Yesterday I read this article –http://www.hometownannapolis.com/news/top/2012/03/18-25/Tale-of-bullying-at-Arundel-High.html?ne=1 about bullying at my son’s school. In this case, the girl went to the administrators and absolutely nothing was done. This is the same school where a few years ago a boy was being bullied, nothing was done, the parents pulled him out of the school and he was later beat to death on the street by other teens. This is also the same school that earlier in the year made the news because they held a big anti-bullying rally featuring people from Facebook and the Cartoon Network.  Obviously, the rally was nothing more than a smoke screen to hide the fact that what is really happening is that reported bullying is swept under the rug and kept quiet to make the school look better.  The goal is to talk big about cracking down on bullying so that people think it is really being done. My message to the administrators – if you really want to help the kids at your school and you really want to change the culture Shut Up and Do Something.

This message also goes out to those in the religious world who talk and talk about love and acceptance and all of that good stuff but then practice hate and intolerance and a lot of bad stuff. I don’t believe the message in the Bible is “talk about loving your neighbor” or “talk about doing for the least of these”. I also don’t recall a but or an except in any of these passage as well. Love is an action. Love takes work. Instead of talking about “what would Jesus do” maybe we can start actually doing what Jesus did. In tater speak that means -Shut Up and Do Something.

I could go on and on about the business world, politics and other areas where this applies but instead I will just say to anyone reading this – Shut Up and Do Something.

My Week in Books, Movies, and TV 10/23/20

Another one of those weeks where everything runs together and I have to re-read last week’s post to determine what I did since then. Maybe some day time will seem normal again.

Movies – I can recall one movie I watched this week: Vampires vs The Bronx on Netflix. The basic plot – a group of young friends from the Bronx start the movie trying to save their local bodega from closure due to gentrification and end up fighting to save their neighborhood from vampires. It was a little like a kid-friendly horror version of Attack the Block. It was an enjoyable way to spend 90 minutes or so. It was a good cast and a fun movie. Nothing groundbreaking, but we really don’t need groundbreaking for a Friday afternoon movie on Netflix.

TV – Not really a lot to report on the TV front. We watched all of our regular shows: Transplant, Coroner, LA’s Finest, Swamp Thing and my Walking Dead shows. I finally started watching the second season of You. We are back to watching Jeopardy regularly. I’m happy to have it back, but it seems like the quality of contestant was diminished now that they are only using California residents since travel is hard now. We have also started watching Family Feud a lot because it is on around Jeopardy. I enjoy it a lot more than I remember.

Books – I finished two books this week.

Half Moon Bay by Jonathon and Jesse Kellerman – This is the third book in the Clay Edison series. Clay is a coroner. In this book he is called to a construction site at Berkeley when bones are found. The bones are those of a child. Based on the placement and construction history they are from the early 70’s. Clay then received a phone call from a man saying it might be his sister. It’s obvious they aren’t as the bones are from a male. This sets off two mysteries Clay investigates – who is the child in the construction site and the private case he takes on to find the man’s missing sister. It’s an interesting mystery as there is a chance no real crime was committed, I like Clay as a character. I would recommend for mystery fans.

Charming as a Verb by Ben Phillipe – A YA book I stumbled upon at work. Henri is a senior at the prestigious FATE Academy in NYC with dreams of going to Columba. Corinne Troy is an “intense” classmate who seems immune to his charms. When she blackmails him to help her change her image after discovering his dog walking scam they discover that they really like each other. It is just a nice teen romance that I need on occasion in between my death and disaster books. Well written, well developed characters. I recommend to those who like a good teen romance.

On Deck – Movies will again be a luck of the draw thing. If we decide to watch a movie, we will scan various streaming services until we find something we can both live with. TV will still be just watching the latest episode of the shows we like. I will watch You when i have TV time alone. Baseball is over and the Ravens are on a bye, but I still have Kentucky football tomorrow and random NFL games to watch Sunday. American Housewife and Superstore come back this week, but I will have to wait to watch them when my daughter is back at home. I am reading First Kill the Lawyers by David Housewright.

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Platonic Tater

I feel like this one is a companion to the first love one I posted recently. Lessons learned from a life in the friend zone.

In a recent post, I mentioned that most of my friends are women and that this has been the case for years. In a recent conversation with some of those friends, I mentioned that many people don’t believe that you can love a person of the opposite sex without being in love with them. These two things brought to mind the topic of today’s post. My long history of being in the friend zone and why that helps with my current relationships.

When I was in high school this was not a happy thing. No teenage boy wants to be the guy that girls want as just a friend. That was the story of my high school and early college life.  There were girls around me all the time, but they were all just friends. None of them had any romantic interest.  It sucked back then, but it did teach me how to have good, platonic friendships with women. I did not appreciate the lesson back then. No teen boy would. Of course, I was an awkward, plain-looking late bloomer, so the lack of romantic interest is not a shocker.

I think back to my work with a church youth group and think the lesson above helped me when teaching a Sunday school class of mostly middle school girls and also with the group as a whole.  I was able to work with them and relate to them because of all of the female friends I had in my teen years. It also helped that I was not the type of young, male adult that would inspire crushes. There was no fear that the work would get awkward because teen girls were in love with the awkward, plain-looking Sunday school teacher.

As mentioned before, I have a lot of female friends. Part of this is because I work in a field filled with women(not a literal field full of women) and part of this is because I am weird and not like a lot of men and have trouble with friendships with other men because of this. This is also helped by my early years. I learned how to be friends with and love women without falling in love with them. It also helps that the one weird woman who actually did fall in love with me knows that I love her and would never cheat on her. It also helps that no husband is going to think “I fear that my wife will fall in love with that weird, socially awkward, short, fat balding guy”

Anyway, the point of this rambling is that it is possible to have friends of the opposite sex. It is possible to love them without being in love with them and the earlier you learn how to do this the easier it is.

Humor at the Worst of Times

I wrote in the middle of the lockdown about how there is a time to laugh, even in bad times.

This is the four year anniversary of the death of my mom. TimeHop and Facebook memories are reminding me every day of her death and my travel home for her funeral. They are tough memories, especially at a time when I am already struggling. Today’s memory, though, reminded me that you can find humor even at the worst of times. The below photo and caption is something I posted while at the funeral home when I saw my niece’s kid in this position. She was not as amused as I was.

There is a time to laugh. Sometimes even when it is time to cry as well.

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What’s Good in Tater Town 10/18/20

Another week of not so good. Lets see what good I can find.

  1. Another win for the Ravens.
  2. The Braves series started out good and I have one more day before I’m done with baseball for the year.
  3. Dinner with my son.
  4. Saw some friends via zoom in an online training.
  5. Amazing Race is back in TV.
  6. My daughter has made it through 2 months back to college without any illness.
  7. Kentucky beat Tennessee in Knoxville for the first time since 1984.

That’s all I can think of this week.

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Two Times I Used Vampire Stories to Teach Sunday School

I was just watching Vampires vs the Bronx on Netflix. It’s kind of Attack the Block with vampires. I enjoyed it and would recommend it. While watching, I was reminded of when I used to teach middle school Sunday school at my old church. I’m not sure I was that good at it. I think they let me do it because I was willing and they didn’t want to find someone else. Maybe if they had known I used vampires to teach a couple of lessons they would have changed their minds. Here are the lessons:

  1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer used to teach free will – Spike was a vampire who was in love with Buffy. Buffy was not in love with him. He got someone to build him a Buffybot. The Buffybot was programmed to love Spike and do whatever it took to please him. Spike thought it was a good idea, but soon realized that a robot programmed to love him was not the same as someone loving him because they chose to do so. I used to story to talk about why God created us to have free will. He could have made us bots who were programmed to love Him and do the right thing, but it wouldn’t be the same as people who loved Him and did the right thing because we chose to.
  2. Anita Blake – There is a series of books with the main character Anita Blake. There are zombies, vampires, werepeople, etc. As with most vampire stories, the vampires can be repelled with a crucifix and other articles of faith. In one scene, someone tries to use a crucifix to repel a vampire and it doesn’t work. It only works if the person is a person of faith. I used this to teach about how church, Sunday school, works, etc will not mean anything if you lack faith in God.

So, there you have it. The times I used vampires to teach middle schoolers about God.

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My Week in Book, Movies, and TV 10/16/20

I went back to verify what I wrote about last week because I was sure I talked about the movie we watched this week. I was wrong. I’ve lost all track of time. Here’s my week:

Movies – I can remember one movie we apparently watched this week even though I was sure I wrote about it last week. It was Hubie Halloween with Adam Sandler on Netflix. I was surprised when my wife said she was OK with watching it. She’s not really a Sandler fan. Sandler’s character in this one is a lot like The Waterboy. There are a lot of connections to old Sandler movies. Julie Bowen is back and her character’s name has the same initials has the same initials as her character in Happy Gilmore. There is an O’Doyle kid who is a bully and yells O’Doyles rule. Kevin James, Colin Quinn, Steve Buscemi, and Rob Schneider are all back. Ben Stiller cameos as his Happy Gilmore character. The movie itself was dumb, but fun. If you like Sandler and his friends you will enjoy it.

TV – The NLCS started this week, so most night we have been watching the Braves beat the dodgers. Wednesday night when the Braves were already down 13-0 by the time I had the time to watch I watched TV shows instead. Since my wife was working late, I watched The Masked Singer and The Weakest Link. Some days it’s nice to have shows like this to watch. Entertaining, but not anything you need to really focus on too hard. I’m trying to find another show to watch alone that will hold my interest. I watched the first episode of Veronica Mars yesterday, but my enjoyment of it was marred by constant texts about work when I was supposed to be off work. Have I mentioned how much I hate my job?

Books – I read two books this week.

Watching You by Lisa Jewell – I read this one for my mystery book club at work. It tells the story of an undisclosed murder, alternating between characters advancing the story to the crime interspersed with interviews with suspects and witnesses about the crime. I was wrong in my assumption about who was murdered and why. It’s always nice when a mystery fools me. It was well written and I enjoyed the characters and the story.

From the Grave by David Housewright – The Rushmore McKenzie series is another of my favorites. McKenzie is a former cop who quit so he could collect a large reward for finding stolen money. Now wealthy, he works as an unofficial detective when friends need help. In this one, his friend Shelby is at a psychic medium’s show when she says the dead man she speaks to keeps saying McKenzie’s name. The man is someone McKenzie shot and killed when he was a cop. He had stolen over half a million dollars and was on the run, when it happened. His son was arrested and sent to prison. The money was never found. McKenzie begins the hunt for the money. I enjoyed it. I love all of the characters in the series. They are fun and light. This one had the possibility of ghosts and such. That was new. I recommend the entire series.

On Deck – Any movie will again be a luck of the draw type thing. We will have Braves baseball, Kentucky football and Ravens football to watch. We still have some Fargo episodes, Swamo Thing, Next, Transplant and Coroner recorded. There will be a new SNL, Fear the Walking Dead and Walking Dead: World Beyond. The Conners returns this week. It’s nice to have some real TV again. I am about to start reading Half Moon Bay by Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman.

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