Sunday, November 21, 2010

The most stressful thing ever....

Life is full of stressful situations.  The kind of shit that makes you tense up, breath faster, and sweat like a hog.  The worst of the worst has your heart racing like a runaway train.  Your mind wants to focus, but you can’t.   Suddenly, your limbs seem to get heavier.  When it is real bad, you feel as if you are moving in slow motion.  Regardless of how things are going, you seem to feel like all hope is lost.  You’d like more than nothing to just relax.
                I’ve been in all sorts of these situations.  Job interviews or funerals are one type that just wreak havoc on the nerves.  I’ve sat through long dental procedures and felt as claustrophobic as one can get.  I’ve laughed off an emergency appendectomy because for some reason it really didn’t have me worried when I was told they were going to open me up.  There are the work related moments where I’ve been worried about a layoff or just spent the better part of my day being verbally accosted by complete strangers.  All that is enough to induce a panic attack.  However, I am here to tell you that those scenarios were a cake walk compared to the one activity I deem the most stressful I have ever encountered.
                What in the world could I be talking about?   There can’t be anything more stressful than a funeral, can there?  What fantastic activity could make Nick Wallander so stressed that he wants to blog about it?  I’ll tell you what that activity is.  It’s BINGO.   Yep.  The card and number based game of chance.  The one we all played back in grade school for one.  The same BINGO that millions of elderly ladies play every single night.  BINGO, my friends, is enough to give someone a coronary.
                Yes, I am serious.  The game of BINGO is nothing but a haven for anxiety and stress.  Now, I am not talking about BINGO in a church basement.  I am sure that shit has its share of stress, but it is nothing compared to official BINGO sessions at a major casino.  Have you ever been to one?  If so, you know exactly what I am talking about.  You could walk into a BINGO hall and cut the tension with a knife.  Seriously, you may be able to cut through the air with a knife because I have never seen such a cloud of smoke from cigarettes.
                The main reason BINGO is so stressful is because there are hundreds of people and generally there is only one winner.  Many of these people have anywhere from $15 to $200+ dollars on the line.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being put into any situation where my odds of being the winner are slim to none.  Hell, I know that the odds are astronomical, but I still play.   Now imagine how stressful it is for someone who truly believes they will win every game they play.
                Making it even more stressful is that people take BINGO way too seriously.  You’ll see all the regulars there with their little leather carrying cases for the paint dobbers.  Yep, there is a commercial market for dobber carrying cases.   These are the same people who line up trolls and buy several packs of BINGO cards while simultaneously playing some games on an electronic system.  BINGO is a big event for these people.  They take it more seriously than their jobs.  That is probably because it is the job of many of these people.  I wager that a large sum of money from unemployment checks go towards BINGO admission.
                Now, I don’t know if BINGO is as stressful for the regular attendees as it is for me.   Perhaps they are used to the suspense and drama of it all.  What I do know is that they are some mean bitches out there.  They will look at you with a stink eye if you so much as even think about breaking some time honored unwritten BINGO rule.   (I am not sure what these rules are, but am certain that they exist).   These people will scold you just for whispering across the table to your friend.  Nobody talks during these games.  It is quieter than a courtroom or a funeral in there.  That only makes things worse because any slight noise gets people nervous that someone is squirming to yell “BINGO”.
                I honestly believe that I could be murdered at a BINGO hall.  The people there would turn on me in an instant.  That fear for safety gets the heart pumping with adrenaline.    They are an eclectic breed of humanity.  Most of them mutter under their breath between every number.  Some line up their dobbers to be used in a specific order.  Others will not blink for two hours and still manage to mark their cards.  They are so focused on the game that a parade of midgets could pass by them and they wouldn’t even notice.  However, they would notice if they thought you were about the win.
                On Saturday night I felt violated a few times with all the eye fucking that was being done by complete strangers.  Some of it was done because the crew and I were way too young to be at BINGO.  The older folks don’t want us there because they feel we are quicker on the draw with calling BINGO.  They are probably right, but it is no reason to hate.  Then there are the white trash people who are there because they actually need the money.  Probably for booze, cigarettes, and to finish the tattoos of their abusive father’s name. 
There was a nice white trash young woman, in her early 20s sitting on our table on Saturday night.   She was equipped with her own dobber case and a pack of cigarettes.  She had a raspy voice from all the smoking she had been doing as well as several bombastic tattoos on her arm.  She wouldn’t have caught my attention except for her “tourette’s” fits when numbers were called.  There was that and the fact that she was noticeably pregnant.  Probably six or seven months along.  On top of the smoking, she was also guzzling down a bunch of caffeinated beverages.   But hey, who am I to judge?   This girl just wanted to buy nice things for her baby.  Or new Pumas for her baby daddy.
I was afraid of this girl.  It was apparent that she may have once stabbed a person just because they asked her for the time.  We built up the courage to borrow her pen.  Then she gave us firm and commanding instructions about the third game, which we did not ask about.  With every number called, I was already nervous, but it was five times worse because I felt like this pregnant bitch was going to lunge over the table at me.
We played about twelve games of BINGO on Saturday night.   Every single one of them was the most stressful experience of my life.  Each number called had my heart racing.  I probably could have died at any moment. 
And yes, I loved every moment of it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pull up your pants, zombies are coming... and not in that way. That's gross you even thought of it like that!

                Thanks to the wonder of television I was recently able to ponder one of the important questions in like.  “Just what the hell am I going to do if there is a zombie apocalypse?”  This is an important issue as far as I am concerned.  A man needs a plan.  There are so many variables to think about.  And let’s be honest, folks.  It sure is a bit fun and amusing to think about such a crazy concept.
                First and foremost, I think that all the previous depictions of zombie outbreaks over exaggerate the population of zombies.  Why would I believe such a thing?   Well, the movies go and assume that the zombies will bite people who then turn into zombies who then turn more people into zombies.  What they always fail to realize is that those mother fuckers are hungry.  Zombies aren’t going to just stop after one bite and then move on to the next victim.  They are going to keep on chewing on their latest catch.  So, while they are pouncing on their fresh meat, some people will be able to get away.  My point is that their goal isn’t to bite and infect everything in sight.  They want to eat everything in sight.  Therefore, their numbers aren’t going to be as massive as one might expect.
                Yes, I am saying that I don’t think it will be that bad.   However, I am not saying that the zombie apocalypse would be easy.  One is going to have to be so fucking careful.  It doesn’t need to be said how easy one could put themselves in danger.  I’ve thought long and hard about all the things I would do to survive.  It is hard to figure out where I would begin to start.
                First of all, there is no way I am traveling in a large group of people.  That would be like driving a bacon truck through a fat camp.  They’d smell us a mile away.  Small groups are quieter.   They are harder to see.  Bigger groups are just that much more of a liability.  However, at the same time, I would not want to be alone during all of the madness.  One shouldn’t be going anywhere without someone having their back. 
                Having other people around will be great for one particular reason:  rest.   I couldn’t help but assume that it would be nearly impossible to get any sleep on my own.   Not only is it not very safe, but the anxiety alone might just kill me.  Who wants to worry about being devoured while they sleep?   Having at least one other person means that you can sleep in shifts.  Someone can keep guard.
                Another key detail I have sorted out is merely a matter of preparation.  I already know who I am getting on the phone with as soon as shit goes down.  That is, of course, if I am in Green Bay at the time of the outbreak.  I know someone who will have an arsenal to defend us against the zombies.  I sure as hell don’t have a damn thing that will do me any good.  You might think I would at least have a baseball bat, but nope.  All I have is this short and thick stick that I keep on hand in the event of a bear attack (another story in itself).  Someone with a few guns will come in handy.
                Now many people are immediately going to hop in their car to get out of dodge.  Bad idea.  Traffic will congest and once things get ugly, there will be road blocks eventually.  The best method of travel may be a motorcycle or ATV.   Better gas mileage and they can maneuver in smaller spaces.  An ATV would be able to go off road in a hurry.  The zombie won’t be able to keep up.
                A misconception about zombie survival is that you must get in a head shot to stop a zombie.  Granted, they work, they aren’t the only way to keep a zombie from attacking you.  A gun only has so many bullets, so the average survivalist would need another way to slow zombies down.  A good old fashioned crow bar or baseball bat could do the trick.  Zombies with broken limbs can’t really come at you or even crawl at you.  A shot to the knee with a bat is effective.  Otherwise loan sharks would use something else.  So, along with my guns I would keep a durable aluminum baseball bat.   It would also come in hand if any apocalyptic disputes would need to be settled in a sandlot. 
                An error that I see in most zombie movies is that people tend to flock to stores and malls when they need supplies.  That is an utterly stupid idea.  It has been established that zombies aren’t entirely stupid.  Somehow they can recall the gathering places for living people.  That is why they ransacked that mall in Dawn of the Dead.  They just know that people will be there.  If not there, then a grocery store.  Sure those places have plenty of food for you, but it would be the riskiest meal you ever found.  I wouldn’t want to risk there being any zombie puke all over my Hot Pockets.  If I were to go to a store it would be in a small town.  Everyone knows zombie zero in on the big cities.
                So, where would I get my supplies?  I would just steal them from empty houses.  It would be much easier to verify that a random house is secure and safe.  Jump in, check the cabinets, and get out of dodge.  Clothing and weapons would be readily available as well.  Hell, they would probably even be places to sleep at that point.  Zombies don’t hang out in houses because there are stairs and a lot of doors.  Much more complicated than a mall or public place.   They would also wander right by you without seeing a damn thing.   I’d sure as fuck barricade myself in though.
                There is a lot more I could ramble on about, but I won’t.   Many of you probably need to get back to work or maybe you just need to finish masturbating.  I don’t care either way.  You read this much, so you are okay with me.  Actually, I do care a bit if you were masturbating while reading a blog about the zombie apocalypse.  That means you are kind of a sick fuck.  Unless of course you can justify by saying that you are getting in all the masturbation you can now because when the zombies attack there won’t be time for that shit.  In that case, pound away.  I understand entirely.  Even if you did want to violate yourself after a zombie outbreak, you would be out of luck since the internet would eventually be down.  However, that doesn’t mean all communication would be down.  All sorts of government agencies have secret telegraphs hidden.  Those would still work.  Rotary phones would most likely work as well.  The only problem is that they would be loud as hell.  You’d want to get it on the first ring.
                I think my point in all this nonsense was to be a little optimistic for a change.  Life could be so much worse than it is right now.  Most of the world could be dead and/or the walking dead.  I could be holed up in a farmhouse somewhere in Pennsylvania.  The power grid could be destroyed.  There could be a world without baristas to bring me my pumpkin spice latte!  Basically, as bad as it is now, there could always be zombies to fuck it up even more.  And hell, even if there were zombies, there would be a silver lining.  At least I wouldn’t have to go to work, right?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Walking Dead is actually very much alive in my eyes....

                I’ve had a lot of things I have wanted to gush about on this blog.   In true form, these things don’t have much to do with my own personal adventures and experiences.  Those haven’t been worth noting unless you find working 12 hour days to be sexy.   You, don’t , do you?  Because if you do, maybe we can meet up later.  Catch some dinner at Taco Burrito Mexico and maybe a budget movie after that?   Hell, we could even be real romantic and bump uglies behind a dumpster.  So, yeah, if that kind of thing tweaks your hormones, well, tweet me or some shit like that.
                Anywho, I want to touch base on something that impressed the utter shit out of me this weekend.   Not often does a premiere of a television show give me a geek boner.  I can only recall LOST and maybe Dollhouse doing that for me.  This past Sunday I was blown away by the premiere of The Walking Dead.

                How come it has taken this long for a zombie themed show to come to television?  Seriously?  It is a definitely workable idea.  They have made shows out of less, haven’t they?   Like Cavemen for example.   If a Geico commercial can become a show, then zombies should have been a television show years ago.  Perhaps the difficulty in developing such a show revolves around the fact that it couldn’t be done without being too graphic.  In recent years, basic cable has developed into a medium where networks can be more bold and risqué.  Networks like FX and Comedy Central have been dropping a few more swear words for years now.  Then AMC came along and decided that they could one up everyone with edgy and brilliant television.  Mad Men blows my mind with every new episode and their willingness to go just about anywhere with the story.  I should not have been surprised by what AMC did with The Walking Dead.
                I advise you to get your ass on Hulu right now to start watching it.  There is no point in avoiding it.  You’ll be hearing about it for awhile.  You will be impressed by how the standard run of the mill zombie apocalypse could be so interesting.  I could go into details about the characters and plot, but that would just take away from the fun that will come from utter surprise.  I probably should hit on what I loved about the show though.
                First of all, the show is brilliantly shot.  The cinematography is unparalleled for a television show.  The only ones I can recall being comparable are Mad Men and Lost.  It looks as good as any movie you will see this year.  It was shot with precision and love.  The camera work makes every scene that much better.
                The opening scene is just crazy awesome.  It is unlike any opening scene to a television show ever.  Hell, I don’t think any show has ever started off being that graphic.  It is creepy beyond belief and will suck you right in as it intended.  It would ruin it to tell you anymore.   Watch the first few minutes.  You’ll then keep watching.
                They don’t waste any time explaining the zombie mythology in The Walking Dead.  They know that we’ve all seen and heard the same shit over the years about zombies.  Most of it applies here and gets referenced in a way that isn’t preaching it to us as if we aren’t ignorant.  The audience is treated with respect and dignity.  The writers assumed we all were able to think critically.  This is apparently when we realize that the characters are not goofy caricatures and are in fact more complex than the solution to a zombie apocalypse.   
                Speaking of that, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of worry about curing the zombies or any of that typical save the world nonsense.  The people in this story are fighting for their lives every single day.  They don’t have time to worry about some scientific crap.  I imagine that the show portrays how it would be if shit were ever to go down in real life.  We wouldn’t have brainy nerds everywhere that could solve the problem by mixing some serums.  I love that the fate of the world has generally been accepted in The Walking Dead.  Now it’s a matter of survival.  That is good television right there.
                Finally, there was one scene nearly the last third of the episode that will tug at your heart a bit.   I never envisioned that a scene in a zombie show could be so poetic and meaningful.  This is when it struck me that this is a zombie franchise that is actually going to try.  That’s the problem with the horror genre.  Nobody really tries these days.  It is all about the quick buck.   The Walking Dead actually cares about the story it tells.  It is apparent to me that the zombie story is just the backdrop for real human drama.  To me, that is just plain awesome.

                There you have it.  My relentless endorsement of The Walking Dead.  I will be watching it every week until it finishes next month.  I am happy to say that it didn’t take long for something to fill the void left by Lost. 

The "normal" is just as important as the "para" part....

                If you didn’t see Paranormal Activity yet, you probably should be reading another blog right now.  If you didn’t like Paranormal Activity, well, then you also probably shouldn’t be reading this blog.  I write this for people who enjoy creative movies with legitimate scares that make you think twice about that sound coming from the other room.  Okay, I think we cleared out all of the riff raff.  Ten points goes to the reader who predicted that I would use the term “riff raff”.  Twenty additional points to those who guessed that I wasn’t wearing pants when I wrote those.
                Relax, you perverts.  I am wearing shorts.  Get your minds out of the gutter.  I need you to focus for a minute.  Take a deep breath.  Compose yourself.  Don’t get rattled. 
                You’ll probably need to compose yourself a few times during the viewing of Paranormal Activity 2.  There are some scenes that will literally surprise you.  What worked in the first movie works in the sequel, but is amped up a bit.  I use the term sequel loosely since the movie does take place a couple months before the first film.  It also features the sister of Katie from the first film and her family.  Needless to say, the entity from the first film starts its reign of terror on this unsuspecting family before it moves on the amply chested Katie (Katie Featherston) and her live-in instigating boyfriend, Micah (Micah Sloat).  The overall plot here isn’t worth ruining in a simple review.  Just trust me that some scary shit escalates for the family in question.  The cool part is how it all ties into the first.  That big reveal will make you go back and watch the first movie.
                What works with Paranormal Activity 2?   Most importantly, they make the family in question seem like your everyday cookie cutter people.  There is nothing too spectacular about them.  Nothing to love about them.  Nothing to hate about them.  You don’t wish harm upon them like you would have with Micah in the first film.  These people could be your family or the people living next door.  This added with the simplicity of the effects makes the movie hit home a little harder when the scary shit goes down.
                All of the scares in Paranormal Activity 2 are what I would call legit scares.   There are no bits where a cat jumps out at a tense moment.   Instead, strange shit happens in the intense moments.  Nothing comes cheap.  That is a relief for a horror movie.  In addition to the scares is the mere fact that there is a thick aura of suspense.  You are waiting the whole time to see what the paranormal entity is capable of and as to what its endgame is.  At any moment it could erupt into chaos.  That is the coolest thing about the Paranormal Activity franchise.  The creepy feeling the movies give you is well earned.
                I became especially fond of what I call the use of “redundancy shots”.  These are scenes in the movie often used to get us familiar with the setting and/or the characters living in the house.  You might assume they are a glimpse into the everyday life of the film’s family.   Technically, that is what they do.  However, they also set up the scares for later.  You become almost too familiar and comfortable with the surroundings, just as the family does.  Then…. BAM!  You just pissed yourself.
                Who doesn’t like being legitimately scared by a movie?  I highly recommend that you see Paranormal Activity 2 in an attempt to get the blood flowing.  It’ll work just as effectively as internet porn, only you won’ t need to clean up.