Friends, it is February and that means that it is Women in Horror Month. I’ll be participating by consuming books, movies, and short films written and/or directed by women — and highlighting as many as I can here on my website.
What It’s About: A 13-year-old girl and her grandpa struggle to survive in a zombie infested world.
Why I Like It: The zombies are situated into the background, as such the violence and scares are subtle with the relationship between the grandfather and granddaughter being at the forefront. The writing in this regard is excellent with believable dialog and some genuinely moving moments, and Frankie Faison and Saoirse Scott both do a great job of bringing these characters to life. Every scene is well utilized, so that when the truth about the zombies is revealed, the story delivers some chilling realizations.
Behind a gate on a hill, the house skulks with the weight of its memories. It’s gardens bear rotting fruit. Vines crawl up its siding and peel back it’s wooden skin. It’s windows are cracked and broken, shutters clinging to rusted hinges, peeling away like a woman’s fake eyelashes at the end of an alcohol soaked night. The roof gapes up at the sky, open mouthed, drinking in sunlight, rain, and snow indiscriminately.
The house is home to specters, fragments of broken hearts and shards of regrets, drifting lonely and angry over the termite infested floors, nestling under the mildewed drapery, curled up in soggy chairs. They roam the many tilted floors, drift through peeling walls scattering mice, and wander into spiderwebbed rooms tasting the lingering once-was that paints a sheen over slow destruction.
When the front door falls off its hinges and the interlopers wend their way through the entry, taking up and altering space, the specters wail a distant keening easily mistaken for wind whistling in the eves. The interlopers offer up their own low moans, and for a moment their two lost nations take up a song of esurience.
Accustomed to percieving the ancient house as draped in its historic glory, as vibrant and fresh as when they were alive, the specters do not recognize the interlopers for what they are. They do not notice the flesh peeling in strips from bone, do not smell the too sweet stench of decay, do not comprehend the hollowed out emptiness of the interlopers that shamble without apparent purpose through the dim rooms.
The specters respond as they always do to invasion — slamming shutters, knocking wrinkled books off shelves, casting dark flitting shadows — expecting the screaming flight such actions traditionally evoke. But the just-bodies of the interlopers give no response other than to amble jerkily in the direction of each new sound. Confounded, the specters use up their electrostatic strength in games of fright that have no effect.
One interloper, in shuffling toward the sound of a portrait crashing, collapses through a wood rotted floor and smashes like an overripe melon on the stone basement floor. Specters huddle around it, waiting for one more to rise up and join their numbers. But the husk remains a husk with nothing to offer, not even its own ravenous hunger.
The specters learn. Unable to terrorize the interlopers into fleeing, they draw them with their howling, herd them with their bumping and knocking, guiding them to the hole to fall and smash and shatter and grow still. One unravels wire bit by steely bit until the chandelier, dusty and laced with cobwebs, crashes into a clutch of shambles, driving them through the cracking stairs into the rooms below.
One by one, the specters steer the interlopers to destruction until at last their home returns to its own quiet ruination, allowing the specters to slip back into their rumination and drift cloud-like through the fading chaos of memory.
Zombies and survivors ran together during the Running with Zombies 5K fun run event in San Jose, which I participated in with my sister, both of us shambling out of bed bright and early Saturday, donned decaying flesh, and set out to run our brains out.
Despite some confusion as to where to park (the online directions were wrong), my sister and I had a rotting good time at the race. It kicked off with an air raid siren. The sky was grey and bleak with a slight mist, matching the tone of the event as we ran along the quite, closed off streets of San Jose, making it feel as though the city was a dead zone. The terrain then carried us through winding trails of a park where scattered zombies snarled at runners (some caged behind a chain link fence), past a abandoned and dilapidated building, and down a dirt, vacant feeling path where slow shuffling zombies wandered (one dragging the plastic corpse of a half eaten pig).
It was fun to see all the people who came, from young kids to wizened adults, many of whom came as zombies. Some got fairly creative with their costumes, including a zombie Star Trek officer.
As I haven’t been actively training as much as I would like, I felt a wee slow during the three-mile run and was definitely below my usual pace. But, hey, I was undead at the time, so I have an excuse and it was a shotgun blast of fun. I’d do it again in a heartbeat (if I had one). I think I’ll rise to the occasion again next year.
Over the weekend, I finally reached one of the goals I set for 2013. I ran three miles.
It’s not the fastest three miles, but it’s not the slowest either. I average about a 12 minute mile, and I’ve noticed that every time I run, I do that first mile just a little bit faster (this weekend, I did that first mile in 11 minutes), which is also awesome.
I have now signed up for the She is Beautiful 5K in Santa Cruz, which will be my first official race in the sense that it’s the first that I plan to run straight through (I’ve done two others that I mostly walked). I’m quite excited.
To make my weekend runs a little more fun and interesting, I have also bought the Zombies, Run! app, which has you as a runner in the zombie apocalypse. It has a whole storyline and you can set it to zombie chases, which force you to run faster to escape the zombies. Along the way you collect various gear, which you can then use to upgrade the camp. It seems like a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to doing runs and playing the game, being the zombie lover that I am. 🙂
My next running goal is to build up to six miles and potentially run in the Wharf to Wharf run in July. I think it’s doable.
Whenever we’re traveling or on vacation, my family is known to whip out the board and card games, and it’s great. Because, you know, we get to talk and interact and drink beers in a way that doesn’t involve the television, and it’s good (if not always wholesome) fun.
Lately, we’ve starting bringing out the table top games for more than just ‘special occasions,’ and have been turning to this while prepping dinner or hanging out in general. This has led us to start watching Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop video series, which is all board and card games all the time (some of which are the more complex role playing games).
For my family, a level of simplicity is a key with our selection of games, so that we can sit and chat and drink beers and wander off and the afternoon or night is fully relaxed. Here are a few of our favorite games (not including classic games like Sorry or Clue or Monopoly, which we also love), some new and some we’ve been playing for years.
1. Zombie Dice
With Zombie Dice, you are playing the part of the zombie on the hunt for tasty, tasty brains. You roll three dice at a time, which will come up either as brains (which you get to eat), a gun shot (three of which kills you), or feet (which you keep chasing by rolling again. There’s a little bit more to the rules, but essentially you win by being the player to nosh down on the most brains.
We like it because it’s easy game play and zombies. We also have the expansion pack, which includes three additional dice that provide variation and complication to the rules above.
(Actually it was this game that causes us to turn on the Tabletop episodes in the first place, because he features it in one episode.)
2. Cards Against Humanity
Cards Against Humanity is available for purchase, as well as a free download, which allows you to print the cards yourself. Each round a player A asks a question with a black card, which the other players answer by choosing what they think is the funniest white card. The winner of the round is the one who player A thinks has the best/funniest card.
This is a great game to play while sipping on some form of booze. It’s full of foul language, sexual phrases, and politically incorrect statements. Playing this game usually results in one of more of the players falling off their chair in laughter.
If you’re looking for a clean, kid-safe version of this game, there’s Apple to Apples, which is also quite fun.
Each player has five dice and a cup. Players shake the cup, then slam it down on the table. Looking at your own dice, you call out a bid, declaring how many of each number there are (i.e. two 3s, four 5s, etc.) for all the dice on the table (not just your own). The other players either up that bid, or call “liar.” If “liar” is called, the dice are revealed. If your bid is correct, then the person who called “liar” looses a die, if you are wrong, you lose a die. The challenge is to not get caught in a lie and/or to catch others in a lie. The last one with dice left wins.
Where it gets really complicated is that there are dozens of variants to the rules (for example, we play where you can call “spot on,” meaning the number called out is the exact amount, as well as “liar”), thus some preemptive work is recommended, so that you can nail down your house rules before you start playing. This will ward off any shouting matches (and I know this from experience).
It’s not as confusing as it sounds. Also, it’s fun because there’s trickery involved. Sometimes it’s best to lie. Others it’s best to tell the truth and make them think you’re lying.
Thirty-One is a long standing holiday tradition with my family, which started at my brother-in-law’s house. Every Christmas, we gather around our entire 10+ group of people, each with our set of three $1 bills and set to playing for the next few hours.
Each player is deal three cards and tries to assemble a hand in the same suite that is as close to 31 as possible. Each player can either take the card on top or select from the deck, then discards one card. After the first round any player can “knock” on their turn, which forces everyone to show their hands. The person(s) with the lowest number put a dollar in the pot. However, if you are dealt 31 at the start of the round, then you have to show your cards automatically and everyone has to put a dollar in a pot. The last person with money in front of them wins the whole game and the pot of cash.
Our group tends to be so large when we play this game that if becomes very time consuming, especially if we’re all drinking and not quite paying attention. It’s a good way to bring the family together and fill the night, while incorporating a bit of betting without having it hurt too much (most people can easily afford to loose $3).
5. Cthulhu Dice
Created by the same people who made Zombie Dice, this is a new addition to our repertoire, and we’re still trying to figure out what we think about it, as it’s not quite as simple. But, hey, it’s Cthulhu, and the Elder Gods must be appeased.
Cthulhu is at the heart of this game and is represented by the center of the game area. As worshipers with limited sanity (represented by three marble pieces), players will select an opponent to curse and roll a 12-sided die to see the outcome, either stealing sanity from the opponent and taking it from oneself or giving it to Cthulhu at the center, loosing ones own sanity to Cthulhu, or other options. After casting, the victim has a chance to retaliate. If you lose all your sanity pieces, you can still play as an insane worshiper. The only player with sanity left at the end of a round wins.
The game rules say the game is for 2+ players, however, playing it with only two was a little confusing, so I think it’s probably best played with 3+ players.
Still, good fun. All hail the Elder Gods.
Tabletop Games I’m Looking Forward To
I haven’t played either of the following games yet, but I’m hoping to soon. First, there’s The Machine of Death: The Game of Creative Assassination, which I preordered through their kickstarter project. I love the anthology series, so I’m hoping the game is great.
Then, there’s Tsuro, which we saw Wil Wheaton playing on one of his episodes. It’s a strategy game involving pathways and the placement of cards and you play as dragons that must not run off the board or into each other. It looked quick and simple and cleverly fun. So that’s on my list, too.
If you’re a tabletop game fan, tell me what your favorite games are in the comments.