Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Kids and Zombies

Stacey is gone for two weeks, and I'm bummed. Summers are pretty hard because I don't see her at all when she is with her mom. During the school year, I see her after school every day, and she usually spends the night when her girl scout troup meets.

Summers are harder when she isn't around, but more fun than usual when she is around. Take the last two weeks: School just ended and all the kids are excited. We set up a pool in the backyard, got a dog, and when the kids aren't swimming, they're helping Stacey and I run the dog until she gets tired. Afterwards everyone stays for dinner, and I then go back to the store and stock up on my emergency surplus of macaroni-n-cheese and various box dinners that can quickly be thrown in the oven and ignored for 20 minutes.

We're having some filter problems now, so I had to close the pool until I figure out what's going on, so as a substitute Stacey and a girl across the street went out with me to the Rec Center pool, and another day to an outdoor pool with her mom. This obviously takes time out of the other mom's and my day, but during the summer it's a given that kids are going to need entertainment, so parents' plans become penciled in for three months.

We've also got big plans like my vacation week, Stacey's Girl Scout camp, and Grandma and Grandpa coming down to camp for a few days. All of that helps alleviate the depression that comes with the periodic absence of the person I love most in the world.

I went to see "Land of the Dead" as a pick-me-up; zombie movies have always been a favorite of mine. The semi-recent "28 Days Later" and the recent remake of "Dawn of the Dead" were just fantastic, and "Shaun of the Dead" was so funny it damn near made me spit soda through my nose about a dozen times. "Land of the Dead" was directed by Romero, and had the interesting concept of zombies becoming slightly organized, so my hopes were high.

** Warning -- spoilers! **

The first thing I noticed was that the zombies returned to their meandering gate. 28 and the remake of Dawn introduced the concept of zombies being much more terrifying by being able to run quickly, and having a sort of scared, confused look on their face... as they ate you. This was a nice change, and added a lot more tension as they didn't have to sneak up on you while you were doing something stupid in the open, but could just run you down at any time. But, Romero's original zombies shuffled and poked along, so he's being consistent, so I can't fault him for not accepting the new paradigm.

The movie did also have some noteable good points, like a general disrespect for the people who were now undead, for example instead of just killing them, soldiers would string some of them up to use as target practice, and entertainment entrepreneurs would stage fights between them, or chain them up to have people pose for pictures with them.

I didn't like the thing with fireworks being a distraction, but a did like how a pack of zombies could immediately tell when their current set of victims were all dead and would turn as one and start mozying towards new victims.

Ultimately, Big Daddy wasn't cool. Is he a mutant zombie? Does he teach his fellows, or are they evolving as a whole and he's just doing it faster because he's Big Daddy? Why are they getting smarter? Why, if a single bullet to the brain kills them, and they are clearly breathing can they survive underwater where brain damage would be done due to lack of oxygen? These were interesting concepts, but were just kind of left out there as "sure, why the hell not."

It was interesting, but it's not going into my book of great zombie flicks. It wasn't the pick-me-up I was hoping for, so I'll have to find another way to pass the remaining 13 days.

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