Booze and a Book: Zombies and Bourbon

The Booze: Straight Edge Bourbon Whiskey

This bourbon is finished in sherry casks, lending it a sweet flavor that is almost reminiscent of an old fashioned. It’s a smooth, easy drinker, and one I’ve put in my flask a time or two because it’s easy to share with friends. I put most bourbons on ice and sip them slow, letting the ice water them down a bit, but with Straight Edge my glass is often dry well before the ice can melt.

Side note: I picked up a spherical, silicon ice mold after the holidays. It makes a fat ball of ice to chill a drink fast, though the spheres are a bit smaller than I expected. They also tend to fracture along their equator, and the resulting hemispheres melt even faster. They last longer than standard cubes, but if you’re the type of drinker who doesn’t want your whiskey watered down, stick to whiskey stones or even these badass whiskey bullets.

The Book: The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

In which I reveal I’m a Kindle reader. Shock! Horror!

Actually, I dig the Kindle Paperwhite quite a bit. It’s small and the backlight is easy on the eyes, which is important because I do a lot of my reading right before I fall asleep. I’ve also passed out and dropped it a few times without damaging the screen.

As for the book, I didn’t pay this one a lot of mind on release because it’s a zombie novel, and I had my fill for a bit. However, several of my friends raved about it, and then it got picked up for movie production (starring Glenn Close):

The earlier teaser trailer sold me. I’m not quite halfway through the book as I write this, but I’m hooked. Carey calls his zombies “hungries,” and the story is set some time after the initial zombie apocalypse rather than during. These are fast zombies for those who care, and Carey draws on nature for the cause of his zombies.

The other difference is the titular character, Melanie, is a smart zombie. Something is different about several child zombies, and as the novel begins the rest of the characters are there to study these kids. We get some background of the world and other characters through Melanie’s eyes, then the shit hits the fan and things start moving along at a good clip.

Carey’s prose is lean and engaging, and he shows good balance between Melanie’s innocence/ignorance and telling the reader exactly what’s happening. Zombie fans will find the usual hunger and chow-down horror here, though Carey doesn’t go overboard with it. Casual readers and horror fans should enjoy it alike.

I’m also pleased to see some of the scenes in the trailer are ripped straight out of the novel. That gives me hope the movie will be pretty great, too.

Now I just need to finish the novel before the movie lands.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

The Walking Dead = WIN

If you missed AMC’s The Walking Dead premier, do yourself a favor and catch one of the encore presentations I’m sure they’ll be showing. As many people expected, series developer Frank Darabont did a great job of preserving the feel of the comics. It’s not a shot-for-shot translation to screen, but the core characters are there and it looks like some of their conflicts will be, too.

The zombie effects were terrific. They went all-out with the make-up, and though some of the gore was added digitally (such as the splashes from zombie head shots), it was better than I expected for a television series. Same for the sets: I don’t know how they pulled off the war-torn look of Atlanta, but it worked.

It’s tough to talk specifics without spoilers, so I’ll just say Darabont does a good job of delivering both tension and chills. When a certain character’s wife comes under the crosshairs is a good example. And the scene where Rick turns a certain corner on the horse? Wow.

All in all, I think AMC’s got another winner on their hands. With Breaking Bad and Mad Men already big hits, they’re shaping up to be a real powerhouse for original programming. I love it that they’re not sticking to the formulaic crap on the major networks, and tonight’s teaser for yet another series called The Killing already has my attention.

I have a feeling this will keep the zombie craze going for a while. While I’d love to see a new monster take the lead (*cough*werewolves*cough*), I’m just glad to see some good horror on television again. That’s definitely a trend I can get behind.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Zombie Night!

The Walking Dead just finished its first showing, but I haven’t watched it yet. Instead I let the DVR grab it while I watched the British zombie series Dead Set, which I recorded all week off IFC.

What a fun zombie series. The premise is simple: contestants of the reality show Big Brother are trapped on the set during the zombie apocalypse and must survive while the studio is overrun with the undead. Like any good zombie story, it’s more about the survivors and their behavior than the zombies themselves. Hell, in that sense, it’s a lot like the The Walking Dead comic series.

Dead Set doesn’t pull any punches with the gore. It’s got fast zombies, and they come running out of everywhere at times and tear into the living like buzzsaws. There are some good human villains, too, like the director Patrick. (When he’s cutting meat off a body to make bait and is taunting the others about it… classic.) Just as you’d expect in a crisis in the real world, some people make stupid decisions, some play things a little smarter. Some make good team players, others are out for themselves. Some flip out, others are able to remain calm. Because reality TV contestants are drawn from a variety of backgrounds and personalities, the Dead Set cast has no trouble hitting all the bases and is what helps carry the show.

Horror fans could certainly do worse. Hopefully it will show up on Netflix before long.

Now to see if I can’t get The Walking Dead in before bed.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Rock-a-Bye Zombie

The Midget told me he made up a new song, asked if I wanted to hear it.

I said sure.

He said it’s called “Rock-a-Bye Zombie”. The tune is obvious, if a little off.

Rock-a-bye zombie in the treetop
When you wake up
There will be people to eat
When you are finished
You can have their brains for dessert

Kids rule.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

The Fine Line Between Reality and WTF!?

When I dream, I dream weird. There have been many times I woke up and spent a good minute reintroducing myself to reality or reassuring myself that the events of the dream didn’t really happen.

I had three of those this week. The first dealt with work, and the crux of it wasn’t hard to figure out. However, our student body was about ten times its actual number and our lobby and gym were replaced by a giant glass atrium complete with airport-style people movers (only they were about ten feet long). This in turn opened onto a theme-park sized campus area swarming with more students and staff members.

The second involved a horror convention and a spontaneous marriage to a fan from Eastern Europe. After the nuptials, I continued to crash with the friends I was rooming with for the con. I woke from that one and had to make sure my wife was still sleeping next to me.

The third was the doozy. My great uncle and I had my great aunt’s body on a hospital gurney, and we were wheeling her down a desert highway. I decided it would be a good opportunity for an internal anatomy lesson and talked my great uncle into letting me open her up. He hung back about ten yards while I tore her open with my fingers and poked around at her innards.

That’s when she woke up, smiled, and said “Hi, Michael.” We rushed her to an ER, and she’s smiling and happy the whole time. The nurses tell her they’re going to get her fixed up, and she says “Oh, that’s nice” in this special way she used to say it in reality. It’s about that time in the dream I realized she was a zombie, and I couldn’t figure out why nobody else realized she was a zombie, and that it would only be a matter of moments before she developed a hunger for human brains.

Then I woke up, and the only thing I could think of was my great uncle died first, and holy crap that meant he was a zombie, too, and maybe I need to call Zombie Squad or someone, and why in the hell is my wife just lying there asleep while the zombie apocalypse has begun? But the guy on the clock radio is telling me it will be sixty degrees and sunny with no chance of zombies, and oh, right, it’s 6:30 and time to get out of bed and get ready for work.

I told my wife about the zombie aunt dream. I said “So my great uncle and I are wheeling my aunt’s body down a desert highway.”

“And you’re singing Black Sabbath songs?” she interjected.

“No, but that would have been bad ass! Why do you say that?”

She shrugged. “Sounds like the way things go in your dreams.”

Perhaps my oddity is infectious. At that point I started to speculate exactly which song we’d be singing. “Paranoid” is a little too fast, and “Iron Man” not quite right. I started to settle on “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” when my wife said “So what else happened in this dream?”

“Oh, right.” So I told her the rest.

“You need help.”

It’s simultaneously a benefit and a curse of getting more sleep. The weeks I stay up late and only average about six hours of sleep a night, this doesn’t happen. I push that over seven, closer to eight, and the strangeness begins. I know rapid eye movement is good for me physically, but I’m going to give up on dream analysis because I just don’t want to know.

In fact, I had a social studies teacher in high school who also taught psych. I told him about a strange dream I had involving frogs embedded in trees who opened their mouths to croak and instead unleashed swarms of locusts. He looked at me funny and said “I couldn’t even begin to guess.”

The real question is do I have these dreams because I write horror, or do I write horror because of these dreams? Would I be better off writing these dreams into my work, or would that just make my work even harder to sell? Should I be writing bizarro fiction instead?

There are times, too, where reality just doesn’t help. I stumbled downstairs after the work dream, still pondering the meaning of a conversation with a pair of students and a co-worker in the giant glass atrium. I sat down on the couch with the Squirt, who was watching Yo Gabba Gabba.

If you’ve never seen this show before, it does not, in any way, shape, or form, help one re-establish a grip on reality. As I watched, they finished up some freaky monster dance, and then they cut to this dude with wild hair and green glasses. He says “Hi, I’m Mark! I’m going to draw a truck.”

Holy crap, that’s Mark Mothersbaugh! I thought. That’s right, a member of Devo was about to draw a truck for me. He drew a flatbed truck, and decided it needed cargo. So he drew a giant frozen chicken in the back. Then he gave it a steering wheel and wheels, and it drove away. I blinked a few times, then played it back on the DVR. Mark Mothersbaugh. Chicken. Truck drives away.

My wife walked into the room.

“I am awake, right?” I asked her.

She gave me her trademark oh-great-he’s-lost-his-mind-again look and backed out of the room slowly.

More weirdness ensued on Yo Gabba Gabba. I asked the Squirt if he liked this show.

“Uh-uh,” he said.

“Does it suck?”

“Uh huh.”

I flipped on the guide on the DVR. “Want to watch Power Rangers instead?”

“Yeah! Pow Wangers!”

Not much better in some respects, but at least I didn’t feel like I was lost on a dream quest. Dudes in goofy outfits battling giant monsters explains itself; there’s no “what’s with the chicken?” factor.

I half wonder if the Wife put Yo Gabba Gabba on just to mess with my head.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.