51 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

I was poking around in the musty, poorly-lit tunnels beneath the smooth and glitzy blog you are reading, and I discovered a rather unsettling fact: I have 51 episodes I started but didn’t finish, yet still haven’t deleted. For the next week or three, I’ll be pulling up the ones that deserve to see the blinding light of the public eye.

So if you see some references that are clearly dated, welp, that’s why. If you see episodes that start to develop but then suddenly stop, it’s because I liked the episode, but at this stage I’m not gong to finish it (in all likelihood because I can’t remember the incidents described any longer). Some episodes might still have cobwebs, or spots of rust. Some might be full zombie now, shambling out of the past, hoping to find relevance by eating your brain.

We will start with a marketing campaign by McDonalds that ended a while back. I had meant to explore the idea a little more, but I stopped mid-sentence. Probably scrabbling for the right word. Or just distracted by something shiny.

I will mark the episodes from the archives with the tag “bottle of beer”.

Note that actual current episodes might appear as well, like the one that just landed in the Jury Life series. Crazy times at MR&HBI!


A Literature Question

As one who aspires to the title ‘writer’, it is important that I read. There’s no better teacher than a well-written story. Toward that end I’ve been digging back into books that have stood the test of time, stories that everyone in the world has read except me. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is one I’ve been meaning to get to for a while.

I have a question, though. In this version, Elizabeth Bennett is a young lady from the lower portions of the upper class, and she’s reasonably attractive, quick of wit, and a bit of a snippy bitch (many of her most pointed insults almost got past me, delivered as they were with subtlety and nuance that only upper-crust English can summon). Plus, she’s one hell of a zombie slayer. Her entire brood of sisters are quite accomplished at deanimating the undead.

She has caught the eye of more than one gentleman, but her zombie slaying is considered unladylike by some, and her first marriage proposal comes with the assumption that she will stop slaying zombies. Naturally she rebels at the mere idea.

I never read Pride and Prejudice (some sort of hackneyed subset of the version I’m reading), but I can’t help wondering how much of the zombie content is invented and how much is paraphrasing what was already there in the version Jane Austen did without assistance. Zombie-slaying of course wasn’t in the abridged version, but was there something else instead, something non-zombie-slaying Elizabeth would be loath to give up? Lady Catherine de Bourgh is renowned for her zombie slaying, and so is her daughter. What claim to fame do they have in the first draft?


Should have mentioned that I’m on the cover at Piker Press this week.

The story is somewhat experimental in style, with large parts relying on dialog completely to paint the picture of what’s going on. It’s riskiest during the first section when there are three people talking an I rely on their unique voices to inform the reader who is speaking. I’m not sure it comes off with complete success, I suspect I would have made things easier by at least tipping readers off that there are three people there. With that hint I think the rest would have flown all right.

In any case, it’s a pretty silly story, but it has some interesting folks in it, a couple of nice twists, and heck, how can you go wrong when there are zombies? I only regret that someone else has already done zombie ninjas – although the door is still open for zombie ninjas to battle zombie pirates.

Hang on a sec, I’ve got a quick story to write.

Zombies are up!

It’s too late to vote on the video (voting ended right at the submission deadline), but you can still see the product here: http://www.collegehumor.com/worldsdirtiestfilm/dirtyfilms (Please note that it is a bit risqué — that’s the point of the contest.) Considering the time constraint and the all-volunteer cast and crew, I think it came out pretty well.

Because we submitted right at the last minute, we probably won’t be eligible for the Grand Prize, but honestly that’s all right by me. Grand Prize is a pile of toys and an appearance on a late-night talk show; first prize is the pile of toys without the TV. Since logistically it would end up being yours truly on the talk show yet I wouldn’t get any of the toys, I’d just as soon we did NOT win the grand prize. I didn’t really think this through until I had already voted, of course.

So, fuego thanks all of you who saw his message in the comments and voted, and I thank the rest of you who didn’t. There’s always a chance we’ll be disqualified anyway. As I said to Zombina and the Skeletones, who gave us permission to use one of their songs, the rules are redolent of lawyer-stink and somewhat contradictory.

Zombie infestation at Little Café Near Home!


fuego and Soup Boy plan the first shot.

The other day fuego was poking around online when he discovered a video contest. The contest is sponsored by the company that makes some sort of shower gel, so the videos are to show people who are dirty getting clean again. This particular shower gel advertises heavily in magazines like Maxim, which is essentially Playboy for illiterate wimps. Right away, then, it is safe to assume that the winning videos will have sexy women in them.

fuego and Soup Boy put their heads together and came up with a storyboard. In the story… zombies! I don’t think they even knew it was Zombie Month. Soup Boy scored a fairly high-end camera and rounded up the cast while fuego recruited an accomplished makeup special effects artist and got a production assistant in the bargain. I set to work trying to get permission to use interesting zombie-worthy music.

The first bit of shooting was at a castle an hour’s drive outside of Prague, and it was just the three of us. This weekend it was time to get the shots with the zombie babes. I held the ideal table at the Little Café Near Home while the makeup guy went to work on the actresses. It created quite a stir when the first two arrived at the vanguard of the film crew, staggering in with a shuffling zombie gait. They looked… dead. (A little too dead, I thought. This shot is supposed to be after the miraculous transformation wrought by the shower goo, leaving the girls looking only slightly dead.) The girls came over and greeted me by name, which surprised the other customers, who are used to me just sitting in my corner and working.

The crew invaded and began to set up. fuego echoed my concern about the makeup, but when you get a major guy in the biz working for you voluntarily, you don’t complain too much. I tried to be helpful, which for the most part meant staying out of the way. fuego enjoyed calling out (in Czech), “OK, look dead, people!” After a few takes it was over, and the crew packed and left, off to shoot the dirtier (and more risqué) “before” scenes. Alas, some of the zombie babes were shy, so as a nonessential male I was not invited on set for the lingerie portions of the shoot. Oh, well.

Yesterday I got a message from fuego. Sure enough, the zombie babes need to be cleaner for the “after” shot. Tonight, the Zombie Babes will strike again! Watch out!

Odds and Ends

I should mention that I have the cover story over at Piker Press this week. It’s set in the Tin-Caniverse, a neighborhood of the Science Fiction multiverse in which a few laws of physics have been suspended for being inconvenient. It’s the first in the series told in the third person, and the continuity issues between this and the previous installments I chalk up to conflicting memories. We won’t consider that one person is remembering something before the other person experiences it. In fact, in this case we can temporarily reinstate relativity to make traveling faster than light a form of time travel, explain away the problem, and then put that pesky law of nature back in the drawer.

I’m pretty happy with the story, but reading it now that it’s been published, I think I left a little on the table. No such worries about my story that will be published over there during zombie month. Zombie Month! Where have you been all my life? I’ll let you know when my modest submission is up; it’ll be a few weeks, yet.

I’ve settled on my NaNoWriMo story, but I really don’t know what I’m going to do with the idea. It’s a comedy based on the statement “When math is outlawed, only outlaws will do math.” In a world where governments willfully keep the populace ignorant, what would a revolutionary look like? It’s got lots of possibilities. I picture street gangs that hang out in ‘math houses’, leaving elegant mathematical clues how to find them scrawled on walls throughout the city. I think I’ll start with a scene where during a police raid the protagonists must convince the cops they were only doing drugs, and that the drugs were obtained through sanctioned sources.

This morning I put out a new release of Jer’s Novel Writer. The last version had a bug that only happened to users installing the software for the first time. Not good, and of course none of my usual testers were going to catch something like that. I’m not exactly sure how long the bad code was in there, but the problem manifested most obviously in the last release. I wonder how many odd problems people have been having over the past months were caused by the bug. Ai, ai, ai.

On Monday What’s-Her-Name sent me a message asking if I was free. I haven’t seen her since her brief tenure as a bartender at Little Café Near Home. My phone and I don’t really get along, though, and I didn’t see the message until about an hour ago – three days late. Somewhere, the capricious gods of telecommunications are laughing.

Finally, do any of you remember reading an episode about the Awkward Bowling League? I wrote it a couple of weeks ago, and now it’s… gone. There’s no sign of it. I was going to write a follow-up, and I wanted to read the original first and link to it. I’m just wondering if it vanished before or after you guys got a chance to read it.

[Late Addition!] Five cover letters tonight. I just have to assemble the parts, and I’m caught up. Got a smiley-face infested message from What’s-her-Name, so that’s cool. Getaway Cruiser is playing some good noise into my head right now. Things could be worse.

Karlovy Vary Film Festival, Day 7

There was a minor hullaballoo surrounding the screening of David Lynch’s new movie Inland Empire, so perhaps it was the European premiere or something like that. Then again, maybe not. I did score a free T-shirt out of the deal, whatever the reason.

One thing about staying up to watch the campy movies at midnight, coming home and writing, then getting up in the morning to score the next batch of tickets: there isn’t much time for sleeping. So it was that we arrived at the screening armed with Coca-Cola and sandwiches, mentally preparing ourselves to become one with our seats.

I’m not the biggest David Lynch fan to start with, and this movie did not substantially move my opinion of him in either direction. fuego said it best: “The thing is that he almost makes sense, so you keep watching, thinking it’s about to come together.” Well, that’s not exactly what he said, but it’s close. At the end of this one, something significant has happened, and there are some people who are happier than they were, others not.

I got the feeling at some points, however, that the creative process went something like “Hmm… this part is tedious. Let’s put the actors in rabbit suits so people will be confused rather than bored.” It’s a sort of sleight-of-hand that shifts the blame for not enjoying the film onto the viewer. Instead of saying “I didn’t like it,” people say of Lynch’s movies “I didn’t get it.”

Quite a few people left early, but I lasted to the end. I fought heavy eyelids for a bit, but by the end I was fully engaged. The movie portrays people living multiple, parallel lives, drifting between them in a lost, confused fashion and intersecting each other in interesting ways (for far too long), and at the end you do get a feeling of resolution, even if you’re not sure just what was resolved.

Overall, I’m glad I went and I’m glad I stayed to the end, but it’s not a movie I’m going to go out of my way to see again.

The rest of the day included an Australian comedy with excellently crafted characters called (I think) Lucky Miles. The description sounds like the beginning of an off-color joke. “An Iraqi, a Cambodian, and a Thai are in the Australian outback…” Hijinks ensue, seasoned with moments of drama. Next came a Czech film titled in English Empties, another comedy that did a great job of mixing in drama. The writer/main actor spoke a few words before the show, and said, “I wanted to show that growing older does not make you any better at life.”

Finally, it wouldn’t be a movie day without zombies. fuego and I had been joking about zombie exploitation and labor laws earlier in the week, and now here was a movie that was about that very subject. It is set in a 1950’s-like American Dream town, with shiny cars and white picket fences. And zombies, of course, fitted with special collars that curb their desire to eat human flesh. The zombies provide a docile and cheap labor force. No one has forgotten the Zombie Wars, however, and marksmanship is an important part of the grade-school curriculum. “Remember, always shoot for the head!”

Overall, it was a good day of movie-watchin’. Only two days left, then it’s back to the real world. Whatever that is.

Karlovy Vary Film Festival, Day 5

It was a good day of movie-goin’, but the midnight showing of Black Sheep took the cake. It was in the largest venue, packed to the gills and then some with an enthusiastic midnight crowd. The movie brought the house down. You can’t argue with zombie sheep. Not in New Zealand.