Monday various

  • It occured me to yesterday, as I was musing on story ideas, that there’s something amiss with the “zombies” of movies like 28 Days Later and its sequel. This isn’t a problem that extends, necessarily, to the human flesh- or brain-eating variety you see it many other films, but it is something to look out for. In 28 Days Later, the monsters are not, strictly speaking, zombies at all, but humans infected with a rage virus. It provokes them into doing nothing but destroy and kill, lash out in rage beyond all reason. They’re a little like the Incredible Hulk with an insatiable blood-lust. And yet they never seem to lash out at each other. There’s no in-fighting; in fact, there’s often what looks like cooperative effort. Which doesn’t really make a lot of sense. The friend I discussed this with suggested that maybe the virus is intelligent enough to direct the host’s efforts, to focus its energies on spreading only to the non-infected. And that is a possible explanation. But when the uninfected become scarce, does the virus just switch off temporarily? Does it go dormant, with an accompanying calm?

    Obviously, some of this is for dramatic purposes — would it be at all scary to watch zombies fight amongst themselves? — and it probably requires another viewing of the films in question.

  • Whole Foods’ less than wholesome legal maneuverings has me feeling a little ambivalent about their Top Chef connection — although product placement has always been sort of ridiculous on that show. [via]

    I’m still enjoying Top Chef, by the way, although I think overall I enjoyed last season more. That’s partly because of the contestants, but also partly because of some of the weird challenges and kinks in the format they’ve introduced this time around. Two contestants sent home the first day? A Thanksgiving episode, when the show was filmed over the summer? Still, I find it hard not to get caught up in it week to week. I studiously avoid reality television, but this is the one exception.

  • Translations are interesting things. The German translation of Warren Ellis’ novel Crooked Little Vein, for instance, is apparently God Bless America. That’s a little weird, though apparently par for the course with German reprints, and it is a great cover. The Spanish version is Torturous Path — closer, but still a little off. I’m reminded of the joke that says the phrase “struck dumb,” when fed through a English-to-Russian translator and back, becomes “beaten senseless.”

    I wasn’t in love with the book, I must admit, when I read it a few months ago. It felt a little like Ellis warmed over at times. Already, vast swaths of the plot and characters are forgotten — poof! — from my brain.

  • So apparently, people lie about the books they’ve read to impress others:

    For all the talk of our superficial obsession with beauty, it looks like underneath it all we know that brains contribute to sex appeal too.

    This seems like old news to me — although outside of a classroom, I don’t think I’ve ever lied about reading something. (And even then, I never felt good about it.) I was reminded of this 2001 Slate article, discussing the classics that academics often skip:

    In his novel Changing Places, David Lodge describes a literary parlor game called “Humiliations” in which participants confess, one by one, titles of books they’ve never read. The genius of the game is that each player gains a point for each fellow player who’s read the book—in other words, the more accomplished the reader, the lower his or her score. Lodge’s winner is an American professor who, in a rousing display of one-downmanship, finally announces that he’s never read Hamlet.

    I’m mildly embarrassed by some of the books I haven’t read — I have read Hamlet — but I like to think I’m above lying about it, even to impress women.

  • James Frey, the discredited author of A Million Little Pieces — you remember? The man who betrayed Oprah’s trust — is writing a third book of the Bible. Oh yeah, this will end well.

6 comments to Monday various

  • The virus theory definitely was problematic. My guess is that the virus altered perception enough that non-infected would have been enticing – perhaps pheromones? I’m not sure. If they’d attacked each other, it would have taken care of the problem nicely…you’d just have to sit in a closet for a while and let them eat each other. I think that would get old pretty quickly – zombie on zombie violence doesn’t sound as compelling.

    I did read Hamlet, and it wasn’t all that great. Now, Zombie Hamlet – THAT would be interesting. ‘Alas, poor Horatio – I knew him well, and I didst feast upon his brains.’

  • Fred

    “Is this the end of zombie Shakespeare?!”

    I don’t remember disliking Hamlet, although we were for whatever reason forced to memorize the “To be or not to be” soliloquy. I can recite it from memory to this day. It’s the example that gets cited above, I assume, because just about everybody’s read it.

  • I just realized it would be ‘alas, poor Yoric…’

    I think there was a decent movie adaptation of Hamlet a few years ago. But Zombie Hamlet – that would be great. Truly great.

  • I’ve wondered that about the zombies, myself. Maybe they just don’t find each other appetizing or something.

    There is apparently a book called How to Talk about Books You Haven’t Read, and every time I see it, I feel baffled. Why not just read the book you want to talk about? *scratches head*

    Anyway, I have read Hamlet. Twice. And loved it. But I have to admit that it would be even cooler with zombies.

  • Victor

    Oh, man, I was JUST reading something about zombies, and how we’re moving to fast zombies because the original George Romaro-style slow zombies were a representation of the creeping effects of Communism, and blah, blah, blah, but Communism is no longer a threat, so now zombies represent something else. And now I have NO IDEA where it was that I was reading that, or I would link you to it.

  • I think I read that, too. Perhaps zombies are now a reflection of the economy…? “Oh, la, la, la, I have a nice job and a decent retirement pla…RAWWWWR!!! HARMANZ!!!!!!!!! BRAINZZZZZ!!!!!”