I apologize if this comes off as disrespectful to Michael Brown or Trayvon Martin. Or their families. Or YOU, the reader. I’m not about that. That’s not why I drew this.
I am just really freaked out that 40% of Americans (and 47% of White Americans) do not think that the killings and violence in Ferguson ‘raise any racial issues.’ Fellow White Persons, this is our chance to learn. This is our chance to change.
When Trayvon Martin was murdered because Full Grown Men in America are frightened to violence by the presence black children, the dialogue turned very quickly into a conversation about gun control.
And gun control is an issue that deserves our attention.
But it won’t change the massive poverty in Black America. The arrest rate. The education statistics. The institutional, systemic, casual, and passive racism that plagues our country.
And it wouldn’t have saved Michael Brown.
Anyway. I’m sorry if this comes off as disrespectful or insincere or preachy. I’m sorry if my execution (or personality) gets in the way of what I’m trying to say. I am an imperfect artist, an imperfect person, and I am, undoubtedly, blinded to a million things by my own glaring whiteness. So this might be… Lord, this might be awful. I’m so sorry if it’s awful. Really.
But. I just keep thinking… Look, my wife is pregnant with our first child. A boy. We’re nervous, we’re excited, we’re SO ANXIOUS because what the hell do you do with babies? WE don’t know. But if we were a black family… in this country… we would be so terrified. Because we live in a nation that murders the children of black parents, puts it on the news WITH RIOTS AND TEAR GAS as decoration, and still half of us don’t even see it as a problem. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine bringing a child into that reality, to face the odds we lay out for black kids?
That would break me. I’ve never known anything like that. No one should ever know anything like that.
So let’s talk to our friends about race. Lets talk to our families. And when actual victims of racism try to tell us what’s going on in, say, a peaceful community protest as they are being gassed and shot at by cops WE SHOULD LISTEN TO AND BELIEVE THEM. Let’s talk to each other about this until we are all on the same page.
And then let’s turn the damn page.
On the very slim chance that you follow me here, but do not follow me on Twitter, I have a podcast now. It is found at this link. It is about a moon detective, and it airs every month. This is the rss feed, which you can add to your podcast application of choice.
You can also find it on iTunes and subscribe that way.
Also airing once a month are behind the scenes/reader mail/whatever the hell we decide to do episodes. They are (or will be, since we haven’t posted one yet) located at the same place as the proper serialized adventure episodes.
I am not very good at audio production, but I am learning as I go and believe me, if you ever chanced to hear rough proof of concept pilot I made, you would notice a pretty fucking big difference between it and the first episode.
Okay that’s all. Let this blog return to silence, at least for now.
Oh man guys, is it time again for another one of these things already? Where does the time go, anyway? Is it spent watching people jump out of space balloons? IT WAS TODAY, EVERYONE TAKE A MOMENT TO APPRECIATE THAT THIS IS A THING THAT HAPPENED AND IT WAS AWESOME.
Okay so anyway, back to horrible people on a boat.
Billy gives another rallying speech on Facebook because I guess that’s what he does now, and then Justin talks about how the CDC put up a website about how to survive a zombie apocalypse, which is a thing the CDC actually did as a joke aimed at people on the internet in order to get them to just take the idea of having a disaster kit seriously, but in this book they were TOTALLY FOR REALSIES—although hilariously in a line that sounds like it came right out of a brochure, Justin says ‘being prepared for zombies will also make you prepared for natural disasters like earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes,’ to which Billy responds ‘No shit, Sherlock,’ which hey, I’ll actually give you that one, Billy, you lit some sick fires, bro.
Then, thankfully(?), we are done with Billy and co. for the time being and we get to go back to Scott Handsome, now joined by his wife and ‘several close friends’ as they sit and watch TV for more news.
A news conference comes on (heralded by Michelle pointing and saying ‘Looks like a news conference or something’) starring the President of the United States himself! Who is I assume supposed to be some kind of Obama/Bush blend, or maybe just Obama, whatever who cares. The first thing we’re told is the President is ‘relying on a teleprompter’ to give his speech ‘as usual’ so uh, okay I guess this is a shitty President whoever he is.
The President explains the situation, urging people to not get all caught up in the AAAAGH ZOMBIES thing, stating that ‘There is a logical explanation for this outbreak…and you can rest assured that we will find it,’ which sounds like the sort of thing I’d want to hear I guess. Except then he doesn’t actually provide a logical explanation, just goes on to talk about finding a cure for the infection (which I guess we are either supposed to assume that he’s skipped the part where he explains it is a virus, or maybe just assumed everyone was up to date on things).
Anyway the President declares martial law, saying that everyone should barricade themselves in their homes in order to stay safe and since Congress happened to be in recess (or at least is currently absent) he’s ‘issuing executive orders under the emergency powers of the President,’ which I guess is pretty potentially dangerous but hey whaddayagonnado, there’s zombies running around fucking shit up. What, you wanna wait for a vote? NO. YOU WANT THERE TO BE GUNS AND SHIT PUTTING THE ZOMBIES DOWN. And so all the National Guard gets called up, and the military ‘is… deployed throughout the nation to defend you,’ which, so far so good. Then ‘looters will be shot on sight’ WAIT WHAT REALLY? Uh, o…okay there buddy, I mean I guess looting is a pretty big problem during an apocalypse… oh, and ‘Acts of violence will be met with deadly force,’ which okay I can buy that one that is a little less overtly batshit than WE WILL SHOOT ALL LOOTERS.
The President then goes on to say that ‘your government will protect you…Do not panic…Do not try to go to a hospital….You are safer staying at home. Help will come to you as soon as possible.’ Which, okay. This is actually pretty good advice, assuming that the military isn’t a shambles. Assuming the military can contain the threat (and there’s a lot of military stationed in all states, so they could move fairly quickly assuming they do their job), barricading yourself indoors and waiting for help is actually a pretty solid strategy. And anyway it’s partially the President’s job to give hope/succor to people who are, mostly, completely fucked. That’s what you want to say. Oh, and Air Force One is just going to keep flying as long as it can, because that’s the best way to prevent infection among the President and his staff (which is the same thing that Scott Handsome is doing, except in a plane rather than on a boat). This way the President can stay in command of this whole mess, which is probably for the best. You gotta assume that the whole government turning into ravening zombies is not good for the country’s psyche.
Then there’s some stuff about how they’ll totally find a cure and distribute it for free and share it with other nations, and this is ‘the greatest mission of my life’ now, and that ‘My administration will provide all of you with everything you need to survive this crisis and rebuild a better and stronger America,’ which I don’t think any actual president would actually say. The Government, certainly, but ‘my administration?’ This is pretty obviously put in for reasons which will become clear later. The Prez signs off after saying that he’ll provide another update in 24 hours (just like Billy and his radio that he doesn’t know how to use! Billy is like the President, except shittier at his job!) and to ‘Trust in God and your government’ which is exactly the sort of Presidential shit you expect to hear in a crisis.
Then Fox Rusher(!) appears to recap the speech for us, and ACTUALLY RECAPS THE SPEECH IN THE BOOK EVEN THOUGH WE JUST READ IT, HOW AMAZING IS THAT? And then Scott turns it off because he’s going to go on just the GREATEST FUCKING RANT, but alas we’re out of time for this week so you’ll have to wait for that particular turd until next week. It’s some good shit, let me tell you. You’ll enjoy it.
Well, as much as you can enjoy any of this crap.
So last week Billy watched a Bro-down get organized at his friend’s Malibu mansion (in a zombie outbreak, it helps to at the very least have parents who are rich as fuck, or to be rich as fuck yourself, because then you can afford to have Malibu mansions with gates to keep poor people/zombies out) and then, in a fit of I guess optimism(?) promised his bros that he would totes take his dad’s helicopter out and save them. Then he felt all good for at least pretending that his friends were not going to be overrun by zombies (please let them get overrun by zombies) and noticed that all his other bros on the boat seemed to have a severe case of the sads.
Mitch informs Billy that his friends (we’re told that Mitch ‘had a whole different set of Facebook friends from home,’ because Mitch is apparently from Oregon) are probably all dead—he has one friend who is holed up in Portland, but his other friends aren’t responding and neither are his parents (question: Why weren’t Mitch’s parents invited on the cruise? Was the barrier for entry really so high? Scott invited his fucking contractor, for fuck’s sake!). Mitch’s take on the whole situation is an eloquent ‘This just sucks.’ Yes it does, Mitch. Yes it does.
Beth, meanwhile, is also pretty sure her parents are dead, because they sent her an email that morning saying their flight was canceled and have failed to send any kind of follow up for like five hours. Of course this doesn’t mean her parents are definitely dead, because by now there’s probably not a whole lot of internet access left (we are assuming here that there’s a certain amount of chaos and damage to the country’s infrastructure. Given that all descriptions of roads seem to involve lots of car wrecks, I’m willing to bet there’s some service outages. Shit, my fucking internet is spotty and there’s no fucking zombie apocalypse going on). This is pointed out by her boyfriend Justin, who is sure to call her ‘baby’ to emphasize that they are in a relationship because that is what everyone in this book does.
Billy and Mitch exchange a glance ‘and shook their heads’ in what is probably the best scene in this whole book, basically acknowledging that no, her parents are probably fucked, while Beth sobs into Justin’s manly chest and stoically bears her grief because that is what Men Do. But deep down he’s really sad.
Justin asks what Billy found out, and Billy tells everyone about how their Cal Tech friends are probably worm food, but then points out that hey at least his bros in Malibu are going to be okay! Then for some reason he tells everyone that he’s totally going to save them using the helicopter.
‘“Say what?!” exclaimed Mitch,’ echoing my own response to this entire book. Justin gets super pumped, because he also knows all the people from Malibu, and can I just say that I really feel like Mitch is getting shafted in this story? All his friends and parents are dead, and stuck in Oregon, but hey at least Billy’s going to save all his real friends! Billy, you’re a dick.
So of course Mitch rains on the parade by pointing out that Billy was really in no position to make any kind of promises re: helicopter rescue, and Billy insists that he’s ‘got a hunch’ his dad will want to go to Malibu, because his dad’s friends are all there too. Billy insists that he had to give his Malibu bros some hope, which in a just world would all but guarantee that Billy fails and has to read the increasingly panicked and angry tweets from his bros (‘YOU LET US DIE, BILLY! YOU LET US DIIIIIIIIE! WE’RE NOT BROS ANYMORE!’), but whatever, they’re probably going to mount a helicopter rescue.
And hey, Justin also thinks that the idea of a helicopter rescue is ‘brilliant’ and they should ‘make it happen!’ so hey, at least he’s on board (he then advises Beth to ‘Hang in there baby,’ because I don’t know, I guess Beth is really taking this hard? I think it was just an excuse to have someone call a woman baby again). Billy goes back to looking at Facebook and sees that a bunch of Malibu bros are now totes on board with the ‘hole up in a mansion and get rescued by a helicopter’ plan, and feels proud for helping ’to create a survival community of his own friends from high school,’ which like… it was getting put together before you chimed in, Billy, stop taking credit for shit you didn’t do. You asshole.
Billy feels the need to make another post to the group so he still feels relevant, and tells his bros to have a radio ready so that he can send them messages at sundown (which is a thing right out of Walking Dead, which is another (slightly less shitty but still shitty) zombie thing I am sure we all know about). Except he doesn’t pick a channel to broadcast on or in fact know which radio equipment to use! Billy is full of useful ideas that he has no fucking clue how to implement, isn’t he? Fuck you, Billy. You’re the goddamn worst.
That’s all for this week! Next week we’ll wrap up the Facebook saga and get a MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT. I’m sure it will be great (it will be horrible).
I thought things couldn’t get any fucking worse than what we saw last time, but I just didn’t know how deep this guy was willing to dig to really bring some sentences that would make my head hurt.
So when we last left Billy and his friends, they were checking Facebook and read the last posts of some girl who probably is dead by now. Billy felt kind of bad about that, because it’s fucked up to watch people die in real time! But of course he is not going to step away from the computer, because there might be more people he can watch die (or at least lose contact with the outside world)! Billy is a shithead.
But hey it’s not all people dying, there are some friends of Billy’s in Malibu who seem to be doing okay, because whatever, the virus isn’t there yet. Brad Thomas (which is a pretty bro name—and well deserved) sets off to rescue Amanda Steinbeck, along with his buddy Shawn Smith (incidentally, both Brad and Shawn apparently are gun owners! How fortunate!), and ‘things are getting freaky’ so they decide to rally at Brad’s parents’ McMansion, which is ‘plenty big enough and it’s gated’ plus Brad’s dad is out of town so ‘We’ll have an Apocalypse party’ and presumably CRUSH some Natis.
Billy gets super excited about these guys being okay, and figures they will do great against the zombies because they played a lot of ‘D&D, paint ball and air soft war games…during high school.’ Which, I mean…
No. We won’t even bother. I grant that using paintball guns and airsoft might make you slightly more used to shooting a gun, but they’re really completely different, really. The balance, the amount of kick…
There is no way in hell that being able to hit a target with a paintball gun means you would be able to dome zombies, is basically what I’m trying to say. As to how D&D would ever possibly translate to zombie killing skills, well…
I have no fucking clue. I don’t. This is so fucking dumb.
ANYWAY Billy decides to leave a message saying that they’re all on a boat near Mexico and it’s cool they’ll try to come past Malibu and pick them up because ‘My dad has a helicopter,’ which like… again, unless their McMansion is right on the coast I don’t see that helping them out a whole lot. But whatever, Billy admits to himself that he was just trying to give his bros hope.
The response is ‘See ya when ya get here. And don’t waste time doing it. We’ll kick zombie ass till then. Later bro.’ BECAUSE OF COURSE YOU ARE GOING TO SAY ‘LATER BRO,’ OF COURSE THESE GUYS CALL EACH OTHER BRO. I know, I shouldn’t stereotype, but NOBODY WHO PLAYS D&D WILL EVER REGULARLY CALL ANYONE BRO WHO IS NOT THEIR ACTUAL BROTHER.
So then Amanda chimes in and asks Billy for advice (for some reason) and he responds with basic advice that I’m sure his bros already knew (like shoot them in the head, take care of one another, stay together) and promises that they’ll have a helicopter even though ‘Billy couldn’t be sure he’d be allowed to use the helicopter to save his friends.’ He signs off with ‘Hang in there and good luck,’ which I guess is better than ‘Later bro,’ but ONLY SLIGHTLY. Billy posts the message and feels better about himself, and then notices that his buddy Justin and Beth (remember these guys? They are the not-Mitch people who just kinda showed up, said ‘yo we want to look at computers too’ and then never did anything else) look sad. Mitch also looks sad. Everyone’s sad, especially Beth who is crying because the guys don’t cry only the girls cry.
AND THAT IS WHERE WE STOP FOR THIS WEEK. Next week: We find out why Beth is crying and the others look sad, plus Mitch continues to be the smartest person in the room (which is pretty easy to do).
Oh my god I want to destroy everything about this chapter and I’m only three pages in, guys. It is utter shit. On the other hand, we get new characters! So buckle up, here we go.
Picking up where we left off (i.e. Scott Handsome suggesting the kids get on that Twitter he’s heard so much about), we are introduced to a couple of kids who aren’t really kids because they are ‘engineering students at Cal Tech’ who were pretty curious about the internet not working but now they know why. Their names are Mitch Franklin and Billy Allen (presumably the Flash’s less-cool cousin). Also Billy is Scott Handsome’s son. I forgot about that (nobody cares).
The two discuss whether or not they should panic (no seriously) and decide that no they are safer on the boat than they would be otherwise, so no, they won’t panic (They also agree that it was best that the internet was blocked because ‘We would have freaked out if we saw that stuff on You Tube, you know?’ Because that is totally how the kids these days talk). However they also figure that ‘everyone we know back home and at school are totally fucked!’ which isn’t true because we’ve been getting regular updates about Carl and it is probably likely there are other survivors. Billy declares ‘I’ve gotta check my email and Facebook, man’ because ‘we could have missed something important.’ Like a zombie apocalypse I guess?
Mitch thinks Billy is stupid (I agree, but that’s because everyone in this book is stupid) for wanting to check Facebook like the posts are going to go anywhere any time soon—but really if we’re looking at a breakdown of infrastructure I’m willing to bet that the internet would go down pretty quick, right? Billy responds that while the messages might still be there ‘the people who posted it might not be,’ and then goes on about all the reasons people might not be in front of their computers, up to and including the fact that they could be ‘a God-damned zombie by now,’ which doesn’t make any sense! The messages will still be there regardless of the status of the person who wrote it! So Mitch still has a point and Billy really is pretty fucking stupid.
But whatever, it’s time to meet Justin and his girlfriend Beth, who are friends of Billy. And they want to go to the Internet Cafe and check Facebook as well, because ‘This is some freaky shit, man’ and ‘maybe we’ll find more answers to what’s happening on-line’ (how good are all the hyphens, by the way? From God-damned to on-line, this is some old school hyphenation).
So the four log on and Billy pulls up Facebook (which the book notes is loading slowly (it’s not like you’re on a satellite connection or anything)) and ‘leaned forward intently,’ then says ‘eagerly’ that there are lots of posts. Which actually sounds really creepy, right? Like Billy is SUPER EAGER to read these panicked last messages for whatever reason. Billy is an asshole, is what I’m saying.
Then we get a bunch of posts of people frantically posting things like ‘Kelly Small is alive….Can anyone help me?’ and then a dude clearly tries and fails to help her and Kelly also pretty obviously dies because ‘Kelly Small is scared. It’s been half an hour!’ and then ‘Kelly Small Hello? Christine? Anyone? Someone is pounding on the door! I’m scared.’
Which I mean… It’s a neat idea. I’ll give him that.
But it also would never happen, because I think the odds of people turning to Facebook and taking the time to make their statuses fit the ‘x is ying’ format that people tend to use on Facebook while the world goes to absolute hell is kind of… stupid.
But whatever. There’s also a couple messages from Kelly’s dad who is all like ‘DADDY WILL COME GET YOU’ and then Ben actually has the decency to feel bad for whoever the fuck Kelly is.
NEXT WEEK: A whole new thread of Facebook posts! Aren’t you excited?
Yeah, neither am I.
Oh shit boys and girls, we are back in the saddle and rearing and ready to go, right? Right. Vacation ran a week longer than I intended it to, but that’s okay because that just means you all should be one thousand times more excited about the glorious return of Carl, the Football Field Goal Kicker, than you were before. Let’s dive right into this shit, shall we?
So when we last left Carl, he was puking on the side of the road, having just driven an ambulance through a bunch of bad traffic and corpses (‘Bad Traffic and Corpses’ is the title of my new sitcom about hearse drivers, by the way). So when we pick up with Carl again, he’s still driving, except now he’s in El Segundo, because the PCH was too full of ‘traffic jams and swarming zombies,’ which is a pretty good reason to get off the highway, I guess.
Anyway the ambulance dies, because I’m pretty sure most vehicles stop working after you run over enough things, but lucky for Carl, it didn’t die until he got to ‘a stretch of road without any zombies roaming along it.’ Carl’s a pretty lucky dude! So obviously when he decides to check out the ambulance for anything useful (‘a smart move,’ says our narrator) he finds all kinds of shit, because this ambulance ‘was equipped for more than simply picking up sick people,’ it was also made to… I guess fight fires? Because there’s a fireman’s suit (in Carl’s size! Lucky, lucky Carl!) made out of fabric ‘that would deflect all but the sharpest zombie teeth,’ because I guess some zombies sharpen their teeth instead of gradually wear them down to nothing what with all that gnawing on skulls and whatnot. Carl also picks up what sounds suspiciously like a D&D Adventurer’s kit (rope, knife, bolt cutters, water, and ‘the paramedics’ uneaten dinner of plastic wrapped sandwiches, sodas, chips, and candy bars’). Carl also finds a fold-up ladder that he decides to take along with him and a rappelling harness. About 40 pounds of gear in all for our man Carl, but fortunately it’s all important gear so he doesn’t have a lot of trouble carrying it.
Carl also takes the pickaxe thing he used to kill the zombie in his windshield earlier, because he’d be pretty fucking stupid not to bring along some kind of zombie killing weapon, let’s not kid ourselves. He spots a water tower in the distance and arbitrarily decides he’s going to walk over to it.
But a zombie attacks! Oh no!
Well not really, Carl just kinda hits it with his axe thingy, but despite gutting the attacker they keep coming! Then Carl finally fucking realizes he’s in a zombie movie and remembers ‘in most zombie movies they could only be stopped by destroying their brains. ”So be it," Carl thought,’ which is another excellent line. I guess I’m in a crappy zombie novel. SO BE IT. Yes, Carl, you are excellent.
Carl notices that his splitting of this zombie’s skull seems to have attracted more zombies, so he sprints for the water tower and, while sprinting, begins ‘to unfold the ladder,’ which is ridiculous. But whatever, the zombies are ‘less than a hundred yards away’ at this point, and are moving ‘faster than Carl thought zombies were supposed to be able to move.’ WELL I GUESS YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE NEW DAWN OF THE DEAD, HAVE YOU CARL? THE ZOMBIES WERE PRETTY FUCKING FAST IN THAT!
Carl realizes that he can’t get the ladder unfolded, because that would take too long, so instead he throws it over the fence (what?) and uses the bolt cutters (oh) to cut through the padlock (wait, wasn’t there a whole commercial series where Masterlock showed how you totally couldn’t use bolt cutters on their padlocks? Nevermind), thanks to a last second surge of adrenaline, which is just dandy. Carl gets through the gate and latches it (without the padlock, obviously), and some zombies start rattling the fence. Carl ‘studied their behavior for at least twenty seconds’ (which really isn’t very long. Twenty seconds is not long enough to even bother mentioning studying behavior beyond ‘well they sure are trying to eat me,’ right? Is that even anywhere close to a study? No. NO IT ISN’T) and then kills them all, then grabs his ladder so that he can get up to the ladder on the water tower.
And that’s where we leave Carl, because this was a really short interlude. I hoped it would be longer, personally, because Carl is about a thousand times less annoying than fucking Scott Handsome, but whatever. We don’t get to choose our main characters, here.
Next week, it’s back to the boat! Oh boy! I can’t wait.
During experiments on the axons of the Woods Hole squid, we tested our cockroach leg stimulus protocol on the squid’s chromatophores. The results were both interesting and beautiful.
Ed note: Now that you know squid cells like hip hop, here are 14 more facts about cephalopods.
“Yes, I’m the pirate, pilot of this ship / If I get with the ultraviolet dream / Hide from the red light beam / Now do you believe in the unseen?”
Science is SO COOL.
Since there will be no Voyaging with the Dead this week, have some squid cells dancing to Insane in the Membrane instead.
Because I care about you.