Sunday, November 22, 2009

All We Want to Do is Eat Your Brains

Before I begin, I'd like to say that I write surprisingly more often than this blog would indicate. One of my most recent works was for the Zombie Defense Class I taught for my job with housing. That's right, I technically got paid to talk about how to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse. More astute readers may recall I mentioned this briefly in one of my earlier updates last semester. All in all, this presentation was 100% better than the one I gave last year. I had a powerpoint guiding me so I didn't stumble around as much (if I can ever figure how to post attachments, I will post it here). The preparation for the event was much better, so thank you to whoever made the Zombie banner to put in the lobby. Also, the event itself was much better publicized (because I made sure to put the flyers up more than 2 days in advance). Finally, I want to give a shout out to Melissa, for making brain-shaped sugar cookies. Truly, those were delicious brains.

More surprising was the fact that over 40 people showed up (compared to 8 or 9 last spring). But the biggest surprise of the night was what happened after the lecture. Last year, I decided to include a showing of Shaun of the Dead to try and attract some of the movie enthusiast crowd (little known fact: everyone will stop at an event which has free drinks and a movie). The ploy worked because 2 or 3 people showed up just for the movie. However, this year the opposite happened. Of the 40 people who showed up, only about 6 stayed for the movie. So, all in all, I'd have to say the Zombie Defense Class was a wild success. Thank you to everyone who came out. For those of you who didn't come, here is a sample of the presentation- the handout that was distributed to every table.
Zombie Defense Class

Survival Tips

1. Stick with a group and remained organized. Loners never last long in the zombie apocalypse. In fact, zombies come to expect survivors to travel in groups. After all, they say “Braaaaaaiiiiiinnnssssssss”, not “Braaaaaiiiiiiinnnn”. Stick with your RA and you stand a much better chance of survival.

2. A zombie avoided is worth a dozen zombies defeated. A single zombie is never much trouble, but you are in for a quite a challenge if you attract the attention of the zombie horde.

3. If you can hear them, they’ve already heard you. By the time you hear the telltale cry of “Braaaaaiiiiinnnnssss”, it means the zombie has already seen you, created an event titled “Eating Your Brains” on Zombie Facebook, and invited all his friends to it.

4. Zombies are lazy but persistent. Zombies are notoriously lazy. Zombies shuffle everywhere they go and even if they get someone’s brain, they never finish it. However, a zombie will viciously hunt you down at a leisurely pace for miles.

5. You have to rest, they don’t. The only thing harder than surviving the zombie apocalypse is surviving the zombie apocalypse is surviving the zombie apocalypse while tired. Though the zombies never stop their vicious leisurely shuffle, rest is absolutely essential. When you’re tired, you are more likely to make a careless mistake and become part of the All You Can Eat Brain Buffet. When you need to rest, find some place that offers a measure of security against the zombies.

6. No place is safe, only safer. During the zombie apocalypse, you need to find a defensible place and stay there. However, no place is safe forever and you always need to be planning your next move.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Concert Reaction

All right, I have a ton of subjects I want to talk about, but rather than cam them all into one unreadable update, I'm going to be making a series of smaller updates (which is the entire point of a blog that I can't seem to grasp). For those of you who are eager to know what's coming up, I'll be talking about the Styx/REO concert I went to, the Zombie Apocalypse lecture I gave (which over 40 people attended!), fantasy football (it's like gambling but legal), some of my other misadventures, and a few of the video games I've played (except for the very sassy, very fine honeys who no doubt frequent this blog. For you, I will be discussing the many sensitive poems I write displaying my emotional depth and sincerity and entire non-borderline obsession with guns, guitars and swords. Because that's not me).

First I want to discuss the concert because that is most recent and most likely to be forgotten when I inevitably put this off for two weeks. The opening band was an act called "Night Ranger", and they were the 1980s personified. They had the big blond hair and their first song involved was called "We're gonna rock! (Tonight! Woman!)" and involved them playing over-the-top guitar solo with periods of shouting "Tonight!" and "Woman!" interspersed. Then in the middle of that song, they start playing Highway Star for some reason. I'm not making it up. I'm listening to the fourth guitar solo of the song and I start thinking "This is pretty catchy... and familiar". I ask Bean, who went with me, if he noticed a similarity between this solo and the one in Highway Star. Night Ranger decides to remove all ambiguity from the question and sings the opening verse of Highway Star before going back to "Tonight! Woman!". It was a very disorienting experience. But all in all, I really like Night Ranger as an opening act. Not because of any musical proficiency, but because they reached a strange self-awareness of how great a parody they are of 80s rock. At one point during the show, they played the song "Keep Rockin' in America", in which the lead guitarist was flanked by American flags and they showed off a Stars & Stripes version of the band's logo. The only way they could be more 80s was if they had spelled the name "Nite Ranger".

Next up was the main event, REO Speedwagon, the masters of the power ballad. I am a recent convert to REO's music and I was pleased with their performance. They played most of my favorites (Riding the Storm Out, Roll with the Changes, Take It on the Run) and had a very good pace to their show. The music was skillfully performed and nothing too unusual happened. It's not that I was underwhelmed by REO, but Styx's performance was so strange that I feel REO's consistent and predictable (but still very awesome) show does not need further mention.

Styx was just a bit unusual at times during their concert. They played all of the famous Tommy Shaw (or totally cool) Styx songs- Blue Collar Man (my personal favorite), Renegade (which I got an awesome t-shirt for), Too Much Time on My Hands. They also played the Dennis DeYoung (or mind numbingly painful) classic- Come Sail Away. For the record, there is only one good version of Come Sail Away, and it is by Eric Cartman:

But the first odd thing was a cover song Styx did. This was no ordinary cover, it was a cover of "I am the Walrus" by the Beatles. It was skillfully done but still a very puzzling addition. Personally, I've always held a bit of a grudge against the Walrus, because I like things that make a lick of sense, or at least try to. But of course, Beatles fans will point out this critical flaw in my argument- "Goo goo ga joob". However, their keyboardist, who Wikipedia tells me is Lawrence Gowan, was just plain strange. Before punishing us with Come Sail Away, he decided to do a sing-along portion of the show. Yeah, you read that right, a sing-along portion. But not to any Styx or REO songs, no. He literally started off with the Rolling Stone's Ruby Tuesday. Then he chastised the audience for not singing better. I'm sorry I disappointed you, Mr. Gowan, but I didn't really prepare to sing Rolling Stones going into the evening. I was kinda hoping we'd do Renegade some time, is that cool? Finally, in the middle of Renegade, they had this really odd ten minute break to introduce themselves. I do not begrudge an artist his right to be known, but in the middle of the penultimate song is too late for introductions. We know who you are by this point, now get back to Renegade, dang it! And Lawrence Gowan had to weird me out by following the band members around and taking polaroids of them with one of those old instant developing cameras. It was very strange.

That said, it was Styx's birthday and they had the original bassist come out. They gave him a purple birthday cape. In a related story, I am now taking every reasonable measure to acquire a birthday cape. Finally, they ended with the reason for the tour, the song "Can't Stop Rockin" by both bands. And I mean both bands. When all was said and done, there were six singers, nine guitarists, and a drummer.

All in all, I'd say it was a great evening.