Wednesday, December 28, 2005


That is, in essence, the post, but since I've got some time to kill, allow me to elaborate.

Since as long as I can remember, I've been continually subjected to version after version of the Christmas Carol. Many is the memory of smiling as the classic tale appeared on the screen of my tv during the holidays. I have, however, equally as many memories of cringing in despair as a horrible cartoon version of the tale began, and my memory has only unclouded some of the horror and despair felt as Tiny Tim limped his way onto the screen in these versions, with a squeaky voice and smiling face in which you are contractually obligated to love. I don't remember loving him, liking him or even barely standing him. I do remember a long drawn out scream as I clawed my way deep into the Christmas tree, begging it to be over...but let's not dwell on such things. Let's dwell on the incredible, ney, epic number of versions of this tale, so you, the potential victim, can shield yourselves from the depth of the darkest pit of rasselberry dressing...

Scrooge (1970):

In my opinion, this is the overall best version of the Christmas Carol. I don't know why I always feel the need to start with the best, only to descend slowly into the dark, painful grip of 'he who shall not be named' (I can hear the clank of his crutch approaching even now...), but I might as well go with it. This version is a musical, but the songs are mostly enjoyable, and include ones that anyone with a television might find themselves humming. I won't bore you with details such as actor names, but needless to say the cast was all quite good, although Scrooge was a bit generic, it takes a little while to get started, and Tim had a horrifying 'Oliver from the Brady Bunch Quality'. The most memorable part of the movie is not the scenes, but the characters, as the version gives life to often overlooked characters such as the debtors to Scrooge, the wife of Scrooge's nephew, and Scrooge's ex-fiancee. Also, this is one of the few versions which goes to lengths to show that Scrooge honestly believes he's a good person, and that it's as much ignorance as it is greed that taints his heart. Overall the songs were very memorable, the plot and cast were good, Scrooge had great chemistry with Jacob Marley and the ghost of Xmas present, the debtors rousing chorus of 'thank you very much' is fantastic, and the scene in hell, which is usually ommitted from the television version, gives a unique glimpse as to what awaits Scrooge in the afterlife, with Jacob Marley snickering all the way. Oh, and the Scrooge redemption scene at the end is so delightfully over the top that there's no way not to love it.

Scrooge (1951)

Far more dramatic then its counterparts, this b&w British version holds just the right amount of comic relief as well. Unlike the previous entry, this version is not a musical, and includes a few of the more serious scenes which are usually ommitted from the original screenplay. Scrooge is magnificent, providing a far more realistic and tragic figure then the musical, as his suffering seems far more genuine, revealing how a man could become as dark a figure as Scrooge. That being said, this version is also a bit perplexing, as the poor and destitute Cratchett family...doesn't seem very poor and destitute. That's a fairly nice house you live in Bob. Is that a painting on the wall? Well, you've certainly done all you possibly could to save Tim. I can see how selling the Rembrant would be a step too far. Listen, I hate Tim as much as anyone, but this Tim isn't nearly as annoying as the ones that got songs. Besides the powerful performance by Scrooge, the most memorable aspects of the movie are the often deleted darker scenes of Scrooge's sister dying (complete with her dying wish that he didn't hear, and subsequently didn't follow, helping lead Scrooge onto the path of close-heartedness) and the ghost of christmas present revealing the children of man clutching his legs (from the original story, clothed in rags, the boy is ignorance, the girl is want, beware them both of all beware this boy! whoa). Like the musical, this version portrays Scrooge as ignorant, believing himself to be good, only to find out how evil he truly is. Also included is a scene of his ex-fiancee in the present (a rarity) helping people and having a fulfilled life, and a hilarious scene of Scrooge's maid the next morning, believing him to be completely insane.

Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

This is without a doubt the best Muppet movie since The Great Muppet Caper, as it was not only funny, but also thoughtful and poinant, mostly thanks to a wonderful performance by Michael Caine as Scrooge. Caine's Scrooge is delightfully dry and cold, seething with bitterness and hatred underneath. This version is also fairly accurate, except for the inherent change of making Scrooge a landlord rather than a moneylender, as kids today probably won't understand an independant moneylender. Marley is split into Marley and Marley, so they can be played by both Statler and Waldorf, and they go the extra mile to show themselves as damned. It's kind of weird to imagine Statler and Waldorf damned for all eternity...shouldn't have been mean to Fozzie all those years...huh...ANYWAY! Kermit nails the part of Bob Cratchett (love his shaking), the ghost of Christmas past is delightfully creepy, Christmas present is delightfully strange and future is admittedly generic. The scene where Scrooge's girlfriend leaves him in the past is quite touching, again thanks to Caine's performance, but for some reason the song 'the love is gone' was edited out of the theatrical release, but put into the video release. I guess they figured they'd lose their young audience's attention, which is a shame since it's quite a touching song, ending with Scrooge singing along, showing that after all those years, he still remembered the words. Robin is yet another annoying Tiny Tim, the nephew is as generic as ever, and I have mixed feelings about Gonzo constantly interrupting as narrator along with Rizzo, but the scene where Scrooge goes to the Cratchett home after his redemption is classic. Is thirteen years long enough ago to be considered classic? Anyway, Michael Caine is god. That's not a typo. I didn't mean to type good, I meant god. The fact he steps over Tiny Tim's "God Bless Us Every One" line (or GBUE1 as we call it in the business) makes him god and a half.

Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)

First of all, Mickey’s barely in this. Calling it Mickey’s Christmas Carol is to suggest that Bob Cratchett is the main character. This aside, this is a remarkably good portrayal of the Christmas Carol, and unlike the other movies, they manage it in only 25 minutes. This short running length is achieved mostly by cutting out excess scenes and dialog (Mrs. Cratchett, played by Mini, doesn’t have any lines at all), but never does the story seem sparse or hard to follow. Every scene is kept to the point, there are no songs sung by the characters, and by a small mercy from the gods, Tiny Tim barely says anything at all. Also, in some cases less is more, as the graveyard scene is one of the most powerful out of all the versions of the Christmas Carol I’ve seen. Not only do they not beat you over the head with Tiny Tim’s death, but Black Pete is, hands down, the best ghost of Christmas Future of them all. He shows his face, and laughs at Scrooge as he pushes his into the open pit to hell below ('Why it’s yours Ebanezer…the richest man in the cemetary!' All while lighting a cigar. Priceless). Difinitive? No, but to the point and enjoyable. It wouldn’t be the only version of the Christmas Carol I’d watch during the holidays, but I’d watch this one as well

Jetson's Christmas Carol (2000)

Not much here, except the fact that Astro is the sick one instead of Elroy, leading to the possibility of Astro dying (strangely believable enough to gain your attention) and of course leading to Astro delivering the GBUE1, which was quite funny.

Flintstones Christmas Carol (1994)

Crap. Oh, is that an attempt at irony Fred? Oh, are you going to learn a valuable lesson? Congratulations Fred, you managed to make a Christmas Carol slightly less lame than the one you completely ripped off...

Mr. Magoo Christmas Carol (1962)

Words fail me. The songs were godawful, and the jokes were lame (the classic Magoo having a hard time seeing actually didn't come up that much). The underworld dwellers selling their ill gotten goods song was okay I guess, but the Cratchett family song is always enough to make me make my yearly attempt to impale myself on the Christmas tree. Laugh if you like, but this Tiny Tim, singing about Rasselberry dressing, is enough to shatter even the merriest holiday soul. I would gladly duel this kid to death with crutches, and damn the consequences! This Tiny Tim is the essence of everything that's horrifying about the part, and I would have every copy destroyed if it were not for one thing! Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol is unique in that when Scrooge sees that he's died, it isn't the fear of death or damnation that causes him to turn. Instead, he sings a somber repraise of the song he sang when he was a lonely kid, "I'm all alone in the world." It isn't the fear of hell or death, but the fact that he dies alone, unloving and unloved that breaks his heart. For him, it's actually meaningless whether or not he lives or dies, or if he's going to heaven or hell. What matters to him is experiencing the most out of life, loving others and being loved himself. This is by far the most existential moment I've seen Scrooge ever have in one of these movies, as we see that although he's a bitter old man, he's still that sad lonely boy. Now that I think of it, Rasselberry dressing be damned, this is better than the Flintstones Christmas Carol (but only by a little bit).

Scrooged (1988)

Not a traditional Christmas Carol, but an effective modern day interpretation, as Bill Murray (who never fails to please) plays a heartless tv executive, hopelessly vain and caring nothing for the needs or suffering of others. As Scrooge normally obsesses over money, Murry instead obsesses over ratings and success. This is once again, like Flintstones and Magoo, an ironic parody, as the executive is producing a live version of Scrooge at the same time. The ghosts are far more bitter and abusive than normal, which adds to the movie's charm, and although it's mainly a comedy, Murray puts heart and soul into the part, showing Scrooge as a believable and human character in a simultaneously funny, edgy and creepy environment (similar to some of his other movies like Ghostbusters, Little Shop of Horrors, and What About Bob). The ending goes much further than expected, as Murray does what no other Scrooge would do, damning the consequences to bring his message of hope and redemption to millions of viewers, with Bobcat literally holding the film crew hostage. Heartwarming and fun, with more than a bit of Murray punch (have you tried staples?) make this a permanent DVD on my shelf, but it'd be a stretch to call it a literal version of the Christmas Carol. Like the Mickey version, it's a nice movie watch along with the Christmas Carol, but not a replacement. Oh, and Tiny Tim is one of the better ones, as he says almost nothing (except the dreaded GBUE1 line), and the scene where Scrooge looks in on him and the family is one of the better ones. If only he said nothing...then we'd really be getting somewhere.

What's that I hear? If you think you know so much about the Christmas Carol, why don't you make one yourself? Hmm.....

-Starts black and then fades into the words, in festive trim, "Max Freeman's Ultimate Christmas Carol".

-Scrooge starts at his television executive job, smiling at himself in the mirror and then showing the board 'his' version of the Christmas Carol commercial. Afterwards he immediately goes back to his office.

-Scrooge's nephew Donald shows up to bring him a wreath and try to get him to come to come to his house for the holidays, only to get kicked out.

-Without any dialog from Gonzo or Rizzo, Bunson Honeydew and Beaker come in to attempt to receive a donation from Scrooge, only to be kicked out. This scene continues on to Scrooge grudgingly (after delivering a great line 'be here at 8:00...but sir, it's Christmas...8:30 then') gives the staff of Kermit and the rats the day off.

-On his way home, Scrooge (1970) collects debts from the people who owe him money, including the puppeteer and the stew salesman. The songs are carefully edited out, since children can't sing worth a damn.

-To build dramatic tension, the scenes of Scrooge in his home, complete with ghosts, is taken from the 1970 musical version of Scrooge, right up until Jacob Marley shows up.

-Marley and Marley show up to torment Scrooge and sing "Marley and Marley", telling Scrooge of their plight and the three ghosts that will visit him. Again all scenes of Gonzo and Rizzo are edited out.

-The spooky ghost from the Muppet Christmas Carol appears before Scrooge.

-The explaination of how looking into the past works, from Scrooged, is used up to the point the action starts between his family members.

-We BRIEFLY see the child version of Scrooge at school sing ONE verse of the song "I'm all alone in the world".

-School finishes out seriously in black and white, and moves directly to the scene of Scrooge's sister dying.

-Fezziwig's is cut out compelely. No need to see the beginning of Scrooge's romance with his girlfriend, really.

-Scrooge talks with his girlfriend at the park as Scrooge (played by Michael Caine) looks on sadly as their love breaks apart. Right before the song, after she says you did once...

-His girlfriend throws her ring in one side of a scale and two coins in the other. She gives the 'if you measure me by gain' line to Scrooge (1970).

-NOW she sings "The Love is Gone".

-The 1970's musical version of Scrooge's Ghost of Christmas present verbally smacks Scrooge around...

-...and the Scrooged Ghost of Christmas present physically smacks him around.

-There's a brief, heavily edited stop to the nephew's house from the 1970's musical.

-There's a brief, heavily edited stop to the Mickey Cratchett home.

-Tiny Tim, much to Bill Murray's surprise, solves the puzzle without a problem, and learns of the boy's plight.

-In black and white, the Ghost of Christmas present shows Scrooge the children of man and crushes Scrooge with a vicious delivery of the 'are there no prisons are there no poorhouses' line.

-Scrooge McDuck is greeted my the mysterious Ghost of Christmas Past.

-The debtors sing 'thank you very much' for Scrooge.

-Scrooge McDuck finds himself at the graveyard, playing out the entire scene ending with him falling into hell.

-In hell, Scrooge finds Jacob Marley, is tormented beyond belief and it's HILARIOUS!

-Before breaking down completely, Scrooge realizes that the worst tragedy is dying alone, never truly experiencing love and human kindness, and sings ONE verse of "I'm all alone in the world".

-Scrooge, wakes up back in Kansas...I mean in black and white, and scares the hell out of his cleaning lady.

-Scrooge runs into Bunson Honeydew and Beaker, donates and receives a gift from Beaker.

-The redemption is right out of the 1970's musical, with only a little bit of editing, right until they get to the Cratchett home.

-Michael Caine is hilarious as he pulls Kermit's leg before revealing his new nature.

-Scrooge quickly goes back to his TV executive job and has a heavily edited (no girlfriend, brother or Tiny Tim) redemption speech. Just as girlfriend would show up...

-Scrooge runs into the debtors and finishes up completely as the musical. Just as he says Merry Christmas to everyone...

-Astro says "Grahd Ress Us Every One!"

Oh, and Tiny Tim's dead. Just heard it on the news. I wasn't there. Ask Amber, I was eating pancakes with Frank. You weren't even there. That isn't my bloody crutch. I mean that isn't his bloody crutch. I mean...GOTTA GO!

Oh and Cyborg Santa 2050, while buzzing over your house at just under the speed of sound, screeches a code in binary that translates through the proper cypher to: HAPPY HOLIDAYS ONE AND ALL!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

What a week! Work was a bit hard, and I kept meaning to watch a certain movie again so that I might comment on it, but I never got around to it. So, despite that many have not yet taken the last test, I present you, with spoiler warning for those that have not taken the test yet:


I was surprised by the initial test results, as everyone seems to have no problem identifying, and properly dealing with, realistic zombies, they have considerably more difficulty with the magical zombies. I'm surprised as I gave enough clues for each, but here are the answers:

First, these are worth 10 points a piece:

1. Surreal zombie: Father's sword (half points for blessed spear)

The fact that it has no head and can still pinpoint you and attack should be enough to let you know that it's a surreal zombie. Weapons with personal significance are best, as mentioned, but a blessed melee weapon that can impale them in place is also an okay choice, worth half credit. Bottom line: nothing can logically survive without a head and still be a threat. (interesting mastermind theory, Frank, five extra bonus points)

2. Classic zombie: Revolver (half points for rifle)

Half eaten and shambling, you can almost hear it say 'brainssssss'. Revolver is the best choice not because it's better than the rifle, but because the rifle is better used elsewhere.

3. Historical zombie: Holy symbol (half points for blessed spear or father's sword)

This one confused some people, but as mentioned these zombies act more like zealots than zombies and are the most likely to be curable. What most of you forgot is "they should not be killed"! You could run them through with a spear, but how is your sanity going to hold up when they turn back to normal before they die? How is it going to hold up when you find out that none of their deaths were necessary? Magic is definitely the way to go, but only the holy symbol might hold them back without harming them.

4. Highly contageous zombie: Rifle (half points for grenade)

Most importantly, you must keep these zombies away. IT's obvious that the victim was not physically harmed by other zombies and turned very quickly (as he's still in his suit). Rifle is the best, as it can be reused, but the grenade also could possibly work...against a small group of them. It's highly contageous though...

5. Gothic zombie: Blessed spear (half points for holy symbol)

This is another one that confused you. They can still talk, are covered in blood and appear to have a state of manic glee. For those that didn't guess, it's a vampire. It isn't a major, powerful vampire, but one of the weaker spawn that are often created by more powerful, elder vampires, so they classify as zombies. For this one, the blessed wooden spear (or stake) would do best. Although the holy symbol might keep it away, how will your sanity hold up if it kills another innocent person in front of you? (oh and for the record, Frank, I didn't say they called your name directly, only that they called to you, but that's still a good point, so +5 bonus points)

6. Experimental weapon zombie: Grenade (half points for rifle or revolver)

Now this zombie's description could also label it as a surreal zombie, but you have to assume the zombie without a head is the surreal, which leaves experimental. These zombies are physically powerful, so you need to do a lot of damage or run as fast as you can. A careful throw of the grenade, followed by a sprint in the opposite direction is your best bet, but otherwise, you should go with powerful firearms.

Now, give yourself 5 extra bonus points if you got all the magical zombies correct (historical, surreal, gothic) and 5 bonus points if you got all the realistic zombies correct (classic, contageous, experimental).

The remaining points are gotten by your condition, after fighting all six of these zombies in order, from 1 to 6. This is where your description of how you fight them becomes important. You have three health points and three sanity points. If you lose all three health, you're dead. If you lose all three sanity, you're insane. How healthy and sane you are also affects how well you fight.

1. If you used your father's sword and cut him to pieces, or you attempted to stake him to the ground, lose no health or sanity. All other answers, lose a point of health (guns and explosives are mostly ineffective), and if you tried the holy symbol, lose a point of sanity as well, as seeing the holy symbol fail might shake your faith (surreal zombies traditionally have to be fought ourselves).

2. If you shot it in the head, lose no health. All other answers they probably got a bite in. If you used the grenade, assume it blew their legs off, but they still kept crawling, since the grenade at their feet probably didn't hurt their brain enough. They then surprise you and get a bite.

3. If you disabled it without killing it, lose no health or sanity. If you used the grenade, it smacks it back towards you with the scythe, lose a point of health (but the expolosion kills it too, and quickly enough that you don't see it die). All other answers it turns human right before dying, and screams "Why?!!!" at you. Lose a point of sanity. (5 points for Frank for inventiveness)

4. If you killed it from a far distance, lose no health or sanity. If you used a grenade without taking cover, lose a sanity, as bits of him reach near you and may or may not have infected you. If you killed it relatively up close, lose a point of sanity, as you can't be sure if you're infected or not. If you're already lost a point of health and you fought it very close (spear or sword) then you're infected, therefore dead. No additional penalty for the holy symbol or revolver, besides the sanity loss.

5. If you killed it with the spear through the heart, or banished it back to the netherworld with the holy symbol, lose no health or sanity. If you used the holy symbol to merely keep it back, lose a sanity as it muches on another innocent person. If you used any other weapon, lose a health.

6. If you used the grenade, or shot for the point of the zombie that looked the most weak, lose no health or sanity. If you're down to one sanity and use a gun, you don't aim well and take a point of damage before killing it. If you used any other weapon, or just shot anywhere (even the head, if you didn't verify that it appeared to be a weak spot) lose a health.

If you have 3 health left, you get 20 points. If you have 2 left, you get 15 points. If you have 1 left, you get 10 points. You get these points even if you're insane, as years of therapy might cure you.

If you have 3 sanity left, you get 20 points. If you have 2 left, you get 15 points. If you have 1 left, you get 10 points. You get these points even if you're dead, as you died in a state of peace.

If you only had 1 health and 1 sanity left, lose 5 points.

To show how it's scored, Frank scored:

First part:
1. 0 (+5 bonus)
2. 10
3. 5 (+5 bonus)
4. 10
5. 0 (+5 bonus)
6. 10 (+5 realistic perfect)

Second part:
1. lose 1 health and 1 sanity
2. -
3. lose 1 sanity
4. -
5. lose 1 health
6. -

1 health and 1 sanity, barely alive and barely sane: 15 points

Total score: 70 points, just made it thanks to bonus points, easily told the difference between realistic and magical zombies, but didn't deal with the magical ones appropriately. PASSED

Today's lesson....SURPRISE MIDTERM!

That's right, now it's time for the midterm. Answer the following questions with open, detailed answers, but not longer than a few sentences a piece. Let's see you what you've learned:

For argument's sake, let's say you live in a city, are currently living alone in an apartment on the second floor of the building that you just moved into, and don't know your neighbors.

1. You just saw on the news that zombies, half eaten, muttering 'brainsss...' have overrun the city, and at that very moment you lose power and water, what is the first thing you do?

2. One of the fellow people in the building is doing something very stupid, or trying to be leader when you know you could do better. What do you do?

3. There are two of each of the items listed in the previous personality test in the building. Which three to you take? What do you do if someone else wants the same thing you want?

4. Surprise! Everyone on the first floor is a zombie, and they're coming up the stairs. There is a fire escape, but they're coming up fast. What do you do?

5. You had to leave the building, as unfortunately its not secure, and one of your negihtbors did something very cowardly or selfish back there at the zombie attack. What do you do/say? What if the leader didn't do a good job? What do you do/say?

6. What if a neighbor killed another neighbor, what would you do? What if one of them was appearing to turn into a zombie?

7. Whoops! Someone just killed an innocent person by mistake. What do you do? What if they didn't seem sorry, or seem unstable?

8. You've piled into one or more cars, and need somewhere to go. The places nearby: the mall (one of your neighbors is the manager of one of the stores), the hospital (one of your neighbors is a nurse), the museum (one of your neightbors is a security guard and has the key), another apartment building where a friend of yours lives (you don't know if they're there), or the airport (one of your neighbors is a pilot). What do you do if others don't agree?

9. What the...? Wherever you went, there's three strange things there! There's a floating, chuckling being that looks exactly like the teacher you hated in the 3rd grade! There's a wailing, bleeding figure wandering randomly in your direction! There's a slug the size of a car moviing remarkably quickly towards you, blocking the exit. What do you do?!

10. The head zombie, wreathed in black flame, wearing a crown of femurs and holding a staff high, offers you a choice: kill your friends and join him, or prepare to die in the most excruciatingly painful death imaginable. What do you do? How do you fight, whatever you choose to fight?

Good luck everyone!

Class dismissed

Saturday, November 05, 2005


Well class, I can see that I didn't get as many responses for the last test, but then again, it was just more or less for fun, so we won't use it for a grade. For those who are interested, here's the breakdown of the order you should eat them:

The most important factors to remember are: usefulness alive, and likelihood to run away on their own. I mentioned that there was food for the animals, so even though the big animals will eat more food, it's safe to assume that feeding them won't be a problem, especially since horses and cows can eat grass.

Most importantly, you should save the two animals that create food on their own for last. The chicken should definitely be the last animal you eat because it can provide an egg for you every day. The cow should be second to last, as it can provide milk, but milk isn't the same thing as food, so it has to settle for second.

The next most useful animal is the dog, as it can guard for you, and will bark when anything strange begins to approach. The next is the horse. Even if you have no idea how to ride one, it can probably fight the zombies, and definitely provide a distraction when you escape. The next is the cat, as it can see in the dark, but again, it might not warn you of an approaching attack.

That leaves the animals that aren't useful, and you should definitely start with the ones that are likely to run away.

The first you should eat is the rabbit (oh come on people, they're giant rats). The next is the monkey (contrary to what you see in movies, unless it's a gorilla, it's really not smart at all). The next you should eat is the ground hog (they can dig). Then you should go on to the ones that probably won't escape, as they'll still be there when you get to them later. You should eat the sheep, and then after that, the turtle.

So here's the final breakdown, starting with what you should eat first (remember, these animals would do the same to you if the situation were reversed):

1. Rabbit
2. Monkey
3. Groundhog
4. Sheep
5. Turtle
6. Cat
7. Horse
8. Dog
9. Cow
10. Chicken

Frank's answer isn't so good I'm afraid, because it kills useful animals early and leaves useless animals until the end. It's not completley bad though, as it leaves the chicken until near the end, but it's still only good for a 70%. I'm afraid you have no companions to prey upo,n Frank.

Today's lesson: Knowing your enemy.

One member of the class, Vincent, said that the school was a viable option for a place to hide, because zombies can't open doors. To that, I say: Are you sure? Velocirapors can open doors, why not zombies? Are you sure the zombies are really that dumb? If they can't open doors, then how'd they get in the room in the first place? Clearly, you need to identify your enemy. Here's what to look for:

1. Appearance.

Most importantly, you must be able to determine on sight if someone has become a zombie or not. Are they decaying? Are they acting very strange and making bizarre sounds? In some movies, it was actually a little difficult to differentiate a zombie and a drunk/injured person. Look for tell-tale signs that the person coming towards you is one of the members of the damned.

2. Behavior.

Do the zombies move quickly or slowly? Do they try to eat their victims alive, or do they attempt to kill them first? How intelligent are they? Can they open doors? Can they use weapons? Before you can create a full plan for dealing with/escaping from the zombies, you must know how they'll react and approach you. Knowing what your enemy is capable of, and how they will react is vital to protecting yourself from them. Also, you might be able to avoid many unnecessary fights if you can use your knowledge of their behavior to avoid them, and not make yourself a target (sometimes it's just as easy as disguising yourself as a zombie).

3. Powers.

Some zombies are little more than nearly dead people, but others are capable of surviving nearly any injury. This also includes any diseases that they might possess, but more on that in a moment. Some zombies also possess nearly magical strenght, and other bizzarre powers including regeneration, flight, mind affecting powers, shapeshifting, and even retaining memories of the person they once were. Never assume that they're just lurching beasts in need of a head shot. On that note...

4. Weaknesses.

An injury to the head is the universal method for zombie killing, but it might not be the only one, and in some situations, head shots may not be effective at all. Try to take note of any fights you've had/seen involving zombies (but don't start one just for this, it'd be a stupid way to die). Also try to find any zombies that have died/have been killed just lying around. If you're fighting them, always aim for the head no matter what, as this will keep them away, obscure their vision, break their jaw and very likely kill them. Take note, however, if any injury will do, or if it needs to be a head shot. Don't discount that they might have supernatural weaknesses, such as sunlight, fire, silver or holy objects, but don't rely solely on any of these either. They may also have a weakness by design, such as they dying if they don't eat flesh, or relying on a hive mind to control them. Remember, finding a universal weakness of the zombies is the first step to killing them all.

5. What causes people to become zombies?

Is it a disease or is it magical? Is there any way to reverse the effects when they begin to change? How quickly is the change into a zombie? Will they change gradually, or will they be perfectly fine one moment and a zombie the next? It might also be possible that no more people can become a zombie than whom all ready have. Don't panic, and try to find external sources of information, including tv, radio and the internet if possible. If they all came from a single location...well, it's your call whether to investigate or not, but gather as much information as you can, and don't abandon your fellow survivor after they're bitten. If it turns out to be a magical spell causing it, you're going to pretty bad for shooting them.

Now, with this information, we can most likely catagorize the zombies into a general type:

1. Classic

Classic zombies move slowly, don't speak except possibly in single word mumbles, attempt to eat people alive, and generally need to be killed by a head shot. Getting bitten by one of these zombies will usually result into a full transformation into the undead. Despite what some movies may show, after the initial shock, the military should have no trouble dealing with these zombies. Movies where zombies such as these destroy the world are rediculous (my god, think of what a zombie would do to a tank, or a jet fighter! How will we survive?!). For these, just find a safe place and wait for help. Essentially, treat it like any natural disaster, and don't panic.

2. Historical

The original zombies weren't actually completley dead, and were living people changed through a dark magic into a zombie slave. These zombies are more like people in a trance, and although they won't be as hard to kill, they can usually carry weapons and think a lot better than your classic zombie. Try to avoid killing, if possible, as they are the most likely type of zombie to be able to be cured, and treat them as you would crazed zealots. Again, the authorities should be able to deal with this, but if not, try to find the puppet master controlling them.

3. HIGHLY contageous zombies

Some zombies are definitely the result of a disease, and can cause you to become a zombie yourself MUCH easier than others. For these, there is virtually no hope of being cured, and becoming a zombie can result from merely getting their spit on you, or breathing near them. Avoid contact with these zombies at all cost, and this may be the rare case that travelling alone might be better than being in a group. These zombies spread their disease very quickly, and finding a safe place might be hard, so get out of there as soon as you can.

4. Surreal zombies

Popular in strange horror flicks and Silent Hill games, these zombies are not necessarily dead people, but possibly surreal manifestations of your subconscious, or even ghostly spectres, or in the worst case scenario, wang monsters (don't ask). These zombies are more similar to monsters and ghosts than traditional zombies, but they usually behave, and are fought, the same way. Be careful, as these zombies are very likely to have strange powers that you might not expect. You don't have to worry about where you attack these creatures, but they don't have any specifiic weakness as well, just keep shooting/hitting them, but weapons/items that have personal significance may be more powerful than normal, as often these demons are meant specifically for you. They most likely won't have a disease, but their nature may take a very large toll on your sanity. Try to keep calm and sane, and like always, don't fight them unless you have to, but unlike the others, you are likely to get no help from the authorities, so be prepared to see this one through to the end...possibly on your own.

5. Government/Corporate weapon project

A governemnt/corporation has developed the ultimate biological weapon. The only difference between this zombie and the others is that the zombies created by biological weapons tend to keep mutating, into larger and more dangerous 'boss' monsters. Expect these zombies to keep changing, and become different and more dangerous creatures for you to face. This is another zombie that is often reversible with an antidote, as the group that created this would have been careful to have one in case they were accidentally infected. In this case, the governemnt may not be able to handle things, and may destroy an entire city in an attempt to stop it, so you have to focus on getting out of there. Don't feel pressed to fight, as the real monsters are hundreds of miles away, reaping profits from the disaster, but if you have to, try to use bigger, more powerful weapons, including explosives.

6. Gothic zombies

Again, these zombies may have aspects of any of the other types, but the main difference is that their weaknesses tend to be more severe and supernatural. Silver, holy objects, running water and fire tend to kill them dead when absolutely nothing else works. They tend to be stronger than normal zombies, but on the other hand, their weaknesses are more pronounced. In certain cases, vampires can be considered zombies for these purposes. Find their weakness and attempt to destroy them with it, as the government's attempts at using guns against them will most likely fail.

Now, for this test, I've decided to shake things up a bit, and see if you can properly identify what type of zombie you're dealing with, and deal with them appropriately, with the correct weapon:


You can only use each of these weapons once:

Holy symbol
Your father's sword
A blessed wooden spear


1. A headless zombie, moving directly towards you.

2. A half eaten zombie, moaning, with his arms outstretched towards you.

3. A cloaked zombie, muttering a single word over and over, holding a scythe.

4. A clean, woundless zombie in a business suit.

5. A smiling, bloody zombie, calling to you, and laughing at you.

6. A zombie that's moving quickly, and whose flesh is throbbing in an unnatural way.

Now, these descriptions might fit more than one type (almost anything will fit surreal), but we're looking for the best type for each, also considering that each has to be used once.

Also, give your reasoning why each weapon would work well for that type of zombie, and how you would use it against them.

Class dismissed.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


My apologies for the lateness class, but I accidentally lost the answers for last weeks test. It took a bit longer, but I did manage to get the answers to the personality test. Now, some of you may get the result asshole/lunatic, but don't get yourself worked up too much. Getting that result doesn't mean you're an asshole. It means you're an asshole OR a lunatic, so cheer up.

Also, you may only be that way when the disaster of a zombie attack occurs. You never know until it happens.

Now, for every answer, you get a point for one or more particular personality types, which will be either: panicked, asshole/lunatic (we'll refer to this as jerk just to be simple), defenseless, survivor, mad prophet, professional, withdrawn or bleeding heart.

In short, at the end the personality type that has the most points is your primary one, then the next is secondary and anything after that are just small aspects of your personality (although you can probably just ignore personality types that only got one point). One last thing: you cannot be both a survivor and a professional. You can believe you are (for question 4), but you either go by the book, or write your own book, you can't do both. We'll go over this a bit more at the end.

Question 1:

If you do nothing, or wait to see what happens: withdrawn, defenseless and panicked (either you're scared or you don't care).

If you take them aside to talk it over with them in private: mad prophet and bleeding heart (either you care about their privacy or you're a little crazy).

If you talk openly about it in front of the group: survivor and professional. (the most logical and wise thing to do)

Shoot them without hesitation: jerk (huh).

Question 2:

If you do nothing, or give a general wishy washy answer like, 'see what happens' or 'see what everyone else thinks': withdrawn, defenseless, panicked.

If you talk calmly about it with the group: professional and bleeding heart.

If you argue about it with the jerk, but don't attempt to replace them: mad prophet

If you argue about it with the jerk, and attempt to replace them: survivor, jerk

Question 3:

Most people are going to choose the cell phone and memento for two of their three items. It's unusual if they didn't, so for these two gain points as follows:

If you didn't choose the cell phone: mad prophet and withdrawn (you must be crazy)
If they didn't choose the memento: survivor and professional (you must be smart)

For the rest, gain the points for each item you chose:

Shotgun: Asshole (a second gun? do you really plan to kill them all?)

Extra Ammo: Survivor, Asshole, Professional (more sense than a second gun)

Keys: Panicked, Asshole (you had them when it all started, and they're YOURS)

First Aid Kit: Professional, Bleeding Heart, Defenseless (useful, but not as much as you might think).

Blanket: Defenseless, Survivor (keeps you dry and warm, and can be torn for bandages, which probably makes it a better choice than a first aid kit).

Food: Survivor, Withdrawn (something to munch on...and keep you alive. You can survive without bullets, but not without food).

Canteen: Professional, Bleeding Heart (Good to hold water, and a popular choice of caregivers and professionals, but do you know what else holds water? A soda bottle. Don't you think you'll run into at least one of these in your travels if you really need one?)

Lighter: Mad Prophet, Jerk, Panicked, Survivor (it might just be your favorite lighter, or perhaps you realize that fire might be usefull)

Mirror: Mad Prophet, Withdrawn, Panicked (grooming, are we?)

Flashlight: Defenseless, Survivor, Professional, Bleeding Heart (You probably shouldn't travel at night at all, but it's good to have...and popular among people who aren't planning to hold a gun, as anyone who plays Doom 3 knows, you can't hold a flashlight and fire a gun at the same time)

Grenade: Mad Prophet, Jerk (yeah, you'll show em)

Holy Symbol: Mad Prophet, Panicked, Defenseless, Bleeding Heart

Riot Shield: Defenseless, Bleeding Heart, Panicked (if they're that close....)

Knife: Professional, Jerk, Panicked (could be useful, but sharp edges aren't that hard to find)

Pepperspray: Bleeding heart, Panicked, Professional (mmmmight be useful...possibly...but more popular among people who won't kill, or had it with them anyway)

Deck of Cards: Withdrawn, Mad Prophet (again, you must be crazy...)

Whiskey: Withdrawn, Defenseless, Jerk (this is not the time to get drunk, unless you're not planning to make it out anyway. Oh, and no it's not really good for disinfecting, it's not alcoholic enough).

Lockpicks: Professional, Withdrawn (Why? Are you really going to need to pick that many locks? Bust a window open, it's the apocalypse for god's sake. Only overpracticed professionals and people who play too many video games would not consider kicking the door down an option)

Question 4:

Get one point for each answer, both first and secondary choice. If they chose:

Panicked: then you're a jerk. Jerk's don't want to take responsibility for what they do, and it's easy to just say they panicked and it isn't their fault.

Jerk: then you're a bleeding heart. Only bleeding heart's think that they're bad.

Survivor: then you're a survivor. (Half of it's mentality)

Professional: then you're a professional. (Ditto)

Defenseless: then you're a defenseless. (Unfortunately, ditto)

Mad Prophet: then you're a withdrawn. (See next answer)

Withdrawn: then you're a mad propet. (It was once said that the ancient philosopher Socrates was the wisest man of his time, and he knew it was true, because he knew that he was a fool. Ironically, withdrawn people tend to think that they're philosophers and the mad prophets tend to think that they themselves are reclusive fools).

Bleeding Heart: then you're a panicked. (The average person thinks that they're generally a good person overall, and the average person also panicks like a frightened child).

Question 5:

No fair trying to give more than one answer. Choose what you PRIMARILY do, and gain a point in each:

If you fight to the bitter end: Professional, Survivor, Jerk, Mad Prophet (for the group, glory or just to take those bastards down with you!)

If you sacfice yourself for the group: Bleeding Heart, Professional, Mad Prophet, Withdrawn (for the moody, martyr set)

If you give a wishy washy answer that doesn't really answer the question: withdrawn, panicked, defenseless

If you run towards the group for help: Jerk, Panicked (thanks, thanks a lot)

If you run away from the group: Panicked, Survivor, Bleeding Heart (Good luck!)

If you call for help: Defenseless, Jerk, Panicked (again, thanks for drawing attention to us)

Time to tally up your score! Here's mine, for exampe:

Q1: I'd talk about it openly: Survivor, Professional
Q2: I'd talk about it calmly with the group: Professional, Bleeding Heart
Q3: Cell Phone, Flashlight, Food: Survivor (twice), Withdrawn, Defenseless, Professional, Bleeding Heart
Q4: Survivor first, Bleeding Heart second: survivor, panicked
Q5: Sacrifice myself (though I'm ashamed to admit it, it feels so whiny, but there you go): Bleeding Heart, Professional, Mad Prophet, Withdrawn

Final Score:

Survivor: 4
Professional: 4
Bleeding Heart: 3
Withdrawn: 2
Defenseless: 1
Panicked: 1
Mad Prophet: 1

Drop the one's, and judge which is more appropriate, survivor or professional. I'd say withdrawn is the trait of a survivor, so I'll lean that way. That leaves us:

Survivor: 4
Bleeding Heart: 3
Withdrawn: 2

I'm primarily a survivor, and a bleeding heart second, but I can be withdrawn every now and then. I'm essentially the sidekick. I'm a survivor with a good heart, but I don't talk as much as the main character.

Try to keep it to only three main personality types as your result, otherwise it gets confusing. Don't fret if you're primarily one thing and have a lot of little things as well, just consider yourself the primary personality type. Have more than three personality types and they're close to eachother in score? Drop the results of question 4. Still? Question 2 as well. STILL?! Question 1 on top of that. STILL?!!! Then you're panicked. You just don't have a solid plan at all.

Whew! Again, quite a bit. So, today's lesson will be a short one on pets.

Your pets and the zombie apocalypse.

Your pets are not going to survive.


Don't be foolish and try to run out after them if they run out into the zombie filled city, as you'll just die too.

I know, you love your pet, but remember:

Pets are loud.

Pets need food.

Pets are unpredictable.

Pets can turn into zombies as well.

Pets don't know to run from a zombie.

Pets take up space.

Pets panic more easily then people.

Pets don't have complicated emotions.

Pets are stupid.

Give these traits to a person, and ask yourself: would you travel with a person like that? Do the pooch a favor and drop them off in the woods somewhere. They'll have a much better chance of living than you will.

Now, some pets have practical uses. Some don't. Here's some examples:

Pet Birds: No practical use. Let them fly off, they'll most likely make it.

Pet rodents, including gerbils, hamsters and rabbits: No practical use. Ditch.

Cats: Not dangerous enough for defense and they need meat. Only real use is their ability to see well in the dark, but they aren't guard dogs. They might just slink off rather than give warning. Leave in the woods somewhere, they'd do the same or worse to you if the situation was reversed.

Dogs: Almost useful enough to have with, but these aren't terminators you're fighting. A person can warn you of attacks just as well, and they'll know when to be quiet, can use a gun, and won't eat that much more food. Unless you're blind, leave this one in the woods.

Horse: If you're serious about using a horse, and know how to shoe, feed and care for a horse, then it might be a decent alternative to a car. Cars, however, can't be eaten by zombies. Horses, however, can eat grass, and gas stations may not work after the apocalypse. Cars, however, can carry more than one person. Horses, however, can go where cars can't. Overall, if you're going to ride it, and can use it well, this might be the one animal worth taking, but even so it isn't really a pet, it's a useful tool.

Anything else: No.

Now, just to annoy pet people, here's today's test:

Okay, it's been a long zombie invasion, retreating from location to location, and you're running out of food. You've finally managed to barracade yourself in a petting zoo. Now, the animals have mostly run off, but there's still:

A sheep.

A dog.

A cat.

A rabbit.

A horse.

A monkey.

A cow.

A woodchuck.

A giant turtle.

A chicken.

There's feed that the animals can eat, but you can't. In a perfect world, you wouldn't have to eat the animals, but since it's an emergency, which order would you eat them?

Class dismissed. Next class: knowing your enemy.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


Welcome back everyone. Now, the test results are good, but could have been better. Your classmate Amber scored a 90%. Frank scored 70%, but probably would have done better if he wasn't trying to be funny. Question number 5 was a particular sticking point, and that was something directly covered, as opposed to some of the other quesitons which were indirectly covered, or a test of common sense, like quesiton 4.

In short, the answers were as follows:

Question 1: Make sure you are safe and then talk it out, making sure he/she is actually turning into a zombie. Remember, you might be the person who's cracking and can't tell who is really a zombie or not. Shooting first whenever you think you see a zombie is a surefire way to getting innocent people killed. Half credit to those who attempted to talk/think things out first, but wound up shooting them without properly investigating first.

Question 2: The apartment. You've got just about everything you need to survive several days, you're well fortified, you have access to tv/radio/phone, and you have an escape route (the window, as there should be a fire escape, if for some reason there isn't you can still tie blankets together, or possibly reach another apartment window). Half credit for the mansion, as there are multiple escape points, plenty of supplies and ways to fortify yourself in. There's also, however, many ways for the zombies to get in and many places they could be hiding without you knowing. The school is no good, because due to fire safety regulations, classroom doors swing out instead of in, making it impossible to brace any door shut, as the zombies can just pull them open. The bar is no good because there's usually too many windows, and even if there aren't any windows, there'll be no useful supplies (sorry Shawn).

Question 3: The rifle. It has the most ammunition, is the easiest to use, can knock a zombie down even if it doesn't kill them, good at long range, and 5 bonus points to Frank for bringing up a point I didn't think of: they're also the easiest to maintain. Half credit for the shotgun. Yes, I know, shotguns are the traditional weapons against zombies, but they don't hold much ammuniton, can easily accidentally hit someone standing near the zombie you're shooting, and aren't as good in close range as you think. SAWED-OFF shotguns can hit three zombies in one shot that are near you, but regular shotguns are really meant for long range, like a rifle. The grenade is probably more useful then you think, but you don't know how to use one. Even if you do, there's too many innocents around, and you need a weapon you can reuse. Unlike a gun, if you misfire with a grenade, you not only miss, but you're dead as well. Uzis do an incredible amount of damage in a very short amount of time. Note the SHORT AMOUNT OF TIME. Have 3 clips? Congratulations, you have 5 seconds of ammo.

Question 4: False, zombies fear nothing. Even if they are weak against it, they don't fear it, and it will probably only attract them towards you (another 5 bonus points for Frank). Half credit for saying that it depends on the type of zombie. I've never heard of zombies being afraid of anything, except perhaps a holy symbol, so it's logical to assume that they aren't afraid of fire, no matter what type of zombie they are.

Question 5: All of them. That's right, if you meet all of them during a zombie attack, then you should travel with all of them, there's no reason to only travel with one. I will also accept everyone except the politician, as some of you probably don't trust him, but there's no reason not to travel with all of the other three, but let's face it, the cop is taking the politician with, so it's most likely all or nothing. Half credit for saying the nurse. As a nurse, she's probably had the most experience dealing with disaster, emergencies, and death firsthand. She'll also be useful for treating injuries and judging whether people are turning into zombies. The police officer probably doesn't have as much experience with disaster as you think, and although he knows how to fight, and has a gun, he'll probably want to side track the group and go to police headquarters, or even try to arrest some of the zombies. There's nothing against the slacker, but there's nothing really for him either. The politician is the most likely to have an escape plan, and also the most likely to have people coming to try to save him. Having him around can help you get out, and don't think he'll betray you just because he's a politician. Anyone can betray you in that situation.

Well, there you have it. How'd you score? For the rest of today's class, let's review personalities, to help you recognize appropriate and inappropriate post-apocalyptic behavior in both yourself and others.

Personality #1: The panicked civilian

By far the most likely personality you will meet during the beginning of a zombie attack, and also the least likely to survive. These people can be anyone, including people you think would keep their heads together, including cops, nurses, highschool dropouts, politicians, and even your own family memebers. They aren't really a danger to anyone except themselves, unless they open a fortified entrance in an attempt to escape. Remember, these people are good people whose minds just can't handle the stress of a zombie invasion. They are to be protected and looked after, but not at the complete expense of the group. If one runs off into the zombie filled streets, it's probably best to just shut the door. If you must attempt to rescue them, and the group is well fortified, go by yourself. They will almost always choose flight rather than fight and may possibly curl up into a ball rather than fire a weapon, but remember that they may be triggerhappy, so only give them a gun if absolutely necessary. On average, about half of all people caught in a zombie attack will fall into this category.

Personality #2: The asshole/lunatic

These people are far more dangerous then the panicked civilian, as they will intentionally put their own safety above the well being of the group, either directly or indirectly. They will abandon the group when it seems best, possibly try to kill members in the group if they think it will help themselves, and will always ALWAYS want to be in charge. These people are as large a menace as the zombies, but should not be abandoned. After all, some people seem bad at first, but can be reasoned with if you stop to talk with them. Also, you'll possibly face repercussions from the group/law if you just leave them to die. If possible don't let them have a gun, and remember that even complete assholes/lunatics can be useful in the right situaion, as long as they're not a danger to the rest of the group. Use your own judgement of course, but always consider that if someone is taking charge, and nothing they say makes sense to you, and you know things would be better if everyone listened to you instead...then perhaps you're the asshole, not them. Assholes consist of about a quarter of the population (that may seem high, but a lot of people won't act this way until disaster strikes). The best way to deal with a troublesome asshole/lunatic is to hit them. Most assholes/lunatics are cowards, and if you stand up to them, they probably will stand down (note, it may be dangerous to allow them to have a gun after that, but it's probably dangerous to let them have a gun anyway).

The remaining quarter or people consist of the remaining personalities:

Personality #3: The survivor

This is probably the personality you want to be, or at least be with. This person knows not only how to survive through a zombie attack, but just about any other dangerous situation as well. Not only do they have training that will help them see this through, but almost all official training emphasizes the need to protect others as well. They will most likely be practical, disciplined and vigilant. They will also most likely have training in the use of weapons. The downiside of being/being with these personalities is that they might be slightly mentally unsound, as most reasonable people don't train as hard, or prepare as much as the survivors. Of course, most reasonable people don't survive through zombie attacks either, as most of them crack when their reasonable world falls apart. Also, the survivor may put his own safety above others, but in any case, you want them in the group. If you are a survivor, good. If not, try to have one along. (this is the only personality which should be allowed to use dangerous weapons such as molatov cocktails and grenades).

Personality #4: The Mad Prophet/Psychic

Laugh all you want, people with divine, magical and psychic powers always seem to pop up when zombies attack, especially if the zombies are supernatural in origin. Do not dismiss them, but remember, even if they have unnatural powers, they're probably still unstable, and should be treated as such. Don't let them hold too much sway over the group, but let them do their thing. Even if they're just looney, it probably won't hurt anything. These people are likely to be pushed around by the asshole/lunatic personality, but try not to take sides, just break it up and keep the peace. Remember, a Prophet/Psychic is just a lunatic/asshole who happens to be right.

Personality #5: Defenseless

This isn't so much a personality as a condition, but it may be a result of a personality. These people, due to physical innability, pregnancy, mental disablity, mental instability, advanced age, extremely young age or injury, are completely unable to protect themselves. They can't fight, run or physically help in any productive way. Some of the group (a rare case when the asshole and the survivor may agree) will want to leave them behind, but you will never forgive yourself unless you exercise every other option first. Attempt to bring them along as best as you can, carrying them if necessary. If they are a danger to the group either indirectly ('they're slowing us down') or directly ('they're turning into a zombie') you must consider the welfare of the group, but this should be decided by the group or the group's best survivor, not the assholes/lunatics. Always take the own defenseless person's opinion into consideration, never abandon children/pregnant women/family unless they're changing into zombies, and consider this: if you have to sacrifice defenseless people to live, is that really living at all? Will you be able to live with yourself afterwards? All of these suggestions, of course, go out the window if they're definitely turning into, or already are, a zombie. Above all, keep the welfare of the group in mind, and never abandon/sacrifice anyone unless it's absolutely necessary.

Personality #6: The professional

The professional will most likely be a police officer, or some other governing official, and they will want to follow a set procedure, and go to designated areas. This can be both good and bad, as the professional will most likely be reasonable, well trained, and have access to guns, but unlike the survivor, they will never take into account that there is no set official procedure for zombie attacks. They are also the least likely to accept the supernatural elements, and will almost always ignore precognition/visions. This, again, is good and bad, as they will not be swayed by lunatics, but they also won't take potential magical elements into consideraiton. Remember, zombies are attacking, and since that is supposed to be impossible, there is definitely much that the professional does not understand about the situation. You will almost always have to allow the professional to take charge, and this may cause clashes with the survivor, but the professional will most likely have the most insight into how to best protect the group and escape. Also, asshole/lunatics are less likely to argue with a professional than with anyone else. As mentioned before, the biggest threat of travelling with a professional is having them sidetrack the group, either by going somewhere that isn't actually safe or by directly confronting the zombies unnecessarily. Remember, never fight a zombie unless it's necessary!

Personality #7: Bleeding Hearts

It's harder to live with a saint then to be one, or so the old saying goes. A good hearted person can be a great asset to the group, but it's important to not let them lead. Bleeding hearts will never sacrifice or abandon anyone, even if it's to save the group. Anyone can be a good person, the difference between them and a bleeding heart is that the bleeding heart is not reasonable about it. They will run out into a crowd of zombies to attempt to save someone who's already dead. They hesitate to kill zombies, even though they're already dead. They will never abandon a defenseless, even if they're turning into a zombie. They act as a good moral compass for the group, and will make the ultimate sacrifice (so you won't have to ^_^). Never abandon them, but don't let them lead either.

Personality #8: The Withdrawn

Some people, when faced with danger just sink back into their own little world, and don't take things too seriously. The difference between them, and a defenseless/lunatic, is that the withdrawn can actually be usefull. They are not likely to panic and will most likely go along with the opinions of the rest of the group. They won't take charge, but they don't need to take charge. They're an overall good backup person to a survivor, and probably won't endanger the group. Their withdrawn nature may make them susceptible to surprise zombie attacks, but even in that case they're more of a danger to themselves than others. Always have them around, as they're fairly useful and good for calming down the panicked.

Whew! That was quite a bit of information! Where do you personally fall? Instead of a quiz, it's time for a personality test!

Quesiton 1: One of your companions seems to be turning into a zombie, but nobody else is noticing. What do you do?

Quesiton 2: Someone takes charge of the group who doesn't seem like the best person for the job. What do you do?

Quesiton 3: You are in the middle of a city, alone, and due to the situation, you can only carry three of the following, along with a fully loaded revolver, and the clothes/jacket you're wearing (no fair trying to use an item to hold more items, three is all you get). Which do you carry?: extra ammunition, a knife, a cell phone (fully charged), a memento of a loved one, a holy object, an empty canteen (you just drank all the water in it), a large bag of trail mix (you're currently full), a mirror, a shotgun, a grenade, a blanket, a first aid kit, pepperspray, a lighter, a riot policeman's shield, a deck of cards, a bottle of whiskey, your keychain (with keys), a flashlight, or a set of lockpicks?

Question 4: Which personality do you consider yourself? Second most likely?

Quesiton 5: You are absolutely surrounded by zombies. Escape is more or less impossible. Your teammates are within shouting distance. What do you do?

Class dismissed.

Saturday, October 08, 2005


Good morning class! Now, it has come to my attention that student's today, although proficient in math skills and improving in language/reading skills (ever since L33T started to die out), are still shockingly poor at basic zombie survival skills. Despite many new technical manuals available on the market, movies and games (both video and RPG) keep showing that your average student is little more than monster chow when faced with the unholy legions of the damned.

Subsequently, I am going to start using big words like subsequently, and work toward educating the average person on how to survive an apocalyptic zombie infestation scenario. For the first lesson, we're going to focus on immediate survival, as we all know that most of the casualties deriving from any zombie attack happen immediately, as most people are too shocked and panicked to adequately defend themselves. Let's break down the steps of zombie survival as follows:


Identify if a zombie attack is actually occurring. There's a tricky period at the beginning of any zombie attack where it isn't certain whether zombies are actually attacking, or if it's just a drunk/junkie/lunatic. For safety's sake, always assume that they're a zombie. Due to legal restrictions, it is not advised to kill everyone who appears to be a zombie, but don't keep that from proceeding to the next steps, and saving actual violence for when you're sure they're a zombie. Remember, a drunk/junkie/lunatic is still dangerous, and should often be treated like a zombie for all intensive purposes.


DON'T PANIC! Don't scream (as this attracts nearby zombies), don't run in a random direction (zombies can be quite quiet and around any corner), don't abandon your friends/family (you'll never forgive yourself and you'll need their help anyway) and don't drop anything useful. Also, admit to yourself, and others, that zombies are attacking. Do not try to deny in or laugh it off, as underestimating zombies is the quickest way to becoming one yourself. Once you're collected and in control of the situation, you can react appropriately.


GET A WEAPON. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, just something to tide you over until you're safe. Take a moment and look around your present location. Are you prepared for a zombie attack? What weapons are handy? Currently, for example, where I'm sitting, I can see a sledgehammer, and although it's wooden hafted, it's the best weapon nearby. Always pick guns first (no matter how cool the sword looks) and make sure they're loaded. Even if you've never used them before, if one is available, take it. Failing that, look for large blunt weapons. Long handles will allow you to attack the zombies from far away. Sharp weapons are good if they're large and are capable of cutting the zombie's head off, or thrusting through their head. Power tools are risky, pepperspray is useless, tasers may or may not work, katanas break, medieval swords on display are never very sharp (although maces work great), and chainsaws easily stall if they cut into anything except wood. Don't swing wildly, and focus on keeping the zombie away or knocking them down. They can always be easily finished off while on the ground. If need-be, improvise. The chair you're sitting on will work in a pinch. Can you lift the lawnmower? You're armed. Don't intentionally run them over with your car, as it can easily break your vehicle. Overall, the best weapon is a gun (as long as you have ammo), the next being a machete (large, sharp and deadly in even a weak person's hands), the next being a blunt weapon that isn't going to break (like a metal baseball bat), and lastly a weapon that can be useful as a tool as well (like a crowbar). Anything else might be useful as a backup weapon, but shouldn't be relied on heavily.


Get yourself to a safe location in the safest manner possible. If you're already in a relatively safe location, then brace the doors as well as possible. It isn't a permanent solution, but it'll buy you time to prepare yourself and for help to come. If there's a killer zombie in the room with you, determine if you can leave the room. Most zombies are slow, and not too difficult to outrun. NEVER FIGHT A ZOMBIE UNLESS YOU HAVE TO. The safest places are ones where you can easily exit, but zombies cannot easily enter. Examples include: moving vehicles, rooftops, attics, and locked buildings with multiple exits (and out of reach windows). Easily accessible places with lots of windows are always a BAD IDEA! These places include locations that may seem secure: churches, hospitals, locked stores and police stations. Rember, even if you're locked securely in, you never know when a smart zombie leader/necromancer will show up. You've got to be able to keep running if necessary!

Step 5

Gather anything useful. Ammo, first aid kits, food, drinks, extra gasoline, backpacks, tools, cell phones, radios, keys, items that look like they might be part of a puzzle and anything that will help you keep alive. Always, however, keep your hands free. Don't loot, as it'll only waste time, and encumber yourself. Try to find extra layers of clothing, practical shoes and always wear gloves of some kind. Armor is far too encumbering (especially the medieval kind), and modern armor is mainly mean to prevent bullets, not swarming zombies. Motorcycle helments may prove useful, but they restrict vision, and if they're close enough to bite you're head, you're probably dead anyway. The best armor against zombies is distance.

Step 6

Make longterm plans. Being temporarily safe is never a reason to stop planning. Plan for worst case scenarios. Try to gather as much information about the zombies. Is it a disease? Is it curable (don't shoot the guy who was bitten just yet)? Is it supernatural? Is it happening everywhere, or just your town? Turn on the TV, radio and go on the internet if you can. Agree on an appropriate longterm plan, but don't try to be heroes. Despite what you see in movies, have faith in the authorities to handle the situation. It is very unlikely that they will nuke the city. They are far more likely to barracade it and slowly send in rescue teams. Save as many other people as possible, and stick together. Running off on your own is always a bad idea (at the very least drive a car [be sure to check the back seat]). Do what you need to do and never give up fighting. Despair is your worst enemy. On second thought, zombies are your worst enemy, but despair comes in a very close second. In short, make long term goals and achieve them, and above all SURVIVE.

Step 7

Never go anywhere alone, not even to use the bathroom. Consider just peeing in the corner (ask permission from your companions, as it is not the time to get into a large argument).

Now then, there's the basics. Now, I know this is your first day of class, but let's have a quick quiz to see what you've learned.

Question 1: Your companion appears to be turning into a zombie. What do you do?

Question 2: Which is the best place to hide out in during a zombie attack: a bar/ a mansion/ a school/ or a top floor apartment?

Question 3: What is the best weapon: a rifle/ an uzi/ a shotgun/ a grenade?

Question 4: True or False: zombies fear fire.

Question 5: If you met these people during a zombie attack, who should you travel with: a police officer/ a nurse/ a brainless high school drop out/ a politician?

Answers will be posted next week.

Class dismissed.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

So, with an extra week off to think and concentrate, I present you something I wrote several weeks ago. Now, I have a completely valid excuse, but I'm far too lazy to present it.

Now...the muppets.

The muppets was a really messed up show. It was a fantastic show, but look at how many characters are getting eaten, blown up, and dismembered, all to the beat of classic showtunes. Wild.

There was an R-rated movie made with muppets by Peter Jackson called "Meet the Feebles", which has sex and incredible violence. Now, the sex is of course new, but I honestly don't think the R-rated movie is any more violent than the original show! Death and horror were standard fare with the Muppets, and I absolutely love them for it. I do, however, have a few quesitons...

What are the rules with Muppets and clothes? Kermit sometimes wear's clothes, but then he goes naked on a whim. Wouldn't it be interesting if life was like that ("Nothing to wear, oh heck, I'll just go nude today."). Human-like Muppets always wear clothes, and pigs almost always wear clothes. I guess that if you're a mammal, and don't have fur, you have to wear clothes, but I'm just guessing.

On Sesame street, does Big Bird live (more or less) outside in that nest all year? There is a holiday episode where he nearly freezes out in the cold. Isn't he out in the cold anyway? Does he crash at Snuffy's house? Isn't anyone else concerned that the giant 500-1000 pound creature's nickname is 'Snuffy'?

Do muppets have teeth? I know some of the larger monsters have some, and so does the count, but what about the rest?

Where does Oscar use the restroom? Come to think of it, where does Big Bird and Snuffy use the restroom?! They'd need amazing accomodations! Some to think of it, where's the restroom backstage? Is it against the wall we never see, or downstairs in the cafeteria? Legally, if they provide food, they have to have a restroom.

Is the count really a count? Is he rich (he does live in a castle)? Is he married to any of those women who live with him? It's been over seven years, so unless they're related, I think some commonlaw marriage laws may take effect.

Is kermit really a reporter? Is that his main job, and he manages the theatre in his free time, or vice versa? He lives an amazingly busy life, no wonder he doesn't have time for Piggy.

Will Kermit and Piggy have to eventually adopt? They have kids in the Christmas Carol, and half of them are frogs, half of them are pigs. Do muppets work like that? Are they free to interbreed (half chance it will be the race of either parent) or do they have to match species? Does close count? They keep hitting on the human guest stars, so does that work too?

There are references that suggest that some of the Muppets are not getting paid (makes sense if they don't charge admission, must be running on a grant and food sales), so do they all have side jobs? Kermit is a reporter, and Scooter gets paid, and they'd have to pay the musicians, but what about the others? Do Fozzie and Piggy have side jobs?

What's the deal of the Swedish Chef? Who the heck cooks in a vaudeville show? He's a muppet, but he has human hands. Is he half human? Even Statler and Waldorf don't have human hands, so what does that make them?

What's on the fourth wall backstage, that we never see because the camera never turns around?

How did Kermit book Bob Hope, John Cleese and Alice Cooper? He is AMAZINGLY well connected.

What's that thing around Kermit's neck? Is it a collar, or part of him? Other frogs on the show don't have it, not even his nephew, Robin.

Why is Piggy allowed to beat on anyone she pleases? I understand that she's a Diva, but you'd think attacking a guest would make the papers.

Can the chickens talk? Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. Camilla never talks, but Gonzo understands her. Does she have a speeck impediment? Is she speaking chicken? If so, why doesn't Gonzo speak chicken back? Why doesn't she learn English?

How do you get funding from the letters Q, H and the number 4?

What are the racial traits of a Muppet within D&D rules? I think it's this:

Small muppets:

+2 Con, +2 Cha, -2 Str, -2 Wis
Small size
+2 to jump/perform/move silently/escape artist checks
Immune to bleeding and death by massive damage
Can remove and reattach lost body parts as they like
Muppets take no damage from being swallowed, and can exist there indefinitely.
Muppets cannot wear armor that isn't tailored specifically for them.
All muppets are left handed.
Favored class: bard

Medium sized muppets:

+2 Con, +2 Cha, -2 Wis, -2 Dex
Immune to bleeding/death by massive damage
Can remove and reattach body parts as they like
Thet get a d6 bite (or beak or horn if they like) attack as a secondary attack

After biting a creature at least one size level smaller than them, can attempt to swallow whole with a grapple check. Other muppets are an additional -4 to resist this grapple. Inside, opponents take d4 from muscle contraction and d4 acid damage a round. 15 slashing damage from a light weapon will allow an opponent to escape, as will an escape artist check DC:20. If they want, any muppet can exchange this ability for a d8 natural attack instead.

Muppets cannot wear armor that isn't tailored specifically for them.
All muppets are left handed.
Favored class: Bard

Why doesn't Beaker get a better job?

Do they really have the right to chain up Animal like they do?

What's the band conductor supposed to be? He kind of reminds me of a fish.

Why does Jim Henson get all the credit, when Frank Oz did more characters and was funnier?

Perhaps we'll never know...

(I can't belive I wrote this)

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Geekier than thou.

Don't try to deny it, I am definitely an Uber Geek, a gaming monster, and a full fledged card carrying nerd. Yesterday was my birthday, and I was out with my friends. Where was I? Was it a singles bar? A strip club? A sporting event?


In case there are any doubters, and to renew my geek licence for another year, I have for you a Dungeons and Dragons post that I recently put on a website that will make your DM cry:

The best loophole I know is: one level of rogue and one level of cleric. Both of these classes get incredible benefits at first level, and the game assumes you're going to continue in their levels, but just about any class can get a lot of benefit just from taking 1 level of each.

Now, having both will hurt your base attack, but if you can take one or both and not get a cross class penalty, the benefits are staggering, especially if you wait until you're about level 4 or 5 in your main class before doing so (so you're not too underpowered).

One level of rogue is useful if your group doesn't have a rogue, or if the rogue isn't always there when you play. This level of rogue will allow you to search for complex traps. Just put all the points into search, and as long as you don't have a large intelligence penalty, you'll probably find most traps if you take 20 to find them. Disabling them is another thing alltogether, which would require another level or two of rogue, but if you keep taking seach cross class in your main class, you'll always be able to find them and then the entire group can figure out a way around it. The extra sneak attack and reflex save bonus doesn't hurt either, and if you like evasion, just take a second level.

One level of cleric will give you a small amount of cleric spells, the ability to turn undead (admittedly not too well, but not badly either if you have a good charisma), a good bonus to your fort/will save and two domain powers. If you choose your domains well, and invest in some cleric spell wands, you'll be a great backup caster and still be able to wear armor!

Here's an example, avg stats, 4th lvl ability bonus to Strength:

4 Fighter/1 Rogue/ 1 Cleric (Fharlanghn) Human NG

Str: 16, Con:14, Int: 13, Dex: 10, Wis: 12, Cha:8

BA: +4 (same as cleric)
Saves F/R/W: 6/3/4 (instead of 7/1/2)
Search: +10 (can search for complex traps)
Casts as 1st lvl cleric, domains: travel and luck
1 round/day: freedom of movement (doesn't require action, happens automatically when desired)
1/day reroll any roll just made
turn undead 2xday (not too well)
1d6 sneak attack
Feats: weapon focus, weapon specialty, expertise, imp. disarm, imp. trip, imp. initiative, power attack

What would he have gotten if he had put those levels in fighter? Two base attack, one feat and an average of three hit points. If you weigh that against the benefits of the single levels of rogue and cleric (especially after the characters go up in level more), you can see how effective this combination is!"

LADIES PLEASE CONTOL YOURSELVES! I know geeky D&D strategies drive you wild, but please try to show some restraint!

I'll let you all calm down, and be back in a little bit with a rant. (Animals...)

Friday, September 09, 2005

Apparently I've got a Blog now. I really don't know how it happened, you'd have to ask Amber. For anyone who doesn't know, I tend to delegate all of my major life impacting decisions to her.

Now, I must use this newfound 'blogging' power to attempt to better humanity to the best of my ability.

(approximately 1 hour passes in real time)

Okay, I've got it. Santa Claus. Alright, that thought probably needs some expanding.

SPOILER ALERT. There is no Santa Claus.

What? I gave a spoiler alert. That's right, there's none. We've searched every square inch of the north pole and found nary a thing. No workshop, no elves, no generic wife, and no reindeer. No Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner or Dixon. Rudolph? Just the feverish dream of Robert May. If someone knows where the little girl Virginia is, please break it to her gently.

Now that that's out of the way, here's the idea: let's make Santa Claus. Let's face it, we have the technology. I admit the costs would be high, but think of the payoff! It's the holidays and suddenly...what's that sound on the rooftop? Why, it's the real Santa Claus! He's here to punish you because you're a horrible person! Unless of course you're good, in which he'll bring you lots of presents! Which will it be?! I can barely wait!

Now, first of all, this project will be impossible unless we start by being practical. In order to potentially get presents, you must be between the ages of three and fourteen. Everyone younger than three can't really be responsible for what they do, and everyone old enough to be in high school is evil (or insane, either way they're not eligible). You have to apply to be judged by santa (or have your child judged) with any mall santa. These 'santas helpers' are actually licenced 'santas helpers' and have been trained by ex-CIA agents to tell if the kids are honest about the 'good things' they've done. This interview, combined with the child's wish list, combined with any additional documents they wish to present (school transcripts, notorized letters from elderly neighbor, ect), and any dirt they have on their classmates to help determine their nice or nauty status, are filed through the internet to the real Santa Claus in his North Pole command center.

This command center wouldn't be as large or elaborate as you might imagine, as the toys would be manufactured in factories in other countries, and merely ordered as needed from the command center. To keep from interfering with normal toy sales, the toys sent will be more or less 'traditional presents'. There will be large dolls in frilly dresses, wooden soldiers, rocking horses, oversized candy canes, teddy bears and such. If they want the newest Grand Theft Auto game, then their parents will still have to foot the bill. Coal is in shrinking suppy these days, so instead a useless, practical gift will be given instead. Nothing says 'up yours', like opening a giant, gameboard sized present, and discovering that it's an itchy sweater. These presents can be shipped at any time as long as it is certain that they'll arrive at their intended destination on December 24th, after 8pm.

Now, I know Santa's normally supposed to deliver them himself, but let's face it, even with today's technology this just isn't possible. Instead, he'll get FedEx or UPS to deliver them all. In fact, Santa can probably hire both, just to be sure. To avoid too much effort, kids in the 'grey area', who aren't quite good or bad just get nothing, except a 'try harder next year' form letter a day or two later. The bad kids will get the ironic, giant pretty boxes filled with boring crap. The good kids will get the large cool toys and the smug satisfaction that they're better than other people.

Aright, I know, Santa has to fly out or it just doesn't count, I know. A few "nicest of the nice" kids will be selected and Santa will fly to them in one of the fastest jets in the world (for arguments sake, let's say the SR-71 Blackbird, which goes Mach 3.3, but might possibly go Mach 4 if needed), give him police escorts to the specific houses and then he'll personally present the lucky kids with a generic toy...

...and a cool million dollars in cash tax free! Now, if I know anything about child actors, giving a child and their potentially insane parents a lot of cash can be bad, so it will instead be in the form of a trust fund that will be available to them when they turn 18, which is just in time to completely pay for college, and get them a great car to boot! This fund can always be cancelled of course, if the kid goes completely bad by the time they turn eighteen, but that would only be done in extreme cases. Even if they're kind of a jerk later in life, think how much a million in cash will mellow them out! After the first kid, Santa will do the next nicest and so on as time permits. To allow Santa to get at least a few, he'll start with the kids in the latest time zone and work his way toward the earlier ones. To be sure, we'll also allow him all of December 25th as well, if he feels that it's warranted. What? Are you going to tell him no? He's Santa!

This won't be just for America of course, as any country that wants to join in is free to do so (although America, Europe and Japan should be the major ones). Santa will be an indefinite position elected by the people, and they can stay Santa as long as they continue to remain nice, have a giant white beard and exceed the proper weight requirements.

Now, I bet you're wondering where we're going to get the money for all this. Easy, we ditch the space program. I mean, what would you rather have, a guy floating in space doing nothing or SANTA CLAUS? The space program has done a lot for us, but we've definitely reached the limits of its usefulness. Space is big, empty and radioactive. Let's just leave it and focus on fulfilling the dreams of a billion kids instead! This program will also push ahead technology, just as the space program did, as we search for better ways to bring Santa to the world.

Just imagine it, a robotic Santa flying at nearly the speed of light, firing presents neatly onto porches using his laser guided 'gift gattling gun', swooping low with his metallic wings outstretched, his anti-aircraft missles scanning for any potential adversaries, and his glowing red and green eyes spreading joy and cold judgement all over the world. Suddenly, he gives a shrieking cry to the heavens that can be heard from as far as ten miles away...

"HO, HO, HO."

Happy holidays everyone.