Musikalischer Mittwoch: With Office Zombies!

As overdone as the zombie thing is these days, it’s still totally acceptable in the form of geeky music.  Especially when it’s a song dealing with a zombie take over in the office.  Because, well, a zombie take over in my office would be a total delight.

“Re: Your  Brains” is a staple in the diet of Jonathan Coulton fans–so I’m sure it’s nothing new to many of you.  It has all the key features of Coulton’s well-known songs: great music with a catchy tune and hysterical/geeky/just damn-good lyrics and high-quality delivery.

This particular ditty is a musical e-mail from an un-dead co-worker who really just wants to eat your brains.  Bob from the office down the hall is totally polite in his message, and–accompanied by great guitar work and a rock-anthemic chorus you can belt out with co-workers–he lays out the memo and the ultimatum  “All we want to do is eat your brains.  We’re not unreasonable/ No one’s gonna eat your eyes.”

What’s not to love right there?  But, it goes further….it’s got all the necessary elements of a typical corporate office e-mail–all the phrases, the cliches, the passive-aggressive comments.  That’s actually more horrifying than the idea of  having your brains eaten.

Bonus fun for this song:  you can listen to the whole thing (and lot more) online for free at Coulton’s website (downloads are a buck), and it’s available under a Creative Commons license (along with all the other songs written by Coulton).


Movie Review: Wasting Away (aka Aaah! Zombies!)

I know, I know, I normally do reviews on Wednesday.  Well I watched this today, so lucky you get to read this today.

Wasting Away (Netflix had it listed as Aaah!  Zombies)

Written by:  Matthew Kohnen, Sean Kohnen

Directed by:  Matthew Kohnen


Let me start by saying that I didn’t have anything to write on while watching, so this will be a little different, a little more general.

First of all, something about the Netflix description gave me the impression that this is a mockumentary.  It’s not.  What it is is a zombie movie in which the good guys are the zombies.  Generally speaking it succeeds in making them sympathetic.  Mostly we’re following around a group of hapless 20 somethings and their army buddy the encounter.

The movie has plenty of flaws.  I think the directing is a little weak–I know that Michael Grant Terry is a good actor because I’ve seen him on  Bones. But either he’s improved a lot since then or he was badly directed.  The characters are caricatures and lack depth, but I think that’s intentional, so hard to criticize too much.  There are several plot holes, but who cares.  It’s simply not the kind of movie where you really expect the plot to make sense.

But it’s cute.  It’s fun.  It’s a long way from great, but it’s an enjoyable watch.  I would say not worth watching all alone, but in a gathering with friends and alcohol you could do a lot worse.

Fun, but not great.  I give it two and  a==a ah

The Living Dead In this Musikalisher Mittwoch

Back in the glory days of 80s country music a group called Shenandoah released a song called “Ghost in this House.”  I liked the song, even though I’ve never been wild about the group performing it*.  It painted a very different image of a break up–a lonesome, desperate, defeated kind of image.  It’s like a textbook description of clinical depression–phone and door unanswered, not picking up the mail, sitting in the darkened (and unmaintained) house.

I’m just a ghost in this house / I’m just a shadow upon these walls…

And backing up this accurate description of a person who has been rendered a shell of his/her former self is a haunting, but simple tune (I can hum this on my own without cringing at sour notes–that’s no easy thing, I tell you).

The combination was potent enough that Alison Krauss covered the song in the 90s–creating an even more beautiful and haunting version than Shenandoah’s original.  This version seems to be the one through which more non-mainstream-country fans have been exposed.

And now, score one more for exposure.

I was more than a little shocked, and totally stoked and giddy, when I popped in my newly imported copy of Sissel’s new album Til Deg….** and within 4 notes of Track 7 beginning I was bouncing my chair.  “Levande Död” was undeniably “Ghost in this House” (and I totally started singing along in English).  It sounds beautiful.  This fits right in my deep love of good covers of good songs AND my deep love of hearing covers done in random languages (especially if the translation fits well….which means it’s not an attempt to do a one-to-one word swap, but still maintains the original theme/story).

I haven’t had a chance to translate all the lyrics, but the title alone tells me that the lyrical theme of the original remains in tact.  “Levande Död” was pretty obviously “Living Dead” to me (I confirmed this with Google translate).  So either Levande Död is the coolest way to refer to ghosts in a Norse dialect (fairly sure this cover is in Swedish)…..

Or maybe Sissel’s singing a really beautiful song about zombies.

That would be awesome, too.


*Shenandoah actually had a number of selections I loved as pieces independent of the particular performance.  I can’t fault their ability to choose gems.  They also had “Sunday in the South” and “Church on Cumberland Road.”
**In theory there will be a US version of Sissel’s album out eventually, but given it’s already been 4 months since Til Deg… came out in Europe, I’m not sure it will ever come out here, at least not with the high percentage of Norse-language content.  I’m cool with Sissel singing in English, French, Italian….but I have found more favorites when she’s singing in Norwegian, Danish or Swedish.  Unfortunately, that’s also the stuff that tends to get removed in US releases of her albums.  Apparently it’s okay to expose Americans to foreign influence if it’s a Romantic rather than a Germanic language….

The Zombie Zora Met

I just finished reading Zora Neale Hurston’s Tell My Horse; a book which is notable mostly for one reason:  It’s the one where Zora meets a zombie.

Nope.  That’s not a metaphor.  This is actually an ethnography in which Zora Neale Hurston, folklorist and author of the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God (a book I hate to an irrational degree.  Rabies?  Seriously?) meets a real live (er… undead?) zombie.  And talks to her.  And takes a photo of her.  It’s in the book.  It nearly gave me nightmares.  (random tangent:  I found out yesterday that Zora Neale Hurston once worked as a librarian at the Air Force Base where I lived as a child.)

I thought this might be a good prompt to give you all a poorly researched and even more poorly cited lesson on the history of zombies.  The Zombie Zora met, Felicia Felix-Mentor, did not eat brains.  She had, however, been dead for twenty-nine years before she was found wandering naked on the side of the road.  No seriously.  I’m not making this up.  Zora may have been, but if she was she did a good job of it.  Felicia was a voodoo zombie.  In voodoo tradition zombies are more exploited undead slaves than mindless brain eating villains.  They’re to be pitied more so than feared (though being made into a zombie is certainly to be feared).  They’re controlled by the person who made them into a zombie and generally wind up being used for menial labor.

So what happened?  How did we get from Felicia Felix-Mentor to Shaun of the Dead?  The answer is fairly obvious:  Hollywood.  When zombies first appeared in films they were a little closer to voodoo tradition.  They stayed in their roles as menial goons which evolved slightly into goons and henchmen.  Then Hollywood did what Hollywood does and sexualized it.  Oh yeah, there was a whole group of B horror movies with zombie sex slaves.  (Random tangent #2:  but in the Middle Ages they thought semen was your brains leaking out.  By that logic zombie sex slaves could do a whole different kind of brain eating.  Ew.)

Our modern, mindless, brain craving, apocalypse causing Zombies are a fairly recent invention in the grand scheme of things.  I feel like it started in the 1960s or 70s, but I’m honestly too lazy to look it up at the moment.

The important lesson I want you to take away from this is:  Your mother lied to you when she told you there was no such thing as zombies.  They’re totally real.  Zora had the pics to prove it.

In Which Cammy Keeps It Short So She Can Go Watch Zombies

I’m really not creative tonight.  It’s 7:30 in the evening and I just got home from work….and today was supposed to have been my day off (HA!).  I want to sit down, drink something alcoholic and watch something brainless.

Or possibly something that devours brains.

It seems like every male I work with under the age of 35, plus my brother, has told me I HAVE to watch Zombieland.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I am fine with planning for a potential zombie uprising, I believe in the power of The Winchester and I fully support shopping Smart, Shopping at S-Mart, but lately it seems like everyone (including the Jane Austen set) is doing the zombie thing.  They’re getting as ubiquitous as vampires.  I’m fear the creep of cliche more than lumbering sub-humans who view me as a snack.

All that said, it’s not often I get that many guys who separately give me such enthusiastic reactions to anything, so I dutifully put it on that list of things I will check out on Netflix when I eventually get around to signing up, which I’m not doing for another few months yet as I swore that I wouldn’t sign up until after I finished watching all of BSG and Farscape again.

Of course, I didn’t say a damn thing about buying a copy.  And it was on clearance for less than $10 on blu-ray when I was out the other day.  So, Zombieland it is.

Will it live up to the hype?  Here’s hoping.  And if not, my brain is fried, so the zombies are welcome to have at.