This is Epth Nation

Epth is a state of mind, not a place. Reading this will give you a virtual drivers license in that state, but you'll still need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. And you can't get any there anyway, so stop asking.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Zombies are the New Vampires

What is it with all these zombie movies lately? Clearly, zombies have replaced vampires as the mythic monster du jour in America today. And just like vampires, there seems to be some confusion about the causes, properties and weaknesses of zombies as it relates to attacking humans. This is always a bad sign, because people no longer know what to expect from a zombie movie.

Night of the Living Dead provided the example that all followed (until recently), with hordes of zombies that stiffly stumbled around. They wanted to eat people's brains and would stop at nothing to accomplish that task. Surrounding whatever cottage or shed the real humans are located in, they would break through whatever they had to, just to get some of those yummy brains. This idea worked so well that in the years after NOTLD, a bunch of movies came out that told the exact same zombie story in a virtually identical way. There were always people holed up somewhere with zombies leering right outside, and there was no possibility of escape. This was a Zombie Movie, and we liked it.

Lately, there have been some disturbing trends in zombie movies. Filmmakers are trying to trick up the zombie formula with superfast, superhuman zombies (28 Days Later) ferocious feral fast zombies (Dawn of the Dead), zombies based on video games (Resident Evil, House of the Dead), and so on. All these ideas are terrible and should never have been made. If you're going to make something other than a zombie movie, make it with something other than zombies. That's all I ask. Here are my rules for subsequent zombie thrillers, which I am calling Zombie Dogme 05:
  1. Zombies are not vampires. You do not turn into one when they bite you. You do not die when they bite you, unless they bite you over and over again. Vampires are a girl monster, with the poofy shirts and the enthralling eyes. Zombies are a man monster, with the rotting flesh and the groaning. Making zombies into vampires is like making a chick movie out of First Blood Part II.
  2. Zombies do not become zombies because of a "virus". That's stupid. A microorganism is not going to be able to kill you in a matter of seconds and then reanimate you. Zombies are not werewolves, and there is no lycanthropy involved. You become a zombie because of one reason and one reason only -- some alien/supernatural event happened, and you clawed your way out of your grave or were killed by somebody who clawed their way out of their grave. They are the dead come back to life, people. This isn't rocket (or bacterial) science. The only reason filmmakers want it to be a virus is so they can expose family members of the main characters to it and make them zombies too. Again, this is a chick impulse and must be surpressed.
  3. Zombies are slow, methodical, and constantly groaning(preferably throwing in the occasional word "brains"). These are monsters who swarm you, not sneak up on you. When you make a zombie quick or superhuman, you've made it into something entirely different from a zombie -- an alien, a werewolf, a banshee, a ghost, etc. -- and consequently failed to make a zombie movie.
  4. Zombies should claw their way out of the grave at dusk and attack until dawn, then collapse when the sun comes up. Zombies in the dark is fun. Zombies during the day is oppressive and Mogadishu-like. Nobody wants to see a movie about Somalia, for Pete's sake. Except maybe Black Hawk Down. But no more. There needs to at least be a finite amount of time set for the zombie attack -- they shouldn't overrun the earth or anything. Again, zombification is not a virus, it is a supernatural event. If you're going to disobey me and do "Day Zombies", then government forces should show up and kill them all in the end, because everybody knows that would happen in real life.
  5. Zombie movies should make no political statements about anything, no scientific statements about anything, and should not be a Darwinian "survival-of-the-fittest"-fest. Zombies are zombies and that's it. "There is no moral, it's just a bunch of stuff that happened."
  6. Fake news reports detailing zombie rampages are nice, but don't overdue it. Don't have news anchors being eaten on camera or pretend that all the cable channels are out of service. If you must have news reports, make them radio news reports so I don't have to see them.
If you follow these six rules, then congratulations! You've made a zombie movie. If not, go back to the drawing board, or better yet, make something else entirely. I mean, how many more zombie movies are we going to have to endure before we get another golem movie. Come on!

And if you're thinking that this entire post is just my way of ripping on the Ving Rhames vehicle Dawn of the Dead, you're absolutely right. Shawn of the Dead was great, though. I saw both on the same day, so I was able to compare and contrast them and come up with Zombie Dogme 05. Hopefully Lars Von Trier is in the Hizzouse, so he can sign another meaningless piece of pretentious film restriction.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

News, a Day Late.

Due to the massive amounts of work I've had to actually do at my "real job", Thursday is news day this week. But don't worry, I've got news from the last couple of days -- I may not even give you any current news.

(note: Most of the news links today will be from If you are asked to register, either a) register, b) use the username "Daddy" and the password "asd123", or C) get your own password from Bugmenot.

First of all, Texas Rangers pitcher Kenny Rogers went insane yesterday, attacking two cameramen and putting one in the hospital. The main attack victim was interviewed this morning by the station he is employed by and mentioned that nobody in the Texas Rangers organization has even contacted him. What a bunch of punks. This, for those of you who don't live in Dallas, is why nobody likes the Rangers anymore. I could do a whole column on this subject, but I probably won't ever get around to it. You see, I don't care about the Rangers organization either after sitting 3 hours in the rain the other day waiting for a game to be called so I can get a rain check. That's a small thing, but it showed me how they view the fans -- as giant walking $50 bills. The Rangers have Warner Bros. cartoon-vision.

Also, there was a 5-alarm fire (why are fires measured in alarms? What if there are no alarms around -- is there still a fire?) at the Biblical Arts Center in Dallas on Tuesday. Apparently, the Center holds many rare and invaluable Christian artifacts and pieces of art. I know my parents sure liked the place, especially the painting mentioned in the article, Miracle at Pentecost (it the one on the left). Take note kids -- never leave anything of value unattended in Dallas, even if it's 124' x 20'. Also hurt in the fire were some lithographs by my wife's new favorite artist, Marc "The Body" Chagall.

Repair efforts are underway, and the authorities still don't know who did it. Clearly, somebody did not want to see those artifacts on display. My main suspect at this point would be anti-Catholic "author" Dan Brown, but then again he's my main suspect in any crime I come across. Why'd you break into my next door neighbor's apartment, Dan? Yeah, I probably wouldn't make a good cop.

An Iranian hostage (remember back in the early 80's when hostages were kept for while and sent back, not beheaded on camera?) claims that the new Iranian "president" was one of his captors. Others, as they say, are not so sure. What this means for US-Iranian relations is unclear. Could they really be any worse? More on this story as it develops.

Oh, and you know that time recently when hackers broke into some database and stole like 40 million credit card numbers? One of them was mine, or so says my bank. They and I are keeping an eye on any unauthorized charges. Keep in mind, identity scum who stole it, that if this card is used without my authorization there is nothing that will keep me from finding/killing you. As far as you know.

Finally, teflon and gore-tex now cause cancer, apparently. We are all so dead. Pretty soon they'll be telling us that blogging causes cancer.

More news as it happens.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Blogger Images

One thing about Blogger is that when they are failing at something, they eventually get around to succeeding at it. With that in mind I mention to you Blogger Images, which allows me to put an image right in the middle of this post with no "Hello" programs or HTML code. Let's try it, shall we? Problems to fix in version 2.0:
1) There's no image preview function, so I wasn't sure which image I was posting (it was in the "Allie" folder so I knew it would involve my dog, I just didn't know how).
2) The picture automatically went to the top of the page. Let's try another and see what happens: It went on top again, even above the first picture. Not exactly a model of logical functionality.

I have to give this new feature of Blogger a thumbs up because it's free, but the only people who should use it are people who are too lazy to use "Hello".

As long as I've reviewing internet apps, I have to mention the greatness that is Mozilla Firefox 1.0.4. They've got a bunch of new extensions that kick all kinds of butt, and it does the near-impossible: make the internet much better. For the life of me, I can't imagine using Internet Explorer as a main browser, even after the security upgrades in Service Pack II.
Keep IE around for sites you trust that use Active X, and use Firefox for the rest.

I apologize to the non-nerds who didn't understand that last paragraph. Just download Mozilla and play with it, you'll see. Or hire me to show you how to use it -- $40, and in a couple of hours you could be blocking the annoying ads you hate, getting rid of pop-ups in all sorts of creative ways, and literally ruling the internet. So, King ____, what'll it be?

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

I haven't posted on this thing for over a week... entire archive's worth of time -- gone forever. What a crazy week. This time last week I was flying up to Wisconsin to go to a funeral. I've been there and back and to St. Louis and back since then. I'd like to just stay in one place (or at least one state) for a while now, ok? Traveling is nice, but I feel like Nomad: The Man Without a Country.

I'm not old enough to remember this, but after Watergate Captain America became so disillusioned with America that he could no longer wear his gay blue suit with the big white star and the ear wings. He changed his name to Nomad and beat everyone down with his naive political talk. He eventually changed back to Captain America because he was a man of much action but little conviction.

Anyway, I feel for Captain America and his disillusionment these days, after the Supreme Court made a bunch of decisions and then high-tailed it out of the courthouse, dodging the bullets and grenades of the American people to get to their souped-up Supreme Jaguars.

Q: What is the definition of Supreme?
A: According to Taco Bell, it is something with sour cream on top.
Q: What does that have to do with anything?
A: The Supreme Court is looking more and more like that definition fits, only it's not fresh sour cream, it's sour cream that's been lying out for a few days. Supreme Court or Court Supreme? I can't tell anymore.

First, the one that affects us the most but isn't so terribly bad. The court unanimously ruled that the landmark Sony decision (the one that enables people to use Tivo and VCR's and cassette tapes and so on) would not be reconsidered any time soon, and that technology in itself does not violate copyright. In the particular case they were looking at (MGM vs. Grokster), the court did say that a company using the technology could not encourage people to violate copyright, whatever that means(note: what that means is that free speech will be infringed on massive scale, just to appease a corporate entity). You can be sure the MPAA and the RIAA will be fighting to keep freedom from ringing whenever possible. The case is going back to the lower court with new guidelines. We'll see what happens from here. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban had some thoughts on the subject that I think are interesting.

Now on to the less important but more insane decisions: Let's say you're a human, and you work real hard and make a lot of money and are blessed enough to build your dream house by a nice river in a nice area outside the city. You spend 5 years perfecting this house and making it your own, as the city eventually grows out to meet you. A mall developer then spies your patch of land and says to himself, "With all the people moving out here, this riverfront property would be a nice place for a resort for us Fat Cats. I want it." He tries to buy it from you, but you say, "No way -- this is my dream house." That's the end of it, right? So, so, wrong.

The developer then goes to the city government and asks them to annex your land for the resort. The developer convinces the city that the resort is a better thing to have around than your house, and you are forced by the city to sell out your dream home anyway. As you weepily watch the bullodzers come and demolish everything you hold dear except your dog, Justice David Souter drives by on a scooter, shaking his gavel and laughing at you. What is your recourse? Nothing. All USA homeowners are in danger of being forcibly moved at any time just because the government wants to put another private enterprise there. That, my friends, is a better definition of tyrrany than anything you'll find in a dictionary. This court is insane. If I were a developer, I would find out where Justice David Souter lived and convince the city where he lives that I could use his property better than he can (there might be some "lobbying" involved, if you know what I mean), and kick his butt to the curb. I'd be riding by on my scooter, pointing and laughing at the guy in the robes with the gavel and the frowny-face.

In the other big decision, the court decided that the 10 Commandments are OK in Texas, but not in Kentucky. Or something. I didn't really follow them after they took their side-trip away from the constitution and into "France", where the phrase:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" means,
"Some Guy shall not put up a plaque that mentions a particular religion positively in a public place, unless he counters it with a bunch of stuff that makes it clear that he doesn't really believe in the religion or anything."
Again, free speech suffers. But our system of law is not actually based on the Ten Commandments, so we should probably not get our panties in a bunch about this no matter what side we're on. Of course, everyone does anyway.

It's good to be back.