Walking Dead – metaphors

Remember the last season episode where right before our crew of intrepid survivors walks into the setup at Terminus Rick is showing Carl how to make a snare to trap game? He explains how the animal is funneled into the trap and is caught before it knows its even in jeopardy. Remember that?


So look at the metaphor in tonights show. The horse has been running around during this crisis and has been surviving just fine. And then…someone tries to reintroduce it to civilization, and once its in the pen behind the fence it gets swarmed and killed by zombies. It was safer outside the confines of the pen, taking its chances with everyone else.

Foreshadow much?

Walking Dead – Shane Was Right Edition

My wife pointed out, after last weeks episode of TWD, that Rick has become Shane. Shane was all about how they needed to do whatever was necessary, that this would not all blow over in a few months, and that the world was going to be a completely different place with different rules and different morals.

And, now, it appears that in Season Five Rick has become what Shane was in Season Two.


fullshaneNow, you could argue that Rick has never killed innocents for the sake of the group, as Shane did when he shot Otis, but in this most recent episode of TWD we see Rick casually saying that if it becomes necessary they’ll just “take” their new sanctuary from its owners. And Rick has, in the past, been less-than-reluctant to let strangers meet a gory demise without helping (which, yes, is not the same as killing them).

But it appears that ol’ Shane may have been ahead of his time in regards to his outlook and attitude.

Walking Dead – Episode 511

Man, I know the apocalypse can be a rough neighborhood….what with crazy one-eyed bossmen, colonies of cannibals, and just the general this-doesn’t-look-good crowd of dangerous survivors….but, geez….Rick and Co. are now just as bad as any post-apocalyptic gang of scumbags? Rick coldcocks a guy, takes his gear, takes his food, and threatens to kill him…and all the guy did was, unfortunately, use some language that was somewhat similar to what the folks at Terminus said. “Community for all” and “Stronger with you than without you” and all that jazz.

On the bright side, this episode was at least a somewhat better episode than the last couple that seemed to focus on experimental direction and storytelling.

Clearly, the end of the world is going to be rife with trust issues. Especially 18 months after the world flushes itself and you’ve spent the last year and a half being hunted, hounded, hungry, hurt and hopeless. But still….that was pretty thuggish behavior. I suppose it’s to show how the character of Rick has changed over time, or something like that.

Slightly better tactics than usual with a 2-man rule being shown, and more finger-off-the-trigger discipline than I’ve seen in a while. Thus far, these first three episodes of the new season seem pretty lame. I think I could have skipped the last three episodes and felt like I haven’t missed anything.

Oh, and probably more than anything else, the blogosphere will be burning up with much teeth-gnashing over the showing of a pair of gay guys kissing. You can show heads being impaled, limbs being ripped off, and cars literally covered in blood, but two guys kissing…thats objectionable. I kinda like the idea of them introducing a couple gay characters…(Everyone forget that there’s already a gay character in the group? Tara.) ..makes things seem a little more real and certainly opens up some previously unexplored story lines. When the end of the world rolls around there’s gonna be all sortsa folks running around trying to survive…men, women, blacks, whites, religious, non-religious, etc, etc. Stands to reason that there’s gonna be some gay folks and couples out there as well. I’d worry less about ‘what’ folks are and more about whether they’re ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

All in all, probably the strongest episode of the season in terms of story and plot development. Now that the ‘Alexandria Safe Zone’ storyline from the comics has been picked up I look forward to seeing how it develops.

Happy holidays

09-festivus-poles.w529.h352.2xThere’s a handful of holidays this month, some secular and some not-so-secular. It would be presumptuous for me to assume everyone has the same belief system, so I’ll just cover all the bases with a ‘I hope you have a happy whatever-holdiay-you-celebrate’.

Kwanzaa, Hannukah, Christmas, Festivus, Solstice, Voodoo Day, whatever……December really manages to pack a lot into it, doesn’t it?

Be safe on the roads, guys…drunks abound on these sorts of occasions.

New Terminator movie

It seems that in the world of franchised movies these days there’s the notion of ‘resetting’ the franchise by giving some deus ex machina reason for timelines/history to be altered, thereby allowing sequels that can ignore previous movies. Most notably the last X-Men movie and the last two Star Trek movies. Well, it appears the Terminator franchise is headed in that direction:

I’ll go see it, of course, but from the trailer it simply looks like a mashup of T1 and T2 with some better effects and a virtually completely recast roster..(except for dat vun notable excepshun.)

But, really, who doesn’t wanna go see Arnie rockin’ the flattop and making bad one-liners?

“Collapse” – The post-apocalyptic card game

While I’ll be the first to agree that the end of the world will not be all sunshine-n-stun-grenades, the fantasy apocalyptic worlds can be entertaining.

Collapse is a deck building card game for 2-4 players set in the final months before the end of the world. Players can choose to play one of four world-ending Collapse scenarios, including: financial, biological, natural, or nuclear; or they can play at random where any combination of events may occur.

When playing Collapse, you will need to stock up on supplies such as food and weapons, as well as build fortifications on your home to earn months of survival time. Just remember, time is running out, and you and your neighbors are competing for the same resources. If you are going to survive, you will need a healthy mix of strategy and flexibility as available supplies change and events unfold.

Kind of amusing.

I’m still working on a bunch of back-end stuff here at the blog so more ‘substantive’ posting is slowed down. I do appreciate everyone hanging around while I get this sussed out, though.

Observations on infrastructure failure in fiction

Originally published at Notes From The Bunker. You can comment here or there.

Get ten survivalists in a room and you’ll get ten (at least) different reasons why they’re survivalists. The Peak Oil nut will shout down the hyperinflation cheerleader who is sneering at the Bird Flu advocate and they all get together to snicker at the zombie apocalypse fanboy.

But, ignore the disease and look at the symptoms…zombies don’t eat food, so why are you storing those freeze drieds? “Because the grocery supply chain will be disrupted”, replies the machete equipped lad. And what about Bird Flu lady? Cans of Spam don’t catch bird flu and die, so why the cases of food in her basement? “Because the grocery stores won’t be getting any more inventory as things are quarantined”, she’ll say between spritzes of Clorox. And the Peak Oil wonk, asked why he’s stocking up on canned tuna when tuna don’t drive or require petrochemical lubrication, says “because the grocery stores won’t be getting trucks of food in if those trucks can’t run.” Each one of these folks sees a different disease, but the symptoms, by and large, will all be the same – the grocery store will be useless. Infrastructure will be affected and distribution networks/chains will be destroyed or disabled.

So, really, 90% of what we’re preparing for is infrastructure failure – the inability (or total collapse) of a distribution system (distribution of food, distribution of power, distribution of supplies, distribution of security, etc.) While it does matter how that failure occurs (an interruption in electrical service from a fallen power line will probably be remedied faster than one from a comet strike that wipes out the eastern seaboard), the preparations against that failure differ only in scale (a weeks worth of generator fuel will probably get you past the fallen power line, it might take significantly more to get past the comet strike.) But, fundamentally, no matter what we think the main event will be, we all agree that infrastructure will be affected.

Looking at the crop of post-apocalyptic films and television shows, the one thing they all have in common is that infrastructure failure is central to their premise. “Jericho”, “The Walking Dead”, “I Am Legend”, etc, etc. are far less compelling without the element of scarcity-of-supplies. Surviving a nuclear war is a snap if the power stays on, the water keeps flowing, the grocery trucks keep driving and the cops still make their rounds. Zombies aren’t any more dangerous than rabid dogs when society is still functioning like it does normally. Take away the electricity, water, power, heat, food and ‘civilization’, though, and all those things become something else.

I mention this because I was watching the latest episode of “The Walking Dead” (a guilty pleasure) and if you ignore the there-might-be-a-zombie-behind-this-door moments, and watch it with a critical eye towards how infrastructure fails, the results of that failure, and the methods of coping with that failure…then the show becomes a bit more entertaining (although it will probably result in more yelling at the screen.) Electricity is virtually unavailable, food is scrounged, medical supplies are exhausted, fuel is scavenged, communications are nil, etc, etc. On a larger scale, transportation is greatly limited due to obstructed highways and fuel shortages, long-distance communications are gone as the telecommunications networks fail due to fuel and maintenance issues, lawlessness (in the sense of people killing you for your stuff) is the norm….and all of these things occur (or have occurred) in pretty much any disaster. Remove the flesh-eating undead and the infrastructure failure (and it’s consequences) are pretty much exactly what you had after Hurricane Katrina.

I have absolutely no idea what the future looks like. I’m pretty sure zombies, the rapture, and global thermonuclear war aren’t on the menu. But, no matter what sort of unpleasantness does kick off the freefall into chaos you can be certain that it’s most manifest component will be infrastructure failure. And thats why I like watching these end-of-the-world shows and reading the books – I like seeing situations and how some people think folks should react to them. (And, so far, no one has really impressed me with the depths of their preparedness…with one exception.)

While I’m sure you and I have a good enough imagination that we can ‘wargame’ potential problems arising from various system failures, I find that watching fictional interpretations of the apocalypse help me to think through scenarios I may not have previously considered. Sure the premises of some of these shows may be far-fetched or extremely unlikely, but the results are a different story..alien invasion or hurricane, the power is going down. So, I guess if someone were to ask me what it is I’m preparing against (or preparing for, I suppose) I’d have to say ‘infrastructure failure’…unlike many other apocalyptic scenarios I can at least point to dozens of occurrences of that, wheres I’m hard pressed to point to some of the other scenarios.