Monday, May 9, 2011

we eat brains!

If zombies eat brains, then there are certainly zombies among us. Our brains are infested!! Much of our present time and brain-work is engrossed by the comings-and-going, doings, and oozings of the living dead or potentially undead. Our movie outings, literary expeditions, and TV watching choices currently consume our own brain matter in pursuit of understanding and avoiding the immanent threat of a zombie take-over.

Jane Austen has been snatched and turned into Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. "The Walking Dead" has infected the minds of AMC viewers. Zombie movies continue to abound. There are zombie video games. There is zombie porn. There is even zombie haiku. Here's one of my favorites from the Zombierama page:
I hunger for your
delirious cerebellum.
Where's the ice cream scoop?
Because of the vastness of the topic and the fleshy nature of the reanimation, tomorrow's and the ensuing day's themes will be that of the zombie.

 How did this all begin? Well, zombies are really just us... but an infected us. Like the plague, the Solanum infection spreads through ticks and rats (or other small mammals.) Basically, anytime there is an epidemic of plague, there is a corresponding outbreak of zombies. According to the Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency, the fledgling nation of Australia suffered many a zombie outbreak as its penal colonies created the "perfect storm" of crowded conditions and free-roaming infected rats. Luckily, James Godfrey, a British transplant had the composure and wherewithal to stop a potentially nation-ending explosion of zombies in Botany Bay in 1846. After a guard became ill and was imprudently and hastily buried somewhere near camp, he easily found himself able to dig out of said grave and return to his camp-mates as a newly born member of the undead. Those who could ran for it, but the prisoners who were chained in place found themselves with no possible defense. Completely vulnerable, they began to succumb one by one as the zombie population increased rapidly. Somehow keeping his mind while all around him became chaos, Godfrey was able to reach the keys to unlock his own chains and, so freed, he grabbed a machete and cleaved, lopped, and slashed every zombie within sight.... saving the work camp (and possibly the nation) from a Class 3 outbreak wherein, according to zombie expert and author of The Zombie Survival Guide, Max Brooks, you could expect
martial law, restricted travel, rationed supplies, federalized services, and strictly monitored communication... The initial phase will be one of chaos as those in power come to grips with the crisis. Riots, looting, and widespread panic will add to their difficulties, further delaying an effective response. While this is happening, those living within the infested area will be at the mercy of the undead. Isolated, abandoned, and surrounded by ghouls, they will have only themselves to depend on.
Thereafter, Godfrey was known as "Machete Jim." Despite his bravery and ingeniousness in a tight spot, Godfrey did not take advantage of any of the top 10 ways to kill a zombie... always keeping in mind that, just as they lurch and reach, arms outstretched, jaws chopping and ready, to chomp on our brains, it is their brains that we also must attack in order to finish zombies off for good. Of the creative and sometimes completely inconvenient best ways to kill a zombie, the following are unrivaled:
9. Drop an Egyptian obelisk on them. This is somewhat difficult to do, but will yield great results and will also be a lot of fun. You set up a trap and get several zombies to follow you through a corridor where you have an obelisk set to fall if a wire is tripped. The zombies, being brain dead as they are, won't avoid the wire and will cause the 10-ton stone to fall on top of them. While this isn't a direct attack on their head, it almost guarantees that their brain will be destroyed. Plus, it's a great way to brag to your friends, "Hey Joe, I killed a zombie with an obelisk this weekend. What did YOU do?"

2. Trap the zombie in a pit of concrete. This actually won't kill the zombie, but it's a good game to play with your friends. You'll need a pit of concrete with a depth of about 6 or 7 feet. You'll then coax a zombie or two toward the pit and let it fall into it. It'll sink in and won't be able to get out. The concrete will harden around the zombie, effectively trapping it in place. You can then play all sorts of fun games, like zombie poker or zombie golf.

1. Put the zombie through a wood chipper. This is one of the most brutal zombie kills that you can do and will be great fun. I recommend getting a friend to help you with this because you'll need to literally feed the zombie into the wood chipper. What you'll do is incapacitate it and then lift it up and put it through the wood chipper feet first. There's not much else to be said about this method other than that it's awesome.
I mean, who doesn't like zombie golf?

Zombies are humans -- diseased and infested and dying and, frankly, pretty thoughtless humans with only one thing on their minds (hmmmmm...) but they are humans nonetheless. They are not really the dead brought back to life, but humans brought to the brink of death, transformed by disease, put into a coma-like state wherein the heart stops and brain activity ceases, but life never actually completely desists. In this numb, anesthetized, paralyzed and hibernating state, the human metamorphoses into a zombie as "the virus mutates its cells into a completely new organ. The most critical trait of this new organ is its independence from oxygen. By removing the need for this all-important resource, the undead brain can utilize but is in no way dependent upon the complex support mechanism of the human body." (Max Brooks, The Zombie Survival Guide) Quite to the contrary, we regular humans need oxygen pretty badly. In fact, if you have been keeping up with radical health trends, you are already aware that many of us are concocting and imbibing a drink spiked with hydrogen peroxide in an attempt to increase our oxygen intake. Allegedly, this bleachy ambrosia will improve digestion, circulation, the functioning of your immune system, and cellular function in general. And after you have purchased a couple gallons of the miracle potion and sipped your daily quota, you can put it to all kinds of other uses: bath in it, use it on corns and athlete's foot, do your own enema, spray it in your pits as deodorant, freshen your breath, or do some purging. (I hope this last one comes as no surprise. Otherwise, you may want to also evaluate your current appetite for human gray matter.) Hydrogen peroxide and its oxygen-abundance attacks harmful anaerobic bacteria. Unlike antibiotics which kill off all of our bacterial colonies -- deleterious and favorable -- HP doesn't affect the aerobic friendly bacteria in our guts (and other places.) Goodbye yogurt -- hello bleach!! Just remember: A person can go a month without food. A person can go a couple days without water. But, starved of oxygen, we won't even last a minute before our brain cells start to kick the bucket. I wonder what would happen if you gave a zombie a hydrogen peroxide bath with a chaser of clean, cool Chlorox.

Zombies possess a strong sense of hearing (though this is debated and whether it is strong and then abates as the zombie decays also remains a question) and an even better sense of smell. "Follow your nose" is the zombie motto according to The Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency. Zombies can smell humans from miles away and this wafting scent of warm, beefy flesh generates a dopamine release into the zombie brain. Mmmmmm flesh.... even better, mmmmmm brains. Zombies also possess unusually strong jaws -- they can bite through metal! -- and a wicked vice-grip -- perhaps due to the thickening of muscle fibers and connective tissue that occurs as the disease progresses through their bodies. The blood of zombies is black and thick. This 'zombie oil' coagulates quickly and, as those of you who have ever shot a zombie are well aware, zombies rarely bleed to death. Zombies don't feel pain either. Damn these things are a pain in the butt! There is additional debate as to whether zombies retain a sixth sense. They do seem usually persistent and focused, even as their bodies decay and their minds turn to mush. As Brooks explains: "Does this mean that zombies possess a sixth sense? Perhaps. Living humans use less than 5 percent of their brain capacity. It is possible that the virus can stimulate another sensory ability that has been forgotten by evolution." Well, take that, natural selection!! (Also, speaking of the 5% thing... check out its mention in "65 Things to Do While Watching TV...")

I am no authority on zombies... not even close. Nor would I attempt to introduce you soundly to the basics here on Tomorrow's Theme. There are plenty of excellent zombie primers out there for you to check out if you are interested... or if you find yourself in the thorny position of suddenly needing more information. If so, try to keep your wits about you as you surf the web for solutions. As least zombies tend to move slowly (though even that is not guaranteed...) and at least your cerebral cortex is functioning at its full 5% capacity. Fire those neurons! And try to block out the groaning looming, lurking moans that ever-so-assuredly encroach towards you: "BBRRRAAAAAAIIIINNNSSSSS!!!!"

What does interest me is how we might recognize those zombies smart enough to lurk anonymously amongst us. You think I'm crazy? Oh no, it is indeed possible. Just think about your bleary-eyed, grumbling and mumbling co-worker who moronically and mindlessly processes piles of paperwork unreflectively only to have in the back of his mind a consumeristic and information-fevered obsession mirroring that of the more blatantly recognizable zombie. Click, click, click. Can't talk. Don't think. Must consume. Sound familiar?

5 ways to recognize the zombies already amongst us:

1. Your co-worker always glares at you, especially when you wear that sky blue v-neck sweater that exposes a little too much cleavage. Today, though, he mentions that he spotted you across the parking lot when you arrived at work (and the parking lot is approx. 1 mile by 1 mile in area!) "You are some pretty luscious-looking prey today..." he continues. At lunch, he continues his assault by describing how he ran over a possum on his drive home the previous night. "I decided to skip it though... Got you on the brain. That roadkill ain't got nothing on your meaty, enticing badonk!" You take this as his usual sexual harassment... sadly, you are sorely mistaken this time...

2. At the gym, the meaty darrick who you have had your eye on for weeks seems to be moving a bit slower and stiffer than normal. You brush it off and keep taking him in. Then, as he is pushing through his final rep on bench unassisted, he drops the barbell onto his well-chiseled chest. After a few guys lift it off of him, he sits up seemingly unscathed and feeling no pain. Then he moves in your direction. Nothing is going to deter his attack...

3. Girlfriend says she had a nose job and that's why she's wearing the bandage. But, her eyes seem ever so slightly more vacant than usual... which is hard seeing as she is an ardent Britney and Justin fan. "Never say never!" But, she hasn't laughed, giggled, or even smiled all day. She didn't even cry a river when Biebs showed up at your PR agency and asked specifically to be represented be her. ("Justin you can have all my stuff after I kill myself!!!") When she does open her mouth to eat her beef carpaccio lunch, you notice that her teeth look sharper and more menacing.

4. Everyone at work is really hungry. Everyone stumbles around, moving slowly, getting coffee absent-mindedly, moving like robots, eyes glazed like all is drudgery. Everyone is mentioning the upcoming apocalypse. Oh wait. That's just another normal day at the office. But why do they keep mentioning the demise of Ferdinand Magellan, Captain Cook, and Louis Pasteur as being some of their greatest conquests?

5. You have such a craving to go to Casa Mono for dinner and order the sweetbreads followed by the foie gras followed by the tripe followed by the bone marrow, and then to get on a plane and fly to Fergus Henderson's offal palace -- St. John's restaurant -- and cram your mouth with meat, meat, meat, especially brain.... despite the fact that you have been a strict vegan for a decade.

Good luck! Amongst us they lurk... inside us, they infect... and we may never even know...more tomorrow!

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