Wednesday, April 15, 2009

National Poetry Month - The Poetry of Music

Something a little different...

If you haven't already figured it out, poetry for me is about imagery and sound. Vivid imagery is - in my mind - a hallmark of incredible poetry. And, forgive my mullet and the rock and roll devil horns, but some of the most incredible poetry ever written can be found in song lyrics. Now don't get me wrong, most pop music is - at its heart - soulless shit, and the lyrics reflect that. Sometimes it transcends the soullessness, but not often. However, other forms of music have had some of the most incredibly poetic writers imagineable... and they don't get the credit for it.

Jim Morrison, for instance. I'm not a huge Doors fan, but I appreciate Morrison's ability to write incredible lyrics. I didn't always feel this way. My friend Kristin gave me a book of his poetry some years back and it was incredible. I realized then that he was an artist. It gave me an appreciation for his music that I didn't previously have.

The list of musicians who are poets is exhaustive and I will not go into them, but I did want to post the lyrics to one of my favorite songs; Blood, Milk, & Sky by Rob Zombie.

Zombie's got some crazy lyrics and in most cases it's just a mish-mash of imagery with little sense... but this song is somehow different. I should add that I've mentioned this song before in my list of top twenty songs of all time. But I feel it necessary to show how the lyrics, even apart from the incredible music, stand up as poetry.

Take a look and you be the judge: Does this qualify as poetry? I think it does...

Blood,Milk, & Sky

The siren sings a
Lonely song of all the
Wants and hungers
The lust of love a brute
Desire - the ledge of life
Goes under - divide the
Dream into the flesh
Kaleidoscope and -
Candle eyes - empty
Winds scrape on the
Soul - but never stop
To realize -
Animal whisperings
Intoxicate the night
Hypnotize the deperate
Slow motion light - wash
Away into the rain
Blood, milk and sky
Hollow moons illuminate
And beauty never dies
Running wild running blind
I breathe the body deep
1,000 years beside myself
I do not sleep - seduce
The world it never
Screams dead water lies
Ride the only one who
Knows - beauty never dies

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

National Poetry Month - Charles Simic

More National Poetry Month observation...

The following is one of my favorite poems by Charles Simic. It's a short little piece that pays homage to John Donne's early Sensuality poem, The Flea.

Whereas Donne's was rife with the wooing and imagery reflective of a much more romantic era... Simic's Love Flea has a darker slant to it. The imagery shows a level of obsession that borders on the creepy. What I especially love about Simic is that, even though he is not a native born English speaker, his poetry and language skills are better than people who've been speaking English for their entire lives.

And that's really sort of the crux of why I'm celebrating National Poetry Month. Our language and the expression of it are essential. I once read somewhere that the United States was the only country in the world where more than 50% of its students fail their own language.

That's shameful. And that's why I ask you to indulge my celebration of National Poetry month. I may be an English Lit and poetry dork, but I'm also dismayed at the lack of respect our own unique language and voice gets - even from those of us that grew up speaking and reading it.

Anyway...back to creepy, obsessive poems about fleas....

Love Flea

He took a flea
From her armpit
To keep

And cherish
In a matchbox,
Even pricking his finger

From time to time
To feed it
Drops of blood.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Movie Review - Zombie Diaries (2008)

I love some of the things that are happening in Britain as far as horror movies are concerned. The independent market is doing some great stuff and some of the independent directors and writers are finally being recognized and given big budgets to do some great, great horror. I trace the resurgance of British Horror back to Neil Marshall's deliciously violent and genre bending Dog Soldiers. Marshall has since gone on to direct one of my all time favorite movies, The Descent.

Even beyond this, Danny Boyle singlehandedly resurrected the zombie genre with his dark and oh-so-English-zombie-movie-that-didn't really-have-real zombies-in-it, 28 Days Later. Well directed horror films like this have returned England to the horror map in a way we haven't seen since the glory days of Hammer Films.

It is against this backdrop of heightened expectations that I approached Zombie Diaries. And I'd read some good early buzz about an English Diary of the Dead that out-zombied the master himself -- George A. Romero.

High praise indeed, and I approached the film open-mindedly based on some of the other great stuff I'd seen coming out of Britain.

I can now say, unreservedly, that the fuckers who said this movie was good were liars.

The movie started out promisingly enough. It tells the story of a group of news reporters covering a story in Northern England. Filmed in the first person, cinema verite style so popular nowadays (ala Blair Witch, or Cloverfield, or Diary of the Dead); there is good exposition about rumors of quarantines and a sickness in continental Europe and England. The crew, a likeable enough group, arrive at a farm to find an empty farmhouse. They break in and there is an incredible scene of them searching the house and finding the now zombiefied occupants in an upstairs room. Fleeing, they run into the woods and it's apparent that the zombie apocalypse is on!

It started out well enough and I was enjoying it. Then, it switched to another story several months into the zompocalypse, where we follow a ridiculously stupid trio of scavengers as they try to find food and supplies in an empty village. The actors in this vignette are made especially annoying because one of them is supposed to be an American. The actor playing the American says things like "boot" and "lorry" with his poorly concealed English accent, makes snide, stupid comments about how Brits don't have guns, and then shows he is completely incapable of shooting or handling a gun. This, by the way, is a rampant behavior throughout. The actors handle guns like people who have - understandably - never handled guns. But this is not the place to discuss the idiocy of English reactionary anti-gun lawmaking... although it would help make the movie more believable.

The scene shifts several more times and we eventually settle on a group trying to survive on a farm. The stories eventually converge and, in a heavyhanded way... the drector and writer show that - amidst the horror of a zombie outbreak - humans are still more horrifying and monstrous then the reanimated undead.

I find the premise and resolution to this movie downright insulting.

The makers of the film, in their attempt to make the film meaningful and cautionary about the human condition, succeed in only implying that they're smarter than the audience. Condescension and smugness are - as I said before - insulting.

The actors weren't all terrible, but they weren't professionals, either. In fact, I couldn't shake the feeling that this was a college film project; a project so bad that the only way this film could have possibly gotten a distribution deal was because the director managed to give a blowjob to someone in the business. That's right, someone had to become a whore to get this film out there. It's the only explanation.

What else was bad? Oh, plenty...

The camera work was terrible. It was nausea inducing, and I've never - ever - gotten that motion sickness feeling when watching any other movie of this type. What was worse, and almost criminal, was that the cameras were handled by the actors -- and nobody had the wits or foresight about themselves to say, "linger on the approaching zombie and NOT the ground, the tree, the sky, and your big, stupid feet in rapid fucking succession!"

Also, an hour and a half of a camera bouncing around jarringly whilst hearing heavy breathing as an out of shape actor runs about aimlessly does not a good movie viewing experience make. Even if you do punctuate the out of breath running with the occasional clipped, British-accented, "Oh dear."

And that cool cover art (see it at the top of the review)? Yeah... typical straight to DVD shenanigans. I hate that. When you spend an assload of money - more than you did to actually make the movie itself - to design a really, really cool DVD cover in order to TRICK people into buying or renting your crappy movie - you are obviously a douchebag. So, whoever's responsible for that? Bravo... you're a douchebag.

The worst part is I bought into the hype and wasted part of a gift card to buy this on DVD. I spent $20 to own what could best be described as a movie that was filmed by simply handing some college kids a camera and saying, "Here. Have fun!"

So let me sum up and reiterate... horrible acting, terrible dialogue, stupid story. The only reason this film didn't get a Zero out of 5 Chomped Brains was because of the honestly good beginning and the fact that it had SOME zombies in it. Nothing else redeemed it, that's for sure!

Aaarrrgghhh! This movie was so stupid it made me want to kick small children and puppies out of sheer spite!!!!

Doctor Zombie's Rating: 1 out of 5 Chomped Brains

Saturday, April 11, 2009

National Poetry Month - TS Eliot

A week ago, on Facebook, there was a Literary Snob meme going around. My brother Curt said, under his favorite poem, that it was TS Eliot's Hollow Men. I had to laugh because Hollow Men is my favorite TS Eliot poem. In fact, when I was filling out the meme myself, I struggled between listing that as my favorite poem, or listing Shakespeare's Sonnet XVII.

I opted for the Sonnet, but it was a hard decision.

I love all of Eliot's work. Despite claims by the literati that his poetry was not, in fact, poetry... he helped define the modernist poetry movement in the first half of the 20th century.

And Hollow Men is quintessential Eliot. Given that it is a free form poem and there is no meter per se, the mere economy of his words and stanzas generate their own meter. And the meter moves and adjusts throughout.

There is also a darkness to this poem that appeals to me emotionally. Eliot won the Nobel Prize in Literature and his detractors can say whatever they like... but in Doctor Z's book, T.S. Eliot is a genius.

Enjoy.



The Hollow Men
by T.S. Eliot

Mistah Kurtz—he dead.

A penny for the Old Guy

I

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us—if at all—not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

II

Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death’s dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind’s singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.

Let me be no nearer
In death’s dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer—

Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom

III

This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.

Is it like this
In death’s other kingdom
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.

IV

The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death’s twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.

V

Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning.


Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom
For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

Movie Review - Fido (2006)


I was excited to finally get a chance to see Fido. I had heard great things about it on the various horror sites I lurk about on on a daily basis.

This independent zombie film does not fail to deliver.

Directed and written by a relatively inexperienced team, this wonderful zomcomrom (zombie comedy/romance) hits all the right notes and, in addition to paying homage and respecting the genre's established conventions, it manages to add to the genre with a story line that is innovative and fresh.

The story takes place sometime in the late 1940's or early 1950's. It's after the war, but instead of having fought Germans, Italians, and the Japanese... mankind was pitted against hordes of the ravenous undead. This simple premise is what makes this film seem so absolutely brilliant. It still has America luxuriating in the blissful, innocent, post-war years that my father was born into. The "golly gee", Leave It To Beaver world where men wear chinos and work to provide a living. The women wear house gowns and wait for their men to return home, their makeup done and a pre-diner cocktail waiting for their man. And the kids dream of being cowboys and trade baseball cards while playing ball in the sandlot at the end of the street.

And Fido perfectly captures that nostalgic innocence beutifully, although there's now a darker side to it. Kids have shooting practice in their curriculum at school, learning to defend their families and selves with zombie killing headshots. The idyllic towns are surrounded by fences, behind which a wasteland crawling with the undead shamble about in search of warm, living flesh. As an added bonus...technology has now enabled the Zombie War survivors to even domesticate zombies with a special collar... turning them into the perfect, docile house servent.

And this is the crux of the story. The Robinsons are living the new American dream.. with ineffectual and zombie-traumatized dad (played by the always great character actor, Dylan Baker), neglected wife Helen (Carrie Ann Moss) and their son Timmy. Helen, tired of her husband's fear of zombies and wanting to 'keep up with the Joneses', orders their own zombie. Fido (played by Billy Connelly) arrives... and Fido becomes the dog that Timmy never had.

That is, until Fido's collar begins to malfunction.

The cinematography and visuals of this flick were absolutely incredible. The Director and DP did a fabulous job of capturing the look and feel of 1950's America. And then, there are scenes like the one where a recently zombified neighbor goes on the hunt. Beautifully rendered, the zombie stalks through the night against a backdrop of the moon which fills the screen.

There was little gore in the film, but what was done was done brilliantly. The costumes, the sets, the actors...everything was dead on.

The true standout performances though, go to lead zombie Fido and Carrie Anne Moss' Helen. Despite heavy zombie makeup that makes him near unrecognizable, and the limiting of his lines to zombie moans; Billy Connelly manages to express more emotion and pathos with just his expressions then Kevin Costner has done in ANY of his movies. Carrie Anne Moss, who I've wanted desperately since The Matrix, furthers adds to my unrequited love and sexual frustration by appealing to my 1950's pinup girl fetish.



The other characters are interesting and comic in their own right. There's the Robinson's neighbor, Mr. Theopolis (played brilliantly by Tim Blake Nelson) and his ucloseness and unexplainedly unnatural relationship to his zombie, Tammy. Then we have the villain, Special agent Bottoms, played by the excellent Henry Czerny. All of the characters are written well and the actors breathed life into the script.

Quite simply, this is one of the best zombie movies to come out in a long time.

And, I think what works so well is it's retelling of history. It makes a zombie war... and the time period in which it happens... seem believable. Recently, many of the zombie and horror sites have been excited about a novel called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith. It's a retelling of Jane Austen's literary classic, Pride and Prejudice, but only with zombies.

I think this, and Fido, are an incredible idea. The zombie genre has become stale and something of a cliche; and historic reworkings are breathing new life into my beloved genre. And Doctor Zombie couldn 't be happier.

So - Fido. This is a must see. That is all!

Doctor Zombie's Rating: 5 Out of 5 Chomped Brains!!!

P.S - Mmmm.... Carrie Ann Moss...

Friday, April 10, 2009

From Plath to Zombie...

So, as promised... I led off National Poetry Month with one of my favorite Sylvia Plath poems, and now it's time to share some of my own humble work. And by humble, I mean shitty, trite, childish, and really really really bad!

This is one I wrote and had published somewhere or other. I believe it was online and the site is no longer around - which could mean one of two things. A) They were less concerned with paying the bills as they were with publishing poetry, or B) I'm the Ted McGinley of poetry and, if you're publishing a poem by Dr. Zombie, you'd best get ready to start bailing because your boat's a-sinking!!!

Anyway, the poem below's a short piece I wrote when I was in college and - truth be told - I still kind of like the imagery in it. Especially the juxtaposition of the imagery in the context of sound.

It's one of the few poems I wrote that I actually like... so take that for what it's worth. Either way, I still suck at poetry....

Parade of Souls

Wispy ghosts
dancing in the empty streets
between the silent buildings
and under
the smiley moon
and flickering street lamps

They pass soundlessly
through the stillness
and move on
through the night
leaving only
their tattered shrouds
and the
endless roar of silence.


I have no idea what it's about, it was mostly just an experiment in imagery.

So... feel free to look at it and comment away. Don't be shy... and don't worry about my feelings. Part of being an amoral sociopath means I can't be hurt by criticism... which is cool, right?

Watch for my next post where I'll share one of my favorite TS Eliot poems.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

April Is National Poetry Month

So... April is National Poetry Month.

I think it's wonderful that we celebrate poetry, although I will admit that - while I am reasonably proficient at prose - I actually suck at writing poetry. Which is funny because I have a deep and abiding love for the form and frequently read and enjoy it.

That being said, I will be celebrating National Poetry Month here in Doctor Zombie's Midnight Theater of Terror. Whether it's the English major/dork in me, or my unfathomable need to fill my life with pain and embarrassment, I will spend this month sharing some of my favorite poets and poetry -- as well as some of my OWN... as painful as that's going to be.

Call it the attention whore in me.

Look at this way, I will also be commenting and mercilessly ridiculing my own horrible attempts at poetry -- and encourage you to do the same! Nothing like a little blood sport to make one appreciate the masters, huh?

So... to kick off National Poetry Month, I figured I'd go with one of my favorite poets, Sylvia Plath. I'm also doing this because I just read that, a few days ago, her own son killed himself. Is there such a thing as a suicide gene?

This poem, by the way, is the last one she wrote before taking her own life. In essence, she wrote her own eulogy.



Edge


The woman is perfected
Her dead

Body wears the smile of accomplishment,
The illusion of a Greek necessity

Flows in the scrolls of her toga,
Her bare

Feet seem to be saying:
We have come so far, it is over.

Each dead child coiled, a white serpent,
One at each little

Pitcher of milk, now empty
She has folded

Them back into her body as petals
Of a rose close when the garden

Stiffens and odors bleed
From the sweet, deep throats of the night flower.

The moon has nothing to be sad about,
Staring from her hood of bone.

She is used to this sort of thing.
Her blacks crackle and drag.


Friday, April 03, 2009

Back in the Saddle, Figuratively Speaking...

So I’ve been criminally negligent in my posting lately. I’ve lots of stuff going on, and I’ve, quite frankly, been neglecting my blog for the evil that is Facebook. Add to that the fact that I’m working two jobs, busting my ass trying to get agents and editors to pick up my newest novel - A Darkness Within, and I’ve also been dealing with some medical stuff that is directly related to the fact that I’m a fat ass… and I haven’t had the time or energy to devote to this like I should.

So I’m going to try to be better about updating, I promise! In fact, I’ve got three or four movie reviews that I need to write up and post, as well as today’s post with the metric fuckton of links I’ve found over the last few weeks. Be patient with the good Doctor, dear reader, I promise I’ll continue to write and post because - really - I’m an attention whore and, if I don’t write, I’ll lose my mind and actually start listening to the screaming voices in my head. When that happens, it’s only a matter of time before I show up at someone’s door with a bag full of sharp and pointy medical instruments.

And none of us want that, do we?

So, on to the links…

I’ve said it countless times, but I get the sense that some of you still aren’t listening. I am a huge geek. I’m an alpha geek. When speaking of myself, I should put GEEK in all caps! Don’t believe me? Let me prove it. I’ve become a huge follower of this site and/or blog. That’s right, I’ve been following the exploits of Wil Wheaton. Now I know what some of you are saying. You’re saying, “WHAT?!? Wesley Crusher? I HATE that dude!” And believe me when I say I was right there with you at one time. The thing is, as I get older, I realize that the cat was just doing a job and wasn’t writing all the scripts. I like reading about his life post ST:TNG because he, like the good Doctor Zombie, is honest and unabashed in his self-proclaimed geekishness. So there. I’ve said it. I dig Wil Wheaton. In fact, I’d totally hang out with him. I’d buy him beer and we’d split the case, and we’d get drunk discussing the efficiency of warp nacelles and whether or not he ever saw Marina Sirtis naked. Wil Wheaton rocks!

My regular readers should know some other basic truths about me from my blog. They should know I’m a geek of epic proportions, they should know that I have an unnatural and decidedly creepy fascination with horror movies, and they would also tell you that I love stories about cannibalism and necrophilia. I don’t know why I’m fascinated with these stories, but I am. Maybe it’s my inability to wrap my undead head around how absolutely fucked up one has to be to sink to such unplumbed depths of depravity. I don’t know why, but I’m fascinated. That being said, this story is a testament to how weird, bizarre, and twisted human beings can get. And… for extra cool bonus points, this took place in Doctor Zombie’s state of Ohio, down in Cincinnati. As an aside on this… part of my duties at my part time security job at the local hospital is to pick up the bodies of people who’ve died and transport them to the morgue. I check in the bodies, move them around, occasionally help the coroner or the Eye Bank people prepare them, and even bag them when the nurse’s are being lazy. I can say, without equivocation, that the smells, sights, and sounds (yes, SOUNDS) one deals with when handling the deceased are not in ANY WAY sexually arousing. That this dude did this is seriously deranged and disgusting. Deranged, disgusting, and fascinating because of how creepy it is.

I’ve seen these before, but these crazy perspective chalk drawings never cease to amaze. The ones in this article are way cool, especially because they have a post apocalyptic feel to them. One thing I can say is that, while the good Doctor is an incredible writer, I do wish that I had some artistic talent. I seriously have trouble drawing a straight line to make a stick figure. I’ve always been in awe of people who could do things like this. What’s worse is that I friends who are artists of this caliber. And I love them as friends, but hate them because of their talent and ability. It is a hate borne out of envy. Is that wrong?

This story is a few weeks old, but I find it fascinating on a lot of different levels. An excavation of a plague grave in Italy has unearthed evidence of a vampire.



All right, it wasn’t a vampire, but it was what the superstitious, medieval gravediggers of the time did with what they thought was a vampire. I love this sort of story, and there’s an even cooler link attached to it with pictures of the actual grave. Which brought up an interesting question to me; namely, is excavating plague graves safe? I remember when Mrs. Zombie and I went on our honeymoon to London, we visited Greenwich where there is a big open field outside of the Greenwich Observatory named Black Heath. It’s a lovely park where families were having picnics, kids were playing, people were jogging, and it was being enjoyed by all. The thing is, I later found out that it’s a big, undeveloped park and called Black Heath because, back in medieval times, it was actually where London buried the bodies of victims of the Black Death. It was undeveloped because there was a risk of re-releasing the plague. Cool story, huh? Apparently, it’s untrue… but I find it deliciously chilling to think that an errant bulldozer and a misread work order could unleash a new onslaught of Yersinia Pestis on an unsuspecting world.

I can watch this GIF for hours. This is what happens when Millenials do too many bong hits and decide to do something cool and EXTREME; when, in fact, it will almost surely result in an epic fail. Idiots.

Found this article about a cadre of women fighters living in the hills of the Ukraine like Shaolin monks. This is sexy on so many levels… and this is the sort of thing gamers and geeks the world over have fantasies about. Soooo sexy….

This LiveJournal entry has created quite a bit of discussion over at Zombie Squad, and I had to link to it. Fair warning before you click it, though… this is, quite possibly, the worst fantasy novel EVER. If you are easily offended by horrible writing, save yourself a click. Seriously. What cracks me up is that it is like a description of a woman by a fantasy gamer/LARP’er who’s never ventured out of the womblike safety of Mom’s basement and laid eyes on a real girl. It’s like this scene in The 40 Year Old Virgin, where Steve Carrell tries to describe the feel of breasts, having never felt them.



Someone on ZS also mentioned that the monumentally bad fantasy novel was like reading any of the Gorn books. I read those back in college and, until they mentioned it, I had totally forgotten how bad the Gorn books really were. They were, like the book above, misogynistic crap. What’s scary is that there are actually people who have devoted their lives to following the “Way of Gorn”. Seriously.

On a related note, sometime I fear for humanity.

Finally, I’ve two links to the British press. I’m not really sure how I feel about the British press at times. They don’t have the standards we do, and can sometimes print outright bullshit with no care for the consequences. It’s yellow journalism at its worst, and I hate them for it. But then, there’s the snarky, sarcastic side of their reporting. I love this dearly and it’s what keeps pulling me back to The Sun and The UK Daily Mail. Nobody does snarky better than the Brits, and this article about President Obama’s visit to the UK for the G20 meeting was fucking brilliant and wholly unlike anything you’d read here in the US… even in the tabloids. The only place you can read this sort of cattiness is in the blogosphere, but even that douchebag Perez Hilton doesn’t do it as well or as well written.

The second link is to a trailer of the new Sasha Baron Cohen movie, Bruno. I’ve got to say, this cat’s a genius. He’s actually managed to out Andy Kaufman Andy Kaufman and taken this particular brand of humor and art to levels never before seen. This movie looks fucking hilarious and I’m looking forward to it.

That’s all for now, dear readers; unpleasant dreams!