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May 30, 2008 |

By Ted Boynton | Boozehound Cinephile | May 30, 2008 |

Sorry about the long column today, but we’re talking about important things, as important as it ever gets in my brain, anyways. We’re talking crazy, and I’ve got plenty, bitches! We have a critical beverage to discuss, a zombie war to prepare for, and a mini-comment diversion that should appeal to your rotten, black little hearts.

Pop culture item consumed: 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later, leavened with my A-number-one beverage of choice.

Beverage consumed: Bourbon on the rocks. I’ve been saving this one, the iron fist in the velvet glove, for a special column I knew would appeal to the average Pajiban, as if a Pajiban could ever be average. (No extra charge for the pandering!)

My epitaph: “Bourbon is tits.” Poured straight on the rocks, or shaken with lemon juice and simple syrup for a whiskey sour, or mixed with bitters and sugar for an Old Fashioned, or stirred with sweet vermouth for a Manhattan … am I making my point? Gin and vodka offer more versatility, but for a primal boots-knocking between your mouth and your brain, bourbon cannot be beaten.

As for recommendations, I’ll drink just about any bourbon less dangerous than paint-thinner, but my heart lies with Wild Turkey 101. There are many “finer” bourbons, including my other favorite, Knob Creek - that’s what I drink on the days I don’t want to end up yelling at the goddamn kids to get off my fucking lawn. There are plenty more; you could go through three livers just on the Bs: Basil Hayden, Booker’s, Baker’s, Blanton’s, and Bulleit, just to name the ones I like. But when I want a fucking drink - which is more than once a week - I grab my half-gallon jug of WT101, and sometimes I sip straight from the bottle. (On the odd days, I pour a Vesper and think about Daniel Craig.) When I’m feeling especially frisky, I drink my Wild Turkey neat, with a splash of cold water to make the sure the lining of my throat stays attached.

How Bourbon Relates to the Coming Zombie War: Twice annually, on my birthday and on Christmas, Mrs. socalled buys me a case of the half-gallon bottles of WT101. Each time, I well up a little at her thoughtfulness and promise to drink to her health (which I always do anyway - gents, every drink should be christened with “Here’s to you, gorgeous.”) Then I cart the crate to my “special zombie supplies” area, aka “The Apocalypse Kit.” Over the years, I’ve managed to save about three crates of bourbon for the inevitable zombie invasion. (Zombie invasion kit sold separately.) When they come, it’ll be full-speed zombies, and you’ll want a well-lubricated, deliberate mind.

Summary of action: Full-Speed Zombies! Run for the fucking hills!

28 Days Later is both my favorite zombie movie and my favorite post-apocalypse movie. If you haven’t seen it, shame on you. Romero purists are correct that it is not technically a zombie movie, which is inadvertent praise disguised as dipshit-geek criticism. The film is Danny Boyle’s take on the hubris theme of the genre, presented as a balls-to-the-wall horror movie intermingled with a moving survivors’ tale. The plot is oh-so-simple and horrifyingly likely, knowing our evil government. When a PETA-type activist group tries to liberate some infected chimpanzees from a government research facility, they unwittingly release on England a virus that causes homicidal fury in the infected. A bike messenger (Cillian Murphy) who had just suffered a car crash awakes from a coma in an empty, devastated London.

Boyle’s film is a minor masterpiece of post-apocalyptic blight resulting from pre-apocalyptic hubris, though I’m not totally down with his vision. While the film is absolutely brilliant overall, the third act sags considerably with an anti-military message that doesn’t bear up. That said, Cillian Murphy and Naomi Harris delivered revelatory performances of sphincter-clinched grit, and the finicky, last-detail care shown in making the film impresses me more every time I see it. Try running the film frame by frame in the scene where Murphy finds a public kiosk littered with missing persons notices and government warnings from the time of the infection. In real-time the scene lasts about 20 seconds. Slowing it down reveals an obsessive level of detail in the hand-scrawled notes and tacked-up photos of the missing, rendering all the more heartbreaking the panic and fast-ebbing hope of a society eating itself alive. Twenty seconds of carefully crafted footage speaks volumes about 28 days of shock, despair, and numb resignation.

Romero purists should spare us the rant about how Days is not actually a zombie movie. While technically accurate, the observation ignores the three primary goals of Romero and his progeny: (a) scare the fucking shit out of the viewer; (b) implicitly comment on the hubris and shallowness of man; (c) see if there’s any shit left in the viewer, and if so, scare it the fuck out of him. The 28 films bring that shit with a hammer, and they’re just that much scarier because you know some Cheney-spawn, neo-con Acolyte of Satan is actually working on a Rage virus in a bunker somewhere. At any rate, while Romero’s place in the filmmakers’ pantheon is quite secure, he never had full-speed zombies.

Full-speed zombies, a la the Dawn of the Dead remake and 28 Days Later, make me shart myself a little. Regular shambling zombies, such as in the recent Diary of the Dead, call to mind Shaun of the Dead, which makes me chuckle. Which do you think a zombie should cause: a shart or a chuckle?

We watched Weeks recently - first and last time for Mrs. socalled; yes, the cock-punch hurt - and it’s a weak “C” on the A+ curve set by Days. Still and all, the anecdotal evidence indicates that full-speed zombies scare the fucking bejesus out of me. 28 Weeks Later kind of sucks, but it stands up to re-watching in a cheesy, Halloween II sort of way. Robert Carlyle was excellent, as usual, and his scenes were truest to the original spirit of Days. In particular, the set-up, in which he and his wife shelter with other survivors and rely on an uneasy routine of caged domesticity to carry them through, is an effective vehicle to recapture to shattering terror of discovery and compromised defenses so effectively conveyed in the first film. Alas, Weeks quickly devolves into Resident Evil laziness, with a cartoon military first protecting, then attacking a video game city of lambs brought to slaughter. Will the good-looking sniper, who practically begs for his own first-person shooter game, find a way to deliver the cute kids and cuter female doctor to the circling helicopter, piloted by a reassuringly familiar Michael from “Lost”? Do I give a fuck? (Hint: I do not give a fuck.)

(The scene in the subway, though? Where the lights go out and full-speed zombies attack escaping survivors? Tits. Like bourbon. Tasty, orphan-trade bourbon. Tasty, Rage-infected orphans.)

Special Zombie Invasion Advice: Several years ago, as I watched the Katrina aftermath, I concluded that my home city, San Francisco, is headed for the equivalent of a Zombie Deluge. It may not be actual zombies (disclaimer: It clearly will be), but we’re getting our 7.0 Big One at some point.

Beyond the mere prospect of being wiped off the face of the earth, there are a couple of things working against us in a big way. First, the willful inaction of the federal government is almost assured. Sure, New Orleans was black, which Double-Dipshit-ya couldn’t give a shit about. But in the neo-fascist eyes of Shrub/Dick, my fair city is lower than their opinion of a colony o’ musical yet lazy negras. Sure, the Illiterate Draft Evader despises the dahkies, but at least they serve a purpose, “serve” being the operative word. San Francisco bears a deeper sin: We’ahh fahkin’ queeeahs! If there’s anything the GOP hates more than darkies, it’s fahkin’ queeahs.

Then there’s the essentially base nature of humankind. If you’ve ever dealt with motivated San Francisco panhandlers, you’ll empathize with the likely connection between post-earthquake survivors and Dawn of the Dead. That’s before we even get to the jackass Haight hippie kids whose parents forgot the rent/heroin check, resulting in skid-mark drawers parked on my stoop. They’ll go zombie with little provocation. With those factors in mind, I’m anticipating Something Really Awful when the Big One comes.

For those of you who didn’t already know that I’m out of my mind, please avert your eyes while you read the next few paragraphs. As it happens, I had a break between jobs just after Katrina, and much to Mrs. socalled’s horror, I spent a week researching what we would need if my low opinion of humanity bore out. My pent-up PTO cash-out money went to constructing The Apocalypse Kit. (I tried to end up somewhere between Farnham’s Freehold and the Red Cross’s laughably inadequate “preparedness kit.”)

So. Flash forward. A huge natural or unnatural disaster has happened, and the $2 million-plus I’ve paid in federal income tax over the years was spent on Iraqi war bonds. Awesome. On the plus side, our house is built into a hill, has no long approaches for concealed rifle fire or mass rushing, and offers several elevated vantage points for clearing the entryways of ruffians. In short, the house is readily defensible and lends itself to protection with 12-gauge streetsweepers. All you need are a few thousand rounds of shells and a couple of friends who won’t over-value their own lives once they realize the bars have gone out of business for good. I’ll be on the patio refusing to have my house red-tagged by some busybody FEMA agent, and thank you, Mulder and Scully for alerting me to the scourge of unchecked federal disaster relief.

To that end, faithful reader, stashed in various places around our house, you will find, ranked in rough order of importance:

- Water, water, water. Water water water water water. Hundreds of gallons of fresh water, enough for twice as many people as you expect for twice as long as you think you want to hold out. This is the first thing you will run out of, and it will be tradable for anything of value that someone else might have. When the shit comes down, turn on every faucet in the house and save every drop, but plan not to have that option. We have bottled water delivered monthly, and I’ve been getting way more than we can use for a long time now.

- Um … did I mention the shotguns? When the feces hit the propeller, your fellow man won’t be coming round to help you with those ramen noodles you saved. I’m the product of an FDR Depressocrat and a JFK Dixiecrat, and I still love my shotguns. I’m sure it’s not popular to say so around these Pajibaparts, but the Second Amendment does in fact mean something … just not what the fascist morons say it means. Like many things about my citizenship, I’m not sure what it means yet, but I’m not ready for the feds to make that decision for me. Also: many, many hundreds of shotgun shells. I’m not looking for trouble … okay, I’m looking for trouble.

- Schedule II narcotics; for Fifth Amendment purposes, let’s just leave it at that, except to say: There will be injuries, there might be amateur surgery, there could even be dental work; you may also need to painlessly control your own destiny.

- Booze; see above. You can go weeks and weeks without food, but you will kill yourself after two days without whiskey in this situation. (For the hemp lovers among us, I am including a relatively large batch of oregano here. Because, you know, I love Italian food. Store it away and rotate it regularly with your regular stash. Of oregano.)

- Food; lots of ways to approach this, but salty canned food is your most likely long-term survivor, which is actually more important in the months or years prior to the Event. You don’t want to be replenishing the Apocalypse Kit every six months. (In our case, this includes several months of dry dog kibble.) Avoid foods that must be reconstituted with water, for obvious reasons. Peanuts and long-store power bars are good supplements. Don’t forget the can opener, genius.

- Diverse antibiotics; who knows what form the Event will take, but an intentional or coincidental outbreak of bacterial infection is a decent possibility. The internet is educational and facilitating in terms of stocking what you need. Go Mexican pharmacy!

- General, thorough medical kit - not the crap first aid kit you get at the camping store. If it doesn’t have equipment for giving stitches and removing bone splinters, it’s not worth your time. Medical pliers are helpful for dental emergencies and for helping your neighbor remember where his extra gas cans are.

- Every kind of non-prescription drug you might need. Ibuprophen, anti-diarrheals, antacids, anything and everything.

- Various electric lights - flashlights, lanterns, handheld spotlights. Mrs. socalled detests going to Target or Wal Mart with me, because I cannot leave a hardware outlet without a cool new flashlight. They have so many! I especially like the mini-maglights, which can be secreted in various cubbies around the house so you’re never more than five feet from a flashlight when the lights go out. Also, floating lanterns never go out of style.

- Various types of batteries - this takes some figuring, but again you’ll want twice as much as you think you need. These need to be rotated into your household stock periodically and replaced with new ones, so pick flashlights and other equipment that operate on batteries you use every day.

- All manner of camping gear - tarps, tents, cookstove, sleeping bags, blankets, ponchos.

- Tools - basic toolbox plus sledgehammer, rope, duct tape, large saw, shovel, and hand-drill, along with an assortment of screws and nails.

- Extra clothes and shoes - cheap workout clothes from Target, something that will fit unexpected refugees, plus extra workboots for you and that special someone.

- Hand-crank radio - you’ll want that front row seat for proving you were right.

- Multi-vitamins for the duration.

- Knap-sacks/backpacks — moving is a depressing likelihood, according to the reliable sources.

- Gasoline. This is a tough one in terms of priorities, as I’m not sure whether we’ll be able to get off the peninsula. Everyone will be headed south if the bridges are down, and the last place I want to be is stuck among a half-million idiots headed for San Jose. On the other hand, it costs very little to lay aside twenty gallons, and zombies burn really well with gasoline on them.

- Extra gear for your animals, if any - collars and leashes, plus whatever you deem necessary. For our wildebeests, we have nylon saddlebags so that they can carry their own shit if we have to leave. (As well as food, above).

- Flares, both car flares and shooting flares. Also good for lighting zombies on fire.

- Fire extinguishers - lots of these, enough to fight a significant outdoor fire. These can often be found at garage sales and other quick-sale outlets. When your house catches fire, running water and the fire department will be a distant memory. These are also good if you get too exuberant setting zombies on fire and “accidentally” light up a friend or spouse.

- Towels, tissue, plastic plates and utensils.

- Extra prescription needs, such as eyeglasses, contact lenses, or medications for chronic conditions

- Birth control - they say nothing spurs the ol’ libido like fear of death, and the last thing you’ll want to deal with as you try to rebuild your life is a papoose.

Mini-Comment Diversion: What is missing from the Apocalypse Kit? After you blow a hole through my head and take my supplies, what will you wish I had had the foreskin to collect for you from Target/BevMo/Good Vibrations?

I’ll start us off. Things missing from the Apocalypse Kit:

- Child bride

- Flamethrower (I could probably rig one up, though)

- MurderTank

- Cannabis seeds and grow kit

- Pajiba pajamas, with special shotgun shoulder sling and inner pocket (holds eight shells!)

- “My neighbor tried to eat my brains and all I got was this lousy t-shirt” tee shirt.

- Hand-cranked Anal Invader 5000 (“It looks like it hurts.” “That’s how you know it’s working.”)

- You Want More Fries With That, You Ungrateful Blogging Cunt Incapable of Recognizing Genius?, the collected works of Prioleau Alexander.

How well the pairing held up: Bourbon is my pre-medication of choice for activities ranging from dental work to firing unpleasant clients, so it goes well with just about anything except food poisoning. In situations like this, where you’re starting out with something you love and moving toward something you tolerate, bourbon will soften up your brain pan and render you more sympathetic and enlightened.

Tastes like: Giving oral sex to Salma Hayek. What can I tell you? Salma’s orifices all taste like fine hooch. Just don’t ask me about the Amaretto with bitters.

Overall rating: Eight out of ten teenage zombie sluts. Hey, it’s the apocalypse; she looked old enough to eat brains.

Ted Boynton is a dedicated sot who would leave his barstool only to stalk Whit Stillman, if anyone could find Whit Stillman. Ted also manages to hold down a job and a wife, three hours each per day, whether they need it or not. Readers may scold, hector, admonish or taunt Ted by e-mailing him at [email protected]

Grab Liz, Go to the Winchester, Have a Nice Cold Pint, and Wait for All of This to Blow Over

28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later: The Boozehound Cinephile / Ted Boynton

Boozehound Cinephile | May 30, 2008 |

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