The Walking Dead Friday – "Vatos."

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Season 1 – Episode 4: “Vatos.”

Another Walking Dead Friday is upon us. We (gobble) have much to (gobblegobble) discuss.

First off, I hope everyone had a happy, healthy and myocardial infarction-inducing Thanksgiving Day. As I am writing this recap before the actual holiday, I’m going to assume that my Day of Giving Thanks went as well as could be hoped. I’ll project that I consumed three mixed drinks (whiskey, I hope), two glasses of white wine and approximately 30-40 pounds of lumpy potatoes. Those Pilgrims were really on to something, before they went and obliterated a pristine American landscape with smallpox and Christianity.

Also, the Missus celebrates her 27th birthday tomorrow, which (for the observant) is her Golden Birthday. If you get the chance, send some love her way. For the last three weeks, my mom has been mailing her a little gift for every day of the month leading up to the big day, which means that we have a kitchen counter stacked to the rafters with various nail polishes, perfumes and novelty kitten calendars. We’d have it no other way; it all blends in nicely with the piles she already had prior to November.

Happy Birthday, Celia. I’d buy you something special, but nobody’s buying my book, so it’s really everyone’s fault but mine as to why you get nothing this year. Enjoy eating cat food in the basement while I snort Ritalin off of a Ouija board in my office (I hope people think we live that way).

My birthday is February 1, which means that my Golden Birthday was also my first birthday. Even though I didn’t have the cognitive faculties to grasp the significance of this day (or even know what a ‘day’ was), my family tells me that I still managed to drink so much formula and juice that I pooped myself and had to have my stomach pumped later in the evening. I never miss a party; I probably had my shirt off, too.

Last Saturday, me and the Missus caught the latest Harry Potter movie, which I thought was just fine, considering that it’s really only the first half of a two-part story. It did its job, and I’m looking forward to the epic finale, even though Celia insists that I will not get the R-rated romp between Hermione and Ron that I’ve been waiting so long for. Really though, they’re all over 18 now; let’s make it happen, Hollywood. On that same train of thought (i.e.: a perverse one) I don’t know who was the costume consultant for this movie, but whoever was in charge of the jeans that Emma Watson had to wear from scene to scene deserves a raise. Keep an eye on that while you watch the film; she’s always wearing the most perfect-fitting jeans on Earth. I’m actually more jealous than I am turned on. She’s got a body like me.

This week’s Walking Dead was another solid peek into the character-building and ‘nobody is safe’ mentality that makes the comic so intriguing. People were killed. Alliances started to form. Living people pointed guns at other living people. Wrist stumps were cauterized on kitchen stovetops. There was a lot to love about ‘Vatos.’

So let’s make fun of it, with THE THICK & MEATY!

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In a field above the campsite, we see Jim feverishly digging holes. Nothing suspicious to see here. Just a quiet loner that watched his family get eaten scooping ominous graveholes in the 100-degree heat. Let the man be.

In Atlanta, on the Department Store rooftop, Daryl sees that his brother Merle had to saw his hand off (and cauterize it on a stove) in order to escape the Roamers. He’s understandably pissed, but Rick promises to continue looking for him, provided they don’t leave the city without their big bag ‘o’ guns.

Back at the campsite, Jim’s actions are starting to creep everyone out. After a brief intervention/tussle with Shane, Jim breaks down and laments about his family getting eaten. He’s tied up as a precaution while he cools out. We see that Shane is the top dog at camp, and an eventual showdown with Rick is inevitable. Specifically, he’s going to crack that giant nose of his like an expired egg.

In Atlanta, Glenn, Rick, Daryl and T-Dog outline a plan to get their guns back. However, they’re ambushed by another group of survivors (Miguel, Jorge and Felipe) also focused on the weaponry. Rick’s crew takes Miguel hostage and Jorge’s people speed off with Glenn in tow. Amongst the scuffle, Daryl manages to shoot Felipe in the ass with his crossbow, and Rick retains his guns. This was a fun scene– that arrow went in deep.

At camp, Jim is recovering from sunstroke while still tied to a tree. He recalls digging the holes because of a dream he had the evening prior. Dude, if I tried to replicate everything I dreamed about, I would have probably been killed way back in 1993, when I fantasized that my cute Science teacher wanted to make out with me in the Specimen Lab. Some things are best left in your head, Jim.

In Atlanta, Rick’s crew meets up with Guillermo and his crew of survivors. Guillermo wants all of the guns in exchange for Glenn, and when a tense standoff ensues, it descends into West Side Story-esque fingersnapping and circular dancing. Well, sort of. You see, these hard-looking Mexican dudes are really the last protectors of an inner-city nursing home, and they’ve been ramping up their act to ward off looters, bunglers and crossbow-wielding ass-shooters. Sort of like what the Dharma Initiative people did to keep their tests secret from the Others (beard glue?). Fair enough. The trade is made, guns are exchanged, and Facebook friend requests are linked. Everyone leaves content, and the elderly continue to be oblivious that the Apocalypse even happened, which really is the way to go, if you think about it.

As Rick, Glen, Daryl and T-Dog walk back to their van, they find it missing. They assume that Merle hijacked it, where he’s probably speeding towards the campsite as they speak, bringing the kind of vengeance that can only brew inside of a racist man that hacksawed his shootin’ hand off. And thanks to the Apocalypse, he can’t even apply for a Handicapped Permit.

At the campsite, Jim is untied and everyone participates in a big fish fry (it looked like every restaurant in Wisconsin on a Friday). Everyone except for Ed, that is. After his ass-kicking at the hands of Shane, he’s been keeping a low profile. Besides, his lumpy, misshapen face was scaring the children (and Dale).

Just then, a horde of Roamers attacks the camp, killing Ed, Amy and countless other unnamed survivors. By this point, Rick’s crew has arrived from Atlanta, and assist in killing the Roamers (again) and bringing the attack to a halt. This was a brutal scene that arrived out of nowhere; at least 3-5 people died. The survivors now face the unenviable task of re-murdering their loved ones as they come back as zombies, but that’s a story for next week. Andrea is crushed, and Amy fades into a void of blood and subtle cuteness.

Smash Cut, episode over. ‘Vatos’ had it all. A little character development for the comic nerds, and some insane violence for the gore purists. The subplot with the ‘gang’ was mediocre, but I understand the sociological point they were making. The rules are different now.

Now, pull the arrow out of your ass, it’s time to PICK YOUR BRAIN!

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1 – This week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly proclaims The Walking Dead ‘Best Show of the Year,’ and hey, who am I to argue? Pick it up if you get the chance; the article is really quite fantastic, giving us a glimpse into Season 2, as well as some interesting behind-the-scenes info. They also mention how ridiculous the ratings have been. I guess if Friday Night Lights would have introduced a zombie Running Back during Season 2, it could have been more of a ratings contender for NBC.

2 – Not to talk too much about the comic, but the Entertainment Weekly article mentions that the Shane/Rick/Lori thing is going to play out a bit longer than it did in the print version. This is a great idea, as the original storyline ended, well…abruptly. The show producers think there’s a lot of story that can be mined from this Triangle, and I totally agree. There’s something endlessly intriguing about it, and the actors are doing a fantastic job of ratcheting up the gooey tension.

3 – I’m sure some of you already knew this, but the role of Merle Dixon is being played by the incomparable Michael Rooker, best known for his portrayal of Henry Lee Lucas in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. Henry is easily one of the rawest, bleakest and (probably) most realistic depictions of a serial murderer ever put to film, and I recommend it to everyone and nobody simultaneously. I remember renting it from Express Video as a teenager and watching it alone, which was an experience that wrecked me long before the Internet even had a chance.

What I’m getting at is, trust Michael Rooker. Dude knows what it takes to be a psychopath.

4 – Either Rick doesn’t care how long he was in a coma, or he asked and got an answer off-camera. What I’m getting at is, we don’t know how long the apocalypse has been going on, and we’re not supposed to care. I can surmise it’s been a few months, but according to Dale and his goofy-ass watch-winding theory, it matters not what time it is, but what time it is not. Or something baffling to that effect.

5 – I challenge any fans of Zombie films to find me a movie where the undead look better than what we’re currently seeing on The Walking Dead. I’m consistently shocked and memorized by how much work, creativity and genius they put into each and every zombie that gets a close-up. Greg Nicotero is easily the best in the business (and if you look at his unbelievable resume, you’ll notice that he’s essentially competing with himself).

Don’t believe me? Check out this week’s HYPOTHETICAL ZOMBIE SCENARIO OF THE WEEK!

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Holy crap, I can’t even remember what I was going to say. Give me a minute. Okay, I’m ready.

Is the crossbow the perfect zombie-killing weapon? Is Daryl on to something by tooling around with a silent, precise, portable, brain-puncturing implement with no reliance on bullets or gas? Or can you think of something better? Something tangible, mind you. No Hydrogen bombs or zombie antidote, please. I’ve thought about this longer than any human who hasn’t already experienced the Apocalypse, and I’m coming up pretty empty.

Think about this, won’t you? Thank you.

Well, there you have it. Another Walking Dead Friday in the books. Thanks for reading. Sound off in the comments section, click the links to previous recaps if you need to catch up, and enjoy your weekend.

Season 1 – Episode 1 Review.
Season 1 – Episode 2 Review.
Season 1 – Episode 3 Review.
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What’s The Opposite Of A Sophomore Slump?

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There are two ways to order Aerating The Mashed Potatoes, my new book, and the funniest text put to paper since Toby Keith’s ‘Courtesy Of The Red, White & Blue.’

To order a copy online, CLICK HERE. A link is also over in the sidebar.

To order a copy directly through me, just send $21 (cash, check or money order) to:

The CDP.
PO Box 865
Sun Prairie, WI
53590

If you order through me, your money gets you an autographed, hand-numbered copy of the book, along with Priority Shipping and a free piece of CDP merch. I don’t have a crazy amount of books left, so do it soon if you want to secure a personalized copy for yourself.

Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to release two books in three years. I greatly appreciate it, and I hope you enjoy the new book.

-Ryan Zeinert

Yes, We’re Still Talking About This For A Few More Days.

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My new book, Aerating The Mashed Potatoes, is available everywhere tomorrow. If you want to buy a copy through me, however, you still can. Just send $21 (cash, check or money order) to:

The CDP.
PO Box 865
Sun Prairie, WI
53590

Your $21 gets you an autographed, hand-numbered copy of the book, along with Priority Shipping and a free piece of CDP merch. I don’t have a crazy amount of copies left, so do it this week if you want to secure a personalized copy for yourself. Thanks much in advance.

Speaking of thanks, Thanksgiving is this week, and I want to once again thank everyone who has already purchased a copy of the new book, told me how much you like it, and any other kind words you’ve sent my way this year. I knew that this latest effort was an improvement on all fronts from 65 Poor Life Decisions, so to have people say the same (in as nice of a way as one can verbalize such things) has been really vindicating and fantastic. Turns out I’m getting better at this. Maybe by Book #5 I can start turning a profit or something.

My goals for 2011 are still up in the air, but breaking ground on another book won’t be one of them. I want to promote and talk about Aerating The Mashed Potatoes for a little while longer (not too much longer), then spend the rest of the year making the CDP as funny and entertaining as it has ever been. The blog usually takes a backseat during the months where I’m working hardest on books, but next year it’ll have a much higher priority, Scout’s Honor. I have a lot of new stories I want to share, along with a few other interesting things as we careen headfirst into the Mayan Apocalypse.

Gotta go. Sound off in the comments section, tell me what you’re thankful for, and enjoy your day.

The Walking Dead Friday – "Tell It To The Frogs."

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Season 1 – Episode 3: “Tell It To The Frogs.”

Another Walking Dead Friday is upon us. We have much to discuss, but quickly. I’ve had a rather busy week, busy enough to cause today’s review to be scrapped together in the eleventh hour.

On Monday night, I was in Chicago, dancing my ass off to the Reel Big Fish/Aquabats show at the House of Blues. I had a great time, I didn’t lose my car (despite my best efforts) and the company I kept was top-notch. Really enjoyed myself.

On Tuesday, I had to take the Missus to the doctor because her head exploded. She’s better now, but that shot a better portion of the afternoon to pieces. Migraines suck.

On Wednesday, I met up with Madison gadabout (and Dane101 mastermind) Jesse Russell to discuss global domination and the Dead Milkmen. He’s good people, Stuart. A fine American.

On Thursday, I had to fill my house with groceries and spend an hour on the phone with my mom, as she talked me out of my current 2011 goal of getting into shape and participating in a MMA bout. She can’t tell me what I can’t do. I’m a man. I drive a Mercury Sable with a big dent on the passenger’s side.

So that leaves me here..Thursday night at about 11:45pm. When I publish this bad boy, it’s going to be so fresh it’ll be flopping around on the screen. So let’s get into it already.

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(Dale launches into Hour 3 of his story about meeting Adam West.)

Delirious Merle
Is surrounded by Roamers
.
Hacksaw off that hand!

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(This woman is getting more sex than me, and she’s in a zombie apocalypse.)

Daryl; Merle’s brother
Is more than a little pissed
.
We have to go back!

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(“Check it out, one of the Roamers sent us a Thanksgiving card.”)

Rick, Carl, Lori
Tearfully reuniting.

Shane’s feeling emo.

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(“Anyway, like I was saying before I accidentally shot my foot off…I totally hit that.”)

Shane lied to Lori
By telling her Rick had died.

She didn’t take it well.

Roamers are abound.
Food in the city is scarce,

Just like Madison.

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(“Allow me to illustrate our intimate future by tightly clasping my hands together. Got it?”)

Rick is going back
For Merle and all of his guns.

Well…mostly the guns.

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(This was Scott Walker’s campaign poster. It snagged a lot of ‘NASCAR Dad’ votes up north.)

Douche Ed slaps Carol
So Shane pummels him to bits.

He’s in a bad mood.

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(“ADMIT IT! While the Blue Album was more commercially successful and musically accessible on a Pop level, the themes, songwriting and musicianship of Pinkerton make it the better album in the long run, when you take critical acclaim, personal resonance and genre influence into account. ADMIT IT!!!”)

Back in Atlanta
The team returns to the roof

To lend Merle…a
hand.

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(‘Sarah Palin’s Alaska’ has kind of gotten off to a weird start.)

That’s it, I’m out of here. Thank you for reading; sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day. Next week is big here, as Aerating The Mashed Potatoes gets released globally, making me an instant millionaire and keeper of the hearts of thousands of confused young men and women. Come on back when you get the chance. Bye.

Season 1 – Episode 1 Review.
Season 1 – Episode 2 Review.
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Where A Kid Can Be A Kid.

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(Last week’s book signing went pretty well.)

1. I’ve been whoring out my new book pretty heavily for the last few weeks, and I want to let you know that I’m entirely cognizant of that fact. Honestly, I don’t really like having to do it, but I think it’s a good book and I don’t have publicists to promote for me, so we’re all sort of stuck with it for the time being. I appreciate your patience, and I can assure you that I’ll get back to the funny stuff as soon as I can here on the CDP.

In the meantime, buy my book. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

Now, in the last few years, I’ve only experienced celebrity status on the absolute tiniest of levels (second only to the level of celebrity you feel when it’s your turn to bowl). That being said, I find myself having a much harder time dealing with positive attention than negative. Negative attention and criticism are constants in my life; something I’m entirely used to and know how to manage. Positive attention, however, is foreign and bizarre. When someone approaches me and exclaims how much they dig my work, or how a particular essay made them stop cutting themselves or something, I all but clam up, totally unsure of what I should say next.

Generally, I just say thank you and maintain eye contact. Other times, I make a joke at my expense and stand quietly until a phone rings. Just know that I care more than I can convey, and it means a lot to me. I gave up music in exchange for writing because I suck at those sorts of public exchanges, which brings me to my next point.

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2. People had been asking me if I planned on doing a live reading/signing in the Madison area. While I thought it was a cool idea, I didn’t want to go the conventional route of the coffee shop or bookstore, so I called up the nearest Chuck-E-Cheese and asked what their rates were for renting out their Party/Animatronic Band Room (I’m not kidding). And while just $6 a person paid for two slices of pizza each, unlimited trips to the soda fountain and a free ‘gift bag,’ I didn’t think I could gather enough interest to make such a party come to fruition, even if they did serve beer (which they totally do). Just know that I tried.

I only want to put on things like this if I’m sure that everyone around me is going to have a good time. I don’t do anything group-related for my own personal benefit; even my wedding was essentially a weekend-long party where everyone shared the stage equally. If I were to do a signing, under no circumstances was I going to sit behind a table while my friends waited in line, friends who were smarter and funnier than me in the first place. It was going to be a fun gathering that focused on the very ridiculousness of customary procedure, ridiculousness that I try to write about every day.

If you’re still interested in going to Chuck-E-Cheese with me though, let me know. I’m just looking for an excuse at this point. If I go alone, I’ll probably get arrested.

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3. Speaking of the CDP, expect more Walking Dead Fridays, culminating into a December that features the Top Albums Of 2010, the CDP Year In Review, and the 2010 State Of The CDP Speech to round out the year in style. In addition, there will be more book stuff sprinkled about, as it becomes available nationwide in just a few days.

I’ve been blogging for almost seven years now, and this time of year always reminds me of that. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t really remember what my life was like before I felt it necessary to document everything that’s ever happened to me ever forever. I don’t know what 2011 holds for the CDP, but I definitely can’t wait to write new essays, and I hope it reflects that.

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4. Tonight, I will be at the House of Blues in Chicago. If you’re in the area, let me know. I’ll buy you a beer and dance with you and kiss your neck.

Thanks much for reading. Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.

The Walking Dead Friday – "Guts."

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Season 1 – Episode 2: “Guts.”

Another Walking Dead Friday is upon us. We have much to discuss.

You know, for as much as I was expecting The Walking Dead to be cinematic and epic, I am still blown away by the fact that this is a television show. With this week’s episode focusing on non-stop action, gore, car chases and zombies by the hundreds, one could easily argue that they’re equaling the emotion, disparity and grandeur of any zombie movie, ever.

One of the main setbacks for a zombie-based television show was basically the lack of budget, too much censorship and not an engaging enough storyline. However, thanks to AMC, basic cable and Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead is already in a class of its own. What we saw this week was edgy, raw, brutal (I damn nearly gagged at one point) and perfectly indicative of what so many people loved in the comic book to begin with.

The stage is set for a tense reunion once Rick gets back to his wife, kid and (former) best friend. Racist redneck Merle Dixon will have a score to settle with the survivors when he eventually catches up to them. Oh, and did we mention the thousands of brain-eating zombies roaming about? Trust me, for as much as The Walking Dead will have to hang around the house in order to create character development and subplots, there will always be a Roamer lurking around the corner to spice things up every now and again.

Now, let’s marinade ourselves with corpse gore and attempt to blend in, with THE THICK & MEATY!

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At the survivor’s camp on the outskirts of Atlanta, Lori and Shane get weird in the underbrush. Considering that they probably haven’t had a decent shower in months, this is the ickiest moment of the episode, adultery notwithstanding. Believe me, I’m totally on board with Lori looking for a protector and object of affection in old friend Shane (they think Rick is dead, after all), and I’m also cool with Shane capitalizing on his chances to be Alpha Male. It’s merely a sanitation issue for me at this point. Scrub up, kids.

Oh, and Lori’s totally getting pregnant. Between her jawline and Shane’s forehead, the cranium of this infant alone is guaranteed to split her in two once she gives birth out on the prairie.

Back in Atlanta, Rick is still stuck in the tank, surrounded by Walkers. Over the radio, Glenn guides him to safety, as he jumps out and makes a break for it. Together, they climb a ladder and enter a sealed department store. The survivors inside are pissed that Rick led the Walkers to their front door, but tensions subside and they all climb to the roof to get a better signal on their walkie. Outside, the dead are beating on the locked doors like crazed housewives the Saturday before Christmas.

On the roof, Merle Dixon is picking off Walkers with a rifle. The survivors plead with him to stop drawing attention to the building, but he just says the N-word a bunch of times and beats the crap out of T-Dawg (an unfortunate moniker for a black dude, but whatever). Hey, wasn’t T-Dawg the guy that prank-called that Public Access Bible study show?

Rick’s had enough, so he cuffs Dixon to a pipe, tosses his c-c-cocaine off the roof and assumes a leadership role. I understand the significance of this action, but the idea of giving cocaine to zombies seems like the last mistake one may ever make. With the outside surrounded, they make plans to escape through the sewer. This idea fails, as the sewer is gross. There’s like, poop down there and stuff.

Back on the roof, Rick spots a van he thinks they can use to get back to safety. With the Walkers everywhere though, he gets the bright idea to smother Glenn and himself with zombie gore in order to avoid scent detection. Dragging a dead Walker into the store, they hack him to bits and lather up. Before they leave, Rick gives T-Dawg the key to Merle’s handcuffs. Then everyone throws up. Everyone.

Outside, Rick and Glenn shuffle through crowds of walkers, unnoticed…until it starts raining and cleanses them of their unimaginable filth. Fighting off Roamers, they make it to the van and speed off back to the store. Glen jacks a sports car and rodeo-clowns the zombies while Rick heads off to save the day.

While everyone in the Department Store prepares for escape, T-Dawg heads upstairs to save Merle’s ass, but accidentally drops the key down a drain. Making a (somewhat) difficult decision, he apologizes and leaves him to die. I’m sure that’s the end of this storyline.

Outside, with the walkers lured away by Glenn’s car alarm, Rick pulls the van up and the group piles in. They head back to base camp, while Glen speeds out of Atlanta on his own, no longer hindered by the negative stereotype about how Asians drive.

Great, action-packed episode. Now get comfortable, it’s time to PICK YOUR BRAIN!

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1. For my money, the scene where they hacked up the dead Roamer was about as gory as network television has ever gotten. I’m no stranger to gross stuff, but I cannot remember the last time I’ve seen something so gagworthy on television (not counting last week’s interview with George W. Bush).

Furthermore, kicking off the episode with a sex scene is about as edgy as last week’s decision to kill a little girl. It’s almost as if they’re attempting to drive off casual viewers and reinforce unpredictability in the devotees. And while I thought the racially-charged stuff was there for controversy’s sake more than anything, I still understand the significance. After all, when the dead start to rise, there can be no more room for racists and xenophobes. We’re all in this together, chopping up corpses and popping caps into brainballs like a family.

2. While I don’t expect The Walking Dead to snag many Emmys for acting and screenwriting, I do think they’re a shoe-in for an armload of technical awards. The cinematography, understated music, and the (phenomenal) makeup and special effects are in a class of their own right now. The mere idea of making sure that there are plenty of flies buzzing around tends to reinforce the depravity and discomfort of the situation; you can practically smell the decay.

3. Bit of a nitpick, here. So, they send Glenn, T-Dawg, Andrea and a couple others into the city for supplies, putting their lives in serious danger (at this point, Andrea doesn’t even know how to use a gun). However, they leave Shane back at base camp. Shane, the Police officer with the most weapons and combat experience. I don’t know about that one. I’m going to assume that Lori threw a fit and made him stick around.

4. Considering that this is downtown Atlanta, I must say that I expected more minority zombies.

5. In defense of Shane and Lori, I see little-to-no problem with their newfound relationship. I mean, Rick was nearly fatally shot, and was in a coma when the apocalypse hit; why on Earth would they think he’s still alive? What’s going to be a problem is Shane’s unwillingness to step aside once Rick rolls back into town.

It’s this personal opinion that leads us into the HYPOTHETICAL ZOMBIE SCENARIO OF THE WEEK!

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So, the Zombie Apocalypse hits. You survive, but it doesn’t look like your significant other did. I mean, you cannot prove they’re not dead, but the odds aren’t in your favor, and you haven’t seen or heard from them in three months. How long (if ever) do you wait before pursuing a new relationship? And also, what would happen to this newfound relationship if your significant other suddenly showed up from out of the blue?

Think about it, won’t you? Thank you.

Well, there you have it. Another Walking Dead Friday in the books. Sound off in the comments section, enjoy your weekend, an check out last week’s Walking Dead Friday if you need to catch up. Thanks much.

Season 1 – Episode 1 Review.
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You’re Everything Good In The World.

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1. The first week of orders for Aerating The Mashed Potatoes went wonderfully. Sales are going well, but books are still available. Remember, once my advance stock of copies are gone, I won’t be getting any more (the book goes on sale everywhere November 23). These are the only personalized copies you can get, so don’t delay.

To get your advance, autographed, hand-numbered copy of Aerating The Mashed Potatoes directly through me (includes shipping and CDP merch), just send $21 (check, cash or money order) to:

The CDP.
PO Box 865
Sun Prairie, WI
53590

Cost is $16 if I don’t have to ship (meet up with me if you can). If you have any questions (like, what the book is about), please let me know. Early reports and reviews are saying that it’s hilarious, fun as hell and an improvement on 65 Poor Life Decisions, which makes me a very happy man. Thanks, everyone.

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2. Based on the success of The Walking Dead Friday (as well as the show itself), the recap will once again arrive at the end of the week. Reports indicate that Sunday’s premiere was the biggest airing by any show in AMC history, nearly a full two points ahead of anything Mad Men or Breaking Bad has done. I hope you’re watching the show, and I hope you’re checking out the recaps; come on back to the CDP at the end of the week to see what the fuss is all about.

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3. Conan premieres tonight on TBS!

Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day. My busy November continues.

The Walking Dead Friday – "Days Gone Bye."

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Season 1 – Episode 1: “Days Gone Bye.”

The very first Walking Dead Friday is upon us. We have much to discuss.

When I first heard that The Walking Dead was being adapted into a television series, I had the typical, simultaneous fanboy reaction of childlike excitement and self-righteous dread. On one hand, I was glad that my favorite comic was coming to television (and renegade AMC, at that). On the other hand, I was worried about what would become of it after rewrites, focus groups and test audiences. After all, this is a show for only a select group of people. You’d assume that somewhere along the line, a meeting would be held with the prime focus being “How can we snag the Twilight crowd?” “Can zombies perform magic?” “Can zombies have love interests and eyeliner and washboard abs?

The answers are ‘yes,’ ‘yes’ and ‘not unless their abs are made out of an actual washboard,’ respectively.

Alright, maybe it never got to that point, but I was still rightfully leery. A zombie television show had never really been attempted before, after all. Then, once I heard that Frank Darabont was coming aboard, and definitely after I saw the premiere trailer at Comicon, I knew that Robert Kirkman’s masterpiece was in perfectly-adequate hands. AMC marketed the hell out of it, premiered the damn thing on Halloween night, and pretty much turned the entire thing into a media spectacle, even though the actual product was bleak, horrifying and probably really off-putting for curious folks that didn’t know what they were in for. For these reasons alone, I was more than satisfied with Sunday’s premiere episode. To put it another way, I loved it. Zombies belong to grownups again. Six million grownups, if the early projections are right.

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(Ron Johnson & Scott Walker’s first day on the job.)

A quick note: I have been a fan of the comic series for two years and counting. I own every issue and it’s essentially the only comic I religiously follow. However, I will never, never ever discuss the similarities and/or differences between the series and the comic. Ever. It’s two completely different things, and to compare and contrast is unfair to both creative works, and wicked nerdy to boot. The producers have expressed multiple times that they will take the show in whichever interesting direction they choose, and that’s fine with me. I’d rather be curiously surprised than to spend 48 minutes a week frantically gesticulating at my television screen over the sacrilege of subplots and cameo appearances.

What initially drew me to the comic was that, not only was it a well-written character piece about the struggle to remain human in a (literally) decaying world, but that it was brutal with little-to-no emphasis whatsoever in being silly or slapstick-y (what few lighthearted moments there are arrive at quite-welcome times during character dialogue and downtime). I’ve grown dead tired with silly zombies and silly zombie films, and The Walking Dead merely uses the undead uprising to tell a story about people working together to stay alive. The TV series (and the comic) is not for children. It’s disgusting, really, and that’s the way it should (and really would) be. Killing zombies would be no fun.

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(“Later guys. Hey Duane, say hi to your mother for me.”)

The opening scene with Rick and the little girl was necessary. It drew a line in the sand. To survive, you have to do deplorable things, and if you were expecting it to come with Zombieland-esque giggles and nonchalant one-liners, you should probably look elsewhere for entertainment (Andrew Lincoln did a great job of showing us that Rick Grimes was in agony the entire time). Also, it stood as a disclaimer for those who thought that AMC would go soft on the violence and gore. In fact, The Walking Dead may have been the goriest episode of television I have ever seen.

The effects were incredible: The scene with the female torso dragging herself around would have been jaw-dropping in any big budget, Hollywood feature film. No less than 20 heads exploded with extreme prejudice. A small (zombie) girl got shot in the head. A freaking horse was ripped to pieces and eaten. The Walking Dead is taking no prisoners, and that’s the way it should be. The cinematography, perfect. The pacing, deliberate. The visuals, excellent.

Now let’s make fun of it. Here comes THE THICK & MEATY episode recap!

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Sheriff’s Deputies Rick Grimes and Shane Walsh are the only non-racist police officers in the entire state of Georgia, and even then, I’m not too sure about Shane. As they banter and aimlessly cruise in their squad car, we get the sense that they’re buddies and have worked together for some time. Rick tells Shane that his marriage has grown a bit icy in recent months, while Shane tents his fingertips and absorbs this information with the quiet confidence of a man that’s about to nail his best friend’s wife. His p-p-p-poker face is respectable, and maybe it’ll get him to stop listening to The Cure and brooding so much during those all-night stakeouts.

They join in on a high-speed chase, where after a gunfight, Rick is seriously wounded (his liver is blown clean out the front of his pants, if I remember correctly) and put into a coma. We don’t know how long Rick was in this coma, but it looks to be at least a couple months (or, the entire run of a Joss Wheadon series on FOX). While he’s busy sleeping it off and growing a solid beard, Planet Earth goes cuckoobananas-apeshit, with the dead rising up and bringing about the Apocalypse. The amount of bedside visitors tapers off significantly during this transitional period, as you would assume.

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(“Excuse me, miss? Would you happen to know where…nevermind. Goodbye.”)

Rick makes his way out of the now-abandoned hospital, and starts to piece things together. There are corpses everywhere, buildings are burned out and cars are flipped over for some reason (Did Two And A Half Men get cancelled?). As he stumbles back to his house in search of his wife and son, the situation is grim and his hospital gown is ill-fitting. Thanks, ObamaCare.

It appears as if Lori and Carl bailed out just in time, and Rick then encounters a father and son (Morgan and Duane) squatting at his neighbor’s place. There, Morgan clues Rick in as to what happened, and gives him a crash course in surviving an encounter with a ‘Walker.’

Not Walker, Texas Ranger. Nobody survives that.

Oh, and Morgan’s wife is now a zombie, and because he’s too heartbroken to put her down, she just continues to waddle around and check the mailbox from time to time. It equal parts hilarity and one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen. Duane’s not taking it very well, either. Morgan tells Rick that the CDC has set up a safe haven in Atlanta, which is probably where Lori and Carl went. Leaving the two behind, Rick grabs some weapons from the Police Station and hits the road. When he runs out of gas, he finds a horse (that didn’t get eaten or starve to death, inexplicably), and trots himself into Atlanta.

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(“PACKERS!!!”)

We now see that both Lori and Carl are still alive, maintaining a base camp in the outskirts of the city with a few other survivors. Shane is also there, and he has fulfilled his wish of establishing residence in Mrs. Grimes’ pants. What I love more than anything is that Lori and Share seem to already be thoroughly sick of each other’s shit. The honeymoon is over, and this is probably the most realistic moment in the entire episode. That didn’t take very long.

Rick arrives in the heart of Atlanta, which we see is not the safe haven it was built up to be. In fact, it’s pretty much overrun with zombies, and Rick stumbles headlong into them. He locks himself inside a military tank as hundreds of Walkers descend, rip his horse to shreds and leave him in limbo until next week. Boom. Awesome pilot episode, one of the better ones I’ve ever seen.

Okay, we’re done with the overview, but let’s go more in-depth and…PICK YOUR BRAIN!

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1. In addition to the stunning cinematography, scenery and set design, I really admired how sparing they used music and sound cues. A huge chunk of the episode was in silence as Rick began to unfurl the mystery, and the dialogue was enough to push the plot, but remain realistically sparse. Logically, not a lot of dialogue was needed, as the main point of the episode was introducing you the fate of the landscape itself.

2. I know I promised not to bring up the comic book, but I have to say that the dude who plays Shane looks uncannily like the character in the book. It is seriously Shane come to life. Lori is also very well-casted, and Rick and Carl are close enough. Comic creator Robert Kirkman stated in an interview how surreal it was to walk on set and see his characters come to life, which I must admit, has to be one of the weirder experiences to be privy to.

3. I don’t even want to know what the budget is for a show like this. Makeup and special effects alone have to total in the millions, not to mention the burned-out cityscapes and destroyed vehicles. I’m currently operating on the suspicion that the actors and crew are working for $12.50 an hour, catering not included. AMC’s funding it all with sweet, sweet Mad Men money.

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(Nick Cave has not aged well.)

4. Every time I see a slowly-paced television show the features a little kid in their main cast, I get worried concerning continuity. I call it the ‘WAAAALLLLT Paradox,’ named after the un-ignorable growth spurt of Lost’s resident youth, leading to his once-important character to be completely written out of the script. Think about it. The Walking Dead has a 6-episode Season 1, and they’ll probably advance no more than a couple of months in real time. When they return for Season 2 (theoretically a year from now), the kid that plays Carl will be all but shaving and driving a car, when on the show he’s only supposed to age from age 9 to 10.

There are a few ways to handle the ‘WAAAALLLLT Paradox.’ One, you can recast the character of Carl as needed, which is bothersome concerning continuity and could also lead to people liking and disliking different versions of the same character (the ‘Becky Conner Paradox’). Two, you can do away with the character altogether (the ‘Tori Scott Paradox’), never to mention them again, which…won’t really work for Carl Grimes, a main character without question. Thirdly, you can just let the actor age naturally and completely ignore his unbelievable progression through youth in such a short period of time (the ‘Beverly Hills, 90210 Paradox’). Best of luck to the writers on this one; that’s always a pain in the ass when it comes to a TV series. Puberty is stupid.

5. A special shout-out to AMC for not only promoting The Walking Dead anywhere and everywhere, but also the intelligence to air the entire first 30 minutes commercial-free. They understood that any break in the early action could (and probably would) lose viewers, so they kept it rolling until it was too late to back out. Also, it’s more value for your basic cable entertainment dollar.

Okay, you’ve listened to me, now it’s time for me to listen to you, with today’s HYPOTHETICAL ZOMBIE SCENARIO OF THE WEEK!

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Let’s say that, hypothetically, your spouse became a zombie. Now, you and the rest of your family are safely walled up inside a random home, but your brainless BFF is left to wander around the perimeter of the house in their pajamas. And it’s not even their good pajamas, either. They’re the ones missing the drawstring so they hang down way too far, and there’s a big rip in the back so their flat, decaying ass cheek shows. Would you have the nerve to do the right thing, and put them down?

Think about it, won’t you? Thank you.

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(“You know what? This is fun. I never get to take you out to the park anymore.”)

There you have it; the very first Walking Dead Friday is officially in the books. I hope you had a good time. Sound off in the comments section, let me know how I did and enjoy your weekend.

And hey, buy my book!

Aerating The Mashed Potatoes. BUY IT NOW!

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Aerating The Mashed Potatoes is available for purchase RIGHT NOW!

The book will be available everywhere on Tuesday, November 23, but I have a limited stock of 100 copies that I’m selling in advance. I did this because I wanted to do something special for the ravenous, awesome folks that simply cannot wait another three weeks for what very well could be the Greatest Book Ever Written. Here’s how to order.

Send $21 (cash, check or money order) to:

The CDP.
PO Box 865
Sun Prairie, WI
53590


Your $21 gets you an autographed, hand-numbered copy of Aerating The Mashed Potatoes, a rad piece of CDP merch and Priority shipping (2-3 days). Provide a mailing address (and a name if you want it personalized). I’ll ship the book as soon as the order comes in.

Cost is $16 if I don’t have to ship it. Keep that in mind, folks in the Madison area. Let’s meet up.

These books will sell out before November 23, and I can’t promise that I can save you one. Once they’re gone, they’re gone, so order your one-of-a-kind advance copy right now!

One last thing before you run off to your checkbooks. This is a DIY venture. I have no agents, no publicists and certainly no marketing. If you’d like, it wouldn’t take much to help me out by Tweeting about this. Posting this link to your Facebook wall. Mentioning it on your own blog. Any (and every) little thing counts. I normally don’t ask for this, but it’s going to make a big difference, I’m sure of it.

I thank you so much in advance; you guys are the reason why I get to do stuff like this, and it means more to me than I can say. Have a great day; buy my new book!