It seems somewhat obvious that reading and life are interconnected: We choose books based on our interests, or things going on in our life at the time; we discover new things in our life through reading. It is not at all unusual that I bought A Supremely Bad Idea shortly after our puffin-watching at Cannon Beach, or that this led me to pay more attention to the birds around me every day. I expected this sort of thing to happen when I began my 50-book challenge.
What I didn’t expect was the degree to which even the most unlikely books would lead me to places I might otherwise not have gone, or even known existed. Zombies? Be serious. They’re imaginary, and I live in the suburbs. But after World War Z, I discovered that not only are zombies are fun to read about, they get you out of the house.
We started by going to see Zombieland: I took my stepson (age 14) while my husband took my daughter and stepdaughter to see Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs. If it hadn’t been for the zombie read, Shane and I would have sat through Meatballs too, which would have been fine, I guess – but I don't think would have approached the glee with which we guffawed and hi-fived our way through Zombieland’s comic zombie-bashing.
One of the previews before the film was for a one-night-only showing of the RiffTrax version of Plan 9 from Outer Space. If that’s ringing a vague bell somewhere in the back of your mind, it should: Plan 9 is justly famous for being The Worst Movie Ever Made.
RiffTrax, if you are not familiar with it, is the new project by the guys who gave me one of my life’s greatest gifts: Mystery Science Theater 3000, a TV show that ran for many years, in which three guys sat around watching the absolute worst movies and making wisecracks. The show is sadly long gone, but many of the episodes live on in DVD format, and take up a considerable amount of space in our entertainment unit. (Recommended for the upcoming holidays: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.)
I had no idea this RiffTrax was out in theaters, and suddenly, on a weeknight no less, we went out and experienced the comic splendor of the Citizen Kane of bad movies. Plan 9 concerns an alien attempt to take over Earth by resurrecting the dead – well, three dead anyway, one of whom was apparently a vampire originally, and another of whom was played by the noted vampire actor, Bela Lugosi, but also by at least one other actor who looked nothing like Lugosi (who died shortly after filming began).
Before the movie started, there were some warm-up acts, including singer Jonathan Coulton, who performed Re: Your Brains, a musical opus about zombie officemates. The chorus goes, “All we want to do is eat your brains,” and you’d be surprised how catchy it is.
Dear reader, there is no escape from the zombies.
That same week, my Twitter feed delivered the news that on Saturday at the Space Needle, we could join the Seattle Zombie Walk. Oh rapture! Emma immediately began perfecting her Zombie Walk. I downloaded the Jonathan Coulton song from iTunes, and we learned all the words. Over dinner at a Chinese Restaurant, we examined fake blood procured from a costume shop, and added “with Zombies” to all our cookie fortunes.
Costuming as zombies is surprisingly straightforward: leave your hair unbrushed, spatter some fake blood, and off you go. You would think this would be easy, but the night before, I had an unfortunately timed visit to my hair salon, leaving me with a difficult dilemma: do I ruin my lovely smooth coif or ruin the zombie effect? I ended up deciding that my self-inflicted manicure with three broken nails canceled out the nice hair.
The decisions got harder when it came to selecting zombie apparel. Not for Emma and Dave: they both have old clothes that could be tattered and splattered. I’m more ruthless about throwing old clothes away and the pickings were slim in my closet … but in my drawers I located one of my great wardrobe tragedies: A beautiful, expensive Henri Bendel sweater that had an unfortunate encounter with a moth. Dave finished what the moth began and shredded the sweater’s remains, as I averted my eyes.
How does one begin to describe a Zombie Walk? The turnout was spectacular – 500 zombies including Elvis, Jesus, a bride, a pregnant woman, some convicts, a veterinarian (complete with zombie dog being dragged behind). My husband, the zombie backpacker. Zombie infants in strollers. A zombie horde, shambling through the Seattle Center, waving at diners through restaurant windows.
While the horde searched the supermarket for braaaiiins, one woman, clearly unnerved, stopped me and shrieked, “What is this?”
I replied, “The Zombie Walk.”
She got a bit angry. “I can see that! But why?”
Ma’am, if you have to ask, I don’t think I can really explain it to you. I left her standing, aghast, in the frozen food aisle. She made my day. I’m not sure what I did to hers.
On the way home, we discussed how we could costume more elaborately for next year’s zombie walk. My husband wants to further accessorize his zombie backpacking getup. My daughter thinks a zombie school girl will do nicely. As for me, I will be appearing as Ghoulia Child, with a blood-spattered apron and a copy of my very own book, “Mastering the Art of Cooking the French.”