Saved By Zero

Toward the end of Brad Pitt’s latest movie, World War Z, his character Gerry Lane smashes in the head of a zombie and the crowbar becomes stuck. Another zombie attacks and Pitt’s Lane jerks it out of the zombie’s skull just in time to kill the second one. With excellent editing, the fact that I didn’t actually see the gore and violence made me realize why I was enjoying the film. It’s what WWZ doesn’t show you that makes it a good watch. As per my usual music-obsessed mind, I started thinking about a soundtrack. The new Pitt flick would have been even better with a soundtrack of early 1980s genres because of what they represented, a different way to make music and tell stories. As Gerry Lane finishes off those zombies, hearing Talking Heads Psycho Killer or The Fixx’s Saved by Zero or even Duran Duran’s Hungry Like The Wolf would have been cool.

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I read Max Brook’s genre redefining book, World War Z in early 2007. It comes off like a gory, intense, chilling United Nations report on the zombie apocalypse highlighting American isolationism, ingenious World Health Organization doctors, and undying spirit of human beings battling being taken over by the undead. World War Z the movie is nothing like the book, but it’s well done and changes the zombie game and creates a more realistic (yes, I typed that word) approach to what could happen in a pandemic. There are very sly political touches in the film. There are slight nods to American arrogance, Israeli ingenuity and hero making of global government agencies, the U.N. and WHO.

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The first part of the movie shows retired U.N. hot spot hot shot, Gerry Lane (Pitt), with his family of a wife and two daughters. I related to that. When the zombie crap hits the fan, he’s blackmailed into helping the martial law government of the United States. The movie turns into a globe trotting action movie, and it’s a good one. By the time Gerry Lane figures out the zombies’ weakness, you’re invested in his conflicted anti-hero and understand why, at the end of the day, we’re all in this together, despite what our accents or politics are.

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For my friend, Jen aka ‘s Twisted Tuesday Mixtape, The 1980s, part 1, I went to a playlist of pre 1984 (I’ll explain why in part 2, next week) post punk, new wave, and Britpop.

Go see World War Z. I did a 10:35 am matinee, no popcorn, no drink, and didn’t look at my phone once. That says a lot. This is Pitt’s best film since the club we can’t talk about but reps the front page of this blog. His weird oral fixation that appears in almost all of his movies only makes an appearance at the very end, where he drinks a Welsh cola.

1) London Calling – The Clash. Technically, London doesn’t appear in World War Z and this song was released in December 1979. But the majority of it’s worldwide chart run happened in January and February of 1980. The bass line and guitar riff are amazing and often copied. When Joe Strummer’s squall comes forth, you know this is their double album’s awesome title track, and you’re hearing something new, important, and lasting. The unforgettable line: “to the zombies of death quit holding out and draw another breath” applies to the playlist theme and Cardiff, Wales, which hosts the final act of the film is close enough. This is my favorite song from my favorite band. Play it loud.

2) Message of Love – The Pretenders. I asked for help with this one. Brass in Pocket was really a 1979 tune, and Back on the Chain Gang, while superior lyrically and gorgeously produced just doesn’t fit. Message of Love is sardonic, ironic, and it rocks. The guitar licks are so representative of where rock was in 1981. Plus, it’s the greatest rock chick of all-time, Chrissie Hynde, becoming famous and appreciated after failing to catch on the 1970s through a series of FIFTEEN bands, including an early incarnation of The Sex Pistols. Also, the early MTV logo at the start of this video is major.

3) Never Say Never – Romeo Void. If you aren’t a Patti Smith fan because you’re either deaf, dumb or emotionally blind, then you won’t understand why this pick is important and fits the theme. Music industry zombies killed Romeo Void and lead singer Debora Iyall’s career. Watch the video. Like Patti Smith (who never sold records or became “famous”, either), Debora Iyall didn’t look or care to look, like a star. But she could write and sing her non-traditional rock star ass, off. The memorable lyric “I might like you better if we slept together” is ironic. Listen to the song like, maybe, fifty times, and you’ll understand why. This is a terrific song that influenced guitar players and female artists for years to come.

4) Hungry Like The Wolf – Duran Duran. Cheesy? check. Video based band more than music based? check. More pop than rock? check. But it’s a really well done Britpop song that belongs on any playlist. The opening set of lyrics fit a couple of early WWZ scenes, especially when the Lane family are on the run for a helicopter while zombies catch up to them. This is at the top of my guilty pleasure list for all the right reasons…I may even be panting as I type this.

5) Saved By Zero – The Fixx. This band and album the song comes from, Reach The Beach, should be legendary enough to be Rock n Roll Hall of Fame worthy. I can’t tell you why this song fits WWZ, because then it gives away stuff. But it works. The song meaning is also similar to the movie’s theme about small things becoming big things and we should always be paying attention. If you have Fixx records, especially Reach The Beach, then you own some of the best Britpop and new wave songs done in the early 1980s.

You Get What You Give

A pathetic stench wafted over the gas station lot. I finished pumping then walked through a labyrinth of vacant eyes. The soulless figures emerging from the store were zombies. Each held lottery tickets.

****blogger’s note****

We take a break from Helene, Violet’s dad and 100 word song to bring you a real life horror story. I drove my sweet teenage daughter (newly named to her high school varsity cheerleading team) to her other family in almost South Carolina. I stopped twice for gas and drinks. I watched madness in the form of Mega Millions lottery players swarming the parking lots and gas station stores. It’s sad and scary. I’ve never played the lottery. God bless those who do. This is a real life horror story that should terrify you, if you still have your soul. It’s also in response to my buddies at Trifecta Writing – For this weekend’s challenge, we’re using an idea from one of our regular contributors, MOV from Word Cut. She emailed us with the following suggestion:

“Write a horror story in 33 words, without the words blood, scream, died, death, knife, gun, or kill. Good luck.”

Today’s song is from the sardonic, ironic, and brilliant deep mind of New Radicals Greg Alexander. Here’s You Get What You Give. Think about it.


Zombie Blonde Disturbia

Five twenty six a.m. shakes me with the sound of Rihanna. Since I’m the dumb jerk that gets up to wake the dead, you’d think I could get some hard rock, punk or Britpop.

I do my morning routine. It occurs to me that things are normal since no one is speaking to me, including the golden retriever. He feeds, and the others make themselves presentable.

I leave the bathroom and jump back. They’re all standing in the kitchen, staring at me with beautiful deep blue eyes.

“We want food” they say in creepy unison.

My wife and two of my daughters, 15 and 7, stumble toward me expressionless, mouths agape. Their gorgeousness deflecting their deadly desires. I respond cautiously.

“Go watch tv or something. Bobina, can you help me? The dog’s fed.”

She scowls at me. Her perfectly round face, accented by deep dimples and dirty gold curls around her cheeks, masks devious attitude.

“He wants more. If you what’s good for you, I mean, if you love me, you’ll give it to him and let me watch Phineas and Ferb.”

I roll my eyes. A minute later, I answer a knock at the door. Instead of sitting on the couches, my wife and two daughters are standing with lifeless shoulders, staring at the tv. I realize an awful truth. They’re zombies.

I open the door. It’s my 9 year old niece and my 8 year old daughter.

“What are you two doing here? You girls aren’t supposed to be here today.”

My 8 year old, as usual, does the talking.

“Oh daddy, we heard you were making pancakes. We snuck out of our other houses, made someone drive us then my cousin ate the driver, and now we’re here. Phineas and Ferb! Go get those pancakes, daddy!”

I grab the arms of my 8 year old, push my niece over to the others and run into the kitchen. I drop to one knee and hug her tightly. She feels normal. She’s strong and warm.

“Baby, talk to me. What’s wrong with them? I mean I know all four of them are nightmares in the morning, but, they’re zombie-like.”

My 8 year old kisses me on the forehead.

“Daddy, they are zombies. It’s Halloween. They aren’t afraid to show you they’re zombies on Halloween, silly.”

I touch her face, her arms, her legs, and feel her heartbeat.

“You’re ok, sweetie? They didn’t turn you into them?”

She shakes her head and takes a grape dum dum sucker from the pocket of her ripped jeans.

“Daddy, you made me or you had me made, whatever? You and I are robots. They can’t change robots into zombies. I’m 8 and I know that. That’s why they don’t eat us. Now, get those pancakes.”

I hug her and send her into the living room. I watch her sit everyone down.

A few minutes later, I deliver several pancakes to the living room. My wife and teenager are on one couch. The three younger girls are on the other loveseat. The golden retriever covers the floor like a 95 lb throw rug. They devour the pancakes like wolves tearing  raw meat.

“What is the matter with ya’ll? They’re just pancakes.”

Without warning, a creepy chant begins.

“Daddy’s pancakes are people! Daddy’s pancakes are people!”

I run into the kitchen and look at the box.

“Oh. Dear. God. It’s true!”

Then I wake up. It’s pretty much the same kind of nightmare two or three times a week. Happy Halloween.

*disclaimer* my niece and 8 yr old are brunettes, but, for some reason, in the nightmare, they’re blonde.

****blogger’s note****

My family of ladies are the prettiest pop zombies you’ve ever seen. I wanted to have some fun with Katie’s The Lightning and the Lightning Bug Halloween prompt of “The Living Nightmare”

Today’s song is something my girls would like. At times, especially in the mornings, they’re aren’t far off from this story. They do love pancakes. Here’s Rihanna’s Disturbia.