The Apocalyptic Post-Apocalypse & Me

post-apocalypseSo, my brother keeps telling me to see “This Is The End” and the TV keeps telling me to see “World War Z”, but I have a tenuous relationship with the Post-Apocalypse. The End of Days is all the rage now, what with the Mayans botching their calendar and the inundation of such stories on big and small screen alike. 

This year alone there will be more than 10 films that sport the world’s ending/ended theme, and that’s not counting the myriad of shows pumped out by the different networks to capitalize on the craze.

The thing is, I’ve never enjoyed Apocalyptic/Post-Apocalyptic work. I read and watch, largely, for escape and entertainment, so to escape to a gritty place devoid of hope, a place where I would not have survived with Type-1 diabetes, is not an exercise I enjoy very often. Now, there are exceptions, the most ironic being that “The Matrix” (1999) is my favorite film of all-time. Generally, I do not enjoy the Post-Apocalypse, and as such writers, filmmakers and showrunners have to work doubly hard to grab my attention, and keep it.

See, AMC’s The Walking Dead has captured my attention, but I’ve never been interested by the comics, or any of zombie daddy George A. Romero‘s work. I was given a copy of Max Brooks’ World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War but it turned out to be one of the few books that I put down after about 100 pages. I couldn’t get into it. I found the storytelling disjointed and wandering. I’m a plot guy, but you can snag me with a compelling character or voice. Brooks’ book did nothing for me on either front, so I put it down.

What’s interesting about this genre is how some approaches work, while others fail miserably. No one, in their right mind, would say “Starship Troopers” is a good film. Watching a “Waterworld” and “The Postman” double-feature may one day replace waterboarding as a preferred form of torture. And, you’d have to pay me a sizable amount of money and ply me with plenty of liquor to go see “Pacific Rim”. While Hollywood is churning out as many of these flicks as possible, the genre isn’t new.

Mary Shelley (you know, Frankenstein) seems to have started the whole thing off with her 1826 novel The Last Man. (I haven’t read it.) And H.G. Wells brought it to the forefront with his novel The War of the Worlds in 1898. (It’s okay.) It’s even been tackled in poetry, with Robert Frost’s “Fire and Ice”. (Amazing.) But when you’re talking novels, Stephen King set the bar for the genre at The Stand (It’s great.) but then Cormac McCarthy hurdled that bar with his Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Road. I hated The Road, but I couldn’t put it down. It captivated me so completely, that I ignored the emotional distress to know what happened next. The story and those characters, McCarthy’s portrayal, shook me to my core. It scarred me in a way no novel ever has, but that’s what he set out to do. Kudos to him. Part of what got to me with The Road was the relationship between the father and the son, and the fact that had whatever cataclysm occurred in real life, I wouldn’t be able to do for my son what the father did for his. Killer.

Like I said, I enjoy The Walking Dead and another Post-Apocalyptic show, TNT’s Falling Skies, but I’m not a big fan of SyFy‘s Defiance and NBC’s Revolution lost me recently because I just couldn’t get into the characters (despite Tracy Spiridakos being a babe). See, plot and character are key, and if you’re going to have me trudge around a post-apocalyptic wasteland, I’d better have somewhere to go and be doing it with compelling characters. 

I’ve always preferred Gene Roddenberry’s outlook on the future. The world in Star Trek was as utopian as you could get, while still being able to generate consistent conflict. I’d much rather have a holographic doctor provide a quick, full-body scan, than any of the medical examinations one would receive in the post-apocalypse. Hacking off one’s leg at the knee to prevent zombie infection isn’t covered by my PPO.

Now, while I hope Mr. Roddenberry is right, I’ve already planned raids of my neighborhood Walgreens and Publix in the event of a catastrophe like extraterrestrial invasion, cybernetic revolt, the emergence of a technological singularity, supernatural phenomena, divine judgement, or, (Al Gore‘s favorite) runaway climate change. (Gore may have ghostwritten 2004’s “The Day After Tomorrow”.)

While as a reader I’ve shied away from the genre, as a write I’ve boycotted it all together. I’ve never written a story set in the post-apocalyptic world, nor do I plan to. I feel that market is saturated at the moment, and while some would say this is the time to capitalize on it, I’d find it very difficult to piece together a narrative. Maybe I’ll take the challenge down the line, but not yet.

As for the movies, I might go see “This Is the End”, but I’ve heard a lot of the stoner comedy references moments from other films starred-in by the actors, and I doubt I’ll see “World War Z” until its available in some other format. And I’ll enjoy the Post-Apocalypse, but only if I can do so with an interesting group of survivors with a place to go.

The Liebster Award

Much blog love goes out to The Legends of Windemere for nominating me for a Liebster Award. ‘Liebster’ translates from German to ‘dearest’ in English, and with that in mind, it’s pretty awesome that Charles Edward Yallowitz considered my work worth the read. Don’t miss his book Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero available now at Smashwords, and for the Kindle.

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The Liebster award is designed for bloggers with less than 200 followers, and at present I’ve got a grand total of 63 followers. The fact that people beyond my blood relations read my work is humbling. So, here goes:

The rules are:
* Share eleven facts about yourself with your fellow bloggers.
* Make sure to answer the awarder’s eleven questions.
* Ask eleven questions of your own.
* Nominate eleven bloggers for this award.

Eleven Facts About Yours Truly

  1. As it turns out, 11 is my favorite number.
  2. 11 PM is now very much past my bed time. (There’d better be a damned good reason you keep me up late.)
  3. At 11 years old, I was reading The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin with my Language Arts teacher, Ms. Sue Timmis. Now, at 32 years old, I’m reading The Westing Game with my 6th grade Literature class.
  4. In 2011, I came to teach at my old middle/elementary school. Some of my old teachers are still here. The fact that my two children roam the same halls my brothers, friends and I once did makes me feel incredibly old.
  5. Growing up, one of my favorite basketball players was Isiah Thomas, who played for the Detroit Pistons, and wore #11.
  6. As such, my high school varsity basketball jersey number was, you guessed it, #11.
  7. Once upon a time, I could drink 11 beers and be fine. I’m not entirely sure that is still true. Weekend experiment!
  8. An epic 11-on-11 Survivor Flip-Cup match would be the best 11-on-11 game in existence, but until that game happens, Football is the best. (Weekend experiment?)
  9. I know what my 11th favorite movie of all-time is. (“The Fifth Element” [1997])
  10. The 11th song of the playlist I am currently listening to is: “That’s Not Her Style” by Billy Joel, from his album “Stormfront”.
  11. 9 of my last 11 posts (not counting re-blogs) have been about Writing.

My Awarder’s Eleven Questions

My Awarder has come up with a devious array of queries that I will now endeavor to answer.

1. What is your favorite pizza topping? 

-If I had to choose one, it’d have to be the classic pepperoni. Throw some sausage and maybe some fresh basil on there too, and now we’re talking.

2. Do you have a nickname?  If so, what and why?

-I’ve had a number of nicknames throughout my life, but the only one that’s stuck with any sort of permanence is ‘Bebé’. I’m the first born of my generation so-to-speak, so grandparents and all my aunts and uncles referred to me a ‘Bebé’, which means “baby” in Spanish. To this day, most of my family, including some of my little cousins, call me ‘Bebé’. Once I started talk, though, I had my revenge. As the first born, I doled out a number of nicknames to those selfsame grandparents, aunts and uncles that have stuck to them.

3. Who is your hero?

-My answer is absolutely cliché, my parents and grandparents. As far as my grandparents go, they immigrated from Cuba in the 1960s and worked to establish a better life here in Miami. My parents were blessed with that same work-ethic and helped developed a loving, faithful and supportive family environment–one that pushed me to follow my dream of being a writer.

4. What was the last song you listened to?

-This question is unfair, and not indicative of my own musical predilections. The last song I listened to was one chosen by my five year-old daughter on our ride home. It’s was “I’ve Got a Dream” by Brad Garrett, Jeffery Tambor, Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, and company from the “Tangled” soundtrack.

5. What is your biggest fear?

-Once upon a time, my biggest fear was death. Now, my biggest fear is the death of my wife and/or my children.

6. If you had a choice between riding an elephant or a camel, which would you choose? Why?

-I would ride an elephant, and henceforth refer to myself as a mahout. The benefits of such a title are evident.

7. Is there an animal that you identify with?  Why?

-I would love to claim an identification with the dolphin–you know, sleek, smart, and speedy. Alas, I’m more akin to a Basset Hound, lolling, loyal, and lovable!

8. What is your favorite season?  Why?

-My favorite season would be Winter, if we experienced it here in Miami, but we really only get Summer and More-Humid-Summer. So, my favorite season is Summer–not the least of which among my reasons is that I’m a teacher. I don’t think the Starks included Miami in their Winter Is Coming declaration.

9. Do you wish I was better at asking questions?

-Not at all. I mean, you might not be Barbara Walters or the Corpse of Larry King, but I’d certainly slot you ahead of Montell Williams and, gasp, Matt Lauer. (If you were Oprah, and I were Tom Cruise’s alien host, I’d jump on your couch.)

10. In a fight between King Kong, Dracula, and Kenny from South Park, who would win?

– Considering Kenny is immortal, and no matter how many times Dracula bit him or King Kong smacked a plane at him he’d be back for the next episode, I’d go with him. Battle of attrition.

11. Do you believe that everyone has the ability to be an artist?

-I believe everyone has the ability to create, but whether or not that becomes art I guess is up to them. What’s that saying. ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’? People make things all the time, and there’s a level of artistry in any number of professions. The short answer would have been, Yes.

My Questions

  1. Who are you and why are you here?
  2. What literary character would you like to be?
  3. If you could scourge the Earth of one man-made creation, what would it be? Why?
  4. Where do your literary tastes lie?
  5. Where do your musical tastes lie?
  6. What as-of-yet unmade novel/film adaptation would you make?
  7. If you could have dinner with one historical figure, who would it be? Where would you eat?
  8. Speaking of eating, what is your favorite blogging snack?
  9. If you could have a new day-job (assuming you currently have one), what would it be? Why? (You can’t choose writer!)
  10. Which of your non-writing related hobbies helps your writing the most?
  11. What is your blogging process?

My Nominees

I hereby nominate the following awesome bloggers (in no particular order):

  1. Mark Elman
  2. Laura B Williams
  3. Caitlin Stern Writes
  4. Corey M.P.
  5. 21st Century Renaissance Girl
  6. Marie Lamba
  7. Sidekick Reviews
  8. Robakers
  9. Lauren Marie Robb
  10. Myth Rider
  11. The Ranting Papizilla (He’s got 201 followers, but I’ll keep him on this list ‘cuz he’s way awesome.)