My Top 5 TV Shows for 2011

Not another countdown … I must be insane!!!

Okay, this posting comes with the following caveat: some of the shows on my list have been on for a couple of years but I discovered them in 2011 and that’s why they made my list. Anyway … here goes.

 

5) Sons of Anarchy 

There is absolutely nothing to dislike about this show – not a damned thing. My better half and I found it online early in the year and watched the first two seasons over the span of a week. Holy … suffering … crap. It’s gritty, it has some funny scenes, it has really memorable characters and powerful performances from everyone in the cast. It’s one of the most intense shows I’ve ever seen in my life – riveting entertainment, and really, what’s not to like.

With solid character actors like Ron Perlman and Kim Coates (who plays Tig and who is from Saskatoon … yeah, that’s right … Saskatoon!!) on the show, you can’t go wrong. If you haven’t seen Sons of Anarchy, you’re missing one of the most inventive, well written programs on the tube and yeah, I know they’re bikers and outlaw bike gangs are supposed to be bad, but there’s nothing bad with this show at all. In a nutshell, it’s Hamlet … with bikers. Nuff said.

 

4) Justified 

You can’t not like FX’s Justified. It just can’t be done. It’s the story of Deputy US Marshall Raylan Givens played by actor Timothy Olyphant and it’s based on two of Elmore Leonard’s books Pronto and Riding the Gap.  Right off the bat, it has to be good because everything Elmore Leonard has ever written is freaking brilliant. It’s got hillbillies, moonshine, off-the-wall colourful characters, gunplay, bad guys and of course a hero who is better suited to be a US Marshall in the old west than he is in modern Harlan County because he’s rather keen to shoot you … but only after he’s given you ample warning. Interesting how people manage to get shot even after Givens warns them … after he shoots you, you generally wind up with an “I told you so” from the good Marshall … oh and he has a history, you see. Because he’s from Harlan County so everyone selling drugs or running a still … they were all his friends growing up. Did I mention that his father is a criminal and Givens is still in love with his ex-wife? There’s so much to cheer about on this show, I just don’t know where to begin, but I will offer this much: two words…. Boyd Crowder  played by actor Walton Goggins. Hand’s down, my favorite character on the program … I watch it just to see what the hell kind of trouble he’s gotten himself into this time. If you haven’t been watching Justified, it’s on Netflix. Watch it … you won’t be disappointed.

 

3) The Walking Dead

This one is a no-brainer because I’ve been blogging about the new season since October. The Walking Dead makes my list of top shows for 2011 not because of what it is – a show about the zombie apocalypse, but more because of what it isn’t – shlock horror. This is a complex show about human relationships at the end of all things, the zombies just happen to be the horrifying backdrop to a world that has gone to hell. It’s the way human beings fight to survive against seemingly unthinkable odds and what’s more, this show could have been turned into splatter TV, but it hasn’t, not one little bit. Yes, there are obligatory “shoot the monsters in the head” scenes in every episode, but the real joy of this program is seeing people slowly come undone (Shane) keep secrets (Lori) discover their courage (Glenn) turn into heroes (Daryl). If you’re not a zombie fan or you aren’t into apocalyptic fiction, you probably won’t like it unless your curious. We’re halfway through season two and there’s still so much that can go wrong for Sheriff Rick’s band of survivors and so little that can go right. Brilliant program, even if the mid-season finale’s big reveal could be seen coming from twenty miles away.

 

2) The IT Crowd

I hate sitcoms. They’re predictable, boring, poorly written and formulaic. They insult your intelligence and next to reality TV, they’re the second most likely thing to rot your brain. Imagine my surprise to have discovered The IT Crowd on Netflix this fall. I’ve blogged about it over at Dark Central Station, so I won’t go into too much detail save for the fact that few comedy programs have ever  brought tears to my eyes from laughing so hard like this show. It’s already been on for four series and sadly, there won’t be a fifth. Watch it … that’s all I can say … just watch and prepare to laugh your ass off.

 

1) Doctor Who

Okay, I’m an unabashed Doctor Who fan so maybe I’m just a tad biased when it comes to this show. I’ve been watching it since the late 1970’s and I was a relative latecomer to the 2005 reboot of the program. Doctor Who is the kind of show you’re either going to fall in love with because you *get* it or you’ll quickly lose interest in because the concept of time and space are just too damned complicated for you to get your head around. There have been eleven doctors so far, and the current one played by Matt Smith is among my favorites. This series has been fraught with mind boggling plot twists, no shortage of pathos and we begin to see Matt Smith really start to own this role and make it his own. River Song played by Alex Kingston is a fantastic character – her relationship with the Doctor finally got sorted out this season with the Doctor marrying her in the season finale … but wait … there’s more! Karen Gillan continued to entertain as the Doctor’s companion, Amy Pond and good old lovable Rory, he’s just the best … especially when he punched Hitler in the face.

Look … it’s been on TV for fifty years, I can’t go into why it’s such a brilliant show other than to say that the program continues to entertain year after year after year. It’s a national institution in the UK, the acting is among the finest I’ve ever seen and frankly the show is, in a word, epic.

 

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Fact or Fiction – My Top 10 Myths about Getting Published

 

Alright creative writing types … you’ve completed an 80,000 word manuscript. You even paid an editor to help clean it up. You’re ready to take the publishing world by storm because your epic tome is just that good. Before you become the next big thing in the book world, do take a moment to read my Top 10 Myths about Getting Published. You know … just so you go into this thing with both eyes wide open and realistic expectations. Okay grab a cup of herbal tea and sit back… here we go.

10) Everyone has a book in them.

Not true. Most people probably have an idea for what might be a cool premise on which to base a novel, but an idea doesn’t translate into 80,000 t0 100,000 words. It doesn’t include world building, creating believable characters or an actual plot. Yeah … a plot. Plots are important because if you don’t have a beginning, middle and end, you’ll have the most boring novel in the world.  It takes a hell of a lot of work to write a novel and some people just aren’t up to it because, believe it or not, there’s this issue of actual talent. Like it or not, to become published, you have to possess some degree of talent – that’s just how it goes.

9) This book is going to make a ton of money.

Um … no. Chances are that if you become published, you won’t even earn out your advance. I know bestselling authors who have yet to quit their day jobs. Ain’t gonna happen unless you have written something with huge commercial potential.

8) All published authors are rich.

Um … no. This goes hand in hand with number nine. We’re not. If anything, published authors are among that 99% we keep hearing about these days. Don’t get me wrong, if I strike it big one day I’ll get grills and wear a fur coat, but until then I have to keep plugging away at a day job and writing books in hope that the next one will be more commercially successful than the last one.

7) I wrote a book, I’m gonna self-publish it on Amazon and make a mint.

Unlikely. While there are some self-published books making a lot of money over at Amazon, chances are your masterpiece will float alongside all the rest of the self-published dreck. Once in a while someone will buy your book and Amazon will skim their percentage off of your sale. You see, Amazon is FLOODED with self-published books. The average self published novel will sell under a hundred copies and if Amazon is skimming a percentage off the thousands and thousands of books that sell less than a hundred copies, do the math. Amazon is making money, you’re not.

6) I wrote a book, literary agents are going to climb all over each other to sign me.

HAHAHAHAHAHA! If you believe this, you’re delusional. I used to think getting published was hard work … then I started looking for an agent. Here’s my stats so you can use them as a frame of reference. My novel POLTERGEEKS was submitted to more than forty literary agents. FORTY! My query was rejected by two thirds of them. I received five requests for a partial and five requests for the full manuscript. I received more than twenty seven rejections. Each rejection where the agent cared to comment on my work differed sharply from the next one. There was no common thread in each rejection and that taught me that finding an agent is an entirely subjective experience because reading is a subjective experience as well. I finally found an agent but this was after having plodded along for more than two years. In short, chances are that you won’t find an agent. I know that sounds harsh, but that’s the cold hard truth. It’s important to remember that you’re one of a jillion other authors who are looking for an agent. Agent inboxes are FLOODED with queries so in order to grab an agent’s attention, your query and ultimately your manuscript has got to shine. It has to have commercial viability, too, and finally, your story has to be really freaking good for an agent to take you on as a client.

5) I don’t need an agent.

This might garner some push back. Do you need an agent? Well, I guess that depends entirely on what your aspirations might be. If you just want to self-publish your stuff for family and friends, then no. But if you’re like me and you want to make a career out of being an author, you absolutely must have an agent. Aside from the fact that big publishers won’t even look at your query letter without an agent, you have to remember that an agent isn’t just the person who can get a large publisher to look at your work. They’re professionals in the industry. Let me say that again: agents are industry professionals. They know what flies or fries, they’re up on publishing trends and most importantly, they’re not going to submit your masterpiece until it’s been revised, revised and revised some more. Don’t believe that you still need an agent during a period of transformative change in publishing? Read this.

My novel POLTERGEEKS went through a nearly twelve month long revisions process that at times was so frustrating I thought that I’d lose my mind. I’m glad I didn’t because the final product is just so much better than what I’d submitted to my agent in the first place. Agents are your coach, your mentor, your bodyguard – yeah, bodyguard. They make sure that you get a fair and equitable contract. They deal with blips between you and your editor. They ensure you get all the money that’s owed to you. God, I could write a list a mile long about why having an agent is crucial … trust me. You need an agent if you want to make a go of it. (Also, they’re cheerleaders. They help lift you out of self-doubt and set you on the path to writing something that you can be proud of.)

4) I’m published. Everyone is going to buy my book. Yay me.

No they’re not. Remember that you have to compete in a market that’s flooded with similar works. Bookstores are closing all over the place and online booksellers live in the shadow of the all seeing Amazon. Fewer and fewer people are actually reading these days … it’s almost as if the publishing world is geared toward your failing at every turn. The fact is that unless you are published by a publishing house that wants to spend a boatload of money on marketing your book, then the marketing is going to be up to you. That means blogging, blog tours, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, contests, giveaways, asking for reviews. You could fill half of your time you’d spend on writing just by getting the word out on your book. This is hard, hard work – I can’t stress enough how hard it is for you to somehow get noticed.


3) I just completed NaNoWriMo – Now is the time to start sending out queries.

No. No, no, no, no! A lot of literary agents shudder when December 1st rolls around each year because their inboxes are going to be flooded with query letters for a 50K word masterpiece that is convoluted, filled with grammatical and style errors, and like it or not, terrible terrible writing. Do not send out a query for something you just finished last week. You need to rewrite it, print it off and rewrite it again. It has to be a damned fantastic piece of writing BEFORE you send it off. Look, I think NaNoWriMo is fantastic. I participated this year for the first time, but you have to be realistic about the outcome for your book. A lot of people participate for the sheer love of writing and that’s great. But a hell of a lot of people do it because they want to get published and you have to be realistic about things. Your work has to stand out if it’s going to pass muster with an agent or whether a small publisher will consider even looking at it. Stop. Sit back. Pat yourself on the shoulder because you wrote 50K words in a month. Now ask yourself – what’s the next move? If you’re serious about getting published, you’ll embark on the lengthy process of revising that story and making it shine. Only then will it be ready for the querying stage.

2) Yeah, but my book is different than the other ones at the bookstore.

Is it? How do you know? Genre fiction is the domain for some pretty damned impressive book series. A lot of authors think that writing a series is the sure fire way to find success and I’m going to tell you that it isn’t. The market is flooded with books in a series that are so similar to other series by other authors that it’s almost impossible to tell the difference from the cover art on each book! If you’re going to find some measure of success, I think you need to think about each book in a series as being a stand alone novel. It has to be capable of selling as a stellar piece of individual fiction.

I love books in a series. I have two books in a series out on my own and they aren’t selling. Why? Because there’s a lot of similar books out there and the discerning book buyer generally wants to spend their money on an established brand. Chances are they’re going to pick up the next book in a best selling author’s series before they risk spending ten bucks on your first in a series that nobody has ever heard of. That’s just economics – people like consistency in our buying habits. As well, you have to remember what I call “the consumer buying equation”, namely Benefit (what’s in it for me – meaning the buyer) has to outweigh Price in order for a consumer to experience Value. We do this consciously and unconsciously every single day in all our buying decisions – from bread to books. Your book has to solve that riddle if it’s going to stand out and you probably won’t if you haven’t signed with an agent and managed to get published by a large publishing house that is willing to spend the money marketing your book. And even then, there’s no guarantees.

1) Publishing is currently undergoing transformative change. I am going to be successful as a result.

Your success, indeed, any author’s success is going to happen as a result of two sure things:

a) a TON of hard, hard work

b) No shortage of plain old dumb luck

Yes, there are authors who have experienced incredible first-time success as a self-published author through Kindle self-publishing. Yes, ebook readers can now be purchased for under a hundred bucks. Yes, the digitization of books presents boatloads of opportunity for authors, but I cannot stress enough that not even industry professionals know what the end-game of all this transformative change in publishing will be. It wasn’t that long ago when people scoffed at the notion of eBooks selling more than print books – well, they were wrong. They’re selling in ever increasing numbers … BUT … ebooks still represent around ten percent of the overall sales in North American publishing, so don’t crack open that bottle of champagne just yet. There’s an economic slowdown the likes of which we haven’t seen since the 1930’s – THAT has a lot to do with an incredible amount of fear in the publishing world. Borders … the freaking Home Depot of book sellers shut their doors this year forever. They went bankrupt!

Think about that for a second – if one of the world’s largest bookselling chains went tit’s-up and you’re a professional in the industry, you’re probably experiencing your own economic pain as well. Publishers are looking for something that is a sure thing and increasingly, that means sticking with established brands that they can count on. That doesn’t mean publishers won’t take on new authors, it just means they won’t be giving as much in the way of advances and marketing will probably be more and more the responsibility of the author.

Yes, you can be successful amid this doom and gloom environment that publishing is struggling with, but chances are that you won’t. Chances are that I might not … and I’m freaking published already! Do you see where I’m going with this? It’s a game of playing the odds and if you’ve ever been to Las Vegas, you’ll know that the house generally wins. Right now, the house are the sure things – the established brands. The house is also Amazon and the mind boggling way they’re reshaping the industry.

Now I’m not saying that you should give up your dream of becoming published. If anything, I want writers to keep on writing … but go into this with realistic expectations. It is realistic to assume that you won’t become the next Laurell K. Hamilton or Jim Butcher or Jasper FForde. It’s realistic to believe that you might one day become a published author, but it’s unrealistic to assume that you’re going to be able to make a living at this gig – and this brings me to my final point.

Why write when the odds are stacked against you?

Because.

It’s.

Cool.

That’s all I can really say. It’s just so damned cool to walk into my local bookseller here in Saskatoon and see my books on the shelves. Yeah, they don’t sell a who hell of a lot, but I wrote them! Me!! It’s also cool when you get an email from someone in Switzerland who you’ve never heard of in your life, but who bought your book, read it, loved it and took the time to send you an email to tell you as much. That’s an incredible feeling, frankly, and for me at least, that’s why I write. That’s gratification. (Getting paid is gratification, too, but knowing that you have a handful of fans out there can sustain you when you’re banging your head against the desk on your next masterpiece.)

So there you have it. My top ten list of myths about getting published. I know there’s a lot of negative stuff in this blog posting, but truth is, as they say, harsh. Keep onwriting, by all means. But go at this with a sense of the likely outcomes. Writing is a craft, never forget that. It’s a hard, hard slog – but it’s a hell of a thing, getting published. Good luck!

 

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My Top 5 Books for 2011

It’s been a freaking crazy year in publishing what with Borders going the way of the dodo and Amazon taking over planet earth. Ebook readers finally dropped below the psychologically expensive $100 barrier with Kindle taking a giant leap in that regard. Independent bookstores are closing, online sales are up, self-publishing is going nuts … still, there were some very good books and here’s my top five list! (Yeah, so I am friends with some of the authors … no, I didn’t review them to get free books. I just liked the books a lot!)

 

 Dark Heart – The Purgatory of Leo Stamp by Darren J. Guest

This is the debut novel from British author Darren J. Guest and I absolutely loved it.

The protagonist is a jerk who isn’t entirely the most likeable guy on the planet, there’s plot twists aplenty, Sean Connery talking through a movie poster, a surprise ending and much, much more. I even did a review of it here. Great book from a great up and coming author who I hope lands an agent soon.

 

 

 

 

 

When I was Joe by Keren David

Keren and I have the same agent, but that’s not why I got the book. (which came out in 2010 so yeah, I’m a year late..) I read it because I wanted to see how other authors were writing Young Adult stuff given that I’m rather a newbie in that regard. All I can say is … wow. It is gritty, frigging brutal, actually and it’s kind of a frightening book. As a parent myself, I kind of shudder when I think about how little I know about this dark and often dangerous world our kids live in. Ty is an entirely believable protagonist and the plot is tight tight tight. In short, Ty witnessed a murder and goes into witness protection. Under his new name, Joe, he’s got to build a life somehow … but how the hell do you do it when you’ve seen a person killed and you aren’t who you really are supposed to be. This book gave me a window into a world of violence that I think a lot of parents don’t want to think about or worse. deny exists. It’s raw, gripping and powerful. Most importantly, it’s honest … brutally honest. Get this book for yourself or your rugrats – you won’t be disappointed. Keren David proves that YA fiction doesn’t need sparkly Emo vampires the be engaging. Oh … and there’s a sequel. I have to read that one, too.

 

Arranged by Catherine McKenzie

I loved this book. LOVED it. I even did a review over here. Yeah, I know this is chick-lit and I’m a guy, but I read Catherine’s first book SPIN (WHICH IS FANTASTIC!) and I just had to read her second book.

It’s a very simple premise: Ann Blythe has it all – except for a good relationship. Everything changes when she finds a card for an “arranged marriage” company … you see where this is going. All I can tell you is that if there isn’t a movie deal with Katherine Heigl as Anne, there is no God.

(Whatever … I’m a softy.)

 

 

Drop Dead Gorgeous by Wayne Simmons

Hot on the heels of his bestselling FLU, Wayne Simmons is zombifying the planet, one bloody victim at a time. Originally published by Permuted Press and picked up by Snowbooks, Belfast is once again the setting and dammit, it’s so good to read a zombie novel that doesn’t take place in a major US city. Simmons *gets* zombies. He writes tension and terror really well and what’s so good about this novel is the fact that he’s done something so freaking different. Instead of rotting away, some of the monsters are getting more and more beautiful with each passing day. WTF … I didn’t see that coming!!!! Talk about a mind@#$! These creatures are shadows of their former selves. Their minds carry faint memories of their past lives. If a zombie novel can be heartbreaking … geez, this is it. Read it today…. you won’t be disappointed.

 

The Madman and the Butcher by Tim Cook

I am one of those Canadians who actually reads a hell of a lot of Canadian history. (Because, you know, they don’t teach this stuff in the school system anymore. Actually they didn’t when I was a teenager nearly thirty years ago, but I digress). I’m a former infantry soldier. I was stationed at Currie Barracks in Calgary back in the 1980’s. I love military history. I think that Sir Arthur Currie got a shitty deal from his country and still does now eighty years after his death. This is a fascinating window into a very young Canada at the start of a global conflagration that would consume ten percent of the human population when it was over. It’s a story that fights pretty hard to restore some of Currie’s reputation (most people in Canada have never heard of the man and he’s our most famous general.) It is brutally unforgiving in its portrayal of Sir Sam Hughes, Canada’s Minister of War until he was canned midway through the war,  showing him to be a bullying narcissist who’d steamroll over anyone, including the Prime Minister at the time, to get his way. Thoroughly engaging and a real page turner. Get this book. (Yeah, I know it was published in 2010 but I just got to it this year so it makes this year’s list.)

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My Top Tweeple for 2011

 

Imagine – a blog posting that has nothing at all to do with zombies or my books or books about zombies. Who knew? According to Klout, I have like … negative integer influence in the social networking world, hence, I am the published author of three books that nobody has heard of before. In short, I rock … and so do these people! Why? Because their tweets constantly entertain, they have fantastic websites and most importantly, they each possess qualities I really admire. So, without further gum-flapping on my part, here’s my list of top Tweeple for 2011.

10) @romimoondi – whose real name is actually Romi Moondi. Why do I like her? Well, she’s a writer and that makes her cool. She’s funny, that makes her cooler. She ditched her agent and is going it alone, that makes her gutsy, possibly insane and way way more ballsy than me, AND … she gives me my daily giggle from Toronto’s Go-Train on her way to work each day. Romi rocks, she’s self-depracating and quick on her feet when it comes to messaging on her smart phone. If you aren’t following her, you should. If you haven’t bought her books, get on it now!

9) @TezMillerOz – whose real name is Tez Miller. She’s a geek like me except she has a funny Australian accent and drinks Foster’s beer. (Okay, I made that up.) She’s an avid book blogger, she does great reviews and she is utterly FEARLESS in who she messages on Twitter. (Seriously, even Ashton Kutcher likes Tez … I think.) You can’t not like her and for that reason, she’s made my list this year. (Also, I do this in the name of Commonwealth harmony.)

8) @ChatterboxCGC – whose real name is Christie Crowder. She’s in Atlanta. She is a blogging machine who has been doing social networking a LOT longer than me. She’s a mom which makes her infinitely qualified to know precisely what products are good and which ones are shite. She’s a writer with one book under her belt. Funny lady with a keen eye for  getting her name out there. Congrats Christie, you made my list of top Tweeps!

7) @elladkahn – whose real name is Ella Kahn. She’s in London. She talks funny too, compared to me … or maybe I talk funny to her. Anyway, she’s my literary agent’s assistant and Ella is AWESOME!! She makes my list because of her ABUNDANCE of energy and the fact that she puts up with all my anxieties – hell, she doesn’t even charge me when I ask her advice. She has a great insight into publishing trends and she is S-M-A-R-T. She’s the 2011 chair for the Society of Young Publishers in the UK and she is going to make a freaking UNBELIEVABLE literary agent one day. You’d be lucky to sign with Ella because if your book passes muster with her then you don’t suck. (YAY! I don’t suck as a writer!! Yay me!!)

6) @kinsellawarren – whose real name is Warren Kinsella. I’m a politics junkie and Warren Kinsella is a must read for anyone who wants the inside scoop on all things back room in the Canadian political system. He is a guy who has balls the size of the old Montreal Forum. He is an operative. He is in the know about more than he’s probably willing to admit and … and … he will tell you to @#$% clear off if you cross him. His blog is a MUST read. He’s a published author …. AND he’s from my hometown of Calgary which makes him uber-cool. (OH AND HE’S A PUNK ROCKER! YEAH, HE DOES GIGS AND EVERYTHING!)

5) @inklessPW – whose real name is Paul Wells. Hand’s down, the best political pundit in Canada. He actually *gets* Prime Minister Stephen Harper, no small feat because Canada’s current Prime Minister has the personality of drywall tape. He’s a jazz lover and he’s generally bang on in his analysis nine times out of ten. A must read.

4) @stephenfry – whose real name is … duh ... Stephen Fry. If you don’t know who he is, unfollow me right bloody now.

3) @stephen_taylor – whose real name is Stephen Taylor. He’s a conservative blogger in Canada and one of those National Citizen’s Coalition guys. He’s also one of the few people who can actually bait Kady O’Malley into a war of tweets and he’s got a keen eye for spin. In other words, he spins all things Conservative – sometimes even before it’s happened. It’s quite a wonder to behold, really. Taylor has insight into Ottawa and is a very entertaining guy … even if he does have a beard.

2) @kady – whose real name is Kady O’Malley. Everybody loves Kady (except for the government info-bot thingy and the Tory war room during a federal election.) She’s got thumbs of fury and is probably the most electronically connected journalist covering national politics in Canada. She’s a freaking WALKING library of Parliamentary rules and procedure … no, I mean she loves this stuff. She’d rather read Hansard from some obscure debate during R.B. Bennett’s time as Prime Minister than to actually go out and see a movie or grab a good steak. She is ruthless … RUTHLESS when it comes to trolls. (You see, a lot of Conservative trolls have it in their minds that Kady is a Liberal shill – which she isn’t. Kady O’Malley is happy to rip any political figure a new one in 140 characters or less regardless of their political stripe.) You simply cannot dislike her unless you’re an agendized automaton that’s part of some Tory Skynet thing. Follow her on Twitter. Do it. Now.

1) @Bez – whos real name is ????? I started following Bez early this year not because of her frankly bizarre very bizarre tweets. No. I follow her to remind me to check out her website every day. (It’s called The Daily Bez… get it? You will once you check out that site.)

I admire this young lady a hell of a lot. Why? Because she has got GUTS. Look at the pictures! Look at how she dresses! She’s able to cobble together the most outlandish fashion which she somehow manages to pull off! She’s creative to something like the power of a jillion. Some people have a flair for color; well Bez IS THE LIVING MANIFESTATION OF COLOR. If the refracted light spectrum could somehow become a human being, then Bez is it. Period. Follow this young lady and Bez … COFFEE TABLE BOOK! COFFEE TABLE BOOK! (I have been bugging her to publish her pics because they’re fantastic.) If you’re in New York and you’re a fashion designer of some note – do hire this young lady. She’s freaking AWESOME!

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Walking Dead Recap – Shane Blows a Gasket

 

Yep, that’s Sophia. You remember her, don’t you? She decided to bolt from underneath a car during a migration of the living dead on that nasty highway of smashed up cars. She’s been missing for weeks and, well, she’s a zombie now. This was the *surprise* reveal at the end of Sunday night’s mid-season finale and if you didn’t see that coming, grab a shovel and hit yourself in the face a few dozen times.

The show opened with Glenn spilling the beans to everyone about what Doc Hershel had *hidden* inside that barn and for a zombie fan like me, this is the weakest link in the series this season because zombies moan … a lot. You would think that Rick’s band of intrepid survivors would have, I don’t know, heard the moaning after one night sleeping under canvas, but no. These Barn Zombies are a new breed – silent and stealthy. They rarely complain. They just shamble about aimlessly as their flesh slowly rots away. (And then there’s the issue of the stench. You’d think that if Rick’s peeps hadn’t heard the zombies they would have at least smelled them. I mean, there were a dozen in that barn. A dozen!!)

Anyway, Lori is still preggers and Rick has a bit of a tiff with Shane early on in the show – informing Shane that Lori is knocked up. Rick decides to go and reason some more with Doc Hershel to see if some common ground can be reached, but the Doc wants them gone. Even though his daughter Maggie is starting to come to realization that it’s kind of nice to have Rick’s clan sticking around. Plus she has a boyfriend in Glenn, now, so …

Shane confronts Lori about the pregnancy and Lori tells Shane that even if the baby is his, it’s not going to be his baby. So there. Suck it up. Shane, who is already slowly falling apart is about to go postal – you can see it coming. Young Carl tells Shane what for, emitting the word “bullshit” and he says to Shane, “dude, we are so not leaving until we find Sophia.” So Shane heads back to the Winnebago to get some guns but spiritual leader of the group Dale (who is really starting to bug me even more than bitchy Andrea) has taken it upon himself to hide all the guns. Not a good idea when loose cannon Shane is coming apart. This after Dale warns Andrea that Shane is bad news – but she’s already had kinky post apocalyptic back seat sex with Shane so Dale’s counsel is ignored.

Later on in the swamp, Dale is confronted by Shane after being caught trying to hide the cache of guns. Shane doesn’t like this one bit and the pair have a very direct heart to heart during which Dale threatens to shoot Shane but eventually backs down. Shane got the guns back. Shane is all about the guns this episode.

Other things are happening. We learn how Doc Hershel collects zombies for the barn after two get stuck in the swamp. He enlists Rick’s help to rope them using whatever the heck those things that dog catchers use with the noose at the end of a long pole. Rick clearly hasn’t been able to get the fact that zombies are dead flesh through the good Doc’s brain as the Doc still thinks he can save them somehow. Annnnnnd … well, Shane and the rest of the team see the zombies being led to the barn so naturally Shane finally … loses … his … freaking … mind.

Shane smashes open the barn. Zombies start spilling out. Andrea, T-Dog, Shane and Glen start shooting them whilst Doc Hershel drops to his knees and has a melt down. And then finally … finally after weeks and weeks and weeks, teeny tiny zombie Sophia shambles out. We’re all shocked … shocked I tell you! Rick is the only guy with the balls to actually shoot her because the rest of the group is fairly stunned. (I won’t get into how Sophia’s mum earlier on seems to have resigned herself to the fact that her daughter is dead. I also won’t get into the fact that the best character this season, Darryl, is woefully underutilized yet again.)

And that’s how the show ended. Dead zombie Sophia amid a pile of dead zombies. A lot of crying and the team fracturing. The best character in this episode was Shane. He’s a man with nothing left. He’s told Lori that Rick doesn’t have it in him to survive. We are going to see a Team Shane and a Team Rick, I think, for the rest of the season.

Final thoughts – I still enjoy the show. I just wish it wasn’t so predictable.

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