S.G. Browne

K is for Kibosh (or why zombies don’t believe in God)

(This entry brought to you courtesy of Andy)

I supposed K could have been for Kill.  (Obvious)  Or Kidney.  (Good stuffed in mushrooms)  Or Kinky.  (Zombie sex)  Or even Kyanize, which is defined as:

to make resistant to decay by treatment with a solution of mercuric chloride

Of course, this only pertains to wood, which doesn’t help the living dead and would only cause Jerry to snicker and make some comment about “sporting wood…”

Jerry: Dude, you said “wood.”

See what I mean?  So you get the point.  In any case, none of them appealed to me or to the author, who is a bit of a shut-in and could use a trip to the Hustler Club, if you get my drift.  So we ended up going with Kibosh.

Why Kibosh?  Because of this line in Breathers:

“…being able to smell your own rotting flesh tends to put the kibosh on your belief in a divine power.”

Needless to say, zombies don’t tend to have a lot of faith in God.  You don’t see the undead shambling to the local church in their Sunday best to sing the praises of a higher intelligence.  Most of us would rather stay home and watch football.  Or curl up with a good book and a cup of tea.

Once you reanimate, you wonder what kind of God would purposely do this to you?  Never mind about the life that you’ve lost and are now forced to watch from the sidelines.  Forget about the way your dog rolls on your or the way your cats use you for a scratching post.  What you wonder is what kind of a higher intelligence would bring you back from the dead to be ridiculed and vilified and imprisoned in a zombie zoo?  Or worse, on a reality TV show?  While it’s bad enough to have to deal with the embarrassment of public sloughage, there’s nothing worse than suffering through the indignities of putrefaction on network television.

It’s enough to turn even the most devout believers into skeptics, so it’s not surprising that zombies can tend to get a little surly.  Of course, just because we have our doubts about the existence of a supreme being doesn’t mean we don’t have a conscience.  After all, when you’ve started eating human flesh, even if you’ve never believed in God or heaven, you still tend to wonder about eternal damnation.

(Next entry:  L is for Lullaby)

Filed under: Breathers,Zombies — Tags: , — S.G. Browne @ 9:57 am

Zombie Talk Thursdays

So on Zombie Talk Thursdays on Twitter (#zombietalk), the question posed today was:What songs would you listen to while battling the zombie hordes?

Naturally, since Breathers is written from the viewpoint of the aforementioned and often-maligned zombie hordes, it’s not second nature for me to think about what songs would be appropriate for dispatching of the undead.  But I came up with the following playlist, along with a brief description of why I included each song:

“Down With the Sickness” by Richard Cheese
Both this cover version and the original version by Disturbed appear in the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead. I like this one because it would a nice, surreal, lounge music feel to the mayhem.

“The Man Comes Around” by Johnny Cash
Also on the soundtrack to the remake of Dawn of the Dead, this is a prophetic song for a zombie apocalypse.

Comanche” by The Revels
From the Pulp Fiction soundtrack, this is the song that plays when Bruce Willis take his samurai sword to Zed and his pawn shop pervert pal. Enough said.

“Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” by AC/DC
The opening guitar riff is enough to put me in the mood to pick up an axe and start swinging.

“Dead Man’s Party” by Oingo Boingo
Just to add a little irony to the playlist.

“Brain Stew” by Green Day
Mostly I love the title, but the steady bass beat and the scratchy, dissonant sounds at the end are the perfect aural accompaniment to using a chainsaw.

“Subtract You” by Zebrahead
While the title is appropriate for dispatching the undead, the song itself is fun and playful. And who doesn’t want to have fun when you’re killing zombies?

“No More Mr. Nice Guy” by Alice Cooper
Another well-titled addition to the playlist. After all, you can’t be George Baily and kick some zombie butt.

“Surrender” by Cheap Trick
Like “Subtract You,” this title has the attitude that you’re not backing down. Plus it’s got that uptempo beat that makes getting splattered brains and blood not such a big deal.

And finally, for those lovers committed to battling the zombies together:

“Never Tear Us Apart” by INXS

What are some of the songs in your zombie battle playlist?

You can follow me on Twitter @s_g_browne.  Or follow Andy on Twitter @AndytheZombie.

Filed under: Just Blogging,Zombies — Tags: , , — S.G. Browne @ 1:28 pm

J is for Jerry

A conversation between Andy, the main character in Breathers, and Jerry, his best friend…

Andy: Jerry is a twenty-one-year-old car crash victim with an exposed brain and very little self awareness.
Jerry: (Waving)  Hey.

Andy:  They can’t see you, Jerry.  This isn’t on television.

Jerry:  Oh.  (Simulates masturbation)  So they can’t see this?

Andy:  (ignoring Jerry) A fifth of Jack Daniels, half a dozen bong hits, no seat belt, a utility pole, and bad judgment on a right-hand turn sent Jerry through the windshield of his cherry red 1974 Charger and skidding along River Street on his face.

Jerry: Road rash city.
Andy:  Which is how he ended up as a member of Undead Anonymous.

Jerry:  Total bummer.

Andy: Yes.  But maybe you wouldn’t be a zombie if you would have exercised a little more common sense behind the wheel of your car.

Jerry: Dude, you fell asleep while driving home from a party and like, totally killed your wife.

(Sound of crickets chirping)

Jerry: Sorry dude.  That was harsh.

Andy: It’s okay.  At least I don’t wear my baseball hat sideways and my pants halfway down my ass.

Jerry: (hiking up his pants)  It’s the style, dude.  The chicks dig it.

Andy: Breather women don’t dig undead, decomposing slackers.

Jerry: Yeah, but there’s some totally hot zombie chicks out there who are interested in a good stiffy.

Andy:  You’re referring to your permanent, post-mortem erection.

Jerry:  Terminal boner, dude.

Andy:  Jerry fancies himself a ladies man among zombies.

Jerry:  (popping a couple of peppermint Altoids)  Curiously strong.

Andy:  Yeah, well, they’ll have to be more than curious to have an impact on your breath.

Jerry:  Or I could go around wearing women’s make-up like you.
Andy:  I think we’re done here.

Jerry: (removing his hat and leaning forward) Dude, you wanna touch my brain?

(Next entry:  K is for ???  Send me your suggestions)

Filed under: Breathers — Tags: , — S.G. Browne @ 11:56 am

Zombies vs Vampires

No.  The title of this blog entry does NOT refer to the Facebook application where you can build an army of zombies and vampires and fight other zombies and vampires to become bigger and stronger.  I stopped playing months ago because I just didn’t have enough time to keep feeding my zombie and taking care of it.  But apparently, in my absence, my zombie has become a Level 6 Samurai.  I have no idea how that happened.But I digress.

Zombies vs vampires.

I’ve always been a zombie fan.  Ever since I saw Romero’s original Night of the Living Dead on Creature Features back when I was in 6th grade. I even used to dream about them chasing me or surrounding my house or doing my taxes.  And I will admit that I enjoy the fast moving zombies as well as the shuffling ones.  They’re both terrifying in their own way.

Vampires?  They’re okay, if you want an immortal, supernatural creature with superhuman strength and the ability to shape shift. I don’t have anything personally against vampires, I’ve just never been that enamored with them.

For the most part, fans are either in one camp or the other.  At least most of the zombie and vampire fans I know.  But I like to generalize, so for the sake of me being right, we’re sticking to this argument for the time being.  You don’t get a lot of fans straddling the fence, loving zombies AND vampires.  And there’s a good reason for this.

Vampires are like fraternity boys.  All pretty and full of themselves and constantly trying to get you into bed.  They primp and they pose and they get all dressed up to go out for a night of partying.  Every move the make, all the posturing they do, is just a smoke screen to lure you in so that they can feed on you.  Drink your blood.  (Okay, maybe not the vampires in From Dusk Till Dawn or The Lost Boys, but your stereotypical vampire, sure.)

They’re insincere.  Hiding their true motives.  Bullshitters.

Zombies, on the other hand, don’t try to impress you with their good looks or their charms or their fancy outfits.  They don’t pretend to be something they’re not.  They wear their decomposing hearts on their sleeves and aren’t ashamed to say, “I’m a zombie and I want to eat your brains.”

I admire that in a monster.  Plus, they’re tragically comical.  Shuffling along, losing their hair and teeth and nails and the occasional appendage.  Add the fact that they used to be us, that we could all become them one day, and it creates a sense of empathy that, ultimately, was the reason I wrote Breathers in the first place.

So how about it?  Zombies or vampires?  Which camp are you in?  Or do you go both ways?

Filed under: Zombies — Tags: , — S.G. Browne @ 11:50 am

I is for Investigation

“Up until about three weeks after death, the internal organs of a corpse can still be identified.  After that, the internal organs turn to chicken soup.”

The previous culinary analogy was something I gleaned from a wonderful book titled STIFF: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach.  From STIFF, I also learned about cadaver impact testing, that unembalmed dead people basically dissolve, and that when maggots feast on the subcutaneous fat of a corpse, it sounds like Rice Krispies.

Snap, crackle, pop.

Throw in the fact that marshmallow is made from gelatin, which is derived from the collagen inside the skin and bones of pigs and cows, and suddenly those Rice Krispie treats don’t sound so appetizing.

In addition to the helpful tidbits of information I found in STIFF, I read an enlightening on-line article by Dr. Trisha Macnair about human decomposition that explained how, in the tropics, a corpse can become a moving mass of maggots within twenty-four hours.

Both of these sources helped me to add a visceral reality to Andy’s world that I couldn’t have made up.

I think it’s impossible to write a work of fiction without doing some research.  I don’t know about other writers, but I’m not a bottomless source of information, so I need some help when my imagination fails me. And adding some facts to the fiction makes the story more believable.

When I write, the story typically unfolds as I’m writing it, so I don’t always know what research I’ll need to do until it becomes apparent that the scene or chapter I’m writing needs some help.  Like the scene where Andy discusses the different types of wine he’s consuming (I’m a Boddington’s man).  Or the chapter where Andy’s mother helps him apply make-up.

In addition to researching what happens to human bodies post mortem, I read the TV Guide to make sure I knew what programs were on and when, visited an on-line wine store to improve Andy’s beverage selection in his parents wine cellar, hung out in the Soquel Cemetery for a couple of hours with a notepad, and studied up on the different shades and brands of Rita’s lipstick.  I also read up on how to preserve game meat, who’s involved in a television production crew, what people have as their first memory, and how to apply concealer, foundation, and contouring powder.

I’m sure I’ve made some errors in my research.  Although I am a man, occasionally I do make mistakes.  But I had a lot of fun blending fact and fiction to create the world in which Breathers exists and try to make it believable.

(Next entry:  J is for Jerry)

Filed under: Breathers,The Writing Life — Tags: , , — S.G. Browne @ 8:48 am