#19: BoreDom of the Dead
If you've been reading my newsletters for a while, you probably know by now that most of my monthly updates involve me rambling on about random, inconsequential stuff for several paragraphs, often swirling away into circular, semi-delusional diatribes about whatever's festering in my mind, from effective marital fart filtration strategies all the way to complaining about how often people mispronounce the word "salmon". Usually with a sprinkle of zombie apocalypse survival wisdom for consistency's sake.
Tip: If you've eaten fresh salmon (or any sort of seafood) and are feeling a little gassy, sleep in a separate bedroom from where your spouse is sleeping. Trust me. Seafood farts are the worst. Unless it's a zombie apocalypse, in which case, everything probably smells freaking terrible anyway. If anything, your salmon farts might help hide the smell of nearby rotting zombie flesh, so farting up a storm at bedtime might be the single most romantic thing you could do for your partner.
Well, hold on to your undead butts, people, because I've been lying on my pasty-white back for about six weeks now (as ordered by my knee surgeon), and I've hardly had anything to do beyond allowing my bedridden, unravelling mind to spin, bob, and bounce itself around like a defiant ping-pong ball that fell into a toilet bowl midway through a deuce power flush.
Yup, I'm bored as heck.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not bored in the brain. There's plenty happening there, what with all the reading, writing, and scrolling through countless hilarious dog and cat memes online. But my body is soooo bored.
See, the thing is, I'm one of those annoying weirdos who can't really sit still for long. I totally suck at dinner parties, because an hour into being at the table, eating and talking or whatever normal human beings are supposed to do at dinner parties, I always need to get up and move, start doing the dishes, wipe down some random countertop, that kind of thing. It's not that I'm twitchy, not exactly, but no matter what I'm doing, I'm always moving around a bit. Shuffling, shifting in my seat, tapping my foot, cracking my knuckles, etc. So being told by my surgeon that I had to pretty much stay prone for forty-two days, with zero weight on my injured leg, only moving around the house on crutches like some sort of grumpy, clumsy praying mantis, not even allowed to drive, shower, or give random flying sidekicks to people... yowtch. What a bummer.
If I were to compare it to something, well, it's kind of like when you're at home, wearing your brand new white shirt that you just won at an office raffle last Thursday. You're eating a delicious all-beef hot dog, but oh no, you accidentally squirt mustard right onto your white shirt. Then, as you dash to the kitchen to grab something to clean yourself up with, your evil neighbor Carl suddenly throws a hand grenade through your window. So you hurl yourself at it, desperate to sacrifice your own life to save your family, but when you land chest-first on the grenade, you realize it wasn't a grenade after all, it was actually a fistful of fresh dog shit that just kind of happened to look like a hand grenade. So obviously, it doesn't explode, it just sort of... squishes. And all of a sudden there you are, wondering whatever happened to your hot dog, and what the hell went wrong with your life that you ended up like this, lying flat on kitchen floor on top of a wet, spattered fresco of mustard and doggie doo-doo all over your nice new shirt.
Why Carl? WHY?!
And then you get attacked by a wombat. And then you die. Because... wombat.
If the previous paragraphs aren't proof enough of how bored I am right now, then please stand by as I text you a delightful photo of the toe lint I harvested from myself yesterday.
Boredom is a funny thing. When you're a kid, being bored is probably the worst thing in the world. In fact, according to science (and by science, I mean some Polish dancing dude on TikTok who goes by "Papa Scyance"), for a majority of kids, boredom feels like physical pain. Based on my own seven-year-old's reaction to being bored, the experience is somewhere in between having to sit through an eleven hour amateur yodelling audition and being eaten alive by a pack of angry, elderly beavers. Heck, for kids, boredom is probably even worse than accidentally sticking your head inside an elephant's rectum (hyperlink trigger warning: somebody accidentally sticks their head inside an elephant rectum).
When you're a young adult, you tolerate boredom, but you always kind of feel guilty about it. It's like boredom is some sort of mild seasonal allergic reaction to life in general. But instead of Benadryl, you cure it with terrible indie music, binge drinking, experimenting with illicit substances, and indulging in a score of hygienically questionable one-night-stands.
But then, you move on in the years. And if you find a mate like I did, you reproduce, then plop down a few adorable yet extra hungry, over-opinionated bipeds onto our small, woefully overpopulated planet. And then, boredom, as fleeting as it may be, becomes your best friend in the whole world.
Or, to be more accurate, boredom becomes like your awesome old high school bestie that you haven't seen in forever, and you feel pretty bad about being out of touch for so long (geez, has it really been eleven years?), so out of the blue, you call them up and try to set a lunch date to hang out and catch up, right? That'll be so much fun, just like the good old days. Except that the scheduling never works out on account of how they have an orthodontist appointment, and you have that thing with your in-laws, and they have to put in extra hours filing their taxes this weekend, and you get a cleavage rash which may or may not be contagious, and their kid needs to be driven to rehab, and you're having a bad hair day on account of the tornado last week... and suddenly, it's eleven years later all over again and there you are, finishing up a box of supermarket wine while trying to track down old so-and-so on Facebook because you don't even remember what they heck they even look like anymore.
Oh, scratch that. There they are. Wow, look at that. Your old high school friend now lives in a polygamous Sasquatch worship cult down in Booger End, West Virginia. Oh, cool! They just won second prize in their local tuna melt pageant! How nice.
That was a ridiculously overcomplicated way for me to say that when you're a busy parent, you pretty much fantasize about being bored all the time. You want to be bored so badly, but you never are, because you're so darn busy. You spend most of the day Ubering your kids around town like you're type-trialing being an Amazon delivery driver, cleaning up after their horrible messes, scraping out impossibly generous skid marks from their underwear, running endless errands, cooking meals without giving your family salmonella, and, you know... working for a living. Paying the bills. Also, listening to true-crime serial killer podcasts instead of actually murdering people, because that's what sane people do, apparently. When you're an overburdened mom or dad to young kids, even the idea of spending fourteen minutes off your feet, being bored out of your skull, it's pure bliss. Just sitting down, chewing at a stubborn hangnail while staring at the kitchen wall you'll never have time to repaint... Yeah, me likey.
And then the years go by some more, and eventually you get super old, and boredom gets to be pretty awful again. Why won't that phone ever ring? Whatever happened to Freddie Prinze Jr.? And where the hell are my pants? I like to imagine that when I'm really old, I'll be so bored that I'll start to experience things like loafer maintenance, unsalted Ritz crackers, and irrational anger towards suspicious teenagers as forms of entertainment.
Then again, in the twilight of one's life, boredom kind of IS an old, reliable friend, consistent and always there for you. So maybe it'll be my safe space, my comfort zone. Also, I'll be co-existing with the realization that at any given moment, I might just keel over and die of overlapping-face-wrinkle-induced-suffocation, so whatever.
But for me, ever since my knee surgery, this whole thing of spending six weeks not being able to move around much, just feeling my lower body wither away like a hot turd in the sun... yeah. No fun. Even though I'm getting plenty of time to work on my stories, I've never missed doing menial chores quite so much as I do right now.
Is it weird to imagine a middle-aged man fantasizing about washing the dishes, organizing the shed, or taking out the trash? Then again, considering the state of most marriages these days, maybe it makes for a super sexy visual. Kind of like reading a crazy-explicit billionaire reverse-harem novel, except instead of the chiselled bodies, the limitless wealth, and the steamy sex scenes, you just have one gangly, average-looking dude stomping around the house, emptying wastebaskets, making lasagna, cleaning the toilet... AND LIKING IT.
Yeah. I'll just keep telling myself that this is every woman's fantasy. Fabio, grab the dish soap or move over, buddy.
Anyway, don't worry about me. My whiny bout of over-entitled post-surgical boredom is temporary. Me being off my feet for six weeks means that my tremendously overworked wife right now has likely been spending forty-two days drawing up a thorough (and probably alphabetized) list of every single thing I'll have to do when I'm back to walking just to pay off my incapacitation mortgage, spread out over the next twenty-five years. As such, I'm delaying my next book launch to November 2047. It'll be a self-help manual titled "Secrets to a Happy Marriage: The Power of Utter Subservience". Yes, there will be a zombie survival chapter in there. I figure there probably won't be too many marriage counsellors still in business when the dead rise, so books like mine might be the only thing standing between post-apocalyptic marital bliss and bitter, cannibalism-induced divorces.
Note: Given how much I hated my bout with mobility-impaired boredom, it probably means I need to better appreciate how effective my kids are at eliminating all shreds of boredom from my life. Thanks, you awesome little chaos monsters. This also means that if there's ever an apocalyptic event, there damn well better be a few million zombies around just to keep me entertained. I don't think I'll do so well just huddling in a damp cave somewhere, spending years humming old TV commercial jingles to myself, squatting on a cold stalagmite surrounded by bat guano while I wait out nuclear fallout, super-volcano ash, or some sort of mutant airborne Ebola virus that turns humans into semi-sentient eggplants. The walking dead just may be the only thing that'll keep me sane.
The audiobook for Better Dead than Red is finally out and is available on Amazon and Audible right now! I'm really thrilled with this production. I still can't believe I managed to find a narrator talented enough to voice Brian, Shen, Hannah, Rocco, Greumach, and a whole bunch of moaning, groaning zombies. Please check it out, even if it's only to listen to the five-minute sample. The book is also available in paperback, eBook, and it's free on Kindle Unlimited!
Aside from that, I've got a lot happening in late May. That's when I expect to launch both Zillionaire: Zombie Survival for the Rich & Famous, along with my latest Zombie Vale novella Dog of the Dead. After that, I'm going to be entirely focused on my main Zombie Vale novels, the first of which (Zombie Vale 1: Flesh & Blood) should be released later this year.
I don't know if you heard about this, but some actor called Will Smith slapped some other performer called Chris Rock at some sort of live event not too long ago. People were talking about it a bit around the water cooler, apparently. I don't know, I've been a little distracted by slowly melting snow, lately. Anyway, why is this zombie news? Well, as you may know, Will Smith was slated to produce and star in the sequel to I Am Legend, alongside Michael B. Jordan. Which is totally awesome, even if it makes no sense whatsoever given how the original movie ended.
But apparently the public outcry over the Oscars slap has put several of Will Smith's projects on ice. We don't know yet what the status is on I Am Legend 2, unfortunately. No matter how I feel about the incident, I really hope we get to see this movie some day, because I really loved the original. So if any of you out there happen to be (or are related to) high-powered millionaire studio executives over at Warner Bros, please consider this: if Will is no longer in consideration for the leading role in this movie, I'm willing to step in and take his place. Please stop laughing and hear me out, okay? I'll even take a huge pay cut from what you would have normally paid Will to headline the movie; instead of his usual salary of 45 million dollars, I'll do it for $34, a high-five from Salma Hayek (I've always wanted one of those), and a lifetime supply of triple-ply toilet paper (I learned my lesson in 2020). Deal?
There's a new Italian zombie movie playing on Netflix right now that might be worth checking out if you're hankering for a bit of flesh-eating fun. It's called Don't Kill Me, and it offers a pretty novel take on zombies, with a whole underworld of smart, self-aware revenants (actually, they're more like zombie/vampire creatures) who need to feed on humans to stop themselves from rotting away, while also being hunted by an ancient cult of mysterious zombie killers. It's not a perfect movie by far, and there's a lot that could have been improved in the script and the execution to bring out the original concept's full potential. The script feels a little incomplete in places, and some of the action sequences aren't very polished. But whatever. It's zombies on Netflix. People reanimate from the dead. They eat other people, fight bad guys, and even manage to get laid, believe it or not. Is it great? No. But it's passable, and it's zombie-ish. Like I've always said, we have to keep supporting the zombie TV and movie projects being made out there if we want producers keep churning them out. There's bound to be some stinkers, sure, but sooner or later, there's going to be another Train to Busan.
BOOKS TO DISCOVER
Being more turnip than man for the past six weeks means I've had a lot of time to read, re-organize my TBR list, and add more authors to my ever-growing list of novelists I'm dying to discover. If you're on the lookout for something new to read in the zombie and/or post-apocalyptic genre, take a few minutes to check out the following five novels:
Chew, by Naomi Ault
In this zombie apocalypse, the fight for survival begins after you're cured. The Wormwood Prion infected millions with an irresistible need to chew, demonstrating a distinct preference for human flesh. Allison Rose is lucky. She's one of the fortunate few to wake up in a Recovery Center; cured, but with a head full of monstrous memories intact. Teaming up with the enigmatic Will Taylor—they discover the cure isn't the end of their nightmare, it's just the beginning.
Santa of the Dead, by Vaughn Ashsby
On a routine Christmas eve, Santa finds himself drunk, cranky, and living in his past.
After a poor start to his only real day working all year, Santa overrides the sleighs autopilot and makes a pit stop at the only house whose cookies he’s ever loved.
A poor landing and ironman-like entrance into the house later, Santa stumbles into something he had no desire to be part of… at least that he knows of. See, Santa isn’t who you think he is… not that he really knows either.
Did I mention the thing he stumbles drunkenly into was zombies? Because it is.
Afterworld: Apocalypse, by Camille Piccott
The only son of a powerful warlord, Gun hates the unjust system that keeps his father in power. But with flesh-eating plaguers outside the city walls, his father holds all the cards—and he knows it.
When Gun breaks the rules, he expects the punishment to be severe. Instead, he is ordered to befriend a girl. Gun would rather fight plaguers than waste his time on a teenager–until he meets Sulan.
As his feelings for Sulan grow, Gun faces a choice: does he toe the line and avoid his father’s wrath, or protect Sulan and her dangerous secret?
Dead Games is the prequel to the high-octane Afterworld Apocalypse series. If you like the dystopian romance of Warm Bodies and the gritty characters of 28 Days Later, you’ll love this action-packed story.
White Horse, by Jay Tinsiano
A gangster is caught in a terrorist attack.
An orphan child disappears into a CIA Mind-control project.
A global conspiracy to unleash a viral pandemic must be stopped.
Neighborhood Watch (After the EMP), by E.E. Isherwood
One second was all it took to erase Frank’s dreams. New home. New car. New retirement. Stolen by the EMP.
It gets worse. Frank’s neighbors failed to prepare at all, so it falls on him to keep them alive.
He starts easy: stockpile food, water, and guns. Disaster lessons he'd picked up reading books about the end of the world.
But after the EMP, keeping people safe gets complicated. He has to rally the neighborhood before the streets turn to chaos. And they will. He’s read enough to know the power might come on tomorrow…or never.
ALSO CHECK OUT THESE AWESOME BOOK PROMOS!
Wow. If you've made it this far, you're magnificent. I'll leave you be, now. Thank you for reading, and my apologies for any resulting nosebleeds or headaches.
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