Thursday, July 24, 2014

Kickstarter Project: Wiener Apocalypse

After years of food preservation research. Dr. Fickelstein creates a formula that brings food back to life.
Around 2008, I (Tom) went to Elf to get a tattoo. His work blew me away. So here we are many years later and I'm still coming up with crazy ideas. And he brings the ideas to life.  Which brings us to the Wiener Apocalypse. I have been doing stand up comedy for awhile. And I had a joke about zombie hot dogs. So next thing you know Elf is tattooing a zombie hot dog on my arm and the idea of the Wiener Apocalypse was born. Elf has been in the comic book industry since the 1990's. His artwork has appeared in (and/or on the cover of) comics published by Image Comics, Basement Comics, London Knight, Brainstorm Comics, Oktober Black Comics, Caliber Comics and Samson Comics. He has also written,illustrated and published his own comic book tilted "Grim City."  So when he asked me what I thought about turning the zombie hot dog idea into a comic book. It was a no-brainer. Yes, that was a cheesy zombie joke.  I've written the story and Elf has made it come to life with his artwork.  We put together some great rewards for backers of this project. We are using Kickstarter to fund the printing of the book. Which will be 32 pages of color and zombies with a twist. We hope you jump on board with the Wiener Apocalypse!  

Risks and challenges

We are ready to send this comic to print. Only a few changes will be needed. Like names of characters from our Kickstater project. The only delay would be from a third party printer. That is why we set the October release date. All paintings, shirts and artwork rewards will be shipped out by November.

Questions or to make a pledge, click here!

The Walking Dead Receives Two Emmy Nominations

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced its nominees for the 66th Annual Emmy Awards, and The Walking Dead was honored with two nominations for Outstanding Special and Visual Effects in a Supporting Role and Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series. The nominations are part of 26 total awards AMC received this year, with 16 nominations going toBreaking Bad and 8 to Mad Men
In the Outstanding Special and Visual Effect’s category, The Walking Dead was nominated for Season 4, Episode 1, “30 Days Without an Accident”, and will compete against the VFX teams from HISTORY’s Vikings, TNT’s Mob City, CBS’s Hawaii-Five-0, Starz’s Da Vinci’s Demons and Starz’s Black Sails.
For Outstanding Sound Editing, the sound editing team for The Walking Dead  Season 4, Episode 8, “Too Far Gone” will contend with the editors from Starz’s Black Sails, HBO’sBoardwalk Empire, HBO’s Game of Thrones, and AMC’s very own Breaking Bad.
The 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will be broadcast live Sunday, August 25 at 8/7c on NBC.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Thriving in the New Zombie Future: Business as Usual Planning for the Zombie Apocalypse

A satirical post welcomes the metaphorical zombie state experienced by humans in the modern built environment as the path of least resistance for a literal, future zombie state.

The zombie apocalypse has begun. Real people are turning in to zombies around the globe, based on the lull of our current auto-centric and technology-enhanced society. Each day these human-folk wake up in "little boxes" in a row "made of ticky tacky" and go through a litany of mundane routines. They jump into cars to go to jobs for their requisite eight hours. They pass by pitched roofs, colored stucco, and appropriately manicured hedgerows, until they arrive at their places of employment. Their jobs (perhaps in the local city planning office) are defined by activities where action is warranted but thought is not required.
As quasi-figurative zombies, they rubber stamp like drones, scanning over papers and reports, and then addressing over-the-counter applicants like automatons, slipping in to planner-speak (e.g., "You will need a variance to increase your FAR and your proposed multi-modal strategy is encroaching in the ROW.") They end their days by returning home in the isolation of their cars, shutting garage doors, turning on TVs and i-devices, and taking collective Huxlian doses of soma so that they can recharge their batteries and repeat the entire cycle again the next day.
This disembodied, figurative zombie state that our society has facilitated is a sad reality, but it also masks the real zombie epidemic that is already sweeping the globe. Despite public awareness campaigns on television with shows like The Walking Dead, in books like the Zombie Survival Guide, on college campuses with programs in Zombie Studies, in newspapers like the New York Times, and on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, we have become culturally numb to the real phenomenon that people are becoming actual zombies.
Yes, fellow citizens, activists, city planners, and urban designers, you read that right. People are actually becoming zombies. The fictional depictions in the media, combined with the societal zombie-like behavior our cities create, mask the darker truth that the dead are quickly becoming reannimated. (For the novice, reanimation is the term for zombification, as in reanimated corpses. Scientists refer to this phenomenon as CDHD or consciousness deficit hypoactivity disorder.)
Research organizations have begun to assemble panels of experts to address the impending biological outbreak that is infecting people and turning them into real zombies (Munz, Hudea, Imad & Smith 2009). Most recent studies have focused on scientific advances to prevent corpse reanimation (Davis 1988); Thomas 2010). However, more recent work evaluates how city design and transportation infrastructure are linked to the spread of the disease (Nuñez, Ravello, Urbina & Perez-Acle 2012). Specifically, this work shows that the disease can spread more rapidly in urban spaces with more traditional urban form and transportation planning practices—places with a business-as-usual focus on travel in cars. Places focused on bike and pedestrian accessibility, however, are more resistant to the impending zombie infestation.
This reality presents a critical challenge. Most cities around the world have not been designed to accomodate zombie-resilient travel modes, therefore making zombie infection rates in urban locales relatively unstoppable and a transition to a zombie society immanent. Some of the most accurate scenes in the 2013 Brad Pitt film World War Z illustrate these concepts with streets clogged by cars, with no route for escape. Conversely, in a scene that shows a military unit silently traveling on bikes to refuel their cargo plane, we see an illustration of bicycle transportation as more effective because of its relative silence.
Put simply, we will all be real zombies soon, because the current urban form is conducive to the rapid spread of zombification. We have designed the ideal city for our future zombie selves. Over the last 50 years, we have focused primarily on cars and fuel-driven transportation improvements as well as circuitous and resource dependent suburban developments. There were many benefits to these development patterns, but one unintended benefit is that we designed cities that are much easier for zombies to infest than they are for humans to inhabit.
Congestion and resource dependency have created a captive audience for a zombie transition—people held captive to the apocalypse in cars. This leads to a series of provocative societal questions, which should be of seminal importance to planners and urban designers: Since we are primed for a zombie transition, why are we trying to reshape many of our cities? Shouldn't planners, architects, and designers be focused on zombie adaptation strategies that recognize the reality of this transition? Perhaps we should continue our current auto-oriented focus, because the job of planning for future zombie inhabitation, what I call the "New Zombie Future" (NZF), has already been done?
Because it is clear that our fate is a societal shift to the NZF, I would argue in favor of acceptance. We have a clear, pragmatic, and cost-effective way forward for our society. We should maintain the status quo of our suburban, auto-oriented communities. We should stop creating conditions that foster movement and interaction among the population, thus breaking us away from our figurative (and future literal) zombie selves. At this point in our societal development, it would be easier to continue on our chosen path of suburbanization and auto-dependency by embracing our real, immanent zombification. We should facilitate the New Zombie Future as we evolve from zombies of abstraction, to zombies in reality.
Contrary to my opinion, there are those who do not agree with the zombie way forward. There are those who want to push back against this vision of the future. There are those who argue that we should try to redesign our cities to make them more resilent to outbreaks of all kinds. They argue that we should redevelop and redesign urban spaces so they are more dense and connected—that we should fight both figurative and actual zombification. These contrarians cite research from places like MIT that suggests clearly-linked, well-connected, multi-modal streets are more conducive to evading and resisiting a zombie attack (Ball, Rao, Haussman & Robinson 2013). They claim these connected streets would slow the infection rate in a zombie epidemic and help fight the apocolypse.
But that argument is not grounded in the reality of our cities and towns. Those are not the kind of streets we have built throughout the United States. As I described in my introduction, we already live a world where suburban development and long commutes encourage zombie-like social isolation. The technology that we claim connects us has us talking with our thumbs more than our mouths. Most of us don't vote, are apathetic, self-centered, and self-serving—we already behave like the zombies we so fear and despise. With this type of behavior, what difference would resistance make? Why would our society agree with highly-connected, walkable streets when they would only prolong the pain and suffering our future generations experience in becoming members of the walking dead?
There are those who argue for the transition to boats, planes, faster trains, a space elevator, the Hyperloop, and other futuristic forms transportation as the keys to more efficient travel and resistance. Dialogue on the CDC website even suggests, "… large, strategic bridges should be destroyed and ferries be offered in place so that zombies would be better isolated to land masses." But these ideas, while exciting and novel sounding, are only interim measures. They would only slow the zombie apocalypse and extend humanity for a short time. Ultimately our fate lies in our streets, where we are already designing to facilitate zombie transition. These are the places we are already designing for cars.
So in that case, why not go with it? We now have a great opportunity to continue our business-as-usual strategy. We should build on the type of development patterns we have been working on for almost a century. We should design as many loops and lollipops as possible—build in more dead ends and dangling nodes in our roads. We should stop worrying about mass transit, trip reduction, air quality, or greenhouse gas emissions. We won't need our natural resources after the zombie invasion, and we can even hasten our transition to zombiedom by exploiting them.
God forbid we make the societal shift to cities designed for walking and biking. Those modes may keep us from achieving our future potential as zombies, and without any societal focus on them, in my humble opinion, "resistance is futile" (to quote The Borg, of Star Trek fame). So why should we deny the inevitable? We should simply "awaken the zombie" that already exists within each of us by embracing dependency on fossil fuels and creating places that have less accessibility to goods and services (Koch & Crick 2001). We should focus on the auto—the ideal solution to welcome the New Zombie Future. Why would we resist when we have all the tools at our disposal to thrive in this brave new world?

'The Walking Dead' gives us a new season 5 banner

I can't help but notice that there are a few faces that are conspicuously absent...

It's the end of the world as we know it...

Sierra Leone’s chief Ebola doctor contracts the virus

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome could be airborne – Warns W.H.O

Mosquito-Borne Virus Potentially In Kentucky

Bubonic plague death in Yumen, China sparks quarantine

Fatal mosquito virus found in Massachusetts

Painful Mosquito-Borne Disease Now Infecting More Than 350,000 People In The Americas

Did you know...?

This was originally to be a zombie movie. After poor screenings, the studio tried to repackage it as science fiction by removing much of the zombie footage, freeze-framing the alien monster during attacks and adding laser beams emanating from its eyes.

Spotlight on Zombie Author Patrick D'Orazio

Patrick D'Orazio is the author of the Comes the Dark series of zombie novels:
Comes the Dark  
Into the Dark  
Beyond the Dark
Two more novels are planned for the series, both to be published before the end of 2014.

D'Orazio is also an accomplished short story author. A few of his published zombie stories:

"A Soldier's Lament" in Eye Witness: Zombiealso available as a stand-alone story  
"Humans Being Human" in Zombiality (of which, one reviewer said: "Separately, the story by Patrick D'Orazio is worth the price of the book alone.")  
"The Woeful Tale of Dalton McCoy" in The Zombist: Undead Western Tales  
"What's Eating You?" in Zombies Gone Wild
"Legacy" in Live and Let Undead
Patrick D'Orazio also contributed to the collaborative zombie book  Letters from the Dead 

Click here for more!