Monthly Archives: February 2015

More Walking Dead (I know… I’m Sorry!)

Writing another blog entry about the TV show is the psychological equivalent to holding hands with other viewers. It’s the connection I need to sustain me when the cast is struggling to survive. Which is always. Also, I get to list things that annoy me about other viewers while staying well out of reach.

Sensible watchers live in the hope that all will be well with Rick and the Gang. Maybe someone will figure out a cure. Or find a safe place for them to live. From week to week, we hold our collective breath and pray no one else we love dies. Because it happens a lot.

The Talking Dead invites famous fans to discuss the night’s episode. I enjoy that. But some guests are complete idiots. Fans like Sarah Silverman, who live for more blood and gore. “More zombies!” they cry shrilly. “Kill more people! Keep it going!” Well, we all want to keep it going, but not like that!

These gore loving, negative Nellies speak for a minority of the Walking Dead family. I can’t help wondering, how were they raised? Do they consider Cormac McCarthy’s novel, ‘The Road,’ a light situational comedy? I feel no connection with these fans whatsoever. But there are many like me out there. I just know it. So in the interest of my own mental health, I am emailing the show’s producers with the following suggestion.

Make Walking Dead buttons for fans to wear that stipulate preference. There would be the “No More Deaths of Main Characters!” buttons. The rest would read, “More zombies! Who cares about Darryl!” Only two teams. From this moment, you must decide who you are in the world. Do you want mayhem for your own cruel enjoyment? Or survival and character development? Please choose wisely. If you pick the second, you are dead to me.  Pardon the pun.

Wearing buttons makes a lot of sense because then we know who to approach on the street. We could hold spontaneous fan meetings all around the world. If I was in Tokyo, I would find my people. I couldn’t understand a word they were saying, but we would make misty eyed contact, perhaps hug before saying goodbye. It would be enough.

Feel free to accost me on the streets of Flin Flon. But only if you’re on the right team. So choose wisely. If you pick the wrong button and the world turns dark, we’ll know who the bad guys are. The potential, ‘Team Cannibal.’ People who were probably happy when certain characters (I won’t spoil it!) died.

 Ahhhh. Now that I’ve shared, I feel so much better. I’ll see you at the Orange Toad for our first ‘Darryl lives forever!’ group meeting. If you disagree with my point of view, then I’ll meet you at dawn on number ten highway. Michonne will be there with her katana. (Of course she’s on my side! Duh!)

East Side Story

When I was a child, neighborhoods in Flin Flon commanded great loyalty from their smaller citizens. I grew up in East Birchview, and happily defended its honour against the slights of older, more established areas, like Willowvale. There was something almost gang-like in our devotion. Not like the Los Angeles Crips and Bloods, or the Jets and Sharks from West Side Story. We were more like the ‘na na boo boo’ gang.

We didn’t glide elegantly down the back alley of Norma Avenue, snapping our fingers and throwing down badass lyrics. The Hanson sisters would have liked that, but brother Bill and the Bryson boys, not so much. Belting out a few lyrics would have been awesome, too. Again, no support.  I guess it only works in a musical.

In the absence of singing and dancing, the neighborhood kids on my street formed a tight if sometimes uneasy alliance. This was especially true in summer when children were allowed to run free. On a typical day, most would duck out after breakfast, taking nothing more than a white bread sandwich, a jar of freshie, and a head full of crazy ideas. Generally we were expected to return for supper, bring our shoes home, and try not to kill ourselves.

The best thing about East Birchview was our proximity to the bush. Every day of the summer we roamed its paths, making wildly improbable plans while chasing down the two horses and one cow that were often seen ambling through the trees. I think they belonged to Mr. Stevens, though why he had them, I’m not sure. Still, it was kind of heartstopping to see a horse pounding along the path behind you. We’d give chase, picturing ourselves riding bareback through town, like Tonto. We never caught them, but it was thrilling, nonetheless.

The sand pit was also a great place to hang out. The whole neighborhood would show up for a game of steal the flag or king of the mountain. The sun would beat down, bleaching our hair and burning our skin. We’d return home covered in sand fly bites. There was no sun screen in those days, and we never seemed to bother wearing hats or applying bugspray.

One memorable summer, our next door neighbors, the Edwards, kept chickens in their back yard. Whenever we climbed the fence and called out to them, the hens would come running. We’d get scolded, but it didn’t stop us for long. Having a close encounter with chickens was crazy fun, and slightly scary for town kids. Eventually Mr. Edwards got rid of them, but it was thrilling while it lasted.

 I don’t remember much fighting, but there was a lot of name calling and general put downs. For some reason, it didn’t feel like bullying, though you had to know your place in the hierarchy. I sucked at marbles, wasn’t great at cricket either. But I had a good imagination. I was the one who came up with the idea for a circus in our back yard. It was more of a fair, really, with crazy rides made out of boards, barrels and rope. We placed the planks over the barrels so a child could stand, one at each end, surfing and teeter tottering their way across the yard. I don’t know that anything was ever that much fun again.

We went blueberry picking and played hide and seek. Crossed small lakes on make shift rafts and hauled our comics from house to house, peddling our wares with loud and voracious enthusiasm. An endless number of children’s voices would echo throughout the neighborhood, carried aloft on the hot summer air. At the end of the day, we’d answer our mothers call, trudging home with sunburnt faces and dirty feet. Tired soldiers at the end of a long campaign, we could hardly wait for the next day to begin so we could do it all over again. 

Non Athlete

Children who are not athletic usually take a while to discover that truth. Because when you’re young, anything seems possible. Flying is not out of the question. So why should playing ‘Steal the Flag,’ ‘Kick the Can,’ or baseball be so hard? For some of us, it really is.

I’m genuinely clumsy. Ten years of ballet hasn’t helped much, either. When our community choir had dance tryouts a few years back, I was out in the first round. I didn’t mind that much because I really don’t like being on stage. I was just secretly hoping that things had changed. That the act of aging would have endowed me with better coordination. It feels a little ironic, this continuation of my disability.

 I’m not competitive, either. As a kid, my sister Susan was always challenging me to races. Who could run the fastest, climb the highest, swim the farthest? Not me. And I didn’t care.  I just never understood the point of it. I still don’t like to compete. I don’t buy lottery tickets, enter my name in contests, or take on fitness challenges. Even yoga feels too difficult. Like I’m making fun of myself, trying to twist like a pretzel when just walking down the street with shopping bags is challenging enough. Zumba is an exception, because you can break out in your own moves if the dance is too hard. People might laugh, but they’re usually courteous enough to look the other way while doing it.

Sometimes I think I have a neurological condition, like a mild form of MS, or Parkinson’s. Something that would account for all the dropped balls and missteps. The difficulty in dribbling a basketball or playing tennis. I can’t even folk dance, and we took it every year in gym class.

I get lost easily, too, which may be part of the same problem. To find the right spot in a city or a basketball game feels like a quest. A Lord of the Rings sized quest. That many do it so easily seems almost magical to me.  People who are naturally athletic or have a good sense of direction must find my problem puzzling. I feel the same way about people who can’t spell.

In spite of all my klutziness, I always have fun playing. So what if I’m bad at winning games? I’m good at making friends. All you have to do for that is show up, cheer for your team and don’t be a downer. Encourage the people who like to run at the front of the pack. I may be lagging behind but I’m chock full of admiration and ready to cheer all of you in the running. Just remember that, once its over, I’ll need someone to come and give me a ride home. I’ll try not to get the blood from my skinned knees all over the seats. At least, I’ll give it my physically mediocre best.