Sunday, December 25, 2011

Zombies and Debt

I was just reading aloud to Olga from Debt: The First Five Thousand Years by David Graeber when I came across this sentence:

Horror stories, whether about vampires, ghouls, or flesh-eating zombies, always seem to reflect some aspect of the tellers’ own social lives, some terrifying potential, in the way they are accustomed to interact with each other, that they do not wish to acknowledge or confront, but also cannot help but talk about.

What aspects of our contemporary culture and social lives does the zombie apocalypse narrative allow us to talk about without actually acknowledging the concern explicitly?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Zombie Attack on Star Wars: The Clone Wars

It looks like the entire episode is available on YouTube. Grab it fast before Lucas makes them take it down. -KMO

Friday, December 2, 2011

26 - Pretty Much Mid Season Already

Episode 26 focuses on the "Mid-Season Finale" of season 2 of AMC's The Walking Dead. This longer-than-average conversation features KMO, Olga and Marty covering the entire episode but focusing heavily on the conclusion. Suffice it to say that, if you have not watched this amazing episode, do NOT listen to the podcast until after you've seen it. This episode shook some of us up and reinvigorated our enthusiasm for the rest of season two which will be resuming in February of 2012. Please listen to the show and let us know what you think by emailing us at or by posting a message on our Facebook page.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Black Friday Berserkers and OWS Zombies


I actually have been thinking about the concept of zombies in relationship to the mindless way people seemed to line up to get into stores on 'Black Friday'. By contrast I have heard some in the media imply that they thought the use of the 'human microphone' was zombie-like. Yet I've heard very little from same media about some of the antics people pulled last Friday aside from it being 'unfortunate'. How would you argue that it is the shoppers who are more zombie-like?

Have some in the mainstream media been infected?

Love to you and the lovely Olga!


Hi Lauren.

Thank you for your question. You've struck a bit of a nerve for me when it comes to zombies. I remember I was telling somebody here on the Farm about my enthusiasm for the zombie genre of media, and this old hippie asked me if all zombies were Republicans. I gave a wan smile and said nothing. I hope I didn't actually roll my eyes, but it certainly occurred to me to do so. Using zombies as a way to insinuate that one's perceived opponents in the culture war are mindless followers is, to me, the least interesting and imaginative application of the zombie meme. Zombies are more interesting than that.

Pundits for Empire in the corporate media have been grasping and struggling in their attempts to ridicule the Occupy Wall Street movement. So far the only trope that has found any traction whatsoever relates to hygiene. "Dirty hippies" is certainly a much hotter search engine term now than it was six months ago. In late October, Tennessee State Senator Stacey Campfield (Republican), in oposing an ad hoc curfew intended to squelch protest, told the media, "While I am no fan of the flea baggers' Occupy Nashville protest, I do not think they should be banned from protesting at the capitol." While this rhetorical tactic didn't give me any respect for this particular politician, I did see a bit of poetic justice in his choice of invective, as the term "flea baggers" is a play on "tea baggers," a term of ridicule that liberals use to belittle to Tea Party activists.

Right-wing blowhards who try to denigrate the OWS movement by calling its members zombies have a particularly uphill slog because some of the OWS protesters actually dress up as zombies and do the zombie shuffle through the streets as a form of protest. Do these pundits expect us to imagine that the protesters accidentally fell into a vat of white powder makeup and fake blood and that they don't realize that they're dressed as zombies? So in that sense, I will concede that the zombie label adheres more readily to Black Friday shopping berserkers than it does to people who camp out on high-rent real estate in order to confront the affluent with the reality that a shrinking class of haves enrich themselves at the expense of the growing class of have-nots.

Just last night I followed a link from the Friends of the C-Realm group on Facebook to a fatuous editorial in the Washington Post by Ed Rogers which opens with, "I think it’s safe to say the Occupy Wall Street experiment as a political force is over. Sorry, Carter, it was born a political zombie, and it only became more rancid over time." Rogers did not follow-up this comment with any explanation of how the Occupy movement is anything like a zombie other than that it smells bad, so I give Rogers an F for effort and and a D for insightful analysis. But even if he'd written something clever, calling members of a despised outgroup "zombies" exhibits a shallow appreciation for the zombie archetype.

Yes, we do have a consumer culture which fuels a consumption-based economy, and the corporate media relentlessly reinforces the ideological programming that legitimizes our absurd predicament, and certainly the zombie as insatiable consumer offers itself up as a weapon in the arsenals of "progressive" culture warriors. In George Romero's 1978 masterpiece Dawn of the Dead, zombies did return to a shopping mall and mill about aimlessly, and in that respect, so long as there was no living human flesh nearby to tempt them into a feeding frenzy, the zombie mall walkers behaved almost identically to living mall walkers. And yet I think Romero's true damning criticism of consumer (un-)consciousness manifests not in re-animated corpses doing laps around the food court but in the living human survivors who took refuge in the mall and attempted to isolate themselves from the decay of their own society by reveling in a practically unlimited stockpile of luxury goodies.

Nearly three decades later, in his 2005 zombie flick Land of the Dead, George Romero went a step further in dramatizing this theme. Other than the film's protagonist, the characters in Land of the Dead fall into three categories. At the top are the uber-wealthy who take refuge in a luxury high-rise and ignore the suffering of those who can't afford to join them. In the city streets below them, living in squalor, are their minions who carry out the will of the elites under the delusion that if they work hard enough they will rise to that privileged social strata. The remaining group, the vast majority of moving bodies in this world, are the zombies, who in spite of the depravity and predation of the elites, do what they can to preserve some shred of the normality of their former lives. Clearly, Romero's sympathies lie with the zombies.

Personally, I see the use of pepper spray against one's fellow shoppers as an example of the madness of crowds. It is a madness which the corporate media stokes, and the ever-versatile zombie meme encompasses this as well. Within the larger zombie genre, there is a sub-genre which depicts the zombies not as walking corpses but as living humans who have been driven mad by disease or exposure to toxic chemicals, and the Black Friday violence at Walmart and other temples of consumption does resonate with this particular sub-genre. I'm talking about films like The Crazies and 28 Days Later, although true zombie aficionados will tell you that the humans driven to pathological violence depicted in these films are not true zombies in the Romero sense.

Sure, the zombie is an avatar for a person who has abdicated his individuality, or as C-Realm guest Neil Kramer has put it, the de-spiritualized man; the empty shell of appetites and conditioned responses, devoid of understanding or higher purpose. It's much easier to label somebody who commits violence in his programmed role as consumer a zombie than it is to pin that same label on somebody who uses costumes, makeup and street theater as a form of protest. So, yes, I take your point that Black Friday maniacs certainly wear the zombie label more readily than do OWS protesters, but what this use of the zombie concept completely leaves out is the critical detail that humans are more dangerous than zombies.

Amost inevitably, in any zombie apocalypse tale, the zombies are not the ultimate threat to the living human protagonists. The zombies behave predictably. They are frequently slow in their movements and completely lacking in ingenuity. Once the human survivors establish their stronghold against the zombies then the real danger which emerges is their inability to tolerate each other's differences; differences in ethnicity, differences in political orientation, differences in social class. Time and again we have seen fictional characters sabotage their own safe haven and elevate their petty cultural squabbles above their own safety.

Think of Patrick, the fictional producer of the Big Brother TV show in the 2008 BBC miniseries Dead Set. His identity is so wrapped up in his disdain for the people who work for him that when he finds himself safely ensconced in the fortified Big Brother set with a handful of surviving contestants and one of his employees, he is unable to accept that he has found an ideal hideout in which to ride out the zombie apocalypse. Here he has access to food, electricity, fresh water, a rooftop greenhouse, and the company of a group of people who have proven themselves resilient and resourceful. But Patrick cannot accept them as equals, and any situation in which he is not giving orders is repellent to him. He conceives an absurd plan of escape, a plan which only the one outcast member of the group agrees to. His escape plan has no coherent destination, and succeed or fail, it will allow the zombie horde into the fortified compound and destroy the sanctuary for everyone.

Think of Daryl, in The Walking Dead. While he exhibits extraodinary competence in his ability to track, find food, and most importantly, dispatch zombies, he is completely dependent for his survival on Rick, Lori, Glen and the rest of his group. Even so, a niggling voice, in the form of his missing brother Merle, an avatar for everything city-dwelling liberals encourage each other to despise in so-called rednecks, urges Daryl to sabotage the social structure which is his best hope for existence as anything other than a mere "survival animal."

As Daryl lies injured and bleeding, a spectral Merle hovers over him and taunts him for following Rick, the sheriff's deputy who is the group's defacto leader. “You his bitch now? You a joke, that’s what you are. Playing errand boy to a bunch of pansy asses, niggers, and Democrats. You’re nothing but a freak to them.”

There is one sense though in which the OWS protesters are like zombies. Zombies, particularly in George Romero's movies, are not very threatening as individuals. Part of what makes the zombie apocalypse an attractive backdrop against which otherwise unremarkable people manifest extraordinary competence is that a normal person with a baseball bat or machete is more than a match for most any single zombie. What makes the zombies a credible threat is their numbers. We are the 99.9%.

KMO is the co-host of the Z-Realm Podcast.

This commentary is available as an audio recording here:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

25 - Everything is Food for Something Else

Episode 25 returns to AMC's Walking Dead and focuses on the 6th episode of the 2nd Season. KMO and Marty are joined by Mike from the Flickers from the Cave Podcast on this episode. We talk about the revelations of the episode and touch on the role that each of the characters play as a representative avatar for their own specific race/gender/etc.
The episode is titled "Secrets" for a reason, many things were exposed to the hard light of day. Listen in and see if you agree with our opinions and let us know what you think by writing to us at or by posting on our Facebook page.
At the end of the podcast you can hear a snippet from the wonderful "The Zombie Song" please follow the link to hear the whole thing and spread the word on this great little song.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

24 - People In Hell Want Slurpees

The Z-Realm lurches back on to the internet with episode 24. We return in time for episode 5 of AMC's The Walking Dead and to reflect upon the previous episode that we were unable to record an episode specifically for. Gauging by the opinions of KMO and Olga, it was probably a good episode to miss, though Marty felt like the sight of a huge, water-logged zombie bursting in two was worth the price of admission. There is much reverie in episode 24 and the conversation rambles from beginning to end. Pour yourself an adult beverage and join us as we look at our favorite TV show.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

23 - Survival Animals

Episode 23 has Marty, KMO and Olga talking about the third episode of season 2 of AMC's The Walking Dead. We spoil the episode completely, so avoid the podcast until you have seen the episode. Lots of surprises greeted us in this episode of our favorite TV show and we talk about them all. Please let us know what your thoughts are on the Walking Dead, our podcast and zombies in general by emailing us at or by leaving a message on our Facebook page.

Monday, October 24, 2011

22 - Down on the Farm

Episode 22 returns to the second season of AMC's Walking Dead and picks up with the band of survivors as they find themselves split into two groups, one struggling for the life of one person while the other group continues to search for one who has gone missing.
KMO and Marty are once again joined by Olga but we also add Lorin to the group to hash out the goings-on and make some predictions for what might come down the pike.
There was a significant problem with the audio in this episode so we had to cut it short. If you stay to the end though, you will hear a great segment from Prairie Home Companion that features our favorite undead beasties.
Join us next time when we will have the technical issues ironed out and let us know what you think of our efforts by writing to us at or by posting a message on our Facebook page.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

21 - The OZ - Original Zombie

Episode 21 focuses on the 1st episode of the second season of AMC's The Walking Dead. The second season picks up exactly where the first one left off with the band of survivors leaving the remnants of the CDC building in Atlanta on their way to Fort Benning in Georgia. Relationships continue to be stressed as the internal dynamics of the group are further explored.
We spoil the entirety of the episode, so do not listen until you have seen the premiere. Trust us, you'll be glad you watched it.
Stick around until the end to hear a little bit of the late, great, Sam Kinison.
We would love to hear your ideas for an alternate term for a roving group of zombies. The term "herd" leaves us cold and we fell certain that a better term is out there. Let us know your ideas by emailing us at or by posting your idea on the Facebook page.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Episode 20 - Yin and Yang

In episode 20 of the Z-Realm Podcast, KMO and Marty are once again joined, face to face, across the couch from the lovely Olga K. to discuss two significant entries in the zombie canon. We talk about Lucio Fulci's infamous Zombie from 1979 and Zack Snyder's outstanding reworking of Dawn of the Dead from 2004. The talk compares and contrasts the two and they pull no punches with either.
Please let us know what you think of the show and let us know if there are any other zombie-related materials that deserve some attention. Contact us on Facebook or email us directly at
For a more in-depth focus on Mr. Fulci and his landmark zombie film, please have a listen to episode 7 of the Flickers From the Cave podcast by clicking here.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Episode 19 - Where is My Mind?

In Episode 19, KMO and Marty are joined by Olga K for a bit of the old "face-to-face, old-timey, in the flesh" podcastinig. The beginning sound-bite is from a great YouTube video called "What To Do In A Zombie Attack". This episode features a wide-ranging conversation between KMO and the wonderful Dopefiend. Topics covered include numerous films, tv shows and comic books. One of the main films that they speak about is Lucio Fulci's classic "Zombie" or "Zombie Flesheaters" or "Zombi 2". If you want more info on that one, check out episode 7 of Flickers from the Cave.
We return to familiar ground after that and have a three-way discussion of the recent Zack Snyder film Sucker Punch. We wrap up our talk with Lady Rizzo performing her version of the song "Where is My Life" which, if you think about it, would be the ultimate question on every zombie's mind.
Please let us know what you think of the show by writing to us at "" or by messaging us on our Facebook page.

Monday, July 11, 2011

World War Z part 4 - Islands in the Sea of Zack

In episode 18 of the Z-Realm we are continuing to discuss the amazing audiobook of Max Brooks' World War Z. KMO and Marty are joined by Olga K from New York City, home of countless zombie outbreaks ( or so Hollywood would have us believe ). The conversation ranges far and wide, from the folly of an armchair survivalist to a blind man alone in a forest who finds the strength of 10,000 years.
As the podcast concludes, the conversation turns to other media that we are interested in, and, as usual, things end with a bang.
Keep the comments coming in on Facebook or you can write to us directly at

Sunday, June 12, 2011

World War Z part 3 - Tools and Talents

Episode 17 of the Z-Realm is the third part of our ongoing series on the audiobook of Max Brooks' World War Z. The story continues with the world looking towards a dark and sinister figure for help in dealing with the zombie pandemic and then looks towards the rebuilding phase with the need for reorganizing and reconstruction. We also feature a clip from Carl who has now appeared on the C-Realm, ETC Voices and the Z-Realm podcasts! This episode is bookended by clips from FOXs animated series Bob's Burgers which, if you have not seen it, you should. Enjoy the episode and let us know what you think by writing to us at or by posting a message on our Facebook page.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

World War Z - Part 2 - When the Poo Hits the Fan

Episode 16 of the Z-Realm podcast sees us return again to the audiobook version of Max Brooks' novel World War Z. This second section looks more into what happens in the novel when the world realizes that the dead ARE actually rising and hungering for living flesh. We also touch briefly on some recent topics like the new film Thor, 1973's cult film The Holy Mountain, the legendary Loc-Nar and other topics as well.
We hope you enjoy the show and that you'll continue to send us feedback at

Saturday, April 16, 2011

World War Z - Part 1 - Warnings

Episode 15 of the Z-Realm podcast focuses primarily on the audiobook version of Max Brooks' novel World War Z. It is a fantastic presentation of top-notch material, with an incredible array of elite actors providing voices to the characters. We wish everyone could experience this story and try repeatedly to convince you to do so. This is just the first of what will surely be several episodes dealing with World War Z. We also talk briefly about the 1932 classic White Zombie which stars the legendary Bela Lugosi. At the conclusion of the podcast we talk for a bit about Zack Snyder's newest film Sucker Punch. We hope you enjoy the show and that you'll continue to send us feedback at

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Episode 14 - Not the Teeth, Tammy

Episode 14 of the Z-Realm focuses mostly on 2006's Fido which tells a very distinctive and wonderfully nuanced tale of a boy and his zombie. Taking all the traditional trappings of 1950's America, the filmmakers add zombies to the mix and end up with an allegory-rich world that rivals the best of the genre. Featuring wonderful performances, a lyrical score, and spot-on art direction, Fido is an incredible treat.
Join in the conversation on Facebook or via email at

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Episode 13 - Bowling for Zombies

In episode 13 of the podcast, KMO and Marty talk about 2007's Wasting Away. This is low-budget zombie film-making at it's best. The filmmakers have a great idea and they execute it to perfection.
Listen in to the conversation and then do whatever it takes to find this gem and watch it yourself!
Contact us at with any ideas for subjects for future shows.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Episode 12 - Daria's Adventure in Zombieland

KMO and Marty follow a listeners advice and watch the incredible 2009 film Zombieland. The next 30 minutes or so are heaped high with praise for one of our favorite zombie films of all time. Contact us at or on our Facebook page and tell us about your own favorite zombie film, book, or whatever so that we can add it to our lexicon.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Episode 11 - the Go Button on the Blow Up

In episode 11 of the podcast, KMO and Marty take a look at a movie that was recommended by a listener, 1993's Return of the Living Dead 3 and have a lot of fun talking about the travails of a low budget film in its attempt to represent a zombie holocaust on the cheap. They also do a bit of a postmortem on season one of The Walking Dead on AMC. The episode devolves into a rambling discussion that was too much fun to cut out.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Episode 10 - Let Lasagna and Liquor Lie

In a total departure from the previous episode, episode 10 of the Z-Realm Podcast focuses on 1974's Let Sleeping Corpses Lie and it's portrayal of misguided scientists meddling in God's affairs and the horrifying side-effects that occur. The recording was done after the consumption of much lasagna, wine, beer, whiskey and an embarrassing number of chocolate brownies. We are joined by Kaye who lends her voice and observations to the discussion. Despite the violence on the screen, the laughter was coming in waves all night and it is clearly evident in the recording.