Friday, March 30, 2012

Mini movie review: True Grit (2010)

Mr. Mouse and I like Westerns and we generally like the Coen brothers' films, so I was glad when we finally got around to see their remake/retelling of True Grit.  I loved the look of the movie and thought Hailee Steinfeld and Jeff Bridges were terrific (even tho' I had a difficult time understanding a lot of Bridges's lines).  Mr. Mouse thought it was a little slow and I do concur that it seemed like there was a whole lot of build up ... and then not much time spent on the resolution - we were looking and looking and looking for Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) and then hardly saw him at all before he was dealt with.  I guess I'll put it here in my listing of favorite Coen brothers' movies: Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou?, True Grit, Raising Arizona, Blood Simple, The Hudsucker Proxy, Barton Fink, Burn After Reading.  (Yes, No Country for Old Men and The Man Who Wasn't There are on my "why haven't I seen these yet?" list.)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Book review: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

Locke Lamora, the Thorn of Camorr - orphan, thief, priest of Perelandro, con artist, master of disguise, liar extraordinaire.  When we first meet Locke, he is but six years old and already displaying a gift for theft.  Picked up by the Thiefmaker, who takes orphans and molds them into uncatchable pickpockets living in the catacombs beneath the city of Camorr, the boy is soon too much for the old man to handle and he is sold to the Father of Chains.  In a long-running con, Chains purports to be an eyeless priest of Perelandro, Lord of the Overlooked. In fact, he is carefully cultivating a crew of young master thieves and he is eager to add young Locke to his team.

Some years later, Chains is gone and Locke is running the crew, known as the Gentlemen Bastards and comprised of the Sanza twins, Calo and Galdo, big Jean Tannen and young Bug.  They live in Chains's old hideout in the lap of luxury, taking thousands of crowns off the unwitting nobles of Camorr and paying their dues to the criminal overlord of the city, Capa Barsavi.  They hardly spend any of what they steal - they do it for the thrill, the excitement of carefully planning and carrying out complex heists.  It's a good life, they live like brothers, and Locke is the mastermind behind it all.  But soon a new power comes to the city, threatening the status quo: the Gray King is killing off Capa Barsavi's gang-leaders and has apparently set his sights on the capa's seat of power.  Before long, Locke and the Gentlemen Bastards find themselves caught up in the plotting and cons-within-cons, and their world is going to get a lot bloodier before it gets better.

Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora is an engaging high fantasy novel, intricately plotted with memorable, well-developed characters.  The story moves on two prongs: the narrative's present, in which the Gentlemen Bastards are dealing with Barsavi, the Gray King and a long con of their own; and alternating flashback chapters to Locke's childhood growing up with Chains, the Sanza twins and Jean.  The flashbacks give nice depth and back-story to the current time's players, as well as a glimpse into the well-built world Lynch has constructed.

It's fast-paced and clever and I enjoyed it quite a lot, with only a minor quibble: some of the dialogue seemed a bit modern for this pre-industrial fantasy world.  The Lies of Locke Lamora is the first of Lynch's Gentlemen Bastard Sequence; the second is Red Seas under Red Skies, and then there are supposed to be a whole bunch more coming, but Lynch hasn't gotten around to writing them yet.  Great, just what I needed - to get hooked on another never-ending fantasy series.  Still, TLoLL is quite entertaining and a good read.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Walking Dead S2E13 "Beside the Dying Fire" (3/19/12)

Zombies walk the cities, eating what they can.  A helicopter (!) flies overhead, distracting and drawing them.  They follow, picking up more and more walkers as they go.  They stagger onwards all day and all night, only briefly held up by a fence.  They break through and now there are hundreds of them, wandering, wandering ... until they hear the sound of Carl shooting Zombie Shane to save his dad.  The herd of zombies lurches forward as Rick and Carl walk back towards the farmhouse, completely oblivious to the encroaching doom.

Darryl and Glen get back to the farmhouse and report that Randall was zombified without any bites, plus they found Shane's tracks comingled with Randall's.  Out in the field, Carl is trying to put together what happened, wondering how Shane died and how he got turned.  Rick isn't ready to answer the first part of that yet.  Then they hear the approaching walkers and run like hell.  The others, standing on the farmhouse porch, hear the groaning of the herd too and lock and load.  Rick and Carl take refuge in one of the barns and are quickly trapped.  Lori has discovered that her son is no longer in the house (seriously - these are the worst parents ever for keeping track of their child's whereabouts) and starts getting hysterical.  Rick decides that letting the zombies into the barn and then setting it on fire is a good idea; the zombies moan and burn, but don't die right away because it's not like the fire crushes their brains.

A bunch of the farmhouse crew jump into vehicles, planning to shoot a bunch of walkers and then hopefully lead the rest away from the farm.  Note: if Darryl gets killed off, I will, as previously noted, become extremely cranky.  Jimmy drives the RV around to the back of the barn to try to rescue Rick and Carl.  The RV stalls and gets overrun, Jimmy quickly and bloodily eaten, while Rick and Carl climb down the outside of the RV and scamper off.

Carnage, lots and lots of carnage, driving and shooting, driving and shooting.  Andrea realizes that there are too many walkers and that they'll run out of ammo before they make a dent.  Herschel stands in front of his home, methodically shooting zombies; meanwhile, Lori and Carol are basically f'ing useless, screaming for Carl, until Lori FINALLY picks up a gun and brings down a few walkers.  The zombies close in and Lori screams at Herschel to leave.  He won't give up his home.  Lori, Patricia and Beth run for it but the zombies tear Patricia away and munch on her.  Andrea jumps out of the truck T-Dog is driving to rescue stupid Carol and they are soon surrounded.  Maggie and Glen's car is nearly overrun until he yells at her to get the hell out of here - they have to get off the farm now!  Herschel almost gets eaten but Rick saves him in the nick of time, dragging him into a truck.  They drive off, not knowing that Andrea is still alive.  Darryl hears Carol screaming for help as she runs along a fence line.  She climbs onto the back of his chopper and they drive off.

After the humans have left, the zombies lose interest in the farm.  They begin to move off, searching for their next meal.  In a gorgeous shot, the burning barn collapses behind them, silhouetting them.

Ooh! Trailers for both Prometheus AND The Cabin in the Woods.  Squee!

Everyone is separated, driving through the woods at random on dirt roads.  Maggie is freaking out so she pulls over to let Glen drive.  He tries to calm her down, telling her that he loves her and has for a long time, and he's sorry he didn't tell her that before.  She gets a grip and they drive on.  The plan seems to be to rendezvous at the highway where they had left supplies for Sophia.  Rick, Carl and Herschel are the first to arrive. Carl freaks out when his mom isn't there.  A depressed-sounding Herschel says that he'll wait to see if any of the others show up (and if a zombie gets him, so be it), but Rick should take his son to safety.  Rick's all, no, we'll stick together.  They wait, occasionally dodging the odd zombie.

Darryl and Carol make it to the meeting place, then Maggie and Glen, then Lori, T-Dog and Beth.  Hugs and tears all around, then they take stock and realize that Andrea's fate is uncertain.  Darryl is ready to go back for her but Rick points out that she's either dead or she's someplace else - she wouldn't stay at the farm.  They've got to stick together and keep moving, and try to find a safe place where they can regroup.  They get into their vehicles and drive off.

Amazingly, Andrea has survived the night and is running as best she can through the woods with some tenacious walkers right behind her.  One comes up on her and she bludgeons it to death to try to save ammo.  Then she has to shoot a bunch of them until her gun comes up empty.  Speaking of empty, Rick's truck is out of gas.  He says they'll camp for the night, then forage for gas and other supplies in the morning.  Maggie says she and Glen can make a scavenging run now but Rick insists that they stick together for safety.

Around the campfire, the group talks about how Shane killed Randall (Darryl has put that together) and then Randall turned without being bitten.  Rick finally admits it: we're all infected, the CDC guy told me we're all carriers. (Frankly, I don't remember that but I'll go with it.)  Everyone is absolutely furious with him for not having shared that bit of information sooner.  Rick walks off.  When Lori goes to him, he tells her what happened between him and Shane.  "I gave him every chance," he says, "and he kept leading me further out.  He pushed me and I let him ... I wanted him dead."  He says that when he saw Shane turn, that's when he knew Jenner (CDC guy) was right.  When he tells her that Carl was the one who put Zombie Shane down, she staggers and then strikes out at him.  She goes back to the group and he watches her go, his gaze hardening, looking not far off a zombie himself.

Andrea is still fighting for her very survival as the sun goes down, beating in zombie skulls.  It looks like she's whittled the chase group down to just a few.  The last of them gets her down and it looks like it may be over for her - until the zombie's head is sliced off by a hooded stranger carrying a big ol' sword.  Said stranger stands above Andrea, two armless zombies (!?!) leashed to him with chains.  Andrea's like, thanks but WTF?

At the campfire, everyone is fretting about what Rick did (or didn't) tell them, and wondering if they should strike out on their own.  They hear a noise out in the dark and start to freak out.  Rick has had enough: "We're sticking together. I'm keeping you all alive - I killed my best friend for you all.  My hands are clean."  Now he's starting to sound like Shane.  No one will look at him so he's like, fine, you all can just fuck off and try to survive off on your own.  When there are no takers, Rick growls, "If you stay, this isn't a democracy any more."  Now they're all looking at him and none too friendly-like.

The camera pulls back, revealing what looks like a fort or a prison not too far away: protected, defensible and quite possibly just what they need.  Wonder if the hooded zombie-enslaving swordsman has anything to do with that place?  Jeez, I need to read the books!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Soon ...

The Walking Dead recap will be up tonight, I promise.  We've had houseguests in for a long weekend soI haven't done anything for this blog - read/watched/anything.  Service will resume as normal shortly.  Thank you for your patience!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Walking Dead S2E12 "Better Angels" (3/12/12)

 Rick's eulogy over Dale's grave is the soundtrack as Shane, Andrea, T-Dog and Darryl go zombie-hunting.  They kill a lot of them.  They kill some of them particularly viciously, including kicking one to pieces.  That was Shane's instigation, by the way.

Since more and more zombies are starting to show up at the farm, Rick's crew is given permission to move into the farmhouse where it's safer.  Herschel is feeling magnanimous and gives up his bedroom to Rick, Lori and Carl, saying he and the couch are old friends from his drinking days.  Rick has decided that they're going back to the original plan of releasing Randall into the wild.  Shane disagrees with this plan of course and says he won't be part of it; Darryl gets enlisted in his place.  Later, Rick asks Andrea to back Herschel up while he's gone.  She immediately assumes this means "babysit Shane," which it does.  Andrea takes offense on Shane's behalf but agrees to keep an eye on things.

Carl tells Shane how he failed to kill the zombie that killed Dale.  Shane tells him that it wasn't his fault, although it really sort of was.  Carl hands him the gun he stole from Darryl, saying that he doesn't want to touch another gun ever.  Shane insists that he needs it for protection but Carl refuses to take it back.

In the midst of moving their things into the farmhouse, Lori sees Shane working on the farm's windmill and goes to talk with him.  She thinks that he's okay with how everything has shaken out and so misguidedly admits that she doesn't know who the baby's father is.  She goes on and on (the writing is pretty lame here), crying, thanking Shane for saving her and Carl.  You just know that this is totally going to mess with his head and make him think he's got a chance with her.  She apologizes for what happened between them and as she walks away, Shane has a "WTF just happened?" look on his face.

Next, Shane tells Rick about Carl's zombie guilt.  He thinks that Carl needs to talk to his dad even though Rick is raring to go on his Randall-release fieldtrip.  Shane hands over the gun Carl stole from Darryl and sneers that the prisoner is more important to Rick than his own son.

Glen and Andrea try to get Dale's RV going again but it's cranky without Dale's light touch.  They talk about him a little, Glen sad that he let Dale down by not supporting his "don't kill Randall" position.  Andrea reassures him.  They get the RV started.

Rick finds Carl pouting in the hayloft.  He returns Darryl's gun to him and drones on and on about how what happened to Dale wasn't his fault (even though it really sort of was). Blah blah blah I wish you had a better childhood blah blah blah everybody dies blah blah.  Anyone think Carl is going to redeem himself with that gun?

Out in the shed, Randall is shredding his wrists trying to get free of the handcuffs.  He's still blindfolded and gagged so when Shane comes in, Randall doesn't know who's there.  Shane does some of his patented "I'm crazy" head-ducking and -tilting.  He holds his gun to Randall's head but doesn't shoot him.  Meanwhile, Rick and Darryl are ready to go so T-Dog (who's had like five lines this episode - atta go, T-Dog!) goes to fetch the prisoner.  When he gets to the still-locked shed, however, Randall is gone.  "Aw, hell no!"

Shane manhandles Randall through the woods.  He removes the blindfold and gag and asks where Randall's group is.  Randall wants to know why.  Shane says he can't stand his group anymore and wants to join new people.  Randall is totally psyched about this: "It's a tough bunch of guys ... you'll fit in good!"  Okay, heh.  They walk behind a tree where, out of sight, we hear a scuffle and a yelp.  Shane walks back out alone and then runs himself face-first into a tree, knocking himself down and breaking his nose.  Dude is bugfuck crazy, y'all.  He creeps back to the farm property where he observes the rest of the group scurrying around all frantic over the missing Randall.  Shane staggers out of the woods, yelling dramatically, "Rick! He's armed! He got my gun!"  Rick, Glen and Darryl arm up and head back into the woods with Shane while everyone else barricades themselves in the farmhouse.  Carl takes the binoculars and watches the men head out.

Darryl is a little skeptical that wee Randall could have gotten the drop on big ol' thug Shane but they split up anyway (Darryl and Glen; Shane and Rick) and start searching.  Anyone think Shane is going to try to kill Rick now?  He looks like a complete madman with the blood pouring down his face and Rick, to his credit, doesn't seem to trust him very much.  Meanwhile, it's gotten dark and Darryl grumps about how pointless this random searching is.  He and Glen start again from the edge of the woods and Darryl soon finds Shane and Randall's trail, and Shane's bloody tree, and Randall's blindfold.  But no Randall ... until a walker that looks A LOT like him attacks them.  Glen offs the zombie with a machete chop to the skull and the boys check the body.  He was killed by a broken neck (the scuffle and yelp) but there are no bites anywhere that they can see.  Glen: "How is that possible?"  They exchange extremely freaked out glances.  Seriously - how is that possible?  It goes against zombie cannon.

Rick and Shane come out into one of the pastures.  Shane draws his gun.  Rick holsters his and says, "So this is where you plan to do it?  Have the balls to call it what it is: murder."  Shane: "It ain't gonna be easy, but Lori and Carl will get over you - they done it before."  Rick: "I know you.  You won't be able to live with this."  Shane is all, you have no idea what I have to live with and then they start shouting at each other, fighting over who's better for Lori (she's really not that much of a prize, boys), who's a better father to Carl, who's a better man.  Rick tries to talk Shane down, saying it's not too late for them to put this behind them.  He holds his gun out to Shane and when Shane moves to take it, Rick stabs him in the heart with the dagger he had stuck in his belt.  Slick!  Shane falls, dying, and Rick screams at him, "You did this to us! You did this, not me!" Shane dies and Rick just howls, mourning his friend.

There's a strange zombie flash.  Rick gets to his feet.  There's another zombie flash - oh, Shane's totally going zombie, don't you know.  And then goddamn Carl shows up.  He pulls his gun; it's aimed towards Rick who thinks his son is about to shoot him for stabbing Shane.  Carl fires at Zombie Shane lurches towards the unsuspecting Rick and the bullet goes right through Zombie Shane's skull.  Nice shootin', Carl!  But don't linger over your success because at the far side of the pasture, a hella lot of zombies are staggering your way.

Previously on The Walking Dead / next time (which looks to be carnage-filled) on The Walking Dead

Friday, March 9, 2012

Book review: World War Z by Max Brooks

Technically, it's World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, as compiled by Max Brooks, author of The Zombie Survival Guide, which (according to the book jacket) "formed the core of the world's civilian survival manuals during the Zombie War.  Mr. Brooks subsequently spent years traveling to every part of the globe in order to conduct the face-to-face interviews that have been incorporated into this present publication." Because what we have here is the testimony from individuals all across the globe who somehow survived the zombie apocalypse and who were willing to tell their tales.

About ten years after the end of the Zombie War - also known as "The Crisis," "The Dark Years," "The Walking Plague" and "World War Z" - when the living dead had been largely suppressed (although by no means eradicated). author Max Brooks put together this oral history, interviews conducted all around the world that had been supposed to go into the United Nation's Postwar Commission Report but were deemed too personal.  Feeling that the world's survivors would want to read about the experiences of folks just like them, Brooks put this book together.

Set up as a series of one-on-one interviews, Brooks covers the initial infection, the world's governments' immediate (or not so immediate) reactions, the global panic, the turning point in the war, the reclaiming of the planet and the subsequent reconstruction.  He talks to the Chinese doctor who discovered the epidemic, an American soldier who fought in the disastrous Battle of Yonkers, a blind Japanese gardener who developed his own anti-Z martial art, a Soviet soldier, a Chinese submariner, American and British politicians, a survivor of the catacombs of Paris.  Their stories are grim, their survival not at all taken for granted, their recovery in the aftermath dubious.

This is a damn cool book.  I found it compelling - even if you remove the impossibility of zombies from it, to see how Brooks thinks the world's governments and military might react in the face of a more realistic global catastrophe is fascinating.  I liked some of the vignettes more than others: South Africa's harsh, yet successful, response; the American fighter pilot battling for her life in the swamps of Louisiana; the battle of Hope, New Mexico; the K-9 battalions, all particular favorites.  But what Brooks does best is capture the human element, the despair and the terror and the courage, the world (nearly) united for once against a common undead enemy.  Highly recommended for anyone with even a passing interest in zombies.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Walking Dead S2E11 "Judge, Jury, Executioner" (3/5/12)

Sorry this is late, y'all.  I was just too exhausted to get to it Sunday night.

Darryl shows no mercy, beating the crap out of poor Randall.  He wants information about Randall's group.  There's about thirty of them, men, women and children, pretty heavily armed; the men have a tendency to rape teenage daughters in front of their fathers when they go out scavenging.  Darryl does not like to hear this.  Randall yelps that he's not like that, he didn't do it, but Darryl keeps on keeping on.

In the morning, the group asks Rick what the plan is for Randall since he didn't leave him eighteen miles out as planned.  Rick says that it's up in the air.  Darryl swings by and reports what he learned from Randall, and that makes Rick's decision.  "You're just going to kill him?" gasps Dale, "There's got to be a process - you can't just kill him, he's just a kid."  Rick insists that no, the priority is not due process but keeping the group safe.  Dale pleads for 24 hours to convince the group of Randall's right to life; Rick says he's got until sunset and "[t]hen what happens happens."  Dale then asks Andrea to guard Randall so that Shane won't just walk up and shoot him.  He is shocked to learn that she is backing Shane's and Rick's decision.  Dale: "You're a civil rights lawyer!" Andrea: "I was."  (Did we know this about her?  Seems like news to me.)  He begs her not to throw away her basic humanity and she agrees to watch the kid.

Later, Shane swings by and laughs at her there on the death watch.  Then he hunkers down and says that he thinks that Rick and Herschel won't go through with the execution, that they'll "pussy out."  He thinks they should subdue Rick, Herschel and Dale (the latter because he's got a big mouth) and just take Randall out.  Randall listens to all this through the cracks in the barn siding until he sees that Carl has snuck in to stare at him. Randall asks for his help, promising food and supplies from his own camp ... but Shane hears him talking and bursts in.  He grabs Carl and drags him out of the barn, growling, "Quit tryin' to get yourself killed!"

Dale begins making the rounds in his quest to save Randall's life, tracking Darryl down out in one of the pastures.  He asks for Darryl's support since the younger man actually doesn't care one way or the other, but Darryl isn't having any of it, saying their group is broken.  He sneers that he knew  that Shane killed Otis when he came back carrying the dead man's gun.  Rick is smart enough to figure it out too but just decided that he didn't want to know - broken.

Lori finds Rick in one of the barns where he's tying a noose with which to string Randall up.  She tells him that she supports the decision to execute Randall if that's what Rick thinks is best.  She asks what went down in the last episode but Rick blows her off, saying that Shane won't be a problem anymore.  Out in the yard, Carol reaches out to Carl and he is disrespectful to her, calling her an idiot for believing that Sophia is in heaven.  She tells his parents that they better rein in their son; Rick tells Carl to apologize and make it right.

Dale's next attempt is with Herschel, trying to appeal to the veterinarian's pacificism.  Herschel says that whatever Rick decides is fine by him.  He's made too many mistakes lately to trust his own judgment.

Instead of finding Carol to apologize, Carl sneaks into Darryl's campsite (which is nastily festooned with animal carcasses and lots of buzzing flies) and steals a pistol out of the motorcycle saddlebag.  Then he traipses through the woods until he finds a zombie, stuck in the sticky mud by the creek.  As the zombie gets increasingly agitated, Carl throws rocks at it, getting bolder by the minute.  Dumbass Carl.

Dale even tries talking to Shane himself, saying that he wants to change his mind about Randall.  At least the old dude has convictions, I'll give him that.  Dale says that killing Randall will cause a fundamental change in their group.  Shane scoffs a bit at the gloom and doom and then says that if Dale can change everyone else's minds, he won't stand in his way.  But then when Randall kills one of them, the blood will be on Dale's hands.  "You're wrong about this, Dale," he says, not unkindly.

Glen stops by Beth's room to see how she's feeling in the wake of her half-hearted suicide attempt.  Herschel is in there and comes out to talk with Glen for a bit, asking him about his family.  After they talk a while, Herschel hands the younger man his grandfather's watch, saying that he thinks Glen is good for Maggie.  Glen is nearly speechless but stammers out a thank you.

The sun is almost down and Rick is resolute: Randall has got to die and Rick has got to be the one to do it, to prove to the group that he can protect them and not pussy out.

At the creek, Carl comes closer to the trapped zombie, teasing it.  He pulls out the gun but steps too close as the walker yanks one foot free and lunges at him.  Carl screams, panicked, flailing away.  He manages to get away from the zombie and runs off, panting.  The zombie lies in the mud, straining to free itself, watching its prey escape.

The group gathers in the living room of the farmhouse for more goddamn talking.  Rick wants to hear what everyone thinks.  To Dale's surprise, Glen thinks that Randall needs to die since he isn't one of them and they've lost too many already.  Maggie suggests that they keep him under guard but no one wants that job (give it to T-Dog, he's never doing anything anyway!) plus, as Darryl points out, he's another mouth to feed with winter coming on.  Suddenly the conversation turns away from IF they should kill Randall to HOW they're going to kill him which makes Dale simply furious.  "This is a young man's life and it deserves more than a five minute conversation!  You saved him, then he was tortured and now he's going to be executed because we can't think of what else to do with him!"  Carol pipes up that she doesn't want to be part of the decision-making.  Shut up, Carol.  Rick calls the vote and Dale makes one last plea, returning to his point that if they kill Randall, they lose their humanity and all semblance of civilization.  Finally, Andrea says that she's changed her mind and they should try to find another way.  Dale is grateful but no one else takes up the cause.  In tears, Dale asks if they're all going to watch too or just hide in their tents and pretend they're not slaughtering another human being.  He stumbles out of the room, pausing to put a hand on Darryl's shoulder: "You're right, this group is broken."

After dark, Rick, Shane and Darryl march Randall out to the barn where Herschel kept his pet zombies.  They blindfold him and he starts to cry.  Darryl forces him to his knees.  Rick asks if he has any final words. Randall: "Please, please don't."  Rick cocks the gun just as stupid Carl comes into the barn.  "Do it, Dad, do it!"  Rick staggers back, shoving his gun into its holster, staring appalled at his son.  He tells Darryl to take Randall away as Shane stomps off, righteous in his realization that Rick did indeed pussy out.  Rick takes Carl back to the others and announces that they'll be keeping Randall in custody for now.  Andrea springs up, happy, saying she'll go tell Dale.  Rick tells Lori that Carl wanted to watch them kill Randall and that he just couldn't do it.  She hugs him and tells him that it's okay.

Dale is patrolling in one of the pastures when he finds one of Herschel's cows, still barely alive but disembowled.  He hears a squishy noise behind him and turns - it's Carl's zombie, muddy but free.  It knocks him to the ground and he screams, fighting to keep it off him.  But while he's holding its gnashing jaws away from his throat, the zombie digs its fingers into his stomach, gutting him as surely as it did the cow.  Dale screams.

Darryl is the first one to get to him and he pulls the zombie away, killing it with one blow.  Everyone else runs out to the pasture but there is nothing anyone can do - Dale's intestines are spread across the grass.  It's horrible and he is suffering terribly.  Andrea kneels beside him, sobbing, begging someone to do something.  Carl comes up and recognizes the zombie.  He bursts into tears, his guilt overwhelming him.  Dale is gasping and whimpering, dying horribly.  Rick pulls out his gun and tries to end Dale's suffering, but once again he cannot shoot a living man.  (I notice that manly Shane doesn't step up either.)  It's Darryl, book-ending this episode with mercy this time, who gently takes the gun from Rick and presses it to Dale's forehead.  "Sorry, brother," he says as Dale stares into his eyes.  Bang.

Okay, good: killing a major character raises the stakes.  Unfortunately, Dale was the group's (often annoying) conscience ... now what are they going to do?

Previously on The Walking Dead / next time on The Walking Dead.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

More stuff I done looked at

I don't have enough to say about any of these three to merit standalone posts, but I'll pass these few thoughts along anyway:

Friends with Benefits - starring Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake as, well, friends with benefits.  I got this one for Mr. Mouse because he thinks Mila Kunis is super-cute (for the record, she is).  For a standard plot-line rom-com, this one was pretty entertaining.  Timberlake can apparently actually act; he and Kunis had good chemistry; it was surprisingly sexy (for not really showing anything); and I liked it when Mila's character took Justin's character on a tour of the "real" New York.  Subtract some points from JT's character apparently never having seen a flashmob before his first trip to NYC despite growing up in L.A.

Pig Perfect by Peter Kaminsky - a non-fiction book about Kaminsky's quest for the perfect country ham, from France to Georgia to the unimprovable Iberian hams of Spain.  Loaded with history, leavened with some science, sprinkled with some delicious sounding recipes and written in an accessible, conversational style.

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta - this raved-about book by the author of Election explores what happens to the people left behind after the Rapture.  Well, they don't know for sure if it was the Rapture - and wisely, Perrotta never tries to explain exactly what happened - but one day, all across the globe, millions of people just vanished into thin air, right in front of their families, friends and loved ones.  The Leftovers follows some of the denizens of a small town as they try to pick up the pieces: some just trying to get their lives back to normal, some just trying to live, some joining creepy cults.  The characterizations of these wounded remnants are finely drawn and Perrotta has a good handle on small town life.  The story just doesn't go anywhere or do much of anything - it's just an examination of these peoples' lives for a brief period of time - and I prefer my novels to be overloaded with plot.