Why We Want The Walking Dead To Come For Real


Several years ago I wrote a blog post that explored the American fascination with zombies.  I linked zombie entertainment (books, movies, games, dressing up like a zombie and rolling in the mud for charity, etc.) with the lack of control Americans felt due to the threat of international terrorism.  I argued that the fiction zombie apocalypse rose from the ashes of the World Trade Center, giving Americans back the sense of control they’d lost in the face of an enemy they couldn’t hope to fight.

Things have changed, since then.  I haven’t changed my mind about why the zombie apocalypse rose, but I have a new theory about why it has, if anything, gained steam.  People fly without fear, again.  They don’t think twice about attending crowded, high profile events.  Some Americans are still afraid of and hate Muslims, but they deal with that fear by being racist asshats.  Sure, there are homegrown enemies who are shooting people in schools, but white people are doing most of the shooting, so that’s less scary, and the answer to the problem is we need more guns, so there’s the solution, right there.

With Americans feeling safe to go out again, why does the zombie apocalypse roll on in popularity?  I’ve seen the comment made more than once recently that we secretly long for the zombie apocalypse to actually happen.  I originally dismissed the statement as a flippant, thoughtless remark made by people who will never experience living a poop pile life in a nation torn by war or marked by famine.  However, there is a lot of truth to the statement, and when I’m honest with myself, I wouldn’t mind a little zombie apocalypse, either.  My scholarly exploration of the idea that we want the zombie apocalypse to happen follows, and I’ll be making my points with examples from the AMC series, “The Walking Dead,” which returns tonight, and boy have we missed it.

We long for the zombie apocalypse because:

  1.  Money would mean nothing.  In the zombie apocalypse, we wouldn’t have to deal with rich bastards lording it over everybody.  We would all be driving nice cars we boosted and living in mansions we invaded.  No bills to pay, so it would be a financial clean slate for even the most indebted among us.  Congresswoman Deanna lives in a gated community because she held it through the zombie apocalypse, not because she kept her mortgage paid up.
  2. Everyone would be equal.  Would a lot of us had hung out with Daryl pre-zombie apocalypse?  No.  Daryl’s many rabid fans can argue this all they want, but it would take a serious lapse in judgment to be friends with pre-zombie apocalypse Daryl.  Open hearts be damned. Friendship with Daryl would have meant Merle coming over to grab your wife’s ass and steal your shit.  In the zombie apocalypse, everybody could be friends with Daryl or anyone else they took a shine to.
  3. Good jobs.  In the zombie apocalypse, there would be no more struggling to find a job that won’t kill your mind, body, and spirit.  Rick Grimes has plenty of jobs that are all about cracking skulls.  Everybody gets paid the same.
  4. Adventure.  No more years of drudgery, trying to save up for that week in Disneyland.  The zombie apocalypse is one big adventure. Carol had no life at all before the Walkers.  Look at her now.  She’s a gun-toting badass, and even her fucking cookies are scary.
  5. The family we all want.  Most of us would probably lose most of our families in the zombie apocalypse, but we’d get new ones.  Your zombie apocalypse family wouldn’t compare you to your handsome, smart brother with the pretty wife.  Your zombie apocalypse family would die for you.  T-Dog.  Enough said.

Let’s hope for an excellent season opener of “The Walking Dead,” this evening. It’s our cure for the modern world until the real zombie apocalypse comes along.

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The Scattershot Approach To Focus In Writing

HHallCover-1 (2)I wish I had more time to write.  I wish I didn’t have to brave the outside world to make my living.  Leaving the house is good for me, of course.  There is a lot to be said for staying active and having new experiences and meeting people.  But, oh, to have more time to write!

I would have more time and energy to devote to writing if I made more money at it.  I moan about that a lot.  It’s hard for Indie authors to get attention and sales. My brilliant friend, the writer and ebook producer JW Manus,  brought up the subject of focus.  She pointed out that a game plan is always a good idea. She asked what I want the focus of my writing to be.  I immediately threw up my hands in despair because…well, haha, I have no focus.  I write what I want to write.  My first short story collection was weird tales about yard sales and auctions.  My second short story collection was about New Yorkers dealing with the zombie apocalypse.  My third work was my first novel, and it’s about a lesbian searching for beer in the zombie apocalypse.  I suppose those two books were the beginnings of focus, because they are zombie books, but the works are very different from each other, and neither one of them really fits seamlessly into the zombie genre.  There’s a monkey in ZOMBIES TAKE MANHATTAN!, and a bearded lady.  There aren’t a lot of guns or soldiers. There isn’t a happy ending.  The novel, HAVEN HALL,  is even more out there, minus exotic pets and sideshow performers.  The main character is a lesbian, and I do believe I’ve alienated a lot of zombie readers in that one bold stroke.  I’m afraid that the best response some people will have is that they’ll feel that they won’t be able to relate to a lesbian, in spite of the fact that gay people read about straight people all of the time, and they relate just fine. 

At least there are zombies in both the short story collection and the novel, and I was prepared to present those zombies to my friend as evidence of focus.  I am focused!  I write about zombies! Then, I looked at my works in progress… I’m tired of zombies, so I’m working on a collection of Depression-era sideshow stories and a novel about an out-of-work actor and his girlfriend fighting monsters in modern Manhattan.  If focus is building an audience that likes a particular genre, or even an audience of a particular gender or sexual orientation, I’m not anywhere close to the boat.  I’m out of the boat and swimming away from it, holding up both my middle fingers in spite of risk of drowning.

Rather than deal with the focus issue (because I obviously have none), I came home from work last night and snooped around the internet, trying to see if anyone is talking about me.  (Don’t look at me that way.  Don’t pretend you haven’t Googled yourself.  I might Google myself more often than you Google yourself, but you’ve Googled yourself.) The result of my snooping is that I now know for certain that a stranger, at least one stranger, is reading my novel, HAVEN HALL!   I’m really excited about it.  I’m always excited when someone I don’t know reads my work. 

Why am I so excited about readers I don’t know?  Well, part of it is that I’m not as invisible as I feel sometimes on the internet.  I’m in the middle of a big city New Year’s Eve crowd and I’m too short for readers to see me.  I don’t have the marketing savvy or power of a publishing house behind me.  I’m an Indie author.  Hear me mew.  A reader who isn’t a friend or a family member means that someone stumbled on me, somehow.  I did something small but right in the jungles of Facebook and Twitter and Amazon.

The even bigger excitement of having someone I don’t know read my work has to do with why I love reading.  I grew up in a small town.  My family was not from there, and we always felt a little like outsiders, even after we’d been in town for twenty years.  My family also wasn’t particularly happy.  And, I was different.  I was socially awkward and not quite like most other girls, even before I hit adolescence.  Reading saved me more than once.  Books where I could relate to characters or books with characters who were having adventures I wanted to have made me feel not so alone.  To me, books are powerful things.  When times were good, reading made life even better. On top of everything great that was happening to me, I was also being transported by a book.

When someone I don’t know reads my book, my chances of making someone feel the way I feel when I read something I love have increased.  The more people I have reading my books, the more chance I have of being like those authors who have so enhanced my life.  I want to make people love reading, and I want them to find something in my books that strikes a chord with them.  It’s not pin-point focus, but it’s focus, all the same.

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Who Will Die In The Walking Dead’s Season Five Mid-season Finale?

walker xmasThere are two more episodes of The Walking Dead before the horrible mid-season dry spell begins.  A bright spot is that the mid-season finale always offers us cliffhanging suspense to agonize over while our families agonize over Christmas.  There are plenty of people who will wander through the holidays wailing, “Why didn’t they spend more time on Daryl and less on people I don’t care about.  Whhhyyyyy!?!” 

Because every season of The Walking Dead is actually two seasons and because the show likes to get their audience all riled up, something big is going to happen.


Eugene might very well die.  As much as the show has enjoyed him and his mullet, Eugene doesn’t have anything to offer since he’s confessed that his zombie cure was self-preserving fiction.  He was peeping Tom comic relief, and that only goes so far.  He’s a coward, a liar, and a saboteur.  With his face beaten in and a sea of walkers on the way, Eugene is baggage nobody wants.

Actually, Eugene’s entire group might die.  Rosita and Abraham are nothing more than extra hands if they don’t have a Blue Brother’s Mission From God to drag people along on.  Yes, they are capable.  Yes, they are capable of brutality.  So is everybody else on the show, and silly hair isn’t a Walker Apocalypse Survival Essential.  Abraham, I’m talking to you, now.

If Abraham, Rosita, and Eugene all die (Tara could go with them as a bonus), we might not lose a main character.  Three or four deaths might slake the show’s thirst for character blood, but Main Character Deaths are where the shock value lies, and we haven’t lost a main character since Hershel (Bob didn’t count).


Maggie and Glen are with Eugene’s group, but I suspect they will be the only ones to escape the Walker herd and return to Rick’s group.  I suspect this just ’cause I do.  The show isn’t ready to lose them, and it certainly won’t lose both of them because there would be endless potential for drama in losing one of them.

Beth is at the top of the Main Characters Most Likely To Die list.  Beth would be pretty easy to lose.  Her own sister Maggie has barely noticed that Beth isn’t around.  When she’s not on camera, I forget she’s on the show.  I assume she has fans, but I suspect that most of them are Amish girls.  Beth might die.  It would be a way of killing off a main character while upsetting only Amish girls who aren’t supposed to be watching the show, anyway.

Carol is my heartbreaker pick for Main Character Most Likely To Die.  We’ve had quite a lot of Carol, lately.  Carol has killed countless walkers, many Termites, and three members of her own group.  She has been a Mom, a “Don’t Call Me Mom,” a battered wife, a teacher, a lone wolf, a loose cannon member of the group, a valuable member of the group, an unrepentant murderer, a survivor of childhood abuse, the cougar who can take Daryl without his fans feeling threatened, and the show’s version of Aliens Ellen Ripley.  I have friends who strongly disagree, but I think Carol has nothing left to do but take a bow. 

In any event, there are only two episodes left in 2014, and I think somebody is gonna die.  Feel free to share your own predictions right here. 

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American Horror Story Freak Show and Freaks Past

American Horror Story: Freak Show has rekindled an American interest in the old tradition of freak shows.  Some of us have been there all along.  I’ve been pissed off most of my life that I missed out on seeing the last of America’s traveling sideshows.  I’ve always felt like it was a train I missed by seconds.  The truth is that I missed the heyday of the sideshow by decades.  They started to fade away during the 1940s, when America decided it was rude to stare at people who were different.  The appearance of television sets in most American homes finished their demise.  Nobody had to leave home to be entertained.

American Horror Story: Freak Show gives a nod to sideshows past with their cast of characters.  I’d like to introduce you to the old stars who inspired the creators of the show.

Even Peters plays Jimmy Darling, a young man with hands like lobster claws.  The most famous Lobster Boy was Grady Stiles.  Grady came from a long line of lobster people.  He was famous and well-liked, but his family claimed he was an abusive drunk. His wife paid a carnival geek to shoot him in the head in 1992.


Sarah Paulson plays the two-headed girl,  Bette and Dot.  While Sarah’s characters are conjoined by trickery, the most famous female Siamese twins were Daisy and Violet Hilton.  Their parents sold them to a sideshow when they were children, but they eventually became famous vaudeville performers, playing instruments and singing. When sideshows were no longer in fashion, the twins were lured to Charlotte, NC to be an attraction for the re-release of the infamous Tod Browning film, FREAKS.  The promoter didn’t pay them, and they ended up stranded, working in a local Kroger grocery story, checking and bagging groceries until they died of Hong Kong flu in 1969.


The girls who most resemble Bette and Dot are Abby and Brittany Hensel.  These girls have never performed in sideshows and lead normal lives. 


Ben Woolf’s Meep The Geek was murdered in jail last week.  His character was a nod to the performer Koko The Bird Girl.  She pretended to be a bird.  She was in the movie Freaks.  Like Meep, she was weird.  


There are several pinheads on the show.  People with microcephalus often performed in old sideshows.  They often had diminished capacity and were quite childlike.  The most famous pinhead was Schlitzi.  He loved performing with his friends. 


Jyoti Amge is the world’s smallest living woman.  Lucia Zarate was another tiny sideshow star. She died of exposure when the train she was riding stalled in a snow storm in 1890.


Mat Fraser as Paul The Illustrated Seal is famous now, but Sealo was the original Seal Boy, performing in many sideshows and at Coney Island.


Rose Siggens is Legless Suzy on American Horror Story.  Like Mat, she isn’t a special effect.  The most famous half girl to grace the sideshow was Jeanie Tomaini.  She and her giant husband, Al, were founding members of the Gibtown sideshow community in Florida.


It’s nice to see a renewed interest in the sideshow.  Thanks to people who didn’t let it die, like James Taylor of SHOCKED AND AMAZED, stories of the sideshow enduredThe Coney Island Circus Sideshow is alive and well, as is the Venice Beach Freakshow.   Times may change, but the freak show doesn’t.


Be sure to check out my ebooks!  ZOMBIES TAKE MANHATTAN! features two stories with a bearded lady.  PICKERS AND PICKLED PUNKS takes a look at yard sales and what you may find there…including a two-headed girl. 

Zombies Take Manhattan DRAFT v4

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Little Angels: A Freak Show Story

The following story was inspired by the 1944 Ringling Brothers circus tent fire in Hartford.  The body of one young girl went unclaimed and unidentified, although her face was virtually undamaged.  She was called, for lack of a better name, Little Miss 1565, and all claims of positive identification remain disputed to this day.

Happy Halloween, and enjoy American Horror Story: Freak Show!

Little Angels

“You see anybody pokin’ around, lookin’ for her?” Maizie kept her voice low.

The little man shook his head and waddled across the floor. He was out of breath. The three steps up to the wagon from the ground were a climb, for him.

“Well? Was there anybody?” Maizie demanded.

He realized she hadn’t looked at him since he’d come into the wagon. She hadn’t seen him shake his head. “No. Nobody looking.”  Rascal put his short, stubby fingers beside Maizie’s bottom on the bunk mattress. He pulled himself up onto his tiptoes and craned his neck to see around her back.  “Too young to be a runaway. Hell, too young to go places alone.” He settled back onto the soles of his shoes and waddled to the head of the bunk to face Maizie. “We need to tell somebody. We can’t leave town with her in this wagon. They’ll send us to Sing Sing.”

“We ain’t doin’ a thing but takin’ care of this child nobody wants. We ain’t done nothin’ wrong.” Maizie hadn’t looked away from the bunk, not once. She leaned forward and put the back of her hand on the little girl’s forehead. Satisfied with what she felt, she gently smoothed the child’s bangs back down.

The wagon lurched into motion. Rascal was sent staggering. He grabbed Maizie’s arm with his thick, short hands. It was the first time he’d touched her. He didn’t let go, even after his feet were steady on the plank floor. The bare skin below her sleeve was soft, but he could feel muscles and bone, too. She had to be strong, a woman on her own with the carnival. She didn’t have a man, wasn’t part of a performing family.

“Too late to tell anybody, now. We’re on our way to Albany,” Maizie said.

She still wasn’t looking at him, but she didn’t pull her arm away, either. Rascal moved his fingers a little, stroking her. He knew it was bold and too familiar, but it was obviously a night to take chances.

“Rascal,” Maizie leaned anxiously over the girl, “do you think she’s too pale? I think she might be too pale.” She did pull away, then. She put both her hands on the child’s cheeks. She ran her thumbs over the delicate, closed eyelids.

Rascal swallowed his disappointment and stretched up again to look. The child surely was pale. The vibration of the moving wagon blurred Rascal’s vision. The girl’s drawn face and her corn silk hair nearly disappeared against the background of the white pillow.

“She surely is pale,” Rascal admitted.

“Like an angel,” Maizie breathed. “She’s pale the way angels are pale.”

“Just like an angel,” Rascal agreed. He wondered if he could steal some formaldehyde from Wesley’s pickled punk jars. If he could keep the girl from rotting, maybe Maizie could keep her.

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AMC’s Freakshow Goes To Gibtown! (Gibsonton, FL)


I’m jealous that “Freakshow” went to Gibtown. I wish I could have lived in Gibsonton, Florida in the 1940s and ’50s.  Half girl Jeannie Tomani and her giant husband Al ran the Giant’s Fishing Camp, which was a trailer park and restaurant.  Percilla the Monkey Girl and her husband Emmit the Alligator Man spent summers there.  The famous Hilton Sisters (Siamese twins) ran a fruit stand.  Called “Gibtown’ by residents, the small Florida town has been winter quarters for circuses and sideshows since the 1930s.  With carnivals and circuses in decline, Gibtown is a shadow of its former self, but some glimmers remain.

Grady Stiles III meets the Venice Beach Freakshow at the airport to start them on their tour of Gibtown. Grady has been on the show before, and he always presents himself as a kind, intelligent man.  Grady is part of the famed sideshow Lobster family, and he seems to be a permanent resident of Gibtown. He grew up there, his father was murdered there, and we can only assume that he still lives there.

Ward Hall still winters in Gibtown.  Mr. Hall is in his 80s, and is called “The King Of The Sideshow.” He has been in the business for 70 years.  Ward and his partner, C. M. Christ, meet the “Freakshow” crew at a bar and agree to put on a joint performance with the Venice Beach Freakshow. I wish there had been more Ward in these episodes.  The man must have stories for days and days.  He has worked with so many of the greats.  He was famous, for a time, for his legal problems over displaying human remains (his Pickled Punk show).  Ward has seen it all, done it all, and Ward’s sexual orientation alone has to make for some fascinating tales.  Ward didn’t exactly grow up in the more tolerant times that we currently enjoy.  Hats off to Ward Hall!  There’s a new book out about Ward.  I hope a digital version comes out, soon.

The show goes off without a hitch, in spite of torrential rains and a flooded tent.  These people are troopers.  Nothing stops them.  The Amazing Ali even breathes fire, thanks to some fast instruction from sideshow great Red Stuart.  Hats off to Ali too, for wanting to do more in the show than exhibit herself.

The companion episode of the evening follows Asia Ray in her quest for her own apartment.  She hunts with the help of friends.  It’s evident that Asia and her friends are growing apart, and the growing gulf becomes even more evident when Morgue joins the group.  Morgue are the girls are oil and water, and he answers their questions about his relationship with Asia with a terse, “None of your business.”  Incidentally, lots of people want to know if Morgue and Asia are dating.  I’ll tell you right now…I don’t know.

Giant George Bell is also showed at his home in Virginia.  George has decided to leave his job with the prison system and his girlfriend to join the Freakshow full time.  I wish George tons of luck and happiness. 

Back in Gibtown, Todd Ray and his family accompany Grady Stiles on his first visit to his father’s grave.  Grady Stiles Jr. was sideshow royalty. He spent his life onstage, displaying his lobster claw hands and tiny, malformed legs. He was The Lobster Boy, and he was murdered in 1992 in Gibtown by a sideshow geek.  Grady’s ex-wife and stepson were both convinced of the conspiracy that resulted in Grady Stiles Jr. dying with three bullets in his head.  Grady III sticks with the family defense, which is that his mother and brother never intended for his father to be killed.  Their hope was that some minor violence and intimidation would curb Grady Jr.’s drunken, abusive behavior, but the geek went too far.  Grady Stiles Jr. apparently drank to excess and beat his family with his lobster claw hands.  He actually got away with murder in 1978. He was convicted of the murder of his oldest daughter’s fiance on the eve of the wedding.  In spite of confessing in court, Stiles was given probation because the Pennsylvania penal system wasn’t equipped to deal with an inmate with ectrodactyly.  It’s hard to dismiss the family’s stories of his violent behavior, and Grady III obviously doesn’t care for his father to this day.  He thanks his dead father for teaching him what kind of man he should not be.  Here’s what is considered to be the definitive book on the Lobster Boy murder, if you are interested.  It’s the Kindle edition, but used paperback copies are also available. 

I loved the little taste of the past in these two episodes of “Freakshow.”  I’ve long had an interest in the golden days of the American sideshow.  Todd Ray obviously loves the old days of the sideshow. I hope that other fans of the show also develop an interest in sideshow history.  There are no better stories in the world. 


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Freakshow on AMC- Tattoos and The Shock Of A Lifetime


A Jersey City tattoo artist put Coney Island’s Luna Park on my left bicep a number of years ago.  Before that, I let a hairy man with jewelry stuck all over his bare chest stick a big needle through my earlobe on the street at Little Italy’s Feast Of San Gennaro.  So, I have a little body modification, but nothing outrageous.  I can in no way compete with Creature on AMC’s Freakshow. 

Creature has fallen on hard times.  He can’t find a place to live.  Gentle soul though he is, it’s still understandable that most apartment complexes wouldn’t welcome Creature as a tenant.  If his appearance gave some old lady a heart attack, lawsuits would fly.  Creature has over a hundred piercings in his face, and he is highly tattooed.  Tattoos and body modification are so common now that only the over-the-top body canvases are going to make it in the sideshow business.  Although Creature can’t find a home, he certainly has job security.  When I was a kid, tattoos were very uncommon.  I only saw them on a few military men.  Now it seems like every 18 year old kid longs for a neck tattoo, and a lot of them go out and get them.  I feel a little iffy about this episode of “Freakshow” because so many kids now have permanent reminders of the time they went to a mall tattoo shop with their buddies and picked some art off the wall.  I wish that the show had talked a little about the permanence of a tattoo, and the fact that, because it is going to be forever, it should have meaning. 

The first episode of “Freakshow” tonight was dedicated to those men and women who just don’t want to look like anyone else.  Todd Ray has a tattoo event featuring Brian Tagalong, an artist who tattoos with his feet because he doesn’t have arms.  We see Brian giving a couple of tattoos during the show, but we never see the finished products, which leaves us understandably wondering if Brian is any good.  I hope he is.  It would be terrible if he was, well, terrible.  Also present is Matt Gone, who is tattooed inside and out.  The inside of his mouth is tattooed.  His eyeballs are tattooed. His butthole is tattooed.  The palms of his hands aren’t tattooed, which reminds me of the time I saw the late Michael Wilson at the Coney Island Sideshow.  He’d tried to get the palms of his hands tattooed several times, and the result was blurry and faded. Matt obviously wants to avoid that mess.  Featured at the very end of the program is Maria Jose, the Vampire Woman of Mexico.  Maria Jose is just as interesting as any of the special guests on this episode, if not more interesting, and I wish there had been something beyond a “Tada!  Here she is for five seconds!” at the end.  You can learn a little about her here. 

The next episode of the evening focuses on Asia’s desire to step up her act with higher voltage.  Asia sits in an electric chair and lights a torch with her tongue, but she’d like to do something more dangerous.  Todd does what any father would do for his little girl…he contacts a woman with a Tesla coil.  Miss Electra is a cool lady with a hot act.  She shoots lightning from her hands.  She is absolutely not interested in giving her act to Asia.  She does break down after Asia contacts her personally, and she lends Asia her baby Tesla coil so Asia can light up a neon tube.  Asia is starting to look like she’s Morgue’s little sister, and that bothers me.  I’d far rather she be herself.

Best thing about this episode…the few minutes we spend with the Amazing Ali while she recovers from hip replacement surgery.  I’m genuinely fond of Ali and her husband, Matt McCarthy.  They lend a spark to the show that all of the Tesla coils in the world can’t provide.

Apparently the next episodes of the show are set in Gibtown, Florida.  Gibsonton was the winter home of the old-time carnies.  I.  Cannot.  WAIT!

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Freakshow, Season Two Premiere

fs-cast-760Life isn’t always a bed of roses at the Venice Beach Freakshow.  Sometimes it’s a bed of nails.  The second season of “Freakshow” debuted on AMC Tuesday night with two new dramatic episodes.  Some of the drama felt a little manufactured, but some of it was very real.

Todd Ray’s seaside business is booming like never before.  The show has gone dark while it expands into the space next door.  Ray has added a bearded lady to his roster of performers and is holding auditions for a hot, fresh act to beef up the re-opening his freakshow.  Prospective new cast members include performers who had to have been on Ray’s radar long before now, like a Little Person who is smaller than the Amazing Ali, in addition to people who are merely weird.

The drama begins.  Dangerous stunt performer Morgue thinks a performer who does painful things to himself is simply doing “Jackass”-type stunts.  Pretty Asia Ray thinks that a Snake Lady is relying solely on sex to sell her act. Ali voices a fear that patrons will want their pictures made with the smaller performer, leaving her out in the cold.  Ali’s comment hits the nail on the head.  These new performers ARE similar to the old performers, although the old performers certainly have style and skills.  So I wasn’t particularly bothered by the disconnect between the “We Are Family” attitude of the show and the jealousy and fear the performers displayed in the form of being hypercritical of the auditioning hopefuls.  They are in show business, where there is little job security.  While it’s highly unlikely that any of the “Freakshow” family will lose their jobs, they could certainly be pushed off of center stage by new flavors of the month.

The Snake Lady is Todd’s pick for new cast member, and his daughter, Asia, is not happy.  In addition to having a goofy world view and a trampy act, the Snake Lady doesn’t seem to be very good with her own snake.  The snake bites her.  She doesn’t seem to care when the snake falls and bumps its head on a metal railing.  In spite of Asia’s objections, the Snake Lady isn’t off the mark, to me.  I imagine she is fairly representative of the Snake Lady breed.  She isn’t a scientist.  She isn’t an animal rights advocate.  Her job is to be a barely clad woman who gyrates around with a phallic snake, and that’s what she does.  Throughout the history of the sideshow, Snake Ladies have always been about audiences seeing something sexual without having to take the potentially embarrassing or difficult step of actually paying to see something sexual.  Wife won’t let you see the cooch show?  There’s always the Snake Lady.  It’s a dated concept, these days, and every Snake Lady I’ve seen has pretty much done the same thing, but the Snake Lady at the Venice Beach Sideshow is doing what she was hired to do.  I’m sure this tension between Asia and the Snake Lady will play out in future episodes, however.

The real drama of the first two episodes of the second season hits when Ali is forced to undergo hip replacement surgery.  Little People often have orthopedic problems, and Ali has bad hips that have deteriorated to the point where she is in constant pain.  With the support of her mother, her Freakshow family, and her husband, Matt McCarthy, Ali sails through her surgery. 

Last season, Ali and Matt were married on the show in an re-enactment of Tom Thumb’s famous wedding.  Tom Thumb’s marriage to Lavinia Warren was possibly a publicity stunt drummed up by P.T. Barnum, but Ali Chapman’s marriage is certainly real, and her husband’s fear for her and devotion to her is very touching.  Ali and Matt are the stars of these first two episodes, even eclipsing Boobzilla, who has turned the minus of having extremely large breasts into a can crushing plus, and Garry Stretch, who has a condition that allows him to cover his mouth with the skin of his neck. 

I’m looking forward to future episodes.  Long live the Venice Beach Freakshow!


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The Walking Dead, Season Four Finale Predictions

twd4Spring is here. In spite of a terrible winter for most of the country, we’ll soon be seeing flowers, and the weedy mess I call a lawn is already looking shaggy.  The really bad news is that we’ll have to face the pollen and the lawnmowers without television zombies to bolster us up.  The season four finale of “The Walking Dead” airs next week.

Season four has not been without its problems. The show lingered too long over the question of whether the Governor was capable of regaining his heart and mind when the answer was, “Nah, of course not, he’s a crazy bastard.”  The show told us that the prison had become a wonderful, civilized community, but it never showed us that, and it was hard to care about the cardboard cutout characters who were rapidly introduced so they could be just as rapidly killed off.  There was a weird storyline about a little girl who liked zombies better than she liked people, and we were supposed to believe that because…well, just because we were supposed to believe that.  I can’t think of one reason why a traumatized little girl would throw her hat in with nasty, cannibalistic, animated corpses, and the show’s explanation for it (“she’s messed up”) just wasn’t good enough.  When Carol prepared to shoot the dangerous little zombie maker and told Lizzie to “look at the flowers” for comfort, I thought, “Hell, find her a zombie to look at.  That girl isn’t into flowers.”  It was all very manufactured drama, and I didn’t enjoy it.

I did enjoy a lot of the regulars this season, and I’m worried about some of them.  The season finale promises at least one big death.  So, who will it be?

#5     Beth.  When we last saw Beth, she was being whisked away in a mysterious car.  I’m fine with Beth dying, which is why I think she might not.  Not heart wrenching enough.  However, it would give the show an easy main character to kill off, because she’s barely a character, at all.

#4     Carol.  I’m also fine with Carol dying.  There isn’t a lot more to do with that character now that she’s hit the zenith of fake child-killing drama.  I’ve heard that Melissa McBride’s contract was renewed, but that might be false information, released by the show to trick us.  The honest truth is there isn’t much left for Carol to do.

#3     Glenn and/or Maggie.  Big drama would result from the death of half of Glenn and Maggie, not so much from both of them dying.  Glen might be in trouble, but Maggie’s too hot to for the show to lose her.  I hope that neither one of the dies.  Watching one of them mourn would be so boring that I’m crying just thinking about it.

#2     Michonne.  I’d hate to see her go, but they are making her too sympathetic.  She’s Carl’s best buddy.  His rediscovered just plain kid-ishness will disappear if Michonne dies, leaving plenty of drama fodder for the show. She’s almost my number one pick to die.

#1     My number one pick to die is Rick.  It’s a weird thing to say.  Rick is really the main character, and he’s been with us from the first moment of the show.  However, there has been a lot of Carl growing up and preparing to take the mantle of leader.  Rick isn’t a world-saver.  Rick’s a family-saver.  If everyone decides to trot off to Washington with Eugene to deliver the Walker Cure, there isn’t much place for Rick in that.

Predictions?  Anyone?       


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The Walking Dead And The Luxury Of The Helpless, Mid-season Finale, Season 4

twd4Well, The Governor is dead.  I would ask for a show of hands to see who is happy, but the entire country would cease to function, for a moment.  The Governor died as he lived, nonsensically, and he went out in a typical blaze of WTF Is The Governor Doing? 

The Governor rallied his band of mostly peaceful troops to take the prison from Rick and the gang.  “We are better than them, we deserve it!” was basically their battle cry.  The Governor had hostages to use as bargaining chips…Hershel and Michonne.  Now, who is the better bargaining chip when dealing with Rick’s group?  A beloved father figure to all?  A helpless, maimed old man?  Or some tough sword chick everybody barely knows?  Of course the real bargaining chip was Hershel, and The Governor beheaded him, touching off a bloodbath and the destruction of any usefulness the prison  had to his group.  Go Governor.  Really.  Go.

The episode was gripping, however, and a more than worthy mid-season finale.  The end of the show found the survivors scattered to the winds, with little hope of regrouping, that we know of.  Baby Judith appears to have become Walker chow, and that makes total sense.  Judith was as much a luxury as Hershel, with no place outside of the relatively safe (until the Governor showed up with a tank) prison walls.  The show would have become about keeping Judith quiet and Hershel hobbling, if they’d continued on in the storyline.  In spite of the fact that Judith was little more than a prop in the show, the idea of her being eaten and the impact her empty car seat had on Rick and Carl were very ooky, and I applaud the writers and the actors for freaking me out.   However, I do expect Judith to reappear, at some point, fat and gurgling.  

I’m thrilled that we are finally leaving the prison, although I had just started to enjoy it.  I’m thrilled that The Governor is gone and we won’t have to worry about his crazy ass, anymore.  I’m excited for the last half of the season.  Can we just skip Christmas and move on into February? 

Be sure to check out my zombie efiction!  It’s going to be a long winter.  You’ll need a snack until the show returns. 

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