This Is An Emergency Broadcast…

August 27, 2011 by  
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Two days ago, Mike Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York City, issued a press release concerning the impending storm, Hurricane Irene.  This is the first time in the history of the city that individuals are being pre-emptively evacuated from low-lying areas.  This is also the first time the largest rapid transportation system in the world will be shut down in advance of a natural disaster.

In reading the Mayor’s press release, I thought,  “What if it wasn’t Mother Nature, but another type of disaster?”  Here’s what that release may look like:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PR- 307-11
August 25, 2011

MAYOR BLOOMBERG UPDATES NEW YORKERS ON CITY PREPARATIONS FOR THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE AND STEPS NEW YORKERS SHOULD TAKE TO PREPARE

The following are Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s remarks as delivered this evening at City Hall:

“Good afternoon. I wanted to bring New Yorkers up to date on the City’s ongoing preparations concerning the zombie apocalypse.

“As I’m sure you all know, zombies remain on course to reach the coast of North Carolina early on Saturday. That will make it the first zombie outbreak to strike the East Coast in seven years, and the first to hit anywhere in the United States since the zombie outbreak in Texas in 2008.

“The Office of Emergency Management is now predicting that New Yorkers will begin to feel the effects of zombies in the early hours of Sunday morning, and based on the latest forecast it will be a severe outbreak. Let me remind you that this kind of forecast is very imprecise, and we’re talking about something that is a long time in apocalyptic terms. So what we have to do is assume the worst, prepare for that, and hope for the best.

“The zombies exact course, strength and time of arrival remain difficult to be predicted with precision because this is a very large and also very slow moving zombie outbreak. However, as has widely been reported, the zombie outbreak cone – that is the area that might be impacted by zombies – has shifted west over the course of the day. That means that instead of going across the eastern portion of Long Island it now appears that it will reach our area closer to eastern Queens.

“We don’t know yet whether that will happen, but obviously we have to be prepared. That’s why today we announced that we activated the Command Center at the City’s Office of Emergency Management and put significant elements of our Zombie Apocalypse Plan into effect.

“Now we are taking some additional steps. And before I tell you about these, let me just stress whenever the City has faced a difficult, tough situation, New Yorkers have always shown courage, compassion, presence of mind, and have been innovative in dealing with whatever is thrown at them. And I have confidence that they will do that again.

“Our published Zombie Apocalypse Plan – available at nyc.gov – systematically addresses what to do to prepare for a zombie outbreak, and what to do when we’re hit by one, and what to do to recover from a zombie attack once it has passed. Right now, we are still largely in the preparation stage, although we’re also taking some concrete steps tonight consistent with our Zombie Apocalypse Plan that is comprehensive and that we have drilled with and practiced with all participating agencies over the years.

“Our first obligation I want to talk about is to protect the most vulnerable New Yorkers – hospital patients; those in nursing homes and homes for aged; and also New Yorkers who because of age or infirmity are homebound.

“Earlier today, I mentioned the low-lying areas of our city that are most at risk for flooding and other damage from a zombie outbreak and have been designated as Zone A low-lying areas in our Zombie Apocalypse Plan. These Zone A low-lying areas include Coney Island and Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn, Far Rockaway and Broad Channel in Queens, South Beach, Midland Beach, and other low-lying areas on Staten Island, and Battery Park City in Manhattan.

“Included in these Zone A low-lying areas there are five hospitals. These hospitals are now in the process of reducing their patient caseload in order to be ready for any increased emergency care that might arise. They are, for example, cancelling and re-scheduling elective surgeries.

“In addition, tonight Coney Island Hospital will, under the direction of State health authorities, begin placing patients in vacant beds in other hospitals in other parts of the city.

“We’re also notifying the other hospitals in these Zone A low-lying areas, as well as nursing homes and senior centers in these low-lying Zone A areas that they must – I repeat the word must – evacuate beginning tomorrow and complete the process by 8:00 PM tomorrow night, unless they get permission to stay in place based on the ability of the particular facility to keep operating during zombie outbreak conditions. If any of these facilities need help moving patients, we’ll be able to provide it.

“That decision – not to evacuate – should they want to make it, will have to be made in conjunction with City Health Commissioner Tom Farley and his staff, and in consultation with the State Department of Health. As many of you know, Dr. Farley is a veteran of zombie outbreaks in New Orleans where he headed community health services at Tulane University, and Dr. Farley will draw on a wealth of experience that he has in making those decisions.

“So let me just repeat that one more time – seniors homes and nursing homes and these hospitals must evacuate unless in conjunction with Tom Farley and the State Health Commissioner determine that – because of the particular facility’s location, their ability for backup power, access to them – that it is permissible for them to not evacuate.

“We expect the weather, incidentally, on Friday, tomorrow, to be very good, and that is certainly going to help everybody in carrying out this process in a safe and orderly fashion. Let me repeat, what we’re trying to do is to take precautions for the most vulnerable. And as we get closer to the actual arrival of the zombie outbreak, for the general public we can decide what is appropriate.

“However, among the general public living at home there are homebound people living in all of these Zone A low-lying areas. If you have a homebound relative or acquaintance in these low-lying areas, I strongly urge you to take some steps now to move them to a safer location – in your own home, or in the home of another relative or friend. That will be the best course of action for all involved, and we’re confident that in most cases that is what people will do. New Yorkers are big-hearted people, and always come through when the chips are down. And anyone who intends to use Access-a-Ride to temporarily leave their homes until the storm passes would be well advised to do that tomorrow, Friday, because capacity to do it on Saturday is limited by the number of Access-A-Ride vehicles.

“If you want to go to a shelter, the shelters will be open by 4:00 PM tomorrow afternoon. The staffs will start opening them early in the morning and work all day to make sure that they are ready to take anybody that needs shelter tomorrow night from 4:00 PM on.

“As regards to the general public, we will make a decision about whether to order a mandatory evacuation of Zone A low-lying areas by 8:00 AM Saturday, the day after tomorrow. However, we recommend that people start going to alternative locations if they have them because of potential traffic jams and mass transit limitations on Saturday that Jay Walder is going to discuss in a couple of minutes. So if you live in one of these communities and have a relative or friend you can stay with in a safer, less vulnerable areas, you should think about arranging to stay there until the storm passes.

“Let me say something about outdoor activities planned in the city. This weekend, more than 300 outdoor activities – street fairs, block parties, and so forth – have been planned. These activities, unfortunately, will have to be curtailed throughout the entire city, not just in the Zone A areas as we want to make sure that streets are available for emergency vehicles and buses throughout the entire city that may be needed in evacuation plans. We are revoking – and I have just signed an Executive Order to do so – all permits for events to take place in the city on Sunday, and in low-lying Zone A areas on Saturday as well. If you are not in a Zone A low-lying area, you can have your activity continue on Saturday, but we have amended the permits that require you to stop serving the public by 2:00 PM so you can use the rest of the afternoon to clean up.

“The Mayor’s Office of Citywide Events is in the process of contacting every organization holding a permitted street fair, block party, or similar outdoor event this weekend about these changes, and you will obviously have some information out about the Dave Matthews concert that is supposed to take place both Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and a myriad other events.

“Because of the zombies that will accompany the outbreak, we are also urging all New Yorkers for their own safety to stay out of parks where the zombies will increase the danger of down trees and limbs. And incidentally, it’s a good idea to stay out of your own backyard if you have zombies there.

“Before taking questions, let me once again stress some other precautions that City people should take. First, find out if you live in one of the Zone A areas, the low-lying areas that we’ve talking about. You can do this simply by going on the City’s website, nyc.gov and typing in your address, or by calling 311 and giving your address to the call-taker and they’ll tell you right away whether you are in one of these areas.

“And second, New Yorkers should prepare themselves by stocking up on some basic supplies and making what’s called a ‘Go Bag,’ a bag that you could take with you at a moment’s notice if you have to leave home, and it should include things like drinking water, a first-aid kit, a flashlight, any important medications that you take, essential documents, such as passports or other forms of ID, and an extra set of car keys and house keys.

“I should point out that Janet Napolitano from Homeland Security called to offer any assistance that she could. Elizabeth Glazer from the Governor’s Cabinet, who has been involved in all of the meetings – and we’ve been working well with the Governor’s Office keeping them posted on what we’re doing here – and we will continue that process to reach out to elected officials and other government entities, both in the city and the surrounding areas, as well as at the State level.”

Tiger Mother Effectiveness During a Zombie Outbreak

February 13, 2011 by  
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In an article for Wired Magazine’s Geekdad Blog, I detail how the parenting techniques described in Amy Chua’s book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, can not only help develop a child into an exceptional student, but also turn them into a disciplined zombie combatant.  In the course of the article, I describe how math skills can be made relevant to the ordinary zombie fighter and present two common scenarios that occur during an outbreak of flesh-eating corpses.

Below are the scenarios, as well as the mathematical and reality-based solutions:

Scenario 1:

You are being pursued by a zombie. The corpse’s pace averages 23 minutes/mile. You can run an 11-minute mile. If you run 7.5 miles, with two five-minute breaks, how long before you encounter a zombie again?

Mathematical Solution: At an 11min/mile pace, you can cover the 7.5 mile distance in 92.5 minutes, including the two 5-minute breaks.  The pursuing zombie can cover the same distance in  172.5 minutes.  Thus, you have 80 minutes before you encounter the pursuing zombie.

Reality-based Solution: Simply because it takes 80 minutes before the original pursuing zombie reaches your destination does not mean that other zombies in closer proximity will not amble to your location sooner.  The moral: be on guard, especially if you pause to rest at an unsecure location accessible by more shambling ghouls.

Scenario 2:

Your weapon can only crush another 35 undead skulls before failing. Your exit is blocked by a room packed with the living dead. The room is 10 x 8 feet, and the average standing zombie occupies a space of two square feet. Can you eliminate all the attackers in the room?

Mathematical Solution: At 10×8, the room’s square footage is 80 square feet.  If a standing zombie occupies 2 square feet, then the packed room can house 40 standing zombies.  Thus, when your weapon fails, you will have five more zombies left.

Reality-based Solution: Although your weapon fails after the 35 crushed undead skulls, there is absolutely no reason that you should be armed with only one armament.  The experience zombie fighter knows that you need to equip yourself with at least two weapons: a primary and a secondary weapon, to address a scenario just like this one.  Additionally, the skilled combatant will be able to dispose of five undead attackers with only their four limbs, provided they use the proper technique.

Conclusion

The reasoning for the two different solutions is this - there is often more than one answer to a particular solution: the strict mathematical answer and the one based on real-world experience and common sense.  Another possible shortcoming of Tiger parenting is that individuals may disregard the latter in favor of the former.  In everyday life and in a world of living corpses, remember that answers gained from hands-on experience can often be as important as ones derived from your analytical mind.

The Walking Dead Season One Finale: Combat Analysis and Final Thoughts

December 16, 2010 by  
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So there you have it.  The first season of one of the most hotly anticipated TV shows for zombie fans has come to a close.  It’s been a ton of fun analyzing each episode of this season from a hand-to-hand combat perspective, and like all the previous blog installments, I’ll provide commentary on the hand weapons and techniques used in this episode.  I’ll also wrap up with some thoughts on the series overall and hopes for Season Two.

In the finale, Rick and the survivors gain access to the inner workings of the CDC by the only physician remaining, Dr. Edwin Jenner.  The members can finally breathe a relaxed breath, as well as tie one on pretty severely using the Center’s apparently robust alcohol cache.  Their respite is tragically short-lived, however, as even before their hangovers wear off the next morning, the group is told that they basically have one hour before the whole complex is blown to bits.  As Adam Sandler once said “Things that could’ve been brought to my attention yesterday!”

The Walking Dead Finale

The close combat in this episode is, like many this season, on the anemic side.  In fact, the only non-firearm based neutralization occurs in the closing minutes, where Daryl artfully decapitates a walker with a fire axe.  There was an interesting moment that caught my attention in the CDC, however, when Dr. Jenner describes his study of the reanimation sequence.  He mentions that some specimens reanimate in three minutes, others in days.  This is a similar observation made by Dr. Judith Ballantine, child psychiatrist, in The Zombie Combat Manual.  My reasoning for this particular scientific observation is this – it is much more intense if you don’t know how long before someone who has been infected will turn.  A victim could last for days, or you could turn away and he’ll be reaching for your throat.

Many people have asked me what I’ve thought of the series, so I figured it would be best to group my thoughts according to various topics:

Zombie Combat – I’ll be honest, I thought we would see a lot more hand-to-hand action in Season One.  I had figured that since Atlanta was going to be the primary location that they would need to keep silent much more than they had.  However, much of the combat was with guns a’blazin’.  I’m not entirely surprised by this, though, simply from a special effects perspective – it’s a lot cheaper to blow a squib than it is to mock up a weapon and mold a zombie dummy skull to obliterate.

Comparisons to the Graphic Novels – While the show’s storyline is clearly not adhering to Kirkman’s original series, in my opinion the deviations made in the first season have improved, not reduced, the quality and potential future arcs of the show.  The biggest change of course, was keeping Shane alive.  Kirkman himself has said that if he could do it over, he would do the same, but at the time of the writing he didn’t know that the series would last 7 issues, much less 79.

Nitpicks – I’m very pleased with how the show has been produced, except for one very bizarre element: the foley work.  For those of you unfamiliar with this term “Foley” is the replication of sounds and sound effects used on screen, layered on top of the film by a “foley artist” to bring realism to what’s being shown on screen.  I’m not sure if anyone else noticed this as well, but some of the sound effects I heard throughout the season were either overdone or replicated in several episodes.  For example, pickaxe scenes in the “Wildfire” episode sounded similar to the dismemberment scene in the “Guts” episode with the squishy sound effects.  Some zombie moans also sounded familiar throughout, as if they kept rewinding the same groan over and over.  Hopefully with the show being a success, they can put some of the production budget to better foley work.

Hopes for Season 2 – I think it’s undeniable that every fan of the graphic novel series is waiting for the appearance of Michonne and her katana.  As a zombie close combat fan, how can you not?  I would also hope to see greater variations of melee weapons other than the baseball bat and the axe (both camp and fire) which were basically the only tools that saw action this season.  Depending on the uptick of hand-to-hand action in Season 2, I may only blog about those episodes that feature exceptional zombie combat.

Overall, I don’t see how a zombie fan can not like this series.  I’m constantly shocked by the online peanut gallery who dump on this season.  Here you have not only a zombie apocalypse show, but one that has Kirkman’s writing, Darabont’s directing and producing, and KNB’s special effects, and you still have the haters.  Sure, it has its nitpicks and inauthentic moments (i.e. the climbing fence zombie) but in general, it’s clear that they are sticking to the original Romero canon.  The acting is superior, the writing is above par (especially when it’s Frank or Robert’s pen), and the zombies look awesome.  Quite frankly, this is probably the best we’re ever going to get with zombies on TV, so let’s hope the next 13 episodes are as high quality as the first six.

And where’s that blasted katana?

The Walking Dead Episode 5: Combat Analysis

December 5, 2010 by  
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In the second to last episode of the first season of AMC’s The Walking Dead, we’re treated to the least amount of zombie engagement in the series to date, mostly because the survivors are busy mopping up the mess that was last week’s nocturnal assault on the base camp.

Walking Dead Episode 5: Wildfire

It’s clean-up time for Rick and what remains of the crew: bodies are burned and buried, depending on if you’re a “geek” or a human, and those that need it are given what was termed in The Zombie Combat Manual as a PRW, or  “Preemptive Reanimation Wound,” a coup de grâce blow to an expired human to prevent unwanted and undesired reanimation.   In the episode, it’s a particularly brutal process, with a pick axe taking care of the job.  It’s effective, albeit gory, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

While we’re not privy to any zombie v. human close combat in this episode, there is one scene worth mentioning for its raw brutality, and its connection to our focus on close combat.  In the aforementioned PRW sequences, it’s Daryl taking care of business, swinging the pick axe like John Henry’s hammer, and having no problem with it, thank you very much.  When it’s time to take care of Ed, the wife-beating husband that received his own brutal asswhupping from Shane a few episodes back, his wife Carol steps up and asks to take care of it herself.  “He was my husband,” she laments.

Given her declaration, you may think that Carol is using the moment to say her goodbyes to a man who, despite his abuses, was a person that she, at one time, felt deeply for and loved.  In actuality, Carol uses the opportunity as a emphatic and cathartic release to do in death what she was never able to do when Ed was alive.  Not content to dispatch a single blow with the pick, she strikes again.  And again.  And again.  There probably wasn’t enough of what remained of Ed to be reanimated before Carol’s work, but she made sure of it, and then some.  Her technique is quite excellent, striking center mass with each blow.  Impressive for someone who probably never wielded a pickaxe in her life, much less to target the skull of her dead husband.  Even Daryl seems a bit taken aback, which is pretty impressive considering it’s Daryl.

Walking Dead Pickaxe

After the cleanup work is done, the gang heads out to the Center for Disease Control, which, given that it’s in the heart of Atlanta, doesn’t seem like the brightest idea.  The team sets off, and we’re met with a brand new character, one not present in Kirkman’s books – the good doctor Jenner.

We’re one episode away from the close of season one, after which I’ll provide a recap of the close combat as I’ve done for all the episodes this season, as well as some final thoughts on the series overall.

The Walking Dead Episode 4: Combat Analysis

November 24, 2010 by  
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In the final minutes of the fourth episode of The Walking Dead, viewers were treated to what many have been hotly anticipating since the beginning, a full-blown zombie mob assault.  Thus far, we’ve been witness to the occasional engagement with a single walker or evasive measures taken by survivors in the abandoned city of Atlanta.  Finally for the survivors, there’s nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and nothing to do but fight back.

Walking Dead Camp Attack

While Rick and the rest of the extraction team try to locate the elusive and single-handed Merle (who apparently is skilled in close with a wrench) and make it back to home base, the other survivors are contending with the heat, and the instability it brings to members of the camp.  There’s an encounter with another survivor group in the city, which, although completely distinct from the comic series, I thought was executed well.  It’s no wonder, since Kirkman was the author of this episode.

Kirkman also lulls us into a deluded sense of security for the survivors.  They’re fishing, building a roaring fire, quoting The Sound and The Fury; it’s just one long camping trip.  Until it isn’t.  Zombies pinpoint the camp location and launch into a nighttime raid.  Mayhem erupts.  Survivors are bitten.  And weapons are pulled.

Walking Dead First Bites

As to be expected, there’s a lot of gunplay in the attack scene, but there’s a fair amount of melee combat as well, since every survivor is not packing heat.   The ubiquitous baseball bat once again takes high prominence as the mid-range weapon of choice, with several zombies brained in the encounter.  There’s an interesting use of the weapon as a disengaging tool as well.  As one zombie (played by FX guru Greg Nicotero) is attacking Amy, another survivor separates the two by clubbing the ghoul in the skull – a much safer tactic than physically pulling the attacker off her.  Just be sure to aim carefully.

Walking Dead Baseball Bat

We also see some improvisation work from Daryl, using the butt of his shotgun as a bludgeon.  This is a tactic I did not address in The Zombie Combat Manual, and have been asked about in subsequent discussions.  My take on it is this: if you have no other choice, nothing else at your disposal, and need to execute a silent neutralization, then do what you must.  Otherwise, I personally would not risk permanently damaging my rifle unnecessarily, not to mention the cleanup afterwards.  Remember, that buttstock needs to be pressed up against your shoulder afterwards, close to your nostrils – better have the soap scrub handy.

The final point about the episode I’ll make is this: people often ask me what the big deal is about fighting a zombie.  Aren’t they slow, mindless, and easy to avoid?  The mob attack scene really illustrated well how harrowing undead combat can be.  It’s dark, you’re in the woods, with zombies creeping in from all angles.  There’s a danger of friendly fire from using your firearm, and it’s difficult to execute a flanking maneuver due to the scattered nature of your opponents.

It’s no question, zombie combat can be a bitch.

Walking Dead Nicotero Bite

The Walking Dead Episode 3: Combat Analysis

November 19, 2010 by  
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Episode three of AMC’s The Walking Dead brought on less hand-to-hand combat action than I had hoped, but it did reveal some interesting aspects of the zombie canon to which the show is following.  Plus, we had the opportunity to see a ballistic weapon in use that wasn’t a firearm, a rarity in the world of zombie combat.

As a quick recap, Rick and the scavenger team escape Atlanta and return to home base in the Georgia hills, which looks to be a pretty decent safe area, given the elevation and the security setup in place.  Here, Rick is finally reunited with his family and his ex-partner, Shane.  You don’t have to be a fan of the comic series to know that awkward tension is waiting in the wings for both men.

Walking Dead Deer Killer

No sooner do they return than they meet their first base camp invader.  The only close combat scene in this episode occurs in this scene, but they managed to insert an interesting array of weapons to bring down one walker.  We see a pitchfork, an iron bar, a bat, and the coup de grace weapon, a camp axe.  The team does a bizarre imitation of “Ring Around The Rosie” to bring down the walker, which reminded me of the scene in Shaun of the Dead in the Winchester where they beat the reanimated bar owner with pool cues.  Dale delivers the finishing blow with the axe, decapitating the creature.  We later see the eyes open and jaw begin to nash, confirming the fact that despite being separated from the body, a zombie’s head retains its biting ability.  There’s an amusing meta-nod to Romero when Daryl finished off the walker and says, “It’s gotta be the brain, don’t y’all know nuthin’?”

The close combat in this scene was, admittedly, disappointing.  Despite knowing that they needed to strike the head, the men seemed to beat on the torso for several minutes.  There was also something else that irked me, which was the fact that the zombie seemed to respond to these body blows, reeling and turtling like a human as if in pain.  I’ll try to not be too critical of the zombie minutiae, but it would have been better if the zombie stood static and threatening, until someone delivering an appropriate skull-crushing blow.  However, I admit that the biting decapitated head was cool.

Walking Dead Crossbow

The other weapon worth mentioning in this episode was, of course, Daryl’s crossbow.  When it comes to zombie defense, people often cite this weapon as a formidable and silent ballistic option.  The important detail to me was that the show positioned Daryl as a hunter with real experience using the weapon, not some shmo who looted it from a Sports Authority and suddenly became a bulls-eye marksman.  The fact that he kept retrieving and cleaning every bolt he shot was also an authentic touch, although I personally wouldn’t wipe off the gunk on my own pant leg.

The series itself continues to impress, and from what I’ve seen in episode four, the escape from Atlanta should be interesting.  Let’s hope the team tries to fly under the undead radar rather than going loud, because we saw where that got them before.

The Walking Dead Episode 2: Combat Analysis

November 11, 2010 by  
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Last week I began my analysis on how hand-to-hand zombie combat is being handled in AMC’s new series, The Walking Dead.  While the premiere was fairly limited as far as non-ballistic weapons were concerned, this week’s episode provided a satisfying variety of close-combat armaments.

A brief episode recap: Rick Grimes has entered Atlanta hoping to find an operational safe zone and reunite with  his wife and son.  What he finds are hordes of living dead, and the only safe refuge in a military tank.  This urban metropolitan setting is particularly ripe for a discussion of hand weapons because, as the survivors point out to Rick, his Wyatt Earp impression has drawn dead from all over the city to their location.

The Walking Dead Bat Attack

Once again, we witness the ubiquitous Louisville Slugger in action, this time brandished by two survivors decked out in riot protection gear.  TWD continues to impress me in the use of this weapon, as both the first and second episodes have depicted an attack using the baseball bat to be fairly tedious, requiring at least several blows to fell your opponent.  I also enjoy the fact that the show continues to emphasize the vulnerable occipital region of the back of the skull as a prime target for this weapon.

We also encounter several other melee range weapons in this episode.  Upon exiting the tank, Rick picks up an entrenching tool from the interior of the vehicle and uses it to slice open a walker’s cheek and send it tumbling to the ground.  The shovel makes for a very effective mid-range weapon, and has been used for combat as well as functional purposes by military forces around the world,  the most famous of which is the former Soviet Union’s Spetsnaz unit.

As Rick and Glenn try to make it past the shambling dead in their gore jackets, they are armed with two melee weapons: a crowbar and a fire axe.  The crowbar sees some very brief action as the men have to hightail it towards a fence once the undead jig is up.  The fire axe has its moment in the sun, however, as Rick uses it to brain the first zombie who senses their presence:

Walking Dead - Axe

Here’s where the melee action gets interesting.  As you can see from the production still above, Rick doesn’t use the blade of the axe to take out his opponent, but the opposite spiked end.  I thought this to be an excellent combat decision.  The characters just experienced a rain shower, soaking everything and everyone from head to toe.   Swinging a wet axe down upon the rain-slicked head of a zombie may cause the blade to careen off the skull, or weaken your grip.  A much better choice is to use the pointed end and drive it quickly into the head, as Rick demonstrates.  My only suggestion would be to have Rick choose a thinner boned area, like the temporal region, rather than the thick crown of the skull.  Still, he got the deed done and didn’t have the weapon wrenched from his hands.  Nice job, officer.

Overall, a great episode for zombie close combat.  Here’s hoping for more silent but deadly action in Episode Three, when the team returns to rescue Merle.

The Walking Dead Premiere: The Zombie Combat Club Perspective

November 7, 2010 by  
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walkingdead2

Last Sunday saw the AMC premiere of a event that fans of the undead never thought they would see – a television series based on the zombie apocalypse.  Ever better is the fact that the show is based on Robert Kirkman’s excellent comic book serial – The Walking Dead.

There are plenty of web sites that will conduct a thorough review of the show itself, which is, in a word, outstanding.  Rather than comment on the series, I thought it would be more interesting to examine The Walking Dead from the Zombie Combat Club perspective – that is, how is hand-to-hand combat depicted in the show.  In the comic series, Kirkman includes a considerable amount of close quarters zombie combat with all types of weapons – swords, hammers, ice picks, and axes.  It will be interesting to see how the show translates the brutality of non-ballistic zombie combat for television.  Each week, I’ll review the episode’s use of hand-held weapons if presented in the show.

amc2bat

The first episode’s use of hand-based weapons was limited, but extremely accurate.  Rick, the show’s main protagonist, takes out a “walker” using the ever-popular baseball bat.  The scene depicts not only the difficulty of using such a weapon, but also the physical exhaustion such an effort exacts on the body.  From the angle of his strikes, Rick is targeting the most resilient areas of the skull, the frontal and parietal regions of the head.  Rick takes not one or two, but five blows to completely neutralize his opponent.   The finishing blow seems to occur after the zombie is already down, and Rick strikes the occipital region of the skull – a primary target area detailed in The Zombie Combat Manual.  At the end of the engagement, Rick is left breathless and completely spent.  While some of this is attributable to his healing wound, it was interesting to see the significant physical toll of taking out just a single zombie.

amc2bat2

In a show about fighting off zombie hordes, it is inevitable that the combat focus is going to be based on firearms.  The show, however, has already set the stage for the importance of using non-ballistic weapons: the fact that the noise of the gun’s report will draw more dead to your location.

I’m looking forward to seeing more creative uses of silent, but deadly hand weapons in the show.

ZomBcon 2010: The Aftermath

November 5, 2010 by  
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ZomBcon 2010 is in the record books, and now that the suitcase has been emptied and the pictures downloaded, I have time to recap this first event of its kind – a 3-day all-zombie fest.

I was lucky to be an invited guest to this convention, but if I wasn’t, as a fan I would have found a way, by hook or by crook, to get to Seattle.  The organizers did a great job of not only gathering some premier guests for the attendees, but providing extraordinary access to those guests.  It wasn’t like a typical Con, where an MC bellows into a mic “And here’s Mr. Film Celebrity!” and said celebrity bounds on stage, waves, and bounds off into the recesses of the convention hall, never to be seen again.  At ZomBcon, not only did fans see the guests on stage and in panels, they chatted with them in the hallways, they ate with them at brunch, they drank with them at the bar.

As a speaker, I thoroughly enjoyed how the attendees were intensely into my Zombie Combat presentation.  No strange looks or awkward silences here.  When I learned I would be following a lecture by Max Brooks, and thought to myself, “This is not good – I have to play cleanup to a legend in zombie literature and a man funny enough to write for SNL.”  Luckily, the attendees appreciated my presentation as much as they did his.

Who knows what surprises are in store for this event in 2011, but for those of you who wondered if it was worth it to attend this year, Let me answer that for you now.  Yes.

Here are some selected pictures from the weekend:

Nate Quarry Zombie

Nate “Rock” Quarry, Ultimate Fighter/Zombie

Don, SG and Me

Don Roff, author of “Zombies: A Record of The Year of Infection” and S.G. Browne, author of “Breathers

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Scott Kenemore, author of “The Art of Zombie Warfare

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Dr. Steve Schlozman, author of the forthcoming “The Zombie Autopsies

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The awesome Ted Raimi

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Terry Alexander, John the pilot from Day of the Dead

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This man needs no introduction

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See you at ZomBcon 2011!

ZomBcon Halloween Weekend

October 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

zombcon_session

This Halloween weekend, and unprecented event will take place in Seattle.  The first ever large scale all-zombie convention is being held in the Seattle center, and I’m lucky enough to be an invited guest.

As not just a contributor, but a lifelong fan of the undead genre, I’m thrilled to be meeting some of the premier writers, filmmakers, and artists who’ve made the zombie genre what it is today.  The event that I am most looking forward to, however, is my session with Max Brooks, author of The Zombie Survival Guide.  I’ve said before that it was Brooks’ work that inspired me to write the Zombie Combat Manual, and to share the stage with him in a session on zombie survival will be an honor.

I’ll also be around the entire ZomBcon weekend participating in other events.  if you happen to be in the area and you’re a zombie fan, you have no excuse not to come.  Here’s my schedule for those of you who want to stop and say hi:

  • Friday, October 29th, 3PM, “Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse”
  • Friday, October 29th, 9PM, “Prom Night of the Living Dead”
  • Sunday, October 31st, 1PM, ZomBcon Showcase – Zombie Combat Manual
  • Sunday, October 31st, 2PM, Barnes and Noble Author Showcase Signing

I’ll be sharing a post-event wrap-up and photos after the weekend, so check back next week.

I also wrote an article for Wired.com’s GeekDad blog on the convention, the living dead, and how my father scarred me for life with zombies, and how I’m forever grateful.  Check out the article here.

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