Now That’s One Fine Looking Zombie

If you could see my Kindle library you might note a significant number of books totally devoted to the macabre, and a large subset dealing with the subject of Zombies. Zombies are the new black. They’re everywhere–in literature, movies, television, behind shrubbery, probably lurking around the next corner ready to eat whatever brains I have left.

Yesterday I watched an awful B movie called “Diary of a Zombie.” Did I mention it was awful? Yet, I watched every minute with my feet tucked up in my chair to prevent any skulking members of the walking dead from feasting on my prettily painted toenails. I once watched 45 minutes of an exercise infomercial because without my glasses on I mistook the title “Zumba!” for “Zombie!”

Presently I’m reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies a reworking of Jane Austen’s classic tale with a liberal sprinkling of zombies added in. A die-hard Austen fan might be horrified to find the sisters of the Longbourn family as accomplished in warfare against the “unfortunate scourge” as they are in the arts of needlepoint and the playing of the pianoforte, but I am delighted. Author Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel is soon to be made into a movie, and I cannot wait to watch Elizabeth Bennet singlehandedly dispatch a variety of zombies including the caroling Hellford family who have become “unmentionables” due to some unfortunate circumstance.

Three of my favorite books in the zombie genre (zombre?) are World War Z by Max Brooks, a much more satisfying read than the movie might lead one to believe; Scott Kenemore’s Zombie, Ohio: A Tale of the Undead; and Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry. Have a desire to mix tales of zombies and superheroes? Then try the Ex-Heroes series by Peter Clines. Google, “Zombie Books List” for more titles than any zombie loving geek (should we be “zeeks”?) can read in a year.

No brief discussion of zombies in current pop culture would be complete without a mention of “The Walking Dead.” Even my non-zeek spouse is into the popular AMC series. I’ve almost convinced him we need to plant pointy stakes around the perimeter of our home, but he has no intention of buying me a crossbow.

Chances are I will never encounter an actual zombie. And that’s a really good thing. So, why am I, and so many like me, fascinated by the walking dead? I’ve read some research that points to an increased interest in zombie literature during times of widespread financial depression. In a way, this makes sense. After all, what lifts one spirits more than fantasizing about the dead rising from the grave in order to stalk and devour the living? Truly, an “it could always be worse” mentality. Maybe zombie stories are a way of dealing with our own mortality. “Hey, being dead could be fun! Come eat some nice intestines!”

In any case, I’m ready for zombies should they ever become a reality. My brains are filled with all sorts of nutritious grey matter and my best run is more of a fast limp. They’ll love me almost as much as I love them.

Peace, People!



Imagine, if you will, the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. Suddenly, a storm of epic proportions descends on the cobble stone streets. Encased within, the makings of a mighty funnel cloud barreling along and scooping up everything in its path. Angry bulls, frightened runners, petrified spectators, toreadors, picadors, and matadors enveloped in a…Gorenado!

Several days later and thousands of miles away, in Great Bend, Kansas, a group of students enjoy their after lunch recess on the playground of a small elementary school. On duty staff notice a shift in the winds and begin calling the students to wrap up their play. Darkness rapidly descends and rain drops the size of mushrooms speed the children on their way to safety.

A lone librarian rushes to assist a kindergartener who has fallen in the rush when from the sky drops a raging bull, head lowered, ready to charge. The librarian places the child behind her and they begin backing away from the bovine. The bull snorts and paws the earth. There is no way for the librarian to get the child to safety in time. Death seems imminent. Until a mighty matador descends from the cloud, waving his cape and diverting attention from the woman and her charge.

With the bull’s focus on the brave matador, the librarian scoops the frightened child into a protective embrace and runs for safety. The students and staff have gathered at the cafeteria windows to watch wide-eyed as the matador sweeps the bull under his cape of crimson. The librarian especially cannot take her eyes from the skilled Spaniard. When the bull is calmed and subdued through a variety of humanitarian maneuvers, the matador secures the now docile animal to a basketball goal.

The librarian rushes out to thank her savior, her emerald green eyes glistening with unshed tears of gratitude.

“Thank you, sir. You surely saved my life and the life of the child.”


Realizing the handsome matador knew no English, the librarian said the only thing she could, “Gracias! Gracias, señor!”

He bowed and took her small, white hand into his large tan one, planting a gentle kiss on her dainty knuckles. In the background, the bull snorted contentedly.

Would love follow for our librarian and her matador? Would more bulls drop onto the Kansas plains wreaking havoc and spurring desire? Would gorenados supplant sharknados as the new scourge of the earth? Questions that can be answered only in “Gorenado 2; It Only Hurts When I Sneeze.”

Peace, People!

(Un)Reality TV

So-called reality tv might just be the end of civilization as we know it. Who comes up with these ideas and why haven’t I been approached to star in one? I thought it might be fun to brainstorm some truly realistic programming. Feel free to add your own.

1) Real Couch Potatoes of North Florida
In this gripping show we’ll follow several middle aged women as they trek between bedroom and den and back again while simultaneously surfing the internet for shoe bargains. Look for spinoffs in places such as North Texas and North Dakota.

2) American Cat People
Assorted cat lovers will go through a series of auditions demonstrating their extreme interest in felines. Once the field has been whittled to 12 participants, viewers will vote each week until a winner is declared. First place gets a million dollar’s worth of catnip and an industrial strength pet hair removal tool.

3) Honey Muumuu
Follow the hilarious exploits of hula prodigy Honey Muumuu and her wacky family as they travel from one luau to another in a quest for fame based on an absolute dearth of talent and good taste.

4) American Tickers
Two guys with pacemakers go door to door looking for old microwave ovens.

5) Pawn Bars
Set in Las Vegas, New Mexico, this show highlights a pawn shop owning family in The Land of Enchantment as they drown their sorrows in a variety of local drinking establishments. Underling Bum Lee is especially captivating as the lovable loser with the wit and wisdom of a discarded gum wrapper.

6) Millionaire Matchmaker
I know, there’s already a show with this title, but in this iteration folks with a net worth in excess of a million dollars will actually be forced to work in a factory and learn to make matches.

7) Gassed and Proud
A group of strangers, all suffering from excessive flatulence will drive cross country in a 60’s era Volkswagon van to publicize, and potentially eradicate, the stigma of farting in public. At the end of their journey, the van will be auctioned off for charity.

8) Undercover Boss
In this version of the popular tv show, randomly selected employees discover that they’ve actually been sleeping with their employer for one entire pay period. Performance reviews take on a whole new meaning.

9) Judge Moody
Litigants will face off in a courtroom presided over by a judge suffering from extreme PMS. Expect judgements favoring decapitation and death by strangulation for even the pettiest of crimes.

10) Celebrity Knife Swap
D list celebrities feign interest in all things knife-related in this blatant attempt to jump start their dormant careers. Knife throwing and sharpening contests liven up this rather dull offering.

If any of these get picked up by a major network I’d like to volunteer for numbers 1 and 2 and to nominate Studly for #7. He’s a shoe-in.

Peace, People!

Twirling Queen


I was born with the natural grace of a three-legged bull moose and the athletic prowess of a potholder, sad truths I learned at the tender age of six when my parents enrolled me in a baton twirling class.

Back in the day, baton twirling was a big deal, at least in Floydada, Texas. One of my earliest role models was Suzanne, the head twirler in the Floydada Whirlwind marching band. She looked like a blonde goddess in her short spangled green and white outfit, and my Uncle Jack was married to her older sister which almost made us relatives.

Each and every Friday night during football season mini-me waited expectantly for the twirlers to make their halftime appearance. I copied Suzanne’s every move with my imaginary baton. Twist, spin, toss, twirl, march, mega toss, catch. I was breathtaking.

So captivated with the art of twirling was I that I convinced my parents that twirling was the most important thing in my life. When the high school twirlers started a workshop for potential twirlers I was the first in line. Fortunately, the initial investment was minimal. Batons were cheap and as I recall lessons were fifteen dollars.

I remember vividly my first class. Suzanne and the other high school twirlers lined all of the participants up on the out of bounds lines in the gym. Even at six I was among the tallest, so I was placed at the very end of the line.

First, they showed us how to stand at attention with our batons. And then we got to march around the perimeter of the gym, heads held high, knees snapping up and down, left, right, left, at 90 degree angles. I couldn’t quite get the hang of marching. This was all much easier with my imaginary baton.

Then we stopped and learned the figure eight move. I twisted my wrist and magically the baton moved as I willed it. Faster, faster, I twirled. I was a regular twirling dervish. Next we tried to march and twirl the figure eight. I could do one, but not the other, at least not simultaneously. Twirl or march, twirl or march, which was it to be? Still at the end of the line I would stand stock still and twirl, then quickly march to catch up, stop and twirl again.

Apparently, this was not the desired outcome. After the lesson I saw Suzanne approach my dad. They looked at me, and Suzanne laughed and shook her head. On the ride home Daddy said Suzanne thought I should try learning another skill. I’d suspected as much, but it still crushed my little six year old heart.

I never looked at the twirlers in quite the same way after that; although, over the years I continued practicing the one skill I learned. I can still twirl the figure eight like nobody’s business. Just don’t expect me to march while I’m doing it.

Peace, People!

Cleaning Stalls and Taking Names

Summertime for the pre-teen set has always been a balance between excitement and boredom, and growing up in a small town often dips the scale towards the boredom end. I grew up in Floydada, Texas, a farming community, population 4,000, circa 1970, a very small town, indeed.

My brothers and I were “town kids” and spent summer days traipsing across Floydada in search of some activity to ease the boredom. At least once a week we walked to the county courthouse where the library was located. Before heading downtown, we would scrounge through the sofa cushions and dresser drawers in search of loose change so we could purchase “baby” soft drinks at Arwine’s Drugstore in downtown Floydada. The baby size cost a nickel and was always a welcome thirst quencher after our trek across town.

Not all of my summer was spent in the company of my siblings, though. Often I had the opportunity to hang around with LA (not her real name!) who I envied desperately due to her status as an only child. LA and I spent hours fantasizing about The Cowsills family singing group and how she was going to marry Barry and I was going to marry John and we would live next door to one another in Santa Monica, California. Happily ever after had our names all over it.

But, even our fantasies grew tiresome on occasion, so as we rode our bikes around Floydada we decided to do something to better our community. We had nothing specific in mind, but we continued to chat about the possibilities when we weren’t mentally picking out the swimsuits we’d be wearing when first meeting The Cowsills.

The idea for our service project came when we stopped at one of the gas stations on the main drag to use their restroom. Now, this was before the time of the convenience store, and the ladies’ room was outside, accessible only by key. The condition of the restroom was deplorable. The sink was a mess, paper towels were strewn about the floor, and the toilet–ugh!

Truly I cannot remember whether LA or I came up with the idea, but soon, we were cleaning that bathroom. We decided that folks passing through Floydada needed to see its good side, and that included nice bathrooms. So, for several weeks LA and I pedaled from service station to service station tidying up the bathrooms. Scandalously, we even ventured into the men’s rooms where we glimpsed our first urinals. Heavens! We were now mature women of the world.

Eventually summer ended as did our community service project. When we told our friends what we’d been up to they seemed more horrified than impressed. But there was something satisfying about doing a job no one else wanted, or even noticed. To heck with germs and dirt and potential disease! We were rebels without a clue, cleaning stalls and taking names.

Peace, People!

Inside the Director’s Studio: Alfred Finchcock’s, “The Words”

Good evening and welcome to Inside the Director’s Studio. I am your host, James Lipton Onion Soup Mix. (Polite applause)
My guest this evening is the esteemed director, Alfred Finchcock. (Applause)

James: Mr. Finchcock, welcome to our program. We are honored by your presence.

Alfred: As you should be. (Laughter)

J: Tonight we want to focus on one of your most controversial films to date, specifically, “The Words.”

For those who have not yet had the opportunity to attend a screening of this groundbreaking work would you provide a brief summary of the plot?

A: I would be happy to oblige; although, I find it most difficult to believe that any within the range of my voice have not yet viewed this masterpiece. (Polite laughter)

In this story we find a worldly woman…

J: Played by the lovely Tipsy Headroom.

A: …who purchases a pair of weighty tomes, specifically Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary and Roget’s Thesaurus, as gifts for the sister of a handsome man she encounters in a San Francisco book store.

J: You cast Prod Trailer in the role of Mitch. Interesting choice.

A: Quite. I considered his dark good looks the perfect counterpoint to Miss Headroom’s blonde Melanie. Dark, light. Male/female. Tall/less tall.

J: So far, we have an endearing story about a pretty woman buying a nice gift for a little girl. Your genius is in turning the innocent into infamy.

A: When Melanie, an unmarried woman of a certain age delivers the books to Mitch’s island home the tension begins to build.

J: The special effects are so subtle, so subliminal in the beginning. For example, the word, “exacerbate” slips by in the water as Melanie rows herself and the books to Mitch’s home.

A: I am singularly surprised that you caught that. But, you are correct. It was my intention to slowly build word upon word until the audience was gasping at each verbal assault.

J: Please continue.

A: Melanie’s gift is well-received by Mitch’s sister, a budding young author entranced by words. And Melanie is urged to stay over for the weekend.

J: Perhaps this is what triggers the chaos?

A: I was not overly concerned by causation; however, the audience might very well construe the surge of suppressed hormonal urges as the basis for the initial attacks.

J: And, attacks are forthcoming.

A: Indeed. The evening of Melanie’s arrival a loud bump is heard outside the home. Upon investigation the word, “melancholia” is found lying broken in a puddle beside the porch.

In each successive scene the number and intensity of the attacks increase until there are too many to be discounted.

J: Mr. Finchcock, critics have said that your subject was too broad. That perhaps you should have focused on verbs or nouns or adjectives.

A: James, if one observed carefully one would note that I arranged each attack around a specific part of speech.

J: Please elaborate.

A: In the phone booth, Melanie was attacked by a host of nouns: “Umbrage!” “Castration!” “Misogyny!”

When the children in the schoolyard came under siege it was by adjectives: “Allegorical!” “Voluptuous!” “Incendiary!”

J: Oh, and the attack on the birthday! Those could all be verbs! “Manipulate, castigate, endeavor!”

My God! You pulled it all together!

A: Quite so. The climactic scene is one in which our heroine is rendered catatonic by battling a frenetic flock of adverbs. “Forcefully!” “Fanatically!” “Morbidly!” “Moribundly!”

But the denouement…

J: Leaves us with verbiage of all kinds, waiting in silence for…

A: Who knows? The trigger could be an exhalation or an obfuscation.

J: And that, sir, is why we worship your art.

A: As you should.

J: One more question before we must let you go. Tipsy Headroom, is she just another famous Finchcock blonde? Why couldn’t a brunette have played this role?

A: I do have a predilection for blondes, but in “The Words,” I intentionally wanted to dispel the stereotype of the dumb blonde. In order to have survived at all my leading lady had to have linguistic skills of the highest caliber.

J: Again, I tip my fictional fedora to you. Here’s to much success with “The Words.” Thank you again for allowing us to come Inside the Director’s Studio.

A: My pleasure. (Applause)

Praying for Eyebrowz: The Band

If you read my initial blog post, “Begin the Beguine” you know that the name of my blog stems from an encounter with an esthetician. She was a 60-something earth mother type with long frizzy red hair and clothes straight out of Woodstock. I don’t remember her name, so let’s call her Ditzy.

Ditzy accompanied me back to her treatment room and had me lie down on the table. She immediately got as close to my face as humanly possible without actually kissing me. My mind was thinking, “Whoa, whoa, whoa! I didn’t sign up for this!” Then just as abruptly she tsk tsk’d and pulled away.

Tsk, tsk? No one had ever tsk tsk’d at my face. Maybe I should have let her kiss me.

“What?” I asked.

“Well, I hate to tell you this,” she began, “Your skin looks really great, but your eyebrows.” Again, she tsk’d. “You see, your eyebrows are just too sparse.”

“Oh. Um, sorry. Is there anything I can do about that?”

“Let me ask you something of a serious nature,” Ditzy said.

“Sure, Ditzy,” I nodded cautiously, certain now that my esthetician might not be operating on all six cylinders. “Ask away.”

“Do you believe in a higher power?”

“Why yes, yes I do,” I said, wondering where this was headed.

“Well, then just pray. Pray for eyebrows.”

Alrighty then.

Now, I’m a big believer in the power of prayer. I pray nightly for peace, for an end to world hunger, for the health and well-being of my family and friends, but I’d never really thought about praying for thicker eyebrows.

So as Ditzy stopped tsk-ing and began giving me a lovely, relaxing facial, I contemplated asking God to bestow this favor on me. The thought made me giggle.

“Please relax those facial muscles,” said Ditzy.

“Mmhm” I mumbled, drifting away.

I knew I couldn’t ask our Heavenly Father for something like eyebrows. I liked the thought, though. Praying for Eyebrows. Change the spelling to make it edgy. Praying for Eyebrowz. Ooh, I liked that. That sounded like the name of an alt rock indie band. “Praying for Eyebrowz” featuring Nana Noyz on lead vocals. Our first single: “Ditzy Tsk.” It’ll be a hit for sure.

Peace, People.


Finding Love at the Piggly Wiggly

Studly and I met on the condiments aisle of the Piggly Wiggly store my dad managed in Dumas, Texas. The year was 1974, the summer preceding my senior year of high school. Studly had recently started working for my dad, and I was new to Dumas, having just moved from the metropolis of Floydada, TX. Yep, Floydada. Look it up; it’s a place.

A provocative question began our romance: “Excuse me sir,” I said. “Could you please show me where the ketchup is?”

I felt a little flustered when he stood up and pointed to the neatly lined bottles of Heinz and DelMonte arrayed right in front of me, and I’m sure my face turned a bright ketchupy red. He was cute, but I was a geek, so I put him out of my mind. The variable I hadn’t considered, though, was my double whammy status as the new girl AND the boss’s daughter.

According to Studly he followed me around town all that summer. I had no idea, and that was a good thing. I was so awkward around members of the opposite sex that had I known of his interest I’d have certainly screwed up any chance of our ever dating. So, I remained happily oblivious until school started.

Call it destiny, karma, or luck, our schedules coincided to put us in the same second hour class that first semester. Studly started walking me to class. He even carried my books, something that was sweet and touching and slightly embarrassing all at the same time. He was funny and easy to talk to and pretty soon I was smitten. I’m glad he was smitten, as well.

Peace, People.

Thirty-eight Years of Living Dangerously

On Wednesday Studly and I will celebrate our 38th wedding anniversary. Not bad considering some guests at our wedding ceremony were placing bets on our marriage not lasting more than a year. We were just kids, after all, not even out of our teens.

Like every other couple who have managed to stay together for any length of time we have experienced tremendous ups and treacherous downs, and everything in between. And yet we’ve managed to survive with relatively minor scars.

I asked Studly to tell me what he believes to be the secret to sustaining a long marriage, and after much thought (2.5 seconds) he came up with two key elements:

1. Don’t die,

2. Don’t divorce

He was serious.

I’d like to add my own thoughts, but I’m busy banging my head against a wall right now.

Peace, People!

Just For Gaffes (edited)

I owe my life to “I Love Lucy.” Not in any literal sense, but certainly in some sort of metaphysical way. Lucy’s propensity for doing the wrong thing at the right time set a disturbingly cool precedent for me back in the days when the television was actually a pretty decent babysitter. Lucy’s grape stomping, ledge climbing, chocolate wrapping legacy, if nothing else, gave me permission to be my goofy self with no, ok, a few apologies.

But Lucy wasn’t my only influence. My mom, Freida, and her younger sister, Nedra, lent their wackiness to my formative years, as well. Once while waiting to pick up a relative at the small airport in Amarillo, the pair scurried off to answer the call of nature inside the ladies’ room of the nearly empty terminal. It was late at night and they might have been a bit tipsy. Mom was in one stall. Nedra in another. Gas was passed. Loud and long and clear. Nedra, always quick with a witticism sternly admonished, “Freida!” A deep silence ensued. The kind of silence that indicates something is very wrong. A toilet flushed, a stall opened and closed, followed by the sound of footsteps leaving the room. Only then did Mom explode in laughter as Nedra realized she’d scolded a complete stranger for farting. The pair hid in the bathroom for awhile hoping the gas passer wouldn’t associate them with their bathroom behavior.

Once my Aunt Nedra and her husband Uncle Richard, along with my mom and dad were spending the night at my grandparents’ home. As was their habit at such gatherings, the men went to bed ahead of the women who liked to tell stories and laugh well into the night. After much silliness my Aunt said goodnight to Mom and my grandmother and went to bed. Soon after, my mom followed, but found her spot next to my dad, occupied. She started laughing and soon her mother joined her in fits of uncontrollable giggles. Groggily, Nedra asked, “Richard, why are they laughing?” My dad, who until then was sound asleep responded, “Maybe because I’m not Richard and you’re in bed with your sister’s husband.” Everyone but my grandfather thought the story was hilarious. It just pissed him off.

I’ve turned doing embarrassing things into an art form. Too many to list here, but one of my favorites(?) was the time I was having some sort of sonogram done. As I lay on the exam table the tech was instructing me to take deeper breaths, hold, release, etc. The doctor to whom I’d been referred had an odd name, something like Bozdagerian or Bodgazerian or Bogzaderian.

I asked the tech, “Just how do you say this doctor’s name anyway ? Boz-da-ger-ian?”

“Deeper” said the tech.

So I lowered my voice an octave and tried again. “Boz-da-ger-ian?” I intoned.

The tech started laughing. “That was impressive,” he said. “Now please take a deeper breath.”

I’m most apt to commit verbal faux pas, like the time I told a crowd of people that upon Turning 50 I had “embraced my AARP-ness.” Read that aloud and you will know why I was the butt of more than a few jokes that afternoon.

Then there was the time a drunken me asked a lady on the dance floor where the deejay was located. Coincidentally, she asked me the very same question. At the very same time. She even kind of looked like me, only drunker. I noticed dancers giving me odd looks. That’s when I realized I’d been carrying on a conversation with my reflection in a mirror. I told myself thanks and returned to my table. I never did find the deejay.

My mom always said I was just like my Aunt Nedra, but at least I’ve never slept with my sister’s husband.

Peace, People.

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