January 2007 Archives

"Dinosaurs" - too funny!

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We must be smart - our brains are as big as walnuts!

So I watched the first DVD of the 4 DVD "Dinosaurs" set and I was very happy to find it as hilarious as I remembered it.  Just plain laugh out loud funny.  But probably a little too much for my 6 & 7 year olds.  Admittedly, much of the humor would probably go over their heads, and they've probably heard most of the swear words around here (although very rarely), but still, it's an adult humor and they probably wouldn't get most of it without an explanation that I'm just not prepared to give right now:-)

The baby is still one of the funniest characters ever on TV.  And it is more than just "Not The Mama!".  I had forgotten just where I had originally heard the "Again!" that I frequently say.  And "Gotta Love Me!" is as funny now as it was when Dinosaurs first came out.

The episode on The Hurling was side-splitting funny.  This is where the husband gets to toss his mother-in-law off the cliff into the tar pits on her 72nd birthday. We get introduced to his ascerbic mother-in-law, Ethyl, and she just cracks me up.  When she called Earl "Fat Boy" (and the baby echoed it!), I busted up.  And when his boss at Wesayso,  Mr. Richfield (voiced by Sherman Hemsley), welcomes Earl into the fraternity of hurlers by showing him a videotape of his hurling, and they watch Mr. Richfield's mother in law fly off the cliff in slo-mo and reverse, it just killed me! Luckily, I get along great with my mother-in-law (always seemed to be the prudent course), but the way Ethyl picks on poor Earl is priceless.

I can't wait to watch the other three DVDs!

Netflix Buddy

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Oh, and speaking of groups, I also welcome Netflix friends.  You can click on this link to be added as a Friend in Netflix, which is a cool feature where we can see what we're watching and what we think of those movies.  Here's the link : Be My Netflix Friend

Group Love

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I thought I'd put in a shoutout for a relatively new feature on Vox called Groups.  It is just another way to find out about postings in areas of interest to you.  You join a group and you browse new postings that were added to the group.  And when you compose a post that might interest others in the group, you click the "Add to group" link at the bottom left and, probably, check the "Allow comments in groups" too. The latter option lets folks add comments if they are reading your post via the groups link, rather than directly on your blog.

I belong to just two groups.  Reading Is Sexy concentrates on books, while The Film Group is, not surprisingly, a movie buff's group.  The Reading group cracked the 100 member plateau the other day and is currently racing towards 125. Lots of interesting book reviews, lists and just plain talkin' about books.

The Film Group is a nascent group, still gaining steam. I was surprised when I started really using Vox this month to find there wasn't a more popular movie group, so I've been shilling The Film Group in comments around Vox for a couple of days.  Actually, I wish it had been called "The Film Society".  For one thing, you end up saying "The Film Group" group, which is awkward. And for another, there are lots of real film societies.  But even better, it hearkens back to my younger days and the fine movie series shown on Channel 38 here in Boston, which featured movies you would normally never see on TV.  It is whereI first saw  movies like Return of the Secacus 7 and The Servant (which began my Harold Pinter obsession).  But it's too late for that now, and so The Film Group it is.

There's no dues to pay and nothing special to do really.  The only catch is that, to contribute, you need to be sure to specifically click on the link to add a post to a group. It gives you another way to both find posts and to get your posts out there. Join us, won't you?

The Sword of Doom


The sword is the soul. Study the soul to know the sword. Evil mind, evil sword.

I watched The Sword of Doom ("Dai-bosatsu tôge" so, more literally, Daibosatsu Pass) over the past couple of nights.  I started Friday night but was too tired to finish it, so I wrapped it up last night.  A dark movie looking into a dark soul, it featured a magnificent performance by Tatsuya Nakadai as the brooding, malevolent Ryunosuke. Not sure the plot made a whole lot of sense, but the body count was as high as any samurai flick I've seen.

Ryunosuke is a samurai without conscience during the mid-1800s in Japan, as the shoguns collapsed and the emperor rose.  Despite accepting a rival's wife's offer of her virtue in exchange for throwing an upcoming match, he ends up killing him and slicing and dicing his way out of a pack of the dead rival's friends.  He is exiled, although he does take along the wife of his rival.  Ryunosuke becomes involved in a few samurai clans as a hired sword, while being tracked down by the brother of the slain fighter.  The movie ends in a paroxysm of sword fighting and death, which doesn't come as a surprise to anyone, including Ryunosuke and the viewer.

There's also a parallel story of woman whose grandfather Ryunosuke sliced at the beginning of the movie.  I'm not really sure what Omatsu had to do with the story of Ryunosuke, besides the fact there were occasional intersections.  The IMDB entry says that it was originally to be the first of a trilogy, so perhaps Omatsu would have played a bigger part in later movies. Many of the one-on-one killings done by Ryunosuke have a cloudy morality. The grandfather was literally asking to die, while the rival tried to kill Ryunosuke first, so perhaps we can't cast too harsh a judgment on Ryunosuke.

I liked "The Sword of Doom", although, as I mentioned in the comments to Yokimbo's Sanjuro/Yojimbo post,  I'm not terribly fond of these dark, violent samurai movies.  I like ones with a more obvious moral compass, like Seven Samurai or Hidden Fortress. Call me simple, I guess!  But "The Sword of Doom" could probably stand another viewing, just to see how dark Ryunosuke's soul truly is.

QotD: Counting Sheep

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What do you do to ensure you get a good night's sleep?
Submitted by Jacob's Ladder.

Have two incredibly active kids, aged 7 & 6, get up at 5am, work hard all day, chase the kids around all evening, fight with them to get to bed, and then collapse into my bed with a good book.  I'm out by the time my head hits the pillow.

Sitcom Heaven on a platter


I picked up a couple of television DVD sets the other day. Barnes & Noble was having the ol' "buy one get one free" sale. Unfortunately, the selection wasn't the greatest. I would have liked to pick up The Sopranos Season Four or Lost Season Two, but neither was included in the sale.

So instead I added The Bob Newhart Show Season Four and Dinosaurs Seasons One and Two.  The original Bob Newhart show was, and remains, my favorite sitcom of all time.  When Nick At Nite first got the rights to it, they had a marathon and showed all of them, one after another. So I taped as many as I could and watched those to death. Unfortunately, due to the money scrabbling that goes on these days for TV, these versions are sliced and diced to fit in today's half hour slot, which is about 5 minutes of commercial time shorter than in the 70s, when this show first aired.  So I had to make due with the sliced versions for many years.

Then they came out with a set of videotapes and I finally got to see the shows in their original glory. And what a beautiful things it was!  I was beside myself when The Bob Newhart Show finally came out on DVD. We have seaons One and Three, but still haven't gotten around to picking up Two and Four. So I was glad to add another one to the collection.

As for Dinoaaurs, what can I say about this subversive Jim Henson production? It preceded the equally subversive Simpsons by a couple of years, and I find it absolutely gut splittingly funny, on many levels. I think my girls will enjoy it as much as me, because the humor found in this sadly short-lived series hits home on so many different levels.  I've been saying "Not-The-Momma" for years and I'm finally glad to get it all in DVD glory.

Library Loco


Man, this is just so silly! I returned books to the library today during lunch and I promised myself I wouldn't take out any more.  I had a pretty big stack of books on loan already, so I surely didn't need more.  But nooooooo, I couldn't resist could I?  I'm always perusing the new book shelves and, if I see an interesting one, I check if it is part of a series. And if it is, I try to take out an early or, preferably, the first book in the series.  Unlike my daughter, who prefers to read the Magic Treehouse books willy-nilly, I like to read a series in chronological order.  So a couple of books caught my eye and I checked out the back stacks to find their ancestors and, of course, I couldn't resist. Luckily, they are all pretty easy to digest thrillers, so I can chew on them between big meals.

First up is the latest in a series I've been reading right along, the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child.  Fantastic mystery/thrillers, incredibly well paced and very interesting.  Unique to the series is the way Child will write a book in either first or third person, which is weird.  I much prefer my mysteries to be in first person, so I can "play along", but these are good enough that I even enjoy the third person ones. This one, "The Hard Way", is a third person one, likje the previous book, "One Shot", but the one before, "The Enemy",  was a first person book (and written as a sort of prequel, too).  Very odd.

Then I saw a book by someone I had never heard of, Andrew Vachss. The one on the new book shelf was "Mask Market: A Burke Novel", of which there were quite a few.  I checked the fiction stacks and it only went back to "Blue Belle", which is mid-way through the series.  I checked the Mystery stacks and was able to get the debut novel, "Flood". Burke is an investigator on the seedy side of the tracks. It is written in the first person, so I'm really looking forward to it.

The next book in line was by F. Paul Wilson, a "Repairman Jack" novel called "Harbinger".  Odd that I hadn't heard of him, as it turns out he's written quite a number of books, in a few different series.  I guess "Repairman Jack" is a horror/thriller/mystery series.  Unfortunately, I was only able to go back to "Crisscross", which is like the eigth or ninth book in the series.  As it isn't really quite my cup o' tea (and written in the third person to boot), I figured I'd just try this one and see if I wanted to quest for earlier ones.

And to top it all off, I grabbed a copy of "About a Boy", another Nick Hornsby novel.  I'll probably just add this to my Future collection, which is a list of books and movies I don't currently have, but hope to read/watch some day in the future. 

Another new Collection I've added is Library Loan. It is a list of the books I currently have out from the library, a list that is far too long right now!

Strangers With Candy


I forgot to add that I watched Strangers With Candy the other day with a friend of mine.  We had just finished watching the soul-crushing Patriots defeat at the hands of the hated Colts, so I asked for something funny and easy on the brain.  Well, it is at least the latter.  It was moderately entertaining, as principles Stephen Colbert (yes, that Stephen Colbert), Amy Sadaris and Paul Dinello took their shortlived TV satire to the big screen.  It tells the story  of a middle-aged ex-con who re-enrolls in high school in order to bring her comatose father back to life.

Funny in spots, although not laugh out loud funny, really.  My friend said he watched it again the next day and that it was better if you were more alert and less buzzed than we were.  I'm not sure it would be worth watching again, as my Netflix queue stretches over 100 movies, but it might happen.

The Blonde


Woo wee, that was a fun, fast, furious ride! I just finished up "The Blonde" by Duane Swierczynski, after just starting it a couple of days ago.  Yeah, it is short but it is also in that "nearly impossible to put down" category.  You just have to see what happens next.  I think I'll have to pick up his debut novel, "The Wheelman". I mean, you have to have high hopes for a mystery thriller that starts out:

"I poisoned your drink,"

"Excuse me?"

"You heard me."

"Um, I don't think I did."

The blonde lifted her cosmopolitan. "Cheers."

And then doesn't let you go for a second.  The book is very accurately described on the back cover thusly:

It's your typical love story: Boy meets girl. Girl kidnaps boy. Boy loses girl and is pursued by a profiessional killer carrying a decaptitated head in a gym bag.

There's poison, nano-technology, heads blowing up, assinations, puking, cab rides and even a little kinky sex.  Swierczynski does a pretty good job of keeping it all straight, although there was a least one gaping logical hiccup.  But in a book so short and so fast, I hardly even noticed.  If you like mystery/thrillers at all, you owe it to yourself to grab this book!

I'd also like to add a shoutout to lulubird6 for her pointer to Library Elf, a great new web app that interacts with your library and sends you a daily email telling you of the status of your books.  It also includes a recommendation for other books that might interest you (what doesn't, these days?).  It has already pointed out one overdue book I have.  Really nice service!

The Blonde
Duane Swierczynski

Vox Hunt: My (kids') Wubby

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Photo: Still have your security blankie? Your teddy bear? Show us a lil' slice of your childhood.
Submitted by cattymcattums.

I don't have pictures from my childhood, nor did I really have a blankie. But I can borrow from my kids, right? Here is a picture of their "guys".  PJ is on the left and Bubbles (or "Bubba") is on the right.  PJ is hugely important to my youngest, while Bubba is just my oldest's main squeeze, as it were. Very well worn, both of them, but PJ is especially well loved...

100 Books


There's a meme floating around here on Vox with a pretty random selection of 100 books, so I figured I'd jump in.  I added another category of highlighting - I struck out books I've either read or started to read that I wish I hadn't:-)

Look at the list of books below. Bold the ones you've read, underline
the ones you have read a bit from but never finished, italicize the
ones you might/want to read in the future, cross out the ones you
won't touch with a 10-foot pole, and do not do anything to the
ones you've never heard of.

1. The DaVinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride And Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone with the Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (Lucy Maud Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)  
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shruged ( Ann rynd)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. Gift & Award Bible NIV (Various)
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela's Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She's Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52.  A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender's Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaids tale ( Attwood)
60. The Time Traveler's Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview with a Vampire ( anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brahares)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones' Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn(Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte's Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard's First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander ( Jane Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

High Fidelity

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Not the movie but rather the book.  I love the movie and have been meaning to read the book for awhile, and then I saw mention of it here on a Vox blog, so I decided to grab it from the library and finally check it out.  And it was worth it, although I think I like the movie better.

High Fidelity is the story of a music-obsessed mid-30s guy who has just broken up with his long-time live-in girlfriend.  He thinks a lot about women, relationships, music and sex and, when they finally get back together again, he thinks about them even more. A very funny, easy to read novel with some interesting insights into the war between the sexes.  I enjoyed the book, and it had a couple of laugh out loud moments.  The biggest drawback was the British point of view.  I didn't understand too many of the pop culture references, although I did catch most of the music ones.  There were also a few British idioms that had me scratching my head.  For instance, when he was talking with Charlie (one of his ex-girlfriends, a member of his all-time top five breakups), he said that he "took the piss out of Charlie" and, a few paragraphs later, he was "sending her up".  No idea what these mean!

The movie did a remarkable job at keeping to the spirit and even the dialog of the book. I liked it better than the book because it was geared more towards my American sensibilities. That, and great performances by Cusack and Jack Black. But I'm glad I read the book and I could definitely understand all too well the narrator's wonderment and befuddlement over the female persuasion.

High Fidelity
Nick Hornby

Netflix collection

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I've just added a "Netflix" collection. This will reflect the three movies I currently have out from Netflix. I've been using them for years, as I was a very early adopter.  I did stop my membership for about a year, as the turnaround time for the movies was getting worse.  But then they opened a distribution center in Worcestor and now my turnaround time is pretty incredible.  I dropped my last one (Pillow Book) in the mail Saturday afternoon and I just received my newest one (Le Cerce Rouge) today.  Pretty nice!

"Negro President"

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Fascinating portrait of the early years in our political history.  The "Negro President" in the title is Thomas Jefferson, so called because he was elected on the backs of the slaves who counted as 3/5 of a person when figuring out how many representatives a state got in the House, which ultimately decided the Presidency back then.  It also contains a good description of Thomas Pickering, a long-forgotten abolitionist champion, who fought Jefferson's power grabs at all turns.  Yet another non-flattering Jefferson portrait, to go along with the one I read in a recent book on Adams, Jefferson, Washington and Hamilton, the title of which escapes me.  But it was interesting to see the struggles of the young nation, as it tries to find its way using the unprecedented legislative process.  A little disjointed though, as I guess it was adapted from magazine articles and talks WIllis gave, but still a good read nonetheless.

The Pillow Book


Typically strange Peter Greenaway fare, The Pillow Book follows the life of a woman who, as a girl, was painted on by her author father on her birthday.  She begins a lifelong quest to find a replacement for this love, someone to paint on her and make her feel young again.  She eventually finds him in Ewan McGregor, in one of his earlier (and most explicit!) roles.  But she loses him in a spite of jealous rage and suffers greatly.

Greenaway's The Cook the Thief His Wife & Her Lover is a favorite movie of mine, but this movie never grabbed me. It had its interesting cinematographic twists, certainly, but the main story wasn't that interesting, nor was the main character, a bit of a self-indulgent egotist.  It dragged in places and, well, I just wouldn't recommend it.

Lost, The First Season

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My friend and I have been watching "Lost" over the past few weeks. He comes over every Wednesday night and we usually play a computer game for a bit and then watch "The Sopranos".  We finished up the third season a few months ago and have been watching "Lost" since then.  We watched the fifth episode the other night. 

So far, it has been pretty good. I knew I was going to want to watch it on DVD, so I've been assiduously avoiding all mention of it online and in print, so it's all come as a surprise to me, except for the basic idea - the survivors of a horrific plane crash on a (deserted?) island try to hold out until rescue comes.  I've found it to be intriguing, if a bit over the top.  Everything feels a little too frenetic but it is still fun to watch. I guess in an hour show on commercial TV, you don't have time for leisurely exposition.  Every story and subplot has to grab the audience by the throat. Or rip a head off...

Because of Winn-Dixie

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Forgot to mention another movie I watched over the weekend - "Because of Winn-Dixie".  I taped (tivo'd? dvr'd?) this movie to watch with my girls (6 & 7) and we all enjoyed it quite a bit.  Predictable by my standards, but a good one to watch with the kids.  Some adult themes that probably went right over their heads. I don't think they knew what to make of the various allusions to alcoholism.  The warning before it said something about "Mild Violence" but I'm not sure I remember any of that.  There were tears a-plenty when the dog, of course, went missing for a bit, but all was well by the end of the movie. Solid acting by the old hands supporting cast, including Cicely Tyson, Eva Marie-Saint and Jeff Daniels, along with an impressive debut of the little girl,  AnnaSophia Robb and by the dog.

Game 6

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Author Dom DeLillo penned this intense and excruciatingly funny paean to morbid Red Sox fans.  Michael Keaton is a New York playwright who's most important play is about to open on the same evening as Game 6 of the 1986 World Series is to be played between the New York Mets and his beloved Boston Red Sox.  Other distractions include the threat of a review by the most scabrous of theater critics, a wife who wants a divorce and a daughter he never communicates with.  The bar scene is almost too intense for this diehard Red Sox fan to watch, as he takes along a cab driver and her grandson to watch the game.  The two of them conspire to get Keaton believing in the Red Sox and humanity in general.  "Life is Good". But, as any Red Sox fan knows, terrible things are about to happen.

This was a wonderfully poignant and intense film, but maybe just for Sox fans.  The edge added by the intensely personal anguish felt watching that game makes it almost unbearable to watch.  I think a viewing of this should be immediately followed by an antidote - "Fever Pitch" ends much better!


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Didn't do much movie watching, as I was busy watching football! Most importantly, I watched my beloved Patriots somehow beat the vaunted San Diego Chargers, 24-21 on Sunday.  The game was incredibly thrilling and the end result just a tad unbelievable!

I did read some of a book I got for Christmas - Keith Olberman's "Worst Person In The World". It's a good book to read when you don't have much time to concentrate on things, as each page lists his three worst people in the world for a particular day since his Countdown show started doing it a few years ago.  He also goes into some (2 or 3 pages) depth on a couple of his favorite characters, like BillO and Roger Clemens.  Fun read!

Jurassic Park: The Lost World

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Awful sequel to Jurassic Park. Predictable, dumb and loud.  Jeff Goldblum can't carry a movie, especially a bad action flick.  Well, he was good in The Fly remake. But not this one. Avoid at all costs. The only reason it didn't get one star was because the special effects were great.

World War Z

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The narrator interviews various suvivors of World War Z, the nearly apocalyptic war against zombies. Cool conceit and I love how the story unfolds in pieces, and it's assumed you know of the things they talk about in passing (everything has been explained so far). Having lots of fun with this one.

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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