And then there is this story from Liberia, which reports that two women killed by Ebola have mysteriously risen from the dead. The two were about to be buried when they returned to life, causing panic in their communities. The news report of the incident helpfully notes: “Since the Ebola outbreak in Nimba County, this is the first incident of dead victims resurrecting.” The report is silent on whether the two women have since exhibited the signs of undead behavior — like staggering around and munching on the brains of the living — that are familiar to any fans of zombie movies.
Of course, under these circumstances jokes about a zombie apocalypse aren’t very funny. The zombie story just highlights the fact that west Africa is totally ill-equipped — culturally, medically, and scientifically — to deal with an outbreak of a highly lethal contagious disease. When you combine superstitious people, the absence of doctors who can reliably diagnose and treat the disease and determine whether its victims are actually dead, an insufficient supply of bodysuits, decontamination supplies, medication, and other necessary supplies, and inadequate sanitation and means of disposing of the bodies of those killed by Ebola, you have created an ideal setting for an uncontrolled epidemic.
Kish and I watched the Game of Thrones season finale and came away vaguely disappointed. It was well-acted and interesting, as always, but vaguely anticlimactic after last week’s big battle — and also unsatisfying because the mystical and magical plot elements seem to be overpowering everything else.
I loved the first season of Game of Thrones because the characters were richly drawn and often highly flawed, the settings were exotic and fascinating, and the intrigue, infighting, and infamous villains made for riveting television. There was some enchantment and sorcery — such as the mystical bond between the Starks and their wolves — but for the most part the story line focused on families and courtiers vying for power in the nest of vipers that is King’s Landing. The deaths of leading characters, showing that no one was safe, made the show even more unpredictable and fun.
This year there’s much more magic, and in the finale there was a lot more magic. There’s a witch who gives birth to black smoke creatures advising one pretender to the throne, a fireproof woman who can command dragons to burn her enemies, the undead marching on civilization, and a swordsman who can change his face. I recognize that the characters live in a world where such things are more common, but frankly I find the magic kind of boring. If a character can just command dragons to breathe fire on her enemies, who’s going to be able to stop her? Where’s the suspense in that?
I’d prefer to see the focus be more on the characters who lack the knack for witchcraft, and who are therefore more vulnerable and interesting than the purveyors of the black arts. I want to see more of the slippery but apparently decent eunuch who has the best interests of the kingdom at heart, mighty mite Tyrion Lannister, who to his own surprise discovered inner courage and cunning enough to save the kingdom from invasion, the giant female warrior who is devoted to Catelyn Stark, and the unconquerable Arya Stark — among others. Let me see the nauseating and loathsome Joffrey Baratheon get his much-needed comeuppance by a sword thrust from a brawny arm, and not by the wave of a wizard’s wand.
Halloween is just around the corner, and a person’s thoughts naturally turn to . . . zombies. We’ve all seen movies about them. We know there is a good chance that, any day now, some misguided government program, alien virus, or bacteria from the bottom of the sea could turn our peaceful fellow citizens into a crowd of ravenous, flesh-gobbling undead.
But what to do to defend your home and loved ones against the scourge of shuffling, groaning ex-humans who hunger for brain tissue? What devices are most likely to thwart or permanently disable the rotting horrors who may be shambling down the street at any moment? Or what if, God forbid, you became a zombie? What if you had to repair that broken arm caused by the terrified bat-wielding neighbors who won’t let you feast on their children, or you needed to remove an eight-inch nail shot into your abdomen? America is crying out for answers to these crucial questions!
Fortunately, the Westlake Ace Hardware Store Zombie Preparedness Center has the answers. It’s an equal opportunity website, too, offering assistance to both human and zombie. For humans hoping to knock off any zombie that might stagger by, the helpful hardware folks recommend nail guns, sledgehammers, chainsaws, shovels, and pickaxes. For zombies, caulk, duct tape, and sealants will come in handy when bodily repairs are needed, whereas air fresheners and carpet cleaners can avoid the embarrassment of undue rotting odor.
In fact, forget Occupy Wall Street! The best thing for our economy right now could be the government’s release of its secret zombie virus, leading to an uprising of Zombie Nation. No other government program is more likely to cause a stimulative run on America’s hardware stores.