Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Doug Loves Movies - 5 Reasons Why

As I write this, I am sitting in the crowded waiting room of a Honda dealership, waiting for the front brakes to be replaced on my car. 

I am certain the people around me think I am insane.  It’s my own fault.  I can’t stop laughing because I’m listening to Doug Benson’s podcast ‘Doug Loves Movies’.  Attempts to muffle my laughter just end up with me snarfing into my winter jacket, and that’s just super unattractive.  So now I’m not only crazy, I’m also the gross girl with snarf all over her coat sleeve.  I really shouldn’t listen to these things in public places.

If you’re not familiar with DLM, the structure of an episode is pretty basic.  The first half is essentially a talk show about movies, during which Doug chats with his guests about the most recent films they’ve seen.  Following the chat portion of the show, the guests are challenged to play against one another in a variety of movie trivia games, setting the stakes by selecting an audience member to play for.

I have a 45-minute commute to and from work.  Listening to DLM consistently ensures that the time flies by, making it hands down my favorite podcast of 2013.   Here’s why it should be yours too.

One – As I mentioned above, DLM is frequently laugh-out-loud funny.  Doug usually invites 3 – 4 guests to each episode, and he’s a natural and gregarious host.  If it sounds as if you’re listening in on friends chatting at a dinner party, that’s probably because the guest list is often populated with Doug’s close pals.  It helps that Doug’s friends include famous funny people such as Adam Scott, Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer, Scott Aukerman, and Jon Hamm.  (Side note – Even stripped of his handsome card due to the audio-only format of DLM, Jon Hamm is consistently one of the funniest, quickest and most engaging guests on the show.  Once, during an impromptu conversation about the Tom Hanks weepie, Hamm once made a joking, off the cuff reference to Philadelphia as ‘the place where AIDS was perfected’, making me think he has a back up career in stand up if this whole gorgeous actor gig doesn’t work out for him.)

Practically Perfect in Every Way.
He's like the male Mary Poppins.  Only hotter.  Much, much hotter.  And funnier too.
Two – The podcast engages your brain.  Yes, you read that right.  As a self-proclaimed movie enthusiast, I consistently delight in the part of the show where the games are played.  Sure, the games aren’t too taxing on the brain, but they are definitely good fun.  The simplest of the bunch is called ‘How Much Did This Shit Make’, in which Doug asks guests to estimate how much a given movie made in total domestic box office sales.  (Side note - My favorite part is that Price is Right regulations are adhered to, so guesses need to be made without going over the actual amount.)

The mother of all games on DLM is the ‘Leonard Maltin Game’, which is played using Maltin’s movie review app.  Maltin sometimes even gets in on the action by stopping by and guesting on the show in person.  Spoiler alert – he pretty much sucks at the game, but it’s fun to listen to him play.  I won’t go into full detail about the game here.  Like most party games, it’s difficult to explain, but easy to learn once you listen in on a few rounds.  Suffice to say, each category tickles your brain to come up with long forgotten facts.  Adding to the fun, if you come up with an answer and the guest just isn’t getting it, you can shout at your radio with undeserved righteous abandon.  “How can you be wrong Ken Jennings?!?!? The answer was SO obvious! OMG AM I SMARTER THAN YOU?!”  By the properties of logic, since I’ve bested Ken Jennings at random movie trivia from the privacy of my Honda Civic, I’d kill it on Jeopardy.  Right?  Don’t answer that.  I’m totally right.

Three – You can experience the podcast live and in person. Although the show is based out of the UCB Theater in LA, Doug frequently travels and stops in all sorts of cities around the country.  Thankfully he makes frequent trips to NYC, because I’ve seen DLM at the Grammercy Theater in NYC multiple times, and each time is more fun than the last.  The Grammercy has a bar at which adult beverages can be purchased, increasing the fun level all the way to ‘11’.  Remember when I said that the guests pick an audience member to play for?  DLM fans are a fun bunch, toting along homemade nametags of all shapes and sizes to the show. Perusing the nametags is often a super entertaining part of the show.  Super extra bonus – if one of your seat neighbors brought something edible that’s not chosen by a guest, guess who gets to help eat it?  That’s right, it’s all you, you lucky devil. 

(Side note - Doug announced last week that he’s bringing DLM’s annual ’12 Guests of Christmas’ episode to NYC in December of 2014.  Who’s coming with me?  I’ll even bring an edible nametag to up the ante.)

Four – Doug and his guests often provide helpful reviews of recent (and past) movie releases. Not too much to elaborate on here, I just appreciate a good and honest conversation about a film.  Even when I disagree with the opinions presented on the podcast, I enjoy having something to ponder while I cruise down the decidedly non-scenic strip of highway that is Route 95 in Southern CT.

(Disclaimer –If you’re looking for the ‘movie’ part of Doug Loves Movies, you generally won’t find it on episodes featuring Jeff Garlin, T.J. Miller or Pete Holmes.  In fact, you probably won’t find too much of ‘Doug’ or ‘Loves’ either. Although these eps are pretty hilarious, they can be frustrating without prior warning.) 

Five – DLM has the catchiest podcast theme song I’ve ever heard.  And I listen to a LOT of podcasts.  I catch myself singing the song at random intervals throughout my day, and once even started mindlessly humming it while trying to pick a ripe avocado in the produce section of my grocery store.

Laughing uncontrollably and singing in public.....it’s a wonder no one’s tried to commit me yet.  DLM clearly makes me a little crazy, but in the best way. 

Which brings me to Five and a Half – It’s FREE on iTunes.  So no excuses.  Let DLM bring a little cheer to your commute in 2014.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Lou Reed - 5 Reasons Why

So my album of the year is not technically an album. 

This post is half cop out and half tribute.  If I’m being completely honest, year after year I lose a bit of my passion for pursuing new music.  As I put more mileage between my current self and my college self, I tend to tenaciously hold on to what I know and love, and spend less and less time exploring the unknown.

I suppose that’s why in lieu of listening to Miley Cyrus’s new album and ferociously debating her controversial ‘Wrecking Ball’ video in the last few weeks of 2013 like most hip people below the age of 25 did, I chose a different route.  

I mourned.  I mourned the death of Lou Reed, and punk, and a world where every single move by a musician wasn’t choreographed by some agent or label ravenously seeking publicity.  I mourned a time when groundbreaking artists were actually judged on the merit of and passion for their work.

Don’t get me wrong; I still give the former Ms. Montana credit for bringing music videos back into vogue, even if it was only for a brief moment.  Yet, whether she knows it or not, she owes a debt to Mr. Lou Reed.  And whether you know it or not, you do too. 

Lou Reed’s legacy looms larger than any single year or even a single decade.  He is a bonafide legend.  And legends are timeless. Need more reasons to love Reed?  The following are 5 reasons to persuade you to put down that album with the naked pop star, and pick yourself up a piece of musical history. 

One – Don’t think you know who Lou Reed is?  You do.  You definitely do.  If these songs aren’t indelibly etched in your mind, they need to be, so click on.

Walk on the Wild Side

Sunday Morning (Velvet Underground and Nico)

Perfect Day

Sound familiar?  I can practically feel you nodding.  It’s a testament to Lou Reed’s talent that you know his music before you know who he is as an individual.  Incalculable musicians have been influenced by his music, and if you don’t know the songs above, treat yourself to a belated Christmas gift and click on over to amazon and purchase either the Velvet Underground’s first album, or Lou Reed’s first solo album Transformer, produced by none other than David Bowie.  Or use iTunes or Spotify.  Or pirate it.  Rebel that he was, Lou probably wouldn’t care if you got it for free, as long as you listened.  Bottom line, just listen. 

Two – Reed was an integral part of the punk boom in New York City.  As documented in the oral history of punk "Please Kill Me", pop artist Andy Warhol’s involvement with the Velvet Underground helped legitimize the punk ‘scene’ in NYC, giving leeway to the bad behaviors of eventually groundbreaking bands such as Television, the Ramones, and Iggy and the Stooges.  If you have ever felt even a slight affinity with punk culture, or have ever lamented the loss of pre-Giuliani ‘gritty NYC’, “Please Kill Me” is required reading for your next snow day.

Three – Reed tried his best to be unlikeable but cool. He avidly followed his passion for creating music that made sense to him, audience be damned.  While his ‘punk’ contemporaries were quite loud, Reed had a subdued tone that truly felt like a Sunday morning.  His most popular albums exuded a relaxed and indifferent cool amidst a chaotic, nomadic, perpetually intoxicated life.

Four – A few months before his death, Reed took the time out to write a review of what is probably the actual best album of 2013.  Despite his near debilitating illness, he wrote a lively and engaging review of Kanye West's 'Yeezus'.  Even at deaths door, Reed had his finger to the pulse of contemporary music, and as evidenced by his near ubiquitous praise for West's album, continued to champion the idea of creating music for oneself, and not for anyone else.  

Five - Lou Reed died on October 27th, 2013.  My fiancée Chris and I coincidentally had tickets to a Phish show that evening.  As the members of Phish have been vocal about being influenced by the works of Lou Reed, we speculated that the band would open with the Velvet Underground song, ‘Rock and Roll’.  They did.  And it was magnificent.  The entire crowd at the Hartford XL Center sang along with the words and swayed in unison.  For the majority of the concertgoers, I can only imagine that Reed’s music was a discovery made at some point in college or high school.  Whether the find was made via an album passed down from an older brother or sister, a snippet heard in a music history course, or, like me, discovered after becoming throughly intoxicated by the undulating highs and lows of 'Heroin' played in the background at a house party.  To me, Reed's fans, both young and old, remembered his music on that day.  I’d like to think that perhaps some new fans were even created in that very moment, simultaneously basking in the memory of an icon and eagerly anticipating the promise of his legacy. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Hyperbole and a Half - 5 Reasons Why

2013 was a great year for entertainment.  This is the first in a 5 part series on my ‘Bests’ of 2013, starting with the ‘Best Book of 2013’.

Hyperbole and a Half is the best blog that you’re probably not reading.  If you are reading it, you deserve a gold star.  Here you go!
This star is ecstatic that you have such wonderful taste in blogs.

If you don’t read the blog, don’t worry! You can definitely still earn that gold star.  In fact, you’ve probably seen the work of Hyperbole’s creator, Allie Brosh, all over the web and not even realized it.  You know the ‘All of the Things’ meme?  Yeah, Allie’s responsible for that.  The post in which that phrase originated is in her book, aptly titled ‘Hyperbole and a Half’, that was published back in October.  Just like the blog, the book sets simplistic, vibrant, comic-like drawings against well-written and often laugh-out-loud stories. 

The book is great.  For oh so many reasons. 

One – First, in this increasingly digitized world, ‘Hyperbole’ is a rare reason to get a physical copy of the book.  It’s just about 10 bucks on amazon, and it’s completely worth it.  The book is brightly colored, with each chapter on a different colored backing.  Viewed from the side, the book showcases delightful rainbow stripes of color.  The pages themselves are high quality, glossy paper that provides a great platform for Allie’s drawings to pop off the page.  The weight and feel of the paperback book in my hands was also a delight for me, maybe just because I could now carry around a piece of my favorite blog in book form.

Two – Allie bravely tackles complex issues, such as a recent bout of severe, debilitating depression in her own life.  These posts are thoughtful, touching and unexpectedly funny.  Her writing and accompanying images so accurately depict what it’s like to battle with depression that I have occasionally copied the chapters and used them as handouts for some of my clients who struggle with mental illness.   Quite frequently the clients react to the handouts with a mixture of relief and gratitude for knowing that someone else has gone through what they are experiencing. 

Three – Allie Brosh is a delightfully odd and openhearted woman.  Case in point - when I first started this blog about 4 years ago, her blog was on the cusp of superstar status.  I reached out to her via e-mail, requesting feedback on how to increase traffic to my own blog, and she not only responded with a lengthy response, but also drew me a unique monster.  He is awesome and now lives on my laptop background.  She used to have this thing where if you requested a monster, she would send you one, no questions asked.  Not like I would know what type of questions are required for creation of a monster…but I digress.

My monster.  I love him to an irrational degree.
Obviously as Allie now has millions of visitors to her site on a daily basis, she can no longer keep up with monster demand.  Yet, I hear that she continues her tradition of getting to know her fans on a deeper level as book signings can last hours and hours.  I hear she takes time out to draw pictures for and chat with each and every person waiting in line to see her.  For more evidence as to how fantastic Allie is, click here for her interview with Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air podcast. 

Four – Once you’re done with the book, you’ll still have the entire blog to read.  Allie did include a few previously published posts from her blog in the book, but not nearly all of them.  Some highlights include 'The Alot Is Better Than You At Everything', all Spaghetta Nadle posts, and a post entitled 'It's Too Late to Apologize Kyle...But Do You Still Want to See Me Strip?'  in which she responds to a hater named Kyle by doing a raucously funny striptease in which she strips off countless layers of clothing without ever showing any real skin. 

Like people binge watch Netflix shows, you’ll very likely be sucked into the blog, fiendishly and obsessively consuming her posts from start to finish.  You’ve been warned.

Five – Laughter.  Allie has the ability to make anyone laugh.  Anyone, you say?  All ages, you say?  Do you have proof?  Well, here you go.

My sweet little niece can’t even read yet, but she just knows this book is funny. 
That’s how potent the funny is. 
We could certainly all use a little more laughter and happiness in our lives, and Allie nails it time after time.  So, give yourself a little present this holiday season.  Hop on over to amazon and get the book

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Walking Dead - Live Bait Recap and Musings

This past Monday, I was so excited to discuss the latest episode of Walking Dead.  I loved every minute of it, and was delightfully surprised by the show runners decisions throughout the episode. My fiancée doesn’t watch the show (he’s still going through Breaking Bad withdrawal) and I knew that some of my clients were avid fans. 

So when I got into work, I polled my first group of the day – my teenage group.  They hated it.  Some choice phrases used to describe the episode are as follows - “OMG last night suuuuucked!”  “Seriously? That episode was dumb annoying.” (Apparently ‘dumb’ is now slang for ‘really’.  I dumb need to get with the times. Am I using that right?  I don’t think I’m using it right….)

I was shocked.  But only for a second.  Once I thought about it for a minute, I could definitely see how the show had set viewers up for a ‘Governor Vs. Prison-ites Cage Match to the Death’, and then disappointed when it didn’t deliver. 

In a nutshell, ‘Live Bait’ is a study in the Governor as man, not monster.  The episode begins with a flashback of the Governor directly where viewers left him.  After he slaughtered his people, he becomes numb and unfeeling, a shell of a man.  He leaves with his two henchmen, but wakes up the next morning to find that they have abandoned him.  

Here, one of the most captivating montages in WD history begins.  Taking an 18-wheeler, the Governor plows through the gates to his once idyllic Woodbury and literally burns it to the ground.  With no purpose, he begins to walk the earth from end to end like a deranged Forrest Gump.  He wanders the abandoned streets, without purpose, appearing to hope for death, when he spies a little girl in a window.  He decides that death on the street can wait, and investigates.  Within the building he finds a family – two sisters, Lilly and Tara, their father, and Lilly’s daughter Megan, who looks strikingly like Penny, the Governor’s once zombified daughter.

At first, our anti-hero is slow to warm to the family.  Not wanting to let them in, he rejects an offer of Spaghetti-Os, which is considered a five star meal in the zomb-pocalypse.  However, despite his rejection of their Southern hospitality, the family begins asking him for favors.  Grandpa requests that he go find a backgammon board in another apartment, and then Lilly asks that he go to a nursing home and procure tanks of oxygen for Grandpa.  The Governor does these things without much complaint, and following his trip to the nursing home he gets the opportunity to have a one-on-one chat with the precocious Megan.  Here, the Governor appears to be genuine and exposes himself to be an open, raw nerve.  He hoarsely laughs at Megan’s jokes, almost appearing to test what it’s like to feel again.  This exchange appears to give him a reason to live, and in the very next scene he is transformed.  We see him clean-shaven and playing a spirited game of chess with his new daughter figure. 

Grandpa dies, then reanimates.  The Governor saves Tara from being bitten as he smashes Grandpa’s zombie skull in with an oxygen tank, buries him, and then goes to leave.  Lilly runs after him and asks to come with him.  The Governor agrees, and takes his new useless lady posse on the road.  Of course the truck they are in breaks down, and they have to hoof it.  (Side note - In an interesting bit of conversation between Lilly and Tara, that could have easily been overlooked, we find out that Tara is gay.)  Very quickly into their walkabout, the group runs into a gaggle of walkers.  They break into a run, and the Governor ends up carrying Megan.  As he runs through the woods, he falls into a walker trap and has to fend off several walkers bare-handed in order to protect his new charge.  After the coast is clear, Megan reaches up and hugs him, making him promise that he’ll protect her.  Just as he starts to promise her the moon, the Governor looks up and sees Martinez hovering over them.  End scene.

Like I said, I enjoyed this episode.  I would go so far as to say that I am happy that we didn’t get a chance to see The Governor Vs. The Prison.  As I am a fan of the unexpected (see – my undying love for LOST and Breaking Bad) I felt that this episode was true to humanity.  This entire season is far more realistic in scope than previous seasons, as it is focusing on human tendencies, both good and bad, as well as problems within the scope of normal human existence, such as loss, illness and betrayal.  Yeah, sure there are still walkers/biters/monsters/whatchamacalits to deal with, but that just makes the stakes all the higher. 

Despite all the horrible things we’ve seen him do, the Governor isn’t a monster.  No man is a true monster.  We all live somewhere in a gray area.  Some are a darker shade of gray than others.  Some WAY darker than others, but the episode illustrated that there is even a glimmer of hope inside the nasty, evil Governor.  Now, do I expect him to turn the other cheek for more than one episode?  In all likelihood, he probably won’t.  Yet – a part of me thinks that it would be incredibly captivating to see him do something unexpected at the prison.  I hope that the explanation for the Governor’s presence outside of the prison isn’t as simple as an all out attack.  Perhaps he’s there to ask for asylum for Megan, his new Penny proxy?   Maybe to wave the white flag with a redemptive offer of supplies or information?  Or maybe he’s there for any single other motive other than complete annihilation of our gang. 

But, again, given the reaction of my clients, probably not. 

It was daring of the writers and show runners to take a breather from the smirking-Governor-outside-the-prison cliffhanger, especially with such a highly rated show as The Walking Dead.  While I hope for more twists in the plot, I know that the majority of America is hoping for that showdown. 

For me, the most interesting showdowns are the internal, not the external.  This season we have seen many thought-provoking examples of internal struggle versus external.  Bob Stookey wrestling with the bottle of booze in '30 Days Without An Accident', Hershel struggling to decide whether to enter Cell Block A to tend to the sick and dying in 'Isolation', and in this episode, the Governor debating whether to reach out for human contact or die alone.  This is where the heart of The Walking Dead beats.   In the WD universe, the fundamentals of the world have changed, but human nature has remained the same. For better and for worse.   

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Walking Dead - It's the Story of a Lovely Lady...

Of course it happened.  I got the flu.  And as I watched the last two episodes of the Walking Dead, I sympathized hard with the characters in the prison.  I can’t imagine having the flu without the comforts of my couch, Netflix and a carton of Tropicana.  Yeah, I’m pretty much doomed in the apocalypse. 

Due to my illness, I skipped last weeks recap.   Instead, I was clutching my carton of pulpless OJ for dear life.  But I did watch the last two episodes.  And maybe it was the haze of congestion and a mild fever, but Carol started to fascinate me.  She has slowly and surely increased her value in the post-zombie world.  This season I’ve found that she has quickly become one of the most interesting characters on the show.  As her time on screen became more and more interesting, she got closer and closer to being off the show.  Now she’s gone.  Exiled by Rick.  And I can’t help but think that Carol is better equipped for this new world than Rick is.

Oh, Rick what have you done?

We have seen Carol evolve from a meek, frequently screaming woman to an unflinching woman who basically doesn’t scream at all anymore.  She makes hard decisions not based on personal preference or emotion, but makes rational, effective analyses of any given situation.  Due to her history with a seriously abusive relationship, Carol is operating on ‘Fight or Flight’.  While the pre-apocalypse Carol would have likely chosen ‘Flight’, the new Carol chooses to stand and fight every time. 

The first time we met Carol she was being harassed by her disgusting misogynist of a husband, Ed.  She hadn’t yet shed the trappings of her abusive relationship, and apparently Ed wasn’t having any second thoughts regarding his bad behavior even though the world was collapsing around him.  Thankfully, Ed the pig only lasted a few episodes before he became a midnight walker snack.  When he died, the rage and power inside Carol surfaced.  She surprised Daryl when she repeatedly hacked Ed’s dead head to pieces with an axe.  Daryl took notice of Carol, and one of the most interesting relationships of the show was born. 

Then, a season later, Sophia died…and then died a second barn zombie death.  It’s like a regular Oregon Trail up in this piece for poor Carol.  “Ed has died.”, “Sophia has died.”, “Sophia has died…again.”.  But she moved on, kept her head up, and kept herself busy.  Season Three brought us Carol as multi-tasker, and one of her most memorable moments was when she went out to the prison fence by herself and killed a walker for the sole purpose of C-Section practice.  Unfortunately she didn’t get to utilize those skills, and T-Dogg gave his life for her during the prison alarm debacle.  She went missing for a bit, but then her buddy Daryl found her.  She was a consummate survivor. 

The defining moment for New Carol came when she was engaging in a mild flirtation with Axel in the prison yard when, BAM! his head gets blown off.  Carol doesn’t miss a beat.  She doesn’t get emotional, she reacts, throwing herself behind his body as a human shield. 

This season, just as she gets a juicy storyline (and some pretty diesel boots) Carol is exiled by Rick.  Because he’s threatened by her.  Maybe it’s because of her choice to kill Karen and David in an attempt to curb the spread of the flu, but it could also be because she intimidates him as a strong and decisive leader.  He has a right to be.  She’s better adapted to this new world than Rick is. 

Rick continues to resist the realities of the new world.  He wants to hold on to the old.  Where he gets to be a cop, and hold up order.  Well, order in this world is different.  Carol knows that and has adapted.  Will Rick be able to adapt?  He is our consummate hero, and has been impressed/suprised by all the things that Carol has been doing on the show over the last few episodes.  His mouth was literally agape on multiple occasions, such as when she treated the hippie Sam's dislocated shoulder, and when she fixed the water pump .  But he's afraid because he cant adapt.  He can’t let the past go and move into this horrifying future.  He’s made the decision to step back up as a leader, and for that to happen he needs to oust another leader.  Unfortunately for Carol, that leader was her.  Somehow, I think she’ll be ok.

Carol’s evolution on the show has been slow, but steady.  Organic and believable. Carol’s character is an example of an individual who flourishes under pressure.  She is determined to not be a victim again.  No.  She is strong and will not let the world get her down, even if that means putting her guard up.  She has adjusted to the new world without having to be a warrior or losing her nurturing feminine side.  Sure, she’s brusque with Meeka and Lizzie, but it’s for their own good.  She’s straightforward with them, whereas Rick isn’t with his son.  He’s too permissive.  Carl is the strong one in that relationship.  Carl is going to be mad that Carol’s gone for sure.   So is Daryl.

(Aside – in the media, relationships always seem to need some sort of hard and fast definition as ‘romantic’ or ‘conflicted’, etc.  It was so great to see Daryl and Carol’s relationship as an ambiguous and undefined twosome.  I’m going to miss that a lot.) 

I’m curious as to how the other characters are going to react to Carol’s exile. Is Rick going to tell them the truth?  If he lies, it will be telling that he saw Carol not as a threat to the camp, but only as a threat to himself.  If he tells the truth, there might be hell to pay.

Carol was a likeable female character on the show, and just as she started to get really interesting, poof, she’s gone.  Hopefully not for too long though.  Maybe she’ll hook up with Morgan and they’ll be an unstoppable team.  That’s my dream scenario.   She's a survivor.  I bet she'll be back. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Walking Dead - Infected Recap

This weeks episode opens on someone treating the walkers to a little midnight snack.  An anonymous person dangles an enormous rat up to the chain link fence, and the walkers scramble to gobble it up. 

Meanwhile, Karen and Tyreese are engaging in a nauseating make out sesh in the library.  Tyreese starts to sing, “I’ve got you under my skin”.  Please someone make it stop.  All I can think is, “please let Patrick stumble in and bite them both right in the face, ending this misery.” Zombie Patrick doesn’t heed my wishes, but he does indeed stir as Karen makes her way back to her bunk in D Block.  He follows her sound, stumbling past Karen’s cell and into some random guys cell, going straight for the jugular.  Do these zombies ever actually eat brains?

The next morning, Patrick is still noshing on what looks like a human drumstick as the gang starts to wake up and face the day.

Maggie and Glen are camped out in the tower, keeping watch. There’s that team spirit kids!  Glenn gets the Polaroid out and snaps a pic of Maggie sleeping.  She looks at it and tells him to throw it away.  Chicks still got vanity despite the apocalypse.  She doesn’t put up too much of a fuss though when Glenn says he’s going to keep it.  They’re sweet.

Michonne is leaving.  Any requests?  Stale M&M’s?  (Side note - How quickly do M&M’s go stale?  How long has the world been wacky?  I guess at this point we can kind of go by how old Judith is, and she appears to be somewhere around 7 – 9 months old, so about 1.5 - 2 years total?  I don’t think M&M’s go stale that fast.  Mmmm now I want M&M’s.  Sorry.  End side note.) She asks why Carl doesn’t wear his hat anymore.  He replies by saying it’s not a farming hat, and he is correct.  Carl asks - see you soon?  She says pretty soon.

The fence bends against the weight of the walkers as Carl and Rick go collect some wormy feed for the pigs.  Carl apologizes, and then asks for his gun back.  Rick doesn’t have a chance to respond, because shots ring out from inside the prison.  Michonne impulsively returns on her horse, and walkers start to stumble inside as Carl goes to let her in.  Carl shoots one in the head, as Michonne twists her ankle while tussling with a few walkers.  Maggie and Carl help Michonne inside and close the gate. 

Inside the prison it’s total pandemonium.  Wow.  Lots of people dead and turned.  Somehow Patrick is still alive.  How on earth have so many people been turned into zombies?  And why are all these people screaming and doing absolutely nothing?  The new people are all totally worthless and deserve to be zombie breakfast.  D block is a nightmare. (This episode brought to you by the letter D – Dumb, Dismembered and Dead.)

In the midst of the melee, Carol goes to help a newbie who’s arm has been bitten.  She readies him for an emergency amputation, but sees that his neck has been bitten.  And we all know you can’t amputate a neck. 

Daryl, Glenn and Rick continue to clear the area, and Daryl finally puts an arrow in Patrick’s head.  (Side note - Seriously, how did the people in D Block survive before the prison?  I’m thinking that they’re possibly all the Woodbury transfers, but that doesn’t explain the guy with the arm and neck bites, because as an able bodied male he would’ve certainly been a casualty of the Governor’s army.  Maybe our gang just put all the stupid people in one block.) 

The three men survey the damage.  A blonde is on the ground, dead but not turned.  Daryl swiftly shoots her in the head.  With a nod, Rick steps into another cell and readies his knife. 

What an evening has wrought.  The gang discovers that Patrick has no bites on him.  With the help of a new doctor guy and Hershel, they ascertain that he choked to dead on his own blood.  New doc explains that it’s the flu saying, “Bugs like to run through close quarters”.  Everyone’s been exposed. 

(Side note – Well this blows.  This situation reminds me of a chapter in Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’.  In the first third of King’s novel, a virus runs rampant and kills off the majority of the population, leaving a small percentage of people alive.  Sound familiar?  It’s the situation our gang is in, but no zombies.  If you haven’t read it do yourself a favor and go get it immediately.  The chapter I remember so vividly details that calamity could befall even those ‘lucky’ enough to have immunity to the virus.  King lists casualty after casualty from falls, heart attacks, fires, drug overdoses, electrocution, etc.  This year the gang needs to learn how to survive the world, because nature – both human and Mother will not let up just because a virus wiped out the majority of humanity.)

Carol brings the girls come to say goodbye to their dad.  They hold his hand and he tells them to take care of each other.  The oldest one, Lizzie, says that they should be the ones to let their dad go.  Lizzie tries to do it, but she has a panic attack.  Her younger sister, Mika, tries to talk her through it, telling her to count and breathe.  Lizzie can’t bring herself to do it, so Carol does the deed and ends up with two naïve girls in her charge.

Carl, Michonne and Maggie see Rick coming out of C block, and Carl tells Rick that he had to use the gun.  Michonne corroborates the story.  Rick ignores the gun issue and explains to them what happened with Patrick.  Rick lets them know that as a result, everyone who was directly exposed needs to be quarantined.  Including himself.

The council meets to discuss the situation.  Glenn, Hershel, Carol, Sasha and Daryl.  They decide to move into Cell Block A, otherwise known as death row.  This doesn’t bode well.  Karen walks by, hacking. She wants to go snuggle with Tyreese, death outbreak be damned. The council tells her in no uncertain terms that she is to be quarantined, and especially to avoid contact with Judith.  Karen agrees, but not before tattling on some guy named David who is coughing too.  At this point I cannot wait to see Zombie Karen.  Maybe she’ll off Tyreese too, and this whole annoying plotline can be done with. 

Later, at the fence, Carol talks to the girls, and yells at the older one for being weak and losing her nerve.  Lizzie stares out and starts babbling about how her dad was special and now he’s dead.  At some point it becomes unclear whom she is talking about, and she asks, “What if they kill Nick?” Nick is a zombie, honey.  He’s already dead.  Lizzie’s younger sister yells at her, and tells Carol that Lizzie is, “messed up, not weak.”

Out in the yard, Daryl’s digging graves with a mask on.  Rick comes up to help, and Daryl says that he’s glad Rick is back.  He says that Rick earned the time off, but they need him back.  Daryl’s noticed that every time things get bad, Rick’s, “standing there with a shovel.”  They have a lovely bro-moment.  A’broment’ if you will.

The broment is shattered as Maggie runs up and screams for their help.  The fence is about to give under the weight of the walker horde.  (Side note – For some reason I wondered here:  What happened to the big groups of walkers from season two?  If one of those encountered the fence, wouldn’t it definitely take the entire fence down?) Rick and Daryl pitch in and start to skewer the heads of the walkers. 

Back inside, Beth proves that she’s actually good for something as she wraps Michonne’s foot.  Cutie Judith plays in the corner with some red Solo cups.  They chat, and Michonne tells Beth that they should’ve left her out there.  Beth says that they care about her, and when you care about people, “hurt is part of the package”.  Beth asks if any children were killed.  She wonders if there’s a term for someone who’s lost a child, and Michonne grimaces.  Judith starts to scream, and Michonne asks if she always cries like that.  Beth says that she senses people’s moods. 

Back at the fence, the gang tries to stem the tide of walkers by skewering head after head.  Sasha sees the rats on the ground, and takes the time to wonder if, “someone is feeding these things?”  The fence starts to give, and the team starts to push it back.  Rick seems to be having an epiphany.  He looks over at the pigs and says he knows what to do.  Daryl’s eyes light up.

Carl and Carol chat while Carl makes crosses out of scrap wood.  Carol says that she has to keep teaching the kids to survive.  Carl asks if Carol is going to tell the parents, and she says no.  She says she’s just asking him to not say anything.  Carol: Leader of Children.

Beth sings to Judith as Michonne works her abs.  Judith spits up carrots on Beth, and Michonne is reluctant to take the baby.  Michonne becomes emotional as she looks at Judith’s face, and cuddles the lil one to her forehead.  Michonne begins to cry and instantly becomes my new favorite.  This is the first time she is vulnerable and open on the show, and I truly hope we learn more about her past as the season progresses.  Once again, I wish for LOST-like flashbacks.

Rick and Daryl go on a mission to get the walkers away from the fence.  They drive out and distract the walkers by using the piglets as bait.  It’s pretty graphic stuff as Rick digs a knife into each piglet, drawing blood from each one before letting the walkers devour it.  Ugh.  Blood sprays in Rick’s face.  If he’s not infected by now, he’s got some sort of diesel immune system. 

Once the walker threat his been diffused, Rick starts to disassemble the pig pen.  Carl walks up to him, and lets Rick know what Carol has been doing.  But Carl puts in his two cents, and says he thinks that they should let her continue teaching the kids how to use weapons. Rick agrees, and gives Carl his gun back.  He peels off his bloodied shirt and throws it onto the burning remains of the pigpen.  With a dramatic flair, he secures his holster on his hip and surveys the landscape.

The sheriff is back in town.

As thrilling as the sight of shirtless Sheriff Rick is, the episode has one more surprise in store for us.  Tyreese goes to bring a lovely bunch of wild flowers to Karen in her confinement, and sees a trail of blood leading to two bodies burnt to a crisp.  He notices a metal ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ bracelet on the wrist of one of the corpses, identifying it as Karen.  Tyreese howls in agony and drops to the ground. 

A few notes – Thank goodness Karen is dead.  I couldn’t stand that Karen/Tyreese storyline for one minute longer.  Also, since Tyreese was playing tonsil hockey with Karen while she was infected, does that mean that he’s not too far behind?  Is that little weirdo twerp Lizzie feeding the walkers?  If not, who is?  Lastly, does Rick get a spot on the council just because he decided to strap his gun back on?  Will Carl start wearing his hat again?