Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Lovely Distractions: The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, and Tales of the Apocalypse

We’re exactly two weeks out from the release of Dreamwielder and I’m going a little nutty in anticipation. I’ve been keeping myself busy sending out advanced copies to reviewers, doing interviews, and all that promotional business, but that only seems to add to the anticipation. So, as a healthy distraction for all of us, here’s my recent rants and raves.

Tales of the Apocalypse
I’m teaching a sweet class at the art high school this semester on apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic literature and film, largely because I feel it’s my civic duty to teach students the difference between dystopias and apocalyptic stories. It drives me crazy when moron critics call a show like The Walking Dead a “haunting dystopia.” My other main motive for teaching the class is so I can get paid to watch Mad Max. Doesn’t get much better than that.

John Carter and Mad Max duking it out
in Ragnarok. © Chris Turk. 

We haven’t quite gotten to Mad Max yet though. First up has been tales of apocalypse in mythology. We kicked off the term learning about Ragnarok and reading some of the Poetic Edda. Next up was flood myths. I found this great article from geologist David R. Montgomery that documents geological evidence for some big ass glacial floods that likely inspired everything from the Noah and the Ark myth to flood myths amongst the Yakima and Spokane native American tribes in the Pacific Northwest. Cool stuff. Biblical-Type Floods Are Real, and They're Absolutely Enormous.

Next up was some New Testament Biblical apocalypse. I don’t know what John of Patmos was smoking when he wrote "Revelation," but I need to find out. I thought I wrote some dark, wacked out stuff, but my writing doesn’t hold a candle to the crazy imagery and symbolism in "Revelation." It’s no wonder Thomas Jefferson called the chapter the “ravings of a maniac.” To lighten things up, I had my students read this great short story from Richard Parks: "Four Horsemen, at Their Leisure."

Forthcoming in the class we’ll be taking a look at alien invasion and conquest of Earth, nuclear holocaust, the zombie apocalypse, and ecological apocalypse. If you have any reading or viewing suggestions for me, please let me know in the comments below. On a related note, I’m using the class as a good excuse to finally read A Canticle for Leibowitz. I’m about halfway in and enjoying it. It has a subtle, dry sense of humor that’s keeping me going despite the slow pacing and irregular story arc.

On the Boob-Tube
I don’t watch TV too often. Seriously, I still haven’t even seen the second season of Game of Thrones yet (but my DVD box set is in the mail—finally!). There are a couple of shows I’ve been watching though. The first is my mainstay, The Walking Dead. It’s really turning into a love-hate relationship for me. The first season was awesome. The second season started stupidly slow, but managed to salvage itself with a great mid-season finale and some good carnage building up to the season finale. Now we’re in the middle of the third season and I feel like the writers are needlessly manipulating us with unbelievable, unnecessary character drama. I’m still on-board with Daryl and Glen, but this whole business with Rick going crazy every time he has a down moment is downright annoying. I can’t help but feel like I’ve been duped into liking a poorly written show because I’m blinded by my love for zombies and I’m so invested in Rick, Daryl, and Glen (Carl can go wash his mouth out with a gun as far as I’m concerned). I don’t know. What do you all think?

The second show I finished up this winter was American Horror Story: Asylum. I don’t have much to say apart from that I loved it. The look, the feel, the writing, the acting was all top notch. I mean, it doesn’t get much better than a mash-up of serial killers, aliens, demonic possessions, and Nazi torture doctors. My only complaint is that the last two episodes were too epilogue-ish. In fact, they were sort of pointless. I think the show would have been stronger without the second, present-day storyline. I mean Dylan McDermott was awesome in the first season, but his character was unnecessary in the second season, and I feel the same way about Adam Levine as I do about Carl from The Walking Dead.

That’s all for now. I was gonna bitch about Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, but I don’t have any other movies to chat about and now that I think about it, Prometheus was so disappointing it’s not worth wasting my breath on. I’ll be back next week with a teaser from Dreamwielder. Cheers!

-Garrett Calcaterra


  1. You're totally on the money about Rick's character. He's crazy when it's convenient for the storyline, and then he's sane when they need him to save the day. Not buying it for a second! You score minus points, however, for calling it the boob-tube.

  2. Thanks. Is "idiot box" a preferable euphemism?