Blades

Reading these stories, and revisiting the music, has drawn me into something I rarely do: reminisce and think about the past. I generally try not to think too much about the past; it’s the past and there’s nothing to be done about it, after all. Sometimes, though, when writing, I try to draw on my past and my own experience.

The 1980’s were a difficult decade for me, but one of the things I remember fondly about that decade was always the music. I’ve always had a soft spot for 1980’s music, and it was a weird, transitory time for it. MTV changed everything; exposing Americans and young people to new music and bands and artists they might not have ever heard, and the visual medium of the new “music television” channel also allowed us all to experience music visually, and there’s no question that interesting video presentation helped artists like Culture Club, Cyndi Lauper, Duran Duran, and many others to an even greater success than might have otherwise been possible for them.

The Go-Go’s videos were almost always very simplistic; probably “Vacation” was the most complicated video they ever made. Rewatching their videos recently kind of made me laugh–“Head over Heels”, for example, looks like it cost $20 to produce–and I’m not certain if this was because they didn’t care, or the record company thought they were big enough to not need the push from a terrific video.

The next story up in Murder-a-Go-Go’s is “Blades,” by Steve Weddle.

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He was on his fifth Tequila Sunrise when his head hit the table.

“Everything, guys. Everything.”

We’d talked Nick into coming for drinks because he hadn’t been out of his apartment since twenty-nine days back when he and Laura had called it off. We had to get him out. Even without the wedding, the three of us considered ourselves his groomsmen. Until death do us all part, it seemed. Though another few drinks might take care of that.

The Thursday night crowd at Wingin’ It was worried more about the Cowboys-Eagles game than about the four of us concussing ourselves on a table.

Raphael slid the emptied tumblers away from Nick’s head. “She didn’t take every- thing, man.” Raph was the jokester among us, the one we sent in to cause a scene if we needed it, the one thinking he was just one prank away from going viral. When we’d go to games, he was the one who would sneak us in a diaper bag full of White Russians in baby bottles “You’ve still got your health,” he told Nick, pulling a coaster from the side of Nick’s face. “And that nasty cold sore.”

Truth be told, Nick was a bit of a late bloomer. We were all in our late thirties, but he hadn’t even gotten through his first marriage, yet. And with Laura dumping him a month before the wedding, he was even further behind us.

“Look,” Sam said, “if it wasn’t meant to be, it’s best you know now. The two of you can move on, find new people. It’s good news to find out now.”

“We’re still registered,” he said.

Ralph, Sam, and I looked at each other, then back to Nick.

“Sure,” Sam said, “I’m sure she didn’t even think about it. Probably moved on. You should too, man.”

“At Target,” Nick continued, ignoring Sam. “I checked. Target still thinks the wedding is going to happen. On the nineteenth. That’s next weekend.” He’d raised his head, apparently just he could drop it, rattling on the table again. “Next weekend.”

Sam said he’d get the next round, then walked across the room to the bar.

This story is different from the preceding ones in that the crime committed during the course of this story isn’t a felony; and the crime itself, while the driving force behind the story, isn’t really the focus of the story. The story is about friendship, and the things guys do to help out their friends, whether it’s a smart thing or not, and the ending of the story might be a little dark–the story itself is dark, emotionally–but it also leaves the reader with a strong sense of satisfaction; justice, of a sort, has been done, and everyone feels better about things. It’s about male bonding and male friendship, and not done in a way that feels non-relatable to not-straight men.

Quite good, and I loved the change of pace.

And now back to the spice mines.

Save Me a Place

I have to say, one of the most interesting developments of the advances in television viewing (i.e. streaming) has been the development of interesting new programming from non-traditional sources. The cable networks have long been giving the traditional television networks a run for their money for quite some time, but Amazon Prime, Hulu and Netflix are now throwing their hats in the ring. I was skeptical, to be honest–but I really enjoyed Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle, and so when a friend recommended Hulu’s Freakish, I was also a bit skeptical about it–I mean, Hulu?

I also recognize that’s very snobbish of me.

My friend told me it was kind of a cross between The Breakfast Club and The Walking Dead…which sounded intriguing, so Paul and I decided to give it a try.

Wow.

The description couldn’t have been more apt; it literally is The Walking Dead as directed and written by John Hughes, but rather than playing into the stereotypes Hughes lionized in his films, this show subverts them and turns them inside out.

It’s a Saturday, and some kids are arriving at Kent High School for all-day detention. just like The Breakfast Club; this was not a thing at my high school and I don’t know if it’s ever been a thing–but it’s always seemed weird to me. There are also a variety of others kids there at the school–playing basketball, putting up posters for the school election, etc. The basketball coach is in charge of the detention, and is checking in students. Grover, our main hero, shows up and checks in–but he doesn’t actually have detention (just like the Ally Sheedy character in The Breakfast Club), he’s just there because he’s interested in Violet, one of the girls who DOES have detention. As we are getting to know some of the characters–the basketball star, the cheerleader, the Type A girl who wants to be student body president, the violent thug bully, the nerdy smart guy–there is a series of explosions from the chemical plant nearby where most of the people in town work. As the explosions continue everyone rushes inside the school as the atmosphere outside changes–there’s a weird fog, debris falling–and no cell phone service.

And… people exposed to the outside environment have become infected with something that turns them into what the viewers know, from years of these types of films and TV shows, ‘walkers’ or ‘the living dead’ but the kids on the show call ‘freaks’; because in their universe there have been no George Romero movies or anything.

This, of course, is the beginning of their zombie apocalypse, and it’s all shown from the point of view of the teenagers; the coach, the only adult, is killed by a ‘freak’ early on.

The entire first season has them trapped in the school, as one by one the group dwindles as kids are either infected or killed by the freaks; and they slowly, as the season progresses, realize they have to kill or be killed, rather than just trying to save themselves or lock the freaks up somewhere. And those stereotypes I mentioned? As I said, as the show progresses those stereotypes are turned on their heads as the kids slowly begin to bond, a la The Breakfast Club, and as we the viewers get to know them better, as they begin to adapt to their new world and try to figure out ways to survive.

Each episode is only twenty-two minutes long, which goes to show you don’t need over an hour to create suspense or character, and lots of action. Each episode flies past. And yes, we kind of rolled our eyes at it at first, but by episode three we were completely sucked in.

And the last two episodes were a definite sucker punch.

I also liked the sly references to Hughes films, particularly this shot:

I guess it’s time for the 80’s nostalgia wave….but I’m certainly enjoying it!

Looking forward to Season 2.