The Zombie Apocalypse – a Story Gift That Keeps on Giving

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Walking Dead Season 4 Cast – AMC image

The Walking Dead is a show that’s well and truly hooked me. I both yearn for and dread the approach of Sunday night (3-30-14), when the Season 4 finale airs. There are story threads I’m watching anxiously, to see how they play out. However, once those are resolved – or left all cliff-hangy – I will have to wait who knows how many months before there’s more Walking Dead to watch.

While imagining various outcomes, it occurred to me that the writers of this series sure know what they’re doing, in terms of keeping an audience slavering in anticipation. So obviously, I want to take the show apart to see  what makes it tick. I’m trying to leave spoilers out, though, so this discussion will be short on specific examples.

In MICE terms (where you classify a story depending on whether the main focus is on the Milieu, Idea, Character and Event; for further info, look here), the overall story arc of The Walking Dead is that of an Event story. There are some great character arcs and ideas/mysteries. In addition, the milieu (setting) has the benefit of being both familiar (contemporary America) and novel (after being smashed to smithereens). But what propels this series is the quest to bring order to the characters’ world in the midst of the aforementioned zombie apocalypse.

Some TV series peter out after a time. I suppose The Walking Dead could, too, if the show’s creators run out of ideas. Based on what they’ve come up with so far, though, that could take a good long while. As long as they keep introducing interesting characters at roughly the same rate they kill them off, and those characters deal with their horrible situation in compelling ways, this series could go on indefinitely.

Because – let’s face it. Once you have a zombie apocalypse, the world is unlikely to be the same ever again. This allows the writers to ratchet up the tension on a struggle many of us seldom worry about anymore – simple survival. In the world of The Walking Dead, that struggle is universal. No one has it any better than anyone else—at any rate, they don’t have it that way for long. You might find what you think is a safe setup for your hardy little band, but it only takes one wacko or evil person to bring it all down.

The characters’ lives would be fine if they could thoroughly vet the people they take under their wing, but human beings don’t work that way, do they? If you have ties to someone – maybe because you’re related or you’ve slept with them, maybe because they’re young and vulnerable, maybe because they did you a solid somewhere along the line – you’re inclined to say, “We have to bring this person in and provide safe harbor for them.”

The other people in your group, those who don’t have the same ties to this person, might say, “Screw that. Can’t you see this guy/chick is trouble?” But eventually the good-hearted Walking Dead band that we’ve come to know and love will say, “Aw, heck, nobody’s perfect. Might as well give them a chance.”

Sometimes it works out okay, sometimes it comes back to bite them in their collective butts.

Anyway my point is, it would take a lot to make this show jump the shark. I can see two ways of doing it: one, you allow your body count to include a character that too many viewers identify with. It could be Rick, or it could, as one internet meme has it, be Daryl.

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Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon – AMC image

The second way is to find or create the orderly society to which most characters wish to return. Once an actual civilization (one that can keep you safe) is functioning, or once all the zombies die or go away, then the main problem of living in this world disappears. Everyone lives happily ever after. Obviously you save this solution for the series finale, and I bet you money, marbles or chalk, that’s the writers’ eventual plan. As clever as they are, though, there will be some twist I never would have anticipated.

And that, my friends, is what you call a well-milked Event story.


It’s Been a Year

EilBethCB_Pre_Bikes2As usual, Cookie, Tiger, and I did the Bike MS Tour de Farms ride – June 22, 2019

And I’m still fundraising, but we’ll get to that later.

The fact that it’s taken me this long to blog about the ride this year is a testament to how wacky the last few months have been. There were times I wasn’t completely sure I was going to ride. We had some health issues in the family starting around February, so training was a greater challenge than it sometimes is. And then there was…

GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE

Okay, that’s been going on for a while no matter what the Big Oil Companies want to you to believe. I refer you to Bill McKibben’s scary book Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?

I know there are people in way worse shape than our family, but here’s how it hit us: This past May was the wettest in Chicago’s recorded history.

So there wasn’t much decent riding weather, which interfered with our training regimens.

The weather also meant that our yard (where the drainage has never been terrific) has pretty much been a wetland all spring and summer.

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There’s been a lovely moat all around the deck

So in addition to trying to finish the novel I started in 2016, and dealing with the aforementioned health issues, we also had to find a solution to the standing water before the disease-bearing mosquitoes decided to make our yard their refuge.

(Talk to me later if you want to hear the horror stories about the neighbor who decided that somehow we caused the drainage issues and was threatening to sue us.)

Anyhoo. Just when I thought events could hardly increase my tension level, my beloved bicycle—the one I was planning to ride at the event—fell off the back of a bike trailer as we were on our way to a training ride. Poor Skippy.

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R.I.P. Skippy

She was mortally injured and now has become an organ parts donor at Working Bikes Cooperative

I was inconsolable, but BK dragged me out immediately after the incident and bought me a new bike. And in more good news, it looks like insurance will cover the loss.

I’m calling her Summit after the late legendary University of Tennessee Lady Vols basketball coach, Pat Summitt.

Summit
Summitt

Summitt is also an aspirational name. I’m hoping that it will encourage me to do better on ascents.

Summit did me proud on the ride. We went 35 miles! Not as good as a couple of years ago, when we were riding 50, but Cookie, Tiger, and I all had stuff going on this spring, so we opted to do 35.

Tiger and Cookie raised funds like champs, but I’m afraid I fell down on the job this year. 2019 is the first time in several years that I might not achieve Gold Spokes status.

So if my tale of woe has awakened pity in your breast and you’re wondering how to allot your charitable giving this year, I could sure use the boost. I’m still eligible to join the Gold Spokes until about August 20. Here’s a link to my fundraising page 

If that doesn’t work for some reason, please let me know.

Thanks again to Cookie, Tiger, BK, Rocky, the Raupp family, my cousins Steve, Cecelia & Brian, Mickey, Kevin, Ann, Emmi, Kurt, Randy, the White family, Katherine L, and the Musto family. Your generosity is so much appreciated!

In case you’re interested, here are a few more pictures from the ride:

Beth_Pre EileenPre CB_Pre2

EileenBeth_Post BethCB_Post2

BethEileenAfter NoPixPls