Word of the Day: contretemps

I am out of fractured nursery rhymes for now. Yes, you can stop cheering.

I am, instead, returning to an archetype strangely near and dear to my heart. I don’t exactly know why it is frequently on my mind, but, that’s the weirdness of my brain.

Today’s Word:


As in:

Zombie Apocalypse, Day 18

It’s strange to be talking about the reality of a world overrun by the undead. I had thought that if something so unthinkable as a plague of walking dead happened, I’d be prepared. I’ve studied all the great “texts” of survival, I knew that to kill them you had to destroy their brains. I knew these things.

What a joke.

I want my money back, Mr. Romero, because you lied to me.

Not that money matters any more.

Who came up with the notion that smashing in the undead’s noggin would actually have any effect anyway? For crying out loud, the thing’s dead and walking for some bizarre reason. It’s not thinking. It’s just moving. And the brain space has nothing to do with that. It’s messed up. Completely ridiculous.

Everyone knows that’s how you dispatch a zombie, until, of course, they are faced with a real zombie and that crap didn’t do a thing. Not one thing. Nope. We lost ten people to headless corpses in the first five hours of the outbreak, because they just kept coming. We were so unprepared!

After it was clear that complete ruination of the head had absolutely no effect, we tried other things. We tried all the vulnerable spots that occurred to us. We tried hitting them in the knee caps. That just made them crawl towards us with their arms. We tried, well, the other obvious soft spots. Nothing worked.

They just kept crawling. We learned that if they scratched a normal person with their hands, their filthy, blood encrusted bodies carried enough of the virus to ensure transmission. No bite necessary.

In the end, we finally removed all the limbs. They still had motion of a sort, but they couldn’t do much more than roll around, so that’s the point when they are rendered harmless. Their writhing torsos look ridiculous, but, the disembodied limbs no longer move, so finger and toe nails are no longer a threat.

If you don’t mind my French, it’s clear that the absurdity of our efforts to combat these monsters is a major contretemps.

No one has yet come up with a plan to deal with the torsos.


This one came from catching a few minutes of this ridiculous show this weekend which was named something like “The Zombie Legend”, which seemed like it was going to be a serious, in-depth study of the origins of the zombie archetype through history and culture and such. Yeah, no.  They had interviews with a bunch of people who are preparing survival plans for a zombie apocalypse, and they I thought, yeah, but, what if the zombies are *nothing* like you think? I mean, really. Anyway, that’s where this came from.

contretemps / CON – tra – tam / an inopportune or embarrassing occurrence or situation


Word of the Day: titivate

There are numerous battles being fought right now, and I’m here to tell you that I wish I didn’t feel like I was losing all the time.  Instead, I think I will move right along to…

Today’s Word:


As in:

An unexpected development has taken the attention of contingency planners as they map out survival plans for the impending zombie apocalypse.  Scientists have noted a new strain of zombie virus.

Called the chlorophyll strain, this version primarily infects living plants.

Once infected, the plants develop crude “teeth” and an insatiable craving for fiber.  The plants, not being particularly mobile,  then must wait for a strong gust of wind to blow them within biting distance of a potential victim. If close enough, the infected plant will clamp its teeth onto its victim and greedily devour what it can. The bitten plant, if enough of it survives the procedure, will, in turn develop its own teeth and cravings and the cycle will begin again.

“It is uncertain at this time whether a plant infected with this strain can pass it onto an animal host,” said Dr. Robert Neville, the researcher who discovered the strain. “While it seems likely, based upon the cravings, that the infected have no desire to bite animals, and are, therefore, not a threat to humans, I haven’t been able to rule it out. Further, the disease, if it were loose, is a virus, and they tend to change. ”

Dr. Neville indicated that there was no reason to panic about what might happen to food-producing plants, or how likely it was that the strain would get into the food chain. “Right now, the strain has only been discovered in the lab, where it is tightly controlled.  It is highly unlikely that it could escape into the wild. Why, just before the start of this press conference, I spent several moments in the lab, making double sure everything was clean and locked down. It is a simple thing to titivate a plant lab, you know. They don’t have much in the way of unpleasant bodily fluids like we humans.”

Some researchers, which informed of the discovery, were much more willing to provide the media with fuel for a panic.

“With all due respect to Dr. Neville, a strain which infects all flora is a serious concern. Any strain of zombie virus will mutate the victim to a brain craving, violent, dangerous foe. That’s what makes a zombie a zombie. Who ever heard of a *fiber* craving zombie? Ridiculous. Plants don’t need fiber. They don’t have colons,” said a Dr. Felix Montoya, a rival of Dr. Neville’s who was much more interesting to interview.

“It is clear that there is only a matter of time before the world’s food is contaminated with brain craving plant zombies. Not only will the contagion eliminate our food supplies, but, it will infect people and animals who ingest it, and it will transfer the infection with its bite. The only good news is that people should be able to easily avoid being bitten by zombie plants. The bad news is that they will need to avoid eating them as well. Probably.”

I came up with the idea of zombie plants while looking out the window, watching the wind blow the plants into the sidewalk, and thinking, what if you were walking on that path and the plants were infected, and… Well, you got all that from reading the story. Probably.

titivate / TIT – ev – ATE / to make or become smart or spruce

Word of the Day: noctivagant

I couldn’t just let yesterday’s story get out of my brain because it brought a friend along for the ride.  In that vein, May the fifth be with you. You’ll probably need it.

Today’s Word:


As in:

The announcement by George Lucas that he intends to remake the Star Wars movies with CGI robots has led to an expected development. An independent film maker, who had always looked up to Lucas for his pioneering roll and persistence in getting the original Star Wars produced, has begun to create a version entirely cast by zombies.

Miles Griffin, who has been infected himself but insists on being refered to as an undead American, has decided to begin the process with Episode I: The Phantom Menace. He has recruited into his cast the very best talent available from amongst the infected. “These are not your simple, run-of-the mill noctivagant unwell. These specimens can speak a little, and have little damage to their skin, and have brain-seeking tendencies that can be controlled with some drugs and a really loud siren.”

“In fact, I’d say the bloke playing Jar-Jar is quite an improvement over the original, and most of the characters have become much more lively than their counterparts. I think this will be a real advantage for Episodes II and III. I actually have seen the actor’s faces exhibit expression! It’s remarkable!”

Griffin notes that the most difficult aspect of the project is getting his actors to remember and speak dialog. He said, “We’re working on it. Most of my collaborators can’t say more than ‘UUUUUnnnnnnnnnhhhhh’ and ‘Braaaaaaaaaiiiins,’ which we totally had to teach them, because, except for the non-infected imitating us in a crude and hurtful fashion, have you ever heard a zombie say that? It’s a bit insulting that the only way you non-dead have to indicate that we often crave the sweet, sweet, head-meats you have tucked away behind your scalp is by actually moaning ‘Brraaaaiiiins.’ Amateurs.”

Lucas Films is said to be planning to stop the production based upon copyright infringement. Griffin sees this as a challenge, but not an insurmountable one.

“I’m making a movie with creatures who can’t speak or read and are easily distracted, and you think ‘copyright’ is the worst problem I have. I’d like to invite Mr. Lucas here to see the process and understand it, and then he’d stop fighting it. He can come here and wave his beautiful, yummy, brain cleavage, and…  what was I talking about?”

“Besides, it’s time someone other than George Lucas make some money from the creation of less-than-satisfactory films in the Star Wars Universe.  We deserve our fair share. ”

There you have it, Zombie Star Wars.   It’s about time we got those too crazy kids together, don’t you think?  I’m just feeling glad to have this written in the morning, and not have to do it tonight when I get home from work.  And, before you tell me that I’ve already used this word before, I’m just going to admit it.  I hadn’t marked it off my list, and it was too late to change it. The story’s different, and that’s the important thing.

noctivagant / nock – TEH – vague – ant / wandering around at night

Word of the Day: lemures

May is Zombie Awareness month, which I think is right up my alley. Today, I thought I’d start to increase awareness by posting a simple Zombie identification guide. I think you’ll find it informative and useful.

Today’s Word:


As in:

How to Identify Zombies: A Field Guide

Note: Before stopping to identify a creature as a zombie, make sure you have an appropriate weapon, plenty of distance between you and the unidentified creature, and have worked on your cardio. Also, you might be thinking that zombie identification is simple, but, the consequences of mis-identification are severe, so stop rolling your eyes, Mr. Smarty-Pants, and start learning.

1. Check for signs of shambling – Does the figure pick up his or her feet or just slide them along the ground? A rough gait is your first hint that the creature you are looking at is a zombie. If the figures float, they are likely to be something more like lemures. If they move really quickly, possibly while wearing long, flowing, leather jackets that cost more than your annual salary, or sparkle, they’re probably vampires. Hope you have a stake, holy water, or a portable sun.

2. Follow that Stare – Do the creature’s eyes stare at a fixed point while they shamble along? This one is tricky. Fixed staring usually means zombie, however, it could also be a pre-coffee IT worker or refugee from a game or comic book convention. Throw something near the creature. If they follow the object and look around, think pre-coffee office worker. If not, zombie.

Also, if the creature is staring at the sky with their head at an odd angle, that’s a gimmie. It’s totally a zombie.

3. Check for crazy – This isn’t the subtle kind of crazy like your neighbor who paints their house the same color as their lawn. This is drooling, bits of flesh dangling from the teeth, bloodshot, wide-eyed crazy. Large, unnoticed dinner bits dangling out of an unclosed mouth? Definitely a zombie.

4. Rate the State – Observe the creature’s general appearance. Are his or her clothes clean and intact?  If the clothes are intact, but merely wrinkled, especially if they are of the casual variety, you could be looking at the convention refugee again. DO NOT go in for a closer look. The smell will likely not be definitive. Instead, check for large, ugly stains that look like blood. Also check for obvious wounds, missing limbs, ugly bruises or gashes that might have recently been leaking.

5. Watch the reactions – If you’re in an urban setting, are people running away from the shambler? Does the shambler have a hoard of vacantly staring chums? Go with the panicking mob. You’re looking at Zombicus Americanis. Time to get your weapon, and make tracks away from the danger.

I think we’ve learned that identifying zombies is not nearly as easy as the movies make it seem. However, if you learn these simple rules, you will be well prepared, and probably won’t accidentally kill someone who simply used to be in the chess club.

I think I have a way with the topic of zombies.

lemures / LEE – murs / yes, it’s pronounced the same way as the primates from Madagascar. however, the spelling is the difference. In this case, we’re talking about the restless spirits of the unburied dead, who usually are menacing and unhappy. It’s a Roman thing.

Word of the Day: quixotic

It’s Monday yet again, and that means that you are opening your e-mail to find this lovely little package. Think of it as a belated Valentine from me to you.

Of course, it being me, it is a slightly warped Valentine. And, you being you, reading this at all, you probably don’t mind so much.

Today’s Word:


As in:

This year, the IOC has approved an Olympic Games for a unique subset of the “differently-abled,” and invited athletes from all over the world to participate in the first games of its kind in Vancouver.

The first Zombie Olympics will take place the week after the traditional games have ended. As the number of events that Zombies are able to perform are limited by their special conditions, both the summer and winter events are going to be held at the same time.

Summer events include distance shambling, the brain maze obstacle course, and the weight pulling events. In obstacle course events, the athletes are given a limited amount of time to get through a course where the succulent brains have been completely hidden, and must be detected using scent only. In weight-pulling events, the competitors are strapped to large weights, and pull them in pursuit of tempting platters of flesh.

Winter sports include ice dancing, which is a non-skate event, snow shoeing, which involves racing through snow in shoes, and sledding, which involves pairs of zombies in bobsled-type vehicles on snowy hills.

In all zombic sports, contestants are not penalized for lost body parts, and each event usually has several “clean-up” periods between races to clear the courses of any debris.

Zombies are divided into two classifications based upon their speed class. The “classic” category, often referred to as the “Romero Zombies,” are noted for much slower race times. The “Half-Life” category is for those zombies capable of much faster speeds.

Critics of the event object to the exploitation of these athletes, as well as the term “Zombie.” Preferring the term “Unwell,” they feel that these sorts of events are nothing more than a way to experiment on the undead, and they are adamant that this quixotic, zombic Olympiad is simply degrading to both the healthy and the Unwell.
Clearly, I have Zombies on the brain lately. 

Some may object to today’s word choice as being far too familiar. I chose it in honor of Bob Costas, who used it in the opening ceremonies broadcast on Friday, and given the subject matter, it was a no-brainer. Pun totally intended.

quixotic / quick – ZOT – ick / foolishly impractical;  marked by rash, lofty, actions. Capricious.

Word of the Day: furibund

So, this week, we’ve had virtual snow and creepy martyrs. Sounds like the week before VD (Valentine’s Day) to me. Today we talk about another important matter potentially affecting each and every one of us. That threat, ladies and gentlemen, is, of course, zombies. Please, be sure to read beyond…

Today’s Word:


As in:

In preparation for an impending zombie apocalypse, one enterprising young man has started a unique training program designed to increase your odds of surviving in a world of brain craving zombies.

Ken Marshall, the man offering this very practical course explains it this way, “If you notice there are more and more zombie movies made every year. This indicates to me that odds of a zombie-type plague are on the rise. Combined with the fact that each movie is sorta like free advertisement, I felt like it was time to take advantage of the situation and provide a valuable public service.”

The 5-week course recommends developing a whole survival strategy, from carrying a specialized zombie emergency pack, which you should carry with you at all times, and a routine which  familiarizes you with good potential for staying during sieges, or for re-supplying yourself. Marshall not only gives you a list of these items and suppliers, he also sells starter kits. These are offered at a discount for anyone taking his course.

The intensive program includes a course on marksmanship, to improve participant’s aim, especially under pressure from furibund former people, how to maximize ammunition and kill shots straight to the head, and choosing the best ammunition for your emergency survival pack.

Another course focuses on cardiovascular training to stay fit to best outrun shambling hoards of undead Americans.

There is a course on basic survival, including a few lessons on preventing disease, (especially if the particular strain which causes a zombie apocalypse mutates, and becomes transmitted in ways besides a bite from a zombie), and how to find food after all the non-perishables have perished or been exhausted.

“Training footage,” in the form of zombie movies, will be required homework. There will also be time set aside for philosophical discussions, such as “is it possible to reform a zombie?” and “why do zombies always seem to aim their gazes up at the sky, and how do they still manage to see their prey?”

On a lighter note, there is a course on “fooling” zombies, which offers advice on disguising yourself as a zombie to pass through a horde, or using distraction techniques such as throwing shiny objects, or using makeup to appear “already bitten, thanks.”

I’ve been thinking about zombies quite a bit lately, as you can tell.  I almost think that I would take that course. Or, maybe it would be fun to actually sell it. Could make some dollars, I think.

furibund / FUR – eh – BUND / furious, frenzied