nesting * geeking * critiquing

Posts tagged “zombies

Talkin’ About the Talking Dead

If you’re a fan of “The Walking Dead” and watch it on initial airing, there’s a good chance you stick around to watch the live show “The Talking Dead” afterwards. The guests sometimes flop (Marilyn Manson, for instance) and host/comedian Chris Hardwick occasionally veers into self-indulgence, but the show is generally a therapeutic way to unwind after TWD and learn some behind-the-scenes tidbits.

Having had the great joy of scoring passes to see the live filming of the mid-season premiere last month, I have some behind-the-scenes tidbits for “The Talking Dead” as well. Hopefully this will also shed some light on what to expect if you, too, luck into General Passes and spend hours scouring the interwebs to try and find out what to expect—I was sorely disappointed in the lack of similar firsthand accounts. So let’s start at the beginning.

You love the show and realize you’ll be in Los Angeles on a Sunday when a new episode is scheduled to air, aka just about any Sunday between late October-early December and mid February-early April. Great! Now make haste and get thyself over to and sign up for an account so you can join the watchlist for your favorite shows and request tickets when they become available. My experience with 1iota is that they open the Talking Dead for you to request tickets within about a week of the date you’d like to attend. We tried to get tickets for the mid-season finale back in December, and the “sign up” opportunity opened early morning on the Monday ahead of that Sunday (11/27 before the 12/3) show. We were probably relatively early in submitting a request but didn’t make the cut, which turned out just fine since I was miserably sick that entire trip. I digress…

I started checking 1iota’s Talking Dead page as soon as we knew what dates we would be in L.A. Early that Monday morning before the taping date, I checked and 1iota still hadn’t opened up for ticket requests. Kept checking throughout the day and around 1pm, it was open. I submitted my request and crossed my fingers.

That Thursday, I got an email saying they couldn’t accommodate my request. Bummer.

The next day, I happened to check on my 1iota account to see if they’d updated the guest appearance list for Jimmy Kimmel and noticed that I suddenly had Talking Dead tickets waiting for me. After I recovered from the shock, I followed the prompts and printed those babies as fast as I could (lest they discover their mistake). On printing the tickets, I learned that they were General Passes, meaning there are Priority Passes that some people manage to get their hands on and the General Pass holders get in on a first-come, first-served basis after those with Priority Passes. The passes also tell you to arrive at least 30 minutes early… I think you’d be tempting fate to arrive that late. Add an extra hour to that for a safer bet.

We tried to arrive 2 hours early but L.A. traffic and parking being what it is, we got in line 90 minutes early. 8 people in line already ahead of us. I’d suggest coughing up the money to park in the garage at The Grove. The $20-whatever is worth the peace of mind to save yourself time and hassle; and you can stop in at The Container Store on your walk to the CBS Studio lot if you need to use the restroom (you won’t get another opportunity until after you go through all of the security protocols).

Enjoy using your cell phone while you wait on the street, as it gets confiscated when you go through security. I totally understand why you can’t use your phone during the early screening of the unaired Walking Dead episode—you’ll watch the new episode commercial-free before it even airs on the East Coast!—but it was pretty frustrating being unable to take photos of the Talking Dead set before filming started. Specifically, it was annoying because there are other audience members (who get in by means other than 1iota) who are allowed to have their phones and it feels rather like a double standard.

Anyway, after going through security screening the group is ushered into a tight little room that’s like a garage or dock area on the lot filled with chairs. That’s where you get to watch the new episode. The few accounts I saw online said that they had to watch on a very small screen; I’m happy to report that they’ve upgraded and now you get to see it projected on a pretty good size screen. Sound isn’t theater quality, but you’re caught up in the episode enough that it doesn’t matter so much.

After the episode, audience members pose questions they might ask on the show. The staff choose a handful of those people (the ones who have the best confidence and stage presence, I think) and they go on a separate track for, presumably, screen prep. At our filming, the question asked live on the show was not any of the questions the audience actually submitted. It was in the same vein, but not the same.

Finally, you’re ushered into the set studio, and it’s pretty dang cool. Much larger than it looks on screen. We couldn’t figure out how they decided where to seat people, but we ended up a lot further back in the crowd than we had been for the screening. It really wasn’t a big deal since there is somewhat tiered seating but we ended up on the end behind the crane camera so it was a little hard to see sometimes.

Chris Hardwick comes out and films the little preview bits (they’re not really live) without any audience interaction; this surprised me, as I kind of imagined he’d address us a bit. Perhaps he was too busy being lint-rolled. Seriously, they had lint rollers on him during every commercial break. How much lint can one guy accumulate while sitting mostly still?!

I couldn’t have been more thrilled with the lineup we had: Greg Nicotero, Khary Payton (King Ezekiel) and DeAngelo Williams from the Pittsburgh Steelers. All 3 were a delight to watch interact during commercial breaks, though we couldn’t always hear what they said. As was alluded to during the show, DeAngelo kept jabbing on Khary being a Falcons fan, and Khary repeatedly got up to walk out (jokingly). I don’t remember if it was during a commercial or actual show but DeAngelo said something about also not liking the Patriots and Khary replied, “because you’re human!” Greg also got up at one point, saying “I’m out” during the football talk. Lots of laughter, much fun.

After the live show wrapped, they filmed several bonus segments for the website (here). We did end up getting audience-giveaway shirts, and I was pleased that we actually got to choose what size we got. All in all, a really enjoyable experience that could only have been better if we’d gotten to take pics.


Commuter Contemplations

I spend at least an hour in the car each weekday morning (and again each evening). And if I’m really lucky, there is a traffic jam or accident that keeps me gridlocked for upwards of 90 minutes or longer…such has been the case more often than not over the last several weeks. Much like checking out at the supermarket, whichever lane I choose is the wrong one for advancement. so lucky

It’s not all bad, though. There’s something to be said for quiet times of contemplation—”quiet” in this context ignores my loud stereo and occasional shouting at other drivers.

Yes, I do some of my best thinking in the car…and promptly forget most of it unless I immediately post to twitter/facebook or dictate to Siri. And then there are the less compelling notions that traverse my synapses. I can’t imagine all of the bizarre things the people behind Siri must hear. Probably drivel along these lines:

I really love the phrase “dog and pony show.” Also, I’d love to see a real dog and pony show; just sounds like fun.

I need a helicopter. I’ve co-piloted an airplane before in flying lessons, can’t be that different. Then I could get a cool flight suit. Plus, then I could say “flight SUIT UP!”

The ability to pilot a flying machine would make me a valuable asset in the zombie apocalypse. There’s a fair chance I could navigate without killing us. And if I didn’t…well it’s probably better to die in a fiery crash than to watch/feel a reanimated corpse gnaw on my entrails.
Actually, I’d be handy even if I couldn’t fly since I can shoot a gun pretty well. I should probably invest in lasik eye surgery before the apocalypse. Trying to keep track of glasses would suck.

Oh, crap! I’m sooooooo sorry, guy behind me. I honestly didn’t see you when I cut over into this lane; you were in my blind spot. Please don’t shoot me. Look, I’m waving to apologize. You’re waving back, so that means we’re good, right? Huh, that’s not waving.

There are Hannah Montana and Jonas Brothers songs on my iPod. This should embarrass me, and I should skip them. It doesn’t, and I don’t.

Pretty sure I had no idea what the words of ‘Whoomp! There It Is’ meant when I was a 6th-grader. Glad there’s no one around to hear my giggles. Gotta skip this one.

I should probably get around to watching The Matrix some day.

“I’m so fancy…something something something…in the fast lane, from L.A. to Tokyo.”

Wait, was that an armadillo? When did armadillos start living this far north? I’ve gotta call my mom.



Speed Dating

There’s really only one question I need to ask to find out how compatible I am with someone…

Wal-Mart or Target?speed-dating

I’ll admit, Wal-Mart’s not without its virtues: you can find just about anything there, including things you can’t find anywhere else. They even sell actual goldfish, not just the crackers! Just don’t get too attached because they’ll likely die within hours, days or weeks. But generally speaking, my social aversion steers me away from Wal-Mart, particularly if I have a choice.

For me, going into Wal-Mart at a peak time (like, say, a Saturday afternoon) is about as pleasant as causing a ruckus near a beehive without wearing any sort of protective suit. My blood pressure elevates, I break into a sweat and I really just want to run away. And also cry. And maybe shove people on my way out the door and yell at them to stop wearing pajama pants in public.

Target, on the other hand, feels somewhat inviting. Not calming exactly, but more my speed. Though the overall footprint is more intimate, there’s no attempting to squeeze past the ravenous crowds that swarm the discount dvd bins. If you’ve visited the ‘Mart on a weekend night (or, heaven forbid, Black Friday) and stumbled upon the electronics section, you know that it’s frighteningly reminiscent of the final scene in The Walking Dead pilot episode.

Selections frequently change at Target, so I enjoy browsing the collections. And the clearance! Markdowns are plentiful, which tempts me to take my time and peruse every aisle and endcap. Plus, prices are competitive—contrary to popular belief—and the toy selection blows Wal-Mart out of the water (in this neck of the woods, anyway).

Some Target stores even have ICEE machines at their little cafes. And those with mini-Starbucks have the scent of coffee gently wafting through the air, which I find far more appealing than the diaper-like odor of Subway’s meatball subs at Wal-Mart. (I blame Subway for that atrocity, not Wal-Mart.) Speaking of diaper-like odors, the bathrooms at Target are typically, though not always, nicer. It’s a good feeling to encounter generally clean facilities when you’ve got to answer nature’s call.

For the record, I’m neither attempting nor intending to be an elitist. Our travels have taught me that I’d be inclined to take Wal-Mart over Fred Meyer any day. There are even some shockingly nice Wal-Marts sprinkled across the country; we’ve discovered them in Washington and Colorado. There are even a few that I like here in the Show-Me State. Moreover, Wal-Mart exists in many places where Target doesn’t, and that accessibility matters.

But given the option, especially in my native environment, I’m Team Target.

They say opposites attract, and I’ll probably like you even if you do prefer Wal-Mart. Just don’t ask me to go shopping with you. And don’t wear pajama pants in public.

Ask Amethystos

I’m a little brainsquashed, having trouble finishing some drafts. Instead of continuing to mull over them, I thought I’d take a prompt from the fabulous evelynfilmfan (visit her blog—good reads!).
Now it’s time for a little Q&A…

  • Which film do you think is the best book adaptation?
    Very few projects measure up to their namesake books, to the surprise of no one. Three, however, stand out to me (though one isn’t technically a film): Catching Fire, Game of Thrones & Breaking Dawn, Part 2. Your eyes don’t deceive you, I really did just include a Twilight film in a ‘best’ category. Since it’s the most controversial, I’ll touch on it first.
    • BD 2 fixes everything a lot of what’s wrong with the book; maybe that’s simply because there’s sooooo much disappointment with the book. There’s still the weird Jacob/Renesmee love but we see flash-forwards of Renesmee as a teen/young adult, which takes away much of the skeeve factor. And the battle sequence is impossibly better than the text, even if it is only a hypothetical Alice vision. The anti-climax of the novel left me feeling cheated after having invested so much time and anticipation; film version more than made up for it.
    • You already know I’m a big fan of the Hunger Games trilogy. What you may not know is that Catching Fire was easily my favorite book. Given that, I had prepared myself for at least a little bit of a letdown with the film—said letdown never came. Casting is spot-on, pacing is considerably improved from the source material and the shift to an omniscient point-of-view makes this adaptation dang near perfect.
    • And Game of Thrones. Oh, Game of Thrones, you make me so happy with your general adhesion to Martin’s books. I’ve read through book 3 now and only rarely do the departures disappoint in the slightest; more often than not, the alterations do a great favor to pacing. The benefit of this series, of course, is its episodic nature which lends itself to really bringing the pages to life. I prefer the book’s relative lack of R-rated elements (call me a prude if you like) but the storytelling definitely earns a place in my top 3 adaptations.
  • Who is your favorite superhero? And which superhero powers would you like to have?
    pass—the answer to this will be its own post one of these days
  • Disney or Pixar?
    Disney. Pixar has its share of stirring tales and breathtaking animation to be sure, but my favor falls to Disney. From classics to contemporary films, animated or live-action, I’m astounded that one company can play such a role in lives young and old. Vivid imagery, riveting narrative, well-rounded humor and heartwarming heroism are benchmarks for Disney. Oh, and there’s that little bit about Disney owning Marvel and Star Wars now…I’m definitely team Disney.
  • Marvel or DC Comics?
    Historically, DC…I have always loved Superman, and I always will. But my loyalties are largely shifting to Marvel now if I’m being really honest with myself. Like the rest of the world, Marvel movies make me really happy. Though some of the characters can be a little bland at times (I’m looking at you, Hawkeye), they do a ridiculously good job of casting. Everybody is just so gosh darn lovable! Okay, except for Spider-Man; don’t like his character or the comics or the cartoons or the movies.
  • For which tv show/series do you really have to stay home? And what makes this tv show/series so special?
    The Walking Dead, hands down. Catching new episodes is literally an event for me; I can’t wait to see what happens next, and I have a number of fellow fans at work who are always ready to discuss on Mondays. I’m loving how the main characters have evolved over the last season or so, the growth is (in my opinion) exceptionally compelling. There are no other current programs that I will try to schedule around.

That’s all for this edition of Ask Amethystos. Tune in next time, when I’ll answer more questions and dodge others. Comment below if there’s something you’d like to ask; I’ll endeavor to satisfy your query.

The 101

We’ve spent a good amount of time on stretches of the Pacific Coast Highway (the 101) over the past few years, a truly scenic byway if ever there was one. It may not be the fastest route and there aren’t a lot of options insofar as national chain shops or restaurants along the way, but the vistas more than make up for it.

Where the highway hugs the coast, you’re treated to panoramic western views of the ocean, beaches and rocky outcroppings…even unbelievable sand dunes. To the east, a smorgasbord of forests, towering bluffs and rolling farmland. Breathtaking!

Saturday morning, Feb. 8, we left Lincoln City to head for Gold Beach. Snowcover gradually disappeared as we journeyed further south until we were eventually left with lush green surroundings…and plenty of rain. In spite of the intermittent downpours, we made numerous stops to do some light hiking and take in the sights.

One of the more curious things we came across was an electronic road sign about 45 minutes north of Gold Beach:Caution

Next 2 Miles
Use Caution
Wild Cows on Road

I’d heard of signs being hacked to warn of zombies and the like, so I initially assumed that might have been the case. “Wild cows” har har har. It was pretty funny until I considered it could be a legitimate advisory.

Night had fallen, and we were in an area devoid of cell phone or radio signals. Nothing but a dark hillside forest on our left, a craggly drop to the ocean on our right and my overly active imagination. Our laughter subsided to a nervous chuckle.

I worried not about running into one of the bovine hitchhikers and making ground beef. No, I worried about becoming the ground beef. I mean, I know a thing or two about “domestic” cows given that my grandpa owned some of the good-tempered variety and I pass dozens of them on my commute each day. But those were all Missouri cows; maybe Oregon “wild cows” are different? If creepy, wild cows roamed these parts, they might have an appetite…for people.

Wild Cows!Admitting this rumination invited merciless japing. Severus regaled me with tales of mangy cows equipped with spiky teeth and underbites. Cows that grazed not alongside the road but on the concrete itself. I imagine they looked something like this mixed with the ‘dog’ from Despicable Me.

We were careful to watch for the road sign on the other end; it warned of “cows loose on roadway,” which sounded considerably less nightmarish. After the longest 2 miles of our lives, we left wild cow country and stayed the night at the Gold Beach Resort.

More photos taken along the 101 at my share site.
Next stop, Crater Lake!