Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Running with Zombies

I know, I know. I have been neglecting the blog again. To make up I wrote a little short. It's about zombies. Go read!


Running with Zombies

From: john.grove@pr-marcusezombieplant.us

Sent: Friday, march 20, 2036 3:56 pm

To: charles.sinclair@r&d-marcusezombieplant.us

Subject: The best publicity for zombie energy!

Dear Charles,

I know that we had our disagreements in the past. We had our share of arguments over some of the ideas I launched to promote the use of zombie energy to the public. And yes, I’ll be honest; sometimes your objections appeared to be valid in the end. With hindsight the ‘Take a Picture with a Zombie’ idea for our guided tours should have had more safety precautions, especially after that school kid got bitten.

As we both know, however, the future does not look as bright as it could or should look. And although you have been saying that success is just around the corner – that next year our 3000 zombies will provide electricity for the whole East Coast – our investors are beginning to doubt whether they will ever get a return on their investment. If you don’t deliver they will pull the plug on your beloved dynamo.

So Charles, we’ve got to do something now that will convince the investors to stick with the project. Luckily I’ve been seeing a few friends of mine in Hollywood. Did you know they rebuild it almost as it was before? It is a place like no other, a veritable dream factory. They pitched me a great idea and I’m positive it will blow you away.

Picture this: five contestants on your treadmill being chased by a herd of zombies.

Who will hold out longest? Who will keep on running? And the zombs of course never lose a step. I’m talking sweat and tears, Charles, right down to the finish line. We could do bets, call-ins; have the zombs wear signature suits that are up for sponsoring. Think big, think WrestleMania. During the runs we show a few promos about the project, maybe in a sidebar. On how we extract our zombies from the white zones, for example, or how we turn their kinetic energy into electricity. The main thing of course is that the public will understand the importance of clean, reliable zombie energy.

Imagine all of the publicity and ad revenues we get. Okay, tell me what you think about it, Charles.


p.s. What sounds better: the Running Dead Man or Don’t Bite Me, Bro?


From: charles.sinclair@r&d-marcusezombieplant.us

Sent: Friday, march 20, 2036 4:34 pm

To: john.grove@pr-marcusezombieplant.us

Subject: re: The best publicity for zombie energy!

Disagreements in the past?!

Are you fucking kidding me!? I’ve had enough of all the half-assed ideas you inflict on this project. Do you have any idea of the amount of crap I had to wade through after that whole ‘Take a Picture’ disaster? A class of school children, John. A whole goddamn class of school children.

And now you want to televise such cock-ups?

I’m not going to let you degenerate my father’s life work into some kind of family snuff entertainment.

Call it Stupid Idiots Eaten Alive for all I care. It’s not going to happen.


From: john.grove@pr-marcusezombieplant.us

Sent: Friday, march 20, 2036 4:45 pm

To: charles.sinclair@r&d-marcusezombieplant.us

Subject: re:re: The best publicity for zombie energy!

Dear Charles,

I’m afraid you misunderstood me. I act only with the best of intentions when it comes to your project, Charles. I understand that you might be a little bit skittish of having your work turn up on TV. But rest assured, Charles. The producers, my friends, guaranteed me that the whole show would be done with style and taste.

Trust me, Charles. Your work has the potential to change the future of our great nation, but sadly the public lacks confidence in zombie energy. Can you blame them, Charles?

Do you think Joe Average wants electricity produced by a bunch of corpses on a treadmill that used to be his grandfather and mother?

Trust me; I know how to make people comfortable. And this show will not only win people’s trust, they will be actually dying to see our zombs.

So just think about it, okay


p.s. The producers were wondering if the speed of the treadmill can be controlled. They think the show would be more exciting if the speed goes up every five minutes.


From: john.grove@pr-marcusezombieplant.us

Sent: Monday, march 23, 2036 10:23 am

To: charles.sinclair@r&d-marcusezombieplant.us

Subject: Update on the show

Dear Charles,

I was hoping you would have replied by now, but if you need more time to think about it, that’s okay with me.

I have taken the liberty of taking it to the board of directors this weekend and they loved it!

Things are moving fast now, Charles. I think it is best if we meet face to face. Get our differences out of the way, have some lunch and make this project work!

Do you like sushi?


p.s. We decided on the name ‘American Runner’. It has a nice ring to it doesn’t it?


From: charles.sinclair@r&d-marcusezombieplant.us

Sent: Monday, march 23, 2036 pm

To: john.grove@pr-marcusezombieplant.us

Subject: re: Update on the show

I don’t want anything to do with you and your sick show. Even the Z-gulags in Russia are more humane. At least there they keep a fence between them.

There are also technical issues that make this whole ‘show’ the mother of all bad ideas.

What you are proposing is the equivalent of flooding the UPM with clutter. What do you think would happen when the zombs on the front would catch one of those idiots? They stop and start eating. But since the treadmill is still in motion they would move backwards into the other zombies who are still going forward. Impact after impact would happen until either the treadmill clogs up or all the zombs are catapulted off it at the end.

Do you have any idea the amount of damage my carefully selected specimens would suffer? Legs would break, arms snap off or, god forbid, their brains would receive such trauma they would be permanently out of order.

Don’t you get it that we catch and select the specimens in such a way that the herd will move at the same speed. Only the optimum constant speed will ensure that the treadmill generates the never-ending supply of energy we are trying to unlock.

How many fucking times do I have to explain how the Undead Perpetuum Mobile works?!

It’s not going to happen.


From: john.grove@pr-marcusezombieplant.us

Sent: Wednesday, march 25, 2036 9:50 am

To: charles.sinclair@r&d-marcusezombieplant.us

Subject: Disappointed

Dear Charles,

I’m sorry to write this, but I have to be honest with you. You are acting like a spoiled child. Not only are you being unnecessarily stubborn, you are being selfish as well.

Have you realized the good this show could do for America and its industries?

Maybe you have not realized it while you were stuck in your lab, but the majority of America has moved beyond the zombie threat. People are not scared anymore by the living dead, Charles. There are fewer zombie sightings every year. And usually it’s just some thawed half decomposed zombie!

The American people are complacent. Do you know what that does to an industry if no one wants to buy anti-zombie products anymore? What about the news channels? Do you think you can make a headline if the only news you got is one lousy thawed zombie or yet another casualty free UN battle in white zone Iceland?

If we don’t act now zombies will be a thing of the past, Charles. The people need to realize again the danger they are in. They need to see the blood and gore. They need to be reminded of what it is zombies do with decent Americans.

We can do that with this show. And if in the meantime it jump-starts a few ailing industries and help a few senators get reelected, is it really such a bad idea then, Charles?

I hope you reconsider. You are the only one against it, Charles. Trust me: nobody lasts long alone.



From: charles.sinclair@r&d-marcusezombieplant.us

Sent: M, march 23, 2036 10:05 pm

To: john.grove@pr-marcusezombieplant.us

Subject: re: Disappointed


From the bottom of my heart: screw you.

I own enough shares to block it.


From: john.grove@pr-marcusezombieplant.us

Sent: Friday, November 17, 2037 9:05 am

To: louis.smith@r&d-marcusezombieplant.us

Subject: Congratulations!

Dear Louis,

Congratulations with last night’s premier episode of American Runner! We had a whopping 51% rating. More then 50 million Americans watched it. UPM is the talk of the town.

You and your team really came through with that tension-inducing speed regulator. My whole family was glued to the screen.

If only Charles could have seen it all as well. Such a shame he died in that unfortunate accident last summer. It still gives me goose bumps thinking about it. Him working late at night on the treadmill in the tube. How the zombies escaped from their holding pens will always remain a mystery, Louis.

Anyways I just want to say to keep up the good work.


Thursday, 29 January 2009

Jane Austen would be turning in her grave...

literally in this book. I'll be honest and admit that I love Pride and Prejudice. It is the biggest chick-lit one can imagine but every time I read it I still hope that Elizabeth will get together with Mister Darcy in the end. ( Yes, it is that bad... I reread it a couple of times)

Anyhoo with this... ehm... enriching of the story I will not have to be ashamed anymore of reading Pride and Prejudice in public.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Thursday, 22 January 2009

At last - the end of Gitmo

As promised President Obama - ooh that feels good btw - started with the process of closing down Guantanamo today.

Of course there is a crap load of complex questions to be resolved - what will be done with the remaining 245 detainees of Gitmo; many of them already detained for years in a kind of judicial purgatory - but at last we finally have someone in the White House who openly states that torture is not okay, period.

For more info read this New York Times Article

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Why do I have to pay more for this?

"Why is this twice as expensive as your regular manga?" a customer asked me yesterday.

On the counter between us: a hentai magazine from the section where we keep the naughty books; the cover prominently displaying drawings of young schoolgirls undressed and in rather 'mature' poses.

"Well... uhm," I stumbled;"I guess this falls more into a niche market and the regular manga we purchase with bulk prices."

"Hehe, you said bulk," he giggled.

"Uhm..." uhm, indeed.

It's a bit more then I expected

How many cannibals could your body feed?

Friday, 9 January 2009

Fahrenheit 451 - 50th anniversary edition cover

Last week we had a new shipment of books coming into the store. This edition of Fahrenheit 451 caught my eye. I’ve read it a few years ago and it made a big impression on me. So I’m thrilled to see such a beautiful cover for the 50th anniversary edition.

If you have never read Fahrenheit you really should. It is the American equivalent of Orwell’s 1984 novel.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Ze New Year - Looking back and forward

Already a few days into 2009. How time flies by. Looking back at last year I can say it has been overall a good year.

The good stuff in 2008

My relationship with Deborah grew even stronger during 2008. Last sunday we were together for 8 years. Yeah me, and yeah Deb.
During 2008 we really helped each other through a few tough issues. It is nice to have someone you can depend on and it is also nice to know you are that special one for someone else.

Both of us got nice jobs last year. In May after eight years of being a postmen I switched jobs to become a bookseller at the American Book Center in Amsterdam. I love books so this feels like working in heaven for me. Plus it's a great job with all kind of nice perks - 40% discount on all books, oh yeah - and my colleagues are the greatest people in the world. No kidding: they are fun, smart, friendly and kind. I couldn't wish for nicer people to work with.

Deborah also decided to look for a new job. It was really amazing how the phone was literally ringing non-stop with job offers after just a few days of looking around. This made me a wee bit jealous but then again does she get a 40% discount on books? ( Well actually she does through me but that is besides the point) After just three days of searching she got a nice job at an organisation that provides childcare for children from broken families. She does not work with the children herself but she is responsible for a lot of financial things. I pay the rent and most of our groceries, so almost everything Deborah earns goes to a saving account. We are planning to use that money for when we move to a larger appartment later this year. On the educational front we are back on track. We both got stumped for quite a while at writing our master thesis, but now we have focus and are finally working again on getting that master's degree.

During the summer of 2008 we had two lovely and adorable guests called Elmo and Martin. They are the most fluffiest and cutest Persian cats we ever met. Actually our neighbour was babysitting them for a friend who went off to the Olympics in
Beijing, but they kept crawling under the fence to our place. Eventually we gave up of blocking it and they just spend whole days with us. Needless to say their fuzzy, adorable looks melted our hearts. Deborah even made a little toy by attaching a rubber band to a little ball of aluminium foil. Martin absolutely loved to jump after it every time I swirled it in the air. Elmo was a bit more dignified but even he couldn't resist the glittering ball for long.
When the Olympic flame stopped burning both Deborah and me were very sad, because it meant the end of Elmo and Martins stay with us. To be honest I had to wipe away a few tears the evening their owners took them to their home again.

2008 was also a nice year because I won a shared second place in a writing contest at Whatever, the blog of my favorite SF writers John Scalzi. Of course the contest was modest, it's not like I won a Pulitzer or something, but it is still nice when one of your favorite authors says: "Hey, I like what you wrote, lets give you a prize for it."
( Although I am still waiting for the book Mr. Scalzi promised to send me, apparently the
Ohio mail services are stuck in an alternate time continuum.)

The not so good stuff

I really acted like a slacker on all things related to physical excercise. Yes I still do my situps every morning - well almost every morning if I remember to do them - but I skipped a lot of karate practices. And with a lot I mean a freaking lot, so much my sensei now jokes every time he sees me: "Ah, new face!" Anyways, this year I have no conflicting agendas so I plan to go to every practice I can go to.

And of course I slacked with the blog. Not that I kid myself that a lot people noticed it, but still I could have honed my writing skills with the blog instead of playing computer games.

Looking forward 2009

I am planning to do a few things in 2009:

- Blogging on a regular basis. One of the reasons I neglected it was that I had no clear focus on what I should write. After a bit of soulsearching I decided that my the blog should become more personal, more about me instead of funny links. Yes, I know, the world is not interested about the daily events of a bloke in
Holland, but hey it keeps me writing and it will also be a kind of historical document for me, maybe even for my children or grandchildren. ( "Oh geesh, here comes grandpa with his old blogposts again.")

- Writing on a regular basis. I really want to practice my writing skills this year. I realized in 2008 that I want to become a writer. A Science-fiction writer even. You don't become a writer by only thinking about it so I will really work the writing muscles this year. I am planning to get a lot of practice by writing short stories and try to sell them to online SF magazines. With luck I might sell a few and start of a career, in the worst case I get a professional advice on why I suck.

And to finish the first post of the new year... I present to you:

Elmo & Martin and the Kingdom of the Aluminium Ball