Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Back in the day, when my ex-boyfriend worked at Starbucks, he used to try to badger me into drinking coffee. "It's the best," he promised, and I would scrunch up my nose and sock him in the arm and say, verbatim: "Ew." He would wax poetic about coffee in the morning, coffee with a cigarette, coffee as poop-enabling device. Apparently, coffee was, like, two weeks away from curing lupus and starting a band.

But I resisted. Lord, I resisted! I avoided coffee in all forms, my most-hated being mocha ice cream. ("Blech," went my highly-involved reasoning.) To me, coffee was the bringer of sour breath, upset stomachs and crazy shakiness. Plus, it made wide-eyed insomniacs out of most of us. And for the longest time after our breakup, any reminder of the ex was enough to send me into a shaky, insomniac state, regardless of my beverage choice. Since he worked at a coffee shop, and loved to tell me about it ("No, seriously, you can taste the difference between the Kenyan and the Guatemalan. You can. Look, if you're not even going to try....just try it!"), it was, understandably, a reminder.

That was then, this is now. The ex is long-past, and coffee has found a new place in my heart. I am, and always have been, a Diet Coke girl. The bubbles! The crispness! The portability (seriously, try throwing a piping-hot mug of coffee into your rucksack and see how things shake out)! But coffee, especially as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, is good things. Plus, while there is no such thing as the Coke Zero shop, there is the coffee shop. Barring a bar, it's a good place to chill. For hours.

True, drink too much and you'll be shaky and cracked-out, plus sweaty and foul-breathed. Delightful! But striking the right balance between sleepy-eyed doyenne and super-charged speedy gonzales transforms a person from so-so to ready for anything. Including, it must be said, multiple trips to the bathroom. Still, coffee makes the world go 'round: it's right up there with tea, beer and, ahem, Coca-Cola as one of the world's favourite drinks. And with recent industry improvements facilitated by Fair Trade, coffee isn't as bad for your conscience as it used to be.

It has to be said, however, that I stand my revulsion towards mocha ice cream. That is some gnarly stuff. I can't explain it: chocolate? Good! Coffee? Pretty good, I guess. Ice cream? Yeah, I'll have some! So why is combining the three so gross to me? Perhaps it lies in the sugar + caffeine + sugar^caffeine = OHMYGOD WHY IS MY EYE TWITCHING?! that can sometimes happen. Maybe.

Monday, October 5, 2009

President of Zombieland

Shaun of the Dead, while excellent, lacked a certain something. It was gory, like a good zombie movie should be. It was funny, like a good comedy should be. It featured someone getting hit in the head with a dart, which, like, obviously.

Now, let's turn the class's attention to Zombieland. It had Woody Harrelson, which makes any movie better. Woody Harrelson goes on to say "You got a purty mouth" to a zombiefied redneck, which, like, obviously. And it referenced Babe in one the best non-goodbye scenes I've ever witnessed. Plus! Not to spoiler the central third of the movie, but the cameo that shows up is legendary.

The critics have been generally positive: thankfully, most of them understand that Zombieland is a big rompy road trip through the heart Zomberica. The New York Times tragically elected not to get the joke, instead referencing concentration camps and being a total snooze about the movie. Seriously, if you're going to review movies like Zombieland, don't send a gal who's going to actually take it, you know, seriously.

Because while Zombieland isn't exactly going to top the Oscar nominations this year (although I would love it if it did), it does achieve what it sets out to do: namely, kick ass in the morning and take names in the evening.

First of all, there's there's a lot of gore. Not just blood, either. Ever wonder what your Achilles tendon might look if it was ripped out by way of someone's teeth? Zombieland can tell you. Curious about why you should wear your seatbelt, even as bloodthirsty children try to eat you? Zombieland has your answer. Where Shaun of the Dead was lighter on the blood, Zombieland is basically washing its hair with it.

Secondly, it's funny in an American way. The jokes are broad, referencing pop culture (Titanic, the aforementioned Babe) and a lot of the humor comes from pairing the hyperactive and wild-eyed Harrelson with the slightly (okay, totally) neurotic and used-to-being-lonely Jesse Eisenberg. That doesn't make it bad. Their relationship grows and shifts, which is normal until you remember that you're watching a movie about zombies.

Zombieland succeeds because it remembers that, post-zombocalypse, people aren't just going to turn into ass-kicking supersoldiers with Berettas for hands and grunting standing in for talking. Shy college dudes are just going to be shy college dudes who now tote shotguns, that's all. In Zombieland, people still need families - maybe now more than ever, since their original fam has been most likely devoured by the undead. Trust issues aren't just going to run in these new families; they'll practically gallop. And proficiency with a firearm is non-negotiable, even if it does lead to some particularly post-NRA father-daughter bonding.

It's become clear that the standard to which Zombieland would be held is Shaun of the Dead, but the two can co-exist in relative harmony. In fact, the two are almost opposite in effect: Shaun starts off slow and emotion-driven, and builds to rousing fight sequences. Zombieland starts off the action with a lot of, well, action, and then lets the characters build and flow. It works, even as you marvel at Harrelson's gigantic arms, because Zombieland wants the post-zombie America to be a place where, even if you lose everything, you still get both a family and a chance to crack wise about Caddyshack.