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Kim Voynar

By Kim Voynar

On the Plus Side, My Seven-Year-Old Knows the Definition of Melee …

This past school year I seriously considered adding “Preparedness for the Zombie Apocalypse” to my kids’ learning plans, just for the fun of having our supervising teacher argue with me over whether (or how) zombie apocalypse knowledge fits within the rather constrained, uptight, definition of education in the “oh look at us, all four of our high schools made Newsweek’s Top 100 because we skew the scoring with AP tests” Bellevue School District.

Don’t get me wrong; as far as public school districts go, Bellevue is considered very desirable, and all four of my younger kids will be making their first foray into the realm of Bellevue’s “regular” schools next year, having homeschooled most of their lives up to this point. Most of that time we’ve been enrolled in one or another of the excellent parent partnership programs available to Seattle-area homeschoolers, and they spent last year at Bellevue’s homeschooling partnership program, Kelsey Creek.

At Kelsey Creek, my eighth grader was able to take classes like Poetry and Shakespeare, Socratic Seminar and Art History, and the youngers had classes like Animal Science, Pioneer Science, Astronomy and Animation, in addition to the usual suspects of readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmetic. But they didn’t have a class on zombie preparedness, and I always thought this was a little short-sighted, particularly given the BSDs obsession with being better than all the other districts at everything else.

Zombies are popular these days, and all the kids find zombies fascinating (in the abstract at least, probably they would find them less fascinating if real zombies were banging down the door to eat our brains). And hey, I’m all for being interested in things in the abstract, but in a real zombie apocalypse, you want to be prepared for real.

Last October, Seattle hosted the first ever ZomBCon (an event that promises to grow bigger and bigger, at least so long as zombies are the cool kidz), and I took the older three kids out of school for the day for a “field trip” so they could see for themselves the wide array of what zombies might look like, on the theory that being able to recognize zombies will be a huge advantage when the end days come.

Of course, I made them up like zombies before we went, so if any real zombies showed up, they could blend in and avoid getting their brains eaten — what kind of mother do you think I am?

And we had a great time at ZomBCon, hanging out with my friend John Wildman and his lovely wife Justina. John was in town working publicity on the event, but neither he nor Justina had taken the precaution of being made up like zombies so as to blend in better. I don’t know what he was thinking. You would think a guy like John would value his wife’s brains a little more than that, because his wife is very smart and has heaps of them, and everyone knows zombies like to eat the smart people first because their brains taste better. For all I know, maybe he wanted her brains to be eaten by zombies so people won’t always be talking about how smart she is.

Fortunately for both of them, we were on hand in zombie attire, thereby creating the illusion for any real zombies who wandered by all hungry that these two were already taken, so move along please. My favorite part of that weekend was when we showed up at the spendy fondue restaurant in full zombie regalia, and at first they were, “Uh, we don’t have any tables” even though the place was obviously half empty. They finally hid us away in a back room where we wouldn’t frighten off any other customers by making them think the place was under attack by undead brain eaters. Clearly, the employees of that fondue place are not prepared for a zombie apocalypse; if we’d been real zombies we would have eaten everyone’s brains instead of the fondue, except we maybe would have left our waitress alive so she could bring the white chocolate dessert fondue out when we we’d had our fill of brains. Not eating her brains would been the zombie way of leaving a big tip, see? I’ve thought this stuff through.

So this morning I woke up to find Luka and Veda and their friend G, who’s been sleeping over the past couple nights, on the computer taking the zombie survival quiz. See, when you’re doing your job as a parent and teaching your kids about zombies, they pay it forward to their friends, kind of like that old shampoo commercial (you know, the one where she told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on and so on and so on). They had very serious discussions going on about important zombie survival matters like what kind of vehicle would be best for getting around in a zombie apocalypse, and which melee weapon was most efficient, and they were, as you might expect, doing very well on the quiz. What? Hey, at least my seven-year-old knows the definition of “melee” and can read big words like “apocalypse.” Can yours?

On July 2, Seattle will have its third annual Red White and Dead Zombie Walk in Fremont. It’s a huge, all ages event, and last year some 7,000 zombies turned out for it. All the good mobile food carts in Seattle will be there, too, so if you’re anywhere else in Seattle on July 2 looking for a good, cheap taqueria or a food-cart hot dog slathered with cream cheese, you’ll be jack out of luck, buster.

Seattle has garnered TWO world records for zombie walks, and believe you me, we do not intend to be beaten by New Jersey this or any other year — that, as they say, you may tie to. I’m thinking we definitely need to take the kids to Red White and Dead this year. 7,000 zombies in one place, plus getting to be a part of setting a world record? What kind of lousy mom would I be if I deprived them of the opportunity for that?

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One Response to “On the Plus Side, My Seven-Year-Old Knows the Definition of Melee …”

  1. Bill Nelson says:

    Hi Kim,

    Great article – I like your way of thinking. I would rather have my kids know how to survive the zombie apocalypse than being clueless when the time comes. Not to mention that the preparedness will apply to other areas of life – or unlife, sorry.


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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon