Leveling Up In 2016: Zombie Apocalypse Prep

It’s a brand new year! While I’m a firm believer in the idea that you can change your life any time of the year, I really love that New Years is a time that people all over are working to better their lives. Like I’ve said before, 2015 was a rough year for me, and I’m definitely glad to have it behind me. I’ve set a few tangible goals for myself in the coming year in hopes that they don’t fall to the wayside like other ambiguous resolutions I’ve made for myself like “lose weight” or “be more outgoing”. I can’t guarantee what will happen in this coming year, but I’m going to do my best to make 2016 better than 2015.

Level Up 2016

One of my big goals for the year is getting healthy. I realize that part of the reason 2015 was so rough for me was because times would get tough, and I would simply stop taking care of myself. I wouldn’t eat right, I wouldn’t exercise regularly, and my health would take a backseat to simply surviving. So this year, a big thing I’m focusing on is getting physically healthy as well as emotionally. Besides, if I’m gonna survive the zombie apocalypse, I need to remember rule number one:

rule 1 cardio

While I take ballet twice a week and practice a few times a week at home, it really wasn’t getting me where I needed to be physically. I knew that I really needed to try to get running back into my life. The thing is, jogging really isn’t my favorite thing in the world…

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There have been times in my life where I’ve gotten my body used to running regularly and I haven’t fully hated it, but having to work myself up to regular running from zero regular running SUCKS. So I decided to take it easy. I’m starting with running twice a week, and I’ll work up from there. Still, the key to reaching my goal of running regularly is, you know, actually running, so I needed to find some sort of running plan to keep me getting out there. Instead of trying a couch-to-5k program or just winging a running program, I decided the most natural thing for me to do was bring my love of the undead together with my desire to get healthy. With that in mind, I took on the role of Runner 5 in the running app, Zombies, Run!

I’m sure you’ve heard of this app. People talk about it all the time when a geek mentions a desire to start running. People love this app, and if you look through reviews of the app, it says that users have been so enthralled with the episodes that they actually forgot they were running. So did I forget I was running? Well…

leslie knope

Not so much. I was keenly aware that I was running. The episodes are interesting and exciting, but there is a lot of time where you’re just listening to your own music, with an occasional notification that you’ve picked up an item. However, the story was exciting enough to keep me interested in the run, and I kept going. I will admit that there is one time during the run that I was focused more on the mission than the work of running, and that was during intense zombie chase. The app will let you know when a zombie is right behind you, and you have to sprint to get away from the zombie. If you can’t lose the zombie, you’ll have to drop one of your items to distract it. I couldn’t help but run my hardest when that happened, regardless of how tired I was. I guess that’s because I’ve seen too many zombie films. I may not be a great runner yet, but I know enough about the undead to know I’m definitely not sticking around when a zombie is close.

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This app has been able to help me find a new way to look at running. Even though I believe people are 100% full of crap when they say the app makes them forget they’re working out, the app does make your run feel enough like a game to make it fun. The app is even holding a virtual race this spring that I’m registered  and training for. The idea of an actual race–getting up early, running an unfamiliar route, being jostled about by strangers–has always seemed intimidating and unpleasant to me. But a virtual race like this is something I can definitely handle. I’m actually quite excited about it.

I’m realizing that the way to get healthy and happy is to figure out what I need to be successful–and it’s okay if it doesn’t look the same as everyone else. Some people can be motivated to run by numbers on a scale, and some just have a weird, innate desire to physically torture themselves go on long runs. Others of us need to pretend that we’re running for our lives from a pack of flesh-hungry members of the undead, but that’s okay too. 2016 is all about finding what works for me and what makes me happy and healthy. Running away from zombies just happens to be one of those things.

What changes are you making in 2016? Do you use any running apps? Have you used Zombies, Run! before? If you have, let me know if you’re registered for the 2016 spring race in the comments! 

The Mary Sue Post: The Walking Dead Season 6 Mid-Season Finale Recap

Well, we’ve finally reached the end of the first half of season 6 of The Walking Dead. This season has been quite unique in that it has only spanned across the time of a couple of days, but despite that small amount of time, this season has been packed with action. I’m talking about the entire thing over at The Mary Sue–and the crazy ominous introduction to NEGAN.

Speaking of Negan, did you catch the “post credits” scene that was the prologue to part II of this season? If not, never fear, I’ve got it for you right here. Didn’t see the finale? No worries. There aren’t any spoilers in this clip:

OH MY WORD, I’m so nervous about Negan, you guys. But enough hand-wringing over what’s to come. For now, head over to The Mary Sue and we can talk about the mid-season finale. Here’s a bit from my recap (SPOILER ALERT):

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…I can officially say that I am frustrated beyond belief with Morgan. His character progression has been fascinating to watch, but I’m so tired of his new lifestyle putting literally EVERYONE at risk. I appreciate Morgan doing everything he can to keep a firm grasp on his humanity, but I fear that all he’s ultimately doing is making naive choices that will crush him and the entire group. I’m curious, especially with the introduction of Negan and the Saviors (we’ll talk about them in a second), how Morgan will fare in the second half of the season.

Over at Rick’s group, the group makes a startling discovery once they are safe in Jessie’s house: Deanna has been bitten. As they decide what move to make next, and as they allow Deanna some time to process that her life will soon be over, Ron and Carl are in the basement having the worst-timed fight in the history of ever. Last week’s episode ended with Ron very clearly intending to shoot Carl. Ron holds a lot of anger towards Carl and Rick, with Rick killing Ron’s dad, and Carl having a strange relationship with Ron’s girlfriend, Enid. I had hoped that the ginormous walker herd would sway Ron’s teenage bursts of anger, but it only served to amplify it. Ron attacks Carl and tries to shoot him, breaking windows and letting walkers in the house in the process. When Rick asks Carl if everything was okay in the basement between the two boys, Carl assures Rick that everything is fine. Carl then goes into the other room with Ron, lays the verbal smack down on Ron. While Carl managed to diffuse the situation for the moment, I feel very certain that we haven’t seen the last of murderous Ron…

Read the rest over at The Mary Sue, and let me know your thoughts about the episode and what’s to come in part II of season 6 in the comments!

The Mary Sue Post: The Walking Dead Recap

We’re one episode away from the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead, and last night’s episode was CRAZY. We finally got our answer to THAT giant question. I’m talking about it all over at The Mary Sue. I hope you’ll join me there, and let me know your thoughts about the episode in the comments.

Spoilers ahead! 

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…back at Alexandria, things are bubbling just under the surface. Ron is continuing to get his sketchy gun lessons from Rick and Carl. I don’t think there’s a soul in the fandom who thought Ron was learning to shoot to aid in home security and walker defense, and the fact that Ron stole ammo, followed Carl with a gun in hand, and appeared to have the intent to shoot Carl. Of course, there was a significant event that derailed Ron’s plans, but we’ll talk about that in a moment. Suffice it to say that it seems our worst fears about Ron were most certainly true. I’m incredibly concerned about Carl’s safety in the weeks to come, but I do think that Carl could certainly hold his own against Ron. We’ll have to see how that plays out.

Arguably the largest problem Alexandria was facing—apart from the inexperienced citizens, the naive leader, and their faulty walker defense plans—was Morgan and his insistence on upholding his “all life has value”. All life, including the lives of the Wolves who attacked Alexandria and killed countless citizens. All life, including the Wolf Morgan has imprisoned, who promised to kill every person in Alexandria should he survive. All life may have value, but the threads are starting to unravel in Morgan’s plan for pacifism. Is Morgan really valuing life by saving the lives of killers? Are you valuing life by keeping killers in the midst of your family and friends?

Rick approaches Morgan about the three Wolves who attacked and nearly killed him in the RV—Wolves that Morgan let escape from Alexandria…

Read the rest at The Mary Sue!

 

The Mary Sue Post: The Walking Dead Recap

You guys, this season of The Walking Dead has been giving me tons of feelings. With a major character that I love potentially dying but potentially being okay, this season has left me a hot mess of big fandom feels. It also doesn’t help that the showrunners are low-key trolling us all by taking the actor’s name out of the credits and making us wait WEEKS to find out this guy’s fate.

Well, this week still didn’t give us answers on that particular characters fate (can you tell I’m avoiding spoilers up here?) but it did give us an episode more Daryl-focused, which is always a plus. I’m over at The Mary Sue talking about it, and I hope you’ll join me over there to break down the episode–and the mysterious voice on the walkie at the end! (spoilers ahead–be wary)

Daryl

…Daryl is separated from Sasha and Abraham after a spontaneous attack. While my first instinct was to call the attackers Wolves, they seem far too in control and too calculated for the crazy, unrestrained brutality of the Wolves. They’re also attacking in cars with guns, when Wolves–at least the ones we’ve met–attack on foot without guns. I have a guess on who the attackers are, but more on that later.

As Daryl is trying to hide from his attackers, a group of three road-weary travelers take Daryl captive and steal his crossbow. Right off the bat, it seems like these three think Daryl is someone he isn’t, repeatedly saying Daryl is “one of them”, defending the bag they’re carrying by saying, “we earn what we took.” It’s obvious that these guys have clearly escaped from someone, but again, their lucid nature and the lack of a grotesque W carved into their forehead makes me think they aren’t Wolves.

While Daryl was busy being a prisoner, Abraham and Sasha held up in the office of Sunrise Auto Insurance to wait for Daryl and plan their next move if he never showed up. I’ll be honest, things got a bit weird between those two. Sasha spent a great deal of the episode trying to figure out where exactly Abraham’s head was. Both Sasha and Abraham have really struggled with living life in this new world, but Sasha seems to have some wisdom and peace that Abraham is notably lacking. While Abraham is busy being reckless, jumping from moving cars, nearly shooting a lone walker, and yelling in the faces of walkers, Sasha tries to figure out what exactly Abraham’s motivation is for being so reckless. Sasha and Abraham have big conversations on the point of life, especially in light of their losses, Abraham losing his family and his world-saving mission, and Sasha losing her brother and her boyfriend. Their entire interaction here seems bizarre, Sasha trying to keep Abraham lucid and safe, and Abraham essentially going a bit stir crazy. Of course, it all culminates with Abraham coming on to Sasha because he just knows she’s into him. That gross pick up line aside, it’s unclear if he was right about Sasha’s feelings for him. It’s also unclear if, when she said he had things to get in order back home, if it was in reference to Rosita. We’ll have to see how that random pairing plays out…

Read the rest over at The Mary Sue, and tell me your thoughts on the episode in the comments!

The Mary Sue Post: Walking Dead Recap

Last night’s episode of The Walking Dead slowed things down a bit and gave us a glimpse into Morgan’s back story. It was great. The acting was spectacular, and the story was compelling. The thing is, after leaving us on the CRAZY cliffhanger that they did last week, I was annoyed that the story not only didn’t address those cliffhangers, but the timeline actually went backwards. Avoiding cliffhangers aside, the episode was a pretty great one. I’m over at The Mary Sue talking about it. Here’s an excerpt:

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…when he encounters a crazed, gun-wielding Morgan creeping around in his yard, instead of killing him, Eastman offers several warnings before knocking Morgan out with his staff and locking him in that living room-jail. Eastman even has sarcastic conversations with Morgan despite the fact that Morgan doesn’t do much beyond screaming “KILL ME!!!!” at him.

Just like Morgan was a godsend for Rick in season one, Eastman was a similar type of “guardian angel” for Morgan. Eastman is incredibly patient, helping Morgan work through his PTSD and offering him a healthier way of living in the midst of the destruction around him. When Morgan explains that he’s still alive only to “clear”—basically kill every single thing he encounters—Eastman insists that all life has value, and that there is a way out of the depths of despair he’s found himself. Slowly but surely, Eastman is able to pull Morgan out of his shell. He protects Eastman’s goat, Eastman begins to train Morgan in aikido, and eventually Morgan is able to level up enough to unlock Eastman’s tragic backstory…

What did you think of the episode? Read the rest of my recap at The Mary Sue and let me know your thoughts in the comments!

The Mary Sue Post: Walking Dead Recap, Episode 3 “Thank You”

There will be MAJOR spoilers ahead in both my linked Mary Sue recap and in this particular post. If you haven’t seen last night’s episode of The Walking Dead yet, TURN BACK NOW.

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Alright, let’s continue.

This has been an AMAZING season of The Walking Dead. Every single episode has left me breathless. This week was no exception, certainly, but this week also reminded us that while The Walking Dead is full of gore and zombie thrills, it’s also a terrible, gut-wrenching, soul-destroyer of a show. This week was rough, you guys, and while the actual amount of roughness is still a bit ambiguous as we don’t know if Glenn is alive or dead. He was notably missing from Talking Dead‘s weekly “in memoriam” (though they did end that section with “Please don’t be true. Please don’t be true. Please don’t be true.”), and he wasn’t an infamous “surprise guest”. Scott Gimple released a statement that Chris Hardwick read on the show that, well, really told us a whole lot of nothing.

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We’ll have to wait until next week to find out what really happened to Glenn (PSA: Next week’s episode will be 90 minutes). I, for one, choose to believe he’s alive, but we’ll see what fresh hell next week brings us. It’s worth noting that on next week’s Talking Dead, there will be a “surprise guest”.

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Somewhere in the distance Chris Hardwick is screaming, “A SURPRISE GUEST DOESN’T MEAN ANYTHING!!!”

So while we wait to see what comes of next week, let’s talk about what went down this week over at The Mary Sue. Here’s an excerpt of my recap:

Glenn

…the group ultimately decides to split up to help their people in Alexandria and deal with the herd. Sasha and Abraham stay in the car, directing as many walkers as they can, Daryl breaks off to head back to Alexandria, Rick goes off by himself to get back to the RV, and Glenn and Michonne take the rest of the group back to Alexandria. From there, Glenn and Nicholas (boo, hiss) break off to set a fire to draw the attention of the walkers.

Michonne really has a pretty rough job. She’s got to protect one Alexandrian, Annie, who has a sprained ankle, Scott, who was shot in the leg, one bitten by a walker (and offering his super sweet post-apocalyptic love story as the virus slowly destroys him), and Heath, who was super skeptical about Rick, Glenn and Michonne. Michonne manages to lay a serious truth bomb on Heath, shutting down his doubts against Rick and that entire group, proving that Alexandrians don’t understand the reality of this new, harsh world. Heath gets to see this first hand when all but one of his fellow Alexandrians met a grisly end at the hand of walkers, and finally starts to understand where Michonne was coming from. Though Michonne’s group isn’t wholly safe just yet, they seem to be the group in the best situation out of everyone.

Rick, on the other hand, is in a seriously sticky situation. He’s badly injured his hand while he was hacking through walkers, was attacked by the Wolves Morgan let go in last week’s episode—Wolves that Rick promptly killed—and is now stuck in an RV that is not working as the walker herd closes in…

Read the rest over at The Mary Sue! Let me know what you think will happen to Glenn (and Rick, as he’s in quite the pickle, too), and let me know your thoughts on the episode in the comments. 

The Mary Sue Post: TWD Recap, JSS

Last night’s episode of The Walking Dead was INTENSE, you guys. The episode started off deceptively slow, and then kicked things into high gear and didn’t wind down until the credits rolled. After my meh reaction to Fear the Walking Dead, I’ve loved that the first two episodes of the show ran at fast pace with tons of action. But, I’m breaking all this down over at The Mary Sue. I’d love it if you’d join me over there and let me know what you thought of the episode in the comments! [spoilers ahead, obvs]

Lennie James as Morgan Jones - The Walking Dead _ Season 6, Episode 2 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Lennie James as Morgan Jones – The Walking Dead _ Season 6, Episode 2 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

This week’s episode of The Walking Dead was intense, and sent us on an hour-long adrenaline rush. Before we jump in, be warned that there will be spoilers ahead, and be sure to check out the recap of last week’s episode if you haven’t already.

Essentially, this week’s episode can pretty be much be summed up with this single gif:

anchorman

Starting a tad bit before the honking that diverted the walker herd being led by Daryl on his bike, this week’s episode started out pretty slow—some might even say it was a bit boring. Jessie and Ron were fighting over Ron’s behavior and whether or not Rick is a good man. Eugene and Tara were meeting the new Alexandria doctor, Denise—who, though she went to med school, was actually a practicing psychiatrist prior to the walker uprising. Maggie and Deanna were talking about planting crops. Carol was meeting with some of the other Alexandria women talking about pasta makers and quitting smoking. Carl was offering to teach Father Gabriel to fight and getting a little sad because Enid was cozying up to Ron. Carol pops a casserole in the oven, she starts the timer, looks out the window to see her friend smoking …

… and then watches her get hacked to death by a strange man with a machete…

Read the rest at The Mary Sue, and be sure to follow me on Twitter so we can live tweet together during the show!

Everyday Cosplay: Michonne

Sunday marked the intense return of The Walking Dead, and I couldn’t be happier to have that show back in my life. So, of course I had to create an outfit to pay tribute to one of my favorite characters from The Walking Dead, the one and only Michonne.

Michonne

Michonne is crazy talented at killing walkers with her katana, she’s fearless, she’s a fighter, but she’s also loving and funny.

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Really, if I could bring even a small portion of Michonne into my everyday life, I feel like I’d be doing a great job. So, to do just that, please enjoy this Michonne-inspired outfit. You’ll have to bring your own katana, though.

Everyday Michonne

 

The Mary Sue Post: Walking Dead Season 6 Recap!

I am SO excited to have The Walking Dead back in my life. I missed that show so very much, and after checking out the spin-off Fear the Walking Dead, I only missed Rick and the gang that much more.

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes - The Walking Dead _ Season 6, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes – The Walking Dead _ Season 6, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Happily, we’re back, and this season kicked off with a bang, a generous usage of band-aids, a walker-parade, and helium-filled balloons. Weird, I know. BUT the episode was fantastic, and I’m over at The Mary Sue talking about it. I hope you’ll join me there to talk about it.

Oh, and remember:

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…when we arrived back at Alexandria in the season 6 premiere, we find Rick calling the shots, acting as hardcore as when we saw him in the latter episodes of season 5. This episode is structurally different than most, as it bounces back and forth through time, showing flashbacks in black and white. The flashbacks start essentially the moment after Rick pulls the trigger to shoot Pete, and end with a mysterious horn blaring to derail the group’s attempt to address the issue of an enormous horde barreling down on the faulty walls protecting Alexandria.

The flashbacks largely center around the tension back at Alexandria. Several Alexandrians are very unsettled with Rick’s new role among the community, especially after shooting Pete, and they decide that they need to develop a plan to overthrow Rick. The group of dissenters is led by a man named Carter, played by the one and only Ethan Embry. Carter decides that the only way to make Alexandria safe again is to take out Rick, and he leads a group of people to try to develop a plan to kill our favorite sheriff…

Read the rest at The Mary Sue, and let me know what you thought of the premiere in the comments!

The Mary Sue Post: Fear the Walking Dead Finale Recap

Fear the Walking Dead aired its season one finale yesterday, and I have to admit that I was kind of impressed. If you haven’t seen my recaps of the entire season, be sure to check those out. If you’ve been keeping up, you’ll know that I haven’t been overly thrilled about how the Walking Dead spin-off has turned out. Happily, the season finale was the action, adventure, scares, gross-out moments, and drama that we’ve come to expect from a story told in the Walking Dead universe. I was actually quite surprised by how much I enjoyed the season finale, and it made me pretty interested in what season two had to offer. But I unpack this all a bit more in my recap over at The Mary Sue. I hope you’ll join me over there to talk about Fear the Walking Dead and the finale!

Disclaimer: Spoilers ahead! Read at your own risk if you aren’t caught up on Fear the Walking Dead!

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Alright friends, the first season of Fear the Walking Dead is in the books, and it was a pretty intense finale. If you’ve been reading the recaps I’ve posted this season, you’ll know I’ve not been thoroughly impressed with the show, largely because I found the dramatic irony it relied so heavily on frustrating at best, and unbelievable and stupid at worst.

In the Talking Dead special, Chris Hardwick called out how hard fans have been on the survivors, mentioning that he hoped people wouldn’t immediately decide to shoot someone in the head if they looked sick in public, which is a fair point. Of course, the actor who plays Travis, Cliff Curtis, countered by reminding Chris of the walker who was discovered eating a dog, summing up my issue with the show pretty perfectly: No, you definitely wouldn’t shoot a stranger who looked sick in public, but if you saw a clearly sick individual doing something horrificlike eating a dog, you wouldn’t try to approach him and reason with him, right? If they tried to bite you or attack you, you’d protect yourself, wouldn’t you?

But that was the tough job Fear the Walking Dead had to try to tackle. How do you tell the beginning of a story to an audience who not only knows what’s really happening in the world, but they also know how to eliminate the walkers, that any quarantine efforts do not work, and how widespread the infection is. Essentially, how do you keep people interested in the beginning of a story when they already know the ending…

Read the rest over at The Mary Sue, and let me know what you thought of the first season and the finale of Fear the Walking Dead in the comments!