Category Archives: Featured Articles

26
Nov

Zombie University – It could save your life

As we all get ready for the Holiday season, it’s important to be prepared.  The chances of a zombie outbreak are always greater when you find yourself in a shopping mall.  As you all get out to brave the masses over the next few weeks, make sure you are alert for signs of the undead.  For those not as conversant in all things zombie, I’ve found an informative and video to teach you Zombies 101.  Please take time to watch this video and share it with your family and friends.  It could be the difference between becoming a survivor and becoming bait.

 

24
Nov

Ten Things I’m Thankful For This Year – 2011

Last year I shared with you ten things I was thankful for on Thanksgiving.  It gave me an opportunity to sit down and reflect on the year and really served to start my day off well.  So, in the spirit of giving, I’ve decided to make it an annual event and share ten more things I’m thankful for this year.  It’s not an exhaustive list (and I’m still thankful for almost everything from last year’s list), so consider this more an expansion of that list, not a replacement.  Either way, I hope you enjoy it. 

  • I’m thankful for the new opportunities and challenges I’ve been given this year.  I’m not one to enjoy standing still – it’s good to have motion in my life.


  • I’m thankful for the support of my family and friends.  Those new opportunities have come with a healthy dose of change – and without the support of those closest to me, I wouldn’t have even considered them.


  • I’m thankful that my wife has a love of scrapbooking.  She is capturing so many moments, both large and small, that we will be able to savor again and again like a fine wine in our old age.


  • I’m thankful for the time I got to spend with my grandfather before he passed away this year.  Saying goodbye is never easy – but it’s far better than not getting the chance to say anything at all.


  • I’m thankful for the light in my daughter’s eyes as she greets me at the door when I get home from work each night.  It always makes my day better.


  • I’m thankful for books.  I am still able to lose myself in them every single day.  They open up new worlds to me, provide me with an escape when I need it most, and make me think about the world around me.  They’ve helped me meet some very cool people over the last 18 months.


  • I’m thankful for my grandmother’s strawberry cake.  It is, quite possibly, the perfect food.


  • I’m thankful for afternoons working on piano with my son.  He doesn’t always enjoy it (especially my clapping to keep him in tempo), but sharing music with him brings me great joy.


  • I’m thankful for warm blankets on a cold winter’s morning and cool sheets on a hot summer’s night.


  • I’m thankful for my freedom.  Okay, you’re right – this one was on last year’s list as well – but it’s so important, it bears repeating.  Without freedom, we’re all just colorful paper puppets dancing at the end of someone else’s strings.   



Take a moment and think about all you have to be thankful for this year.  You may find it’s more than you thought.  I hope all of you have a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving.  Enjoy the food, the family, the friends, and the football!

14
Nov

Guest Review – “Elf” and “Unlovable”

My daughter is just learning to read.  It’s a fun time here in our house, and particularly gratifying for me to see her beginning what I hope is a long and rewarding love affair with books.  .

 

She’s always been artistic (she designed the logo for thewordzombie.com), and now she’s throwing her hat into the writing and reviewing ring.  Not really knowing what blogging is about, she still wanted to “review” a few books for me and have them posted.  As a father – how could I resist? So, without further ado – here are the first two book reviews by my daughter – or, as she told me she would like to be known here – “Little Miss Chocolate Zombie”.

 

“Elf”

“Elf” is a story about Buddy the Elf.  My favorite part was when he reached the tallest branches on the tallest Christmas tree.  It was really funny when he carried a bunch of candy canes.  I didn’t like it when Buddy left Papa elf for a while. 

 

I learned the being different from everyone is what makes you, you.  “Elf” is a good Christmas book.   You should read it.

 

 

“Unlovable”

“Unlovable” is about a dog named Alfred.  The cat tells him that he is unlovable. I didn’t like it when the cat taught the parrot to say “unlovable”.

 

My favorite part was when the new people moved in next door to Alfred. Alfred’s next-door neighbor is a dog like him named Rex.  At first, Alfred told Rex he was a Golden Retriever because he though he was unlovable.  Rex dug a hole under the fence so he could play with Alfred.  I liked it when Alfred and Rex played together.

 

The story showed me that even when someone says you are unlovable, you CAN be lovable.  I think Alfred is lovable.  He is really cute when he eats and sleeps.  He has a cute curly tail.

 

You should read this book.  It will teach you a lot of different things.  I learned that you should stay away from people who are mean to you. 

 

 

And there you have it.  The first is what could be a long string of hard-hitting reviews from “Little Miss Chocolate Zombie”.  Let me know what you think – I’ll pass the feedback along to her.  I would just caution you to be nice.  She has quite a temper and holds a grudge for a LONG time.  She is, after all, her father’s daughter.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

 

9
Nov

What haven’t I written anything in almost a month??

First, let me apologize to everyone.  It’s been almost a month since I’ve posted anything new here at The Word Zombie.  When I sat down, looked at the site and realized how long it had been, I was shocked.  And saddened.  I’ve poured myself into this site over the last year and a half.  The last thing I want to do now is to let it languish.  I still have a lot to say (that will come as a shock to no one who knows me), and a lot to share.  So why the long delay?  Let me explain.

 

Two things have conspired to keep me away from the keyboard over the last month.  They are both good in their own right, but not so good for the flow of content to The Word Zombie.  The first has to do with my job.

 

Last week, I accepted a new position at work.  After starting there 18 years ago as an unpaid intern, I’ve just been promoted to the head of sales for the US and Canada.  It’s been a long and exciting journey, but the new job will require that I relocate my family to Los Angeles.

 

That wasn’t a decision or decision making process my wife and I took lightly.  Both of my children are now in school.  Having myself lived in the same house from the day I started kindergarten until a few months after I graduate college, having my kids deal with changing schools again was not something I looked forward to.  Add to that the pressure of finding good schools in LA and it made for a lot of late night discussions.

 

We’re not new to relocation – we’ve done three times before.  Still, it’s stressful.  There is a lot you have to do.  Some things go well and some things don’t.  Selling a house is never fun, even in a good economy and housing market.  I’m not sure if you’ve read the news lately – we don’t have either right now.

 

That being said, the job is a great opportunity both for my family and I.  It’s something I really wanted to do, and to her credit, my wife supported me – just as she’s always done.  So, we made the decision to take the job and relocate.  It was announced last week and now the wheels have all been set in motion for a move.

 

During all the conversations over the past few weeks, all the late nights doing research on the internet, and all the pitches to my kids on how cool California is – I found it hard to focus on writing.  It was hard to find the time and, quite frankly, I gave myself permission to let the blog slip while we where making our decision.  Right or wrong – that was the choice I made.  Now, however, everything has been decided and I can’t give myself a free pass any longer.  I need to write.  So, here I am – writing about why I haven’t been writing.  Ironic much?

 

The second reason I haven’t written much has to do with what I’ve been reading.  I have a few reviews I need to catch up on, but about 5 weeks ago I dove headlong into a tremendous series of books and haven’t been able to put them down. I’ve literally been finishing one book and picking up the next in the series within minutes.  I’ve been so consumed with reading them; I haven’t even begun to think about how to review them.  I wanted to finish the series first.

 

What are the books you ask?  They are the Repairman Jack novels and the Adversary Cycle novels by F. Paul Wilson.  Between both series there are 21 books, telling the “secret history of the world”.  The final Repairman Jack novel was published in October and a revised version of the last book in the Adversary Cycle is due to be published early next year.  When I get finished with the last Repairman Jack book I’ll share all my thoughts on the entire Repairman Jack series.  Next year, I’ll recap the Adversary Cycle after “Nightworld” is published again.  I promise.

 

I’ll have a lot of time on airplanes in the coming months – time I plan to spend reading, writing, and also sleeping.  As I said, I still have a lot to say.  I’ll have new content up more regularly over the coming weeks.  In fact, to get things back on track, my daughter has graciously agreed to provide reviews for two books she’s recently enjoyed.  (She’s just learning to read and is excited to be joining the blogosphere.)  They’ll be posted by the end of the week.

 

Again, let me apologize for the sorry state of the blog over the past month.  I don’t take a single reader of The Word Zombie for granted.  You are gracious enough to spend a small portion of your day here with me; I owe you a small portion of my day spent writing in return.  Thank you all for your patience and your understanding.  Talk to you soon.   

14
Oct

12 Proposed Common Sense Airline Rules

I have what might be best described as a love/hate relationship with flying.  I love to travel and see new places – I hate the ridiculous amount of regulations and “theater of the absurd” rules.  I’ve written about many of my adventures on airplanes and in airports in the past.  This week, I hit a new level of the absurd.  It would be laugh out loud funny if it weren’t true.

 

On a flight to Los Angeles this week, I had taken my seat and was getting settled in for the trip.  I’m a quirky traveler, but I have a system that works for me.  I pulled out my iPhone and headphones and dialed up my “Plane Music” playlist.  I took my book and a thermos of hot tea (brewed after the security checkpoint, of course), and put them in the seat pocket in front of me.  I checked my Blackberry, answered a few messages, and then turned it off for the flight.  All systems checked out – I was ready to go.

 

30
Sep

“One Freaking Apple” – What I learned on the road last week

If you’ve been with me for the past year, you’ll know I always seem to learn something interesting when I travel.  It might be that my cordless mouse is a threat to aviation security, that some restaurants have no business advertising, or even that “Unskinny Bop” is a song that will follow you, no matter where you go.

 

This past week I had two trips, back to back.  One was a sales meeting for work and one was a mini family vacation to the Great Wolf Lodge waterpark resort.  Besides being completely exhausted, I again managed to learn a few things along the way.  Since it’s been over two weeks since I posted anything, I thought I would get back in the swing by sharing a few of the pearls of wisdom I’ve gleaned during my most recent travels.  Enjoy!

 

15
Sep

Helping a family in their time of need – UPDATED

UPDATE – Thank you so much for all support and feedback we’ve received so far on this!  It has been truly remarkable.  I’ve updated the article below to include the address for donations. Again – thank you all, and God bless you.

Facebook can be a remarkable thing.  It gives you quick access to updates from your family.  It makes it easy to find embarrassing pictures of your friends from high school.  It can suck endless hours out of the day as you quest for jewels, build mafia empires, or create your perfect farm.  It can also, on occasion, give you the opportunity to help someone in need.  This is one of those times.

 

Last Friday, I got a message from one of my old friends.  I went to high school with both she and her husband, and we reconnected a few years ago on Facebook.  She was reaching out to see if there was anything I could do to help out with one of her husband’s coworkers, a man named Matt Braswell.  Both her husband and Matt work as firefighters, and in a cruel moment of irony – Matt’s house burned down while he was on duty last week.  As she told me his story, I knew that I had to find some way, however small, to help.

 

I’ve learned a lot about Matt and his family this week.  Matt is 26 years old.  He and his wife Tracy have three kids: son Jacob – age 10, son Leighton – age 3, and daughter Kenley – age 2.  He is a veteran of the Marine Corps and has been a Gwinnett County firefighter for the last 3 years.  While he was on duty last week in Gwinnett, the family’s home in Douglasville was completely destroyed by a fire.  Luckily, no one was injured – but the family lost everything.

 

Matt is an avid reader – a passion he has passed along to his son Jacob.  Matt is a sci-fi fan, and loves Star Wars and zombies (he’s a man after my own heart).  I’m told it’s not uncommon to find him engrossed in his latest book at the firehouse when the day’s work is finished.  Jacob has picked up his dad’s love of reading, and is also a budding artist.

 

When the fire devastated their home, it destroyed all of Matt’s and Jacob’s books, along with all of Jacob’s drawing books, supplies, and sketchpads.  As you know, I’m an avid reader and lover of books.  They have been my constant companions since I first learned to read.  They have provided me solace, inspiration, entertainment, and education when I needed it most.  The thought of losing all my books – my friends – it would just be devastating.  I don’t know Matt and his family personally, but I do know that no one who loves to read should ever be without books.  The firefighting community is helping the Braswell family with donations and the necessities they need – but there is still more that can be done.

 

When my friend contacted me, she said she wasn’t sure why she did it – she just felt like she should.  As soon as I got her message, I knew why she had that feeling – I needed to try and help this family.  They say the Lord works in mysterious ways.  Sometimes that’s true.  Sometimes, you just need to listen and you’ll find it’s not so mysterious after all.  Sometimes he just wants you to do the right thing.

 

That’s where you and I come in – I’m asking you for your help.  Do you have a few sci-fi or children’s books around the house you don’t need anymore?  Do you have a few extra dollars that could be used to purchase an Amazon gift certificate?  Do you have a sketchbook or some old art supplies you aren’t using?  If so, I ask you to join me in donating them to the Braswell family.  The love of books is a powerful bond we all share, and you can help me help them start to rebuild their book collection.

 

As I mentioned before, luckily no one was hurt in the fire.  The Braswell family lost all of their possessions, but possessions can be replaced – the important thing is that they still have each other.  None of us can take away the loss and the pain they feel, but if just one book can help Matt, Tracy, Jacob, Leighton, or Kenley find a few moments of laughter, or joy, or escape in the days and weeks ahead – well, I would like to think that would make the world just a little bit better place.

 

If you have something you would like to donate, here is the address:

 

Gwinnett County Fire Station #14

1600 Buford Hwy.

Buford, GA 30518

Attn: Matt Braswell

 

Thank you for your help and God bless you.

 

14
Sep

My interview with Kelli Owen – author of “The Neighborhood”

 This year I’ve had the fortune of discovering the writing of Kelli Owen.  In my review of her debut novel “Six Days” I called it “a claustrophobic cocktail of unease and uncertainty” that I found to be “refreshing in a very Chianti and fava beans sort of way.”  Recently, I had the chance to review her new novella, “The Neighborhood”, and found even more to like.  In that review, I said:

The comfortable and effortless style Owen imbues in her prose, her ability to make the ordinary both familiar and frightening, and the sensibility she brings to her storytelling are all reminiscent of “It” and Stephen King at his best.  The ability to instantly connect me to a new world in a single sentence that first made me a King fan then, is the same thing that’s made me a Kelli Owen fan today.

Having made such an impression on me, I really wanted to pick Kelli’s brain a bit and see what makes her tick.  She was kind enough to take time out of her day to answer a few questions recently. 

11
Sep

Remembering September 11th, 2001

10 years ago today, the phone woke me up from a deep sleep.  My wife had gotten up early and gone over to the YMCA to work out.  I had been up late the night before packing for a trip to Los Angeles, and had planned to try and sleep in a bit that morning.  I was very groggy as I rolled over and picked up the phone from the bedside table.

 

Are you awake?” my wife’s voice asked me from the receiver.

No, not really,” I replied.

You should get up, there has been some sort of plane crash in New York.  Turn on the news.

 

I rolled out of bed and in to the living room, grabbing the remote from the end table.  I clicked on the TV and sat down to see what was happening.  I didn’t get back up off the couch for the next 15 hours.  Like so many other people in the country, I went to bed on September 10th, 2001 with absolutely no idea the next day would change my life and set the country on a new path.  It was the proverbial calm before the storm and looking back now, I can only describe 9/10/01 with one word – before.

 

6
Sep

Review – “Forbidden” by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee

In the year 2005, geneticists discovered the human gene that controlled both innate and learned forms of fear.  It was called Stathmin, or Oncoprotein 18.  Within 15 years, genetic influencers for all primary emotions were similarly identified.

 

Nearly a decade later, in the wake of catastrophic war that destroyed much of civilization, humanity vowed to forsake all that had conspired to destroy it.  Out of the ashes rose a new world in which both the advanced technologies and the passionate emotions that led to its ruin were eliminated.  A world without hatred, without malice, without sorrow, without anger.

 

The only emotion genetically allowed to survive was fear.  For 480 years, perfect peace reigned.

 

Until now.

 

With those words, Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee open “Forbidden”, the first novel in their new “The Book of Mortals” series (releasing on 9/13/11).  I’ll admit, I’ve never read anything by Dekker or Lee in the past.  Based on “Forbidden”, that’s an oversight I need to correct.  Whether by design, or by happenstance, they have put forth an effort that provides one of the best and most accessible expositions on the dangers of world government I’ve read in a very long time.  It also happens to be an exceptionally good story.

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