Saturday, 23 February 2013

The Very Hungry Zombie: A Review

When a colleague at work informed me of the existence of this book I was excited.

When they ordered a copy in for me I was thrilled.

When the book arrived and I looked through it, I thought to myself, "Is this the greatest book ever written?"

This book is The Very Hungry Zombie, by Michael Teitelbaum, illustrated by Jon Apple.

So, is it the greatest book ever written? Well, probably not. That's more likely to be something like War and Peace, but it is the greatest parody I've ever read. It takes the story of the Very Hungry Caterpillar, including the pages with holes in of the stuff the caterpillar has eaten, and turns it into a menu of brains and body parts. What's really brilliant about it are the illustrations. Apple has done an amazing job of making it appear to have been drawn by Eric Carle. Even the pile of "gooey, chewy brains" is in the same colour pallet as the original children's book.
So, beautiful readers, go, buy, enjoy. I still haven't worked out how to display my rating system of skulls, but anyway, it gets nine skulls out of ten, the final skull being taken away because, frankly, at £11.99 for quite a small hardback it's a bit bloody expensive (bloody, tee hee).

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

RIP Richard Briers

The way that people represent death is fascinating. Sometimes it results in the creation of something beautiful (like Rosetti's Ophelia), sometimes it's funny (like Shaun of the Dead) and sometimes it's gross (like this...dare you click?)

Unfortunately sometimes, in fact most often, death is just really sad. All the stuff above is the way we try and deal with it. Anyway, sad was just how I felt when I heard that Richard Briers had died a few days ago. I grew up watching repeats of The Good Life, and just last summer I had the honour of being at the premier of his last movie, the excellent Cockneys v. Zombies. The man was a legend. So, I thought that seeing as I write a blog about death I shouldn't just shy away from the real thing, and then, I decided that the best thing to do was to celebrate the life of this brilliant actor. So click on this and enjoy.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Game over, man, game over!

While the rest of you were romancing each other, eating chocolate in front of the telly, or whatever else people do on St. Valentine's Day, I was indulging my love of zombies by making this awesome little fellow...

He's the Game Over Zombie, from my Fold Your Own Zombie Calendar. Isn't he cool! You can't make it out in the picture, but the can he's holding says "Zombie Juice". Ew.
As you might have guessed from the word "calendar", I've got twelve of this paper creations to make this year, and this is actually the one from January, so look forward to seeing some more. I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to do with them all once they're made. Maybe I'll have some sort of zombie bonfire next January. Until then there'll be an increasingly large Zombie Army to do my bidding! Mwah ha ha!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Zombies in Montana

There is a zombie outbreak in Montana! They're trying to cover it up and tell you it was a hoax, but that's exactly what The Man would want you to think! Don't believe their lies!!!

Okay, I don't really believe that's true, but while I was thinking about what to write in this blog it struck me how easy it is to fall into a weird cycle of conspiracy theory madness where the more evidence you are given to show that something isn't true, the more you believe it must be true and "They" are just covering it up. Whoever "They" are.

Thankfully I'm not (that) mental.

But I am getting away from the point. The footage isn't all that exciting, really, but still worth checking out. A round of applause to the mischief makers, and a little chuckle at the fact that according to ABC News the police received at least four calls to see if it was real. Well, better safe than sorry.

To paraphrase Where the Wild Things Are... May the zombie rumpus commence!

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Death: a review

Okay, so I'm not really reviewing Death, but I couldn't resist the title. If I were to review Death, then I think I would give it ten out of ten. I mean, after all, people die, there aren't zombies roaming the streets in the real world and neither, so far as I know, are there any immortals sitting about getting bored while they wait for the Grim Reaper to finally do his job.

What I actually reviewing is the exhibition that is currently on at the Wellcome Collection called Death: A self-portrait. The exhibition is made up of the collection of Richard Harris, a former antique print dealer from Chicago who has cobbled together the most fabulous collection of photos, paintings and general thingummy-bobs all to do with my favourite subject. There are sculptures and paintings and puppets and books. The very array of them made me feel like a child in a toy shop. I love the fact that Harris hadn't limited himself to any particular type of item related to death. It was just the collection of someone with a fascination, and the money to indulge it.

In a way it's sort of what I want to be doing here. I once had a short lived zombie blog, but really there's so much more to my interest than that. There's festivals of the dead, memento mori, art and ritual, not to mention vampires, ghosts, and other things that go bump on the night. Although Death didn't include much of the latter, it had everything from the former. I especially liked a sculpture put together by an art project in South America (sorry, big continent, but I can't remember right now exactly what country it was from). It was a massive skull, but made up of smaller sculptures of books and movies from American and European culture, all on top of a slum town. And the background was a Pac-man maze, complete with ghosts. I could have stared at it for hours, had I not been completely over excited by all the skulls around me and been unable to stand still for more than a couple of minutes.

I also enjoyed the collection of photos placed on the wall in the final room. They seemed to contain all the randomness of the exhibition has a whole. I was particularly fond of the photo of two Nineteenth century gentlemen in Texas, with most wonderful moustaches, staring solemnly at the camera, a human skull sitting on the table next to them for no particular reason.

So, I would highly recommend this exhibition. There's so much in it that you're bound to find something you like. I defy anyone to not be in awe of the bone chandelier, even if they're not real bones.
If you enjoy the exhibition, I also recommend the book, Death: A Picture Album. It's a fine bit of design and gives you the chance to find out more about some of the smaller items in the exhibition. I'm not one for reading all the stuff they put up on the walls at exhibitions, I just want to look at the stuff, so getting the book has given the actual exhibition more depth for me and made me even more desperate to go again.

It's on until February 24th, and definitely worth checking out.

It has occurred to me that I ought to come up with some kind of ratings system, because I certainly plan on reviewing quite a few things. Are skulls too obvious? Is there anything wrong with that? Nah...

So, I give Death: A self-portrait nine skulls out of ten. The only thing that was missing was things for me to pick up and play with. Those signs telling me not to touch things are always incredibly frustrating!

Thursday, 7 February 2013

What's in a name?

What's in a name?
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Shakespeare, undeniably a clever fellow.

Anyway, the story behind the name of this blog is one of a good idea, followed by a complete lack of concentration. The good idea was playing on the Latin phrase for 'remember death', being as how that's what this blog is all about. Along with taxes, it's one of the few certainties in life, so there really isn't any point pretending it's not going to happen. On the other hand, it's not necessarily the jolliest of subjects, so anything that can make light of death, or portray it in such a way that it becomes a bit more of a manageable topic, is surely a good thing.

So, Memento Maureen was born... Except that's not the name of the blog, now is it, beautiful reader? No.

You see, as made quite clear in that very first blog, I was not only creating a blog that was going to change people's very conception of death, the undead, and the afterlife (I aim high), but I was also watching The Grey, which I promise to stop going on about at some point. Anyway, there was I, creating history (like I said, I aim high), while Liam Neeson was attempting to keep a rag-tag bunch of oilers awake in a cold, wolf infested forest, and frankly my attention wandered and I ended up writing 'momento' instead of 'memento'.


I suppose I could have passed this off as some kind of 'Beatles' type pun, but frankly I've already written it all down now, so I might as well come clean. I did google Memento Maureen to see if it was worth my while changing the name of the blog, but alas, and probably quite predictably, it has already been used in all manner of circumstances. So maybe it was a blessing in disguise, and maybe one day this will be a funny little story about how it all began. Also, it's clearly a lesson in the importance of learning to walk and chew gum (although one I haven't learnt because I'm watching TV while writing this).

So, now that I've come clean I feel we can continue on our journey through the dark paths of life and death with nothing to come between us (except maybe the cat who has just come to sit under my arm.)
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Tuesday, 5 February 2013

The Grey - a review

Before I begin I want to say two things:

Thing 1) I promise on a whole stack of George Romero dvd's that I will never (ever) put spoilers in a review without a MASSIVE warning at the beginning. It's just rude to do otherwise, and I'm a polite young lady (honest guv'nor). Last year I read a review of Cabin in the Woods which, in it's very first line described the very final scene. Rude. Anyway, I won't be doing that, so no need to fear.

Thing 2) Why am I reviewing The Grey in a blog that's all about death? I mean, it has lots of people dying in it, but it's not really about death, and it's a thriller rather than a horror, so I fell the vague need to justify myself. Well, the simple answer is that I said I was going to. I was watching it while writing my last blog post and I'm a woman of my word.

So... the review...

Over all I would say that I enjoyed The Grey. It's beautifully shot, Liam Neeson was great, and the effects were amazing. Then again, Greg Nicotero, King of the Zombies, was in charge of the effects so that shouldn't be all that surprising. I especially thought the wolves were good. Animatronics has certainly come a long way since those Narnia series they had on the BBC when I was a kid. The wolves looked mean, like monsters.

As I've mentioned, Liam Neeson was great, but then when isn't he? Okay, in The A Team, but that was just a bad film, it wasn't his fault. He gave gravitas and depth to a character that could have been really shallow. It's almost like he remembered that he played Oskar Schindler and is a brilliant actor. I mean, this film is no Schindler's List, but it's much closer to that than many of his recent movie offerings.

And herein lies my problem with The Grey. I started watching this film expecting it to be Taken with wolves. I thought it was going to be Liam Neeson kicking arse in a snowy wood.

It's not.

It's beautifully filmed, it's about survival, mental as well as physical, and it's about the internal life of a man that you really don't know much about until the very end, which, as in Thing 1, I'm not going to ruin for you.

So please do watch this film, but don't watch it expecting action and silliness, like I did. Watch it expecting action, tension, emotion and heart... and maybe have a hankie nearby.
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Sunday, 3 February 2013

Welcome, beautiful reader

So, at the moment I'm really just feeling pleased with coming up with the name of my blog. I sat there on Google, typing in Momento Maureen and feeling certain that somebody else would have come up with it first, but no!

Smug face.

I suppose I ought to start with some sort of explanation, a mission statement. What am I doing and why should you read my blog?

Well, I used to have a zombie blog that I never wrote and left to amble around the internet in an unproductive and fittingly undead manner. So I guess this is my blog 2.0, the one that I'll actually write and maybe some people will actually read.

I love zombies, but they're not my only love, so I've expanded my subject area to include my general fascination with all things related to death and the undead, from films, literature, art and any other thing that tickles my fancy. Death had fascinated me for all of my life, especially the way people choose to portray it in both high and low culture.

At the moment, for example, I am watching The Grey, which I'm quite enjoying but is way more miserable than I thought it would be. It's like Jaws without the plastic shark. The wolves are really mean and at the moment I can't foresee anyone living to the end credits, but you've got to bloody love Liam Neeson. He can give gravitas to the most ridiculous of films.

Oh shit! Something terrible just happened! Wait, he's okay.

I should probably stop reviewing this film while I'm actually watching it, so maybe that's what I'll do tomorrow.

It really is getting quite tense.

Right, until next time, beautiful readers...