Posted in Wednesday Warriors

Bill Harding

The twisters came early in the season. The emergency response system warned citizens of the imminent disaster ready to strike. But not all took cover. They needed more time.

Bill Paxton as Bill Harding
Bill Paxton as Bill Harding

When Bill Harding (Bill Paxton) arrives at his old team’s gathering ground holding papers for a divorce with his estranged wife Jo Harding (Helen Hunt), he doesn’t know that his next decision would place him on a course with destiny, and as a feature in Wednesday Warriors.

A scientist. A philosopher. A weather prognosticator. Bill can feel a storm brewing on his skin. He draws dirt from the ground and pours it into the air to measure wind speed, updrafts and wind current. He doesn’t need a barometer to know when a twister is churning in the atmosphere, ready to make an appearance.

Bill Harding is the barometer.

His old crew consists of his wife Jo, an overzealous driver Dustin Davis (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Robert “Rabbit” Nurick (Alan Ruck), Tim “Beltzer” Lewis (Todd Field), and a few other eager storm chasers who follow the direction of their former leader into the mouth of tornadoes.

Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton in Twister
Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton in Twister

Their mission? To measure the creation, movement and death of a twister. Their problem? They have to get in front of the ravenous beast and drop Dorothy in its path. The whirlwind will then suck the information-gathering instrument into its vortex and produce the statistics Bill and his team needs to understand how tornadoes come to be. Above all, it is his hope the device’s data will one day save lives.

Joining Bill in his quest to intercept a tornado-in-the-making is his current flame Dr. Melissa Reeves (Jami Gertz). She sees things differently. She sees cows flying across their path as unusual. Sister twisters grazing their truck like a plaything as heart stopping. A monster storm burying them in a hideaway as things of which she can’t compete. She doesn’t even know where to start.

There really isn’t a place for anyone in Bill’s life who can’t keep up with him. It’s not on purpose. He just has a propensity to follow his instincts. If his instincts carry him to drive his truck in the middle of a field while a massive rainstorm twirls overhead, then that is what he’ll do. To him, in the greater scheme of his life, only one thing matters—get Dorothy into the heart of the tornado.

What the character Bill teaches in the movie Twister is that obstacles, problems and difficulties are nothing when a goal is clear and crisp. Hurdles are there to hop over. Complications are there to overcome. Whatever stands in his way, he is ready to confront head-on.

Bill shows what it means to dedicate oneself to a passion.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

What do you think of the character Bill Harding in the film Twister?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombies and the Weather

I’m writing this post a week in advance with the temperature outside having dipped to a balmy -26°C/-14.8°F. Of course, balmy is not the word I would have chosen to describe the frigid arctic air mass that has settled here in Northeastern Canada. But know it’s my attempt at sarcasm. I’m hoping by the time this publishes, this paragraph will remain relevant. Nonetheless, since I’m talking about the weather and our frosty climate across the border, I’m now curious as to whether the undead would be able to survive our environment here in the Great White North.

Winter in Canada
Winter in Canada

So, without much fanfare, and since today is Family Day here in Ontario, I thought it interesting for my Monday Mayhem series of articles if I talk about zombie survivability in extreme weather conditions.

[Note: Please folks, don’t take this post seriously, because I’m going to share some ideas with you that will not have relevance of thought, or applicability to current conditions in the grand scheme of zombiehood. In other words, take it as light reading for a Monday morning.]

All right, with that out of the way, let’s talk about zombies and the arctic weather we’re experiencing here in Canada. Would zombies be able to survive our climate if they walk the streets at night and no one’s around to feed them? Literally. Knowing what I know about the draggers, and how stupid there are, I think they’d freeze solid before they even try to get their grimy little paws on us. First, at least on my street, it gets quiet during winter. If it’s quiet then chewers can’t find us. More than likely, they’d roam or maybe stand in one spot, which, by the time I wake up in the morning, I’ll have a bunch of undead statues standing erect on my driveway ready for the hammer to the head. Second, snowstorms have blessed us up here. I’d love to see those miserable eaters fight through our frozen winter wonderland chasing after their food. They’d have to find us first. The blustery wind alone would shake them off their feet.

Tornado and Lightning
Tornado and Lightning

Since I’m talking about the wind, what about tornadoes? In the summer, just north of where I live, resides twister alley. Do you think the undead would be able to survive a blast from nature soon after one of these cyclones touches down on terra firma? The impact alone would kill them. I’ve seen videos of how one of these funnels cut a path straight across a neighborhood leaving devastation in its wake. No way would a zombie live through that. I mean, after getting slammed a few times upside the head with a pickup truck, I’m sure there wouldn’t be anything left either of the zombie or the pickup.

How about thunderstorms? In minutes, I’ve seen our neighborhood go from birds chirping, sun shining and a gentle wafting of the breeze to utter devastation, thunder clapping, deluge of water coursing through the streets and lightning. I think a storm of such ferocity, though, would do little damage to the chewer population. Oh sure, perhaps a few bolts of lightning frying the unfortunate undead who happens to stroll the sidewalk that day could prove nature still had a way announcing its control. But really? It’ll last a few minutes and the zombie crowd would still be around for the fight.

No, what needs to happen is for the earth to open and swallow anything dragging their feet. Then, and only then, would there be peace on earth.

Unfortunately, our neighborhood hasn’t experienced an earthquake in years. Not that I would want one, mind you.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

Do you think the weather could prevent the undead from attacking? What would be the most devastating thing the weather could do to destroy a zombie horde?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Jo Harding

Among the bicycles in the trees, the broken lumber in the field and the torn foundations, a little girl rises to confront her greatest challenge—a twister.

Helen Hunt as Jo Harding
Helen Hunt as Jo Harding

When I first saw this film in the fall of 1996, my wife and I were in the middle of visiting family in Nova Scotia. The theater had a handful of folks and we had just settled into our seats. I didn’t know what I was in for, but I could feel magic in the air. About half-an-hour into the story, I remember turning to my wife and saying, “How did they do that?” From there, I didn’t say a word until the very end. When we left the theater that evening, it had rained. How appropriate, I thought.

“The suck zone. It’s the point…basically at which the twister…sucks you up. That’s not the technical term for it, obviously.” ~Dustin Davis (Philip Seymour Hoffman)

Women Who Wow Wednesday wouldn’t be complete without Twister’s Jo Harding (Helen Hunt), the go-getter who doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. She and Bill Harding (Bill Paxton) chase storms for a living. They look for massive fronts, then they plow into them hoping to gain a better understanding as to how they form.

Who are we kidding? They chase tornadoes. The bigger they are, the more of a thrill the chasers get.

Jo Harding
Jo Harding

For Jo it all started when she saw her father taken in a whirlwind. Since then, her fascination with tornadoes has only grown. Bill’s fiancée Dr. Melissa Reeves (Jami Gertz) can’t understand the driving force that keeps the woman going. Jo treats the storms as a normal thing. Her matter-of-fact attitude shows when she tells Dr. Reeves, “If you have to pee, you should do it now. There’s not many places to stop on the road.”

But it’s not all chases, hootin’ and hollerin’. Jo genuinely wants to understand what makes a twister do what it does. She’s so enamored with the thought of an early warning system that she’ll do anything to make it happen, even if it’s getting out of the truck in order to reach out and touch the beast.

[Discussing at Meg’s on the tornadoes they have seen so far]
Joey: No, that was a good size twister. What was it, an F3?
Bill: Solid F2.
Melissa: See, now you have lost me again.
Bill: It’s the Fujita scale. It measures a tornado’s intensity by how much it eats.
Melissa: Eats?
Bill: Destroys.
Laurence: That one we encountered back there was a strong F2, possibly an F3.
Beltzer: Maybe we’ll see some 4’s.
Haynes: That would be sweet!
Bill: 4 is good. 4 will relocate your house very efficiently.
Melissa: Is there an F5?
[Everyone goes dead silent]
Melissa: What would that be like?
Jason ‘Preacher’ Rowe: The Finger of God.
Melissa: None of you has ever seen an F5?
Bill: …Just one of us.
[Looks upstairs, indicating Jo]

The fact of the matter is tornadoes don’t scare Jo. She’s seen small and large twisters, sisters and monsters. They don’t scare her. If she can help alert those in the storm’s path, then she will have done her duty. After all, she’s seen the worst of the worst and everything else is easy by comparison.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale October 21.

What did you think of the movie Twister? What did you think of the character Jo?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombie Emergency Kit

Here’s something you may not know. The CDC has a Zombie Preparedness page dedicated for when society falls apart and the zombie apocalypse takes over. I kid you not. It gets better. They even have a checklist of items one should gather prior to the occurrence of said zombie apocalypse.

CDC's Zombie Attack Banner
CDC’s Zombie Attack Banner

For Monday Mayhem, I thought I’d run through the list and provide you some insight into the value of some of those items. The CDC prepared the list as an all-hazards. In other words, if you have the items listed, you’d be able to survive a hurricane, tornado, earthquake or any other natural disaster. The thing is a zombie apocalypse is not a natural disaster. There are no guarantees of survival. But there are ways to increase the odds of living through it until such time a person finds a boat and heads to a deserted island off the coast of Hawaii. Or Fiji for that matter. Or Costa Rica.

Below is the CDC’s list. Let’s have some fun and tailor it specifically for a zombie infestation/infection, shall we? First, I’ve included some sarcastic helpful comments in [square brackets highlighted in royal blue]. Second, my very own list follows. You’ll notice my list is a tad shorter. What can I say? I’m a minimalist.

All-Hazards Emergency Kit

  • Water—one gallon per person, per day [A typical family of four would need 28 gallons per week (4×7. Unless you live in Utah where you’ll probably need 70 gallons a week). Since the zombie apocalypse will last longer, it’s not enough. Best start planning to buy a pool and fill it with drinking water.]
  • Food—nonperishable, easy-to-prepare items (minimum 3 day supply) [Again, see my comment above. Three days? Sure, if you’re planning to stay at a Disney resort. Quick solution: buy a farm.]
  • Flashlight [In the old days people knew how to make fire with sticks and use those sticks as torches. Not needed.]
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible) [You’re kidding, right? Like there’s gonna be a radio station left with humans running it. Logic, people. Logic!]
  • Extra batteries [No flashlight. No use for batteries.]
  • CDC's Zombie Attack Poster
    CDC’s Zombie Attack Poster

    First aid kit (whistle, antibiotic ointment, bandages, face masks, gloves and reference book) [I happen to agree with this. Beside, you can use the face mask to spook the zombies (paint a pig snout on it).]

  • Medications (7 day supply and medicinal dispensers if necessary) [And after the seven days when the supply runs out, then what? That’s right, you’ll be looking for a refill. Here’s a better idea: rent an apartment above a pharmacy now. Then when you need the stuff, it’s only a few steps from home.]
  • Multipurpose supplies (wrench, pliers, plastic sheet, duct tape, scissors, matches) [Now we’re talking, although I don’t know if this stuff’s for an emergency or used to clean up a crime scene.]
  • Sanitation/personal hygiene items and bleach [Bleach? I just answered my own question above.]
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies) [Do you think it’ll really matter once everyone’s dead? Here’s a thought, you can use the papers to make a fire to keep you warm at night.]
  • Cell phone with charger [Who comes up with this stuff? Say it with me: no electricity, no cell phone service.]
  • Family Disaster Plan (family and emergency contact information) [My family’s plan: stay indoors. They can’t eat you if they can’t see you.]
  • Extra cash [Bahaha!!! Okay, okay, okay. Raise your hand if you’ve heard of the barter system.]
  • Emergency blanket, extra clothes, sleeping bag (1 for each person) [And what happens when you’re nicely tucked away in your sleeping bag, and you wake up with a zombie standing over you? Simple logic isn’t difficult to master.]
  • Map(s) of the area [Let me guess, use Google Maps on your cell phone.]

Jack Flacco’s Zombie Emergency Kit

  • Water, food, clothing and any other miscellaneous items—your neighbors will have many of these items available once they’ve turned into zombies
  • The only item on the list above left untouched: first aid kit (whistle, antibiotic ointment, bandages, face masks, gloves and reference book)
  • Multipurpose supplies (Louisville Slugger baseball bat, golf club, screwdriver, hammer, butcher knife, darts, picture frame wire, shards of glass)
  • Real paper map(s) of the area

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.

How did I do? Did I miss anything on my list?