Krampusnacht in Nashville

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Christmas seems to overflow its buffer a little more each year. What used to begin the week of Thanksgiving now starts in September as stores set out a confusing array of fall paraphernalia laced with gingerbread men and glitter crusted candy canes. I mean, it would almost be comical if it weren’t so sad and infuriating. The worst part, though, is that each year I see fewer people celebrating the actual spirit of the holiday and more of them simply reveling in the nonstop orgy of seasonal merchandising and materialism that becomes wholly acceptable the minute the Thanksgiving Parade ends and the stores reopen for Black Friday pre-gaming. So, in retribution for the continuing usurpation of other holidays by Christmas, I’m taking a stand and preparing for a Krasmpusnacht Feast.

Krampusnacht is a Germanic celebration the night before the Feast of Saint Nicholas. It’s a night full of mischief and terror as Krampus, most famous of the multitudes of Anti-Santas that have, through the years, joined Saint Nick in his traditional Christmas outings. Unlike the friendly, Coca-Cola version, however, where a jolly old elf leaves candy and toys, the actual Santa left goodies for the upstanding Christian boys and girls while Krampus followed behind to steal away any child still awake during the nocturnal visit. He’d then mercilessly beat and sometimes kill these children for being wicked. Not even going to lie, but I’d have been a lot better every year growing up if I’d known the devil was coming with Santa to beat my ass for misbehaving.

While lots of places around the world and the nation celebrate this ancient tradition, I live in the buckle of the Bible Belt where such seemingly paganistic rituals are still frowned upon if not outright protested against by the “moral majority.” Thankfully, Nashville Nightmare partnered with 13th Floor Haunted House to bring Krampus: A Haunted Christmas to the Music City. I wasn’t able to get tickets but from everything I saw online and reviews I read from those who attended, it was absolutely magical .

And really, isn’t that what the season is all about?

In an area that isn’t known for an open minded acceptance of anything other than the dogmatic rituals of a Bronze Age religion with its usurped traditions and unacknowledged Pagan roots, there has been a slow but steady surge of horror culture creeping through to the surface. More and more people who have become disenfranchised with Christmas are finding their holiday joy in the Anti-Claus figure that the Krampus represents and an event like this in the midst of all the unbridled consumerism and overwhelming Christian mythology of the season makes it a bastion for every secularist and Pagan living in the mid-state. There’s hope for horror fans and holidays lovers alike that a winter themed haunted house might one day lead to the acceptance of an actual Krasmpusnacht festival (as well as some Pagan traditions) that could be as celebrated amongst Tennesseans.

Yes, the haunted house itself is little more than a Christmas themed spook house inspired by the 2015 film, but it at least introduces people in the region to something they might otherwise have never heard of before.

Maybe I’m hoping for too much out of a two night haunted attraction at the onset of Christmas. But isn’t this the season for miracles?

If you’re like me, here’s a look at what you missed when Krampus came to town.

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When 911 Needs Help

If you’ve been following along with my story for the last five years then you know I’m not paying the bills with my writing yet. In fact, my actual job is about as far away from the literary world as you can get. For the last twelve years I’ve been an emergency call taker and radio dispatcher for a mid-sized town’s police and fire departments. I’d like to think I’m good at what I do and after more than a decade at the console I’ve had my share of strange, bizarre, and outright terrifying experiences. For those who don’t understand what a call taker in a center like mine does, let me give you a brief walk through.

Working in three shifts (and usually working overtime as we’re always short handed) dispatchers triage 911 and non-emergency calls for police, fire, and medical services for an area. For my agency, we also find ourselves responsible for after hours utility and public works dispatches, warrants, NCIC (a national criminal information interface) and much more. While the position itself is sedentary within the confines of a communications center, it is far from being a secretarial post. Our calls range from people seeking legal advice to homicides and in-progress violent crimes and it is not uncommon to see a dispatcher juggling multiple 911 and non-emergency lines providing service and instruction to injured, disabled, and panicked callers. On top of that, the stigma of the current anti law enforcement atmosphere in the nation makes us targets alongside officers as we’re closely affiliated when it comes to providing logistical information and doing investigative work to help catch criminals. My day usually ranges from the utterly mundane to the absolutely horrifying and back again in a roller coaster of adrenal dumps and stress.

Unlike a customer service call center or the secretarial fields where we’re currently classified, the emergency comm. center ranges from your usual incoherently angry callers to desperate screams and emotional scenes being vividly detailed by callers. In my time I’ve heard things that continue to haunt my dreams and keep me awake at night. The job takes so much of a stressful toll on those who perform it that illness (mental and physical) is common. You don’t get a lunch break so you eat whatever fast food garbage or microwaved dinners you can get while sitting at the console continuing to take calls and send responders. In the event of a threat to the facility, you become the last person to be evacuated as your position is seen as “critical” to the function of emergency services in the town. Tornadoes, floods, even bomb threats have seen me and my partners manning the comm. center while everyone else evacuates or takes cover. You know any secretaries whose job gives them PTSD?

Across the nation, men and women work ’round the clock to provide pre-arrival instructions, CPR instructions, and logistical data to police, fire, and ems crews who are coming to the rescue. The information we obtain and the instructions we provide to callers save lives and prevent minor mishaps from becoming full scale disasters. But as far as the federal government and almost every other governmental body at every level, dispatchers are glorified secretaries and non first responders. Despite being the point of contact, the lifeline, for people in need, we receive neither the recognition nor the protected status that allows others in the emergency services spectrum to receive benefits and protection when in need. Even crossing guards are classified as “first responders” and the reason that dispatcher’s are discriminated against is simple: because we’re in a call center. Here’s what APCO (Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials) had to say on the matter:

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I write today with the unfortunate news that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has decided not to update the way 9-1-1 professionals are classified in the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC).  We’ve consulted with a top law firm in DC and decided that pursuing a remedy in court is not a viable option.  However, this decision is within OMB’s discretion, which means OMB, or even President Trump, has the power to correct it.  APCO will continue fighting this.  Today, I’m asking each of you to use social media to retweet the following that “@APCOintl” has tweeted:

Fed agency @OMBpress staff has failed the nation’s 9-1-1 professionals, deciding 9-1-1 call takers & dispatchers aren’t “protective” occupations. @realDonaldTrump @POTUS Please fix this! 9-1-1 professionals save lives. #911ProtectsMe apcointl.org/socinfo

This will be an uphill battle.  Like you, I’m very disappointed, but we should not allow an incorrect classification in a federal data catalogue to distract us from the bigger picture for increasing respect and recognition for 9-1-1 professionals.

What OMB’s Decision Means

The SOC classifies occupations according to the work performed.  For those of us who understand 9-1-1, it’s obvious that 9-1-1 professionals belong in the “Protective Service” group.  In fact, the staff involved with revising the SOC went so far as to tell us that they had no doubt that the work performed by 9-1-1 professionals is protective.  Based on conversations with OMB, we believe OMB staff gave weight to where the work is primarily being performed and decided not to make 9-1-1 professionals part of the “Protective Service” category because they mostly work inside comm centers.  This is not a strict application of the SOC’s organization principles or its current makeup, but nonetheless, this is what OMB decided. 

APCO will continue to fight on your behalf at every opportunity.  Thank you for the work you do to protect the public and field responders every day.  Please ask your colleagues, friends, and family to retweet the APCO tweet about this injustice.  We need everyone to help us make the President aware. 

Twelve years of saving lives, of listening to people suffering and dying, cursing me for their misfortune and being told that I’m nothing but a secretary while I do it. I’ve had my life threatened, I’ve suffered mentally and physically working long hours and coming in sick because we can’t keep the center staffed. And why can’t anyone keep a center staffed, you may still have the audacity to ask? Because we do the impossible every day while being completely devalued by everyone, even the responders we serve with and it takes a very specific person who can work miracles while taking a constant string of humiliation and abuse. I live with the ghosts of people I couldn’t save and twenty years from now they’ll still be there, haunting my dreams and memories. 

We’re not asking for anyone to thank us. We’re not asking for special treatment or for a hand out. We’re asking to be recognized alongside our brothers and sisters in emergency services for the work we do to keep you safe. It may not seem like much to you, but it could mean a whole new world for us.

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The State of Fear – Radical Arts Presents Evil Dead: The Musical

I’ve been a Deadite since 1996 when I saw Army of Darkness for the very first time. The campy, over the top horror-comedy starring Bruce Campbell was the third and final installment of the Evil Dead series and inspired me to track down my own VHS copies of the first two films in the series. Each movie tells the same basic tale while being completely unique and one of a kind. The original was meant to be grueling, horrific, and painful for viewers to watch as they squirm and cringe at the notion of demonic violence. The second maintained that psychological torture while bringing in a completely new element of blood, gore, and intentional comedy that has made it a favorite among fans of the series. Army of Darkness, the only big budget installment, was a time traveling action adventure horror comedy (that’s a mouthful) that solidified the legacy of the series for generations to come.

And, in 2003, that legacy was expanded when fans from Canada wrote and produced Evil Dead: The Musical. It was a celebration of everything we love about the bizarre, campy horror films that paid homage and poked fun all while saturating audiences in gallons of blood. I’ve seen the production three times in person, once being a large scale, off Broadway cast at TPAC with the other two productions coming from a local theater company called Radical Arts. While the performance at TPAC was great, it lacked the sort of heart and low budget ingenuity that has made Evil Dead a success with fans for 35 years.

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My first experience with Radical Arts production was in October 2016 during their second year at the Murfreesboro Little Theater. The space was intimate with audience members practically sitting on stage with the cast. It was a dream come true for director Mike Dobrzelecki who had wanted to be involved in bringing the musical to life for years. Promising the bloodiest production ever of Evil Dead: The Musical Radical Arts lived up to their word saturating everyone in a literal torrent of crimson stage blood propelled from every conceivable angle and location in the theater. But there was more to the show than just being gross and making a mess. The cast assembled was having fun telling a story and interacting with fans who had come out for the evening.

Fast forward to October 2017 with Radical Arts using the musical as their season opener. Now under the direction of Seth Limbaugh with Mike Dobrzelecki creating props and prosthetics for the show, another fine cast was assembled in the slightly larger Music Valley Events Center near Opryland to again terrifying us with a series of bad puns and musical numbers. Once again, the casting was beyond phenomenal with some fan favorites from the previous year (James David West and Jenni-Lee Merritt) returning in larger roles to continue supporting the group and entertaining audiences. As promised the year before, Radical Arts delivered once again with an over the top display of bloodletting that left even the most distant viewer splattered in red.

The great thing about this play, however, isn’t the gallons of blood or the music, but the passion put into the performance by every last member of the cast and crew. I was fortunate enough to sit down with them for a round table interview two weeks before opening night. They’d just completed another rehearsal which involves an intense amount of physical activity, choreography, and vocal prowess as the crew continued to build the set around them. The assembled group was filled with veteran actors, most of whom were rabid fans of Evil Dead and who had been looking forward to opening night for months. They discussed their passion for their craft, their love of this show in particular, and much more. You can actually check out the interview here:

The cast, crew, and directors have all brought a sense of fun and excitement to the project making each iteration as unique and spectacular as the films themselves. And, yes, the play itself is written with about three or four different ways of closing (I’ve never seen the same ending performed twice) they manage to go a step further in costuming and set dressing to make each production well and truly their own.

Sadly, Evil Dead: The Musical will finish it’s 2017 run tonight, November 5th, at the Music Valley Events Center but you can still get tickets if you hurry over to their site and book now. And if you want to read my reviews of both shows (and you really should) check them out on Psycho Drive-In and Zombies In My Blog. Meanwhile, you need to bookmark and follow Radical Arts online as they have a full schedule of events and shows planned as we head towards 2018 including their Down the Rabbit Hole Burlesque, an Alice in Wonderland themed night of adult entertainment that features Evil Dead: The Musical stars Hillary Mead (Cheryl) and Brittany Juilfs (Shelly).

I’m looking forward to seeing more amazing shows brought to us by Radical Arts and I can’t wait to tell you about some of the other amazing projects coming to us from this talented group of creators in the State of Fear!

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Be sure to Like and Subscribe to Danno of the Dead Blog, Radical Arts, Psycho Drive-In, Zombies In My Blog and other artists and creators featured here in State of Fear.

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State of Fear – The Origins of Fear

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I have a vision in my head of the very first monster. It’s one of those sort of artistic, primitive Quest for Fire backdrops with furry proto-humans gathered around the safety of a fire. Curled up like pack animals huddled for warmth and security a lone sentry stands guard at the mouth of the cave that has been their home. In the starlit darkness, a creature has stalked them each night, carrying away children and the old, leaving nothing behind but blood and carnage. It moves in quietly, like the thin fog blanketing the cold ground with eyes that glow in the blackness and fangs glistening hungrily in saliva and blood. They have no name for this saber toothed predator, this ethereal killer that has stalked them for weeks thinning their ranks one by one until only a frightened few of them are left. The sentry watches with eyes that aren’t meant for the darkness, struggles to keep himself awake even as the fire behind him slowly dies. In the dull blue glow of the moon he sees shapes moving, blown by the wind in ghostly patterns of light and shadow.

Something flickers in the darkness.

A stray ember?

No.

He locks eyes with the monster waiting in the cold darkness.Taking up his attack stance, he puffs up his chest and makes himself seem large and intimidating even though there’s nothing left in that fight or flight mentality of his but terror. His sharpened wooden spear clutched white knuckled in his rough hands he buries his feet and cries out to warn the rest of his tribe. Footsteps plod through the tall grass, snapping twigs as a low growl becomes a terrifying roar. The massive body leaps up, takes flight as a gaping maw marked by two huge curved fangs come crashing down on the primitive man’s skull. The thunderclap as the bone cracks open awakens the few who remained unmoved by the warning cry. Meanwhile, the weight of the beast has forced the spear through its chest and deep into its heart. What we know as the Saber Tooth Cat dies atop its final victim. In its death, the vampire is born.

Both creatures stalk the night and move like a fog rolling across the land. Both have immense power, glowing, hypnotic eyes, and thirst for the blood of man. And both are known for the glistening white fangs that they plunge into their victims. A story told to children to warn them of an etheric predator that would carry them off and slaughter them should they stray too far from the fire’s protection grows and evolves with each generation as the oral tradition is passed down. While the natural predators of man dwindled and died, the danger never did. Each generation retold the tale, manipulated the monster to frighten the young and the dimwitted from wandering into danger. The monster of the mist took on the form best suited to the need. The Draugr, Brahmaparusha, the Ghul, Gong-shi, Nosferatu; the story took on the name and needs of the culture that passed it down.

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Horror is our history, our culture, whether or not people are willing to readily accept it. Fear is the oldest and strongest emotion of mankind and it has driven us to rise above every other species on the planet to create civilization. Croaked out in some guttural, primitive voice around a campfire, chiseled into clay tablets, or pecked out on a word processor or smart phone app, it’s a very important part of who we are and where we’ve been. I still remember sitting on the swing with my grandfather as a kid listening to him tell me stories about the various ghosts, goblins, and creeps that lived in the woods around our home in south Nashville and those that he’d known as a boy growing up in Smartt Station. Puckwudgies and black mountain lions and spectral hunting parties of the Indians who’d been driven out of the land.

I love the whole teens in a cabin trope that became so popular with movies like Evil Dead and Friday the 13th. In both stories you have a group of people who can barely be called adults because of their youth who are looking to enjoy their lives and relax in the rustic beauty of nature. But instead of adhering to certain social contracts and rules they choose to trespass, engage in behavior unacceptable to the society they’re from (specifically drug use and fornication) and they’re punished for it in grisly, brutal ways. At the very end, a lone survivor seems to have made it through the evening of hellish torment and looks as if they might just walk away from everything intact. Letting their guard down for just a moment, that evil presence rises up for one final assault and forces this lone hero to pay the ultimate price.

And a lesson is still learned by those who watch the story unfold on the screen. There is no safety in numbers if you allow your ranks to be thinned one by one. There’s no safety to be had in traveling into unfamiliar territory  where no one else knows you’ve gone. There are dangers and consequences to be dealt with by even the smallest infraction of the laws of man and society and you’ll pay for them with your life if you aren’t careful. Sure, the chances of a Kandarian demon of a machete wielding maniac murdering you for premarital sex or reading a forbidden book ar negligible, but the message is clear. Knowledge is dangerous and, without study and devotion, that knowledge can end you. Unprotected sex can destroy lives as quickly as a knife through disease, pregnancy, and social stigmas.

We don’t have many natural predators to warn kids about these days. In fact, other than a handful of bear or shark attacks, the only thing that really endangers humans any more are other humans. It’s why horror movies featuring zombies or dystopian bloodbaths are so popular. The only thing that scares us more than the slathering fangs of some dark, ethereal monster is the reflection we see in the mirror. Horror allows us to address the most frightening aspects of ourselves, to observe them and, if possible, fix them before they can destroy us. At its core, horror has always been about self preservation and, after twenty thousand years, that may never change.

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Zombies. So Many Zombies.

I survived the zombie apocalypse, Nashville.

The Nashville Zombie Walk lived again but not without considerable pains in my already thinly spread ass. From shit weather to Nazi rallies and last minute SNAFUs involving the route and staging area, we had a hell of a time getting this to happen but when it was all said and done, we finally made it. A week later and I’m still almost in shock that it happened. Thanks to Lucas, Lightning 100, and a host of other incredible people and organizations we were able to resurrect an event that is very dear to my heart and do some good for the Second Harvest Food Bank. The crowd was smaller than I’d hoped but I understood that because of the weather and a list of last minute changes and I wasn’t sure that any of the effort over the last year had been worth it until I snapped this picture.

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My gorgeous, blood splattered fiancé smiling as she hold’s on to my Encino Man styled skateboarding zombie hunter son alongside two of our very close friends. Everyone is happy, smiling, and enjoying themselves in spite of the cold and confusion. That masked Minion of Danno is smiling, believe it or not, behind that chrome painted skull grin and that is the only thing that mattered to me about this entire day. I’ve spent most of his life working evening shifts and never got to celebrate my favorite holiday with him the way I wanted to. Halloween has always been special to me and, in lieu of trick-or-treating and rituals at home, the Nashville Zombie Walk became our celebration. In truth, I’ve only got one, maybe two more of these left before he’s “too old” or “too cool” to hang out with his dad playing dress up so this was my chance to share in that excitement and fun one more time.

I think my piece over at ZIMB really sums it up nicely though.

It’s been a long road, but we finally made it. Saturday morning, while hate groups tried to spread their social poison through neighboring towns like Murfreesboro and Shelbyville, Nashville was busy repelling its first Zombie invasion in more than two years. But unlike those other marches taking place across the south, this devoted group of brain-eaters was causing mayhem and terror for a good cause, as they brought in donations for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee ahead of the holiday season.

That’s not to say we didn’t have some issues, though. Freezing temperatures, last-minute route changes and heckling and intimidation online from some people who were upset over the event’s return all tried but failed to dampen spirits as we gathered around Marathon Music Works.

For those of you who’ve followed me since I took over this event last September, nothing has been easy about this. When I took over, I was a columnist without a clue. I’d never produced a large event and I had no idea what I was doing. The internet was full of general advice on how, but not anything more useful than a vague impression of what to do. Once Lucas came on board, things made a drastic turn. With his help, we were finally able to start building bridges with sponsors and public works officials who had been on the outside of the event since its implosion following the 2014 walk. Suddenly, we had funding, space and the freedom to try and make the Nashville Zombie Walk not only live again, but begin working on building it into something altogether more incredible than ever before.

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Then there was Evil Dead: The Musical. My friend Mic Rex is playing Professor Knowby and the Moose in Radical Arts’ third stage performance of the campy, hilarious musical based on the Sam Raimi/Bruce Campbell splatter fest horror comedy that has it’s final performance this weekend at the Music Valley Events Center. I’ve seen four different incarnations of this play over the years and never once has there been a bad performance. From bootlegs to off Broadway, they’ve all been phenomenal but no one gives as much heart, passion, or blood as Radical Arts.  I was happy to take the Minion of Danno to see it this year.

 

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He looks like he went to Carrie’s high school prom.

 

Evil Dead: The Musical has become, hands down, my favorite musical performance over the last few years. I’ve been fortunate enough to experience this incredible show three of the last four years and it just keeps getting better every freaking time. I was front row last night for the opening of the most recent production of this campy, blood-soaked musical put on by the talented folks at Radical Arts.

Formed in 2016, this theater company has already made quite a name for itself with productions of their Alice in Wonderland-themed burlesque, Down the Rabbit Hole, and other shows, including Venus in Fur and Extremities. They also have the distinct honor of being the absolute bloodiest production of Evil Dead: The Musical that I’ve ever attended.

Friday night’s opening of Evil Dead marked the beginning of their season and a return of one of the coolest musicals you’ll ever see in Nashville or anywhere else for that matter. As a devoted Deadite and horror fan, as well as a lover of musical theater, it’s become a must-see event and this time was no exception. For those unfamiliar with the show, it began in 2003 in Canada as a campy tribute to The Evil Dead series of films starring Bruce Campbell and quickly exploded into a wild success, almost universally loved by fans. Radical Arts adds to that proud tradition of over-the-top craziness and comedy.

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And in all the craziness, I did get chance to do something new that I’ve never done before. I wrote a book review. Josh Hancock writes horror in what has become a very unique style. Epistolary narratives have largely fallen by the wayside since the Victorian Era ended 100 years ago but that doesn’t mean they can’t be exciting and fun. Like reading Dracula for the first time without the stodgy British concern for form and propriety, Hancock’s book Death Rituals tells the story of a young girl who suffers an unimaginable trauma and the fall out that it has for years to come on her life.

As a fiction writer, I’m very critical of story no matter what it is I choose to review. I’ve watched films that have had terrible production and acting but have been saved by a unique and well written story. The same is true about books. Writing a book is a long, difficult process and the reception of it is so much harder to gauge. The truth is people just don’t seem as inclined to read, think, and imagine the way they used to and it makes a writer’s job so much harder. In a time when most people only have time and attention for 140 characters or less, how do you hook an audience and engage them in a way that will keep them focused on the story you have to tell. Josh Hancock may have the solution in his new book Death Rituals.

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With all these reviews and the Nashville Zombie Walk I feel like I haven’t written fiction in a long time. It’s actually a bit depressing when you consider yourself to be a horror creator who has spent more time in the last year writing about other people’s work than making your own. I’m hoping I can get my latest project, State of Fear, up and running in the next few weeks and start pitching it to the outlets I write for. It would be nice to at least generate some site traffic with a syndicated piece, not to mention give me a chance to breathe and start writing stories again. It would also be cool to start writing more pieces talking about horror culture and cultural influences like the piece I did a year ago about the connection between sex and horror. Time will tell, I suppose.

I’ve been doing some changes to the site, especially the book store (hint, hint) so check it out.

 

 

 

 

 

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Raising the Dead: The Three R’s

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With the 2017 Nashville Zombie Walk coming up in less than a week (October 28, 2017) it’s time to take care of some odds and ends and to answer some questions while we’re at it. There are two big ones on everyone’s minds and I want to clarify everything about them in one post. There are three R’s that this post will cover.

 

The Registration

Okay, the biggest topic that everyone is talking about is registration. A lot of folks are wanting to know why we’re having to register this year and I completely understand that concern. As co-producer Lucas has mentioned in some of the posts on Facebook, this is the natural progression of things as an event becomes larger and more sophisticated. Basically, the Nashville Zombie Walk is, and always will be, 100% free to participate in. Unfortunately, unless zombie walk participants want to raise the thousands of dollars it takes to insure, promote, permit, and grow this event, we’re going to have to seek out sponsors. As I’ve said in a few of my posts and articles over the last year, putting together a zombie walk is expensive and there is a ludicrous amount of red tape to cut through to make it happen.

Thanks to sponsors like Lightning 100, the walk’s financial needs have been met and we’re able to have an event this year. No, this doesn’t make Lightning or any of the other sponsors “owners” of the event but it does give them a voice in how we do a few things. From my standpoint as an organizer, I want to know how many people actually attend the zombie walk. From the point of view of a sponsor, they want to know that their money was well spent so seeing a number encourages them to work with us (and pay some bills) in the future. If we can show them that X amount of people showed up in 2017, they’ll in turn be more likely to not only sponsor us again next year but to expand their sponsorship so we can do more cool things.

There’s a few other good reasons to register as well, though. For starters, we need volunteers to help us pull off this event and make it a success and this helps us keep track of who wants to join us and make the Nashville Zombie Walk live again. The process to register (walker or volunteer) is ridiculously easy. I’m not always the most tech literate person but it took me just under three minutes to create an account, find the zombie walk, and get fully registered.

There is also a safety/liability reason for having walkers register. At the sign in table participants will receive a sticker where we’re going to ask you to write a name and phone number for an emergency contact. You’ll then put the sticker on you somewhere so that if something happens (think medical emergency) we can quickly contact someone who knows you and can pass on any relevant information or get their help in getting you the aid you need. The stickers are also going to serve as a sign to staff at Marathon Music Works at the end of the route that you’ve been with the zombie walk. This will allow you to come in for the after party/Paranormal Rocktivity pre-show and may also serve to get you a discounted ticket if you want to stick around for the show later that night.

The vision for the Nashville Zombie Walk is to make it a Music City staple during the Halloween season just like the Full Moon Horror Convention and local haunted houses. We want this to become an event that will draw a crowd, not just from within the state, but from around the region. We’re going to make this the biggest zombie bash in the Southeast but it’s going to take time and effort.

The Route

The other controversy and confusion seems to come from the route itself. The route is exactly 1.7 miles from the Cummins Station landing port to the gravel yard at Marathon Music Works. No, it’s not the classic, overused Riverfront Park march along Broadway in a giant loop. Whether it’s a distance thing or a scenery thing, I’ve heard complaints about the route and I just want to address that quickly. At  1.7 miles, taking into consideration crosswalks and traffic, will take about an hour for everyone to walk. The return trip, if you’re walking the route back, will only take about twenty minutes as you’ll be a part of a much smaller group. As an out of shape, overweight, 30-something with a bum knee from a recent injury, I walked the route in an hour and a half while also handing out fliers and posters to local businesses and walked the route back to my car in about twenty minutes with no severe physical or mental strain.

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Construction along the route is one of the biggest reasons for the number of twists and turns that are going to be experienced this Saturday. We had to tack on a couple of blocks because of some work being done around 11th Ave and, due to some situations that were beyond our control, we had to make this a pedestrian route this year including a small section of the greenway behind 11 North. The route itself, however, is absolutely incredible and I think fans of the zombie walk will enjoy it quite a lot.

As for the scenery, there are some amazing photo opportunities that our new route offers. I’d tell you all about them but I’ll let these pictures speak for themselves.

Things change and, in this case, they’re changing for the better. We went two years without a zombie walk and, as we are getting the event up and moving again, there are kinks to be worked out and changes to be made. We want to make this the best zombie walk in the state, the region, and eventually the nation. If you don’t like the route this year, leave us some feedback and suggestions on better routes to use next year. We’ll listen because, at the end of the day, this is your zombie walk.

We’re making arrangements with local make-up and effects artists to be on hand at the rally point at Cummins station to do some zombification to walkers and the incredible Rick Prince is going to be our featured guest along with a couple of his own zombie creations.

The Rules

The final piece of the puzzle here is just some simple housekeeping stuff we need to let everyone know. The mission of the Nashville Zombie Walk is to create a fun and exciting event to both entertain and encourage participants to donate to the Second Harvest Food Bank. Being conducted in public streets, we ask all participants to follow some basic rules to help foster a good, working relationship with local business and government so that we can continue to make this a staple of the Halloween season. You can download a .pdf copy of the rules here.

So, read the rules, check out the route, be sure to register, and of course get your costume together for the return of the living dead as the Nashville Zombie Walk comes home on October 28th.

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I’ve got books…

…and you know you want them!

Second editions of A Thousand Little Deaths and Those Things’ll Kill Ya’ went up yesterday as well as my latest collection of short stories, Random Fears. All are on Amazon and, if you’ve got Amazon Prime, these books are free to download. If not, they’re only ninety-nine cents so there’s really no excuse not to treat yourself and buy a copy for your favorite eReader. Meanwhile, Noirlathotep (featuring a story by me) remains at the very reasonable price of $2.99 for a download and, if you’re a fan of old noir detective stories or cosmic horror you’ll love it.

So what are you waiting for? Read ’em. Love ’em. RATE ‘EM!

 

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Undertaker Cover

 

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Noirlathotep

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