Friday, February 10, 2012

Life goes by pretty fast, so stop and watch the zombies

From today's Briefing:

It’s easy to determine my age based on the list of movies I loved during high school: Dirty DancingBack to the FutureThe Breakfast ClubSixteen CandlesTop Gun and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Yes, I am a child of the ’70s, a decidedly ’80s girl on the verge of turning 40. All those hours of watching silly movies on cable and VHS weren’t fruitless. There were lessons — some more hidden than others — in all the flicks.
Stand up for what you believe in. Take risks. Don’t judge a book by its cover or a teen by his label. Don’t take too many (or any) muscle relaxers the day of your wedding. Navy pilots are dreamy. And, every now and then, you need a break from routine.
Or, as Ferris Bueller would say, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Ferris is enjoying a resurgence these days, thanks to nostalgic types like me and a car commercial that imagines an adult version of playing hooky, with Matthew Broderick feigning illness like his famous character.
I’m home this week after my own version of playing hooky — an annual long weekend away with friends, away from children and work and laundry. This year’s slice of responsibility-free heaven: Savannah, Ga.
We three moms had a list of places we wanted to see, things we wanted to do, food we wanted to eat. But we were relaxed enough to allow some items to drop off the list, open to making room for unexpected discoveries.
Like the puppet show we stumbled into after touring an art museum. A group of sixth-grade drama students presented the story of Juliette Gordon Low and the founding of the Girl Scouts 100 years ago in Savannah.
We learned fascinating facts about an honorable American woman. We laughed at corny jokes. And I left with stories to share with my own Daisy Girl Scout troop.
“Random free puppet show” is nowhere on any travel guide’s list of things to do in Savannah, but I’m glad we didn’t miss it.
Travel guides do recommend Fort Pulaski, on the road from Savannah to Tybee Island. The fort was designed to protect the young United States from foreign attack, but it wasn’t battle-tested until the Civil War.
I’m certain the architects of Fort Pulaski never imagined what shenanigans would actually take place there more than 150 years later.
On a whim, we pulled into the fort for a look-see — with serendipitous timing. A cannon firing was scheduled to begin in 10 minutes. We parked and hustled across a couple of bridges to be sure we didn’t miss the event. That’s when we spied some unusual activity. We were surrounded by a dozen zombies. And not just any zombies. These undead hailed from the 1860s.
We quickly learned that Fort Pulaski was serving as a backdrop to a low-budget, direct-to-DVD movie with the working title Abe Lincoln vs. Zombies.
After covering our ears during two cannon demonstrations, the three of us walked the pentagonal fort, taking in architectural details and imaging the life of an average soldier. Then we spied on the movie set.
The director, we discovered, takes his craft seriously. He spoke with arrogant authority, as if directing a remake of Citizen Kane.
While perched atop a brick wall, peering into a stairwell, he discovered a camera angle he preferred to the original plan.
“From overhead this is very compelling,” he spoke down to a colleague.
Hesitation sets in.
“Before we marry this, do we have enough zombies?”
Perhaps not.
“Let’s get every zombie in here!”
The creepily dressed extras move in.
“Just surround him with zombies!”
Desperation sets in.
“Is this every single zombie in the joint?”
At this moment, between giggles, my traveling companions and I consider scoring some 1860s garb and volunteering for the job. But the director yells, “Action!” and the zombies stretch out their zombie arms and make zombie noises, and the scene is wrapped.
The lesson from this movie? There are never enough zombies. And there are unexpected rewards when you stop and look around.
I’m glad we didn’t miss it.
Tyra Damm is a Briefing columnist. Email her at
Two zombies and me

Every single zombie in the joint

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