Attack of the Teenage Snow-Day Zombies: Resuscitating the Watching Dead

We heard its slow steps trudging up from the cellar—one foot was obviously dragging.  I swear we could hear the drool splashing on the floorboards.  It snarled.  It hated the daylight—even cloud-covered sunshine deflected off the snow.  We stood in its way and we were going to pay for it…

My son, after three days of "Game of Thrones"

My son, after three days of “Game of Thrones”

“I was in the middle of an episode!” it roared.

You may have seen the snow-day zombies in your own home.  They’re easy to spot.  They still look a bit like those pictures on the wall

Before the change...

Before they changed…

—but they’re meaner and generally have distinct characteristics.

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Dirty, standing-in-weird-places hair
  • Hunger so severe they don’t know they’re hungry anymore
  • Aggressive, attack-first tendencies
  • Extremely protective of their turf—namely, their remotes
Atlanta, after the Falcons didn't make the playoffs

Atlanta, after the Falcons didn’t make the playoffs

It’s not quite the parking lot of the Center for Disease Control, but we are nearly as hopeful as those running pollyannas in Season 1 of the The Walking Dead.  Maybe there is a cure.

Old Man Winter is Here to Stay (and brought his Depends)

“When I was your age…” (I actually said that the other day.) “…I had  to stare at the crawling words on the bottom of the TV screen for an hour—praying for a snow day!”

In two minutes of cyber assault whose coordination was once reserved only for Civil Defense systems, my two teenagers discovered last night that they had their fifth consecutive day off school.  Deep snow followed by -12 degrees (without the wind-chill) and the news came via email, voice mail, and text—followed seconds later in a Twitter and Facebook barrage.

My daughter was elated.  My son, believe it or not, was less exuberant—it was kind of like that final M&M in the giant bag.  It just doesn’t taste as good as the first one.

I can’t really blame the captive, trapped in a house with a mother, a sister, a yapping attention-starved schnauzer-yorkie-poo and a father who could very well include him in his blog at any moment.  But it was telling, that this great television troll in our basement cave was actually sick of his surroundings.  He’d already listened to each of the fifteen commentary tracks in his Christmas Blue-ray Marvel collection as well as inhaled the 142 featurettes included.

"Now Sam, just think of some witty banter for the DVDs"

“Now Sam, just think of some witty banter for the DVDs”

My daughter took the plunge a few days ago, delving deeply into the Lord of the Rings trilogy extended editions, discovering why the director chose to cut each film to a meager three hours.  (If only Peter Jackson might have trimmed down 25 minutes of the Sam-Frodo deep gazes.) Abby also listened to the useless commentary that actors generally provide and watched the “bonus” footage.

She's got the whole world...

She’s got the whole world…

But the real cause of their zombie-like gazes lies in the harmless little black box beside the Blue-ray deck—the Roku.  This streaming piece of plastic has captured my family and sent me and my wife in tailspins of our own (as described in last year’s The Netflix Workout).  Our frustration that Friday Night Lights and The Wire lasted only five seasons still stings.  The kids, however, are particularly susceptible, especially on dark, cold evenings when they know there is nothing waiting for them until the crack of noon at least.

They’ve run the range of quality series…and even some questionable ones.

Let's play, "Not Dead Yet" -- hmmm....

Let’s play, “Not Dead Yet” — hmmm….

My 18 year-old son’s recent addictions include:

  • Heroes
  • Star Trek (all of them)
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Game of Thrones
  • South Park
  • Family Guy
Smaug and Bilbo

Smaug and Bilbo

My 16 year-old daughter’s British choices:

  • Dr. Who
  • Sherlock
  • Merlin

I can’t really complain about any of their choices—even Heroes, which tanked toward the end of its short run.  I’m very happy they’ve never gotten into Jersey Shore  or any of the unreal reality shows.

But now we’re faced with the very difficult question–how to return my zombies to the living in time for school tomorrow.  Over the past few days we’ve tried a bit of warm-turkey…

One quick pull...

One quick pull…

Weaning one away–an hour at a time…

Reducing the exposure to small installments is a good idea.  Yesterday, they could only remain exposed for 60 minutes then they had to do some chore (remember those?).  Without cows to milk, and the dog rejected that one as well, they had to vacuum, shovel the snow, empty and fill the dishwasher and even try to find their beds beneath the debris in their rooms.

These will look great on the floor by the jump rope.

These will look great on the floor by the jump rope.

Sweating to the Oldies…

There’s a reason that the elliptical is parked in front of the TV—besides a handy place to dry the laundry.  My son dragged a few weights out of the back room and appears to be close to thinking about lifting them.


Homework?  You’re Kidding Right?

Give them an assignment for each episode.  Successful completion of the following questions allows another hour of exposure.

  • What plot twist moved the story in a different direction?
  • Who is the worst actor?  Give specific details—bonus points for a really bad quote!
  • Who would you most like to be?  Why?
  • When did the show jump the shark?  At what point did you say, “Oh, come on!”
  • Write an episode of the show.  If you’re really feeling mean.


Not quite as dramatic as a samurai sword through the eye-socket, but much more lingering for the two poor kids born into an English teacher’s home.

So before you open that cellar door, be armed.  They’re going to attack and may not even know what they’re doing.

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About Kevin Walsh

Kevin began in 2013 as an experiment that was as simple as "What's a blog?" and ended up becoming a forum for fellow writers. He's been a high school teacher for 28 years and worked as an administrator and instructor in colleges for 6. Contact him at: He is also the producer of the web-series and blog, www.DiggingDetroit, founder and producer for MMD Productions at which offers quick, professional photography, video and multimedia solutions for individuals, organizations and businesses. His high school media production text, "Video Direct," has been used in 40 states--and he occasionally still sells a few. He is the current president of the non-profit DAFT (Digital Arts Film and Television) which sponsors the Michigan Student Film Festival. He lives in Royal Oak, Michigan, is married to Patrice and is tolerated by his two kids Aidan and Abby who have all graciously allowed him to write about them on occasion. Follow Kevin on Twitter @kwteacher

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