Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Zombie attack on Mount Royal

"... and in the end, the zombie attack was actually a lot of fun for everyone!" I said.

"That’s great!" my acquaintance said. "You have some great stories. You should be invited to every party."

"I am," I said.

"You’re never at the ones I’m at."

"Well, of course not." I said. "The parties you go to are lame."

His face fell. Was this perhaps too mean a thing to say to someone who was just trying to pay me a sincere compliment? And was it even remotely justified considering how few parties I actually go to? Is this why I go to so few? And more importantly, what was that bit about the zombies?

Let me start explaining this way: A few months ago, I was telling my friend Sascha about an amazing coincidence. "My friend e-mailed me a link to a newspaper story about the zombie attack in Montreal, and it turned out that another friend of mine was actually the one who wrote it!" I said.

"Oh, wow! Cool!" she said. Then confusion clouded her face. "Wait ... what?"

As you can see, when you've got a story about a zombie attack, I think it’s best to just casually throw a reference to it out there to pique curiosity. I did it to poor Sascha, and I did it yesterday when I was telling the aforementioned co-worker about my arch-nemesis, Medieval Club Guy. He’d heard of middle-aged people reliving their youth, but never young people reliving the Middle Ages, but in fact, there are whole communities of folks who do. Some like to don hosiery and simper. Others strap on armour and whale away on one another with swords. "As a matter of fact," I said, "my old pal John MacFarlane* wrote a newspaper story about the zombie attack on a bunch of those guys for the Montreal Gazette just a few months back."

His face clouded with confusion. "Wait ... what?"

I must admit some confusion myself. I thought I had passed along the tale, but it would seem not. You should definitely read John's account for yourself. It’s his story to tell, and he does it well. But I’ll summarize it.

A group of as many as 200 people regularly meet to do battle in Mount Royal park in Montreal. It’s kind of like that old Tom Hanks exploitation movie, Mazes and Monsters: A bunch of people who would normally meet in a dank basement to play Dungeons and Dragons take things to the next level with something they call "larping" (live-action role playing), which basically seems to consist of whacking each other with sawn-off hockey sticks and garbage-can lids. This at least gets them out in the fresh air and sunlight. And although the fighting is about as real as pro wrestling, there is a similar element of danger. One of my history teachers had us do something similar in high school, and a guy nearly lost a thumb. This is kind of cool for a history class. But as a weekend hobby, it is, from a certain viewpoint, nerdy in the extreme.

A group of indie-music-listening hipsters thought so, and, organizing their attack on an online message board, they resolved to drive these poindexters back to their dank basements where they belonged. However, they undertook this mission with considerably more panache than, say, a bunch of frat boys, who usually occupy the ecological niche of the natural enemy of nerds. They dressed up as zombies, going all-out with gory, Tom Savini-level makeup jobs and tattered clothing, and ambushed two armies of larpers already doing battle in the park. Here, I will quote John (who I’m sure had something to do with the story besides just writing it, by the way, being an indie-music-listening hipster himself):
It might be expected that the medievalists, having never experienced an intrusion into their Sunday reality, would have been stunned when a small army of dishevelled zombies staggered out of the woods toward them. But this was not the case.

"It was like they had been waiting for this moment for their entire lives," Guay said.

"They formed a battle line and charged," said Kate Irvine, 20, another message board regular and spectator. "They didn't stop and look confused even for a second."
Medieval club guys and zombies battled it out for over an hour, with no small amount of brain-eating and undead-turning taking place. And in the end, as I said, the zombie attack was actually a lot of fun for everyone. Sure, the larpers were nerds, figured the indie-music-listening hipsters, but they themselves had enjoyed the whole thing immensely, and hey, they were indie-music-listening hipsters, and that’s merely another kind of nerd anyway.

There’s a lesson in there somewhere, but I don’t know what it is. Good story, though.

* You may know John MacFarlane as editor of the magazine Toronto Life. That said, I'm actually talking about a different guy with the same name who founded the now-defunct website Good Magazine.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marvellous story. I sent it along to my buddy in Montreal; I think he once participated in larping on Mont Royal, with weapons made from duct tape.

I have a blog somewhere. I've thought about talking about those bus decals for a while, but I wanted photos, so I never got around to it. Now that I think about it, an entry sans photos would've been perfectly sufficient, as you did it.

I wonder why they only have them on buses. I know they appear on newer buses, but they have to have bought at least one new streetcar recently. Do bus-riders tend to be less considerate?

- Gloria

1/11/2006 07:25:00 PM  
Blogger Chance said...

Was this perhaps too mean a thing to say to someone who was just trying to pay me a sincere compliment? And was it even remotely justified considering how few parties I actually go to? Is this why I go to so few?

In many ways, you and I seem to be very much alike.

1/11/2006 10:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pet, I really hope I told you about the artist at my old place of work, who lost his right arm while re-enacting the battle of Crécy. A cannon misfired, I think. Anyway, there's a happy ending: he learnt to paint with his left hand.

1/19/2006 08:04:00 AM  

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