I’m reading and enjoying a novel titled “World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War” by Max Brooks (Three Rivers Press, 2006). It’s set in a ravaged world in the aftermath of a terrible conflict between the living and the undead, which the living apparently (and barely) have managed to win. The story is told in the form of dispatches from various parts of the world.

In last night’s reading, I came across the following entertaining passage:

“Just outside of Greater Los Angeles, in a town called Claremont, are five colleges — Pomona, Pitzer, Scripps, Harvey Mudd, and Claremont McKenna. At the start of the Great Panic, when everyone else was running, literally, for the hills, three hundred students chose to make a stand. They turned the Women’s College at Scripps into something resembling a medieval city. They got their supplies from the other campuses; their weapons were a mix of landscaping tools and ROTC practice rifles. They planted gardens, dug wells, fortified an already existing wall. While the mountains burned behind them, and the surrounding suburbs descended into violence, those three hundred kids held off ten thousand zombies! Ten thousand, over the course of four months, until the Inland Empire could finally be pacified. (California’s Inland Empire was one of the last zones to be declared secure.) We were lucky to get there just at the tail end, just in time to see the last of the undead fall, as cheering students and soldiers linked up under the oversized, homemade Old Glory fluttering from the Pomona bell tower. What a story!”

What a story, indeed.

Way to go, Claremont!


Reader Jacqui Marinaro of Crestline adds her own ghost story to the growing anthology of Best Inland Empire Ghost Stories (check out my column on the subject at sbsun.com/johnweeks).

Jacqui’s tale is a double whammy …

Read your ghost stories. I must tell you mine. We have a man who walks by the window. So what, you say? The outside stairs under that window are very steep, and one would quickly disappear going down the steps. This man walks across the window as if on air!

There’s more …

There is a child who likes to jump on the bed when I am alone in it. I feel his presence and his playful bouncing. It feels just like a child climbing up on the bed and jumping up and down. Twice I turned and SAW him, but he has not returned since then.


Tom Vanderbilt, author of the bestselling book “Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (And What It Says About Us),” talked about lousy drivers in a recent talk at Cal State San Bernardino. I was inspired by his talk to offer my own rant about lousy drivers, in my column of Oct. 28 (you can check it out at sbsun.com/johnweeks). My column inspired additional ranters and ravers to speak up. Some readers agreed with me, others were critical. They all made points that add up to a good discussion of the topic. Here’s a cross-sample:

From N. Davis, Claremont: “Speeders and texters are selfish and dangerous. But before you diss the ‘slowpokes,’ you might acknowledge that they really are neither selfish nor dangerous drivers. Many cars are MUCH more efficient at 55 than at 65. That’s something that’s good for the PLANET, not merely good for the driver’s pocketbook. The amount of time you ‘lose’ because there are people doing 55 in the SLOW lane (the SLOW lane … duh) is likely to be trivial and altogether inconsequential….unless you are an ambulance driver or the sort of selfish/poor planner who leaves himself no margin whatsoever. Slow down. Wise up. And … think before you type.”

From J.B., Lake Arrowhead: “I read your piece about Tom Vanderbilt’s book, and can’t agree more about your take on Inland Empire drivers. Funny, and, as they say across the Pond, spot-on. Myself, I’m finally, after 21 years of driving the mountains, getting a slight grip on road rage.”

From “A Slowpoke Who Has No Intention of Using Surface Streets”: “OK, if speeders are morons and slowpokes are supposed to stay off the road, just who exactly is doing it right? You, I suppose? I’m one of those people who drive primarily in the right lane (I learned to drive from my dad, who was a truck driver back before “truckers” were hillbilly kamikazes). I generally drive right about the speed limit. There are still people weaving in and out, still people clinging to my rear bumper and still people who think the reason I leave a decent gap between me and the car in front of me is so they can pull in. Actually, on the rare days when most people are driving the way I do, traffic moves more smoothly, with less people having to hit brakes, and we all go a little faster. And why didn’t you write about the people who, when the light turns green to pull onto the onramp, try to come onto the freeway in a tight cluster, like they expect people on the freeway to open a hole for 20 cars in a row? Or those people who, driving in a lane that’s about to end, insist on passing every possible car before they squeeze in just before they would’ve crashed into something? Why didn’t they take the three or four opportunities they had to merge smoothly? Because there were more cars they could get in front of, of course. It’s all about being in front. It isn’t even about going the fastest, because when those people finally do pull in, they often immediately hit the brakes to avoid ramming the car in front of them. It’s all pretty easy. When getting on the freeway, drive by sandbox rules: Take turns. You throw sand in the other kid’s face, you get a fat lip, so be nice. Drive at some semblance of the speed limit. All those flag-waving, tea-partying patriots in their giant pickups are, in fact, blatantly violating the law of the land when they drive at 75 or 80 (or faster). They don’t like it when “illegal aliens” flaunt the law, but they’re cool when they do it, right? No, they’re not. They are just as wrong as the illegals. Speed limits are laws, not jokes. So, just how fast do YOU think people should go on the freeway?”

From Dave Stefany: “I’m afraid we’re observing 21st Century Man in action,
and the trend is NOT up.”

From Ian Ballard: “That was a great article. Now if only those morons could read!”