The Morning File: Hines, you're the nicest zombie in town
Hines Ward: Man of many talents.
Hines Ward will be honored with the Dapper Dan Lifetime Achievement Award.
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Hines Ward is a beloved ex-Steeler who was a terrific football player, dances superbly, cooks exquisitely, stands up for biracial children, appeared in "The Dark Knight Rises" and will be the recipient Wednesday of the Dapper Dan Lifetime Achievement Award.
It almost seems like the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has some kind of "Hines Watch" going on every day, with the ever-smiling competitor getting even more attention in retirement than he did during his playing days.
We've become accustomed to reading about his work as a broadcaster for NBC and participating in the Food Network's "Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off" reality TV competition. He's also in training for a grueling Ironman Triathlon; it really seems there's nothing Mr. Ward won't do. We wouldn't be surprised to see him in the newspaper office this morning handing an editor photos he's taken of weekend events for the Seen column.
All of that pales, however, next to how he's able to handle life -- or the afterlife, as it were -- as a zombie.
That's because the "Hines Watch" news that really caught our eye, because we're so darned jealous, reported on his serving as a zombie extra for an episode of AMC's "The Walking Dead," which returns to the air Sunday. He volunteered for the role and used connections to a former college teammate in the cast to get it.
If you watch the show, it should be easy to spot him -- just look for the zombie flashing that big Hines smile while he chomps on someone's internal organs or gets hacked in the brain.
We assume he'll be smiling, because that's all we've ever seen Mr. Ward do, though he did say about his performance and makeup: "I actually scared myself when I looked in the mirror for the first time after." (Hey, join the club, Hines -- some of us scare ourselves in the mirror first thing every morning, and we don't need any makeup to do it.)
The Morning File's author has wanted to be a zombie ever since seeing Pittsburgh filmmaker George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" as a 10-year-old in 1968 and realizing that if civilization is descending into some kind of ghoulish hell, as everyone knows is inevitable, he wants to be on the side of the eaters instead of those-being-eaten (more or less the "If you can't eat 'em, join 'em" philosophy).
Some people viewed that groundbreaking film as a fantasy, but I knew it was very real as soon as I saw its scenes with Bill Cardille, whom I had by then been watching as host of "Chiller Theater" every Saturday night for years, thanks to laissez-faire parents of small children in the '60s.
No movie I'd ever seen had a person so familiar to me as Chilly Billy in it, so that and the Butler County setting convinced me there must be zombies roaming the countryside all around Pittsburgh, which made it hard to go to sleep for the next month.
My thirst to become one of them has only intensified from watching "The Walking Dead," where the cast is full of such annoying live people that it's very gratifying when one of them gets accidentally separated from the rest and becomes victim to a scrum of lurching, ravenous, glassy-eyed -- and yes, typically unsmiling -- undead people depicted as villains.
We're so tired of the anti-zombie propaganda perpetrated by the mass media that we welcomed Friday's arrival in theaters of "Warm Bodies," in which there's a love story between a young zombie retaining shreds of a moral conscience and a girl who's still a normal human -- at least, unless he eats her in the end. In any case, their relationship represents progress.
We can think of so many good reasons to want to be one of the walking dead: no more worries about whether the next cable bill will bring a rate increase; the April 15 tax-filing deadline becomes pretty much meaningless; a newscast warning that flooding would close the Mon Wharf parking lot would just have us shrug our shoulders, if we're able.
And then there's this kicker from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: It has identified leafy green vegetables as the leading source of food poisoning illnesses. But guess what, CDC -- zombies don't eat leafy green vegetables! Bam!
So Hines, if you can get me hooked up with your buddies -- and by that I don't mean Steelers or dancers or chefs or any of that other silly stuff -- I'll be very grateful to be a corpse on my toes. But let's make it another reality show of yours, not just pretend drama this time.
First Published February 4, 2013 12:00 am