Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Man's Home is his sweet sweet zombie-proof bunker.

On the Importance of suitable housing in the Post-Apocalyptic world. Another sidestep perhaps in the realm of this rambling collection of essays. Perhaps. Though many previously considered skills might come well in handy in the achievement of these goals.

Human beings aren't well adapted to the environments in which they inhabit. We're hairless, relatively speaking(though some of us have more fur than others). We completely lack claws or teeth that might be useful in attack or defense.

As such, we need to create tools in order to ensure our continued survival. One of the more important tools that humanity has had to improvise on is shelter. Living in trees doesn't work for us, as it is hard to get a water bed up atop a birch. Not to mention the whole being 'exposed to the elements' bit that seems to kill so many stupid hikers every year. Humans need to get their asses out of the sun/wind/rain/cold and back into their mother's basements in order to survive.

There are a lot of options at hand. Hundreds of millions of which don't require few skills at all(back to lock-picking!) Beyond being able to find a nice neighborhood, one that keeps its zombie population under control, and doesn't let the biker gangs run amok. The planet is full of cities which are full of houses and buildings in which any squatter can make use of either in passing or for longer periods. These houses may even come stocked with some of the basic necessities. There have been several movies that were devoted to the subject.

I mean, have you seen the zombie-proof house? If not, here's the link. Enjoy.

Good luck getting in though. Unless you already live there.

So a short list of some relevant skills that might be helpful during this process. With the addition of a few extremely lame jokes:

Carpentry:with a second major in Messiaship should you be unable to make a square cut.. Lumberjackery:adds +50 points to your manscore.
Stone Masonry: To go with the conspiracy joke or the EA Poe joke?
Operating Heavy Machinery: That's what she said.
Architecture and design
Plumbing: Trust me, outdoor privies suck, especially in the winter.
The Manly art of the Electrician: I think they prefer to be called current riders. AC/DC!
Math: Especially Geometry
Applied Physics.
Ceramics: For the making of roof tiles or mud bricks.

Did we all make it through OK? Sorry. I'm a sick man.

Tents: You can get them anywhere or make them out of about anything. They're light and easy relocate, inexpensive too. The various Plains Indian Nations made heavy use of well engineered tents. Teepees. Fun word to say. Teepees. Oh, to giggle like I was 10 again. Teepees. So, Teepee living is possible in even some of the most brutal climates. The down side is, there is only that thin fabric between you and that zombie horde.

Log Cabin: Many parts of the world are covered in trees. Broad portions of the united states are especially so. Wood makes for an excellent building material. It's strong, light, easy to work with and abundant. Construction is rather quick and easy, relatively speaking, if you know what you're doing. Log homes have served generations of Americans both as primary and secondary residences(cabin in the woods). They can be made quite snug too. And they just look cool. Down side? They're made of wood. Wood tends to burn, as any Barbarian knows. The English King Henry V was said to have stated - “War without fire is like sausages without mustard.”

So, the log cabin would make a fine home in an out of the way area, but hardly a fortress. That is, unless you took the opportunity to bury it in the earth. Which would make it drastically safer and more weatherly. Mind the termites though.

Underground Dwelling: This is the one I'm currently daydreaming about for my own post-apocalyptic compound. A concrete bunker with a nice south-facing solarium(being in the northern hemisphere) for the extra light, especially come winter. Cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Plant a garden on your roof. No worries about fires, or people shooting holes in your walls. Being underground, though, means that you don't really have a height advantage(note to self, build moat).

I cannot think of anything else. So, cheers, and good building!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Behold the power of the written word!

Writing. The companion to reading. The two combined skills make up the set that we call literacy and they tend to go hand in hand. When you learn how to translate the symbols that are used for written language, you usually learn how to make them, and then string them together to make words of your own. Written language, as I've said, is the most fantastic tool that our species has managed to develop. How else do you permanently expand the human memory? And then allow it to be passed onto subsequent generations intact?

These are our laws. Our traditions. How you grow corn. Who was snogging who in the royal palace. Some of these accounts are more important than others. Yes indeed. But that is the power of the written word, for today you can record, and then future generations can make those decisions. Ideas can not only be diffused geographically, but carried forward in time. Ideas are powerful. Being able to record and share them? That's a force multi-plier right there. And a powerful one at that.

Writing to Civilization is like Quad-Damage to Quake.

But making the symbols represents the most rudimentary grasp of the skill.

Like everything else, you can know how to write and how to Write. True writing involves not just scratching out symbols, but also the act of communication. Effective communication. This is where the true merit of the skill lies. To take a complex set of instructions or events and transcribe them in a manner that is easily understood, without extra explanation, that's a talent to nurture.

Treaties, manuals and love letters. They all require a the ability to carefully arrange the written word. Else they lose their power. “Hey Dog, how are you.” has a vastly different meaning than “Hey Dawg, how are you.” Don't believe me? Try writing a letter to your girlfriend using the first variation. Odds are that expressing your regret properly will run into a rather large offering of chocolate and flowers.

It'll be funny. Do it.

We currently live in a wonderful time for writers. We have two awesome tools that make the process simple and clean. The first leads to the second, and it is, Word Processing software. WP allows the writer to quickly and easily change words, and sentences. Even paragraphs. This is a wonderful labor-saving device and I love it for my own work. In knowing how to compose and write, one can even learn to hide information within the language. Poems and stories can become coded messages.

The second tool, as was mentioned, is built into most word processing software. Guessed what it is yet? Bingo, spell-check. The English language consists of hundreds of thousands of words, and for most ordinary humans remembering how to spell them all is nigh on impossible. At the same time, miss-spelling words makes you look like an imbecile. More so if you're working on a formal project. In addition to looking stupid with miss-spelling, as was alluded to earlier, you can also change the meaning of the sentence.

How to avoid this? Practice and experience. They're about all you can do. Just like most aspects of life. No problem right? You probably already have a computer. All you need to do is start a blog. Like everyone else on the internet. Then you can practice all you like, and people might even read what you wrote. And come back to call you an idiot.

We need to preserve the knowledge about all things writing. Else, who will record the naughty sonnets and limericks that we compose in our time of despair?

For there once was a man from Nantucket.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Hobo with a Shotgun. An interlude.

Hobo With a Shotgun

This movie is an absolute work of genius. No sarcasm.

I realize that this is out of my usual realm of material and focus, as it isn't post-apocalyptic(so far as we know) But it definitely has a Dystopian bent to it, which is close enough and shares the themes of violence and lawlessness that one would expect in a Post-apocalyptic movie. This movie makes me want to write my own Grindhouse film script, whether or not it will ever be made into a movie. I just feel the need to attempt it.

The premise of Hobo With a Shotgun is simple. A hobo (played by Rutgar Hauer) rolls into town looking for a better life, arrives in a corrupt hell-hole of a city. The city is run by a maniac and his two evil sons. They're psychotically violent and take every chance to inflict harm on the people of the city. Crime runs rampant and everyone turns a blind eye as they hope that they;ll be overlooked by the criminal elements. As any nail that sticks up too far is likely to get smashed back into the board with a sledge hammer. And then shot.

Well, the Hobo might be crushed under by life's heel, but he still has a spark of life in him. And he hates what he sees. But he goes through and tries to work his way up the hobo ladder and make his life better. Along the way he encounters the Pedo Santa, and all sorts of other trash before meeting up with the Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Standard Issue. He saves her life and sends her on her way with some fatherly advice (who the hell listens to positive advice from a bum? I prefer the 'don't do this or you'll end up like me' sort of advice, else you might be falling into the same trap that took the hobo as he tries to live vicariously through you).

Shit happens. The hobo acts heroically. And then is disappointed by the city once again. The Hooker saves him. He shares a story with her. They bond and develop a father and daughter relationship. And then he gets his shotgun. No. It wasn't just a clever symbolic title. This movie is exactly what it advertises to be. Simple, straight-forward premise. A Hobo, gets a shotgun, and then uses said shotgun. Brilliant!

I don't want to ruin anything for you, the three people who will see these words. The movie is awesome. Find it and watch it. Mind the gore.

What I love about a good Grindhouse flick is the elaborate and imaginative death scenes. Which is why I doubt I'd ever do well in the genre. I am neither imaginative enough, nor disturbed enough to make it work to come up with such graphic scenes. I am in awe. But will stick with what I know. Zombies.

The movie is Canadian. In parts, it is VERY Canadian. Which, in my eyes, redeems the entire nation for the likes of “Stonehenge Apocalypse” and another ten movies like it. The dialogue is as over the top as the story – and it is absolutely perfect. This is Grindhouse. Everything about the genre is over the top and packing as many cheap thrills as possible into 90s minutes of mayhem.

Remember, if life gives you razor blades, you make a bat covered with razor blades. I plan to live by that very

I can't wait until this comes out on DVD. Here's the trailer.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Stonehenge Apocalypse. Missed theaters now!

Stonehenge Apocalypse. June 2010. A movie about two of my favorite subjects. The supernatural. And the Apocalypse. And it was made for Sifee(The SyFy channel)? And it's even Canadian? Hooyeah! Netflix me up some of that shit now! I love low end, poorly thought out, Sifee Saturday morning extravaganzas! All it needs is some fucking Raptors, and then attach some clamps to my nipples and let's get going!

Basically the premise of this movie is that a genius physicist discovers ley lines that connect Stonehenge with various other ancient monuments. The monuments were built at nexus points around the globe, on these lines of electromagnetic energy. The physicist publishes his theory that these lines are part of an ancient machine built by aliens who were terra-forming the earth sometime in the past, and that the government is covering up the fact that they found a robot head on the moon.

He got laughed at and is now in disgrace and spends his time broadcasting a radio-show that expunges on his theories. Once again, the man believes that Space Aliens used Stonehenge to terraform the world by making super-volcanoes erupt and give life to primitive bacteria. He even had a nice map to prove it. And an ancient mechanical device (reference to a doodad that actually exists) that in no way could have been made before the 1960s.

Well, lucky for the dude that he didn't bring up his Hallow Earth theories. Or his postulations that the earth is really a flat disk that rides through space on the back of a giant turtle.

Maybe the monuments were built by Aliens, or maybe they were created by Humans. The writers were a bit fuzzy on the subject. They implied the latter, but the former is in evidence as well. Really, the alien technology is built into at least two of the monuments. Stonehenge and the one in Maine. That's right, Maine USA. Don't recall a giant ancient pyramid in Maine? That's because it's underground. The Egyptians built it. No, I'm not kidding. It's covered in Egyptian hieroglyphs(but seems to be an amalgamation of different cultures in physical style).

Don't worry. The movie doesn't get too bogged down in the science. It skips right over anything that is remotely scientific. Hey, the area is lousy with electromagnetic energy? That's ok, all of your energy will still work! At least up until that point in the plot where it needs to break down to move the story forward and ratchet up tension!

So, the machine gets re-booted and it vaporizes several tourists at Stonehenge. Even though England doesn't let tourists within 500 feet of Stonehenge. They tend to take souvenirs. Maybe these unfortunate sobs got a... come on man. Do some simple fekkin research. I realize that the very premise of many movies requires a certain amount of suspension of disbelief. But there's no reason to get lazy. Tourists exploring Stonehenge. And their next stop was a visit to meet the Queen no doubt! A pity they missed that.

Well, the rest of the movie is skepticism, and incompetence, and the hero refusing to give up ever. His plucky resolve wins the day and the girl. Yep. Budding romance right there tween the straight laced science chick and the fringe radio-host ex-physicist! They're both attractive too.

An evil cult set on destroying the world using alien technology. Actually, that's rather a good twist. And besides, the world does need to be wiped out and started anew. At least the leader thought ahead enough to bring along an equal number of men and woman. And they did bring some food stores. Though I really am left wondering how well food production would do in the decades after the surface of the Earth was scorched to a desert and all life exterminated. Really, it's the other lifeforms(trees and plants and bacteria) that make the world inhabitable. Destorying all that seems a bad idea, unless you can sleep for a few billion years as the world re-builds itself from single-cell bacteria.

But you can't expect religious fanatics to think of these things. They have that holy mission to get on with. Never looking before they vaporize all life forms and all that.

Ok, they destroyed Egypt, the Mediterranean and (presumably) the Mideast. Destroying a good deal of the religious conflict in the world with the destruction of the 'Holyland'. Mexico, the American Southwest and (hopefully) Texas. Good bye to the Narco-terrorists and corrupt Mexican officials and Texas. And finally Indonesia. But they missed Canada. That's OK, Tom Servo's got em. Just kidding, I rather like the Canadians and their nation, I think that there's a federal law though that requires me to poke fun at them annually or face prison time. Sorry Canuks.

The coolest thing about the movie is that they built a full sized replica of 60% of Stonehenge in the Canadian countryside rather than going for straight up CGI effects. I so much prefer practical visual effects over those generated by a computer. They give the world that the filmmakers are trying to create some substance. And the Stonehenge recreation looked fairly impressive on screen, especially for a low-budget made for TV movie. Amazing what you can accomplish with Styrofoam!

So they covered aliens and Stonehenge represented. But what about Atlantis? I feel that this film owes it to us to explore the Atlantis connection in all of this. Oh well, maybe in the sequel. To think, the bastards shot down my Mutant Killer Space Monkey idea.

The best part of the movie, after the Stonehenge in Styrofoam set, was the behind the scenes interviews with the actors trying to explain the characters and what the movies were all about. I get the feeling that the star didn't think through accepting the part, as he expressed several 'oh really?' moments. Watch it. And if your head doesn't explode, then thank me.

My question is: Why will SyFy put on this poorly made low budget schlock when they could have The Dead Gentlemen's work. TV execs are idiots.