7 Mar

Could we really face the idea of an apocalypse without coffee?

coffee-1030971_640For most of us who drink it, coffee is one of those got-to-have-it necessities. Even if you don’t personally drink coffee, there is no denying the ubiquitousness of its appeal.

In the midst of an apocalypse, coffee (or the lack thereof) would present its own unique problem. In the United States, unless you live in Hawaii, you certainly can’t grow it. Most of the coffee we drink comes from South America. In the 1950s sci-fi classic, Alas, Babylon, the characters quickly run out of coffee. Most modern preppers see coffee as an essential part of their food storage plan, both for consumption and for trade.

But what about making it? I started thinking about that the other day when I ran across an article on How to make coffee when you have no coffee maker. Okay, raise your hand if you have ever used a paper towel for a coffee filter….

These days, most of us rely on our Keurig or Mr. Coffee coffee makers. many of these require special K cups, filters, and of course, electricity. Even if were not in the midst of the zombie apocalypse, there are all kinds of power outages and other situations where we might need an alternate solution. I once had a coffee pot break when it was too late at night to go out for a new one for the next morning. So how do we make coffee in a scenario where those tools are not available to us?

One: Include a non-electric method of making coffee in your emergency preps. We used to have frequent power outages in our area. I always kept several stovetop coffee pots on hand. I have used everything from old-fashioned metal percolators to glass ones to Granite Ware pots designed for camping. They all work. Even a French press will do during power outage.

Two: Include a method to make individual cups of coffee. It’s less wasteful and generally faster to use. I keep an individual coffee filter holder that fits over a cup or a mug on hand to make a single cup of drip coffee. Most of these either use paper filters (paper filters should be part of your preps anyway) or you can purchase a permanent mesh filter. (I use both.)

Three: Add instant coffee to the food preps. While it may not taste as good as the real thing, having instant coffee on hand can be a lifesaver, especially in situations where your ability to heat water to high temperatures is limited.

Four: Don’t forget the extras! Nondairy creamer, sugar, and sweetener make a big difference if you don’t drink your coffee black. The same goes for tea and cocoa.

How about you? Do you have a contingency plan for coffee?

21 Feb

Pride, prejudice and the mutation of zombies from Caribbean slaves to flesh-eaters

Victoria Anderson, Cardiff University

When George Romero created what is now recognised as the first modern zombie flick in 1968, he hadn’t imagined his Night of the Living Dead zombies as – well, as zombies:

To me back then, zombies were those voodoo guys who were given some sort of blowfish cocktail and became slaves. And they weren’t dead so I thought I was doing a brand new thing by raising the dead.

But since then this “new” zombie – the brain-eating, rotting, revivified corpse – has become omnipresent; a pop-culture staple. If our screens are to be believed, the zombie apocalypse is now; even Amazon’s terms of service were updated last week to cover just such a catastrophe – tongue-in-cheek, of course. The Walking Dead’s sixth mid-season premiere is now starting, coinciding with the release of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Putting a zombie spin on a classic novel by Jane Austen might seem like an innovative twist. But it isn’t. In 1943 film director Jacques Tourneur partially based his I Walked With a Zombie on Charlotte Bronte’s 1847 novel Jane Eyre. I Walked With a Zombie, for all its schlock-horror aspirations, is a genuinely haunting piece of film history. But Tourneur’s zombie wasn’t the flesh-eating living dead kind (the kind that, after all, Romero never intended to be zombies). No; his was the original zombie.

True zombie

So what were zombies, originally? The answer lies in the Caribbean. They weren’t endlessly-reproducing, flesh-eating ghouls. Instead, the zombie was the somewhat tragic figure of a human being maintained in a catatonic state – a soulless body – and forced to labour for whoever cast the spell over him or her. In other words, the zombie is – or was – a slave. I always find it troubling that, somewhere along the line, we forgot or refused to acknowledge this and have replaced the suffering slave with the figure of a mindless carnivore – one that reproduces, virus-like, with a bite.

There is no one singular zombie tradition from the Caribbean. The word “zombie” itself has a number of possible origins, with similar words being found all across West Africa – which of course, is precisely where the slaves came from – and meaning anything from “devil” to “spirit” to “Creator God” (Congolese “Nzambi”). There is even a word in the indigenous Caribbean Arawak language – “zemi” – which refers to an “ancestral spirit” and which has also been cited as the etymological source. And with the fluidity that characterises folklore and shifting local traditions, there are different kinds of zombie too, and the word can sometimes be used to suggest a malevolent spirit or ghost, not unlike the locally-terryifing Jamaican “duppy”.

But the most resonant tradition of the zombie is one who has been conjured into a soulless state and forced to labour. Crucially, the zombie has no memory of who he was previously, nor understanding of what he has become, and is whipped and exploited cruelly, and fed only on meagre rations.

Scared not scary

An even earlier rendering of the filmic zombie came in the shape of White Zombie in 1932. Starring veteran horror actor Bela Lugosi, the film largely falls flat but – to me at least – was notable for a single scene set inside a sugar mill. In this scene, slaves – or zombies, we’re not sure – work the mill. Nobody here is staggering about in varying degrees of decomposition or attempting to feast on brains; they simply turn the machinery, around, and around, and around. It’s an uncanny, deadening scene. Are they zombies, or slaves? Either way, they are mindless, dead-but-alive; slaves who do not remember who they were; who do not know their names; who are unconscious; who exist only for exploitation and labour.

Because here’s the thing: in a direct inversion of our now-familiar flesh-eating zombie narrative, the Haitian zombie is not a predator but is afraid of people. His docile, cringing subjection is absolute, but there is one proviso; you must never feed him salt, for if you do, he will remember. He will remember who he is and who he was and everything that has been done to him – and then he will slave no more. I recounted this once to a classroom full of students and one remarked – with great perspicacity – that to taste salt was akin to tasting tears.

We can be pretty sure that the zombie is not a wholly Caribbean invention, but arrived with the slaves from Africa; because we must remember that forms of slavery were systemic within Africa too, although their impact and supporting ideologies shifted dramatically – and devastatingly – once transported west. It might be worth noting that Jane Austen herself lived and wrote during the peak of British abolitionist fervour, which perhaps makes it all the more ironic that zombies should crop up in a version of Pride and Prejudice. But this is not a rant about “cultural appropriation” or “cultural erasure” – although conceivably it could be, either or both – it’s simply a call to memory, which is precisely what the zombie does not have.

It’s a call to memory because the zombie – the actual zombie – reminds us of something very important. It reminds us to remember – who we are, and where we came from, and how we came to be – individually and collectively – especially for those of us whose personal and community histories are caught up in the blanketing fog of cultural amnesia. The zombie reminds us to taste salt.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. Published under a CC by 4.0 license.

15 Oct

Books for Halloween

apocalypse_ZAll Hallow’s Eve is just around the corner! To celebrate, we are already starting to see some Halloween themed book sales. Amazon is starting off with a variety of titles in their $2 Halloween Kindle Book Deals sale.The selection features horror, zombies and some mysteries and thrillers.

In the horror genre, two authors stand out: Richard Laymon and Manuel Loureiro.

Richard Laymon’s works have been praised by prominent writers from within the genre, including Stephen King and Dean Koontz.

Also included in the sale are the books in Spanish writer Manuel Loureiro’s Apocalypse Z  series.

Sale prices are good through October 31, 2015.

Look for more horror and zombie sales as we get closer to Halloween!


28 Dec

Deal of the Day: Walking Dead Books

The Walking Dead novelAmazon has some great prices on e-books today. Included in the offerings for the Bonus Deal of the Day are the first four books in the Walking Dead novel series. priced at $2.99 or less. These are not comics. These are full length novels that go into depth and detail about the origins of some of the characters in the comics and the television series.

Today’s four titles are:

The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor (The Walking Dead Series Book 1)

The Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury (The Walking Dead Series Book 2)

The Walking Dead: The Fall of the Governor: Part One (The Walking Dead Series Book 3)

The Walking Dead: The Fall of the Governor: Part Two (The Walking Dead Series Book 4)

I also found a short story set in the Walking Dead universe: Just Another Day at the Office: A Walking Dead Short (The Walking Dead Series). This one also ties in to the Governor’s story. 🙂

These are great deals for zombie lovers and fans of the series.


13 Feb

Honey, Can You Sniff This? Food Safety in the Apocalypse

can dateBefore we go too far into any recipes, we need to talk about some basic food storage and safety facts. You may not think that it matters, but, believe me, it does. Just think about how scary it would be to try to fight or outrun zombies while doubled over from food poisoning!

Okay, so here’s the situation: You’re in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. That means no new deliveries to the grocery store. No fresh meat, no fresh veggies. No Pea Pod deliveries. No Amazon groceries delivered by UPS. And we are not even talking about whether or not you’ve got power! So unless you live on a totally self–sufficient farm, you are going to have to make do with what you have and what you can scrounge until you’re either rescued by the Army or you can grow your own food….

We’ll discuss our Apocalyptic Pantry lists of what you should keep on hand or pick up from your local ransacked convenience store later. Today, we are going to discuss how to tell if the food you are looking at eating is safe or not.  And the first step to knowing that is understanding how to tell when food was packed and knowing how long it keeps for. That where packaging and expiration codes come in.

It would be so much easier if every food used the same coding system. Unfortunately, they don’t. Some products use the date something was made, some have a sell by or use by date, some a best by date. Some even use a pack date system based on the Julian Calendar.

We’ll discuss in another post whether those dates make sense. The FDA requires water to have an expiration date, even though it doesn’t expire.

WebMD has a good article on codes and expiration dates.  About.com also has a chart. There are also a good number of pages on university web sites like this one from the University of Nebraska. These will tell you all about the differences between dates with terms like sell by, use by, expiration, best by  and so on.  And don’t forget, drugs and medicines have dates too!

In practice, there doesn’t seem to be a consistency to the use of these terms. A loaf of bread may have a sell by or a use by date, depending on the manufacturer.

Now, some of those facts aren’t going to apply to us. Things like put it in the refrigerator immediately when you get home. Or don’t open the refrigerator or freezer when the power goes out. Yeah, right!That doesn’t mean too much if the power never comes back on….

But even in a zombie apocalypse, there are still some basic rules we can apply:

  • Avoid jars, canned goods and bottles with severe dents, bulges and compromised seals. There is no cure for botulism in a zombie apocalypse.
  • Storage conditions count! Extreme heat and extreme cold shorten the shelf life (and compromise the taste!). So do light, moisture and air.
  • Avoid old items that have been opened (See this article about killer pancake mix –the stuff will literally kill you!)

And, most importantly, remember what George Carlin said: “There is no blue food.”