Animals of Canada

ONE: I’ve started a podcast for 2017, and I hope you’ll join me over at Animals of Canada for some sweet & savoury & salty stories, straight into your ears.

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TWO: I’m writing articles now-and-again for the Girl’s Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse, so pop over there from time to time to brush up on your end-of-the-world skills. You’ll find me under codename “Skookum”.

THREE: I have a short story included in Hic Dragones’ upcoming anthology, Nothing, and from the looks of things, it’s going to be a wonderful collection. “Bleak and disturbing tales”… sign me up! 🙂

FOUR: We’ve been busy over at Fox&Bee filming promotional and educational work for our clients, but the blizzard and power outages gave us a little time to slow down, write by candle light, and check out how well the camera films in low light. We hope you’re having a wonderful and creative winter!

The Bad News.

In very small type, the Telegraph tells us today that “Earth has entered sixth mass extinction, warns scientists” and, while many things of huge importance are happening all around the world, I can’t help but feel this little snippet of news warrants more capitalization, a bolder font, and perhaps a higher placement on the front page. I’m sorry, but HOLY SHIT. What does it take for human beings to finally shake off the blinders and realize we’re really fucking things up?

I get that we don’t live very long, and that we really don’t know what happens to us after we die. But does that really excuse us of giving a damn about the quality of life we’re leaving for future generations? And not just of our descendants, but the animals and plants and fungi and critters that share this planet with us, too?

I need a drink. Preferably something very stiff, with a twist of lemon. And then, once I’ve shaken off the hangover, I need to consume less, recycle more, and goddammit, get mad & involved.

😡

Here's a quagga. They used to roam the grasslands of South Africa. They don't anymore.

Here’s a quagga. They used to roam the grasslands of South Africa. They don’t anymore. DAMN. 

Craft Corner: Knitting for Fun and Survival

Whether you’re using the finest angora wool or repurposing the yarn from a sweater taken off the back of a dead comrade, knitting is a fun, relaxing way to create useful items that can help you survive the Apocalypse. Here are a few ideas of items you can make while wiling away the lonely hours by a campfire:

Fingerless Gloves – These fashion accessories are a great way to keep your hands warm while leaving your fingers free to pull the trigger. They’re the perfect accessory for the distopian fashion statement you’re making; they’re easy to complete, feel cozy, and look rugged. Make them sassy by adding a fringe, decorating them with beads, or interweaving your stitches with the bleached knucklebones of your enemies.

Scarves – Keep your neck warm and safe from zombie bites with a thick, plush scarf! You’ll really appreciate the versitility of a scarf when you need a rope to scurry down a concrete wall, and they’re the perfect choice when stoppering a door to keep out deadly gases. Handy hint: choose dark colours, which hide blood stains better.

Satchels – It’s true, a girl can never have enough purses, and you can knit your own to carry everything from make-up and books to ammunition and wrenches.

Blankets – Why stick with yarn? Slice plastic bags into strips and knit them into a strong, lightweight blanket that will provide warmth and protection from rain; so handy on stormy nights when you’re huddled under the ruins of a bridge! And, because plastic never degrades, your blanket will last 1000 years, even after a nuclear holocaust. Your great-great grandchildren will appreciate this heirloom piece as they struggle to survive another merciless winter.

I suggest always taking your knitting with you. Knitting helps increase your manual dexterity, and your crafts can be cherished gifts for warlords and nomadic traders you might meet in your travels. Not only will you appreciate the hobby when you need a quiet moment to unwind, but knitting needles make fantastic weapons. I suggest a size 4 straight needle for puncturing the neck of a maurading wolf-beast, while a thinner size 12 works well for jabbing a zombie in the eye.

 

Happy knitting!

Get To Know Your New Best Friends

One of the less-considered aspects of life at the End of the World is the new little friends you’ll make, the ones who are closest to you, that are always by your side. And on your head. And infesting your armpits.

That’s right, I’m talking parasites. As we all know, parasites won’t waste their time on a dead body and prefer the tasty, warm flesh of a healthy human being. So as long as you have parasites, you know you’re doing all right!

Let’s get to know them a little better, shall we?

Lively Louse: The humble louse can not survive for long once removed from its host, so your lice just can’t live with out you — don’t you feel special! Lice scavenge off your dead skin, fat secretions and blood, and can be found anywhere from the top of your head to the soles of your feet. There will be more female lice than male on your body — girl power! — and the eggs, called ‘nits’, are attached to your hair with a special type of saliva.

Are you scratching yet?

Scrumptious scabies: This skin condition gets its name from the Latin verb scabere, “to scratch”, but could also have been called obscenus, which is Latin for “yucky”. It is caused by a tiny parasite, the mite Sarcoptes scabiei, which sounds much more regal than it really is. The mite burrows under the skin, poops, and its fecal matter causes intense allergic itching. The mites can travel from host to host on objects, but are most likely to be passed by direct skin contact; they just love snuggling!

Terrific tapeworms: The humble tapeworm lives in the bodies of various animals as juveniles, then moves into the digestive tract of larger vertebrates as adults – if you’ve been munching on under-prepared meats, you likely have one of these little fellows as a tenant. There are over a thousand species of tapeworm, and some can grow to lengths of over 100 ft. We’ve all heard that having a tapeworm will make you lose weight, but that isn’t true. Tapeworms do not consume enough of your digested food to impact your nutritional needs – in fact, your body is more likely to retain water in response to the parasite’s presence. Feeling a little bloated? Blame your tapeworm!

Lovely Leeches: these little segmented worms are hermaphrodites and have two suckers, one at each end. (There’s a joke in there, but I’ll leave your naughty imagination to make it.) Most leeches live in freshwater environments, so you’re most likely to encounter them while wading chest-deep through a swamp, holding your meager possessions over your head. They are predominantly blood suckers; look for undulating dark slimy worms clinging hungrily to your skin. The medical community has been using leeches for centuries, starting in ancient India and Greece, so if it makes you feel any better, you can tell yourself with pride that you now have something in common with Plato as you peel these little suckers off.

In Conclusion: They may be pesky and itchy and give you ugly red patches on your skin, but these parasites are a fact of life in a place where running water is scarce, antibiotics are rare, and ‘kitchen hygiene’ means wiping the gore off your hands before opening a can of beans. As the old saying goes, ‘There ain’t no bloodsuckin’ vermin on a bloodless zombie’, so celebrate your little friends – they mean you’re still alive and kicking!

Kick-ass Mothers

At the end of the world, it might be a good idea to take along your mom. As anyone who’s come face-to-face with a mama bear knows, there’s nothing quite so focused, driven, and deadly as a mother protecting her offspring. A few examples include:

Sarah Connor – Sarah Connor takes motherhood to a whole new level – one that includes semi-automatic machine guns, grenades, and biceps that can crack nuts (and I don’t mean the kind that grow on trees). In Terminator, she’s a timid, fearful woman who exemplifies the archetype of the Maiden, but in Terminator 2, she’s grown into a fierce, resilient and resourceful warrior. Protecting her son is Sarah Connor’s primary reason for being; her mission consumes her, separates her from her sanity, and makes us want to watch more.

Ellen Ripley – in Alien and Aliens, the theme of motherhood appears again and again, but a pivotal scene cut from Aliens revealed that Ripley had a daughter whom she lost. To quote Entertainment Weekly:

“Weaver had been bitterly disappointed by her experience with Alien’s first sequel, Aliens, after Fox cut two minutes of footage she considered crucial to Ripley’s relationship with the space orphan Newt.

”I think (Aliens director) Jim Cameron is sort of upset with himself that he let that happen,” she says. ”It was a little scene after I woke up. I’m sitting in this fake patio, and Paul Reiser comes in and says, ‘I didn’t want to tell you before, but your daughter died two years ago, and this is all I have left of her.”’ Reiser’s character then handed Ripley a picture of the daughter she’d left at age 10, who had become an elderly woman during her mother’s space travels. (The photo was actually of Weaver’s own mother.) ”I based her whole trauma on the fact that she’d lost her family. She’d paid horribly for her success in surviving the alien.”

The grief that Ripley carries catapults her into protecting Newt, who then calls Ripley ‘Mommy’ at the end of the movie. The penultimate battle of Aliens – between Ripley and the Alien Queen — is essentially two mothers, squaring off and protecting their children. WATCH OUT!

The Bride – while not exactly apocalyptic, Kill Bill 1 & 2 gives us The Bride, a mother on a mission: to exact revenge on those who have made her life hell. She succeeds in her quest, and discovers that her daughter (whom she presumed was dead) is still very much alive. The movies conclude with the Bride and her daughter laughing and leaving to start a new life: freed from the bonds of her vengeance, the Bride can construct a happier life as the archetype of the Mother, no longer needing to identify herself with the archetype of the Killer.

Boudica – what list of fierce moms would be complete without a nod to Boudica? While the other mothers on this list are characters of fiction, Boudica was born in approximately 25 AD, a time when the armies of Rome had invaded the British Isles and were destroying the Celtic way of life. When Boudica’s husband died, she was whipped and her daughters, raped – and in reply, she raised a massive army, set fire to cities, and almost drove Roman forces from Britain. An estimate 80,000 people perished. Even when her defeat was imminent, she did not relent, but fled; some sources say she killed herself so that she wouldn’t be captured and taken to Rome for display.

Lesson of the day: never underestimate the power of Mom.

Survival Shelter Survival Tips

Here’s the situation.

The end is finally here. The world as we know it is coming to an abrupt conclusion. I don’t know the reason. Take your pick: zombies, disease, meteor, whatever. Doesn’t matter.

What DOES matter is that you’ve been fortunate enough to be given space in a survival shelter. You’ve taken refuge in the underground fortress, the doors have been bolted, and the whole thing has been hermetically sealed. Outside, storms rain fire upon the land and the seas are boiling, but inside the shelter, you and 899 strangers are able to wait out the blasts, snug as bugs in rugs.

Wait a second. Eight hundred and ninety-nine strangers? Living in… what… something like 135,000 square feet? Jebus, that’s only 150 square feet for each of us! You can’t even take a city bus without getting frustrated at the smelly old man sitting too close to you, and the woman with the screeching baby, and the drunk teenager vomiting in the back seat. Crap! How long are you stuck in here?!?!

FIVE FREAKING YEARS?!?!

Okay, so a few ground rules will have to be established. It’s the only way we can insure we’ll all make it through. Plus, it’ll be hard to repopulate the planet if, upon release, every person flees from the crowd, desperate for solitude, and no one wants to speak to each other again, never mind have sweet sweet apocalypse nookie and make babies.

Suggestions for Surviving the Shelter Experience

(1) Farting in closed spaces is now culturally accepted, considering everywhere you go is a closed space. Get used to the funky smells of your neighbour’s gut microbiota, especially after bean night.

(2) The ugly carpet is only going to look uglier as time passes, but once you go insane, you won’t care about the decor, so that’s something to look forward to.

(3) The people who live in the room next to you? The ones who are coping with stress through copious amounts of rutting, even though a mere curtain separates you? When they reach orgasm, I bet they’d love to hear you scream along. That’d be fun!

(4) Get a few people together and start an amateur dramatic society, then act out your favourite scenes from thematically-relevant movies like ‘Apocalypse Now’, ‘Road Warrior’, ’28 Days Later’ or ‘Armageddon’. Shake it up by making them musicals.

(5) It’s okay to pick your nose and eat it, but don’t expect any kisses.

(6) Water will be strictly rationed so showers are no longer an option, but it’s easier to stomach the stench of body odour if everyone pretends its the newest fragrance from Gucci.

(7) Only flush toilet paper down the toilets. Please please please remember this rule, now more than ever.

(8) That woman with the annoying hyena laugh? The one you hear late at night, echoing through the halls? I hate to break it to you, but that’s actually you. Doesn’t the carpet look intriguing tonight?

 

Note: I wrote this post, and the next few blog posts, for a long-ago website called ‘The Girl’s Guide to the Apocalypse’. This site led into an anthology called ‘The Girl at the End of the World’, which is coming out in July from Fox Spirit books. I’m re-posting my end-times blog posts here, because they’re lots of fun and I’m particularly proud of them. I’m looking forward to sharing more info with you about the upcoming anthology, which is a thing of post-armegeddon beauty.