I know most of the library acquisitions in the bunker have been to get us prepared for the coming conflagration, but as we suffer through the death throes of society, I can’t help but think of the need for some humour. Things will be grim. We need laughs.
Of course we need the collected Austen because:
For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors and laugh at them in our turn?
And in close quarters for long periods of time, we will need all the elegant snark we can get:
I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal.
Barbara Pym is a must, too, though her sadly disappointed characters might also be a tad depressing at times. Dorothy Parker without question: mordant wit may be among our few escapes from the gloom. Gaskell‘s Cranford stories for quieter times, when you want to know the ladies have got your back. And Georgette Heyer for when you’ve just finished re-reading all the Austen and can’t bear another dull conversation about cleaning out the air vents.
Bunker Am Dram cannot survive without a production or two of Aphra Behn’s The Rover.
And I must say a special word for my much adored inspiration, the lovely Winifred Watson. If you’ve not read the novel behind the delightful Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day you are in for a treat.
Who are your favourite fun writers? I admit most of mine are, alas, beyond the veil. Got some more modern recommendations?
If you hope to survive the apocalypse, you need good food to fuel you. Preferably, it’s something that’s easy to carry, won’t spoil quickly, doesn’t require refrigeration, and chock-a-block full of nutrients. If it tastes good, too, that’s a BONUS!
For your consideration, I suggest pemmican. It’s easy to prepare, hearty, durable, and delici— no. I’m not going to lie. Once upon a civilized time, I was a vegetarian, and pemmican wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. But here at the end of the world, you can’t be picky. And with a pocketful of pemmican, you know you’ll always have something to stave off the hunger pangs.
Historically, pemmican was made by the Cree people of northern Canada, then adopted by the French fur traders who crossed the vast wilderness in search of beavers.* It was used by Arctic and Antarctica explorers, to feed both humans and dogs, because it’s easy to pack and (if it’s made properly) will keep for decades.
Here’s how you make it:
1. Meat. Take your best beef, moose, venison, bison, elk, whatever red meat you have on hand. Cut off all the fat and slice the meat thinly, then place the strips on drying racks in the full sunshine or over a smoky fire. Dry the strips until they’re so dry, they crack if you bend them. Mmmmm, cracky meat!
2. Grind the meat.** With a mortar and pestle or a meat grinder, turn your strips of dried flesh into a powder. This can take a while.
3. Melt the fat. In a big pot, render down the fat slowly, then strain to remove any bits or chunks.
4. Add berries to the meat dust. If you’re adding any blueberries, saskatoon berries, raspberries, etc. – fresh or dried – to your pemmican, this is where you do it. You can also sprinkle in a bit of salt to taste.
5. Mix Wet and Dry. Stir the powder into the rendered fat. If you want it sweeter, you can also add a bit of honey or maple syrup.
6. Let it set. Form balls with the mixture and let it harden. Once they’re firm, you can put them in an airtight container and keep them in a dark place (like the bottom of your rucksack) and take them out to nibble on when you get hungry. Hmmmm… firm balls in a dark place***….
And that’s about it! Super easy to make, packed with protein. Make sure the ratio of meat to berries to fat is about 1:1:1, and you’ll have yourself a healthy snack that lasts for ages, even if it does look a little bit like a pile of dried bear dung. It’ll give you lots of energy to run from zombies, and it’s easily sharable with friends you meet as you traverse the wastelands.
*not nearly as sexy as it sounds.
** also, not as sexy as it sounds.
*** omg I never realized Canadian cuisine could be so suggestive!
Katemandi here: I can’t say enough about pantries! For the end times you need food. Sure, you might be out hunting in the woods for some critters or foraging in the underbrush for mushrooms and other edibles, but stocking up your pantry ahead of the collapse is just good sense.
Of course you need food that will last a while. Perishables are useless! Think dry dry dry. You’ll be adding water of course in most cases, of course. If you don’t have water — well, honey, I got news for you: you won’t be surviving. So think powders, jerky, dried grains and nuts. Salt! In the medieval and ancient worlds, it was a precious as gold. Not just for flavour but for its preservative qualities.
Which brings me to another point: spices! You don’t have to belong to House Atreides to recognise the importance of spice! You’re going to be eating a lot of bland food that’s been reconstituted. You’ll be grateful for those spices. The good news is that spices keep for a long time if they’re completely dried and well sealed.
Speaking of sealing: have you learned canning yet? The techniques for storing delicious fruit in jams, jellies and preserves is not to be overlooked. You can even can meat, my friend Mary tells me (I got these snaps at her fabulous home at Universal Pathways). The skills are out there: learn them before you need them. You don’t want to poison your crew with poor pantry skills. Be safe, be delicious.
We’ve addressed a number of issues in this series, how to tell if your boyfriend is a cyborg from the future, how to maintain a relationship during the dragonpocalypse etc. Now I want to address how to cope with dating the fragile ego and immense stupidity of an egomaniacal dictator.
If you find yourself the trophy wife of a powerful but fragile ego’d dictator there are some important survival rules.
- Play dumb. The fragile ego does not like to be made to feel stupid and if they control, oh say nuclear codes, it’s a good idea not to make them feel stupid. So for instance, if you come from a country where people usually learn excellent English don’t let on. Speak with lots of accent and f*ck up simple phrases. It’s well established (looking at you Love Actually) that some men adore women with whom they cannot communicate effectively. While the fragile ego may enjoy boasting of your many languages, he doesn’t actually want to be faced with them when his grasp of even the one native to him is limited. So play dumb. Literally if you like, not actually speaking at all is as safe a ploy as any.
- Maintain a ferocious beauty regime. It is hugely important to the fragile ego of your dictator that you be fancied by everyone he knows. He may even encourage crude jokes at your expense. You need a thick skin and flawless makeup to survive this one. Ignore his expanding waistline and thinning hair, you are how he convinces himself he is attractive, not his mirror. It’s entirely possible the thought of engaging in sex with this person will help curb your appetite, it’s not healthy, but it’s a survival mechanism.
- If you have powers similar to those of Regina in Once Upon a Time we recommend removing your heart and locking it in a box somewhere safe. You won’t need it, it’s only going to cause you pain. Stuff your humanity in their too if you can. And some emergency cigarettes.
- Learn from history. If you catch wind of guillotines being erected, or someone mutters something about eating cake, or one of your husbands mad monk advisors is repeatedly assassinated, bundle up the children and flee in the middle of the night, it will not end well.
At this point you may be thinking you are in an abusive relationship. You have to effectively hand over your power and your autonomy, switch off your brain, spout utter nonsense in public while any sanity you have curls up and dies, and to top it all he’s not even pleasant to you in front of his new colleagues. You would be right, these are all hallmarks of an unhealthy at best and likely abusive relationship. If we thought it was safe for you to do so we would urge you to leave. However, if it’s any comfort, when you are the trophy wife of a crazed and childlike despot, the whole country suffers with you. The whole country is in an abusive relationship and it can’t leave either.
NB : The GGSA does not support the guillotining of public officials.
The rebellion has begun and, here in the smoking ruins of democracy, you’ve got an opinion to share. Standing in the plaza below the Palace of the Overlords, you need the Mighty Ones to know you’re still here, fighting for freedom.
Well, I’m here to give you a few tips on how to create a great sign to communicate your message, because honestly, there’s nothing sadder than a fierce message that can’t be read because the banner is utter shit. Grab your art supplies, friends. We’re going to make a sign.
Know your message. Get it tight. You want people to be able to read your sign and understand your meaning in under five seconds. Streamline your choice of words — don’t use ten words if three will do. Enjoy the power of simple language.
If you’ve tried to simplify your message but it’s just too complex, that’s okay, you have two choices:
(1) accept that your message might not reach the masses, but it will still reach those who are willing to invest the time to read it, and that’s okay, or
(2) focus your message to one or two points, which viewers will understand even if it’s not as nuanced as you’d like.
This is your sign, so it’s up to you. Personally, I like short and catchy phrases that spark a dialogue, sprinkled with a little bit of humour. There’s power in conversation and in laughter.
Know your colours. Now that you have your message, you need to make sure people can read it from a distance. Which is easier to see: black marker on a piece of brown cardboard, or white letters on a black background? Go for high contrast, big letters, and bold design. You don’t have to resign yourself to black-and-white, though… contrasting colours can really make your words POP. For example, you can try:
Purple background + Yellow letters
Blue background + Orange letters
Green background + Red letters
Be bold. Don’t be shy, supersize is your friend! Make those words BIG. Blocky letters are great to read from a distance, and you want to be heard for miles.
For Pete’s sake, spell correctly. It only hurts your message if it’s peppered with spelling errors. You’re smart and intelligent and well-read, right? Of course you are. That’s why you’re here, fighting injustice at the end of the world.
Use the right tools. Don’t use pencil crayons, watercolour paint, or crayons — they aren’t opaque and they won’t leave enough colour on the paper to be highly visible. Instead, use acrylic paint or waterproof pens, like Sharpies.* These won’t run if the weather turns, and they’ll stay bright and strong. (FYI – Tempera paint is bright and bold and cheap, but it isn’t waterproof, so if you’re hit with a bit of rain or fog, your sign will run.) Make sure your paper is hefty, too — poster board works well, as does box cardboard or a light press board. Make sure you don’t use anything too heavy; you’ll want to be able to carry it for hours without hurting your shoulders.
Hold it high and share it. It’s great that you’ve made a stunning sign to broadcast your message, but take pictures and share them on social media, too. Twitter the shit out of that sign. Tell the world how you feel, because we’re all in this together, and your role in the resistance is integral.
Now get out there! Shout, sing, stay arms-length from the zombies, and make awesome art for a better world.
PS These photos came from 33 Signs from the Womens March, but I want to see your signs, too! Post and share!
Mæg ic be me sylfum I can make a true song
soðgied wrecan, about me myself,
siþas secgan, tell my travels,
hu ic geswincdagum how I often endured
earfoðhwile days of struggle,
oft þrowade, troublesome times,
bitre breostceare [how I] have suffered
gebiden hæbbe grim sorrow at heart
How do we survive the days of struggle? How can we cope with enemies who besiege us from every side? The relentless assault is their primary weapon.
It wears us down.
It helps to remember important things: They’re on the wrong side of history. The majority of people are against them. Those who profit from fear have rigged the rules to win the game — they couldn’t win on merit alone. So they gerrymander districts, campaign on lies and when all else fails, control the media.
Make no mistake: they want you to give up.
What kills is letting it rule you. Fight, be determined but be joyful whenever you can. Concentrate on what you can affect. Look at the grand sweep of history: this is the last gasp of the troglodytes. Yes, they might kill us. I remember the Reagan years and all the beautiful people who died. But they will NOT have my joy even if they kill me. I will laugh in their faces when they do.
I like to think that the end of the world will come, not with a bang, but with bird song.
You’ll be walking along, doing your own thing, when you’ll notice that a creeping quiet has descended upon you. Where’s the dull roar of distant traffic? Where’s the thrumming of planes in the sky? When did all the clatter stop?
You’ll look up from your little slice of life and notice you are – quite suddenly – alone in a great empty world, with only the soft sparrow-chirping in the treetops to comfort you.
Apocalypses come and go, but there will always be people needed to survive. You see, if no one survives an apocalypse, how do we know we’ve had one? I mean, until we get *clever*, and start digging around in the dirt for things, uncovering evidence and all that… Which is great, if the apocalypse you’re looking into is off the back of a huge chunk of frozen space metal hurtling into the planet, causing earth-wide devastation…
Times have moved on since then.
I rather suspect that more recent apocalypses have gotten a bit more sneaky in their approach…
Enter stage left.
A pink haired, doc marten wearing, emergency go bag carrying gal walks into view. You get am immediate sense that she doesn’t take kindly to crap, and has a veteran look about her. Oh yes. Definitely been around the block a couple of times and seen some things, this one. Her eyes expertly rove around the room, mentally checking off a list, though you aren’t quite sure what that list is; good points for duck and cover, who’d be easiest to kill, or simply what shopping is needed to make dinner; in any case, it’s a little unsettling.
After a few moments, she seems to have made up her mind, and the boots come off, and she makes a cubby in the corner of the room, still watching, and waiting on the coming storm….
Well as the apocalypse may be well and truly on us, it is worthwhile learning how to join together with like minded souls, so you can all pull together and put the world back together again. And in this day and age it’ll have to be over the internet (hopefully the electricity will stay on for a bit longer or we’re doomed). So today I am learning how those magic words get from my keyboard to the world wide web and putting out a huge hello to those original members of the GGSA, and I’m saying I’m here for the fight (and the cake, well mainly for the cake).