Archive for the ‘pop-culture’ Category

Thoughts and lessons learned while reading “Bangs & Whimpers: Stories about the end of the world” edited by James Frenkel.

Warning: Spoiler Alerts!  So don’t get all nasty, I gave you a warning.  I summarize the basic premise of some of the stories to help me remember their points.  You have been warned. SPOILER ALERTS BELOW!

The Nine Billion Names of God by Arthur C. Clarke:  Just because lone self-proclaimed wise men are on the top of a mountain in the middle of the Himalayas doesn’t mean that they actually know what they are talking about.  Even if they have done it for centuries.   Also, who would sign up for the apocalypse?  Why would one ask God to quit?  Mr. Clarke, no surprise here, gives a solid plausible explanation to these questions.

Killing the Morrow by Robert Reed :  One man trusts his gut when all around him, including himself, falls to mind control. Aliens attack my osmosis.

We Can Get Them for you Wholesale by Neil Gaiman:  I enjoyed watching Gaiman lets his sense of dark comedy flow free. In his graphic novels, I am use to him getting more burdened down with obscurity.  A vain man  unknowingly hires other-being mercenaries to kill us all.

Not with a Bang by Howard Fast:  A wonderfully comic piece of how one sensible man reacts when the sun gets dramatically snuffed out like a candle.

Lost and Found by Connie Willis :Explains why it would be bad if the Holy Grail had been in Russia during the 1950’s.

The Wind and the Rain by Robert Silverber:  I really like the narrator’s angle to a common warning.  Think Inconvinet truth with the cold amusement of a perspective millions of years later.

Expendable by Philip K Dick: What a wonderful imagination on that man.  Would the spiders and the ants and the feral cats mourn our passing?

Finis by Frank L. Pollack:  The world burns quickly and two people kiss.

A Guide to Virtual Death by J.G. Ballard: More of a warning than a record of Humanity’s willingness to create their own end.

Emissary from a Green and Yellow World by Robert Sheckley: I really liked this one.  A wonderful comedic commentary of what makes Humans so wonderful and horrible at the same time.

The Portable Phonograph by Walter Van Tilburg Clark: Once we are barely holding on, living in caves, we will lament for the  beautiful things once-made my man.  Duh.

Fermi and Frost by Frederik Pohl: How the shit would play out in Iceland.  Well thought out scenario.  Good example of how to logically think out a world.

Ultimate Construction by C.C. Shackleton: At 2 pages long, the definition of how to switch-it up at the end.  Sandcastles made of sand might not be a bad idea when we know everything is going to melt anyway.

The Manhattan Phone Book (abridged) by James Tiptee Jr:  Lame.  It turns out to be a lecture to the reader on how the apocalypse won’t really be that fun, because, you know, of all the death also you, the reader, will probably die. WHATEVVVVER!!!!

The Man who Walked Home by James Thurber: I did not understand half of what was happening, but a wonderful story of the birth of faith and ghosts in the machines of science.

Interview with a Lemming by James Thurber: Great example of how to write a short, very short, story that is meant to only set up the end.  Makes you question the role of basic assumptions and how they lead to different logics.

The Last Question by Issac Asimov:  The end is very far out indeed.   Very very very far out.  Like a billion years far out.  Who else better to pull that off but the master?

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I spent the last three days at the Phoenix Comic-Con for both fun and research. I was surprised there were so few direct references to the Apocalypse. None of the panel discussions centered around the end times, one was about dystopian futures, and while that is related one does not need an armageddon to imagine a future gone horribly wrong. I did see Max Brooks speak, and that was awesome. I found it humourous that he does not like Zombie walks. Zombies scare him.

Pity Bill Dee Williams. The first question from the audience he got was “Do people ever give you grieve for the actions of Lando Calrissian, not realizing that you are not actually Lando?” Billy Dee told two stories on that vein, one involving his daughters classmates pointing at him in the schoolyard.

The very next question came from a 12-year-old, the child stretching to reach the microphone asked, “Why did you betray Hans Solo?”

I think I learned a little bit about bravery from watching than man speak.

I added two more songs for the Post-Apocalypse playlist.

Higher Ground by Stevie Wonder

Tuesday’s Gone by Lynyrd Skynyrd

Neil Strauss has already wandered deep down the rabbit hole I am currently exploring.  Many of the same conclusions I am reaching (for example how we are more likely to help rather than hurt each other when the SHTF)  are chapters in his book, Emergency: This Book will save your life.  While I have been exploring what one would need to know when society crumbles for the last 4 months, he spent 3 years doing this and wrote a book when he was finished.

If one is looking for a practical “How to guide” for surviving the end of the days then this book is not for you, perhaps How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times is a better choice for that.   But if one is looking for a journal of how goes about learning how to prepare or one wants to reflect on the lessons learned while prepping then this is a book worth reading.

Since reading it I have caught myself a couple of times thinking when blogging “Is this my observation or Strauss’s?”    He killed a goat, learned how to make a knife, was instructed on how to respond to a disaster, cooked a fish and survived a wet night in the woods.  However, these things he did are not as valuable to the reader as his reflections of what conclusions one reaches when one does these things.  For that reason, if nothing else, it is worth reading.

In the meantime, I am going to take a least one of his specific recommendations, which is to take a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) class.

Between the trip to NYC last week and participating in the Phoenix Fringe Festival for the next two weekends I have been a little light on the postings. 

Ernesto Moncada wrote and is directing the Arcana Collective in an experimental theatre performance that “embarks you on a captivating journey through underground ceremonies and shadowy thresholds.”  Ernesto wrote into the piece a character named “Apocalypse Man.”  Guess who he had in mind for the role?  My character shows the audience “why the Apocalypse is just another chaotic epiphany organized by romantic phantoms” whatever that means.

We have 5 performances in the next two weeks and I have been concentrating on remembering my parts. 

In the meantime, how about a video?

Below is Ashley Naftule and Kevin Flanagan doing a bit they did for Space 55’s 7 minutes in heaven show.   It is a relevant video for this post as Ashley is also performing in the Fringe Festival and in the video, Ashley and Kevin perform what is most likely NOT going to be the cause of the Apocalypse.

Most unlikely cause of the apocalypse from son of patter on Vimeo.

but I just added Simply Red‘s version of Holding back the tears to the Songs to listen to during the Apocalypse list.

#1 Brock Samson–  No one, and I mean no one, not Chuck Norris, not Bruce Lee, not John McClane, not even Rambo, can deliver a beat down quite like Brock Samson, bad-ass bodyguard of the Venture brothers.

#2 MacGyver Kind an obvious one, right?  The man could fix a solar panel system, engineer a communication device, and defeat cancer using only duck-tape and other random stuff in the compound.

#3 Andrew Weil We are going to need a doctor who doesn’t rely on modern medicine.  But lordy, this guy is cheesy.  Anybody got a better suggestion?

#4 The Existential Detectives from I Heart Hucklebees The survivors of the Apocalypse are going to have some tough questions about God, the meaning of life, Humanity and why we should even keep going.  Best to have some fast acting philosophers/psychologists to get us through the hard times.

#5 Les Stroud from SurvivorMan –  Brock is our bad-ass.  Mac-Guyer is good for surving in the broken down suburbs but we need help for when we have to flee into the wilderness.  Originally a Canadian who cut his chops in the great cold north, Les Stroud has traveled the world and learned all kinds of tricks.  So no matter how the weather changes after everything changes he will be ready.

#6 Myth busters crew MacGuyer’s back up team.  I figure the more engineers the better.  They also excel in coming up with ingenious ways to figure stuff out.

#7 Thomas Jefferson (Organic Gardening)  I went way back in history, but the man knew how to raise an organic farm off the grid, because you know, he didn’t have a grid.

#8 Kaylee the mechanic from Firefly to keep whatever motors we manage to get up and running to keep running.  She knows how to nurture a tired-old machine to keep working.

#9 The A-Team Mostly for the skills of Hannibal Smith, the man knows how to put a plan together.  We are going to need someone who can lead our tribe through uncertain times.  Who better than the man that could get Murdock and Mr. T to make peace to unite us?

#10 Bob Villa for construction.  The man knows how to fix old houses.  And old houses are most likely to remain standing after the first couple waves of disaster.

#11 Joan Holloway from Mad Men –  She is good at keeping an organized office.  We are all going to have to do lot’s of daily chores.  Who better to manage the tribe’s day-to-day needs of surviving?

#12 Groundskeeper Willie to help out old Thomas Jefferson in the garden.

# 13 Sanjay Gupta the CNN Doctor, is not only a doctor but has seen medicine or the lack of it all over the globe, so he will have an idea of how to get ready before the entire modern-medicine system collapses.