Category Archives: Books & Movies
What to do when the movies come true ~
Jonathan Glazer, 15 April 2016
I am going to take a slight departure with this installment and move in a different direction for the moment. Of course we must always keep our eyes open for the first sign of the dead rising with a taste for human flesh. But for now I want to talk about a more immediate threat. This one is very real and in the news daily. I am talking about the invasion of the United States by a human hostile enemy.
The United States Armed forces have always been accused of preparing to fight the next war by training to fight the last war. As Santayana is often paraphrased “Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it”, the lessons of prior conflicts must be studied, but that does not mean we will be fighting the same war over again. The United States Military command still teaches amphibious assaults, as executed on the beaches of Normandy, Sicily and the Pacific Theater of Operations throughout World War II. The reality is that while we do land troops in this fashion, such as in Somalia and a few other engagements, such landings are always unopposed. This is because technology has rendered the survivability of a true hostile amphibious landing to be not acceptable. Surface to shore missiles and man portable rockets along with increasingly sophisticated targeting systems mean that landing craft will be an endangered species by the time they reach a contested beachhead.
What to do when you can’t run for things when you run out of things ~
Jonathan Glazer, 11 March 2016
“Do we have any advil left?” Running out of stuff today is a minor inconvenience. I have been known to dash out of the house 3 or 4 different times over the course of a day to get forgotten, depleted or lost items needed right away. Fortunately for me, I live within 5 minutes of a couple of big box stores, not to mention a choice of super markets and major chain pharmacies. What happens when the lights are out, the undead roam the earth and every other person with a pulse is competing with you for everything? Your biggest problem won’t be sneaking 13 items in the 12-items-or-less aisle. Scrounging will be an extremely valuable skill in the days when there is no more civilization. Even the best prepper will forget something, not anticipate the need for something that becomes invaluable or just plain run out of necessary items. Perhaps a badger will sneak in your shed and eat your spare fuel line for your generator just before you need it most. Where do you get a new one?
Walmart may seem to have everything in stock now, but once all goes to hell in a handbasket, your neighbors will likely forget their manners and chaos will ensue. A day or so after the big one hits, shelves will be picked clean quickly. In the days before the last two hurricanes here in the Northeast, things like batteries, flashlights and generators disappeared. Even a heavy storm makes people buy eggs, milk and break like there is a French toast bakeoff the next day. Once it is clear there are no consequences, people stop waiting in line and just take what they need. There are videos of the stores in New Orleans following hurricane Katrina and they were enough to give any retail manager nightmares. The scenes in many zombie movies of survivors entering supermarkets to find what they needed are not likely to happen. Markets, big box stores and discount clubs will look like empty warehouses with scattered debris everywhere. The only exception might be if an armed group takes over one of these centers of consumerism as a means of safeguarding the contents and using them until the cavalry arrives. In that case, you are looking at a hell of a fight to gain entry and get your hands on some toilet paper and baby wipes.
Airboy reviews Jim Butcher’s Steampunk series opener ~
Avery Abernethy, 22 February 2016
The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher is an action packed, steampunk influenced start to a new series. The population inhabits “spires” which are huge cities on large towers above the surface of the planet. The surface world is too dangerous for ordinary people but contains valuable resources and vicious animal life.
The major power technology are crystals. Tiny crystals provide light and minor power. Major crystals which are almost impossible to create can power large airships. Envision wooden Man-O-War flying through the air with cannons and inefficient power lasers. Hand weapons are hand sized power crystals and sabers. There are strange creatures, rare and unbalanced magic users who understand how crystals work, and daring traders, naval fleets and privateers flying the skies.
the 1840s! ~
Jonathan Glazer, 18 February 2016
One of my favorite slogans found on an internet meme states “The hardest part about a Zombie Apocalypse is pretending not to be excited”. I know several people who are stockpiling weapons and ammo because they truly believe it will happen and they need to be ready.
The problem is that the ZA is not just a shooting party where you get to continue your everyday life, but shoot zombies instead of going to work. This is the proverbial crap on the fan situation. In the original move Dawn of The Dead, there was a scene where the local rednecks were described as having a good time while they were shown having cookouts and stopping to snipe at ghouls unlucky to approach across an open field. It won’t really be like that. Life will change for everyone (if it even continues) forever. TEOTWAWKI (The End of the World as We Know It) will become a reality.
There will be exceptions. People who truly live off the grid in remote areas and provide for all of their own food probably will not see a huge change, other than having to take more head shots than in the past. But for the rest of us, life will not be so rosy. Eventually, the power grid will fail. That is because the power plants and transmission facilities required to distribute the electricity around the continent need to be maintained. And the people responsible for said maintenance will be eaten. The power shuts down which means no refrigeration, air conditioning, internet, cell phones, land lines, lights, microwaves or iPads.
Will you know it when you see it? ~
Jonathan Glazer, 22 January 2016
We envision ourselves in crisis acting in certain ways. Some of us emblazon ourselves with logos on our chests and capes, despite the impracticality of capes being settled by The Incredibles. Others have a more realistic understanding of how we act under fire and identify which rock we will use for shelter when the poop hits the radial cooling device. In reality, the intellectual part of our brains cannot comprehend how our emotional side will react once the hounds of hell are unleashed.
When we perceive a fight or flight situation to be upon us, our adrenal glands situated on top of our kidneys squirt adrenaline into the blood stream. This causes a cascade of hormonal and other physical changes designed to enhance our ability to either beat the living feces out of someone or grow wings and fly away from them. Our heart rate, respiration, circulation patterns, muscle response and thought patterns all work in harmony to bring out the inner caveman (or woman) in all of us.
Unless you are actually in the moment, you will have no way of knowing what our Incredible Hulk looks, sounds or smells like. Once you have been in a number of those situations, you begin to recognize the consistent patterns that are a part of this process. Seasoned combat veterans know what happens when the lead flies. Over time, they gain control over the chaos. Guys who have been in the field too long have been known to fall asleep during firefights. This is because adrenaline is like heroin in that we build up a tolerance to it. When you spend a lot of time in crisis mode drinking the hormone like Gatorade, it eventually has less of an impact. The result is Robert Duvall as Colonel Kilgore in Apocalypse Now not even noticing mortar shells exploding nearby and ordering his men to surf amidst a hot combat operation.
Will you know it when you see it? ~
Jonathan Glazer, 22 January 2015
Most discussion of preparations for the Zombie Apocalypse and activities undertaken during it ignore an important element: The start. At what point do you go from your comfortable position in society as a part of an economy and a civilization to a defensive operator acting in ways to secure your and your family’s safety? It is easy enough to answer that question with “when I perceive a threat”. But what is the trigger that makes you openly carry a firearm, create a defensive perimeter (or perhaps move to a better position) and ready yourself to take a life (or stop the advance of the undead)? There won’t be a message from the emergency broadcasting system alerting you to the need to act like you are Mad Max. The news may initially report craziness afoot, but at a certain point, the authorities will put the lid on really bad news and even the media will not be reporting what is truly happening. If you ever have the chance to talk to Gulf Coast residents about what happened immediately following hurricane Katrina, they will tell you that they were in the dark, figuratively and literally for a long time.
An adventure yarn of another time and place, but grounded in familiar themes that take the reader on an an enjoyable ride through intrigue and aerial derring-do.
Brant Guillory, 18 December 2015
Crosswind is Steve Rzasa’s first book about the Sark brothers, Winchell and Copernicus. Winchell is a journalist at a small newspaper, and his brother is a pilot, in the frontier town of Perch.
The brothers stumble into an intrigue filled plot involving a larger town to their South known as Trestleway.
While Cope is the adventurous brother, alternating between stunt pilot antics in the air and ladies man smoothness on the ground, Winch is the conservative family man with a wife and children. The brothers stumble upon the mystery when Cope flies his brother out to the wreck of another aircraft to take pictures and write a story for the newspaper. I rather unfriendly gentleman masquerading as a local rancher tries to steal a coded message that the brothers discover in the aircraft wreckage. It turns out this man is from Trestleway, and the coded message is a warning of an impending “invasion” that was being flown in by the nephew of Perch’s mayor-general.
The brothers are sent to investigate, and report back to home. Along the way, they discover a variety of intrigue, and a few interesting technical – and mystical – tricks up Trestleway’s sleeves.
||: Hack, slash, poke, repeat :|| ~
Jonathan Glazer, 20 November 2015
Swoosh! And the Katana liberates the Zombie’s heads, in quick succession from the tyranny of being attached to their rotting bodies. Andrea was saved from the horror of being eaten alive after losing her balance and falling to the forest ground. This was how the character of Michonne was introduced to the story of The Walking Dead. The Samurai sword carries high regard as a Zombie killing melee weapon. Is this adulation warranted? Arguments can be made for both sides of that controversy. As an active practitioner of the Japanese Sword Arts (JSA), I have my own opinions that I feel are rooted in reality. Most will agree that edged weapons are an essential tool for every toolbox following the ZA. They are silent, do not need reloading and are relatively free from excessive regulation. That last point is quite subjective as many bladed weapons are restricted in some areas. The UK has severely curtailed possession of what they deem to be “offensive” blades, which include swords and the US has a federal ban on switchblades, although automatic knives are in common use despite this ban. We will touch on these points momentarily.