outbreak

GET IN MY HEAD: ZOMBIE NOVELS

So many are preparing to survive as humans through the Zombiepocalypse that we often forget how easy it is to catch a disease, trip and fall, or be caught by surprise. Most of us will be zombies when The Big Z finally happens, so it’s important to prepare for that eventuality.

Fortunately, some writers had the foresight to get us into the minds of the Zombie, so to speak. Here’s a list of novels written from the Undead point of view.

trash1. My Life as a White Trash Zombie, by Diana Rowland

The description on Barnes & Noble.com says: “Teenage delinquent Angel Crawford lives with her redneck father in the swamps of southern Louisiana. She’s a high school dropout, addicted to drugs and alcohol, and has a police record a mile long. But when she’s made into a zombie after a car crash, her addictions disappear, except for her all-consuming need to stay “alive”…”

The book received 4.5 out of 5 stars on the site. Reviews from readers say the book is “Unconventional and Entertaining,” “Excellent new series!” and that they “Really hope there’s a second.”  Only one reviewer gave the book 1 star, but provided no text in their review.

warm2. Warm Bodies, by Isaac Marion

Popularized with a movie version, this book tells a delightful story of romance from the point of view of the undead in love. Per Barns & Noble.com: “R is a young man with an existential crisis—he is a zombie. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams. His ability to connect with the outside world is limited to a few grunted syllables, but his inner life is deep, full of wonder and longing.

After experiencing a teenage boy’s memories while consuming his brain, R makes an unexpected choice that begins a tense, awkward, and stragely sweet relationship with the victim’s human girlfriend. Julie is a blast of color in the otherwise dreary and gray landscape that surrounds R. His choice to protect her will transform not only R, but his fellow Dead, and perhaps their whole lifeless world.

Scary, funny, and surprisingly poignant, Warm Bodies explores what happens when the cold heart of a zombie is tempted by the warmth of human love.”

The book has an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars as well, with 405 5-star reviews! Now that’s a horde!

memoirs3. Memoirs of the Walking Dead: A Story from the Zombie’s Point of View, by Jason McKinney

According to Amazon.com’s description: “Boy and cat lead dull lives. Boy goes to club, gets sick and dies. His cat dies too. That sucks. Boy and cat wake up dead. Zombie boy meets zombie girl. Zombie cat likes zombie girl. Zombies break up and boy joins the Army. Now unlife is even more interesting. Meet Paul Rierson. He’s a zombie; though don’t let that fool you—Paul’s got a pretty big heart considering he doesn’t have a working one. And though he’s new to the whole un-dead experience, there’s no doubt he’s a pretty thoughtful guy. Sure he craves the taste of living flesh, and there’s that whole being hunted on a daily basis thing—zombie-life is no walk in the park—but when Paul meets Tracey Dobbs, a fellow newbie to the un-dead life, he’s smitten. He also comes to realize that in matters of life and death, perhaps being alive is not all it’s cracked up to be. Oh, and one more thing—dead people rule!”

Customers on Amazon gave this book 4 out of 5 stars, saying the book was a fun read and well-told both sides of the Zombie story.

Zombies Do It Raw

raw-beef

Do you plan to become a zombie, but have a hard time with raw meat? There’s a delicious and classic way to get used to the texture and flavor – steak tartare.

Urban legend contends that steak tartare was invented by the Tatar or Tartar people, a group native Eastern Europe and Russia. The tribe spent so much time fighting and traveling on horseback that they didn’t have time to chop up their meat; instead, they put slabs of meat beneath their saddles for easier transit. The combination of spices in the current version were supposedly spices used to cover the flavor of rancid meat and horse sweat.

However, this legend is only urban myth, as it turns out. Steak tartare was invented in the 19th century in France, and served at posh French restaurants with the name steack a l’Americaine. Initially, the dish had tartar sauce or horseradish on the side, and was not served with a raw egg yolk. The name was eventually changed to, simply, steack tartare, which simply means “with tartar sauce.”

Although you could chop up a piece of steak and eat it, the combination of Worchestershire sauce, pepper, onions, and capers makes steak tartare delicious and rich. It’s a great way to get your palate used to the texture and flavor of raw meat, before you become a member of the human-eating undead. Additionally, while most steak tartare recipes call for beef, you can also make it with horse meat, thereby reinacting that scene from the first season of “The Walking Dead.”

"Get the pepper grinder!"
“Get the pepper grinder!”

Here’s a few recipes:

Emeril Lagasse’s Steak Tartare:

Ingredients:
Assorted fresh greens
12 ounces beef tenderloin or sirloin
Worcestershire sauce
Hot pepper sauce
Salt
Black Pepper
2 tablespoons drained capers
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup minced red onion
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
2 eggs
4 slices of white bread, crusts removed, brushed with olive oil and lightly toasted
Extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

Garnish 2 plates with the fresh greens.

Place the beef on a cutting board and finely chop with a very sharp knife. Season to taste with Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, salt and black pepper. Shape the meat into 2 patties of equal size and center each on a plate of fresh greens.

Around each meat patty arrange half of the capers, Dijon mustard, red onion and parsley. Carefully break the 2 eggs, reserving the yolk and half of each shell. Place the yolks in their eggshell cups, then sit an egg cup in the center of each patty. Serve the steak tartare with toast points, olive oil, and hot pepper sauce and Worcestershire sauces on the side.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/steak-tartare-recipe/index.html?oc=linkback

steaktartarClassic Steak Tartare

INGREDIENTS

3 medium oil-packed anchovy fillets (optional, adjust salt if added), rinsed and minced

2 teaspoons brined capers, drained and rinsed

3 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 large egg yolks

10 ounces USDA prime beef tenderloin, cut into small dice, covered, and refrigerated

2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion

2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley leaves

4 teaspoons olive oil

3 dashes hot sauce (such as Tabasco)

4 dashes Worcestershire sauce

3/4 teaspoon crushed chile flakes (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine anchovies (if using), capers, and mustard in a nonreactive bowl. Using a fork or the back of a spoon, mash ingredients until evenly combined; mix in egg yolks.

Use a rubber spatula to fold remaining ingredients into mustard mixture until thoroughly combined. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately with toast points or french fries.

http://www.chow.com/recipes/10983-classic-steak-tartare

Extra-Spicy: Zombie Defense Against Mace

zombiespray

When you become a zombie, it will be very important for you to already have several self-defense tactics under your belt. Preppers will have a variety of melee weapons, as well as guns, for at least the first few years, so you’ll need to train up now to be able to duck and cover without thinking later.

An interesting potential weapon will be mace – pepper spray, which many women carry for self-defense anyway, and bear mace, which is an incredibly strong, foam form of mace designed specifically to protect hikers or wilderness explorers from angry bears.

bearmace Mace is actually a great weapon for Preppers, because it acts as a deterrent while doing no lasting damage. This means that if a Prepper gets stuck in a horde, (s)he can carve a way out while minimizing the potential of self-inflicted damage. Bear mace also has great range – its designed to deter bears, after all.

From a self-defense standpoint, there really isn’t any great advice for defending yourself against pepper spray or bear mace attacks. You can keep a gas mask strapped to your face starting right now, so that you have it in place after becoming a zombie, but gas masks are heavy. You could train yourself to drop and roll quickly now, so you instinctively do so when confronted with a bear mace-laden Prepper, but dropping to the ground could, depending on your state of decomposition, take out chunks of skin or break bones. You could just hope that some of your juicy rotting flesh washes the spray away.

SONY DSC But wait, fellow zombies! You are not automatically vulnerable to pepper spray or bear mace. Here’s one of the greatest things about being undead: you no longer feel pain.

Sure, losing a limb sucks, and having your head blown off is a game-ender. But your nerve endings probably won’t function anymore, and the connections between your limbs and your brain are breaking down.

Per Zweapons.com: “Bear mace is not effective in temporarily blinding zombies either. Zombies are not dependent on a functioning circulatory system, and typically the blood of the undead congeals to the point where it more closely resembles a gel than a fluid. Since bear mace relies on irritating the blood vessels providing oxygen to the eyeballs, it has absolutely zero effect on a zombie’s ability to search for prey.”

So there you have it, zombiehorde. Pepper spray? It’s the perfect zombie condiment.

zombie_eat_flesh

Reasons We’re All Screwed: Sleeping Sickness and Insect Transmission

sleepingsickness

As I mentioned last week, the idea of zombies comes from a magical tradition in the varieties of Voudo or Voudon practiced in parts of Africa, Haiti, and the US. A bokor, or sorcerer, casts a spell on a living person to make them undead, or casts a spell on a corpse to revive them. Traditionally, and as presented in early zombie entertainment like The Magic Island, zombies were revived to be used for manual labor, including murder.

Scientists like to explain the concept of zombies with diseases. Africa is home to several terrifying diseases that have zombie-like symptoms, so it is no wonder that we get the idea from African traditions.

A classic zombie-making disease, this time native to sub-Saharan Africa, is Sleeping Sickness, which most scientists and medical professionals now refer to as African trypanosomiasis. The parasitic disease, caused by protozoa, starts with the haemolymphic stage, in which the victim suffers fever, headaches, itching, and joint pain. Fevers can last up to a week, but are separated by intervals, so the initial symptoms are very similar to another, more treatable chronic illness – malaria. However, as the disease progresses, the victim’s lymph nodes swell up, often to tremendous sizes. If the disease remains untreated – and there are very few effective treatments for human trypanosomiasis – the victim begins to suffer anemia and dysfunctions of the kidneys, heart, and endocrine system.

protazoanThat’s only the first stage. As African trypanosomiasis progresses into the neurologic, or second, stage, the parasite invades the nervous system and passes the blood-brain barrier. The victim loses the ability to concentrate, or perform simple tasks such as holding a pencil, or walking. Sufferers often develop tremors and a shuffling gait as they lose muscle strength. Their circadian rhythm flips – instead of sleeping at night, victims find it impossible to stay awake during the day, and cannot sleep at all at night.

After moving through the second stage, the unfortunate victim will eventually pass into a coma, suffer organ failure, and die.

“This is an infection that carries nightmarish qualities, reducing many of its victims to a zombie-like state before they go into a coma and die,” said Professor Sanjeev Krishna of the University of London, who is a doctor at a hospital in Lucala, Angola, said in a BBC interview. “Those that do survive can be left with irreparable brain damage.”

In Uganda, one in every three people are at risk of catching human trypanosomiasis, and the disease kills 50,000 to 70,000 people annually. The disease is transmitted by the tsetse fly, an insect that feeds on blood from both humans and animals. There is still no vaccine to prevent infection, and metarsoprol, one of the few “effective” treatments against the disease, contains enough arsenic to kill 1 in 20 people treated with it. If caught in the early stages, fortunately, the disease is treatable, but the most effective methods for prevention are to kill any cattle with the disease – putting entire towns at risk of starvation – or destroying all tsetse flies in the area.

tsetseSo far, there have been no reports of sleeping sickness outside of Africa, because the disease relies on the tsetse fly for transmission, although, frighteningly, there has been one case of the disease being transmitted sexually. Despite that, because there are no tsetse flies outside of Africa, those of us who do not travel to Africa very often are safe from trypanosomiasis, right?

Nope.

There is already an American form of trypanosomiasis, spread throughout South and Central America, caused by a protozoan, with similar symptoms to African trypanosomiasis – the main difference is, in American trypanosomiasis, there is no change in circadian rhythm. That form of the disease, normally called Chagas Disease, is spread through a triatomine bug, also known as a kissing bug because they drop down onto sleeping victims’ faces at night and suck their blood. While they are not related to bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) they have similar nighttime feeding habits, so African trypanosomiasis has a ready host in the Americas, with bed bugs a potential next jump. Have I mentioned that bed bugs have made a huge come-back in the last 10 years? The top 10 most infested cities in the United States, at the moment, are Cincinnati, Ohio; Columbus, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; Denver, Colorado; Detroit, Michigan; New York, New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Dayton, Ohio; and Baltimore, Maryland.

So. Completely. Screwed.

Big Z Next Stop: Your Home City
Big Z Next Stop: Your Home City

Zombie Games: Pandemic

pandemic-2013-board-gameIt’s not often that you find a board game that will help you prepare for the coming zombie apocalypse, but when you do, you have to round up a group of fellow survivors and see if you can make it to the end of the game.

Pandemic is a board game simulating the spread of several “diseases” across the planet. The goal of the game is to find and administer a cure before outbreaks make a critical mass of people ill.  On the easy level, the game is beatable, but it becomes exponentially more difficult as you progress.

The best part of the game is that it is cooperative — everyone is fighting together to try to stop the disease apocalypse, and the game is doing everything it can to stop you.  Each player has a unique role in trying to stop the disease — much like a real zombie fighting unit should have.

The diseases grow and spread from city to city, along commonly traveled routes.  If they’re sick in LA, they’re probably going to get sick in Mexico City.

Pandemic_board

While not openly a “zombie” game, if you understand the ways disease commonly spreads, you’ll be much better prepared when the zombie outbreak occurs.  Presuming it is a diseased outbreak and not simply all of the dead rising.  Learning how to work cooperatively using your own skill set and the skills of others is also a huge help.  So try to play with people who are going to make it past the first infection period.

The game is also very replayable, because there are multiple difficulty levels and multiple roles for each individual to play.  There’s also an expansion pack that adds some new roles and an extra disease, just in case the game wasn’t difficult enough already.  It’s a lot like playing chess as a group against an invisible opponent and every turn means that more people die.  Good luck saving the world.