plague

ADVICE FOR THE ONCOMING HORDE: SURVIVING AS A ZOMBIE

While many books exist to get you into what remains of the minds of zombies, most practical guides are made for Preppers. That’s just discrimination, people. Luckily, there’s a handful of intrepid authors who can help you survive in the new Undead World.

eaters1. The Brain Eater’s Bible: Sound Advice for the Newly Reanimated Zombie, by Pat Kilbane and J.D. McGhoul

Have you read Max Brooks’s best-selling and infamous “The Zombie Survival Guide”? Did it leave you unsatisfied because of your actual chances of survival? Here’s what Barnes & Noble.com says of the book: “Your body is numb and your memory is foggy.  Someone tried to give you medical attention, but you repaid their kindness by savagely killing them and eating their brains.  You are a zombie my friend, just like me.  Though most zombies are slow and stupid, the fact that you are reading this tells me that you are different.  Some of us are.  Welcome to the PACE virus apocalypse.

zen2. The Zen of Zombie: Better Living Through the Undead (Zen of Zombie Series), by Scott Kenemore

This post-Z self-help book is described by one reader: “This book discussed the 24 habits of highly effective zombies (which are the only kind there is), which include such genuine gems as this: be adaptable, be your own boss, remember its just stuff, and digging a grave? You’ve got it made!”

newlyundead3. So Now You’re a Zombie: A Handbook for the Newly Undead, by John Austin
Amazon.com says of this practical self-help guide and intro to being Undead: “Being undead can be disorienting. Your arms and other appendages tend to rot and fall off. It’s difficult to communicate with a vocabulary limited to moans and gurgles. And that smell! (Yes, it’s you.) But most of all, you must constantly find and ingest human brains. Braaaains!!!
What’s a zombie to do?
Thankfully, zombiologist John Austin details everything you need to know, as a newly undead soul, to hunt, fight, and feed on the living. As the first handbook written specifically for the undead, So Now You’re a Zombie explains how you ended up in this predicament, the stages of zombification, and what you need to survive in this zombiphobic world.”

cookbook4. The Zombie Cookbook, from Damnation Books

This mix of short stories, recipes, and poetry will get you in the mood for upcoming Plague. Quotes, per Damnation’s website:

  • Eating half now and half for breakfast shouldn’t ruin the diet.
  • That explains the overly seasoned dinners.
    • Eating humans is hazardous to my health.

zeo5. Z.E.O.: How to Get A(Head) in Business (Zen of Zombie Series), by Scott Kenemore
Another in the Zen of Zombie series, this book will help you not only survive as the undead, but become the “Head” of your horde!

POETRY APOCALYPSE: BOOKS OF ZOMBIE POEMS

For the more sophisticated member of the undead horde, there’s several books of poetry about zombies to help prepare yourself for rising from the grave.

jack1. Jack and Jill Went Up to Kill: A Book of Zombie Nursery Rhymes, by Michael P. Spradlin and Jeff Weigel

For those parents who want to make sure their children are prepared to become members of the shambling undead, this book of nursery rhymes will catch their ear … and maybe the ears of some Preppers, too!

christmas2. It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Zombies! A Book of Zombie Christmas Carols, by Michael P. Spradlin

Do you love holidays? You may already be part of a horde of shoppers and celebrators, especially around Christmas. Get into the spirit with this book of songs to rouse the smallest of hearts.

haiku3. Zombie Haiku: Good Poetry for Your … Brains, and Dawn of Zombie Haiku, by Ryan Mecum

Both books are from the perspective of the walking dead, in haiku format, documented in journal format.

DIG DEEPER IN THE MIND: MORE ZOMBIE NOVELS

Still looking for more Undead points of view? There’s lots of novels being written from the zombies’ perspective, suggesting more and more people are beginning to realize that they’ll be part of the horde, not the survivors, after the Zombiepocalypse occurs.

brains1. Brains: A Zombie Memoir, by Robin Becker

Amazon.com’s description says: “Subtitled “A Zombie Memoir,” Brains looks at America’s favorite walking-dead flesh-eaters from an audaciously original and deliciously gruesome new perspective. Debut author Robin Becker blazes new ground with this story of former college professor-cum-sentient zombie Jack Barnes, who recounts the tale of the resistance he organized in the wake of the recent zombie apocalypse. World War Z; Shaun of the Dead; Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies… Becker tops them all with Brains—a witty, tasty treat for anyone who every spent a midnight glued to a classic George A. Romero zombie epic!”

This novel received 4 out of 5 stars, so it’s popular with the horde!

breathers2. Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament, by S.G. Browne

Goodreads.com says of the book: “Meet Andy Warner, a recently deceased everyman and newly minted zombie. Resented by his parents, abandoned by his friends, and reviled by a society that no longer considers him human, Andy is having a bit of trouble adjusting to his new existence. But all that changes when he goes to an Undead Anonymous meeting and finds kindred souls in Rita, an impossibly sexy recent suicide with a taste for the formaldehyde in cosmetic products, and Jerry, a twenty-one-year-old car-crash victim with an exposed brain and a penchant for Renaissance pornography. When the group meets a rogue zombie who teaches them the joys of human flesh, things start to get messy, and Andy embarks on a journey of self-discovery that will take him from his casket to the SPCA to a media-driven class-action lawsuit on behalf of the rights of zombies everywhere.”

The book clocks not quite a full 4 out of 5 stars, but one reviewer left a nice poem about the book:

“zombies need love too
we deserve equality
frat boys taste yummy”

lifeless3. The Lifeless: A Zombie Novel, by Lorne Dixon

Amazon.com says of the book: “A school full of kids. A mysterious yellow rain. High school will never be the same. They are outcasts and misfits, teenagers lost on the path to adulthood, living day-to-day inside a high school culture of taunts, humiliation, and isolation. They are the misunderstood, the neglected, and the abused. They are . . . The Lifeless. For them, every school day is a nightmare. But on Monday, October 2nd, they will discover the true meaning of terror. Classes are cut short by news of explosions in the city across the river, part of a series of horrific terrorist attacks that paralyze the nation. But that is only the beginning: amber clouds fill the sky, burning rain pelts down, and the surviving students of Verlaine High learn that their tormentors have mutated into something far worse-reanimated corpses with a primordial instinct for murder. It’s time to stand up to the in-crowd . . . or be consumed by it.”

This book, too, received just shy of 4 out of 5 stars, but most reviewers love the book. The two 1-star reviews suggest that the book is not that creative, but the horde overwhelmingly enjoyed the book.

Prepare for The Zombiepocalypse on the Bus

The Zombie Apocalypse hasn’t happened yet (we think), but you can experience it in a variety of ways through the magic of your smart phone!

Sit in a park, ride the bus, lay around at home, and become a tech zombie before a biological zombie. It’s great!

Of course, there are classic zombie-centric games for mobiles out there already, like Plants vs. Zombies, and Zombies, Run! But what about games for those of us who plan to become part of the horde after the Big Zed?

Here’s a few free downloadable selections for your brain-craving pleasure:

zombieslive1. Zombies Live, from Storm8Games

The game, per Google Play, works like this: “On a dark night, in a cold morgue, you arise. Not quite dead, but far less than human, you hunger for knowledge about who you were and how you became this way. But the fiercest hunger in your being is for flesh. And, lucky for you, the morgue attendants are coming to check on you.

Start as a lowly zombie, freshly undead and turn yourself into the most powerful crypt lord by bringing in other zombies into your horde and wreaking havoc throughout the city in Zombies Live™.”

The game has 6,395 5-Star reviews, so most people seem to like it. “Like other games by Storm8, this game is an addictive way to pass time,” says one reviewer. Another says, “Great game especially considering its free. Not overbearing with ads. Lots of active players! A must have.” There’s a smattering of bad reviews, mostly complaining about upcharges or the company’s banning policies, but overall, for a game in which you actually become a zombie, it’s a screaming good time!

zombieace2. Zombie Ace, from Hothead Games

The entire point of Zombie Ace, hidden behind its adorable animations, is to spread the plague to unsuspecting Preppers. “These undead pilots guarantee fast service to 14 destinations across the United States of America. When you need to infect the next city fast, trust a Zombie Ace to get you there!”

According to the description on Google Play, the game’s objectives are:

“* Infect the zombie plague across 14 U.S.A. cities
* Choose from 5 different Zombie Ace pilots
* Upgrade your plane with better wings, faster engines and more fuel
* Battle with enemy Jet Fighters, Attack Choppers, Bombers, and Tanks
* Test your skills flying through Lightning Storms or avoiding attacks from Giant Killer Robots and other hazards!
* Complete 100 missions to rank up and earn rewards
* Play Brain Scratcher tickets to win more prizes between flights”

This free game also has almost entirely 5-Star reviews – 5,037, to be exact. One review said, “… Definitely an amazing game. Great fun. After thr recent update its become really stable. Good use of spare time.”

The negative reviews complain about social networking issues, but is that really a surprise with a zombie game? If you’re a zombie without a horde, how far can you really get?

zombiebooth3. ZombieBooth, from MotionPortrait, Inc

Alright, it’s not technically a game, but it’s still a helluva lotta fun. Do you want to know what you’ll look like after rising from the grave and rotting in the open air? Now you’ll know! Always wanted to know what friends and family, even your pug, will look like after the Z-pocalypse? You can find out when they share photos, so you can join up with their horde later!

Per Google Play, here’s some of the app’s features:

“CUSTOMIZABLE 3D ZOMBIES!
– ZombieBooth makes any 2D portrait fully 3D
– Create a huge collection of 3D, animated zombies from photos of you and your friends
– Choose from several zombie variations to pinpoint your undead doppelgänger

YOUR ZOMBIES COME ALIVE
– Zombies will blink, scowl, and breath!
– Hear them growl and frenzy
– They’ll even try to ravage your finger if you get too close!

ZOMBIFY YOUR FRIENDS!
– Capture portraits to zombify on any camera equipped Android
– Share zombie images via Email”

This app has 41,699 5-Star reviews. With a horde that size, how can you go wrong?

All three of these applications are free for download, so there’s no reason not to give them a whirl, and experience the zombie un-lifestyle first-hand.

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

Get Zombified Without Dying: The “Zombie” Cocktail

5 Oclock Somewhere copy

When you think about “zombie” food for a party, you think about meat, witch finger cookies, bright red punch, and maybe a cake with frosting body parts. But which cocktails come to mind?

As it turns out, there’s a classic cocktail straight out of the original Tiki restaurant in Hollywood, and it’s called the Zombie.

The restaurant of legend was Don the Beachcomber’s in Hollywood, California, which opened in 1934 and kicked off the tiki craze in the US. Ernest Raymond Beaumont-Gannt was the famous restauranteur, and also a devoted mixologist, who changed his name to Donn Beach when Beachcombers became a famous chain. All of the tropical cocktails served in his restaurants were lovingly created by Donn Beach himself, and the mix so well-guarded that Beach notoriously wrote instructions with ingredients in code.

The Zombie, a rum and fruit juice cocktail, became a huge hit across the country, with many bars and restaurants creating their own poor imitations just to say they served it. The closely-guarded recipe was almost lost, when a little black book belonging to a former Beachcombers waiter was discovered by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry in 2005. Berry is also an avid mixologist and fan of tiki-themed drinks, and has published several books with original recipes for tropical drinks and punches.

“The Zombie was the Cosmopolitan or Margarita of its day,” Mr. Berry said in a New York Times article in 2007. “There are hundreds of recipes for it — and they all stink.”

Reportedly, the original recipe for the Zombie is so strong that Donn Beach limited his customers to 2 cocktails. That reputation loomed large in popular culture through the 1970’s as well.In M*A*S*H, Season 3, Episode 17, Trapper John McIntyre orders a Zombie at the officers’ club and says “Keep them coming until I turn into one.” In 1940, pianist Fats Waller recorded a novelty song called “Abercrombie Had a Zombie,” alleging that too many Zombies turned a law-abiding citizen into a rampaging public menace. The song also mentions Aquacade, and other features of the 1939 New York World’s Fair, where the drink became nationally popular. In the “Gilligan’s Island” episode “Voodoo,” Gilligan informs Mrs. Howell that the Professor has been turned into a zombie by a witchdoctor. She asks Thurston what a zombie is; he starts giving her the recipe for the cocktail, but wonders why she asked. She explains the Professor has been turned into one, so Mrs. Howell suggests they go help him, and Thurston adds, “Bring a couple of tall glasses!” The Zombie cocktail also gets namechecked in Steely Dan’s song “Haitian Divorce,” on the album The Royal Scam.

ZombiecocktailHere, then, is the original Zombie recipe:

1 1/2 oz. Jamaican rum
1 1/2 oz. gold Puerto Rican rum
1 oz. 151-proof Demerara rum
1/8 tsp. Herbsaint or Pernod
1/2 oz. falernum
1/2 oz. Donn’s Mix (see below)
1 tsp. grenadine
1 dash Angostura bitters
6 oz. crushed ice
Tools: blender
Glass: chimney
Garnish: mint sprig

Put everything in blender, saving ice for last. Blend at high speed for no more than 5 seconds. Pour into glass and add ice cubes to fill. Garnish.

Donn’s Mix

3 cinnamon sticks, crushed

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

fresh grapefruit juice

Create an infused simple syrup by heating cinnamon sticks, sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Simmer for 2 minutes, then remove from heat and let sit for at least 2 hours before straining into a clean glass bottle. To finish making the mix, add 1 part of the syrup to 2 parts fresh grapefruit juice.

Mathematician reveals the rate at which a zombie virus would spread. It’s not good for humankind.

shutterstock_94488721Math is a beautiful thing.  Mathematical models can predict how well a society will fare under particular economic policies.  It can tell us at what trajectory and at what speed we must jettison a satellite for it to reach a planet billions of miles away.

It can also plot the efficiency of and rate of spread of diseases.  Such is the work of Robert Smith, a mathematician at the University of Ottawa who has given us the following equation: (bN)(S/N)Z = bSZ.

As for a zombie apocalypse, Smith’s model shows that a zombie infection would spread quickly (with N representing total population, S the number of susceptible people, Z the zombies, and bthe likelihood of transmission). It also shows that zombies would overtake the world— there’s no chance for a “stable equilibrium” in which humans could coexist with the undead or eradicate the disease.

Only coordinated attacks against the zombies would save humanity, the model shows.

Now don’t panic.  His calculation makes assumptions on a number of unknowns.  For instance, how long can zombies survive?  If it’s a matter of days, then the outcome changes dramatically (as some people live more than a few days walk from the closest population hub, and therefore cannot be bitten unless they make the effort to travel to where the zombies are).  We don’t have the answers to many questions we’d need before making an ultimately dire prediction like this.

However, if Smith’s calculations are even close to correct, he very clearly spells out what must be done:

Analyzing zombies adds a couple of new wrinkles to traditional disease modeling, Smith said: Dead people can be resurrected as zombies, and humans will attack the infected. “Usually, the dead aren’t a dynamic variable,” Smith said. “And people don’t try to kill the people who have an infection.”

The advantage we have against a zombie virus that we don’t have against a flu or the common cold is that if the zombie virus is spread through bites (which is a big if), then we can both see and destroy the hosts.  We can actually take it upon ourselves to alter the natural rate at which the disease would spread and, according to Smith, we’d have to.  Absent human beings exerting our will over the rate of infection, it would overtake the planet.

Which means these columns, in the future, will begin to also deal with combat and the mechanics of group psychology.  Should humanity need to fight back, we must make certain we are prepared.

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.