Monday, 29 December 2014

Zombies and New Year resolutions

Yes it is that time of year when people start thinking of their New Year resolutions. Something really challenging that they can give up after three days of procrastinating. 

The truth is, keeping motivated is bloody hard but luckily that is where zombies come in handy. They are great motivators. So embrace the positive power of scary zombies to keep your resolutions on track. 

Sure your family will think you're weird (mine does) look what zombies have done for me this year:
  • Motivated me to get fit (well fitter) as I want to be able to outrun those zombie bastards. 
  • Even took some refresher swimming lessons. Now I am just a lousy swimmer rather than a pathetically lousy swimmer.
  • Finally took that first aid course I have been thinking about. I know CPR and how to delivery babies!
  • Organised a bug out bag in case of a zombie attack. It will also come in handy for more mundane things like having to flee because of bushfires, chemical spills and Summernats.
  • Binge watched a heap of TV survival shows. If you want to make a signal balloon out of a Mylar space blanket and pine pitch, I'm your man.
  • Learned lots of new skills like making prison lighters, prison rope and prison shivs. This really boosts your street cred.
  • Had a survival day (ok camped out in the backyard) to further hone my zombie survival skills. 
  • Started taking self defense lessons. Ok just one lesson as it was the final class of the year. Will do more next year, promise. 
  • Researched amazing stuff about zombies, survival and odd things as part of doing book reviews and Apocalypse Hal. Who knew you can farm maggots!
  • Trying to publish a comic each week is pretty impressive too.
  • And I had a lot for fun. And some strange looks from people but who cares about that. 

So ask not what you can do to zombies, but what zombies can do for you! Be terrified and stay motivated in 2015. 

And if you fail with your resolutions in the first week of 2015, don't worry. There is about eight "new years" every year (like the Chinese New Year) so just try again. 

All the best for 2015. 

My Rimsky

Sunday, 28 December 2014

No mercy

Ok I lied. This is the final book review for the year. And what a book. If you what to live through a zombie apocalypse, or a major disaster, this is the book to read. It is not a survival book. There are no diagrams on how to light a fire or build a shelter. This book is all about the physiological and social nightmares that you face in a disaster situation.

Eleanor Learmonth and Jenny Tabakoff have analysed real life survival stories to explain how people behave and react. And it is not good. Using the William Golding book Lord of the Flies as a benchmark, they have created their own set of survival principles. The last one is the key one to remember - In the long run there is only one rule: self preservation.

In addition to the survival stories, the authors also refer to clinical research studies to support their views. One particular research study is the Robber Cave Experiment, the results of which were published in 1954, the same year as Lord of the Flies was published. Bizarrely they mirror each other. In the Robber Cave Experiment, two groups of 11 year old kids where taken into a remote summer camp and let loose with little parental control. The researchers then manipulated the kids so that they ended up fighting each other, while the researchers stood by to document it all. Wasn't the 50's wonderful. You could experiment on kids and the homeless and no one considered it ethically wrong!

Anyway, things spiraled out of control very quickly with the kids. Unarmed physical violence occurred within 24 hours of the two groups making contact. One group even carried out a night raid on the other group's cabin, The attackers painted their faces commando style, posted guards at the cabin doors so none of the victims could escape, and basically smashed everything up. The researchers finally stepped in when the kids started arming themselves with weapons. Remember these are 11 year old kids from good families in a non survival environment. And people complain about the youth of today.

The book documents the spiraling descent into madness that can happen to a group in a life and death situation. From eating those that have died of natural causes to the next step of killing others to feast on. Then the final stage of madness. Thrill killing until there is just one man left standing. This can happen even when you are living in tropical paradise, as happened with the mutineers of the Bounty when they settled on Pitcairn Island. Finally the authors wrap up looking at  Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the other scars that effect those who do survive the ordeals.  

It sounds gloomy and there are some truly horrifying examples of what average people can do. The good news is that those groups that manage to hold themselves together and work cooperatively have the best survival rates. Once individuals start thinking only of themselves, the body count skyrockets.

Eleanor Learmonth and Jenny Tabakoff do provide some tips on how to keep your group together. So this book is worth reading if you want to be prepared. Or morbidly entertained. Or if you plan to write horror stories - you will notice some the themes have been used in horror movies and The Walking Dead. Also buy the book as the authors are Australian!

Bite off more human flesh than you can chew (but don't eat the liver!)

Mr Rimsky

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Apocalypse Hal: More risks

Another risk matrix because, you know, there is going to be a lot of risks in the zombie apocalypse. 

Now this matrix is all fancy and impresses people. It combines the likelihood of the risk with the impact of the risk.

Let imagine a typical scenario where you are hiding out in a zombie infested city. Every time you go scavenging for food you are always extra careful and pick areas with few zombies. The chances of getting surprised by a rogue zombie is unlikely and because there are only a few zombies about, you would probably escape with just lots of pain. So there is a low risk that you may get some minor injuries. 

The reward for scavenging is food, something important and highly valuable, especially if there is a chance of finding some Tim Tams. You make the judgement that the unlikely, chance of receiving lots of pain is worth the effort of searching for canned dog food and the occasional Tim Tam.

But lets say things change and a horde of zombies started to migrate into your area, then the risk of injury by zombies increases. With some careful observation you estimate that the chance of encountering zombies has increased from unlikely to highly likely. Furthermore with so many zombies staggering around you will have to fight off several zombies if attacked. This raises the impact from lots of pain to massive trauma

Now it is very likely that you will get cornered by a pack of zombies and get hit with some massive trauma. You make the judgement call and decide to stop scavenging, even for the Adriano Zumbo Salted Carmel Tim Tams. 

So you can see how the likelihood of the risk happening and the impact of that risk are important. There may be situations where the likelihood is very low but the impact is fatal. Or alternatively you could be guaranteed that the risk will happen but the impact may be very minor. You also need to consider whether the reward for taking the risk is worth it. 

For most of us this it is all a subconscious decision we make on the fly. However it is better to sit down with a clear head and really analyse the risks and impacts and use the risk matrix to guide your decision. 

A risk matrix means you will be make better decisions based on facts and not swayed by a hankering for chocolate biscuits. I keep a copy in my wallet just in case.You can also adapt this matrix for other risks too, like overeating at Christmas.

Bite off more tinned dog food than you can chew.

Mr Rimsky

Friday, 19 December 2014

Happy birthday Mr Rimsky

So word on the street is that it's the very talented Mr Rimsky's birthday!! 

I am sure he is hoping to keep a low profile but no such luck here in the BZF bunker! All the BZF crew and readers wish Mr Rimsky a very happy zombie virus free birthday, but hey if it happens at least we know he will be prepared and even has a project plan!!!
Thanks for all the hardwork and effort you put into our blog Mr Rimsky, it wouldn't be BZF without you! 

Eat cake and don't get bit.

Miss K

  V v v v v v b bob bbb b

The Harlem Hellfighters

Last book review for the year! And it has nothing to do with survival or zombies. 

Okay there is a link to zombies because it is written by Max Brooks who, of course, is the author of The Zombie Survival Guide, The Zombie Survival Guide - Recorded Attacks and World War Z

But this book is very different, it's about history. A piece of history unknown by many because the key players where African Americans. This is an account of the African Americans soldiers who fought in the First World War. It is a gripping tale about the injustice and racism these brave soldiers faced, from their own country and people. They were literally set up to fail as the US Government and white Americans feared what would happen if these soldiers proved their worth. 

And prove their worth they did. Called "The Harlem Hellfighters" by the Germans, the 369th Infantry Regiment was the first all black regiment and it became one of the most decorated units in the entire American Expeditionary Force. They spent 191 days in combat, longer than any American Unit, black or white. While Max has written a fictionised account of this unit, a number of the characters are based on real people. Like the African American Henry Johnson, the first American to receive the French Cross of War (the US Government finally awarded him the Distinguished Service Cross in 2003).

Max wrote this story as a screenplay but couldn't find a studio willing to make the movie (although I read on the web that Sony and Will Smith have now optioned the film rights). So Max turned it into a Graphic Novel. Probably the main reason I grabbed this book cause I love comics. Illustrated by Caanan White, the artwork is black and white with just some feathering on the solid blacks to create tone. There is nothing overly dynamic about the layouts, artwork or pacing. It all about storytelling. The artwork is still very powerful, graphically displaying the carnage of the war.

Now in a good comic the words and art are like a pair of ballroom dancers. Sometimes they both share the spotlight with their moves but more often one will be there supporting the other partner to shine. Each helps the other to make the dance spectacular. Sadly I felt there were a few stumbles with this comic. Places where the imagery and words didn't line up.

Never-the-less it a great graphic novel with an even greater story. And that sneaky Max even threw in a reference to zombies.

Bite off more comics than you can chew.

Mr Rimsky

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Do the survey!

A big plea to our followers and fellow zombie enthusiasts.

Please complete this simple online survey to help us better understand the zombie apocalypse. 

There is a serious lack of zombie research available and we here at BZF are keen to understand what the zombie apocalypse would feel like. While the survey may seen strange, it is based on accepted research methodology that we pinched from a major research company. Your results will be used to visualise what the Zombie Apocalypse experience would be like.

The bad news

We really, really, really wanted to offer a promotional giveaway to one lucky person who had completed the survey. However further investigation of the Gambling Laws here revealed this would be a Trade Promotion Lottery and that we needed to apply for a license and pay a hefty fee. Even for a prize only a few dollars in value. The chances of us getting a criminal conviction for giving away a coffee mug is slim, but we didn't want to risk it.

The good news

In Queensland it is legal to own a slingshot. Oh and an individual can run a Trade Promotion without needing a license! So an individual who wishes to remain anonymous (thanks mum) has stepped in to offer a giveaway on our behalf. So....

Awesome giveaway to one lucky person

As an incentive, someone in Queensland is giving away this limited edition, BZF coffee mug to one lucky person. (we are on a tight budget okay). This stylish mug features Cheryl the Zombie in glorious technicolor. On the other side is the quote "Kylie's fashion tips are to die for" a tribute to Mrs K, creator of BZF. 

A prefect gift if your name is Kylie and you are an aspiring fashionista. Not so good if your name is Steve. Never-the-less this is a awesome item valued at a amazing A$5. If you want to be in the chance to win it, just include your name and email address in the survey. If you are feeling paranoid, leaving your details is purely optional, so don't let it stop you doing the survey.

What the heck, this person in Queensland is feeling really generous and will also throw in this trendy keyring. Perfect for the holding the keys to your zombie apocalypse bunker.

details, details, details

The one lucky person to receive these treasured items will be selected randomly from those who completed the survey and provided an email address and name. If the one lucky person happens to live outside of Australia we will rummage down the back of the sofa to find the extra money to cover the additional postal costs. The survey closes on Sunday 28 December 2014 so don't delay. The lucky person will contacted by email to arrange delivery. This giveaway is organised under the Queensland state gambling laws Category four, promotional games (trade promotions). My mum reserves sole and final judgement as to all matters concerning this giveaway. Enough with the legal stuff, go do the survey!

Bite off move gambling legislation that you can chew.

Mr Rimsky 

Friday, 12 December 2014

Zombie Apocalpse House

Somewhere in a Japanese rural village there is a house I want to visit. It is an authentic Ninja House built over 300 years ago. Looks like a farmhouse but you actually enter a place of tricks and traps that puts James Bond to shame. There is a hidden revolving wall panel, a concealed ladder, a handy underground tunnel escape route, a secret alcove hidden behind a hanging scroll and other cool interior design features.

They run tours there.

So I got thinking about making your own Zombie Apocalypse House. One with a few tricks of its own. Here are few ideas I have collected from people.

Looks like a few planks resting against the back fence but in fact it is a ramp into the yard next door. Good for a fast get away, especially as zombies don't have a great sense of balance and will find it hard to follow. Also great for using the neighbour's pool when they are on holiday.

This fence backs onto a reserve and is fairly well hidden by the shrubby. There is a gate in that ramshackle fence and judging from the slightly worn trail it gets used occasionally. Obviously a nice escape route when the religious fanatics come door knocking.

Here we see a how plants can be use to add protection and secrecy to your escape route.  Zombies will find it hard getting through these bamboo hedges. With some more fertilizer and pruning this will be a impregnable tunnel hidden from prying eyes.

Don't neglect the veggie garden. Here the use of large concrete garden beds has created a series of barricades and choke points that you can use to defend your house should the zombies break in. You can use retaining walls and large art sculptures in a similar way. Don't forget to string up some trip wires for fun.

If you have the cash to flash and the room, create a hidden alleyway beside your property by installing a fake inner fence. I have seen this used on several properties. 

This one is pretty luxurious in terms of space. It can act as an escape route, rally point or extra car park.

Providing it is not raining, drains can be a wonderful resource for those plagued by an abundance of zombies. It is also cheaper than digging your own bunker. Even if you can't fit your family in there you can use it to cache your survival supplies. Or at least keep your beer cool.

Bite off more than you can chew.

Mr Rimsky

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Calling All Beavers!!

Stay out of the water, board up your windows and doors because everybody’s favourite furry little creature has received the zombie treatment and these blood thirsty beavers are lurking in the darkness waiting to gnaw away at your good bits (see below).

Welcome to Zombeavers, the flagship for a new era of zombified animal horror movies (Squirrels is on the way).  So you know when people say that a movie is so bad that it’s good?  Well Zombeavers is certainly one of those movies!  From the creative opening credits and the super authentic 80’s inspired music, I was hooked and ready to see just how bad these naughty beavers could bite.

Naturally with a strong ‘R’ rating for depictions of blood, sexing and at times poor acting, Zombeavers does a marvellous job of not taking itself seriously at all.  Yes the predictable plot of mildly attractive ‘20 somethings’ stuck in a cabin making radically stupid decisions is a tired story that is all too familiar but strangely this movie hurtles along at a quick pace and keeps you entertained throughout.

There is no news of a Zombeavers 2, but frankly I could watch approximately 8 installments worth of zombie beavers terrorising hapless pretty people who have no idea how to outwit or outsmart these blood thirsty ‘beasts’.  Maybe we need to start campaigning now with Zombeavers 2: Beaver Fever, Zombeavers 3: Beaver Forever, not to mention the 4th installment that serves as a reboot Zombeavers Vs Zombears – as you can see the possibilities are endless and perfectly horrendous!

Bite you later

Mr Vitamin G 

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Apocalypse Hal: How to use a survival kit

And you thought the hardest thing with using a survival kit was unwrapping the Mylar space blanket! Welcome to the world of modular, purpose specific, survival kits.

Every Day Carry
These are essential items that you carry on your person wherever you go. For many this would be a pocket knife, cigarette lighter and a few other small items.  However some people can get quite creative and carry enough weapons and equipment to arm a small nation. 

Minimalist Survival Kit
Similar to Every Day Carry are the Minimalist Survival Kits. These are often packed in a small tin (Altoids mint tins are very popular) and slipped into a pocket so you can carry it with you at all times. Being small and lightweight these kits are limited to a bunch of small items that may help you.

Get Home Bag
Seeing most of us have a full time job, there is a big chance a zombie apocalypse may happen while you are at work. However, turning up at a staff performance appraisal at work with a Rambo style survival knife strapped to your belt may be frowned on by your employer. 

To get around this some people have a Get Home Bag stored at work. The aim of the Get Home Bag is to help you get from your workplace to home and so contains more practical items than your Every Day Carry or Minimalist Survival Kit have. This could be a change of clothes, practical footwear, a torch, water, a few food bars etc.

Car Kit
Along the same lines you can carry a similar survival kit in your car. Or even several different kits. For example you may have a Get Home Bag that you can take with you if you need to abandon the vehicle and walk home. Depending on where you travel you may also have equipment in case you get lost or stuck in a snowstorm. Some basic car essentials like a toolkit, blanket, first aid kit, water and food may all be part of what you carry.

Bug Out Bag
These bags are becoming popular and you can buy ready made bags online, including zombie apocalypse specific bags. The aim of the Bug Out Bag is to contain everything you need to get you through the first three days of a disaster. Hopefully by then help would have arrived. Naturally these bags can get fairly large and heavy so are usually packaged up as a backpack in case you need to leave an area on foot.

Bug In Bag
So a Bug Out Bag is designed in case you need to leave your home in a disaster. What if you decide to hunker down in your home until help arrives? Well you will need, you guessed it, a Bug In Bag. This contains essential items for staying put in your home. As you do not need to physically carry it can be packaged up in a plastic crate or a series of crates. Sure you will also have all the food and gear in your house but the Bug In Bag allows you to get your hands on those emergency chocolate bars quickly.

Bug Out Vehicle
If you are going to flee your home, walking is going to be dangerous and slow. So it is worth having a Bug Out Vehicle to travel in. Naturally you want to customise this vehicle. It could be a four wheel drive with bigger fuel tanks, an electric winch and extra cup holders. Of course it doesn't have to be a car and some creative people use boats, motorbikes, pushbikes, planes and even pack goats.

The Bunker
Now if you really want to be prepared you will also want a bunker or safe house set up. This is where you retreat to should you need to flee the zombies. Remote cabins in the mountains seem to be popular, seeing it is based on the idea you want to get away from heavily populated areas. This bunker naturally needs to be fully equipped with food, water and other equipment to sustain you long term.

As you can see, buying shares in a company manufacturing survival gear is not a bad investment.

Bite off more Mylar than you can chew.

Mr Rimsky

Friday, 5 December 2014

The Zombie Combat Manual

"For far too long, many have made light of eliminating the undead, with tragic consequences".

Well it is about time I did a book review that was a bit more zombie related. The Zombie Combat Manual by Rodger Ma (along with The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks) is considered a must have text on the subject of the zombie apocalypse.

I must admit I found this book scary. It appears zombie outbreaks have been occurring everywhere around the globe and no one told me. And worst, at the time of publication, "contact has not yet been reestablished with Australia". I really must watch the news more often.

First up, let's discuss the most vital aspect of any book, the illustrations. For me the quality of the artwork are what make or break a book. Luckily there are a lot of excellent semi-realistic illustrations in this book to help you master the techniques of battling the undead. The zombies look suitable gruesome.

I also found the combat reports added a wonderful depth to the subject matter. The people interviewed are varied, giving a very broad perspective on the zombie epidemic. Take Dr Judith Ballantine, Child Psychiatrist, who's latest book "Mommy's Different Now", aims to help guardians educate toddlers on coping with the loss of a parent due to infection.

Speaking of toddlers, there is also a section on Child Protection, examining the various ways to carry children in zombie infested zones. Being a fan of Lone Wolf and Cub I was disappointed Roger didn't expand on how you can customise your baby carrier with armor plating, spring loaded blades and other useful weapons. Not to mention benefit of riding strollers downhill, like a skateboard, to escapes zombies.

It is certainly a comprehensive manual and maybe too many pages are spent on the various weapons you can use. Then again, if I have to make a choice between a viking axe, a zweihander and a naginata, I now know which to grab (Viking axe). Great to know if the zombies rise up while I'm touring a museum.

It is easy to see why this book has become a classic. I'll definitely be heading down to Bunnings this weekend to stock up on landscape shovels and nose plugs. 

Bite off more that you can chew.

Mr Rimsky