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08 June, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: "Zodiac: Signs of the Apocalypse" (2014)

With this week's Doomer Fiction movie review, I'm going to be talking about "Zodiac: Signs of the Apocalypse" (2014), which actually turned out to be a fairly interesting film, even though I wasn't expecting much. With that said, by no means am I saying it's particularly great. Rather, I'm simply saying it actually was a lot better than I expected it to be before sitting down to watch it; and, considering it's just a little over $5 for the DVD, I would definitely recommend it for screening by readers of this site.

Basically, it proceeds under the premise that the Signs of the Zodiac (the symbols themselves) are actually representations of prophecy that ancient man has attempted to pass down to us. In other words, each symbol actually visually looks like a disaster that is going to occur in the future. And, of course, the film is set when those apocalyptic events are actually taking place. Tsunamis in South America that visually take the form of the symbol for Scorpio; explosive meteor showers that wreak havoc across much of the northern hemisphere and take the form of the symbol for Leo; that's basically what we're talking about here, and it is like the Signs of the Zodiac are basically a countdown to some sort of upcoming apocalyptic disaster. Definitely a different take on your average disaster movie, which made it interesting in my opinion.

I also thought the cast was fairly decent, featuring a few faces that are easily recognizable from previous shows of which I have been a fan on the Syfy Network, including "The 4400" and the absolutely stellar "Battlestar Galactica" reboot from a few years ago.


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07 June, 2015

Feeding the Garden

I posted the pictures yesterday that I had taken of my little container garden I'm growing this Summer, so I thought taking a moment to talk about plant maintenance and feeding might be a good idea also. I'm feeding my plants a good dose of this every Tuesday, even though I don't really like the idea of being dependent on additives that might not be available in an emergency. Still, no reason not to take advantage of it now and try to increase the yield of my little garden, especially seeing as how I went fairly small-scale this year. The instructions specify doing a feeding every 7-14 days, but I'm definitely going with weekly since each plant only has access to about half a cubic foot of soil within each bucket. That's also why I'm being sure to water them daily, even in instances when it has rained a little. I'm just afraid depending on rain and watering only every other day would cause the plants to exhaust everything available in the soil and either die or fail to produce for me.

What are your thoughts?



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06 June, 2015

Finally Got My Summer 2015 Container Garden Started

I know it's a bit of a late start, but I actually did this about a week ago. Just hadn't had time to post the pictures yet. The last frost was well after 15 May here in southern West Virginia anyway, so I'm only a few weeks behind the curve. As you can see, I missed the mark by a mile on my original plan to start seeds in the house before moving everything outdoors. Instead, I ended up having to just purchase existing plants in order to have a garden this year at all. And, for soil, you can see the stuff I purchased pictured below as well as a larger version of the picture you see at the top of the article. Figured I'd do that to make it easier for you to see the plants.

Decided to go small this year as a trial, so it's basically just a gaggle of tomato plants and one sweet yellow bell pepper. Of course, I overestimated and only used half of the gravel (bottom layer to keep the dirt from clumping around the holes drilled in the bucket) and the soil I bought, so I might go in the next week or so and get a few more buckets and put a few more plants in the dirt. We'll see.




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05 June, 2015

PREPPER PRODUCT REVIEW: Mountain House Granola with Milk and Blueberries

It's been a minute or two since I focused my product reviews on a breakfast food, so today I gave Mountain House Granola with Milk and Blueberries a try to the expected awesome result. By the way, if you're dumb like me and not exactly sure what you would be buying purchasing this granola, it's basically a cold cereal not at all unlike having a bowl of flakes or Rice Crispies or something similar… except it's a lot healthier. When Mountain House tries to sell you granola, you should basically picture in your mind hippie health food, but be prepared to be happy instead of sad after you eat it.

Preparation was also exceedingly simple. You don't even need to heat the water with this particular meal, since it's meant to be eaten as a cold cereal. Also, something to note is that there's a slight discrepancy between the instructions on the back of the package I received versus the Camping Survival website (one of our most loyal sponsors) linked to above. The website says that this meal requires 2 cups (16 ounces) of water, but the packaging I received said you only needed a half cup (4 ounces). It even said you could use a bit less to make a thicker granola, so I actually used just under a half cup, stirred it really well for a few minutes, then ate it as you see pictured at the bottom of this article. Easy peasy.

As you can see, I wasn't kidding when I said it was very much like eating a bowl of cereal. And the blueberries even turned the reconstituted milk blue, which gave me good thoughts since that's exactly what blueberries are supposed to do. Let me know the ingredients are as they should be. I also really liked the fact that the meal you see in the picture above took only just under a half cup (4 ounces) of water to prepare. In an emergency situation, water is a particular commodity/resource that could become more difficult to obtain in quantity, so being able to prepare a meal like this without using up a lot of your supplies is very welcome. It's also worth taking note that, unlike most of these mylar pouch freeze-dried meals, this one is actually very low in sodium content. As usual, what you see in the picture above represents the contents of the entire pouch, so I would advise not counting on it being two full servings (at least, not for two adults), unless you're just looking for a light snack as opposed to a very filling breakfast. Other than that, color me 100% satisfied.



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04 June, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: "Holding Their Own: A Story of Survival" by Joe Nobody

Making an effort to get back on schedule, today's Doomer Fiction book review will be centered around "Holding Their Own: A Story of Survival" by Joe Nobody (Kindle edition), which represents the first installment in a whole series that I've been looking forward to reading. Most folks in our little niche have always spoken highly of the author. In fact, if you click on the links that take you to Amazon.com, you will see that 82% of the individuals reviewing this first novel in the series have ranked it at either four or five stars in their opinion, and so I'm happy to have finally gotten around to checking it out for myself. 

First off, let me apologize for not having published a book review at all last week, my final one being the article focusing on "Station Eleven: A Novel" by Emily St. John Mandel the week before that. My reading fell behind as the result of finishing up one of my classes and the untimely death of a friend, and so I had originally intended on simply swapping the dates between my normal Wednesday book review and the Prepper product review I try to do every Friday. Unfortunately, it simply became increasingly clear that time was not going to be on my side. Therefore, I decided simply to skip a week on the book review in order to give myself the needed time to finish the material. And, yes, I realize I'm technically still one day behind. Sorry if that through any of you folks for a loop, but I'm hoping to be back on the regular schedule now.

This first novel in the burgeoning series was written a few years ago, but through some quirk of timing I'm actually reading it when the story is supposedly taking place in 2015. Needless to say, the author's fictional 2015 is a bit different from the one we are living in right now. For instance, the 2015 in which the novel takes place finds the United States severely weakened by the Second Great Depression. Economically, things are a complete mess, and it shouldn't surprise you nor spoil anything for you as a reader for me to tell you that what you will be reading in this series of novels is a description of a virtually complete societal collapse as a result of the collapse of the U.S. economy. Essentially, the author will describe how some very well-timed terrorist attacks are utilized when the country is already at the brink in order to push us past the proverbial flashpoint and cause a virtually complete collapse.

Into this setting, we are introduced to a character named Bishop and his wife. They are residents of the city of Houston (NOTE: the fourth largest city in the country is a bad place to be when society falls apart) at the time of the collapse, and the early parts of the story revolve around their attempt to remain in their suburban neighborhood and ride out the disaster with their neighbors as everything around them dissolves into violence and anarchy. Needless to say, they eventually realize that the situation is completely untenable, and so they decide to make a run for some land that Bishop inherited in far-off West Texas with the supplies they are able to fit into their pickup truck with an installed camper top. This novel basically tells the story of their journey to try to reach their bug-out location across a Texas where the rule of law and order is no longer present.

Gotta say, after finishing this first novel, I'm definitely a fan and looking forward to the second book in the series. Interestingly, the author even managed to work in certain details that speak to the mind of those of us who consider ourselves Preppers / Survivalists, like the fact that one very rural community near their West Texas destination actually seems to have fared much better as TSHTF around them, even managing to form a barter economy to keep things going. Based off of this first novel in the series, I would definitely recommend these books. More to come as I continue reading and reviewing.


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01 June, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: "Mad Max: Fury Road" (2015)

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With respect to my Doomer Fiction movie review this week, I decided to actually enjoy a little time out with a friend and do something more current with "Mad Max: Fury Road" (2015) Blu-ray (DVD version). As Preppers / Survivalism proponents, I'm wagering that most of you have seen the previous installments in this movie franchise of which this is the fourth film. The earlier films are considered classics in our little subgenre, though I'll admit they probably aren't for everybody. In essence, they depict different time periods in a post-apocalyptic Australia, where society has completely collapsed into a violent, anarchy-laden TEOTWAWKI landscape as the result of a non-specified disaster. That being said, it's pretty obvious that environmental threats such as climate change have ostensibly played a role as well as peak oil and other resource depletion, evidenced by the fact that gasoline is pretty much considered a form of currency and something that wars are fought over in the universe of these films.

It is never expressly stated, but interviews with the filmmaker during the release publicity tour have led many to believe that this most recent film – featuring a completely post-apocalyptic setting – isn't really the reboot it might seem. The original Mad Max film from 1979, for instance, depicted a world in serious decline where the rule of law and order was beginning to break down and violence was becoming more rampant; it was not, however, either complete TEOTWAWKI or a landscape so completely different from what we today might recognize as seen in the later films. This one, on the other hand, jumps straight to featuring a 30-something year old Max in a much-changed world where society has completely fallen apart and the landscape is ruled instead by vicious warlords who hold people in their sway through a tyrannical system of water and food rationing. Long story short: many now believe that the first film in the series is meant to be viewed as occurring in the near future, the second and third films occurring near each other in the timeline about 15 years after the original, and this one actually occurring 30 years after those... which would mean that the Mad Max in this film is a completely different individual from the original, perhaps even being the adult version of the feral child character from the earlier films who has grown up seeing Max as a hero and assuming his name. Now, for what it's worth, that may be complete bullsh*t fan speculation, but I really like the synchronicity and continuity of looking at it that way. YMMV.



The theory described above would go a long way toward explaining why the setting is so bleak, and describing it as post-apocalyptic couldn't possibly be more true. The landscape is, basically, parched desert as far as the eye can see with the viewer eventually being shown a glance of fetid swamp lands with what is described as poisonous ground, where nothing will grow. Also, as might be expected in a situation where the collapse of society occurred some time ago, what appear to be separate warlords have arisen, who apparently have their own separate territories, but also have some sort of treaty system in place where they can call upon each other for assistance in the event of an emergency. The culture and belief system in place also seems to be an odd mish-mash of real-world historical warrior cultures that the tyrants in charge have apparently built up, thus creating a strange combined form of mythology and religion that helps to ensure young warriors are willing to fight and die for them. That kind of society doesn't rise overnight, as those of us who are preparing for darker times are no doubt already aware, so it makes sense to think of this film as further into the continuity of the franchise, rather than a simple reboot.

However you choose to look at it, though, it's definitely a fun ride. To be brutally honest, I was not excited by the prospect when I first learned they were shooting a fourth film in the franchise that was being envisioned as a reboot. That was over a year ago, and my opinion had not changed. Prior to the films actual release, however, I started hearing some very good things, and so when my friend invited me to tag along I went with it, and I ended up being very glad that I did. My honest No-BS assessment is that "Mad Max: Fury Road" (2015) is actually one of the better pure action films to be released in many years. It's essentially a two-hour long car chase and adrenaline ride that is definitely worth the price of admission.




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