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Field Guide to the Apocalypse (2005)

Meghann Marco

(Buy this book)

It's always inspiring when someone you know gets her very own ISBN, especially if it's for a book that's funny, even moreso if it's intentionally funny. After watching scads of end-of-the-world flicks, Meghann Marco (of, wtf) has written the book that is bound to continue to inspire even after our planet's doomsday -- I predict it will inspire fights to the death among the coming apocalypse's more intelligent would-be survivors (i.e., those outside of Tim LaHaye's readership).

(Not that I'm all that bright myself; I needed to have the cover art explained to me. I thought it was a representation of a smoky explosion. It's actually a representation of the cover of a book that has survived the apocalypse. DUH. I dumb. I was probably too busy running my fingers over the cover's irresistible embossed letters, like some toothless, dumbstruck hillbilly. Bumpy booooooooook, yeeeee-ip-eeeeee.)

Though it's inspired by films, Meghann's book is packed surprisingly full of Actual Information, some of which doesn't even have to wait for the Apocalypse in order to be true. For example, though she's talking about survival in Arctic conditions, "a lot of work means a lot of death" (114) is undeniable by anyone who's ever done much of it. At least one tip has clearly been studied by the U.S. military:

"If you don't understand what the informant is saying, keep kneeing him in the stomach until he says, `Okay, okay, okay' and speaks English. Everybody speaks English if you knee them in the stomach enough." (142)

Things I learned from Field Guide to the Apocalypse:

Rotary phones are still sold at Pottery Barn.

There is a place called Pottery Barn.

Vaccination is derived from the Latin word for cow, vaca.

(Which, I'm sure you instantly realized, means that vaccination is an etymological cousin of buckaroo [Sp. vaquero > Sp. vaca > Lat. vacca]. Wow. WOW. Ka-thunk. Also, did you know that the Romans had an expression, Vacca, vacca, vacca, which was meant to signify who knows what?)

Words I had to look up


(James, that is -- the Richard Chamberlain of slightly-better-than-Richard-Chamberlain-would-be-cast-in movies)

Best quiz of all-time, ever:

How l33t are you?

That baby was:
(a) cute
(b) annoying
(c) pwn3d

Score: What kind of noob takes a quiz to test his l33tness? stfu. (148)

Favorite tips:

"Poisonous bites look different from nonpoisonous ones. You will usually see fang punctures, accompanied by such symptoms as pain around the bite, swelling, itching . . . or the death of the person who was bitten just before you were." (111)

"[A]lways carry a lighter so that you can light a lady's cigarette while saying something snappy to her emasculated date." (134)

"Cover yourself completely in dogs and children." (182)

"In cyberspace you will be known only by your handle. You must choose this wisely. It should be intimidating but not over-the-top or heavy-handed. LordDeathCypher is a bit much -- especially if your balls haven't dropped." (147)

"You should be silent and cool to cover up your lack of social graces. Or lack of acting talent. Not mentioning any names. (147)

"Don't have a huge can of fruit cocktail for dinner. You don't need that much fruit cocktail." (48)

"Painkillers: This is a good idea not only for your own personal use, but in case Courtney Love shows up." (97)

Funniest footnote in the book:

"Fucking Chuck Norris." (177n)

Funniest sentence:

[On Ash from Alien:] "He was programmed to let the crew die. He didn't even let it bother him. He was like, Whatever, I'm a hobbit. Ctrl Alt Delete. (166)

(Runnerup: "I'm not a clone, but that guy is!") (143)

Scariest footnote:

"In the future all stadiums will be Yankee Stadium." (12n)

Scariest sentence:

The quotation from Thomson's "The City of Dreadful Night" (128) (because hardly anyone quotes that poem, maybe because they fear what may be the most horrifying stanza in all of poemdom)
(Runner-up: Any sentence in which Jude Law is mentioned by name, even in jest.)

Mightiest author bio line in ages:

"Meghann invites fans to stay tuned for Field Guide to the Apocalypse: Special Edition in which the word fuck will be replaced with little pictures of walkie-talkies." (204)

Sorry, Amazon; not by Bugatto, Dominic -- only the illustrations are.
(Also, as of 26may2005, Amazon still has the wrong book cover illustration online. You GO, Amazon.)