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Meatpaper Issue 8
Meatpaper Issue 8

Let's just get this out of the way right now: I love Meatpaper! I've been a subscriber since the beginning and read every issue cover to cover. The latest edition is another example of high quality writing and excellent photography.

Content: 55/60

There are a few articles here that really made me think. In particular, I enjoyed Heather Smith's discussion in A Modest Proposal: A Selective History of Telling People What to Eat. This delves into the essence of Don't Yuck My Yum: How meat eaters and vegetarians feel threatened by each other. Her article on hot dogs is also worth a read.

Meatpaper is not just about the consumption of meat, but rather fleischgeist:

Fleisch•geist (flish'gist') n. From the German, Fleisch “meat” + Geist “spirit.” Spirit of the meat. From Zeitgeist, “spirit of the times.”

This spirit includes articles on how bulls are enticed into participating in artificial insemination, hunting with eskimos and taxidermy. This issue misses the perfect mark for the article on the shock value of certain food TV shows. I feel the author really stretches to make the facts fit the theory. Oh, and my usual complaint about Meatpaper: It's too short!

Quality: 18/20

As usual, this is a well crafted publication that is artfully assembled. Given the wide range of styles, this could easily have been garish and jarring. But they pull it off well. My only complaint is the lack of captions on nearly all photos. Sure, I can infer meaning from the accompanying copy, but I'd like some specifics.

Food Porn: 18/20

There is always some seriously good photos in this magazine, but this issue does not have as many good money shots. About the only one is on the end papers. Mmmm, pancetta. The carving up of the whale blubber kind of killed my appetite, though.

Recipes: 0/0

No recipes, but that's OK. Meatpaper isn't a cooking magazine.

Final Score: 91/100 (A-)

Night of the Living Dead
Night of the Living Dead

Directed by George A. Romero

Update: Saw this moving again for the umpteenth time. It keeps getting better with each viewing.

George is a post-SHTF Ken Burns. He has thoroughly documented the course of events that led to the end of the old world and on into the establishment of a new one. While he has made many masterful movies, this one, by far, is the best. It documents the period when the public at large became aware of the problem through to the first inklings of what to do about it.

Romero's genius is such that I can easily overlook the liberties he has taken. For example, the use of tools by zombies to get at the living, their fear of fire and the eating of flesh other than human. While there is still debate on these topics in the academic study of the undead, they play just a minor role in the movie. The true worth of this piece lies in the characters, for they run the gamut of the typical personalities prevalent during the catastrophe.


The Catatonic

They're coming to get you, Barbara!

Barbara is a woman who's mental map is completely out of sync with the real world. She will die unless she either snaps out of it or has someone to take care of her.

Therein lies the moral conundrum: Taking care of her will surely reduce your chances of survival. Not doing so makes you a passive accomplice to her death.


The Leader

Don't you know what's goin' on out there? This is no Sunday School picnic!

Unlike Barbara, Ben quickly came to terms with what is happening and is willing to do what it takes, rationally, to survive. He's the kind of guy you want to team up with in a crisis. Alas, he clearly demonstrates that no matter how well you have your shit together, survival is never 100% certain. One little slip or piece of bad luck is enough to kill you.

Harry Cooper
Harry Cooper

The Ass Hole

We'll see, when they come begging me to let them in down here.

I understand that his motivation is to save his family, but he is too narrowly focused on the immediate issue and is unwilling to consider options offered by others. Sometimes long term survival requires you to take the riskier option now. Likewise, you have to constantly re-evaluate your options and adjust your plans as new information comes to light.

I feel for Harry Cooper. I certainly would have behaved differently if I had been with my family during the crisis. I dare say that I may not have survived for some of the same reasons that doomed him.

Helen Cooper
Helen Cooper

The Mother

We may not enjoy living together, but dying together isn't going to solve anything.

My sympathies lie with this character. She has her head in the right place, is willing to help and soothes those – like Barbara – who are having problems coming to terms with reality. I want her on my team. The very thing, probably, that gives her this strength, though, is what leads to her downfall: her child. You cannot ask her to take the rational action. That would be too much.


The Follower

Well... the television said that's the right thing to do.

Tom wants to do the right thing, he just can't figure out what that is for himself. He NEEDS a leader. I wouldn't want to team up with him if it was just the two of us because I cannot afford the time and effort it would take to tell him everything. However, in a large enough group, he would be quite useful. He's a hard worker with a strong back, he just ain't that smart.


The Hottie

You gonna let them get her too, huh?

This character comes in many variants, but Judy is the benign type. In general, she isn't a negative presence on the team. She assists where she can and it helps that she already has a mate. I've seen teams ripped apart by the competition to bed an available woman.

Like Helen Cooper, Judy suffers a brutal death because she let her emotions cloud her judgement. Unlike Helen, however, it truly was an irrational act. She was too young to know better.

Karen Cooper
Karen Cooper

The Kid

I hurt.

This is a true nightmare: An infected child. You know what needs to be done, but who is cold enough to shoot a kid in the head? You certainly cannot ask the parents, though I have witnessed cases where one has done so and then turned the gun on themselves. I have euthanized kids in this condition and it haunts me still. Even today, I avoid babies and little children.

The berieved will have to forego the dubious comforts a funeral service will give. They're just dead flesh and dangerous.

It is possible to survive on your own for short periods of time. However, you will eventually need a team, if only to allow you to get some real rest. Assembling a team, though, is not like picking sides in kickball. They coalesce somewhat randomly and it's not always possible, or ethical, to pick and choose who to include or not. Romero cleverly demonstrates this in a small, Pennsylvanian farm house.

If you haven't seen this movie, do so now!

Last year, I wrote about the timeline and life cycle of a TEotWaWKI event. I'd like to provide a more depth to this.

The first ingredient to any end of the world scenario is the affected population. This could range from a single individual all the way up to the human race. Whose world is ending? In this approach, nearly every story has a TEotWaWKI element to it. Not only that, but every individual proceeds through the course of events at their own pace.

The other main ingredient is an event that changes the rules by which the affected population lives. It could be the diagnosis of cancer in a spouse or the start of a nuclear war. The key is that the phenomenon is one that requires those impacted to rediscover how to survive in this world. As an added complication, multiple events may be in play at once either through the first event triggering others or just plain bad luck.

So, to assess the state of the TEotWaWKI, you must ask the following questions on a continual basis:

TEotWaWKI States
TEotWaWKI States
    1. Is there an event?

The event could cease to be an issue for no apparent reason whatsoever. However, that may just uncover a new event that's about to wreak havoc.

    1. Is the affected population aware of the event?

While, effectively, for the world at large, this is no different than no event at all, it makes for a great story and after-the-fact second guessing. "If only..."

    1. Do those impacted know what the problem is?

The level of fear is several orders of magnitude greater if you have no idea what you're facing or how to deal with it.

    1. Do they know how to solve it?

Just because you know what to do doesn't mean you know how to d o it or that you even have the capacity to act.

  1. Do they succeed?
TEotWaWKI State Transitions
TEotWaWKI State Transitions

When you have multiple such events, the one in the most critical state is what monopolizes people's attention. This is indicated by the state with the highest number.

For example, human society understands the problem of the dead rising to eat the living and are working toward a resolution. However, all of those responsible for maintaining the world's nuclear power plants have been zombified, so the world is annihilated when those plants melt down.

While the specifics vary greatly within the context of the event in question, in general, the transition events fall into these categories:

    • Trigger

The event is born.

    • Crisis

The event has busted loose.

    • Knowledge

The problem is understood and possible solutions may be implemented.

    • Resolution

The world returns to normality.

    • Apocalypse

The world ends in a big bang.

    • Failure

The world ends in a whimper.

Wheels within Wheels

This can get quite complex if you think of every single person cycling through this state machine. Individual's awareness of the problem and how to solve it varies. Indeed, the problems themselves vary for each person. The deft story-teller will weave multiple threads form an astounding, yet believable tale.

Guapo's Fried Yucca
Guapo's Fried Yucca

How about lunch at Guapo's? That used to be an easy yes for me. I could eat their rotisserie chicken and fried yucca on a regular basis. The perfectly roasted chicken is juicy with a nicely seasoned, salty skin. The yucca, right out of the fryer, almost too hot to handle, is what a french fry yearns to be. This alone makes the trip worthwhile, but the menu is packed with excellent dishes. Their steak and pork ribs are tasty. They have a half way decent huevos rancheros, which is hard to find around here, especially as a non-breakfast item. Heck, even their steak and cheese sandwich is excellent.

Guapos Rotisserie Chicken
Guapos Rotisserie Chicken

I have been to their two locations in Manassass, both serve equally good food, but I find the ambiance at their Sudley road place to be calmer, not as elbow-to-elbow. It's a tad pricey for a place where you order and pick up your food from the counter, but, truly, this is worth it.

While up in the Rockville area, looking for a place to eat lunch during my work day, I stumble upon another Guapo's location. Goaded on by the ravenous growling of my stomach, my head filled with visions of poultry-flavored paradise, I open the door. I don't see a counter to place my order. A hostess offers to seat me. Confusedly, I follow her, slightly worried that I'm not smelling any chicken roasting. I flip through the menu, confirming my fears. They don't have chicken, steak or even yucca fries!! My only options are generic Tex-Mex with the requisite beans and cheese. Nothing you can't get at any number of chain restaurants in the region.

WTF? I look on their website, and learn that, indeed, there are two types of Guapos. Some marketing genius decided that, though they are different, they should be branded the same. Doesn't help that the naming of the types is confusing, too. The Tex-Mex Grills restaurants are the rotisserie locations, while the Fine Mexican Cuisine Restaurants serve Tex-Mex food. It also doesn't help that each location's signage uses a different vocabulary.

Long story short:

  1. Rotisserie (Herndon, Manassass and Woordbridge):
    Definitely worth a visit. Every item on the menu is good.
  2. Fine Mexican Cuisine (Maryland, DC and Arlington):
    I suppose, if you're a big fan of Tex-Mex and you have no other place to try.

How about lunch at Guapo's? Which one?



Designed by Todd Breitenstein, published by Twilight Creations, Inc.

I take it as a good sign that a game such as this is no longer considered to be in bad taste. We've moved on from the Zombie Wars enough so that we can view some of the events tongue in cheek. And now we can game them.

Zombies!!! has 2 to 6 players vying to be the first one to the helicopter pad in order to make an escape. Between you and safety, though, are a horde of the undead and your opponents. Just because this is no longer in bad taste, though, doesn't make it a good game. I have some serious problems with it.

The designer brings some innovative ideas to the table. The board starts with just one tile that makes up the city center. Each turn, a player draws a new tile and uses it to build out the city. Towards the end of the deck is the helicopter pad. Once that is revealed and placed, it's a race to the finish. And therein lies the problem. In addition to the tiles, each player has a hand of event cards that either help you or hurt your opponents. You would think that the race to the helicopter is the end game, but, in fact, it was just the half way point. Those event cards make it nigh on impossible to finish. I enjoyed, barely, the one game I played, but no more.

The other problem I had with the game is that it imparts the wrong lessons. I don't care what is in a hospital, police or fire station. During an outbreak, I would never even approach those locations. Also, while I agree that healthy humans of nefarious intent are a far greater menace than the undead, a trustworthy ally is invaluable. In this game, not only do you have no incentive to help others, it's actually in your best interest to see them become the next course on the all-you-can-eat zombie buffet. Ultimately, this is why I've given this game a low rating.

What? This is supposed to be just a game? OK, I guess. Perhaps I haven't moved on.

This is a piece I wrote in the summer of 2003 after a series of burger catastrophes. My opinions have evolved since then and I have started to grind my own meat, which adds a whole new dimension to burger thought.

I'm open to a wide variety of options for hamburgers. And whatever you like, well, it's your stomach, so that's up to you. However, there are some immutable laws that apply to this paradise on a bun.

The juicier the better, so fat is good! Ground sirloin makes for an incredibly dry burger. You could get away with ground round, but I reccomend using ground chuck. If you're worried about your weight, then you shouldn't be eating hamburgers in the first place. Do it right or don't do it at all!

Hear, hear! You still can't go wrong with ground chuck. If you're grinding your own meat, though, I would combine it with other cuts like brisket, short rib or even bacon. Yes, that's right, grind the bacon right into that patty.

The bun counts. You're looking for a careful balance. Not enough structual integrity makes for a disaster as the burger disintigrates. Too tough a bread, and everything goes squishing out the sides. You can use onion rolls, whole grain breads, or whatever suits your fancy as long as you pay attention to the architecture.

I have since tried a variety of other breads. Pita doesn't work. I tried it with a lamb and feta burger. It was quite tasty, but absolutely fell apart once the bread was saturated. Use a tortilla or Afghan bread instead. A baguette is border-line: The fresher it is, the softer the bread, the better it works.

Give me pickle slices, not spears. I want the darn things in my burger. The vinigar and other flavors really add to the beef.

I remember when this first happened and it still occurs. WTF? I asked for pickles ON my burger!

Offer me onions. You may not want them, but I believe that a burger without the crunch and zing of a raw onion is a waste of time.

This only happens when I'm having a burger at someone's house and that someone is an alliumphobe. I try not to associate with these types, but it's hard to pick them out.

No mention of how the patty is cooked? What was I thinking? I prefer, when given the option, medium rare. However, I realize this is not always possible with certain restaurants. In those cases, I look for a patty with a salty, flavorful crust. The Shake Shack comes to mind.

There are two tests that discern burger greatness. First, is it good with nothing on it? If you'd willingly eat just the patty and the bun, then you have a very good burger. This is where 5 Guys utterly fails and should never be included on any list of great burgers. Second, is it good as a leftover? If it still tastes great the next day – cold – then you have a excellent burger.

I will document my eternal quest for burger perfection. I seek this bliss not just at home — where I experiment with different cuts (and types) of meat and toppings — but also on the road.


World Made by Hand
World Made by Hand

by James Howard Kunstler
My neighbor Jim tipped me off to this book, but only half recommended it. It's a work of fiction written pre-SHTF by an author who wrote several speculative non-fiction works about how the world would probably end. Interestingly enough, the guy never mentioned zombies. It's what you don't expect that always gets you!

The novel takes place in the world Kunstler describes in his book, The Long Emergency. It covers one summer in a small, upstate New York town about a decade after TEotWaWKI.

Jim wasn't big on the book's main character (Robert Earle), believing that a man who -- in my friend's words -- lacked balls would not have lasted long. While my neighbor is correct that how Robert Earle reacted to various events would not have boded well for him in our reality, the world Kunstler describes is quite different. And I'm not talking just about the lack of undead.

First of all, the end came gradually. Over the course of years, through a terrorist nuke here and a decline in trade there, the world just fizzled out (I guess that tells you how bad the Zombie War was if a nuke or two is not that big of a deal). In fact, as Kunstler writes, some even believe that society could return to the old days, if they could just catch a break or two. This contrasts sharply with our reality. It became clear rather quickly -- over the course of just a few days, in fact -- that the old world was dead. Once you've lost such hope, violence becomes easier. If people, even the bad guys, believe that there could be a return, one is more willing to act with restraint.

Another critical difference is that we still retain much of the infrastructure from the old world. Other than that first, hungry winter, food is not an issue. We have a fully functioning electrical grid and an even better medical establishment. In the World Made by Hand, you had to grow your own food, live by the rising and setting of the sun and were probably dead if you encountered a serious medical issue. You could not effectively be a bad guy in that world, at least not extremely evil. You couldn't afford to get hurt in an encounter. Also, it was much more efficient to trade for food or grow it yourself than it is to steal it, at least in the long run.

I did thoroughly enjoy this book and appreciate the lessons I took from it:

  1. You should live on fecund land: something with good soil, easy access to water and hunting/fishing grounds.
  2. You should have practical skills: anything that allows you to build/maintain stuff or something in the healing arts.
  3. You need a functioning society, adherence to the rule of law.

This book has lessons worth learning.

An interesting coincidence: The author makes reference to a deadly flu pandemic originating in Mexico, years before this event actually happened.

I go in to great detail after the jump, including a description of what I would do differently, but beware, there are SPOILERS:
...continue reading "TEotWaWKI Book Review: World Made by Hand"


We are so focused on the zombie threat — even though the war effectively ended nearly a decade ago and we have not had a serious outbreak in several years — that we can forget that the undead are not all that could threaten our survival. I have may eyes on Mexico at the moment and the reports of a thousand plus cases of flu that are affecting not just the young, old and those with compromised immune systems, but also healthy adult. It appears to be spreading to the north.

I can fight a zombie; germs, not so much.

The New York Times has a good summary of the current situation: As Nations Try to Contain Flu, N.Y. Cases Are Confirmed.


Today's good weather should be enough to finally thaw out any remaining undead out there. Double check your defenses and make sure your have enough ammo on hand.

Just saying.

UPDATE: The folks at the Zombie Research Society are a great source of insightful information. I particularly value their studies of zombie (un)biology.

The Undead, Zombie Anthology
The Undead, Zombie Anthology

Edited by D.L. Snell & Elijah Hall

This book is a collection of short stories written before and after SHTF. While I have been unable to confirm it, some of the post-SHTF stories appear to be factual accounts. Those are the ones worth reading. David Wellington's story about the zombie giant squid in Chuy and the Fish scared the crap out of me. I've heard stories of the Solanum virus jumping species (and of course that pre-war event documented in the movie Quarantine), but this is the first confirmation that it has happened. Hopefully, it's an isolated case.

Also worth reading is Ann at Twilight. Brent Zirnheld documents the case of a blind woman's experiences during the war. While the author was unable to determine if she survived, it would not surprise me if she did.

However, most of the rest demonstrates a sad fact of pre-SHTF zombie fiction: The demand for zombie stories far outstripped the supply. It didn't take any skill to get anything published. David Moody is the classic example. His work reads like a sixth grader's social studies report.

If you don't have anything better to read, then do pick this one up. Just be selective of what you read and not too credulous. There are good lessons among the bad advice.