Friday, October 29, 2010

Reverend Joseph Goiffon, Hero

The nip of fall is in the air and off on the horizon the darkening clouds gather, plotting cataclysmic hailstorms, squalls, and blizzards. Yes, my friends, winter storm season is upon us. The lazy debauch of summer with its sickening golden hue is a mere memory. Nights are lengthening, flowers are dying, and rodents are scurrying for their rodent holes. Oh, happy day!

Along with the triumphal changing of the seasons, a sensational true story--a most fulfilling scrap of history, a 16 oz ribeye of knowledge--arrived on COACISSW's doorstep courtesy of friend-of-the-blog GregLog. It's a tale of survival and redemption. A man of God facing the raw power of nature and emerging with three of four limbs.

It takes place in 19th Century America: a time when lonely pilgrims braved the raging snows of the high plains with nothing but a horse and their steely will for company; a time when men's brows were bushy with virility and their lips were thin with resolve; and a time when fiery-spirited settlers of the frontier cut open animals and crawled inside to survive storms in the wild. Put yourself there, dear reader. Let your mind travel back to those simpler days. Feel the itch of your woolen long johns and the weight of the knife on your belt. Test your voice: it booms with strength. Gather your eyebrows together and let the bristles connect--how bushy they are! Peer out from beneath them. Make your gaze as flinty as a bear trap. Fill your powerful lungs with crisp clean prairie air and read on, my friends, read on.

"In late August of 1860 Father Joseph Goiffon received a letter from the Vicar General requesting him to travel to St. Paul and to meet with him. Father Goiffon was disturbed by the summons because he feared that he would not be able to return to Pembina (his parish in the great survivalist state of North Dakota) before winter. He left Pembina quickly by oxcart train and arrived in St. Paul in September. The train was to return to Pembina during the first week of October. Father Goiffon thought that he would be ready to return with his friends but he was delayed. He left St. Paul a few days later and hoped to join up with the oxcart train. On November 1 he reached the Great Salt River beyond the present City of Grand Forks and spent the night with other travelers who were encamped there. They urged him to wait until the rain would stop. The winter cold was also beginning to set in. But Father Goiffon was anxious to reach his parish and went ahead by himself on the horse which he had purchased while in St. Paul. The rain turned to snow and quickly both horse and man became hopelessly lost. The horse died in the bad storm, and TO SAVE HIS OWN LIFE THE PRIEST CUT OPEN THE CARCASS AND CRAWLED INSIDE. When Father Goiffon was found he was still alive but one leg was badly frozen."

-from The Michel Houle Family of Centreville, by Bruce Houle (Croixside Press)

Again, big thanks to GregLog for sharing the above text and image.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Taking a Political Stand

Generally, when I sense politics approaching I reach for my blade. I live by the rule of the jungle and the only taxes I pay are are the scraps of meat I'm too full to eat after a fresh kill. I don't support either party or follow the issues (except when education comes up I make sure to mention how negligent our schools are in teaching proper trap-setting and lair-making techniques.)

However, after reflecting on the grizzly-bear-sized sloth and the giant-whale-eating whale, I'm prepared to come out and take what I believe to be an important political stand: I fully support any and all using-prehistoric-animal-DNA-found-in-preserved-mosquitoes-to-bring-said-prehistoric-animal-back-to-life research.

I've looked at the issue carefully from all sides. I watched Jurassic Park three times. I spoke to several amateur zoologists. And every which way I look at it, the benefits far outweigh the risks. Sure, the thought of a ten ton T Rex ravaging Manhattan is frightening, but it would be a tremedous learning moment for the legions of city dwellers who have forgotten the potency of mother nature's wrath. And think of the countless lives that will be saved from storms in the wild by the new bounty of massive chest cavities.

I hope you will join me. Write your senators. Approach them aggressively. Corner them and make sure they understand the importance of using-prehistoric-animal-DNA-found-in-preserved-mosquitoes-to-bring-said-prehistoric-animals-back-to-life (UPADFPMBSPA). Whichever party presents the stronger UPADFPMBSPA bill will certainly have my vote this fall and will probably win the day in these sharply divided times.

Together we can dramatically improve humanity's chances of surviving a storm in the wild.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Grizzly-Bear-Sized Sloth

Do you ever get the feeling life was better one and a half million years ago? I do.

Today, southern Los Angeles is a wasteland of strip malls, amusement parks, and fast food restaurants. To survive in the wild there all you need is $7 and no soul. But, one and a half million years ago this was the home of the grizzly-bear-sized sloth.

Imagine, if you will, wandering through the "moist and lush" Irvingtonian period, lost somewhere between Riverside and Upland, armed with nothing but a broadsword, hacking through ferns as an epic storm roils on the horizon.

You are seeking shelter. You are pitting your wits against the cold steely will of Mother Nature. Your resolve is as firm as your well-muscled torso. And, what do you see, hanging from a tree, fast asleep in its warm woolly hide? A sloth the size of a grizzly bear. Just waiting, waiting, to be cut open and crawled inside to survive a storm in the wild.

Monday, August 16, 2010


As Dunncle Sam noted in one of his insightful comments about using smaller animals as bait to attract larger animals which you can cut open and crawl inside to survive a storm in the wild, "whales are the 'white whale' of any COACISSWer." Their massive chest cavity, protective layer of blubber, and structural stability make them nature's greatest gift to the stranded survivalist. I suspect that even after the storm abates and the singing of birds can be heard in the trees, one would be tempted to wile away a few more hours inside the noble beast. However, like most truly great things, whales are elusive.

Hunting one down with merely the knife and floaties I bring on every expedition is a daunting task indeed. Whales are nearly impossible to catch in their own habitat. Though we are both mammals, their swimming ability is far more advanced than ours. Many times I've spotted a whale and leapt into the ocean only to lose it in the ensuing chase.

Thus, the primary way a whale is useful to a survivalist is if it's already beached. Whales generally perish in prolonged battles with giant squid (see below for a helpful illustration tattooed on some dude's arm) and sometimes wash up on land in the turbulent hours preceding a storm. But Poseidon is fickle. I urge you not to spend your final minutes 'neath the darkening sky waiting for him to deliver you a whale. Pursue a land beast, but keep an eye to the sea. Hope is the survivalist's most powerful tool.

Tattoo by Luca Natalini

Sunday, August 15, 2010


The main thing to beware of, when cutting open penguins and crawling inside to survive a storm in the wild, is whimsy. Penguins are very whimsical creatures. They wear suits. They toddle around, waggling their heads back and forth. They like to slide down hills. It's easy to get carried away and lose focus--focus necessary for survival. Instead of dragging your penguin fort to a protected area like you should as the storm approaches, you start thinking how funny it is that penguins wear suits and you're wearing a suit of penguins. Then you make a comical gesture or two with a flipper, pretending you're at a cocktail party with George Plimpton and you just said something tremendously witty. Next thing you know you're ignoring the storm altogether, sliding down a hill and BAM--struck by lightning. Game over.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Selecting a Blade

The second most important tool to bring into the wild (after a steely will) is a quality blade. Loyal readers will have noted a disparity between the sizes of blades used to cut open an animal before crawling inside to survive a storm in the wild. Simon, from The Last Crossing, drove his "sixteen-inch blade into the horse's chest" and used it to saw "the belly down to the legs." Essentially he unsheathed his pirate sword and went to work, hacking and sawing. Bear, on the other hand, used a slightly overgrown pocketknife, valuing precision over brute force as he separated the camel's innards from the camel.

Whenever I embark on an expedition I'm faced with my own conflicting desires for a blade small enough to hurl end-over-end at trees and large enough to wave through the air with a satisfying swish swish. But, as the good people at Survival Topics note, "Choosing the right survival knife is more than an exercise in individuality--your very life may hinge upon its proper selection."

In general, I suggest a full tang, drop point blade approximately six-inches long that has been tested to cut through airplanes and oil drums (knife manufacturers presumably test on these items because of the large number of consumers who slice their way into and out of airplanes and oil drums each year.) The Becker BK10 is a good example. Fallkniven also makes an excellent model. But, ultimately, the choice is yours. Your knife should make you happy and confident, whether you're wandering the aisles of your local grocery store, secure in the knowledge that you could slice that can of chili clean in half, or if you're stranded in the wild, a storm brewing, surveying the carcass of a moose for an entry point.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Giant Catfish

As an American, I've long underestimated freshwater fish. While delicious, the trout and salmon that populate our rivers are small and floppy.

So it was with awe that I viewed the above picture. The giant catfish is truly a behemoth of the stream. Growing up to ten feet long and weighing almost a ton, they are ideal to cut open and crawl inside to survive a storm in the wild. I'm already planning an ill-prepared trip to the Mekong during monsoon season.

However, no sooner do I learn of this great fish's existence, than I learn that it's endangered. The Chinese government plans to dam up the Mekong to feed their insatiable lust for 24 hour discotheques and laser gloves. The giant catfish is to0 large to go over the dam (though I wonder if perhaps it could just smash through) and would not be able to spawn.

We at COACISSW need to stand together to protect this fish (and what I have to assume is a truly spectacular spawning process). As I noted in the giant whale-eating whale post, too many of the best animals to cut open and crawl inside to survive a storm in the wild are already extinct.

Not one more! I say.

I've been angry with the Chinese government for the past few years because of how scared they made me of the Olympics, but this really crosses the line.

But there's hope. They won't be able to dam the river if the river is full of Americans. Bring your boats, jet boats, jet skis, submarines, hover boats, knee boards, fishing gear, spear guns, air rifles, Bud Light Lime, beads, American flag bikinis, and classic rock mixes. Let's turn the Mekong into the Havasu of the east. No need to pack any food, there will be plenty of catfish to go around.

And if a storm comes up, just cast your line into the water and wait for sweet slippery salvation.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Falkor the Luckdragon

Luckdragons elongated bodies allow them to swim through the air. Covered in scales and fur, they remain in constant motion, wriggling like a snake when they fly.

This elongated body also makes them an ideal candidate for cutting open and crawling inside to survive a storm in the wild, particularly if you are stranded with a large group of children. Only three or four adults can fit inside lying down, however, ten to fifteen children can form a standing line in the beasts lengthy chest cavity.

Falkor in particular is trusting of human children. Thus, if you get lost taking a class of kindergarteners to search for Uyulala the Southern Oracle, and a storm that may or may not be the work of the evil sorceress Xayide is rolling in from the north, have one of them summon Falkor.

With luck, he will find you, and when he does, his luck will run out. Use a long serrated blade to saw him open from chin to tail. Work fast, this will be a traumatic moment for the kids. Consider distracting them by pretending that a rock in the distance is the werewolf Gmork coming to steal their souls.

After the incision is made, remove the guts and herd the children inside. The storm will abate and Xayide will pass over you none the wiser.

A note of caution: children love luckdragons. They might try to avenge Falkor's death. Be particularly wary of a shy bookish boy named Bastian. He has a magic amulet and gets a little crazy.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Honey Badger

The Guinness Book of World Records named the honey badger the world's bravest animal. After watching the above video, I've decided it's just as idiotic as Guinness's other records, like most pirate garbed people in one place or longest leg hair. Sure, honey badgers are brave but they're stupid brave. Brave like punching the biggest guy in the bar just because he's the biggest guy in the bar or eating a jar of expired mayonnaise because your bros dared you to.

It's a classic case of New Jersey brave. Honey badgers snarl around being greasy and picking fights with everyone. They're the guidos of the animal kingdom, making them particularly satisfying to cut open and crawl inside to survive a storm in the wild.

As with real guidos, there's no reason to fight them face to face. Simply wait for them to eat (or drink) something poisonous and pass out. In this case, track the honey badger until it eats a puff adder. Then, when it's out cold in a deathlike fetal position, much like the guy who ate the expired mayo, you can take your time cutting it open and crawling inside.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Lake Monsters

Debate over the existence of lake monsters continues to rage in the academic community. Zoologists spend most of their careers traveling from lake to lake, sitting in small boats late at night, studying dark shapes in grainy photographs, and interviewing strange villagers with terrible secrets.

After spending the Greatest Non Jesus Related Day of the Year at a lake, I can report once-and-for-all that they do exist because I saw not one, but TWO lake monsters. I was out on the dock. It was late. I was surrounded by empty cans of Bud Light Lime and spent explosives, thinking happy thoughts about cavernous chest cavities, when I saw a large ominous shape rising out of the water in the distance. A second later I realized its mirror image was rising out of the water just a few feet to the right. I saw a long neck, a huge body, and I got the distinct impression of fangs.

Once an animal has been discovered, the next logical step is to cut it open and crawl inside to survive a storm in the wild. I scrabbled around the dock desperately searching for something to fire at it but all our fireworks were used and I'd left my gun on a park bench somewhere. When I turned back, the lake monsters were gone.

Cutting open a lake monster and crawling inside to survive a storm in the wild is not going to be easy. Even with modern technology like tasers, rocket packs, and laser gloves, they are elusive. But if anyone can do it, it's an American. We walked on the moon. We nuked Godzilla. We created Michael Jackson and then destroyed him. We can do this. The hunt is on.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Giant Whale-Eating Whale

Today is a sad day here at COACISSW. With the discovery of the Giant Whale-Eating Whale we were once again reminded that many of the most ideal animals to cut open and crawl inside to survive a storm in the wild are extinct. Woolly mammoths, tyrannosaurs, brontosaurs, and dragons are all gone while rats, weasels, ferrets, and other essentially useless rodents thrive. I sometimes feel like a survivalist needs a time machine to truly test their mettle.

The Giant Whale-Eating Whale raged through the seas 13 million years ago, devouring other whales and everything else that stood in its path. There was nowhere to hide. Other whales lived in fear, unlike today when they swagger around at the top of the food chain like huge floating Vin Diesels.

The Giant Whale-Eating Whale's skull was ten feet long and packed with razor sharp foot long teeth. Meaning you wouldn't even need to cut it open. You could just crawl right into its mouth. Not that you would. Because that would make you the kind of person that chooses a condo over a log cabin or a Prius over a big American truck with balls hanging off the hitch.

Obviously, the best way to catch it would be to convince it that you're a sperm whale and then, when it comes at you jaws agape, hurl a boulder down its throat. After it chokes to death, cut it open, hop inside, and weather the storm in the comfort of a Giant Whale-Eating Whale.

Monday, June 28, 2010


Normally I'm not a fan of art, but when it reminds me of cutting open an animal and crawling inside to survive a storm in the wild I make an exception. These illustrations by Paul Revie offer a good, if slightly over-whimsical (again:beware the penguins!), reminder of the joyful possibilities of spending time inside a wild animal.

Friday, June 25, 2010


Moose and hippos are nature's killing machines. If Mother Nature were to take out a hit on you, she would send a moose. Moose will stomp you just to watch you die.

On the other hand, the vastness of their chest cavity is nearly unmatched among land animals (whales, of course, being cream of the crop chest-cavity-size-wise), their bulbous snouts make an excellent spot for keeping snacks or babies warm and dry, and, between the months of June and August, they are chock full of moose milk. These factors make them ideal candidates for cutting open and crawling inside to survive a storm in the wild.

Weigh your options carefully before tangling with a moose. Are there several tender fawns nearby? A couple hundred marmots? A bewildered elk? Or any other animal that wasn't specifically designed to crush your face with its giant pendulous hooves? If not, the best way to catch a moose is to tame a wolf pack and sick it on the moose. As you can see in the illustration below, a well-trained wolf pack can easily confuse and take down even the biggest, angriest bull moose.

If you don't have a wolf pack, go for the nose. Moose noses are so sensitive that the pain of a nose wound can paralyze the animal. Thus a truly deft survivalist could bring the great beast down with a single knife throw.

With any luck, you'll spend the storm safe and dry inside nature's killing machine, sipping moose milk like a Russian prince.

Friday, May 28, 2010

On Waking Up in a Post-Apocalyptic Wasteland

Remain calm. Breathe. Can you breathe? If so, be grateful. Things could be worse. Keep breathing. Count your breaths. If you need a moment or two to adjust, crawl back inside the animal and take some 'me' time. Think happy thoughts about happy places, like Narnia or a big box full of baby otters. Avoid thinking about your loved ones. They are probably dead. Or zombies, which is worse.

Once you've settled down, try to piece things together. How long were you inside the animal? Was the storm that led you to cut open the animal and crawl inside to survive a normal thunder-and-lightning type storm, or was it a nuclear-explosion-wrath-of-God-end-of-the-world type storm? Do you remember a blinding flash of light? Did you get the sense that others were being raptured?

After you've come to grips with the fact that life as you know it has ended, it's time to make a plan. Quickly assess what weapons you have on you and what weapons you can make from readily accessible resources, like ribs. Start setting traps. Practice knife throwing. Make yourself a lair. Slather yourself with dirt and look sullenly off into the distance. Allow a single tear to roll down your cheek for all the countless dead.

Now it's time for the most important question of all: are you comfortable eating human flesh? There are certainly going to be roving bands of cannibals stalking the countryside in ragtag convoys bristling with postapocalyptic weaponry, and the biggest decision you need to make is whether to join one of those bands or heroically battle against them until you are, inevitably, eaten.

I can offer little guidance on this except to say that here at COACISSW we feel that joining any group ever is a slippery slope to socialism. And the only thing worse than a postapocalyptic wasteland is a postapocalyptic wasteland full of commies. So my advice is to stay solo. Crouch a lot. Climb trees. Glare at rocks. And if you have to eat someone, eat one of the damn cannibals, because every survivalist knows eating a cannibal isn't cannibalism. It's justice.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Giant Squid

Giant squid live thousands of feet below the ocean's surface where the water pressure would crush a human instantly. They emerge from the abyss for one reason and one reason alone: to battle whales. Giant squid LOVE to battle whales. Therefore, to catch a giant squid you must convince it that you're a whale. Whales communicate over vast distances using extremely low frequencies. I recommend bringing a sonar projector on any expedition that will take you near the ocean. (They are quite heavy and expensive, but someday you'll wake up inside a giant squid and thank me.) When you see a storm brewing, set your sonar projector up on the beach to lure the giant squid out of the briny deep. As soon as you spot the squid, make a series of high-pitched EEEEE noises. This will assure it that there are whales nearby.

The giant squid will retreat as soon as he discovers that you are not a whale, so you don't have much time. Leap into the water with your spear and aim for one of the squid's enormous eyes. They are the proverbial Achilles heel of the giant squid. Drive your spear through the eye and drag the beast ashore. At some point during the struggle you will probably be lifted up by a tentacle and flung a great distance (see illustration below) but, if you have succeeded in landing your spear, this will happen during the death throes and you will return to a calm, dead squid, ready to be cut open and crawled inside to survive a storm in the wild.

Making a Spear

Tie your knife to a stick.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Plea to Anonymous, Part 2

It's been over a week and still no word from Anonymous :( Generally my emotions can be summed up by a well-placed emoticon, but this time it falls far short :'( Even with the tear....

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


The thing about bison, as you can see from the picture above, is that they are gangster. Be careful not to underestimate them. Sure, we've all heard stories about shooting them from trains and running them off cliffs, but those were cheap shots. And the reason bison are prone to cheap shots is, again, because they are gangster. They hang out in the open all day, eating grass and twigs, wallowing in the dirt, and hollerin'. They aren't afraid of shit. Bison expert Jim Pisarowics puts it well when he says, "they usually appear peaceful, unconcerned, even lazy, yet they may attack anything, often without warning or apparent reason." And when they come at you it's at 35 mph with a head the size of a truck engine and two razor sharp horns. In a word: gangster.

The most important thing to remember if you're going to try to cut open a bison and crawl inside to survive a storm in the wild is: bison don't give a fuck. So if you're going to take one down you've got to leave all your fear and khakis and personal issues and love of macchiatos behind. The only way to beat a gangster is to become one. Drink several 40s, blast some Public Enemy, and walk into that field like you own the motherfucking place. Earn their respect and then BAM, out with the knife, and you'll find out how gangster you really are.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Horse, Part 3

A final snippet from the wordsmith Guy Vanderhaeghe. Note the continuation of the womb theme, the evocation of infantile safety, and the celebration of slick, rich animal heat. Vanderhaeghe is an inspiration to all devotees of cutting open animals and crawling inside to survive storms in the wild. His prose is a rallying cry. Every time I read him I want to charge out into the wilderness gleefully ignoring dark clouds and barometric changes.

"Safe in the slick, rich animal heat, out of the cruel wind. Not all of him, but enough. An embryo, curled in the belly of the dead horse."

Monday, May 17, 2010


The icy planet of Hoth is notorious for brutal storms that arise quickly with little warning. Temperatures drop below -60 degrees Celsius and gale force winds rip across the ice-covered plains. Luckily for the many adventurers and rebel alliance commanders who voyage to Hoth to see its legendary ice spires, harvest lumni-spice, and make plans to defeat the Empire, one of the best species of animals to cut open and crawl inside to survive a storm in the wild in the entire universe resides there. I'm referring, of course, to the tauntaun. Tauntauns are omnivorous reptomammals approximately 1.5 meters tall with a roomy chest cavity large enough to comfortably hold at least one full grown jedi. But, as Wookiepedia notes, "the most important feature of tauntaun physiology is their unique blood mixture that is resistant to tundra winds and keeps their organs from freezing." Essentially they are extra warmblooded, meaning that crawling inside a tauntaun is a bit like crawling into a hot tub. A hot tub full of, as Luke discovers, stinking "translucent white sausage like innards."

Sunday, May 16, 2010


If your knife was stolen by a bandit and your backup knife is lodged in the sternum of another bandit and the knife you keep in your boot fell out when you ran from the bandits, and a storm is coming and you're stranded in the wild, then you need to find a marsupial. Marsupials are God's gift to the knifeless survivalist. No need to cut them open, just crawl inside their pouch, snuggle up, and wait for the storm to pass. Feel free to poke your head out and survey the scene, like this little joey.

Photo courtesy of fir002

Friday, May 14, 2010

Passing the Time

Storms in the wild can take hours or even days. Thus, after cutting open an animal and crawling inside to survive, you will inevitably be faced with the question: "What do I do now?" The tight space and lack of utilities make many modern activities impossible. However, I do have a few suggestions.

Whittling: whittling is one of my very favorite things to do in the wild. I'm currently working on a small wooden Hunter S. Thompson, waving a nine iron, chasing a small wooden Tom Wolfe. Since you have a knife with you, all you need is wood. And if you forget to grab a few sticks before crawling inside the animal, no worries, cut yourself off a rib (just be sure it's not a load-bearing rib, I suggest the third from the bottom.)

Mani/Pedi: it's a common misconception that survivalism and appendage maintenance are mutually exclusive. Nothing could be further from the truth. Any true woodsman knows that an ingrown hair or nail can be the end of an expedition. I never leave home without my mani/pedi set. It fits comfortably into the side pocket of my day pack and nary an adventure passes where I'm not grateful to have my cuticle hoof and almond milk hand cream. I can't think of a more enjoyable way to spend several hours inside a moose than rejuvenating my feet with a combination of coconut oil, lanolin, and vegetable glycerin.

Heroic fantasies: you're alone, it's dark, it's cold, the winds are howling, but you're ALIVE! Revel in that. Let your mind wander. It's not such a stretch to imagine that the man or woman who cuts open a moose and crawls inside to survive a storm in the wild is also the kind of man or woman who could lead a golden army across the solar system, defeating slime creatures and bacteroids to usher in an era of peace and prosperity the likes of which history has never seen.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Lion (other than Aslan)

Go for it!


I do not recommend attempting to cut open Aslan and crawl inside to survive a storm in the wild. He will probably make your head explode with his supersonic roar or burn your face off with his laser eyes. Plus, if you do succeed, it will mean you are the dark lord and you will be forced to rule over a land where it's "always winter and never Christmas" for all eternity.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Plea to Anonymous

A week ago, COACISSW received the most exciting comment in its turbulent history:

"Anonymous said...
My dad once survived a blizzard by sheltering himself inside of the friendly elk he just killed.
May 4, 2010 12:15 PM"

Succinct, poetic, and exactly why this blog was created in the first place. I've hardly slept since. I reached out to Anonymous, asking if their father would be willing to share his experiences in more detail. There has been no response. I want to bring the issue 'above the fold', in the parlance of that lost art of print journalism, to show Anonymous how important it is to me, to all of us, that their dad share his incredible and surely harrowing story. I understand that the memories may be traumatic, particularly since it was a "friendly" elk (many elk are dicks) but for posterity, for the generations of youngsters looking for a hero from the real world, not the pages of a novel or a television screen, please, for them, tell us what it's really like to cut open an elk and crawl inside to survive a storm in the wild.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Horse, Part 2 (Mother's Day Edition)

This passage by the master Guy Vanderhaeghe, from The Last Crossing, has special resonance today. The rich imagery is both a literal description of surviving a storm in the wild wedged inside a dead horse, and a metaphorical one longing for a return to the safety of the womb. I urge you all to share it with your mother this morning (and perhaps every morning because, really, shouldn't every day be mother's day?) to show your appreciation for the time you spent inside of her and the sacrifices she has made on your behalf. I recommend reading it in a loud clear voice just before brunch is served, while clearly fighting to keep your emotions in check.

"O precious Side-hole's cavity
I want to spend my life in thee...
There in one Side-hole's joy divine,
I'll spend all future days of mine.
Yes, yes, I will for ever sit
There, where thy side was split."

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Some animals will do you no good to cut open and crawl inside to survive a storm in the wild. In fact, there's an entire subphylum of such creatures: crustaceans. Their crunchy exoskeletons crack and chip easily. Their segmented bodies fall apart under duress. They have no souls, so they provide no warmth. (In the past, I've been accused of confusing 'cold-blooded' with 'soulless.' The distinction is still unclear to me.) Plus, look at how disgusting it is to be inside a crab.

If you're stuck in a storm in the wild and a crustacean is your only option, make your peace with God, carve a note (stoic but infused with longing) to your loved ones into a sturdy tree, unsheathe your blade, square your hips, and prepare to face the storm mano a mano.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Special thanks to Sapna, New Media Czar here at COACISSW, for the link. While it is spectacularly informative (particularly the bit about putting your finger over the end of the knife to avoid puncturing the guts) it must be noted that Bear does not actually crawl inside the camel to survive a storm in the wild. It is merely a demonstration. Who knows the high-pitched noises and bowel movements Bear would emit were the sands truly raging outside that cozy carcass. However, he does provide a valuable lead: the berbers. Known for their wandering ways and quick tempers (don't believe me? Try saying something to notable berber Zinedine Zidane about his mother,) they have a long tradition of cutting open camels and crawling inside to survive sand storms. The time may be nigh to track down this ancient people and learn from them what I can.

COACISSW friend Jacob is already planning a trip by camel from Mongolia to England and has generously extended an invitation. To give me the chance to be, in his eloquent words, "the actor in (my) favorite literature." Knowing Jacob, this journey is sure to be rife with disaster, and will more than likely involve getting stranded in the wild in a storm. Has the time already come to, as the saying goes, put up or shut up? To leave the comfortable confines of the blogosphere and venture into the desert? To travel astride a beast which I may, at any moment, have to cut open and crawl inside to survive a storm in the wild? Perhaps. More to come.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Stranded at a stoplight, I spotted several squirrels in a tree. This naturally led to the question of how many squirrels you would need to cut open and crawl inside to survive a storm in the wild. After extensive thought and some good old-fashioned measuring, I came up with 45: 7 per leg, 5 per arm, 15 for the midsection, 5 for the head, and 1 for the groin.

You aren't always going to find a horse, elk, camel, or moose in time before the storm unleashes its fury. It's important to be able to adapt to adversity in the wild. Few things scream 'adapt to adversity' louder than surviving a storm inside 45 squirrels. Obviously the action involved is less 'crawling inside for shelter' and more 'smooshing their bodies around my body for shelter' but this blog is about survival, and survival isn't always pretty. Look to Jordan's thoughtful comment on the Deer post for a more in-depth discussion of the mechanics of using small animals for shelter.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Enjoy this riveting description of cutting open a horse and crawling inside to survive a storm in the wild by Guy Vanderhaeghe, from The Last Crossing:

"Simon scrambled to his knees, knife upraised. Drove the sixteen-inch blade into the horse's chest, sawed the belly down to the legs. Guts spilling, a thin steam sifting out of the lips of the incision. Plunged his hands into the mess of entrails. Tore away, scooping offal behind him, hacking with the knife at whatever resisted, whatever clung. Moaning, hunching his shoulders, drawing his knees up to his chest, wriggling away at the mouth of the wound, he burrowed into the balmy pocket."

Sawed, spilling, sifting, plunged, tore, scooping, hacking, moaning, wriggling. I've often thought of getting this passage tattooed somewhere on my body. The act of cutting open an animal and crawling inside becomes poetry in the hands of a master, fraught with the implications of using one's former friend and companion as shelter from the storm. The moral and emotional ramifications of cutting open domesticated animals and crawling inside will be discussed further in a later post.


Whenever I travel alone, I keep my eye out for animals I could cut open and crawl inside if a storm hits. I spotted these deer on the Olympic Peninsula.

Monday, May 3, 2010


A lot of my favorite art and literature centers around a young person getting stranded in the wild in a storm and having to cut open and crawl inside an animal to survive. The experience invariably gives the young person a lasting love for mother nature and respect for all living creatures. Examples include: Naya Nuki: Shoshone Girl Who Ran, The Last Crossing, almost everything by Gary Paulsen, and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. This blog is devoted to giving the genre the forum it deserves and discussing what types of animals are ideal to cut open and crawl inside if you get stranded in the wild in a storm. Hopefully there will be firsthand accounts of what it's like to be inside an animal while a storm rages and your life hangs in the balance. All thoughts, ideas, and opinions are welcome. And if you know someone who has cut open an animal and crawled inside to survive please, PLEASE, contact me.