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.