Tag Archives: Apocalypse

Live-blogging the Apocalypse!

Um, nothing yet…

I’ll post immediately if this changes…

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Apocalypse right now

Film review

In “The Road,” Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee (above) play a father and a son fighting to survive in a barren post-apocalyptic United States of America where they always are in danger of being hunted by bands of cannibalistic hunters (such as depicted below in another still from the film).

The Road Movie by John Hillcoat

If you’re prone to suicidal ideation during the holidays, then don’t go see “The Road,” one of the bleakest films that I’ve ever seen, but if you are able to gaze into the abyss, as I am (which is why I’m a blogger…), then “The Road” is for you.

“The Road” is a post-apocalyptic tale of a man (Viggo Mortensen) and his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who travel south to warmer climes after some unspecified apocalypse — the aftermath of the election (probably stolen…) of Sarah Palin or her ilk as president, I like to think — has occurred.

“The Road” leaves lots unexplained and has lots of potholes in it, though. In no certain order: It makes no sense how so many humans could survive an apocalypse that even the vegetation and the vast majority of animal life couldn’t survive. Is it really practical or even possible to push a shopping cart along all kinds of terrain? How does the boy have such a strong sense of right and wrong when he was born into the apocalypse? How does the apparently half-blind old man fare as well as he does when the able-bodied, fully-sighted younger man struggles to survive? How do we see a healthy-looking dog at the end of the film when the humans are even eating each other? Wouldn’t any scraps of food that the dog’s owners manage to get go to them rather than to the dog?

There are other holes that I’d divulge, except that it would ruin key parts of the film, which, despite all that it doesn’t explain and all about it that doesn’t make sense, is worth seeing.

The scenes of cannibalism, including the few-and-far-between surviving humans hunting other humans for their meat — and yes, the hunters appear to be the kind of people (survivalist nuts) who would vote for Sarah Palin — are strewn throughout the movie, and most viewers will find these scenes disturbing, but, it seems to me, we Americans cannibalize each other (so to speak) every fucking day. We use and abuse each other without a second thought, and we casually dismiss it business as usual. Everyone does it, right, so what’s the problem? The only reason that we don’t literally cannibalize each other — yet — is that we have such an abundance of fast food, it seems to me.

So to me, “The Road” could be seen just as much as an externalization of the spiritual decay of the common American that exists today as it can be seen as some cautionary tale. The gray wasteland of “The Road” already exists in the United States of America, it seems to me — interiorly, with the exterior only needing to catch up to the interior. Even at this late hour that probably still is preventable, so yes, “The Road” can be, and should be, seen as a cautionary tale as well.

“The Road” also made me think repeatedly of the homeless people within our midst. I live in downtown Sacramento, where homeless people who look like the characters in “The Road” are fixtures. How can we call ourselves civilized when we allow such misery? It’s easy to see how our savagery could indeed lead to something like we see in “The Road,” where we, instead of the homeless people whom we see every day (and take as just a given), are the ones pushing the shopping cart along bleak terrain — if we survive at all.

Which raises the question of whether, when and if the shit ever really hits the fan, it would be worth trying to survive at all. In one scene in “The Road,” Charlize Theron, who plays the man’s wife and the boy’s mother, tells the man that she doesn’t want to just survive.

Which is something that I’ve always wondered about the survivalists, and what you keep wondering as you watch “The Road”: what in the fuck are you surviving for?

Is there more to life than just surviving? Is it only about staying physically alive as long as possible?

That’s the main question that “The Road” asks.

See it and ponder the question.

My grade: B+

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Because things weren’t bad enough

Updated bel0w (Monday, April 27, 2009)

Commuters wear face masks to prevent the infection by the swine ...

AFP photo

Subway riders in Mexico City wear masks to prevent the spread of the new human-pig-bird-hybrid influenza virus that has killed more than 60 Mexicans so far and spread to at least three U.S. states.

Really, all that we were missing was a pandemic plague.

I refer, of course, to the new human-pig-bird-hybrid influenza virus that has killed more than five dozen people in Mexico thus far and has been found in at least three U.S. states (California, Texas and Kansas and probably New York as well).

In 1918, a strain of the influenza virus killed millions of people worldwide. Notes Wikipedia

The 1918 flu pandemic (commonly referred to as the Spanish flu) was an influenza pandemic that spread to nearly every part of the world. It was caused by an unusually severe and deadly [strain of the type-A influenza virus]…

Historical and epidemiologic data are inadequate to identify the geographic origin of the virus. Most of its victims were healthy young adults, in contrast to most influenza outbreaks, which predominantly affect juvenile, elderly or otherwise weakened patients.

The pandemic lasted from March 1918 to June 1920, spreading even to the Arctic and remote Pacific islands. It is estimated that anywhere from 20 to 100 million people were killed worldwide, or the approximate equivalent of one third of the population of Europe, more than double the number killed in World War I.

This extraordinary toll resulted from the extremely high illness rate of up to 50 percent and the extreme severity of the symptoms… The pandemic is estimated to have infected up to one billion people — half the world’s population at the time.

Travel between the United States and Mexico is such that even if the border between the two nations were sealed, it’s probably too late to stop the new influenza virus’ spread into the United States and elsewhere, experts say; besides, the virus already has been found in at least the border states of California and Texas and also in Kansas, although no U.S. deaths have been reported thus far.

I have a friend who plans to travel to Mexico next week for a two-week stay; I am a bit concerned for her, and I have expressed my concern to her, but she’d probably still go even if it were an ebola outbreak instread of an influenza oubbreak south of the border. Her name starts with “I” and I told her that if she brought the virus back to Sacramento, in the spirit of Typhoid Mary we’d have to call her “Influenza I–––.”

My friend is in her 30s and so I’m further concerned for her because, as The Associated Press notes, “Another reason to worry [about the current influenza outbreak] is that authorities said the dead so far don’t include vulnerable infants and elderly. The Spanish flu pandemic, which killed at least 40 million people worldwide in 1918-19, also first struck otherwise healthy young adults.”

(If you’re wondering why healthy young adults would die of influenza, it’s because of something called a “cytokine storm,” an overreaction of a healthy immune system to certain strains of the influenza virus and to certain other pathogens that can cause death.)

Besides traditional flu symptoms, the new human-pig-bird-hybrid influenza virus can cause severe vomiting and diarrhea, a bout of which my boyfriend had earlier this month. I have to wonder now if maybe he was infected with the virus.

Those who were immunized against influenza recently, as I was in November, may or may not have some degree of protection against the new strain, news reports have quoted the experts as having said.

The main reason I get the flu shot every year is that not only do I not want to get the flu, but, as The Associated Press notes, “Scientists have warned for years about the potential for a pandemic from [influenza] viruses that mix genetic material from humans and animals.”

My thinking has been that immunization against influenza might offer me some protection from such a pandemic.

As much as I love to be right, hopefully I won’t be proved right because hopefully there won’t be a deadly flu pandemic like there was in 1918…

Update (Monday, April 27, 2009):

So upwards of 150 Mexicans have died of the new influenza epidemic and at least 40 confirmed cases have been found in the United States, including at least 20 in New York City, although no one in the United States has yet died from the human-pig-bird-hybrid influenza virus, which, because it is transmissible from person to person (and not just from animal to person), has the potential to become a pandemic.

Sacramento’s annual Festival de la Familia was yesterday, and while I at first was disappointed that I had no one to go there with, as I love Festival de la Familia, after the news of this new potential pandemic, with its epicenter in Mexico, broke on Friday, it seemed to me perhaps wiser and safer not to go, as there is such travel between Mexico and the United States (and elsewhere in the world) that probably several people at Festival de la Familia yesterday had to have been infected with the virus, statistically speaking. (The annual festival of Latino culture usually draws thousands of people, most of them Latino.)

We might as well have called it Festival de la Influenza, I told my boyfriend, who didn’t think that I should repeat that joke to anyone.

Anyway, as if the plague (which has spread from Mexico to the United States and to Canada and even to Europe, because of world travel) weren’t enough, central Mexico was hit with a 5.6-magnitude earthquake today, prompting one resident of Mexico City to remark that “it feels like the Apocalypse.”

While I doubt that it’s the Apocalypse, I do hope the best for our brothers and sisters south of the border. I’m not the praying type, but I might be compelled to say a prayer for them shortly…

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