Posted by Dan | Posted in Blog, Rants | Posted on 23-11-2010



Rules For Surviving The Zombie Apocalypse

I’ve just watched the pilot episode of The Walking Dead. My first impression was “28 Days Later with a Hollywood budget, made into a TV series” (which certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing) but a number of things annoyed me. These are things which are becoming increasingly common in zombie apocalypse scenarios and, considering one of the primary appeals of a zombie apocalypse is its delightfully Darwinian ability to weed out the slow and the stupid, I am concerned that the media are unfairly representing idiots as “worthy survivors” in this increasingly popular genre. As a public service I’m going to list the Top 10 rules that survivors (and scriptwriters) should adhere to. 1) Do not underestimate the importance of clear communication

I realise you’re probably in a hurry, but without attention to detail and a spot of foresight you’re not going to last long. Clear communication is important and saves lives.

Look at this: no punctuation and confusing layout. Atrocious. Imagine you were being chased by zombies and had to make a split-second decision about which locked door to hack open. “DONT DEAD OPEN INSIDE” is a bit puzzling, and I wouldn’t put it past some simpleton to remove the plank and start on the padlock before going “Oh, wait, I think it’s saying OH GOD A ZOMBIE IS CHEWING ME.”

I would advise “DON’T OPEN! ZOMBIES!!!” (preferably in red) for clearer emphasis.

Of course, it’s not just post-apocalypse that communication is key. Look at the scientist talking to the animal rights terrorists at the beginning of 28 Days Later. Instead of smiling manically and saying “Rage” in an evil way, he could have said: “These chimpanzees are contaminated with a highly contagious strain of rabies which is fatal to humans. If you let them out they’ll spread the infection everywhere and we would surely die.” I reckon that would’ve had a better chance at persuading them not to let the chimps loose.

2) Don’t walk around in the dark, you massive tool

If you need an explanation for this one, you deserve to get your brain eaten. Although I doubt it would provide much of a meal.

3) When you find an abandoned military base, take a tank. Not a bicycle.


Yes, I realise that bicycles don’t need fuel. But there’s probably room in the armoured jeep / tank / helicopter to fit the damn bike for in the future when that’s an issue. Anyway, you’re more likely to find fuel on the road than a puncture repair kit.

4) Unless your ammunition explodes, don’t bother

While the details of exactly how to kill the zombies depends on a number of factors (slow, shuffling zombies needing a single bullet to the temple are the most desirable ones to face), it’s generally a safe bet that they’ll keep on coming even if you’ve blown their limbs off. Emptying a 9mm clip into their chest isn’t enough to stop one, and when you’re faced with THOUSANDS it’s pretty standard maths to work out that shooting them repeatedly with a pistol is ineffective, no matter how great your aim is. Both standard and armour-piercing rounds are a total waste against the undead and will just make a lot of noise which is something one should generally avoid in such a scenario. The only ammunition to seriously consider is hollow-point and shotgun shells.

Just use a goddamn axe.

5) When you find a better base, stay there

“So this is the police station. It has its own heating and power, a huge armory, cages, thick walls, vehicles and broadcasting equipment.”

“Cool. Let’s have a shower, grab a handful of stuff and then head back to our exposed house in the suburbs.”

6) Put morality on the back-burner

“Welcome to our military fort. We have a minefield, heavy artillery, months of supplies, armoured vehicles, explosives, weapons aplenty, an army, and even a pet zombie so we can study them.”

“Wow. That’s perfect. What’s the catch?”

“Well, some of the soldiers are right cunts and would like to rape those two girls you picked up.”

Yep, that’s pretty damn horrific. But you know what else is pretty damn horrific? Being eaten by zombies. There’s hardly a moral high ground in situations like these, but out of all the possible ways you could resolve this problem I think the absolute worst has to be “Well then I’m setting the infected prisoner loose to infect everyone in this building, even the people who weren’t overly fussed on the whole raping idea, because while rape is abhorrent me murdering you all is somehow morally justifiable. Once I’ve finished killing you all, I’m taking the girls and we’re leaving. On foot. Without a weapon. Where our life expectancy will drop to approximately two hours.”

7) Most humans aren’t actually worth saving

When faced with the “do I risk my own neck to save that person?” dilemma, ask yourself “Were we not in a zombie apocalypse, would I give that person the time of day?” If the risk is greater or equal to the reward (it cannot be denied that you are more likely to rescue someone if you’d like to sleep with them), use their dilemma as a means to make your own safe getaway.

8) This includes people in your team

The dumb racist fuck, the crazy one who puts the group in jeopardy, the fussy one who complains about your fried rat but won’t offer to cook anything better, the ditzy blonde who runs in heels… sooner or later your team will contain one of these people.

While it may seem wise just to kill them before they get you killed, I would actually advise shooting them in the knees and using them as bait when you need a diversion.

9) Camping in the woods is dumb

I get staying out of the big cities, that’s wise. But that nylon tent isn’t going to provide much of a defensive structure if the zombies do find you. A cave or a mountain, with a good vantage point and difficult climbing involved (get a rope ladder), is a much better choice.

10) The dead ARE DEAD, you friggin’ moron

It doesn’t matter how emotionally attached you were when they were alive/uninfected: they’re gone. There is no cure, no sanctuary, and no God. Shoot them in the head with an axe. No exceptions.

Confessions of a Proofreader

Posted by Dan | Posted in Mental Health, Pedantry, Rants, Writing | Posted on 31-10-2010


The manager squinted in my direction.

“So… what exactly is the problem, sir?”

“The apostrophe button,” I repeated, more firmly this time.

“It’s broken?” he enquired.

“It isn’t there.”

He stared intently at the telephone, a baffled expression crawling across his face.  After a few moments of careful scrutiny his eyes returned to me, nervously.

“Just to confirm, sir, when you say apostrophe you mean…?”

I sighed a little and raised my hand.

“The little flying comma thing,” I elaborated, tracing its outline in the air with my index finger. The manager relaxed a little, foolishly thinking we were now on the same wavelength.

“Ohh, you don’t need to worry about those anymore; this is the new model.  Much easier to use. Just click on ‘symbols’ and it brings up a list of all the different faces…”

He’d lost me completely.


“Yeah, you know… ‘emoticons’.”

As he said the last word, his thumb and outer fingers balled up while the remaining digits formed those cringe-worthy animated quotation marks, and I wondered if my earlier display had made him think all punctuation had to be acted out for greater emphasis.

He held the phone up to demonstrate. The screen contained a disjointed amalgam of brackets, commas and hyphens which – if you craned your head in the right direction and closed at least one eye – faintly resembled a set of faces.

“So you see,” he continued confidently, “there’s nothing wrong with it; they’ve just phased out the apostrophe key because the faces now come pre-assembled. You can have animated faces, audio and picture messaging–”

“Do you mean to tell me that the only way to type an apostrophe on this phone is to insert a smiley face and then delete its mouth and eyes?”

“Well,” answered the man, puzzled as to why I was so insistent about this matter, “or nose and mouth. Depends if he’s winking.”

There was a long silence.

“I’m afraid I need a phone that will let me use apostrophes for more than drawing smiley faces.”


I gritted my teeth and dreaded the words I somehow knew were coming.

“…why else would you need one?”


So this is me: emissary of the downtrodden apostrophe; Grammar Nazi; pedantic prick. I’m that guy who holds you up in the queue because he feels the need to tell the checkout girl that, technically, the sign on the express lane should read ‘Ten items or fewer’. The precocious little sod who berates you for saying ‘could of’ instead of ‘could have’ or who just can’t keep it to himself when he spots a lowercase ‘i’ or a hyphen where there should clearly be a dash. My ideal job would involve travelling across continents with a red marker pen, thwarting linguistic injustice wherever it lurks, be it billboard or subtitle. I place linguistic ability above every other quality I look for in my companions, and could not even consider dating a girl who doesn’t read or can’t spell properly. And while it may seem so, it is never a masochistic decision to become hated by those around me; it’s a compulsion that has gripped me since the day I learnt to read, and has shown no sign of relinquishing its grasp ever since.

Let me tell you how it started.

Read the rest of this entry »

Dear British Police

Posted by Dan | Posted in Rants | Posted on 09-07-2010


Dear British Police,

The other day, a rather violent chap called Raoul Moat left prison and announced something along the lines of: “I’m gonna kill my missus.”  True to his word, he got hold of a shotgun and went on a merry little shooting spree, stopping occasionally to update his Facebook status and post updates on his hit list.

I poked him on Facebook which did seem to have the desired effect of calming him down, as he hasn’t killed anyone since.  Although Facebook should really implement a Hug button just in case.

Anyway, he went offline and didn’t check into FourSquare for a couple of days, but this evening he was sighted at a riverbank in Rothbury with a shotgun pointed to his neck.  My night of playing Team Fortress 2 was subsequently ruined because my eyes are glued to the utterly bizarre shit on the news.

So, as I sit here watching the Rothbury Circus long into the night, I think I will do my duty as a law-abiding citizen and share with you some of my musings on your dealing of the situation, in the hope that my ideas will hurry it along so we can all go back to watching more interesting crap on television.

  • He’s pointing a gun at his neck. He’s lost and he knows it.

If I were in his position I would either shoot myself or fire on the police and go out in a blaze of glory.  The second possibility is insanely dangerous, and good reason for people to keep their distance.  I understand and respect you trying to take him alive.  Good on you.  But the way you’re doing it is moronic, especially if it turns out that he’s wearing a suicide vest or something.  What you want to do is shoot him with a tranquiliser or throw a canister of gas in there.  Or, if you want to make a big song-and-dance out of the whole ordeal (which I suspect you do, considering how needlessly drawn-out you’re making this), let the media in so we can at least watch the damn show.  Just fly a chopper overhead and have a little disclaimer underneath saying “This is live: a head might get blown off. You’ve been warned.”

You won't see a trending list like this again

  • You are sending him food and water.  Stop it.

If you want someone to surrender without rendering them unconscious (which seems to be the case) and are prepared to wait (which you clearly are) then you starve them out, not feed them.

Or, better yet, DRUG THE FOOD.  Again, surely this is painfully obvious??  No risk, no chaos, minimal expense.  Raoul has a nice meal, falls asleep peacefully, wakes up back in prison and nobody has been hurt.

  • You let Paul Gascoigne bring him beer and chicken?????

I’m not even going to comment on this one.  I’m just going to post this photo from the scene:

  • You have HOW many police on the scene??  Just send in the drugged food, Gazza, the beer and the guy above with the taser; he’s clearly hardcore.  If anyone else in the country has been planning to commit a crime, tonight is a brilliant night to do it.

Okay, I’m gonna go play TF2 now as it’s nearing midnight and sod all is happening on the news, it’s mostly local MPs waffling about their Facebook pages.  But I will leave everyone with this message: If you want to meet celebrities, have people bring you free food and beer, get on every TV channel in the country and gain the power to wave a shotgun around in public and *not* get shot (presumably the police reserve that behaviour for people carrying chair legs and other such things) then all you need to do is go on a little shooting spree then point the gun at yourself when cornered.

Useful to know.