July 31, 2008
Armageddon Survival 101
Web extra: shameless self-promoting video
A nuclear bomb, an alien invasion, the rise of the machines or some mad genius' evil plan ... the question is no longer if the world will end, but how it will end. And with so many potential catastrophes on the brink, making the necessary preparations to ensure survival may be a tad overwhelming.
That's why Rob Kutner's "Apocalypse How" (Running Press, $12.95) makes the perfect companion to surviving the end of the world ... because it plans for not only a variety of earth-shattering events, but also provides a step-by-step guide so you can "turn the end of times into the best of times," Kutner writes in the book.
"It starts when you open your eyes in the morning. Maybe you're awakened by the sounds of random gunfire, or the howling of souls being cast into the lake of fire," Kutner writes. "But at least it's not that godawful clock-radio buzzer."
In his comedic how-to style guide, Kutner paints a picture of prosperity, independence and new challenges over a reality of lost limbs, endless instability and blood and destruction. Goodbye job, family, social norms, it's now every man, woman, child, intelligent ape, alien or disfigured mutant for themselves.
Kutner's manual is divided into several chapters, which include food and survival, housing, clothing; social life, fitness and health, recreation, and career, wealth and power. Bonus features in the manual include several questionnaires, quizzes, charts, games and continuous footnotes in each chapter.
In the rare case that you do survive, and in the rarer case that you find a suitable, mostly human mate, Kutner provides a section on weddings titled, "The Big Day (well, the other one, anyway)." The post-apocalyptic wedding vow, "In sickness and in ...anyway, moving on..." accurately depicts how you and your future spouse would see some unique challenges foreign to many preapocalyptic couples.
Because the idea of an Armageddon is nothing new to religion, Kutner also includes several theological responses to the end of the world.
"Judaism -- The exiles will be gathered to Israel, the dead resurrected and all humanity will live in a redeemed world," he writes. "For sinners, not so much an eternity in hell as an eternal sense of guilt."
However, when asked which movement of Judaism has the best chance for survival, Kutner provided the obvious tongue-in-cheek answer, "Reconstructionism," he said in an interview. Adding, "of course, Chabad would also stand out on top."
Kutner, a writer for the "Daily Show With Jon Stewart," and former columnist for The Jewish Journal, grew up in a Reform Jewish environment and attended a Christian school at an early age. While he admits that traces of the book are related to his experiences as a Jew in a Christian elementary school, it's also coupled with his Jewish ideology of "the whole olam habah [world to come] thing," Kutner said.
Of course, if the apocalypse has any indication of the coming of the Mashiach, Kutner said he's expecting "the biggest Birthright trip ever.... It would also free up The Federation to focus on other campaigns, like meals on horseback."