and let slip
the cans of apocalypse.
famous Canadian Science Fiction novelist
Mark A. Carter rants about a
post-apocalyptic future and the need for the
bayonet and sickle can opener.
It seems that
recycling has raised its ugly head in my kitchen. Perhaps
it has raised its ugly head
in your kitchen as well. Manufacturers have begun using recycled
cans. And, as I found out the hard way, modern can openers don't
fit these recycled cans. In fact, I have broken two modern versions
of the bunker can opener recently
in my attempt to open these defective cans. There is just something
smaller about the lip. But it was enough to drive me to the
brink of madness the other day. And when I went in search
of my good, old fashioned bayonet
and sickle can open that I had for years, I realized
that I had thrown it away when I purchased the
two new openers.
bayonet and sickle can opener used to be an essential
tool in every kitchen going back to
1855. But they have all been discarded to make room for
the modern variation on bunker openers
and electric openers. Yikes
... what a mistake. Newer is not always better. And what
did it cost me to replace it? And
thank God that it was replaceable. What used to cost
a couple of dollars sank me
over thirty-two dollars Canadian
with shipping and handling from Amazon.ca.
Give me a break. But it got me thinking.
1855, Robert Yeates, in the UK, devised the first claw-ended
can opener that haggled its way around the top of metal cans.
The modern version is seen here.
the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. And,
I imagine, in the foreseeable post-apocalyptic
future, the man with the bayonet
and sickle can opener would be king. Sure, there may
be people sitting on hoards of cans that have long ago lost their
labels. But can they open them? Leather
with studs, a mullet, tattoos, and a
gas powered chainsaw might be a good look in a
post-apocalyptic Mad Max future. But the modern can is
an invention to be reckoned with. And the chain saw does little
to help you open one efficiently. The only
tried and true, albeit slow, method of opening a can
of pork and beans without
spillage is the bayonet and sickle
can opener. A prediction: the man who travels anywhere
with one of these retro kitchen marvels
on a lanyard will
be considered a miracle worker.
I Am Legend
by Richard Matheson, 1954.
I can see tribal chiefs giving
their prettiest daughters to the man with the
bayonet and sickle can opener. Land, cows, and sheep
will be his as a dowry. He
may even be designated the new medicine
man for the apparent magic
he performs. The can opener will be passed down from
generation to generation until the age of metal working. And,
even then, it will be forbidden to recreate such a
And it got me thinking how
Science Fiction would have been altered, if the
bayonet and sickle can opener had been worked into the
1954 novel I Am Legend
by Richard Matheson, Robert Neville
is the lone, unchanged survivor of a
worldwide bacterial plague that kills most of the world's
population and turns the few mutated survivors into
vampires. The story is a direct
rip off of Mary Shelley's
1826 post-apocalyptic Sci-Fi novel The
Last Man, which tells of a future world that has
been ravaged by a plague. Duh?
In I Am Legend, Neville
kills photophobic vampires
during the day. And at night they seek him in his barricaded
residence. What is it they say in
Psychology about normalcy?
"Normalcy is determined by the norm." So, when
vampires are in the majority,
when they are the norm, a lone human being is abnormal, the creature
to be feared and destroyed. So, it comes as no surprise that
the vampires in I Am Legend
eventually catch Neville and
kill him. His last thoughts are that the
vampire legend of old has been turned upside down. To
them, he is the anathema.
He is the thing to be feared while they slumber. He is the creature
to be destroyed. And he is the creature that will be forever
remembered ergo the title.
But there is a problem with
Matheson's story beyond the scope of his novel. And again,
I can't help but think that bayonet
and sickle can openers are the solution.
Vampires need human blood.
Neville is the only source of human blood. When he is
gone they will have to feed upon themselves until extinction.
So my question is wouldn't bayonet
and sickle can openers come in handy to help this new,
evolved vampire race survive,
if only to eat baked beans
and cat food?
1975 Sci-Fi film A Boy and His Dog, directed by
L.Q. Jones, based on the
1969 short story "A Boy and His Dog" by
Harlan Ellison, an uneducated teenage boy named
Vic and his well-read, telepathic
dog named Blood work
together to survive in the post-apocalyptic
wasteland of the American
southwest. He meets a girl named
Quilla who entices him to visit her underground City
of Topeka. Social customs
in Topeka are bizarre, including
everyone wearing white face. Vic
is only valued there as a sperm donor
for artificial insemination.
So he returns to the surface.
Quilla accompanies him. They find
Blood starving. And Vic
comes to a practical solution. He
roasts Quilla over a spit
and Blood and he devour
her. I can't help but think that a
bayonet and sickle can opener would have been the answer
to Quilla's dilemma. Ellison
mentions that Vic and
Blood often raided bunkers to retrieve canned goods.
There you go. They had no
way of opening them so they used them for barter. But, if they
only had a bayonet and sickle can
opener, things would have been better. They would have
had ample food. But alas,
no can opener, no girlfriend, just a loyal boy and his dog walking
off into the sunset. That's really cold
Harlan but it is typical you. And we get it.
Fido goes both ways. Yep.
A Boy and His Dog
by Harlan Ellison, 1969.
Logan's Run (1976)
directed by Michael Anderson.
And the plot of the
1976 Sci-Fi film Logan's
Run, directed by Michael
Anderson, would have been
shot to shit if that society of the year
2274 had bayonet and sickle
can openers. In the film, people live to
thirty. Then they enter the
Carrousel and are disintegrated.
It is that future society's
extreme solution to population
and food control. It got me thinking that if they had
bayonet and sickle can openers,
their food resources could have been extended, as could their
life spans ergo no reason
for Logan to run. And there
would have been no need for a rebellion and for the wanton destruction
that always comes with rebellion. Perhaps the film could have
been renamed Logan's Can Opener
and Logan could have
been written as a messianic hero
bringing people the answer to their
prayers ... just sayin'.
There are more examples I could
use but it's best if I stick to the
rule of threes. So, what is my
takeaway message? It is this: do not discard the old
for the new and shiny. There is always something of value in
the old. Take, for example, I still use an
iMac 350 Blueberry for website development even though
it is six times slower than
the HP and the
Lenovo ThinkCentre that I use for research and writing.
The iMac still has value because
of Adobe PageMill®. Until
they make another HTML editor
quite as good for the Windows
environment, and I use three of them, I will always return to
the old program and the slow system. Why? Like the
bayonet and sickle can opener, it gets the job done.
There you go.