Dec. 21, 2012: the date when the shit goes down. Or so the Mayans supposedly said.
And let's just suppose they were right. Suspend disbelief for a moment, just as if you were entering the multiplex for a Friday night escape, and prepare to skim the surface of rationality as we tackle a last-minute gift guide for, well, our last minutes.
Yes, we realize that in a post-apocalyptic world there likely won't be gifters or giftees or much of anything beyond ash, dirt and maybe a few sad survivor souls, à la Cormac McCarthy's The Road. So we offer the following more in the spirit of thematic commemoration, a Franklin Mint-style homage to the collective fears of global annihilation.
It's a tour of six of the most common assumptions about how our demise will come, with suggested gifts related to each catastrophe. Buy one of these items, and you've found a very 2012 way to say, "Merry Christmas." If we make it that far.
Who pressed the button first? North Korea? Some radical Mideast faction? Who cares? It doesn't matter because the majority of the planet has been vaporized, and your only recourse will be to survive with Mad Max gusto ... that is, after you emerge from that subterranean bunker you so wisely built.
Anyhoo, the first thing you deserve to settle those shell-shocked nerves is a beer. God's medicine. (Or at least Belgian monks', anyway.) And what better beer to reach for, or gift to a fellow survivor, than the 12.21.12 Mayan prophecy commemorative Little Death Ride Saison Apocalyptique. Good thing you stocked your bunker with a 750 ml bottle ($25.95) from Trinity Brewing Company (1466 Garden of the Gods Road, trinitybrew.com), after being one of the lucky ones to grab a pint from the sole keg tapped there at 5 p.m. on the 21st, during the zombie costume party.
Made in collaboration with Denver's Black Fox Brewing, the massive 13 percent ABV concoction, aged on clay, features ingredients from Mayan cuisine such as maize, pumpkin, cacao nibs, chilies and wild cinnamon. A toast: To the end of times!
And seeing as good beer deserves a gourmet food pairing, won't you be glad you purchased that $19.99 Back to the Roots' grow-at-home mushroom kit from Whole Foods (7635 N. Academy Blvd., backtotheroots.com)?
No, the irony of chomping on fine fungi after a mushroom cloud has delivered Mother Nature a deathblow isn't lost on you, or your giftees. Those 24 ounces of delicious oyster mushrooms grown out of recycled coffee grounds, only requiring some daily misting and a sunny windowsill (let's hope a sun-less nuclear winter hasn't yet set in), will make a fine treat.
And hey, why not reach for a homemade popsicle for dessert? Assuming again that the sun isn't entirely blotted out by ash, it's probably gonna be hot out there. Zoku Quick Pop Makers (ranging from one to three pops, $24.99 to $49.99) make popsicles in only seven minutes (presuming your wind-powered freezer is working). They, plus design and storage accessories ($11.99 to $19.99), can be found at Sparrow Hawk Cookware (120 N. Tejon St., sparrowhawkcookware.com). Suck on that, Armageddon! — MS
It was all a conspiracy. There was a giant hunk of ice and rock hurtling toward Earth, and it smashed into the ground with nary a warning or preventative Armageddon-like measure. Why? Some evil warlord is probably profiting off world misery, and cloaked the asteroid in invisibility to sneak it past our telescopes.
Now the skies are dark, and it's nothing but rocks as far as the eye can see. It's dusty, it's dim, there's nothing green anywhere, and you're wondering if a distant civilization will use your fossilized, decomposed body for fuel.
Time to celebrate a new kinship with the Tyrannosaurus, via membership at the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center (201 S. Fairview St., Woodland Park, rmdrc.com), home to numerous fossils, restored skeletons, exhibits and a working lab. Memberships run $32 to $40 for singles, $54 to $65 for duals, and $85 to $95 for families, and grant you free admission, guest passes, shop discounts and more.
On a less philosophical, more practical note, given the physical environment, you could go with a rock climbing course through Wishlist (enjoywishlist.com, $99 for one person). This allows a giftee to pick one of five Colorado adventures that vary from ziplines in Cañon City to whitewater rafting along the Arkansas River to the aforementioned climbing in Garden of the Gods and Red Rock Canyon Open Space. (Wishlist also offers a spa-getaway option for $119, if your answer to the mass horror is a massage or body wrap.)
And, really, what better time for someone to have a break-your-own geode set (Mountain High Gallery and Gifts, 11 Arcade, Manitou Springs, navajogiftshop.com, $4.99), to help identify what rocks to break open for crystals? Adorning yourself with your finds may seem extraneous, but you know what they say: "Look good, feel good." And we'll all be needing all the help we can get. — EA
The big question: Are they here in peace or war? We've got your gift-giving covered for either situation.
First, consider language classes by GlobeLink Foreign Language Center (802 S. Tejon St., globelinkflc.com, prices vary). Granted, your recipient may not have enough time to master whichever of the 40-plus options she thinks most appropriate to this situation, but we figure some basics — "Hello." "How are you?" "Can I get you a drink?" — in anything but English will be a good place to start.
As for that drink ... whether that towering, slimy bug-eyed creature is friendly or fierce, he's sure to enjoy a bottle of Leopold Bros. Absinthe Verte from Coaltrain Wine and Spirits (330 W. Uintah St., coaltrainwine.com, $64.99, 750 ml; $35.99, 375 ml). The Denver-produced, otherworldly green liquid is a nice 66 percent ABV, which should tame even the nastiest mother-sucker.
Of course, as a co-worker has pointed out, you can never be too careful when probes may be involved. Give the gift of lock-down with a Renegade III plug from Christal's (2582 S. Academy Blvd., 3737 Austin Bluffs Pkwy., christals.com, $17.99). There are few times when one of these is an appropriate gift. But when it comes to alien invasion, the phthalate-free, "silky feel" black silicone just might be the option for le derrière. — KA
The seas rose faster than we predicted, half the world is under water, and it's balmy as all hell. Water transportation's key. If you're a newbie, hitch a ride to Sportsman's Warehouse (555 N. Chelton Road, tinyurl.com/dyxso6r) for its Kayaking 101 class, a course on the basics of choosing a kayak, life vest and accessories, which you can then pick up at the store. You'll have to plan ahead for this one, as it takes place next June, but let's face it — you'll need to save up for the equipment, anyway.
While you're out, best accessorize the global bathtub with some toys for the kiddos, and what's more appropriate than an armload of rubber ducks? At Quacker Gift Shop (738 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, quackergiftshop.com), you can browse classic models and every variation under the sun. Think Elvis duck, pirate duck, bride and groom ducks, Santa duck, pope duck; some on keychains, some pocket-sized, some big enough to float your beverage. And you'll be hard-pressed to find any over $10. Due to their buoyancy, I'm thinking ducks will be big in the flood apocalypse, so stock up.
And you know, the world perishing by flood is basically what happened in the Norse apocalypse, when the über-God Odin was devoured by a giant wolf, other gods were slain, and the Earth sunk into the sea. (Please forgive this less-than-bare-bones overview.) So maybe it's time to start brushing up on your Norse "mythology," just in case.
Supplement your education with a pair of tickets to the Colorado Springs Philharmonic's Wagner & Beethoven performances, set for Jan. 26 and 27 (csphilharmonic.org, $19 to $59). Music director Josep Caballé-Domenech conducts, with special guest pianist Susan Grace. On the program are Wagner's overture and bacchanale from Tannhäuser and, of course, Ride of the Valkyries. — EA
With all the "Warning: In case of Rapture, this car will be unmanned," bumper stickers around this town, the best gift-giving option here might be defensive driving classes. Those aside, you've got two choices if you think your gift recipient might not end up one of the chosen ones.
Option No. 1: Root for his soul. Give him the Left Behind series, a collection of 16 novels by Tim LaHaye and Colorado Springs' own Jerry Jenkins, available individually (and already well-loved) at $2 Buck Books (5172 N. Academy Blvd., 260-4453, $4/hardcover, $2/paperback), to help boost the possibility he'll learn what to do to be picked up on a second pass. Throwing in a Dashboard Jesus from Barracuda Bazaar (2603 W. Colorado Ave., barracudabazaar.com, $8), might also be a good idea.
While Revelations doesn't refer to flesh-eating reanimated corpses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did advise folks this fall that "if you are generally well equipped to deal with a zombie apocalypse," you'll be prepared for most anything. We'd suggest even battling the Antichrist. So, Option No. 2: zombie boot camp via the 1,000-plus page The Walking Dead: Compendium One from Muse Comics + Games (1350 N. Academy Blvd., musecomicscolorado.com, $59.99). Robert Kirkman's New York Times bestselling comic book series about a group of post-apocalyptic world survivors, and the resulting AMC television series, hasn't been a hit for no reason. It's all practice, dear friends. It's all practice. — KA
True story: In 1859, a "coronal mass ejection" with the power of millions of nuclear bombs (called the Carrington Event) was emitted by the sun. When the geomagnetic storm reached Earth, it caught telegraph paper on fire while knocking out that communication network.
Today, what do you think will happen to all those satellites we rely on for GPS, cell phones and air traffic control, plus other vulnerable chip-based systems used for such mega-important things as nuclear-reactor cooling?
When the grid goes this time, we're totally effed, amigos.
Help friends and family usher in an agrarian era at Buckley's Homestead Supply (1501 W. Colorado Ave., buckleyshomesteadsupply.com), your source for everything from jerky hangers and meat grinders (happy hunting!) to butter churns and the must-have Dovo Solingen straight razor ($139). Think top-of-the-line, German-made beard blaster, made better by the accompanying leather sharpening strop ($48), Colonel Ichabod Conk sharpening stone ($16.50), badger hair shaving brush ($68.99) and Col. Conk shave soap ($6.50).
Over their perpetually baby-soft cheeks, your giftees will want sunglasses to combat that naughty sun. Enter Monument-based Maxx Sunglasses, with every style of UV-defying, durable eyewear you could want. You'd normally order online, but in a computer-fried land, you'll likely have to resort to raiding the last supplies (all $19.95) at Mountain Equipment Recyclers (1024 S. Tejon St., merecyclers.com).
Afterward, it's time for another homage to the Mayans' prognostications: a disc of Taza Chocolate's Guajillo Chili Chocolate Mexicano, an organic, direct-trade product made with cacao that's ground in Oaxacan stone mills. It's found for $4.59 at Mountain Mama Natural Foods (1625 W. Uintah St., Suite A, mountainmamanaturalfoods.com). True, this treat doesn't quite place us in the Mayan homeland of the Yucatan Peninsula (where the asteroid fell that supposedly wiped out those dinos), but you get the idea. The Mayans and Aztecs are believed to be the first people to consume chocolate, and you just might be the last. Chew slowly and savor, survivor. — MS