Posts Tagged ‘Z’

The Zoo

April 30, 2018

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So, I thought I would celebrate the end of this April challenge by taking a trip to the Zoo. Of course, you don’t know in what order I wrote all of these posts so you bought that line hook line and sinker. I picked the perfect Saturday to go to the Zoo. The sun was shining high up in the sky and there was not even a hint of rain on the horizon. It was about sixty degrees Fahrenheit (16 Celsius) and there was a cool breeze when I set out. I grabbed my phone and my phone battery pack and set out toward the Zoo. To get to the Zoo, I did not climb into my car. I instead decided to walk. Walking would bring me through the woods in Druid Hill Park. This always a slightly challenging but pleasant walk. This time it was filled with Frisbee Golfers. I warily watched them to make sure I did not get accidentally beaned by flying discs.

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To get to the Maryland Zoo, I had to actually walk past it first since the gate is on the far side of the park from my house. I walked the two miles to the gate and there was no line even though it was a nice day. It had been more than twenty years since I had been to that zoo even though it has never been far from where I lived (except when I lived in New Jersey). I had no idea where to go and it was way different from when I had last been. I climbed onto a tram that took me to the actual exhibits. The zoo’s land is very big and spread out and after two miles I was glad to sit in a tram for a few minutes. The ride over was pleasant and then I was walking in a sea of people, most of which were tiny children.

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The first things that I saw to my right were penguins. I had not really been expecting penguins as Maryland is only frosty part of the year. They were cute little African Penguins, though, not the larger varieties from the extreme South. They happily swam around as I took pictures and observed their shenanigans. I then took a trip to the Polar Bear area. The polar bears pulled a me and decided to stay inside and chill. However, right next to their exhibit is the Rise and Conquer exhibit. For those who do not know, Rise and Conquer are the names of the very real ravens that are brought to every home game of the Ravens football team. Between games and offseason, the two celebrities hang out at the Maryland Zoo in what I can only assume is a private bird apartment. Meanwhile, two celebrity lookalikes greet the crowds out in the public part of the Maryland Zoo. Over the years I have become a little obsessed with ravens partly because my hometown is so obsessed with them too.

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From there I pretty much went to grab something to eat since I had not gotten lunch yet. Food was expensive so I just got some cheese fries so I could keep going without overfilling my stomach. It was at this point that I realized that I was not only in a sea of humanity, but I was also in a menagerie of languages and accents. I do not know if this day was different but there were so many people speaking languages other than English. It truly was a melting pot of all these different cultures that were floating around. I definitely thought I heard Japanese, Spanish, and something that sounded Eastern European. I am not sure if the Zoo is a destination for tourists or if it is just a magnet for the more ethnic members of our city. Either way, it was a really interesting soundscape.

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After eating, I made my way into the African Journey section. I was ready to really see some animals. I walked along familiar wooden walkways to various animal enclosures and I saw animals from a whole other continent. I was a little disappointed because the leopard and the lions were being shy. I was especially keen on seeing the leopard because it is a variant of the panther which is the namesake of one of my current Tabletop RPG characters. However, there was a zoo employee in front of the cheetahs and she told us all about cheetahs who were busy pressing their noses against the fence as they watched the gazelles run around across the way. For example, I had no idea that cheetah claws do not retract and are therefore dull and are used more as cleats than as knives.

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I seem to remember all of the monkeys and apes being in cages in the open air but now they are behind glass in a cool little house. I do remember them fling poop as a kid so I suppose putting them behind glass removes that particular hazard. The place was dark and not exactly conducive to taking pictures as I tended to pick up people’s reflections instead. Still, the monkeys are definitely some of the most interesting because they are the most like us without being us. After seeing so much, I was kind of tired. I did not see anything on the map about a reptile house which used to exist. It was my nemesis growing up but I have since become fascinated with snakes (from afar). I decided that since I had been there for over an hour and the place was not far from closing that it was time to head home. I found my way back to the tram and ended up back at the prairie dogs and then I walked back out through the gate. After that, my home was just another walk away.

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As a side note, there were two reasons that I went back to the Zoo after all of these years. The first was that it was an easy Z word. I could have easily written a story about a zoo for dragons or I could have reviewed the movie Zoombies (Zombie zoo animals) but I felt like walking. The other reason was that I am still playing Pokemon Go and I have walked past the zoo enough to know that there are plenty of awesome pokemon in there. Yet again, Pokemon Go inspired me to exercise more than I would have. Thanks to the app, I know that I walked almost exactly 6 km altogether which is nearly 4 miles. There were a lot of hills and such along the way so I definitely felt like I got a good workout. I definitely recommend a trip to the Maryland Zoo.

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ZZZzzz

April 30, 2017

I think it is fitting that I close out this challenge by talking about how tired I am. While I love this challenge, there have been a lot of changes in my life that have caused me to have to run on all cylinders. I got a new job, I finished an internship, I marched for Science and I have been working harder on this blog among other things. I have been dedicated to this challenge and I decided that I would not be deterred from completing it. Still, it is an endurance trial, one that I will talk more about tomorrow.

I have always been a big fan of sleeping. I used to do a whole lot of it back in the day too. I used to work in live theater and that always caused such a weird sleep schedule. In college, I would have rehearsal until eleven at night and then I would have to do the paperwork afterward. By midnight, I was tired but keyed up and ready to hang out online. With classes during the day and rehearsal at night, I had to have some time to socialize even if it was online. At that point, I would be up as late as five in the morning.


I used to frown on people sleeping in class and then I did it.

In my freshman year of college, I had classes scheduled at eight in the morning. This was something my advisor did to me in the naive opinion that it would be good for me. After that first year, that would never happen again. Every morning I would crash before the sun rose (sometimes) and then I would sleep until lunch time before running off to class. It put me in a weird position with the rest of the world. I was often asleep when everyone else was awake and I felt disconnected from the real world and submerged into the fairytale world of theater.


I learned to draw on deeper energy reserves.

Once I got a job, that tendency to want to sleep until noon continued. Luckily, I was in a small regional theater. For the most part, work did not begin until ten in the morning because, once again, we all had rehearsal the night before. So, one again I spend a lot of time at night on my computer and I met all new friends since I was stuck in the middle of nowhere. I was continually tired and sore and crawling into bed at the end of the night was a welcome relief. By then, I had learned to sleep deeply in order to survive. Also, I learned to operate in a tired state and soldier on the best I could.


I wish that sometimes I did not wake with the sun.

Now that I have an office job, I am used to waking up bright and early at seven. No matter what I do, I cannot seem to sleep past nine even on my day off. Today, I planned to sleep until noon to recover from the recent excitement. The oncoming heat makes me restless when I try to get to sleep so once it cooled down, I looked forward to existing in dreamland for quite a while. I woke up at eight in the morning after getting to sleep at one. I still get about six to seven hours of sleep per night but now I feel like I have more of the day to do things. If I had gotten up at noon, I would have missed a surprise lunch with the office I interned at. I would have gotten so much less done. I am learning, bit by bit.

Zoolander 2

April 30, 2016

So the first Zoolander kind of meant a lot to me. I completely understand how weird that might sound but I have several reasons for really liking that movie. First, it was made by Ben Stiller during one of his good periods. I really like Ben Stiller comedies as long as he is writing or directing them although. There are a few exceptions like Mystery Men but he can be really great sometimes. Second, this was the first comedy movie release after 9/11 and it was really refreshing to have a silly but secretly clever comedy to embrace. Third, everybody in the movie is on their game especially Ben Stiller. The characters all do exactly what they’re supposed to and the humor is just silly enough without being stupid. Besides, there are cameos from David Bowie, Billy Zane and David Duchovny, how can you hate that?

Anyway, I recently watched the original again and realized why I really liked it. I saw the ads for the new movie and I was wondering why they were making a new one sixteen years later. The first movie was good but it had a horrible box office due to being released so soon after 9/11. I never really understood releasing a sequel so far after the first movie unless your Kevin Smith. Still, I can’t really fault Stiller or anybody else because I think the movie found a lot of life on DVD and VHS well after the fact. I have heard some of the movie quoted by people through the years so I know that people saw it. Part of the appeal of the first one is that it was poking lighthearted fun at the modeling industry at a time when supermodels were still a thing. The original feels less relevant and more nostalgic now but that does not mean this one would be bad,

Right from the start I realize that Stiller has learned a lot since 2001. The movie feels a lot like the love child of Tropic Thunder and Zoolander. The first movie was pretty silly and weird with some darkness thrown into the mix. This one starts darker and that’s saying something if you consider this scene was in the first one. Just like the first one, there are a ton of celebrities from start to finish. Like a lot of the first movie, there are a lot of moments that were equal parts weird and funny. The great playfulness between Stiller and his real-life wife Christine Taylor is out which is a shame. Instead, we get Stiller’s Zoolander hanging out with my favorite version of Owen Wilson. There are a whole bunch of fun new characters to interact with the two dumbest human beings ever as they engage in espionage once again.

It is not much of a spoiler since they showed it on the trailer, but pretty much the whole cast is back for this one. I was not expecting for certain characters to make their return but I was very pleasantly surprised. The espionage plot is over-the-top silly but it makes a weird bit of sense. There is a melodramatic subplot that follows from the first movie that was actually kind of touching but there was not much comedy material there. They also gave Owen Wilson a lot more to do which is good because in the first movie he was just kind of inserted into the second half. This movie felt a little more fluid and coherent than the first movie. It could have done without one of the subplots but it still worked pretty well.

Overall, the movie was good. I think the movie shows some evolution from the first one and makes me think that Ben Stiller (and co-writer Justin Theroux) have a lot of good work ahead of them. There is a lot of the same quality comedy dialogue that was in Zoolander and Tropic Thunder. The visuals are on par with Tropic Thunder and sometimes better. The movie was not the greatest but it definitely was way better than the 23 percent it got on Rotten Tomatoes. I think maybe you needed to be a fan of the first movie to enjoy it fully but as long as you go in with the right attitude, it is a fun movie.

Zombies

April 30, 2015

So if you’ve read some of my blog, you’ve probably figured out that I’m a fan of things supernatural or horror-themed. I like to see different takes on familiar creatures and I like to see people come up with new, terrifying creatures. Guillermo Del Toro in particular is very good at coming up with amazing designs for stuff that just might give you nightmares. The old classics like vampires and werewolves have gone through so many different variations that they have more flavors than Baskin Robbins. Demons and angels are pretty much the same, including the Gargoyle Angels from I, Frankenstein earlier this month. Even the fae can be absolutely terrifying. Beyond that there’s all sorts of miscellaneous dark and creepy things that can be absolutely awesome.

This is not true of zombies. I don’t know what it is but I rarely get interested in fiction that has zombies in it. For the most part, Zombies are slow, stupid and weak. In most fiction, zombies are humans who have lost their humanity and are driven to prey on mortal human beings. I’ve stated before that loss of humanity is one of my greatest fears. However, the loss of humanity for Zombies is slow and the person doesn’t realize it has happened. When the lights are out, nobody’s home and who really cares who lives there now?

Zombies are outwitted and killed easier than the Wet Bandits. A single headshot or incapacitation turns them from a threat into a corpse. They don’t even shy away from gun fire and generally walk right into swinging range of a melee weapon. Like bees, they are mostly only dangerous in large numbers where they can swarm and overwhelm their target. Any competent hero tends to be able to avoid this situation and it removes a lot of the tension from the story.

Since the zombies themselves are kind of boring, anything related to them has to have interesting characters instead. I tried to watch the Walking Dead since it is the most popular zombie fiction in recent times, rivaled only by the Night of the Living Dead movies. The Walking dead just didn’t do it for me and I didn’t care about the soap opera that happened between zombie attacks. The Night of the Living Dead movies are full of stereotypes or characters too dumb to live for the most part. I gave up on them a while ago. The only zombie movie I’ve seen that I liked was Shaun of the Dead but that was because it was an interesting comedy. Oh and the Evil Dead series but again that was because the hero is fun to watch.

I think if somebody did a good story with an unstoppable zombie menace that was supernatural and not science fiction I might be interested. I don’t know, maybe I’m missing something.


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