18 June 2009

The London Zoo

And because I am so in the blog zone it is SICK (cue my third cup of coffee), here are some London Zoo pictures!

Now before I get started, let me throw in a disclaimer: I typically don't like zoos. Not because of 'the inhumane treatment of animals' or anything remotely honorable like that, but because they're just so effing BORING. You walk to a fence. You stare at a lion lying apathetic and innert in the sun. This is entertaining for approximately...one and a half seconds. You try to make eye contact, in the hopes that if he sees you and your happy, beaming face, he will become enthralled and do something thrilling, like stand up, but he doesn't, and so you move on to the next enclosure. You briefly skim the description printed on the wooden podium of the exhibited animal: 'The okapi, or Okapia johnstoni, comes from central Africa...' and rapidly zone out. Turning your gaze to the fabricated central African zone before you (consisting of a lot of dirt and a single tree), you strain to find this exotic beast. He is nowhere to be found. Perhaps it is feeding time in that dank, smelly warehouse located at the rear of the African plain. And so it goes: hours of trodding, squinting, waving, yelling, and moving on. Honestly, if I want to see loads of sleeping and pacing animals, I'll just go back to my desk job, where at least they occasionally get feisty after lunch.

But THIS zoo, far from being dull as dirt, was as wildly entertaining as the Cirque du Soleil.* Not because of its miniscule size (which was nice), nor because of its fabulous location at the top of Regent Park (which was nice), but mostly because of the fact that the animals were just plain SASSY. All three of them. Check out the way they posed for my camera:

This is one I like to call 'Another Day in the Jail Yard.' You can tell he's torn between the mess hall and the weight room, and wishes someone would start a pick-up game of baseball:

This was taken in the Butterfly Sanctuary. Initially you would think (as I did), 'A butterfly sanctuary! How charming! A hot and steamy little rainforest with hundreds of butterflies fluttering around you!' But then you go in and find yourself sweating and surrounding by all of these darting, flying creatures, who were doing their best summertime-moth impressions, and it was actually a bit alarming. All of the swooping and diving around your face is far from relaxing or magical, and you find yourself--as you instinctively duck and jerk back--wishing for a flyswatter. Needless to say, I loved it.

And last, but not least, we have this guy, who I think by his expression needs no introduction:

And the one who stole the show:
This cat, while perhaps not a 'technical' zoo animal, was prowling the enclosure of the above bird. He stalked about the tall grass, eyeing his prey, and totally plotting a coup. He was by far my favorite exhibit of the entire day. One, it was the first time I saw an animal doing anything that was remotely natural, and two, you've got to respect a domestic housecat playing predator to such a wildly exotic and possibly aggressive bird. I couldn't help but secretly hope for some kind of live discovery channel action but alas, the wire mesh proved too much of a barrier, not to mention the bell around his neck (obviously his owner knows how he spends his days), so he could only lurk about threateningly, ruffling the bird's feathers.

And so concludes my tour! I would follow up with a recommendation, except, well...you've kinda seen it all right here.

*I'm lying to you. There is nothing in the world more entertaining than a show that ties midgets to giant balloons and sends them afloat.

A Condiment Conundrum

So forgive me while I COMPLETELY disregard photos altogether for a minute here and get on my Go America soapbox. One that I never actually knew existed until I got to this country and discovered this. Funny how you don't realize what's really important to you until you are deprived of it. For example, (climbing up on soapbox now), hot dog relish. This country has Heinz Ketchup (and dare I say, it's used even more here than in united-states-land). It even has French's American Mustard (if you don't have the courage to use the burn-your-nostril-hairs-Colman's). But one thing it does NOT have is hot dog relish. I KNOW. I know. It amazes me, too.

So cue last night: dear, sweet Katy texts me, 'Going to Trader Joe's! You want anything?' Instantly, 'RELISH!' And then, because she's an effing genius, she replies, 'Sweet or dill??' Now here is a girl after my own heart: she even knew to ask what type. (Sweet, of course.) I was thisclose to asking for hot dogs, too, at the risk of near-death from the lack of refrigerated mailing, because GET THIS (now about to stomp on soapbox): there is not a single producer of chemical-free hot dogs in England. I learned this from Whole Foods, where I went to find some organic ones. They didn't have any, and I found out (oh, yes, I asked) that the demand here isn't high enough to warrant importing them, so they had to find a domestic producer. And that's when they found out that there is not a single domestic producer of chemical-free hot dogs in all the land. Therefore, they cannot be sold at Whole Foods under their organic standard. Hence, no hot dogs at Whole Foods. Apparently some producers are willing to SPECIALLY MAKE them, but only if the sales are guaranteed to be at xyz figures. Which of course can't be done. Voila!

(Climbing off of soapbox now) Unfortunately, my craving is such that I'm willing to take the risk with the domestic, chemical-laden variety, if I can figure out where to find THOSE. Bring on the cancer, folks! Rona's got relish coming, and she needs a vessel...

02 June 2009

Richard Curtis wants me.

Okay, so you know the screenwriter who did Love Actually, and Bridget Jones's Diary, and Notting Hill, and Four Weddings and a Funeral, and The Boat That Rocked, and, like, LOADS OF OTHER AWESOME STUFF BECAUSE HE'S THE GREATEST EFFING SCREENWRITER OF ALL TIME? Well, for my birthday (which is Saturday, so you still have time to send me gifts), HE SIGNED ONE OF HIS MOVIES FOR ME! See below for the kickin' cover. And I don't think I have to read much between the lines to know a love letter when I see one. It's pretty obvious we're going to get married and have loads of babies:

p.s. This good fortune befell me courtesy of THE COOLEST WOMAN EVER that I nanny for, who just * happens * to be a close and personal friend of Dick's.

p.p.s. I feel that we're close enough that I can call him Dick now.