Archives for category: Random

What on earth (or deep space) is it about zombies that keep us so enthralled? Is it their chic clothing, torn and tattered just so? Their seemingly magnanimous good-will towards all mankind, that they keep their arms forever stretched out, as if just seeking a comforting hug? Their sonorous screeches?

Ask a movie fanatic and the answer might be mixed up with the desire to be scared bejeeberless. Something I still don’t understand. But that’s beside the point. Zombies really began their heyday when George Romero made his 1968 film, Night of the Living Dead. But it seems that the rage didn’t really take hold until his second film a decade later, Dawn of the Dead. A cute rehash of the former title. Or perhaps he was just being lazy.

Notice the humorous ‘They Won’t Stay Dead!’ How frustrating. Also worth note, none of these zombies appear decayed. I suppose this was more due to the lack of computerized graphic editing.

 

 

 

 

Courtesy of soundtrackcollector.com.

In Romero’s film, the zombies are created by a space probe blowing up in the atmosphere.[1] Nowadays however, most zombies are created by some kind of plague or virus. You can’t turn around in a theater without seeing something along the lines of 28 Days Later, Resident Evil (Numbers and subtitles vary), Quarantine, Day of the Dead, etc.

We even have a few comedic parodies of zombie movies. Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead being the most well-known. Notice the header? A bit different than Romero’s catchy one-liner.

 

 

 

 

(Shaun of the Dead poster. Gotta love Simon Pegg.) Courtesy of impawards.com.

A lot of the zombie craze these days revolves around either gory bloodshed or comedy. I recently bought a book, Dr. Dale’s Zombie Dictionary: The A-Z Guide to Staying ALIVE. A definite recommended read for anyone worried about surviving during the impending apocalypse. I have fears of my own, living in a pretty built-up area, and not having a house very suitable for repelling the undead. But this book will soon equip even the most weak-kneed citizen with tools to prevent themselves falling into their clutches. Included in the book are answers to such useful questions like:

“How can a sheep help defend me against the undead?”

“What will the response of the women’s institute be to an attack?”

“What’s the most useful style of dance to know in the event of the apocalypse?”

It even comes with a 30-day money back guarantee in the event you die during the apocalypse.

 

 

 

 

Courtesy of amazon.co.uk

But wait, you’re all saying, what about the rise of zombies in games? Of course I haven’t forgotten about this enormous aspect of zombie culture. I was saving it for later. Calm down geeks.

The first zombie game, released in 1984, was rather unoriginally titled Zombie Zombie. It’s adorable 8-bit styling and garish colors remind one of everything that was great in retro video games.

It even had a disclaimer by designer Sandy White. “Due to strong personal convictions, I wish to stress that this game in no way endorses a belief in the occult.” [2] Wow. I’d like to see anyone bother putting that on a game today.

 

 

(I love the ‘Paint’ program type graphics. I think Sandy’s three year old daughter drew this for her.) Courtesy of gamesradar.com

After this, zombie games ranged from Zombies Ate My Neighbors (1993), various renditions of Resident Evil (1996-), Dead Rising (2006), Left 4 Dead (2008), and others, of which there are too many to list. Zombies also make guest appearances in such games as Wolfenstein 3D, Super Mario Bros. 3, and Call of Duty: World at War.

I looked at the top ten games from several sites, and was surprised that zombie games ranked either far down or not at all. Resident Evil was 9th according to gamerankings.com, and 7th according to the Gamer’s Edition of Guinness World Records. Half-Life 2 did make it to 5th in “Game Informer Magazine,” but most of the top game awards go to Zelda, various Mario games, Call of Duty, Halo, and Grand Theft Auto.

Of course, most of these polls are taken in flux, when the novelty of the game might sway the masses for a while before equalizing.

My own personal memories of zombie games come from watching my elder brother play. Never interested in playing them myself, save for a little Kirby now and then, I loved watching an expert muck around killing things. For anyone who’s ever played Half-Life 2, Ravenholm should ring a bell. That level introduced me to fast zombies, as I recall. Creepy things.

And here we see the intrepid Gordon, with his ever-present, trusty crowbar. I have a special fondness for this game. The storyline really appealed to me, and the little nuggets of scientific experimentation thrilled me. Also on my list of favorites is Portal. [3] I even have a ringtone. I love cake.

 

 

 

 

Courtesy of tutorialpark.com

For any avid gamers who aren’t satisfied with my admittedly brief recount of zombie games, check out the footnotes. Not that you need them. If you really are an avid gamer you should be able to tell me everything about zombies anyway. Because you have, of course, fought them all, right?

OTTERMEI//


[1] http://www.forbes.com/2009/10/29/oreilly-godzilla-science-technology-breakthroughs-zombies.html

[2] http://www.gamepro.com/article/features/216706/a-history-of-zombies-in-video-games/

[3] There might even be a whole post dedicated to this game. If I’m still alive after this, that is…

Yellow is a color. Every yahoo knows that. More specifically, it is;

The hue of that portion of the visible spectrum lying between orange and green, evoked in the human observer by radiant energy with wavelengths of approximately 570 to 590 nanometers; any of a group of colors of a hue resembling that of ripe lemons and varying in lightness and saturation; one of the subtractive primaries; one of the psychological primary hues.[1]

It may also be used in the negative sense as an insinuation of cowardice. I had a struggle in figuring out the etymology of this term. It seems to have been in existence since medieval times, when traitors’ doors were daubed with Yellow paint and heretics were made to wear Yellow clothing. Apparently it had something to do with the four physical humours of the body that kept everything in check. When one of these four (blood, phlegm, black bile and Yellow bile) went out of whack, you became ill or fractious. Yellow bile was associated with irascibility, peevishness, etc, and the steps from that to jealously, inconstancy and cowardice wasn’t a far leap.[2]

This is rather interesting. Today, we tend to associate Yellow with happiness, the sun, warmth and cheerfulness. Rarely do we hear people being labeled as ‘Yellow.’ That might also have something to do with the racist connotations.

So aside from the paradox of association, Yellow has been used in various ways in literature.

In Charlotte Perkin Gilman’s masterful piece, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” she describes in detail the mental degeneration of a woman surrounded by some hideous wall adornment.

The work itself is startlingly blunt in what it seeks to illustrate. Gilman, who suffered from mental disorders, or ‘nervousness,’ as it was labeled, was prescribed the ‘rest cure’. It’s a simple name and a simple treatment. The patient is allowed to do no work, have little company, and in general sit around and do nothing for a very long time. Enough to drive any sane person mad, and this is just what Gilman is trying to convey in her story. Gilman lived during rather oppressive times for women, and the story is heralded by feminists everywhere. Now I don’t care tuppence about any political ramifications, but I do enjoy the intricate processes that derange the human mind.

In the story (and I urge you all to read it for yourselves), the women, suffering from nerves and possibly hallucinations, is prescribed the rest cure and made to stay in an old nursery. The interesting thing about this nursery is the wallpaper. It’s Yellow, and she speaks of the, “recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside down.”[3] Very insidious is this paper.

I wrote an essay on this once, relating the wallpaper to a Panoptic prison system. I won’t go in to all that here, but if the story intrigues you, look it up.

Eventually, the woman becomes obsessed with the paper, and the imagined woman she sees in it. It overwhelms her with its presence. “ …the paper stained everything it touched, that she had found yellow smooches on all my clothes…”

Rather a horrid, unpleasant description of Yellow here. One may argue that the color is irrelevant in the story; it might as easily have been green or blue. But I disagree. I think Gilman chose Yellow very specifically.

But Yellow doesn’t always have negative connotations. As I mentioned previously, most of us think of sunny things when we think of Yellow. It’s becoming one of my favorite colors. I’m sure any observant reader will have noticed many of my pictures contain me in a Yellow cardigan. Mostly accidental, actually, but it is one of my favorite articles of clothing.

Sadly, I don’t have room to address every one of Yellow’s aspects. I could talk about mustard, and Yellow journalism, and ‘yello?’ as a common greeting. But I just can’t, and I’m sure no one really wants to know that much anyway. Trivial knowledge is only so useful in a world where no one plays Trivial Pursuit anymore.

So I will close with this song, a happier rendition of this intrepid color.

Yellow

(Released by Coldplay in June 2000 in their first album. It’s really the song that shot them to the top of the charts and made them so well-known, especially here in the states.)

Lyrics[4]:

Look at the stars,
Look how they shine for you,
And everything you do,
Yeah they were all yellow,

I came along
I wrote a song for you
And all the things you do
And it was called yellow

So then I took my turn
Oh all the things I’ve done
And it was all yellow

Your skin
Oh yeah your skin and bones
Turn into something beautiful
D’you know you know I love you so
You know I love you so

I swam across
I jumped across for you
Oh all the things you do
Cause you were all yellow

I drew a line
I drew a line for you
Oh what a thing to do
And it was all yellow…

OTTERMEI//

 

NB – I went back and found all the occasions where I wrote ‘yellow,’ and looked at the word for so long it started to seem foreign. Anyone ever do that? Say or read a word too much, until it seems just jibberish? I wonder why that is…I might do a post on this…

 

 


 

It was Sunday. A cool, breezy day in February, one filled with puffy clouds and birdsong. But not where we were. There, the only noises were the whoosh of cars on pavement and the claxon squeals of the occasional fire truck. It was getting late in the afternoon, and the sun was falling slowly down the blue canvas of sky. Surrounded by concrete and strollers inside the establishment, I sat awaiting my friend. While people-watching is generally a very enjoyable pastime of mine, that day it was so crowded my optic orbs could not focus, and kept leaping from wild hairdo to wilder pants and back again. It was sheer visual overload. So I stared at the plants mostly; a crazy mix of cacti and succulents, orchids and lilies.

At last my friend arrived, and we commenced the arduous process of navigating the throngs of people. Our main stop was Anthropologie. A decadent display of creative decorations and vibrant patterned clothes kept us circling dizzily through the store, until at last, we had to leave. It didn’t help that there too, it was a mass of shoppers. Elbows a-flying, the Sunday shopper is by far the most dangerous.

But make it out we did, and proceeded to have absolutely no clue as to what to do next. So, being the madly imaginative people we were, we decided to just wander around and see what stores caught our fancy.

I distinctly remember going in to Barney’s. The store just looked rich, and being young, impressionable and insecure, we decided to up our status by walking on sacred ground. There really was very little merchandise. I’ve seen more quantity in half the space, but that’s the whole idea. Too much square footage per article equals luxury. It was very quiet, with hardly any music; only the soft murmurs of the sales associates marred the calm. The furniture was exquisite, the architecture unique, the clothes…downright odd. One wonders who buys such stuff. Really.

After making our way out, it was again a tough decision on where to go next. Fortunately, or something like fortune anyway, we saw the Gucci store below us. My friend pointed out a very large man inside, mentioning that he looked like a guard. I don’t think I was paying attention.

After taking much longer than necessary to find the escalators, we headed down to the gilded front of Gucci and peered inside. It looked shiny, dark, and smelly to me.

We decided to brave it regardless of first impressions. As we made to go in, a man cut in front of us. I swear he was someone famous. He looked like a rapper, had total swag, was wearing sunglasses, and was dressed down to the nines. And…even more impressive, he hugged the security guard like an old friend and broo-hawed with all the workers. You must be famous to know the Gucci workers and the guard.

A little awestruck, we followed. We did not, however, hug the security guard. Rather, we almost ran for our life. Although perfectly mannered and polite, the seven-foot, black-suited dead ringer for Morpheus exuded the air of, “touch anything and you die.”

We walked hurriedly through the store, which turned out to be shiny, dark, and smelly. Also highly lacking in anything we would want to buy. Not that I was overly disappointed. The price range isn’t exactly suited for a college student. As we left, we scurried away from the piercing glare of the guard and his ominous last words, “Thanks ladies. Ya’ll have a nice day.”

It was a narrow escape, and we both breathed a mutual sigh of relief as we put distance between us and those shiny gold bars. Somehow, I don’t think Gucci will be high on our list of places to visit often.

OTTER

The other day I was listening to Priscilla Ahn’s ‘Red Cape,’ and pondering about it. I normally don’t give much thought to lyrics, preferring to merely enjoy them at face value, but a friend had once pointed out how much she liked the meaning behind it. Her account of it being that the cape symbolized a ‘something’ one cannot let go of.

I find this interesting. We all have a ‘red cape,’ I think. Something we cling to, something we feel we could never live without. Whether it’s a person, achievement, dream, ambition, hobby, or vice, without it where would we be? It’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, capes make you fly, right? But sometimes, it’s ‘…caught in the engine of a plane, that’s flying way too low…’ 1

So what do we do about that? It’s not easy to let go of someone or something we’ve been with for many years. However, oftentimes I find that once I let go of something, I instantly feel lighter. Freer. If it’s dragging you down, isn’t that best?

Easier said than done.

Red cape

AME//

NB – I am working on a project, to be completed hopefully in the next two or three months. Once I release it, you will know why it took so long, but until then, await eagerly my public….

More commonly known as ‘spring fever,’ this common calamity often hits citizens unawares a month or so before spring, hence the name. Its symptoms include restless pacing, incessant garden magazine purchasing, damaged eyesight due to constant perusal of seed catalogues, chills from wandering outdoors, and itchy fingers. The only cure is to wait until warmer weather, when it is acceptable to plant without fear of frost, and plunge fingers into warm earth repeatedly until symptoms alleviate.

Alas, it has struck me this year, as it does every year, and I find myself yearning towards beautiful, bountiful bowers of blooms. I was silly enough to escalate the disease by borrowing a book on English roses from the library. It’s oversized high-gloss pages, awash with images of decadent frilly delight, intensify the symptoms til I nearly go starkers. Does anyone else reading suffer this horrid plight? I would love to know I’m not alone.

Part of the problem too is that my fever is never fully satiated. Here in the warm south, with summer temperatures rising well above 100 in the shade, it becomes a chore unbearable to work in the garden during the day. Even the early morning sees heat waves shimmering on the pavement, and it’s more than a soul can bear to brave the rays and step outside at all. So any garden languishes during the later summer months, and so nothing really gets done.

I know this full well, but it doesn’t stop the desire for green things growing around me.

So, this year, I decided to try something a bit new. For me, anyway. As I love herbs and tea, I will make myself a small indoor garden full of such delights as chamomile, lavender, lemongrass, peppermint, and anything else that catches my fancy. Not only will I keep a supply of tea fresh on hand, I will satisfy my gardening desires without ever having to set one tender foot upon the scorching concrete.

A remedy at last? We shall see. This little experiment of mine may prove faulty, in that I may find myself as lazy as ever and not tend to an indoor garden any more than an outdoor. Once it gets underway, I may chronicle its evolution, and perhaps the extra resolution of posting about it here will keep me motivated.

 

 

AME//

 

Yes, I like food. Food and I go way back. We have been in a very intimate relationship pretty much since I was born, well, not considering the brief period of time when I was fed nothing but mushed up…things. Things of that nature are not food. But I digress. Food is pretty wonderful; as I’m sure everyone on the planet will agree with. It comes in many marvelous shapes and colors, forms and textures, degrees of spiciness and sweetness, saltiness and bitterness. After all, if taste, a key element in enjoying food, can make it onto the top five senses list, it must be pretty important.

I won’t bore my readers with a list of all my favorite foods. Such a resplendent compendium would doubtless fill a small paperback. However, why is it that I enjoy ethnic food more than classic American? American is very limited, being generally epitomized by hamburgers and chicken fingers, and perhaps that is the only reason, but I think it also has to do with the fact that American food is too familiar, and its smells and sights and greasy parts have been a component of my genetic makeup for decades.

Of course, as any good foodie will tell you, we don’t have many authentic ethnic eateries in the States. Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Indian, and French food (among many others) have for the most part been adapted and adulterated by our culture. We do have pockets of genuine cooking, in such forms as Chinatown and Little Italy, but these haunts are few and far between and much too much of a travel for most of us.  Still, that doesn’t mean one shouldn’t enjoy the foods America does offer to the utmost. Just don’t expect to meet the same familiar faces when you traverse to their country of origin. Luckily for us, however, real ethnic cuisine tends to exceed in quality the foodstuffs we get here, so you won’t be disappointed.

(A small sidenote –as I type, I am devouring some pecan and chocolate chip cookies. Sustenance for a writer, right?)

The methods people employ when eating are as varied as people themselves. From those who eat daintily, with fork in one hand, knife in the other, delicately chewing each bite thoroughly before inserting the next bite, to those who shovel food in as fast as air will allow, never minding who around them gets hit with the shrapnel, I think it’s safe to say that no one method takes precedence anywhere. I think the majority of the population fluctuates around the middle area, depending on how hungry we are and who we are in front of. I know for myself, I tend to become a little more voracious when alone. So that must make me a member of the fast and the greedy, I suppose.

But what can I say?

I like food…

This is me eating a burrito from Chipotle, my new favorite restaurant. Yes, I enjoy any place that stuffs a pillow-case sized tortilla full of cholesterol-laced goodness. What you see above is my trying to keep said goodness contained within said pillow-case. It is a remarkable accomplishment for anyone who can do it, and I have not yet learned the trick. Guess I’ll just have to keep going back to practice. Oh darn… I also thoroughly enjoy reading the silly anecdotes they put on their cups. I swear, I get so engrossed in those things…

This is a picture of me out with my friends at our annual Girls Night Get-Together. Here we are at The Cheesecake Factory, another scrumptious eatery with portions fit for Goliath. Seriously, I split my meal and still had too much. Ah well. The vittles you see before me are half-masticated bits of Chicken Madeira, a delicious egg encrusted chicken meal with potatoes as good as heaven.

AME//