Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bronx Zoo

Showing off

After going for a 4 mile run this morning, I took the train up to the Bronx Zoo, in, well, the Bronx.

I've been spoilt by Asian zoos: Taipei and Singapore are both excellently laid out and get you very close to a wide variety of animals. When we went into the Bronx Zoo, we seemed to be presented with a series of empty enclosures, or some ducks and a couple of dirty swans. That's probably an unfair criticism; there's a lot of space given to one snow leopard, which is probably good for the cat if not for the spectators, and we may not have taken the optimal route through the zoo. But even so, it felt ever so underwhelming as we made our way through the southern half of the zoo.

All this changed when we reached the bird house, which has a great variety of different birds on display. The upper floor of the bird house gives a higher view of the enclosures you've walked around earlier, and sometimes with far less between you and the birds. In particular, one of the rooms has hornbills flying right around you, and letting you get within 12 inches of them to take a photograph. Hornbills look like very old women with big, fluffy white hairdos. And enormous beaks, capable of taking your eye out.

My nightmares are haunted by little old ladies with enormous beaks.

Miss Havisham, eat your heart out. Literally.

When we left the bird house, the sunny day had mysteriously changed into a rain storm, so we retreated back to the subway station and went back to Manhattan to buy comic books and eat unwisely. I was wearing my new GPS which told us we'd burned 400 calories walking round the zoo, but I don't think eating as much cheese, frozen yoghurt and cupcakes as possible was a wise reaction to this.

Our eating spree concluded at Fig & Olive, down in the Meatpacking district, which included a surprisingly hot cold avocado soup. Well, cold avocado soup with tabasco in it. As it's NYC Restaurant Week there was a special cheap menu, without a vegetarian entree, but we obtained a mushroom pasta for me that was ... vaguely ok, but nothing special. Still, the soup and the frankly ludicrous sweet bruscetta (vanilla biscuit, marscapone and raspberry) made up for that.

I don't think we learned as much as we did yesterday, when we were stuffed full of amphibian facts at the frog exhibition. I will point out though that a raspberry is not a berry. It's a collection of berries, fruit pedantry fans.

It turns out that all of England is now rioting (this is what happens when my parents leave the country for a few weeks, but at least demonstrates the wisdom of my wedding schedule). There's some vaguely ridiculous talk about how all the riots were coordinated via Blackberry Messenger, which is just daft, because there's lots of other ways they could have done it: it's not like this is some amazing thing that couldn't have been achieved with texts or internet forums in the mid-90s.

Unless the news outlets are suggesting Blackberries are so annoying to use that they've inspired rioting. Or that they're the ghetto-iphone for an angry and disenfranchised generation, envious of their Arabian counterparts for getting a revolution in early. Maybe the Libiyan military will be trying to depose David Cameron next.

I don't think it's the Blackberries, if only because I'm writing this on one and don't feel like rioting. Yet. I'm vaguely suspicious that this may be an opportunity to put stricter controls on people in place, or distract from the recent furore over Rupert Murdoch. Or could News International be bigging up these riots out of revenge? Have I been treating Tomorrow Never Dies as a documentary? Or does this just explain why Research In Motion's shares were up 5% today?


Anonymous said...

It was Fig & Olive! Candy

Mr Cushtie said...

Thanks Candy! Fixed now. Almost called it Fig & Leaf in some weird Freudian slip...

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