Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombies Are Like…

The last time I went to the zoo, I seem to remember the tour guide saying how lions, when they ate and had satiated their hunger, a person could literally pet the beast without worrying it would attack. Now, I wouldn’t be so foolish hanging out in a lion’s den, even if I knew they had just finished a course of three gazelles and an antelope, no matter what anyone would attempt to pay me. But the whole experience got me thinking. What makes a lion so different from a zombie?

A majestic lion
A majestic lion

I save these weird and wonderful questions for my Monday Mayhem series as a way to spur discussion, even when I sometimes feel I could do better by writing about the zombie genre’s cult status in cinema. But I digress.

So I thought today I’d write about the similarities between zombies and the animal kingdom by prefacing my thoughts with the phrase “zombies are like” and taking it from there. Who knows, I might actually surprise myself because I’m not sure where this is going to lead.

Zombies are like lions. A pride of lions can devour their prey whole, tearing at the innards until there’s nothing left of the body. Similarly, a horde of zombies can rip apart their victims without so much as waiting to digest what they have sitting in their decomposing stomachs. Lions also will not quit until they have their jaws firmly clamped on their prey’s throat. Not much different to zombies who always end up going for the jugular.

Zombies are like wolves. Wolves hunt in packs. Wolves will surround their prey until there’s no place to escape. Once they’re ready, they will attack without remorse. Zombies will do the same thing. It doesn’t matter if its a house, a barn or a tent. They will surround their victims, attack and not think anything of it. That is to say, if they could think at all.

Zombies are like sharks. At the slightest hint of blood in the waters, sharks will react. They will hunt their prey, wear it down, taunt it, then move in for the kill. Zombie ears and eyes will pick up the slightest vibration and change in scenery. The undead will hunt their victims, exhausting them run after run. They will not tire, and they will not wait. Eventually, the undead will always win.

Zombies are like ants. Okay, so this one is an insect. Haven’t you ever seen insects in a zoo? They swarm their victims in an attempt to overwhelm them and gain the advantage. One ant is insignificant. Many ants is a problem. One ant can’t do much damage, whether it’s during a foraging expedition or a fight. Many ants will cover their victims and consume them to the bone. I’m thinking of the skeletal remains of a yak in the middle of the Arizona desert. It wasn’t only vultures that had feasted on the body.

There you have a few of the animals I think are similar to zombies. They’re aplenty, and I’m sure you probably could think of many others. One thing though—have you thought about zombie similarities with bats? Okay, maybe I’m stretching it. I think I may have entered the vampire domain with this one.

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RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

What animal do you think zombies resemble and why?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombie Swarming

The opening titles to the movie World War Z contains an interesting scene where the audience witnesses ants swarming. The scene, which foreshadows what will happen later in the film, is so brief that it wouldn’t surprise me if folks missed it. Later in the film, the swarming happens again, but this time the creatures are zombies.

Zombie Horde [Photo Credit: Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.]
Zombie Horde [Photo Credit: Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.]
For today’s Monday Mayhem series post I would like to talk about zombie swarming—how it takes place, who is susceptible, and why. It’s all about theory today, folks. If you like to talk about the Horde Effect—I just made that up—then you’ll want to keep reading.

Ants are one of the most interesting insects in nature. They come together, disperse, forage, warn and even lead, all by a chemical built within their small bodies. The chemical they possess goes by the name pheromones. Simply stated, ants produce pheromones to assist their complex colonies in multiple ways.

Ants Eating [Photo Credit: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos]
Ants Eating [Photo Credit: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos]
For instance, when an enemy approaches their colony, ants spray pheromones to warn other ants of impending doom. They also spray their pheromones when they want to ward off ants from other colonies, in effect, protecting their territory. They do likewise if they come across something of interest. This is how they lead other ants to food sources. Have you ever seen how ants seem to follow each other in a straight line to and from a picnic table? That’s how they do it. They spray pheromones from the location of their catch all the way back home so that other ants can follow their trail. It’s quite interesting to see this process at work.

Now, as for zombies, they aren’t much different from insects. Similar to swarming ants, the “modern-day” undead have a way of communicating in order to get things done. I’m talking about their shrieks.

In the old days, zombies lumbered and dragged and lurched. They were slow. They were feeble. Today’s zombies, however, sprint, jump and ram. Hard to deny the power the undead possess when they’re in full attack mode. Their shrieks lead other zombies to potential kills, and the other zombies do the same. On and on it goes. I call it the Horde Effect, but you can call it anything you’d like. The point being, like ants, zombies lead each other to a food supply without knowing they’re doing it out of instinct.

I’m sure there are other similarities between insects and zombies. This post only concentrated on zombie swarming. Perhaps one day I’ll also look at the zombie dormant state and its similarity to bat behavior. Until then, ants can provide a great lesson for humanity, not only in organized social structure, but also in zombie swarming. It’s time to appreciate nature more than for providing us food and resources.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

Have you seen ants lead other ants to food? Do you think zombies function the same way?

Posted in Freedom Friday, Photo Opportunities

Autumn Photography

Every autumn I go on safari. Not really. I treat it as a safari, though. I pack my camera in my satchel, slip on a warm jacket, and head for the woods. What am I hunting, you may ask? Trees, leaves, nature—anything really to depict this glorious season we call fall. And that’s my Freedom Friday introduction to fall photo gathering.

A path to the foot of the woods
A path to the foot of the woods

The adventure typically begins at the foot of the woods a couple of minutes from my home. You see, I live in farm country, near where all the folks from Toronto get their corn, strawberries, and other assorted goods. How close do I live to the woods? I’ve seen foxes chase rabbits from the brush across the street into the neighbor’s backyard at 5:30 in the morning. This happened ten feet from my walk. I’ve seen multiple raccoons frenzying on garbage cans as if bitten by zombies. And I’ve smelled. Yes, smelled—skunks near where I trod. I’ve seen them, too. Tail sticking up. Those are the animals I fear most spilling from the woods. Oh, did I mention the coyotes? We have them, and they’re the dreadful parasites of our town’s existence.

As I was saying, the adventure begins at the foot of the woods. During this time of year when the forests give up their leaves, I’m there capturing it all. I suppose it has to do with the color the season exhibits. Boy, can anyone deny autumn is colorful? I think not. And here I am, in the middle of the woods, the threat of coyotes at every turn, snapping photos of anything that may inspire me to share with others.

Beautiful morning majesty
Beautiful morning majesty
The woods
The woods
Leaves that have yet to change color
Leaves that have yet to change color

The time I get the absolute best photos is either early in the morning, as the sun makes its appearance in the horizon or in the evening just when the light turns all sorts of golden hues along the edge of the tree line. I’ve taken shots in the middle of the woods just as dusk approached. Reminiscent of Dorothy’s travels through The Wizard of Oz’s Dark Forest, the day fades, the wind howls, and it does get creepy. But it doesn’t stop teenagers hitting the woods at night to have their secret rendezvous. On occasion, I’ve come across the remnant of empty bottles near a felled tree, a spot I suppose popular with the young crowd.

The log where teens hang out
The log where teens hang out
I think I know where I'm going
I think I know where I’m going
Enjoying the crunching leaves
Enjoying the crunching leaves
Inside the woods
Inside the woods

The woods have paths I can walk yet there are times the leaves cover the paths making it difficult to find my way back. I’ve gotten lost several times only to find my way back after having remembered what the trees looked like from mental notes of my journey. Believe me when I say it’s not fun not knowing where you are in the grand scheme of things.

I have to say this: whenever I’m out there with my camera taking those eye-popping photos of the foliage, sometimes my breath catches. It’s as if I’m seeing things for the very first time, enjoying every moment. The colors are vivid and beautiful, the air crisp, and the area is so much at peace without human interference. I’m glad I have the woods as my fortress of solitude. Everyone needs a place of refuge. The woods are mine.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

Do you take photos of the foliage every year? Do you have a fortress of solitude?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombie Apocalypse: Failure?

Do you know what I realized the other day? Whenever I talk about the zombie apocalypse with my friends, I’m always assuming it is possible. I never think for a moment that something so absurd would be impossible. Then again, I do write about zombies, so how weird is that?

Military
Military

Back in May, I wrote a Monday Mayhem post called Zombie Apocalypse: Causes. In the post, I detail reasons why I think a Zombie Apocalypse could happen.

But, what if? What if zombies suddenly rise from their graves because of some freak event and we’re right there in the middle of the mess? Do you honestly believe these walking disasters have a chance of carrying out their diabolical plan to rip our cerebral cortexes from our skulls, all the while their moaning and grunting betray their physical locations?

Before y’all jump me at once let’s say this together. Raise your right hand: I know a zombie apocalypse is possible but I won’t beat Jack senseless for thinking otherwise.

Once you’ve said that three times, you can go on ahead and read why I’m entertaining thoughts contrary to an undead global meltdown.

Tornado
Tornado

Elements of Nature—How long do you think zombies would survive in the middle of our Canadian Winter? One day? Two days? On February 18, our weather here in Ontario dropped from 0°C/32°F to -16°C/3.2°F. That’s a sixteen-degree differential in the span of one day. In December 2012, we had a full week of sustained temperatures below freezing. I hope zombies dress warm if they ever decide to invade in the middle of winter. In June, floodwaters ravaged townships in Alberta leaving them desolate and empty. In Calgary, the city came to a standstill as chest-deep waters flooded the downtown core. Do zombies know how to swim? The list goes on, with a myriad of other natural disasters that have occurred this year ranging from tornadoes all the way to heat waves. If a zombie apocalypse has to take hold, it had better time it right. Mother Nature would have first dibs at the bodies rising, that’s for sure.

Animals Are the Zombies Second Worst Nightmare—I’d like to see a few of those belly suckers attempt to cross a cornfield in the middle of the day. First of all, they’d never survive a head on onslaught of crows nosediving from twenty feet in the air to peck out their eyes. Buzzards or turkey vultures are worse. Their six-foot wingspan allows them to travel 30-50 miles in search for food, and they can smell death a mile away. Their bills have a design to plunge deep within a carcass to retrieve its meal. Let’s not even talk about wolves. These pack hunting canine wonders of nature can eat 15-19% of their body weight in one sitting. If zombies should happen to make contact with any of these animals, it’s lights out.

We Are the Zombies Worst Nightmare—Let’s imagine for a few moments a world on the cusp of filling with a legion of zombies out to harvest our innards. Forget about World War Z’s fast zombies. As cool as they are, let’s think old school. You know, the roaming kind, lurching forward, arms drawn outward, smelling for frontal lobe delicacies. What are the chances they’d survive with us as their enemies? I’d say we’d have a pretty good shot at putting down the infestation right out of the gate. Think about it. We’ve got guns, knives, bullets, bombs, missiles, rockets, cannons, flamethrowers, heavy artillery, assault vehicles, battle fatigues and some of us even have martial arts training. What do the zombies have? Nothing. A couple of loose teeth, a few broken nails, and maybe those golden three hours after death between Primary Flaccidity and Rigor Mortis where they could do the most damage. Beyond that, we win.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.

Just for fun, can you think of other reasons why a zombie apocalypse wouldn’t work?