Friday, June 30, 2006

little leopard

I've been reading Christine Feehan's Dark Challenge, which is full of leopards of both the natural and shapeshifter varieties. So what should appear in my yard than a leopard moth? This was exciting, as we found leopard moth caterpillars last year. What a cool wee beastie.

(By the way, enjoying but not loving the Feehan. Full of Everests and Death Valleys with not a lot of level terrain to even things out. Still and all, a really fun read.)

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Reminder to Self: Slow Down on the Caffeine

This picture makes me laugh every time I look at it. From flickr, taken by Ken Ilio.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Fewer Calories, Less Taste

review continued from previous post
Micah, Hamilton's latest offering, promises the story of Blake's wereleopard partner. In a previous novel, Micah appeared more or less out of the blue and was instantly recognized by Blake as her soulmate. Micah is short, standing eye-to-eye with the petite necromancer. Notable for his size (short he ain't, if you catch my drift) and eyes (permanently in shape-shifted leopard form), Micah manages to insert himself into Blake's life and bed without greatly upsetting her other partners, a considerable feat. He has a mysterious past, hinted at but not explored until now.

But Micah's life story turns out not to be the mystery explored here, or at least not primarily. We get his past, which is interesting but not particularly noteworthy. Instead, the focus is on the pair's current relationship, put to the test by their first trip together without any of the other weres or vampires around. Micah makes the event into a luxurious honeymoon, with Blake having conniption fits over what this means about their relationship. We've come to expect this sort of introspection from Blake, but here, without any complications from other characters, there's not a lot to explore. Her discomfort with the situation quickly becomes old. Get over it, Anita. Micah means a lot to you. Quit throwing hissy fits and sleep with him!

Meanwhile, the central plot about a zombie-raising gone wrong is simple, again lacking the marvelous personal and political convolutions that make the other novels so messy and wonderful. And Blake herself is oddly powerless, finding the zombie too strong to control. I guess this is what bothers me the most. Throughout the novel, Blake seems adrift, along for the ride. Her "damn the torpedoes" attitude, so much a part of her person, is strangely missing here. In bed, she is tentative. (Will he fit? Yikes!) In power, she is bereft. C'mon, Anita, take control! Pull out that gun and blast that zombie into scummy little necrotic blobs!

The underlying problem seems to be Micah. As a character, he lacks the complexity to stand up to Blake. His psychological issues aren't as richly explored as those of Richard, the werewolf king, and his power can't stand up to Jean Claude's, the master vampire. His length and breadth, while greater, can't make up for his smaller stature overall. He is, in the end, just a little guy.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

school project

mobile another view
Originally uploaded by normanack.
The boy's school is famous for assigning huge projects. They are imaginative (create an African newspaper), sometimes traditional (make a poster about a current world event), forward thinking (make a power point presentation on a country's inventions) and always involve as much time on the presentation as on content. Here is the boy's take on a mobile representing the taiga biome. He did all the research. I helped print the pictures and his dad helped him construct the physical object. Even his sister helped with the drawing of a food web attached to the bottom. William chose pictures from flickr, where I directed him to the creative-commons licensed ones whenever possible. Phew -- it takes me right back to middle school, every night, in my dreams.