Friday, September 26, 2008

Bite Me -- or Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow

I admit to a weakness for vampire and, more recently, werewolf fiction. I especially love the Southern Vampire Series by Charlaine Harris (first book: Dead Until Dark) and the Betsy books by Mary Janice Davidson (first book: Undead and Unwed).

A new title caught my eye at the library last week. Sharp Teeth, by Toby Barlow. I loved the cover, red with a black snarling dog silhouette. Nick Hornby had a quote on the back -- love his books, so was likely to like this one. Until I started reading it, I didn't realize it was written in Free Verse. Yikes! this took me back to High School and all those ancient Greek stories and plays. I was stuck on the plane with no other book in sight, so I dove in. It was amazing.

The free verse gave it a cadence that matched the momentum of the story. It's lyrical and the form allows Barlow to use his words to almost paint pictures. I often 'see' a book when I'm reading it. This one felt like a full blown movie -- with a sound track. It's essentially well written suspense/crime novel that focuses on men (and a few women) who can change into werewolves at will. When in wolf form they can pass as dogs. They recruit other people who are "strong and lost" to join their packs. For fun, they blow off steam out in the desert in wolf form, munching on steak they bring in coolers.

Anthony is a down on his luck LA native who ends up with a job as a dog catcher. He falls in love with a female werewolf who's left her pack and determined to keep the other wolves from outing her. The packs in LA range from one run by a lawyer to one run by thugs and a third by surfers. The dogs and men play cards, break up meth labs, run scams and take over the dog pound. One is adopted in dog form and uses his new home as a safe-house to hide from the other dogs. A dedicated cop gets drawn in and has a hard time believing what he's seeing, even after it's clear what these people actually are. No matter how I try to describe it, I can't do this justice.

There is a great New York Times Book Review by Sam Anderson here: Let me know if you read the book and what you think!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Rain rain go away

We had 11 inches of rain in the Kalamazoo area over the weekend. Remnants of two hurricanes came north and dumped on us.
The Kalamazoo River is at it's highest flood stage in 20 years and parts of downtown Kalamazoo are blocked off due to water over the road.
The above picture is looking out my employers front lobby at where there are normally cars parked in the parking lot. We are about 1/2 mile away from the river but still at flooding water level. My office is at the northern end of this complex and away from all of this mess so luckily I'm high and dry.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bea Joins the Family

Henry has a new friend, and regardless of what he may think, she's joined the family. We officially adopted Bea (short for Beatrice) today from the SPCA. Henry came from the SPCA with the name Prince Henry, so we thought it was only fitting to add Princess Beatrice to the family. (Of course, we don't use the Prince or Princess.) Bea's name at the foster was Beanie . . . and since she's not a football player for Ohio State, and we don't want to be taken for OSU fans, Bea she is. She is also a Pit-mix and between 6-7 months old. We've had her for the last 2 weeks on a trial basis and she's been a fun addition, adding all kinds of shenanigans to the mix. Right now, we're working on breaking her of litter-box snacking (ugh!) and of cat wrangling. She hasn't actually really seen a cat, but she's poked her nose under all the beds trying to see what they are. They protest violently, and sooner or later she'll get a swipe on the nose. That may not stop her, though!

In other news, glamping was great fun (see previous post) and both more and less rustic than I thought it might be. We were in a lovely spot north of Santa Barbara, CA in a canyon between some very rugged hills full of chaparral and poison oak. I managed to see both a bobcat (racing away from us as fast as it could go) and the fattest skunk I've ever seen. We were also bedeviled by very tame raccoons who wanted our s'mores fixings. We also got a lot of work done and finished 30+ new product concepts that will go for testing in a few weeks. Sometime after the beginning of next year our team will get to see some of the ideas we'll be working on for 2010 and 2011. We do work that far in advance! What I didn't have, however, was reliable Internet access. Very frustrating, because now I have to spend time this weekend catching up on my email and other work stuff.

Next week I'm off to CA again. Lucky me! (Can't quite figure out how to convey sarcasm in a blog post. . . anyone have an idea to share?) It's a bit late in the game, but suddenly we need to find a different co-manufacturer for the new product that I'm working on for 2009. I'll be gone the majority of the week, so Tim has full dog duty again, bless that man!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Labor Day and other goins' on

Check out Mom, me and Katie kayaking during Labor Day weekend. Mom had never been kayaking before and did great . . . I'm sure we can convince her to go with us again. Katie's been out on a kayak a couple of times and looked like a pro. We saw some awesome turtles, including a pretty big snapper and some blue herons, but not much else on this trip.
Both Katie and Mom visited over the holiday weekend and we had such fun. Katie came out first and we went camping at Yankee Springs State Park on Thursday. We took Jake (her dog) to see if he was up for camping. It was busy at the park and there were lots of people and other dogs, but Jake did great. He didn't like the rain at 4 am on Friday, but settled down after a while. Yankee Springs is on a Gun Lake, a beautiful and pretty big lake so we wandered along the shore line with Jake and hiked in the wood for a couple of hours. We all had fun and it started the weekend off right.
Mom joined us Friday evening and the famous kayak trip on the Kalamazoo river was Saturday. We made sure to get some good ice cream at the end of the trip too! Mom went to church with us on Sunday and Katie got on the road for home later that afternoon. She hung out for a while because we were waiting for a special delivery. Yes, we are trying a second dog again. She's a cute 6 month old pit-mix and we're pretty sure this one is going to fit our family. We are having fun so far and can deal with any of the challenges she brings. It's always an adjustment when someone new joins the family, so we expected to have to make some changes. I'll let you know more when we decide to officially welcome her.
Now I'm off on another fairly heavy travel schedule over the next few months. Of course, some of the travel will be fun, like Joshy's wedding (only 5 more weekends!). I'm off to Santa Barbara, CA all next week for work. My flight tomorrow is at 6:50 am -- way too early and I get back Friday evening. We're staying at a cool resort -- where they specialize in Glamour Camping, or Glamping as my co-workers are calling it. We'll do creative ideation for new ideas for Kashi for 2011 and beyond. If you have any good ideas, be sure to let me know!