September 2009

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It was my great pleasure to have a chance to work with eminent entomologist May Berenbaum last year. May has a new book out called The Earwig’s Tail. It is an A-Z bestiary of insect myths that May dispatches with a great deal of wit. I was lucky enough to be asked to do the illustrations. The publisher used two of my illustrations on the cover.
earwig

I tried to do the illustrations in the style of a Medieval Bestiary. You can judge how successful I was. Here is the original illustration featuring the earwig (it’s teeny tiny of the cover).

B_Earwing_web

For those interested in the process, I would read May’s essay and then generate 2-7 rough sketches and post them on my website for her to consider. She would tell me which one she liked and I would ink it. On a few occassions it was “none of the above” and I would head by to the drawing board. Follow this link to see the seven rough sketches I did for the Headless Cockroach essay. The final illustration is below.

H_roach_web

Over the last five months or so I have been writing a book called Evolution: The History of Life on Earth for Hill and Wang. It has been an exciting process working with my editor Howard Zimmerman and the artist Zander Cannon and Kevin Cannon.

The only down side is that I don’t get to draw it. Consequently, it has been a while since I put pen to paper. So,I decided to give myself a few hours to make the following illustration for my Invertebrate Biology class. It is the life cycle of the liver fluke and it includes poop and mind-control.  What could be better?

LiverFluke_small

Fire is the pits

Last weekend we decided to build a fire pit in the back yard. The primary motivation was to make s’mores and its amazing how motivated the boys can be when sugary confections are at stake. We worked well into the dark of night with only a small LED keychain light to guide us. For some reason, none of our regular flashlights work. Its almost as if some small children had played with them and run down all the batteries. Hm.

fire pit 2

We couldn’t complete it all Saturday night, so we began again bright and early Sunday morning. Dew soaked our shoes, but we completed the pit and it was already for a test drive. That plan was for s’mores Sunday evening, but that night our friend Jingxia taught us how to make authentic Chinese dumplings. Actually, she taught Lisa. My job was to engage the cadre of pint-size Faculty rugrats in my official role as “Tall Uncle.” It took a while and I was exhausted by the time the dumplings were done, but they were worth the wait. The only downside was that we didn’t get home until late. S’mores would have to wait until Labor Day evening.

Dumplings1 Dumplings2
Dumplings3

At last, the moment had come. Using sticks and old Mountain Dew cases as kindling, the fire roared to life. Okay, it meowed to life. Below we are preparing for the great s’more gathering. Note the looks of unbridled anticipation. We had made manly fire. Now, it as time to melt some glucose-y goodness.

Fire pit