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Art by Allison Julien

Jellyfish are beautiful. Scary. But beautiful. Natural works of art. No one I know appreciates this more than the artist Allison Julien. She captures their delicate, beautiful forms and adds a touch of whimsy.

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“Jellyfish Dreams” 

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“Jellyfish Salesman” (This is my favorite)

She also captures other, less appreciated natural wonders and presents a sense of mythology and mystery.

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“Scarab”

Prints of Allison’s works can be found and purchased at https://society6.com/ajulieninks

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Guys… guys… These.

The bad news is I have been out of commission for a while, and I apologize. The good news is, I am one month away from FINISHING MY PHD! YAY! So I should be able to post things more regularly again. Hooray for all caudate, art, and weird animal fans.

As an apology, enjoy these amazing Toothless/ Night Fury sculptures.

If you feel the need to own one of these amazing works of art (as I do…), they can be found here: Demiurgus Dreams Etsy Shop

 

April 2015 Book of the Month: The War of the Wizards

I have been searching for this book for YEARS. I read this book as a small girl and received sooooo many rainy afternoons of pleasure from its pages.

The War of the Wizards (not to be confused with War with the Newts) by Carol Gaskin is a Forgotten Forest book. It is a classic choose your own adventure type book. I had a difficult time finding it as I had forgotten (haha, the irony…) which series it belonged to, and using War of the Wizards as a search brings back other, better selling choose your own adventures.

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Yep. Classic cover art.

 

The premise: you are the apprentice to the wisest wizard of all. You think he’s an old fart. He and his all powerful buddies (a hot sorceress and a fire wizard who lives in a volcano) are on the verge of war. What do you do???

This is my all time favorite choose your own adventure. I still remember most of the endings (I don’t remember the “good” ending, but those are always boring). In my favorite ending of all, which is why this was dubbed BOOK OF THE MONTH, you go to speak to the fire wizard.

Paraphrased (from my 9 year old self’s memory, so it is not a spoiler):

The fire wizard is, predictably, a real hot head. You sneak into his fortress by using a spell to turn you into a huge fire salamander. He finds you. I don’t remember why, I think your boss already talked to him or something, but he decides peace is a super idea on his own. However, he has been wanting a giant fire salamander for a pet for sooooo long… You are doomed forever to be his big squishy pet.

Salamander wizard pet.

Salamander wizard pet.

That made me super happy. I loved that ending.

I recall endings involving turning into toads, involving magical illnesses, involving horrible death… Even if you don’t like choose your own adventures (are you mad?) I recommend this book for the salamander ending. Also, for this type of book, it actually has pretty well developed characters. There were dozens of these in my childhood library, and I can safely say this is the only one I can solidly remember.

Take an afternoon and get lost backtracking through your poor decisions in War of the Wizards!!

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March 2015 Book of the Month: Animist by Eve Forward

Sorry, I’ve been MIA. I went on a salamander breeding trip to Omaha to work with my beloved blue spotted salamanders. I just finished my travel book, and had to make it the book of the month.

I am going to break from tradition here… Next month I promise to get back to the book of the month being about something slimy and scaly and lovable, but this month, sorry to say, is about something fuzzy and lovable. At least, I think so. It’s about rats.

I come with plague.

I come with plague.

HOWEVER- the book does feature the best animal on the planet, the axolotl, which kind of takes the place of koi fish as ornamental pond creatures.

If I look pretty, does you feed me????

If I look pretty, does you feed me????

AND it features an awesome reptilian militant character with feathers, which I imagined to look a lot like this:

Rawr.

Rawr.

Anyway. Rats. To be fair, many people have come to accept rats as smart, highly sociable, highly affectionate little critters that are not very different than humans. They express emotions much like us:

However, there are still many people who are a bit freaked out by rats. The book Animist, by Eve Forward, will definitely help people get over those feelings. I know after reading it, I want to run out and buy a bunch of gerbils like I had growing up. I miss those little cuties.

Hi!

Hi! Rodents are fun!

The plot of this novel is a basic fantasy plot (boy goes on quest, boy overcomes odds, boy finds self along way) with a twisted thread of the pied piper legend tied in there, with the heavy overtones of racism (and/or animal welfare). While I loved the plot (especially the pied piper bit), it could have been a lot tighter. There were lots of gaps and questions left unanswered.

However, the strength of the main characters and the detail with which the author clearly knows animal behavior and physiology made this book great. I love seeing fiction that knows what it is talking about, and this is just that.

Through all of it, though, Animist is a story of a boy and his rat, which anyone who has bonded to an animal can appreciate. His relationship with his Anim (bonded familiar-like critter) is incredibly touching. It brought me to tears at one point, I am not going to lie. There is a race of rat people who refer to his Anim as the “mookchee,” which means something mystical but just sounds adorable. The main character (our animist) spiritually bonds with his rat by accident, and I appreciate the way he goes through some stages of disappointment and denial until he comes around to the fact that he loves his rat.

I decided to read this book because the author, Eve Forward, wrote my favorite book of all time: Villans by Necessity. That book is still the best read EVER. I checked to see if she had written anything else, and found Animist. She apparently wrote Animist first. I have to say, the cover put me off a little (which is in contrast to Villans by Necessity which has a GLORIOUS cover). I am glad I followed the old adage and did not judge a book by its cover.

This is one of those instances where clearly  the artist knew nothing about the book. Not only does the main character look NOTHING like the guy on the cover, I have no idea what is up with the monkeys and the wolves. There is one monkey somewhere in the book for maybe 2 pages. And I think someone says something about wanting to have a fox that looks like a wolf as their Anim at some point.

Anyway, my best friend recommended Villains by Necessity back in the day, which is still  my favorite book. She (at about that time) had a slew of pet rats (she had 2 “females” and ended up with like 12 rats, but her mom was kind hearted and just divided them up by sex and kept them all). I remember how super sweet they were and she would always call “reeeeaaat” to them in a high pitched voice.

So, my point? FULL CIRCLE.

Snuggles.

Rat snuggles.

 

 

 

 

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Titan Thursday: Someone made an Otachi plush, and it couldn’t be more AWESOME

I was looking up resin models, and I found THIS. I am an AVID fan of Pacific Rim, and my favorite kaiju (“monster,” for any of you who have been so unlucky as to have not seen the film) has got to be Otachi… or really… the adorable little googly eyed Otachi baby.

Googly goo.

Googly goo.

When I saw that someone made an OTACHI PLUSH, it was a stop the presses moment. We all must revel in the absolute awesomeness and adorableness of this plushy Otachi (with baby!!!) made by “pookat” (Jennifer) at deviantart. I think the only thing that could have made it better (for lack of a better word, because honestly this is the best thing ever) would be to give it a pocket, like those “Puppy Surprise” toys from the 90s, that the baby could be inserted into and popped out of. It may not be as snuggly looking as the Japanese giant salamander plush, but this is amazing.

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Titan Thursday: Monster Anatomy 101

These are apparently a big thing, you can find a huge number of renditions of monster anatomy on the internet. Being a veterinarian, I find these pure genius. The more classic looking ones are from an art book called An Anatomical Guide to Monsters, from 1967 by Shogo Endo. The more modern monsters are by Brad McGinty. I am a big fan of the classic looking Godzilla. It’s always fun to pull that one out in a power point in the middle of a dry lecture or meeting.

 

 

This is my favorite. I need a poster or a t-shirt of this.

This is my favorite. I need a poster or a t-shirt of this.

Gamera!! Yay! There are several of Gamera (well, of all the monsters), but I like the more classic look of this one.

Gamera!! Yay! There are several of Gamera (well, of all the monsters), but I like the more classic look of this one.

Gayos. I like the little magnified bits.

Gayos. I like the little magnified bits.

On a cuter note: Gizmo! Rules included.

On a cuter note: Gizmo (Mogwai)! Rules included.

For comparison: A gremlin.

For comparison: A gremlin.

Xenomorph!! This one is a little cartoonish for my taste, but I love me some xenomorphs.

Xenomorph!! This one is a little cartoonish for my taste, but I love me some xenomorphs.

And, of course, the face hugger. This is one of my favorites.

And, of course, the face hugger. This is one of my favorites.

Can't show a xenomorph without a Predator.

Can’t show a xenomorph without a Predator.

 

 

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Science Art

Is there a better combination than science and art? Emma Lazauski’s “Bestiary” collection gives definitive proof that, no, there is not.

 

 

Of COURSE this is what caught my attention. The "Hot Springs Salamander." Just... Awesome.

Of COURSE this is what caught my attention. The “Hot Springs Salamander.” Just… Awesome.

This "Smokey Serpent" reminds me of Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent Aztec god.

This “Smokey Serpent” reminds me of Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent Aztec god.

"Bottled Cryptocephus," looks like a nautilus trying to escape.

“Bottled Cryptocephus,” looks like a nautilus/crab thing trying to escape.

"Poison Spitter." I want a dragon in a bottle.

“Poison Spitter.” I want a dragon in a bottle. Or just a dragon.

"Bottled Pale Creature." Bad. Ass.

“Bottled Pale Creature.” Bad. Ass.

These are just selections. The rest of Bestiary, and her other collections, can be found at www.InklingArt.com