Wednesday, December 15, 2010

This Week in Menace

We’ve been re-crib training Ronnie the past week. She’s been refusing to go to bed at night. I’m not really sure what happened. Mr. b thinks our Thanksgiving travels “broke” her. I admit, the timing is suspect, but I don’t know that staying at her great-aunt’s house is the actual culprit. Still, it has sucked since we got back. First she would go to sleep quite quickly in one of our laps while we were watching TV, so it didn’t really strike us as any big deal. But then we realized we were totally getting played. Still, if you put her into her crib, she’d stiffen and stand up and start screaming. And that’s hardly fair to her brother who has to actually go to school and learn and stuff.

Back to crib-training methodology. Since late last week I’ve refused to bring Ronnie out of their bedroom, instead holding her while sitting on the edge of Brother’s bed. She’ll quiet down right away but then stiffen and stand and scream when I set her down again. Thankfully Kirk seems to be able to fall asleep during this circus. Some nights it has taken over an hour of letting her cry for five minutes, hold for five minutes, cry for five minutes, before she’ll fall asleep in my arms and I have to carefully lay her down lest she wake up and start the whole process over again. Sunday night it was taking so many trips into their room that I caved and brought her into the living room to sit with us. And she got all rowdy, having “won”. We ended up bringing her to bed with us and all had a fitful night’s sleep. I think she knows she lost the war though. Monday night she still fought but last night I only went in there once before she fell asleep. We’ll see if this keeps up or if it’s only a lull.

I’m not sure if this is a reversion signaling a new development or not. She gets into everything. Not just the usual menacing that we’ve been dealing with. We have child-proofed cabinets and drawers but Mr. b has resorted to taping the refrigerator closed. Otherwise she’s always in there, helping herself or bringing us sandwich meat or pickle jars, demanding that we get her some of whatever she’s carrying. He told me he just taped shut the craft drawer that contains the crayons as well. We hardly have any crayons left; she chews them all into nothing.

I think this new round of destruction actually coincides with her burgeoning language skills. My dear friends Hot Stuff and Keith Moon are adopting an adorable little man from China. He’s just a couple of weeks older than Veronica and I told them they should learn her vocabulary in Chinese so they have a starting point with communication. Of course he’ll have a toddler accent so maybe that won’t help anyways... Here’s Miss Ron-Ronica’s list of current words – keeping in mind that “current” means two weeks ago when I compiled this list. She’s already got new ones and keeps adding something nearly everyday. Context is clearly everything.

No – Nose
No – Snow
Dek – Yes
Bubba – Brother
Biss – Please
Bess – Mess
Bat – Bath
Poohn – Spoon
Sss – Juice
Oose – Shoes
Baby – Blankie
Nake – Snake
Ut – Hook
Buht – Book

Friday, December 03, 2010


My friend Peachy Keen discovered that Laurell K. Hamilton wrote a Star Trek novel! Naturally we were aghast and titillated, imagining vampire sex orgies on the Enterprise. Since she doesn’t have decent library access, I was tasked with tracking down a copy of Nightshade (Star Trek The Next Generation No 24).

Nightshade takes place largely on planet Oriana where Picard, Troi, and Worf make up the ambassadorial team sent to help end a 200 year civil war. The fighting has so thoroughly destroyed the planet the opposing forces are willing to meet for peace talks simply because their self-annihilation is imminent. Naturally Picard gets accused of murder and Worf has to take over as Federation Ambassador. The B story takes place on an alien vessel where the Enterprise has been called on a rescue mission. Geordi, Crusher, and Data are working to repair the damage and save the crew.

At first, I found myself paying far closer attention to the writing style than the story itself. I was fascinated with trying to get a glimpse of Anita Blake in the text of this book published in 1992, a full year before Guilty Pleasures came out. This novel switched perspective too many times for my taste. Certain of the characters were much weaker but thankfully Troi, Geordi, and Worf were written very well. Perhaps because they got the most “screentime”. Troi in particular was fully formed right from the start. Hamilton is always great at showing how being so short and small affect Anita’s view of the world and that came through for Deanna. I never particularly connected with that character on the show but here she seemed much more than a drinking game “I can sense his anger, Captain” joke. Hamilton also excels at describing what altered states look and feel like and how various powers affect the users and those around them. Again, this seemed perfectly suited to Troi and her Betazed empath abilities. I thoroughly enjoyed all the passages where she was sensing the emotions of those around her, whereas that shit bugged hard on the show. Unexpectedly, the ability to clearly show other mindsets worked well for Worf and Geordi as well. Worf’s Klingon-ness and Geordi’s VISOR sight were relevant in ways I would not have expected but they were absolutely perfect for the story.

I did find some of the Trekkie jargon to be jarring. It was as though Hamilton was given a dossier and checked off character and episode references as she worked them into the narrative. I suppose it might have been some sort of fan-service but knowing that this was an actual novel-for-hire project makes the check list scenario more likely. And the alien names were definitely unwieldy. I glossed over “Orianian” because it just never flowed off my mental tongue. Some of the alien character names too were just silly. But that’s a minor quibble. The biggest Trek issue I had was the heavy-handed moralizing and allegory. But again, that seemed to me like part of the assignment and not any kind of message from the author. And it certainly fits in with Star Trek’s MO from the very start.

There were some very gruesome moments and Hamilton’s panache for gore really served the story well. Without being explicit, she was able to imbue a sense of dread and horror into the places it was most needed.

Hamilton’s ability to write about how characters rely on each other without having to discuss it aloud was also a strength in this story. Because it was underscored throughout by Troi’s and Worf’s relationship. Since the book was published a full year before my beloved “Parallels” even aired, I have to wonder if that was her own decision or part of the franchise mandate to set up the shipping to come. I loved everything about their interactions with each other, their complete trust and reliance on each other, the care and affection they showed each other. Yes, a part of me would have loved to read Incubus Dreams-era Hamilton’s take on a raunchy Troi/Worf sex scene. But I know it was better this way.

Ultimately, Nightshade served to remind me of what Hamilton can do when she actually tries. Oh, the writing wasn’t perfect. She used some of the phrases that drive me nuts in the Anita Blake series (Riker relaxed a muscle he didn’t know he was tensing / Anita let out a breath she didn’t know she was holding) and as I mentioned above, the switching between perspectives was neither successful nor consistent. But it did make me put the new Blake novel Hit List on my library wait queue for when it’s published next year. It should be interesting to see if my opinion of that series changes for having read this foray into sci-fi.