Monday, June 30, 2008
The book is being adapted for film by Michael Straczynski, one of the top writers for the television science fiction series Babylon 5. Here is an excerpt from an early review of the script at CinemaBlend.com:
I love this script. Love every dark, somber, upsetting page of it. There’s a story about black market organs that is just brutal, an off-the-record conversation with a CIA friend, and an insane beach sequence that I can’t wait to see on film. All in the first 50 pages.
You can read more about the script here. You can also read a review of the book here, in Issue 1 of Dante's Heart. Finally, an interview with the author about the upcoming film is available here.
Friday, June 27, 2008
This is a genuinely strange bit of news that I stumbled across this morning:
The latest technology has been used to create a striking image of one of the world's most famous mythical creatures.
Experts projected the Loch Ness Monster on to the waters of the loch to recreate a scene from the film The Water Horse: Legend Of The Deep.
Crowds in Inverness-shire gathered to view the image of the beast, which is the subject of the 2007 Hollywood movie.
The projection was created using water jets and large semi-circular water screens.
It was staged to coincide with the DVD release of the movie on Monday.
What do you make of that?
It must have been a wonder to see. The idea of imprinting or impressing the images of our imagined monsters onto the landscape is a very old one - just look at this - but this is a new way of doing it. I am trying to picture in my mind what that projection must have looked like. It certainly makes for remarkable publicity for the movie - what a way to sell an audience on the magic of the film!
Water is already magical. Imagine being in that crowd on the bank of Loch Ness, gazing out over the cold water as such a beautiful creature shimmers into being.
Can I have a Water Horse, too?
(By the way, for those who may be fascinated by the enduring Loch Ness legend and by the continuing ardor of so many "Nessie"-hunters, you may enjoy this site, which tracks Nessie sightings and catalogues various bits of Nessie lore and memorabilia.)
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Take a look at Chandra's elfin and faerie marionettes (above, left)! They are a feast of delights. I need to be sure to show them to our poetry editor, who is an inspired puppeteer and an enthusiast of people with strings.
Most recently on her blog, Chandra has posted an illustration (see below) and an excerpt from her children's book set in Scotland of the 1880s, a fairy tale described by the illustrator (Julia Jeffrey) as:
"...a rattling tale, featuring Victorian Oxford dons, Shakespearian fairies, selkies, tortured ghosts, and talking dogs...."
This is definitely worth taking a look. I understand that Chandra Peltier is in the final stages of editing her book, and I am eager to see it. We need more hobgoblins and maverick fairies in contemporary literature!
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Our ship passes white temples as massive as mountains -- mountains white as snow beneath this blinding sun, and sharp and pointed as any sword. Who would have thought human hands could have made such things? Neht-nefret says the ancient kings are laid there. The people of Kemet build many temples, Muslak says, and very large ones, of which the mountain-temples are largest of all. If gods wished temples, would they not build them? They build mountains and plant forests instead, and that is what I would do were I a god.
I am reminded of YHWH's answer to David, when the Hebrew king grieved that he had built no temple for the God of his people:
In all the places wherein I have walked with all the children of Israel spake I a word with any of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people Israel, saying, Why build ye not me an house of cedar?
This puts me in a deeply contemplative mood. How might human history have been different, if the resources spent on building temples (for gods who themselves choose to build forests and create food rather than build temples) had been spent instead on feeding the people?
And yet...and yet...how impoverished the world would be if there were no Pyramids, no St. Peter's, no Parthenon.
Friday, June 20, 2008
That's a quotation from Angela Loveridge, an artist participating in this year's Glastonbury Festival to fold 1,000 paper cranes, as part of a growing movement of origami artists who fold 1,000 peace cranes before sending them to locations around the globe, from hospitals to war zones.
According to Angela Loveridge:
A little girl in Hiroshima was folding a thousand peace cranes to basically stay alive, but she sadly died at around 760. Ever since then people have been sending them to places like Hiroshima or for other causes. I folded 1000 peace cranes with a local primary school recently in response to problems they were having in Thailand. People fold for lots of different reasons.
You can read more here, in the North Wales Chronicle.
To me this seems a compelling movement, the folding of peace cranes in such numbers and the arrival of them in flights, as a sudden gift, on some place that has become dark and without hope. Certainly it is better than most uses to which we put the world's supply of paper, and it is a testament to the lasting and reviving strength of folk legend.
Angela Loveridge is calling for volunteers to send her folded cranes in Glastonbury, as she is doubtful of reaching her 1,000 alone. Origami is a delicate and painstaking art.
(The origami cranes pictured above are the work of the remarkable artist Giles Edsall.)
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Saturday and Sunday afternoon on the island, storytellers from various cultural backgrounds including Irish, Kenyan, Persian, Muslim and Jewish will read published stories, recite from memory or craft tales on the spot.
Waterloo Region native Sarah Granskou never intended to become a storyteller. But at Trent University, she "got in cahoots" with her oral history professor and grew skeptical of modern reliance on the written word.
She subsequently turned down a $40,000 scholarship in favour of moving to Norway and to live with the Sami reindeer herders of the North. Granskou wanted to learn Scandinavian languages and recover the culture of her ancestors.
"I had to learn poems, songs and fiddle tunes eye-to-eye without the vices of the written word," she says. "It was a very sacred, life-changing experience."
One of the first tasks she set for herself was to memorize a medieval song with 52 verses.
"I got thinking about how this survived and the mental resources it would take," she says.
She also worked on Norwegian farms and lived among the Inuit. Along the way, Granskou learned to play the jaw harp, willow flute and eight-string Hardanger fiddle and composed new lyrics for established Scandinavian melodies. "I was carrying that oral culture into a contemporary realm."
Back home in Waterloo Region, Granskou lost the use of her arms temporarily, during a lengthy illness. Unable to write or play fiddle, she spent hours talking to herself and composing the stories she now performs as a contemporary "Canwegian" skald, or Nordic bard.
"The beauty of stories is their ability to move and touch you in such a way that you don't need to define what you're learning. It doesn't have to be a lecture," she says.
She brings her repertoire of rhyming tales about fantastical trolls and family experiences to the children's tent Saturday and Sunday, along with a four-pointed red hat and boots made of reindeer fur.I am reminded of the many storytellers who would rush out into the backwoods in Finland in the mid nineteenth century in an effort to meet with the last surviving oral storytellers (some of whom had a repertoire of tens of thousands of lines of verse) and learn from them.
At the moment I am jealous of the children in Victoria Park, who will be listening to Scandinavian tales tomorrow.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
The one-year-old Roe Deer - nicknamed 'Unicorn'' - was born in captivity in the research center's park in the Tuscan town of Prato, near Florence, Gilberto Tozzi, director of the Center of Natural Sciences, said. He is believed to have been born with a genetic flaw; his twin has two horns.
The quotation and the photo are from an article by Associated Press.
I am trying to decide if this poor deer looks attractive (a kind of visitation) or slightly pitiful. At least he will have little need to battle other stags in the wild.
What would our forebears have thought, if they happened to glimpse this animal in the woods of Italy?
If you're into deer pictures, check this out, too.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Your king is not a just man--for were he so, he had not coveted a land which is not his own, nor brought slavery on a people who never did him any wrong. Bear him this bow, and say, -- 'The king of the Ethiops thus advises the king of the Persians -- when the Persians can pull a bow of this strength thus easily, then let him come with an army of superior strength against the long-lived Ethiopians -- till then, let him thank the gods that they have not put it into the heart of the sons of the Ethiops to covet countries which do not belong to them.'
How proud, that speech! That people were of course a foot taller than the Persians of that time, and the king must have seemed very imposing.
The test of the bow is a motif in many ancient legends. I am reminded especially of Rama in Hindu myth, who passes the test of stringing the bow of Shiva (see the portrait) - in fact passes the test so well that the bow breaks when he strings it!
What other myths or stories use this test?
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Also, you can order giant pumpkin seeds here. Just make certain your garden is big enough.
It is worth pausing for a moment to reflect on the quiet wonders that gardeners have given us. Our fast-paced, urban world is often tempted to overlook both crop-growers and gardeners. But many of us remember reading The Secret Garden as children, and longing for a little bit of earth, and some of us were blessed enough to grow up tending our mother's or our father's garden, enjoying the warmth of dark, tilled earth in our hands and reveling in things that grow.
Imagine going to a pumpkin regatta or walking, Charlie-Brown-like, through a patch, and seeing such a pumpkin as the one to the left...one that a carriage might have turned into, at midnight!
This beautiful portrait is part of a Tarot deck and a unique novel, The Lover's Path, by Kris Waldherr, and the image depicts Dante's transfigurative love, alluding obliquely to the dream in which Dante's heart is taken out of his chest in The New Life. (In Waldherr's Tarot, this is the card for "Grace.")
I was startled to find the image, of course, because of its confluence with our journal. I am set to become a Kris Waldherr fan. Definitely take a look at her book, The Lover's Path, a novel of love (romantic, erotic, and otherwise) set in Renaissance Venice, and illuminated with breathtaking art, handwritten letters, and various artifacts. It is both book and art object: a museum in unto itself.
In fact, Kris Waldherr's website, the Museo di Palazzo Filomela, is set up, like the book, as a museum, for the exploration of Venice, Waldherr's artwork, Tarot, and the lover's path: well worth exploring for art-lovers, Italianists, and pagans.
Not all of the images in The Lover's Path are Italian in origin, however (though many are): Kris Waldherr explores a range of love-tales, primarily from Europe, but with a few from other cultures of the world. Here to the right is Isis and Osiris. You can also find Siegfried and Brunnhilde, Zeus and Danae, Merlin and Vivianne, Tristan and Isolde.
Friday, June 6, 2008
I'm afraid the details I'll be able to give are so vague as to be of very little help, but I long to find again an illustrated storybook that my speech pathologist read to me when I was a child (this would have been the mid 80s, though the book may be older than that). The book included lavishly colored illustrations of giants, and I have vague memories of one giant either walking over a hill or walking over a house set in a hill. The illustrations were very colorful. I think I had better do some memory meditations. One of the giants at least looked like Paul Bunyan - a great lumberjack fellow with a black beard.
If any of this sounds familiar, please let me know. Forgive the paucity of detail offered. I remember loving the book as a child and would love to find it again. Ever since that book I have had a fascination with giants....
For those studying, reading, or hoping to write urban fantasy, the article also includes an impressive bibliography of recent work, from Charles de Lint's short stories to the Anita Blake vampire novels to the recent hit Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. The list is definitely worth a look.
This already-thriving genre is quite vigorous. My own first encounter with it was a Charles de Lint story in which a street youth was picked up by the police for freeing the captive urban bicycles with a pair of chain-cutters, so that the bicycles could return to the wilds of the inner city streets. The narrator hears, or imagines she hears, the sound of bicycle bells in the rain, as the freed bicycles wheel away into the dark....
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
In case any of you would like the chance to join our crazy parliament of owls here at Dante's Heart, we are looking for a few guest columnists to join us here on the blog.
(This charming portrait, which might be a glamour shot of our editors, is the work of Puddle, a dollmaker and poet in West Virginia.)
Here's a quick advert with some of the details:
DANTE’S HEART COLUMNIST
Dante’s Heart: A Journal of Myth, Fairytale, Folklore, and Fantasy is an online venue dedicated to connecting readers, writers, and artists doing creative work in those areas. Dante’s Heart includes an online literary arts journal (www.dantesheart.com), a blog, and a biweekly e-newsletter.
We are looking for excellent freelance writers who are interested in joining a small team of volunteer columnists for the Dante’s Heart blog. You are welcome to join a current column (such as “Wonder in Today’s News”) or to suggest a new one. We hope to find great writers who find the prospect of connecting our readers with what is current and intriguing and beautiful in myth, fairy tales, folklore, and fantasy...irresistable. This is not a for-pay position, as Dante’s Heart is not a company nor do we make any revenue. But this would look hot on your CV or resume, and we hope you will join us as we continue to develop a beautiful venue.
Columnists will be expected to blog 1-2 times per week, and blog posts will be brief but substantive: such as reviews, news, or quick, reflective essays. Topics can be controversial but the tone should never be contentious. The goal of the blog is to inform readers about what is happening in the field, introducing them to the work of new artists and writers or to new ideas...or simply featuring and sharing something beautiful.
Please review our website and our current offerings before applying, and acquaint yourself with what our venue is all about.
To apply, send a sample blog post with a CV or resume and a brief statement of why you would like to work with Dante’s Heart to:
If we are interested, our senior editor will contact you to learn more about you and go from there. We hope you’ll join us!
Wishing you the best,
Editor, Dante’s Heart
A while ago we posted an article about the excavations under way at Stonehenge. Now it's time to post some of the excavation results that have been in the news. This article has a lot of the conclusions our intrepid archaeologists have reached, focusing especially on the tombs uncovered at the site. Notably:
The pattern and relatively small number of the graves suggest all were members of a single family. The findings provide the first substantive evidence that a line of kings ruled at least the lower portion of the British island in this early period, exerting enough power to mobilise the manpower necessary to move the stones from as far as 240 kilometres away.
For a photo gallery showing the bones (above) and other parts of the excavation, go here.