Monday, May 11, 2009

Bruno's Art and Sculpture Garden

Some time ago, a friend sent me a slideshow of
Bruno's Art and Sculpture Garden in Marysville, Victoria, Australia. Full of wonders, I knew I had to share it with you. What I did not then know was that the Marysville area was devastated by fire February 9, 2009, and Bruno's home and gallery were destroyed, along with much of the forest that was the site of the sculpture garden. There is a universal and needful message for us all in the lingering impact of the event and the response of Bruno and his friends: "We experienced a range of emotions upon making the discovery and some of these feelings can only be described as contradictory and unexpected. Despite the obvious personal impact of the carnage, we all agreed that there was still an undeniable beauty amongst it all. Seeing the sculptures standing bare and scorched against the stark landscape, somehow amplified the characters that Bruno captured in them. The sad ones seemed sadder. The contemplative ones appeared to be deeper in thought and carried heavier burdens. The characters that smiled at us from amongst the ashes, asked the hardest and most compelling question of all, ‘If we can smile whilst standing here burnt and battered, why can’t you?’" Please visit the website and its poignant "Rebuilding" page for your own experience.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Ledger of the Year's Dead

In a rare gore read I stumbled upon the graphic novel "Dead High Yearbook." It is a collect of eight stories by variety of authors with two editors, Mark McVeigh and Ivan Velez. The authors portray the darker side of human nature at its worse, with each short focusing on both the problems and deaths of high school students. The narrators Zombie Boy and Zombie Girl delve into the lives of teenagers. The story takes common themes and presents them in an entirely new and unique way.

The earliest story focuses on outcasts and the pressure to fit in. The desire to be normal can ruin the goodness of a person. However the outcasts were not blameless either, they suffered from the same shallow desire to outcast others. Homophobia, pride and vanity, gang violence, romantic jealousy, familial obligations and academic stress are all issues addressed. In this story, death does not onlygo after those who need to be punished, but is indiscriminate and sends the dead to both heaven and hell. In the entire graphic novel, the most interesting twist is the back stories of Zombie Boy and Zombie Girl.

Overall, I give it a 4 out of 5 to this collection of interesting stories.

Not ready to be in that year book,
J.R. West the Raccoo

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Magical Marionettes

I have always loved dolls and puppets, small visions of fancy inviting our imaginations to invigorate them. Several years ago, I became acquainted with the Czech tradition of marionette-making and never fail to be enchanted by new creations based on folklore and old fairy stories. The Large Wizard from the Riki collection at Czech Marionettes in the Czech Republic just mesmerizes with his fantastic eyes!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Kundry's Inner World

From all the 'worlds' I have visited, Kundry's Inner World must be one of the warmest and enchanted places I have ever been.
Fairies, mythical beasts, witches and sea gods are just a few of the things you can find when you are taking a trip through the marvellous landscapes of Kundry's Inner World.

Besides scenes which have been derived from the artists own imagination you can also find a large selection of illustrated fairy tales and myths, such as the stories of Odin, Baba Yaga and the Sandman which is shown below.

I don't know if it is because of the characters which are depicted, the bright colors used, the romantic scenes or if it is just her style which I so much adore, but these works are truly magical. I couldn't help dreaming away while looking at her work, stories simply arose in my mind and constantly I felt myself surrounded by a calm and warm feeling which didn't leave until I left Kundry's Inner World.

It is a world you must visit, though keep in mind it is hard to leave......

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Faye Stories Part 4: What makes a Monster a Man?

Alex Flinn's novel "Beastly" is a fresh new telling of the Beauty and the Beast story, that focuses on the Beast and his path to redemption. Even though it keeps some of the basic motifs; a mystical woman, the beast’s flowers, and the proverbial beauty, these traditional aspects are employed in unique way. This original story is well worth the read.

Kyle is your typical neglected rich kid, vain and showy. Except, he showed one bit of human kindness the night of his transformation. Due to that, the mystical woman who transformed him gave him the opportunity for redemption. While he was physical transformed, Kyle, now calling himself Adrian, goes through an internal transformation as well. Adrian the Beast goes through the typical change in view, and it is Adrian whom the reader comes to love. The story makes the Adrian into a worth while man, and deserving of a story that bears his name. Don't read this expecting Beauty's story.

Additionally, Flinn adds interludes that make references to other fairy tale stories. Adrian joins a chat room for transformed humans and interacts with The Little Mermaid, The Frog Prince, and The Bear Prince from 'Snow White and Rose Red'. This small side plot adds a bit more flavor to a good story. Overall, I give the story a 4 out of 5.

Enjoying Beauty and the Beast in a technological age,
J.R. West the Raccoon

Friday, May 1, 2009

Little wonders

As a camera-person, I watch the world with a photographer's eye, but I don't always have a camera with me. This means that so many pictures never materialize, except in my memory. My magical day yesterday was a day of animal wonders. I never expected that, having driven my mother to the airport, I would see on the return to the city a whole herd of dear grazing among the trees near the highway. The meadow with the mist-covered mountains behind seemed transformed by the presence of these beautiful, peaceful creatures, making a picture I can never show but only tell of. Later that day, I had to go take care of an errand in one of those suburban office parks with man-made lakes and benches for the workers to commune with grass and trees during a break. As I always do in a place like that, I parked my car facing the little lake. When I came out from the building an hour later, a large grey Canadian goose was contentedly sitting in front of my car, close to a pile of pine cones I had not noticed before that looked like a pile of treasure, tempting me to imagine the goose collecting them, as surely he might have done in a story I haven't read yet.