Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Myths Attending the Total Solar Eclipse of July 22, 2009

CNN's coverage of the total solar eclipse visible from many parts of Asia included this item: "In Chinese tradition, there is a story about a heavenly dog eating the sun. As the story goes, people would make noise to scare off the dog and rescue the sun, said Bill Yeung, president of the Hong Kong Astronomical Society." This prompted me to try to find out a little more about this ancient story, and I ended up at iLearn, which provided the historical response of communities to this astronomical event viewed as a manifestation of a mythical tale:
"In ancient China it was a heavenly dog that ate the Sun. Whilst the heavenly dog is devouring the Sun (or moon during Lunar eclipse), people would set firecrackers, beat the drums and shout to chase the dog away.

"Of course, that was the past and people no longer believed in the heavenly dog. However, the term 天狗食日 ‘Heavenly Dog Devours Sun’ is still commonly used, retaining a romanticized sense of mystery in this rare astronomic spectacle."

Like many people, I'm all for the "romanticized sense of mystery" and only wish I could be there to witness it!

The enchanted art of Susan Schroder

Have you always dreamed about being a fairy for a day? Well, it is not as impossible at it seems. Susan Schroder, a wonderful photographer and artist, can actually make your dream come true!

I greatly admire her work for quite some time now. Her eye for detail, her talent to create the most enchanting scenes and her endless imagination catches you in a moment visiting her gallery.
The images she creates are made with the utmost care and she has a great knowledge of the materials she works with. I think especially the later deserves much attention as Susan Schroder does all the photography herself. Backgrounds, models and even animals showing on the pictures are her own work. All fantasy elements are digitally painted and the most stunning of all; even most of the costumes are designed and made by her!

I don't think it is possible to put more love in your work then Susan Schroder does.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Magic of Comics

f it is cliché to say, I believe a good story takes one into another world. Comic books have their own unique magic, and if a picture is worth a thousand words, then comics are the longest books out there. However the magic is not always in the comic book its self. Many collectors and fans of comics can remember how and where they received their first comic. It is a treasured memory for those who keep their comics wrapped in plastic. Comics can even remind us of our childhood and that is a magical awareness.

I had a rare opportunity recently. In order to thank a dear friend who has helped me over the years I decided to get her an Anita Blake comic. I knew she had read the books and thought she might enjoy the comic. Little did I realize, but the two comics I gave her were the first she had ever owned. This grown woman had such a smile on her face when I handed her the two comics, and explained their proper storage and the point of having the plastic wrapper. It was like watching a child on Christmas in a way. It was magic. More than the stories I review, I saw something special.

If you ever get the chance share your favorite comics, books, or stories with someone who has never seen them before, remember to spread the magic.

Enjoying simple pleasures,
J.R. West the Raccoon

Enjoying simple pleasures,
J.R. West the Raccoon

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Celebrating Little Golden Books

In her celebratory article "Picture Perfect," Claudia Anderson recaptures the joy of the Little Golden Books I remember so well from childhood. Then, I loved the pictures and the marvelous stories the illustrators transformed into paint and ink. So many of the ancient folk and fairy tales found their way into these lovely books. We always had The Saggy Baggy Elephant and Little Red Riding Hood for quiet moments. The exhibition, Original Art from 65 Years of Golden Books, will travel the U.S. through 2011.