Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas & Beware the Krampus!!!

A postcard of a man holding a Krampus doll
Many boys & girls will be going to bed Christmas Eve wondering what Santa Clause will bring them this year for Christmas. "Will I get the XBox I asked for?" "Will Santa give me Computer Engineer Barbie?" But, if you're a naughty child & you live in Germany or Austria, you'll be wondering if the Krampus will give you a whippin' or take you to purgatory!

That's right, the Krampus. The Krampus is a mythical creature that resembles a demon & would join Santa Christmas Night on his trip from house to house, but while Santa gave out gifts for all the good children, the Krampus would give out warnings or whippings for the bad children, or if you are truly bad, he'd throw the child in his backpack to be taken to purgatory. It was probably a lot more helpful than a warning of getting coal on Christmas. "Helga, if you keep pulling your cat's whiskers, the Krampus won't hesitate to take you to HELL!" I'm sure that stopped her right in her tracks.
Merry Christmas!!!

The Krampus tradition was mainly celebrated in Austria, Germany, Hungary, Italy & the Czech Republic, but after the Austrian Fascist and the German Nazis targeted the tradition, the Krampus became less embedded in the winter customs. Still, in some Austrian communities, men will dress up as the demon on December 5th to scare the women & children with rusted chains, whips & bells. So, if you're looking to spice up your holidays, or you're more of a fan of Halloween, put on a Krampus outfit & really give the kids something to be grateful for.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Two View Movie Review: Sita Sings the Blues

Sita Sings the Blues is an unique, entertaining, & eye-opening film about the greatest break-up story every told, the Ramayana. Created by Nina Paley with the use of 2-D computer graphics & flash animation, the film contains four parallel narratives. Episodes from the Ramayana are shown with painted figures that represent the Indian tradition of Rajput paintings. Also, three traditional Indian shadow puppets provide context & commentary for the story. During the musical episodes, songs performed by jazz singer Annette Hanshaw are conceived through the eyes of Sita. And Paley adds an autobiographical note by illustrating her failing marriage as her husband moves to India.

The four parallel narratives come together, each adding to the story of the Ramayana. The humor coming from the puppets will make you split your sides, & the contemporary aspects of Annette Hanshaw & Paley's own personal story fits perfectly, so much that you'd wish that you thought of it first. Paley used an unorthodox way of distribution. The film is all on-line, either on the films website or on youtube, but that shows that films aren't about movie tickets & money, its about telling a good story. Roger Eberts says of the film, "To get any film made is a miracle. To conceive of a film like this is a greater miracle."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Looky Lookie: Ghost Diary

Ghost Diary by Book Artist Maureen Cummins is based upon the handwritten letters of the Revolutionary colonel, Jonathan Rhea. Written to his children in 1807 on the anniversary of his wife's death, he documents his times as an officer. He goes into deep & violent details involving his service, which includes the burning of Indian villages, battles with the British & the killing of rebel insurgencies. In between these gruesome recollections, he recalls courting his wife, their time apart during the war, the birth of their children & his wife's struggle with a brain tumor.
The text is printed on glass plates and bound together with glass, vintage photo negatives, causing each copy of the book to be completely unique. The use of glass & the text impresses the fragility of life. It is a troubling look at how life can easily slip away. The Jaffe Center has number 11 of 25.

Monday, December 13, 2010

GRAPHIX exhibition

Everyone should go & check out the new Jaffe Center exhibit, "GRAPHIX: Sequence, Image, Story." The  graphic novel exhibit features a wide variety of genres, stories & art style & forms. Featured are novels created with illustrations, woodcuts, photography, digital photography & even a comic to be read with 3-D glasses. The exhibit is all over the library & in the Center itself is a couple of shelves of graphic novels for you to browse & read. Pretty cool stuff, right?

A Page from Watchmen
The mission of the exhibit is to show the narrative power of the graphic novel while defining & redefining what a graphic novel is. The medium is often misunderstood & criticized by the general public & few see it as true art or literature. I'm often confused as to why the general consensus is the separation of image & word. I'm a true believer that there is a graphic novel out there for everyone, but it may be really hard for someone to find & I'm hoping that a couple of people may find their graphic novel because of the exhibit.