Ray Harryhausen, animator and special-effects artist, died the other day at the ripe old age of 92. I’m sad to see him go, but 92 is a pretty good run, so maybe he was ready to go. “Jason & The Argonauts” was the best damn thing I ever saw in the movies (skeleton fight!) and I’d rather watch it or King Kong than Star Wars or Avatar.
I don’t have anything profound to say about Harryhausen. This New Yorker article by Adam Gopnik is much better than anything I could write, anyway.
A few years ago I got this book on The Art of Ray Harryhausen by Tony Dalton – lots of great illustrations… and you get to see Harryhausen’s drawings where he figured out how the different critters should look. Reccomended.
I love the human feet sticking out of the mouth — and the curls on the creature’s back. Plus it’s got a face like a bear and very human eyes. The bestiary informs me that the ‘cocodrilus’ weeps after eating a man.
Inspired by this most excellent bestiary, I decided I wanted to try to draw an ‘ant-lion’ aka myrmecoleon. The bestiary tells me: There are two interpretations of what an ant-lion is. In one version, the ant-lion is so called because it is the “lion of ants,” a large ant or small animal that hides in the dust and kills ants. In the other version, it is a beast that is the result of a mating between a lion and an ant. It has the face of a lion and and the body of an ant, with each part having its appropriate nature. Because the lion part will only eat meat and the ant part can only digest grain, the ant-lion starves.
OK, well, I have already decided I want to go for version 2 because version 1 is probably only scary to ants. So I start thinking about ants and lions and how I can combine them… I look to my online bestiary for help and all I get is this:
OK, not quite what I was looking for… I’m guessing the above is a drawing of ‘version 1.’ So I looked at pictures of ants and pictures of lions and doodled some in my sketch book… not my best effort, but so far I have this:
When I was a young pup, there was a TV series about benevolent seeming aliens who had come to earth to control mankind called ‘V.’ The ‘big secret’ about these visitors was that they were actually reptiles who wore masks and wigs to appear human. They remade the series a few years ago, but I haven’t seen the new version. I tried to watch the old series a while back when I heard they were remaking it, but only made it halfway through the first episode. I was pretty amused by seeing the aliens swallowing hamsters and guinea pigs, but the acting and dialogue was so freaking wooden I couldn’t make it past the first 1/2 hour. Sometimes you just can’t go back.
|looks rather reptilian to me|
A few years ago, I heard about ‘David Icke‘ for the first time. If you don’t know who he is, follow the links. Icke claims to believe that ‘alien shapeshifters’ control the world and people in positions of power (like the Rothschilds, most or all of the presidents of the US and other nations, etc.), are members of a race of reptiles that have interbred with humans and control us. It sounds like a pretty entertaining set of ideas; I kind of wish it WAS true because that could be so cool and I could then join the freedom fighters trying to take down the evil reptiles and wear bandoliers of bullets and grenades on my armor vest like I am in some Schwartzenegger movie. And who wouldn’t want to do that? It certainly would be more fun than marching in protest against the greed of bankers and financiers and the collusion of politicians to bend democracy to the will of corporate interests. And I’d rather carry an AK 47 and kill lizards than carry a bindle and curse the man — but right now the latter scenario seems more likely.
Apparently some people think Icke is an anti-Semite. I don’t know anything about that, but, unfortunately, it would not surprise me. Ray Arnold Palmer, one of the fathers of modern UFOlogy, apparently would go on tears about ‘The Jews’ in the years before his death; I don’t know if that was approaching senility or if age had just removed the filtering software from Palmer’s brain. Anti-semitism has a long history in the conspiracy theory movement… perhaps hating ‘the other’ is a part of the dark underbelly of human imagination.
If it is not clear already, I love thinking about ‘outsiders’ and freaks and eccentrics of all kinds.
Here are three unusual creatures which may be of interest to the traveler or fantasy naturalist.
This unusual snake can be found lurking alongside trails and paths and attacks it’s prey in the most unusual of manners. If a flexible sapling and thicker tree are availible perpendicular to a well traveled portion of the pathway, the arrow snake will hook it’s neck around the sapling and then use it’s tail to hook around the tree and, using the natural springiness of the sapling, draw the sapling back. It can hold this pose for hours or even days. When suitable prey passes along the path, the snake releases hold on the tree and straightens its body, using the sapling as a catapult to hurl itself forward like an arrow, and, if it’s aim is true, piercing the target. The arrowsnake has also been known to select a pliable branch, grip that in it’s teeth, prop the branch between two trees and use a third tree and it’s tail to draw back the branch like a bow; when prey passes it’s hiding place, the arrowsnake releases it’s hold on the rearmost tree and pierces it’s pray with the considerable forward momentum obtained in this manner.
Unlucky or nearsighted arrowsnakes who miss their targets have been known to embed their own heads in trees where they can easily be dispatched or left to starve. In any case, the canny or ethically challenged traveler will often insist that a companion proceed them on the woodland trail if arrowsnakes are suspected.
Cautious travelers will wear a rather bizarre looking (but effective) protection in the form of a large ‘sandwich board’ costume.
Closet Sloth: The closet sloth is a temperamental and anti-social creature about which very little is known. How it ends up in closets among the seldom worn garments is not understood, but if disturbed it reacts with violence. These creatures may hang for weeks or even months in the backs of seldom visited closets and will normally be content to remain hanging, attempting to be mistaken for a moth eaten fur coat of obsolete style and low quality.
They enjoy the smell of mothballs and prefer darkness.
If a shabby fur coat should suddenly appear in your closet, best to just leave it alone. This writer would suggest you simply avoid the closet altogether and purchase a new coat or jacket which you can store by hanging over the back of a chair or banister until you are certain that the closet sloth has moved on.
Peccadillo: The peccadillo is an armadillo/chicken hybrid which will roll itself into an armored ball if offended. Although repulsive in appearance, the peccadillo is not particularly aggressive or dangerous.