Milo Manara

26 12 2009

I love Milo Manara‘s short representation of a small portion of the ancient human life. I think it somehow looks like the Aurelian column.

View more of this artwork on my other blog, or alternatively, in this video (if you can stand the music. I suggest that you mute it and put something that you like on.)

the Aurelian column





Yokai

12 12 2009

Firstly, an unrelated note here. I know I have neglected this blog for a long time, and I really do regret it. I will try harder from now on. Oh, and my main blog is here, so you might want to take a look.

My last post in my main blog was about iGoogle (Google’s customizable page). I use the tea house theme for my own iGoogle, which I think is wonderful because it changes all the time. I love foxes and the illustration of this particular fox is amazingly cute. Plus it changes during the day. You can see the different illustrations of the upper bar during the different times of the day in the post on my main blog.  You might have noticed the spirits there at 03:14 who eat the oranges which are offerings, they are some kind of a Yōkai which are a class of preternatural creatures in Japanese folklore ranging from the evil oni (ogre) to the mischievous kitsune (fox) or snow woman Yuki-onna.

Here are some Yōkai images that were illustrated during the Edo period. They are ukiyo-e prints, which are Japanese woodblock prints or paintings.

Below is a Kappa, which is a type of water sprite found in Japanese folklore.

Below, there are images of Tengu (天狗?, “heavenly dogs”) which are a class of supernatural creatures found in Japanese folklore, art, theater, and literature. They are one of the best known yōkai (monster-spirits) and are sometimes worshipped as Shinto kami (revered spirits or gods). Although they take their name from a dog-like Chinese demon (Tiangou), the tengu were originally thought to take the forms of birds of prey, and they are traditionally depicted with both human and avian characteristics. They appear in the children’s story Banner in the sky when the main character trips over one and falls off the face of the mountain. The earliest tengu were pictured with beaks, but this feature has often been humanized as an unnaturally long nose, which today is practically the tengu’s defining characteristic in the popular imagination.

Buddhism long held that the tengu were disruptive demons and harbingers of war. Their image gradually softened, however, into one of protective, if still dangerous, spirits of the mountains and forests. Tengu are associated with the ascetic practice known as Shugendō, and they are usually depicted in the distinctive garb of its followers, the yamabushi.

To add some more differentiation to Yokai, there are also my favorite types, the Kitsune and the Yuki-onna:

Kitsune, 狐, きつね is the Japanese word for fox. Foxes are a common subject of Japanese folklore; kitsune usually refers to them in this context. Stories depict them as intelligent beings and as possessing magical abilities that increase with their age and wisdom. Foremost among these is the ability to assume human form. While some folktales speak of kitsune employing this ability to trick others—as foxes in folklore often do—other stories portray them as faithful guardians, friends, lovers, and wives.

Foxes and human beings lived in close proximity in ancient Japan; this companionship gave rise to legends about the creatures. Kitsune have become closely associated with Inari, a Shinto kami or spirit, and serve as his messengers. This role has reinforced the fox’s supernatural significance. The more tails a kitsune has—they may have as many as nine—the older, wiser, and more powerful it is. Because of their potential power and influence, some people make offerings to them as to a deity.

Yuki Onna (雪女, snow woman) is a spirit or yōkai in Japanese folklore. She is a popular figure in Japanese animation, manga, and literature.

Yuki-onna appears on snowy nights as a tall, beautiful woman with long hair. Her inhumanly pale or even transparent skin makes her blend into the snowy landscape (as famously described in Lafcadio Hearn‘s Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things). She sometimes wears a white kimono, but other legends describe her as nude, with only her face and hair standing out against the snow. Despite her inhuman beauty, her eyes can strike terror into mortals. She floats across the snow, leaving no footprints (in fact, some tales say she has no feet, a feature of many Japanese ghosts), and she can transform into a cloud of mist or snow if threatened.

Some legends say the Yuki-onna, being associated with winter and snowstorms, is the spirit of someone who perished in the snow. She is at the same time beautiful and serene, yet ruthless in killing unsuspecting mortals. Until the 18th century, she was almost uniformly portrayed as evil. Today, however, stories often color her as more human, emphasizing her ghost-like nature and ephemeral beauty.

In many stories, Yuki-onna appears to travelers trapped in snowstorms, and uses her icy breath to leave them as frost-coated corpses. Other legends say she leads them astray so they simply die of exposure. Other times, she manifests holding a child. When a well-intentioned soul takes the “child” from her, they are frozen in place. Parents searching for lost children are particularly susceptible to this tactic. Other legends make Yuki-onna much more aggressive. In these stories, she often invades homes, blowing in the door with a gust of wind to kill residents in their sleep (Some legends require her to be invited inside first.)

What Yuki-onna is after varies from tale to tale. Sometimes she is simply satisfied to see a victim die. Other times, she is more vampiric, draining her victims’ blood or “life force.” She occasionally takes on a succubus-like manner, preying on weak-willed men to drain or freeze them through sex or a kiss.

Like the snow and winter weather she represents, Yuki-onna has a softer side. She sometimes lets would-be victims go for various reasons. In one popular Yuki-onna legend, for example, she sets a young boy free because of his beauty and age. She makes him promise never to speak of her, but later in life, he tells the story to his wife who reveals herself to be the snow woman. She reviles him for breaking his promise, but spares him again, this time out of concern for their children (but if he dares mistreat their children, she will return with no mercy. Luckily for him, he is a loving father). In a similar legend, Yuki-onna melts away once her husband discovers her true nature.





The Alphabet and Language of Futurama

15 11 2009

Futurama, one of my all-time-favorite shows, makes a lot of puns about the past and future. This includes the visual material around us too. In one episode, there were people who were very rich and one of their favorite pastimes were destroying antique masterpieces, like the Mona Lisa.

There are three alternative alphabets that appear often in the background of episodes, usually in the forms of graffiti, advertisements, or warning labels. Nearly all messages using alternative scripts transliterate directly into English. The first alphabet consists of abstract characters and is referred to as Alienese, a simple substitution cipher from the Latin alphabet. The second alphabet uses a more complex modular addition code, where the “next letter is given by the summation of all previous letters plus the current letter.” The codes often provide additional jokes for fans dedicated enough to decode the messages. The third language sometimes used is Hebrew. Aside from these alphabets, most of the displayed wording on the show uses the Latin alphabet.

Several English expressions have evolved since the present day. For example, the word Christmas has been replaced with Xmas (pronounced “EX-mas) and the word ask with aks (pronounced axe). According to David X. Cohen it is a running joke that the French language is extinct in the Futurama universe (though the culture remains alive), much like Latin is in the present. In the French dubbing of the show, German is used as the extinct language instead.

740px-Alien_decoder_Futurama.svg





Anıtkabir

10 11 2009

Today was the death day of the founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk of Turkey, where I live in. People here mourn the loss of their founder, and that reminded me of his mausoleum Anıtkabir which has a very interesting construction because it has columns, reliefs, roofs shaped like pyramids… in the architecture. You can find more information here.

I’ve never visited Anıtkabir myself, but I’m told it is really grand. Here are some photographs from Anıtkabir:

 





Alphabet Soup

5 11 2009

To think of it, literacy is booming. We see the alphabet everywhere nowadays, even in soup!

Alphabet pasta, also referred to as Alfabeto or Alphabetti Spaghetti, is pasta that has been mechanically cut or pressed into the letters of the Latin alphabet, although other alphabets are used in regional variants. It is often served in an alphabet soup, sold in a canned, condensed broth. Another variation, Alphaghetti, consists of letter-shaped pasta in a marinara or spaghetti sauce.

One common American brand of condensed-style alphabet soup is Campbell’s. This soup like its competitors is marketed towards parents for its educational value.

A similar product, Alphabetti Spaghetti, was sold by the H. J. Heinz Company for 60 years before being discontinued in 1990. Like Campbell’s alphabet soup, it contains alphabet pasta canned in tomato sauce, but no cheese. It was later reintroduced by Heinz in 2005.





Age of Mythology

23 10 2009

Age of Mythology is a mythology-based, real-time strategy computer game developed by Ensemble Studios and published by Microsoft Game Studios.

Age of Mythology focuses less on historical accuracy than previous games in the Age of Empires series, but instead centers upon the myths and legends of the Greeks, Egyptians, and Norse.

I think Age of Mythology makes people learn about ancient myths, gods and other notions better than books. Here are some pictures from Age of Mythology:





Asterix

17 10 2009

I guess everybody is familiar with Asterix, by Goscinny and Uderzo. I think Asterix was a very nice way to learn pieces about all the old/ancient different nations like the Gauls, Romans, Egyptians, Greeks, British and so on..  I think the plots in the comics are ingenious and the jokes witty, and there are clever connotations added here and there, plus I think they really know their stuff since the architecture, the outfit, the galleys and etc. are really close to what they were in the ancient times.