Kids — who knows what goes through their minds. Earlier this week, when I was reading a children's tale to my four-year-old daughter, she stopped me halfway through the first chapter because it was "too scary." The book: A Bear Called Paddington. And yet, this is the same little girl who loves Johnny Depp as pirate captain Jack Sparrow, and who never batted an eye during the fighting-skeletons scene in the original Pirates of the Caribbean movie, when her mom and I were watching her closely for the first sign of distress, my finger hovering over the remote's fast-forward button. Go figure.
Today she surprised me again by immediately taking a shine to an acrylic-on-canvas sideshow banner I'd just bought at auction. The banner, by local artist Paul Szauter, depicts a fantasy version of the Beast of Turner (a.k.a. the Beast of Lewiston), an evil-looking animal said to long have terrorized rural swaths of my state, Maine. The creature, or something approximating it, was found dead along Route 4 back in August, probably killed by a car.
Szauter's brand new painting had already achieved a measure of fame when I bought it, after David Pescovitz blogged about it on Boing Boing two days ago. That's when I first saw it and realized the auction was to take place today, just ten minutes from my home.
It would be incredibly cool if some cryptid-friendly kind soul in the Bar Harbor area placed the final winning bid on the banner [...] and donated it to Loren's International Cryptozoology Museum for the public to someday enjoy.
'Loren' is Loren Coleman, a cryptozoologist who is one of the world's foremost experts on mystery beasts — the Loch Ness monster, Bigfoot, Chupacabra, and so on. He runs a small private museum dedicated to the topic in Portland, Maine.
As a longtime Fortean and a fan of Fortean Times magazine, to which Coleman contributes (as have I), I found Pescovitz' suggestion pretty compelling. So I do indeed plan to donate the banner to Coleman, for public display. Next time I make it to Portland, I'll pay his place a visit and drop off his prize.
For now, my daughter loves the painting and has it on loan in her room. Good thing it doesn't feature Paddington Bear, or she might not be able to sleep at night.