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Puppet Kaos - where Kelvin Kao plays with puppets and tell random stories

Happy (er? or not?) Grouch Day


Today is National Grouch Day! Let’s celebrate… er, wait, no, I mean, not celebrate. I’m confused.

According to the Muppet Wiki:

According to Sesame Street Magazine, October 15th is National Grouch Day — a day for all Grouches to celebrate their way of life.

A Grouch’s mission in life is to be as miserable and grouchy as possible, and pass that feeling on to everyone else. Only then will a Grouch feel in touch with his or her world and be happy. Yet, even though a Grouch may show happiness at anyone’s misfortune (including his or her own), a Grouch would never admit to being happy. Such is the stability of a Grouch’s life: so balanced, and yet so unbalanced.

So here I’m going to lead by example:

Why? I read several puppetry blogs every day. How come none of them mentioned it? How come I had to have my sister tell me about it and I didn’t even know what it was and had to look it up? You people suck. Start writing about important days like these. And why didn’t I get the day off? It should’ve been a national holiday.

Nobody reads this site. Nobody comments. I had to hurry up and finish this post before the day is over in half an hour. And October 15th was already over in most time zones. I hate this site. Why doesn’t it have huge fonts like Sarah’s? It’s too small and hurt my eyes. And why am I typing in English anyway? This language doesn’t make sense. Why would you spell the word “queue” when you could have just ended the word with just the first letter? I hate this post. Off to feed worms.

Fist of Oblivion


UNAUTHORIZED Fist of Oblivion Trailer (via Tubefilter) from Tubefilter on Vimeo.

What do I like? If you’ve been coming here for a while, you know the answer: kung-fu fighting puppets!

Just for the trailer for Fist of Oblivion, which is a web series produced for Scion coming this November. According to Puppeteers Unite, it’s about “the story of Ricky, an ex-cop and kung fu master who’s on the hunt for Bjorn, Ricky’s former friend and partner who framed him for a crime he didn’t commit”. The trailer looks promising. This should be an interesting series to watch. I’m looking forward to it.

And here’s another trailer for it.

(Via Puppeteers Unite)

Jack Rabbit and the Beanstalk Review

Over the weekend I watched Jack Rabbit and the Beanstalk that’s a part of the Santa Monica Puppetry Festival that has just wrapped up. The puppet show took place at Miles Memorial Theater and is “a twist on the classic tale by puppet artist Doug Seymour for family audiences” according to the event website.

Parking: The parking was across the street from the actual theater beneath the AT&T building. When I got there and told the parking booth attendant that I was there for Miles Theater, she directed me to to level P3. I didn’t see many cars there, so I’m guessing that many people didn’t know about the free event parking there. I guess they didn’t check the playhouse website like I did. When I crossed the street to get to the theater, I realized that most of the street parking in the surrounding streets were taken, so I guess it was the right thing to park in the structure.

The Audience: I got there close to show time so most people were already seated. The show was for ages 3 and up, so the audience members were mostly parents with little kids. (I don’t know if they are actually 3 and up, because I didn’t see bouncers carding those who look like 2-year-olds.) I was probably one of the few adults in the audience that didn’t come with a kid or two. It was attended by about 80 to 100 people, but I’m not sure how accurate this count is, because one, I suck at estimating, and two, some kids were sitting on their parents’ laps or blocked by backrests, making it harder for me to see and count. The stage was pretty much empty. A guy went up, started welcoming the audience and talked about what other events are going on for the rest of the puppet festival, and after that, show started.

The Puppets: The curtains opened and revealed an owl in the tree. That’s our narrator. And then the princess came in and started talking to the king. And… why do I bother telling you the story? It’s based on the English (probably) fairy tale Jack and the Beanstalk, so you know what it involves, like the cow (yep, named Betsy, of course), the giant (Fee! Fie! Foe! Fum!), and the magical beanstalk (though in this case, it talks and flies). The puppets are cute and there are a variety of them in terms of controls. Most of these puppets are marionettes, except for the narrator and the giant. The giant is a human-sized puppet that shares his legs with the puppeteer. And then the puppeteer used one hand to manipulate the head and the other for the right hand. Most of the time the giant was either eating or sleeping so one moving hand was pretty sufficient. I was wondering how they were going to do the giant falling down from the sky part. It was a pleasant surprise when they brought out a screen and started doing that part with shadow puppets. I liked the way it was handled.

My Favorite: My favorite puppet of the whole show, though, was the magical harp that played itself. It was a marionette. The puppeteer used wires to control it a few feet above it and it actually looked like it was playing. It looked very natural too. Instead of just having a bunch of strings moving around, it looked like invisible fingers were plucking the strings, and then the strings would snap back into place and oscillate back and forth. I couldn’t figure out how they did that but it looked awesome.

The Sound: This show used a pre-recorded soundtrack, which cut out the possibility for improvisation but also made the tech part easier and smoother. The voice acting and the sound effects were good too. The puppeteers could focus more on the puppeteering without worrying about who was saying the next line and where. So that’s good too.

The Kids: The reactions from the kids were typical. There were kids really captivated by what’s going on on stage and stayed focused on the story the whole time. There were kids that were too young to really pay attention or understand the story but they were just happily watching all the colors and movements on stage, while the parents whispered into their ears. And of course every now and then a kid would start crying and the parent would need to take him/her outside.

For Parents: Just like taking young kids out on a trip, sometimes it’s more for the parents than for the kids. Young kids might not even remember going to these shows or places, but it’s quality time the parents spending with the kids. Besides jokes that would be understood by kids, there were stuff that probably took someone older to understand. Nah, there were no sexual language or jokes, but there were references to elevators, the game show Family Feud, and an explanation of photosynthesis when the magical beanstalk was asked why he grew so tall so fast.

The Puppeteers: When the show was over, the six or seven puppeteers came out and took a bow. The event website only mentioned Doug Seymour. I recognized Bob Baker from an interview that I previously watched previously but I don’t know who the rest of them are.

It was a good show and I enjoyed it. I am not going to urge you to go see it though, simply because I don’t know when they will be doing it again. But yeah, I am gald that I went to check out the show. And of course, I also encourage everyone to check out some local puppet shows!

PS. Also, the theater was located inside Christine Emerson Reed Park. It looked pretty nice and I totally would’ve walked around some more if lunch wasn’t waiting for me. Hm, overall I just like Santa Monica a lot and that’s why I’ve also lived there before even though rent was generally higher there.

PSS. I had some problems charging my camera so I wasn’t able to take pictures. These pictures are of the original production from the event website. The puppets looked like the same ones used in the show I watched, except the giant. The giant looked bigger (giant-er?) in the one I watched.

1036

That’s how many spam comments this blog has received so far that’s been filtered out by Akismet. Yep, 1000. We’ve finally gotten there.

Imagine what I would be doing if I didn’t have the spam filter installed on this blog. It wasn’t as bad back then, but recently I’ve started to receive about 50 spam comments every day. That’s probably not a huge number compare to larger websites, but that’s already a lot if I had to delete them by hand every day.

In the earliest stage of this blog, I didn’t even have a spam filter installed. Now I can’t imagine running a blog without one!

JellyTelly

JellyTelly is a new kids site that’s about to launch this fall. It’s created by Phil Vischer, who is a writer, actor, animator, puppeteer, and best known for co-creating VeggieTales. There’s a video trailer on the website right now with Phil explaining why he’s creating JellyTelly and gives a sneak peak of the kind of videos that’s going to be on it.

Basically, the idea is, while kids are spending many hours every day in front of the TV exposed to Disney channel and Nickelodeon, many are only exposed to Christian values and stories one day per week in church. And one problem is that there are not enough easily accessible Christian kids programs out there, so JellyTelly is created. Some of the content will be user-generated, and some of them will be generated by Phil’s team and other video makers that will also work to generate content.

After watching the trailer on the website, I have even more respect for the man. This is a man that has a vision, and is dedicating himself to making the world a better place. He had some success with VeggieTales, and now he’s thinking about how to give back even more. What a great man!

As for the content, from what I’ve saw in the trailer, I’d say that they are definitely not as big production as those Disney and Nickelodeon shows. Like he said and demonstrated, you just need a camera and some ideas. Many of the segments that I’ve seen in the video are just really fun and I would seriously rather watch this stuff over Disney channel and Nickelodeon. And I’m not even Christian! From watching these short segments, I learned something about the Bible and how Christians look at the world… even though I don’t necessarily agree with everything they teach.

And we’ll see how sustainable this is. At this point, he is asking parents to sign up for an one month trial. And then after that one month, you start paying what you think it’s worth, whether you can only afford one dollar a month or ten. That’s basically a model relying on donations and sponsorship. Will it work? I think so.

There are two kinds of people that I have a lot of respect for: One is the people that do what they can to give back to the society, and another is people that can create great work out of simple things and small budgets. Phil is both and that’s rather inspiring to me.

The website hasn’t officially launch as of the day that this post is written, but there’s a video (about half an hour long) with Phil talking why he’s doing this and some of the contents that’s going to be on it. It’s a simple production but the sketches are better written than many kids stuff I see on TV nowadays. Take a look and it just might be what you are looking for if you are a Christian parent.

Santa Monica Puppetry Festival

Sorry I’ve been MIA lately. Wait, you didn’t notice? Oh well, maybe that’s a good thing?

Been busy with work lately, and also had some computer problems. The power jack was messed up so I couldn’t get power into the computer, and we all know that computers need electricity. We ended up taking apart the whole laptop, took out the power jack and soldered a new one onto the motherboard. And much to our surprise that actually worked! Anyway, should go back to a relatively more or less normal posting schedule.

Anyway, I’ve just realized that Santa Monica Puppetry Festival is this week from Wednesday (today) to Sunday. If you are in the area like I am, check out their website. I am currently planning to check out Jack Rabbit and the Beanstalk this Saturday, which I believe is a marionette show for audience ages 3 and up (which makes me old enough to watch it).

Anyone interested?

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