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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.

Norah Jones on Sesame Street

I came across this cute video of Norah Jones singing “Don’t Know Why” on Sesame Street last night. It was not a new, but I haven’t seen the video before. I have no idea how Sesame Street somehow finds all these songs that would work perfectly for all these singers’ love for their numbers, letters, and shapes.

Feist on Saseme Street

I love it when singers parody their own songs. I loved it when James Blunt appeared on Sesame Street singing a song about his triangle (a parody of “You’re Beautiful”). And here is Canadian singer-song writer Feist‘s appearance on Sesame Street. In this really cute video, she sings a song about counting to four, parodying her hit song 1-2-3-4. (If you can’t see the embedded video, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fciD_II7NI.)

This video is so fun to watch. The monsters (Elmo, Zoe, Telly, Rosita) are cute. The chickens are wearing hats and sunglasses. The penguins are silly looking. But what I really love is Feist’s performance. She is such a puppet! Okay, let me explain: she is totally matching the puppets’ movements. When she is walking along with the monsters, she bounces up and down like puppets would. And when she dances around with the chickens and monsters, she does this really exaggerated head and body motion that’s such a puppet movement. (When TV puppets sing and dance, you see this very typical move of bodying swaying left and right, the head tilting to the left for two beats, and then right for two beats and so on.) It’s very typical for a puppet, but when a human does it, it’s just so totally adorable. And apparently she’s having way too much fun and that feeling of joy really beams over to my monitor.

They also did a good job of designing the shots. There’s Feist, four monsters, four penguins, and four chickens, a total of 13 characters in the shot at one point and yet it was never chaotic. And they took many elements from the original video (which is also very fun to watch, by the way). It was not easy because all the characters are moving all the time, and so was the camera. Everything had to be carefully planned out, especially when they were using the edges of the screen so much (just like the very classic Mahna Mahna sketch from Muppets). Towards the end there were three groups of four and they each used one edge (monsters on left, chickens at the bottom, and penguins on right). There were many characters but they were organized into groups, so you didn’t need to try to figure out what each of the 13 characters were doing.

Ah, this is way too cute, seriously.

(Via PuppetVision blog. Get well soon, Andrew!)

Update: After watching the video for the 5th time, I spotted Oscar the Grouch in this video. It was really a subtle but nice touch. Anyone spotted Oscar too? (That was quite a Where’s Waldo moment for me.)

Related Posts:
James Blunt on Sesame Street
Walking Down the Memory Lane and Mahna Mahna

Sesame Street videos online

Sesame Workshop has recently put a lot of Sesame Street videos online. I’ve been spending a lot of time watching these videos. It’s nice that they are all in one place so I don’t have to look around for them. I am watching mostly Cookie Monster videos. I did not know there’s this version of C is for Cookies. But I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise. There’s also Cookie introducing each of the 26 letters. And all the Monsterpiece Theatre clips. How I love that silliness. You can watch Cookie Monster eat cookies, pipes, a house, and other miscellaneous things. Ah, I wish the new Sesame Street still has that much Cookie Monster. Elmo is so over-rated. Cookie Monster is awesome because he eats everything with such passion. You’ve got to love that.

You can use the tags as well as the search box to find the videos you want to watch. You can also click on the characters’ pictures on top and all the videos with those characters will come up. These are probably mostly older clips. For example, when I searched Abby Cadabby, nothing came up. Anyway, I think it’s awesome for them to have all these videos up. On a somewhat related topic, I also think it’s smart for networks to stream some of their shows online. They get to have a say in how their contents are distributed and draw people to their websites. It’s a good thing.

I am off to watch more Cookie Monster… and sometimes other characters too. :-)

Via PuppetVision.

Vintage Sesame Street Reissues – not for kids

My friend Jay gave me a link of an NPR (National Public Radio) article/interview about the early episodes of Sesame Street being released on DVD. They talked about how some of the things they did back then wouldn’t be shown on TV by today’s standards (for kids anyway). Oscar the Grouch lives in garbage and he never seeks help to get out of it. Cookie Monster is a compulsive eater. In some parodies he was even shown smoking a pipe (and ended up eating it too). These are the things that you would no longer see today.

Now I am only 25, not old enough to be growing up watching the vintage Sesame Street. I hadn’t checked out the DVDs either. I watched a bunch of classic Sesame Street stuff on YouTube though, so I know what the interview was talking about.

My observations are that, at one time, Cookie Monster is one of the most important character on Sesame Street, but now it’s Elmo. Cookie Monster even had a song about cookie is good for sometimes, but eating healthy is important too. Cookie Monster nowadays don’t do much other than coming out to read a letter but ends up eating it because the letter is written on a cookie. He’s certainly not as important as before. Oscar is a lot less grouchy. He is still not the nicest guy, but now we really only see his soft side. Now all he does is tell Trash Gordon stories to Slimey. Well, I do think Slimey is really cute, but my point is, some of these characters have all been toned down a lot for clean, family fun.

I guess it’s a fine line between being silly and being too adult, huh?

This also makes me think about my own writing a little bit. So far, all the episodes I’ve made are pretty kid-safe (except for those who think tooth fairies are real – oops). I was wondering if I will venture into issues that’s more grown-up. When I say grown-up, I don’t necessarily mean sex, but rather, topics including politics, society, etc. as well. Maybe they will start to say words like “hell” and call each other stupid more. I don’t know. Still something to think about.

One thing I am very against though, is people thinking that puppets cursing = funny. That gets old really fast, actually. Cursing is fine by me if they have a good story to tell, or good gag to present. Sometimes cursing is good for emphasis of certain things. But yeah, I’d like to tell them, if ou have to make a puppet curse in order to get laughs, I’m sorry. That’s simply offensive and not funny. You can do better. (If you cannot do better, then don’t do it.)

Most un-focused post ever…

PS. This week I’ve been going to the LCC show: Enchant This! that I mentioned earlier. And then I’ll also be going home for Thanksgiving, so I’m not sure if I have time to whip together an episode this week. I do have something already brainstormed but I’m not sure if I have time to do all the production work. We will see…

James Blunt on Sesame Street

The other day I was channel surfing and Sesame Street happened to be on. James Blunt was the guest star for that segment. I don’t know if everyone has heard of James Blunt, but since most of my readers are in California, and radio stations here play his hit song “You’re Beautiful” five million times a day, I assume that most of you know who he is. Anyway, in this segment, James was singing to Telly about how he’s looking hard for a triangle. It’s one of the most amusing stuff I’ve seen lately. I think it’s really cool when a singer does a parody of his own song.

blunt_triangle.jpg

By the way, Episode 6 will be released on Wednesday (finally!!). Hopefully Episode 7 can be released the Wednesday after. I’m still looking for the tape and script that’s packed away somewhere. :-)

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