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

The Origin of Slutty Halloween Costumes

Once upon a time, there was a little town called Apiaoville. The residents were mostly farmers and lived a simple life during this simple time. However, things were about to change when a farmer named Richard George Hoffman was executed.

Hoffman was a honest farmer who grew pumpkins on his land. However, quarrals with fellow farmer Bill Hath over land ownership eventually led to his demise. One day Hath killed another man and framed it on Hoffman. Hath was so clever that the judge believed him and as a result, Hoffman was executed. Little did the town people knew that this was the beginning of a crisis.

On Halloween, the night that the Devil’s magical power was the strongest, a strange event unfolded at the town cemetary. Roger Landley was the first to witness this, as he was a grave digger who was not very good at digging and often had to work extra hours into the night. He saw the soil moving, and finally, fingers started coming out of the ground, and then hands started reaching out. Landley saw this and froze.

He was horrified. What was going on? He wanted to get out of there, but his body apparently wasn’t responding. Finally, zombies started crawling out of the graves, one by one.

Suddenly, he was tapped on the shoulder by a finger. It was cold as Hell and it sent chills up his spine. He jumped up and saw that it was a zombie that touched him. Having snapped out of that frozen state (due to an even colder touch), he ran and ran back into the town. He reported this to the preacher Jonathan Blair. Preacher Blair frowned and told Landley to gather all the town’s people to the meeting house.

An hour later, the whole town was at the meeting house. Some were standing outside peeking through the window, because apparently, not all of them could get in.

“Townspeople, I gather you here to tell you, that the Prophesy of Davidson had been fulfilled,” said Preacher Blair.
“What is that?” Someone asked.
“The Prophesy foretold that when the blood of the innocent is spilled, Hell breaks loose and zombies come out,” said Preacher Blair.

The people started to murmur.

“Now, I gather you here to all think of ways to get rid of the zombies, because Davidson was known as the half-ass prophet and did not foretell that part,” said Preacher Blair, “Any ideas?”
“Fire?” someone shouted out a suggestion.
“Throw Bibles at them?” said another person in the crowd.
“Now those are all very good suggestions,” said Preacher Blair, “but some other zombie-infested towns have tried those and failed. We need something different.”
“Fear!” somebody shouted out. Everybody turned their head. It was Larry Sherlock, the smartest man in town.
“Can you elaborate on that, Mr. Sherlock?” asked Preacher Blair.
“I think we should fight fear with fear,” said Sherlock, “If we all dress up as ghosts that’s even scarier than theirs, maybe they will be scared to death, again.”
“It’s so crazy that it just might work!” said Preacher Blair.

So people all went home and dressed up as ghosts and they proceeded to the cemetary. When the townspeople and zombies finally met each other face to face, the townspeople started to do the scariest faces that they could think of. However, the zombies were not terrified at all and proceeded to kill people.

“Run away!” Preacher Blair declared. People all started running away. Mary Silverman was among the one running away. However, when she was running, her dress was caught in tree branches and that tore off the fabric. She was standing there with her luscious bare legs showing.

The townspeople (especially the guys) all stopped to stare at her legs, forgetting that there were zombies, while the zombies actually ran away in fear. The townspeople were relieved, but puzzled. They looked at one another and scratched their heads.

The preacher thought for a while and finally figured out what was going on.

“People, let’s not forget all these zombies all died quite a while ago and you know what that means?” said the Preacher.
Everybody shook his or her head.
“They were really old ghosts which means they are very conservative ghosts! Really conservative ghosts were terrified of legs!” said the Preacher, “Ghost costumes are not enough to scare them, but slutty costumes are! If this ever happen again, we shall all dress up slutty and they will be scared away!”

Everybody agreed. So the next time it happened, they were prepared with their sexy nurse, sexy schoolgirl, sexy maid, and all these other sexy costumes. And this was the origin of all the slutty costumes today.

One Thousand and One Night of Stupidity: Sledgehammer

This story is part of the One Thousand and One Nights of Stupidity Series, a series of stories that insult people’s intelligence. Visit this link for the premise of the story and other installments.

King Shagua loved Jane’s stories, so he wanted to hear another one.
“Here, your majesty, is a story about a man with way too many locks…” said Jane.

He turned the key in the lock and opened the door. To his horror, he saw… yet another lock.

“Another lock? What was I thinking?” He grumbled and continued to look for the key on his hula hoop. Yes, Hula hoop. Normal people used a small key chain, but he had so many keys that a Hula hoop was the only option.

Meet Gary Morrison. He was once a successful banker, with a beautiful house, a beautiful wife, two beautiful children and a beautiful dog. He was earning big and living large. All these changed after that one morning that he left the door open during breakfast. Normally that wasn’t a big deal, but his dog happened to be particularly stupid. The dog wandered off and could not find his way back.

The family was devastated. They sent out a big search team because rich people could afford that, but they couldn’t find the dog. Some people claimed that the dog stepped into a balloon and flied off, but that was never confirmed. They even checked all the boxes in the attic but did not find anything. He blamed himself. He kept on asking himself what he could’ve done.

One day, he was complaining to his friend Tommy Jefferson, another successful businessman.

“You know, I never knew that losing something can hurt so much,” said Gary with a sigh.
“Yeah, I am sorry, man,” said Tommy, “You’ve got to carefully guard what you own.”
“Is that what you’ve been doing?” asked Gary.
“Oh, of course,” said Tommy, “You’ve got to have more locks in your life.”
“Locks?” asked Gary.
“I’m a great believer in lock, and I find the harder I work, the more lock I have.” Tommy said.
“You mean, I should lock up everything I have, so I never lose them?”
“You got the idea, man,” said Tommy, “My friend Lawrence King once told me ‘Those who have succeeded at anything and don’t mention lock are kidding themselves.’ Couldn’t have said it better myself!”
“You know what? I will do that!” said Gary, “Do you know any good locksmith?”
“Yeah, just a second.” Tommy dug through his wallet and handed Gary a business card. “This is my locksmith. Call her up!”

Gary took the business card and made an appointment with the locksmith, Sheryl Temple Black. She came the next day and installed a giant lock on the door.

“But how do I know it’s a good lock?” asked the somewhat skeptical Gary.
“Oh honey,” answered the cheerful locksmith, “Good lock needs no explanation, okay?”
“I’ll give you a refund if it doesn’t work out, okay? Here’s your bill, have a nice day!”

She got in her truck and drove off before he could utter a word, but the lock did work well. It had been two weeks and no dog of his has ever wandered off again!

Of course, part of that was because he did not have a dog anymore, but it was good lock nevertheless. He started to get obsessed with locks. He would put several new ones on a door every month. And finally, when banks started going bankrupt (because of the financial crisis and because you can’t spell “bankrupt” without “bank”), he bought the building from one of the failed banks. This became his dream home.

In his mind, the bank vault was his perfect habitat. It had several locks on each door. You had to open multiple doors before you could really get inside. Each door was bullet proof and could lock out everything, even moisture. It was perfect!

But apparently his family didn’t think so. They could not stand the locks anymore. One day they all went to work and school and never came back. Some said they flied off in a balloon, but it was never confirmed. This got him mighty depressed.

Why did he still fail to keep what he loved, when he had so many locks in place? What was going on? He consistently asked himself the question. Meanwhile, he installed more locks, because he simply could not lose any more things.

Enough flashback. Let’s look at Gary now. Still opening locks? Apparently he had so many locks to open that he still wasn’t done going through all the locks while we’ve already told a good chunk of his life story. He was actually getting annoyed and frustrated himself with the locks.

Suddenly he heard a voice behind him. “Good morning, chief.”

He turned around. It was a burly man with a huge grin.

“Raul Waldo Emerson, chief,” He reached his hand out for a handshake to a confused Gary. “I am the handyman you called in to fix your drain?”
“Oh,” replied Gary, “You’ll have to wait. Door’s not open yet.”
“What’s with all the locks, chief?” asked Raul.
“Well, the locks are here to make my life better.”
“But I can see they are making your life miserable.”
“You sir, are a shallow man,” said Raul.
“Excuse me?” Gary was a little offended.
“Shallow men believe in lock. Strong men believe in cause and effect.” said Raul. “Come on, I can make your life better.”

Gary looked at the man in front of him. Yeah, this man was happy, unlike himself. Maybe he was onto something.

“So, what should I do now?” asked Gary.
“See, you got locks, chief,” said Raul, “Sure you locked some things in, but look at all that you’ve locked out! You’ve got to tear the locks down!”
“How do I do that?” asked Gary.
“Remember I said strong men believe in cause and effect? Well, you be strong now.”

Raul pulled out a sledgehammer. “Look, this is the cause.”

Raul lifted up the sledgehammer and went straight at the lock. A few blows later, he managed to smash the lock.

“That’s the effect, chief.” Raul wiped off the sweat on his forehead. “Now you try.”

Gary picked up the sledgehammer and went for the next lock. He was hesitant at first, but he started having more and more fun.

“Oh my god! I am loving this!” Gary kept going and going. He felt as if the locks on his mind had been smashed away because it was simply easier to use whatever he was already doing as the metaphor instead of thinking of another one. When he finally smashed the last lock. He had a silly grin on his face.

“Wow!” Gary cried out.
“Much better, chief?” asked Raul, with a grin.
“Hell yea! Whole lot better! I can never thank you enough!”

Gary turned and gave Raul a big hug. Raul was amused.

“Now I just got to find my wife and kids back,” said Gary, “That might be difficult though.”
“Oh, that’s easy. I already sent out my friend, who is a police officer, to look for them.”

They turned around and the family were there.

“Go to them now and talk things over with a sledgehammer,” Raul said.

“Wow, it was so easy to end the story when you have a cop out,” said King Shagua.
“Yep, exactly,” said Jane.
“I have a question,” Violet raised her hand, “Why is the family talking things over with a sledgehammer at the end? Are they tearing down their metaphorical boundaries with it?”
“Oh, no, that’s a different kind of sledgehammer. You know, Vodka, lime juice, and Sunny Delight.” Jane said.
“I do like Sunny Delight!” said Violet.
“Oh yes, sledgehammer,” said Jane, “There’s something in it for everyone.”

This story is inspired by the writing prompts on the Writing Forward blog. The blogger receives no compensation for mentioning Sunny Delight in case FCC is wondering. You may contribute random story ideas or quotes in the comments section and they just might end up in the next story. :-)

TV Puppetry Workshop (Intermediate): Week 2

Today, we continued our exercises while adding more details into the puppets’ performances, like taking a deep breath, touching the face, adding a roll to the head motion, etc. The rest of the class (big chunks of the time) were spent working with a script and blocking out our musical routines.

We worked with a script today. The script was taped to the monitor, so we didn’t need to memorize it. We just needed to read lines off the script. However, it wasn’t as easy as it sounded. It was tricky, because we had two things to look at: the monitor so we knew what our performance looked like, and the script so we knew what the next line was. I had to quickly look back-and-forth, or use my peripheral vision to get it done, and I found myself losing the place in the script quite a few times. We will be working some more on this workflow next class.

And then we worked with the staging of the musical numbers again. In this course, each student was supposed to bring in a song/ musical number that he/she wanted to work on, and we would work out the choreography together. The person who brought in the song would be the lead singer, and there would be two back-up singers in the background backing him/her up. We started last week, but we didn’t remember all the choreography we worked out last time. We did remember certain bits and pieces though. I thought that worked well, because the parts that were forgotten probably weren’t too memorable to begin with anyway. We did work out quite a few details this class though, so we taped them this time. In the next class, we could play them back to refresh our memory and go from there.

There were five people signed up for this course, but one had to drop because he had to work three out of the four weeks. The other person is an actress and she hasn’t been able to come because she was on a set shooting something. So these two weeks, it has been just three students. And since all these group exercises used one lead singer and two backup singers, we were always doing something and didn’t get to sit down much. It was quite a good workout. It was especially a workout for me because I happened to be taller than these two classmates, so I had a harder time keeping my head out of the frame. I had to either spread my feet wider, bend my knees more, or tilt my head, but you know, puppeteers will do whatever it takes outside of the frame to make sure what’s on screen turns out good.

Since each student brought in a song, we had three different routines staged. When we watched what we taped, I saw puppet characters reacting to one another quite naturally. They had arm movements, head movements, lip sync, focused eyes and they looked expressive. They weren’t perfect but there were a lot of good stuff in there. Again, I was impressed with how well the class had done. This was such drastic improvement from our very first class. Back then, we couldn’t keep the puppets straight, we couldn’t focus the puppet’s eyes on the camera, and we also forgot to move the puppet’s mouth at times when it was supposed to be speaking. Well, none of that now.

It has been another fun class. Again, looking forward to the next class. (Just two more weeks left!)

Related Posts:
TV Puppetry Workshop (Intermediate): Week 1
TV Puppetry Workshop (Beginning): Week 1
TV Puppetry Workshop (Beginning): Week 2
TV Puppetry Workshop (Beginning): Week 3
TV Puppetry Workshop (Beginning): Week 4
TV Puppetry Workshop (Beginning): Weeks 5,6

Public Service Announcement about H1N1

Pili shot a public service announcement regarding the swine flu. Although most of my readers won’t understand the language spoken, you can see from that movements that they are telling you to wash hands with soap, refrain from touching your eyes, mouth, and nose with a dirty hand, and don’t greet each other by shaking hands.

Not that you don’t know that already, unless you are completely disconnected from the rest of the world (in which case you probably have nothing to worry about anyway).

TV Puppetry Workshop (Intermediate): Week 1

So, we are now in the intermediate class. In the beginning class, there were eight of us. In this class, we have five enrolled. I am glad to be working with these people again. This week, two people had jobs (I don’t know the details but they probably were probably filming something, I assumed) so there were only three of us. That actually worked out pretty well, because we were doing a few songs and exercises in which there were one lead singer and two backup singers in the back. With three people, we just kept rotating who the lead singer was during these exercises. It was also good practice for keeping your arms in the air for a more extended period of time.

According to the email Michael sent out, this is what the intermediate class will cover:

  • Stage a musical number you provide
  • Learn how to stage a musical number
  • Working with a script
  • More advanced choreography
  • More character voice work
  • More advanced arm rod work
  • More improvs and storytelling
  • Everyone gets a copy of their work at the end of 4th session.

When I looked at the list again after the first class, I thought “Yep, we did all of that.” In the beginning class, we practiced lip-sync using choreography that were provided to us; in this class, we are learning to analyze the songs, pick out words that we can emphasize and ideas we can play with, and work out a choreography for both the lead singer and the backup singers. I like the idea about finding the hooks in the song, and then adding visual hooks to the choreography for the performers to do.

As for the improv and story-telling part, they were similar to the beginning class, but with more in-depth analysis afterwards. Now that we got the basics down, although we still couldn’t execute everything perfectly every single time (it has only been less than two months, after all), we were all a lot more aware of what was right and what was wrong. Since these exercises were taped, we were able to all watch them and have discussions about them afterwards.

Overall, everybody now has a solid foundation to build on. The basic stuff like weight, eye-focus, and keeping the puppets held up straight are all there. Now we are doing a lot more fine-tuning. For example, besides doing basic lip-sync, we are now learning to vary the mouth sizes for different vowels. Granted, it wasn’t always noticeable because the mouths can be moving quite fast. And even when I was consciously watching for it during the demonstration, I wasn’t consistently seeing the variations. However, when the speech slows down or when a word is emphasized/billboarded, this kind of detail could make the performance even better. We are just adding layers and layers onto it.

And I finally learned the answer to a question that I’ve been wondering: Does Cookie Monster have a hole in his mouth for him to actually eat things, or does he always just drop everything onto the floor? The answer: yes, he does have a hole for the puppeteers to pull things through, but since he always eats so much, so fast, and in such messy manner, most of that just drops on the floor anyway. :-)

Looking forward to the next class, especially the choreography design part! 😀

Related Posts:
TV Puppetry Workshop: Week 1
TV Puppetry Workshop: Week 2
TV Puppetry Workshop: Week 3
TV Puppetry Workshop: Week 4
TV Puppetry Workshop: Weeks 5,6

TV Puppetry Workshop: Weeks 5, 6

I didn’t write last week, so here it is, the last two classes. In these two classes, we did many more improv exercises with groups and partners. In addition to the two-puppet scenes, we also did three- and four-puppet scenes. With the increased number of characters, things can become a little chaotic at times, but it also introduced some interesting new dynamics. In the very last class, I think I did pretty well… probably the best of all six weeks. Maybe it was because it was the last class and I wanted it to end on a good note; maybe it was because I was sleep-deprived and that actually made me more focused. I don’t know, but I didn’t feel off like I did the week before. For the most part, I was able to see something very close to what I would like to see on the monitor, if not exactly what I pictured. I certainly brought my A game.

In a way, I kinda wished that what we did from our very first class was taped. It might be embarrassing for some to watch, but at the same time, you could see how much everyone has improved. I was really impressed with all my classmates. In the very beginning, we couldn’t even hold the puppet straight! Everyone has come a long way, I thought.

So, the class is over… well, yes and no. It’s the end of the beginner class, but I signed up for the intermediate class as well. The class starts this Saturday, so, for me, it’s four more weeks of fun. I know there are a few more classmates who are also signed up, so we’ll see each other again in the next few weeks.

Taking this class has an unintended effect: it’s making me do some more reading. The studio where the class takes place is only a few blocks away from where I play softball in the afternoon, so I just hang out in the nearby library and read for an hour in between. I read some Mark Twain stuff one week, and lately I’ve been re-reading The Crucible. Why? These are things I read in high school when I was still pretty new in the United States. I want to see how different the experience would be now that I have a much better understanding of the English language than I did back then. I just finished Act 2 of The Crucible. At the current pace, I would probably finish it in two weeks.

To bring it back to the topic, it’s been fun. Would I recommend this class to people interested in puppetry? Hell yeah! If it sucked, we wouldn’t be signing up for the next class, right?

Related Posts:
TV Puppetry Workshop: Week 1
TV Puppetry Workshop: Week 2
TV Puppetry Workshop: Week 3
TV Puppetry Workshop: Week 4

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