HELP! There’s a Abominable Snowman in my front yard!

Cincinnati received a proper snow storm last night, so schools closed, many businesses (including the bookshop I work at) shut down, so what should we do will all this free time and snow?

Build a snowman, abominable of course!

Here’s the little video I made:

While not puppetry, this is a piece of original art that I have created from scratch in my front yard. I encourage you to do something different with snow this winter season.

Thanks to the neighbors who commented on my snow sculpture, even the kid who claimed that Bigfoot sightings in Ohio are “A lie!“. I guess that info was just too much for his 10 year old brain to process.

WILD about PUPPETS

In addition to my 2010 goal to get my puppet show out onto a stage I am trying to take my children to see one puppet show a month. January’s show was called Wild Puppets!

The program was presented by two naturalists from the Cincinnati Parks department at the La Boiteaux Woods nature preserve. They gave two short puppet plays about the animals found in and around the nature preserve using this puppet tree:

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The children in the audience were able to make either make their own owl puppet or a possum puppet out of a paper bag. I had my hands full while trying to keep Tiernan from running all around. We were lucky that a one of Eleanor’s classmates was at the show too, her mother helped Eleanor make this nifty owl puppet:

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The puppets were mostly Folkmanis puppets and the performance, while not top notch, was just fine for young children. My children loved seeing the animals, and playing with a lady bug puppet (Eleanor) and a stag beetle puppet (Tiernan). Of course I got to do a bit of puppetry when the naturalists had the audience pick up a puppet to participate with. I grabbed a toad puppet and did my Kermit impersonation that got a few laughs. We were also able to pet a rat snake who lives at the nature preserve.

Overall we had a great time, as you can see by looking at this photo of Tiernan:

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The apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree….

I am a very happy geek daddy tonight!

My 5 year old daughter Eleanor is officially a published comic artist!

Several weeks ago she was looking at her comics and noticed that other children had their art printed in the comic book. She asked me how she could do that, and I suggested that she draw her favorite characters and we would mail them to DC Comics. Earlier today we were at our comic shop (Maverick’s AKA “Leo’s”), we were about to leave when I remembered that we had mailed DC her art, so I looked on the shelf to find this:

Eleanor's comic art

When I was around her age I thought that I would like to be a cartoonist or animator, my mother even paid for drawing lessons when I was in grade school. Then, in high school drawing class, I was thrown out of the class for not being serious about my work! I drew onions with hands and feet! I was so pissed off I don’t think I touched a pencil for a few years.

You should also know that Eleanor’s lovely mother is a VERY talented ARTSCHOOL DROP-OUT! Who says we can’t draw?!?!

So I would like think that a little bit of my 5 year old self’s dreams of being a cartoonist are printed on that page.

I love my daughter!
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Art Clokey R.I.P.

I am sad to learn that one of the men who has been a hero and inspiration to me and my puppetry has passed away.

I can’t recall exactly when I became a fan of Gumby and Pokey, I guess it was in the late 60’s or early 70’s during my weekly Saturday morning tee-vee marathons. I have always found Gumby to be magical, even though I know how the puppet is animated. There is something so real about the character, and that is that Art Clokey put some of himself into the clay figure, making it seem real to me.

The odd thing about his passing is that Eleanor, Tiernan, and I were playing with our Gumby toys and watching a Gumby DVD yesterday, the day that Art Clokey left us. How strange.

Thank you Art for creating such a wonderful cast of characters that my family and I have enjoyed for many years.

The closest I ever got to Sesame Street, or I was a Grouch Guard

Set your WABAC machine for April 1, 2004.

Upon arriving at The Phoenix restaurant in downtown Cincinnati I notice a sign for the lecture that I was attending was being held on the third floor. The lecture was to benefit the early childhood organization 4C, it’s speaker was none other than Sesame Street puppeteer Caroll Spinney!

I took the elevator up to the function room, checked in at the registration table, and entered the room. There was a dinner before the lecture, but the cost was beyond my budget so I paid for the lecture and dessert. Inside the large room I selected an aisle seat in the second row in the center section. From there I took out my camera to see how a picture would look.

After sitting for about 10 minutes I noticed Caroll Spinney approaching the stage with a woman from the 4C organization. He was carrying a duffel bag. They adjusted the microphone at the lectern, and then Caroll Spinney looked at me, I wave back. He then says, “Mister Puppeteer” and gives me a friendly smile. You should know that I had attended his talk the night before at Miami University and we were able to talk a little afterward. A group of newspaper photographers then arrived to take pictures of Caroll with Oscar the Grouch and then Ohio Senator Mark Mallory.

When the photographers finished, Caroll put Oscar back in his bag and then started to leave the stage when he made a sudden stop, turned around and approached me. I stood up to greet him, and he nodded towards the podium and jokingly says to me, “If anyone goes back there…kill them” referring to the famous puppet that was behind the podium.

When the lecture began Caroll walked onto the stage and looked at me with a nod of his head to say “thank you”. He read a few paragraphs from his then current autobiography The Wisdom of Big Bird (and the Dark Genius of Oscar the Grouch): Lessons from a Life in Feathers and then said that Oscar was gnawing at his leg!
In seconds Oscar the Grouch is singing “I Love Trash” and I snapped a few pictures of this wonderful performance that is only about 15 feet in front of me.

Caroll then took questions from the audience, I chose not to ask anything in order to give someone else a turn. When the lecture ended, Caroll moved to a table to sign his book, I was towards the beginning of the line -rather at the end as I was the night before. I brought with me the sleeve of an old record with Big Bird on the cover and a copy of Caroll’s book to sign. When it was my turn he recognized me at once, I told him that Oscar was safe while he was away from the stage. Caroll thanked me and said that he knew that he left Oscar in good hands. I then asked him what inspired him to become a puppeteer. He then went on to tell me that he saw a few teenagers perform with kitten puppets when he was three years old.

That evening was as close as I have ever been to Sesame Street. Watching Caroll Spinney’s performance as Oscar and Big Bird when I was almost 5 years old in 1969 has stayed with me for the past 40 years and remains a strong inspiration to be a puppeteer.

Happy 40th anniversary to everyone who ever walked on Sesame Street.

Back from Daddy-O-Land

What has it been? Nearly three flippin’ years!?!

What happened to me? Well, his name is Tiernan, and he is not a puppet but a real, live boy! My son was born in April of 2007, so you can imagine that I have been a little busy with raising two wonderful children since the last posting.

Fear not, dear readers… all three of you.

Wump Mucket Puppets lives!

More news later, but much sooner than before 😉

Slammed

The 2006 puppet slam went rather well. I did my little act titled “Puppet Spam” with my Cyril The Sea Monster puppet. I got a few laughs, and one “heckler” too! I need to work on using my left arm to operate Cyril’s tail more. I twisted my arm the wrong way while operating the puppet, and it still aches.

Several CAPG puppeteers plan to drive to Dublin, OH to perform at the COPA puppet slam next month. Maybe I’ll get some photos to post.