Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Silent Star Wars

1920's STAR WARS - video powered by Metacafe

There is a great tradition of Star Wars fan films. From "Troops" and "George Lucas in Love" all the way back to the classic "Hardware Wars." Here's a new one that's shown up on the web...imagine if Star Wars had been made in the silent era.

Dummy Turns down Movie Role

An interesting story related to the world of ventriloquism appeared in the New York Times this weekend. The story, "The Kid Quits the Picture," has to do with a new movie called "The Ten." The movie is a comedic look at the Ten Commandments. One sequence features a woman, played by Winona Ryder, who has an affair with a ventriloquist's dummy. Not with the ventrilqouist...with the dummy!

Apparently the filmmakers contacted some good friends of mine, Tim and Amanda Cowles of the Dummyworks (pictured), to see about using one of the figures they construct for the film. After a review of the script, they turned down the role on behalf of their dummy. Sounds like they made a wise choice.

Tim and Amanda are great performers and figure builders. They have been a part of I-Fest for many years. They perform in schools and churches all over. I think the article actually does a very good job of portraying their decision and values in a positive way.

It's also interesting to see yet another movie that is approaching ventriloquism in this creepy sort of way. Way back even in the silent era of movies, ventriloquists and dummy's have been portrayed in a twisted way. The man of a thousand faces, Lon Cheney, played a creepy ventriloquist in "The Unholy Three" in 1925 and then remade that film with sound five years later. When I was a kid, I remember seeing the ads for the movie "Magic." They scared me to death! What kid wouldn't be freaked out by dummy that looks like Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins played the ventriloquist in the movie, so the dummy looked like him). Just what is it with this morbid view of ventriloquism that Hollywood has?

Anyhow, hats of to Tim and Amanda for taking a stand!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Who needs the Kwik E Mart

With just a few days to go till the release of "The Simpsons Movie" I had to pay a visit to the 7-Eleven store in the Denver area that has been transformed into a Kwik E Mart. All 7-Eleven stores are carrying Simpsons inspired merchandise, but only a handful are being completely transformed. The Denver location is at Broadway and 3rd.

Whoa...That's good Squishee!

"Worst marketing gimmick ever." Me thinks not. Whoever came up with this idea is a genius.

"I don't know where you magic pixies came from, but I like your pixie drink!"

Friday, July 20, 2007

Save the Spindle

Berwyn, IL is where I was born and where my Grandma lived for most of my life. When I was in high school a bizarre sculpture called Spindle was erected at a shopping center in Berwyn. I can remember my Grandmother taking me to see it. The sculpture is pretty much just 8 old cars impaled on a nail. Many people may remember seeing it appear during the "Bohemian Rhapsody" sequence at the beginning of the movie "Wayne's World."

Now it seems that the Spindle is in danger of being torn down. The shopping center is being remodelled and a Walgreens threatens to take over the space where the Spindle sits. So, I had to go for one last visit while in the Chicago area for I-Fest.

Some people love this thing, others hate it. Personally, I think it's a shame if it comes down. It's one of those "only in America" type of things...any Chicagoland native would also say, "only in Berwyn!"

I say "Save the Spindle!"

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I-Fest 07 Update

I-Fest 2007 is well under way. I didn't get to post yesterday, but I've actually run across some free time here today. Will wonders ever cease? Above you see the picture of the 2007 Puppetry Dream Team. Today was the official photo day for the team.
Maegan Bruce was our featured ventriloquist performer last night. Each evening performance at I-Fest features a puppet team and a ventriloquist. Usually the puppet teams are mostly teens, the vents are usually adults. So it was really a treat to see a ventriloquism performance by a teenager who is extremely talented and committed to ministry. Maegan did a great job!

The featured puppet team last night was The Outrageous Puppeteerian Crew from Oswego, IL. They also did a great job!

Now this photo needs some explaining. This is Al Laird, he and his wife direct a puppet team in Orange City, IA. Their team presented a skit to introduce the festival theme, "Eager to Serve," during orientation on Monday. One of the puppets in that skit held up a sign saying "Todd Liebenow beats Chuck Norris," playing off the whole Chuck Norris Facts trend. Todd is Squonk, if you didn't know that already. The gag continued yesterday as their whole team sported T-shirts saying the same thing. Now just in case Chuck Norris should read this, don't come looking for me. I don't think I would last long against Mr. Norris. But then again, can he do two rod manipulation. Hmmm. Me thinks not

Monday, July 09, 2007

I-Fest 2007

Well, I-Fest 2007 is under way! I'm going to try and update the blog during the festival, but I make no promises. I don't exactly have a lot of free time during this thing...but I'll do my best. Above you see ventriloquist Doug Nearpass who performed as Noah to start things off tonight.

Below you see one of our One Way Street staff, Ryan Spittler. He's one of our puppet builders, and an uber puppeteer...plus a picture of him with a puppet appears on the cover of this year's I-Fest handbook. In the presentation by Jesus Rocks puppet team of Riverside, CA, the turtle puppet you see said that she had a crush on the "coverboy." Mari, the turtle, was performed by Lindsey Barnes who is another amazing puppeteer.

Look below and you can also see a photo of one of our international guests. Royston is from Sri Lanka and joins us at I-Fest for the second year!