Friday, August 31, 2007

Star Wars Simpsons Style

I'm a fan of both "The Simpsons" and "Star Wars," so I couldn't resist this video that takes place a long time ago, in a Springfield far far away.

100 Movies, 100 Quotes, 100 Numbers

I have to admit enjoying to watch those AFI countdown shows. This, though has to be the best idea for a countdown I've seen.

BTW...You know a lot about movies if you can tell me which movie the name Alonzo Mosley comes from. Took me a minute to remember, I must admit.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What a Wonderful World

I love shadow puppetry! Most puppetry historians would agree that probably the first form of puppetry was ancient people making shadows with their hands. Check out this video and I think you'll find this technique still works quite well.

GREAT Shadow Puppetry - Watch today’s top amazing videos here

This video was so much fun for me to watch. When I saw this performer make the shape of a head and start singing it brought a huge smile to my face. I think I've been guilty of doing the same thing and trying to lip synch to the pastor's sermon on one or two Sundays.

This video really brightened my day!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

What I've Learned from the Muppets: The Original Couch Gag

Every episode of "The Simpsons" begins with what the fans refer to as "The Couch Gag." It comes at the end of the opening credits. The Simpson family members all run to the couch to sit in front of the TV. Over the course of the last 18 years, various bizarre things have happened as they reach the couch...everything from the couch eating them to being squashed by the Monty Python foot. I have seen many episodes of "The Simpsons" over and over again, but I always make sure to pay close attention to the couch gag. We're used to the opening credits of a show always being the same. I'll be a lot of TV viewers usually tune out the credits. But not Simpsons fans. There's a sense of anticipation about what will happen this time.

This past Tuesday, the DVD set for "The Simpsons Season 10" was released. On the same day, after two years of waiting, "The Muppet Show Season 2" also arrived on DVD. As I added both of these volumes to my collection, I realized that originators of the couch gag, at least in my frame of reference, were the Muppets.

From season 2 on, each episode of "The Muppet Show" featured Gonzo blowing a trumpet at the end of the credits, and getting different results each time. I remember being a kid and wondering what would happen to Gonzo this week, much like I find myself wondering about the Simpsons and their couch.

I think Gonzo's trumpet mishaps are part of what helped shape how I approach my own puppet programs. Variety is the key. People respond better when something new and unexpected is put in front of them. When people think they know what is going to happen, they tune out.

The same is true of kids. Experts say kids respond well to routine. Yes that's true, but the opening of "The Muppet Show" demonstrates how you can have routine (here come the credits again) but make it new and exciting each time (what's going to happen to Gonzo next?).

A lot of times in children's church we have the same elements each week. That's fine, but it's good to find ways to do something unexpected. Instead of just having a puppet read this week's memory verse, perhaps he could recite it while standing on his head, or tap dancing, or walking on a bed of flaming hot coals. When the audience is wondering what will happen next they will be more involved in your presentation.

Monday, August 06, 2007

VBS to Avoid

Through following some random blog links I happened upon a top ten list of worst VBS themes. David A Zimmerman, the creator of this list, explains in his post that this was inspired by the fact that the VBS used at his church was named after a "natural disaster." Being a children's ministry person I know what VBS he's talking about, and while I'm sure it's a great program, when I first saw that title earlier this year I thought it not to be the best choice of names either. These, however, are definitely Vacation Bible Schools Your Child Should Skip.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Save the Spindle Update

When I visited The Spindle a few weeks ago I was approached by another person with camera in hand who asked me, "hey man, you know where to get the 'save the spindle' t-shirts?" Apparently a real effort to save The Spindle is emerging. A new website,, is now online. While you're at it, go check out the blog of Kidology's Steve Tanner and his recent "Save the Spindle" post.