Thursday, November 29, 2007

Boars, Monsters and Polar Bears

I'm always a couple years behind on whatever the popular TV shows are. For example, I love "24," but for me President Logan just went down. I'm a year behind! I always have to wait for the DVD's. Even with a TiVo now, my effort at watching "Bionic Woman" from the beginning fell apart quickly.

Anyhow, one series I'm catching up on is "Lost." Of course, I'm still back in the first season. One of my favorite moments in the series so far comes in episode 9 - "Solitary." In this episode, Hurley finds a set of golf clubs from the plane's wreckage and decides to build a golf course. The scene where he invites his fellow castaways to join him in a game of golf is a great example of the importance of having fun.

Hurley: Welcome to the first, and hopefully last, Island Open!

Jack: What?

Hurley: It’s two holes, for now, three par, and no waiting.

Jack: Hurley, you built a golf course?

Hurley: Rich idiots fly to tropical islands all the time to whack balls around.

Michael: All the stuff we got to deal with man, this is what you’ve been wasting your time on?

Hurley: Dudes, our lives suck. Everyone’s nerves are stretched to the max. I mean, we’re lost an an island…runnin’ from boars, and monsters…freakin’ polar bears!

Michael: Polar bears?

Charlie: You didn’t hear about the polar bear?

Hurley: Look all I’m saying is, if we’re stuck here then just surviving’s not going to cut it. We need some kind of relief, you know. We need some way that we can…you know, have fun. That’s right have fun, or else we’re just going to go crazy waiting for the next bad thing to happen.

Now let me be perfectly clear about something...having my toenails pulled out with a pair of chopsticks would be more fun to me than a round of golf, but what Hurley's getting at is still true. My life is full of boars, monsters and polar bears. I'll bet yours is too. But do we make a real effort to have play? I know I don't as much as I should. The boars, monsters and polar bears are at home, at work, at church...many times we let all those environments become so tense. Often we truly are just waiting for the next bad thing to happen. We need to make an effort to have fun!

When I tell people that I'm a puppeteer many respond by saying, "oh that must be so much fun!" Well, it is fun, and exhausting, and stressful, and everything that every other job is. Even when there are plenty of things around me that can bring me fun, I'm the kind of person who spends a lot more time focusing on the boars, monsters, and polar bears.

So here's a challenge: Christmas time is upon us, it's a festive time of the year anyway...but it's also pretty stressful. Try to approach this month with that spirit of fun that came automatically when you were a kid. Have fun! Lick the spoon when you're making Christmas cookies. Go Christmas shopping wearing a pair of antlers and a light-up nose.'s going to be a challenge for me too, my wife says I've been a real grouch the last few days. Don't try to just survive each day...Have fun!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Genesis: Live Over Europe 2007

I've mentioned before that my favorite band of all-time is Genesis, so I just had to offer up a review of their newly released live album, "Live Over Europe 2007."

I think Genesis may have released more live albums than just about anyone: Genesis Live (1973), Seconds Out (1977), Three Sides Live (1982), The Way We Walk Vol. 1: The Shorts (1992), and The Way We Walk Vol. 2: The Longs (1993). It's kind of interesting that a band with it's roots in the progressive rock genre would have so many live albums. Prog bands don't tent to have a lot of variation between the album versions and live versions of songs. But from the days when Peter Gabriel would wear fox heads and flower costumes in concert, Genesis has always been a great live band.

The new album features songs from all stages of the band's history, recorded at various venues across Europe last summer. Most of the songs have appeared in other live incarnations, still, it's great to hear new recordings of these classics. For me, the highlight of the album "Ripples," a beautiful song from the 1976 album "A Trick of the Tail" which has never made an appearance on one of the band's previous live efforts. Another favorite was "Conversations with Two Stools," which is a recording of the Phil Collins / Chester Thompson drum duet, which has been a Genesis tradition since Collins took over lead singing duties in the mid 70's. The duet flows directly into the classic instrumental piece "Los Endos," which at least features part of my namesake song, "Squonk."

It doesn't exactly break new ground, but "Live Over Europe 2007" is great chance to hear a classic band together again.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Children's Church Coolness

The last several weeks have been pretty busy for me. I had several puppet festivals to be at. They all went really well, and I got to see a bunch of great children's church facilities at the churches I visited. Here are some photos of some of the creative stuff I got to see.

First up are some shots of the children's church set at Flint River Baptist Church, which hosted the Huntsville, AL puppet festival. The set featured a boat, dock, and beach hut. The boat has a time machine on the deck and that's real sand on the ground by the hut.

The Oklahoma City area puppet festival was hosted by Crosspointe Church in Norman, OK. The entire children's church area is decorated like a castle. The theme is carried through all the rooms and hallways.

After the Oklahoma City Festival I got to stay over long enough to visit one of the LifeChurch.TV campuses in the area. These photos are from the Oklahoma City Campus (which is actually in Edmond), this is the campus that Pastor Craig Groeschel preaches from, the message then goes out via satellite to the other campuses. I made arrangements several weeks ago to get a tour of the children's church facility, so I got the grand tour.

This is the check-in area. It kind of reminded me of the self-check-in system that United Airlines uses. Parents have a card that they scan, then the computer lists all the kids on that account. They use the touch screen to check-in the kids that are present, the computer prints the name tags, and they are off to children's church.

My favorite way to get into children's church was this one. The 1st to 3rd graders enter the room via slide. Way cool! Beneath are some shots of the set.

Here's a shot of one of the pre-school rooms. All the decor was done by Wacky World Studios.

The facility for the adults ain't bad either.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Huntsville, AL Festival II

Here's a few more photos from the festival last weekend in Huntsville.

Gerbert was at the festival this year! Here he is with Pastor Norm Hewitt on Saturday morning.

We got to see a really fantastic performance by the team from The Rock Church on Saturday afternoon. Here is a shot from an interpretation of "Who Am I" using just gloved hands in blacklight to create various images.

The highlight of their performance was this blacklight robot. This has to be one of the most original puppets I've seen in a long time. Here's some video of it in action:

Friday, November 02, 2007

Huntsville, AL Puppet Festival

Here's a few pics from Friday night of the Huntsville, AL Puppet Festival.

Ventriloquist Bert Boudet is one of our instructors. He and his puppet pals MC'd the puppet song competition.

This is the Fingers of God puppet team performing "I'm Not Cool."

The van prop was featured in the performance by Kingdom Kritters of Cullman, AL

YEAH Creative Ministries Team of Sparta, TN had some cool blacklight butterflies in their presentation.