Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Del Toro to Direct the Hobbit!

Much of this video of a press conference for the movie "The Orphanage" is not in English...However, at around the 40 second mark it is announced that Guillermo del Toro, who is standing on the right side of the screen, will direct the film version of "The Hobbit." Peter Jackson, who directed the Lord of the Rings trilogy will be producing and we asume contributing creatively in other ways. Del Toro was rumored to be in the running for awhile, but this is the first official word. Actually, I guess this isn't an "official" announcement from the studio...but del Toro is standing right there, he doesn't deny it! I think it's a great choice, not only was his last film, "Pan's Labyrinth," one of the most creative films I've seen in awhile...but like Jackson, Mr. del Toro does himself look like a hobbit, so I guess that's a plus.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hidden Mickeys at Coronado Springs

Well, it was a wee bit depressing to be on the Disney property last week and not get to go to any of the Disney parks. But, I made the best of it by trying to spot some of the legendary "Hidden Mickeys" the are planted around the grounds. In the convention center at Coronado Springs, many hidden mickeys can be spotted in the light fixtures.

At the entrance to the main lobby of the resort you can find a hidden mickey on one of the large wooden doors. See if you can spot him in the wide shot below.

Now here's a close up.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Now with Real Baby Seals!

Spotted this part of a well-balanced breakfast on the shelf at a Super Wal Mart just beyond the border of the Disney property last week. Somebody tell Tony the Tiger and the rest of the gang at Kelloggs that this is just bizarre.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

CPC Orlando

I just got back from the 2008 Children's Pastors Conference in Orlando, FL. As always, it was a great week of workshops, inspiring messages, and just getting to connect with some great friends. Here are a few photos from the week...

One Way Street exhibited at CPC once again, but this year we had a completely new design for our booths. Here is our marketing director, KJ Schmidt, going though part of the map with our good friend Bertha Grauman. Bertha just pitched in and helped, she's so awesome!

Here's KJ and Kristi with the finished booth. You can't see the whole thing, but it turned out really well!

Aunt Patsy from Jamaica is a good friend of One Way Street's who was at CPC this year. Patsy used to come to our Children's Ministry University years ago. She is quite a character, to say the least. She had a whole crew from Jamaica at the conference this year.

And while we're on the subject of old friends, let me tell you I just about got an arm rod across the face when these two turned around and spotted each other. This is Jeff Smith, founder of the dowel rod ministry technique and Gayle Elmore, she was the host of our Montgomery, AL Puppet Ministry Festival for many years. These two met at one of those festivals many years ago. Needless to say it had been awhile since they had seen each and they were quite excited.

If you are involved in children's ministry in any way shape or form you should consider it required reading to check out Jim Wideman's books. It's been my pleasure to get to know Jim over the years through our puppet ministry festivals. Jim and his daughter Yancy (not Nancy) were both at CPC, and I must admit I went to three of Jim's workshops this year...even some I'd been to before...he's that good!

Know how to impress your kids? Get your picture taken with the Go Fish guys!

Here's Dale VonSeggen and I with Karl Bastian, the brains behind Kidology. If you're not on Kidology...well get with the times man! It's a great place for children's ministry folks to share ideas. I'm excited to be a part of the staff for the Kidology conference in October, and glad to have Karl joining the crew at our Chicago area puppet festival next month.

My favorite speaker of the week was Wes Stafford from Compassion International.

Everyone loves the Stretch-a-Belly puppets!

Doug and Lee Nearpass are regulars at many One Way Street festivals. It was great to see them at CPC this year!

1 Year 26 Days

Well, late last night I finished reading through the Bible. On January 1st 2007 I started, using the Deliberate People materials as a guide. It's a one year guide, so I did miss a few days, but I was pretty consistent. It feels good to have accomplished this, and today I'll start over again.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Oscar Disapointments

This morning as I was braving -3 degrees to head to the airport the Academy Award nominations were announced. I always love the excitement of getting up in the morning to hear the nominations, but this year that just wasn't a possibility. As always there are some nominations you are thrilled about and others that make you say, "huh?" I suppose I often have some unrealistic expectations for some nominations, but here are a few of nods I wish we had seen this year:

The Simpsons Not Nominated - The D'oh Heard Round the World

"Best Animated Feature," though just a few years old, is my favorite category. Most years there are only 3 nominations, this year two of those nominations were a lock..."Ratatouille," like anything else Pixar puts out, was a for sure nominee even before it was released, and "Persepolis" was a critical, art house, and festival circuit favorite. So the third slot was up in the air, it ended up going to "Surf's Up," making the second year in a row in which a penguin movie was nominated in this category. I really felt "The Simpsons Movie" should've been the third nominee. Not because I'm a fan of "The Simpsons," and not because it was some sort of milestone in animation. But it was a great comedy, that happened to be animated. Anyway, I have to give the edge in this race to "Ratatouille." It's nomination in the original screenplay category certainly helps, and besides, penguins can't win two years in a row, can they!?!? I mean, come on Academy..."Happy Feet" winning over "Cars" last year was the biggest joke in the history of the Oscars.

Fantasy Film Actors Still Ignored

One of my favorite performances of last year was Imelda Staunton's portrayal of Dolores Umbridge in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." One of the best villains to appear on film in years. I felt it deserved a nod, but Academy voters just don't honor performances in the fantasy genre very often.

"Hairspray" snubbed

I just saw "Hairspray" a few weeks ago and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I mean, I had heard it was good, but it was a great example of how a movie musical should be. This wasn't just a movie version of a Broadway show, this was a great film. It's hard to describe the difference...go watch the new version of "The Producers" from a few years ago, then watch the new "Hairspray," you'll see what I mean. Anyhow, it deserved at least some sort of nomination. The performances were great! I'll take Nikki Blonsky's performance as Tracy over Jennifer Hudson's Oscar-winning "Dreamgirls" performance any day.

...And perhaps the worst thing to come out of this morning's nominations, that now someone can say, "The Academy Award nominated film - Norbit

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Adventures in Prop Making

I haven't had much time to blog lately. I'm busily trying to build props for the 2008 Puppet Festival theme program. The theme this year is "Planned with a Purpose."

This year we are trying something new, it's a blacklight technique that Trinity Puppeteers from New Zealand demonstrated at I-Fest in 2006. In this style, props that look a bit like fluorescent line drawings are held up behind a screen. Blacklights positioned in front of the screen illuminate the props. The props seem to come into focus as they are held up to the screen. It's a pretty cool effect. However, the prop construction has been pretty time consuming. I snapped a few pictures today as I was working on one of the props that I thought I'd share.

We start with the art itself. Kayla is our graphic designer at One Way Street, she's really a great artists, so I asked her to do the drawings. She's drawing them by hand and then cleaning them up in the computer. This one is of a Pharisee...Branden said he looked a bit like a Scooby-Doo villain. I transfer the drawings to a transparency and then shoot them up on the wall with an overhead projector. I'm using mat board for these props. Usually I would use something a bit thicker like foamcor or gator board, but since there are several props and limited travel trunk space I wanted to use the thinnest material I could.

For the fluorescent part of the prop I'm using this great blacklight gaffers tape we found. I stick the tape over all the lines of the drawing and then trace the drawing with a pencil onto the tape.

Once all the lines are traced, I use a razor blade to start cutting away the tape that I don't want. Here you can see a lot of the tape cut away. Peeling away the tape is a little bit of a challenge, the mat board can tear a little if you pull to hard. Luckily, in blacklight no one can see those little mistakes.

On some of the first of these props I made, I was really struggling with cutting out some of the smaller details. Then I realized that I could just color in some of those spots with a black marker and nobody would no the difference.

Here's what he looks like when everything is cut out and colored in. This is in regular light, so you can see the spots where I used marker, but check him out in blacklight...

Pretty cool! I'll try and show a few more of the props soon...if I have time.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Will the Real "Dark Knight" Trailer Please Stand Up

A few weeks ago I shared the new trailer for the latest big-screen Batman film, "The Dark Knight." See it here.

Courtesey of someone with a lot of time on their is that same preview...the 1966 version

...and, of course, the 1989 version.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Problem with Denver Ci Ci's

The other day, my son and I had lunch together at a local Ci Ci's Pizza. Our family enjoys going to Ci Ci's, they have a formula that really works. Their all-you-can-eat pizza buffet is a great deal (just $4.95) and my kids actually eat the food, which is always a plus. Is it the greatest pizza in the world, not by a long shot, but it's good. For the record, Chicago Style is the way God intended pizza to be served.

A friend of mine worked at a Ci Ci's for many years, and so one day I found out what the actual cost is of one of their pizzas. Ready for this...40 cents! So they've got themselves a winning formula there. But here's the thing that gets me about Ci Ci' Denver, anyway, they don't take credit cards. Now I believe that in the year 2008 if you don't take credit cards then you are completely out of touch with reality. Now I've encountered a bunch of people who are big on using cash. I once had a guy who fixed my freezer who was so big on trying to get people to use "Green Backs" that he gave a discount when you paid him with cash. That's all well and good, but the world today uses credit cards, deal with it.

Now the credit card thing didn't keep me from visiting Ci Ci's. It wasn't until I went to one in another state last summer that took plastic that I realized this must be a franchise decision rather than a corporate one. Being a business owner myself, I know that it does cost a company to process a customer's credit card...but come on, your pizza's cost 40 cents to make! What makes it worse is that inside each Colorado location is an ATM machine so you can get some cash, where you have to pay not only whatever fee your bank charges you, but also a fee from the owner of the machine...and I'm sure the restaurant gets a cut of that.

So what am I getting at here. Well it all comes down to what serves the customer better. I don't mind paying cash at Ci Ci's, but I won't use the ATM. I have had a few times where I intended to go to Ci Ci's, realized I didn't have enough cash with me, and ended up getting a pizza from Blackjack across the street instead. In other words...Ci Ci's, I want to give you my money and you have something that keeps me from being able to do that. What are you thinking!?

Albino Thumper?

I used to think that 'Star Trek' fans were the most fanatical, but I've decided that the pointy-eared masses have nothing on Disney fans. I started to realize this after I bought my iPod. When I went to load my favorite Disney songs from my CD's, I experienced an example of how far Walt's faithful will go. You know that feature of iTunes where it recognizes your CD's and gives you all the track and artist names? Well, for the Disney CD's I got the name of every obscure Disney voice artist that sang on the songs listed in the artist column...thus giving them another notch in their belt after having been mentioned on a Trivial Pursuit card at some time. Then I encountered the massive number of Disney fan podcasts out there. Some of them are quite good (though it runs a bit long some weeks, I recommend "Inside the Magic"), and others are little more than someone posting an audio recording of their latest ride on Space Mountain.

These Disney fans know their stuff and no detail is too minute for them. Even when the recorded voice that tells you to "watch your step" when getting off the monorail EPCOT is changed...they know it. With all this in mind, I was really surprised the other night when my kids and I were working on a Disney puzzle. It was a picture of all the major Disney animated characters up through the early 70's. The date on the box was 1981, it had been passed down through my wife's family. What surprised me was the way some of the characters looked, they just didn't look quite like themselves.

This albino version of Thumper, for example, had me confused for awhile. Honestly I didn't even know which character this was until I noticed he was standing near Bambi.

The Reluctant Dragon is a bit more obscure Disney character. But he's blue in the film, not green.

Here's the one that I think would make the Disney fanatics throw a tantrum that would rival Donald Duck. Just who is this? Stare at it for awhile, relax your eyes like you would for one of those Magic Eye pictures. It'll come to you.

This...I one of Disney's greatest villains, Cruella de Vil!?! I just find it hard to believe that Disney would let this one slip, even 27 years ago. I guess I get pretty fanatical about Disney stuff too.

So are you a Disney fanatic too? This poor character was the inevitable missing piece of the puzzle. Can you name him?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Are You DB Cooper?

The FBI has just released some information in hopes of solving the 36 year old case of the mysterious DB Cooper.

On November 24, 1971 Dan Cooper boarded a flight from Portland to Seattle. Somewhere along the way he commandeered the flight, claiming he had dynamite. After landing in Seattle he demanded $200,000 and four parachutes, which he got. He then ordered the pilots to fly him to Mexico. Somewhere near the Oregon border he jumped with the dough and two of the parachutes (one of which was a trainer which was sewn shut). No one has heard from DB Cooper since. The FBI thinks it very likely that he didn't survive, though some of the money was found by a young boy in 1980. Many people have claimed to be Cooper since then, but most of them have been proven to be fakes. Just for the record, I am not DB Cooper. Not only was I nowhere near Portland, OR on Nov 24, 1971 but I was also in diapers.

These are the kind of events in history that have always intrigued me. The ones that nobody knows the answer to. It probably seems a bit silly, but a part of me hopes that in Heaven God will have a workshop series we can attend to learn the answers to some of these questions..."The Magic Bullet...Not So Magic," "Stonehenge and the birth of Dominoes," and, of course, "Who was DB Cooper?"

Here's the DB Cooper story from the FBI web site.