Posts Tagged ‘Puppetry’

The continuing Audrey II saga

I am so angry I am shaking.


You are more than welcome to file a claim, however, it will be denied. Your nine months and one day expired on December 28, 2006. In the eyes of freight carriers and court cases that is ample time for a claimant to gather all the evidence they need to gather and to submit a claim. It was almost 13 months later when you first contacted Carlile that you were missing this crate. Ideally missing freight should be alerted to the carrier immediately when it’s known ample time has passed for delivery so that the carrier may act upon the missing freight immediately. Thirteen months later, employees that were involved may have left the company, the freight might have been disposed of or it’s so far beyond the expectation of anyone to remember one particular shipment. This information regarding time limits for filing a claim is stated on the bill of lading which unfortunately isn’t necessarily read by shippers or consignees. Kim is very diligent in researching missing shipments as are the entire warehouse and terminal staff, but unfortunately if you were to file a claim now it would be 13 months later, well beyond freight carrier standards of reasonable allowance for filing a claim which as stated before is 9 months and 1 day. Thank you.


Let me explain. I was out of the country while my puppets were being rented. I did not know that they had not been returned to the storage facility until I returned in December. While it is unfortunate that I was not aware of the missing crate until then, this incident was brought to your company’s attention as soon as I was. It was within the nine months and one days that you cited.

That it did not go immediately to claims is not my fault, nor should I be penalized for it. I have been extremely patient while Kim has searched for the crate, knowing that the eight months that had passed since it went missing would make things more difficult. Had I, at any point, been informed of a deadline for filing a claim then I would have done so. This is complicated by the fact that the school which rented my puppets was responsible for returning them, so I have never seen your contract. Still, the original contact was made within the nine months and one days you cited.

Since your company was contacted within the time frame you specified, I would like to know how we continue with the claims process.


While I sympathize with your situation understand that I’m bound by contractual regulations. While I understand that you were out of the country and unable to contact us regarding your missing shipment, that does not negate the contractual requirements or put the fault on Carlile for not being notified. When you contacted Kim regarding your lost shipment you were already well beyond the time limits for filing a claim. Yes, claims should have been notified immediately but even in March you were beyond the nine months and 1 day. As stated you are more than welcome to file a claim but as stated the claim will be denied.


Let me be succinct. I would like to file a claim, since Carlile was notified that the puppets were missing within the nine months and one day stipulated. Please tell me how to do this.


Unfortunately phone calls are not considered a notification of a claim or pending claim. Notification of a claim must be in writing, usually in the form of a claim form accompanied by an invoice, that is not just Carlile’s rules those are the rules set forth by all carriers per federal regulations.

What I can do is if you have some sort of proof emails etc that you contacted Carlile prior to December 28, 2006 regarding this lost shipment I can see what I can do for you. However that is NOT a guarantee Carlile will pay the claim. If you don’t have some sort of proof that you attempted to contact us prior to December 28, 2006 then I cannot offer much more on the
situation. Kim has stated that she has tried to help you for at least a month or month and a half. Thank you.


Please send me a copy of the contract and the necessary forms to file a claim. You may send them either to my email or physical address.


Here is the claims form. I will need the invoice for the puppets as well as any proof you contacted a Carlile employee prior to December of 2006. As you are well aware, this will be denied due to the time limits. Thank you.


Thank you for the claims forms. Please send me a copy of the contract as well.

I am now contacting a lawyer.

“Poor little lost puppet”

I called Carlisle shipping, again, about our missing Audrey II puppets. The representative at one point said, “That poor little lost puppet.”

Hm… Audrey II, little? I don’t think so. I realized that she was thinking of someone’s sock puppet or something, so I said, “Actually, there were four puppets in the case and they were very large… They are theatrical puppets, not toys. You know, we haven’t talked about this yet, but $10,000 worth of puppets were in that crate.”

Stunned silence, interrupted only by a slight choking sound, fills the space between us. “I– I had no idea. I didn’t mean to be offensive when I said ‘little lost puppet.'”

“Oh, I know. But it made me realize that there might be a misunderstanding about what exactly was lost.”

So, I’m being passed off to someone else. She said I would have an email shortly but evidently our definition of “shortly” is a different as our definition of puppet.

International Pixel-stained Technopeasant Day

International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant DayBefore I unveil my contribution to International Pixel-stained Technopeasant Day, I’d like to make an important and relevant announcement. I’ve been posting my novel, Shades of Milk and Honey as I’ve been writing it. Among the people reading it, was an agent. I’m pleased to report that as a direct result of posting my fiction online, I have now signed with Jenny Rae Rappaport of the L. Perkins Agency.

And now, some more free fiction. In addition to the novel, I have a short fiction offering for you in two forms. You may read “Beauty Will Come” or you may watch and listen to it. By combining the old puppetry form of toy theater with my nifty new digital webcam, I’ve made a Pixel-Stained Technopeasant short film.

Happy International Pixel-stained Day!

Audrey II is officially gone

I just got off the phone with Carlisle Shipping, the shipping company that lost my Audrey II puppets. They are going to initiate a claims process because they have finally admitted that they can not find the puppets. I though I’d lost hope on this a while ago, but I guess I hadn’t because I am very sad today.

At least they are voluntarily starting the claims process. I wonder what will happen when I talk to the actual claims department and explain that they lost a $10,000 set of puppets.

I guess I’ll be proactive and start assembling my paperwork to prove it.

Handmade Puppet Deams

Handmade Puppet DreamsI’ve been meaning to blog about this for awhile, but now I have a really, really good reason. Go watch the trailer for Handmade Puppet Deams. This is a collection of short puppet films curated by Heather Henson (Jim Henson’s daughter) and the trailer shows some of the most exciting puppetry I’ve seen. There is gorgeous stuff here. It’s a collection I desperately want to see, but am, alas, not in the right place.

Where is the right place? Atlanta, Georgia. This Friday, April 20th at 8:00 pm. I have two free tickets. Oh, the agony.

Do you want to go?

If you are in the Atlanta area and want to go see Handmade Puppet Dreams, drop a line in the comments and let me know why you should be the one to get them between now and 6:00 pm tomorrow (PST). You have to promise me that you’ll give me a full report.

There are also tickets on sale for $7 and $9. One show. 350 seats. Breath-taking puppetry. Regardless, go watch the trailer.

The Rag (show)

The Rag (show) is a weekly puppet video blog with very short (like 45 seconds), funny pieces using “wayang xerox”* to hit some topical subjects. This week? An iceberg discusses global warming.

*I promise that makes sense and is funny to a puppeteer. Wayang kulit is a style of traditional Indonesian rod puppets, they are typically flat and have rods. Xerox, well, that part makes sense, right? So these puppets are loosely based on wayang but instead of being hand-carved out of buffalo hide, they are made from xeroxes. See. Funny, right? Okay, well at least it makes sense now.

Spotted on PuppetVision

Dr Who: Destination Prague

Dr. Who: Destination Prague Look! The Dr. Who anthology that I’m in, Destination Prague, came out today. Oh my goodness. I’m such a geek, because you know, Dr. Who! I think that my early watching of Tom Baker’s Dr. Who really marked the beginning of my geekhood. (Dad? Care to comment?)

It is especially apropos that Destination Prague comes out today because my story, “Strings of Love” has a puppeteer in it. That’s right, you can celebrate World Puppetry Day by picking up a copy of a Dr. Who anthology. It’s all sorts of wacky goodness.

Here’s a teaser.

The Doctor adjusted the celery in his lapel and stepped out of the TARDIS onto Kampa Island, nestled under the Charles Bridge. He inhaled with appreciation. “Ah, Prague.”

The setting sun cast long shadows through the stone pilings of the bridge, which rose from the Vltava River like the battlements of a Gothic castle.

A scream fell from above.

Both hearts pounding, the Doctor spun as a man hurtled over the edge of the bridge. Limbs flailing, the man landed on the island with a bone-cracking thud.

World Puppetry Day

Secret of Singbonga If you can, today, seek out a puppet show whether that’s a live show or something on video or film. Puppets are one of the oldest forms of theater and have had so many different incarnations, it can’t be hard to find one. You just have to look for them.

Don’t know where to start? Here are some happy links.

PuppetVision collects video of puppetry online.
The Puppetry Home Page has links to half the web of puppetry.
Puppeteers of America is the national puppetry organization with guilds all over the place.
PuppetBuzz has daily updates on international puppetry news.
Other Hand Productions is my puppet company.

Meanwhile, here’s a message from UNIMA, the international puppetry group, which also happens the oldest international arts organization.

21st MARCH, 2007

sennosukeInternational Message
The nostalgic and the new

Sennosuke Takeda
Born in Iida city in 1930. Worked extensively in marionette theatre on television, in films and on the stage. Ex-member of executive committee of UNIMA , Honorary President of UNIMA JAPAN, Director of the Takeda Memorial International Marionette Museum.

I like to think that Iida City, which has passed on long traditions to subsequent generations and brought them into the modern age, has already become renowned throughout the world. New performing arts, particularly from Europe and America, engulfed Japan, and the unique culture that this island nation had nurtured over the years became like a little boat drifting through a vast storm, and eventually disappearing. Around that time, a large household with exceptional puppeteering skills flourished and developed on Awaji Island, and travelled around the country giving performances. Local landowners gave the puppeteers somewhere to live, and they in turn taught the local people about their craft, leading to the founding of a puppet theatre which still survives today.

In recent years, many of the towns and villages around Iida have been incorporated into that castle city. Theatres for the Kuroda and Imada puppet companies, where they can put on performances whatever the weather, were completed using Japanese architectural techniques, with the help of the city. In the style of the Edo Era, the new Kuroda theatre has a covered stage for the puppet performances, and maintains the tradition of the audience watching from an outdoor amphitheatre. The outstanding feature of the Kuroda puppets is their hair, which is apparently re-tied before every single performance. Personally I think that the hair of the Kuroda puppets is the most beautiful amongst all the varieties of three-puppeteer puppet heads, including bunraku and awaji, and I am filled with admiration every time I see it. I sincerely hope that, whatever else may happen, this hair is protected for ever.

Fifteen years ago I was invited to Iida City, which built the Sennosuke Takeda International Marionette and Puppet Museum in Zakoji, surrounded by the Southern and Central Alps, in a place of natural beauty now rare in Japan.

About forty years ago, a child who I suppose must have been an elementary school student was giving me a concerned look as I watched a performance at the Comédie-Française in Paris. Though I was laughing just at the gestures of the performers, the child wanted me to enjoy the dialogue too, and I was deeply touched at this child’s act of kindness. Rather than waiting until they are adults, it is at an early age that we should expose our children to beauty and culture. I continue with my work at the museum in the hope that one day there will be little boys and girls like this in all the puppet theatre cities of the world.

Go on now, go celebrate World Puppetry Day. You can start by telling me about your favorite puppet experience.

Puppet Buzz » Puppeteer Recognition

Frankly, I doubt any good will come of this, but it’s an interesting petition. Puppet Buzz is advocating for Puppeteer Recognition at the Oscars.

Whilst watching Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back and listening to the commentary; George Lucas stated he tried to get Frank Oz recognized for his role as Yoda as Best Supporting Actor in the Academy Awards that year but was denied. My question is if puppeteers are not classified as actors, then why are they required to join the actors unions to perform? I have started a petition to submit to the Academy. I know that it maybe a long shot, but there’s no harm in trying.

The same thing happened to Andy Sirkus for his role as Golem; motion-capture is widely regarded as a form of puppetry. Mostly, it makes me cranky that to work in film, we have to pay dues to the Screen Actors Guild but then aren’t considered actors.

Edited to add: When I went to this it was not asking for donations; it is now, and so I’ve taken the direct link to the petition down.

Monkeys finished, heading for home

We met with the cast today and heard their first table read of Serendib. It was very exciting to hear it, and confirmed that I really like this play. After the read, Emily put them through a quick puppetry experience, which she’ll go more in depth with later. It’s a relief to see that they were all excited about the puppets and really jumped in to play with them. Sometimes you run across–frequently, you run across actors who are not confident enough in themselves to be able to translate that into an external form. Puppetry is a form of acting, but the tool, the body, your character has to inhabit is not the tool we’re used to using. A lot of people can’t separate their acting from what is happening with their body, so they can’t transfer their skills to the external body of a puppet. It’s nice, and a huuuuuge relief to see that it’s not a problem with this cast.

I’m sad that I won’t be here for the rehearsal process, but, as they say, my work here is done. From here on out, it’s all hair and makeup for the puppets. I’m off to Hawaii with my husband to visit his folks. That’s not a bad way to end a build.

“It depends on how much monkey you have left.”

Are we done yet?

Lots of good work today. I made baskets for the puppets and only have one more to do. I took a break to do some sewing, but otherwise, most of today was basketry. Emily had a whole bunch of volunteers in to sew the mini monkeys.

Brain Basketry

Thank heavens. I solved the moving mouth issue on the monkey puppets without needing to run the control to the rod. I took photos, but left the cable to upload them, so you’ll have to continue waiting for illustrations.

After installing the mechs in all three of the boys, I screwed their tails on and then it was time to consider their heads. Emily had selected these neat wicker balls for their heads, but once I installed the mechs, there really wasn’t a way to use the wicker balls without cutting them, which would make them fall apart.

So, I called upon a skill set that I acquired when I was maybe nine or ten. See, one summer my mom and a couple of other moms had some sort of arrangement where we’d go to a different house and have a lesson. So, a group of other girls my age would come to our house and Mom taught us to sew. Another mother taught us to bake a cake. And one mother taught us basket-weaving. At least, I think the basketry classes were part of that collection of lessons.

Today it came in handy. I wove a little basket which fits neatly around the controls. It took three tries to come up with a look that worked, but we’re happy with the final one. Now I just have to weave four more. I think they’ll each take about an hour. Expect me to complain about my hands hurting tomorrow. I’m not using wicker, I’m using wire with grapevine skin wrapped around it. It looks like wicker, but is capable of piercing the flesh in one’s hand more efficiently.

Oh. And I finally had my birthday massage today. Ah. Bliss.


So, much as I love my job, there are days when things go wrong. Today is one of those days. Now, I say this, knowing that in fact, the first part of the day went very well. I installed the heads and controls on four puppets and then, as a minor miracle, figured out how to get the males’ mouths to open without needing to attach the control to their rods.

This made me very happy. See, the only part of the right hand that’s not being used to control the head and torso are the tips of the index and middle fingers. I mean the tips as in from the first knuckle forward. So the fact that I came up with a way to trigger the mouth, without losing control of the rest of the puppet is a minor miracle.

The problem is that it doesn’t open far enough by about a quarter of an inch. To fix this–and please don’t offer alternatives because I promise you that I’ve tried them all–I need to pull out everything that I did today and reinstall it, because one wire, ONE, is impeding the movement.

I am annoyed.

Besides that, today was lovely. I went to dinner with Dean, Rob’s college roommate, who is delightful and one of the reasons that we are both looking forward to moving here. His band, Kill Henry Sugar (which I love) has a gig on the 21st at 9:00 pm at the Lakeside Lounge. Join me?