Sunday, December 1, 2013

FREE Postcard / Picture From Your Favorite Disney Character

On February 28, 2014, I (Peter) received a very standard "Mickey and Pals" postcard -- see front and back images at the end of this blog post.  Ezra, as of today (May 21, 2014), hasn't received anything. This means that the Florida address seems to be the reliable one, but there isn't a variety of postcards to be had; probably only a Princess one and a Mickey one.  If anyone has recently had any luck with the California address, or has somehow received a different postcard from Florida, let me know!

It's come to my attention recently that, by sending a letter addressed to your favorite Disney character, you can receive either a postcard or a photo from that character in the mail!

The address I first discovered was an address at Disney World (Florida), and with a little Internet digging I discovered that you'll probably get a postcard back from this address.  Unfortunately, the only examples I could find online were letters written to any one of the Disney princesses, and all of those letters were responded to with the same Disney Princess postcard.  I have no idea what you'd get if you write to any of the jillions of Disney characters that don't happen to be princesses.

I also discovered an address at Disneyland (California), and apparently you can receive an 8 x 10 black-and-white photo of that character (as a Disneyland costumed character).  I saw that someone wrote to Buzz Lightyear and got a photo of Buzz and Woody.  But I also heard a rumor that they no longer send these photos.  So, again, I don't know what to expect by writing to this address either.

Since there's two Disney fanboys in this house, I decided that we should each write a letter to our favorite Disney character, and I'll send one to each of the addresses.  That way, I figure I'll scientifically deduce what could be expected from either address, and I'll be sure to update you when the results of the experiment come in!

Name of Character
Walt Disney World Communications
PO Box 10040
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-0040

Walt Disney Company
Attn: Fan Mail Department
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521

Ezra's letter to Peter Pan, dictated to me:

 My letter to Captain Hook:

Our separate envelopes.  Ezra's is going to California,
and mine is going to Florida.  These will be sent out December 2, 2013.

UPDATE: After writing to Captain Hook using the Florida address, I received
this postcard (front and back shown here).  The letter to Peter Pan in California
has remained unanswered.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Reader Mail

Things have been a little slow for puppet news, so I thought I'd go through some Reader Mail.

Dear Peter's Puppets,
I wonder what John Krasinski has been up to since The Office wrapped earlier this year.
-- Flo, St. Petersburg, FL

Since lending his voice to this summer's family hit Monsters University, the hip heartthrob, 33, has been seen on a recent episode of Arrested Development.  John says, "it was totes rad to play that particular character!"
John Krasinski

Dear Peter's Puppets,
Is there any royal baby news from Philip IV and Mariana of Austria?
-- Jontesh, Studio City, CA

Good news, Jontesh!  The Spanish monarchs welcomed baby boy Charles II in 1661.  The couple is very happy... and very exhausted!
Charles II of Spain

Dear Peter's Puppets,
Is this a good week to plant begonias?  My wife doesn't think so.
-- Wenceslas, Denver, CO

Your wife is right, Wenceslas.  Begonias should never be planted until after the danger of frost has passed in the spring.  In the meantime, you can place the sprout containers, with a towel under them, on a radiator.
Red Wax Begonias

Well, that's it for now!  Keep those letters coming, and make sure to visit the Peter's Puppets Etsy Shop for the best deals on Peter's Puppets!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Peter's Puppets Hand-Made Puppet (Virtual) Museum

My stash of hand-made (not by me) puppets is getting pretty ridiculous.  This weekend's garage sale haul has already added to it quite a bit.  If I was a well-organized "collector" I'd have these all in glass cases, displayed nicely, etc.  But that's probably not going to happen.  So let's consider this the virtual Hand-Made Puppet Museum, curated by me.  Like my Peanuts Statue post, I'll add to this one as new acquisitions are made.

Vegetable Gnome
 (discussed in an earlier post)
eBay purchase from years ago

Nightmare Army Jacket Man
(discussed in an earlier post)
eBay purchase from years ago

(discussed in an earlier post)
Etsy purchase 2013

Oscar the Grouch
(discussed in an earlier post)
Etsy purchase 2013

Count von Count
(discussed in an earlier post)
Etsy purchase 2013

Freddie the Frog
garage sale purchase 2013

garage sale purchase 2013

Cookie Monster
At first glance, this seems like a mass-manufactured, store-bought puppet.  And, yes, I believe it once was.  But while I was repairing a rip along the side-seam, I noticed that the fabric was going the wrong way (against the "straight of goods"), it was sewn with some kind of fishing line or something, the mouth seemed odd, and there were little felt "claws."  I think that the original puppet fell apart, and someone recycled the eyes and mouth to re-create a Cookie Monster puppet.
garage sale purchase 2013

made by fellow Etsy seller/Puppetsian Agnes Abraham at AgneShop
 Etsy purchase 2012

Kindly Dragon?
papier mache head
eBay purchase from years ago

papier mache head
eBay purchase from years ago

carved wooden head
purchased in Paris 2001

garage sale purchase 2013

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Minnesota Travels: Jeffers Petroglyphs and End-O-Line Railroad Park

We took a family minivan vacation this weekend in Southwest Minnesota.  Neither of us was familiar with the area, or any of our destinations, and there was very little critical information available on the interwebs -- travel plans were made on a "this sounds good" basis.  Since I've got this blogging platform, with a demographic of hip parents with young kids, I thought I'd put in my (positive!) recommendations for this SW-MN weekend tour.

Our chosen destinations -- the Jeffers Petroglyphs and the End-O-Line Railroad Park and Museum -- are both within reasonable driving distance from New Ulm.  Twin Citians will appreciate New Ulm for being "the closest thing to civilization" in this area of Minnesota.  Alternatively, we stayed at Fort Ridgely State Park and had a great time; Lake Shetek State Park is technically much closer though.  And since I assume you got your State Parks Permit when you donated to Minnesota Public Radio, your parking fee will be covered at either place.

For your convenience, here's a map of the area with the various locations I've mentioned highlighted:

View SW-MN weekend vacation in a larger map

As far as eating lunch, it doesn't matter what your tastes are -- there simply aren't that many towns to stop at in the area.  We saw a place called The Loose Moose in Westbrook, but didn't go inside.  Pack a picnic.

So, first off, the Jeffers Petroglyphs are thousands of Native American drawings carved in the quartzite rock on the ground, each anywhere from 7000 to 250 years old.  Apparently any one carving has a temperamental ease of viewing; time of day, level of sunlight, and weather have an effect on what you'll be able to see.  We got there shortly after the Interpretive Center opened at 10 A.M. (by the way, it closes at 5 P.M. -- but signage on the premises suggests that you're trusted to view the site whenever you want) and received nearly the entire spectrum of Minnesota summertime weather while we were there:

11 A.M.

11:30 A.M.


Your guide will happily point out many of the notable carvings, but the ones you remember will be the ones that pop out at you on their own.  I found a "cyclops" man that, according to my son, looks like my tattoo (the tour guide said that the round head with a single, central eye signifies "wisdom"):

There was another cyclops in a busy scene of other figures; the guide suggested that the whole image may be the recording of an inner spiritual drama in which a man "kills his boy spirit so that his man spirit may survive":

OR, according to the sign, it's a celestial chart:

This turtle was so clear that even a four-year-old could (and did!) see it:

But Ez's favorite petroglyph animal was the Thunderbird.  This carving (below) was pretty clear.  You'll see an arrow coming down from its neck and pointing to its heart; the guide said that this was an indicator, that could be put on any animal, to communicate that the artist considered that animal to be his/her spirit guide.

So, before we left, Ez had to get some Thunderbird bling:

Next up: the End-O-Line Railroad Park and Museum in Currie.  I honestly can't remember how I found the website for this place, but I marked it as a "maybe/probably" on our itinerary.  From now on I'd mark it as "we're goin'."  

If End-O-Line was anywhere near the Twin Cities, we'd put it along with the Science Museum and both zoos as a guaranteed fallback plan for weekend activites.  I even like it better than the Duluth train museum; rather than feeling like you're creeping around in somebody's grandpa's basement, you're out in a very well-maintained park, hopping from one "old-fashion" (Ez's new favorite term) building or train car to the next.  

End-O-Line is a staunch preserver of hobo culture

Ez as old-fashion schoolteacher

The whole "museum" forms a circle of buildings (including a schoolhouse, a church, a general store, and a mill) around a picnic area and train-themed playground: so if you've run out of steam well before your kid, you can just sit down and let him entertain himself for a while.  The extremely non-mopey teenagers that staff the place are even willing to give your kids a spin on the replica turntable.

So, there you go -- an exhaustingly full Saturday of family activity in an area of Minnesota that hasn't (yet) had much in the way of online reviews.

By the way, while you're in the area you'll notice Historical Marker signs pointing you to Harkin's General Store, just northwest of New Ulm.  We checked it out.  It's not worth it.  I can't imagine a single scenario in which the $5 per person admission fee won't feel like a total rip-off.  If you're really, really into "living history" general stores, set up to look like they did in the days of Minnesota's early statehood, you've already seen one at End-O-Line.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Marvin the Martian Puppet

He ambles into my 10' x 10' canopy tent at the craft fair and has a quick look around at the puppets.  If this were anywhere in, say, California, he might say, "You might remember me from last year.  I'm the guy that collects Marvin the Martian things.  I know it's a one in a million shot, but if you've happened to have made a Marvin the Martian puppet in the last 365 days, I'd really like to purchase it."  If this were New York, I might have heard, "I really like your puppets.  But I can see you making a really cool Marvin the Martian puppet -- you know, just do a head like these owls, but with a green Roman helmet and angry cartoon eyes.  White hands, red shirt.  Do you think I could commission you to do that?"  But this is Minnesota, where we all know that it could start snowing if we stand around talking for too long.

"Still no Marvin the Martians?" he asks.

"Maybe next year," I reply.

Well, I was so tickled by this conversation that I couldn't make another puppet until I finally made a Marvin the Martian.

I'm planning on giving it to him next year at Johnstock, but I think it would be pretty cool to get it to him before then.  Could he be reading this?  Or anyone who knows him?  It's also entirely possible that he's actually some sort of genius loci of "Ol' Nordeast" itself, who slumbers like Albion in Grain Belt soaked bliss, only to arise once a year to talk to crafty hipsters about Looney Tunes characters.  Well, if you happen to know an older man in the Northeast Minneapolis area who's really, really into Marvin the Martian, let me know.  If I can't get this puppet to him somehow, I shall be very, very angry indeed!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Vintage Puppets: Handmade Sesame Street Characters

I'm a puppetmaker, not a businessman.  That might explain why my "business strategy" (such as it is) for selling on Etsy doesn't make any sense.  I blog about other people's puppets I buy, I discuss characters in TV shows and movies that I have no intention of making into puppets to sell, and -- strangest of all -- I made a Team on Etsy, called Puppetsy, with the sole purpose of showing and promoting everyone else's puppets that are being sold on Etsy.

Am I goofy?  Well, the truth is, I just like vintage/handmade/weird puppets.  More often than not, I like other people's puppets better than my own.  I notice all the little imperfections in my own puppets that I don't  notice in others'.  Ideas for puppets that have struck other people seem way more creative than my own ideas.  This all leads to the magical formula that operates in theoretical PayPal money: I send people a puppet or two when they put money into a PayPal account which is used to order puppets from other people.  (The same thing happens with "Spoondollars" in my Spoonflower account; I refer to this imaginary money as "Chuck E. Cheese tokens.")

This is all a prelude to the story of a puppet-purchase that got me remarkably jazzed recently.

I happened to see the above image while surfing Etsy; the Listing was titled:

Vintage 1980's Sesame Street inspired character puppets (one per price)

Nice!  These puppets were vintage, handmade, and sufficiently off-model enough to be called "weird."  I bought three of them.  As of today, I see that someone else has also bought Ernie.  If you'd like to own Bert, Cookie Monster, Grover, or Big Bird -- each one a handmade brother to the ones I now own -- you'd better click on the above link as soon as you can!

So, here's some photos of the three I bought.

First of all we have Kermit, who must have been made earlier than later in this puppetmaker's Sesame Street project.  He's a wee bit too small -- he'd work really well as Robin.  I like the simplicity of his styrofoam eyes.

A neat feature of each of these puppets is the shoulder-pad sewn into the head.  This might be something I have to try with my own puppets.

Next: Oscar the Grouch!

This super-70's shaggy green fur fabric is totes cool.  These puppets were listed as "1980's," but I suspect a late 70's creation date.  This barf green fur is way too hirsute to be readily available in the clean-cut 80's.  I'm also intrigued by Kermit being considered a Sesame Street character.  Sure, he had the News Flash segments all throughout the 80's, but Kermit sitting on the steps of 123 Sesame Street became a rare occurence after The Muppet Show became popular.

Last but certainly not least, this puppetmaker's piece de resistance: Count von Count.

Even in the jumbled-up pile of puppets in the Etsy Listing photo, I could tell that this Count puppet was going to be something special.  No level of detail was too much for the puppetmaker to attempt: the fangs, the widow's peak and goatee, the monocle...

The bow tie, the satin-y shirt with yellow and red stripes, the cape... my God, the cape!

Awesome.  Be sure to check out the Etsy Listing to see if any more of the characters are available.  Let me know if you are now the proud owner of a handmade Sesame Street puppet or two!