animatronics

Giant Spider Visits Liverpool!

Anyone who knows me knows I love The Beatles. I love them so much, in fact, I’ve visited Liverpool, their  city of origin. I had a great time and would love to go back again.

In 2009 another visitor was in Liverpool who had probably never heard of The Beatles, but its visit was certainly spectacular. It was an enormous robotic spider, and it looks as if it spent at least a full day creeping along the city streets, much to the awe of the Liverpudlians.

I can only imagine the exhaustion of the puppeteers after a long day astride the spider, but surely watching the faces of the thrilled viewers was a fine reward.

Netherworld 2010! PUG!

I have still been working my tail off this Halloween season, and finally I have a chance to show you my new puppet partner at Netherworld. Last year, it was big, bad Mega Mouth; this year I am teamed up with Pug, a vicious, red-eyed, carrot-toothed denizen of the corridors.

Isn’t he amazing, folks? He feels like he’s about the size of a small car. He’s heavy and takes some real turbo-strength to operate him properly, but the effect is well worth it.

I do not give a halfway presentation with this puppet.I push it, suddenly, roaring right out into people’s faces, biting and snapping, red eyes flaring,then pull it quickly back into the darkness to hide for another ambush. It takes incredible strength to do this, and I give it my all, which is why I tear myself to pieces every night that I am operating it. Employees have lamented that I am not there more to operate it, but this is why.I want to work Pug, and I want to do it well, or I don’t want to do it at all. Unfortunately, this means giving me  several days of work followed by several days off to repair myself! 

It also takes some brains to operate Pug, and other big puppets of this ilk, without getting beaten up by the unruly public. Stupid guys, always in an effort to impress the other numbskulls in their group, will often dive on the puppets, or gang up and all push the puppet at once, which can knock the puppeteer off balance, hit them in the face or head with the machinery, and do all sorts of collateral damage to the equipment itself. Yet our employers want us to get aggressive with the public and really SCARE them, freak them the hell out. So you have to learn and understand how to be a good “predator”…:)

I have my “performance” down to a science..

Usually I can tell that the guy in the front of a group, especially if he has big baggy pants, is gonna be trouble. I hate to miss out on pummeling him, but it’s just as much fun keeping him from doing stupid stuff(so he can be cool in front of his friends)by splitting him up from his group.

I let the big dumb jock “alpha male” go first,and get him around the corner and out of the way, THEN attack the rest of his group. If he is separated from his group, he can’t impress them by being a butthead.I also make sure I only chew at people minimally–I give them a good chomp, for sure—and then retreat quickly back into the dark so they don’t really have a chance to do anything to the puppet and me. Then once the rest of the people are hurriedly streaking by, thinking, “oh, it’s not gonna come out again, we’re safe”, I come roaring out one last time and get the straggler, the one who thinks he’ll get away by being at the end of the group!

Anyway, it’s been a really fun season. I know my appearances have been sporadic, but it’s really all my little body can handle.


I have my “performance” down to a science..let the big dumb jock “alpha male” go first,and get him around the corner & out of the way, THEN attack the rest of his group.If he is separated from his group, he can’t impress them by being a dickhole.

Kodak Disc Christmas Commercial, 1983.

This was always one of my favorite Christmas commercials..maybe because it had puppets! Alas, the Kodak Disc camera did not last. Disc film did not prove hugely successful, mainly because the image on the negative was only 11 mm by 8 mm, leading to generally unacceptable grain and poor definition in the final prints. The film was intended to be printed with special 6-element lenses from Kodak, but many labs simply printed discs with standard 3-element lenses used for larger negative formats. The resulting prints often disappointed the consumer.

The film was officially discontinued by the last manufacturer, Kodak, on December 31, 1999, though the cameras had disappeared from the market long before then. I see them at Goodwill on occasion.