Friday, March 16, 2007

Simon Smith And His Amazing Dancing Bears




(NOTE: Marionettes by Dada; Hand puppets by Whitehouse.gov)

A BRIEF REVIEW OF PUPPETS,
MARIONETTES, AND DUMMIES

Puppets come in many forms: Pop-up puppets, paddle puppets, jumping jacks, hand/glove puppets and puppets managed by rods.

The puppets illustrated here are examples of what are commonly known as marionettes. The puppeteer manipulates them by pulling their strings. Their voices also manifest through their puppeteer by putting words in their mouths.

One of the elements in really good puppetry is the relationship that exists between puppeteer and his marionette(s) or, as they are sometimes called by laypersons, the "dummies."

Anyone old enough to recall Rod Hull and his hand puppet emu, know that the puppet was cantankerous and unruly with the end result being some very outrageous and often disastrous behavioral manifestations. While Hull, his bird and their adversarial relationship enjoyed much success, it was an exception rather than the rule to good puppetry.

Really good puppets are those that are ambitious, loyal and very eager to please their puppeteers. They willingly have their strings pulled and their words mouthed by their masters. A good symbiosis between puppet and its master can often result in both going further and enjoying success far in excess of what either would be capable of without the other.

Below are examples of probably the most common form of puppets. By inserting his hand up their backsides, the puppet master is able to control their words and actions by subtly moving the appropriate finger(s).

The glove or hand puppet. Here, puppet master Bush in February 2005 with his hand
puppet Marionette Miers mouthing, "Let's can all 93 US Attorneys." Notice how well
Bush's mouth remains almost totally shut. His lips never move.

In recent months, the hand puppet has become Bush's favorite, leaving his string puppet secretary of state and former Chevron oil tanker, Condoleezza Rice, hanging. (Fret not, Bush is having a Rice hand puppet made.)


Here, with another of his favorites, "Tickle me Beto", Bush demonstrates his admirable ventriloquism skills by having his dummy say, "I take full responsibility for mistakes made, but with over 100,000 justice department employees, it's really not possible to know what's going on; to know who's doing what; to take responsibility for mistakes made. But I do. Oh, and by the way, I won't resign."

Such is the entertainment that keeps us Americans amused. Bush is doing exceedingly well due to the excellent training he's receiving from his puppet masters Karl Rove and "Big Dick" Cheney.

Yet, in all of this, why do I get the sneaky feeling it's our strings that are being pulled, it's us with someone's hand up our backsides?

8 comments:

Border Explorer said...

Dada, you deserve a wider audience!! This is pure genius. Thanks so much.

D.K. Raed said...

OMG, these are about the scariest things I've ever seen! I'm talking nightmare scary. Wow Dada, you are sure tapping into something here. Nightmare on Pennsylvannia Ave stuff. Night of the Living Dead, etc. I like it! ~~ D.K.

D.K. Raed said...

I just realized how weird that sounded if you didn't know I have a bit of a puppet phobia! Not the puppets so much as the puppeteers. Chalk it up to too much Twilight Zone at a young impressionable age. I'm thinking people like BushCheneyRove saw those same TZone's & instead of being scared, got inspired. Yikes ~~ D.K.

dada said...

b.e.: Thanks for the kind words. It was great to see you Saturday at the barricades. Would liked to have talked more.

azgoddess said...

amazing pictures and delightful commentary -- goes right along with your new site look!!

dada said...

deke: Sorry, I didn't mean to evoke nightmares and flashbacks to the 70's (60's?, 50's!!!? ~grin)

My puppet master heroes were the likes of Jim Henson, Shari Lewis, Paul Winchell and, of course, that irascible emu by Rod Hull.

I really feel badly the horrible images presented in this particular blog entry have triggered trauma.

(Fortunately, I missed all those "Night....." movies.

dada said...

az: I agree. Those two pics look just like he has his hand up their backsides, mouthing the words for these two Bush hero-worshipping house servants.

And having just said that after writing the above apology to Deke, I'm feeling a bit republican, speaking as I am from both sides of my mouth.

D.K. Raed said...

Don't feel bad, dada. Part of the fun of phobias is the fear factor. Kind of a rush to get scared, I guess. Why else did I go back for more horror flicks every Saturday. I think I saw all the Vincent Price ones, some of which sent me & my sister screaming from the theatre, unable to bear the entire movie. I watched the original Night of the Living Dead while babysitting an epileptic kid who supposedly "could go off at any time." That was one scary night! Who was Paul Winchell, wasn't he some newscaster? Oh wait, that was Walter Winchell? But even the most sinister ventriloquists (there was one played by Anthony Hopkins that made me sweat, I can't remember the movie title) are mere pikers compared to the ones you conjured. But PLEASE keep carving or painting or however you conjure these images, we need them! You only really invoke the fear factor when you mention "feeling a bit Republican" (capital R). ~~ D.K.