Friday, October 20, 2006

New puppets!

I didn't mean to do it. I didn't mean to buy that ballerina puppet last week. Really. I thought I might look at the baby puppet at the toy store again, and possibly, just possibly buy it. Not the ballerina.

But she leapt onto my hand and that was it. I didn't know what her voice was until I was driving home. We had quite a chat in the car. Her name is Pirouette, and she is French and Senegalese. I've never had a hand and rod puppet before, so I'm learning just how flexible she is, in her little toe shoes and tutu. Like so many of my puppets, she has a giant ego and isn't afraid to flaunt it.

Then on Saturday, my friend Stacey's daughter Molly had a present for me. Molly is 9 and has been a groupie for years (Stacey says "stalker" is more appropriate). The present was the very baby puppet I had considered in the toy store! In the store, she didn't fit me right, but as a present from Molly, she's perfect. Molly bought this puppet with her own money because she likes my puppets, but then she realized that in the end, it was still her own hand (only slight pun intended). It wasn't satisfying.

Puppets are funny. I don't plan what they say or how they say it. I don't know how to describe what happens--they just take on lives of their own. This baby, for example, is a tough cookie. I'm hoping she'll stop sounding quite so much like George Burns. She already looks like him. The other day I was showing her to a friend, and somehow the baby got hold of a pretzel stick (the fat kind) and then she really looked like George Burns chomping a cigar. Weird.

My sister Mary has promised me another new puppet, a black crow made by Folkmanis. I've tried one of these out before and they're lovely. She got him on a trip and mailed him home with some other stuff. I'm looking forward to meeting him and finding out what his character is.

One of the issues I have with puppets is keeping the voices distinct. Mavis the monkey sounds too much like Stephanie, so I try not to have them both in the same program. Confusing. The ballerina is a bit like my dragon puppet Belle, but Pirouette's French accent is a little slower, a little deeper. I don't expect them to attend the same events.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a puppeteer who used his own voice for all his characters. He also didn't understand that the puppet needs to make eye contact with the audience when it's speaking. It was terrible. Who was talking?

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The new DVD and CD

The Bully Billy Goat and Other Stories DVD and The Best (and Worst) of Beasts CD are here! Over the top of my laptop I can see the boxes holding 1000+ CDs, most of which will join the DVDs in the storage area, as soon as I get the stepladder in off the porch.

I've been slow getting the word out about these recordings. Today I'll write a press release for the paper and I'll start to e-mail the libraries and individuals who have bought my earlier recordings, just to let them know. I'll also send them out for review. will have them up on the site probably within the next few days, and CDBaby is on the verge of having the CD ready (I just emailed them to ask if they'll carry the DVD). If you're interested in ordering, you can e-mail me directly or check the above sites.

In preparing to send out info about the new recordings, I finally realized it's time to get more organized about PR. When I have performances coming up for the public, I send out e-mails to people on my mailing list, when I remember. I always feel vaguely guilty about this, worried that people might not want these notices--even though I always say in the e-mail that I'll remove addresses from the list. Also, my ISP thinks I might just be a spammer for sending messages to more than 25 people. With all this in mind, I just started a yahoo group newsletter, PriscillaHoweUpdate. I'll try to be good about sending notices of upcoming events, with maybe a few storytelling tips and other miscellany.