Archive for June, 2011

Labyrinth – 25 Years

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

I don’t rattle on here much about past work I’ve done – not too much anyway – but since it’s the 25th anniversary of the film Labyrinth I thought I’d relent with a wee post about my work on it. I’m also including parts of the behind the scenes documentary called: Inside The Labyrinth so you can see the bits I was involved with.

I was working on Fraggle Rock for Jim Henson, playing Junior Gorg and various other minor puppet characters, and on this one day I was portraying a large Blob that was eating Doozers. It was a hellish costume that required me to roll around inside this small, airless foam sphere. During a break in the shoot I was sitting on the floor – half in and half out of the costume – when Jim asked me: “How tall are you?” I responded: “Right now? About three feet. Why?” That got a laugh from Jim and then he mumbled something about working on a film in London. I did my best not to shit myself – I still had scenes to do inside that horrible costume – and let him know as calm as I could that I would indeed be interested in working for him.

At around the 6:20 mark is the section where they show the Red Riding Goblin with me working out and goofing around in the costume. The concept for the costumes was great but they were very painful to be in for extended periods of time.

I was 28 years old, a skinny, arrogant, ignorant mime with a bit of talent for puppetry and I was in the UK working for Henson. Yowzah! I spent over six months in England – living in Hampstead and working in Elstree. The people I worked with were amazing and fast friendships were built there. I was terribly homesick the entire time and when I was offered further work by Frank Oz on Little Shop Of Horrors I declined and returned to Toronto.

The resulting chronic back pain I could do without. The damage to my right hip when the Ludo harness failed while being lifted up into the tower still gives me trouble. The lung infection I developed while there got worse after my return and forced me to miss the final few episodes of Fraggle. But holy fucking hell – it was frickin’ Labyrinth, baby!

Around the 3:30 mark you can see me and Ron Muek working out the kinks in the Ludo costume.

What I learned on Labyrinth as a performer and as a filmmaker was immeasurably useful for the rest of my career. The opportunity to play with the elite of performers and animatronic designers and builders is one I cherish.

Thanks Jim.

Every Ray Harryhausen Stop-Motion Monster EVAR

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Found this on BoingBoing – it is chock full of awesomesauce. I grew up on the films of Ray Harryhausen and worked with my friend Bryan in his mother’s garage (and in the back room of our art teacher, Paul Jones) to make our own dubious works of art. Like so many before and after me, a large part of my aesthetic has been informed, coloured and directed by Harryhausen’s films.

Can you name them all? I can. Along with the cast, the crews and an endless litany of minutia. I’ve watched them at 3 in the morning on a small screen black and white TV with shabby reception from Barrie – I’ve luxuriated in theatres as their light has basked me with its Dynamation goodness – and I own several copies of each on various media (including some on flip books for cryin’ out loud) – and I never tire of tasting with all my senses the works of Mr. Harryhausen.

My Missus, through her work with Cuppa Coffee Animation, had the opportunity to sculpt a stop-motion figure of Harryhausen himself which was presented to him when he came to Toronto to promote his book and gave a talk. I had the chance to meet him then – but stayed at the back of the room – nervous and fearful for I do not know what – but happy to just be where I was, always was, in the dim shadows observing the show before me.

Thank you, Ray.


P. S. You can find our Ruffus The Dog homage to Ray Harryhausen in the Sinbad episodes here and here. Enjoy!

RIP – Peter Falk

Friday, June 24th, 2011

Beyond Columbo – before Cassavetes – and long thereafter – the performance life and career of Peter Falk has left its mark on North American culture in the varied characters he has given everlasting life to.

Thank you, Mr. Falk.

Everything Is A Remix – Part Three

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

I posted earlier about Kirby Ferguson’s amazing critique of remix culture – an ongoing documentary entitled Everything Is A Remix – and here’s Part Three. Strap in – watch it all – watch it again – and then share with with everybody.

Everything is a Remix Part 3 from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.

Oh – and after you’ve watched it Reward It!


The Hidden Beauty Of Pollination – Louie Schwartzberg TED Talk

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

I’m not working today – I’m sitting in my backyard and enjoying the flowers and the birds and the bugs. You should do something like that too. If you’re not or can’t – watch this – and then go do it anyway.


Jack Christie Talks To The Board

Monday, June 6th, 2011

Jack Christie – you are fucking awesome.

Cory Doctorow posted on BoingBoing about how Jack Christie (a 12th grade student at Donald A. Wilson Secondary School in Whitby, Ontario) has been suspended indefinitely for posting his animated videos on YouTube. Christie was originally given a one day suspension and ordered by the Principal, Warren Palmer to immediately remove the videos. Jack Christie refused and was then given the indefinite suspension. When Gavin Russell (prime minister of the student council) and others took up a petition to get Christie back in school they were told to stop and threatened with punishment.

Way to go, Mr. Palmer.

That’s a really unique way of teaching the fundamentals of democratic rights and freedoms to the youth of our country. But, of course, that’s not really what you were doing, was it? And, of course, they don’t really need to be taught these things, do they? No.

As amply demonstrated in Jack Christie’s rebuttal to the school board, it is the staff of Donald A. Wilson Secondary School (in particular Mr. Palmer) and the Durham District School Board that need to be taught the basics of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Take it away, Jack:

To be fair – not all school administrators are as thick as Mr. Wilson. However, the pinheads who do exist in positions of authority within our school system need to remember they are running (not ruling) institutions of learning – not prisons. Students are citizens. If a person in such a position of power is incapable of seeing the inappropriateness of their response to a situation and then wield their power further in a blind insistence of their authority – it becomes obvious that such a person is not worthy of maintaining that position.

The principal of Donald A. Wilson Secondary School – and the Durham District School Board – owe Jack Christie a very humble and public apology.

Shame on you, Mr. Palmer.

Jack Christie – you fucking rock.

Never apologize. Never retract. Never back down.


P. S. I especially liked the part with: “Look at the fucking puppety puppet!” – but maybe that’s just me.

P. P. S. You can read further coverage by the Globe & Mail here – where the comments are priceless. And there’s a report over at ParentCentral with a great photo from one of Christie’s videos where he suggests Sen. Joe Leiberman has sexual relations with goats.

Wouldn’t surprize me at all.

The Lazy Song – with Leonard Fuckin’ Nimoy!

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

I’m not a huge pop music fan but, like the rest of the crazy monkeys living in this world, there are times when an infectious tune gets happily lodged amidst the wrinkles of my alleged mind. “The Lazy Song” by Bruno Mars is one of those.

The original video for “The Lazy Song” featured Bruno and his cohorts wearing monkee masks and sunglasses and obviously enjoying themselves with their pants down in front of the camera.

This version is far superior simply because it showcases the deadpan humour of one Mister Leonard Fuckin’ Nimoy.

Well done, sir! Well done.


Give Peace A Chance

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

It’s June 1st, baby!