New Year’s Eve

If you’re snowed in at home this New Year’s Eve, here’s a little tip… Tune it to Radio Dismuke, where they’ll be playing classic 78 rpm recordings from the 1920s and 30s. Things get started at 10:00 PM.

And I don’t know that it’ll be on the play list for tonight’s big broadcast, but, here, to put you in the mood, is a little gem from 1930 by the Green Brothers’ Marimba Orchestra.

Regardless of what you’re listening to this New Year’s Eve, I hope you are among friends, or at least happy and warm… Here’s hoping that 2010 is a good year for all of us… Cheers.

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The Dreamland Theater’s 24-hour puppet show begins Thursday at noon

As no one died last year, it looks as though the folks at Ypsilanti’s Dreamland Theater will again be attempting a 24-hour puppet show in honor of the coming new year. (Footage from last year’s event can be found here.) Fortunately for you, I was able to track down the elusive puppeteer Patrick Elkins and interrupt his intense training regimen to ask the following questions.

MARK: So, is there anything you can tell us about the upcoming show?

n195386501861_7881PATRICK: Yes, there is. I can tell you, with some degree of certainty, that this year’s performance will be a sequel to last year’s puppet show. If you recall, at noon on January 1 of 2009, Slipley Wondersocks used the magic comb to bend the space-time continuum and travel back in time to noon on December 31, 2008. This year’s show takes place one year later, when Slipley is finally diagnosed with narcolepsy (and as a result thereof, cataplexy), a common side effect of magic comb usage. As Slipley finds herself falling asleep at incredibly inappropriate times (at the apex of her singer-songwriter career, while skydiving / shoplifting / swimming / getting mugged, etc.), each of her dreams will be a different puppet show from the year 2009. For example, some of the highlights from the first twelve hours of this year’s event include “The Very Wishy-Washy Caterpillar Meets the Most Incredibly Irresponsible Piece of Cake in the World” at 1:00 p.m.; “The Continuing & Ongoing Adventures of Susie, the Time-Traveling Slug” on or near 2:00 p.m.; “The Frog Prince”, a mad-lib-style puppet show based on the classic fairy tale, at 4:00 p.m.; a dream sequence performed by Tom Carey at 4:30 p.m.; “Trash Mountain”, an edible puppet show created for the Edible Art Show in Detroit, at 5:00 p.m.; “Patrick’s Weird Beard Goes Wandering” at 6:00 p.m.; “The Last Supper of 2009” at 7:00 p.m.; “The History of Ypsilanti” puppet show at 8:00 p.m.; a cat party at 10:00 p.m.; and “Cicadas on Drugs” by Craig Johnson at 10:30 p.m.

I can also tell you that the show costs $2 for admission (which works out to less than 9 cents / hour of entertainment) and audience members may come and go as they please (anyone who stays for the entire 24 hours will have their $2 refunded in full). There will be toast at midnight.

MARK: How about Puppet Mark – will he be there?


MARK: And what will Puppet Mark be doing?

PATRICK: Puppet Mark will be reviving his role in the “History of Ypsilanti” show as well as making some other appearances, the details of which I’m not at liberty to disclose at this time.

MARK: Will the part of the comb be played by the same comb?

PATRICK: After last year’s show, the magic comb went missing. At some point, around six months ago, I found it – but now it seems to have gone missing again, so unless we can locate it in the next 23 1/2 hours, the part of the magic comb will be played by an understudy.

MARK: How many people does it take to pull off a 24 hour puppet show anyway?

PATRICK: Naia & myself will be at the show for the entire 24 hours. Andrew Bruce Mitchell III will be helping with many of the scenes during the day and The Man of 1,000 Names will be assisting with the show later in the evening. We have 10 additional volunteers who will be helping out during various times.

MARK: Will there be nudity?

PATRICK: There will be karaoke, which is, more or less, the same thing.

MARK: Will there be explosions?


MARK: What happens at midnight? Wasn’t there a demon party last year when the clock struck 12?

PATRICK: There was, indeed, a demon party last year. I can tell you that there will be a cat party before midnight, but I’m not at liberty to divulge what will happen at midnight.

MARK: How do you go about training for something like this?

PATRICK: The short answer is lots of weird drugs, champagne and cheese. To get warmed up for this year’s show, I did a couple performances this past weekend. On Saturday night, my friend Trevor and I hosted a “cellular critical mass” at the Gallery Project where everyone who attended made amoeba costumes and paraded around downtown Ann Arbor. On Sunday afternoon, the Dreamland Puppet Troupe performed the “History of Ypsilanti” show, then, later that night, Naia & I did two performances of a new edible puppet show entitled “Trash Mountain” at the Edible Art Show in Detroit. Since then, we’ve been working on stuff for the 24-hour show.

MARK: Do you sleep at all during the course of the performance?

PATRICK: Last year, Naia slept for a while in the evening & early morning and I fell asleep from 3 – 6:00 a.m. When I woke up, I was lying face-down on the stage behind the curtain.

MARK: What happens at 4:30 in the morning, when there’s no one in the audience? How do we know that you’re really puppetry going on?

PATRICK: With any luck, we’ll find someone willing to attend for all 24 hours. Otherwise, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

MARK: I just remembered that DejaVu is open until 4:00 AM on New Year’s Eve, so I’m sure the Dreamland, which is right across the street, will be hopping at 4:30.

PATRICK: Possibly.

MARK: Will there be puppet pole dancing?

PATRICK: Probably.

MARK: How about puppet poll taxing?

PATRICK: Definitely.

I’d like to go on and say more, but I’ve just built a roaring fire, and I’m anxious to sit down in front of it with a bowl of popcorn and listen to Edgar Bergan and Charlie McCarthy reruns. I hope you’ll understand.

Posted in Art and Culture, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Hopefully the handwriting is all that she inherited from me


On Christmas day, this was the note, written by Clementine, that all of my relatives saw as they approached our front door. Clementine, wearing her sparkling purple cape, felt that everyone should be officially greeted. While it somewhat concerns me that her handwriting is almost identical to my own, at least she doesn’t seem to have inherited my overwhelming fear of people.

Posted in Mark's Life | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Terrorist plot foiled over Detroit on Christmas day

I woke up this morning to find my family watching FOX News. Apparently, a Nigerian man had attempted to ignite an incendiary device strapped to his leg on a Detroit-bound flight yesterday, while we were celebrating Christmas. Fortunately, it seems that this fellow, who was intent on killing hundreds of people, proved to be about as competent as Richard Reid, the so-called “shoe bomber.” (He only succeeded in lighting his leg and penis on fire.) One hopes that security professionals don’t overreact this time, as they did in the wake of Reid’s attempted shoe bombing, and require that we now, in addition to having to remove our shoes, have to also bare our legs, as we pass through airport security. Here’s a clip from the Washington Post:

A Nigerian man, claiming to be linked to al-Qaeda, allegedly tried to set off an incendiary device aboard a transatlantic airplane Friday as it descended toward Detroit’s airport in what the White House called an attempted act of terrorism.

The man was quickly subdued after another passenger leapt on top of him, others on the plane said, and Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam landed safely around 1 p.m. Friday. The suspect was being treated at a hospital for burns he suffered while igniting the device, the Transportation Security Administration said…

The suspect is Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, a federal official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing. ABC News and NBC News reported that Abdulmutallab, 23, attends University College London, where he studies engineering….

Abdulmutallab has told federal investigators that he had ties to al-Qaeda and traveled to Yemen to collect the incendiary device and instructions on how to use it, according to a federal counterterrorism official briefed on the case. Authorities have yet to verify the claim, and they expect to conduct several more interviews before they determine whether he is credible, the official said…

Officials described the device as incendiary rather than explosive, pending tests by forensics experts at the FBI. Incendiary devices generally deliver less of an impact than explosive devices. The remains of the device used are being sent to an FBI explosives lab in Quantico for analysis, federal law enforcement and airline security sources told CNN…

Federal authorities have been told that Abdulmutallab allegedly had taped some material to his leg, then used a syringe to mix chemicals with the powder while on the airplane, one official said.

But doing so “caused him to catch on fire,” Richelle Keepman, who sat a few rows in front of Abdulmutallab, told WDIV-TV…

There’s a bunch that I could write about… like the fact that a great many of the passengers on the plane, given that it was a Christmas flight between two cities with very large Islamic populations, was probably full of Musilms… or, how cool it is that someone on the flight acted quickly upon smelling smoke, and wrestled the would-be suicide bomber to the ground… or, how this, I think, doesn’t speak well to al Qaeda’s organizational capabilities… or, whether there might be some tie to that radical London cleric I remember reading so much about… but, I’ve got to help get ready for my grandmother and cousins to come over and play card games. So, you’ll have noodle this one around for yourselves.

update: University of Michigan professor Juan Cole calls the plot hare-brained.

update: According to Andrew Sullivan, the would-be bomber is the son of the recently retired Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Umaru Abdul Mutallab.

Posted in Other, Religious Extremism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 43 Comments

Just so I’m not sobbing alone, let’s all watch the end of It’s a Wonderful Life together, OK?

Posted in Art and Culture | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments


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