atlanta journal and constitution


The House GOP just voted and passed its Tax Reform Bill that would cause tuition waviers to be counted as taxable income. This could raise taxes of grad students so much that it makes graduate study completely unaffordable.

Chris Marsicano started a Twitter thread on how to effectively create impactful voices to be heard by the GOPs in the Senate during reconciliation of the House and Senate Tax Bills:

1. As y'all know, I study higher ed lobbyists and used to work for one. A friend asked how I would lobby against the Graduate School Tuition Waiver Tax if I were still in the game. I thought about it, and here’s how I would tell students to oppose the #GradStudentTax

2. First, I would shorten the name of the Graduate School Tuition Waiver Tax to the “Grad Student Tax.”   AKA: #GradStudentTax Is it reductive? Yes. Does it get the point across? Also, Yes. 

3. The next thing I would do is get #GradStudentTax opponents in the following states to start calling their GOP Senators: 

Utah - Sen. Hatch - (801) 524-4380
Iowa - Sen. Grassley - (515) 288-1145 
Idaho - Sen. Crapo - (208) 334-1776 
Kansas - Sen. Roberts - (913) 451-9343


Wyoming - Sen. Enzi - (307) 772-2477
Texas - Sen. Cornyn - (512) 469-6034
South Dakota - Sen. Thune - (605) 334-9596
North Carolina - Sen. Burr - (800) 685-8916
Georgia - Sen. Isakson - (770) 661-0999
Ohio - Sen. Portman - (614) 469-6774 


Pennsylvania - Sen. Toomey - (717) 782-3951
Nevada - Sen. Heller - (702) 388-6605
South Carolina - Sen. Scott - (803) 771-6112
Lousiana - Sen. Cassidy - (225) 929-7711

6. Why those states? Those are the states that GOP members of the Senate Finance committee represent. When the House and Senate Bills are reconciled, these are the people who will be doing the reconciling. You want the #GradStudentTax gone in the final bill.

7. I would then tell anyone who plans on calling their Senators to express opposition to the #GradStudentTax in the kindest way possible. In short, keep your cool when talking to Senate staffers. You’re a lot more likely to get your message across if you are kind. 

8. After that, I would tell grad students opposed to the #GradStudentTax to write and submit op-eds to the newspaper that covers your local area or an area you can claim as “home.” These newspapers might include: 


UT - Deseret News/The Salt Lake Tribune 
IA - Des Moines Register
ID - Idaho Statesman
KS - Kansas City Star
WY - Wyoming Tribune Eagle
TX - Houston Chronicle
SD - Argus Leader
NC - Raleigh News and Observer/Charlotte Observer


GA - Atlanta Journal Constitution
OH - Columbus Dispatch
PA - Philadelphia Inquirer
NV - Las Vegas Review-Journal
SC - The State LA - New Orleans Times-Picayune

11. I guarantee that someone on each of those Senators’ staffs reads the local newspaper cover to cover every day. You want the #GradStudentTax to be on their minds.

12. I would then caution #GradStudentTax/#GradSchoolTax opponents against hitting the streets - protest style. For some of these Senators protest will only fuel the narrative that grad students are privileged, elite, liberal snowflakes in their ivory tower. 

13.  While that is incredibly unfair, that is how some Senators will see your impassioned speech about the #GradStudentTax. Instead, this is a great time to use the skills you’ve learned in academia. 

14. By now, you have spent so much time as a grad student learning how to write. Use those skills - write emails, letters, op-eds, etc. There is a place for open protest, but the written word is much stronger than any picket sign or chant when it comes to the #GradStudentTax.

15. Most importantly, keep your eye on the prize - finishing your research/dissertation/thesis etc. If this bill will cripple your ability to go to grad school, do all you can to finish before the #GradStudentTax/#GradSchoolTax gets enacted. 

16. We need citizen-academics to change the world with their research. That is a lot harder to do if the #GradStudentTax forces you to quit before you get “PhD” at the end of your name.  Do all you can to finish, and do so ASAP. 

17. Lastly, I would tell #GradStudentTax opponents stay out of the way of the universities and other organizations that are fighting on your behalf. If you are in graduate school, chances are your university has a lobbyist who is fighting tooth and nail for your future. 

18. Don’t get in your lobbyist’s way by being mean to Senators or their staff. Your lobbyists need to draw on good relationships they’ve spent years building in order to do their jobs. Don’t tie one hand behind their backs just because you are (understandably) angry.

19. That’s how I would tell #gradstudents to oppose the #GradStudentTax if I was still a lobbyist. But I’m not, so I defer to actual university lobbyists who do incredible work. If you hear something different from them, listen to them. Trust me, they know what they are doing.
Small plane with Nazi designs lands on road in Gwinnett County, Georgia
Police said the aircraft had 'landed safely' on a local highway.

Small plane with Nazi designs lands on road in Gwinnett County, Georgia - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the plane appeared to be designed to look similar to a Nazi Messerschmitt BF 109 and added that Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records show the plane registered with a man in Buford.

The FAA told IBTimes UK that the plane is a Sonex - a company that makes kits so people can build their own small aircraft. The Sonex website estimates that their planes cost at least $28,000 (£21,000) to build.

The Princess Bride Live Reading feat. Hugh Jackman

Oh, dear friends. It’s not often that I get to treat myself, but tonight I did, and it was so freaking worth it.

Roughly a week and a half ago, the Atlanta Journal Constitution wrote an article announcing that none other than Hugh Jackman would be starring in a live reading of The Princess Bride at the Rialto Center for the Arts in Atlanta, GA. 

If you’re anything like me, the sound of Hugh Jackman and The Princess Bride in the same freaking sentence is like chocolate and peanut butter.

But then add on top that all the proceeds for the live reading go to Puerto Rico and basically there was no fucking way I wasn’t going to grab a ticket.

It was the best decision I’ve made in months.

The live reading was put on by Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air, Thank You for Smoking), his father Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters, Stripes, Evolution), and some odd cast members (I apologize–I didn’t recognize any but two of them, and unfortunately I didn’t see a program listing their names) from a biopic they are shooting starring Hugh Jackman. They’ve been filming in Atlanta for two months now and they thought it would not only be a great chance to raise money for Puerto Rico, but it was a lovely thank you for how much fun they’ve had in our city. 

I had so much fun that I’m pretty sure I’ve been smiling ever since the metaphorical curtains went up.

This was my first ever live reading. Basically, they had the actual screenplay for The Princess Bride film adaptation and the actors read the parts with a background behind them that changed with the scenery. It was a very fun, relaxed atmosphere. 

The kicker is that I didn’t know who else would be on the cast live reading and…

Freaking J.K. Simmons was there.

Originally posted by everythingstarstuff

I just about lost my voice cheering.

I’ve loved the man forever. Since Spider-Man and The Mexican. I’ll watch any damn thing he’s in and he was cast as Prince Humperdink, and couldn’t have been more amazing. 

So basically I got to watch Wolverine vs. J. Jonah Jameson.

Aside from just needing to geek out, the reason I wanted to make a post is simply five priceless moments that I thought I should share with you guys. Keep in mind, this’ll have more relevance if you’ve seen The Princess Bride.

Moment #1:

During the opening where the narration is describing Westley and Buttercup’s relationship, Hugh Jackman says “As you wish” for the first time and I swear to God, the entire female half of the audience simultaneously swooned. It was so noticeable that Hugh chuckled and asked us if we were all okay and then we laughed before they moved on.

Moment #2:

During the confrontation between Vizzini and Westley, there’s that line of, “Because everyone knows iocane powder comes from Australia” and the actor pauses and stares pointedly at Hugh Jackman and he and the whole audience burst out laughing. It is then proceeded by the line, “And as we all know, Australia is entirely peopled with criminals.” We laugh even harder at that one. It was just a happy coincidence.

Moment #3:

During the scene where Westley is on the Machine, Hugh Jackman was acting out the pain and during his flailing, he pretends to whip out his Wolverine claws and mimics slashing things up and so of course we were all cracking up.

Moment #4:

During the scene after Inigo and Fezzik have revived Westley with the Miracle pill, there’s a line from Westley, “Well, I’ve always been a quick healer.” Cue the entire audience and the cast cracking up that yet again we have a happy coincidence line relevant to Hugh Jackman.

Moment #5:

During the scene where Westley and Buttercup are reunited, in the film, Westley’s on the bed and Buttercup gives him little kisses in excitement. Hugh and the actress playing Buttercup are sitting next to each other, naturally, and the actress picks up Hugh’s arm and starts kissing up his arm in a Gomez-Morticia fashion. Again, absolutely hysterical. We’re all laid out in the aisles. It was too cute. 

Everyone did a phenomenal job. I had so much fun. It was just a breath of fresh air in my dumpster fire life that keeps getting worse with every day. I just really want to thank the cast for their performances and thank them even more for donating the money to help Puerto Rico recover. 

I hope this post brought a smile to your face. 

It sure brought one to mine.

Col. Bruce Hampton Dead at 70

Col. Bruce Hampton - the celebrated Granddaddy of the Jam Scene - collapsed on stage Monday at the end of his all-star, 70th-birthday concert celebration at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre.

Hampton, who turned 70 on April 30, died early Tuesday morning at a hospital, his family said.

“After collapsing on stage surrounded by his friends, family, fans and the people he loved, Col. Bruce Hampton has passed away,” said an online statement. “The family is asking for respect and privacy at this difficult time.”

Hampton was stricken near the end of a four-hour concert that brought more than 30 musicians - including former Allman Brothers Warren Haynes, Chuck Leavell and Derek Trucks; Widespread Panic’s Duane Trucks, John Bell, Dave Schools and Jimmy Herring, who played in Hampton’s Aquarium Rescue Unit along with Jeff Sipe, Karl Denson and Drew Emmitt, who were also on hand; Susan Tedeschi; Todd Snider; and Vince Herman of Leftover Salmon, among others - to Atlanta to celebrate his birthday and career.

Hampton appeared to pass out as the musicians performed “Turn on Your Lovelight.” According to reports, the concert came to an abrupt end and concertgoers were unclear if Hampton was actually ill.

“The low lighting, crowded stage and configuration of the musicians probably kept people from realizing immediately what had happened,” the Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported.

Allman Brothers biographer Alan Paul described himself as “stunned and deeply saddened” by the news of Hampton’s death, while taking “some comfort that he died theatrically … Just as he would have written it.

“But what a sad day for so many of us.”

Hampton’s career spanned more than 45 years, beginning with the 1971 release of the Hampton Grease Band’s Music to Eat. He founded ARU and the Code Talkers, helped launch the H.O.R.D.E. music festival and recorded with Frank Zappa, Medeski, Martin & Wood, Widespread Panic and others.

In a 2017 story in the Atlanta Journal -Constitution, Drivin’ N’ Cryin’’s Kevn Kinney called Hampton a legendary presence in the music world.

“People don’t understand how far back he goes,” Kinney said. “He’s just the ultimate showman. He’s our P.T. Barnam. You never know when he’s going to pop out of the jack-in-the-box.”


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[ ☠ ] — “Kanye Omari West  is an American rapper, songwriter, record producer, fashion designer, and entrepreneur. Born in Atlanta and raised in Chicago, West briefly attended art school before becoming known as a producer for Roc-A-Fella Records in the early 2000s, producing hit singles for artists such as Jay Z and Alicia Keys. Intent on pursuing a solo career as a rapper, West released his debut album The College Dropout in 2004 to widespread critical and commercial success, and founded the record label GOOD Music. He went on to pursue a variety of different styles on subsequent albums Late Registration (2005), Graduation (2007), and 808s & Heartbreak (2008). In 2010, he released his fifth album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy to rave reviews from critics, and the following year he collaborated with Jay Z on the joint LP Watch the Throne (2011). West released his abrasive sixth album, Yeezus, to further critical praise in 2013. His seventh album, The Life of Pablo, was released in 2016.

West’s outspoken views and life outside of music have received significant mainstream attention. He has been a frequent source of controversy for his conduct at award shows, on social media, and in other public settings. His more scrutinized comments include his off-script denunciation of President George W. Bush during a live 2005 television broadcast for Hurricane Katrina relief and his interruption of singer Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. West’s efforts as a fashion designer include collaborations with Nike, Louis Vuitton, and A.P.C. on both clothing and footwear, and have most prominently resulted in the YEEZY collaboration with Adidas beginning in 2013. He is the founder and head of the creative content company DONDA. His 2014 marriage to television personality Kim Kardashian has also been subject to widespread media coverage.

West is among the most acclaimed musicians of the 21st century,and is one of the best-selling artists of all time, having sold more than 32 million albums and 100 million digital downloads worldwideHe has won a total of 21 Grammy Awards, making him one of the most awarded artists of all time and the most Grammy-awarded artist to have debuted in the 21st century. Three of his albums have been included and ranked on Rolling Stone’s 2012 update of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list. He has also been included in a number of Forbes annual lists. Time named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2005 and 2015.

West was born on June 8, 1977 in Atlanta, Georgia. His parents divorced when he was three years old. After the divorce, he and his mother moved to Chicago, Illinois. His father, Ray West, is a former Black Panther and was one of the first black photojournalists at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Ray West was later a Christian counselor, and in 2006, opened the Good Water Store and Café in Lexington Park, Maryland with startup capital from his son. West’s mother, Dr. Donda C. (Williams) West, was a professor of English at Clark Atlanta University, and the Chair of the English Department at Chicago State University before retiring to serve as his manager. West was raised in a middle-class background, attending Polaris High School in suburban Oak Lawn, Illinois after living in Chicago.

At the age of 10, West moved with his mother to Nanjing, China, where she was teaching at Nanjing University as part of an exchange program. According to his mother, West was the only foreigner in his class, but settled in well and quickly picked up the language, although he has since forgotten most of it. When asked about his grades in high school, West replied, “I got A’s and B’s. And I’m not even frontin’.”

West demonstrated an affinity for the arts at an early age; he began writing poetry when he was five years old. His mother recalled that she first took notice of West’s passion for drawing and music when he was in the third grade.[21] Growing up in Chicago, West became deeply involved in its hip hop scene. He started rapping in the third grade and began making musical compositions in the seventh grade, eventually selling them to other artists. At age thirteen, West wrote a rap song called “Green Eggs and Ham” and began to persuade his mother to pay $25 an hour for time in a recording studio. It was a small, crude basement studio where a microphone hung from the ceiling by a wire clothes hanger. Although this wasn’t what West’s mother wanted, she nonetheless supported him. West crossed paths with producer/DJ No I.D., with whom he quickly formed a close friendship. No I.D. soon became West’s mentor, and it was from him that West learned how to sample and program beats after he received his first sampler at age 15.”

After graduating from high school, West received a scholarship to attend Chicago’s American Academy of Art in 1997 and began taking painting classes, but shortly after transferred to Chicago State University to study English. He soon realized that his busy class schedule was detrimental to his musical work, and at 20 he dropped out of college to pursue his musical dreams. This action greatly displeased his mother, who was also a professor at the university. She later commented, “It was drummed into my head that college is the ticket to a good life… but some career goals don’t require college. For Kanye to make an album called College Dropout it was more about having the guts to embrace who you are, rather than following the path society has carved out for you.”

West’s musical career has been defined by frequent stylistic shifts and different musical approaches. Asked about his early musical inspirations, he named artists such as A Tribe Called Quest, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, George Michael, LL Cool J, Phil Collins and Madonna.Other music figures West has invoked as inspirations include Puff Daddy, David Bowie,Miles Davis and Gil-Scott Heron.West was formatively mentored by Chicago producer No I.D., who introduced him to hip hop production in the early 1990s, allowing a teenage West to sit in on recording sessions.Early in his career, West pioneered a style of production dubbed “chipmunk soul” which utilized pitched-up vocal samples, usually from soul and R&B songs, along with his own drums and instrumentation.His first major release featuring his trademark soulful vocal sampling style was “This Can’t Be Life”, a track from Jay-Z’s The Dynasty: Roc La Familia. West has noted Wu-Tang Clan producer RZA as an influence on his style.

West further developed his style on his 2004 debut album, The College Dropout. After a rough version was leaked, West meticulously refined the production, adding string arrangements, gospel choirs, and improved drum programming. The album saw West diverge from the then-dominant gangster persona in hip hop in favor of more diverse, topical lyrical subjectsincluding higher education, materialism, self-consciousness, minimum-wage labor, institutional prejudice, family, sexuality, and his personal struggles in the music industry.For his second album, Late Registration (2005), he collaborated with film score composer Jon Brion and drew influence from non-rap influences such as English trip hop group Portishead. Blending West’s primary soulful hip hop production with Brion’s elaborate chamber pop orchestration, the album experimentally incorporated a wide array of different genres and prominent orchestral elements, including string arrangements, piano chords, brass flecks, and horn riffs,amid a myriad of foreign and vintage instrumentsCritic Robert Christgau wrote that “there’s never been hip-hop so complex and subtle musically.” With his third album, Graduation (2007), West moved away from the soulful sound of his previous releases and towards a more atmospheric, rock-tinged, electronic-influenced style,drawing on European Britpop and Euro-disco, American alternative and indie-rock, and his native Chicago house.West retracted much of the live instrumentation that characterized his previous album and replaced it with distorted, gothic synthesizers, rave stabs, house beats, electro-disco rhythms, and a wide array of modulated electronic noises and digital audio-effects. In addition, West drew musical inspiration from arena rock bands such as The Rolling Stones, U2, and Led Zeppelin. In comparison to previous albums, Graduation is more introspective, exploring West’s own fame and personal issues.”


“That answer ya question?”


On May 1, 2008, Harold Wendal came home to find that his wife of twenty years, Eva Kay, had been beaten and had her throat slit and was laying in a pool of blood. Her murderer had been waiting in their home and attacked her as soon as she stepped through the front door. Nothing in the house had been stolen so it wasn’t a burglary gone wrong. The case went cold until July of the same year when a cut and paste letter arrived at the Atlanta Journal Constitution which indicated that Eva Kay had been having an affair. The police determined that the letter was genuine and was sent by whoever had murdered her. The case remains unsolved.

Shaun King And Why We’re So Quick To Believe White Folks

As I write this, activist Shaun King’s name is trending on Twitter…nationwide. If you are unfamiliar, with all the incidents of police brutality plaguing our nation, King has been a voice within the Black Lives Matter movement. And he doesn’t just have swift Twitter fingers, he’s about that work in real life as well.

King was also set to launch a new organization called the Justice Coalition, which seeks to end police brutality in this country by forming policy teams and launching an additional website to tell the true stories of how police brutality effects its victims.

But he’s not trending because of these new initiatives. He’s trending because people want to know if he’s really Black like he claims to be. They want to know if he’s “the next Rachel Dolezal.” And we all know how she dominated the news cycle for a good two weeks.

Breitbart, a right-winged, conservative news aggregation site named after its founder, Andrew Breitbart, alleged that King, who has said  he has a White mother and a Black father, lied about being bi-racial. They believe he lied about his ethnicity to get a scholarship to Morehouse from Oprah Winfrey. They also claim he lied about being in a car accident and being attacked by racists during his high school years in rural Kentucky.

Breitbart said he obtained a copy of his birth certificate that seems to list a White man as his father.

The story blew up from there. You know folks love to have the tea. And in their quest to join the hashtag or unearth a scandal, many never even took the time to consider the source.

As a journalism major we were taught to question everything. When I was interning for a copywriter at MSNBC, she told me, “If your mother tells you she loves you, get a second opinion.” That’s the mindset we were trained to adopt when attempting to process new information.

Today, when I heard that it was Breitbart that was trying to call Shaun King a liar, I immediately doubted the notion. Not so much because I question everything I hear and read. Admittedly, I’ve become more and more lax on that front, but because I know the recent history of the publication.

For those who were paying attention to the news during the summer of 2010, you may remember Breitbart was the same publication that infamously cost Shirley Sherrod her job with the Department of Agriculture.

Breitbart obtained excerpts from a speech Sherrod gave at an NAACP event. The site chopped and screwed the video and painted Sherrod as a racist. When in actuality, her speech warned people not to let their personal prejudices stand in the way of helping someone and developing quality friendships.

But everyone trusted Breitbart. Instead of watching the whole video for themselves, the story spread like wildfire. FoxNews led the way and then a New York CBS affiliate picked it up and then the Atlanta Journal Constitution. By that afternoon, Sherrod received numerous emails from government officials asking her to submit her resignation. The NAACP stepped forward saying they condemned her remarks. And her superiors told her The White House requested that she resign immediately.

And it was all a lie, for nothing. A conservative, White publication said something was true, put up a few video clips and a Black woman, who wasn’t even given the opportunity to tell her side of the story, lost her job because of it.

In all honesty, the Shaun King receipts seem plausible, just like the Sherrod receipts did five years ago. A White man on your birth certificate is pretty convincing.

But Breitbart is something like a MediaTakeout for conservative White folks. The story looks good on the surface, but when you do your own investigation, it’s bullshit. And for whatever reason, their rumors don’t just stir up drama and kick up mess, they cause emotional and psychological damage. Sherrod lost her job and was publicly shamed by her people and the government. At the end of the day everybody looked like fools, had to issue apologies, including The White House, and Breitbart, the site and the man, likely reveled in the exposure and visits to their website.

Judging by the way the story about Shaun King took off, their credibility didn’t even suffer.

And that is the very problem King is fighting against. We talk about Black Lives mattering and having value. But when it’s our word against a White man’s we discover we’re still less credible, inferior.  It’s devastating when people, particularly Black people, are so ready and willing to believe something just because a White man said it.

I know I’ve referenced this before, but the same thing happened when Barack Obama was running for President. Black folks wanted to vote for him but didn’t think he stood a chance of winning. But when he took Iowa, when they saw that White folks were cosigning him, then all of a sudden we felt comfortable to support our own.

Y’all we don’t need the White man’s cosign anymore.

And we need to question the coverage of Black people on all media platforms, particularly when the only time Black people are mentioned is when someone is attempting to discredit us.

By now you might be wondering did Shaun address his racial makeup. He did, via his Twitter page.

Later, another Twitter user posted this picture as a response.


If you can’t tell that that’s a Black man, then I’m going to need you to just click out and have a nice day.

It was a friend of King’s who offered a bit more explanation about his background on Facebook. You can read the whole thing here; and you should, but this part seems to be of particular importance.

And to question his race? Since the third grade, Shaun has had to deal with whispers as to his racial make-up. Whispers that no adult helped him deal with or process. Yes, that includes his mother. Shaun got called “Nigger” just as much, if not more, than myself or any of my black friends and family while growing up in Versailles. Do you think an 8 year old would volunteer for that type of treatment? A funny colored, wavy haired child just trying to navigate life? To have anything from racial slurs to cups full of dip-spit (chewing tobacco) hurled at you from confederate flag covered pick-up trucks? And then 20 years later have some right wing assholes question whether it ever happened and go as far as to call you a fraud and try to de-bunk years of social justice work that you’ve put under your belt? We grew up in a town where white mothers were constantly dis-owned by their families for having relationships and making children with black fathers. Where even into the 2000’s, the racial identities of mix-raced children were a taboo topic. Shaun was a direct victim of that. 20 years later, much progress has been made in my town of Versailles, but we are proving we have much further to go if people from my home town don’t speak the fuck up.

Honestly, at first I was wondering why he didn’t just explain explicitly. But this made it clear for me. He doesn’t owe us his story. He’s not another Rachel Dolezal trying to get shine by identifying with an oppression she willingly adopted. He’s about this life.

And it’s a shame that instead of riding for Shaun like he’s been riding for us, we were quick to start making memes, questioning his work and retweeting a story that was meant to undermine and distract from the very issues that are killing us.

I don’t believe in supporting unscrupulous people simply because they’re Black, but when White folks start going hard against Black revolutionaries, we should question the source, the motives and make sure the receipts check out.

Published on

In the million years I’ve been alive, I never thought I’d be able to add ‘Muppet taxidermy’ to my resume. I’m just over a year deep in it with a couple more ahead of me. Now that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has published some images (this one included) from the Jim Henson legacy conservation project, I’m finally allowed to talk about it. Unfortunately I’m not allowed to post any pictures, however, if you wanna chat about it or want me to create sketches or perhaps perform some interpretive dance related to my experiences in the project, holla.

Weekly, I open old busted road cases to find some of the most iconic TV and film characters in entertainment history. I typically don’t have a clue what’s in the box when I get it but it’s consistently gold. Most of it is metaphoric gold, however, much is simply gold-colored airborne particles what used to be various types of foam. The stuff breaks down and that’s simply what happens. I’ve both figuratively and literally been breathing in the essence Henson’s work over the past year. Tiny floating bits of Sam and Friends, Sesame Street, Tales from Muppetland, The Muppet Show, Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas, Fraggle Rock, Storyteller, Dog City, Dinosaurs, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and the list goes on for quite a while. I only hope my future lung tumors resemble Muppets.

In case you don’t recognize the critter in this pic, it’s Fizzgig (”Fizgig” according to the Henson Organization production label), pet companion to the ever-so-enchanting Kira from Henson’s The Dark Crystal. When Fizzgig 1st appeared on my workbench he was just a loose mess of patch-worked animal fur, barely held together by a loosely woven fabric. This fabric was mostly, and accidentally, adhered to the fur by tiny mummified fists of dried, brittle, cast foam latex that once made up his inner structure. That’s just the nature of foam latex. He had no mouth at all when I received him, it completely disintegrated, taking along some of the fur around the set of lips that also used to be there. It appeared seamless from someone’s previous attempt at simply pinning together the fur around the mouth. Those pins eventually rusted in place, taking a few strands of fur hostage when removed. Orange crumbles of dead foam were left behind and the nose and eyelids were well on their way out. The bulk of him was a small pile in the box he had been stored in for so many years. I sifted through the debris and found some slightly bigger chunks which ultimately proved to be a very small portion of the roof of his mouth. I also eventually came across his shriveled little tongue, only ½ the size of it’s original cast form. I performed some re-hydration/suspension voodoo of the dead foam using a “magical,” archival potion. Then I fixed the new mouth plate to the body. I restructured the nose from the inside, building up small layers from within, then filling any tiny fault lines left on the surface of the original foam nose. I removed some inconspicuous fur from his performer sleeve to surround the new set of lips, matching the original design.

After a little match-painting, voila! Certainly not perfection but I’m only allowed to do so much to be considered conservation work. I should mention that since all of Jim’s work is bound for a museum retirement, I can only use a very small library of archival-safe materials to mimic the stuff I would typically build a puppet from, that awesome toxic stuff. This has been the major crux of the entire project. Lots of trial by fire. Lots.

Though never to function again, I have to mention the mechanism in this Fizzgig fella. It is unbelievably tiny and clever. Fizzgig had side-to-side eye movement as well as eye-blinkers and a nose-twitching mech. The tiny 4 mm pulleys mounted to his fiberglass skull fed the even tinier polyester cord through 1 mm plastic tubes embedded in cast foam between the skull and fur skin. The 4 tubes (2 eyes, 2 eyelids), along with a 35mm camera whip (triggering the nose) ran to a second, remote puppeteer who controlled all the facial nuance through the mighty powers of analog action. All the tiny brass and steel mech hardware was soldered with a jeweler’s precision. It is now all seized by heavy corrosion. The mouth was simply hand puppeteered.

Concluding for the moment I want to leave you with some final insight. There is one major destructive force what is the ultimate enemy of all puppetdom in every form; it’s atmosphere + time. This mix has singularly and universally affected every last piece of the Henson collection. Soon, much of Henson’s early engineering magic will be permanently sealed away, if not destroyed by this evil sum. *sighs*  There is just sooo much mechanical genius within the entire collection which should be made publicly visible before it’s too late. I only hope the powers that be will someday allow me to share even just a few of my thousands of images with you. There is an absolute treasure trove in every piece from this collection. I can only suggest that you check in from time to time because just maybe, one day, perhaps…?


A Nation Remembers: A Look Around America On Memorial Day

All pictures courtesy of USA Today.

Picture descriptions (from top to bottom right):

  1. World War II Army veteran Jimmy Bishop Jr., 87, of Old Bridge, N.J., reacts as he looks at the names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial for the first time. “I get more emotional now then I did when I was a kid fighting,” says Bishop, who fought on the Pacific front during WWII.  Jacquelyn Martin, AP
  2. Isis Stevens, 8, of Bethesda, Md., waves a small U.S. flag at passing motorcycle riders during the Rolling Thunder Ride for Freedom. At left is her mother, Simone Stevens, whose brother Sadiq Stevens serves in the U.S. Air Force.  Jacquelyn Martin, AP
  3. World War II veteran Carl Beck, 88, left, who parachuted into Normandy and fought in the Siege of Bastogne as part of the Battle of the Bulge, is embraced by Korean War Veteran Jim Conway during a Meet Our Veterans event in Sandy Springs, Ga., on May 25.  Curtis Compton, Atlanta Journal & Constitution via AP
  4. Mariana Cardenaz, 5, of San Diego, looks at a small U.S. flag while attending a Memorial Day event at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Her father, Army Staff Sgt. Michael Cardenaz, was killed serving in Afghanistan in 2010.  Jacquelyn Martin, AP
  5. President Obama lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. He led the nation in remembering its war heroes, the fallen, and those who served and are serving their country in a Memorial Day tribute.  Susan Walsh, AP
  6. Robert Becker sounds ‘Taps’ during a Memorial Day ceremony at Blandford Cemetery in Petersburg, Va.  Patrick Kane, The Progress-Index via AP
  7. Chatham County Veteran of the year Bob Cutler, left, and Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Gilpin,the 3rd Infantry Division’s senior enlisted leader, lays a wreath for Memorial Day at Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Ga.  Steve Bisson, Savannah Morning News via AP
  8. Raymonde Murphy walks past the flag-adorned graves after visiting the grave of her husband, William Murphy, a World War II veteran, at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona in Phoenix.  Ross D. Franklin, AP
  9. The Color Guard, led by Frank Ramirez, right, from the George K. Gannam American Legion Post 184 raises a new flag to half-staff during a Memorial Day ceremony at Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Ga.  Steve Bisson, Savannah Morning News via AP
  10. At the State Veterans Cemetery in LIttle Falls, Minn., Raymond Flicek, 92, of Baxter pays his respects to his wife, Etta, who passed away in 2012 of Lou Gehrig’s disease. Flicek served in the army from 1943-45 as a reconnaissance man and drove around on a Harley Davidson.  Richard Tsong-Taatarii, The Minneapolis Star Tribune via AP

“What kept us watching were the coolly creepy atmosphere and high production values that gave the show a dark cinematic gleam. But even more important than those was the Mulder-Scully chemistry, the will-they-won’t-they sexual frisson that was yin to the characters’ professional yang. When ‘The X-Files’ movie hit theaters in 1998, the duo’s near-kiss was, for fans, more pulse-raising than the soft-core sex scenes in most Hollywood flicks.”

Atlanta Journal and Constitution, May 2002


Deputies shot and killed a man inside his Georgia home last month following an apparently bogus tip they received from a confessed meth addict and thief.

East Dublin resident David Hooks, 59, was killed because, according to Laurens County Sheriff Bill Harrell, he aggressively brandished a gun at the SWAT team that broke in his back door. But Mitchell Shook, a lawyer for Hooks’ widow, contends that the sheriff has misled the public about the shooting and raid, which turned up no drugs.

The sheriff’s office obtained a search warrant based on a tip from a thief who claimed he had found 20 grams of methamphetamine inside a bag he stole from a vehicle at Hooks’ home, Georgia station WMAZ reports. According to the warrant, Rodney Garrett claimed that he thought the bag was filled with cash but that he later discovered it contained meth. Garrett said that he then turned himself into the sheriff’s office because the drugs made him fear for his safety.

Garrett, a known drug abuser, also stole a second vehicle, a SUV, from the Hooks home.

The word of a thief shouldn’t have been enough to obtain the warrant, Shook told the Macon Telegraph.

He also disputes assertions that the sheriff’s office has made about Hooks’ killing.

Sheriff’s deputies raided the home without identifying themselves, Shook said, contrary to their claims that they told Hooks they were officers with a search warrant. The sheriff’s office had also said they fired at Hooks for aggressively pointing a gun at them near the back door, but Shook alleges that the deputies blindly shot at Hooks through a wall without knowing who was there.

When Hooks’ wife saw men in dark clothing heading for their home at 11 p.m. on Sept. 24, she woke up her husband and told him that the thieves who had stolen their SUV were back. Hooks grabbed a gun and headed to the door, according to Shook.

Deputies shot more than 16 times, Shook said in a statement.

Authorities searched Hooks’ home for 44 hours, but found no drugs, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Hooks’ family says that he didn’t use drugs or sell them. They say he ran a successful construction company.


I thought they stopped using drug addicts esp ones with a criminal history as witnesses