Sunday, November 27, 2011


Illustration above from Dallas Clayton's Awesome Book of Thank You

On Thanksgiving Day, it was great to read posts from Facebook folks about what they are thankful for.

There's some fun sources of inspiration for expressing gratitude in different forms and fashions.

First, there's Leah Dietrich's book and website thxthxthx. Both creations feature handwritten notes on which she conveys her appreciation for everything from pants to Paris to patience to Paula Abdul.

Then there's Dallas Clayton's An Awesome Book of Thanks. According to Amazon, Awesome is "a beautifully written, fantastically illustrated walk through a world of magical unicorns, robotic dinosaurs, and all of life's simple moments, great and small. Crafted for children ages 0-1000, this timeless story is sure to be an instant classic, at home in the hands of anyone looking for the perfect reminder of just how beautiful life can be."

Finally, may I suggest Jimmy Fallon's Thank You Notes segment (which is now also a book!)

on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. (Just watch the videos if you can't pry your eyes open to stay up into the wee hours.)

Jimmy: "Thank you, rigatoni, for looking like regular pasta that put on corduroys."

"Thank you college diplomas, for being the world's most expensive, framable receipts."

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Photo by John E. Barrett. Mahna Mahna and back-up singers © The Muppets Studio, LLC

Many of you know that Jim Henson created the Muppets - those lovable creatures who have appeared on Sesame Street and in Muppet movies for decades now. But did you know that Jim was also a legendary pioneer in film and television, creating Muppets inititally as a vehicle to enter into those medium?

A trip - or two - or three - to the
Museum of the Moving Image (MOMI) in Queens to experience Jim Henson's Fantastic World will give you and your students or your family members a chance to further appreciate the creative processes behind Jim's voluminous and astounding body of work.

The exhibit runs rom July 16, 2011 - January 16, 2012 and features the following: 120 artifacts which include drawings, storyboards, and props from The Muppet Show, The Muppet Movie, Fraggle Rock, Sesame Street, and Sam and Friends; 15 iconic puppets, including Miss Piggy, Bert, Ernie, and Kermit the Frog; photographs of Henson and his collaborators at work; and excerpts from Jim's early projects and experimental films, including his pioneering work in commercials.

A bit of Q and A with MOMI's Deputy Director for Education, Christopher Wisniewski, reveals additional reasons to go and see the exhibit:

Eleanor: What makes Jim Henson's Fantastic World special?

Christopher: Jim Henson is indisputably a singular creative figure in the history of film and television. When one thinks of the legacy he's left--the Muppets, his characters for Sesame Street, the Fraggles, and his films--one is immediately impressed by how singular they are and how they continue to occupy a special place in popular culture and collective memory. This show is extraordinary in the breadth of its approach. It gives a wide-ranging overview of Henson's career, his creative process, and his unique artistic sensibility. I think everyone who visits it comes away feeling they've learned something new about Henson and his work.

Eleanor: What is the educational value of taking a child or a group of children to this exhibit?

Christopher: For young people, there is great educational value in Jim Henson's Fantastic World. It gives insight into the creative process, to be certain, and so it helps to teach not only about puppetry specifically but also about how television and films are made and marketed. Also, Henson got his start in advertising, and he very shrewdly adapted what he learned about marketing and branding to projects that were educational and artistic. I think that is a valuable lesson. I also think that in creating characters who appeared across media, Henson anticipated the phenomenon we now refer to as trans-media, and it is valuable for young people to think about that innovation and to see it in a broader historical context.

Additional Information about MOMI and Jim Henson's Fantastic World:

There's good news for those of you who would like to get out and see the exhibit with your students and young family members: In the remaining eight weeks of Jim Henson's Fantastic World, there are plenty more screenings, discussions, and workshops to attend. For a list of those special events, CLICK HERE.

Also: MOMI's education department provides curriculum-based educational experiences to about 60,000 students every year. These offerings include school group visits, tours, talks, workshops and screenings. If you would like information about MOMI's educational opportunities, CLICK HERE.

To see more
Creative Times posts about the Jim Henson exhibit at MOMI:
All Kinds of Crazy Cool Stuff at Jim Henson's Fantastic World describes "Hands Up! Puppets Down!": An Inside Look at Puppetry for Television

* Jim Henson: Friends and Family documents the reflections of six folks gathered in of the museum's auditorium to show and talk about film clips from Jim's body of work.

* The Wonderful World of (Frank) Oz reports back on a live interview with Henson's right hand man and the Muppeteer for Miss Piggy, Bert, Animal, Cookie Monster, and more

Thursday, November 17, 2011


November 2011 New York, NY- The African American Women In Cinema’s 14th Annual Film Festival opens November 17, 2011 at The Lighthouse International located at 111 East 59th New York, NY 10022. To kick things off the AAWIC film festival’s red carpet will be hosted by Ameliaismoore at 6:30pm with a VIP Reception sponsored by The Lighthouse International. Following the reception, at 7:45pm a Pioneer Honoree Presentation hosted by WBLS’s Liz Black will be given to producer Laurens Grant with a special film screening of her debut film Love Life Soul by Dedra Tate. Major industry executives such as Patrick Harrison, NY Program Director for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Oscars), will be in attendance to support this great event on its opening night.

The AAWIC 14th Annual Film Festival continues throughout the weekend with many exciting screenings by filmmakers from all over the country from November 17-19, 2011. On Friday, November 18th from 11:00am-10:00pm films will be screening with panel discussions hosted by Ameliaismore at DCTV 87 Lafayette Ave. Simultaneously, on Friday evening from 6:30-9:00pm there will be a young filmmakers showcase with screening of films from New York City teenagers at the Antigua & Barbuda Progressive Society at 12 West 122nd Street.

Saturday, November 19, screenings take place from 1:00-4:00pm at the Showbiz Cafe at 19 West 21st New York. From 6:30-9:00pm the closing session and wrap reception will be at back at DCTV 87 Lafayette Street. Ticket prices range from $10-$105. To purchase tickets you may go to

For the past decade, the African American Women In Cinema organization has served as a continuous support system for women filmmakers led by founder Terra Renee. AAWIC’s mission Renee states is “Thriving in their work to connect minority women filmmakers with professionals in the entertainment industry.” In the past, celebrities such as Vanessa Williams, Nia Long, Ntozake Shange and Jada Pinkett Smith have showcased their work at the AAWIC.

For more information and to reserve seats for the festival contact AAWIC festival publicist: Cordelia Donovan at 646-678-6048 or

Wednesday, November 09, 2011


My husband just emailed a link to an article on Collector's Weekly called Before Sesame Street and Electric Mayhem, a Crude Kermit Lip Synced Pop Standards.

These posters were included in the piece, and I fell in love instantly.

The article's author, Ben Marks, explains the posters in this bit:

On “The Muppets Show,” the vehicle for Henson’s musical side was its house band, which, like Kermit, has its own legions of fans. For example, in anticipation of the new Muppets movie, a Toronto graphic designer named Michael De Pippo created gig posters for each of the original members of Electric Mayhem—Dr. Teeth (keyboards), Zoot (sax), Janice (guitar), Sgt. Floyd Pepper (bass), and Animal (drums). Originally conceived as a fan’s “homage for my love of the Muppets,” the posters went viral on the Internet earlier this fall and were quickly licensed by Disney, which is publishing limited-edition, signed screenprints of each poster via Acme Archives. De Pippo says that some of the 18-by-24-inch posters, which advertise a show by the band at The Muppet Theatre on March 19th, 1975, the air date of “The Muppet Show” pilot, should be ready in time for the release of “The Muppets” over Thanksgiving weekend.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


Last Saturday, there were terrible delays on the downtown/Brooklyn-bound trains. Huge waits at the Columbus Circle station and long stalls on the subway itself meant time with nothing to do.

I was so happy that with the last $2 in my wallet I could purchase the weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal from the subway news stand at 59th Street. I often purchase The New York Times, but I went for the fatness of the WSJ and the fact that it included a magazine with profiles of innovators.

In the Style and Fashion section, there was an interesting piece about a woman I had never heard of before: Print Pioneer Celia Birtwell.

The article began like this:

Thanks to the queen, 70-year-old Celia Birtwell is now not only a designer, she's a Commander. Earlier this month she was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) at Buckingham Palace for her lifetime of service to the fashion industry. But Ms. Birtwell has been a leader and innovator in her own right for decades, known the world over as one of the most important textile designers of her generation. In the 1960s and '70s together with her then-husband, designer Ossie Clark, she virtually invented bohemian chic. Ms. Birtwell's fluid, ethereal and dynamic mix of patterns became a mainstay in the wardrobes of The Beatles, Mick and Bianca Jagger, Twiggy and Jimi Hendrix, among others. Her look also inspired artist David Hockney, who regards Ms. Birtwell as one of his principal muses.

To read the rest of the article, click HERE.

Photo Credit: Andrew Lamb