Saturday, March 30, 2013

Pheaturing Gary Gnu from "The Great Space Coaster"

Hey, kids, get on board, and welcome to the Phile, this is the last entry of the month and sadly the last entry in "The Great Space Coaster" Month. This month on the Phile has been the most fun ever. I have to do a "TGSC" Month again sometime.  So, yesterday was Good Friday. I hope you had a better Good Friday than Jesus did. So, let's see what happened this past week.  Harvard was knocked out of the NCAA tournament in the second round. But don’t kid yourself. This Harvard basketball team went somewhere no other team has gone: to class. There was a big upset in the NCAA tournament, when San Diego State was upset by 15th seed Florida Gulf Coast University. Yeah, Florida Gulf Coast University. Even the University of Phoenix Online was like, "Who?"  There's a growing trend of older Americans who are using marijuana in their retirement. That makes sense because old people are always talking about their joints. I guess the marijuana trend explains why White Castle is now offering an early bird special.  A 33-year-old woman in Britain claims to have an allergic reaction to exercise. She says every time she exercises, she has an allergic reaction. Actually, I have that. You know how I treat it? Pizza. You might not think I exercise, but I do. I jump to conclusions, fly off the handle, carry things too far, dodge responsibilities and push my luck.  A rattlesnake handler in Texas is recovering in the hospital after being bitten for the 12th time. If you’re a rattlesnake handler and you've been bitten 12 times, are you really a handler? Aren’t you just a guy who doesn’t know how to pick up snakes?  Is it still Passover? I think so. So, to my Jewish readers once again, Happy Passover. In honor of Passover, all of these jokes are unleavened.  The average American works six months a year for the government. Think about that. Government employees don't even work six months a year for the government.  There's a new Secretary of State... John Kerry. What do you think? Is he getting the job done? I don't know. It's hard to trust a secretary of state who is not wearing a pantsuit. John Kerry visited Iraq and also Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting with Dennis Rodman.  The former Pope got together with the new Pope for a Pope reunion special. They referred to each other as New Pope and Pope Classic.  Actress Tilda Swinton gave an unusual performance at the Museum of Modern Art this past weekend. She slept in a glass box in the middle of the museum all day. If you are in New York, for $20 you can watch Tilda Swinton sleep in a box. In L.A. you can watch Gary Busey pass out in public for free.  Well, as you know tomorrow is Easter. I was at the shops the other day looking to see what I should get my son for Easter and I saw this...

I guess it shows you where I shop, right.  Tonight the Easter Bunny will make his trip, but today he visited the White House and I have proof.

Or maybe they just let Biden choose how own clothes. LOL.  Alright, last Sunday on the Phile I showed you on eBay someone was selling a Knock Knock stuffed animal and called her a flamingo. A flamingo! Knock Knock from "The Great Space Coaster" is of course a woodpecker, and they didn't even name her. Here's a look at what I showed last weekend...

Well, with the power of the Phile, it's been corrected. Take a look...

They didn't call her a woodpecker but they got the name right. I wonder if anybody bid on her and won. So, as this is the last "TGSC" entry, I thought I would see if they were selling maybe an Edison plush on eBay. And this is what I found...

That's not a bad price. Still a little steep for a plush. But at least whoever is selling Edison got his name and species right. A few weeks ago I showed you what a Gary Gnu plush is going for. As Gary is the guest on the Phile today I thought I'd check to see how he is doing.

No one bid on him yet. It'll be cheaper to fly to Connecticut to pick him up. Phile readers, can't any of you bid on him and send it to me? It was worth asking.  Let's switch gears, you know once in awhile I look at Twitter and see what people are saying about certain things. One of those things is Foghat, and this is what I found.

Smart thinking, Lilykily. Okay, let's move on. From the home office in Coasterville, here is...

Top Phive Surprising Discoveries Made At The White House Easter Egg Role
5. Emergency pack of smokes for when Obama "goes out for some air".
4. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who shows up anywhere there's free hard-boiled eggs.
3. First draft of Obama's 2012 concession speech.
2. Bo's special "Chocolate Easter Eggs".
And the number one discovery made at the White House Easter Egg Roll...
1. A dehydrated Joe Biden passed out in a bunny suit.

Do you know what starts tonight? "Doctor Who" Season 7 Part 2! I am excited, and I hope you are as well. Okay, so, tomorrow it's Easter, so I have a treat for you. My band Strawberry Blondes Forever has a new single out today called... "Kelly Clarkson". Yep. You can download it at and It'll be out in iTunes and more soon. Alright, who likes comics? I do. So, I like to invite my good friend Jim Mello who works at Coliseum of Comics here in Florida to give us some idea of what comic books just came out. So, please welcome once again to the Phile... Jim Mello.

There will be spoilers, and if you read a spoiler that you didn't want to after reading this disclaimer, please don't come crying to me like a giant baby. And so....
Age of Ultron #3
The remaining Avengers sit around and talk for a bit, before coming up with a plan to get an Ultron head. Taskmaster, Red Hulk, and Black Panther go out on a mission... Panther gets a punk death, Red Hulk disappears, and Taskmaster escapes. Slow series still running on extra slow, and continues not to make the case for decompressed comics.
Batman Inc. #9
Batman punches stuff and kicks Alfred out. Meh x2.
East Of West #1 
Three of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are reborn in the bodies of children, realize that their fourth is missing, and vow to find and murder him. Now, let's jump back to the best time in American History... the Civil War and the Reconstruction/Indian Wars years that followed... except this time, Hickman takes us on a tour de force world-building exercise that covers an quickening of technology, religious zealotism, and shifting inter-continental lines. The missing Horseman happens to be Death, and in this techno-western, hell does seem to follow with him. Probably the best showing for a first issue Hickman book in awhile. It cries almost everything I like to see in a comic with a surplus of deadly imagination to boot. Plus, it involves Western history, and I love Western history. Don't you? Green Hornet #1 
A basic Green Hornet story that serves up lukewarm writing and art. It's the same deal... Britt Reid, newspaper owner and by-night vigilante, is out on the dicks trying to figure who the new criminal mastermind is in town. Unfortunately, Waid does not bring the fun inventiveness he's brought other recent titles, and the art (or perhaps the ink/color, because it's very heavy) doesn't help a bit.
Guardians of the Galaxy #1
Aww yisss... Star-Lord and his recently returned Father get into a verbal sparring match about Star-Lord's gallivanting ways, before his father warns him that Earth is off limits to everyone now, including him. Meanwhile, Tony is attacked by the Badoon, a particularly nasty set of space-faring aliens, and is saved when the Guardians show up. The ship begins to crash into Earth's atmosphere, and the Guardians contemplate giving chase. With a few references to the seminal Abnett and Lanning run, this book is just reading fantastic right now. Big recommend from moi.
Timewarp #1
Let's face it... read one Vertigo anthology, you've read 'em all. Just some creators of note in case you know someone who likes them: Jeff Lemire, Damon Lindelof, Gail Simone, Pete Milligan, Matt Kindt, Dan Abnett.  And that, my friends, is that.

Thanks, Jim. Don't forget to check out Jim's podcast The Long Box. You can check it out on iTunes by searching Coliseum of Comics.

The 25th book to be pheatured in the Peverett Phile Book Club is...

The author Kent Gustavson will be on the Phile in a few weeks.

Today's pheatured guest is the last one for "The Great Space Coaster" Month. He's a gnu newscaster who did a show on each "The Great Space Coaster" episode and is well known for his catchphrase, "No Gnews is Good Gnews with Gary... Gnu". Goriddle would always say WOW each time he introduced Gary Gnu... so I'll say it. Wow! Please welcome to the Phile, the one and only... Gary Gnu!

Me: Hello, Gary, welcome to the Phile. How are gnu? LOL. Get it?

Gary: Ha! Ha! That's hysteri... wait... I don't get it.

Me: It's an honor to have you here on the Phile, Gary. Do you do a lot of interviews?

Gary: I have done a few interviews, but I am the one usually doing the interviewing. It's safer that way. If you're not careful, some gnews might accidentally slip into the conversation and that would be bad gnews indeed.

Me: So, this month on the Phile it was "The Great Space Coaster" Month. I don't think that show gets a lot of attention, do you?

Gary: You're right. It doesn't get a lot of attention. I think the Phile is like peanut butter... everyone loves it but they only gnotice it when it sticks to the roof of their mouth. Oh wait, were you referring to "The Great Space Coaster"? In that case, I think it is remarkable that a show that hasn't been on the air for more than 30 years is even remembered, let alone getting ANY kind of attention. Unless a show is released on DVD, it is usually forgotten.

Me: Good point. And no one will remember the Phile in thirty years. How long have you been reading the news, Gary?

Gary: WHAT?! I gnever read the gnews! I despise gnews!

Me: Okay, then where did the phrase "No gnus is good gnus" come from?

Gary: "No Gnews IS Good Gnews" came from me. That's why I always say "No Gnews IS Good Gnews with Gary Gnu." Where did you think it came from? A fortune cookie?

Me: Good point again. Gary, have you seen the t-shirts that feature you? One says "Fear the Beard" and the other says "Gary Gnu is My Homeboy". I wonder, do you have any official Gary Gnu t-shirts?

Gary: Yes, I have seen those t-shirts. It's gnice that they remember me, but it is not gnice that they have used my picture without my permission. We hope to soon have some official Gary Gnu t-shirts that you can purchase. If you purchase a a licensed "TGSC" shirt, your money will go towards preserving the old episodes and towards developing all gnew programs. If you buy a pirated shirt, your money goes to... well... it goes to some gnon-gnautical pirate.

Me: There was a "TGSC" album that came out in the 80's. I saw it on ebay for 40 bucks, and almost bidded on it, and then I found one for ten dollars and I have it. Do you perform on it? If so, what song do you perform, do you remember?

Gary: Yes, I do perform on the album! I perform a short piece called (what else?) "No Gnews Is Good Gnews." It's a pretty gnifty album and includes a great little gnumber called "Yellow Orange Day" that a lot of people remember as one of their favorites. You can hear it on YouTube. Have you noticed that records have gotten smaller? And shinier. But for some reason they won't play on my record player.

Me: Yeah, I did notice. Those are called CD's, but I love vinyl. You had some great guest stars on "TGSC", Gary. Who was your favorite?

Gary: We certainly had a lot of great guests, including Erin Gray, Marvin Hamlisch, Mean Joe Green, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Kathleen Turner, Aileen Quinn, and Henry Winkler. But I would have to say my favorite was Mark Hamill.

Me: I think I have a picture with you and Mark Hamill.

Me: There. What a great pic. What was it like working with Mark Hamill?

Gary: Mark is a really gneat guy! We had a lot of things in common: we both liked puppets, we both read comic books, and we didn't have mustaches. Things like that can really make people fast friends. 

Me: So, you had a lot of cool friends on the like Goriddle and Knock Knock. Who do you miss most?

Gary: It's hard to say who I miss most. I miss the kids, gnaturally. I miss Baxter's sweet smile, Knock Knock's charming laugh, Edison's stories... I might even miss that gnitwit Goriddle a little bit. Just a little bit. Maybe gnot.

Me: Goriddle always gave you a hard time, right?

Gary: Goriddle was always trying to take over my show. He gnever appreciated how hard I worked to bring No Gnews to my many loyal viewers.

Me: Hey, did you know there is a band called Gary Gnu? I wonder if they are fans?

Gary: I did not gknow there was band called Gary Gnu! I sure hope they are fans... it would be pretty crazy to think they were named after some other guy gnamed Gary Gnu! There are a lot of people out there who use my gname... I guess I can't blame them for wanting to be me. But it has made it very difficult for me to travel. Baxter requires background checks on everyone who rides in his coaster and it takes him a long time to sort out that all those Gary Gnus are gnot me. Why don't people ever steal Goriddle's gname? Wait... maybe this is all one of Goriddle's little jokes. Gnice going, Goriddle! Now I can't even get a Facebook account using my own gname!

Me: So, last year you showed up at a convention in Pennsylvania and did a comeback show. What convention was that and how was that experience?

Gary: I made my recent appearance at a convention called Anthrocon that takes place in Pittsburgh, PA. It is the largest furry convention in the world and is attended by about 5,000 people. It was a great experience! The furry community is very friendly and supportive and I am very grateful to them for helping me get back in the limelight.

Me: Q: What is a furry, Gary?

Gary: A "furry" is a person who is a fan of anthropomorphic characters. Oh, I bet gnow you're going to ask me: What does "anthropomorphic" mean?

Me: Yep.

Gary: Well, it's not an anthropologist who morphs while hiccuping. Anthropomorphic means an animal that has human qualities, like Bugs Bunny or me for example. Most furry fans have their own character or persona that they have created and many furries like to dress in full body costumes representing their character. They are very creative and very dedicated. Unfortunately, furries have gotten a bad rap that they don't deserve. I have met many furries who are professional people; they are doctors, military people, artists, service givers, and more who just happen to have an unconventional hobby.

Me: Hmmm... Will you be doing any more convention appearances? I can hook you up at one here in Florida called MegaCon maybe.

Gary: I would love to go to more conventions! But like I said earlier, I have a hard time traveling, so I don't get to too many of them. Keep checking out the official Facebook page to find out if I am going to be making any special appearances! 

Me: Who are your biggest fans, Gary?

Gary: Well, I gnever thought of actually measuring my fans to see who is the biggest. I am guessing though it would have to be Edison and his family. They are elephants, after all. Unless there is a blue whale out there that is a fan, or maybe even a brontosaurus!

Me: Gary, there's no more brontosauruses anymore.

Gary: What? There aren't any brontosauruses anymore? They're ngow called brachiosauruses? That's gnuts! Why, in the 80's brontosauruses were as tried and true as 35mm film. Next you're going to tell me Pluto isn't a planet anymore...

Me: It wasn't, but is again. So, I am sure you know Jim Martin as he was in the picture with you and Mark Hamill. What do you think of that guy?

Gary: Jim Martin and I are very close. You could say he is my biggest supporter. But he is gnotorius for putting words in my mouth. Thankfully, though, it is gnever gnews.

Me: What do you think of Jim's campaign to preserve the show?

Gary: I think it's a little weird. I mean, preserves are usually made out of oranges, apricots, or other kinds of fruit. I don't think the show would taste very good spread out on a piece of toast. If it did, they would have called it "The Great Space Toaster".

Me: That's funny. Do you ever think you'll be back on TV ever, Gary?

Gary: What do you mean? I'm still on TV. I've gnever stopped broadcasting my show. Are you telling me you haven't been watching it?

Me: Um... no, I don't think Brighthouse picks up your transmissions.

Gary: What?! You're not receiving the transmissions?!

Me: We don't receive analog anymore. It's all digital, so maybe that's why, Gary.

Gary: What do you mean you don't receive analog anymore? You're gnow all digital?! Oh gno! That's terrible!

Me: Thanks so much for being here, I hope it was fun. Is there anything you want to tell the fans of "TGSC"?

Gary: Please follow us on and check out the original fansite at You gnever gknow what I'll get going!

Me: Alright, on the Phile occasionally I ask random questions, and I have one for you, Gary. If you could donate one million dollars to a charity which would you choose?

Gary: The Paperboy Retirement Home. I am sure that exposure to all that gnews for so many years has caused some sort of permanent damage and lots of ink stains on their fingers. It's pretty gnasty work.

Me: Take care, Gary, and please come back on the Phile soon.

Gary: Thank you so much for having me on your show. Always remember, No Gnews IS Good Gnews with Gary Gnu! (That's the REAL Gary Gnu... not the musical group mentioned earlier). Have a Gnice Day!

Me: The great Gary Gnu everybody!

Well, that about does it for this entry, and sadly the last entry in "The Great Space Coaster" Month. Thanks to my guests Jim Mello and Gary Gnu, and special thanks to Jim Martin and Tanslin media. Like I said, it's been so much much fun for me interviewing the cast of that show. I have to thank again Emily Bindiger, Jim Martin, John Lovelady and Noel MacNeal. And an extra thank you to Robert A. Medeiros from The Clarences for suggesting I do a whole "TGSC" Month. I hope I can do another "TGSC" Month sometime again and interview these cool people as well as a few different ones. The Phile will be back Monday with Phile Alum Mike Gent from The Figgs, then next Sunday with singer songwriter Mark Martyre. Have a good Easter tomorrow, kids. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite gnew. LOL. Bye, love gnew, bye. Sorry, I couldn't resist. Strawberry Blondes Forever! Download the new single now at!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Pheaturing The Fresh Topping

Hey, kids, welcome to another entry of the Phile... the third in a row. Happy Passover to my Jewish readers. It does start today, right?  A man in England has created a car that runs on coffee. Well, what a genius this guy is. Let's pick a liquid that costs even more money than gasoline. Hey, if you think it costs a lot to fill up your tank now, just wait until Starbucks is involved. You know what that guy should invent? A Carnival cruise ship that runs on human waste. That thing could go forever.  Scientists say they are getting closer to being able to do Jurassic Park-style cloning of extinct species. Imagine that! Things that were thought to be extinct could be brought back from the dead. So there's hope for m,y shoulder.  The new Pope worked as a bouncer in a nightclub. You don't think of that as step No. 1 on your way to the top, do you? I believe he's the only Pope who has ever said, "You've had enough, Miss Lohan."  A chicken in China laid a giant egg. When they cracked the egg open, they found two yolks in it. Then they found, inside the egg, another egg. And when they cracked that egg open, it had another yolk in it. The chicken gave birth to a Denny's Grand Slam breakfast.  During his visit to Israel, President Obama's limousine broke down after it was mistakenly filled with the wrong fuel. Or as Obama put it: "Who the hell filled this thing up with coffee?" Speaking of the president, he filled out his NCAA tournament bracket. He picked Florida, Indiana, Louisville, and Ohio State to go to the Final Four. It's been four months since the election, and he still needs Florida and Ohio to win.  A NASA official told Congress that if a meteor was on track to strike the U.S., Americans should pray. Even Pope Francis was like, "That's your Plan A?"  The University of Colorado says the idea that sleep deprivation causes weight gain is much worse than previously thought. They say insomnia can cause almost immediate weight gain. Well, that should help you sleep, huh? Not only are you tired, you're going to be fat, too.  A new report shows that one in six Americans is now Hispanic. Well, the other five are also Hispanic. They are just not Americans. Justin Bieber announced that he’s growing a mustache. I guess we’ll just have to take his word for it.  Alright, so yesterday I had Noel MacNeal on the Phile who played beat in "Bear In the Big Blue House" and he said Bear will not be coming back. Well, he was wrong. I just found out there's gonna be a new series with Bear.

If only that were true. Groan.  So, did you know they sold Axe body spray and deodorant in North Korea? I didn't, until I saw this ad...

Are they crying with happiness or sadness? I'm guessing the latter. Cartoons are a lot more violent it seems today then I was a kid. They say the violence has been toned down but I'm not so sure.

I never did like Tom and Jerry, and now they are both gone.  I have to show you this, a Phile reader sent this to me. They said it was from Rolling Stone magazine, but I've never seen this picture before. It's funny, my dad is holding a baseball bat, and he never played baseball in his life.

Well, it's "The Great Space Coaster" Month for one more week, and this month I have been showing you pictures of actual people on actual coasters. Don't ask me why, I have no bloody idea. Anyway, here's one more, kids.

What are those guys in the back doing? I have no idea. That's so stupid. Baxter would definitely kick those two off the space coaster. And now for another...

And now from the home office in Coasterville, here is...

Top Phive Things Nicki Minaj Said On "American Idol" That Could Of Been Said By Hannibal Lecter
5. "That's my girl, you are back... you are a little marshmallow that I want to eat!"
4. "I... am... obsessed... with... you... I'M GONNA EAT HIM!"
3. "I want to skin you and wear you!"
2. Your weirdness and awkwardness excites me... I want to cradle you in my arms. You remind me of my little brother."
And the number one thing Nicki Minaj said that could of been said by Hannibal Lecter...
1. Of course, you know you are a crazy psycho, and I love that."

Alright, as I said, it's Passover. I do not know what Passover is, or what it means, or how it started to I thought I would invite an expert to explain it. So, please welcome to the Phile, the brand new character...

After the tenth plague, the slaying of all the Egyptian first born, Pharaoh told Moses the Jews were free to leave Egypt. So the Jews packed their carts with their belongings and tried to leave. The problem was, with all the dead Egyptians, the funeral homes could not handle the demand. The end result was streets littered with coffins. With the streets impassable, the Jews couldn't get there carts out of their driveways. They complained to Moses, "We can't get out of Egypt unless you do something about these blocked streets". Moses in turn, called out to God. "Lord, please do something about this coffin problem." Understand with all the commotion it was hard for God to hear what Moses was saying. He thought Moses said "Coughin" and responded by turning all the wine into cough syrup. And that is why, to this day, we drink Passover wine that resembles cough syrup.

Um... I don't know if that really what happened. Thanks, Jerry. I guess.

Okay, now for the 25th book to be added to The Phile's Book Club.

From the day Doc Watson stepped off the bus in New York City, the North Carolina music legend changed the world forever. His influence has been recognized by presidents and by the heroes of modern music. This is the first comprehensive biography of Doc Watson, with never before released details about the American guitar icons life. Featuring new interviews with popular musicians: Ben Harper, Michelle Shocked, Warren Haynes, Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, and many more... This book is available from Amazon or your local book store. The author, Kent Gustavson, will be a guest on the Phile in a few weeks.

Today's pheatured guest is a parody songwriter whose self-titled album and the new single "Redwings Will Never Flap Together" are both available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... The Fresh Topping.

Me: Hello, sir, and welcome to the Phile. How are you?

The Fresh Topping: I’m good, how about yourself?

Me: Not bad. Okay, I have to ask you, what's with the picture of the ghost? And what does the S stand for on his chest?

The Fresh Topping: Haha, that’s not a ghost. It’s a sperm. He is Super Sperm.

Me: Um... okay. So, I have to ask you, before we really start, what should I call you? Fresh? Fresh Topping? How do you like to be addressed?

The Fresh Topping: Nick works.

Me: Okay, Nick. While we are on the name, what does The Fresh Topping mean? Where did that name originate from?

The Fresh Topping: Well, originally I was going to go with Sperm Sample. I thought, however, that might just turn some people off to start with. I came up with Nicki Crepes and The Fresh Topping… it starts with probably my favorite episode of "Two and Half Men", the Charlie Waffles episode(s). I wanted to go something along that route and wound up with Nicki Crepes. The Fresh Topping just sounded good, it’s a new level of parody as in most people won’t go this raunchy, and you can make a lot of great innuendos with The Fresh Topping.

Me: Alright, let's talk about your music, which is comedy parody, but a lot different from someone say Weird Al Yankovic. Are you a fan of Weird Al, Nick?

The Fresh Topping: I grew up listening to a lot of different music, Weird Al was among them…though mainly because my dad listened to Dr. Demento a lot. It definitely influenced me, though only by the way of doing stilly things. Weird Al is completely family oriented, and even the first parody I wrote at 14, 20 years ago, was very “dirty”. I was more of a 2 Live Crew fan.

Me: Who else are your influences?

The Fresh Topping: Well they don’t just spring from music… they come from movies, books, people I’ve been around. As far as music goes, I love a lot of stuff (though I tend to like older stuff... pre-95 for sure mostly)… Almost any hair metal of the 80’s... Motley Crue, Poison, David Lee Roth, etc. Iron Maiden, NWA, 2 Live Crew, it just goes on and on. Really, other than specific bands/artists in certain genres, I like everything but country and r & b. Movies, all genres, and it’s really hard to nail down a “favorite”. I love movies and TV (that’s the industry I’m actually in). Any Mel Brooks movie, all of George Lucas’ early stuff, stopping after Indie 3 really, Stanley Kubrick, the list goes on and on… I could spend hours going over movies. Books and comics, well comics are comics... not many too choose from in the 80’s really… Books, they range as well, lots of sci-fi... Frank Herbert and his "Dune" novels, Tolkien, Orwell, all Star Wars books, again the list just goes on and on.

Me: Nick, where are you originally from?

The Fresh Topping: I am originally from my dad’s scrotum. I moved from his body, winding my way through tubes, ending up in the fallopian tubes, and finally in the uterus. I spent some time there, like most people, to finally pop out into the gloomy area of Columbus, OH. I moved from there to Southern Cali, though, this is where I was meant to be. No place better than Cali.

Me: Have you been writing parody songs for a long time?

The Fresh Topping: Yes. I started my first one when I was 14, finished it just months before Weird Al came out with his Nirvana parody... which oddly enough was the song I was doing as well, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" or something.

Me: You have a CD out, Nick. How long did it take you to put it together?

The Fresh Topping: I continued writing, not just parodies, for a long time. Never really thought much about putting an album together. One day, though, I decided it would be a cool thing to do and finally I did it.

Me: And how did you choose what songs do parody?

The Fresh Topping: As far as writing them, it’s just what comes to me. I like so many different things spanning decades, that makes it easier. Another thing that definitely helps is having a teenage niece, she listens to (or at least knows) the stuff I would never just listen to on my own. I’ll write a lot of songs at once it seems and then take breaks… as far as choosing what went on the first album, that was tough. I have over 40 more songs finished (written) and about 40-50 more at any given time in the works, we’ll see when I get time to make more.

Me: Tell the readers some of the songs and bands you parody on the album, Nick.

The Fresh Topping: Well, I tend to parody a lot of stuff I personally like, and of course some newer stuff that I don’t. I do however, respect everyone as an artist... they all have talent. For the first album, we cover multiple decades and multiple genres, ranging from the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, all the way to current pop. Some of the bands we parody are Journey (a favorite of mine), Katy Perry, Brian Adams, Bon Jovi (another favorite of mine), Cyndi Lauper and a few others.

Me: Your new single is "Red Wings Will Never Flap Together". I have no idea what that means. Can you explain?

The Fresh Topping: Oh man, hahaha. Let me start by saying a lot of the stuff I write about is stuff I wouldn’t necessarily do myself, I just find the topics and subject matter really funny and I love pushing the envelope. For this song, I listened to Taylor Swift song, oh jeez, dozens of times. Trying to get through it… I like to keep a theme to each of my songs and put them together, as best as you can, in a story fashion. For some it works better than others. Anyway, this song ended up having some good metaphors in it… it’s about a guy who likes to, um, munch on his girlfriend at a particular time of the month, and only then. She gets frustrated with him and really wants him to pleasure her at other times, not just when she’s… well you get the idea. So, the term redwings, as you can imagine, comes from how your face/mouth would look after you come up from a visit to Aunt Flow.

Me: That's fucking disgusting, and I thought it was about birds. Have you heard from Taylor Swift's people on what they think of the song?

The Fresh Topping: Have not heard anything from them. But then again, there’s not much to say. I write everything to where we never mention anyone specific and I never slander anyone. It’s all just humor, albeit very raunchy, and fits firmly within the Fair Use Act.

Me: What about any of the other bands or people you parody? Have you heard from them?

The Fresh Topping: We actually did contact Katy Perry’s people one time, they declined to help “promote it” with Katy... hahahaha. That was it though. We did send copies of the lyrics, and the finished song I think, to Billy’s Joel’s manager. He didn’t seem to have any reaction either way, but was definitely intrigued and was “looking forward to hearing the song”. We didn’t really contact too many after that. We sent a thing to Bon Jovi but he doesn’t do anything with any parodies but always wishes the best of luck to anyone doing them. With so many, good and bad, on YouTube and the fact that the fair use act has been so established, and the fact that I take care not to slander anyone or even mention anyone… not much to hear about really. Q

Me: On the album you have a theme going. You have songs called "Anal", "Analworks", "Anal Wet Or Dry", and even one song called "Rearend". What is this fascination with anal?

The Fresh Topping: It was just coincidence I think. It’s a funny subject, no matter what sexual orientation you are. Of course "Analworks" was more about explosive poo and not sex in the tight love tunnel… but I see where you’re going with it. A lot of songs just turn out that way. I have plenty of other songs that don’t deal with it… more period songs, a song purely about ejaculation, etc. I really just went with those (on the first album) for songs I thought might be catchy and ones I liked the original too. "Rearend", well I just had to do that one… it’s the Biebs! I was actually working on another one all about camel toe, which I will finish, but he announced his new album right when I was like halfway done with it. I had to wait and just do his new “hit” from the new album, whatever it would be. It ended up being "Boyfriend", so naturally I went with "Rearend". It just fit.

Me: You did a video for the song "Porno Man" with Ron Jeremy. I have a photo from the set here.

Me: How did you get Ron to be in the video? Did you know him before hand?

The Fresh Topping: Just called up his agent. It was really easy, actually. Also, I had a friend who worked at the House of Blues on Sunset and knew Ron. He just asked him one night and ended up doing it without his agent.

Me: The song "Porno Man" is a parody of Billy Joel's "Piano Man". Weird Al also paroded that song about Spider-Man. Did you hesitate on doing this song because Weird Al already did a version of it?

The Fresh Topping: I actually had no idea Al did this song until right now. I’ll have to go check that out, haha.

Me: So, your music sounds very close to the originals, Nick. Do you hire musicians or is the music sampled?

The Fresh Topping: Ah yes, something I’m quite proud of. Personally, I used to play the piano, and was quite good at it. However, I do not play any instruments on the album. We do hire local musicians, I like supporting them, and we NO SAMPLES. Every piece of music is re-created from scratch. It’s really a testament to the musicians and my studio engineer, he is pretty amazing. A little side note for anyone aspiring to get into recording side of things, he graduated from the Los Angeles Recording School, a great place. I am currently at the Los Angeles Film School, we work with students from there on various projects.

Me: And who does the singing? You sing on "Porno Man", am I right?

The Fresh Topping: I did do the singing on "Porno Man". I felt since it was a tribute song I had to do it, no matter how it turned out.

Me: Do you play any instruments, and play or sing on the album or are you just the writer?

The Fresh Topping: I played the piano for many years. It is my favorite instrument but I do not currently play. I wrote everything and produced the whole album. Friends of mine sang for me.

Me: I have a band, if that's what you want to call it, called Strawberry Blondes Forever, where I write the lyrics but a friend named Fogdan records and sings and plays on the songs. It's almost the same deal with you, right?

The Fresh Topping: Yes. I write everything but I also produced the whole thing.

Me: So, did you write any songs not about sex?

The Fresh Topping: Songs, well yeah I guess. There are some about excrements ("Analworks"), feminine problems ("Redwings")... Well, okay, that’s about sex as well I guess, but bloods on the pad isn’t!. I have a lot of other songs written, there’s a few that aren’t about sex. However, with the songs, I tend to do them in these fashions. Other stuff that I write, stuff for film and TV, take a completely different turn… sci fi, horror, comedy (some raunchy but not all), very emotional stuff. I will end up directing as much as I can… it’s all about emotion for me, no matter what I’m doing really, aside from the songs, that’s just pure disgusting comedy.

Me: Okay, so, you have a new single out, Nick. Are you putting together a new full length?

The Fresh Topping: I will at some point. I’m not concerned with sales or anything, so I’ll always do this on the side. Right now, though, I’m pretty busy with school. Writing and preparing to film a bunch of stuff in the upcoming months. If I end up selling enough copies of the current stuff, I might be able to do something in the meantime, otherwise it is going to have to wait until I’m done with school. I am hoping to make more music videos… and was totally planning on it at school… but we’ll see how much time I have to really make them. I have too much other stuff I want to make that is more geared towards my film career. I might hand the videos off to other people at school though, those who want to just make music videos, and see if they want to make.

Me: So, on the Phile I ask random questions thanks to a bunch of cards called Tabletopics. Here we go... If you could do something dangerous just once with no risk what would you do?

The Fresh Topping: Oooooooo that’s a good question. With absolutely no risk at all… so whatever I would do I would have this magical protective field… I think I’d have to have sex with Pam Anderson. It would be the only time available to do it and not catch a few things.

Me: Nick, thanks so much for being on the Phile. Go ahead and mention your website and please come back when your next release is out.

The Fresh Topping: Thanks for having me! The website is I would love to come back when we get something else out, even if it’s just as single.

That was a nice interview in a month dedicated to a children's TV show. And that's actually the album cover. Really. Well, that about does it for another entry of the Phile. Thanks to The Fresh Topping, or Nick, whatever he wants to be called. The Phile will be back on Saturday with the one and only Gary Gnu from "The Great Space Coaster" and then on Monday with Phile Alum Mike Gent from The Figgs. I'm going leave you with a photo of when  I received my 10 year plaque at Disney 15 years ago. Spread the word, not the turd, and don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Strawberry Blondes Forever!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Pheaturing Noel MacNeal From "The Great Space Coaster"

Get on board, step inside, soarin' on a magic ride. Roarin' towards the other side where only rainbows hide. LOL. I love that song. Welcome to the Phile, kids, where it's still "The Great Space Coaster" Month, at least for one more week.  Before we start with the comedy and the news, who is watching the NCAA March Madness games? I know nothing about college basketball and probably could name just a few teams at the top of my head. I had a few people asking me about my bracket, and I am here to say... bracket brackets bracket bracket my bracket how about your bracket? Bracket bracketing brackets on bracket bracket bracket Barack. There's a team called Gonzaga who I have never heard of before. It sounds like a cheese. Anyway, apparently they were the number one seed or something. Well, they lost yesterday. Gonzaga says they will spend their offseason reviewing tape and working on their lack of black guys. Maybe I should invite Phile phriend and regular Jeff to the Phile to ask him about March Madness. Moving on...  A 28-year-old woman from Serbia has a rare brain condition where she sees everything upside down. The good news? She's now been given a job at the White House as President Obama's economic adviser.  The U.S. Senate is now fighting to keep open the Senate barber shop. It loses $350,000 a year. Do you know what that makes it? The most successful government program ever. It’s losing only $350,000 a year.  The island nation of Cyprus is now considering a 10 percent tax on every individual savings account in that country. They'll take 10 percent of your money right out of the bank. To which President Obama said: "You can do that?"  Well, it seems the new Pope is doing a good job. The Pope is urging compassion for those less fortunate. Of course, that means the poor, the indigent, and the oppressed. And also Carnival cruise passengers.  Have you seen the new show "Bates Motel"?  It was very suspenseful. The whole time watching it I was thinking, "Will that guy get stabbed? Will he survive to see the next week?" I'm sorry, that's while I was watching "The Tonight Show." I have a problem with "Bates Motel." It's set in the present day. I don't like that. I don't want to see Norman Bates texting, "OMG, mom just stabbed somebody."  Justin Bieber says he's growing a mustache. He's going to post the finished result on Twitter, assuming Twitter still exists in the year 2050.  It's Spring, kids, although you would not know it if you live in New England or wherever heavy snow is falling again. Do you remember that groundhog that said we'd have an early winter and early spring? We should eat him. Someone has to pay for this. It is so windy here in Central Florida right  now. We have a palm tree right outside the window that keeps swinging and hitting it. It's very distracting and annoying. Here, take a look.

I'm trying to do a blog here, you stupid tree. Where was I? Og, yeah, spring. For many colleges, this is spring break. College kids will go to places like South Beach to make mistakes they will cherish for a lifetime. Spring break is an important American tradition. It's how we grow a new crop of MTV teen moms.  Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul announced that he supports a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Or as illegal immigrants put it, "Who do you think is going to build that path?"  Kate Middleton revealed that she wants to have a boy, but Prince William is hoping for a girl. However, they both agree that no matter what gender it is, its nanny will love it just the same.  Burger King is now offering a turkey burger on its menu. Or as horses put it, "Nope, still us." I love me some turkey burger. LOL.  Yesterday on the Phile I mentioned that a certain Prince of Darkness on the show looked an awful lot like a certain commander in chief on the History Channel's new series "The Bible". Well, I received some emails from readers who didn't believe me. It''s true. I went back to look at the episode and didn't know that Obama was standing right next to Satan. Take a look!

Have you guys been to Disney World recently? I am so excited, I need to go and ride this. This is not a joke.
It's an Iron Man themed monorail. How freakin' cool! Had to share that.  So, today's pheatured guest, Noel MacNeal, played Knock Knock on "The Great Space Coaster". He was actually the second person to play Knock Knock as John Lovelady left to work on another show. Anyway, in yesterday's entry I showed you a Gary Gnu plush that is going for around 200 dollars on eBay. Well, I thought I would see if there's any Knock Knock merch on eBay and this is what I found.

That's a little bit less. I have no idea why it says Pink Flamingo Ballet. It's Knock Knock for crying out loud. I still don't think I should bid on it. My wife wouldn't understand. Anyway, I also found this on eBay.

That's kinda creepy. And a little pricey. I can't get over the pink flamingo... it's a bloody woodpecker. Stupid eBay seller. Alright, now from the home office in Coasterville, here is...

Top Phive Pitfalls Of Taking Kate Upton To Your Prom
5. It hurts when your classmates nominate you "Most Likey to Never Come This Close to Such a Hot Girl Ever Again in Your Entire Miserable Life. Ever."
4. It's surprisingly tough to pin a corsage onto a bikini top.
3. The unusually sweaty dad takes 1,500 pre-prom pictures.
2. She's pretty dumb, so, you know, there's bound to be some lulls in the conversation.
And the number one pitfall of taking Kate Upton to your prom is...
1. Everyone just automatically assumes it's a "Make a Wish Foundation" thing.

I love La Linea. Okay, so, you guys read comics like I do? I like to invite my good friend Jim Mello who not only is an expert on comics, but works at Coliseum of Comics in Orlando. That's a comic book store by the way. Anyway, here he is. Please welcome to the Phile once again... Jim Mello, in a pheature we call...

Hello, I, Jim Mello, being of sound mind and body and general awesomeness and a willingness to stay up fairly late to read some sexy comic books. In the minutes to come there will be spoilers.
Constantine #1 
"Hellblazer" fans have had a little time to decide if they want to make the jump over to the DCU version of their, probable, favorite comics character with his appearances in what feels like everything these days. The book follows John as a kidnaps a supernaturally sensitive young man named Chris to help him find a compass that leads a person to magical artifacts and happenings in the area around it. Chris is murdered by a wayward sorcerer looking for the compass as well as the series tries to play it as close as it can to its precursor by killing someone close and/or working with John. It was... ehh, I don't know. I enjoyed many a Hellblazer arc over the years, but this book seems to lose whatever special flare the best arcs of that series did to what seems like standard superhero fare with a magic twist. Granted, it's just the first issue, and who knows what'll happen. I'm just not sure I want to stay on to see.
Judge Dredd: Year One #1
Dredd, fresh out of training but pretty much the same Dredd we know, investigates a serious of telekinetic related incidents/murders caused by children in during his first year as a Judge. All the physical elements of Dredd are hear: the lawgiver, the motorcycle, Mega-City One... but the nuances and social commentary of the character are gone. Besides that, Dredd really isn't a character that evolves, and to my understanding the point of a "Year One" type storyline is to explore the growth of a character into what he/she is suppose to become. Well, Dredd really doesn't do "growing" well, so the concept is sort of lost on him. If he was anything other than a black and white motorcycle riding cop that dispenses justice in the form of ultra-violence... he wouldn't be Dredd. Dredd is the ultimate Byronic hero. He came out of the womb holding a lawgiver and wearing a helmet. Otherwise, it is nice to have something to point to when people ask where to start on a the Judge.
Nightwing #18
A "Requiem" tie-in! This one delves in a little to Grayson's feelings over the death of Damian, with a few touching reflective moments and a run in with Batman that seems a little colder than usual. Plus... the return of the infamous Dealer villain from Snyder's Detective run and Tony Zucco... the man who killed Grayson's family. Overall this was a solid tie-in, and gives the Damian mourning reader something extra to read.
Red Hood and the Outlaws #18 
A "Requiem" tie-in! After the events of last issue, Jason is in and out of consciousness... in his dreams he is chased relentlessly by the Joker and waking he has time to wax nostalgic about his times as Robin growing up. Not much about Damian here, minus a somber looking Bruce watching over Jason. Unfortunately, this isn't much of a "Requiem" tie-in.
Star Wars Legacy #1
First question... Who signs Gabriel Hardman to a book and then slaps a crappy cover over his interiors? The world has turned upside down! It's suppose to be the other way! Anyway... Hundreds of years after Han lost his balls in Return of the Jedi, his granddaughter Ania Solo finds the lightsaber of a kidnapped Imperial Knight (they're Jedi, basically), and is set on a course for intergalactic intrigue with her Mon Calamarian friend. This was actually quite the fun little Star Wars romp and coupled with Hardman's fantastic visuals, I say the expanded universe has another comic hit on their hands. Don't let the cover deter them! If people are liking the Wood Star Wars stuff than they'll probably get a kick out of this even without the classic characters.
X-Termination #1
If you are a fan of "Astonishing X-Men" or "X-Treme X-Men", then this book is probably awesome, but for the rest of us not reading the higher tier "I'm really into the X-Men" stuff, it may be a little harder to follow. Spinning out of the events of Remender's "Uncanny X-Force" run... the AXM are after AOA Nightcrawler for his part in Wolverine's murder of Daken. Nightcrawler is hanging out with Dark Best trying to figure out a way back to AOA universe, when scientific Celestial hijinks ensue and the teams are brought together to patch up a cross-dimesnional quandary! This wasn't bad at all and the art was definitely serviceable, but being a big X fan already really helps. Alright, that is it... have a good day.

This is so cool. Today's pheatured guest is a puppeteer, writer, and director of children's television, best known as the voice and puppeteer of Bear in "Bear in the Big Blue House", but "The Great Space Coaster" fans will know him as the second puppeteer to play Knock Knock. He is also the author of "10-Minute Puppets", the 24th book to be pheatured in The Peverett Phile Book Club. Please welcome to the Phile... Noel MacNeal!

Me: Hello, welcome to the Peverett Phile, Noel, it's such a pleasure to have you here. How are you? 

Noel: I’m good. Thanks for having me here.

Me: Okay, it's "The Great Space Coaster" Month and your book "10-Minute Puppets" is in the Peverett Phile Book Club, but first I have to talk about something important... you were BEAR! Oh. My. God. You don't understand, Noel, Bear was around when my son was born (he is now 13) and his room was done with Bear decor. Bear was a big thing back then. I have a picture of you and Bear I have to show.

Me: So, how many pieces of "Bear In the Big Blue House" memorabilia do you have?

Noel: I actually have two pieces from the “house.” The bear table that was in the bathroom and the “bust’ that was on the bookshelf in the living room. In fact, when I saw it on our first day of taping, I wrote “Property of Noel MacNeal” on the bottom. And on the last day, when we wrapped I walked over the shelf, stuck it under my arm and walked off the set.

Me: Nice. Where did Bear go, Noel? Do you think he'll ever come back?

Noel: Well, Bear is still at the Big Blue House and always will be. As for doing new episodes or spin off versions (such as the one I did in 2005 called “Breakfast With Bear”) then the answer is no. It’s done.

Me: That's sad. Did you ever see the Bear stage show at Disney's Hollywood Studios?

Noel: I helped train the Bear puppeteers for it and myself and the rest of the cast (Peter Linz, Vicki Eibner, and Tyler Bunch) got to come see the grand opening at the then Disney-MGM Studios.

Me: So, how was it playing that great character, Noel, and how did you get to be the one to play him? Was it your voice?

Noel: It was to date, the best thing I’ve done professionally. I loved playing Bear especially when he got to appear in the real world (on shows like "Hollywood Squares") and at children’s hospitals. And it was my voice. When I got called to audition for it, it was after I went to Henson to try out for another character for a game show pilot. Then I got a call around 4:00 PM asking to come back to try out for this bear character. He faxed me the lines and the drawing and I looked them over in the cab. When I walked in I was immediately told to use my own voice. Bear was designed to be a show kids and adults would watch together so a simple reassuring voice (unlike Barney’s) was needed. So I got in the prototype, just a foam body and the mock-up foam head and instantly thought how fun this would be. Then I realized it was 5:00 PM, it’s a courtesy call, probably picked the guy. So I thought “What the heck? I’m gonna have fun while I can.” So when the script read that Bear sniffs the camera, I had Bear run up stare into the lens and jammed the nose all the way in. That seemed to work.

Me: Was he a hard character to play?

Noel: Not at all. He was a pleasure. First of all, he was built by the artists of The Jim Henson Workshop here in NYC. And I say artists cause that’s what they are. He was designed from a sketch by Paul Andreco (who’s shop Puppet Heap now has Bear and also takes care of the Muppets). Whenever they asked if I could come in for a fitting during the week I said “I can be there in 20 minutes.” I knew Bear and I would be spending a lot of time together so I wanted to make sure it would be as comfortable as possible. It was also easy do to my preference to body puppets. I’d been every Snuffle-upa-relative on "Sesame Street", Big Bird’s double in the first Sesame movie, Follow That Bird, and then Magellan the Dragon on Nickelodeon’s "Eureeka’s Castle". So as I told Carroll Spinney (Big Bird’s puppeteer) “I’m using every trick you ever taught me.”

Me: You have kids, right, Noel, do they know you were Bear?

Noel: I have one, a son. Currently 7 ½ (going on 42). He figured out I was a puppeteer and what that meant when he and my wife came with me to Jackson, Miss., for the final season of the PBS series "Between the Lions". I got to do the character, Lionel, and Mattie saw this on set. I explained that puppeteers “help” characters move and talk. After that he started asking “who helps Kermit” (my friend Steve), “who helps Grover” (my friend Eric), etc. Then when he was four, he finally asked, “Daddy? Who helps Bear?” I said, “Do you really want to know?” “Yes.” “Okay... me.” He gave me this look and I responded, “Haven’t you ever noticed how my voice and Bear’s voice kinda sound the same?” He then closed his eyes, thought, and then, eyes still closed replied, “Oh yeah!’

Me: All right, I can ask you a million questions about that one show. Maybe one year I'll do a "Bear In the Big Blue House" Month. Noel, where are you from?

Noel: I am a native New Yorker. Born and raised in Central Harlem.

Me: When you were a child, did you want to be a puppeteer?

Noel: That was one of the things I wanted to do, but it did not happen. I had a crap load of puppets, but didn't know where to start. I loved puppets as a kid. I watched "Captain Kangaroo", Shari Lewis, Burr Tilstrom. But then, on Sunday evening, I watched this half-hour show hosted by these two puppets named Ernie & Bert, and they spoke of this new show coming on tomorrow morning called "Sesame Street". After that, I fell in love with the Muppets. Then during high school was "The Muppet Show". That was it. I thought “if this guy Jim Henson can make a living and help make one for all those people with him,” maybe I could too. So I did my college research the old fashion way; the library (which is great; libraries are like Barnes & Noble, but FREE). I located two colleges that offered puppetry: Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and the University of Conn, in Storrs. I had all the info ready. Now time to pitch to my mom. My mom raised me and took care of her mom and uncle who lived with us. She was a single mom (after my father walked out on us when I was 18 months old; but that’s another story). So I told her the two choices I had. “Okay,” she said, “What do we have to do?” I told her the requirements. “Okay, what do we have to do?” I told her the deadlines. “Okay, what do we have to do?” That’s all she kept saying. It’s because she always told me “Don’t get a job, get a career.” And I did.

Me: Did you go to a performance school or take lessons?

Noel: I took singing lessons in my twenties. And my first job after college was being the wrangler (the person who preps the puppets for camera) on "Sesame Street". So I studied and watched Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, and Richard Hunt.

Me: All right, you grew up watching the Muppets and "Sesame Street", Noel. When did you first start to work for Jim Henson?

Noel: I first started on "Sesame" in September of 1982. After being the wrangler on "Sesame", I started to get background parts on the show. Then I was given the part of Madame Chairbird for the Sesame movie Follow That Bird. Then I worked on all kinds of Henson projects such as "The Muppet Meeting Films" (for companies to rent for their meetings) and the pitch pilot for "The Jim Henson Hour", to name two.

Me: What was it like meeting Jim for the first time? I got to meet him once, Noel, I told this story before here on the Phile but I'll tell it to you again... it was when the Muppets were making the special "The Muppets Go To Walt Disney World" and I was in custodial at Epcot. They were filming a scene with Gonzo and Camilla and I was hanging out nearby when Henson himself walked down the hill and asked me if I would move a trash can to the top of the hill. I of course did, they filmed the scene with Gonzo looking in the trash can, and then he said, "You could put it back now. Thanks, Jason" That's the highlight of my 25 year Disney career.

Noel: All I remember is when I shook Jim’s hand, I felt this, corny as it sounds, warmth thru my body. I kept it cool with “nice to meet you” while inside my head I’m screaming “OH MY GOD IT’S JIM HENSON!!!”

Me: Do you remember what the first Muppet character you performed?

Noel: It was on "Sesame Street". Grover was in line at the supermarket, I believe explaining “first” and “last.” I was the check out clerk. Grover finally comes to me and I’m suppose to say “Sorry, sir. This register is closed. There’s another register over there. Thank you.” Instead, I flubbed it with an added “f$&@#!” thrown in. So, the edit ended up with my line as a close-up and finishing out the scene from there.

Me: You worked on a ton of projects, but not just for Henson... you worked on a show I know nothing about, "Eureka's Castle" which you mentioned. Was that for Nickelodeon?

Noel: Yes, it was. It was produced from the profit they made from the series “Double Dare.” It was their first stab at original little kid programming to replace the long-running "Pinwheel" series that was from Canada. The show took place in a castle that was really the music box of a giant. Eurrreka (played by Cheryl Blalock) was a wizard in training (long before Harry Potter) and her friends were (my character) Magellan, a young dragon (a puppet ala Big Bird style), the Moat Twins named Bogg & Quagmire (played by Brian Meehl and Pam Arciero), Mr. Knack the peddler (Brian Meehl), Batly the bat (Jim Kroupa, whose shop at the time, Three Design Studios, built the puppets). Other characters were the Mice and Cooey, Magellan’s pet (played by Lynn Hipen).

Me: How is it working for different studios, Noel? Is it the same thing really as working on a Henson project, "TGSC" or "Eureka's Castle"?

Noel: Everyone is different. Over the years, I’ve learned the saying “my house, my rules” applies to every production and company. "Sesame" set the standard for fun, visual use of puppets. Shows like "Eureeka" and "The Puzzle Place" had to be taught; producers think “it would be fun if it were puppets” but don’t really know what that means having never worked with them. Luckily they had us. 

Me: Is there a show you worked on that you wish you didn't?

Noel: Everyone has a project, or two, they wish they hadn’t, even the best actors such as recent Oscar nominee Ben Affleck apologizing for Daredevil.

Me: So, you played hand puppets and full body puppets, Noel. I asked Jim Martin this question, what do you prefer and what is harder to do? I am guessing the full body one as you have to use your whole body.

Noel: I love the full body ones and for me they aren’t hard. Each has its challenges but I love doing them the most. I just finished a run as an Australavidicor in "Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo" at The New Victory Theater. Scott Wright’s company, Erth, made it and the other amazing dino puppets for the show.

Me: Alright, it's "TGSC" Month here on the Phile, so we better talk about it. Did you have a good time working on that show?

Noel: I did. It was my first “big break.” My first character, and it shows. But everyone was wonderful. We shot it at the old Ed Sullivan Theater well before Dave Letterman moved in. It was cool to think that I was on the same stage that The Beatles appeared on.

Me: What was it like working with the other Jim, Noel? Was he similar to work with than Henson? 

Noel: That was the first time I worked with Jim. He was funny, talented, dedicated and still is. When I was on the one season, Jim had broke his leg, so they had to cut a hole at the bottom of Gary’s desk for his leg to stick thru. But he was still able to bring all the “gnus.”

Me: You came into "TGSC" the last few years of the show, taking over Knock Knock from John Lovelady. Did John pick you for that role?

Noel: No. John had left to be the star puppeteer of the prime time NBC series, "Mr. Smith", about a talking orangutan elected to congress. The producers remembered me when I filled in for Jim at an appearance as Gary so they asked me in to read for Knock Knock.

Me: The character was established already, so how did you go around to learn the voice and characteristics of the puppet?

Noel: I watched the show. I always had. Remember? I loved watching puppet shows. Being an adult didn’t stop me. Also, as a Marx Brothers fan, Knock Knock had a Margret Dumont quality. An older society lady/grand dame.

Me: So, do you have a favorite Knock Knock joke?

Noel: Knock knock!

Me: Who’s there?

Noel: Hannah!

Me: Hannah who?

Noel: Hannah partridge in a pear tree!

Me: I don't get it. Just kidding. I am guessing you didn't have to audition for Knock Knock, right?

Noel: I read for it. They liked that I could do the voice, or come close to it in spirit.

Me: So, did you hear about Jim Martin's preservation campaign to preserve "TGSC"?

Noel: I did. It’s wonderful. So many parents of kids now remember it.

Me: Okay, we have to talk about your book... "10-Minute Puppets". It's not about learning to do puppetry, but to make puppets, right?

Noel: Actually it’s both. I show how easy and quick puppet making can be with added “if you’ve got more time” cause parents rarely do but if so, for added features. I also briefly explan lip-sync, show various easy stage set ups you can put together, and even what shows you can do, for example a song is a performance.

Me: How did you get the idea to write this book?

Noel: It was my wife’s, author Susan Elia MacNeal, idea. She said, “You know how to be a dad and you know how to be a puppeteer. Why not put them together and show people how easy and fun the magic of puppetry can be for a family. But,” she added, “Don’t make it ‘crafty.’ Make it for people like me. You’re not married to Martha Stewart.”

Me: I used to make puppets out of brown paper lunch when I was a kid. You get more complex in the book, Noel. My book would be "1-Minute Puppets". Anyway, does your son make puppets?

Noel: My son had made puppets. That’s why I insisted to the publisher, Workman, that kids and I were needed throughout the book actually playing with the puppets and not left out or to the end with them standing stock still and just holding them.

Me: How long did it take to write the book?

Noel: Nine months.

Me: I was at Michael's recently and I saw it there. I almost bought it to send it to you, so you can sign it, and send it back, but that would be too much hassle for you. How long has the book been out and what has the feedback like?

Noel: First, no hassle. My pleasure. Second, it came out in October of 2010 and the feedback has been 100% positive. Get fan emails, pix on the book’s Facebook page, and reviews from teachers and, even, grand-parents has all been “we love it!” Whew.

Me: So, what projects are you working on now?

Noel: I’m finishing up my second book, “BOX!” about what you can create with boxes and other containers. Globe Pequot is the publisher and it comes out later this year. I also started my own company, MacNeal Entertainment, Inc. The first project was the Halloween show I created for the Bronx Zoo’s Boo-at-the-Zoo celebration last year. I’m seeking to take it else where, for there is a non-Halloween version of it, as well as create a new family show, that will be up and running at Christmas time.

Me: Thanks so much for being here on the Phile, and I hope you'll come back again soon. Go ahead and tell readers where they can get the book, and your website and everything. Take care and all the best, Noel. I hope this was fun, was it?

Noel: Thank you for having me. It was fun! Now for the shameless plug. For more info about me and my book "10-Minute Puppets" go to:, Cheers, y’all!

Me: Thanks, Noel, and please come back.

That was great! I never thought I would interview the guy who played Bear! Bear is one of my favorite Henson characters ever. It's a shame he won't come back. And I was serious of making a month "Bear In the Big Blue House" Month. Hmmmm. Anyway, thanks to my guests Jim Mello and of course Noel MacNeal, and I can't forget to thank Tanslin Media. The Phile will be back tomorrow with parody songwriter The Fresh Topping, and then next Saturday with Gary Gnu. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Strawberry Blondes Forever!