Let me introduce the puppets in chronological order: from the first teddy bear to the newest member of the group.
As a child, I only played with stuffed animals, and truly hated dolls (still find them mildly creepy). I thought my teddy bears were alive, and made sure they were comfortably tucked in bed with me every night, only to find them all on the floor the next morning... I think I move a lot when I sleep...
My mother's mother gave me Didine when I was a year old, which makes her (mumble mumble) years old. My uncle, who was fairly close to my age, somehow hated teddy bear noses... He ripped her nose off, and smeared her face with make-up. So Didine has a very distinct look! I took that bear everywhere. My mother jokingly said one day that Didine was silly, which infuriated me so much that I didn't talk to her for hours! I was already super easy-going...
Didine plays the sophisticated French lady with a strong Parisian accent (think Catherine Deneuve). She's been the Wise Woman in Moosterpiece Theater, and Heidi Klum in Puppet Runway.
When my birthday comes around, I never really know what I want (for gifts, that is). For years, I would joke that I wanted a pony, and lo and behold, one year, I got one! Now, what I want for my birthday are cheap cigarettes, and a donation to the Bail Project. Your choice.
Ponie is filled with child-like wonder: his large shiny eyes always make him look slightly anxious about what's about to happen. He speaks in squeaks only, and since meeting Penguie and Sheepie, is becoming slightly more assertive. He was Cow's model in Puppet Runway, a soldier in Carmoon, and dangled from the ceiling in Moosterpiece Theater.
Dan likes to sleep with a zillion pillows, carefully arranged around his body. When we first started dating, I simply didn't own a zillion pillows for him to be comfortable overnight... He spotted a stuffed animal, Dog, I had just bought as a gift for a friend's newborn. He was such a good substitute for a pillow... I had to go buy a second dog to send to my friend, and the real Dog stayed with us. We now own a zillion pillows, and Dog has been free to pursue his acting career.
Dog sometimes has a hard time expressing himself. He'll grunt his approval and disapproval, and may form a coherent sentence, until he gets too excited and reverts to barking... He herded Sheepie in Moosterpiece Theater, danced with Scarfie in Carmoon (and herded all the puppets off stage when Covie popped up), and was part of the protest preparation in Notorious P.I.G.
Tag and Elefant
Much ink has been spilled about Tag and Elefant. Elefant was intended as a gift for Dan's nephew, Cooper, and so was Tag. They never made it to Cooper's house because we started playing with them, and got attached. However (we are not monsters here), I did manage to order a third elephant that was shipped directly to Cooper. We would otherwise have a house full of blue elephants... You can read more about their stories on their dedicated (very old) website: whyyouarenotgettingyourelephant.com
I also wrote a children's book about the two brothers: The Secret Elephant.
Elefant is a very good boy, though he can be persuaded to misbehave. Tag is the charming mischievous brother. They are always together, and are constantly trying to convince us to buy more elephants.
The Teddies (a.k.a Teddy 1 and Teddy 2)
When I was writing and illustrating The Secret Elephant, Tag and Elefant needed their own teddy bears to go to bed, and I needed to find really small bears to use as models. It was thankfully around graduation time, and I found gift bags for graduating seniors, with tiny bears inside. So the teddies came to our home as the Elephants' teddy bears... The teddies are, quite honestly, spoiled children. They disobey and talk back. But I now know better than to discipline other people's children, and since they're the sole responsibility of Tag and Elefant, we will simply suffer their bad manners.
The Teddies first appear in the PSA Family Dinner, where they SAT in their food! They next invaded the set of Moosterpiece Theater, and were spotted on the balcony of Carmoon's set.
In 2008, we took Tag and Elefant to Maine for the holidays. And there... we fell in love with Cow and Pig. Originally abandoned by (ungrateful) children, who knows where Cow and Pig truly come from?... Ok, I think they're part of a kid's party place that has some sort of theater show to entertain the children. The point is, it was a snowy and cold vacation, and we entertained ourselves with the puppets. However, when we got back to Brooklyn, we actually missed them! So taking a deep breath, and knowing that we were going to look like crazy people, we asked Dan's mother to ship the puppets to our house...
Cow is good-natured, and very mootherly. She never lost her Cow accent, though she's been in Brooklyn for over 12 years. She's usually the voice of reason... and has lately becomoo very political.
Pig and Cow are an inseparable pair (see story above). A great source of our entertainment was to have Pig and Cow interact during our cold stay in Maine. Also, Dan has always wanted to have a pet pig, which is not quite possible in a city apartment, so Pig became the logical substitute...
Pig found his voice very early, and we thought we could feed him enough upon his move to Brooklyn. It turns out, Pig is just always hungry, but he has proven to be an amazing addition to our household. Pig is very good-natured, and gets along with everyone. His uncle (Uncle Louie) tends to be at the center of most of his stories, probably because Uncle Louie burnt himself once, and Pig claims, invented bacon.
By the way, this is the drawing I made while we were waiting
for their delivery (or what I call, an MFA put to good use).
And yes... that's Pig and Cow crossing the Brooklyn Bridge.
There was even a little song that went with it... mentioning lost luggage in the East river, and being hungry.
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Penguie... was rescued from a trash can! He was a corporate gift to ungrateful employees (if I recall correctly an insurance company), Dan spotted Penguie in a trash can a few doors from our house, and felt an immediate affinity. Penguie has a law degree (from an online university, which we don't believe is accredited, though we could be wrong). Penguie only speaks Penguin, a series of Meeps that can actually be understood if you are using the correct tones.
Penguie is a serious guy, always wears a red tie, and tends to be cast in roles that require a quiet dignity. He played Tim Gunn in Puppet Runway, a self-proclaimed General in Carmoon, and started his acting career as an extra on the set of Moosterpiece Theater.
In 2011, I was invited to participate in SculptFest at the Carving Studio & Sculpture Center in Vermont. I installed the artwork early, and had a free day to explore the area. The Vermont State Fair had just started, and I walked around eating ice cream, watching 4H competitions, and playing carnival games. At one of those "hit all the bottles with a baseball" type game... I won Moonie (and her sister which I gifted to a friend). Of course, I didn't knock all the bottles... the booth attendant was bored, there were very few people at the fair, and I charmed (paid) my way into getting the two little cows... because Cow needed a friend back in Brooklyn.
Moonie is a little shy, and speaks in a very soft voice. She was the star of her own segment in a previous project (and I just realized that I used to spell her name differently, oh well!): Introducing: Mooni! Or, how you can't have enough cows in your house
Sheepie is one of the few puppets we actually purchased. We take a vacation about every 5 years, and when we went to Ireland in 2013, I wanted to take a sheep back, of course.
I grew up in France, at the time of The Troubles, and I associated Belfast with... bombs. So when Dan suggested we spent some of our vacation in Northern Ireland, I thought, is he crazy?? But I actually loved Belfast! We got stuck behind the peace walls (you should Google that), ate the most amazing seafood, and went to the highly recommended Ulster Museum, where I learned A LOT about the colonization of Northern Ireland.
Sheepie is very proud of his hometown, Belfast, and tends to be a little (lot) foul-mouthed. He's not afraid to fight for what's right, and we adore him.
My neighborhood has this pharmacy with amazing toys in its window display. I kept seeing this stuffed bull in the window, and thought Cow would love to have another friend. One day, I decided to buy this little bull, and grabbed the box from the display... promptly making all the toys tumble to the floor! The pharmacist glared at me, and scowled a "you should ask first". That same winter, I went back to the pharmacy, and saw this charming holiday set, with magnetized figurines ice skating around. Mesmerized, I picked up several figures to see how the whole thing worked... which screwed up the synchronicity of the ice skaters, making them forever bump into each other. I am now banned from that pharmacy.
Scarfie is sometimes a bull, sometimes a cow, depending on my scripts. He/she was Pig's model on Puppet Runway, and danced with Dog to the tune of the Habanera in Carmoon. Scarfie is very easy going, and I suspect he/she might be a bit of a hippie...
Well, it was bound to happen: neither of us can remember where we got Wormie. It could be in Coney Island, where we try to go every year to ride the Cyclone (and we have learned you really shouldn't ride the Cyclone 3 times in a row... we did get sick one year doing just that).
Wormie is not a worm at all, but actually a giraffe with a worm-like body. Wormie is super happy, and tends to just say "Weeeeee" over and over again, while spinning around. Wormie has a full career doing background work, and appeared in Moosterpiece Theater, and Carmoon, where I had to bend him in half to fit in the balcony... I think he was ok with that...
Toadie the Roadie
Toadie's real name is Harrison Frog, and belongs to our friends Paul and Jenn. Paul and Dan are currently working on several online projects together, and Paul sent a camera to Dan. The box seemed to have been lost by the post office, and Paul seemed extremely concerned... That was because Harrison Frog had decided to ship himself to Brooklyn, resume in hand, to be part of the Cow and Covid19 Don't Lose Your Sh*t YouTube channel!
Harrison was immediately hired (he has an impressive resume), and was cast in the role of Toadie the Roadie, the nervous stage manager. He made his debut in Puppet Runway, and made sure everyone wore a mask in Carmoon. I can't wait to see what he will do next.
I wanted to make my own puppets, and watched YouTube videos on how to make them. It turns out, there's a lot of sewing, which is not my cup of tea. As a matter of fact, I'm convinced all sewing machines are against me, in a weird sewing machine global conspiracy. I know how to crochet, though, so when I needed to have the COVID19 virus make an appearance, I felt I could use those skills to make one of the creepiest puppets we own.
Covie is definitely the ultimate uninvited guest... The one that will totally spoil your party. Covie did just that in Carmoon, and actually sneezed on the singers on stage! How rude! Covie may or may not appear again... If we all wear our masks, Covie might just go away, you know?!