Thursday, December 30, 2010

2011 Goals and Lots of Lists

Seeing that it is almost New Years, I would like to share with you my goals for Seas of Science in 2011.  My main goal this year is to put on a stage production by October or November. The show will be comprised of 2, ~20 minute episodes (of which one is already written about photosynthesis), an intermission, and a live band set. That, OR 1 ~20 minute episode, 1 live science experiment, an intermission and a live band set. I figure that will be about an hour+.  I want the show to be on Saturdays and Sundays during the daytime so parents can bring their kids.

The quarterly breakdown goes like this:
  • 1st Quarter (Jan1-March31): design and hand off puppets to be constructed
  • 2nd Quarter (April1-June30): Finish second episode – Rocks and Volcanoes 
  • 3rd Quarter (July1-Sept30):
    • Get actors
    • Get Puppeteers
    • Build sets
    • Make Barry’s costume
  • 4th Quarter (Oct1-Dec31): PUT ON SHOW
Here’s some lists of stuff to build/find/sew/create:

  • Sergio
  • 4 – 8 small Backup Marine Band - marine life (fish, clams, octopus, etc.
  • 4 – 6 small simple flower puppets (for a scene in the photosynthesis episode)
  • One big monster butterfly puppet
  • Rock tribe for 2nd episode (maybe make as a BUNCH 30+ cardboard cutouts on sticks)

  • Barry. I was thinking about me playing Barry because the robot costume is going to be a such a bummer to navigate. There will be limited visibility and transparencies that will have to be changed out from inside the costume. It'll get hot and claustrophobic. I would feel bad making someone else do this so I might wind up doing it myself.
  • Barnacle News Hour paper mache heads
  • The Crew. I was thinking of taping my good friend Rachel Piplica, owner of IRON DOLL CLOTHING, for this task. Rachel has a really creative mind for clothing design and has made some pretty awesome derby uniforms. I would love to see what she thinks about making something that's a spin off of these guys, Los Shapis, one of my favorite Cumbia bands. Check out those outfits, they’re so good:


  • Marisol
  • Lily
  • Sophia
  • Rodger
  • Captain

  • Galley inside the ship
  • Forest backdrop, can be very simple like painted panels/butcher paper w/ fake plants around

  • I feel I will only need one really good puppeteer to deal with Sergio. Everything else can be manned by people that want to participate since they'll be simple hand puppetts. All of you are invited!

I'll continue updating this blog regularly because it keeps me motivated to spend time on this project. To scan in drawings, share with you how the script writing is going or what I’m stuck on, and continue to share Inspirado as I find it. I’m super excited about the upcoming year. I think 2011 will be a lot of hard work, but also a lot of fun. And thank you all for the positive feed back you've already given SOS! Much appreciated.

Happy New Year everyone!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Introducing: Lily

Lily is the most rambunctious member of the science Crew and is prone to pranks and boisterous behavior.  Her area of expertise is oceanography.  Specifically, deep water observation.  Lily singlehandedly captured photographs of 213 previously unknown deep water fishes, including the manta beans of the Red Sea, the monkey eel of the Galapagos and the deep water mouth-breathing gaper cod off the coast of Saigon (*).  As a post doctorate at the Alfred Wegner Insittue for Polar and Marine Research (**), Lily was set to propose her new work for time-lapse photography in the Mariana Trench that could potentially capture more deep sea fauna on film than ever before.  Her proposal, however, was rejected.  Distraught over her lack of funding, Lily decided to leave academia for a life aboard the HMS Unknown. But not before she pulled one final prank on the funding committee by filling all their desk drawers with very live (and very annoyed) purple pincher crabs.

Lily's area of expertise encompases all aspects of oceanography - wave dynamics, ocean circulation, and ocean chemistry to name a few.  She lends a rowdy enthusiasm to each expedition the HMS Unknown undertakes.  As mischevious as she is intelligent, Lily fits right in amongst the cast and Crew of Seas of Science.

Likes: pulling one over on smug bourgeois, any sports game where she can yell, playing cards with Sergio, and the monstrous creatures of the deep sea
Dislikes: dissapointment

(*) these are made-up sea creatures
(**) this is not a made-up institute

Monday, December 20, 2010

Science Lesson #6: Electromagnetic Waves

In this lesson, students learn all about the various behavior and properties of electromagnetic waves.

Electromagnetic waves include waves of light and the colors that we see along with gamma ray, x-rays, ultra violet and infrared radiation, and microwaves. All these waves are made up of quanta, which is the scientific term for packets of energy. Photon is also an important vocabulary word for this episode. A photon is the unit of light or electromagnetic radiation. It's also the name of my friend Ben's old band!

The science discussion throughout this episode can include the following ideas:

- what is a photon? why are they important to know about
- the relationship between photons, color, wavelength, and energy
- types of electromagnetic radiation (see above)
- why we see colors the way we do
- quanta = packets of energy
- how we can relate color to energy in far away objects like stars

I was thinking that for the character part of this episode, the Crew aboard the ship are going on vacation to California. Venice beach, exactly. They're all excited about going on vacation and this can have a lot of gags with goofy swim suits and beach stuff. Sergio finds a pair of heart-shaped sunglasses (that fit his heart-shaped eyes perfectly) that let him see things all weird and psychedelic when he looks through them. This can lead into a conversation about why we see colors the way we do and so on and so forth into the science lesson on E&M waves. Sergio loves the glasses but everyone else that tries them on can't tell any difference. I keep thinking of that John Carpenter movie They Live but without super scary alien/skeleton/mind control angle.  Maybe it would be really funny if the episode DOES turn into a They Live spoof, with silly puppets and shennanigans going on behind Sergio's glasses. The weirdness in the world of Sergios glasses crescendos throughout the episode so that by the end he wants nothing to do with the glasses anymore. Ha, yes. I like this idea.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Inspirado: Echo Park Film Center

Last night I went to an event put on by the Echo Park Film Center at the Downtown Independent Theater. It was called The Sound We See. The film was a 24 minute look at Los Angeles, with each minute of the film representing an hour of the day. It was so wonderful! The best part was it was created by the youth students who take classes at the center. The group of young filmmakers (37 in total) were partnered up and assigned sections of the city to go out and film with 16mm cameras.  The film did such a great job encompassing the vibes of the different parts of LA – from the industrial parts of Vernon, to late night Chinatown, to sunny MacAurther Park, to evening rush hour on the 10, to night roller skating in Glendale. The film itself had no sound, but there was a live band playing in the theater as the film was shown, making music that went along with the visuals. There was a Q&A with all 37 filmmakers at the end of the screening which was just delightful. The young filmmakers were so genuine with their answers. Some you could tell were nervous, others were overly boisterous, and there were more than a few “AWWW CUTE” moments as they answered questions from the audience.  I really didn’t know what I was walking into when I agreed to join my friends for the screening. I’m so glad I went. 

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the Echo Park Film Center. It’s been brought up in more than a few conversations as a place I should look into for help with Seas Of Science. I love that it is run by people who are stoked on what they do and more stoked about sharing their passion with other people. I met Paulo and Lisa last night briefly, but they were more than busy sorting out their show. But in the brief moments I was introduced they were so nice!

I’m going to a puppet show put on by the center next Sunday. I’m excited to see it (I missed it last year) and maybe I’ll get the chance to meet and talk to of some of the people behind the show and the center. It is places like the Echo Park Film Center that make me think putting on a show like Seas of Science isn't shear insanity. That it's totally do-able with enough patience, tenacity, and the right resources behind it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Exciting news! The lovely and talented Ms. Jenny Comperda has designed several ADORABLE logos for SOS. Check 'em out!

So cute! I'm having a hard time deciding which one I like the best...we may just have to use them all. I especially like the idea we tossed around of animating each logo, like having the wind blowing the letters in the middle one, or the tentacles reaching up and grabbing the logo in the top one. The whale spout is I think my fav. I could just imagine it animated with the spout lifting up the letters and the little atom symbol whirling around.

Big thanks to Jenny Comperda! J2, you are totally hired as my head graphic designer!

Introducing: Barnacle News Network

This is one I like a lot. From time to time, the characters on board the HMS Unknown find themselves watching news reports that may lead into the episode's science lesson. The news program is called Barnacle News Network (BNN). The news anchors are played by actors wearing paper mache Barnacle puppet heads. The program is in the style of a typical local news show. Maybe throw in a pretty lady Barnacle who does the weather or a Barnacle sports report. I think having this segment available as a vehicle for segways or a cut away would be really helpful. If ever there's a time the discussion lags, we can always throw in a Barnacle News report!

Originally, I wanted to call this the Barnacle Brothers News Hour as a shout out to the Barnacle Bros. fabrication studio here in Los Angeles. I think it would be funny if all the Barnacle anchors are related, then the banter can be like, "Back to you, brother barnacle." and "Thank you, brother barnacle. On to tonight's top story..." or other stuff like that. The shop itself is run by a cool dude who goes by the name of Smilee Barnacle. They make some really fun stuff, check 'em out!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Inspirado: The Mighty Boosh

The Mighty Boosh has pretty much been one of my favorite things since ever since it was introduced to me last year. It's a show that's difficult to explain to people who have not seen it. Some people hate it or absolutely do not get it. I think it's brilliant. The comedy aside, I love the way this show looks. The vibrant colors and lighting, costumes and background. The show has a style all of it's own.

Something that struck me about this show is that it's not just silly for the sake of nonsense. Silly, yes, but there are rules to which the characters abide even though the world they live in is fantasy. Maybe the only boundaries are defined by the behavior of the character himself (i.e: how will So-And-So react to this?). This is a notion I think about a lot with Seas Of Science and why it is important to me to flush out the world before moving forward. The characters have to be complete, with likes and dislikes that define how they will react in all sorts of situations.

One of my favorite gags in the show is at 1:03 in this clip:

That KILLS me every time! What gets me is that for a gag that takes 2 seconds, a costume designer had to design that costume, cut fabric and sew the thing together, THEN that actor had to sit in a makeup chair for at least maybe an hour (?) to get that Naan bread costume put on him. Painstaking and totally worth it.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Science Lesson #5: Density

The density lab was one of my favorite labs to teach when I was a TA. The lab exercises were simple: One bowl of water with different sized blocks all made out of the same type of wood. With all the blocks floating in the water, students were asked to examine the % above water and % below water. They found out it was the same percentage regardless of the size of the block, therefore all the blocks have the same density. Simple and effective!

Density might seems like a dry subject for a kid's show, but it's such an integral concept in science. It's hard to move on to larger topics without first laying the foundation. Here are some ideas of what to touch on in this episode.

- Density formula: density = mass per unit volume
- What is mass? Emphasize that it is different than weight
- What is volume? Describe simply
- Density explains why things sink or float in water
- How density changes when materials change phase (solid, liquid, gas)
- Archimedes story about the bath water rising - water displacement is associated with density
- Talk about the unique property of water: that the solid is less dense than the liquid, is why ice floats
- Comparing density of other substances: rocks, metals, gases (some sink b/c heavier than air)

I want this episode to introduce the geography of the imaginary world of the HMS Unknown. The episode starts out with the Crew watching a news report that the residents of a peninsula attached to the continent of New Kittyland (go with me on this) are concerned about recent earthquakes. They think that since their peninsula is attached to the continent by a small strip of land that it could break free in a large earthquake and sink into the sea. The residents of New Kittyland are woefully uninformed about how density works, therefore the crew of the HMS Unknown must travel to this distant land to calm their fears. The Captain and Crew teach Marisol about density on the way there.

I'm thinking this episode also needs some interpersonal drama. I hesitate to put a lot of romance stuff in because it is still a kid's show, but even the Muppets had some romance! We find out that Rodger is sweet on Sophia who totally does not reciprocate his affection. In fact, all this amorous gestures tend to confuse Sophia more than titillate her. I like that idea. It could make for some very silly gags.