Sunday, July 17, 2011

Awesome Archibald Jones

I am currently reading a book by animator Don Hahn. He’s best known for his work with the Disney Studios. Most recently he produced and directed the documentary “Waking Sleeping Beauty”. It’s a film that uses home movies filmed by the actual animators to tell the story of the Disney animation studio in the 10 years spanning 1985-1995.

The book is called “Brain Storm”. It’s about tapping into and cultivating creativity. I haven’t finished ¼ of it yet but I’ve already learned some things that will change the way I approach being creative from now on.

A couple of the things that Hahn writes about are: 1) A creative effort is like a piece of modeling clay that is molded and shaped in many different ways as well as added to and carved before it reaches its completion. 2) A creative person should be open to discovering ideas and inspiration for developing a creative project from any and all sources.

A recent object lesson I used for the Children’s Sermon at my church is an illustration of both of these principals.

The puppet you see above is the latest character to make his debut in my "act". His name is Awesome Archibald Jones. 
It's taken almost 3 years for me to come up with a personality for Archie. But his story and the lesson he helped teach the kids at Oakland Baptist came as a result of combining several ideas and influences.
Since he's a small puppet I chose to make his first name "Archibald" after Nate "Tiny" Archibald the 6ft 1 inch tall basketball player who played in the NBA from 1970 to 1984. 
His last name "Jones" is a tribute to the song "Basketball Jones" a 1974 novelty song by the comedy duo, Cheech & Chong.
His personality, attitude and message have yet another set of influences.  
The "Awesome" part comes from the little inside joke that goes on between my son and daughter in law. It revolves around the hyperbolas claims by Michael that he is "Awesome" and Heather's continuous denial of said claim. I won't go into it much here but you can read my January 6, 2011 post (Christmas Memories Pt. 4) for more details.
Archie is an awesome basketball player. Don't believe it? Just ask him. He's always ready to bombastically give you his "point of view" play by play from his latest heroic game performance. All of it punctuated with his trademark head throwback proclaiming that it's all because he's "Awesome".
His voice and enunciation is inspired by a character I used to hear on the Soupy Sales midday radio show on station WNBC out of New York during the mid 90's.
The spiritual object lesson I present , which I won't give away completely in case you get to meet Archie in person some day, teaches the Biblical truth that God is responsible for all that happens in our lives. I got the idea for it based on a similar message used by ventriloquist David Pendelton when I saw him in Beaver Dam, Kentucky a couple of years ago. The actions that help illustrate this lesson are a "break the illusion" approach to puppetry I have learned from ventriloquist Taylor Mason.
I've now presented "Awesome Archibald Jones" twice, once in my home church and again during VBS at the Community Church at Cedar Springs. Both performances were met with very positive responses. .
Now that he has a name, personality, and a voice Awesome Archibald Jones has room to grow and develop as a character. It took some time but the recipe of ingredients that make Archie who he is has finally come together. He is now a permanent part of my ministry. He's a great example of how God uses the creative process to give us what we need to connect with and teach people. And that's "Awesome."

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