Thursday, October 27, 2011

Candle Cove: The Frozen Prince

Saw another Candle Cove Episode today. This one was . . . depressing and creepy and I'm still surprised parents let their kids watch this stuff.

Pirate Percy still hasn't found Janice so this episode he decides to go ask the Frozen Prince. If this guy is anywhere near as scary as the Triangle Man was I don't blame him for not wanting to talk to the man. Anyway, they sailed north for the Winter Court, eventually reaching a sea filled with chunks of ice. A normal boat might have had a hole punched in it's hull and sank in those icy waters but the Laughingstock's jaws crunched through the ice in its path. I wish they'd used a different sound effect though, every time her jaws crunched shut on an ice burg it sounded like more like bones breaking than crunching ice. The Laughingstock sailed to the coast and ran herself up onto shore because there was no dock and Percy, bundled up in what looked like at least three sweaters and four pairs of long johns disembarked. You could barely see his porcelain face under the three knit hats and pair of earmuffs.

I would have thought he looked silly if not for how cold the landscape looked. As far as the eye could see was nothing but white. A wind swept plain of snow and ice dotted with the occasional little hill. No snow was falling at the time, but gusts of wind would blow snow directly into his face and at the camera. Off in the distance were some large lumbering shapes spread out over the plain, but the blowing snow made them hard to see clearly. The sun (which looked so pale and far away) glinted off something in the distance and that was the way poor Percy headed. This is also only the second time I've ever heard the calliope music that constantly plays as the sound track stop. The second he stepped off the Laughingstock it was replaced with the sound of howling wind.

Again I have to compliment the puppeteer who works Percy. Not only did they manage to capture a sense of dogged determination in his trudging across the wind swept tundra they managed to make it look like he was shivering without tangling the strings. He trudged on for what must have been miles (in the usual TV montage way) occasionally having to climb over small oddly shaped hills. The lumbering shapes were oddly cute animals about the size of a small elephant. They looked kind of like a cross between Snuffleupagus and a yak. Every now and then Percy would walk past one and it would make a sad sound somewhere between a moan and a sigh and trudge on. Even with all their fur they looked so cold, and somehow lonely. They were kind of depressing. Then I found out what the little hills he'd been climbing over were. Percy walked past one of the creatures and it let out that little moan/sigh and fell to the ground. As Percy trudged on the wind blew snow over the poor critter and eventually it looked like all the other little hills. It was macabre how the camera lingered on the thing freezing to death and being covered in snow. I mean, I know my generation watched a Tauntaun freeze to death and get sliced open by Han to save Luke's life. And we watched Atreyu's horse sink into the swamp. I get that shows and movies for kids are often more macabre and depressing than we would expect sometimes, but this seemed worse somehow.

Eventually that gleam in the distance becomes a castle made of ice. At first it looks very magical and Disney, but as Percy gets closer and closer it looks more icy and foreboding than magical. There are shapes in the ice that look like they might be those creatures from the plains, and other smaller shapes. Ones that might be people. If a fairy queen lived here she'd be the kind who lays evil curses on babies at their christening. If a princess were in the castle she'd be in need of rescue. Eventually Percy makes it to the gate, he reaches out to knock and slips on a patch of ice and falls on his butt. From inside the castle someone giggles and then says "Three children sliding on the ice,   upon a summer's day. As it fell out, they all fell in, the rest they ran away. Oh, had these children been at school, or sliding on dry ground, ten thousand pounds to one penny They had not then been drowned."
Percy replied, stuttering with the cold as well as his usual fear I think, "Y-your high-highness. I-I need to ask you a qu-question please."

The gate opened and I was surprised to see a little boy, younger than my students I think, who looked like he was made entirely of ice. It was an excellent makeup job, you could tell he wasn't CGI or a puppet. "Percy!" he said "Did your Queen send you here to play with me?" "N-no your Highness. It's J-j-janice, we can't find her anywhere! Do you know where she is?" "No Percy, I haven't seen her. If you find her though you should bring her here to play! She can be my princess and we can make you a snowman!"

Now, I still don't know how they get Percy's porcelain face to make expressions (maybe they switch off the camera and change heads?) but from the terrified look on his face the kid wasn't talking about making a snowman for Percy. "Wh-when I f-find her I'll ask if she wants to come play." Percy told him and he turned around to trudge back to the Laughingstock. The ice boy closed the gate and began whistling "Pop goes the weasel" as Percy walked away.

Between the poor animals freezing to death and the ice boy (or as Percy called him at the beginning "the Frozen Prince" that was a very creepy episode. I really hope Janice doesn't have to go back and play with him after Percy finds her again. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

That's a relief, sort of.

Well, good news about Alex I guess. We don't think he's being abused anymore. Thursday he came to school with what looked like some pretty nasty gouges on his arm. Of course I brought him to the office and the principal called protective services. He kept insisting the monster in his closet was responsible but that's just silly. Obviously we were worried one of his parents had done it and he was covering for him. Well, after social services looked into it and had a doctor check him out the determination was that it was more likely that the gouges were self inflicted. Probably during a nightmare about the monster in his closet which is why he blames it. I'm still a little worried about him but his parents are getting him into therapy to deal with this closet monster issue.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Evan's in trouble again.

Where to start . . . Well first of all Jennifer politely asked him if she could borrow his pencil eraser and he told her to "Shut the fuck up". He got a time out for that, Jennifer was really broken up. I held him back from recess a few minutes to ask him why he would say that to her and he said that she'd been whispering about him behind his back all through class. All the kids had been, couldn't I hear them? I told him I'd try to listen more closely and see if I could catch anyone saying bad things about him but that it was still no excuse for that sort of language. I'm nearly certain though that he's either making it up as an excuse or simply mistaken.

Then I sent him out to play. Not five minutes later one of the teachers supervising the playground brought him back in along with Jeff, Jay, and Michal. Apparently he'd tried to take all three of them on. According to them they'd been minding their own business kicking a soccer ball around and he just came in and started swinging. According to Evan they had insulted him for being poor. They all fought back so due to the schools zero tolerance (more like zero intelligence sometimes) policies all four are suspended for the next three school days.

I'm calling Evan's parents in for a conference. That boy needs counseling or something. 

There's also a situation with Alex but it's delicate and I don't want to go into it here until I know more.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Candle Cove: the Triangle Man

I caught another episode of Candle Cove after school today. I'm not sure how the kids in my class watch this without nightmares, this episode scared me a little. Pirate Percy is still searching for Janice, one step ahead of Horace Horrible and the Skin-Taker, and he's decided to ask the Lords and Ladies of the Realm if they know where to find her. I don't remember any Lords and Ladies of the Realm when I watched in the 80's, they must be new characters added for this arc where they're looking for Janice. The first one he decided to ask was someone called the Triangle Man. I thought it was funny how frightened Percy was of someone I expected to fight with Particle Man. Then the Laughingstock docked at the Triangle Mans home and I wasn't laughing anymore. It was one of the scariest graveyards I've ever seen, cyclopian crumbling tombs as far as the eye could see shrouded in dense fog and dead silence. They even stopped playing the Calliope music that's always playing in the background, and they didn't even stop that for the infamous screaming episode! Percy was scared to go in the graveyard and I didn't blame him. Kids must watch this from behind the couch like they do scary episodes of Doctor Who.

The Laughingstock of course told Percy what she always does “you have…to go…INSIDE.” And like always Percy screwed up his courage and went in. I don't know how a marionette with a porcelain dolls head can look terrified but he managed it. Percy crept slowly through the graveyard, whoever was working the strings had to be really good to make him shiver and quake so realisticly as he walked. Man, they must have blown what was left of their budget after that spectacular set on the actors! The graveyard was full of famous dead people. Everyone of them looked exactly like the person they were playing too. I saw JFK, Marylin Monroe, Jimmy Hendrix, they even found look-a-likes for Kurt Cobain and Steve Jobs! Not sure why they used so many people children in the target audience wouldn't recognize though. And it really surprises me how they manage to make the puppets look as big as real people. I mean I'd understand if it were a suit like Big Bird, but Percy and the others a clearly marionettes. No one could work a marionette the size of a person, could they? Oh, I nearly forgot. It wasn't just people in the graveyard. The puppet they used for Milo in the old episodes was there too. Anyone out there who watched the older episodes might remember him as Percy's rival who took Horace's job for a while. In his last appearance it was implied that the Skin-Taker killed him.

Anyway, one of the ghosts would show up, glare at Percy in silent rage, and then fade back into the mist. Percy looked like he was about to give up several times but he said to himself “N-no. I have to do this . . . for Janice. She's . . . she's counting on me. I have to . . . be brave.” and he would go on. I felt so sorry for the poor guy and a little afraid for Janice, he sounded so worried about her. Eventually he reached a huge ancient looking tomb in the center of the graveyard. He looked ready to give up and run back to the Laughingstock but he screwed his courage up one more time and knocked. The door opened with a screech, not just your standard haunted house squeaky hinge from a cartoon it sounded like the gates of Hell itself needed their hinges oiled. Inside was the Triangle man. I thought for a minute they borrowed the costume from “The Empty Child” and “The Doctor Dances”. If you watch Doctor Who you probably know what I mean, those scary zombie like things with the gas masks on. But this one didn't look like you could just send him to his room. Behind him on the wall, etched in gold were a pair of triangles interlocked so they almost looked like an hour glass. He glared at Percy and coldly asked “Why have you come to my Realm servant of the Puppet Queen? Her minions are not welcome here, this place is only for those who have embraced me. Here I am alone.”

Percy stammered “S-s-sir. I-I was hoping that . . . that you might know what happened to Janice. Where I can find her . . .”

Silence puppet!” the Triangle Man demanded. “I do not know where your Janice is but she would be better off embracing me than serving your Queen. All must embrace me in the end. Begone from my realm now or their will be war between your Queen and I.”

Percy burst into tears and ran out of the tomb and back to the Laughingstock. I don't know how they did it but I saw real tears on his porcelain face. When he got back to the boat she asked “did . . . you . . . find her?” Poor Percy told her that no they had to keep looking, he looked so depressed. It's amazing how emotive they can make a marionette. They set off to find the next Lord of the Realm to ask.

Wow, that was pretty detailed wasn't it? Well it was a damn creepy episode, even for Candle Cove and it's kind of etched in my mind.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Outside recess

Well, that creepy guy in a suit hasn't been seen around the school so the kids got to play outside again. I wish we'd been able to get a better description of him though, we don't even know what his face looked like. Other than that it was an uneventful day except for when I had to give Michel a time out for chasing Jennifer and shouting that he was going to "grind her skin". The poor girl was crying so hard, apparently the Skin-Taker terrifies her. Seems like every kid in school is watching Candle Cove, even ones who I would have sworn their parents couldn't afford cable.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Finally caught an episode

Finally found the channel that's airing Candle Cove. It's way up there on my cable box, I didn't even know I got that channel. The channel is called Tower TV. I think it's local public access or something, there was a lot of static. They aren't just re-running episodes from when I was a kid either, this one was new. Apparently Pirate Percy lost Janice and he had to take the Laughingstock and go look for her. He seemed worried that if Horace Horrible and the Skin-Taker found her first they would turn her over to the Puppet Queen. The voice acting was very good, he sounded genuinely terrified of what would happen to Janice if the Puppet Queen got her. I'm worried though that him saying the Queen would hang Janice from the tower to add to it's screams if she didn't give the Queen what she wanted might be too much for kids in the target audience to deal with.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Inside recess today

Somebody saw a strange man in a suit lurking around the school so we kept the kids inside today. I showed the kids the puppet and told them it's name was Percy. One of the kids, Jay, piped up “He doesn't look like Percy, Percy has a dolls head.” I didn't think that show was still on, honestly I figured they'd canceled it because it terrified too many children. I'll have to see if I can find out what channel it's on and catch an episode for the nostalgia value.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sleepy Head Alex

Wow, I haven't been keeping this up lately. Sorry my probably non-existent readers but not much has been happening lately. Although I did have to have a talk with Alex yesterday because he fell asleep in class for the third time in two weeks. He says he's having trouble sleeping at night because there's a monster in his closet that comes out and whispers to him while he sleeps. I'm a little worried about him, isn't eight a little bit old to be scared of the closet monster? Anyway, if it happens again I'll call his parents in. I don't want to get him trouble at home; I just want to alert them to the problem if they don't already know so he can get help if he needs it. It could be an anxiety issue causing nightmares or something physical like sleep paralysis.