This is not a typical NerdBastards article, but this is something that we wanted to tell you about: a group of former Jim Henson Company puppeteers, people behind The Muppet Show and Fraggle Rock, who have come together to educate children in refugee camps through puppetry. They are No Strings International and they need a hand right now. 

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According to a report by NBC News, there are one million Syrian children living in refugee camps, displaced from their homes by a situation that may get worse before it gets better… if it ever gets better. 75% of those children are under the age of 11.

Some call them “The Lost Generation”. To borrow and contort a phrase, I can’t visualize what one million of anything looks like, but I can imagine the darkness caused by one million extinguished lights.

To save these kids from slipping away, there are certain things that they need: warmth, love, and food. These are basic things and there are living saints, aid workers, who are providing them, but they also need help coping with the shocking loss of everything that they have ever known.

Enter No Strings International, a not-for-profit organization with the ability to cut through language and cultural barriers while delivering a different kind of aid.

Comprised of puppeteers and aid workers, the people at No Strings are using puppets as a teaching tool in a way that should be familiar to anyone who grew up watching Sesame Street and similar shows. The difference is, these lessons are being taught in refugee camps all over the world and they are about land mine awareness, hygiene, HIV/AIDS, gender equality, natural disaster preparedness, and how to deal with trauma.

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Created by former Muppet Show puppeteers Kathy Mullen and Michael Frith , and Johnie McGlade, an aid worker who stumbled onto the idea while using a puppet named Seamuss at a camp in the Sudan to communicate with both children and adults, No Strings International has made 13 short films in 24 languages for 14 countries.

Here is a look at some of their campaigns.

I had a chance to talk with Rosie Waller, the Programs Manager for No Strings via email as they try to secure financing for their work in the Syrian camps. Here’s Ms. Waller on what happens after these films are completed and ready to go to refugee camps in places like Afghanistan, Haiti, and Syria.

The next step is to host workshops in that part of the world, where we invite delegates from organisations dealing directly with children and young people, either in Syria, or living as part of the refugee community, so we can share best practice ideas about how to target the films and follow them up.

Our trauma-healing film in particular is very sensitive: children can respond on a profoundly emotional level because it deals with very difficult issues like loss and grief. It’s therefore vital that facilitators showing this film have the right additional tools so that it’s ultimately a very positive experience for those children. In addition, the No Strings workshop is co-led by a small team of exceptionally talented puppeteers, who share a range of techniques that local facilitators can use to help children explore feelings together in small groups.

With our peace-building film, puppetry is a tool young people can use to challenge the film’s inherent messages, and work through new ideas. These are techniques that we’ve shared in many parts of the world, and they’re a lot of fun as well as very effective.

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As you can tell, No Strings goes above and beyond to craft these projects in a way that makes them as accessible as possible, and that extends to the look of the puppets that are used to reach the affected children. Here’s Ms. Waller on that process.

Working with a designer like Michael Frith, our puppets have a certain signature look. It’s important [that] they’re instantly appealing to children and full of character. There’s always a little whimsy to them, a charm, which draw audiences in. What’s also important is that they fully reflect the audience they’re designed for, and that they’re culturally appropriate, so we work closely with our partners in the field throughout the design stage.

To finish their latest batch of films and fully launch their program in those Syrian refugee camps, No Strings has taken to the internet and IndieGoGo.

With a little more than one day left and less than half of their $50,000 goal met, though, Ms. Waller is realistic when I ask her what will happen if they fall short of their goal.

We’re hoping to reach our IndieGoGo target, but we’ll be shooting the films whatever happens because we’re committed to them.

If you have an interest in checking out the No Strings International IndieGoGo, go here. To go to the No Strings website and read up on what they’ve done and why they do it, click here. You can also follow them on twitter.

Source: NBC News, h/t to Gerry Duggan

Check Out This Badass Puppet Rap

Some puppets sing about the alphabet and friendship. This puppet however, is working on being the biggest name in rap and hip-hop. Sesame Street ain’t got nothing on this.

Directed by Sam Macaroni, Puppet Break-Up is the highly NSFW rap video that anyone with a sense of humor could enjoy.

With lyrics like “I’ll f@#$ all the other muppets on Sesame Street” this definitely isn’t something you bring to the daycare for the little one before nap time.

Watch the music video below and enjoy some awesome puppet rap

Someone call Jay-Z on the double, he needs to sign the first rapping puppet right away.

Via: Geek Tyrant

Admiral Ackbar Wants Me To What?

He may know “it’s a trap” but that doesn’t mean he won’t ram into it with all he’s got, he’s an Admiral after all.

Admiral Ackbar may be a puppet to us normal folk, but in Star Wars he is the smoothest Mon Calamarian in the entire universe. In this behind-the-scenes footage from Return of the Jedi, Admiral Ackbar’s puppeteer (Whoa, I always thought Ackbar was performed by a dude in a mask, rather than a puppet) decided to practice his lines in a purposely perverted manner. At least I think it was purposeful. Then again, there were no double entendres or inflection in his speech to indicate immaturity. Maybe people just like hearing themselves say “penetrate”. A mantra we should all live by perhaps?

This must be how Lando got so smooth, either that or the Colt 45 in his bloodstream.

Via: i09


Do you remember the Potter Puppet Pals?

All the Harry Potter characters from the books and movies make appearances in this pretty funny bunch of videos. My favorite is still the “Strange Ticking Noise,” which can be viewed right here. If you haven’t seen it, you should stop reading and watch it now!

And now, just in time for the holiday season are a bunch of Christmas cards brought to you by Harry Potter and the Dursely’s, the Granger’s, the Weasly’s and Lord Voldemort.

Check out the video below the jump, along with still of each of the cards!


Segel and Muppets

So this is pretty damn sweet!  Recently, some set pics turned up from Jason Segel’s Muppet Movie. The film set to hit theaters Christmas 2011 was actually co-written by Segel.  In my opinion that should make it pretty damn funny and who doesn’t love the Muppets!  The set photos have all those childhood memories rushing back to me.  And I have no doubt it will do the same for you guys when you check out the photos after the break.  Also, some other cool news about the project, there will be quite the star studded cast joining Segel in this project!  The list thus far includes Amy Adams, Lady Gaga, John Krasinski and Ed Helms who potentially be members of Gaga’s entourage, Jack Black, Donald Glover, Danny Trejo, Jane Lynch may appear as a prison guard and also Paul Rudd will possibly be the voice of Walter, the i-phone loving roommate of Segel.

Source: BleedingCool , Marquee


katy-and-springfieldians(Post by nerdbastards contributor Nick Bungay- Twitter @NickBungay)

By now we’ve all seen the live-action Simpsons opener that was used only as a specially produced, promotional tool. Well look’s like a new, actual, live-action episode being created by Fox. Just like every episode of ‘The Simpsons’ it’s gonna have a guest star, which is gonna be international sensation Katy Perry. By live-action we mean green screen and puppets which means Katy is gonna be in a special, Sesame Street style episode. Those folks at PBS must be slapping themselves silly since this is gonna be the best form of payback for Katy Perry.

According to EW, the Dec 5th episode, entitled The Fight Before Christmas, Katy will be involved in her own rendition of The 39 Days of Christmas. Also noted was the fact that she would also be playing the girlfriend of local bartender, Moe Szyslak. This might just be an actually watchable episode since their so-called ‘Glee’ episode sucked harder then Lindsay Lohan with a bottle of Jack Daniels. After all, Katy Perry’s sketch with Sesame Streets Elmo was pulled from being aired (but can be seen here) this is a perfect piece of universal karma.

Via: Bleeding Cool