File puptcrit/puptcrit.0612, message 271

Date: Fri, 22 Dec 2006 03:57:52 -0600
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Noreen Young's DVD and Montreal

I've been drawn in to more than one exchange like this in the past, usually
because someone took issue with something that I wrote on my blog or a
message board. It's been my experience that many people will interpret
legitimate constructive criticism of something as a personal attack, when of
course it's usually nothing of the sort. These situations seem to occur
because of misunderstanding and miscommunication.

On the subject of Noreen's DVD, I think it's a fantastic resource. I own it
and have recommended it to many, many people. Noreen is often referred to
affectionately as the "Grand Dame" of Canadian puppetry, and deservedly so.
She's an excellent teacher. I agree with Mathieu that the DVD is lacking in
a few areas, but that does not in any way mean that it's not still a very
good resource. No book or video is ever really 100% complete or
comprehensive and it's impossible for any resource to be all things to all

As for Montreal, let me just say it is a great city filled with many
wonderful people. Besides, dealing with snooty Montrealers is NOTHING
compared to putting up with arrogant Torontonians. ;-)

- Andrew
(a native Torontonian with much affection for Montreal and Quebec)

On 12/22/06, <> wrote:
> ------------------------------
> Message: 4
> Date: Fri, 22 Dec 2006 02:17:09 -0500
> From: Mathieu Ren? <>
> Subject: [Puptcrit] Email misunderstandings on Puptcrit?
> To: <>
> Message-ID: <00bf01c72599$48e2de00$ee1870cf-AT-critter1>
> Content-Type: text/plain;       charset="Windows-1252"
> Hi all.
> I have just had a strange and sad small serie of email exchanges with a
> fellow Puptcritter.
> I was called an attribute which I admit to without a problem:
> argumentative personality.
> I like constructive argumenting, wether I be proven right or wrong in the
> end, there is always something to be learned. I would gain nothing from
> "being right" at all costs. There is no learning there, only stubbornness.
> What I do not understand, is that in 2 short email messages that I
> received about a simple comment on my part, concerning the Noreen Young
> DVD,  it escalated into what I interpret as a very heated comment on my, and
> my city's character.
> I will not name the person, so don't ask.
> The person was defending the DVD fervently, which I find commendable,
> since I too reccomend the dvd.
> The difference is that I pointed a few missing information which I think
> would be important to know in the event of problems occuring witrh the
> puppetmaking processes. I did this just so people interested in the DVD
> would know more about the product.  I certainly appreciate such comments
> about other DVDs and books when I shop for one.
> The first email from the person was just a short comment  which could be
> summarised in that person's own sentence: "I really think you are being very
> picky about some of the things"
> To which I replied, politely and with a grain of humour, that I hoped were
> were not having a heated argument about it, and that I still supported that
> DVD.  I then received this last communication, which was disturbing to me:
> "This will be the last time I ever contact you.  It is obvious that you are
> an argumentative personality just like my French Canadian sister-in-law who
> lives in Montreal and is always right even when proven wrong. That attitude
> is why I never visit that city.
> Good luck in the future."
> At least the person finished with a nice wish.
> How can this person judge my character from just two short emails?
> Is it wrong to defend your own point of view more than 5 minutes?
> If so, then let's close all courts of laws right now, and declare all laws
> void!
> Why categorise a whole city's population into a single frame of character?
> This is the same simplistic mechanic that fuels racism, I think. This
> worries me.
> By the way, defending my own city: Montrealers are known around the world
> for their open-ness.
> Just look at the non-violent huge crowds at the Jazz Festival each year.
> Such open-ness can only come with open-mindedness. Sure, we have our own
> blocked heads, but I don't like for a whole city to be judged on one
> person's alleged behaviour.
> Anyways, I hope this was just a big misunderstanding for some weird
> reason.
> I do not think I am always right, in fact I am usually the first to admit
> I'm wrong, much to the confusion of people I argue with. Which used to make
> me no good at school debates. LoL.
> Should I be guilty of such an attitude as "self-righteousness" without
> knowing it, PLEASE tell it to me straight, and explain, so I can see what
> you mean. I'm young and able and willing to learn.
> But please, avoid such hasty categorising of people.
> Email messages don't have facial expressions, no voice tone, nothing but
> words, which can each be interpreted in various ways. I still don't
> understand what happened in that person's own translation of my words, but I
> sure find it sad that communication was cut short.
> I would not be surprised to receive one extra heated message from that
> same person when finding out I posted about this on the list. Please know
> that I am only mentionning it so that others can avoid such situations. And
> also maybe someone on the list can explain to me what went wrong!
> I include our full "conversation" below, with the person's name removed.
> I don't understand that someone raising so many good points about teaching
> material can jump to conclusions like that heated comment.
> Why am I spending so much time on this?
> one: I am concerned about resentments and communication problems among
> collegues.
> two: I need to understand!
> "Conversation"
> person: I just read your response to the posting about the Noreen Young
> DVD. I really think you are being very picky about some of the things. She
> is very careful to tell about bubbles in the plaster. If you read the
> booklet that comes with the DVD, she tells how to use paper clay to fill in
> any imperfections in the finished mold. anyone who works with contact cement
> should read the warnings on the labels. Since the different steps were
> filmed at different times, it may seem that the can was open all the time.
> Plus it is the GEL contact cement that works a bit differently than the
> liquid. I don't claim that the DVD answers everything about the latex
> method, but she has been very generous in answering any questions that I
> have emailed her. To answer all the troubleshooting would have required more
> than one DVD, but it opens the door to this process.
> Personally I have had NO PROBLEMS in following the DVD and the booklet.
> ---------------------------------------
> my response: Hi **********
> You are right on the fact that I am very picky about these things.
> I am myself a teacher of art techniques, and have realised, through my own
> forgettings, what trouble students can get into when some kinds of basic
> info are missing. IO am all for letting them learn from their mistakes, but
> why not try to help thema void a few. There will always be other mistakes.
> So I prefer to risk repeating myself instead of forgetting essential
> troubleshooting tips.
> Sometimes I push it a bit far, so maybe I sounded a bit too harsh about
> the Noreen Young DVD, but I still stand by my comments. It's not like these
> are small overlooks, I cringed quite a few times when I watched it the first
> time (NO!!!!), fearing a catastrophe, seeing the problems that might occur.
> Only because I have had experience with these materials, and know how bad
> and expensive it can get when the mistakes happen.
> Why not prevent some? I thik any instructionnal material can be useful,
> but why not make it as complete as possible? My standards are even higher
> now that I have seen a few DVD from the Gnomon Workshop.
> The quality varies a bit from one to the other, but the very worse I've
> seen were VERY well done, compared to all the other books and videos I have
> consulted. The latest, which I purchased, was Sculpture with John Brown,
> volume 2. I watched it four times (over two weeks) without even trying the
> actual techniques.
> Just watching such clear information improved my sculpture skills
> tremendously.
> Without it, I would not have been able to make the clay Christmas card I
> just posted about on Puptcrit.
> Ok, I admit, I'm a part-time art-technique paranoid! I have a puppet
> character in my head which would be perfect to represent this aspect of my
> personality.
> LoL
> -----------------
> person: All I can say is that I have had no trouble following Noreen's
> video step by step. Everything worked wonderfully. It has inspired me to go
> in a new direction. This is coming from a person who has been making
> marionettes and other puppets for over 50 years.
> And DVD, book etc. that can inspire and give techniques that WORK to my
> mind is successful.
> In addition to being a professional puppeteer, I also teach art in my
> school district's adult education program so feel that I can be objective in
> evaluating instructional materials.
> Every teacher, artist and performer has their own way of working and I
> honestly feel it is unfair to by hyper critical about methods that have
> worked for 25 or more years.
> ********
> --------------
> My reply:
> HI ****
> I hope this is not a heated argument we are having.
> Emails can be so darn subjective because we can't detect the tone of
> mental voice that went with the words.
> I've realised something, that there are many levels of expectations
> everywhere.  I believe it is necessary to have a variety of qualities
> available for everything, so that that is always room for learning, for
> improvement.
> But, as it is ok to have lower expectations for some things, I am the kind
> to concentrate on getting it better and better. I am much harsher on myself
> than on anyone else, so maybe that's why sometimes I push it a bit far when
> evaluating other people's teaching material.
> Note that I still said I reccomended the DVD, I just wanted to add that it
> was not all-encompassing, and that there might be a need for more resource
> to complement it. Maybe I went too far with the examples I gave though.
> Thank you for writing this to me personally, and not on the list. I can see
> it could have made another long debate, and as much as I love those and what
> sugestions they bring, I got no time right now for participating as much as
> I would like!
> -----------
> person: This will be the last time I ever contact you.
> It is obvious that you are an argumentative personality just like my
> French Canadian sister-in-law who lives in Montreal and is always right even
> when proven wrong.
> That attitude is why I never visit that city.
> Good luck in the future.


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