Kentucky Is Home to the World's Only Ventriloquism Museum

5chw4r7z, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0 (cropped)
5chw4r7z, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0 (cropped)

If you suffer from pediophobia (a fear of dolls), you'll probably want to avoid a visit to the Vent Haven Museum on your next trip to northern Kentucky. According to Smithsonian, this oddball offering in Fort Mitchell—located less than 10 miles from Cincinnati, Ohio—is the only museum in the world dedicated to the art of ventriloquism.

Roughly 1000 dummies and puppets live inside the museum's four buildings, including Lamb Chop, the sock puppet made famous by ventriloquist and television host Shari Lewis. Renowned ventriloquists like Jeff Dunham and Terry Fator have also donated some of their figures to Vent Haven. There are historic pieces, as well; one of the oldest is a realistic-looking papier-mâché head with glass eyes that was made in the 1820s.

This puppet paradise originally started out as the private collection of a local man named William Shakespeare "W.S." Berger, who was actually not a professional ventriloquist. Rather, he was the president of a tile company (though he was also the president of the International Brotherhood of Ventriloquists). Because Berger outlived his son and grandson and had no other heirs, he set up a charitable foundation to ensure that his collection of ventriloquism ephemera lived on. And thus, Vent Haven Museum was born in 1973.

A creepy doll
5chw4r7z, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

A ventriloquist dummy
5chw4r7z, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0 

The museum has long fascinated visitors and has even been the subject of a photography book by Matthew Rolston, titled Talking Heads: The Vent Haven Portraits. One reviewer called the photos "eerily compelling," and another said it appeared as if the "dummies have souls."

Vent Haven also lends its name to an annual international ConVENTion (get it?), which sees more than 400 ventriloquists gather for workshops, roundtable discussions, and celebrity lectures. The 2019 event will take place July 17-20 at the Holiday Inn in nearby Erlanger, Kentucky.

As for the museum, visits are arranged by appointment only from May 1 to September 30. To schedule a tour, check out the museum's website.

[h/t Smithsonian]

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back in the Living Room, Jaws Gets Its Own Board Game

Ravensburger
Ravensburger

Jaws made countless viewers terrified of the beach when it swam into theaters the summer of 1975. Luckily, you don't need to be anywhere near the water to play this new board game from Ravensburger.

Jaws the board game recreates Steven Spielberg's nautical thriller on a tabletop in your home. It features the cast of the movie as playable characters, including Quint, Hooper, Chief Brody, and the great white shark that stalks the waters outside the Martha's Vineyard-inspired Amity Island.

Like the film, the game plays out in two primary locations: on Amity Island and onboard The Orca. For the act 1 portion of the game, the human characters team up to take down the shark as it picks off Amity beachgoers. Flip the board over and it transforms into Quint's ship. For The Orca section, Quint, Hooper, and Brody try to defend their boat as the shark tears it apart. Players can either complete both acts or stick to one location for a shorter gaming experience.

The game is also a nostalgic collector's item for Jaws fans. Illustrations on the board and cards capture memorable scenes from the film, and the box itself is printed with the iconic poster art.

You can order the Jaws board game from Target for $30 in time for your summer celebrations (whether they're beach-related or not). Here are some facts about the film to read before you play.

Box of Jaws board game.
Ravensburger

Jaws board game.
Ravensburger

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Scamp the Tramp Named World’s Ugliest Dog

Scamp the Tramp won the World's Ugliest Dog contest at the Marin-Sonoma County Fair on June 21, 2019 in Petaluma, California.
Scamp the Tramp won the World's Ugliest Dog contest at the Marin-Sonoma County Fair on June 21, 2019 in Petaluma, California.
Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

In a society overrun by fashion magazines, beauty contests, and Instagram models, it’s nice when the not-so-photogenic are appreciated. Take Scamp the Tramp, this year's winner of California's World’s Ugliest Dog competition. “[He’s] Scamp the Champ now,” Scamp's owner, Yvonne Morones, said of her pup's hard-won victory. “We had to change his name.”

Scamp, who was the 2018 competition's runner-up, came out on top of the dog pile against 18 other adorably ugly pooches. His winning looks are courtesy of matted fur that “no conditioner can calm,” a tongue that appears to perpetually hang from his mouth, and bat-like ears. According to his official biography, Scamp’s pastimes include partaking in various community service activities and serving as an uncle to numerous foster kittens.

UPI reports that Morones is experienced in grooming champions; she has claimed the World's Ugliest Dog title several times before with two of her previous pooches. Her dog Nana was even reigning champ from 1996 to 2002.

Morones rescued Scamp from a Los Angeles shelter in 2014, and the two quickly clicked. “It was on the way home that I knew I made the right choice,” she said in a press statement. “There we were, two strangers in a car on the way home to a new start. Bob Marley was playing ‘One Love,’ and I looked over and little Scamp was bobbing his head. It was like he knew he had found his forever home.”

First-prize winners of the World’s Ugliest Dog contest take home a trophy, $1500 in earnings that will also be matched in donations to animal charities, and validation that they’re certifiably good boys and girls.

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