I've compensated for the fact that we still don't have rabbits (despite a recent fact-finding mission to the Calgary Humane Society, an outing which by all accounts ought to have seen us return home with at least three more mouths to feed) by adding to our family in other ways.
I've built a plywood silhouette in our back garden and named him Sideshow Bob. It was either that or Mr. Whippy but if I'm going to get done for copyright infringement I'd rather get sued by the Simpsons than a New Zealand ice cream van franchise. (Actually, now that I put it in writing the Kiwi thing sounds a bit cooler than it did.)
Sideshow Bob's sole function in life is to hold playing cards in his outstretched hands so that I can cut them in half with a whip. He was born of necessity: I couldn't find anyone willing to stand in the garden with a bucket on their head and welding gloves on their hands, pinching cards between their fingers while I make mistakes with a stockwhip for an hour at a time.
When a person holds a playing card while wearing welding gloves the available target is about 3" wide, so it's taken me some time to get reliable enough with the whip. Missing the card to the outside is fine; it builds suspense. Missing the card to the inside is not so good; no one likes to get their hand whipped, even while wearing gloves. I tried larger targets like balloons and was amazed at how much force the balloons could absorb without popping. Generally they just moved out of the way with a 'thwup' sound. Fine for practice as it means putting up new targets less often, but a bit of a let-down if you're in the audience.
The routine is part of the new variety show I've been putting together for my Victorian alter-ego Parker Doodlebug. The show is making its debut next week at the Canmore Children's Festival, at which point I will indeed be using a real volunteer. With a bucket on their head and welding gloves on their hands.
Check out the bucket, too - a little bit of paint, an angle grinder, some foam insulation and chicken wire and you too could have protective headgear that lends you a certain...je ne sais quoi.