I found myself reminded of this old tune circa 1983 from the episode of Fraggle Rock that Christopher got to watch after eating lunch today, and it amuses me how whenever I watch these older Muppet works like Fraggle Rock or The Muppet Show or even the classic episodes of Sesame Street just how much Jim Henson himself bled through the characters that he played – with this one, it’s almost hard not to picture Jim himself playing that magical flute down in the Fraggle caves, singing his song of songs to anyone who cared to listen.

In fact, you can actually see some fun pictures of Jim posing and performing this character (Cantus the Minstrel) over on the Muppet Wiki!

The other day I was posed with the challenge of naming who my creative mentors would be if I were to gather them all around a table for their advice and wisdom, and though I’m probably going to write about the exercise later in greater detail because I really found it to be pretty interesting, I’ve got to say that at the time the very first person to pop into my mind was none other than Jim Henson. And I’m not entirely sure why, but what I’ve pieced together so far is that even though I’m not necessarily precisely where I’d like to be in my writing career at this point in my life, I can say that I’m trying to get there by embracing in these things that I’m the most passionate about and you don’t have to watch more than a couple of minutes of any Muppet act to know without a shadow of a doubt that Jim Henson lived creatively by doing exactly that.

It’s also interesting – and admittedly a bit relieving – to note that as epic as those regrettably short, last twenty years of his life were, looking at Jim Henson’s career, some of my absolute favorite things to come from the legend actually didn’t come to be until later on in his life:

  • Sesame Street first aired in 1969, when Jim was 33 years old
  • The Muppet Show first took roots in 1976 (40 years old)
  • The Muppet Movie hit theaters in 1979 (43 years old)
  • Fraggle Rock first aired on HBO in 1983 (47 years old)
  • And probably my personal favorite – A Muppet Family Christmas – was released in 1987 when Jim was 51 years old (only two years before his death)

I bring this up simply because lately it’s been easy to sort of look around and panic when I see that I’m 34 years old and I’m not exactly where I want to be in life, but I try to think of a guy like Jim Henson – one of my creative mentors – and not only acknowledge that some of his best works came far later in his life, but also – and more importantly – that frankly it’s hard not to look back at any of these moments in his career and not see just a happy, bubbly guy having the time of his life creating these bizarrely charming stories about wandering minstrels and strange, little creatures living just out of sight, and it kind of makes me stop and question my priorities and whether I should really be beating myself up for not being farther in life than I would like instead of simply living in the moment and enjoying every last step of the process along the way.

Hmmm. 🙂

I figured I’ve shared these just about everywhere else, so why not throw ’em up on the trusty, old blog, too?!

In a word, Christopher’s 1st birthday party came together spectacularly awesome. She’ll tell you that we did a lot of it together, but Sara was really the driving force behind a lot of the colorful fun seen here below, from the rainbow-assorted sugar cookies to Ernie’s Rubber Duckie Punch to all of the other sweet Sesame Street ideas that she collected on Pinterest and got a “Sure!” from me about in a typical man’s reply. 😉

It’s hard to believe that this little guy has already been around for an entire year – in that time he’s gone from an extremely expensive little science project to this almost Muppet-like, silly personality that giggles and laughs at just about everything and is due to start tearing into anything not bolted down around our house pretty much any day now!

Happy Birthday, little dude! I, for one, would be more than happy to tell you how to get to Sesame Street. 😀

I’ve been having a lot of fun watching classic clips from Sesame Street with Christopher, not only for my own selfish nostalgic reasons, but also because a lot of them are very visual and he’s easily amused by sounds and colors at this point, so it makes only sense that we’ll be watching the very classic Christmas Eve on Sesame Street several times for his inaugural holiday season!

The gift exchange between Bert & Ernie was a highlight tonight a) because I think it’s just a really endearing scene, but also b) because a while ago I bought Christopher a Bert doll for being good the last couple of days and I think he might be starting to recognize his toy up there on the screen buying a new soap dish for his best buddy at the sacrifice of his beloved paperclip collection. Very cool!!! 😀

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So Jim Henson’s Red Book shared a really neat entry from Jim’s journal today about the original Muppet Christmas specialA Muppet Family Christmas, and I never would’ve even thought about it, but it kind of makes sense that the reunion that happened with bringing characters from The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, and Fraggle Rock all into one movie would’ve kind of been a reunion for the people working on those shows as well, considering that all had gotten popular in their own right at that point and aside from the principal performers who made appearances on all of them, the rest of the casts were probably pretty segmented.

I love the idea that this special was all about family, both in the show and also behind the scenes. It’s a shame that this is one of the few specials that doesn’t have a current DVD release that you can pick up a copy, but thanks to the joys of YouTube, luckily it’s not too hard at all to find the entire thing online from flurries in the car to Henson and Sprocket doing the dishes as the credits roll!

Here’s one great scene in particular when the entire gang from Sesame Street shows up caroling… 😀

P.S. I’ve yet to do so myself, but it looks like you can actually buy a book of all of Jim’s Red Book entries that have been compiled from the Henson Archives – talk about an awesome gift for any Muppet fan!

:santa:

the new Muppets trailer…

November 20, 2013 7:26pm
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I don’t know exactly what I think about this.

Well, I guess so far it’s precisely two things:

  1. Yay – another Muppet movie! They really are back this time!!!
  2. Wait a minute – didn’t I already see this movie back in the ’80s???

It’s already been said that Jason Segel is not involved with this one – I guess he kinda dove in headfirst with The Muppets a few years ago and that was enough. And I don’t necessarily blame him – he managed to pull off a really great movie, so do you really want to tarnish that by gunning for a sequel and then having to watch it fall short?

Notice how he wasn’t exactly in this piece of crap, either. Smart guy.

So who knows … I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Tina Fey is cool, and apparently Bret McKenzie is doing the music again, but even the last movie had bad Muppets masquerading as regular Muppets, so I feel like that concept might be getting old already.

Seriously, I know that Muppets in Space didn’t do so hot, and the movie spoofs like Christmas Carol and Wizard of Oz have been kind of hit and miss, but is it that hard to come up with new, original storylines for these guys??? They used to do a brand new, half hour variety show with these characters every single week!  😐

This was good news to read, although I dare say that the damage has no doubt already been done and we probably won’t see Kevin and Elmo reunited again anytime soon.

Sex suits against former ‘Elmo’ voice actor Kevin Clash thrown out over missed filing deadlines
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/sex-suits-voice-elmo-kevin-clash-thrown-missed-filing-deadlines-article-1.1387031

Elmo Puppeteer Kevin Clash Issues Statement on Sex Abuse Lawsuit Dismissals
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/elmo-puppeteer-kevin-clash-issues-578590

I did find it curious that Kevin’s statement mentions “a time in the near future when he can tell his story free of innuendo and false claims,” though it’s hard to say whether that means this story or simply a memoir or something now that he can’t really perform or produce anymore.  😥

in a Muppet kind of mood…

June 3, 2013 10:30pm
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If you happened to see me driving around suburban Tampa in the last hour, you probably saw me totally rocking out in the car to these two gems…  😯

Lego Sesame Street, by Mike Crowley

January 12, 2013 12:11pm
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It’s kinda sad that the reason I discovered this was due to a memorial post over on The Brothers Brick because the creator of this scene passed away, but I absolutely loved it. He had a very unique take on all of the Muppet characters, and it almost makes me want to go on Bricklink and order the parts to make a Lego Super Grover myself!

Be sure to click through the image to the creator’s own website, where he’s got a couple of dozen photos of the set and individual characters from all angles. Very cool, very sad loss…

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MUPPETS!!!

This was a fun list to put together, as some of my all-time favorite songs of the season come from Muppet movies! In fact, I ended up doing 11 this time because I got done and just couldn’t bring myself to cut a single one of them to make it an even 10.

  1. Ain’t No Hole in the Washtub (Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas)
  2. It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Live from Rockefeller Center – 2009)
  3. True Blue Miracle (Christmas Eve on Sesame Street)
  4. The Twelve Days of Christmas (John Denver and The Muppets)
  5. Scrooge (The Muppet Christmas Carol)
  6. It Feels Like Christmas (The Muppet Christmas Carol)
  7. Together at Christmas (The Christmas Toy)
  8. Thankful Heart (The Muppet Christmas Carol)
  9. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (John Denver and The Muppets)
  10. Keep Christmas With You (Christmas Eve on Sesame Street)
  11. Brothers in Our World (Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas)

Admittedly I was a little bummed that the only copy of Brothers in Our World that I was able to find on YouTube was from that weird play version instead of the original special, but it’s still a good song as the Otters come together to remember what’s really important after losing the talent show!

P.S. Feel free to also check out my mix tape from last year for even more fun holiday songs… 🙂

a Muppet legend lost with Kevin Clash’s resignation

November 20, 2012 11:50pm
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I don’t really know what to think about this whole Kevin Clash scandal resignation, exception I guess that I’m really sad and disappointed to hear about it.

When the news first picked up last week that someone was accusing Kevin of sexual abuse and then was almost immediately thereafter withdrawn, I felt a sigh of relief that these accusations towards the Muppeteer behind one of Sesame Street’s most beloved characters were untrue. It seemed like a rough 24 hours, but Sesame Street had stood behind their employee – this guy who had spent the last 30 years living his dream of being a puppeteer and also helping to take Sesame Street to new heights as an Executive Producer – and it looked like it was all just going to be some admittedly ugly water under the bridge.

When I read the updated headline today about there now being a second accuser, I didn’t even have to read the story to know that this probably meant the end of the man’s career and sure enough, he ended up resigning because he couldn’t allow the controversy, right or wrong, to take away from Sesame Street any longer.

There are so many ugly questions that I don’t even want to think about – what’s true and what’s made up, how do you define sexual abuse without actual sex, why are they coming out now nearly two decades later, is all of this motivated purely as a money grab or is justice legitimately being sought? I saw one commenter ask why the lawsuit filed only asks for a financial settlement and not criminal charges, implying that this was just a guy out to make a quick buck, but then again I don’t know about statutes of limitations and how all of that plays into account – maybe at this point money is all a lawyer could get.

I guess what’s sad to me is that we even saw last week that it doesn’t take a guilty verdict, just an accusation to muddy someone’s reputation, and when it came out that Kevin was gay, unfortunately in many’s eyes that was already a strike against him. It also seemed suspicious when the first accuser was quick to say, “Here are my accusations – I will not be making any comment about them.” followed by, “My client retracts his previous accusations – we will not comment further on this issue.” Fishy because Kevin’s name (along with Elmo’s) was in every publication in the country, whereas this accuser was able to hide behind the veil of anonymity even after admitting that his statement was false.

…though now he claims that he was paid $125,000 as a settlement to drop the issue, so … ughhhh – who knows?

The thing is, I certainly don’t want to denounce the victims here if it’s true that they were in fact victims, but so much is still up in the air and all we in the public really know for sure is that one of the most experienced veterans in the Muppet world has been forced into resignation so as to not further drag the work that he loves down with whatever’s going to happen to him. Volunteering to resign alone just seems like an unfathomable call to me, like sacrificing yourself for a child, because deep down he loves them so much that he knows that they have to go on without him.

At one point Sesame Workshop was also quoted as saying that the role of Elmo is bigger than any one puppeteer to reassure everyone that the character would continue to exist regardless of whatever happened with Kevin, just like Kermit the Frog lived on after Jim Henson passed away and so many others have transitioned to new performers at this point as well. Still, to have to look in and see someone else now performing a role that you created and were in no way ready to give up?

I’ve watched a lot of interviews about all of the Muppet performers, including Kevin, over the years and he always seemed like such a cool, down-to-earth, passionate guy who clearly just loved making kids smile and laugh just like Jim did. Though the  way they’ve been stacking up now suggest otherwise, I hope that ultimately all of this washes out and we come to find that Kevin was really innocent after all. It wouldn’t be the first time that someone has tried to blackmail a celebrity for money or fame, though in just about every case it always ends up ending the celeb’s career either way.

Regardless of whatever ends up being true, you can’t deny that we’re losing an incredible talent in the world of children’s entertainment with Kevin’s unexpected departure and that the man made an immeasurable contribution to Sesame Street that helped enrich the lives of millions of children around the world very much so for the better…

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