Coffee With….The Muppet Master

Would We Have Coffee With…..Jim Henson?

Cammy:  Do I even have to say it?  I mean, it’s not like I’ve been quiet about my love for the Muppets.  Of course I want to have a cup of coffee with Jim Henson.  Like so many other “Coffee With…” nominees, it’s partly as a (totally inadequate) thank you.  The Muppets on Sesame Street contributed heavily to the early childhood educational experiences of tons of us, and for us lucky 70s/early 80s kids, The Muppet Show made a wide variety of high quality entertainment accessible to us small fry (while still entertaining our parents).  Does he know just how much of an impact that’s had on those of us now in our 30s and 40s (he spent plenty of time trying to bring puppetry to an adult audience instead of just kids…it just took us Muppet-kids growing up, I think).  I’d like to ask him what he thinks of the way CGI is coming to replace more and more of what would once have been done with puppetry (ahem, YODA).  And, what Muppet did he think was the most under-rated?
Kristy:  Well Cammy just about said it all.  Absolutely.  Of course.  For all the reasons Cammy listed.  Like a huge chunk of our generation I was raised on Sesame Street and the Muppet Show.  So yeah, I need to thank him.  But like Cammy I’d also like his take on developments in film technology since his death.  I’d also like to know what he thinks of Henson Company projects after his era.  How does he feel about projects like Farscape?

One, One Cup of Coffee, Ah ah ah ah!

Cammy:  I’ll admit that it was only in recent years that I figured out who Joan Ganz Cooney was.  Once I knew, well, there’s no way I wouldn’t buy her multiple cups of coffee. This woman was one of the founders of the Children’s Television Workshop and Sesame Street (apparently it was she who said that if they couldn’t get Jim Henson, they wouldn’t bother with puppets for Sesame Street).  And how could one not want to have a cup of coffee with someone so instrumental in helping so many of us to learn our letters, numbers, and basic concepts like near and far?  Not to mention giving so many of us a weird cross-generational unity over strange little jingles and the sight of an absurdly large and slightly neurotic canary?  Mostly, I want to have coffee with her as a thank you, but I can’t deny I want to pick her brain about what decisions they made in those early years about the Sesame Street curriculum–what did they opt to omit?  And how does she feel about other CTW shows like 3-2-1 Contact which weren’t gifted with Sesame Street’s long run–is CTW ever going to resurrect them?  And what was missing that kept them from lasting as long?
And most important of all:  Which character on Sesame Street is her favorite?
Kristy:  Um… sure.  I had no clue who she was till just now.  But like Cammy, and probably many of our readers, I owe her many pleasurable hours from my childhood, and Sesame Street definitely helped me learn all sorts of random things.  I don’t share Cammy’s love of children’s literature, and while we’ve never talked about it, I expect she also has more interest in children’s television programming than I do.  But while I’m not nearly as interested in the subject, I will say that even as an adult I find Sesame Street less patronizing and annoying than a lot of children’s television shows.  (All I remember about 3-2-1 Contact is the theme song which is now stuck in my head.  Thanks, Cammy.)  So yeah… I’m interested to hear what the woman has to say even if there’s nothing I’m dying to ask her.  And I feel the least I owe her is a cuppa joe.

I Still Love the Muppets

Nothing dispels the evil of a rough week at work like reverting to childhood.  My kiddie drug of choice takes me back to some of my very earliest memories:

The Muppets.

I’m on the truly devoted side of the Muppet Gap (there’s a bizarre cultural gap between people born about the same year I was and those born just a year or two after–those damn youngsters do NOT have the same appreciation and regard for The Muppets that their elders do–I think it has to do with lack of proper exposure).  You play “Rainbow Connection” and I will stop what I’m doing.  I hear the theme song to The Muppet Show and I work hard to refrain from getting up and dancing around the room like I did when I was about 4 and watching the show in syndication on a station out of Houston.  And even with refraining from dancing, I have never successfully managed not to sway back and forth for the last few bars “This is what we call the Mup-pet Shoooooooooow!”  Everything I know about anger management I learned from Miss Piggy (“Hiiiiiiii-yah!”).  And if you want to see me tear up like a baby, you play Tom Smith’s “A Boy and His Frog”.

But vegging out with an evening of assorted episodes of the show and a few of the movies is good for more than just the nostalgic flashbacks:  it’s still quality stuff all on its own.  When I initially bought the first season of the show, I was a little worried that my fond memories of the show were the stuff of childhood and that it wouldn’t really stand up under its own power now that I was older and more discerning.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that I found the show highly entertaining even without the whole misty-watercolored-memories.

The humor is clever and covers so many types, from the sarcasm of Statler and Waldorf, to the pure absurdity of Gonzo, to the musical humor of Rolf.  The musical numbers cover just as broad a spectrum of styles from classical to musical theater to country.  And all that is just the Muppets themselves.  You add in the caliber of the various guest performances (as I type this I’m getting to rock out to old school Elton John) and, damn, I’m grateful that I had this kind of cornucopia of culture influencing my formative years.  I can’t think of anything equivalent for the poor youth of today(outside of those lucky enough to have parents who are passing down the Muppet-y goodness).

If you haven’t gone back and bonded with the Muppets in a while, or if you were one of the unfortunate ones on the wrong side of the gap who missed out on the wonders of “Veterinarian Hospital” and “Pigs in Space”, spare a little room in your Netflix queue for a Pig, a Frog, a Bear, a Dog, A Weirdo & Friends.

I Got Nothing

Apologies to all, but I am suffering from Writer’s Block this evening.  And nothing is working.  As Kristy revealed in an earlier post, our general get-out-of-a-jam quick fix to this problem is to look at Wikipedia and check what historically interesting things happened on that particular day.  I am sad to report that while there were several interesting historic events on this date, I’m not actually inspired by any of them.

So, I moved on to more desperate tools:  The random prompt generators.   I have several of these bookmarked from a variety of creative writing websites, but the honest truth is, I’ve never actually used such a prompt.  Too many of them seem to want me to narrow a field.  “Name your favorite childhood show and talk about it.”  One?  Hey, my childhood spanned a considerable period (some might say it continues to this day), and my tastes changed.  I can’t pick just one show.  I mean, The Muppets, the Smurfs, Sesame Street, Ducktales, Animaniacs, Moonlighting…these all held the number one slot for amount of time.  Narrow it down.  Pfft.  Ask me to cut off my right arm, why don’t you? Same goes for picking that favorite song, book or whatever other single item I’m supposed to be perpetually obsessing over.

And if you don’t get a narrowing one, it’s something deep.  “Is the wind just the wind or a fight against souls” or some other bullshit.  Please.  I’m blocked from writing a blog post, not trying to discover the meaning of life.  It’s 9:30 at night and I have to get something mildly entertaining posted–I don’t have time for philosophy.  And if anyone is reading My TV, My Peanut Butter on the theory that this will lead them to enlightenment, well, I’m just not into perpetuating that sort of fraud.

Then there are the therapy questions.  “Name a time when you were truly betrayed.  Discuss.”  It’s like something Sweets would start out with in a counseling session for Booth and Bones–one they would promptly find an excuse to walk out of.  And I’m following.  I reveal the fact that I probably need some kind of therapy quite well without actually turning this into a psychologist’s sofa, thanks.  That’s what locked LiveJournal’s are for.

I even tried the picture prompt.  Oh, that was fun.  Not.  A picture of green leaves.   I don’t know what kind.  I would have tried to look that up, but I don’ t have that kind of time, not to mention I doubt anyone would really care to know.  I could have used a lot of adjectives.  Probably “verdant” or something, but I leave that sort of thing to the poets.  It’s not something that falls within my barely-literate scribblings here.

So, really, I’ve got nothing to post of any consequence.  Other than all of that I just blathered out above.

Hmmm.

Does this mean those prompt generators actually worked?