Wisdom From Cookie Monster

Every now and then I like to do a funny post with memes. Why? Because I think they’re neat-o ūüėČ I also (as you probably know by now) have an obsession with the Muppets.

I also think that memes are an effective way of getting a point across. People respond to them because they use both words and pictures, which connect to the mind in different ways. It’s similar to what I learned as a teacher, a concept called “differentiated instruction.” But I’m not going to talk about that today. Bring on Cookie Monster!

Note: I suspect that some of these came from Mitch Hedberg

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Unveil the Tail

I’m a little late to the game on this, but I continue to be blown away by how good ABC’s The Muppets is. Tuesday’s episode was brilliant, and they continue to top themselves every week. I don’t understand why the ratings are so low. Dammit, why do the shows that I love always have poor ratings?

A brief synopsis for the episode: Continue reading

The Muppets (So Far)

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I’ve talked about my love for The Muppets so many times that you’re probably all bored sick of it, but I’ve yet to talk about The Muppets, the new show on ABC. I love it (mostly).

Yeah, that’s not a surprise given my muppet love, but let me explain why:

The Muppets have always been a mix of slapstick, puns, and adult humor (there’s no better way to explain my humor as well, but that’s my own problem). Like Looney Tunes, if you look at the old shows as an adult, you see jokes that went right over your head as a kid. This show different.

In The Muppets, they dropped a lot of the puns and easy jokes and went for more (relatively) sophisticated, character-driven humor. It was unexpected, and I think it turned off a lot of fans. It wasn’t set-up, punch line, exploding fish anymore.

In a sense, they’re not “puppets” anymore. They’re characters with real problems and character flaws, not empty joke vehicles. They’ve always been one or two dimensional before: Piggy as the aggressive egomaniac, Fozzy is a hapless comic, Gonzo is the love-stricken weirdo, and Kermit was the hero keeping everyone together. The personalities are still the same, but much more complex.

It’s the flaws that are most striking now. Kermit is very manipulative, and at points I cringed at how he handles Piggy. If I have one problem with the show, it’s Kermit’s use of psychological control.¬†Piggy is an unreasonable diva that terrorizes the staff. Fozzy is the engineer of his own downfall. He’s a furry George Costanza.

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Now it’s the bit players that really carry the show. Pepe, Rizzo and Yolanda are hilarious (and I love how all Muppet rats have old timey NYC accents). The Electric Mayhem is exactly what we always imagined them to be: recovering drug-addled road warriors. Bobo is the everyman (bear) that’s easy to relate to. And Gonzo…it broke my heart to see Gonzo’s online dating experiment go awry. From one weirdo to another, I feel ya, bro. Keep at the online dating, there’s a weirdo out there for everyone.

Oh, and how great is Sam the Eagle’s crush on Janis!

sam the eagle

But I do have some advice for the show’s writers:

  1. have Kermit solve problems without underhandedness: Kermit was one of the few three-dimensional characters before the show. We know who he is, don’t stray from that. He’s allowed to have flaws, but being dishonest is very out of character.
  2. Keep mining¬†the secondary characters: There are so many Muppets. I want to learn more about them. They’ve done a great job of adding depth to them so far. Keep at it.
  3. More music: It’s not the Muppets without music, and Piggy is starring in a¬†late-night talk¬†show.
  4. Keep adding depth to Piggy. It’s ok to have Piggy as the¬†antagonist, but she’s still beloved. Give us something to empathize with.

Other than that, I think the show is on the right track. I hope that it gets renewed, because it’s one of the only shows that I watch.

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Sesame Place: The Return

In my last post, I talked about how excited I was to go to Sesame Place with my friend and her 3 year old. It did not disappoint.

I’m amazed at how powerful nostalgia is. Every time I saw one of the characters, the kid in me wanted to jump and give him a hug. I saw Grover (now relegated to a bit part on the show) in his Super Grover costume and shouted “K (name withheld because she’s a kid) look! It’s Super Grover!” When she got her picture taken with him and a hug…I don’t know what the proper emotion is here. Vicarious joy? Nostalgia? A little bit of jealousy?

One of the things that I love about Sesame Street is that it’s so obviously New York City. At least, the old NYC where I grew up, before it became a playground for the 0.01% percent. Even so, if you go to the outer boros, you’ll find streets like Sesame everywhere. My part of the city, Co-op City in the Bronx, was different, but you didn’t have to go far to see a real life Sesame Street.

When I went as a kid, the park was very different. I don’t remember meeting any of the characters. This time they were everywhere. K met Grover, Big Bird, Bert and Ernie, Honker, Elmo (who isn’t as annoying as I used to find him) and got hugs from them all. Yeah, a little bit of jealousy. I shouldn’t be jealous of a 3 year old, but there’s a lot of things I shouldn’t be.

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I did get a thumbs up from Bert when I told him that I like pigeons too (I lied. They’re flying rats.)

The rides were pretty much county fair rides souped up with sesame themes, but that’s ok. The regret that I had to ride them alone. Most of the rides held two to a car. that meant that K rode with Jen, and I rode by myself. Grown man riding a Sesame Street ride alone? Yeah, a little awkward. I shouldn’t have cared, but as much as I like to say that I don’t give a damn about appearances. I do. I hate that about myself. I don’t know where it came from, but it’s something that I’m trying to overcome.

It was Sesame Place’s 35th birthday, and everything there reflected that, especially the parade. Oh my freakin god, the parade was amazing. I have so much respect for those dancers in the muppet suits. They were dancing hard in near 90 degree weather, and they were incredible. There’s something surreal about seeing an 8 foot tall yellow canary doing the running man five feet from you. K got a high five from him (her?) too.

It’s nice to see that dance and theater majors have places they can work that actually fit their major. It’s not as worthless a degree as people joke.

Seriously though, theater majors rock.

I shouldn’t talk about useless majors. I got my BA in Creative Writing. That leaves me qualified for one thing: writing creatively.

By the end of the second day, I was exhausted. Kids have boundless energy, but grownups do not. I think I’m still recovering.

It was worth it.

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Sesame Place!

I’m going to Sesame Place tomorrow with my friend and her 3 year old. A 38 year old man should not be as excited about it as I am. But there are reasons. There are always reasons.

I appreciate the Muppets on a level that you could never comprehend. I grew up on Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, and Fraggle Rock. I watched Muppet Babies every Saturday morning. I’ve seen every Muppet Movie, including stuff like The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. I’ve seen Follow That Bird (and NOBODY’S seen that). Emmett Otter’s Jug Band Christmas is still my favorite holiday movie, and I’m sure it always will be.

I owned this

and this

I cried when Mister Hooper died, and it took me years to stop hating Elmo for usurping Grover as the cute one.

Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem is the best sock puppet band ever.

It’s an obsession, an addiction, but I don’t need a cure. My manchildness runneth over.

I haven’t been to Sesame Place since I was 10. One of my big lamentations about not having children is that I don’t get to experience that childhood joy again. I’m lucky that I will tomorrow.

The Muppet Show Returns! Yayyyyyyy!!!!!!

doge in space card redux

I have read from many different sources that ABC is planning a return of The Muppet Show. What have I done that the TV Gods are rewarding me so!? This is incredible news, the kid in me (who’s not very different from the grown up in me) is doing cartwheels. This is bigger news that Dom Deluise telling Kermit that he should go to Hollywood (Holllllleeeeewood)


I. Love. Muppets. I loved The Muppet Show. I loved Sesame Street. I loved Fraggle Rock. I can quote The Muppet Movie until someone slaps me. Jim Henson was my childhood god.

For you Millennials, let me explain: The Muppet Show was a variety show, with Kermit the Frog as host, and starring Fozzie, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Rowlf, Doctor Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, and a cast of hundreds of furry creatures. Each week, they had a celebrity as a guest star. I suppose it’s format was a bit like Saturday Night Live, but an equal amount of the show happened backstage and dealt with the chaos of “live theater.”

It was crazy. It was ridiculous. It was silly.

It was the greatest thing ever.

By the way, you can find a lot of old episodes on YouTube.

Here’s my favorite song from the show. Harry Belafonte singing Turn the World Around. It’s beautiful.

But I wonder if the new generation will get it. Times have changed, and while the Muppets seem to have a following among some kids and teens, is it enough to make it work? It didn’t work with the reboot Muppets Tonight. They might have to drastically change the format (and according to Vanity Fair, they are) though I hope not too much.

Either way, I’m watching. I bleed brightly colored fake fur…um I guess to fit the metaphor, I’d have to bleed hand. Does that make any sense?

It doesn’t have to make sense. IT’S THE FREAKING MUPPETS!!!!

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