All of Us, Under Jim’s Spell

I’d like to take a moment to talk about the Muppets. I geek out about a lot of things, but absolutely nothing compares to my love of the Muppets and Jim Henson.

I’ve purposefully not written about my love of the Muppets prior to now exactly because it is so deep and profound and I would just end up gushing unintelligibly about them for pages and pages and this blog would turn into a Muppet-blog and there are already several of those and they are all better than anything I could put together myself. You can find them here:

The Muppet Mindset

Tough Pigs

The Muppetcast

To give you an idea of my Muppet/Henson love, I have more Muppet memorabilia than  either my bank account or my age advise for. I cry EVERY. SINGLE. TIME I hear “The Rainbow Connection”. I even occasionally cry when I play “Being Green” on the guitar… makes it difficult to sing along, but I manage to sniffle between the verse and the bridge. I even have a tattoo of Kermit and Jim on my right calf – AND IT IS AWESOME – See?

The Muppets and Jim Henson have been a part of my life for my entire life. Like most kids growing up in the 1980’s it started with Sesame Street, then came Fraggle Rock, and re-runs of The Muppet Show. I enjoyed seeing The Great Muppet Caper on the big screen (even though Animal scared the freakin’ life out of me with the MGM Lion parody at the beginning), followed by The Muppets Take Manhattan, and I finally caught up to the original when my parents rented The Muppet Movie to watch on our Betamax. Yep, Betamax.

Also enjoyed on Beta tapes were The Muppet Musicians of Bremen and The Frog Prince. I still haven’t seen Hey Cinderella!, but I’d love to.

Muppets plus Betamax equals squee-inducing joy!! ***

I remember being fascinated by The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, and mesmerized by The Storyteller and The Jim Henson Hour.

And then it stopped. Jim Henson had died.

I remember being sad but, I don’t think I cried. It hadn’t hit me yet. At the time I was too young to really understand how profound a loss to the world Jim Henson’s death was. I remember watching The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson, knowing that when Kermit finally showed up onscreen, when he opened his mouth, it wouldn’t be Jim’s voice anymore. It was weird. As an adult looking back, I feel so bad for Steve Whitmire (the puppeteer who has been performing Kermit since Jim passed) it was his first time behind (or under) the iconic frog and he hadn’t quite nailed the voice yet.

By the time The Muppet Christmas Carol opened in theatres, Steve had gotten a lot better at Kermit and it was easier to accept the “new” frog… but the pang in my heart was still there.

I didn’t realize until I was an adult just how deeply Jim Henson had affected my life. His gentleness, his persistence, his creative genius influenced the person I ultimately have become.

Wow, I got deep really fast, huh? I warned you gushing was a likelihood.

Anyway, steering this fan-bus back to the present –

It has been an utter, squee-inducing, joy to see the Muppets back, and back with a vengeance!  Not only are they back, but they are making a much-needed return to the sweet, irreverent, chaotic humor that was their wheelhouse back when Jim was around.

Huge props to Jason Segel for being as much a Muppet fanboy as was needed to get the Muppets to “right where [they] belong”. He and Nick Stoller are the brains and the talent behind this new re-boot simply titled The Muppets.

This movie looks like a dream come true for Muppet maniacs like me, and new potential fans alike. I mean he even included Thog!!!1!! Thog! Big, blue, gentle, wonderful Thog!! Who else remembers Thog?? When I saw Thog in one of the early parody previews this year I just about wet myself. It was embarrassing, but also speaks to my inhuman level of excitement. Thog isn’t even my favorite Muppet but – OMG SQUEEEE!!1!!1!

Wonderful, Huggable, Sweet, Gentle, Thog.

Ok… calming down for a moment… but, dude… Thog…

The movie opens (as I am sure you are ALL aware) Thanksgiving Day.

I will be there.

My wife will be there.

You should be there too.

Dinner will just have to frickin’ wait – I’ve got a Rainbow Connection to catch.

***P.S. I didn’t do the unicorn sketch – anyone know who did so I can credit them?

3 thoughts on “All of Us, Under Jim’s Spell

  1. I am dying to get a Henson/Muppet tat. My story sounds alot like yours…except I vividly remember the day Jim died and cried my eyes out. My mom came to pick me up early from school that day because she was afraid I was going to hear it from my friends or a teacher. She knew I would fall apart and need the comfort of my family, the only other people I knew at the time that loved the muppets and Henson like I did.

    I remember being so worried that it would all end. I worried so much that without him that there would never be another muppet movie, or show, or anything.

    I am SO glad that it did not happen that way and Jim Henson’s creations continued to shape my life.

    In a very full circle moment, I took a puppetry class in College and performed at the Pittsburgh Children’s museum. While taking a break between shows, we went up stairs and without knowing it was there, turned the corner to a HUGE Dark Crystal display. There were a couple Mystics, one of the Gelflings, and a Skeksis. I think I fell to my knees. I am not sure because I sortof blacked out for a minute (as did my other puppet/muppet loving classmates).

    There I was…performing in a museum that was a childhood memory to me…with a puppetry class I was inspired to take because of my love for Henson and the art….and there I was, in the same room with some of his work.

    Anyway…I am now 31 and still cry every time I think about his death, or the Goodbye special, and GOD HELP ME his funeral. I swear, I cry like I am at my Dad’s funeral EVERY time.

    Great tat…sorry if I over shared. It is hard to find people who understand me…I got a feeling you would. 🙂

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