1 The Muppet Mindset: February 2011

Feb 28, 2011

The Life of an International Muppet Fan: Andreas Qassim, Part Two


Andreas Qassim
(Sweden)
Part 2

The Muppet Movie

It must have been around 1985. I was seven or eight. We visited my auntie in Älmhult and I found out they had just bought a VHS-player. My ten year older cousin took me to the video store and we rented Star Wars V - The Empire Strikes Back and The Muppet Movie. Imagine seeing those two films for the first time on the same day! I used the technique I had developed for Fragglarna and recorded the sound of The Muppet Movie by hanging a microphone in front of the TV loudspeaker. Back home I listened to the tape over and over again. Thus I knew all the lines and sounds from the film by heart, even though for many years I had only watched it once.

TheMuppetMovie

It's a special film in many ways. I think everything that the muppets represent for me is in that film. Seriousness and zaniness happily married. And the music is outstanding. When Kermit and Rowlf sing "I Hope That Something Better Comes Along," the melancholy is for real. When Gonzo sings "I'm Going to go Back There Someday," he really means it. I don't even have to mention "The Rainbow Connection." The message of the film--follow your dreams, and pick up crazy friends along the way to share it with you--and those songs had a big impact on me.



Muppet Music

In fact, making art wasn't the only thing Jim Henson and the Muppets inspired me to do. Through the Muppets I came in contact with pop, rock, and jazz. I dug The Electric Mayhem, Rowlf and all the crazy music numbers of The Muppet Show. Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock also had great music. Later I realized how music oriented the Muppets really are. The music runs through everything, not least their sense of timing. The musical precision is often what makes it funny. "Mahna Mahna" is the perfect example of that.



When I was ten my mother registered me in the music school of Växjö. I got to choose which ever music instrument I wanted. It was like Christmas! And the choice was not hard. The coolest Muppet of them all was Zoot, so I picked the alto saxophone. It was love at first sight, and the sax has been my axe ever since. Today I play regularly in a big band run by an old friend.

zoot

When I studied 3D animation last year, I felt I had to do something to sum up my appreciation for the muppets and the music. I chose to do a version of the classic sketch "Sax and Violence" from season one of The Muppet Show.


Triangle vs Saxophone from Andreas Qassim on Vimeo.

Reruns

Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock have returned every now and then to Swedish television. They did a rerun of Mupparna in the late eighties. But after the intial media hype of "Mupparna returning to Swedish television screens," the show only lasted one season. Season 1 to be more specific. As Muppet fans know, the show as we remember it came together in later seasons. Why didn’t Mupparna make it the second time around? Seemed like times had changed somehow. Since it wasn't dubbed (which I'm very happy about) the preschoolers didn't get it, school kids weren't really interested, neither were the parents after the initial nostalgia had worn off. And by now commercial TV had entered Sweden. Everyone didn’t watch the same programs anymore.

Anyway, the rerun started off with The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years, which was the greatest thing I've ever seen. I was up in the air for weeks about that TV special. My grandparents had also gotten a VHS player by then, so my grandfather recorded the 30 year special and some of the episodes from season one for me. He also recorded A Muppet Family Christmas, another one of those rare occasions when ALL the Muppets, Fraggles and Sesame characters are gathered. I always loved that, when the whole screen is filled with Muppets. And now, for the first time in my life I could watch the Muppets whenever I wanted. And so I did.

Florida 1990

When I was thirteen, we went on vacation to Florida. Me, my mum, and her partner. This was in the summer of 1990. I was still very much a kid at heart, but by that time I was more into the Teanage Mutant Ninja Turtles than the Muppets. I guess the turtles are not too far from the Muppets anyway.

Captain-EOThe first Turtles feature had just come out, and I was exhilarated about playing the arcade game at the highway restaurant between Miami and Orlando. I saw both the Turtles and the Muppets (people in scary costumes) at MGM Studios and I had an amazing time. Unfortunately this was a year before Muppet*Vision 3D came out, so I had to stick with the Michael Jackson 3D-film Captain EO, which wasn't too bad.

When we were about to leave the country, I saw some magazines in the airport kiosk. There were covers of Jim and Kermit, and headlines like "The Muppets say goodbye to their best friend" and such. My heart froze. I didn't know too much about Jim Henson back then. I knew that he created the Muppets, but the Muppets were the Muppets for me and Jim Henson was just a name. I regret not buying some of those magazines.

life magazineTen years later I had started pursuing a career in cartooning, and I had rediscovered all those things I loved during my childhood and why. In that process I read some of those articles about Jim Henson's death on the internet. It made me peculiarly sad. It was almost like having lost a family member, even though it was so many years later. It's strange how someone you've never met can have such an impact in your life. I guess that's the power of art and entertainment. It can overcome any geographical or language barriers and reach the hearts of people.

532px-JimwK06

Today I try to make a living as a cartoonist, working in comics, illustration and animation. I'd love to draw the Muppets professionally one day, if only a cover for a comic book or so. But more importantly, I always try to be creative and acknowledge the power of the imagination. That's what Jim taught me. Whenever I need inspiration, I return to the Muppets. It was where it all started for me, and I'm pretty sure I won't grow out of it as long as I live.

Andreas Qassim








The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

Feb 27, 2011

(Kind of) Weekly Muppet Quotes, Week 2


Casey Daron - Hi, and welcome back to the second week of the Muppet quotes! Today we have four funny quotes for you to enjoy!

"We picked up a weirdo..."
- Fozzie Bear, The Muppet Movie

"Kermit, cancel my bread impersonation act! They didn't deliver my poppy seeds. You wouldn't want me to walk out there NAKED, would you?"
- Gonzo, The Muppet Show, Episode 221

"Times fun when you’re having flies."
- Kermit the Frog, Before You Leap

"Never put off until tomorrow, what you can buy today!"
- Miss Piggy, The Diva Code

Thank you again for joining us on another VERY special week of The Muppet Quotes! YAAAAAAY!









The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

Feb 26, 2011

The Diary of an Obsessed (British) Muppet Fan, Part 2


Last known location of TBC
Dear Diary,
Have I ever mentioned how much I adore the way your binding curves so delicately? Well, if I have not, allow me to do so now. It is just so perfectly bindery. You are very welcome. What is that? Pardon me? Oh, well, thank you. I agree that my eyebrows are very rustic, and how very generous of you to comment on the cosmic form of my particularly British stiff upper lip.
 
For, yes, you have sussed it correctly, indeed, it is I, the British Correspondent, still holding hostage the Diary of one Ryan Doozer.

And speaking of Diaries, I am rather assuming that sooner or later we shall be reading some sort of "How I Met your Muppet" tell-all bio-backstage-diaries from our friend Jason Segel. (Seriously, am I the first one to use that joke? May I once again applaud my A-list comedic talent...)

Speaking of comedic talent, who knew that Zack and Cody could work that brilliant "pause-for-the-laugh-track-styled" comedic timing even when speaking in mock Swedish accents?

Well, clearly the marvelous producers over at The Muppets Studio had some inking of this fact when they invited the Muppets over to Studio DC to join a bunch of our favourite (?) Disney Channel mini-stars for an Almost Live double-bill television show available in the United Kingdom on Extended Edition DVD. Now, the fact this show hit Region 2 dvd first is just one reason I am proud to be British (breakfast of boiled eggs with dippy soldiers being another.)

I had some reservations with the original broadcast of this semi-live show in its condensed form where, in my opinion (and a lot of other people's opinions) it felt rushed, choppy and as if the Muppets’ presence was something of an after-thought to the all-star talent of the Disney children such as Miley Cyrus, Ashley Tisdale, Demi Lovato and also-appearing-in-The-Muppets-movie-quite-likely-on-the-phone Selena Gomez (not to mention those man-child Brothers Jonas and the ever a-peel-ing Wizards of Weaverly place guys... seriously... do not mention them).

However, when sitting down to the Extended Edition version of the show I was surprised to find I actually enjoyed watching DC’s usually too-cool-for-school young actors and singers getting a chance to ham it up for the cameras, to poke fun at themselves and pretty much throw cream pies! It was refreshing to see the Muppets again, regardless of the format, and it provided a great platform for our favourite performers to improvise and mess about onscreen (and below screen) without a giant big-budget movie rolling around them.

Plus, everyone buying the DVD also found themselves in possession of a special Backstage pass that brought us a Pepe-tastic All-Access Tour behind the scenes where the Muppets and Muppeteers truly had an opportunity to throw themselves fully into the crazy, funny, amusing antics of the Muppets off-screen.

So, if you find yourself living in a Region labeled with a giant “2” and alone in the DVD aisle of your local supermarket, be sure to pick up a copy of The Muppets Studio Presents Studio DC Almost Live Extended Edition on DVD now!

...hang on a minute...

How did I NOT see this diary entry morph into a DVD review...again. Subtle.

Well, diary, I am sorry to say, I shall be sending this page to Ryan later as proof that you are still alive...with a warning. Full Mindset Access... or your diary remains as Mine.

Love and kisses,
The British C.









The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

Feb 25, 2011

PBS Funding in Danger: Help Save Sesame Street

Greetings, Muppet fans! We have an interesting post for you today... now, on The Muppet Mindset we've never been political or taken a stance on any real political issues (mostly because we don't know what they're about). But today, we feel like we have to report on this issue that could alter the lives of millions and millions of men, women, and especially children for the worse. We feel that this issue is something that all Muppet fans can relate to and support... because if we don't, it could mean Sesame Street will lose its home of over 40 years.

The Republicans of the United States Congress are proposing massive budget cuts, including a complete removal of funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which supports both National Public Radio (NPR) and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), the latter of which has been the exclusive broadcaster of new episodes of Sesame Street since 1969. This would mean the loss of millions of dollars in funding to public entertainment and media outlets and an extreme loss in funding to programs on public networks.

PBS president Paula Kerger said it best when she stated, "It's America's children who will feel the greatest loss, especially those who can't attend preschool." The American children will lose Sesame Street, Between the Lions, Barney and Friends, Dinosaur Train, Sid the Science Kid, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Arthur, Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, The Electric Company, and countless other high-quality television programs that educate the children of the United States every single day.

Granted, not all of PBS's funding comes from the CPB, but at least 15% of it does, and taking out 15% of funding from the station that broadcasts numerous programs from Sesame Workshop, a nonprofit organization, is a huge blow to their funding and their ability to produce programming.

No one knows how much a complete CPB national funding cut will affect Sesame Street or PBS, nor do we know how hard it would hit the already financially struggling PBS stations around the country. Whatever the amount it will hit, it certainly will not be a beneficial law for them.

So whatever your political affiliation, I sincerely hope you can stand behind the drive to save the CPB, NPR, PBS, and the home of Sesame Street and countless other timeless, wonderful children's television programs that have educated and been beloved by millions and millions of people, of all walks of life, of all political affiliations, all over the country. I would be willing to bet all I have that an overwhelming majority of these Republican congressman have had children and grandchildren who have been affected by Sesame Street and they don't even realize it.

If you would like to read more about the budget debates and the plight of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, please read this ABC News article all about it.

If you would like to support the cause, please sign this online petition or, better yet, write a physical letter or an email to your Congressman or woman.

There are over 75 million graduates of Sesame Street in the United States alone... Big Bird, Elmo, Grover, Cookie Monster, Bert, Ernie, Oscar the Grouch, and countless other characters have touched the lives of children for over 40 years. It seems wrong to see them go at this point, so supporting the CPB and PBS and NPR is an extremely important ideal for anyone who has been touched by a sunny day.









The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

Feb 24, 2011

Oscar Grouches Up the Oscars

The Academy Awards are this Sunday, February 27th, and I for one am very, very excited (even though Toy Story 3 probably won't win Best Picture). And while I'd love to dedicate this post to filling out all of my predictions for the Oscar winners, you probably just wouldn't care--however, if I were to tell you that Oscar the Grouch has made his predictions for the Oscar winners, you'd obviously just eat it up.

Well then, Muppet fans... slap on your bibs and dine on this wonderful video of Oscar the Grouch and his 2011 Oscar predictions via AOL's "You've Got..." series!



Did ya see it? Good! Now SCRAM!

Image courtesy of BleedingCool.com, available on a t-shirt as well.







The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

Feb 23, 2011

Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Guy Smiley

GUY SMILEY

Performed by...
Jim Henson (1969-1990)
Eric Jacobson (2005-2008)

First appearance...
Sesame Street Season 1 (1969) 

Most recent appearance...
Sesame Street Season 39, Episode 4182 (2008)

Best known role...
Sesame Street's frantic, excited, multi-talented game show host.

Memorable quote...
"This is Guy Smiley, America's favorite game show host!"

WHO IS GUY SMILEY?
Guy Smiley is everyone's favorite game show host who has worked on numerous shows on Sesame Street. His most well-known shows include "Beat the Time" and "What's My Part?"

In the early days of the show, Guy Smiley was an integral part of the Sesame Street interstitial cast. Anytime a host was needed for a wildly out of control game show (that still educated, of course), Guy Smiley was the obvious choice for the part.

In his work on the game shows, Guy Smiley got to work with countless popular Sesame Street characters, including Grover, Count von Count, Cookie Monster, Prairie Dawn, Forgetful Jones, and Sherlock Hemlock.

Guy Smiley has also worked alone on a few occasions, performing a few musical numbers on the show. One of his best known songs is "Air," in which he makes a song pitch to sell the listeners air--"But please don't send us money, 'cause it's absolutely free!"

Through the 1990s and early 2000s, after the death of Jim Henson, Guy Smiley has faded into semi-obscurity, only making a few scattered vocal appearances in Sesame Street computer games. His first real appearance after Jim Henson was in 2006 in a PBS "Ready to Learn" promo where he was performed by Eric Jacobson, and again in 2008 in a brand new street story with Gilbert Gottfried.

GUY SMILEY GAME SHOWS
Guy Smiley has hosted a myriad of game shows on Sesame Street. Here are a few of his favorite game show hosting roles.
  • "What's My Part?"
  • "Beat the Time"
  • "Here is Your Life"
  • "Name That Sound!"
  • "The Mr. and Mrs. Game"
  • "What's My Letter?"
  • "What's Prairie's Problem?"
  • "Bring That Thing"
  • "This is Your Lunch"
  • "The Anything-in-the-World Prize Game"
WHY DOES SESAME STREET NEED GUY SMILEY?
Sesame Street could easily use Guy Smiley for countless game show parodies. Game shows are still very popular in the world of television today so there's no reason that Guy couldn't be used as a host to parody these shows. 1 vs. 100 is just asking to be done by Sesame! Eric Jacobson is also a great recast for Guy and matches Jim Henson's enthusiasm in the role, so a lack of performer isn't a good reason not to keep Guy Smiley around.

It would be wonderful to see more of Guy Smiley again... he fills the job of host, emcee, and salesman better than almost anyone on the Street. Guy Smiley is America's favorite game show host, so why not bring him back into the mix?









The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

Feb 22, 2011

A Message from The British Correspondent - Episode V: The British Strike Back


The British Correspondent - Hello International Muppet Fans. I have broken The Muppet Mindset code long enough to post this short message. Today, in Sheffield (a small city in a tiny town up north) in a giant shopping centre, high above the eating masses, I... I, myself... spotted one giant video screen projection of the actual Swedish actual Chef actually popping actual corn (the corn may not have been actual). It was, in fact, the "Popcorn" YouTube video... but up on a huge promo-screen usually reserved for self-promotion of the mall's inner stores. It was so awesome to see and also to notice people subtly watching and even beginning to dance. I particularly noticed that when Swedish (are we calling him that since Hannah Montan's brother did?)  answered his mobile and the music stopped everyone kinda went, "Aww..." and then hopped a bit when the music started up again. Brightened up my day of spying on the Disney Store waiting for Ryan to approach...(Turns out that I had mistaken "Rain" for "Ryan" in the weather forecast again...)

Also... did you know that the UK cinema release date for The Muppets is a whole three months after the US release?! Yes, The Muppets isn't being released here in the UK until February 17, 2012! I am enraged by this news and simply must find a way to either be in the US for the November release or lock myself in a freezer until the UK release as to avoid every spoiler available. Hmm... surely Ryan will let me stay in his house again, yes? His cat loves me!

Anyway, that is all. Good night, sweet creatures.

-- The British C.


-- P.S. To you, JARROD FAIRCLOUGH, I have but one mature, serious, thing to say in response to your unprovoked attack on my "About Us" image...and it is thus: If you love QUESTION MARKS so much why don't you just marry them!









The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

Feb 21, 2011

The Life of an International Muppet Fan: Andreas Qassim, Part One

Today we start a very exciting new series here on The Muppet Mindset. Welcome to The Life of an International Muppet Fan! We start off our series with friend of the blog Andreas Qassim, who had previously submitted some wonderful fan art for us and designed the new header for the series as well. Andreas lives in Sweden and provides a great profile on the life of a Muppet fan living in Sweden!

Andreas Qassim
(Sweden)
Part One




Where it all started...
The Muppet Show was an early acqcuaintance for me. While the original show aired 1976-81, Mupparna didn't reach Sweden until 1978. Born in 1977, that would've made me around five or six when the show ceased its successful run on Swedish Television.

I clearly remember the Linda Ronstadt episode, the last but one episode of the entire series. Five year old me was enchanted by the closing number, "When I Grow to Old to Dream," and I have loved the song ever since. After that, Mupparna left Swedish television screens for what seemed forever.



Svenska Sesam...
In 1981, a Swedish version of Sesame Street called Svenska Sesam premiered. The title sequence with Hansson and Fia Jansson (the parrot and the pink hippo) was animated by Owe Gustafson. In the seventies he'd animated the titles for the highly popular Fem myror är fler än fyra elefanter (Five Ants Are More Than Four Elephants), an educational children's show that was clearly inspired by Sesame Street. Svenska Sesam mixed live action segments starring Swedish actors and no puppets with dubbed puppet segments from Sesame Street.



Swedish television in the early 80s...
Things were quite different in the early eighties. Today, in our part of the world, everything is available at an arm length's distance. Back then, we had only two state owned channels, TV1 och TV2. Cable TV was on its way, but it didn’t reach our household until a decade later. TV-series aired one episode per week. That means whenever popular series like Mupparna or Dallas were on, the whole country watched.

TV-shows were commonly preceded by this digital clock, counting down the seconds. Just before the hand reached its destination, my mother would say "NOW!", and then as if by magic Mupparna began. I never understood how she did that. I tried placing myself in front of the TV when the clock was on, saying "NOW!" repeatedly, but Mupparna wouldn't start. It only worked when my mother did it...



Merchandise...
There wasn't too much merchandise around in those days. So whenever you got your hands on a drawing pad with a Rolwf the Dog cover, or a Fozzie Bear mug, your luck was made. Not to mention if you got a plastic figurine. Boy, that was really something. Then there were the trading cards. All kids collected these and traded with each other in kindergarten and school. I had about half of the 78 cards (they were numbered, so you could keep track of which ones you had and didn’t have). When I moved to Malmö in my early twenties, I was flabbergasted when I found the complete collection in a toy collector's store. I bought the remaining ones and mounted all the cards on a black piece of cardboard and framed it.

trading cards

MuppetWiki article on the Swedish Muppet trading cards!

Muppet Comics...
There were no more than three muppet comic books altogether, Full rulle med mupparna (The Comic Muppet Book), Mupparna går i däck (Muppets at Sea) and Det milda gänget (The Mild Bunch). I read these over and over, drew in them, and cut out the muppets, until they literally fell apart, so we had to re-buy them every now and then. Then there was of course the Gilchrist Brothers' Mupparna (The Muppets) in the news papers and magazines. I used to collect these and make my own books. A month ago I got my copy of the first Gilchrist collection Short Green and Handsome. That was super precious. I felt like a kid again.

svenska_muppet_covers

worn out muppet comics

Drawing...
We didn't have a VHS player until I was like ten, so the only way I could stay in the world of the muppets was through the merchandise, the comics and drawing. As a kid I was always drawing. My best friend Axel was also good at drawing. We used to play with action figures, make clay films, stage puppet plays and draw books and comics. I often credit the muppets for being the starting point of my creative life. The truth is that I was very much affected by TV in general. If you go through my childhood drawings you'll clearly see what was on TV at the time, whether it was the Muppets, Tintin or V. The greatest inspiration was the combination TV-series/comic book/merchandise. Thus I watched, played with and drew Mupparna, Sesam, Fragglarna, Tintin, Star Wars, He-Man, G.I.Joe and Bamse. The latter is the Swedish children's comic book for which I've now been drawing professionally for ten years.



Fragglarna...
Fragglarna did its first run on Swedish television 1984-85. Like Svenska Sesam it was dubbed to Swedish. The voices were great, but I remember reacting to Doc's (Gerard Parkes) bad lipsynching. Of all Henson productions, Fragglarna is the one I have the most vivid memories of. Probably because I was at that age when your mind is like a sponge, absorbing everything it comes into contact with.

Fraggle Rock title sequence in Swedish!

I remember the first time I saw fraggle merchandise. I was at the local swimming pool with my mum, and in the reception, on the desk, right in front of my nose stood a Wembley plastic figurine. I was so excited! Shortly after we went down to the toy store and I got my first plastic fraggle and doozer. I think I collected them all in the end. Or is there anyone missing?

plastic fraggles

Then a few days before Christmas, I saw on the top shelf in our wardrobe a wrapped present that had been torn a bit in the corner. Underneath it I could spot a Fraggle Rock plush doll carton. On Christmas Eve (when Swedes open their Christmas presents) I discovered it was Boober, my favorite fraggle. Next Christmas I got Uncle Traveling Matt, another favorite. These worn out toys are still sitting on my bookshelf today.

boober & matt

By the time of Fragglarna I had developed a system of recording the TV shows (still no VHS player). I would hang a microphone in front of the TV loudspeakers and record the sound to magnetic tape. It required that my mother, my friends or whoever was in the room had to stay absolutely silent during the show. I was totally fascist about this! Didn't tolerate any noise whatsoever. Then I would listen to the sound and draw from memory. I made books and paper dolls, and sets or "cities" as I liked to call them. Through drawing I found I could stay in the TV-worlds as much as I wanted to.

I took this to an extreme with Tintin. At the age of seven or eight, I was so intrigued by Tintin going to the moon, I recorded the miniseries - four episodes I think - and then drew the whole story. I ended up with 460 pages that my grandfather later bound into a nice hard cover book.

tintin on the moon

Tune in next week for Part of The Life of a Swedish Muppet Fan, when you'll hear Andreas say: It's The Muppet Show, on VHS! YEEEAAAH!!!








The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

Feb 20, 2011

Almost Daily Fraggle Rock Quotations: Week 16

Hey folks! Well, it's Sunday again, and it looks like it's my turn to post some lovely quotations. Had a little fun with how I wrote the quotations on my board this time around... Although I've been slipping the past few days due to illness. Sad times. Where's Boober when you need him?


The Incredible Shrinking Mokey: "Wembley, can YOU control YOUR puppet?" --Boober Fraggle


A Dark and Stormy Night: "I got ways of knowin', and I know they're right for me!" --Junior Gorg


Gunge the Great and Glorious: "Dance like crazy 'til you're fallin' down!" --Gunge


The Bells of Fraggle Rock: "There will be motion in the stillness, as there is music in the silence." --Cantus the Minstrel


Sprocket's Big Adventure: "And it sometimes seems You can see your dreams In the sight that fills your eyes." --The Doozers


Ah, yes, that's a nice little set of quotations. And hey, look! I got all three major species again! Go me! Now, do you know which one of these quotations I've been planning to write up even longer than I've been doing these Almost Daily Fraggle Rock Quotations? I'll give you a hint: It's the one that spent several months on a post-it note on my tissue box.










The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

Feb 18, 2011

News Update: February 18, 2011


NEWS UPDATE: February 18, 2011

As we reported earlier this week, Elmo, Cookie Monster, and Telly appeared on Bravo's Top Chef on Wednesday night to judge a cookie making contest. (With no tongues? No way.) The whole episode has yet to surface online--which is fine, because the Sesame Street monsters only appeared in he first half of the show--but there is a great behind-the-scenes segment on Hulu, which you can see below!



Speaking of Elmo, our good friends on the team of Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey and Muppet Mindset correspondent Chase Beecher have informed us that the film will be screening at another film festival! This time at the SXSW (South By Southwest) Festival in Austin, Texas. No word yet on if Elmo or Kevin Clash will be in attendance, but you can find all the information about screening times and locations at SXSW's website and BeingElmo.com.

More exciting news from the world of Sesame comes in the form of a brand new Sesame Street video game, via our friends at ToughPigs.com, being produced for XBox 360 and compatible with its Kinect accessory. The game is tentatively titled "Once Upon a Monster" and features Elmo and Cookie Monster in a Where the Wild Things Are like world. The Kinect allows you to play games using your whole body, so the game is designed to improve youngster's motor skills and reaction times. The game will be available this fall and we'll keep you posted as new information surfaces!

Last Sunday, a group of fantastic Jim Henson Company puppets appeared on the Grammys with Cee Lo Green and Gwyneth Paltrow performing Cee Lo's hit "(Forget) You." In case you missed our coverage of it on Valentine's Day, here's another look at the wonderful appearance!



While we're on the subject of The Jim Henson Company, exciting news has surfaced about their partnering with Guillermo Del Toro in producing a new film based on the Pinocchio story. Apparently the Henson Company is designing puppets for the film. Once again, our good friends at ToughPigs have the scoop and some exclusive, awesome looking images for us to ogle.

You didn't think we'd be done with The Jim Henson Company that quickly, did you? Good. Because Jim Henson's Fantastic World opened this past Saturday in Peoria, Illinois and will run through May 21st. And, apparently, Jane Henson will be appearing in person on February 24th! Check out all the information about the exhibit at this local newspaper's website. Also... let us know if you'll be going to see Jane Henson on the 24th, because we think our own Ryan Dosier will be there!


In our grand tradition in mentioning ToughPigs far too many times in our News Updates, we've got another ToughPigs link in the form of their fantastic coverage of ToyFair 2011. They've got tons of pictures of upcoming Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock merchandise and a video of Elmo and Cookie Monster in person at ToyFair! How cool is that? Also... before you freak out, there isn't any new Muppet merchandise presented, and we're fairly certain that this is because Disney is holding off on a big marketing push for the Muppets until ComicCon in the summer where they can showcase merchandise closer to the film's release date. But we don't really know anything for sure, so please don't quote us on that, because, really, we know nothing and we just like to talk.

But, hands down the most exciting news of the week, in my humble opinion, is the thrilling announcement that The Muppets will be preceded in theaters by a brand new Toy Story short film! The Muppets and Pixar have always had a great respect and homage paying thing with each other--in fact, Disney even put The Muppets script through the Pixar brain trust--so this is pretty much the perfect partnership. I've hardly met any Muppet fans that aren't also Toy Story fans... so this is basically the best possible situation! I for one am extremely excited for this hugely awesome pairing. Kudos, Mouse House! Gotta love that synergy.

And, finally, I have to be unprofessional for a minute and make a shout out to Sean, my best friend in the world, who said he'd actually get around to checking out my website if I made a shout out to him in a post (I know how it sounds, but he really is a good friend). So... there it is and I've probably completely lost my credibility as a professional blogger (what professional--I don't get paid) by doing this... but hey, I've got to get him to see it somehow. Oh, and so I don't get in trouble... I'll also shout out to Peter, Hannjoo, Tiffany, Sam, and Mickey too.










The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier