1 The Muppet Mindset: September 2010

Sep 30, 2010

Jim Henson's Fantastic World Blows Away the Windy City

Today we have a very, very exciting article from new contributor Danny Beckwith. Danny visited the Jim Henson's Fantastic World exhibit last Thursday in Chicago, Illinois for its members-only preview night. He visited with The Jim Henson Legacy's Karen Falk and Arthur Novell, along with Muppet legend, now president of The Jim Henson Legacy, Bonnie Erickson. There's nothing more for me to say that Danny didn't already, so enjoy this look at an exclusive event!

Jim Henson's Fantastic World: Chicago
Member's Night Preview Event

Danny Beckwith - 5:30pm-9:00pm Members Night Preview, 7:00pm-8:00pm Lecture

I arrived at 5:24pm and a long line had already formed running the length of the main hall. At 5:30pm the line started moving and people began to experience Jim Henson’s Fantastic World.

The West Auditorium is where the lecture took place at 7:00pm. I arrived with a friend around 6:15 and the seats were virtually empty, and by 6:30 the room was filled. I had secured seats, however, right amongst the reserved seating for The Jim Henson Legacy members.

Besides the sound of the audience making small talk, songs from The Muppet Show: Music, Mayhem, and More! CD could be heard. Above the stage on a large screen was projected a menu from a DVD created for the lecture that contained six video clips. The stage was still empty, but the seats around me were filling up. By 6:45 the auditorium was filled with Museum members and members of The Jim Henson Legacy, including Executive Director Arthur Novell. Seated nearby was also Chicago Museum of Science and Industry Director of Temporary Exhibits, Anna Rashford.

At 7:05, Anne Rashford took to the podium to make an introductory speech. During her time at the podium, she mentioned how Jim Henson was an “inventive genius,” likening his work to a scientist, which I was very pleased to hear. She also introduced The Jim Henson Legacy members, Arthur Novell, Karen Falk, and, special guest, President of The Jim Henson Legacy, Bonnie Erickson!

A representative of the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition spoke next. She spoke of the joy of working with the Jim Henson Legacy and Karen Falk, and introduced Karen as the next speaker. She came on the stage and acknowledged the Legacy members again and also Bill Grisham, whose wife was in the audience that night. Bill Grisham had worked with Jim Henson in the 1960’s. Karen Falk then explained how the lecture would consist of an overview of Jim’s work, using the six clips on the DVD. She started with Jim’s early career–mainly Sam and Friends and Wilkin’s Coffee commercials.
  • Sam and Friends: Harry the Hipster is in front of a weather map. He explains that he is the new weatherman for the station. Kermit enters the scene and says that the station already has a weatherman. Harry informs Kermit that he’s not giving the weather, he’s selling it. Kermit tells him that you can’t sell the weather. Harry shows Kermit the crates of weather he has for sale: sunshine, thunderstorm, fog, snowstorm, rain, monsoon season, and tempest (in a teapot). Each weather crate, as it opens, has hilarious results for Kermit.
  • Wilkins Coffee: Karen Falk explained that this was the second audience in 55-60 years who got to see these commercials
    • Construction Worker – Wontkins falls off a building structure
    • Club – Wilkins hits Wontkins with a club
    • Falling Safe – Wontkins is hit by a falling safe
    • Biplane – Wilkins flies a plane upside and Wontkins falls out
Karen then explained the 1960’s of Jim’s career and how he had gained a national audience and a larger team: Jerry Juhl, Don Sahlin, Frank Oz, and Jane Henson. This was also the time that commercials like Purina Dog Chow with Rowlf, Chicago based Wilson’s Meat, and the La Choy Dragon were shown.

  • The La Choy Dragon: Karen introduced this clip as a presentation on the La Choy Dragon made by Jim that was a joke of sorts. The clip started with a meeting comprised of Jim Henson and the La Choy Company. Jim says, “The idea of a real fire-breathing dragon intrigued me.” The rest of the presentation shows the process of Jim, Jerry, Don, and Bill Grisham creating the La Choy Dragon. Don keeps making bigger and bigger explosions throughout the clip, eventually leading to everyone escaping out a window. The building then catches on fire, then the roof, and then the whole building is in flames and destroyed. The audience loved it!
  • The Ed Sullivan Show: "Mahna Mahna"
Karen then explained how Jim had tried experimenting with film. She mentioned Timepiece and how Jim experimented in animation, as demonstrated by two clips.

  • Bufferin: A commercial for headache medicine that showed how a man was remembering a wonderful day with his family, then realized that that day was almost ruined with a headache. It showcased Jim’s fascination with visual thinking.
  • NBC News – "The Ordeal of the American City;" The opening of an NBC news program
The second half of the lecture started with a brief discussion of the 1960’s and how Jim was thinking about how to focus his career. That’s when a call from Jon Stone would change everything. Sesame Street was about to be born. This was a time when Jim produced a whole slew of short films for the famous street, including ventures into the mediums of stop-motion, traditional animation, and computer animation.

  • "Henson King of Eight"
  • "Dance Myself to Sleep"
The next step in Jim’s career from Sesame Street was the variety show, mainly The Muppet Show. Karen talked about how Lord Lew Grade would produce, as long as the show was filmed in London. Karen explained how The Muppet Show was instrumental to Jim’s success. It was seen by 235 million people a week in over 120 countries; an international success. This impact is what influenced Fraggle Rock in the 1980s. Jim wanted to make a show that promoted world peace, it’s now 20 years later, and as Karen Falk observed, that we will be “hopefully having world peace soon.

  • The Muppet Show: Pearl Bailey Episode - The final production number, a hilarious mash-up of musical numbers because Kermit couldn’t get the rights to Camelot
  • Fraggle Rock: "Let Me Be Your Song;" introduction of Cantus the Minstrel
After the last clip, Karen introduces Bonnie Erickson. Bonnie takes the stage to thunderous applause. Bonnie was such a great speaker. She discussed how the opening in Chicago is very special: Miss Piggy makes here premiere! A glamorous premiere, too, in her wedding dress.

She recalls how Piggy came about when a call for a “sexy female character” caused a change in a sketch on Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass. Piggy began as a “shy and naïve” young pig named Miss Piggy Lee, but that name did not stay. But the shy and naïve disappeared during the karate chop eureka moment on The Muppet Show. Bonnie explained how Kermit is Miss Piggy’s rock, a calming influence for the pig. And of course, how could you talk about Miss Piggy without mentioning her perfume, books, and fan clubs right around the time The Great Muppet Caper premiered. Bonnie also mentioned the marriage at the end of The Muppet Takes Manhattan; are Kermit and Miss Piggy married? We know what Piggy would say!

  • “Return to Beneath the Planet of the Pigs”: Piggy’s big debut
  • Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass: Piggy is the girl singer to perform with Herb
  • The Muppet Show: Season 1; Miss Piggy as a chorus girl
  • The Muppet Show: Ruth Buzzi Episode; the karate chop eureka moment
  • The Muppet Show: Elton John Episode; Piggy sings “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” with Elton John
  • The Great Muppet Caper: “The First Time It Happens”; Piggy the movie star
  • The Muppets Take Manhattan: "Manhattan Melodies" marriage
Bonnie had a great sense of humor as displayed by her closing comment to the clips, “Kermit’s contract states he is at the beginning of the exhibit.” Bonnie also alluded to Miss Piggy coming back to Chicago in November to shoot a movie! Hmmm... does that mean the Muppets will be in the Windy City?!

I hung around after the lecture to talk to both Bonnie and Karen. Bonnie was the sweetest person and we had a wonderful conversation. Karen as well was great to talk to and meet. She even signed my Jim Henson’s Designs & Doodles book! Both ladies spoke amazingly well and gave avid fans and casual fans something to appreciate over the course of the presentation.

Afterward, I visited the exhibit and was ecstatic. I had already seen the exhibit in Orlando, Florida, but the addition of Miss Piggy, the wedding cake topper, and a “Manhattan Melodies” playbill.

Bonnie Erickson and Danny

Special thanks to Danny for the fantastic look into the preview event!

If you are in or near the Chicago area, be sure to visit the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry between now and January 23rd, 2011. Tickets cost just $5 for adults and seniors and $2 for children (ages 3-11)--if you're close, how can you pass it up? You're truly depriving yourself of an amazing, one of a kind experience if you pass up on this exhibit.

Our very own Lisa the Intern visited opening day of the exhibit and we'll have her article coming very soon to a blog near you (as in... this blog, that is currently near you)!

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

Sep 29, 2010

Weekly Muppeteer Wednesdays: Frank Oz

We have another installment of Weekly Muppeteer Wednesdays on The Muppet Mindset today, once again written by Tom Stroud. As always, if you would like to contribute to either Weekly Muppet Wednesdays or Weekly Muppeteer Wednesdays, send me an email at ryguy102390@gmail.com!

May 25, 1944

Muppet Characters...
Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, Bert, Grover, Cookie Monster, Sam the Eagle, Marvin Suggs

Born Richard Frank Oznowicz into a family of British puppeteers, by age 12 Frank Oz was performing with the Oznowicz Family Marionettes troupe with the rest of his family.

Frank met Jim Henson at 17 at the Puppeteers of America festival. He was amazed at Jim's Muppet characters, and two years later joined Muppets, Inc. He started out performing Rowlf's right hand in variety appearances. He also began to use the shortened form of his name, after an appearance on The Jimmy Dean Show in which Jimmy dean introduced him as "Frank Oz...," mumbling the rest of the name. He also worked on commercials, assisting on characters such as the Southern Colonel, Nutty Bird, and, most notably, The La Choy Dragon. The La Choy Dragon was one of Frank's only full-bodied Muppets, as he hated performing them.

When Jim Henson and the Children's Television Workshop created Sesame Street, Frank was there too, originating characters such as Bert, Grover, and Cookie Monster.  During those early years, Frank was in almost every sketch. Unfortunately, he now appears much less due to his busy schedule.

Frank also played a major role in The Muppet Show, performing many popular characters, including Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, and Sam the Eagle. He also preformed the hands of The Swedish Chef, often doing unrehearsed and unexpected things with the hands without telling Jim Henson, who preformed the rest of the Muppet.

In 1980, George Lucas, the creator of the Star Wars films, asked Henson about a puppet character he wanted for his second film, The Empire Strikes Back. As Henson was too busy, he sent Lucas to Frank, who was assigned as chief puppeteer and creative consultant. Frank had a big part in the design of the character Yoda, and is credited with Yoda's trademark reversed speech.

Frank soon began to direct films, co-directing The Dark Crystal with Jim Henson, and directing The Muppets Take Manhattan on his own, while still performing his own Muppets. He then began to branch out more, directing Little Shop of Horrors, his first non-Henson movie. He still continues to direct, causing his unofficial retirement from performing in Muppet productions, as directing takes up much of his time.

Beginning in the mid-1990's, he began to distance himself from Muppet productions. He still occasionally performs his Sesame Street characters, but after Muppets from Space, his main Muppet characters were recast to Eric Jacobson. He explained in interviews that this is because of many reasons, such as his kids and the fact that he never really wanted to be a puppeteer, but rather a journalist or director. He continues  to direct, and in recent years has directed films such as The Stepford Wives and 2007's original Death at a Funeral.

Special thanks to Tom Stroud for the article and to Frank Oz for... well, what's not to thank for (well, besides The Stepford Wives).


The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

Sep 28, 2010

41 Favorite Sesame Street Segments

41 Favorite Sesame Street Segments (in No Particular Order)!
Michael Wermuth, Jr. - Well, Sesame Street’s 41st season just started, so what better way to kick off the 41st year than with a listing of my 41 favorite Sesame Street moments. Now, in the past I’ve made other lists of the favorite Sesame Street songs that haven’t been released on albums, that haven’t been released on DVD, my favorite segments from last decade, and the top five segments I didn’t know about until sesamestreet.org… But this isn’t about whether the segments are available on CD, DVD, or online, it’s my top 41 favorite segments from Sesame Street, in no particular order!
2.       Grover asks Kermit, The Count, and Sully why the number 2 is their favorite numbers (and it isn’t any of theirs!)
3.       Rubber Duckie
4.       C is for Cookie
5.       Oscar, Bruno, and the adults go to the Cha-Cha Palace
6.       Kermit’s W Lecture
9.       Prairie Dawn invites Grover, Herry, and Cookie Monster to dinner
11.   Jazz #7
18.   That Grouchy Face – with James Taylor
19.   Jim Carrey: Happy and Sad feet
20.   Squeal of Fortune
21.   D-Dance
26.   Snuffy jumps on Big Bird’s trampoline
27.   Cookie Monster and the Count co-operate on eating and counting cookies
28.   Super Grover: Telephone Booth
33.   Number Three Ball Film
34.   Mystery Guest
35.   Disco Frog
Honorable Mention: Every version of “What’s the Name of That Song?” The song is so good, and every version I’ve seen is great, whether it’s sung by Forgetful Jones, Bert and Ernie, or the entire cast (or really most of the then-current humans and some Muppet characters).
Well, that’s my list. I chose not to include anything from season 41, mainly because the season hasn’t been completely broadcast yet, but I have seen a few clips on sesamestreet.org and Sesame Street’s YouTube channel that I would have liked to have included (such as “Hot and Cold” with Katy Perry and “What I Am” with Will.I.Am).

Do you agree with Michael's list? Are there more segments you'd like to have seen included? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter!

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier 

Sep 27, 2010

Muppet Comic Mondays: Muppet Mash #3

The Muppet Show Comic Book #10
Muppet Mash Part Three: Monster Munch
Written and Illustrated by Roger Langridge

James Gannon - Muppet Mash features a perfectly-timed Halloween friendly story arc with the last issue to be released in October. But would you believe that the September issue, Issue #3, is the one that actually takes place on Halloween?

For this very special occasion, Kermit has booked the famous (and quite old) Howlin’ Jack Talbot. This legendary blues/rock musician wrote the Halloween favorite, "Monster Munch" (which, as you can expect is a fairly obvious parody of "Monster Mash," performed later this issue). While last issue’s guest star was a favorite of the old coots in the balcony, this guest is a personal inspiration for the house band. Dr. Teeth and the rest of the Electric Mayhem welcome the chance to perform with their idol--except something very strange happens every time they do.  Howlin’ Jack mumbles “not again” and runs off, only to have a giant wolf (which bears an uncanny yet unconnected resemblance to Rowlf) run up on stage in his place, ruining the number even further. 

The old adage that one should never meet their hero holds true, as the Electric Mayhem get frustrated at his repetitive disappearance. Animal still likes him, and nibbles on a large bone he finds in Howlin’ Jack’s dressing room. Of course, two and two are finally put together, begging the question, is Howlin’ Jack’s mysterious secret that he really is a werewolf? All of which leads to a stunning climax, featuring a great performance by Animal and a very twisty-turny double twist of an ending. Oh, and there’s a clever little gag throughout. Silver bullets are the way to defeat a werewolf, and who better to dole it out but the Lonesome Stranger (couldn’t get the rights to the real one, I suppose).

The show opens up with perhaps the maddest version of Little Red Riding Hood a human being from this planet could tell, substituting a perfectly Muppety giant chicken instead of a wolf (and that's the sane part).  Bunsen tests a hair growth formula on Beaker, and Link Hogthrob: Monster Smasher takes on a giant monster attacking the city--a giant puppy. All of these sketches tie into the Werewolf theme to be sure. And it’s nice to see the story line center on the Electric Mayhem once again, after having a very important subplot in the Treasure of Peg leg Wilson arc. The addition of a guest star that’s more like an actual Muppet Show guest makes the thing really feel more like the show. I know Roger was pushing for a guest star related arc, and he managed to pull it off here anyway. And let’s not forget the off kilter musical numbers that deteriorate and just keep going. This is a very wild issue, even without a wolf running around.

One last thing... I can safely say that a major part of not having two variant covers came out of necessity. The cover is actually altered from an unused Mummy themed piece, swapping Howlin’ Jack and the Wolf for the Pharaohs of last issue, making me think that was supposed to be that issue’s variant. As we’ve seen with Family Reunion, some of the covers were supposed to be for different stories (said Guest Star Arc) and were done so far in advance that they had to actually be incorporated into the story somehow. A lot of these stories and concepts did change at last moment (the case with Snow White #4), and to actually have two different covers that don’t match the story (unless the story is changed to match the covers) wouldn’t be cost effective and tricky to work around. At least that’s what I’m getting.

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

Sep 26, 2010

What's Wrong (And Right) With Sesame Street's New Music Videos

Today we have a very exciting article for you, Muppet fans! It was written by the one and only Steve Swanson, host of The MuppetCast and it discusses the good, the bad, and the booby of Sesame Street's new music videos.
NOTE: This article was written before Sesame Street removed Katy Perry's song with Elmo from Season 41--but fret not, it still works just as well.
Remember that Sesame Street's 41st season starts tomorrow, September 27th on PBS

Steve Swanson - Many of us have probably wound up watching Sesame Street far beyond the years anybody thought we would. If not religiously, we still tune in at least every now and then. And as probably everyone reading this blog knows, Sesame is set to debut their new season tomorrow, Monday, September 27. As has been the case in previous years, the folks at Sesame Workshop just can't contain their excitement about all the new stuff they've created for the show, and they've released some of it to the web for fans to enjoy ahead of time. That's one of the reasons I like those folks; they all seem to be endlessly creative and passionate about the content they create that, for over forty years, has been educating and entertaining like nobody else.

Along with the Muppets themselves, I've been a longtime fan of Sesame Street music. There's something there, some magic ingredient, that sets it apart from almost all other children's music. Why has "I Love Trash" and "C is for Cookie" stuck with us for decades, when songs from other children's shows--such as 321 Contact or even The Electric Company--simply haven't? There is an inherent specialness that's hard to duplicate. Even when mainstream musicians make appearances on the show, their work takes on a new quality and in some cases lives on well into future popularity (case in point: R.E.M. with "Furry Happy Monsters").

But for a great number of fans, Sesame's musical hayday lies in its past. Recent years brought the inevitable shift from using real human musicians to largely synthetic music, and changing the overall style to more hip-hop and imitating other modern genres. And while some were very vocal in stating that something uniquely "Sesame" is now gone from the show's soundtrack, famous singers and musicians of all types still flock to the Street to lend their superb talents. Just two such individuals in the new Season 41 include singer Katy Perry and rapper Will.i.am.

I have little problem telling you I'm one of those folks who appreciate "classic" Sesame Street material over the new stuff. In fact, it kind of helps my story here. There are people who enjoy the newer Sesame Street music far more than I do. There are exceptions--I loved Feist's re-working of "1,2,3,4"-- but they are few. So when I saw The Muppet Mindset's link to a new Sesame tune sung by a rapper and co-founder of the Black Eyed Peas, I was... well "skeptical" is an understatement. But I dutifully clicked the link, and was absolutely delighted with what I saw and heard. It was a bright, cheery, incredibly fun and unbelievably catchy song! And simple; I couldn't believe how effective Will.i.am dancing and singing with a half-dozen of the main Muppets, in various combinations, in front of a plain white background really was. I'm singing the song in my head right now, just thinking about it! It's already my favorite thing from the new season. Too bad it only lasts a minute and a half.

I had my preconcieved notions, I was proven wrong, and as so often happens I learned something new and was truly glad for the experience.

Couple that with Katy Perry's newly-released Sesame video. I saw the links appear for this one while I was at work one afternoon, and couldn't wait to get home to watch it. I was still on my high from Will.i.am's "What I Am," and although I know nothing about Katy Perry except, well, her cherry chapstick, I thought if this was anything like my "What I Am" surprise, I was in for a treat.

I have to pause here and say that, prior to these experiences, I had never heard anything at all by Will.i.am or Katy Perry. So I need to ask you an honest question: is it weird that I don't know who these people are? I take pride in being blissfully unaware of pop culture and the "celebrity" landscape. Heck, I barely know who Ryan Seacrest is. Is that odd?  Anyway...

So I get home and eagerly click the link to watch Katy Perry's rendition of "Hot and Cold." And something strange happened. In one of those mind-flashing moments, I remembered back to my pre-"What I Am" mental state, expecting to be nonplussed or even put off and winding up being a rabid fan of the song. And then I compared that to my current "Hot and Cold" mindset-- that of eagerly anticipating watching the video, and then seconds into it, sinking into disappointment. Which eventually became appalled disbelief. I wound up turning it off.

Why am I writing this much about two little Sesame Street videos? Because these two specific examples demonstrate what's right--and still wrong--with some of the decision making regarding the show's content. I vehemently disliked the Katy Perry piece, and I wanted to be able to articulate specifically why it was so bad a fit for Sesame Street.

It's a little odd that Will.i.am's song, so simply put together and executed, could be so powerful and positive, while Katy Perry's video seemed to have so many components to it, and most of them were awful.

Let's start with her wardrobe. This is a simple one: overt cleavage is not appropriate for preschoolers. In any way. Do I need to repeat that? This went beyond distasteful; rather than simply cleavage, I saw much more of her upper anatomy than I ever want to see (on Sesame Street). Really, Sesame wardrobe people? That dress got signoff? I know you're better than that.

The song was refitted with lyrics for the Sesame audience, and that's how it usually goes with these things. It's her song "Hot and Cold," which I think I've heard in passing once or twice. While I couldn't understand what she was singing most of the time, it seemed good enough. But the song wasn't the guilty party here, it was everything around the song. The premise of this piece was that Elmo had told Katy they were going to play dress-up, and when Katy showed up in her dress-up costume (which Elmo would have had much more to say about had they been on Jay Leno or Jimmy Kimmel), Elmo decides he doesn't want to play anymore and takes off running. So Katy runs after him, chasing him every which way, all the while lamenting and singing how she always wants to play with him while he remains aloof.

The whole thing had nothing educational to offer--it hardly included a Sesame Street character. It was barely a Sesame-worthy piece; Elmo only seemed to be onscreen as an excuse to put this on the show. Almost every time you saw Elmo, he was secondary to Perry. This was unquestionably all about her, and it demonstrates exactly what I despise about many Sesame celeb appearances: it was an excuse for Katy Perry to appear on Sesame Street to get her hit song out there, and further expose promote herself.

Will.i.am didn't need a storyline behind his video. He didn't even need a background! With a good song, effective use of characters, appealing visuals, and a positive, self-affirming message, he did more in two minutes than Katy Perry, with all of her flashy, vapid, over-produced music and video, did in what felt like 20 minutes (but was probably more like four).

To the writers and producers of the show: you know we love you guys! We've stuck with you for over forty years, and by and large it's been great seeing the show evolve and serve the needs of today's youngsters. But when you're deciding on which high-profile people on invite on the set, please, please don't feel the need to stick celebrities in there just because they're the "it" thing today. Sometimes that's a good idea because they add something truly special to the show, something that stems from their natural talents and (in Will.i.am's case) gives something wonderful and invaluable to your audience. But with some individuals, as with Perry, you can get something empty, self-promoting, and at its worst, inappropriate for your audience.

As a quick sidenote, I was in for a third surprise when I watched Elmo and Rev. Run sing "Hop This Way" (a parody of Aerosmith's "Walk This Way"). I loved it! Cute, fun, and accessible to both kids and their parents.

Steve Swanson is the host of The MuppetCast, the only podcast dedicated to the work of Jim Henson and the Muppets. Every Sunday, The MuppetCast presents Muppet news, information, and entertainment completely free to fans worldwide. Subscribe in iTunes or at http://muppetcast.com.

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

Sep 25, 2010

"?" with Jarrod Fairclough: Katy Perry Lets it All Hang Out

"?" with Jarrod Fairclough
Because Asking Questions is a Good Way to Find Out Things

Hello Muppet fans! Thank you all for coming to this emergency meeting of my segment here on the Mindset, ‘?’. You may recall that a couple of weeks ago I introduced this segment as something that will make people think, something that will deal with the big issues. But instead, I wrote about Oscar the Grouch. Rest assured, I have an official answer for that article complete with answers from a very credible source, but we will get to that next time. Because today I’m actually going to ask an actually important, and highly relevant question.

TODAY'S QUESTION IS: Why the big fuss over Katy Perry on Sesame Street?

I like Katy Perry. I’ll admit it. I’m a straight male, and I think she’s darn good. For those who have no idea what has been going on, here's a recap: Katy Perry did a parody of her song “Hot ‘N Cold” with Elmo about Elmo’s ADHD or something like that. Basically Katy and Elmo sang their little song, it was previewed on YouTube on Sesame Street’s official channel, and all was right with the world...



About an hour before this happened, I watched the video ON YOUTUBE for the first time. And it was alright. Sure, Katy Perry was a little bit patronizing, but she’s hot, so whatever.

You can still see the video here, and I’ll wait until you’re back before I continue:

Now APPARENTLY the big problem is with what she’s wearing. It’s a green-yellow dress with a fleshy-meshy thing over her chest that reveals a fair bit of cleavage. It’s been called “inappropriate,” “too risky,” etc. by the public; but I want to make something clear my dear friends: we knew what she would be wearing in this video a long time ago! Oh yeah, did you feel that? Did you feel the ground shake? That was me dropping a bombshell!

The good people over at Muppet Wiki updated Katy’s page a while back with a photo of her with Elmo, presumably from the day she filmed this segment. What did that photo look like???


Hmm... Where have I seen that outfit before?

We had fair warning that Miss Perry would be wearing something slightly revealing on the show. Can you imagine if they asked Lady Gaga on the show? Oh... Think of the puppet head massacre!

Truth be told (and it must be some Katy Perry psychic thing I have) I did think when I saw that photo for the first time, ‘Hmm, she could have covered herself up a little.” But really, what’s the big deal? Let me go through some other revealing moments we’ve had on Sesame Street, shall I?
  •  All naked characters.  Including Elmo.  Maybe Katy was just trying to fit in?
  • Episode 4160: Maria in a bathrobe, apparently not wearing much underneath, with Gordon and an Elephant with her...
  • Episode 4210: Gordon, also in the tub...
  • Do De Rubber Duck – almost ten characters nude in the bath together
Need I really say more, my friends? Sesame Street is a show about letters, numbers, and the world. And scantily clad celebrities are a part of that world. And God bless them for it!

I won’t be looking for answers for this article as I usually would be, because let’s face it; I can’t get on to Katy Perry. I can see why Sesame took it off the website, but I also think it’s a ridiculous move.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go and download a copy of this video so that when the crap does hit the fan and this thing is banned from the internet, people will pay sweet, sweet dough to get a copy of it. It’s going to be on the black market or something! I’ll see you VERY soon with a follow up article to “Why is Oscar always drawn with a lid on his head”, but until then Muppet fans, remember to keep asking questions, because, as Sesame Street always taught us, asking questions is a good way to find out things... And don’t put scantily clad women on kids TV shows...

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

Sep 24, 2010

Happy Birthday Jim Henson and Steve Whitmire!

Today, September 24th, marks the birthday of both Jim Henson and Steve Whitmire, two of the greatest entertainers of all time. Last year we payed tribute to Jim and Steve with a collection of pictures of them both. This year we wanted to change it up a little bit with two videos on our YouTube channel showcasing some of their best songs, but the videos were removed for copyright violation... read on!


Greetings Muppet fans! I'm sure you're all aware that my videos celebrating Jim Henson and Steve Whitmire's birthdays were hastily removed due to apparent copyright violations (apparent here meaning... definite). When I first heard this I was less than pleased... I got rather ticked off and sort of grumbled for awhile... then I remembered something: It's Jim Henson's birthday. Who the heck cares that greedy copyright holders removed my videos? Today is a day to celebrate! 74 years ago today a genius was born, and 51 years ago the man who would continue that genius's legacy was born.

Yes, Jim Henson and Steve Whitmire have brought hours and hours of mirth and laughter and entertainment to the world, so it seems rather foolish to be perturbed on their birthday, no? So, instead, join me in celebrating all the wonderful things September 24th, 2010 has brought the world...
  • A brand new blog, Jim's Red Book, is now online from The Jim Henson Company. The blog will have a Jim Henson quote from his personal journal every day! How exciting is that?! You can also follow Jim's Red Book on Twitter!
  • Sesame Street Executive Producer Carol-Lynne Parente talks Katy Perry with Good Morning America. Later on in the clip, Elmo and Super Grover show up and are, go figure, AWESOME. This is a must-watch! If only to hear Grover ask if his outfit is too revealing.
  • Sesame Street's "True Blood" parody: "True Mud" on YouTube.
  • Elmo adorns the YouTube logo today. This is presumably in promotion of Elmo's brand new interview with YouTube where he answers YOUR questions (well, maybe not YOURS, exactly). Watch it, love it. Who cares about Katy Perry's boobs when we've got this?
  • Jim Henson's Fantastic World opens in Chicago, Illinois today! Our very own Lisa the Intern has been there since 10:30 this morning to see Jane Henson's special presentation for the grand opening of the exhibit, and last night at the preview event we had one of our Muppet Mindset correspondents there to see The Jim Henson Legacy's Karen Falk give a preview presentation. Look for some great new articles about the exhibit here on The Muppet Mindset very soon!
And with that, we bring this post to an end... well, not an exact end...

Happy Birthday, Jim and Steve! Thank you for everything you've done, did, and will continue to do for the world!

Now, Muppet fans, go forth and have a fantastic September 24th!! Wear a Muppet shirt, watch Muppet stuff, dance around with a puppet on your arm, do the hokey pokey and turn yourself around--after all, that IS what it's all about!

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

Sep 23, 2010

Mighty Fine Sesame Street T-Shirts

I was recently informed of some incredibly awesome new Sesame Street shirts over at Mighty Fine T-Shirts and I thought I would share the wealth with you, my lovely readers! These shirts are exclusively available online and they're pretty much awesome. There are seven wonderful shirts... here are my three favorites that I would really, really like to own. (You know, in case you guys were wondering what to get me for my birthday.)

Bert and Ernie "ABC 123" shirt. Yes, I think I can rock it like that.

The Count "Counting Ain't Easy" shirt. Obviously he's keeping his count-hand strong

THIS is Near!
And this Grover "Near and Far" shirt is AWESOME!
Check out Mighty Fine's complete collection of Sesame Street shirts and you'll be just as tempted as I am to buy them!

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

Sep 22, 2010

Weekly Muppeteer Wednesdays: Jim Henson

Today on The Muppet Mindset we start a brand new series brought to us by new contributor Tom Stroud. The premise is very simple... Weekly Muppeteer Wednesdays. A spin-off of our Weekly Muppet Wednesdays, Weekly Muppeteer Wednesdays will profile one Muppeteer in each article. I'm quite excited for these and I'm hoping they'll prove to be fun and informational for hardcore and casual fans alike! And now, without further ado, here's Tom Stroud's first presentation of Weekly Muppeteer Wednesdays



September 24, 1936

May 16, 1990

Muppet Characters...
Kermit the Frog, Rowlf the Dog, Ernie, Dr Teeth, Waldorf, The Swedish Chef, Cantus the Minstrel, Convincing John, Guy Smiley, Link Hogthrob

Since this is my first weekly Muppeteer post, I thought it was fitting that it be about the man behind the Muppets, the one, the only, Jim Henson. Jim grew up in Hyattsville, Maryland, a suburb near Washington D.C. 

In 1955, Jim was offered his own local show on WRC-TV, an NBC affiliate. The result was Sam and Friends, a five-minute TV show airing twice a day after the news and starring some of the first Muppets. It was there that the world was not only introduced to an early, more lizard-like Kermit the Frog, but Jim met his future wife, Jane Nebel.

It was around this time that Jim began to use his Muppets in TV commercials for local companies, launching Muppets, Inc. One of these characters was Rowlf the Dog. Rowlf helped the Muppets get the attention of the nation, appearing on national TV shows like Today, The Jimmy Dean Show, and The Ed Sullivan Show.

In 1969 the Children's Television Workshop, now called Sesame Workshop, approached Jim about creating a children's educational TV show featuring his Muppets. Jim was reluctant at first, as he didn't want the Muppets to be known solely as children's characters. However, he eventually agreed, and helped to create Sesame Street with the likes of Joan Ganz Cooney, Joe Raposo, and Jon Stone. On the show he preformed now well-known characters such as Kermit the Frog, Ernie, and Guy Smiley.

Jim, as mentioned earlier, didn't want his characters to be typecast as children's characters, and so he envisioned The Muppet Show, a half-hour TV show that quickly became one of the must successful television shows of all time. It was this show that introduced household names such as Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, and Gonzo. It was also this show that spawned a whole series of feature-length movies. These films introduced The Muppets to the outside world and a broader audience.

He also worked on several other projects, such as Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, fantasy films geared more towards adults, and The Jim Henson Hour, a new television show featuring some of the same characters from The Muppet Show with new characters in a new setting.

Unfortunately, in May 1990 it was discovered that Jim had a very rare bacterium called Group A streptococcus, that was discovered too late for treatment. He died at 1:21 a.m. on May 16, 1990.  His legacy still continues on though, with The Muppets, now owned by Disney, Sesame Street, under Sesame Workshop, and the efforts of The Jim Henson Company, which brings Jim's vision to life every day with new projects and revitalizing old properties such as Fraggle rock, The Dark Crystal, and Labyrinth. The Jim Henson Legacy is also extremely influential in keeping the magic of Jim Henson alive with touring exhibits, special programs, and much more.

And with that, I dedicate this first Muppeteer post to the lovers, the dreamers, and you, Jim

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier
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