phamos: (gonzotwirl)
My negligible Irish ancestry (hi, McNulty!) still gives me the right to wish all of you a Happy St. Patrick's Day! My also relatively meager Swedish ancestry implores you to watch the Swedish Chef sing "Danny Boy"!

phamos: (henson)
Last week was the 16th anniversary of Richard Hunt's death. Richard Hunt was one of the main muppeteers in the '70s and '80s; you may know him as the voice of Scooter, Janice, and Sweetums on The Muppet Show, or as Don Music, Forgetful Jones, and Gladys the Cow on Sesame Street, or even as Junior Gorg on Fraggle Rock. Richard Hunt died of AIDS in 1992 at the age of 40.

I wrote a couple of years ago (but I totally can't find it in my tags -- bogus) about how I found it disheartening that Muppet fans who attempted to even mention that Richard Hunt was probably gay got shut down very quickly. Yes, there is a Muppet fandom, mostly centered around a website called Muppet Central. Although I am obviously a big fan of the Muppets, I don't post very often on those posting boards, mostly because I've found other Muppet fans to be strange and offputting. Have any of you seen King of Kong? Yeah, well, that same level of socially awkward nerdery and arrested development, but without the hand-eye coordination and capacity for relatively advanced spacial analysis. Periodically on the Muppet Central boards, a Richard Hunt thread would pop up, and things would go along swimmingly for about 4 pages of people blubbering all over themselves about how he was an amazing puppeteer who brought joy into the lives of millions (which he was, and he did), and then someone would say, "So, hey, was he gay?" And other people would say, "Yeah, um, was he gay? Not that there's anything WRONG with that, um, hey, yeah, but, uh, was he? I think he probably was..." And then a moderator would sweep in and lock the thread and say people weren't even allowed to discuss the subject out of respect for his friends and family.


I'm all for being respectful of people's privacy, especially people who aren't alive to clear the record themselves. But I just thought it was pretty gross that some people found any mention of Hunt's possible sexuality to somehow be an insult to his memory, or somehow inherently distasteful. I'm not saying that we should have big long discussions on the technicalities of HOW he got AIDS -- how often he did it, what positions he did it in, whatEVER -- but, you know, people talk about Jim Henson's marriage and separation, and the fact that he had five kids. In a sense, that's talking about Jim Henson's sexuality just as much as saying the words "Richard Hunt was gay" is talking about his sexuality. Jim Henson was straight. Richard Hunt was, presumably, gay. (Yes, I realize I was working on a presumption all these years, but although it isn't politically correct to say so, the vast majority of young men who died of AIDS in the US in 1992 were homosexuals or intravenous drug users. The man was a rather flamboyant puppeteer. You do the math.) I was sad that, apparently, Richard Hunt's family hadn't come to terms with his homosexuality, and thus did not want it to be discussed. That, at least, was the impression that the Muppet Central moderators gave when they shut down threads "out of respect for his family."

But then last week the newest Muppet podcast went up -- it's a two hour tribute to Richard Hunt, including a ridiculously long, rambling conversation between the host and Richard Hunt's mother (who is extremely charming, but seriously -- that shit needed an editor). About 15 minutes into the conversation, Jane Hunt makes an offhand comment about Richard being gay, something about how he loved to go to the opera and how that was apparently a THING for gay men of a certain age. And the host is obviously IMMEDIATELY uncomfortable, and starts stuttering. Jane Hunt brings it up again, a couple of times actually, notably discussing how Richard had gone to Venice to scatter his lover's ashes. Oh, man, the host did NOT know how to field that one. At the beginning of the podcast, the host specifies that the interview should be rated "PG-13". And it suddenly struck me -- it was never Richard Hunt's family that didn't want people talking about his sexuality, or people at the Jim Henson Company. It was Muppet fans themselves, or at least a certain faction among them who found it distasteful. Let's look at this carefully -- grown men who obsessively watch puppet shows find it gross to talk about gay stuff in relation to "children's" entertainment. Does that strike anyone else as super ironic? Because, you know, this isn't about protecting the delicate sensibilities of children or whatever. Cuz really, kids don't care. And any kid who is old enough to be reading the internet is certainly old enough to know that there's such a thing as homosexuality -- and parents may do well to discuss it with their children in the context of a respected performer like Richard Hunt rather than letting them do their own research on less kid-friendly parts of the web. This is about ADULTS being uncomfortable with homosexuality, and I think that's pretty sad.

And that's all i have to say about that.
phamos: (henson)
Neil Gaiman won the 2007 Jim Henson Creativity Honor. A completely meaningless award, but one that makes me happy nonetheless.
phamos: (frazzle)
I don't remember if I mentioned this back when Old School Sesame Street Volume 1 came out, but I remember being shocked by it and am glad other people were, too: The DVD has a disclaimer saying that it is meant for adults and might not be suitable for "the needs of today's preschool child." So all the kids that grew up watching Sesame Street between 1969 and 1979 (the years covered by the two available sets) have been horribly mind-warped? Whew! Glad I just missed the cutoff. I'm sure volume three will be totally acceptable. After all, Elmo arrived in 1984. He'll make everything alright.
phamos: (gonzotwirl)
The new Sesame Street Old School DVD set includes "Me and My Llama". I was so pleased to see this I went "YAAAAAAAAAY!" really loud and freaked out the cat. There's never been a good quality rip of "Me and My Llama" on YouTube, so I had not enjoyed this in its full glory since I was a little kid. What a lovely surprise. Happy, happy, happy.
phamos: (buffy)
Things that make today a good day already:

Joss is making a new show. Starring Faithy-Schmaithy. This is the part where Siobhan gets very excited.

Someone more talented than I am carved a pumpkin to look like Death.

And one of my favorite Sesame Street clips is finally up on You Tube. I promise you, if you watch this all the way through "I-klahoma", you will smile.

phamos: (henson)
A link from my friend Joe:

So, if I could cook and had the skill and lots of time and money for ingredients and wasn't going to be hanging out with charlene instead of going to your bday party, this is surely the cake I would have told Segev he should hire someone to make.

phamos: (letmebeyoursong)
The five most perfect things created or performed by Jim Henson, in no particular order:

1. The Muppet Frog Prince. A lot of people may never have seen this, and it has yet to get a DVD release. I had the fact, I think we had TWO copies of the album, for some reason. It is one of three "Tales from Muppetland" that Henson did in the late '60s-early '70s, and it is perfectly wonderful and terrible entertaining through to the very end. (Although the prince that Robin turns into is disappointingly un-hot.)

2. The Harry Belafonte episode of the Muppet Show. I have raved about this on here before, so I will simply say that it is funny, uplifting, and completely beautiful -- the puppets created for the final number were the first puppets Henson did (or, actually, Faz Fazakas did, probably) that pushed the boundaries, as far as puppets-as-art, or puppets-as-cultural-commentary. And watching Fozzie almost crack Harry Belafonte up singing the Banana Boat song makes me happy.

3. The Dark Crystal. The Dark Crystal. The Dark Crystal. I just ordered the anniversary edition of this (which will be the third DVD iteration I have purchased -- damn them with their all-new interviews with Brian Froud and Kathryn Mullen and Brian Henson!), and I'm prepared to cry like a baby, as I do every time. "Heal the crystal."

4. "Dance Myself to Sleep", on Sesame Street. The rhythms of this song and sketch (including Frank Oz-as-Bert improving various staccato bursts of woe as sheep carry him out of his apartment) are permanently lodged in my brain. Runners up for Sesame Street sketches would be "Be My Echo" (Grover and Madeline Kahn) and "The Rhyming Game" (More Ernie and Burt, culminating in the brilliant line "Hey there lamp, that's a nice shade!")

5. The Minstrel song on Fraggle Rock. Beautiful. (Fraggle Rock runners up are Red and Boober, trapped in a rock collapse, singing "The Friendship Song", and "Come and Follow Me" which was in the first episode and has beautiful harmonies by the two most underrated muppeteers -- Jerry Nelson and Dave Goelz.)
phamos: (henson)
New Favorite Wiki: Wookiepedia

Old Favorite Wiki: Lostpedia

All-time Favorite WIki: Muppet Wiki

I am a dork.
phamos: (12th level)
One BEEELLION dollars!

This was pretty inevitable. But it will be interesting to watch, for sure. Did I mention already that a bunch of Sesame Street videos got taken down off of You Tube by Viacom because they'd been taped off of Noggin and had the Noggin logo on the corner? And hence were somehow owned by Viacom, even though Sesame Workshop obviously has no intent to get stuff taken down? Viacom loses at the intarwebz.
phamos: (frazzle)
When you dick around on Wikipedia late at night looking to clear up random assertions about neocons from BBC documentaries, you find out things like the fact that the Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations is married to Children's Television Workshop founder Joan Ganz Cooney. My worlds are colliding. YOU'RE KILLING INDEPENDENT GEORGE!
phamos: (letmebeyoursong)
Let's try embedding from Photobucket --

Ugh. Well, the conversion back to flash makes it look all pixelated and herky-jerky. But it's good to know that there is a backup to YouTube if I ever have to replace my embedded videos.

By the way, this song makes me cry. Shut up.
phamos: (buffy)
Muppet-related factoid for the day: Joss Whedon's father, Tom Whedon, co-wrote "Hey Cinderella", one of the Tales From Muppetland specials of the late '60s/early '70s and a personal favorite of mine. Given the issues Joss apparently has with father figures, based on all of his shows, maybe I shouldn't be so excited abou this link between two of my biggest pop culture obsessions. But at this point, if I'm going to choose sympathies between the guy who worked with Jim Henson or crazy megalomaniac "I give them what they NEED, not what they WANT" Joss, I think Tom Whedon wins my heart. Maybe there's a good reason Buffy's dad couldn't take her to the ice show!
phamos: (henson)
Now that Amazon is selling groceries, the reviews page for a gallon of milk has apparently become the target for, at this point, 332 jokers who feel it's their destiny to write the funniest thing about milk ever published on the internet.

There was one that tickled the funny bone of this Sesame Street-obsessed reader:

I drank the last of the milk 3 days ago, and so my mother decided it was time I replenish it. I was walking down to the local store to purchase a loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter... when I came across a man with arms that went the wrong direction and everything was in psycadelic colours and sounds. I went by an insane machine and then by a crazy fountain, and got to the store, and purchased my goods, only to realize that I forgot where I was. I asked advice of a strange technicolor man, who sent me on my way ... having reminded me of all the bizarre landmarks I passed. So I got home and exclaimed to my mother look, I remembered! A loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter!

I hope they do realize that those are two separate sketches. And if we're going to mention Sesame Street sketches having to do with milk, I must, of course, post my personal favorite.

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phamos: (henson)
Here's some really early Sesame Street, before Carroll Spinney really got the hang of moving in the suit and working the beak at the same time. Not to mention the weirdness of Big Bird's voice.

My mom used to sing this song to me all the time. "Everyone makes mistakes, so why can't yooooouuuuuu?" It's nice that I had a mom with that sort of attitude.
phamos: (letmebeyoursong)
the muppet wiki has solved the great television mystery of my life. when i was in middle school, i watched a couple episodes of a bizarre canadian puppet show that involved two kids, a lighthouse, a sleeping giant, and all sorts of random stuff. i could never figure out what day or time it aired, so i just saw a couple of random episodes when i chanced upon them. for years i've been trying to figure out what it was, without any success.

well, apparently the guy who made it was a muppeteer on fraggle rock. i randomly clicked on a link on the muppet performers page of the wiki and saw the words "blizzard island". i gasped. that's IT! that's IT!

i was just mentioning this show to segev the other day, wondering why i could never find it on google and why no one on the canadian television thread over on TWoP knew what i was talking about. turns out the kids weren't in the lighthouse, the puppet witch lived in the lighthouse. so the description i was giving to people all these years, what i was basing my google search on, was slightly off. i never understood why i couldn't just google "canada lighthouse puppet" and come up with something. today is a happy day. i'm a little disappointed to realize that all the puppets look really crappy, but whatever. apparently it was made into a movie called "argon's quest", but i don't know if that was recycled footage from the show compiled into a movie-length production, or entirely different. looks like the blizzard island website was never completed. boo.
phamos: (henson)
"They call me Count von Count because I love to count!"
"Really? They call me Guy Smiley because I changed my name from Bernie Liedenkrantz."
phamos: (childhood)
ah, fresno. how i love that show. it's still just how i remember it. of course, at the time i didn't realize charles grodin is only two years younger than his on-screen mom, carol burnett. no, seriously. charles grodin is 70. doesn't that just seem wrong? then again, i was also brokenhearted to realize he didn't do his own singing in the great muppet caper. charles grodin never fails to confuse me.
phamos: (mario)
SQUEEEEEEEEEEE!! pilots! UK scripts! specials! interviews! possible original openings!

and PILOTS! and, like i said, PILOTS!

some people have LOTR squee. i have muppet squee.


phamos: (Default)

March 2009

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