If you’ve been paying attention at all these last few weeks, I bet you could’ve guessed what’s coming…
M is for Muppets
How much do I love the Muppets?
Let’s just say I find few things in life as magical and hilarious and playful and serious and wonderful and colorful and buoyant and expressive and simple and truthful and correct (not in the right/wrong sort of way, but like my friend Scotty or hip hop artists might say it. The Muppets are just correct, y’all).
Why do I love The Muppets so much? Let me count the ways…
First, my Muppet glasses are one of my favorite grown-up* possessions. They’re some of my favorite items to hunt for at flea markets (or find under the tree, Santa…). I just love having a cabinet full of mismatched 80s promotional glassware with which to entertain myself and others. (Really, that statement tells you a lot about Sarah Jenkins.)
*Yes, I said “grown-up.” This irony is not lost on me.
Jason Segel is hosting SNL on Saturday!! And as such, @nbcsnl has been tweeting cute Muppet footage:
PS: follow that link for the sake of your future happiness. DO IT. Seriously. This Christmas song sketch has just resulted in giggling + crying + laughing about crying. (As does the original with Jimmy Fallon…)
NOSTALGIC DELIGHTFULNESS EXPLOSION!!
The new movie comes out next week…and I have been waiting for this bidness for YEARS. (There was talk about it when Forgetting Sarah Marshall came out, right? After all the cute Jason Segel puppetness. That was 2008…)
Writing this post helped me realized how much of my formative childhood entertainment is somehow Jim Henson-related: Sesame Street, Muppet Babies, The Labyrinth, etc., not to mention all the corresponding Happy Meal toys.
The Muppet Movie holds an especially special place in my heart. Back in my pre-emo middle school years (“Emo” wasn’t in my vocabulary then, really, but that’s essentially what I was. I wore flannel. I was bookish and moody and wanted to find meaning. and be in love. and be an artist. and really just fit in, secretly), I was mildly obsessed with the song “Rainbow Connection” from The Muppet Movie. It made me SO SAD, but it felt SO GOOD. (Thank god YouTube didn’t exist then. I would never have left the house.) Kermit and his banjo…I still almost can’t handle it.
(Side note: At this time in my life, I had a similar fascination with James Taylor songs. I have distinct memories of transcribing “Fire & Rain” in study hall notebooks, for no good reason other than I liked the melancholy words. I’ve confessed that here before. But it bears repeating, I suppose, if you ever start to wonder why I live alone with a cat…[Come to think of it, “Rainbow Connection” could very easily be a James Taylor song. Ponder.])
But seriously. This new movie. The Muppets are the ones we’ve been waiting for.
I like to think that Muppet Love is just one more adorable characteristic that Tina Fey and I share…
Tina Fey aka Liz Lemon:
This is one of the three things I like: Ina Garten, sweater weather and…
Matt Damon aka dreamy pilot boyfriend, in unison:
When Muppets present at awards shows?!
(Adorbs, as the kids say.)
Let’s not forget the Muppet 30 Rock episode, featuring felt characterizations of Kenneth, Jack & Liz.
(This is for my mother exclusively) The Bookaneers
or Pirates of the Care-to-be-readin’…
SPEAKING of Muppet Love, this Annie Hall send-up I found on Pinterest, which I kind of want to legally marry:
And don’t get me started on how much I can’t wait to watch Muppet Christmas Carol at my parents’ house over Christmas…on VHS. If you missed out on this one, add it to your Netflix queue. It’s perfect.*
*With the exception of one song that I could do without and often fast-forward. You’ll know which one I mean. It’s also, interestingly, the only song without Muppets involved. So. But seriously, Muppets and Dickens. Get out.
Finally, a little Ghost of Muppets Past: In high school, when the internet was new-ish, I spent many a happy hour on Muppets.com. (Remember that? When manipulating interactive elements on the screen was still a novelty and kind of mystifying?)
Today I thought, dear internet: if I can wayback machine my way into that site…I will weep with joy…some more. And guess WHAT!!
Wanna remember what the web looked like in the late 90s?
(If you haven’t played around on Wayback Machine, well, think of a favorite website and go. And I hope you didn’t plan to sleep tonight. Or ever again.)
So what’s my point in all this? Sheesh…I don’t know.
(Side note: One time in the late 80s, I annoyed my brother with excessive “sheesh”ing after I’d asked Mom whether Kermit’s go-to expletive was a “bad word.” She told me it wasn’t. So I promptly turned it into one. Sheesh.)
I saw this documentary at the Moxie recently called Being Elmo, all about this puppeteer named Kevin Clash who fulfilled his lifelong dream in bringing Elmo to life on Sesame Street. (He was also a puppeteer on The Labyrinth, be still my middle school heart. Aaaand the TV show DINOSAURS. Yup. Elmo’s voice is also “not the mama” Baby Dinosaur…ARE YOU STILL ALIVE AFTER THAT FACT?!?!?)
While the movie was mostly about Clash’s journey as an artist, it is also a little about the journey of The Muppets themselves (and you get a peek inside the studio where they’re made. DRAWERS OF MUPPET EYES, Y’ALL!). And it introduced me to this tear-jerker performance from Jim Henson’s memorial service:
Just think about that for a minute: to be so beloved for something you CREATED.
I guess my point is simple and a little Muppet-like itself: it’s good to take time to celebrate, deeply and wholeheartedly, the things you love. In a time when entertainment is so often full of snark and mockery and impermanence, it feels good to dig my intellectual toes into something that represents the opposite of those things.
And it has managed to endure. And I think that matters.