Jul 21, 2014

Muppet Retro Reviews: The Muppet Movie

Today's article, written by our friend Mitchell Stein, was pulled from our sister site The Mickey Mindset in a cross-promotional effort. Check out the site for a dose of Disney to go with your Muppet meal!
Mitchell Stein -  Being a major Muppet fan, The Muppet Movie is my favorite above all the other ones. The movie is funny, heartfelt and inspiring and gives us a nice backstory (sort of) to how the Muppets approximately got started.

Our story begins from the first strum of Kermit’s banjo to the music of "Rainbow Connection," a truly beautiful song. For me, the song is truly about finding yourself and living your dream and really sets the tone for the rest of the movie. When a Hollywood agent named Bernie (Dom Deluise) meets Kermit in the swamp, he convinces him to audition in Hollywood and possibly make millions of people happy. Kermit declines the fame and fortune, but upon hearing he could have the chance to make millions of people happy, he decides to go and audition. This is one of the reasons why I love Kermit. The only thing he cares about is everyone else and how they would feel. He cares about making the audience happy when not even thinking about his own fortune, unlike a certain pig out there.

Along the way Kermit meets up with Fozzie Bear, Gonzo and Camilla, Miss Piggy, Rowlf the Dog, and the Electric Mayhem who decide to join him on his adventure to become rich and famous. Kermit catches the attention of Doc Hopper (brilliantly played by Charles Durning) who wants to use Kermit as his mascot to sell his Frog Legs. He’s so convinced about Kermit and so overshadowed by his own ambitions that he even goes as far as kidnapping him, hiring an evil scientist and a frog killer to convince Kermit to star in his commercials.

The music in the movie is always completely catchy, upbeat, mellow and profitable (I’ve had "Can You Picture" That stuck in my head all day). The "Rainbow Connection" was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song, but lost to “It Goes Like it Goes” from Norma Rae, it’s a true shame, as "Rainbow Connection" was a much deeper and meaningful song than the others. "I’m Going to Go Back There Someday" is easily one of the saddest songs in filmmaking history, which is sung by Gonzo when all hope is lost, and it seems that the Muppets will never be able to accomplish their dreams. "I Hope That Something Better Comes Along" is catchy and fun as is "Movin’ Right Along," which is probably one of my favorite Muppet songs ever.

With this being the first Muppet film I have to say they really started things off with a bang! The puppetry is eye-popping and way ahead of its time. Fozzie and Kermit dancing on-stage creates is incredibly eye-popping and sets the stage for an entire film where you will completely forget the characters are even puppets, and this was way before the days of CG animation.

In "Rainbow Connection," Kermit sits on a log in the swamp playing his banjo. Many people think this film is fake and filmed on a soundstage but in fact was actually filmed on location. Jim Henson would bend down into a small tank filled with oxygen with two spots to control Kermit and his banjo. It was extremely uncomfortable, but the finished project was totally worth it.

The cast of cameos lineup is truly terrific and has a great and hilarious lineup of celebrities including many popular names of the decade such as Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, Milton Berle, Steve Martin, Cloris Leachman, Mel Brooks, Madeline Kahn, Orson Welles, Bob Hope, Big Bird(!) and so many more. I truly love every cameo in this movie as each one is more memorable than the other. Some remain on-screen for as little as ten seconds, but their lines are quick and memorable and will always have a spot in Muppet history.

I truly love this movie. It’s the beginning of Muppets on the big-screen and began many more Muppet films to come. It’s the seed that grew into an entire big screen franchise and played predecessor seven other great Muppet films. It’s a lot of fun, has a lot of heart, depth and great story. I love this film and it still remains of my absolute favorites.






The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

Jul 18, 2014

News Update: July 18, 2014

JULY 18, 2014

Since we didn't do a News Update last week, we missed out on sharing the video of Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy on PBS's A Capitol Fourth, which aired live on 4th of July. The performance, which saw Kermit and Piggy singing "This Land is Your Land" and Kermit performing "Rainbow Connection," was positively delightful. Steve Whitmire's enthusiasm with Kermit during both songs is infectious and wonderful. Also Tom Bergeron, Fozzie, and Animal are there, and great as ever. (Special thanks to our friend Chris Stulz for making and sharing the video.)



Archaia Comics are heading back down to Fraggle Rock with a new series of Fraggle stories. The series will be written by Kate Leth and illustrated by Jake Myler. The book is titled Fraggle Rock: Journey to the Everspring and according to Nerdist it will feature the beloved Fraggles we know as well as some new characters. Journey to the Everspring is divided into four parts, with the first issue released on October 8th. Here's hoping Archaia can capture the excellence of their first Fraggle Rock series once again!

The San Diego Comic Con is coming up next weekend, and Sesame Street is heading out for a panel! The panel is on Sunday, July 27 at 10:15am in Room 6A. The impeccable, huge Muppet fan Chris Hardwick (Nerdist) will be moderating the panel, which includes Muppet performers Eric JacobsonJoey Mazzarino (also head writer and director), and David Rudman, as well as executive producer Carol-Lynn Parente. During the panel, they'll debut a new Season 45 episode called "Numeric Con," a parody of Comic Con itself. They'll also be premiering a new segment of the fantastic "Cookie's Crumpy Pictures" series called "Star S'mores." Color me happy (and fuzzy, and blue).

The Jim Henson Company is also going to Comic Con with a panel of their own, titled "The Jim Henson Company: Upcoming Comics with Archaia," so there will clearly be a lot of discussion of Fraggle Rock, Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, and The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow comic books. The panel will be held July 25th at 6:00pm in Room 32AB. Panelists for the Henson Company include Jeff Stokely (illustrator for The Storyteller: Witches), Jake Myler (illustrator for Fraggle Rock), Ian Herring (colorist for Tale of Sand), and Shane-Michael Vidaurri (writer and illustrator for The Storyteller: Witches). Special thanks to ToughPigs for this info!

Once again, the rumor that the Muppets are heading to Broadway with a brand new original musical has resurfaced. This time, The New York Post is reporting on it. Nothing new comes to light in this article, and really it adds nothing more to the table that we haven't known for awhile now, but it's nice to see it still being talked about.






The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

Jul 17, 2014

How To... Be a Salesman

Michael Wermuth - So you want to be a salesman? Well, here’s how a salesman must act. Oh, but there are at least three types of salesmen (and only three represented in this article)… Which type would you want to be the most?

Type 1: The Door-To-Door Salesman
As a door-to-door salesman, you get to go to people’s houses and sell things. Be sure to wear a good suit, even if you otherwise don’t wear clothes. The first thing you should do is knock on the door and provide your client with a fairly polite greeting. Some people don’t like having salesmen at their house and will try to quickly slam the door on you, but one way to keep the door open is to push your body to the door as soon as possible, preventing it from being slammed. You could also block the door with a body part. Most people use their foot, but some use their nose. I must warn you about this method, though: It hurts!

But suppose your customer doesn’t have the thing that your item is for? What if you’re selling earmuffs and your customer doesn’t have ears, or you’re selling nose warmers but he has no nose? Then just give your customer a set of ears or a nose! But then what if he DOES have what goes with what you’re selling, but no way to keep it up – let’s say you’re selling sunglasses and your customer has eyes but can’t wear them because he doesn’t have the ears or nose to hold the sunglasses on his face? Sell him sunglasses with ears and nose attached!

Type 2: The Street Salesman
To be a street salesman, you get to be out on the street. You must dress in a trench coat and fedora, and talk in a soft, whispery voice. If your potential customer repeats what you say, just “SHH!” him. And you should always be prepared to give a reason for your customer to buy what you’re selling. If you’re selling an empty box, tell him why he needs an empty box. Explain that it’s better than a box of yucky worms. Explain that an empty box will be useful in catching jellybeans if it rains them. If you want to sell a letter of the alphabet, tell him to look at that letter if he’s wondering what letter a word starts with – for example, if you’re selling a U, tell him to look at the U if your customer is up all night wondering what letter the word “up” starts with. And try to be flexible: If your letter is made from a rope attached to poles, it’ll be easy to change your letter if your customer wants a different one. A U-shaped rope can easily be changed into a V or a W. And if you’re selling invisible ice cream cones, sell different flavors, and try to make it clear if you don’t accept invisible money.

Type 3: The Pitch Man
The pitch man makes sales pitches, particularly for successful variety shows. To make a proper sales pitch, you must start out mild mannered and talk at a normal pace, but soon get carried away and talk at a faster speed. This is in contrast to the street salesman, where you must talk loudly and be more excited. Mention all the benefits of what’s being sold here, and wildly exaggerate whatever results you think will happen.
Disclaimer: The Muppet Mindset shall not be held responsible for body injuries from stopping customers from slamming their doors, and do not encourage scamming customers, selling illegally-acquired letters, numbers, or other products. The Muppet Mindset is also not responsible for customers not buying your products. Sell at your own risk.






The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

Jul 16, 2014

Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Bill the Bubble Guy

Written by Ryan Dosier.

BILL THE BUBBLE GUY

Performed by...
Dave Goelz

First appearance...
Muppets Tonight Episode 102: Garth Brooks (1996)

Most recent appearance...
Muppets Tonight Episode 212: Johnny Fiama Leaves Home (1997)

Best known role...
Performer whose head spurts out bubbles

WHO IS BILL THE BUBBLE GUY?
Bill the Bubble Guy is one of the many new original characters who debuted in Muppets Tonight's first season. Bill's schtick is simple: he can blow bubbles out of his head. There's no rhyme or reason as to why exactly Bill has this talent, but there you go. Bill first appeared as a needy performer in the second episode of Muppets Tonight, trying to convince Clifford to let him be on the show. Clifford refused, but when guest star Garth Brooks refused to perform one of his own songs, the Head of the Network threatened to cancel the show and give Bill the timeslot. Unfortunately for Bill, Garth Brooks finally sang one of his own songs and Bill was left without his own sitcom. (The Big Bubble Theory?)

As Muppets Tonight continued, Bill's simple (and seemingly only) talent was used as a running gag numerous times. One notable example was in Episode 201, guest starring the Artist Formerly Known as Prince, where Big Mean Carl introduced his new act: Carl the Big Mean Bubble Guy. Bill protests, and ends up getting eaten by Carl, who then belches out bubbles. (Ta-da!!)

In Episode 107, guest starring Sandra Bullock, Bill and his entire bubble family appeared in the sketch "While You Were Slapping," spoofing the film While You Were Sleeping. In the sketch, Bill is in a coma while his fiancee, Sandra Bullock, and his family slap each other around (I don't get it either). Bill later appeared in the sketch "Muppet Heights" with Heather Locklear in Episode 203, under the name William B. Guy.

Bill was one of the many Miss Piggy impersonators in Episode 109 guest starring Whoopi Goldberg. He would've gotten the part... if it weren't for the bubbles that come out of his head. In Episode 205, when Ernst Stavros Grouper buys the studio, he changed the names and identities of many of the Muppets. Bill remained Bill the Bubble Guy, only because he lied to Grouper and said his name was Bob and raisins came out of his head. Grouper changed it to Bill the Bubble Guy immediately--lucky for Bill.

Bill the Bubble Guy's most consistent role on Muppets Tonight was as one of the housemates on the recurring sketch "The Real World Muppets." Joined in the house by Clifford, Rizzo, Bobo, and Darci, Bill was one of the more calm housemates, never causing much drama. He definitely caused a lot of bubbles, however.

WHY DO THE MUPPETS NEED BILL THE BUBBLE GUY?
Because bubbles come out of his head! Bill the Bubble Guy joins the long-lived pantheon of Muppets with one silly defining trait, such as Crazy Harry and Lew Zealand. Although Bill was nowhere near as successful as those characters, he's still a goofy, enjoyable presence throughout the run of Muppets Tonight. Though it's unlikely we'll see Bill on screen again, we'll always think of him anytime bubbles come out of someone's head.






The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com