Friday, December 20, 2013

It's in Every One of Us...What Is?

by Arianne Gallagher

Greetings Muppet fans! It’s that time of year again, the holiday season where amongst the shopping, decorating, and cavorting, we get to break out all of the amazing Muppet holiday specials that we all hold so dear and make us smile from ear to ear. Muppet Family Christmas, Muppet Christmas Carol, John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together, Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, the Christmas Toy, Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas, and many more!  So many of these specials offer a wonderful glimpse of the best and brightest joy and laughter the Muppets have to offer and are some of the most well-renowned Christmas specials ever, let alone some of the best work from the entire Muppet portfolio. I think more than anything though, what I love most about these Muppet holiday specials is the beautiful songs, both new and traditional, and the spirit behind them[1]

One of my favorite songs ever from these specials is, “It’s in Every One of Us.” It’s a short, simple tune with a tremendous amount of heart and emotion and the Muppets have showcased it beautifully on several occasions. John Denver sings it after telling the story of Alfie the Christmas tree in John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together and with the whole Muppet gang during Rocky Mountain Holiday.  Robin the frog starts the tune during the annual carol sing in a Muppet Family Christmas (arguably tied for the best Christmas special ever with a Muppet Christmas Carol, which is also a motion picture, but let’s not get picky). Also, a small cast of Muppet performers sang the tune as part of a medley during Jim Henson’s memorial, because it was one of Jim’s favorite songs.  But ever since the first time I heard it, I have always had one question in the back of my mind, “What’s in every one of us?”  What is that thing we’ll find if we find our hearts and open up our eyes? What allows us to know everything without ever knowing why? Well, after all of these years of asking myself, I decided to find the answer…

First, I decided to find out where the song came from; whether it was an original song created for a Muppet special or if it came somewhere else.  After a relatively quick Google search, I discovered that the song was most likely written by David Pomeranz, an American singer, composer, lyricist and writer for musical theater, and it was the closing song in the 1980’s musical Time, by Dave Clark (some of my research indicated that it might have been a joint effort between Pomeranz and Dave Clark, David Soames and Jeff Daniels, who wrote the music, lyrics and book for Time).[2] Now Time was what you would call eccentric.  It was derived from a 1970s musical, The Time Lord, and centers around a contemporary rock star who has been transported, along with his backup singers, to the “High Court of the Universe in the Andromeda Galaxy” where he must defend Earth’s people and their value in the quest for universal peace to the, “Time Lord Melchisedic”. It was known as a huge multi-media event relying heavily on special effects, including a huge projected floating head names Akash who narrated the show.[3] Not the first thing you think of when you see Robin next to his uncle Kermit singing Christmas carols.

 Based on my reading about Jim Henson, most recently through Brian Jay Jones’ amazing biography Jim Henson, the Biography, this show was right up Jim’s creative experimental alley, which may be one of the reasons that he liked the song so much and included it in several different specials.  Notably, the song was also featured in the movie Big and during the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, Korea.[4] But after all this researching and even listening to the original, complete song from Time, I still didn’t know what is supposed to be in every one of us.  Is it love? Peace? Faith? Wisdom? Joy? Indigestion?!  WHAT is it?! 

Then I stopped, listened to the Muppet Family Christmas version of the song one more time, and thought of Jim Henson.  There are many quotes of his that I love and deeply resonate with me, but two of them seem to come to my mind now when I hear the song.  First, “Simple is good” and secondly, “If our ‘message’ is anything, it’s a positive approach to life. That life is basically good. People are basically good.”[5]  I got a strong sense that I was over thinking it, that the answer was right in front of me and I was thinking about everyone else around me too much to see it. I think with Jim being the person that he was, that he meant for every person to find their own meaning to the song; that the answer was essentially everything and nothing, and that there is no right answer. It’s whatever the audience/listener thought it was and what resonates most with them. For me, I think that “thing” that’s in every one of us is that sense that there is good or value in everyone, that “People are basically good”, as Jim Henson so simply put it.   A lot of times when you see the news and read about popular or global culture today, it can be one of the hardest things to believe, but it’s still true. 

The one time of year that I viscerally feel and see this sense more than any other time is during the holiday season.  Watching people be kinder to one another, performing acts of charity or service, or just simply enjoying one another’s company and taking the time to be thankful and grateful for the gifts life brings us, all on a massive scale, is the thing about the holidays that brings me an overwhelming sense of joy and happiness every holiday season.  I believe one of the reasons that I feel that way every year is because it gives us a rare chance in life where we actually get to see a deep-seeded sense or belief we have proven in real life, essentially like seeing a dream come true , or even a miracle come to life. “It’s in Every One of US” and in particular every time the Muppets have performed that song bring out that sense, that message of a positive approach to life that Jim Henson brings out with all the Muppet characters.  I think that’s why that song means so much to me, especially during Christmas.

Will I ever know what the real/factual answer behind the meaning of the song is?  Maybe, maybe not. So whatever the song means to you, whatever sense you get when you try to hold back tears when Robin and Kermit sing the final lines of the tune together in a Muppet Family Christmas[6], I hope you find that meaning and that it resonates with you and brings you joy every holiday season while keeping your love and appreciation for the Muppets and all that they stand for as strong as ever. 

                                                                                                            Happy Holidays everyone, and Watch Out for the Icy Patch! 
                           ~Arianne Gallagher~

[1] One of the main people behind this Paul Williams.  His songs for Muppet Christmas Carol and other Muppet specials are simply wonderful, both in their lovely tunes and insightful lyrics that get down deep to the heart of everyone and make you smile from the inside out.  I think we should all take the time on Twitter to thank him for that. (You can find him on Twitter at @IMPaulWilliams)
[2] See and Note that these are Wikipedia articles and since I used to be a law student/academic, I feel obligated to say that there are probably better, more factual resources out there but what the heck, it’s Christmas and the last thing we want to do is look for proper citations!
[4] Do you really have to ask?  Same as above. 
[5] It’s Not Easy Being Green, and Other Things to Consider, Edited by Cheryl Henson, 2005, Hyperion Books, New York.
[6] Don’t deny it, embrace it!! I’ll keep the tissues handy!

            Bonus feature: here are the lyrics to the entire song (credit goes to YouTube)
It's in every one of us
to be wise
Find your heart
open up both your eyes,
We can all know everything
without ever knowing why,
It's in every one of us
by and by ..

It's in every one of us
to be wise,
Find your heart
open up both your eyes,
We can all know everything 
without ever knowing why,
It's in every one of us
by and by ..

It's in every one of us
I just remembered
it's like I been sleeping for years,
I'm not awake as I can be
but my seeing is better,
I can see ..
through the tears,
I've been realizing that,
I bought this ticket
and watching only half of the show,
There is scenery and lights
and a cast of thousands,
Who all know
what I know, 
And it's good
that it's so ..

It's in every one of us
to be wise
Find your heart
open up both your eyes,
We can all know everything 
without ever knowing why,
It's in every one of us
by and by,
It's in every one of us
by and by..

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Spotting the Difference Between Kermit & Constatine

It's hard to believe Muppets Most Wanted is only 165 days away. This movie might even be better than the last one! The human cast look hilarious, as usual. I'm sure Ty Burrel, Ricky Gervais & Tina Fey will bring great extra comedy to the film as the film's villains.  

Speaking of villains  today's post will be about the Muppet's brand new villain Constatine.  Notice this Kermit has a weirdly pointed collar? That's Kermit's evil doppelganger  "Constatine" who works alongside the film's other villain  Dominic (played by Ricky Gervais). 

One of the differences Constatine has compared to Kermit are his larger eyes and shorter collar. He also has a Russian accent. 

Let's compare to the original Kermit:                                                                                   

See what I mean? Another thing worth noting is the fact that Constatine also has a mole on his left cheek. 

What he's doing alongside Natasha (Tina Fey) is unknown, as well as which puppeteer performs Constatine. But all these questions will be answered in 165 more days when Muppets Most Wanted hits theaters. 

Muppets Most Wanted hits theaters March 21st 2014. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

From everyone at It Starts When We're Kids-A Muppet Fan Blog, we wish you a very spooky Halloween! In honor of Halloween, we include some of our favorite classic spooky Muppet moments below.

Happy Halloween, Muppet fans!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Muppet News Flash!

Of course, we're a little late to the party, but it was announced earlier this week that popular pop singer Lady Gaga will be teaming up with the Muppets in "Lady Gaga & The Muppets Holiday Spectacular" which will be taking over TV screens on November 28th on ABC.
Other celebrity cameos include Elton John, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Kristen Bell, and RuPaul.

It is also worth noting that Lady Gaga is scheduled to make a cameo in Muppets Most Wanted as well.
Aaaand, Disney released three photos from the special.

Looks fun, promising, and very Muppety. Be sure to tune in on November 28th on ABC! 

Author Brian Jay Jones, author of the recent (and incredible) Jim Henson: The Biography appeared on the Today Show with Frank Oz to talk about Jim Henson and his brand new book. Was an incredible tribute to Jim and is a must-see for all Henson fanatics. 

George Orwitz, known for creating greatly detailed plush of classic characters announced he would be creating a plush based on Red Fraggle, for only $1,200. What a deal! 
We're being sarcastic. While the plush looks incredibly detailed and set, it most probably is not worth $1200. 

In sadder news this week, according to recent reports, The Jim Henson Company's latest TV series, That Puppet Game Show has been cancelled from it's home on BBC. 

That's all for now! Be sure to follow us on Twitter for more up-to the minute Muppet news! 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Thoughts on Jim Henson: The Biography

by Mitchell Stein

I made sure to grab a copy of the truly fantastic Jim Henson: The Biography on the release date, September 24th, which of course, would have also been Jim's 77th birthday this year.

The book is definetley the biggest book about Jim Henson to ever be written, with over 600 pages, Brian Jay Jones goes into incredible detail of every place Jim's ever been or anyone who Jim's ever met or worked with before. Any Muppet expert will be flabbergasted by the amount of brand-new Muppet info that is shared in this book.
Did you know that Rowlf was named after the Purina Dog Chow owner who had the name Ralph? This of course puts to rest a debate that's been going on within the Muppet fan world for over ten years.

Surprisingly, there aren't a lot of photos in this book, but of the handful of ones that were featured are mostly brand new, never before seen photos recently uncovered by the Henson Archives. (Haven't you ever wondered what Pierre the French Rat looked like?) Many of the photos referenced can be found in Jim Henson: The Works, written by Christopher Finch.

Mr. Jones also provides us with a great index and source for each and every page, so if you don't believe it, just flip to thew back of the book and see for yourself.

I've always envisioned Jim Henson as a saint or a god, but known that was unrealistic. He always seemed like a flawless person in most previous biographies.
Mr. Jones takes the brilliant life of Jim Henson and shows it in a different life. Yes, Jim was a creative and brilliant artist, futurist, and all around great guy, but jut like everyone else on this earth, he had his flaws as well.

This isn't a "The Dark Side of Jim Henson" or anything wacky like that. Brian Jay Jones shines Jim with the the brightest light in depth that has never been read before. Yes, he was an undeniable genius, but, like everyone else, he was capable of missteps. Jones looks at Jim's 'failures' or less popular productions too, so you, the Muppet fan can learn the entire story, and giving some great info that even the folks at Muppet Wiki will be embarrassed they didn't know.
Let's face it, not everything Jim's done in his life has been a complete success. The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth weren't exactly box-office hits and the Jim Henson Hour got cancelled before it's second season. Included in the book are some ideas from Jim that barely even made it to the drawing board.

I cannot recommend this book enough. If there's anything Muppety you should spend your money on this year, make it Jim Henson: The Biography. You won't be sorry.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Remembering Faz Fazakas

It was reported earlier this week that legendary tech-wizard and puppet builder Faz Fazakas has passed away at the age of 95.

Faz joined the Muppet team in 1970 during the filming of Tales from Muppetland specials. In the many years since then, he's been responsible for most of the incredible special effects you've seen on-screen.
Some of his most famous work includes the eye mechanism for Sweetums and Big Bird, and the rod and cable techniques used for the Doozers.

Goodbye to one of the most important men in Muppet history. A true unsung Muppet hero.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Muppet Exhibit coming to The National Museum of American History

This is a Muppet news flash!

In honor of what would have been Jim Henson's 77th birthday, the Smithsonian Museum unexpectedly announced that many of the original Muppets would be joining along Kermit, Oscar the Grouch and the Sam & Friends Gang in the National Museum of American History in Washington D.C.

Elmo & Fozzie in the Smithsonian Conservation Lab

Among the announced Muppets were Fozzie Bear, Elmo, The Swedish Chef, Miss Piggy J.P. Grosse, Boober, Red and Uncle Traveling Matt and an original Grover puppet. 

Earlier this year, the Museum of Moving Image in New York announced they would be creating a brand new permanent exhibit celebrating Jim Henson's life and work. Not to mention the Jim Henson exhibit and puppets at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta. 

This is a very exciting time for Western Muppet fans, (sorry Australia!). Smithsonian has yet to announce when all the Muppets will go on display, but they made clear that Miss Piggy will go on display in March 2014 (just in time for Muppets Most Wanted). 

Official Smithsonian announcement: