Adam Hills is a Muppet Nutcase and I Couldn’t Be Happier

Okay so, I am in the middle of reading Aussie comedian Adam Hills’ autobiography Best Foot Forward and I just had the biggest fangirl moment.

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Adam Hills is not only my favourite comedian, but also my all-time favourite talent to come from Australia, so to hear that one of my heroes has the same obsession as I do about my other long-time heroes is both mind-blowing and incredibly gratifying.

In the same chapter Adam squees over meeting the Dalai-Lama, Adam talks about his appearance on the back in 2012. If you haven’t seen it, the clip is right here:

In this clip, Adam talks a little bit about what happened backstage after his set, but this new book reveals a lot more. For example:

  • Not only did Adam get a picture with Kermit, but he asked Steve Whitmire if he’d be willing to make a quick video for Adam’s daughter. Steve, being the nice guy he is, was happy to oblige.
  • Apparently the video they did together was ruined by the background noise, so Steve took them to a more quiet corner and did the video again.
  • Adam hanged around with Bill and Dave after the show and had a few drinks.
  • Some of Adam’s friends lost their collective shit when they realised who Adam was talking to.
  • Dave and Bill kept in contact with Adam after that and invited him to the set of Muppets Most Wanted.

So, the next time you watch MMW and get to the scene with Fozzie and Walter in the train compartment realising that Kermit has been switched out for Constantine, you’ll know that right beneath the camera, an extremely giddy Adam Hills was sitting in between Eric and Peter!!! Apparently Fozzie even wanted his opinion on stage directions!

In addition to that, Adam based a huge portion on his stand-up show, Happyism, on this experience and the cast of Puppet Up, including Brian Henson, attended one of these shows and invited him to perform with them one night!

I also had the pleasure of  seeing Happyism when it came to Melbourne and have watched the DVD version at least a hundred times. A few years later, Adam did another show called Clownheart. On the night I went to see it, I got to meet Adam after the show and fangirl over his interaction with the Swedish Chef for a few moments.

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I’m extremely happy to say that I’ll be seeing Adam again next month for a special show dedicated to this new book! If there happens to be a Q&A, you can bet your boots I’ll be asking about his experience at The Muppets Take the O2!

I’ll let you know how that goes when the time comes! For now, here’s a video of the sketch Adam and the Swedish Chef did together at the O2!

And be sure to check out Best Foot Forward ! It’s a brilliant book about a great guy and his story should be shared as widely as possible!

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Late Night Nonsense: Restless Wordfullness

Here’s a random poem I once wrote for one of my creative writing units. Perhaps I should share my random bouts of poetry more often? Let me know what you think!

See in a small café, a group of side-tracked

individuals occupying completely different universes.

A mutual space separated by glazed over windows of silence.

 

A young woman taps her pen impatiently,

If a thought bubble were to dance around

her head, a dragon would appear then dissolve

into a woman, not unlike herself, with red eyes.

 

Who is this woman? she asks herself.

A manifestation of my centre?

The anti-me oppressed by my morals?

 

What makes this Dragon Girl worthy of my

time, patience and vocabulary?

Is her adventurous story worth exploration?

 

These thoughts had swirled in the

minds of others, but they had accepted them

as dead thoughts- unfurling shredded images.

 

But not this woman, the avenger of

tales retold too many times, as she knows

there is one more shape in which to kneed the dough.

 

As the young woman entrenches herself deeper,

a man, equally alone, furrows his brow in frustration

down at his seemingly endless pile of notes.

 

He’s stuck knee-deep in confused plots

and characters while wishing a more accomplished

author would possess him – if only for a moment.

 

His writers-block plugs any inspiration

there was left to utilise- but on he continues.

He’s not daft, he convinces himself, not dumb.

 

Intellectuals bleed their thoughts into

the pages of their psyche, unable to

explain how hollow-headedness prevails.

 

Hollow-headedness is evidently a common

human trait hell-bent on washing one’s

mind of any common sense the world has left.

 

But he was not! so, his head was full

of wondrous philosophies and life advice!

He would be asked to do lectures and talks!

 

Speech is a nasty and crude thing when

used by those whom do not know that

loudness will never equal to sageness.

 

In the hands of a complete dimwit,

a microphone loses all of its purpose.

Empty words reduce it to a noisy plastic stick.

 

In a whirl of angst, the man’s notes are

swept into his hands and crumpled harshly.

Terrible poetry crushed into perfect fire fodder.

 

A fair few are not far behind him as

static tension slices through trains of thought,

snapping and slashing them apart as they chuff by.

 

An elderly woman scribbles furiously,

with a rage as numb as her weakened fingers..

Her poison pen almost slipping from her hand

 

What on earth could possibly make a difference

when everything is already set in slate,

chipped from the hardiest cliffs on the rockiest shores?

 

Her words would be ignored by the

same masses which ignored her husbands

during the dying days of war and his life.

 

She knows when something terrible is

no longer considered ‘something terrible’-

the world simply ties on its voluntary blind fold.

 

Perhaps they’d all take note of her dreams,

full of dancing and laughter until the final goodbye

at the military docks-but nothing else after.

 

Perhaps they were all a part of a big puppet show.

The Polished Puppets hazily praise their

wonderful string-pullers and doll wigglers.

 

They’ll dance their dances and sing their

songs while wearing their costumes.

So blindly happy-go-lucky are they!

 

This ‘progressing world’ is frozen,

stuck in a forever lasting time loop

while constantly refreshing its problems.

 

For all in the café, the idea

of failure, of giving up is an atrocity

which should never be considered or faced.

 

They live for the suffering of the challenge,

the anger it brings, the self-serving oh-so-

wonderful terror of falling apart at the binder.

 

Writing is the confirmation of complications,

which writers aim to untangle and separate-

Anything to reach awesome simplicity.

 

Just as artists paint and draw with their

creative blood, the writers have their

Imagination on loan, paying it back in worded imagery.

 

Words-what a pity they are senselessly wasted

on Hate and Vengeance when their

capabilities are so endless and varying.

 

There is no other part of this world which

can mean absolutely nothing and everything at once-

Twenty six letters repeatedly bunched into tiny enigmas.

 

This knowledge is known to all,

except for the little girl in the corner.

Sitting quietly as she waits for her mother.

 

Said mother stands dutifully behind the counter,

her gaze flickering back to her prized creation

between serving cups of unjustifiable bitterness.

 

Crystal clear eyes watch happily as her

chipped crayon slowly turns a little pony pink

like a hooved fairy-floss fuzz-ball of fur.

 

She too is a story-teller, more wondrous

than anyone in that café could ever know.

So much to be released and to take flight.

 

Uninhibited, unencumbered for now,

if only she knew of her preschool magic.

Of the people who would kill to regain it.

 

There is no escape from the world.

Raised to think of anything and everything,

the mind becomes filled with sobering emptiness.

 

Is there a way to break the mental chains

awaiting the poor little girl as she

learns more, sees more and hears more?

 

The answers are no, so the answers are yes.

The solution is absolutely unteachable,

but her endless possibilities are in reach.

 

They all write to release their minds through

their hands just like singers sing to emote feelings

that cannot be contained in simple sentences.

 

A blank white page is Equality at its cleanest.

Without distinction, nor a narrow image it is

ours to ponder and to build upon.

 

It doesn’t even have to be amazing-

just clear, well-thought thoughts are

enough to make the readers mind wander.

 

The little girl could be the teacher who never

stopped learning if others can return to

being the student who never ceases to listen.

 

Follow her through her silly rhymes

and quirky limericks that are as deep

as a shallow bucket of mulch.

 

Just imagine for one glorious moment,

the freedom of writing without fear.

Knowing criticism will only be constructive.

 

Can she be the one to respect the blankness

of the White Page, to fill up the Hollow-heads?

To use the universal microphone to say something?

 

She could lead us there like so many

other children- only if we are willing to

say nothing and just let their imaginations fly.

 

Let the Restless Wordlessness of those

in the café be the lesson and the warning.

Some words were just not made to fly.

Is It Okay to Be Picky About Film Choices?

At the beginning of this year, I gave myself the challenge to expand my horizons past the Muppets, anything Jim Henson-related, Disney and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This was the year to live up to the stereotype embodied by my fellow Literature and Film Studies students by making myself more “cultured”.

…It’s been 7 months and I have failed spectacularly. Is that such a bad thing though?

I have in fact been leaving my comfort zone, however, it’s been obligatory, fulfilling a requirement for my courses to read certain books or watch certain films. I didn’t ever expect to find myself watching a movie like The Pianist, but here we are. Films that are deliberately sad are films that I tend to avoid like the plague. Although I must admit, there have been times when I have been caught off guard (I still haven’t forgiven the Russo brothers for making me watch Peter Parker disintegrate right in front of my eyes).

Take today as an example of why I’ve been lazy in achieving my New Years resolution. Thursdays are generally quite slow for me, so I took a look to see what was on at the cinema to waste a few hours. Amongst run-by-the-numbers action films like Skyscraper and the Jurassic World sequel was a New Zealand based film called The Breaker-Upperers. Over the years there have been a few NZ films I have generally enjoyed, Whale Rider, Hunt for the Wilder-People and The Piano (not to be confused with the afore-mentioned The Pianist), among them. The title itself wasn’t enough to entice me, but then, looking at the provided information, I saw that Taika Watiti had been involved as Executive Producer.

Click. Off to the cinema, I go! Surely something produced by the director of Thor: Ragnarok, by far my favourite MCU film, would be something I could enjoy, right?

The resulting answer is: Meh.

It was by no means a bad film, it just wasn’t to my sense of humour. Just because a comedy doesn’t make me laugh doesn’t mean it won’t make others let out a few guffaws. It’s odd though because the same, blunt, deadpan, obvious-route form of humour was used religiously by Taika in his take on Thor and I laughed to the point that I was wheezing and clapping like a seal. Perhaps it was the level of crudeness to which The Breaker-Upperers went that completely disconnected me from the film. Isn’t that the most important part of the relationship between the film and its audience? The connection?

Connection means everything to me when it comes to film. I connect to The Muppets because they were my gateway drug to comedy and my passion for the production aspect of the film industry. Furthermore, they are my connection to my inner-child; it’s whenever I watch one of their productions that I feel the most comfortable within my own being, something I have explained more comprehensively in a previous article. I connect to animated films due to my astonishment at how wonderfully the technology allows art to imitate life, just getting even better as the years go on.

The MCU caters perfectly to my love for complex stories that take place over several films/ various mediums. However, even in this, I am still quite selective. I didn’t even like superheroes until I fell in fangirl-love with Tony Stark upon my initial watching of The Avengers. He’s proven to be an awesome character to keep track of, his character arc over several movies staying consistent and making for great pay-offs when he finds himself in life-altering positions. I could never get that if I were to pursue a franchise like The Maze Runner series. The premise, settings and whole angsty-teenagers-against-the-dystopian-society thing just does not do it for me.

When I get hounded by my Film Studies tutors to try and watch all types of genres from all points of history from all over the world, I wholeheartedly agree. There are certain films I will need to be acquainted with, whether for their historical importance or influence upon the industry. It is within my ambitions to become a paid film-critic; to not know film history and recognise the game-changers would be to leave myself at a poor disadvantage in what is a highly charged field of work.

But at the same time, I reserve the right to be as picky as I want. If I happen to write a million articles about the benefits of living by Jim Henson’s philosophy in his films, then I will do just that. It’s not a bad topic, after all, Jim was a very thoughtful and wise man, much to learn. We all have our preferences in a variety of areas in our lives. Our film tastes shouldn’t be treated any differently.

So the next time someone asks if you’ve seen a film and you say no because it didn’t interest you, and they respond with, “WHAT?!?! How can you not be interested, you’re insane!!!” Ignore them. Seriously, just wave it off and change the subject. If it doesn’t catch your fancy, then so be it.

You never know, it might do so at a different stage in your life. The beautiful thing about a film is that it can bring you in by digging into your core, connecting itself to what makes you who you are and resonating with you through its themes, narrative and mise-en-scene, among other things. Just do you. The right films will be there, waiting for you to discover their brilliance in your own time.

A Short Message About A Year Since the “Ker-fuffle”

The fact that I didn’t post anything on the actual day should give you an indication about how I feel about it. To be honest, I completely forgot about it until I got the notification for a blog post from my friend Mary.

It’s been like that for at least the last six months. I’ll hear news about Steve doing Cons and merely think, “That’s nice. I’m glad he’s getting out and about.” Entire Con panels have been filmed and placed on YouTube. I used to crave content that contained Steve just being himself, but now, I see the videos and save them for another time.

Don’t get me wrong, I still adore the man with all my heart, but I think the title of “Whitmire Fan #1” applies to someone else and that is something I am perfectly okay with. I’d like to think the past 12 months have passed with me gaining a better sense of maturity. I’m not the same preachy, ‘down with Disney, boo the Henson’s’ fangirl I took such pride in being before.

Another transition I’ve made in the aftermath of the “Ker-fuffle” is from referring to myself as a ‘Muppet Fan’, to a more general ‘Jim Henson Fan’. Muppets are obviously apart of that, but in the absence of decent Muppet content (AKA content that I can enjoy from this side of the world), I’ve taken the opportunity to dive into other areas of Henson lore. You’re far more likely to find me down in a Fraggle Cave then the Muppet Theatre for the time being.

As I’ve mentioned many times before, all I have for Steve Whitmire is the hope that he is happy, healthy and enjoying whatever he is getting up to these days. He has mentioned new characters and personal projects during his Con panels, something I look forward to seeing for myself.

For those who were asking, I hope this satisfied your craving for my thoughts.

-Marni

P.S: Oh and while I’m here, I should mention that any permanent return to the Halibut won’t occur until at least October 5th. I have one last trimester at university until I can apply to graduate, so my focus over the last few months has been there.

‘Muppet Guys Talking’ is Like Coming Home

If you’re looking for an in-depth review of the documentary, I’ll happily send you in the direction of Tough Pigs and the Muppet Mindset because this is definitely not one of those.

No, this is something extremely personal that I finally feel comfortable sharing with you. You see, since the whole “Kermit Thing”, I’ve felt extremely disconnected from Muppetdom. It was a painful experience to have that safe happy-go-lucky illusion shattered and replaced with bitter arguing and general nastiness. The Muppets weren’t the Muppets anymore; they were something to analyse and scrutinise over. To defend and have my hackles rise up when people didn’t agree with my opinion.

I was a hypocrite; I preached about what was right and who was right for the Muppets while simultaneously becoming someone who should never be associated with them at all. And for that, I apologise. I’m sorry for being someone Jim Henson would be disappointed in.

And really at the end of the day, it always comes back to Jim and this documentary just reminded me of that fact. Watching these old friends gathered in such a relaxed environment, ignoring the cameras and crew around them, laughing and joking and remembering the wonderful things to remember….Jim did that. He started it and the people he left behind are continuing it because to them, it’s so natural and integral to who they are, as individuals and as a collective.

And I’m quite happy to say that it wound up transferring from them, through the computer screen straight into me. For the first time in months, I could just relax and enjoy the Muppet Performers for who they are and the characters they have brought to life. It’s a breath of fresh air. I can breathe because it feels right again. Frank, Dave, Jerry, Fran and Bill are (and my Frog is this corny to say!!!) the spotlights in the distance that showed me the way home.

Sure, I could happily go on and on about the great stories the Performers told, how great it was to see Jerry again (it truly was), how hard I laughed when Dave was mockingly impersonating Frank and Frank didn’t have a leg to stand on while defending himself, but right now, in the aftermath, I just want to reflect on the experience. It’s a bit like the first time I read Jim Henson: The Biography. If I remember correctly, in my review of the book, I remarked on how it was like I could feel Jim’s presence in the room as I read, like an old friend simply being there for comfort. This documentary felt exactly like that.

It’s a pretty good feeling.

I’m not saying I’m going to re-enter the fandom to the tune of exploding penguins and boomerang fish smacking people in the face as I saunter in. I think the best way back to the way things were is the quiet, reflective approach. Start with Sam and Friends and work my way through the timeline. I’ll catch up to how things are now eventually. I just need some time and a bucket load of Jim Henson’s patented Ridiculous Optimism.

A huge thank you to Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, Bill Barretta, Fran Brill and the late, great Jerry Nelson for reminding me why the Muppets mean so much to me: the people who created them.

Also, much love and gratitude goes to Victoria Lablame for conceiving the idea for the doco. And of course much love for the production staff. Awesome work guys!

Well, that’s enough late-night rambling for me! There’s only so much laughing and crying one can do before it’s time for some decent shut-eye!

Catch ya next time!

Marni

Catch Up Post: A Late Start to the New Year

Hey folks, did you miss me?

No?…..Yeah, fair enough.

I do apologise for the unannounced break. I ended up becoming extremely distracted between my summer classes, Christmas, New Years, travelling to see family, and of course, working at the hospital. It was not my intention to leave the blog for this long, but hey, I’m back so let’s get going!

Tonight I’m just going to catch you guys up on a few things. Administration and all that fun stuff!

First, I should point out that my hiatus from the Jim Henson fandom is now over and I have every intention on writing about the Muppets without any controversial topics attached to the posts. My New Years resolution is to keep it as lighthearted as possible.

As we get closer to the release of The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance on Netflix, I’m hoping there will be updates and special previews that I can use to create some fun theories for the plot. This is a practice I’m coming to enjoy doing.

Fraggle Rock reviews will be a plenty this year.

There will be a heap of Marvel Cinematic Universe related posts added to my range of topics as I have become quite invested in that particular Studio. Get ready for some Avengers: Infinity War hype!

Last year, I had a heap of fun with the posts where I just rant and swear a lot, so maybe I’ll find a good reason to have a healthy bitch session or two.

I wish I could give you a definite time of day to expect more content, but with how busy I’ll be with finishing my degree and working nights once March comes around. All I can guarantee is that there will be one post a week unless I indicate otherwise.

And finally some good news: I could finally afford to have my puppet character built. When she’s finally completed, I’ll probably film a little something to introduce her. Get ready for some sub par puppetry!

That’s about it for now. See you next week!

P.S: Guys, I wish you could hear the thunder going on outside right now as I’m writing this. It’s awesomely creepy!

 

Celebrating One Year of the Halibut!

Exactly a year ago, on a whim, I challenged myself to keeping a blog going on a semi-regular basis. The challenge came about because I had had the sad revelation that I had never really been able to stay committed to a protect for more than a couple of weeks and thought this could be a great chance to practice.

12 months, 63 posts later and here we are!

For those who may have been wondering, I called this website ‘Just for the Halibut’ due to it being one of my favourite puns made by Fozzie Bear during this song on The Muppet Show .

It goes without saying that creating this blog has been one of my best decisions yet. It’s my space to play around with my writing, share ideas and thoughts, review the films and TV shows I love and just, well, be myself while online. People can get to know me via my most expressive medium and in turn, I can get to know them through their comments and feedback.

I was going to write a long-winded post about what this blog means to me, but I think a short-hand recount will do just fine. Let me put it this way: the blog has already given me opportunities I never thought I would have. I was complimented by an author I admire, made friends and connections I never would have otherwise and most astonishingly of all, I got to connect with my creative idol. I wasn’t expecting any of that. Instead of getting bored with it after a couple of months, all of these strange and inviting events have kept me going strong with a passion I would be remiss to lose.

Before I wrap this up, there’s a few people I’d like to thank:

Sunny Eclipse: Thanks for being such a great friend and giving me great feedback when we talk! I especially thank you for your support during the whole Whitmire debacle. Things were falling apart, but we could help each other pick up the pieces.

Mike Quinn: You’ve been an amazing friend this year and I’m grateful for the support we were able to provide for each other when times were difficult during the Debacle. Thanks for your generosity in providing feedback for articles I was extremely hesitant about posting.

Mary Arlene: You’ve been wonderfully helpful and generous with your time with all of your responses to my posts!  It’s been a delight getting to know you these past few months!

(If you guys haven’t checked out Mary’s blog, you totally should!)

Jarrod Fairclough: You and I may have agreed to disagree on events from this year, but I still appreciate the time and effort you put into keeping The Muppet Mindset up and running. You’ve certainly set the bar high for this sorry slacker.

Anne Terri: Your input and participation is also well appreciated. (I promise to keep the cussing to a minimum!)

1000 Eyes (from Muppet Central): Your snarky feedback is more often than not exactly what I needed.

And thank you guys for being my loyal readers! I really appreciate your time and enthusiasm as I continue to stumble over the keyboard and try to bring you content you will enjoy each and every week. It’s been a heap of fun and I certainly don’t see myself giving it up anytime soon.

As always, you can contact me at justforthehalibut@yahoo.com for post suggestions, comments, feedback or even just to say a quick hello!

Always a pleasure,

Marni

I wonder what the next year is going to bring?

 

Late Night Nonsense: Hating My Own Words

So I was making my way through my past articles to see what I wanted to highlight for The Halibut’s one year anniversary, but it didn’t go exactly as planned. There’s a constant and annoying habit I have that I keep forgetting about.

I generally hate my past work.

After I write something, there’s a great honeymoon period when I’m quite pleased with my efforts which lasts one to two weeks, then the novelty starts to wear off. By the time it’s gone, all I can do is read my own work with disdain and horror. All I do is sit there and tear the post apart, sentence by sentence, wishing I could go back in time and do it again now that I’m aware of what did wrong the first time.

More than that, I fail to understand the response from my readers, especially if it’s positive-

I still can’t believe Brian Jay Jones read my review of Jim Henson: The Biography and called it a ‘lovely, lovely piece’ on Twitter.

I still can’t believe Steve Whitmire– Steven Lawrence ‘One of My Biggest Idols’ Freaking Whitmire, read my one-and-only poetry post and complimented it. I mean, yeah, the poem was about him, so of course he was going to want to know what was being written, but I still consider it the best compliment I’ll ever receive. In addition to that, he apparently read the other articles I have written in support of him- there’s more of them to come in the future, believe me!

Muppet Performer Mike Quinn has also been wonderful in adding his two cents towards certain articles as well, which has and always will be worth more to me than I could possibly say. That fact that someone who is that busy and has so many friends, family and fans to interact with would take the time out to do that is brilliant. Definitely one of the greatest friends I could have asked for.

I’ve even had people say they were honoured to talk to me because I’m apparently such a great writer. This isn’t me bragging by any means and if you don’t believe me, I have the screenshots to prove it (certain things are truly worth treasuring). It just frustrates me that I can’t see my work through their eyes.

Crap….where was I going with this post again?

I think…I think what I’m trying to do here is ask for help from you guys, the readers of my posts and people who are very much like me. Allow me to ask you, what is your approach to observing your own work in hindsight? Do you immediately try to see the positives? Are you critical of it? Do you let bygones be bygones?

Maybe with different perspectives, I can gain a better understanding of how to observe with much less of a negative eye. Please comment below and share your approach, it would be much appreciated.

 

Safe Zones in the Early Morning

It’s currently 1 AM and my insomnia is gotten to me once again, leaving me to stew in a pit of thoughts I’d much prefer to crawl out of, but here we are.

Let’s talk about my current subject of obsession: Safe Zones.

I certainly have heaps of them: The Muppets, Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal, Dreamworks Dragons, My Little Pony: FiM, Harry Potter….I seem to be partial to the fantasy and just plain silly forms of entertainment Jim Henson and the Western world has to offer.

It’s a bit odd (and perhaps a little sad) that this particular list belongs to an adult woman who will be turning 21 on Wednesday. I’ve seen so many people, whether on Facebook or elsewhere, that have presented their transition into adulthood by ridding themselves of anything and everything childish. Glancing around my room now, there’s a well-used Kermit the Frog shoulder bag hanging to my right, a big toy horse in front of me and my Muppet collection to my left. If someone who didn’t know me were to take a look at this room, they would guess it belonged to an 8 year-old girl.

The funny thing is, I didn’t start accumulating any of this until I was 16. My room was filled with Beanie Kids and toy horses before being replaced with books, DVDs and Muppet merchandise. My room hasn’t changed personality, just general filler. The only ‘adult’ factor of this small space is the university related stuff and my M*A*S*H box set. Even then, the box set of my all-time favourite show has an accompanying plush toy dog. It’s an odd looking thing and I’ve affectionately dubbed it “Radar” since it reminds me so much of Gary Burghoff.

I suppose my room is what you could call my “ultimate safe zone”, as I’m clearly surrounded by the things that help me to escape and defend myself from reality when it becomes a little too much to bear. Some people drink or take drugs, others work out their frustrations at the gym-

Me? I fangirl over things and then write about it…Or in today’s case, write about fangirling…It really does come full circle when you really think about it.

I remember not long after I joined the Muppet fandom, I was at school and during lunchtime, a girl who had been nasty to me in the past came up to try and have another go. I was already stronger in spirit at that point then I had been in the past, but I was still a very lost 17 year-old with body-issues the size of elephants. Which is why, despite this particular day’s attempts to put me down about my weight and unsightly face, my arch enemy was surprised to come face-to-face with “Miss Marni”.

“You’re just jealous because you’re not me,” I had boldly snapped back, “Not everyone can be this awesome. I feel sorry for you.”

Before she could retort, I was already striding away with as much sass as my pasty white behind could muster (which honestly wasn’t much). Once I was out of her sight, I immediately took pause with what was probably a stunned expression. Where on earth did that come from? I couldn’t believe my own nerve. Sassing people wasn’t my strong suit at that point in my life.

But then it hit me…..It was the Pig.

That wasn’t me doing the talking during that little encounter. It was Miss Piggy in all of her hammy glory, who seemed to have gotten under my skin even though she was my least favourite Muppet. Her determination to be known as the most fabulous of beings had rubbed off on me and I used her when I needed her the most. Piggy still doesn’t even crack my Top 50 Muppets, but you know what? After all of the times, she’s helped me stand up to people and reassured me I’m actually worth something, I think I owe the pig more than just a few boxes of chocolate.

Another means of escape from reality took me completely by surprise late least year. I watch a heck of a lot of YouTube and one channel I’m subscribed to is run by a guy named Gabe, who also goes by the name of Black Gryph0n. Aside from being an amazing singer and voice talent (he voiced Becky in Finding Dory), Gabe is a huge personality in the Brony community. I ended up watching a few of his My Little Pony-related videos and it intrigued me enough to find the first episode of the show and give it a watch.

Three weeks later, I was caught up with the entire series and was eagerly awaiting the next season as well as the movie that came out this month.

At first I was like, “Really Marni? My Little Pony? Aren’t you already pushing it with Sesame Street?” But you know what? Bugger it. I honestly stopped caring whether or not people knew I watched kids programming on a regular basis. I’m certainly not the only one doing it and I’m not hurting anyone by doing it. I find MLP to be more clever and entertaining then more than half of the adult programmes on prime time these days anyway.

Not to mention that the Brony community is hugely creative and I love immersing myself in the fan art and videos that they’ve created over the years. Can you believe that this was made by fans purely out of their love for the show? It’s beautiful.

I suppose everyone has a different definition of ‘safe zone’. For me, it’s a place where I can just be myself and show off some of my own creativity through my writing, which is why fandoms are my personal go-to. Who cares if it’s a little childish? There are far worse things to be into then puppets, dragons, wizards and pastel-coloured horses, isn’t there?

I’d love to know what you consider to be your ‘escape zone’. Comment below and let me know!

Fan Review:”Jim, with a T”

From the Melbourne Fringe Festival website:

“Jim, with a T” is a tribute show to the life and work of Jim Henson. Written and performed by Tim Green, the show explores the worlds of Henson through the songs his characters have made famous. As Tim seeks the secret to Jim’s genius, and shows just how said genius has affected his life, the audience goes on a journey to recreate some of Jim’s most iconic moments and get in touch with their own inner happiness and creative imagination. Funny, touching, and somewhat crazy, the show blends the innocent wisdom of Jim Henson with the difficult cynicism and anxiety ever-present in Tim’s life. Come along, sing a song, and see how a life can be changed with a little bit of felt and a lot of imagination, both Jim’s and Tim’s.

This show was exactly what I had been needing these past few months!

I can’t review the show from the perspective of a critic, but I certainly can as a fellow devotee to Jim Henson’s legacy. I was going to leave it to the morning to write this, however, there are somethings you just can’t set aside until later.

Down in the basement of the Metropolitan Hotel in North Melbourne, I and one of my best friends (who I may or may not have dragged along with me) gathered with several other Henson fans to be regaled with the story of Jim’s life; from birth until his final days.

And it was wonderful. 

When the stage area was blacked-out and the lights popped back on to reveal Tim in a Kermit outfit with a ukulele, ready to sing ‘Rainbow Connection’, I knew we were in for something special.

Equipped with only a microphone, a few props and an accompanying pianist, Tim recreated the scenes of several key Muppet songs that outlined or related to Jim’s life. He opened with ‘Rainbow Connection’, sang ‘Time in a Bottle’ when touching upon how Paul Henson Jr’s death affected Jim and connected Sesame Street with ‘Rubber Ducky’. Also included was ‘I Hope That Something Better Comes Along’, ‘I’m Going to Go Back There Someday’, ‘Just One Person’ and finally, ‘Being Green’.

It was an absolute delight watching Tim enthusiastically make his way through Jim’s story, using a child’s easel and drawings on a giant flip-book as a visual timeline. As Tim reminded us, Jim once said that, “Simple is good” and Tim definitely used the minimalist approach to his advantage. No prop went to waste and their use, along with Tim’s banter, had us all in stitches.

Since I already knew Jim’s story, what truly resonated with me was Tim’s personal connection to Jim as a follower of his philosophy. The clear reverence that showed in Tim’s expressions as he talked helped to establish my own connection to him as the performer. Tim mentioned the years he had felt as if he was displaced, a bit of a disappointment and his fear of not amounting to much. Learning about Jim and the Muppets helped him overcome these anxieties.

I couldn’t possibly relate to this sentiment more; I discovered Jim in the prime of my adolescence: when I truly needed him the most. I certainly wouldn’t have had the guts to pursue a career in film if I hadn’t been introduced to Jim’s ridiculous optimism! I also nodded in understanding when Tim admitted that trying to explain why he loves the Muppets can be embarrassing.  I agreed with his observation that the Muppets have a sense of warm familiarity to them that leaves you feeling as if, in the end, no matter how bad things get, it will get better, perhaps even amazing!

After a teary recount of Jim’s death and following memorial and beautiful renditions of ‘Just One Person’ and ‘Being Green’, I walked back up the stairs and bought a drink, ready to reflect on what I had just witnessed. Throughout the whole show, I had laughed, teared up, mouthed along to the songs and gasped when I realised what Tim was going to do next. In those moments, everything had felt just about right.

As an added bonus, my friend who I had dragged along had enjoyed the show just as much as I had. To my surprise, mostly thanks to the songs, which she had never realised the beauty of before, she ended up finding her own Rainbow Connection. She couldn’t believe that a genius the likes of Jim Henson could be there one minute, then gone the next. She was pretty emotional about it afterwards.

I wound up explaining that, yes, Jim’s sudden death was a tragedy and that it’s okay to be initially sad about it. However, after a while, the sadness goes away and you’re able to think about Jim and smile because he had existed. We get the privilege of living in a world touched by Jim’s influence and that is certainly better than nothing.

Ladies and gentleman, we have a brand new addition to the Muppet Fandom! May her time in our ranks be weird and pleasantly unstable!

All in all, it was the best 50 minutes I could have spent in the basement of a pub. Tim is truly passing on the legacy of Jim Henson in his own special way. If you happen to be in Melbourne and haven’t seen the show yet, you can buy tickets here. The show is running until Saturday 23rd.

Best $15 you’ll spend this year!

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