My Favorite Song Right Now… Is By Selena Gomez?!?

Recently, my wife Staci had our Amazon Echo play the song “Bad Liar” by Selena Gomez.  The song came out about a year ago, but I wasn’t familiar with it. I was immediately intrigued, though, by the opening bass part, which I first thought sounded like the Fraggle Rock theme song, before realizing it was actually borrowed from “Psycho Killer” by Talking Heads.

And since that first listen, I’ve probably listened to it 15 more times. How did this happen? WHY did it happen?

Not that I have anything against Selena Gomez. Her hit “Love You Like a Love Song” is catchy, and… well, I guess that’s all I previously knew of her music. I mostly knew of her as a former Disney Channel star who once dated Justin Bieber, and I never thought of myself as part of her target audience. But now I can’t stop listening to “Bad Liar.” Here’s why:

1. The aforementioned bass line (Is “bass line” the correct term? I DON’T KNOW). It’s repetitive, but that repetition provides a firm but groovy foundation that the whole song is built on.

2. The hand claps. Boy, am I a sucker for a song that skillfully employs hand claps, and this one keeps them going from the very beginning.

3. The assorted percussion sounds and echoes and various other sonic effects. Some of which I can’t identify, and one of which seems to be a vocalist going “Oah oh-oah!” Far out.

4. The lyrics. I appreciate song lyrics that combine earnestness with a lack of self-consciousness, resulting in lines that veer precariously close to high school poetry territory. One of the earliest lines in this song is “Just like the Battle of Troy, there’s nothing subtle here.” I love that line. It even manages to comment on itself — there’s nothing subtle about that lyric! In the chorus, she says “You’re taking up a fraction of my mind.” Not her whole mind, just a fraction! And then there’s “Every time I watch you serpentine.” What does that mean? Is the object of her affections part-snake? Maybe!

5. The thing where Gomez’s vocals are so restrained for most of the song, but then at that one part she suddenly goes “OH! BABY–” and you’re like, “Whoa! She really means it!” And going back to the lyrics for just a second, what follows is “Let’s make reality actuality,” which is one of those lines that sounds stupid when you see it written out but sounds great as part of a song.

Yep, I guess I really like this Selena Gomez song. Oddly enough, “Bad Liar” seems to have just been a single, and not associated with any album. So I’ll have to wait under her next LP to see if she sticks with the same style… whatever that style may be. There is a video for the song, which is almost as fascinating as the song itself:

You know, I didn’t have to write this post. I didn’t have to tell anyone how much I like this song. But I know I couldn’t have pretended not to like the song. Because if I had, the true “Bad Liar” would have been me.

Yep, that’s how I’m ending this post.


My Favorite Movie-Going Memories

My dad, who has become an avid blogger, recently wrote a delightful post about his memories of childhood movie-going. These days, the movie theater experience in general isn’t what it used to be, as tickets get more expensive and everyone except me gets more annoying (TURN OFF YOUR PHONE). But I’ll always love the ritual of seeing a movie at the cinema.

Dad’s post  reminded me that I’ve been meaning to write something about some of my all-time favorite and/or most memorable movie theater experiences. So here’s that.

The Tingler, presented in PERCEPTO

I don’t go to NYC’s Film Forum often enough.  In addition to new art-house stuff, they show a carefully curated selection of old films… It’s where I saw both Footlight Parade and The Bridge on the River Kwai for the first time.  But the best choice I ever made to go to Film Forum was when they were showing The Tingler.  That’s a 1959 horror movie about a fear-craving creature starring Vincent Price and directed by William Castle, who was famous for his gimmicks.

For their screenings of the film, Film Forum actually replicated “PERCEPTO,” the immersive in-theater technology used for the original release.  There were psychedelic lights that flashed over the screen.  There was a skeleton on a wire that swung over the audience.  And many of the seats were equipped with vibrating buzzers set to zap us when the Tingler attacked. It was thrilling, especially during the scene when the Tingler escapes from captivity and infiltrates a movie theater — Vincent Price’s line about “The Tingler is IN THE THEATER!” isn’t nearly as effective when you watch this movie at home.

Spice World

Embarrassing true fact about me: I was genuinely surprised when the Spice Girls disbanded after only about five years. Even after Ginger left the group, I assumed they would be around for years to come. Their one and only movie Spice World, though, does not appear to be a film whose creators took their time to carefully craft a work of art. It’s kind of all over the place, and pretty dumb.  But it’s entertaining.

Yes, I saw Spice World in the theater.  I saw it with a few friends, and when we arrived we were surprised to find that, other than a few other youngsters we knew from school, we were the only ones there.  At a Spice Girls movie! In a small town where teenagers flocked to the movie theater as one of the only entertainment venues! Where was everyone? Seeing Titanic for the fifth time, probably.

Anyway, the empty theater essentially gave us crazy kids permission to laugh way too loud at the Spice Girls’ antics, sing along with the songs, and at one point, even dance in the aisle.  It wasn’t a good movie, but it was a good time at the movies.

What Lies Beneath

Sometimes that small-town movie theater was extremely frustrating.  Parents thought nothing of dropping off their awful children and letting them see whatever movie they wanted, which led to some pretty noisy screenings.

But every once in a while, the Uvalde crowd’s more vocal tendencies worked out pretty well. It was fun seeing movies like I Know What You Did Last Summer, Signs, and even Halloween H20 with an audience who came prepared to respond to all the scares without reservations.  Robert Zemeckis’s spooky thriller What Lies Beneath starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford stands out as the most memorable instance of this phenomenon.  There are a lot of jump scares in that movie, and the audience jumped and screamed and exclaimed at every single one. A few years ago, I watched the movie on DVD for the first time since its theatrical release, and it was pretty cool, but it wasn’t the same.

2001: A Space Odyssey

It seems to be an annual tradition for the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens to show 2001: A Space Odyssey as part of their ongoing “See It Big” series, and I’ve seen it there twice.  Having previously only seen it on a very letterboxed VHS tape on a 4:3 TV, being immersed in a 70mm film presentation on a big screen felt like actually venturing into outer space.

When you see it on the big screen, everything is just… more.  The sometimes cacophonous music and sound effects, the remarkable visual effects, the fury of the prehistoric ape-men, and the tension of HAL’s suspicious behavior.  It’s all right there in front of you, and it’s completely engrossing.

Muppets Most Wanted

I love the Muppets.  Obviously.  When they made a cinematic comeback (The Muppets) in 2011 after lying low for a few years, it was pretty exciting.  When that movie was successful enough to warrant a follow-up in 2014, it was equally exciting — and then I went to an advance screening a week before it was released and discovered that Muppets Most Wanted was even better, funnier, and more Muppety than The Muppets.  That was super-duper-mega-exciting.  I’ve now seen all the Muppet movies on the big screen, including five of them during their original release.  But discovering Most Wanted for the first time in a theater full of fellow fans may have been the most thrilling.


My friend and then-roommate Joe and I didn’t know a lot about Cloverfield before we went to see it early in its run.  Nobody did, per the deliberate marketing decisions by J.J. Abrams and the gang. The combination of the mystery, the film’s first-person found-footage perspective, and the familiar New York City locations combined to make it probably the most harrowing time I’ve ever had at a monster movie. ARGH, they didn’t know the monster was behind them!!! YAAA, the monster smashed up the Time Warner Center!!! When I emerged from the theater, I looked around and was genuinely relieved to find that the city had not been destroyed.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade AND Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (a double feature!)

Shortly after we moved to a new town, my dad took my brother and me to see a double feature of the latest Indiana Jones movie and the latest Star Trek movie.  I have no idea if this was a nationwide event officially sanctioned by Paramount, or just something the local theater came up with to get folks to come see two summer movies at once. (With thematically similar titles, no less!)

Last Crusade was the first Indiana Jones movie I ever saw and it remains my favorite. I now know The Final Frontier is considered one of the weakest Trek installments, but I was young enough then that every movie seemed like a good movie, so I had a great time. And we got to see TWO movies in ONE trip to the theater!

Superman at Bryant Park

The 1978 Superman will always be one of the best superhero movies. The most memorable of a handful of times I’ve seen it came when I attended a free outdoor screening at Manhattan’s Bryant Park. It’s a great one to see with a throng of all-ages movie fans who are so ready to have a rip-snortin’ good, and that’s exactly what happened. There was cheering, there was applause… and then, about two-thirds of the way through, the film broke, or the projector stopped. Something went wrong, and suddenly there was no more movie.

We all sat there waiting for something to happen, and then it started, somewhere near the back of the crowd. A guy was singing John Williams’s stirring theme from the film. More voices joined in, and soon it was just about everyone: “Bum ba-BUM! Ba-BUM ba-DA-DUM! Bum ba-DUM! Ba-BUM ba-da BUM-BUM!” Which is surprisingly difficult to type out, but trust me, it was swell to be a part of. When the movie crew got things back up and running, we cheered for them like they were our favorite superheroes.

The Room

The first time I saw Tommy Wiseau’s phenomenally bad “masterpiece,” it was on DVD with a few good friends. That was fun. But a few weeks ago, my wife Staci and I attended a Fathom Events screening, which meant we were watching with a hundred new friends. Some folks were apparently seeing it for the first time, laughing out loud every time they were surprised by another inexplicable line of dialogue or acting choice. Others were obviously devoted members of the cult of The Room — they came prepared to shout at the characters and throw spoons at the screen at the appointed times. Normally this kind of behavior would be intolerable at a movie. But in this case, it greatly enhanced the proceedings. At a certain point, it started to get funnier and funnier every time they let their spoons fly, so I couldn’t possibly be mad at them. After all, if a lot of people loved each other, the world would be a better place to live.


What are your favorite movie-going experiences? Let me know! I want to know!



I Found Little Miss Hard-to-Find and All Her Friends!

Before I forget, I want to reveal the exciting follow-up to my recent post “My Search for Little Miss Hard-to-Find,” in which I detailed my frustrating search for more information and the companion tracks to a surprisingly good pop song found on a children’s audio tape I had back in the day.

I shared that post on Facebook at 2:44 PM the day I published it.  At 6:36 — not even four hours later — I had the answer I had been seeking.  It turns out my friend Nicola had the exact same tape of Little Miss Trouble I had(!), she had gone on the same search for more(!!), and she had found success(!!!).

As Nicola informed me, the Little Miss and Mr. Men songs I sought were written by Bonnie Lee Sanders, Ellen Schwartz, Paul Parnes & Tom Spahn.  That was great to know, but even greater was the fact that they’re all on the website Ellen Schwartz and Friends, which features lots of information on the life and career of the late Ms. Schwartz.

So now I’ve heard all of them!  The versions on the website are not much better quality than the version of “You’re Worth the Trouble” on my old tape, but I’m not about to complain.  And happily, they’re all pretty good. “You’re Worth the Trouble” is definitely the best of them, but I also really like the rollicking “Hey Mr. Messy” and the audio party that is “It’s Noisy in Here.”  “Naughty But Nice,” about a softie who acts tough, is pretty much a joke song, but it’s catchy and is vaguely reminiscent of Elvis Costello. And “You Are the Sunshine” could have been an easy listening radio hit in 1977.  (I mean that as a compliment. Honest.)

Like “You’re Worth the Trouble,” none of these songs talk down to kids, which is an essential part of why they’re so good.  “Shakin’ Like Jelly” pitches up the vocals so it sounds like a chipmunk singing, which would be entertaining to kids, but the lyrics are about paranoia.  “Think It Over” is about overcoming social anxiety. This is a remarkable batch of songs.

I’m happy to have heard all these songs now, and also amazed.  Thanks, internet! Thanks, Bonnie Lee Sanders, Ellen Schwartz, Paul Parnes & Tom Spahn! And big thanks, Nicola!

Sadly, the version of “Scatterbrain” on the Ellen Schwartz website cuts off after just seventeen seconds.  So I still haven’t heard all of all of the songs. My search continues!

My Search for Little Miss Hard-to-Find

When I was a kid, I had a read-along book & tape set of this story, Little Miss Trouble by Roger Hargreaves.  It’s part of the Mr. Men & Little Miss series of children’s books, which are all about silly characters with names that describe their primary personality traits.  Assuming those descriptors are their last names, the implication of the books’ reality is that every member of Mr. Messy’s family is messy, every child born to Little Miss Twins’ family is a twin, and so on.  It would be a weird world to live in.

Little Miss Trouble, naturally, is about a girl who loves making trouble.  This mostly manifests itself in the form of spreading rumors about Mr. Small, which results in Mr. Small getting beaten up by other Misters.  In the end, Little Miss Trouble’s own trouble-making method is turned against her, and she’s relentlessly bumped and tickled by Mr. Bump and Mr. Tickle, respectively, until she expresses remorse.  I suppose the lesson for kids reading the book is twofold: Don’t be a jerk; and if someone is a jerk to you, solve the problem by stooping to their level.

The audio cassette tape that came with my copy of the book was just like most of the many read-along tapes I had. There was a narrator, some actors did funny voices for the character dialogue, and there was a sound effect to indicate when to turn the page. But then at the end of the tape, after the end of the story, there was this song. I can’t guarantee this is accurate, but I assume it’s called “You’re Worth the Trouble.”  It doesn’t retell the story, it doesn’t even mention the characters, and it refers to a completely different kind of trouble.

I no longer own the read-along tape, but recently I was converting some old tapes to digital files, and I was delighted to find that at some point I copied the song onto another tape.  Here it is:

Isn’t that great? The book has a 1981 copyright date, and “You’re Worth the Trouble” sounds exactly like 1981.  The singer is a guy in a quirky, occasionally exasperating relationship — a subject the kids in the book’s audience would know nothing about.  Like I said, it’s not really connected to the story, so there was no reason for this song to be on that tape.  But I love it.  It’s a catchy, genuinely wonderful pop song.

As a nostalgia-prone grown-up in the age of infinite information, I wanted to know more about this song.  Who wrote it?  Who sang it?  Were there more like it? There was a whole series of these books, so it’s only logical that there would be more read-alongs, and more songs.  I’ve been doing a lot of web-searching, hoping to find answers.

Well, call me Mr. Frustrated.  So far I haven’t been able to come up with much.  I can’t find anything online about the personnel involved, and nobody besides me seems to have posted any of the songs online. However! I did discover that there was an LP collecting twelve Mr. Men & Little Miss songs, including “You’re Worth the Trouble.”  It’s called Mr. Men and Little Miss Sing-Along, and it looks like each of the songs is from another read-along.  Some of the song titles I found — “Naughty But Nice” for Little Miss Naughty and “Shakin’ Like Jelly” for Mr. Nervous — lead me to believe they may be pleasant, all-ages pop, just like “You’re Worth the Trouble.”

Just think: Eleven more songs, potentially similar to and as good as “You’re Worth the Trouble!”  I’d love to hear them all.  So I started clicking around in search of the album.

Currently, one Amazon seller is offering it for $266.69.  Unfortunately, I’m not Mr. Wealthy, so that’s a bit out of my price range.  I sent the seller a message asking if they might consider selling it for less than that, so here’s hoping I can talk them down to no more than $213.87!

Meanwhile, I’ve searched Etsy, and eBay, with no luck.  I’ve tried searching YouTube many different ways, but my efforts are impeded by the fact that there have been various Mr. Men & Little Miss videos and TV series, and several people have recorded themselves reading the books out loud.

So my search continues.  If you know anything about this record, or these songs, or if you own one of these read-along tapes, or if you think your Google skills might be up to the task of finding more, please let me know! I won’t give up until I’m Mr. Guy Who Has Heard All Twelve Mr. Men & Little Miss Songs.



This Post Is Iconic and I Am Iconic and You Are Iconic

Orange Bird

Words lose their meaning faster these days as the internet burns through them.  I’m not even talking about words that stop meaning what they mean because people use them without understanding them, like what happened to literally.  I’m talking about words that get thrown around haphazardly until they see their effectiveness peeled away like string cheese.  Remember epic?

I don’t have any graphs to back this up, but I’m positive the word iconic is being thrown around now more than ever.  Look, I copied and pasted a definition:

of, relating to, or having the characteristics of an icon

Okay, so what’s an icon?

  1. a usually pictorial representation :  image

  2. [Late Greek eikōn, from Greek] :  a conventional religious image typically painted on a small wooden panel and used in the devotions of Eastern Christians

  3. an object of uncritical devotion :  idol

  4. emblem, symbol <the house became an icon of 1960’s residential architecture — Paul Goldberger>

  5. a :  a sign (as a word or graphic symbol) whose form suggests its meaning b :  a graphic symbol on a computer display screen that represents an object (as a file) or function (as the command to delete)

I don’t think most people are comparing things to religious imagery or computer icons when they call them iconic. (“Yes, James Dean is a graphic symbol on the computer display of Hollywood.”)  But they’re probably going for something like definition #4.  But can everything that’s described as “iconic” these days possibly align with that designation?  I’ll be the judge of that!  Over several months, I started noting every time I saw something described as “iconic.”  Then I forget all about it.  Then I remembered again, and now here’s the list, with each item followed by my own star rating of how iconic that thing is.  One star (*) is the least iconic and four stars (****) is the most iconic.

Jabba the Hutt, according to Movie Pilot, 2/9/15
[He was a memorable villain.]

Cruella de Vil, according to Yahoo! Movies, 2/10/15 **
[Another memorable villain, for sure.]

Hannibal Lecter, according to Nathan Rabin on The Dissolve, 2/11/15 **
[Hey, another memorable villain!]

The Gilmore Girls score, according to Wikipedia, seen on 2/11/15 *

Cindy Crawford, according to some stupid headline on Facebook linking to an article about a Photoshop-free issue of Marie Claire, 2/13/15 **

Every sketch Eddie Murphy did on Saturday Night Live, according to Splitsider, 2/13/15 *
[Sure, some of them are.  “James Brown Celebrity Hot Tub,” “Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood.”  But his hairdresser sketches with Joe Piscopo aren’t exactly talked about all the time now.]

Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd, and Alice in Wonderland, according to The Dissolve, 2/18/15 *
[I mean, people have heard of them.  But are they iconic?]

Smokey Robinson, Johnny Mathis, and Carole King, according to Entertainment Weekly, issue dated 2/20/15 ****
[Okay.  With their powers combined, I’ll give it to them.]

Barbra Streisand’s cameo in a “Coffee Talk” sketch on Saturday Night Live in the 1990s, according to Entertainment Weekly, issue dated 2/20/15 *

The Godfather score, according to Julie Andrews on the Oscars, 2/22/15 **
[The main theme, perhaps.  It probably depends who you ask.]

The works of art parodied in the Sesame Street special The Cookie Thief, according to Matthew Soberman on Tough Pigs, 2/26/15 ****
[The Mona Lisa?  The Scream?  Starry Night?  Yeah, I’d say they qualify.]

The Fourth Doctor’s scarf from Doctor Who, according to Cracked, 3/2/15 *
[Definitely another depends-who-you-ask.]

The Rockettes, according to two of the Rockettes in a Reddit AMA, 3/3/15 **

Places in Los Angeles where palm trees grow, according to 99% Invisible, podcast episode from 3/3/15 *

Rosa Parks, according to a Washington Post article about the Women on 20s campaign, 3/5/15 ****
[She’s an important historical figure, although I wonder how many people actually know what she looked like.]

Star Trek, according to Entertainment Weekly, issue dated 3/13/15 ***
[I feel like saying the whole series is iconic is a bit broad.  The starship Enterprise would qualify.]

Glee‘s performance of “Don’t Stop Believin'” according to Entertainment Weekly, issue dated 3/20-27/15 *

Michael Scott, according to Uproxx, 3/24/15 *

Emo Phillips’s role in UHF, according to “Weird Al” Yankovic on The AV Club, 3/23/15 *
[I WISH this were more iconic.]

The part in 2001: A Space Odysssey when HAL sings “Daisy Bell,” according to Cracked, 3/25/15 *
[The monolith would get more stars.]

New York City pizza, according to Huffington Post, 3/30/15 ***
[I’ll have pepperoni!]

The Colosseum, according to Cracked, 4/10/15 ****
[It’s hard to argue with anything more than a thousand years old.]

John Byrne’s cover to X-Men #141, according to Comics Should Be Good, 4/10,15 **
[In the comics world, sure, if only for how many times it’s been parodied and paid homage.]

The sound effects of Mario mounting Yoshi and Yoshi sticking his tongue out, according to Philip Sandfifer, 4/20/15 *

A photo of the cast of Troop Beverly Hills, according to Carla Gugino in an AV Club interview, 6/17/15 *

Herve Villachez’s voice, according to The AV Club, 8/12/15 *
[I’d give more stars for his catchphrase: “The plane, boss, the plane!”]

Pamela Anderson’s red swimsuit on Baywatch, according to AV Club, 1/4/16 *
[Something of Pamela Anderson’s made her Baywatch role famous, but I’m not sure it was the swimsuit…]

Nickelodeon’s Legends of the Hidden Temple, according to host Kirk Fogg in a Great Big Story video on YouTube, 1/14/16 *

Rita Hayworth flipping her hair in Gilda, according to AV Club, 1/16/16 *
[While I’ll admit I haven’t seen the film, I’m unfamiliar with this hair flip.]

The Orange Bird character in Adventureland at Disney World, according to @WDWToday on Twitter, 1/21/16 *
[Even among Disney park fandom, Orange Bird can’t be that high on the list of the most widely-known things.]

The X-Files theme song, according to AV Club, 1/21/16 **

Scooby-Doo, according to Jim Lee in an Entertainment Weekly interview, 1/28/16 ***

Bee Movie, according to Jerry Seinfeld in a Reddit AMA, 6/8/16 *

The Ferris wheel from the now-closed Times Square Toys R Us, according to Curbed New York, 7/20/16 *
[If you’ve been there, you’d remember it, but it’s not the first thing anyone thinks of when they think of Times Square, or Toys R Us.]

The Empire State Building, according to Snopes, 7/25/16 ****

Captain America, according to a bunch of articles when he got a statue in Brooklyn, ***


Huh. Doing this, I actually discovered that I agree with more of these than I expected.  But I still think the word is used too much, when other words would suffice.  Famous… memorable… revered. Do you agree with my assessments?  Disagree?  Let me know in the iconic comments.

HER?! She Was Banned from SNL? I Can’t Believe… Wait, Who Is That?

If you ask me, “clickbait” headlines on the internet are one of the worst things ever to happen to mankind.  I used to fall for them pretty frequently, clicking on an enticing headline only to feel bad about myself when the crappy linked article failed to prove an experience nearly as excited as the one teased.  Now I avoid them at all costs.  Internet headlines have made bitter and jaded and cynical about the world I live in.

Today I was reading an article on a website that was not, when I saw this ad/link to an article on

13 Stars You Didn't Know Were Banned from SNL

It’s an intriguing title, I’ll give them that.  What crimes against humanity could 13 stars have committed that got them banned from Saturday Night Live?  But I’ve seen this list, or variations on it, on other websites before, and I’m pretty sure many of the celebrities included are not actually BANNED from SNL.  It’s not like Lorne Michaels sends an updated list to the press every year.  The show’s history is full of one-time hosts who simply never hosted a second time, but that doesn’t mean they were all barred from setting foot in 30 Rockefeller Center.

But putting that aside, the thing that got me right away was their choice of photo for the ad.  The woman pictured is Louise Lasser, star of the 1970s soap opera satire Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and former wife of Woody Allen who costarred with him in Bananas.  She was reportedly dealing with some personal issues when she hosted Saturday Night Live, and her episode is somewhat infamous among fans of the show, for her strange manner on-camera and her weirdness on the set.

Still, I question the fact that of all 13 stars on the list, she’s the one they chose for the photo.  Lasser has a perfectly impressive resume — she was just in a few episodes of Girls last season —  but she hasn’t exactly been a household name in the last few decades.  Aren’t these clickbait ads trying to reach young, hip internet users?  For most people, I can only assume that Louise Lasser would not just be a Star They Didn’t Know Was Banned from SNL.  She would be a Star They Didn’t Know.

I was curious to see how many of my acquaintances would recognize Lasser on sight, so I turned to Facebook with a very informal poll.  I posted a version of the photo above and asked: “Do you know who this is?  Please answer yes or no for now.”

And wow, a lot of people answered very quickly.  The results as of this writing: 23 yes, 17 no.

So that’s actually a lot of people who know who Louise Lasser is, in addition to a lot who don’t.  But it should be noted that the kind of people I associate with tend to be exactly the kind of pop culture nerds who would recognize an actress whose profile was highest almost 40 years ago.

I think my point is still a good one, though, and that point is this: If they really wanted to get clicks, they should have used a photo of Milton Berle.  By all accounts, he was actually banned from returning to the show after his behavior on the set… and the kids today just love him!

From 21 Amazing Muppet Facts You Definitely Didn’t Know Because I Made Them All Up

For April Fools’ Day 2015, (for Muppet fans who grew up!) became BuzzPigs, a BuzzFeed-style clickbait haven for Muppet fans.  The actual articles came down after April 1st, but I just couldn’t bear to see this one go.  So here it is!

The internet loves lists, and the internet really loves lists of interesting trivia facts.  With that in mind, I decided to put together a brand-new list of Muppet facts (and give them a clickbait headline!).  But I didn’t want to spend any time looking up actual Muppet facts, so I just made some up.  They’re sure to BLOW YOUR MIND.

1. Jim Henson made the fur for his first Rowlf the Dog puppet using clippings from his dad’s beard.

2. Gonzo was named after the janitor at the Muppet Workshop, Art Gonzatopoulos.

3. Sesame Street’s impressive list of celebrity guest stars over the years includes The Baha Men, Donna Summer, Glenn Beck, Al Jolson, Sam Kinison, Ke$ha, the “Where’s the beef?” lady, Crispin Glover, O.J. Simpson, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Wilson the Volleyball.

4. During his weekends off from the Muppets, Frank Oz had an amazing career in the rodeo, winning the title of All-Around Cowboy Champion from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association every year from 1974 to 1982.

5. A young Robert DeNiro was hired as a puppeteer for the first season of The Muppet Show, but then he was fired for some reason.

6. A skittish viewer in 1950s Washington, D.C. once called the police to report witnessing a live murder on television, which turned out to be nothing more than Wilkins shooting Wontkins in one of Jim Henson’s early coffee commercials.  When the police arrived at the TV station, they immediately realized the truth, and they and Jim Henson had a good laugh about it, until one of the officers fingerprinted Wilkins as a joke, and got ink all over the puppet, and then Jim got mad.

Big Bird nest
7. On the first season of Sesame Street, Big Bird always wore a monocle.  At the end of the season, Caroll Spinney pointed out to Jon Stone that birds don’t normally wear monocles, so it was dropped for season two.

Fozzie red background
8. The fanfare that plays when Fozzie takes the stage on The Muppet Show (“ya-da da da da-da daaaaa!”) was written by legendary composer Leonard Bernstein.


Tickle Me Elmo

9. There were so many Tickle Me Elmo dolls sold in 1996 that if you tried to eat them all, it would take you 87 days.  And that’s without sleeping or bathing!

10. Angelo, the chef character from The Muppets Kitchen with Cat Cora, had his own breakfast cereal, called Angel-Os.  Each piece of cereal was shaped like one of Angelo’s eyebrows, and the back of the box had fun and exciting games and activities, including “Draw a Picture of Cat Cora.”

Piggy's Fantasy
11. When Miss Piggy dives off the top of the fountain into the pool during The Great Muppet Caper fantasy sequence, that’s totally Frank Oz in the costume.

12. The word “Muppet” is not a combination of the words “marionette” and “puppet.”  It’s actually a combination of “Mu,” the Chinese term for “not” or “without” and the word “pet.”  The word translates to “Don’t have a pet,” which is a nod to the fact that Jim Henson didn’t have any pets when he started his company.  He added an extra p because he thought that looked better.

Wembley Gobo
13. In the Italian version of Fraggle Rock, Gobo is called “Wembley,” while Wembley is called “Wembley” also.  It’s pretty confusing.

14. President Jimmy Carter’s favorite episode of The Muppet Show was the one with Shields & Yarnell.

15. One of the “Pigs in Space” sketches on The Muppet Show was actually taped in space, aboard a real space shuttle, but the Muppet people and NASA didn’t tell anyone about it until years later.  To this day, no one knows which sketch it is, although Muppet fans have some theories.

16. Before the Muppet builders realized that foam and fleece were ideal materials, many Muppets were made out of chocolate.  This posed a problem, as the puppets kept melting under the hot studio lights, and many puppeteers got severe tummyaches from eating their characters, which also ruined their appetites.

17. Since 2008, Lady Gaga has bought all of Miss Piggy’s old wigs for her own use.  As loofahs.

Fozzie Arsenio Hall
18. Fozzie Bear’s first appearance predates The Muppet Show.  In the late 1960s, he showed up briefly in a commercial for L’Eggs pantyhose, picking up a woman for a date.  That woman?  Sarah Jessica Parker’s mom.

Baby Scooter Muppet Babies
19. On Muppet Babies, the voice of Baby Scooter was provided by a robot dog.

20. Junior Gorg once performed the wedding of two crew members on the set of Fraggle Rock. Unfortunately, while Richard Hunt was an ordained Catholic priest, Rob Mills is not, so the marriage was not legally binding.

21. Mr. Snuffleupagus’s voice and demeanor, but not his appearance, are based on Larry Bird.

Well, weren’t those amazing?  Weren’t they stunning?  Weren’t they 100% made up?  Yes.  Yes, they were.

Click here to make stuff up on the Tough Pigs forum!

by Ryan Roe –