Minneapolis Dispatch

I’m sorry that I haven’t finished my account of GalaxyCon Minneapolis. Things are crazy, particularly with the Thanksgiving holiday. But to tide you over, I found this brief interview that happened there. I think this occurred on Saturday, the day before I attended. 

The Kermit that’s there on the table is a photo puppet that they used for photo ops and also to draw attention to the table. When I was there, someone asked Steve if it was the “real” Kermit, and he said no, it was a photo puppet that was a lot smaller. 

I didn’t notice the photo puppet’s arms shaking so much while I was there, but boy, they sure do shake a lot on this video. By the way, the display rack (or whatever you would call it) holds the puppet up but doesn’t secure it in place, so it tended to fall over whenever anybody tried to move it. 

It’s always fun to look at something like this and say, “Hey, I was there!” even though in this case I wasn’t there on the actual day. 

Adventures at GalaxyCon Minneapolis, Part 1

This is Steve’s Q&A from GalaxyCon Minneapolis, but I wasn’t there that day so I only saw it for the first time yesterday.

On November 10th, I attended GalaxyCon Minneapolis and met up with Steve again. The only reason I was able to do that is because of my brother Michael. He lives in Minneapolis and allowed me to stay with him while I was in town. If I had had to pay the price of admission plus accommodations, I would never have been able to go. I also would have paid for parking because I wouldn’t have known there was another option.

When I initially planned to go to GalaxyCon, I thought that I would simply ask Michael if I could stay with him while I was in town. But then I thought about it, and I realized that although he’s not obsessive about Muppets the way I am, he still likes them. Not only that, but he’s an enormous Star Trek fan, and there were a bunch of Star Trek actors appearing. So I thought he might enjoy coming along, and that it might be more fun if he was there, so I invited him, and I was right on both counts. Not only that, but I don’t think I would have even made it into the exhibition hall to see Steve if Michael hadn’t been there to interpret the maps of the convention center for me and lead me in the right direction.

My point is that I have Michael to thank for the entire GalaxyCon experience, and if you enjoy what I have to say about it, then you owe him your gratitude as well. (If you don’t enjoy it, well, then leave him out of it because he had nothing to do with that.)

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Cave-In Tease

In case you missed it, last weekend I attended GalaxyCon Minneapolis and had another conversation with Steve. It was sort of a two-part conversation, actually, because I talked to him in the morning and then again in the afternoon. Thus, I thought I would write about it in two blog posts as well. 

I’m in the process of writing those now, and the first part, detailing our conversation of the morning, is nearing completion. However, the thought occurred to me that I might not be able to publish the second part, detailing our conversation of the afternoon, until after the next episode of Cave-In occurs. Since our conversation of the afternoon included intel on what is coming in future episodes, I thought I would provide a brief preview now.

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Sesame Street Memories

Today is the 50th anniversary of Sesame Street! HBO, where it airs primarily now (and has for several years), put together a video in which an interviewer asks the Sesame Street Muppets about their favorite memories. It’s quite cute and clever: 

Couple of things I noticed about it: 

  • Elmo does not appear in this video at all. And granted, I’m a grumpy Gen X-er who doesn’t have much use for Elmo in the first place, but I find that I didn’t miss him in the slightest or even notice his absence at first. 
  • There are only three characters in this video still performed by their original puppeteers: Abby, Rudy, and Rosita. That’s just an observation, not a value judgment of any kind. 
  • Whatever my mixed feelings may be about Peter Linz playing Ernie, I have to say that whoever’s writing Bert and Ernie’s banter nowadays is spot-on. Absolutely brilliant and perfect.
  • High definition hasn’t done Big Bird any favors in one important respect. The monofilament that connects his arms used to be all but invisible, but now it’s plain as day. It’s a shame, because it makes Big Bird seem slightly less magical as a result. 
  • However, I love that they revisited the idea of Big Bird being an artist. 
  • At first it seemed too easy to have Abby’s favorite Sesame Street memory be the day she moved there, but the payoff was worth it. 
  • Oscar’s interactions with Slimey have always been one of my favorite things about Sesame Street.
  • I don’t watch Sesame Street regularly, so I haven’t seen much with Rudy, but from what I have seen of him, I like him very much.
  • I love that some of the Muppets are wearing microphones during their interviews. That’s one of my favorite Muppet gags ever.

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“Stronger Thongs”

At first I wondered why Steve didn’t post his “Stranger Things” parody online before the episode in which it premiered. Apparently, it was so that Weldon could have a conversation with some of the young actors from the show itself in conjunction with the parody. 

I don’t watch the show because I don’t have Netflix, so I don’t know anything about the kids, but they seem perfectly pleasant, and it’s really cool to see Weldon sharing the screen with the people that he’s interacting with. 

Like I said, I don’t watch the show, so what I know about it, I’ve learned through cultural osmosis. But I think “Stronger Thongs” is really good wordplay. That could have been the whole parody for me, and I would have been satisfied. But then the Demi-gorgonzola shows up, which is not only good wordplay but a really cool-ass puppet to boot. 

Anyway, apparently today is “#StrangerThingsDay,” so I thought I would post this since I’ve been meaning to do so anyway. 

Oh, one thing I forgot to mention is that the text at the end doesn’t match what Weldon is actually saying, which is hilarious. That gives everyone an idea of what it’s like to edit speech recognition documents, so thanks for that, Weldon!

“Several Species of Small Furry Animals,” etc.

I left a question for Weldon on Discord about his favorite song, which included a veiled Sesame Street reference. I expected that he would respond with a veiled Sesame Street reference, and we would all chuckle knowingly.

As you probably already know, what actually happened was even more interesting. He recommended this song to me: 

It’s not my taste in music, but nevertheless, I’m so glad that this is a thing that exists, and I’m glad that I now know it exists.

As I was listening to it, I felt it was appropriate to the season. If I ever hosted a haunted house, I think I would just play this song on a continuous loop. 

So this is officially my new Halloween song. 

The “Pumpkin Spice” Episode of Cave-In Is Up

I was going to call it “my” episode of Cave-In, but when I think about it, I’m not sure I want to claim the whole thing. My bit starts at six minutes in.

So, some observations: 

  • Calling in and talking to Weldon was actually a lot more fun than watching/listening to myself talk to Weldon. 
  • After three days, I only remembered about 25% of what I said to him, if that. I guess I was just really in the moment. 
  • I’ve often heard puppeteers say that they feel less inhibited performing puppet characters, but I was surprised to find out that the opposite is also true. Obviously I’ve met Steve, but I don’t know him THAT well, and having admired him from a distance for so long, there are things that I would feel awkward talking to him about, yet I think I would feel more comfortable saying them to Weldon. 
  • Weldon speaks the truth about pumpkin spice. I’m glad someone finally decided to stand up and tell it like it is. 
  • You know, I knew I had a habit of nervous giggling, but boy, I sure do giggle a lot when I’m nervous.

I haven’t watched the whole thing again yet because I have other things to do, but it does appear to have been edited a little, which is good. Thank you, Weldon (and Steve)!

For the record, I want to say that I do like weddings. There is, however, a tiny portion of me that feels bitter and resentful about other people’s happiness, so I magnified that for comedic purposes.

Yeah, that was me!

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…and it had been so quiet…(SIGH)

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So, you may have heard as it was happening, but I finally got to talk to Weldon on Cave-In. And I even got to be the first caller. Woo, go me!

I was nervous beforehand, and then the delay in the live-stream threw me off a lot, so I kind of forgot everything I was going to say at first. Guacamole brain strikes again!

It was fun, but now it’s kind of a blur, so I’m looking forward to getting to watch it again. But I just thought that if you wanted to talk to me about it, I’d give you the opportunity.

October’s “Cave-In” Happening This Week

And it sounds like Weldon may be in costume for it. Fun!

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All trick and no treat…

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I’m really kind of desperate to talk to Weldon. The first time I couldn’t because I didn’t have a microphone for my computer. Then I bought a microphone but couldn’t figure out how to make it work in time. I thought it was a software issue, but it turned out to be a hardware issue. Once I figured it out, it was easy to correct, but unfortunately, that wasn’t until after the show was over. 

Hopefully this will be my month! I just have to remember the time difference: 10/25 at 9:25 for me. 

Delayed Gratification

Puppet Tears is a very cool podcast that interviews puppeteers from all walks of life, asking very in-depth and intelligent questions. Today they’ve released a nearly two-hour conversation with Steve:

From what they’ve released previously, it looks like they’re going to approach the “controversial” topics from a mature, objective, and responsible point of view, which I’m very pleased to see. It’s recently come to my attention that, unfortunately, there are still a lot of unfounded rumors and misinformation about Steve festering in the dark corners of the internet, so my hope is that this will be an opportunity to bring the truth to light and clear the air. 

Here’s the thing, though: I CAN’T WATCH IT NOW!!! 😦 I’ve got a ton of work that I need to get through before the end of the day today, and if I start watching it now, I know I’m not going to be able to stop.

So watch and enjoy, but please don’t spoil it for me, and maybe we can talk about it later. 

I’ve seen it now, and I’m interested to hear what you think. In general terms, I find it to be a breath of fresh air.

Cave-In 9/27

Is it redundant of me to keep posting whenever there’s going to be a new Cave-In? I feel like maybe all of you can just follow Steve on Instagram yourselves, and then you will find out at the same time I do. 

On the other hand, I feel obliged to do my part to get the word out, since the mainstream fan sites have not taken an interest. 

Anyway, I figure if I’m going to post about it, I’d better hurry up and do it. Sorry for the delay; I’ve been preoccupied with other things. Maybe you’ll get to hear about them if you tune in tomorrow. 

Reflexive Jim Henson

Today, of course, is not only Steve Whitmire’s birthday, it is also Jim Henson’s birthday. 

I was thinking about what I wanted to do to mark the occasion of what is apparently known on Twitter as “#JimHensonDay,” and I wasn’t sure what I could say that I haven’t already said. 

Then I started to think about all the ways that Jim Henson and his characters have burrowed their way deep into my subconscious, to the point where certain words or phrases will always evoke knee-jerk Muppet references from me.

It’s a topic that I’ve mentioned occasionally but never explored at length, so it seems as good a way as any to celebrate #JimHensonDay. 

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Sixty for 60: Culmination

60 for 60 collage

(Please enjoy this photo collage. I worked on it for the better part of an hour before trying to upload it, but my initial attempt was unsuccessful because the file size was too big. Apologies to those whose photos I’ve co-opted.)

Happy 60th birthday, Steve Whitmire! And welcome, everyone, to the final installment of 60 for 60. Every month for a year I’ve been celebrating Steve and this milestone by posting five examples of his work per month (mostly in the form of videos, but not exclusively) and making commentary about it. At this point, I’d like to take a look back of the year and choose the best from each month for a “Best of the Best” feature.

(As always, “best” in this case is subjective.)

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Joe the Legal Weasel

There’s a new Muppet in town. His name is Joe the Legal Weasel, he is performed by the fantastically talented Peter Linz, and he appears about 20 seconds into this video: 

I love the idea behind Joe the Legal Weasel. He seems to be a way of poking fun at the folks running Disney without them necessarily realizing that they’re being skewered from within, which is exactly what the Muppets should be doing. 

Nevertheless, this particular sketch leaves me cold. And I’m not entirely sure why. 

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