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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What To Do With Your Surplus Cookie Monster Budget

I imagine that you heard about the crowdfunding campaign a couple months ago for life-size Cookie Monster replicas: 

Theoretically, I would love a life-size Cookie Monster replica in my home. Of course I would: I’m human, I have a pulse, and I love Muppets. Nevertheless, the campaign made me very uncomfortable right from the start for a number of reasons: 

  1. I resented the implication that all Muppet fans have an extra $300 lying around to spend on a glorified plush toy when I am still struggling to pay the bills on a month-to-month basis. 
  2. I don’t understand the point of crowdfunding for a multibillion-dollar corporation like Hasbro. Seems to me that they’re trying to take advantage of a current fad for the purposes of manipulating potential customers. They kept saying things like, “We can’t manufacture these things without your help!” That is nonsense; Hasbro is a conglomerate that buys up other companies like Milton Bradley, Parker Brothers, and Kenner. It brings in more than $5 billion in revenue. If they really wanted to manufacture life-sized Cookie Monster replicas, they could do so. They just didn’t want to until they were sure that people would buy them. 
  3. Eventually, I did the math and figured out that, in attempting to convince at least 3,000 people to contribute approximately $300, their funding goal was nearly $900,000. 

Almost a million dollars for a glorified plush toy that most people would probably have fun posing for about five minutes, then place in a corner to collect dust. And yes, Sesame Workshop would see a portion of that (I was unable to determine a specific percentage despite my research efforts), but wouldn’t it be so much better for Sesame Workshop to receive the full $900,000 in direct donations?

At a time when refugee children are dying in what are essentially concentration camps on American soil, when hurricanes are battering our coastlines and tornadoes are ripping through our communities (MY community in particular), when ICE raids are tearing families apart, spending $300 on a plush toy, even one as awesome as a life-sized Cookie Monster, not only seems frivolous, it seems downright irresponsible. 

For better or worse, however, the campaign failed to receive the necessary number of backers, which is sad in that it means that Sesame Workshop won’t get its cut.

Presumably, however, it also means that everyone who pledged now has an extra $300 burning a hole in their pockets. May I suggest some worthy causes to which you can now put that money and do some good in the world?

There are many more worthy causes out there, and I’m sure they would be happy to receive your donation of $300, or more (or less, if needs be), regardless of whether or not you pledged to the Hasbro campaign. 

And I’m sure the Monster himself would agree, that’s something to give up Cookie for

Your Input on the Next Article Series

As you know, my year-long 60 for 60 article series is coming to a close next week. I’ve really enjoyed putting it together, and during the process, I’ve discovered that an article series published in monthly increments is a schedule that works well for me. I have several ideas for article series that I would like to do, and now I’m trying to decide which I should do first. 

I’d like to get your input, so here is a Twitter poll, and blog comments are more than welcome as well:

My preference would be to start with the Muppet movies because (a) it’s the 40th anniversary of the original movie and (b) I enjoy the movies infinitely more than the 2015 series.

But then I thought about it, and it occurred to me that if/when Muppets 2015 goes up on Disney+, the powers that be may take it down from the ABC site. I wouldn’t pay money for a Disney+ subscription even if I could, so there may be a window of opportunity to review the 2015 series again that could soon be closing. So I feel sort of obligated to do the 2015 series first even though I really don’t want to. 

I won’t promise to abide by the prevailing opinion, but I would like to know what you think nevertheless. Please share. 

In Case Anyone Saw the News and Was Worried:

I should also mention that that’s not a photo I took; it’s a screengrab from the Keloland website. Also, my milkweed plants will come back next year, so no lasting damage to my property that I am aware of. At first it looked like my milkweed plants were just broken, but now it looks like at least some of them have been pulled up by the roots, so I don’t know if they will survive to come back next year. I guess that’s all the more reason to keep trying to plant more. 

Semi-miked StocktonCon Q&A Panel

The interesting thing about searching for comic con panel discussions is that you don’t always find exactly what you asked for, but sometimes you find things that you would never have thought to look for specifically. 

I checked YouTube today to see if there were any panels from DragonCon available yet. It may be too early for that since it was just this weekend. I didn’t find any new DragonCon content, but I did find a panel from StocktonCon Steve did…*checks*…a month ago already! Wow…

Word of warning before I post it: Like at OCon, Steve and the moderator were miked, but the audience questions weren’t. Why? I have no idea. It seems like a no-brainer to me, but what do I know?

One thing I want to specifically point out about this panel is that Steve talks in glowing terms about Kermit’s interview with Ellen Degeneres. That is also a favorite appearance of mine, and it was surprising to me at the time that Ellen and Kermit had never met before. That, too, seemed like a no-brainer. I really wanted to work that interview into 60 for 60, but the only place I could have worked it in was during the Kermit month, and I opted for the backstage interview instead. If I have a regret about how it turned out, that may be it. 

In the meantime, I’m waiting quite impatiently to see if OCon is going to post video of Steve’s Q&A panel. I asked them via Twitter if we could expect it, but I haven’t received a response. Neither my notes nor my memory are really adequate to talk about it, but if I had the video with the notes to supplement it, I think I could recreate it for you with a reasonable degree of accuracy. 

Soooooooo…What did everybody think of the shoooooooow?

Oh my gosh, you guys, that was so great! I laughed SO HARD the whole time!

I have to get a microphone, though, because I’ve got lots of miserable stuff I can talk about. And I have a background in theatre and improv, so I could kind of play along. It was so frustrating watching Weldon begging for callers with problems and not being able to participate. 

So, what about you guys? Did you watch? Did you laugh? Did you have sound problems? (I had to break out the headphones during the Dark Crystal parody as it suddenly went quiet. Was it just me?)

I’m all wound up now. Let’s keep it going! 

Steve’s Website Goes Live and Weldon’s Show Has a Title

At long last, here is Weldon in all his repulsive glory: 

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Download the DISCORD app now to call in tomorrow night!

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It’s nice to finally see Weldon, and I like his looks a lot, especially his hands and his weird little pointy teeth. 

I know that “doesn’t give a rat’s ass” is a common expression, but it also made me think of Rizzo. Poor, voiceless Rizzo.

I plan to watch the show, but I don’t anticipate that I’m going to be able to participate, at least not yet. Need to track down a microphone first. 

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Something Seems To Be Happening on Saturday

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HU ‘boy…he’s back…

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And thank goodness, because all the people taking Weldon’s posts too seriously was getting reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally uncomfortable. 

But we can tell that Weldon is meant to be a not-nice character because he doesn’t tell us whether this is happening at 8:31 AM or PM! That nonspecific fiend!

(My guess would be PM.)

I assume that it’s happening on Steve’s new website, which kind of doesn’t exist yet, but here it is anyway: stevewhitmire.website

If/when I find out more, you’ll find out more!

Sixty for 60: Live Appearances by Muppets

Welcome to the final regular installment of 60 for 60, a year-long celebration of the work of Steve Whitmire in anticipation of his 60th birthday next month. This month’s theme is live appearances by Muppet characters.

Kermit TED talk

“The trick to the show [Muppets 2015], if it works, is to make it feel for the first time that you’re seeing the Muppets in our world.” –Bill Prady, SDCC Panel 2015

Of the many strange and perplexing things that happened in conjunction with the Muppets’ 2015 series, one that I found to be among the strangest and most perplexing was this bizarre statement by Bill Prady, that it would be the first time that the Muppets were in our world. How are they not in our world? Not only have six of their eight movies been set in our world, but the Muppets make live appearances in our world all the time. And when they do, it results in some of the best and most entertaining material because they’re usually a little freer to do some ad libbing and to be themselves, insofar as the Muppets have selves, which is a deep philosophical dive that I don’t think I’m ready to take at the moment and would probably require a whole other entry even if I were.

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Michigan Publication Interviews Steve, Fixates on Voices

This last weekend Steve was at Michigan Comic Con in Detroit, where he was gracious enough to give an interview for a publication based there, taking great care to emphasize the puppetry aspect of his work and that he’s not a voice person. 

So of course, the entire written interview is all about voices, with the puppetry mentioned only as an afterthought. 

Therefore, I recommend the accompanying YouTube video of the interview over the written version. Even though it looks like it’s been edited down somewhat, at least Steve gets to express himself in his own words: 

This video is actually really exciting, though, because Steve explains a bit more about his live-stream concept with Weldon. This is information that Steve actually told me when I met him in Omaha, but I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to talk about it, so I erred on the side of caution in not mentioning it. But now he’s expressed it publicly, so I guess it’s okay for me to talk about it. 

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Sesame Saturday: A Panel Discussion With Sesame Street’s Gordon and Alan

Yesterday I mentioned the existence of full panels from last year’s OCon on YouTube, but what I failed to mention was that one of them featured Sesame Street actors Roscoe Orman (aka Gordon) and Alan Muraoka. I thought about it today and realized that might be of interest, so here it is:

Also, it appears from this that OCon just doesn’t provide microphones for audience questions at all, which seems to be very unusual. Nevertheless, given how hard it is to hear the audience questions on the video, it makes me very glad that I have notes of Steve’s Q&A, although it remains to be seen how helpful they will be. 

Brief Footage of Steve Whitmire’s OCon Q&A

If the pattern holds true, it looks like the full video of Steve’s OCon Q&A may be going up within a few weeks. I don’t know for sure that that is the case, but they have full panels from last year that went up in early September, so that’s reason to hope. 

Because my memories of the Q&A are so sketchy, even with my notes, I’m going to hold off publishing my impressions of it for now. 

To tide us all over in the meantime, I found this highlight reel of the days’ events. A few moments of Steve’s Q&A, sans audio, are shown at about 43 seconds in: 

I looked to see if I could see myself in the background of any of these clips, but I didn’t, not at the Q&A or in any of the other footage.

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