“Beyond the Pond” is an underrated episode of Fraggle Rock that had the misfortune to fall between two exceptionally memorable episodes: “River of Life” and “Gone, But Not Forgotten.” Having a similar theme to “River of Life,” but a considerably lighter touch, I think it tends to get lost in the shuffle.
On April 7, 1989, I suffered an abraded cornea.
(“Abraded” is a fancy medical term for “scratched” that I didn’t learn until much later.)
I was 8 years old and in second grade. It was a Friday, and unusually windy even by South Dakota standards. The wind was out of the east and blowing so hard that it was almost horizontal. After school, I had to walk directly into the wind to get to my carpool that would take me to my weekly Girl Scout meeting, and the wind blew some dirt or debris of some kind into my left eye.
All my life, people had told me not to rub my eyes, but no one had ever tried to explain why. And I didn’t know any other way to dislodge foreign objects from my eye, so I just kept rubbing it, and it just kept hurting, and so on in a vicious cycle.
So on the off-chance that there are any little kids reading this, let me pause for this public service announcement: Don’t rub your eyes, kids, because you could accidentally scratch your eyeball, and that really, really hurts.
It’s a dangerous world out there. Stay strong, and stay safe. In the words of Jim Henson, “Please watch out for one another.”
Governments beholden to corporations and lobbyists aren’t going to do it for us. We’re all we’ve got.
It may not be readily apparent, but as this Christmas-to-Epiphany season wears on, I can sort of feel myself becoming snarkier and more sarcastic.
But if there were ever a sure-fire cure for feeling grumpy and cynical, it would be Robin the Frog singing “It’s in Every One of Us”:
I think this was the second time in my young life that I got to see Fraggles on TV, but the first time that I got to do repeat viewings of Fraggles on TV until I was able to purchase the DVD set as an adult.
Though my mind be filled with questions, in my heart I understand…
“Patience, my brothers
And patience, my sons.
In that sweet and final hour,
Truth and justice will be done.”
As much as I love this episode of Fraggle Rock–and I do–I nevertheless have some questions about it:
Why did Gobo assume that the “Great Bell” was something that he’d be able to carry back home? Doesn’t “Great Bell” kind of imply something that’s large and heavy?
When Gobo and Wembley saw that the cave was bell-shaped on the map, why did it never occur to them that perhaps the cave is the Great Bell rather than simply containing the Great Bell? That’s immediately where my mind went.
Whatever happened to the Weebabeast, anyway? They introduce this whole implied mythos about the Weebabeast, and then we never hear about it again. I feel cheated.
Why does everyone think that Cantus is so cryptic? He makes perfect sense to me.
“Let us always love each other;
Lead us to the light.
Let us hear the voice of reason
Singing in the night,
Let us run from anger,
And catch us when we fall.
Teach us in our dreams, and please–yes, please–
Bless us, one and all.”
Friends, this evening I witnessed something truly inspiring, and I wanted to share it with you. A family of four came into the store where I work part-time and purchased nearly a thousand dollars’ worth of toys to donate to the less fortunate.
And if that isn’t a true blue miracle, I don’t know what one is.
“‘Manny’s Land of Carpets’–I love that show. It was really a show about television; a show about the kind of delusional system that’s projected by people’s belief in, you know, the world that seems to be inside that box in the corner of the room, and that’s the way I saw it in the beginning, anyway. And then it just got crazier and crazier as time went on, and it’s sort of one of those one-sentence ideas that you can crack it open and start to uncrack it a little bit, and it starts to really suggest there’s an entire universe in here–Manny’s Land of Carpets.”
–David Young, writer of “Manny’s Land of Carpets“
So, here is David Young, a writer working for a TV show, writing an episode of said show about how television is a “delusional system.” You’ve got to admire his audacity and the unapologetic relish with which he bites the hand that feeds him.
(This is the topic about which I was going to write last week but had to postpone when I was beset by a migraine. But maybe it’s just as well, because what I’m going to write now is different than what I would have written last week.)
Well, the best-laid plans of Fraggles and frogs often go awry, I suppose. I had a whole Fraggle Friday feature all planned out…and then I developed a migraine, with its attendant photosensitivity, which means I can’t turn on a light to see my notes, at least not without feeling as though a Doozer with an ice auger is standing on my head trying to bore its way into my skull.
So instead, let’s focus on the night when the lights went out in Fraggle Rock: episode 218, “The Day the Music Died,” aka The One With the Ditzies.
“Christine Nelson [daughter of Muppet performer Jerry Nelson] would die of complications from cystic fibrosis at age twenty-two. Jim attended the service, his presence quietly reassuring Nelson–but Jim’s actions always spoke louder than any words. Several years earlier, when Henson Associates’ insurance provider had notified Jim that it would no longer be paying all of Christine’s medical expenses, Jim had insisted that Henson Associates change insurance companies to ensure her costs would continue to be fully covered. Nelson had gone to Jim’s office and tearfully thanked him in person, nearly choking on emotion. ‘Jerry,’ said Jim, smiling, ‘that’s what insurance companies are for.'”
–Brian Jay Jones, Jim Henson: The Biography, pages 322-323
And now for something completely different.
Today I was in the early stages of thinking about a new “Salient Themes” post which, if it makes it to the publication stage, will involve Herry Monster, that gruff but lovable stalwart of ’80s Sesame Street.
That reminded me that I recently read that Funko had released a Herry Monster toy (it happened almost six months ago, but I only read it recently). Which is very cool even though, like most Funko Pop figures, it has black, soulless eyes that look ready to swallow you whole. But still, Herry needs more merchandising love, so let’s take what we can get.
I sneaked a quick peek at the responses on the forum, and they were talking about Herry’s pink-striped pants and whether we actually ever got to see them on the show itself. And that reminded me: not only does Herry not wear pants on the show (as far as I know), but sometimes Herry doesn’t even have legs.
Look at this sketch in which Herry is sitting and talking with Edith Ann (Lily Tomlin) in her gigantic chair:
You could assume that he is kneeling on the chair, with his legs tucked under him (that’s probably how I interpreted it when I was a kid), but in that case, wouldn’t he have …I don’t know…knees?
In this one, Herry plays a butterfly in the school pageant about the lepidopteran life-cycle, and at the end he is hoisted into the air on a fly system, and it is readily apparent that he does not have any legs:
Didn’t they know ahead of time that Herry was going to be flying? Why didn’t anyone think to build him any legs? This is what happens when you let someone other than Prairie Dawn run the school pageant.
So I started getting quasi-philosophical about all this, and I thought, “Well, Sesame has always been good about including people/characters with disabilities; maybe from that we’re just supposed to assume that Herry just doesn’t have any legs, and they never bring it up because it’s not a big deal.”
But then I remembered the Monsterpiece Theatre sketch “Chariots of Fur,” in which Herry and Grover run down the beach together to awesomely inspirational music. Running typically requires legs, and in this instance Herry does have them, and we get several close-ups of them:
So has Herry been to a prosthetist since the butterfly pageant? Or maybe Herry doesn’t have legs, but the character he’s playing in “Chariots of Fur” does have legs, and Herry is just that good an actor!
I just blew your minds, didn’t I? 😉