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Mahna Mah Wha?

Mahna Mah Wha? published on No Comments on Mahna Mah Wha?

Anyone that has ever watched the Muppet Show is familiar with that catchy little ditty with the refrain “Doo dooooooo doo-doo-doo.” I didn’t even have to play you the audio. You knew it.

I was watching the Muppets the other day for the sake of good ol’ nostalgia (which I used to feel more and miss so I guess these days you would call me nostalgic for nostalgia- nostalgicgic) and I was surprised both by the fact that Mahna Mahna was in the pilot episode and by some subtextual things I had not noticed before- possibly because they exist only in my imagination.

Take a moment below, if you will, to refresh yourself on this timeless classic. Even if you don’t read any of this, who doesn’t love the Muppets?

So… if you’ll allow me to flex my critical muscles a little, I’m about to pretentious out on y’all. Firstly, the skit opens with only the Snowths (that’s what they’re called- google, son!) and their peppy little chorus without a hipster artist in sight. This is what struck me as society, or the audience. They are synchronous, fun, repetitive, catchy, flashy, bright and superficial. They’re a jingle. Cue the introduction of the hipster. When he inserts his Mahna Mahna, it fits neatly in between the chorus. It challenges nothing. It disrupts nothing. It enhances only what is already there. But it is not long before the hipster grows bored with Mahna Mahna and starts to play with what he has already invented and that’s where trouble brews and society turns. He’s stepping on the doo dooooo doo-doo-doo.

The hipster retreats to the safety of mahna mahna and ONLY mahna mahna and tranquility returns. For the Snowths. Hipster is clearly bored and not allowed to deviate from form, he tries new angles and distances, to change up the approach. He does everything he can to make Mahna Mahna fresh again, all without the notice of the Snowths who doo dooooo doo-doo-doo oblivious to the throes of creation that surround them. Finally this boils over until the hipster can no longer contain himself. His scatting becomes louder, more aggressive, more insistent and the retribution is far more pointed. He retreats- beaten, pushed back to the simple mahna mahna which becomes increasingly distant until he is literally phoning it in before he disappears forever.

It’s a chilling indictment of the creative process and the relation of an artist to his audience. It’s an adorable skit about aliens and jazz. It’s a floor wax and a dessert topping. It’s Jim Henson and the Muppets at the pinnacle of their craft.

I wonder how much of what I see is intentional. I wonder how much I Rohrschach’d this through my own creative frustrations. I thought it was the inaugural episode of the Muppets, so how burned out could Jim have been? But it was a full twenty years or so that he had been doing puppetry professionally, starting with the low key black and white Sam and Friends in Baltimore and when I was looking for the clip for this blog entry I found this:

This was Sesame Street in 1969 and the things I thought I was imagining are far more explicit here. The cute but ultimately weird snowths were presaged by the traditional and adorable little girls that are looking for a *nice* song. The singer is no hipster but one of their full on hippie forefathers and far more menacing a figure to middle America. I thought no wonder so many government scrooges wanted to defund Sesame Street. It was out there (and Out There) giving people… ideas.

All I know is that when you feel the need for some joy in your life, you could do worse than to watch some classic era Muppets from the Golden Age of Henson. Here’s another favorite from me to you:

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The most insane things I have done because bugs.

The most insane things I have done because bugs. published on No Comments on The most insane things I have done because bugs.

Sorry for the absence, everyone. I had computer problems. Where did we leave off? Oh yeah… bugs are terrible.


This cartoon was inspired by real life events, a bit of an unusual move for me. If there’s a lesson to be learned here, it’s that it’s not just spiders that terrorize me. Once upon a time, which is fancy story telling terms for ‘about a week and a half ago’ I had an incident which started out with a clogged toilet, It was that toilet that prevented me from noticing the wasp on the faucet when I went to wash my hands. This left me with a dilemma- do I brave the wasp again to turn the faucet off or do I leave the water running forever? Gathering every single iota of bravery I had, I lunged at the faucet and promptly tore my fingernail down to the quick (boy am I glad I didn’t get stung!). Miraculously, the wasp didn’t move. Not wanting to press my luck, I backed slowly out of the bathroom, which seemed like a brilliant plan until I tripped over that shoe.

I honestly don’t know why bugs frighten me so. I have no enemy more determined to do me in than me. Over the course of the next week, that wasp moved around my sink just far enough to let me know he was still alive and could (I assume) kill me. Sure, you can lighten up on the liquids as much as you like, but eventually you’re going to have to go in there. I thought about hitting it with a magazine, but what if I only made it mad? It could be a mutant super wasp. I thought about catching it under a cup, but it kept hanging out on the edge where nothing could really cover it, so clearly it had the genius of at least Einstein, if not Stephen Hawking,

Finally, I broke out the vacuum cleaner. Thankfully I have a super light super tight Dyson (who did not pay me to characterize it this way, but I wouldn’t say no to a few bucks Dyson reps who may be reading this), which allowed me to get him from a verrrrry long ways away. But even though this vacuum is so mighty that I can tear the nap right out of my carpet if I’m not careful, I had to immediately run it to the closet because what if this adamantine warrior of the miniature set survived and was really really mad about the involuntary amusement park I just ran it through? Clearly the vacuum will need to be quarantined for oh… I think about two years. Just to be safe.

This is part of a larger pattern with me. A laughably irrational pattern. In the past I have:

*Thrown a laptop across the room because a spider crawled across the screen in the dark. My panic as it left my fingertips doubled when it hit the wall.

*Slept under a nest of blankets because I couldn’t force myself to turn off that lamp while that moth kept hogging that space around the switch.

*Gone to the movies just because, the because being that I would assume that spider was somewhere less visible by the time I got home from the theater.

*And of course there’s the ‘I don’t want to look like an idiot’ dance I do every year because I’m really trying to play it cool but I have yet to discover signature scent that bees don’t recognize as ‘pollen’.

Please tell me, oh loyal readers, that I’m not alone in this bugaphobia. Because my shrink and I have been at this make me less insane thing awhile now, and we haven’t even got to the bugs yet.

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Rethinking the Obvious (Or Uatu Barada Nikto!)

Rethinking the Obvious (Or Uatu Barada Nikto!) published on No Comments on Rethinking the Obvious (Or Uatu Barada Nikto!)

In the Marvel Universe there’s a character known as the Watcher. It’s his job to y’know… watch things. Think of him as a peeping Tom with the entire solar system as the bathroom (I know there are plenty of other ways in which you can envision reality as a toilet, but let’s not depress ourselves).

The Watcher is someone who is, above all else, supposed to watch and not get involved. See, he has this Prime Directive that he can’t interfere with developing cultures. Wait…. that’s Star Trek. I’m always confusing the Watcher with Jean-Luc Picard. But still… you get the gist.

Here’s the thing though, the Watcher is about as faithful to his guiding principle as a Star Fleet officer three days removed from his Kobayashi Maru (boy, these genre mash-ups are fun!), and that has a tendency to get him in a lot of trouble with his people. His problem, as I see it, was that he felt too clever by hiding in plain sight. The Watcher lives on the moon, which even mortal man can get to with rockets, to say nothing of reality bending smarty pants like Dr. Strange.

If the Watcher hid in the Sun instead, all his problems could have been averted. You look at people from the one place they literally can’t look at and you’re safe as long as men have retinas.

Behold

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