Friday, November 26, 2010

It's Time to Play the Music

On the last day of my first year of teaching another newbie and I decided to show Jaws to our students. I remembered the kick I got out of it at the age of thirteen, and I wanted to send my students off on summer vacation with the same thrill. Yeah... 20 years of water under the fishing boat had taken its toll on that particular movie, and even Bruce the mechanical shark couldn't rescue the experience-- it was yawnsville for the kids and a disappointment for us.

Even so, that impulse to share what we enjoyed as children with the children in our lives runs strong. Today it was the Grinch. When it came up in conversation that neither my nephew or niece had seen or read that classic tale, a quick trip to the bookstore was in order, and soon we were all settled around the TV watching that slimy green villain slither around Christmas trees like nobody's business. Unlike Jaws, Dr. Seuss was a hit. But it was the second purchase I made, simply on impulse, that was more telling.

The first season of The Muppet Show shone in the display as if there was a ray of light on it, and I could not resist. For many people of my age and perhaps a dozen years younger, the muppets were a weekly ritual of entertainment. Stetler and Waldorf, Pigs in Space, the Swedish Chef, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker, they are all woven into the fabric of our memories. But do they hold up? That was the question of the afternoon.

The answer? Sort of. Times have changed to the extent that the show doesn't really merit 30 minutes of anyone's undivided attention, but I think we have all enjoyed the muppet marathon as background today. The kids like the muppets and the adults like the nostalgia... Rita Moreno, Florence Henderson, Jim Nabors, Paul Williams? They were all staple guests of those classic variety shows of our youth, and to see them as they were 33 years ago has been like a time machine. Of course, the muppets haven't aged a day, either.

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