Monday, April 30, 2018

Pheaturing Frank Oz

Hey, kids, good afternoon, welcome to the Phile for a Monday. How are you? So, do you know who Dr. Ronny Jackson is? Dr. Ronny became famous when he announced on national TV that President Trump's brain does indeed work. Back in January, he said that there is "no reason whatsoever to think that the president has any issues whatsoever with his thought process." He also gushed over Trump's superior genes, and threatened that he might live to be 200 years old. Likely because of that gushing performance, Trump hastily nominated Dr. Jackson to run the Department of Veterans Affairs, without being fully vetted or experience running a big-ass federal bureaucracy. Jackson withdrew his own nomination when a report alleged that he gave out painkillers like candy and once drunkenly crashed a government car. People allegedly called him "candy man," and not because he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good. According to Politico, Jackson won't have his new job, and he also won't have his old job as well and is officially out as White House doctor. Hopefully Trump and Jackson can patch things up by the time Trump turns 200.
Nazi Richard Spencer, who preaches such Nazi ideals as the virtues of a white ethno-state, is facing a federal lawsuit for his role in last year's deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. Spencer, of being punched in the face fame, is begging for $25,000 to help him mount his legal defense, and had a real hard time finding a lawyer who wants to defend white supremacy. "Hi, everyone, this is Richard Spencer. I am under attack and I need your help. Some of the biggest and baddest law firms in the United States are suing me, along with some other prominent figures, in civil court," he said in a video called... wait for it... "I Need Your Help." Nazi Richard Spencer has been banned from Facebook and twenty-six European countries for spreading hate, which no longer pays the bills. It ain't easy being a Nazi.
Holy moly, this is completely brutal. A clip tweeted by writer and comedian Chelsea Lockwood features footage of a guy getting so very severely rejected by a woman he clearly likes just as they're introduced on the game show, "Let's Make a Deal." Yes, in front of a whole huge audience watching, plus everyone at home. Host Wayne Brady asked the pair, Mike and Jessie, how long they'd been together. It was an assumption on his part, but then again, this was the prom episode so not really an unreasonable one. But while Mike answered, "about six months," Jessie clearly didn't agree. She broke out in laughter and said, “We’re friends, but he wants it…” At this point Steve broke in to ask, "Can we talk about this… not in front of everyone." And like in the episode of the ill-fated romance between Lisa and Ralph Wiggum on "The Simpsons," if you slow it down and watch closely enough, you can actually see Mike's heart breaking. But as if that wasn't bad enough, Jessie added, “I’m single. I’m single, guys. I’m single," turning the game show into her irl Tinder profile. As hard as it is to watch, the pair (but not couple! Don't make that mistake!) went on to win a trip to Mexico. That should be a fun and not at all complicated event in their relationship... I mean friendship.
In case you missed it, this week has been a wild Twitter ride for Kanye West. A few days ago Kanye expressed his love for Trump, only to later admit he didn't Google "Conservative" before claiming it as a label. The rollercoaster eventually led to Kanye's BFF John Legend texting him trying to talk him off the Trumpian ledge (spoiler: it didn't work). Luckily though, we haven't completely lost Kanye to the abyss. Despite his recently professed love of Trump, he still has good taste when it comes to his other heroes. In a recent tweet, Kanye professed admiration for the Parkland shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez, dubbing her his hero. A few hours later, she named her personal hero.

For those unfamiliar, James Shaw Jr. is the man who disarmed the Waffle House shooter, last week. Since surviving the shooting, he has raised over $200,000 for victims of the shooting. While hero worship can be a dangerous habit in most cases, both Shaw Jr. and Gonzalez are certainly worthy of props and admiration for the ways they're seeking out justice for other survivors of gun violence.
If you’re one of those people who loses your mind when your order comes out wrong in a restaurant, you’re probably not going to want to drop by The Restaurant of Order Mistakes in Tokyo’s Toyosu district. There, you can’t even get mad at the waiters and waitresses... because they all have dementia.  According to the writeup by Yahoo News Japan, the owners of the popup restaurant hope that being waited on by people with the illness will help change perceptions... and that a little understanding goes a long way. Of course, you have to go into this particular restaurant with the right attitude, and like food blogger Mizuho Kudo, you might also end up with an unexpected... though still delicious... dinner. She ordered a hamburger but happily tucked into the gyoza dumplings she received instead. The owners are planning another popup for September to acknowledge World Alzheimer’s Day.
I was thinking... instead of doing this blog thing maybe I should be relaxing and listening to this record...

No, never mind. I think its a story for kids. Okay, so, If I had a TARDIS I go back to see Jim Henson and today's guest, Frank Oz, film an episode of "Sesame Street."

Here's another sign from March for Our Lives weeks ago.

So, these three idiots Snapchatted this...

I think it is the real guys. Hahaha. That's so stupid. That's as stupid as...

Man, so, if you think Infinity War was a big cross-over film you ain't seen anything until you see this...

Hahaha. Parents, if your kid did this at work what would you think?

Kid loves Chuck. Sometimes people have to explain really stupid things to adults. Like this...

Hahahahahaha. Hey, this just in, there's a new Trump TV show in the works..,

Here's another creative way a Parkland student is trolling their new "safety" backpacks...

Forget about the price tag. Y'know, I've always been told I can see some odd sights at Walmart, but I never believed it... then I saw this...

Oh. Boy. Speaking of seeing things, when I saw this pic it reminded me of something...

Then it hit me...

See? Haha. Okay, so, I said this before the best thing, or one of the best things about the Internet is you can look at porn free and easily. What is bad is someone might go look at porn and not read a certain blog, like this one. So, I thought if I showed a porn pic here people might stay and keep reading. Then I thought what if you got in trouble at work, school, home or anywhere else. So, I came up with a solution.

You are welcome. Okay, before I continue I have to plug something that I was a part of... 
There's a new book called "Work of Hearts Magazine- Season." It's available now for purchase at as a book or PDF option. In the book I interviewed Stephanie Bowman from One Heart for Women and Children. Chapter 50 is my article.

Ordering the book in April or May through will help raise money for One Heart. So do it!

Alright, so, there's soooo many different blogs on the Internet. Not all have 1,100 entries... 1,101 if you count this one and not all have an interview with the great Frank Oz, but there's some good ones. So, once again I will show you another blog in a pheature called...

Today's blog is... This is what it looks like...

August 5th, 2013 was the last time it was updated? Man, oh, man. Anyway, visit that blog, comment that I sent you and see what happens. But as always, finish this entry of the Phile first. 

If you spot the Mindphuck let me know, kids. Okay, one again here is...

The Crab 
I would also like to refer this to the Lazy Dog because it really just is the laziest version of doggy style ever and since we all know we love our doggy style, this is one is perfect for the lazy in all of us.

Okay, let's see how smart you kids really are. You can't be too smart, you're wasting time reading the Phile. Ha! Kidding! Okay, here's the riddle. Are you ready? Mario is on a business trip in an exotic country. At the hotel, he asks the receptionist to send a telegram that should arrive exactly on February 23rd. But the receptionist tells him that he can only use these words to write: fiasco, nephew, carrot, rabbit, sonata, spring, tailor, bureau, corona, legacy, soften, travel, object, happen, bikini. Then Mario sends the following telegram: Carrot Fiasco Nephew Spring Rabbit Sonata Tailor Bureau Legacy Corona Travel Bikini Object Happen Soften. What does the message say? Hint: The message is for Mario's son. 

We can't all be winners all the time. The road to self-actualization is filled with embarrassment and shade, and sometimes we have to bask in our own failure. Since the Internet can sometimes feel like a parade of other people's achievements, some people have a more embarrassing week than the rest of us. It's important to remember that we're all just little bumbling flesh bags struggling to get there (whatever that means).

Hahaha. Okay, so, did you guys saw Avengers: Infinity War? I did and thought it was pretty good. I wondered what a friend of the Phile thought about it so I invited him here to give us his review. He's a singer, patriot and renaissance man. You know what time it is.

Good afternoon, humans. Laird’s movie review: Avengers: Infinity War... I’ll keep it simple and a tad vague (so there are no spoilers) for those who have yet to see it. Plenty of holy shit moments... Peter Dinklage as a giant fucking midget... Oh no, not Idris! Who did Doctor Strange blow to get in this film? The Hulk (what the fuck?!?)... Spent the whole movie thinking Ron Perlman voiced Thanos... Hey look, there’s Stan Lee... Scrotum chin... There goes that Starbucks in Wakanda... The fuck is with that ending?... Star-Lord is a DICK... I waited 'til the end of the credits for THAT? No WAY that’s how it plays out... I hope the next one picks up exactly where this one left off... Two hours and forty three minutes of WOW... then it slams into the brick wall of no fuckin’ way! Eight out of a possible ten. 

Over the past three decades, President Trump has been embroiled in 4,095 lawsuits, and as of today, make that 4,096. Stormy Daniels is joining Trump accuser Summer Zervos in filing a defamation suit against the president, citing his tweets. Specifically, this tweet...

As a result of Trump's tweeting out Stormy slams to the entire world from his presidential pedestal, she has "been exposed to death threats and other threats of physical violence, causing her both emotional and economic damages." According to the lawsuit, Stormy has suffered damages that have exceeded $75,000. Buckle up!

Okay, this is the last day I'm campaigning. I still want Shania on the Phile, but I'm not gonna post this campaign pic any more. So, you kids wanna play a game? A lot of you like this game called...

Which is it? Amy or a potato? I doubt Amy will ever be on the Phile. Now for some cameo appearances...

Phact 1. Wolverine was supposed to have a cameo in Spider-Man (2002). Hugh Jackman even flew to New York, but the scene had to be scrapped because his costume was nowhere to be found. 

Phact 2. George Lucas allowed the band members of ‘N SYNC to make a cameo appearance in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones in order to appease his daughters. The footage was then cut out of the final version of the film. 

Phact 3. Vin Diesel made a cameo appearance in Fast and Furious F: Tokyo Drift in exchange for the rights to the “Riddick” franchise. 

Phact 4. There’s a Cartoon Network special crossover episode called "The Grim Adventures of the Kids Next Door," that also features Ed Edd n’ Eddy, with cameos from the Powerpuff Girls and Dexter’s Lab among other shows. 

Phact 5. Samuel L. Jackson wanted a cameo appearance on "Breaking Bad" in which he would walk on to the set of Los Pollos Hermanos, dressed as Nick Fury, completely unannounced as if he were a customer buying chicken from the restaurant. 

This is so freaking cool... today's pheatured guest is a puppeteer, filmmaker and actor. His career began as a puppeteer, where he performed the Muppet characters of Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, and Sam Eagle in "The Muppet Show," and Cookie Monster, Bert, and Grover in "Sesame Street." He has a new documentary out called Muppet Guys Talking: Secrets Behind the Show. Please welcome to the Phile the one and only... Frank Oz! 

Me: Hello, sir, welcome to the Phile. This is such a HUGE honor to have you here. How are you? 

Frank: Thank you. I'm good, Jason. And you? 

Me: Alive. Haha. Okay, I love the idea of the new documentary Muppet Guys Talking: Secrets Behind the Show. We'll talk about that in a minute. You don't do any Muppet stuff anymore, right? Why is that? 

Frank: Well, it's not because I don't want to. No, I'm not working those characters only because I became a director. Even though I'd love to go and do a weekly show of the Muppets I'm not being asked by Disney or "Sesame Street." 

Me: They don't ask you? Why don't they ask you, sir? 

Frank: No, they don't ask me anymore, I think it's because I'm probably a little bit more expensive. I understand that. 

Me: Does it bother you are not playing these characters anymore? 

Frank: It's hurtful that I'm not doing my characters, and I really want to do them again, but it's of my own doing, I have four kids and we'll go away on a movie and I really didn't think it was fair to say, "You can't use my characters when I'm gone for a year." It's not right. I just didn't feel right about that. I relinquished them and I'm in conflict. On the one hand, it hurts me because I love my characters. On the other hand, I'm grateful because they're being used and I wouldn't have the time to do them all anyway. So I live in that conflict. 

Me: One of my favorite bands is Barenaked Ladies and when Steven Page left that band and the others continued performing his songs he said, "It's like watching your ex-girlfriend out on a date." Is that how it feels for you? 

Frank: Well, it feels deeper than that. Each character is created by the writers and guidance from Jim and the director, whoever we work with, but ultimately the person who does the character has the soul of that character. So, I really feel like someone is playing with my soul. It's hard but I'm also grateful at the same time. 

Me: In the documentary film you say that when you go and play a character there's something called "the lock." What is that? 

Frank: Well, there's a key for the lock. Just at that time when I was trying to create the character I couldn't get into it immediately like now because now it's in my heart. I have to create something to get me into it a little. With Bert I usually had to shout for Ernie and that got me into Bert. With Grover I just cleared my throat, that's all I did to get into it. All of those things are the locks, but when I know them so much I'm just into it, I'm just there. 

Me: I want to talk about some other characters. I love the story on what happened when Miss Piggy first gave Kermit the karate chop. Can you tell that story? 

Frank: What happened in rehearsal was there was a script in which Piggy was supposed to slap Kermit, and this is very early on, probably in the third or fourth show. For some reason I karate chopped him. It just happened. What that did to me it crystallized who she was. She's kind of a truck driver underneath, she's a pig, but she's trying to be what people perceive as a lady, or what society will allow her to be which is a lady. But on the other hand if you push her to far she's going to break your knees. It's that duality of what women used to be, and still to a degree only allowed to be a certain way. Piggy doesn't care. 

Me: To me she isn't written as a funny character but she is. Am i right? 

Frank: She knows she's a pig in this society, she knows that she's not that attractive. She knows the one magnificent obsession, which is Kermit, rejects her. She knows all that and it causes her pain. But in order to keep pushing forward she pushes all that pain down and just, with great bravado, continues life. And that's where the funny is, when she covers the pain. 

Me: I have to talk about Animal... which is one of my favorite characters... well, I love the whole Electric Mayhem band. Floyd is my real favorite because I played him in a play version of The Muppet Movie in school. Anyway, how does it feel when you're playing Animal? You must have a lot of energy, right? And do a lot of yelling. 

Frank: Oh, it's great because Animal is crazed. He's not controllable. That's a wonderful opportunity for me having no boundaries. I could do whatever the hell I want and he totally crazed. Who is allowed to do that in our world? So for me it's a great joy to do him. 

Me: You mentioned Bert, so I will. Haha. Jim Henson played Ernie so was Bert and Ernie's relationship the same as yours and Jim's? 

Frank: Bert and Ernie were created when I was still trying to have a formed personality. I, like anybody, who was younger, in my 20s, I was still trying to form a personality, questioning life and all that stuff. So I was bit neurotic at that time, and a bit rigid, and Jim was the reverse. Jim was, if you used the analogy of a river, Jim always flowed down the river, just went with it, and me... I always fought up the river. And that's kind of how Bert and Ernie are. Bert is rigid and uptight, he just wants to be left alone, and Ernie just has so much fun in life and accepts it. Bert is just trying to figure it out.  

Me: I grew up with the Muppets like almost everyone, sir. I have to tell you this story, which I told before on the Phile I think. When you guys were filming "Muppets Go to Walt Disney World" I was working in custodial at Epcot, and I was walking by the old Wonders of Life pavilion and you guys were filming a scene with Gonzo atop the hill. Jim came down the hill, walked over to me and asked me if they can use the trash can and if I can put it on top of the hill. I said, sure, and took out the liner, then dragged the heavy can atop the hill. The scene with Gonzo and Camilla was filmed and about three or four takes were shot, and then Jim said to me, "You can put it back now." I couldn't believe Jim spoke to me. He seemed very serious, but I know he wasn't that serious in real life. What is something you can tell us about Jim that not many people know? What was it like working with him?  

Frank: That's a great story, Jason, I remember you. Haha. Jim wanted us to work all night long until something was finished or the way he wanted it to be finished. If we prepped for a show and we had to work longer than we think, if we had to work til four in the morning so be it. We did what was necessary and we had fun working that hard. 

Me: Was it ever really hard work? 

Frank: Yeah, we worked like dogs, but we didn't have to be "andy pandy elfs," annoying to each other. We were with each all the time. People often think the beauty or the sweetness. 

Me: Did you guys think the Muppets were cute, sir? 

Frank: As a matter of fact Jim hated us being called cute. He couldn't stand thinking the Muppets were cute. That labels them as only one thing which is very, very limited. Cuteness doesn't affect one emotionally and it doesn't affect one philosophically. So, being cute is very limited. He created Bean Bunny so everyone would think HE'S cute so the owness of cute would be off us. 

Me: A lot of times you were cramped in small places, or in a tank underwater, or in really uncomfortable positions. Do you think people don't understand that side of the work? 

Frank: They don't have to. They don't understand how hard you work, they think you just get on the computer and type, they don't know what's behind it. They don't know how much a plumber works, we all work very hard if we are doing the right thing. In order for people to accept it as organic, so I think it's not peculiar to the Muppets, it's everybody who cares about their work, who cares to do quality work, that's all. The people don't know it, they don't understand that whenever you see a Muppet there's ALWAYS a human being connected to it. 

Me: So, how do you feel about what Disney is doing with the Muppets? Personally I feel that they don't know how to market them. 

Frank: Well, I liken Disney to a Formula One race car driving fan. The fan knows this race car, he follows this race car and driver around the world. He knows everything about the engine, knows everything about the wheels and the pounds of air it has to be. Knows everything, so he thinks he can drive it. But when he get into the drivers seat it's totally different. As much as they love the Muppets I want to make the Muppets good, and they normally do, they don't get it. They don't understand the purity and the affection and what happens to us as human beings. They can't just write without understanding what happens to us as human beings underneath. So, they don't get it, even though they love to, they just don't get it. 

Me: There was a new Muppet show that got bad reviews, they rebooted it, and hit still didn't do good, so they canceled it. When projects like that don't do well do you worry it takes something away from what you guys achieved with the Muppets? I think of Jim was alive and you were working with them the show would still be on the air. 

Frank: Absolutely. That program sadly I watched 15 minutes of it and couldn't watch anymore. These are my brothers and sisters working there, I love them. It was the writers, and whoever was the show runner just didn't get it. They thought I think in order to be hip and adult they had to do double entendres and had to change the characters, but that's not where the characters live. They live in their own purity, they live in their own very believable world and that has nothing to do that's adult. Half of the two and half million people that saw this every week were adults. I think they're missing he boat, they don't understand that it comes from the performers underneath, comes from how we care about each other, how we egg each other on, it's not just layering on top of something. It comes from underneath. 

Me: They marketed the show for adults. You say in the documentary and you said in the past you guys never marketed the Muppets for just children. How did you guys market the Muppets back then? 

Frank: We never marketed for children or adults. We just did it for ourselves. The idea it's for adults now, what the hell does that mean? That's the trouble. They acquainted the Muppets with sexual references. I'm happy with sexual references, but not in that show. With betraying the characters purity. By the way, when I say this about Disney, I'm not knocking Disney, because they really LOVE the Muppets, they bought it, they really want to do the best for it, they really, really do. 

Me: Do you think Jim would of regretted selling the Muppets to Disney? 

Frank: Jim wanted Disney to have the Muppets, the only difference was when Jim sold the Muppets or tried to sell it the first time, people don't understand, he wasn't just selling the Muppets, what he wanted as part of the deal, he wanted to be the creator there at Disney and help them because they really weren't creators at that point and creators of very good things, or things that were of a certain quality. Jim always wanted to be a part of that. For the characters to live any place, he wanted it to be Disney. But the trouble is even though they love them they get into that Formula One car but they really don't know how to drive it. 

Me: I agree. Okay, before I let you go I have to talk about Star Wars. You returned to Yoda in The Last Jedi. What was it like being Yoda again, sir? 

Frank: It was challenge and joy. It was a challenge because Yoda is extremely difficult, it takes four people to make him come alive. It's deeply sensitive and delicate work. If I have a line of dialogue I have to work it out with my guys and it'll take about three days to work out that line of dialogue because of the motions of the character four of us have to do in a way that it looks like it's one. So that challenge is always there and it's exciting. The joy is I revisited the character I love and to work hard, I love working hard. 

Me: If you could never be Grover or Miss Piggy again how would you feel? 

Frank: Sadly that might be the case. Jason, I'm hurt by that thought. Again Disney owns them, I don't have the right to do them. That may very well may happen and it hurts. 

Me: Is it easy? I guess not. 

Frank: It's not. These characters, as funny as they are, they all come from a deeply serious place otherwise they wouldn't be funny and they wouldn't have depth. Each of us has a serious place for each of our characters and we give part of ourselves. Grover and Piggy and Fozzie and Animal and Cookie Monster and Ernie and all these characters I won't do again. Not that I don't want to but they belong to a company and that company feels it's better to do it the way they want. Again they truly believe they know what they're doing and they actually don't with the Muppets. It's kind of sad to me. There's so much they could do with them, the characters are so rare if they just stayed pure with them. It saddens me very much that I won't be doing those again. 

Me: Let's look on the bright side of things, where would you like to see them go? 

Frank: I'm too depressed now, I can't answer. Haha. Just kidding. With your question, that's the thing... I don't know. The joy would be discovering when I perform them. I didn't think ahead of time, we didn't think ahead of time. We don't intellectualize how the characters change or grow, we grow by the interchange and the improvisation between us for a long time. So if I knew it wouldn't be fun. The idea is to discover it in a love spontaneous situation, keep those things that seem to be good and throw away the others. 

Me: Man, I can ask you sooo many more questions. Thanks for being on the Phile. Please come back soon, sir. Mention where my readers can see the film and I hope this was fun for you. 

Frank: My pleasure, thank you.

Me: Not to be confused with Muppet Guy Stalking. Haha. Thanks, sir. All the best.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to my guests Laird Jim and of course Frank Oz. The Phile will be back in two weeks, on May 12th, with legendary songwriter Bernie Taupin. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. See ya in a few weeks. 

Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker

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