Archive for February, 2009

I Will Survive

Posted in Cool Internet Stuff, Fun Forwards on February 28th, 2009 and tagged , ,

Here’s a cute video that was a popular email forward in the infancy age of email forwards.  I saw this one years ago, and it popped into my head today for some reason, so here you go…  oh yeah, make sure you watch the whole thing!

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And Your Favorite Muppet Is?

Posted in Movies, TV Shows on February 27th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Recently I came across an interesting article about everyone’s favorite comedians, the Muppets!  I grew up watching the Muppets; whether it was on the various incarnations of their tv shows (The Muppet Show, Muppets Tonight, etc.), their feature films,  Sesame Street, or even in their hilarious Muppets 3D attraction at Disney’s Hollywood (formerly MGM) Studios in Florida.  Here are some fun facts about 20 of the Muppets that you might not know:

1. Cookie Monster: Jim Henson drew some monsters eating various snacks for a General Foods commercial in 1966. The commercial was never used, but Henson recycled one of the monsters (the “Wheel-Stealer”) for an IBM training video in 1967 and again for a Fritos commercial in 1969. By that time, he had started working on Sesame Street and decided this monster would have a home there.

2. Elmo: The way it’s described by a Sesame Street writer, apparently this extra red puppet was just lying around. People would try to do something with him, but nothing really panned out. In 1984, puppeteer Kevin Clash picked up the red puppet and started doing the voice and the personality and it clicked — thus, Elmo was born.

3. Telly Monster was originally the Television Monster when he debuted in 1979. He was obsessed with TV and his eyes would whirl around as if hypnotized whenever he was in front of a set. After a while, producers started worrying about his influence on youngsters, so they changed him to make him the chronic worrier he is now.

4. Count von Count made his first appearance in 1972 and was made out of an Anything Muppet pattern — a blank Muppet head that could have features added to it to make various characters. He used to be more sinister — he was able to hypnotize and stun people and he laughed in typical scary-villain-type fashion after completing a count of something and thunder and lightning would occur.  He was quickly made more appealing to little kids, though. He is apparently quite the ladies’ man — he has been linked to Countess von Backward, who loves to count backward; Countess Dahling von Dahling and Lady Two.

5. Kermit was “born” in 1955 and first showed up on “Sam and Friends,” a five-minute puppet show by Jim Henson. The first Kermit was made out of Henson’s mom’s coat and some ping pong balls. At the time, he was more lizard-like than frog-like. By the time he showed up on Sesame Street in 1969, though, he had made the transition to frog. There are rumors that he got the name Kermit from a childhood friend of Henson’s or a puppeteer from the early days of the Muppets, but Henson always refuted both of those rumors. Mental Floss: 15 reasons Mr. Rogers was the best neighbor ever

6. Real Swedish Chef Lars “Kuprik” Bäckman claims he was the inspiration for the Swedish Chef. He was on “Good Morning America,” he says, and caught Jim Henson’s eye. Henson supposedly bought the rights to the show’s recording and created the Swedish Chef (who DOES have a real name, but it’s not understandable). One of the Muppet writers, Jerry Juhl, says that in all of the years of working with Jim Henson on the Swedish Chef, he never heard that the character was based on a real person.

7. Animal: The Who’s Keith Moon may have inspired everyone’s favorite member of Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem. This is speculation, but people who support the theory will point out that Jim Henson named one of the Fraggle Rock characters “Wembley,” which is the town where Moon was born.

8. Miss Piggy is apparently from Iowa. She started as a minor character on “The Muppet Show,” but anyone who knows Miss Piggy can see that she wouldn’t settle for anything “minor.” Her first TV appearance was actually on an Herb Alpert special. It wasn’t until 1976, when “The Muppet Show” premiered, that she became the glamorous blonde with a penchant for frog that we know and love today. Frank Oz once said that Miss Piggy grew up in Iowa; her dad died when she was young and her mother was mean. She had to enter beauty contests to make money.

9. Rowlf the Dog, surprise, surprise, was first made in 1962 for a series of Purina Dog Chow commercials. He went on to claim fame as Jimmy Dean’s sidekick on The Jimmy Dean Show and was on every single episode from 1963 to 1966. Jimmy Dean said Rowlf got about 2,000 letters from fans every week. He was considered for Sesame Street but ended up becoming a regular on “The Muppet Show” in 1976. Mental Floss: Commercials from a late-80s airing of ‘A Muppet Family Christmas’

10. Oscar the Grouch is performed by the same guy who does Big Bird, Carroll Spinney. Spinney said he based Oscar’s cranky voice on a particular New York cab driver he once had the pleasure of riding with. He was originally an alarming shade of orange. In Pakistan, his name is Akhtar and he lives in an oil barrel. In Turkey, he is Kirpik and lives in a basket. And in Israel, it’s not Oscar at all — it’s his cousin, Moishe Oofnik, who lives in an old car.

11. Gonzo: What exactly is Gonzo? Nobody knows. Even Jim Henson had no particular species in mind. Over the course of “The Muppet Show,” “Muppet Babies” and various Muppet movies, Gonzo has been referred to as a “Whatever”, a “Weirdo” and an alien. Whatever he is, he first appeared on the scene in 1970’s The Great Santa Claus Switch. His name was Snarl the Cigar Box Frackle. In 1974, he showed up on a TV special for Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass. He became Gonzo the Great by the first season of The Muppet Show and developed his thing for Camilla the Chicken almost accidentally: During one episode where chickens were auditioning for the show, puppeteer Dave Goelz ad-libbed, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you… nice legs, though!” It was decided then and there that Gonzo would have a bizarre romantic interest in chickens.

12. You have to love Statler and Waldorf. I couldn’t find much on their particular inspiration, but I can tell you that they’ve been around since the 1975 “Muppet Show” pilot. They are named after popular New York City hotels (the Statler Hotel was renamed the Hotel Pennsylvania in 1992.) Guess what Waldorf’s wife name is? Yep… Astoria (she looks startlingly like Statler.) FYI, Waldorf is the one with the mustache and white hair. Statler has the grey hair. Apparently Waldorf has had a pacemaker for more than 30 years.

13. Beaker: I always thought of Beaker and his buddy Bunsen Honeydew as characters that came along later in the Muppet timeline, but they have been around since the “The Muppet Show.” Although Beaker usually says things along the lines of, “Mee-mee-mee-mee!”, he has had a few actual lines: “Sadly temporary,” “Bye-Bye” and “Make-up ready!” Despite being word-challenged, he manages to do a pretty convincing Little Richard impression and, surprisingly, had mad beatbox skills. Beaker is one of the only Muppets that was never recycled from some other purpose — he was created solely for “The Muppet Show.”

14. Fozzie Bear. Poor Fozzie. He’s the perpetual target of Statler and Waldorf because of his horrible jokes and puns. It actually created a bit of a problem during the first season of The Muppet Show, because when Fozzie got heckled, he got very upset and sometimes cried. Viewers didn’t feel sympathy; they felt embarrassed. The problem was solved by making Fozzie an optimist so that even when he got heckled he was good-natured about it. It’s often thought that he was named after Frank Oz, who was his puppeteer, but Frank said it’s just a variant of “fuzzy bear.” Yet another story says he was named for his builder, Faz Fazakas. Wocka wocka!!

15. Bert and Ernie are the Muppet version of Felix and Oscar (“The Odd Couple,” for you young’uns). Lots of people think Bert and Ernie were named for some minor characters in It’s A Wonderful Life, but according to the Henson company, that’s just a rumor. Jim Henson always maintained that it was just a coincidence — the names just went well together and seemed to fit the characters. Jerry Juhl, one of the head writers, corroborated this and said that Jim Henson had no memory for details like that and would have never remembered the name of the cop and the taxi cab driver in the old Jimmy Stewart movie.  Other rumors to clear up: Bert and Ernie aren’t gay and neither one of them are dead. Now that we’ve got that straightened out, here are a few more tidbits: the original Ernie used to have a gravelly voice similar to Rowlf the Dog’s. Frank Oz was Bert’s puppeteer and hated him at the beginning. He thought Bert was ridiculously boring, but then realized that he could have a lot of fun with being boring. Jim Henson once said, “I remember trying Bert and Frank tried Ernie for a while. I can’t imagine doing Bert now, because Bert has become so much of a part of Frank.”

16. Grover: Everyone’s favorite “cute, furry little monster” made his TV debut on the “Ed Sullivan Show” in 1967. At the time, he was known as “Gleep” and was a monster in Santa’s Workshop. He then appeared on the first season of Sesame Street, but sported green fur and a reddish-orange nose. He didn’t have a name then, but by the second season he transformed into the Grover we know today, more or less — electric blue fur and a pink nose. The original green Grover was reincarnated as Grover’s Mommy for a few episodes. In Latin America and Puerto Rico Grover is known as Archibaldo, in Spain he is Coco, in Portugal he is Gualter and in Norway he is Gunnar.

17. Sweetums is one of a handful of full-body Muppets. He showed up in 1971 on the TV special “The Frog Prince.” This is where he got his name — when Sir Robin the Brave is about to defeat the ogre, a witch shows up and changes him into a frog (who later becomes Robin, Kermit’s nephew). Apparently smitten with the ogre, the witch tells her darling “Sweetums” that he can have the frog for breakfast.  Bigger fame awaited Sweetums, though — in 1975, he appeared on Cher’s variety show to do a duet with her to “That Old Black Magic”. He officially joined “The Muppet Show” cast in 1976.

18. Rizzo the Rat might sound familiar to you, especially if you’ve seen “Midnight Cowboy” — he is named for Dustin Hoffman’s character, Ratso Rizzo. He was created after puppeteer Steve Whitmire was inspired by rat puppets made from bottles. He first showed up on “The Muppet Show” as one of a group of rats following Christopher Reeve around — he’s easy to spot because he hams it up more than any of the other rats. He occasionally performs with Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.

19. Pepe the King Prawn’s full name is Pepino Rodrigo Serrano Gonzales. I heart Pepe. He was a chef in Madrid before going Hollywood on “Muppets Tonight” in 1996. He was paired with Seymour the Elephant (Pepe was originally going to be a mouse) on the show, but Seymour never developed quite the same following and was only in two episodes. He rarely gets names right — some of his mispronunciations include “muffins” instead of Muppets, “Kermin” instead of Kermit and “Scooper” instead of Scooter. He’s quite full of himself — in addition to thinking that he’s quite the ladies’ man, he also fully expects to win several Oscars.

20. Herry Monster from Sesame Street was the Big Bad Wolf in his original incarnation, which you can kind of tell by looking at his fur. It’s pretty wolf-like (if wolves were blue, I mean). He became a Sesame monster in 1970 to replace the Beautiful Day Monster, who looked kind of like Sam the Eagle and existed to cause destruction wherever he went, thus ruining the beautiful day people had been having before he showed up. Herry used to have a furry nose but got upgraded to his non-furry, purple nose in 1971.

The preceding article was written by Stacy Conradt and was published on cnn.com

Who is your favorite Muppet? If you just can't decide, you can pick more than one!

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And for your enjoyment (and so you can get this song stuck in your head for days on end), here is the Muppets catchy performance of Mahna Mahna – it’s a really fun video to watch!

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Ryan Started The Fire

Posted in TV Shows on February 26th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , ,

In lieu of a new Office episode tonight (another rerun, GROAN!), I’ll supply the following youtube.com Office video, “Ryan Started the Fire” for you to watch.  I read about it in a suburban Chicago newspaper who featured the story because the video was made by some local high school students.  It’s well-written, nicely sung (good Billy Joel impression), and very well edited.  The video was featured on Jenna Fisher’s blog (the actress who plays Pam Beesley), and I can see why even a celebrity such as herself took notice – it’s a great tribute to my favorite show!  Before you enjoy it, however, I should warn you that it contains events that took place in the series in the current season, so SPOILER ALERT!  If you don’t want to know the current happenings in The Office, I guess you’ll have to wait to see this video!  Otherwise, ENJOY!

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It’s THAT Time Of Year!

Posted in Sports on February 25th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , ,

Shortly after this blog post is published, the countdown timer on my site will change – but that’s a great thing.  It used to count down until the Chicago Cubs‘ first game of 2009 Spring Training, but since that game is TODAY (!) that countdown timer will soon be edited to count down until the first real SEASON Cubs game of 2009 – YIPPEE!  So here’s to hoping the Cubs win today (and every day!), even though it’s just spring training!

Now I have to go see if I can find the first game of spring training on a tv channel in the rural expanse of Northwest Ohio!  GO CUBBIES!!!

Too Punny!

Posted in Fun Forwards on February 24th, 2009 and tagged , , ,

I received an email forward full of “Creative Puns for Educated Minds”.  Some of them are really cute, so I decided to publish them here on the blog.  While reading these, you will groan at least once, but if you don’t smile or even laugh out loud, you might be a little bit crabby and should probably take a nap instead of reading the rest of the 22 puns below.

1. The roundest knight at King Arthur’s round table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.
2. I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.
3. She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.
4. A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class because it was a weapon of math disruption.
5. The butcher backed into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his work.
6. No matter how much you push the envelope, it’ll still be stationery.
7. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.
8. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.
9. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.
10. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
11. A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. The police are looking into it.
12. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
13. Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other, ‘You stay here; I’ll go on a head.’
14. I  wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.
15. A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center said: ‘Keep off the Grass.’
16. A small boy swallowed some coins and was taken to a hospital.  When his grandmother telephoned to ask how he was, a nurse said, ‘No change yet.’
17. A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.
18. The short fortune-teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.
19. The man who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.
20. A backward poet writes inverse.
21. In democracy it’s your vote that counts. In feudalism it’s your count that votes.
22. When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.

Laundry, Origami-Style

Posted in Fun Forwards on February 23rd, 2009 and tagged , , , ,

I received an interesting email forward the other day; it’s a Japanese video that shows a woman folding a shirt perfectly in a matter of seconds using an origami technique.  I haven’t tried it out yet; I’ve been too busy blogging instead of folding my laundry 🙂

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Another Wonderful Zoo Visit

Posted in animals, Travel on February 20th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , ,

We went to the Toledo Zoo again last weekend (it was our second weekend to visit the zoo in a row; we visited on Feb 7 and 15).  Almost a week has passed since our last visit, but I had other blog posts lined up and ready to go, so that’s why I’m first writing about it now.

Having a zoo membership is awesome because you get to visit the zoo whenever you have free time, and you don’t have to worry about seeing EVERYTHING on EVERY visit since you know you’ll be back soon.  The last few times we’ve gone, we parked in the back parking lot and stay on that side of the zoo, which cuts the amount of walking considerably – a great option for winter months since this parking lot is free in the off-season and very close to the rear zoo entrance.  With 4 small children, this is the way that works best for us, even though it means skipping the other side of the zoo which includes the polar bears, seals, wolves, and giraffes.  No matter, we still see plenty, and now we have a whole half a zoo to see sometime if we go without the kids or are feeling extra ambitious.

Every zoo visit is different, which is one of the things I love about going.  The animals are always doing different things, and my favorite exhibits vary with each visit.  Here are the highlights from last Sunday’s visit:

Lions – The Toledo Zoo has white lions.  White lions are rare and the result of a recessive gene similar to the gene of white tigers.  The Toledo Zoo has 3 white lion brothers on loan from Siegfried and Roy, the famous Las Vegas magicians.  Normally during our zoo visits, the lions are sleeping and up on a ledge far from the viewing glass, but last Sunday they were walking around, and one of them even walked right up against the viewing glass!  I’ve seen lions up close before, but not for a long time and never the gorgeous white lion until last week.

Hippos – The hippos are in their indoor enclosure for the winter, and even though their room seems somewhat cramped, the animals don’t seem unhappy, and it’s very cool to see these HUGE animals up close.  It’s amazing to me that their small pool must get very deep very fast in order to allow the animal to be completely submerged.  As we watched, the hippo was bobbing for apples, and he caught his apple and swallowed it whole.  This hippo was so large that the apple in his mouth  looked about as big as a grape would look in the mouth of a human being.  And this provided an extreme close-up of his humongous teeth!

Gorillas – When we got to the gorilla exhibit, it was empty.  But a friendly zookeeper told us to stick around for about 10 minutes for gorilla feeding time.  We then got to watch as the keepers threw greens, fruit, and straw all around the enclosure; taking care to place some on the various ledges and hide some within crevices of the exhibit (seriously, am I too old to embark on this as a career?!?  I’m afraid so…).  Then they let the gorillas back in, and it was a frenzy.  Well, an orderly frenzy – there was no pushing nor shoving; just some excited gorillas foraging in their exhibit.  They quickly found all the hidden surprises, and we laughed as one of the females hoarded as much lettuce as she could carry and brought it up to a high ledge to enjoy it all by herself.

Elephants – The elephants were indoors, and the now 6-year-old baby Louie was using his trunk to eat jello off the floor.  I really enjoy watching elephants use their trunks; it’s fascinating to me how dexterous they are – almost like they have 2 fingers on the end.  But we’ve watched Louie grow up ever since we’ve been coming to this zoo when he was just a year or two old, and now he’s getting pretty big!  Last time we were at the zoo, he was trying to get down a step so he could get to the water, and he ended up going backwards down the step – it was so cute!

So great day, awesome fun as always!  Like I said, every visit is different, and I am never disappointed!  I am a zoo-addict!

Sick Of Winter?

Posted in Everyday Life on February 19th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

If you’re like me, then you are sick of winter.  I’m sick of getting snowed in, sick of bundling up the kids, and sick of the high heating bills.  So even though it’s a very dark type of humor, I did have to chuckle at this picture of a poor snowman I received via email; no doubt created by some poor soul who is a victim of the winter blues:

dark-snowman

And since we’re on the subject of snowmen, I read an article a few weeks ago with many interesting tidbits about them, so I’ll share a few.  After all, it’s the least I can do after sharing such a depressing picture like the one above, right?

– Snowman art is one of the few activities modern man shares with his earliest ancestors.  The earliest illustration of a snowman found was made in about 1380, and snow sculpting was a popular pastime during the Middle Ages.

– In the year 1494, Michelangelo sculpted snow figures in Florence, Italy.

– In 1999, residents of Bethel, Maine constructed the largest snowman ever built with 8 million pounds of snow.  They beat their own record in 2008 using 13 million pounds of snow when they created Olympia (actually a snowwoman) who stood 122 feet and one inch tall and could be seen from 4 miles away!  They used snow skis for her eyelashes, car tires for her lips, trees for her arms, and kids created her 6-foot nose from chicken wire and muslin.  Her hand-stitched hat had a 48-foot circumference.  Here is a picture of Olympia:

large-snowman

So don’t let the winter blues get you down, especially since us here in the Midwest are having a winter relapse today with icy winds and snow flurries – yuck!  Get some snowman inspiration, and go out there and try your hand at building your own winter work of art!  Hurry – the first day of spring is only a month away – and thank goodness for that!

The preceding blog post contains information obtained from American Profile magazine.

Happy Birthday To My Blog!

Posted in Cool Internet Stuff on February 18th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , ,

Happy Birthday to my blog!  Today is the one-year anniversary of the day I started my blog on tangents.org!  And 381 blog posts later, here we are!  So even though I haven’t been able to blog every day, there were a few days when I got more than one post up, and so in a 366 day year (leap year in 2008), I was able to make 381 blog posts, and that averages more than one a day, surpassing my goal I had when I started this thing!  So I’d like to thank everybody who trudges through my rambling garbage – those who have read all 381 My Food Chain Gang blog posts and those who pretend to have read them 🙂

Having this blog has been a great way to vent my feelings (from pride about my kids to my frustrations with Walmart), share news stories I find interesting (from funny police happenings to interesting animal tidbits), write movie reviews, and most importantly, keep in touch with my family and friends who live far away – especially when our lives are too busy to allow us to chat on the phone when we want.  THANKS AGAIN FOR VISITING my site!

And Speaking Of Discoveries…

Posted in animals, Current Events on February 17th, 2009 and tagged , , , ,

Unlike my Steve Wilkos show discovery, the following revelation is a great one!  My daughter brought home a Weekly Reader from school – you know, it’s like a newspaper for kids.  We used to get those when I was in school too, and I really enjoyed them.  So we’re sitting in the waiting area of H & R Block waiting for my husband to get our taxes done, and my 9-year-old daughter says to me, “Mom, did you know that they found an animal that they haven’t seen for, like, a really long time?  They thought there weren’t any more left in the world!  It looks like a Furby!”  We talked about extinction for a little bit, and then my daughter said she couldn’t remember what the animal was called or where they found it.  So when we got home, she showed me the Weekly Reader, and I found that she was talking about the pygmy tarsier.  Scientists believed this type of primate went extinct because no one had seen any specimens for about 70 years, but they recently found two males and a female tarsier alive in Indonesia.  The animals each weigh only about 2 oz.!

So yes, it’s safe to say this is a much better discovery for me than the Steve Wilkos show.  Here’s hoping the pygmy tarsier can re-populate and once again establish itself as a thriving species!  And thanks to the Weekly Reader which has been publishing great kid-oriented articles for decades.  These stories help youngsters develop many different kinds of interests in the world around them!