Screentime: How Gonzo Made Me A Bad Parent

(YouTube/YouTube Movies)

On Being A Good Parent

Being a good parent means a lot of different things to different people, but one of the things it means to me is this: I will always try my hardest to take time and answer my daughters’ questions. She may have asked who’s shoes those are 16 times in the past 10 minutes, but each time I calmly respond “Those are your shoes, that’s why you’re wearing them.”

This philosophy also means that when the time comes that I don’t have an answer for her, I’m committed to finding one. I expected that time to come around when she started school, but as it happened it came this year when she is but 2 and a half.

On The Muppets

My daughter loves The Muppets. The first movie she ever sat through was Muppet Family Christmas. She has watched every episode of The Muppet Show at least twice. I maintain that this love comes entirely naturally to her, and has nothing to do with my own Muppet fandom.

So it was only natural that one day she would point at Gonzo and say “Daddy, What That?”

We’d been through this before with the other Muppets, and it had gone swimmingly. “That’s Kermit,” I’d say, “He’s a frog.” “Kernit. Frodd” she’d repeat happily. Miss Piggy (Pig), Fozzy (Bear), The Swedish Chef (Chef). Easy stuff. But now we came to this. The first question I did not have the answer to.

What. Is. Gonzo?

The Muppets have been around for four decades. During that time they have starred in 8 theatrical movies, 9 TV shows and 26 TV specials. Kermit and his crew have used those productions to ask some troubling questions: What would the offspring of a frog and a pig look like? Can Michael Caine dance? What if Tim Curry was a pirate? Questions I’ve struggled with and bested. But to answer my daughter’s question, I had have to peer deeper into the heart of the Muppetverse than any man should ever peer. I have braved the Muppet wilderness, and this is what I have brought back.

Here we go.

(YouTube// Walt Disney Studios Australia)

 

On Reality Itself

Of course, you probably think you already know the answer to my daughter’s question. “What is this idiot on about?” you think to yourself, “Gonzo is an alien.”

This idea was first put forward in 1999’s Muppets From Space. In fact, the entire plot of Muppets From Space is concerned with Gonzo’s “people” coming to earth to take him home. Case closed, column finished, move on.

Not so fast, bucko. What makes you so sure Muppets From Space is real? What makes you think its telling you the real story behind Gonzo? Its long been the conceit of Muppet movies that they are either presenting a fictionalized version of the real story or are just completely fabricated.

This tradition goes all the way back to 1979 and The Muppet Movie. The film begins and ends with a segment showing all the Muppets attending a screening of The Muppet Movie in a theater. Kermit explains that the movie depicts the Muppet’s arrival in Hollywood “approximately how it happened”. It’s therefore clear that Kermit et al. are merely actors playing themselves in a semi-autobiographical work.

NOTE: One important caveat here is that Statler & Waldorf appear in the audience for the film but NOT in the film itself. They are merely members of the general public. (This idea is supported by both The Muppet Show and Muppet Family Christmas). It shows that not all muppets are Muppets. That is, not all muppet-like-creatures are Muppet cast members. Remember this, it’s important.

This idea is made even clearer in their follow-up film. Released in 1981, The Great Muppet Caper stars Kermit and Fozzie as identical twins who are journalists. Miss Piggy plays an aspiring model. Kermit et al. have the same relationship with their characters here that any actor has with theirs. The movie exists entirely in its own fictional universe, without reference to the established characters that we know. Heck, the whole production even begins with a song called “Hey, A Movie!” to cement this idea.

(YouTube//ZuzuFitzwaller)

On Non-fictional Muppet Movies

“Ok,” you think, “Great. The tradition of Muppet movies dictates that Muppets From Space is a fictional story, so Gonzo is not an alien.”

Good job! You solved my Gonzo riddle. Pour yourself a drink.

But hold on just one second! What if I told you that the markers that prove that The Muppet Movie and Great Muppet Caper are fictional stories aren’t present for ALL Muppet releases. In fact, there are three releases that don’t contain the combination of an explicitly fictional plot and impossible metatextual references that indicate a fictional Muppet movie. Those films are: Muppets From Space, The Muppets (2011) and Muppets Most Wanted. That’s right, the very movie that establishes Gonzo as an alien!

(YouTube//HTK1968)

Muppets From Space has all the Muppet cast, acting exactly within their established characters, living in a house together. The Muppets living all together is not a completely new idea. The extremely short-lived CBS series Little Muppet Monsters established a shared Muppet dwelling way back in 1985. It is, perhaps, unusual that Statler & Waldorf live with the rest of the cast. As discussed earlier, they have been established as members of the public. However, their increased involvement in sketches in later seasons of The Muppet Show may indicate that, at some point between 1987’s Muppet Family Christmas and 1999’s Muppets From Space, they became fully-fledged cast members. So there is nothing in characterization or setup to indicate that Muppets From Space is fictional.

How about any meta-textual weirdness? Gonzo may be given some hope by one line in which Pepe refers to the adventure being like a “Muppet movie”, but the comment in context is not that much more meta than something you or I might say to a friend. Still very ambiguous.

On Job Security

However, not all hope is lost. As any private eye worth his salt will tell you, sometimes clues come from the most unlikely source. Thus, in order to finally solve the mystery of Gonzo, we must follow the tracks an unlikely suspect, an obscure Muppet who seems entirely innocuous, but may actually hold the key that unlocks the mysteries of the Muppetverse.

Bobo The Bear.

(YouTube//dangersque37)

Bobo The Bear was a late addition to the Muppet universe. He first appeared backstage on Muppets Tonight as a security guard at KMUP, the TV station which airs Muppets Tonight. After that, he shows up again only in the TV Special A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa and in the movies Muppets From Space, The Muppets (2011) and as a cameo appearance in Muppets Most Wanted. That’s right, the 3 movies we’re interested in! Each of his major appearances give him similar roles, outside of the Muppet cast, and it is possible to trace quite a neat career path for Bobo just from these productions.

1996-1998: Muppets Tonight – At the start of the show, Bobo is already working as a security guard for KMUP.

1999: Muppets From Space – At some point between the end of Muppets Tonight and now, Bobo has moved into government work, presumably with a good reference from KMUP. He now works in a prominent position at C.O.V.N.E.T. While his position is not exactly a logical leap from security guard work, he seems to be a general henchman, which his skill-set and experience make him a good fit for.

2008: A Muppets Christmas: Letters To Santa – Bobo has remained in government work but has, at some point between 1999 and now, been significantly demoted (presumably after the disastrous mission depicted in Muppets From Space). He is now working as an airport security guard.

2011: The Muppets – After presumably getting tired of low level government jobs, Bobo has entered the private sector. He is now working for Tex Richman, as (you guessed it) a general henchman.

There are three important things to note here: First, Bobo’s appearances all see him play a specific type of role, which can be added together to give a consistent career path. Second, all of these roles place him in opposition to the main Muppet cast. He is not shown to be a member of the Muppet crew at any point, nor is he ever seen to be affiliated with their productions except in a tangential way.

Finally, and most importantly, most of his appearances occur in works which depict themselves as being non-fictional. Muppets Tonight is a continuation of The Muppet Show, the place where the established characters of The Muppets come from. A Muppet Christmas and The Muppets (2011) are set in a world in which The Muppets are all famous actors.

This all seems to suggest that Bobo is merely a member of the general public (NOT a Muppet cast member), whose various jobs have brought him into contact with the Muppets several times. His appearance as a henchman in Muppets From Space therefore cements its position as a non-fictional work. It’s much more plausible to accept that a former security guard would accept government work than to assume he would join a group of actors with whom he has butted heads in the past. Finally, we have confirmation: Gonzo is an alien, everything is great.

(YouTube//Activeaffiliates)

On Ricky Fuckin Gervais

And then Muppets Most Wanted shows up.

Muppets Most Wanted begins at the exact moment The Muppets ends. The big dance number finishes and the crowd dissipates. The first lines of the film are spoken: “And…. CUT!”

The Universe is torn asunder.

With two words, Muppets Most Wanted retroactively reveals The Muppets to be a work of fiction after all. Kermit et al., were just playing versions of their real selves.

At first this seems fine. Its just a fictional version of a true story, like The Muppet Movie. But the problems run deeper than that. Bobo’s presence ruins everything.

You see, the fact that Bobo has a role in the The Muppets means he is not just some hard-working security guard. He is a member of the Muppet’s cast. When did he join the cast? Was it in 2011, after leaving his government posting? Or was it in 1997, after Muppets Tonight? If it was any time before Muppets From Space in 1999, Gonzo’s status is unknown yet again.

But more than Gonzo’s species is at stake here. So much more. What if Bobo joined the cast even earlier? Has he been a cast member this whole time? Is Muppets Tonight also fictional? Is it all a sham?!

The implications of this are staggering. If Muppets Tonight is just another work of fiction, that means that The Muppet Show is too. Nothing is true!

(YouTube//dorcm1973)

Well…not quite. This state of affairs leaves one movie, one keystone holding all the others in place: Muppets Most Wanted. By revealing everything else, everything upon which The Muppetverse is built, as fiction, Muppets Most Wanted reveals itself as the only thing that is real. Walter, Costantine, Ricky Fucking Gervais. That’s the real, true story of the Muppets. Everything else is bullshit. They were just playing roles for 40 years. And now, finally, we know the truth.

But Muppets Most Wanted has one more trick up its sleeve. Right at the end, right at the climactic wedding scene, who shows up in the audience? Bobo The Bear. Its as if he’s saying “I’ve been here all along, hiding in plain sight. Everything you know is a lie.”

Epilogue

And so I return to my daughter a broken man. Not only do I not have the answer she seeks, but I have knowledge that to impart to her would be to destroy her world. It would be better had I never attempted to answer at all, if I had given up my researches and used that time to play with her and like, teach her to count or whatever. But what’s done is done.

Later she asks again. Pointing to Gonzo and looking up at me, all innocence.

“Daddy, What That?”

That’s Gonzo, honey. He’s a….whatever.

“Gondo. Whaever”

 

(YouTube//Sam P)

 

 

Chris Hemsworth Celebrates 10th Anniversary of Two “No-Names” Starring in Thor

Thor Anniversary Post
(Instagram/Chris Hemsworth)

It’s hard to believe that Chris Hemsworth was an “unknown actor” when he was cast as Thor a decade ago. He recently took to Instagram to celebrate the 10-year anniversary and throw a little shade at the poorly-aged article that questioned Marvel’s casting choices. Banking on two “no names” in Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston as Loki to carry the movie? What was Marvel thinking?!

“Thor” debuted in 2011 and Hemsworth shared a pic of him with Hiddleston at an early table read. He shared it saying “This year marks the 10th anniversary of THOR when two unknown lads were given the keys to the kingdom. It’s been a hell of a ride and we clearly haven’t aged a day.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Chris Hemsworth (@chrishemsworth)

What’s funny is they both actually look *better* now (that’s what money and success can do to you), especially as Hemsworth gets ripped for the next Thor movie.

The second photo was the news report of their casting, calling them “no names” and questioning the move to hire “virtual unknowns” to carry the film, especially when people like Shia LaBoeuf and Josh Hartnett were interested.

Now that Hemsworth has been knocking it out of the park for a decade as Thor now, and with Hiddleston about to carry his own series on Disney+ (as well as stealing scenes throughout the Avengers movies as Loki) I think it’s safe to say Marvel made the right move by “rolling the dice.”

Unknown a decade ago, sure, but now they are two of the biggest stars in the MCU, and their stars are only getting brighter.

Bindi Irwin Shares Touching Artwork Depicting Late Dad Holding Her Daughter

Bindi Irwin shares family portrait which includes late dad
(Instagram/bindisueirwin)

Though your very first Mother’s Day is an occasion for celebration, for many, it’s intensely bittersweet. Becoming a parent yourself completely reframes the way you see your own parents, allowing you to understand and bond over things that were previously complete and total mysteries. For Bindi Irwin, the road to parenthood is a journey she’s shared publicly, but with baby Grace finally here and her first Mother’s Day in the books, Bindi couldn’t help but think about the person she desperately wishes she could celebrate with – her late dad, Steve Irwin.

 

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A post shared by Bindi Irwin (@bindisueirwin)

In addition to being Bindi’s dad, Steve Irwin was her hero and inspiration. Even today, her late dad’s legacy remains central to the way Bindi lives her life. Through their conservation work, both Bindi and her brother Robert pick up where their dad left off. During their biggest milestones, the family finds ways to make it feel as though Steve is there celebrating with them.

Without a doubt, Steve would be so incredibly proud of his growing family. They continue to prioritize both conservation and family, things that the late Crocodile Hunter held close to his heart. Though Steve wasn’t there to celebrate his daughter’s very first Mother’s day with her, Bindi found a way to share her special day with him in spirit.

Bindi commissioned a painting by Debb Oliver of The Monkey Brush, a touching work of art that she and her family will undoubtedly treasure. The photo Bindi shared on Instagram looks like a typical (albeit beautiful) family portrait, but with one special addition – a smiling Steve Irwin holding his very first granddaughter, tilting her slightly towards the viewer as if he’d just finished saying, “crikey, isn’t she a beauty?”

 

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A post shared by Bindi Irwin (@bindisueirwin)

The happy family is dressed in matching Australia Zoo khakis, making the portrait feel even more real. Had Steve been there to celebrate baby Grace with his family, this exact photo would almost certainly exist organically.

“I wish we could all be together but sometimes life has other plans,” Bindi captioned the photo. “To my beautiful daughter, always know that you are loved beyond description.”

Mom Adopts Puppy Without Paw To Help Daughter Without Hands Embrace Uniqueness

2-year-old without hands adopts puppy without paw
(Instagram/vanessamcleod_)

When kids are young, they haven’t yet developed a framework of how things are “supposed to” be. They approach things with curiosity as opposed to judgment, learning as much as they can about the world around them. It takes time for kids to notice things that differentiate them from their peers, and unfortunately, many kids start to view the things that make them unique as negatives. To preemptively instill confidence in her 2-year-old daughter, one mom decided to call for backpup.

Vanessa McLeod from Vancouver B.C. learned that her daughter would be born without hands when she was just 19 weeks pregnant. Though her doctor urged her to consider the quality of life for someone born without hands, McLeod knew that whatever obstacles her daughter faced, they would face them together. Now 2 years old, Ivy is happy and thriving.

“Her favorite thing to do is color and she just uses her toes to hold the markers so she has just learned to do things differently,” McLeod told CTV News.

 

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A post shared by Vanessa McLeod (@vanessamcleod_)

As Ivy grows older, McLeod knows it’s only a matter of time before Ivy starts questioning why she was born different. It’s inevitable, unfortunately – kids make cruel comments, whether they’re intentionally cruel or not. Those comments penetrate our own self-image, and sometimes, they completely overtake the way we see ourselves.

McLeod decided that she needed to give Ivy something solid to point to if she begins to question her own beauty and value, something to remind her that those who look different are just as beautiful as their peers. The determined mom settled on finding a dog for the family, one with a limb difference just like Ivy.

“You know you were born that way but different is beautiful,” she imagined telling her daughter, “and this puppy was also born that way and that is also a beautiful thing.”

Beginning what she anticipated would be a long and difficult search, McLeod set out to find the perfect pup for Ivy. In what felt like a magical turn of events, the search was over just as quickly as it started.

“But on April 6th, the day I initially posted… that very same day, a tiny little puppy was born IN OUR CITY with a little lucky fin,” McLeod wrote on Instagram. “If that’s not fate, I don’t know what is. It’s so very clear to us that she is meant to be part of our family.”

 

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A post shared by Vanessa McLeod (@vanessamcleod_)

As soon as Lucky is old enough to be adopted, she’ll begin her life with her new family. Lucky and Ivy have already formed an incredible bond, one that will only grow stronger once they’re together full time. Though the adorable pup bears the name, everyone involved is likely feeling pretty dang lucky themselves.

Muppets’ Statler and Waldorf Get What’s Coming To Them On SNL

SNL Security Muppets Sketch
(YouTube/SNL)

Most of the Muppets are really lovable. My opinions on Miss Piggy notwithstanding, most of Jim Henson’s puppets are not only funny, but they’re also endearing. The put-upon frog, the inept comic bear, the lovelorn pig, the manic drummer, the indecipherable chef, all have endearing qualities.

Except for two. Statler and Waldorf are just plain jerks. The two curmudgeons who sit on a balcony and mock the rest of the Muppets are hilarious, but they’re not exactly lovable. And if they existed in any universe outside of the Muppets, they’d probably be less celebrated.

Over the weekend, Saturday Night Live explored exactly what would happen if the two elderly hecklers ran into the wrong people.

Keegan-Michael Key, from Key and Peele, hosted the show, and in one memorable sketch, he and Kenan Thompson played a pair of security guys working the venue at the Muppets latest gig. When Statler and Waldorf started doing their thing, they were NOT here for it, and they let the hecklers know.

And then the hecklers messed around and found out. Hilariously.

Ashley Cain Posts Moving Tribute to Late Daughter

Cain Daughter Tribute
(Instagram/mrashleycain)

Former soccer star Ashley Cain took to Instagram to post a moving tribute to his late daughter. Cain’s daughter Azaylia passed away this spring from a rare form of leukemia at the young age of eight months. The 30-year-old MTV “The Challenge” star said he was finding it hard to look through her photos and videos, so he scrolled and posted the first one he landed on to honor what would’ve been her 9-month-birthday.

“What a beautiful video it was!” he wrote. “What a strong, clever, brave and beautiful little girl you were. My champion, my hero….MY INSPIRATION!”

The video is truly heartbreaking, as it’s a baby and her dad playing together. A baby and dad that should’ve had more time together.

A parent should never have to lose a child. It’s truly one of the most devastating things a person can ever experience. Cain has been vocal in his daughter’s diagnosis and passing and looks to keep her memory alive. Cain and Azaylia’s mother have said they are going to use the remaining money raised for her treatment to start a charity in her name.

“What we saw during our time fighting this monster has changed us forever and we will spend the rest of our lives spreading Azaylia’s message of hope and strength to all those who need it,” Cain and Safiyya Vorajee wrote on the GoFundMe pageGoFundMe page. “We will ensure she lives on until the day we are able to hold her again in paradise.”

Pediatric cancer is one of the cruelest diseases we have in this world, and hopefully, with advances in science and research, it can be one that’s ended in our lifetime. And Cain will be joining that fight in honor of his late daughter.

Loki Sneak Peek Gives Us More Owen Wilson

Loki Sneak Peek
(YouTube/Marvel)

Apparently, the MTV Movie Awards are still a thing, and they happened last night!

I couldn’t tell you who most of the presenters were, but I know Scarlett Johansson won a career award, Chadwick Boseman got the posthumous award the Oscars denied him, and WandaVision won for Best Show. There’s another MCU show coming soon – Loki arriving in early June – and in between awards, viewers were treated to a sneak peek.

In the short, one-minute clip, Owen Wilson introduces himself as Mobius and explains that time works differently at the TVA, the Time Variance Authority, where Loki is now a prisoner.

Check it out:

Tom Hiddleston recently gave an interview in which he spoke a bit about the show, and the character he is best known for portraying.

“I want to preserve the freshness of the show for when it emerges, but something to think about is the [show’s] logo, which seems to refresh and restore,” Hiddleston explained in a recent interview with Empire. “The font of how ‘Loki’ is spelled out seems to keep changing shape. Loki is the quintessential shapeshifter. His mercurial nature is that you don’t know whether, across the MCU, he’s a hero or a villain or an anti-hero. You don’t know whether you can trust him. He literally and physically changes shape into an Asgardian guard, or into Captain America repeatedly. Thor talks about how he could change into a snake.

“I think that shapeshifting logo might give you an idea that Loki, the show, is about identity, and about integrating the disparate fragments of the many selves that he can be, and perhaps the many selves that we are. I thought it was very exciting because I’ve always found Loki a very complex construct. Who is this character who can wear so many masks, and changes shape, and seems to change his external feeling on a sixpence?”

Sony Reveals New Midnight Black & Cosmic Red PS5 Controllers

PS5 Midnight Black Cosmic Red Controller Reveal Trailer
(YouTube/Playstation)

In a Playstation Blog announcement, Sony unveiled their brand new PS5 controllers and I have to say, I’m loving that classic black color scheme.

“Our goal is to always find designs that will surprise and entice our fans, and these new colors are the result of an extensive selection process,” says Leo Cardoso from PlayStation’s design team. “We wanted the new controller colors to complement each other, as well as the original DualSense wireless controller and PS5 console, so we designed the colors around the theme of ‘galaxy’ as it felt like a natural progression from the original PS5 and accessories designs.”

I don’t mind the white color scheme of the current PS5 controller, but I always feel like I’m staring at one of the Avengers time travel suits from Endgame.  It will be nice to change things up a bit.  If you were lucky enough to snag a PS5 console and need some extra controllers for the family, the Midnight Black DualSense will cost $69.99 US, and the Cosmic Red DualSense will be a bit more at $74.99 US.

The current release date for each of these controllers is set for June 11th, 2021 and you can pre-order from the Playstation website right now.  My birthday is on June 11th, so hopefully, my wife reads this article and takes a hint.

Father Figures: Believe It

“I had to share how amazing my husband has been becoming a first time dad. He keeps saying how he wishes he could’ve done more. But I need him to know he DID DO everything and more.

Our son Zac was born at 37 weeks on March 24th.

My husband (Alex) and I decided to induce that day, due to my diagnosis of hyperemesis gravidarum (ongoing for 8months), as well as hydronephrosis which we had been spending the past week in the hospital for.

This pregnancy was a living hell for both of us. We spent a total of about 30 days in the hospital during the pregnancy.

Alex spent the first 7 months of the pregnancy holding my hair with one hand and my sick bucket with the other. I became physically and mentally dependent on him to get through each day. He’s the one I wouldn’t have survived without.

Soon after our son, was born he was rushed to the NICU and I saw the life get sucked out of my husband’s face. He started blaming himself for not being able to take care of his family.

He dropped everything to be with Zac and me for the 13 days we were in the NICU. He has showed up everyday, every hour, for every feed, and we finally went home with our preemie baby who still has a lot of growing to do.

We never thought our life would come crashing down like this, but Zac and I wouldn’t have survived without Alex, and I just want my husband to know that and believe that.

He did everything right. He did everything in his power to keep us safe even though he thinks he failed to do it. There is nothing he could’ve done differently because he has been perfect and now our family is complete, something I am truly, truly grateful for. ”

– Aisha Dow

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email [email protected]

The Rock Stops to Duet Maui’s Song With Father of Moana Fans

The Rock duets song from Moana with father of two young fans
(Facebook/Dwayne The Rock Johnson)

It’s no secret that wrestler, actor, and absolute tank of a human Dwayne Johnson loves every second of being a girl dad. The father of three revels in spending time with his daughters, sharing touching posts on social media, and frequently discussing the joys of fatherhood. It’s impossible to fully understand what it means to be a parent until you become one, and as a nod to the bond of parenthood, The Rock regularly takes the time to help out his fellow fathers.

As if his plate wasn’t full enough, The Rock made yet another one of his dreams come true in 2020 when he founded Teremana Tequila. The brand focuses on sustainability and responsible sourcing, and since The Rock puts 100% into everything he does, the Tequila was an immediate and astounding success.

While promoting his new brand in early 2020, The Rock met a dad who really struck a chord. In the video Johnson shared on Facebook, he’s approached by a man with a small but mighty message from his 4-year-old daughter.

“She wanted me to tell you that she is 4, her name is Hannah, she has a little brother named Lucas, and they love your song.”

“Hannah and Lucas – wow. Where’s your phone?” Johnson asks, his Dad signal activated.

The father of two explains that every night he sings “You’re Welcome,” Maui’s song from Moana, to his kids. Some people can’t stop ordering things they don’t need online, others may gamble too much, but Dwayne Johnson simply cannot resist taking time out of his busy days to make his fans smile – especially when those fans happen to be kids.

After a brief introduction to his new friend’s kids, The Rock begins to sing Maui’s song before pulling the overjoyed dad in to sing with him.

“There’s always ‘an understanding’ between fathers who will do anything to make their daughters happy,” The Rock wrote on Facebook.