Screentime: How Gonzo Made Me A Bad Parent

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.

Credit: 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.

Credit: 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!

Credit: 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.

Credit: 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.

Credit: 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!

Credit: 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”

 

Credit: YouTube//Sam P

 

 

Ryan Reynolds and The Rock Have Met Their Match in ‘Red Notice’ Trailer

Even superheroes have day jobs. At least, actors who play superheroes do.

Gal Gadot, aka Wonder Woman, Ryan Reynolds, aka Deadpool, and Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, aka Black Adam, are more than the capes and tights and lasso they sport in their mega-budget super flicks. They’re also working actors, and this November, they’re working for Netflix.

The movie is called Red Notice, and while they aren’t playing superheroes, they aren’t exactly playing chumps either. Not when you look like they do.

Here’s the synopsis: It’s the PRO vs. the CONS. An Interpol-issued Red Notice is a global alert to hunt and capture the world’s most wanted. But when a daring heist brings together the FBI’s top profiler (Johnson) and two rival criminals (Gadot, Reynolds), there’s no telling what will happen.

The first trull trailer was just released and it looks fun, of overstuffed. It’s a prison break movie, a heist movie, an action movie, a buddy comedy, and more. But nothing a few charming movie stars can’t handle.

The movie hits Netflix on November 5th:

‘Cheer Dad’ Goes Viral for High-Kicking His Way Into Our Hearts

If you cheer for the cheerleader, do you then become the cheerleader? Truly one of the great mysteries of life – a mystery that Rolland “Hekili” Holland doesn’t have time to ponder because, well, he’s busy cheering. Holland’s daughter, Mackenzi, admittedly used to find her dad’s distinct show of support embarrassing. But more recently, she’s found a new appreciation for her dad’s unique way of showing up for her.

Mackenzi is a cheerleader for York High School, but during a recent game, it was Holland who stole the show. As Mackenzi and her fellow cheerleaders perfectly executed their routine on the field, Holland did the same in the stands. Eyes locked proudly on his daughter, Holland hit every mark flawlessly.

41-Year-old Holland, a father of three girls, recently retired after spending 24 years as an Air Force Major. Due to his work, Holland spent periods of time stationed away from home during his daughters’ childhoods. He relished the time he got to spend with his family, supporting them wholeheartedly both at home and from afar.

Cheering along with Mackenzi is a long-standing tradition for Holland, going viral in 2019 for a similar video. Mackenzi, now a senior, is heading to college next year. Holland recently started a new career working on Air Traffic Control simulators, and at least until the end of the school year, he’s enjoying his honorary role as “Cheer Dad.”

Though Holland’s time as Mackenzi’s personal cheerleader is coming to a close, he remains hopeful that one day he’ll reprise his role. Holland’s middle daughter, Brayanna, made it abundantly clear that his shenanigans are not welcome at her softball games. His youngest daughter Jaymi, however, made no such proclamation. Ok, so she’s only seven, but Holland remains hopeful.

“‘Cheer Dad” might come back when Jaymi gets to high school,” Holland told theDaily Press. “But, if she’s embarrassed and doesn’t want it, then I’ll just be a regular dad.”

Scooby-Doo Dominates Map of States’ Favorite Spooky Kid Flicks

Look, I’m not here to bash Hocus Pocus. I’ve gotten into enough trouble doing that on social media. Besides, I have no problem with it being on a list of spooky children’s movies. Because that’s who it’s for!

The list I’m talking about was put together by USDish, and it lays out every state’s favorite spooky children’s movie, just in time for Halloween. None of the movies on this list of “most searched spooky kids movies in 2021” should come as a surprise to any parent out there who loves Halloween.

My wife and I have been doing our yearly “spooktober” tradition, which entails showing our kids – and ourselves, once the kids have gone to bed – as many spooky movies as we can throughout the month of October.

Obviously, the ones we watch after the kids are in bed are a little bit different than the ones on this list, but I will admit that Hocus Pocus – which the list shows dominates New England (the movie takes place in Salem, Mass) – is pretty scary, at least in terms of how bad it is! Sorry. Sorry.

80s classics Beetlejuice and Ghostbusters show up a few times, as does the Pixar weep fest Coco (in New Mexico and Texas, which makes sense, given the movie’s depiction of Mexican culture). E.T. even shows up a couple of times!

(Credit: USDish)

Some other key findings from the list:

  • The dynamic duo, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo, have stolen the hearts of Americans, coming in as the most searched movie in 13 states.
  • Apparently, button eyes are in this year, with Coraline coming in as the most searched kids’ movie in 11 states.
  • Halloweentown is Oregon’s top spooky kid’s movie, which is fitting since the movie was filmed in St. Helens.
  • Although Gremlins isn’t the most beloved nationally, it still has North Dakotans interested almost 30 years after its release.

Which of these movies are Halloween staples in your house?

Christmas Trees Will Be More Expensive, Harder-to-Find This Year

Hey, has your day-to-day life been annoyed enough yet by supply chain issues? No? Well, you are IN LUCK. From the people who brought you the coming holiday season toy shortage, we now have “Christmas trees will be more expensive!” news. And this one is a little more complicated than just blaming the pandemic.

For starters, blame the 2008 recession. Christmas trees usually take 10-12 years to mature and be ready for you to haul into your living room. After the recession hit in 2008, some farms closed or dramatically cut back on the number of trees they planted.

The next thing to blame is environmental issues, as an early frost in Vermont and New Hampshire killed off a bunch of trees. And then finally you can get to the pandemic, as the cost of things like trucking and the gas to chainsaw down those trees are all more expensive. And when things get more expensive, the costs just get passed on to the customer (fun!).

The executive director of the National Christmas Tree Association (which apparently is a thing) Tim O’Connor told TODAY they wouldn’t call it a “shortage” but listed some reasons why prices would go up.

Now, that makes those of us who are artificial tree people look smart. Why bother with the irregular tree, the strapping it down to your roof, the pine needles all over the house? Love the smell, buy a candle! With an artificial tree, you know what you’re getting every year and you know the ins and outs on how to best decorate it.

And if you’re ready to come over to our side, well, you’re also out of luck there too. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the price of artificial trees (and most decorations) will be as much as 25 percent higher, due to the ongoing supply chain and shipping issues. So, in a sense, we’re right back where we started.

Christmas isn’t canceled, it’s just going to be more expensive this year.

RUMOR: MCU Developing World War Hulk Movie

The MCU has been alive and kicking for more than a decade now. It kicked off with Iron Man and slowly picked up a collection of superheroes over ten years of multiplex dominating movies. Then they all came together to close out the Infinity Saga in Endgame. Along the way, nearly every major character was featured in their own movie, or collection of movies, culminating in Black Widow’s long-awaited, pandemic-delayed solo flick.

There was one core member of the crew who never got his own movie: The Hulk. But that may be about to change.

On Thursday, a website called The GWW broke the rumor that Marvel is developing a movie version of the celebrated World War Hulk storyline, featuring the big green guy. The article states that one of the reasons the Hulk hasn’t had his own movie – unless you count Ed Norton’s outing, which is technically a part of the MCU mythology (hence the Abomination appearing in Shang-Chi, and William Hurt’s General Ross continuing to feature in Avengers movies) but has otherwise been largely disregarded – is that Universal held the rights. Apparently, according to a 2020 rumor, Disney has them now.

The World War Hulk movie is rumored to be coming together at the end of this year and is meant to build off of the events, and the expanded Hulk-based universe, of the forthcoming Disney+, show She-Hulk, starring Tatyana Maslany. Mark Ruffalo will supposedly appear in the show, which will focus on She-Hulk’s exploits as a lawyer.

How the show leads into the space-based WWH storyline is yet to be seen – largely because we haven’t seen the show yet! – but odds are even if this rumor is true, Kevin Feige and Marvel will have to find a new take on the source material to make it fit within the existing MCU framework. The original storyline features characters that don’t yet exist on-screen.

And that’s only if the rumors are true. If they are, surely we’ll hear something soon. Especially since Mark Ruffalo is known to have loose lips!

Major Candy Maker Attacked by Ransomware Hackers Ahead of Halloween

One of the biggest candy companies in the U.S. of A. is having a difficult time getting its candy to the people in the days ahead of the Candy Superbowl thanks to a devious group of hackers. The weeks leading up to Halloween are a bad time for your candy production to go offline, but Ferrara is facing this difficulty as manufacturing facilities have been affected by ransomware hackers messing with their systems.

This seems like a big deal. Ransomware attacks are getting more prolific and for a while, they were mainly targeting groups like local governments (yawn). Now, they are attacking our nation right where it matters most (ok maybe not most, but this is candy, dangit!).

Ferrara is the manufacturer of many great candies, such as Brach’s Candy Corn (the only good candy corn). They also make SweetTarts, Laffy Taffy, Nerds, Red Hots, Lemonheads, Jawbreakers, Pixy Stix, and Everlasting Gobstoppers. Chocolate snobs may shrug off this hack-attack because it doesn’t affect the Halloween titans, but I am here to defend (some) these candies.

A proper Halloween basket needs some sweet variety to mix it up, and Nerds/SweeTarts are a staple in that category. Lemonheads are the most underrated candy on the planet, and Everlasting Gobstoppers are legit good. Gobstoppers are probably the best candy of that entire bunch. Pixy Stix, meanwhile, is the closest thing tee-ball players have to performance-enhancing substances.

And candy corn, for all its ills, is still the premier fall seasonal candy.

More importantly, if the hackers are targeting one candy company, they could put others in their sites. Several large grain companies were also majorly affected earlier this year by ransomware attacks.

A Ferrara spokesperson said the company has only been able to resume manufacturing in “select cities” in a statement acknowledging the attack.

Of course, any time a candy company is taken down, the first suspect becomes a disgruntled Oompa Loompa, but this sounds like it could be more serious. It may be time to start hoarding Nerds like it’s toilet paper in March of 2020.

Mel Brooks Is Bringing a “History of the World” Sequel to Hulu

A proliferation of streaming services and companies getting into the #content game means unknown newcomers have a better chance of seeing their vision realized on the small screen. Hulu is making that dream come true for one comedic voice, as the breakthrough performer is (checks notes) the 95-year-old comedy legend Mel Brooks. Hulu announced that Brooks is writing and producing History of the World, Part II, an 8-episode variety series, for the streamer.

This will be a sequel to his legendary comedy History of the World, Part I film in 1981. Only a short 40 years later, Brooks will take to the sequel. That’s like some George R. R. Martin timing right there. The original movie was vignettes and musical numbers covering the Stone Age, Ancient Rome, and all the way through the French Revolution. It may be most remembered for the very funny “Jews in Space.”

So the 95-year-old comedy legend, who also brought us classics like Spaceballs, The Producers, and Blazing Saddles. Just iconic stuff right there. And it’s amazing he’s still working in his mid-90s.

“I can’t wait to once more tell the real truth about all the phony baloney stories the world has been conned into believing are History!” Brooks said in the press release.

Of course, being in his mid-90s, he probably won’t play five different characters again in the sequel. Instead, he’s got some heavyweight comedic help. The series will also be written by Nick Kroll, Wanda Sykes, Ike Barinholtz, David Stassen, and Kevin Salter. Some major talent from the comedy worlds of stand-up and TV.

The series is currently in the writing stages with production set to start in the spring.

Sony Releases First Action-Packed Trailer for Uncharted Film

Uncharted has always been a cinematic gaming experience.  When you’re playing as treasure hunter Nathan Drake, you feel like you’re inside an Indiana Jones movie, pulling off death-defying feats and taking down bad guys.  The stories and set pieces were just ripe to be adapted to the big screen and today, we got our first official look at the brand-new film starring Tom Holland & Mark Wahlberg.

Just judging by the trailer, they’ve definitely captured the spirit of the games. Check it out for yourself down below.

Here’s the official plot synopsis:

“Based on one of the best-selling, most critically acclaimed video game series of all time, Uncharted introduces audiences to the young street-smart Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) and showcases his first treasure hunting adventure with wisecracking partner Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg). In an action-adventure epic that spans the globe, the two go in dangerous pursuit of “the greatest treasure never found” while also tracking clues that may lead to Nathan’s long-lost brother.”

Now, as someone who is a big fan of the game series, it seems like they’re pulling story elements from a few of them.  In Uncharted 4, Nathan was looking for his brother with Sully, but they were all much older (Sully especially being very wrinkly).  Also, the crazy airplane crash with all of the cargo flying out the back is straight out of Uncharted 3.  They’re taking some of the best elements from these games, but I hope it isn’t just a mish-mash of clashing stories and it actually works.  Still, it looks like a lot of fun and director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland 1 & 2, Venom) has proven himself capable of delivering some great action sequences.  Hopefully, Fleischer and crew can pull off impressing the legions of fans that love the video games, while also bringing in an audience that has never played the games before.

Uncharted releases exclusively in theaters on February 18th, 2022

Tarantino Wants to Make ‘Kill Bill 3’ and a Comedy Western. And Also Retire, So.

For years, Quentin Tarantino has said he was going to direct ten films and then hang it up and move on to other things. After writing and directing 2019’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood he has devoted his time to writing books (including a novelization of the movie), converting Once Upon a Time… into a play, and conducting interviews where he again suggested that his tenth film could be his last. Could that film be Kill Bill 3?

If number 10 is to be the end of his storied filmmaking career, capping it with the third installment – or second, if you count Kill Bill 1 and 2 as one film – would make some sense. QT has often suggested a follow-up where Vivica Fox’s character’s daughter sought her own revenge on Uma Thermon’s character, bringing The Bride’s own revenge story full circle. Recently, when receiving a lifetime achievement award at the Rome Film Festival, a reporter asked him if that could still be his 10th movie answered: “Why not?”

“But first I want to make a comedy,” he continued, mentioning his desire to direct a comedy-Western.

“It’s not like my next movie. It’s a piece of something else that I’m thinking about doing — and I’m not going to describe what it is,” Tarantino said. “But part of this thing, there is supposed to be a Spaghetti Western in it.”

“I’m looking forward to shooting that [thing] because it’s going to be really fun. Because I want to shoot it in the Spaghetti Western style where everybody’s speaking a different language. The Mexican Bandido is an Italian; the hero is an American; the bad sheriff is a German; the Mexican saloon girl is Israeli. And everybody is speaking a different language. And you [the actors] just know: OK, when he’s finished talking then I can talk,” Tarantino laughed while describing the project.

While Tarantino’s movies certainly have humor in them – “I shot Marvin in the face!” – few would describe them as full blown comedies. Whether the director can pull off what sounds like an ambitious, and odd, comedic Spaghetti western will have to be seen to be believed. But he hasn’t had many misfires yet.