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    In Honor of Jim Henson's Birthday, Five Mindblowing Muppet Revelations


    In Honor of Jim Henson's Birthday, Five Mindblowing Muppet Revelations It’s Jim Henson’s birthday today — he would have been 73 — and to celebrate the Supreme Creator of that most sensational, Muppetational universe, we thought we’d pull together five things you may not have known about his beloved Muppets. They’re after the jump. 1. Nothing escapes The Magic Triangle Actually, the ‘magic triangle’ isn’t some mysterious expanse of ocean between Sesame Street, Thra and Fraggle Rock into which small aircraft regularly disappear; it’s just the term used by Muppeticians to describe the placement of Muppets’ eyes in relation to the nose and mouth. That juxtaposition is considered the single most important factor in creating a character’s innate Muppetness. According to The Art of the Muppets, correct positioning “creates a central focal point essential to bringing a puppet to life in the eye of the camera — and therefore the viewer.” 2. Big Bird Has Some Major Work Done Once Per Year While most Muppets are replaced every five years — and stars like Cookie Monster, Bert, Ernie, Grover, and Kermit replaced every decade — Big Bird gets an overhaul at the end of every Sesame Street season. His feathers are turkey feathers, and they are purchased from a U.S. company, who then exports them to China to be split in two (seriously), then returned to be cleaned, bleached and dyed. Each feather is dyed two shades of yellow. Then they are all sent to the Muppet Workshop where they are sorted into five letter grades. Only grades A through C will make it to Big Bird. The rest are discarded. They are then hot-glued to the costume. The result is the always perky and youthful fowl you know and love! 3. Count von Count’s Three Lovers Were All the Same Vampiress! It’s true. The Count’s Lady Friend, depending on when you were watching or what Sesame Street albums you owned, was either referred to by the alias The Countess, Countess von Backwards (who loves counting backwards) or Countess Dahling von Dahling. All resembled a female count. However, Lady Two, whom the Count met at a ball, was a different lover entirely (and way hotter). 4. “Sex, Sleep, Food, Drums, and Pain.” Those are the five words that Frank Oz uses to describe Animal, whose sexual conquests make the Count seem like a monk by comparison, and who was based on The Who’s drummer, Keith Moon. Speaking of drugs, there’s a legend about Henson’s British invasion, cited some years ago in the London Times, that may or may not be true, but is a pretty fun and, yes, mindblowing story nonetheless: In 1975] Henson was unable to get funding in the US for his new project, The Muppet Show. Eventually, having made several distress calls, he was finally offered a deal by Lew Grade at ATV, on the understanding that Henson came over and filmed The Muppet Show in the UK… Where it crosses the border into righteous apocrypha, however, is on the night that they landed in the UK, when Henson’s people started unpacking the Muppets. As they celebrated their new project, and discussed ideas for the forthcoming shows, they are said to have carefully removed from the heads of their Muppets a generous supply of the best psychedelic drugs the West Coast had to offer. Dr Teeth and The Electric Mayhem were devoted to prime West Coast marijuana while Kermit, apparently, had the acid. 5. Return to Crystal Island The sequel to 1982’s The Dark Crystal, Henson’s sci fi box office dud that went on to accrue a passionate cult fanbase on home video, is in pre-production, due for a 2011 release. The Power of the Dark Crystal will be directed by Russian animator Genndy Tartakovsky, the man behind Samurai Jack and Star Wars: Clone Wars, who agreed to sign on so long as the film would use real puppets by the same man who designed them for the original. The plot is based on an outline for a sequel written by Henson himself. Frank Oz, asked about his feelings on the project, responded to the SF Chronicle,”Why?”

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