Friday, April 30, 2010

It's Not Easy Bein' Green

At various times in life, we are called upon to be leaders. Whether at work, in our communities, at church, or within our families, it's often a daunting task. Being a good leader requires us to have several other necessary qualities, and it's always important that we know how to exercise the proper amount of authority. We don't want a coup on our hands, after all. Being the chief representative of the Muppet clan, Kermit the Frog has to juggle quite a bit to keep his fellow Muppets in line. And somehow, miraculously, he does it.

Like many good leaders, Kermit inspires the other Muppets to do what they love. He shrewdly theorizes that if Hollywood wants frogs to become rich and famous, they must want dogs, pigs, bears, and other assorted creatures, too. But he's the one who has to control them once they are settled into their place at the Muppet Theater. If that's not an exercise in patience, I don't know what is. Romantically crazed pigs, destructive monsters, and all sorts of mayhem zoom around Kermit, and he has to manage the organized chaos. Occasionally, even Kermit loses his cool, flailing his arms and hollering, "Will you get out of here??!!?!?"

But Kermit shares these dreams and quirks with his Muppet friends, which is another reason he's a good leader. He can relate to them, even if outside observers try to insist he's the most normal one out of them. He responds to such claims by saying, "Are you kidding? I hired the rest of them!"

Kermit lets us know that even leaders have their down-time and feelings of self-doubt. But he also gives us an example of how we shouldn't keep ourselves down. He sings that "it's not easy being green", but within a few seconds, he realizes that being green is "beautiful, and I think it's what I want to be." After their vehicle breaks down in the desert in  The Muppet Movie, he wonders how he got himself and others into a big mess, but he manages to give himself a pep talk and remember how much he believes in his dream of singing, dancing, and making people happy. He also knows that the dream gets better "the more people you share it with." Therefore, he willingly takes on the role of leader with his friends, because all the insanity is what makes his dreams actually happen.


"If frogs couldn't hop, I'd be gone with the Schwinn." -Kermit the Frog

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter

I had a couple of pen pals in elementary school. I don't remember their names or anything about them. I don't even remember where one of them was from. The only one I can really recall was a girl who attended Raleigh Park, another school in our district, and I met her face-to-face when our classes went to Skateworld together. She was my "buddy" that day. But I suppose I always thought that "pen pals" were a thing of my distant past.

I was wrong.

Most of you know I reactivated my facebook account last month, so that's not much of a shock. And thanks to a case of mistaken identity last Friday morning, I made a new friend via facebook. I won't get into the details of how it all came to pass, but suffice it to say, that at age 26, I have a pen pal. And thanks to the speed of this electronic age, as opposed to the "dark ages" back in elementary school when we used a pen and paper and the post office  (gasp!) delivered letters, the number of messages exchanged has already jumped a good amount. But I'm always one for making new friends, so the whole experience has been a positive one for me ... and for all with whom I have shared this funny and wholly unexpected situation.

And, even better than was the case in elementary school, this poor soul doesn't have to decipher my handwriting. For which I am sure he is grateful.


"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying that I approved of it." -Mark Twain

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Then Comes Marriage ...

... and then there was one. And that one was me. After some good storms hit our area, the weather was kind enough to clear up and produce a beautiful day for Esther's wedding yesterday. I could easily get into what went awry with plans and everything else regarding the wedding and the reception and the luggage (note to self: do not leave open luggage on the floor where your family dog could relieve himself on your clothes), but I won't. Suffice it to say, we were kept pretty busy (and sometimes more than a little stressed) making sure the day was gotten through with some smoothness. But all in all, it was a very good day.

 Jeremie and Sabra love each other

Waiting for our turn for official pictures.
I brought snacks.
And they were sure a hit!

Noah's work with the Easy Cheese

Gotta have a shot of the girls

Yes, Esther's eyes are very wide, but believe it or not, this was the most decent picture of just the two of us.

By the time I got home last night, I was quite exhausted. Happy, but very relieved the day was over. (although i'm sure my relief was nothing in comparison to others who were even more involved with the wedding.) And Douglas (my car, just to remind y'all) was glad to finally have a break, considering he was in a lot of use when I was the errand-runner ... quite a few times. Each wedding I attend teaches me a little something about what I want and don't want, so here's to valuable lessons, such as the idea to just skip the bouquet toss altogether, because I can't think of a single girl I know (especially including myself) who enjoys being a part of that tradition. But congratulations to Esther and Kelly!

On a tiny note of vanity, while participating more in ward sports activities is fun and a good work-out, I can't say as I'm a fan of the bumps and bruises that come in conjunction with that participation. Especially that stinking bruise on my left arm from a collision playing basketball last week. It's the first thing I see when looking at pictures ... grr.


 "It's the friends you call up at four a.m. that matter." -Marlene Dietrich

Friday, April 23, 2010

Can't Take My Eyes Off of You

Part of the joy of the Muppets is the background characters of their universe. They don't necessarily get a lot of screen time, but when they do, they know how to use it. These characters range from monsters to rats to near-humans, but they're all just as lovable as the main characters, and they have just as much to teach us.

Sweetums. What a name for such a creature. He was ironically named by an evil witch in the Muppet TV special of The Frog Prince (a few years before The Muppet Show debuted). And his demeanor didn't lend itself too well to being regarded as a cuddly creature. But Sweetums, through the years, teaches us that we shouldn't judge by the outside appearance. As a Muppet Monster, he still enjoys some rampaging and mayhem (just take a look at him dancing with Ruth Buzzi!), but at heart, Sweetums reflects his name accurately. He loves to be part of the group, as reflected by his chase of the Muppets across the country in The Muppet Movie, and he is gentle with creatures not-so-large, such as youngster Robin.

Pepe is one of the newer additions to the Muppet world, but he has quickly established himself as a key component, thanks to his off-color remarks and pride in his status as a King Prawn. Pepe is probably a little deceived in his self-perception, but we can most definitely learn about how to have a healthy self-image from him. He refuses to be recognized as less than he is, frequently correcting others when they dare to call him a shrimp. He also has high hopes for himself, and isn't deterred from the path to his dreams by uneasiness or self-doubt.

The Swedish Chef is a classic staple of the Muppet diet, and is one of the special characters to be operated by two Muppeteers, thanks to the requirement that he use both of his hands when teaching an audience how to cook. His concoctions don't quite work out the way he'd prefer, like when the eggs he wants to use bounce like ping-pong balls or when a moose shows up in his kitchen when he's trying to make ... can you guess it? ... chocolate mousse. Despite these set-backs, the Muppets embrace him and his culture, even understanding his garbled version of Swedish. No translation required. They recognize all he has to offer because of his distinctive cultural heritage. He brings diversity to the already-varied Muppet set in his own special way, and we can always stand more diversity in our lives.


"Bork, bork, bork!" -The Swedish Chef

Monday, April 19, 2010

Never Before ... and Never Again

Girl power. Think it originated with the Spice Girls? Wrong!!! I don't know when or where it began, but I can guarantee it existed before 1997. (is that when the spice girls were popular?) How do I know it existed before that time? Simple. Because the concept of Girl Power was manifest in a single Muppet long before the Spice Girls came to exist. That Muppet? The one and only Miss Piggy.

Miss Piggy began as a background character in the Muppet theater. No one was aware of the diva hiding within until she came out of the woodwork, chasing frogs, karate-chopping rivals (or anyone who dared insult her, really), and trying to out-sing monsters. If you were worried about having a strong female role model in the Muppet universe, worry no more. This porker wouldn't put up with Link Hogthrob's sexist comments in Pigs in Space, and proved she was just as competent (if not more so) as her comrades on the "Swinetrek". When a purse-snatcher dared to steal her bag, she ran him down on Gregory Hines' roller skates, eyes (hilariously) ablaze with mad power. She easily tossed ill-fated bystanders into lakes, single-handedly dispatched Mel Brooks' thugs, and performed her own stunts (climbing up a building, crashing a motorcycle through a window).

But don't let her actions fool you. Despite her manic behavior, Miss Piggy never let people forget she was a lady. If you follow her fashion sense through the years, she never strayed far from the trends in how she wore her hair or the outfits that graced her person (well, person in a manner of speaking). Her relentless pursuit of poor Kermit were just expressions of how well a woman can love, even if she doesn't do so very wisely. And she was always quick to return to prim and proper behavior ... once her violent rampages had passed.

Don't worry, girls. You can learn a lot from Miss Piggy about being a woman. Well, maybe you shouldn't absorb absolutely everything that Miss Piggy can teach you (losing your temper is definitely something you can omit from her instruction). But no matter what kind of woman you want to be, Miss Piggy can give you a valuable push in the right direction, because she definitely believes in Girl Power.


"Next time they want stunts, they get a double!" -Miss Piggy

Saturday, April 17, 2010

April Showers Will Come, So They Say

I think Utah springs will always baffle me. Always. Last Saturday, I was out playing ultimate frisbee and feeling like I was going to get baked in the sun. Tuesday morning, I was scraping snow off my car once more. That snow was melted by about noon that day, but still. And now we're back to Saturday, and the last two days have been around 70 degrees and I was back out playing ultimate again today. Baffling. But I'm counting my blessings. At least I'm not trying to travel to Europe at the moment. Wow.

Not a terribly exciting week, I'm afraid. Monday night was fun with my cousins at Brick Oven. We had absolutely no problem making noise and chugging down some excellent root beer. Our waiter was most impressed by us. And Thursday night took me up to Midvale with some others in the ward for my friend Peter's birthday dinner. Special occasions are always good.

I mention ultimate because I think it's pretty funny how bad I am at it. There aren't many things that I'll be bad at and still remain happy despite my ineptitude, but I've accepted frisbee-tossing as one my weaknesses (another one is bowling). Today was a big improvement over last week, at least. But I can't guarantee that the upward swing will continue, because today might have just been miraculous luck. Either way, it's fun to have an actual purpose to running, rather than just going out for a jog and cursing my body for not staying in shape when I don't do anything to help it along. ;)


"The trouble with jogging is that, by the time you realize that you're not in shape for it, it's too far to walk back." -Franklin P. Jones

Friday, April 16, 2010

They're Marley and Marley

All right, here I go. I'm following Muppet footsteps and going slightly off the beaten path. The next post is more of an anti-lesson, what we don't want to be like. Which should make these two curmudgeonly old souls happy, because they would probably be horrified to think I would ever lump them with the Muppets. Of whom do I speak? Well, who else but the bane of Fozzie Bear's existence, Statler and Waldorf?

Although entertaining in their own right, thanks to their mocking remarks from the balcony of the Muppet Theater, I think we should try our best not to emulate Statler and Waldorf's philosophy on life as they get older. (oh, for those who never know the difference between the two, waldorf's got the mustache. and a wife named astoria. waldorf astoria! get it?!?!?) These two refuse to find anything good about the Muppets' antics on stage. Their commentary isn't merely restricted to poking fun at Fozzie's act, but extends to all the Muppets. The only time they're silenced or goaded into positive statements is under the threat of physical harm, such as Gonzo crashing a motorcycle into the balcony or Miss Piggy demanding which performers they cheer for (and who wants to go up against miss piggy, really?).

Don't get me wrong. I laugh every time they come on-screen. But do I want to be a cranky old woman just as they are cranky old men? Probably not. I'd like to have a sense of humor, but not at the expense of others. They're not ashamed of being old goats, but goodness, did they have to age so ungracefully? Take this as a lesson, boys and girls. When you get older, don't use your age as an excuse to belittle and heckle others, no matter how funny it is. I'll excuse Statler and Waldorf because they are, indeed, fictional and funny as anything else on the Muppet stage. They don't even let death stop them from teasing Michael Caine in The Muppet Christmas Carol. But don't let's follow that example as we get older and slightly wiser.


"Would you believe it, Statler? They're heroes! Now they're gonna be obnoxious!" -Waldorf
"So, what else is new? Well, I say all's well that ends well." -Statler
"Oh, it doesn't matter to me, as long as it ends." -Waldorf

Monday, April 12, 2010

I'm Five ... Next Month

All right, I'm going to be kind of eager and write another Muppet post about thirty seconds after finishing my last one. But what can I say? Eager is a good word for the happy, enthusiastic, and youthful member of the Muppets for whom I harbor a special affection: Robin the Frog. (no, he's not my favorite, but you can't help but feel something special for the kid.)

Robin is the famous Kermit's nephew, and he is a bundle of energy, eager to please, eager to perform, and eager to tattle on you if you don't let him on stage. Robin's innocence and youthful outlook on life can inspire those of us who have become a little jaded as we've added a few years to our bodies. (yes, yes, i'm only 26 ... but that's older than robin's supposed to be!) Robin feels that he's easily overlooked because he's so small and takes drastic measures in response, such as deciding to run away. But he's immediately drawn back into line when Kermit says, "I'm gonna get your father!" (which begs the question, if kermit is robin's uncle, who's the sibling of kermit, robin's mom or dad?)

Whether singing a quiet, contemplative song like "Halfway Up the Stairs" or exuberantly showing his uncle Kermit a Fraggle hole he discovers, Robin reminds us of our childhood, a time when we were daring and sang out, a time when we reveled in exploration, and a time that we just couldn't wait to grow up.

He also reminds us of some of the timeless lessons that come "out of the mouths of babes", especially as Tiny Tim in The Muppet Christmas Carol. As Bob Cratchit (kermit) reports to his wife (miss piggy), Robin as Tiny Tim hopes that others see him at the church because then they can remember " ... upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk and blind men see." And as he so wisely and happily observes to his family, "God bless us, everyone." Okay, those lessons could be argued to come from Charles Dickens and not Robin, but can you picture any other Muppet who fits the bill for optimistic Tiny Tim as well as Robin does?

So, even though we're older (and some of us grayer), let's remember to be a little more like Robin and enjoy life as a child does, willing to learn, eager to explore, and happy to be alive.


"I'm gonna get an agent! I'm gonna get a lawyer!" -Robin
"I'm gonna get your father." -Kermit
"I'm gonna get right out there and learn this cute little song." -Robin

The Ever-Loyal Friend

We all have friends that we can count on through thick and thin, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. But there was never such a friend as the monosyllabic Beaker.

The Muppets all have strong ties to each other and demonstrate loyalty. In fact, I had a hard time not using Fozzie and Kermit's friendship as the prime example of camaraderie. But then I thought to myself, good golly, Beaker sure takes loyalty and friendship to an all-time high. Either that, or he's a masochist in disguise. Poor Beaker endures all sorts of tests from the "genius" of Bunsen Honeydew, such as being shrunk, cloned, deflated, turned invisible, and blown up, to name a few. What makes him come back for more? Really. I'd love to know.

Since I prefer to think of the Muppets in a positive light, I have to assume that Beaker timidly comes back each time to Muppet Labs because that's just the kind of friend he is. He forgives and forgets (he must forget), even when a special elixir Dr. Honeydew has created causes his entire head of hair to pop right off. He endures electrocution on behalf of all the Muppets, yet still plods on, head smoking, body trembling, and eyes lit up like the 4th of July. Talk about the ultimate friend.

Dr. Honeydew better appreciate the kind of friend he has in his "faithful assistant" Beaker, and I think we all should appreciate those friends in our lives who demonstrate the same kind of faith in us, even when we blow them up accidentally. Because, after all, wouldn't we be gladly blown up accidentally for our friends? (provided we are well and whole in the next episode of "muppet labs", of course.)


"Meep-meep, meep-meep-meep!" -Beaker

Thursday, April 8, 2010

There's a Party Going On Right Here

Phew! What a weekend. Really good. Really busy. I couldn't believe how exhausted I was at the end of it! But it was totally worth the effort. I think some people wouldn't necessarily buy the story that I would be exhausted when I spent four hours both Saturday and Sunday watching television, but conference is hardly the kind of thing that you just sit back and relax for. And boy, was it good. Well, it always is, but it was really good this time around, too. Yay!

Unbelievable. First, who would think to give me a Jim Henson book? -blushes-
Everybody, but this one's from Esther.

Second, this is Becky the day after she had surgery!

Birthday festivities were excellent. What a shock, for dinner my friends and I went to Carrabbas. Man, whenever it is I might move out of this area, whatever am I going to do for birthday dinner? Hmm. I could always make sure I'm in Oregon and force Mom to make me Thai food again. I'm sure she'd love that. Anyway, dinner was quite yummy and I was glad to be surrounded by good friends. We adjourned to my place after dinner for the ice cream cake that, despite Esther's insistence that it was terrible, was yummy and awesome. All in all, getting pampered a bit, not going to work, and being with my friends added up to a good kick-off to year number 26!

Me and Jay at Carrabbas

And candles. (is everyone noting my hair? i got a haircut and my stylist did it special for my birthday. i felt pretty.)

Saturday evening was Esther's bridal shower, and it ended up being a small-ish affair. Esther was pretty happy with who came and I think it was a successful night, but goodness, I had lots of food left. Oh, well. Just meant that I was sure to have fruit for the next week. And I managed to coerce the others to make me leave the Costco cake behind. Thank goodness. I don't want to know what would have happened had I actually taken it back home with me.

Sweet girls at the party. Rebecca and the bride-to-be.
Becky and Alicia
Esther's sisters Mary and Rachel and her mom, Doris (they're drawing esther's "dream house")

Easter Sunday brought some cousins to my door for dinner. This wasn't a surprise; I invited them. Oh, I love that meal of ham and funeral potatoes. Mmm, funeral potatoes. Was there ever a better way to prepare that delicious tuberous crop? I'm not sure there is. Anyway, I was pretty thrilled when I made it and it turned out to be oh-so-scrumptious. I have a pretty fantastic family. This I have known for years and years, but it's fun to have a reminder like Sunday.

By the time Steph left, I was ready for the weekend to be over and to have some time where I wasn't preparing for another event that I was in charge of. I was happy to do everything that I did, but good golly, it's been nice to have a rest for a bit. Now I'm re-charged and ready for the next adventure, whatever that may be.


"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people." -Orson Welles

Movin' Right Along

I'm sure that we've all felt like giving up at different times in our lives. Something has come our way that, while worthwhile, is just really hard to try and get through. Something we would like or love to do is just not happening. But should we give up? Not if we're following in the furry, fuzzy, fabulous footsteps of one Fozzie Bear.

Fozzie is the Muppets' resident comedian. And he's terrible at it. Usually it's only by chance that he stumbles onto a funny joke, and unfortunately, thanks to the jeering and heckling in the upper balcony by two stodgy old men, seems to generate more laughter at his expense than anything else. But there is one thing that Fozzie loves: the stage. All the Muppet performers love the stage, but I would argue that Fozzie loves it the most. How else could we justify his persistence in coming back again and again, even withstanding the metaphorical tomato toss (and sometimes, not so metaphorical)? Fozzie keeps on going, and so should we. After all, who goes the longest distance with Kermit in The Muppet Movie to reach their dream of making it in Hollywood? It's most definitely Fozzie.

Perhaps his greatest triumph is when he inspires others to persist through their difficult times. In response to the quick (and, frankly, reasonable) withdrawal of Muppet support to a scheme to rescue the "fabulous Baseball Diamond" from crooks in The Great Muppet Caper, Fozzie retaliates against those with less-than-iron wills. "Shaaaaaaame on you," he scolds. "I'm just as scared as you are, but this has to be done. We don't want the bad guys to win!" After a rousing and inspirational speech laden with determination and encouragement, he motivates all the Muppets to face danger, even evoking Floyd's response of "Oh, hey, I was only joking. Yeah, it'll be a lot of fun to go out there and risk our lives." (even sam is impressed.)

So if ever you feel like giving up on your dreams or getting that darn lid off the pickle jar, remember that Fozzie wouldn't give up, and neither should you.


"Did I get my elbow in the shot?" -Fozzie
"Don't worry. It adds human interest." -Gonzo
"But I'm a bear." -Fozzie

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Hundred Years to Live

Well, since it's been a little while since I've actually posted something about myself, having dedicated my last three posts to another subject entirely (i will not write out the m-word here), I think I'll write a quick note about what I've been up to while I've got the time, having taken the day off of work. No, I'm not sick. It's Alec Guinness's birthday (the original obi-wan kenobi, for you who are sadly lacking in your star wars knowledge). Which means it's also mine. Which means I don't want to work today. So I didn't. So there. (i can't believe i'm 26 ... man, i'm ol- ... young still.)

I didn't realize I was such a sporty person. I mean, I've played sports, I like sports, and I sure liked gloating over my Kelly family when I was still on top of the Tournament Challenge (holding fast at number 19 now). But I don't remember the last time I was a spectator at an actual game, and last weekend, I was a spectator twice! Friday night I headed up to Salt Lake with my pal Jay to go to a Utah Grizzlies game (hockey) with his sister and her kids. I'm pretty sure my ears were semi-damaged from the noise, but I believe I've recovered.

Then Saturday, while I was out running errands, I was stopped at a red light on Univ. Parkway when I heard a car honking in the lane next to me. My first thought? "Hey, weirdo, traffic isn't moving because the light is red. That's the law." And then I heard yelling from the same car, so my curiosity was piqued enough to turn my head and I was astonished to realize that I was the intended target of the honking! Yay for the Hodgmans! And Steph -- way to recognize me! Anyway, they were headed to a baseball game at BYU and told me to come along when I was available. After a quick stop, I was very available, so I ended up going to a baseball game and spending time with not only some Hodgmans, but some Swensons and Kellys, too! Totally random, but an awesome afternoon with my family. (the weather was great, too, so that worked out well.)

This week has been kind of busy with me making plans and running errands and going to church stuff -- a lot of preparation for this weekend and the events planned therein. But I'm good with busy. I like busy. I'm happier when I'm busy. So yay for busy! I made some fabulous cookies and managed to give them all away, with three exceptions. (those three i ate myself.) I like cookies, possibly a little too much. Darn my feminine weakness for chocolate! Oh, well. At least I got rid of most of them. And with that said, I'm going to get back to my, I mean, Alec Guinness's birthday. Hope you all enjoy it!


"A friend never defends a husband who gets his wife an electric skillet for her birthday." -Erma Bombeck

At Times Like This, I am Proud to be an American

When you think of America as a nation, what comes to your mind? Probably not a Muppet, but if you're an American, if you're a patriot, you are in league with a morally upstanding eagle named Sam. (appropriate, eh?) As the Muppets' designated "moral center", Sam is humorously conservative in his attempts to force, er ... help ... the Muppets be more cultural and wholesome. He approves of old-time art, but when it comes to something like lady wrestlers (as kermit sheepishly informs him is on the list of acts for an evening), he shuts the door on that faster than you can say "endangered species".

What is unfortunate for Sam is that his efforts are wholely futile. The Muppets will insist on being so-called weirdos, shoving pie into his face when he discourses on receiving his "just desserts" or making him dress up like Elton John after he asks, "Why does he dress like a stolen car?" (at least he's still in red, white, and blue when he does so.)

While we can't all envy his position within the Muppet realm, we can admire his integrity to stick to his moral compass, however naively he tries to guide others along it. We also can emulate his ability to believe in the good ol' USA. Sure, there are problems in the country (and don't let's start on that), but there's still something to be said for patriotism and the proud swelling of feathers when that anthem plays. Sam knows that. Even when out of his natural habitat of America, he will not be swayed, as shown when he attempts to teach a young Ebenezer Scrooge in The Muppet Christmas Carol that business is "the American way" (prompting a whispered correction from narrator gonzo to say, "it is the british way").

So, sing out loud and clear when you see that grand old flag, because Sam would want it that way ... and he's got to catch a break some time.


"You are all ... weirdos!" -Sam the Eagle, The Great Muppet Caper