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Friday, June 21, 2013

*NEW* My Journey As A Muppet Fan Part VII: I’m Going To Go Back There Someday by Nicholas Napoli

My Journey As A Muppet Fan Part VII:
I’m Going To Go Back There Someday

My Great Muppet Caper had come to end and as my plane began to land I could see the Rock forming below my feet. I was only there one week yet I had met Bill, Steve, Kermit, Pepe, Martin, Debbie, Heidi, Muppet Fans and even a few Muppet Weirdoes. This had been the best week of my life and I just wanted the weeks to follow to remain being just as special. I had waited so long for this experience and believed that one day it would happen but when it finally did I couldn’t believe it. As I walked out the terminal I thought to myself is this the end?

Will I ever get my chance to meet Gonzo? Will I ever get to dance with the real Miss Piggy? Will I ever share a Big Mac with Martin? I promised myself I was going to go back there someday little did I know that day was just around the corner as the Muppets were preparing to travel to England very, very soon. My sister Stacey collected me at the airport in her car and when she showed up she reminded me that the Muppets are everywhere I go.




I had arrived back on Friday just in time for my nephew’s baptism the next day, not even the Muppets were going to make me miss this and I came with a present. We had a wonderful time that day but now that he had been baptised it was time to move onto the second part of his journey… transforming him into a Muppet Fan. Gibraltar is a very small country with a population of only 30,000 so when you put something up on FaceBook you’ve got to be ready for the fact that everybody in Gibraltar is going to see it. Everyone was so happy for me and congratulated me after the baptism for living my dream and meeting my idols. Since I was a little boy I’ve always been known as the Muppet Kid, if you ask anyone in Gibraltar who the Muppet Kid is they’ll know who you’re talking about.




Anytime the Muppet appear on television I always get over twenty phone calls letting me know what it is I’m missing. Remember those milk commercials with Pepe? You have no idea how many people called me telling me that Pepe had a flying magic potato. I still remember my cousin Steven calling me over twenty years ago overly excited informing me that on Cartoon Network he had seen an advert for a new Muppet Christmas Movie and Kermit and Miss Piggy had children… I didn’t even know Miss Piggy was pregnant. I was only six at the time so I remember going to the cinema expecting to see a Christmas movie with a pregnant Miss Piggy giving birth and had this whole story imagined inside my head. That is why I wasn’t a big fan of The Muppets Christmas Carol when I first saw it but now I appreciate it so much more, it was a great tribute. I was too young at the time to know what an adaption was or that Jim Henson and Richard Hunt had passed so to me at that age it was simply a dark Muppet movie missing many of my favourite Muppet characters.




June 2012 I was reintroduce to the Muppet Babies after many years and now I had an excuse to watch Muppet Babies unashamed and without headphones. One day my sister Kaylie told me that my Little Gobo was able to stay focused on television programs knowing what he likes watching and what he doesn’t. Apparently he’s a big fan of anything with cartoons as my sister proved when she turned on the TV to the news channel and my nephew was not interested one bit, he could care less if there was traffic into Spain from Gibraltar he just wanted to be entertained. My sister then put on cartoons and his eyes widened and for those five minutes he did not blink once.

I now had an experiment I wanted to conduct, I started off with Bear in the Big Blue House, his eyes wide open. I then put Ernie singing Rubber Duckie and his eyes opened even wider.

Eventually I put on Muppet Babies, not only did his eyes look like they were going to pop out but he began kicking his legs in the air too. I left Muppet Babies on for twenty minutes and seriously for those twenty minutes he would not stop kicking the air. I didn’t put a second episode because I didn’t want him kicking his legs for another twenty minutes, his heart was racing but he couldn’t care less. When I then went to put back the original cartoons what did he do? He had a tantrum! I’m so proud of him and the next day I was even prouder because he showed up at my house dressed like this…




My dream holiday was over and so was the weekend and now it was time to return to the real world. I displayed my new English Muppet merchandise alongside the rest of my collection and when Monday came I was back counting down the hours on the clock waiting to go home. After getting a taste of something you’ve been after for so long you realise that life is just too short to be doing something you’re not happy doing. No matter how essential it might be, if you’re not happy doing it just don’t to it yet don’t give up and eventually you’ll find yourself waking up every morning eager to start the day. I had faced many problems at work which is understandable when you work for the devil and after My Great Muppet Caper I wasn’t going to stand for any more bullshit.

It was so damn hot and I just wanted my summer to be all about my nephew and the Muppets!




I remember standing inside my Muppet Room for the first time since I had arrived back from England and it was a totally different experience. I had met Kermit and Pepe and now my Kermit and Pepe toys seemed like an accomplished goal rather than a childhood dream I could not wake up from. Standing in my Muppet Room I now felt confident, I was proud of the person I had become and for the first time ever I no longer felt the urge to hide my Muppet Collection from the outside world. I was proud of my collection, I was ready to show it off, I was ready to come out of the Muppet closet, I am a Muppet Fan and I want the whole world to know I’m proud of it. I now felt like a cool travelling Uncle Matt who had puppeteered Pepe the King Prawn, met Kermit the Frog, shared noodles with Martin and had brought him Muppet gifts all the way from London just before and right after he was born… Beat that Aunty Stacey! Thanks to Pepe and Kermit I not only found my inspiration but also the happiness and confidence I needed until I blossomed into a beautiful permanent  confident flower of my own... now I can grow without anyone having to water me.




I now watch anything to do with The Muppets with a completely different feeling knowing I’ve spoken to two of the men responsible for bringing many of my favourite characters to life. One of the firsts things I did after returning back to the Rock was have a solo Muppet movie marathon which I had wanted to do for years. I had watched all the Muppet movies multiple times before but I had never watched them all in order back to back also including the Christmas specials and Muppets Wizard of Oz. One day in June I did exactly that, I just sat in my sitting room all day enjoying every movie the Muppets had made since 1979 all the way up to 2011. The day after my Muppet Movie marathon my sister Kaylie stopped by the house with my nephew and luckily for me she had to pop out a moment allowing me the responsibility of babysitting my nephew. Kaylie left and fifteen minutes later she came back home and for some unknown reason decided to look through photos on a digital camera she had found on the table. Suddenly she looks up at me and says you’re never babysitting again, we both laughed but until this day I have since not babysat my nephew again. I imagine you want to know what photo she found on the camera….




Since I had arrived back to Gibraltar I could not stop dwelling on the fact that I had not paid for lunch whilst in London so I decided to send a thank you package to Bill and family and another one for Steve to show my appreciation towards them. I had bought replicas of your typical red London phone box whilst in London and with a little help from Stacey I was able to fit a Kermit action figure inside one of them and a Johnny Fiama action figure inside the other. I then added a few more gifts, wrote a thank you letter and then my family stopped me from making a fool of myself. “You can’t send Bill and Steve frozen lasagnes” said my Mom and then Stacey suggested that I shouldn’t send them hand cream either.

I thought it was a very clever and original gift to send a Muppeteer yet they stopped me and I’m actually glad they did. I sent them my “thank you package” and soon after Bill replied with an even better thank you letter… I’m going to have to send him another box of stuff.

 




When I had come back in June I told my family and friends about my seizure back in London but since I’m known to be a bit of an exaggerator they assumed just that. Nobody believed me and to be honest I really had no idea what I was talking about all I knew was I never wanted to feel like that again.

A month later during July I proved them I wasn’t lying when during a family dinner I went full seizure right on top of the roast. When I woke up I was surrounded by potatoes and unfamiliar faces, this time they weren’t waiters they were the paramedics. An ambulance had arrived and was waiting right outside my house to take me to hospital. Once again I must have passed out as the next thing I know I’m waking up in a hospital bed. This time my family were witnesses to what had happened to me and it was nothing to joke about as we had been doing… I was seriously ill and slowly it was only going to get much worse. September 8get the Muppet presents I was expecting I had another seizure. This one lasted five minutes, I tore my tongue to shreds, I became completely paralyzed, my mouth began jerking and when I woke up I could barely remember who I was.            





Slowly my pin codes and telephone number started coming back to me and even though my doctor insisted I begin taking tablets for epilepsy I was still convinced it was something completely different.

Every time I had these seizures I would wake up able to use parts of my brain which normally can’t be used. The average person uses up only about 10% of their brain power but every time I had a seizure let’s just say I woke up using like 40% of my brain power and trust me it’s not something you want to be able to do. There is a specific reason that we have evolved using only a small fraction of this incredible tool known as the brain, the reason behind this being that we wouldn’t know that2012 I turned twenty-six years old and when I didn’t how to handle ourselves with that much power. This is basically why “gifted people” end up going crazy because it reaches the point that even though you might be sleeping your body is resting but your brain is on the go 24/7 and having a rested mind is just as important as having a rested body.
Basically I was losing my mind.




My days soon become twenty-four hours long, my body was feeling all these strange sensations and my mind was constantly telling me what to do. I was worried that I was going crazy, just recently I’ve learned that after having a seizure people generally use up more of their brain power during that period so maybe I’m not crazy after all. As strange as this all sounds trust me it’ll eventually lead back to the Muppets. It wasn’t until December after I had four seizures in a row and my heart almost stopped that I decided maybe it was finally time I start taking my tablets and happily enough it worked… sort of. Since then I’ve no longer had visible seizures where I shake, bite my tongue to shreds or stay without the ability to move yet on the inside my seizures were still hitting strong. I spent the end of 2012 randomly passing out every now and again, losing my memory and slowly going crazy, my doctors had given me a shortcut but I still wasn’t fixed.

 




Imagine an old house which is deteriorating both on the inside and the outside. You can paint the outside, add a nice door, fix the windows and plant some flowers outside. Those looking from
the outside will believe that the house has been improved and that they could actually even live in it. Yet the truth is it’s still a mess on the inside, it’s inhabitable, it’s falling to bits and soon that beautiful paint job on the outside will also be gone once the house falls apart inside. On the outside I seemed fine but on the inside I was only getting worse and everybody I was going to see were simply making me feel as though I should accept what was happening to me. Honestly I was so tired, angry, confused and broken that I was about ready to listen to them. I was losing my mind or rather my mind was taking control of my body and I had no say in the matter. I couldn’t go on like this anymore so with the help of my parents I came to the conclusion that I would have to visit a specialist which meant leaving my Rock behind and flying to England and funnily enough some of the Muppets were already there.





It had been a really long, fun, painful, interesting, surprising rollercoaster of a year where I had visited England twice after not leaving my rock for twenty-six years (apart from my little trip to
Muppet Vision 3D). In February 2013 we celebrated that it had been a year since me and my father had travelled to England together to buy Pepe and remove my Dad’s kidney stones.

Soon it would be June and I would be celebrating the one year anniversary since I lost my Muppet virginity. It hadn’t even been a year since I had My Great Muppet Caper but to me it felt like a lifetime had passed. By this time we all already knew that the Muppets would be filming a new movie in London but what might surprise you was the fact that they had been there since December 2012. I thought I had travelled a lot to London in the last year but poor Bill Barretta had been there in June and before the year was up he’d move over for almost six months.

By this time I had also become very good friends with Pepita the Queen Prawn, in fact had it not been for her I’d have nothing to write about.

I was eager to return to see Bill again and meet Cristina for the first time. Cristina is one of the four people who helped save my life and had it not been for these special four I would not be here right now. The funny thing is that being such a huge Muppet Fan was about to save my life. I was about to begin my journey which had been a long time in the making, the cycle had started when I was three years old and became a Muppet Fan. All my life I had been obsessed with the Muppets to the point where at times I thought they had ruined my life but honestly had it not been for The Muppets I’d be dead. You’ll soon realise this isn’t your ordinary Muppet Fan Story.

Like all of you I knew about The Muppets…. Again! long before March 2013 so by this point I was freaking out over the new movie. I wanted to be on set, I wanted to see Ricky Gervais perform alongside the Muppets. I also wanted to meet Dave, Matt, Eric, David and the rest of the Muppets. I was now actually eager to return to London for my doctor’s appointment because not only might I find out what was wrong with me but I’d get to meet The Muppets…. Again! As they filmed their new movie The Muppets… Again!




It was finally settled I was returning to England and at some point would be visiting the set of the Muppets latest London caper. This time things were different, I was not travelling on my own, I was so sick and weak that my Mom and sister joined me, the last thing I needed was to have another seizure alone in London. My family have been forced to watch The Muppet Show over and over and
over and over again. For years they have been forced to hear Muppet music to the point where they now whistle the tune when they think they are alone in the house. When we were young I used to play with my sisters “Guess The Muppet” where I pretended to be a game show host and described various Muppets. When one of my sisters knew the answer they had to either be the first one to “Meep-Meep or “Wocka-Wocka” and they would get the chance to guess first. My sisters are also Muppet Fans, they were forced by me to watch The Muppets growing up but they became fans on their own. Both my sisters can name every single Muppet, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock and Bear in the Big Blue House characters. They can even tell the difference between Tattooey Rat, Masterson Rat and Chester Rat… I’m so proud of them. Even though Dad and Kaylie weren’t joining me I still felt as if at least I were paying back my Mom and Stacey for years of putting up with my Muppet Fandom.

March 5th finally came around and my Mom, Stacey and myself boarded a plane and made our way to London hoping to get answers, meet Cristina, reunite with Bill and most importantly have a
crazy Muppet adventure. To make matters even more exciting the day before we left for England I found out Louise Gold and Annie-Sue Pig were returning to the Muppets….might I actually have the
chance to meet Louise Gold? It was all just too much excitement and I was too weak to handle it so I did what everyone had been telling me to do for the past year and I meditated on my plane ride to England. It was finally happening I was flying back to London for My Great Muppet Caper…. Again!

 - Nicholas Napoli

 



Thanking Nicholas so much for Part VII.

My Journey As A Muppet Fan Part VIII:
My Great Muppet Caper...Again!
coming next week!


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