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Friday, August 02, 2013

*NEW* My Journey As A Muppet Fan Part XI: My Great Muppet Caper… Again and Again by Nicholas Napoli

My Journey As A Muppet Fan Part XI:
My Great Muppet Caper… Again and Again

I still remember how excited I was when I first heard the Muppets were returning to the big screen after twelve years.

We were all so happy sharing our dreams and hopes for the upcoming Muppet movie and then this teaser poster was revealed and we all went crazy…. remember?


We had so much to say about it and now it’s simply a picture you sometime come across on your Muppet Google adventures. Thanksgiving 2011 could not come any sooner and being over a year away I still had plenty of time to wait. Finally the wait was over and Thanksgiving had arrived! I’m from Europe and we don’t even celebrate Thanksgiving so why was I so excited?  The Muppets was finally released in theatres after years of teasing us and it was the best damn Thanksgiving ever even though I didn’t get to see the movie until three months later… I’m so glad they’ve filmed the new one in England. Muppets Fans finally had a new Muppet Movie we could discuss and that is exactly what we did all throughout 2012. Luckily the world didn’t come to an end because honestly we probably would have wasted our last year watching the new movie over and over again. We all waited excitedly for Thanksgiving 2011 and the wait was so long we thought the day would never come and now it seems like it was so long ago. 2012 is in the past and we don’t care about it anymore… we want something new and happily for us we’re getting it!





It was my third trip to London in under a year and just as I had done the first time I came alone which meant I had to watch out for Herbert. I barley had any money so I went to the Happiness
Hotel and asked them for directions to the Sadness Hotel because honestly I didn’t have the extra cash lying around to be happy. My hotel wasn’t that bad if you forget the fact that there was no
elevator and I was on the top floor. Every day I counted 226 steps on my way up and then again on my way down… the worst part was nobody helped me carry my luggage. When I walked into
the room I came face to face with a toilet? The bathroom was right opposite the entrance door so basically I couldn’t jump out of my show outside into the hallway if I wanted too. I put down my
luggage and tried to be positive about the situation and thought to myself “at least I don’t have to share my bathroom with others”.





I unpacked my cloths and placed the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door because I was so tired I didn’t even want my neighbour coming over asking for a cup of sugar.

I settled in and went straight to sleep eager to wake up the next day to visit Dr Grant and find out officially if I was as healthy as I felt. The next morning I was eager to start the day, go to my appointment and then walk around Oxford Street buying myself some Muppets. I jumped out of bed and made my way to the bathroom happily knowing I could leave the door open and not have to worry about Herbert like last time. Herbert might have not been there but when I stripped out of my cloths and went to jump into the shower I realised one thing hadn’t changed… cheap hotels have no hot water. The water was freezing and there was no way I was going to get into that shower but I hadn’t washed myself since I got off the plane. I picked up the shampoo rubbed it over my head and under my armpits and then bent over with my upper body inside the shower and my bare ass exposed to the front door as I proceeded to wash myself.

All of a sudden I hear “AIEEK!!!!” I turn around and a maid is standing right behind me “por mi madre desculpame señor”. I had no idea what to do but maybe turning around wasn’t the best idea…
 
“AIEEK”. I had just given the maid a full free show and if she asked for an encore all that was left or me to show her were the bottom of my feet. After the maid left I decided to just jump into the freezing shower and get it over and done with.





Soon after I was ready to start my day, I removed the “Do Not Disturb” sign which I no longer saw the point in using and waited outside my door for the bus to arrive and take me to the bottom of
the stairs. Sadly the bus never came and I was forced to begin my journey by foot through the dark never ending stairwell where you would find no windows or a single ray of light…

I really need to stop staying in these cheap hotels. Halfway down the stairs I tripped, twisted my ankle, banged my head against the wall, bent my arm and rolled down the rest of the 113 steps into the lobby and the funny thing was nobody helped me up.



 
The day hadn’t started to well for me and I just hoped my luck would turn around by the time I arrived at Dr Grant’s clinic.

Two wrong buses later I arrived at Cavendish Square and eagerly made my way to see Dr Grant hoping I would get the news I was expecting. After I performed my song I eagerly waited for the judge’s response and those mere seconds seemed like a life time. I began sweating, I began fidgeting, I was making a complete full of myself but at least I wasn’t on national TV. Dr Grant walked up to me and presented me with a rose… I had moved on to the next level, I was finally cured! It had been an exciting yet rough year for me and I seriously thought I would have to live this way forever but thanks to Dr Grant I was as normal as a Muppet Fan can be. The first part of my trip was over and now the second part was just about to begin because the very next day I was going to PINEWOOD STUDIOS!





Are you ready for this? I wasn’t.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and for a moment there I seriously had no idea if this was really happening or had I just finished taking my test? As a fan you always believe you might have the opportunity to meet Kermit and Miss Piggy or maybe even Fozzie and Gonzo but you never think you’re ever going to meet the others. Maybe one day I’ll get the chance to see Kermit and Pepe live at a meet and greet I had always thought to myself but when did I ever think I’d have the chance to meet Beaker, The Swedish Chef, Scooter, Walter and all my heroes. OH-MY-THOG I couldn’t believe he was displayed right next to me and yes he’s HUGE! That’s what she said. I knew Thog was bigger than the other Muppets even the other full bodied characters but this was ridiculous, I had never really considered the fact that you need a support brace to perform Thog.





Not only was I surrounded by Muppets but soon I saw Matt Vogel walk across the room with Sweetums, Bill Barretta going over the script with Pepe, Eric Jacobson arguing with Miss Piggy and Steve Whitmire trying to figure out which frog was the real Kermit. I was surrounded by The Muppeteers too! This was amazing! I was on a set full of Muppets and their performers and as happy as I was I still felt like an awkward big yellow bird who didn’t belong there.





Then before I could make a fool of myself it happened, I was standing in the presence of the three people I most wanted to meet on this trip. I looked right at Dave Goelz, Peter Linz and David Rudman hoping I could keep myself from making an idiot of myself but before I could they were called on set. I’ll speak to them later I hoped and as I turned around once again another Muppeteer was thrown at my face. Steve Whitmire was making his way on set and best part was he remembered me! “How are you Nicholas?” he asked and at that moment I was trying not to explode with happiness. This was all just too much for me to handle and as I was trying to calm myself down I was approached by no other than Rowlf the Dog and Lew Zealand themselves.





Now you would think that having already met Bill and Matt I’d have no problem talking to Rowlf and Lew Zealand but I was so wrong. I completely froze, I thought I was star struck when I met
the Muppeteers but that was nothing compared to what I was experiencing right now. Seriously I fell into this daze just staring at these two characters joking around with each other.

Bill and Matt were playing around with Rowlf and Lew Zealand and they were hilarious with a small crowd soon gathering around them. This was the Rowlf I had grown up with not the new Rowlf who only hides in the background. Rowlf was on fire! This is the Rowlf I always imagined going to a bar every night and having some drinks with his fellow dogs and cracking jokes. Rowlf was so funny telling Lew Zealand to stop shouting and as hard as Lew Zealand tried he just couldn’t lower his voice.

Rowlf and Lew Zealand then started asking me questions and seriously I could not speak to them. I might have thought I’d one day speak to Kermit and Pepe but never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d get the chance I was getting right now. I desperately wanted to reply back to them but it was so difficult for me to think that it was easier to just stand there like a fool as everyone looked at me waiting for a reply. “Hello Nick it’s nice to meet you” said Rowlf and I stared at him trying to force myself to respond… “Hello Doggy” Hello Doggy! Am I insane? What the hell is wrong with me? I’ve known Rowlf all my life and I call him Doggy? That’s like me walking up to my Dad and saying “Hello Human”. I can’t believe those were the first words that I’ve ever spoken to Rowlf the Doggy… Damn it! I mean Dog.





This wasn’t going well at all but at the same time I didn’t want it to end but if I didn’t pull myself together it was only going to get worse.

Rowlf knew I was having a hard time concentrating and told me to speak to him in Spanish instead and I said “si” and once again remained completely silent. Rowlf then asked me what my favourite ice cream was hoping I’d be able to come up with an answer for him and I did “vanilla” I uttered as gently as I possibly could. Lew Zealand then jumped in and saved me from embarrassment by performing his boomerang fish act. Lew Zealand had a fish in his hand which he tossed away and like a dog I quickly looked to the other side waiting for it to come back to him. What am I thinking? Of course that fish isn’t coming back… this is real life!
 



Poor Scooter always worked hard on The Muppet Show hoping to one day make it in the entertainment business. Once the Muppet moved from The Muppet Show to The Muppet Movies
Scooter started to become the on screen star he so desperately craved to become but after three movies that dream came to an end. Scooter went off to take care of his sick uncle J.P Gross
who unfortunately died a few years later.  Scooter had already made a new life for himself as an employer at Google but after they realised he had hacked into some top secret files Scooter was
not only fired but he was a wanted Muppet too. Scooter was forced to leave his old life behind and moved to Florida where he began living his new secret life as Skeeter.

Eventually Scooter found himself penny less and beginning to enjoy wearing miniskirts so he quickly pulled himself back together and a few years ago returned back to The Muppets.





Having been first introduced to the Muppets through Muppet Babies I’m a big fan of Scooter and if you’re not going to give us Muppet Skeeter at least don’t take away Muppet Scooter from us too. I spent my childhood years watching The Muppets Children’s Songs and Stories every night before I went to sleep and it was Scooter who narrated my stories every time. Richard Hunt was a talent lost too early but even after he left his talent lives on within the characters he first created. Scooter, Janice, Beaker, Statler and Sweetums all found their personality thanks to no other than Richard Hunt.



 


Although without a doubt my favourite Richard Hunt character comes from Fraggle Rock…

 
It’s been a shame that some of these characters have not found their voice for a very long time mainly Scooter and Janice. I missed Scooter in The Muppets Christmas Carol and we all probably
agree that he would have made an excellent nephew for Mr Scrooge. Muppet Treasure Island is one of my favourite movies but is missing many of my favourite characters at the same time too
including Scooter who would have made an excellent assistant to Captain Smollet.

Scooter returned in Muppets From Space and I remember that the fact that the Muppets were playing themselves again and old favourites were back made me even more excited. Sadly all Scooter did in Muppets From Space was sell some T-Shirts which was a small come back but the start of a slow return for Scooter back to the Muppets. The grand return of a perfect sounding Scooter and Janice is all thanks to David Rudman.





David Rudman is a great guy as I soon found out when he made the time to stop and talk to me during shoots. Again as I always do I quickly had to pull myself together because all I could think
about was how long it had taken for Scooter to properly return to The Muppets. David and I got into a really cool discussion about Scooter and his return and I couldn’t believe I was seriously getting the chance to thank David Rudman for keeping Scooter and Janice alive. I also got the chance to learn that it’s pronounced Rud-Man and not Rude-Man.

Everybody was really happy and excited on set as today was the last day shooting in London and after living there for almost six months can you blame them? Those Muppeteers are one dedicated bunch of talent and thanks to them the Muppets live on and in a way so do I. It was getting late and I had arrived by taxi and had no idea how I was going to get home and then I was offered a ride… the best ride of my life. I looked around me and smiled because today I had officially accompanied my goal in life I had met all the Muppets and Muppeteers too! I said goodbye to The Muppets and as difficult as it was for me to do I walked out of Pinewood Studios.





I imagine you were all hoping I’d go into a little more detail during my visit on set but honestly you know I can’t. Maybe I can give a little something away? Something that won’t ruin the movie for you, something I hope I don’t get in trouble for saying. I warn you if you don’t want to spoil yourselves don’t read any further.

Spoiler Alert!

It’s not a major scene or anything but near the end of the movie Miss Piggy dies…





I got into the car waiting outside and then realised that sitting in front of me was no other than Mr Dave Goelz himself! Was I seriously going to be riding in a car for forty-five minutes with Dave Goelz on the last day of shooting?

Knock-Knock

Who’s There?

Heart

Heart Who?

Heart Attack

Luckily I was now fixed and was able to control my heart from exploding and good thing I did because I then realised that the guy next to me was no other than Peter Linz… Oh-My-God I hope
we get a flat tire along the way. For the next forty-five minutes I went completely Walter on Peter Linz and you know what the cool thing was?

I soon realised that I was talking to the actual Walter himself. Peter had no problem keeping up not just with my fast-speaking-Muppet-Worship but also with my Muppet Knowledge because Peter Linz is Walter. I told Peter how excited I was to see Walter come alive for the first time after hearing so much about him and told him when exactly I became a fan of Walter and it happened even before the movie during one of his first interviews.




We became two Walters just chatting away in the back seat of the car and halfway during our journey we broke out into song…









We covered everything from Walter’s origin to little tiny Tutter living in such a big blue house and rent free no less. We talked and we talked and we talked and then Dave Goelz turned around and
looked me straight in the eye and I could not wait to hear what he had to say.   

Was he going to shoot himself out of a canon? Was he going to conduct an experiment? Was he going to bring out his Sax and play me a song? Was he going to ask me for my dirty laundry?

Or was he going to take over the wheel and drive us crazily around London? The suspense was killing me.“Nicholas Shut Up”

I wasn’t expecting that at all but it was sensational.





Trust me you haven’t lived until a Muppeteer tells you to shut up, it was the most wonderful experience of my life. Throughout my life many people have told me to shut up but never anyone who I was actually willing to shut up for. Dave wasn’t serious well he was but he said it with such a smile and a twinkle in his eye that I knew he was kidding… sort of. The three of us then turned into three Walters and discussed Muppets, love, life and my rock of Gibraltar. Dave Goelz has become the Father of The Muppets as he’s been there from the very beginning when they were simply putting on a show, moved to Hollywood with them, travelled with them to London… twice! Has seenthem go off to college and is still there during their big comeback.

I’m basically Gonzo as I have no idea who or what I am, my favourite colour is blue, I’m one of the weirdest people you’ll ever meet and I love KFC. It was an honour to be told to shut up by Mr Goelz hopefully if I’m lucky I can one day get Frank Oz to tell me to “Fuck Off”.





This had seriously been the best day of my life, I have had other great Muppet capers throughout the year but this last trip, this last day was defiantly the best. I MET ALL THE MUPPETS! I MET ALL THE MUPPETEERS! I LIVED THE DREAM! Now it was time to return to by hotel room, have a nice cold shower and pack as the next day I was heading home with a nice gift my new friend had given me.





The next morning I woke up and jumped into the cold shower and then I heard a noise outside, I pulled open the curtains and found another cleaner cleaning inside my bathroom. Could they not
read the “DO NOT DISTURB” sign hanging on the door outside? I mean they don’t even have to read it all they need to do is see it… I’ll never understand the English.

After my shower I grabbed my bags and made my way out the door where I came to realise I was the idiot not them. The “Do Not Disturb” sign has apparently upgraded since I last used one and now it has a sign on both sides. I had foolishly been placing the sign the wrong way around and instead of telling then not to disturb me I was telling them to “Please come in and clean”. I think whoever came up with that idea was just board because it’s rather foolish I mean what’s the cleaner to do if there’s no sign on the door at all? Clean herself?

My Muppet adventure had come to an end which I knew meant that my journey to get well had also been completed and I was now a healthy Muppet Fan Friend like I always dreamt of becoming.

I had a great time in London and although it was my last trip it had been an awesome closing number. I came to realise one thing whilst on the set for the new Muppet movie which I think will make every fan very happy. I’m not just saying this because I’m excited that I’ve visited the set but seriously from what I’ve seen Muppets Most Wanted is a serious contender to join the list alongside The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper and The Muppets Take Manhattan.
 




- Nicholas Napoli
Thanking Nicholas so much for Part XI.
 
The LAST Instalment 
 
My Journey As A Muppet Fan Part XII:
My Big Musical Finale
 
coming NEXT WEEK!!
 
 

2 comments:

  1. two questiosn are you making this up? did you really talk to those people ?

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is NOT made up. This is all true and yes Nicholas talked to those people.

    ReplyDelete