The Jim Henson Statue and Memorial Garden

A few months before I moved up here, I learned that there’s a statue and memorial to Muppet Creator and alumnus Jim Henson with Kermit the Frog at the University of Maryland. Jim created so much of my childhood that I knew I had to go see it when I had a chance. I made a note and tucked it away in my geographic to-do list until I could go to UMD.

Flash forward to last weekend- the weather was really nice, sunny and clear, so I decided to make the pilgrimage to Maryland. Even with the heavy traffic into DC for people celebrating Biden/Harris winning the presidential election, it only took me about half an hour to get onto campus.

I had the foresight to check a map for visitor parking before I left, and I was able to find a parking spot right across from the Adele H. Stamp Student Union, easy as you please. From the parking lot, it was a short walk back around to the front of the building, where the Jim Henson Statue and Memorial Garden is located. It’s really quite easy to find, not hidden away at all. You can see the sculpture as you approach.

A small plaque is visible on the low wall to the left of the sculpture. The memorial and garden were the idea of the class of 1998, after the 1997 event, “The Muppets Take Maryland” which featured an exhibit and workshops with Cheryl Henson. Some of the other classes from the 1990s helped with funding for the memorial, and the statue and garden were dedicated on September 24, 2003, on what would have been Jim Henson’s 67th birthday. There’s a great deal of making-of photos on the Muppet Wiki’s page about this sculpture.

The bronze statue is 450 pounds of bronze attached to a red granite bench. It was created by Jay Hall Carpenter after a national contest to select an artist and a design.

Here’s a closer look at the detail on the sculpture. It looks like Jim and Kermit are deep in conversation. I think this is just wonderful- I like to think of Jim still having these deep conversations even after his passing beyond the rim. Kermit touching Jim’s wrist is a really nice touch.

Here’s a little bit more of the detail… check out the frog belt buckle on Jim!

Of course since the sculpture is set on a bench, the whole place invites you to sit and join them for a little bit. Please excuse the mask hanging off of my ear; I should have just taken it all the way off for this photograph. (Or asked someone else to take the picture. I’m used to doing it selfie-style.)

Kermit is one of my favorites. I love his optimism in the face of unbridled chaos.

It’s a wonderful tribute to Jim Henson.

Since I was already at the front door of the student union, I decided to peek inside. Their Terrapin mascot is masked but their food court is open. The stadium was visible just past my parking lot, but I was there a few hours before their game against the Penn State Nittany Lions.

Have you ever been to the Jim Henson statue at UMD? Who’s your favorite Muppet?

32/52 (and 11 of 30!)

The 2015 Television Upfronts

Every May, the five main American broadcast television networks get together at a big party called the Upfronts to show their new fall shows to advertisers.  This is when we, the viewers, get our first taste of the new fall schedule.

Over the past several years, I’ve always talked about the Upfronts elsewhere on the Web.  In years past, I would write one post for each of the five networks.  In each post, I would list the network’s announced fall schedule and detail the new shows.  I would always come up with a big summary post at the end with a grid showing what programs I would watch in the fall.

Over the last few years, things have changed.  While I was in Germany, I couldn’t watch American television in real time.  My TiVo was back in Florida, and I had to rely on a variety of Internet technologies to keep up with my TV watching.

Another big change over the last few years is the television landscape itself-  I loved Community when it started, but now it’s not even playing on a normal network- it’s showing on Yahoo Screen.  The idea of an Internet company making television programming blows my mind entirely.

Add to that the fact that most of the new programming that shows up on television is total crap, and you wind up with a very dull screen.  Here’s a perfect example:  This fall, the networks are producing at least three shows that are either based on or continuing the story from a previous movie:  Rush Hour, Limitless, and Minority Report.  All three could be good, but I really kinda doubt it.

The days of the program grid and the scheduled television are over.  I’m not going to cover every announced new show, I’m only going to talk about the five new shows that I’m really excited about.  Only three of them are based on comic books, so that’s something.  Oh, and it worked out to one per network.

Going alphabetically, I guess I’m starting with ABC.

THE MUPPETS - "The Muppets" return to prime time with a contemporary, documentary-style show that, for the first time ever, will explore the Muppets’ personal lives and relationships, both at home and at work, as well as romances, break-ups, achievements, disappointments, wants and desires; a more adult Muppet show, for kids of all ages.  (ABC/Eric McCandless) KERMIT THE FROG, GONZO THE GREATThe Muppets – Bill Prady is one of the names behind this new television incarnation of the muppets.  It’s being set up as a “documentary-style show that, for the first time ever, will explore the Muppets’ personal lives and relationships, both at home and at work, as well as romances, break-ups, achievements, disappointments, wants and desires; a more adult Muppet show, for kids of all ages.”

I was skeptical about the format until I watched the trailer.  This looks like it will be a hoot, even though some of the new muppet voices totally take me out of the moment.

Next up is CBS.

new-tv-shows-supergirlSupergirl –  “Kara Zor-El escaped her home planet of Krypton amid its destruction years ago. Since arriving on Earth, she has concealed the powers she shares with her (ahem) “famous cousin.” But now, at age 24, she decides to embrace her superhuman abilities and be the hero she was always meant to be.”

The trailer for this appeared online a few days ago, and I think this is going to be a lot of fun.  It looks closer in tone to Lois & Clark than it does to Smallville, and that’s a very good thing.    Unfortunately, we have to wait until after football ends in November to see this one.

Next up, FOX.

Lucifer – “Bored as the Lord of Hell, Lucifer resigns his throne and abandons his kingdom for the gorgeous, shimmering insanity of Los Angeles, where he gets his kicks helping the LAPD punish criminals. Based on characters from DC Entertainment’s Vertigo imprint.”

Slated for midseason, this is another show that I was very skeptical about until I saw the trailer.  Lucifer is a brilliant character, but I thought at first they were going to turn this into just another police procedural.  CSI: Hell, in other words.  This has potential, but only if FOX executives can keep their mitts off the production process as they move along.

NBC’s best new show is going to be:

new-tv-shows-best-time-ever-with-neil-patrick-harrisBest Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris –  This show has a 10 pm air time, and I saw it referenced once as a variety show.  I don’t really know what that means, but I’m assuming there will be singing and dancing because it’s Neil Patrick Harris.  I keep hoping he’ll be able to get some How I Met Your Mother gags in, but we’ll see.

I love pretty much everything that NPH does, and I have very high hopes for this one.

Last but not least, The CW has decided to spin a show off of their shared Arrow/Flash world.

DC's Legends of TomorrowDC’s Legends Of Tomorrow – “When heroes alone are not enough… the world needs legends. Having seen the future, one he will desperately try to prevent from happening, time-traveling rogue Rip Hunter is tasked with assembling a disparate group of both heroes and villains to confront an unstoppable threat – one in which not only is the planet at stake, but all of time itself. Can this ragtag team defeat an immortal threat unlike anything they have ever known? The cast includes Victor Garber (The Flash); Brandon Routh (Arrow); Arthur Darvill (Doctor Who); Caity Lotz (Arrow); Dominic Purcell (The Flash) and Wentworth Miller (The Flash).”

There is so much awesome in this trailer that I’m kind of amazed that it got pushed to television so fast- it’s a Justice-League-esque show without most of the actual comics Justice League.    Add to that a live-action Hawk Girl, live-action Firestorm, an Atom who actually shrinks, and a live-action Vandal Savage… I’m damned impressed.  I kind of wonder who they’ll get to play Savage, though.

What do you think about these new shows?  Are you getting burnt out on all the comics on television?