Saturday, October 1, 2011


There's nothing arbitrary about my Blogger user icon. 

Since my post about "The Lost Treasure of the Fraggles", if I was ever again going to do another one about Fraggle Rock, it was going to be about a later first season episode, "The Minstrels"...and/or, possibly -- all within the same post -- all of the episodes to feature the character named Cantus.

Consider this post a belated recognition of the 75th anniversary of the birth of Jim Henson (9/24/36)...really, as temporal matters go, when will there be a more appropriate occassion?  (Ideally, I wouldn't be a few days late with this...but on the 24th, I was preoccupied being a groomsman at my sister's wedding.  For the record, I -- completely unexecptedly -- cried when my mother and grandmother walked my sister down the aisle.  The proclamative, trumpet-dominated musical accompaniment played no small part in my reaction.  Evidence that to rival movies, real life needs to be scored.)

Actually, I was alerted to Jim's 75th birthday by -- of all things -- a Facebook memo reposted early last week by a friend from high school named Jeff, which I shall reproduce here:

"Next Saturday will be the 75th Birthday of Jim Henson, Creator of the Muppets!
If you are a fan, I ask you change your profile picture to one of your favorite Henson creations for the next week, or until the new film is released in October.
I would love to see my Facebook friends list have nothing but Muppets staring back at me. :) Repost if you like."

On said friend's "Wall", I replied:

"Oh, I'll do Cantus. Totally. Cantus was performed by Jim, and made one appearance per season of Fraggle Rock. Jim was not regularly a part of the production of the show. As a sort-of wise elder/Zen master bestowing the Fraggles with his rare stopovers, Cantus was a personification of, and parallel to, Jim visting the production, and working with the performers and crew."

(FYI: As a feverous credits-studier, the preceding was something I'd discerned as a child.  Ultimately, in the Fraggle Rock DVD special features, Karen Prell made comments that vindicated my understanding of Cantus' role in the show and Jim's relation to it.)

Thus, I proceeded to change my Facebook profile picture to the same one that I use for this blog:


Then, I immediately added the following comment to Jeff's reposting of the memo:

"Done! I give you: Cantus and Jim...or, as I like to think of it: Jim and Jim."

I've had the DVD box set of the complete sires for a couple years now, and have slowly been making my way through it.  "The Minstrels" -- the very first Cantus episode -- is amongst those of which that I've most recently made it through. 

I could compose an in-depth analysis/deconstruction of the episode and of the apparently completely intentional way in which Cantus was Jim's alter ego.  And by all rights, I owe Jim everything I have to give and offer.

...but, that's the thing: I'd only come up short.  In lieu of an "essay" or "review"...and if you'll indulge me...I give you the following musical number from "The Minstrels" which the Fraggles are enchanted by their first visit from Cantus and his tribe:

[Addendum: For a day after this was first posted, I'd linked the wrong version of the video -- on that was only 35 seconds total.  D'oh!  Fixed now.  (Unfortunately, the version I'd really like to use, one that's over five minutes and includes some worthwhile character and plot exposition -- here -- has embedding disabled.)]

...okay: at the outset, the woodwind-played melody announcing the minstrels' arrival begins the spell's weaving....and from there...well, at about 1:02, Cantus -- neigh, Jim -- walks on screen, and the euphoria about 1:11, Jim begins singing, the sensation of which I'll only completely fail in describing/encapsulating...soon, at about 1:22, the grey-and-purple-hued, banjo/lute/whatever-playing Muppet joins in, and thus we have Jerry Nelson harmonizing with Jim ("A great records very well", I recall Jim -- paraphrased -- saying in a videotaped interview)...and, well, I challenge you to present me a richer sound in all audially recorded history...I mean, the peak that Jim and Jerry jointly reach throughout about, the only words I have are: wow -- glorious!

With fully admitted complete subjectivity, I say that this song/performance/video is completely life-affirming.

R.I.P., Jim.


  1. When Steve Jobs died, the reaction reminded me of the day (and day after, and many days after) when fans across the globe reacted to Jim's passing. Steve had even included an image of Jim in his famous "Think Different" ad campaign. Most people would agree that an image of Steve would go up there, too.

  2. Joseph,

    Having never been a Mac user, and having never owned an iAnything, I was a bit surprised and perplexed by the way so many people felt so strongly about Jobs' passing.

    If he truly liked Jim Henson, though, there's finally something that endears him him to, if just a bit. :)