Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Long Ago and Far Away (when I grew up)

So I stumbled on a link to a Google Hangout with folks from Jim Henson's Creature Shop. It's not exactly the sort of thing I'd be interested in: it's presented in conjunction with something called Maker Camp (Make Magazine) and it contains a lot of technical insider information on how to make the creatures. Not precisely my field of expertise.

But I just had to watch it. And in watching it, a whole bunch of buried memories came flooding back to me.

I recently rewrote my biography for this blog's 'About' page as well as for my website and other social media pages. I wanted to have one blazing honest page of copy that helped to unify -- whether in long or short form -- my web presence. And in that story I cited some of my earliest influences: L.M. Montgomery, C.S. Lewis; in short, the folks who made me want to be a writer in the first place. But I forgot some of the most influential inputs to my child's brain. Chief among them was Jim Henson.

In particular, I have to admit that I missed some of his most iconic '80s hits: the Dark Crystal, the Labyrinth. But besides Sesame Street and the Muppet Show, I was a massive fan of the Jim Henson Hour. Does anyone remember that? And of course, in the whole show my favourite part was the Storyteller segment. No surprises there.

There was one episode in particular that sticks out in my mind: Monster Maker.


I would have written here that I don't remember why that particular storyline touched me so that all these years later I still remember some of it. But looking at that clip, it's pretty obvious why.

The other big influence in my young life was the PBS series Long Ago and Far Away. Basically a retelling of world folklore and other stories, it was filled with dragons, princesses, giants, and in one memorable episode, an army of animated sticks.

Perhaps it's obvious from this post, but I have to admit it anyway: I was something of a big TV fan as a child. And while I could never participate in any sort of visual art in a serious way, I owe a massive debt of gratitude to these TV series. Considering how some of them were produced with public funds, I consider them like the library: these freely available wells of inspiration, artistic resources that send ripples through my psyche and helped to shape who I am; helped determine the path I would take in adult life.