Muppet Book Club

“I Can’t Wait Until Christmas”

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Can’t Hurry Love

Anthony Strand:

Oooh, I love love love this book. They have it in my doctor’s waiting room. I made it a point from the time I was five to read it every time I went there. This behavior continues to this day.

 

Emmy Miklasevich:

You know, the other week I was at Goodwill, and I saw not one, not two, but three copies of this book. I was going to buy one (or two), but I only had two dollars, and had my heart set on some other junk. Now that I know this is a cool book, I feel sad that I wasted my money on junk I can’t even remember that I bought.

 

Alaina Breeden:

Oscar hanging old shoes and hubcaps on the tree somehow makes me love him even more.

 

Anthony:

But where does Oscar get off thinking he can steal Charlie Brown’s tree?

 

John Hamilton:

Love the Snuffy scenes, especially on the skateboard at the end. This is such an 80’s book, because a 70’s book would never put a helmet and knee pads on someone just riding a skateboard.

 

Ryan Roe:

I’m glad Big Bird got his baseball bat. It would have been pretty sad if he had gotten socks, which is what my grandmother often gave me. Especially considering Big Bird doesn’t wear socks.

 

But where is Luis while Maria’s helping Big Bird with the birdhouse?

 

Anthony:

Rushing to get all the toasters fixed in time for Christmas, of course.

 

Ryan:

That makes sense. After all, everyone needs a toaster to cook Christmas dinner.

Mike Cervantes:

What is with Big Bird’s need for a baseball bat?He can’t really play baseball with just a one-handed swing. Maybe he had to take care of some business, Reservoir Dogs style.

 

Danny Horn:

Is that really in keeping with the Can’t-Wait-Until-Christmas spirit?

 

Mike:

Sure, it is — as in, “I can’t wait until Christmas, so I can break that mook’s kneecaps.”

 

 

Birdhouse in Your Yule

 

Ian Pugh:

As soon as Thanksgiving dinner has been shoved down everyone’s gullet, Big Bird immediately mentions Christmas, thereby proving that Thanksgiving is null and void in his mind. (Though I suppose it would be more realistic if he was yammering about Christmas three minutes after he finished his Halloween candy.)

 

Also, notice how the book describes exactly what the birds ate in excruciating detail. I suppose the author pretty much had to, so that she wouldn’t imply that the birds cannibalized their fellow fowl.

 

Danny:

The gift of a birdhouse is especially poignant, given the differences in the standard of living between Granny Bird and Big Bird.

 

I just can’t wrap my head around Granny Bird leaving her warm house to spend Christmas sleeping in a wooden chair in a snowy vacant lot. How is this possible?

Mike:

Well, Big Bird’s too young to own real estate, and the alley really has everything he needs, and, well, he likes it.

 

Don’t knock the alley. Some of my youthful dreams were spent sitting in Big Bird’s nest.

 

Michal:

I was wondering about Big Bird and Granny’s relationships with other birds. Obviously, they’re not about to scarf down a turkey for dinner. Then again, the birdhouse seems to trap their fellow birdkind into a very limited and ornamental role as pets.

 

One could see the birdhouse as a hostel of sorts, where Big bird can care and provide for those less fortunate than himself. He may live in a trash-filled alley, but at least he gets a birdseed pie every so often. Apparently those poor little birds he’s feeding have to rely on simpletons who build birdhouses to get fed.

 

Alaina:

Granny Bird just really likes the little birds, if you know what I mean. It’s like the Playbird Channel when she looks out the window. She’s looking for love in all the wrong places.

 

Tom Holste:

The other birds seem to exist on some sort of lower level of sentience, or perhaps a lower social class. So Granny Bird (at the top level) gets a house, and Big Bird (on a lower level) sleeps in an alley. They feel compelled to help out the little birds (at the lowest level) live in a house of their own.

 

Danny:

Maybe there’s smart birds and dumb birds on Sesame Street, just like there are in real life.

 

Yes, Virginia

 

Ian:

How about Santa’s role in this story? We have the ineffectual Mall Santa: All he says to Big Bird is “Ho ho ho!” Sounds like somebody’s just coasting through the job at this stage of the game.

 

Granny and Big Bird leave cookies and milk out for the real Santa, but it appears that he left them no presents. What’s that supposed to imply? That Granny and Big Bird were “naughty” this year? That the old man decided to just let the families of the world worry about themselves? What?

 

Ryan:

So they left stuff for Santa, but didn’t get anything in return. Maybe that’s a valuable lesson for us all… We shouldn’t give in expectation of reciprocation. We should give for the sake of giving.

 

And we shouldn’t be concerned with creature comforts like walls, heating, and plumbing… We should be content to spend Christmas Eve in an alley. I’m going to start building my Christmas Eve nest right now.

 

Tom:

Santa just keeps saying “Ho ho ho.” He’s an automaton. Very likely the store wanted to cut costs this year, so they placed a mannequin in Santa’s chair and put a tape recorder behind him. That would explain why he’s not howling in pain as Snuffy sits on his legs.

 

Danny:

I was also wondering about Santa’s role — but then I realized that both Big Bird and Snuffy got everything that they asked for at the mall. Big Bird wanted a baseball bat and a visit from Granny, and darn if he didn’t get them both. I don’t know about Big Bird’s baseball stats, but Santa is batting 1.000.

 

Maybe Santa, like God, moves in mysterious ways his wonders to perform. Rather than intercede directly, Santa works through others, like Granny, and the sporting goods store.

For unto us a child is Bird

 

Cathy Whitlow:

Is Big Bird really all that surprised when he opens the baseball bat from Granny? I mean, he asked for one. Does he suffer from short term memory loss, or is that his way of acting surprised for Granny’s sake?

 

Sometimes I’m concerned for Big Bird’s well being. What if one day he accidentally leaves the iron on when he leaves the nest, or forgets that you shouldn’t drink bleach?

 

Ian:

Moreover, is that the kind of kid that you want to be giving a baseball bat to? Methinks Hooper’s is going to have to invest in some new windows.

 

John:

Granny Bird lives in a charming, well-furnished house, with a dining room and a kitchen. Big Bird lives in a trash-filled, snow-covered alley behind an apartment building. How is this even remotely acceptable?

 

Indeed! A feeling of melancholy washed over me as I wondered where Granny Bird was supposed to sleep while staying in BB’s meager digs. He must have been so embarrassed.

 

Say, if BB has a Granny Bird, where are Mom and/or Dad Bird? Why can’t they visit? What’s the deal there?

Danny:

Yeah, where are Big Bird’s parents? Did they just fly south one winter and never come back?

 

If Granny Bird is BB’s only relative, why doesn’t he live in her house? Why is she counting on the good people at PBS to raise him?

 

Anthony:

Big Bird is an orphan.He’s raised by everyone on Sesame Street. They made a whole movie about this.

 

Mike:

And don’t you remember The Muppet Movie? By choice, Big Bird left the nest to get into public television. He probably figured he can use this naive boyish charm to help educate millions of children — and, well, it works, doesn’t it?

 

Danny:

Oh, yeah. I forgot about The Muppet Movie, and Follow That Bird.

 

Wait a second. How could I forget about The Muppet Movie and Follow That Bird? That doesn’t sound like me.

 

John:

It was an honest mistake. I did the same thing!

Danny:

Well, at least I’m not alone. John and I will be over there if you need us.

 

Jess:

Has Granny ever been to Sesame Street?Does she even know Big Bird’s Street family? Where was she during the hurricane?

 

These are the things that I wonder when I’m thinking about Sesame Street at midnight…

 

Scott:

Others would know better than I, but this picture shows that she’s not just a book character…

 

 

Ryan:

During the hurricane story, Big Bird called Granny for advice on how to rebuild his nest. She didn’t offer to come help, but she did give the essential advice to… “LOOK for twigs!”

Ian:

Of course, she couldn’t just say, “FIND a rent-controlled apartment.” Granny couldn’t risk Big Bird having a nicer place than her own.

 

Unless, of course, there’s a reason for this self-inflicted alleyway lifestyle. Perhaps Big Bird is going for some sort of journey of self-discovery, or he’s training to be a Hollywood writer who’s writing a screenplay about “hobo birds on the street.”

 

Jess:

Or maybe he’s writing a book.

 

“Broke Like Me,” guaranteed to be a hit with sociologists and ornithologists alike.

Art Snobs

 

Danny:

What do you guys think of the art style?

 

Scott:

You know me and Ewers. Sometimes he’s good, sometimes he’s bland. He’s both in this book.

 

His work on I Can’t Wait marks the beginning of the Sesame Artist Factory, where everyone’s style was dictatorially forced to follow refined and air-brushed versions of Joe Mathieu’s work.

 

Danny:

What’s the good and what’s the bland here?

 

There’s some bits I really like. Snuffy on Santa’s lap is a very funny picture. The two-page spread picking out the Christmas trees, with the snow falling all around, is very pretty. I like Cookie Monster eatng the cookies.

 

On the other hand, Big Bird’s got an unchanging blank expression through the whole book. I’d probably believe in his struggle a little more if he didn’t look so gosh-darn happy on every single page.

 

 

Scott:

I think I’m referring mostly to the colors. It feels like his palette was stuck in one hue.

 

The Christmas trees spread is my favorite. All that green, white and blue in the background, and then these fantastic Muppets standing out… even Oscar, who’s green. But even here, there are some things I don’t like. Big Bird’s purple scarf on the same side of the page as the Count. A red scarf would have looked fantastic there.

 

I’m disappointed with page 17. It’s Cookie Monster manging down on some cookies and I should love it, but it’s so blah.

 

 

Page 18 with BB and Granny should be gorgeous, but I think the camera angle is boring. Maybe if it were drawn with our eyes lower and the taxi in the extreme foreground, with Granny and BB visible just beyond, perhaps with some city buildings as a backdrop.

 

Really, I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m just making this up as I go along.

 

Danny:

No, I’m with you. I didn’t notice half that stuff, but you’re right. The taxi picture is dull — and now that you mention it, it’s kind of lazy. Same with the picture on the next page of Granny putting her present under the tree. The perspective’s all wrong.

 

And you’re right about the palette — everything is dominated by pale yellow, pale green and pale pink. It’s all pastels. I hadn’t noticed that before. Now I like it less. Thanks.

 

The thing I like about the Cookie Monster picture is the fact that he’s cutting out cookies with one hand and eating baked cookies with the other. It’s a neverending process.

 

Scott:

See, I didn’t notice that about the cookies, and it just made me laugh out loud.

 

So we’ve provided a service for each other. I made you like it less, and… well, I don’t like it any more or less, but I appreciate that moment now.

 

I think the last page is horrific.

 

Danny:

Okay, I’ll bite. Why is the last page horrific?

 

 

 

Scott:

It’s just a mess. It’s like Ewers made colorforms of the characters, closed his eyes and tossed ’em down on a sheet of paper. Not only is the action off, but the setting is all wrong. That’s not Big Bird’s nest. Forget the fact that Big Bird’s space has four walls — let’s give Ewers that — but the layout is all wrong, the colors of the doors are wrong, and there’s not nearly enough stuff in it.

 

Clearly, Ewers was fucking lazy, and focused more on what Snuffy would look like zipping around the corner in ankle warmers, rather than the meat of the moment.

 

Now that I’ve thought even more about it, I really fucking hate that page. Sickening camera angle again too.

 

I shouldn’t be so hard on Ewers, though. I’d be interested to see what he could do outside of the CTW Artist Machine.

Danny:

No, go for it, baby. This is the only place in the world where it’s acceptable to get upset over a page in a Sesame Street book. Just let it out.

 

John:

The compositional choices for much of the book are boring. Glad you pointed that out. Still, there’s something to be said for a straight-ahead syle, and what this lacks in pizzazz it makes up for in coziness.

 

I hope Cookie doesn’t get worms from eating all that raw dough.

 

Danny:

Raw dough gives you worms? How come?

 

There have been times in my life when I have eaten raw cookie dough by the peck. I never had worms. Stomachache, yes. Pure chewing satisfaction, yes. Worms, no.

 

Anyway, considering that Cookie Monster eats phones, trains and flatware, I think raw cookie dough is probably the least of his worries. He has a cast iron stomach. And look, he just ate some cast iron.

 

Aviary-self a Merry Little Christmas

 

Danny:

What did this book teach you about Christmas?

 

Thijs:

Christmas is about getting presents — and not wondering if Santa exists, but why he exists.

 

Ryan:

This book taught me that a good thing like Christmas is worth waiting for, even if I’m only getting one present.

 

And that Snuffy’s got mad skating skillz.

 

Jess:

This book taught me that while the spirit of Christmas can last throughout the year, you’ve got to be patient and wait for the actual Christmas. I also learned that hanging out with your friends is a good way to kill time until it’s time to open presents.

 

Anthony:

It taught me that I can always count on my Grandma to get me exactly what I want for Christmas, and that I can always turn to Maria to help me out until then.

 

Also, it taught me that all anyone really wants for Christmas is a tree that looks just like him or herself.

 

Tom:

I learned that receiving gifts can be almost as much of a chore as shopping for them. Even if you ask Grandma for a baseball bat, and she gets you a baseball bat, you still have to wait in a long line at the mall to get Santa’s permission.

 

The other thing I learned is that you should love your relatives, even if they make you sleep out in the cold.

 

Michal:

I’ve learned never to believe someone when they tell you they can’t wait for something. What a blatant lie! Of course they can wait. Instant gratification is for the weak.

Danny:

Okay, that works. Frog bless us, one and all!

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