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Written by Charlietheowl
Rated PG

AP Newsroom- Internal Memo Editing Department

_______________

THIS IS AN AP (Associated Puffery) NEWS RELEASE

Los Angeles, CA (AP)- Everyone's favorite troop of entertainers are taking a much-deserved break for the first time in years. The Muppets have wrapped filming on the first season of the revival of The Muppet Show, and are taking the opportunity to rest on the laurels of their success, if only for a few months.

"Well, we've had such a successful first season back on the air. It's exceeded all our wildest expectations, and you know how wild those can be sometimes," said Kermit The Frog in a press conference outside the Muppet Theater on Monday afternoon. "This success gives us the opportunity to take the summer off to pursue some side projects, or just take a vacation. We don't get very many opportunities to take time off, so this is a nice change of pace."

When pressed for details about the plans of his fellow Muppets, Kermit demurred, stating only that "my friends would be angry with me if I spoiled their surprises". However, rumors are flying around the Los Angeles area that Miss Piggy was spotted eating lunch with the president of the Animal Broadcasting Company (ABC), and that the two discussed filming a pilot for a talk show. Miss Piggy's agent declined to comment on the reports.

As for America's favorite frog? Kermit was willing to share his plans with the reporters, saying he was on his way to pick up his nephew Robin from the Muppet boarding house, and from there the two of them would be heading to the airport. "We're going to spend a couple of weeks in Hawaii. Robin wants to earn his Beach Exploration Frog Scouts badge, so I figured Hawaii would be a nice place to find some nifty seashells to bring to his next meeting."

Kermit also assured fans not to worry about the Muppets' hiatus. "We'll be back to filming the next season of our show by late August. We've already got some great guest stars lined up. Some of them are even going to appear on the show by choice."


Editor's Notes and Corrections:


  • "everyone's favorite troop of entertainers"- Give me a break-too exaggerated. Perhaps the "favorite troop of entertainers amongst unemployed penguins everywhere" or "the most popular group of talking animals since The Banana Splits" would be more accurate.
  • Kermit saying "successful first season"-share show's ratings later in paragraph-TMS drew a 1.2 X 10-to-the-negative-sixth rating share this season-consult with statistics department for proper formatting of scientific notation.
  • Remove any references to ABC. When we called ABC for comment, they threatened to sue us for libel if we printed anything involving them meeting with Miss Piggy. Don't need any other lawsuits today, so change that reference to "Miss Piggy was spotted coldly ignoring autograph seekers outside a children's hospital". That kind of thing draws in the readers.
  • "....to find some seashells"- Really? Seashells? Far too boring a topic. Perhaps change quote to read "to scout out locations for my secret wedding to Miss Piggy" or "to break up an international drug smuggling ring".

Please turn in corrected article by 5 PM Wednesday for publication Thursday morning.

Thanks,

Associate to the Vice-Assistant to the Editor-in-Chief (West Coast Division),

Alistair J. Hanratty


Travel agents often oversell the vacations they're trying to pawn off on their customers. What is called a "homey cottage" doesn't always have a working bathroom, and "luxurious green forests" are actually Superfund sites. However, there are some places in the world that are as beautiful as the airbrushed brochures and breathless descriptions make them out to be.

Kermit and Robin happened to be in one of those places, a perfect white sand beach with water so clear that you could practically see to the bottom of the ocean. Their neighborhood travel agent, a kindly middle-aged sheepdog, had suggested Eternal Bloom Beach Resort in Hawaii as having some of the most beautiful sands in the world, and Kermit was glad he believed her. Besides, the Eternal Bloom Beach Resort seemed like a much safer bet than the train trip to beautiful, scenic East Saint Louis that she also offered.

Kermit smiled as made his way out to the beach early one morning, watching and excited Robin eagerly make his way out towards the gentle surf with a net, magnifying glass, and waterproof-bound copy of Know Your Seashells. Robin was determined to get the Ocean Explorers Frog Scouts badge upon his return, and show all his friends the other neat shells and souvenirs he found on his trip. He was unlike most children who went on vacation, and Kermit found himself thankful for this, his mind flashing back to a disastrous trip he took with Miss Piggy, Andy, and Randy to Old Sturbridge Village, which ended up with the two of them having to buy out the Logan Airport gift shop to keep Andy and Randy quiet on the flight home. Evidently Andy and Randy thought Old Sturbridge Village was going to be an explosive theme park, and not the quaint historical site it turned out to be. That trip certainly took its toll on both Kermit and Piggy's wallets and patience. Robin wasn't like that at all; quiet, well-behaved, content with his seashells and Frog Scouts gear.

Knowing that Robin was safe down on the edge of the beach, Kermit began setting up his beach gear, which was graciously carried down by the resort's friendly staff. He plunked his umbrella in the sand, spread out his extra-fluffy beach towel (Only the best for my frog, said Piggy before he left), set his cooler aside with drinks and lunch for him and Robin, and got out My Life In The Theater Of Ghosts, an "autobiographical novel" written by friend of the Muppets/phantom Uncle Deadly. Kermit glanced at the blurbs on the back of the book. "A riveting read- just as gripping as superglue and slightly less harmful when ingested." "Hmmm," he said to himself. "Sounds like another The Grapes of Wrath."

The morning passed by quietly, as Robin remained absorbed in his seaside spelunking, stopping only to breathlessly show Kermit his latest exciting find, while Kermit read through Uncle Deadly's book, which proved to be about as gripping as the underside of a well-worn slipper. But Kermit didn't mind, instead contenting himself watching Robin and the waves gently crashing onto the shore. It was so peaceful and quiet; there were barely any other people on the beach, which stretched for miles and miles. Quiet was certainly a change of pace from his recent life; the theater had been a madhouse towards the end of the season, as their network extended their final two episodes to an hour to fill in for the hastily canceled Trash-2-Cash, a game show where contestants rummaged through dumpsters looking for pieces of a treasure map. Evidently the raccoons residing in the dumpsters never received the proper consent forms, and when their lawyers called the network, the show had to be pulled. The gang was glad to be given an extra showcase, and came up with some of their best material of the season to fill the time, but it was even noisier and frenzied than usual on the set. Scooter running around trying to scramble for extra guest stars, Gonzo preparing twice as many stunts, Piggy demanding twice as many wardrobe changes, Fozzie rehearsing twice as many jokes. It was nice to get away from it all for a bit.

Thunk!

Kermit's reverie was shattered by the sound of another umbrella opening right along side of him, and the sounds of a couple cooing with each other over the vista in front of them.

"Oh Jenny! This beach is perfect! But not as perfect as you!"

"Oh Jared! You're so sweet! I'm glad we found such a beautiful resort for our honeymoon!"

"Anything for you, snookums!"

Jenny and Jared exchanged a quick smooch before spreading out their towels and enjoying a day of sunbathing. Jenny bent down to get her suntan lotion out of her beach bag and took a quick glance over towards Kermit, who was back to slogging his way through Uncle Deadly's book. Her jaw dropped.

"Oh my gosh! You're--you're--you're--Kermit the Frog!"

"And I think you're Jenny. Nice to meet you."

"Oh my goodness oh my goodness oh my goodness! I'm such a big fan! You have no idea! My dance with my dad at my wedding was "The Rainbow Connection"! My brother and I dressed up as Scooter and Skeeter for Halloween three years in a row!"

"That's really sweet. How's your honeymoon going?" Kermit shot a quick wave over towards Jared, who wasn't entirely sure what was going on.

Jenny didn't appear to be listening. "I was so happy that your show got back on the air! I watch every Tuesday night at 8:30 and it's awesome! I loved the skit you did on the season finale with the singing giraffes and Rowlf. He's such an accomplished pianist."

"Thank you! Rowlf works very hard at learning all those songs. He's always rehearsing at our house."

"You mean the Muppet Boarding House? Gosh! That must be the coolest place in the world! All the Muppets together in one place! Wow!"

Kermit laughed to himself. "It can get a little crazy." He spotted Jared out of the corner of his eye awkwardly standing around holding a bottle of champagne, and wanted to get him involved in the conversation. "So where are you two from?", he said, shouting loud enough to attract Jared's attention.

"A small town just outside of-"

Jared was cut off by his wife's continued babbling.

"Oh my goodness is that your nephew Robin down by the water! He's so cute! I love "Halfway Down The Stairs"! I sang that for my junior showcase in high school choir. Got me a great part in the alto section!"

Jenny launched into a lugubrious version of "Halfway Down The Stairs", which attracted Robin's attention. He made his way back up to Kermit.

"Hi! I'm Robin. Who are you? You sure have a nice voice."

Jenny stammered. "Robin--the frog--likes my voice? My voice! Oh my goodness!"

"Do you want to sing with me?"

Jenny already had several shocks to her system since arriving in Hawaii from a small town outside of somewhere two days ago. Seeing the beach for the first time, seeing the heated towel rack in the bathroom, seeing the complementary wine and fruit basket left in the honeymoon suite. But meeting a real live Muppet! And being complimented by a real live Muppet! And being asked to sing with a real live Muppet! This was too much to take.

"Oh--oh--" Jenny swooned and fainted onto the white sands, while Jared threw the bottle of champagne onto the ground, picked up his wife, hastily waved goodbye, and ran back to the hotel with his wife over his shoulder.

"Who was that, Uncle Kermit," asked Robin. "I hope she'll be all right."

"That was Jenny and her husband Jared. Nice people. I think she'll be just fine."

"That's good."

"Never did find out where they were from. Oh well."


Los Angeles County Fire Department

Case Number: 2345-A

Date: July 12, two thousand and something

Summary of Incident:

On July 11, two thousand and something, Investigators Anderson and Cooper arrived at 234 West 19th Street, former location of the Sunset Hibachi Grill, at the request of Chief Williams due to a call reporting a fire. The dispatch time was 1300 hours, arrival at the scene was 1400 hours due to "wait for glazed cruellers at Donut Village". The investigators observed a concrete-framed construction, single-story, occupancy 250 restaurant. The investigation revealed that the fire had started in the hibachi table adjacent to the bar at the south end of the restaurant. All signs at the scene and evidence taken by investigators revealed the fire was likely started by an onion volcano gone awry at said hibachi table. The husks of the onion were found, along with the remains of an ornamental oil squirter shaped like what appears to be a samurai sword. A suspect was identified by thirteen witnesses, and was seen cooking at the hibachi table before the fire started. All twenty witnesses at the restaurant at the time of the fire, plus fourteen other people we found in the street, identified the witness in a police lineup of 1. The motive for the fire was cited as "willful negligence/too many levels on onion volcano".

Laboratory Analysis:

The onion husks were taken to the lab and identified as onions. Green onions, specifically. I love Booker T and the MG's. Saw them on tour last summer. Cooked up a nice groove. (Chief's note: Get it! Cooked up a nice groove? Green onions? Ha ha ha I just kill them with my zingers!)

Witness Statements:

Witness Number 36 (middle-aged male, at adjoining table): "The chef had been cooking rather erratically all evening, and strange things were happening at his table. He attempted to cut up some zucchini and grill it, but the zucchini jumped off the table, cursing wildly, insisting that the the VCLU (Chief's Note: Vegetable Civil Liberties Union) would shut him down. Very disquieting. I like zucchini."

Witness Number 0 (aforementioned zucchini): "I know it's part of the job description, but I didn't sign up to be chopped like that! I need dignity, grace, style. That chef didn't have any of that, just tossing knives around and speaking in mock-Swedish. I jumped off my table and was turning in my resignation papers when I saw him cutting up Luisa (Chief's Note: Luisa is the onion). Onion volcanoes are only supposed to have three layers, but his had eight. I instantly knew there was going to be trouble, so I gathered my settlement check and headed for the nearby Whole Foods Market. They know how to treat a zucchini there."

Apprehension of the Suspect:

The suspect was found sitting on the curb next to the burning restaurant arguing with a terribly scalded batch of bean sprouts in barely coherent sentences of something resembling mock-Swedish. When approached by the officers, the suspect tried to explain himself, but only succeeded in provoking the bean sprouts into a ferocious attack. After the bean sprouts were subdued and taken to a local hospital, the suspect was taken into police custody to explain story. Unfortunately, nothing the suspect said was able to be understood by the police investigators. Our mock-Swedish translator was let go in the budget cut of 1985, so we just had to guess at what he said. It was sort of like playing Pictionary! Just without the pictures! And with somebody talking!

We were unable to understand a single thing he said. Oh well.

Charges:

We approached the owner of the restaurant inquiring about charges for the suspect; however, owner said he would settle for just getting the suspect banned from his restaurant permanently. "I had been looking for an excuse to remodel."

Charges not filed; case closed.

Does anybody know a good chinese place?

Chief Williams


"Muppet Boarding House, Scooter Grosse speaking."

"Excuse me?"

"You expect me to fall for the old "refrigerator running" gag? Andy and/or Randy, I'm going to tell Piggy on you guys!"

"What! This isn't you two? Then who is it?"

"Skeeter! Oh my goodness! You got me! I didn't recognize your voice at all! Very impressive."

"I didn't realize you were a practicing ventriloquist. How did you find the time to learn that with everything else you were doing down in Costa Rica?"

"Correspondence courses, I see."

"Well, how is everything else? I know you've been busy lately, with your ornithological observations and everything."

"Wow! You already finished your research in one year! I thought it was going to take four or five!"

"Well, my goodness, I guess it isn't every day you discover a previously unknown species of bird and manage to teach it English."

"I see. Where are you going to present this research?"

"Yale and Harvard and Princeton invited you! Impressive. Do you like one over the others?"

"Yale offered you a faculty position already! Do they know you're only a high school graduate?"

"They're waiving the undergraduate degree requirements for you? Wow! I always knew you were successful, but I didn't realize even you had this in you. Color me impressed!"

"What have I been up to? Well, I graduated from high school a couple months ago- did you get the pictures I emailed you?"

"Aw thanks! Hilda did some alterations on my cap and gown."

"What?"

"Oh, you asked what place I finished in my class. I finished 27th."

"Out of 307. That's top ten percent!"

"Yes, yes, I know you it doesn't measure up to you, finishing high school in two years and all, but I still did pretty good."

"College? You don't remember? Come on, sis! I'm going to UCLA to study theatre management and english. I want to work as a writer for the Muppet theatre along with being a stage manager. Give me some better lines in our new sketches, you know!"

"What else have I been doing? Nothing too much. Just trying to line up some guest stars for next season."

"I went to orientation last week too."

"The campus is big, but I should be able to find my way around with my trusty bike. Plus I put a map of everything right onto my phone."

"That's not nerdy! It's essential!"

"Anything else? Well, I have been helping Sweetums with the garden, but not much else."

"Oh yeah! I have been working on getting my license! It's a lot tougher than I thought it would be."

"Everybody's been taking me on the road, but the best driver and teacher is probably Rowlf."

"Well, Gonzo has a bad habit of driving blindfolded, Piggy uses the horn too much, Fozzie gets too weepy if anybody beeps the horn at him, Newsie can barely see even with his glasses, Dr. Teeth drives a little too fast, and Zoot falls asleep at the wheel."

"Sweetums? He can't fit in any of our cars."

"He takes a unicycle everywhere. You should see him. His sense of balance is impeccable."

"I had a hard time learning how to parallel park, but Rowlf took me to a parking lot and told me we weren't going to leave until I could do it."

"He took out a lawn chair and a bottle of ginger ale and coached me through it. Only took three hours."

"I'm taking the test next week."

"Rowlf's car. I'd use the Studebaker but it actually doesn't have working tail lights. Or head lights. Or brakes."

"Gonzo pretty much drives it exclusively now."

"He shifts it into neutral. Lets it coast."

"Only three accidents."

"This week."

"What about you? Do you have your license?"

"Which license?! You're silly. I mean driver's license, what do you think I meant, helicopter's license?"

"Oh. I see. You actually do have your helicopter's license. That's cool."

"You're driving a helicopter right now!? You can't talk on your cell phone when you're driving a car! I'd imagine you can't do the same on helicopters!"

"Oh, I guess being on speaker-phone does mean that your hands are free."

"Where are you flying to?"

"What!? You can't be serious!"

"You're coming to visit! Oh my goodness! I better get cleaned up! My room's a mess, I've got all my textbooks for next semester all over the floor."

"I have my own room now, actually. Lips moved out into the Electric Mayhem bus one day. Said I was too noisy."

"So when should I be expecting you? Rowlf should be home from the studio later tonight-I could drive with him to the airport to pick you up. That's where helicopters land right?"

"Step outside? Why do I need to go outside?"

"Fine, I trust you. I'll go outside."

"Well, I'm in the backyard. Thank goodness we have a cordless phone now. Now what?"

"Yes, we have a nice backyard. Lots of space. I set up a badminton net yesterday! You'd be surprised how good Camilla is at badminton. Has a wicked backhand."

"How much space? I don't know? I was never much good at perimeter and area. A couple acres, maybe."

"So what airport are you going to be landing at?"

"I don't need to worry about picking you up-come on, sis, I can't expect you to take a taxi!"

"Look up-why? Oh my goodness! Is that you?"

"Guess I better get back on the deck! Try to watch for the net when you land!"

"Well, I guess I could get a new net. They were on sale. But Camilla will be mad!"

"This is so exciting! I haven't seen you in forever! I can't wait until everybody gets home!"

"Yup, I'm by myself right now, but Rowlf should be back from the studio later, and Sam went to the grocery store, and Piggy went out to pick up some proofs from a photo shoot a few minutes before you called."

"Yeah, I definitely see you now."

"No, I'm up on the deck. You won't hit me, just the badminton net."

"You're clear, you're clear. Gosh, I wish I had those colored sticks they wave at the airport right now!"

"Guess I can hang up the phone now! Gosh, helicopters are loud when they land!"


"Five minutes to live!"

"Thanks!"

The newsman began to go over his lines in his head in anticipation of starting the segment. It was quite nerve-racking, but in a different way than he had ever experienced before. Working with the Muppet news always left him in danger of smashed by an anvil, torn into little pieces, or attacked by animals. Being out of the Muppet Theatre, he felt reasonably sure none of that would happen. But this was a big time news story and he was working for a big time show. Not just every reporter could be on 3600 Seconds, and Newsie felt that it was the highlight of his career just being asked to be on the show. Sure, it was the summer, and most of the regular reporters were on break, but that didn't matter. This was his chance to break into the big time, and finally be recognized as a legitimate reporter. Sure, the Muppet gig was nice; it paid well, the people were great, but the stories weren't the long-form pieces that every reporter wants to do at one point.

Newsie adjusted his tie in the front window of the store where the news truck was parked nearby. Have to look professional, he thought to himself. Didn't want to look like that hack Fleet Scribbler, who had inexplicably landed a gig on Freshly Squeezed News, a local morning show. Newsie had seen clips of his "reporting" online and wished there was some sort of Hippocratic Oath for reporters, because Scribbler was certainly violating a lot of unwritten rules. Unprofessional appearance, slanderous accusations, horrific banter. The worst moment was when he claimed Queen Elizabeth was a Russian spy from "the Kremlin" because she was wearing one of those furry sable hats. Awful. Fleet Scribbler was doing more to set back the advance of Muppets in journalism than the time Piggy slapped Barbara Walters during an interview.

Newsie began scanning the area around the store where he was reporting. It was "Auntie Margo's Organic Foods", what appeared to be a fairly sleepy, run-of-the-mill artsy grocery store. The kind of place where everything cost at least five dollars and the cashiers didn't have to wear uniforms because they were "too stifling". Newsie had been there before; it was a fairly short drive from the Muppet Theater and they had a pretty nice salad bar. He never thought that the quiet little store with the Paula Cole and Animal Collective playing constantly would have been such a hot bed of crime and scandal, but the production team gave him a wealth of documents and affidavits which turned him around. It was criminal to see that a grocery store would mistreat its most important resource. The food.

In the front of the store, underneath a large awning lay massive displays of all sorts of fruits; apples, pears, pineapples, peaches, oranges, everything. Giant signs emblazoned with "SALE BUY FOUR GET ONE FREE" and other such bargains hung on the window-front over the stands. A normal display- right? But all was not what it seemed.

"HEY! HEY! Newsie! Is that you?"

Newsie walked briskly over to the display of peaches, scanning them to try and locate the one who had screamed at him.

"Lucinda? Lucinda? Where are you?"

"Right here!" She had rolled forward to the front of the display.

"You ready for this interview? We go live in one minute."

"You bet I've been waiting to expose this Margo broad for the lying, cheating, cold-hearted little…"

"TWENTY SECONDS TO LIVE! NEWSIE GET BACK IN POSITION!"

Newsie ran up towards the camera, smoothed out his hair, adjusted his glasses, had a microphone thrust into his hand, then had it turned so the logo faced the front.

"FIVE FOUR THREE TWO ONE"

"Hello, and I'm in front of Auntie Margo's Organic Foods. You've just heard the first part of the story about poor working conditions for the fruits on display in front of the store. Long hours, no breaks, only fifteen minutes for lunch, and the constant fondling from passerby without the opportunity to be cleaned. Now that you've heard from the brave store employees who told the story of the poor working conditions, we're going to let you, the audience, hear from the fruit themselves, to dispel any doubts that the claims of the employees were exaggerated or untrue."

Newsie briskly paced over to the peaches, where Lucinda had perched herself right on top of all of her fellow fruits so the camera could better see her.

"I'm here with Lucinda, who is the union representative for the produce at this store. Lucinda, can you describe the working conditions imposed by Auntie Margo?"

"Let me tell you, this…this broad Margo, she's not the friendly neighborhood grocer she tries to be in her commercials! She's a slave-driver! She's a sadist! She makes us sit out here for hours without water breaks."

"How often are you supposed to have water breaks?"

"Ten minutes every two hours to get rinsed off. She won't let us inside unless we've worked for four hours! Four hours!"

"What other grievances do you have against Margo?"

"She lets her customers fondle us! Without wearing gloves! Imagine if people were feeling you up everyday for hours at a time? Dirty hands, dirty fingernails, YICCH!"

"I wasn't aware that people need to wear gloves while handling produce."

"Well, they should! I mean, look at your hands! Covered in germs."

Newsie glanced downward at his fingers. Pssh, I use Purell, he thought to himself, but he returned quickly to his interview.

"Now, Lucinda… hold on a second… my producer is signaling to me that Margo herself has pulled in to the parking lot. Perhaps we could try and get a statement from her live on the air, since she refused to provide on in advance."

Newsie pulled himself away from the fruit and began walking towards Margo, who had gotten out of a large black Cadillac. She had obviously known the news trucks were going to be in front of her store, as she already had her arms extended in the classic "NO COMMENT" pose and was wearing an incongruously large floppy hat as to obscure her face. Or hide her face as much as one could when it was emblazoned across a nearby sign-front.

"Margo? Margo? I'm with 3600 Seconds and we are looking for a statement on the allegations against your business."

"No comment."

"You do realize these are troubling charges of ill-treatment of produce in violation of fruit and vegetable bylaws."

"No comment."

"Lucinda has stated to me-"

"Lucinda will be proven a liar," said Margo with a cold voice. "Now that will be my ONLY comment. Please vacate these premises."

Before Newsie could even utter a response, Lucinda the peach screamed from the fruit stand.

"Say that to my face!"

"What?"

"I said, say that to my face! Is your hat covering your ears?"

Margo stalked over towards the peaches, while Newsie followed behind, frantically trailing the camera-woman. He knew not to say much right now, as his training had taught him to let the drama speak for itself. Such confrontations were not often captured live, and this would be a ratings blockbuster, and the kind of story that could really put a reporter on the map.

"You're a liar."

"Oh yeah? Well, see how you like being fondled by hundreds of people."

"What?"

Margo soon found out what that meant, as hundreds of peaches, apples, pears, and everything else outside flung themselves at her, sending her down to the ground in a pile of fruit.

"See how you like it! Not so much fun is it!", yelled an anonymous pear.

"You're my employees! Get off of me! MMMMH stop it!"

Margo soon was completely muffled out by the steady stream of giddy fruit who jumped upon her, while a flustered Newsie took a deep breath and then stepped into the view of the camera.

"Well, the fruit have certainly showed their disgust with Margo in full bloom today. I fully expect to see the police and SWAT team over here in a matter of minutes. Until then, back to you in the studio."


Janice sat in the passenger seat of her convertible, adjusting her hair in the rear view mirror while Floyd pulled into the long driveway of the Greater Los Angeles County School For Gifted and Talented Whatnots and Assorted Animals.

"Wow, Floyd, I can't believe that the school is having us come in and play for the kids. It's, like so cool to show the kids the power of a good tune."

Floyd eased the convertible into a parking space and turned to face Janice. "You know baby, it's the least we could do. The kids need the music like peanut butter needs jelly."

With the success of the Muppet Theater and show, the gang found themselves in possession of more money than they knew what to do with. A lot of the money went to a communal pot, devoted to the upkeep of the boarding house and other group costs. However, everybody got their own checks, and had free reign to invest and spend on whatever. Scooter got himself a new iPad, Dr. Teeth bought the original mellotron used by Ian McDonald on In The Court of the Crimson King, Gonzo installed a high jump in the backyard, the list went on. But one of the best things that came from having money was the ability to help the less fortunate out with it, so the gang provided for a new music education program at the local school. Money for instruments, a new addition to the school, and the hiring of a full-time teacher was provided by their generous donation. The teacher, Miss Marilyn Dunphy, a young, excitable giraffe, met Floyd and Janice by their car.

Towering over the two of them, Marilyn's good cheer was enough to nearly bowl them over.

"Hello! It's great to see you! The children are excited to see you! If the instruments could talk, I'm sure they'd be excited to see you too!"

Floyd shook his head slowly. "Good to see you too."

Janice shook Marilyn's hand. "So, um, where are the little kiddies?"

"Oh yes! The music classroom is right this way," she said as she gestured towards an open door on the far side of the school.

The three of them made their way into the school, which was built surprisingly large to accommodate the monsters and animals of all sizes that entered their doors. Inside the music classroom, which was built in a new extension off of the cafeteria, were all sorts of instruments. Violins, violas, and cellos, all sorts of brass and reeds, pianos, keyboards, guitars, basses, even a giant harp in the back where a wide-eyed oversized red furry monster was trying to figure out the best way to play it. Lots of kids were sitting around, idly playing their instruments or just talking to each other while they waited for the teacher to start class.

"Like, wow, this is the best classroom of ever! These kids sure are lucky, my school's music program didn't even have a full-time teacher or a guitar. I had to learn the viola. No offense-" she gestured towards a gazelle brandishing a viola like a gun who shot her a dirty look- " but the guitar is so much more exciting."

"My school didn't even have a music program," said an impressed Floyd. "I learned guitar from a guy busking on the street in front of the grocery store I worked at. After a couple lessons I bagged out on bagging' groceries and took my acoustic to the streets myself."

Marilyn was impressed.

"I thought you played bass, Floyd?"

"I picked up bass at Berkelee College of Music."

"Oh! That's so amazing! Let me get the kids organized."

Marilyn moved to the front of the classroom and clapped her hands excitedly.

"Kids, kids. We have some special guests today."

"Who?"

"Did they bring food, because lunch sucked today?"

"Terry you idiot, if you wanted free food you should have signed up with the cooking program."

"Ahem. You all know that Kermit the Frog and the Muppets provided the generous donation that built this music program-"

"THE MUPPETS STINK."

"I like that dog, what's his name, Ralph?"

"My mom won't let me watch their show, she says it's too racy."

"-so we have two of the Muppets here today to talk about music and play with you guys."

"Aw man, did the rat come? He's so funny."

"Miss Dunphy, can I go blow my nose?"

"Where'd I put my cell phone?"

"Have you guys heard of the Electric Mayhem?"

"Are they on Roc-A-Fella?"

"Were they on The Voice?"

"Too poppy."

"Well, we've got their guitarist Janice and bassist Floyd to answer all your questions. Remember, I told you yesterday afternoon to think of questions to ask them."

Blank stares met Marilyn's eyes.

"All right, here they are, Floyd and Janice."

Floyd and Janice slowly walked out in front of the class, whispering to each other.

"Man, these kids are some rowdy little youngsters."

"Like, I think one of them is making spitballs!"

"Hey everybody! So we hear you guys are studying music."

"DUH."

"Floyd and I have been making music for a long time-"

"That's what I heard on TMZ."

The little green monster who cracked that comment slapped five with the giant brown one next to him.

Janice huffed under her breath and Floyd took over.

"So do you little rascals have any questions for us, about what it's like to be a touring musician, or picking up an instrument, or anything that's burning a hole in your mind?"

A gawky looking ostrich raised his hand.

"How long does it take you to write a song? I've been trying to write my own song for the piano, but it's really hard."

Janice answered. "Like what a good question! It really depends on, you know, my mood. Like have you heard the song "You Can't Take No For An Answer"?"

The ostrich shook his head no.

Floyd cut in. "Really? That song was a Top 40 hit. They don't play that on the radio anymore?"

Janice shot him a bemused look and stepped back in. "Like, I had the idea for the chorus, and then I played it for Dr. Teeth, and we came up with the verses in like an hour."

"Wow! I've been working on my song for a whole week."

"What's it about? Love? A pretty girl?"

"Actually, it's a suite about Fiver from Watership Down. I'm having a hard time working out the bridge for the second movement after the organ solo."

"Sounds, um, ambitious. Like, just have faith in yourself, and it'll work out. Next question?"

A small parrot raised her hand.

"Do you guys play any other instruments aside from the guitar and bass?"

Floyd answered first. "I play a little guitar, I tickle the ivories, I hit the sticks."

"I used to play the viola before I took up guitar, and it's really a good instrument in the end," said Janice taking great pains to make eye contact with the gazelle she offended before, who still had a dirty look on her face, but had eased off of waving the viola like a weapon.

Floyd smiled. "Any other questions? How about you hep cat with the glasses?"

"EXCUSE ME! I'M A--MONGOOSE."

"It's a figure of speech."

"Oh. Well, I wanted to know which of the Muppets was the nicest to you guys?"

"That's got to be my main man, Rowlf the Dog, he's the top tickler of the ivories in the continental 48. Always willing to jam with me when I need to work out a new song."

Janice stepped in. "Like, I definitely agree with Floyd here. Rowlf's just a really nice guy. I love doing those Veterinarian's Hospital skits."

"How about Kermit? Is he a nice boss?"

Both Muppets nodded in assent, and Janice spoke up first.

"Like, I can't tell you how many times Kermit has helped me out of a tricky jam. Like this one time, this crook said he was going to start a website with these pictures of me he like found of me at the beach-"

Marilyn cut in, terrified about what Janice was going to say. "What great questions! You guys are being very well behaved today! Timmy, how about you ask your question now?"

The monster who was playing the harp before raised his hand.

"Janice, are you and Floyd married?"

This question raised the attention level of the rest of the class by three-fold.

"Well they said on Chelsea Lately-"

"She used to go out with the sax player, I think."

Marilyn leapt out of her seat aside Janice and Floyd to try and restore order in the class.

"Timmy! That's not appropriate to ask our guests. Stick to music questions from now on."

However, her cries went unanswered, as the class erupted in a din of rumors and innuendo.

"What's the sax player's name again? Boober? Zooter?"

"Zoot, you dummy."

"I heard Janice had a crush on Lips."

"Lips? I bet she was the one who hired him, to give her squeeze a steady job."

"I wonder if Kermit and Piggy are really married too."

"I heard that Piggy and Link-"

"Man, you're crazy, it's her and Fozzie-"

Marilyn continued to plead with the class to quiet down, but it was a lost cause. Janice and Floyd remained bewildered at the front of the classroom.

"Aren't you glad we never had any kids? Like, they're so nosy."

"The kids mean well, they're just a little jumpy, a little excited. Somebody put some extra sugar in their coffee this morning."

Marilyn turned around.

"I'm sorry that the class isn't behaving, but I'll get them under control in a moment. But- just between you and me- are you guys married or not? I'm dying to know."


Miss Piggy walked out onto the rehearsal stage, which was lavishly covered with the trappings of a bedroom. A giant king size bed with white sheets, massive wood-paneled television console, an ornate and well-stocked bar, and a large mirror hanging over the bed.

"Perfect!", she said to herself. "The set looks fantastic. Now if only I could get the actors in line as well."

Directing a play was hard work, but Piggy was determined to pull it off. She had been playing (no pun intended) with the idea for a couple of years, since she decided to do a little stage work as a change of pace. She stepped in to play the role of Amanda in Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie for a two-week run in New York in between changes in the lead role, and did a smash-up job. The press noted that she could hold her own with the challenging source material, and not overplay as was her alleged forte in Muppet productions. But aside from the positive reviews (which certainly never hurt), the thrill of the stage was what excited her. Sure, filming the new show they always gave off the idea that everything was live, and while some things were spontaneous, but a lot of it was rehearsed to perfection. There was a challenge to being on stage; the high-wire act of having to be on top of her game no matter what the conditions or circumstances motivated her. It reminded her of the early days of the Muppets, when they did a lot of local shows and live work, where the crowds could swing an event easily.

The success of her work in New York had drawn the attention of the American Porcine Theater Company, who offered her creative control on their planned summer adaptation of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, citing her familiarity with the work of Tennessee Williams. She was unsure at first; after all, it was a big step to go from merely acting to directing a show. But after a lot of gentle encouragement from Kermit, she accepted and went to work.

Things were hard, especially when she found that "creative control" meant "please mold these actors into something presentable". The American Porcine Theater Company, although extremely prestigious, had fallen on some hard times in regards to actors and really needed this production to come off well. Piggy wanted to play Margaret, but directing and playing a lead role was just too much, so she had to open it up for auditions.

Unfortunately, the leading candidate for the role had been none other than Annie Sue, who Piggy drove out of the Muppet Theater on a rail back so long ago. Annie Sue had since turned to the stage, and had a rather accomplished career in musicals, working her way from traveling productions of Three's Company! Live! to playing the lead role in a revival of Annie Get Your Gun. She looked at this as her chance to prove she could do serious drama, not just fluff. Piggy expected to toss her out of the audition room by her ears, but Annie Sue was good. Not just good, but great. Fantastic. Tony material. Even Piggy had to admit it. She became Margaret, had the accent perfect, the mannerisms, everything. Piggy wanted to fire her, she wanted to embarrass her, but this was not the time for something petty. Annie Sue could give the show the lift it desperately needed.

However, no such lift was coming from her Brick. Link Hogthrob had been the only candidate willing to tackle such a role, and Piggy had no other chance but to hire him for Brick. Annie Sue wiped the floor with him during the table reads, and Piggy worried that the entire play wouldn't work. He had proven to be even weaker an actor than from his Muppet material. Piggy thought his days on My Stepfather, The Pig, his short-lived sitcom would have made him a slightly better actor, but if anything it made him more egotistical. Link offered his two cents on every issue, from staging to the depictions of other characters to what shape of mirror best reflected his looks (rectangular). Link thought he was Al Pacino, and he could barely get through a scene without fouling up.

Everything else was comparatively easy; the smaller roles were casted easily, her vision for the set was built to perfection, but Link proved to be the toughest hurdle to lift. Today was the first real official dress rehearsal, and Piggy had carefully instructed him to bring his "A-game" tomorrow, or else she was going to see to it that his dressing room was relocated to the alley behind the theater.

"All right, everybody. Today is a big day- BIG DAY- and I hope everybody is ready for a long day, because we're going to work until everything looks perfect."

Her group of actors seemed excited. All right, she thought to herself, We've got this now.

"Let's start from the beginning of the first scene. Annie, Link, to your places."

Annie took her place next to the bedroom door, or what would have been the door had the set been completely finished. Link obscured himself behind the bathroom door which was next to the giant bed. The bathroom had been a point of contention to Link, as he insisted that the prop sink needed to have water connected to it even during rehearsals as the bathroom would otherwise not be "authentic". Piggy, unwilling to shell out for a temporary sink deferred until Link tried to modify the sink himself, nearly shattering the walls of the set in the process. A new sink was quickly hauled in the next day.

"Ready, one, two, three, action," yelled Piggy.

Annie stormed onto the stage, perfectly capturing the high-strung, anxious attitude of Margaret.

"One of those no-neck monsters hit me with a hot buttered biscuit so I have to change!"

Link was supposed to poke his head out of the bathroom to address Annie Sue, but he instead chose to recite his lines from inside the bathroom.

"Wha'd you say Maggie? Water was on so loud I couldn't hear you."

"CUT! Link, you're supposed to stand in the bathroom door to say that line."

"But Piggy," said Link as he advanced towards the front of the stage. "It doesn't say that he finished using the bathroom in the stage directions."

Piggy was taken aback. "What are you talking about? You're supposed to hear Margaret enter the room, yell, and then peek out of the bathroom."

"But did Brick use the bathroom before Maggie came in?"

"Why would that matter to your reading of the scene?"

"It changes everything, Piggy."

Piggy knew Link was a little thick and full of himself, but this was too much for her. She took a deep breath in an attempt to compose herself before continuing onward.

"Exactly how would what Brick was doing in the bathroom affect the scene and his character?"

"Can he not hear Maggie because of the toilet and the sink or just the sink? The sonics are different."

Annie Sue flopped down onto the bed and pulled a laptop out of behind the pillows. She had clearly know something like this was going to happen and planned accordingly. Meanwhile, Piggy advanced onto the stage to address Link directly.

"Imagine that you just went into the bathroom just to wash your hands, and only the sink is making noise."

"Okay, that's better. Now I can proceed."

Piggy shook her head and signaled for Annie Sue to return offstage.

"Ready, one, two, three, action!"

"One of those no-neck monsters hit me with a hot-buttered biscuit so I have to change!"

Link turned off the water and leaned out the door of the bathroom. Piggy gave a barely perceptible sigh of relief that Link was able to get that stage direction correct.

"Wha'd you say Maggie? Water was on so loud that I could't hear you."

"I just remarked that one of the no-neck monsters-"

"They're not monsters, they're children, precious children, beautiful children, and you should speak of them better."

Piggy's eyes went wide. Link improvising again?!! "CUT! CUT!"

She stormed onto the stage, immediately running past the slack-jawed Annie Sue, who was staring incredulously at Link, and immediately went into to doorway of the bathroom to address him.

"Link! What was that little speech? Brick does not care about the children! He does not care about anything aside from what's in his glass and his friend Skipper. He is not going to deliver some speech like that…that sounds like it came from an episode of your crummy sitcom's finale. Explain yourself."

Link shrugged his shoulders. "Well, Piggy, I decided to put my own spin on the character of Brick. You know, it's called artistic license. And my sitcom was not crummy. It lasted for seventeen episodes and is still shown in reruns in Latvia. We might even be reviving the show over there."

"Artistic license! Artistic license! I gave you no such permission-"

"Piggy, have you actually read this play? And by read, I mean read. You know, reading."

Piggy had not heard such gobbledygook and double talk since she helped Kermit write a Planet Koozebane sketch, and was somehow utterly shocked at Link's attitude. Piggy took a glance back and saw that Annie Sue had resumed her spot on the bed using her laptop, and had somehow acquired a salad, iced tea, and tray table. She clearly had to have known this was coming, Piggy thought to herself.

"Where in the play could you have any reason that Brick is a devoted family man? Please point this out to me. Enlighten me."

Having thrust a script into Link's hand, Piggy tapped her foot while he flipped through the pages, increasingly more and more frantically until he dropped the script.

"Piggy, Piggy, Piggy, there's no need to rely on the script as the best way to read the play."

"What?"

"You have to feel the script in order to read it properly. You know, like how I used to handle Pigs In Space. I felt the script, looked between the lines, between every possible angle, and then decided how to act."

"You just made cracks at me and looked in a mirror. Now, why are you playing Brick like this?"

"This play needs to be funnier. It's…it's…too heavy. That's not what the audience wants."

"They darn sure want it, they darn sure know that this play is heavy, that's what it's supposed to be. Now go back and read your lines the right way before I fire you."

Link shuffled off back into the bathroom. "Gee, Piggy, when we did My Stepfather, The Pig, The TV Movie: The Vacation the directors used to let me down whatever I wanted."

"Please. Just follow the script. Please."

"Okay, but are you sure I can't change-"

"Follow. The. Script."

"Okay."

Piggy slowly crept back to her chair, and proceeded to start the scene again. Hopefully it would go well this time.

"Three, two, one-"

Link cried out again. "Piggy, wait."

"What is it now Link? Would you like me to change the name of your character? The name of the play?"

"How about getting this toilet hooked up as well? Adds to the ambience and improves the sonics."



When The Morning Light Passes Through The Windows of The Electric Mayhem Bus You Can See Clearly (How Messy It Really Is) Scene: The Electric Mayhem Bus. A truly psychedelically decorated vehicle, the bus should evoke the looming images of fast food bags and sparsely attended gigs in Wichita, Kansas (no offense to all you in Wichita). There are instrument cases scattered about the seats of the bus, guitars, saxophones, other string instruments, even a triangle. In the back of the bus, a makeshift bed has been made by flipping the back of one seat down into the base of another.

Here is where you will find Zoot, the slightly unkempt saxophone player. Sleeping in his usual semi-bohemian clothing, even with his glasses still on, Zoot looks as if he is used to such uncomfortable beds. This may even be one of the most comfortable. Using his hat as a stand-in pillow, Zoot's stringy hair flips widely over his head as he breathes in and out.

Across from Zoot, sits his fellow musician Animal. He has fallen asleep sitting up, head lying against his chest, letting out quite the window-shaking snores. His shreds of clothing move with the forces of his snores, but the one thing that does not move are the drumsticks in his hands, which are tightly gripped like a sort of security blanket. His small feet are chained to the base of his seat, a precautionary measure taken by Floyd before him and Janice left for the day.

While Zoot and Animal sleep through the early morning, Beauregard steps outside the Muppet Boarding House and lifts often the garage door, to take out a leaf blower. It's time to clean out the gutters. As the leaf blower is slowly wound up, Zoot's peaceful sleep is broken.

Zoot (sleepily, hand scratching his head): What?

Leaf blower continues blasting in the background, while Zoot lazily sits up and places his hat on his head, smoothing out his hair.

Zoot (looking out window): Oh. Beauregard. The leaf blower. 

Zoot slowly makes his way to the middle of the bus, gingerly opening up an instrument case, which contains his livelihood, his lover, his therapist, his everything, his nothing, his something. His saxophone. He picks the instrument, sits down in the seat, and begins softly blowing a tune, which is barely perceptible over the din of Beauregard's leaf blower.

As Zoot plays, Beauregard continues to blow leaves around, but is momentarily distracted by a motorcycle whooshing up the street at dangerous speeds that may or not have been driven by Rizzo. While turning around, Beauregard inadvertently drops the leaf blower, which begins bucking wildly as if it has been possessed by the spirit of a mechanical bull. The leaf blower gallops throughout the yard, while Beauregard nobly chases it around in a fruitless pursuit.

Zoot (looking out other window): The leaf blower. Beauregard. Oh.

Meanwhile, the excessive noise of the bucking leaf blower and Beauregard's yells and yelps have began to shake Animal out of his slumber. Animal lifts his head, slowly, blinks, and stares out the window to determine what woke him up.

Animal (with emotion): NOISE! NOISE! WAS SLEEPING! RUDE!

Zoot (looking towards the back of the bus): It's just Beauregard.

Animal (slightly calmer): OH…. DRUMS?

Zoot: In a minute.

Animal appears momentarily placated and contents himself slapping the back of the seat he was sleeping on. Meanwhile, Zoot gently puts down his saxophone back into its case, and makes his way to the back of the bus to retrieve Animal. This would normally be Floyd's job, but he and Janice snuck away today for a date at the beach, so Zoot volunteered to take care of him.

While Zoot walks to the back of the bus, and while Beauregard continues to chase the leaf blower throughout the front yard of the boarding house, another figure appears in the foreground. Walking down the sidewalk with a newspaper in one hand and a coffee in the other is Lips. The sometime trumpeter of the Electric Mayhem enjoyed starting off his day with a quiet breakfast, with weather permitting he would enjoy on the front porch of the boarding house.

Lips slowly walks down the sidewalk and stops short, noticing Beauregard running around the yard, still no closer to capturing the leaf blower. Both George and Mildred have been drawn outside by the noise and are attempting to help corral the leaf blower as well. However, the leaf blower proves to remain elusive.

In the bus, Zoot gingerly frees Animal from his chains and begins to walk him down the aisle towards the door. Animal is eagerly gripping his drumsticks and smiling at the thought of going down to the rehearsal room to bash the drums.

Zoot opens the door of the bus and Animal steps out, blinking in the bright morning sun. His eyes suddenly dart toward the galloping leaf blower, and the three poor fellows chasing it. A look of excitement crosses his face, and he runs out of Zoot's grasp, leaving Zoot slack-jawed and dumbfounded.

Zoot (slack-jawed and dumbfounded): The leaf blower. Beauregard. George. Mildred. Oh, man.

Animal (from atop the leaf blower): YEAH! YEAH! 

Beauregard, George, and Mildred make their way to the front porch, as the leaf blower has at least has been corralled and is now therefore Animal's responsibility. Besides, it's about time for breakfast by now. Zoot shrugs his shoulders at the sight of Animal on the leaf blower, and returns to the bus. The sound of the saxophone is soon heard as George, Mildred, and Beauregard enter the house and close the front door.

Lips, who has remained on the sidewalk the entire time, shakes his head and smiles. It becomes clear that he has seen a similar scene before. He makes his way up the driveway, onto the porch, and spreads out his newspaper at the table, while Animal continues to ride around the yard on the leaf blower and Zoot plays the saxophone in the background.

End Scene


"Morning, Waldorf."

"Morning, Statler."

"So…do anything interesting lately?"

"I bought some new slippers yesterday."

"Why? Did your old pair surrender?"

"No, I wore a hole in the bottom of the right slipper."

"I see."

"So I went to Fleischmann's Footwear-"

"Fleischmann's? Is Frank still there?"

"No, Frank retired."

"Mmm. What about Ernest?"

"No, Ernest's gone."

"Went up to that shoe tree in the sky?"

"No, you fool. He went to work at Target."

"Oh good! He owes me ten bucks."

"Well then! So I went into the store and was looking at the slippers. Now you know I need size nine wide- regular size nine won't do."

"You're certainly an irregular person."

"Thanks, you old fool! As I was saying, I was browsing the slippers and noticed they didn't have any in my size, so I approached one of the clerks."

"Frank?"

"No, her name was Aliza."

"Ah. She related to Frank?"

"I think so, they had similar ears."

"Yeah, she got her father's ears."

"How can you tell?"

"Well, her dad's a rabbit, and she's a rabbit, so...."

"She does not have her father's ears! His are floppier."

"No! Her mother's are floppier."

"Don't ears skip a generation? Maybe it's her grandparents."

"I don't know what you're talking about anymore."

"What else is new?"

"Get on with your story."

"Anyway. I asked her her if she had any size nine wide slippers, and she seemed confused, and said she'd check in the back."

"The back, yep, the back."

"So I stood there and waited and waited and waited and waited."

"Well?"

"She never came back!"

"What?"

"I stood there for fifteen minutes and she never came back."

"I guess the back was farther away than you thought."

"No, you fool! She went on her lunch break. She just left for lunch and didn't tell anyone to wait on me."

"The nerve! What did you do?"

"I left, and I went to Target and got a pair of slippers from Ernest."

"Did you get my ten dollars?"

"No, you fool. I didn't realize he owed you ten dollars. Collect your own debts."

"So how are the slippers?"

"Great. Really comfortable."

"That's good."

"Anything happen to you?"

"No, not really. There was a Matlock marathon yesterday, so I watched a few episodes."

"Oooh! He really knew how to crack those cases."

"Yeah."

"Yeah."

"What are we doing?"

"Talking. Breathing. I saw you pick your nose earlier."

"No, I mean why are we at the theater? No one else is here except the two of us. Everyone else is off doing something else. There's no show for another two months."

"Well, this is the only time that stage's is being put to good use!"

"Oh!"

"Oh!"


The sheepdog slowly whipped his tail back and forth, lost in a dream of limitless piles of kibble and biscuits, until his slumber was interrupted by someone quietly fumbling with the lock to the door of the apartment. Sprocket cautiously leaned back in his bed, ready to strike in case a robber was trying to come in.

"Hi Sprocket! How's my old boy doing?"

Relieved that it was Doc instead of a robber or door-to-door salesman, Sprocket ran up the door excitedly, panting and barking while Doc hung his coat and hat up on the back of the door.

"I see you've kept the house in good shape while I was at my meeting."

Sprocket nodded in assent.

"And you even folded the laundry! Thank you so much! I picked up a special treat for you on the ride home; the pet shop was selling a new brand of dog biscuits. Says these combine the best flavors of both beef and chicken! Just give a minute and I'll get one out for you."

"Ruff!"

Doc placed the box down on the kitchen counter, went to open it, then suddenly turned around to face Sprocket. "But first- you wouldn't believe what happened at tonight's North American Society of Tinkerers meeting."

"Rrro?"

"Well, after we took minutes and attendance and Ned Shimmelfinney showed off his new automatic egg beater- yes, Sprocket, the same one that went flying out of his kitchen window two weeks ago- we had a special guest speaker."

"Ruff?"

"His name was Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, and he worked out in Los Angeles at a place called Muppet Laboratory. I'm not sure what university he's affiliated with- seems like an Ivy League guy to me, probably Dartmouth-, but he's lecturing this summer about the latest developments at their lab."

"Ruff ruff rro."

"He was this short, stocky guy, with some giant glasses. And he had this assistant, Beaker, who was this tall, skinny guy with bright red hair. It was hard to understand what he was saying, he sort of mumbled. Didn't speak English very well either. 'Meep' this 'meep' that. He must have been an exchange student from Europe."

"Rrrr?"

"I don't know which country, maybe Switzerland or Austria. I went to Austria in college for a semester, it was a fun place to study. Have you ever been to Vienna?"

"Rrrro."

"Oh well, you should go someday, it's a nice place."

"Rrrrr."

"Well, the two of them went up to the front of the hall and started their presentation."

"Rrro?"

"Yes, PowerPoint. Though it took awhile to load up and Beaker got his finger caught in the laptop's CD drive. Poor thing looked pretty shook up."

"Rrraahh rrahhh?"

"I didn't laugh! What kind of cold-hearted man do you think I am?"

"Rrro?"

"Regardless, he launched up the presentation: Muppet Labs: Where The Future Is Still Being Made Today."

"Rrrr."

"Yes, very impressive slogan. Truly dynamic."

Sprocket shook his front right paw as if to demand Doc move on with the story.

"Well, Bunsen was extremely proud of their latest development in the field of laundry, the Sock Stabilizer 2500. See, it was a machine that would fix the little holes in bottoms of perfectly good pairs of socks. That's the kind of invention that we need, Sprocket. Think about how much money I've spent on socks the past year alone. At least thirty dollars!"

"Rrro?"

"It was on a table in front of where they were speaking. It looked like a microwave, except a little wider. He put the sock in the door and poured some detergent in the top slot, and voila. 10 minutes to a repaired sock. Six dollars saved!"

Sprocket looked like he wouldn't mind spending the six dollars for a new bag of socks, but let Doc go on with the story.

"Then he had Beaker bring out the next invention, which funnily enough came in a beaker. Isn't that ironic, Sprocket? Beaker carrying a beaker. What a coincidence."

"Rrro."

"The scientist launched into a speech about how so many people in the word truly lacked dancing ability and what is called "rhythm" in the scientific world. This is something I obviously never had to deal with, but I've seen plenty of people who can't dance. Like Ned Shimmelfinney. He embarrassed everyone at the holiday party last year."

"Rrraaahaaahaaaa."

"Yes, his attempt at the electric slide was rather weak. But Bunsen said he had invented a solution to help all the rhythmless people in the world. It was called the Insta-Rhythm Supplement, a little purple liquid. Evidently if you drank a couple sips, you could have the gift of fleet feet for a couple of hours. So Bunsen brought the beaker over to Beaker, and asked him to drink some of it. Beaker didn't want to, and Bunsen insisted. They went back and forth for a minute."

"Rrro?"

"Beaker seemed a little scared or something. I don't know why, I guess it must be the language barrier, perhaps he didn't understand everything Bunsen was saying. So Bunsen put the beaker in Beaker's hand, and Beaker kept putting it back into Bunsen's hand, until finally Beaker accidentally dropped it. The liquid poured into the top slot of the Sock Stabilizer, which they had forgot to close evidently."

"Rrro? Rrrr?"

"All of a sudden smoke started billowing from the machine, and it began shaking all over the place like there was an animal in there. We in the audience were startled, and Beaker and Bunsen just stood there, gawking at the machine. Finally the door burst open."

"Rrro?" Sprocket put his paw to his mouth in anticipation.

"A giant sock came out of the machine, it must have been at least three feet long. I have no idea how it fit in there, it must have been coiled on top of itself. And it started to dance! It danced amazingly, it did the waltz, the samba, the foxtrot, everything. It grabbed Beaker and Bunsen and attempted to conga with them, which quickly broke up the meeting."

"Rrro rwow. Rwow."

"We all fled for the exits and our cars. I ran like haven't in years. As I was pulling out parking lot with Ned, the sock was break-dancing in the lobby of the building while holding Bunsen and Beaker in its heel. Very scary."

"Ruff."

"Well, it wasn't a total disaster.

Sprocket looked skeptical. "Ruff-ruff?"

"But, Sprocket, there were no holes in the sock."


Alex was lost. Lost. Hansel And Gretel lost. Cast Away lost. Lost lost.

It wasn't entirely his fault, being from Indiana and sent on business at the last minute by his boss to Los Angeles. He didn't expect this, not at all. Certainly didn't anticipate having to have the GPS application on his iPhone. Certainly didn't think he'd ever need that any time soon. Now he was wandering around suburban Los Angeles, looking for a little office building containing a little office containing a little architect who had a little blueprint that absolutely could not be sent by email. The whole thing just made him completely frustrated.

The only redeeming factor was the lavish surroundings that Alex slowly made his way through, looking for 275 Hotchkiss Avenue Suite 2. Lots of large houses with perfectly manicured lawns and nice cars in the driveways. BMWs, Mercedes, Audis, even some Porsches. Certainly put his rented 2003 Ford Focus to shame, though that wasn't his fault.

It was fun imagining who lived in the houses around here. Sure, they were probably real estate agents and doctors and professors most likely, but maybe one of them was an athlete. Or a singer. Or an actor. Heck, maybe all three! And maybe he'd see one of them out walking to their car or to get the mail. And then he'd kindly wave, and they'd wave back and smile, and he'd be able to say he "met" a celebrity. It would go a long ways to making up for this godawful trip.

However, at this point, none of that really mattered, because Alex was really lost. It had been forty-five minutes for what should have been a twenty minute drive, and all the houses were starting to look the same. Have I been here before? Did I go down that side street? Why won't my boss answer his cell phone?

Finally, Alex pulled over out of complete frustration. He truly had no idea where he was and time was ticking away. What was he going to do?

Then-out of the blue- he heard a voice from up the street. Yes! I can find them and ask for directions, then I'll be golden.

As he slowly made his way up the road, the voice turned out not to be speaking but singing. Hmm….maybe I'll meet a famous singer! Get directions and a cool story.

Alex slowed to a stop in front of a large mansion, and saw a man hammering away at an electric keyboard in his garage, next to a couple of motorcycles and what remained of a go-cart.

"I stand accused of lovin' you too much and I hope, I hope it's not a crime 'cause if it is, I'm guilty of lovin' you, lovin' you….."

The man launched into a keyboard solo, looked up and then noticed Alex sitting in his car, still waiting for the right moment to start talking.

"Saluations good sir! It is just the finest afternoon to be playing the blues! Or the souls!"

"Um……" Alex was left speechless as the strangely dressed man made his way to the car. A fluffy purple hat, weird glasses, blindly contrasting fur vest and shirt, loads of rings, and a gold tooth.

"Well, you appear to be at a certain feeling of unease. Sweat on your brow, shaky fingers on the steering wheel, telltale signs of anxiety. What's bringing you down?"

"Well…I'm lost."

"Most of us are yes, most of us are. The only time I really know where I am is when I'm behind that piano. The notes move from my brain to my arm to the keyboard and then-BOOM!" The man popped his hands in front of Alex's face, causing him to jump in the seat.

"I…I am lost. I am supposed to be at 275 Hotchkiss Avenue Suite 2."

The man scratched his beard and pondered the address for a minute.

"Oh. That kind of lost. The more transient kind."

"Yes, I have to pick up something for my boss."

"Ah, the boss man. Don't let him get you down."

"Well, I do like drawing a paycheck every week, so…"

"Ah, money. Moolah. Bread. Everybody needs it, don't they? Makes the world go round."

"Yes, well, I need it and I need my job. I don't want to go back to stocking shelves at Shelly's Corner Market and Liquor."

"Shelly's Corner Market and Liquor? In Terre Haute, Indiana?"

"Yes." Alex was shocked.

"Me and my band played there once. Got a box of wine thrown at my head when I wouldn't sing "I Love the Nightlife". Great crowd."

"Yes, it was quite the place."

"Those places have character. I've played places like that, they have the most receptive, engaged audiences."

"That's nice, but I really need to be going-"

"I've played everywhere. Me and the band would play any gig as long as they fed us. A dentist office once brought us in because their radio broke. We got free cleanings and got to take two things from the treasure chest each. It was one of our more lucrative gigs."

"Wow. Sounds rough. Now, can you help me find my way-"

"Another time we played at the opening of a fish market. Only thing was the fish didn't like our music. Said it was too loud, not enough strings. The lobsters attacked us and tossed us into the street before we could get our payment."

"How much?"

"A pound each."

"Were you in England?"

"No, in Santa Monica. We each were going to get a pound of fish. That would have been six pounds total, some good meals right there. Have you ever had tilapia?"

"Like I said, I really need to be going-"

"Oh man, your taste buds are missing out on the quite the culinary delight. Take some tilapia, coat it in lemon and olive oil, toss it on the grill, serve it with roasted zucchini, perfect meal right there."

"That sounds good. I'll have to try it, if I am able to pay for food once I am fired, which will certainly happen if I don't get to the office soon."

"Oh yeah! You need some direction in your life. Let me be your compass and set you in the right way, so that you can see the forest for the trees, though we mostly have palm trees around here."

"Okay."

"You want to go straight."

"And…"

"That's it. Just go straight about a mile, then the road hits a dead end and the building is at the end of the cul-de-sac."

"So I could have been there fifteen minutes ago had I not stopped to talk to you." A look of visible dread poured over Alex's face.

"Ah yes, but the conversation was flowing. It was truly meaningful."

Alex had sped away by the time the man had finished his sentence, leaving him alone in the driveway.

"Guess he's not much of a talker. Oh well.""Wayne! Wayne! Could you get out of the bathroom? We are on stage in ten minutes!"


"Coming! I need to finish whitening my teeth. This whitening pen isn't the easiest to maneuver around my molars."

Wanda kicked the door once for good measure and stood outside, huffing impatiently. After what seemed like an eternity, Wayne came out, teeth nearly blinding Wanda.

"Thank goodness you're done. I thought I was going to have to ask some roadie to sing your parts. Now we can start heading to the stage. This is a big concert, I expect you to be on the top of your game tonight."

"You don't have to worry tonight, I promise."

"None of this scenery falling down or stagehands eating you business. You need to make it through the entire set tonight, or else I start recording that solo album."

"You wouldn't!" Wayne gasped.

"I will! I've got Daryl Hall's agent's number and can have him in for a duet like that! People have always said I have the voice for adult contemporary." She snapped her fingers right in front of Wayne's nose.

"You act like bad stuff happens every time we perform together-"

"It does, actually."

Wayne was left speechless, but that was something Wanda was used to.

"Look, we've been rehearsing this new material for months, and we're getting better. We're making progress. This could be big for us."

After Sam the Eagle unceremoniously let the duo go from under his wing, Wayne and Wanda scuffled to find a new sound. Standards were out- those didn't sell anymore. Audiences wanted something edgier, something more exciting, and, by golly, they were going to give it to them. 

They tried disco (Rolling Stone': "Wayne and Wanda's new album will clear the dance floor faster than a pack of rabid boars."). They tried new wave and synth-pop (Billboard: "The new wave has officially washed up on shore, and it's no more welcome than oil at the beach."). They tried soul balladry (The New York Times:"What Wayne and Wanda did to soul music should be a felony, or at least a misdemeanor."). They even tried salsa (The Surgeon General's Office:"''Listening to Wayne and Wanda will cause stomach pains, headaches, blindness, loss of rhythm, tone-deafness, and desire to listen to Michael Bolton.").

But that didn't stop them. After their latest platter was banned in 49 states (Wayne and Wanda: He's A Little Bit Jazz, She's A Little Bit Fusion), the two headed back to the Muppet boarding house to plot their next move. After considering forays into reggaeton and crime-rap, the due figured out their next move.

Perhaps the problem was that they tried to write their own material. After all, it was hard to write a song, let alone churn out twelve for an album. Maybe they could give the pen a rest for a little bit. And lots of fine artists didn't write their own songs, instead preferring to rely on covers. Linda Ronstadt, Diana Ross, William Shatner. All critically acclaimed artists and their albums had not been deemed weapons of mass destruction by the United Nations (Been Down So Long I Was Invited To Appear In A Life-Alert Commercial: Wayne and Wanda Sing Chicago Blues). The two of them set out to find their favorite obscure songs, ones that deserved a little more attention or perhaps a new interpretation. A few weeks later, they had twenty songs and a chunk of time in the Muppet Recording Studio. The Electric Mayhem provided sympathetic backup (and unsympathetic critique), and in three months, a new album was born.

Janice suggested that they give the album a simple title so to not give the critics any fodder for mean comments, so they gave the album the vaguest title they could think of.Wayne and Wanda Present: Sounds. No one could argue that the album did not contain sounds. Here's to you, Pitchfork!

Suddenly, an unkempt badger who looked like he stepped out of 1974 leaned into their dressing room. "Ready to go?"

"Yes!"

The two of them made their way through the labyrinthine backstage, passing dressing rooms, sound equipment, stagehands, all sorts of things, until they got to the edge of the stage.

"Our public awaits!" said an excited Wayne.

The badger just stared, rolled his eyes, and pulled a cigarette out of his pocket. "Sure. Wait until you hear your names and head out on stage."

"Gee! Wanda, he sure was rude! And that cigarette didn't look like he bought it in a store. I bet he's smoking some of that wild catnip."

"Get yourself together. You film one D.A.R.E. commercial and you become paranoid about drugs. Let's get ready, they're starting the introduction."

A voice boomed out over the theatre's sound system. "Live…one night only…unless you actually like them…then we could bring them back…possibly…I don't want to commit to anything yet...Wayne…and… Wanda!"

The two walked triumphantly on stage to face a crowd full of excited penguins and not much else.

"Gee, there must be fifty penguins in the audience tonight. A new record."

Despite critical lambasting from almost every group of people, animal and monster in the world, Wayne and Wanda retained a stronghold over the penguin market. This was largely because of the early endorsement of noted penguin gadabout Lance Chance, also known as "Jay Gatsby with feathers and a beak", who called their music "like Josh Groban without all the hard edges". That was all the publicity needed, and Wayne and Wanda made several successful tours of the Arctic Circles, playing at sold-out igloo bars. They hired a group of musical penguins (called The Emperors) to back them up on the tour in an attempt to capitalize.

"WAYNE! WANDA! WHOOOOOOOO!" The crowd went wild.

"Thank you, thank you, you're far too kind," blurted an excited Wayne.

Wanda rolled her eyes. Only amateurs showed their excitement on stage. The Stevie Nicks and Carly Simons of the world didn't lose it over a few measly fans. They kept it cool.

"Hello everybody. I'm Wanda, and this is Wayne, and we're here to sing for you. Up first is a new number we've worked out and rearranged to sing as a duet. Hope you enjoy it, it's a real blast from the past."

She turned around and signaled to the drummer, who adjusted his headband, yelled "One-Two-Three-Four" and kicked into the song.

The backing band launched into a mid-tempo dirge that was unlike most of the music they had recorded previously, confusing the audience. The organist played some droning chords before Wayne fired up his pipes.

"In-a-gadda-da-vida, honey, don't you know that I love you!"

Wanda took the next line, belting out like a choking Janis Joplin.

"In-a-gadda-da-vida, baby, don't you know that I'll always be true!"

Then Wayne again, sounding like a drowning Jim Morrison.

"Oh won't you come with me and take my hand!"

Wanda answered, straining her vocal chords over the droning organ.

"Oh won't you come with me and walk this land!"

The two of them came together for the climactic line of the chorus, truly belting it out like they were looking to rid themselves of a lung or a hairball.

"PLEASE TAKE MY HAND!"

The audience looked stunned, while the Emperors launched into a jam. Wayne and Wanda backed away from the microphones and whispered to each other.

"I don't think it's a good sign when you can whisper during a concert."

"The audience is just respectful, Wanda. Sheesh."

"If we lose the penguins then we have no one! No one! Daryl Hall might bail on me! Then I'll have to settle for Joe Cocker! His teeth are bad, Wayne."

"Maybe he can borrow my teeth whitener."

"Pay attention! Look- is that Lance Chance heading for the door? No! We can't lose him! They'll all follow him out. No!"

"Maybe he wants a snack."

"I'd like a snack too. The band's got at least thirteen minutes left in this jam, so I'm going to get a hot dog. Want anything?"

"A pretzel. But try to scrape off some of the salt, it upsets my stomach."

"All right, be back in a few. And Wayne- one more thing."

"Yes?"

"Maybe the psychedelic rock album wasn't the best idea."

"But, our version of Light My Fire is brilliant!"

"I better call Daryl Hall's agent tonight."

"Wanda! Wait! Let's make that crime-rap album! I got a speeding ticket once! That's material for a song, right?"


"Nigel! Nigel!"

"Yes, Thog?"

"Can you check the mail before you leave? I'd go outside, but I've sprained my ankle and the doctor said I shouldn't put any weight on it for a week at least."

"Sure, no problem. But I told you that trying to walk on that balance beam was a bad idea, your balance has never been that great."

"But I thought it would make a good act!"

Nigel walked outside, shaking his head. It took 21 of them to carry Thog to the flatbed truck which they used to bring him to the hospital that day. Perhaps gymnastics should have been left to the chickens.

He slowly walked down the driveway, whistling a tune to himself. It was shaping up to be a nice day; he spent the morning working with Robin on his violin lessons (he was turning out to be quite the player), then had a nice lunch with everyone at the house, and now he was going to head off to the dry cleaner's to pick up his conductor suits. All 24 of them (one for each episode of the season). It was important to look sharp. The conductor of the Muppet Orchestra was an important role.

"Hmm. Three credit card bills for Piggy, a copy of The Fashionable Chicken for Camilla, a Ranger Rick for Robin, and-"

Nigel was interrupted by a strange character stumbling out of the bushes next to the mailbox.

"My word! I think those branches might have put a hole in my socks! Thank goodness Boober and Mokey made me an extra pair before I left. Now-"

The character looked at Nigel and his jaw dropped. Perhaps an awestruck fan, Nigel thought as he got a good look at the creature. Looks like a big Indiana Jones fan as well, judging by that ridiculous hat and the khaki outfit. But where's his shirt? Weird. It's not that hot out.

The creature finally broke the silence.

"Well, I cannot believe it! This is a first on my travels of Outer Space."

"Outer Space? Isn't that up, you know, in the sky?"

"Don't be silly! No one can travel up to the sky, it's simply too hard to climb up there. But back to the matter at hand, this is truly a momentous moment, the first time I have ever encountered a Fraggle while out on my sojourns."

"A Fraggle? What's that?" Nigel was taken aback. "I'm a practicing Catholic, if we're talking about religion."

"Oh no! You must have amnesia! You can't remember the Fraggles! Perhaps that is how you ended up in Outer Space, alone and helpless."

"What are you talking about?"

"My name is Traveling Matt Fraggle, and I live in Fraggle Rock. I travel through Outer Space, documenting the lives of the silly creatures for my nephew Gobo."

"My name is Nigel, and I live in California. I conduct the Muppet orchestra. Nice to meet you."

"You must be related to Gillis Fraggle! He conducts the Fraggle choir, does an excellent job. You should hear their rendition of Muck And Goo. Truly heartwarming!"

"I don't know a Gillis Fraggle."

"Are you sure? You have his eyes." Matt leaned up close next to Nigel, making him uncomfortable. "Maybe you are his child separated at birth."

"I'm sorry Matt, but that's simply not the case. My parents are Sebastian and Lucinda Templeton, and I'm from Nantucket, Massachusetts, not Fraggle Rock."

"Hmm. Appears your case of amnesia is pretty deep. Maybe a trip back to the rock will help your case. Some nice radishes, a dip in the pond, some Doozer sticks."

Nigel stuck his tongue out. "Radishes! Yicch! They are about the worst tasting vegetable in the world. I'd rather eat the Swedish Chef's meat loaf than gnaw on a radish."

Matt put his hand over his chest and leaned backwards. "Oh what has happened to you! A Fraggle with no memory of home, and a dislike of radishes! What a sad case, a truly sad case."

"Look, let me show you something, just hold on a second." Nigel fished through his wallet until he took out a small card. "This is my driver's license. Look."

Matt slowly read the card. "Nigel Kennedy Templeton, resident of Los Angeles, height 2 feet 1 inch, weight-"

"We don't need to be discussing everything here, give me that license back."

"But you simply must be a Fraggle! The similarities are uncanny. The eyes on the top of the head, the messy hair, the bright colored skin."

"I will admit, we do look a bit alike. But I'm sorry, I've never heard of this Fraggle Rock before. Unless it's in Massachusetts, I've never been there. Is it like Plymouth Rock?"

Matt seemed lost in thought.

"Matt?"

"By golly! I know how to see if you are truly a Fraggle."

"Oh boy."

Matt took his backpack off his back and began wildly fishing through it, throwing postcards, socks, scarves, and blankets all over the sidewalk until he finally pulled a small set of what appeared to be a flute out of the mess.

"Ah-ha!"

"That's a nice flute. Do you play?

Matt harrumphed towards Nigel. "Do I play? Of course I play. All Fraggles are innately musical. Listen."

Matt placed the flute up to his lips and began playing a pretty, midtempo tune. Looks like he's had some training, Nigel thought to himself. That song does sound familiar though.

Combing through the songbooks in his head, Nigel began whistling along with Matt, who didn't notice at first, but kept playing, eyes nearly closed, swaying to the music. Eventually he stopped playing, but Nigel continued on. Matt smiled, placed his flute in his pocket, and walked over to Nigel.

"See! I told you!"

"Told me what? Good rendition of Big Noise from Winnetka there."

"What? That was A Radish For All Seasons. But that's not the point! The point is-" Matt put his arm around Nigel- "you, sir, are a Fraggle."

"But I told you-"

"No non-Fraggle could pick up a tune like that without hearing it before. Fraggles are true musicians, and you are a true musician, so then you are a Fraggle. I must record this for posterity." Matt fished through his backpack again, finally getting out a pencil and postcard.

"Who's that going to?"

"My nephew Gobo. He's going to follow in my footsteps to travel through Outer Space someday. He simply must learn that I met a Fraggle today."

"Sounds interesting. Now, Matt, I really must be going, I promised my friend I would bring in the mail for him."

Matt tossed the postcard aside and ran after Nigel. "But you can't leave! You must come back to Fraggle Rock with me and see everyone. Then we can cure your amnesia. A good moss pack and a couple of radish poultices should do the trick."

"Yicch. If I don't want to eat a radish, what makes you think I want to spread it on my body? Now I really must be going, Matt, but it was nice to meet you. You're welcome to come inside and rest up if you would like, though we don't have any radishes as far as I know."

Matt shook his head and sighed. "Well, if you're not going to come with me, then I really have to be on my way. There are many other sights left to encounter on my journeys. If I ever see you again, I'll let you know how everyone is doing. Maybe you'll remember the next time I see you."

"Thanks, Matt. Good luck!"

"Goodbye Nigel!"

"Watch out for those cars Matt! Don't cross the street yet."

Matt ran into the street, darting between cars before tumbling into a bush across the street. He got up, dusted himself off, adjusted his hat, and walked off down the sidewalk until he turned the corner and moved out of sight.

Nigel laughed to himself. I wonder who Matt really is. This Fraggle Rock sounds like quite the place. Wonder if anyone at the house has heard of it?"

----

Sir, if you could please place your carry-on into the baggage check, it will only be a minute."


"Yes, I will Ma'am, and I am glad to place my bag into this check, because you airport security workers help to keep this country's airplanes safe from threats like stowaway cockroaches who try to bum flights without paying for tickets by burrowing their ways into people's bags. Thank you for your hard work and diligence. I salute you."

"Thank you, sir. Now please walk through the scanner and wait for your bags."

Sam walked through the scanner and waited for his carry-on to pass through. He was flying out of Los Angeles to visit his wife and children in Virginia. Sam had moved out to California to work with the Muppets full-time after his wife decided that a separation would be best, but the two of them were still on decent terms. Why, just last week she had even texted him to say that he could sleep on the deck so he wouldn't have to rent a hotel room. How generous of her!

"Excuse me sir. We've detected a problem with your bag."

Sam furrowed his brow. "Was there a cockroach in my bag?! The little scamps."

"No, it's your eye drops. You're not allowed to have liquids in your carry-on."

"What? But my eyes will dry out in the plane. You can't do that to me!"

"I'm sorry, sir, but no exceptions. You'll just have to make do."

"Well! Well! I never…depriving someone who pays your salary with his taxes the right to his eye drops! The nerve! I hope the government lays you off! A machine could do your job better! A machine!"

Sam took his bag and briskly stalked his way down to the airport terminal, still fuming over the loss of his eyedrops. Those cost me seven dollars, he thought to himself.Perhaps Scooter could count that as a business expense.

He double-checked his ticket. Two hours until boarding, which left him plenty of time to purchase a quick meal and some reading material for the flight. He scanned the food court, looking for the most appetizing and American option for lunch, finally settling on the Daily Grill. Looks like I can get a nice hamburger here.

"Table for one please."

"Right this way, sir."

The waitress led Sam to a table right by the restrooms and presented him with a menu. "Our specials today are the grilled chicken salad, the lobster bisque, and the country fried steak. Can I start you off with something to drink?"

"A water please."

"All right, I'll be back in a minute."

Sam scanned the menu as the waitress walked away. It was nice to eat something that didn't have the potential to explode or walk off the plate at first sight of a fork and knife. 

"Here you are, a bottle of Perrier spring water."

"Excuse me! Perrier is French water! I demand the finest American tap water. None of this fizzy carbonated expensive stuff. I want regular water."

"Well, we can get you a bottle of Evian-"

Sam stormed out of the restaurant, again fuming.

"I cannot believe that this restaurant, this establishment, does not have ANY American water on the menu. Just this frilly French stuff! A travesty! A shame! An outrage! A…a…shoot, left my bag in the restaurant."

As he walked in, Sam saw a young child walking from the restroom head towards his bag. Not about to let a potential thief, no matter how young the age get away with a crime (he didn't earn his Citizen Deputy badge for nothing), Sam waved his wings and screamed at the child.

"Step away from the bag! Step away from the bag! Didn't your parents teach you manners!"

The small child turned around. "Finders keepers, losers weepers."

Sam thrust the bag out of the child's arms. "I do not see your name monogrammed on this American Tourister luggage, so therefore it is not yours. Good day sir." He stormed out of the restaurant again, this time in the wake of various obscene gestures from the child.

"Looks like I'll just have to eat at McDonald's! A nice American business. Hmmph."

One Big Mac and side of fries later, Sam was ready to head closer to the plane's gate, except for one thing. Reading material. He wanted to purchase a couple of magazines so he wouldn't have to resort to reading the Skymall catalog or something terrifically boring on the flight up. He hated those catalogues, which had all the little useless gadgets that always broke down two months after buying them. The Muppet house was full of them, as Fozzie never saw some knick-knack he didn't think would be potential material for his act, and Gonzo never saw one that he didn't think could be modified for one of his acts. Most of the knick-knacks were either given to Beauregard to scrap once they got broken and/or quit Fozzie's acts. Such a waste of money!

As Sam approached the bookstore, he noticed two security guards blocking off the entrance to the store.

"Excuse me, sirs, but I'd like to make a purchase."

"I'm sorry, but the store is being rented out to a private party."

Sam was aghast. "A private party! This isn't Macy's, this is the airport. Let me in!"

The security guard placed his hand on Sam's head, pushing him back. "A private party is shopping right now."

"May I ask who?"

"Noted penguin playboy Lance Chance and his entourage are renting out the store before they depart on their private jet to the Arctic Circle."

Sam furrowed his brow in contempt. "That is ridiculous! I just want to go shopping! I want a copy of Newsweek and one of American Eagle Monthly. But…these…these…penguins! Look at them! They are playing whiffle ball!"

The security guard laughed. "Surely you must be joking-"

A ball bounced off his back. "GROUND-RULE DOUBLE! All right Lance!" came from inside the shop.

"Well, I guess they are playing whiffle ball."

"That is not the proper usage for a bookstore! People should be able to go in there and buy books and magazines, to enrich their mind, not get their head whacked off its block by a rogue whiffle ball. Now please let me in."

"Really, you can't go in there."

"How much longer will he and his friends be?"

The security guard looked at his watch. "About two hours."

Sam was incredulous. "Two hours! My flight leaves then. I won't have the chance to get a magazine just because some gadabout lush penguins want to play wiffle ball in the airport."

"You could read the Skymall catalogue."

"ARRRGH!" Sam stormed away off towards the gate in anger. Maybe someone would have left their newspaper on the seat after their plane boarded.

He would have been able to get all the way to the gate in an impressive surly stride had his phone not gone off on the way.

"Who could be contacting me at such a time!"

Text message from Fozzie Bear:

Did you see anything good in the Skymall catalogue???? I need something new, my hard-boiled egg peeler broke, so I can't do my joke about the soft-boiled eggs being scared of the hard-boiled eggs anymore!! Plz let me know.

"ARRRGH!"



Things to do in New York City!

…bike rides in Central Park "Bawk bawk bok-bawk!"

Gonzo shrugged his shoulders and sighed. "Fine, I'll wear a helmet, but I don't need one now. There are no jumps in Central Park anyway, which is a darn shame. They could make a lot of money if they added a couple. I should call Mayor Bloomberg."

Camilla smiled as she adjusted her helmet. "Bawk-bawk."

"Awwwww! You look cute in your helmet too."

Gonzo helped Camilla onto the back seat of their tandem bike and then jumped onto the front seat. 

"Ready?"

He whooshed forward before Camilla could squeak out a response, blazing down the path at a less-than-ideal speed. Families began to scatter from the path, protecting their children and elderly from the runaway express train that was Gonzo.

"Woo-hoo! New York is quite the spectacle! The scenery in this park is so beautiful. Don't you think so Camilla?"

"Bok!!!!"

"Oh, yes, I love it too."

The couple whizzed past horrified people and assorted animals until Gonzo spotted a pretzel cart out of the corner of his eye.

"OOOOH! I love pretzels! Let's get some Camilla! I'll pick the salt off of yours, don't worry."

Gonzo pulled the handlebars sharply to the left, sending the tandem bike screeching through the bike path, turning up leaves, dirt, dust, and squirrels in its wake.

"You know, Camilla, I don't know what kind of pretzel I want. Do you think they have garlic pretzels here? Or maybe even chocolate? Or I could get both? Maybe they'll customize mine!"

"BOK-BOK-BOK!!!!"

"Oh, the handlebars fell off! I hadn't noticed! What a cheap bike! Now how I am supposed to finish steering-"

The handlebar-less bike went flying into the pretzel cart, sending feathers, napkins, salt crystals, pretzels, and dollar bills into the air. Dozens of people rushed over to make sure that they picked up the money that had been scattered around, while a couple squirrels ran over to Gonzo and Camilla

"Sir! Ma'am! Are you guys all right?"

"Bawk-bawk."

"You're right Camilla, the helmet was important. But look what happened to the pretzel cart! You think they're closed for the afternoon?"

…visit the Empire State Building "This view is simply breathtaking! It's so beautiful up here."

"Bawk-bawk." Camilla leaned into Gonzo's arm as the two of them stood on the observation deck. They had learned of a special sunset viewing of the city and quickly signed up for it, and it was worth every penny. Giant splotches of blues, yellows, and purples streaked across the sky as the sun set, and the lights of the city below slowly began to illuminate and make up for the oncoming darkness.

"I simply must take a picture of this sunset! It would look great in our bedroom, right next to the picture of me jumping over the vat of eggplant parmesan on a jackhammer."

"Bawk!"

Camilla, being the ace photographer of the two, took out her camera and began snapping photos. Gonzo, being the ace weightlifter of the two, hoisted Camilla up onto his shoulder so she could get all the views she desired.

"Excuse me! Excuse me!"

"Yes?" Gonzo slowly turned around as to not upset Camilla.

An elderly man approached the two of them. "My wife and I couldn't help but notice how many nice pictures you two were taking of the sunset. Do you think you could take a couple for us? My son-in-law gave me a camera, but I haven't any idea how to use it."

"We'd love to!" Gonzo graciously took the camera and passed it to Camilla, who began directing him to all the spots she preferred.

"What a nice girl," said the man to his wife. "She seemed to know what to do with that camera like a pro!"

"Where do you think their parents are though? They look much too small to be out at night alone like this."

"Perhaps their parents are inside, honey."

"Oh, what if they need a ride home! We should offer them a ride home, maybe their parents are in a hotel. Two people that small can't hail a taxi."

"You'd be surprised. Remember those gophers that lived next door to us? They were pretty handy when we went to Boston together."

"Oh, I guess you're right. I had forgotten about them. Where'd they move to? Maine? Alabama? Latvia?"

Their back-and-forth was interrupted by the Muppet totem pole. "Here's your camera back. Camilla here got some excellent shots for you."

"Thank you, " said the old man with a much more kindly tone than before. "Do you two kids need a ride home? We can take you back if you need to get to your hotel."

"We should be fine-"

His wife cut in. "Your parents must be worried, you guys being out so late."

"Bawk-bawk-bawhaa-bawhaa!"

"What's your sister saying?"

Gonzo began laughing as well.

"I'm sorry guys, it's just that we are older than you think. I'm flattered you think I'm so young. We should be able to find our way home well enough. Thanks for the good laugh."

The two walked back to the edge of the deck, Camilla snapping pictures all the way. The elderly couple was left slightly befuddled.

"Margie?"

"Yeah?"

"You don't think they were dating?!!"

…visit a four-star restaurant "Your table and menus. Tonight's special include the seared sea scallops, sauteed halibut and organic chicken poached in a plum sauce with-"

"BAWK! BAWK! BAWK! BAWK!"

"Excuse me! Did you not notice my girlfriend was a chicken? It's bad enough we have to go to places that serve chicken, but you recommend it to her? "

"BAWK-BOK-BAWK!"

"Camilla, I know you're mad, but please watch your mouth, there are old people around!"

"Ma'am, I'm terribly sorry. In the dim light I thought you were a kiwi bird."

"BAWK, BOK. Bawk."

"That's no excuse. You could use some more sensitivity training around here. Plus some brighter lights. I almost walked into the women's room when I tried to wash my hands."

"It's more romantic with the low lighting though."

"Bawk."

"Look, I'm terribly sorry. How could I make things up to you guys?"

"Bawk-bawk-bok-bawk." 

Gonzo was shocked. "That's what you want Camilla?"

"Bawk."

Gonzo's eyes went wide. "I love you so much!"

The waiter eagerly awaited his answer. "What would she like?"

"She says that she'd like a free appetizer and that I get the chance to do a tableside flambe!"

"Um…..I guess we could arrange that."

"Gee! I finally get to live my dream, to flambe lobster bisque! Thank you!"

….go shopping at a department store "What do you think we should get our friends for souvenirs?"

"Bawk-bok. Bawk-bok-bawk. Bawk."

"Yes, we did get the Electric Mayhem some albums at the record store, but there's still a lot of people left to buy for. What about Kermit and Piggy?"

"Bawk-bawk! Bawk!"

"Yes! Those matching bathrobes are perfect! They'll be so cute together. We should have them modified though. Kermit and Piggy aren't exactly off the rack."

"Bawk-bawk."

"Hilda should be able to fix it- OOH! Fozzie will love this!"

Camilla shook her head. "Bawk. Bok bok bawk brawk."

"You don't think he needs another tie?"

"Bawk."

"He's been wearing the same one forever! Look! This one has little palm trees on it! Doesn't it remind you of the beach?"

"Bawk-bawk!"

"I do not have tacky taste in clothes. I picked out that dress for you, right? You liked it. It was a shame it got burnt by the hair dryer though. Why were you using a hair dryer anyway? You don't have hair."

"Bawk!"

"What? There's nothing behind me."

Camilla quickly scanned the aisle to look for something to distract Gonzo from the dress. It had died in a hair dryer accident, but it was justifiable homicide in her eyes. How was she supposed to wear something that had light-up straps? She'd blind people whenever she walked outside!

"Bok! Bok!"

"Oooh! That's a very nice sweater. Who is that for?"

"Bok, bok, bok, bawk brawk."

"Rowlf? He doesn't dress up much, but he could use a nice shirt. Or a nice pair of pants. Or a nice pair of socks. Or a nice set of underwear. This will be a nice start on that."

"Brawk."

"Fine, getting him underwear would be a little personal."

The two wandered throughout the store, getting to the toys and games section, where Gonzo's eyes went wild.

"Come on, Camilla! Look at all these awesome things! A remote control airplane! Oooh!"

"Brawk brawk bok?"

"Yeah, sure, maybe Robin would want something here, but I want to pick up a few things! Look at that squirt gun!"

…build a Muppet whatnot "Camilla! Look! I put glasses on mine!"

"Bawk! Bawk!"

"Thanks. I think I'll call him Kit. How is yours coming?"

"Bawk, bawk bok bok?"

Gonzo scratched his chin pensively. '"Well, I think the jacket looks the best on her, but you can't go wrong with a sweater vest."

Camilla continued holding up the two outfits against her light blue whatnot in an attempt to compare them.

"Camilla, I'm going to go up to the checkout, be back in a couple minutes."

As Gonzo walked up to the checkout, he walked past a display of various Muppet items on sale. Scouring the display, he noticed they all had something in common. Gonzo plushes. Gonzo t-shirts. Gonzo plastic figures. Gonzo school supplies. And they were all on sale.

SALE- 50 PERCENT OFF ALL GONZO MERCHANDISE

"Excuse me! Excuse me! How come I'm on sale?"

The attendant nearby looked embarrassed. "I'm sorry….my goodness…didn't expect you here!"

"It's okay. Camilla and I were just passing through. But why am I so cheap? Am I getting fired? Do you know something I don't?" He grabbed the arm of the attendant in desperation.

The attendant gently brushed Gonzo off his arm. "No, it's just that…we need to make room for your new models. Yeah! That's it! We need to make room for the 2012 Gonzos."

"All right For a second I thought you wanted to get rid of my stuff or something-"

THUNK! Two burly moving men came in with boxes of supplies and flung them on the floor.

"Is the Gonzo stuff gone yet? We've got all the Lew Zealand stuff ready to hit the shelves if there's space."

Gonzo turned to the attendant. "Lew Zealand? You're getting rid of me for HIM?"

"He's popular with the aquatic demographic."

----

"Take twenty-four, Heroes."

The engineer counted in. "One, two, three, four!!"

A strong drum beat kicked in, while Rowlf quietly added his piano parts in the background. It had been hard for him to work out his parts for this song, as it received a radically different arrangement from the original version, but after a lot of hard work (and some help from Dr. Teeth), he figured it out. Now if only the vocalist could figure it out.

"I… I will be king…And you…You will be my queen…Though no thing…no thing.. will drive zem away…we can beat zem…just for one day…we can be heroes…just for one day…"

Pepe wasn't exactly the best vocalist in the world, but he was a popular one. His music played well on the casino circuit. His slow ballads and "love prawn" routine were hits with middle-aged crustacean women everywhere.

"And you…yes, you can be mean…as mean as you want, baby…and I, I'll drink all ze time….cuz we're lovers, and zat iz a FACT…oh we're lovers, baby, and zat is zat…"

The engineer cut the tape. "All right, that should fix the problem with the second verse. After lunch we can overdub the guitar parts again and things should be all set."

Pepe took off his headphones and stepped out of the booth. "Yes, Rowlf, I really showed zem how to do it there. Davids Bowie can take a step back to Pepe, hokay!"

"You really belted it out in there."

"Thank yous. Now I must attend to some personal matters, I happen to have scheduled dinner with a sexy womans tonight, and I need to set up the reservation."

"Anyone I know?"

"No, I met her in Vegas."

"Oooh! A showgirl?"

"No, a waitress from International House of Pancakes, hooky. She winked at me when I ordered ze crepes, hokay, and I knew we had a connection." With that Pepe ducked out of the studio.

"Well, looks like he's done it again."

Rowlf's paws scurried over the piano keys as he chuckled to himself. Pepe was certainly one of the more eccentric artists he played for. Session work was a good way to earn some money and keep busy, not to mention play the piano. The piano was perhaps Rowlf's one true love, and any excuse to play it was good for him.

Session work provided a challenge, because he would have to learn songs as quickly as possible. It helped push his skills and challenge him to become a better player, which in turn helped him when playing with the Muppets. He could play the same song one hundred times in a row and not get bored, because each time he would play the part a little bit smoother and a little bit better. There was always room for improvement.

However, there was lots of room in his stomach for lunch, so he grabbed his phone and car keys and made his way to the door. There was a nice diner down the street that served breakfast all day, so Rowlf could get a nice omelette with sides of toast and corned kibble hash, all for eleven dollars. Great place.

As Rowlf made his way into the parking lot, he spotted one of the great scourges of Los Angeles; the paparazzi. No doubt they were waiting for someone like Madonna to come out of the studio and answer fawning questions about her latest album or latest squeeze; however, there was certainly no one like that in the studio today. Wayne and Wanda had been in earlier today, but they had to pay the paparazzi to even acknowledge them, let alone take the lens cap off when they pretended to take their picture. They would have to settle for Rowlf.

Wish I hadn't parked so far away today, he thought to himself as the first cameraman stepped in front of him. 

"Rowlf! Rowlf the dog! Nice to see you today!"

"Nice to see you too. Good weather we're having."

"Yes! But onto more important things. Have you heard the latest rumor about Kermit and Piggy?"

Rowlf scratched his ear thoughtfully. "Probably not, I've managed to avoid Fleet Scribbler lately."

"Our sources have spotted Piggy out on a private date with a mystery man believed to be Ryan Reynolds while Kermit was at home eating rice cakes and watching Law and Order with Beauregard. Can you confirm or deny this report?"

"Well, I've never seen Kermit eat a rice cake before; he prefers saltines, so I'm going to have to deny this one."

The cameraman winked at him, as if Rowlf was speaking in some sort of secret code. "I see what you did there."

"What did I do?"

"You know, you didn't sell Piggy out to dry there, but you got your point across."

"Um…again, this weather is beautiful. Not a cloud in the sky!" What in the world is he talking about? I know they sometimes gasp at straws over there, but this is ridiculous! I'm going to start parking in the back.

Another cameraman leapt forward. "Rowlf! Rowlf! Our sources maintain that Gonzo was admitted to the hospital last night after a failed motorcycle jump over a 40 gallon vat of horseradish. Is he going to make it?"

"I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but he's in New York City right now with Camilla. Plus, having more than ten gallons of horseradish at a time is a felony in California; trust me, we've been down that road before. It took a lot of begging from Kermit to get Gonzo's bail reduced."

"Oh…well…" The cameraman trailed off, but another one stepped forward.

"Is it true that Animal is leaving the Electric Mayhem to release a duet album with Celine Dion?"

"No, he's committed to bashing the skins for us, and I don't know if he's exactly in Ms. Dion's wheelhouse musically. His voice is a little too deep."

Rowlf had finally gotten near his car, and was about to slip away, but these cameramen were tenacious.

"Jeez, Rowlf, you're not giving us anything to work with today."

Rowlf smiled. Perhaps I do have something to tell them...

"Well, I do have one bit of juicy gossip if you're interested."

An eyebrow was raised. "About who?"

"Me."

The eyebrow was further raised. "Do tell."

"I saw something I shouldn't have last night. Something pretty shocking."

"More…"

"I…I can't…I can't…it's too shocking." Rowlf put his hands over his face for dramatic effect.

"Come on, don't leave us hanging!"

Rowlf got into his car and leaned out the driver's side window. 

"Okay, last night I had to go to the bathroom, and I had to walk through the kitchen, and in the dark…"

"WHAT?"

"…over in the corner…"

"Yes…"

"on the counter…."

"YES!"

"I saw…"

"You saw…"

"…a…SALAD DRESSING!"

"What?"

"And then my face got RADISH!"

"You're not making any sense, man."

However, Rowlf had pulled away by that point. You got them today, old buddy, you got them today, he thought to himself. As he pulled down the road, headed off to lunch, he began to sing to himself.

"I'll admit I split bananas, take Easter eggs and make them dye. But I never harmed an onion, so why should they make me cry?"

----

"Congratulations Alice! You and Fozzie have won this round 21 to 19 over Jeremy and Lew, so you'll be playing for fifty thousand dollars after this commercial break! Stay tuned, because they're about to sit in the hottest seats on television when we get back onThe All New 50,000 Pyramid!"

"CUT!" A director yelled from the background. "Everybody take five and then we'll do the Winner's Circle."

The contestants made their way off the set, leaving Fozzie Bear standing alone with Lew Zealand, who was the other celebrity guest on "Muppet Week". After Louis Kazagger landed the hosting job, he constantly pestered the Muppets to appear on the show, but the summertime proved to be full of conflicts. Lew was always available, so he eagerly agreed, and Fozzie, well he never really learned to say no. 

This terrified him though. All this money was on the line, and it depended on whether or not he could figure out good clues for "Things In A Waiting Room" or "Things An Angry Prairie Dog Would Say". He made everyone in the Boarding House rehearse with him in the weeks leading up to the show, even going as far to work with Beauregard to build a mini-pyramid to practice on. That worked well until Gonzo got his hand stuck in one of the boxes, which definitely ruined their practice round, amongst other things.

"Fozzie! You're heading to the circle! We're talking big money here! Fifty thousand dollars!"

"Don't remind me. I'm going to blow it up there, I just know it."

Lew slapped him on the back, nearly knocking him over. "You'll be fine! You just have to keep your cool."

"Lew, have you ever known me to keep my cool?"

"Well, there's a first time for everything!" With that, Lew made his way to his dressing room, ostensibly to check on his fish.

Meanwhile, Alice made her way back onto the stage. Fozzie gingerly walked up to her, trembling all the while.

"You ready?", he uttered, nearly tripping over his own words and his own feet.

"I'm ready but I don't know about you."

"Well-"

She cut him off abruptly. "Look, you hack comedian bear. I've got college loans to pay back, so you better not screw this up. I need fifty thousand dollars about as much as you need some fresh jokes. If you freeze up during this round, I'm going to take a sledgehammer to your car."

"I rode here with Lew."

"Well, I'll take a sledgehammer to something of yours. But those are the details- don't even think about screwing this up!"

Fozzie trembled. Now it was absolutely certain he was going to mess this up. Alice was not the kindly law clerk she pretended to be when the cameras were on her. She should go into acting, changing her moods so quickly like that, he thought. 

Louis walked back onto the set, fresh from having his hair combed up for the tenth time today. "You guys ready? Come sit in the hottest seats this side of Death Valley. You've got thirty seconds until the cameras are back on."

"Oh boy…"

"Can it, bear. Sit your rear down." Alice nudged Fozzie into his seat.

"THREE- TWO- ONE"

"Welcome back everybody! We've got Fozzie and Alice playing for FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS! Quite the pressure situation, eh?"

All Fozzie could do was nod, while Alice merely stared at Louis. 

"I trust you two know the rules; Fozzie's going to give the clues, Alice, you're going to guess. Don't say any of the words in the clue title, or else the round will end and Alice will not be able to win any money, and no one wants to see you guys blow this. You have sixty seconds. Are you ready?"

"Well no-"

"GO!"

Fozzie was jolted by the sound of the first category turning around, catching him completely off guard. 

"Oh…oh…I…I…"

"Vowels?"

"CORRECT!" yelled Louis from the side of the circle.

Fozzie still found himself lost in a sea of nerves and visions of his collections of self-help books being smashed by sledgehammers, barely noticing the turning of the second block around.

"Oh man…oh man…I'm going to be in so much trouble…."

"Things Someone Says After they Just Committed A Crime?"

"CORRECT!"

Fozzie's heart was still pounding, and he went to wipe sweat of his brow, knocking his hat off of his head.

"My hat! My hat! Where is my hat! I need my hat!"

"Things People Say At The Haberdasher's?"

"CORRECT!"

"Cut! Cut! Cut! Stop the tape!"

"Filming Terms?"

"CORRECT!"

Fozzie finally happened to glance at the board, noticing that they were somehow on the fourth block despite him barely paying attention. For the first time in forever, he was able to take a small breath.

"Gee, we're almost at the top."

"Things Mountain-Climbers Say?"

"CORRECT! One more to go!"

The anxiety hit Fozzie again. There was one category separating Alice from fifty thousand dollars, and him from being able to sleep with all his teddy bears tonight. It was now or never.

"Come on, Fozzie, you can do this, let's get it together Fozzie."

"Things the Habitually Over-Anxious Would Say?"

"CORRECT! You just won fifty thousand dollars!"

Confetti dropped from the ceiling, and Fozzie found himself being mobbed by Alice and her friends in the studio, who quickly trampled on stage.

"Youdidit youdidit youdidit!"

"I did?"

"I got my fifty thousand dollars! Thanks!"

Louis jumped in to the fray.

"Well, Alice, how does it feel to win fifty thousand dollars?"

"It feels great. I had the utmost confidence that Fozzie and I could do this, and we pulled it off."

----

"So, did you do the reading for class today?"

"Pssh! I was too busy down at The Rustic trying to put the moves on some fine ladies, I didn't get in until 4. I figure I'll be able to improvise in today's discussion."

"Neither did I, mainly because I sold my textbook already so I could get Coldplay tickets. Hopefully there was nothing important in the book or anything."

"I doubt it."

The insipid in-class discussion came to an abrupt end as Professor Smalley entered the classroom. Professor Smalley was known as an eccentric; he removed the door from his office in order to get the perfect air currents, he sometimes drove the wrong way on one-way streets to show everyone that societal constructions did not always need to followed, and he didn't like macaroni and cheese, even when you sprinkled bacon crumbles on the top. So his classes were considered some of the oddest at summer school at UCLA. But no one took summer classes because of the professor; students who failed during the semester, or had switched majors enrolled in the classes to grub up as many credits as possible.

"Good morning, everybody. I hope you all did the reading, because it contained some thought-provoking food for thought to think about. In fact, I'd say it was one of the most interesting readings of the semester. Alex Anderson is really able to cut through all the hot air surrounding literary criticism of Richard Scarry's work and focus on the true meaning of the dynamics between Pig Won't and Huckle Cat, to expose the Marxist critique bubbling under the surface-"

Smalley's soliloquy was interrupted by the classroom door whooshing open.

"Hi guys! Sorry I'm late! I couldn't find anywhere to park my unicycle! Hope I didn't miss anything!"

Smalley rolled his eyes. "Well, Sweetums, if you had bothered to come on time, you would have heard my praise of the reading assigned. What did you think of Anderson?"

"I thought he really gave the short shrift to Lowly Worm. Further study should be done on him." Sweetums sat down on the window ledge at the side of the classroom. The desks were too small for him, so the side was deemed to be the best spot, as Smalley found it intimidating when he sat up front along side him, eagerly taking notes and nodding at every point.

"A good point to think about before today's discussion. Since the passage had five sections, if you could break into five groups, and each discuss a section. This will make the discussion….."

The end of the sentence hung in the air.

"Professor? Hello!"

"What? Was I saying something?"

"Yes! You were talking about us breaking into groups."

"Oh yes, break into five groups and each discuss a passage."

Desks swung around the classroom and everyone formed a group. Sweetums ran up towards some kids who only had four members in their group.

"Hi guys!"

"Um…" If looks could kill, then Sweetums would have been at least paralyzed by this point, but he disregarded their looks and opened his book.

"So, we're doing the opening passage. What did you guys think of it?"

Blank faces.

Sweetums' expression turned to shock. "You guys didn't read it?"

"Nope."

"Why not ? Aren't you worried about your grades? I sure am!"

The four students collectively shrugged their shoulders, befuddling Sweetums.

"But why? Don't you need your degree?"

"No one checks out the GPA of a business major. It's all about the people skills, man. The moves. The looks."

"My dad's a lawyer, I could just go work for him."

"My mother's got plenty of alimony checks coming in, so I'm set for awhile."

"I'm going to drop out of school soon and become a roadie for Deep Purple. They need someone to move those amps."

Sweetums' eyes could have popped out of his head! How could these kids not take their education seriously?! After all, it was a privilege, not a right. He had saved up his money for a long time in order to go back to college, since he hadn't had the opportunity out of high school. The local monster boarding school turned him out after graduation, and he had to scramble for the best job possible. Sadly, that was beast of burden at Mad Man Mooney's until Kermit came by. Once in Hollywood, working with the rest of the Muppets proved to be exciting and fun, but he always wanted to hit the books again, to get that chance to better himself that, sadly, so few monsters did. He worked with Kermit to make sure he would miss as little studio time as possible, and he worked with Scooter to make sure all his work was accurate and proofread. Sometimes it was hard to type with such big hands.

"Guys! You might not ever get this chance again! You have to pay attention and do the reading!"

Four sets of eyes rolled in his direction.

"Whatever, man."

"How much time left in class?"

"This is on Cliff's Notes, I think."

"You don't need an education, you're a monster. You can just work construction or something."

"EXCUSE ME!"

Sweetums' blood boiled. "I don't need an education because I'm a monster?"

A look of panic set in on the group's eyes.

"Well…you can do whatever you want in the end…I was just saying…you know, a suggestion…hey, want the rest of my bagel?"

Sweetums took a deep breath and composed himself.

"No thanks, I had breakfast on the way. A yogurt and some Special K. But that's not the point! Monsters deserve an education just like everyone else! I used to work as a jack, and everyone called me Jack too! It was humiliating!"

"Well, that's good you got to improve yourself."

"Not all monsters are as lucky! I have to make the most out of this class."

"Um……." The faces of the four students went blank, until the wannabe roadie spoke up.

"So you've done the reading?"

"Yes."

"Can I borrow your notes to make copies?"

"AGGGH!" Sweetums stomped with his papers up to the professor's desk. 

"Professor Smalley! Professor Smalley!"

Smalley was folding origami cranes out of post it notes and then organizing them into 3-4 football defenses as Sweetums rushed up to the desk.

"Yes, Sweetley?"

"It's Sweetums."

"Okay, Sweetums. Yes?"

"No one in this class is taking the reading seriously enough! I'm the only person in my group who read the article! Who can I talk about Lowly Worm with?"

"Sweetums, what do you think about the 3-4 end rushers? Should I have another crane on the outside or should I have him back with the linebackers?"

"AGGGH! If no one wants to talk about Lowly Worm with me, then I'll just leave!"

Storming out the classroom like a monster possessed, Sweetums slammed the door behind me, mumbling all the way. "Maybe I'll just ask Thog if he's read this paper before! He'll have the time for this!"

Meanwhile, the classroom slowly returned to what passed for normal, except for Sweetums' former group, where one question was on everyone's mind.

"Do you think he'll still make copies of his notes for us?"

----


Muppet Boarding House Welcome Back Party!'''''Saturday August 4th: 2 PM to whenever'''''Please bring food, drinks, or first aid kits.'''''***********************************************''Ridin' 'round town with all the windows down Eight track playin' all your fav'rite sounds

"Gonzo, one of my friends in the Frog Scouts told me you were arrested for trying to surf across subway cars in New York City. Is that true?"

"Robin, don't believe everything one of of your friends tells you. Now let's see all those badges you earned this summer."

"Be back in a minute, they're in my room!"

"Phew! Thank goodness I got him to change the subject."

The rhythm of the bongos fill the park The street musicians tryin' to get a start

"So did you guys sock it to them at the International Society of Tinkerers meeting?"

"MEEP! MEEP MEEP MEEP! MEEP?"

"What did I say?!"

"Meep, meep, meep."

"I guess I could see how being chased by a giant sock would make you afraid of the word."

"MEEP! MEEP."

"I'm sorry! I'll make sure not to say sock again."

"MEEP! MEEP!"

"Sorry! I'll tell Kermit to keep them off the backstage this season. Hey chief! Chief! Beaker has a request!"

'Cause it's summer Summer time is here Yes it's summer

"Like, you wouldn't believe those things those little kids said to me!"

"RUDE. RUDE!"

"Fer sure."

"QUESTION?"

"Yeah?"

"You MARRIED?"

My time of year Yes it's summer My time of year

"I saw your news story about the fruit a few weeks ago."

"Thanks."

"Say, speaking of fruit, what do you get when you cross an apple with shellfish?"

"What?"

"A crab-apple! Wocka wocka wocka!"

"I get it."

"I got another. What do you call an angry apple?"

"What?"

"A crab-apple!"

"That was the punch line to the last joke."

"Yeah, I'm having a hard time branching out into other fruits."

Stretched out on a blanket in the sand Kids of all ages diggin' Disneyland

"Bok, bawk, bok bok bawk."

"Really! Lowly Worm as a Trotsky figure? I never thought of that!"

"Bok, bawk, bok? Bok bok bawk bok."

"Gosh! I had no idea you were so versed in Richard Scarry critique. Have you read anything on the Berenstein Bears?"

"Bok, bawk-bok bok."

"Yes, they certainly do challenge post-modern ideals of the family. Say, do you want any more coleslaw?"

Rappin' on the C.B. radio in your van We'll give a big "ten four" to the truckin' man

"Gee, I'm glad I brought my paper towels, these ribs sure are messy."

"You always come through in the clutch, Lew. Thanks a lot buddy."

"What do you think we'll be doing on the new season, Rowlf?"

"Probably whatever we come up with four seconds before the camera turns on."

"So the same as it ever was!"

"Yup! Pass me the potato salad, por favor."

'Cause it's summer Summer time is here Yes it's summer

"I'm sorry Wayne, I just don't think that kind of act is going to work."

"But I have to reinvent myself Kermit! The audience wants something new, something bold, and I have it!"

"But I think this might be a little too bold. Have you tried giving Wanda flowers and chocolate? Maybe then she'll work with you again."

"But Kermit! I already bought my acoustic guitar and harmonica! They're Neil Young-endorsed models!"

"Wayne, I don't think protest songs are right for you. What are you going to be protesting?"

"They raised the price on whitening strips at the pharmacy by TWO dollars! It's an outrage!"

My time of year Yes it's summer My time of year

"So a giant sock attacked you?"

"Well, Nigel, yes, but it wasn't a total loss."

"You broke your arm and the sock broke the machine. How wasn't it a total loss?"

"Well, the sock got a contract dancing on Broadway, he's going to be a star!"

Young boys playin' stick ball in the street Fire hydrants help to beat the heat

"And I'm hoping that they let us film a movie version of the play, my performance of Brick deserves a wider audience."

"So you won't get hit in the face by anything they throw at you when you're up there?"

"No, so I can get my first well deserved Oscar. I can see it now, Best Actor- Link Hogthrob."

"Trust me, Oscar the Grouch will be getting an Oscar before you do."

Old man feeding pigeons in the square Nighttime finds young lovers walking there

"I saw your play this summer."

"Well, Mister Statler, moi is not interested in hearing what you have to say about my play."

"Fine then! Turn down a compliment."

"A compliment?"

"Yes!"

"Well, I guess I could listen for a little bit."

"Your play gave me the best two hours of sleep I got all summer! Oh-ho!"

'Cause it's summer Summer time is here Yes it's summer

"So I says to her, how about you come back with me to my hotel room, hokay?"

"Was Long John Silver's closed?"

"Excuse me Waldorfs, but she liked my music."

"That's a first!"

"So negative! I think you is jealous, hokay?"

"Actually, no. Now, where's the shrimp cocktail?"

My time of year Yes it's summer My time of year

"Come on! Please! Please! The record company will give you a big bonus! I'll record one of your songs! Please! I need you!"

"Look, Wanda, I can't just abandon the Mayhem to tickle the ivories for your solo endeavor. They're my family."

"But you can meet Rod Stewart! And Lionel Richie!"

"Dr. Teeth doesn't meet with squares, baby."

In Atlantic City or out in Malibu Or any where between, I'm telling you

"So did you see me out there? Trying to chase the leaf blower?"

"Mmmhmm."

"How come you didn't help me try to catch it? It was hard work!"

"Mmmmhmmm."

"Oh, I see."

"Mmm."

"Wait! You didn't answer my question! Or did you? Understanding a foreign language is so hard!"

When you feel those balmy breezes on your face Summer time is the best time any place

"You got arrested this summer? For arson? Does Kermit know about this? We can't have any common criminals working for us?"

"It vusn't me fooult!"

"Sure, sure. That's what they all say!"

"Zee ooneeun deed ittt!"

"An onion? You expect me to believe an onion set a restaurant on fire? Goodness! A moral failing!"

'Cause it's summer Summer time is here Yes it's summer

"So how was your summer? Mine was fun, taking helicopter lessons and all."

"Mmm."

"You don't talk much for a guy named Lips, you know. Where's Scooter?"

My time of year Yes it's summer My time of year 'Cause it's summer Summer time is here Yes it's summer My time of year Yes it's summer My time of year

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