hey gang, Just got back form the Blacl Bear Film Festival's drive-in screening of "The Muppet Movie" I went up with my wife, Fellow MC regular "Pezbalubah" (aka Jamie) and his girlfriend Sarah and I can't think of a group I would have rather gone with. For starters, my wife (although she is a Muppet fan) is not nearly as diehard and has not seen the movies and shows as many times as Jamie and I have, and Jamie and Sarah had never experinced a drive-in movie before. And as for me, well the TMM is the only movie I can't recall seeing on the big screen in my lifetime. I should also add for those who don't know that Jamie, Sarah and I are starting to collaborate on a new cable access series and tonight Jamie and Sarah saw their puppet characters for the first time. So everyone was in a real puppety-mood by the time we got there. We weren't just here for this movie, we were primed, pumped, excited...it wasn't just about seeing the movie but about the movie-going experience and rekindling the magic that this particular film struck with each of us. Our party arrived around 6:45 and were needless to say the first ones there, and were humbly greeted by the drive-in theater owner, Fred, who apparently used to work as the Muppet Stunt co-ordinator in a number of the films. He informed us that John Henson was there and was about to get into Sweetums who would be greeting people soon and said if we wanted we could wait up in the 'game room/candy bar' area where Sweetums would be coming from. Eventually Sweetums made his appearance and set to work joking with those who were there and greeting people and was quickly herded outside to greet the cars at the ticket window as they pulled up. During a brief lull in traffic he was nice enough to pose with Jamie, Sarah and I for a picture and continue mingling and working the crowd until more cars arrived. At which point he would stop them, direct traffic, beg for popcorn, hit on mother's... this was magic. After our visit with Sweetums we returned to the car fo a quick picnic dinner that we had packed and then it was onto the movie. Sadly, I should state here that the turnout for the film was very low. I'd say approximatly 25 cars or so. I didn't really look, I didn't really see. I was there for one thing....Muppets. We had brought a blanket with us and started out the evening under the stars, seeing Kermit introduce the film, listening to "Rainbow Connection', going to the El Sleezo, meeting Fozzie and of course, meeting Doc Hopper, but sadly just as the riot broke out at the El Sleazo, a brief rain shower broke out over us and we had to scramble back into the Matt-mobile for protection and warmth. This minor set-back STILL could not ruin this for us. I turned the windshield wipers on and we continued to watch...Kermit and Fozzie begin their quest, meet the Electric mayhem, Gonzo, Piggy,...you know how the film goes. But as we went along I was struck by soemthing: Jim Henson. His subtley as a puppeteer, particularyly with kermit, was/is astounding in this film. With a mere movement of his fingers he was able to give kermit these very string, poignant moments. He took time to do little things like pull out Piggy's chair. He took time to not just deliver the line but have the thought and consequetnly we see his thought proces throughout the film.. this to me is what makes this such a magical film. Jim doesn't take it for granted that 'this is Kermit and we are supposed to acre for him." he takes his time in the performance to make us care for him. In little gestures, movements, moments, he establishes Kermit's character and lets the viewer enjoy the ride with him. I don't think this is something you'll find in a muppet movie or any other movie in this day and age. Of course, Kermit isn't the only Muppet in this film amd seeing the whole gang interact, really interact with each other on the big screen only added to the fun. I loved seeing, Fozzie, Rowlf, Dr. teeth, Floyd, Zoot and all the others 8 feet tall and full of life. It was great seeing Kermit cahse piggy through the fields anfd go more than 18 inches across my tv screen but a full 8 feet and then get pushed back 5 of those feet. It was awesome being able to crank up the radio as the Electric Mayhem thundered through "Can You Picture That" while the images danced and swirled 20 feet above me. I got to experince Gonzo's pangs of lonliness and emptiness as the Muppets sat in the theater, and see Animal at the size he is meanto be at the film's climax. but without a doubt the most powerful thing for me was seeing that rainbow as the Muppets watched the rainbow at the end flow into the room and Kermit began singing..."Life's like a movie, write your own ending..." all the mupets looking right out the screen...."keep believeing, keep pretending..." a fixed gaze, not asking, not telling, but reminding the audience what their journey has been about and for me what mademe become a puppeteer...."Thanks to the lovers, the dreamers, and you!'.... not a sound in the car, not a movement or if there had been, I wouldn't have noticed. I was fixed. This movie had brought me full circle. In a series of weeks where I've been questioning, contemplating, wondering what to do next, I was reminded what started me on my path in the first place. Not just about my identity as a Muppet fan but as a person, a puppeteer, and an artist. It left me with a rekindled respect and admiration for the work of Jim Henson and his colleagues and the all too brief period of time in which he captivated our hearts. Above all it served to me as a message....keep going, your on the right path, you've come this far and there's more ahead. I felt reassured about my puppet company, the new projects that I am working on, the puppet company I work for and the new dreams that each day carries. Peace, Matt PS--Just so no one think we had to watch the entire film through rain and windshield wipers, the rain had stopped by the time they got to Mad Man Mooney's and we were able to enjoy the rest with no difficulty.