My Beloved Monsters – A Revisit

Earlier in the week, I was cruising around the You-Tubes watching Muppets and Sesame Street videos – Boyfriend found a Muppet Christmas special that I’d never seen, and I confess now that I watched ALL of it, despite the complete seasonal impropriety – and I was reminded of this post that I wrote waaaaaaay back at the beginning of my BeastieBlogging life.

Because it was perhaps my fifth post, it didn’t really get much of an audience. And I think that’s a shame, so I want to give it another chance now that all you lovely people have taken to calling around for a read and a chat twice a week. So, grab a cuppa and your sweet treat of choice, and let me introduce you to the monsters that made ME.

1. The Muppets
MuppetsWell, after what I said in the intro, this was to be expected, wasn’t it? And I’d like to widen the net to include all the characters created by Jim Henson’s Creature Workshop – from Fraggle Rock to Mopatop’s Shop. One of my earliest TV-related memories is of watching “The Muppet Show” with my family, and I’ve been a fan ever since. And while Miss Piggy and Kermit always steal the show, it’s the antics of the monsters in the supporting cast which have kept me watching all these years.

2. Stoppit and Tidyup
Stoppit TidyupDoes anyone else remember this? It’s my token obscure hipster choice! Stoppit and Tidyup was a series of short cartoons, which aired the UK in the mid-to-late 80s. Each episode told a story about cheeky red fuzzball Stoppit, his better-behaved friend Tidyup and one of the other bit-part characters who lived with them in the Land of Do-As-You’re-Told. You can meet them all by watching the show’s intro… and yes, that is TV legend Terry Wogan narrating. Regular BeastieBlog readers might pick up on a bit of a Paddy and Plunkett dynamic between Stoppit and Tidyup, too!

3. The wonderful creations of Dr Seuss
green-eggs-hamI adore the illustrations in the Dr Seuss books – try as they might, those film adaptations just don’t do them justice. They’re so simple, but they capture everything perfectly. He’s especially good at showing furriness, and his not-quite-human, not-quite-animal creatures always have incredibly luxuriant fuzzy hands and feet. And those gadgets! Just look at the contraption which Sam-I-Am is using to offer his plate of green eggs and ham – why don’t restaurants have these?! My love of these characters was kick-started when my brother and I got a hand-me-down copy of The Dr Seuss Storybook from our older cousins, and from the first story (“McElligot’s Pool”, featuring pages of fantastic imaginary fish) I was totally hooked.

4. Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland”
momeraths-2Or, more correctly, the part of the 1951 animated film where Alice finds herself in Tulgey Wood. The multicoloured mome raths in the picture are joined by a forest-full of other nonsense creatures, including some pretty imaginative birds. I just rewatched this recently, and it still makes me smile!

5. The Creatures of Studio Ghibli
TotoroAnd not just the Totoros, either… although they are a great introduction to the universe of Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. Most of the films feature a charming animal sidekick, a supporting cast of critters drawn from Japanese mythology or (best of all) both. Add in some beautifully-painted backgrounds and stories which manage to be heartwarming without descending into saccharine sweetness, and you’ve got a winner. Want to see more? This article handily introduces some of Ghibli’s best incidental characters.

And for real hardcore fans, there’s a whole MUSEUM dedicated to the world of Ghibli in Tokyo… It was quite literally the first attraction I visited when I went to Japan in 2009! Here is a nice dorky picture of me getting ready to buy a ticket from Totoro himself at the gate.
Totoro and Me - CrawCrafts BeastiesOk, ok, you can stop laughing now. But what about you? Is there anything special from your own childhood that’s had a unexpected influence on your adult life? Be sure to tell me all about it in the comments!

Aaaaand Paddy and Plunkett will be back with part 2 of their Eden Project adventure on Tuesday, so stay tuned! Enjoy the weekend!

PS I claim no ownership of these images (except that last one), and this post belongs to a time when I was blissfully unaware of image crediting etiquette. Any copyright infringement is totally accidental, and if I need to credit you, please let me know!

8 thoughts on “My Beloved Monsters – A Revisit

  1. How awesome to learn about your inspirations – and I was a huge fan of The Muppets! I loved Dr. Seuss also and it was great to learn about your other inspirations that I’ve near heard of like Studio Ghibli. Japanese Anime is pretty spectacular and how cool you went to Japan!

    1. Thanks, Tierney! It’s always nice to meet a fellow Muppeteer! πŸ˜€ And if you get a chance, do dive into the world of Ghibli – it’s so nice there! I’d recommend “My Neighbour Totoro” or “Ponyo” to start you off. And I consider myself so lucky to have had the opportunity to visit Japan… It’s like travelling into the future! Cheers for dropping in πŸ˜€

  2. Charming post! It’s always interesting to know about the different characters and shows that inspired the Beasties. I can see and appreciate how the Beasties bring these elements together (especially the Muppets’ fun and fun-loving-ness, and the whimsy and imagination of Dr. Seuss and Miyazaki). πŸ™‚ We unfortunately missed out on Stoppit and Tidyup in Canada where I grew up! I recall a Canadian kids show, “Take Part”, that had a lot of DIY puppets and drawing how-tos. I think it taught me to try fun things for myself (hence the series title!) and that DIY spirit has always stuck, I suppose. How awesome that you got to visit Japan, too – must have been tons of fun!

    1. Thanks, Shirley! And yes, Japan was amazing! I liked it so much I went back a couple of years later, and hopefully it won’t be too long until my next trip. “Take Part” sounds like something I would have loved too… There were a couple of long-running kids’ art/DIY shows that I watched religiously back in the day as well! Cheers for popping by! πŸ˜€

  3. Awww I love this. Needless to say, I was obsessed with Disney’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ – I have too many favourite parts to say! I also love the muppets (and Fraggle Rock!!!!!) ….. and what about THE DARK CRYSTAL?! An absolute favourite of mine along with ‘The Last Unicorn’. There’s this Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta that houses many of his puppets from the ‘Dark Crystal’…. I might have spent a lot of time there as (a really cool) a kid.

    On a side note, Ben was also in Japan in 2009, and he often recounts a harrowing tale of meeting a drunken group of Irish travelers on a riverboat who had abandoned one of their friends–and Ben went back and saved the friend (or something like that, I dunno, I clearly never really listen when he tells this story) ….. was that you??? πŸ™‚

    1. Ohhhhhh, I KNOW! As a (really cool too) kid, I used to draw maps of Wonderland and mark Alice’s path through it. I also still find myself singing the Dodo’s “Jolly Caucus Race” song when I have a busy day. I think I owe “The Dark Crystal” another watch though – it didn’t feature as large in my childhood watching as other Henson creations, after a poorly-judged showing of “The Neverending Story” in my primary school traumatised the bejeebus out of me, and made me incapable of watching live action fantasy films for years afterwards.

      Oh, and fortunately I wasn’t the abandoned Irish tourist Ben rescued in Japan… Although wouldn’t it be weird if it had been? No, the most mischief my traveling buddy and I managed was to learn the hard lesson that mixing gin and sake is a bad idea. Travel really DOES broaden the mind, it seems. Cheers for stopping in! πŸ˜€

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