Friday, August 16, 2013

Nine Days in Summer: Days 5 and 6 - Characters I'd Like to See at Sesame Place

This is the fifth and sixth in a nine-part series, one part for each consecutive day I'll be home on a vacation from work. "Vacation" in a corporate American-ish sense means I'll still be checking in, checking e-mails, and doing all sorts of work-related things, except without having to put pants on, but with small people draped on me. The following is on our list of things to do for the week plus before school starts back up again, my wife goes back to teaching kindergarten, and all Hell breaks loose:

You can find Day 1 here.
Day 2 of course is here.
And Day 3:
And Day 4:

Day 5 got eaten by a bad Internet connection in a hotel where also our toilet seat wasn't attached to the toilet. Which was fine, the only notable thing that happened was my wife overhearing a dad tell his roughly seven-year-old son to "Just leave me alone, motherfucker" at an amusement park. Since I refrained from telling my kids the same, I awarded myself three points and a gold sticker for not being that guy that day.

Day 6:
Day 6 of the vacation was Day 2 of our trip to Sesame Place. For the uninitiated, Sesame Place is a Sesame Street-themed amusement park located in Langhorne, PA. Kids love it because they can meet all of their favorite Sesame Street characters throughout the park, ride Street-themed rides, and play in a massive water park. Adults love it because their kids love it. You really do get a kick seeing your kids enjoying something for the first time, trying new things, and flying off the ground in a safe, enclosed vehicle instead of off the fireplace into a pile of trash bags.

When I say all of their favorite characters, I really mean just all the mainstream characters...Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Bert & Ernie, the Count, Zoe, Rosita (pronounced RRRRRO-SEE-TAH, emphasis on all syllables, not the Spanglishized "Ruhzeeda," and rrrrremember to rrrroll that R) Grover, Oscar the Grouch, and of course Abby Cadabby and Elmo. Abby and Elmo are the divas in the group; their following, popularity, and gravitas often precluding them from walking the streets and getting their photos taken with the adoring public. Most of the daily shows feature Abby and Elmo prominently, so they spend their precious downtime back in the trailer filing their nails or belittling the help for not peeling their orange slices to specification.

(Also there's Murray. If you've had no reason to watch Sesame Street recently, Murray is a relatively new character who looks like Elmo's out-of-work older cousin and does a vocabulary-building bit called Word on the Street, among other things. Frankly, I'm not sure how many prototypes Sesame Street went through in the last few years, but Murray underwhelms me as the choice for the new character. But my son loves him, and I'm not quite in the target demographic any more.)

Once you've gotten your fill of seeing those characters, and as you're sitting through Bert's tedious rendering of Huey Lewis and the News' "Hip to Be Square" for the second time, you start thinking of some of the minor characters you would like to see at Sesame Place. You know, for old times' sake.

1. Guy Smiley -- Guy Smiley seemed to have it all set up to be the Dick Clark of Sesame Street.
Game show host extraordinaire, he could have parlayed that early success into gigs emceeing Sesame Street Live, etc. And with all due respect to the college-aged dance students who are currently forced to use phrases like "Catch ya on the flip side," during the Sesame Place dance shows, Smiley could have owned the stage and further engaged the audience. Sure, his enthusiasm may have worn thin on a few, but I'd think there's a place for him at the park. He'd never skip and autograph session, that's for sure. I was never quite sure what happened to Guy Smiley (just hoping he didn't go all Ray Combs on us) but I refuse to Google it, because I just like the mystery, and I'm awaiting the tell-all book.
He had it all going for him. What happened?

 2. The guy who ate lunch in the restaurant where Grover worked -- Grover was never one of my favorite characters, but the skit where he screws with the guy at lunch was always great. Sesame Place offers "Breakfast with Elmo" where you can "eat and greet" with some of the characters, and that's a lot of fun, but lunch with this guy, while Grover is pratfalling all around you? My kids would never stop laughing. Right, kids? <Silence.>

3. The Amazing Mumford -- Magic shows where everything goes wrong = comic gold. Points deducted if Mumford and Sons is involved in any way.

4. Lefty -- Lefty is the shady guy in the hat always trying to broker a deal with Ernie over letters of the alphabet. Place him in the bushes around the lazy river and let him work his magic. "Psst, hey kid...ya wanna buy a letter O?" "A letter O?" "SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!" He shushes so violently his head shakes. ..try that. Then off he goes into the bushes again. He wouldn't get his picture taken with too many I suppose. Maybe not a good idea. Scratch that.

5. Honkers -- Let 'em out and run rampant all over the park. You think that'd be bothersome until you look and see your son using the stretchy straw from his souvenir drink as The World's Most Annoying Sounding Flute, and suddenly it's not so bad.

6. Bob -- Doesn't have to be Bob, could be a rotating cast of all the "human" characters, but Bob's "People in Your Neighborhood" embodies Sesame Street. Bob should be kept on hand to do live shows whenever possible. If not Bob, then Maria, Gordon, Gina, Linda, Chris, any of them will do.

Two characters I'm glad are not featured:

1. and 2. The two-headed monster -- Fifteen minutes to sound out the word "Mop?" You can do better.

That's it. That's the list. Who's on yours? If many of those characters seem concentrated in the early 1980s, well there may be a good reason for that. And that may be a good reason why none of those characters exist anymore, and no evidence of them can be found at Sesame Place. This isn't 1981 any more, but I'll still sit down with my kids and pull up some old YouTube videos and see what they think. And maybe we can have one Turn Back the Clock Day some day at Sesame Place?

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