Monday, May 4, 2015

Today in Narrowly Avoided Horrors:

Wow. So Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer who's played Big Bird (and Oscar the Grouch) for the last 45 years, recently revealed that NASA approached Children's Television Workshop about sending him, in costume, into space on the Challenger. Let that sink in.
If you're not weeping uncontrollably at the thought of what the world would have been like without
Caroll Spinney, you might be a Replicant. Think of this as a Voight-Kampff test, but with muppets. 
"Space? Bo-ring..."
-Kids in the '80's
If you're too young to remember, I'll explain, but since everything about the Challenger disaster is sort of my generation's Bambi's mom, I'm just going to give the broad strokes. The shuttle exploded shortly after take off back in January of 1986 in front of every grade schooler in the country. We were all tuned in because in addition to six astronauts, the shuttle was also carrying elementary school teacher and American goddamn hero Christa McAuliffe as part of a NASA program to get kids interested in outer space.

Ultimately, Spinney's trip didn't work out as the Big Bird puppet was too bulky for the close confines of the shuttle, so he, like the rest of us watched the launch on TV. It was shocking and terrible and traumatized a generation but I can't help but think about how utterly unhinged we'd all have become had Big Bird been aboard as well.
To recover from that thought, here's a scene from the West Wing 
in which Big Bird meets Allison Janney, which is the best.
Incidentally, why wasn't this the premise for a spin-off?
We could call it C.J. and the Bird. They could solve crimes.

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