Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Coming Soon: 1 Billion People In Front Of Their Computers Acting Out "Mah-na Mah-na"
September 23, 2011 5:41 PM   Subscribe

Google's at it again! Less than one month after saluting Freddie Mercury with an interactive doodle on his 65 Birthday (Previously), today's Doodle is another interactive salute, to Jim Henson, who would have been 75 on Saturday the 24th. Google kicked things off a bit early on Friday night, and will leave the Doodle up through the 24th. An art director at Henson's company reports that it's especially apt as Henson was prone to doodling in idle moments.
posted by EmpressCallipygos (48 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
NSFW: I didn't know that's where the hands go
posted by Cerulean at 5:46 PM on September 23, 2011


I really did just act out the "mah-nah mah-nah" thing with these guys. You have to sing it yourself, but IT TOTALLY WORKS.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:49 PM on September 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


What else can one say? Ahem... AWWWWWWWWW!
posted by Splunge at 5:49 PM on September 23, 2011


does it make noise?
posted by lapolla at 5:50 PM on September 23, 2011


it does if you make it for them.
posted by jabberjaw at 5:52 PM on September 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


It doesn't make noise -- you just click on one of the puppet heads to activate it, and then click on it (or on the hand below it) to make it open and shut its mouth. If the head is still "live" it'll also follow your cursor around the screen as you move your mouse.

(Also, the second guy from the left has a bonus action that he'll do on his own now and then.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:55 PM on September 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


They look like they are saying "Mep!" "Mep!" Mop!" "Meep!" Mep!"
posted by louche mustachio at 5:57 PM on September 23, 2011


Not Safari-friendly, apparently. I see the second guy from the left open his mouth to smile occasionally, but nothing else. Bummah-Bummah.
posted by ShutterBun at 5:58 PM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


The last guy follows your cursor with his eyes, and if you click anywhere on the screen, he meps at your cursor.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:58 PM on September 23, 2011


Er, if you click on any of them, it activates them to follow your cursor and mep, meep, or mop.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:59 PM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I made the second guy from the left flip his glasses off his head, but I'm not quite sure how.
posted by peppermind at 6:01 PM on September 23, 2011


Shutterbun, try clicking on one of the heads with your mouse and see what happens.

(Everyone else: try pulling up a Youtube video of your choice in a second window behind this and then play with the puppet heads. I just made my own Muppet version of "Regular Ordinary Swedish Mealtime.")
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:01 PM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


With his birthday in mind, I stopped by the Jim and Kermit statue this afternoon to say hello. It was raining, the frog didn't seem to mind the wet weather.
posted by peeedro at 6:02 PM on September 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


This is adorable.
posted by pemberkins at 6:04 PM on September 23, 2011


Look, I love Jim Henson, but I do not need a bunch of muppets watching what I type into Google.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:08 PM on September 23, 2011 [10 favorites]


My friend and his girlfriend visited the Henson exhibit at the Smithsonian a few years ago.
They both love Muppets and Henson is one of her heroes. So right by the original puppet of the original Kermit, he popped the question. They've been geekily (and happily) married for a few years now :)
posted by symbioid at 6:17 PM on September 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


Today is John Coltrane's birthday.

Today is Ray Charles's birthday.

(It's also Bruce Springsteen's birthday.)

And Google picks Jim Henson?

Well, this tells us a lot about Google culture. Jeez.
posted by kozad at 7:07 PM on September 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you're near Western Massachusetts you can still catch some of the Muppet festival in Williamstown.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 7:08 PM on September 23, 2011


See de böömershööten?

Looks like I picked a good day to switch my phone over to the Manah Manah song.
posted by cmyk at 7:09 PM on September 23, 2011


Well, this tells us a lot about Google culture. Jeez.

Who let Oscar in here?
posted by JHarris at 7:16 PM on September 23, 2011 [25 favorites]


Everyone else: try pulling up a Youtube video of your choice in a second window behind this and then play with the puppet heads. I just made my own Muppet version of "Regular Ordinary Swedish Mealtime."

See, this is exactly where multiple-mouse technology comes in handy. You could make the muppets harmonize to, say, Earth Wind & Fire's "September". For now, I have to settle for one on lead and another doing backing (second from right for the former and last on the left for the latter).
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:18 PM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


kozad, I happen to enjoy puppetry more than music, so I'm happy.
posted by brundlefly at 7:18 PM on September 23, 2011


Look, I love Jim Henson, but I do not need a bunch of muppets watching what I type into Google.

Consider it an opportunity to reconsider your muppetporn addiction.

In addition, the muppetfone videos that show up first on YouTube all have their audio disabled. Google may have done that for copyright issues, or to prevent questioning of why their muppets don't sing for us on mouse over. So German muppetfone it is. While I like jabberjaw's suggestion, I'd be curious to know which, of the muppetfone or the Monty Python Mouse Organ, has precedence.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 7:38 PM on September 23, 2011


I think the red glasses guy will (sometimes - I cannot get this to work consistently, and I am not sure if this is confirmation bias or not) shake his head around and then pop off his glasses if you hold the mouse button down for a while.
posted by FritoKAL at 7:50 PM on September 23, 2011


It will do that if you just move the mouse for a while, FritoKAL. Cute!
posted by blurker at 7:54 PM on September 23, 2011


I love puppetry, too, brundelfly. And this raises a curious question. Puppetry, as practiced in communities...at public libraries, and, in larger cities, in theaters especially devoted to puppetry, is a peculiar combination of "high art" and "low art," a distinction that many of us artists are uncomfortable with.

And it so happens that Jim Henson's puppetry, "elevated" to the status of "low art," that is, TV and popular cinema, has probably had a greater influence on popular culture than Trane or Charles. Not to say that Henson was any less talented that the two musicians.

So, in the end, I suppose Google did make the right decision in terms of where popular culture has gone in the last few decades. But the Google employees are younger than I am. They are the age of most of you.

To those of us pushing 60, the artists and musicians breaking the boundaries of music and art and theater in the sixties are heroes. These days, the broken boundaries are taken for granted, and art is a matter of finding one's personal voice among the incredible variety of available templates. That is a good thing, I think. Pushing limits for the sake of pushing limits (which, for God's sake, is not what Coltrane did; and Ray Charles was just a genius unconcerned with boundaries), is no longer possible, despite the inane antics of visual artists such as Koons and Hirst.
posted by kozad at 7:58 PM on September 23, 2011


a bunch of muppets watching

*scratches item off bucket list*
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:05 PM on September 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ray Charles already had a doodle a few years ago.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:11 PM on September 23, 2011


Here's Ray Charles's. I understand if you didn't see it.
posted by jabberjaw at 9:11 PM on September 23, 2011


HOLY CRAP ONE OF THE MUPPETS JUST ATE ANOTHER MUPPET!

...No, I'm serious. The last link I linked mentioned that this Google had some "Easter Eggs" in it -- the guy flipping his glasses was one, but this is new. (The Muppet that gets chomped does come back.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:11 PM on September 23, 2011 [9 favorites]


I got the same thing! He's looking all sketchy and then .... CHOMP!
posted by Gronk at 9:22 PM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Happy Birthday, Jim Henson. You were taken from us all too soon.

One Person, from the NYC memorial service.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:58 PM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


...No, I'm serious. The last link I linked mentioned that this Google had some "Easter Eggs" in it -- the guy flipping his glasses was one, but this is new. (The Muppet that gets chomped does come back.)

I watched it happen and sat in horror staring. and then shrugged, because it's pretty appropriately muppety.

To those of us pushing 60, the artists and musicians breaking the boundaries of music and art and theater in the sixties are heroes. These days, the broken boundaries are taken for granted, and art is a matter of finding one's personal voice among the incredible variety of available templates.

. . . you seem to be massively uninformed about what a revolutionary we had (and lost) in Jim Henson.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:59 PM on September 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Though I guess I see what you're saying, sort of. But I don't think this is as generational as you imply. My boomer mother is down with the muppets. So was my WWII vet grandfather. It's odd that you would view this as some sort of failure to appreciate experimental high culture among young people.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:02 PM on September 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I choose to commemorate Jim Henson as an artist whose work formed a core part of my childhood, not as an artist who chose a vector to explore in the space of human experience known as art.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:11 PM on September 23, 2011


@kozad, I think what you are describing is generational, but not in the way you think it is. I think what you are describing is the feeling everyone has that the cultural changes that happened when they personally were discovering and interacting most intensely and emotionally with culture were more important and more valuable than all the cultural changes that happened at any other time. I don't doubt your sincerity in believing that what you loved (the work of the people you call "heroes") removed boundaries on music and art that had existed throughout all of human history for millions of years, such that no one can break boundaries anymore because all boundaries upon cultural expression are gone and happened to have been broken during your cultural coming of age. But I don't agree with it.

I love Ray Charles. I have nothing but respect for Ray Charles. But I am deeply suspicious of any thesis that requires the relegation of something as thoughtful, inventive, and vivid as the work Jim Henson did to "low art." (Not to mention the treatment of all of television as properly placed alongside "popular cinema" as "low art," which has been an unsupportable proposition for at least ten years.)

I hear what you're saying, but I don't think the issue is that Google employees don't appreciate true genius. I think the issue is that the recognition of true genius is part of the process of falling in love with the products of other people's creativity, which happens to everyone, and which everyone believes -- as they do with other first loves -- was especially important and special when it happened to them.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 3:37 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Too cute, seriously. Give me good old Google classic: plain, simple, fast, and easy. No cute, no fluff, no distractions, no games, no animations, no popups, no special effects, no artsy-fartsy logos.

Has Google jumped the shark?

posted by cenoxo at 5:36 AM on September 24, 2011


kozad, I think it's a simple as Google opting for breadth over depth. Henson is just known to more people and appeals to more people than the others you listed.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:14 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, you're right. Making this into a generational/computer corporate argument was kinda petty. I was verging into "your favorite band sucks" territory. And Linda_Holmes is right, just because I fell in love with John Coltrane at that time in live when those loves are particularly intense doesn't mean everybody has to feel the same way. Anyway, Google can get around to Coltrane some other year.
posted by kozad at 8:10 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Heh. In the longer version of my comment I said that as much as I love the Muppets, if it came down to an either/or choice I'd go with Coltrane. (Who does get much love every year at this time.)

As another slant on generational differences, I "came of age intellectually" during the 70s and 80s. Most of the things that were important to me were placed firmly outside the mainstream. So the mistake I make is that if something receives popular notice, I'll initially assume it's sub-par. I remember the first time I heard The Talking Heads as background music in a public place. I just could not believe it.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:54 AM on September 24, 2011


My husband noted this morning that *of course* the Google Muppets don't have voices, because Jim is no longer alive to speak for them.

Sucked all the joy right out of it for me.
posted by anastasiav at 9:42 AM on September 24, 2011


Doesn’t do anything in my browser but take me to a search for "Jim Henson", but I block anything and everything. I’m surprised I get the internet. Not a muppet fan, so it’s OK.
posted by bongo_x at 11:10 AM on September 24, 2011


I think some people just might be ascribing a bit more cultural relevance to the subject matter selection of the Google Doodles than is necessary.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 11:22 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


My husband noted this morning that *of course* the Google Muppets don't have voices, because Jim is no longer alive to speak for them.

Sucked all the joy right out of it for me.
posted by anastasiav at 12:42 PM on September 24 [+] [!] No other comments.


Yep, that's really sad. But cheer up and have some Frank Oz.
posted by toodleydoodley at 2:54 PM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Neither Coltrane or Ray Charles died SUDDENLY. Granted, Coltrane was way too young to be taken, but it wasn't like he was at work one day, and dead 2 days later.

Nor is it a nice round birthday for either of them. Honoring Henson isnt' a slight on Coltrane, Charles or Springsteen. It's not a zero sum game, ya'll.

PS: I love that they aren't current muppets. They're obviously muppets, but they're still creative.
posted by DigDoug at 7:11 AM on September 25, 2011


So, did the doodle do anything else except for the eyeglasses thing, and the monster eating the other monster?
posted by jabberjaw at 11:54 AM on September 26, 2011


It taught us how to love again.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 11:58 AM on September 26, 2011


*weeps*
posted by jabberjaw at 12:09 PM on September 26, 2011


« Older Meg Whitman: Excerpts from new HP CEO's first talk...  |  61-year-old Diana Nyad is back... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments