First Draft Complete. Level Up.

So, this happened last week.

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It’s currently in the hands of my crack editor at Dutton, and I look forward to us going through it together.

Now off to clear photos.  Be good to each other.

The Goodreads Choice Awards, Then and Now

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The display of all the past winners of Goodreads Choice Awards.  Can you find Jim Henson? (Don’t worry, I’ll show you where it is in a bit…)

Last night, I had the great pleasure of attending the Goodreads Choice Awards Tenth Anniversary Celebration in New York, where I was one of about fifteen previous award winners in attendance — and that’s because you were all lovely enough to vote for Jim Henson as the Best Biography of 2013. You can see Jim stacked there with a few of the other winners from 2013, including Stephen King, Dan Brown, and Dean Koontz. 2013 was a pretty cool year.

GoodreadscoverIt was great to be among so many passionate readers, writers, and publishers–and I tried not to fanboy too much when I met Dave Cullen, who’s heartbreaking Columbine is one of my all-time favorites, and with Alexandra Robbins, who’s got a new book, Fraternity, coming your way in January. We also got to hear from Neil Gaiman, who picked up an award for being one of Goodreads’s most-nominated authors. It was a pre-recorded (Whattayawant? The man is off working to bring us the miniseries Good Omens!), but it was still super cool.

It was also a lot of fun to watch the folks at Goodreads (and Audible, another of our hosts for the evening) unveil the nominees for this year’s awards. Lots of great nominees across lots of categories–in fact, you can start casting your votes for the books of 2018 as of 11 p.m. last night. Go for it.  You’ll find the link below.

Oh, and one more thing . . .

As a prior winner, that also makes Jim Henson one of the nominees in this year’s new category, “Best of the Best,” in which readers can vote for their favorite book from among a gigantic list of previous winners. I’d love it if you’d vote for Jim Henson as your all-time favorite–but it’s a huge list with EVERY genre represented, so even if you’re not a biography reader, there’s bound to be something on the list that you loved.

Click here to start voting!

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There he is! Stacked between two other award winners from 2013, Dan Brown’s Inferno, and Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half.

Big Bird Takes a Final Bow

I woke up this morning to countless text messages and social media DMs containing links to various news stories, all of which broke the same bittersweet news.

Caroll Spinney is retiring.

Caroll-Spinney-Big-Bird-Oscar-1*sigh* Yup. After nearly fifty years on Sesame Street, the man who’s performed the iconic Big Bird and the just as iconic Oscar the Grouch, has announced that this season on the street is his last.

Spinney is the Iron Man, the guy who’s shown up every day, year after year, to walk around inside a wooden frame covered with yellow feathers, his right hand over his head, watching himself on a tiny video monitor strapped to his chest.  And he could roller skate while doing it.

I wish I had a story to tell you about Caroll, but–alas–our paths didn’t cross while I was writing the Jim Henson biography. I reached out to him several times, but he was preparing his documentary I AM BIG BIRD at the same time I was writing, and I’m guessing he was, rightly, putting his storytelling and memories into that project instead.

Fortunately, he’d already written a really lovely memoir called THE WISDOM OF BIG BIRD (AND THE DARK GENIUS OF OSCAR THE GROUCH), where he’d reflected on Jim and how they met and how he was hired. If you haven’t read it, you should. It’s charming.

That’s my way of saying: I regret I never met him in person — but I already feel like I knew him anyway, as a Sesame Street: Generation 1.0 Kid, who got to see Big Bird and Oscar every day.

Thanks for 49 years of joy and happiness, Caroll.

Becoming Dr. Seuss: A Quick Update

c9d0210ddc5d4eef73ff8d6afeca69ed--photography-humor-dr-suessA number of you wonderful people who’ve placed advanced orders for Becoming Dr. Seuss through Amazon have contacted me recently to let me know you’ve received word that its publication date has been moved from February to May. And the question you’re generally asking me is: Whaaaat?

The quick answer: Yup, it’s true.  The publication date is now May 7, 2019. Concerned? Don’t be. Everything’s cool.

Meanwhile, if you wanna track my progress as I work to get this baby into your hands, give me a follow on Twitter at @brianjayjones, where I’ll give you some peeks behind the scenes, using the hashtag #MakingTheSeussage.

And then I’ll see you in May.  It’s a date! I promise.

Cover Reveal: Becoming Dr. Seuss

Wanna see the cover to my upcoming biography of Dr. Seuss?  It’s even got an official title now, too.

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Pretty nifty, eh?  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotta finish writing the thing if we’re gonna get it into your hands by early 2019.

Remembering Dot Turk, My Charming Guide to Leland, Mississippi


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91gmc-pdU2LI was sad to learn of the passing of Dorothy Love Turk, who died earlier this month at the age of 88.  Dorothy — or “Dot” as she insisted I and everyone else call her — was one of the very first people I contacted when I began my research on Jim Henson back in 2010.  As a guide at the Jim Henson Boyhood Museum in Leland, she was great at helping me track down All Things Jim Henson in their little town–and as a lifelong resident of Leland, she was also the expert on the history of Leland. Heck, she even wrote a terrific history of the place, charmingly called Leland, Mississippi: From Hell Hole to Beauty Spot.  That was her kind of title.

IMG_6089.jpgHer book on the history of Leland, in fact, was also one of the first I bought when I started researching–I had to grab it from a used book store–and she was genuinely touched that I had purchased it, read it, and even brought it with me for her to sign. When I handed the book over for her sign, she turned to the blank front page, and wrote simply, “to Brian, Dorothy Love Turk.”  When I returned to Leland a year or so later for a Henson-related event, she ran up to me somewhat flustered and apologized for “signing [my] book so badly!”  She said she was so rattled by the idea that anyone would ask her to sign her book that she didn’t know what to write.  That sort of adorable humility was very much part of her charm.

Dot served as my eager tour guide during my time in Leland, introducing me around–having her vouch for me went a long way with the locals–helping me get in touch with some of Jim’s childhood friends, and regaling me with the gossip and town legends that made Leland such a magical place for Jim Henson to spend his early years. They take pretty good care of Jim Henson down there, and it’s thanks in no small part to people like Dot.  She took good care of me, too, and I’ll miss her.

More Foreign Editions? Czech.

It’s always fun to see how you look in foreign attire.  And George Lucas looks pretty good in Czech.

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Jim Henson Now on Sale for Kindle!

Still miss having Jim Henson on your Kindle? You’re in luck: it’s on sale at Amazon right now for $1.99.  This offer won’t last long, as the saying goes — in fact, it might only be for today only.  Grab it while you can! Or not. I’m not the boss of you.

Go Watch Muppet Guys Talking

Muppet-Guys-Talking-the-Muppet-GuysIf you’re a Muppet fan, chances are you’re already anxiously awaiting the release of Muppet Guys Talking, Frank Oz’s documentary of . . . well, Muppet guys talking about life, art, and working with Jim Henson.  And who are the Muppet Guys? They’re Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Fran Brill, Dave Goelz, and Bill Barretta. More information — including how you can watch the documentary when it’s released later this week — is available over on muppetguystalking.com.  Go.

While you wait, you might also wanna check out this really wonderful interview with Frank Oz, conducted by those savvy fellas over at Tough Pigs. And I’ve gotta admit: I’m thrilled to be on the receiving end of some first-rate Frank Oz ballbreaking:

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NOTE: I actually love Paul McCartney.

Always Watching

8688 K Pearlman Photography_previewThis is me lecturing on Jim Henson last week — I had to step in when a regularly-scheduled lecturer was taken ill.

One is truly never really out from under the gaze of Ernie and Bert.