In Media Res

It’s probably due to the upcoming premiere of the brand spanking new movie The Muppets (coming to a theater near you on November 23), but over the past few days I’ve been asked more and more, “How’s  the book coming?”

The short answer: really well.  I recently finished writing extensively about The Muppet Show, which puts me about two-thirds of the way through.  But there’s still a lot more to go — that Jim Henson was a busy and productive guy — and as I make the turn into the final third of the book, my desk is officially a mess. And to respond to some of the other questions I’ve received, here’s what my workspace  presently looks like:

Whatta mess.

It’s a bit blurry — I took it with my phone — so let me guide you around.  On the wall behind my chair is the gigantic white board I use to draw up the timeline for the chapter I’m working on, along with any random notes (at the moment, there’s a scribbled address for the long-gone Muppet Stuff store in New York City).

On top of the desk (which is actually just two old tables pushed together, with a filing cabinet shoved into the open corner) is an assortment of black binders (filled with transcripts of interviews, notes, and newspaper articles) along with several journals and scattered Post-It notes. You might also see the corner of Christopher Finch’s fantastic Jim Henson: The Works peeking out, as well as Caroll Spinney’s The Wisdom of Big Bird. And that piece of red striped paper is actually part of my Bible for this project: a well-thumbed and marked-up photocopy of Jim’s Red Book, generously provided by the Henson family.

What else? On top of the filing cabinet in the lower left hand corner are all four volumes of an 1862 edition of The Life and Letters of Washington Irving—still a fellow close to my heart—and because I believe you should always have your subject looking over your shoulder as you write, the mantlepiece behind me (yeah, it’s a real working fireplace) sports a framed photo of Jim Henson lounging across a set of theater seats with his arm draped around Kermit.*

What’s next? During the last week of November, I’ll be interviewing not one, not two, not even four, but five more Really Neat People, and I’m producing chapters regularly, which keeps my editor happy.  And while I try to spend most of my days sitting right there in that leather chair you see above, I have to admit I’ll be spending several hours out of it next Wednesday.  I’ll be at The Muppets, you know.

Thanks, everyone, for their questions and enthusiasm!

* Just for fun, see if you can also spot a 1960s-era Batmobile and the Mach 5 among the mess, as well as a Jim Henson action figure, strumming a banjo.

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7 responses to “In Media Res

  1. Clearly you need an iPhone, just for the better camera.

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  2. Just so long as it isn’t the “brand new spanking movie.” THAT would be very unMuppetish.

    Congrats on coming into the home stretch on what is sure to be a bestseller.

    Charles J. Shields

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  3. Love your work space!

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  4. Charles and Dona: Thanks to you both! It’s a disaster area at the moment, and bound to get worse. But you can both relate, I know.

    And oh yes . . . I DO need an iPhone. For LOTS of reasons. But not yet.

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  5. do you have a fire place in your office?! it will now be my goal to achieve such greatness.

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  6. Why so many scissors???

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  7. Marron: Because they keep disappearing — so I go get another pair, and then later on find the one’s I was missing in some odd place (usually our daughter’s room) and bring them back.

    Oline: our basement was, I think, the prior owner’s “family room,” but it had been sadly neglected for about 40 years. We rediscovered the beautiful tile floor when we cleaned it — and the fireplace still works, though I don’t make a habit of using it, as it’s so shallow.

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