About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Jim Henson by Brian Jay Jones Continued

In my last post I started a review of Jim Henson by Brian Jay Jones. This post completes my review of the book. My next post will provide personal thoughts and connections with the Muppets.
My first post dealt with Jim's early life and the show business progression of the Muppets to Sesame Street. After becoming famous on Sesame Street on the Muppets went from success to success.
Jones sets out how the Muppet Show became the most syndicated show on television within months. The subsequent Muppet movies were just as popular.
What was striking is that despite their success in America the T.V. series and movies were funded by Lord Lew Grade from England. The American television and movie establishment could not bring itself to recognize the Muppets as great entertainment.
For Jim it was a frantic lifestyle as he flew back and forth across the Atlantic as if it was a pond creating shows, performing the Muppets and managing a major business. The book is at its best in the development of Jim’s puppetry craft and flair for show business. It is ironic that his busy days and nights would have kept Jim, one of the most successful creators of T.V. programming from having the time to actually watch T.V.
Jones discusses Jim’s connection with Kermit and working in the world of the Muppets during the  Muppet Show:
“There’s a bit of me in Kermit,” Jim conceded, “Kermit’s the organizer, always desperately trying to keep things going while surrounded by all these crazy nuts,” he explained to London’s TV Times. “I suppose he is not unlike me and it’s not unlike the way the place operates around her.” Mostly, Jim saw both himself and Kermit as the steady eye of the Muppet Show hurricaine, the center around which the storm wildly raged and revolved – though steady didn’t necessarily mean staid. “Me not crazy?” Kermit once explained. “I hired the others!” Jim, too, often saw himself as the ringleader of a group whose members unapologetically referred to themselves as a “bunch of goddamn lunatics!”
Beyond their skits and jokes the Muppets introduced many great songs. Jim’s daughter, Cheryl, thought the final verse of Bein’ Green, which became a standard for Kermit, summed up her father:
        When green is all there is to be,
It could make you wonder shy.
But why wonder? Why wonder?
I am green – and it’ll do fine. It’s beautiful.
And I think it’s what I want to be.
The latter part of the book, as was Jim, is caught up in the challenges of money and deal making as Jim ran a business with 150 employees. It grinds abit. Jim’s creativity was suffering as he did not have an effective process of delegating decisions.
As well known Jim died tragically and suddenly from pneumonia when he was 53. As the end of the book neared I felt dread. Neither Jim nor anyone around him had an inkling the end was near. As he carried on with the whirlwind of his life I grew sadder knowing it was about to be over.
Back cover
I enjoyed the book but doubt the completeness of the portrayal. Near the end of the book a friend says Jim was not a saint but it is hard to find a flaw in Henson’s personality mentioned in the book beyond being unfaithful to his wife. I am convinced he was a very good man. I dislike biographies that set out to highlight the unflattering aspects of a person's life. At the same time I expect Jim had more blemishes. This biography will set the standard for the narrative of Jim’s life. I see another to be written that draws upon quotes that do not always praise him.
While it is a good book the cover is ill-suited to the subject. I am sure Jim would never have chosen as plain a cover. Even if it had been put in colour it would have been better. The back and side covers are far more representative of Jim’s love of colour and design. It the goal was to create contrast between the front and back I disagree with the approach. 


  1. Bill - I agree with you that the best biographies portray people authentically, flaws and all. Still, I'm glad that the book depicts how hard it is to deal with life once you become really successful. I'm also happy to hear that the book reminds us of how very skilled Henson was at his actual craft.

  2. Margot: Thanks for the comment. It is inevitable to wonder what Henson would have created for television and movies had he lived longer. He was one of the most imaginative people of the 20th Century.