Maya muses


Whoopi Goldberg visits Sesame Street


Since it’s Whoopi Goldberg’s birthday and it was the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street’s first broadcast a couple of days ago:


Sesame Street turns 40


We didn’t have a television set when Sesame Street was launched, 40 years ago yesterday, and my first memory in relation to it wasn’t of the show itself but playing the flax to its theme tune Mahnahmahnah.

Playing the flax?

We were flatting at 359 Leith Street in Dunedin which was diagonally opposite the older university buildings on the corner of St David Street.

Several flax bushes grew in the gardens and coming home one night we discovered that when they were wet we could make wonderful squeaky notes by holding the leaves between your thumb and fingers and sliding them up and down.

And the best song to play on the flax was:

Other YouTube videos of Sesame Street, including some marking its 40th birthday, are here.

UPDATE: – there will be an answer to the question of why I’ve posted a Muppet Show video and discussed it’s theme tune when it’s Sesame Street’s anniversary . . .

Aiming for Italy, Landing in Holland


The images for Mothers Day are usually of happy families with happy, healthy children.

That’s not the case for all mothers and one who knows what it feles like when your baby isn’t the happy, healthy one you expected is  Emily Perl Kingsley, who was a writer for Sesame Street.

Her son, Jason, had Down Syndrome which prompted her to write this:



Emily Perl Kingsley.

c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved


I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”

“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.

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