Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch puppeteer Caroll Spinney announces retirement

The Sesame Workshop is reporting that long-time Sesame Street puppeteer Caroll Spinney has announced his retirement, noting that he's performed on the program since its 1969 premiere. Spinney has played the roles of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch for nearly 50 years!

After five decades as the heart and soul of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, it’s impossible to entirely separate the man from the characters he so vibrantly brought to life. Big Bird visited China with Bob Hope in 1979. He’s danced with the Rockettes, and with prima ballerina Cynthia Gregory. He’s been feted with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, celebrated with his likeness on a U.S. postage stamp, and named a “Living Legend” in 2000 by the Library of Congress. Performing Big Bird has taken Caroll to China, Japan, Australia, France, Germany, Canada, and the United Kingdom. He has performed on hundreds of episodes of television, starred as his big yellow avatar in the feature film Follow That Bird, and conducted symphony orchestras throughout the United States, Australia, and Canada. Spinney even met his wife of 45 years, Debra, on the Sesame Street set in 1973.

Not to worry, Big Bird and Oscar are not going anywhere. They will be played going forward by puppeteers Matt Vogel and Eric Jacobson, with Spinney's blessing.

Also, if you haven't seen the 2014 documentary about Spinney titled I Am Big Bird, I urge you to do so. It's a truly beautiful portrait of a deeply creative man who chose to live his most authentic life. Read the rest

New laws are forcing Canadian drug dogs into early retirement

In Canada, on October 17 of this year, it’ll be legal to use pot medicinally or for recreation, without having to worry about getting into trouble with the cops. This is great news for users of marijuana products, those looking for a legal route to selling them, and for the police, as the possession of legal dope means that they can forget about it and deal with higher priority issues. Unfortunately, not everyone’s gonna come out of this with a win: a number of cops will lose their jobs as a result of decriminalization.

From the CBC:

Earlier this month, the RCMP threw a retirement party in St. John’s, N.L., for a Labrador retriever named Luke.

As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and as cannabis legalization approaches, that puts Luke and other dogs like him out of work.

Luke, who sniffed more than five million of dollars’ worth of drugs during his time on the force, is one of 14 canines across the country who will be out of a job before October 17.

Traffic and interdiction dogs like Luke are trained to detect cannabis, but once the substance is legal, they can no longer be used to establish grounds for search in a traffic stop.

Luke and his fellow former police service pups will no doubt be trotted off to caring homes where they’ll be able to enjoy their retirement from active duty. In the meantime, the RCMP are going to have one hell of a time training new drug dogs with marijuana excluded from their nasal vocabulary. Read the rest

Nudging doesn't give poor people retirement savings, it just makes them poorer

Nudging -- the idea that a well-designed "choice architecture" can help people make free choices that are better than the ones they would make without the nudge -- has a few well-publicized success stories: the cafeteria where frontloading veggies and other healthful options gets kids to choose carrots over pizza; and the employer-side deduction for retirement savings that gets employees to put aside a little more to retire on (this insight rates a Nobel-adjacent prize*!). Read the rest

Waste away at Jimmy Buffet's new retirement community

Aging Jimmy Buffett fans, aka Parrotheads, take note! Latitude Margaritavile is a new senior housing community under construction in Daytona Beach, Florida. The facility is scheduled to open in the fall and promises to "reflect Margaritaville’s authentic, 'no worries,' tropical vibe." Sounds lovely. I can just imagine my life there, nibblin' on sponge cake, watchin' the sun bake.

"A Margaritaville-Themed Retirement Community is Coming to Florida" (Mental Floss) Read the rest

Hayao Miyazaki emerges from retirement, again

Legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki "fails at retirement again," writes Amid Amidi. He's taking the helm again at Studio Ghibli to direct a new full-length feature film, Boro the Caterpillar.

The news of Miyazaki’s pending return to feature film was the subject of an entire NHK TV special that aired in Japan on Sunday: Owaranai Hito Miyazaki Hayao (The Man Who Is Not Done: Hayao Miyazaki). In the show, Miyazaki not only discussed his current project—a 12-minute CG animated short Kemushi no Boro (Boro the Caterpillar) that will debut at the Ghibli Museum in 2017—but floated plans for a follow-up feature film.

Miyazaki is 76 and evidently far from done; the infamous quote often attributed to him in the image accompanying this post is deliberately mistranslated from a more nuanced, but no less damning statement:

Almost all Japanese animation is produced with hardly any basis taken from observing real people, you know. It’s produced by humans who can’t stand looking at other humans. And that’s why the industry is full of otaku!.

Read the rest