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Monday, August 31, 2009

Ziggy [2009]

Thanks to Neighbor Steve for drawing to our attention the August 28, 2009 Ziggy comic...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Robot Chicken Parody [2007]

While many parodies of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood have been created over the years, I stumbled upon one the other night that I had never seen before. Feeling a bit under the weather this week, I've found myself awake at odd hours over the past few days. On one such occasion, I decided to pass the time with the mindless entertainment that is Adult Swim's Robot Chicken. For those unfamiliar with Robot Chicken, it consists of short animated segments -- most less than a minute in length and typically playing off of well-known pop culture. As I found in the episode I saw the other night, Mister Rogers is not off limites to the parody of Robot Chicken.

In this 2007 episode, a character obviously intended to resemble Mister Rogers, enters singing and speaking in Japanese. He changes his shoes (complete with the toss of a shoe from one hand to the other) before the Trolley arrives.

Upon its arrival at this parody's Neighborhood of Make-Believe, the Trolley is promptly picked up by Godzilla while a feline character runs into the foreground of the scene meowing in fear.

The whole clip is maybe a minute in length. While this clip is certainly the complete opposite of anything we ever would have seen on Mister Rogers Neighborhood, I am continually amazed at how often the program pops up in various aspects of our culture. As the cliche goes, imitation is the best form of flattery.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Mister Rogers & Me

For you folks out there familiar with the current movement to preserve the legacy and influence of Fred Rogers, you may recognize the name Benjamin Wagner. This weekend, Benjamin contacted me regarding his effort to produce his documentary Mister Rogers and Me. Benjamin describes his current effort on his blog "Making 'Mister Rogers and Me'"...
I first met "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" creator Fred Rogers at his summer home in Nantucket, Massachusetts, in September 2001. My mother rented the cottage next door, so Mister Rogers really was my neighbor.

My brother and I have been working on our documentary, "Mister Rogers and Me" every since.

Eight years, 4600 miles, and nearly $30,000 later, we're in the home stretch. But we need your help to make it across the finish line. We're endeavoring to raise at least $10,000 in the next 30 days to polish our rough edit into a film festival-worthy version.

What's left to do, you ask? The film currently runs 75-minutes. The structure is nearly complete, but still has gaps. Like a puzzle; we have most of the pieces, but they're not all in place. So we still have to a) secure a few more pieces of footage b) create some graphics to represent data (ex: rise in children's advertising spending) and c) place all of the rights-managed footage, b-roll, and photographs to fill in all of those holes. There's more v.o. and music to record and license, and we even plan to shoot a few more interviews.

After three years of after-hours, weekend and spare-time production, we've finally booked two weeks of steady post-production at a professional facility. By the end of the month, we expect to have an edit worthy of submission to Tribecca, Nantucket, and Aspen Film Festivals. Your contribution will fund all of the above.
No pressure to contribute. Just wanting to do my part to get the word out about this effort and if you feel so inclined, I have no doubt Benjamin and his brother would greatly appreciate any contributions towards the completion of this project. Below are a few links that you may find helpful in learning more about their efforts and/or making a contribution towards the documentary's completion. Did I mention there are perks? Donate a small amount and get your name in the credits. Donate a lot and you can have an exclusive screening of Mister Rogers and Me in your own home (and more)!

Making "Mister Rogers and Me" - Benjamin Wagner's blog detailing the documentary's ongoing progress
Please Help "Mister Rogers and Me" - The specific blog entry asking for help from the loyal Mister Rogers fanbase
About "Mister Rogers and Me" - The original details of the documentary
"Mister Rogers and Me" Contributions - The site to visit in order to make any contribution you see fit and check out the perks that come with helping out

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Episode 1681 - Fast and Slow

Original Air Date: February 20, 1995

For details on Episode 1681, visit the Neighborhood Archive.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Seinfeld "Pledge Drive" [1996]

The sixth season of Seinfeld featured an episode titled "The Pledge Drive." According to, in this 1996 episode:
Jerry comments that a friend was hitting on him and Elaine tries to find out if what was true, but gets the voice of the woman and her current boyfriend confused. Elaine's boss eats his Snickers bar with a knife and fork and idea that soon catches on. George thinks a waitress gave him the finger. Jerry gets caught throwing away a thank you card. Jerry cashes some old birthday checks from his grandmother. Jerry's working a PBS pledge drive and gets George to bring a Yankee to appear with him, while en-route to the studio, someone gives George the finger.
Obviously, the relevance here is found in the connection to the PBS pledge drive -- specifically during the scene when Kramer is having a conversation with the "high talker." Take a look at the poster to Kramer's right.

Ideal Puppets (in original packaging) [1977]

I know that the 1977 puppets manufactured by Ideal have come up a few times on here, but the X the Owl and Lady Elaine Fairchilde puppets are currently on eBay -- both in their original boxes. I thought it was noteworthy to share an image of the Lady Elaine puppet in it's original packaging (the X puppet was shown in a previous post).

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Jerry Whitman Sings Songs from the MisteRogers TV Show LP (1973)

I was unable to find any solid info on Jerry Whitman, but this is a record of him singing songs from Mister Rogers Neighborhood. A friend of mine grew up with this record, and gave this to me some time ago but I don't have a working turntable and have been unable to have to have it transferred yet so I have no idea what it sounds like. I will say that my friend told me he remembers being very embarrassed to listen to the song "Troll Talk" because it was so nonsensical. I know on other LP's, Fred Rogers explains that when a you (a child) finally learn to speak well, it's kind of fun to just have fun with words and make up silly sounds and songs. I assume that Jerry Whitman may have not explained this and simply started singing Robert Troll's signature tune. Whatever the reason, my friend mentioned that even when he was alone he would skip over this song- perhaps for fear someone would come in and think he was enjoying it.

There are a couple of things that I find interesting about this album. The most obvious is that it's put out under the Disneyland Record Label. Being a lifelong Disney fan, it's cool to see two of my favorite things tied together, however superficially. I guess it's not all that strange an association; while Disney was very definately a recognizeable brand, with it's own characters and properties, part of that brand was just "family entertainment" in general, and many non Disney properties appeared under the Disneyland Label over the years.

Listed as Producer, Arranger, and Conductor is Disney Legend Buddy Baker. Mr. Baker's musical style is instantly recognizable. He arranged countless Disney pieces over the years, and his bouncy futuristic style has become synonymous with the Monorail and Tomorrowland, two subjects he underscored frequently on the Disneyland TV Shows. It will be interesting to hear (someday) how he tackeled Fred's tunes, especially compared to the familiar versions done by Johnny Costa, himself, a musical giant.

It's interesting that the title of the record says "MisteRogers" even though that spelling of the title was abandoned when the show came from Canada to the US in 1968. I wonder if this was done since there were still plenty of kids in Canada who would know the show by the old name.
If anyone has this record and would like to chime in, please do!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Mister Rogers Ringtone

In the most recent edition of the Family Communications newsletter, there is a fun link found in the Neighborhood News section. According to the article Daniel Tiger Goes Hi-Tech:

"King Friday has fanfares, X and Hen have a bell, Trolley has a whistle – and now Daniel has a ringtone you can download to your cell phone!"

I'll let you read the details for yourself but I thought I'd at least pass along a link to this pretty cool freebie for you tech-savvy folks out there. You can use the links above to read the newsletter and the article or you can click HERE to go directly to the page where to download the ringtone.