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Friday, January 29, 2010

When Monsters Seem Real [1988]

Daniel Tiger, Ana Platypus, and Prince Tuesday are pretending as they walk to school. Ana talks about her superskirt which allows her to fly and Prince Tuesday tells about his super spoon which can ward of monsters. He mentions a dream he had where a dinosaur came to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe and the spoon is what protected everyone from the creature.

Cynical as always, Lady Elaine will not stand for Tuesday's ridiculous claim and insists that the only thing in the Neighborhood that can keep monsters away is her boomerang. The children continue on their way to school as Lady Elaine decides to play a trick on Prince Tuesday.

The next day, as the children are playing, a "dinosaur" appears nearby and frightens the children. As King Friday and Queen Sara come to help, Lady Elaine uses her boomerang to make the dinosaur disappear.

Queen Sara finds this to be very curious as the only one with the ability to appear and disappear like that is Purple Panda. King Friday issues an all-out search for Purple Panda or the dinosaur. While most everyone comes up empty-handed, Queen Sara sets out a bowl of purple pumpernickel pudding in hopes of luring Purple Panda. Sure enough, the pudding is too much for Purple Panda to resist.

As he gobbles down the pudding, he explains to the King and Queen that he is tired of being a dinosaur and was unaware that he would be scaring people by wearing the costume.

It becomes clear to Lady Elaine that her idea of a joke is not funny to anyone besides herself. To celebrate the fact that there are no monsters in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, the group polishes of the rest of the purple pumpernickel pudding.

For more on this book, visit the Neighborhood Archive.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

If We Were All the Same [1987]

This story opens with Lady Elaine flying in a spaceship and stumbling upon Planet Purple.

On Planet Purple everything is the same -- the cars, the houses, the people, and even their thoughts. All men are called Paul and all women are called Pauline while purple pandas exist in multitude and are all referred to simply as Purple Panda.

Upon Lady Elaine's departure from Planet Purple, the Purple inhabitants have an idea to visit the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. Returning to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, Lady Elaine dresses in and paints her Museum-Go-Round purple in order to make herself more like her new friends.

When Paul, Pauline, and Purple Panda arrive in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, they are surprised to find that Lady Elaine has taken on the Purple lifestyle as they are more excited by all of the colors and differences found in the Neighborhood. Learning that she is valued in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe for her eccentricity, Lady Elaine returns to life as usual. Meanwhile, Purple Panda decides to stay in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe as Paul and Pauline return to Planet Purple with new ideas of individuality.

For more on this book, visit the Neighborhood Archive.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Feelings Book Series [1987-88]

In the late 1980's, a series of books were published with the intention of focusing on the importance of recognizing both positive and negative feelings. Each of the books, set in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, opened with the same message to parents from Fred Rogers:
Learning to recognize feelings and finding appropriate ways to express them are important steps in any child's growth. Pretending can be a big help to children as they work to understand more about feelings, but grownups sometimes need to clarify for children just where pretending stops and reality begins. That's one reason why, in both our storybooks and television programs, we keep the Neighborhood of Make-Believe separate from our "real" neighborhood. In Make-Believe, we pretend about certain things that couldn't happen in real life...and make it clear that that's what we're doing.
Each book in this series tells a story about feelings. Some of those feelings are happy ones and some aren't -- jealosy and anger, for instance. Strong feelings can be hard to talk about, but pretending about them can make it easier. We hope that these stories will help you talk about feelings in your family. Though the stories are only make-believe, the feelings are real, and children need to know that having feelings of all kinds is a very real part of what makes us human beings.
Over the next several days, we will be looking at four of the books from this series: When Monsters Seem Real, If We Were All the Same, No One Can Ever Take Your Place, and Wishes Don't Make Things Come True.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Episode 1695 Follow-Up

Okay. One more quick post about the Mad Feelings series and then we're moving on...

Several months back, a reader contacted me concerning Lady Aberlin's appearance in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe in Episode 1695. As she dances outside Grandpere's upside-down Tower, the reader's sharp eye caught something out of the ordinary on Lady Aberlin's left forearm. Was it a tattoo? A bruise?

At risk of overstepping my boundaries, I contacted Betty Aberlin to see if she could shed any light on the question at hand. Unfortunately, she was equally curious...
"It's not a tattoo. It looks like a stain or paint/ink, a bruise, or maybe I gave blood and they couldn't find the vein?"
I'm not posting this in order for everyone to dissect the anatomy of Betty Aberlin. Just as a small curiosity that other fans of the show may come across over time. As always, my thanks to Betty Aberlin for being so open and candid when it comes to questions about the Neighborhood.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Profiles in Excellence [1982]

A terrific, but short, documentary about Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was brought to my attention today. Out of respect for my agreement with FCI, I will not post the video footage itself, but I wanted to at least share a few screenshots as I think any Neighborhood fans would love every second of this documentary.

Profiles in Excellence was produced in 1982 by Penn State Television and includes interview clips with Fred Rogers as well as some priceless behind-the-scenes footage of several regular cast members -- a rarity among most Neighborhood footage. Below you will see Fred Rogers, Joe Negri, Chuck Aber, Johnny Costa, Bob Trow, Betty Aberlin, and Audrey Roth preparing for an upcoming episode.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mad Magazine [March 1999]

Straight off the last post from the Mad Feeling series, why not transition into a quick one featuring a parody from Mad Magazine?

The March 1999 issue of Mad Magazine advertised parodies of Dharma and Greg and the Waterboy but also included a five-page feature titled "The Special Prosecutor's Official Report on Mister Rogers." Written by Desmond Devlin, this parody was loosely based on the Ken Starr report on the wrong-doings of then-President Bill Clinton. As the opening page says...

"First, megalomaniac Ken Starr hounded the President, his staff, his friends, his former intern and just about everyone else in the Clinton White House, except Socks and Buddy! With that investigation in shambles, the overzealous prosecutor has turned his attention to others who, in his eyes, "threaten" the very foundation of our society! Here's a sneak peek of a confidential report sure to be illegally leaked by Starr and his thugs any day now."

The parody details all of the "illegal" actions of Mister Rogers and his Neighborhood friends including his violation of "Article 1, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution by recognizing the royal sovereignty of King Friday XIII within the United States borders" as well as Mr. McFeely's "resemblance" to the Unabomber.

Skipping the details of this parody's text for the sake of any young readers of this blog as well as the overall integrity of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (while I've always enjoyed Mad Magazine, let's face it -- that type of humor isn't for everyone), I wanted share the terrific artwork by Drew Friedman found in this article.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Episode 1695 - Mad Feelings

Original Air Date: October 20, 1995

For details on Episode 1695, visit the Neighborhood Archive.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Purple Planet from TI Speaking Library [1983]

In 1982 and 1983, Texas Instruments produced the Magic Wand Speaking Reader. Used with books containing small barcodes, the magic wand would read aloud to young learners as they followed along.

A small handful of books for the Speaking Reader were published including popular characters and programs from that time like E.T., The Berenstain Bears, and Bill Cosby's Picture Pages; however, I found a 1983 publication to be most interesting.

Planet Purple is a Level 1 book which was offered as part of the Texas Instruments Speaking Library. I know very little about this book other than the fact that a copy is currently for sale on eBay as well as on If anyone has a copy or ends up purchasing a copy, please drop me a line. I'd love to learn more about this book and see some of the images from its inside!

If you'd like to learn more about the Texas Instruments Magic Wand Speaking Reader, click HERE to visit a site with some interesting details (including one of the images used above).

Episode 1694 - Mad Feelings

Original Air Date: October 19, 1995

For details on Episode 1694, visit the Neighborhood Archive.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Chicago Daily News TV Insert

Not sure what year this is from...

UPDATE: For more information on this feature article, click HERE.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Around the Children's Corner LP

I'm excited to get 2010 started with a very cool piece of Mister Rogers memorabilia from some of his earliest days in children's programming. Before the holidays, Neighbor Lawrence was kind enough to contact me with some images and information about the LP titled Around the Children's Corner. Even more exciting was the digital copy of this album which Lawrence was gracious enough to share as well! First and foremost, my many thanks to Lawrence for his generosity and for taking the time to share this gem!

Around the Children's Corner was one of two full-length albums released by Josie Carey and Fred Rogers based on their Children's Corner program (the other being Tomorrow on the Children's Corner). The LP contains 19 tracks which tell the story of Josie Carey's unexpected visit to the Children's Corner.

Josie opens the album with the Why Hi Song which she sings as she swings in her neighbor's back yard. As her mother cooks hamburgers on this beautiful day, Josie suddenly finds herself swept away to the woods near some trolley tracks and a sign which reads "Welcome! You've found the Children's Corner!" Somewhat confused about her whereabouts, Josie sings a short verse of I Found the Children's Corner as she encounters Daniel Striped Tiger in his clock. During this encounter, we find out that Daniel wears a wristwatch simply because the clock he lives in does not work. As Josie becomes a bit concerned about talking with a wild animal, Daniel sings I'm Tame -- a song about his polite and friendly nature.

Comfortable with the tame tiger, Josie and Daniel talk about how much they like flowers. Josie mentions a cow she knows named Chrysanthemum. This leads into a song about the skinny cow who, unlike other cows, only eats flowers. The farmer and his wife are worried about this cow's picky eating habits and they plant a flower garden just for Chrysanthemum.

After this song, Daniel mentions his love of hamburgers: "I make hamburger pizza waldorf salad, hamburger upside-down cake, and just plain hamburgers." Daniel also reveals to Josie that she arrived in the Children's Corner by thinking 17 1/2 good thoughts in a row. X the Owl is mentioned and Daniel tells us that X used to live with him in the clock "while the great oak was growing." As Daniel goes inside to attend to a stove full of hamburgers, Josie departs to meet X the Owl.

As she approaches the oak tree, Josie sings another verse of I Found the Children's Corner about X the Owl. Surprised to be talking to an owl, Josie is met with slight sarcasm from X: "What did you expect to see in a tree? A rhinoceros?" X the Owl shares his excitement to see someone new as the Children's Corner hasn't seen any visitors in 2 1/2 inches (time is measured by the growth of the oak tree). The nature of people is called into question as he boldly states that "sometimes people are so busy they can't think 17 1/2 good thoughts in a row."

X takes an immediate liking to Josie and sings I Give a Hoot for You. Following his song, X mentions to Josie that a party will be taking place very soon to celebrate the birthday of King Friday's pet mocking bird and reads a poem that he wrote for the party. Responding to the poem about the special day, Josie sings Every Minute of Today (The Happy Song) -- a song about the importance of trying to be positive and happy every minute of the day. After Josie's song, X leaves to wrap his present for King Friday's pet.

Moving on, Josie says that she knew it was going to be a special day when she woke up that morning and sings Good Morning, God, a beautiful prayer song similar in nature to the better known Goodnight, God. Henrietta Pussycat hears the singing and catches Josie's attention. As she compliments the beautiful feline, we learn that Henrietta received her hat from Mister Rogers (who Henrietta refers to as her "boss" -- through interpretation, of course). After receiving a phone call from Daniel Tiger, Henrietta sings Meow Meow Meow Meow Beautiful, the song we've heard before which is filled with her limited vocabulary of "meow," "Mister Rogers," "beautiful," and "telephone." Busy with her own preparations for the party, Henrietta hurries away leaving Josie to move on.

Approaching the tower, Josie thinks she sees Daniel Tiger at the top, only to quickly realize that is is actually Grandpere. Josie and Grandpere sing a song together -- Vous Et Moi Ensemble (You and Me Together) -- with Grandpere's lyrics in French and Josie's in English. Following their duet, Grandpere sings a song in French about family -- Ma Famille. Finally, the two come together again to sing Les Jours De La Semaine (The Days of the Week), a song about how the days are the same in France but sound different when spoken in French.

Grandpere goes inside the tower and Josie heads towards the castle, singing another verse of I Found the Children's Corner -- this one about King Friday. As she approaches the castle, King Friday instructs her to make an appointment before she will be allowed to talk to him. Referred to as the "King of Calendarland," King Friday talks with Josie about the importance of this festive day and sings Mimus Polyglottos is My Pet -- a song we've also heard in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. Josie responds with a short song about "walking mocking" which is eventually sung together with King Friday's ode to his pet.

Everyone begins to arrive for the party as King Friday and Josie sing a birthday song -- Had I On a Hat. While the title of this song does not suggest so, this song is a celebratory song about honoring a person on their birthday: "Had I on a hat, I'd take it off to you. Had I on a hat, I'd bow and curtsey, too. Had I on a hat, I'd toss it in the blue and shout a happy birthday. May your big wish come true."

The party begins and everyone comes together to sing a very fun song called We're Going to Have a Party (The Party Song). King Friday's verse includes a line of typical arrogance as he refers to his pet: "Naturally he's happy. Doesn't he belong to me?" Daniel follows with a verse about his appreciation for everyone: "Every day's a party when good friends meet in any way." Grandpere offers a verse in French and Henrietta sings a verse limited to her meager vocabulary. Finally, X wraps up the song with a verse about dancing with Henrietta.

Josie concludes her visit to the Children's Corner by singing I Found the Children's Corner in it's entirety -- a cumulative song including all of the previously sung verses built upon each other. Recalling that she needs to set the table, Josie returns home by singing Goodnight God. Back in her neighbor's yard, Josie sings So Long Goodbye and recalls fond memories of her friends in the Children's Corner.

For more on this LP, visit the Neighborhood Archive.