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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mister Rambo's Neighborhood

A 1985 episode of the Tonight Show featured Johnny Carson in the role of Mister Rambo -- a character combining Mister Rogers and the Sylvester Stallone character John Rambo. Throughout this sketch, Mister Rambo talks with children about various ways to punish, harm, and even kill others and themselves.


At the end of the sketch, Mister Rambo even detonates an explosive as Mr. McFeely leaves the house resulting in debris and one of Mr. McFeely's limbs flying back in through the window.

According to some sources, Fred Rogers openly complained about this sketch and Johnny Carson responded with a public apology.

What do you think? Did this parody take things too far?

To read about this and other parodies of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, visit the Neighborhood Archive.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Rosie O'Donnell Show [1996]

I have footage of several interviews with Fred Rogers that I've put on a back burner -- saving them for a rainy day. Well, it's not raining outside but it is cold so I thought today might be a good day to look at one of them -- Fred Rogers' 1996 appearance on the Rosie O'Donnell Show.
You can watch the interview here via YouTube or read a transcript of it on the Neighborhood Archive site.

While the interview is fun to watch, the one thing that stood out most to me comes in the final few seconds of the clip. Rosie O'Donnell compliments Fred Rogers on his career as he sits quietly and listens to her. At the moment you expect the studio audience to erupt in applause and the commercial break to begin, Fred turns the moment around on Rosie and thanks her for her work with children.

Humility at its finest.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I Want to (Make) Believe

Talk amongst your friends. I guarantee that at least 50% of them believe in (or are at least curious about) life on other planets. Whether or not there are Reese's Pieces gobbling extra-terrestrials out there watching us from afar, there is definitely a popluation here on Earth of people who believe so. Otherwise, this somewhat well-known image seen on posters for many years would have never been made.

A while back, I stumbled upon a variation of this poster that I thought would be more appropriate for readers of this blog.

I'm not sure where this alternate version originated and the demographic of people who would actually understand the reference is likely quite small; but either way, I tip my hat to whoever created this.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Wearing Mister Rogers

There are quite a few Mister Rogers shirts available online these days. Just do a quick search on eBay for "Mister Rogers shirt" and you'll come up with more results than you'd probably expect. Many of these shirts, though, aren't much to get excited about. While most are just an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of "vintage" pop culture, there are even some that include corny phrases that just don't fit.

Among the graphic t-shirts found at stores from Target to Old Navy, I wouldn't be surprised to find Mister Rogers face. A friend of mine picked up a Mister Rogers shirt for me on clearance at the Gap this past summer. Never in a thousand years did I think that I'd see the day that a Mister Rogers shirt could be bought at the Gap.

But modern trends aside, what about the shirts that were printed during the height of Mister Rogers' popularity? While there were surely more, I thought we could take a quick look at a few of the true vintage Neighborhood shirts.

The first two are clearly from the same time period -- according to the copyright shown on the shirt, 1985. With shirts featuring Daniel Striped Tiger and X the Owl, I can only assume that there were others made as well. Possibly Henrietta Pussycat or King Friday?

Although the date on the Mr. McFeely shirt below is 1970, I don't know that it is truly that old. If it's not, I'd say that it was likely produced in the late 70's or early 80's. In comparison to other shirts, it is very likely that it's a bit older based on the style of the shirt itself.

I'm not sure of a date on other shirt below. The graphic of Mister Rogers and Daniel is a simple print which reminds me somewhat of the iron-ons that were common when I was a kid.

This long-sleeve shirt showed up on eBay a while back and I saved the image simply because I'd never seen this shirt before. Since when is the Trolley blue?

I wonder if this next shirt came from Idlewild. It's the exact same image that is found on the Idlewild ceramic souvenir bank.

I don't know what the story is behind this next shirt. I'm curious to know what the term "alumni" is referring to. Either way, this one comes from 1997.

Next is one of my favorites I've come across. While the ringer-style t-shirt is not one that I wear often, for the sake of nostalgia, I love this shirt. The 1970 copyright makes me wonder if this one if from the same time as the Mr. McFeely shirt seen above.

Last but not least is the shirt that I find most interesting of all. When I was a kid, I had a pair of overalls that had a small Sesame Street label on them. Aside from the small Sesame Street logo, there was no other indication anywhere that this piece of clothing was related to the television show.

Similarly, the shirt below is an official Mister Rogers' Neighborhood shirt, but not the typical piece of merchandise you might expect. At first glance, this shirt looks like many others found in the boys' section of any department store. But a closer looks shows something more.

The tag, a Neighborhood Trolley, says "Welcome to My Neighborhood" while the small tag sewn to the left sleeve features the Trolley as well. Incidentally, it appears that this shirt sold for $9.00.

But look at the tag on the collar. This shirt, much like my Sesame Street overalls, is a subtle piece of official Neighborhood merchandise.

I'm sure there are many, many other Mister Rogers shirts out there. I'll keep my eyes open for more...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Tell Me, Mister Rogers [1975]

These two books aren't hard to come by. You've likely seen one or both before.

Mister Rogers Talks About and Tell Me Mister Rogers are both hardbound publications which include collections of short stories/lessons on various topics affecting young people. As you can see from the covers, the topics include everything from getting a haircut to fear of thunder and lightning.

The lessons within these books are presented through the use of "real world" photography rather than the familiar characters seen on the Neighborhood program. In fact, Mister Rogers himself appears only on the covers each book. Flipping through Tell Me Mister Rogers, there were several photographs that stuck out.

First, I just can't get enough of the early 1970s fashion trends. These books came out in 1974 and 1975 so the plaid pants certainly weren't a surprise.

Apples for 33 cents a pound? I went grocery shopping this morning and paid a dollar a pound...on sale. I suppose tripling in price over the course of almost forty years is no surprise either.

I like the fact that the photography in this book is not polished. I'm not talking about the quality of the photos but rather the content. Check out the writing on the dresser drawer behind the kid in this picture. I would think that this wouldn't hit the presses in most books.

On a side note, this picture hit home a bit as my youngest daughter recently colored the inside of a drawer on a brand new end table. At least it was on the inside.

This is one of my favorite pictures in the book as Fisher Price Little people were some of my favorite childhood toys. For those of you old enough to remember, Little People used to be smaller with very few actual features. Most were a body, a head, and a face. Then after a number of years, these were determined to be choking hazards and Fisher Price started making the current Little People which are much larger with more detailed features.

I love the fact that my kids prefer the old ones.

More than any other in the book, though, this picture caught my eye.

Published in 1975, Tell Me Mister Rogers came out several years before any toy version of Daniel Striped Tiger that I'm aware of. Either the puppet seen in this picture just coincidentally looks like Daniel, or there is some obscure early-1970s mechandise out there that needs to be dug up.

(Plus, that's the box for a Fisher Price Little People houseboat in the background.)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Podcast #9 - Mister Rogers & Me

You've likely seen over the past several months that a new documentary is hitting the Mister Rogers scene. I'm excited to share this newest podcast featuring a conversation with Benjamin Wagner -- the writer and producer of Mister Rogers & Me.

Here are a few links that may come in handy before and/or while you listen:
As always, you can click on the image above to download this podcast episode through iTunes or you can listen to it here in your web browser.

Thanks again, Benjamin...

Friday, January 13, 2012

Baby Finger Puppets

Picked these up recently on eBay through two different auctions...

I had seen these quite some time ago but had completely forgotten about them. Between the other finger puppets that were made of these same characters as well as many other Mister Rogers topics to cover over time, these had slipped my mind.

But how cool nonetheless.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pearls Before Swine

Those of you who read the daily comics in your local newspaper may have already seen this, but thanks to Neighborhood Archive reader Michael for pointing out today's Pearls Before Swine strip.

For anyone unfamiliar with Pears Before Swine, Michael has done a nice job of summarizing the strip to help clarify the content:
Today we get a reference in today's Pearls Before Swine comic strip...having done his "Occupy Sesame Street" protest for the last three days, the selfish, egotistical Rat disrupted various activity throughout, much to the chagrin of the intellectual and well-rounded Goat.  Today, dim-witted yet sweet-hearted Pig brings Goat the news that Rat has finally given up his protest after PBS agreed to let him "revive one of their own children's shows".  In the next panel, we find Rat wearing an orange sweater, blue tie, and white hair in Mister Rogers' house, surrounded by the fish tank, King Friday in his castle, the Traffic Light, and the Trolley below him.  However, while singing the classic theme song we all know and love, the misanthropic Rat changes one word which changes the song entirely: "Please don't you be my neighbor."
Thanks for pointing this out, Michael!

Monday, January 9, 2012

American Pie Trading Card #154

Here is the second of the two Mister Rogers cards from the 2011 Topps American Pie card set. The other card was shared a few weeks ago.

While I love the Walk of Fame card, this one doesn't do much for me. Aside from the fact that Mister Rogers Neighborhood has been pigeon-holed into the 1980's, the text on the back side of the card includes two typos/grammatical errors.

(For those who I know will ask, the first is the fact that the closing quote found in the name heading should be outside the first 'Rogers' or the second 'Rogers' should be removed altogether as it is on the Walk of Fame card. Secondly, there should be no apostrophe on the word viewers.)

What really gets me is the selection of Neighborhood of Make-Believe characters that were chosen to represent that portion of the show -- King Friday (fine), Henrietta Pussycat (hmm...okay), and Anna Platypus (really?!). There are definitely much more recognizable characters than Anna Platypus. Daniel Striped Tiger? Even Lady Elaine Fairchilde.

Whatever. Poorly done or not, it's still nice to see Mister Rogers included in this set of pop culture cards.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

King Friday Character Page

The most kingly of all character pages has been updated...

Friday, January 6, 2012

Autographed Trolley

Have you seen what's on eBay right now?

It's the late-1970s Musical Trolley that pops up on there from time to time -- but this one is different. This one comes in its original box in what appears to be almost perfect condition. It also has the original Daniel and Lady Elaine figures that came with the Trolley -- I think that's the original packaging they're in as well.

As if a Musical Trolley in this condition is not enough, this one is signed and dated by Fred Rogers!

Have at it, folks. I'm not the one selling this Trolley but I thought I'd point it out to anyone reading who might be interested.

On a side note, if anyone has one of those Lady Elaine figures by itself that they'd be willing to part with, drop me a line.