The World According to Mister Rogers – Fred Rogers (2003)

rogers_bookThere was a recent confluence of Mister Rogers in life the other day when I happened to pick up a small book of his sayings and also watch a PBS special on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood around the same time. I didn’t grow up with Mister Rogers (although I would have liked to), and didn’t come to him until I was in college, but regardless of how you are/were when you first met him, Mister Rogers was an American hero in many ways.

For those who didn’t grow up in America (or perhaps have access to American-based TV programs), Mister Rogers was a gentle cardigan-wearing children’s television host who was instrumental in changing how TV reached the younger elementary and preschool set to teach them about the world about us. He originally started working for NBC in 1951, but quit when he decided that all the ads on children’s TV programs undermined any educational message that the programs may have had, saying (according to Wiki): “I went into television because I hated it so, and I thought that there’s some way of using this fabulous instrument to nurture those who would watch and listen.”

mister_rogers_feature_2_1050x700Mister Rogers began working at WQED, Pittsburgh’s public television station, and developed puppets and music used in his programming, and when he wasn’t working full-time at the TV station, Rogers was studying theology at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He wasn’t interested in preaching, so upon his ordination, he was charged with continuing his work with children’s television.

Despite the religious background, Mister Rogers only used such biblical nuggets as the Golden Rule (e.g. treat others as you would like to be treated), be kind and other gentle important life lessons, and his programs turned into such an institution for the American kids in the 1960’s onwards through the turn of the century, that he (and his red cardigan) became famous, even getting parodied by Saturday Night Live with Eddie Murphy doing “Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood”. In fact, one of Mister Roger’s cardigans is on display at the Smithsonian Museum of America History in DC. 🙂

So, this little book just captures part of Mister Rogers’ philosophy about life and being a good human, aimed at children, yes, but with a lot of relevance for people who are now adults. One of my own particular favorites of his is the following which particularly resonated after the 9/11 bombing:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

For more about the role that Mister Rogers has played in American life, try this Atlantic article. Just remember: “You are special, and so is your neighbor.”

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General Book Chat…

 

greatbooksI was going through a slight reader’s block a few weeks ago, and I really couldn’t find anything to read that was hitting the spot. So I picked up and put down quite a few titles and just floated around my book shelves for a while, and, in fact, even took a break from reading to see if I could uncover my reading mojo. (I became reacquainted with the joy of piddling around the house doing nothing in particular, and now have added it to my skill set. Any questions about how to piddle, just let me know. I’m happy to help.)

TV: During my reading break, we finished up watching the entire House of Cards series with Kevin Spacey, caught up with The Americans, and were happy to see the start of Orange is the New Black. (I’ve also been peer-pressured into watching the Ladies in London reality show about English high society women and American expats and how they fit in (or don’t as the case may be). It’s not as bad as I had expected and I’m not sure how many I’ll end up watching, but I seem to have a sort of horrified fascination with the show as it unfolds, rather like seeing a car crash in slow motion. We’ll see…

Movies: I just saw the movie Belle last night and really enjoyed it. Luscious costumes and unpredictable story along with some good acting – a good package. Recommend it if you like Downton Abbey or any other period dramas (although Belle is more eighteenth century).

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Books: And I was working my (slow) way through Fink’s Five Days at Memorial non-fiction about how one of the New Orleans hospitals react when Hurricane Katrina arrives. It’s one of those reads when it’s ok when you’re reading it, but it’s pretty easy to pick up and it’s pretty easy to put down (and stay down). I’ve been staying the course (about 2/3 through), but have finally decided to cut the cord and move on. Phew.

So – it’s been a time of change and all is good in my small world.

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You Screen, I Screen, We All Screen…

televisionAlthough I am a huge fan of the written word, I am also partial to a good movie or TV series (as long as it’s a good story), so thought I’d let you know what we’d been viewing recently. Something to know about our watching habits is that when we discover a new TV series, we become kinda sorta obsessive about watching it straight through episode after episode in rather a blitz. (We tend to discover older TV series so we can do this. Luckily.)

The most recent TV series we have found (well, kudos to the DH for this find) is “The Killing”,  a U.S. detective/cop drama which is set in recent times in Seattle. The first season (which we’re on) follows what happens when a young female high school student called Rosie Larsen is murdered. The director(s) of this series take the perspectives of multiple different people involved on varying levels with this murder and it’s fascinating to see how the drama develops. (We’re on Season One/Episode 8 or similar and so far, we are only about one week into the investigation which clearly shows how deep in detail the shows go.) The characters are flawed but understandable, they have backstories which are convincing and have realistic reactions. Plus it’s set in Seattle! It rains! All the time! (At least it does in this show.) The only minor challenge is that the lead detective chews gum as though her life depends on it which was distracting at first. (She smacks her gum. A lot.) However, as the story progresses and we get to know her character a bit more, it makes more sense (although it’s still annoying to a non-gum-chewer such as moi). Anyway, loving this series. Every episode ends as a cliff-hanger. Fab stuff.

Another TV series in which we immersed ourselves (but have now caught up with) was The Fall, a British BBC 2 show (I think) that is set in Belfast. Another crime/detective show which features Gillian Anderson (she of X Files which my dad used to love) who sports a very convincing English accent. Again, good plot and believable characters who are tied into a serial murderer. (Fascinating how they are portraying the criminal guy.) Recommend this one. (This one is also cold and rainy all the time. Can you tell I have had enough of Texas summer?…)

And then we watched the 1944 film of Gaslight,  a psycho thriller which follows a married couple with the husband playing serious mind games with the wife. Stars Ingrid Bergman and some people who I have not heard of, and is really good. (It turns out that “Gaslighting” is an accepted verb in some circles. Who woulda thunk?)

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