Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Make Your Own Sweater Color Print

A few weeks ago, I special-ordered a canvas print of the eye-catching artwork created by Owen Phillips for an article about the many different sweaters that Mister Rogers wore throughout the modern run of the Neighborhood.

Since then, I've received several inquiries as to how others might order a similar print of their own. After contacting the artist, here's how:

1. Make at least a one-time donation of minimum of $5 to the PBS member station of your choice. This can easily be done online HERE.

2. Send the receipt from your donation to Owen at It should look something like this.

3. Owen will send you a hi-res image.

4. Upload the image to the photo printing site of your choice to create your own print. I used Sam's Club for the canvas I had made.

Easy as that, Neighbors!


Sunday, March 25, 2018

Going Away & Coming Back

It seems that I was gone during what turned out to be one of the busiest weeks in the Neighorhood so far in 2018!

In case you missed anything, here's a run-down of the major events over the last week:

Fred Rogers' 90th Birthday

Tuesday we celebrated the 90th birthday of Fred Rogers. People across the nation wore sweaters and encouraged/performed acts of neighborly kindness -- something we should all remember to do every day.

Well, maybe not the sweaters.

Twitch Marathon

Tuesday also marked the (unexpected) beginning of another Twitch marathon! Starting with a series of favorite episodes, the marathon has currently reached the point of moving through all Neighborhood episodes in sequential order. Check it out on Twitch!

USPS Stamp Release

The long-awaited Mister Rogers postal stamp was release on Friday with a celebratory ceremony held at the WQED building in Pittsburgh.

This official event was shared live on Facebook, if you missed it.

. . .

As for me, it's been a wonderful week away with my family! I unplugged as much as possible (something I'd encourage all of you to try from time to time) and enjoyed several days in the Orlando area at Walt Disney World with the rest of the week spent on the beach further south in Bradenton.

We're (finally) home now -- safe and sound back to the Midwest where we were greeted with six inches of snow! Thanks to all of you faithful Neighborhood Archive readers for allowing me to step away for a few days!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Spring Break

In an interview with Fred Rogers, he once made the following comment about television:
"We don't have to have this sound and picture 24 hours a day. Turn off the Neighborhood. Turn off whatever's there. And play."
My wife and I are both school employees and our kids, of course, go to school. Spring break has arrived and, extending Fred's thoughts to other time consuming forms of media, I'll be unplugging for a week to enjoy the break with my family.

See you in a week, neighbors!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Bob Brubach: The First Black & White Panda

After my recent converastion with Randy and Bill on Pittsburgh's 102.5 WDVE Morning Show, I received an email with the title "Info on Black & White Panda."

Interesting. What an obscure character.

Opening the email, I saw the thumbnails for the attached images and immediately knew that I was in for a treat!

The message was from Bill Brubach, the brother of Bob Brubach who appeared twice in the credits for Neighborhood episodes -- specifically episodes featuring the circus -- but I'd not yet been able to place what part he had played. Bill's email clued me in with the following details:
[Bob] was a young dancer and performer that Don Brockett and Joe Negri "discovered" in high school performances at Pittsburgh's South Hills Catholic High School (now Seton-LaSalle HS). While in high school he starred in several shows alongside Lisa Negri, Joe's daughter.
Bob was a performer in some of Don Brockett's summer stock productions at that time -- and I guess Mr. Rogers told Don that he was looking for a "dancing Panda" to accompany Purple Panda on several episodes. Don brought in my brother Bob, and he was immediately cast in the role. (We always called his role "the Dancing Panda," but I understand the show referred to his character as "Black and White Panda" on several occasions.) 
I was a few years younger than Bobby, but I remember his stories about how hot the Panda costume was, and that he was doing silly dance moves under hot lights over and over again -- but how much fun he was having doing it. 
Anyway, Bobby went on to perform in several Broadway plays, including "The Magic Show" with Doug Henning, and later as an original cast member in the Tony Award-Winning "La Cage aux Folles." His bio in the Magic Show Playbill even listed his appearance on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood among his theatrical credits!
Unfortunately, Bobby passed away on Christmas Day in 1988 at the age of 33. Even though he was so young when he died, he had lived a full and fulfilling life, touring the world as a dancer, singer and performer. He was a proud Pittsburgher and fan of Fred Rogers -- and a memorable alumnus of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.
My thanks to Bill.

In memory of his brother Bob.

Black & White Panda.