February 27th, 2003

‘Madness of George Dubya’ a UK hit

Wednesday, February 5, 2003 – CNN article

British theatre-goers are flocking to a new
farce which mocks U.S. President George W. Bush as a pyjama-wearing buffoon
cuddling a teddy-bear while his crazed military chiefs order nuclear strikes
on Iraq. “The Madness of George Dubya” — which mercilessly satirises British Prime
Minister Tony Blair as well as Bush — has proved such a success at a fringe
theatre in London that it is moving to a larger venue next week for an
extended run. “As war comes closer, the mood among audiences has changed,” actor Nicholas
Burns, who plays Blair, said after a performance this week. “The audience is
actually laughing more, but the tension behind their laughs has grown.
People are scared.”

Director Justin Butcher wrote “The Madness” in three days after Christmas —
then rehearsed it in six — in a fit of pique against the American
establishment following a brush with some U.S. security agents on a trip to
Romania. The agents were in Bucharest preparing for an imminent Bush visit and
interrogated Butcher and a friend in a hotel after overhearing a
conversation between them that they said they were “not comfortable with,”
the director said. “That was a key influence in my feeling that in the arts scene we were in
need of a wakeup call about the influence of American imperialism in the
world,” Butcher told Reuters after a full house had again cheered his play
to the rafters. “This is not a racist, anti-American thing. It’s a satirical attack on what
the U.S. and British governments are doing.”

As well as echoing in its title a 1994 film, “The Madness of King George,”
about Britain’s 18th century King George III, Butcher’s satire re-works plot
elements from Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 classic “Dr Strangelove.”
Throughout the play, Bush — with a cowboy hat and Superman T-shirt as well
as his pyjamas — wanders around uttering an idiot’s commentary from the
bunker (or “bunkbed” as he calls it) where his “special guys” have put him
for safekeeping. “Often times I get confused and forget stuff,” he says, as he rails against
the risk from “Islamic tourist states.” “Tourists are brown folks who get on planes and come to America and do bad
things, so we’re having a war on tourism,” he says in one of various risque
wisecracks in the play.


February 27th, 2003

Fred Rogers, host of ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,’ Dies at 74

(condensed from NYT article: may require free registration;):

PITTSBURGH ? Fred Rogers, who gently invited millions of children to be his neighbor as host of the public television show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” for more than 30 years, died of cancer early Thursday. He was 74. Rogers died at his Pittsburgh home, said family spokesman David Newell, who played Mr. McFeely on the show. Rogers had been diagnosed with stomach cancer sometime after the holidays, Newell said.

Rogers composed his own songs for the show and began each episode in a set made to look like a comfortable living room, singing “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood,” as he donned sneakers and a zip-up cardigan. His message remained a simple one throughout the years, telling his viewers to love themselves and others. On each show, he would take his audience on a magical trolley ride into the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, where his puppet creations would interact with each other and adults. Rogers did much of the puppet work and voices himself.

Rogers taught children how to share, how to deal with anger and even how not to fear the bathtub by assuring them they’ll never go down the drain. During the Persian Gulf War, Rogers told youngsters that “all children shall be well taken care of in this neighborhood and beyond — in times of war and in times of peace,” and he asked parents to promise their hildren they would always be safe.

Rogers’ gentle manner was the butt of some comedian’s jokes. Eddie Murphy parodied him on “Saturday Night Live” in the 80’s with his “Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood,” a routine Rogers found funny and affectionate.

Official PBS site that includes songs, pictures, and stories.
IMDB cast list for Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood.
Lengthy Capt. Kangaroo vs. Mr. Rogers grudge match site.
About.com has a nice collection of links.
Nice Salon.com article from 1999.
Click on sound collage for an, uh, sound collage. Kembrew calls it “Mr. Rogers – Satan = Elvis”
    requires RealPlayer, which means I haven’t heard it yet
Another collage from
Escape Mechanism
Jack Bowman’s Mr. Hitler’s Neighborhood
performance piece uses the show’s format. Creepy.
AlterNet article: Goodbye, Mister Rogers
GetYourWarOn has a nice tribute

G’bye Mr. Rogers; we’ll miss you.

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