Monday, May 16, 2016

Veggie Tales...and the Broccoli Rabe Backstage

Once upon a time, my college-aged kids were toddlers. That means we watched Veggie Tales. We laughed! We sang! We learned great truths! I loved how they worked so well entertaining and teaching children while using things that the parents had grown up. Because computer animation at the time created angst with using arms, the creators chose vegetables from the depths of the crisper to be the stars of the show. I'm remembering one of their first VHS tapes (because this was before DVDs) that had spoofs on Star Trek, Gilligan's Island, and even the Grapes of Wrath. We'd sing the songs and quote the funny lines all the time.

Veggies Tales are the creation of Phil Vischer (aka Bob the Tomato) and Mike Nawrocki (Larry the Cucumber). One of their writers included...Eric Metaxas! I just spent an enjoyable hour listening to the podcast of Eric Metaxas as guest on Phil Vischer's program from back in 2012. At about the 20 minute mark Metaxas starts talking about his literary goals, after graduating from Yale.

June 18, 2012 podcast with Phil Vischer:

Details from the podcast:

Although Metaxas dreamed of writing the next great 20th century novel, one thing led to another and he started writing children's books for Rabbit Ears Productions. (Here's an interview, not part of the podcast, where Metaxas discussed a bit about writing for children.) Back to the podcast with a few more interesting details:

Around the time my kids were born, Metaxas heard that Chuck Colson would be speaking at Yale Law School. Having read all of Colson's books, Metaxas had to go! Afterwards he wrote a letter for Colson and included it with one of his children's books for Colson's grandchildren. He received a lovely note back with a promise that he'd be remembered. And he was. A couple of years later Breakpoint called him to interview, and Metaxas got a job on their editorial team.

Two years later a tomato, aka Phil Vischer, hired him. Apparently they  officially met at the premier of Larry Boy and the Rumor Weed. Specifically Metaxas often says that he was hired to write veggie Shakespearen parodies, which appealed to his creative side. Thus Metaxas left Breakpoint to write for veggie tales...which allowed more veggies came out of the crisper! Metaxas says that he always brags about his Hamlet Omelette Parody. Also, Metaxas was the narrator for Esther (the veggie tales version). Metaxas said he is the one veggie never pictured, so no one knows which veggie he is. When Vischer asked him which one he was Metaxas said he had no idea, he had never been assigned one. Vischer retorted, "Well, what were you feeling like?" "A broccoli rabe!" Metaxas replied.

It was a lot of fun listening to them banter back and forth. They also discussed Metaxas' books about Deitrich Bonhoeffer and William Wilberforce.

I wish I still had all our veggie tales videos to photograph and share (because everyone likes photos) but they have fallen apart with use. My kids have grown up and are now in college. Perhaps it's time to find the DVD version for the grandkids....because veggie tales are classic!

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