Thursday, September 27, 2007

A quick review from a Veggie Fan

I'm a veggie fan.
I admit it.
I like Veggie Tales. It's really not such a bad thing. I tell people all the time the reason I had kids was to play with the toys. Videos are not that far removed.

I sought out the Veggies after a co-worker told me about the "Hairbrush Song". He told me about "Larry the Cucumber" and a tomato whose name he couldn't remember. I bought Veggies before Mini-Me could really enjoy them. I liked them. She was 1, she couldn't have cared less.

I get shivers every time the big wall falls down and Joshua pops over the rubble and says "My Name is Joshua!!" I cry when I hear the "Thankful heart" snippet at the beginning of most of the videos....I will sit and watch "An Easter Carol" even if my kids aren't in the room. I love "A Snoodle's Tale" and I can sing along with most of the silly songs (many of which are genious!) I think Larry Boy Rocks! I also wish they made more Penguin videos.

I will say, though. I'm not a die-hard fan. They sometimes just aren't funny. The opening story to "King George and the Ducky", for instance. The Lord of the Beans, as a whole, is just not funny. It has moments, granted. Who'd have thought that sporks could be evil henchmen? And the Eagle always gives me a chuckle.

Despite a few misses, I remain a Veggie Fan. So when I heard about the "Demise" of all things veggie from another parental fan, I went looking for information. On the internet I found Phil Vischer's website. He had a long story about the 'rise and fall' of the Veggie kingdom. I read what I could of it but came away with the impression that he was bitter. (Whether or not that impression was right is impossible to say...)

Recently, I discovered Phil had written a book and that stirred up my desire to know more. (isn't it funny how we talk about authors by their first names - as if We know them so well? How many of us call Beth Moore "Mrs. Moore"?)

So I asked for the book, "Me, Myself & Bob" for my birthday (and got it). Though, it was just recently that I read it. It was a good read and very informative. I'm a person who wants to know details. Vischer spared none in his book, in fact, he gave quite a few.

He is an engaging story teller even when not behind the animation. He starts his story with his childhood. It makes sense to see it all laid out from the VERY Beginning. He felt God's call on his life to change the entertainment industry.

He shows how he managed to start in his basement as a child.

He continued seeking after his goal as a young adult in college - where he met Mike Nawrocki (the voice of Larry). Vischer tells how he started his career and tells how he started "Big Idea". I found it interesting that he was a reader of instruction manuals and wonder if he still reads them today. It was fun reading how Big Idea got it's start. Like I said, I am a person who likes to know things...and knowing how Bob and Larry got started just makes them more special.

Larry did not start out as a cucumber, just so you know.

He talked in some detail about the animation process, about the challenges of selling the first videos, of not having enough money to pay bills. Details. It was fascinating though I'm glad he didn't get TOO Techincal. My head was reeling from the basic stuff he was detailing.

It was a struggle to get Veggies off their "feet". But it happened, through word of mouth and the veggie kingdom went from sprouts to full-blown harvest crop.

About here the tone of the book started to change. I felt it. I couldn't quite put my finger on it but it was a tangible feeling. I found myself getting agitated. Physically and spiritually. As Big Idea grew in the story, there were many "I"s written. "I" did this or that. "I". "I". "I". I was getting more frustrated. I wondered why in the world I was getting agitated! It's a book! All this happened years ago. I was agitated none-the-less. I nearly threw the book down, or away. What kept me from following through was the fact that I wanted to know what happened!! (And I was more than half-way through the book.) Despite all the pride that I was seeing and the mystery agitation, I read on.

I decided to try and finish it quickly.
As Phil was writing about his business, he wrote nothing about God. As the business grew and grew - I began to wonder "Where is God in all this?"

Not in the "Why is this happening? sort of wondering - but where is Phil's record of seeking God's direction? Why doesn't he write down where God spoke to him? Where does he say "God nudged me this way or that"? It wasn't there. I wonder if that was the source of my agitation.

He writes that, essentially, Big Idea became a secular company. Even though, as head of the business, He remained steadfast in his faith and convictions. I find this fact fascinating..a Christian who's own business of putting out a Christian product was, in fact, secular at the basest of levels.

Even so, Big Idea grew. I think he wrote that it was the distribution of "Madame Blueberry" that pushed them up and into the mainstream.

One of my favorite quotes in the book happens toward the end. Corporate prayer did not always occur at Big Idea and then someone finally had the "big idea" that maybe it should (pun intended).

It was this segment that answered MANY of my questions.
Let me read it for you:

Prayer meetings at Big Idea were interesting affairs, because, unlike most churches, the Christians at Big Idea came from many backgrounds -- Catholic, Episcopalian, Baptist and Pentecostal, in addition to a big bunch of generic, white, suburban evangelicals like myself. We white, suburban, evangelicals typically organized the prayer meetings and kicked them off with an opening prayer, which, in typical white, suburban, evangelical fashion, were usually short, polite and pleasantly earnest -- heartfelt, without expressing too much passion or expectation of divine response. Given my background, this didn't strike me as anything but typical. Until, that is, one of our Pentecostals stood to pray -- and African-American woman from Chicago's southwest side. Suddenly, I was at a different meeting entirely. Words and emotions and heartfelt petitions rolled through the room, surrounding and enveloping and lifting us all about a mile closer to heaven -- so close I was sure I felt God's warm breath on the back of my neck. My music major wife learned early on about the difference between singing from your nose and singing from your diaphragm. For the first time, I was learning about the difference between praying from your head and praying from your heart. The generic suburban evangelicals kept organizing the prayer meetings, but the real praying never started until the Pentecostals showed up. -- pg. 230.

Many of my questions were answered in the last chapters of the story. The agitated feeling finally went away as Big Idea crumbled on the pages. In essence, to quote 'The Lorax': they kept biggering and biggering and biggering until that final, fateful smack on the last truffula tree. In the story of Big Idea the smack came in the form of bad business handling + Jonah + Lyrick's lawsuit. It was not just one thing that took Big Idea down - it was a series of one things.

I was cheering God, though, at the end of the book. Because it was only a few pages ago that I had wondered "Where is God?" -- He showed up. In a big way. God dealt with the Pride that Phil was honest about. I admire the fact that he wrote the book with such honesty.

Phil met God in such a such a new way ... that at the end of the story I think it's safe to say that he is no longer an ordinary, white, suburban, evangelical anymore. Just before the Lyrick trial someone gave Phil a word of knowledge. "I don't think this is about God and Big Idea,"she said. "I think this is about God and Phil."

At the end of the book, that is what it was all about. A grand scheme for one man to meet up with an almighty God. Was the fall of Big Idea in God's plan? Of course not. Scripture tells us that God doesn't bring the trials - but He will allow them. Just like He allowed Peter's sifting and Job's trials. ... After reading the book, it became obvious that it was God's plan for the PRIDE behind Big Idea to fall. It makes me want to search my own heart for the pride that I know lies within me.

I can't wait to see how God restores Phil Vischer. He's got a new company going and a new book out. This time around, I bet I know who is going to get all the glory. :-) Because God doesn't like to share.


Paula Vince said...

Thanks for this very interesting read! Because "Veggie Tales" are so big over here too, I'm not at all surprised about that pride issue that came up in the book. What a testimony that God would rather see the demise of the whole thing than "share the glory"
Hope the chicken pox isn't giving you too much trouble. We accidentally infected an adult relative when our oldest came down with chicken pox. I know why it spreads so easily, because during the contagious stage, parents are hardly even aware that anything is wrong. We thought Logan's first few blistery dots were more of his eczema.
PS The letter and coins came, to our great interest and excitement.
Thanks heaps!

call*me*kate said...

I'm the kind of person who loves to hear the background and details of things.

I found your post VERY interesting! I'm a closet Veggie Tale lover myself. We have maybe 5 videos but they drive my dh nuts. My kids liked them for a long time but haven't watched them recently. My favorite was Queen Esther - I love the song that she sings ("The battle is not ours ...") Gives me goosebumps. My daughter's middle name is Vashti, taken from that story in the Bible. I digress ..

It is always amazing to see God reveal Himself - especially in a pride situation. Thank you so much for writing this. I might even get that book. I hope that "Phil" operates his new company with God at the helm.

By the way, I just read your comment from 9/18 about my son's braces. Thanks for your sweet words! I'll let my son know your thoughts.

God bless,

TobyBo said...

thank you for the review. I am happy to see a post from you and hope the homeschool waters at your place have not proved *too* full of leopard seals this year.

Kelli said...

Oh my goodness! I got chills from reading your post.

I have to tell you that I owned Veggie stuff before I even had kids. My husband actually wooed me with his rendition of one of Larry's Silly Songs. We are a Veggied family. So when we heard about the Big Idea collapse, we were sad too. I remember wanted to get Phil's book, but then my attention was turned, probably so some shiny obeject.

Thank you for this post and for letting me know that it turned out ok in the end. Hey, Big Idea and Veggie Tales are great, but "what profits a man if he gains the world, but looses his soul?" Glad it's between God and Phil now.

I love visiting the laundry pile, because I know that God is here.

Anonymous said...

I, too, started on Veggie Tales before I had my first son. I remember watching the very first episode, I think it was 1994, when I was at a women's retreat at a large Christian bible college, and that was playing in the cafe. I sat through the whole show, and bought every episode they had until my first was born in 1999. Of course, I reasoned, I was saving them for my kids to-be. We stuck with them until just before Little Joe came out, and then all of the fun just sort of fizzled out. Maybe that was around the time that they were bought out, but it lost a lot of whatever attracted us in the first place. We still have most of them, but they are rarely watched now.

Thanks for the information on "Phil." I had read a little about what happened, but I, too, like details.

And I haven't been over here in a while, and I really like your new layout and color! Haven't been able to blog much lately with baby number 5 almost walking at seven months...time flies!

justjuls said...

I will have to check it out.
I have always looked at the stories however, and wondered in the mind's eye of a child how they ever connect with the Bible story sometimes.

Have a great week.

Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed your take on the whole story behind the fall of Big Idea. I read "Me, Myself and Bob" as well, and want you to know that I found myself asking the same questions as I read the book: where is God in all this? Why isn't he mentioning what God was telling him? So I guess I experienced the same "agitation" you did.
And I agree with you in that I think Phil Vischer is a totally different person now.

Really like your site! Will probably visit a lot more.

God bless!

Halfmoon Girl said...

I heard Phil speak about this on 100 Huntley Street or some program like that. We all can examine our hearts after hearing his story, can't we? Now I have that song stuck in my head: "Oh, where is my hair brush? Oh where is my hair brush? Oh where, oh where, oh where, oh where, oh where, oh where, oh WHHHHHEEEEERRRRRE is my hairbrush?!?!?

Beckaboo said...

Wow! I, too, am a Veggie Tales fan and have wanted to buy that book. In fact, now I am even more interested in it.
Do you get Veggie Tales and 3-2-1 Penguins/Larry Boy Adventures on NBC on Saturday mornings? It is so great that my kids are able to watch shows that I applaud on network tv. The beginning of the shows start different, but they didn't take out God!!
I look forward to reading the book, and to checking out Phil's new company. (Yes, we Do call them by their first name. Don't we? I don't think I could SPELL his last name, unless I could actually SEE it. So... Phil it is!)

Thanks for the great information!!

Your fellow Veggie-lover, Beckie :o)

Melanie said...

I also love Veggie Tales. Last week I got one of their CD's from the library and Hailey loves it- she "sings" along and claps her hands.

Such an interesting post today!!

Dapoppins said...

interesting. don't know what to say, but i read this whole post. and the other one too. Cause I am way behind. Chicken pox? You have chicken pox at your house too?