Gelato and Granita stop at Grom, Malibu while showing cousins around town. via My Instagram

Gelato and Granita stop at Grom, Malibu while showing cousins around town. via My Instagram

Gelato and Granita stop at Grom, Malibu while showing cousins around town. 

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On A Weekend Family Visit to La Quinta and Palm Springs — Follow Me On Instagram!

On A Weekend Family Visit to La Quinta and Palm Springs -- Follow Me On Instagram!

On A Weekend Family Visit to La Quinta and Palm Springs

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Won’t You Be My Neighbor? – Fred Rogers Documentary

Won't You Be My Neighbor? - Fred Rogers Documentary

I can’t recommend the new Mr. Rogers documentary strongly enough. 

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” is about so much more than the man behind one children’s program.  It’s about the way you can dedicate your life to a cause. It’s about the obvious point that if we teach children they are loved and give them security in their early years, we can avoid so much of the issues in their later lives. It’s about standing up for what you believe in.  It’s about how hard it is to fight our society’s glorification of toxic masculinity.  And, to me, most importantly, it’s about the power of television – a topic we all need to consider.

The two quotes I can’t forget – from a set of interviews with Fred Rogers that contained many worthwhile quotes (which is why you need to see the film so I don’t have to replicate them all here) — are:

“What we see and hear on television molds our lives”

and

“Television has the capability of being a neighborhood for the whole country.”

People far too often ignore television but because it comes into our homes effortlessly and is ever present, it does have the ability to shape ideas and opinions and it has always had the ability to educate. I don’t mean it only has to teach us multiplication and fractions, but like any good genre of storytelling, it teaches us empathy and understanding of others. Mr. Rogers did that gently and quietly because he was addressing children as they formed their identities, and for that we ought to be grateful.

On top of all that, when he says “The greatest thing you can teach someone is that they are loved, and are capable of loving, he validates a frequent comment I make to writing students – that every story, in the end, is a love story.  And this one is one you should not miss.

It almost makes me sad that children today on their iPads are watching the animated adventures of Daniel Tiger. While I’m happy they are being exposed to Mr. Rogers’ stories and lessons, I hope they don’t forget to show this new generation the actual episodes starring Mr. Rogers because seeing a gentle man in real life is probably more instructive than all the messages an animated tiger can give.

Learn more about Fred Rogers

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On A Weekend Family Visit to La Quinta and Palm Springs via My Instagram

On A Weekend Family Visit to La Quinta and Palm Springs via My Instagram

On A Weekend Family Visit to La Quinta and Palm Springs

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Fred Rogers, our friend and neighbor on CBS Sunday Morning

When the power of television met the power of love, magic happened. We were so happy to find that through animation Daniel Tiger lives again so new generations of children can learn the lessons of Fred Rogers. This documentary needs to be seen by anyone working in television.

Fred Rogers, our friend, and neighbor on CBS Sunday Morning

Soup and Salad at The New Deal, Burbank, CA via My Instagram

Soup and Salad at The New Deal, Burbank, CA via My Instagram

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Memorial Day, Michener and South Pacific

Tales south pacific cover

I was missing the Memorial Day parades of my Cleveland, Ohio childhood until I realized I was engaging in an individual Memorial Day event without even planning such coordination.

Having taken my Mom to see a touring company of South Pacific for Mothers Day a few weekends back at the La Mirada Theatre, I had finally decided I ought to read the book from which the musical sprang so I ordered a copy of James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific.  I’ve been spending the day learning more about the men and women (remember there were nurses nearly wherever the soldiers were sent) who patrolled the Pacific in the early days of WWII.  It’s a kind of double-major moment since it’s also allowing me the chance to consider which of the many tangential stories Oscar Hammerstein chose to include in the adaptation.  

Review of the La Mirada Touring version of South Pacific

It’s also allowed me to recognize a part of my reader personality that I don’t think I had ever noticed – books hit me like the lightning bolt of Italian romantic myths.  Tales of the South Pacific has always been available to me but it wasn’t until I had a reason to read it that suddenly I found a way to slide some reading time into my busy grading and writing schedule.  And then I swallow that book I’ve been meaning to read in a couple of days – like taking a vacation from life and work for a few hours without the cost of fuel or lodging.  Books – the world’s cheapest vacations!

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Penguin Encounter! via My Instagram

Penguin Encounter! via My Instagram

Penguin Encounter!

Getting to meet Cito, the Humboldt Penguin during Channel Island Fox Working Group Conference at the Santa Barbara Zoo. 

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Learn more about penguins with these books

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** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!
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On the passing of Steven Bochco…

On the passing of Steven Bochco I was reminded of the wonderful opportunity I had to interview him for Written By Magazine back in 2010 thanks to the aide of my former boss, Kenny Johnson, who was a former college buddy and lifetime friend of Mr. Bochco. That was the year of the (deservedly) failed re-imagining of The Bionic Woman and talk of film versions of 21 Jump Street  and The A Team so I had come up with an article idea to interview the creative geniuses behind the originals. 

I emailed Kenny to see if he would sit for the interview, and if he thought his friends the two Steves (Bochco and Cannel) would do the same. He called around and they all said yes. I had only to approach Don Bellisario on my own to fill out the foursome and I was on my way. Funny thing was I had told Kenny about the story idea but admitted I was swamped finishing my PhD so I might not get to it for another few months. Kenny encouraged me to go for it “now” – so I did – and in the course of seeing the article through to publication, Mr. Cannell passed away of cancer only his family and friends knew about – including Kenny. So Kenny had urged me to work in the piece knowing I wouldn’t be able to include Mr. Cannell if I waited too long. The magazine was able to collect letters from writers who had been given their start at the Cannell company and publish a tribute to him alongside my article.

On the passing of Steven Bochco...

Now we’ve lost Mr. Bochco as well – a man I never had the chance to work with, but whom I have always admired. Even today I rave to my one-hour drama students about “Hearts and Souls” – the NYPD BLUE episode where Jimmy Smits’ character Bobby Simone dies (story by Bochco, David Milch and Bill Clark, teleplay by Nicholas Wootton- and I get tears in my eyes just recounting the story to them all these years later.  He truly created what we now call the 2nd Golden Age of Television Drama from Hill Street Blues forward, though NYPD BLUE will always be my favorite. 

I still have the book about the making of the show on a list for my MFA students to review — True Blue: The Real Stories Behind NYPD Blue Hardcover by David Milch and Bill Clark. Do yourself a favor and binge watch some of his work this weekend.

Read the entire article – The Class of ‘80

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** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!
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Rosanne Welch and Peg Lamphier perform in The Vagina Monologues at Cal Poly Pomona

For our 3rd year participating in the Cal Poly Pomona Women’s Center’s production of The Vagina Monologues, Peg and I were given My Angry Vagina – and we milked it for all the laughs we could. What is it about college students who laugh every time a professor uses colorful language?

Rosanne Welch and Peg Lamphier perform in The Vagina Monologues at Cal Poly Pomona

Rosanne Welch and Peg Lamphier perform in The Vagina Monologues at Cal Poly Pomona