Surprised by the Good Read GIDGET turned out to be!

While I have much grading to do as always, I was drawn to spend the weekend reading Gidget (by Frederick Kohner) thanks to my friend Ken Lazebnik’s book Hollywood Digs which includes an interview with the real life Franzie Kohner who IS Gidget.  In fact, she kindly appeared with Ken at a book reading he did in Malibu recently.

Before actually reading the book I didn’t know gidget stood for “girl midget” since she was so small on her surfboard (and now wonder how many women were named Gidget without now that); I didn’t know her father was a refugee from Nazi Germany who came to LA to be a screenwriter; and I didn’t know the book was going to be so good (both Gidget AND Hollywood Digs! – which I  knew would be good because Ken is such a wonderfully evocative writer). I suggest them both.

Turns out when it was released  Gidget was compared favorably to Catcher in the Rye by book critics… and probably  lost its edge in readers’ minds thanks to the bubblegum reputation the films gave the story – compounded by the fact that it was a girl’s coming of age story and not a boy’s.  I learned long ago in teaching American Literature, to an all girl high school of all things, that educators believe girls will read about boy protagonists (in an effort to understand them enough to hook them) but boys will not be as enthusiastic about reading the story of a girl protagonist).  So schools adjusted and chose mostly books with male protagonists for high school students of both sexes to study, which means boys lost the chance to learn the lessons first generation immigrants surviving economic hardship from A Tree Grows in Brooklynamong other losses.

Of course, the advent of such things as The Hunger Games trilogy seems to belie that idea — but you’ll notice publishers felt that in order to engage boy readers Katniss needed to wield a weapon, not merely master a craft like surfing.  Another reason to return to reading Gidget.

And all of this mulling reminds me of a TED Talk on How Movies Teach Manhood that  I showed students the other day by Colin Stokes, director of communications for the non-profit Citizen Schools.  He compares the heroine of The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy Gale from Kansas, to Luke Skywalker of everyone’s much beloved Star Wars and finds that Dorothy triumphs by mastering the leadership skills of working with others and bringing them together toward a common goal that benefits all while Luke triumphs as an individual by mastering a violent skill that requires killing the enemy to win.

My comparison between Gidget and Catcher seems similar in that Gidget experiments in the world of romance and sex without needing to make the acquaintance of a hooker – yet high schools read Holden’s story as literature and are never exposed to Gidget’s story at all.

Video: Dr. Rosanne Welch speaks on “The Promise” and Slavery

Promise Video Title Card slavery

Dawn Comer Jefferson (L) and Dr. Rosanne Welch (R) present on their book, The Promise

 

On Friday March 21st my co-author, Dawn Comer Jefferson and I had the pleasure of making a presentation on “Slavery and the Oregon Trail” based on our book The Promise to the 3rd, 4th and 5th grades of Carpenter Avenue Elementary School as the guests of the non-profit Parents For Carpenter.

We discussed the origins of slavery in the Americas, the hardships of surviving the Oregon Trail (collecting buffalo chips was a topic of great interest as was the repetitive diet of bacon, beans, biscuits and coffee), and the patently unfair laws that kept enslaved African-Americans from learning to read and write and from testifying in court cases. 

The question and answer sessions highlighted the success of teaching critical thinking to elementary students. Children asked about what happened when someone died on the trail, why no one listened to the Quakers who believed all men and women were created equal even before the laws guaranteed that point and one boy even made the connection between Jackie Robinson’s having been called a trailblazer and our fictionalized family taking the Oregon Trail as original trailblazers.

Print Edition | Kindle Edition

We even found that some teachers and parents on hand for the presentation were never taught that Thomas Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration of Independence (which listed crimes committed by the King that allowed us to sever our obligations as subjects) included the fact that the King condoned slavery and that during debate this was excised from the document or the Southern representatives would not sign.

These are things I take for granted from teaching American History every semester, but was happy to reiterate for this younger – and very eager to learn – audience. It is always gratifying to know that these presentations are engaging, entertaining and informative to both the children and the adults in attendance. In fact, one grandmother on hand bought 10 copies to take back to her classroom in Pennsylvania!

Dr. Rosanne Welch presents “The Doctor Who CHANGED the Sci-Fi Universe” – April 16, 2014 at 1pm

Who culture

Dr. Rosanne Welch presents The Doctor Who CHANGED the Sci-Fi Universe

Cal Poly Pomona University Library

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
12:00–1:00pm

Location: University Library 4th floor, Special Events Room

 

Doctor Rosanne Welch, Cal Poly Pomona Faculty from the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education will discuss Doctor Who and how the show has changed television writing. Doctor Welch will further discuss how society looks at culture and gender roles with the use of the Doctor and his companions’ adventures.

Video: A Reading of “The Promise” – Chapter 1 with Co-Author, Dawn Comer Jefferson

Promise reading title

Dawn Comer Jefferson (L) and Dr. Rosanne Welch (R) present on their book, The Promise

 

On Friday March 21st my co-author, Dawn Comer Jefferson and I had the pleasure of making a presentation on “Slavery and the Oregon Trail” based on our book The Promise to the 3rd, 4th and 5th grades of Carpenter Avenue Elementary School as the guests of the non-profit Parents For Carpenter.

We discussed the origins of slavery in the Americas, the hardships of surviving the Oregon Trail (collecting buffalo chips was a topic of great interest as was the repetitive diet of bacon, beans, biscuits and coffee), and the patently unfair laws that kept enslaved African-Americans from learning to read and write and from testifying in court cases. 

The question and answer sessions highlighted the success of teaching critical thinking to elementary students. Children asked about what happened when someone died on the trail, why no one listened to the Quakers who believed all men and women were created equal even before the laws guaranteed that point and one boy even made the connection between Jackie Robinson’s having been called a trailblazer and our fictionalized family taking the Oregon Trail as original trailblazers.

Print Edition | Kindle Edition

We even found that some teachers and parents on hand for the presentation were never taught that Thomas Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration of Independence (which listed crimes committed by the King that allowed us to sever our obligations as subjects) included the fact that the King condoned slavery and that during debate this was excised from the document or the Southern representatives would not sign.

These are things I take for granted from teaching American History every semester, but was happy to reiterate for this younger – and very eager to learn – audience. It is always gratifying to know that these presentations are engaging, entertaining and informative to both the children and the adults in attendance. In fact, one grandmother on hand bought 10 copies to take back to her classroom in Pennsylvania!

Video: A Presentation on “The Promise” and Slavery on the Oregon Trail – Dawn Comer Jefferson and Dr. Rosanne Welch

Promise Video Title Card

Dawn Comer Jefferson (L) and Dr. Rosanne Welch (R) present on their book, The Promise

 

On Friday March 21st my co-author, Dawn Comer Jefferson and I had the pleasure of making a presentation on “Slavery and the Oregon Trail” based on our book The Promise to the 3rd, 4th and 5th grades of Carpenter Avenue Elementary School as the guests of the non-profit Parents For Carpenter.

We discussed the origins of slavery in the Americas, the hardships of surviving the Oregon Trail (collecting buffalo chips was a topic of great interest as was the repetitive diet of bacon, beans, biscuits and coffee), and the patently unfair laws that kept enslaved African-Americans from learning to read and write and from testifying in court cases. 

The question and answer sessions highlighted the success of teaching critical thinking to elementary students. Children asked about what happened when someone died on the trail, why no one listened to the Quakers who believed all men and women were created equal even before the laws guaranteed that point and one boy even made the connection between Jackie Robinson’s having been called a trailblazer and our fictionalized family taking the Oregon Trail as original trailblazers.

Print Edition | Kindle Edition

We even found that some teachers and parents on hand for the presentation were never taught that Thomas Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration of Independence (which listed crimes committed by the King that allowed us to sever our obligations as subjects) included the fact that the King condoned slavery and that during debate this was excised from the document or the Southern representatives would not sign.

These are things I take for granted from teaching American History every semester, but was happy to reiterate for this younger – and very eager to learn – audience. It is always gratifying to know that these presentations are engaging, entertaining and informative to both the children and the adults in attendance. In fact, one grandmother on hand bought 10 copies to take back to her classroom in Pennsylvania!

“The Promise” Presentation to Carpenter Avenue Elementary – March 21, 2014

Dawn Comer Jefferson and Dr. Rosanne Welch present on their book, "The Promise"  - 11

Dawn Comer Jefferson (L) and Dr. Rosanne Welch (R) present on their book, The Promise

On Friday March 21st my co-author, Dawn Comer Jefferson and I had the pleasure of making a presentation on “Slavery and the Oregon Trail” based on our book The Promise to the 3rd, 4th and 5th grades of Carpenter Avenue Elementary School as the guests of the non-profit Parents For Carpenter.

We discussed the origins of slavery in the Americas, the hardships of surviving the Oregon Trail (collecting buffalo chips was a topic of great interest as was the repetitive diet of bacon, beans, biscuits and coffee), and the patently unfair laws that kept enslaved African-Americans from learning to read and write and from testifying in court cases.

The question and answer sessions highlighted the success of teaching critical thinking to elementary students. Children asked about what happened when someone died on the trail, why no one listened to the Quakers who believed all men and women were created equal even before the laws guaranteed that point and one boy even made the connection between Jackie Robinson’s having been called a trailblazer and our fictionalized family taking the Oregon Trail as original trailblazers.

Print Edition | Kindle Edition

We even found that some teachers and parents on hand for the presentation were never taught that Thomas Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration of Independence (which listed crimes committed by the King that allowed us to sever our obligations as subjects) included the fact that the King condoned slavery and that during debate this was excised from the document or the Southern representatives would not sign.

These are things I take for granted from teaching American History every semester, but was happy to reiterate for this younger – and very eager to learn – audience. It is always gratifying to know that these presentations are engaging, entertaining and informative to both the children and the adults in attendance. In fact, one grandmother on hand bought 10 copies to take back to her classroom in Pennsylvania!

Watch a slide show all of the photos from this presentation

Photos: Rosanne teaches Gilgamesh at Cal Poly Pomona (IGE 120) – Facebook Album

In designing a new website the department is taking photos of our classes and they caught me doing our annual outdoor full class reading of Gilgamesh. Cal Poly Pomona is quite a pretty campus!

Click the photo below to see the entire album and full resolution photos.

Rosanne gilgamesh

Interview with John Leggett about Ross & Tom: Two American Tragedies

I had a great time talking to John Leggett about the Foreverland Press reissue of his dual biography of 2 tragically uber successful writers who couldn’t handle their success…

Here’s the beginning of the interview and a link to the complete text.

foreverland-press

Rosanne Welch Interviews John Leggett about Ross & Tom: Two American Tragedies

When muckraker Theodore Dreiser wrote An American Tragedy in 1925 he hoped to help society focus on the debilitating effects of poverty.  Nearly fifty years later, in Ross and Tom: Two American Tragedies, John Leggett found similar effects could come from the opposite end of the spectrum, an abundance of talent, money and fame.  Leggett’s fascination with the (spoiler alert) suicides of best-selling authors Ross Lockridge and Thomas Heggen, after the publication of their wildly successful first novels led Leggett to write this dual biography.  Published first in 1974 Ross and Tom is now back in circulation in an era far more fascinated with fame than even Leggett could have imagined. Ross and Tom is such a deeply researched book about the act of writing, as well as the sacrifices of the writing life, one reads on despite knowing each man will leave behind loved ones as well as lasting legacies in the world of American Literature.

Read the entire interview at Foreverland Press

Torchwood Declassified Available in the U.S. with my chapter on “Children of Earth”

Happy to say that I just received my copy of Torchwood Declassified in the mail – it has a chapter about the 3rd season arc “Children of Earth” that I co-wrote with my friend, Martin Griffin and for which we all trooped to Cardiff a few summers ago to deliver the paper that became the chapter. Great memories – and a great line for the CV!

Audio: Rosanne Welch and Dawn Comer Jefferson interviewed on the Go Write Something! Podcast

Dawn and Rosanne were recently interviewed by Candice L. Davis of the Go Write Something podcast. You can listen to the entire interview here or directly from the GoWriteSomething.com web site.

Listen to this podcast – GWS 001: How Writing for TV Prepared These Writers for Indie Publishing

GWS 001: How Writing for TV Prepared These Writers for Indie Publishing

Woo hoo! The premiere episode of the Go Write Something podcast! I can’t wait to get some more interviewing experience under my belt, so I can look back and laugh at how dorky I sound in the early episodes.

Dawn Comer Jefferson and Rosanne Welch are writing partners who’ve done most of their work in television. (Their full bios are below.) In this episode I interview them about their first novel, based on historical events, The Promise.

We talk about:

  • how to collaborate with another writer
  • how writing for television influenced their novel writing journey
  • how to create your own writing lifestyle
  • and more