Meet the Pals
MELISSA FITE JOHNSON
Melissa was born in Springfield, MO (possibly in the same hospital as Brad Pitt???) and raised in Pittsburg, KS. Her childhood family consisted of her mother Emmy, father Jerry, and older brother David. Melissa’s passion has always been writing. At age five, she narrated stories about kittens’ birthday parties from her perch on her father’s lap for him to type. In fifth grade, she spent every show-and-tell relaying the next installment of her kidnapped-girl series to her classmates.
But Melissa discovered her biggest love, poetry, by accident. She had to take a creative writing class in college and figured she’d suffer through the poetry. Instead, she fell in love and now has a Master’s in poetry and has published a full-length collection, While the Kettle’s On (Little Balkans Press, 2015), which won the Nelson Poetry Book Award and is a Kansas Notable Book, and a chapbook, A Crooked Door Cut into the Sky (Paper Nautilus Press, 2018), which won the Vella Chapbook Award. Individual poems have appeared in publications such as Pleiades, SWWIM, Broadsided Press, Whale Road Review, Stirring, Rust + Moth, and more. You can read her work at melissafitejohnson.com!
Melissa’s “day job” is being a high school English teacher, which she absolutely loves. She taught for twelve years at her old high school, and now she’s about to start her third year in Lawrence, KS, where she and her husband live with their three dogs. She is so happy to have started PARENTHOOD PALS with her bestie Caleb during this sometimes lonely pandemic; he and the Bravermans are the best company!
Caleb was born in Stillwater, OK and raised in Pittsburg, KS. As a child, his interests included Care Bears, ZooBooks, baseball, flicking pencils between his fingers and pretending they were fairies/mermaids, and pretending to scan grocery items when unpacking them at home. But his biggest interest was music.
He began imitating Ariel's singing at 3 and piano lessons at 5. His love of music morphed into a love of musical theater. He made his stage debut in community theater as the title Dickensian orphan in Oliver, and continued performing through his last year of high school, when he played Albert, a composer who'd attended NYU in Bye Bye Birdie. He then went to NYU to become a composer, where he received the Alan Menken Award for his musical theater writing and began working as a freelance accompanist, vocal coach, and music director.
Upon receiving his degree in composition, he continued working at NYU, eventually joining the faculty as a vocal coach, a position he held for five years. Outside of NYU he began music directing, most notably as the founding music director of the award-winning concert series If It Only Even Runs A Minute. He has written or co-written the musicals Nightfall, Hesitation Waltz, Fifteen Minutes to Midnight, and Dance Moms: The Musical, which was featured on the Lifetime series of the same name. He has also written two unpublished novels (heck, let's be optimistic: YET TO BE published novels).
As a pianist, he worked on the American premiere productions and studio cast recording of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the first national tour of The Bridges of Madison County, and the Broadway production and cast recording of Anastasia. He recently worked on his first film before being plunged into seemingly endless unemployment by Covid-19. But he still has family, friends, his Parenthood Pal Melissa, and all the Bravermans!
Who is our podcast for?
Anyone who enjoys the show Parenthood or who is looking for a new show to binge. Caleb and Melissa are huge fans of the show and of each other, so each episode is basically a love fest.
I've never seen Parenthood before. Would I like it?
Our joke is that Parenthood is a show to watch with a box of Kleenex beside you, but you’re just as likely to cry happy tears as sad ones. It’s also hilarious! And relatable (except no one is as close to their families as the Bravermans are, let’s get that straight right now). It’s a big-hearted series that also happens to be incredibly well-written and well-acted. The creator, Jason Katims, began his career writing for My So-Called Life, and he went on to work on Roswell, Friday Night Lights, About a Boy, and Away, so if any of those shows are for you, you’re also likely to love Parenthood.
Where can I watch Parenthood?
Parenthood is available to stream on Hulu and Peacock. All 6 seasons are also available on DVD!
What is our spoiler policy?
With the exception of Episode 00, which is about the Parenthood film, we are spoiler-free. The most fun part about discussing the movie was making connections to the series, so if you’re watching Parenthood for the first time you might want to start with Episode 101 - where we discuss the TV pilot. After that, we’ll only discuss one episode at a time.
Why does the podcast have an explicit rating?
We don’t want to restrict the conversation between the two of us, or with our guests...and from time to time we drop a four-letter word. You’ll never catch anyone cursing a blue streak, but we thought it best to give everyone a fair heads up.