“The Friday TV Report” 16 from Sally Ember, Ed.D., and her mom

“The Friday TV Report” 16 from Sally Ember, Ed.D., and her mom

I (Sally) update this ongoing mini-reviews of certain TV and Netflix shows with our opinions (began in fall, 2015). Check on Fridays!

This is the sixteenth post, for 3 weeks ending 10/21/16. I have the premier schedules and updated (as of 10/13/16) CANCELLED, RENEWED, “ON THE BUBBLE” SHOWS, below.

Also, I have been steadily removing my reviews or expectations for/of all shows that have been discontinued/canceled since we started this series of posts.

My mom, 84, and I (62) are probably not the “target demographic” for almost any show on television or any movie being produced currently. We live in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri, USA (Midwest, for those of you unfamiliar: think of that huge “Gateway Arch”? That’s here). I grew up here but then didn’t live here for 42 years; I’ve been back for about two years, now. We were both raised Jewish, but I have been a meditator since 1972 and a practicing Buddhist since 1996. We are both Caucasian women-born-women. We are considered “middle class” although we have almost zero dollars of “disposable income.” My mom is hetero; I am bisexual. We are both partly disabled. I am highly educated (doctoral degree plus other training); my mom has extensive work-experience, with a high school diploma.

My mom has been a TV watcher for over 60 years. I watched a lot as a kid, but from about 1972 – 2002, I didn’t have a TV and hardly watched it elsewhere, either. I usually didn’t have a TV between 2005 – 2014 as well, but I watched some shows online (Hulu, usually) or Netflix.

We think we should be part of a group that at least some producers are aiming to please, because we (especially Mom) now watch a lot of television. We also get movies regularly from DVD borrowing through our local library. We even occasionally go to a theatre to see a movie. We eagerly await the “new season” of television every one of the four times it seems to occur every year: “Fall Sweeps” happen, but so do Mid-season Sweeps, Mid-year New Seasons, and channels with an entirely different set of “seasons.”

We also occasionally watch TV shows and movies on Netflix!

However, we are consistently disappointed that many shows we do like are cancelled and some shows we despise seem to go on forever.

Again, for mid-October, 2016, I/we continue with this Report. Here are links and a grid for the schedule of Fall shows (as of 8/15/16):





We don’t watch: most “sit-coms,” any zombies or vampires, reality shows (except one on BBC), extremely violent shows, premium channels (HBO, Showtime, Starz), most YA/”teen” shows.

Fall TV + Netflix, 2016 – 2017
Our planned evening viewing line-up for shows (updated frequently) is as follows, sort of in calendar order, BUT, those I’ve already reviewed get “bumped” to the bottom of this post.
Scroll down if you don’t see a show “on top” that you want to read my review of (because they’re so insightful!).

NOTE: Our viewing “schedule” includes a lot of recording-and-watching-later, due to simultaneous broadcasts, CARDINALS‘ BASEBALL! and my early bedtime.

**usually only Mom watches
*usually only I watch

Weeks ending 9/30/16

*Black Mirror This British version of an updated Twilight Zone-ish series is very unsettling (I’ve only watched two episodes, but those were so disturbing I may not return any time soon). However, they are well-written, well-acted and “realistic,” as far as they can be while venturing into odd and futuristic territory. Recommended if you like bizarre, weird, unnerving and challenging. I know my mom won’t like it, so I watch when she’s not around.
I recognize some of the actors from other BBC series (Downton Abbey, Mr. Selfridge, New Tricks and others), so that is fun.
It’s now in its third season, so if you can stomach it, there are many episodes to watch!
May be continuing to watch

New seasons of Jessica Jones starts sometime in 2017… when? We like this show!

Longmire (9/23/16 returned; all uploaded and ready to watch)
Robert Taylor, Katee Sackoff, Lou Diamond Phillips
We LOVE this show and are so glad Netflix picked it up and continued it! Yea for Season 5! We’ll watch those Episodes when we run out of new shows to watch this year.

Grace & Frankie (on Netflix) Season 2 (returned May-June, 2016, and will again, 2017)
My mom and I enjoyed Season One and looked forward to Season Two a lot. We saw Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda on talk shows in the month prior and anticipated its return with glee.
Watched Episodes One, Two and Three, so far. Many laughs and poignant situations in One, but again, funnier/sillier rather than believable writing and more performing than acting by the four main characters. By Episode Three, we were looking at each other and shaking our heads and din’t go on to Episode 4.
Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston are still wooden and unbelievable and passionate lovers. Lily Tomlin is still performing a hippie character trope. Jane Fonda is the only one of the four who actually inhabits a realistic version of a character via acting.
Brooklyn Decker and June Diane Raphael are given, as Sheen’s and Fonda’s adult daughters, mostly comedy bits and one-liners to enact, but they are getting the sisterly relationship better this year. Baron Vaughn and Ethan Embry (Tomlin’s and Waterston’s adult sons) are not given even that much to do until Vaughn sits with Sheen’s recuperating character for a while and they have a few brief scenes together.
An impressive array of talented older actors parades through as dates for Lily or Jane and friends of any of the main four, including Episode Two’s Rita Moreno (completely wasted in this), but I have yet to see any of them be given anything interesting to do or show.
Most of the supporting characters are written as stereotypes of whatever group they are purported to belong to by ethnicity, age, job or other status, which is sloppy and lazy writing and disappointing for the talents of these actors. Ernie Hudson returns as Lily’s friend, Jacob, in two episodes; Sam Elliot comes back for Jane’s dating scene in two episodes; we get Swoosie Kurtz and Marsha Mason in Episode Five; Episode Six brings back Joe Morton and Mary Kay Place: I hope these great actors get to do more than mug, crack jokes and be cardboard cutouts.
This show could be SO MUCH BETTER! But, the writing trivializes what few actual issues there are, going for silly and getting sillier even though the topics are significant. For example,
—What kind of gay are the characters of Sol and Robert? They apparently haven’t discussed this, yet. Are they even the same kind as one another? Are they flamboyant “queens,” political/marchers in gay pride parades, attendees and singers at Broadway Bingo called by a Transvestite (or Transgender: the show didn’t even bother to make the distinction, or…?
—How do older or inexperienced entrepreneurs like Frankie avoid getting conned/fleeced by unscrupulous business people (even supposed “friends” and “family,” like Brianna [who now runs Grace’s company]) who make low-ball offers and confuse them with “net” and “gross” talk when they have a lucrative innovation, invention or product to market?
—How do women enduring medically risky pregnancies that require bed rest (in this case, Mallory, having twins, which is not automatically risky…) deal with the demands of their daily lives when they can’t afford to hire help?
—How do couples who based their entire relationship on infidelity deal with their infidelitous leanings? When Sol has sex with Frankie on the eve of marrying Robert, he is convinced not to tell Robert before marrying him because Robert has had a heart attack and needs open-heart surgery to survive. Frankie is also having trouble not telling Robert, who is her life-long friend. She, however, didn’t seem to have any trouble cheating with Sol on Robert….Where is the moral compass’ arrow pointing when no one seems to have any sense of “true North” except for Grace?
—How do senior citizens deal with relationships and sexual issues (vaginal dryness, erectile dysfunction, shyness/awkwardness (newly dating after being married for decades), lack of interest?
–How do/can addicts “make amends” when they’ve lied, stolen, destroyed property and relationships/trust for many years and still can’t be readily trusted?
—Do children ever “get over” sibling rivalry? Do in-laws ever get along? How do jealousy and competition and affect adult relationships?
—How could adults deal effectively and respectfully with children’s phobias and anxieties rather than patronizing or minimizing?

Wish the writers would tackle these and other issues head-on rather than with one-liners and sit-com scenarios. The actors would then actually have something to do and the viewers would probably be feeling that their time had been well-spent instead of wasted.
Will keep watching, but so far, disappointing.

NEW/RECENTLY or about to be seen on Cable and Network TV
for the fall of 2016 and beyond:
Timeless NBC 10/3/16
We really liked the pilot episode and look forward to more. The writing is strong, the characters are interesting, and the twists (due to time travel, of course, and junk science…) are fascinating. We also LOVE Abigail Spencer (Rectify, Suits). We are enjoying Matt Lanter (90210), Paterson Joseph (The Leftovers), and Malcolm Barrett (Better Off Ted), who are new to us. We also appreciate the returns of Goran Visnjic (ER) and Claudia Doumit (Scandal) from previous shows we like, and I’ve seen and liked Sakina Jaffrey (House of Cards).

Conviction ABC 10/3/16
Hayley Atwell (Marvel’s Agent Carter) is fabulous as the complicated, emotionally labile, former-First-Daughter, anti-heroine of this wonderful new show. Great writing, strong acting by Eddie Cahill (CSI: NY), Shawn Ashmore (The Following), Emily Kinney (The Walking Dead), Manny Montana (Graceland), Merrin Dungey (Alias, Once Upon a Time) with a unique and interesting premise. My mom and I like this very much.
Each episode presents a new case to review and it’s very Perry Mason-ish, in that the characters discover the incarcerated person was wrongly convicted and also find out who the right criminal is, all in 43 minutes. Happy-ish ending for the internal story and the ongoing stories of the main characters are unfolding interestly.

No Tomorrow CW (10/4/16)
This new dramedy “follows the blossoming relationship between Evie (Tori Anderson), a buttoned-up quality control assessor, and Xavier (Joshua Sasse), a charming (and hot) hipster who encourages her to seize the day—–because he believes the world is ending in a little more than eight months.” In the pilot, we don’t yet meet Jenna Dewan-Tatum, who “plays Tuesday, a bohemian free spirit whose polyamorous lifestyle leads Xavier and Evie to examine the boundaries of their own relationship.” Not sure why they need her and may not like that aspect.

We watched the Pilot and were mildly entertained and intrigued, but the characters are somewhat cartoonish and two-dimensional as are the situations, so we are skeptical. Maybe this show will find its footing and make up its mind whether it aspires to be a romantic comedy of higher quality or to stay more buffoonish. If the latter, we’re out.
Maybe Continuing, Maybe Not

Frequency CW 10/5/16
Peyton List(The Flash, The Tomorrow People) is great in the pilot and we are definitely continuing this one. However, there are many logical fallacies and sci-fi no-no’s, so we’re intrigued how they’re going to manage all that. Riley Smith (Nashville), Mekhi Phifer (ER), Lenny Jacobson (Nurse Jackie), Anthony Ruivivar (Banshee, American Horror Story), Devin Kelley (Resurrection), Daniel Bonjour (The Walking Dead) and others show up regularly, and we like some of them a lot.

The Dennis Quaid movie (of the same title and premises) was much briefer (of course), so we’re curious as to how the writers are going to drag this out over a series, especially when the “facts” seem to be moving targets across time. Is her mother going to stay dead or alive? What about her father? Does she or doesn’t she have an almost-fiancè? Who/what else “shifts” when “past” events change?
We are Staying Tuned.

AND, don’t forget to record HAMILTON on PBS this month: this is a special with interviews and clips from the show and others (including President Obama), all part of this presentation. Check your local public television station’s schedule.

Watch for these reviews after October 30:
MIDSEASON, which means after October 21, 2016, 2016, for us:
Pure Genius(formerly Bunker Hill) CBS (10/27/16)
Augustus Prew (The Borgias), Dermot Mulroney (Shameless), Odette Annable (The Astronaut Wives Club), Brenda Song (Scandal, Dads), Reshma Shetty (Royals Pains), Ward Horton (One Life to Live), Aaron Jennings

People of Earth TBS (10/31/16)
Wyatt Cenac investigates people who encounter aliens: How fun!

Good Behavior TNT 11/15/16

Good Behavior TNT

Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) stars in this new series based on the Blake Crouch stories surrounding Letty Dobesh (an American ex-con con artist), “in a near future where corporations have unlimited power.” You mean, like, NOW?

Incorporated SyFy (11/30/16)
Stars Sean Teale, Allison Miller, Eddie Ramos. |

**Chicago Justice NBC (Midseason)
Shaky choices for casting, here: Philip Winchester (The Player), Carl Weathers (Rocky), Joelle Carter (Justified), Nazneen Contractor (Heroes Reborn), Ryan-James Hatanaka

*Making History Fox (Midseason)
Adam Pally (The Mindy Project), Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl), Yassir Lester (The Carmichael Show)

*Doubt CBS (Midseason)
Katherine Heigl (Grey’s Anatomy), Steven Pasquale (Rescue Me), Laverne Cox (Orange Is the New Black), Dulé Hill (Psych), Dreama Walker (Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23), Elliott Gould (Ray Donovan), Kobi Libii (Alpha House)

Great News NBC (Midseason)
Briga Heelan (Undateable), Andrea Martin (Difficult People), Adam Campbell (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Mixology), Kimrie Lewis-Davis (Scandal), Nicole Richie (Chuck), John Michael Higgins (Wilfred), Horatio Sanz (SNL)
Probably too silly…

Emerald City NBC (Midseason)
Probably too violent for us.

*Time after Time ABC (Midseason)
Freddie Stroma (UnREAL), Josh Bowman (Revenge), Regina Taylor (Dig, The Unit), Genesis Rodriguez (Entourage), Nicole Ari Parker (Soul Food), recurring player, Jordin Sparks (American Idol)

*Imaginary Mary ABC (Midseason)
Jenna Elfman (Dharma & Greg, Growing Up Fisher), Stephen Schneider (You’re the Worst), Nicholas Coombe (iZombie), Matreya Scarrwener (Canada’s Detective McLean: Ties That Bind), Jillian Bell (Eastbound & Down), Erica Tremblay and the voice of SNL vet Rachel Dratch

Watch for these reviews after February, 2017:
SPRING, 2017
*Shots Fired Fox (Spring, 2017)
Sanaa Lathan (Love & Basketball), Helen Hunt (Mad About You), Richard Dreyfuss (Madoff), Stephen Moyer (True Blood), Stephan James (Selma), Aisha Hinds (Under the Dome), Tristan Wilds (90210), DeWanda Wise

**The Blacklist: Redemption NBC (Midseason or 2017?)
Ryan Eggold, Edi Gathegi, Famke Janssen |

May have been cancelled before airing:
Miranda’s Rights NBC (on or off?)
Monique Coleman, Noel Fisher, Daniel Boileau, Rebecca Breeds

Broken ABC (from BBC) (on or off?)
with Sean Bean in lead role.

Previously Reviewed NEW shows:
The Good Place NBC 9/22/16
Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars), Ted Danson (CSI: Cyber), Manny Jacinto (The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story), William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, D’Arcy Carden
Probably too silly, but…I do love Kristen Bell!
We watched the first two Episodes, since they were aired back-to-back. Reminded me very much of Pushing Daisies in its production values (lots of bright, primary colors and over-the-top fakery) and premises/characters (bold, farcical, sterotypical), with some of many other films/TV shows (Dead Like Me, Defending Your Life) that are quirky and about the afterlife/death. It was somewhat entertaining and amusing, but I think it will get old fast. Doubt if it will be renewed since it is basically a one-joke show.
May watch until it’s cancelled.

This is Us NBC 9/20/16
Mandy Moore (Red Band Society), Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes and Gilmore Girls), Justin Hartley (Revenge), Sterling K. Brown (The People v. O.J. Simpson), Chrissy Metz (American Horror Story), Susan Kelechi Watson (Louie), Chris Sullivan (The Knick), Ron Cephas Jones (Mr. Robot)
We were very surprised by the quality of the acting, story’s twists and turns and unexpected pathos in the first Episode and look forward to more.


Milo Ventimiglia was amazing and so was Sterling K. Brown (from my home town, Olivette, in St. Louis County, Missouri, USA!), in very emotionally demanding roles. Always like Mandy Moore, and were pleased with two new actors for us, Chrissy Metz and Susan Kelechi Watson. Alan Thicke had a funny cameo and we loved Justin Hartley’s scenes as well. Even liked the ubiquitous Gerald McRaney in a key role in the pilot, especially his scene with Milo. Great writing and acting, here.
KEEPING, and it was picked up for full season 1

Bull CBS 9/20/16
Great cast: Michael Weatherly (NCIS), Freddy Rodriguez (The Night Shift), Geneva Carr (Law & Order: SVU), Christopher Jackson (Broadway’s Hamilton), Jaime Lee Kirchner (Mercy), Annabelle Attanasio
Kind of liked the first Episode, but it was very complicated and convoluted, and with surprisingly little dialogue from Michael Weatherly, even though he is the star and a pivotal character (and the main draw, for us, as long-time NCIS fans). Very good writing and acting all around, but the premise may get old and I doubt if they can sustain the surprise mode in each Episode. Lie to Me did some of this much better, anyway. We’ll see.
Keeping, but probably won’t last.

Notorious ABC 9/22/16
Daniel Sunjata (Graceland), Piper Perabo (Covert Affairs), Aimee Teegarden (Friday Night Lights), J. August Richards (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Ryan Guzman (Heroes Reborn), Kevin Zegers (Gracepoint), Kate Jennings Grant (Alpha House), Sepideh Moafi (Black Box)
We watched this cautiously but got drawn in right away by Piper Perabo (whom we both loved in Covert Affairs) and Daniel Sunjata as well as others.
Why the storylines all happen in LA for a national show and why Sunjata’s character is always the attorney of record remain to be explained.

Pitch Fox 9/22/16
Kylie Bunbury (Twisted), Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Franklin & Bash), Ali Larter (Legends, Heroes), Mark Consuelos (Kingdom, Alpha House), Mo McRae (Murder in the First, Sons of Anarchy), Meagan Holder (Ringer), Tim Jo (The Neighbors), Dan Lauria (The Wonder Years), recurring guest star Bob Balaban (The Good Wife)
We really enjoyed Episode 1 and plan to keep watching, especially since it is looking dim for the Cardinals even to be in the Wild Card slot for the pennant and series this year! Kylie Bunbury is excellent in the lead role and so is Ali Larter as her agent/personal support person. There is BIG surprise near/at the end which I won’t spoil, here, but I will say that it will make the series more interesting and poignant, both.
Some of the other characters are a bit 2-D, but the plot isn’t clichèd at all and a few characters are well-drawn. We look forward to seeing how the writers unfold the stories.

**MacGyver CBS 9/23/16
Lucas Till (X-Men), George Eads (CSI), Justin Hires (Rush Hour), Sandrine Holt (House of Cards), Tristin Mays (The Vampire Diaries)
We aren’t even going to bother with this. A friend watched the pilot and said it was horrible, with the majority of the time spent blowing things up.

*Falling Water USA 9/21/16


David Ajala, Lizzie Brocheré, Will Yun Lee, Anna Wood and Francesca Faridany star in this season’s mixed-up, excessively confusing pilot with poor production values (dark/difficult to see and difficult to hear the dialogue), with Michael O’Keefe and Jessica Hecht in this Episode, only. I watched this alone and I told my mom not to bother: she’d hate it. They can’t stick to a timeline, can’t stick to whether a scene is a dream or actually occurring, can’t stay with one character’s storyline, and can’t seem to decide what this show is even about (besides overlapping water metaphors and dream images/events).
Didn’t even watch Episode 2: OFF OUR LIST

Designated Survivor ABC
Strong start to a very scary and realistically drawn scenario in which everyone at the State of the Union address is murdered by a bombing of the Capitol’s Congressional Assembly building (where it is always held) and only one Cabinet member (the “Designated Survivor”) remains and is now made the President. Kiefer Sutherland and Natascha McElhone are excellent as the HUD Secretary and his attorney wife, with creative and poignant scenes between them, their children, and others as everyone grapples with this tremendous tragedy and changes wrought by it.


Great to see Kal Penn (the only actor with actual White House experience IRL!), Maggie Q and Italia Ricci in supporting roles.
KEEPING and it was picked up for full season 1

Aftermath SyFy (9/27/16)
This new series only has 13 episodes (for now) and it “focuses on the Copelands –– Karen (Anne Heche) and Joshua (James Tupper) and their children –– who battle for survival after civilization comes to an apocalyptic end. They’re faced with both plague and the rise of supernatural creatures.” Even these two good actors can’t save this cheesy apocalyptic cliched trope of a show. I couldn’t even finish one episode.

RETURNING SHOWS, NOT Previously Reviewed and Updated for 2016-17, until this installment of my blog
Elementary CBS (10/2/16 return)
We both like this show a lot even though it’s very difficult for us to understand some of the dialogue or to understand Sherlock because of the show’s poor audio quality and his rapid-fire speech in a British accent.
Great to see Lucy Liu, Johnny Lee Miller, John Michael Hill and Aidan Quinn back again.
We liked the Season opener for 2016.

Madam Secretary CBS (10/2/16 return)
GREAT SHOW! But how can it keep its title if she’s now VP? After the pilot, we’re not sure how they’re going to dig out of it, but we’re staying hooked! LOVE Tea Leoni and Tim Daly, and the “kids” are still great as are the others.


Scorpion CBS (10/3/16 return)
Could be that this show, like so many, is becoming a bit too formulaic, a caricature of itself. This season’s Episodes had a few too many “Oh, one of the bizarre genius’ amazing ideas, number four, didn’t work, so we’re going to die” moments.
Why does Katherine McPhee almost never sing in this show? She has a spectacular voice. What a waste.
Watched all Episodes. Started putting a quarter in for every crisis. Topped out at $3.00 for one Episode!
BUT the double-Episode season Opener for 2016 broke the bank! While we weren’t laughing so much as frightened (VERY realistic…) and disgusted (why do the writers make most of the team behave like rotten middle-schoolers?), we will keep it on our list.
Predictable but interesting. Good for laughs.

Supergirl (10/10/16 returns, but now on CW)
Maybe they’ll allow her to become an adult this year…?
Well, sort of. Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) and her boss, Cat (written and played better this year by Calista Flockhart), have some important conversations about her growing up, choosing a career path (as Kara), and being more decisive in the opening episode for this season.

However, bringing in her “younger” cousin, Superman (why is he a “man” but she is a “girl,” DC???), and his announcing he’s going to “stick around for a while” muddies the maturity and “who’s in charge?” waters immensely. Then, the writers go and put her incipient romance with Jimmy (Mehcad Brooks) who is inexplicably “James” in this version of the story, so why can’t she be “Superwoman,” then?) on hold, indefinitely.
Cautiously keeping, but already disappointed

Bones Fox (after Baseball’s World Series, October, 2016?)
Glad they didn’t keep Hodges so crabby.

On Mom’s list, only, and she’s keeping them:
**Hawaii 5-0 CBS
Mom is keeping this on her list for sure.

**Chicago P.D. NBC
Mom is keeping this on her list for sure.

**NCIS Los Angeles CBS (10/2/16 return)
Mom is keeping this on her list for sure.

**Law and Order—SVU NBC
Mom is keeping this on her list for sure.

**Criminal Minds NBC (9/28/16 returns, but with Paget Brewster‘s returning and without longtime star, Thomas Gibson, whose bad temper got him fired!)
Mom is keeping this on her list for sure.

**Chicago Fire NBC (10/9/16 return)
Mom continues to love this. One of my CHANGES conversations between authors‘ guests, poet performer, James Gordon, has recurring minor roles on this and Chicago PD!)
Stays on Mom’s list

RETURNING SHOWS, Previously Reviewed and Updated
*Halt & Catch Fire AMC (returned 8/23/16 and season ended in early October, 2016)
I love this show because I lived through and participated in much of this history of the personal computer. I also know/knew people like some of the characters in these episodes. The writers have taken an unexpectedly feminist slant to the story in Season 2 and continue it in Season 3. Lee Pace plays a narcissistic meglomaniac very convincingly and the other leads are equally strong. Fun and kind of eerie to watch such recent history so thinly fictionalized.

Halt and Catch Fire

Lee Pace, Scoot McNairy, Mackenzie Davis, Kerry Bishé, Toby Huss, Aleksa Palladino.
KEEPING, but next year is its last season: ENDING in 2017

*Modern Family ABC (returned 9/21/16)
This season will include guest appearances by Nathan Fillion (LOVE him) and Martin Short (could do without him). Most of last season was tedious, so I may not watch much of this one; my mom doesn’t watch at all. We’ll see. I thought it had lost its sparkle and originality; storylines were repeating.
Also, the child acting as “Lily” (Aubrey Frances Anderson-Emmons) is AWFUL and very badly directed. Too bad. Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vergara, Rico Rodriguez, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Sarah Hyland, Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould, and Reid Ewing co-star.
Watched pilot for fall, 2016, and it was as bad as expected. Probably off my list.

Blindspot (9/14/16 return, with Archie Panjabi!)
Got very confusing, very dark, and now, completely off the rails (killing off two main characters). Why?
Watched first episode of Season 2. Still not sure if I want to watch this. Too dark. I’ll give it one more.
Still watching, but under duress

Rosewood (9/22/16 returned)
Refreshingly NOT CAUCASIAN, not all heterosexual (but not “camp,” either), not too serious version of “non-cop with special abilities working with police” dramedy. Morris Chestnut as “Rosie” and Jaina Lee Ortiz as Annalise Villa give surprisingly nuanced performances week after week, with strong writing to back them up, usually.
Strange casting for Anthony Michael Hall as a grumpy detective, but great to see him, again. Liking Lorraine Toussaint in her somewhat minor but obviously recurring role. Liking Rosie and his sister, Pippy Gabrielle Dennis, and their banter a lot.
Strong and NOT SCREWED UP lesbian relationships on prime time TV?!? Unprecedented! But, then, UPDATE at end of Season One: writers have gone off the rails with the unwarranted break-up of Pippy (Gabrielle Dennis) and Tara (Anna Konkle) and with their depiction of Annalise’s reaction to Rosie’s news about her husband’s murder.


Last season, we wondered: why do Villa’s Captain (Dominick Lombardozzi) and her mother (written and played very stereotypically by Lisa Vidal) have to get involved?
WTF? Ridiculous reactions and stupid situations result, starting with the unnecessary introduction of a recurring character, Mitchie Mendelson (vaguely anti-Semitic), brought in to “help” Rosie, written poorly, played by Sam Huntington.
Season Two was not looking good.
However, fall, 2016, had a strong start, with the addition of Tara’s singing, Villa and Rosie’s working together pushing through the bumps, Pippy’s bonding with Ms. Rosewood (mom of Rosie), and the new Captain, played strangely but well by Eddie Cibrian, and a good set of stories.

Quantico (9/25/16 returned)
My mom and I liked Quantico for the first half or so. Then, it devolved, as so many do, into chases and violence and not much (else?) to commend it.
The premise was supposed to be that this is a show about a new cohort of recruits at the FBI federal training academy (Quantico) in the USA. Why didn’t they stick with that? Why did they think they needed a terrorist bombing/ “moles”/ multiple deceptions-based plot?
We know it’s an FBI show and we did expect some of the above. But, really, when more than a few minutes of every show is devoted to pursuit chases and macho posturing/inappropriate blame and shaming, we look at each other and say: “Not enough plot, eh?”
UPDATE in November: going back in forth in time from the cadets to the present is a good idea but not done well at all. Relying too much on different hairdos for the female characters and who’s having sex with whom to anchor the timeline (who cares?). Still watching, but not sure why.
Watched the entire year but hated the poor visibility and convoluted storylines


*Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (2/8/16 premiere; early September, 2016, returned but has re-runs sprinkled in…)
I loved Samantha Bee on The Daily Show and awaited her new individual show with great anticipation. I was not disappointed.

Bee was funny, insightful, appropriately outraged and very bold, extremely feminist and “in-your-face,” but since I agree with her POV, this all worked great, for me. I laughed out loud and sighed with relief at many of her “bits.”

Finally: a feminist’s POV delivered with wit and humor about this horrible election season! Yeah! And, more coming, I’m sure.

Full Frontal

Strong return for Season 2, but I AM SO SICK OF TRUMP!
Definitely keeping!

NCIS New Orleans CBS (9/20/16 returned)
Good start to the new season last year (2015). Still liking this, especially Scott Bakula‘s character. Like the new character played by Shalita Grant (female, African-American, kind of snarky and good at her job).

Shalita Grant
Shalita Grant, on her own Instagram account.

Season 3 was off to a bang, but very sad to lose Zoe McLellan as Meredith Brody (and so was everyone else on the show, apparently). As of this posting, she’s not telling anyone, yet, as to why she left the show, but it was her decision.

**Grey’s Anatomy ABC (9/22/16 returned)
I am a long-time fan of this show, especially, Ellen Pompeo
Love the anti-homophobia storylines and the actions/discussions the show inspires, especially for parents of LGBT kids and for everyone about bullying. Excellent PSAs built right into the show.
Very strong return for season 11 (!?!), and I’m looking forward to more of this show this year, even though some key characters keep leaving/being asked to leave (no spoilers, here).

How to Get Away with Murder ABC (9/22/16 returned)
Glad Viola Davis won the Emmy. She deserved it. Good acting by her and many on this show is not enough to save it, though.
The writers of this show are a weird bunch, for sure.
The production values are so bad and the timeline jumping done so poorly that we have no idea what’s going on most of the time. Filming is too dark and cuts are too quick. Dialogue is not loud enough.
New season’s starter was no better than last season’s ending: violent, confusing, oddly written and strange all around.
Too dark without much to redeem it. Somehow, though, we keep watching.

Blue Bloods CBS (9/23/16 returned)
My mom LOVES this show and watches re-runs for fun, mostly because she loves Tom Selleck as the family patriarch and Chief of Police. I watch it, but don’t love it.

Blue Bloods

Excellent return, even if we didn’t like the storylines, much. Great acting and we love the characters.

NCIS CBS (9/20/16 returned)
Definitely missing Michael Weatherby for 2016-17, and don’t know if the trio (now duo) of actors they plan to “replace” him with are going to cut it. I already don’t like one of them. We’ll see.

**Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. FOX (9/20/16 returned)
Got very dark and too violent. I’m done with this as of opener for Season, 2016. Couldn’t even watch more than the first ten minutes. Confusing, too violent, inexplicably written, sexist and demeaningly filmed.
Not liking it much any more, so only Mom is watching, now.

**The Blacklist NBC (9/22/16 returned)
Glad Lizzie isn’t dead, but this show is off the rails for real. We watched opener for new season and I hated it; Mom liked it slightly more. I probably won’t keep watching. Too violent and confusing.
Keeping, for Mom.

Saving Hope (ION, from CTV) (Season 4 and series ended in 2016, but Season 5 replays started in early October)
I used to watch this show online and then “lost” it after Season 2. So glad I found it again! It’s a medical drama with a twist (Dr. Charlie Harris sees and talks with the spirits of dead and comatose/anesthetized people), with all the Grey’s Anatomy soap opera romances and medical procedures. I seem to like these types of shows a lot, and this one is especially good because of the paranormal aspect.
Starring Erica Torrance and Michael Shanks (he’s the one with the visions) and a great supporting/otherwise starring cast make this fun to watch.
Fascinating looks into being an intern and having to choose a “specialty; lesbian/bisexuality in the context of Orthodox Jews; when to “pull the plug” and how one would know (clues embedded into Broadway show tunes, once); organ donating; problem pregnancies; medical heroism; divorce, dating, (in)fidelity and amnesia (twice; you have to watch); and parent-adult child issues.
Keeping until I catch up

LATER RETURNS (after October 21. 2016), so not yet reviewed, again, in 2016-17:
The Librarians TNT (11/20/16 return)
Fun and satisfying.
Excellent special effects and well-drawn characters, even the villains.
Don’t quite believe the romance between Noah Wylie‘s nerdy scholar and Elizabeth Romijin‘s former Secret Service ninja (Noah wishes…), but it’s all light and fun.
Miss Bob Newhart and Jane Curtain; John Larroquette just doesn’t have what they have.
John Harlan Kim, Lindy Booth, and Christian Kane round out the “regulars.”

image from http://www.tvline.com

Good show.

*The Americans TNT (Spring, 2017, return)
I like this show, but the content is quite disturbing, for sure. The morality, ethics, honesty and deception issues are quite seriously depicted, there is a lot of violence (which I don’t like), and people are very screwed up, on all sides. Multiple complexities and grey areas are not shied away from, and they include many key events/issues from the USA’s 1980s: bravo to the writers, actors, director, fact-checkers/researchers!
I hate to read subtitles, but having the Russians speak Russian adds verisimilitude, for sure.
Both Matt Rhys (Phillip) and Keri Russell (Elizabeth) give nuanced, fascinating performances, especially when interacting with their now-“read-in” daughter, adolescent Paige (played admirably by Holly Taylor).
Remarkable performances also by the great Frank Langella, with key moments played by Callie Thorne, Noah Emmerich, Annet Mahendru, Lev Gorn make/made this a show well-worth watching. So do Keri Russell‘s and Matthew Rhys‘ real-life romance and child together!
Frank Langella gave such a moving speech when he won a Tony (June, 2016) for best actor, referencing Orlando and gay rights, support for diversity and for all, etc., that it gives me a new perspective on him for his role in this show.
Cringing, but keeping

Orphan Black BBC (Spring, 2017, return)
Cool return.
Tatiana Maslany is amazing. She deserves every acting award, ever.
If you haven’t seen this show and love great acting, tune in (but it does get quite gruesome and violent, sometimes; I close my eyes). Got Mom into it kind of late, but she likes it. Tatiana really is fascinating.

Orphan Black 2

Colony (returns in Spring, 2017)
We were very confused and a bit impatient with the way this series’ pilot throws viewers into the middle of an alternate Earth near-future without sufficient explanations. However, we kept watching and did enjoy the pilot, despite our bewilderment.

We liked seeing Josh Holloway, since we liked him so much in the all-too-soon-cancelled Intelligence, and Amanda Righetti, from The Mentalist, which we loved.


But, we never watched Lost, The Walking Dead or Hercules, so the others are new to us, except for Peter Jacobsen, from House and Madam Secretary, and Paul Guilfoyle, from CSI.

Luckily, I had taped the “Colony: Behind the Wall” show, which we watched after we saw the pilot. That was excellent, because it explained a LOT. We also got to see how and why they established some of the special effects and sets for this series. We are now looking forward to seeing the subsequent episodes.

Without giving away too much. we appreciated the parallels the producers/creators are deliberately creating between Nazi-occupied Paris and a hypothetically occupied Los Angeles, asking us all (and all the characters are also asking themselves and each other): what would you do? Would you be a collaborator or a resister? Are you a pragmatist/selfish/greedy “winner,” or are you trying to keep going with “normal” life while wresting control from the occupiers and collaborators as you do? What lengths would you go to and what risks would you be willing to take under these circumstances?

Excellent questions and cool concepts.

You can to the series’ website and choose your side and see what you get into there! http://www.colonytv.com/
Keeping this one.

*The Magicians (new to me, Season 2; season 3 returns Spring, 2017, probably)
Don’t know how I missed this last year, but catching up, now, and liking it enough to keep going. Kind of trite, but interesting. Liking Anna Dudek in the headmistress role.
Keeping, for now

*Being Mary Jane BET (returns Spring, 2017)
Excellent writing, sensitive topics [alcoholism, child abuse/molestation, suicide, disfigurement/physical “beauty”/ageism for women (particularly Black women), extortion, drug addiction, dysfunctional parenting, loyalty among friends (or not)], all very well-handled. Great music choices, also.

Being Mary Jane

Mary Jane’s character (played even better, now, by Gabrielle Union) is getting some chutzpah (FINALLY) and growing up (ALSO OVERDUE). Supporting characters (Lisa Vidal, Margaret Avery, Stephen Bishop, Richard Roundtree, Raven Goodwin) are getting more to do, which is great.
Glad to see Loretta Devine on this show, even though her character is so delightfully SCUMMY.

Sherlock BBC (Season 5 returns Spring, 2017, for 3 more episodes; re-runs in October, 2016, so catch up!)
Yippee! Yahoo! Best BBC return-to-season EVER! Fabulous reunions and loved the Season 4 “premise” (No spoilers, here). How great is Benedict Cumberbatch? And, Martin Freeman!
Also, great mystery to be solved.
Not liking the addiction story line in this or Elementary‘s Sherlock (or any show, for that matter), but I guess it is part of the Sherlock character.

*The Catch (return Spring, 2017?)
Watched both of the first two episodes and are hooked by the twists and intrigue. Mireille Enos (who bears an uncanny resemblance in voice, appearance and style to Ellen Pompeo of Grey’s Anatomy; guess producer/creator Shonda Rhymes has a “type”!), Peter Krause (a very different role from the geeky dad/husband in Parenthood!), Alimi Ballard (loved him in Numb3rs), Jay Hayden, who is unfamiliar to me as are Rose Rollins, Jacky Ido and Elvy Yost, comprise a strong cast.

The Catch

Good to see Sonya Walger in another eveil beauty role: she’s so good in these!

Stitchers FreeForm (return Spring, 2017)
My mom and I found Stitchers in the spring of 2015. Because it’s on ABC-Family, now FreeForm, all the violence is low-key and mostly off-camera (yeah!), while the characters and plot are much better than on “adult” stations.
Devolves a bit too often into soap opera, with too much post-adolescent angst and horrible choices made by the youngish cast of characters, but interesting.
Take a hint, “adult” stations: this is what TV should be like!
Keeping and RENEWED

Scandal ABC (Midseason return, 2016-17)
Please explain to us why the obviously psychotic and possibly amnesiac ex-Vice-President, Sally, gets to mouth off as if she is occupying some moral high ground when she murdered her own husband? Did everyone else forget that, too?
Plan to keep watching, but where is this going?

Definite keeper.

Nashville (now on CMT) (1/5/17 returns)
Connie Britton, Hayden Panettiere

*When Calls the Heart Hallmark (returns Spring, 2017)
Erin Krakow is great as the lead character, Elizabeth Thatcher, a rich young woman who leaves her safe, city family life to become a Canadian prairie teacher in a one-room school house, with an adorable Daniel Lessing as her Canadian Mountie/ love interest. Yes; hers is one of my alternate reality jobs.

When calls the heart

Lori Loughlin is cast as her typically maternal and saccharine character but she does play the best friend/ cafe owner/ widow/ adoptive mother/ landlady well. Other characters are also “stock” and mostly two-dimensional, but I blame the Hallmark Channel’s writers (Janette Oke and Derek Thompson, most recently, but there are 18!) more than I fault the actors. Also has Cat Montgomery, played well by Chelah Horsdal.

Humans (scheduled for late in 2016, UK; February, 2017, in the USA) AMC
Gemma Chan, Katherine Parkinson, Lucy Carless

SUMMER RETURNS, 2017, probably:
Chesapeake Shores Hallmark Season One ended October, 2016
Meghan Ory, Jesse Metcalfe, Barbara Niven, Treat Williams

Chesapeake Shores

Is not quite as insipid and unwatchable as some of the other shows on this channel, so we’re trying it. First episode was all right. The Hallmark movies’ and series’ writers make everything so predictable, though, and the writing is so heavy-handed.
We like all the lead actors, so KEEPING, for now.

The Match Game ABC (started summer, 2016)
My mom and I are old enough to have watched the original version of this game show and since we liked some of the principles and the promised celebrities, we gave it a try. We watched two entire episodes, which consisted of 4 segments (both segments have the same celebrities but two new contestants for each of of the two segments in each hour-long show). Rosie O’Donnell (who seems to be having a great time and is the contestants’ favorite, so far) and one or two others were on all four segments; the rest rotated. My mom and I were only familiar with 3 or 4 of the 6 celebrities, plus the show’s host, Alec Baldwin, each time.

We aren’t prudish (I especially am not, being a hippie and all), but we were shocked at how lewd, graphic and sexually focused the clues, responses, jokes and reactions were. A lot of the bits are improvised (supposedly), but none of their remarks was censored (self- or network-) or even attempted to be made more family-oriented.

I expressed my surprise at its bold raunchiness and my mom replied: “Well, it is on at 9 PM Central time…,” shaking her head.

So, fair warning. Some of it was funny, most of it was silly, and it’s all in “good” fun (if you’re into that base type of humor).
Probably keep watching, but totally ridiculous.

The Great British Baking Show PBS (7/2016 returned; September, 2016, started “Master Class” episodes)
Somehow our recording system missed the first show, so we are catching up later. (Catching up during “Master Class episodes!). Meanwhile, we enjoyed the second Episode, “Biscuits,” even though I was slightly disappointed. I had been hoping to learn how to make American “biscuits,” but the British use that word for “cookies,” even for “savory” ones.

Still fascinating for my mom and me, who are NOT bakers, since a lot is explained both for how to create good and how the mistakes are made for bad “bakes.” Everything can go wrong, especially during the “Technical” bakes, whose recipes are extrapolated from very skimpy instructions (deliberately vague) from one of the two judges each week. Disasters occur from bakers’ forgetting to turn on or check the oven temperature, to mistakenly using salt instead of sugar, to neglecting to allow enough time to accomplish it all, to using ingredients/proportions of ingredients that are too weakly or strongly flavored or getting the dough too wet. “Crisp” and having a “good bake” are big on this show.

We like the artists’ renditions in sketch books of each participant’s planned creation for the final segment each week, the contestants’ “Show-Stoppers.” They obviously have weeks to concoct and practice prior to the contest date, and it shows.

What we also like are the camaraderie among the announcers and judges and how respectful the judges are to each contestant and they to one another. None of that “reality show” staged back-biting and fighting here (if there were, we’d turn it off). They give a bit of bio and film scenes at their homes and/or day jobs for each of the semi-finalists and finalists, which we look forward to seeing.
Keeping and highly recommended, if you like cooking shows.

It’s on again with new contestants and it’s excellent! This is only reality show we watch because the baking concoctions and watching the bakers create them are fascinating, always unusual and new to us, informationally. Many funny moments, but not at any baker’s expense, usually, which we like.
Plus, none of the competitors is actually a professional baker: a student; one makes satellites; a retired teacher; one also paints. So interesting that these individuals chose to compete in this way.
RECOMMENDED HIGHLY. Wish we could taste the entries!

The Night Shift NBC (6/1/16 return)
Yet another medical drama, but this one is set in Texas, which is unusual and inspired the casting directors to include many more Latina/o and African-American actors to play key roles. That is excellent (most other dramas are very Anglo/a).
Starring Eoin Macken, Jill Flint (loved her in Royal Pains and The Good Wife), Ken Leung, Brendan Fehr (been watching him since Roswell, into Bones, and now, here), Freddy Rodriguez, Scott Wolf (recently from Perception), Robert Bailey, Jr., J.R. Lemon and now, Tanaya Beatty.

The Night Shift

Similar soap opera romances, intern/resident issues, family dramas and interpersonal issues, but adding in the wars the USA is engaged in (several Vets and Rangers among the medical staff, some who are re-deployed), addiction/recovery, pregnancy and fidelity issues abound.
My mom actually started watching this one with me 2016, summer.

Major Crimes TNT (July, 2016, return)
Excellent show. It’s back again 2016, summer, strong as ever.
However, we find the “romance” between Captain Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell) and Lt. Andy Flynn (Tony Denison), to be completely unbelievable. No chemistry at all!
With Michael Paul Chan, G.W. Bailey, Raymond Cruz, Graham Patrick Martin, Robert Gossett, Phillip P. Keene, Jon Tenney and many others from its predecessor, The Closer, which we loved.

Suits USA (July, 2016 return)
Michael (played well by Patrick J. Adams), is going to prison? Rachel, played well by Meghan Markle (but still dressed inappropriately vampy), is often too whiny, juvenile and ridiculous (and repetitive).
Sarah Rafferty as the impossibly perfect Donna and Gabriel Macht as the complicated Harvey still have the greatest tension (and are decades-long friends, which shows) and lines but not much to do.
Gina Torres as Jessica still wears too much white and is also too vampy in her costuming but is righteously angry and protective, both. Louis is still the most richly drawn and has the most fun stuff to do, and all done very well by Rick Hoffman.
Best unexpected gift acting as Donna’s alternate assistant to either Harvey or Louis is enlivened by Aloma Wright, who is funny, strong and interesting all the time. Also glad to see D.B. Woodside back as Jeff: he’s FIERCE! Appearances by other former characters give the season the feeling of “ending” as well, so we’re happy to enjoy Shelia Sazs, Stephen Macht (yes, Gabriel’s IRL father), Abigail Spencer and others’ returns, even if only for a few minutes.

Not a fan of prison stories or settings, my mom and I are not sure we’ll keep watching this season’s SUITS disaster. We usually like this show, but Rachel (Meghan Markle) is now almost always crying or whining, and the over-the-top machismo exhibited by all the other main male characters is ridiculous.

They have painted themselves into a horrible corner, putting their lead character, Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) in jail and bankrupting the law firm. They also make Mike a complete idiot, falling for obvious scams and ruses on his first days in the Big House. He’s supposed to be a genius, though?
Disappointed and may not keep watching.

#justyournumber and #wherewhatwhowhen

It is with great sadness and anger that I have heard about (and read a few of) the disgusting responses on social media. These remarks have been cruelly and ignorantly denigrating and re-traumatizing sexual assault survivors.

from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDLVDzaw2vc

I noticed that whatever details a survivor provided, some creeps decided to question, argue, judge or condemn, doubting and despising her for reporting her experiences.


from http://Canstockphoto.com

Is anyone unclear on this concept? Really?

from Human Response Network

Give them nothing to respond to except a number, I say. Then, where is the argument?

#justyournumber (mine is a countable 46, but decidedly higher) allows survivors to report our sexual assaults, molestations, public exposures, sexual coercions, rapes, and any other kinds of private or public sexual threats, to be counted. No arguing.

Then, I thought, what about locations or one or two salient facts? Let’s provide those lucky enough to have no or low numbers or anyone else who is interested with some context. We need more people to begin to grasp the breadth of the problem.

By the way, when you read my or anyone’s list, imagine trying to “report” these incidents: to whom? with what results?

#justyournumbers is now joined by #wherewhatwhowhen

—30+ assaults by “family friends,” teachers and family members, starting at age 5, including a step-uncle who was a teacher. This man assaulted me (at age 10) in his classroom after school while my grandmother and his father (her second husband) were talking in the hallway outside the classroom. Our 6th-grade teacher, Ken Weber (long dead), at Central School in Olivette, Missouri, molested almost every girl in my class whose breasts had begun to develop by “dropping” paper clips, chalk or pencils down the fronts of our blouses and retrieving them with his own hand. As a freshman at the University of Wisconsin/Madison, all the female students were required to strip down to our underwear and pose for “posture pictures” during our Physical Education “exam.” I later found out that these questionably obtained “soft porn” shots were circulated, sold and posted in multiple locations for many decades;

—3 assaults on a bus (2 public exposures and 1 molestation), all while in my pre-teen/teen years. One very large young adult who was one of my “campers” had Down’s Syndrome. When he molested me by trapping me in the aisle of the bus (he was 6′ tall and about 225 pounds to my 5’1″ and 120 pounds) and mashing his hands all over my breasts, the older counselor told me “he couldn’t help it” and not to yell at him, but just to “push him away and go sit down.” This was in 1972 in St. Louis, Missouri;

—2 assaults/maulings while walking in daylight in public spaces on a college campus. One was a teen on a bicycle who grabbed my breast, squeezed hard, laughed and rode away; I was in my 30s. I DID go to the “campus police” who practically laughed and didn’t even write down my report. This was at Yale University in the 1980s (I was there attending a professional conference).

—3 molestations/assaults by employers/supervisors, starting in college and continuing through my young adult years. While working in Food Service in the dorms’ cafeteria as part of my Work-Study financial aid program at the University of Wisconsin/Madison in 1972, a supervisor trapped me in the storage area, assaulted and tried to rape me. I managed to kick him in the groin and get away. I never went back to that job and had to find another one;

—3 sexual coercions involving drugs in private homes at parties, by high school peers;

—5 sexual assaults by “dates” (whom I did not date again) who grabbed/fingered me without asking before I even knew they were going to do that, starting in my early twenties and spanning into my late 50s, in cars, private homes, an outdoor party, a beach.

There were also uncountable male psychopaths, strangers who felt entitled to engage in assaults on my body via random ass-grabbing, “accidental brush-bys” and other groping and sexual attacks, including making kissing or sucking sounds, while I rode on public transportation vehicles or stood in waiting areas and hallways in various USA cities, throughout my teen and young adult years.

Some jerks repeatedly yell out horrible, horrendous street harassment comments, known unaffectionately as “cat-calls,” most accompanied by graphic gestures, pseudo-sexual sound-effects along with vulgar and completely offensive language whenever any female happens to be in sight of them by being on a sidewalk or an urban construction site’s walkway. These are also too numerous to track, occurring throughout my life until quite recently (I am now 62).

from https://dev.theodysseyonline.com/when-the-cat-calls-dont-answer

Send respect, healing, caring and compassion to all survivors and shut the disrespectful morons up completely.

Add your stories or number or both on your social media of choice: #justyournumber and #wherewhatwhowhen

Yizkor is the Memorial Service Recited 4x/year during #Jewish Holiday Services

Yizkor is the Memorial Service recited four times each year during #Jewish Holiday Services and it happens this week for Yom Kippur.

Want to learn more? “My Jewish Learning” is a great website for the curious or Jewish-estranged/ignorant: http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/yizkor-the-memorial-service/

Many people light a special, 24-hours-burning yahrzeit candle each year to commemorate the anniversary of a loved one’s death and most Jewish people light one tonight, the Eruv (evening before) Yom Kippur.


I have not been a practicing Jew for over 45 years, but almost every tradition and religion has ceremonies to honor the dead at least once every year.

In the Nyingma Vajrayana Tibetan Buddhist I am a a part of, we do a daily practice (puja) that includes prayers for the recently deceased (“recently” means anyone who departed within the last 49 days, which has special meaning for Buddhists) and an annual practice for all who have ever died whose karma we pray to improve, during an extended set of prayers and commemorations (a Drubchen). Want to know more? Red Tara (Jetsunma) is the daily puja sadhana (text) and Red Vajrasattva is the Drubchen‘s practice referred to, here. Here is my spiritual community’s (sangha‘s) website, which has a lot of information, including a link to its bookstore, Tibetan Treasures: http://chagdudgonpa.org/

For whatever reasons, maybe because my step-uncle, Jerry Leavitt, died somewhat suddenly (but he was 90 years old…) last week, this week I am especially moved to remember all those I/we have lost, who have passed “too soon” or even those who have had a “good, long life.”

Meg Christian’s beautiful memorial song, “The Ones Who Aren’t Here,” is at 19:45 on this wonderful concert recording from 1983, “Meg & Cris at Carnegie Hall.” Tears and memories abound.

I “recite” some of their names, here. May their memories be a blessing. A”h, z”l, and zt”l

A”h is short for alav/aleha hashalom, which means ‘peace be upon him/her.’ Alternately, z”l stands for zikhrono/zikhronah livrakha, meaning ‘May his/her memory be a blessing,’ and zt”l stands for zekher tzadik livrakhah ‘May the memory of this righteous one be a blessing.'” (From the above “My Jewish Learning” website.)

Passed during high school or college years, from Horton Watkins High School, Ladue, Missouri, USA, in the 1970s:
Jim Haller (motorcycle accident, 1971)
Barbie Dietchmann (cancer, 1988)
Alan Bierman (car accident, 1970)
Lisa Brie (car accident, 1970)(and 2 more I didn’t know, killed in the same car accident as Lisa and Alan)
Barbie Korman (cancer, 1970)
Ellis Markman (a distant cousin of ours and from my class; accident/drug overdose)
Gary Fonarow (heart attack)

Passed later, but “too soon,” from my graduating class or the one before mine (my older brother, Jon’s, class), from Horton Watkins High School, Ladue, Missouri, USA:
Debbie Kean (the sister of two dear Camp Hawthorn counselors; Mike passed before she did)
Elice (Liccey) Bierman (Alan’s sister, friend from Camp Hawthorn and school)
David Ross (my first high school boyfriend)
Jeff Gall (a cousin of my sister, Lauri’s, husband, and in my class)
Joel Roufa (the only kid who punched me in the stomach in grade school)

Passed friends and teachers, taken “too soon,” from the 1970s – 2000’s:
Joan Levinson (the person who most supported and inspired me to get my advanced degrees) (cancer)
Mary Buren (one of my first New Hampshire friends) (cancer)
Marcia Watermolen (my son, Merlyn’s, first Waldorf teacher) (cancer)
David Taylor (fellow actor and star of plays I helped direct; taken by AIDs, in the 1980s)
Cynthia Toth (former housemate, sangha member, friend, my age) (cancer)
Russell Wilfand (one of my best friends at the time of his untimely and sudden death, December, 2007) (stroke)
Jaye Alper (long-time friend and “sister”, of kidney disease, then cancer, April, 2012)
Martha Alsup and Susan Galvin (murdered while on vacation, in their late 30’s)
Iris Markman (Ellis’ mother, theatre/dance teacher at Ladue, also distant cousin of ours; cancer)
“Papa” Joe Richardson (chorus teacher at Ladue; cancer)

Great-grandparents, great aunts/uncles, aunts/uncles and grandparents, cousins (the ones I knew) , and my father, Ira Fleischmann
“Les” (Sylvester) Harris (stepfather)
“Mama” Sarah Epstein Klein and “Papa” Samuel Klein
Mildred “Mimi” Klein Cytron Bright
Stanley Cytron
William Grosblatt and Agnes Pickle Grosblatt
Bea Grosblatt
Samuel Fleischmann and “Yetta” (Gertrude) Grosblatt Fleischmann
Ben Fleischmann and Ruth Fleischmann
Janice Cytron Rosen and Milton Rosen
Melissa “Missy” Rosen and Lisa Rosen
Nancy Fleischmann Levin
Ethel Klein Trost, Florence Klein Switow, Harry, Jimmy and Eddie Klein
Naomi Leonson Wagner

Family Friends, “Aunts” and “Uncles,” and Friends’ Children:
Margie Klearman
Betty Hoffman
Karky Gitlin and Maury Gitlin
Ed Sorg
Aram Gurian
Max Bassinson
Isabell Schwerin-Whyte
Emily Weiss
Harvey Mizes

My First Buddhist Teacher and the Teacher of my Teachers, His Excellence Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche

If I have inadvertently forgotten anyone, please add/include them and forgive my poor memory.

HUGS to all who have lost someone recently or who miss them, still.


10/2-10/11/16: 10Q: Reflect. React. Renew.: “Life’s Biggest Questions. Answered By You.”

You don’t have to be Jewish or celebrate #Jewish High Holy Days (Rosh Hashona, Jewish New Year’s, and Yom Kippur, the “Day of Atonement”) to want to spend some time considering your life and your goals/accomplishments each year. I was raised Jewish, but I am a practicing #Buddhist.

It’s free!

10Q: Reflect. React. Renew.: “Life’s Biggest Questions. Answered By You.”

The title and all the info, below, come from the 10Q site. Visit! Sign up! Do it!

10 Days. 10 Questions.

Answer one question per day in your own secret online 10Q space. Make your answers serious. Silly. Salacious. However you like. It’s your 10Q. When you’re finished, hit the magic button and your answers get sent to the secure online 10Q vault for safekeeping.

One year later, the vault will open and your answers will land back in your email inbox for private reflection.

Want to keep them secret? Perfect. Want to share them, either anonymously or with attribution, with the wider 10Q community? You can do that, too.

Next year the whole process begins again. And the year after that, and the year after that.

Do you 10Q? You should.


Click hereto get your 10Q on.

10Q begins October 2nd, 2016


Here are some of mine from 2015 and 2014:

Describe a significant experience that has happened in the past year. How did it affect you? Are you grateful? Relieved? Resentful? Inspired?

Your Answer:

I was able to reconnect with my meditation practice in March & May and again in early Sept. through instruction and connection with my spiritual teacher, Lama Drimed, after many false starts, attempts, painful absences and confusions as well as hurt feelings on my part.

So happy about all that!

Describe an event in the world that has impacted you this year. How? Why?

Your Answer:

The upholding of Marriage Equality laws and the enforcing of them across the USA and in other countries feels like a giant victory.

Looser laws, releasing noncriminals from prison when their only “crime” is possession of marijuana, and eventual legalization of marijuana/cannabis use across the USA and other countries also seem imminent, due to the vast success (economic and social) of those places in which it is already legal and those changes have already occurred; another set of great victories.

I appreciate the egalitarians’ winning. I appreciate common sense’s prevailing. I appreciate nondiscrimination’s being enforced. Feels right and good.

Have you had any particularly spiritual experiences this past year? How has this experience affected you? “Spiritual” can be broadly defined to include secular spiritual experiences: artistic, cultural, and so forth.

Your Answer:

Due to a TBI [Traumatic Brain Injury] in April, 2014, I went from not being able to meditate for almost one year (after meditating consistently for over 42 years) to restoring my practice, slowly, bit by bit. Very grateful to my spiritual teacher, sangha and good fortune that this has been possible.

Returning to my practice is like coming home.

How would you like to improve yourself and your life next year? Is there a piece of advice or counsel you received in the past year that could guide you?

Your Answer:

My meditation teacher reminded me that meditation practice in our tradition comes from our heart center, not our brain area. The Tibetans use a term that means “heart-mind” when talking about the mind.

My wish to improve myself and my practice is to keep it centered in my heart. “Meditation: it’s not what you think.”

Describe an event in the world that has impacted you this year. How? Why?

Your Answer:

Many science discoveries: proof of the multiverse, ability to teleport particles, invention of pre-tractor beam technology, getting paralyzed rats and others to walk, moving limbs and other things with just the mind: so much!

Very exciting, and all goes into research I use for The Spanners Series books!

What is a fear that you have and how has it limited you? How do you plan on letting it go or overcoming it in the coming year?

Your Answer:

Fear getting more unhealthy instead of more healthy over the next several years. Fear not getting my full meditation practice/brain function restored. Fear being unconnected to community/friends, no lover, no one close to me where I live.
Plan to keep exercising, eating better, reaching out to Buddhist and other groups (writers, Jews, work) to make friends.
Plan to stay in touch with my teacher.

What are your predictions for 2015?

Your Answer:

Movement toward reducing and ending full-impact football, hockey, etc. (headers in soccer, e.g.), in youth and college sports.

More states’ legalizing marijuana.

More states’ ratifying gay marriage.

Proof of alien life on other planets.

Guest Post: Women in Fantasy — Alesha L. Escobar

All of you who follow my blog know that author Devorah Fox is one of my faves–not only in terms of storytellers, but also as a guest blogger. She brings to light so many interesting concepts regarding the way we read and the way we think. I’d like to welcome her once more with this…

via Guest Post: Women in Fantasy — Alesha L. Escobar

#Writing #Contest! And, USA National #Punctuation Day® is TODAY! September 24, 2016

Are you (more than slightly) OCD [Obsessive-Compulsive Disordered] about punctuation and grammar? Do you have a mental (or, like me, an actual) correcting pen ready at all times?

In a day-long Professional Development workshop (which included reviewing the state standards on English Language Arts…) last week, I spent many happy minutes disparaging and then correcting the mistakes in the presenter’s Power Point slides and the manual provided.

I found 17 errors in a three-paragraph story alone.

So fun!


No wonder this is one of my all-time favorite non-holidays!

USA National #Punctuation Day® is TODAY! September 24, 2016,
Jeff Rubin, Founder


Also, every year there is a CONTEST! YES! Sharpen your red pencils!

National Punctuation Day® announces 2016 writing contest

This year, for the 13th National Punctuation Day® on September 24, we salute the unsung and under-appreciated heroes of our lives — TEACHERS.

Have you had a teacher who changed your life, someone who brought into focus a subject you hadn’t previously understood, or introduced you to something that became your passion? Maybe you had a teacher who helped you develop a skill that wasn’t natural for you.

Maybe you have a teacher like that now.

Did you have a teacher who, along with the basics they he or she was supposed to be teaching, taught you that it was better to try and fail than to not try at all?

Perhaps two teachers? Three? More?

HERE’S THIS YEAR’S CONTEST: Write a thank-you note of no more than 250 words to a teacher, expressing your gratitude for having been taught how to write using proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation, and how those skills have helped you in your student or adult life. Make it personal by identifying the teacher, subject, school, grade level, and state/country.

Entries will be accepted through October 31 at Jeff@NationalPunctuationDay.com.

Winners in the student and adult divisions will be announced, and prizes will be awarded, in December.

PLEASE visit founder, Jeff Rubin’s, website, where he has explanations of EVERY type of punctuation WITH PHOTOS of those used in English, AND pages of info, recipes (!?) and resources, like “Punctuation Products” and “Punctuation Playtime Program”! http://www.nationalpunctuationday.com/ for more information and fun stuff.

The site also has great posters/signage of excellent punctuation mistakes, videos, radio spots, schools’ participation pix, newspaper coverage of NPD (even right here in St. Louis, MO!) and much more!

Love this sign!

We can only hope these “Little ‘Genius’s'” can’t read, yet.

Most unusual tribute?
Video of a Punctuation Rap Song by Dots N Dashes: https://youtu.be/4vYrws3766Q The participants make punctuation marks on the football field, as if they were a marching band. Hilarious.

Photos of bad signage and more at: http://www.NationalPunctuationDay.com

Got a photo of an incorrectly punctuated sign?
E-mail it to Jeff Rubin Jeff@NationalPunctuationDay.com and it will be posted on the National Punctuation Day® web site–—with a photo credit!

Here is another video:

CONTACT JEFF: Jeff also does presentations and answers your punctuation questions and makes live appearances (he lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, California): (510) 724-9507 and Jeff@NationalPunctuationDay.com

Special note
— to any of the students who had/have me as a teacher who happen to have read this far: Copies of your entries and thank-you notes are appreciated, but please proofread them first! ~~~~

Or, here is what I will look like when I see YOUR errors:


2016 #MacArthur Fellows: 23 Extraordinarily Creative People Who Inspire Us All

Let’s celebrate extraordinary and amazing and beneficial and FUN people! I first heard about these annual awards when they were only about $200,000 and they were called “Genius Grants.” The stipend for the MacArthur Fellowship is currently set at $625,000, paid in quarterly installments over five years.

The cool thing about this award is that the group of people who nominate and select these individuals every year are ANONYMOUS and it is apparently impossible to discover their identities. This protects the process from corruption, one would hope. Their FAQs page states: “All of the participants in the selection process—–nominators, evaluators, and selectors—–serve anonymously, and we keep their communications confidential. Anonymity protects them from being inundated with unsolicited requests. In addition, our experience shows that people readily provide frank impressions if they have an assurance that their responses will not be disseminated beyond the program staff and Selection Committee.”

I’ve heard that each recipient gets a phone call “out of the blue,” since they don’t even know they’re being considered, to announce that they are selected and about to receive one of our highest honors and a huge cash award.

The idea behind these awards is that the Fellows can then “quit their day jobs” or work less for money while living on the investments/cash they get/accumulate from this award. That liberates them to pursue their genius ideas even further! YEA!

Again, from the FAQs: “The MacArthur Fellowship is designed to provide seed money for intellectual, social, and artistic endeavors. We believe that highly motivated, self-directed, and talented people are in the best position to decide how to allocate their time and resources. By adopting a “no strings attached” policy, we provide the maximum freedom for the recipients to follow their creative vision, whether it is moving forward with their current activities, expanding the scope of their work, or embarking upon an entirely new endeavor. There are no restrictions on how the money can be spent, and we impose no reporting obligations.”

I also love that they make a concerted effort and usually succeed in finding obscure, diverse, interesting and helpful people to whom to give this important award each year. Check out the 2016 cohort!

Spread the word! Read about these people and their projects to youth and adults to inspire us all to be better! There is no upper age limit on recipients, either!

This year’s recipients include a Human Rights Lawyer, Artists, Musicians, Creators and Writers of several types, Linguists and other Historians, Scientists of many subdisciplines, a Jewelry-Maker and a Financial Services Innovator! And, perhaps for the first time, there are more female (13) than male (10) recipients! Most are under 50 years old, but a few are older.

About half are people of non-Caucasian/ non-Western European ethnicities. Click on this link for an interactive map showing each of the recipient’s place of birth: https://www.macfound.org/maps/1/

A few are academics or work in other large organizations, but most are independent owners/operators or work in small businesses or in the nonprofit sectors.


Want to know more? Check out these myth-busting responses: https://www.macfound.org/press/commentary/five-myths-about-macarthur-genius-grants/

2016 MacArthur Fellows: 23 Extraordinarily Creative People Who Inspire Us All

23 Extraordinarily Creative People Who Inspire Us All
Recognizing 23 exceptionally creative individuals with a track record of achievement and the potential for significant contributions in the future, the Foundation today named the 2016 MacArthur Fellows. Fellows will each receive a no-strings-attached stipend of $625,000, allowing recipients maximum freedom to follow their own creative visions.

“While our communities, our nation, and our world face both historic and emerging challenges, these 23 extraordinary individuals give us ample reason for hope,” said MacArthur President Julia Stasch. “They are breaking new ground in areas of public concern, in the arts, and in the sciences, often in unexpected ways. Their creativity, dedication, and impact inspire us all.”

Visit the MacArthur Foundation website for Fellows’ bios and more info about each recipient as well as videos, the lists and descriptions/bios of previous years’ recipients, and the remaining FAQs/Answers: https://www.macfound.org/fellows/class/class-2016/

ALSO, as described in a previous post, the MacArthur Foundation is celebrating having had 35 years of MacArthur Fellows with events in Chicago and New York City still to come for 2016. Check out the three remaining public ceremonies and events. Fantastic opportunities!

This weekend, “Poetry Off the Shelf”: with poet, Ellen Bryant Voigt, September 27, 2016, 7 – 8:30 PM CDT, at the
Poetry Foundation , 61 West Superior Street, Chicago, IL, USA.

On October 1 and 2, 2016, at New York City’s Kennedy Center, Artistic Director and Jazz Fellow, Jason Moran, hosts two different Fellows, Jessie Little Doe Baird and George E. Lewis.