Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Versatile Blogger Award!

On November 29th I received a lovely surprise from two fellow classic movie fans and bloggers, the two delightful sisters at the Pure Entertainment Preservation Society.  Tiffany and Rebekah Brannon had nominated me and 14 other bloggers whom they enjoy reading, for The Versatile Blogger Award!  I swiftly sent the ladies a thank you, and agreed to be a guest blogger for them in April, writing a post for their site.  I did tell them that since I was in the midst of grading myriads of 7 year olds’ school assignments, making reports for administration, and trying to keep a house picked up and readied for the holiday, that I wouldn’t be able to properly respond to my “award” until Christmas break.  It is now December 26th, so here is my response to this nice award.   


When one receives the Versatile Blogger Award, one has a few things to do upon receiving the honor:

  1. Thank the blogger(s) that nominated you.
  2.  Post a link to the nominating blog on your site.
  3. List 7 things about yourself.
  4. Nominate your 15 Versatile Blogger Award winners.

Seven Things About Me

  1.  Born and raised in Defiance, OH.
  2.  Graduate of Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH.  Elementary Education.
  3.  Married my high school sweetheart and his first engineering job took us to SC and his second one took us to MO where we’ve lived since 1993.
  4. This past June, hubby and I celebrated our 30th Wedding anniversary!
  5.  Mom to seven kids, although majority of them are adults now! Ranging in ages 27 down to 15.
  6. Teaching again after a long hiatus due to being a stay-at-home-mom.
  7. March of this past year I was fortunate to travel to Thailand! A unique country that deserves a blog post about my time there.


My Nominees

The following are classic film fans and bloggers who enjoy sharing their observations on classic films they have seen.  Needless to say, I admire their posts, their writing skills, and their opinions on the films they write about. In no particular order, here are my nominees:

  1. Colin at Ride the High Country
  2. Crystal at In The Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood
  3.  Theresa at Cinemaven’s ESSAYS from the COUCH
  4. Mike at Mike’s Take on the Movies 
  5. MovieMovieBlogBlog
  6. Debbie at Moon in Gemini
  7. Kristina at Speakeasy
  8. Maddy at Maddy Loves Her Classic Films
  9.  Grand Old Movies
  10. Fritzi at Movies Silently
  11. Vienna at Vienna’s Classic Hollywood
  12. John at Twenty Four Frames
  13. Aurora at Once Upon a Screen
  14. Jessica at Comet Over Hollywood
  15. Cameron at The Blonde at the Film

Please take time this holiday break to visit these bloggers’ sites for excellent posts about classic films, plots, actors, actresses, directors, music, costumes, you name it, they write about it!





Kaleidoscope Discovery Center

My daughter’s piano teacher, a couple weeks ago on facebook, put out a question as to the location of the Kaleidoscope Discovery Center in Rolla.  I was able to answer her query as it’s in the same building that the Rolla Boy Scout Shop is located in, where I work part-time.   A friend of the piano teacher then asked, “What is this Kaleidoscope Center?”  Hence, I decided that my blog for today would be to explain what this place is all about and what it hopes to do for the kids in Rolla and the surrounding communities.


Before there was a Null and Sons Funeral Home on Kingshighway, that business was housed in the Null Building, which is located at 612 N. Pine St., in Rolla.  After Mr. Null moved his business to it’s present location, different businesses have occupied that building, and Rolla’s Boy Scout Shop has been there since the early 2000’s.  Community Partnership of Rolla, a not for profit organization in the foothills of the Ozarks,  wants to ensure “the development of  healthy, thriving communities by promoting awareness of needs, creating and implementing services and partnerships to help meet those needs, while encouraging individual responsibility”, one of it’s members saw a need for an outreach to the children of Rolla and surrounding communities: an outreach to expand and enrich the kids educations about  sciences, mathematics, and art.  Thus, The Kaleidoscope Discovery Center was born!    KDC 2

Classes have been held this summer for preschoolers, for Cub and Boy Scouts working on the Nova Science Merit Badges, the Rolla High School’s Robotics team is now housed at Kaleidoscope, and Kinder Musik classes will be offered in the fall. Next week, a Math Camp will be held, for kids ages 11-14, a refresher course in math that will run Mon.-Fri., 9 am-11:30 am.  We will also be offering Science enrichment classes in the fall for homeschooled students: preschoolers all the way up to high schoolers; more information will be coming soon to the community about those classes.  Fees will be charged, however, scholarships will also be available as we don’t want any students deterred from taking classes due to costs.  I mention the pronoun “we” because I will also be teaching one of the science block of classes for the homeschoolers, the middle school/junior high group.

So get ready, Rolla, for  The Kaleidoscope Discovery Center!  We will be aiming to “provide opportunities that advance the understanding and appreciation of engineering, science, technology, the environment, arts, and math.  We will use hands-on learning experiences, which inspire everyone to imagine, explore, and create a better world.”

For more information, here are links to The Community Partnership and The Kaleidoscope Discovery Center.





Our Ford Econoline Van

I was driving our 12-passenger, Ford Econoline silver/grey van  around Rolla last week, doing the weekly groceries shopping, stopping at the bank to deposit our working teens’ paychecks into their savings accounts since they were still in school and couldn’t get to the bank as easily as I could, and suddenly, I became all weepy!

There wasn’t a sentimental song playing on the radio.  No touching radio ad or news story had hit my ears to bring about the tears.  I simply started dwelling on our van and how many ways it had been a great vehicle for our family. The flood of memories, I think, just hit me at the right moment and the tears sprang forth.

It was Autumn of 1999 and we were a family of 6 when I went to the doctor to confirm that baby #5 was on his or her way.  That afternoon at the doctor’s office,  an ultrasound showed not one but two hearts beating!  After I got over my initial shock, I told husband and he, after realizing I wasn’t joking about expecting twins in April said, “We’re gonna need a bigger van!”  Up to that moment, we had a Ford Windstar mini-van, which worked fine for our family.  With my brother being an  employee of the Ford Motor Company, it was a  no-brainer to find out what Ford offered for those families that were too large to fit into a mini-van.  That search led us to the Econoline.  It’s the same size as those church or a daycare vans that dot our roadways in the U.S.  We eschewed the 15 seater and went with the 12 seater and we placed our order with our local Ford dealership.  We learned that part of our new van was going to be made in Canada and then those parts would be shipped to Loraine, Ohio and the final assembling of the vehicle would be finished there, but not until November of 2000, some  months after our twins would be born.  So until we were notified that the van had arrived at our local Ford dealership,  we were a two vehicle, caravanning family.

The day arrived and the kids were all excited about getting inside of this behemoth vehicle.   The twins were oblivious but I think they sensed the excitement of their older sibings!  The kids burst into the van, bouncing around on the bench seats, each claiming their spot, and the twins car seats were placed on the bench seat closest to the driver and front passenger seats.  It did take me a while to get used to driving it around town, to not feel like I was taking up the entire lane of traffic.  I finally did get used to it, so much so that whenever I rode in a “normal” sized vehicle, I felt like my seat was going to drag on the road!  The only detriment, we learned, is that it’s impossible to really see out the back of such a large, long van.  Hence, whenever parking it, we always, always look for a spot that we can drive forward out of, or park in a spot where there isn’t any place for anyone to park behind us.

Ford Van

Memories came flooding last week: the numerous trips to St. Louis Zoo, or any of the museums in Forest Park, or any of the homeschooling field trips we went on through the years, hauling the kids and their friends to Koch Water Park or Bangert Pool, or Fritz’s, or to a mall, or helping to drive kids from church out to High Hill Christian Camp.    Vacations taken via our van: Disney World, Busch Gardens, trips to OH to see the grandparents and other relatives, a trip to MI, a trip to NC,  a trip to Texas when it looked like we might have to move there, and trips now back and forth from Rolla to St. Louis or Rolla to Springfield, to Branson and back.

There are also  the times the van has been extremely handy in hauling stuff: concrete and paints, mulch and plants, wood, tools, for various home improvement projects, new pieces of furniture.   Hauling college daughter’s myriads of stuff to the dorm and back again for school breaks.  It has also proved valuable on Cub and  Boy Scout campouts;driving scouts and equipment to and from camps.   Two summers ago, while on a Cub Scout camp out with our youngest, we were at Camp Arrowhead, about 40 minutes east of Springfield, MO.  A strong thunderstorm had been predicted to hit the second night of our camp out.  I told my Webelo son, that to be on the safe side, at 9:00 pm, we were going to move our gear from the platform scout tent to our van and sleep there for the night.  I was so thankful I thought to do that as a fierce thunderstorm did hit, the rains flooded the campsite, but my son and I were safe and dry inside our van.  I know some scouting parents would insist on “roughing” it during a thunderstorm but I fell back on the motto, “Be Prepared” and to the van we went!

The Econoline has another family vacation to take us on this summer.  It will again take our oldest daughter and all of her stuff  back to her college for her Senior year.  The van is starting to show it’s 15 years of usage, but we still aren’t ready to trade it in for a newer vehicle.  We’re hoping it can hang on through the August of 2016 when child #4 will be moving to his college for his Freshman year.

One weekend when my husband and I were highschool sweethearts, he related to me that as his parents were opening up their pop-up camper it was discovered that during the winter, water had somehow gotten inside of the camper and mold had grown inside and  ruined the interior.  He went on to tell me how sad his mom was, and that she actually broke down and cried about it.  When I asked why she had gotten so upset about a camper, my wise husband explained to me that their family had gone a lot of camping trips in that pop-up and that she was sad they wouldn’t be able to continue making memories with that camper.  At the time, I was a high school kid and didn’t understand my future  mother-in-law’s tears.  Driving around last week and dwelling on our reliable, yet old van’s travels, I found that I now do understand the tears.

Memories are made, families grow and change.  The trusty vehicles age and according to some law of Physics, the repairing over and over again will all be for naught.   Maybe it’s part of a mom’s heart to tear up at memories, to recall with fondness, smiles and wet eyes the passages of time via their childrens growth; the need for car seats of various sizes, then just a booster seat, then the seat belt, to the child driving the vehicle on their own with their own driver’s license.

Chalk it all up to memories and a mom’s heart, I guess, as to the reason why I was emotional as I drove around Rolla running errands.   I guess as I tool around town in my giant silver/grey van, I will need to keep a kleenax box handy, especially as our kids continue to grow up and time marches on .


Are You Ready?

Saturday morning I was happily riding on  our church’s large vehicle, called a “people mover”-bigger than a 15 passenger van but not as big as a bus.  I was  an adult helper, one of several parents accompanying 4th, 5th, and 6th graders from our church  to a ministry event called Superstart, geared for their age group.  Another parent broke me out of my reverie when she asked if I’d heard about the teacher that had been killed last night?

church vehicle

Teacher? Killed? Which teacher? What school?  The parent who asked me had been looking at facebook on her iphone when she had come across the tragic news.   I did know who the teacher was, Carin Allen, the wonderful Latin teacher at Rolla High School, but it was the news that her husband, Phil, had also been killed, in a car accident on Friday night that shocked me.  Phil was a co-worker of my husband’s at Brewer Science, and I had known Phil a bit, through the Robotics Program at Rolla High when our 18 year old son had participated in that program.

I was in shock as the news  seeped  into my mind and I got an awful feeling in my stomach.  The Allen family had been driving to Sedalia, Missouri for the weekend, to visit  Phil’s parents.  Their vehicle was westbound on state highway 50.  Another vehicle traveling eastbound on state highway 50 decided to pass a tractor trailer and hit the Allen’s car head on.  That driver was also killed instantly.  Her passenger died later at an area hospital.   The Allen’s two  children  survived the horrific accident, but not without serious injuries.

I immediately grabbed my cell phone to call my husband.  He had gotten up early that Saturday morning to go into work for a while in order to  get some projects further along in their processes.  I hated to be the bearer of bad news.  My husband was speechless and also in shock.  He asked was I sure of the information?  Was it perhaps a stupid hoax on facebook?  He told me he was going to call his boss to ask if he had heard this news.   After a few minutes, my husband called me back and said that  sadly it was true.  He decided to not stay at work much longer and to go and personally inform another co-worker, a younger engineer who was also a Robotics volunteer, and who Phil was a mentor to at work.  My husband didn’t want this mutual friend to find out the awful news through social media.  My husband’s boss wanted to know if I knew any more information about the children, their conditions, etc.  Fortunately, one of the guidance counselors at Rolla Junior High was driving our church’s vehicle and I was able to glean from him the information that my husband’s boss was wanting to know.



As I watched laughing, clapping, singing kids all around me on Saturday at the Superstart program, I kept thinking  about and praying for the Allen family.  I prayed for  healing  for the children, not just for their physical hurts but for their emotional health too.  Now they would be facing life on this earth without the two most important people in their lives.  No more mom and dad to hang out with, to see them reach milestones such as drivers licenses, graduations, weddings, becoming parents themselves.    I prayed for wisdom for the medical staff, for the  various relatives, some in Missouri and some not, who were going to need strength to help the children get through these tough days, weeks, and months ahead.  I also prayed for wisdom  for them in dealing with legal matters,  a will, property.  I also prayed for Brewer Science; Phil was an integral employee.  Who was going to possibly take on the projects he was working on?  The same prayer went up for Rolla High.  Not many high schools even teach Latin anymore.  Will they be able to find another Latin teacher quickly?

Sunday morning, my husband was informed by Brewer Science that a “Night of Remembrance” was to be held at First Assembly of God where the Allen family  were members.  We attended this special service and  it was a nice program.  Church members were there as well as Brewer Science employees, Rolla High School employees, and the Latin students.  Prayers were said, a few songs were sung, and there was a  slide show with pictures of the Allen family set to the popular Christian song, “I Can Only Imagine“.  The Principal of Rolla High School spoke, as did the Senior Pastor of First Assembly.  Two things  touched me during this service: the Allen’s son had asked from  his hospital room that the service be recorded so he could listen to it and have it to treasure,  and the Pastor shared with us  that the Allen’s son  had told him that he knew his mom and dad were in heaven with Jesus, but what about the two other people in the other car?  He kept praying and wondering about them and their salvation.

As horrible as this news has been to receive, as horrible as it is to realize that two adults well-loved and thought of by their families and their community are suddenly and cruelly gone from this earth in an instant, their son’s faith spoke volumes to us seated in the sanctuary.  He knew his parents were with Jesus, in their new, eternal home, and he knows he’ll see them again one day.


Death is an  inevitable event.  No one can escape it.  Some  believe there is an eternal life beyond death, in heaven with God.  Others don’t believe this and believe that life  on this earth is all that exists  and that once one is dead, that’s it.  I cannot force anyone to believe as I do: Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God, and He is my Lord and my Savior.  However, I do ask the question, “Are You Ready?”  Are you ready to face the  end of your life?  Whether it be a sudden death or from a long, lingering illness, are you ready?

Looking at death in practical terms, do you have a will made so your loved ones will know what to do with your possessions?  Have you made your wishes known for what kind of memorial service you want to be held for you?  Most importantly,  have you made peace with God?  If you don’t believe God is real, I do challenge you to this thought: if I am wrong in my beliefs, has it hurt me in any way? Sure, some people may have a dimmer view of my intelligence for having a faith in Christ, but has that  really hurt me?  Yet, what if there is an eternity after death and there is a God?  What then, if one has rejected God?  Are you really wanting to take that leap of rejection?  If I am right, and you’re not, then you will be harmed eternally.

Are you ready? Don’t wait until it’s too late to be ready.   From the book of  Luke, Chapter 23, verses 32-43:”Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed.  When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals, one on his right, the other on  his left….. One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him:”Aren’t you the Messiah?  Save yourself and us!”  But the other criminal rebuked him.  “Don’t you fear God”, he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve.  But this man has done nothing wrong.”  Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Are you ready?  Make sure you are! Hug your loved ones especially tight today and tell them that you love them.  Ask others for forgiveness if you’ve wronged them.  Treat others the way you would want to be treated.   Find that peace that passes all understanding, in Philippians 4:7.

Missing Person: Find Lynn Messer

Today’s blog is a public service announcement.

Here are the facts:  Early on the morning of July 8th, at 4 am, Mr. Kerry Messer awoke to find his wife gone.   At 8:00 am, the St. Genevieve County sheriff’s department was contacted by the Messer family to report Mrs. Messer, Lynn, as missing. No vehicles were missing from the home, Lynn had left behind her purse, cell phone, house keys,  and a medical boot that she had been wearing for her broken toe.  St. Genevieve County sheriff’s department, along with search teams and rescue dogs from Eureka, MO and 50 people and dogs from St. Louis Regional Response Team, which is part of Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Troop C, conducted a massive search of the Messer family’s farm, 270 acres and surrounding land in St. Genevieve County.

Lynn Messer is 52 years old.  Her height is 5’2″. weight is 160 lbs.  She has long, greying blonde hair.

Lynn Messer

Lynn Messer

According to law enforcement, there were no signs of a forced entry into the Messer’s home, no signs of an abduction.  Lynn Messer has no history of dementia and she was taking some pain medication.   She had been at church on July 6th and those who had contact with her on that day said she seemed fine, her normal self.  The same was said by those who worked with her on July 7th at her church’s first day of Vacation Bible School, at First Baptist Church of Festus-Crystal City, MO.  Later that day, she was busy making crafts for the next day of VBS and discussing the varied activities she was planning on accomplishing on July 8th.

Now it is August 5th and there has still been no sign of Lynn Messer.  The family has printed off hundreds of missing person flyers, they have launched a Find Lynn Messer Facebook page, and 3 time’s a day, volunteers have been going out searching the countryside near the Messer family’s farm, for Lynn.   I thought to myself, that I couldn’t even begin to imagine the grief and pain the Messer family is going through.  Since my little blog is posted for the online version of the  Rolla Daily News, which is owned by Gatehouse Media, Inc.,  my blog is also posted online  in other Missouri  newspapers that are also owned by  Gatehouse.   I decided to make this public announcement and plea, as a way to help in the search for Lynn,to help in getting the information about Lynn Messer to other parts of the state.

If you have the time and want to volunteer to help in a search, please go to the Find Lynn Messer Facebook page for more information; how to sign up for a search, the times, etc.   If that isn’t possible, the other way to help is to pray, pray, pray, and pray some more.  The Messer family has a strong faith in God and the prayers of others have helped them as they struggle on each day in the search for Lynn, a very much loved wife, mother of 2 grown sons, and a beloved grandmother.   Here is a link to the missing persons poster that the Messer family has been posting in their area of MO; St. Genevieve County is in eastern MO, and part of it borders the Mississippi River.

I want to acknowledge the following news articles  that I used in gathering the information for today’s  blog: Clementine Carbery, St. Genevieve Herald, July 9th, 2014 article, Don Hinkle, The Pathway, July 17, 2014 article.


A Book Review: Princess April Morning Glory

Imagine if you had an uncle who was a world-famous actor, a bona fide movie star.  This uncle was kind and helpful and loving to your family as you were growing up.  When he suddenly passed away, you were very sad, yet you wanted to somehow pay a tribute to him.  With your talents in art and writing, you decide to create a book to honor this beloved uncle.  That is how the picture book Princess April Morning Glory came to exist.Princess April Morning Glory book jacket Letitia Fairbanks was the niece of famous silent film star Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.  As a child, Letitia’s Uncle Douglas was a huge movie star, probably the first “Action Hero” of the movies.  He was the first Thief of Bagdad, the first Zorro, and the first Robin Hood.  His films were box office hits, and Letitia probably had the opportunity to see her uncle in these movies.  When he died suddenly of a heart attack in 1939 at the age of 56, Letitia decided to honor her Uncle with a picture book, based upon a fairytale of her own creation and imagination.  She created and wrote the story, drew the delicate watercolor  illustrations, and  wrote the caligraphy for the text of the story.

Letitia Fairbanks, the niece who honored her late Uncle's memory with her book.

Letitia Fairbanks, the niece who honored her late Uncle’s memory with her book.

Douglas Fairbanks Sr., as The Thief of Bagdad, 1922 silent movie box office hit

Douglas Fairbanks Sr., as The Thief of Bagdad, 1922 silent movie box office hit

When Letitia’s book was complete and ready for the publisher, it was 1941.  Due to her composing the art work with watercolors, and silver and gold leaf, the printing technology of the day couldn’t reproduce the delicate illustrations without a substantial financial cost, so the book was printed in pamphlet form without the illustrations. Moving ahead to 2012 and Princess April Morning Glory was resurrected into a lovely picture book through the efforts and hard work of three individuals: Kelly Smoot Garrett, Danny Garrett, and Amanda Letitia Millner-Fairbanks.  Kelly Smoot Garrett was Letitia’s stepdaughter, and with the aide of Amanda Letitia Millner-Fairbanks, she being Letitia Fairbanks granddaughter, the two ladies got the manuscript ready for publishing.  Danny Garrett, Kelly’s husband, an accomplished artist in his own right, used digital technology to reproduce the delicate watercolor illustrations that Letitia had created so that this time, the illustrations would be alongside the manuscript in the proper picture book format.

An example of the delicate and beautiful illustrations in the book.

An example of the delicate and beautiful illustrations in the book.

Princess April Morning Glory is a charming story.  A young fairy princess, April Morning Glory, is tempted as all are at times, to think that the grass is greener on the other side.  Ignoring the warning of her friend the Blue Butterfly, the princess crosses the magic boundary that separates the Enchanted Kingdom from The Great World.  Once she has crossed that boundary line, Princess April Morning Glory regrets her decision, but she has to go on a journey to find out how she can get back to her loving family in the Enchanted Kingdom.  A kindly wizard informs her that in order to return to her family, she must do 3 good deeds.  Princess April Morning Glory, with her trusted friend, the Blue Butterfly, sets out on her mission of doing 3 good deeds, but as in every fairytale, there is an evil presence, the wicked fairy Misery.  She will try to thwart the Princess in her quest to get back home.

An example of the illustrations added to the caligraphy text in the book.

An example of the illustrations added to the caligraphy text in the book.

This is a lovely picture book, especially to cuddle up with one’s children and read to them before their bedtime.  The illustrations are beautiful and so is the caligraphy.  Letitia Fairbanks even drew delicate, tiny illustrations to help add to the beauty of the  caligraphy that she used for the text of the story.  With her knowledge of Hollywood and her Uncle Douglas’s career, it is fun to look at the illustrations of the characters and note some of their similiarites with actual classic movie stars.  Fairbanks did admit that she based the character of  Prince Chivalry on her cousin, Douglas Fairbanks Jr.   The Wicked King in the story resembles actor John Barrymore, grandfather of actress Drew Barrymore.   To me, the evil fairy Misery sort of resembles Marlene Dietrich, with those sharp cheekbones.  The wise wizard looks like Claude Rains, and at the end of the book, we have an illustration of Princess April Morning Glory all grown up, and that reminded me of Lana Turner!  Of course, it could also be conjectured that it was inspired by Mary Pickford, the author’s late Uncle’s second wife, and an early contender for the title America’s Sweetheart, for her successes in silent and early talking films.

Letitia's cousin, actor Douglas Fairbanks Jr., her inspiration for Prince Chivalry in the book.

Letitia’s cousin, actor Douglas Fairbanks Jr., her inspiration for Prince Chivalry in the book.

For more information about this delightful picture book, please visit  Information is also available about the book at  With the holidays approaching, this would make a great gift, especially for the child who loves to read and/or loves to be read to.  It would also make a sweet gift for that Classic Movie fan in your life!  To also learn more about Letitia’s Do Good 3 Deeds, visit

A Gifted Man, can it be saved?

A Gifted ManI don’t watch too many television shows on the major networks.  I am a fan of classic movies, so most evenings I pull up my menu on the Tivo machine(God Bless the person or persons who invented this!), and watch a movie from Turner Classic Movies.  When a  new television season is about to begin, I do peruse the lists of new shows and this Fall, one did catch my eye, A Gifted Man, which airs on CBS on Friday evenings.  Starring Patrick Wilson(my oldest daughter and I were suitably impressed with his skill at portraying Raoul, the hero in Phantom of the Opera, the 2005 film version), and Jennifer Ehle(  she brilliantly portrayed Elizabeth Bennett in a 1995 BBC TV production of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and yes, it is my favorite rendition of Miss Austen’s famous book, even better than the Greer Garson/Laurence Olivier MGM version!).  With these two actors in the cast, I eagerly set my tivo machine and watched the first episode.

The premise of the show is very far-fetched.  Brilliant neurosurgeon Michael Holt,(Wilson), divorced from wife, Dr. Anna Paul,(Ehle), is a busy man with a successful practice in Manhattan, his office capably run by Rita, played by Margo Martindale.  Dr. Holt, one day, sees a child’s ball roll into a side street and goes over to pick it up, but cannot find it’s owner.  Later in the early evening, as he is about to enter a restaurant, his ex-wife walks up to him and he is very surprised to see her, as last he had known, she was practicing at a clinic she had begun in the city for the lower-income residents who live near her clinic’s doors.  After going back to Dr. Holt’s apartment and enjoying an evening of conversation about the way they were when they had a joint practice in Alaska, Anna begs off staying longer and departs.  The next day, Dr. Holt discovers that his ex-wife was actually killed some months before, while chasing after a child’s ball into a street.  Dr.  Holt is in shock over this discovery, and soon his ex-wife’s ghost begins to visit him frequently, asking for him to help her clinic survive, as it is struggling since her unexpected demise.  This ghost element added an interesting twist to what could have  been  a straightforward doctor drama and  I thought all the actors involved were doing a good job with their parts, so I programmed the tivo machine to record it every Friday night.

The program added some new cast members, namely Eriq LaSalle, for a 4 episode arc, as Dr. Evan Morris, a new partner in Dr. Holt’s practice( he had been a star on that other doctor’s show I watched in the 1990s ER), and an actress I am unfamiliar with, Rachelle Lefevre, who plays Dr. Kate Sykora.  Dr. Sykora was selected by Dr. Holt to continue running his ghost ex’s clinic.  There are also some minor characters on the show, Dr. Holt’s ditzy but nice sister, Christina(Julie Benz), a new ageish holisitic handy man, Anton Little Creek(Pablo Schreiber), and Dr. Zeke Barnes( Rhys Coiro), who helps Dr. Sykora run the clinic for the low-income patients that fill the clinic’s waiting room.  The show seemed to be humming right along, with side stories about Dr. Holt’s nephew needing some guidance, sundry patients  with weird symptoms that only a neurosurgeon could figure out, and the poorer patients with their weird symptoms, usually being sent by ambulance to Dr. Holt’s lavish Manhattan clinic for emergency procedures.  No one ever asks about insurance, I’ve noticed, on this show, but we do get to see the long, long lines to see a doctor at the clinic for the poor.

I finally caught up with the show last night and am now concerned that it won’t make it for renewal for next season.  I think that’s a shame.  What has me concerned is the way the story line looks to be going  and some plot points, or holes.  First of all, Dr. Sykora is a beautiful woman with a handsome husband.  We don’t know what her husband’s job is, although he is shown in a suit and is ultra busy with this job(Hedge Fund manager? Lawyer? I don’t know, and if it was mentioned, mea culpa!).  Dr. Sykora has shared with Dr. Holt that her husband and she agreed long ago to not have any children, as they will just be too busy with their careers to deal with children and all that that entails.  Two adults in a marriage with all consuming careers? A bad idea that is ripe for  bad choices.  I think  the writers of the show have planned for her marriage to fail, have her fall into Dr. Holt’s arms, and then ramp up the bedroom antics as a way to boost the show’s ratings.  I think the show would  be better served if Dr. Sykora was single, and for her and Dr. Holt’s characters to have a working relationship where they respect each other’s skills as doctors, and if a romantic relationship would occur, that it occur slowly, very slowly.    Secondly, I noticed two plot holes, and one I blame on mamby-pamby liberal story telling.  Dr. Sykora, who is too busy at work to have much time to be with her husband, and has twiced mentioned she is too busy to have children, is, surprise!,  a volunteer Big Sister to a high school basketball star!  The star player injures her back, causing Dr. Sykora to break her date with her husband, who had managed to get good tickets to a Broadway show, in order to be with her student to get her back x-rayed at Dr. Holt’s clinic.   After the teen has a needed surgical procedure done by Dr. Holt, it is discovered that the teen had drugs in her system, heroin.  Dr. Sykora is shocked, shocked!  She has always told  the teen girl not to do drugs.  The mamby-pamby part was when Dr. Sykora confronted the teen, who began to cry and state that it wasn’t her fault!  She needed painkillers and wanted to do well at her sport and  to get college scholarships! When the kid selling prescription painkillers ran out of his stash, he offered her heroin! I was talking back to the tv screen at all of this-“It was too your fault for taking illegal drugs and painkillers!” No mention of how this teen got the money to feed her habit and all of the adults around her were clueless.  That whole bit of how it wasn’t her fault was a bunch of baloney!!  The other minor plot hole I noticed was due to my tivo machine.  A crazy woman bursts into the poor folks clinic late at night, when the clinic is closed, as Dr. Sykora and Dr. Barnes are about to send a patient via ambulance to an area hospital for an emergency gall bladder surgery.  The crazy woman has a gun and wants to see Dr. Holt, who isn’t there.  He is tricked into coming to the clinic when crazy lady( she  has a large handgun-I thought NYC’s anti-gun laws kept things like this from happening?), gets Dr. Sykora’s cell phone and texts Dr. Holt for help.  It is revealed that the lady is a desperately grieving mom, who’s daughter was killed in a house fire, set by some troubled teen.  Dr. Holt had recently testified at a hearing that the teen arsonist was cured due to a surgery Dr. Holt had done on the teen’s brain, that removed all desires to burn things up.  In the hearing scene, we saw the upset dead girl’s father, who shouted at Dr. Holt, and then confronted him outside the courtroom.  No mom in these scenes.  I ran my tivo machine back to these “angry father” scenes, and the actress portraying crazy lady with a gun wasn’t in any of them.  Why? It couldn’t have been too expensive to have the actress stand there next to her husband as he yelled at Dr. Holt.

I have read articles that A Gifted Man is on the bubble, meaning it may not be renewed for a second season.  I think if the writers made some changes and stopped the story line from going too fast with a romance between the two main doctors, it might make it.  The first couple of episodes had Ehle’s character popping up a lot more, talking with her ex- husband, challenging him on his ideas about how to handle situations with patients and with her clinic.  That needs to be happening much more than it has of late.  It is always a bit amusing whenever Dr. Holt is having an animated conversation with his ghost ex and a total stranger walks by and sees this man talking to himself in such a dramatic fashion!  Rita, the stalwart office receptionist/manager/ scheduler had a lot more to say and do in the first couple of episodes, including one involving a former NFL star who she helped out quite a bit due to her and her husband’s love of football.  Why not show Rita’s husband once in a while, inviting Dr. Holt over for a home-cooked meal, as he lives alone, and other than his sister and her son, has no family to speak of.  Speaking of his sister, we’ve seen her son once, why not have more interactions with these two characters and the good doctor?  It is also a mistake to only have Eriq LaSalle’s character on for 4 episodes.  His character, a neuro psychologist, is an interesting one, and he could add new dimensions in dealing with difficult and puzzling patients.  As for Dr. Sykora’s character, either have she and her husband renew their marriage commitment to have more time for one another,  and bring in a new love interest for Dr. Holt, complete with ghost ex’s comments, sort of like what happened in the movie The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.  Or, have Dr. Sykora’s marriage fail, and she and Dr. Holt slowly, very slowy realize they love each other.

With an abrupt halt to what I think will be a  huge storyline mistake for this show, ending the mamby-pamby plots, and adding the other characters back into the show more,  I am hoping A Gifted Man will be saved and  won’t die a premature death!

Where has the Family Viewing hour gone?

When television began broadcasting shows in earnest, circa early 1950s, many of the programs were family friendly.  The entire family could sit down in the comfort of their living room and watch a television show that made them laugh, that made them think.  TV shows, like Father Knows Best, Leave it to Beaver, My Little Margie, I Love Lucy, are but a few examples of such television fare viewers could expect.

When I was growing up, in the 1970s, there were still family shows where we could all gather and watch a program without being embarrassed by the content.  Little House on the Prairie, The Waltons, The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family.  After the 8:00 hour was done, my brother and I knew cop shows usually reigned supreme, Hawaii 5-0  or Kojak, and then at 10:00, when we were tucked in for the night, more adult programs would be on, like Police Story.

In 2012, no such family hour exists anymore and I don’t know why or when it began to disappear.  Today’s sitcoms, I don’t let my younger children watch them, and if I were to watch them with my parents, I’d  feel very embarrassed.  The major networks have been lamenting for years the loss of viewers to cable.  Maybe  the families  have left, looking for programs worthwhile for a family to view.  I am sure some television executives would simply give out that all too often excuse, “We’re just following the culture”, but I think they aid and abet and influence the culture much more than they give themselves credit for.  If networks want viewers back, then bring back the family viewing hour, with programs that are uplifting and wholesome, and go back to showing the crass and profane at 10:00, when the children are safely tucked in for the night.

Two movies about being a father

My husband and I recently ventured to our church last Sunday evening, for a free showing of the movie, Courageous.  The movie was about a group of four men. Three were police officers, one man a construction worker.   All fathers, all examining themselves at various points in the movie, to see if they were being the best fathers they could be to their children.  Tragedies struck these four men in the course of the movie, and many people in the sanctuary, where the movie was played, were crying, myself and my husband included.  Courageous was a  tear jerker, and it showed the pain and sorrow that people go through when tragedies strike.  One man of the four made a bad decision, and his consequences to come were hinted at near the movie’s end.  It didn’t have a happily forever after ending, but it did have an ending of hope.

I’ve been seeing ads for another movie about a father,  starring George Clooney, called The Descendents.  One evening, I noticed an ad for the movie, and it showed a caring father, trying to do right by his children, as his wife lay comatose in a hospital due to a boating accident.  Near the end of the commercial, I noticed that the movie was rated R.   I wondered why did this movie, about such a sad and serious subject, need an R rating?  The commercial I saw depicted nothing to hint that an R rating was needed.  Being curious, I looked up The Descendents and from my readings, I  found out that it definitely needed the R rating due to the bad language, sexually charged topics, drug and alchohol abuse it depicted.

Hollywood, from articles I have read, hasn’t had a banner year at the box office.  I am sure Red Box, Netflix Streaming, the internet, and ye old video/dvd store have all done their part to chip away at the numbers of people who go to the theatres to see a movie.  However, I also think that if Hollywood would really pay attention to the movies that do better than most at the box office, they would realize that they are the movies that are rated  G, PG, and PG-13.  Courageous, it was recently reported, produced by Sherwood Pictures, has sold more dvds than Moneyball, The Ides of March, and Abduction.   If Hollywood would have made The Descendents without the gratuitous, offensive material, earning it a PG-13 rating, it would probably have done much better at the box office than it has done.  Hollywood, learn a lesson from Sherwood Pictures: gratuitous, offensive language and actions by one’s actors are not needed to convey the theme of a movie!  You just might see a rise in those  box office receipts!  Less R, more G, PG, PG-13, please!

I Voted!

Living in Missouri, we had a chance to vote in a primary yesterday, February 7th, 2012.  I did my civic duty and voted, in my new voting precinct.  It was at a quaint, older church building near the western city limits of Rolla, MO.  The election workers were all friendly, welcoming me in, one gentleman held the front door open for me as I entered.  I could tell from their eagerness to assist me that they must not have had many voters so far that morning.  I proudly handed over my voter registration card that had come in the mail in the early days of December, which is when I finally got my act in gear and got registered.  The card checked out fine, and I signed my name to the voter records book, initialing my current address.  After telling the lady handling the paper ballots which one I wanted, she began to explain how to fill it in so it would be properly read and I stopped her by asking if there were any touch screen machines to vote on?  I explained that in St. Louis County, we had touch screen machines and that is what I was used to voting on.  The election workers proudly smiled and told me to look in a far off corner, there stood the one touch screen voting machine that they had for their voting site!  I smiled and said that, yes, that was what I wanted to vote with, so I was escorted to the machine and I voted.  Afterwards, I was given a “I Voted!” sticker, which I proudly wore to the grocery store, and two of the ladies asked me how did I like Rolla, compared to St. Louis.  I did say that I like Rolla, that it is quieter, and the election workers all laughed at that.  I did say it’s taken my kids a while to adjust to a smaller community.  Every now and then I will hear one of them sigh, lamenting that a mall, or zoo, or museum, or their old friends  are now 2 hours away.  Getting acclimated to a new community can be stressful and fun all at the same time.  Voting in a new community is yet another way of getting to know the area and to feel like one belongs.