Stop Supporting Autism Speaks

2 04 2015

Autism Speaks Do Not Support BoycottMany people, including myself in the past, donate to Autism Speaks thinking that this corporation is the best vehicle to help support autism research and help those families who are financially crippled, who need respite desperately, who had to quit their jobs in order to care for their child, a family who may have gone through divorce because autism is TOO stressful on a marriage, etc. The physical and emotional toll is great on the entire family. Some parents have multiple children with this disease.

In about 2009 or 2010, I started paying attention to the organization that was getting all our hard-earned dollars.

John Elder Robison was the only person with autism on a board at Autism Speaks.  He resigned from the Science and Treatment boards on November 13, 2013. Read his post here. In summary he said that he could no longer be part of an organization who would not listen to his counsel. He felt Autism Speaks needed to be an organization that helped people with autism and not an organization who sought to cure him of something that is his identity. I do whole-heartedly understand this point of view. Autism is a full spectrum disorder. My son lives in a state of hell and is at risk for being abused because he is nonverbal and cannot read or write. Local author Elizabeth Moon, a mother of a person with autism, posed this very dilemma in her book “The Speed of Dark.” If a cure was available, would you take it? I would love my child no matter who he was.  If life could be easier for him, I would give him that cure even if that meant who he now disappeared. I do, however, appreciate that those people with autism who are able to share an opinion on that would not want to be changed.  I respect the feelings of the families of those people who support them.  It doesn’t mean there is a right or wrong point of view; we each have to make a personal decision about our feelings on this matter.

In March of 2015, Autism Speaks invited its 168,000 Twitter followers and 1.5 million Facebook fans to use the hashtag #AutismSpeaks10 to share how “AS has touched your life” to celebrate their 10th anniversary. Instead of receiving gushing responses on how their lives were helped, people with autism and their families took to Twitter to have a word-war with Autism Speaks saying that they don’t want to be cured and that they want their resources to making their lives better and not to “cure” them. In essence, Autism Speaks does not speak for them. Autism Speaks had delusions of grandeur if they expected people to respond because they have not helped many people at all. Autism Speaks helps itself.  Only about 4% of the money you send to them actually goes to help them.

The Judge Rotenberg Center in Massachusetts is under investigation by the Department of Justice and the FDA for the use of torture (see page 84 of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture). The State of Massachusetts and disability rights advocates have been working to shut this facility down. Even despite this information coming to light, Autism Speaks has allowed the facility to recruit new admissions from families seeking resources at their fundraising walks. If you don’t know or remember about this story, here is a clip from it and a link to the 26-minute story of someone who actually previously lived there and the reasons she was given shock treatments.  (The individual has disabled embedding so this link will go directly to her YouTube video).  I am warning you–this video below is awful to watch, but how one can support Autism Speaks when they support this center?

Show Me The Money

In closely examining the 2013 tax return Form 990 and independent financial audit, Autism Speaks took in a whopping $122,141,069. Of that, $15,300,709 went to research (or 12.5% of your money) and of that amount, only 1% goes towards research on the needs of adults with autism. Of that money, $5,532,344 went to projects associated with board members of Autism Speaks (or 36% of all grant money awarded). Families received only $4,631,690 (or 3.79%) of the money you gave to Autism Speaks. Advertising (for more of your dollars) cost you $52,229,994 (or 43% of their budget). Salaries took $18,771,965 of those donate dollars (or 15.3%) and $4,528,226 in benefits and payroll taxes (or 3.7% — as much as they give to families). Thirteen of their board members make six-figure salaries. See pages 9 and 10 on their Form 990 filed with the IRS.
The problem with the Autism Speak walks is that they do not give any of that back to the local communities. Money that people are giving to support people participating in that walk goes to Autism Speaks big machine. With state budgets cutting funding to people with disabilities in general, and is usually one of the first things on the cutting block because of horrible stereotypes of people with disabilities, money you give to Autism Speaks means they might lose those dollars if you only knew about their organizations. Local organizations usually are run by volunteers who draw no salaries and the majority of their resources going directly to helping in some way.

Board members have perks, too, like getting funding from Autism Speaks for their pet autism projects. Per Autism Speaks Financial Report of 2013:   “AS has arrangements to grant a portion of the net proceeds of certain fund-raising events to partners. Amounts representing the partners’ share of net event proceeds as described below are reflected as grants in the accompanying consolidated financial statements.

Event Partner Grants
Speeding for a Cure The Gillen Brewer School — 50% of net proceeds

Atlanta Walk The Marcus Institute — 50% of net proceeds

Phoenix Walk The Southwest Autism Research &  Resource Center (SARRC) — 50% of net proceeds

Westchester/Fairfield Walk Center for Autism and the Developing Brain at New York Presbyterian — 15% of net proceeds

Winter Ball for Autism New York Collaborates for Autism — 50% of net proceeds

The Atlanta Walk had net proceeds of $542,000, 50% of which was granted to The Marcus Institute, the co-founder of which is an AS Board member.

The Westchester/Fairfield Walk had net proceeds of $968,000, 15% of which was granted to the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain at New York Presbyterian. An AS Board member is on the Board of Trustees of New York Presbyterian Hospital.

The Winter Ball for Autism had net proceeds of $2,682,000 in 2013, 50% of which was granted to the New York Collaborates for Autism, the co-founder of which is an AS Board member.

Five members of the Board of Directors of AS and two management employees are affiliated with institutions that received funding from AS. At December 31, 2013, AS had grants payable and commitments to these institutions totaling approximately $5,532,344. During the year ended December 31, 2013, AS’s expenses included approximately $3,669,960 related to awards granted to institutions affiliated with an AS Board member or management employee. Certain members of AS’s Scientific Advisory Committee and Scientific Review Panel, which are involved in the grant appropriation process, are also associated with institutions that receive funding from AS.”

Why You Shouldn’t Light It Up Blue

We have enough “Autism Awareness.” In fact, it has moved into overkill to the point where people roll their eyes when they hear someone say, “My child has autism.” They see a child in a meltdown mode in a store because of some sort of sensory overwhelm and they shake their heads or mumble to another person in the store or share “looks” about bad parenting. People with autism who have the ability to express themselves do not like Autism Speaks. Parents who have had children with autism for awhile have learned about Autism Speaks and will not support them because of their lack of assistance. The “Light It Up Blue” campaign is a direct advertising campaign from Autism Speaks. When you buy a blue bulb from Home Depot, you are supporting them. The co-founder of Home Depot is a board member of Autism Speaks.

I would like to see more “action” come from this organization instead of raising funds to support themselves.

If after all of this information you decide you still want to contribute to Autism Speaks that is your business. All I want to do is inform people so they can make a more informed choice of where their hard-earned money may go.

My son Patrick.

My son Patrick. The center of my universe





A Letter to My Child with Autism on His 18th Birthday

17 12 2013

At 11:57 a.m. on Sunday, December 17, 1995, you came into this world. Your birth was difficult. There were just a few months between 5 months and 14 months where I thought things were ironing themselves out. Life for your young 18 years has been grueling as you tried to navigate a world that overwhelmed you every minute of your waking day. My heart always aches for you. As your mom, I tried my best to try to make it better for you, like a mother putting a Band-Aid on a boo-boo. But your boo-boo is so deep and consuming that the task was just impossible. This was nothing I could fix and that has been the hardest thing for me to accept. I am not sure that I will ever be able to accept that you will not get to experience all the things my friends’ children will–college, a career, a significant other, marriage, children of your own. My faith in God is challenged at every turn. How could a God exist that allows you to suffer so much? God did not do this to you. I think it was a perfect storm of genetic predisposition and human errors. As what happened in my own life, God said, “Okay, this has happened to you–but trust me to find a different path for your journey.” Your path just happened to be through a tropical jungle that required a machete to move forward.

Either the day after you were born or the week after you were born.

Either the day after you were born or the week after you were born.

I have no doubt that we have pursued every avenue that gave you the best chance to overcome your challenges. As my mind tries to focus on all the things you cannot do for yourself, all I need to do is watch the video from Son-Rise when you were 3 years old where all you did was “mantra chant” and turn pages of your book. There was very little eye contact.

I am so proud of all the work you did coming from your world into ours. How scary that must have been for you. I think of the scene from Lord of the Rings where the fellowship crosses the bridge in the Mines of Moria, all the forces around them trying to stop them from crossing.

Autism is the Balrog.  YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!

Autism is the Balrog. YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!

I have described you often as my life teacher. I have thought that I was the conduit to help you achieve whatever your purpose is in this life. If it were not for you, I would not have created the special needs ministry at St. Anthony’s–the countless numbers of people who were helped that may not have been. Your life and struggles have been shared with thousands of people. There is no doubt in my mind that you have influenced some decisions they have made in their own lives. Perhaps they are grateful for things they never thought to be grateful for–like the gift of just eye contact. Because of you, I have met extraordinary people. I have achieved a superhero level of patience. I have become a warrior not only of your rights, but the social justice rights of all people. I have learned not to make judgments of people. I have more compassion. I have always had a survivor’s strength, but your issues caused me to find strength even deeper than I could ever imagine.

Patrick & me at his 16th birthday party.

Patrick & me at his 16th birthday party.

The tears that flow so easily from my eyes today are a mixture of joy and pain. No parent wants to see their children struggle.  I don’t know what our future together looks like, but as long as I breathe, I will do everything I can to make sure you have the best life possible and to help you fulfill your destiny in this lifetime.

The seas may be smooth or rocky, but we will navigate them together.

The seas may be smooth or rocky, but we will navigate them together.

I love you pumpkinator. Happy 18th birthday!

 

 





Series Finale for Touch on Fox

11 05 2013

On Thursday, May 9, 2013, Fox Broadcasting confirmed what we all had been expecting: Touch would not receive a season 3 renewal. Friday, May 10, 2013 would be the series finale.

I think we could see the writing on the wall from the beginning of season 2. It was supposed to be aired in October 2012. Then it got bumped to January of 2013. Then it was pushed to Friday, February 1, 2013. Then it was changed to Friday, February 8, 2013. People in the science fiction community believe the Friday night slot is the place where shows go to get the final nail in the coffin. It was true for Fringe.

There was very sparse advertising for the show’s premiere. The shows the network had more faith in, like The Following, The Mindy Project, Ben and Kate, and New Girl got far more advertising both on-air and with the use of social media.

The first season struggled. Although 12 million viewers tuned in to watch it on Monday, a sweet day in the past for Kiefer Sutherland when he was on “24”, viewership quickly declined and it was moved to Thursday night after Idol, hoping to give it an American Idol bump. Fringe had that same progression. Monday to Thursday to Friday. For years now, people have been critical of the antiquated Nielsen structure to determine number of viewers and to target 18- to 49-year-old men. As a woman, that is really insulting to me. I have as much buying power as my husband, if not more. People have new viewing habits. The days of an actual TV in a home are limited as people go to the internet to watch TV shows now. But the methods advertisers base their rates are still built on the old model. In February, it was reported that Nielsen was going to roll out a new system. It would include people who watch over broadband, XBox, Playstation. Then next phase of the program would include any type of video viewing. It is also adding a new viewing measurement for social media to include people participating in tweeting and those exposed to those tweets (I am thinking this sounds similar to Klout). But it is too late for many of our cult favorites. Fringe would have benefited greatly from the massive fan support on social media.

The story also struggled. The biggest mistake was calling Jake autistic. After the first episode, many of my friends tuned out, turned off by the unrealistic portrayal by Hollywood AGAIN of their beloved children. At first, the show was about finding people who were hurting and help restoring happiness and wholeness to their lives. Shows are often a reflection of the times we live in. I think this is why The Following has had tremendous success–it is a very dark show. Then mid-season, Touch started building into it a mythos that sounded promising but moved a little bit too slow for an audience who needs to be on the edge of their seat an entire show to go out and convert others to watch it. When season 2 was introduced, people who gave up by the end of season 1 did not care to tune back in to see all the wonderful changes that were made. The story pace was quicker. It was building the mythos quicker, resolving things (like finding Amelia) in a timely manner, introducing an element of evil vs. good in the plot. Without a massive campaign saying, “Come try the show out again.”

Shows struggle in their first year to find their footing. I know this is true of Stargate Universe. It came from a franchise that had phenomenal fans and a lengthy history of good ratings, 10 seasons of Stargate SG-1, 5 years of Stargate Atlantis, 2 Stargate DVD movies. With the success of Battlestar Galactica, they wanted to try a storyline they had really wished to pursue on Stargate Atlantis but could not–the heroes were trapped without any way to contact Earth or the original SG-1 team for help. By the end of season 1, Stargate Atlantis knew it needed to connect back to Earth. In Stargate Universe, they used a unique way to do this. There was an active campaign from within the Stargate community to boycott the show and point out all the flaws. Free speech still governs our society and they had the complete freedom to express their opinion. Whether it played as a factor in the ultimate demise of Stargate Universe remains unclear. I do know season 2 of Stargate Universe was better than season 1. Season 2 of Touch was better than season 1.

I was concerned for the finale. In the last episode, Amelia and Jake had been kidnapped after Martin’s car was hit. Would we have a finale where someone’s life hung in the balance, and the viewers would not have resolved whether or not a character would live or die? Would they be endings that would leave us at peace? Would the people in season 2 who were evil or sometimes evil and sometimes good receive justice? Would a new threat be introduced? Would Avram be found or locked away somewhere that we will never know if he is freed?

After watching the show, I have a feeling Tim Kring saw the possibility that this show would not get a season 3, and he decided to write the final episode, giving emotionally invested fans a story to leave in peace. He gave us just that. And the ending was a sweet acknowledgement of the first episode with the same narratives. I did cry at the end. However, it was not like the finale of Farscape where I was so disgusted with the abrupt cancellation and the inability of the writers to give fans a proper ending that I talked about it for years and, in fact, boycotted the network (in my narcissistic narrow world, I thought it would matter) for years, missing out on Stargate SG-1 for quite awhile.

Coming on the heels of hearing of Touch’s demise was the immediate rumors that Fox Broadcasting is now in talks with Kiefer Sutherland about reviving “24” in a “limited fashion.” Some on the internet think it might be a 13-episode series. Some think it might be the movie he was hoping for. For others, they are speculating that a miniseries might work. With the number 13 episodes, I now wonder if they plan for this to be tied in with The Following next year given its phenomenal ratings as that would be about the number of episodes. The first episode could give us background for the new story and then the episodes could still be in a full-day fashion with each episode being: “The following takes place between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.” which would be more realistic in Los Angeles or New York traveling times (or wherever they plan for it to take place). Twelve episodes of 2-hour increments would give us “24”.

And so it goes….another well-written show that goes into our history. I want to thank the cast and crew for producing a type of show I was craving, something I cared deeply about. But in the end, thank you for giving us a happy ending.

TouchbutterflyThankYou





April is Autism ACTION Month

1 04 2013

April is Autism Awareness Month. Phooey. It needs to be Autism ACTION Month. We have had enough awareness. What would help us the most (are you listening Autism Speaks?) is an Autism ACTION month. We need action to help the families who are suffering RIGHT NOW, who are financially crippled, who need respite desperately, who had to quit their jobs in order to care for their child, a family who may have gone through divorce because autism is TOO stressful on a marriage, people who have had to take their children out of private facilities because insurance would no longer cover them, etc. The physical and emotional toll is great on the entire family. Some parents have multiple children with this disease.

Medicine and psychiatry have been debating the causes of autism for more than 60 years now yet we have no concrete answers and the numbers are rising. When people tell me that it is 100% due to better diagnosing, they are right to a SMALL point. But listen up! When Patrick was diagnosed (in the summer of 1997 when it was still 1 in 10,000), when I would say “my child has autism” to people, they would say, “Well what is it? What causes it? I’ve never met anyone with autism before.” Indeed in all of my life up until Patrick was diagnosed, neither had I. Now when I’m out at the mall or in a store, Patrick is not the only person there with autism. I see it. I can pick out the adults and kids who obviously have it; I’m sure there are others I would pick up on if we had a conversation.

If you all are concerned about Social Security going bankrupt by baby boomers, you should be TERRIFIED of what is going to happen when Patrick and all the children behind him grow up and can’t get jobs because schools chose to not educate them. It is the only neurological disease that is not covered by health insurance and we still fight that battle just to try to get our children covered. If they get treatment, many of these children will go on to become taxpaying adults able to hold jobs. If we don’t, they will test the social support system of the government like nobody is ever imagining. The only reason why it is within the realm of psychiatry is because of its psychiatric features. But there are many physical diseases that have psychiatric features.

I am not a fan of Autism Speaks. They are not good stewards of your hard-earned money. Here is a copy of their 2010 tax return. People are generally shocked when they hear me say this because they think Autism Speaks is the gold standard of charities.  Only about 4% of what they get actually helps families. They do not have anyone with autism on their board of directors to help guide them in what people with autism need directly from the people they are supposedly serving. While it is great to use some funds for research for finding the cause, they will never find possible prevention if they are closed off already to some research that does point to vaccines. They lobby in Washington now and they can’t have a cozy relationship with the US Government because the US Government can never admit this. They have to take the party line that vaccines do not cause autism….although there has never been a study that studied the cumulative effect of all these vaccines…and the US Government has been awarding some families who have been harmed by autism under the disguise of encephalopathy which just means damage to the brain. And autism IS damage to the brain. I don’t like some of Autism Speaks advertising either. It offends me.

autspeaks graph

So here are my suggestions for this month:

Wear your blue on April 2, change your light bulbs blue if you want, dye your hair blue if you want. In that moment you can bring awareness.

Then help with action.

Donate to a local group. This way you know your hard-earned money is staying in the community and going directly to help the children because most of the people in these organizations are volunteers. Here are some local groups I can vouch for that will be good stewards of your money:

FEAT-Houston (Families for Effective Autism Treatment): FEAT-Houston is a non-profit organization that provides information and training on treating individuals with autism spectrum disorder using techniques based on applied behavior analysis (ABA). We sponsor workshops, meetings, a newsletter, and regular emails. Our tuition reimbursement and conference stipend programs help support the development of ABA resources in the Greater Houston area and make it possible for more teachers and parents to learn about effective teaching methods for children, teens and adults with autism. We are supported primarily by individual contributions and volunteer efforts.

FEATHouston

F.A.C.E.S.: My son was helped by these people. They gave us a grant that allowed Patrick to stay at his school where we reached a point where we might have had to take him out of Including Kids. The Foundation for Autism Care, Education & Services (FACES) is a non-profit 501c3 foundation founded by Larry and Pat Wallace. It is the mission of FACES to raise funds to directly support and promote education, service and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy for families faced with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The funding for the foundation comes from both public and private party donations, as well as fundraisers involving private individuals and organizations.

FACES

Desperate for Respite: desperate for Respite (dfR) is a non-profit charitable corporation organized exclusively for charitable and community development purposes. Our corporation exists to provide support to caregivers caring for special needs children, dependent adults and their families in the Northwest Houston area, that face the challenges associated of caring for an individual with some level of disability; raising awareness and educating the community by developing relationships and community responsibility for supporting caregivers and their families.

DesperateForRespite

Houston Autism Disability Network: Where Hope Takes Flight! Mission: Information & Resources for Autism Spectrum Disorders & Special Education assistance. Networking meetings for parents & professionals each month, special seminars & annual conference. HADN strives to be a unifying, non-competitive resource for Houston area — in helping to host events and inviting speakers to share their resources & information!

HADN

Autism Society of Greater Austin: The Autism Society’s mission is straightforward: “improve the lives of all affected by autism.” In Central Texas, the Autism Society of Greater Austin strives to achieve this goal in several ways: Advocating for the education and training of parents and professionals involved in the educating and caring for persons with autism; helping develop a better understanding of the challenges of persons with autism and their families by serving as a clearinghouse for information about autism; supporting families and professionals through monthly meetings, workshops, on-line vehicles, and printed material; we also sponsor events that are just for fun–come join us! The Autism Society of Greater Austin is a 501(c)3 organization that depends heavily on donations. Please know that contributions are tax deductible and will be used locally.

AutismSocietyAustin

If money is difficult for you right now, then you can help with your time and talent. If you know a family with a child with autism, offer to babysit for just 2-3 hours. They really need a break. Offer to take the child out with your family on an outing you are doing. Schedule a time to bring lunch over and sit with us for an hour or two and listen to us. We might need to talk about things going on, or perhaps we would prefer to listen to what is going on in your life to keep our minds off of things for awhile. Support legislation that helps autism, which also includes Medicare and Medicaid for those who are adults with autism. Support employers who hire people with autism in their company. There are so many ways you could help in action.

So wear your blue April 2nd and move into action!





Touch Recap: Safety In Numbers

28 05 2012

(A bit behind so I’ll keep these brief so I can be current before the season finale). I thought I’d try writing this up in arcs, but since they are interconnected, it makes that difficult. Also thought I would maybe sum up the last 6 episodes but that was not going to work, so back to the old format.

This episode’s important number was 3287 and what is up with door #6 at the Board and Care?

The opening starts with a reflective thought of evolution, “If a species wants to survive, it has to prove it deserves to.” Jake (David Mazouz) talks about how fire ants can hold onto each other like a living raft waiting for the water to recede and how did that all begin that they knew to do that?

At The Claremont, address 3287, a man (Rob Benedict) places a paper at the door. Another man picks it up. Jake is sitting at the door with the number 6 on it (room 122 on the placard). Jake narrating the dialogue lines: “What if you were the one who knew what needed to be done but you had no words? How do you make the others understand? How do you call for help? ”

We’ve been experiencing this with my son. He is nonverbal. We try a communication system. He seems to have this burst of learning. Then he refuses to use it, and it leaves him. First it was sign language, then others in between, and last year, it was with a program called Proloquo2go (pronounced PRO-LOW-QUO-TWO-GO) for the IPhone/IPad. He seemed to just excel in it, and now he gets agitated whenever we ask him to use it to communicate. He can’t ask for help. All he can do is communicate through behavior. Let’s just say he has been VERY LOUD the last few months.

Back to Touch, Jake places a call to Martin (Kiefer Sutherland) who hears static on the phone but knows Jake needs him. Like a Bat Signal. Martin opens the door to Jake’s room, but he’s gone. They find Jake at door 6. Jake stuffs the paper into Martin’s coat and returns to his room, but gives him direct, sustained eye contact (something Jake does not do). The picture is a dragon.

Martin visits Professor Arthur Teller (Danny Glover). Martin asked if he would spend his life chasing down numbers for Jake. Teller reminded Martin that Jake feels the pain of these threads, real physical pain. The professor warns that Jake has a higher purpose and he won’t be the only one that notices (foreshadow for future episodes).

Meanwhile in Soweto, South Africa, Grace (user name Grace22) (actress Yetide Badaki) takes a career aptitude and placement test (Version 1.6) in her village. Her ID to complete the test is 3287. Baruti (Darrell Luke) tells Grace she needs to leave her friend, Sauda (Khanya Mkhize), and take a job in the city. A young boy watches from the window. The two boys, Thabo (Dante Brown) and Farai (Kwesi Boakye) put a bottle cap in the window. I’m guessing they intend to go back later.

Grace and Sauda in Soweto

The Worldwide Dance Battle is on the TV at the Center and Jake focuses in on it. The audience would be picking a winner.

A woman in a red dress (Olesya Rulin) goes through security at the dance battle. She is supposed to meet someone outside a tent. The security guy (Brett Wagner) is very kind to her.

A taxi hits a homeless woman who we are led to think is Clea’s mom (Taxi 4R21) in front of Martin. The man from the beginning of the show steals a book she has. A nurse comes to attend to the woman (Marci Michelle). Martin runs after him.

It’s Marci Michelle!

Meanwhile the Beastmaster (Stephen “tWitch’ Boss) is on the stage, dancing to “I’m Sexy and I Know It.” I adore tWitch from So You Think You Can Dance. He is among my top 20 favorite dances ever on the show (especially the one with Alex). I digress.

Twitch from So You Think You Can Dance.

Back in Soweto, a violent man named Fumbe (Ike Onuoha) is with Grace’s friend Sauda. Fumbe has beaten her. Grace wants her to leave. Fumbe freaks and strikes Grace to the ground.

Martin catches up with “The Invisible Prince.” He shows Martin that the book is his; the woman stole it from him. The book is similar to what Jake gave Martin in his pocket. The Prince is just like Jake but he can speak and is an adult. He tells Martin, “The dragon is loose.” Was Martin looking at this man concerned that Jake would go insane as he aged?

Martin and The Invisible Prince. Is this Jake’s future fate?

Jake is playing with the red car again. Clea (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is doing RFFC’s with him (applied behavior analysis term for receptive by feature, function, class). She takes the car to try to get Jake to give her eye contact. He grabs the car, giving her a side glance only, and walks downstairs to door 6 again. He slides the car under the door.

The kids in South Africa have aspirations. They want to compete in this internet dance battle.

The Prince is upset that he almost missed changing a light at a corner for a woman to cross without waiting (Kate Fuglei). He then goes and buys a red flower and puts it on the bus bench for a different woman (Janeline Hayes). The Prince pauses in front of The Claremont for a moment before moving on. He tells Martin that he tried to slay the dragon with a magic sword but failed. He offered it to The King and he buried it deep within the Mountain of Clare (I’m guessing The Claremont) behind a wall of stones. The final battle was tonight. Then the two women arrive at their destination together in a building with a red dragon sign on the outside: Morton Starling Finances.

Izumi (Satomi Okuno) and Miyoko (May Miyata) from Japan are at the Coachella Valley festival because The Morticians will be playing. They’ve been in the running thread since the pilot. They converse with the girl in the red dress using a translator app on 2 phones (one translating to English what they said in Japanese; the other translating her English to Japanese). Clever! Apparently the red-dressed girl got stood up by a guy she met online (imagine that). The Morticians will be playing in 15 minutes, so they leave, but one phone is left behind. This is the phone that has been roaming the world since the pilot episode in January.

Izumi and Miyoko from Japan here for the Morticians, and the girl in the red dress.

The women who the Prince was connecting had a conversation at the elevator to which Martin listens. They are plaintiffs in some class-action suit and they are about to settle. They talk about “Roger King” and Martin knows that name. Martin pretends he is representing Roger King to go to the meeting. A journalist, Rush Middleton (Graham Hamilton), who was a former colleague that Martin would request bring him coffee, saw Martin and thought he was there in a journalistic capacity. Martin thinks he can get Roger King to talk, so Rush gives him the address: 3287 Avondale (Just FYI, The Claremont’s real address in NYC is 229 East 12th Street, New York, NY 10003).

Clea asks Sheri (Roxana Brusso) about room 6; Sheri says it is empty. A phone call from 212-920-6922 (reverse white pages says this is a phone number, a landline in the Bronx) comes in to Clea’s phone. It is her mother. When she answers, she is told her mother is in the hospital.

Martin goes to The Claremont. Charlie King (Vince Grant) Roger’s son, tells him Roger is dead. When Martin says, “The Invisible Prince” an open door awaits. The Invisible Prince was a bedtime story that Roger used to tell. The Invisible Prince had to do good deeds in secret or they would not count. Charles says Walt (the Prince) was a genius at numbers and produced a financial system that made Morton Starling billions. Charlie’s son Matt (Elijah Nelson) is also watching the internet dance battle. He was “The Domin8tor”. Because he bowed out of the competition so Charlie and Martin could do some internet research, it led to an opening for 4Soweto. But I’m getting ahead of myself. (Just FYI, the web address on the computer is not a real site). From the “Invisible Prince” story, Charlie says it was the magic sword of truth.

Clea’s mom apparently is schizophrenic (supposedly; I’m wondering if she isn’t like Jake). She asks the nurse if the woman was hit by the taxis near the tracks at Queensboro Plaza. The nurse (Deidrie Henri) says yes. Her mother is in room 5290, but ta-da, it’s not her mother. The woman stole her mother’s phone.

Sheri recognizes Teller at the Board and Care. Teller asks for a tour because he is considering placing a patient there. She obliges a short tour.

Martin finds a box requiring a combination, but Charlie does not know it. The audience knows 3287 will open that lockbox. Documents that were never previously opened are in there–the magic sword of truth. It’s now 5:43 p.m. and Martin has to RUN to get to the New York Herald–16 minutes to go 22 blocks. If this is possible is if this is a north-south street or an east/west avenue in New York City because the lengths are different. A 20-block street equals about a mile. And that’s not counting traffic lights.

Jake begins to hum and catches the attention of Sheri who thinks he is in pain or something. Teller observes. It gets louder. Sauda is being beaten in Soweto and is screaming. Martin is running. Grace rhythmically drugs on a pot. Jake is screaming (to what Clea previously described about her mother screaming when the trains rushed by that scared the crap out of her). The women in Soweto come out with their pots and rhythmically drum in solidarity to support Sauda.

Thabo did not show up, so Farai dances instead. The crowd goes wild. They show room 6 again. The red car gets pushed back out into the hallway. Sheri lied about it being empty.

Walt King wrote a memo showing Morton Starling the flaws in his financial model design and the company exploited it to make millions. Rush does not understand Martin’s intention. Martin replies that it was the same reason he told him to get him coffee everyday–because he knew Rush would be a great reporter. Rush offers Martin a by-line, but Martin refuses, saying it would be their little secret, otherwise it would not count.

The girl in the red dress meets the Beastmaster who just lost to the 10-year-old in the dance competition. They bond over the videos from the cell phone that has traveled the world.

Martin meets up with Walt and tells him they fixed the thread. The Invisible Prince then knights Martin as the Invisible Knight. Martin relays a message that Charlie and his family welcome him to come home any time he wants.

A montage begins: Clea sees the red car in the hallway and knows Sheri lied. Teller creates a file on Jake. The reporter on TV (Craig Stepp) shows that Main Street won out over Wall Street. The 2 women from the lawsuit toast their victory.

The Invisible Prince watches his brother and his family come home to the Mountain of Clare, his face showing the longing to be with them but knowing he has a greater purpose to fulfill. Sauda is taking a computer test to be able to move to the city with Grace and rise above the domestic violence. Martin tucks Jake into his bed donned with red sheets and a comforter of red with white circles (patterns). Clea returns Jake’s red car to him. Clea sees herself in Martin’s actions and promises to be more understanding.

Martin starts a bedtime story for Jake about The Invisible Knight who served The Silent King and together they helped people they did not even know were there. And The Silent King closed his eyes and went to Dreamland.

Jake listens to the The Silent King story.

What I adore about this show is the thoughtfulness they put into providing clues for us. Like the eye contact Jake gave Martin to communicate how important this task was. The running theme of the color red–the car, the flower, the dress, Jake’s sheets/comforter, the red dragon logo on the company’s building. When we were first working with Patrick, we noticed he stopped on the color red of his One Fish, Two Fish book. The group of people working with him asked, “How can we use the color red to help him?” They came up with these thoughts: Use red lipstick so that he will look at your lips when you are speaking. Eat something red (popsicle or lollypop) so he can see movement of the tongue. Use red to put near your eyes so he will give greater eye contact. But I think the show is emphasizing the red string of fate. I wonder if Jakes gets any peace from the pain in the dream state. What I think they can improve upon is uberfans who adored Lost for the same reason: The clues, trying to figure out the larger story. Perhaps they can put more real-life clues into the show. For example, on “24” one of the times they had a cell phone number, fans from 24 actually called the number and got a message from the actors. What if one of the numbers could provide the uberfan with additional exclusive clues that they would not get anywhere else. Lost created a whole web presence built about its mythos. I think the producers of Touch should do the same. It helps us to experience the show on a different level than just viewing. It is about participating and making the global connections.





Celebrity Corner: Comicpalooza Houston 2012

27 05 2012

By Hilda Clark Bowen

Compicpalooza2012

Expecting 15,000 people this weekend, Comicpalooza’s mission “is to provide the best and biggest annual multi-format pop culture convention in the southwest region of the United States, serving not only the fans of comics, science fiction, fantasy, video and table top gaming, anime, music and film, but also as a trade show and showcase for the studios, publishers, and manufacturers in those industries.” Now in its fourth year, it is still showing some growing pains. People were complaining about the length of the line just to buy tickets to get in. Some were complaining of the disorganization of lines for people with prepaid tickets versus those waiting to get in versus those with VIP passes. While some truth may be in those statements, coming this far in 4 short years is phenomenal. The community needs to continue to support this group by attending and by providing them with some constructive feedback.

Last year I found out quite unexpectedly that Houston had its own convention. Here I was spending money to go out of town when I could support a wonderful event in my own backyard. On my Twitter feed, some in the Houston, Texas area did not know it was going on this weekend. It’s not too late. There is one more day. Let’s spread the word for next year. Memorial Day weekend seems to be the date, much like Dragon*Con is over the Labor Day weekend.

This was my second convention. Last year I attended Women of Sci-Fi in Plano, Texas. When I saw how empty the convention center was (because I lucked out and got in the right line at the right time), I immediately went to work on my new collection of pictures. I got the most important things done first. I wanted to tell the people who affected my life in some way over the years how much I appreciated them. Why the urgency? I did this because my 16-year-old son, Patrick, who is severely affected with autism and other disabilities, was having an enormous amount of difficulty lately. Being nonverbal, he is really unable to share with us what is wrong–like if he has a headache, stomachache, etc. The last 3 days have been rough. His communication comes out in the form of behavior and not the good kind. I was unsure if our respite care worker was going to be calling for us to come home, or worse yet, that he had a seizure, which might also account for his behavior of late.

And you wonder how a cute kid like that can go from Gizmo to Stripe in a matter of 30 minutes? The pretty lady on the left was his teacher this past year (she actually stayed an extra year to work with him–isn’t that sweet?)

First stop was to Christopher Judge. Stargate has had a profound impact on my life. I was a bitter Farscape fan, pissed off that the SciFi Channel (now Syfy) cancelled Farscape to take Stargate from Showtime. Thinking that my boycotting the channel would make any difference whatsoever, my narcissism prevented me from discovering a terrific show for years. Yes, years. When my 500+ satellite channel offering one evening revealed NOTHING ELSE to be on, I started turning it to this show for “background noise” while I was working. I don’t remember which story it was, but I remember one show caught my attention, and slowly melted the bitterness in my heart. I caught up on all the episodes pretty quickly.  On March 25, 2009, I joined Twitter because Stargate Universe was in production and Joe Mallozzi said on his blog that David Blue was there. I wanted to be able to hear all the details about the new show, so I joined. The rest is history. I have made more than 165 Stargate-fan connections, have met some of these people, and some of them have become a tremendous support system for my personal life.

Christopher Judge

Turning the corner, Rachel Luttrell from Stargate Atlantis was not there yet, but Richard Hatch was. I became a fan of his at the tender age of 7 or 8. We were living in Hillside, New Jersey at the time and my sisters and I would come home from elementary school for lunch (you know, back in the OLD days). “All My Children” happened to be on. There were no DVRs let alone VCRs so if you weren’t live-viewing, you missed it. My sisters needed to use my body as an antenna to get better reception because the rabbit ears with the rotary dial weren’t working all too well. They were cruel to me like that. Yes, I cried when they said Philip Brent died in Vietnam, making the war as real as it possibly could to a child that age.  I grieved with Tara Martin grieving for Philip.  Flash forward to 1979 when the original Battlestar Galactica became one of the most ambitious shows of that time with these amazing visual effects that rivaled Star Wars (Episode IV). I had split crushes on both Apollo and Starbuck, Apollo the hero figure, Starbuck the beginning of my attraction to bad boys. My foster father would often threaten me that I would not be allowed to watch it unless I did XYZ. That’s behavior modification at its finest–immediate compliance. However, he thought that was quite funny, so the list of XYZ things I had to accomplish in order to watch the show bordered on the absurd. The editor in me noticed that Comicpalooza misspelled “Galactica” as “Galatica” on his sign and he made me laugh as he tried to climb the chair to fix the mistake. No one was more thrilled when he signed on to the reimagined Battlestar Galactica as Tom Zarek, a character with so many dimensions. It was thrilling to see the evolution of his career from Philip Brent to Tom Zarek.

Hilda Bowen (a.k.a. PBMom) and Richard Hatch

Another iconic figure for me has been Claudia Christian, whose portrayal of Commander Susan Ivanova on Babylon 5 secured a place in annals of role models for women in science fiction. My sister turned me onto the show. Seasons 2-4 were my favorites. I sobbed during the Shiva scene; I felt my heart break when Marcus died (Oops! Spoiler alert.)  Chills went up my spine when she said, “Who am I? I am Susan Ivanova, Commander. Daughter of Andre and Sophie Ivanova. I am the right hand of vengeance and the boot that is going to kick your sorry ass all the way back to Earth, sweetheart! I am death incarnate, and the last living thing that you will ever see. God sent me.” I thought of this dialogue every time I battled the school district to get my son the services he needed. As we chatted, I learned new things about her, totally oblivious to the line that was forming behind me. She has a CD out “Once Upon A Time” which I bought. Her new book, Babylon Confidential is expected out November 6, 2012, a biography of her life which I am eager to read. Click on that link to preorder your copy now. There are free excerpts available and more will be emailed to you per the instructions on that page. I find it ironic that she discovered “The Sinclair Method” that helped her overcome her addictions (and maybe I’m watching Touch on Fox a bit too much looking for connections).

ClaudiaChristian

Claudia Christian of Babylon 5 with her new book coming out November 6, 2012 called “Babylon Confidential.” About a journey in her own life. Links are in the body of the report.

I backtracked to Rachel Luttrell who was looking lovely and was pregnant (which I did not even notice until the panel later in the day). Here was yet another woman who was able to be a powerful female lead without becoming too Ripley-like. We talked about her trip to Berlin and discussed why she is not on Twitter more!  Ivon Bartok’s Captain Starship was discussed.  It was such a pleasure to meet her, and obvious what I said above about Stargate applies to her as well and all the connections I have made. Conscious of the line forming behind me, I took her picture and then left.

Rachell Lutrell

Another picture of Rachel in the Raw

Last stop was to Michael Biehn and Jennifer Blanc-Biehn who are here to promote The Victim, a new psychological thriller coming this fall. Read more about it at the link and follow their links on Twitter.  

Finally we were off to meet my Twitter friend @etee and his family.  We are known to each other from having pithy Tweet-Ups about American Idol and other shows.  He is as funny face-to-face as he is on Twitter.  Although social media is the norm these days, face-to-face interaction is still required to make those connections complete.  His face will remain mysterious since he did not one taken of him (at least he thinks there wasn’t).  Snicker, snicker.  I would not do that to him.  I always get permission.  He will be blogging for Tubular TV soon.

Throughout the day, people passed by that had some wonderful outfits. Here are some of my favorites:

The best way to look “In cognito” would be to look like Johnny Deep in a costume. Maybe Johnny does that all the time. He is a dead ringer for him. Dead Ringer? Will that be the name of the Pirates 5 movie? Pirates of the Caribbean:  Dead Ringer.  I call Trademark.

Only in a Fringe Alt Star Wars universe where the world has gone mad and Elmo giggled too much.

The first panel was Babylon 5 with Claudia Christian and Julie Caitlin Brown (Na’Toth). Without any introductions from Comicpalooza staff, they jumped into things. When they discovered that the audience would have difficulty asking questions, Claudia handed her microphone over to the volunteer for people to come up and ask. (Note to Comicpalooza: Have microphone stands with a microphone in the middle of the row for people coming up to ask questions next year). Their panel was supremely entertaining. Having only been to two conventions in my lifetime, I had not heard the story of the psychofan who actually shot Claudia during one convention (and she didn’t press charges!). I have their panel on video and will put it up on YouTube soon, as soon as I chop it down into smaller segments. Caitlin Brown shared how she got the role of Na’Toth.

Claudia Christian and Julie Caitlin Brown of Babylon 5

My husband and I decided to head over to Hilton Americas to have lunch at The Cafe. At mid-meal we looked up and Claudia and Caitlin were coming to eat. I waved as they passed our table. After hearing that story, I was thinking in the back of my head–okay, not stalking–we were here first. We finished our meal and departed, stopping at the bathrooms on the way. I guess when I came out of the bathroom Claudia had already come in, but I was outside the men’s room waiting for Jeff. When she came out, still having the stalker story fresh in my head, and made sure to comment that husbands complain about their wives that take so long in the bathroom. The story about the psychofan was terrifying. I admire her bravery because if I had been in her shoes, I likely would never attend a convention again. People do not understand the concept of boundaries.

We saw some more great outfits. I took more pictures, but I think my camera had a malfunction.

Lizzie and Jennifer

James and Magi

Maicie Rawlings. Love her hair color, costume, ink and smile.

The Stargate panel with Rachel Luttrell and Christopher Judge was at 3 p.m. but a line had already formed long before to get in. While sitting in the 2nd row, I noticed a young lady with a uniform on in the front row and asked her if that was an authentic Stargate uniform. Nope. It was the real deal. Her name was Nathalie (last name withheld for her safety) and she was recently commissioned into the Air Force. I hope she felt like a rock star at that moment because I was deeply humbled by her. With Memorial Day weekend upon us, and although I know it is a day we are supposed to remember the service men and women who died to protect us and serve us, I think we should never forget those who are putting themselves in harm’s way now and in the future. The awe I felt and the gratitude–I don’t even remember the fumbling babble that came out of my mouth. I wanted to put my arms around her and give her a hug (because I’m a hugger), but I did not want to freak her out. Claudia’s psychofan story reminded me of boundaries. God Bless You, Nathalie (if you are reading this).

The real deal. Newly commissioned Air Force. Thank you Nathalie for serving. I will keep you in my heart and prayers, always.

The line had become long for questions. There is a great love for Stargate here in Houston.

Once again there was an issue with the microphone in the audience. This time the staff came up with a third microphone and people were able to line up to ask questions. My question was, “I’m a regular on Joe Mallozzi’s blog, and he talks a LOT about all of you. This is your chance. Do you have any secrets you want to out about HIM?” And boy did they let off some steam (just joking). If you follow his blog, and you should, then everything they said about him you already know. Rachel treated us to some of talented vocals.

Lighting here not good; Chris & Rachel’s panel

It was ice cream time. While standing in line, a man and his son walked up behind us and while it seemed 99% apparent to me that his son had autism, I mouthed the words to him so as not to embarrass his son if that were not the case. We started talking about autism and Patrick and our experience and his family’s experience. An hour flew by quickly. As if he left, I told him that some things in life were not coincidence and I think we were meant to meet. I gave him my email address and I hope I’ll hear from him. I really need to stop watching Touch on Fox (doubtful).

It was about 5:15 and time for us to head home after a long day. Comicpalooza is still here tomorrow, Sunday, May 27 including Lasertag with the stars for charity and sword training with Nick Gillard of Star Wars (extra fee).

Thanks for doing all this, Comicpalooza.  See you next year.  Written transcripts will be posted soon as well partial video of the panels.  I thank you for stopping by and enjoying the details.  Before next year, I WILL have size 6 or 6-1/2 combat boots to wear with my Stargate Universe uniform.

Cover Art of program: 

The back cover of the program book.

The creative page of the program booklet. I was impressed with this.





Local Gala Supporting Area Children with Autism A Success

28 04 2012

By Hilda Clark Bowen

With 2008 figures recently released by the Centers for Disease Control that autism is occurring now in 1 out of 88 children, and with April being Autism Awareness Month, the 6th Annual Boots and Bling Gala on Saturday, April 14, 2012, spread the message that “we are all in this together.” Hosted by The Woodlands Resort and Conference Center and generously sponsored by Altus and ZT Wealth, Including Kids, Inc., a 501(c) 3 organization, was able to raise approximately $160,000, all of which will go towards supporting Houston-area children with autism and other developmental disabilities realize their full potential through their full-time intensive one-on-one program, multiple inclusion programs, after-school tutoring, free community outreach and developmental programs, free parent training, sibling support groups and so much more.

There was something for every one of the 300 attendees. The classrooms created baskets for silent auction to compete for a paid lunch off campus. Fun games qualified winners for a variety of prizes. Busy bid boards hosted a large array of varied packages.

Busy bid boards

The live auction items included unique trips and dinners, but it was a video message from actor Mario Lopez (click here to see his video to our guests inviting gala attendees to be generous in their bidding to spend a fun day with him during taping of the show “Extra” that met with not only loud enthusiasm, but also a very high bid. State Representative Dan Huberty offered dinner at The Veranda for another high bidder. Pat and Ray’s Studio provided pictures of the children in their boots and bling.

Teacher Courtney Simon and student Patrick Bowen, courtesy of Pat and Ray's Studio

Including Kids could not be successful without the support of its generous sponsors and donors. Emcee for the evening was the wonderful Dean Ryan of Insperity. In attendance were ZT Wealth’s Kraig Killough and his wife, Mary, who brought along Houston Texans Chester Pitts and LaToya Hutchins. Also in attendance were Innovative Solutions, Clint Fowler, and his wife Jamie, Insperity’s Corrin Price and her husband Joe, Clint and Christle Johnson, Mark and Allison Elliott and Including Kids board members. All showed their altruistic support of Including Kids through sponsorships, auction purchases and donations. Enthusiastic volunteers from Best Buy extended a helping hand to ensure everyone had a good time.

(L to R) Clint & Kathy Fowler, Kraig Killough, Jennifer Dantzler, Sounia Sememar

The Woodlands residents: Jean Paul & Wendy Buisine, and Michelle & Gordon Dobson (also Board members of Including Kids)

As Jennifer Dantzler, BCBA, M.S.Ed., Executive Director of Including Kids, addressed the crowd, things turned quite emotional. She thanked not only the people who support the school, but also the parents who entrust their children to her and her staff. A slide-show of accomplishments of the children followed. Guest speaker, Dr. Heather Harnett, shared their family’s journey into the world of autism. Because of Including Kids, her daughter has graduated and is now attending regular kindergarten where she is about to perform a solo singing part in a play. By the end of her speech, there was not a dry eye left in the audience.

Dr. Heather Harnett, keynote speaker

“For every child, time is of the essence,” according to Jennifer Dantzler. “We know the earlier the intervention, the more favorable the outcome. However, we have also seen amazing strides from children as old as 14 years of age who had no previous intensive intervention. We encourage you to check out our website at http://www.includingkids.org to learn more about our programs.”

About Including Kids, Inc.

The mission of Including Kids, Inc. is to provide educational and therapeutic instruction using the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis for children with autism and other related disorders endeavoring to facilitate their inclusion in the community and inspire them to become productive citizens.

Additional Photos

The Woodlands businessman, Mike Norat, and his wife, Glicel

The Woodlands residents Jeffrey & Hilda Bowen

Best Buy volunteers helped make the night fun.