Dead Like Me, a series review

One thing I love about the modern way we watch tv is the ability to binge-watch old shows. Can you believe I’d never seen Seinfeld? We sure fixed that now.

Another show we recently binged that took a depressingly short amount of time was Dead Like Me.

Originally a Showtime show, we found it on Amazon Prime. 

Dead like me pic oneThe show centers around an eighteen-year-old girl named George (Ellen Muth). She’s killed by a toilet seat falling out of the sky.

Upon dying, George is chosen to become a Grim Reaper, as the Reaper who took her soul has now moved on. 

On where? No idea, that’s sort of a thing. None of the reapers know what’s waiting on the other side. They just know that they have to take the souls of those who have passed on to where they’re going. 

George is greeted by Rube, played by Mandy Patinkin. He dispenses sticky notes with a first initial, last name, date and time. 

This show was brilliant. We watched both seasons in no time at all. Let me break it down for you.

The show isn’t shy about hitting the hard issues in the first episode. Or any of them. The people who are dying aren’t bad. They’re children, beloved husbands, parents. Innocent, happy people who simply have an appointment.

For example, in the first episode, George has to take the soul of a little girl who dies in a train accident. We also take a good long look at what the loss of a child does to George’s parents. What losing a sister costs her little sister, Reggie.

This isn’t to say this show isn’t also funny as hell. I mean, George is killed by a falling toilet seat. She ends up working at a temp agency because being a grim reaper doesn’t pay. Literally, she’s not getting paid for this gig, and she still needs to do things like eat and pay rent.

Dead Like Me seems to go out of its way to not answer any big questions about the afterlife. The reapers don’t know. They only know that it looks different to every person and it looks fantastic. It’s like that episode of Are you Afraid of The Dark, Station 109.1. Near the end, Roy (played by Gilbert Gottfried) tells the main character that the afterlife is only terrible if you’ve led a bad life.

If you’ve led a good life, it’s the best thing going.” 

One thing that I always like to see is well-written characters. Characters that feel like they could be people walking through my own life. And Dead Like Me hit that on every level.

Not a single character on this show was exactly good, bad or frankly sane. They’ve all go dead like me pic twotheir thing. They’re selfish, lazy, thieving, angry. Nothing is clear, really, about any of them. For example, the darling husband and I watched every episode together, and we couldn’t agree on whether George’s mom is a good woman trying her best, or a self-centered bitch who verbally abused her husband. I consider the fact that two people who tend to think alike on most things were so conflicted by this person.

So, that was all the good. Now, on to what wasn’t so great. 

The show ended after two seasons. And it ended with far too many questions unanswered. I feel I need to warn you now, a lot of questions just don’t get answered. It doesn’t end on this big awful cliffhanger. But you never find out how Rube died. You never find out what happened to Betty when she followed a dead person into the light. You never find out why one dead person turned into a graveling. You just don’t know. You don’t know if Mason ever gets clean if Daisy finds the fulfillment she’s looking for. You just don’t know.

And if you were hoping that the movie was going to answer any of these questions, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.

Let’s talk a little about the movie. Because while it wasn’t Serenity, it wasn’t what it could be.

The story starts with Rube finally getting his last reap and heading into whatever awaits Reapers after they’re done. He’s replaced by a slick Reaper named Kane. He encourages them to break all the rules, including saving people from their death, stealing from the dead and visiting family from their previous lives. Hilarity, and lots of pain, ensues.

But the whole thing is super convoluted and rushed. It was hard to follow everything as it was going so fast. I won’t say the ending wasn’t satisfying. But it wasn’t what it could be.

Would I say it’s not worth watching? Absolutely not. I loved every episode. Do I wish it was more satisfying? Yes, of course. But then, I imagine that George wishes the answers that waited for her after death was more satisfying. So maybe the show did exactly what it was supposed to do.

Carry Dr. King’s lessons into the Lunar New Year

Image by John Hain

Monday ways MLK Day, the day we as a nation set aside to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His lessons on equality of race and economic status, as well as his calls for peace, are ones that we should honor every day, not just once a year. 

Maybe not with a giant gun rally that included several organizations with ties to Neo Nazis. But that’s another issue for another day. 

Tomorrow is Lunar New Year. Also known as Chinese New Year, it’s a celebration of new beginnings, cleaning out the damages of our past and moving forward into a new year. Kind of like the one we just celebrated at the start of this month. If you don’t know, we are leaving the year of the Boar and entering the year of the Rat. 

I love rats. I’ve had several as pets over the years and I can tell you it’s basically like having a really smart puppy you can perch on your shoulder. 

According to Chinese Zodiac, people born under the year of the rat are clever, successful, thrifty and highly likeable. So anyone having a baby this year, get that kid a savings account. They’re also the first animal of the zodiac, so this year also marks the start of the newest cycle. So that’s pretty awesome. (This information curtesy of

I’m bringing these two things up because I think it’s a sign that MLK Day is the same week as the Lunar New Year. And as this is the start of a new decade, and a new 12 year cycle, it seems like a time to make some significant, long term changes in our lives. 

Instead of making a promise to get your finances in order, or start using that gym membership, how about we all make a resolution together?

Let’s make a resolution to carry the lessons of Dr. King into this new cycle. Let’s all make

Image by Adam Clay

an effort to speak up for those around us. Hell, for those around the world who are being persecuted. Let’s speak out against hatred, bigotry. Let’s stop seeing The Other. Let’s work towards seeing everyone as us, not them.


Today, right now, make a list of ways you can be an advocate for your fellow man, to stamp out hatred and foster peace. If we all do that, maybe the next time the Zodiac Wheel turns back to the year of the Rat, we can make Dr. King’s dream a reality. If not now, when?

And now I’d like to leave you with one of my favorite Dr. King Quotes.

If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

A review of Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis

I first heard about Rachel Hollis when I saw the cover of her first book, Girl Wash Your Face. 

That title is a case study in why choosing a good title is so important. Hollis got that title spot on. Of course, I had to find out what this was all about. And of course, I had to read her book.

After reading it I had to get the next one. Because the first one was so great. I did a review of it before, you can read it here.

Now, if you read Girl Wash Your Face, you know that it was half self-help book, half stop apologizing pic twoautobiography. That’s what I would expect from any good self-help book. If someone hasn’t lived through Hell, I don’t believe they can help me get through it.

There wasn’t much of the biography experience in Stop Apologizing. There are little snippets of her life, sure. But not the full-fledged stories like before. That was alright, though. We got all that in book one.

What this book focused on was being, fully, unapologetically you. and you know how I feel about that. I’ve all but removed ‘sorry’ from my vocabulary. Unless I mess up, of course. In the past, I’ve literally apologized when other people ran into me! 

I’m working on it. 

Stop Apologizing is broken into three parts. The first part, and the longest, is the list of lies we tell ourselves to stand in our own way. And, most importantly, why they’re all bullshit. 

I think this is the foundation of any real, honest change you’re going to make in life. Start with weeding out the lies and bad habits. It’s like cleaning, you can’t start until you get rid of the clutter.

Next, we move onto habits to adopt. These are not hard habits, but neither are they easy. For instance, Behavior number five hit me right between the eyes.

Build a foundation for success. 

Mind you, I didn’t start reading this book until I’d already picked out my word of the year. You know, Foundation. So this chapter struck me right between the eyes. I love it when the universe lines up like that for me.

Finally, the last part is skills to acquire. Some of these seem like the sort of thing you’re born with or not, but the truth is that there’s little to nothing you can’t learn. 

I appreciate that the first skill listed is planning. No surprise there, it’s my favorite thing. But guess what? The only reason I’m able to get done what I get done is that I plan shit out. Do you think I could hold down a full-time job, take care of a mother in law recovering from hip surgery, host this blog, work for another blog and still put out at least one book a year if I didn’t have my life planned down to the half-hour? No, never. At least not if I wanted to, you know, sleep. And I do, I really do. Sleep is sacred.

I loved this book, and I hope that Rachel Hollis keeps churning them out. I love following her on social media, and I’m excited to see what comes next.

Did you read Girl, Wash Your Face or Girl, Stop Apologizing? What books have you read so far in 2020? Let us know in the comments below.

The price of war

I often spend time sitting at my local Dunkin, just people watching. I do something I call sketching, but what I mean is writing out little descriptive paragraphs about the people in the place with me. It’s a writing exercise.

There’s a lot of kids, of course, drinking smoothies and soaking up the free wifi. Cops and people stopping in for a coffee before or after work. There are all sorts of people, just looking for a sugar fix.

There are a lot of older men who come in. They get small cups of coffee, and they sit around making conversation with anyone who catches their eye. Many of them are not well. Some are homeless, filthy. Some are just angry. Pretty much at everything.

These men are a common sight in my hometown. They’re Vietnam vets. And once or twice a year they all get together and march in the parade. But between those times, Veterans Day and Memorial Day, we pretty much ignore them. They go into stores, sometimes causing trouble, sometimes just making people uncomfortable.

Not me, though. Well, that’s a lie. I get uncomfortable too. But I do my best to not show it. 

I do my best because these men were sent into a nightmare situation. They came backpablo(2) damaged, in body and mind. The best of them came back with night terrors. The worst of them could be said to not have come back at all. Their bodies did, and they walk around in the world. But their minds are still in the jungle. 

This generation of broken men has surrounded me my whole life. I was taught by them in JR ROTC. I had friends who were the children and grandchildren of them. My first father in law was a Vietnam vet. He once almost planted a knife in his younger son’s throat because he accidentally startled him in the middle of the night. I and many women and men of my generation have sat at the knees of these Veterans and learned well the price of war.

And yet, it never ends. My generation has sent its share of young men and women overseas. One buddy of mine had a panic attack at New Year when people started popping balloons. 

Another one killed himself last year. He left a wife and a bunch of kids. The terror of war finally got to him.

In a few decades, this town will still be full of men walking around, maybe homeless. Maybe just broken. They’ll be from my graduating class of ’05 or later years. We’re too late to change that.

But damn it, if we keep beating the drums of war, we’ll just keep breaking these kids. We’ll weaken generation after generation, not in service to our country but service to the rattling of useless sabers. We aren’t any safer. We’re just poorer.

And the next wave of broken men drinking coffee in Dunkin will be from the graduating class of 2020. 

Join me in helping the people at the American border

Some time ago I wrote a blog post in defense of the immigrants seeking asylum at the American border. 

Seeking asylum isn’t illegal, but they’ve been shoved into cages and forced to exist in inhumane conditions that I, as an American, am ashamed of.

It’s monstrous, and I’ve had enough. I bet you’ve had enough, too. 

That’s why I’m hosting a fundraiser for the groupImmigrant Families Together.

If you haven’t checked out this organization yet, you should. It’s committed to helping immigrants detained at the border post bail, get homes and be reunited with their families. This is work that I want to be involved in.

indexI hope you do too. So I’m hosting a fundraiser for Immigrant Families Together, from January 31st to February 2nd. During that time I’ll be posting a link to donate directly to the organization. 

Of course, I want to thank you for giving to this worthy cause. So, screenshot and send to me the confirmation of your donation, and I’ll send you a free e-copy of any Station 86 book of your choosing. You can do that on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Or, you can just use #PBWIFT on those platforms, and I’ll keep an eye out for you.

Now, the PBW community has never done a fundraiser before, but I bet you guys are going to shine. So I want to set our goal at $1,000 over three days. We can do it, I know we can.

If you feel the same way I do, please share this post, and the social media posts I’ll be doing over the next few weeks. We need to raise awareness not just that there are still people imprisoned at the American border and that there’s something we can do to help.

See you then, have a great day.

Welcome to 2020

Wow, it’s a whole new decade. I needed to just kind of sit with that for a little bit over the last few days, let me just tell you. It’s January third, 2020. It’s the fourth decade change I’ve seen in my life (I was born in 1986). I’ll turn 34 this year, which means I’m clearly in my mid-thirties and not my early thirties. Let me tell you, it’s a sobering prospect.

But that’s neither here nor there. What I really wanted to talk to you about was my word of the year.

Do you do a word of the year? Everyone should. It gives you a target to aim for. It gives you some clarity. Especially if you, like me, tend to put way too much on yourself. Having a word of the year puts things in perspective. What’s the most important thing to do today? Well, what’s my word of the year? Whatever goes toward that, that’s what I do.

In 2019, my word of the year was brave. I was required to be brave for a lot of things in my personal life. There have been some health issues going on, and the whole year’s been a bit of a mess. But I also decided I wanted to be brave about other things. I decided to be brave enough to talk about leaving the Mormon church and converting to Unitarianism. I talked about things going on in the world that were upsetting me. And I had to be brave enough to end my first trilogy and move on to something new. 

It also lead me to apply for a critic job at Horror HTML. By the way, I’m doing five reviews a month over there, if you’re a horror fan. 

Brave was a great word for 2019. But every year is a new chapter and requires new things of us. So for 2020, my word of the year is Foundation.

Here’s what that means to me. As I said, I’m creeping into my mid-thirties now, and I sure as hell don’t want to be in bad shape health-wise when I get older. I also have this bold, audacious dream of buying an RV and traveling around America selling my books and working as a freelance writer. And I want to do it by 2029. So, what I need to do this year is to build a foundation of good health and habits that will allow me to do that.

I need to build a foundation of good eating and exercise habits.

I need to build a foundation of good spending habits.

I need to build a foundation for a more serious writing career. 

I need to build a foundation of minimalism to fit my life into an RV.

I don’t know if I can get healthy in a year. I think I can. I don’t think I’ll be making quit my day job writing money in a year. And I’m sure I can’t go through a lifetime of physical and emotional clutter to leave a lot of things behind. Well, maybe I could leave all the physical things behind. But I’ve got to not collect more things after that. That’s the tricky part. 

So that’s the plan. Build a strong foundation that will lead me to where I want to be in ten years. It’s a little crazy and super scary. But a year of being brave brought me to a better place. Let’s see what a year of building a foundation for the rest of my life can take me.

What about you? What’s your word of the year and why? Let us know in the comments below.

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