Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Last week on General Hospital, Alexis took it upon herself to run a DNA test proving that Olivia’s newly adopted son, Mateo, was actually Leo, the baby Olivia gave birth to and claimed died a dew months earlier. Olivia spun her lie because Leo’s father, Julian (currently Alexis’ boyfriend), is a well-known mobster, and after hiding her first-born son, Dante, from his mobster daddy, Sonny, Olivia knows only one way to parent (not getting pregnant by mobsters was apparently never considered as an option).

However, Alexis (who, once upon a time hid her own daughter, Kristina, from her father, the aforementioned Sonny, for the exact same reason that Olivia was now hiding Leo from Julian, and even used the same man, Ned, to pretend to be the dad) decided that since Julian swore he was out of the mob these days, it was perfectly safe for him to co-parent Leo. And it was her job to make that happen. This is the same Alexis who goes around incessantly reminding anyone who’ll listen (and many who won’t) that she is a strong, independent, infinitely admirable woman who needs a man the way a fish needs a bicycle, power to feminism, girl power, et. al…. But when it came to choosing between her fellow woman, Olivia, currently in the exact same predicament Alexis once found herself in and making the exact same choice, and Julian – who has really, really nice abs and is willing to give Alexis the time of day – guess who came out on top?

So there’s no question about it. Alexis is the worst.

But Olivia is also an idiot. Claim your infant is dead, then show up a few weeks later with a tot the exact same age he would have been whom you claim you adopted? Seriously? Odds are even baby Leo/Mateo didn’t fall for that bit of chicanery.

Then again, Olivia isn’t the first soap-opera heroine to come up with that brilliantly diabolical scheme. Check out five of her historical foremothers from Days of Our Lives, As the World Turns, All My Children, Guiding Light, and Another World at "Entertainment Weekly," here.

Monday, October 26, 2015


Episode #6 of my "Accepted! Secrets of NYC School Admissions" podcast is called "It's About Time."

In it, I talk about what parents need to do if they want to accelerate their child a grade, and if they want to hold them back a grade (especially relevant to those with fall birthday kids, which means they'd have to start public school Kindergarten before turning 5). I also give a month by month timeline of everything you should be doing starting now all the way through September 2016.

Of course, the NYC Department of Education being the NYC Department of Education, they've already changed one deadline since this podcast was recorded. Kindergarten Connect will now open December 7, 2015, close January 15, 2016, and placement offers are promised for March.

Don't know what Kindergarten Connect is or why those new dates are important? Then you can't miss this latest instalment. Just click on the image below to listen.

And to listen to previous podcasts on subjects like Gifted & Talented testing and prep, private school, Hunter College Elementary, dual language programs, unzoned schools, and more, click here:

Finally, excited to announce that my next, FREE, open to the public, "Getting Into NYC Kindergarten" workshop will be at Wyatt Lily on Wednesday, November 4 at 6 pm. Register by emailing me at:

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


Baby rabies is running rabid all over The Bold & The Beautiful this month, as not only is Caroline, a young, healthy, 20something woman with presumably plenty of time to reproduce suddenly obsessed with getting pregnant the minute she and her much older husband tie the knot (be careful what you wish for Caroline; she is pregnant… with her stepson’s child), but now the newlywed Maya and Rick are chomping at the baby-making bit.

The fly in the ointment there is that transgender Maya can’t conceive a child. Rick is fine with adoption. “We might get a baby by Christmas!” he gushed, probably already planning to order one online, down to specifying gender, hair and eye color (he’s very rich; he’s used to excellent customer service). But Maya wants a baby that’s biologically related to them both. She suggests that her younger sister, Nicole, be their surrogate. Nicole’s boyfriend, Zende, isn’t feeling generous about sharing Nicole’s body for a year or more with some other couple, and, very reasonably, suggests Nicole merely donate her eggs, and Rick and Maya can hire a gestational surrogate to do the heavy lifting. Nope. Maya wants Nicole to carry the baby, too. For quality control, presumably. As of last week, Nicole is in.

How can this possibly go wrong?

Well, as it’s a soap, let us count the ways with Entertainment Weekly (and General Hospital, and Days of Our Lives, and All My Children, and Guiding Light, and more) here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Last week, Days of Our Lives hit a trifecta of Entertainment Weekly Community soap tropes:

Serial Killers: All soaps love their serial killers when it comes time to prune a bloated (and presumably overpaid) cast. But none more so than DOOL. To date, we’ve had the Salem Strangler, the Salem Slasher, the Riverfront Killer (narrowed down to one neighborhood), the Coronation Massacre (narrowed down to one room), the Salem Stalker (back to citywide killing!) and now, the Necktie Killer. He kills! With neckties! (Though, technically, won’t that also qualify him for Salem Strangler status? It’s like the show has come full, deadly circle just in time for its 50th anniversary in November!)

Killing Off Soap Opera Legacy Characters for Shock Value: The Necktie Killer’s first victim was Serena, a relative newcomer to Salem who added a nice splash of red hair and cleavage, but really wasn’t too important to the canvas. His next victim, though, was Paige, a legacy character. Daughter of Eve, granddaughter of Shane, stepdaughter of Kim, who was a member of the core, Brady family. Paige had also been involved in an on-again/off-again romance with JJ, a member of the core Horton family. It was a relationship that could have been salvaged – or at least provided angst for many more years to come – once Paige got over JJ’s teeny, weenie bad judgment of sleeping withPaige’s mother. But now, DOOL has killed off Will (or has it? It is a soap, after all, who wants to bet Stefano has whisked Will off for a dose of the same magic, reviving elixir he slipped EJ?). Will was a character viewers saw born on the air in 1995, the son of master schemer Sami and her sometime partner in crime, Lucas. Will was a Brady and a Horton. He played the show’s first major coming out story, was part of its first gay wedding (and first gay extramarital affair). He was the definition of a legacy character that the audience had invested 20 years into watching. And now he’s been (presumably) killed off for… what?

Soap Opera Murder Mysteries Where the Non-Contract PlayerDid It: OK. So, technically, Robert Scott Wilson, who plays the Necktie Killer, himself, has been on-contract since January of 2014, when he began taping (though he didn’t air until May). But his character, Ben, isn’t too firmly connected to the canvas beyond his engagement to Abigail and (current) fatherhood of her unborn baby (again, it’s a soap, anything could still happen). There’s also Ben’s shifty dad, Clyde, played by the Not Patrick Swayze half of 1980s mega-miniseries, North & South. But Clyde isn’t too important either.

Continue reading at Entertainment Weekly, here.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015


A lot happened last week on Days of Our Lives. Nicole and Kate exchanged bitchy remarks, Eve mourned Paige, and Ben was revealed to be the Necktie Killer (we’ll deal with that out-of-the-blue disclosure in another post). But perhaps the most powerful scene was also one of the simplest.

Bad girl Teresa is trying to mend her wicked, wicked ways, both for the sake of her infant son, Tate, and also possibly to attract Tate’s daddy, Brady. Up next on the 2016 Transform Teresa agenda? Dump Anne, the BFF who schemed with Teresa and always had her back… but who Teresa now thinks is a bad influence on her.

Teresa dumping Anne was as brutal of a scene as any romantic couple break-up, and it begs the question of why soaps, a medium initially created by women for women (how many genres can say that?) pay so little attention to the inherently dramatic subject of women’s friendships. (Read about my attempt to pitch exactly that story to TPTB, here.)

Male friendships, we have plenty of. Right now, on the very same DOOL, viewers are seeing the pay-off of an on-screen, on-and-off friendship of over 30 years. Viewers first met Steve “Patch” Johnson in 1985. They soon learned that he and Bo Brady had been best friends in the merchant marine, until a fight over a woman named Brita led to Bo putting Steve’s eye out (and this is why you shouldn’t play with knives, kids, even in the merchant marine). After much 80’s-era angst and location shoots, Bo and Steve patched (ha!) things up. Now, Bo is being held prisoner somewhere by somebody for some reason, and it’s Steve to the rescue!  Bromance powers, activate!

Meanwhile, the women of DOOL… eh. They’re friends, I guess. But nobody’s rescuing anybody from any prisons. And if women are involved in a front-burner friendship, it’s usually (sometimes platonically, sometimes not so much) with a man. (See: General Hospital’s Carly and Jason, Guiding Light’s Maureen and Roger, As the World Turns’ Katie and Henry, and Another World’s Felicia and Cass.)

Check out three of our favorite soap-opera friendships, here, and share yours in the comments!

Tuesday, October 06, 2015


From my NY Frugal Family Examiner review:

Fashion Academy: The Musical tells the story of Mickey, who wins a scholarship to attend The Fashion Academy of Brooklyn a.k.a. FAB (warning: Not a real thing). Once she arrives, though, Mickey learns that what may have been cutting-edge back in Philadelphia, just doesn't play on the dazzling and divine streets of NYC. She is mocked by the school's top fashionista, and by it's most divo teacher, Mr. Stichman. At which point Mickey declares that she doesn't care what other people think, she designs for herself. A rather odd mindset for someone determined to succeed in a field where others' opinions basically make or break a clothing line.

JC, a fellow student whose own goal is to design clothes "for small dogs with big personalities," offers to help Mickey change her look by presenting Madonna and her endless ability to re-brand as inspiration. (At one point, he performs a number while rolling about on the stage wrapped in white tulle, crawling and laying on his back, holding a pretend microphone. An obvious gag for the parents in the audience). The makeover is a hit and Mickey is suddenly popular (proving the point about the opinions of others being key for the fashion world). Yet Mickey still despairs that she was an outcast back home who thought she would find her people in New York City. Said people, though, also reject her unless she pretends to be someone else. What's a girl who thinks she's terrific and it's everyone else who is always wrong to do?

Want to know how this story ends? Then enter to win 4 FREE tickets to Fashion Academy: The Musical, playing through October 31 on the Upper West Side of Manhattan (learn more at the link above).

Just email with the words Fashion Academy Tickets in the subject line. Winner will be drawn on Friday, October 9, 2015.

Monday, October 05, 2015


You can exceed expectations by providing a special touch customers don’t anticipate when making their initial purchase. Alina Adams, author of “Getting into NYC Kindergarten” (sold exclusively online), keeps a mailing list of her customers, “where, for no cost, I update my clients on any changes in the NYC kindergarten admissions process as they happen, remind them of deadlines, and let them know of any new school options.”

This approach, Adams says, “shows that I care and want them to succeed … and that I’m there to offer support for as long as they may need it.”

Read more tips at:

Thursday, October 01, 2015


In 1986, the return of Patrick Duffy as Bobby helped Dallas win its first head-to-head skirmish with hip, Technicolor rival, Miami Vice, and the prime-time soap continued to dominate for the duration of the season and beyond.

Now, almost 30 years later, Don Johnson, who once made America safe for neon blazers and shoes without socks, returns to TV with a primetime soap of his own, Blood & Oil, which debuted on ABC on Sunday, September 27.

The last time more than one sudser lorded over the Nielson ratings was from 1982 to 1986, when Dallas and Dynasty both made the top 10, and Knots Landing rounded out the Top 20 (the aforementioned Miami Vice relegated time-slot competitor Falcon Crest to #24).

From 1982 to 1986, the US unemployment rate ranged from 8.6% to 6.7%, with a high of 10.4% in 1983. In 1983, Dallas was #1, Dynasty was #3, and Falcon Crest #8.

In other words, the poorer Americans feel, the more they want to watch rich people.

In August, America’s unemployment rate was 5.1%. So how does that bode for Blood & Oil?

We would say not well. Except for one key factor: A little show called Empire.

Primetime soaps came roaring back with a vengeance last year, thanks to this music-world set melodrama. And lest you think Blood & Oil isn’t aware of that, can you think of another reason why their promos highlighted the word EMPIRE in block, gold letters?

But there are two, very significant differences between Blood & Oil, and Empire. Find out what they are at: