Tuesday, May 24, 2005

ADHD: What It Is, What It Isn't

ADHD.

The term rolls off the tongues of anxious parents, doctors and educators with practiced ease, yet its meaning and affect on children is widely misunderstood. That’s partly because research is still homing in on the disorder—really a big basket of symptoms. Some researchers think this basket contains several different disorders. Adding to the misunderstanding, ADHD (Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder) is often blamed when anxiety, depression or the frustration of a learning disorder is what’s really wrong.

Because educators and doctors may share in the confusion, warns Larry B. Silver, psychiatrist and author of Dr. Larry Silver's Advice to Parents on ADHD, parents have to be strong advocates for their kids. “You have to go in knowledgeable enough to educate your family doctor.”

What to look for

Estimates on the numbers of school age children with the disorder range from 3% to 7%. Is your child one of them? The first step in finding out is to educate yourself about ADHD (ADD is an outdated term). Russell A. Barkley, a psychologist and author of Taking Charge of ADHD: The Complete, Authoritative Guide for Parents, describes the three hallmark symptoms of ADHD; however not every person with ADHD displays all the symptoms:

Hyperactivity, impulsiveness: Think of kids popping out of classroom seats or fidgeting, constantly tapping their fingers and toes—constantly subject to more motor activity than normal. Impulsiveness means they lack the ability to think before acting or speaking.

Distractibility: Kids who have trouble ignoring unimportant sights or sounds. Any noise—birdsong or a car motor outside, what have you—distracts. Some kids over-respond to visual distractions. Say you tell Julie to get dressed, but when you check on her 15 minutes later she’s moved on to something else and has forgotten all about needing to get dressed. These kids can’t follow through from minute to minute.

Trouble focusing: These kids can’t process information quickly. They’re confused by complexity, day dream, can’t attend to the task at hand, are spacey or foggy.


The types—and a big exception

To make a diagnosis, professionals follow the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, which defines three broad types of ADHD:

Combined hyperactive and attention deficit—most ADHD kids are in this category

Predominately inattentive (without significant hyperactivity)

Predominately hyperactive-impulsive (without, at least at this stage of their development, an attention deficit)

These categories weren’t developed by scientists, but were created to help organize symptoms for diagnosis and insurance reimbursement, says Barkley. That’s why there’s a lot of similarity. For the most part, the differences among these types are in the degree or number of symptoms—often because of the age or developmental stage of the child. Kids usually outgrow hyperactivity, but may still be inattentive in school or at home.

There is one big exception. Researchers found that some ADHD children in the “predominately inattentive” category are quite different from all others. In Barkley’s opinion, these kids don’t really have ADHD, but another little-explored disorder. It’s called “sluggish cognitive tempo disorder,” or SCT (sometimes referred to as “ADHD without much hyperactivity: predominantly inattentive type”), though this type still falls under the ADHD umbrella.

What is—and isn’t—ADHD?

Obviously, not everyone who has trouble sitting still and paying attention has ADHD. In fact, according to Silver, the most common cause of those symptoms is anxiety. Second is depression, and third is frustration, often from learning disabilities. (Half those with ADHD have a learning disability, too.)

ADHD is, statistically, only the fourth most common cause of hyperactivity, inattentiveness and impulsiveness, says Silver, who also wrote The Misunderstood Child: A Guide for Parents of Children With Learning Disabilities.

Luckily, identifying the disorder isn’t difficult, but it takes effort. Often parents must push for a thoughtful, thorough evaluation. “There are too many clinicians who forget that there are many reasons for the behaviors,” Silver says. “Often what we do is put them on medication and sit back. They can pay attention, but that doesn’t deal with the learning disability.”

Here’s how to distinguish: With its genetic component, ADHD appears at an early age. Kids have been hyperactive, distracted or had trouble focusing since they were small. Their problems happen in school and on vacation, with friends, with family or when they’re alone. Anxiety, depression and situational frustration, however, are linked to an event (when a child starts first grade, say, or when parents separate or a beloved grandma dies) or to certain circumstances (in class but not at home, or while doing homework but not during baseball practice).

“Parents have to be informed consumers and assertive advocates,” Silver says. “It’s the same with school. If the kid’s not learning, you’ve got to go in and say, ‘They are blaming the victim.’ I have yet, in 35 years in practice, to find the first kid who doesn’t want to please their parents and teachers. So, if they are not, there has got to be a reason.’ ”

ADHD Types, Symptoms and Treatment

Understanding the types of ADHD is crucial to getting the right treatment for your child. The following chart outlines the three main types of ADHD. The second and third columns describe the symptoms, such as ability to focus and hyperactivity. The fourth column briefly discusses suggested treatment.

Understanding therapy options

Psychotherapy provides a patient with unconditional support from a therapist. It often delves into the past for reasons why a child has a particular behavior. This is not often recommended for ADHD patients.

Behavioral therapy focuses on modifying or "unlearning" a maladaptive behavior without delving into underlying causes, such as family or school issues.

Cognitive therapy works to change the way patients think in order to alleviate symptoms and helps them learn effective ways of dealing with the difficulties of their condition.

Type

Attention

Hyperactivity

Treatment

TYPE 1: Hyperactive-Impulsive

Difficulty sustaining attention. Hyperactivity emerges first; the inattention usually doesn’t come out until a couple of years later. Most grow up to be combined type.

Hyperactive, impulsive.

Responds to medication and behavioral therapy may also help in some cases.

TYPE 2: Predominantly Inattentive (problems with attention but without significant hyperactivity)

Difficulty sustaining attention.

Normal activity, without serious impulsiveness.

Responds differently to treatment, depending on the particular subtype.

TYPE 3: Combined Hyperactive and Attention Deficit (classic ADHD)

Little difference between this and Type 1. Attention skips around the room. Trouble sustaining attention. Schoolwork is usually accurate but problems with productivity.

Impulsive, difficulty resisting distractions or sustaining attention.

Responds to medication and behavioral therapy; does not respond well to psychotherapy.

Subtypes of Type 2 ADHD

ADHD Type 2 is the diagnosis for children who are inattentive but not hyperactive. These Type 2 children show different symptoms. Some children may have a milder form, with just inattentiveness (Type 2, Subtype A), while other children’s symptoms might include sluggish, dreamy and unfocused behavior (Type 2, Subtype C).

Each of the four Type 2 subtypes requires different treatment, which often includes medication and therapy.

Understanding therapy options

Psychotherapy provides a patient with unconditional support from a therapist. It often delves into the past for reasons why a child has a particular behavior. This is not often recommended for ADHD patients.

Behavioral therapy focuses on modifying or "unlearning" a maladaptive behavior without delving into underlying causes, such as family or school issues.

Cognitive therapy works to change the way patients think in order to alleviate symptoms and helps them learn effective ways of dealing with the difficulties of their condition.

Type 2 Subtypes

Attention

Hyperactivity

Treatment

Subtype A: Mild form of combined-symptom type with insufficient number of symptoms to meet threshold for diagnosis

Trouble sustaining attention. Schoolwork is usually accurate but problems with productivity.

Impulsive.

Responds to medication and behavioral therapy.

Subtype B: Older children who were probably combined type but have outgrown hyperactivity with age

Not true inattentive type.

Formerly hyperactive, but hyperactivity has lessened as the child has aged.

Responds to medication and behavioral therapy; does not respond well to psychotherapy.

Subtype C: Sluggish cognitive type (or SCT)

Day-dreamy, foggy, easily confused, has trouble focusing. Can’t discern what’s important. Information-processing problems.

Passive, lethargic, hypoactive, not at all impulsive. Shy, withdrawn, passive, uninvolved. Productivity is okay but problems with accuracy.

Does not respond well to stimulant medication; may respond to social skills training and cognitive therapy.

Subtype D: ADHD type but without hyperactivity in adults

Trouble sustaining attention. Work is accurate but problems with productivity.

Not hyperactive and not unusually impulsive.

May respond to therapy; does not respond well to medication.


MSN Health & Fitness - ADHD: What It Is, What It Isn't

Friday, May 20, 2005

Three new shows on UPN's fall schedule

UPN couldn't make something beautiful happen with a series starring Taye Diggs. Maybe it will laugh all the way to the bank with a series based on a young Chris Rock.

Dawn Ostroff, network chief, unveiled plans Thursday for three new shows for UPN's fall, including two comedies and a drama. Diggs' Kevin Hill (Although I never watched it, I heard this was a good show) and Second Time Around were not renewed, joining the previously canceled Enterprise (Damnit UPN!!! I will miss Star Trek). Veronica Mars, which barely escaped cancellation in its freshman season, will step into Kevin Hill's time slot.

Ostroff announced that WWE Smackdown will move from Thursday to Friday, and that Everybody Hates Chris, based on the childhood experiences of the man many recognize as the funniest person in America, will launch a new night of comedy Thursdays at 7.

For those keeping score, Thursdays-at-7 this fall will see Everybody Hates Chris competing against the WB's Smallville, Fox's The O.C., NBC's Joey, ABC's Alias and CBS' Survivor. Bring bandages.

New for UPN's fall:

•Everybody Hates Chris, in which Rock narrates the story of his teen-age life: raised by strict parents and bused to a predominantly white middle school.
•Love Inc., a comedy about a "full-service dating consultant." Also known as a matchmaker. Shannen Doherty stars.
•Sex, Lies & Secrets, a drama set on the outskirts of Hollywood about relationships between twenty-somethings. Denise Richards, Eric Balfour, Lauren German, Omar Miller, Tamara Taylor and James Stevenson star.

UPN LINEUP

• Monday
7 p.m. One on One
7:30 p.m. All of Us
8 p.m. Girlfriends
8:30 p.m. Half & Half
• Tuesday
7 p.m. America's Next Top Model (reruns)
8 p.m. Sex, Lies & Secrets (new)
• Wednesday
7 p.m. America's Next Top Model
8 p.m. Veronica Mars
• Thursday
7 p.m. Everybody Hates Chris (new)
7:30 p.m. Eve
8 p.m. Cuts
8:30 p.m. Love, Inc. (new)
• Friday
7 p.m. WWE Smackdown
HoustonChronicle.com - Three new shows on UPN's fall schedule

NBC struggling, juggling fall lineup

Broken but unbowed, NBC introduced a fall lineup Monday that features two Apprentices, one fewer Law & Order, three new dramas and a single new comedy.

The network also renewed The Office, a comedy that had a short run this spring.

The perennial No. 1 network in the only audience measurement it considers — viewers age 18 to 49 — dropped to No. 4 for the 2004-05 season, prompting the changes made by programming chief Kevin Reilly.

"We're eager to be No. 1 again," he said, "and this freshman class, combined with NBC's powerful core schedule, represents a major step toward getting there."

American Dreams — previously protected by Jeff Zucker, Reilly's predecessor — officially got the ax Monday, as did the briefly seen spring comedy Committed, the reality series The Contender and the drama Medical Investigation. Law & Order: Trial by Jury also was canned, becoming the first nonfiction L&O show to get pink-slipped.

They join previously canceled NBC shows Third Watch, Father of the Pride, Hawaii and LAX.

Reilly chose to put Fear Factor and Scrubs in mothballs but said both shows will be back. Scrubs, in fact, has a full season order. I hope so, I like Scrubs!

Added to the lineup:

•The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, a clone of the Donald Trump reality series but with a different diva as host.
•E-Ring, a drama from Jerry Bruckheimer and Taylor Hackford set inside the Pentagon. Dennis Hopper stars in his first TV series (his previous longest TV stretch was a guest star on 24 in 2002). Benjamin Bratt also stars.
•Fathom, a drama about the discovery of a new form of sea life. Lake Bell stars.
•Inconceivable, about life at a fertility clinic. Alfre Woodard and Jonathan Cake star.
•My Name Is Earl, a comedy about a low-rent crook (Jason Lee) who wins a lottery and decides to use his fortune to right the wrongs from his past.
•Three Wishes, a reality series in which host Amy Grant each week leads a team of "experts" to a town, where three residents will get their wishes granted.
In addition, the network has added 13 more episodes of The Biggest Loser.

"Building a comedy block is absolutely a top priority for us," Reilly said. Though he acknowledged My Name Is Earl might be a risk, "it was the highest-testing comedy in 15 years."

NBC'S LINEUP


• Monday
7 p.m. Fathom (new)
8 p.m. Las Vegas
9 p.m. Medium
• Tuesday
7 p.m. The Biggest Loser
8 p.m. My Name Is Earl (new)
8:30 p.m. The Office (I enjoyed this!)
9 p.m. Law & Order: SVU
• Wednesday
7 p.m. The Apprentice: Martha Stewart (new)
8 p.m. E-Ring (new)
9 p.m. Law & Order
• Thursday
7 p.m. Joey
7:30 p.m. Will & Grace
8 p.m. The Apprentice
9 p.m. ER
• Friday
7 p.m. Three Wishes
8 p.m. Dateline NBC
9 p.m. Inconceivable
• Saturday
7 p.m. Movie
• Sunday
6 p.m. Dateline NBC
7 p.m. The West Wing (new time)
8 p.m. Law & Order: Criminal Intent
9 p.m. Crossing Jordan
HoustonChronicle.com - NBC struggling, juggling fall lineup

Female president, aliens on ABC's fall schedule

Rebounding ABC, No. 3 and climbing in the ratings, on Tuesday introduced a fall lineup with two comedies, one starring Freddie Prinze, and three dramas, including one with Geena Davis playing the first female president.

The network canceled Blind Justice, a Steven Bochco production about a blind police detective; Eyes, a well-done spy series that couldn't catch an audience (I was really liking this show, ABC, you are IDIOTS for cancelling this one); and several flagging sitcoms including My Wife & Kids, Complete Savages, Less Than Perfect and 8 Simple Rules. Extreme Makeover also got the hook.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, however, will return.

The John Stamos comedy Jake in Progress, watched by only a few when it moved to Thursdays at 7, will live to see another day (returning in January), as will According to Jim, Rodney, George Lopez and Hope & Faith. The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Wife Swap and Supernanny also will return sometime during the 2005-2006 season.

As expected, Grey's Anatomy was renewed and will continue in its Sunday time slot. Boston Legal will move to Tuesday and Alias will get that Thursdays-at-7 death slot (watch your back, Jennifer Garner).

The network outlined 12 new series for the full season. The five new shows for fall include:

• Commander-in-Chief, a drama starring Geena Davis as the mother of three and a woman on the verge of assuming the office of president of the United States. Donald Sutherland and Kyle Secor also star.
"It's not a political story," said Stephen McPherson, ABC entertainment president. "It's the story of a woman, a wife, a family."
• Freddie, a comedy about a single guy providing a roof for four female relatives. Freddie Prinze stars.
• Hot Properties, a comedy about four real estate saleswomen and their personal predicaments. Audra Blaser, Gail O'Grady, Nicole Sullivan and Sofia Vergara star.
• Invasion, a drama from Shaun Cassidy (Cold Case) about alien invaders. William Fichtner and Eddie Cibrian star. Bellaire's Thomas Schlamme (Jack & Bobby; The West Wing) directs the pilot.
The Night Stalker, a drama from Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files) that resurrects Detective Kolchak from the 1970s occult series. Stuart Townsend stars. Interesting.

ABC's fall prime-time schedule, announced by the network Tuesday:

Monday
7 p.m. — Wife Swap (The Bachelor after football season)
8 p.m. — Monday Night Football (Emily's Reasons Why Not after football)
8:30 p.m. — (Jake in Progress after football season)
9 p.m. — (What About Brian after football)

Tuesday
7 p.m. — According to Jim
7:30 p.m. — Rodney
8 p.m. — Commander-in-Chief
9 p.m. — Boston Legal

Wednesday
7 p.m. — George Lopez
7:30 p.m. — Freddie
8 p.m. — Lost
9 p.m. — Invasion

Thursday
7 p.m. — Alias
8 p.m. — The Night Stalker
9 p.m. — Primetime Live

Friday
7 p.m. — Supernanny
8 p.m. — Hope & Faith
8:30 p.m. — Hot Properties
9 p.m. — 20/20

Saturday
7 p.m. — ABC Movie of the Week

Sunday
6 p.m. — America's Funniest Home Videos
7 p.m. — Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
8 p.m. — Desperate Housewives
9 p.m. — Grey's Anatomy
HoustonChronicle.com - Female president, aliens on ABC's fall schedule

Whole lotta shakin' up going on at WB

The WB network plans to shake things up for fall, moving four established shows to new nights and introducing plans for three new dramas and one new comedy.

Fran Drescher's Living With Fran will return but Steve Harvey's Big Time will not. Jack & Bobby won't be back, either.

Perhaps the network's boldest decision is to move Smallville and Everwood to Thursdays. (Thursdays at 7 is shaping up as the most competitive time slot for fall, with contenders Alias, Joey, The O.C., Survivor and now Smallville.) WB Entertainment chief David Janollari also will move Blue Collar TV from Thursday to Sunday.

The new shows include:

• Just Legal, in which Don Johnson (Nash Bridges, Miami Vice) combines forces with Jay Baruchel (Undeclared) in a lawyer drama with comedic touches.
• Supernatural, a drama about two brothers (Jared Padalecki of Gilmore Girls and Jensen Ackles of Smallville) who travel the back roads of America in their '67 Chevy, huntin' down evil.
• Related, about four sisters who can be friends one minute, enemies the next. This one comes with the pedigree of Friends producer Martha Kaufman. Casting is incomplete but so far includes Jennifer Esposito, Lizzy Caplan and Laura Breckenridge.
• Twins, a brains vs. beauty comedy about twin sisters (Sara Gilbert and Molly Stanton).

WB LINEUP

• Monday
7 p.m. 7th Heaven
8 p.m. Just Legal (new)
• Tuesday
7 p.m. Gilmore Girls
8 p.m. Supernatural (new)

• Wednesday
7 p.m. One Tree Hill (new night)
8 p.m. Related (new)

• Thursday
7 p.m. Smallville (new night)
8 p.m. Everwood (new night)

• Friday
7 p.m. What I Like About You
7:30 p.m. Twins (new)
8 p.m. Reba
8:30 p.m. Living With Fran

• Sunday
6 p.m. Reba (rerun)
6:30 p.m. Reba (rerun)
7 p.m. Charmed
8 p.m. Blue Collar TV (new night)
HoustonChronicle.com - Whole lotta shakin' up going on at WB

Joan and Amy dropped as CBS unveils fall lineup

CBS, television's No. 1 network, unveiled a fall lineup Wednesday that contains as many new shows as NBC, the No. 4 network. Two comedies, including one by the makers of Frasier, and four dramas, one involving paranormal activity and another about extra-terrestrials, will join the schedule.

Receiving their walking papers: Judging Amy, Joan of Arcadia, Listen Up and, in another blow to CBS News, 60 Minutes Wednesday. They join the previously canceled shows JAG, Center of the Universe, Dr. Vegas and Clubhouse.

The axing of 60 Minutes Wednesday was due to poor ratings, said CBS chairman Les Moonves. It had nothing to do with last fall's reporting scandal involving President Bush's military service.

"This was a ratings call, not a content call," he said.

The reporting scandal involved Dan Rather, who stepped down as anchor of the CBS Evening News in March. Rather will continue to report for the Sunday edition of 60 Minutes.

None of Wednesday's cancellations was unforeseen, but the firing of Joan of Arcadia was mildly surprising. Series creator Barbara Hall introduced a God versus Satan story line in April, setting up what promised to be an interesting third season.

Perhaps CBS' most surprising move was to keep its borderline comedies Yes, Dear and Still Standing. That may say more about the sad state of the genre, in general, than anything specific about the shows or the network.

Coming this fall:

• Close to Home, a legal drama featuring a young mother as a prosecutor played by Jennifer Finnigan (The Bold and the Beautiful).
• Criminal Minds, a drama about an elite squad of FBI profilers. Mandy Patinkin, Thomas Gibson and Shemar Moore star.
• Ghost Whisperer, about a young newlywed who can speak with the spirits of the dead. Jennifer Love Hewitt stars.
• How I Met Your Mother, a comedy about a young man (Josh Radnor) in search of true love. He gets sometimes outrageous guidance from a friend (Neil Patrick Harris). Jason Segel and Alyson Hannigan also star.
• Out of Practice, a comedy about a dysfunctional family of physicians. Christopher Gor- ham, Stockard Channing, Henry Winkler, Ty Burrell and Paula Marshall star. Frasier creators Joe Keenan and Christopher Lloyd are executive producers.
• Threshold, a drama that kicks off with the discovery of an extraterrestrial craft in the mid-Atlantic. Carla Gugino, Charles S. Dutton and Brent Spiner star. Interesting.

FALL SCHEDULE

Monday
7 p.m. King of Queens (new time)
7:30 p.m. How I Met Your Mother (new)
8 p.m. Two and a Half Men
8:30 p.m. Out of Practice (new)
9 p.m. CSI: Miami
Tuesday
7 p.m. NCIS
8 p.m. Amazing Race
9 p.m. Close to Home (new)
Wednesday
7 p.m. Still Standing (new time)
7:30 p.m. Yes, Dear
8 p.m. Criminal Minds (new)
9 p.m. CSI: NY
Thursday
7 p.m. Survivor
8 p.m. CSI
9 p.m. Without a Trace
Friday
7 p.m. Ghost Whisperer (new)
8 p.m. Threshold (new)
9 p.m. Numb3rs
Saturday
7 p.m. Reruns
9 p.m. 48 Hours Mystery
Sunday
6 p.m. 60 Minutes
7 p.m. Cold Case
8 p.m. Movie
HoustonChronicle.com - Joan and Amy dropped as CBS unveils fall lineup

Fox bolsters fall lineup with seven new shows

Fox introduced a fall lineup Thursday that features seven new shows, two of them comedies.

The Simple Life, Life on a Stick and North Shore won't be back, joining the previously canceled Quintuplets, Method and Red, Tru Calling (Fox, you suck!), Point Pleasant and Jonny Zero.

The reality series Nanny 911, Trading Spouses and Renovate My Family are not slated for fall but will be back with new episodes this summer. American Idol and 24 will rejoin the lineup in January. And as previously announced, Fox chose to renew the low-rated, Emmy-winning comedy Arrested Development.

"The key to our schedule is stability and balance," said Fox Entertainment chief Peter Liguori, who noted that the fall lineup features a returning show every night of the week.

One of those is The Bernie Mac Show, which received a surprise fifth-season renewal. It will be packaged with a Sunday night staple, Malcolm in the Middle, on Fridays this fall.

The new shows:

• Bones, a drama about a forensic anthropologist (Kathy Reichs) and her uncanny ability to "read" clues left behind in a victim's bones. She often finds herself teamed with a special agent (David Boreanaz). Hmmm.
• The Gate, about a detective in San Francisco's deviant crime unit. Johnny Messner and Chi McBride star.
• Head Cases, a comedy-drama starring Chris O'Donnell as a superstar lawyer who suffers a nervous breakdown and ends up suffering the company of a disturbed "buddy" played by Adam Goldberg. Rachel Leigh Cook also stars.
• Kitchen Confidential, about a boozing, womanizing chef (Bradley Cooper) given one last chance to make it at a top New York restaurant.
• Prison Break, a drama about a man's attempt to break his brother out of prison. Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell star.
• Reunion, a drama that tracks the lives of six friends over 20 years, each episode set in a different year. Will Estes, Sean Faris, Alexa Davalos, Chyler Leigh and Mathew St. Patrick star.
• The War at Home, a comedy about the "war" between parents and their rebellious children. Michael Rapaport and Anita Barone star.

FOX LINEUP

• Monday
7 p.m. Arrested Development (new night)
7:30 p.m. Kitchen Confidential (new)
8 p.m. Prison Break (new)
• Tuesday
7 p.m. Bones (new)
8 p.m. House
• Wednesday
7 p.m. That '70s Show
7:30 p.m. Stacked
8 p.m. Head Cases (new)
• Thursday
7 p.m. The O.C.
8 p.m. Reunion (new)
• Friday
7 p.m. Bernie Mac
7:30 p.m. Malcolm in the Middle (new night)
8 p.m. The Gate (new)
• Saturday
7 p.m. Cops
7:30 p.m. Cops
8 p.m. America's Most Wanted
• Sunday
6 p.m. Reruns
6:30 p.m. King of the Hill
7 p.m. The Simpsons
7:30 p.m. The War at Home (new)
8 p.m. Family Guy
8:30 p.m. American Dad
HoustonChronicle.com - Fox bolsters fall lineup with seven new shows

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Friday, May 06, 2005

12 myths about bankruptcy

Sometimes, a fresh start makes sense -- if you can get past what you think you know. Here's how bankruptcy affects your credit, your possessions and your karma. By Bankrate.com

Like most big, bad, scary things, bankruptcy has a reputation based on a few tidbits of truth and lots of embellishment. And like most creepy crawlies, it's not nearly as frightening once you know the truth.

With a mind toward declawing the monster, here are a dozen misconceptions about bankruptcy:

Everyone will know I've filed for bankruptcy. Unless you're a prominent person or a major corporation and the filing is picked up by the media, the chances are very good that the only people who will know about a filing are your creditors. While it's true that bankruptcy is a public legal proceeding, the numbers of people filing are so massive, very few publications have the space, the manpower or the inclination to run all of them.

All debts are wiped out in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You wish. Certain types of debts cannot be erased. They include child support and alimony, student loans and debts incurred as the result of fraud. If you've defrauded someone and a judgment has been made against you, that won't be erased either.

I'll lose everything I have. This is the misconception that keeps people who really should file for bankruptcy from doing it, says Chris Viale, chief operating officer of Massachusetts-based Cambridge Credit Counseling.

"They think the government will sell everything they have and they'll have to start over in a cardboard box," Viale says.

While the bankruptcy laws vary from state to state, every state has exemptions that protect certain kinds of assets, such as your house, your car (up to a certain value), money in qualified retirement plans, household goods and clothing.

"For most people, they'll pass through a bankruptcy case and keep everything they have," says John Hargrave, a bankruptcy trustee in New Jersey. If you have a mortgage or a car loan, you can keep those as long as you keep making the payments (like the rest of us).

I'll never get credit again. Quite the contrary. It won't be long before you're getting credit card offers again. They'll just be from subprime lenders that will charge very high interest rates. "There are innumerable companies that will provide credit to you," says California bankruptcy attorney and trustee Howard Ehrenberg. "I don't advise any of my clients to run out and run up the bills again, but if someone does need an automobile, they can go and will be able to get credit. You don't have to go underground or something to get money."

However, if you're planning to buy a house or a car, you might want to do that before you file. Those loans will be tough to get, and the higher interest rate on such a large purchase would make a significant impact on your payments. Also, if you have a credit card with a zero balance on the day you file for bankruptcy, you don't have to list it as a creditor since you don't owe any money on it. That means you might be able to keep that card even after the bankruptcy.

If you're married, both spouses have to file for bankruptcy. Not necessarily. "It's not uncommon for one spouse to have a significant amount of debt in their name only," Hargrave says. However, if spouses have debts they want to discharge that they're both liable for, they should file together. Otherwise, the creditor will simply demand payment for the entire amount from the spouse who didn't file.

It's really hard to file for bankruptcy. It's really not. You don't even technically need an attorney. However, it's not recommended to go through the procedure without one.

Only deadbeats file for bankruptcy. Most people file for bankruptcy after a life-changing experience, such as a divorce, the loss of a job or a serious illness. They've struggled to pay their bills for months and just keep falling further behind.

I don't want to include certain creditors in my filing because it's important to me to pay them back someday and if the debt is discharged, I can't ever repay them. Bless you for even thinking about such a thing. You're no longer obligated to repay them, but you always have that opportunity. If your conscience won't let you sleep nights because you didn't pay your debts, there's nothing in the bankruptcy code that prevents you from doing that once you're back on your feet. But bankruptcy is an all-or-nothing deal, so you have to include all your creditors in the petition.

Filing for bankruptcy will improve my credit rating because all those debts will be gone. That sounds like an ad for a bankruptcy lawyer trolling for clients. Filing for bankruptcy is the worst 'negative' you can have on your credit report. Unlike other negatives, which stay on your report for seven years, bankruptcy can be there for 10 years.

You can't get rid of back taxes through bankruptcy. Generally speaking, this is true. However, there is such a thing as tax bankruptcy, says tax educator Eva Rosenberg, known on the Web as Tax Mama. To get a shot at it, you have to file all your returns and the taxes owed need to be at least three years old.

You can only file for bankruptcy once. The truth is, you can only file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy once every six years, Hargrave says. For Chapter 13 reorganization, you can file more often than that, but you can't have more than one case open at the same time, he says.

Of course, that doesn't make it a good idea.

"Multiple bankruptcies are really bad," Rosenberg says. "Many people get into the habit of once they've done it, it becomes a way of life. This is not good for your karma." Or your credit rating.

I can max out all my credit cards, file for bankruptcy, and never pay for the things I bought. That's called fraud, and bankruptcy judges can get really cranky about it. The trustee in your case will review all your purchases right before your filing. He knows what to look for.
MSN Money - 12 myths about bankruptcy

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Last five take the stage in tonight's Idol

It's one week at a time on Idol
The last five take the stage in tonight's show
By ANDREW DANSBY
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

American Idol's final five take the stage tonight, and it's a different group than I expected seven weeks ago.

Vonzell Solomon and Anthony Federov are both still in the game — one because she improved week by week, the other for reasons unknown.

Some middling performances and a revealed arrest for a domestic disturbance couldn't sink Scott Savol, whose voice can do great things and who seems to draw an underdog, Everyman vote. You can't accuse him of coasting on his looks, unlike Constantine Maroulis.

For all the outrage expressed about the exits of Anwar Robinson and Maroulis, neither should've come as a great shock. Voters review Idol one week at a time. It's how Bo Bice spent one week in the bottom three this year. The same thing happened to 2004 winner Fantasia.

Aspiring Idols are only as good as their most recent performance.

The weeks are full of ups and downs, but one thing is certain: By increasing the maximum age of contestants from 26 to 28 when they audition, the show greatly improved the quality of the performers. With the possible exception of Bice, none of this year's singers have been as consistently fantastic as Fantasia. But 10 of the final 12 could have bested last year's runner-up, Diana Degarmo.


Tale of the tape:
Bo Bice
Age: 29
Home: Helena, Ala.
Best performance: Whipping Post
Worst performance: Remedy
Odds: Even. He remains the most dynamic performer but suffers a bit when he gets away from the growl. An unearthed cocaine arrest in '01 doesn't help matters. But the energy of Idol's first genuine rocker should get him through.


Anthony Federov
Age: 19
Home: Trevose, Pa.
Best performance: I Want to Know What Love Is
Worst performance: The rest
Odds: 6-1. Maroulis' ouster should give him a boost among teenage girls, but he's been coasting on a mediocre voice for far too long.


Scott Savol
Age: 29
Home: Shaker Heights, Ohio
Best performance: Against All Odds
Worst performance: The Impossible Dream
Odds: 5-1. Lower register kills him, the domestic dispute didn't help, but he keeps slipping through by not being the worst on any given night.


Vonzell Solomon
Age: 21
Home: Fort Myers, Fla.
Best performance: Best of My Love
Worst performance: I Turn to You
Odds: 2-1. A certain early exit, Solomon enjoyed a massive spike in confidence and unleashed a huge voice that was dormant during auditions.


Carrie Underwood
Age: 21
Home: Checotah, Okla.
Best performance: Alone
Worst performance: When God Fearin' Women Get the Blues
Odds: 3-2. When her voice is big and booming, Underwood's an exciting front-runner, but her penchant for new country shows a boring side.
HoustonChronicle.com - Last five take the stage in tonight's Idol
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Monday, May 02, 2005

Buffy's James Marsters: Rock Star?

If your fantasies involve being serenaded by a vampire, you're in luck. James Marsters — beloved as toothsome Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel — has just released his first solo CD, Civilized Man. If only he could have produced the album without leaving a trail of carnage in his wake....

You see, before entering the studio on his own, the actor went on a highly successful tour of Europe with his band, Ghost of the Robot. "I believe it was our third time over there, and we'd gone from playing houses of hundreds of people to playing for thousands of people. Not tens of thousands," he clarifies quickly for TVGuide.com, "but you know, three, four, five."

Nonetheless, the lead vocalist saw the blood... er, the writing on the wall. "The chemistry of the band changed," he says. "I think we started taking ourselves too seriously, frankly, and it stopped being fun for me." What's more, he adds, "The songwriting coming from the other members of the band was way too high for my voice. So I broke up the band after a very successful tour!"

Marsters laughs at the irony, but he's dead serious. "We were just about to finish up our second album, which was sounding really good compared to our first, but I pulled the plug."

Afterward, the frontman who no longer had anyone behind him returned to Europe. "Just me and a guitar, man, which was terrifying!" he exclaims. "I'm not Woody Guthrie! I didn't believe that I could stand up in front of 500 to 1000 people with one instrument and bring enough different kinds of sounds to pretend that I was really entertaining people for a whole hour.

"But it went really well," he adds, relieved. "People responded that they liked that set better than the band's. I'm sure not everybody felt that way...."

Yeah, his ex-bandmates from Ghost of the Robot, for instance. "Probably not," he admits with a laugh. "But they're all good people, and we're on good terms. It's just, stuff for [the band], I was a little reluctant to let people hear, because a lot of it was beyond my range [vocally], and I didn't feel as if it was good enough to be called professional. But now [with my new material], I do. Some of it you'll probably like, some if it you won't.

"I guess at the end of the day," he concludes, "the best thing about the whole process is that I feel more confident about myself as a musician, which is probably what you're looking for when you do something like this in the first place."
Insider - [TV Guide Online]

Eyes

Question:
Although I love and watch every single episode of Desperate Housewives, Lost, 24 and even American Idol, I enjoy ABC's Eyes at a level I reached only during Melrose Place's crazy adventures. Since Eyes' ratings have been bad since it started and it's on a network with such hits as Housewives, Lost and Grey's Anatomy, is there any real hope for a second season? I believe that with a much stronger campaign this summer and a new time slot for fall, Eyes could become a hit. House's luck changed thanks to American Idol, Alias came to life because of Lost, and Grey's is in the winner's circle due to the fascinating Housewives. If ABC gives Eyes the chance it deserves and a much better night, it can avoid cancelation; don't you agree? — Eliza

Matt:
Welcome, readers, to the underdog of the week, Ask Matt's latest cause to rally around. (And not just because Eyes is being preempted this week by ABC News' American Idol exposé, and will sit out several more sweeps weeks because of the mega-finales of Alias and Lost.) Tell me your heart doesn't bleed when reading this from another fan named Matt (not a clone, I promise), who writes: "While I'm never surprised when a quality show fails to become a breakout hit, I'm a bit surprised about the general silence surrounding Eyes. It doesn't even seem to have reached 'cult' status. As a result, I've sort of been watching it as an 'enjoy it while it lasts' show. Does Eyes have any future? And why does nobody seem to care?"

Well, Matt, people do care. People like Anthony, who writes, "I feel lost, and not in the Lost way. Why does ABC feel the need to kick Eyes to the curb so suddenly? I feel like I'm having a Skin moment. Thirteen episodes turn into eight, and now into six? In all honesty, do you feel as though on May 11, we will see the last of Eyes for good? I'll be disappointed if ABC doesn't list Eyes on its schedule at the upfronts." Yeah, me too, but I'm getting prepared for the worst. ABC is on such a roll that it might not feel the need to nurture the show that, despite mostly terrific reviews, got off to the weakest start of any of its midseason dramas (Blind Justice started strongly, but has faded lately). It's a disappointment and a puzzlement, but what can I say to someone like Broc, who writes in to ask, "How worried should I be about Eyes?... I love Alias, but the darker it gets the more I appreciate what Eyes has to offer, and most nights I enjoy Eyes more. Is the 10 pm time slot hurting its chances? Will ABC give it another shot on a different night? From the writing to the acting, the show continues to deliver and it would be a shame to lose it amongst the hype for ABC's other successful shows." Agreed. Quick wrap-up to this longish discussion: I am worried about Eyes. If it isn't renewed, or given a shot to draw an audience in a more favorable time period, I hope we at least get to see the remaining episodes over the summer. (But be aware that ABC has just announced an aggressive summer lineup that doesn't leave much room for this sort of thing.)
Roush Review - [TV Guide Online]