Thursday, May 5, 2016


John Cullum reads the opening chapter "CIRCLE OF IVY," a novel written by Emily Frankel, that truthfully tells the story of a fat woman endangering her life with trying to lose weight.

Sunday, May 1, 2016


How did this actor do it? Transform himself from a typical California actor into what he is now?

Physically he has ordinary features -- there's nothing odd, nothing unusual about his nose, mouth or chin -- it's a good face, and a good body. He's not short, or unusually tall -- or broad, fat, skinny, not flabby or super muscular. He just appears to be a regular, typical, normal, ordinary guy.

He started doing commercials when he was five; landed a recurring role in a soap opera, at 16, was in a sitcom; his film debut, at 17, was in the sci-fi horror film, ("Critters 3.") He was praised by critics for "This Boy's Life," then praised for "What's Eating Gilbert Grape," "Marvin's Room," "The Basketball Diaries," -- at 22, he got raves for the film, "Romeo and Juliet." The following year, he exploded into international fame in "Titanic."

Since then, he's been nominated for awards for his work in "Catch Me If You Can," "Gangs of New York," "The Aviator," "Blood Diamond," "The Departed," "Revolutionary Road," and "Django Unchained." (Also Clint Eastwoods "J. Edgar," and a host of other films, too many to list in this summary.)

There's interesting celeb gossip about him and the models he dates that seems to fall into a pattern -- after the romance has cooled (they last for months, even a year or two), the relationship is maintained. My star-watcher eyes have me thinking IS he gay, making sure that we think he's straight? I dismiss this as silly, old-fashioned, out-of-date.

That DiCaprio's a strong, articulate, philanthropical environmentalist -- that's a big wow. DiCaprio's vocal, and financial support of this major world concern is significant and effective. But what truly, deeply impresses me is his acting. The way he transforms himself in films is marvelous.

Yes -- marvelous -- I rarely use that word. Some of my husband, John Cullum's performances in musicals were marvelous. 

Hey Leonardo DiCaprio. 'I'm crowning you, presenting you with an EM-Oscar for what you are, what you do -- the films that you choose to do -- the astounding -- yes, astounding way you are growing and expanding as an artist.

Here's a clip from a film he did at age 28, with Tom Hanks -- it's not as astounding as "The Revenant," which won him his Oscar, but I've been fascinated and entertained again and again by "Catch Me If You Can." For me, it's a Leonardo DiCaprio classic. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


The MET BREUER, [BROY-er], an expansion of the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, has opened, after $15 million in renovations, in the former home of The Whitney Museum of American Art.

Official announcements tell us that the Met Breuer offers the public a chance to experience modern art in a way they can't get anywhere else. It's featuring an exhibition of works by Indian modernist artist, Nasreen Mohamedi -- more than 130 paintings, drawings, photographs, and diaries, that "demonstrate why she is considered one of the most significant artists of her generation."  Here are three of her paintings.

In July 2016, a retrospective on the major works of Diane Arbus, an American photographer, will be featured. She's noted for photographs of dwarfs, giants, transgender people, nudists, circus performers, and others who are perceived by the general populace as ugly or surreal. Here's her "identical twins" and portrait of "Godfather of Soul," James Brown. 

A retrospective of contemporary painter Kerry James Marshall opens October 2016. Strongly influenced by Black Power, civil rights and his experiences in Watts during his early years as an artist, his art confronts racial stereotypes and the present day perspectives on race in our society.

Starting in November 2016, there will be in-gallery performances by resident artist, award winning, American jazz pianist, composer, bandleader, producer, electronic musician, and writer, Vijay Iyer.

Also, in November, you'll hear performances of the newly commissioned "sonic experience," by John Luther Adams.

At the same time, you'll be able to see Karlheinz Stockhausen's "Klang," the premiere of his unfinished 11-hour long composition for 21 electronic and acoustic  pieces, 42 performers in styles ranging from romanticism to austere minimalism. The video is just a swatch of the piece that conveys its style and complexity.

I find these samplings of what's new and deemed important by the Met Breuer -- NOT thrilling -- perturbing. I'm going to have to do a lot of staring and listening before I have a sense of what's happening in the art world. I think for some visitors to the museum, like me, what's on display will be mostly incomprehensible, and will certainly create a churning within us, to feel out and understand what these artists are expressing. And maybe we will like it.

Like? Yes. Maybe we'll learn to love some of this contemporary art, if we begin to like it. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016


 Emily Frankel asks her husband, John Cullum, how he deals with failures.

John, quoting Kipling, refers to success and failure as "two imposters."

As the Cullums remember some of their projects that "bombed," John's thoughts on the subject bolster and delight Emily.