Tuesday, October 23, 2018


As a poor sleeper, having gone off caffeine, tried over-the-counter remedies and doctors' prescriptions, melatonin, homeopathic remedies, warm milk, liquor, and counted sheep, l still have a hard time falling asleep. 

I mostly "fall" awake.  If you do, here's what I do!

My current routine: Tuck pillows under neck and knees, mutter Shakespeare words--"Sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care," and repeat the words, concentrating on the left leg, sensing the flow of blood in 10 toes, ankle, calf, knee, thigh, hip joint before concentrating on the right leg. I repeat this 15 to 30 times till my mind rebels, and a loud awareness that I am wide awake drives me out of bed.

If you try this, and are still wide awake, get a snack. Watch TV, and try again later.

Other possibilities: There's Modafinil, a stimulant that Wall street-investors use. There's a relatively new process called transcranial direct stimulation (tDCS) that zaps the brain with electricity, and keeps people up for as much as 30 hours, but tDCS currently lasts six.

Dammit, I don't want to spend my work time, trying new things that might or not work. 

Doctors say the Internet, email, and social networking are giving us shots of dopamine, a chemical the brain releases to simulate pleasure. We get this from caffeine, and nowadays we're sold caffeine in toothbrushes, stockings, soap, bath bubbles, beer, marshmallows, lollipops, coke, red bull, and bottled water. So, don't drink coffee? Do drink it? Drink it less?

Golly, we're flashed a lot of facts--about coffee, saccharin, eggs, cholesterol, omega 3, belly fat, dental hygiene, bacteria, calories, carbs, exercise--most of this is in my BB pile (bullshit baloney), where many of the latest life and death important facts fade like smoke rings.

FACT: After a not-enough-sleep night, I do my work--how well I do it depends, not on sleep, but on whether or not the topic excites me.

Therefore, I do my "raveled sleeve" routine, and sing this to myself. If you sing this a few times and are still wide awake, get a snack. Then, if you sing it again, and again, and again, you'll pleasantly tire yourself/bore yourself to sleep.

Friday, October 19, 2018


Describing small, "eek" sort of fears, Emily wonders why things like bugs that scare her, don't seem to bother John Cullum. John says he does what has to be done, like a soldier, despite his fears.

Teasing John who is calm and collected, even on a big deal opening night of a big Broadway show, Emily deems him her "brave Knight."

Monday, October 15, 2018


Why oh why are we stuck in a war for 17 years? I find myself asking questions others have asked, hunting for answers in TimeWeek Magazine, Newsweek, even UK's The Guardian. 
We invaded in December 2001 to topple a Taliban govern-ment with a harsh form of Sunni Islam, that had given safe haven to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The population, about 20,500,000, is now around 36,700,000. The Afghan government controls the cities and about 60% of the county. Right now, the Taliban, with 40%, controls more territory than they have at any time since 2001, and are attacking and killing hundreds of Afghan soldiers and civilians.

How many U.S. troops are there?
When President Obama took office in 2009, 30,000 troops were there. He tripled the force hoping it would bring victory. In 2011 there were 100,000 U.S. troops. The Taliban waited in Pakistan till Obama gradually withdrew troops.
       President Trump, skeptical of the war, was persuaded by the Military to continue supporting the Afghan army and boosted our forces to 15,000. They are now on a mission, aided by Afghan forces, using armed drones and airstrikes. But 15,000 troops can't defeat the Taliban, and Afghan forces are collapsing. In 2016, nearly 7,000 Afghan soldiers and police were killed. Since then, the government stopped releasing figures.

What about the Taliban? They're believed to be 20,000 to 40,000 fighters, about the same as a decade ago. With an annual budget of $2 billion, they get funding from Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi sources, probably Russia, and also from their control of the lucrative international opium and hashish trades that employ 600,000 Afghans.
       New York Times said, "The Taliban are much better equipped than anti-government forces and Afghan security forces--they have more resources, and access to modern weapons."
       James Mattis, our Defense Secretary, has been negotiating, but the Taliban are rejecting our terms, refusing to renounce violence, break ties with al Qaeda, accept the protection of women's rights in the Afghan constitution, and negotiate directly with the Afghan government.

So why don't we just pull out? The Afghan government would fall. Afghanistan would again become a Taliban-ruled medieval society, and al Qaeda and ISIS would have free rein there to plan and carry out attacks on the U.S. In 2011, when the U.S. pulled out of Iraq, it led to civil war and the rise of ISIS. Top experts believe that negotiating with the Taliban is the only way to end the conflict, but negotiations involve agreements with India, China, Russia, Iran, and most of all, Pakistan, who won't negotiate.

Why is Pakistan so important? We rely on Pakistani land and airspace to supply our troops, but the Pakistani military also allows the Afghan Taliban to retreat into its territory. Pakistan's new prime minister, Imran Khan, a fierce critic of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, wants us to negotiate with the Pakistani Taliban. The head of the U.S. Central Command, General Joseph Votel, says, "Now is the time for them to step forward." It hasn't been happening.

The horrendous cost $4 trillion, but approximately 2,400 U.S. service personnel have been killed in the Afghan war, more than 20,000 wounded--if you add in the future costs of the war veterans and their health care, and the interest on the money borrowed to finance the war, the figure approaches $8 trillion.
     Much of this money was wasted. Our special inspector for Afghanistan reconstruction told the Senate, "The United States threw itself into reconstruction with haste and hubris, with untested assumptions, unrealistic expectations, with piles of cash and tight deadlines for spending it too fast, with too little oversight."
By 2014, $109 billion had been spent on reconstruction alone, more in today's dollars than the entire Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe. Even so, Afghanistan still lacks adequate roads, schools, and infrastructure. Our country still spends $45 billion a year on Afghan security and economic aid, more than double Afghanistan's GDP.

All I can do is post this, and pray for bigger protests.

Thursday, October 11, 2018


Suddenly, out of the blue, she was all over the news. Maybe not where you live, but I'm remembering what she said and did in March, when she was running for governor in the New York primary.

Winner of Tony, Emmy, Grammy awards, she's is a well-known actress. If I name Broadway plays, television, and films she's done as a star or featured player, it would fill this page. She's 52, lesbian, openly handling her commitment to her wife and their childrensharing this with reporters, who like and admire her, or dislike and disapprove.

The current governor of the state of New York, Andrew Cuomo, in March, like a guy running for president, was bombarding us with daily ads touting his accomplishments. Cuomo won the primary. But the way Cynthia sold her liberal ideas -- golly, the way she ambled down a street, holding out her hand to people -- could you smile, hold out a hand offering yourself to folks who are heading someplace and too busy to notice or consider voting for you -- that stays with me.

Guys, for years, I've seen a legendary actor, my husband John Cullum, digging into many different roles that require many aspects of what that character could, should, or might feel. I've been his eye at more than a few hundred rehearsals. I know what's real or not real. Cynthia's smile is real. That hand reaching for you is truly trying to connect with you.

Hey Cynthia Nixon, I'm hoping you keep running for offices, get on committees, give speeches, doing whatever you could do in your neighborhood, in your city, national politics, oh my, yes -- in politics today. We need people like you.