Wednesday, August 20, 2014


When John and Gene Hackman were playing missionaries in the film "Hawaii," they discussed their futures.

Suddenly, John was off to do "On a Clear Day," and Gene, not sure where he was heading next, moaned, "I should have studied singing."

Emily and John chat about movie star Hackman's retiring because he doesn't want to play the dying grandpas that John plays now. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014


I am an advertisement-avoider, but if the face in an ad is Sarah Jessica Parker's,  I pay attention.

She's forty-nine years old now. The first time I saw her was twenty-three years ago, in Steve Martin's film, "LA Story," in which street signs were advising weather-man Steve about his love life. Sarah Jessica played SanDee, a rambunctious, uninhibited teenager who had a crush on him, was dying to sleep with the famous weatherman, though he was in love with another woman.

SanDee danced every line she spoke (or so it seemed) -- wriggling, gesturing, miming -- did it so effortlessly, making made every moment fun, fresh, inventive, seemingly spur of the moment.

Since then there have been many roles, dramatic, quirky comedic, even romantic leads for Sarah Jessica Parker, and she is not a typical Hollywood beauty -- yes, she has great body and expressive face, but it's not a cute face with neat-symmetrical features -- her nose -- (I'll just say it) -- often she looks like a Jewish college girl.

Her looks may have held her back a little. Even so, Sarah Jessica has had a amazing career in films, television, and theater, receiving many awards, nominations, tributes -- much of the "gold" that a famous actress gets. (If you're in the mood for a summary, click the links and visit biography. com  or skim Wikipedia, Sarah Jessica Parker.)

I have to say that "Sex in the City" is the only television series I ever watched religiously. Sarah Jessica Parker, as Carrie, made it work. The other actresses, Kim Catrall, as Samantha, Kristi Davis as Charlotte, and Cynthia Nixon as Miranda, made it work as they interacted amazingly well, with Sarah Jessica. In the course of the years that I have seen this series, (even now as I briefly revisit an episode that's being rebroadcast) these actresses have become even more interesting, and remarkably real.

It's the writing, the concept, the story, the camera work, the clothes, and I think it's the special talent of this woman, I think her "acting" is the real person who is married to the wonderful actor, Matthew Broderick, the woman who has created three children with him and maintained marriage and family, while zestfully continuing to work, grow, and expand her craft.

The forty-nine-year-old Sarah Jessica Parker has an exceptional kind of perseverance and thereness. When I watch her, I don't feel I am watching an actress. Even in the many commercials she does, she just becomes a person explaining how a product worked well for her. I believe her.

What is it?

Perhaps it's a very special, unique, deep trust that Sarah Jessica Parker has in just being herself, being Sarah Jessica Parker.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


Ever mediated?

Ever tried to learn how?

I have three good friends who are strongly into meditation. One friend is going to AA Mediation meetings; another is practicing "Mindful Meditation;" the third is browsing online trying to decide which course to take. 

I browsed and listened to some wise-sounding, impressively credited meditation teachers. On most of the websites, there was mesmerizing background music -- sort of celestial outer-space music that suggested what the picture at the top of this blog suggests. The courses were 2 to 6 weeks, 6 months, to a full year of study. Each explained, somewhat similarly, how meditation would help you feel better, be relaxed, sleep better, and function better.

Hey -- the word meditate means "thinking, pondering, focusing one's thoughts." The dictionary definition refers to "engage in mental exercise such as concentrating on your breathing, or repeating a mantra (a word or sound) for the purpose of reaching a heightened state of awareness."


I think the study courses that my friends are taking help them.  If you join a gym, it's a big help if you start with a trainer showing you how to use the machines. But sooner or later, if you want to exercise to maintain your body, you need to decide to go to the gym and use the yourself. And when you are paying for it, you continue doing it so you won't be wasting money. Similarly, enrolling in a meditation course is a decision that may help you learn to mediate.
I don't need to study meditation. For me, a task or routine that I like to do -- have done before, know how to do -- gets me focused, thinking, pondering. And yes, gives me a heightened awareness -- pleasure -- that good feeling you get when you are doing something that you enjoy doing. I go into my studio, turn on the tape recorder, do three minutes of a dance that I've been doing just about every day for fifteen years. It works. (Even if I'm  restless, bored, or stuck,  it works -- I feel better, I'm functioning again.)

I wasn't enjoying writing this, so I got up and danced a three minute section-- easy steps, not strenuous. My dance has a story -- I enter the room -- gradually discover the floor, wall, mirrors, chairs -- a Mom chair, Daddy chair, and a kitchen chair. The dance ends after one last pat/touch of what I've discovered, and I exit, backing out of the room into the hallway.

This sort of ritual could work for you: Pick a poem, a passage from the bible, or verses from a favorite song, and create a few gestures for it. Next time you say your poem, do the same positions  You don't need music, a studio or props. It could take a minute, or five minutes -- it's like a prayer or fingering a rosary. 
I know that people who mediate believe in it, and are selling you a study course. Here's the link to the video my wise friend liked. She enrolled in a course.

Click -- MINDFUL MEDITATION. Take a quick look -- I find it overly pedantic, but you can return and watch this 20 minute video later.

Try this link -- it's a fast-talking woman who reminds me a little of me. who explains how  MEDITATION CAN RESHAPE OUR BRAINS. She says mediation helped her run the marathon. (It's an 8 minute video).

While you are "mediating" about this subject, here's the video I found most helpful about how to mediate.

Monday, August 11, 2014


Emily, tidying Cullum's office, wonders what to do with the programs, posters and un-opened bags of opening night gifts that are stashed in the closet.

John reveals that what's precious is his ever larger family of actors -- members of each show's cast -- special moments from rehearsals and performances -- that is what he cherishes.