Friday, February 12, 2016


It's a good day for a visit and a cup of tea. You buzz our buzzer. I say hi, we're four flights up; and buzz you in. As you enter -- whamo --  the color hits you.

You're are a bit out of breath -- you've climbed four flights of stairs, while blinking at our shocking pink and bright orange walls.

We are not rich, but my mother gave us money for the down payment on the building where we live and work. Over the years, we paid off the mortgage and now own this five story building, and occupy two floors.

Each floor is 2,200 square feet. The third floor is our offices and studio theater. The top floor is our home. It used to be a loft where lamp shades were manufactured. Once upon a time it had gas jets. (No electric lights, no bathroom, no hot water, or heat.)

"Come in," I say.

"Wow,"  or "Gee," you'll probably think. Here in the middle of Manhattan, you don't expect to see a bright green enamel floor, a bright green enamel metal ceiling, and curved white walls.

"We can sit in here," I say, stopping at a curved wall, with a keyhole-shaped doorway. We walk through the keyhole and there we are.

(Click on the picture; when its larger, you'll see, in the slots on the curved wall, some of John Cullum's theater awards.)

JC and I have often have breakfast here.  Even in the middle of the winter, we feel like we're sitting on our front porch on a balmy summer day.

You look up and see sun pouring in from the skylight overhead.

In the corner there's a huge bird cage that was home for our white pigeon, "Little Soup," who stunned us when he turned out to be a she, and laid a beautiful white egg. (We also had a dog named "Teechie," a cat named Helpie," and three fish tanks -- I've written about them in some of my blogs.)

I pick up a large silver ashtray that's sitting on an large beige marble coffee table. "This is JC's trophy from playing a celebrity tennis match as Billie Jean King's partner." (JC, before he became an actor, played high-level tennis -- when I met his family in Knoxville, I was open-mouthed when I saw all the trophies he'd won.)

The furniture in the green room is white wicker. I point out the white rocking chair. "That's from my play 'Zinnia,' and those paperback books over there -- that's an antique baker's rack.

I lead you through our dining room. It's a 10-foot white Formica dinner table shaped like a huge mushroom, with five black and five white folding chairs around it. On the other side of the "push through" for dishes, is a smaller mushroom -- the kitchen table, and our kitchen.

Everything is brown, black or orange. The refrigerator is huge. There are cabinets galore. Dancing left and right, I can whip up a meal for two, four, or ten people in about thirty minutes. (No kidding, it's my Hawaiian-Chinese recipes -- I love to cook, got a knack for it.)

We move into a brown room.

It's a hangout room -- walls covered with patches of patterned cloth -- shades of red and brown -- squares, rhomboids, and triangles. It's got two comfortable brown-velour couches, a large black marble coffee table; end-tables are logs. Book shelves and great lamps are everywhere.

Yes, that's a piano -- it used to be black, but with paint remover and a lot of elbow grease, JC and I turned it into a golden brown. The hangout room is where we shoot videos for Air Broadcasting, our YouTube channel. The Mac Computer (it has a camera) sits on the piano and films us -- we sitt on the piano bench.

Yes, our home is practical -- easy to keep clean, and there are plenty of closets -- also a room with a separate entrance for JD, our actor son. With JD in Hollywood, it's where JC makes me rye bread, using our bread machine).

There's a real laundry room.  I've got my own lime green bathroom. JC has a white and forest green one.

The bedroom is an attic room in the middle of New York City. Real brick, pointed -- no ceiling -- just the beams, and above the beams is the roof of the building. It's brrr cold in there in the winter, but great for sleeping. Here's a peek at foot of the bed.

P.S. In the hangout room, behind the brown chair with a yellow X on it's cushion, there's an Em "thing" on a wall that used to be a no-color burlap. Now it's my eight-foot by four-foot "Heart" doodle -- worth a click.  I sat on ladder one evening, and did it with chalks. 

I ask, "Do you want coffee, espresso?  Hot tea, or ice tea? Where would you like to sit -- in the green room or in our hangout room?"

We'll probably settle in the green room. No doubt about it -- our home is an interesting  mish-mash of styles and colors  that's ... well ... it's like a stage set. John Cullum loves it and  belongs here, and I certainly belong here; it's our home-made "home sweet home."

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


UBER is expanding. It's founder, Travis Kalanick, seems to be obsessed with the concept -- that everything that mankind needs, does, desires, can be UBERed.

The word "uber" means "denoting an outstanding or supreme example of a particular kind of person or thing." In today's world with Kalanick's business in 300 locations, it also means "above," "beyond." "over," and "super."

UBER is in 58 countries and worth around $40 to $50 -- maybe $60 billion. The value is going up-up-up, with more and more services you can buy, hire, rent, utilize.

You can acquire fresh food, flowers, liquor, ice cream, cake, beauty treatments, valet service; hire a chef, get dinner party and cocktail party services, get your mail mailed, your packages packed and shipped; you can travel by limo, car, train or jet, get car repairs -- get it washed, gassed, pointed and painted.

The Wall Street Journal summed it up. “There’s an UBER for everything now. Washio is for having someone do your laundry, Sprig and SpoonRocket cook your dinner, Shyp will mail things so you don’t have to brave the post office. Zeel delivers a massage therapist with table. Heal sends a doctor on a house call, Saucey will rush over alcohol, Dufl will pack your suitcase, and Eaze will rev up a medical marijuana supply.”

Enjoying these names, I also discovered you can Luxe, which uses GPS to offer a personal parking valet, dressed in a blue uniform, who will meet you at your destination and park your car for you.

There's not yet an uber for baby-sitting, dental work, wall papering, plumbing and electrical repairs, but you can get an Uber to check your house once or twice a day while you're on vacation, handle moth proofing, shovel the snow, or mow the lawn.

Are you thinking Wow? Yay? Wondering what it could cost, and can you check the credentials of an Uber employee? What about tipping?

An article in the UK Daily Telegraph revealed that you are asked to grade your Uber service person and the service person will grade you. You may give the guy a 5 star rating for services rendered, but will they give you a 5 star rating for politeness, promptness,  and an appropriately friendly, considerate demeanor? Apparently, if you aren't a "5," you may call for an Uber taxi, but one might not show up.

Hmm. So if you want a well-UBERed life, you better bone up and practice gracious good behavior.

Saturday, February 6, 2016


This is something John Cullum and Emily Frankel find themselves discussing when they're into a new year making plans for the next month or two.

Teasing, they mention trivial things. 

As usual, together, they figure out why -- nowadays -- they enjoy doing things together, more than ever.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


Meet inventor Lowell Wood. He's 74, 6 ft.2, reddish grey beard, paunchy, and his very friendly, easy-going, laughing sort of smile. suggests "happy guy."

As the main inventor at "Intellectual Ventures," a research and patent firm that he founded, he's paying himself to think -- to develop products that might address some of the world's pressing needs.

This guy is an astrophysicist, self-trained paleontologist, (a person who studies fossils), computer scientist, and undoubtedly among most prolific inventors in history. When Thomas Edison died, he had 1,084 patents. This guy has 1,085 and he's very proud of that fact -- you hear it when you're talking with him. Actually, conversing with him, mostly, you are listening. He talks a lot. He digresses into physics, space lasers, pestilence, rockets, whale oil, lithography, fracking, and remembering minute details -- wars.
At the beginning of his career, he assisted Edmund Teller, the father of the Hydrogen bomb, and also worked on Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars," developing an anti-ballistic missile system that would prevent attacks from countries like Russia. But most of  his 3000 pending patents are whimsical things -- a laser based shaver, a microwave that can customize its power for whatever is on a plate, a low-power clothes dryer, an anti-collision system for cars, anti- concussion helmet for footballers, a thermos for preserving vaccines, most recently, a device that creates medical gear "conferencing," so that patients can leave a hospital and use various machines at home.

Microsoft's former boss, Bill Gates, admiring him, said, "He's a polymath. (person of a wide range of learning.) It's not just what he knows, but how his brain works. He gives himself the freedom to look at problems in a different way. To me that's the mark of a great inventor."

Being that my husband and son love football, I'm interested in what this inventor is doing about concussions.

Lowell Wood said, "I didn't know the first thing about a concussion. I thought it was just brain slamming against the interior of the skull, particularly violently. Basically, that has nothing to do what a real concussion is. Concussion occurs by the brain being very rapidly twisted inside the skull -- the angle of the acceleration. It's the time rate of change, and the speed of the twist that tears neural fibers apart -- a ghastly sort of thing. It literally just rips the nervous system apart. If you do the same thing again a week or two later, or an hour or two later, heaven help you. The damage becomes more severe,  and takes longer to heal. If you do it three times in a bad afternoon on the soccer field or football field, the damage is likely to be permanent."

Wood's anti-concussion solution: "Sensors in the helmet trigger a mechanism that fuses the player's helmet and shoulder pads; spikes shoot down from the helmet to keep the head from turning." Wood won't reveal who approached him to work on helmet technology until the invention has been patented and actually being manufactured.

To my un polymath mind, it seems awfully complicated. And similarly, Wood's ideas about fixing global warming seem very far out. He says global warning can be stopped relatively quickly and inexpensively through geoengineering -- suggested using high altitude balloons to release particles of sulfur to provide shade for the planet. His other idea: "sink the atmosphere's carbon-dioxide into the deep ocean or push the warm water on the top layer of the ocean down to the bottom."

Inventor Wood said (somewhat comfortingly), "There is little chance that  global warming would wipe out the species," and pointed out, "There are plenty of ideas. It's frankly illiterate not to be optimistic. We're going to see a blossoming across every front, in human technological history. This is not something that's hoped for. This is baked in the cake."
Where does this leave you and me? Well... a tad hopeful. Maybe this inventor's fresh ideas, far, far out ideas are going to be the way we can solve how we are harming the planet.

Golly, I hope so. My ears are perked up. I'm banishing my instinctive response to new, often wildly different solutions. Didn't Edison came up with amazing, inconceivable inventions? Hey, Wood is telling us, even if it seems inconceivable -- proceed -- no matter how wildly, weirdly strange the ingredients are, taste the cake.