Saturday, May 15, 2010


It's an old trend -- a very old one, that's becoming the newest new trend -- utilizing 19th century things from Victorian England -- fashion, machines, furniture, and fictional technological inventions like those found in Jules Verne and H.G. Wells -- hand-made objects you can take apart and put back together, the opposite of the iPhone with its shiny impenetrable exterior, it's impregnable interior.

Friday, May 14, 2010


Win some lose some, some rained out.

That's show-biz. There's no biz like it.

I've been there. Winning and losing when you're on your way to fame and fortune is what you have to learn to handle.

Oh yes, some people win, and win. And "Make it" without any losing. They are on their way, to stardom (or whatever you call it). That's good luck, and they are a good type, and their timing is good.

Timing that I'm talking about, is being in the right place, at the right time -- it means having a physical look that's you, and not like someone else -- having a memorable name, and talent that's there, that's natural -- you can use it/be it/do it without changing what you are.

Yes, a winner can grow, and develop and expand what he does -- but, win-some-lose-some -- winning is bigger and better if it's what you are already, on the day you win.

Other things are important -- finding an adviser, director, writer, choreographer, accompanist, manager, agent, publicist. More important is your lover, the one who loves you, or whom you love -- that can mess up winning, but ... a winner may experience losing when it comes to the people on his/her team, and still win.

Losing is ... well, like scraping a fender, or crashing a car, there are degrees. You can be crippled, or lose your looks, or just get bruised, banged up but able to heal. How you handle it -- you go on better than ever -- or you don't, and then, of course, you begin the losing.

Conan O'Brien has won, and won again and again. He has been mostly rising for seventeen years, until January 2010 when NBC pulled the plug on his short-lived stint as host of "The Tonight Show" and installed Jay Leno in his place.

He's forty-seven.

I've observed, on the late side of your forties, there are changes in confidence, energy, and a blind drive to win. Winning in your thirties is better. Winning in your fifties is tricky.

But, this is what I know -- this is my big BUT:
I saw and felt in Conan O'Brien, before what happened this past January, too much need, too much working too hard, too much effortful selling, bending, re-designing of the man.

I haven't watched him a lot in previous years. His entrance bothered me -- his sort of dancer-like, zippty-zip turn, pose, freeze. Choices he's made as a performer/actor/comic/host are strong, clear, well- defined, but many things -- too many -- have a neediness that seemed to be saying applaud me, love me, like me.

I think his neediness often shows, and though he's won for himself an audience -- fans, followers, devotees -- what he's been feeling and saying and what trickles back from his current tour -- what he says about his TBS show on cable in the fall ... well ...

He has a future; he's not gone, not forgotten, but there's no biz like this biz. He skidded on the win-some-lose-some trail. He's scarred.

Conan O'Brien the winner, is losing.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


The planet was definitely younger, and YES INDEED, so was I.

Last month, April 22nd, was Earth Day -- since 1970, it's been a day, a month to observe.

With various "what's happening to our world" thoughts floating around since the oil spill, I've been telling myself, for goodness sake, pay attention.

I haven't really been paying attention -- I've been too busy with ... well ... life things.

Here's are some Earth Day concerns that have improved since 1970.

1. ACID RAIN ... I didn't know anything about it until Prince performed "Purple Rain" on TV and even then, I thought he was singing about rain drops not "acid." Anyhow, according to the 2008 statistics on the world's Acid Rain problem, regulations and laws have helped, but precipitation (rain) is still more acidic than it should be.

2. OZONE LAYER ... Because of the Montreal Global treaty of 1989, the ozone layer is recovering. (Signed by 196 states, fluorocarbons, HFCs, refrigerants in spray cans were banished. Most spray cans these days are okay to use.)

3. TOXIC SUBSTANCES ... Regulations have definitely helped, but there are, unfortunately, new toxic substances that are harming us (not on the list) and that's a worry.

4. AIR POLLUTION ... It's under control, but according researchers at California State University in Fullerton, bad air is maybe contributing to deaths of 18,000 in California.

5. ENDANGERED SPECIES ... Seven have become extinct, but fifteen species that were dying out, have recovered. (Yay for the "blue pike" and the "seaside sparrow." )

6. ENERGY USE ... Our "efficiency" is improved, (for instance, we're using those florescent light bulbs), but U.S. use, per person, is twice that of France and Germany.

Still worrisome:
7. CLIMATE CHANGE ... It's 19% worse now, according to the UNEP (United Nations Environment Program.)

8. SOLID WASTE ... We generate 250 million tons per year, per person -- MORE than we used to, and our landfills are in serious trouble.

So aside from writing and talking about it, what can I do? Be aware! Buy un-packaged things when possible! Use efficient appliances! Recycle carefully! Donate money to 'save the planet' causes!

I am occupying space on the planet, creating trash -- but I turn off lights, my new appliances are energy savers, and I haven't been driving, but if I needed to, I'd rent a non-gas-guzzling car and drive within the speed limit. And I don't smoke, or light a fire in the fireplace or go camping, or hunting.

If I do better, it won't make much difference. If all of us, other people similar to me, did better in all eight areas I've listed, would it help save the planet?

If all the people on the earth stopped everything that affects those eight concerns, will it prolong life on earth?

Numbers (approximate): 217,000 babies are born every day in the world; population is almost 9 billion; next year, 80 million more; since 350,000 people die each day, we're adding about 33,000 people a day.

Wait a minute -- we've been fretting fussing abortions, in-vitro fertilization, surrogates, and listening to warnings about climate, melting glaciers, nuclear proliferation, killer diseases -- we've got starving people, earthquake survivors, wars, terrorists , and 33,000 more people every day are going to run us out of water, food ...

So it's life, life itself that is creating the death of the planet?

Then what I do to preserve blue skies, stars, grass, flowers, air to breathe -- whatever I do is just for me?

It doesn't sound very large or significant but that is all I can really celebrate on Earth Day:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I was all set to write about Simon Cowell, American Idol Judge and show maker. He's fifty. He has a live-in girl friend and he's said, and she's said, "We're engaged. I counted 29 projects -- "names" in music that he's launched, television shows he's created, and companies he's formed.

He left school early and did menial jobs -- he was a runner for Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" movie for awhile; his Dad pulled strings, and Simon got a job in the mailroom of BMI, the giant music publisher.

Daddy was a successful music biz exec, Mom a ballet dancer, grandparents were English Jewish and Scottish. He has one brother and two half brothers. He grew in the music business, and around twenty-one, with his "arts" sensitivity, started making it -- creating, conceiving ideas, selling them, earning money, succeeding.

I know the story from his face and manner. And the list of companies and projects he's been involved with confirms what I see and sense in him.

Cowell knows what works. He senses what the other person is -- performer, money-maker, go-getter, loser or winner, needy or a too-needy dreamer.

He knows in a flash. And yet, he watches, listens, reacts and knows when he's wrong. That's a talent, or ... actually, it's a gift -- yes, a beneficence that comes from identifying with, understanding, and momentarily becoming the person whom he's observing. It's a gentleness, kindness -- sweetness.

When a performer "bombs" -- (and many, many would-be "Idols" have no talent, bad taste, an unrealistic view of themselves), he tells the person straight-out that his voice or his performance is not good. It can sound cruel, and often the devastated performer feels Cowell is mean, impatient, even nasty. But the opposite is true -- he is being kind.

Simon just tells the truth.

How do I know? I know because I'm a "know" person -- it takes one to know one. It's not easy sometimes, to say truthfully what you feel, and in show business -- be it music, dance, theater, art, or any aspect of the "Fame" business, if you are a knower, people who don't know admire you, love you-hate you, but are intensely interested in hearing what you have to say.

I like Simon Cowell. I don't think he's ever mean or cruel. He's an attractive man, with a readable, open face. He doesn't beat around the bush. He knows the market, the audience, and all that's involved in creating ... whatever ... an "Idol," an inventor, a best-seller gimmick, a program kids will love, or a super-star.

And this guy knows all the off-stage crafts -- costume, lighting, makeup, music arrangements, choreography, diction-talking-hosting, as well negotiating -- money, contracts, publicity, and futurizing (figuring what to do with a property in the various tangible and intangible ways).

Yes, he's creating a new X Factor show about the X -- that indefinable, mysterious, amazing, extra something in a talented person, that makes a winner.

No, I'm not a fan. I'm not following him on Facebook, or Twitter. Com. This is a rave because (like I said), it takes one to know one.

I KNOW Mr. Simon Cowell has it -- the X power.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


"Nessie." the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland, captures the imagination of many people.

There were headlines just last week "Policeman says Nessie is real."

There are knowledgeable quotes from the Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine where the head guy, Loren Coleman, keeps records and investigates sightings of the world's mythic creatures. Old photographs and current ones, made by tourists, keep us interested, excited, curious -- is there solid, factual proof that the Loch Ness Monster is real?

Out of this question flow other questions:

Are there strange creatures roaming the earth? What about ghosts? Is there really ESP? Will the world end on one of the dates that have been predicted? Are Shirley MacLaine's other selves communicating with her? Did Houdini prove that mediums and spiritualists were fraudulent? What about Channeling, UFO's, crop circles?

Have we invented the concept of supernatural forces because it helps us face the inevitability of death? Maybe Big foot, Yeti, and the Loch Ness Monster are part that, like angels and ghosts, and other inexplicable things.

About ten years ago, Coleman, who co-authored of "Field Guide to Lake Monsters," scheduled a submarine exploration in Loch Ness with Dan Scott Taylor.

Taylor was with the policeman who declared Nessie was real -- 30 YEARS AGO. Yes, the headlines made it sound current, Coleman and a much older Taylor planned to harpoon the beast and take a DNA sample.

Scottish authorities, learning of Taylor’s plan, revoked his exploration permits and the submarine trip never materialized. Taylor died in 2005.

Coleman said: “There’s always been the sense that quietly they (Scottish authorities) were taking the reports more validly. There was a serious acknowledgment that the Loch Ness Monster exists.” (He was tactfully explaining that the Scotts want to keep their flourishing tourist business alive.)

While the submarine trip didn't happen, Coleman presided over a two-week surface expedition in Scottland, in 1999. He interviewed 38 people who claimed to have seen the monster. Coleman said, "Eight appeared valid."

What about "Champ," a creature seen by Jimmy Garter and Ronald Reagan in Lake Champlain? And the giant lizard that recently appeared in the Philippines? And vampires? What do you think about vampires?

I wonder if it comes down to kid stuff -- do I -- did I believe in the tooth fairy, or Santa? Do I, do you knock on wood, cross your fingers?

Do I, do you believe in good luck? What about fate?

It's interesting, fun, to ask these questions and wonder about the Loch Ness Monster, and realize people had fun with this 30 years ago.

What do I really, truly, honestly believe?

I believe that I don't know what I believe. Depending upon my mood, I keep changing my mind.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Here's what I'd say to you Hillary, if I could pick up the phone and talk to you.

You've been a focus, someone to think about and address in my mind for many years. I have watched you change, aware of changes in myself -- my own ageing and adjusting to changing circumstances.

Your dark eyebrows, your eyes-- "strong eyed woman" was my first impression. The first time I saw you, you and your husband were on a major television show, discussing the rumors about a girl who claimed she was Bill's mistress for a long time.

I was riveted. The two of you seemed to be a very "together" couple -- neither amused or annoyed by the interviewer's questions. Quite casually you and Bill established that nothing happened. That Bill was playing around seemed unimportant -- whatever happened was a thing of the past.

(If we'd known about Bill's playing around back then, before the election, he might not have won. Infidelity was, and still is, maybe now more than ever, a serious negative for any candidate.)

Anyhow, I decided to vote for Bill Clinton. I liked the youthfulness of the two of you.

And then he was President Clinton. And you put together a healthcare plan that was kicked around, negated, ridiculed even, and rudely dropped. I wondered why the President had promoted it -- wondered if you were a pushy wife, pressing him to promote what you'd worked on.

Your health-care plan that failed, hung over you -- it's never gone completely away -- it was a spot on a pretty dress that couldn't be removed.

But we had Chelsea -- the three of you together, a real family. Other news flashes about you and a man who committed suicide, rumors about your love affair with him, and Kenneth Starr investigating Whitewater ... It's faded but lingers as a shadow in the Clinton's history.

All this seems important as I recall the look of you, pictures of your house in Chappaqua, New York, and you winning the election, and becoming Senator Hillary Clinton -- the joy and sparkle in you, the feeling I got that you were becoming you. And Bill's enthusiastic response to your winning was great! The Clinton family image was stronger than ever.

There are other visions, but the past is not as powerful as the present -- what he is and what you are right now, today.

Monica Lewinsky stuff was bad. Bill's still paying for it, even though he's a number-one, top man in the world. (To me he is.)

How you've handled all that has become a crown you wear.

Your presidential campaign -- your ideas, clarity, power, knowledge, wit, humor, honesty, and what Bill and Chelsea added to all that -- and what you are doubled, tripled in importance. It's fresh in my mind. There's no need to recapitulate how you lost the presidential primary election and became a heroine for women everywhere in the world.

What you are now is why I'm phoning you.

You've evolved from the almost-president Hillary to the full-grown tree of Hillary Rodham Clinton, trunk, boughs, branches, twigs, and leaves that hang protectively over our country.

The piquant, ha-ha look on your face on the cover of Newsweek, says: "Think what you want, folks -- I'm doing my job."

The facts reverberate -- what you accomplished in Copenhagen, you playing the heavy with Iran, Russia, and even Israel -- also with North Korea, China, and connecting with National-security adviser Gen. James Jones -- the half-million miles you've traveled with your lists, (what people call your "Methodism") it's on my yay-for-Hillary list. (I'm a list maker like you.)

I applaud your re-connecting with John Kerry, the two of you meeting with Afghanistan's Karzai, your bond with V.P. Joe Biden, your machinations to get a major military-relief operation going in Haiti, the town hall meetings you call "town-terviews" that you do in foreign countries with local citizens, local media. And Bill ... (thinner, wearing spectacles, still very much tender husband, and international political leader) -- I love the way he said NO, to the idea of you or he being a Supreme Court Judge, because "we're both too old."

The changes in you that symbolize, (to my female eye eyeing another female) the new, older, wiser you -- shorn hair with just a few, modish, loose locks, your tailored outfits that convey a business-like, efficient, authoritative, Secretary of State's I AM WHAT I AM pride.

Thanks for being there, and being you, Hillary. You inspire me to ignore ageing and go after my work, do my work stronger, sharper, better than ever.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


A 1999 federal law was nullified, scrapped by the Supreme Court in April.

The law said selling videos or photos of animals being tortured or killed was a crime.

Wow ... I find it hard to believe that this law has been overruled by the Supreme Court.

I think this is serious bad news.

The Supreme Court ruling -- 8 to 1 -- overturned the conviction of a man who sold dog-fighting videos.

Government lawyers had defended the 1999 law on the grounds that photos of animals being tortured, like pornography involving children, should be outside the protection of the First Amendment because the speech has little value and comes at a high cost to society.

They did their best, but they didn't convince the Supreme Court.

Chief Justice John Roberts rejected the idea that the First Amendment protects only speech that is desirable. He called the scope of the law "alarming." If the law is interpreted narrowly, he argued, it could be taken as a ban on hunting videos. He rejected the government lawyers argument that footage of such dubious value and high social cost did not merit protection.

The one justice who dissented was Samuel A. Alito Jr. He's usually an arch conservative (his spaniel Zeus sometimes shows up around the court). He argued that the law could still be used to stop crush videos, which apparently appeal to some people's sexual fetish by showing women in stiletto heels crushing animals to death.

So, as of Tuesday April 20th, it is protected free speech to make and sell videos of pit bulls tearing each other to pieces.

Representative Elton Gallegly, Republican, Calif. and Jim Moran, Democrat, Va., co-chairs of the Animal Protection Caucus, have already introduced a bi-partisan bill that will narrowly focus the 1999 bill to deal with crush videos.

You and I and our friends could contact them.

It's complicated. Golly, their bill may not be enough -- it exempts hunting videos -- that could be a loophole for a clever producer.

Get to work PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals! Get to work if you love animals -- email, tweet, contact your congress person -- it can be fixed. We've got to fix it!