Saturday, May 29, 2010


I've blogged about trash! We did a video about it! John Cullum and I wrote a musical about it, and here I am again, talking about garbage.

When I go outside, what I see on every street is garbage in bins, mountains of black plastic bags next to restaurants, and loose garbage that people drop any place.

There is no green growing anything on my street in New York City, except a patch every few blocks -- a skinny unhealthy looking tree in a patch of not-flourishing grass and weeds, surrounded by a low metal fence with warning signs about no poop, no peeing.

The EPA (Environment Protection Agency) gives our building tickets if someone drops garbage on our steps -- our steps seem to be a picnic place for employees who work in the neighborhood. Our Super sweeps the steps, sidewalk and gutter in front of our building twice a day, and he's made friends with the EPA guys, who keep appearing with tickets that range between $25 and $100.

I've been to "court" where landlords go to plead Not Guilty. We get tickets for the garbage in front of the neighbors' buildings, and then, armed with photos, we have to prove that the EPA guy made a mistake.

Does this sound sort of ... depressing, sad, annoying, ridiculous? It is. But that's what happens in New York City. The EPA needs money -- its budget was cut along with the budgets for schools, fire departments and police, so it hires guys to check the streets not just on week days, but also on weekends.

On summer weekends, since we are the only set of steps in our entire block, we sometimes have families lunching on our steps, with kids, toys, sandwiches, cokes and desserts.

I like living in Manhattan. I like the fact that we live on the top two floors of our five-story building, and thus have the equivalent of a fourteen room house in the center of the city. But the garbage situation is HELL. We don't have a elevator.

Our recycled trash and garbage has to be carried downstairs twice-a-week, for pickup by a private garbage company that charges $40 a week. Lugging bags down 5 flights is NOT a fun job.

Are you entertained by this story? Well, here is a discussion John and I had in December, when the hallways are cold. In the summer, which is upon us, on days when there's no pickup, we have to keep the bags tightly sealed -- sprayed so the fragrance won't attract flies, mosquitoes, and little (and not so little), four-legged critters.

As you will see and hear, Em and John Cullum are very interested in new, innovative ideas about garbage.

Friday, May 28, 2010


My fingers were ready to tap dance about Lisa Kudrow on my keyboard. I stopped -- I had to include Jennifer Aniston and Courtney Cox.

I watched the television show "Friends," after its heyday, and loved it, still love it. Like "Seinfeld," most of the episodes are gems, worth seeing more than once.

All the friends are fun, and interesting. Where they are now is even more interesting, the extraordinary career-things that have happened for each of them.

The spectacular things -- Jennifer's hair style became THE style, and is still on most every young, pretty head -- long, blondish, loose, semi straight locks. Courtney has produced some projects that don't quite work, but she's working, creating, improving "Cougar Town," the project that she's starring in right now. (It may become a hit show.)

Jennifer's a spectacularly talented actress, but I'm not sure she will ever recover from the Brad Pitt marriage catastrophe. She's always interesting in the many movies she's doing (one after another, with gossip about her sleeping with the leading man of each film.) And lately, alas -- we're getting lots of bikini photo revelations.

I admire her, I salute her talent, but her effectiveness in films is getting muddied by wrong emphasis.

Hey -- who am I to say what's right or wrong? Ho ho -- the answer to that is --SEEING IS BELIEVING. I trust my eyes, brain, heart, and experience with watching talent grow tall, or grow ... mm ... twisted. Be careful Jennifer... your marvelous looks are less marvelous now and you need to control where you're heading.

Be careful Courtney -- you never had the whatever it is, that makes a super special actress.

Courtney Cox has a great body, beauty, and a large talent, but producing shows and starring in them isn't working for her. Though she's certainly entertained me, pleased me, interested me, she doesn't fascinate me.

Lisa Kudrow does. I planned to write this post only about her, and try to explain why she is special. It's the click, zoom in something-or-other that she does -- even better and more so, than she could do when she was playing Phoebe in "Friends."

I'm not going to do a review or list of movies Lisa Kudrow has done. I just want to say she's got it. If you, the reader, are a would-be actor, watch any of the movie's Kudrow has done -- watch, and feel her commitment to the new person she becomes. It's beautiful, total, and remarkable.

Lisa Kudrow is magical -- no doubt about it. I'm just one person, but I know. I am not confused by publicity or what other people say. I know based on knowledge of acting, theater, and watching the rise and fall of many talented actors.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


She is 44 years old. She reached the summit of Annapurna, the 26,000-foot Himalayan Peak last month, and has been officially acknowledged as the first woman to scale the world's 14 highest peaks. (The Highest peaks are over 8000 meters, or 4.97 miles -- if you scale 14 of them you're on the list -- a short list -- not many climbers have managed to do it.)

Oh Eun-son, a South Korean, is a super athlete about whom we ought to know more. I could only find two short articles about the event.

We are certainly in touch with South Korea. We can phone there, or e-mail someone; we can read their daily papers; get their weather reports; see a Google map of Seoul. (There's a Google in South Korea, though Naver is their most-used search engine.)

Maybe South Koreans have been following the latest news on Oh Eun-son on Naver? It's odd, that so few facts are available. I mean, South Korea is an okay place -- not under the secretive, oppressive dictatorship of Kim Jong-il, of North Korea. (Maybe his anti-everything-rule (especially anything that's liberated or female) is infecting South Korea?)

I'd like to know more about Oh Eun-son.. What's her life is like? Is she rich or poor? How does she earn a living? Is she educated? How did she get into mountain-climbing? Who pays the expenses -- equipment, staff, actual costs of each climbing venture? How did she train? What are her plans. When she walks down the street, do people in South Korea recognize Miss Oh (or is she a Mrs.)?

Reuters News reported: "Oh Eun-son smiled as she received flowers, upon her arrival at Inchon International Airport." (That's it, not why she was there, or who gave her flowers.)

Here's a another quote: "Because of a sudden ominous feeling that something bad would happen to either me or my peers, including the Sherpas, on my way back to base camp," Oh told The Korea Times newspaper, "I carried a photo of Ko Mi-young who fell to her death last year." (Ko Mi-young was Oh's friend and rival.)

KBS (Korea Broadcasting System) footage showed Oh breathing heavily after each step in minus-20 Fahrenheit temperatures on snowy Annapurna. "I'm so happy, and I would like to share this joy with the South Korean people," said an emotional Oh Eun-son, murmuring, "Thank you, thank you."

Another newspaper said as she reached the summit, she climbed the last few steps on all fours. It would be great, to see a picture, or hear more about those last few steps, but ... zilch, nada, nothing.

I'm not a rah-rah fighter or big supporter of women's issues -- I never felt a need to fight for equality, equal opportunity or equal pay because I've always done what I wanted to do, and earned the most I could earn, and behaved publicly and privately, instinctively. (Sure, I've inherited attitudes from my mom, but Mom's attitudes haven't kept me from following my own instincts.)

But this 14 summits thing is a big deal -- a real victory for a woman.

I checked NOW (National Organization for Women), which has 500,000 members --a large Website, newsletter, and calendar of important events and achievements. To my amazement, there was no mention of Oh Eun-son on NOW's calendar of achievements, or on its events list, for the past year.

I just want women and men to know the name Oh Eun-son; enjoy the peppy, powerful sense of the woman that I feel when I look at her picture. Yes, I know this is a woman who had big dreams, pursued them, achieved them. And I want others ... women and girls all of the world to salute her! Yes ! And maybe get her on Facebook, and send her congratulatory notes and get some pictures and dialogue going on who she really is.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


"A Brief History of Time," this guy's best-seller science book, sits beside our bed. His vision of the world -- black holes, the big bang, time, space, speed of light ... I turn the page (mostly I have to go back and read it again), and after a page or two, I'm sleepy and turn off the light. Much of what's in this book I sort of grasp, but I can't really feel what it means.

What I do understand is what life is like for Hawking. His situation is worse than paraplegia. After a head-on collision, I was a partial paraplegic, paralyzed from the waist down. It took me -- wow -- a long time, money, prayers, a lot of doctors, 125 exercises twice-a-day for two years, and every ounce of will power to keep at it, to regain normal bladder and bowel control ... standing ... walking, and yes, re-learning basic ballet, and finally dancing.

Well, next to Stephen Hawking, what I did was "easy as pie."

He was born in 1942. He's 68. Exceptionally smart, always interested in math and science, he got a B.A. degree at Oxford in 1962. He planned to stay there and study astronomy, but impulsively, left for Cambridge (their observatory had better equipment), and got involved with theoretical astronomy and cosmology.

At Cambridge (around age 22), he started developing symptoms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease), a type of disease which cost Hawking almost all neuromuscular control. Even so, despite almost overwhelming limitations, he began working on his PhD.

Today Hawking, one of the world's most famous, important, theoretical physicists, is almost completely paralyzed from ALS. He needs an electronic voice synthesizer, in order to communicate.

Because of what it took for me to become my husband's lover again, I wonder about Hawking's private life. He married and had three children (successful adults now); he divorced, and married his nurse. Could he, did he, does he have a sex life? Yes, I think about things like that, but erase them from the blackboard of my thoughts -- there are many things about Hawking (and me) that are much, much, MUCH more important.

Like Newton, and Einstein, this man has been opening the world's eyes. Today, Stephen Hawking is on the Discovery Channel. He's created and recorded a ten-part series for them, that you can also download and see whenever you're in the mood. In his series of films entitled "The Story of Everything," Hawking explores time, travel, and the origins of the universe.

It's a huge project, one that an ambitious, young movie-maker might have spent years on researching and coordinating.

Like a mind-reader, asking questions about things we wonder about -- for instance, are there aliens, what is a black hole, what's ahead for our planet, Hawking -- with clear sentences and marvelous music, photos, and filmed visions of the universe, enlightens us, and entertains all of us, oldsters and youngsters.

Gehrig started losing his strength at 36; was diagnosed at 39, died at age 42, calling himself "The luckiest man on the Face of the Earth."

Lucky, lucky us -- we still have an alert, 68-year-old Stephen Hawking observing the world, and excitedly sharing with us, thrilling us with what he's still learning.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Good God! Mrs. Clinton, Secretary of State, our Hillary Rodham Clinton who made a place for herself in my life, isn't on the list?

Or Rachel Maddow, girl reporter, who gives me a clear, honest, straight look at the news every night -- she isn't on the list?

Time Magazine published a list of the 100 most influential people in America. There are 64 names on it that I do not know, do not recognize.

Who put together the list -- a committee? Donald Trump? (the guy controls an awful lot of everything behind the scenes these days -- I think he wants to be King of America, but he'd settle for being our next president. )

Okay, I'm simmering down! I see the credits -- the managing editor and his assistant assembled the list.

Should I be annoyed? Or impressed? Should I be wasting think time on this list? The editor says they picked -- "People whose ideas and actions revolutionized their fields and transformed lives ... you might not have heard of them but their innovations and efforts will help change the world for years to come."

My goodness, Hillary's efforts are changing the world. She's transformed the lives of millions of women for all the reasons we know by heart -- Hillary the wife of a brilliant president, tough-minded, brilliant scholar on her own -- Hillary the political mind who could have been our president, who lost to the man she competed with intensely, whom she's now helping with her boundless energy -- right now, this very moment, Hillary the Secretary of State is working for him and for us throughout the uneasy, ruffled world that she is calming down.

Hillary the woman who understands love, loyalty, devotion, family, commitment ... She was badly hurt by what her husband did, in front of the world's eyes. And she has brushed herself off, stood up, stood tall, never avoided that painful reality, but made it part of her, part of what makes me, and the thousands of women throughout the world need Hillary, have Hillary on our list. She's revolutionized our sense of marriage, and transformed many lives -- her courage and lovingness will help change the world for years to come.

(Hey Time Magazine editors, I'm quoting you -- using your criterion -- you need to revise that list.)

As for Rachel M: She's knocking us out, revolutionizing our sense of politics -- her courage, insight, honesty and energy is helping to change our world right now. Maddow is giving young women, (and men too) a look at what's happening without political, racial, or social-societal prejudice of any kind. "Just look" she says, telling us, teaching us not to close our eyes, or close our minds to new ideas, or be afraid.

Hillary is the woman to emulate. Rachel is the younger generation that gives me hope for the future.

Monday, May 24, 2010


It's everywhere -- violence breeds more violence.

It's sort of like onion rings, whipped cream, or a Big Mac. A kid, having a taste, will think "Yummy, I want more." And if it's super delicious, he can't help wanting more, and more, and more.

So nowadays, we're paying a lot of attention to fatsos, making them overly aware of cholesterol, trans-fats, eating less, losing weight, and the life and death importance of eating right foods, keeping away from the wrong foods.

It's progress -- we've known for years that over-eating is bad -- we should have done something about this earlier.

Life and death important is what we should have done earlier, and need to do about VIOLENCE -- the thrill, the challenge, the fun and joy, the ecstasy of playing and winning and immersing one's self in the world of a video game.

California is up in arms about children killing zombies, prostitutes, pimps and terrorists, about pushing buttons and enjoying killing, maiming, dismembering humans, especially if they're evil, bad guys, whose private parts deserve to be exploded, destroyed.

Hurray for LA lawyers, finally, for the first time, convincing the Supreme Court to look at the $20 billion video-game industry, But will the Supreme Court pass a law? And if the court does, won't the Anti-Everything-New guys fight it, and incapacitate it?

Still it's progress -- 80% of the California video game stores are voluntarily refusing to sell the worst games to minors (though the game manufacturers continue to claim there is no provable connection between game playing and "aggressive behavior" in real life).

Meanwhile, the stores that won't sell to minors, are selling to adults who play the games, with their kids watching over their shoulders.

And the more illegal it gets, the more the "worst" games -- the gruesome, degenerate ones -- are attracting kids and adults, inspiring film makers to provide even more shocking sex-murder-death scenes that draw larger audiences.

Like deadly weapons, pills, drugs -- what's forbidden, illegal, and hard-to-get is more passionately, obsessively sought.

Can we stop it?

We are not stopping it -- we don't have the legislation to stop the sale of guns, games, or illegal substances. Except, maybe in California, where there have always been liberated, free-thinking voters who raise money, get thousands of signatures on petitions -- and get ballot measures passed to protect children, and the environment. So ... well ... maybe if we pay attention ...

I am paying attention! Every person who pays attention is one more, and one more breeds more, and perhaps we'll develop an attention-paying addiction and VIOLENCE will be an issue like cigarettes...

If you want to live, sooner or later you stop smoking. If we want to survive we have to find a way -- we have to stop violence.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


What does John Cullum, a well-known professional do with his free time? He's not a composer, not a lyricist. For many years, he has loved and admired Alan J Lerner, especially "My Fair Lady." It was a reciprocal admiration -- thanks to Alan's delight in John's talent, my husband's very first starring role on Broadway was in the Lerner and Lowe musical, "On a Clear Day."

I've joked about the fact that this guy -- Ludwig van Beethoven -- is John Cullum's real hero.

I even wrote a post for my blog last year, called "Beethoven Lives In My House."

John turns on his computer, and works for hours composing. I'm the computer expert in the family, but John has conquered a very complicated music composition program called "Finale."

He works and re-works lyrics, then creates the music on the computer -- note by note, phrase by phrase, time signatures, instrumentation, treble and bass clefs -- and more -- endless details are involved. (If you think word-processing is tricky, writing music in "Finale" is -- no kidding -- a hundred times more complicated. )

Then, when he has perhaps 32 bars of music, John begins wedding the lyrics to the melody, and rhythms. He re-works every note of music, every word, till he feels it's RIGHT.