Saturday, December 1, 2012


Answering his wife, Emily Frankel's question, John Cullum explains how he reacts to the sound of applause, how it actually affects him when he's performing.

Describing how Marlene Dietrich used applause and Richard Burton's concern with being unique, John admits that getting laughs concerns him more than bravos.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Lost things aren't gone. You find yourself searching for that ribbon,  photo, letter, or memento that you put somewhere, but can't find anymore. You can't pick it up, but gee, it keeps itching in your mind.

Found things  --wow -- a wave of joy comes over you, like  balmy fresh air.

I had a towel -- green -- part of a set I bought for my bathroom about 12 years ago when I came back to NYC, temporarily, and then, decided I'd stay. I bought green things and redecorated my bathroom, my private room in which there are shelves and a cabinet. Things I use, or used to use, or want to use are assembled, and more or less maintained, often deliberately ignored, but that's also a way of maintaining them.

One green towel got a spot on it from iodine that spilled.   I couldn't use the towel.  I cut it in half. The cut edge was unraveled. I folded it, sewed a narrow hem, rolled the hem and made a French seam that I'd learned to do a million-trillion heart beats ago, when I was learning to make tailored shirts for my husband. Don't ask me why -- was it that gorgeous shirt from a show that someone had designed?  I wanted to make a shirt that style for my man.

So the folded half of the green towel became -- one day, when my studio floor needed to be cleaned -- the cloth I attached to the large broom's brush, a two-foot-long brush that's part of our heavy-duty broom, that we use to sweep the 25 X 45 ft. floor of my dance studio.  With it safety-pinned around the broom's brush, the dust, grit and some of last month's rosin (that I use so I won't slip) were easily picked up. 

Marta, who is a sister whom I pay to come in and clean things once-a-month, used it. She wet the towel, rung out the water, re-safety-pinned it, and damp-mopped.  Enough rosin remained!  She did it last month and this month!  It works!

We celebrated. Marta washed the towel. I put it away and ... well, I don't know where I stashed it. I've looked for it, keep re-tracing the thought I had when I took the damp, half-piece of green towl and hung it up some place, but I can find it.

Each time I see Marta, we say, "Where 's the towel?"

So lost things, are lost, but never do they really disappear from the important place in your mind where you put things that aren't solved, things that you privately, personally,  unimportantly, but importantly need to solve.

If I find the green towel, actually -- after a moment of joy,  that blessed balmy breeze -- well, it won't make much difference.  I'll just have room in my personal lost-and-found, for other, important lost things for me to think about, look for, and try and try, keep trying to find. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Sometimes, when you go backstage after a show that you don't like, or after a party that wasn't t fun, nevertheless, you tell the host, or the cast members. that you loved it. My husband says I'm a Pinocchio-tress.

I think WHITE LIES are a social necessity.

What is "black and white" -- the whole truth -- real truth -- nowadays?

Black implies doom, sorrow, mourning, negativity -- strange things that suddenly appear in the darkness -- if you're in a black mood everything seems dark, and bound to fail. White suggests brightness -- sunlight, clean, pure, optimistic, hopeful, truthful things.

But over the past year of political shenanigans, truth has become sort of gray. There are true facts and not true facts -- facts that are not provably accurate, realistic or truthful in accordance with the actual state of affairs -- facts that aren't conformable to an essential reality, (in other words, specifics, rather than what is manifest or assumed.)

And advertising's conditioned us to absorb exaggeration, distortion, and untrue statements about bargains, healing, cleaning, beautifying, and life-long guarantees.

Even so, generally speaking -- white is good, and black is not good --it is bad.

Hey, I wear black clothes -- aside from them making one look skinnier, a black outfit doesn't need washing and ironing as much as white clothes -- no doubt about it -- white things have to be laundered more often -- they show the dirt.

It's kind of a fact of life.

Okay-forget political correctness for the moment, let's get down to old, somewhat out-of-date, brass tacks. Being a White person, I think white looks nicer, is better, white is prettier. Black person's noses, mouths, and hair are different from what I call "pretty." Also, despite all that's been said and done, BLACKS are mostly poorer, less educated, (Maybe they're sexier -- they certainly look better on a dance floor than WHITES do -- especially when they wear white. They look great in white. They wear white a lot.)

Anyhow, white is also snow -- there's nothing quite so wonderful as a field of virgin snow, or the look of sunbeams. I like black coffee, but coffee with cream is what most people prefer. White bread and white rice. are also what's preferred. "White," in history, was counter-revolutionary. It's the visible part of the eyeball, the outer part of the egg that surrounds the yoke. (I can't remember anymore -- are we NOT supposed to eat eggs? or just eat the white?)

It's hard to keep track -- times have changed. Back in the days when we typed on typewriters, we could obliterate errors with white-out tape or the liquid in a tiny jar.

Why did I get onto this subject?. Because NYC'S Guggenheim Museum has announced that in January 2013, it will have the first exhibit of Picasso's black and white paintings, sculptures, and drawings. Yes, other painters have worked in black and white, but Pablo Picasso is one of the kings in art, and art affects every aspect of our culture.

Leonardo da Vinci said:
“A painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light.”
Pablo Picasso said::
“Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.”

So study Picasso's picture.-- that odd, outlined white shape in the lower right corner. I think Picasso left it unfinished, deliberately. It looks like a cartoon of a kid in a dunce-cap. Is it me? Is it you?

Sunday, November 25, 2012


"Do you do floors and windows?" John asks, right off the bat. Teasing and revealing that he wouldn't hire Emily in any capacity, John finally explains why.

The Cullums discuss job hunting -- what an employee needs to do, and how they, as employers would handle hiring someone.