Tuesday, December 31, 2013

GREETINGS


JOHN CULLUM sings the song he wrote for Em's Talkery, Emily Frankel's blog.

The Cullums call the song 'HI FROM US."




Sunday, December 29, 2013

RESOLUTIONS

Emily Frankel, as each year ends, has asked John Cullum about his  New Year's resolutions.

John as usual, has hemmed and hawed  until Emily has announced something wifely -- that she'll has resolved to cook more dinners for him.

Recalling some of their old New Years Eve resolutions, the Cullums agree -- their best resolutions have been made, not on New Year's, but before the holiday, and during the new year, when something happens that requires a strong resolve to fix.

Yes, here's our resolutions -- plans for corn bread, dinners, projects  and leisure back in 2011. Change the number, dear friends. And resolve with us, hope with us that we'll have fun fulfilling them in  2014.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

DO YOU BELIEVE IN SANTA

Excerpt from my e-book "Splintered Heart." Is Marian Melnik me? Yes, AND no. All the characters in my novels are aspects of me. But this is not a story about me.

It was at Christmas time, when Marian Melnik was seven-years-old, that she had learned about praying.

The Melnik family was Jewish. They were not synagogue-goers. They were agnostics. Marian's father had explained it all to her in a cherished moment of real grown-up conversation.

"I'm an agnostic my dear, not an atheist. Atheism is something different." Anatol Melnik explained the difference to Marian carefully -- that there was a God but God wasn't necessarily Jehovah, Jesus, Buddha or the Lord. You could make up your own idea of God if you were agnostic.

Sometimes, when Daddy talked about things like that, Marian could not help but let her mind wander. She would think ahead for big words to say, to show she understood. She knew her Daddy loved her smartness. He would smile, not his small-sized smile, but his big one, when she managed to surprise him with a new big word.

"I absolutely comprehend," Marian said when her father was finished. And she did understand. Christmas was for Christians, not for agnostics.

Most all the children in the private school were Christians. The school was filled with red, blue, green, gold and silver decorations. There was a Christmas tree with colored lights, colored balls, and tinsel in her classroom. There was going to be a Christmas party with candy canes, grab bag gifts, and Christmas carols.

Marian's best friend, Mary Ellen Warner, was a High Episcopalian and she was going with her family to Acapulco for Christmas and New Year's. At Marian's home, the holidays meant that she didn't have to go to school.

Agnostic was O.K., at least it made Marian one of a kind. Not "run of the mill" which was what Mary Ellen said about the Lutheran,  Protestant, and Presbyterian girls in their class.

Marian tried to pray agnostically. She had been reading about Joan of Arc, who had talked to God and heard voices. Marian tried talking to her idea of God in her mind. She wanted Him to talk to her about Mamma.

Mamma stayed in bed most of the time. She was either tired or she had a headaches, or both things.

Daddy said, "Marian, I want you to promise that you will be brave and strong. And very gentle with Mamma. You've got to be a very extra-special child for while."

In the bathroom with the door locked, Marian looked it up in the Medical Book. She couldn't find out about "Tired" and "Headache" but she found out about Polio, Scarlet Fever, Sex, Spinal Meningitis, Syphillis, T.B. and Whooping cough.

She was terribly worried about keeping the promise that she'd made to Daddy. She prayed agnostically, that she wouldn't get one of the horrible diseases or the tired headache like Mamma.

All the girls in Marian's class expected dolls, and the boys were hoping for radios or bicycles. Everyone knew it was parents who gave the presents, but the talk was still of Santa Claus and what Santa Claus might be bringing them.

"I know Santa's bringing me a doll with a wardrobe, a pearl necklace, and a Punch and Judy puppet theater," said Mary Ellen Warner. "What about you, Marian?"

"Probably my parents are going to give me an Encyclopedia Britannica." An encyclopedia had already been ordered, not for Christmas but for the family's general self-improvement.

"An encyclopedia?" Mary Ellen Warner wrinkled her nose the way she did when a boy came over to play with them.

"Actually, I think I'm probably getting a Bulova watch and a string of cultured pearls and also probably a piano!" That impressed Mary Ellen Warner. When Mary Ellen got too snobby or stuck up, Marian had to invent ways of making her shut up.

"Couldn't we celebrate Christmas just this year, Mamma?" Marian asked wistfully. Occasionally, Mamma would say 'yes' to things without a great deal of fuss, but Mamma just said the usual -- "You'd better ask your father."

The thing about Christmas was not just the presents. It was the decorations and the music. All the children's voices lifted in song -- it made Marian feel as if she were part of a huge family holding hands around the equator of the world.

The shiny fragile balls on the trees -- she wished she could have one of each color, just to hold them, look into them and see herself reflected. The icicle tinsel -- she wanted that too -- it looked like silver fringe for a ballerina gown.

Last birthday, Marian's Daddy had taken her to Radio City Music Hall. She never would forget the vision -- the girl dancing with her Prince, her crown of diamond spires, her dress all glitter-gleam lace and sparkles.

"I am definitely going to be a ballerina." Marian decided. The Prince was part of it. Somewhere in the world, perhaps upside-down in China and growing up like her cousin Sammy was growing up -- there was a boy who would someday marry her. Marian knew, quite definitely, her Prince was not going to be fat like cousin Sammy. Her Prince would definitely be as tall, as handsome as Daddy. She liked to imagine whirling and gliding with her Prince to the rippling music that was in her ears when she was swinging on the swings at the playground.

A few weeks before Christmas, though she realized it was childish, Marian began praying for what she wanted from Santa. She was tentative at first. "Please let me get something for Christmas." But as the time grew closer, her prayers grew longer. She began to do "Now I lay me down to sleep." Then, to that prayer she added "God Bless Mamma, Daddy, Sara our maid, my Aunt and Uncle and my cousins." After she named all her relatives, she added, "And could I have a string of pearls for Christmas. And could you consider a piano and a pair of pink satin toe shoes?

Marian wrote out a list, put it in an envelope addressed to Santa, and placed it on the table in the hall, figuring Sara, who was a good maid, would show it to Mamma, who would show it to Daddy. Probably they'd laugh, but maybe they'd open it, and maybe they'd pay attention to the items on the paper.

The next day the note that was on the table was gone. Nobody mentioned it, but that was hopeful.

A week before Christmas, Marian robbed her piggy bank. Using Mamma's nail file, she found she could scratch up into the slot and get out a few coins. In the locked bathroom, she managed to dig out two quarters, eight dimes, seventeen pennies, and three nickels.

More money came her way unexpectedly. When she helped Sara organize the kitchen drawers, there was seventy-two cents in loose change that Sara said Marian could keep. And on Sunday, when Marian got her Daddy his Times from the corner, he gave her a whole dollar bill for a tip.

The next day, at the 5 &10, Marian bought a box of assorted balls and a pack of icicle tinsel. She wanted to have her own secret celebration of Christmas, her own private shrine. She knew even a small tree was out of the question, but she priced the miniature  nativity scenes.

With $3.34 to start with, balls and tinsel using up $2.25, only $1.09 was left. It didn't take long to learn that even the least expensive "Little Town of Bethlehem" was out of the question, but on the other side of the counter there were Eiffel Towers, keys to the city, windmills, back-scratchers and rickshaws.

The rickshaw was IT. Such a tiny-teeny thing, all hand-carved wood -- wooden wheels with spokes like tooth-picks, tiny grips carved in the handles that pulled the carriage -- it even had a teeny wood-carved cushion and the smallest of small little foot-rests for the royal lady who would hire the rickshaw to take her through the busy streets of Japan and China.

The price was just 79 cents. Marian bought it. She put the remaining 30 cents back into the piggy bank when she got home.

After stringing the colored balls on red yarn, Marian hung them in her window in a graceful scallop. She draped eight tinsel icicles between each ball. On the window sill she placed her green hair ribbon and some absorbent cotton. Once the royal rickshaw was carefully placed on the ribbon, it looked like a roadway surrounded by snow drifts.

Marian presented the shrine to her parents the way the guide at the Museum had presented the Egyptian exhibit. She stood up very straight, gestured to the window sill, explaining that decorations were traditional, it was important to conform to traditions since she was going to become a non conformist when she grew up, and celebrating Christmas was a way of orientating herself to the heritage of mankind.

Daddy didn't say anything, but as he was examining the rickshaw, he smiled an extra big smile. Mamma said, "Darling, where did you get the money for all these things?"

"It's just leftover stuff from school. Some lady gave me the rickshaw. She didn't want it because it was made in Japan." Mamma was like Mary Ellen Warner. You sometimes had to invent things for Mamma. Little white lies were O.K. to tell, especially when you told them in order to be polite.

The explanation seemed to satisfy Mamma, and Daddy started talking about the boycott, the surplus inventory because of the War.

The night before before Christmas Eve, Marian looked out up at a star.

"Please, dear God, a pearl necklace, toe shoes and maybe a piano -- I would certainly appreciate that, but I'd especially appreciate it if You would show me that You are there!" She was thinking of Joan of Arc and her voices. "Even if you can't give me those things, just give me a little sign that You can hear me."

Christmas Eve, she hung up a stocking and read a poem. So it would be a ceremony, she sang "Silent Night" and "Away in the Manger," then, blew a kiss to the North, to the South, to the East and to the West. Checking the clock to be sure it was a full thirty-minutes, she thought long, hard, and prayerfully about Mamma's headaches and tiredness. Then, she did "Now I lay me down to sleep" ten times very slowly. The prayer wasn't to Santa Claus. It wasn't for pearls, toe shoes, or a piano. Marian wanted to know if there was a God and this was God's  chance to prove it.

She left the window open wide even though it was freezing cold, just in case there was a Santa spirit that might want to come in.

Christmas morning Marian sprang out of bed and rushed to the window. The stocking was empty. There was no sign, not even the tiniest indication, that God or Santa had heard her prayers or that either one of them or anything like God or Santa existed.

Her room was cold. She stayed there most of the day.

When Marian brought up the subject at dinner, Daddy explained: "Praying is something that people invented because it gives them comfort. Don't count on praying, dear. You have to do things yourself. What you pray for, you do not necessarily get!"

Marian nodded. The philosophy was very clear.

A week later, when Marian came home from school, Mamma was gone. Sara said, "Your mother is in the hospital."

Marian felt as if she were going down the swooping curve on the Coney Island roller coaster and had left her stomach behind at the top of the hill. She wondered if what had happened had anything to do with being an agnostic, disobeying her Daddy's rules and praying to God and Santa.

Marian put the green ribbon in the wastebasket, and flushed the cotton down the toilet. Then, she broke the Christmas tree balls one by one and put the pieces in the kitchen trash can. She handed the royal rickshaw to Sara the maid.

Sara said, "Maybe you should keep it, and give it to your baby brother. He's coming home with your Mamma day after tomorrow."

"OH!" Marian said.

She retrieved the green ribbon and put the ribbon and the royal rickshaw on a high shelf, so she could use them next Christmas, and teach her new brother about God and Santa watching over you whether you liked it or not.

Monday, December 23, 2013

THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS





Emily Frankel loves the poem that Clement Clarke Moore wrote  and published in 1823.


John Cullum reads  aloud,  "Twas the Night Before Christmas."



Friday, December 20, 2013

DANCING AT THE MOVIES

My all time favorite dance video -- it's a compilation of great moments from films that most of us have seen more than once.



Wednesday, December 18, 2013

IS A "FACT" FICTION?


 


Facts -- they're thrown at us and poured on us. They're turning into mushy stuff nowadays, that can't hold you up.   

You can't grab a fact or hold onto it without sinking into it -- it's kind of like quick sand.

I heard a fact onever thought abt getting a robot helper--a maid, pet, a playmate? (see film clips)  http://bit.ly/17lfJLq
CBS News awhile ago:   "Soda makes children more likely to destroy things, attack others."

 I read the article. The "proof" was opinions based on the doings of New York City's Mayor, who was trying to ban 32-inch-size drinks.

Okay guys -- is soda makes kids violent a fact, or a maybe?

Is it like guarantees that are promised for (golly, practically everything), headaches, pain, depression, prostate, sleeping, weight gain, and stuff you buy for rashes, pimples, bugs, germs, weeds, dents in your car, exercise, young skin, gorgeous hair (golly, everything, including your pile of unpaid bills)?     

My dictionary says, "Fact -- generally a body of real things, events, actuality, a judgment, proposition, an idea that is true or accepted as true."
 
I'm going with "actuality," since the last election that took away trust, and truth. No longer do I trust or accept truth. I just sort of believe and sort of rely on what I hear. Golly, so many facts were lies, creative distortions of actualities.   

Facts -- I'm thinking they're like clothes. Buying clothes, wearing what other people are wearing  makes us feel better, safer, in tune with the times, part of the real world.
For instance, do artificial sweeteners really cause cancer?  That was a scary fact years ago. (Golly I use sweeteners, don't you?) What about climate change? (Gee, I've noticed more and more weird weather,) But is climate change a fact or just some big deal political issue?

I think this is a time to beware of facts. Avoid the word -- they are maybes, suppositions,  superstitions, spruced up hand-me-downs, nicely tailored, worn-out things that sort of cover up and disguise one's real realities.

Scrutinize, double think, question anything presented as a fact, and be brave.

GO NAKED




Yes, it can be embarrassing but don't take facts as facts and cover up your personal realities.

Monday, December 16, 2013

CHER






She is

amazing

utterly


unpredictable...

You know the name  -- you have seen her, heard her singing or talking -- how many times?

She's been in our lives since -- wow, the sixties!

She is a singer, actress, songwriter, music and film producer, film director, comedian, television host, model, fashion designer, dancer, and entrepreneur, who's done how many projects, albums, tours, fund raisers, interviews? Won how many awards, earned how much money?

I am taking off my researchers hat. With so many appearances on television, in movies, newspapers, magazines, the list of her doings is umpteen pages on the Internet.

I'm just plain remembering why, and how, she got to be the one and only CHER.

Is it her clothes? Her fantastic face? Or the way she answers questions about the men in her life -- her extravagant, spur of the moment doings?  Yes-yes, it's all that, and more.

I remember the house she built on Pacific Coast Highway. I passed it every day when I was driving to Malibu Gym to meet with my trainer. Cher's house was on a large plot of land, a couple of acres in an area where only the super rich can afford to build, and everyday her house got bigger and fancier. Trucks were parked everywhere, loaded with boxes, kitchen appliances, furniture, chandeliers, and palm trees -- workers were unloading them, sticking them into the earth like tooth picks.

Hey, just three people and a bird lived in her palace. In May of this year, there were headlines -- Cher sold it to singing star, Beyonce, for $45 million.  (There were also headlines about her selling her condo. Did she sell it? Wondering about Cher gets me tripping on fantasies -- where, and who is Cher living with now?)

Sonny and Cher -- heckling each other -- true love it was, their teasing, arguing. And their daughter Chastity, who came out, became a he, is now chubby, honest, Chaz Bono. Was Chaz there when Cher astounded us with her honesty, her grace, her loving tribute to the dead Sonny, after he crashed into a tree on the ski slopes? Or was it just Sonny's new wife with whom Cher wept, and tenderly hugged?

And while this was happening -- there were tours, major performances all over the world -- more awards, albums, successes and  triumphs, more incredible clothes, more revelations about her past loves, her present lovers, and that magically young, smoother, improved look of her.

The look of her --- that is Cher, the Icon.

Cher the icon is also the believable, natural, normal real person she conveyed in films -- in "Silkwood," "The Mask" "Suspect,"(I'll never forget the truth-seeking lawyer she played), and "Moonstruck." Cher taught us about honesty, about feeling and being who and what you truly are.

Always, always, this amazing woman is flat out there, telling us, "I don't give a damn about rules. I am just being me."

Cher said she was brought up badly by a mother whose mind was on herself. Because, as a young girl, Cher didn't have any special talents, Cher said she decided,  "I'm just going to devote myself to being famous."

And that she is doing -- with laughter, humor, affability, showing us the beauty, the wonderment of it -- sharing with all of us the fun and joy of being very famous. 

Cher -- I know her -- she's told me that I know her --told me I share part of her life.

Yes, I love Cher.







Saturday, December 14, 2013

(VIDEO) IRRESISTIBLE SNACKS



John says his most favorite snack is crackers with peanut butter and strawberry jam.

Em reminds John of his nightly big bowl of home made popcorn, seasoned with Lawry's seasoned salt, and a touch of garlic.

"And peanuts," John reminds her, admitting that life would strange without peanuts to nibble on.

It amuses the Cullums, that Em, after so many years of being a dancer and practically subsisting on cottage cheese, is actually a "big eater," while John, who never had to watch his weight, has to be careful not to put on pounds, as he endlessly devours popcorn.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

AGASSI & REGGIE JACKSON

Reggie Jackson --  what a hero,  retired, but active -- still a hero.

Andre Agassi -- what a hero, retired, but active -- still a hero.

Agassi is 43. Reggie is is 67.

From Agassi, I sense defensiveness and anger, and also, the passion to win -- the same something that I sensed when he was a wild-haired, killer tennis-player at the start of his career, when he was rising professionally.

From Reggie, I get a feeling of honesty, energy, confidence -- the fearlessness, of a man who's taken chances before and won. 

Why do I discuss the two of them at the same time?  Because they are well known names, heroes, winners -- each defined, partially, by what was important in the world as they were conquering the art of a sport. I sense, a similar drive in the heroes and heroines who emerge in an art,  be it theater, painting, writing, dancing, or any of the arts, as well sports.

Yes, a small flame, a spark ignites, and burns. No, it's not  a flame that consumes and turns the body,  its source, into ashes.  It's a flame that lights up the mind -- an internal, eternal flame, that intensifies, heightens, and transforms the senses -- eyes, ears, taste, touch, and smell, all five senses -- into receptive magnets that pull in, take in, all that is there to be consumed.

The person has a focus -- a commitment to that heightened state.

So Andre Agassi, still young, hugely successful, is at a stage of life where he is examining his success, not what he loved about it, but what he hated.

While Reggie Jackson, more than half-way up the mountain we climb as we age, looks out at the world, safe in the place where he paused. And he perceives -- with that super five-senses sensibility -- the world of his art, and delights in sharing what he perceives.

Both  men are remarkable, but artist Em, viewing them with her own heightened senses, observes that there is something for all of us to grasp, and learn from them.

Listen and learn from Andre Agassi.




What do you feel, what do you sense, when you watch and listen to Reggie Jackson?
Here he is with Belinda Luscombe --click answering her 10 questions.


 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

(VIDEO) OUR PIGEON PROBLEM




Em recalls John's fantastical obsession with the pigeon who chose our bedroom window for their home.

How John handled the noise with creative efforts, and help from a stagehand, still amazes Em but reminds him of all the things he tried that never worked.

Friday, December 6, 2013

WHAT'S NEXT FOR BLOOMBERG?



Mayor Michael Bloomberg  has done a lot for New York City, and a lot for many, many charities, and causes. I summed him up last year in a blog, "Bloomberrg--Why Do I Like Him?

Skim-read it -- he is a do-everything mayor, who has created an efficient, reliable, knowledgeable team with whom he runs the city. He runs it well. And the causes he supports -- especially Gun Control, Immigration, more and better jobs in our city, are important to me.

What touches me is his thereness -- he magically appears when things happen.  His connection with the large and small but all important areas of life in my city, the biggest of big cities, is astounding.

Hearing him explain what will happen next, how long it will take to fix or change whatever crisis that local TV channels call "breaking news," makes me feel as if I'm being watched over, protected by a strong, fatherly man. I'm calmed down, and reassured.  

For me, liking (or disliking) someone in politics, is instinctive. The person's bearing, the way the person speaks -- the phrasing, pauses, focus -- I sense whether or not this person is communicating with me, and wants ME to understand the reasons for his/her actions.

The stop-and-frisk New York City Police policy bothers me. Nevertheless, though I don't agree with every single thing Bloomberg supports, I trust his judgment -- trust the reasons he stacked up that are the basis for him supporting something that others say is bad or wrong. 

So where is Michael Bloomberg heading next? I wondered if he'd run for President in 2012, and now I'm wondering about 2016? 

I  say NO, he won't run -- his Jewish background, his age -- he'll be 74 in 2016, 78 in 2020.  President Reagan was 74 when he started his second term.

In the "Ticker"-- Mayor Bloomberg's online news magazine in which his views on economics, policy, and politics are expressed -- there are references to Hillary "looking less good." Her fall and that blood clot have been mentioned a few times. These things suggest that he is not supporting her emergence as a presidential candidate.

Okay -- Bloomberg has proved himself to me. But if I had to choose between him and Hillary, I'd chose her. I don't think he will run and compete with her. He's a realistic, practical man. He has a very large organization that keeps him armed with the facts.

Here is Bloomberg talking with CBS commentator, Scott Pelly, about what's next for him, and Bloomberg's cagey answer to the will you run for president question.

As you listen to this video, remember --  Bloomberg has ignored traditions. He has done things that no one else ever tried to do, like running for a third term as mayor, and winning it. What do YOU feel, what do you sense as you hear him avoid a yes or no? 



Wednesday, December 4, 2013

TALL BUILDINGS


Oh my goodness, good heavens -- why in the world are we building tall, taller, tallest buildings?

For tourists -- to  get them flocking into the area?    This is the Nina Tower in Hong Kong, that Hong-Kongers brag about to the tourists.

Or maybe the tall buildings are built so that hugely important corporations can promote their names, and prove they are the most powerful guys in the world?

What thoughts, what ambitions -- what inspires the guys who give us these needles?  Is there a Freudian, symbolical significance to these massively  marvelous structures that penetrate, poke into, and impregnate the sky?


Would you want to stay at the only seven star-hotel in the world on the left? (It's the Burj al, in Dubai.)

Hey, maybe it would be fun to have your Dubai office in one of the EmiratesTwin towers on the right.

I can't help wondering what it costs to rent space in one of these sky pokers?  Or get your thrills at the top of one of these other sky poker-peckers?   

  Doesn't anybody worry about huger than ever hurricanes and enormous earthquakes in this day and age of weird, woefully unpredictable weather?

China, in July, started building the "highest building in the world," but temporarily stopped because of concerns with safety, and the need for government approval. The Kingdom tower in Jaddah, Saudia Arabia -- "higher than a mile high" -- is currently (for a few years now) under construction, but when or if it's ever finished, you can bet your bottom dollar someone's going to announce the next taller, tallest record breaker.

Golly, remember what it took, how long it took, and what it meant to rebuild just one wonderful new World Trade Center?  For me, here in New York City, it's high enough.  It tells us, shows us, that mankind's greatest power is to affirm life, and survive.   

Monday, December 2, 2013

WEEPY BOEHNER






Candid photo of John Boehner.

It was taken very recently at the Congressional ceremony honoring British prime minster, hero to many, Winston Churchill.

Lawmakers of both parties spoke at the ceremony that was dedicating a bust of Churchill in the U.S. Capitol, while listening to audio of Churchill addressing Congress weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

As Boehner wiped his eyes, many of the others in the distinguished gathering wept as "The Who’s" Roger Daltrey, sang his band’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” as well as Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.”


Boehner wept before his predecessor, Nancy Pelosi handed him the gavel, the day he became speaker of the house.



He wept as he was congratulated. 




Gavel in hand, he wept; and he was weeping as he addressed Congress for the first time as Speaker of the House.

I will never, never forget his ugly, angry tone, and the approving echoes from the Congress, in March, 2010, the day the Health Care bill was passed.

I know from observation, and from what I've learned from my husband, actor John Cullum, that actors who weep too often during a performance, are self-indulgent -- overly concerned with feeling their own feelings. They're thrilled by their own surge of emotion.

When you are moved, you don't need tears to prove it.

Weepy Boehner has aged over the past few years. As he and the Republicans stall, delay, argue, filibuster, hold onto tax breaks  for the rich, attack any and all legislation  that the Obama administration has  managed to pass -- and is attempting to pass -- they're doing what they got together and resolved to do -- stop health care; stop anything and everything that the President is trying to do.

I shy aware from politics. You have your own political ideas based on many things that have to do with your life experiences. The same thing is true for me.

But I am so deeply bothered -- horrified, upset, depressed by what's happened to our country since the health care bill was passed -- stunned that Boehner and the House of Representatives are, by not passing bills, changing the way our government functions -- no longer does Congress -- Senate, House of Representatives and the President whom we elected, run the country.

The House of Representatives is running the country.

Yes, Boehner tears up every other day, as nothing happens, nothing is solved, and the country continues to be stuck. John Boehner's eyes seem to fill with tears but I am weeping for what we seem to have lost.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

(VIDEO) WOULD YOU GO INTO POLITICS?







Despite the fact that his classmates in high school and college often chose him to lead them, John remembers himself as a seriously inept student.

Em mentions George Clooney and Alec Baldwin -- it's occurred to her that they might be heading into politics. Even so, John can't see himself running for public office or getting elected, unless maybe he wanted to be the Mayor of his hometown, Knoxville, Tennessee.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

JOHN CULLUM'S E-MAIL TO EM


John Cullum's "Thanksgiving" Email to Em:

I am from a large Southern family of which my mother was the matriarch, and every Thanksgiving was an big, exciting affair with aunts and uncles and cousins, some of which I only saw once a year. Emotions were high, and along with love and good spirits were moments of family squabbles of epic and frightening proportions that sometimes resulted in enduring resentments. This tradition still continues with my nieces and nephews and though we may not give as much thought as we should to the pilgrims and indians, it’s a time when our different families renew their connections to each other and that’s a lot to give thanks for.

But the most memorable Thanksgiving dinner for me was the one a young redheaded dancer made for me in her Artist In Residence studio in New York City. It wasn’t a turkey, just a large chicken, and it never occurred to me that this gorgeous girl could even cook, but boy, she could – all the trimmings, fresh cranberry sauce, stuffing, sweet potatoes, vegetables and all. I could hardly believe it. There she was, the best dancer I had ever seen, gracefully whirling around a tiny kitchen, whipping up a dinner as good as any I had ever eaten, and all for me. Never had a Thanksgiving meal been made exclusively for me and me alone, and with such love. It was an experience I couldn’t walk away from. And I never did. I guess Emily decided if I was going to keep hanging around, she might as well marry me. Which she did.
John Cullum

Thought this might please you, Em. Your loving hubby.

EM EMAIL to John
holy minorka catfish what a loving darling hug thrill tickle delight this gives me. Very truly yours, your wife

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

O.J. REMEMBERED

What's forgotten is not forgotten.


Oh, that face, blank eyes, that embarrassed, face-aching smile.

I'm picturing:   
Johnnie Cochran -- confident, smooth -- oh, I respected him, but disliked him -- seriously disliked him when he played what commentators called the "race card." And Johnnie Cochran's race card is now, part of our culture, used again and again.

The fashionably dressed Marcia Clark -- she made her appearance every day in a different outfit, distracting us. Why oh why was she was in charge of the prosecution? I didn't feel she was strong or tough, or sufficiently experienced. I can't help blaming her for that "not guilty" verdict.

Kato -- we sneered at him as a sponger who was hoping his friendship with O.J. would pay off. Yes indeed -- it did pay off -- Kato Kaelin became a name and has had a career, sort of, based on what he is.

I liked Mark Fuhrman. The evidence he dug up and presented was so important -- what an awful time he had because he said he never used that no-no-word. Convicted of perjury, the validity of his findings was diminished -- the evidence was dismissed, because he'd used the no-no-word. Was that the beginning of the woeful things that happen to anyone who says nigger?

What happened to Alan Dershowiz, Barry Scheck, Robert Shapiro, the Goldman family? Is Judge Ito still a judge? What's Denise Brown doing now, and O.J.'s pal, lawyer Kardashian,  whose family has ballooned into celebrities that plague us every day  with their nonsense?

O.J. -- all those scenes, the players, those faces expressing their attitudes -- when was it-- almost 20 years ago, and yet it's still so vivid in my mind.

Seeing that monster today in his prison uniform, that fat-face, that face-aching grin -- he's not the hero, not the self-loving, utterly confident guy he used to be. He's National Enquirer news -- caught stealing cookies as he left the prison cafeteria -- a prison guard digging into his shirt -- prison guard throwing O.J.'s stolen oatmeal cookies on the prison floor.

I'm celebrating -- wowy, yay, hurray -- a slob's greed displayed to the world --  the disgraced foolish, self-centered murdering monster O.J. -- yay -- stuck in prison for at least another four more years.

I still see and am still morally disgusted at how O.J. looked as he heard "not guilty." And the other players in the Trial of teh Century, -- where are they, what happened to them? I looked it up -- it's fascinating to note how much tragedy has befallen the "dream team."

The Enquirer said it cost over $20 million to fight and   defend him; there were 50,000 pages of trial transcript, 150 witnesses  involved in getting that not guilty verdict. I find myself thinking for a  second about Casey  Anthony, and what's her name  who testified for 18  days ... her name?  Jodie Arias. Will we ever forget O.J's name?

If you're curious to see what happened to some of them, how they look now, and what they're doing now -- here's ABCs report. 

No -- we who watched the Trial of the Century will never forget O.J. Simpson.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

(VIDEO) JOHN CULLUM ON MOSS HART


Em and John recall a cocktail party they attended at Moss Hart's penthouse apartment.

John recalls how Moss Hart supported and helped his career, artistically as well as financially.



Friday, November 22, 2013

TWEET TALK


 Hey, when I write, I don't use smileys,  emotions, text words or symbols, or [emotions]
like :-(.
.
I say YOU, not U, and "thank you," not TY. If something is funny I say "that's funny," not LOL.

I like words and enjoy creating sentences. I don't think in 140 character sentences -- mine have rhythm -- the rhythm conveys feeling. Shakespeare does it with iambic pentameter -- (sample). But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks? ("Romeo and Juliet," or this, which suits my mood today, from "Richard III," -- Now is the winter of our discontent.

Hey, I avoid four letter words even if I'm angry. I don't think they help to emphasize passion, conviction, or anguish, and I seriously dislike abbreviations. When I read the latest news, I need to retain the title -- like will the NRA do something about guns? The National Rifle Association is killing us, according to what I learn on C|NET (while I'm wondering what does the "C:" stands for?)

I recently read an article by Katy Steinmetz in my Time Magazine. It's about tweet talk messing up language today. Since I get tons of email with emoticons, smileys, and net lingo, I Googled the subject and read opinions from accredited guys -- John Whorter, associate professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University, author of "What Language Is (and What It Isn't and What It Could Be," -- Carnegie Mellon Professor of Language Technologies, Noah Smith, who designs algorithms for automated analysis of human language, -- also, Jacob Epstein, computation linguist at George tech.

These educated chaps say text language is affecting, changing language today.

I think it's a viral infection. Text lingo like LOL -- I see laughing out loud every day, like IMA that serves as a subject, verb, and preposition to convey I am going to, like IKR means I really know. It bugs me, that my way of communicating is getting obsolescent.

And OMG, I read about a fascinating new language, N'KO -- it's a language app that is already helping various languages to use texting language. N'KO is gathering the terms, translating them for non English countries, so they can utilize and understand tweet/text language.

It reminds me of the days when I spoke Pig Latin. I figure kids nowadays, like me back then, want a special way of talking that befuddles the older folks and keeps the kids from being understood by adults. 

Anyhow, Googling, I learned there are 500 million messages and  more than 200 million daily twitter-users using hashtags, emoticons, links, even geotags that reveal their location.

I learned that older tweeters tend to use emoticons with noses -- :-) instead of :) -- youthful "no nose" tweeters (the nose is the dash before the parenthesis), tend to use more swear words -- young tweeters are more apt to type everything in capitals, and use expressive lengthening, like writing niiiiiiice instead of "nice."

"Language is really a window into people's sense of personal identity," Jacob Eisenstein, the Georgia Tech guy said.
       "I see that things you think you understand, you don't really understand, like LOL. It doesn’t actually mean laughing out loud in a literal sense. It's subtler-sophisticated -- it's used even when nothing is remotely amusing -- a friend texts 'Where have you been?' and her pal texts back 'LOL at the library studying for two hours.' LOL implies empathy between the texters, sort of creating a sense of equality -- Instead of having a literal meaning, it's conveying an attitude." .

OMG, IRK -- YOU probably want to know all the latest, newest text terms! Okay, okay, here's the link to a guide to tweet language.

I am not L o L-ing--this stuff really irks me.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

NANCY GIBBS


Nancy Gibbs is the new managing editor of Time Magazine.

She doesn't look very special, but I skim-read Time, use it as a what's going on the world barometer -- Gibbs replaced Richard Stengel who seemed to have a penchant for focusing the magazine on money-making opportunities and male versus female issues.

Gibbs, since 1988, has written more than 150 articles for the magazine. I've read --not all of them --  but a lot of them.

Her biography doesn't say much about her.  No matter where I search, it is almost identical, and brief.

She was born January 25, 1960, in Westchester NY; (nothing about her childhood); her education --Yale University, B.A. (summa cum laude), 1982; Oxford University, M.A.,1984. She joined Time in 1985 as a part-time fact checker in the international section. She became a writer in 1988. In 1992, at age 32, she married 34-year old Wait May, a fellow editor on the magazine. (I had to dig to learn his name and confirm he's still an editor). Gibbs retained her maiden name. They have two daughters, and live in Westchester, NY.  She is a former elder and deacon of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City.

Interestingly -- Nancy Gibbs' awards and recognition are detailed.

National Magazine Award in 2002. The Chicago Tribune named her one of the 10 best magazine writers in the country in 2003; her articles are included in the Princeton Anthology of Writing, Best American Crime Writing 2004, and Best American Political Writing 2005. she's listed in Time Magazine's "85 years of Great Writing." Gibbs has been a frequent guest on radio and television talk shows, including the "Today Show," Good Morning America, Charlie Rose, and a guest essayist on the "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer."

What knocks me out, amazes me about this writer, are the subjects she's tackled:

"A Pilgrim’s Progress,” (Time, April 11, 2005 -- the Pope’s passing.)
“D-Day 60th Anniversary: The Greatest Day,” (May 31, 2004.)
“Seven Astronauts, One Fate,” (Feb. 10, 2003 -- Columbia space shuttle disaster.)
“What a Difference a Year Makes,” (Sept. 9, 2002:-- the 9/11 terrorist attacks.)
“Life Along the Mississippi,” (July 10, 2000.)

She's written “Best Investment” to Fight Poverty" -- what females are doing now, "The Art of Letting Go," about one's children growing up, written about Romney, Carl Rove, Harry Potter, the Columbine School Murders, Billy Graham, depression, SAT exams, kids going to summer camp -- many other  prosaic ordinary things as well as major events of each year since she started working for Time.

It's fascinating -- that she doesn't reveal personal details about herself, but we certainly get a sense of who she really is, as we read her articles.

I love her titles, topics, her easy going style -- am enriched by her unpretentious, down-to- earth observations -- what Gibbs likes or dislikes coincides with my own feelings.

What she does as a writer is telling me to keep talk-writing about what makes sense to me, what I see and feel -- giving me confidence that if it makes sense to me, if it's important to me, it will make sense and be important to a goodly number of others.

A kindred spirit she is. Wow, thank you Nancy Gibbs.

  I am including this Katy Couric interview because it reveals more about the more of the stories Nancy has written.

Monday, November 18, 2013

MILEY CYRUS IS TWENTY

 


Miley Cyrus said those words after her latest video, "We Can't Stop," was released in June, and panned by most of the critics.

In case you don't know who Miley Cyrus is -- she was on the Disney Channel, an enormous hit as a 15-year-old pretending to be Hannah Montana, a pop singer celebrity.

When I wrote about Miley in 2011, after she won a huge award, I included a film clip of her with a couple of fans. The way she said "duh" and "awesome" -- her tone of voice -- it rings in my mind. unpleasantly.



... Fame, fame  -- like rain, rain go away, come back again another day ...

Time marches on, but it doesn't march these days in 4/4 time. In the digital, super-tech world of now, it ticks away too fast to count.

After wining more than 79 awards, ranked number 13 on Forbes "Celebrity 100," listed in "Guinness World Records," Miley Cyrus has nine top 10 hits, and offers from the top major agencies who are anxious to handle her, so quite logically, Miley is focused on being a number oner, in the club with Lady Gaga, Britney, and Madonna.

The press agent who helped Britney, after her breakdown, recover her fame and glory, is now working for Miley.

What we've got right now is Miley making a sensation at the recent MTV 2013 awards -- we've got Miley's tongue -- Miley twerking -- Miley wearing a phallic glove with an huge finger at her crotch, on her crotch on someone else's crotch. (Twerking is bending over, wiggling, jiggling your butt.)

Hey, I remember shocking, embarrassing doings by Gaga, Britney, and Madonna. Britney had the paparazzi following her into the bathroom; Gaga, with her not great dancing and not great voice, has worn stupendously outrageous outfits; Madonna obscenely sucked coke bottles, and continues to make sure we know with whom she's sleeping.

If you haven't seen "We Can't Stop," take a look. I don't think it does much for Miley's talent quotient, but Parade Magazine predicts she'll be a billionaire by next year.

I saw Miley perform just the other day on the "Ellen Show." Watching it, though her hair is cut and she's wearing an edgy outfit, I still see the same pretty girl who said "duh" and "awesome" to her fans.

Hey, maybe, when she's heading over the hill to the advanced age of 25, she'll mellow and be ready to join the Gaga-Britney-Madonna club. Right now, I think she too busy trying to be famous

... fame, fame, like a flame, feed it, fan it -- your name ignites....

Here is Miley with Ellen.
 video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player  

Saturday, November 16, 2013

(VIDEO) JOHN CULLUM'S ADDRESS BOOK



Em teases John about his address book. It's something he's worked on for years, constantly re-formatting, looking for ways to make it more effective. 

Em mentions the wrong addresses, the names in his book of people who are no longer in the world.

His address book is actually a history of his social life, and dear friends who have passed on who are still alive and important to him, as well as his career.



Thursday, November 14, 2013

GOOGLE'S LARRY PAGE

Larry Page -- 40, is the successful, much admired respected CEO and co- founder of Google -- one of the most successful, ubiquitous and increasingly strange companies on the planet. I am bowing to Larry Page -- not reverentially -- my fingers are crossed.

How did this powerful guy come to be what he is? His dad is considered a pioneer in computer science and artificial intelligence. His mom is a computer science professor at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, where he was born. As a wee child, on into boyhood and teenager years, he was hugely encouraged by Dad to have fun with inventing, and playing with technological things.

For fun, at the University of Michigan, Larry created an inkjet printer made of Lego Bricks. After graduating with a BA degree, while trying to get his MA degree at Stanford University, and also working on his PhD dissertation, he pursued more of what he loved. Nicknaming his project "BackRub," exploring the mathematical possibilities of the World Wide Web, he focused on links. And bumped into fellow student, Sergey Brin. In 1998, Brin and Page founded Google.

Undoubtedly you've heard of Google, and used it. Google is essentially in the search business, but so much more. It is in the online-advertising business, mobile-operating-system business, the Web-browser business, the free-e-mail business, the driverless-car business, the wearable-computing business, (eye glasses), the online-map business, the renewable-energy business, and the business of providing Internet access to remote areas via high-altitude balloons. Google's corporate strategy is mainstream services, and risky long shots.

(It's not the risky long shots that get me.)

Anyway, as Google has grown, Larry Page has grown -- wiser, more important, bolder, richer.

Incidentally, not much is known about his private life -- he's married to Lucinda Southworth, who continues to work as a research scientist -- they are have two very young children, and live in Palo Alto, California. Larry has had a vocal cord problem for 14 years that makes his voice soft -- sort of toneless, unemphatic. Maybe that's why, when he's making a speech, (and I've listened to a lot of them before writing this), I find it difficult to concentrate on what he's really talking about -- be it a complex idea or his philosophical concerns with it. But being a Google user, oh boy, I feel the affect of Larry's philosophy -- it's a passion -- Larry Page wants to explore areas that have not been explored.

Yep. this guy likes to head ahead of the trend. He sees far, far into the future, and it pays off. As of October 2012, the Bloomberg Billionaires Index lists Page as the 27th richest man in the world, with an estimated net worth of $21.1 billion. (Forbes in September said his net worth was $24.9 billion).

Okay, so why are my fingers crossed?

He screws me up with what he's doing with Google tools. For weeks, I've been adapting to the "new, better, more efficient, faster" -- new way of doing gmail. I have adapted. It is not better, more efficient, faster -- there's a new looking page that's got lighter print, not stronger larger easier to read print, and now a bunch of similar, boring icons (no words) to tell you how to save, print, insert links, etcetera. (In the Google help forum where people discuss their problems, many other Googlers, like me, are annoyed with the new gmail.)

Google blogger -- everything I learned to do and have been doing for five years -- space, insert, embed, save-copy-share -- all my safe practical routines have had to be relearned. Dammit Larry, I feel like a sheep led into the pen -- shorn -- naked -- back in beginnersville.

Meanwhile, as I keep dodging Google Circles (Google's latest attempt at social networking -- a waste of time like Google Buzz, that, thank God, has disappeared).  And I'm suffering on YouTube -- new owner Google has new ways, new displays -- each time I sign on, Gooigle suggests a new name, insists I explain why I don't want to change my name, or advertize, or amalgamate my channel with other Google channels.

And now there's this on the cover of Time. Google has announced Calico.

The latest new thing -- (out there, far beyond Google's driverless cars, and eye glasses) -- Google is digging in and around and under and below why and when we wither, wane, wizen and die.

Will Calico soon be watching, nagging, sneaking into my daily routines of everything that has to do eating sleeping breathing, so that I can maybe grow older and older for an extra 10 or 20 years?

 Scoogled was a word used by Microsoft in their ads, attacking Google for answering search questions with "facts" that were ads for Google products.

I'm inventing a word for what super creative Larry Page will be Lego-stacking up around me, while he's Larroogling my life.

Here's  a brief look at Larry addressing a crowd September 20 of this year.