Monday, June 26, 2017


John Cullum and wife Emily Frankel,  in the mood for a day off, aren't sure what to do.

Trying to plan a day off, even a couple of days off,. they remember other fun days, little disasters, and finally, more or less, figure out what NOT to do, and how to spend a day off.

Thursday, June 22, 2017


New words fascinate me. This one is in Merriam Webster so it's been officialized.

Wise people have said,
Willa Cather, recognized back in 1913 for her novels of frontier life on the Great Plains, said: "Give the people a new word and they think they have a new fact."

Boris Yeltsin, politician,first President of the Russian Federation said: It is especially important to encourage unorthodox thinking when the situation is critical: At such moments every new word and fresh thought is more precious than gold."
It is especially important to encourage unorthodox thinking when the situation is critical: At such moments every new word and fresh thought is more precious than gold. Indeed, people must not be deprived of the right to think their own thoughts. Boris Yeltsin
Read more at:
It is especially important to encourage unorthodox thinking when the situation is critical: At such moments every new word and fresh thought is more precious than gold. Indeed, people must not be deprived of the right to think their own thoughts. Boris Yeltsin
Read more at:
It is especially important to encourage unorthodox thinking when the situation is critical: At such moments every new word and fresh thought is more precious than gold. Indeed, people must not be deprived of the right to think their own thoughts.
Read more at:
It is especially important to encourage unorthodox thinking when the situation is critical: At such moments every new word and fresh thought is more precious than gold. Indeed, people must not be deprived of the right to think their own thoughts.
Read more at:
It is especially important to encourage unorthodox thinking when the situation is critical: At such moments every new word and fresh thought is more precious than gold. Indeed, people must not be deprived of the right to think their own thoughts.
Read more at:
It is especially important to encourage unorthodox thinking when the situation is critical: At such moments every new word and fresh thought is more precious than gold. Indeed, people must not be deprived of the right to think their own thoughts. Boris Yeltsin
Read more at:
Give the people a new word and they think they have a new fact. Willa Cather
Read more at:
Give the people a new word and they think they have a new fact. Willa Cather
Read more at:
Give the people a new word and they think they have a new fact. Willa Cather
Read more at:

Perhaps what's most memorable, and important is what this wise man told us:

The New Meaningful Word is nice-sounding, not ugly, obscene, but practical. It's sensible. Yes, this new word could be a good word for the guy who agrees and  accept what the judge rules.

It's also a good word for these guys who, over the past six months have believed, supported, obeyed bull-baloney-blather, and daily phony-baloney pronouncements.

Yes, nowadays, a lot of people are evolving.

Yep. Yessire! They've evolved. They're now "sheeple." 

Am asking quietly -- are you one of them?

Sunday, June 18, 2017


I don't love doing the laundry, but hurray -- I just turn a dial on the washer, pour in a liquid detergent, and plop in what's in the laundry basket. Golly, I remember when we had to cart it to the launderette that was nine long blocks away. 

Hey, down through the ages, doing the laundry -- washing the clothes you wear -- getting them clean, fresh-smelling, nice to put on again, has evolved. No matter how old or young you are, you probably remember what your mother did, how often she did it, and what tools and what soap she used.

Was it one of these? It reveals her age, and yours more or less.
Did she use Rinso? Since 1908 when Hudson's Soap which was sold to Lever Brothers in the UK, then manufactured but unsuccessfully promoted by Unilever in the United States, Rinso was the laundry soap everyone used. 1936 to 1950, it was advertised on the radio, the sponsor of soap operas, and "The Amos 'n' Andy Show," with ads happily chanting the slogan "Rinso white, Rinso bright," until Proctor and Gamble started telling the world about Tide.

Well, open your mind guys, soon, hopefully very soon, we'll be using Beads. You're gonna grab a handful of Beads and throw them onto the clothes. They're are key component in a laundry system developed in the UK ten years ago. At the University of Leeds, School of Textile, researchers found that tiny nylon beads mixed with a tiny amount of water, acted like a sponge and soaked up dirt from fabrics they started washing in a new washing machine they were also developing, named "Xeros."   

It looks like current washers but it's different. In various hotel laundry rooms where they have been testing the new machine, they proved that Xeros, with Beads, removed dirt -- did it gently like hand-washing, even absorbed stray colors (like a rogue red sock that can turn all your laundry pink). ALSO Beads can be reused hundreds of  times.

Newsweek Magazine, said in its recent "Magic Beads" article -- "It could be the biggest leap forward in the laundry business since electric powered machines rendered wringers obsolete." Los Angeles Times said, "Xeros and Beads will ease California's drought and help save the environment," and published this picture.

You can't buy a Xeros or Beads yet. Fourteen locations have them, including several laundromats, an athletic club, and various hotels; it costs $1,500 per machine per month for upkeep and maintenance, including collection and replacement of the Beads. But the Xeros company is working, night and day, to create a domestic version.

Golly, I hope it's soon. Like I said, I don't love doing the laundry. Note, in the selfie, my fake smile and the size of the pile.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


Wife Emily tries, for the umpteeth time, to tell John why she loves him.

  Husband John Cullum tells Emily why he loves her. 

Saturday, June 10, 2017


Want to go on a cruise on a ship that was built for rich people who can afford to spend just about anything for luxurious pleasures?

It's the Regent Seven Seas Explorer. Almost an acre of marble was used to decorate the interiors.  It cost more than $450 million to build and become what it claims to be -- "the most luxurious ship in the world."

Walls are decked out with $7 million in art including Picasso lithographs and Degas originals, and the menus are laden with lobster, caviar, pate foie gras, escargot, and an international array of gourmet dishes. Of course, every dish served in the Seven Seas Explorer’s various eateries can also be delivered to patrons’ rooms at any time of day. If you dine in the Regency's super-elegant Pacific Rim Restaurant, the Tibetan prayer-wheel sculpture on display near the door weighs as much as three cars and cost $500,000.

Here the main entrance.

This is one of the 5 dining rooms.
Here is a typical bedroom, plus sitting room suite.

Of course you have a private deck:
You can swim in this teak-lined swimming pool or the larger main pool below.

On the Regency Explorer's Caribbean cruise, a single passenger pays $1200 a night for the smallest suite. The fanciest suite, the $10,000 Regency suite, has a Steinway Grand Piano, an $80,000 mattress and a pillow menu, so you can choose your pillow. You can also ask for the $150,000 Savoir bed. Savoir reputedly makes the best bed in the world.

Top-notch room service includes Lalique wine glasses; silverware is Christofle. There are two sets of dishes: Bernardaud and Versace. Overhead you'll see Preciosa Chrystal Chandeliers and the glass on the walls and windows is Murano. Visiting the bathroom, anything/everything you might need is available -- they're equipped like L'Occitane cosmetics shops.

Where do you want to go? Prices start at $5,499 (U.S.) per person in a Veranda Suite for a 10-night round-trip Miami cruise, to $134,999 in a Regent Suite for a 27-night cruise to Copenhagen from London.


Well, if we can scrounge up another hundred-thousand or so, for the wardrobe my husband and I would need, I'd love to take the 27-night cruise. Even if we went to Miami, we'd need fabulous clothes to go with the fantastically fabulous, ridiculously, excessively expensive everything else.


Picturing this, imagining all this, is by itself, a fun fantasy vacation from one's hectic busy life in a bustling big city....


Tuesday, June 6, 2017


I like Annette Bening -- whatever she "plays" always involves me and seems real. I like  Geena Davis -- whatever she plays involves me and seems real.

Both these women are over the Hollywood Star hill -- they're forty +  -- a loud age number that suggests that a woman is no longer ... What?

Geena, early 60's
Annette, late 50's

Looking at the photos closely, I see crows' feet, the center of forehead think wrinkle, indentations in their cheeks as they smile. They do not have young faces. Even so, if you saw either of them on the street, you'd excitedly stare and probably want to rush over and say "I'm a fan and I've loved your work for years."

I especially loved Geena the first time she holds up a store imitating the Brad Pitt character she slept with. I loved Annette in the scene where President Michael Douglas asks if she's nervous about sex, and she appears naked, except for wearing one of his shirts.

Burned in my mind is a vision of Geena, excited, bravely bold, and Annette, fearlessly humorously loving. There are other not young, over the hill actresses I love -- Sher, Shirley MacLaine, and just about anything Bette Davis did.

The Mount Everest of being beautiful, staying beautiful is a terrifying doomed ascent. I speak for myself, but also translate what's in the minds of many women who would love to be not aware, daily, hourly, of how they look whenever/wherever they see their reflection in a mirror -- in a bathroom, a window, a storefront, or a tablespoon. Yes, you can check the state of your lipstick, your mascara, or the shine on your nose in any piece of silverware.

Do women in cultures where old age is revered feel this way? I suspect they are aware the way I'm aware. It is a real realty.

Aging is dying. A plant dies; a human dies. Let this fact of life -- dying -- inspire you to use your time, more seconds and more and more seconds -- better-fully-richly.

Trying helps.


Friday, June 2, 2017


Responding to the topic that Emily Frankel picks, John Cullum and Em find themselves behaving somewhat ridiculously.

Having listed time-wasting, purposeless things they more or less habitually do, suddenly John sums it up. and explains the why-and-wherefore of the silly habits they've revealed.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


I noticed in The Week Magazine, a small article headlined, "Tooth Heal Thyself."

I grabbed it, and read every word. I'd just had my teeth cleaned. It takes a half hour to get to get  there, an hour in the Dentist's office, another half hour to get back home; costs about $300 to get "no urgent problems, come back in six months," though I have a cap that needs to be replaced, which will be three appointments that will be costly in time and money.  

Can one NOT go to the dentist and keep one's teeth in shape? The magazine article mentioned that you could keep your teeth healthy, even heal a cavity by chewing on a stick.  

I googled -- read articles in Newsweek, and Time -- found references, quotable quotes from established scientists confirming that you-yourself can heal cavities with "nutrient rich foods" -- finally, bumped into the World Health Organization. In bold print, in its international reports on oral hygiene that were published in 1986 and again in 2000, the World Health Organization  recommends the use of Miswak.

Here's link to the Wikipedia photo and article: "Minerals in this root or twig include potassium, sodium chloride, sodium bicarbonate, and calcium oxides. These ingredients all strengthen the tooth enamel. The bark contains an antibiotic which suppresses the growth of bacteria and the formation of plaque. Research shows that regular use of miswak significantly reduces plaque, gingivitis and growth of carcinogenic bacteria."

On Miswak's website, (it's pronounced "miz wa"), I learned that Miswak, (Salvadora persica), was used by the Babylonians some 7000 years ago; was later used throughout the Greek and Roman empires, and also by ancient Egyptians, Muslims and Inca civilizations; is used in different parts of Africa, Asia, especially the Middle East, and South America. "It naturally strengthens and protects the enamel with resins and mild abrasives for whiter teeth and fresher breath; reduces stains from tobacco products, coffee and teas; the form of the twig massages the gums, and makes it easier to get to the hard-to-reach places for a standard toothbrush. It is used in place of the ordinary toothbrush and toothpaste -- the miswak stick requires no toothpaste whatsoever."

I'm picturing myself chewing on it. You can buy it on for $1.99 -- buy a few, a bunch, or purchase it on Etsy, Ebay, Walmart, Amazon.  My husband said, "Let's try it -- let me be the guinea pig." Our two sticks will arrive in about a week.  

Thursday, May 25, 2017


Time Magazine recently published the 100 Most Influential People In The World 2017.  (If you want to read it, click the link.)

Jeffrey Bezos and LeBron James are on the list.

Bezos continues to amaze me. The more we get to know him, see what interests him, get a sense of where he is going business-wise, I am impressed by his ideas. He focuses on what the world needs now. Yes, I'm hearing the melody of "Love Sweet Love," but he is singing that the world needs a future where people can live, work, play with hope and joy, and a feeling that they are doing something important. Yes, I'm thinking of the Ten-thousand Year Clock, and Blue Origin, his space Rocket that's soon going to travel to Mars, projects Bezos has been expanding and financing, along with many, many other things he's providing for us.

Time Magazine's list includes major, important people's names, but without question Jeffrey Bezos is my choice for "number-one, influential."

LeBron James is also my choice for number-one influential.

James' talent, amazing mind, and hero's energy and drive -- to win, to do what needs to be done for his team.

With his fame, name, and winning, he made a foundation.

He has invested in the next and next generations.

He is intensely focused on inspiring and encouraging kids.

He is teaching them that talent, study, perfecting one's talent, combined with passion and tenacity and decency, can do the impossible.

Yes, Lebron James and Jeffrey Bezos are at the very top of my list, Emily Frankel's list, of who is major, important, profoundly influential.

Sunday, May 21, 2017


Emily Frankel, as usual, picks the topic, telling John Cullum, "It's time to examine the things we do that are selfish and hurtful -- that affect others in a harmful  way." 

Husband John and wife Emily, wend their way through and around this somewhat tricky issue. If you (watching this video) had to talk about your "sinful doings," what would you mention?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


Hey, I'm not bragging -- its safe and sensible, for me to say my husband is a very successful actor.  He's worked almost continually for more than fifty years, very likely has been better paid than most actors. Even so, an aspect of his dream -- what he wanted to do when he was a boy was "movies." The fact is, most of  his work has been on stage and in television, not in films.

Turn back the clock: In the seventies, actor John Cullum started working on a movie script, "The Secret Life of Algernon" based on a book by the highly praised author, Russell Greenan. John wrote/ re-wrote the screenplay -- oh my -- more than ten times, based on what agents and producers said, when they turned it down. Finally, in 1995, a producer offered to produce it. She'd made only one film, but it won an award from the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television. Of course, we said yes.

Small problem -- that it had to be "Canadian" became an ever larger issue. A Canadian writer had to be hired and credited as a co-writer; the director and cast had to be Canadian.

Synopsis: Algernon lives alone, making things out of bones. Wen we meet him he's boiling a neighbor's dead dog for it's bones, and chatting with a porcelain  cat. A ailing Korean War buddy visits him, commits suicide, and leaves Algernon a million dollars in a  suitcase. A woman, claiming to be interested in Algernon's Egyptologist  great-grandfather, pretends to be in love with Algernon, who finds himself falling in love with her.

Award-winning Canadian director of  "Anne of a Thousand Days," directed Algernon. Cast includes Charles Durning and Carrie-Ann Moss. Here's a quick look.  
Alas, as the plot unfolds, Algernon discusses (out loud to himself) his longings and dreams with Eulalia, the porcelain cat. Unfortunately, the porcelain prop is awkward-looking and the cat's voice isn't spooky or very believable. Also, after a suspenseful buildup about the fantastic fortune that is buried under Al's house, the final scene has the leading lady trapped forever in the basement, where the "fortune" looks like junk that's been painted gold. Ultimately the film doesn't quite work. The proof, (as John himself says) is in the pudding -- the "Secret Life of Algernon" it is never shown on TV anymore.

Okay -- win some, lose some, there's no biz like show biz -- it was for John Cullum, a project that could have expanded him, his art and the direction of his career.  I regret that there are so few films that show what John Cullum can do as an actor.  (Photos L to R: "Day After, 1776, N. Exposure, The Historian, Damages.")  He get offers and still appears in quite a few films, but nowadays the roles that are offered to him are mostly for grandfather's dying from Altzheimer's. 

I wish we'd done a indie film in our  backyard. We had an idea, but it seemed like too much hard work at the  time.

Guys, if  you are a performer,  take a look-think into the thought that you might have a film idea. Dig into it deeply. A film keeps what you do alive, real, important, even after your days on the world are over.  Anyhow, here's "Algernon" -- bet you'll enjoy seeing it.

Saturday, May 13, 2017


That driverless cars will choose who lives and who dies, perturbs me.

Example: A self-driving car carrying a family of four on a rural two-lane highway notices a bouncing ball ahead. As it approaches, a child runs out to retrieve the ball. Should the car risk its passengers’ lives by swerving to the side, where the edge of the road meets a steep cliff? Or should the car continue on its path, doing what is best for its passengers’ safety, at the child’s expense?

People who've answered this question for Science Advances Magazine, chose "spare the pedestrians." The magazine is one of the five journals put out by AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) that keeps the public, scientists, and investors in car manufacturing companies informed, on what self-driving car most people will choose.

The major guys are Google, Tesla,  Mercedes, and Apple. They, and 29 other companies (click, see the names), are working night and day to become the autonomous car that's thought of as "the best."

Researchers polled 1,928 internet users. A pattern emerged: The higher the number of pedestrians that would be spared, the more participants felt it was ethical for the car to sacrifice a passenger, even when they imagined that person was a family member. Then, participants were whether the government should require driverless cars to minimize pedestrian deaths at the expense of passengers, and asked, "Would you  buy a car programmed to do so?"

People said YES to autonomous cars that would kill one pedestrian to "save ten others." But when they were asked if they want to own such a car themselves, or support the government enforcing this kind of  sacrifice, they said, NO -- they were not going to buy a car designed to let the occupants die to spare pedestrians.

I'm betting that all the manufacturers  absorbed that fact.
Mercedes has committed to their car choosing the passenger in the car to survive, not the person who's been hit. 
Google doesn't say who will survive -- they're just expanding, opening more factories, and buying the best talent in the world.

Guys, I think Artificial Intelligence in machines is wonderful, but robots driving our cars is scary -- there are moral decisions to be made -- human instinct is involved. Five years ago, crashes killed nearly 33,000 people in the United States, 1,250,000 million people worldwide, and human error caused almost all of the crashes. If the technology for driverless cars turns out to be as wonderfully safe as advertised, the risk of dying behind the wheel will almost certainly drop from where it is today... but collisions will happen, and some people will still die.

The fact is, no matter what we feel, we can't stop this booming business. All we can do is buy a driverless car, or don't buy a driverless car.

I would not buy a driverless car.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


It's a ritual -- every night John Cullum plays super housekeeper "Agnes," cleaning, tidying, polishing up their kitchen.

Every morning, Emily always draws a cartoon that reflects how they're feeling, and sets up a ha-ha mood for the day.

Friday, May 5, 2017


I'm haunted by a crime that happened four years ago. Two 12-year-old girls stabbed another 12-year-old girl 19 times and left her lying on the ground bleeding to death. It has to do with Slenderman, a game the girls played. 

Click the name -- you'll see what you have to do in order to be allowed by Slenderman to play it.
It would take me hours, I think, to learn to play this game, and even then, I'm not sure I could follow the rules, and do the eight thing you must do in order to be accepted and allowed to keep playing the Slenderman game.  Anyhow, here's what I learned about the crime from an article in the news magazine, "Pressreader."

To celebrate her 12th birthday, Morgan Geyser invited two other 12-year-olds for a sleepover party -- Anissa, her current best friend, and Payton Leutner, her best friend since 4th grade.

Morgan Geyser    -      Anissa Weier
Payton Leutner
Morgan’s mother, Angie, told the police, "It was a joyful evening -- they were being normal little girls, running up and down the stairs, holding hands, and giggling.” Angie had no idea that her daughter and Anissa had made a pact months earlier to become “proxies” of Slenderman by murdering Payton. (proxies are surrogates).
       The girls carefully planned it --they were going to cover Payton’s mouth with duct tape, stab her in the neck, pull the covers over her, and then, as fast as possible head, for Slenderman’s mansion, which they believed was in Nicolet,Wisconsin, 200 miles away.
       That night, however, they decided to wait until the next day. Morgan later told the police, “I wanted to give her at least one more morning.”
       In the morning, after a doughnuts and strawberries breakfast, Morgan hid a kitchen knife  in her jacket, and headed with her friends to a local park and its bathroom. Morgan told the police, "There was a drain for blood to go down. We were gonna sit Payton on the toilet, stab her, lock the door and then leave for Nicolet.”
       Anissa, during her interrogation, explained that it was easier to kill someone if they're
sleeping or unconscious, so she'd pushed Payton’s head against the concrete wall, but when Morgan handed over the knife, "We just hugged each other."
       After Anissa and Morgan smoothed things over with Payton by promising to let Payton pick the next game -- they convinced Payton to play a game of hide-and-seek. “Morgan and I were gonna be like lionesses, chasing down a zebra,” Anissa explained to the police, describing how she led Payton to a hiding place in the woods. "As soon as Morgan found us, Morgan and I pounced."
       Anissa told the police that she'd pushed Payton down and sat on her, but when Payton shouted that she couldn’t breathe, she got up. Morgan, worrying that Payton's screams would attract handed Anissa the knife and said, “I can’t do it. You know where all the soft spots are.” Anissa took the knife, but then, gave it back to Morgan, saying, “You do it. Go ballistic. Go crazy.”
       Morgan said,  "I’m not doing it until you tell me to,” so Anissa took a few steps back and said, “Now!” Morgan tackled Payton, sat on her legs and said, “Don’t be afraid, I’m only a little kitty cat.” and whispered, “I’m so sorry,” and started stabbing her in the arms, legs and torso, piercing her stomach, pancreas and liver, missing a major artery near her heart by one millimeter. “It didn’t feel like anything. It was like air,” Morgan told police, demonstrating, making a stabbing motion with her right arm.
       “I hate you! I trusted you,” Payton screamed, when Morgan finally got off of her. Payton stood up and started stumbling toward the road. Anissa stopped her, grabbed her arm and told her to lie down while she and Morgan looked for help. Instead, Anissa and Morgan headed for Nicolet.
       Payton eventually crawled to a sidewalk. Blood soaking into her black fleece jacket, she lay there until a bicyclist discovered her, and called 911. A few hours later, Anissa and Morgan were found walking along a local highway, en route, they said, to Slenderman’s mansion.

Payton, now 15, completely recovered, is a Freshman in Waukesha (Wisconsin) High School. Morgan and Anissa, in custody for the past two years, are in jail with bail set at $500,000. Anissa's trial is set for September 11; Morgan's trial is scheduled for Oct 2. They may be tried as adults, and face 65 yeas in prison. Morgan has been diagnosed as schizophrenic, Anissa claims she has been assaulted in prison. 

I'm astounded -- that Slenderman, a spooky, strange, imaginary, very tall, fatherly, godly spirit in a horror game, seized the minds of these children and so profoundly inspired them.
Maybe this vision and the game element fulfills something that some children nowadays, need.

What can we do? Try to stop Slenderman and online games, with rules, laws, policing, legislation, even though what's forbidden and illegal becomes more desirable,  more passionately pursued.

I think grownups can do it -- by finding ways to rejoice in realities -- belittling, confronting, ho-ho putting down what's imaginary -- poking fingers into an unreal, imaginary spook and popping him like a balloon. By being there, interacting with their children, sharing nothing-to-do time with their children, grownups can garbage an imaginary hero.

Guys, we can't let a generation grow twisted. We need to dullify their need for heroes to worship. It could be hugely time consuming, boring, but grownups can make a Slenderman hero silly-foolish, stultifying, intolerably dumb-dumb boring.

Lots of things we have to do to survive are boring. We gotta do it! 

Monday, May 1, 2017


I put my foot on my desk and took this picture. You can see the sneakers I wear everyday, and note the bad spot where the sole is coming away from where my toes are.
My husband, actor singer John Cullum, periodically re-attaches the soles with glue. Each sneaker, with the newly glued sole clamped in a vise, sits on his desk for 24 hours. When they're fixed they look ... not pretty ... actually, they look awful but I but I wear them again and again, because... golly, can't throw them out.

Anyhow, sneakers are very IN. Famous folks like Kanye West now design their own styles. People are spending $2000 to $25,000 for refurbished, famous brand sneakers that a super athletes have worn. Does buying what a celebrity, like Michael Jordan, wore endow you, or bring you closer to him/her -- to achieving what that person achieved?
You can even buy Chuck Taylor's  sneakers. Basketball player, coach, shoe salesman/evangelist in the 30's, Chuck's the man behind the All-Stars Converse Sneaker, the most successful selling basketball shoe in history. By the way, if LeBron's one of your heroes, you can buy a pair of his sneakers for a much lower price.
If you're not sure what you want, head for Kixify Market Place, and click all. You'll be amazed.

I gather that Sneaker-itis started in the late 18th Century with people wearing rubber soled shoes called plimsolls -- they were crude, with no right foot or left foot. Around 1892, U.S. Rubber Company came up with more comfortable rubber sneakers with canvas tops called Keds. By 1917, Keds were mass produced.

They were nicknamed "sneakers" because they were so quiet -- a person wearing them could sneak up on someone. Around that time Marquis Converse produced the first shoe made for basketball, the  Converse All-Stars shoe that Chuck Taylor made famous. In 1924, a German guy Adi Dassler created Adidas, the sneaker that track star Jessie Owens wore when he won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics.

Kids began wearing them as fashion statements, especially after seeing James Dean in sneakers in the popular movie "Rebel Without a Cause.

Then, in1984, Michael Jordan signed a contract to wear a Nike shoe that Nike called Air Jordans -- the most famous sneakers ever made, even more famous after Jordan retired from the NBA. Meanwhile, Nike, Reebok and Adidas are competing, changing the look of sneakers with wild colors, adding this and that, producing shoes for every sport, sneakers that folks hang on to and love.

Like me and my favorites with the Cullum-glued soles. Hey, if you've got a pair from your olden days that you'd love to get fixed, contact Red Star Cobbler in Chicago. The owner Ray Ramirez charges $25.00 for a basic sneaker cleanup. It might take quite a few months till he gets to yours but wow -- he'll make 'em beautiful again and more precious!

Yes, my favorite sneakers are precious. I write-talk more constructively when I'm wearing them. Maybe that's why people wear their favorite sneakers -- they make you feel as if you can walk, run, do sports, do whatever you do -- better.

No doubt about it -- it's sneaker love -- my sneakers are my good luck, rabbits-foot.

Thursday, April 27, 2017


If his wife, Emily Frankel, says, "I think I need a...."

Whatever she mentions, John Cullum is off -- buying it, making it, or scrounging around to find where and how he can get whatever Emily needs.

Sunday, April 23, 2017


This is Mike Lindell, the guy who invented MY PILLOW.

Using every aspect of himself, including his love life, family, and his on and off addiction to cocaine, alcohol, and crack, 47 year-old Mike is selling MY PILLOW in commercials -- lots of commercials, that are making him lots of money, making him into a kind of folk hero who's proving that the key to success is "name" fame. 

With every commercial, we hear more of his private-personal story, with details emphasizing that he's exceptionally truthful, honest, and trustworthy, that he's working night and day to help people who don't sleep well, to sleep wonderfully well with MY PILLOW.

A story that's often told by Mike is how the MY PILLOW idea came to him, back in 2003 -- how he and his brother worked night and day for months, cutting up pillows into little, big, tiny, and huge pieces, arranging and re-arranging thousands of pieces till -- "miraculously" he says -- one day the pillow magically retained its shape.

He mentions proudly, actually brags about how much time he's bought on all networks -- on hit  shows, news and political shows -- meeting face-to-face with celebrities, anchormen, and big-name CEO's, as well as customers who are responding to his assertions. In commercials, interviews and mailings, he states that MY PILLOW can help you if you've got fibromyalgia, restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, cerebral palsy, acid reflux, and other similar conditions.

Here's one of his 32-second videos.

Right now, busier than ever, Mike proudly announces that there are 18 stores in various states, and a new, 100,000 square-foot factory that opened in May in Minnesota, where workers are working 24/7 -- two lines of workers making pillows at a rate of 12 per minute -- producing more than 85,000 pillows a day. That's why he's buying more media for what he calls the MY PILLOW “tsunami” -- the next boom in sales, that will lead to My PILLOW becoming a billion dollar company.

Of course, a book about Mike Lindell is on the verge of being published; a film is being made about his life. In an interview, tears in his eyes, he explained that he's working on other products that can make life  perfect like MY PILLOW does. He mentioned a dog bed and a mattress top, telling us, "Pay attention to your dreams -- you too can maybe become a billionaire."

Guys, peeking at the Wikipedia, the Minnesota factory is listed as 70,000 square feet, producing 25,000 a day; the pillow is not magical -- it's a patented mix of different-sized pieces of open-cell poly-foam pieces that are chopped to specification by a machine -- the mix contains a resin that enables the foam to retain much of its shape when molded to the user's preference.

Wikpedia also detailed MY PILLOW lawsuit troubles: Lindell's paying a million in civil penalties to settle a false advertising lawsuit because MY PILLOW claims to help fibromyalgia, restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, cerebral palsy, and acid reflux. The Better Business Bureau, having received a maximum number of complaints, has revoked its accreditation, and has given MY PILLOW and "F."

By the way, if you buy a pillow from MY PILLOW, it will cost you $79.98, plus shipping, free shipping if you buy two. There are quite a few other vendors that sell it for around $50, one that offers if for $19.99, plus shipping.

I am writing this blog because MY PILLOW wonderfully, perfectly represents what bugs me, what I hate and fear about advertising in today's media.  MY PILLOW isn't miraculous, marvelous, or a solution to sleeping better. Most of what is said about MY PILLOW is (my opinion) PREPOSTEROUS, phony baloney exaggeration, and lies -- lies created by the creator and people he's hired to help him spend enough money on selling this product, until you and I and millions, probably billions of others will want MY PILLOW.

My husband John and I have a big thing about MY PILLOW ads. When we're watching TV, and  Mike's face, or the MY PILLOW commercial appears, we cry out OH NO!!!

We quickly grab the remote and CHANGE THE CHANNEL.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Back in the days when John Cullum, my husband, was job hunting and I was taking over as artistic director of my dance company, John and I biked everywhere. Quite often on weekends, we went on excursions to areas of New York City that we'd never visited before.
It was an autumn thing to do. I loved the wind in my hair, and the exercise -- using my legs, my straight-backed posture -- tut-tut observing John, who rides his bike hunched over. I wanted my ex-tennis-champ husband to have a dancer’s posture -- he wanted me to bike like a biker, and stop worrying about how I looked.

Golly, I still remember when I was a little girl, what a big deal it was to learn how to ride a bike. Harder, even more important than learning to tie the laces on my shoes, riding a bike was a way of becoming a grownup who could head for the park where grownup, bigger kids were jumping rope and playing baseball.

Well, I did it -- learned, and it grew me up, like learning to drive a car did, when I was older. I had to learn to drive in order to be able to tour and earn a living from performing on college campuses.

After John landed a role in Shakespeare in the Park, on our bikes, we visited all sorts of wonderful Central Park nooks and crannies. When John, who was understudying two leading roles in “Henry V" went on for the Chorus, and did the famous “Oh for a muse of fire” speech, he was discovered by Alan Lerner’s assistant.
While John was playing Sir Dinadan in Lerner and Lowe's “Camelot," on his day off we rode our bikes up and down all the streets -- 41st to 50th street, stopping and studying the exteriors and backstage entrances of famous theaters, not realizing that John would be working on the stage in most of them someday.

Sometime around then, my second-hand pink bike (I’d painted it) was stolen. We’d been parking our bikes in the hallway of our building, where the main entrance door wasn't locked. We'd rented and transformed the 4th floor loft into a spacious home and dance studio, but back then, we didn't have a buzzer that allowed us to unlock it for mail and package deliveries.

John’s blue bike (I’d painted it) was stolen when he was standing-by for Richard Burton in "Camelot," when Richard was off to Rome to co-star with Elizabeth Taylor in “Cleopatra” -- big event that changed their lives, as well as ours.

John’s rising income enabled us to install a buzzer system and buy a smallish Honda motorcycle from an actor pal, who was in “1776," when John was singing “Molasses to Rum.”

Though traffic and potholes scared me, while John auditioned for Lerner, over and over for a new show, working on the Viennese accent Lerner wanted the leading man to have, I started learning to ride “Harry” the Honda.  (That's what I called the Honda.)

Nevertheless, I usually sat behind John on Harry, clutching him as we explored NYC's downtown Jewish shopping district (open on Sundays) where I was shopping for fabric for 16 costumes for my performances at Lincoln Center.  Suddenly, “helmets” had to be worn. Golly, I hated the way my head sweated, when I wore a hard hat. John said, "stop worrying -- you look fine," but my hair looked lousy for hours, after a trip on Harry.

Also, Harry stalled sometimes, and there were skids -- a nasty skid hurt my collarbone, so Harry temporarily lived in the hallway. With John’s “On a Clear Day” earnings, we bought our building, also new bicycles, and baby furniture --  parenting was part of our growing up -- our little one, John David Cullum, was arriving.

As JD grew, we employed housekeeper-baby-sitters, and there were more jobs on Broadway for Dad, more prestigious bookings for Mom. We ventured out as a trio on Harry but it was nerve-racking, not safe -- city streets were getting to be very crowded. We gave Harry to John's understudy. JC, while playing Laertes in Burton’s “Hamlet,” bought a tricycle for JD.

On Sundays, the three of us biked around a nearby huge empty parking lot -- us on two new bikes, JD on his first two wheeler, then, a full-size bike -- wow, he was growing up fast.

When JC starred in “Deathtrap,” like rich folks, we commuted to a rented summer home in the Hamptons, exploring, on rented bikes, possible fabulous homes to buy. It was a fun game -- we weren’t rich, but a lot of things were in the offing -- meetings with Hal Prince about “On the 20th Century,” talk about John starring in a TV show, a tour for my adaptation of “Cyrano,” with John playing the part. All that, while I was on my way to London for a British Arts Council tour and JC was starring in “Shenandoah,” with JD playing a small role. No doubt about it -- the Cullums were in the busiest time, the prime of life. John bought a scooter but his producers objected, so he and JD traveled to the theater in the limo they provided.

Today, in NYC, there are bike paths everywhere, 290 miles of them appeared under Mayor Bloomberg’s jurisdiction, and Citi Bikes. As of May 2016, there are approximately 8,000 bikes and 500 stations throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Jersey City. Check out the station map to see the full Citi Bike coverage.

Cost: Single Ride: $4 -- 1 ride up to 30 minutes.
$12: -- unlimited 30-minute rides in a 24-hour period.
$163: Annual Membership: unlimited 45-minute rides, or $14.95/mo.

I read recently that around 600,000 cars crawl into lower Manhattan each weekday; that 19,000 New Yorkers commute to work by bike. T'aint a friendly city these days -- car-guys hate bikers, bikers hate car-guys, pedestrians hate the cyclists whizzing the wrong way on one-way streets -- last year about  500 people were injured by bikes, but Citi Bikes say fewer are being injured nowadays.

Anyway, JD’s a working actor in LA now, driving a fancy sports car, and our dusty new (old) bikes belong to a neighbor who has two rambunctious kids. Hey, if you want to ascend to a ripe and active old age, you live less dangerously. On weekends, if we’re not busy puttering and fixing worn-out things, JC’s on our treadmill in our studio, and I, being concerned with staying in shape, do my barre every day in my studio and practice standing tall.

Yes, now is a great time for biking -- yes, our biking days are over -- but I stand very tall, and so does John Cullum, when we go on one of our long, long, lovely long walks.

Friday, April 14, 2017


John Cullum reads chapter one of Emily Frankel's "Three Miles East of Rose." A man and woman (mid 40's), widowers, fall madly in love, but family obligations, careers, inhibitions -- fears that come with living in the nineties and being no longer young and beautiful -- keep them apart.

Click title: Three Miles East of Rose

 reduced price:  99 cents
(till April 21)