Thursday, December 7, 2017


Here's my list -- a boil down of Time Magazine's list of "Best Inventions of 2017."


Low-sugar--360 calories per pint; currently beating out Häagen Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s as best-selling pint in America. One pint $5.00

Glasses that give sight to the blind, record high level definition video, magnification, contrast, and algorithms to enhance imagery. Clinically validated at Johns Hopkins Hospital by more than 1000 patients. Present cost: $9,995.

Wrist band for babies, temperature monitoring bracelet sounds alarm, flashes orange if babies are to cold.  $28.00

Available in January,
in a light breathable fabric
that wicks moisture.  $35.00

He giggles, dances, faces you when you say "hello," his  body swivels; he can summarize news stories; he takes photos, $899.

Smarter smart phone;
edge-to-edge screen,
can be unlocked
by your face.
Stronger safer helmet; $1500 -- works like a car bumper, reduces impact to the brain; now used by players on 19 NFL teams

Facebook's Headset 
It needs no phone,
no computer, to
 give wearer VR
Nintendo Gaming Console, 6.2 Screen Smaller than the Ipad Mini, one style for one player, another form is for multiple users. $300

Keeps coffee/tea at
120 F to 145 F
for an hour. $80.


Michelin airless tires,
tread snap in, accommodate
road conditions.

Shoe engineered boosts
performance: Adidas

Drones controlled
by wave of hand; $499.

Molekule 1. Innovative
air cleaner destroys
mold, bacteria, $800 + per year.

Coming soon:
FORWARD: Wellness Clinic; users have unlimited access to genetic screenings, blood testing, weight-loss planning, routine doctor visits; $149 per month.

THYSSENKRUPP MULTI ELEVATOR; Moves sideways, or multi-directional; following successful test in 2017, Multi is set to debut in Berlin by 2021.

TESLA MODEL 3: Electric car. $35,000 +;200 miles on single charge; factory struggling to produce them, getting 1,800 orders a day.

MARS AIRCRAFT, probe beyond  surface of Mars. (ready by 2020 when first flight is ready to go.)

SIMPLER HOME SECURITY, disarmed by wave of hand or key fob; $499.

(What thrills you?  My personal preference: sight for the blind; sideways elevators, innovative air cleaner, Model 3 electric car.)

Sunday, December 3, 2017


"What are your favorite cussing words," Emily asks her husband, John Cullum.

The Cullums have fun with the topic, as they reveal why & when they use curse words, and which words they find themselves using.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


 We love our phones.

The managing editor of The WEEK, Theunis Bates, said Americans feel their relationships are being phubbed by a seductive third party -- not another person, but a smartphone. I looked up phubb; it's phone & snub spliced together.

Researchers at Baylor University surveyed 140 people and found that  almost half had been “phubbed” by their partner, that is, snubbed by the partner checking social media, news, or texts on a phone, According to 70 people, phone overuse is causing conflict with their loved one. 

"Phubbering" was also mentioned a few weeks ago in The Washington Post in an article by Stanford University psychologist, Emma Seppala who described how many couples are struggling to balance their  love for each other with their love for their iPhones and Androids.

Managing editor Theunis Bates said: "I’ve been both a phubber and phubbee‚ so I get why this habit is so infuriating and yet so difficult to stop doing. We’re social beings who crave connection, but facetoface communication can feel passé when there’s a whole world to observe and interact with on our gadgets. Tap a screen and you’re rewarded with an always updating stream of photos from family and friends, tweets from the president, breaking news, and videos of skateboarding cats. Dipping into that stream lights up the pleasure centers in our brains—the same ones activated by recreational drugs—so we keep going back for more."

Wow! What a warning! When I'm shopping, I see it happening -- everyone's talking on the phone while I'm trying not to bump into anyone, or checking pot holes in the sidewalk and the street.

Hey, heed Theunis Bates and Em! Command yourself -- sing that ugly awful word P H U B B E R E E inside your brain, and plunk down your device.

Saturday, November 25, 2017


"Dear Emily, 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.

"Thought this might please you, Em. Your loving husband -- John Cullum."

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


How does  Broadway Star John feel about doing small roles, nowadays -- no longer playing the leading man.

"It would make me nuts!" Emily says, referring to the old men with Alzheimer's, the cranky grandfather parts he's been playing.

John admits that it can make him feel a bit nutty, but reveals why those smaller roles are "wonderful work."  Since he's currently playing a "small role" on Broadway, in the musical "Waitress," what he says is especially fascinating.

Friday, November 17, 2017


What do I want to say...?

I'm not sure.

I doodled this spur of the moment.

Occasionally, when I'm not sure what's on my mind, doodling helps me, reminds me of this-and-that, a bunch of things... yes, there seems to be a mish-mash of things, growing things in a sort of bouquet.

 Our son JD's in a play in LA; he's got a new project, a lovely girl friend -- that he's okay, doing well, better than ever is definitely one of my blessings.

My husband's in a show on a schedule that gets him home late while I'm working on things that get me up early, but that's a blessing -- that we're busy, committed to work, able to do things that we enjoy doing.

Our home-sweet-home -- every morning when I wake up and cross the bright green floor and see garden furniture, plants, and light pouring in from the skylight -- that's a blessing.

Okay, there are other things -- it's lucky, wonderful, a lifetime blessing that my husband's talent made us enough money to live safely and well.

Big biggest blessing -- we have each other and cherish each other.

Hey, spur of the moment, click -- enjoy my video.  

Monday, November 13, 2017


Have you heard of Sir Harold Evans?  He is one of the greatest editors alive, according to the New York Times, and The New Yorker.

What he knows is in his new book:
Illustrated. 408 pp. Little, Brown & Company.
From 1967 to 1981, Evans was the helmsman in London, of The Sunday Times till he clashed its purchaser, Rupert Murdoch, and moved to America. By the nineties, he was head of Random House, editing books by distinguished authors such as Norman Mailer and Henry Kissinger. He married Tina Brown, former famous editor of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. As a distinguished author himself of a few books on American History, he is uniquely qualified to instruct us on how to write well.

Harold Evans tells us: "What really matters is making your meaning clear beyond a doubt. And the key to clarity, is concision."

In his book, he offers edifying and entertaining “Ten Shortcuts to Making Yourself Clear,” for instance, No. 7 is “Don’t Be a Bore.” Influenced by 19th-century American reformers who wanted written sentences to be shorter and easier to understand, Evans invites us into what he calls his “sentence clinic.” There we see him in editorial action, applying his surgical tools to specimens of "bloated, dull, euphemistic, incomprehensible prose"-- specific newspaper articles, academic writing, and finally, brilliantly -- the entire 2010 White House report on the underwear bomber.

Evans analysis/reworking of the bomber occupies nearly 50 pages. He even operates on a passage from “Pride and Prejudice,” asking, “What is Jane Austen saying?”

You may have to force your eyeballs to get through this as you are learning to do what Evans does.  Writing is hard work. Often, starting a project, you're relaxing and enjoying rambling around until you find the idea, and dig into it. Later, you'll need to diligently revise clumsy, turgid, bits and cut what's excessive.

Reading and studying Harold Evans will give you ways to cultivate your own inner editor who can skillfully, even efficiently, help you shape a "good" book -- one that will successfully find an audience.

Thursday, November 9, 2017


For umpteen years, as a poor sleeper, trying over-the-counter remedies and doctor's prescriptions -- Ambien, Valium, Benadryl, Valerian, Melatonin, various homeopathic  remedies, warm milk, liquor, gone off caffeine, counted sheep, counted chimpanzees, reviewed lines in a play, reviewed steps in choreography -- I still do not fall asleep.

I fall awake.

My current routine: After tucking pillows under my neck and knees, I mutter "Sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care," repeat the Shakespeare words, counting as I start with the left leg, "One Ten Thousand, sleep that knits..." while sensing the flow of blood in 10 toes, then ankle, calf, knee, thigh, hip joint before concentrating on the right leg, and its toes. I repeat this 15 to 30 times, till my mind rebels, and a loud awareness that I am wide awake drives me out of bed into the kitchen for a snack and some TV.

There's a relatively new process called transcranial direct stimulation (tDCS) that zaps the brain with electricity, and keeps people up for as much as 30 hours. Caffeine lasts two hours, tDCS currently lasts six. There's Modafinil, a stimulant that Wall street-investors use. I am not going to try them. 

Sleep experts are now saying we just need five hours a night. Most millennials (people born after 2000) are into five hours). The latest talk about sleep says "sleep less, do more." They say the Internet, email, and social networking are giving us shots of dopamine, a chemical the brain releases to simulate pleasure. We get this from caffeine, and now we're sold caffeine's in toothbrushes, stockings, soap, bath bubbles, beer, marshmallows, lollipops, coke, red bull, and bottled water. And of course, we continue to be told over and over, that caffeine keeps us awake.

So don't drink coffee? Do drink it? Drink it less? Golly, we're flashed a lot of facts -- re coffee, saccharin, eggs, cholesterol, omega 3, belly fat, dental hygiene, bacteria, calories, carbs, exercise -- but I put most of this into my BB pile (bullshit baloney), where major life and death important facts seem to fade like smoke rings.

After a not-enough-sleep night, or a moderately good night, I do my work -- how well I do it depends -- not on sleep -- but on whether or not the topic excites me.

Therefore I do my "raveled sleeve" routine and occasionally I sing this to myself.  Try it, it might work for you.

Sunday, November 5, 2017


"Three Square Market," a company in Wisconsin, is giving employees an option of being implanted with microchip. "This is the future," said the company's CEO, Todd Westby.

A microchip the size of a grain of rice is easily injected under the skin. Suddenly, the touch of a hand, a wave of your hand can do a lot of things for you -- open doors, turn on lights, start the coffee machine, lock or unlock your cell phone, car, even your lock box.

The microchips are radio frequency ID tags, the same technology widely used in things like key cards. Chips have been implanted in animals for years to help identify lost pets and now the technology is moving to humans. Tech start-ups have sold tens of thousands of implant kits for humans in Europe. In some cities there are even implant parties where people bond, and celebrate getting chipped together.

“This is serious stuff," said an executive editor at CNET. "We’re talking about a connection to your body. You can’t turn it off, or put it away. It's in you. Each 'touch' leaves a digital footprint which can compromise one’s privacy. It’s easy to hack a chip implant."

CBS NEWS reporter, John Blackstone said, "It could put your privacy at risk," and referred to implants as a dystopian vision, ala "Brave New World," Huxley's novel about people in the future living dehumanized lives. Coincidentally, the movie channel has been running the 2004 film, "The Manchurian Candidate," about a human who's chipped and controlled, and ordered to kill a candidate at an election -- some ads are even juxtaposing pictures of Trump.

So would you get a chip implanted? This video about a Swedish company will help you decide.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017


Here's a not very pretty picture of her that I've seen here and there.

As an actress In Los Angeles, Frances McDormand was passed over -- told she was too old, too fat, too young, too thin, too blond, too dark, too tall, too short, until she appeared in the Coen brother's film Fargo in 1996, as Madge, the policewoman -- fearless, down to earth, tender, perceptive.

Also tough. Bluntly honest in saying what needed to be said, and doing what needed to be done.

She's 60 now; she was 39 then, married to filmmaker Joel Cohen since 1984 and starred in various films by the Coens. Private life stuff: Mr. & Mrs. Cohen adopted a son; Frances has let it be known that she hates being photographed; doesn't wear makeup when she is off the set; doesn't have a full-length mirror; never watches the monitor while filming; hates making selfies with fans. I haven't found any other personal things she's told reporters but it's her acting that I want to talk about.

Frances McD creates a real person in every project. While you're watching the story unfold you don't think of who she is. The fact is, she's a very successful famous actress who is not name-famous, not a celebrity. She just connects with what she's playing and every element of the person's environment -- the locale, the culture, the public and private way of the person thinks, speaks, what the person believes in.

Hey, isn't this what method actors do? Sure. Think of one of your favorite stars -- watching him/her you know a lot about that star as you are involved and touched by his/her work. I didn't know till today when I looked Frances up in the Wikipedia, that it was France McDormand with Gene Hackman in Mississippi Burning in deeply touching scenes I will never forget.

Credits: Frances McDormand is one of the 23 performers who have achieved the 'triple crown' of acting -- Academy Award for Fargo (1996), Tony Award for the Broadway play Good People (2011), and an Emmy Award for the HBO miniseries Olive Kitteridge (2014). She has starred in Coen brother's Blood Simple (1984), Raising Arizona (1987), The Man Who Wasn't There (2001), Burn After Reading (2008), Hail Caesar! (2016); was nominated as Academy Awards Best Supporting Actress for Mississippi Burning (1988), Almost Famous (2000), and North Country (2005). She made her Broadway debut in the 1984 revival of Awake and Sing, and received a Tony Award nomination for her performance as Stella Kowalski in the 1988 revival of A Streetcar Named Desire. In 2008 she starred on Broadway in the revival of The Country Girl, and received a Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Play.

Frances McD is indeed succeeding, and it ain't her name or her looks. We'll be seeing her in a new film Three Billboards in November (official trailer is below) where she plays (according to her,) a not lovable, tough, profane, humane woman, who shocks us when we see her telling off a young policemen, with cuss words that writer Em won't quote here because it might stop people from reading this salute to a uniquely inspiring woman, actress, artist.

Saturday, October 28, 2017


Emily Frankel is nervous about "retirement,"wondering if it's something they are going to do sooner or later.

John Cullum teases his wife, Emily, declaring he's already retired even though he's still working as an actor -- not starring in plays and musicals, just doing different kinds of roles.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


Want a robot in your kitchen? (Yes, people in the know call 'em "bots.")

A cook for you and your family doesn't exist yet, but technologists are working on it. Many appliance companies as well as gadget-startups are hotly & heavily working on devices that can prepare meals and shop for groceries.

A bot will keep you well-stocked. Amazon's ready to sell you its "Dash" button, ( $4.99 per button) that could replenish things like Ziploc bags and pretzel goldfish.
     Samsung's Family Hub Refrigerator, ($3,499),makes shopping easier, and with LG, (electronic company working with Amazon Alexa) offers you recipes.
     For $99 you can get a wireless SmarterFridgeCam that lets you see the contents of your fridge -- with its app tracks expiration dates on what you have, and makes recipe suggestions.

Bots can help you cook. The June Intelligent Oven ($1,495, called the Tesla of ovens) uses A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) to determine how long things should cook; with its ability to identify foods such as chicken, bacon, salmon, waffles, chocolate chip cookies; with its cameras, sensors, and temperature gauge it can even remind you when to flip what's cooking.
A smart baking scale can tell you how much sugar, flour, seasoning, you need to add, such as Drop ($79.95) or Perfect Bake ($72), which also can, with its app, help you substitute ingredients for what you don't have.
     Various companies, such as Amazon Echo ($179.99) and Google Home  ($129.00) sets a timer for you and reads recipes aloud from Allrecipes and Food Network.

Bots can keep you healthy.
HAPIfork ($79) helps you lose weight by preventing you from eating too fast or too much -- it vibrates and lights up to indicate this. 
     SmartPlate Top View ($79) works with a scale and app that helps diners portion their meals and maintain a well-balanced diet.
     Pryme Vessyl ($99), a smart cup, can prevent dehydration, track daily water consumption with its meter that lights up to indicate your hydration level throughout the day; it integrates with Apple's Health App for the iPhone, so you can plug in your water-metics along with other fitness-metrics.


....well, I love to cook. I don't use recipes. I know how to use all my appliances efficiently. I have a timer on the stove that I rarely use. I keep a shopping list (with pencil attached) stuck to the fridge and keep it up-to-date. I shop for food online, and have it delivered once or twice a week. As for hydration, well-balanced diet, eating too fast, expiration dates ... Golly, good heavens....

A bot in your kitchen would be like having your Mom, or a stickler Mother-in-law looking over your shoulder!!!!

Friday, October 20, 2017


 "Eat Chili Peppers & Live Longer" was recently headlined in articles published by CBS News, New York Times, Daily News, and Time Magazine.


All these articles quoted a new study in PLOS.COM., an authoritative public library science journal that only publishes scientifically rigorous research. About 16,000 adults who were surveyed on their background, eating habits, and current health from 1988 to 1994, were followed up on for a period of 18 years. The  mortality rates for adults who consumed chili peppers were 21.6% compared to 33.6% for those who didn’t -- i.e. chili pepper eaters have a 13 percent reduced risk of dying. The Capsaicin in various chili peppers is, perhaps, the key to longer life.

...hmm... I sinfully, frequently snack on spicy hot Jalapeno chips. 
Capsaicin (pronounced 'cap see sin') metabolizes fat breakdown, stores energy in different organs, protects against high cholesterol and obesity, therefore reduces hypertension and type 2 diabetes, as well as deactivate certain regulators of cellular growth, which could stop tumors.

The reliable journal refers to another study in 1997, which suggests that Capsaicin in hot peppers may prevent cancer, and hinder the growth of prostate tumors. Scientists introduced tobacco to hamsters to induce cancerous lung tumors. They gave one group Capsaicin and the other group a placebo. The Capsaicin group experienced less tumor growth in the lungs than the placebo group, indicating that hot peppers may also help prevent lung cancer in those who smoke or live in polluted areas. The journal also refers to two other studies about hot peppers being the key to longevity: A 2009 study in India concluded peppers were was not the key; a 2015 study in China however concluded chili pepper reduced mortality from all causes, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.


New York Times reporter, Nicholas Bakalar, quoted another very recent study by Dr. Benjamin Littenberg, professor of medicine at the University of Vermont, who said "The evidence isn’t strong enough to make me change my diet. Don’t smoke, limit calories, don’t drink to excess, get a flu shot every year -- those are things we have very convincing evidence will help you live longer. I don’t know how much chili pepper to tell you to eat.”

Guys, I'm hooked on Jalapeno chips. I blame it on my husband who habitually spices up everything I cook, more or less insulting me as a cook.  He adds tons of garlic powder, pepper, Indian curry, and cayenne.

Maybe there's something a little masochistic in eating spicy food, but it's a great way to stave off the most brutal elements of winter. The fact is, having indoctrinated my throat with spicy hot Jalapeno chips, I'm going to give chili peppers a try. Take a look at my not necessarily healthy doings.

Monday, October 16, 2017


Emily Frankel insists her husband, John Cullum, explain why he gets confused, often seriously pissed off when he's using his computer.
Mile a minute, he mentions things that most people do easily online.  Suddenly, paranoically, John claims the Internet was designed to make him feel stupid.

Emily, discussing specifics with John, can't eliminate his frustration, but it comforts him.

Thursday, October 12, 2017


Each year around this time, I remind you to stand tall. I have not been standing tall, probably ever since the 2016 election -- discouragement about what's happening in the country and the world. I figure you, for similar reasons aren't standing tall either.
If you are slumped over, or dumpy looking, you can read what I've said about this in some of my older blogs  --"SSS"  (Sit, Stand, Straight), or "Promenade." (I'm not encouraging you to click the links; read if you've got lousy posture.)

My current routine: every morning around 6:50 A.M. I carry my tall cup of coffee and bagel downstairs and march into my office-dance-studio-theater, striding with long, strong bold steps. Looking straight ahead and beyond so that my head is high, I cross the 40 foot floor, hear my sneakers squeak, dismissing my do-this- do-that morning thoughts.

If "stand up straight" worked like a mantra, I'd be fine -- perky, zesty, attractive looking. Alas, commanding myself like a boss, director, choreographer, doesn't work as well as it used to -- because I'm getting older as well as wiser.

Guys, when you stand tall, you like yourself. It's more important than how young you look, and vanity concerns such as weight, diction, hair style, makeup, and what you're wearing. Liking yourself is an inner thing of pride and confidence. When you LIKE yourself, you think more clearly and accomplish more -- you do whatever you are doing better, more efficiently, more skillfully, accurately, thoroughly.

If you don't like yourself for whatever reasons -- poor sleep, bad personal or world news -- standing tall you will get you liking yourself.

How to stand tall:

Be a toothpaste tube.  

Squeeze yourself in the middle -- front, back, sides, all around. While you're squeezing count ten chimpanzees -- "one chimpanzee -- two, three," etc.

That's it. If you want to do more, toothpaste tube yourself three times a day.

And three times a day, go to a wall.

 Stand against it...

...your heels...

...back of legs...

...your waist,

...your upper back,

...your shoulders,

And count ten chimpanzees. Articulate the word; if you check it on your watch, saying the 'chimpanzee' takes about a second.

What gets in the way of standing tall is the fact that most of the day, you are sitting. Therefore, try doing this three times a day. 

Perhaps, each time you are thinking of getting a snack, you could go stand against the wall and do this exercise. Doing the wall four to six times a day will make a difference, or counting twenty chimpanzees, but guys, it gets boring.

I say don't do your exercise more-so, bigger, or better. I say don't discuss this with your loved ones. Excessive loving encouragement can wear down the private, secret, wonderful inner-winner thing of standing tall.

Just STAND TALL and enjoy the way you feel.

Sunday, October 8, 2017


The big guys who control what most of us use everyday, are telling/selling, compelling us "do not attempt to repair your device." They say: "If you try to fix it yourself, you're inviting hackers.  You'll have more troubles, serious troubles. Repairs must be done by our skilled technicians."

Apple, along with other phone makers, as well as Deere Co (maker of tractors), are lobbying and halting -- yes halting -- "Right to Repair " legislation. They're worried. They make billions from repairs and Right to Repair & Fair Repair is now in 12 States.

Peruse this.

Get some handyman books on this and that ...

Take a look....

Get specific

Pick up a tool or two....

This can be you.
All aspects of YOU yourself -- brains, brawn, and beauty -- are utilized when you fix it yourself. 

It's a way to fight helplessness about wars, immigration, global warming, racial issues, healthcare, taxes, scary headlines, and it's good exercise.

Hey, if you yourself cannot make the-whatever-it-is work, use your brain, brawn, beauty to find a local expert -- ask folks who own or operate or work for businesses in your neighborhood for suggestions; check references; negotiate; make an appointment; watch what they do. And learn.

It's interesting. It's fun.  I've done it. If I can do it, so can you.       

Wednesday, October 4, 2017


"Hmm," Emily Frankel says as she checks out their latest video recording, while her husband, John Cullum, chuckles and enjoys the video's topic.

Cullum the professional, who splices in music, and cuts out unnecessary stuff, doesn't criticize his or her performance, but Emily fusses over her diction, their outfits, and often wants to re-do the recording. John usually talks her out of it.