Friday, January 19, 2018


The title under grim picture in Time of a hand holding the injection needle says:
      "The Fiercer-than-usual Flu Season Will Meet a Less-effective-Than-usual Vaccine."

Time Magazine's highly respected senior reporter, Alice Park, explains: "This year's virus is in rare form. Experts report that the vaccine may not be as effective as they'd hoped. Normally, vaccines are grown in about four months in chicken eggs but minor changes that are being made to the growing process may be contributing to lower effectiveness."

According to the CDC (center for disease control), this year’s shot includes H1N1, H3N2, but the changes could be making the H3N2 strain less potent which would limit the immune response it triggers in the body. This could lead to people remaining susceptible even if they got their flu shot. Scientists, while trying to shift away from egg-based vaccine production, have not yet found a reliable alternative.

Should you survive the season without getting vaccinated?

No, says leading experts. Even if it isn't effective against one strain, it will protect you against the others. When it comes to viruses, the science is clear: some protection is better than none.


Monday, January 15, 2018


WOW!! "Time Magazine," said there's a new pill that will cure depression that affects 300 million Americans. I have been, more or less, one of  them.

The six page center-fold article, loaded with history, detailed the effectiveness of pills, such as Prozac, Celexa, Zoloft, and Luvox, that depressed friends of mine have taken.

Ketamine  -- that's the new drug!  Ketamine is what Anesthesiologists use to put people under before they are anesthetized for surgery.

"In the past 20 years I have not seen anything like this," says Dr. Cristina Cusin, a clinician, researcher who runs the Ketamine Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital. "Studies have shown 60% to 70% of people with treatment resistant depression respond to Ketamine."

Dr. Cusin revealed that approximately 400 patients have been involved with the studies. The Ketamine injection treatment lasts 7 to 14 days; to maintain the cure you need to keep getting injections; it costs $400 to $800 per treatment; it's not covered by insurance insurance.

Time explained that there are many private Ketamine clinics throughout the United States. Since it is FDA approved as an anesthetic, physicians can prescribe it for any condition they believe it may help, including depression. It's injected into a muscle. There are, so far, no rules governing clinics, but patients trying it, were saying it makes them feel "great... not depressed... hopeful... energetic... capable of activity..."

Major drug companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Allergan are working on Ketamine, and other similar drugs. They've announced that they may have a pill like it or better, by 2018, and 2019.  Doctor Gerard Sanacora, head of Yale's Depression Research Program says: "I think it's the most exciting treatment of the last 50 years. There's a lot we don't know about it, but any new drug that almost makes it to the finish line is a huge win."

...."huge rules" makes me uneasy.... 

Even so, for decades, since its first issue in 1923, Time Magazine been a major reliable, highly respected source for news. Like most of our newspapers and magazines, Time is in a survival mode with its readership declining and costs rising, so Time's been reformatting, firing and hiring new top executives. A new pill grabs readers (like the magazine's 2016 centerfold article that highly touted a- "possible cure for Altzheimer's" which may or may not cure Altzheimer's.) Anyhow, in a year or two maybe Ketamine will help a lot of depressed folks who don't respond to treatment.

Like me. Having been been psychoanalyzed and also had short term therapy with a few other excellent therapists, I've learned a lot about what causes my depression. But aside from Freudian stuff, who isn't depressed nowadays, with so many terrifying, serious,  unsolvable issues hanging over our country as well as the world?

Hey, I perk myself up -- cure myself with work -- a project, something I'm doing like writing this blog. Work gets me learning, expanding, striving, and with it comes some tingling moments of excitement, daydreams. Sure, dreams fizzle, but momentarily thinking that what I'm writing might reach a lot of people, might get published -- those big and little thoughts keep firing up big and little hopes... and and Emily Dickinson...

Sure, a pill might help, but you can change the subject in your brain. Hey, try it now. Focus on anything you could do right this minute -- quickly shove away the idea -- then, focus on it again. Even if it's a tiny, itty-bitty bit of nothing, grab it. Cure yourself for ten minutes, an hour, even a week.

Thursday, January 11, 2018


Emily Frankel, Cullum's wife says, "John, As you started out, whom did you want to be like as an actor?"

He explains when and how, back in Knoxville, Tennessee, films inspired him pursue a career in theater.

In this video that we made sometime ago, what John Cullum says about why he devoted his life to acting, is what he feels right now, today, stronger than ever.

Sunday, January 7, 2018


"Who's the Greatest Genius of All time?" Walter Isaacson asked some of the men and woman who are on Time's list of "The Most Influential People of  2017." Having written books on Ben Franklin, Albert Einstein, Steven Jobs, and Leonardo Da Vinci, the question was certainly an appropriate question for Isaacson to ask the people on that list, who are pioneers, leaders, titans, artists and icons themselves.

George Church, 63, geneaologist who pioneered gene-editing technology, chose CARL BOSCH, the chemist who converted nitrogen gas into ammonia for fertilizer, and revolutionized the way human's grow food.

Patricia Bath, ophthalmologist, age 75, first African American doctor to receive a medical patent, chose MARIE CURIE, winner of Nobel Prizes in 1903 and 1911 who discovered radium, polonium,  and radioactivity. 

Ann Patchett, best selling author, age 54, winner of many major book awards for her novels -- "Bell Canto," "Commonwealth," and "State of Wonder," chose JANE GOODALL whose studies of Chimpanzees changed the world's attitude toward animals.

David Adjaye, age 51, award-winning architect, chose J. MAX BOND, whose many museums stores, and house developments make him one of the worlds most innovative, revolutionary architects. 

Christopher Edwards Nolan, 47, film director, acclaimed as one of best filmmakers of the 21st century, chose DAVID HOCKNEY, renown image maker -- photographer, researcher, authority on the development images and the use of optics in painting and in film down through the ages.

Rihanna, 20, award-winning singer, fashion designer, and entrepreneur, chose MICHAEL JORDAN, Chicago Bulls sports hero who transformed his sports career, what he accomplished in basketball, into a legend.

This is a photo of the award-winning innovators who expressed their opinions.

(Note Rihanna in the middle, who announced, "I'm 100% involved  creating and expanding "Fenty Beaty Makeup Collections."

Golly....who would I pick....?

I'd pick  Einstein, Newton, Pasteur, the names, the geniuses I heard about over and over as I was growing up, Also Mozart, and J.S. Bach who affected what I did, loved, and worked on in my world.

Walter Isaacson, putting together the Genius issue for Time, elevating Leonardo Da Vinci beyond the smartest of Leonard's peers, said, "Talent hits a target that no one else can hit--genius hits a target no one else can see..." And ends the article with: "Da Vinci was a genius. He was, more important, the epitome of the universal mind, the person most curious about more things than anyone else in history."

I bow to that.

So who would YOU select as the geniuses who profoundly affected your world?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018


It's my first day back at work since the holidays.

Things don't seem much different from last year, when I was recovering from the election, worrying about our street, and what the new President will be doing, or not doing.

The small building they were tearing down last year is now an empty space that will become another parking lot, or someone will build a much taller building in the lot. Taller buildings make money, a few million per floor. More floors in the tall buildings across from our house are becoming condos for wealthy people with kids.

Looking out my window two days ago I saw their huge marvelously decorated Christmas trees. Today there are already two trees at the curb.

Soon all the trees will be in the street. After the holidays, you pretend not to notice the branches becoming brown and pine needles on the floor, until you notice pine needles on your kitchen floor and in the bathroom. Our tree is already in our hallway, waiting to be lugged downstairs.

The condo folks across the street will be elevatoring their trees downstairs where theirs and ours will rest ignobly on the curb till the garbage guys arrive to toss the tree into their bins.

Ah, our tree... oh my... As our son, my husband and I opened our presents, the way it twinkled and glistened reminded us of other years. Our son, actor JD lives in LA. He's already back there rehearsing for a new show, but he'll be here in February, helping me install the new computer we got for me for Xmas.

The computer will help me write -- I don't want to blog about politics, and mourn the good things from the Obama days that are being stopped, outlawed, curtailed, but I'm revising one of my plays, maybe producing it again -- that's fun!

My husband (John Cullum) will continue performing on Broadway in the "Waitress," while working on his one-man show and our audio book project. It delights me, how his friends and fans enjoy the way he tells my stories when he's reading one of my novels aloud.

Hey, it'll be Ground Hog Day soon, then Valentine's Day, first day of spring, 4th of July, Halloween, and in a minute it'll be Xmas/New Years again. We'll be very busy and our street busier than ever with a new parking lot, and kids. They'll have pets, and playmates. There'll be school buses taking them to school, and more grocery, drugstore, UPS deliveries.

I'll learn the names of the delivery guys and the latest new postman -- knowing names helps make my street, my world, into a friendly safer neighborhood. Children in the condos will be fun to watch from my window -- next time I see a child at the window  I'll wave. Kids wave back.

Here's a video that suits my mood -- "Bye Bye Christmas Tree," -- hello tomorrow!