Thursday, May 24, 2018

SEAN PENN'S REVELATIONS

Here's an interview with Sean Penn, about his recently published  novel, "BOB HONEY WHO JUST DO STUFF."

Interviewer, Nate Hopper, asked: "The main character of your book is a mercenary who opposes a Trumpian figure. Do you share Bob Honey's point of view?''

Penn said: "I wrote this book to get myself away from my own world views. That doesn't mean they are not expressed in this book. It's up to the reader to decide."

Interviewer: "In this book, he (Bob Honey) drafts a letter to the Trumpian character, saying "We are a nation in need of an assassin.  Are you worried that will be read as you advocating for the assassination of President Trump?"

Penn: "I'm not worried about that. If anybody believes by reading this that I am advocating for something like that, then they are  not really getting that this is a satire. ..." (later referring to Trump) "His indulgence in his own flamboyance and minor brain is cheapening the air we breathe. I used the book to keep myself from [falling into] the worse thoughts that Bob expressed. When it comes to Sean Penn talking for Sean Penn these days, I even feel that I want to use less flamboyant language than I have, and I am not a politician."

"Bob targets the elderly.  Do you fear getting old?"

"No, I am in a hurry to get old. I've always that it in my head that I'm 77 y
ears old. Now I don't know if I'll make it to that. I've done a little too much smoking. But I do feel more at ease with the world the older I get despite the fact that the world itself is becoming increasingly challenging."  (Sean Penn's actually 58.) 

(He was a handsome 35 or 36 when we lived in Malibu. I often had a Starbucks coffee outside at one of the tables. I noticed Sean Penn at another table. He was staring at me. Staring back for a moment, wondering was he flirting--should I smile, say anything--I looked away--any trivial remark might seem as if I were a gushy fan flirting back. My husband, John Cullum, had actor-pals who occasionally sent flirty eye messages that it's best to ignore, so I quickly finished my coffee and hurried out.)  

Interviewer Nate, referred to a lawsuit Penn recently settled, that insinuated in his twenties he was abusive with his wife, Madonna: "Has that experience affected your impression of "me too?"

"Yeah. I want it to win," Penn said, explaining that he hoped 'me-too' would take baby steps and not become media legislation of free speech. "The greater issue is that there are very serious changes that society needs to make to improve life for women, for homosexuals, for immigrants. Skepticism is more necessary and valuable than any blind belief anybody has about anything. No matter what issue we're talking about, I believe every black person can have a point of view on a white person that is legitimate to express. Every man who has a point of view on women's issues, it is legitimate to express, and vice versa. We've got to be a 'we' at some point. Once good intentions start forcing everybody into camps, the strategy is off. Then things get worse. If people take some kind of high ground. like only Danish princes can play Hamlet, they we've lost the joy of life."

I say Sean Penn IS "Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff." You'll see Sean Penn just do stuff in this fascinating video that's turned me into a sincerely admiring SEAN PENN FAN.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

(VIDEO) WHAT SHOW WOULD BE FUN TO DO AGAIN

John Cullum and wife Emily Frankel wonder if it would be fun to revive one of the musicals he starred in on Broadway--maybe "Shenandoah."


Kicking around pros and cons, they find themselves humming and singing a little. It inspires John to sing out phrases from some of his favorite songs from the show.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

WHAT I FEAR



What do I fear?

That aliens are already here? Sure, it's in the worry corner of my mind, along with suicidal terrorists, bus drivers mowing down pedestrians, nuts with guns -- along with  wicked weird weather, over population, running out of breathable air, food and water -- yes, I worry, but what can I do about any of these things?

The Monk, Martin Luther, in the sixteenth century, said, "Pray, and let God worry."

While trying to pray, I'm shivering. What I fear more than anything is the MONEY MEN.

This book, written 15 years ago, and lots of other books have warned us. They've explained why we need to beware of the super rich, kingpins, CEOS, who can afford to buy, create, or find new ways to control the world, use the world's resources -- the land, air, clouds --  the stock market, wars, elections, oil, coal.... (Add to this list whatever is on your mind. Behind the scenes, the MONEY MEN control wages, immigration, guns, education, fashion, cosmetics, art, pop music, movies, sports -- name anything that you want, like, need -- the MONEY MEN control it.)

Can we stop them?

No. They're big beyond "big" and complexly interconnected. Masons, Illuminati, Koch Brothers -- famous names, and the names behind the famous names -- these guys with their legal teams created super SuperPacs that are already working on the next election, and have found legal ways to spend as much money as they want on getting what they want.

Who are they?  They're on Forbes' list, CNN, and New York Times lists -- you'll bump into  Gates, Bezos, Zuckerberg, Page, Buffet -- ten, twenty names you recognize who are affecting everything.

A long time ago I saw a film, "The Naked Jungle," starring Charleston Heston and Eleanor Parker.  He was running a plantation that got overrun by ants -- the "marabunta."

THE MONEY MEN are marabunta. They are eating up everything.

Whoa! They can't eat up me or you, if you hold onto what you believe in. Your thoughts drown the marabunta MONEY MEN, and flush them away like debris.

The only way to stop them is to think for yourself. Think yes or no, right or wrong, good or bad, I want  or don't want, I like, dislike, I believe, disbelieve. Don't trust ads, movies, news, facts, percentages, pronouncements -- keep track of, DON'T BUDGE -- stick to your own thoughts. 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

BIKING IN NEW YORK CITY

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 750 Citi Bikes stations in the five boroughs. Cost: $3 for 30 minute trip, $12 for 24 hours, 3 day passs $24.00; annual membership $169.00 per year.

I read recently that around 800,000 cars crawl into lower Manhattan each weekday;, and  20,000 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 800 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.

Monday, May 7, 2018

(VIDEO) JOHN CULLUM'S FAMILY FEELINGS

John Cullum says while you're working in a show, the cast  as well as the stage crew becomes a family with whom you share all  sorts of personal things.


It's a show biz fact of life--after the show closes, sustaining the loving friendships--even with your favorite best pals--just isn't possible.


Thursday, May 3, 2018

THE GUN GUYS

We hear about guns -- golly, everyday -- accidents, murders, killings -- all types of people using guns. Many of us think of the NRA as fearfully powerful fanatics, who are totally against any sort of controls in the manufacturing, selling, buying, and using guns. How did the NRA begin and evolve into what it is today?

WHEN WAS THE NRA FOUNDED.
In 1871, two civil war veterans -- a NY Times reporter, and a Union General who wanted to improve the shooting abilities of the average Union soldier -- got together to improve hunting and marksmanship.

WHAT DID THEY ENDORSE.
After the prohibition era, they backed our country's first gun laws. In 1934 and 1938 the National Firearms Act placed high taxes and restrictions on machine guns, sawed-off shotguns and silencers, prohibited felons from owning weapons, and required owners of guns to register. At that time, the NRA Vice President said, "I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons. I think it should be sharply restricted, and only under licenses."

HOW LONG DID THAT POSITION LAST.
After Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated JFK in 1963, the NRA backed the banning of mail-order sales. When the Black Panther Party marched, carrying shotguns and rifles, NRA supported legislation that prohibited "open carry" (carrying weapons in public places.) Ronald Reagan, (President at that time), said, "There's no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons." In 1968, after the assassinations of MLK and RFK, Congress passed the Gun Control Act of 1968, that imposed various restrictions, including shipping of guns across state lines.

WHEN DID THINGS CHANGE.
In 1968 the NRA blocked the formation of a national registry and law requiring gun owners to hold a license. In 1971, federal agents shot and paralyzed a longtime NRA member, Kenyon Ballew during a gun raid on his home. The night of May 21, 1977, called "The revolt at Cincinnati," the old guard was ousted, and the new Executive Vice President, Harlon Carter, who was serving time for killing a Mexican teenager, established the new approach: "No compromise, No gun legislation." That was when the NRA became so strong that that no politician would challenge it.

HOW DID IT BUILD ITS POWER.
The NRA began grading politicians. Those with better grades were given campaign money. When Senator Bob Dole complained, the NRA adopted the motto, "The Right of the People to Bear Arms Shall Not Be Infringed Upon," and got deeply into culture wars fueled by Waco-inspired conspiracy theories. Each piece of gun legislation drove NRA members to the ballot box.


By 2000, new NRA President, Charlton Heston was challenging Democratic  nominee, Al Gore, to pry Heston's gun "from my cold dead hands."

Gore lost the election. 
Fortune Magazine named the NRA most powerful lobbying group in Washington.

(I've loved actor Charlton Heston's work in many films. That he gave his heart and soul to this organization continues to pain me.)


WHAT ABOUT RECENT YEARS.
Led by current Executive Vice President, Wayne LaPierre, the NRA continues to be hugely influential. In 2013 after Sandy Hook shootings, the NRA, blocked congressional efforts to pass background check amendments.

CORPORATIONS ARE CONTROLLING EVERYTHING.
NRA bolsters its funds with million dollar donations from 22 different gun makers -- about $50 million last year -- also the NRA also makes $1 from every purchase. There are now 4 million members. The NRA portrays itself as protecting the freedom of individual gun owners, but it seems to be protecting the freedom of the gun industry to manufacture and sell every weapon accessory. Many members today, unmoved by the stories about the early leaders support for gun control, say, "That was then. Now is now."

Here are pictures of D.C. on March 24, 2018, the Students "March To Save Our Lives."


I say and chant, sing, shout and pray--"THAT WAS THEN.  NOW IS NOW."

Sunday, April 29, 2018

THE DOOMSDAY CLOCK

What is it? Where is it? What time is it according to the Doomsday clock?

Guys, it's 2 minutes to midnight. Midnight is the symbolic hour of the apocalypse.
Whoa, golly, there's so many seriously terrifying things happening that are harmful to the earth and mankind -- why do we need to know about this?

Maybe we don't.  Probably we do.

Back in 1947, the likelihood of a man-made global catas-trophe was investigated and publicized by a select group of globally recognized leaders, called the Science and Security Bulletin, (SASB). They put out a bulletin telling us it was 7 minutes to midnight.

The SASB guys -- each an impressively qualified, renown top expert with specific focus on nuclear risk, climate change, and the various emerging technologies -- provide the Bulletin with objective perspective on issues. They set the hands of the clock. While meeting regularly with their sub-committees, they author statements, and give advice at public events in broadcasting, and in media outlets.

Over the years, SASB has set the clock backward and forward 22 times. The smallest-ever number was 2 minutes to midnight in 1953 and now in 2018. The largest, safest time was 1991, when it was 17 minutes to midnight.

The members include Nobel Prize Winners, foremost authorities in cyber-security, nuclear policy and environmental science. Right now, alarmed by nuclear tensions in Korea, Iran, Syria using poison gas, and the unpredictability of our president, they are very worried.

The Boston Globe said, "They are overreacting," and reminds readers, "We are not closer than we were during the cold war when America and Soviets had tens of thousands of nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert. The clock is a public relations device, not a calculation of real world probabilities. It does no one service by exaggerating and over-simplifying the risks we are taking."

Verge.com., a technology news organization, publishes announcements, feature stories, product reviews, and podcasts that examine how technology changes the way we live. Praising the 2 minutes to midnight announcement, Verge said, "It's a gimmick we need -- it gets people talking about urgent issues facing humanity, whether it is rising oceans, killer robots, or nuclear destruction."

Atlantic.com says, "Good luck with that. It underscores just how numb Americans have gotten to the daily deluge of disturbing headlines from melting ice caps to Russians election hacking to ongoing military building in Korea. So when a board of experts tells them that catastrophe is at hand, they read the news and think, "Yep," then, they wonder, "What's for lunch?"

Guys, writing this, thinking about the clock is helping me adjust my heavy-duty, daily-nightly worrying because "2 minutes" gets people all the world worrying, including millions of American voters as well as the Dems and Repubs in Congress, and galvanizes big actions, as well as little actions like my posting these pictures.


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

(VIDEO) CRANKY LIKE OUR PARENTS

Em tells John Cullum he's getting to be a fussy-critical like his Dad, and everyday she's finds herself behaving like her Mom.

Wondering if  "Virge" (Eldridge Virginius Cullum, his dad) and Bertha Mermel Frankel (her mom), would like each other, joking around, they transform themselves into Virge and Bertha and act like their parents in a little scene.




Saturday, April 21, 2018

THE HAPPINESS REPORT

The U N, in it's annual "Happiness Report," said Finns are the happiest people in the world.  Norway is second, followed by Denmark. One-hundred and fifty-six countries are ranked, based on income, life expectancy, freedom, social support, trust, and generosity.
FINNS

The U.S., 16th last year, is now 18th. Why is it sinking? Anthropologists  and social psychologists tell us humans are social creatures -- much of our happiness flows from our connections to other people, our sense of community, and joint purpose. Right now, our trust government, the media, and various institutions  has plunged. These researchers say that our night and day hunt for money, security, and consumer goods dominates our lives, along with addictions to painkillers, unhealthy food and technology.

Finland, Norway, and Denmark have problems too, but according to researchers, what sets happier nations apart is the premium their culture places on time spent in nature and in harmonious intimate contact with friends.

It sounds plausible, but...well, sort of  Facebookish. I re-read recent articles in Time  and The Week Magazine on how to be happier  -- both boiled down to taking on more challenges, and making more money.

...Words, words ... like birds perch in my mind, till the wind blows, or a loud noise scares 'em away. Sure, you'll lose weight if you eat less -- no doubt about it, you can be happier if you do things that you haven't been doing, for good reasons...

What about you, and where you  live?

If you don't see your country here, click -- Wikipedia has the WORLD HAPPINESS REPORT.

Secretly privately, since what's happened in my country since the election, lays on on my world like large black cloud foretelling bad weather, I grab onto any bit of news that's fun or positive and borrowing the word  that one of the  happier countries uses  for cozy, high quality social social interactions.

H Y G G E

Maybe when summer finally arrives my husband and I will head for  Denmark and enjoy what's in the air there -- just pronouncing this word perks me up.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

POP SONGS MADE WITH AI

Yay technology! Elton John, partnering with AI, Artificial Intelligence, has been creating a robot Elton John that can go on tour after Elton himself is gone, performing his songs, as well as new hit songs which the Elton "bot" can write based on today news.


It's amazing, a bit scary. I wonder if Billy Joel, or Paul Simon, or Neil Diamond have thought about doing the same thing.

Digging into this, I learned that Spotify hired Artificial Intelligence scientist, Francoise Pachet, to run its new Creator Technology Research Lab, and with a group of other specialists, Pachet got software to write a song with instrumentation that mimics the Beatles. Using humans to create lyrics, they refined the AI arrangement and published, "Daddy's Car"



That no fees or royalties have to be paid has inspired Spotify and other major companies, as well as startups, to work on making hit songs with artificial intelligence. Even though software can't guarantee a hit, by partnering with AI many, many songs can be made. Hey, the Beatles recorded 237 original songs; Michael Jackson 137; in the amount of time it takes for Paul McCartney to press a few keys, AI can come up with a million songs and one of them can catch on, thrill us, knock us out.

IBM'S artificial intelligence "Genius" business machine, Watson, is now creating music. Using various other AI technologies, it's been collaborating with Alex da Kid, a well-known successful composer, performer, producer. They sucked up lyrics of more than 26,000 "Billboard Hot 100 Songs," analyzed the music to find patterns, keys, chord progressions, and come up with what IBM calls "emotional fingerprints," based on hot newspaper headlines, blockbuster film plots, blogs, tweets, even viral videos. Watson and Da Kid have created and published a hit, 'NOT EASY."

Having seen and heard this video, learning that already more than three million music lovers love it and say it brings tears to their eyes -- golly, I can't help thinking what the AI trend will mean to musicians playing Beethoven, Bach, Bartok, Vivaldi -- music I've worked with as dancer that's made me who and what I am today.

What do you think -- do you applaud the trend? Or do you, like me, feel a touch of sadness about what moves pop music audiences today -- things that somehow are mostly isolating you from today's kids as they're waving their arms, mouthing the words.

======

Friday, April 13, 2018

(VIDEO) WHAT MAKES JOHN CULLUM SWEAT

What kind of activity do you enjoy that makes you sweat? That's what Emily Frankel asks her husband, John Cullum.


Does, or doesn't John Cullum sweat, before it's time to go onstage, on an opening night?




Monday, April 9, 2018

CONTEMPLATING ROGER FEDERER

He shows us what we need to see.

We fell in love with his tennis-playing twenty years ago -- his grace, power, wonderful looks, and his gracious friendly manner. Even if you weren't a sports fan, you wanted him win. And he kept winning.

Then, as his age began to be mentioned with his name, we remembered other great tennis players, who disappeared as they got into their thirties.

Even so, he kept on amazing us.  He keeps on amazing us.


We see a winning spirit that we've never seen before in tennis. He works on tennis, improving his tennis game the way great painters, composers do, conquering faults, flaws, inadequacies -- fearlessly, bravely -- with determination, an undistractible, iron concentration.

Even so, he does not back off from furious shouting, or laughing and joking if he's winning or loosing a set or a point.

Or rejoicing, delighting when he wins.

We feel his sense of himself as an ordinary person, who loves tennis, who like us, lives a normal life,  loving and and caring for his family and his home.

This "regular guy" is truly an artist, and has become an inspiring, very real person who encourages us to keep going, keep working on our work, the way he does.

For me, there's no one in any of the theater, film, music, arts, or sports, that inspires me the way Roger Federer does, and encourages me to keep doing what I do, trying to do it better.


Thursday, April 5, 2018

LATEST NEW WORD

Words-words are a big thing in the Cullum family. Our son JD collected words the way kids collect marbles so we bought him this huge 1934 dictionary, and new dictionaries every few years.


In the latest Oxford Dictionary, the latest new word --"MANSPLAINING" -- expresses how a man explains something to someone, typically a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.

I certainly have had things mansplained to me, like how to charge a tire. It was helpful to have specifics and warnings about how much strength it took to do it. Recently, furnace technicians mansplained how, why, and when our building's furnace needs to be cleaned. Maybe I'll look up how to fix the loose banister between the our 4th floor and 3rd floor, and see out if it's something I could do by myself

Fact: I sometimes mansplain things. Even so, I don't like the condescension that's evidenced by the guys who make the decisions for the latest Oxford English Dictionary. I suspect the inclusion of mansplain has something to do with the ME TOO movement that's now, constantly, telling the world how the men have abused women for years.

Glass ceiling evidence about gender equality keeps piling up. Even so, I feel gender equality distracts from racial equality and we're still miles, years, away from racial equality. And I keep feeling that

we gals, with our enormous focus on looks, weight, size, styles of outer and underclothing, are constantly doing things that make us much less powerful than men.

Hey, maybe there needs to be a word added for female NINNY things.

Let's make the word a teasing put down that fits various typical foolishnesses and call it .......

WOMANINNYINGS.

Hey, it's a galsplaining gender equality word!
Yay for womaninnyings and graceful galsplaining, along with mainsplaining.

Thanks Oxford guys, for inspiring Em's two new words for the next new Oxford.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

(VIDEO) TIME OFF DOINGS

Everything--the work, the chores that the Cullums have been doing is done. There's nothing that needs to be worked on, prepared, no urgent plans, appointments, or schedule.


Emily Frankel asks her husband, John Cullum, what do you want to do?

Guess what John says...




Wednesday, March 28, 2018

ALMOST INCOMPREHENSIBLE MONEY THINGS

HOLY COW, right now click, glance, blink at the National Debt Clock.

Click any item and you'll see another clock with specifics that you can click to see a smaller clock with more specifics. Here's what the numbers were when I started writing this on February 8th.


The Clock is a billboard-sized display which constantly updates to show our current gross national debt and each American family's share of the debt. It's in NYC, on the western side of One Bryant Park, west of Sixth Avenue between 42nd and 43rd Streets.

(Except if you visit my hometown today, you won't see the sign. It's being moved to a fancier new building in that area. I never noticed it; money has never been my cup of tea, but it intrigues my husband, John Cullum whose Dad was hoping John would get into real estate and money lending instead of acting.)  Anyway, here's what I've gathered from various online sources.

WHY DOES OUR COUNTRY OWN SO MUCH?
The federal budget, every year since since 1970 has a deficit. Last year it was $666 billion. Experts say it will be $30 trillion by 2028. Janet Yellen (the retiring Federal Reserve chair) told Congress in November that the debt could become unsustainable -- "It's the type of thing that should keep people awake at night."

WHY IS THIS A PROBLEM
We pay interest on this debt. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is stopping Obama's post recession stimulus campaign, so interest rates will rise steadily in the coming years -- probably it will triple by 2027 when the Government will be spending more on interest payments than on national defense.

IS EVERYONE WORRIED.
No. (Gee, I am.) Economists say deficits and debts are mostly irrelevant. Since the government can print its own money it can pay or not pay off its debts. Other experts tout what's known as the "Modern Monetary Theory," explaining that inflation is the only thing standing in the way of the government printing and spending as much money as it wants.
                                                                                         
WHO OWNS THIS DEBT
About three-quarters is held by investors in treasury securities that are sold by the government to raise money. Some is coming from the government borrowing from trust funds like Social Security and Medicare, which means we (you and I) own most of the debt along with corporations, state and local governments and individual investors who hold treasury bonds in their retirement funds. Our biggest foreign creditor is China, (second biggest is Japan). If the U.S. damaged its credit rating it would be a seriously bad problem but currently "American Debt" is considered a one the world's safest asserts.

HAS THE US ALWAYS BEEN IN DEBT?
President Andrew Jackson briefly paid it off in 1835 with proceeds from land that the government stole which belonged to the Native American Indian tribes. The U.S has been in debt beginning with the cost of the Revolutionary War. The debt peaked in World War II days, sank afterwards. It's been rising since then -- peaked when government spent heavily to avoid economic collapse during young George W Bush's days with his $700 billion bank bailout, and again with Obama's $787 billion economic stimulus package.

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO PAY IT OFF.
Spending less and collecting more in taxes. But voters don't want spending cuts or tax increases, and politicians who want to be elected avoid them.

Dems and Repubs are inconsistent in their views on this. There's a lot of talk about Bill Clinton's debt and what it did to senior Bush's debt, and what his debt did to Bush junior, and what Obama did, but Repubs who now have both houses, embrace the deficits, arguing that their 1.5. trillion tax plan will pay for itself by generating economic grown, (even though economists say that's not realistic.)

Hey guys, even if what to do about the debt inconclusive, irrelevant, unrealistic and you, like me, can't picture  trillions -- you could wrap $1.00 bills around the Earth 81,258 times with the debt amount! If you lay $1.00 bills on top of each other they would make a pile almost $1.5 million high! That's equivalent to 5.93 -- six trips to the Moon!

Yow! In the time it took you to read this page what we owe has gone up, up, up, WOW -- here's the National Debt Clock NOW 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

GLORIA STEINEM ON "ME TOO"

Gloria Steinem's affect on our culture is huge.

These questions were asked by NY Times Journalist, Abigail Jones. Gloria Steinem's replies (somewhat cut down by me) reveal that nowadays Steinem doesn't push or sell what she personally stands for. In the 70's Steinem, a journalist herself, became the face of the woman's revolution, founding "Ms," a magazine by and for women, tackling domestic violence, reproductive rights, equal opportunity--all the issues that became known as women's lib. Now, at 83, no longer a revolu-tionary, Steinem's ready, willing, and able to advise us on how to handle what she considers the inevitable change that's happening, glad it's happening, as she tells us: "Be who and what you are."

HOW IS "ME TOO" DOING?
"I see a level of activism that I have never, ever seen. Wherever I go, I see people who weren't voting before and are now running for office, or who didn't know who their congressional representative was, and are now lining up outside their offices to lobby them. (She refers to President Trump awakening people, who were going about their lives without paying attention to the government.)

CAN YOU ELABORATE ON HOW TRUMP HELPED THE MOVEMENT?
"What once was an invisible experience without a phrase, sexual harassment, then was a phrase without a law, and then a law without a national conscious-ness, is now available truth telling, with some possibility of being believed for the first time. We're beginning to see the scope of a system of male dominance that's intertwined with race and class. We're beginning to see how much sex has been distorted by power."

HAS "ME TO" MADE YOU RETHINK YOUR OWN PAST EXPERIENCES WITH MEN?
"I'm remembering when I was 30, sitting on a couch in an office with a (male) acquaintance. The acquaintance reached across and took hold of my wrist to kiss me. I bit him on the cheek drawing blood. I didn't think about it! I'm not suggesting this was a virtue on my part. I still had my instincts. It made me realize to please, to be obedient, to not make trouble hadn't been cultured out of me. We have instincts like my cat. My cat will not put up with anything because she has never had that instinct oppressed out of her."

HOW CAN WE ENCOURAGE THAT INSTINCT IN YOUNG PEOPLE?
"We are most likely to encourage it in girls and boys by listening to them--what are they interested in--what do they like to do? That's how we know they're worth listening to. Encourage them to do it on their own. Not help too much. Provide a community of support. In some ways girls have become dependent because they are not allowed to be independent. It's partly just saying "You like to do that? Do it!"

 WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED THAT'S CHANGED YOUR OWN BEHAVIOR?
"At a minimum, you can model the behavior you want to strengthen by not shouting and yelling. I do think that we, as women, trying to please, need to be aware of the problem sometimes. When presented with 500 people ready to do something, and 100 people say no, women will try to persuade the 100 rather than move forward with the 400. Sometimes I can hear myself saying "You don't agree with me? Let me explain it to you  again." Instead, say, "Thank you very much," and move on to something positive.

WHAT'S YOUR BEST ADVICE FOR YOUNG WOMEN, POLITICAL AND OTHERWISE?
"Don't listen to me, listen to yourself. What do you love to do so much that you forget what time it is when you are doing it? Find support for that. Find other people who will know how to do it better, that you can learn from. Don't worry about the shoulds. Get up in the morning and do what you can."

Guys, friends who are reading this, if you want to see the uncut full version of what she said, click Newsweek Article.

I have to say I love Gloria Steinem's tone, and the down-to-earth, marvelously practical advice she's giving us.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

(VIDEO) WHATTA DAY!!!

Would you want to change places, and be John Cullum and Emily Frankel in front of a camera making a video?


After a nightmarish morning with many interruptions about things that urgently need fixing, the Cullums find themselves unable to figure out what to discuss.

Friday, March 16, 2018

LIFE LESSON FROM JOE THE SHOELACE GUY

When I put on my sneakers, yank and tug extra hard on the laces, I think of Joe Busby. My latest new pair of sneakers arrived with laces that were way too long.


Click --
visit what I found on the Internet 



I bought two pairs of strong, correct length laces for $1.26 + $3.00 for shipping. I emailed my thanks to the company, asking, "Who's the owner? How do you guys break even?"

Somebody replied immediately in an email, and said:
      "Joe Busby was a manager for ten years, buying and selling. traveling a lot  for Honeywell in Dayton. When he moved to Cincinnati, he started the shoe lace business. He and his wife wanted to raise a family.  Her full time job involved her traveling as well,. Honeywell, headquartered in Morristown, New Jersey, produces thermostats, security systems, and turbo-chargers for vehicles. He selected shoe laces because it allowed him to create a niche-market for himself where he could  make them and sell them from his home."

Hey, Joe Busby -- I am a blogger, writing short essays -- creating them and promoting them on Twitter and Facebook so that they'll be read. Having written six novels that are selling, (not very well) on Amazon, observing that people are reading less and "blogging" with their photos, expressing their ideas with  "likes" -- it doesn't make sense for me to devote myself to writing a new novel. It takes a year or so, to write a novel -- you can create a post for a blog in five to eight hours.

So I strain my brain every day, figuring out what to blog about... I wonder if Joe Busby felt what I feel -- somewhat frustrated, purposeless, when he was working for Honeywell.

Oh boy, I could write a book about all the things nobody told me about growing older -- like white socks. Years ago, I laughed because my mother, even in the summer wore white socks when she retired for the night. Mom didn't tell me, nobody ever mentioned the leg cramps that we get (my husband gets them too) if we don't wear socks.

Hey, right now, wow, today, right this minute, I could start a non-fiction seventh book -- a big-fat-ever-expanding narration about stuff that nobody warned me about-- fun to research it-- get folks to share what's bugging them and sell it-- like Busby-- 2 cents + postage. Yay yay -- that oughta keep me creatively percolating, for a year or two or ten.

Hey, yay yay yay -- friends, pals, followers, that's my blog today!!







Monday, March 12, 2018

ORWELLIAN EYES WATCHING YOU

"Orwellian" things unnerve me. It means a situation, idea, or societal condition that author George Orwell identified as being destructive to the welfare of a free and open society.

I dug into Week Magazine's article, "Orwell Comes to China." China's 1.4 billion people are going to be given social credit scores that rate their trust-worthiness and place in society. The government is working to push citizens toward good behavior. It's already been done in 30 cities.

Similar to FICO (U.S credit-score company), China is taking into account the good things and bad things you do -- do you pay your bills on time, take care of your parents, how you use your phone apps -- are you calling taxis, ordering food, scheduling doc appointments, restaurant reservations, do you give to charity, do you sell things that are tainted, have you ever run a red light?

In China, everything you do, search for, or buy, is on a phone app that everyone uses to pay for goods or services. They spend $5.5 trillion in China compared to our $112 billion. Beijing, (the government) can find out if you criticize the government, along with who you are trying to meet on a dating app. Anything suspicious, odd, or inconsistent, gets flagged. "Good" citizens with high ratings get access to things like travel visas and a good school for their kids. "Bad" low rated people lose access to bank loans, government jobs, and can't even rent a car.

Beijing plans to get this program everywhere by 2020. The technology utilizes the facial recognition that is currently used to unlock doors, and the smile-to-pay app that restaurants use, and will feed information on you into a current government surveillance program called "Sharp Eyes," which utilizes the security cameras that are already everywhere, and encourages neighbors to inform on one another. Your score will include school report cards, college marks, applications for jobs, and who you socialize with. All this private information is now harvested by the E-commerce giant Alibaba,  also known as Alipay, who is evolving the future government system, "Sesame Credit."

Is this Orwellian, or Big Brotherish, or Hitlarian?
I'm thinking of what's happening on social media. On Facebook there are quite often messages reminding  you to celebrate the day you met a "friend" whose name you may not recognize, and ads telling you to boost your post on News Feed for $5 -- a post reaches just 25 friends ever since Facebook cut down everyone's News Feed. On Twitter, with the President tweeting, there are now kinder rules enabling you to use more than 40 words, and say good morning, or have a happy Monday, to your "followers."

Won't nicer, more parental social media inspire/infect Republicans, who are doing Orwellian-Big Brotherish-Hitlarian deeds, to protect our country?

My eyes are open big.

Guys, open your eyes!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

(VIDEO) CUTTING THE MUSTARD

Can you do what you used to do, and do it well--do it as brilliantly now as you did a few years ago?


The discussion gets John Cullum and Em revealing some realistic concerns, joking around, as well as singing.



Sunday, March 4, 2018

THE AMAZING STEVE MARTIN


Steve Martin at 48 said, "They smell 50 in this town." Now he's 72, doing more than ever even though he's "over the hill."

The "HILL?" Yep! When you have a career, you are on your way up a hill. If you get to the top, it's a level plateau. You can stay there for awhile even though you still need to keep climbing a bit, to stay where you are. At some point, though it feels the same, the going up is going down.

This guy -- comedian, writer, playwright, producer, banjo player, pianist, dancer, composer, juggler, winner of Emmy, Grammy, American Comedy, and "Lifetime Achievement" awards -- singing, dancing, joking -- is always surprising us with new and unexpectedly current things.

Okay, Steve Martin is not hosting the Academy Awards this year but maybe he'll be in another play on Broadway -- well, probably not -- Broadway needs hot names and Steve Martin is not hot. Yes, he has fans, fame, he's a name throughout the world, but he's busy doing something off beat in some odd or unusual place where no star has ever appeared before.

Right now he's touring, playing the banjo, reaching a whole different kind of audience in the music world. Why? Because that's what he's in the mood to do. The video below reminds us of the amazingly many, MANY very different things he's been passionately involved with.

Golly, I love what this guy does. I want there to be more Steven Martin, more plays, films, shows, albums, books, DVD's -- he's more richly inventive now than ever before. I invariably find myself laughing with him and at him because his attitude toward the realities and UN realities of life in America fits me, expresses what I feel.

Yes, I love Steve Martin.

Here's an amazing video that will remind you of many projects that you've seen or heard about, and reveals a great deal about the real man that I didn't know which inspires my exclaiming WHAT A GUY!




Wednesday, February 28, 2018

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MESSAGE FOR MY SON


Dear JD, I wrote this for myself before my last birthday because I didn't like being a year older, and I wasn't sure what project to do next.

Since March 1 is your birthday, and the show you were in just closed, you'll be thinking about your career as an actor -- what to do next -- stay in LA, move to NYC, work on a one-man show, or maybe teach. When pressure is on you to do something -- start something new, finish an unfinished project, make a decision, confront an issue -- if you do not start/ finish/ decide/ confront/ -- you are immobilized.

JD, there are two you's -- Grownup-You, and Child-You.

Grownup-Em has coped, handled, negotiated, avoided, confronted, and accomplished many things -- Child-Em has fears, impractical dreams, and expectations -- often feels unsure, not very capable, wants to sleep, or watch a dumb TV show -- but sooner or later Grownup-Em tells Child-Em what to do, or not do, and calms the child self by pointing the child in a direction.

Jd, if you chat with the Child-You patiently, logically, lovingly, the child feels safer, and can even handle scary things. The Grownup-You knows how to organize disorder into an orderly sequence of activities, like....
One, two, button my shoe.
Three, four, close the door,
Five, six, pick up sticks.
Seven, eight, close the gate.
NINE -- you're fine!
Ten is not the "big fat hen,"
It's just the end of a sequence.

Jd, tell the child in you it's okay, and
Help the child push worries away and
Banish, make vanish all the fears --
And strongly advocate "no tears!"

The balm is being calm.
It helps the two you's
Unwind, and re-find
Peace of mind.

Jd, that's my happy birthday message.
Care for, support, love your child parentally.
Parent the Child-You.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

(VIDEO) CLASSIC FILM STARS JOHN CULLUM LOVES

Emily knows this is a favorite topic for her husband, John Cullum.


Dreaming of being in films since he was very young, John enjoys naming the names, and explaining why these famous stars continue to delight and inspire him.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

WHY WE'RE WORRYING ABOUT UFOs

The headline in the NY Times scared a lot of people. In December, two pilots, (Navy Fighter Jet pilots), saw a cigar shaped object that moved strangely -- not like any known aircraft. They sent this video to the head guys at the Pentagon.


Our government has been investigating the possibility that aliens have visited the earth: Between 2008 and 2011, the Pentagon spent $22 million in a secret program that examined reports of flying objects -- unexplained sightings by pilots of aircraft that moved at what appeared to be incredibly high speeds with abrupt changes of direction and no visible signs of propulsion. The Times article also said the government had constructed specially modified buildings to house mysterious "alloys," (mixtures of metals) recovered from UFOs.

Wondering about that cigar-shaped object, I came across a photo from a California naval base, and a photo of UFOs rotating, not moving ahead, just rotating.


Jeff Wise, in NY Magazine.com, responding to the N.Y. Times article, said, "The hyped video about the cigar shaped object is too fuzzy to make out anything. Since 1940 we've been seeing unidentified objects in the skies. As for the storage shed, did scientists test the alloys. and determine the metals were not of earthly origin? The newspaper creates a sense of mystery with its questions, but leaves the questions unanswered. These techniques are great for exciting an audience but prove nothing."

Professor Michio Kaku, head of the theoretical physics department at City College of New York and CUNY Graduate Center, creator of award-winning documentaries, an authority on this subject, published this commentary on what the two pilots saw.

Summary of the situation by Luis Elizondo, former head of the Pentagon's UFO department.







Guys, the Washington Post said:  "It's surprising how little attention this story got. The idea of an alien invasion has not broken through the Trump bubble.  Like the solar eclipse of last summer, the hunt for extra terrestrial life reminds us that we are just a small part of an inconceivably large universe. In this year of petty partisanship and all-consuming chaos. that's something of a comfort."

I'm not comforted. Two distinguished, foremost authorities said "It could be aliens." (also) "We are probably not alone." I am wondering what can we do, what should we do about the aliens?