Saturday, May 23, 2009


It was uncomfortably suspenseful, watching the final show of the season the other night. I hadn't been following this year's American Idol auditions, and didn't know the who's who. I hadn't planned to see it, but having written a post that ordered me to "Drink In the Kids," I had to watch the show.

One look, even before I heard them, I knew the competitors, Adam and Kris, were miles, worlds apart. You can't compare an Elvis Presley to a ... a Pete Seeger? A Crosby?

(Can't come up a right name -- I'm no longer hung-over from two hours of drinking in the kids as I was the other night, but thinking about it puts in a haze, gives me a mild case of celebrity-itis.)

The "Stars" who performed with the contestants, except for Steve Martin, were barely known by me. And Martin, his genius reaching for a new kind of fame in the idolizing Idol generation, behaved so modestly, so shyly that he almost disappeared.

The choreography, pacing, programming were utterly expert. Something about being so, so utterly bothered me. It isn't hard to create easy, interesting steps for non-dancers, who are willing to work their asses off. And all the show's contestants, Adam and Kris, plus those who'd been eliminated, were hot and ready to do anything. (As they're weeded out in the previous shows, you get the feeling they'd jump through fiery hoops, die, kill for a win!)

The "Star Power," the "names" who were invited to perform with the contestants -- it worked for the Idol audience, but I didn't really know who they were. So, even as I was waiting, a little bored and restlessly wondering who was going to win, producer-Em peeked at the clock, which tells you how many minutes till the winner will be announced.

Okay, time to get to what I felt about what's been all over the news since the show aired.

The girl in the bikini singing with Kara the judge, who shocked, surprised, and delighted everyone with -- zip -- just one gesture on the last note of their duet, and Kara's bikini underwear was in front of our eyes.

Will we ever forget Janet Jackson's accident during the super bowl -- zip -- one gesture -- J.J's nipple? (Yoo hoo, folks -- any seamstress can tell you that one gesture takes careful placement and just the right kind of stitches on the Velcro.)

I was embarrassed for Kara being so utterly yucky proud of herself. As for the other judges -- Paula Abdul, always in the groove, was groovishly approving. Simon just blinked . It wasn't his night, though he's good fun, blunt and truthful as the main man in other Idols I've watched.

I was riveted throughout the duet between Allison and Cyndi Lauper in white tights, legs apart like a guy -- riveted on Cyndi's white-covered crotch below the keyboard that lay across her lap.

I looked at ... how many reviews, commentaries, comments? Easily two dozen! No one mentioned that crotch view of Cyndi. (Did I get the name wrong? No. I checked it thoroughly -- don't want to appear fixated on wrong views of private parts.)

Real opinion: I found the show exhaustively over-produced. But skillful, an absorbing two hour extravaganza. Whenever I've tuned in American Idol auditions -- the achingly needy candidates with whom I identify -- their wanting, needing, practicing, praying, slaving away -- all that to be famous, all those heartbreaking rejections -- it's always fascinating, absorbing.

Why did the country boy Kris win? He has a pleasant powerful voice, good diction, believable dramatic intensity, but no hugely impressive or unusual songster's talents. Why did the powerful performer, startlingly great-looking Adam lose? Get less votes, despite all of his abilities, which were much stronger than the country boy Kris'?

Was it that America is in the mood for someone less slick?

Adam is slick. Could it be the homosexual feeling that flickered, briefly when Adam was off-guard, caught in a couple of candid shots? Maybe. But I, as hirer, an employer who's seen lots of handsome guys with this AC-DC flicker ... I don't think so.

I hope it's that our country is in the mood for someone less slick. Kris is slightly boring. The polished bravura of Adam is more of what we expect in a super star. He can sing, dance, sell anything.

My bet: We're going to hear and see more of Adam Lambert.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Got to watch the younger generation, observe the trends, listen to them, hold off thinking No ! They're wrong!

When my Mom started disappearing from her friends, I knew it. She had good reasons ... Marion G was constantly asking Mom how old she was, zooming in closer and closer, and Mom didn't want M.G or any of her friends to know her age.

Then, it was what Mom read and didn't read. She'd never been been much of a newspaper reader. But Time Magazines piled up, unread. She didn't know the names of the newest latest appliances, cars, movie stars, or sports heroes.

She thought all popular music was noise, but Blues, Boogie, Rock and Roll meant nothing to her, when they had so much meaning to me.

Mom tuned out. Finally, in the last years of her life, she didn't answer the phone, or bother with the People Magazine, which I was sure would interest her. The embroidery things I brought her just sat on the table by her bed.

Hey Em, this is something to pay attention to. Never forget. Hand on to JD and anyone else you meet in the younger, (always younger) generations. Don't tune out.

Hear what they're listening to. Make an effort to catch onto the slang. Don't cringe at the verbal shortcuts -- you don't have to use them, but you need to hear and feel where they're heading. Pay attention to their latest style. (Do styles really change? It seems to me they just ebb and flow, return like waves from a thousand miles, a thousand days ago.)

I see myself disappearing like Mom did. Turning off from things that seem, at first ridiculous, later, ludicrous, later nonsensical, stupid, repulsive. Stop it! Turn back on! Reappear! Laugh at their ridiculous vulgarnesses ... (Is that a word? Hey, Em, you your made up words are ridiculous to them.

Grab onto history: Cars and planes were unimaginable. Trips to the moon are real. Clothes that seemed like SciFi, may be the clothes you'd see, if you came back for a visit, after your life was over.

Can't you think your negatives privately? Don't burden the kids with your older generational icks, yikes. Feel what you feel but say it here -- find a remedy while you're expressing yourself in your blog.

Don't disapprove.

Find beauty in what's awkward or ugly. Try on their "wrong" clothes and see yourself freer, nicer, more interesting to them. Let yourself imagine your way into the nightmarish, congested, deafening partying,

Disappearing is WRONG. It's slowly, but surely hurrying you to the end of your life, a time when you have no choices.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Why is the periscope on Nancy?
Torpedoes pointing at her?
Why is Nancy P the target today ?

Pelosi's been graceful, calm, gracious, kind, unemotional, a woman in power who doesn't use her femininity to achieve anything, gain ground, win points, put down men -- does nothing except give us a sense of the woman-wife-mother, and leader.

Yow! I'm not a follower, just one me traipsing down my own road but ... RAT TAT TAT, bullets are flying -- can't I duck, run for cover?

No! I can't! Keep hearing/seeing over and over the punish Pelosi stuff about stuff that happened years ago. It's demoralizing me, wasting my time, her time, House of Reps time -- putting off meetings, implementing the bills we are waiting for, while our O, the omniscient, omnipotent guy is barging forward, not back, but way beyond what was said and done about torture.

Thank you Media. H1N1's got us hand-washing, staying home, and "Flip-flopping." All of us flip-flopping, slipping in the slush, losing momentum, except O who's pulling-pushing a ton of remedies despite the tornados, the heat crises here, there, everywhere.

While Nancy's trying to stay on her feet.

N.P's graciously, gracefully trying to find dates, reports on old conversations in order to extricate herself and the huge organization she represents, from blame. For what? Blame for knowing WHEN she was told WHAT, or IF she was told something, even though her knowing or not knowing wouldn't have affected the outcome.

Help! It's Alice in Wonderland stuff: Repubs want a new name for Dems with "socialist" in it? Vanity Fair exposing Rumsfield's sins? Romney's handsome face back in the news huckstering 2012 ?

Ulp, gulp. It's not mother' milk. It's un-swallowable. 100 proof pure Jabberwocky

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


My paintings live in odd places. The doctor who saved JD's life when he was born has one. My trainer in Malibu has one. My mother had two, but after she left the world, her nurse sent them back to me. A psychotherapist whom I consulted when I was crippled has one. I gave one I love to Bethy, who handles our accounts. One is propped against my light, which hangs over this desk, and lights up my keyboard.

Acrylics, layered on like oils, blues, reds, pinks, purples. a swirl of stars like tiny flowers, my vision of a galaxy -- it's leaning against the desk lamp like a bulletin board. I've clipped onto it a typed list of the posts on my blog, Fran/ Sue/JD phone and fax numbers, passwords, set up data, and Earthlink case numbers.

I keep thinking it's time to buy a clipboard, or an easel, but I just clip on more papers. Continue ignoring out-of-date notes taped here and there, on my large, curved, beige Exxon desk, into which my green velvet desk chair (on wheels) is pulled. So I sit a proper distance from my 24 inch monitor and keyboard. With the computer diagonally to my right like a bird's wing, hovering above the surge protector into which everything is plugged. Except the router, which sits on an old mahogany desk (like the desk chair) that JC scrounged, carried upstairs from the street, along with shelves and wastebaskets, that once upon a time belonged to an office of someone who's gone out of business.

Get the picture? I was going to describe my paintings, not my office, but like the paintings, it's like a stage set, every piece, every part expressing, representing a thought, a choice.

Similarly, the hallways. They're the gallery for my paintings -- large, medium, and small New York cityscapes. I enjoy details, daubing in, layering on, doing fine lines, doing with painting what I do when I'm on the phone with a pencil in my hand. I draw intricate flowers, stems, branching into more stems, dividing into thinner ones that turn into twigs, each with a leaf or two, each leaf, with a spine from which capillaries extend to its scalloped edges. The cityscapes were inspired by a photo of the city that I saw in a magazine -- an infinity of buildings above which other buildings hover, behind which smaller buildings peep, all of them with windows. My goodness, sometime I ought to count how many windows. Squares, rectangles, some with oval arches are minutely, delicately calligraphed in the largest cityscape in the hall outside our theater -- it's the city in shades of orange, reds, and gold leaf lacquer, a 3 foot by 5 foot canvas.

Meticulous, ridiculous ! There goes the rhymer in me, rhyming words for the fun of it as I sidle up to describing my clowns. The doorway of JD's room has a door-size girl clown, a portrait of me done in oils; with felt, montage style giving me a moo-cow's fake eyelashes. Next to the front door there's an 8 x 4 foot clown on it (JC) -- oils, colored glass buttons, and sequins from an old costume. I did the clowns when JD was a toddler, so that when we were in and out of town, the life-size clowns were Mommy and Daddy, always present.

Once, when I was painting a lot, because I was between tours (had no new choreography projects in mind, and writing was daily logs about what to do), a friend brought a gallery owner over from Boston. He studied them, all of them, and said, after hemming and hawing ... "Uh well, they might um ... sell ... but ... "

But he never explained more. Want to buy a fascinating painting? JC in the other room was given, by Paramount pictures, a Canon camera and color printer. (He did a big part "Charlotte's Web" from which he was completely cut.) I told JC that it would be nice to have a picture of my galaxy clipboard ... maybe, one of these days we'll do a blog exhibit.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


I sigh, and look down at my motionless hands on the keyboard, not wanting to explain why I'm stretching too much. Dr. Em is telling me, "C'mon, the pain in your knee, the pain in your back means STOP. But I'm not going to stop.

We've been sold the idea, from the pain killer purveyors (manufacturers, as well as drug stores), and doctors (who are, themselves, out of shape and aging), that we're older, stiffer, less capable in hundreds of small ways, but it's natural/normal, and okay to feel better with a pill or two. Thanks but no thanks! Pills are a temporary solution.

About a year-and-a-half ago, I was frantically finishing a version of my big book about Cordelia (with its chameleon titles), and agent A. who "loved" it, suddenly wanted an e-mail version of the 800 page manuscript.

I use Word Perfect, not Microsoft Word. The processes are different. It meant I had to fix 22 elements, fonts, line spacing, margins, headers (and proof read the manuscript again). Did it in three days, during which I ate snacks in my office, didn't do any of my exercise routines, took naps on the cot in the studio. Agent A got the e-mail manuscript; and I got -- well, I resumed my usual warm ups, and tried to do my dance -- the aches I got were incapacitating.

Since then, inch by inch, stretch by stretch, I've been pushing myself back to where I was. What happened? Three days off hurt me? Burning the candle at both ends hurt me? I don't know what did it. But same as the 22 elements that had to be fixed in word processing, there's a whole lot of fixing I've had to do.

No, I didn't go to the Doc. I know more about my muscles, ligaments, bones than any doctor I'd consult; I've seen the X-rays. I knew from the symptoms, and a recent blood test that there was nothing to be learned from more X-rays or a blood test. When rotators (turn-out muscles), feet, knees, spine at my waist hurt (the L1, L2 area that's been fused), I work "away" from the pain. Continue dancing, working out, but use other muscles.

Want to know more? Look up "dancing" in the list of labels on the right. I've described various aches and pains and how I cure them. It's not boring to read, but boring do. It's taken months to get back strengths that I lost. Instead of straining, struggling, I change my warm-ups, and change the choreography of the daily dance I do to Ralph Vaughn William's "Fantasia."

Here's where I'm at: Whether it is the slipperiness of the floor, or my lessening technique, no longer can I do double pirouettes reliably. Privately deciding to hell with it, sometimes I do a double; sometimes l don't. Dr. Em has told me, and I'm obeying. I've restored a sequence of "second position" plie stretches, am doing four split stretches on the mat -- am once again doing the grim, painful, turn-out stretches I did when I first began studying dance. Masochistic beginner stretches I eliminated because they're too damn painful, and I could do splits.

Not anymore. Not since those three days.

Yes, yes -- I am pushing myself. And every day I feel it more in the groin, knees, hips. But I'm stretching to see if I can get back to what I was doing a year and a half ago. I won't keep doing it forever. If it isn't possible, I'll adjust. I have to. Yes, ouch! I'm fighting age -- aren't we all -- but I'm doing it, very -- ouch -- realistically!

Monday, May 18, 2009


Seeing "Farrah's Story" on television ... her fight, her struggle ... we were, for a while ... waiting, hoping she'd be cured.

We cheered her, enjoyed the Peeping Tom aspects of the camera work, and peeped at visions of her home, her habits, the glossing over of cancer of the anus. Was it mentioned, or wasn't it? We were hearing so much about a grim cancer of the liver.

Her hair do, famous hair, was the tousled look of it now just the current style, or was it, wasn't it less abundant? Watching the hair, remembering it in a previous scene as we saw the next scene, next phase of her treatment, it was a relief when she bravely shaved it. On tenterhooks we needed that glimpse of her hair, the cap, the blond strands on her forehead. Our eyes, our emotions were focused on that for the next few minutes, next frames, next shots, till we saw blond hair, longer, more of it coming out from her cap.

Indefatigable efforts ... the cost ... All the things she tried, she did, she endured trying to beat the liver cancer. Were you wondering, (I was wondering), cringing a little, waiting to hear if her anal cancer was treated. Or was it cured?.

Her son... A story unto itself, untold except for a few sentences about probation. Wasn't there a reference to him wearing leg chains? Was Ryan O'Neal his father? When did they dissolve their relationship, and why -- from what over-indulgence has handsome Ryan O'Neal become almost unrecognizably puffy, dissolute?

The glimpses of the three "Charlie's Angels" One of them untouched by time. The other older, wiser, somehow damaged by the way her life is unfolding ... It distracted from the question building in our minds -- why insist on returning HOME when trusted doctors say the plane trip endangered her and the healing process?

We did, do admire her for fighting, finding humor... but ...

As doctors gave her bad news -- not cured, cancer cells developing elsewhere -- caught in the theater of the suspenseful plot unfolding, I wanted it to be over. The show ... her life ... My mind was talking to me, interrupting the scene ... "When was this made?" "Is she still alive?" "How will this show end?"

At 10: 44 checking the clock during the commercial, knowing there would be at least two more scenes, I yearned for the story to be over.

Did you sleep well, last night? I didn't. I thought wryly of all the phone calls doctors were going to get, questions they couldn't answer, and would need to avoid.

The show left me feeling sad for Farrah, sad for me, sad for any and all of who know that the elements that create energy, zest, powerful decisive actions are strengthened by NOT dealing with death as a destiny.

Lack of sleep makes me wonder if my logic is slipping. I think, based on my experience with illness, when you're fighting to feel better, trying to heal, you close the door on the fears of failure. Isn't that what Farrah's story was saying?

No. It showed her fighting while she's dying. The dying was stronger, the winner, at the end of the drama. I was left with dying.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


JC's family is a vine -- that's what I said to myself, the day I met them.

(I was nervous, wanting them to like me, wanting to like them, and have like become love. But I was divorced, and from an agnostic Jewish family, who didn't bring me up with any religion. That's a story to tell when you know me better, when you're used to the way I think-talk-write.)

I felt his family was a vine many times. Like yesterday. His niece called when JC was at the theater performing. She told me what she was planning to tell "Uncle Johnny." The way she says his name ... lovingly, reverently ... She sings it, knowing he's there for her, even if she's called when she couldn't reach him.

The vine, the Uncle Johnny part of it, rambles this way and that way, weaves around the other cousins, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, spouses. Attaches itself to other families, who by marriage have annexed themselves and grown into another twist, another curving tendril climbing, winding, intertwining with other vines in the state of Tennessee, the Carolinas, creeping along, sending offshoots to the Virginas, and the deep south.

My dictionary says -- "vine: inert vegetation whose stem requires support, which climbs by tendril or twining, or creeps along the ground." The image stays with me as the vine, over the years, has gotten denser, tangled, sprawling, surrounding JC. Not me. Just JC. Not JD. It's a pang, remembering JD as a teenager, trying to become part of the family, realizing he couldn't, discovering he couldn't be himself if he let himself be overgrown by them.

I've heard young members in the family talking about seeing the world, and becoming a different person in a different place. Seen them not go. Just settle into the whorl, their place on the vine. Yes. I've seen new leaves, new tendrils dormant, unable to escape or separate or move away from the roots. And yes, JC did escape, and separate. He's the only one in the family that I know of who has. (JC says there are few others who have , but I never met them.)

It's a powerful moralistic ideal JC has in him, bred into him. He's a part of the family that has never been dormant, quiescent or caught by the twirls and whirls of this ever larger green growing vine.

Why does make me glad to be a tree on separate ground, with roots twining off in other directions ? Despite the cousins and their offspring who can't get away, the vine is still a marvelous thing, especially because something so green and strong and powerful as JC is a part of it. Maybe that's all the vine needs, a JC growing toward the sun.