Saturday, August 29, 2009


Who is on the friends list in my heart?

When I was eight, I embroidered a sampler "TRUE FRIENDSHIPS ARE ETERNAL"
Eternal seemed to be connected to people who believed in Heaven, and the God they worshiped in church. But like my heroine, Cordelia (see "Somebody Book I" Installment A, page 32 ), I didn't have a church to go to.

My daddy's dictionary said eternal meant lasting or existing forever, but nothing did that -- not food, plants, pets, or people -- my grandparents, my favorite uncle, and a boy in my class had died -- they were gone forever.

So who are my friends? What about my pals with whom I had a great rapport, when we were working on a show -- my assistants, or dancers I employed? They are in my memory, mostly affectionately, but not in my heart.

My Malibu friend, my Seattle friend -- I still correspond with them. We chat in our e-mails. I enjoy keeping track of them and they keep track of me. It's long distance love, but they are definitely on the list in my heart.

And Doro, Fran, Sue, Bethy -- with whom I work with now, they're on the list! I need them -- I turn to them -- I love to hear from them, and when I do I am totally involved with the moments we're sharing. In my mind and heart, in some way every day, I connect with them.

Okay, Why am I writing this? I think I'm discussing this to explain to myself, why I don't want to get together with the couple who were our best friends for many years.

When JC was in "Northern Exposure," they came to Seattle when we were performing "Shattering Panes" at a fringe theater on weekends. After the show, at the Top of the Needle, during the dinner I'd arranged for the four of us, they said nothing about the show.

Nothing ...? It was very strange. They'd just seen my play -- I'm sure they knew I'd worked on it for umpteen years. Did they hate it? Is that why it wasn't brought up?

The dinner seemed interminable. During their jokes, and recollections about our weekends together on Fire Island, talk about the leg she'd broken when they'd skied in the Alps ... (It was the same time my back was broken in a car crash )... Hey. whoa, why wasn't that mentioned? Why wasn't a single word said about my play?

Well ... I haven't seen them since then.

They phone whenever they see an announcement about JC opening in a new play. I greet them sweetly, and transfer them to JC's line. He arranges tickets for them, and murmurs something about his busy schedule -- he knows I don't want to socialize with them.

Or socialize with my Vancouver producer friend: Two weeks ago I heard from her. She needed a phone number. I emailed it, and told her, in a very honest, matter-of- fact way -- "Eight months ago I wrote you about my Website, and sent you a link -- so did you visit it? Why haven't I heard from you about my work?"

And that question, and my not socializing, has spread to other friends in the arts and show biz, whom I emailed about my Website -- people who call quite often, chat about their work and want my opinion or encouragement, but don't get around to asking me about my work.

(Time for "shh-shh" reality -- when you're married to a legendary Broadway Star like JC, even if you're a well-known dancer with plenty of artistic credits, your friends are much more interested in his career than yours. Of course my play, or my latest new project doesn't thrill them or really concern them.)

Geemininny -- why don't I just maintain the friendships?

I don't want to. My work is me. I need friends who know who I am. I don't want to hang out with people who aren't interested in what I'm doing. Right now I'm digging into myself daily as a writer, trying to say what I really think and feel about things -- that's my work. That's what's important to me.

Friday, August 28, 2009


Dr. Em's prescription: Read this to yourself out loud:

If you've waked up grumpy, anxious, and blue --
With something vaguely nagging, gnawing at you --
Avoid "Mirror mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of us all!"

Got an appointment?
A meeting? Important things on the docket?
Shove your mood into a temporary pocket --
If you must put on makeup, do it quickly, not thickly!
Don't check what you've checked before -- remember less is more.
Don't review the lines, a crinkle, a droop, or a wrinkle.

"Mirror mirror on the wall ..." It can put a pall on all your plans ...

Sure, glance at your reflection, but don't seek perfection.
Just do your day the regular way.

Ah, mirror mirror looking glass --
A female-girl-lady-woman can be such a ass!
I worried about my looks the very first time I saw a pimple!
And blackheads ... yow ...that was scary!
I saw that old women over twenty, had fat dimples --
I hated that! Resolved to be wary, and never ever
get thighs that were fat!

So here's my advice :
After one quick look in the mirror --
Making sure mascara isn't spotty, outfit's clean, no lint, or loose hairs --
Don't stare or pout or be a goose -- just go out.

And pay attention to any subject that's mentioned, and laugh. Look around like an elegant giraffe at all the other girls, and it's done --you've won. You caught the day half-way and turned it around, found a way to say BOO to the glassine you.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Bandler played his drums in the morning. He played them anytime he felt like it during the day. His favorite time for playing was late at night. Ordinary neighborly complaints affected him NOT AT ALL.

This guy is in my gallery of people who inspire me to devastate them with words, shoot darts at them, forever beware of. (I've mentioned him before, in my 3/21 post, the "Go Spirit.") Before we bought this building, Bandler occupied this floor where we have our offices and our studio theater.

I'd phoned. I put a "please don't play after 11 p.m." note on his door. I complained to the landlord, who liked us and wanted to help us. He called Bandler. The noise continued.

Bandler usually practiced on his drums for about 45 minutes. He'd take a break, then play for another 45 minutes. Then, there was no noise for an unpredictable while -- a midday break for an hour, a few hours -- then the drums started again.

I tried vacuuming. We had a noisy Electrolux, the type with a tube on sliders. I vacuumed my wooden studio floor that was above his living room -- vacuumed back and forth dragging the tube like a recalcitrant puppy, so that it created a noise on Bandler's ceiling. Then I stood the tube up on the end from which the machine's noise emanated most strongly, and let the machine run.

It didn't seem to bother Bandler. I pounded on the floor. I did it with a shoe. Then I pounded with a heavy duty hammer. Day after day, I vacuumed, dragged the puppy, left the machine on, pounded, stamped my foot, kneeled on the floor and yelled STOP THE NOISE, and wept.

One day, returning home from class around noon, I saw Bandler at the window. He had a shotgun. He was pointing it downwards toward the street below, aiming it at people walking on the street, same as I was. Was it a game? His lips were moving ... was he saying "bang bang?"'

I saw him at the window the next day -- lunchtime seemed to be his time for playing whatever horrible game he was playing.

He never knew that I was the one who called the police. The police came. Two days later, Bandler moved.

A major noise problem developed when Stafford Recording studio rented a loft space on the 3rd floor of the building next to ours.

Oh no! Oh yes -- Stafford worked odd hours; walls of his insulated sound studio rested against my wall with the wooden barre I hold onto when I exercise. Oh sure -- there was brick in between, but oh my -- his clients -- vocal artists, bass players, horn players, and of course drummers. Lots of rhythmic noise invaded my studio.

I hired a contractor who insulated my wall with a layer of pink insulation material, and plaster-board, then another layer -- two layers were what were recommended. I had three layers installed. And still ...

I did a dreadful, revengeful, ridiculous, ineffective, nonsensical, truly foolish thing.

I put four loudspeakers on the ledge outside my rear window that focused on Stafford's studio wall. Using my theater amplifiers, (sound equipment that could fill a large theater) I played Mahler's "Fifth Symphony" at top volume.

While it was playing, JC, more than a block away on Fifth Avenue, heard the Mahler's Fifth resonating.

No comment,, or response from Stafford, just a response JC who said, "Don't do that again, Em. We have to solve this another way."

We hired a lawyer. Our lawyer, Stafford's lawyer and the three of us met. No solution evolved. When he worked, I couldn't work. and I had no ability to control his schedule.

John suggested we hire Stafford record the sound effects for my play, "People in Show Biz Make Long Goodbyes." Stafford did a good job. And that kept me at the Orpheum theater, out of my studio for nine weeks.

Stafford sold his studio. The buyer turned it into a party room and if he gave parties, we never heard a sound. (Three layers of insulation took care of it.)

Even now, when a car drives by with its radio playing, the rhythm bothers me. I'm not able to think, work, dance, or do domestic chores while someone's invading my space. Once they drive on, I'm okay.

Yes, I'm damaged goods. If someone parks on our street and listens to their radio ... I pop in my Flents foam ear plus -- I've got sixteen boxes -- 25 pairs per box -- sitting on my shelf.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


(Gee, how can I write this post today, without mentioning people with names who'd absolutely hate being mentioned at this point in their lives?)

It's true, in our younger days, we were a very pretty, good-looking, lovey-dovey couple and ... well ...

Playing around as you probably know, became a pre-Jet-Set, post Jet-Set fad of sorts. It's current now, if you're into what's current NOW.

We kept getting offers for foursomes, threesomes, change-your-partner "fun and games." But we were sort of naive, and didn't get it (or behaved as if we didn't get it) when the offers were made, from agents, producers, other name actors, male and female.

In our younger days, there were whispers, rumors, details about various friends, various producer pals playing around, experimenting. Some on drugs? Others into AC DC sex, (that was the term for bi-sexuality). And other weird-sounding things.

There were new drugs, potions, usually clear, sweetened, alcohol-containing liquids with flavoring, and sometimes active medicinal ingredients. HGH, human growth hormone was "IN." With one American turning 50 every 7.6 seconds, HRT, hormone replacement therapy, was a booming business, along with plastic surgery. And yams -- it was the favorite fad food -- everyone gobbled yams.

And it wasn't just producers and directors. I remember our visiting a very major name agent and her very major name "friend" -- being offered drinks, and odd conversation about ...

I'm not sure what it was about. While chatting about marvelous starring roles in some shows that were being created but didn't yet exist, and name-dropping BIG names of performers we knew who'd spent the weekend in the Hamptons with them ... well, maybe it was the martinis, but I had a feeling we, not just JC, both of us were being offered something, but as I said, neither of us were sure what.

Promising to call, we bumped our way out.

We didn't call, but a very dear actor-actress couple called, and after a fancy dinner at Elaine's, when we told them about the name agent and her name friend, they came home with us to see my renovations which had been written up in a magazine.

I'd bought a pool table with a red felt top. Playing pool in our red pool room, sipping cognac, there was interesting conversation ... more than interesting. It was a fascinating exchange of dangling sentences, metaphors, about games, her favorite, his favorite -- no specifics, but private parts, were alluded to ... I think.

While the four of us were exchanging the pool sticks, cues, taking turns shooting the cue ball, the black ball, quoting Shakespeare and Henry Miller, our friends were lyrically, poetically taking us around the world, Without referring to the Kama Sutra, we learned what they loved to do, and how they DID IT.

With a lot of body English, aiming, bangering the balls (the guys said, "don't banger the balls" when if we hit them too hard), and sipping cognac, playing the game ... well, there was a definite but smoky vague suggestion that changing partners was the game to be played.

How did the evening end?

(I couldn't imagine playing any games with him, and while she was definitely imagining the game with JC, he wasn't shocked, or responsive -- JC was tipsy, on the verge of being seriously bombed.)

It was very late. After another round of drinks, and our dog Teechi using his papers in the pantry, they remembered that their two terriers needed a walk. So it wasn't hard to ease into good nights and show biz loving hugs, and they left with our instructions about which corner of our street was best for flagging down a taxi.

Sometime later, we had a dinner with him after his divorce, and met his new wife. (His ex-wife got a role in a television show and faded away when the show faded away.) His new wife doesn't like me. I'm not sure why, but we don't see them very often, so it doesn't really matter.

Older and wiser from our two experiences, though we love the gossip and rumors about some of our current famous friends, we definitely don't get into situations were playing around is an option.

And that's that -- we don't play around.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


What is the most powerful, moving, moment I EVER saw, and hold tight to my heart, and brain?

JC in "Shenandoah," singing "Meditation.

Where does it come from, the beam that comes from him? The gestures he did ...

Actually they were my staging based on knowing him, his hands, his grace, and our communication -- if I say "do this," he tries it and does it -- if he says "do this, Em" I think NO (I don't like to be told what to do), but I try, and usually end up doing it.)

Anyway, it wasn't his gestures, it was him, his stance, his singing and playing of the role. Critics praised him, and he won a Tony for playing Charlie Anderson in "Shenandoah."

So why am I, his wife, heaping these compliments, praises onto him? Because we were tidying our offices, arranging the CD's in alphabetical order on a new shelf. Because playing the "Meditation," the whole song, or just the ending of it brings me joy!

In "Shenandoah," playing the part of the southern farmer with a large family, a wife, and land that he loved, JC was magnificent. The man he actually is, became Charlie Anderson, and Charlie Anderson was John Cullum.

At this moment, he's across the hall ... that voice, that amazing man who doesn't think of himself as a singer ... I'm enthralled like a brand new fan when he sings ... There he is, puttering, dusting things in his office twenty feet away from me -- plumber, electrician, food shopper, handyman who just a while ago repaired the barre in my studio -- gee, how did I manage to land this guy?

Instead of playing "Shenandoah" again, here's a bit of him in his first starring role on Broadway, Lerner and Lowe's hit musical, singing the title song "On a Clear Day."

Monday, August 24, 2009


She wasn't there last year. Suddenly, click -- she giving us news that interests us. Even now, when I'm sick and tired of hearing the same old things on all the channels -- Health Care, Trillion dollar spending, the latest percentages of who is supporting what -- Rachel Maddow says it in a fresh way.

And her angle on what's scary, what's hopeful -- it's unpredictable, maybe it's her tone or her choice of words. What she's saying doesn't seem to be just another version of what everyone else is saying, doing -- selling us, telling us over and over, until we're nodding, saying the words with them.

Dammit, the news is infecting, affecting the news. If CBS headlines the side effect from the cervical cancer inoculation, you can bet your bottom dollar that all the networks will be scaring mothers of teenage girls. And weather -- look out folks, the hurricane's heading our way -- and schools closing -- don't panic folks, but H1N1's already a pandemic!

And the daily clips of anti-Obama protesters -- THAT scares me. It's doubling, tripling the shouts, turning anger, ignorance, confusion into a wildfire.

Anyhow, for a week, I've been shying away from all the news shows, migrating to old movies. But last night JC got home at two a.m. from shooting a new "Law & Order Special 'Victims" episode. Maddow was re-broadcasting. While I stirred the grits, (JC's favorite bedtime snack) we listened -- her cool, calm, concise presentation of the day's events helped us unwind.

I did a speed-read research on her. What stuck -- Oxford Doctor of Philosophy degree, 36, California born, first openly gay anchor hired to host a prime-time news program in the U.S.-- unmarried, though she could be married -- she and her partner live in Massachusetts as well as Manhattan.

I glanced at her awards -- was surprised to learn she isn't an Obama supporter -- she doesn't own a TV set, but plans to get one so her partner can see her show -- was amused to learn in high school she described herself as a cross between "the jock" and "the antisocial girl."

Yay for Maddow! I like the way she describes herself as a "national security liberal." and "not a partisan;" like that fact that she objects to being typecast, that she's writing a book on the role of the military in postwar American politics

Okay ... All that stuff is impressive, but why I like her, I suspect, boils down to the way she looks.

I like her hair -- her minimal makeup, no eye shadow or visible liner around her eyes -- her neat but unimportant, not chic, or noticeable outfits.

I like that we aren't getting shots of her various curves -- she seems real, not what a makeup artist, manager, and producer have created.

Are you aware, like I am, that most of the women on TV news are more than averagely nice-looking?

(With their eye-shadow, liner, great eyelashes, their sprayed, perfect hairdos, their faddish fancy jewelry, fashionable, appropriately revealing clothes, to me they seem like cultured orchids, schooled in all the broadcasting techniques, cum laude graduates from the "Female Commentator School.")

I like R.M. because everything about her says ordinary grownup, educated, clear-speaking, clear-thinking PERSON -- not male or female -- she's a person I can trust.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


The roof leaked. Water poured into the hall as if it were being poured from a tea pot.

<------Here's the ceiling, the corner that leaked. The black area is the unlighted steps to the roof. The hanging stuff -- plastic flowers, a wooden butterfly mobile, door chimes from our cabin in Malibu -- it's what I'd put up to divert the eye from the bumpy looking plaster in the corner, where there was a leak two years ago. --------->

Look and chuckle -- Em's decorating is usually "hide the flaws" with art work. (Two pictures show you why you wouldn't hire me to fix the trouble spots in your home.)

I get an idea and just DO IT! All the years of running a dance company, never having enough money for sets, props, and costumes have turned me into a good scrounger. I know how to make something bought for another purpose function in new, interesting way.

Okay -- the roof was fixed, re-roofed by Ishmail. We couldn't check the finished job till the paint was dry. Checking, we found three places that need to be re-done. JC is plumber, electrician, surveyor of things like windows, door locks, and radiators. I'm the guy who negotiates with the workmen as well as tenants.

So I had to tell Ishmail to repaint and fix (and not charge us). Also, I needed to tell our janitor Phil, a trained, skilled superintendent, that he was scratching the walls when he was taking the trash downstairs, and suggest he slide the trash down the stairs.

Back, back in time, when I took my company to London, took myself out of all leading roles except dancing Juliet, in "Romeo and Juliet," I realized that I needed to be a stronger director. Easier said than done -- I found it tricky to tell dancers (who were my age), what they are doing wrong, technically as well as dramatically.

In my makeup for Juliet (and a robe), I sat in the back of the theater each night, and whispered notes into a tape recorder. At night, after the show, I transcribed the notes into a notebook. The next day gave the notes. NO tactful re-wording -- I just gave the notes, forced myself to say everything that I'd whispered to myself.

I practiced doing it. And that's what I do now.

Yes, I still dread giving orders. But I gave orders to Ishmail and Phil.

What's the big deal this lady is making, over being a boss? Why is it difficult for me? Inbred female something-or-other? Something Grandma handed down to Mom and Mom handed down to me? (Probably.)

Whatever the reason, the flaw is serious. In writing a novel, in landlady-ing, and blogging. The same Em who fixes a leak with the "hide the flaw" artistry, commands herself to say what's on her mind -- no fudging, no hiding. Sometimes I stall a little, with an oops, eek, yikes, oh dear... but I re-fix what I write till it rings true in my own ears.