Saturday, April 24, 2010


We had fun, reading that Liz is having fun, with "marriage" again.

Here's a photo of the actual gift.

The frame is heavy, thick, solid silver.
What struck us what the engraved word "Lovc."
It seems like a command to "love Elizabeth."

Friday, April 23, 2010


Is it enough? In Malta, this past Sunday, the Pope had tears in his eyes. He spoke to each of eight men who, as children, had been abused by priests.

The Pope has met with other groups of men who were abused as children. During his trip to the United States in April 2008, he met with five victims of sexual abuse, and with five other victims, in July 2008, in Australia.

Two of the victims who met Benedict XVI in 2008, recently announced plans to stage a large gathering of victims in St. Peter's Square in Rome in October of this year. calling it a "Day of Reform" to demand the Vatican adopt tough new policies on abuse.

Why is all this suddenly in the headlines?

A scandal, that started more than fifteen years ago erupted gain on Sunday April 10th at a church in Oakland, California. When Pope XV! was a Cardinal, he covered up the rape of a boy, and other abuse crimes of Stephen Kisele, a priest who continued as a priest, and later abused a seven-year-old girl. Protesters and the girl, now in her thirties, have demanded, "The Catholic church needs to stop living with blinders on. The Pope needs to step down. He was the accomplice to crimes.”

There was no response from the Pope this past Sunday in Malta, and a tepid response from the Vatican, saying they would issue new guidelines.

New abuse guideline were released by the Vatican. They instruct Bishops to report to civil authorities "what needs to be reported" -- to follow "civil law concerning reporting of crimes to the appropriate authorities."


Other priests who abused children have been assigned to other jobs and are still working -- some at other locations, others are working at the Vatican -- notably, Cardinal Law, who covered up abuse crimes in Massachusetts, who did what Cardinal Ratzinger did, before he became Pope Benedict XV!.

And just last week in England, the Catholic Church decided not to unfrock a priest who abused deaf boys. The priest who admitted indecently assaulting deaf boys at a school in Yorkshire, has been allowed to remain as a cleric.

Letting the priest remain as a cleric is wrong. I'm not a Catholic, but I have to say what I see and feel. All the priests who have abused kids should be defrocked, and no longer be allowed to function within the Church.

Tears in the Pope's eyes do not take away the fact that he has not admitted, or atoned for his own wrong behavior. He, like Cardinal Law, who still works at the Vatican, has helped pedophiles hide their crimes, and continue functioning as priests.

"Morality" is the principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior. The Church gives us a system of values, and moral principles.

I don't belong to any church. But the Pope is The POPE. The World looks to him, all of us look to him, listen to him. He sets the standards for morality.

Do we forgive him, he knows not what he does?

It seems to me that there two choices: Bury the shame, knowing that certain heinous crimes against innocent citizens are private business or are not crimes if they are committed by priests and excused by popes.

Or ... Challenge Ratzinger -- Catholics can rise up and say he's not longer fit to be their Supreme Leader!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Joel Stein, 29-year-old Los Angeles Times columnist, and contributor to Time Magazine, wrote a tongue-in-cheek essay on the two days he spent, when he disconnected his connections.

Wow, I thought, immediately wondering how I'd feel if I disconnected my connections. Basically they're my computers, TV, land-line phones, cells, and intercom that connects me to the downstairs front door and whoever wants to see us or talk to us.

I wouldn't miss anything except my computers. I need them to work, and working, is like breathing to me.

Stein un-plugged Internet, TV., iPods, GPS (his auto's global positioning system), and immediately became aware of his compulsions --he kept wanting to check his email, and be twittering, Facebooking throughout the day . When his 24 hours were over, he thanked God for technology, and swore he'd never voluntarily disconnect again. Twitter, Facebook and his GPS were what he missed the most.

Admitting that he needed response to his emails, texts, and calls right away, he ended his essay with a funny, equivocal remark -- "That's why I need to become a much, much bigger celebrity. So for now, my priority is spending all my time on Facebook and Twitter."

That was a yikes, a moan, from me. I need to be a bigger celebrity and get more readers for Em's Talkery. I don't see Facebook or Twitter in my future. I enrolled in Facebook under a fake name, fake high school because I don't want to communicate with people I went to High School with, or their friends. I've already gotten two responses from people who claim they remember and love "Harriet" (the fake name, fake person.)

I opened a Twitter account to see what was involved. Okay, 140 characters per tweet -- 30 or 40 words. After the first step was done, I was told to fill in email addresses for friends. I had 6 names to put down. And realized if each of my 6 names had 6 friends, then I'd be sending 36 updates/tweets throughout the day, and hearing from 36 people. If the 36 each had 6 friends .that would be 216 -- then 1296.

Gee, maybe in a few months it could be 7776 people with whom I'd be in touch on a daily basis. And then, 46, 656 -- then 279, 936 -- and wow, 1,679 616! But why would they want to follow what I do in the course of a day?

Ugg-eek-ick-yuck! Was that why Fran, my blog coach and best friend said Tweeting was a waste of time? Was that the "fame" that Joel Stein meant?

Does Sarah Palin's twittering reach 2 million, 5 million tweeters? Is she writing little tweets -- about what? -- little nothings throughout the day?

No! No! The world, the mainland I was seeing when I looked out that web-world window -- all the Joel Stein pals texting, emailing, iPhoning mobile-ing -- the mainland was getting small, smaller and smaller, farther and farther away. Was I drifting out to sea, out into the blue-gray, then gray blank space?

Oops! I'm remembering what I wrote yesterday about disappearing ink, "Tiger Texting" -- my feeling that many people in the world were strangers doing wrong things -- and me, with my different point of view about communicating ... I do feel out in space.

That's where, apparently, I'm heading.

Well, it's spacious. I haven't disconnected anything. I can think, and write as much as I want.

Thanks for what you wrote Joel Stein.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


It's a new App, and I keep track of Apps, not for my iPhone, iPad, Android or Mobile something-or-other. Apps keep me in touch with what people are doing in a world I'm not living in.

"Tiger Text" is like disappearing ink. You can send text, and it will disappear after a short time, which you determine.

"You could "Tiger Text" a lover, and the message, when the time you've set elapses -- one minute to five days -- the message is gone from your phone and your lover's phone.

Tiger Text is on my XXX list.

That it is named "Tiger Text" is sad and destructive. We have a young man who with the help of a loving father, became a hero -- for all races, very young kids, and adolescents, and older people. Tiger Woods conquered a sport through hard work -- devotion -- mastering technique-- focusing mind and body on an extraordinarily high level.

Whom else do we have like Tiger Woods? The story behind his training -- who his father was, and his mother -- is a story we don't know. Tiger could have been imitating what he saw as a child, in his own family.

Many, many people are still attacking him, focusing on his sex life.

He's tried to redeem himself -- that sad, ineffectual public apology, his energetic participation in the Masters -- his full-out, remarkable attempt to play golf, and continue his life as a champion, and hero -- what more do people want from him -- what further punishment does his "sinful," behavior require?

Calling the App "Tiger Text" may help the creators sell a not-great product, but other names would work. Instead, they have locked in Tiger Wood's mistakes, given it an amusing name that will continue to hurt Tiger's re-joining the world. The name forever attaches an ugly negative to a man who is trying to survive, play golf, hold onto his children, even if he can't fix, or restore what he and his wife shared.

Will the makers change the name? Probably not. Will people buy the App? They will.

I think this is like the electric chair. Killing a man who did wrong, in a cruel way. "Tiger Text" is over-kill. We may lose an extraordinarily gifted, talented hero.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


"The Male Brain," by Dr. Leeann Brizendine, is in the news, more than likely, because of what she said about men's need for "other" women.

It's a favorite topic, since the day after Thanksgiving when Tiger Woods crashed his car. And hotter, since Sandra Bullock's husband's infidelities burst into the news. Girls whom Tiger or Mr. Sandra Bullock may have played around with become headline grabbers, by telling their stories.

One of the reviews about "The Male Brain" that caught my eye was from Vaginadentata, com. (The not-charming Website name means "vagina with teeth.")

The review said: "So, men eh? Always thinking about sex, leer at women, lie, can’t communicate, fall asleep after sex – you’re all the same and it’s hardwired into your brain ... This book looks like the perfect example of how lazy, boring, gender-stereotyping harms men as well as women ... Brizendine already targeted women in ‘The Female Brain‘ back in 2006, where she wrongly claimed that women use an average of 20,000 words a day, compared with only 7,000 for men ... and had to remove this fact from the paperback version of the books."

The reviewer said she hasn't read either book and doesn't intend to, and I feel the same way.

Male versus female brain reminds me of the days when I thought about inventing a male pseudonym for myself as a writer. I felt that "female author" suggested subjective, emotional, romantic prose and plot. "Male " implied abstract, objective, intellectual.

For instance, "Music composer" -- Beethoven, Bach, Bartok instantly came to mind, but "female composer" -- I couldn't name one. (Actually, I can't even think of one as I write this sentence.)

And painters ... plenty of men's names were on the tip of my tongue. The only woman I'd heard of was Georgia O'Keeffe. Novelists were easy, but my first venture as a writer was as a playwright.

There was Loraine Hansberry, Lillian Hellman, Wendy Wasserstein and Enid Bagnold, but they weren't as well-known as Shakespeare, or Tennessee Williams, and Arthur Miller.

Yes, I definitely had "gender" prejudice -- fewer women then men made it as artists, so I invented a man's name, and typed it on the title page of my first play.

From various reviews and excerpts that quote Dr. Leeann Brizendine, I've gleaned she has gender prejudice -- words she uses, some of her observations seem to belong to my mother's generation -- what I think of as "the old-fashioned days," before Women's Lib.

(Now that I'm older and wiser, I know that much of my adolescent rebellion was my rejecting what Mom thought I ought to be, and my mother's words were an echo of what she learned from her mother, back in the old, old-fashioned days.)

So I became a Woman's Libber (before the seventies), before there actually was a woman' s liberation movement. (I danced, wrote plays and novels, had lovers and husbands, even supported my husband before he got famous, had a baby and kept performing, touring the world.) I did what I wanted to do, ignoring guilt and parental advice. And anything that told me "no, you can't do it," I tried to do, and mostly did it.

I think that is what's going on now -- the younger generation, males and females, are throwing out "Women's liberation" stuff -- it's OLD, old, old-fashioned to them.

Brizendine's ideas about the male brain versus the female brain, her observations and evaluation of fidelity, infidelity, the pursuit of sex, the need for other partners, the need for commitment -- women of my generation, and the next, the reviewers, (vagenadentas, and literary guys) will be interested to read, and pooh-pooh, or praise Brizendine's theories.

But I think the up-and-coming younger generation is much too busy. Hot sex, infidelity, abstinence, sexual addition -- all of it is in the air. And it's interesting, fascinating, dangerous and new -- trying it, taking it on -- part of their rebellion, while they're finding out what they want to be and do in the world, and they're not sure -- nobody's sure where the world is heading.

Monday, April 19, 2010


The Pope is not taking a stand, or making any statement, or taking any action with regard to Stephen Kiesle, a former priest-pedofile, who was finally defrocked after years, many delays by Cardinal Ratzinger, before he became Pope Benedict XVI.

Kiesle, charged with 13 counts of child molestation, pleaded no contest to a felony charge of molesting a young girl in 1995, was sentenced to 6 years in jail. Today, as a registered sex offender, Stephen Kiesle lives in Walnut Creek, California.

Fran, my blog coach, and closest friend, said, "It make my blood boil." She sent me a links to Andrew Sullivan, an award-winning blogger, who is boiling over about Pope Benedict's involvement in the Catholic Church avoiding the problem, not taking action in this case for 26 years.

Molestation, rape of children makes my blood boil. What the Pope did is bad and wrong, but I mostly shrug it off. My boiling point has to do with what's happening with Barack Obama, working to get the world to limit the production of nuclear weapons. That's a life and death issue that's threatening my life.

The Catholic Church, the Pope, and Catholics who believe in him, and Fran who is an ex-Catholic -- she's a woman with strong religious, moral beliefs, and my other friends and relatives who have deep religious beliefs, are fortunate ... actually I mean "lucky"-- to have their churches, preachers, leaders and beliefs to sustain them.

My husband, John Cullum, played Cardinal Law in "'SIN." (JC was nominated for the Drama Desk "Best Actor in a Play" award for his portrayal of the guilty Cardinal). Back in the days when John Paul II was the Pope, Cardinal Law was in the same position as Pope Benedict XVI, (Cardinal Ratzinger), is in now.

Of course I was moved. "SIN" is a powerful play. The SIN that's happening now with a Pope (who didn't seem to me to be the right choice when he was voted in by the committee of Cardinals in Rome, in 2005), doesn't shock or surprise me. It was politics in the church.

The ugly. painful politics of today, Obama's efforts to fix life and death problems here, and inhumanity in Africa, China, Israel, Pakistan ... the list goes on and on. For me, it overwhelms the sin and sinfulness in the Vatican.

What actually can Pope Benedict do, for the warped, injured, perhaps permanently, emotionally-crippled adults, who were abused by priests? Maybe there will be new laws, new policy, other ways of stopping them.

Sin -- "an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law" -- is a glorious man-made concept . Nuclear weapons, invented by mankind, can destroy everything that is glorious on earth.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


It's remarkable -- the Visible Vote app -- one more thing you can do at your convenience -- no standing in line, waiting for your turn. It's one more advantage that Blackberriers have.

You can vote, make comments, tell legislators how you feel about an issue, and learn how they're voting. And of course, with this app, on your Blackberry, (or iPhone, Android, or any device with Window 7), you can share your politics with your Facebook Friends.

It's malarkey, as far as I'm concerned.

I'm from the dark ages when communicating was not done with a device.

I am not impressed, thrilled, excited, challenged, tempted, or even vaguely tempted to get a Blackberry, or an iPhone, Android, or any of the advanced mobile devices. I'm not interested in communicating with the Board of Elections, or drugstores, supermarkets, department store, travel agencies, restaurants, post offices, maps, or my friends and professional acquaintances, in this super-fast, in-tune-with-the-times, current, mobile way.

For me, it would be stifling, limiting, not expanding my mind, or my abilities. I'd just be one more of the millions who have dived into the WEB spun by spiders, inked by octopuses, caught in their tentacles, engulfed in the current that whooshes me, and a million-billion other human specs to ... where?

I don't want to be in the stream, glug-glugging along.

l prefer to stand on the shore by myself, and watch the specs bobbling, floating, swimming along with the tide, and say "hi" to the cleanup-repair folks (going to work, earning a living), who can't afford much of anything mobile, except shoe leather.