Saturday, June 5, 2010


John Cullum and I are reminiscing on this video .....
My darling husband wrote a poem for me after I'd returned to dancing, a month after giving birth to our son, Jd. I'd decided to create a forty-five minute solo to Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" ......

A 45 minute solo is a BIG LONG solo. JC was worried about the length. I overheard him telling Shakespeare-director-pal, Phil Lawrence, who gave me dramatic ideas for the seasons, every so often, "I'm not sure Em can cut the mustard."

A dance solo should be 5 to 10 minutes at most, according to Doris Humphrey, a famous Modern Dancer and teacher of choreography, and Louis Horst, Martha Graham's artistic adviser. But tackling a BIG LONG solo is sort of a typical "Em thing" (biting off more than I can chew).

About the poem: JC had written poems as taped introductions to various dance drama "ballets" that were in my Dance Drama Company"s repertoire. These poems are not improvisations, or "rhymey" rhymes, though I've got to say, JC loves rhymes, and works his a - - off, to get a right, mellifluous word.

Well, here's the poem, not his voice on tape that I've heard every time I have performed my "Four Seasons" (and I did most definitely cut the mustard). I love John's voice, but I couldn't copy the taped poem onto this video.

Friday, June 4, 2010


She was articulate, sharp, smart, responsive --
King's questions were scripted, mechanical, ho-hum --
Gaga, somehow, always surprises me -- with Larry King, she simply had an honest conversation-- she seems twenty years older-- wiser, than her age.

When the show ended, our dinner guest who was watching the show with us, commented -- "Gee, why was Lady Gaga wearing those sunglasses?"

That sort of sums up what her ever-enlarging, ever-more adoring audience sees and feels when Gaga's doing her thing -- any one of her numbers, one of her hit musical essays, or the new "Alejandro." They see/feel what she's wearing/not wearing, loving/hating, announcing/denying, adoring/destroying.

The dichotomy is IT.

She told us, the audience, unequivocally -- breaking the sound barrier, morality barriers, bending and stretching, and turning boundaries inside-out and upside down -- THAT'S WHAT I DO, Lady Gaga said.

Ah ... we do have a Queen, who can handle the King who's no longer a king, and replace a Madonna who has mostly worn-out (with her inventive sexual doings), the shock value of herself.

Gaga -- you were -- with your simple, direct, un-theatrical, revelations about your art -- a revelation. We had just a glimpse of the real YOU, and that's enough.

The fantasy-maker, "Lady Gaga" takes me to places I've never visited. She's the Queen I want to bow to, give my nod, and keep visiting.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


I saw her just the other night in a television show -- I don't know what show or which channel -- it was very late -- she and another woman were mixing cookie dough.

Joan grabbed a huge handful and patted it into a extra large cookie. The hostess who was telling them about ingredients, asked Joan to show her the cookie.

Joan came out from behind the table ... Good God -- she had nothing covering her butt. Two large, pretty -- pretty darn big buttocks were before our eyes ... Shocked, I gasped. I gulped and started laughing with the raucous guffaws from the studio audience until I realized ... it was not her butt -- she had a realistic pair of buns strapped onto her backside.

Oh my goodness gracious, Joan Rivers -- there is no one who has the nerve to do, what you do, sometimes.

Can we talk -- let's talk about the one and only, uniquely ballsy, outrageous, forever-young, aging Joan!

Star, comic, TV hostess, actress, saleslady. Late Show anchor, writer, fund-raiser, mother, wife/widow -- she's been in films, Broadway plays, shared the spotlight with famous and infamous fellow celebrities, and manufactured and sold jewelry, cosmetics, and women's fashions.

Does the younger generation know who she is? What about the younger, the youngest generation? Do kids growing up now know her name and what she's done?

She isn't a guru, or someone you'd professionally ask for advice. But she has practical, sensible, logical, strong opinions about life, health, love, sex, morality, pets, housework, clothes, and other celebrities that she bluntly, blithely proffers.

This woman is fearlessly opinionated. And she's there, focused on you. Even though she's in a studio miles away, she connects with you.

She is, for me, an example of "woman" -- fascinating, courageous -- the kind of woman I don't have the nerve to be.

I remember Joan Rivers tearing up toilet paper and laughing, making sassy, amusing comments, decorating everything around her on the television studio set, draping scallops of toilet paper everywhere -- letting her employer (NBC, and Johnny Carson) know she didn't like them, love them, bow to them, cater to them and accept the fact that she'd been fired.

What a reaction! I loved her nerve, her tone, and what she was saying with her actions.

I remember Joan Rivers on a one-night special -- I'm not sure what year. (It was after Carson fired her, after her daytime show was canceled, after we'd seen her with her daughter, and heard about her husband's suicide.)

Rivers was in a black glittering dress, cosmetically improved by a face-lift or was it was just her eyes? I don't remember specifics.. I just remember that she was funny, great-looking, ballsy, marvelous, as she described preparing for a big day for tomorrow, and pantomimed laying out her clothes. She pantomimed wriggling out of her under-wear, and then sniffed her panties.

Sniffed them? Yes! And I was shocked. Wow! Did America notice? Sure. Was it mentioned in the reviews? No. It wasn't anywhere.

No doubt about it -- the ballsy, outrageous, forever young-looking, great-looking, Joan Rivers inspired me -- continues to inspire me to be what I am, more so, and un-afraid.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Obama has proposed this 50-year-old woman for the soon- to-be empty seat on the Supreme Court.

The photographs -- eyes, smile, sheen on her skin, her overall shape -- these things say happy person, sense of humor, motherly, overweight, warm, friendly, Jewish.

She's never been married. What about those pictures of her playing soft ball -- boyish outfit -- intensely focused, enjoying the game? Media guys have murmured, "Does she have a roommate, a special friend?"

Has the President chosen an educated-Jewish-Lesbian? She's big-time educated, Princeton, Oxford and Harvard Law School -- if you want to be somebody in the government or politics, those are THE schools. And Kagan has been professor of Chicago University Law, counsel and policy adviser for President Clinton, Dean of Harvard Law School.

What I read about her childhood tells me that young Elena had courage, an aggressive mind, and she wasn't willing to conform, unless she understood why.

That she had an Orthodox Jewish "bat mitzvah" resonates. Boys have a "bar mitvah" around puberty. They read from the Torah (sacred writings), say a prayer, and are then permitted to sit with the men in the synagogue. (Females are not allowed to touch the Torah, and they sit in a side area, outside the main room.) So, young Elena was feeling her way into a religion that does not treat men and women as equals.

I could be describing a period in my own life, when I joined the Orthodox Temple, and was stunned to realize I'd be "inferior." I quit, looked briefly at other temples, and turned my back on religion.

Anyhow, today Elena Kagan says that she identifies with Conservative Judiasm.

EK has held down many important jobs, and made many judicial decisions -- all thoroughly detailed in Wikipedia, the Internet's free, online encyclopedia.

I understand that people want to know what she has supported, voted for, or against, and whether she is a liberal -- more liberal than Obama -- less liberal -- should the ultra "left" liberals be worried? And, (I suspect this is the biggest question)-- is she a "LESBIAN?"

Stop-stop, is what I'm saying! This is time-wasting, nit-picking, dumb! Peering into her bedroom, anyone's bedroom is becoming a national tell all, confess, shock your friends, go ahead, get your kicks, let's peekaboo STUPID HABIT.

We don't need a spokeswoman, saleslady, mother, wife, bosom friend, or someone to love. We need a Judge for the Supreme Court!

My dictionary says: " Judge -- a public officer appointed to decide cases in a law court, a person who decides the results of a competition, a person able or qualified to give an opinion. To judge means to form an opinion about, hand down a verdict in a law court."

Elena Kagan, an outstanding , experienced lawyer, and judge who knows the law, laws, and legal history, fills the bill. She IS what we need.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Wow, is all I really need to say.

Justin Bieber is neat, boyishly perfect, with a sweet-sounding young voice, a Michael J falsetto, that tenderly croons, and belts out --

"My first love broke my heart for the first time,
And I was like
Baby, baby, baby ohhh
Like baby, baby, baby noo
Like baby, baby, baby ohh
I thought you'd always be mine mine."

I suspect that we'll be hearing from him, AND hearing about him for years and years.

It's a show business fairytale -- the story of a Disney-discovered boy, a persevering, energetic kid who started with a perfect debut song, "On Time," then a first album going platinum, then "new artist of the year" award, then seven songs on Billboard's Hot chart, then a hit song "Baby" in his recent, first studio release.

The fact is, the luck of HIS LUCK intrigues me. Aside from the education I have gotten from watching American Idol, and America's Got Talent, and seeing how the hopefuls are groomed and guided, I know from my life, (as a dancer, as a writer), "good luck" is a big part of making it.

A long time ago, I saw, in a musical that bombed, a wonderful singer -- thrilling, wonderful voice, "soul" in her every move. I even wrote her a letter. And now, I can't remember her name. Her next show, and the next one, just didn't work. And, in dance (my field), I've seen three -- two male dancers, one female, who had the crackle, that extra flash, a centeredness that compels your eye to watch as you feel their movement in your own muscles. I know their names, but you don't -- all three are teachers now.

So what about Justin B? Is it luck? Or is it his talent as a singer? Or is it the fact that the people who are handling his career are experienced, knowledgeable, and watching over what songs he sings, and what he wears, yes ... and that wonderful hair -- how it's combed and arranged?

We'll more than likely be seeing photographs of him -- great outfits, hysterical fans, weeping, girlfriends, groupies, whispers, scandals, million-dollar car, yacht, house purchases, lawsuits -- all the glamor- clamor that comes with pop/rock/new/hot/ talent.

Hey, Justin, "Baby oh, baby no" is catchy. Your singing performances draw me in, and I enjoy listening to you.

I've never been especially lucky, yet ... well ... if making it is a fancy car -- I don't have the car, boat, fans. So, what is the IT of making it? All I can report on is the fact that I'm privileged -- it's very special, a privilege to be able to do the work of my work.

Anyhow, welcome to the top of the world, the Kingdom of Celebrity, and here's a bit of Em motherly, artistic advice -- I say, don't count on luck -- just be sure; you are doing the work of your work.

Monday, May 31, 2010


Everything this columnist/reporter writes is interesting. He has a point of view that relates to my private thoughts, even though the shows he writes about are not necessarily shows I watch regularly.

He writes Time Magazine's "Tuned In" column, about pop culture and society, and the effect these shows are having on us -- our dreams, and pursuit of things, such as possessions, lovers, adventures.

He's got power. Time is a big daddy publication that influences other folks in the media. And Poniewozik is an artist with a seeing eye, who is feeling out, wondering, digging into what he feels. What he picks to praise or criticize isn't quirky, small, or unimportant -- it has philosophical impact.

His background -- he has a BA from the University of Michigan and studied fiction writing at NYU; he contributed articles to the New York Times Book Review, Fortune Magazine, and Rolling Stone, and was a media critic/editor at (a major online magazine) -- so Mr. P. has come up in the world fast.

The picture says he's young, and energetic, the kind of a guy who'd jump on the train to Coney Island, or Florida, or Arizona (a place NOT to visit these days, unless you're ready to argue about immigration.)

His age isn't listed, but I'm guessing he's around forty.

I don't agree with him about "The Good Wife." JC knows Julianna Margulies from his "ER" days as Dad to Dr. Greene, played by our friend Tony Edwards. So, having chatted with JC and Tony about Julianna quitting "ER" to pursue a career in theater -- knowing how tricky New York show biz is, and wanting her to succeed -- well, I'm extra critical about how she's presented.

Poniewozik thought sympathy for the Good Wife character was immediately established in the pilot -- I thought Julianna's wife, in the pilot, was cold, too cut off. Poniewozik feels the show has improved, gained depth. I think there's too much law firm business stuff; I'm not sure who the Good Wife is sleeping with and Julianna's still too humorless, and stiff.

The head lawyer, played by Christine Baranski, is more interesting, and look out, Julianna -- the most exciting woman on the show is sexy, mysterious Archie Panjabi, who's playing "Kalinda," the Good Wife's drinking-buddy, and law firm investigator.

Yes, I think Mr. P. is wrong about the show, but I still want to give give him an Em Award for "Tuned In" -- his good writing, great subjects, knitting into his subjects his own feelings, as well as objective commentary.

He's keeping us up to date about what's, popular, weird, trendy -- what's worth watching and how it relates to the current issues. So I'm bowing to him, doing a dancer's curtsy. Thank you for being what you are James Poniewozik.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


Sullivan calls his blog the "Daily Dish," and that's what it is -- a clear, on-the-nose commentary about current events -- anything, everything --no-holds barred. This man says what's on his mind.

It is THE blog to read, if you are a blogger as I am, and want to be inspired, affirmed, in what you are doing every day.

Fran, my blog coach, follows Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish, and three other blogs, as well as Em's Talkery.

I need a coach. I never read a blog until March of 09, when Fran said,"Try writing a blog, Em!" (Back then I had a dial-up modem, no high speed anything -- I went on line to buy books, that's all.)

Like an artistic director, Fran's been guiding and encouraging me, suggesting cuts, fixing inaccuracies and typos, and suggesting "write more" when additional facts would give the subject I'm writing about more validity.

And, occasionally, Fran sends me links to the Daily Dish, when Sullivan has written something that I might want to tackle on my blog.

I feel as if I'm at the top of a 70 foot ladder, diving into a 6 x 6 pool of water below, when I say -- I don't like to read Sullivan.

The top blogger, sharp mind, author of five books, a man who's been a major columnist for Time Magazine, and the Atlantic Monthly?

His background makes me gulp and feel small, like a greedy kid who gobbled a whole pie when I really wasn't that hungry.

(Whoa -- a high diver, a hungry kid? These images mean Em is afraid to say what's on her mind.)

I do not like Andrew Sullivan. His tone bothers me. His knife-like summaries seem snarky, condescending; the look on his face in the picture says who the hell are you, kid?

I don't trust him even when he's influencing me. (And he does, his opinion and mine are often similar, on the same wave length.)

Is it because he's Gay? That, and other private life stuff I've read about him, is miles away from my feelings. His dogs, his Catholicism, his HIV illness, this guy nevertheless pursuing citizenship -- all that is why I'd like to be a supporter of Andrew Sullivan, who is leader and a major voice.

But I feel anger in what he says. I feel his concern -- deep concern for what's going on in the world, and no lovingness, a rejection of mankind. He seems walled in -- talking loudly, articulating every word -- every vowel, consonant, and syllable -- but off by himself.

I don't want to read his words and pick up his feelings. He is too angry.

I'm not. I'm rueful, perhaps.. I hate cruelty, and feel mostly cruelty, a sardonic, sour, stinging humor in him -- not laughter, warmth, love. It's too bad Andrew Sullivan won't see this post. Ouch -- I bet if he did, he'd tear me apart, with his brilliant, perceptive logic.