Saturday, October 9, 2010


I like to work. Once I start to work on something, I keep going till it's done. Thinking about work can be a drag, but the actual doing of it -- whatever it is -- is fun.

The fact is, for me, work is more fun than vacationing, traveling, reading a book, or being a spectator (yep, I'd rather work than watch John Cullum in a show, unless it was playing Charlie Anderson again, in the revival of "Shenandoah.").

Since one of my friends told me yesterday, that he has written page one of a novel, which is a huge work commitment, I'm thinking he could use a little advice from Em, the novelist.

Maybe you can use some advice. If you've got a job on your mind, something you want to do (be it writing a novel, or building a room, producing a play, buying a dog, adopting a child, (taking on a 15 year very big job) -- click and read what I wrote last year -- "Work Is God Is Work."

Friday, October 8, 2010


A friend sent me this.

Are any of your friends or relatives Grizzly bears?

Are you a Grizzly?

I am definitely not.

And click:
Glance at the list of others who feel the same way.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Movie star, Ben Affleck, in most of his movies that I've seen, has seemed sort of "square" -- great-looking, in the way Rock Hudson was, but what Ben portrayed never stayed with me.

"Good Will Hunting," which he co-wrote with Matt Damon and with whom he won an Oscar for best original screenplay, stays with me.

His romances stay with me. I have an ear for gossip, and bitchy-labels comes to my mind, instinctively. Maybe I should have been a Mary Hart, on Entertainment Tonight, or a Hedda Hopper.

After a high profile relationship with actress Gwyneth Paltrow in 1998, his relationship with actress/singer Jennifer Lopez attracted worldwide media attention -- they were dubbed as "Bennifer." J Lo seemed fixated on him, fixated on showing the world the fabulous engagement ring Ben gave her!

"J Lo Gives Me the Creeps" was the title of my 3/10/10 blog about her. She's an ordinary girl who made herself a queen -- big dreams -- enormous drive -- big talent -- she has a remarkable talent for self-promotion, and getting what she wants.

She's been a celebrity for ten years, and she's still there, stunning, gorgeously dressed and bejeweled, showing us how she can get any man she wants (except Ben Affleck) -- how she can marry famous singer, Mark Anthony, make twins with him, and at 41, continue to be utterly perfect looking.

Ahh yes, (murmurs bitchy-gossipy Em), but soon, as J Lo's being idolized on American Idol, she'll be heading toward the quicksand of her mid 40's.

Ahh, and where's 38-year-old Ben?

Following their breakup in 2004, he began dating Jennifer Garner. The two married in June 2005 and have two daughters, Violet Anne, born December 2005, and Seraphina Rose Elizabeth, born January 2009. Affleck has been actively involved in politics and children's issues, creating a non-profit organization called the A-T Children's Project. Along with childhood friend Matt Damon, he founded the production company LivePlanet -- what a practical, clever move for both of them. I think actors (also plain regular guys), hit their prime in their mid-to-late forties.

Affleck's latest movie "The Town" has received great reviews for him as the director, writer, and leading actor. The movie was number one the week it opened; the second week it was number three, continuing to gross over $16 million -- it's a big hit!

Hey -- is money the measure of success? To most of the world it is. Not to me -- to me, how much money you make is boring numbers that show how much money you put into selling your product.

Watching where Affleck is heading next -- seeing him grow as an all around movie maker, politician, husband, father, artist -- that's success -- that's fun!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Fran, my blog coach, emailed me an article: "Giant Rats Put Their Noses to Work in Africa."

"Ugg" I clicked another email. "Everyone's worried about bedbugs -- why write about rats in Mozambique? Where's Tanzania?"

Wow! I read it just now. It's a MUST DO! I can't tell this story much better than the CNN World writer; Elliot C. McLaughlin: "Niko Mushi hated rats, as did most people in his village near Tanzania's Mt. Kilimanjaro -- until he learned the critters had a nose for land mines.

"Mushi, 32, has been working with Giant African Pouched Rats for almost seven years. He now enjoys their company -- ' They're just like my friend,' he says -- but he concedes he was skeptical when the man who conceived the idea for HeroRats first told him they could sniff out live ordnance.

"'I thought maybe he was making some jokes,' Mushi said. 'I was amazed that rats could do such a thing.'

"Before he started working with rats, Mushi had a comfortable job teaching the Kiswahili language at a Lutheran seminary. He was terrified when he first took one of his long-tailed protégés into a Mozambican minefield."

(I looked up the size -- 28 inches from nose to tail-tip with an average weight of 3-1/2 to 4 pounds. The "pouch" is their jaws that swell and hold food till they are ready to eat. Yikes! The rat looks like its twice the size of the hand holding out the banana!)

McLaughlin writes: "Mushi had heard stories of accidents involving the mines, mostly leftovers from Mozambique's civil war, which ended in 1992. He was not emboldened by the skeletons of soldiers and others who'd taken unfortunate steps before him. But his rat found 16 land mines that day.

"'We are not a good friend to these creatures,' Mushi said of his countrymen, 'But after people see this work that we are doing, they change this position.'"

McLaughlin's story doesn't end there. Mushi's rat can find tuberculosis, too! Africa, because of its prevalence of HIV, has more deadly tuberculosis than any other continent.

When the founder of APOPO ( Dutch acronym meaning Anti-Personnel Land Mines Detection Product), Bart Weetjens, saw a 2002 World Health Organization report predicting TB deaths would quadruple to 8 million by 2015. He started thinking. "The ancient Chinese diagnose the disease by the smell of a person's saliva that has the smell of tar ..."

Weetjens and his wife trained APOPO's rats to identify the smell of TB in human sputum.

In 2008 and 2009, HeroRats in Tanzania detected 900 cases of TB. APOPO estimates the rats prevented 13,575 transmissions.

Weetjens, a Buddhist monk, heads the organization and trains HeroRats. He said Mushi's initial repulsion is common. "Prejudice against rats is deep in our psyche."

Here's some statistics from McLaughlin's article: Land mines and related devices were responsible for 73,576 casualties worldwide from 1999 to 2009, with almost a fifth of them in 24 African countries.

"It takes limited skill and only six to eight months to train a rat -- or a year for the "slow" rats, because some rats are smarter than others," said trainer Mushi, who was trained by Weetjens.

Mushi now oversees 14 rats. The cost to train a rat is 6,000 euros ($7,700), roughly a third of what it costs to train a dog. Training begins when the rats are 4 weeks old. They're taught to associate a clicking noise with a tasty banana or peanuts.

The treats are used to teach them how to signal when they find a mine and how to detect the scent of TNT in tea balls. Before they're shipped to Mozambique, they have several trial runs in APOPO's training minefields, some of which contain tea balls, others live mines.

It hasn't been easy convincing the international community that mine-sniffing rats are viable, but donors are coming around. A partners list once consisting solely of Antwerp University and the Belgian government, now includes about 30 groups, including the U.N. Development Program, World Bank Development Marketplace, and the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship.
Gee ... want to do something to help folks in Africa? Want to get yourself a pet?

Here's very down-to-earth link -- it says they're often destructive but they can be cuddly: Giant African Pouched Rats as Pets.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Anti-Obama stuff is getting worse. We've been told over and over he's doing wrong things.

Now we are being bombarded with distorted information and lies, the way ads for movies, medicine, and cereals lie and hammer us, hammer in words, pictures, flashing subliminal visions to make the "product" sound as if it's the way to go -- it's what to buy -- when IT ISN'T.

The US Chamber of Commerce has been spending $3 million a week on ads and lobbying that will stop anything on Obama's current agenda from getting passed. It has spent $150 million since 2009, the day Barack Obama was sworn in as President. The business lobby is planning to spend $75 million more before election day to make sure the Republicans win-win-win.

That's a huge amount of money being spent to stop this guy. They're making sure that we are reminded, every time we turn on the television, the radio, or pick up a newspaper, that Democrats are facing an "historic rout, an earthquake, a tidal wave."

Why isn't Obama fighting back? He had a huge army off line and online, Organizing for America. People sent in $1, $100, $1000, whatever they could afford to support him. The OFA army -- people who went house to house, rang bells, helped in a hundreds of ways -- was 6000. Right now that army is less than 300.

Obama and his aides haven't re-built OFA because he isn't selling himself -- he's selling issues -- employment, education, weakened economy, how to end the war. And other issues -- tax cuts, immigration, fixing healthcare, rising costs of this and that.

The guy is busy, too busy to fight to win mid-terms when he's handling the whole country, and our country is holding much of the world in its hands -- every day someone's life somewhere in the world can be saved by something our president says or does.

Even so, why aren't OFA guys jumping in and helping now? David Plouffe, the head of OFA, said, "The feeling people had about OFA, helping Obama get elected, was like a first kiss -- you can't experience it twice."

I say, YES YOU CAN. You get to know someone, pick up details about the person's steadfastness, truthfulness, sense of humor, and flaws -- find out if this person is a complainer, overly aggressive, race-prejudiced. We know Obama isn't -- we know he's a cerebral, thoughtful man, who studies every aspect of an issue before he makes decisions.

Okay, you're worried. You look around. You check out the other guys. They look nice -- falling in love is sexy fun, fascinating, interesting, and ... well, it can be painful. Gee, with someone new, you hear a few words -- maybe at little exaggerating, a white lie, something philosophical/political that suggests the new guy is selling old stuff that sounds like what Bush sold us, that got us in the ditch in the first place.

It's sort of like sleeping around, but being big-eyed, wide-awake before you jump into bed. Could you fall in love with handsome, stiff, Mormon Mitt, or sweetsy, seductive sales-lady Sarah, or do you look for some new guy like a new penny -- a copper shiny person, who's never been fingered in a lot of pockets?

We know that the man we put in the White House is a truthful, honest, moral, clear-thinking, strong fighter (who won an election against impossible odds). He is also hearing all the negative talk about historic rout and tidal waves.

What's he doing? He's going along with what his brain and guts tell him to do.

What can I do, what can you do? We can talk about him. Talk to your friends, relatives, grocer, druggist, gas station attendant, store clerk, delivery guy -- anyone you bump into -- talk to everybody you can about what's great about Obama -- talk and keep talking and don't sleep around.

Monday, October 4, 2010


If I woke up as Hillary, what would my day be like? Could I do what she does? No! Could she do what I do? No! But miles and miles of brain links -- thousands, millions of things make it impossible for me to pretend to be her for a day.

What about today, last week, or Monday two weeks ago?

Her schedule: 8:30 a.m: "Bilateral meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister, Seiji Maehara, at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City."

"At the Waldorf" means the meeting was in an elegant suite, prepared for the occasion with a dining table and chairs, and breakfast foods. I instinctively think of things a woman has to do before a meeting, but I'm sure Hillary has a staff that handles things like that in the State Department at the Harry S. Truman Building in D.C. There's a $16.4 billion annual budget for Hillary and two executive deputy secretaries to run the show --the State Department involves about 50,000 people in various US missions abroad and at home.

Okay -- she got up (I'd say 7.a.m.). Aside from morning ablutions, there were the typical female decisions -- hairdo, makeup, what color outfit to wear -- no heels (long day, walking down long halls would be involved). These days, her outfits are more tailored, more subdued colors (probably weight gain and awareness that she's not the "star" of the show).

Did she phone a good morning to Chelsea, or Bill? Were there other personal things on her mind? I hope so, even as I hope not -- whew -- if I were Hillary I'd have awakened at 6, and studied information about the people at today's meetings -- reviewed names of wives, kiddies, hobbies. But Hillary doesn't need to -- she's just doing what she did for years and years in Arkansas, D.C, New York, and in every state in the union during her campaign.

After breakfast with Seiji, she was off to the UN -- the President was in New York City for 3 days and 2 nights of meetings and events.

The issues -- peace in the middle east, nuclear non-proliferation, new foreign aid policies, our commitment to an active role in the Sudan and Asia tension -- Hillary knows all the nooks and crannies of prior discussions, and who needs to be handled how -- what to say to Iran's President, Ahmadinejad, after his shocking remark about us spearheaded the 9-11 attacks?

Did she thank him for releasing American hiker, Sarah Shourd? Did she smooth it over with that tight-lipped, strong, eye-to eye look or hers, letting him know his remarks were offensive was part of her job? (I'm sure she did!)

At 3 p.m, Hillary spoke at the UN Security Council Summit on Peacekeeping. Was there time to review her remarks? It was a summary of what the US has done to re-establish relations with anti-American countries. She and the President don't sell, or promote what they've accomplished -- things the media is too busy to mention (busy with midterm election predictions, negative opinions about what's not being done the White House.)

At 6:15 p.m. (did she have a snack, visit a restroom, repair makeup, tuck in loose ends of her hair -- yes, I keep thinking about grooming but that's what a woman has to do), Hillary was back at the Waldorf where she spoke at the Millennium Challenge Cooperation signing ceremony for Philippine President, Benigno Aquino III.

My head's awhirl. I never heard of the MCC, but Hillary knew and praised their $434 million (much needed), grant to the Filipino people.

Okay, she's wonderful. She remembers stuff. She can give speeches. She smiles --she's gracious, and conveys friendship with hundreds of strangers. She IS astounding. And 45 minutes later, at 7:00 p.m., she was at a bilateral meeting with Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, reassuring him, after the our withdrawal of combat troops, Iraq will have the protection of security council funds.

All her meetings are referred to as "bilateral," which means the U.S.'s objectives, and the other guy's objectives are on the table, discussed, and exchanged. (Maybe that's why this is turning into a bilateral 'how-does-she-manage,' 'how-would-I- manage,' sort of post.)

8:15 p.m. Secretary Clinton held a bilateral meeting with Afghan Foreign Minister, Zalmay Rassoul, to help him prepare for his speech at the next the Millennium Challenge meeting.

Rassoul said: "Afghanistan is aware, perhaps more than many, of exactly how much we can accomplish when working together. Our responsibility, as world leaders and as human beings, is to persevere in our quest to improve the lives of our fellows. I am convinced that, with commitment and focus, we will succeed."

Good words, for the end of the UN session. The long day was over. No mention was made of where, when, or with whom the Secretary of State had dinner, and what was on her agenda for the next morning. I don't know who helps, informs, prompts, guides, or praises Hillary.

Or who kisses her goodnight. Except me, in my mind -- I've admired her for years and watched her evolve. The warmth that's in her eyes, in her smile, the cheerful hopeful energy she projects -- "tidings of comfort and joy" -- the incredible positiveness Hillary radiates -- I am astonished by this woman who uses herself all day long and every evening, and then, by herself, alone, rests to prepare herself to do what Hillary Rodham Clinton does again tomorrow and tomorrow.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


John Cullum is getting ready to rejoin the cast of "Scottsboro Boys," the John Kander and Fred Ebb musical which was developed, and performed at the Vineyard Theater, last spring. The show is re-opening on Broadway at the Lyceum Theater, starting previews October 7th.

Emily Frankel enjoys John's pre-rehearsal process, and gets John to explain what he has to do in order to remember lines and choreography. John, of course, wants to keep his role "fresh," not just repeat what he did before, but recreate his part as the Interlocutor of the minstrel show, which is the theme, the concept of this musical.

One of his songs, though cut for a good reason (the producers and Kander felt it distracted from the end of the drama), is a favorite of Emily's. She asks John Cullum to sing a bit of it.

It's a special treat in this video on how Broadway Star Cullum prepares to open again on Broadway.