Saturday, January 8, 2011


Everyday, throughout the day while I'm working, I remind myself, and order myself -- "SIT, STAND, STAND UP STRAIGHT!"

Though I published an "S S S " blog on June 13, 2009, I'm attacking the subject again, because nowadays, when I tell myself "SIT, STAND, STAND UP STRAIGHT," I seem to end up slumping even more.

"Spaghetti posture" -- that's what it looked like on JD, our son, whether he was on his bike or just walking around. JD, at age 15, was hooked on exercise. He biked on his exercise bike about 3 times a day -- pedaling fast, hunched over -- pedaling faster and faster. Like a good Mom, when he was off the bike, I reminded him to stand up straight, then found myself, fairly often, blurting out, "STAND STRAIGHT-- IT'S EASY -- JUST DO IT!"

My husband, actor John Cullum, and I wondered if JD was becoming an exercise bulimic, but parents outgrow their wonderings as the child grows up and gets into other things. JD is now a working actor in L.A. and his posture is strong and quite straight.

Spaghetti posture -- it's something to avoid -- that out-of-date, aged look of an older person -- the dowager's hump -- the wearied, slumped-over head.

"SIT, STAND STRAIGHT" is what you have to yell at yourself as days, weeks, months, years pass! And here we are today, into the new New Year. I just did a "vlog" with my husband about Resolutions, and said, "Don't make resolutions -- resolving to do something quite often predetermines that the something will fail."

Dammit, I've certainly mastered the physical disciplines of classical ballet -- why can't I maintain S S S ? While typing, creating the words you are reading right now, I keep re-adjusting my posture. I put a wooden board against the back of my desk chair. Sometimes (like today), I'm wearing a wide, tight, uncomfortable belt. But neither board nor belt helps me obey my S S S command.

Hey, I've even tried working/typing/writing with a book on my head. It's ridiculously distracting!

REALTY: The only way to hold onto S S S is to find some little moments when you can practice what you're preaching.

SO -- am I practicing? Yes!

My husband and I take a walk first thing in the morning -- a stand straight, stand tall, head-high, stroll around my studio.

We take hands and stroll 15 feet to the entrance door -- enter my dance studio area, then, we stroll 30 feet from the door to the other end of the studio, where a huge loudspeaker sits. Holding hands, we square the corner. It's just 25 feet from the loudspeaker to the skinny mirror. Approaching it, we see the slender couple in the mirror, and admire ourselves. We look ... well ... nice, sort of king-and-queenly elegant, sprightly, youngish, not at all thickset, mature.

I like the way we look together.

We proceed 30 feet along the mirrored-wall to the audience seats. (My dance studio converts into a small theater.) After we square the corner, it's just 18 feet back to the hall.

JC goes to his office, I go to mine.

Our promenade sets a mood -- exterior and interior, and somehow, once we get that tall, confident, head-high feeling -- well, we can't sustain it throughout the day, but I'm okay -- having obeyed the S S S command, I know it'll be verified again, tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.

Friday, January 7, 2011


Dear A ... B ...C ... D... E ... F... G .. H ... etc

I've written this "Dear You" post before. Did you know me in September and read it back then?

I need to say it and write it again for 2011.

(Because I have a new page for Em's Talkery now, I've had to go through my friends list -- 889 profile pictures -- click each picture, and send out a hi, asking all my friends to "like" the new page.)

You are on the list because you've confirmed a friend request. So I am talking to you -- a real person in my mind, not just a name. I've seen your FB profile, glanced at your stuff -- photos, graphics, mutual friends, age, etc. Whatever you've put on your profile page goes into my brain and stays in what my husband, John Cullum, calls my "hopper."

I absorb your words, tone, rhythm or lack of it, stiffness, inhibition, tendency to apologize, sense of humor, friendly or not very friendly implications in what you've mentioned. I sense solidness, lost-ness, even shyness, and vague unease. And I remember what you've conveyed -- not the details, but importance of certain people, events, and things you've done (or have mentioned that you haven't done, but wish you had.)

So from your FB page, (or from a comment, or a message you've sent me), I know you.

I've been a Facebooker since May. I see how my friends come and go -- disappear, and then, sometimes return. But I continue to KNOW who you are -- the reverberations of our back-and-forthing stay with me. I wonder what happened to you, and think "Gee, I haven't heard from so-and-so" and move you to a someplace area, to make space in my hopper for the current people.

So here I am, into the first week of a new year, sorting you and me out.

I'm hoping you'll say hi, or comment on ... well, maybe my vision of "Vertical Gardens," or my not sweet essay on "Angelina Jolie" or you'll say something about our "New Appliance Woes."

Or maybe you'll wait, and say something about next week's essays that I'm working on, "Gone Heroes and Heroines," or Britain's "Bad Sex Award."

I'll say it again -- dear J ... K ... L ... M ... N ... O ... P ... etc ... I know who you are.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


She's beautiful. Stunning, head-to-toe sexy looking, an actress who can play any role. In every movie I've seen her in, she's what I watch -- my eyes goes to her.

Jolie is a very creative artist.

Jolie carries herself, nowadays, and her children, and her devotions, her various commitments to charities, with amazing grace and exceptional dignity.

This essay on Jolie is just an impression, an end-of-the-year reviewing. Like my gathering up bills, expenses to send to our accountant, I'm tidying up thoughts that need to be sorted and filed away so that I'm done with them.

When I see Jolie -- puffy kissable lips, perfect features, that how-could-it-be-a-more- perfect body, I wonder, would I want to be her? I'm envious, but I've never wanted to change places with anyone.

To clarify my impression, before I sat down at my keyboard, I looked her up online. I read a well-written complete story, filled with personal quotes, quirky revelations, words that had to come from her.

(Based on my knowledge of show biz, I'm sure she has a publicist and staff who handles all this -- a publicist works with the artist-client, and writes, rewrites and makes certain the client is presented in the way that the client wants.)

Jolie is thirty-five now, with six children, three of her own and three whom she adopted. She's worked hard, done many movies, won lots of awards, keeps going non-stop, almost, in her quest to be one of the most starry stars in the world.

What I read confirms what I have gathered about Jolie over the years.

Ten years ago she's was wild, outrageous, unconventional -- saying, doing, behaving in public, occasionally, in deliberately shocking ways. (A movie star's words, photos and statements stay in my mind like dance steps -- like cooking recipes, like computer routines that enable me to embed videos in a post.)

I can't forget her wearing, around her neck, a vial of blood from one of her husbands just as he wore a vial of her blood; nor can I erase my memory of her uninhibitedly bragging about making love in public places; nor can I turn off some of the cruelly rejecting remarks she's made about Jon Voight, her famous actor dad. And I didn't invent the fact that she touted her own bisexuality, and her tattoos.

(I read that some of her tattoos have been lasered away, and others have to be layered with special makeup for semi-nude shots.)

Clearly, Jolie is doing-doing what she's been advised, helped, directed to do, based on what she wants. My impression of her as a humanitarian is a sense of strategically planned trips, contrived, carefully choreographed shots for the media, plus statements about the underprivileged needy children, that are remarkably eloquent -- yes, strong!

But are they touching?

They don't touch me.

Her quest to become what she's succeeded in becoming, has been helped, not hurt, by her annexing the married Brad Pitt. After all, he's one of the most famous international male stars in the world. My impression of her relationship to Pitt is a sexual love affair that developed from a one-night-stand situation, lasted quite awhile, and made them into a uniquely fascinating, unconventional, newsworthy couple.

Hey, they are skilled actors, and they are playing a loving couple.

Acting is "acting" -- creating a feeling, a truth, and the good actress that is Jolie, is partly because she's so utterly focused on herself. I could be wrong. I don't like her. I don't trust her. Even so, I always pay attention when Angelina Jolie appears, talks, is interviewed, quoted, amidst an explosion of flashbulbs, and fabulous photos.

Tell me if I'm wrong. I'll listen.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


What's that, I thought as I noticed a 2" x 2" box in a picture of JFK making a speech 50 years ago.

It was an ad that said, "Use your QR Reader to directly access the JFK Twitter feed." I'd seen a box like that, but never tried to figure out what it was

QR? Maybe you know what QR is, but I didn't.

I Googled, saw another 2 x 2 box and this: "QR (Quick Response) code is a two-dimensional bar code that can store contact info, URLs, even paragraphs of text. Although they were invented in 1994, they were relegated to industrial applications until a new generation of consumer electronics made them practical for just about everything.

"Now the Android and iPhone have software for decoding them. QR codes are being developed into new applications called “hardlinking” or “physical world hyperlinking,” that make it easy for user's to capture data from products, magazines, billboards and even each other’s phones."

I saw a string of ads: Make your own QR Code courtesy of ZXing project. Google image search of social QR code applications. Silicon Alley Insider -- Mobile Barcodes: Big In France!”

Oh dear, oh no ... is this something new to learn? I felt myself sinking in the quicksand of the latest, newest hot, fashionable, in, trendy, smart, chic, cool thing.

I know what a bar code is, and occasionally I'd like to be able to read it and learn what something's going to cost, but this 2 x 2 code square -- that people use on business cards, on their stationery, imprint it on their T shirts -- it's important -- a new form of communication as well as a way to advertise.

Oh boy, am I ever behind the times. I have a cell phone that I hardly ever use. I don't have a laptop, (just 3 PCs ). I don't have a Blackberry, or Android, iPhone, iPad, or an Xbox, or a QR code reader.

Do I need it -- do I buy one -- how would I use it -- why would I use it? Isn't it just a popular gizmos like what we bought years ago, because everyone had calculator, or alarm clock on his wristwatch?

If I don't get QR reader will l be a Neanderthal, and never ever be able to catch up with whatever is next?

What IS next? Maybe a mental telepathy in-putter, that will send other people's thoughts into my head? What device will Steve Jobs invent -- a 3D vision of the cell phone caller?

I know it's going to happen! It's progress, right? There won't be phones -- just maybe an ear piece that gives you everything -- a jewel you can attach to your earlobe?

Maybe everyone will be wearing a ring? Like those old mood rings that changed colors -- a ring that'll tell you if it's a customer, a relative -- with one little twist, you'll know if it's a friend or a foe.

Why do I feel I need protection from progress?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


What about vertical gardens on some of the giant buildings in my hometown, New York City? We've got Central Park and Washington Square Park, but our streets, except in midsummer, are shabby gray.

The only green I see in April is on skinny NYC trees struggling to live in 4 x 4 beds of dirt, surrounded by low iron fences. They keep city dogs from away from the weeds that are fighting for life in each tree's 4 x 4 garden.

In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Longwood Gardens captured the title of North America's largest living wall with a vertical garden measuring 3,590 sq. ft., which is 50% bigger than that of the our country's previous record holder, the PNC Bank in Pittsburgh.

Good news -- it gets wintry in Pittsburgh -- ergo, we can have vertical gardens in NYC too!

And now Longwood is dwarfed by the Inter-Continental Hotel in Santiago, Chile, which has a 17,000 sq. ft. vertical garden wall, (about the size of six tennis courts). In the photo, the wall looks like a giant green and brown quilted-blanket, but it sounds breathtaking. It would be thrilling if the Hilton Hotel did that right here in Manhattan.

My city is full of rich corporations occupying huge buildings. Why not have vertical gardens on 34th, 42nd, or 59th Street? Yes, it's expensive! Even though a living wall can reduce a building's heating and cooling costs, a living garden needs to be maintained. Designers say it can cost $100 per sq. ft.

A roof garden costs with $15 to $40 per sq. ft -- we had a green roof for awhile, but couldn't water it without attaching a hose to our kitchen sink. That meant we couldn't close our roof's door. It was inconvenient and not safe.

Watering a vertical garden is complicated -- rain doesn't fall sideways so irrigation is done by a drip-irrigation systems and electronic monitoring devices to make sure the plants don't dry out. And you'd want to use recycled water -- NYC water is expensive. Water in our building costs $25 to $50 month per adult, depending on how many showers a person takes. I'm guessing it could $20,000 to $50,000 per month for the wall of a hotel.

But, the creators of "green walls" say it isn't there for energy/cost savings -- it's marketing genius -- people notice it. Ultimately a vertical garden wall provides a faster return on the investment.

So, will it happen in your city or mine? I've seen pictures -- they have vertical gardens on museums, corporate headquarters, airports and highway overpasses in other cities, as well as in major cities in Europe.

Being a New Yorker, who sorely misses Mother Nature, I'm picturing what life would be like if giant corporations that are already here, installed vertical gardens.

<--------------My building could look like this and Fifth Avenue, that's on our corner, could look like this--------->

They also say, a vertical garden takes commitment -- maintaining it is like maintaining a pet, (a huge and very thirsty one). But a corporation could put "Water" in its advertising budget.

What I'm thinking is vertical gardens would work in NYC -- it could transform Manhattan into -- wow -- we could be a "Living Green" city.

Monday, January 3, 2011


I've been avoiding the headlines, articles, chatter, about WikiLeaks.

I don't trust "hot" news. Often, what's hot has been made hot by repetition.

WikiLeaks is a Website to visit if you want to find out about behind-the-scenes political and financial doings. The boss or founder or whatever you call him, hacked into the State Department computers and files, and exposed a lot of bad and good things that important diplomats and their associates have said and done.

Approximately 250,000 documents were leaked.

In between "what a mess" comments and opinions from the media, we've been getting juicy blabs about the sexual doings of WikiLeaks main man, Julian Assange. To my eye he appears shifty-eyed -- there's a debauched, flabby, weak look about him -- I can't imagine meeting him at a cocktail party, and making conversation with him.

It's depressing, worrisome -- to hear about possible wrongdoings on the part of people heading major countries, but the nitty-gritty details about Assange and what he did or didn't do in bed, are just plain dreary.

Quite by accident, I came across "Not Dead Yet" -- an article on WikiLeaks in Newsweek. The authors, Christopher Dickey and Andrew Blast, collaborated with Owen Matthews in Moscow, John Barry in Washington, William Underhill in London, R. M. Schneiderman and Mike Giglio in New York.

This thoroughly researched article explained that leaking diplomatic dispatches is a "recognized diplomatic art" that's been done for years. Our ambassadors often share their cables with correspondents in other countries, because a report from a correspondent will get to the secretary of state’s desk faster than an official memo. Leaking a dispatch is also a way of saving face, or stepping back from the brink of a war.

From WikiLeaks, we've learned how Iran's nuclear weapons, and Israel's threats of war, are being handled. We've heard diplomats refer to Russia’s president and prime minister as “Batman and Robin.” We've learned that Defense Secretary, Dr. Robert Gates, formerly a CIA guy himself, has been dealing with China, Russia, Turkey, and Arabian allies privately. Turkish officials were saying that Iran's nuclear ambitions were "gossip," but in private we have been talking with Turkey about a missile shield program on Turkish soil.

A sensitive piece of information that WikiLeaks exposed was our covert CIA program targeting Al Qaeda in Yemen and the negotiations between Yemen's President and General David Petraeus. And more -- much more stuff like this -- that should NOT have been disclosed, has clearly been exposed.

Even so, the huge quantities of pilfered State Department documents show that American diplomats are doing their jobs the way diplomats should, using all the resources, and not deceiving the public.

Authorities from the National Intelligence Council, from Harvard University's Cultural Exchange Department, the Guardian in the U.K., from the New York Times, are praising the people who were writing those cables. “Let’s hear it for the men and women of the U.S. Foreign Service!” says Roger Cohen, long-time foreign correspondent for the New York Times.

The fact is, WikiLeaks documents have shown us what good job our diplomats have been able to do in the last few years, but Assange's work as a hacker has made the job a lot harder for our guys in the future.

Anyhow, the "hot" news has cooled. I'm glad to know more about all this, but please, media guys, let Assange's fifteen minutes of fame die out.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


I'm looking out my window. It's the day after New Year's -- the first Sunday morning of 2011.

It looks the same -- gray street, gray, white, and red brick buildings, lamps posts, parked cars, meters like sentries that demand how much -- $14.00 for a half hour of parking on our street. It's a business street in the heart of Manhattan.

Yesterday, across the street in those buildings, I could see at least four marvelously decorated Christmas trees on four different floors -- all large, all looked as if they'd been carefully, expensively, creatively, applause-gettingly labored over.

Soon they'll be in the street.

And steel Dumpers will be in street, piled high with cartons, gift boxes -- piles of red, green, gold, silver things -- ribbons, bows, labels, cards, protective tissue, wrapping paper -- so many pretty things everyone picked out carefully, purchased, debated over how to handle, then wrapped, tied, taped and fussed with.

Like the Christmas trees. After the holiday you can keep the tree up for a week or two -- you can pretend not to notice the branches, the green beginning to be tinged with brown -- becoming brown and brittle -- then very brittle, crumbling, brittle, with browned, dead, pine needles beginning to cover the floor around the base of the tree, migrating, magically moving into other parts of the house that have to be kept clean.

Nobody wants pine needles on the kitchen floor. I don't want pine needles in the bathroom.

So, we'll move our tree into the hall -- trees are elevatored or hand, arm, and shoulder carried to the street, and laid to rest ignobly on their sides at the curb.

Sometimes the tree lies there and brown turns to gray until the garbage trucks and the garbage men arrive and the remnants of what once was your marvelous -- oh, this is IT tree! -- are disposed of.

Ours was a lovely tree -- a little crooked, but it grew and grew somewhere to be ready for us to chose it, buy it, make it into ours.

Well, it'll be Ground Hog day in a minute, then Valentines .... Happy New Year -- hello two zero one one! Hey, 2-0-1-1 will be fun to type -- to print out on a check ...

Oh my goodness, I forgot -- well, belatedly, tomorrow I'll give a holiday present to our postman!