Saturday, May 5, 2012


It was a big drama when John Cullum was hired to replace Louis Jordan in the musical, "ON A CLEAR DAY" during it's pre-Broadway, out-of-town tryout in Boston.

Replacing the star in a musical comedy -- learning the script, songs, blocking and choreography is a very difficult, tricky thing for any actor to do. And lyricist, author Alan J. Lerner wanted John to perform the role of the psychiatrist in one week -- play the starring role on the gala opening night in Boston.

It was very hush hush. The composer Burton Lane, choreographer Herbert Ross, and director Bobby Lewis knew Jordan was being replaced, but the cast hadn't been told, newspapers didn't know.

I was there with John -- it was his first starring role, a big break. We were met at the airport by Alan's assistant and Dr. Max. Right off the bat, we learned from the doctor that he was helping everyone in the show. A rather big bear of man, he seemed to want to help me to adjust, to relax, to enjoy my visit to Boston.

After we checked in at the hotel, we were ushered to Lerner's suite where we were to stay secretly while Alan stayed on his boat. Entering, we saw on every flat surface, vials, and hypodermic needles. The phone was ringing. It kept ringing constantly.

What we learned during that week of rehearsal in Boston, from the phone calls from celebrities -- calls that came in constantly -- was that Dr. Max was a very famous guy who treating some of the world's most famous people.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


My concern about the size and shape of my bosom was a life and death important thing that I inherited from my two older sisters.

One sister was B-cup bosomy, the other was flat as a board. What my sisters ingrained in me was -- without wonderful bosoms, one couldn't have an exciting, thrilling, fantastical love life.

But I wanted to be dancer and the ballerinas in the photos I tacked to the wall above my bed were definitely not bosomy. In their tutus, they had teeny waists and hour-glass smooth, bosom-less chests.

Oh sure, I knew about the birds, bees and sex from sex education classes in school. And for awhile, I liked playing with dolls and playing house with the boy who lived next door. But all that -- once I started taking ballet classes -- was not as important as turned-out feet, stretching so I could do a split, convincing my parents that my ballerina dream was serious, and getting them to let me take ballet classes twice-a-week.

Well, I did it -- I became a dancer. And while I was learning how to dance better than anyone else, marrying a male dancer, and rising in the dance world with him doing one-night stands, my bosom was ... well, mostly, just part of the costumes.

I was quite satisfied with my small "oranges." When, occasionally, I needed to look sexier, there were falsies. My costume designer made me an undergarment that gave me a perfect bosomy shape for a forty-minute solo that got rave reviews.

Anyhow, in between writing letters to get bookings, and finding an agent who could get us more prestigious engagements, I kept a sort of diary about arguments I was having with my dance partner, and where I was heading personally.

And diary-keeping, as time passed, became my writing career and my novel, "Somebody, Woman of the Century," the story of Cordelia. My heroine was born the first day of new century so that her age represented the year.

I wanted to write about all the major events -- wars, fashion, great leaders, The Pill, bikinis, air travel, cake mixes, all the trivia that affected me, my sisters, Mom, other moms and wives -- all the women I knew.

Of course bosoms are part of the story in my novel.

"For Cordelia, age fifteen was very different from age fourteen. Where not so long ago her hips and waist were up-and-down straight, now they were somewhat curved. Her little mounds had become "baby oranges." Her friend Penny called them that, delighting in her own "grapefruits." At least "oranges" weren't "pancakes" like Faye's, who spent a lot of time trying out silk stockings, bunching, rolling, squeezing them to see if they felt real when stuffed in the brassiere her mumsie bought in France. She wanted to be like Penny, who was the first girl in the school who really needed to wear one."

My heroine didn't know, and only after research did I learn more about bosoms -- how things have changed down through the ages.

Around 62 AD, artifacts found in the ruins of Pompeii show that some women wore chest coverings that look like a brassiere. And back in the 14th century BC in China, bikini-like garments were worn by female athletes -- a Dudou (a 'belly cover') was in vogue among wealthy rich women, and stomach protectors evolved over the centuries into corsets.

In the Western world, in the early nineteen-hundreds, "S" corsets started pushing the breasts up.

As gowns became more d├ęcolletage, nipple piercing became popular in France. Surgery was done to remove ribs to make the waist smaller as bustles, padded hips, then crinolines became stylish, along with long-line corsets.

Gradually, corsets with boning became shorter, straps made of "lastex," (yarn with a core of elastic rubber) were used, and wedges kept the breasts apart, often with padding.

Around 1916, these garments began to be "brassieres," and the term “cup” was first used. The first cup manufacturers relied on stretchable cups to accommodate different-sized breasts.

In 1932, a company started using the letters A through D. Warner began to feature cup-sizing in its products. Adjustable bands with multiple eye and hook positions were introduced and the business exploded into the billion-dollar business that is now.

Ads for Frederick's of Hollywood, Adola, and Hollywood Bras appeared

Soon bra ads were sprouting and inspiring everyone, everywhere.

Maidenform Bras sparked women's imaginations.

As did Madonna.

With Madonna's "Blonde Ambition" came those cone-shaped bras that Jean Paul Gaultier created for her -- pointed bras that looked like weapons.

And then came those lines of models, skinny young girls swinging their hips casually, parading down the runway with the very latest front and back cleavage, with more and more, very creative, bosom-revealing outfits.

Now we've got Victoria's Secret's super-unreal breasts being revealed constantly along with -- well -- what more is there to be revealed?

Why is it important?

Because how breasts are decorated and displayed inspires us -- shocks, delights and perturbs us. It's a huge part of daily day-dreaming, and mental meandering, i.e. fantasy fun.

I mean, gee, why are you looking at this page?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


The questions I'd like to ask someone about life and death things -- the huge questions that are complicated, too complex for me to understand -- Stephen Hawking can probably answer.

He's a "Cosmologist." Distracted by the word looking like "cosmetic," I checked the dictionary. His specialty is his knowledge about the cosmos -- i.e., the entire universe.

(Stephen Hawking is 70 now. He has three children, Robert, Lucy, and Tim, from his marriage to first wife Jane. He has two grandchildren, and also a second ex-wife, Elaine. There are vague rumblings about his second wife abusing him physically, and current rumblings about him attending sex clubs.)

(Daughter Lucy, a writer, has published three "young- adult" books. Son Robert is married and lives in the U.S. Son Tim likes automobile racing. Except for these facts, no other details about his family seem to be available.)

(Re the "abuse" -- his second wife was a nurse, and during the years that she cared for him, he was apparently injured, either by her or because of accidents that happened while he was being moved, treated, and cared for.
I think, with Hawking's ability to communicate clearly and precisely exactly what he wants, Hawking is letting us know that his personal story is a distraction. There are no more details because Hawking does not want his private life getting in the way of him doing his work.)

Recently, he was interviewed by Jeffrey Kluger, a senior editor for Time, who reports on science and technology for the magazine.

The questions that Kluger asked were questions that other people asked. Their questions were submitted to Hawking three weeks before his synthesized voice answered some of the questions in a video.

Someone asked: If God doesn't exist, why did the concept of his existence become almost universal?

Hawking's synthesized voice said, "I don't claim that God doesn't exist. God is the name people give to the reason we are here. But I think that reason is the laws of physics rather than someone with whom one can have a personal relationship. An impersonal God."

(Hmm. The question seemed awkward, but H's answer was wonderfully direct, and clear.)

An Englishman asked: Does the universe end? If so, what is beyond it?

Hawking replied, "Observations indicate that the universe is expanding at an ever increasing rate. It will expand forever, getting emptier and darker. Although the universe doesn't have an end, it had a beginning in the Big Bang. One might ask what is before that, but the answer is that there is nowhere before the Big Bang, just as there is nowhere south of the South Pole."

(I wished more had been said -- "emptier and darker," and "there is nowhere south of the South Pole" seemed to say, chillingly, that the end of the world was inevitable.)

An American asked: Do you think our civilization will survive long enough to make the leap to deeper space?

Hawking said, "I think we have a good chance of surviving long enough to colonize the solar system. However, there is nowhere else in the solar system as suitable as the Earth, so it is not clear if we would survive if the Earth was made unfit for habitation. To ensure our long-term survival, we need to reach the stars. That will take much longer. Let's hope we can last until then."

Another question: If you could talk to Albert Einstein, what would you say?

Hawking's reply -- "I would ask him why he didn't believe in black holes. The field equations of his theory of relativity imply that a large star or cloud of gas would collapse in on itself and form a black hole. Einstein was aware of this, but somehow he managed to convince himself that something like an explosion would always occur to throw off mass and prevent the formation of a black hole. What if there was no explosion?"

This next question and Hawking's answer fascinated me: Which scientific discovery or advance would you like to see in your lifetime?

Hawking said, "I would like nuclear fusion to become a practical power source. It would provide an inexhaustible supply of energy, without pollution or global warming."

(Wow -- with what happened, is still happening in Japan after the earthquake March 2011, I would think Hawking's opinion may affect the future of nuclear power in our country.)

A man from Seattle asked: What do you believe happens to our consciousness after death?

Hawking replied, "I think the brain is essentially a computer and consciousness is like a computer program. It will cease to run when the computer is turned off. Theoretically, it could be re-created on a neural network, but that would be very difficult, as it would require all one's memories."

Someone finally asked a personal question: Given your reputation as a brilliant physicist, what ordinary interests do you have that might surprise people?

(What fun, to hear Hawking say, "I enjoy all forms of music -- pop, classical and opera. I also share an interest in Formula One racing with my son Tim.")

Some one wanted to know: Do you feel that your physical limitations have helped or hindered your study? And another question was: Does it feel like a huge responsibility to have people expecting you to have all the answers to life's mysteries?

Hawking said, "I certainly don't have the answers to all life's problems. While physics and mathematics may tell us how the universe began, they are not much use in predicting human behavior because there are far too many equations to solve. I'm no better than anyone else at understanding what makes people tick, particularly women."

I wished someone had figured out a way to phrase a very direct "when" question about the world ending, about aliens already here on earth, about where we are heading in terms of the environmental issues such as pollution, over-crowding, running out of water, icebergs melting, all those scary things. And golly -- I wonder if he's following our massive, daily, pre-election news ? Where does Hawking stand politically?

No -- I've told myself -- the "keeper of the cosmos" is not really concerned about the small aspect of the world called the United States of America.

But I've been asking him questions in my mind for a long time. I wrote about him in 2009, STEPHEN HAWKING, HERO.'

Writing about aliens, IS OR ISN'T ANYBODY THERE?, I wrote and quoted Stephen Hawking.

My questions belong, maybe, on a list, along with yours. I really would like to know what would YOU ask Stephen Hawking

Here's the Kluger video.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


What about bargains? John Cullum thinks of himself as a penny-pincher, and since he does the shopping for the Cullum family, of course he's aware of bargains.

Emily reveals that JC Penny has set up a new policy -- the store is cutting its prices, lopping off the "markup." JC Penny has announced that it is selling all merchandise at the "On Sale" price.

John is very impressed.

Is this store really doing this? Well, next time you go shopping, head for a JC Penny's in your area, and check it out, or check it out online. John and Em agree, it would be great if JC Penny's new policy caught on, and other stores did the same thing.