Friday, March 1, 2013


Will it be another year when American democracy -- government for the people by the people -- will be stuck?

Will we be chanting, raving and ranting again over last year's litany -- debt ceiling, size of government, Obamacare, immigrants, voter rights, unemployment, environment -- again, and again, on that fiscal cliff?

Okay, tears come to my eyes because ... because I'm worried, because I'm saddened, remembering better days --yeah, sure -- probably because I was younger and ideals seemed IDEAL-ER than they do now. Anyhow, tears means I'm feeling sorry for myself -- sorry that we're into the new year, and so many things that I love -- that give me pride, make me utterly American -- oh my God -- there are so many wonderful things about America that are stymied, disappeared, no longer the law or the passionate belief of my neighbors, the millions of Americans, who I thought were like me.

Okay. I'll stand up straight and tall and sing this with you -- sing it very, very, very loudly.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Have you seen any e-cigarette commercials yet? 

This photo (on the left) was an e-cigarette ad in my February Time Magazine.

In the television commercial (below), you'll see a very satisfied guy smoking NJOY KINGS, the top selling e-cigarette. This TV commercial has been running nationally since December, 2012.

It's the first smoking commercial to run since December 31, 1970, when Virginia Slims   ran its final commercial on the Johnny Carson Show, one minute before the new year began, and commercials for cigarettes -- ads in newspapers, on TV, in and on buses, taxicabs, signs on highways and in Times Square -- were illegal.  

Yes, back in the seventies, in between Nixon, Watergate, and all that madness, there was a huge hullabaloo over cigarettes and cancer.

Well, nowadays, you buy a starter kit, a small rechargeable battery, a replaceable cartridge, and flavors. When you inhale (drag on the cigarette), it activates the cartridge, which vaporizes the solution in the cartridge, into vapor that looks like smoke but disappears in seconds. The tip of the e-cigarette is blue so that if you are smoking in a 'no smoking' area, it lets people know you are smoking an electronic cigarette.

The NJOY KING promotes the fact that it looks and feels like the real thing.

Invented in 2003, e-cigarettes  account for less than 1% of the current $80 billion U.S. cigarette market. But sales for e-cigarettes have doubled every year since 2008 and will probably reach $1 billion this year. And Big Tobacco is watching, making plans. (Hey, think "Apple" -- doesn't this sound like when Apple was starting out?)

After you've bought your starter kit ($40 to $175, depending on how fancy, reliable you want it to be), the e-cig itself costs around $8, and lasts about as long as two packs of conventional cigarettes. It's the same length, same diameter, odorless with a plastic ash tip that resembles glowing embers -- it has a papery feel to it -- even the “filter” is a bit squishy -- yes, it reproduces the full experience of smoking.

Oh yes, there are worried health guys. A recent University of Athens (Greece) study proved that nicotine vapor in e-cigarettes led to an increase in airway resistance, making it harder to breathe and leading to lower levels of oxygen in participants’ bloodstreams. Yes, other authorities, are criticizing the methodology that was used for the Athens report, but the survey is bad news.

Nevertheless, the three companies comprising Big Tobacco are currently buying up electronic-cigarette companies, and creating their own versions. Lorillard recently acquired e-cigarette maker Blu, which has an estimated 25% of the e-cig market share. Reynolds is currently testing an electronic cigarette called "Vuse." They're thrilled e-cigarettes are currently unregulated by the FDA, so they can be hawked on TV, and in print.

In 2009, there was a meeting of the experts -- Jonathan Winickoff, M.D., chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics Tobacco Consortium, and Jonathan Samet, M.D., director of the Institute for Global Health at the University of Southern California, joined Joshua Sharfstein, M.D., principal deputy commissioner of the FDA, and Matthew McKenna, M.D., director of the Office of Smoking and Health for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  All these folks met with the FDA's expert, Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D, who reported that the FDA's tests detected diethylene glycol, a chemical used in antifreeze that is toxic to humans; in other samples, the FDA detected carcinogens, including nitrosamines. Yes-yes -- the products tested contained detectable levels of known carcinogens and toxic chemicals to which users could potentially be exposed.

The FDA said, "Cancer risk in humans is reduced by e-cigarettes where nicotine inhaled per puff is much less than [about  one tenth] in a cigarette puff.

Hey, gee, one tenth is ... not good.  It's dangerous.

Friends, Romans, Countrymen -- (former smokers and you new kids on the block) -- doesn't it sound great -- grownup, sexy, sophisticated, groovy-cool? 

Yes!  They're seducing you as they did before, with advice and carefully chosen concepts, and wonderful words from advertisement experts.

Don't try it, don't go back to smoking an electronic cigarette -- you'll get hooked again -- that's what Big Tobacco will figure out how to do.

Here's David Letterman, trying e-cigarettes with Katherine Heigel.


Monday, February 25, 2013


Why do I not feel quite right, clear, enthused about anything right now?

The weather?    Is that why I feel as if a wintry grey mood has descended on me?

Okay, I'm bruised. I'm still trying to recover from the election lies, attacks, ugliness -- the sense that my ideas of right and wrong, my sense of what's important, my vision of realities -- golly -- so many things I counted on are no longer to be trusted.

I was sort of recovering until I heard that the Republican candidate was stunned election eve, when he learned that he wasn't winning, and his campaign manager had to press him to make the phone call and concede the election. Oh boy, I was stunned, amused -- sneering ha-ha-serves you right, as I realized how blind the other guy had been. He allowed himself to avoid negative polls and commentators that said what he was promoting was hurting him, turning off voters.

It's made me wonder if my devotion to President Obama was/IS blindness. I need to listen to the criticisms and pay attention to the attacks on his competence.

I can't. I'm so glad he has a second term. 

Okay -- it's water under the bridge. But what life in America might have been like if the other guy was president, still frightens me -- yes, scares me, (don't even want to type his name) -- how he tried to buy the election makes me aware of other things I am avoiding.

I don't feel hopeful or energized by my work, by a major project that John Cullum (my husband) and I have considered. It's a two-character play I'm writing, in which we create a video on stage, and dramatize what happens between the two of us that makes us what we are today.

It's a good idea!  And yet I can't bring myself to work on it.

Dumb reasons, personal vanity -- I don't want to figure out how to wear my hair, my makeup, my costume. I don't want to focus on ME as a performer.

Those days are gone. I've changed, am changing. I am accustomed to being attractive, a mature, youngish-looking woman, and now I am an older woman. I look okay in our short videos, but I don't want to be onstage for an hour or so, being scrutinized, and revealing my age (whether I like it or not).

I'd rather write a book about aging, than perform right now as ME.

So I'm dealing with listlessness, despondency, a slump, and writing this post to explain, out loud to myself, why I'm stuck.

Solution? Sure! Cook, sew, paint, fix my hairdo, wear a little makeup every day for a while. That will make me feel better. Hey, I'm lucky -- when I was a very little girl, I learned secret that most females know -- wearing make up helps you feel better about yourself.

I've grabbed my eyeliner! I'm ready to look up, look around me and see what's pretty.

"All in a hot and copper sky, 
The bloody Sun, at noon,
' Right up above the mast did stand,
No bigger than the Moon.
Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, no breath no motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean."

Thank you, Samuel Coleridge Taylor, for giving me those stanzas, from "Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner."