Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Emily Frankel, as each year ends, traditionally asks her husband, John Cullum about his New Year's resolutions.

John, as usual, hems and haws.
They know from the many New Year's eves they have shared, their resolutions for this year won't be much different from what they were last year.

Sunday, December 20, 2015


I love this video.

It's my all time favorite dance video -- a compilation of great moments from films that most of us have seen more than once.

My writer friend, Peggy Bechko, sent me anther dancing at the movies -- different clips, but golly, great moments. Hold onto your hat -- you'll have fun dancing along with these scenes, too.

Thursday, December 17, 2015


Do the Cullums, John Cullum and Emily Frankel argue?  Have serious clashes? Angrily disagree?

Yes. Just about every issue in their lives gets them arguing--disagreeing--. sometimes angrily, but more often with passionate conviction.   

John says Em wins the arguments but Em is certain that they both win--she absorbs his point of view and he realizes her point of view is more practical.

Monday, December 14, 2015


Here's me sometime ago, talking about my most favorite gift. In the video I mention my husband's job.

John Cullum is not in this show today, but "Scottsboro Boys,"  which closed, was a cast, music, and a memory that stays with him. Off Broadway, or on Broadway, it's not the success of the show, but the family feeling he had with the boys that he cherishes.    

Anyhow, I feel the same way about my favorite gift -- it's not very expensive, not very rare -- just a gift I was given in a brown manila envelope, stuffed with crinkled-up newspaper.

Why the gift is still my favorite, most cherished gift is not because of the way it looks, but what the giver figured out, and why the gift was chosen.

Friday, December 11, 2015


Will an epidemic happen again?

YES, an epidemic can happen again, but now there is an Ebola vaccine.

It was an experimental vaccine that was tested in Guinea for more than a year. Results from the clinical trial in Guinea tell all the experts evaluating the trial that that the vaccine is safe and 100 percent effective.

"There were no cases -- zero. It is a game changer," Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, co-leader of the trial, told

Developed by Canada's public health agency, now manufactured by Merck, the vaccine prompts the immune system to produce antibodies against the deadly Ebola virus. The strategy for using this vaccine includes immunizing close friends, relatives, and neighbors of people infected with Ebola to create a protective ring around them, and contain the virus. A single dose of the vaccine provided some 4000 exposed people with complete protection from the virus after 10 days.

Right now there is also another vaccine that was tested, approved, and is being manufactured by Johnson & Johnson. Drug manufacturers, a/k/a "Big Pharma" companies, are in the business to make money -- sell drugs as well as prove and market new drugs. The competition may help keep the price of the vaccine down.

A few days ago the Wall Street Journal reported that in November a feverish boy stumbled into the waiting room of a Monrovia, Liberia hospital and tested positively for Ebola. Investigating him, his family, and friends, the head of Liberia's task force told reporters, "Another Ebola outbreak is highly unlikely due to enormous progress in detecting and responding to the disease, but we're going to be living with Ebola long time.”

Grab onto that. There's vaccine, a lot of money is being spent and made, but Ebola won't be an epidemic that threatens the world.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


Have you ever been seriously broke?

We are not poor now, but this is the time of the year to remember how things were when we didn't have money for groceries, and other essentials.

Saturday, December 5, 2015


Since 1959, Barbie has shaped girls' ideas about life, love, and looks. Now Mattel's latest new doll, "Barbie Hello," actually chats with her owner.

With a microphone in her necklace, batteries in her thighs, a USB port in her back, Barbie answers questions and records the girls' replies.

Over the years, Barbie's been a model, astronaut, paleontologist, Air Force jet pilot, surgeon, NASCAR driver, a rap artist; a singer at the Grand Ole Opry, a WNBA basketball player, and also run  for president three times.

She's a fabulous female that young females love and emulate -- neat, slender-perfect figure with a very small waist and long perfect legs, and on her pink perfect lips a confident, self-satisfied smile.

Nevertheless, Pulitzer-prize winning novelist, Carol Shields said that Barbie’s expression, with “its dumb shine of self-absorption, its trippingly tartish look of one who is out for all she can get, is eerily disturbing.” Also, Barbie being a blonde, white doll person has been criticized. Though Mattel created a Black Barbie, also a Hispanic Barbie, using the molds for White Barbie, Ann Ducille, professor of American and African-American literature at the University of California, contends that “white Barbie dolls are the norm," and quotes a black mother who said that although her daughter played with Black Barbie, she asked for the "real Barbie."

The fact is, real Barbie's responsible for eating disorders. The doll is 11.5 inches, which, at a 1/6 scale, would make her 5 feet 9 inches tall. Her vital statistics have been estimated at bust, 36 inches, waist 18 inches,  and hips, 33 inches. Furthermore, 1965's Barbie came with a book titled "How To Lose Weight," with a chapter titled "Don't Eat," that inspired a major hospital in Finland to say that Barbie lacks the 17 to 22 percent body fat required for a woman to menstruate. Mattel explained it away, saying that Barbie is a model, and a movie star -- they have to keep their weight 10 to 20 pounds below what's "normal," because the high fashion outfits they wear invariably add bulk to one's figure.

Yes, Barbie has tons of high fashion clothes, as well as haut couture outfits for Theatre Date, Movie Date, Party Date, Friday Night Date, Sorority Meeting, plus outfits for Tennis Anyone, Ski Queen, Icebreaker, and outings with her boyfriend Ken. He's been her sweetheart for 43 years. In a press release, Mattel announced that they had "grown apart and needed some time alone, but they would remain friends.” Mattel has also publicized a Wife version of the doll, which hasn't appeared yet -- perhaps Ken will be reestablished, or maybe Barbie will be living with her boyfriend.

Meanwhile, "Barbie Hello" now records and transmits her chats.

ToyTalk, a San Francisco-based artificial intelligence firm, using voice recognition technology, advises Barbie on how she should respond to questions users ask, and stores these conversations in the cloud, where they can be studied, and used for newer Barbies and other toys.

By now, most of us are accustomed to Google and Facebook mining our private messages, family photos, and Internet histories, but sooner or later NSA, FBI and other agencies will have access to all that personal data, and there will be hackers.

Okay, I've always been somewhat uncomfortable with the Barbie doll being what girls want, seek, and stand for, but now that she's chatting with girls like a sister, friend, aunt, or parent -- I am very uncomfortable.

Friends, Romans, countrymen, and blog pals, here's some logical, sensible, loud advice -- DON'T BUY IT.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


Sometimes on the highway there's a warning.

Sometimes you just keep going.

You put on your survival hat and travel down the winding road on foot, on a bike, in an auto, or donning your wings.

Hey, "if you come to a fork in the road, take it." That's what Yogi Berra said.

Why? Probably it's what Berra learned from doing what he did in baseball.

If you don't move down the road, maybe it's because you don't know where the road might be taking you. Even so, take a step, then another, and see whatever is there to see -- the yellow line, cracks in the road, rocks along the side, or maybe the foliage as you look beyond the trees and wonder where you are going.

Here's a remark for you  to remember:

"A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it," said Jean de la Fontaine, 17th Century French poet whose fables are still quoted nowadays.

Travel lightly -- don't pack all your clothes, your mementos, your special favorite things. The less you carry with you, the easier it is to take strong steps and get from where you are, to another place where you can pause and look around.

Ayn Rand said, "People create their own questions because they are afraid to look straight. All you have to do is look straight and see the road, and when you see it, don't sit looking at it -- walk."

Okay, if you're tired, you can't help recalling other long walks that led to empty spots and dead-end places, dark places -- where time was wasted looking for ways to get out, or ways to back out while traveling slowly backwards.

Hey, even moving backwards you are progressing. Back, sideways, forward, or up or down is progressing -- it's life's exercise.

You could quote Hawking, Einstein, Margaret Thatcher, Buddha -- a  lot of major thinkers talk about the roads we travel on. You could sing that song:

"Life is a winding road,
with many twists and turns.
You must make the right choices,
or you will crash and burn.

There is always a chance,
the wrong choice will be chosen.
But do not fret, and do not fear.
The right choice you will hear.

Life is a winding road,
with many different choices.
Be careful what you choose,
for there are many different voices."

Yes, sing but don't judge, attach praise, or fears, or definitions. Be there. Just be there as you go.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


Isn't it wonderful -- THE MET BREUER, an expansion of the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, has opened in thet the former home of The Whitney Museum of American Art.

It offers the public  a change to experience modern art like they can't get anywhere else. Afrter 15 milion in renovations, the Met Bruer features an exhibiton of works by n of Indian modernist artist Nasreen Mohamedi. Rrarely seen, early photographs by Diane Arbus (opening July 2016)   Mid-career retrospective of the contemporary painter Kerry James Marshall (opening October 2016), in November 2016)
continuous in-gallery performances by resident artist Vijay Iyer, a newly commissioned sonic experience by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Luther Adams, and an all-day staging in the Met’s three locations of the U.S. premiere of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s unfinished composition Klang

I did a bit of sampling of each, to gshare with a you a sense of what this new Museum is doing for culture.
Nasreeb Niganedi

Juthese samples give you a preview of whats new, imortant, signifancat, selected to reach us, the audience for modern art.

Diana Arbus's twins --a famous series

Kerry Jam es Marsahll

Vijay Iyer
American jazz pianist, composer, bandleader, producer, electronic musician, and writer based in New York.

 John Luther Adams music at Bruer

Stockhausen's Klang...

i HOPE these samll samplings of what's new, consdiered important, significant, that you will experience if you head for ht emet Bruer. I find it  NOT wonderful, but amazing, that this is what I have to look at and stufy, and hear, and see --study, if I want to know what's happening in the the art world, and decide that my reaction has value for others, for whom the current show at the MEt Bruer will be ....confusing, not ythrilling, a bit boring, but will create a churning within me, to know more and identify more with what artsists are thinking and talking about nowadasys.

Sunday, November 29, 2015


Emily Frankel and John Cullum have fun, remembering John's playing  the role of Charlie Anderson in this Broadway musical.

They agree that it changed their lives our lives. Aside from the fact that John won the Tony Award for his performance -- his earnings as the star enabled them to renovate and take over the 4th floor of their building and make their home larger.

Thursday, November 26, 2015


John Cullum's Thanksgiving Email to Em:

"I am from a large Southern family of which my mother was the matriarch, and every Thanksgiving was an big, exciting affair with aunts and uncles and cousins, some of which I only saw once a year. Emotions were high, and along with love and good spirits were moments of family squabbles of epic and frightening proportions that sometimes resulted in enduring resentments. This tradition still continues with my nieces and nephews and though we may not give as much thought as we should to the pilgrims and Indians, it’s a time when our different families renew their connections to each other and that’s a lot to give thanks for.

But the most memorable Thanksgiving dinner for me was the one a young redheaded dancer made for me in her Artist In Residence studio in New York City. It wasn’t a turkey, just a large chicken, and it never occurred to me that this gorgeous girl could even cook, but boy, she could – all the trimmings, fresh cranberry sauce, stuffing, sweet potatoes, vegetables and all. I could hardly believe it. There she was, the best dancer I had ever seen, gracefully whirling around a tiny kitchen, whipping up a dinner as good as any I had ever eaten, and all for me. Never had a Thanksgiving meal been made exclusively for me and me alone, and with such love. It was an experience I couldn’t walk away from. And I never did. I guess Emily decided if I was going to keep hanging around, she might as well marry me. Which she did.
John Cullum

Thought this might please you, Em. Your loving hubby."

Monday, November 23, 2015


What are the sometimes ridiculous, useless, purposeless things. we find ourselves doing?

John Cullum and Emily Frankel wonder, even as they tease each other -- are the silly habits something to stop doing?

Friday, November 20, 2015


Last week, MedicalDailyNews. com announced, "adults who average less than seven hours of sleep at night, have a higher risk of mental impairment, cardio vascular disease, and other illnesses."

As I swallowed that, in bold print the next paragraph said, "New research suggests that sleep deprivation may be a factor in Alzheimer's. Since the buildup of a sticky protein (Beta amyloid) in the brain increases with lack of sleep, it may start to cause damage long before actual memory problems develop."

Oh no!  Oh yes !!!!

This week a report declared, "Curtail your daily TV watching! Watching more than four hours of TV, increases your Altzheimer's risk."

Oh gee no!  Oh golly Yes!

So what do you do with the latest health scare news? Probably get less sleep, because you're worried about getting less sleep.

Each week there's something -- results of a questionnaire, a poll some poll-taker did to prove something with a statistic -- oddball conclusions like people over 55 who smile a lot are 50% more depressed than people 35 to 45 -- tidbits that are grabbed by the media, and blown up into big news.

Hey, remember all the health scares -- the NO NOs  about coffee, artificial sweeteners, eggs? And saturated fats -- they've been a huge No No since 1950.

Five minutes ago the latest big news --"margarine is a killer" was immediately repudiated by  UK'S Daily Telegraph saying "research shows that saturated fats do not cause heart disease."

Golly, we've got  52 weeks of health scares. Over and over we'll be hearing about cholesterol, bladder, heart, heartburn, rheumatic-digestive-diabetic-asthmatic troubles, various private-personal places on our bodies that medications will help, and tons of new things that compel you to believe that you'll achieve a healthier you if you get your doctor to prescribe them.

Facts. figures, testimonials -- they become bricks that build up our live longer routines, though they do not help you live longer. For instance, we are strongly, every day, encouraged to take 2 pain pills a day (NSaids that can create serious problems) rather than take 6 of the acetaminophen (that can cause liver problems if you use it continually.)

Whenever I hear about taking those 2 pills, not the 6 (I ended up in the hospital for a week after taking NSAIDS.), I shout shut up! That's a lie.

Okay, everyone has a common sense self -- a him or her who needs to be alerted and consulted, when we get these weekly health scares. Want to know what my common sense practical, realistic, knowledgeable Dr. Em-self says about all this?

Dr. Em says yell like hell at the TV. Yelling  at the TV definitely makes you feel better, wiser, healthier.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Ted Koppel -- former "Nightline" anchor, in his new book "Lights Out," warns us about a massive cyber attack."

I've thought about that, but shoved it out of my mind. Gee, what can we do? New York City is a prime target. Move out of the city? Go where?

Today, there's a hit TV series, "Doomsday Preppies," that's into its 4th season -- a hero with a popped collar, alligator shirt, sweater over the shoulders, and gas mask. There are rich people who have bought deep underground, Ritz Carlton type of designer bomb shelters, far away from major cities. Now, also, online you can find websites that advise you how on to prepare for small disasters like power outages, as well as big disasters like Super Storm Sandy, floods, fires, and also, the possibilities of jihadist terrorists.

Back in the fifties, after we got the hydrogen bomb, we were encouraged to build shelters by President Truman, then Eisenhower, then JFK.

There was a Civil Defense Department that gave out advice on how to build one yourself for $100 to $200.

During the sixties, fears about the bomb quieted down, as arms-control talks and a limited nuclear test ban evolved. Shelters were converted into wine cellars, mushroom gardens, recreation rooms, or storage areas.

Koppel said, unequivocally, "Now is the time to prepare. The time to panic is if we wait until it happens. Former secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, told me she thinks the chances of a cyper attack are 80 to 90 percent. Though government agencies need to establish some kind of plan -- FEMA, and the Department of Homeland security don't have plans yet.  Even so, every person needs to prepare."

Wow -- what should we do if the SHTF -- Shit hits the fan is the term used in the Modern Survival Blog's 55 ways to prepare. Guys, click on the link and study the list -- make notes, and think about where you could go, and what you might need.

Yes, my husband and I have talked about this more than once, but we have no definite, real plan. We continue to live the way we've chosen to live. Yes, our eyes and ears are ready to receive warnings; yes, we more or less know where tools, important papers, and irreplaceable mementos are stored. But No -- we are not preparing for doomsday. It doesn't feel right to start tearing down, reshaping our life style. It's a do nothing p o v.

In hurricane season, you know there will be hurricanes. Nevertheless, boarding up the windows as the season begins does not make sense if nothing specific is heading your way. You watch the news for trends, and think about plans.

However, Koppel, describing his own plans, says "having a store house of food in your home that will last the family three months, is a very, very sensible precaution."  He explained that he had a store house in Maryland near his home -- with a generator -- one he's had for a few years. "I live in a part of Maryland where the power goes out a lot. I did order and stocked freeze-dried food, enough for my grown kids and grandkids."

Okay Ted Koppel -- I am looking at online videos.

Guys I am advising you as I am advising myself -- feel out what you need to do that makes sense, and make your own list of the major ways -- maybe just 10 ways -- to start preparing. Fear is a fence you can climb over, and check out what's there.

After I watched this video, I put "Water" at the top of the list I've started to make.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


Emily says John Cullum is a remarkable 'bedmaker." She describes the way he makes every sheet and coverlet smooth and perfect.

Listing his talents as a repair man, plumber Emily recalls the way the leak in her bathroom was fixed. Aside from singing, and acting, there's no doubt about it, John Cullum can "fix" things that ordinarily take an expert to fix.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


This 17th century picture of the wheel of fortune speaks to me, like William Shakespeare's King Lear does.

The August 2005 hurricane Katrina was the costliest natural disaster as well as one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States. An estimated $71 billion has been spent restoring and rebuilding New Orleans. 
       As the tenth anniversary of this disastrous event was celebrated, we learned that income for whites has soared. The African American population has higher unemployment and is poorer than it was in 2005. What's thriving in New Orleans are young, middle-age whites.

The October 2012 hurricane, Super Storm Sandy, was the second most costly hurricane in the U.S, that will end up costing about $48 billion, after all the funds are finally allocated. 
       Today, we see photos of smiling people who are back to leading their normal lives, but we continue to hear about homes, roads, schools, and businesses, that are not yet restored.

I keep thinking of what Shakespeare's King Lear said, in Act 4 after a horrendous storm:
"The storm itself, the winds and rain the low lying land,
Poor naked wretches, whereso'er you are,
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
Your loop'd and window'd raggedness, defend you
From seasons such as these? O, I have ta'en
Too little care of this!"

I know Lear's speeches from creating a line-by-line adaptation of "King Lear" in contemporary style language, for my husband John Cullum.  Alas, John preferred the classic "King Lear."

I remember how Sandy affected our lives in New York City -- with no electricity, heat, hot water, phone, or food except what was getting spoiled in the refrigerator -- everything stopped for a week, and afterwards, it took quite a few weeks or things to normalize.

Golly, if I had a home or a business that was destroyed by Sandy would I fix it up? The Atlantic coastline, beaches, low-lying lands, global warming, worsening weather, ice melting in the arctic -- all that was involved in creating Super Storm Sandy -- could happen again. And, according to Time,
Huffington Post, Washington Post and The Associated Press, all that was done to rebuild New Orleans, would be erased by one monster storm.

Actually, thinking about what might happen again, I relate more to what "Call of the Wild" author, Jack London, said about fate: "Darn the wheel of the world. Why must it continually turn over? Where is the reverse gear?"

That's what we need, immediately, right away, quick! We needed it yesterday. We need it more than ever today.

Sunday, November 8, 2015


 I saw this in a magazine.

That title got me shuddering. I don't need more bad news reminding me that our country is in trouble. I don't need to add my voice to the outcry about guns and mentally ill guys.
I hated the title of that article, and immediately started reading it. The criminal justice professor at the University of Alabama, Adam Lankford, dug deeply into mass shootings and published the fact that the U.S. has more people who own guns than any other nation, and  that the U.S. has had more massacres than any other country in the world. He also noted that shooters in our country, more than shooters in other countries, were more likely to use multiple weapons and carry out their rampages in schools or workplaces.

He investigated what it is about American culture that incubates mass shooters and said, "Crime and deviance occur when there’s an unhealthy gap between people’s dreams and aspirations -- our culture has people reaching for the stars and slipping and falling probably more often. Our public mass shooters, based on comments they have left in notes, most frequently cite blocked goal achievement (such as being expelled from school or fired from work), or negative social interactions (such as being bullied by fellow students, coworkers, or supervisors). Mental illness can distort perceptions of such things, and exacerbate the person's inability to deal with them in a non-violent manner. That school and work represent these grievances may explain why American mass shooters are more likely than those in other countries to target schools and workplaces."

Nodding yes, feeling no because the Professor was summing up for me what I have heard before in smaller doses, I put the magazine in my "NO  pile of subjects about which I don't want to write, like, for example -- political candidates. I love my country. I don't love what's going on right now.

Okay, Professor Lankford -- I have to admit -- loud and clear -- that your title fired me up and has inspired me to say -- I pray that President Obama will find a way to restrict gun sales, and STOP gun sales to the mentally ill.

Thursday, November 5, 2015


Emily wonders if they're doing videos in order to become famous.

She explains that she wants their videos to be a "John Cullum blog" -- revelations about John's ideas and point view on various subjects.

John enjoys the idea that a thousand people might see the videos and see and hear what's on their minds. Even so, he wishes they'd talk more about Emily, and talk less about him.

Monday, November 2, 2015


I O T -- the Internet Of  Things  -- is affecting our lives.
I never heard of it till the I O T was discussed in Davos, Switzerland, at the World Economic Forum Annual meeting. Sheryl Sandberg, the 2nd in command at Facebook, the "lean in" lady, who often irritates me with her excessive advice about femininism, lectured about its growing power and importance.

I paid attention. It's a network that contains information about all the personal and business devices that are wirelessly connected to the Internet, which means that many of them can respond to sensory input and data without direct commands.

That sounds kind of scary because it is kinda scary.

Fourteen billion things are on it. Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt, says that soon the distinction between what's on line and what's offline will disappear.  "It will be part of your presence all the time."

Hmm.  Is that good?

Yes, is what the Google guy would certainly say. More and more things will be able to update you and keep you alerted to new stuff -- things personal, private, and public. Like sensors in roadways that can warn you of traffic jams -- many cities use the Internet connected networks to manage city streets, highways, as well as air traffic -- patients with Parkinson's or cardiac arrhythmias can be monitored with wearable sensors. There are devices that provide parents with real time info about an infant's body position and alert them if something is wrong, same as a coffee pot that knows if you slept poorly and makes stronger coffee, and the fridge with internal cameras, that can make you a shopping list.

There are 14 billion thingumjajigs...wowy woo!!!!!!

B U T -- (it's a big BUT) -- it's a whole new world for hackers to invade. Many devices -- the AppleWatch for an example -- will tell hackers your name, address, credit card, where you are, and what you're doing. The fact is, our private worlds have been mostly like the TV in your house -- you watch it, but it doesn't watch you. The I O T has been changing that.

Devices gather information about you. The guys who have manufactured  the device often sell that info to other companies who use it to sell you their products. Hackers hacked into a Smart Doll and made her spout sexy passages from the bestseller "Fifty Shades of Grey." Hackers broke into a Jeep's inter-connected system and abruptly cut off its transmission as the Jeep was traveling 70 MPH on a highway. It's wonderful that health and fitness can be monitored 24/7 by wearables, but hackers are lurking in and around many of these devices. Hospitals worry. With phishing techniques (such as using the name "admin" and password 1234), hackers have managed to take over surgical robots, drips, even defibrillators.

The National Security Telecommuncations Advisory Committee warned, in a report to President Obama, that there was a small and rapidly closing window to protect smart devices from serious security threats.

The number of devices is soaring -- according to chip maker "Intel," it will be 50 billion in the next five years, and in the trillions by 2025. Today most people don't bother to protect smart gadgets with a password, though one weak link can allow hackers to access all your device -- allowing hackers to turn on cameras, crash your car, or maybe, just burn your toast.

Don't say to yourself it's just toast, it doesn't matter. It matters! Take a look at the I O T, and as soon as possible become your own security specialist.

Friday, October 30, 2015


Like it or not, we are participants in how hundreds of popular products are ranked. Our opinions inspire advertisers to spend their money selling us more.

Our facial expressions often reveal what we feel about this or that.

You've heard about Neilsen ratings. Arthur C. Nielsen founded his company in 1923, offering his research, on food and drug purchases. After acquiring an "audimeter" that measured radio sounds, he put a device into 1000 homes that collected which radio shows were tuned in. Around 1950, he got the device measuring which TV shows were tuned in. And that became known as the Nielsen ratings, the results of which are sold to major purveyors, including CBS, NBC, and The Walt Disney Company.

Now, we have "Affectiva," a company that measures attention and pleasure, based on our facial reactions. This picture labels where, on a face, you can discern emotional reactions.

There are 43 separate muscles that keep your face functioning for eating, breathing, seeing, and every twitch -- every eyebrow lift, forehead furrowing, mouth liking, disliking, or grimacing.

"Affectiva," a six-year-old company, is based in Waltham Mass. It has approximately 1,400 clients, (including Kelloggs and CBS.) The founder, Rana el Kaliouby, working with autistic kids who had a hard time reading faces, designed a system to help these kids know whether a person was smiling, or frowning.

You pay $2,500 and Affectiva, has software that watches for you, any commercial, show, or performance you specify, and records and measures engagement, boredom, amusement, and displeasure.

There are already rival companies. New companies are starting up here and there. Market testing is something to sell that a company can make millions with. Other possible customers are law enforcement, lie detecting, airport security, and political candidates.

This makes me cringe! I feel this is another way that big money manufacturers who sell us with their ads-- their truths, not necessarily true truths-- are distorting who and what we humans want and need, by analyzing and codifying our emotions into computer algorithms that help them sell us more whatever.

Okay, take a look at this video. See what you think and feel about this up and coming way of inspiring us to buy more-more-more.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


John says, "Arthur Miller and I were more than actor, famous playwright pals."

Emily recalls visiting John in Washington, D.C. during the tryout of Arthur Miller's play, "The Archbishop's Ceiling," at the Kennedy Center.

John tells more than one story about the difficulties with the play and reveals what Arthur told him about "solving" a play.

Saturday, October 24, 2015


Into our homes comes an x-rated world.
Television, phone, mail, and the Internet bring the stink of everything that's shocking into our private rooms like smoke. We're breathing it, tasting it, hooked on it. Every day without fail, we are exposed to murders, violence, robbery, and prurient behavior.

In the eighties, Tipper Gore (Al Gore's ex-wife ), worked tirelessly to get warning labels for records marketed to children, and published a book, "Raising PG Kids in an X-Rated Society," in which she speaks rationally about the sexually explicit and violent lyrics in rock music and videos. Though Tipper promoted awareness and labeling, not censoring or banning, her efforts didn't produce legislation. You and I know that today pop songs, movies, TV award shows and specials -- as well as books and comics -- are more than ever jam-packed with violence and sex.

How dare we hope that our children are okay? The rhythms and alliterative rhymes, like favorite foods, are swallowed, digested, absorbed -- become  part of their minds and hearts.

What am I shouting about?  Surely you hear it, feel it, and see that our children are being abused by the many things in today's world that we support -- yes -- Support -- by WATCHING entertainment that advertisers create to sell their product.

Boycott the violent shows that we're hooked on?

Sure! You could join some anti violence group. You could write your congressperson. You could sign a petition if there's a petition.

Golly, there are so many things that desperately, urgently need to be protested. The only immediate way you and I can stop the violence that's deeply part of our daily life is to NOT PARTICIPATE as audience.

Am I saying DON'T watch TV?  DON'T see the blockbuster kill films? Go cold turkey?


It's a tiny gesture. But if enough of us do that, it'll be felt by the advertisers, who affect the creators, who succeed, who make money, by imagining and inventing and selling evermore horrifying, shocking violence.

Yes, it's just a drop in the bucket, but one drop, another, and another gets to be a bucketful, another, and another.