Monday, July 21, 2014


We were in bed, watching Letterman the other night, and chuckling. There was a joke about scientists learning to turn off the brain -- suddenly a TV clip of George W. Bush talking to reporters about technology, stuttering, losing his train of thought -- ha-ha's -- reporters laughing at poor George, in over his head.

I laughed. I still shudder when I think of GWB, thinking reflexively why oh why did he get elected, and re-elected. Yes, I know how it happened. It isn't funny. To me it's scary and sad.

John Cullum, my husband, who would rather be watching sports, lets me pick what we watch before we turn out the light. In one flowing sentence he said he didn't like George W. Bush, but the disrespect for GWB or for any past presidents, bothered him -- "Em, it's wrong."

I avoid politics when I'm writing a blog. But John made an important point. I knew he was thinking of Obama -- finding it painful to see Obama belittled, dismissed as a muddler, called weak, indecisive. John and I have chatted about some of our friends who voted for Obama, who nowadays complain about him, echoing the negative remarks they've heard so often from the gang in Congress -- the guys who've committed themselves to stopping anything that the President is determined to fix.

The gang is disrespecting us, the millions who elected Obama. Even so, because John respects many friends and relatives who supported George Bush and voted against Obama, my husband John -- the family man, John Cullum -- is saying quietly but loud and clear.  "Don't let your politics blind you to the fact that politics is men and women working to accomplish things they think are good for the family of man."

.... The Family of Man ...  the words kept resonating. They comforted me.

After we turned off the TV, John and I held hands as we usually do, till one of us drifts off to sleep.   

Friday, July 18, 2014


My husband, John Cullum, and I have been watching Al Jazeera America news on TV. It seems to have fewer and shorter commercials. Watching NBC or CBS with their usual four to six commercials, often a repetition of what we just saw, gets us grumbling. "I hate this."

We've enjoyed watching Al Jazeera America. When I blogged about Al Gore ("Our Almost Next President,",) I learned that he'd sold his "Current News" channel to the owner of Al Jazeera Arabic & English -- Gore is now completely out the picture. The owners are primarily Islamists, who have certainly expressed negative views of America.

January 2014, when Al Jazeera America was formed and Time Warner Cable included it its listings, and made it available to Americans on a local channel, there was a big hullabaloo. Articles in the New York Times, and UK Guardian said that Al Jazeera was providing subtle, and insidious anti American commentary.

Whoa -- we've have been watching it just at dinner time. Most of the newscasters are clear speaking and previously worked for BBC and American Channels. Not a word have we heard that couldn't have been broadcast on NBC or CBS.

Okay, we have watched only for a brief time. The presentation of news on Al Jazeera America is somewhat less interesting than American news which dramatizes with headlines -- sells news with titles like Scandal, Trouble, Conflict. But Al Jazeera America covered Christie, Benghazi, Republican anti-Obama debates, Putin's doings; today's news is their news -- immigration, and Gaza-Israel.

The fact is, warnings about Al Jazeera news being offensive wouldn't impress us -- it would inspire us to have a look. John and I like or dislike things based on what we feel, and what we feel is based on a lot of things that make us what we are -- cautious, liberal, curious grownups, who are not unwilling to learn something new. 

So will you watch Al Jazeeera America? Why not take a look and see what you feel. We feel okay about peeking in on the island where this supposedly scary guy is reposing.  

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Here we are, John Cullum and Emily Frankel, back in 2012.

What this video says is what John and I would say if we made this video again today.

As the first episodes of "Northern Exposure" were filmed, we commuted from our home in Malibu, to our home in Redmond, Washington, where the show was filmed.

It was a new life -- John arranged a first reading of my play, "Shattering Panes," using the Northern Exposure cast.

We chuckled about John's character, "Holling the Bartender," with his young blonde, other wife (Cynthia Geary), and the headlines that were made about Holling's private parts.

Saturday, July 12, 2014


I have watched this woman, Judge Judith Sheindlin, on and off, for years. I find TV Judge Shows relax me, distract me, kind of rev me up before I do my daily exercises. Judy is fascinating, but my schedule has changed, so I found two other distracting judges.

Let me introduce you to Judge Alex Ferrer, 54, married, with two children. He grew up and was educated in Miami. With his JD degree from the University of Miami School of Law, he's been a police officer, trial  lawyer, a renowned Florida judge, and presided over the "The People's Court" for nine years.

I like his looks; like the way he's always calmly in control, even when he's put off by disrespectful or seriously ignorant litigants. You'll see in this short video that his manner, and ironic sense of humor are fun.  Alas, he recently announced that August 29, 2014 will be his show. 

My new, definitely favorite judge right now is Marilyn Milian. She reminds me of me -- not just her red hair -- she's friendly, down-to-earth, often amused and unpredictable. Out of the blue, she'll expresses with a grunt (even a shout), what she's really feeling. If a litigant is fudging with the truth, she knows it and says so. She was so angry at a plaintiff recently, I wondered if the network executives, worried about losing advertisers, would fire her.

I have to admit, Marilyn isn't just a distraction that gets me exercising. I have, on a couple of occasions, postponed my workout and watched an entire segment.
Hey, maybe my favorite judge is a perfect distraction because so many things are annoying -- things you take for granted suddenly change -- the time, the price, the procedure changes. The rules change, and favor the sponsor much more -- intolerably more -- than what you can accept. You are forced to find something or someone else. Marilyn gives me a chance to rage against changing times.