Category Archives: cultcha

Trump’s tenure

Let’s start a pool…step right up and place your bets. We’ll call it “The Prez is right.”

Put $10 in the kitty and claim your prognostication: By when will Trump be gone? I say by Christmas, what do you say? I say he can’t last; the mountain of awfulness and criminality keeps growing. Won’t the populace reach a point where they/we can no longer just swallow? I’m betting on the dormant but still extant honor of the American people. Care to wager with me?

If I’m wrong, and our capacity for stupidity and amorality is greater than I believe, I will be truly shocked and sad…I will also be joining the fleeing horde in Canada or Costa Rica.

I’m guessing el Trumpo will walk away before he’s impeached. I don’t see him having the stomach for that degree of humiliation; I don’t actually think he is a fighter – just a quick brawler, who will capitalize on a size advantage, but who can neither strategize nor go the distance.

And, while we wait for the end, there is a possibility that he will succeed in doing a great deal of damage to our political foundations. Sort of like jack-hammering the crap out it. In the slightly paraphrased, but immortal words of Gloria Gaynor: “We will survive.” Sure, it’s disturbing and even disgusting (like being infested with both silverfish and cockroaches simultaneously), but we’re the folks who withstood the decimation of our population in several wars (Civil and uncivil). We rose up from the ashes of Watergate, and we’ll rid ourselves of the current Donald-slime.

We can count on the fact that Trump will not change his tactics, even if they result in his demise. He’s a stubborn and grandiose narcissist who cannot reflect objectively.

Dasvidaniya, Donald. And, to sort of quote yet another cultural icon, “Don’t let those swinging doors hit you in the ass on the way out.”


The possibility of presents

It’s a rectangular box with some colorful or metallic paper wrapping. Unwrapped, it holds the world of possibilities within the recesses of its tissue-clad unknown.

Thanksgiving augurs the opening of the Christmas/Hanukah season, and with it comes a special kind of hope. We talk of the spiritual, the global, the familial, and the personal hope. There is also another variety. It is the hope of having one’s material desires made manifest.

We may all decry this aspect of self, but it is the rare human who does not lust after some THING. Be it bright and shiny, fashion-forward, electronically cutting edge, or obscure (but meaningful) – in our little yearning hearts we have our druthers: stuff we really want – but for one reason or another we don’t provide to ourselves.

Hearts begin to race at the potential for gratification. Not just the under-10 set either. As the hour of gifting nears, eyes – even those that have seen more than 60 holiday seasons – light up with anticipation.

Some take the high road: carefully disconnecting the taped paper at a slow measured pace; others take the impulsive road: tear it all open in a quick second – going straight for the gusto. There are also the shakers, delaying the final outcome in the interests of a kind of psychic foreknowing.

Then there’s that final moment – the big reveal. Now, most all of us have been brought up to understand that “it’s the thought that counts.” And so, we are to demonstrate gratitude and delight – no matter what we are given. If you’re at all perceptive, however, you can see the visible difference between polite thanks and real gleeful happiness.

And – for the givers – the latter is what we live for. When that happens, we all enter a special kind of heavenly zone where the full possibility of presents is attained.

Two for a Saturday

Burping at the opera (in Italian)

Don Giovani not holding my interest today. I’m tired and maybe I’m now post-opera in my enthusiasm. But the woman sitting on my right is not helping. At random intervals, she burps. Loud enough to be heard; no effort to suppress. I give her the “gaze;” it has no effect. I give up and return to my cocoon of sleepy boredom.

As it often does, Meatloaf’s immortal words come to mind: Prayin’ for the end of time…

Three hours is too long to 1: sit still, 2: hear every freakin’ word sung and, 3: be unable to stand and stretch at will (except for the regimentation of intermission).

What goes around comes around (in a good way)

Out of the Met after 3+ hours of opera. Now trying to get a taxi. It’s the perfect storm of glut of would-be passengers and traffic and I’m going uptown but all the taxis are going downtown. I start walking in the direction of home when I see a cab about to turn onto the street I’m about to cross. I hail him furiously; he gestures that he’s already spoken for (by the woman to my left.) I continue to walk and wave. Another one comes along but, as he screeches to a stop, I realize that yet another woman had been waiting for a taxi too. I defer to her but she says, “No, you take it.” “You were here first,” I reply. She demurs:”But you were over there.” She gestures to the corner where I had lost the first cab.

See, you doubters and bad-mouthers. New Yorkers are gracious and generous. We are.

Look for my new non-fiction book, FEAR OF LANDING, The stories we tell about commitment and their meanings. It’s available on

Also available on is my science fiction novel, RAYMÒN AND SUNSHINE, It’s about the relationship between an autistic man and a female android three hundred years in the future, when what was once seen as a disability is merely a difference.

You can find more information about me and my books at

Purple is definitely my color

There are moments in the theater that take us out of ourselves and into a realm of soul vibrating delight. At the recent performance of The Color Purple, there were so many of those moments – I lost count.

I had the foresight to get tickets in the fifth row – very close was very good in this case. I also was wise enough to attend with someone who I could guarantee would appreciate the quality of this musical as much as I did. This was pleasure that was meant to be shared.

To say we were transported reveals the inherent paucity of language. My heart, the blood coursing through my veins, every neuron danced with joy that only burgeoned as the play unfolded. The masterful quality of the story (which I knew from having seen the movie) was exceeded by the inspirational magnificence of the music. All was made into pure magic by the soaring and rapturous beauty of the voices of the actors – particularly the actresses.

Time stopped in that way we always hope for. There were no nagging thoughts that distracted, no running organizational lists in my mind or planning for dinner. The force of the production was such that it drew me into the moment in a full-on Zen-like experience.

There were tears and laughter. But most of all there was joy. And no, as my friend and I agreed after the curtain came down, we had never seen anything better.

FYI: my new science fiction novel, RAYMÒN AND SUNSHINE, is available on It’s about the relationship between an autistic man and a female android three hundred years in the future. Here’s the link:

You can find more information about me and my books at


Recently, I had a conversation with a woman I know. She’s thoughtful and an all around smart person. She is also quite nice. Our topic was trash TV. From her vantage point, TV itself is mostly trash; a waste of time that would be better spent doing almost anything else.

She was bemoaning her husband’s relationship to television: they’re committed. He is faithful to that relationship, and she thinks he’s obsessed. During our talk, I was empathic and offered insight into his behavior. What I did not do was share just how much television I watch. Let’s just call it “a lot,” and I assure you that would be a true description by anyone’s standards.

Is there a shame sandwich I should be eating? I just don’t feel it. I guess I’m a child of the 50’s (which – for those who don’t know – is when TV started to become something that consumed attention).

In my own defense (and, yes, I must be somewhat defensive) – I do things very fast. No. Really fast. So, whatever is on my to-do list gets done pronto. It leaves me with a lot of down time. I’ve written five books and I maintain this blog, but – still… I have a surfeit of unmandated hours. And, I do think the quality and variety of television continues to expand.

My interests range from the truly trash (I can’t wait for The Housewives of New Jersey to return) to the microscopic evisceration of everything political. We (my partner in crime joins me for this) can watch an entire evening of analysis of caucuses and primaries and relative gains and losses in the run-up to the presidential election. Ah, delegate counts and polls! Love them.

I can also always enjoy any series about OJ. I was there for the real-time extravaganza, and I am delighted to revisit it in the current docudrama. I can get hooked on great fictional drama: Mr. Selfridge, Downton Abbey, or on any number of talent shows: American Idol, America’s Next Top Model, Project Runway.

I must confess that when I go on vacation, I have a bit of withdrawal – and I don’t totally give up the TV drug. But, I’m sure I could live without my media fix. I just don’t really want to.

EEH: The annual Easter Egg Hunt

For more than thirty years, there has been a beloved ritual in my family. It’s the annual Easter Egg Hunt. Children of all ages (including those of the adult persuasion) in my immediate family, gather outside my apartment door at the selected time.

Once the door opens, the usually charming individuals transform into avid, take-no-prisoners hunter-gatherers. Their eyes shine with the prospect of hundreds (I’m hardly exaggerating) chocolate Easter eggs that are cleverly hidden (by me) throughout my five rooms. As they enter the interior hallway, each one is handed a straw Easter basket. And then I say, “Ready, set, hunt!” The madness never takes too long: the strategic running about and ferreting out of the sweet prizes goes by in a blur of seriously competitive camaraderie.

When my grandchildren were young, they were guided and helped by the so-called adults. Now, it’s every chocoholic for themselves. In addition to the eggs, there are always some special items: crème eggs, marshmallow eggs, jellybean filled plastic eggs, peanut butter/chocolate eggs. Beside the eggs and such are BIG chocolate bunnies and also stuffed bunnies or lambs or chicks. One of each for each hunter. You might think this is the entire story. You would be wrong.

After the hunt…there is a post-game show.

What I mean by that is everyone has an option to trade in their chocolate and other candy for non-edible prizes. (See – there is method to my madness. I am trying to mitigate the sugar shock and dental disaster that might ensue.)

I have a big cardboard box that I decorated many moons ago, which I reuse. Inside I put the prizes. Small things of varying desirability. There’s a system – of course. It’s a bit obscure, points and such. But the rules remain the same year in year out. It’s comforting to all. From time to time –given the vicissitudes of relationships and relocation – an old hunter disappears or a new one shows up. They must be taught all the rules…such as: don’t open any closed doors or drawers; there are no chocolate eggs in the bathrooms.

Perhaps that last one is a rule to live by. Think about it…

See you all after the hunt.

Dudamel and the Philistine

Thoughts while listening to the great maestro Gustavo Dudamel conduct the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra at Lincoln Center…

Walking through a field of musical notes. He’s caressing and stroking each instrument and every musician. He’s implacable, poised.

It’s too beautiful, I can’t dare crunch. But I’m dying for a peanut. I was starving and bought a tiny bag of nuts for $6.50. But I can’t eat them…

Dudamel conducts with every joint in his body. He’s balletic, authoritarian, lyrical, masterful…light, intense, soft, grand,

This is Fantasia-like (the animated film).

He’s eliciting the music as if by magic. He’s playful, commanding and using the energy of the cosmos.

He’s like the flying Wallendas. No net.

Audience and orchestra are one.

He uses no score. He is the music.

It’s transporting. Now I know what that word really means.

Something disturbing about the big English translation above the head of the soprano singing in German. I’d rather not know what she’s actually saying. Is this an American thing?

I’m watching a woman frog-march a 10-ish year old boy up the aisle.

Trying not to crinkle. I’m starving for a peanut, wanting it more than ever.

Recalling many concerts with my grandson, Alec. Pulling his arms down as he – while rapt – let his impulse rule.

Very old woman, dress covered with big flowers. A wig atop her head. She’s taking many minutes to exit her row. As she walked up the aisle unbalanced, I saw her heavily made up face. Was she really old? Was she real?

A youngish woman ( I can only see the back of her head so far) directly in front of me decides to put her glasses on top of her head midway through. No consciousness of the “hat” effect – blocked my vision just a bit more. Fortunately, by this point, I don’t care too much.

Time to covertly check my phone again for the time. (It’s an old, small flip phone – so I can do it pretty discretely). I wrote on my small pad: “It’s 4:30” and showed it to my husband. He pointed to the massive watch on his wrist.

The audience seems to have reached critical mass: neck rubbing, sighing and coughing breaking out.

Note to self: You don’t have the stamina for this or the rigor or the attention span(?)

My feet hurt. New shoes. A big mistake.

Covert eating of the peanuts.

Wishing to be the person who is transported for more than the first half hour.

Now, as the truly beautiful orchestral strains gather, I am closer in my soul to Meatloaf: praying for the end of time.

Took some Rescue Remedy midway. My husband whispered, “Really!” with what I guess was dismay.

Dudamel is still magnificent – even though I am a philistine.

Having an attack of the princess and the pea. The thin gold chain around my neck is weighing heavily.

My vision is getting a bit fuzzy, probably from looking down at this page.

Another note to self: go to concerts for children.

And…having drunk a half bottle of water…I really have to pee.


Sunday at the London Philharmonic at Lincoln Center. Very serene, very highbrow. You think? Here’s what occupied my attention: Chair dancing, thrown stuffed animals, kids taking off each other’s shoes. Parents! Not present.

One row back of us was a line of four under-eight-year-olds who were sitting directly behind my party of four. Since I was to the right of center stage, I had to look to my left, with my peripheral vision bringing the incessantly dancing little folks into my line of sight. Why do people bring these small beasts to a high concept cultural event? Yes, I know, to give them an early appreciation. But what about me, I whine. What about my appreciation? They are mighty spoilers. Sucking up the energy when I want to focus on the timpanist or the soaring clarinet-player or the world renowned pianist. However bad it was for me, it was worse for the person on my left. Her little monster kicked the back of her chair continually.

Then, at intermission, the invisible parent was seen and heard saying to her brood: “Well, YOU have to decide if you want to stay.”

No. Can’t WE decide? Put it to a vote? Please.

They stayed. One in my party had a nicer-than-it-would-have-been-if-I-had-done-it talk with the kicker. That stopped. But, then, there was the  denouement. At the end we all stood and applauded; we were rewarded with an encore. Oh, have I mentioned we were in the fifth row? So, as the leader drew back the bow on his violin, two other random children, who were in the front row, jumped up with fairly large stuffed animals in their hands and rushed the stage. They placed their stuffies on the edge of the stage (I guess so they could have a clear view of the instruments) and then began to dance. How wonderful. There was much consternation in our part of the audience. People’s heads were swiveling, trying to get the attention of the mother of these two. To no avail.

It is one of the things which I find appalling in this world: The access that urchins – who are as yet unhousebroken – have to magnificent cultural experiences that can be ruined by their noise and behavior. The insult is on so many levels…It’s financial for sure, and it’s unfair. I’ve invested time and have a legitimate expectation of  being transported to a higher plane – not pulled down into the raucous playground. I’m thinking a law is in order here, or at least the possibility of a citizen’s arrest. And, may I say, let’s revisit the notion of corporal punishment. I wouldn’t mind administering a sharp whomp on the noggin.

When I was a child there was a children’s section in the movies. Let’s bring back that concept. Put all the as-yet-uncivilized ones in their own pen, screen it in with something high, dense and soundproofed, and let them carry on.

From baseball to the infinite

The Adventures of Coolie Coolstein: Episode 59

There I was, watching the game, and the thought that filled my mind was: Tomorrow is a Coolstein day. It was the call across the non-linear and non-reality (as we know it) event horizon. Coolie’s calling. He does need me after all – to tell his story. And so I shall.

Does Coolie play baseball? No. But you-know-who does, indeed. Brownstein is the lickety-splittest shortstop and pitcher and home run king. Whew, that pooch is everything (to me).

But first, let’s talk about the twirling of towels or pennants or – what are they actually? – that has become de rigueur for fans at a ballgame. I think it’s stupid. It’s one of those ‘we’re little monkeys’ things that humans do (and more often when sports are involved). Remember the wave? Remember “no batter, no batter!” What about going bare-chested and painted? And streaking. Ah, yes. Mindless monkeys.

And, now, a bit of nostalgia…Growing up in Brooklyn as a Yankee fan put me at odds with – well, just about everyone. But, in truth, I was attracted to the winning. Always have been. Not so politically correct, I know. One is supposed to root for the underdog. But, why? I say. What about the overdog?

And that brings us back to Brownstein, an overdog if ever there was one. “Can do” learned how to do from that puppyluka.

It’s the bottom of the ninth, no – not in last night’s game – the ninth dimension of The Greater Reality, the series that DaddythebigDaddywhoseyourDaddy created and produces out in a galaxy far, far away. Coolie was just whooshed there (that is, in fact, the technical term – if you don’t believe me, ask Daddy). He was cold and hot at the same time. Something most of us would hate, but his innate coolness provided an inner moderation of the extremes.

“I’m good. And, anyway, what the hey?” he said, when Brownstein checked in on his state of being.

He was, for now, (and – as we know – there really is nothing else but now) cast as a player in the series. His character’s name was “Coolie,” which made it easier for all concerned. In this “play” (wink, wink), he is now confronted by two awful but strangely attractive entities: a blue, semi-humanoid, but decidedly female being, with three over-sized teal eyes in a semi-circle at the top of her “face” (an octagonal that sat, sans neck, directly on a long slender torso). She had no nose or eyebrows or any other feature, but she had the warmest smile which went from ear to ear (they were Spockish), and revealed just a little of her double rows of tiny pointed teeth. I know. She doesn’t sound that attractive, but she was like a magnet for the Cool One.

The other “person” of interest was a low-slung, eight-legged guy whose body was translucent (just like a jelly-fish. Yes. You know who.) Clearly a guy, by the stubble on one “face” of his cube-like head. He looked stunned; four big brown lashless eyes, opened very wide.

This episode of TGR takes Cool, and his new/old gang, to an earthlike world where they get to discover an exotic locale called the upa wesite. Very scary but interesting inhabitants and not bad food.

As usual, TBC. And oh yes, there is a thread hanging. Let it hang…for now.


I used my first emoji today. Yes. This is my confession. A dear friend “signed” his email to me with three of those crazy little faces. Since I think the world of him, I was nonplussed. I stopped and considered the possibility of employing the tiny visages myself. UH OH.

Once you step over the line, it’s a quick tumble. And I fell. There I was, seriously trying to decide which expression most accurately represented my emotional state.

Can someone help me? Is there help for this cultural mush? No. But there should be. It’s kind of addictive. You join in with the folks. You’re one of the gang; part of the crew. The short cut to belonging. Emoji-transcendence.

What’s next? Watching every episode of The Real Housewives of New Jersey? Oh, wait a minute. I already do that. I guess I’m not the authentic taste-maven I think I am. I’m just another mindless, sheep-like follow-along-er. I’ve turned the gold of resistance into the dross of acceptance. And I have to admit to a singular lack of shame.

What is the matter with me?