We’re closing in on the end of 2006 … less than six hours to go.
New Year’s Day and my birthday form calendar bookends for January, the month I use each year to set goals for the coming year. The end of December would be a good time to reflect on the past year to see if I met those goals, but I was so busy last January that I barely planned a thing and certainly didn’t write down any goals.
As I look back at 2006 today, I don’t know if I achieved any goals, but I’ll share a few things that did happen along the way.
New job responsibilities – A year ago I began to produce and sometimes host Sunday morning community affairs radio programs that air on eight radio stations in DC. This was in addition to my existing job producing and voicing commercials and promos on those stations. Fortunately I have volunteer help from some very cool people like Diner Girl, K.J. and Mary. I have also met and interviewed some interesting leaders and opinion makers including executives from Goodwill, the Maryland Lottery, AAA as well as US Senators Mary Landrieu and Ben Nelson. In addition, I started a regular feature called Boomer Talk.
Atlanta – an interesting company meeting that helped improve my status. Learned a lot too and had face-to-face time with people I network with online.
My back – I was working out a couple of days a week during the summer. These were very light workouts, so I thought, but one day I apparently lifted a dumbbell incorrectly and hurt my back. I recovered weeks later, but I still struggle to exercise as much as I need to.
Katrina repairs – More than a year after Katrina, rehab work finally began on my sister’s house that had been flooded by the now-famous 17th Street Canal levee break in New Orleans. When complete, the house will be sitting several feet higher and will have all new interior walls.
New boss – she’s great, unique, knows her stuff.
OBX – spent Christmas weekend at Nags Head, North Carolina.
In a few hours, I begin my annual process. This time I plan to write down my goals. I’ll share some of it later.
Two famous people, well-known to older Boomers, died this week: former President Gerald Ford at age 93 and singer James Brown at age 73.
Gerald Ford is the only U.S. President to come to that office without being elected. Michigan voters sent Ford to Congress thirteen times, starting in 1948. He was appointed Vice President by President Richard Nixon in December, 1973 when Nixon’s VP Spiro Agnew resigned after pleading no contest to a tax evasion charge. Less than a year later, Nixon himself resigned and Ford became the 38th President.
Ford had a busy and unique presidency. He pardoned Nixon for crimes he “committed or may have committed” relating to the Watergate break-in, ended the Viet Nam War, signed a nuclear weapons test ban treaty with the Soviet Union, vetoed sixty-six bills, was the target of two attempted assassinations in the same month, fell down a flight of stairs in front of dignitaries and cameras while exiting Air Force One, was made fun of by comedian Chevy Chase, barely got the Republican nomination for President in the next election and lost that election to the relatively unknown Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter – all in less than three years.
Many pundits said on TV today that Gerald Ford was the right guy at the right time, and history seems to agree. He helped the country transition from a decade of turmoil and appears to have been a genuinely honest politician.
James Brown was called the Godfather of Soul. His dance moves inspired Michael Jackson and his hair style inspired Rev. Al Sharpton. Everybody knows who he is, but if you grew up in the white part of the segregated south in the 1960s, you only knew a few of his songs that made it onto the pop radio stations. But those are memorable songs like “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag” and “I Got You (I Feel Good).”
Brown was noted for a few things outside of the music world too. He played manic preacher in the “Blues Brothers” movie in the early 1980s. He spent 15 months in jail after a drug-fueled car chase in the late 80s. In between those two milestones, he had a comeback mainstream hit song with “Living In America” and in 1992 he won a Lifetime Achievement Grammy.
James Brown didn’t do anything half-way. Rev. Jesse Jackson noted on the MSNBC web site that “He was dramatic to the end — dying on Christmas Day ... He’ll be all over the news all over the world today. He would have it no other way.”
If the goal of a great vacation includes doing some things you don’t get to do at home, I’ve achieved that goal on this trip.
I’ve walked on the beach with a loved one, photographed a lighthouse, shopped at a store that sells only dog-related items, turned the alarm clock OFF on a weekday, spent time in a hot tub with my wife sipping delicious red wine and watched a sunrise.
This might be the best thing, however: an hour ago I walked out to the beach alone, looked up at the clear sky and saw billions of stars. I identified the big dipper (without the help of my wife, who actually knows about this stuff). This is only the second time in my life I’ve seen this many stars. The other time was 20 miles north of here in a part of the Outer Banks with fewer tourists and less ambient light. I actually saw the Milky Way (according to my wife).
The soundtrack for tonight’s star-gazing was the pounding surf. I heard no people sounds, no cars on the nearby highway … just surf. What a beautiful night in the middle of a great vacation. I am one lucky man tonight.
For the first time in my f-f-fifty-something years, I’m spending Christmas at the beach.
I’m sure the holidays are different there. For one, Santa probably gives the reindeer a rest and so he can make his entrance towed by a 4x4 Suburban. There aren’t many chimneys, so the Big Guy just shows up on the deck. We’ll leave him beer and shrimp instead of milk and cookies. The Elves might wear bikinis and thongs (uhh, hope not). Instead of mistletoe we’ll stand under sea oats (with special permission from the National Park Service).
I’ve been visiting the Outer Banks for 20 years. I’ve stayed everywhere from Corolla to Ocracoke Island, sampling every type of accommodation from a tent to a 14-person rental house. My wife and I used to go there three or four times a year, but our last trip was to the First Flight Centennial at Kitty Hawk three years ago. We have serious beach withdrawal.
Our friends in the Raleigh area own a wonderful beach house less than a block from the ocean in Nags Head and they’re letting us use it for a few days. We’ll wake up early Christmas morning, photograph the sunrise, let the dogs run on the beach, eat breakfast and then open our presents. A friend is meeting us there and the three of us will eat dinner one night at our favorite restaurant.
(I shot these photos at Cape Hatteras a few years before they moved the lighthouse 2900 feet SW in the summer of 1999)
We’ll take nature hikes and go shopping at the outlet mall. We’ll photograph nearly every sunrise and sunset. We often climb the lighthouses at Corolla and Cape Hatteras, but they’re closed during winter, so we’ll photograph the exteriors … again. We never get tired of this. (Border Collies usually don’t like water, but don’t say that to ours)
We haven’t had a good vacation in years, so it will be extra special to spend Christmas on the beach in North Carolina.
The New Orleans Saints will turn 40 next year. They started out great - their very first play was a 94 yard opening kickoff return for a touchdown by John Gilliam. For the most part, they haven’t been that good since. They lost that game and the next six games of their first season. They didn’t play a post-season game till their 20th season, and they’ve only entered post-season five times in their whole existence (most recently in 2000).
But this year the Saints are on fire! Two weeks ago, they beat the Cowboys, a team that historically isn’t used to losing, especially to the Saints. Their timing couldn’t be better because 15 months after Hurricane Katrina roared through the region, New Orleans has barely begun to recover. Its citizens need something to raise their spirits, and a winning season seems to be doing the trick.
Yesterday they lost to my current local favorite Washington Redskins, but they are 9 and 5 and in the playoffs.
New Orleans fans have always supported their Saints in spite of the team’s perennially dismal performance, but there were strong indications last season that the team owner was ready to move the Saints to San Antonio, their temporary post-Katrina home. There were doubts the storm-damaged Superdome could be repaired by this season. Maybe it could never be fixed. The New Orleans area economy was in a shambles. Would the fans be able to afford to continue their support? Would anyone want to go to the games in the facility that came to symbolize disorganization, destruction and death resulting from the worst hurricane to ever hit the United States?
The first Saints home game this season stopped the skeptics, with a sold out crowd of 70,000 and a victory. And now near the end of maybe their best season ever, it appears that the beloved black and gold are saving New Orleans, or at least the spirit of New Orleans.
Often people ask why a city spends tax dollars on a sports team, especially when the teams make so much money and can easily afford to pay their own way. This is one of the answers: a pro sports team can be the centerpiece to a city’s pride and economy. A pro sports team can make a region feel good about itself, which can snowball into revitalization, increased business, employment, etc. A team can save a city.
This is one of those cases.
The Saints could just save New Orleans. At the very least, the team helps give residents and folks across the country a sense that the city that care forgot won’t be the city that the country forgot.
Wow, another one. Out here in the country, we see a lot more activity in the night sky than we did when we lived in the suburbs closer to DC. Our sky view isn’t perfect, however. As the population of the town to the south increases, so does the ambient light. But there is no town to the north.
Cool. Look at that.
And last night we counted at least ten streaks of light as we searched the night sky for the Geminid meteor shower. That's the most we've ever seen. We would have seen more, but it was 35 degrees - so we went back inside.
“Bernie, stop what you’re doing and get down here right now.” “OK, what’s up?” “Trust me; get down here now. You know Brian Mitchell, don’t you?” “I’ve never met him, but he’s a former Redskins player with his own show, right?” “Yes. And he’s from Louisiana, like you, and he’s a gourmet cook and he brought some home-made shrimp etouffee to the office today. Better get down here quick!” “Thanks, Mike, I’ll be right down.”
Ten minutes later, I’m standing in the producer area of the sports talk radio station that is part of the station group I work for. As I look at a cast-iron pot filled with this authentic-looking dish, Mike introduces me to Brian Mitchell.
“Nice to meet you.”
We chit-chat for a minute about his home town, Katrina, etc. Then I spoon some of his shrimp etouffee onto a plate. I’m still a bit skeptical. I know what really good shrimp etouffee tastes like and I’m finding it hard to believe a 38-year-old former pro football player with his own radio talk show can cook this like my Cajun relatives.
One bite. Another bite. Oh my God. A third bite.
“Man, this tastes exactly the way my Mother and her sisters made it. She was one of those Cajun-French Louisiana natives with an X at the end of her name.”
Brian laughed and thanked me. I kept eating.
This happened more than a week ago and I can still taste the shrimp etouffee. The color was perfect (a unique tan-brown color), the consistency just right (a little thicker than soup), and there was just the right amount of spice (enough cayenne pepper and Tabasco sauce to dance on your tongue without making your eyes water).
And he used the same kind of old-school cast-iron cooking pot Mom used.
It is amazing how much of my Boomer youth flashed through my head as I ate a plate of food cooked by a guy younger than my Mom’s cast-iron pot … a memory trip kick-started by a delicate mixture of butter, flour, rice, spices and shrimp.
When: 6:30, Saturday night Where: Sam Goody’s in Frederick, Maryland Who: two teen-aged counter clerks sporting blacker-than-natural-black hair in a bed head style, a twenty-something mom in line asking for Mortal Kombat for PlayStation and me buying a Barry Manilow CD.
I’ll pause here for a moment while you laugh at that last part.
OK, to continue … I used to practically live in “record” stores, but for several years I’ve mostly purchased CDs online or at Border’s. Tonight I went to the local mall to buy a birthday present for my sister, a brand new Barry Manilow CD filled with old songs from the 1960s. In the 60s, Barry would have been the same age as the mom and the original versions of the songs on this CD were released on records. CDs and Play Station hadn’t been invented yet. Mortal combat wasn’t a game for kids.
This odd combination of factors struck me as funny, but in a sad way.
The just slightly older than Boomer age Barry, whose career ain’t what it used to be, records songs from his youth, our youth. My 50-something sister likes these songs wants to hear Barry sing them. The music is on a format we could not have imagined in our youth, the CD. This media format that still seems new to many Boomers will be as rare as records in another five or ten years, replaced by another thing we couldn’t have imagined a decade ago: downloads.
Boomers may rule the world, but we sometimes do two things our parents did that we didn’t like – judge young people and dwell on our own youth. I’m doing a little of both tonight. For a moment I found myself judging the hair and clothing styles of the counter clerks, just as my parents judged mine at that age. Then I began to compare the music buying experience and it’s place in life to how I felt thirty years ago and wondered how the very private ear-bud listening iPod pattern of today’s youth could be nearly as important as the camaraderie resulting from the very public “whose got the best-sounding stereo and the newest album” music-sharing of our youth.
The irony of this whole scene makes me laugh. But I’m not sure it’s funny.
The basic plot: a retired, widowed, 50-something, former boxing champ who now runs a small restaurant but misses his former profession gets back in the ring to face the current world champ.
The star: a 60-year-old still-working actor who played a boxer in his wildly successful early movies but hasn’t had a real cinematic hit in nearly a decade misses the adulation and gets back into character as the boxer.
The movie: Rocky Balboa.
I wouldn’t joke about something this ridiculous.
Sylvester Stallone’s new movie comes to a Cineplex near you soon. I guess they forgot how many Rocky sequels were released, so they named this one for the character. For the record, the last one was Rocky V, released in 1990.
You probably know I believe age ain’t nuthin’ but a number, but I also believe that some facets of life should be viewed as age-appropriate. A 50-something, out-of-shape former boxer fighting a 20-something, buff boxing champ is too unbelievable, even in a movie.
I bet Rocky wins the fight. I bet he loses at the box office.
Sly isn’t the greatest actor on the planet, but he certainly deserves better roles than this.
Fifty-plus Boomers grew up in the newspaper generation. Many of us got our news from the print media, as did our parents. Radio always had local news, but we wanted to “read” and “see” the news, so we relied on the daily papers. Yes, papers with an “s” – many cities had more than one newspaper, even into the 1970s, and there were multiple editions of each to accommodate “breaking news.”
By the 1960s, television began to take over as a primary news source. National nightly newscasts expanded to 30-minutes in 1963, with anchor stars like Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley.
Technology enabled live coverage of breaking news to grow, and the 60s provided many opportunities for picture-ready stories. Big stories of that decade included: the assassinations of John Kennedy (1963), Robert Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (both in 1968), the first human lunar landing (1969) and race riots and the Vietnam war through the whole decade. For many of us, however, the newspaper remained the primary source for the complete story.
The newspaper and coffee were the center of my Sunday morning ritual from the 1970s until today. My paper of choice for thirteen years has been the Washington Post, and I’ve subscribed to at least the Sunday edition for most of those years. But today – and I literally mean today – I began what I believe will be my new Sunday ritual. A laptop and coffee. I read my Sunday paper online. Why today? Because for the third time this year, the Sunday Washington Post was not there when I went out to get it. My home delivery person screwed up one time too many.
I occasionally read Post articles online anyway, but today I tried to read everything I would read in print on the internet instead. I still like the feel of paper and ink, but this laptop screen never misses a Sunday. And the online version is free.
Admittedly this newspaper ritual is a bit old school. Younger Boomers and Gen-Xers probably don’t read the paper all that much. At least one study says 65% of people get their news from TV; newspapers are a distant second with just over 28%. The internet, of course, provides hundreds or thousands of additional sources, so who really needs newspapers?
I haven’t given up on newspapers. But my Sunday ritual may have changed permanently.
This one is courtesy of KJ. She posted it a few weeks ago and I’ve been saving it for this weekend. Please play along and let me know when and where you post your answers.
1.Egg nog or hot chocolate? Hot chocolate 2.Does santa wrap the presents or just sit them under the tree? Wrap 3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? Both. Some shrubs are all red, some green, some white; multicolor on the larger tree in the yard. Several strings of multi-colored lights on the tree, some are blinkers and chasers. This year we’ve scaled back, but usually it wouldn’t take much for us to enter the Griswald zone.
4. Do you hang mistletoe? Why limit seasonal opportunities to just one place. 5. When do you put your decorations up? Thanksgiving weekend (I took the above photo ten minutes ago). 6. What is your favorite holiday dish? Lasagna. Stop laughing. 7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child? Most of my childhood holiday memories are good. Up early, ate breakfast, opened presents. 8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? Not sure. Probably age 5 or 6. 9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? No. 10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? Many strings of lights first, then ornaments. Many of the ornaments are hobby-related (dogs, travels). 11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? Love it. 12. Can you ice skate? No. 13. Do you remember your favorite gift? I liked them all. No favorites. 14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Time with family and friends. Watching It’s A Wonderful Life again. 15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Pumpkin pie 16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Decorating the house, hanging Christmas cards on long ribbons in the family room, writing our “Christmas letter” to include in the cards we send. 17. What tops your tree? A Santa with a Border Collie at his feet. 18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving? Giving. 19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? The Christmas Song … chesnuts roasting on an open fire, ….. 20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum? Yuck. 21. What's number one on your Holiday list this year? Time with my wife and friends. And maybe a nice new briefcase for my lap top computer.
It’s hard to believe, but we really did do it. It had been at least ten years since the last time, so I felt that we were a little out of practice. But I was confident that if we stayed focused, we’d leave smiling.
It only took a few minutes, and we were both pretty happy when we finished. I got exactly what I wanted and she got some of what she was hoping for.
Years ago we swore we’d never do this the day after Thanksgiving, but we wanted to get some things and thought the mall would be less crowded at dinner time. We were right. A few minutes at the camera store, a few more at the calendar kiosk and 20 minutes in Macy’s and we were done. I got everything on my list and my wife got half of hers.
The mall was only slightly more crowded than on a typical weekend. It helps that this mall is in a city with a population of 100,000. The malls where we used to live, 20 miles closer to “the big city,” would have been much more crowded, even at dinner time.
Most fifty-plus Boomers remember exactly where they around noon on November 22, 1963 when they heard the news that President John Kennedy has been assassinated.
Seeing November 22 on a calendar used to bring it all back. I was standing in the lunch line at school when I overheard the teachers talking about it. I then told the kids on either side of me and the news spread through the cafeteria. School closed, Mom picked us up; we watched the developing story on TV for several days. I even saw Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald on live television.
Each year on the anniversary, I watched and read the stories, and brought it to the attention of anyone who would listen. Even as the “remember when” stories became less frequent over the years, I continued to make note of the date days in advance.
This year is different. I’ve been so busy lately that I didn’t remember in advance, nor did I remember it all that day. A news story on the radio during my drive home Wednesday night reminded me.
Gun shots that changed the world, an assassination with details unresolved to this day, an event that made Dealey Plaza and the Texas School Book Depository household names now seems like just another chapter in a history book.
Forty-three years later, I remember that day like it was yesterday. Yet if I hadn’t been listening for a traffic report on that news radio station, I would have completely forgotten about it.
1. My challenging marriage has survived ten years. 2. My sister’s Katrina flooded home will be livable again in a few months. 3. A friend found a place selling pumpkin pie by the slice and dropped a slice off at my office yesterday (I’m the only one at home who likes it). 4. I’ve survived yet another round of cuts and firings at work. 5. Our friend who shared Thanksgiving with us continues to survive breast cancer. 6. Some very cool people read this blog regularly. 7. Living in the older half of Boomerville is more blessing than curse.
Orenthal is craving attention again. “If I Did It, Here’s How It Happened” is the name of his new book. All but one of the television networks passed on an interview; Fox will air it this week during the end of sweeps month (shocker!). In the promo for the interview, we see O “crying” as he says “I can’t do any more of this.” Don’t forget – he’s an actor. An actor who currently has no stage, film, TV show or audience.
I long since gave up feeling sorry for this man. Once upon a time he was one of the most-loved boomers in America … football legend, popular product pitchman (remember the Hertz commercials with him running through an airport?) and an aspiring actor.
Our complicated court system and the media circus of the century found him both not guilty (the trial verdict) and liable (the civil trial) for the bloody death of his ex-wife and a friend of hers.
The media has ignored him for the past couple of years, so he launched yet another self-destructive scheme to get some attention. This all but proves that he lost brain cells on the field in Buffalo.
What a cool life … you go out for a Sunday drive, at 180mph for three or four hours and you get paid to do it.
Of course, it’s not as simple as that and you’re not out there alone, but when you’re a NASCAR driver, you are at the heart of it all. Jimmie Johnson is the 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Champion. He finished 9th in the final race of the season today, but that was enough to put him at the top of the points. And the paycheck for winning … a check for $6.2 million.
TomKat, shmomkat. I really don’t care. Get them off of my TV. Maybe, MAYBE I’ll see a Tom Cruise movie again some day, but I just don’t care about his personal life, even though he is a Boomer. I don’t want to see and hear about the multi-million wedding in an Italian castle. When I’m in the mood for scenes from Italy, I’ll watch the Travel Channel.
I think Tom’s whole life is an act, but the character he plays in real life just isn’t as exciting as Ethan in Mission Impossible or as endearing Jerry in Jerry McGuire.
Today, my TV choices will be limited to TV Land and the History Channel (because even the Weather Channel mentioned the wedding – it’s going to rain in Bracciano today). The wedding starts in four hours and the residual media coverage hopefully goes away by the end of Monday’s ET or Access Hollywood.
I’ve mentioned more than once on this blog that Fall used to be my favorite season and Spring has taken over. Maybe I should rethink that. Maybe I shouldn’t have a favorite because all four seasons have merit.
Fall in my part of Maryland seemed to be short this year. Leaves changed color and fell at almost the same time. But the color was beautiful.
This tree is just outside of my kitchen window.
These leaves are on my front lawn.
Fall has taken on negative aspects in my life during the past few years, but honestly, it is still a wonderful time of year.
Dad was a reluctant vet. He joined the Navy in what turned out to be the last year of World War II after years of deferments because of his engineering background. He served part of his tour of duty in the radar room of a ship during its last trip across the Pacific and back.
He returned home to his old job, met a nice young woman and got married. After the birth of his second child, my sister, he bought a lot in a newly-developing part of New Orleans called Lakeview. He built a small but sturdy house himself where he lived until a month before he died.
I wouldn’t call ours a particularly good father-son relationship. I rejected many of his beliefs and ignored much of his advice. I didn’t take his often rigid, judgmental, black-and-white views on life seriously. He was concerned about my somewhat flaky life and career choices. Our relationship began to change when I bought my first house. He seems to have finally accepted that I was going to do what I was going to do, whether he approved or not. I finally accepted that he was often right after all.
Parkinson’s disease robbed Dad of his body first, then his mind and eventually his life. Had his mind stayed sharp, we might have eventually learned how to truly communicate with each other. I remember one conversation a year or two before he died in which I tried to tell him how much I appreciated him. I’m not sure he knew it was me he was talking to.
Five weeks after moving into a nursing home, he seemed to decide that time was up. He stopped eating. Based on his wishes that he not be put on machines, the staff made him comfortable. We knew it was the end, and I flew home to see him one more time.
That Sunday evening, November 11, 2001, Mom, my sister and I were together at his bedside. We watched him take his last breath.
Sticks and stone may break your bones, but words … can completely change your life. And it doesn’t take many words.
Recognize these? - “you end up in Iraq” - “we’re ashamed” - “Macaca” - “What?”
The Iraq comment comes from former and potential future presidential candidate John Kerry, a Senator from Massachusetts. His comment was a botched joke that some people interpreted as meaning soldiers fighting in Iraq are of questionable intelligence. “… make an effort to be smart, … If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.” Regardless of his intent, the quote most likely ends his chances to be a candidate for President.
The “ashamed” quote was spoken by Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines on stage in England three years ago. "We're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas." Her comment was spoken on stage in England just months after singing the National Anthem at a Super Bowl game but weeks after the President order an invasion of Iraq. A large number of country music fans didn’t like that, and now the group’s career is a shadow of it’s former self.
George Allen recently lost his bid for a second term as Senator from Virginia. Video of him saying “let's give a welcome to macaca, here" during his campaign may have contributed to his losing the election. He was referring to someone of “middle eastern” appearance at one of his campaign stops. The word macaca is an insult in some cultures.
Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Sara Evans and Carrie Underwood were nominated for Female Vocalist of the Year. The Country Music Association Awards Show broadcast showed newcomer Underwood and the three veterans on a split screen. Seconds after the presenter said, “and the winner is Carrie Underwood!” Faith started to wave her arms around as if she had won, then looked toward the camera with an angry, disbelieving face, shouted “What!” and ran out of camera view. Rumor has it she said other derogatory things; her web site says otherwise. Draw your own conclusion.
Careers can turn on a phrase. Maybe there should be a support group for celebrities who have made verbal missteps. John, Natalie, George and Faith could form a club of famous people who screwed up their career in fourteen words or less.
Some people at the upper reaches of Boomerdom are obsessed with youth. Youth is still the measure of worth, it seems. Mid-term Boomers worry about turning 50. Gen-Xers obsess over turning 40. Does any of this really matter?
This is on my mind today because I heard the comment that “Kevin Bacon certainly isn’t aging well.” Exactly what does that mean?
Here is a recent picture of Kev:
Here he is in Footloose:
Of course he looks older! He was 26 when he made Footloose and looked like the 17-year-old he played. He’s 48 now … a Boomer.
Is he not aging well because he looks his age? Because he no longer looks 26? Or 17? Forty eight isn’t old, and forty-eight looks younger now than it did in the 1960’s, for example. Our definition of age has changed.
What about Kevin’s wife Kyra Sedgewick?
The same person who told me Kevin Bacon isn’t aging well couldn’t believe Kyra is Kevin’s wife. Why? Because Kyra looks “so old.” Kyra is seven years younger than her husband.
She plays the lead in the new TV series “The Closer.” Among other things, her complicated character is concerned about turning forty.
Kyra’s first on-screen acting began at age 16 on the soap Another World. Even though we barely know her, we’ve seen her in dozens of films with superstars ranging from Tom Cruise (Born On The Fourth Of July) to Julia Roberts (Something To Talk About) to John Travolta (Phenomenon). She was born 8 months after the youngest Boomer.
The person who made these age comments is a 50-something like me. Neither of us looks like we did at age 17 or 26. But neither of us looks 50-something. We both battle weight gain and hair loss. We each reach for glasses to read anything smaller than this. Some people might say we aren’t aging well either. I would disagree.
I said in the very first post on this blog that I’m uncomfortable with saying my age out loud. One reason is because I don’t want people to assume anything about my attitudes, abilities or health because of my age.
For Boomers and everyone else, age is just the number you get when you subtract the year of your birth from the current year. It is part of who we are but it does not have to define us.
Alright, list junkies, here’s another one. I saw this on K.J.'s blog and couldn’t resist. How about you? ------------------------------------------------------- 1. What is your occupation:write, produce, edit and voice radio commercials 2. What color are your socks right now:khaki 3. What are you listening to right now:the whirr of my laptop and rain drops hitting my window 4. What was the last thing you ate:Ice Cream 5. Can you drive a stick shift:Yes, but it’s been awhiile. 6. If you were a crayon, what color would you be:Brownorred 7. Last person you spoke to on the phone:Jennifer at work 8. Do you like the person who sent this to you:yes 9. How old are you today:50-something 10. Favorite drink:Coffee 11. What is your favorite sport to watch:NASCAR 12. Have you ever dyed your hair:yes 13. Pets:two Border Collies, 3 finches and a few fish 14. Favorite Food:Chinese and Italian, sometimes Cajun, always cheesecake 15. What was the last movie you watched:The Da Vinci Code 16. Favorite day of the year:tie between my birthday and New Year’s Day 17. What do you do to vent anger:Scream in private or work out 18. What was your favorite toy as a child:model cars 19. What is your favorite, Fall or Spring:Spring (used to be fall) 20. Hugs or kisses:Hugs 21. Cherry or Blueberry:Cherry 22. Current living situation:Married, 2 dogs, no kids 26. When was the last time you cried:last week, watching some TV show about post-Katrina New Orleans 27. What is on the floor of your closet:Reebok walking shoes, dust bunnies 29. What did you do last night:waste a lot of time on my computer 30. Favorite smell:good coffee 31. What inspires you:a positive attitude 32. What are you afraid of:not being remembered 33. Plain, cheese or spicy hamburgers:spicy 34. Favorite car:Lexus RX330 (I do not own one, however) 35. Favorite dog breed:Border Collie or Golden Retriever 36. Number of keys on your key ring:6 37. How many years at your current job:8 at current job, 15 with the company 38. Favorite day of the week:Sunday, my recharge day 39. How many states have you lived in:5 40. Favorite holiday:New Year’s Eve and Thanksgiving 41. Ever driven a Motorcycle or heavy machinery:both 42. Favorite color:depends on my mood … usuallyred, tanor green 43. Favorite number:7 44. Favorite Vacation spot:Outer Banks, NC or Monument Valley, Arizona 45. Favorite Team:Redskins, Orioles, LSU Tigers 46. Favorite Actor:Old school: Humpfrey Bogart; newer: Tom Hanks 47. Favorite Hobby:Photography 48. Beach or Mountains:slight preference for beach 49. Rather sing or dance:Dance, but I’m terrible at it 50. Last question. Glad it is over or do you want more:More!
Baby Boomers are those born between 1946 and 1964. Here are a few products we know and love that could be considered Boomers because of when they were “born”:
The bikini was born in 1946, which means it turns 60 this year, just like the leading edge of the Boomers. Boomers may be bigger than we were years ago, but bikinis are smaller.
Cassette tapes premiered in 1963, but it took more than 15 years for them to virtually replace vinyl. CDs replaced cassettes as the primary music delivery system but CDs are now on the way out, soon to be replaced by downloadable digital formats.
ZIP Codes started in 1963 and became mandatory in 1967. Older Boomers might remember the 2-digit system and younger Boomers might never have heard of this.
Cruise control was first offered in the 1958 Chrysler New Yorker and on all Cadillac models by 1960. It is standard equipment on most cars now.
Barbie Dolls hit the stores in 1959, so Barbie is a Boomer. Ken is Gen-X, however, because he didn’t show up till 1965. An interesting sidebar about the buxom Barbie: her inventor and Mattel co-founder Ruth Handler battled breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy in 1970. She wasn’t happy with the available prosthetic breasts so she designed a more natural one herself, called it Nearly Me and got a patent for it in 1975.
The disposable diaper was first produced in 1950. Whew.
Eight-track tape players debuted in 1965. The device was invented by Bill Lear, the same guy who designed the Lear Jet. One out of two ain’t bad.
The Jacuzzi was invented in 1968 by a guy named Roy Jacuzzi. Really.
Play-Doh was introduced in 1955. It was originally designed as wallpaper cleaner, but it’s inventor realized it was fun to play with and non-toxic.
The TV Remote first came out in 1950. Why? Were our parents too lazy to get up to flip from one channel to the other one? This remote was connected to the television by a wire and it was called the Lazy Bones Remote Control. The first wireless remote was introduced in 1956, when there were twice as many channels!
The battery-operated smoke detector was patented in 1969. I found much of this information here: http://inventors.about.com/library/bl/bl12.htm. It’s the perfect site for timeline geeks like me.
I’m a middle-aged, white, professional, suburbanite male who votes in every election. As I age I care more about politics, but I’m by no means an expert or a pundit. I just care and I want to believe my vote really counts.
My home state Louisiana is well-known for colorful and often corrupt politicians. Mudslinging 101 is probably a real course at LSU. For 22 years I have lived in Maryland, home state of Spiro Agnew. I can’t escape bad politics.
So it should come as no surprise that I’m sick of the political ads. There are countless places with close races and mudslinging candidates, but the TV stations in my area are running commercials for some of the most contentious races. Viewers learn nothing about any candidate by watching his or her commercials because each candidate spends all of their air time bashing their opponent.
If I see a commercial with Virginia Senator George Allen’s face I assume it’s a spot for his opponent James Webb. Ben Cardin, U.S. Representative from Maryland and candidate for U.S. Senate, gets more face time in Michael Steele commercials than in his own. These two were sitting next to each other on Meet The Press this week. Like a NASCAR fan hoping to see a crash, I watched several minutes of the interview hoping one would punch the other.
If President Bush’s face is in a commercial, I assume the candidate is a Democrat trying to position a Republican as W’s puppet. What a difference four years makes.
I just want to know what each candidate believes in and how they think they can make the country and my state better places. All I hear is why each candidate’s opponent isn’t right for the job.
And it gets worse. I frequently vote on party lines because the candidates in my political party often believe the same way I do. But I don’t like any of the candidates this time around. My issues on a national level are Iraq, Social Security, health care and reducing the budget deficit. On a state level, transportation and the environment are at the top of my agenda. Most candidates I have to choose from do not have solid records on any of these issues and most of the “facts” about each come from their opponents. What’s a voter to do?
Has it always been this way? Or do Boomers just care more now than in the past? Weren’t we the activists of the 60s and 70s? Didn’t we change the world for the better? Both major party candidates for Maryland Governor and one of the Senate candidates are boomers, but all three seem more like politicians from the past.
If it’s this bad now, what will it be like in 2008?
As I watched ABC’s Diane Sawyer reporting from Korea several mornings recently, it occurred to me that the country’s leader Kim Jong Il might actually fear the United States and he’s testing nuclear devices to deter an attack he thinks we might launch. Some of that country’s citizens certainly fear us, based on what I saw during the controlled reporting – controlled in the sense that even casual interviews were set up by the Korean government officials who accompanied Ms. Sawyer and her crew.
It is hard for me to believe that people could fear our country. We’re the good guys, aren’t we? The world’s protector. Originators of global pop culture. But when you see some of the Korean children and their mothers literally running away from Diane Sawyer – because they are afraid of Americans – doesn’t that make you wonder if they think we’re the bad guys?
A strategy often used in successful negotiations is this: understand your opponent’s point of view. You don’t have to agree with the other side or even accept anything they say or feel. And it doesn’t necessarily matter who is right or wrong. But one can often achieve a better outcome in a negotiation if one understands the other side’s point of view.
Consider Korea’s possible point of view: the U.S. invaded Iraq, destroyed its infrastructure and captured its leader because the U.S. considered Iraq a threat; we thought they had nuclear weapons and we didn’t like their leader. This same United States is the only country on the planet that ever attacked another country, Japan, with a nuclear device. The justification for that might not be apparent to Koreans. And our president can appear to be a bully, regardless of his intentions.
If you follow that logic, at least you can understand why Korea might feel the U.S. is planning to attack. And Korea might believe they have the right to be prepared for such an attack. Or at least show some teeth and put us on guard.
The point, again: understand the other side’s point of view. Walk in their shoes for a few minutes. See the situation from their side.
The reverse is also true. Other countries should look at our point of view and try to understand why we’ve done what we’ve done over the years.
We fear them, they fear us. That cycle is a problem.
Another thing that concerns me is this: an opponent could look at historical facts and believe they have the right to remove from power someone they consider to be a dangerous leader, our own president, for example. If another country tried to do to us what we did to Iraq, we wouldn’t take it lightly.
News reports today say that North Korea wants to talk. That’s good. I hope that they and we realize conflict resolution isn’t always about who’s right or wrong. Sometimes it’s merely about understanding each other.
It’s ironic that we say the days are shorter in the fall and winter. The days are still 24 hours long, but we get less sunshine. And is this ironic or paradoxical? If I plan to be a writer beyond blogs and radio commercials, I think I should relearn grammar.
Grammar changes, however. Take less and fewer, for example. Less sunshine, fewer hours of sunshine. Less time to do daylight activities, fewer hours. February has fewer days than October. After a trip to the mall, I have less money in my wallet – fewer dollars. It makes me crazy when someone says less hours, less days, less dollars. I don’t remember the grammatical terms for this, but I understand the difference between less and fewer and how each is used. But every day I hear another person misuse these two words. Eventually this misuse will become the norm.
I admit I do not know the difference between irony and paradox. Alanis Morissette’s song “Isn’t It Ironic” made perfect sense to me until I read some smart person’s take on her vocabulary. The situations presented in her song are paradox not irony. Who knew?
Isn’t it ironic that I received advanced placement in English in college? Or is it paradoxical? I skipped English 101 and started my completely mediocre college experience two weeks after high school by taking English 102. I got a C.
What I gained from that experience is a love of writing and reading. Clearly I did not learn the fine points of proper grammar. Or the need for complete sentences. I write like I talk. An old friend who is a blogger and an English teacher says my blog style is conversational. I’ll take that as a compliment.
The main thing I remember from that English class is that we were taught a pattern for writing essays: open; A, B, C; close. Use an opening sentence to set up the topic, write three paragraphs to support the topic and close with a summary paragraph that draws the reader to a conclusion.
That pattern works in some of my real-world situations. When I write a radio commercial, for example, I set up a problem, show how a product or service can solve the problem and end with a method for the listener to find the product or service. I get the job done in 30 seconds. Topic, support, summary.
I write a justification for a budget item with a setup of the situation, support for my request and a summary of how that money will address the situation.
When I write a blog post, I often start with a tease or a statement, weave in and out of the lane for awhile and end with an attempt at summary or humor. I opened this post with an observation about the return to Standard Time and a question about grammar. I then made three or more disconnected points. Now I’m about to close. I probably could have made more of a point with fewer words, but I have less time to do that this afternoon because today is shorter.
This is a meme/survey/list that I made up. What the heck. Give it a shot if you’re so inclined, and let me know where you post it.
Five cars you’ve owned: 1. 1966 Mustang 2. Ford Van (bright yellow) 3. Ford Explorer 4. Thunderbird 5. Volvo Wagon Five cars you’ve driven but did not own: 1. a friend’s very used Mercedes 2. a right-hand drive Bentley (in a parking lot) 3. 1937 Chevrolet Fire Truck (in a parade) 4. Porsche (re-parked it for a photo shoot) 5. 240Z-the fastest thing I’ve ever driven (and it belonged to a minister)
Five books you’d read more than once: 1. The Power of Optimism-Alan Loy McGinnis 2. Robots of the Dawn – Isaac Asimov 3. Awakening At Midlife – Kathleen Brehony 4. Cats In The Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut 5. 1984 – George Orwell
Five friends who live more than five hundred miles from where you live: 1. Sherry (Hawaii) 2. Farimah (England) 3. Jim, Pat, Melanie (Louisiana) 4. Pennie (Colorado) 5. Linda (Wisconsin)
Five candidates you’ve voted for: 1. William Donald Shaffer 2. Barbara Mikulski 3. Connie Morella 4. Bill Clinton 5. John Kerry
Five TV characters you like: 1. Catherine Willows (CSI) 2. Lenny Briscoe (Law & Order) 3. Robert Goren (Law & Order: Criminal Intent) 4. Fonzie (Happy Days) 5. Andy Sipowitz (NYPD Blue)
Five famous people you’ve met: 1. Gavin McLeod (he actually sang the Love Boat theme with us on the radio) 2. Dawn Wells (Bob Denver and Russell Johnson – on a 3 hour tour of the Baltimore Harbor … really) 3. Kenny Chesney 4. Charles Mann 5. Ted Nugent
Five brands you like (any products): 1. Nikon 2. Eddie Bauer 3. Starbucks 4. Reebok 5. Ben & Jerry’s
What goes around comes around. The interconnected web of life. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Cause and effect. Whatsoever a man soweth, that he shall also reap. For each action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Karma.
Fumbling with coins while wearing gloves is a challenge for me, so when I stopped at the newspaper box on my way to the train Wednesday morning, I removed my right glove and placed it on top of the box. I fed two quarters to the box, removed the newspaper and boarded the train. As the train departed from the station, I realized I had left the glove on the box.
Geez, I now have only one glove.
I obsessed about this all day. During the train ride home, I continued to think about the glove so I would remember to walk past the newspaper box to see if by some great piece of chance cosmic karma the glove might still be there.
While standing in the aisle for the last two or three minutes of the train ride, I noticed a small black object attached to a coat hook. It was a black glove. No way. The tag peeking form inside boasted the words Thinsulate 40 gram. Am I hallucinating? I pulled my surviving glove from my pocket to read the label. Thinsulate 40 gram. Way. Lots of gloves have a tag like that, so I removed the glove from the hook for closer inspection. A perfect match!
What are the chances that someone would see the glove on the box, assume a passenger left it there, take it to the train and place it on the highly visible hook so whoever left it might see it? There are six or seven trains each way each day on this line … what are the chances I would be on the same end of the same car of the same train on my way home?
What goes around comes around. Cause and effect. Glove Karma.
Maybe I should leave a thank you note on the newspaper box. Maybe I should play Lotto this week.
Every month there’s a new study regarding health: alcohol is bad for you, alcohol is good for you, carbs are bad, carbs are good, caffeine is … you get it, right? Each study seems to refute the previous one. It’s very confusing.
Some previous studies said that drinking coffee can lead to heart disease, cancer and a bad attitude.
Today’s study says coffee is good. I don’t plan to read the next one because I’m a coffee drinker and I like the results of this one.
An article in Parade today says coffee can protect against infections, help prevent diabetes and gallstones, reduce Parkinson’s symptoms, relieve headaches and help maintain brain function.
Wow! Coffee does all of that, and with no prescription and no disclaimer at the end of the commercial.
I can hear the new Starbucks slogan now: a latte a day keeps the doctor away.
This week marks my 15th anniversary in Country radio.
Prior to 1988 I had worked exclusively for Rock stations, mostly as a DJ playing music we now call “classic rock” … Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, the Who, the Beatles, the Eagles, ZZ Top, Foreigner, etc. Next, I worked for a radio station playing what broadcasters call Adult Contemporary music, which is basically pop music for boomers. At the time, these were Mix and Soft Rock stations playing Phil Collins, Gloria Estefan and Whitney Houston.
By 1991 I was Assistant Program Director, but that summer the station made a big format change and I was phased out. In order to stay in the Maryland area, I chose to temporarily make a living out of part time jobs. One of my targets for employment was the Washington DC country music station because they were hugely successful. I wasn’t sure I’d like the music, but the pay was good and I knew I could fake it if I had to.
It only took a year for me to become a big country music fan.
Yes, I actually love country music. I still like rock, Motown, blues, swing, classical and about five rap songs, but country music is now my favorite. It is usually simple, real and direct. Some of it is fun, some serious, some frivolous, some deep and intense. Rock tends to be observational. Country is mostly about feeling and it’s usually from the heart. Strip away the twang and bad grammar from a country song and you’ve got a three-minute slice of real life. Ain’t that the way it oughtta be?
Country music is on my mind today because I watched an hour-long TV show about Martina McBride on the Biography Channel, followed by a program about Shania Twain. And I realize I now know enough about the genre and these two performers to understand how different they are and how much they represent the wide range of styles and song content that can be called Country Music.
Martina’s background is small-town Kansas and she sings mostly songs of real-life scenarios. Love, children and family, homelessness, domestic violence. She is rooted in country, having first played in her dad’s band. She went through a rock phase during the Pat Benatar era in the 80s, but her entire recording career, which started in 1991, has been firmly planted in country. Even the pop crossover hits she’s had began their life on country radio. Her 2005 CD “Timeless” consisted entirely of classic country songs she grew up with.
Shania’s background is small-town Canada and hers is a hard-luck story; but her music is much more slick and “produced.” In fact, her husband (and producer since her 2nd or 3rd album) is Mutt Lange, whose early successes included very produced rock bands like Foreigner and Bad Company. Shania seems “made up” to me, aloof, not especially real in spite of her very real hard-luck background. I often joke that her dozens of hits are really just two songs, one fast and the other slow, with interchangeable lyrics. But a large chunk of country music fans embrace her style and there is just enough reality and fiddle to classify it as country music.
I’ve met Martina. She is very popular but is still down-to-earth and sometimes visits radio stations and plays small venues. Three years ago, she played a live, on-the-air concert for our radio station to an audience of one hundred invited guests. To my knowledge, Shania hasn’t been in a radio station for 10 years and rarely plays for less than 20,000 people. Both are mothers, but I just can’t picture Shania changing a diaper.
Many Boomer and Gen-X Country singers have the same music background I do. Garth Brooks grew up on Billy Joel and Kiss. Travis Tritt grew up on Lynyrd Skynyrd. Two surviving Skynyrd members are now in Country Music and known as Van Zant. At least three of Kenny Chesney’s hits reminisce about rock radio from the 70s. Rascal Flatts’ latest hit is a cover of Tom Cochrane’s “Life Is A Highway.” Bon Jovi had a #1 Country Hit this year, a duet version of hit rock hit “Who Says You Can't Go Home” with Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles trading lead and harmony lines. Country songs still do have the stereotypical themes and images: lyin’, cheatin’, dyin’, drinkin’, pickup trucks, dogs, patriotism and blue-collar jobs. But contemporary themes are represented too: domestic violence, two-income parenting, the Iraq war, cell phones and the internet.
As long as I’m proselytizing … check out the Country Music Association Awards show on Monday, November 6th on ABC. You’ll see the whole spectrum of country music sounds and styles.
Disasters are feeling a little personal to me. Last year it was Katrina damaging New Orleans, where I have family and friends. Earlier this year, there was a terrorist incident at a London subway station that my friends in England often use.
Today’s disaster is an earthquake in Hawaii, just 10 miles from my friends who live in Kona.
I’ve been watching non-stop news coverage all afternoon. Twenty-four hour news outlets, webcams, cell phone cameras and the internet make on-the-spot coverage of disasters the norm. Everyone can now be a reporter. There are limited live television operations on the Big Island (most local stations re-broadcast the Honolulu stations), so much of the on-site coverage is coming from citizens on the phone. Because of power outages resulting from a combination of the earthquake and unusually bad weather on the other islands, only one TV station in the whole state of Hawaii is on the air; and CNN is re-broadcasting much of their live coverage.
I haven’t been able to reach my friends yet, but no deaths or serious injuries have been reported so far and I’m optimistic that they are OK (the earthquake happened 8 hours ago as I write this).
A few posts ago, I shared examples of random meetings and circumstances that resulted in long-term friendships. But I forgot to mention the most significant one I know, even though I wrote about it in one of my early posts on this blog.
This isn’t about someone I met, but about the meeting that resulted in ME.
I knew my parents met each other at work. About a year before my Mother died, she told me the story of how she got the job where they met. The incredible, it-almost-didn’t-happen story … she bumped into a friend while walking down Canal Street, the main street and shopping district of New Orleans at the time. The friend had just been turned down for a job but said, “hey, you’d be perfect for it.”
Dad was on leave in the Navy that year, but from the moment Mom started at the company, her co-workers told her she’d really like this guy Benny who would be coming back to work there soon. They were right. The rest is history.
The current age range for boomers is 42 to 60. What does a 42-year-old really have in common with a 60-year-old? A 42-year-old’s favorite songs from high school could include Foreigner’s “Waiting For A Girl Like You” or Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical.”
A 60-year-old’s favorite songs from senior year in high school might include “I Want To Hold Your Hand” by the Beatles or “Hello Dolly” by Louis Armstrong. That year, by the way, would be 1964, the year the 42-year-old was born.
I have learned that my blog gets frequent referrals from Google searches. My most popular posts include song titles. This post should get a few extra hits.
Boomers turning 60 this month include: Connie Chung, Pat Sajak, Ben Vereen and
... Suzanne Somers!
Also turning 60 this month: the electric blanket.
Miscellaneous events from October, 1964: • composer Cole Porter and former president Herbert Hoover both died, • Ringo Starr got his driver’s license, • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. won the Nobel Peace Prize and • the Rolling Stones appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Miscellaneous activity from October 7th in history: • Births: Oliver North (1943), John Mellencamp (1951) and Yo-Yo Ma (1955) • Deaths: Edgar Allen Poe (1849, at age 40) • Milestones: Robin Givens files for divorce from Mike Tyson after 8 months of marriage (1988); American Bandstand premieres (1957); Henry Ford debuts the moving assembly line (1913) and Chicago beats Cincinnati in the 2nd game of the 1st World Series (1882).