Thursday, November 30, 2006

Yo, Sly

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.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Where Do You Get Your News?

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.

Where do you get your news?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Holiday meme

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.

Happy Holidays!!

Friday, November 24, 2006

I Can’t Believe We Did It

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.

We went shopping on “black Friday” and survived.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

John Forgotten

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.


Here are a few interesting links:

NBC TV Coverage 11/22/63

Four days of TV news coverage edited down to 2 minutes

The Zapruder film – the most famous home movie in history – and other images and stories

A few things I’m thankful for:

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.

Happy Thanksgiving! Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

What Do You Mean IF?

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.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Make It Stop

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.

Unless there is coverage of the honeymoon too.

Please, somebody, make it stop!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Fall Revisited

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.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

My Veterans Day

Five years ago today, my favorite Veteran died.

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.

In Fourteen Words Or Less

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.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Aging Well?

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.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Survey from K.J.’s blog

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: Brown or red
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 … usually red, tan or 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!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Products Born In The Boomer Years

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: It’s the perfect site for timeline geeks like me.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Are We There Yet?

I can’t wait for Election Day to be behind us!

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?