Saturday, June 30, 2007

Five Things That Make Me Stop And Think

Diner Girl posed this interesting question last month. I started on an answer then but set it aside to allow more time to, uhh, stop and think about it.

1) Isaac Asimov’s robot series
The stories were written in the 1950s and yet they contain themes that are relevant today. He created a world where robots performed most menial tasks that humans disliked. As the robot technology developed, they begin to take on more meaningful tasks. They are also blamed for stealing jobs, leading to unemployment. The Three Laws of Robotics prevented robots from hurting humans, but the story lines are often about the idea that robots could in some way break those laws and take over the world in a negative way. I think this is starting to sound a little familiar?

2) Love
Confusing, complicated, can’t live with it, can’t live without it, emotional, biological, been in it, been out of it. Love is the middle word in one of a person’s most powerful statements. Love can lead to babies. Love can lead to war. Just when I think I understand it I realize I don’t.

3) Country music songs
It’s poetic storytelling, y’all. Each contains a three-minute slice of real life. Songs that seem simple on the surface but touch something deep inside me on a personal level: Tim McGraw Live Like You Were Dying and Garth Brooks The Dance (life is short, live it to the fullest, don’t let it pass you by), Alan Jackson Drive (relationship with Dad), Alan Jackson Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning (reaction to 9-11), Rascal Flatts Mayberry (remembering a simpler time), Restless Heart I'll Still Be Loving You (love), and Lee Greenwood God Bless The USA (patriotism).

4) The beauty of nature
Everything from places with expansive, jaw-dropping views, like the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to places with a tiny view, like the center of a flower in my garden makes me stop and think.

5) Who or what is God?
I don’t buy into everything I was taught about a supreme being as a child, nor do I reject it all. I’m skeptical and inquisitive. I have more questions than answers and have at times belonged to a religious denomination that encourages the search. If I really stop and think about it, I question whether God exists or not. The universe seems too big and complex to be random, yet there doesn’t really seem to be a plan.

What makes you stop and think?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

She’s Back, Sort Of

Tonight I saw further proof that Boomers rule the world and are in no hurry to give up the crown. The evidence? A very short teaser commercial for a new TV series: Bionic Woman.

Yes, the Jamie Summers character, a hottie with super-human physical abilities, is returning to television. The original Bionic Woman series that ran from 1976 – 1978 was a spin-off of the popular Six Million Dollar Man series.

In both versions, Jaime suffers major injuries (from a skydiving accident in the original, from a horrific highway accident in the remake). While unconscious, she undergoes a secret operation in which various limbs, eyes, etc. are replaced by strong manufactured parts. In the original version, she goes on to work as a secret agent disguised as a teacher. In the new one she is involved in some kind of complicated espionage story line and her nemesis is another bionic woman experiment.

The original starred Lindsay Wagner, whose more recent claim to fame is a starring role in Select Comfort mattress commercials. Her acting career has certainly had more challenging roles, but those commercials seem to get more air time these days.

The new Bionic Woman is played by Michelle Ryan.

Everything I read about the new show tonight points to the new series as a re-imagination rather than a remake of the original (using the producer’s verbiage).

It appears that the tone of the new series will be much darker than the original. The 1976 series spawned cheesy merchandising including lunch boxes and dolls. That doesn’t seem likely in this version.

The network hype site makes for interesting viewing and maybe the series will be worth watching. We’ll find out in September.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

What's In A Name?

Brad Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow named one Apple. Julia Roberts has a child named Phinneas. Some Boomers who had offspring during the Hippie days chose names like Sunshine and Flower. Musician Frank Zappa named his kids Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet, and Diva Muffin.

This might only happen in America, where we truly are free to do this to our children.

An official in New Zealand, however, has banned a couple from naming their son 4Real. I’m not kidding. According to AOL News, Pat Wheaton and his wife came up with that name when they saw a scan of the child and reacted with, “is he for real?” The New Zealand Registrar-General banned the name, quoting a law that says one can’t use a name that starts with a number.

On one hand, I think a parent should have the right to name their child with any name they see fit. On the other hand, I had enough problems growing up Bernard, a name that is rare and unusual but not stupid. I agree with that New Zealand official.

Reminds me of that Johnny Cash song “A Boy Named Sue.”

But that’s only a song. It’s not for real.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


The American Film Institute’s annual list of the Top 100 Films of all time came out this week and Citizen Kane was on top again. Casablanca, my favorite movie of all time, slipped from #2 to #3.

James Stewart and Robert DeNiro are the actors with the most films on the list, at five each. Director Steven Spielberg has five films on the list; director Alfred Hitchcock is tied with Stanley Kubrick and Billy Wilder at four films each.

I love movies, although I have to admit that I’ve missed most of the movies released since the turn of the century. It’s a lack of time thing, not a lack of interest.

But many of my favorite movies are films I saw during my “formative” years (1960s and 1970s) and many other older films I first saw in the late 1970s when I lived a few blocks from a theatre that regularly screened the classics.

Citizen Kane is a great movie but I wonder if it’s always #1 because of its impact on the look and feel of film more than its story line or acting. Maybe it’s on top because no one thought a 25-year-old first-time filmmaker could make such an amazing movie. I studied it in a high school film club and have only seen it start-to-finish one time since.

Casablanca, on the other hand, is a movie I’ve seen more than 25 times all the way through and dozens of times in pieces, stumbling upon it while channel surfing. I own the 50th anniversary edition VCR and plan to buy the same thing on DVD.

There are many reasons someone can like Casablanca … the acting, the memorable lines, the character development, the interconnection of parallel story lines. I like it because it is the story of a guy who lost the love of his life, spent many bitter years letting that loss turn him into an outwardly bitter man with no direction in life who inwardly helped other people find their way, who found the love of his life again, loved her so much he arranged for her to escape to a better life with the man she really loves and in the process rediscovered meaning in his life. Or something like that.

Another movie I’d rank in my personal top 10 is Cool Hand Luke. That 1967 movie was part of a trend of movies that did not have especially happy endings. Yet the main character had what could be viewed as a positive affect on the lives of many people around him, even though he felt his own life was pointless. I saw that movie when it first came out and have seen it at least 5 or 6 times since. Cool Hand Luke is not on the AFI Top 100 list.

Other movies from that era that are personal favorites are on the list, including Bonnie & Clyde and In The Heat Of The Night.

Movies with meaning always impress me but I also have seen all of the Lethal Weapon and Die Hard movies repeatedly. There is no real social commentary or meaning in any of them, other than a story about the lengths someone will go to get the bad guy. But they’re fun to watch. And they are not on the AFI Top 100 list.

Enough about me.

Here is the Top 10 list. How many have you seen? Are any of them on your favorites list?

1) Citizen Kane, 1941
2) The Godfather, 1972
3) Casablanca, 1942
4) Raging Bull, 1980
5) Singin’ In The Rain, 1952
6) Gone With The Wind, 1939
7) Lawrence of Arabia, 1962
8) Schindler’s List, 1993
9) Vertigo, 1958
10) The Wizard of Oz, 1939

The whole list is available on the AFI site if you register, or on any number of articles about the list found in a Google search.

Today might be a good day for me to buy a movie on the list that I’ve never seen or to sign up for NetFlix.

AFI, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Father’s Day 2007

This Sunday is the 6th Father’s Day since Dad died. I think about him on Father’s Day more now than when he was alive. Maybe I never thought he’d die. I could always visit him, so why bother having a meaningful conversation with him on any given trip home when I could always do that the next time? Why send a card? His Parkinson’s-related dementia was pretty bad during his last few years so he wouldn’t really know who the card was from anyway or even what a card is.

Every June, I endure weeks of constant commercials telling us what Dad wants from Home Depot or Lowe’s or Ace. My Dad had so many tools and gadgets he could have opened his own Ace Hardware. Now I have a third of them, including many of the tools I bought him over the years for his birthday or Father’s Day. I made a special trip with a U-Haul trailer a few years ago to collect them. Dad is all over my garage and basement.

This picture of Dad sits on a shelf overlooking the desk where I’m writing this post. He was just five or ten years older in the picture than I am now. The shot is cropped from a photo of him and Mom on their 30th anniversary. I think he was at the peak of his life then, successful in his career with two grown children who were beginning to make a mark in their careers. He loved his wife and it shows in his smile.

He was loving, caring, judgmental, honest, a good provider, loyal and bull-headed. Every one of those characteristics has influenced my life and continues to do so today. Sometimes when I speak I hear his voice coming out of my mouth. Sometimes I see him in my mirror.

Dad’s formal education ended with a GED but he became a well-respected engineer whose work was behind the scenes on many prominent New Orleans projects. He designed the electrical systems for an incinerator, the drainage system for some I-10 off-ramps, a heating system for a building at Tulane University and the entire plumbing system for two major shopping centers. He never sought public recognition for his work and never got it, but he was often praised by his peers. One of his retirement gifts was a framed poem singing his praises, written by a co-worker and signed by each person in the office. Sadly, that memento was destroyed in the Katrina flood.

All of these memories flood my mind each Father’s Day. They bring both smiles and tears. The word bittersweet comes to mind. We had issues from my teens into my 40s and many were never resolved. If you are an adult and have issues with your father, work them out TODAY; use Father’s Day as the starting point. There might not be a better day or another day.

Happy Father’s Day.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


This could be three different posts, but I feel like saying it all at once.

$54 Million Pants

Back in 2005, Roy took his pants to the cleaners. Roy says the cleaners lost his pants. The cleaners say they gave Roy the correct pants. Roy filed a lawsuit, asking for $54 million. After spending tens of thousands of dollars in legal expenses, the cleaners offered to settle for $12,000. Roy Pearson, a judge in Washington DC, refused to drop his lawsuit. What the hell is wrong with him?

High School Reunions

Have you been to any of your high school reunions? If you’re Gen X or Gen Y, maybe you have and maybe you enjoyed yourself. If you’re 50-something, do you really want to do that? The big ones end in 0 or 5, and I’ve got one of those coming up next year. I’m curious about how my classmates turned out, but I wasn’t a popular kid then. I had only three close friends and have kept in touch with only one of them. So there isn’t really anyone I’d like to see there. On the other hand, I still have most of my hair, more than half of it is the same color as it was then and I’m only a few pounds over the recommended weight for my height. Maybe I do want to go.

Bohemian Rhapsody

How did Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody ever get on the radio? It’s a great song, BUT it sounds like an opera with electric guitars.

The lyrics include these memorable lines:

Thunderbolt and lightning-very very frightening me-
Galileo galileo
Galileo figaro-magnifico-
But Im just a poor boy and nobody loves me-

In 1975, the song competed for rock radio airplay with Springstein’s Born To Run, Foghat’s Slow Ride, ZZ Top’s Tush, Zeppelin’s Kashmir and Bad Company’s Feel Like Makin’ Love but it got on the radio anyway and now it’s a classic. Go figure.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

64 And 40

Recognize these lyrics?

When I get old and losing my hair,
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me the Valentine,
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine

If I stay out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I'm sixty-four.

As Paul McCartney penned “When I’m Sixty Four” at the age of 24, could he have imagined that he’d still be well-known and in demand at the age referred to in the song?

“When I’m Sixty Four” is on the Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, which celebrated its 40th birthday last month.

Paul celebrates his 65th birthday next Monday.

He’s still in the news, in part because of his divorce last year and his ex-wife’s appearance on Dancing With The Stars. McCartney was still touring in 2006. And he is still recording; Memory Almost Full, his latest album, was released last week and his 25 solo albums are now available on iTunes.

McCartney is three years older than the leading edge Boomers, so I guess that makes him a Senior. Clearly he is a role model for creative aging and shows us that if you’re lucky enough to do something you love for a living, you don’t have to retire.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Velvet Girl Interviews Bernie

You have certainly seen interviews on television in which famous people provide scripted answers to often stupid questions about themselves, revealing glimpses of their highly unusual lives. The only “real people” interviews you see are with people who have done some extraordinary thing that suddenly makes them famous for fifteen minutes.

A few weeks ago I saw an interview meme on Velvet Girl’s blog, in which truly “real people” did the asking and answering. In this case another blogger asked her five questions. She offered to do the same for any of her readers.

What a cool idea. So here are the five questions she asked me and my responses:

1. What inspired you to start blogging? Do you share your blog with friends and family? Why or why not?

I love writing and story-telling but my usual outlet is a 30-second radio commercial. I wanted a venue where I could express opinions, make observations and see my poetry in print (my other blog) without any pressure to impress anyone or recoup an investment.

The first and only blog I read till just a month prior to starting this one was written by an old friend from New Orleans who gave up a cushy suburban teaching job for one in the inner city, and wrote of her experiences. Then Diner Girl, someone I do radio projects with, mentioned her blog and after reading it for a few weeks, I started mine.

I’ve mentioned my blog to some friends and family, but most are not that interested. My few regular readers are mostly total strangers or casual work friends.

2. You've been granted the superpower of your choice. What did you choose and why?

Invisibility … the power to go places completely undetected.

That would be the ultimate vehicle for observing the real world. To be able to see people in their most private moments, to learn how they really feel or act when being themselves, is a thrilling concept. Maybe I’m a voyeur at heart. To put that superpower to good use, I’d hang out in the Oval Office or a corporate boardroom, find out what’s really behind those high-level decisions and try to do something about righting the wrongs of the world.

3. If you could have one thing or time from your childhood again, what or when would it be and why?

My childhood was great, but I usually don’t think about returning to it. Two things do keep coming back to haunt me, however.

First, that day in elementary school when I tried to join the band and chickened out. If I had joined that day and learned to play saxophone, I might still be playing, and maybe it would have been part of how I make a living. I did learn to play trombone in high school, but quit playing after graduation. In my late 30s I finally took sax lessons but gave it up after a year. I still have the horn in case I want to tackle it again and I occasionally fool around on a bass guitar I bought in college.

The other childhood thing I might want to have again is language lessons. I took French in 3rd grade (must be a Louisiana thing) but didn’t continue. I studied Spanish in high school, but I didn’t stick with that either. Knowing more than one language would be such a great communication tool and cultural adventure.

This pattern of not sticking with things has affected other aspects of my life. Fortunately I learned to get past that. I’m 33 years into my career, 40-plus years into my love of photography and 50-plus years into a love of music.

Thanks for asking that question, VG. I feel good thinking about it. Hope the answer wasn’t too boring.

4. Since you work in a music related field, I would imagine that you have quite a lot of music. What are your favorites from your collection and (gulp!) what is the most embarrassing album that you own?

During my vinyl days, I had 2,000 albums and I currently have about 500 CDs. There are many favorites, but the CDs I keep playing over and over include: Montgomery Gentry “Greatest Hits,” Burning Sky “Music for Native American Flute, Guitar, Percussion,” Kenny Neal “Hoodoo Moon,” Bob Marley and the Wailers “Legend,” INXS “Kick,”, Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers “Trouble Man,” U2 “Achtung Baby,” and Alabama “For The Record: 41 Number One Hits.”

The most embarrassing? Uhh, a CD with 7 versions of The Macarena is pretty embarrassing. And I still have the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack on vinyl. Hmm, I think my Frank Sinatra CD is in the truck right now.

5. You can invite five living people to meet for dinner. Who would you choose?

I’ve met some famous people and I’ve usually been disappointed; their public persona is often more interesting than their private reality. But I’ve included famous folks on this list because these five have highly-successful, multi-faceted lives and they’ve often overcoming incredible odds to live their dreams. Each has had and continues to have a positive impact on humanity. I’d like to learn something from them, one on one.

Bill Clinton – an ambitious kid with a dysfunctional childhood who played saxophone, became a lawyer, writer and President of the United States, and survived completely stupid personal behavior to become a respected “elder statesman” Boomer.

John Glenn – a test pilot and the first American astronaut to orbit Earth, whose second career was a 25-year gig as a U.S. Senator. Much of my love of spaceflight came from observing his work as an astronaut. And his 1998 return to space at age 77 served as a great role model for creative aging.

Roy Clark – singer, songwriter, instrumental virtuoso, entertainer, TV and movie star, boxer, licensed pilot, horseman, humanitarian, story-teller. A down-to-earth guy with vision and staying power. And I actually have had dinner with him, twice. His stories about Hee Haw are amazing, as is the story behind his landmark 18-concert tour of the Soviet Union in the 1970s.

Annie Leibovitz – an amazing photographer whose subjects are people. She has photographed everyone from Bob Dylan to Queen Elizabeth to Carl Lewis. In a way, she has the “invisibility” superpower I mentioned in question 2. She is able to enter the lives of famous public people and capture split- second glimpses of their private selves and share those moments with the rest of us. I wouldn’t ask about her brand of camera or f-stop choices; I want to learn how she makes people comfortable.

Jodie Foster – child actress who becomes a successful adult actress and filmmaker without the bullshit usually associated with that kind of transition. She is smart (Yale grad, magna cum laude), beautiful and so damn private. Jodie, come to this dinner party and tell me something you’ve never said in the few interviews you’ve done. I promise I won’t repeat it.

What an incredible dinner that would be. Let’s have ribs at the Rendezvous in Memphis.

OK, so there you have it. (Velvet Girl, thanks for the interesting questions).

Now what?
"If you wish to do this meme ... 1) Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me." 2) I will respond by asking you five questions. I get to pick the questions. 3) You will update your weblog with the answers to the questions. 4) You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post. 5) When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions."

Friday, June 08, 2007

Cry Baby

Quit crying, and just do the damn time! And next time you have a drink, choose a designated driver.

And this is the last time I'll use the words Paris and Hilton in the same sentence.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

It’s So Unfair

I’m Paris Hilton. It is so unfair that you’ve sent me to jail. Sure, I shouldn’t have been driving while drinking. And OK, so yeah, I had a suspended license and you gave me a warning and everything. But I’m Paris Hilton. P-A-R-I-S H-I-L uhhh T-O-N. You can’t send ME to jail.

Sorry, Par baby, but you brought this on yourself. Don’t whine, just do the time. You’ll only be there a month, in the “special needs” unit of the jail, a 24-person section separated from the other two thousand inmates. And you’ll be alone in your two-person cell except for the hour a day you can hang out in day-room and make phone calls. Yep, that’s right, no cell phone or Blackberry.

Save your tears for someone else. Drunk drivers kill people. You’re lucky. Learn something from this.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The 1960s in Five Minutes

A friend whom I’ve known since the 1960s just sent me this link: Take Me Back To The 60s.

The site (a flash movie) does an incredible job of condensing an entire decade into five minutes of facts, opinions, photos, logos and music. You can relive the 60s or see it all for the first time. I think it’s pretty cool.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Fifty? Yeah, That’s The Ticket!

Just a quick little post to welcome a few celebrities to the F-f-fifty-something world.

First, Melanie Griffith turns 50 on August 9th. Can’t you still see her as the ambitious secretary in Working Girl?

On July 9th, remember to send a birthday card to Kelly McGillis. I thought she was great in Witness and OK in Top Gun.

And Jon Lovitz, the former Saturday Night Live cast-member known for the phrase that titles this post, turns 50 on July 21st.

An added bonus birthday mention for Boomers who remember the earliest career days of Bill Cosby and Dustin Hoffman … both of them turn 70 this summer.