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Home with the Cat on New Years Eve

It has been about 40 years since I declared I would never again leave the house on this holiday eve. The decision came after a miserable night out - long story you can read here if you really care.

But that doesn't mean I don't have my own ritual – small as it is.

I always have an evening meal that I otherwise would rarely indulge for either health or price reasons and I make certain I have a book I am eager to read. That's it. And early to bed.

My meals throughout most of 2013 have been, by some standards, austere as I shaved several hundred calories a day from maintenance levels to shed 30-odd pounds. It has been many months since I considered this vegetable-centric regimen a “diet.” It's how I eat now.

Permanently.

But not exclusively.

One meal a week (that would be one out of 21), I allow myself a serving of something that I generally no longer eat. Most frequently, that is ice cream - the high end, high fat, high calorie kind - or an excellent cheese (the high end, high fat, high calorie kind) or, less commonly, a meal centered around, for example, an excellent little rack of lamb.

Tonight it will be cheese - the exquisite, hard-to-find, blue Stilton that seems to be creamy (instead of crumbly) only at Christmas time. I'll have the freshest grapes I can find to accompany it along with a glass or two of nicely-aged, vintage port.

After that, I'll curl up in bed with Ollie the cat and the book I selected for this year - Kate Atkinson's Life After Life - which has garnered ecstatic reviews on both sides of the Atlantic.

Atkinson is a brilliant writer – I've been a fan for a good while - and I've been looking forward to reading this since it was published in early 2013.

That's it for me. What are your plans this evening? Here's an elegant, little countdown video I found online to help get you in the mood for a new year.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Henry Lowenstern: Dog Walkers' Doggerel


ELDER MUSIC: Toes Up In 2013 - Part 2

Tibbles1SM100x130This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.


Continuing from yesterday, people associated with music who died this year.

LouReed

LOU REED was one of the most important musicians in the second wave of rock & roll. He was intelligent, literate but aware of the limitations of his craft, saying that what he wrote wouldn't be considered a big deal if it appeared in a book or film.

Lou liked to alienate listeners and was fond of contradicting himself throughout his career.

He first came to notice as songwriter, singer and guitarist for the Velvet Underground, a group that didn't have much of a following but was hugely influential. Initially under the auspices of Andy Warhol, they soon went their own way.

In the early seventies, Lou began a solo career that was equally influential. Most bands that started after this time claim that his music was the most important factor in their becoming musicians.

Often dismissed by some for having a monotonous voice and perfunctory guitar skills, nonetheless what he produced was mesmerizing. Instead of the expected song, Walk on the Wild Side, I'll go with Lou in surprisingly mellow mood with Perfect Day. (Lou was 71)

♫ Lou Reed - Perfect Day

JOHN TAVENER was an English composer who admired and took inspiration from Stravinsky, Boulez and Messaien. He began as a concert pianist but couldn't overcome his stage fright so turned to composing. In later years he specialized in religious music. (69)

ROLAND JAMES was a session guitarist at Sun Records during its heyday. He played guitar on Jerry Lee Lewis's great first songs and also backed Roy Orbison, Charlie Rich and others from that time. (80)

NOEL HARRISON was an English singer and actor. He was also an accomplished sportsman and represented Britain in skiing at the Winter Olympics in 1952 and 1956. Noel had his first hit with the song, A Young Girl, written by Charles Aznavour.

As an actor he performed in the TV series, The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. with Stephanie Powers. He later recorded and had a hit with the song Windmills of your Mind used in the film The Thomas Crown Affair. His father was the actor Rex Harrison. (79)

VanCliburn

VAN CLIBURN was an American classical pianist. He came to international attention in 1958 when he entered the inaugural Tchaikovsky Competition, a piano competition intended to showcase Russian superiority in classical music at the time.

To the surprise of most he won. However, because of that, he started a thaw in east-west relations, particularly in the field of classical music.

On the basis of his win, he became an international star in the piano world. He was the first classical performer to sell a million albums. His forte was the music of the Romantic composers, particularly Rachmaninov and Chopin.

Here he plays probably the most famous of Chopin's polonaises, the Heroic. (78)

♫ Van Cliburn - Chopin Polonaise in A-Flat, Op. 53 Heroic

YUSEF LATEEF was a jazz saxophone and flute player. He started out as a straight sax player in bands led by Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus and Cannonball Adderley.

When he formed his own group he thought that the music needed more color so he introduced the flute, oboe, bassoon and a variety of non-western instruments. That led him to explore music from Asia, the Middle East and other parts of the world. He kept playing music until shortly before his death at 93.

RICK HUXLEY was the bass player for the British group The Dave Clark Five who came to prominence in the wake of The Beatles. Touted at the time as a rival to the fab four, history has shown their place in the scheme of things. Later Rick set up and ran his own electrical wholesale organization. (70)

TREVOR BOLDER played bass guitar with David Bowie’s Spiders from Mars and the heavy metal band Uriah Heep. He was also an accomplished trombone and cornet player. (62)

BEN TUCKER was a jazz bassist who played with Quincy Jones, Peggy Lee and others. He was also a successful songwriter who had his tunes recorded by many of the top jazz musicians. (82)

JimmyDawkins

JIMMY DAWKINS was an American blues guitarist and singer. He performed Chicago blues as he moved to that city from his native Mississippi when he was 19. He found work there, both gigging in the clubs and as a session musician.

He eventually recorded his own music and toured internationally, especially to Europe and Japan where he was extremely popular. Jimmy performs Things I Used to Do. (76)

♫ Jimmy Dawkins - Things I Used To Do

KEVIN AYRES was an English guitarist, bass player and songwriter who was a founding member of the alternative psychedelic band, The Soft Machine.

This band often shared the stage with Pink Floyd and he became friends with several members of that band and they often played together. He later had a long solo career and recorded quite a few albums. (68)

CHICO HAMILTON was a jazz drummer and band leader whose group featured classical instruments such as cello and flute. As a native of Los Angeles, he often produced music for films.

He started his professional career at the very top with gigs with Count Basie and Duke Ellington. His first taste of fame came as a member of the Gerry Mulligan/Chet Baker quartet. He later formed his own group as well as performing as a session musician in many styles of music. (92)

AnnetteFunicello

ANNETTE FUNICELLO was the most famous Mouseketeer, and she was the reason we young lads tuned in to the Mickey Mouse Club She later had several hits in that period between rock & roll's first incarnation and its second coming launched by The Beatles.

Most memorable, well sort of, were Pineapple Princess and Tall Paul. There were others as well.

She later made a bunch of films, usually set on the beach and mostly costarring Frankie Avalon. Annette was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the early nineties and she died from complications of that disease. (70)

SlimWhitman

SLIM WHITMAN was one of the biggest-selling musicians in the history of country music. He had a distinctive style and was not averse to having a bit of a yodel. He got that from listening to old Jimmie Rodgers' records when he was young.

He started singing on a ship when he was in the navy during the war. Later, he managed to get a recording deal thanks to "Colonel" Tom Parker. He had many hits, both country and popular, in the fifties and he kept performing until quite recently.

China Doll is one of those hits. (90)

♫ Slim Whitman - China Doll

BOBBY PARKER was a blues singer and guitarist whose recordings were so influential that his licks were pinched by John Lennon, Carlos Santana and Jimmy Page.

He also influenced James Brown with his performing style. Alas, he reaped little reward for all this and had to keep performing until his death to make ends meet. (76)

PAUL WILLIAMS was an American journalist and writer who created the music magazine Crawdaddy. This publication was probably the first to take rock music seriously as a viable art form (or at least, a decent craft). He wrote many books, usually on music themes. (64)

DonaldByrd

DONALD BYRD was a gifted jazz trumpet player who was at the forefront of bebop in the fifties and sixties. He later recorded soul and popular music to considerable success. This was rather frowned on by jazz purists.

He introduced a couple of his fine sidemen to Miles Davis and they went on to play with him. At one stage Donald took time off to study composition in Paris and also a law degree in Washington. He later earned a PhD in education from Columbia University and lectured on both music and law (and where they intersect). (80)

MARIE-CLAIRE ALAIN was a French organist and composer (as were her two brothers) and also a teacher of the organ. She was trained at the Paris Conservatory and recorded a vast number of albums in the organ repertoire, particularly the works of J.S. Bach. (86)

MARVIN RAINWATER was an early rock & roll performer. Initially, he was classically trained on the piano but an injury curtailed that and he switched to guitar. He left the navy after the war and performed country music.

He was taken by rock music and switched to play that style. He was particularly popular in Europe. Marvin also wrote songs, many of which were hits for other artists. (88)

Patty Andrews

PATTY ANDREWS was the last of the Andrews Sisters. She was the blonde one, usually in the middle, who sang lead vocals.

The Andrews Sisters initially modeled themselves on the Boswell Sisters whom they heard on the radio with Bing Crosby. Later, they would record a couple of songs with Bing (and several other performers). They became the most successful sister singing act of all time, selling millions of records.

Later there was more than a bit of tension in the ranks but they didn’t discuss their differences outside the group fearing it might dent their image. It did erupt publicly when Patty went solo at the behest of her husband. Lawsuits flew all over the place.

They reunited briefly in the mid-fifties but that was short-lived and the acrimony remained. From their first time around, here is Bei Mir Bist Du Schon. (94)

♫ Andrews Sisters - Bei Mir Bist Du Schon

ANDY JOHNS produced most of Led Zeppelin's albums. He was also responsible for the Rolling Stones' albums from the seventies. And he worked with Traffic, Blind Faith, Ten Years After, Rod Stewart, Joe Satriani, Van Halen and many others. He was the younger brother of another record producer, Glyn Johns. (61)

EydieGorme

After leaving school, EYDIE GORME first worked at the United Nations as an interpreter. She made her first recordings in 1950 with the Tommy Tucker Band and later she worked with several other bands.

Eydie made her first TV appearance in 1953 on The Tonight Show (the Steve Allen version) where she met Steve Lawrence. They were soon married and started performing together. That continued until she died at age 84.

DEKE RICHARDS was born Dennis Lussier and he was a songwriter and record producer with a long association with Motown records. He wrote for and produced The Jackson 5, Bobby Darin, The Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas among many others. (68)

JamesDePreist

JAMES DEPREIST was one of the first African-American symphony conductors. He was a director of the Juilliard conducting program and led the Oregon Symphony Orchestra for more than 20 years. He also twiddled the baton in Montreal, Tokyo, and Monte Carlo.

James was a nephew of the great singer, Marian Anderson. He also overcame polio and kidney disease and kept on creating music. (76)

BobbyBland

BOBBY "BLUE" BLAND was described as having a voice as soft as silk. He created a delicate blend of the blues, gospel and soul genres and influenced Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding and many performers of the rock era.

Bobby was from Tennessee and started out singing in a choir. After hearing T-Bone Walker he was drawn to the blues and went to Memphis where he became a regular on Beale Street with such artists as Rosco Gordon, Earl Forest and B.B. King.

He became good friends with B.B. and they often performed and recorded together. Bobby performs I Just Tripped on a Piece of Your Broken Heart. (83)

♫ Bobby Blue Bland - I Just Tripped on a Piece of Your Broken Heart

PHIL CHEVRON was an Irish songwriter, guitarist and singer. He founded Dublin's first punk band, Radiators From Space. Later he joined the Pogues to play banjo, guitar and mandolin. (56)

JOHN HOPKINS was a British-born Australian conductor and music administrator. In Australia, he created the Prom concerts in Melbourne and Sydney and started a series of new classical music, mostly featuring (then little-known) Australian composers. Many of these were world premieres.

He started the Victorian College of the Arts and was director of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. (86)

MARSHALL LYTLE was a guitarist and bass player. He was most noted as the enthusiastic upright bass player for Bill Haley's Comets. After arguments with Bill over money, he left and founded The Jodimars, the first rock group to play Las Vegas regularly. (79)

ChrissyAmphlett

CHRISSY AMPHLETT was an Australian rock & roll singer and songwriter. She was the lead singer for the group The Divinyls. This group had a revolving membership held together by Chrissy and Mark McEntree. In spite of this they recorded half a dozen albums and had chart topping songs in Britain and the U.S. as well as Australia.

She died of complications of both multiple sclerosis and breast cancer. The Divinyls perform their mega-hit, I Touch Myself. (53)

♫ Chrissy Amphlett and the Divinyls - I Touch Myself

BOB BROZMAN was an American guitarist and musicologist (a real one), who played many instruments, starting at the age of six. He collaborated with musicians from all over the world – Papua-New Guinea, India, Africa, Japan and many other places. (59)

CleothaStaples

CLEOTHA STAPLES was one of the Staple Singers. Not as well known as her younger sister Mavis, Cleotha's soprano voice added a soothing touch to the group's sound.

As the oldest, she was the mother figure and defused arguments, not just in the group but also when they were taunted by racist audience members (you wonder why they'd attend their concerts). She was plagued by Alzheimer's for the last several years of her life. (78)

BERNIE MCGANN was an Australian alto saxophone player and was one of the earliest of modern jazz performers in this country. He was also a session musician and contributed to many rock and pop records as well as jazz. He led his own jazz group for many years, decades really, and was performing until his death at 76.

The Miracles

BOBBY ROGERS was a founder member of The Miracles, a very successful band fronted by Smokey Robinson. That's Bobby on the right. He was also a songwriter and collaborated with Smokey on several of their hits.

He sang the tenor parts alongside Smokey's famous falsetto. Bobby's brother Sonny and sister Claudette were also members of the group (and she eventually married Smokey).

After Smokey left for a solo career The Miracles continued for a time with Bobby singing the lead parts but they eventually folded. There have been several reunion concerts over the years.

Here, the Smokey version of The Miracles sing You've Really Got A Hold On Me with Bobby singing lead. Smokey does the falsetto. (73)

♫ The Miracles - You've Really Got A Hold On Me

KATHARINA WOLPE was a classical pianist who went to England from her native Vienna when she was 16 to escape the Nazis.

Her greatest love was Schubert, however she also performed all the classical composers, especially Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn. Besides them, she championed the works of Berg, Scriabin, Schoenberg and Webern as well.

She later settled in Canada and became pianist in residence at the University of Toronto. (81)

CLIVE BURR was the original drummer for the heavy metal group Iron Maiden. He was with them for their first three albums whereupon they fired him.

Later he was in various groups in France, America and elsewhere. Various members of Iron Maiden later said it was a mistake to remove him as he was a far better drummer than his replacement. Alas, Clive died from complications of multiple sclerosis at the young age of 56.

JIM HALL was described as the father of modern guitar playing. He was universally considered a really nice person with a great sense of humor.

Besides that, he was an outstanding guitarist who played with the likes of Bill Evans, Gerry Mulligan, Sonny Rollins and Chico Hamilton. He influenced many later guitarists, in particular Pat Metheny, Bill Frisell and John Scofield. (83)

Although he was a widely respected singer, songwriter and guitarist in his own right and played in a number of bands, STEVE HYAMS was best known for his time in the group Mott the Hoople. (62)

Marian McPartland

MARIAN MCPARTLAND was a jazz pianist who was born in England but spent most of her life in America. She made many albums over her long career but was even more influential through her long running radio program where she'd play with other musicians and interview them as well.

There were more than 800, including Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Charles, George Shearing, Wynton Marsalis and, of course, many, many others. She started playing the piano at age three and she was later classically trained although after hearing jazz that was it for her.

Marian plays the old jazz classic, On Green Dolphin Street. (95)

♫ Marian McPartland - On Green Dolphin Street

MagicSlim

MAGIC SLIM was born Morris Holt and was given his name by his friend and fellow bluesman, Magic Sam, because he was so tall, Sam said.

He moved to Chicago in the fifties with Sam where they started performing and eventually recording. Slim was an electrifying guitarist who was at his best in front of as live audience rather than in the recording studio. His distinctive slide work was made with his finger rather than a bottle neck or steel as is usual. (75)

JACK CLEMENT was a record producer, songwriter, publisher and musician in his own right. He produced artists as diverse as Louis Armstrong, U2 and Jerry Lee Lewis. He was the producer for Jerry Lee's groundbreaking early records. He also released several albums of his own music. (82)

DEBORAH CHESSLER was a songwriter and music manager and was one of the key figures in the success of DooWop. She managed and wrote songs for Sonny Til and The Orioles. (89)

RAY PRICE was a country singer and guitarist who stared his career playing honky tonk style music and later became famous for his ballad singing.

He hired then unknowns like Willie Nelson, Roger Miller and Johnny Paycheck to play in his bands and remained friends and occasional musical collaborators with them. He stared a music publishing company and kickstarted the careers of songwriters Harlan Howard, Hank Cochran and Willie. (87)

WendySaddington

WENDY SADDINGTON was often referred to as "Australia's Janis Joplin". This did her a disservice, after all she lived way past the sixties and seventies.

Her early life is a mystery; even her friends know nothing of it. During the sixties, she started performing in Melbourne coffee lounges before joining a couple of rock and soul bands.

She was a founder member of the famous blues/rock band Chain but left before their big success. She wrote for a music magazine besides having her music career.

In 1970, she joined the band she's most associated with, Copperwire, and they recorded and toured Australia extensively for a couple of years. Later, Wendy performed in music theatre.

From her days with Copperwire, Looking Through a Window. This will take (some of) us back to 1971. (63)

♫ Wendy Saddington - Looking Through a Window


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Janet Thompson: The Results are Not In Yet


ELDER MUSIC: Toes Up In 2013 - Part 1

Tibbles1SM100x130This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.


MandawuyYunupingu

MANDAWUY YUNUPINGU was an Australian musician and educator who was the singer, songwriter and guitarist for the rock group Yothu Yindi.

He was a Gumatj man, one of group of the Yolngu people from Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. He was the first Arnhem Land Aborigine to obtain a university degree and established Aboriginal teaching alongside western methods.

By 1985, his love of music had led him to start Yothu Yindi which fused traditional indigenous music with rock and other popular music. The group toured extensively in Australia, America and Canada.

He has received several honorary doctorates and was named Australian of the year in 1993 (an honor his brother Galarrwuy received in 1978). Here is Yothu Yindi with their most famous song, Treaty. (He was 56 when he died.)

♫ Yothu Yindi - Treaty

DAMON HARRIS was a soul singer who was a member of the Temptations. He joined the group after Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams left. Damon actually started his musical career in a Temptations tribute band so I guess he knew the songs.

He spent the rest of his musical career coming and going into various incarnations of the group. (62)

It hasn't been a good year for the Temps, RICHARD STREET was another member of the group and he joined around the time that Damon did.

Richard started out singing in a group with Otis Williams that evolved into The Temptations. Initially, he wasn't a "real" member but travelled with them to fill in whenever anyone became "ill". He later left and had a reasonable solo career. (70)

ClaudeKing

CLAUDE KING was a country singer and songwriter, originally from Louisiana, who had a number of charting songs over the years on both country and pop charts. However, by far his biggest seller was Wolverton Mountain which he wrote with Merle Kilgore, apparently based on one of Merle's uncles.

Claude also appeared in several films and a number of TV series. He kept performing and recording right to the end of his life. (90)

PattiPage

PATTI PAGE, or Clara Fowler to her folks, occasionally didn’t get the respect she deserved. I put it down to that Doggie song - you know the one. It won’t be played in any column I write.

Many of her other songs will, though, indeed, she’s appeared many times already. Patti sold more than 100 million records (and still counting); there are few artists who could make that claim.

I always liked Patti (except for that song) and everything else she recorded I was happy with. She started singing in Tulsa in the forties and was picked up by a local band. That didn’t last long and she went out as a solo artist, and what a successful one she was.

Another of her accomplishments is being the first person to record a Burt Bacharach song. There are a lot of songs I could play, but I’ve gone for Allegheny Moon. (85)

♫ Patti Page - Allegheny Moon

WOLFGANG SAWALLISCH was a German pianist and conductor, noted for his conducting for opera – he was a regular at the Bayreuth Festival and at La Scala as well as elsewhere. He gained considerable fame conducting the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra. (89)

PhilRamone

PHIL RAMONE was a record producer who worked with pretty much every important artist in popular music. He was not associated with the rock group that shared his surname.

Phil started out as a classical violinist and won a scholarship to Juilliard. He eventually decided that jazz was more to his liking and started playing around town. He took a day job in a recording studio and the rest is history.

A short list of some of the musicians he's produced includes Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Simon and Garfunkel, Dionne Warwick, Ray Charles, Billy Joel, Stan Getz, Rod Stewart, Elton John and many others. (79)

JEWEL AKENS was an R&B singer who made his start singing in a church choir. When his family moved to Los Angeles he performed in a DooWop group and occasionally as a duo.

He was a backing singer for several artists, most notably Eddie Cochran. He first came to prominence with the huge hit, The Birds and the Bees. He had several other charting songs after that one, and he later turned to music production. (79)

MINDY MCCREADY described her life as a whirlwind of chaos, and this is reflected in her songs. She was a country singer with a large following outside that genre. She pushed country music to its limits as she did with her own life which she took at age 37.

RayManzarek

RAY MANZAREK was the keyboard player and founding member of the rock group The Doors. He seemed to embody the contradictions of rock music as he resembled a tall college professor more than a rock star.

His piano lessons as a boy became tiresome to him until he discovered boogie woogie and he was hooked. He was a movie buff so he went to study film at UCLA where he met Jim Morrison.

They decided to start a band together and The Doors were born. For a few brief years they produced the most interesting music being made in America in spite of Jim's often erratic behavior.

This is Riders on the Storm, an apt title for the group's journey, from their final album together. (74)

♫ The Doors - Riders on the Storm

COLIN DAVIS was an English conductor best known for his days with the London Symphony Orchestra. He started out playing the clarinet but always wanted to be a conductor. He was also a teacher at various academies and universities. (85)

MARTIN SHARP was an Australian artist who also co-founded Oz magazine, first in Australia and later in London. He also created several record album covers, particularly for Cream, and designed many posters for music events which quickly became collectors' items as well as appearing in many galleries.

Martin wrote some songs with his friend Eric Clapton that Cream recorded. He later befriended, promoted and produced Tiny Tim. (71)

TomPallGlaser

TOMPALL GLASER was a country musician who started out performing with his brothers as Tompall and the Glaser Brothers. They were fine harmony singers and were used by Marty Robbins on his groundbreaking "Gunfighter Ballads" album.

The brothers recorded their own albums to minimal success until 1973 when they called it quits. Tompall then went on to forge a successful solo career. He recorded with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter, but he mostly went his own way. The brothers occasionally reformed the group for performances. (79)

SHADOW MORTON was a some-time record producer and a some-time songwriter. He's most noted for writing songs and producing records for The Shangri-Las.

He wrote their most famous hits, Remember (Walking in the Sand) and Leader of the Pack. He later produced Iron Butterfly's In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. I suppose someone had to. (72)

AlvinLee

ALVIN LEE was an English sixties' guitar hero mentioned in the same sentences as Eric, Jimi, Jeff, Jimmy and Pete. Born Graham Barnes, he changed his name as the sixties dawned. His father was a jazz guitarist and his mother played the ukulele, however young Graham took up the clarinet. That is, until rock & roll hit the world.

He was taken by his father's jazz music and he liked to use jazz idioms in rock & roll. He formed the group Ten Years After who had the great fortune to be invited to the Woodstock festival and their appearance, especially Alvin's turn as the "the fastest guitarist in the west" made them one of the biggest groups at the time.

He later had a solo career occasionally interrupted by reunions of the band. Here is Ten Years After with Alvin's incredible fingers playing the Woody Herman composition, Woodchopper's Ball. (68)

♫ Ten Years After - Woodchoppers Ball

GEORGE JACKSON was a soul, rhythm & blues and rock songwriter and singer. He started writing in his teens and a chance meeting with Tina Turner got him a recording date. The record wasn't successful but he kept up the songwriting, producing hits for Clarence Carter, Wilson Pickett, Candi Staton, Bobby Bland and others. (68)

PAT HALCOX was the trumpeter for Chris Barber's Jazz Band. He was with Chris from 1954 to 2008, an amazing length of time. He left the band as he said he'd got tired of touring, as the group was one of the hardest working in music. He also played some session work including a couple of Elton John's records. (82)

JJCale

J.J. CALE was one of the most influential guitarists in rock & roll. He wasn't very well known to the general public but the musicians certainly knew him. His tunes were covered by the likes of Eric Clapton (who made an album with him), Santana, The Allman Brothers, Johnny Cash, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Band, Chet Atkins, Freddie King, Maria Muldaur and many more.

John Cale couldn't use his real name when he started performing professionally as there was already another famous musician with that name. Initially he was unsuccessful and was about to give up the music biz when Eric Clapton recorded After Midnight which became a huge selling record.

His music was really closer to jazz, with a bit of blues thrown in, than rock & roll. He was asked if it bothered him that, although well known by other musicians, many people didn't know his name. He replied that it didn't, "What's really nice is when you get a cheque in the mail."

Here is that song, probably his most famous, After Midnight. (74)

♫ JJ Cale - After Midnight

AMAR BOSE founded the audio company that bears his surname. He was responsible for some of the finest home and professional audio equipment around. His early speaker designs were revolutionary and he produced speakers that were better than any that had gone before.

He donated the majority of his company to MIT's education and research facilities. (83)

TonySheridan

TONY SHERIDAN was a British singer and guitarist whose early records were backed by the then unknown group, The Beatles. Tony started his musical career as a violinist and singer in Gilbert and Sullivan productions.  He switched to guitar when rock & roll reared its head.

In the fifties, he gigged around London in various bands and eventually wound up in Hamburg playing the clubs there. That is where he met the fabs. He became quite successful in Germany but he was always dogged by his link to The Beatles and didn't become as successful as he probably deserved. (72)

JOHN AMIS was a British broadcaster, classical music critic and musical administrator. From the fifties until his death he was a regular contributor to the BBC's musical output. For 20 years he was a member of the terrific panel show, My Music, which is where I first discovered him. (91)

RichieHavens

RICHIE HAVENS was an American singer/songwriter and guitarist. He was born in Brooklyn, and his father moved the family to Montana (whence he came). There Richie and his brother joined a Wild West show (until they reached New York where he stayed).

He settled in Greenwich Village just as the musical ferment of the early sixties was happening. He soon gained a reputation for his singing and his singular guitar-playing style and made several records.

On the basis of this he was included in the Woodstock festival where he opened proceedings (allegedly because he was the only performer present who wasn't stoned out of his gourd). Richie sings Follow from his fine "Mixed Bag" album. (72)

♫ Richie Havens - Follow

KENNY BALL was an English trumpet player who, along with Chris Barber, was instrumental in reviving trad jazz in that country and around the world. His band had a huge hit with Midnight in Moscow and many of their other records made the charts.

His style of music took a bit of a downturn when The Beatles hit it big. Actually, several members of the fabs said they were huge fans of Kenny's music. (82)

ClaudeNobs

CLAUDE NOBS was the co-founder and long time director of the famed Montreux Jazz Festival. One of his policies was to bring in great rock and blues bands as well as jazz musicians. He became close personal friends of many of the musicians who performed there.

Early in his career he signed The Beatles to appear on Swiss TV but the directors vetoed his selection as they believed they weren’t famous enough. (76)

PETER BANKS was an English guitarist who came to fame in the group Yes. He was fired from the group after a couple of years because he liked to perform extended jazz style solos upsetting the others in the group.

He joined Blodwyn Pig for a short time and later formed his own band, Flash. That was followed by Empire that he created with his wife of the time. He was also a successful session musician. (65)

SYBIL MICHELOW was a South African contralto who originally went to London to study piano. She later switched to singing was a great interpreter of Elgar and Handel. She also performed much 20th century music, particularly Tippett, Bliss and Merrick.

Besides singing, she also composed and scored music for Bertolt Brecht's plays amongst others. (87)

GeorgeJones

GEORGE JONES was a country singer with a voice that was as good as just about any around in that field. The life he led gave his songs an aura of authenticity – multiple arrests, divorces, lawsuits, drug busts, car crashes, alcoholism and bankruptcies were all in the mix.

Fortunately, he got himself together when he married his fourth wife Nancy Sepulvado. I'd need a very thick book indeed to tell you his complete history, I'm sure there are several being produced.

I'll let you hear his most famous song, one that he didn’t like at all. He refused to record it for quite some time but eventually weakened. He later admitted that the song revived his flagging career. That song is He Stopped Loving Her Today. (81)

♫ George Jones - He Stopped Loving Her Today

T-MODEL FORD, born James Ford, was a blues singer who taught himself to play guitar when he was 58. He recorded a number of albums in recent years and he always played longer than anyone else at his gigs. His music was rough and ready but very compelling. (about 90)

CecilWomack

CECIL WOMACK and his wife Linda recorded some great soul music in the eighties under the name Womack and Womack. He was also a songwriter of some note and had his songs recorded by Debbie Harry, Hall & Oates, Bette Midler and Boz Scaggs amongst many others.

He was born into a musical family – one of his brothers is the great soul singer Bobby Womack. The Womack family saga reads like a soap opera. Sam Cooke noticed them and signed them to his record company.

After Sam was shot Bobby married Barbara, Sam's widow, rather sooner than you'd expect. Cecil married the singer Mary Wells, had three kids and they were divorced in rather quick time. Mary then had another with Curtis, Cecil's older brother.

Then Cecil married Linda Cooke, Sam's daughter. She's the Linda mentioned above. Somehow or other some great music was produced. (65)

BILL PUTT was the bass player for the hugely influential Australian blues/rock band Spectrum. This band also performed more commercial work under the name The Indelible Murtceps. After the demise of Spectrum, several members of that band, including Bill, formed the equally influential group Ariel. (66)

The Marcels

CORNELIUS HARP was the lead singer for the DooWop group The Marcels. That's him in the middle with the guitar. They had a world wide hit with their rocked up version of the old standard, Blue Moon in the early sixties.

They had success with similar treatment of other such songs, most notably Summertime and Heartaches. The Marcels were one of the first integrated DooWop groups, and here they are with Heartaches. (In his 70s)

♫ The Marcels - Heartaches

JOHN WHITWORTH was a counter-tenor who was very popular in the 40s and 50s. He started performing at King's College Cambridge, and later joined the choir of Westminster Abbey. He made numerous recordings of Renaissance and Baroque music. (91)

RegPresley

REG PRESLEY or Reginald Ball to his mum and dad, was an English singer/songwriter best known to the rest of the world as the lead singer of the band The Troggs. They had only a couple of hits but one of them was the hugely successful song, Wild Thing.

The band was very influential and many later groups like The Ramones and The Stooges have cited them as such. Reg had several strokes recently and finally succumbed to lung cancer. (71)

CEDAR WALTON was a jazz pianist and composer. His mother taught him classical piano and he later had formal training in this area. He went to New York where he played in groups led by Art Blakey, John Coltrane and others. He later formed his own group, but it was as a composer he was most renowned. (79)

JanosStarker

JÁNOS STARKER was an American cello player who was born in Hungary. He was a child prodigy on the instrument and made his first performance when he was six. He started playing professionally at the age of 14.

Many of his family were murdered by the Nazis but he managed to survive. He left Hungary, initially for Switzerland, later to Paris and eventually emigrated to the United States.

He was the principal cellist for several symphony orchestras finally taking that role with the Chicago Symphony. He later settled in Indiana where he held the post of Professor of Music at Indiana University.

He recorded all the famous works for cello, especially the Bach Cello Suites which he managed to record five times. Let's hear some of it. This is the first movement of the Cello Suite No 1 in G Major. (88)

♫ Janos Starker - Bach Cello Suite No 1 in G Major

GORDON STOKER was the lead singer of The Jordonaires who backed Elvis on many of his early hits. He was the last remaining member of the group. They also backed Ricky Nelson, Jim Reeves, Patsy Cline and others. As well, they performed as a stand-alone group. (88)

ALLEN LANIER was the keyboard player, guitarist and songwriter for the heavy metal band Blue Oyster Cult of which he was a founding member. (67)

BOBBIE SMITH was co-lead singer for the soul group the Detroit Spinners (or just The Spinners). The group formed in 1954 and has been performing to the present day. Bobbie was one of the original members. (76)

MarvinJunior

MARVIN JUNIOR was the lead baritone singer in The Dells. The group started out as a standard DooWop group and evolved into a fine soul ensemble. His lead vocals along with Johnny Carter's falsetto voice defined the sound of The Dells.

The group met when they were at school. After singing around town and in Chicago they got a recording date with Chess records. They had a few minor hits before they hit it big with Oh What a Night. The group continued performing and recording well into this century.

Here is my favorite of their songs, O-O I Love You. (77)

♫ The Dells - O-O I Love You

Alas, there are more Toes Up tomorrow.


INTERESTING STUFF – 28 December 2013


BADASS GRANDPA TOKYO DRIFT

The title is from the Just For Laughs guys produce some wonderful pranks (with and without old people).


POSTURE – ACTIVE SITTING

This advice is, as you will see, meant for people who sit all day at their jobs. I suspect retired people also sit a lot. And people like me who work for many hours on a computer.

This is important health advice. Maybe worthy of a New Years resolution (although I don't believe in them).


HOMEMADE SCENES FROM FAMOUS MOVIES

Here is daddy Leon with his baby Orson in a scene from Jaws.

Jaws

And there are many more scenes. I'll let them explain how they came to be:

”The project began after finding that we had accumulated both a lot of cardboard boxes (due to moving to a new country) and a baby (due to giving birth). With our social lives drastically altered we decided to find a way to make some of those housebound weekends a little more fun.”

This, obviously, is Cast Away:

Castaway

”The costumes, props, and sets in Cardboard Box Office are created,” explain the parents, “entirely out of everyday household items, toys, cardboard, and three individuals slowly losing their sanity.”

What a good time these folks must be having. I nominate this mom and dad for parents of the year. You can see more of their homemade movie scenes as their website, Cardboard Box Office.


PHONE CRASHING AT THE AIRPORT

If you don't know what phone crashing is, you're about to find out. (Hat tip to Lilalia of Yum Yum Cafe)


HAND IN HAND BALLET

This is from Nancy Leitz who contributes so many good stories at The Elder Storytelling Place. Performed by Ma Li (馬麗) and Zhai Xiaowei (翟孝偉) – she with one arm, he with one leg.

More information at the YouTube page.


RETURNING TO BALLET AT AGE 55, 59, 75

Like athletes (which they are), dancers have a short career span. They're done, usually, by around 40. My friend John Brandt made sure I saw this story in The New York Times last week:

”The voice on the phone belonged to Masazumi Chaya, the associate artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and he had a startling proposition.

“Would she — Elizabeth Roxas-Dobrish, 55 years old, former Ailey superstar and current artificial-hip owner — come out of retirement to dance at a special performance on New Year’s Eve?

“Are you kidding me?” she responded.

“No, he was not kidding, and eventually the answer was yes, she would do it. And it was yes, too, for a handful of other Ailey alumni who received similar calls, among them Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell, 43...Dudley Williams, 75, and Donna Wood Sanders, 59...”

There is a wonderful short video of an interview with Roxas-Dobrish during rehearsals at The New York Times. Go watch it. You will be inspired.

They will perform Revelations one time only on Tuesday, New Years Eve.

TESTING BATTERIES

I just love it when I find a simple new way to take care of an irritating problem. In this case – how to test whether a battery is good or dead. You can thank Darlene Costner for finding this one.


50 UNBELIEVABLE FACTS ABOUT EARTH

Well, maybe not unbelievable but certainly interesting. Did you know:

Earth is smoother than a bowling ball. High mountains and deep oceans trenches make up only 1/5000th of the earth's circumference)

Up to one million species live in the world's oceans. (Two-thirds are yet to be describefd)

106 billion people have existed on planet Earth.

That's according to All That is Interesting website. Go see the 47 others.


WAFFLES THE TERRIBLE

Cats are all so certain they are perfect, it makes me laugh a lot when they're not.

(Hat tip to Larry Beck who blogs at Woodgate's View.)


Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” in the upper left corner of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I probably won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog if you have one.


Alistair Sim - A Christmas Carol

PERSONAL NOTE: With Christmas day landing smack in the middle of the week this year, it kind of spreads the celebration over all these five days and that gives me an opportunity for some time off.

But not TGB. I've planned ahead so stay tuned throughout the week for a new holiday item every day along with a link to a new Elder Storytelling Place story each of which also carries a Christmas theme.

Merry Christmas, everyone.


Okay, let's do this one more time and then put the season to bed for another year.

When, in early December, I posted of clip from A Christmas Carol starring Alistair Sim as Scrooge, many commented that he is their favorite skinflint.

Here he is again - this time as the voice of Scrooge - in a beautifully animated 1971 version of the famous Dickens tale. Michael Redgrave is the narrator.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Brenda Adams-Henry: One Oriental Christmas


Walk Off the Earth - The Little Drummer Boy

PERSONAL NOTE: With Christmas day landing smack in the middle of the week this year, it kind of spreads the celebration over all these five days and that gives me an opportunity for some time off.

But not TGB. I've planned ahead so stay tuned throughout the week for a new holiday item every day along with a link to a new Elder Storytelling Place story each of which also carries a Christmas theme.

Merry Christmas, everyone.


The Canadian rock band, Walk Off the Earth, recorded their version of this Christmas classic with real dogs and now, thanks to TGB reader Darlene Costner, we can have fun with it this week.

Moreso that many videos, be sure to click the far right icon on the bottom of the video screen to make it full size so you can enjoy the doggies.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dani Ferguson Phillips: The Immaculate Deception


Penelope Keith Yet Another Partridge in a Pear Tree

PERSONAL NOTE: With Christmas day landing smack in the middle of the week this year, it kind of spreads the celebration over all these five days and that gives me an opportunity for some time off.

But not TGB. I've planned ahead so stay tuned throughout the week for a new holiday item every day along with a link to a new Elder Storytelling Place story each of which also carries a Christmas theme.

Merry Christmas, everyone.


Remember how I've made a tradition now at TGB of posting Arlo Guthrie's, Alice's Restaurant on Thanksgiving? Here's my other new tradition that began last year – Penelope Keith's Yet Another Partridge in a Pear Tree.

As I explained in 2012, many Americans may not know of Penelope Keith but for many years our British and Australian cousins have known her as one of the England's most famous actors – yes, she is of our generation.

You can read a bare bones biography about her at Wikipedia, but today we are concerned only with her rendition of The 12 Days of Christmas or, as it is titled in this case, Yet Another Partridge in a Pear Tree.

When you hear this you will wonder how you ever got through the Christmas holiday without it.

No video, just audio, and I promise it is worth every minute. Happy Christmas to everyone and enjoy.

Penelope Keith - And Yet Another Partridge in a Pear Tree


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Carl Hansen: The Most Disappointing Christmas Ever


Nat King Cole - The Christmas Song

PERSONAL NOTE: With Christmas day landing smack in the middle of the week this year, it kind of spreads the celebration over all these five days and that gives me an opportunity for some time off.

But not TGB. I've planned ahead so stay tuned throughout the week for a new holiday item every day along with a link to a new Elder Storytelling Place story each of which also carries a Christmas theme.

Merry Christmas, everyone.


It seemed to me, when I was young, that I had only just come to appreciate Nat King Cole's warm, foggy baritone when he died. He was only 45 years old.

This perennial Christmas favorite, co-written by Mel Torme in 1944, is one of the few Christmas songs I actually like..


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Karen Zaun Kennedy: Gramma's Legacy


Orson Welles' A Christmas Carol

PERSONAL NOTE: With Christmas day landing smack in the middle of the week this year, it kind of spreads the celebration over all these five days and that gives me an opportunity for some time off.

But not TGB. I've planned ahead so stay tuned throughout the week for a new holiday item every day along with a link to a new Elder Storytelling Place story each of which also carries a Christmas theme.

Merry Christmas, everyone.


There are more version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol than I can count (not to mention the Ebenezer Scrooge impersonators in Congress this December).

One of the memorable dramatizations of the 1843 story was a live broadcast on Christmas Eve in 1939, narrated by Orson Welles and starring Lionel Barrymore as Scrooge.

I have always been an avid radio listener. One of the best things about it is that you can do other stuff and not miss any of the action or dialogue as happens with television.

You can do that now with this wonderful 74-year-old production of A Christmas Carol.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mickey Rogers: G-Men are Comin' to Town


ELDER MUSIC: Christmas (Deep Sigh)

Tibbles1SM100x130This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.


Christmas in Oz

Most Christmas songs fall into two categories: entirely too cheerful and thus depressing or depressing and thus depressing. I tend to lean more to the latter but that won't be entirely the case today.

We're also leaning in the direction of the blues as well. That wasn't planned, it's just the way the tunes reared their heads and said, "Use me.”

The first, though, is not the blues. It's an old English ditty sung by the KINGSTON TRIO.

The Kingston Trio

Wassail in old English means "Be you healthy.” It also traditionally involves hot mulled cider. I guess that's to keep you warm while you wander about wassailing all over the place. I wouldn't know. At that time of the year I have no trouble keeping warm here in Australia. Keeping cool is another matter. Here the Trio sing Somerset Gloucestershire Wassail.

♫ Kingston Trio - Somerset Gloucestershire Wassail

JIMMY WITHERSPOON really has this time of the year sussed out.

Jimmy Witherspoon

His contribution to our festival of jollity is called How I Hate to See Christmas Come Around. Nothing more needs to be said as far as I'm concerned.

♫ Jimmy Witherspoon - How I Hate to See Xmas Come Around

Now for something I imagine few of you were expecting, BOB DYLAN singing a Christmas song.

Bob Dylan

In fact he's released a whole album of such material, singing everything straight (or as straight as Bob ever gets). The album is called "Christmas in the Heart" for those who want to search it out. Here is a taste, Must Be Santa.

♫ Bob Dylan - Must Be Santa

Christmas in Oz

B.B. KING comes closest today to a celebration of Christmas.

BB King

That doesn't detract from the quality of his song, fortunately. It's called Christmas Celebration and he gives us some of his fine trademark guitar playing.

♫ B.B. King - Christmas Celebration

BIG JOHN GREER was active professionally between the late forties and mid-fifties.

John Greer

He played tenor sax as well as being a singer and played with Wynonie Harris and Bull Moose Jackson amongst others. He was a bit too fond of the booze and died from its effects in 1972.

His song may be the jolliest one today, We Wanna See Santa Do The Mambo.

♫ John Greer - We Wanna See Santa Do The Mambo

Christmas in Oz

JONATHAN COULTON and JOHN RODERICK sing that they want to be warm at Christmas time.

Jonathan Coulton & John Roderick

Well, Jon and John, that's very easily done. All you have to do is ring Qantas and book a trip to Oz or any other southern hemisphere country. Or even somewhere in the tropics. Easy peasy. Their lament is Christmas in July.

♫ Jonathan Coulton & John Roderick - Christmas in July

If I gave a prize for double entrendre Christmas songs, this next one would be a contender. There are actually quite a few in this category but I've pretty much omitted them, or used them in past years. There are a couple that will probably turn up in next year's column.

In the mean time you'll have to be content with JIMMY BUTLER.

Jimmy Butler

Jimmy reveals hidden meanings in virtually every common Christmas image. So, let's get on with it. This is Trim Your Tree.

♫ Jimmy Butler - Trim Your Tree

Christmas in Oz

If you wanted to come up with a name for your group that would not age well, THE HEPSTERS would fit that bill admirably.

The Hepsters

They started out around 1953 as the 5 Stars and were still attending school when they started performing at weekends around the traps in Cleveland, whence they came.

They made the acquaintance of an "exotic dancer" who got them a recording date where they recorded Rockin' And Rollin' With Santa Claus under the name of The Hepsters. They were influenced by other DooWop groups of the time and this shows in the song.

♫ Hepsters - Rockin' And Rollin' With Santa Claus

Christmas in Oz

Old Santa doesn't look as if he has the Christmas blues in that picture, but LITTLE ESTHER and MEL WALKER certainly do. JOHNNY OTIS as well, as it's his orchestra.

Esther, Mel & Johnny

They all have the Far Away Christmas Blues.

♫ Little Esther & Mel Walker with Johnny Otis Orchestra - Far Away Christmas Blues

I'll end with my traditional moment of couth. I think I've been doing this long enough now to be able to call it a tradition. Here is something by J.S. BACH.

Bach

The music is Ich wuenschte mir den Tod, an aria from his Cantata At the 2nd Day of Christmas, BWV 57. The singer is Ruth Holton.

♫ J.S. Bach - Ich wuenschte mir den Tod

Christmas in Oz


INTERESTING STUFF – 21 December 2013


THE TUTU PROJECT

If you see this without explanation, you'll think it is just too weird to be bothered with – some chubby guy in a pink tutu.

Tutu

See what I mean? But then you dip your toe into the story a bit further, it becomes beautiful:

”You see, this is Bob Carey. Bob’s wife has cancer. She was diagnosed with it in 2003 and The Tutu Project (as it’s now officially called) began as a way for Bob to express himself and make his wife smile. Then, it turned into something much bigger.

“So Bob finds different locations and takes pictures of himself, topless and sporting a fluffy, pink tutu. It helped Linda, his brave wife, smile while she was battling cancer.”

The video tells you much more:

More photos and more about what Bob and Linda are doing at The Tutu Project website. (Hat tip to John Brandt)


FANTASTIC OPTICAL ILLUSIONS

Our own musicologist, Peter Tibbles, sent along this video of amazing optical illusions that even the cat enjoys:

There is more explanation and another video here. And at the YouTube page there are links to images you can print and try the illusions yourself.


CHRISTMAS SIMON'S CAT PART 2

Last week we showed you Christmas Simon's Cat Part 1. The is the followup.


TODAY IS THE WINTER SOLSTICE

So that it should not slip by unnoticed, Marc Leavitt has sent us a sonnet for the event:

The winter time is nearing; raise your glass on high;
Prepare the meal, and let the beer and wine be drunk
To celebrate the shortest day and longest night,
On this time before the coming of deep winter.

The light dims near the edges of the darkling earth,
As men dance and sing to praise the westering sun;

You will have to go to The Elder Storytelling Place to read the rest of it.

EYELID ART FOR CHRISTMAS

Israeli makeup artist Tal Peleg is making amazing miniature pictures on eyelids. Here is a Christmas example:

Tal Peleg eye makeup

You can read more about Ms. Peleg here and see a lot more eyelid art on her Facebook page. (Hat tip to TGB reader Suz)


THE 12 DAYS OF HOUSE REPUBLICANS

Darlene Costner sent this, created by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The whole 12 days goes on way too long for me to sit still so here's the short version:

If you really must have the long version, you'll find it here.


HOLIDAY DINNER SONG

If you have ever tried to cook a dinner that satisfies every guest's food requirement, you'll love this.

When reader Donna sent the video on Thanksgiving Day, she apologized for it being late. But since the parody is set to a Christmas song, I think it's just as appropriate for this week's holiday.

Full lyrics can be found at YouTube.


IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE – FOX NEWS STYLE

I can't stay awake that late so I may need to start recording late night host, Jimmy Kimmel's program – he is doing some interesting comedy lately.

This is his take on how Fox News might promote their annual broadcast of the Christmas classic, It's a Wonderful Life.


A TALKING PORCUPINE NAMED TEDDY BEAR

Nothing much happens in this video and it's pretty silly - just a porcupine eating pumpkin. But it makes me feel happy every time I watch it.

There are more videos of Teddy Bear the porcupine and you'll find them here. (Hat tip to Darlene Costner)


JOHN OLIVER'S FAREWELL DAILY SHOW APPEARANCE

Thursday was John Oliver's final appearance on The Daily Show and Jon Stewart surprised him with a retrospective of his seven-and-a-half years. He's a brilliant comedian and deserves his own show that he will soon have on HBO. It's been a great run - take a look:


Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” in the upper left corner of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I probably won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog if you have one.


New Elder Blood Pressure Guidelines (and Chicken)

On Wednesday, The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) upended 30 years of medical advice by publishing new hypertension (high blood pressure) guidelines from a committee of 17 academcis that apply to people age 60 and older.

For 30 years, conventional medical wisdom has been that most people (and particularly elders) should strive for a blood pressure reading of less than 140/90, that anything higher, according to the new report

”leads to myocardial infarction, stroke, renal failure, and death if not detected early and treated appropriately.”

And so tens of millions of Americans take one or more drugs to control blood pressure above that magic number, 140/90 which describes a majority of Americans older t han 55. Here's a chart about that from the Wall Street Journal from data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

Highbloodpressure

The new number below which drug treatment is no longer recommended is 150/90. That is, the diastolic (bottom) number remains the same; the systolic (top) number is increased by 10.

As you can imagine, there is some controversy about this announcement. It comes mainly because so much progress has been made in controlling hypertension with drugs for the past several decades.

”The old blood pressure targets made a huge difference in patients’ health, said Dr. Marvin Moser, a hypertension expert [quoted in The New York Times], who was the chairman of the first blood pressure guidelines committee in 1977 and a member of the six committees after that, but not of the most recent one.

“'The thing about hypertension is that it is a dull disease, but the results of treatment are spectacular,' he said. The incidence of strokes has fallen by 70 percent since 1972, and heart failure rates have fallen more than 50 percent.

“'It used to be that every third or fourth hospital bed had someone with hypertension in it,' Dr. Moser said. 'Today it is very rare to find someone with malignant hypertension' — that is, dangerously high and uncontrolled blood pressure.”

So if your systolic blood pressure reading falls between 140 and 150 and you take medication for it, maybe you can stop. Or maybe not. It would be foolish to not consult your physician first.

You can read the full report online at JAMA.


CRO_health_ChickenSafety_12-13

While we're discussing health issues, this new study from Consumer Reports is seriously important. The testers bought

”...316 chicken breasts from major national grocery chains, big-box stores, and regional markets in 26 states, and tested them for six bacteria...We tested 252 samples from conventionally produced chickens and 64 from brands that use no antibiotics in raising chickens, including 24 organic samples.

97% of the breasts we tested harbored bacteria that could make you sick.

NINETY-SEVEN PERCENT

While losing 30-plus pounds this year, I gave up all meat – beef, pork, lamb – not because I object all that much to eating them in moderation. The problem for me or anyone determined to lose weight is the high number of calories packed into small amounts of meat.

I would rather use those calories for a larger volume of food – vegetables, fruit, whole grains and fish – that fill my stomach more.

But I did eat chicken, in small amounts as in a salad, on occasion. But never again. Let's repeat that Consumer Reports' finding:

97 PERCENT OF THEIR CHICKEN SAMPLES WERE CONTAMINATED

Here are some other frightening details from the report:

We found no significant difference in the average number of types of bacteria between conventional samples and those labeled “no antibiotics” or “organic.”

More than half of the chicken breasts were tainted with fecal contaminants (enterococcus and E. coli)

About half of our samples (49.7 percent) tested positive for at least one multidrug-resistant bacterium, and 11.5 percent carried two or more types of multidrug-resistant bacteria.

Even if you keep your kitchen very clean, you could still be exposed to illness-causing bacteria if you don’t cook the chicken to an internal temperature of 165° F. It’s vital that you check using a meat thermometer.

According to James R. Johnson, M.D., a professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases and international medicine at the University of Minnesota, you don’t have to ingest a lot of bacteria to become sick. It’s possible that simply touching the plastic wrapping on the outside of chicken packages might expose you to harmful bacteria, Johnson says.

Our tests did not find brands or types of chicken breasts that had less bacteria than the rest.

Personally, I will never eat chicken again. Not at home and certainly not in a restaurant where I have no control of its handling and cooking.

You don't need to be a Consumer Reports subscriber to read the entire report here.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Janet Thompson: A Horsehair Bridle


Chasing Crabby Old Lady Away From the Internet

Crabby Old Lady is spending less and less time online. That ought to be a good thing but it is not.

There are many useful websites Crabby likes that supply her with good information for her blog and her life, let her manage financial accounts, shop for herself and others, find interesting entertainment, etc. But the majority of them have, in recent years, made their sites impossible to use – and it seems to have gotten much worse during 2013. Among the aggravations:

Autoplay blasting music
Autoplay commercials
Irritating moving gifs
Advertising that slides in from the sides over the story text
Pop-up boxes that hide the X to close them
Two or three pop-ups in instant succession
Any pop-ups at all

Then there are the gigantic images that drop down from the top of the screen over the words Crabby is already reading. The New York Times is a frequent but not the only offender of this particular annoyance.

As Crabby desperately tries to hang on to the thought she was just reading, the damned image sits there and after too long, zooms up to the top and she can't find the place where she was reading.

The home page of TheAtlantic (and others) jumps through a succession of photos illustrating headlines before Crabby has time to read the accompanying headline. She usually just leaves the site.

And she quit Huffington Post altogether several months ago. Somehow their techies missed the basic internet101 class that teaches how to code so that the site updates in the background instead of reloading the page when it updates.

Crabby long ago lost track of how many HuffPo headlines she was about to click that disappeared when the page finished reloading.

What the operators of annoying, irritating and badly designed websites don't seem to understand is that with the exception of a few specific writers a reader likes or a user's own bank, for example, none of them – not a single site – has a monopoly on what their website provides.

Be it news items, music, retail items, books or, actually, anything at all available online, one way or another it can always be found somewhere else online too. Crabby has recently changed her surfing habits to take that into account; if anything on any website is really worth knowing, it will appear elsewhere.

Crabby has come to believe the irritations and annoyances have been rotting her brain.

It cannot possibly be good for anyone to be subjected to constant interruptions and distractions with extraneous music, jerky movement from all sides of the screen, pop-ups and other kinds of images interrupting reading and, most important, thought.

Crabby Old lady gets jumpy as the web distractions pile up during her time online. Sometimes she can't make herself finish reading even short, two- or three-paragraph stories. Too often, she lets it go with just headline reading. And that needs to stop.

Getting old is hard enough on an elder's mind. Even without a threat of dementia, it is normal for an elder to sometimes forget why she walked into the bedroom. For some, sleep interruptions leave them fuzzy headed in the morning. And it takes more effort to make new memories in old age.

So the last thing Crabby Old Lady needs at her age is anything that compromises the functioning of her mind. What that means now is a dramatic cutback in web time.

Crabby feels bad about this. The internet held such promise but it is becoming so degraded now, it is almost useless. (And Crabby hasn't even mentioned how awful – even illiterate – the writing increasingly is even on some of the most respected sites. )


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: From China Today


Teens and Elders Together Against Ageism

Thanks to doctafil who blogs at Chalk Jivin', we know about this Canadian film project with teens and elders working together to help fight stereotyping and ageism.

”Through the Age is More program, run in conjunction with Reel Youth, a non-profit organization that focuses on youth and filmmaking, the teens were paired with seniors to make short videos delving into the older peoples' lives.

"'It was amazing,' [16-year-old Opal] McLean says. 'It opened my eyes completely because I never considered ageism to be a really important subject.'"

Opal worked on this film about 88-year-old Bernard Beaudoin:

The project, organized by Revera Inc., a Canadian provider of seniors' care, services and accommodation, grew out of a 2012 research report that found

”...six in 10 seniors age 66 or older say they have been treated unfairly or differently because of their age.

“More than three in 10 Canadians admitted to ageist behaviour, and, according to Revera, 71 per cent 'agree older people are less valued in our society than younger generations.

"'There's a misconception that as soon as you retire...it's like an expiry on a food product," says [Greg Shaw, a director at the International Federation of Ageing.]
The is young filmmaker Ashley Warren with Norma and Roy Clark whose video she worked on.

Roy-and-norma-clark with Ashley Warren

And here is the video with 91-year-old Norma and 87-year-old Roy.

What didn't get mentioned in the film is that Norma is a retired nursing instructor and Roy is a retired surgeon.

”While the Clarks would have liked their video to explore their career experiences, they appreciated the opportunity to be part of the project.

"'I think there was a good camaraderie in all of the relationships,' says Norma. 'When we signed up, we weren't all that sure it was going to be worthwhile, but it was really good. And then when they showed the pictures...it was excellent.'"

The students did such a good job producing these films, we should see another – this one is about Derek Edwards:

I'm sure Opal McLean isn't the only student who learned a lot about elders and I'm guessing the reverse is true too. This is such a productive way to get young and old people together that it should be tried in high schools all over Canada and the United States.

You can read the CBC story about this teen/elder project here and you can see all the short films the students made at Age is More.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Thomas Moore: A Musing


Some Short Newsie Things Elders Should Know

SANDERS' NEW HEALTHCARE BILL
On 9 December, Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders introduced Senate Bill S. 1782, The American Health Security Act of 2013. Healthcare-Now provides a summary of the 189-page legislation – here's the overview:

”The Program provides universal health care coverage for the comprehensive services required under S. 1782 and incorporates Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and TRICARE (the Department of Defense health care program), but maintains health care programs under the Veterans Affairs Administration.

“Private health insurance sold by for-profit companies could only exist to provide supplemental coverage.”

Healthcare-Now has done a good job of condensing the bill. Go read it there or, if you're more wonky than I am today, read the entire bill here.

ELIZABETH WARREN SETS BLOOMBERG NEWS STRAIGHT
Their misinformation is jaw-dropping but with an amazing grace that Bloomberg reporters Stephanie Ruhle and Erik Schatzker don't deserve, Senator Warren corrects the record on Social Security and Medicare.

CHANGING THE SOCIAL SECURITY CONVERSATION
With apologies to someone – I lost the source of this quotation – but what it says is important for us to know: that the conversation about Social Security benefits has done a 180-degree turn in the past 12 months:

”When 2013 began, we were still on the defensive, guarding against a chained CPI, which would have meant severe cuts in Social Security benefits. But today, there are several bills in both bodies of Congress to expand Social Security, and polling shows we have a majority of the American people on our side.

“You can see the change in the budget package Congress is voting on this week—which did not come close to including cuts to Social Security...”

Part of the reason this has happened is that hundreds of thousands of people like you and me keep calling Congress, writing letters and signing petitions against cutting Social Security.

I know many of you groan when I ask you to do this several times a year, but it makes a big difference and even though the conversation is changing we can't let our guard down because there are a lot of zillionaires who still want to kill Social Security.

So in 2014, be assured that I'll be pressuring you to continue your good work because it's not just for us old people, it's for our children and grandchildren too.

PROMOTING THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT WITH RAP
A group called Get Covered has produced a rap song to promote signing up for the new healthcare law. It stars Barack Obama impersonator Iman Crosson. The song is a parody of Snoop Dog's hit Drop It Like It's Hot.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Joanne Zimmermann: Adventures of D.L. Phone


Driving While Old

Aside from dementia, nothing at the moment frightens me more than losing driving privileges. Even if you live in a place with good public transportation such as New York City or Portland, Oregon, it's not the same.

There are half a dozen food markets in my area; each has its advantages and drawbacks so I shop them all. Not all at once and not all in one day but regularly, depending on what I want or need.

Only one is within walking distance and whether walking or riding a bus, I wouldn't always be able to carry all I want so without a car, I would to without some things I would like to have.

And that's just food. It's quite a trek by bus to other places I want to go sometimes – a certain kind of shopping, a restaurant, movie theaters, physician, etc. - and some of those would require changing buses at least once and more than a hour's travel compared to 15-20 minutes by car.

On Saturday, The New York Times published an excellent story about efforts being made to help keep elders driving for as long as possible:

”Instead of handing over his keys, though, Mr. Cullon, who lives in Albany, decided to consult a driving rehabilitation specialist.

She rode with him, observing how well he used his feet, how good his reflexes were and how good his range of motion was in his shoulders and neck. Then she pronounced him fit to take the wheel.”

Times reporter, Alina Tugend, writes that according to the National Transportation Safety Administration, there are currently 35 million licensed drivers older than 65 and that scares a lot of people. However, writes Tugend,

”...the common perception, that the only real choice is between ignoring the difficulties faced by elderly drivers and taking away the car keys, is wrong.

“'We’re evolving in our thinking,' said Jodi Olshevski, a gerontologist and executive director of the Hartford insurance company’s Center for Mature Market Excellence.

"'We’re not just looking at the transition from driver to passenger, but how we can empower drivers to extend their driving as long as possible.'”

And here is a fact you might have guessed if you have been reading TimeGoesBy for any length of time: just as individual people age at dramatically different rates from one another, so it is with elders' driving skills. As AAA spokesperson, Sharon Gilmartin told Tugend:

“'A 50-year-old driver may not be safe, and a 95-year-old driver may function perfectly,' she said. 'Driving is a function of ability, not age.'”

Here's what else Gilmartin told the Times reporter about age-related accident rates:

“'From 65 to 70 years old, you’re looking at rates similar to middle-aged drivers,' she said. In fact, older drivers are often safer, because they are less likely to speed, drive drunk or text while driving.

“But per mile traveled, fatal crash rates increase beginning at age 75 and rise sharply after age 80. That’s not necessarily because older people have more accidents but because they are more fragile and less likely to recover from serious injuries, Ms. Gilmartin said.

“Teenagers are much more likely to kill someone else in a crash; older adults are far more likely to kill themselves.”

So in addition to help from driving rehabilitation specialists, experts are leaning on technical improvements to automobiles to help elders drive longer. A couple of years ago during a visit to Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Michigan, I experienced one of those improvements – the self-parking feature:

Many more are being incorporated into new cars every year – smart headlights, reverse monitoring systems, blindspot warning systems and more that you can read about here.

Like elder-targeted safety measures in other parts of life - grab bars in the bathroom are an example - what is good for old people is always and equally good for younger people too. All these improvements auto manufacturers are inventing are good for everyone.

I'm sorry I will not be in the market for a new car any time soon or, perhaps, ever. My 2004 PT Cruiser with 36,000 miles is doing to just fine (she said, frantically knocking wood) and buying another would be a huge financial stretch.

A lot of people and organizations are making other kinds of serious efforts to help aging drivers stay safely on the road for as long as possible.

After several years of study, The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has just issued an Older Driver Traffic Safety Plan. You can read it here.

The MIT Age Lab working with the Hartford insurance company has developed a series of exercise videos with instructions on maintaining physical strength, range of motion, coordination and flexibility that will help keep elders driving longer. You can see those here.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has just published a state-by-state list of license renewal requirements and other provisions for elder drivers that you can see here.

Most of all, I urge you to read Alina Tugend's entire Times story. It is thorough, informative and cogent and I am pleased to know that there are knowledgeable, accomplished people who are thoughtfully working to help keep me driving for as long as I can safely do it.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Vicki E. Jones: Strider's Surprise


ELDER MUSIC: 1941

PeterTibbles75x75This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.


What Happened in 1941?

  • Bob Dylan was born
  • Marlene Dietrich became an American citizen
  • The Bismarck was sunk (there could be a song in that)
  • America entered the war
  • Citizen Kane was released
  • Melbourne were premiers

Following on from 1940, I'll start this year with Lady Day. BILLIE HOLIDAY, that is.

Billie Holiday

Billie's song is one she wrote herself with Arthur Herzog, God Bless the Child.

♫ Billie Holiday - God Bless The Child

THE INK SPOTS had a number of hits in 1941.

The Ink Spots

This is just one of them, Someone's Rocking My Dreamboat written by Leon René and Emerson Scott.

♫ The Ink Spots - Someone's Rocking My Dreamboat

One of DUKE ELLINGTON's more famous tracks is Take the A Train.

Duke Ellington

Billy Strayhorn played for Duke after a concert and Duke was so impressed he invited Billy to his home. He gave him directions to get there, part of which was "Take the A train."

Billy liked the line and composed the tune at the party and wrote it down for Duke. It became the band's signature tune (another one of those).

♫ Duke Ellington - Take The A Train

ERNEST TUBB's song Walking the Floor Over You is generally considered the first honky tonk song.

Ernest Tubb

The first one to become a hit at any rate. Ernest recorded the song several times over the years, but the original one from this year had just him playing acoustic guitar and "Smitty" Smith on electric guitar.

His voice later improved on subsequent versions, but it's interesting to get the raw initial version.

♫ Ernest Tubb - Walking The Floor Over You

Key to the Highway is usually attributed to Chas Segar and BIG BILL BROONZY.

Big Bill Broonzy

Bill said that it was based on a traditional tune and Chas used to sing one version and he another. They got together and melded them and produced the one we know.

The song has had many cover versions, most notably by Little Walter, The Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton. This is Bill from 1941.

♫ Big Bill Broonzy - Key To The Highway

Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy is one of the iconic songs from World War II. It was recorded by THE ANDREWS SISTERS.

The Andrews Sisters

To my ears it sounds like an early take on jump blues, a style that became common later in the decade that lead eventually to rock & roll. The song was featured in the Abbott and Costello film, Buck Privates.

♫ Andrews Sisters - Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy

My goodness, jazz/swing from around this time produced some fine clarinet players. ARTIE SHAW is just one of them.

Artie Shaw

Artie wasn't quite like the other band leaders/arrangers at the time. He was influenced by Igor Stravinsky and he often introduced classical elements into his music. Not much of that on this one though, Frenesi.

♫ Artie Shaw - Frenesi

Now for something completely different, CHAMPION JACK DUPREE.

Champion Jack Dupree

Jack, or William to give him his birth name, was from New Orleans, born in 1908, 09 or 10 – nobody seems to know and Jack's not telling. Well, he can't any more.

He was orphaned when he was only two years old and sent to the New Orleans Home for Colored Waifs. That place, incidentally, was where Louis Armstrong was sent as well. It was there that Jack taught himself to play piano.

He was later apprenticed to Tuts Washington and Willie Hall. It was from Willie that he learned the song, Junker's Blues.

♫ Champion Jack Dupree - Junker's Blues

Here is another song with TOMMY DORSEY and FRANK SINATRA.

Tommy Dorsey and Frank Sinatra

Not just those two, but CONNIE HAINES and THE PIED PIPERS are on board as well.

Connie Haines and The Pied Pipers

All of these folks get together to perform Oh! Look At Me Now!

Tommy Dorsey with Frank Sinatra - Oh! Look At Me Now!

VAUGHN MONROE is best known around my place for the song They Call the Wind Mariah.

VaughnMonroe6

That's not what we have today though, after all he sang other things too, I remind myself. Besides being a singer he was a talented trumpeter and trombone player, although these are seldom in evidence on his records. The song is There I Go.

♫ Vaughn Monroe - There I Go

1942 will appear early next year.


INTERESTING STUFF – 14 December 2013


TWIN BOYS JUST BORN

All it says at the YouTube page is that they don't realize yet they have been born – I'm guessing that means they don't know yet they're in a new environment. It is magical. (Thank you and hat tip to Nikki Lindquist)


IF YOUR FRIENDS WERE CATS AND DOGS

My friend Steve Oppenheim turned me on to these guys. Funny premise, fun video.

If that's not enough for you, there is more in Part 2.


THE SNOWFLAKES OF ALEXEY KLJATOV

According to accuweather.com, there are so many variables that influence a snowflake's design that it's entirely possible no two are alike.

Moscow photographer Alexey Kljatov has produced dozens of high resolution photographs of dramatically different snowflakes.

Snowflake 1

Snowflake 2

Bored Panda website tells us that Kljatov is an amateur photographer who has made these stunning close ups with a homemade camera built

”...out of old camera parts, boards, screws and tape. His pictures give us an enchanting close-up view of snowflakes that we could never hope for without specialized equipment.”

You can see more of Kljatov's snowflake images at the two links above and even more at this website.


TOP SECRET DRUM CORPS

I don't know why it's called that – it seems to be no more than just a name. The YouTube page tells us,

”Top Secret Drum Corps is a precision drum corps based in Basel, Switzerland. With 25 drummers and colorguard members, the corps became famous for its demanding six-minute routine performed at the Edinburgh Tattoo in 2003.”

It's been nothing but uphill for the Corps ever since. This routine was performed in 2012:

Hat tip to Darlene Costner.


WATCHMAKER SHUTS HIS TINY STORE

Sal Bracco has been fixing watches in New York City for 65 years. When he retired this week to his home on Staten Island, the 79-year-old had been fixing watches since he was 13 or 14. That was when he began serving

”...an apprenticeship with a cousin who had a shop on a narrow street in south Brooklyn, sitting by his side for a year and watching him work. Young Sal also cleaned the outhouse for his cousin.

“'He was a tyrant,' Mr. Bracco said. 'Most watchmakers were in those days. You had to keep your eyes open. After a year of watching, I came in one day and he said, 'Sit down and start working.’”

This story appealed to me because Bracco may be near the last of a breed now that so few of us wear watches. But I was interested in this idea too: Bracco told the reporter that “nothing,” when he apprenticed, appealed to him about watchmaking. “I was making a living,” he said.

Not the sort of thing any parent today would think is good enough for their kid. You can read the whole story at The New York Times.


DOGS WHO ARE AFRAID OF CATS

This has been all over the internets in the past week or two. That doesn't make it less funny.


A MINIATURE GINGERBREAD WHITE HOUSE

I like doll houses. I also like gingerbread houses. I just like miniature houses and every year, the White House chefs create a miniature of the place where they work.

It's a nice thing to make this house every year. I just wish they'd let me produce the video – they do a very unsatisfactory job of it. Watch for a brief glimpse of the two first family dogs inside the little house.


CHRISTMAS SIMON'S CAT – PART 1

TGB Reader Bev Carney sent this newest Simon's Cat video. Apparently, from the title, there will be a Part 2. I'm relying on you, Bev, to let me know when it's available.


WHAT IS A WESTJET CHRISTMAS?

Big corporations don't have much of a reputation these days and that's mostly deserved. I don't know anything about Canadian airline Westjet's reputation but after this, there are at least two planeloads of people who must think it's a cool company. Take a look.


Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” in the upper left corner of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I probably won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog if you have one.


You're Only Old Once

SeussCover Did you know that Dr. Seuss wrote a book about being old? It's called You're Only Old Once – a Book for Obsolete Children.

The book was published on Theodor Seuss Geisel's 82nd birthday in 1986, and he wrote it after having spent entirely too much time undergoing medical examinations.

I felt the same way last week after a lengthy visit with a couple of doctors so it was fun when I got home to read this book again. As Seuss writes at the beginning, I too wish I could live in this kind of world:

Seuss fottafazee

He continues:

'cause the air that they breathe
is potassium-free
and because they chew nuts
from the Tutt-a-Tutt tree.

This gives strength to their teeth,
it gives length to their hair,
and they live without doctors,
with nary a care.

Thereafter, the entire story is about the folly an extended physical examination can turn out to be. The hearing test:

Seuss hearing

Continuing:

Then they'll say, “My dear fellow, you're deafer than most.
But there's hope, since you're not quite as deaf as a post.
We'll study your symptoms. We'll give you a call.
In the meantime, go back and sit down in the hall.

I'm lucky that (for now) I need no prescription drugs and take only three basic supplements. Nevertheless, this section of Seuss's book feels all too real:

For your Pill Drill you'll go to Room Six Sixty-three,
where a voice will instruct you, “Repeat after me...
This small white pill is what I munch
at breakfast and right after lunch.

I take the pill that's kelly green
before each mail and in between.
These loganberry-colored pills
I take for early morning chills.

I take the pill with zebra stripes
to cure my early evening gripes.
These orange-tinted ones, of course,
I take to cure my charley horse.

I take three blues at half past eight
to slow my exhalation rate.
On alternate nights at nine p.m.
I swallow pinkies. Four of them.
"

Seuss pills

The reds, which make my eyebrows strong,
I eat like popcorn all day long.
The speckled brown are what I keep
beside my bed to help me sleep.
This long flat one is what I take
if I should die before I wake.

Thank you, Dr. Seuss, wherever you are.

Dr. Seuss

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dan Gogerty: The Yellow School Bus – Social Media with a Whiff of Gravel Dust and Exhaust


Helping Out Elders in Winter

Although we are finally heading back into the low 40s Farenheit today, like much of the United States for the past week or 10 days, my area has suffered frigid, below freezing weather 24/7. Unusual for northwest Oregon.

Perhaps I am more tuned to elders and cold weather because my 92-year-old grandmother, many years ago, froze to death in her home. (I wrote about that four years ago in The Terrible, Lonely Death of an Old, Old Woman.)

I always think about how Grandma Hazel's life ended during arctic weather spells. Although hers was a special case undoubtedly involving some degree of cognitive disability, winter is more treacherous for all elders than it is for younger adults.

Hypothermia (drop in body temperature) can happen more easily in old age. It causes mental confusion, slurred speech, stiffness in arms or legs, slow body movement, irregular heart beat and death.

Body temperature below 96 degrees (98.6 is the average normal) is a medical emergency requiring immediate treatment.

In old age, we do not always feel temperature changes as easily as when we were younger so it's harder to know when you're getting too cold. I've noticed this in myself and am still surprised occasionally that I don't feel as cold as I did two or three decades ago when I could be heard bitching about being out in winter weather.

Right now, I'm dreading next month's power bill. This place is heated with electricity and as I noted, it's not been this cold for this long during any of the previous three winters I've lived here so I've turned the heat on much more frequently and for longer than usual over the past 10 days.

I will be able to pay the bill, but I suspect I'm not going to be happy about it and we should all be aware of low-income friends and neighbors who might not turn up the heat enough to be safe And, of course, they would never mention it. Inside temperatures should not be set below 68-70 degrees during the day in cold weather.

If you or an elder you know uses a space heater for additional warmth, the National Institute on Aging supplies this safety checklist:

  • Make sure your space heater has been approved by a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Choose the right size heater for the space you are heating.
  • Put the heater on a flat, level surface that will not burn.
  • Keep children and pets away from the heating element.
  • Keep things that can catch fire like paint, clothing, bedding, curtains and papers away from the heating element.
  • If your heater has a flame, keep a window open at least one-inch and doors open to the rest of your home for good air flow.
  • Turn the heater off when you leave the room or go to bed.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working.
  • Put a carbon monoxide detector near where people sleep.
  • Keep an approved fire extinguisher nearby.

I would add that you should never connect a space to the wall outlet using an extension cord.

Some other important cold-weather information:

Drink alcohol sparingly or not at all – it encourages loss of body heat.

Try not to go out on the coldest, windiest days. If you must, wear several layers of loose clothing, nothing tight, that will trap and hold in body heat. Don't ever forget hat and gloves.

Ask your physician if any medications you take can affect body temperature. According to several resources, some drugs used to treat anxiety, depression and nausea can increase risk of accidental hypothermia as can some over-the-counter cold remedies.

Prepare for power outages with flashlights, additional batteries or use crank-powered flashlight, battery- or crank-operated radio, a corded phone is a help as cell towers may be inoperable and learn where your community's warming shelters are.

In addition, keep a good supply of canned food on hand because during prolonged power outages food in refrigerators and freezers can spoil.

(Here's a personal tip on that: during one power outage when I lived in Maine, I knew the temperature wasn't going to be above about 20 degrees for coming week so I just moved all the frozen food to the back deck.)

We have discussed here many time the terrible debilitating effects on elders of falls and one-third of us fall down every year. So be extra careful on snowy and icy walkways – stay in if at all possible. Footwear should have good traction, non-skid soles. If you use a cane or walker, make sure the rubber tips are not worn down.

When temperatures are below freezing and particularly during power outages when you are without heating, leave one or two water taps open and dripping to help prevent frozen pipes.

It is a kindness to check on elder friends and neighbors during cold snaps. Are they warm enough? Do they need their walk- and driveways shoveled? If they do not drive, do they need a lift to the grocery store and back?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has even more tips - one for winter emergency preparedness and another with winter safety and health information.

Whew. When you've done all that, cozy up to your heat source, sit back and Let It Snow like Frank Sinatra sings.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Henry Lowenstern: Season's Greeting