Previous month:
February 2014
Next month:
April 2014

Elder Dating

If you have read the About page on this blog or the Photo Biography, you know that I spent 25 years or so in New York City producing television shows. Because it's “show biz,” it operates differently from other businesses and when a new executive on any given show was hired, he or she often cleaned house to have the head count to fill with favored past colleagues.

There were a few times I was on the losing end of that “tradition” and while I was between gigs I sometimes wound up in some weird jobs – at least to me; work that I would not have sought on my own but a friend or friend of a friend knew my circumstances and matched me up with someone who needed a fill-in for short while.

One of those was a high-end, personal dating service. (There was no internet yet – this was the 1970s - and placing ads in newspapers or magazines was still new enough to feel a little creepy to many people.)

I've forgotten the exact details, but the general idea of the service was that the client would be introduced to three personally-selected people who matched the criteria the client had detailed on the application, along with invitations three parties that were held in the service owner's lavish Central Park apartment for all current clients to mingle.

At a price of $2500 for six months, the service was meant for professionals and members were mostly the Wall Street crowd, doctors, lawyers and assorted business types ranging in age from 30 or 35 to 50.

The owner's selection process for dates was amazingly casual, at least to me: “Oh, I think Larry and Sue would get along nicely, don't you, Ronni?” Nothing as thorough as that guy from eHarmony.com promises or, at least, implies in the television commercials.

It all felt just a bit sleazy and it wasn't the most fun I've ever had for a paycheck.

It had been many years since I'd thought about that gig until last week when The New York Times reported on some 21st century dating services for people age 60 and older - the “fastest growing demographic” of online dating.

But many older daters, explains The Times, don't use computers or are uncomfortable with dating websites so they are willing to pay for the services of “social strategy consultants” and “life coaches” who help clients re-learn the dating ropes.

”One of the big dating challenges for both sexes in this age group is that they are so rusty 'they go back to their same awkward self at age 20, insecure and unsure,' said Ms. [Judith] Gottesman [a geriatric social worker turned matchmaker], who charges a $3,600 registration fee that is good for up to three years, and an additional $7,200 once a couple is matched.”

That's as pricey for today as it was during my short foray into the dating business nearly 40 years ago.

Among Ms. Gottesman's advice:

”Don’t talk incessantly about — or show photos of — your deceased spouse. Don’t talk disparagingly about your ex. Don’t whip out your collection of diabetes, cholesterol or heart medications.”

I wonder if old people really need to be told that?

Mostly for financial reasons – to preserve inheritances for their children, for example - the majority of older daters are not looking for marriage:

"Harold Spielman, 86, is the co-author of Suddenly Solo: A Lifestyle Road Map for the Mature Widowed and Divorced Man...asked 1,600 men and women over 55 about their feelings on love...

Among his findings: More than 80 percent of both men and women said that the main reason to couple was 'to share life experiences, past and future,' said Mr. Spielman..."

The main reason to date, the respondents told Spielman, is “to share life experiences, past and future.”

That sounds a lot like a friend to me and last week, without touching on the subject of love or romance, we talked here at some length about how to find new friends in old age without breaking the bank account and we have some good strategies.

But that is not to say that if romance or a “friend with benefits” is more your goal and you don't choke on a price of several thousands dollars, this isn't a useful idea. Loneliness is a terrible thing and any way to alleviate it is to the good as far as I'm concerned.

Less expensive (but not cheap) is online dating that with commonsense precautions can be safely navigated. Marketwatch has a good list of the risks and how to avoid them.

And this website has a chart of the prices of the big-name online dating services.

Whatever stigma once existed with online dating has long dissipated and matchmakers are hardly a modern phenomenon – they've been around for millennia so you should not be shy about using them.

I'm curious to know if any of you, dear readers, have tried a matchmaker or online dating service and if so, what your experience was like.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Norm Jenson: Spring


ELDER MUSIC: 1948

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.


What happened in 1948?

  • Jackson Browne was born
  • FX Holden released (that's for the Australians reading)
  • The long playing record (33⅓) invented
  • Olympic Games held in London
  • Key Largo was released
  • America won the Davis Cup
  • Melbourne and Essendon played a draw in the Grand Final
  • Melbourne were premiers in the replay

Nature Boy is a bit of a strange song written by a bit of a strange songwriter – eden ahbez (he used the lower case).

He was born George Arbele in Brooklyn and was later adopted by a family in Kansas where he went by the name George McGrew. Later, he grew his hair long, had a beard and wore sandals and white robes.

He may have been the first hippie. He lived with his family in the woods under the first L of the Hollywood sign. They lived on fruit and nuts (appropriate) and vegetables.

He got the song to NAT KING COLE who was mightily impressed with it and recorded it. It became a big hit.

Nat King Cole

♫ Nat King Cole - Nature Boy

PAULA WATSON recorded A Little Bird Told Me and it started to make a mark on the charts.

Paula Watson

A big record company, Decca, had Evelyn Knight record the song. She did that and it was virtually identical to Paula's version – vocals, backing instruments, the lot, such that many people couldn't tell them apart. Yet another example of white artists ripping off the black originals.

Paula's record company sued. Unfortunately, they lost; the judge said that arrangements aren't copyrightable. Hmm. Anyway, here's the original by Paula.

♫ Paula Watson - A Little Bird Told Me

Speaking of black originals, here's one of a kind JOHN LEE HOOKER.

John Lee Hooker

The tune today was John Lee's first release and it's been called "the riff that launched a million songs.”

It inspired, and was used in, countless blues and rock tunes. It's amazing how far you can get on a single chord. The song is Boogie Chillen'.

♫ John Lee Hooker - Boogie Chillen'

Yet another great blues artist, the great MUDDY WATERS made a musical dent this year.

Muddy Waters

Muddy recorded this song for the Aristocrat label, the forerunner of Chess records. He created it from two of his previous songs, ones that Alan Lomax recorded when Muddy was still on a plantation in Mississippi.

This was the song that broke Muddy to a wider audience, I Can't Be Satisfied.

♫ Muddy Waters - I Can't Be Satisfied

EDDY ARNOLD was born on a farm in Tennessee.

Eddy Arnold

His father played the fiddle and his mother the guitar so he had a good head start on this music caper. He started singing on radio stations in the area and then further afield.

He caught the eye and ear of "Colonel" Tom Parker (now, where have I heard that name before?) who got him a record deal with RCA. Eddy's song today is Anytime, a song that's been recorded by quite a few people over the years.

♫ Eddy Arnold - Anytime

If you think rock & roll didn't begin until the fifties, point your ears at this next song by WILD BILL MOORE.

Wild Bill Moore

All I need to do is say that the title is We're Gonna Rock, We're Gonna Roll.

♫ Wild Bill Moore - We're Gonna Rock, We're Gonna Roll

In 1948, NELLIE LUTCHER had a string of hits on the R&B charts.

Nellie Lutcher

Nellie was a jazz and R&B singer and also played piano. She was a major influence on Nina Simone.

Nellie was from Louisiana, one of 15 kids. Her parents both played instruments (I'm surprised they had time) and young Nellie received piano lessons. At 12, she played piano for Ma Rainey and at 14 she joined her dad's jazz band.

She later moved to Los Angeles where she became friends with Nat King Cole. They duetted on several records of Nat's over the years. Her song today is probably her most successful, Fine Brown Frame.

♫ Nellie Lutcher - Fine Brown Frame

ARTHUR SMITH is a pretty mean guitar picker.

Arthur Smith

He first played cornet and later switched to banjo and guitar. In 1955, he wrote and recorded a tune called Feudin' Banjoes. This was later renamed Dueling Banjoes and used memorably in the film Deliverance (it wasn't his version that was used though).

The tune today is called Boomerang and for the life of me I can't see any connection to Australia in it.

♫ Arthur Smith - Boomerang

THE ORIOLES were one of the first DooWop groups to become successful.

Sonny Til

They were lucky in having Sonny Til as lead tenor. Indeed, the group later became known as Sonny Til and The Orioles. They were originally called The Vibra-Naires (I'm glad that one didn't last) and about that time Deborah Chessler became their manager.  She was also a songwriter of some skill and wrote the song, It's Too Soon to Know.

♫ The Orioles - It's Too Soon to Know

THE INK SPOTS turn their hand to a song written by William Faber and Fred Meadows called You Were Only Fooling.

The Ink Spots

Like a lot of songs around this time, there were several versions all of which made the charts. The Ink Spots were the ones who made the highest rung.

♫ The Ink Spots - You Were Only Fooling

1949 will appear in two weeks' time.


INTERESTING STUFF – 29 March 2014


LET'S BRING BACK JONATHAN WINTERS

In April 1964, late night host Jack Paar handed comedian Jonathan Winters a stick. It's just an old stick and all Paar says is, “Do something with it.” Watch as Winters riffs for four minutes of unrehearsed, brilliant funny stuff.

I don't think there are any contemporary comedians half as inventive as Jonathan Winters was. Give a big round of applause to Darlene Costner for forwarding the clip.


INEQUALITY MAP – YOUR STATE

You would think that having more money by magnitudes than everyone else on earth would be the best revenge but hardly a day goes by now that a billionaire isn't whining that people are saying saying not-nice things about him (they are mostly male).

Now, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) has issued a report showing the width of the income and wealth inequality gaps between the one percent and the 99 percent grew from 1979 to the most recent years for which numbers are available. Here's the United States average:

EPI Average Income U.S.

In Oregon where I live, average income of the one percent in 2011 was 17.6 times that of the 99 percent. In Texas that year it was 26.3 times the 99 percent and in New York State is was a whopping 40.5 times more than the 99 percent.

You can check your state on the interactive page here, and the full EPI report is here.


MAGIC TRICK FOR DOGS

It turns out that dogs are puzzled by a magician's disappearance tricks in about the same way we humans are. It's good fun – take a look.

The magician is Jose Ahonen and the YouTube page wants us to know that the dogs were not deprived. They got treats both before and after the trick.


HE CAN SING ONLY IN THE SHOWER

Last Sunday, TGB's resident music columnist, Peter Tibbles, referenced the old standard, O Sole Mio.

That reminded my friend Jim Stone about a rather obscure 1999 movie titled Shower. I'll let Jim set up the scene:

”...the singer hung out at an old Chinese bath house with a bunch of older guys, and he always sang that song under the shower. But he was so shy that he couldn't get a note out in public.

“[In the clip], the kid working the hose is the mentally-challenged son of the old bath house owner, whose business is slated for demolition to make way for modernization...Keep Kleenex close."

Jim also mentioned that it is “a warm, touching, sentimental, wonderful movie.” I checked and it's available at Netflix via DVD but not for streaming. You can find out more about the film at Wikipedia.


FULL COURT VIDEO

TGB reader Bill Griffith send this video and a good thing that is because I'd never track it down – I pretty much ignore all sports. Really. All. But even I am impressed with this.

From the YouTube page:

”Quince Imaging, in partnership with the Cleveland Cavaliers' Q-TV team and Think Media Studios, projected full court video in anticipation of the halftime ceremony honoring Zydrunas Ilgauskas.”

Amazing. Take a look:


SARA DAVIDSON AND THE REBBE

Ten days ago or so, I told you about Sara Davidson's new book, The December Project, which is a report of the two-year conversation she conducted with widely revered Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi on the topic of “how not to freak out about dying.”

In doing that, I jumped the gun – the book would not be officially published until 25 March. It's published now and is available here and at all the usual booksellers online and off.


THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF FOOTLOOSE

Back in 1984, Footloose was a gigantic hit movie that helped make Kevin Bacon a star and is still thought of today as iconic.

Here is Bacon's amazing parking garage dance:

A week or so ago, Bacon visited Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show and recreated some of that dance proving he still has the moves at age 56. Take a look:


HOW CORPORATIONS BECAME PEOPLE

Last Tuesday, the Supreme Court of the United States heard the case of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. in which the issue of corporate personhood plays a central role.

Corporations with the rights of people. Uh-huh. Not something anyone not a billionaire can much get his or her head around.

To help us out, MSNBC host Joy Reid gave us a history of how corporations became people in a short, little video that is easy to understand.

(On a news network increasingly populated with hosts who are either hysterics or deeply uninformed, Reid is a standout adult on the roster – smart, reasoned and well-informed. Her show is broadcast at 1PM Eastern.)

You can read more about the Hobby Lobby case here.


THE GUINNESS RECORDS CARD STACKER

This guy, Bryan Berg, has been all over the web, television, elsewhere for 20 years but I'd never heard of him before Darlene Costner send some photos of his card stacking work.

Bryan Berg

Bryan Berg

Berg holds Guinness World Records for largest and tallest houses of cards. Here is a profile of him from Guinness:

Part 2 of the video here and there is more information at Berg's website and Wikipedia.


HEART STOPPING RESCUE VIDEO

The spectator commentary on this video is a little weird but don't let that keep you from cheering the rescue. It seems like a make-believe movie scene but is all the more riveting for being real.


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.


Crabby Old Lady, Books and Blog Spam

When this blog started up a decade ago, nobody cared about or wanted to know anything about old people.

As Crabby Old Lady has often explained, back then pretty much everything about aging in the popular press, academia, television and movies was, when it was mentioned at all, devoted to disease, debility and decline.

The amount, if not the theme, changed in what felt like an instant when the media realized in 2006 that the oldest baby boomers were turning 60 that year and they had a new (to them), vast, untapped audience for information about getting old.

Well, “information” - if you define the word as useful – is a overstatement. In Crabby's experience, about 95 percent of everything written about elders and aging - especially the Niagara of new book titles that clutter Crabby's inbox - is drek.

What has happened, as far as Crabby can tell, is that anyone who is age 40 or so and older seems to believe that he or she is an expert on aging and therefore has a right to be paid for those observations.

To make that bad news worse, the few newbie writers who might have something interesting to add to the conversation about getting old are mostly hampered by poor writing skills. Crabby would be embarrassed to recommend most of their books to you.

Then there are the professional writers who, although they can write more engagingly, have little to add about what it's like to get old that we don't already know. Too often, their books are quickies meant to cash in on the aging boomer phenomenon.

And all that is not to mention the endless stream of books about how to stay young forever. (Regular readers know how Crabby Old Lady feels about that subgenre.)

All of the above is the reason you see only half a dozen books a year mentioned on this blog. Crabby does not “review” books. She sees no point in telling you, dear readers, why you should not spend money on a book and it saves her from finishing the truly awful ones.

But that is only prelude to what Crabby is here to say today. The real reason is that it's been a bad couple of weeks at Time Goes By for comment spam of a specific type. It eats up too much of Crabby's time. It makes her not want to read email in the morning. It makes her want to walk away from the computer and ignore her blog. It is a terrible thing to ruin someone's pleasure.

Many of you will recall that too often in past months, your legitimate comments have not posted. The cause was a difficulty with spam filters at the blog host, Typepad, and it took them nearly a year to repair the problem. It has now been a month of smooth sailing with only real spam caught in the filters. Hurray.

In its place, however, TGB is being plagued with a different sort of spam – book authors who leave what could otherwise be deemed a legitimate comment but then they append the name of their book, sometimes a sentence or two of promotional language and link to the purchase page.

Now in case you have not noticed, Time Goes By is an advertising-free zone. Deliberately so.

Many years ago, she tried advertising but it was more work than the low revenue justified. Unless a website gets half a million or more page views a day, nobody pays much for ads and although TGB traffic is, gratifyingly, several thousand page views a day and growing - quite successful for a personal blog - it is miles away from enough to make the work of carrying ads worth the administrative effort.

So Crabby absorbs the cost of running Time Goes By which amounts to a few hundred dollars a year – cheap enough for the pleasure she gets from the writing and the terrific community that has developed here.

Back to the book spammers. For no reason Crabby can discern, there has been an annoying upsurge in their number this month – the professionals and the amateurs. Crabby reads every comment left on Time Goes By and as soon she sees a spam comment, she kills it.

In the case of the book spammers (not one of whom has ever commented before), Crabby has taken to emailing them a terse but polite explanation of the reason their comment, or part of it, has been deleted.

About half the spammers write back to say, “oh my, I didn't realize that you would object. I am so sorry. I just wanted people to know about my wonderful book,” etc. etc.

Crabby's calling bullshit on that. Would the same people have the nerve to paste an advertising poster on the front of Crabby's home? On the windows of the local supermarket or Walmart?

That is what they are doing by trying to sneak a free ad for their book in the comments. In any other form it is called theft and it infuriates Crabby Old Lady.

What makes it sad is that if any of these writers had emailed to tell Crabby about the book and ask if she were interested, it's possible that it would become a TGB selection. Unlikely but possible and anyway, it is the right thing to do instead of trashing up Crabby's website.

Okay, Crabby's had her say and if you stuck around to the end, she is flabbergasted since it is not a stretch to label this post itself a kind of spam. Crabby's excuse is that there has been so much awful writer spam it cast out any other thoughts from her head.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Carl Hansen: Before Nail Guns Were Invented


Statistical Notes on the U.S. 65-Plus Population

The United States Bureau of the Census is a formidable agency. It's primary responsibility is, as we know, to conduct the constitutionally-mandated nose count of the population every ten years ending in a zero but it collects much more information than that.

The Census Bureau is a gold mine of data that local and federal agencies, private and public corporations, non-profits and others rely on to make informed business, economic and governmental decisions and a lot of it is updated every year.

It is easy for an amateur like me to get lost for hours poring over the thousands of charts, PDF reports, graphs and other information.

One thing all those numbers can do is help define a subset of the population. Like us. Old folks. For example, in 2012 there were 43,145,356 people age 65 and older – about 5.5 million more women than men.

In the same year, there were 5,887,330 people age 85 and older, about 2 million more women than men.

If longevity is your goal, it has always been more advantageous to be a woman.

As we often discuss here, elders differ dramatically and not only by age so it's misleading to lump together everyone 65 and older. (Even worse is the common 50- or 55-plus and older designation. An average 55-year-old is not much like an average 85-year-old at all.)

Sometimes the Census Bureau divides elders into several ten-year categories after 55 or 65, but not always. Even so, that 65-plus grouping can give us a rough picture of our age group.

So today, here are a few Census Bureau statistics about elders in America. They are, of course, raw numbers that don't answer dozens of questions that come to mind. Still, it's worth a look.

(All numbers apply to people age 65 and older unless otherwise noted. The links go to the Census Bureau documents containing that information - many are PDFs.)

Centennarians
In the 2010 census, 53,364 people were 100 or older compared to 32,194 in 1980.

Employment
In 2012, there were 4.3 million full-time, year-round workers age 65 and older.

Median Income
In 2012, the median income for 65-plus households was $33,848.

Median Net Worth
In 2011, the median net worth of people 65 and older was $170,516. Most frequently, the majority of this number is tied up in home equity.

Poverty
In 2012, 3.9 million were living below the poverty line, a .3 percent increase over 2011.

Poverty Without Social Security
In 2012, if there were no Social Security, a majority of elders, 54.7 percent or 23.7 million would be living below the poverty line. (Keep that in mind next time you hear that the president or Congress members want to cut Social Security.)

Education
In 2013, 82.6 percent of people 65-plus had completed high school. A subset of that group – a total of 25.3 percent – had earned a bachelor's degree or higher.

Marriage
In 2013, 58 percent of people 65 and older were married. Another 26 percent were widowed.

Technology
In 2011, 61 percent of 65-plus elders used the internet from home.

Voting
In the 2012 election, 71.9 percent of elder voted.

Veterans
In 2012, the Census Bureau estimated that 9.6 million living people 65 and older were veterans of the armed services.

The Census Bureau website is vast and there are many other kinds of information. One of the best areas is called American Factfinder which has recently improved ease of use greatly.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Susan E. Swanberg: A Scientific American


Elder Organ Donation

A few days ago, an email landed in my inbox with a subject line about old age and organ donation. Huh? Without having given it much thought, I had assumed old organs were probably not useful, probably worn out.

According to the National Institute on Aging, I am wrong:

“'Age doesn’t make you ineligible to sign up, nor do you have to be in perfect health,' says NIA Deputy Director Marie A. Bernard, M.D. 'Your ability to donate is determined by a doctor at the time of death.

“'More people today are living healthier lives and know about the importance of living and eating well and exercising,' Dr. Bernard continues. 'That means we’re in better shape than ever. We’re also able to be donors and recipients at later ages than anyone might have imagined.'”

In many states, you can register to be an organ donor by checking a box when you renew your driving license but you can also register online with your state's organ donor registry. Start here for that.

As you might imagine, a large percentage of the people receiving transplants are 50 and older – nearly 60 percent of recipients in 2012. But only 32 percent of donors were were that age. See more about that here.

According to the National Institute of Aging, 18 people a day in the U.S. die while waiting for a transplant. Here's a little video about age and organ transplant:

There is more information along with a bunch of links to answer many questions here.

My drivers license lists me as an "anatomical donor" but I have now also registered with the online form for my state so that if I die in a hospital they won't need to hunt for my license. You can do that too. It a good thing to do.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marcy Belson: Where Are You, Zsa, Zsa?


Making Friends in Old Age

As several people commented on yesterday's post, one of the hardest things about getting old is loneliness as spouses and friends die.

But death is only the most dramatic event that shrinks our social circles. When we stop working, we lose the daily camaraderie of the workplace and that is no small thing.

Over time, we become friends and companions with the work colleagues we spend more waking hours with than our families. A large number of workers find their husbands and wives there. Even with the growth of online dating, a 2012 study reported that 21 percent of new marriages begin at the office.

Although the coworkers we leave behind when we retire promise to keep in touch, it seldom happens and when it does, it's not the same as the give-and-take we enjoyed every day for so long.

There is more that can narrow our social lives. For some, waning physical capabilities make it difficult to get out and about. Others give up night driving and some turn in the keys and sell the car.

Many retirees, by choice or imposed circumstance, move to new cities and towns leaving behind the friends and neighbors they have known for decades. It's one thing to relocate when you still work but after retiring, there are fewer opportunities to easily meet new people.

You and I are lucky that our generation has a new tool for a new kind of friendship – the internet. Although it has been awhile since I've mentioned it, I have written a lot about the importance of online and blog friends. (These are several of those stories.)

I wholeheartedly believe that the web is a boon for elders and these days, about half the people I hold most dear I have met as a result of this blog.

All that being said, however, we humans are programmed for mutual companionship and affection – the in-person kind. We hunger for others with whom we can share interests, concern, compassion and understanding.

Some elders find it easy to make new friends. Others – I suspect a much larger group – find it hard for all kinds of reasons, those listed above, temperament and opportunity.

In my case, volunteering for a committee or two related to aging helped me meet some people in my new location and there will be more as the group of us developing our Village keeps working and growing together.

But last weekend, I surprised myself with something entirely new. To me, anyway.

While idly shopping on Saturday, I was hailed by an acquaintance, a man I had met once a couple of weeks earlier. He introduced me briefly to the man he was speaking with who had just opened his own elegant, little shop within the store. We three spoke for a bit, then moved on.

After looking around for awhile, I found myself in the man's secondary shop and we hit it off immediately. Talk, talk, talk – both of us, tripping over each other's words, laughing and enjoying ourselves immensely.

Eventually, feeling I was keeping him from his work, I excused myself, looked around the main shop some more and made a purchase. While walking to the car, I realized it was lunch time and I didn't feel like going home to cook.

It was the oddest thing. I barely formed the thought before I walked back into that store, asked the man if he had time for a lunch break and if he would he would like to join me at a nearby restaurant. It was the boldest move I can recall ever making with a stranger.

We discovered a bunch of mutual interests and that we live within walking distance of one another and had he not needed to get back to his shop, we could have kept up that conversation all afternoon.

Oh dear. It just occurred to me that this sounds like it could be the beginning of a romantic connection. Not so. It's not that kind of thing.

Fifteen or 20 years ago, that might have been, but I just don't roll that way anymore. I like my single life. That doesn't mean I couldn't use a new friend or two.

He is about ten years younger than I and what came about between us, I believe, is a sense of simpatico, the comfort that occasionally happens when a new acquaintance feels almost immediately like an old friend – or, anyway, someone who can become an old friend.

New friendships are always fragile in the beginning and we'll see where this goes. Meanwhile, I seem to have stumbled on something for which old women have an advantage over our more youthful selves: we are unlikely, in making such a bold move as I did, to be taken for a flirt. We can safely follow our friendly impulses without fear of being misunderstood.

(I don't know if this would work as easily for elder men. Jump into the comments, fellows, and let us know what you think.)

At home again after that lunch, I was delighted with myself and with my possible new friend and I have been wondering since why I don't just speak up when I meet someone I'd like to know better.

So taking my own advice, today I emailed a woman I enjoyed meeting recently and invited her to lunch.

Someone needs to make the first move in these situations. Of course, the big reason few people do is the possibility of rejection and it could happen to me with both of these potential relationships.

But here's another brand new finding about myself I learned this weekend: I don't care. For the first time in my life I'm not afraid of being turned down.

My god, am I finally growing up.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Clifford Rothband: Winning the Lottery


Imagining Being Old

It is easy to feel chagrined at falling into the online rabbit hole, wasting hours with cute kitty videos and whatnot. But it's not always fruitless.

Following one link to another, particularly when starting out with a list of search results, can lead to some interesting corners of the web - places the usual sources on aging ignore.

For example, take Drex - pronounced DEE-rex. What I can discern about him is this: he is young, he likes smooth jazz, he is a gamer who may be accomplished at it. And he's not afraid to appear less than cool to his contemporaries.

The reason I know these things is that for the past year or so, Drex occasionally records his personal thoughts on topics other than gaming while unrelated images from computer games play across the video screen.

Last December, Drex was thinking out loud about what getting old is like. He's eager for the experience and wisdom he believes come with age, he tells us, but he wishes he could have that now while he's young and energetic.

It's worth three minutes of your time. Take a listen.

Interesting question he's working on: How do you think you will be when you're old?

Philosophically, Drex is way ahead of where I was in my twenties (the age I'm guessing he is). Back then, I was so fearful of the idea of death, I'd convinced myself I was the one immortal on earth. That pretty well keeps one's old age from being an issue to ponder.

Through later years, my best role model probably has been my great aunt Edith. She worked until she chose to retire at age 70 and up until shortly before her death at age 89, we maintained a frequent snailmail and telephone relationship – with occasional visits - that covered everything from the banal to the practical to the intellectual challenging.

If I ever considered it (I don't recall if I did), I suppose I wanted to grow old in her image – curious, thoughtful, engaged, self-deprecatingly funny and in her person, elegant. Some of that I have managed; some not.

The commenters on Drex's YouTube page didn't deal with his question but you and I are old enough to compare our younger and elder selves. Are you anything like what you thought you would be in old age?


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Chlele Gummer: Daybreak


ELDER MUSIC: Elvis Covers

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.


I have previously done columns on songs that were covered by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. I might as well go for the trifecta and do the same for Elvis Presley.

There is a bit of a difference because both of those groups pretty much wrote their own songs after their first couple of albums. Elvis never did that so a lot of his songs were cover versions already. The others were written especially for him so they don't count, or at least not in the context of today's column.

Elvis listened to a wide range of music, as we all did back then. Indeed, initially his ambition was to be a crooner like Dean Martin. Well, he did a bit of that in his career, as will be reflected in the choices today.

HANK SNOW sounds as if he wandered on to the set of one of Elvis's Hawaiian films: all that lap steel guitar work.

Hank Snow

Hank was a country music singer (which explains the lap-steel guitar) who wrote a bunch of songs that achieved considerable success. He didn't write this one though, that honor goes to Bill Trader. The song is A Fool Such As I.

♫ Hank Snow - A Fool Such As I

BIG MAMA THORNTON had the original version of one of Elvis's biggest hits.

Big Mama Thornton

That hit is Hound Dog, written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller who also produced Big Mama's recording. They were responsible for many of the king's hits and those of many other artists as well.

♫ Big Mama Thornton - Hound Dog

If I mention AL JOLSON in the context of today's topic, there's really only one song it could be.

Al Jolson

The song, Are You Lonesome Tonight?, was written in 1926 by Lou Handman and Roy Turk. There were quite a few versions recorded before Al got to it in 1950. Really rather late in his career as he died that same year.

Here's his version.

♫ Al Jolson - Are You Lonesome Tonight

Elvis wasn't the only artist inspired by the INK SPOTS.

The Ink Spots

Many DooWop and soul artists acknowledge them as influences, also a few rock & rollers. I was rather surprised by their song; I hadn't realized that they had recorded it until I went hunting for this column.

The song is That's When Your Heartaches Begin.

♫ The Ink Spots - That's When Your Heartaches Begin

I mentioned Elvis's Hawaiian films above. Well, here is the real deal. It's Blue Hawaii, one of his flicks of course. The original version of the song though is by BING CROSBY.

Bing Crosby

Der Bingle was in a few Hawaiian films himself (or at least, Hawaiian-like films). This particular song was written by Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger for the film Waikiki Wedding that starred Bing and Shirley Ross (who occasionally appeared with Bob Hope in such things).

♫ Bing Crosby - Blue Hawaii

DAVID HILL sang one of the King's biggest hits (okay, there were a lot of them, so that doesn't narrow things down much).

David Hess

This was a "musical name" for David who was mostly known as David Hess.

Although he recorded and sometimes wrote songs, including some lesser known ones for Elvis, his main gig was as an actor. Listening to his insipid version almost made me cringe.

Elvis sure improved on this one. This one being All Shook Up.

♫ David Hill - All Shook Up

While in the army in Germany, Elvis heard a song called There's No Tomorrow by Tony Martin. He really liked the song, but wasn't taken with the words.

He mentioned this to his music publisher who just happened to be visiting Germany at the time and he (the publisher) got some songwriters to come up with new words and that song became It's Now or Never. And that became a huge hit.

Going backwards in time, Tony's song was based on an Italian tune called O Sole Mio written by Giovanni Capurro and Eduardo di Capu at the end of the nineteenth century. A very popular version was recorded by EMILIO DE GOGORZA.

Emilio de Gogorza

Emilio was born in Brooklyn but was brought up and trained musically in Spain. Due to his severe near-sightedness he didn't appear in opera, but he had a long concert and recital career. He also recorded prodigiously.

This is just one of those recordings, O Sole Mio.

♫ Emilio de Gogorza - O Sole Mio

ARTHUR GUNTER started in the music biz very early; as a kiddliewink he was in a gospel group with his brothers and cousins.

Arthur Gunter

Somewhere along the way he picked up a guitar and started playing. He also wrote songs, one of which was Baby Let's Play House. He recorded it in 1954 and it was a local hit in Tennessee which is where Elvis heard it and the rest is history.

Here's Arthur with the original.

♫ Arthur Gunter - Baby Let's Play House

Most people who take an interest in these things are familiar with Sonny Til and the Orioles' version of Crying in the Chapel. They possibly even think it was the first recording of the song. Not quite.

DARRELL GLENN was first into the studio earlier the same year.

Darrell Glenn

That's not too surprising as Darrell's dad, Artie Glenn, wrote the tune and suggested he have a go at it. Although still at school, Darrell did just that. It was quite a hit until Sonny and the boys released their version which was huge.

I think theirs is the superior version, but I'm going with the original.

Darrell Glenn - Crying In The Chapel

DEL SHANNON was first out of the blocks with His Latest Flame written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman.

Del Shannon

Although he recorded it first, Del's version only appeared on an album at the time and it only preceded the Elvis version by two months. That's enough for this column though. Del didn't do a bad job, but Elvis really nailed it.

♫ Del Shannon - His Latest Flame


INTERESTING STUFF – 22 March 2014


LOVING GETTING OLD

The British charity, AgeUK, created this gorgeous video – 100 people age 1 to 100 – to help promote age acceptance. Roger McGough's poem is read by Sir Christopher Lee.

I was surprised when it was pointed out to me that a blogger who expends a lot of energy pushing back against ageism thinks the video is ageist. I suppose one can disagree with a couple of points in the poem, but that is hardly enough to condemn such a lovely video and sentiment. You can read the objection here for yourself.

There is more about AgeUK's campaign for age acceptance at the AgeUK website where you can read other's stories about getting old and tell your own if you choose. (Hat tip to Jan Heigh and Chuck Nyren for sending this beautiful video.)


THIS WEEK'S BIG SCIENCE ANNOUNCEMENT

If, like me, you are stupid about science, perhaps you too had trouble understanding the significance of the big space/time announcement this week.

As The New York Times reported:

“[A young physicist named Alan Guth] discovered what might have made the universe bang to begin with. A potential hitch in the presumed course of cosmic evolution could have infused space itself with a special energy that exerted a repulsive force, causing the universe to swell faster than the speed of light for a prodigiously violent instant...

“On Monday, Dr. Guth’s starship came in. Radio astronomers reported that they had seen the beginning of the Big Bang, and that his hypothesis, known undramatically as inflation, looked right.”

Uh-huh. As if that means anything to my science pea-brain. But this video from the journal Nature helped a bit.


THE WORLD'S LARGEST PASTA MAKER

At The New York Times this week, artist Nicholas Blechman reported in cartoons the amazing story of Barilla, the world's largest pasta maker, located in Italy.

The factory is so huge that workers get around on bicycles.

Barilla

You can go here to see Blechman's entire visual "field trip" to Barilla's Parma headquarters. It's charming as well as informative.


ARCHIE BUNKER AND THE DOCTOR

Most of us at this blog are old enough to recall that when All in the Family first hit American TV screens in 1971, Archie Bunker's bigotry was startling and controversial.

It didn't take long for critics and viewers alike to understand the humor. Thanks to Darlene Costner, we have a video clip today of Carroll O'Connor as Archie having a little trouble dealing with a black, female physician. So funny.


FDR'S SECOND BILL OF RIGHTS

According to the YouTube page of this video, President Franklin D. Roosevelt recorded this proposed second Bill of Rights just after delivering his January 1944 State of the Union address.

It is uncanny how accurately FDR's appeal applies to our world 70 years later. Take a look:


FISH ON WHEELS

Here's what the YouTube page says about this video:

”By using a camera and computer vision software it is possible to make a fish control a robot car over land. By swimming towards an interesting object, the fish can explore the world beyond the limits of his tank.”

See what you think:

It has been noted that the fish is placed into a normal fish tank after driving.


THE FOUNDING FATHERS ON CHRISTIANITY

The religious/political right wing in the United States never stops trying to whack away at the separation of church and state. Among their arguments is that the founding fathers intended the U.S. to be a Christian state.

Oh yeah? It doesn't take much digging to find out that is as far from their position as anyone can get. This week, Daily Kos provided a lot of smart rebuttal to the false notion. Here are three of their quotations:

Thomas Jefferson (1787): “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, then that of blindfolded fear.”

Benjamin Franklin (1758): "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason."

James Madison (1774): "Christian establishments tend to great ignorance and corruption, all of which facilitate the execution of mischievous projects."

There are a bunch more at Daily Kos.


JEANNE ROBERTSON

It been going on four years since elder comedian Jeanne Robertson was last featured here and it's high time we rectified that. Thank Darlene Costner for these laughs:

You'll find more video from Robertson's standup act at her website.


MOVIE STAR MORPH

Darlene and Nancy Leitz sent this video titled the “50 Most Beautiful Women Ever.” Whether you agree or not, they are lovely and it's fascinating to watch the morphing from Greta Garbo to Natalie Portman.

I had to giggle when I realized that the biggest difference between the oldest and youngest stars seems to be the change from styled hair to completely uncombed.


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.


The World's Oldest Rock and Roll Band

If you were young in the 1960s when youth culture was still being invented, it was a social requirement of the highest order to declare a band choice: you were either a Beatles fan or a Rolling Stones fan and the twain hardly ever met.

I had seen, and met, both bands in 1966 and although I wasn't as rabid about my choice as many others, I tended to side with The Beatles. Until 1972.

That summer, I again saw the Stones' live show, this time from the fourth row center at Madison Square Garden and have forever after been transfixed. Not that I don't enjoy The Beatles – it's just that they have nothing to do with rock and roll and when that's what you want, the Stones have everything to do with it.

They have been playing and recording together without letup for 50 years now. Look at their ages:

Mick Jagger – 70
Keith Richards - 70
Charlie Watts - 72
Ronnie Wood – 66

I guess Jagger had to rethink his June 1975 declaration to People magazine when he was 32: “...I’d rather be dead than sing Satisfaction when I’m 45.”

It's easy to understand where he was coming from when he said that but I'm not tired of listening to it and, apparently, he's not tired of singing it.

The Rolling Stones were well into their “14 on Fire” tour this month when Jagger's partner, fashion designer L'Wren Scott, was found hanged in her New York apartment this week, a suicide. The remainder of the Stones' Australia and New Zealand tour has been canceled.

On his Facebook page, Jagger wrote:

"I am still struggling to understand how my lover and best friend could end her life in this tragic way.”

That event got me thinking this week about what a long time the Rolling Stones have been with us – for many, all our adult lives - and what has always been called The World's Greatest Rock and Roll Band is also now the World's Oldest Rock and Roll Band.

With three of them into their eighth decade, they continue to tour regularly and as much as I enjoy listening to their music, they have always been at their best in live performances. From the videos I've seen in recent years, they are not a whit less compelling on stage than at that 1972 concert I attended.

I highly recommend Keith Richards' brutally honest 2010 autobiography, Life. Yes, just for fun there are as much drugs and sex as all the reviewers concentrate on but better are the stories of how their extraordinary music came to be.

It's irrational, I know, but I'm sort of proud that they are part of our elder generation.

Here is a well-done, 18-minute documentary, including interviews with each of the Stones, broadcast last fall on the Australian 60 Minutes TV show. If you're a fan or just curious, it's worth your time.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavtt: Nothing Wrong With Being Old


How Not to Freak Out About Dying

Sara Davidson is a respected American journalist and best-selling author of, among other books, Leap!, Loose Change and Joan: Forty Years of Love, Loss and Friendship with Joan Didion.

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, more familiarly known as Reb Zalman, is also a best-selling author – of more than a dozen books. The one you are most likely to know even if you haven't read it (you should), is From Age-ing to Sage-ing.

You should also read the book I am telling you about today. Every old person and probably some not-so-old people should read it. Here's why.

A few years ago, Reb Zalman contacted Sara to propose that they conduct a series of conversations together, conversations she would turn into a book. At age 85, he told her he wanted

”...to discuss the stage of life he calls December, 'when you can feel your cells getting tired, and your hard drive is running slow. I've been in your years but you haven't been in mine,' he continued, 'and I want to help people not freak out about dying.'”

December Project CoverSo in 2009, they began The December Project, meeting for an hour or two on most Fridays over the next two years as the Rebbe gentled lifelong and sometimes combative skeptic, Sara, with love and warmth, insight and understanding, great wisdom and much laughter into a deeper awareness of her mortality.

The book, I believe, might do the same for you. It does for me.

Although little of it is new to his “fans,” some of Zalman's personal story Sara relates helps make clear to readers who are unfamiliar with the Rebbe that this is a book for all people who are seekers.

Even a devout atheist would have trouble dismissing a man of god who counts among his teachers and friends the influential Christian theologian Howard Thurman, the Catholic monk Thomas Merton, the Dalai Lama and Timothy Leary with whom he shared an acid trip.

Taking LSD with Leary (something I too once did) reports, Sara, had broadened his views:

[UPDATE FOR CLARITY: I thought the parenthetical remark was clear but apparently not - it was I who took LSD with Tim Leary at his Millbrook home in New York State - as did quite a few people I knew in those days.]

”'It was clear that what I'd experienced in prayer and meditation before – the oneness and connection with God – was true, but it wasn't just Jewish. It transcended borders.

“'I was sitting in a Hindu ashram with Tim Leary, who was Irish Catholic, and I realized all forms of religion are masks that the devine wears to communicate with us.

“'Behind all religions, there's a reality, and this reality wears whatever clothes it needs to speak to a particular people. For Jews, it's a Torah with a crown. For Christians, the log-on to the infinite is Jesus. But no single point of view alone is right.'”

Reading that, I wanted to remind Reb Zalman that many non-believers also feel a oneness with the infinite without the trappings of organized religion. Then I realized almost at once that Zalman is too wise not to know this.

In one Friday session, Zalman told Sara about a personal task he was then working on – forgiveness - which has, he explained, three parts: repairing harm you have done, forgiving those who have harmed you and, the hardest one - forgiving oneself.

Sara, as she so often does in the book, asked my question:

”'How do you arrive at the point where you no longer feel ashamed?'

“Zalman called that kind of shame 'high fidelity regret,' writes Sara. 'I don't think there's real fire in hell,' he said, 'but if you experience intense regret, that's what the fires of hell are.'

“He said there's no point trying to dismiss or bury what happened. 'But to suffer all the time is stupid.'”

You can't fault Reb Zalman for being indirect. And then he shows Sara how she can learn to repair the harm, the pain, the fear.

At the end of the book, Sara the skeptic seems less freaked out about dying. She sums up the Rebbe's precepts:

”...trust intuition; when your memory fails, focus on your inner sense of presence – 'I am'; keep your attention on the road forward, not the rearview mirror; be generous without judging; forgive – everyone, especially yourself; and practice letting go...

“I've noticed that I'm more at ease with the reality of dying,” she says. “I view it less with dread and more with increasing readiness for the loosening and releasing of ties. This is not a fixed position, of course...”

No. On this subject, it never is.

There are 10 short chapters at the end of The December Project. Ten little lessons or exercises devised by Zalman, his wife and Sara to help readers “become more at ease with mortality.” They cover such issues as giving thanks, what to do when memory fails, kvetching to God and reviewing your life.

The book will be published next week on Tuesday 25 March when it will be available here and at most of the usual booksellers. Half the proceeds from sales go to support Rabbi Zalman's work.

Here is a photo of Sara Davidson and Rabbi Schachter-Shalomi from back of the book's dust jacket.

Sara and Zalman


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lyn Burnstine: My Angel


How Satisfying is Your Old Age?

An old friend recently asked me that question or, rather, something similar: “Are you happy in your old age?” he asked. “Are you checking off items on your bucket list?”

Since I was pretty sure I understood what he intended to get at, I explained that happiness and bucket list are not categories I relate to but that I could take a stab at answering whether old age is going well, if it is satisfying to me.

Many people plan their retirement. Moving to a warmer climate is a common choice as is playing golf or tennis every day or, if they have the funds, traveling – some by RV who then make their homes for awhile wherever they happen to be.

I have a friend, a professional chef who, in his middle years, often said he was saving two things for his old age: mastering pastry cooking and learning to understand Wagner's music. I never had any old age goals, certainly not such interesting ones.

Since I was forced into retirement long before I was ready and had never given a moment's thought to what I would do when I stopped working, I've been playing it by ear these past ten years.

If I take seriously the dire predictions of retirement “experts” and “coaches” who (as far as I can tell when they email asking to be featured on TGB) mostly want to part people from their money, I'm headed for big trouble not to have availed myself of their help and direction.

Well, too late. I'm doing it on my own and it's working out nicely.

How lucky for me that I had already begun this blog when the axe fell on what became my final paid job or I might have flailed around. Time Goes By organizes my days, opens doors to interesting people and keeps my mind engaged with new ideas.

For several years it took up too much of my time but I've gradually been rearranging how I work so that I can enjoy other interests.

And there is something bigger too.

In these ten years, I have come to feel strongly that because I am healthy, free of such heavy responsibilities as family caregiving and with some fiscal prudence have no need for paid employment, I have an obligation to give something back.

To me, that is not so much a moral commitment, nor a duty or a burden. It is, instead, a longing to leave this planet a little bit better off than it otherwise would be. It is a sense that if I am taking up space here and am capable, I want to contribute.

I have volunteered in small ways and now, since last summer, I am playing a role in a much larger venture - creating a Village in my town (as I have recently written about here and here).

When fully developed, hundreds of people will benefit. Their lives will be better than they would be without the Village and what's more exciting is that this is not a short-term or one-shot deal.

If this group does our job well, the Village will continue past our generation to that of our children, grandchildren and beyond. We will have left behind us something good and lasting.

So, getting back to the question at the top of the page, this – with the work on the Village – has become, possibly, the most gratifying time of my life. How lucky is that?

There have been other satisfying periods when I was younger but they were usually tinged with wanting something else or something more – a better job, higher salary, a bigger apartment or a boyfriend or husband.

Not this time. Now, the work itself – building a Village and the effort that goes into producing Time Goes By – along with some friends, good food and a few other personal interests keep me fulfilled.

No bucket lists here and although it may be semantics only, “happy” has always felt too lightweight and fleeting to bother with. Fulfilled works nicely for me and I'm working on contentment. That may take a while.

And you?


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Arlene Corwin: Plastic Janes


Old and Fat – Facts of Life

It is no secret that many people gain weight as they age. Science does not fully understand the reasons but among the guesses are genetics (yeah, that stuff we're stuck with and can't change), diet and lack of exercise which builds and helps maintain muscle mass.

You might recognize this 2007 photo of Millie Garfield and me from yesterday's post along with my parenthetical comment below it:

Millie and Ronni 2007

(My god, I was fat then.)

The reason I'm discussing age and fat today is that a TGB reader emailed to accuse me of perpetrating and/or perpetuating fat prejudice with that comment.

”Like you I agree that ageism is a terrible problem that needs to be addressed,” she wrote. “We shouldn't become invisible and the butt of senility jokes just because we are aging, wrinkled and balding.

“But weight/fat prejudice is another huge problem. Like making fun of old people, our culture allows the denigration of fat people, and the cult of thinness is alive and well and causing 8 year old girls to go on starvation diets.”

I certainly agree but I strongly reject the idea that my comment contributes.

And it's not like I need to be educated in fat prejudice. As I told her by return email, long before I was an elder advocate, I was a fat person advocate and

”...twice over a period of years I was able to make sure two brilliant, fat people were hired when others wanted to reject them for their size.”

That fat remark I made was not necessary to yesterday's post. I threw it in because I was genuinely surprised, when I pulled the photo from the archives, at how big I was then and because we have discussed on this blog the difficulties of weight loss in our elder years - including my own recent 40-plus pound loss.

More importantly, in remarking that I was fat, I was making a statement of fact, not a value judgment – a description not any different from when I say I'm old. Both are what I am or, in the case of fat, what I was at one time.

Now. Am I a weight-loss advocate? You betcha. Science may not know much about the why of elder weight gain, but it knows a lot about the health consequences of it.

In my personal case, in the years before I got serious about taking off 40 pounds, my blood pressure was not scary yet, but it was climbing. I was taking a statin for high cholesterol. I was living with urinary incontinence.

It was so hard for me to bend over that I never wore shoes that tie and I seriously considered how I might teach Ollie the cat to eat from the kitchen counter instead of the floor. And carrying groceries in from the car felt like climbing a mountain.

When I lived in a second-floor walk-up in Maine, I had to stop halfway up the stairs to catch my breath – even when I wasn't carrying groceries.

All of that, every bit of it, is gone now. My blood pressure is normal, I take no cholesterol drugs, I can tie my shoes and easily climb stairs without losing my breath.

I have spared Ollie the necessity of counter eating and the doctor agreed that the incontinence, no longer a problem, had been caused by excess fat pressing on my bladder.

During my “fat years” I had blamed my health issues on my age. Now I not only know differently, I have proved it and I wish I could wave my magic wand to make it easy for anyone who would benefit as much as I have from weight loss to do so. I know how hard it is; I failed many times before I succeeded.

The TGB reader who objected to my fat comment condescendingly finished up her email with this:

“...looking at the 2007 photo of yourself and your friend, it is too bad you could not just see two beautiful women enjoying being together and let it go at that--at least in public--but had to throw in that comment. IMO, you are too important a voice for all of us to lose some of your credibility this way.”

To conflate six little words about my own appearance seven years ago with general loss of my credibility is a leap way too far. Furthermore, to want elder fat people to improve their health is not the same thing as denigrating them for being fat.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Old Bill Weatherstone: Years Ago


Of a Holiday, Contest Winners and a Favorite Elder

Henry Lowenstern regularly contributes five-line ditties and limericks to The Elder Storytelling Place. He sent one for today's green holiday.

A Bit of Irish History
St. Patrick checked out all the lakes
of Ireland, playing ducks and drakes,
and turning reptiles
into exiles.
That is why WE have all the snakes.

Here is a short video of 10 interesting facts about St. Patrick's Day. I never knew until today that we are celebrating not St. Patrick's birth, but his death:

SECOND WIND CONTEST WINNERS
Last Thursday, TGB held a drawing two copies of geriatrician Bill Thomas's new book, Second Wind and two pairs of tickets to his Second Wind Tour Live Event in 25 cities throughout the U.S.

And now, we have some winners. The books go to Donna Thorvaldson of British Columbia and Leela Sarada who lives in New Mexico. Congratulations to both of you and your books should arrive before the end of this week.

The tour tickets go to Joanna Pyle who will attend the event in Seattle. There is another winner who has not contacted me yet. If I have not heard from the second winner by tonight – 17 March 2014 at midnight Pacific Daylight Time – another winner will be chosen by random electronic drawing.

UPDATE 6:30AM: The other Second Wind Tour winner has spoken up. She is Lesley Carman who lives in Michigan.

Congratulations Donna, Leela, Joanna and Lesley.

GET WELL FAST, MILLIE
Millie Garfield, who has been blogging for more than 10 years at My Mom's Blog by Thoroughly Modern Millie is one of the first bloggers I met in person and a good friend.

We had lunch when I visited Boston for a day in 2007 and her son, online video pioneer Steve Garfield, took this photo of us.

Millie and Ronni 2007

(My god, I was fat then.)

Last Friday, Millie underwent what Steve calls “fix-up surgery.” On Sunday, he posted a photo of Millie in the hospital with a note that she is doing "extremely well" and having some laughs with the doctors – which sounds exactly like Millie; she loves to laugh. Steve also notes:

”They are unhooking her from things and she's going for three walks today. Might get discharged Monday or Tuesday. Thanks for your thoughts.”

This is great news especially so knowing that Millie is 88 years old. Let's all help her get well soon with some cheery messages at her blog.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mickey Rogers: On the Golf Course


ELDER MUSIC: 1947

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.


What happened in 1947?

  • Tim Buckley was born
  • A Streetcar Named Desire premiered on Broadway
  • Edwin Land demonstrated the Polaroid camera
  • A weather balloon crashed at Roswell, New Mexico
  • "The Paradine Case was released
  • America won the Davis Cup
  • Carlton were premiers.

ROY BROWN recorded Good Rockin' Tonight after offering it to Wynonie Harris who turned it down.

Roy Brown

After Roy's version became a hit, Wynonie recorded it after all, making it more energetic. It became a bigger hit than Roy's but he didn't mind as he collected the royalties.

It was later memorably covered by Elvis and others including Pat Boone (cringe).

♫ Roy Brown - Good Rockin' Tonight

CHARLES TRENET didn't perform any songs he didn't write himself.

Charles Trenet

Fortunately, he was a prolific tunesmith, way over a thousand, so there were enough that he wouldn't have to wonder what to do next. Certainly the most famous of his songs in the English-speaking world is La Mer.

♫ Charles Trenet - La Mer

Now for the great T-BONE WALKER with his song, Call It Stormy Monday (But Tuesday Is Just As Bad).

T-Bone Walker

That's the official title of the song. It's usually just called Stormy Monday but there are other songs with that title. Given all that, this is by far the best known of them so there's generally no confusion (unless we're playing one of the others).

♫ T-Bone Walker - Stormy Monday

Next up, FRANK SINATRA with one of his memorable songs. Okay, that doesn't narrow it down too much.

Frank Sinatra

This is September Song, written by Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson supplied the lyrics. The song was written especially for Walter Huston, of all people, to sing in the film, Knickerbocker Holiday.

Frank recorded this song a couple more times, not counting live albums, of course, but here is the one recorded in 1947.

♫ Frank Sinatra - September Song

Now the man we have to thank/blame (take your pick) for rock & roll. Without him, it's possible it wouldn't have happened, certainly not the same way. I'm talking, of course, of BIG JOE TURNER.

Big Joe Turner

Even in these songs of his from the forties we have a taste of what was to come. This is My Gal's a Jockey.

♫ Big Joe Turner - My Gal's a Jockey

THE MILLS BROTHERS certainly kept on keeping on.

The Mills Brothers

Although they started singing around the house earlier and at their father's barbershop (making them a barbershop quartet, I guess), they began professionally in 1926. Unfortunately, one brother (John) died 10 years later.

They contemplated breaking up but dad (also John) stepped in to take his place. After celebrating their 50th year in show biz, dad left due to various medical complications.

They carried on as a trio. Harry died in 1982 (that's 56 years by now) and Herbert and Donald kept going until Herbert died in 1989 (63 years in the business). At this stage John III, Donald's son, joined up.

They kept going until Donald died in 1999 (that brings us to 73 years performing). Young John continues the tradition going with a bit of outside help.

Here they are with Across the Alley from the Alamo.

♫ The Mills Brothers - Across The Alley From The Alamo

American universities certainly indulge in some strange practices: in too many of them the overwhelming emphasis on sport rather than learning springs immediately to mind. Then there are fraternities and sororities. What are you thinking of?

That brings me to the Whiffenpoofs who at least seem to be just a choral group (at Yale). They have their own song, Whiffenpoof Song. Here's BING CROSBY to sing it.

Bing Crosby

♫ Bing Crosby - Whiffenpoof Song

Open the Door, Richard started out as a black vaudeville routine. The performer half spoke, half sang the refrain. It was turned into a song by Jack McVea who generally played saxophone.

It was such a runaway success that more than a dozen other versions were recorded, many of them were also hits. Here is one of them by LOUIS JORDAN.

Louis Jordan

♫ Louis Jordan - Open the Door, Richard

Golden Earrings was a spy film from this year with Ray Milland. The song was sung in the film by Murvyn Vye, who is new to me. This was quite popular so folks were lining up to record it.

Bing was first out of the starting blocks, but the big hit was by PEGGY LEE.

Peggy Lee

♫ Peggy Lee - Golden Earrings

At last, HANK WILLIAMS.

Hank Williams

The song Move It on Over, Hank's first hit, like some other songs this year, presages rock & roll. It sounds like pure country but the structure is really that of a blues song.

The solo guitar would not sound out of place in any later rock song.

♫ Hank Williams - Move It on Over

1948 will appear in two weeks' time.


INTERESTING STUFF – 15 March 2014


TGB GETS PUNKED

In last week's Interesting Stuff, I referenced a survey that found 10 percent of Americans believe html is a sexually transmitted disease.

Wrong. Or, probably wrong. Like the Los Angeles Times and other media outlets, I did not fact check the story and there is a good reasons to question the survey as a possible hoax.

Media ethics website, ImediaEthics, has the whole story if you want to wade through it.

My apologies to readers for being too quick to publish.


HONDA HANDS ADVERT

Darlene Costner sent this charming – and amazing – Honda commercial. Watch:

Honda made another video about how the commercial was created – well, sort of. They don't answer a lot of my questions but it's fun to know that even the hands are animated.


WHY MULTI-TASKING IS A MYTH

I never have believed those business gurus who promote multi-tasking. Any time I try, I screw up something I'm doing. Now here's a video that explains why multi-tasking is bunk.


FIRST KISSES

Some filmmakers gathered together a bunch of people who didn't know one another and shot some footage of them while they kissed each other – strangers – for the first time.

Alan Goldsmith, who sent this video, says that the comments at YouTube were divided between those to were charmed and others who were repulsed.

See what you think.

Here's my question: Why aren't there any old people in the group? Don't the the filmmakers think old people kiss?


HAS GETTY IMAGES GOT A DEAL FOR BLOGGERS

Early last week, Getty Images announced that it had made 35 million of it vast collection of images available to anyone to use on their personal, noncommercial or social websites and pages without paying a fee. As thenextweb explains:

”Getty Images will serve the image in a YouTube-style embedded player, which will include full copyright information and a link back to the image’s dedicated licensing page on the Getty site.

“This strategy solves several major problems: It assures proper image attribution, the images link back to the Getty site, and Getty can track where and how the images are being used.”

Here's an example I pulled from GettyImages.

PC World explains how to get the code and embed it and here is my personal hint: most of the available images are “editorial” so check that box (instead of "creative"). And roll your mouse over an image to get the embed link (</>) that will open the box with the code to insert on your page.

Here, too, is the GettyImage main image embed page.


CONGRESS IS SCHOOLED IN HOW SINGLE PAYER WORKS

A few of our more enlightened legislators in Washington are trying to raise awareness of the value of single payer health systems. Last week they held an important hearing to investigate what we can learn from countries with such plans.

This video contains edited excerpts from the hearing:

You can view the entire 90-minute hearing at C-SPAN.


YOU ARE NOT THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE

Darlene Costner send this video. Take a look. It will be either your Wow moment of the day or depress you with proof of your insignificance.


THE WORLD WIDE WEB IS 25 YEARS OLD

This year is the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web which is not the same thing as the much older internet. Tim Berners-Lee is credited with creating, in 1989, the Web and four years later, when this now-quaint video was made, it was still a novelty.

Pew Research has a 25-year timeline of web milestones here.


THE LION WHISPERER

I'm kind of tired of people who are handy with animals being referred to as whisperers but it seems to apply big-time in the case of Kevin Richardson.

Larry Beck of Woodgate's View blog sent this video. It's longer than most videos I feature but you'll hardly notice the time passing.

You can find out more about Kevin Richardson at his wildlife sanctuary website.


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.


How to Thwart Age Invisibility

[The giveaway of Dr. Bill Thomas's new book, “Second Wind” and tickets to his Second Wind Tour Live Event” remains open until tonight, 14 March 2014, at midnight Pacific Daylight Time. You can enter the drawing at yesterday's post.]


Somewhere in the mists of time past on this blog, I told the story of standing on line at a coffee and bagel shop one morning when I was in my late 50s waiting my turn to order.

As the customer in front of me moved on to the cashier and I began to speak, the counterman skipped right past me with his eyes and asked the person behind me what she wanted.

At no other moment in my life has the phrase, “What am I, chopped liver?” been more perfectly appropriate and you can believe the entire shop heard me say it. (I even got a couple of laughs.)

I was reminded of this when I read a comment on Wednesday's TGB post about the age at which someone becomes old. Elaine of Kalilily wrote, in part:

”Personally, I think that those of us who consider ourselves 'elders' should make a big deal and celebrate that fact as something to admire, respect, and have some fun with.

“Wear funky glasses and hearing aids rather than try to hide those evidences of aging. (I do the glasses; I still hide my hearing aids behind my hair, but I'm getting there.) If you need a cane, use a colorful one.

“If ya' got it, flaunt it. Maybe if we had some fun flaunting being "old," the idea would lose its stigma.”

Elaine is on to something important that, as she says, could change the perception of elders. There is hardly an old person alive who has not been ignored, made invisible to the people around us, as I was in the coffee/bagel shop. It's painful.

But in Elaine's new view, our visibility is increased – a good first step toward elderhood losing its stigma.

Admiring her point, I was kinda pleased to realize that without meaning to or even realizing what Elaine is advocating, I have taken a couple of the kind of steps she suggests, mitigating two of the more obvious stigmas that give younger people permission to ignore old people: the need for comfortable shoes and baldness.

For a long time after pain forced me to give up my (still) beloved high-heeled shoes, I bemoaned that I was stuck with boring flats. Only in the past two years or so have I realized that there is fun to be had with that.

Shoes

I have been buying silly shoes now. Shoes with gold and silver and pewter sparklies and most recently I have been taken with cute little brogans that use ribbons for shoe strings. (You can now buy ribbon laces online for any shoes that tie.)

See those gold sparkly flats in the photo above? I was wearing those on a recent visit to the neurologist for a minor foot problem. The first thing he said to me was, “Wow, love your shoes.”

I laughed and we had a connection beyond my floppy foot. I wasn't just another old woman patient anymore; I was the lady the the sparkling gold shoes. I won't forget to wear them for my next appointment and he won't forget me.

Other people sometimes notice my shoes – a couple have asked about where to buy the kind with ribbon shoe laces.

I've shown you my hat wall before now:

Hat Wall

The crown of my head shines through the few strands of hair that are left there so I never leave the house without wearing a hat. People I know and people I don't know often say, “Love your hat” and two different friends have given me a hat.

Yesterday, I was dressed in a pair of nice, wool slacks, a tunic-length light-weight coat, a beret and those gray shoes above with white ribbon laces. I'm not too shy to say I looked good, looked well pulled together – which isn't always the case.

On a whim, after a morning Villages meeting, I stopped in a local resale shop. As I walked through the door, one of the sales staff smiled widely and said, “I like your style,” then led me to a rack of clothes she thought fit my “style.” And it did.

When people acknowledge you for something that stands out, something unrelated to your age, that is what they remember you for. There are innumerable food market checkout people who nowadays know me as the hat lady.

The neurologist, on the other hand, is concerned with the other end of my body - my foot, and is reminded who I am because of my silly shoes.

So I am no longer invisible to that neurologist, to the sales woman at the resale shop, to anyone on my normal rounds including innumerable people in the food markets and Japanese restaurants I visit regularly. To them, I'm the hat lady.

So thank you Elaine of Kalilily for helping me recognize that what we're both doing in playing around with our age markers also removes our age-related invisibility cloaks and makes us more “human” to younger people.

Elaine has a lot more to say about this at a terrific post on her blog titled, I Want to Have Fun with the Trappings of Age.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dani Ferguson Phillips: The Lady in Red


When Aging is a Good Thing

That headline, “When Aging is a Good Thing,” turned up earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal but hardly in a positive sense. Since the story is about aged beef at a certain Manhattan restaurant, the headline is a near perfect example of the subtle type of elder bias that pervades all media all the time.

It is the kind of prejudicial language that alternately enrages and depresses people like me, and that the legions of age deniers refuse to recognize as ageist.

Second-wind-coversmBSlow Down, Go Deeper, Get Connected
In his latest book Second Wind - subtitled Navigating the Passage to a Slower, Deeper, and More Connected Life published this week, Dr. Bill Thomas defines age deniers this way:

”In its mildest form, Denialism provides us with the comforting illusion that we look and act a bit younger than we really are...

“The desire to be seen acting 'young' is also important to Denialism. The retiree who insists, 'I'm so busy I don't know how I ever had time to work,' is making it known that she remains part of the 'time-stressed' adult's frenzied world.”

In his book, Thomas makes an impassioned case for establishing elderhood as a distinct and separate period of life from fast-paced, go-go adulthood. He has touched on this in past books, particularly What are Old People For?, but in Next Wind, he makes it the centerpiece and explains why it is important.

[DISCLOSURE: Dr. Bill Thomas once wrote The TGB Geriatrician column for this blog. My blog posts are published at his ChangingAging website. And, I consider Bill a friend.]

For much of the first half of Second Wind, Thomas takes the reader through the development, beginning in early the 20th century, of the “cult of adulthood” - how it came to be.

”Virtues like success, efficiency, productivity, and individualism which had long been tempered by the competing values of shared sacrifice, trust, and cooperation, were released from almost all constraints.

“Those who objected to the installation of this hyperactive, hyperacquisitive, hypercaffeinated adulthood at the heart of American cultural experience were branded as deviants and heretics...

“The resulting cult of adulthood has been both extremely potent and largely invisible.”

Invisible it may be, but its force requires that we behave as adults until death and this is what both disturbs and galvanizes Bill Thomas.

Thomas divides the generation that is now facing the decision to reject or embrace elderhood into three categories. Those deniers (who “are always eager to look and act younger than they really are”) along with

”Realists [who] take a different approach. They are concerned primarily with creating and maintaining the feeling that aging is being deterred”

and the third cohort who

“...have the temerity to celebrate the normal changes associated with life beyond adulthood. These are the Enthusiasts.”

The enthusiasts, Thomas tells us, are the ones who are now or will become the pioneers of elderhood. A big part of it is to slow down, to reject the constant cultural imperative to do, and allow ourselves to be:

In order to develop fully, elders need access to a slow, deep connected way of living. The 'fast' life that suits adults so well interferes with the normal development of elders because it leads them to keep running a race that they can never win.”

Acknowledging that some readers may be disappointed that he has no specific recommendations for a search for life beyond adulthood, Thomas nevertheless covers a good deal of important territory – ageism, croning, living arrangements (including Villages among other good ideas) along with why we should not dress our children and grandchildren as witches on Halloween.

Mostly, however, Bill is right that there cannot be a blueprint. Inventing elderhood will be up to us - the elder enthusiasts and any of the deniers and realists we can convince to come with us.

Contrary to what that WSJ headline writer undoubtedly thought was clever irony, aging IS a good thing and this book is the latest in Dr. Bill Thomas's long-time efforts to make that real in our culture and our everyday lives.

Second Wind Tour
Between the end of this month and early June, in connection with his book, Bill Thomas will be leading a Second Wind Tour Live Event in 25 cities throughout the United States.

”The goal of the tour is to start a new conversation that reframes 'life after adulthood' as an exciting stage of human growth and development—a time for challenging received attitudes toward aging.”

As Bill explains in his online introduction to the tour:

”I felt we need a new, national conversation, one that includes many voices and differing points of view. And we needed to take this conversation directly to people where they live...

“I knew that powerpoint slide decks and hotel conference rooms were not going to cut it. I began to envision a mixed-arts performance in front of live audiences on a grand stage that would resonate with the power that only theater can wield.”

You will find tour cities and dates here along with lots of other information about the the Second Wind tour.

Giveaway
[UPDATE: To be eligible for the drawings for a book or tour tickets, you MUST leave a comment at the bottom of this page. You cannot enter by emailing me directly.]

And here is a deal especially for TGB readers. I have two books and two pairs of Second Wind Tour tickets to give away. All you need to do to be eligible is to say you want one or the other in the comments below.

You could write, “Count me in.” Or, “Me, me, me.” Or, “Yes, please, include me.” But you MUST ALSO include whether you are interested in the book or in the tour tickets. And you cannot ask for both in one comment.

Go to this page to see what dates the tour will be in or near your town. All venues are available except the first three – New York, Pittsburgh and Newark – which are sold out.

The contest will close tomorrow, Friday 14 March 2014, at midnight Pacific Daylight Time. The winners will be chosen in a random, electronic drawing and announced on this blog on Monday 17 March 2014. (Heh, I just realized that's St. Patrick's Day so we'll call it a celebration.)


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Joanne Zimmermann: What are the Odds?


At What Age is Someone Old?

An amazing number of people – old people; even people older than 80 – say they are not old.

Some people in that camp say things like, “you're only as old as as you feel.” Yeah, right. Tell that to the employers who won't hire you if you are 50, 55 or older.

Whether anyone likes the idea or not, in the real world it doesn't matter what you imagine about how old you appear. For most functional and social purposes in life, it is what others think of your age, not you, that matters.

Not long ago, AARP conducted a survey asking people, How Old is Old? They report:

”Eighty-five percent of respondents – who ranged in age from 40 to 90 – told us they're not old yet. (One 90-year-old woman said that a woman isn't 'old' until she hits 95.) So who is old? It depends on who you ask.”

Specifically, they found it depends on how old the person is who is being asked.

People in their 40s said 63 is old
People in their 50s said 68
People in their 60s said 73
People in their 70s said 75

Which pretty much proves Bernard Baruch's point of view: “To me, old age is always 15 years older than I am.” (1940)

Here is a small version of the infographic from the AARP survey. Click the image for a lerger, more readable version.

All this shows how much old people are hated – even by themselves. Come on, everyone, say it out loud with me: There is nothing wrong with being old.

Ageism is the last acceptable prejudice. It will not end until everyone becomes comfortable with aging, with including old people in mainstream culture, until age discrimination in the workplace and other kinds of ageism are overcome. Until politicians stop trying to further enrich billionaires on the backs of Social Security beneficiaries.

And none of that will happen until elders themselves – that's you and me – live as comfortably in relation to our years now as we did in our 20s and 30s and 40s.

At what age do you think someone is old?


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Ross Middleton: Hoping For a Good Ending