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New Year's Eve 2014

John Oliver, host of HBO's Last Week Tonight, is still on hiatus for a few more weeks but he has interrupted his time off to give us his three best excuses for refusing New Year's Eve invitations. Take a look:

I would use one of those excuses except that I've been declining for so long that no one asks anymore.

It has been at least 30 years, probably more, since I last went out or hosted guests on New Year's Eve. In fact, in 40 years living in New York, I never went to Times Square. I mean, there's nothing much I can think of that is less festive than freezing your butt off with a million other people milling about in the street and no public rest rooms.

My ritual through all these years has been the same. I have an evening meal that I don't usually indulge in – something I love that is fattening, unhealthy or expensive, a glass or two of a nice wine and a good book that I've been eager to read. I am usually asleep before the fireworks.

This year, the dinner highlight is an excellent foie gras with cornichons and a light-ish red I've been saving for the occasion (and please, don't anyone go all politically correct on me over the foie gras).

To ring in 2014, the book was Kate Atkinson's Life After Life. For 2015, I have again chosen Atkinson, her first novel published 20 years ago to great acclaim, Behind the Scenes at the Museum. It won Britain's Whitbread prize in 1995.

Actually, I didn't wait until today to begin reading and I'm eager to get back to it.

What are your plans for this evening? Here is a lovely video countdown clock to get you in the mood:

Happy New Year, everyone. I'm looking forward to another year with all of you.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Henry Lowenstern: Taking Stock


Where Were You When the Big Events Happened?

Nostalgia has a bad reputation and in its common dictionary meaning - a sentimental longing for times past; a yearning for the “good old days” (that usually were not) – I don't disagree.

But that isn't the only recognized idea of nostalgia. In fact, in the 17th century, when the word was coined, it was a considered a medical condition akin to homesickness, and a form of melancholy.

These days, some psychological researchers believe nostalgia functions in a number of positive ways: to improve mood, increase social connectedness and self respect along with adding to one's sense of meaning in life, although none of that is definitive.

(Stick with me, kids. You'll learn all sorts of useless information.)

Nostalgia and memory are, of course, inseparable – you can't be nostalgic about something you don't remember. And the stronger the memory, personal and public, the more detailed the recall than with commonplace events - according to some research.

Among the strongest kinds of memories are the big public events - you know, the ones we always ask of others, “Where were you when you heard about...?”

A few months ago, that came up when I was with a group that included several people younger than 40 or 45. When John F. Kennedy's assassination was broached, there were blank faces among the younger people, all adults but who were not yet born when that happened.

They learn about it in school, of course, but it doesn't have the emotional impact that resonates with us older folks. A couple of them seemed to be as removed from that event as I, born in 1941, am from President William McKinley's 1901 assassination.

We moved on to where we were when we heard about 9/11, a 2001 event, to which we all lived through. But already that horrible event is moving into the past; it has been nearly 14 years so some of your grandchildren have no emotional connection to it.

All of the above is mostly chitchat. What I'm wondering today is what you recall about the important, big-deal events of our lives. TGB readers span several generations ranging in age from 50 or so to a few 90-somethings so the oldest among us will relate to events some of the rest of us have no personal memory of.

Here's an off-the-top-of-my-head-list of possibilities for TGB readers that had wide public response.

Stock Market Crash of 1929
Life during the Great Depression 1930-1940
Hindenburg Explosion 1937
Pearl Harbor 1941
Life during World War II 1939-1945
Death of President Roosevelt 1945
JFK assassination 1963
Dr. Martin Luther King assassination 1968
First man on the moon 1969
Berlin Wall falls 1989
9/11 attacks 2001

So here's the question: what public events in your lifetime do you have the strongest memories of? Where were you were when you heard about [xxx] and what it was like.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Clifford Rothband: A Moving Experience


ELDER MUSIC: Toes Up in 2014 - 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.


Phil Everly

PHIL EVERLY was the younger of the Everly Brothers. They were the most successful duo in rock history and they possessed the most glorious singing voices. Phil sang high harmony to Don's lower lead.

They came from a tradition of country music singing brothers and added a rock & roll perspective to the music as well as some fine blues guitar work by Don.

As well as using established songwriters, Don and Phil both wrote songs, including some of their biggest hits. During the decade when they didn't perform together, Phil made several well received (but alas, poorly selling) albums as well as performing solo and with others such as Warren Zevon and Paul Simon.

The brothers reunited for a hugely successful concert in London and continued performing until about 2000 when they called it a day.

Most of you would know the great Everly Brothers songs so here is Phil solo with the song The Air That I Breathe, made famous by The Hollies but Phil recorded it first. (He was 74)

♫ Phil Everly - The Air That I Breathe

GERD ALBRECHT was a German conductor who led orchestras in the Czech Republic, Denmark and Japan. He was a champion of contemporary music, particularly the works of Penderecki and Legeti. He also wrote books and set up a foundation for young musicians. (78)

Shirley Temple

SHIRLEY TEMPLE was a film star of the first magnitude when she was a moppet. She also sang a bit. She kept appearing in films until her early twenties, although the later ones weren't as popular as the early ones. She later became a politician of sorts, and an ambassador. (85)

John Shirley-Quirk2

JOHN SHIRLEY-QUIRK was an English bass-baritone. Although he sang from the time he was a boy, John gained a degree in chemistry and later lectured on that subject.

However, the urge to sing was always with him and he was taking singing (as well as violin) lessons at the same time as his chemistry activities. His first singing gig was at Glyndebourne and he performed in many contemporary music programs in London.

He later became a regular member of Benjamin Britten's company, performing his works. It wasn't just modern compositions at which he excelled, he was a fine interpreter of J.S. Bach's cantatas.

Here he performs a bit of one of those, Ich freue mich auf meinen Tod, from the cantata BWV 82. (82)

♫ JS Bach - Ich freue mich auf meinen Tod

PACO DE LUCIA was one of the greatest flamenco guitarists. He not only played in this style but collaborated with jazz, blues and classical musicians as well, most famously with Al di Meola, John McLaughlin and Larry Coryell.

He also worked with Chick Corea in a sextet that brought modern influences to flamenco. (66)

FRANNY BEECHER started out as a session guitarist but joined Bill Haley's Comets just in time to play lead guitar on Rock Around the Clock (and all the other hits that Bill had), thus pretty much kicking off rock & roll. (92)

Jimmy Ruffin

JIMMY RUFFIN was a soul singer who started his career in a gospel group called the Dixie Nightingales with his younger brother David. Later, in Detroit, he caught the ear of Motown honcho Berry Gordy who wanted him as lead singer for The Temptations.

Jimmy suggested that David would be better in the role. He was probably right. Jimmy began a solo career and had a mega-hit with the song, What Becomes of the Brokenhearted.

After falling out with Berry he went to live in England where he was far more popular than in his own country. Later, he made an acclaimed album with his brother after he'd left the Temps.

Over the years he wrote many songs, a lot of which were covered by various Motown artists. This is Jimmy with his big hit. (78)

♫ Jimmy Ruffin - What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted

JERRY VALE was a crooner from the fifties and sixties who came from an Italian background, and many of his songs were in that language. In spite of rock & roll, quite a few of his songs made the charts at that time. (83)

RUPERT ZU LOEWENSTEIN was a banker and advisor to the Rolling Stones for many decades that made the group one of the richest in the world. He also advised Pink Floyd and Cat Stevens. (80)

Charlie Haden

CHARLIE HADEN was one of the great jazz bass players. He started out in country music and moved to California where he was classically trained but where he also heard the music that Gerry Mulligan's group was playing.

Ornette Coleman and Paul Bley were putting together a band to play what became known as free jazz and they asked Charlie to join. Besides Ornette, he had a long association with Keith Jarrett and the pair recorded several albums together.

He has also played with such musicians as Pat Metheny, John Coltrane, Archie Shepp, Ringo Starr and Yoko Ono. Here he is with Keith Jarrett playing No Moon At All. (76)

♫ Keith Jarrett & Charlie Haden - No Moon At All

RAFAEL FRÜHBECK DE BURGOS was a Spanish conductor who championed the composers of his native land, particularly Manuel de Falla and Isaac Albéniz.

He was also the first to bring Carl Orff's Carmina Burana to the concert stage, and the first to record the work. He had a long association with Tokyo's main Symphony Orchestra. (80)

CASEY KASEM was an American disk jockey and actor. His program, American Top 40 (and its various offshoots), was heard all around the world. He was also a film actor and supplied the voices for several cartoon characters. (82)

Doc Neeson

DOC NEESON was the lead singer, songwriter, occasional bass player and charismatic front man for the Australian rock group The Angels. This group was cited by Guns n Roses and a number of Seattle grunge bands, including Nirvava, as their main influence.

The Angels' first single, Am I Ever Going to See Your Face Again, became a youth anthem. Audiences around Australia still reply with an expletive-laden response to the song's chorus.

Doc said of this, "In a way, I'm really delighted to hear that because it's Australian audiences making the song their own in a way I never would have thought possible."

The Angels were a volatile group with members coming and going. In 1999, Doc was seriously injured in a car accident that curtailed his performing for some years. Doc died of an aggressive brain tumor.

This is the song without the audience participation. However, if you're really interested there's always YouTube. (67)

♫ The Angels - Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again

WAYNE HENDERSON was a jazz trombonist and composer and was co-founder of the Jazz Crusaders who were instrumental in bringing jazz fusion to the world. He started playing in school along with several others who later were members of the Crusaders. He also worked with the drummer Billy Cobham, guitarist Gabor Szabo and singer Mary Wells. (74)

TEENIE HODGES was a Memphis session guitarist who backed such musicians as Al Green, Ann Peebles, O.V. Wright and Otis Clay. He also wrote songs for Sam and Dave and others. (67)

Licia Albanese

LICIA ALBANESE was an opera soprano who specialised in roles by Puccini. She was born in Italy and went to America just before the war and eventually became an American citizen.

Her first role was as Cio-Cio San in Puccini's Madama Butterfly, a part she played many times over the years. She was a mainstay at the Metropolitan Opera in New York for a couple of decades (or even longer) and performed extensively with the San Francisco Opera.

In her later years, she performed in various Stephen Sondheim musicals. Licia performs Donde lieta usci from Puccini's La Bohème. (105)

♫ Licia Albanese - Donde lieta usci (La Bohème)

PAUL HORN was a jazz flute player and one of the founders of New Age music. He was classically trained on piano, clarinet and flute. He was renowned for recording in such places as the Taj Mahal, the great pyramid of Giza and in canyons in the south west of America.

He also played with Duke Ellington, Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole and Chico Hamilton. (84)

Lionel Ferbos

LIONEL FERBOS was a trumpeter who played at every New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival until this year when he couldn't perform. At last year's Festival he was acclaimed as the oldest jazz musician still playing. He was 102 at the time.

His ability to read music made him a much in demand player. Apart from several tours of Europe, Lionel remained pretty much exclusively a New Orleans musician. His professional life began in the early 1930s and continued until last year. (103)

DICK WAGNER was a guitarist who played that souring lead guitar on Lou Reed's "Rock & Roll Animal" album. He worked with Alice Cooper, writing songs with him and playing guitar on most of Alice's famous albums. He also played with Nils Lofgren, Billy Joel and Julie Covington amongst others. (71)

Jack Bruce

JACK BRUCE was the bass player, singer and main songwriter for the group Cream. This trio was formed when he, Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker decided each was the best player around on their respective instruments. The group lasted two years.

Jack started as a classically trained singer (he appeared in operas as a youth) and cello player until he was big enough for the double bass. He started playing professionally in jazz groups and later blues and rock bands.

After Cream, he had a sporadic solo career as he liked to play all different styles of music. Also, his heavy drinking and drug taking rather curtailed his long-term prospects.

This is Jack in unusual mode, just singing and playing the piano. The song is one of his own, Theme for an Imaginary Western, that became a bit of a hit for the rock group Mountain. (71)

♫ Jack Bruce - Theme for an Imaginary Western

BOB CREWE was a songwriter and record producer. He was the driving force behind Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. He also wrote songs for The Tams, Freddy Cannon and Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. He later started his own group, the Bob Crewe Generation. (83)

PAUL REVERE DICK gave his name to the group Paul Revere and the Raiders who traded on the “British Invasion” in the sixties. He started out playing classical piano but was inspired by Spike Jones.

The group was more into fashion than quality music but they certainly made a splash, particularly on American Bandstand. They mostly covered other people's music and degenerated into a novelty act. (76)

John Holt

Before Bob Marley, and before Jimmy Cliff, JOHN HOLT was the biggest singer of reggae and rock steady music in Jamaica. He was also the lead singer in the group The Paragons.

Amongst his output was the song The Tide is High which became a big hit for Blondie some years later. He was a smooth singer and often covered pop and country hits of the day in his own style. Here he is with his most famous song. (67)

♫ John Holt - The Tide is High

CLIVE PALMER was the song-writer, banjo virtuoso and general multi-instrumentalist for the sixties' folk rock group, The Incredible String Band. He started out in various clubs and played alongside such unknown performers as John Baldry, Rod Stewart and Davey Graham. (71)

IAN MCLAGAN was the keyboard player for the Small Faces who had a number of hits in the sixties. After leaving the group, he formed Humble Pie. After these bands he was often called upon to add his talent to recordings by Bob Dylan, Taj Mahal, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Bruce Springsteen and many others.

In later years he was a member of Billy Bragg's backing band. (69)

STEVE FROMHOLZ was a Texas singer/songwriter who was under-appreciated by the record-buying public (perhaps because he didn't release many). He worked with Willie Nelson, Michael Nesmith, Hoyt Axton and others over the years. (68)

Acker Bilk

ACKER BILK was a jazz clarinet player and band leader best known for his huge hit, Stranger on the Shore. This, however, wasn't indicative of his music generally.

He was a serious jazz musician who kept performing until the end of his life. Many British rock & rollers were inspired by his music including The Beatles, Van Morrison, Sandy Denny and others. With his band, Acker plays Jazz Me Blues. (85)

♫ Acker Bilk - Jazz Me Blues

BOBBY KEYS was a saxophone player who toured with the Rolling Stones for more than 40 years. Bobby was from Texas, a friend of Buddy Holly and played with him for a time. He later backed Bobby Vee and was one of the musicians who played in the band on Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars tours.

Mick Jagger heard him at a Delaney and Bonnie recording session and asked if he'd want to tour with the Stones. He also played on many of their famous recordings. (70)

Joe Cocker

JOE COCKER will forever be etched into the minds of baby boomers (and others) for his memorable performance of The Beatles' With a Little Help From my Friends at Woodstock. Those who weren't at the festival know that he was certainly the highlight of the film of the event.

Joe had a gift for making just about any song he performed his own, often making you forget all other versions. He later won an Grammy and an Oscar, something few rockers have done. As he did with the Beatles' songs, Joe takes Randy Newman's Guilty and demonstrates what can be done with it. (70)

♫ Joe Cocker - Guilty

COSIMO MATASSA was a studio owner and record producer in New Orleans who recorded the cream of that city's musicians – Roy Brown, Ike Turner, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Aaron Neville, Robert Parker, Johnny Adams, Lee Dorsey and on and on and on.

He collaborated with the great pianist, composer and producer Allen Toussaint. He was a naturally modest man and said that “a lot of great musicians made me look good.” (88)

Christopher Hogwood

CHRISTOPHER HOGWOOD was one of the most important classical conductors of the 20th century. He was long associated with The Academy of St Martin’s-in-the-Fields both as a keyboard player and as a musicologist.

He later formed The Academy of Ancient Music to perform music as historically accurate as possible, not just ancient music but 18th and 19th century music as well. The Academy made over 200 records with him waving the baton or playing harpsichord.

He wrote numerous books on great composers, particularly Handel, Haydn, Mendelssohn and Mozart. He was also an opera conductor, not just the classic repertoire, but was a champion of 20th century music as well.

Christopher plays the harpsichord on J.S. Bach's French Suite No 1, BWV 812, the fourth movement, a minuet. (73)

♫ Christopher Hogwood - JS Bach ~ Minuet


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Arlene Corwin: Eighty is Too Young to Die


ELDER MUSIC: Toes Up in 2014 - 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.


Jesse Winchester

JESSE WINCHESTER was born in Louisiana and lived his early life in a couple of southern states. He moved to Canada in the mid-sixties as he was a pacifist and against the Vietnam war.

He became a Canadian citizen and lived in that country from then on until the last decade or so when he returned to the area of his youth. In Canada he was heard by Robbie Robertson who organized a record deal and played on his first album along with a couple of his Band mates.

It was a critical success but didn't sell very well. None of his albums sold very many copies even though each is a gem. He wrote some of the most beautiful songs around, and some fun ones as well.

He sang like an angel. His songs were covered by the best musicians around and his concerts, for me, were must-see events. From his "Humour Me" album, Too Weak to Say Goodbye. (age 69)

♫ Jesse Winchester - Too Weak to Say Goodbye

MARIA VON TRAPP was the last remaining member of the family about whom a film was made that I have still not seen. I'm told that her character was named Louisa in that film. (99)

MANITAS DE PLATA was a French flamenco guitarist. He was born in a gypsy caravan in southern France and refused to perform in public until 10 years after the death of his hero, Django Reinhardt.

After that, there was no stopping him – he toured the world, made records and became the most famous exponent of his art. Several of his sons and nephews formed the Gipsy Kings. (93)

Claudio Abbado

CLAUDIO ABBADO was one of the most respected conductors in the second half of the 20th century (and later). He was born in fascist Italy and his family aided the partisans and helped many Jewish refugees escape to Switzerland.

He studied piano but found conducting more to his liking. Claudio graced the podium of La Scala, the London Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic and the Vienna State Opera amongst other posts.

He also organized his own orchestra, the Orchestra Mozart, for which he hand-picked the best around. It's from that orchestra, with Claudio conducting and Alessio Allegrini playing the horn, we'll hear the first movement of Mozart's Horn concerto No 1 in D major, K 412. (80)

♫ Mozart - Horn Concerto No. 1 in D major K. 412 (1)

ENCEL'S Stereo was the go-to place for quality stereo equipment in Melbourne. I have acquired amplifiers, speakers, turntables and CD players from them over the years (Norma, the Assistant Musicologist has inherited some of these) and they are all working as well as the day they were bought. Perhaps that was the problem. (55)

BOB CASALE was a guitarist, keyboard player and sound engineer. He was also a founder member of the group Devo who made it big in art-rock circles but did nothing for me. (61)

Pete Seeger

I thought that PETE SEEGER would live forever. It just goes to show.

How can his life be summed up in a dozen lines? He was a folk singer and activist all his life, and he wrote many songs that became anthems for the civil rights, anti-war and ecology movements.

His father was a musicologist (a real one) and his mother a concert pianist and later a teacher at Juilliard. His older brothers went into academia but his four half-siblings all became musicians.

Pete first came to prominence in the Almanac Singers whose revolving membership also included Woody Guthrie, Cisco Houston and Lee Hayes. He found fame as part of the Weavers who had number one hits all over the world. That is, until they were blacklisted.

As a solo performer he was one of the driving forces behind the folk boom of the fifties and sixties. Pete may have been the most optimistic person who ever lived.

He performs one of his friend Woody Guthrie's signature songs (although he didn't actually write it), Hobo's Lullaby. (94)

♫ Pete Seeger - Hobo's Lullaby

ALEXANDER IVASHKIN was a cello player who ran foul of the authorities in the dying days of the Soviet Union by championing and playing contemporary composers. He later pursued research in America on the composer Charles Ives and worked with John Cage, George Crumb and others. (65)

Marcia Strassman

MARCIA STRASSMAN was an actress noted for her roles in Welcome Back Kotter and M*A*S*H. She was also a singer who released a few songs that didn't do much on the charts. (66)

MICKEY ROONEY needs no introduction from me. He made a whole bunch of films with Judy Garland. He's probably the first person to say, "Hey kids, let's put on a show,” something that's been a theme in films ever since.

Besides singing, Mickey was an accomplished pianist and drummer. More than 90 years separate his first film role from his last, a record I imagine won't be broken soon. (93)

Horace Silver

HORACE SILVER was a major jazz pianist. His first important gigs were in Stan Getz's band and he later formed the Jazz Messengers with Art Blakey.

Over the years he played with all the important jazz players including Lester Young, Colman Hawkins, Miles Davis, Clifford Brown and many others. His influence extended further afield than jazz and can be heard in rock & roll (just play any Steely Dan record) and various Latin music genres.

Dozens of important jazz players received their start in his group. Horace plays Walk On. (85)

♫ Horace Silver - Walk On

HERB JEFFRIES was the leading man in a string of all-black western films in the thirties. He started out singing in Erskine Tate's Orchestra and later with Earl Hines' group. Most famously, he was a member of Duke Ellington's Orchestra in the forties. (probably 100)

ARMANDO PERAZA was a Cuban born percussionist, singer and composer who worked with such notables as Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Dexter Gordon, Dave Brubeck, George Shearing and Cal Tjader. However, his longest gig was with Carlos Santana, both with the group Santana and other ventures where he and Carlos performed. (89)

Bobby Womack

BOBBY WOMACK was the third of five brothers, all of whom sang. They sang in church initially, and later formed a group called The Valentinos who had a bit of a hit with a song called It’s All Over Now, later covered by the Rolling Stones (which improved Bobby's bank balance considerably, as he wrote the song).

The Valentinos evolved in the Womack Brothers. Along the way they caught the ear of Sam Cooke who signed them to his record label. Bobby went out as a solo performer and made many records as well as writing sound track scores and songs for other singers.

Besides his solo work and performing with his brothers, he also worked as a session musician for people like Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Dusty Springfield and Wilson Pickett. This is Bobby with I'm a Midnight Mover. (70)

♫ Bobby Womack - I'm a Midnight Mover

Gerry Goffin

GERRY GOFFIN wrote the words to many songs that you'd recognise from the sixties and beyond, mostly to the music of his wife at the time Carole King. He later won Oscars, Tonys and just about every other award for his songs. (75)

TOMMY RAMONE was the drummer and songwriter for the seminal punk band The Ramones. He also produced their records and was about the only steadying influence the group had. He was the last of the original members of the group. (65)

Jimmy Scott

The music of JIMMY SCOTT was introduced to Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, and me by our friend Tom. Tom is a young person who likes old folks' music so we suggest music to each other.

Jimmy had a very rare genetic disease that stunted his growth. It also stopped his voice development such that he had what could almost be described as a male contralto, rather reminiscent of Sarah Vaughan or Billie Holiday.

He began his career singing with the Lionel Hampton band and later performed with such heavyweights as Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Doc Pomus and Ray Charles. He sang (the same song) at both Dwight Eisenhower's and Bill Clinton's inaugurations.

Jimmy gives his unique interpretation of The Drifters' hit On Broadway. (88)

♫ Jimmy Scott - On Broadway

MIKE HAWKER was an English songwriter who wrote hits for Helen Shapiro and Dusty Springfield. Because of this he was in great demand to write songs for other female performers at the time. He was also a reviewer of mainly jazz performances. (77)

Lorin Maazel

LORIN MAAZEL was probably the most prolific conductor ever – he conducted more than 150 orchestras in his lifetime.

He was a child prodigy on the violin and in conducting, making his first appearance conducting at age eight. I'm surprised he could see over the rostrum.

Lorin was born in Paris but spent much of his life in America. As well as the usual circuit, he also took orchestras to China and North Korea to spread the word of great music everywhere. He was also a composer of some note, and wrote cello works for Mstislav Rostropovich and flute pieces for James Galway amongst others. (84)

Johnny Winter

JOHNNY WINTER was the best albino Texas blues guitarist ever. In spite of that rather faint praise, he really was a great electric blues guitarist, not much of a singer though, but who cares when he can play that well.

He was discovered in Texas by Chet Helms who brought him to San Francisco where he was championed by Michael Bloomfield (the best white blues guitarist ever) and he had a glowing spread in Rolling Stone.

vThis set him up as one of the must-see acts of the sixties and seventies. He insisted on complete artistic control of his record albums, and later championed and recorded with Muddy Waters after Muddy had been shamelessly ignored by record companies.

This is Johnny with Be Careful with a Fool. (70)

♫ Johnny Winter - Be Careful with a Fool

IDRIS MUHAMMAD was a New Orleans jazz drummer who played with Pharoah Sanders, Ahmad Jamal, Nat Adderley, Gene Ammons, John Scofield and many others. He wasn't limited to jazz as he supported Roberta Flack and George Benson. In his early career he played drums with Fats Domino, Sam Cooke and Jerry Butler. (74)

TONY CAHILL was an Australian drummer who eventually switched to playing bass. He began as a member of Oz bands the Purple Hearts and Python Lee Jackson and joined the Easybeats when their original drummer left. He was also a member of Georgie Fame's band.

After switching to bass, he joined John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. He jammed with Jimi Hendrix and recruited Rod Stewart to sing on his first recording. He was later a session muso and recorded for Ray Charles, Martha Reeves, the O'Jays, Donna Summer, Sreaming Lord Sutch and more. (72)

George Hamilton IV

GEORGE HAMILTON IV started out as a pop singer in the fifties with songs such as A Rose and A Baby Ruth and Abilene and evolved into a respected country musician. In between, he was one of the first to record songs from writers like Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen and Ian Tyson. (77)

Carlo Bergonzi

CARLO BERGONZI was renowned as one of the greatest interpreters of Verdi. He didn't restrict himself to that composer and was acclaimed for singing parts by Puccini, Donizetti, Giordano and many others.

He lived most of his life (when he wasn't touring) in Busseto, a small town where Verdi also lived. During the war, he was deported to Germany for anti-Nazi activities and spent two years in a prison camp. Afterwards he resumed his studies and made his debut as Figaro.

He started as a baritone and then took time off to train himself to be a tenor. He performed pretty much all the major opera roles. Appropriately, here he is performing Se quel guerrier io fossi from Verdi's “Aida.” (90)

♫ Carlo Bergonzi - Aida ~ Se quel guerrier io fossi

RAPHAEL RAVENSCROFT was a saxophone player who is probably best known for the solo at the end of Gerry Rafferty's hit song, Baker Street. (60)

MAGDA OLIVERO was an Italian opera soprano much loved by audiences but reviled by critics for her many musical shortcomings. She did bring a certain intensity to her performances that often resulted in hysteria from her many fans. (104)

ALVIN STARDUST (born Bernard Jewry) had a couple of goes at rock & roll success. The first was when he was asked to join the group Shane Fenton and the Fentones. Alas, before they made it big Shane died and young Bernard took over the role of Shane to some success in the early sixties.

In the seventies, Bernard reinvented himself as Alvin Stardust who had more success as a moody rock star, particularly in his native Britain. (72)

Jim Keays

JIM KEAYS was the singer, songwriter and harmonica player for the iconic Australian rock group the Masters Apprentices (the lack of apostrophe was deliberate, they claimed) from the mid sixties to the early seventies.

They had numerous hits in that period as well as a dozen or more albums released. Later, as a solo performer, he released several critically acclaimed albums and often performed in musical plays.

In the current century, he often teamed up with fellow sixties rock performers Darryl Cotton and Russell Morris and toured under the name Cotton Keays & Morris. There were several reunions of the Masters and Jim was working on a new album when he died.

Here are the Masters Apprentices with Because I Love You, one of their biggest hits. (67)

♫ Masters Apprentices - Because I Love You

TIM HAUSER was the founder and driving force behind the group Manhattan Transfer. The group brought intricate vocal harmonies of an earlier era to modern, and old, songs. They could sound like the Andrews Sisters, DooWop groups or Lambert, Hendricks and Ross with equal facility.

Tim occasionally produced albums for other performers and also marketed a line of tomato sauces. (72)

GLEN A LARSON was most noted as a TV producer and writer. However, he started out as a singer and songwriter. In the fifties he joined The Four Preps and wrote a number of their hits, including their two biggest, 26 Miles and Big Man (77)

Peter Sculthorpe

PETER SCULTHORPE was Australia's most important and best known modern composer. He was born in Tasmania and educated at Melbourne University and Oxford but discovered after both stints that modern classical composers can't make a living.

In spite of that, he persevered and soon proved that notion wrong. He brought elements of Australia's original inhabitants' music into his compositions and championed Aboriginal musicians. His most famous series of compositions is the Sun Music series, where he includes Aboriginal, Balinese, Japanese and other elements into his music.

He wrote many string quartets, often commissioned by leading quartets, and also wrote many compositions about the landscape of his country – Kakadu, Earth Cry, Mangrove and many others.

Here is an atypical piece, although I suppose all his could be described thus, called Left Bank Waltz, a composition for solo piano. (85)

♫ Peter Sculthorpe - Left Bank Waltz


INTERESTING STUFF – 27 December 2014


YOUNG WOMAN'S BEAUTIFUL MUSIC AT A RETIREMENT COMMUNITY

That doesn't sound like much of a big deal, does it? After all, lots of people bring music to elders, particularly at this time of year.

But it's really different with 24-year-old Marissa Plank in Cleveland, Ohio: she lives there and it's a great idea. Take a look:

You can read more here.


NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON ON PHYSICIST STEPHEN HAWKING

It's not often you hear a scientist referred to as badass but that's what Neil DeGrasse Tyson calls Stephen Hawking in this trailer for the new movie about Hawking, The Theory of Everything. Take a look:


CHRISTMAS DECORATION INJURIES

Who would have guessed – certainly not me – that 15,000 people a year in the U.S. are injured while hanging or taking down Christmas decorations:

”The statistics indicate that around a fifth of all injuries involve Christmas lights, and about half involve non-electric decorations such as wreaths, trees, and ornaments. (Artificial trees, which occupy their own category, account for one in ten injuries.)

“...remember the good news: seventy-five per cent of the decorating injuries come before Christmas Day, so you’re almost out of the woods.”

So be careful out there. You can read more at The New Yorker.


IS LAUGHING CONTAGIOUS?

Thank Darlene Costner for this and see what you think about the headline question.


WALL STREET JOURNALS' BEST PHOTOS OF THE YEAR

Too bad there aren't captions but these are still stunning photographs that, for better or worse, help illuminate the world around us.


PREVIEWING THE NEW CONGRESS

When the Republicans take control of both houses of Congress in January, things will undoubtedly be different and not necessarily for the better. Here is one Democratic legislator, Sherrod Brown, who has elders' issues in mind:


CAT FINALLY HAZ CHEEZBURGER

Although no one knows for sure, it can be argued that a photo of a cat with the legend, “I Can Haz Cheezburger?” started the whole internet cat craze that seems only to grow from year to year.

Now, maybe we can, as someone wrote about this photo, all go home - the internet is dead:

Catfinallyhazcheezburger


GREAT MOMENTS FROM THE COLBERT REPORT

Well, let's say some great moments (there were plenty more) and in a few of these cases, you probably needed to be there to see the entire sketch. But I think we need a farewell video to a great comedian, a great character, and great show.


3D PRINTED DOG LEGS

You know how interested I am in 3D printing and what is being revealed is how amazingly useful it is for replacing body parts.

Wait till you see this success story with man's best friend. It will make you teary with joy.


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 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 include the name of the blog and its URL.


Thoughts On Being Old and Alone

The just finished retail holidays and nearly-here new year seem a good time to consider being old and alone.

“They” tell us again and again that social isolation in old age is a health risk. Repeated studies over many years warn of increased illness and even early death for old people who live alone and don't get out often with others.

I am among those with such concerns, having discussed here how lives shrink after retirement from the workplace and what a boon the internet is, providing a new kind of friendship for elders whose family and friends may have died or live far away.

None of that is wrong or untrue except that sometimes it is. Some people thrive having lots of family, friends and activities to keep them busy, busy, busy. I know people whose schedules are so full we must make lunch or dinner plans a month or two in advance.

Then there are others. Me, for example. I've never been good in social groups – I prefer one-on-one encounters – two or three at most - and I like them with some space between.

Even when I was young, twenties, I had a rule to never go out two nights in a row. Being with people for extended periods exhausts me with the need to be “on” and I seem always to require a period of downtime with myself for awhile afterwards.

Recently, I had an email exchange about all this with Marc Leavitt who blogs here and who contributes many terrific poems and essays at The Elder Storytelling Place.

”...I always knew that I didn’t need a place to go to protect me from the terrible feelings of loneliness, uselessness, and vulnerability that I often heard retirees were afflicted with,” wrote Marc.

“Nor did I need constant interaction with family and 'friends' that so many claim as necessary.

“I remember dozens of occasions when I sat with a bunch of drinking 'buddies' at our local after-work hangout, ready to scream with boredom at the repetitious remarks, sniping, and bad jokes, knowing that I was staying only because I didn’t want to go home to my first wife, and I couldn’t figure out where else to go.”

For me, it was not even bad jokes or a desire to stay away from a difficult marriage. It's that I wear out after a certain amount of time with people. Not that I don't like them; I look forward to seeing them; I enjoy people in short bursts. Then I want time alone.

Marc and I share a sensibility about this:

”...my home is my refuge," he wrote, "a place where I can do as I please – enveloped in silence, or washed over by Mozart’s Requiem. I can watch and listen to Ted Talks on my computer, or a brainless rom-com.

“I can write a poem, or a chapter in the new novel I put aside for a while, or read a chapter of The New Yorker’s book on the 1940s that I just bought from Amazon, or sketch in pencil or charcoal, or model a piece in clay.

“In a word, I can do whatever I’m capable of doing, as long as I want to do it, without fear of interruption, or the nagging feeling that I’m supposed to do something because someone else wants me to do it. I’m dancing to my own tune and singing along quite nicely, thank you very much!”

I couldn't have said it better myself but the subject seems to be more on my mind this time of year when people ask who I'll be with on Christmas (hello, I'm Jewish) or New Year's Eve.

Certainly there are old people living alone who don't like it and are lonely. I suspect that must be particularly true for those who were married for many years and now their spouse has died. Undoubtedly, it is painful to thereafter go it alone.

But the ageing "experts" have made loneliness of old people living alone the default assumption when there are plenty of us who prefer it that way. Marc again:

”My 94-year-old mother, with whom I have always had a fraught relationship, summed it up for me years ago: 'You came into the world with nothing, and you’re going to leave the same way. What you do in between is entirely up to you.'

“And I always recall the epigram at the beginning of Rafael Sabatini’s Captain Blood: 'He was born with laughter in his heart, and a sense that the world was mad.'”

“I think those two sayings can carry you far; they have for me.”

As more baby boomers enter retirement and old age, and the number of elders increases dramatically, it would do us all good to remember that we are as individual in old age as we have been all our lives. We don't all want the same things.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Carl Hansen: Whiskey For My Men; Beer For My Horses


Yet Another Partridge in a Pear Tree - Christmas 2014

Here it is Christmas Day again. You'd think it wouldn't surprise me anymore that it feels like it comes around about a week after last time but it still does – surprise me, that is. Undoubtedly, I will wake up tomorrow morning and it will be Valentine's day.

Today, however, for the third year in a row, we have Penelope Keith. For TGB newcomers who are not British or Australian and may not know who she is, there is a bare bones biography at Wikipedia.

The even shorter version is that she is an acclaimed actor and comedian, primarily in television but on the stage too. You can see excerpts from some sitcoms she has starred in at YouTube.

Bottom line: she is a funny woman. So for the third Christmas in a row, here is Ms. Keith's version of The 12 Days of Christmas. 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, Trudy W. Schuett: Gordon and the Big, Mean Turkey


Christmas Eve 2014

This year is the hundredth anniversary of several unofficial truces on the western front of World War I at Christmas time in 1914. As Wikipedia explains:

”In the week leading up to the holiday, German and British soldiers crossed trenches to exchange seasonal greetings and talk. In areas, men from both sides ventured into no man's land on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to mingle and exchange food and souvenirs.

“There were joint burial ceremonies and prisoner swaps, while several meetings ended in carol-singing...”

For Americans who may not know, Sainsbury's is a large grocery chain in England. It's been around since 1869. In a Christmas tradition of some years' standing, the company produces an elaborate advert (as they call them in England), much longer than a usual commercial.

Sainsbury's explains on the YouTube page that this year's advert was made in partnership with The Royal British Legion:

”...it commemorates the extraordinary events of Christmas Day, 1914, when the guns fell silent and two armies met in no-man’s land, sharing gifts – and even playing football together.

“The chocolate bar featured in the ad is on sale now at Sainsbury’s. All profits (50p per bar) will go to The Royal British Legion and will benefit our armed forces and their families, past and present.”

(Hat tip to my friend, Jim Stone, who is spending the northern hemisphere winter in sunny New Zealand.)

UPDATE: Originally, when I wrote today's post, this was the end. The line you are reading at this moment said, "Merry Christmas, everyone." But then I discovered the videos below.

At first, I thought to scrap the Sainbury's commercial altogether but on second thought I decided both of these video offerings are worth our viewing.

As any fan of Downton Abbey knows by now (good god, even non-fans couldn't miss it), ageing Hollywood heartthrob, George Clooney, will make an appearance in the new season that begins in January.

For this video to make sense, Americans need to know that Text Santa is a charity of the British TV channel ITV where Downton Abbey is broadcast in Great Britain.

During the production of Clooney's appearance on the show this Christmas sketch, in two parts, was produced. It is loads of silly fun.

NOW I can say, Merry Christmas everyone from Ronni, Crabby Old Lady and Ollie the cat.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Jackie Davis: Dr. Zhivago at Sam's Club


Growing Old Publicly with Conviction and Honesty

In October, the actor Frances McDormand broke her ten-year moratorium on interviews to promote the four-part HBO miniseries, Olive Kitteridge, in which she both starred and produced.

Because I don't subscribe to HBO, I haven't seen the movie but I've seen a lot of other films with McDormand which leads me to believe that she was as wonderful, believable and, most of all, intelligent in the role as she has been in everything else.

The movie, adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Elizabeth Strout follows retired school teacher, Olive Kitteridge, for 30 years from age 45 until age 75.

McDormand herself turned 57 this year and in many of her publicity interviewgs for the film she discussed growing old. We need a lot more elders like her. Here is part of what she told NPR:

”One of the reasons that I am doing press again after 10 years' absence is because I feel like I need to represent publicly what I've chosen to represent privately — which is a woman who is proud and more powerful than I was when I was younger.

“And I think that I carry that pride and power on my face and in my body. And I want to be a role model for not only younger men and women — and not just in my profession, I'm not talking about my profession.

“I think that cosmetic enhancements in my profession are just an occupational hazard. But I think, more culturally, I'm interested in starting the conversation about aging gracefully and how, instead of making it a cultural problem, we make it individuals' problems. I think that ageism is a cultural illness; it's not a personal illness.”

I've never been able to put that as succinctly as Ms. McDormand - “ageism is a cultural illness” - but I agree down to my toes.

What happens is that we are tootin' along fine in our lives going to work, raising our children, generally respected in what we do - until one day we no longer are, until one day the culture tells us we're too old based solely on what we look like.

I am so pleased someone much more well known than I am is starting to say these things.

Many Hollywood stars feel the need to surgically enhance their appearance when it becomes evident they are passed the arbitrary show business sell-by date. They have been convinced it is the only way to continue their careers – especially women actors. But not Frances McDormand:

”Getting older and adjusting to all the things that biologically happen to you is not easy to do, and is a constant struggle and adjustment.

“So, anything that makes that harder and more difficult — because I don't believe that cosmetic enhancement makes it easier; I think it makes it harder. I think it makes it much more difficult to accept getting older.

“I want to be revered. I want to be an elder; I want to be an elderess. I have some things to talk about and say and help. And, if I can't, then — not unlike Olive — I don't feel necessary.”

With honesty and conviction like that, McDormand might even be able to make a dent in public perception of aging. She told The New York Times that she will no longer wait for others to bring her good acting roles and

”...she won’t emulate other actresses in her age range — she’s 57 — and cast herself in the most flattering light possible.

“'It’s a subversive act,' she said. And while she partly meant the subtlety of 'Olive,' she mostly meant the showcase that it affords older actors playing older people with late-in-life worries.

“'Olive' is her answer to an industry and a society that she finds perverse in their fixation on youth.

“'We are on red alert when it comes to how we are perceiving ourselves as a species,' she said. 'There’s no desire to be an adult. Adulthood is not a goal. It’s not seen as a gift.

“Something happened culturally: No one is supposed to age past 45 — sartorially, cosmetically, attitudinally. Everybody dresses like a teenager. Everybody dyes their hair. Everybody is concerned about a smooth face.'”

Now and then, through the decade I've been writing this blog, people have suggested that what we need to change the negative perceptions of old people is a new Maggie Kuhn – referring to the charismatic founder of the Gray Panthers. I nominate Frances McDormand.

”Looking old, she told The New York Times, should be a boast about experiences accrued and insights acquired, a triumphant signal 'that you are someone who, beneath that white hair, has a card catalog of valuable information.'”

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Richard J. Klade: Hurray! The Smokeout is Winning Out


The Cost of Healthcare for Elders and Others

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Remember last week when I told you about Dave Delaney and linked to the podcast we did together? Now Dave has taken a part of our conversation about time speeding up and slowing down, and turned it into a story for his hometown paper, The Nashville Tennesseean. You can read it here.]


According to a recent poll from Gallup, Americans' satisfaction with the cost of their healthcare has remained about the same over the past five years – 57 percent.

However, when the poll is broken down by age group, the most satisfied demographic are people 65 and older – 77 percent. Here is the chart:

GallupHealthcare

Gallup explains further:

”U.S. adults holding health insurance via a private insurance plan are about as likely to rate their coverage positively (77%) as Americans holding either Medicare or Medicaid (75%), suggesting both groups are about equally happy with their plans.

“But, as noted earlier, Medicare and Medicaid holders are far more satisfied with the cost of their plan.”

No kidding. The price is reasonable for most people and it is predictable year to year. And the reason, I suspect, for elders' positive rating overall of their healthcare is that there are not dozens of choices. Medicare coverage is medicare coverage - the same for everyone with traditional coverage and not much difference for Advantage plans.

Unlike private insurance where coverage and premiums that can change dramatically year-to-year leaving customers scrambling to maintain the kind of coverage they want at a price they can afford, Medicare beneficiaries have only Part D changes to keep up with each year.

Well, that is true only after the initial decisions, when joining Medicare, about Advantage plans versus traditional Medicare along with supplemental plans, etc.

Not that understanding Medicare is easy in the beginning, but once done, it is mostly behind us except for the dreaded annual Part D (prescription drugs) for those with traditional Medicare.

Of course, it doesn't have to be this complicated. Healthcare in other developed countries is considered not a commercial enterprise as it is in the U.S., but a human right for people of all ages all their lives. Certainly, there are problems; no system is perfect. But there is universal availability.

In the U.S., even though the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) has helped reduce the uninsured rate to 14.5 percent, that's still one-seventh of the population with no coverage.

As I explained here a couple of months ago, I am in the early stages of two years of dental work for which I have no insurance coverage. When I allow myself to think about the five-figure cost estimate, I have trouble breathing.

And what about people who cannot afford health coverage of any kind - for themselves and worse, for their children. I have trouble breathing when I think of them too. How do we allow this to continue in this country?


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Wendl Kornfeld: What the Palm Reader Knew


ELDER MUSIC: Christmas 14

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.


ChristmasOz65

Well, the weather is warming up. Indeed, it's getting quite hot. That means that Christmas must be near. As the Christmas song doesn't go -

Later on we'll perspire
As the temperature gets higher
We're living in a summer wonderland

I had hoped that Christmas would slide past me this year (as I hope every year) but that's not to be, so here is some appropriate music for your delectation.

I'll start the column the way I wish to continue it. So here we have PADDY ROBERTS with Merry Christmas You Suckers.

Paddy Roberts

I don't think that this is the version of the song I remember from my youth but I don't have that one (and can't remember who performed it), so you're stuck with Paddy, who actually wrote the song.

Also, I haven't found any reference to another version on the intertube so maybe it really is the one from back then and my memory is playing its usual tricks.

♫ Paddy Roberts - Merry Christmas You Suckers

The only white Christmas I've ever experienced was when I spent Christmas in New Mexico. Actually that happened several times, so I've had more than one white Christmas. That was in Albuquerque.

JERRY DEAN sings of that experience in his song Christmas in New Mexico. Well, not my specific experience, I think his was different.

Jerry Dean

I thought at the time(s) that the snow at Christmas was just wrong and what's with all that cold? The weather should be hot when Santa comes a'calling. Christmas means sitting around in the shade or at the beach drinking chilled white wine. However, I was impressed by the luminaria.

Luminaria

♫ Jerry Dean - Christmas in New Mexico

PEARL BAILEY has the Christmas spirit down pat.

Pearl Bailey

Her song is Five Pound Box of Money, a tune reminiscent of the attitude of Eartha Kitt's song we've featured in past years called Santa Baby. Pearl is a bit more focused on what she wants.

♫ Pearl Bailey - Five Pound Box Of Money

Alas, CHARLIE HADEN won't hear his tune as he died earlier this year. He performs it with HANK JONES.

Charlie Haden & Hank Jones

They play the old song It Came Upon the Midnight Clear rather nicely. Charlie played bass and Hank, the piano.

♫ Charlie Haden & Hank Jones - It Came Upon The Midnight Clear

LEON REDBONE asks us "How'd you like to spend Christmas on Christmas Island?"

Leon Redbone

There seem to be two Christmas Islands, one in the Pacific and another in the Indian Ocean. The Pacific one was used by the British and later the Americans to test hydrogen bombs.

Now, from my undergraduate physics studies, I know about the half-lives of the various radioactive by-products of such events so I'll give that one a miss.

The other is an Australian dependency not far from Indonesia. This is one of the places that our current appalling government sends refugees for processing in "facilities" that resemble maximum security prisons.

So in answer to Leon's question, "I wouldn't." That's the polite reply. It's a pleasant sounding song though, Christmas Island.

♫ Leon Redbone - Christmas Island

I've served it up to the Australian government, now it's the American's turn. I'll let RY COODER do that with this cheerful ditty.

Ry Cooder

Actually, it's about the previous government but would probably be appropriate for any for the last 50 years. The song is Christmas Time This Year.

♫ Ry Cooder - Christmas Time This Year

I would think twice about spending the yule time season with the EVERLY BROTHERS (or Everly Brother nowadays) as they sing that Christmas Eve Can Kill You.

The Everly Brothers

That would really put you off your eggnog (or chilled chardonnay, depending on where you live).

♫ The Everly Brothers - Christmas Eve Can Kill You

This column is not to be taken seriously. You might have noticed that already. If I say that we have ELLA FITZGERALD next you might think that that's good, she'll bring a bit of quality to today's proceedings.

I don't want to dissuade you of that thought, but -

Ella Fitzgerald

Ella's song is not one that's like her usual ones, it's called Santa Claus Got Stuck In My Chimney. What was she thinking when she agreed to record this one?

♫ Ella Fitzgerald - Santa Claus Got Stuck In My Chimney

TRUCKSTOP HONEYMOON are husband and wife duo Mike and Katie West.

Truckstop Honeymoon

They met when they were both busking on the streets of New Orleans. After a court house wedding they went touring and spent their wedding night at a truck stop somewhere in Louisiana, thus the name.

They now have four kids who travel with them whenever they tour and about whom they write songs (as well as about each other). Their house and recording studio in New Orleans were destroyed by Katrina's aftermath and they left for Kansas.

That produced this song, House of Love.. Incidentally, Mike is the son of renowned author Morris West.

Truckstop Honeymoon - House of Love

For your moment of couth, I must apologise as I'm afraid I've made a serious lapse into good taste. I hope you won't hold that against me. I won't apologise for including Mr HANDEL though, for he's one of my favorite composers.

Handel

I've taken a piece from his best known work, The Messiah, something we hear every year around this time, but if you listen with fresh ears and it's really well done it's always worth listening to.

The tune is For Unto Us A Child Is Born by the choir of King's College, Cambridge.

♫ Handel - For unto us a child is born

Well, there's another year shot to pieces.

ChristmasOz49


INTERESTING STUFF – 20 December 2014


THE GREAT ELIZABETH WARREN SPEECH

It was Friday evening before the great Congress shutdown vote - 12 December. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren took to the microphones that evening to speak for we the people against Wall Street overreach – specifically, Citigroup. And what a speech it was.

Watch this. If you've already seen it, watch it again. Memorize it. Apply it to every political act you take.


AT A GERMAN SUPERMARKET CHECKOUT COUNTER

A weird and wonderful Christmas surprise. Thank Darlene Costner for this.


BOOKSHOPS OFF THE BEATEN PATH

Abebooks is one of the great alternatives to Amazon and it has sellers from more than 50 countries. Some of the shops are in big cities; others survive in astonishly remote locations.

This one, Pendlebury's is in Porthyrhyd, Carmarthenshire, Wales is 60 miles from Cardiff, Abebooks tells us, and a four-hour, 206-mile drive from London:

Pendleburys

The Old Inlet Shop is in Homer, Alaska, 221 miles from Anchorage and a 52-hour drive of 2,485 miles from Seattle, Washington:

Old-inlet

You can see more images of the these two shops and others at Abebooks.


SIMON'S CAT CHRISTMAS

Bev Carney keeps me up to date with Simon's Cat. Here is this year's Christmas episode.


OH MY GOD. I WANT ONE. RIGHT NOW

I spend my days using not much more than five percent of my smartphone. I don't like to do much of anything on it that I can do on my laptop because it's way too small. Talking, check the time, the weather – that's about it.

Now, as of this video from Darlene, I have officially changed my mind. I want one of these and I want it right now. Unfortunately, it is still in development, a long way from production. But please god, let me live long enough to have one. Take a look.

You can find out more about the Cicret Bracelet at the website.


STEPHEN COLBERT'S AMAZING GOODBYE

On Thursday night, Steven Colbert ended his nine-year run on Comedy Central in the caricature of a monumentally doofus and pompous right wing pundit. It was brilliant satirical persona and he never made a false character move.

In the finale of the last show, Colbert brought on what felt like every guest he ever interviewed - an amazing assortment of politicians, entertainers, writers, pundits and more - all singing We'll Meet Again.

If you pay attention to the lyric, it's a really sad song - I got a bit teary knowing one of my top four or five TV programs has ended. Take a look:

In May 2015, Colbert will be back as the permanent host of the CBS Late Show after David Letterman retires. It will be a Colbert we've hardly ever seen, no longer in that character so many of us have come to love and learn from.


I'M NOT HANGING NOODLES ON YOUR EARS

That's the name of a book about idioms from around the world by someone named Jag Bhalla. Atlantic magazine has turned some of the idioms into a quiz to see if we know what they mean.

Phrases like “In the mouth of the wolf” (Italian) and “Jumped over his bellybutton” (Hebrew) and, oh yes, that one about noodles on your ears (Russian) in the headline.

You can take the quiz here and find out if you know what they mean.


REALLY CUTE FLASH MOB IN PARIS

Darlene's been busy this past week. Here's another from her with a bunch of talented kids in a vertical mall in Paris. (Any French speakers here, maybe you will translate the note at YouTube. The most I can manage is XXX in three categories – dance, music, song.”


PUPPY GIFTS

Alan Goldsmith send this compilation video of a whole lot of people reacting to receiving a puppy for Christmas. They all cried and I suspect you will too.

MERRY CHRISTMAS WEEK, EVERYONE


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 include the name of the blog and its URL.


The Pleasures of Comfort Food

PROGRAMMING REMINDER: Repeating an announcement I made a couple of days ago:

Back in 2008, I made a presentation about web design for elders at the Gnomedex Conference in Seattle. I met a lot of young, interesting and engaged tech workers there and one of the them was Dave Delaney.

Dave is an expert on digital marketing, social media strategy and business networking, and he hosts a regular podcast, New Business Networking. Yesterday, we recorded an interview about age, blogging and networking online and off.

Dave is smart, knowledgeable and loads of fun to talk with. You can listen to the podcast here at Dave's website. I'm sure you will enjoy it.


A couple of days ago, the Well blog at The New York Times reported on a new study that suggests comfort foods don't work – they don't lift your mood or, at least, not for long.

I'll quote The Times reporter, Jan Hoffman, who is far more readable than the research abstract is:

”True, your mood will probably improve shortly after you eat your favorite high-carb hug, but no more so than if you’d eaten a granola bar — a pleasant enough choice, but hardly a fixture in that calorically elevated 'comfort food' category.”

I can't resist interrupting Hoffman for a moment to note that granola bars, like granola itself, are hardly a low-calorie, low-carb food even if it's not in the writer's comfort category. Continuing from The Times:

“In a study published in the journal Health Psychology, researchers at the University of Minnesota found that even when you don’t soothe yourself with food, your mood will probably bounce back on its own.”

Once again, I am dumbfounded at what research money is spent on. There is not a reader here who couldn't tell us the same thing. After all, there are all kinds of occasions in our lives when we haven't had the time, opportunity or even the inclination to indulge a craving and we feel better later anyway.

(According to the story, the research was funded by NASA that is interested in finding more attractive foods for astronauts who lose weight when traveling in space. Here's a free clue for NASA: invent a way to feed them real food instead of the goop they squeeze out of plastic bags.)

Further, the study started out with the assumption that comfort food involves lots of carbohydrates and calories. Really?

Macaroni and cheese is yummy, so is ice cream. But when I'm craving something I know makes me feel good, it can just as easily be Dungeness crab where I live now, was often lobster when I lived in Maine and when rainbow trout or certain salmon are available, I could gorge on them every day.

But maybe I'm not average about food. Just in case that's so, let's stipulate that in general, comfort food means high calorie. But it can't be just any version of a favorite, can it? Doesn't even a common dish like macaroni and cheese need to be a specific recipe or product each individual craves?

I've never eaten commercially made mac and cheese I could finish – it is universally awful, glu-ey stuff. Instead, it must be – wait for it – my recipe that involves four kinds of cheese and produces instant heart attack – or Kraft. (My taste in many things – food and otherwise – frequently falls into both ends of the value or price spectrum.)

In truth, I'm not really interested in the research study that I think is ill-conceived and doesn't prove anything useful. It was the phrase “comfort food” that caught my attention and made me think it would be a good topic in a week where there have been a lot of posts here that were heavy going.

And, it is the time of year when two food-related issues emerge:

  1. We tend to eat and overeat all kinds of things that aren't good for us
  2. Families often cause a lot of tension. Tension calls for relief. And that can mean the craving for comfort food

Maybe yours is already on the menu. In my case, I really, really like leftover turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, especially the next day either piled on a plate or shoved between two pieces of bread. And I certainly don't need to be in a bad mood to want it.

It seems to me that peanut butter is a near-perfect food. Nice in a sandwich but why bother. I just spoon it straight from the jar into my mouth. I'm not even a grownup about it - I can do half a jar at a sitting (or standing) which is why it's not allowed in my home.

What about you and comfort food?


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Fritzy Dean: Pajama Day


Sometimes Elders Trouble Me

Every election year, I am puzzled, and troubled too, that “my tribe” - elders – reliably votes in large numbers against its own best interests, electing Republican politicians who, almost to a person, want to cut Social Security and Medicare.

Enough elders vote the GOP party ticket that it can't be just the obscenely rich oligarchy. Many old people of moderate and modest means apparently are willing to lose their Social Security and Medicare benefits even though they bought it for themselves by paying into the system all their working lives.

Certainly there are times when sacrifice for the greater good is important but we would have heard about it if that were what's going on with these voters. Are they ignorant or do they really identify with the wealthy as some people tell me or are they just stupid?

It is a painful mystery and now there is another issue where elders grieve me.

Last week, from 11-14 December, The Pew Research Center polled 1001 Americans about the Torture Report right after it was released by Congress. Specifically, respondents were asked if they believe CIA “interrogation methods” (ahem – that would be “torture” according to a number of international agreements the U.S. is signatory to) were justified.

Astonishingly (to me), the country overall is divided right down the middle: 51 percent answered yes. Here's the chart (DK means don't know):

TortureJustified

Of course, the numbers are different when the survey is broken down into demographic units. I wasn't surprised to read that men more than women believe torture is justified; that whites more than blacks or Hispanics do so; Republicans more than Democrats; those with less education than those with more.

But then there is this: People aged 50 to 64 and those 65 and older believe torture to be justified by 59 percent and 62 percent respectively. Now that surprised me. And it distresses me.

Here is the chart:

TortureSurveyAge

I am left speechless and have no way to understand.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Arlene Corwin: The Synapse Murders


Pension Theft

IMPORTANT PROGRAMMING NOTE: Back in 2008, I made a presentation about web design for elders at the Gnomedex Conference in Seattle. I met a lot of young, interesting and engaged tech workers there and one of the them was Dave Delaney.

Dave is an expert on digital marketing, social media strategy and business networking, and he hosts a regular podcast, New Business Networking. Yesterday, we recorded an interview about age, blogging and networking online and off.

Dave is smart, knowledgeable and loads of fun to talk with. You can listen to the podcast here at Dave's website. I'm sure you will enjoy it.


Pensions are disappearing from American business. Each year, fewer companies offer them but if that's the case when you take a job, at least you can make other plans for your old age.

But there is something awful happening to people already retired: benefits are being cut and even lost.

That happens in different ways – some legal, some questionable. Pension plans can be underfunded and so run out of enough money to pay all of what's owed to retirees. Bankruptcy can end pensions altogether. The Enron scandal is a famous example - employees have never seen a penny.

Think about that: you planned reasonably well and with a combination of personal savings, Social Security and a pension plan you paid into during your working years, you get by. That combined income might be modest, maybe it doesn't allow luxuries, but you can afford your home, your car and other necessities.

Until one day, you get an announcement that your pension is being cut by – oh, maybe 50 percent. Or perhaps it won't be paid at all anymore.

Now what? Will you lose your home? Will you still be able to afford co-pays for prescription drugs you and your partner need? You scramble to figure out your new financial reality.

This is no small or occasional screwup. It is so common that a couple of years ago, Ellen E. Schultz wrote a highly acclaimed and frightening book about it titled, Retirement Heist, subtitled How Companies Plunder and Profit from the Nest Eggs of American Workers.

Consider what is happening today to state employee pensions in Kansas.

You will recall that the state's governor, Sam Brownbeck, slashed taxes for businesses and high income earners so that now, two years later, tax revenues have plummeted by a quarter of a billion (with a B) dollars leaving gigantic bills that need to be paid and not enough money to do so. Brownback's solution:

”Slash the state’s required pension contribution by $40 million to balance the state budget. But Kansas already has one of the worst-funded pension systems in the nation. The state was also recently sanctioned by the Securities and Exchange Commission for not accurately disclosing the shortfalls,” reports International Business Times.

“Brownback, an icon of tea party economics who was re-elected in 2014, defended his proposal to divert money from the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS), telling the Wichita Eagle: 'It’s kind of, uh, well where are you going to go for the funds?'”

Oh, of course. Why didn't I think of that: those old people don't need the pensions they paid into. Who cares if they can't afford to eat.

Just when you think nothing else can go wrong, it does. Remember all that noise last weekend about Congress staying in session overtime to pass the $1.1 trillion spending bill so the government wouldn't shut down this week? The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM) explains what else is in that bill that is now law.

"[It] reversed 40 years of federal law protecting retirees’ pensions. The change will allow benefit cuts for up to 10 million workers, many of them part of a shrinking middle-class workforce in businesses such as construction and trucking. There wasn’t a single Congressional hearing on the plan before it was slipped into the spending bill...”

Bad enough, right? Now read the interpretation of that change from the Wall Street Journal. The emphasis is mine:

”Lawmakers and experts, while divided over the merits of the change, largely agreed that it could well be the first of many.

"The measure 'would set a terrible precedent,' said Karen Friedman, executive vice president of the Pension Rights Center, a group that advocates for wider pension coverage and opposes benefit cuts. The bill could encourage similar cutbacks in troubled state and local pension plans, and possibly even Social Security and Medicare, she said.”

It sometimes happens that way with legislation; a limited exception (as bad as it is) is used to grease the skids for expansion to areas where it was not intended.

I'm sure you'll feel much better about about that possibility when you read this, from the same Wall Street Journal story:

“'Facing up to the insolvency is healthy,' said Alex Pollock, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. While it is difficult to consider cutting retiree benefits, it is often better than taking the money from other people, such as taxpayers, he said.”

It is a foregone conclusion that the next Congress, which convenes in January and is entirely controlled by the Republicans, will try to cut Social Security and Medicare one way or another. We cannot trust President Barack Obama not to go along. I hope you will be with me, ready to fight back as hard as we can.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Henry Lowenstern: Memories of a German Childhood


Hanukkah 5775

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Usually, on big holidays, I post a photo or video, something short as a celebration and let us otherwise have a day off from the blog. This year, a contributor to The Elder Storytelling Place sent a Hanukkah story for that blog but it seems a good fit here today. Happy Hanukkah, everyone.]



MY MOTHER'S MENORAH

By Trudi Kappel

More than half a century ago, my mother received a birthday present of a Hanukkah menorah from her father. It is sterling silver, of a modern design and, unusual, burns oil not candles. When my Mother died, 23 years ago, I inherited it.

image

I identify as an ethnic but not a religious Jew. The times I have visited a synagogue can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Yet, each December I polish my menorah, re-wick it and light it. The first night two lights, the following night three until on the last night all nine glow. It is very beautiful and the tradition continues.

I wonder who will light this menorah when I am gone.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Trudi Kappel: 500 Words


And the Winner of How To Be Old Is...

Last week, I told you about a new book I like a lot, How To Be Old, a modern-language update of Marcus Tullius Cicero's 2000-year-old masterpiece, De Senectute, by Richard Gerberding and Lance Rossi.

A random number drawing was held for an extra copy I have and the winner is – ta-dum - the reader who signs her comments "annie" but her real name is Harriet. I'll let her explain:

"My first name is Harriet. But my middle name is Ann. To family and dear friends, I am annie. After forty years in Colorado, I'm back home in So. Cal and loving it. No snow or ice!

"P.P.S. I meant to add that I've just begun working again at age 68. I do want to know all I can about being an old woman!"

In that case, since at TGB she is among friends, she must be annie when she's here, right? Congratulations, annie. The book is on its way as you read this.

Three Additional Winners
But wait, there's more. When the Quid Pro Books publisher saw how many of you responded for the drawing, he offered to supply three more books. Because the drawing was already in progress, we decided to give the books to commenters who said they would share their copy if they won.

(Just to be clear, I completely understand those who said they would keep the book for themselves to read and re-read. Me too, and there's nothing wrong with either point of view.)

Those share-the-wealth-style winners are Bruce Cooper, Sue C. Jones and Joan Callaway, and their books will soon be on their way via the U.S. Postal Service.

Congratulations to all three of you.

But Wait – Five More
Now, as if that were not enough good cheer, an email arrived from a veteran TimeGoesBy reader who wants to remain anonymous. She offered to donate five copies of How To Be Old to the giveaway. Can I get some applause please for this big-hearted benefactor.

So, another five random number drawings were conducted to select five more winners from those who made their interest known in the comments on Thursday's post. Here now – drum roll – are those five winners: Cathy Feiler, Dee Hayes, Judy in Charlotte, Marcia and Mary Warren.

So thanks to the largesse of the publisher and of our anonymous donor, instead of just one, there are nine winners of this excellent new book.

One More Thing
'Tis the season, as they say, for newspapers and magazines of both the print and online variety to list their 10 or 50 or 100 best books of the year 2014. I keep a list of Best Books on Aging you can always access from the link in the upper right sidebar on every page of this blog.

But I am much less lavish in my praise than all those more well-known publications and this year I have added just two books to the TimeGoesBy list:

  1. The one we are discussing here today, How To Be Old
  2. Atul Gawande's equally excellent Being Mortal subtitled, Medicine and What Matters in the End, which I wrote about here earlier this year

Again, congratulations the winners today and my great appreciation to Quid Pro Books publisher and the TGB anonymous donor.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavitt: After the Fall


ELDER MUSIC: 1966 Again

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 1966?

  • Lee Ann Womack was born
  • Bob Dylan was injured in a motor cycle accident.  He vanished for over a year.
  • The Hovercraft made its maiden voyage across the English Channel. It wasn't full of eels
  • The Doors' first album was released
  • How to Steal a Million was released
  • St Kilda were premiers

Dooby dooby doo, I'm starting with FRANK SINATRA and Strangers in the Night.

Frank Sinatra

This was a bit of a comeback for Frank, it was his first number one for more than a decade. He hated the song.

♫ Frank Sinatra - Strangers in the Night

ROBERT PARKER was a really good saxophone player, so good in fact, that Professor Longhair employed him in his band for six or seven years.

Robert Parker

He later also played for Fats Domino, Irma Thomas and others. As a singer, he's perhaps known only for one song, Barefootin'. A pretty good song though.

♫ Robert Parker - Barefootin'

THE HOLLIES, like many English groups from that time, attached themselves to the coattails of The Beatles and made a pretty good living.

The Hollies

Bus Stop was written by Graham Gouldman when he was only 16. He was later a member of 10CC.

The Hollies' manager knew the Gouldman family and took the group along to meet Graham. When he played the song they were gobsmacked and asked if he had any more.

He had No Milk Today as well but Herman's Hermits got that one.

♫ The Hollies - Bus Stop

THE WALKER BROTHERS were not brothers and none of them was named Walker.

The Walker Brothers

I suppose you could say something similar about the Righteous Brothers but it's pretty obvious that that isn't an actual name.

Anyway, the Walkers were Gary Leeds, Scott Engel and John Maus (who performs that terrific lead vocal). Rather surprisingly for the time, they had more success in Britain than their native America, particularly with The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore.

♫ The Walker Brothers - The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore

I just have to say BOB LIND and pretty much all of you will know what song I have lined up.

Bob Lind

Elusive Butterfly was the B-side of a record that had Cheryl's Going Home on the front. That song was covered really well by the Blues Project.

However, as happened now and then, a DJ flipped over the record and people loved it. It became a big seller all over the place. It turned out to be the only one Bob had.

♫ Bob Lind - Elusive Butterfly

Here's another troubadour from the time, CRISPIAN ST. PETERS.

Crispian St Peters

That's such a splendid name you know it has to be a fake, and it is. Old Crisp was born Robin Smith. Before going solo he was a member of half a dozen or so bands.

Record execs plucked him out of one of these and got him to record TThe Pied Piper. He didn't ever match the success of that one.

♫ Crispian St. Peters - The Pied Piper

Yet another number one song for THE SUPREMES.

The Supremes

Berry Gordy wouldn't allow anything else. This one is You Keep Me Hangin' On, covered rather memorably later by Vanilla Fudge.

♫ The Supremes - You Keep Me Hangin On

DONOVAN Leitch started out as a Bob Dylan wannabe.

Donovan

Fortunately, he soon stopped that sort of thing and came up with his own, occasionally fey, songs. There were some gems in amongst the dross of his output. I'd say that this is one of those.

Jimmy Page played guitar on this track. Jimmy later was the axe-man for Led Zeppelin. This is Sunshine Superman.

♫ Donovan - Sunshine Superman

Here's the LOVIN' SPOONFUL's second single.

Lovin' Spoonful

The song Did You Ever Have to Make up Your Mind was the soundtrack for my final year at university, in more ways than one.

♫ Lovin' Spoonful - Did You Ever Have to Make up Your Mind

By the time he was 15, the powers that be at Motown records (Berry Gordy especially) had pretty much decided that STEVIE WONDER was already over the hill.

Stevie Wonder

Stevie recorded Uptight (Everything's Alright) and proved them wrong. He went on to record some really fine albums (and a couple of clunkers) in the seventies.

♫ Stevie Wonder - Uptight (Everything's Alright)

You can find more music from 1966 here. 1967 will appear in three weeks' time.


INTERESTING STUFF – 13 December 2014


SNL'S MOCK STAR WARS TRAILER

The much awaited trailer for the newest Star Wars movie was released and a week ago. Saturday Night Live responded by reimagining the video with elder versions of the original characters – Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo and even Chewbacca.

It seems to me to be the worst kind of stereotypes of old people. Or is it funny? See what you think.

If you're a Star Wars fan (in which case, you've undoubtedly seen this but what the hell) here is the real movie trailer on which the spoof is built.


GINGERBREAD HOUSE COMPETITION WINNERS

I didn't know there is such a thing as a National Gingerbread House competiton, but the 22nd annual contest was held in November in Asheville, North Carolina.

This competition is as far as you can get from traditional gingerbread houses. This chessboard took first place.

Gingerbread1

This cute little house took first in the teen division:

GingerbreadTeenDivisionwinner

The 150 entries were evaluated on overall appearance, originality/creativity, difficulty, precision and consistency of theme. Me? I prefer the old-fashioned kind of gingerbread houses. You can read more here.


GRIT BEATS BULLYING BEAUTIFULLY

Yes, it is a Russian television commercial for Pantene but who cares. You'll be rooting for the little girl and you might even get a bit weepy at the end.


WHAT IS AGING?

From TGB reader Cop Car, this is integrative biologist Joao Pedro de Magalhaes explaining how aging happens while speculating on how human life span might be extended.


FROZEN SOAP BUBBLES

Did you ever wonder what happens if you blow soap bubbles in below freezing weather? Me neither. But Peter Tibbles, who writes the Sunday Elder Music column here, found someone who did. Look at this:

Frozen-bubbles1

Here's another.

Frozen-bubbles2b

Gorgeous. I'm glad someone was curious enough to do this. You can see more photos of frozen bubbles here.


HOW TO FOLD A FITTED SHEET

I'm 73 years old and I still cannot fold a fitted sheet. But never fear – you can learn almost anything on the internet.

I knew that. I've even tried it. I still can't do it. My solution is to just ball us the sheet and put it on the linen closet shelf. Who cares if it's wrinkly.


BOB MANKOFF'S NEW YORKER CARTOON VIDEO

As noted a couple of weeks ago, New Yorker magazine cartoon editor Bob Mankoff is now doing a weekly video about all things cartoon-y.

In this one, he shared the best cartoon captions of the year. Keep your finger on pause button because some go by too fast to see the caption.


ELEPHANT OLD AGE HOMES

No photos of this, no video, just a nice idea to help out some aging animals in India. In the state of Kerala, Travancore Devaswom Board (administers temples in the state) is setting up old age homes for elephants:

“Temple elephants, suffering from various age-related ailments, will be shifted to the geriatric care centre and given special care and treatment under trained mahouts and veterinarians.”

Nice. You can read more here:

A NICE SURPRISE FOR MARCH 2015

I know that many of us who hang out at this blog enjoyed last year's film, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

It was stuffed with a great roster of aging actors - Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Ronald Pickup, Penelope Wilton along with the young, eternally optimistic, hotel manager played by Dev Patel.

Now there is a new edition, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel with the regulars from last time plus David Straithairn and Richard Gere. Here's a trailer:

The film opens in the United States on 6 March 2015. I'll remind you of it in three months.


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 include the name of the blog and its URL.


Maybe It's Not Worth the Effort at My Age

[CONTEST NOTE: The contest posted yesterday to win a copy of the book, How To Be Old, is still open. You may add your name for the drawing in the comments ON THAT PAGE ONLY until midnight tonight Pacific Standard Time, 12 December 2014. The winner will be announced here on Monday 15 December.


George Francis, an 82-year-old TGB reader who lives in Wyoming, emailed this week with a interesting question:

”I sometimes put off, or totally ignore, doing things,” he wrote, “because I don't think I'm going to be around long enough for the effort to be worth the bother.”

He mentioned delaying purchase of a new pickup truck and I thought of the three or four years that have passed without my buying a certain kind of comfy reading chair for my bedroom or the living room - I'm not sure which. I periodically look online for inspiration but I haven't done anything serious about it.

I don't have an explanation for this lapse although I do know it's not that I think I might die soon. But I certainly didn't postpone such purchases when I was younger.

Magazine subscriptions, however, are exactly to George's point. Several of them come due this time of year and a week or so ago, as I worked my way through renewals, I checked off the one year box on each form.

I could save a few dollars if I subscribed for two or three years as I did when I was younger but I've stopped doing that for what I will evermore think of as the George Francis reason: I might not live long enough to use up that many years of a subscription and I can do something else with the money while I'm still alive.

I suspect there will be more than magazines and a chair on my "oh-don't-bother" list in the future.

In his note, George wondered if any other TGB readers have done anything similar? Have you decided you're probably too close to the end to be bothered?


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Elaine Frankonis: The Gravity of Gardens