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Does Hollywood Ageism Have Anything To Do with You and Me?

In recent weeks there has been a minor flurry of media information – tidbits, mostly – about age and work in relation to female movie stars. I had been sitting on a quotation from actor Maggie Gyllenhaal, wondering what I might do with it until TGB reader Jim Hood mentioned it in an email:

“I’m 37,” Gyllenhaal said in an interview with The Wrap, “and I was told recently I was too old to play the lover of a man who was 55. It was astonishing to me. It made me feel bad, and then it made feel angry, and then it made me laugh.”

A couple of weeks later, the same website asked 69-year-old actor, Helen Mirren, about Gyllenhaal's experience:

No, you're not imagining it. Mirren did say, “fucking” outrageous. And so it is.

At the same time, however, I am a bit queasy about well-off movie stars complaining about the kind of roles they get. Especially Mirren who continues to make three or four films a year, more than most actors get at any age.

Is it wrong that 50- and 60-something male movie stars are most frequently paired romantically with ingenues? About the only time we see old male actors in movies with age-appropriate love interests are when one of the two is dying. Of recent vintage, Amour comes to mind along with Still Mine.

Okay, maybe The Second Best Marigold Hotel but what a disappointment that movie was with Richard Gere shoehorned in for no apparent reason than his good looks.

Maybe I should mention the most famous reverse age movie, Harold and Maude. But I've always thought there was something mildly creepy about it – the movie, not their age difference - and anyway, one movie in 45 years with an old woman and young man does not balance hundreds of the opposite.

This isn't a new problem for older women in Hollywood. They have been complaining forever about lack of roles in general, let alone not being cast as a romantic interest when they have passed an imaginary use-by date.

In 1972, I produced a television interview with Bette Davis (of “old age ain't for sissies” fame) in which she lamented that back then, no one was writing movies for women actors of a certain age. It hasn't changed much since then, certainly not in the realm of romance.

So is this important? Does it matter that female movie actors - especially stars who make zillions of dollars compared to most of the rest of us - don't get to kiss the leading man after age 35 or 40?

I'm only half convinced that it does – in the sense that celebrities are role models for the rest of us, especially young people who emulate their hair styles, fashion, even behavior. (Cosmetics, automobile and fashion companies don't pay movie stars to shill for their products for no reason.)

If we, the public, repeatedly see movies and TV shows in which old men only pursue 20-something women, I'm pretty sure that has at least as much effect on beliefs about who is attractive and worthy of attention as the commercials starring those same actors enhance the bottom line of the products.

And that in turn may have a great deal to do with your and my lives. If we hardly ever see, in our entertainment, older women as worthy – whether as sex objects or responsible adults – might not we, for example, be refused jobs after age 50 or 60 like those female actors are?

And if I buy this idea, I think it affects men too because for at least the past decade, more than half the movies released in the United States are about bionic, humanoid, Borg-like heroes more suited to video games than real life and against which no human male – of any age - can compete.

Based on all that, Maggie Gyllenhaal's lost movie role with a 55-year-old man might not be as funny as she thinks.

Or maybe it is. I'm not sure. What I'm trying to work out is whether the fact that Maggie Gyllenhaal, Helen Mirren and Bette Davis don't get to make love to an actor their own age on screen has anything to do with the fact that I couldn't get anyone to hire me after age 62.


ELDER MUSIC: They Wrote the Songs

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.


Today I'm devoting a whole column to a topic I occasionally rabbit on about, and that is the original writer of songs made famous by others.

I'm sure that you'll know all of the selections today but perhaps you won't be quite as familiar with the original versions by the people who created them in the first place.

In my not too humble opinion, the versions by these folks are superior to the famous covers. You may disagree with that - after all, the first version of a song is usually the one that gets implanted in the brain. That happens to me all the time.

However, I think it's always instructive to hear how the writer intended the song to sound.

Let's get started with a sadly neglected singer and songwriter, TOM JANS, and the song that really inspired me to write the column.

Tom Jans

Tom made a bit of a name for himself in the seventies in singer/songwriter circles as a performer and writer of fine songs. Not only as a solo artist, but he teamed up for a while with Mimi Fariña, Joan Baez's sister.

Alas, he had a serious motorcycle accident and died not too long afterwards, almost certainly due to serious injuries sustained to his kidneys.

His most famous song would have to be Loving Arms, covered really well by Dobie Gray and also recorded by Elvis and a whole bunch of others. Here is Tom with his song.

♫ Tom Jans - Loving Arms

What annoys me is those people who claim to be knowledgeable about music and then claim that, because he's a songwriter himself, Harry Nilsson wrote Everybody's Talkin'. No he didn't.

EmoticonAngry1

Sorry, I've calmed down now that I've got that off my chest. It, of course, came from FRED NEIL who did a far superior version of the song some years earlier.

Fred Neil

♫ Fred Neil - Everybody's Talkin

HANK BALLARD, along with his band mate Cal Green, were inspired by a gospel song by The Sensational Nightingales. They put new words to the tune and came up with a song that rather inspired a new dance craze. They called it The Twist.

Hank Ballard

Hank and his band The Midnighters recorded the song and it was moderately successful. It came to the ears of Dick Clark who wanted to feature them on American Bandstand but the group was unavailable at the time.

Dick loved the song and got his friend Earnest Evans to record it. Earnest was a great admirer of Fats Domino and changed his name to Chubby Checker as an homage. As you know, this new version went through the roof.

Today, though, I'm playing Hank and The Midnighters' original. I think Chubby studied this one very closely.

♫ Hank Ballard - The Twist

JOHN STEWART was a fine singer and songwriter who first came to prominence writing songs for, and then eventually joining, the Kingston Trio.

John Stewart

Later, as a solo performer, when he wasn't on the road, he'd spend time writing songs. Well, that was his job after all.

One day he wrote Daydream Believer and he thought the day a total failure as that's all he produced and he didn't think much of it. His good friend Chip Douglas heard the song and thought it would be good for The Monkees. Chip was a producer on their TV program.

The Monkees really loved the song and wanted to record it but the record company demanded that they change the word "funky" to "happy.” John replied that meant that the song made no sense at all and he wouldn't let them.

Well, came the reply, they won't be able record it. John decided that "happy" was really growing on him. He said that the song set him up for the rest of his life. Here it is.

♫ John Stewart - Daydream Believer

Pretty much everyone featured today are known to some degree but we come to someone who isn't, at least not by me. He was certainly a writer of famous songs, but I imagine few people who listen to music know his name. He is MARK JAMES (or Francis Zambon to his mum and dad).

Mark James

The person who covered his song, in complete contrast, was the most famous person on the planet, Elvis. As you'll hear, Elvis not only listened to the song but the arrangement as well and copied it pretty much exactly. Suspicious Minds.

♫ Mark James - Suspicious Minds

BRENDA HOLLOWAY had the help of her sister Patrice, Frank Wilson and Berry Gordy in writing her song.

Brenda Holloway

Brenda was going to be the next big thing at Motown after a couple of well-charting singles. However, The Supremes, who had done nothing much at all before, suddenly had a worldwide number one hit and Berry concentrated on them from then on.

Back to Brenda and the song she co-wrote, You've Made Me so Very Happy, a big hit for Blood Sweat and Tears a couple of years later.

♫ Brenda Holloway - You've Made Me So Very Happy

Okay, I'll admit that Ray Charles did a wonderful cover of I Can't Stop Loving You, even better than the one by DON GIBSON whose version is pretty good.

Don Gibson

Don was a writer and singer of the saddest, lonesome-est songs ever recorded. Here's his take on his own song.

♫ Don Gibson - I Can't Stop Loving You

DAN PENN was another who had someone cover one of his songs better than he did it.

Dan Penn

Not just better than his but better than anyone else who has tackled the song and there have been quite a few of them. I'm talking about James Carr who did the terrific version of one of the great soul songs, The Dark End of the Street.

However, here is Dan.

♫ Dan Penn - The Dark End of the Street

BOBBY CHARLES wrote a number of songs you'd recognise immediately.

Bobby Charles

He was a New Orleans native and wrote songs for various musicians from that city but most notably for his friend, Fats Domino. This is one of Fats' biggest hits but it's Bobby's take we're interested in today: Walking to New Orleans.

He has a little help from the great man himself on this version.

♫ Bobby Charles - Walking to New Orleans

JIMMY WEBB has written songs for a whole bunch of people but he's probably most associated with Glenn Campbell.

Jimmy Webb

I could have chosen a dozen (or more) from Glenn's repertoire, however, I have a previous column devoted to Jimmy so I've decided on one I didn't include in that one. Well, not Jimmy's version anyway.

Here is Wichita Lineman.

♫ Jimmy Webb - Wichita Lineman


INTERESTING STUFF – 27 June 2015


ELDERS BENEFIT FROM SUPREME COURT DECISION TOO

It was an important win for the American people on Thursday when, in a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare subsidies. A loss could have meant the destruction of the entire law.

And it's not just people under age 65 who benefit, you know. There are Medicare provisions in the law too. Here is what Max Richtman, the president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM), emailed right after the Thursday Court decision was announced:

”Seniors in Medicare...will save, on average, about $5,000 over the next 10 years due to lower drug costs, preventive services with no out-of-pocket cost and reductions in the growth of health spending.

“Since passage of Obamacare, more than 8.2 million people with Medicare saved over $11.5 billion on prescription drugs. These are real people who will face real threats to their health security if the quest to dismantle Obamacare is ever successful.

“No doubt the enemies of health care reform will continue their zealous mission to roll back Obamacare’s successes but today we have reason to celebrate. Tomorrow we’ll resume our fight to ensure seniors continue to benefit from the enormous savings Obamacare provides them and their families.”

JON STEWART'S DONALD TRUMP GIFT

Last week, we mentioned that although Donald Trump said he is running for the Republican nomination for president, it was not official because he had not yet filed the required documents with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

Well, he did that this week and there is no happier person in the land than The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart. Trump's candidacy is any comedian's wet dream – the joke fodder is endless. Take a look, from last Tuesday's show:

AND THIS: beginning today at 12N EDT and running until 6 August when the last new Daily Show is broadcast, Comedy Central is streaming a 42-day, online marathon of every episode of the program since Jon Stewart took the reins in 1999.

They are calling it Your Month of Zen and you can follow it here.


THE SILENCE OF OWL FLIGHT

What makes owls deadly to rodents and other small animals is how quietly they can fly. Now, scientists are studying owl flight to see how they can apply it to help reduce the noise wind turbines produce:

”...by using a 3D-printed material meant to mimic the surface of owl wings, he and his colleagues were able to lower the noise level of a wind turbine blade by about 10 decibels,” reports Grist.

Nice to know but I'm pretty sure Jan Adams of Can It Happen Here? emailed the story because of this amazing video. Enjoy.


GOOD NEWS ABOUT CORONARY HEART DISEASE

According to a story in The New York Times, the death rate from coronary heart disease has dropped 38 percent in just ten years. A big reason is increased speed of treatment:

”With no new medical discoveries, no new technologies, no payment incentives — and little public notice — hospitals in recent years have slashed the time it takes to clear a blockage in a patient’s arteries and get blood flowing again to the heart..."

Further,

”Disparities that used to exist, with African-Americans, Hispanics and older people facing the slowest treatment times, have disappeared, Dr. Harlan Krumholz, a cardiologist at Yale, and his colleagues said in a paper in Archives of Internal Medicine."

And,

The improvements in treatment have spilled over into the care of stroke victims. Neurologists watched with envy as cardiologists slashed their times...The payoff from the changes has been breathtaking, experts say.

“'Heart disease mortality is dropping like a stone. This is a reason why,' said Dr. Eric Peterson, a cardiology researcher at Duke. 'And stroke has fallen to fifth as a major killer. This is a reason why.'”

It's good news and this is equally good reporting of it at The New York Times.


ROCK STAR BERNIE SANDERS

The crowds at Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders's campaign speeches grow larger with each appearance. So unexpected was the attendance at last Tuesday's speech in Denver (estimated at 5,000) that many had to be seated in an outdoor sports arena nearby where they could hear but not see him.

This is what just the indoor crowd looked like there:

SandersDenverAudience

In an appearance on last week's Real Time with Bill Maher TV show, Sanders received a standing ovation from the audience almost worthy of a rock star. Wow! Take a look.

Whatever the outcome for Senator Sanders campaign, the growing support for his progressive agenda can only be good for the United States.


LITTLE PIGGY SUE

Yes, I know. It's emotionally manipulative and it's a commercial for Vodaphone in New Zealand. And it worked on me.


HUGE LIST OF SENIOR DISCOUNTS FOR YOU

TGB Reader Steve Kemp sent a link to the largest list I've ever seen of senior discounts. There is not a single restaurant I go to or ever would, but that might not be true for you. And there are a lot of other stores and services included.

It's posted on the Facebook page of someone named Jim Ryan. What a whole lot of work he put into this.


JOHN OLIVER ON ONLINE HARRASSMENT

I'm beginning to feel foolish each week carrying on about how impressive John Oliver and his crew are at the essays they produce for HBO's Last Week Tonight. But they haven't failed me yet: useful, excellent, important and funny.


WATCHING CAT VIDEOS IS GOOD FOR YOU

Do you ever lose yourself down a rabbit hole of cat videos (if that's not mixing metaphors) only to find when you climb out that you've lost an hour, even more, of your life to them?

I have and not infrequently, I'm appalled at how I've wasted an evening.

Now, a woman who is an assistant professor of media at Indiana University undertook an online “exploratory survey” of 7,000 (self-selected) respondents about who watches cat videos and why.

Publishing a story about her results in The Conversation, Jessica Gall Myrick reports that her findings

”...suggest that certain people are, in fact, more likely than others to view copious amounts of internet cat videos. It also showed that cat videos can positively influence the emotions of viewers.

“According to my study, if you currently own or have previously owned a cat – or if you’ve volunteered to assist pets in the past year – you’re more likely to watch cat videos...

“People in my study reported experiencing more positive emotions and having higher energy levels after watching cat videos than before. They also reported lower levels of negative emotions after viewing online cat-related content.

“In short, most of us get a little psychological 'pick-me-up' when we watch Lil Bub climb the stairs or view a hilarious Grumpy Cat meme.”

You can read more of Ms. Myrick's survey results here. Meanwhile, I'm interpreting her study to mean I can post as many cat videos as I want. Such as this one:

You've heard of Snakes on a Plane? Here's a cat on a plane. Thank reader Cathy Johnson for this.


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.


House Calls, Telemedicine and Medicare

Medicare is in the third year of testing its Independent at Home demonstration project to see if it can improve care and cut costs for some of its more frail patients with house calls. The idea is to test

”...how well a house call approach really works and how to pay for it. About 8,400 frail seniors with multiple chronic conditions — Medicare's most expensive type of patient — are receiving customized home-based primary care from 17 programs around the country,” according to a story at Yahoo! News.

The study was created by The Affordable Care Act and legislation is pending in Congress to extend the project another two years. Meanwhile, Medicare has released an analysis of the project's first year. Results so far?

”...it saved an average of $3,070 per participating beneficiary.”

Meanwhile, in Cincinnati,

”Donna Miles, 68, awoke on a wintry February morning and the pain had not subsided, she decided to see a doctor,” reports Kaiser Health News.

“So she turned on her computer and logged on to www.livehealth.com, a service offered by her Medicare Advantage plan, Anthem BlueCross BlueShield of Ohio. She spoke to a physician, who used her computer’s camera to peer into her mouth and who then sent a prescription to her pharmacy.

“'This was so easy,' Miles said.

These two developments, small as the trials are so far, are crucial to the future of elder healthcare and here's why. The 65-plus population the United States has grown dramatically since President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare into law 50 years ago.

In 1965, there were approximately 18 million people age 65 and older in the United States. Today, there are about 41 million and in 2050, there will be more than 88 million.

This is a problem. There are few enough doctors to go around now and it is becoming well known that remaining in our homes, where nearly 90 percent of elders want to be as they age, is less expensive than living in care residences but for some, getting out and around becomes problematic.

Telemedicine and house calls will make remaining home more feasible and can save time (for physicians and patients) and save money too. Not to mention that it makes getting care for people with mobility problems a whole lot easier.

And, house calls these days are a far cry from what I remember as a kid 65 years ago. According to the Yahoo! News report:

”Forget the little black bag of yore. Today's house calls can result in an EKG in the living room, and on-the-spot tests for infections. Providers can use portable X-rays, check medicine bottles to tell if patients are taking their pills, spot tripping hazards, and peek in the kitchen to see if healthy food is on hand.

"'It helps you avoid the emergency situations,' said Naomi Rasmussen, whose 83-year-old father in Portland, Oregon, is part of Medicare's Independence at Home study.”

Videoconference technology has been available for 20 years and I've read dozens of reports over the years of how it will revolutionize healthcare but it has been incredibly slow to get going. Hardly anyone can use it yet.

”...fewer than 1 percent of Medicare beneficiaries use it,” reports Kaiser. “Anthem and a University of Pittsburgh Medical Center health plan in western Pennsylvania are the only two Medicare Advantage insurers offering the virtual visits, and the traditional Medicare program has tightly limited telemedicine payments to certain rural areas.

“And even there, the beneficiary must already be at a clinic, a rule that often defeats the goal of making care more convenient.”

Nevertheless, the innovation is moving forward, if slowly. Many more younger, non-Medicare, patients have access to telemedicine, the number of insurance providers that offer the service is increasing and Medicare is tiptoeing toward change too:

”Medicare Advantage plans have the option to offer telemedicine without the tight restrictions in the traditional Medicare program because they are paid a fixed amount by the federal government to care for seniors. As a result, Medicare is not directly paying for the telemedicine services; instead, the services are paid for through plan revenue.

“Republicans and Democrats in Congress are also considering broadening the use of telemedicine; some of them tried unsuccessfully to add such provisions to the recent law that revamped Medicare doctor payment rules and to the House bill that seeks to streamline drug approvals,” reports Yahoo! News.

To me, telemedicine and house calls are such a no brainer – for patients of all ages - that it is frustrating to see how slowly they are developing. It's not like there is any doubt; they ARE going to happen.


Decisions About Being Old and Single

Letters. We get letters. This one from a reader (let's call her A) who has been thinking about how she will live – or might like to live – if she winds up single in her late years after the “very long relationship” she is still enjoying now.

”Would I stay in the big house?” she writes. “Would I downsize? Would I move nearer my children? Would I stay in my city? I waver daily and at times each option seems to be the obvious one.

“My sister is certain she will make no change. My sister-in-law is certain she will downsize...

“I know decisions will be made for us in the event of our own decline in health but [my] question supposes we are still hale and hearty. “

The only thing I know about this question is that no one can answer it for anyone else. And that, obviously, is not much help.

Plus, although “hale and hearty” is a requisite in A's consideration of staying put or changing housing, I think any of us would be negligent not to give at least a nod to the fact that health becomes an iffier proposition in late life than when we were younger.

Among the unknowables of old age, the certainty I keep in mind is that healthy as I am right now at age 74, at any moment of any day, something can happen that will require changes to my living arrangement if not entirely disable me.

Not that I have take steps to incorporate that possibility into my decision making. Yet. It's on my agenda.

But there is nothing wrong, too, with pondering possible changes while assuming good health. Of course, one's financial position will affect what choices are available.

If you have little idea of how you want to live when single and old, there are a lot of basic questions: Do you like your community? Do you have friends there you are comfortable with? Do you like the climate or are you looking for a change? Are you happy in the house you have or is it too big for you now?

If change is on the agenda, the questions multiply. Will a single-family house or apartment in a new place work? Do you like urban or suburban or rural? How will you choose a new location? What are your criteria?

In addition, there are many kinds of housing options only – or mostly – for old people. Age restricted communities; NORCs, that is Naturally Occuring Retirement Communities; retirement communities defined by interests, activities and income; Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) that can take you from independent living to assisted living and finally, nursing care.

Co-housing is another option and don't forget the Golden Girls option – a group of three or four or five friends sharing a big house together.

Not to mention that if after all the homework you decide to stay where you are, there are many kinds of remodels, renovations and adjustments that can be done, especially in the area of universal design, to make a home comfortable and convenient for growing old.

This is a bare overview of possibilities. One reason is that as the baby boomers inch further and further into old age, the 65-plus generation is becoming larger in proportion to the entire population than it has ever been and there is a lot of experimenting going on.

This is a good thing and also confusing. So to get to A's specific question:

”What do your readers plan to do? Do any of them, like me, change their minds regularly?”

Although A doesn't mention it, obviously it would be useful if those of you who have already weathered this life passage told us something of how you made decisions and how they have held up over time.

I know there is a deep and rich body of knowledge on this subject among TGB readers.


A Conversation App Just For Elders?

Perhaps you have noticed that young people don't talk on the telephone anymore. So widely true is this that it probably wouldn't make much difference - except to thee and me - if manufacturers just ditched the voice function on those mini computers we still call phones.

Not long ago, the thank you for a box of gifts I'd mailed to a young friend's toddler arrived via text message: “He loves it,” typed 30-something Mom. I'm still don't know which “it” - there were several - he loves.

It's a new world. Even friends in their forties and fifties prefer texting or just checking in with one another's Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds. I know a lot of you live on such services which is why I distribute TGB and The Elder Storytelling Place posts to them. But for me, it's not the same thing as a conversation.

Remember all those years in the past when the phone rang (we didn't know back then who was calling until we answered) and most of the time we settled down for a chat, long or short, with a friend?

In those days, I spoke with my closest friends and relatives several times a week. With no email then, we used the telephone to plan social engagements but even when the point was only to set a time and place to meet for brunch or dinner or a movie, we took a few minutes to catch up on our lives.

Nowadays, we use email (or texts, I suppose, for some) to make appointments for phone calls – those few of us who still like to hear the voices of people we care about. Are we all really so busy – especially now that many of us are retired – that it has become rude to interrupt anyone by calling without a previous agreement as to time?

Of the barely half dozen friends I still regularly talk with on the phone, there is only one I call or who calls me without prior arrangement via email.

TGB reader Tom Delmore sent me a link to an essay at the Wall Street Journal suggesting something the writer, David Gelernter, calls Talknet:

”It will run like any app, on a tablet or a laptop right beside you. When you turn on Talknet, you hear a jumble of voices in your favorite language.

“You see five upright rectangles in a row on-screen, in five bright colors. These are 'featured conversations,' like a diner’s daily specials, but they change regularly: You see a whole new set every five minutes, and they are selected with your tastes in mind.

“Each rectangle is labeled with a topic. Tap or click one—Rubio v. Bush, schnauzers, wisteria in zone 6, grandchildren’s weddings, school board election in Woodbridge, Conn. You hear the conversation you’ve chosen: 10 people at most, anywhere in the world, chatting.”

Gelernter, a Yale computer scientist, tells us that unlike everyone else online, elders want to talk so his idea for Talknet is “inevitable.” He knows this, he says, because

”I said the same about the rise of the Web (which I called the 'mirror world') in 1991 and Twitter-type streams (which I called 'lifestreams') in 1996, so this is no wild prediction, I hope.

“Talknet has large implications. But its first task is to help the elderly. They need it, and we owe them.”

Whew. All that grandiosity is a bit much and it's that paternalistic tone in his voice that ticked me off at the start of his story:

”No group needs social network software more than the elderly,” he starts out. “We have built a frenzied society full of shriek TV, shriek music, shriek movies, shriek ads. Texting and phone-fondling go on ceaselessly. None of this welcomes the elderly, who were often lonely even before we turned up the volume on American society.

“So it’s too bad that today’s social networks are virtually useless to them. The elderly don’t want to type; they want to talk. And if they can’t make sense of new software in 10 seconds, they move on.

“Audio is our first requirement. Losing dexterity is part of aging, and arthritis is not exactly rare.”

There is both truth and not in that lead-in but either way, his tone is irritating.

On the other hand, he is right about elders generally being more comfortable with speech than other modern means of communication and god knows, for a decade I've been promoting the internet as a great invention for elders to reach out, make new friends and keep in touch.

Maybe Talknet would be an excellent extension of what we have been doing these past two decades.

Galernter describes his idea of Talknet in great detail that includes scheduling regularly chats during TV shows for example, creating new topics, taking conversations private and more all done with speech.

The problem for me, however, is that I want to talk with friends, not strangers and it's my younger friends who don't want to. Plus, it sounds, in his description, that there would be so many conversations to choose from it would come down to no choice at all.

But I could be wrong. You can read Gelernter's whole essay here. If for some reason it won't display because you don't have a subscription to the Wall Street Journal,” here is the trick to getting it:

Copy this headline, with the quotation marks, into a Google search: “A Social Network for Talkers”

On the Google return page, click on the link to the newspaper (usually the one at the top) and it should open

(If you're wondering, the trick is not a secret. It's been available since the newspaper went behind a paid firewall and without doubt, the Wall Street Journal is aware of it. So far, they have chosen not to block it.)

After you've read the full idea for Talknet, come back here and let us know what you think.


ELDER MUSIC: Unchained Melody

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.


The prison film Unchained made in 1955, had only two things going for it. One was the appearance of Dexter Gordon as a jazz saxophone player (he was serving time for drug offences in Chino where the film was shot) and the other was for the theme song written by Alex North and Hy Zaret, called Unchained Melody.

The song really had little to do with the film but it scored an Oscar nomination and has become one of the most recorded songs ever, and that's what we're featuring today.

Two performers who deserved inclusion but missed out are Marty Robbins and Roy Hamilton. They only missed the cut because they were too similar to some already present. In an ideal world they'd be included as they are easily the third and fourth best versions of the song.

I'm going to top and tail the column with the two best and everyone else will be between those.

Leading the charge today is AL HIBBLER.

Al Hibbler

Al's version is the first that I can recall from my childhood. He released it back in 1955, just when music was seriously being imprinted on my brain. It still holds up as number two (it was number one for about ten years).

♫ Al Hibbler - Unchained Melody

BRENDA HOLLOWAY was a real contender on Motown records.

Brenda Holloway

Unfortunately, just when she was about to break out as a real star, someone like the Supremes had a mega-hit that put her somewhat in the shade. It's a real shame because she deserves to be much better known.

Her version is a bit string heavy for my taste but she's a good enough singer to overcome that.

♫ Brenda Holloway - Unchained Melody

The odd man out today is CHET ATKINS.

Chet Atkins

That's because his is an instrumental version of the song. Naturally it's played on guitar, Chet's natural environment (as it were). He was one of the original guitar heroes - he backed many country and rock & roll performers from the fifties.

Of course, that's not all he did. For one thing, he recorded our song.

♫ Chet Atkins - Unchained Melody

About this time, DooWop performers liked to take classic songs and give them the full DooWop treatment. The Marcels were past masters at this sort of thing but it's not their turn today. Instead, I present VITO AND THE SALUTATIONS.

Vito & the Salutations

They consisted of Frankie Fox and Sheldon Buchansky with other members who came and went over the years, including Vito Balsomo, after whom the group was named.

The group had a minor hit with Gloria and a marginally less minor hit with our song today.

♫ Vito & The Salutations - Unchained Melody

The most unlikely presence is that of JONI MITCHELL.

Joni Mitchell

Hers isn't a conventional reading of the song. That's not at all surprising. It's two songs stuck together really. They are Chinese Café and Unchained Melody.

Joni Mitchell - Chinese Cafe~Unchained Melody

THE FLEETWOODS perform an interesting a capella version.

Fleetwoods

They started out in high school as a female duo of Gretchen Christopher and Barbara Ellis. They added fellow student Gary Troxel as a backup singer.

Once they became successful the record company wouldn’t go with the bloke in the background in spite of all of them insisting that's the way it should be. Threats ensued and, well, you know how that came out.

Here, however, are The Fleetwoods as they wanted to be.

♫ The Fleetwoods - Unchained Melody

If you're wondering what the original version in the film sounded like, wonder no further. Here it is, sung by TODD DUNCAN.

Todd Duncan

Todd's not like the other kiddies included today. He was a trained opera singer who had music degrees from several universities. He was also an actor of some renown, and was chosen to play Porgy in the original stage production of Porgy and Bess.

He had a long successful career in opera and as a concert performer and was a music teacher as well. He appeared in the film mentioned above and sang the song as part of the plot (rather than just over the credits).

♫ Todd Duncan - Unchained Melody

From the sublime to the ridiculous, here's PETER SELLERS.

Peter Sellers

Peter liked to record his own take on popular songs of the time and this one is no exception. Those familiar with the Goon Show will know what to expect.

♫ Peter Sellers - Unchained Melody

On his continuing quest to sing every song in the world and perform with every singer as well, here's WILLIE NELSON (although that latter isn't in evidence today).

Willie Nelson

You could pretty much guarantee that he would be here. He gives the song the full Willie treatment (and that's not a bad thing). It's from his period when he was releasing albums of old classic songs.

♫ Willie Nelson - Unchained Melody

Okay, here we are at the end. It doesn't get any better than THE RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS.

Righteous Brothers

Actually, this is only a Righteous Brother: Bobby Hatfield sings the song and Bill Medley is nowhere to be found. It doesn't matter, it's one of their best known songs, and no one does it better.

♫ Righteous Brothers - Unchained Melody


INTERESTING STUFF – 20 June 2015

[PERSONAL NOTE: Today's Interesting Stuff is so different from the usual I just want to let you know that someone else has not hijacked the page.

It is much longer that most weeks not because there are more items – there are not - but because I had more to say about most of them. The mood is different too, darker. I couldn't help it. There is more about that below, at the bottom.
]



JEB BUSH SUPPORTS SSA PRIVATIZATION

It's impossible to keep up with all the Republicans who think they are qualified to be president so I rely on others to tell me what they are saying.

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM) alerted me this from Jeb Bush:

BushSSPrivatizationNCPSSM370

Bush said that last Tuesday in New Hampshire. Here is the entire pertinent quote from his speech:

”Not that Social Security is an entitlement. I learned that in town hall meetings. It's a supplemental retirement system that's not actuarially sound. How about that?

”And certainly Medicare and Medicaid are entitlements and they're growing at a far faster rate than anything else in government. So it will overwhelm us. The contingent liabilities are clear.

“We can ignore it as we've done now—my brother tried, got totally wiped out. Republicans and Democrats wanted nothing to do with it. The next president is going to have to try again.”

Jeb Bush's brother tried to privatize Social Security 10 years ago. The idea is just as bad now. There is video of Jeb's speech at American Bridge along with more information. Oh, and about half what he says in this quote is untrue.


GARDENING WITH ELDER PRODUCTS

When you first hear that this gardening tip involves adult diapers, you think it's a joke and probably an ageist one at that. Well, it's not and it's a fantastic idea.


SAFETY FEATURES TOP CONSUMER CAR CHOICES

My car is 12 years old. It has 38,500 miles on it and I intend to drive it until, for whatever reason comes up, I no longer need a car. It has zero bells and whistles and serves me fine but I'm still interested in the amazing technology developments for automobiles in recent years.

Some, I think, are deeply stupid. Like using a phone under any circumstance at all while driving – even hands-free. I worry about that front-seat screen every car comes with now too.

And that is why I was heartened to read,

”Research shows that consumers are increasingly disinterested in needing to interact with their vehicle during the driving experience. Health and wellness systems, hand gesture controlled cockpit features, biometric driver sensors, and haptic touch screens are all out.”

Hurray for drivers. That information is from the latest J.D. Power survey of consumer auto preferences which reports that

”Among the technologies consumers express most interest in having in their next vehicle are blind spot detection and prevention systems, night vision, and enhanced collision mitigation systems.”

Here's a video overview of other findings from the survey.

You can read more here.


WHEN A BOOKSTORE CLOSES

I don't know if elders in general are readers or if this blog, for some unknown reason, attracts people who like to read – but there are a lot of us here.

I'm guessing that as much as we have embraced electronic readers and the ease of ordering books online, browsing in a bookstore is still a great pleasure but it's getting hard, these days to find one, especially independents.

A week or two ago, Adam Gopnick wrote in The New Yorker about the sad closing of a 70-year-old bookshop in Paris, from where he has been reporting for the magazine over many years:

”As Adam Smith understood so profoundly, economic choices reflect value choices. Markets don’t make men free; free men (and women) have to have the confidence to accept the instability that markets make. Otherwise, panic sets in.

“If we try to protect small merchants, or mourn their disappearance, the last thing we are being is nostalgic. Books are not just other luxury items to be shopped for. They are the levers of our consciousness. Every time a bookstore closes, an argument ends. That’s not good.”

The entire essay is here (and I'm fairly sure even non-subscribers can read it.)


DONALD TRUMP SAYS HE'S RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT

Donald Trump fudged his announcement as a Republican candidate for president last week when it was revealed that he hired actors at $50 a pop to cheer for him as he spoke.

Aside from Fox News, the media treated his entry into the crowded field as a joke. Mocking the man's penchant for putting his name in gold letters on almost any building he enters, this was the next day's cover of the New York Post.

WhiteHouseTrump370

We aren't required to take his announcement as anything more than a stupid joke for now because, as Politico noted:

“So far he’s not 'in in.' Federal Elections Commission records show Trump has yet to file any paperwork making his candidacy official. He has 15 days to do so.”

At least one person did take Trump's entry seriously – for its comic value. Actually, any comedian who breathes would feel the same way. Here is Jon Stewart and The Daily Show on “American id running for president.”

You also should not miss Stephen Colbert's impression of Donald Trump. It is amazing.


FRUITS AND VEGETABLES KILL MORE AMERICANS THAN HAMBURGER

In recent years, it has become commonplace, announcements that millions of pounds of hamburger are tainted and withdrawn from sale. It happens a lot with chicken too, that it makes people sick, and the U.S. is currently experiencing a shortage of eggs because of contamination.

Occasionally there is an outbreak of bacteria in packaged spinach or lettuce but who knew this? I didn't. Vox reports,

”According to an estimate from the CDC, produce causes nearly half of all food-borne illnesses, while dairy and eggs cause 20 percent, meat and poultry are the culprits in only 22 percent of cases, and fish and shellfish just 6 percent.”

You can read much more at Vox where the story also has an excellent list of procedures to follow in your kitchen so you can eat your fresh veggies and fruit and not get sick.


TORTURE IS JOHN OLIVER'S TOPIC THIS WEEK

The main story on Last Week Tonight last Sunday made me cry the first time I watched it.

I got teary because once again, this time on something so terrible, it is not the mass media anyone can see or read but Oliver - ostensibly a comedian on a cable channel hardly anyone can afford to watch - who consistently, week after week, exposes the hypocrisy, lies and deceit of the leaders our country allows to make decisions in the name of the people.


RUSSIAN RIVER FERRY

Thank TGB reader Darlene Costner as you gasp at the apparent fearlessness of these people crossing a river in a way you've never seen before.


HATEFUL, REPUGNANT RICH PEOPLE

Water is disappearing from the earth. Rivers and lakes are drying up and California, where a huge percentage of America's fruits and vegetables are grown, is (so far) the hardest hit by the drought in the U.S.

Now, on 1 July, water rationing goes into effect for the first time ever in one of the richest enclaves in California and America, Rancho Santa Fe. The entitled elite of the town don't like it.

”People 'should not be forced to live on property with brown lawns, golf on brown courses or apologize for wanting their gardens to be beautiful,' Yuhas fumed recently on social media. 'We pay significant property taxes based on where we live,' he added in an interview. 'And, no, we’re not all equal when it comes to water.'”

Really? Will they demand a greater share of the sunshine next? Here are a couple more:

”Barbre sits on the 37-member board of directors of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, a huge water wholesaler serving 17 million customers. He is fond of referring to his watering hose with Charlton Heston’s famous quote about guns: 'They’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands.'”
“'It angers me because people aren’t looking at the overall picture,' Butler said. 'What are we supposed to do, just have dirt around our house on four acres?'”

Oh, and one more thing:

”In April, after Gov. Jerry Brown (D) called for a 25 percent reduction in water use, consumption in Rancho Santa Fe went up by 9 percent.”

I fervently wish I were as smart and talented as John Oliver and his crew so I could more properly express my disgust. You can read more here about these loathsome people.


WHEW! IT'S A ROUGH WEEK AT INTERESTING STUFF

Almost everything in this week's post is ugly, awful and horrid, and I haven't even mentioned the terrible shooting in Charleston on Thursday. Some weeks are like that so I'm not apologizing.

But it IS tradition now that we end with something cute and cuddly and you'll be surprised at this one – an adorable, tiny octopus.


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.


The Value of Old Habits

Before we get going let me be clear: I am talking about habits, not addictions.

In recent years, Americans have come to use the word “addiction” when they mean habit. For the record and in shorthand, an addiction is a compulsive need for a substance that causes physiological symptoms when withdrawn.

If you are still smoking tobacco, that's an addiction. If, like me, you eat oatmeal with fruit almost every morning of the year, that is a habit.

Habits are ingrained behaviors that might be hard to change but cause no ill physical effects when stopped.

These days, habits have a bad reputation particularly in reference to elders. Old people are often accused of being “stuck in their ways” and “out of step” because they refuse to change the routines they have kept for many years.

In fact, I've been called out on one of the habits I refuse to break, importing my coffee from New York City.

Undoubtedly, there is perfectly good coffee where I live now but 30 years ago, it took me nearly two years of experimenting with roasts and blends to find what I liked. My taste has not changed and it saves a whole lot time and effort now to just have it shipped every month or six weeks than to redo the process of finding another blend I like.

Am I stubborn about that? Yes. But who does it hurt, and that coffee blend I like gives me pleasure every morning.

In fact, habits are important to people of all ages. They make our lives easier than they would be without them:

”Habits afford us a welcome time out from the countless decisions we would otherwise constantly have to make...

“Only if a good chunk of our day transpires without our thinking about it, and as if on its own, are those energies set free that enable us to properly deal with all the other chunks that fall outside the norm.”

That quotation is from a lovely little book, What We Gain as We Grow Old, as yet unpublished in English by German philosopher, Wilhelm Schmid, and which I will tell you about when it becomes available.

For now, the section on habit as it relates to old people was a lovely moment of serendipity for me because I have recently been making notes about just that subject.

Habits, says the author, weave their way into the meaning of our lives without us having to work at it and those habits create an ongoing sense of comfort. So,

”...as we get older,” he continues, “we find ourselves wanting to preserve our lives just as they are and despite the problems this may cause...

“Much less than the young do we trust in the power of new habits to recreate the sense of familiarity and home provided by our old habits.”

However, in our culture these days, habits of long standing are frequently assumed to be bad ones, particularly among the old, and a large part of the consensus about habits is that we should knock ourselves out to break them.

It hasn't always been that way. Many of the ancients considered habits a matter of character:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” [Aristotle]
“Our character is not so much the product of race and heredity as of those circumstances by which nature forms our habits, by which we are nurtured and live." [Marcus Tullius Cicero]
“Character is long-standing habit.” [Plutarch or Socrates, depending on who is doing the quoting]

In more modern times, Adlai Stevenson believed “Laws are never as effective as habits” and Frank Crane preceded him by some years with a similar thought:

“Habits are safer than rules; you don't have to watch them. And you don't have to keep them, either. They keep you.”

Our habits have informed who we are, smoothed the passage through our days and by the time we arrive at old age, Wilhelm Schmid tells us, up to three-quarters of our lives has been handed over to habit.

That is a good thing. The greater potential for unbidden change that accompanies old age – in our health, our capabilities, our income, our social lives, our goals, purpose and much more, says Schmid,

”...the more uprooted we feel when we have to leave a familiar environment, lose an old acquaintance, or when a relationship we have grown used to ends.

“And should change be inevitable, then we need to make sure, if at all possible, to preserve at least some of our routines.”

It is a good thing to nurture our habits.


Green Burial

Funerals, even cremations, are expensive. As reported at al.com, according to the National Funeral Director Association's (NFDA) 2012 Member Compensation Survey,

”The average national cost of a funeral with a vault (not including cemetery, monument or marker costs) is $8,343, while direct cremation is $2,245...”

Being a (mostly) responsible sort of person, I don't want to stick my loved ones with such an are-you-kidding-me bill when I die. Like many elders, I have been intent on prepaying my cremation and I recently looked into getting that done. Prices closely match what is quoted above.

But I have also discovered how much more (and more important stuff) there is to consider than cost in choosing burial arrangements and cremation isn't as environmentally friendly as we might have imagined.

RawStory recently reported,

”[Overall in the U.S., cremation] emits some 600 million pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. 'That’s the equivalent of more than 70,000 cars driving the road for a year,' according to UDP (Urban Death Project). 'In other words, the very last thing that most of us will do on this Earth is poison it.'”

And that's nothing compared to the biohazard that is conventional burial in a coffin in a hole in the ground. Most often, the blood of people buried in this traditional way is replaced with embalming fluid:

”...this fluid is a mixture typically consisting of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, and methanol, which is neurotoxic to animals,” reports Raw Story. “These and other chemicals in embalming fluid are creating toxic environments around cemeteries.”

Raw Story also quotes Mark Harris from his 2008 book, Grave Matters about the matter:

”The typical 10-acre swath of cemetery ground, for example, contains enough coffin wood to construct more than 40 homes, nine hundred-plus tons of casket steel, and another twenty thousand tons of vault concrete.

“To that add a volume of embalming fluid sufficient to fill a small backyard swimming pool and untold gallons of pesticide and weed killer to keep the graveyard preternaturally green.

“Like the contents of any landfill, the embalmed body’s toxic cache escapes its host and eventually leaches into the environment, tainting surrounding soil and groundwaters.”

That doesn't sound good. Whatever happened to “ashes to ashes?”

As it turns out, there is a better way: what is being called these days green burial. It is environmentally friendly, less expensive than most other kinds of burial and it is a choice that increasing numbers of people are making.

Legacy.com explains:

”According to Shari Wolf, founder of Natural Grace Funerals in Los Angeles, there’s one major thing that sets green funerals apart. 'The biggest difference..'is that we do not embalm the bodies,” she said.

“Instead, she and her team slow decomposition through refrigeration, then wrap the deceased in a shroud (or another simple, biodegradable container of the family’s choosing) before laying them to rest directly in the earth.”

Here is Shari Wolf further explaining further:

Since 2005, Green Burial Council has been setting standards for green burials and certifying funeral homes. You can find out more at their website where you can also search for green burial providers in your area of the U.S. and Canada.

The lawyers.com website tells us that green burials are legal in all 50 states but,

”...rules and regulations for dealing with human remains must be followed. Most state laws do not require embalming, although Alabama, Alaska and New Jersey require embalming a body that will be transported across state lines.”

They also caution readers to make arrangements for a green burial long before it is needed:

”If you want a green burial, be sure to say so in your power of attorney for healthcare. It is not enough to simply put this in your will or trust documents, since these may not be seen until days after death and burial.

“Make sure that your next of kin and your designated agent know of your wishes.

“Making thorough preparations ahead of time is important. An un-embalmed body can been cooled with gel packs or dry ice, but does not 'keep' long enough for detailed preparations to be made and carried out after a person’s death.”

As succinct as the lawyers.com webpage is, it is packed with good, clear information.

This isn't the only kind of green burial you can choose. The Urban Death Project has has made composting a new option for “safely and gently turn our deceased into soil-building material, creating a meaningful, equitable, and ecological urban alternative to existing options for the disposal of the dead.”

”Because death is momentous, miraculous, and mysterious
Because the cycles of nature help us grieve and heal
Because our bodies are full of life-giving potential”

There is much more information at the Urban Death Project website.

Many years ago, I decided on cremation. When I was forced to leave New York City nine years ago, I made it clear to those who would care when I die, that when I die my ashes should be quietly scattered at certain places in Manhattan. (Yes, yes, I know it's illegal. Too bad, and they agreed to do it.)

Now, however, as much I still like the idea of becoming a permanent part of the place on Earth I love more than any other, I have changed my mind. After doing all this research, I want my body to be returned to the Earth from whence it originally came – dust to dust – where it will help create new life.

Except, in terms of origin, Earth isn't quite it and there is another choice, athough it does involve cremation first. After that, Celestis, for a price, will

”...launch a symbolic portion of cremated remains into Earth orbit, onto the lunar surface or into deep space. Missions into space that return the cremated remains to Earth are also available.”

That deep space option is the ultimate return to home. Recall what astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson tells us – that we are all, literally, stardust:


The Language of Age

A couple of days ago a friend of many years, a smart and talented fellow, sent me this image.

Thinking Old

It gives me a good reason to talk once again about language, the everyday, knee-jerk, unthinking language of age that demeans old people.

When that image arrived, I replied to my friend thusly:

"I don't understand what is wrong with thinking old. I have nearly eight decades of experience. I'm old. I've learned a lot. I certainly hope I'm thinking old."

Let me explain further.

If old people were not universally excluded in all kinds of ways from participation in work, political life, clinical medical trials, among many, many other activities of life while also made invisible; if the word “old” were not, with the exception of antiques, always a negative; if old people were not mocked both for NOT acting their age and FOR acting their age, THEN that phrase and image would be acceptable.

Except, if elders were as respected as people in all other stages of life, there would be no reason for that image and text to exist – it would not have occurred to anyone.

That goes for the phrase “young at heart” too. As with one's mind, what is wrong with an old heart? By the time a person is old, their heart has gone way beyond the classic loved and lost a few times.

You and I have all been heart-broken, heavy-hearted, open-hearted, good- and kind-hearted, big-hearted, light-hearted, soft-hearted, sometimes cold-hearted and even lion-hearted.

With all that, why would anyone think a young heart is better than an old one? Why would society exalt young hearts at the expense of such learned and experienced ones?

Yet that is what happens every time such phrases are repeated.

As all advertisers know, repetition works. We have heard these phrases – young at heart, (don't) think old, and many others that malign elders – since we were children. They are so deeply embedded in our collective psyche as fact that they even infect presidential election politics.

If negative stereotypes were not automatically attached to people older than 60, even 50 in many cases, Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would not be painted with the “too old” brush as Senator Marco Rubio and others are using as a major campaign tactic.

I understand why people, even old ones, throw around “young at heart” phrases and email images admonishing people to not think old. After a lifetime of hearing them without refutation, they sound like compliments.

They are not and language matters lest it be twisted into Orwellian doublespeak. There is nothing wrong with old minds and hearts.


ELDER MUSIC: Musicals 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.


As I mentioned in my first column on this topic, I'm not a big fan of musicals; there are only a few I like. However, I know others like them (love them to bits in some cases), so I'll see what I can find that won't make me gag.

This won't be like most columns about musicals.

One musical I really like is “The Music Man.” I see that they've remade this with Matthew Broderick as Professor Harold Hill. Oh come on. What were they thinking?

It's also about half as long again as the original film. I started watching it and gave up after about quarter of an hour. If you've not seen “The Music Man,” go straight to the original with ROBERT PRESTON and Shirley Jones.

Robert Preston

I featured this musical first time around but I think it's worth another go (with a different song). Here is Robert with the most famous song from the musical, Seventy Six Trombones.

♫ Robert Preston - Seventy Six Trombones

Musicals come in all shapes and sizes. THE BEATLES created a wonderful one on the smell of an oily rag and a brilliant director in Richard Lester.

Beatles

For those who have been on Mars for the last 50 years, I'm talking about "A Hard Day's Night.” From that, the Fabs perform And I Love Her.

♫ The Beatles - And I Love Her

"The Firefly" is an operetta that first saw the light of day in 1912. It was transformed into a musical by removing most of the plot and adding a new song. That song is The Donkey Serenade.

ALLAN JONES was in the film of the musical (along with Jeanette MacDonald) and he had a hit with it. Film buffs will also remember Allan from the films "A Night at the Opera" and "A Day at the Races" with the Marx Brothers.

Allan Jones

♫ Allan Jones - The Donkey Serenade

I have never seen "The Sound of Music.” Initially, it was probably accidental that I missed it but now I plan to spend the rest of my life not seeing it, thus becoming the only person on the planet who hasn't clapped eyes on the thing.

You probably know me a bit by now and can anticipate that I won't feature something from the soundtrack. You're right.

Here's JOHN COLTRANE with My Favorite Things. The tune does go on for quite a while, something for which Coltrane was noted.

JohnbColtrane

♫ John Coltrane - My Favorite Things

"Rose-Marie" was another operetta written by Rudolph Friml who was also responsible for "The Firefly.” This one appeared on Broadway in 1924 and it was made into a film a number of times but most famously in 1936 with Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald.

I won't use their version of the song you all know from that film. Instead, from a little later, here is SLIM WHITMAN with Indian Love Call.

Slim Whitman

♫ Slim Whitman - Indian Love Call

Most of the music for "Kismet" was pinched from the works of ALEXANDER BORODIN.

Alexander Borodin

About half the score of the musical was taken from The Polovtsian Dances from his opera “Prince Igor.” The rest came from his first two symphonies, his two string quartets and other minor works.

Alex was not only a composer but also a professor of chemistry who made a number of important discoveries in the field of aldehydes. He was also a doctor and a surgeon and he established medical courses for women at his university (something unheard of in Russia before he did it).

Besides all that he wrote really good tunes.

It's only fair that the “Kismet” music should return to its rightful place. The song This is my Beloved was set to the tune of the third movement of Borodin's String Quartet No. 2 in D Major.

♫ Borodin - String Quartet No. 2 in D Major (3)

ELVIS made a bunch of musicals, most of which you can safely ignore.

Elvis Presley

However, the first three or four films he made weren't too bad and had the best songs that appeared in his films. Probably the pick of them was "Jailhouse Rock.”

The title song is so well known I won't bother with it. It was even in another musical we have today, down there at the bottom. Instead here is Don't Leave Me Now.

♫ Elvis Presley - Don't Leave Me Now

The Broadway musical "Gay Divorce" gave us the song Night and Day, written by Cole Porter. A film was made and it was called "The Gay Divorcee" which starred FRED ASTAIRE and Ginger Rogers.

Fred Astaire

This isn't from the actual film but was something Fred recorded a couple of decades later and to my mind is a superior version. Of course, we don't have him dancing, but this is a music column.

♫ Fred Astaire - Night and Day

"Gigi" started life as a short novel by Colette. It was made into a film of the same name and it involves training Gilberte, generally known as Gigi, as a courtesan in Paris in the early years of the 20th Century.

I'm surprised that a film on such a topic could be made in Hollywood in the fifties, but it was.

I'll skip over most of the songs and land on one that's appropriate for all of us who read these columns. It is MAURICE CHEVALIER and HERMIONE GINGOLD with I Remember It Well.

Maurice Chevalier & Hermione Gingold

♫ Maurice Chevalier & Hermione Gingold - I Remember It Well

If Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney could make films about "putting on a show," so can later performers. I'm thinking in particular of "The Blues Brothers" (who made two of them but you can ignore the second one).

John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd performed She Caught the Katy in the film. TAJ MAHAL did it earlier and did it better.

Taj Mahal

♫ Taj Mahal - She Caught the Katy and Left Me a Mule to Ride


INTERESTING STUFF – 13 June 2015


102 YEAR OLD RECEIVES DEGREE NAZIS STOLE FROM HER

In 1937, the Nazis refused to award Ingeborg Rapoport the PhD she had earned for her studies of diphtheria because she is Jewish. Last month, professors from Hamburg University visited Ms. Rapoport to test her on her work eight decades ago:

“To prepare for last month's exam,” reports BBC, “Ingeborg enlisted friends to help her research online what developments there had been in the field of diphtheria over the last 80 years.

"'The university wanted to correct an injustice. They were very patient with me. And for that I'm grateful,' she told Der Tagesspiegel newspaper.”

Here's some video from the award ceremony.

You can read more here.


GORGEOUS PROM DRESS DESIGNED BY STUDENT

New Jersey high school student, Kyemah McEntyre, wanted something special for her senior prom. And wow – take a look at what she designed for herself:

PromDress

Ms. McEntyre is headed for Parsons School of Design in the fall. I would hope so. See more photos and read more here.


WHAT IS THE INTERNET AND HOW DID WE GET HERE

Here's a nicely done explanation which refutes some myths, adds some knowledge and does it in words anyone can understand. Thank you, Darlene Costner for the video.


JOHN OLIVER ON THE U.S. BAIL SYSTEM

Week after week, he keeps doing it – John Oliver, that is; surprising me with fascinating investigative reports on important subjects mainstream media doesn't bothers with.

Last Sunday on his HBO show, Last Week Tonight, it was the story of bail in the United States – serious stuff with plenty of laughs too.


NICK UT RETURNS TO VIETNAM

Don't know who Nick Ut is? Sure you do. He's the photographer who, at age 21 on 8 June 1972, took this iconic photo that told the world everything we needed to know about the Vietnam War. It won a Pulitzer Prize.

NapalmgirlNickUt

Here's an interview with Mr. Ut about the photograph on a recent visit to Vietnam.


LOLA THE CAT'S AMAZING JOURNEY

Certainly you have been reading the terrible stories of African refugees risking their lives by the thousands fleeing across the Mediterranean Sea in rickety boats.

Somehow Lola the cat survived a trip with her owner across the desert from Sudan to Libya on foot and then by water to the island of Lampedusa.

”TV footage on La Repubblica's website showed aid workers calming the distraught owner, identified only as Sama, after she had disembarked and Lola was held back for health reasons,” reports Reuters.

“The mayor of Lampedusa Giusy Nicolini and the island's doctor Pietro Bartolo intervened to save the cat, which would otherwise probably have been thrown into the sea to drown, La Repubblica said.”

Here's that video:

And here is Lola the cat:

La gattina Lola


SCHOOL CANCELS VALEDICTORIAN'S SPEECH

Eighteen-year-old Evan Young had planned to come out to his classmates and to his parents in his valedictory speech during high school graduation in Colorado. But when the administration at his charter school learned this, they canceled his speech and outed him to his parents.

To help make up for this outrage, host of The Nightly Show, Larry Wilmore, invited Evan to be on his program. You're gonna love this:

Then, as Huffington Post reported,

”...lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) group Out Boulder extended the opportunity for Young to deliver his graduation address to hundreds of people during a fundraising event in the backyard of a private residence.

Democracy Now! captured Young's speech - the same speech originally intended for his peers - on video for an exclusive broadcast.”

And now you can see that full speech.


HEADLESS BODY IN TOPLESS BAR

Maybe you have to be a New Yorker to appreciate one of the funniest tabloid headlines of all time; it ran on the cover of The New York Post in 1983:

Headlessbodyheadine

The reason it has come up again 32 years later is that Post editor Vincent Musetto died last week at age 74. The New York Times reported,

”As several former colleagues have recalled over the years, Mr. Musetto’s headline almost did not come to be. That April evening, as deadline loomed in the newsroom, it occurred to someone that the bar in question might not actually be topless.

“'It’s gotta be a topless bar!' Mr. Musetto cried, as his former colleague Charlie Carillo wrote for The Huffington Post in 2012. “'This is the greatest headline of my ''career!” (As quoted by Mr. Carillo, there was an intervening, ungenteel participle between greatest' and 'headline.')

“The Post dispatched a reporter, who phoned from Queens to say, to the relief of all and to the everlasting glory of American tabloid journalism, that topless it was.”

WILD ANIMALS SEEING THEMSELVES IN MIRROR

French photographer Xavier Hubert-Brierre and his wife set up huge mirrors in several locations in Gabon to see what would happen when wild animals came by. Take a look:

There are additional still shots and you can read more here.


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.


What Should Be Elders' Place in Society?

Lip service is paid to the wisdom acquired by old people but hardly anyone is interested in making use of it.

Workers as young as 40-something are regularly laid off in favor of recent college graduates and those numbers increase dramatically for employees in their 50s and 60s. Most never again work in their fields or for a comparable salary.

Even if wisdom does not arrive automatically with age (stupid young invariably grows into stupid old), the experience gained by millions of others in lifetimes of work is universally ignored. When you have left the workforce in the United States, it is assumed you are of no further use to society.

What a waste. As Oregon State University researcher, Michelle Barnhart, noted in a 2012 study:

“Our society devalues old age in many ways, and this is particularly true in the United States, where individualism, self-reliance, and independence are highly valued...Almost every stereotype we associate with being elderly is something negative, from being ‘crotchety’ and unwilling to change to being forgetful.”

There are some organizations such as Senior Corps and Encore, among a few others, that place elders in worthwhile volunteer positions that make use of their expertise, and elders themselves do a lot of local area volunteering.

In general, however, no value is placed on unpaid jobs and once out of the workplace, American society has no interest in old people.

Oh, wait. That's true unless you count members of Congress who make a career out of trying to sneak cuts to Social Security and Medicare into every possible bill where they think they might get away with it, requiring old people to waste large amounts of time counteracting those efforts.

In the United States, there is no public policy at any level that would value, respect, organize and put to use the experience old people have gained in their decades of work.

But what if there were? What if there were a place in society for elders who are capable and willing to continue participating?

What if young and mid-life workers automatically looked to elders for advice, help, assistance, guidance and suggestions whether for business, education, government, childcare, healthcare, technology and everything else that requires attention in modern life?

What if old people were not, as now, expected to forget everything they've learned in 20, 30, 40 years of working?

What if, instead, we were expected to share our knowledge to help, for example, balance the best of the past with the newest developments of modern life? And to help solve society's problems?

What if this is how society worked? How do you think our world would be different?

Give a whirl today and play around with the idea. Let your imaginations run wild on this question: In the best of circumstances, what would be the place of elders in society? Be as specific as you can.


Final Update on an Old Woman's Tears

Here I am again, as I was Tuesday, on a day of the week on which I otherwise no longer publish. But it's important to do this today.

As you know, I was angry and frustrated after weeks of non-help I had received from the company where my domains are registered, Dotster by name. The two biggest problems were that

  1. I was not receiving a lot of my email and
  2. What did arrive in the inbox would just willy-nilly up and disappear, never to be found again.

The stress was constant. I was missing regular subscriptions, personal email from friends, blog reader email, banking, medical information and more, including electronic billing. I've relied on that for more than a decade to make sure the lights stay on, insurance remains in force and all the rest.

Including, I might add, Dotster itself. Without email notification, I have only the vaguest idea when the ones I pay quarterly, semi-annually and annually are due because it's easy to lose track with so much time in between. I rely on those emails to pay on time.

At the end of my rope, last Friday, I posted my story and asked you, dear readers, to help out.

You responded fantastically, leaving messages on the Twitter and Facebook pages of Dotster and you succeeded. Late that afternoon, a company representative, Danny, telephoned me promising he would see that my problems were corrected.

He's a smart and pleasant guy and I had hopes that my troubles would soon be over but my subsequent contacts with the support staff through their boilerplate emails setting up a remote session to work on the fix would have been funny as a parody of bad customer service on Saturday Night Live.

But not so funny to me as I explained to you in Tuesday's followup post.

Your responses Tuesday were filled with your own support horror stories so I approached the session on Wednesday (yesterday) morning with hope but also prepared for disappointment.

In fact, I had already done the homework necessary to switch to a new domain registrar and change the domain mapping for the blogs. It is detailed, not necessarily easy and according to various sources, can take from a couple days to several weeks to complete.

For me, that was a desperate last resort.

The Dotster service helper was right on time, at 10AM yesterday. He and I communicated via a chat window for more than hour as he worked and he was remarkably good at explaining in words I could understand what he was doing.

He kept me informed of how he was testing, what might have caused the problems until he narrowed it down, and what I needed to do to help as the cursor moved around my screen seemingly on its own but definitely with purpose.

As it turned out, there were several errors working in concert that had screwed up everything but in the end, the problem was solved and we finished off our conversation thusly:

RONNI: Thank you so much for this. The only name this program gives me for you is "serviceman1" so - again, thank you, serviceman1. I greatly appreciate your work here.

SERVICEMAN1: Haha, my name is Warren. It was my pleasure. And I'll also be sending you a follow up in case you need anything else.

And so he did. Then, a few minutes later, Danny telephoned as promised to see how the session had gone. He had already spoken with serviceman1/Warren so it wasn't necessary for me to explain details.

Because I can't help myself in such situations, I mentioned to Danny that perhaps Dotster could improve their customer relations both on the phone and those ugly, off-putting emails.

He agreed and said that he and his team are using my service difficulty as a learning experience for their company.

So perhaps some customer service good, even if it is only one company, will come from my mess, your help in pressuring them and the professional response of Danny and serviceman1/Warren.

Wouldn't that be terrific.

Through this ordeal, I came to see that this is bigger than one person's trouble getting one non-functioning email fixed.

When we old folks were growing up, it was landline telephones and snailmail that were crucial to our daily lives. Fifteen years into the 21st century, it is mobile phones and email that we cannot, anymore, live without.

Pretty much all the business of our lives is conducted with these two services and when they are broken, life is broken. Bills don't arrive, appointments are missed, friends, acquaintances and businesses are left hanging without responses.

For that reason, companies from whom we purchase these services cannot blow us off when they break. In fact, in a perfect world, mobile phones and email would be public utilities, as closely regulated as water, natural gas, electricity, railroads, etc.

Well, that's a conversation for another day.

Meanwhile, thank you, dear readers for your help and thank you Danny and Warren of Dotster for coming through. I appreciate you all.


Elders Coping with Summer Heat

One of the terrific things about living in the Willamette Valley of northwest Oregon is the summer weather. Generally, the temperature doesn't reach its high point until about 4PM and within an hour or two of that, the sun goes behind the Coast mountain range and you can feel the cooling affect almost immediately.

By the next morning, the temperature is usually in the 50s, maybe low 60s even when, as with the past few days, there has been an early heat wave when it's been in the high 80s and low 90s.

With careful use of closed curtains and open windows at appropriate times of day, I keep the house so comfortable that in five years here I still haven't tested the air conditioner; I have no idea if it works.

Not everyone is as lucky with summer weather as I am and in other climates, air conditioning is a necessary life saver. Thousands of poor people in India died in the past few weeks during a prolonged hot spell in that country.

So today is our annual reminder of how to keep cool (for us northern hemisphere people) when it's too hot out there. There are enough diseases and conditions of age to worry about - let's not make hot weather one of them.

Too hot for old people doesn't need to be as hot as it does for younger people because our body's heating and cooling systems wear down with the passing years.

Our sweat glands are less efficient and so is our blood circulation. Certain diseases and medications, salt-restricted diets for high blood pressure, being overweight or underweight, among other issues, can affect body temperature regulation.

There are two heat-related conditions that are deadly serious and you should know the symptoms:

HEAT EXHAUSTION occurs when the body gets too hot. Symptoms are thirst, weakness, dizziness, profuse sweating, cold and clammy skin, normal or slightly elevated body temperature.

Move yourself or someone experiencing these symptoms to a cool place, drink cool liquids, take a cool bath or shower and rest.

HEAT STROKE is a medical emergency. It can cause brain damage so get thee or the affected person to a hospital immediately. It occurs when body temperature reaches 103 or 104 in a matter of minutes.

Other symptoms include confusion; faintness; strong, rapid pulse; lack of sweating, flushed skin, bizarre behavior and coma. Don't fool around with this. Call 911 immediately.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website has an excellent section on extreme heat including a link from that page to one especially for old people.

Here is a list of suggestions from our 2014 story on keeping cool in summer heat. They are no less useful for being a year old.

Wear light-colored, loose clothing.

Heat waves are not the time to skimp on the electric bill. Turn up the air conditioning when you need it.

If you do not have air conditioning, now is the time – before a heat emergency – to find out the locations of your city's cooling centers. Hundreds of cities use school gyms and other large gathering places to help people cool down during the worst of the day's heat.

You could also go the movies, the mall or visit a friend who has air conditioning during the afternoon.

If you have air conditioning, invite a friend who does not have it to visit you during the hottest hours of the day.

If you must be out and about during a heat wave, do your errands in the early morning. Schedule appointments before the worst heat of the day.

Eat light meals that do not need cooking. High-water-content foods like cantaloupe, watermelon, apples and other fruits are good.

Keep window shades lowered and curtains drawn during the strongest heat of the day.

Some medications for diabetes, high blood pressure and other conditions can inhibit the body's ability to cool itself. If your area is experiencing a prolonged heat wave, perhaps ask your physician if you can forgo or reduce the amount of those medications for the duration.

Have I left out anything? Do you have more suggestions?


Update to an Old Woman's Tears

Yes, this is a Tuesday post – something I stopped doing about a month ago but because you were all so helpful last week with my email/computer troubles - for which I am grateful - I want to bring you up to date.

As noted on last Saturday's post, on Friday a Dotster representative, Danny, telephoned and after a pleasant chat, he said he would make certain my problems are entirely resolved. That's not a quote but it's close.

He also gave me what he said are his direct phone number and his office email address.

Soon thereafter, I received an email from the Dotster “team” that appeared to charge me $29.95 for “email client configuration.” Your big-mouth blog proprietor here dashed off a less that polite email in return before she noticed the fee had been waived.

Nevertheless, it left me wondering how thorough a fix this will be if the charge is only $29.95 and after all the changes I have made at Dotster help people's suggestion, the problems appear to me to be way messier than can be fixed with a standard email configuration.

But hey, if I knew what to do, I wouldn't need help so I let it go for the weekend except for the endless frustration of email constantly disappearing from my inbox, among other issues.

In Monday morning's email, a boilerplate message advised me to choose a day and time for Dotster to take control of my computer for the fix. With their demand for 24-hour notice, Monday was ruled out and I'm busy today so I had to choose Wednesday morning and asked for a confirmation.

As of Monday evening, no response.

Additionally, the “team” email informed me that a phone call is not allowed during the remote session to configure my email and no other help for connection problems or email client functionality are included in the fix.

That runs counter to Danny's assurance that he will see that my email problems are solved. In addition, he has not he responded to my email asking for a phone call to discuss the perameters of the help session.

Why, do you suppose, there are alarm bells going clang, clang, clang in my head?

You know, it is not difficult to keep customers happy. Charge a fair price, deliver the product and when something goes wrong, fix it. And if, as in this case, you have ignored the customer for weeks, you might try an apology and follow through with what you say you will do.

How hard is that?

Well, so far it appears to be difficult for Dotster. God I hope I'm wrong and if so, I will issue a public apology. But I don't feel good about any of it so far.

I tell you all this today because such bad behavior from companies whose services we pay for is widespread and I think it wasn't always this way. I think it has changed in our - elders' - lifetime.

Do you agree? If so, what do think has caused it to change so dramatically in our lifetime?


Old People Having Sex - Amazing

Here's a personal story I've probably told before but it has some small bearing today as it is about Viagra and when I think about it now and then these 17 years later, it still amuses me and makes me happy for my friend.

A neighbor on Bedford Street in Greenwich Village was a man named Len who was probably, at this time, closer to 90 than 80 years of age. We hung out on my excellent sitting stoop some evenings when he was walking his dog and from time to time, we shared our expertise, or lack thereof, about our computers.

This incident took place one early morning a month or two or three after Viagra first became available in 1998. Len was just outside the door to his townhouse as I walked past in a sort-of rush on my way to work. “Morning, Len,” I said, waving.

I had intended to keep going but Len stopped me. Clearly eager about something, he grabbed my arm and said, “Ronni, Ronni, I have to tell you something very exciting. Viagra works!”

This was clearly a TMI moment but what could I do? His delight was infectious and I grinned too. “I'm so happy for you, Len, but I'm late for work.” And off I went.

The big sex news story last week was about a drug, flibanserin, that is being called the female Viagra by some people. It is said to increase women's libido and the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA), the media tells us, is poised to approve it for sale later this month.

The fact that it doesn't work (studies show no more than one-half to one additional satisfying sexual event per month) and has potentially dangerous side effects (sleepiness, nausea, low blood pressure and fainting that increase significantly when mixed with alcohol) didn't deter an FDA advisory panel from recommending approval.

But for most of us who hang out at this blog, none of that is here or there; the drug is intended for PRE-menopausal women.

Anyway, what interests me more is a type of sex story that doesn't get as much attention as female Viagra but appears to me to be growing in the media. It's the “oh-my-god-did-you-know-that-old-people-fuck?” story.

In recent years, there have been several studies confirming that old people are getting it on just like younger people but the reporters writing about these studies are so damned surprised.

”Sexed-up seniors do it more than you'd think,” headlines a story at NBCNews.
”People In Their 70s And 80s Far More Sexually Active Than Once Thought,” at Medical Daily

In other stories, writers are using the research to debunk myths that hardly exist outside the (usually young) writers' heads.

”They myth that you can’t or shouldn’t have sex past a certain age needs to stop,” says someone at the Daily Beast.
”5 Myths About Senior Sex That We Should All Stop Believing,” says another headline.

Since that last one was published at Huffpost 50, a section of the news website meant for people that age and older, it's hard to know who it is the writer thinks believes those myths – I don't think actual old people do. Such myths as:

”Sex isn't as important in relationships when you're older.

“Sex becomes kind of "vanilla" as you get older.

“Older people aren't having sex.”

Oh, please. Young people may think “eew” at the idea of their parents having sex, but I doubt even they think we don't – except maybe the Huffpost 50+ writer:

“Sex isn't just defined as intercourse for post 50s. A national survey of over 3,000 older adults found 28 percent of men said they engaged in oral sex along with 36 percent of the females. That's not all. Just under 30 percent of men and 16 percent of women said they had masturbated in the past year.”

Oh, my. Isn't that a shocker. She probably wonders how old people learned about those things.

Okay, maybe I'm being unfair. The writer is clearly in her twenties but still, where does she think her generation came from?

Even with older writers, the condescension about sex and age can be irritating. In her own way, the internet guru of elder sex, Joan Price, can't stop telling old people how to do it, as though we are just now learning.

Lately, most of the information on her Sex & Aging blog is reviews of vibrators. That should not be dismissed but there is a lot more interesting stuff about sex and old age than toys even if there are a lot of single elders.

All this cutesy writing and apparent surprise discovery that sex continues into old age remind me that there does exist good, practical, non-patronizing information about sex.

Remember Dr. Ruth Westheimer? She pioneered talking openly about sex 35 years ago and I can't find anyone today who can do it as honestly, comfortably and with as much obvious delight in the subject as Dr. Ruth.

Dr. Ruth is 87 now and she's writing books, answering questions and offering advice as she's done for the past 35 or 40 years. Late last year, she spoke about sex at a senior residence in Florida where she was also interviewed on a local radio program:

"I tell people, especially older people, don’t drink too much, otherwise you fall asleep," she told the host. "So we have to make sure that there is no taboo, it’s not something dirty. And if you do it with humor — not jokes but humor — then people will remember what I have said...I'm a grandmother, and I still talk about sex."

May she continue talking about sex like it is indefinitely. I was lucky enough to interview her several times back in the early days of her radio show about sex – she's smart, funny and especially, she is joyful about sex and about life.

I know she and my friend Len, if he were still with us, would have a delightful time talking and laughing about Viagra together. Dr. Ruth laughs a lot and so did Len.


ELDER MUSIC: Trad Revival

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.


In the late fifties and the early sixties when the original rock & roll was on the wane and The Beatles hadn't yet resuscitated it, traditional jazz had a huge resurgence in Britain and Australia (and elsewhere as well).

This, of course, was the style of music played in New Orleans in the early years of the century (and elsewhere later). Today's column will feature music from that revival rather than the originators of the style, and they will be artists with whom I'm very familiar.

Thus you're getting mainly British and Australian acts today. If nothing else, this music will get your toes a'tapping.

I'll lead off with a group from England, CHRIS BARBER'S JAZZ BAND.

Chris Barber Jazz band

Like a couple of others featured today, they were blessed with having a fine female singer fronting the group, in this case it was OTTILIE PATTERSON.

Ottilie Patterson

Ottilie started as a blues singer in Northern Ireland and then joined Chris's band. She also married him (and later divorced him). She was one of the best at this kind of music. Here they are with Beale St. Blues.

♫ Chris Barber - Beale St. Blues

One of the finest exponents of this style at the time, and even today, came from the Netherlands and they are THE DUTCH SWING COLLEGE BAND.

Dutch Swing College

The group began in 1945 and quickly gained an international reputation and following. There has been, by necessity, a large turnover in membership - after all they've been going for almost 70 years. That's nearly as long as the Rolling Stones have been performing.

The College performs Willie the Weeper.

♫ Dutch Swing College Band - Willie The Weeper

ACKER BILK was given a clarinet by a friend who didn't want it.

Acker Bilk

Acker's first taste of this music was with Ken Colyer's band in London. He wasn't too impressed with the big smoke and went to Bristol where he became a member of the Bristol Paramount Jazz Band.

This group got a gig in Düsseldorf where they had to play for hours on end (and thus honing their skills), pretty much what The Beatles did a few years later.

On returning to Britain, Acker was the de facto leader of the group (and soon the real leader) and they recorded a tune called Stranger on the Shore which became a world-wide hit.

NOTE: For those who couldn't play this earlier, it now works.

♫ Acker Bilk - Stranger on the Shore

KENNY BALL took up the trumpet as a teenager during the war.

Kenny Ball

He worked semi-professionally at the time and started playing music full time in 1953. Kenny was a member of several bands until he started his own. He was one the leading lights of the revival and kept the flag flying for this music until he died in 2013.

He had a huge international hit with Midnight in Moscow.

♫ Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen - Midnight in Moscow

THE TEMPERANCE SEVEN usually had Plus Two added to their name. I guess because there were nine of them.

Temperance Seven

The Temps didn't take themselves too seriously, not surprising really, as they have links to a number of people who later became the Monty Python Flying Circus.

The three founder members were Paul McDowell who originally played trombone, Philip Harrison, who originally plucked the banjo, and Brian Innes. Quite obviously, more members joined over the years.

Here they play You're Driving Me Crazy with vocal refrain by Mr. Paul McDowell, as it says on the disk.

♫ The Temperance Seven - You're Driving Me Crazy

Now to the real thing. One of the few Americans I can remember playing in this style at the time (well, there was Louis too) is SIDNEY BECHET.

Sidney Bechet

Sidney was one of the real genuine Dixieland players from New Orleans and had a huge influence on the style. Alas, he died in 1959 but his records were still being played (perhaps because of that).

One of his most famous tunes is Petite Fleur.

♫ Sidney Bechet - Petite Fleur

In the early days of the sixties, we who lived south of the Yarra - that's the river that splits Melbourne in two - would take the train to South Yarra, there to visit the Yarra Yarra Jazz Club to see and hear the YARRA YARRA JAZZ BAND.

Yarra Yarra Jazz Band

We (the males) were snappily dressed in black tight pants, black pointy shoes, black socks and black skivvy. In winter we'd add a cardigan and if it was really cold, a black duffle coat.

We also affected a hair style that The Beatles stole from us a couple of years later. That is, those with straight hair did that. We curly tops did the best we could. Of course, when Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix made it big, we were the cool dudes.

An added attraction of the Yarra Yarras was the singer of the band, JUDY JACQUES. She was an extraordinary performer but that wasn't the only attraction she held for young lads.

Judy Jacques

Only a hint of Judy's live performances was captured on record – a slight glimmer towards the end of this tune, the old gospel standard, Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen.

♫ The Yarra Yarra Jazz Band (Judy Jacques) - Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen

These days JUDITH DURHAM is best known for her years as the singer for The Seekers.

Judith Durham

Before that she was more recognised in these parts as a jazz singer, particularly for her time with FRANK TRAYNOR'S JAZZ PREACHERS.

Frank Traynor

Frank started his own club called, not too surprisingly, Traynor's. I guess he figured he'd always have a place to play. It's still going today, although Frank died in 1985, and is still the go-to place for fine jazz in Melbourne.

Here is Frank and the band, with Judith singing Trombone Frankie, which references the man himself.

♫ Frank Traynor's Jazz Preachers (Judith Durham) - Trombone Frankie

Every weekday here in Melbourne in the early sixties, radio station 3XY had a jazz program at 7PM. Fortunately for my musical development, they weren't discriminating about what they played – Coltrane, Miles, Ray Charles, Lambert Hendricks and Ross and FRANK JOHNSON'S FABULOUS DIXIELANDERS. Many others as well, of course.

Frank Johnson

Frank played regularly around the traps back then – well, all those mentioned did that. We teenage lads really liked it when the station played Frank's version of Sweet Patootie (which was quite regularly – they knew their audience) as we thought it rather risqué.

♫ Frank Johnson - Sweet Patootie

THE RED ONIONS JAZZ BAND was a Melbourne institution.

Red Onions

However, when The Beatles and Stones hit, they saw the writing on the wall and put down their clarinets and trumpets and picked up electric guitars and basses and became The Loved Ones.

They were a lot more musically proficient than others who started playing rock & roll at the same time as they were already trained musicians. They were also blessed with having a lead singer who was as good as anyone in rock music.

The Loved Ones recorded a hugely influential album, had several top 10 records and imploded, not to be heard from again. This, though, is about the Red Onions with Buddy's Habit.

♫ Red Onion Jazz Band - Buddy's Habit


INTERESTING STUFF – 6 June 2015

EMAIL PROBLEM UPDATE: Yesterday afternoon, I received a phone call from a representative of Dotster who has promised me that he will set up a session with their tech team to work on the problem by taking control of my computer, checking all the settings while working at their end too for a solution.

If you've never had computer help in this manner, it is amazing - yes, a little disconcerting to see things happening on your screen that you're not controlling but it has worked successfully for me a couple of times in the past with other problems.

It's Friday afternoon as I write this update so the support session probably won't happen until next week. In addition, this has been such a long-term trial that I don't want to get my hopes up. But it is a start and I want all of you to know that it is your efforts have borne this fruit. Thank you for that. I appreciate your help so much and I'll let you know how it goes.



ELDER BIKE MESSENGERS IN GERMANY

The elder bicycle messengers do not appear to be the point of this delivery service in Wiesban, Germany, but it's still a good idea along with some others from the new company. Kiezkaufhaus offers

”...same-day delivery of products from local stores — by senior citizens on cargo bikes!” explains grist.org. “Yup: You don’t have to get up from your computer to get groceries; no carbon is emitted in the delivery; and you’re supporting local businesses and giving old folks a new life purpose. A truly virtuous cycle.”

Kiezkaufhaus

You can visit the German-language website here and thank Tom Delmore for telling us about this.


JON STEWART ON CAITLYN JENNER AND THE MEDIA

The number one news item of the week was, undoubtedly, the “coming out” of Caitlyn Jenner in Vanity Fair magazine. There are a whole lot of uncomfortable things about the hoohaw surrounding the event and not a single one of them is related to the transgender part of the story.

Jon Stewart nailed a lot of it.


KEYBOARD WAFFLES

There are zillions of unnecessary things in the world but not very many are as funny as this one which began two years ago as a Kickstarter project.

The keyboard waffle iron was funded and is in production as of last month. You can find out about that here.


UNDERSTANDING THE SUPREME COURT OBAMACARE CASE

It won't be long now, they tell us, before the U.S. Supreme Court announces its decision in King v. Burwell, that could cripple Obamacare and snatch health coverage away from millions of Americans.

The case turns on a seven-word phrase, "through an Exchange established by the State,” that the plaintiffs say prohibits subsidies in states with federal exchanges. An explainer at talkingpointsmemo explains:

”The challengers not only make the textual argument but also claim this is what Congress intended all along. There's no serious evidence that Congress intended to restrict those subsidies, and overwhelming evidence that it sought to provide them broadly.”

There is a lot more written in non-legalese that makes this case and its possible outcomes easy to understand. You'll find it here.


A 97-YEAR-OLD TEACHER'S FIELD TRIP

When Vivian Bailey was a student, the South was segregated and only white children were allowed to go on field trips. These days, Mrs. Bailey volunteers at Running Brook Elementary School and she's finally gotten to go on a field trip.

Take a look and thank Jim Stone for forwarding the video.


THE CARE PACKAGE PART 2

About three weeks ago, I gave you a peek at the first part of cartoonist Jack Ohman's charming and very honest series about his father called The Care Package.

PBS is releasing the four parts in monthly increments and Part 2, titled “The Last Time I Went Fishing with My Dad,” is online now. Here is a taste.

CarePackagePart2B

CarePackagePart 2A

You'll find all of Part 2 here and can catch up with Part 1 here.


JOHN OLIVER ON THE FIFA SCANDAL

I have said it before and it never changes: John Oliver can keep me glued to the screen even on subjects I don't care a whit about. This week on his HBO program, Last Week Tonight, it is soccer. Or football, I guess, depending on where you live.

In all his years at The Daily Show, as demonstrably good as he was there, Oliver didn't give us a clue then of how masterful he is.

This latest is actually a followup to a previous FIFA rant in June 2014 which you will find here.


HOW WEIRD WATER IS

The Guardian does some wondeful, little videos they don't get enough credit for. This is about the chemistry of water and it is fascinating – three minutes with dozens of facts you probably don't know many of about water.


WHO KNEW - OTTER PUPS HAVE TO BE TAUGHT TO SWIM

And it's so darned cute.


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.