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ELDER MUSIC: 1965 Again

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

What happened in 1965?

  • Dennis Lehane was born
  • Jefferson Airplane made their debut
  • Days of our Lives made its first appearance
  • The first concert was staged at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco
  • How to Murder Your Wife was released
  • Ronni Bennett got married
  • Essendon were premiers

Smokey Robinson was in peak form around this time and he came up with what I consider his best song, The Tracks of My Tears. Berry Gordy, head honcho for Motown records, and a friend of Smokey's agrees with me.

Smokey's group THE MIRACLES recorded it and it did pretty well but given its quality, it should have sold sqillions.

Smokey Robinson & the Miracles

♫ Smokey Robinson and the Miracles - The Tracks of My Tears

THE SUPREMES were having a run of number one hits when, out of the blue, one of their songs failed to chart.

The Supremes

Berry Gordy was furious. He released a memo that said, "We will release nothing less than Top Ten product on any artist; and because the Supremes' world-wide acceptance is greater than the other artists, on them we will only release number one records."

Holland, Dozier, Holland, who wrote songs for the group, put on their thinking caps and came up with I Hear A Symphony. The song restored them to their rightful chart position.

♫ The Supremes - I Hear A Symphony

Just sit back and let this next song wash over you. Or, perhaps, you could sit there and mold some clay. Here are the RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS with Unchained Melody.

The Righteous Brothers

♫ The Righteous Brothers - Unchained Melody

Another duo, but of a completely different stripe. I present SONNY AND CHER.

Sonny & Cher

Oh for the sartorial elegance of yesteryear.

As with the Brothers, there's another film tie-in. Just pretend your alarm clock is waking you up at 6AM to I Got You Babe.

♫ Sonny & Cher - I Got You Babe

People Get Ready is easily THE IMPRESSIONS best known song.

The Impressions

Jerry Butler had left the group by 1965 and Curtis Mayfield was the driving force. He wrote the song, sang lead vocal and played guitar on the track. Sam Gooden and Fred Cash were the other two members at this time.

♫ The Impressions - People Get Ready

THE LOVIN' SPOONFUL was formed by John Sebastian and Zal Yanovsky.

The Lovin' Spoonful

John and Zal first got some attention when they were in a group called The Mugwumps. When they split, the other two in the group, Mama Cass and Denny Doherty became part of another rather famous group.

The Spoonful were playing around the clubs in Greenwich Village and over time noticed their audience was changing - fewer beatniks and more young people. They managed to get a record deal and Do You Believe in Magic was their first single.

♫ The Lovin' Spoonful - Do You Believe in Magic

Yet another superb Motown group, this time it's THE TEMPTATIONS.

The Temptations

The Temps had several lead singers over the years, two in particular stood out – Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin. It really didn't matter who sang, they always performed wonderfully.

The song My Girl was written for them and the record produced by Smokey Robinson. With all that combined talent there was no way they could miss.

♫ The Temptations - My Girl

BARBARA LEWIS was a songwriter as well as a singer, but in this case she didn't write the song.

Barbara Lewis

Baby I'm Yours came from the pen of Van McCoy. I think Van must have listened closely to The Twelfth of Never, not for the tune but the idea. That's okay, pinching ideas is what pop music's all about.

The song has been covered by many others but the original is usually the best, and so it is in this case.

♫ Barbara Lewis - Baby I'm Yours

1965 wasn't all music from Motown and Stax records (oh, and The Beatles too, I guess). Just mostly. Or, at least, that's where the good music emulated.

However, there was music out of Nashville at the time. One of those singers (and songwriters) was ROGER MILLER.

Roger Miller

Roger didn't take himself too seriously (something that seems to afflict too many performers) and his song from this year is probably his most famous, King of the Road.

Roger said the inspiration for the song came about when he saw a sign that read "Trailers for sale or rent.” He's given several different locations for that sign over the years.

♫ Roger Miller - King Of the Road

Back to the soul music, and one of the very best, WILSON PICKETT.

Wilson Pickett

Wilson wrote In The Midnight Hour with Steve Cropper, session guitarist at Stax records and member of Booker T and the MGs. This group was the backing band for Wilson on this song with a bit of help from the Memphis Horns.

♫ Wilson Pickett - In The Midnight Hour

You can find more music from 1965 here. 1966 will appear in two weeks' time.

INTERESTING STUFF – 29 November 2014


On 19 November, 85-year-old fantasy and science fiction writer Ursula Le Guin accepted the Medal for Distinguished Contributions to American Letters at the 2014 National Book Awards ceremony.

It's not that she doesn't already have buckets of awards – each one deserved. It's that her acceptance speech, barely more than five minutes long, that made waves all around the world.

“We will need writers,” she said, “who can remember freedom.” And this:

”We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words.”

Please watch the speech; it is very short and she says a lot more important stuff:

You can read more about Le Guin's speech here and there is a transcript here.


A small town in Poland has rejected Winnie the Pooh as a symbol at a children's playground because, officials say, he is a hermaphrodite because he wears no pants.

Dear god, can't anyone save the world from this kind of stupidity? You can read more here.


A company recently bought by Google has developed a spoon that helps people with tremors, such as those caused by Parkinson's disease, eat more easily. Take a look:

Clinical trials, reports the company, show the device reduces shaking by an average of 76 per cent. You can read more here.


There is no other place like it in America. Literally. There is just one Unclaimed Baggage Center and it is in the small town of Scottsboro, Alabama. There is not even an online outlet.

This video that accompanied a story last week in The New York Times explains it all.

The store has become a tourist destination and the website even has a section on how to plan your visit.


TGB Elder Music columnist Peter Tibbles sent this short, 37-second video of another odd animal friendship – Forbi the owl and Cleo the cat.

You can see 12 more unlikely animal friendships here.


It's hard to keep up with terrorist groups. There hasn't been much about the Taliban lately nor al Qaida. The latest extreme terror organization is ISIS which is usually translated as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Just to confuse us, it seems, the Obama administration usually refers to ISIL which is the Islamic State in the Levant. Increasingly, news outlets just shorten it to Islamic State.”

Whatever the name, it's not easy to track down a background of the group that doesn't require a PhD in Middle Eastern history.

Now, however, counter-terrorism expert Bruce Reidel has done a decent job of it with his narration of this three-minute video from the centrist think tank, the Brookings Institution.

If you want to know more, there is additional information about ISIS at the Brookings website.


For as long as I can remember, physicians have advised that the target systolic (highest number) blood pressure reading is under 140. Recently, however, new guidelines have been issued relaxing that target for people 60 and older to 150 systolic.

"'Keeping systolic blood pressure in older adults below 150 is important, it's what we consider a mild level of control,' Leah Goeres, lead author of a new study from the University of Oregon, said.

"'But for older people that level is also good enough. After an extensive review, there was no significant evidence that more intensive management is necessary.'”

Of course, you should never, ever stop taking a medication or change other methods of control without first consulting your physician. You can read more about the review study here.


Is there anyone who hasn't seen Casablanca? Multiple times? In rankings of all-time best films, if it isn't ranked number one, it is always in the top five. And if you're asking me – I agree. It's the second movie on my personal best list.

Last Monday, the painted piano on which Dooley Wilson plays As Time Goes By was bought at auction for $34 million dollars.

Here's a clip of a different song from the movie. I chose this one because it shows off the piano better than the more famous tune:

A bunch of other movie memorabilia, including the doors from Rick's Cafe Americain and the prop letters of transit, were sold at the same auction event. You can read about it all at The New York Times.


This is so funny. Come on Raf, Do it again. And again. And again. And...

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

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

The Day After Thanksgiving 2014

I hope you are all appropriately stuffed from your holiday meal yesterday and, like me, looking forward to leftovers.

Given the amount of television, print and online advertising, I assume a large portion of the American population will be bargain hunting for Christmas gifts today on what's called Black Friday.

Not me and if I recall a post from a year or two ago correctly, many TGB readers (or, anyway, commenters) will be staying home today.

Me too. I intend to bake some Christmas cookies and work on a non-blog project. I'll be back tomorrow with Interesting Stuff.

There is, however, a new story today at The Elder Storytelling Place.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mickey Rogers: Rewiring the Brain

Happy Thanksgiving 2014, Everyone

Last year on Thanksgiving I vowed that, due to my delight at rediscovering Arlo Guthrie's epic Thanksgiving fable, Alice's Restaurant, after the decade or two it lay somewhere in memory limbo, I would make the song the annual holiday anthem of TimeGoesBy.

As I noted last year, I was equally delighted to discover that with a couple of minor lapses, I still knew the entire monologue by heart. I can't say why but it gives me a great deal of pleasure to sing along – well, I guess I mean “speak along” - for the entire 18 minutes, which I took the time to do (with gusto) before readying this post.

Maybe you want to try that too.

It's a fine ol' song, don't you think.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dani Ferguson Phillips: What Time is It in Zimbabwe?

Unlock the Car Door With Your Mind

It's amazing what you can find on the internet. Sometimes I need to closely monitor myself so not to fall down a rabbit hole only to awaken as from a dream two hours later, my mind full of way too much useless information.

Here's one I found on Monday that fits with this week's holiday theme of publishing short amusements in place of any substance.

If University of Nottingham physicist Roger Bowley is not pulling our collective leg (I don't believe he is), car doors can be unlocked with our minds. Certain ones, anyway. Here he is with a show and tell:

If my car were not too old to have this kind of lock, I would have made a video to show you of myself doing it.

I have no idea whether this phenomenon is just amusing or if it has potential real-life uses. You can read about it here but actually, all you need to know is in the video.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Arlene Corwin: The Snake

An Antidote for JOWS

End-of-year holidays now last for four months, 120 days from September through December. There is no escaping them and each reaches its peak of frenzy during the week in which it falls – this week, for one example.

Potential blog readers are traveling to grandma's house or, in this case, more likely preparing the house to receive such travelers. Or, they are cooking ahead, baking pies and sundry special dishes for the Thursday feast. Or making their list and checking it twice in preparation of Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday. Maybe all of those things.

Because the attention of so many readers is otherwise engaged, it seems a better choice to post something short and easy – a quick hit to amuse you in a busy week.

That said, I do have an important announcement today: There is now an antidote for JOWS.

JOWS, you ask? Certainly you must know what JOWS is. Many of you, like me, are afflicted with it.

Yes, I am speaking of: John Oliver Withdrawal Syndrome - that mind and body twitchy feeling that an important piece of life is missing when the man's HBO show, Last Week Tonight, is on hiatus.

Oliver has taken the excuse of Thanksgiving week to give us some relief with a short video about the holiday itself. The president pardoning just one turkey is a weird tradition, he tells us. The birds are basically all guilty - of being delicious. Take a look.

I can't speak for you, but for myself, that's a nice interlude but it won't hold me for the 71 days that remain until the show returns on 8 February 2015. I'll need some more to prevent recurrences of JOWS.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Henry Lowensterbn: Winter Weather

Elder Surveillance For Their Own Good

Okay, they usually call it “monitoring” instead of surveillance to sound less Orwellian but don't be fooled - it is surveillance. It's not quite here yet but the groundswell is increasing as commercial development and science research projects in Japan, Europe and the United States proliferate:

As The New York Times reported in July:

”A consortium of European companies, universities and research institutions collaborated on Mobiserv, a project that developed a touch-screen-toting, humanoid-looking 'social companion' robot that offers reminders about appointments and medications and encourages social activity, healthy eating and exercise.

“In Sweden, researchers have developed GiraffPlus, a robot that looks like a standing mirror cum vacuum cleaner, monitors health metrics like blood pressure and has a screen for virtual doctor and family visits.”

Others are have already created and continually improve commercial home monitoring systems with and without cameras. NBC News:

”It could mean no more having to check up on Mom or Dad every morning: Motion sensors on the wall and a monitor under the mattress one day might automatically alert you to early signs of trouble well before an elderly loved one gets sick or suffers a fall.”

Ri-i-i-ght. Mom and Dad are taking up way too much of their adult children's time and attention. With the new motion sensors, no reason to bother them until Mom breaks her hip.

The rationale for non-human surveillance of elders is the high cost of home care (much cheaper, by the way, than assisted living and nursing homes) and, they tell us, the diminishing number of caregivers for the growing population of elders.

In addition, all this monitoring/surveillance will be plugged into the coming telemedicine where checkups and examinations will be done via computer screens instead of visits to the doctor's office.

The holy grail of home surveillance is the personal robot. A Japanese company, Softbank, has developed one of the first, named Pepper, that will become available in February 2015.

”...its creators hoping it will be us[ed] in a range of roles from caring f[or] the elderly to baby-sitting.

"People describe others as being robots because they have no emotions, no heart. For the first time in human history, we're giving a robot a heart," SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son said at a news conference.”

Here's a marketing video about Pepper:

You can read more about Pepper here.

Making robots seem to be more human is important to making them acceptable to humans. Another Japanese company has made their elder companion robot, Paro, empathetic with a Disney-style approach:

”Paro is a soft, fuzzy robot, built to look and sound like a baby seal. It's also a $6,000 machine, classified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a Class II medical device.

“Stroke its fur, and Paro squirms delightedly at the loving touch. Hit or punish it, and it will learn not to repeat what it did to cause displeasure. With the help of audio sensors, Paro can even learn its name and respond to greetings.”


Undoubtedly, it won't be long before a plush Paro is paired with a Pepper to produce every elder's best friend. Who also spies on them.

We will accept these robots because the culture has long trained us that ubiquitous surveillance is necessary in a dangerous world. In nearly every television cop and detective drama, the investigation is hindered because there was not a camera at a crucial location. If only there were more.

And, of course, we all know that we must have a GPS-equipped cell phone on our body 24/7 because – you know: emergency. It's not a requirement yet, but I suspect it will become so.

Part of what freedom is, what democracy itself is, is privacy, the right to be left alone. As Edward Snowden and others have recently shown us, there is hardly any left and I don't believe it will be long before robot spies are forced on old people. They will sold to us in the name of safety.

Some of these issues were addressed in an interesting (and delightful) 2012 movie titled Robot and Frank starring Frank Langella and Susan Sarandon. The plot goes something like this:

”Set in the near future, Frank, a retired cat burglar, has two grown kids who are concerned he can no longer live alone. They are tempted to place him in a nursing home until Frank's son chooses a different option: against the old man's wishes, he finds a robot caretaker.

“Frank soon learns that Robot is just as useful as a burglary aide but as Frank tries to restart his old profession, the uncomfortable realities of a changing world and his worsening dementia threaten to take it beyond what any reboot can do for him.”

Here's the trailer:

And so, robots become our friends. Whether I like it or not, robot caregivers for elders (and a whole lot of other uses) are the future.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Trudi Kappel: Sprechen Sie Estonian?

ELDER MUSIC: Classical Gas

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.

This column has nothing to do with the piece of music by Mason Williams with the same name. The title was suggested by Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, to replace the boring, and overly long one I originally had.

There's no theme today. Over time I've heard pieces of music I like, either on the radio or from my own collection, and have made a note of them. Now I have enough for a column.

GIUSEPPE TARTINI was born in 1692 in Piran, in Istria in the Republic of Venice (but is now in Slovenia).


His folks wanted him to become Franciscan friar. He had a basic musical education and studied law at the university. His father died and he married a woman of whom his father would have heartily disapproved.

Well, there goes the friaring job.

Unfortunately, Elisabetta, as that was her name, was a favorite of the local, powerful cardinal. Ah ha. This gentleman, and I use the word rather freely, charged Giuseppe with abduction. He (Giuseppe) took off to the monastery of St. Francis in Assisi where he was safe from prosecution. We don't know what happened to Elisabetta.

It was at the monastery that he honed his composing and playing skills, particularly on the violin. Indeed, he is the first known owner of one of Mr. Stradivari's fiddles.

Things must have improved for him as he was out and about after a bit. He started a violin school that attracted pupils from all over Europe. Most of his compositions employ that instrument prominently – violin concertos and sonatas and the like.

He wrote some religious music; the pope at the time, Clement XII, asked him for a Stabat Mater. I guess things had been smoothed over by then.

Here is his Trio Sonata in E flat maj, Op 8 No 6.

♫ Tartini - Trio Sonata Op 8 No 6

I was inspired to include the next composer when I heard his beautiful clarinet concerto on the radio the other day. ANTONIO CARTELLIERI was someone who lived on the periphery of the music world of his time.


Tony didn't live there very long as he was only 35 when he died. He had the misfortune to have been born only a couple of years after Beethoven (and thus also overlapped with Mozart and Haydn). Indeed, his first appearance as a conductor (conducting his own symphony) coincided with Beethoven's first public appearance.

Tony actually received greater plaudits from those present than Ludwig. Most of his surviving works feature the clarinet to a considerable degree, however, I was a bit clarinet heavy in my selections today so I've opted for something else of Tony's, the third movement from the Divertimento for flute, oboe, clarinet, two horns, two violins, viola, cello and double bass. Whew.

♫ Cartellieri - Divertimento (3)i

IGNAZ PLEYEL (or Ignace, depending on where you live) was one of a rather surprising number of composers who were extremely famous in their lifetimes but are largely unknown or forgotten today.


Indeed, Iggy was a super-star of his time, easily the most famous composer around outstripping all the others including such journeymen as Haydn and Mozart.

He may not have deserved quite such an exalted reputation then but he certainly doesn’t deserve to be forgotten now. I’ll try in my small way to reinstate him a little.

This is the third movement of the Clarinet Concerto No 2 in B flat major.

♫ Pleyel - Clarinet Concerto No.2 (3)

In 17th century Rome, two composers were recognised as pre-eminent in the world of chamber music  One of those was ORAZIO MICHI DELL'ARPA (the other was Girolamo Frescobaldi).

Sorry, there don't seem to be any pictures of Oraz; I guess he hogged the camera when the family went on holidays.

Oraz composed for the chromatic harp which had reached Rome from Spain around this time. This is a bit of a strange looking instrument composed of two sets of strings that sort of intersect with each other.


Most of the music he composed was of the toccata form that essentially is just a way of showing off your versatility with the instrument. Think guitar heroes these days.

The piece I've chosen is called I diletti di mundo. It's the second movement of a toccata. The harp player is Andrew Lawrence-King.

♫ Michi Dell'Arpa - I diletti di mundo (2)

LUIGI BOCCHERINI's name may be known to you.


I've included him as he was destined to be on an earlier column but he missed the cut at the last minute. Rather than waste him, I decided to toss him into this one.

Luigi was a cello player (as was his dad) and he wrote many works that featured the instrument prominently. It's less so in this work, the first movement of the Octet, G470, for woodwinds and strings.

♫ Boccherini - Octet (1)

As I mentioned earlier, I'm a bit heavy on the clarinets today. I hope you don't mind but it produces such gorgeous music. BERNHARD CRUSELL was another born just after Beethoven. He lived a bit longer than Cartellieri though.


Bernie has born in Finland and his family moved to Sweden (whence his father came) when he was eight. He certainly favored the clarinet; he learned to play by ear on a friend's instrument and later had formal training.

He became quite famous throughout Europe and travelled to France, Germany and England where he was in great demand. The king of Sweden at the time kept dragging him back though as he wanted this fine musician and composer to play for him.

Here is the third movement of his Clarinet Concerto No. 1 in E flat major, Op.1.

♫ Crusell - Clarinet Concerto No 1 (3)

This next piece of music is really beautiful and for years has been known as Serenade for Strings Op. 3 No. 5 by Joseph Haydn (from one of his string quartets). However, this isn't the case.It's still a beautiful piece of music but it's been found to have been composed by ROMAN HOFFSTETTER.


Roman was a composer and a Benedictine monk. He greatly admired Papa Jo's work to the point of slavish imitation, thus the confusion over the years. It's not just this work but several other string quartets have been misattributed (but have now found their rightful owner).

Here is that piece mentioned above, the second movement of the String Quartet in F.

♫ Hoffstetter - String Quartet (2)

JAN DISMAS ZELENKA was from Lounovice in Bohemia, just south-east of Prague.


Nothing more is known of his childhood and his first known composition dates from when he was 32. The overwhelming percentage of his surviving works are religious in nature and there are only a few others, notably some orchestral works and six trio sonatas.

It's a bit of one of those sonatas we have today, the second movement of the Trio Sonata No 4 in G Minor for Oboe, Violin and Bassoon. There's also a lute, double bass and harpsichord fiddling around in the background.

♫ Zelenka - Trio Sonata 4 (2)

GEORG ABRAHAM SCHNEIDER was a German composer who was born the same year as Beethoven, but he was from Darmstadt.


He was a horn player but was also proficient on the violin and other instruments.

Georg was hired by Prince Frederick Henry Louis of Prussia to perform and compose music. Things changed when Napoleon occupied the area but Georg was on tour in Vienna at the time and decided to stay.

His work shows an obvious influence of Haydn and Mozart but that's not a bad thing. This is the third movement of his Sinfonia Concertante in D-major for violin & viola, Op.19.

♫ Schneider - Sinfonia Concertante (3)

INTERESTING STUFF – 22 November 2014


Back in the 1950s, there was a chilling and deservedly famous Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV episode about a man, played by Joseph Cotton, so paralyzed in an accident that the coroner believes he is dead. Recently, that really happened to a woman in Poland:

”Officials say Janina Kolkiewicz, 91, was declared dead after an examination by the family doctor. However, mortuary staff were astonished to notice movement in her body bag while it was in storage.

“The police have launched an investigation. Back home, Ms Kolkiewicz warmed up with a bowl of soup and two pancakes.

In response, The Guardian published a story telling us such an occurrence isn't all that uncommon. You can read about that here.


It has been an unusual weather week in the U.S. with some areas getting eight and even nine FEET of snow in only a day or two.

TGB reader Celia sent a video from a year ago about another kind of usual weather event I'd never heard of – an ice tsunami. Take a look at this news report and maybe, if you have a lake shore house, you'll be rethinking that.


As you know from a post here a few days ago, the G20 summit was held last week in Brisbane, Australia. I don't know why, but the 20 heads of state took a break at one point for hugs and cuddles with koala bears. Here's U.S. President Barack Obama.


You an see more koalas with more G20 leaders here.


But don't you believe him. As I've noted here throughout the first season of his new HBO show, Last Week Tonight, he's doing better in-depth reporting that most official news outlets.

Last week, David Carr of The New York Times interviewed Oliver about this:

”So, I asked Mr. Oliver [wrote Carr]: Is he engaging in a kind of new journalism? He muttered an oath, the kind he can say on HBO for comic emphasis, but we don’t say here, adding, 'No!'

“'We are making jokes about the news and sometimes we need to research things deeply to understand them,' [said Oliver[ 'but it’s always in service of a joke. If you make jokes about animals, that does not make you a zoologist. We certainly hold ourselves to a high standard and fact-check everything, but the correct term for what we do is comedy.'”

If you say so, Mr. Oliver. You can read more of the interview here. Last Week Tonight will return to HBO on 8 February 2015.


Unexpectedly – to myself anyway – I have a soft spot for marching bands. There's a movie about one titled Drumline that I can't resist every time it turns up on television. I've seen it or parts of it at least half a dozen times.

This past week, Darlene Costner sent a video of a marching band called Top Secret Drum Corps from Basel, Switzerland. They are spectacular and have won a boatload of competitions. Take a look.

You can read about the Top Secret Drum Corp at Wikipedia.


Senator Bernie Sanders told CNN this week that he thinks we may have reached a “tipping point” where only billionaires will have a say in who gets elected. Take a look at the video; the topic begins at about 1:40 in.


Even Senator Sanders could be wrong about billionaire elections. Here is Bill Maher last week on why voting is crucial.


To continue today's semi-theme of life for ordinary people under the thumb of billionaires, The Los Angeles Times this week announced it was killing all paid vacation and sick days for its staff.

”Starting January 1, staffers will no longer be able to bank vacation — because they won't automatically earn or be entitled to any vacation, sick days or floating holidays.

“To get any time off, a reporter or editor will have to go to a supervisor and make a case 'subject to their professional judgment and to the performance expectations of their supervisor that apply to their job.'

“In one stroke, vacation time and sick days become a management tool to monitor and reward or punish performance...”

You can read the whole sorry story here.


Apparently there is a group of people called Hello Denizen who post videos of teeny tiny things. I'm not entirely sure what it's about.

However, this turned up on my radar so in keeping with the upcoming holiday, here are three hamsters and a chinchilla feasting on what is described as “a proper Thanksgiving dinner, complete with a tiny turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and pies.”

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

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

The Gift of Freedom in the Third Act of Life

”I’ve learned my lines. The house lights have dimmed and I’ve just walked center stage for the third act of the play I started writing long ago. And within the physical, economic and intellectual framework of being an 'old guy,' the third act is full of opportunity to grow, acting on my own terms, at my own pace.

That's Marc Leavitt talking. You know him – he is a regular contributor to The Elder Storytelling Place and he blogs at Marc Leavitt's Blog.

His declaration was contained in an email exchange between us about freedom in old age that began when Marc wrote:

”One aspect of The Third Act that old people underplay, is the gift of freedom from the banal exigencies of daily life.

“When I get up on the morning after a heavy blizzard and look out the window at the pure, clean expanse of snow, trees and bushes heavy with last night’s results, I smile, and take another sip of strong, black coffee, and turn on NPR for background noise while I ponder my plans for the day.”

Yessss. As I've mentioned here in the past, in the near 50 years of my working life, I mostly had fascinating jobs I was eager to get to each day. But the regimentation, the morning schedule to shower, dress, feed the cat, gulp of coffee and get to the subway – well, I always wished for more flexibility and more time to myself.

The funny thing is now that I've got all the flexibility I want, I still maintain a morning routine and it's not all that different except for the subway. The important difference is that it is all my choice these days.

Marc continues by recounting the stuff he doesn't do anymore:

”I haven’t shaved in nearly a decade, and I’m not going outside to shovel out my car and slip and slide my way to a job that someone else is welcome to.

“No need to make nice to that silly pompous bastard down the hall; no need to pretend interest in which team is going to the Super Bowl, or listen to the back-biting remarks that pass for conversation in the office.”

Me too. Nowadays, I'm learning to walk away when whatever it is isn't engaging, amusing or fulfilling anymore. That can be as simple as not finishing a book that doesn't grab me enough or as complex as leaving behind a person who causes more pain than companionship.

That doesn't mean there are no obligations. Only that I can choose them for myself now and, as Marc says, I no longer need to pretend to care when I don't.

I can't speak for you, but I know that until Marc mentioned it, I had not appreciated enough this gift of freedom that arrived unexpectedly with old age.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Chlele Gummer: Episode at Michael's

Three Generations Under One Roof

When I was kid growing up in Portland, Oregon during the post World War II era, it was not unusual for my friends to have a grandparent or two living with them.

Some of that elder generation were healthy, some needed care and I was accustomed, when I phoned to see if a friend could play, to hear that he or she had to stay home to help “care for gramps.”

In the decades since then, multiple generations in the same living space has become rare. One of the obvious manifestations of this is how tablet manufacturers commonly advertise their wi-fi products by showing how easy it is for grandparents to have video visits with the grandchildren who live hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Now, that may be changing.

According to a story at MarketWatch by Amy Hoak, more aging parents are moving in with their adult children:

”While much has been written about millennial children boomeranging back to live with their parents,” writes Ms. Hoak, “there’s another group of people who have been quietly doubling up: baby boomers and their own aging parents.

“And some expect this particular trend to hold even with an improving economy, as people live longer and require more care at the end of their lives.”

In an example of one family, Hoek explains that leaving their senior community to move in with their children freed up money to pay for live-in caregivers for the elder couple during the week.

The real-estate website Trulia has reported on an increase in the share of seniors living with relatives over the past 20 years.

Some of this, according to Trulia, is driven by the fact

”'...that more seniors today are foreign born, and that the average age of seniors has increased,' said Jed Kolko, Trulia’s chief economist. Today there are more 80-somethings than in the past, he said.

“'This is not a story about the housing bust. The increase of seniors living with relatives is a long-term demographic shift,' he said.

“Six percent of U.S.-born seniors live with relatives, while 25% of foreign-born seniors live with relatives. For those born in countries including India, Vietnam, Haiti and the Philippines, the share of seniors living with relatives is even higher than that, he added.”

Hoek notes that there has also been an recent increase in separate “in-law suites” in homes and my own research has noted a similar uptick in attached and detached “granny flats” to house families' eldest generation, along with changes in local ordinances to allow this kind of renovation and new construction.

One granny flat I have visited in my neck of the woods is free-standing, one- bedroom a few feet from the main house that is about 800 square feet. Before our visit, the owner cautioned me that it is small but that's a relative judgment.

This is a suburban area of mostly single family homes. Such a lovely living space in New York these days would rent for $6,000 or more a month.

Whatever the individual arrangements and for whatever reasons, a return to multi-generational homes seems like a win to me. It saves money, the parents and grandparents can help one another as time and need require, the children benefit from the love and devotion of their grandparents.

Certainly, conflicts would arise and need to be managed but with patience and kindness people who love one another should be able to work that out.

Who knows, if this idea catches on, perhaps in 50 years or so, your grandchildren will be telling people that when they were kids, they and plenty of their friends had grandparents lived with them. Just like me when I was growing up.

Do any of you have experience with kind of living yet? If not, do you think it would work for you and your family?

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Joyce Benedict: The Master's Touch

Old- and New-Fashioned Spelling

From the strong responses to my past posts (well, mostly rants), about the general decline of writing skills, I am assuming today that a lot of TGB readers care about proper spelling, grammar, punctuation, usage, etc.

It seems to me to become more evident every day that such concerns will die out with us, that a growing number of people who make their living with words no longer care and that includes some of the most prestigious publications - for example, The New York Times.

There was a time not so long ago that even simple typos were rarities in newspapers and magazines and hardly ever appeared in books. Of course, we all know that money-saving cutbacks account for many of those typos, misspellings and other language errors now that there are hardly any copy editors left.

The worst part of poor writing for you and me is how it mangles the information. Does that misplaced modifier refer to the subject or the object? It shouldn't be my job as a reader to stop my flow of information gathering to try to work that out but these days, that's how it it goes, apparently without concern on the parts of the writers and publications.

There are more dramatic language mistakes – nay, insults – that are becoming more acceptable. My personal bugaboo has been turning up way too frequently in the past couple of years.

Publicists regularly send me queries regarding books, movies, infographics, etc. along with scientific, medical, political and other kinds of reports that are relevant (well, sometimes) to growing old that they would like me to write about.

The most common problem for me is that the publicist is not familiar enough with the material to cogently explain it in the email message so that my choice is to root around online to see if I can find more information or just hit delete. Usually, it is the latter.

But that irritation has been almost routine for a long time. Now I am getting pitches, often from big-time public relations firms, that include some sentences that look like this:

"wud u b intrstd in intrvuing this writr?”

Text speak is becoming business speak and as my father and Jack Paar were each fond of saying, I kid you not.

Now and then I have been tempted to forward such messages to an officer of the company. But then I remind myself that, offended as I may be, it's not my job to police the language and it would be futile to try.

However, even with all this quacking of mine about lowered standards, I enjoy how the internet - where it's easy now to be on speaking terms, as it were, with website publications from around the world - is changing the English language and I how we relate to it.

As George Bernard Shaw (or Oscar Wilde or Winston Churchill – take your pick, no one knows) once said, “England and America are two countries separated by the same language.”

Here are examples that demonstrate some of the types of differences between English and American spelling (and Australia which most often sides with England) – Brit first, then American:


Spelling differences came to mind when I was preparing yesterday's post quoting Norma, who lives in Australia and used the spelling tyre that in the U.S. would be tire.

(Now here's a question for Norma or other British/Australians reading this: If you are talking about being fatigued instead of a wheel, is it still spelt(!) tyre?)

American punctuation, too, is often different from British/Australian which leaves the period off abbreviated titles so that although there is Mr., Mrs. and Dr. in the U.S., there is Mr, Mrs and Dr in England and Australia.

When Peter Tibbles first started writing the Sunday Elder Music column a few years ago, I had to decide whether to “correct” his Australian spelling and other usage. It was a no brainer: anyone in any country in the world can read this blog so of course, what is correct language use in Australia would remain in his columns.

What I like after 20-odd years of getting most of my information from the internet is that I am no longer surprised by alternate spellings. There was a time when “gaol” intrigued me in British writing.

When I encountered it, I often stopped for a moment to savor such a interesting configuration of letters to mean what I believe “jail” does. Now my eyes skip past it as quickly as if it were my native spelling.

Due to the internet, I suspect we will all become accustomed to differing spellings and other usages, and that English-speaking countries' language idiosyncrasies will gradually meld together. I've already begun to adopt a few British/Australian ways of language.

Awhile back, a reader (obviously American) took me to task for using the spelling “ageing” instead of “aging.” It was purposeful on my part that day. I have never liked “aging” - it looks to me like it has something to do with agriculture. The British “ageing" seems the better choice.

British spelling often keeps the final “e” when adding “ing” to words that American spelling does not. But the more I see that “e,” in British/Australian writing, the more it makes sense to me. So I've been using “ageing” lately – at least when I remember to do so.

Of course, it's perfectly all right for me to be creative with spelling that is correct in a couple of other well-known countries of the world. It's just not okay for young PR people to use text speak in business communications. Right?

(Wikipedia has a well-done article on the differences between U.S. and British/Australian spelling.)

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Antonia Albany: Love in Paris

Let's Take a Break From Ageing Stuff Today

This post has nothing to do with getting old, nothing at all. I need a day or two off from all that so here's some entertainment for you relevant to world affairs.

Don't you dare yawn. Please. You're gonna love this. You're even likely to laugh.

As you know, President Barack Obama has just returned from a week of high-level meetings in Asia culminating over the weekend in the annual gathering of the Group of 20, also known as just G20, (the organization of 19 industrial and emerging-market countries plus the European Union) held this year in Brisbane, Australia.

A couple of days ago, I received a chatty email from my Aussie friend, Norma – you know her (if you've been reading here for a while) as the assistant musicologist who contributes to Peter Tibbles' Sunday Elder Music column. You might also recall that not long ago Norma and Peter visited me here in the U.S. (and cooked up some wonderful meals for us).

Norma agreed to let me post part of her email about the local news leading up to the G20 summit. She tells it in the typically dry style of Aussie humor. As you read this, you might want to keep in mind the recent spree of Secret Service security lapses at America's own White House.

”Special security laws include bans around the venues on surfboards (??), whips & cattle-prods (fair enough, but do Brisbanites normally carry cattle-prods?), reptiles (don't take your crocs or tiger snakes out for their walks), tin cans, glass bottles, eggs (I wondered about taking groceries home from the supermarket, but it's OK if you're taking the eggs home to make an omelette – I hadn't thought of freezing them to use as projectiles until the police chief explained the rules).

“One of the $million bombproof limos, designed to withstand AK-47 fire and with nail-proof tyres, turned out not to be proof against rear-ending by a truck. Oops! A write-off!

“Not much discussion about Obama having 2 military helicopters flying over the city though. They did do a trial run landing at a rugby field near the venues.

“Brisbane is in a severe drought so the rugby field was bone-dry, and the dust thrown up by the chopper brought traffic to a standstill on the adjacent freeway. That's what I call a dry-run.”

Norma's recital of official silliness concluded by noting that in a much more sensible approach to security, German Chancellor Angela Merkel “took her bodyguards out for a pub-crawl to meet some locals and look for some German beer.”

All this reminded Norma of what she calls one of Australia's finest comedy moments and – oh boy, there is no way I could disagree. What you might want to know before you watch:

  • It was produced by and for The Chasers War on Everything, a satirical television show that was broadcast in Australia for three years until 2009
  • The show was controversial and some of the members were arrested now and then
  • This stunt took place in and around the APEC summit in Sydney in 2007, when George W. Bush was U.S. president and Osama bin Laden was still alive

According to Wikipedia, where you can read more about The Chasers War on Everything, two Chasers members, Chas Licciardello and Julian Morrow, were arrested with nine of their crew members on 6 September 2007 for – well, doing what you just watched in the video.

Due to the incompetence of the police, all charges were dropped the following year. Wikipedia has an extensive and exhaustive article about the stunt and its aftermath.

In today's messy, frightening world, we could use a lot more of this kind of humor. Thank you, Norma.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavitt: Over the Hill

Elders' Companion Pets

When I say I wish I could have stayed in bed, you know the kind of day I'm talking about – we all wind up there now and then. It happened to me last Thursday.

First thing, 5AM, Ollie the cat was obviously sick and in pain. Because his symptoms were not much different from what happened to one of my cats 40 years ago, I guessed it was a blocked urethra and eventually the veterinarian confirmed that amateur diagnosis.

But it was six hours until the appointment with her during which time, Ollie suffered, occasionally making the most amazing hooting sound that I assume means, “Damn, that hurts.”

Almost simultaneously, something went wrong with my left eye. There was an array of shimmering sparklies in front of it and because this was similar to a (minor) retinal problem I experience last year, I called the eye doctor. An appointment was arranged for a couple of hours following Ollie's vet appointment.

It was necessary for Ollie to spend the night at the veterinary clinic so I left him in their good hands and drove to the eye doctor.

(Did I mention this was the worst weather day of the season so far? The temperature hovered around freezing all day with sleet raining down thousands of tiny, little pieces of ice onto my windshield as I drove the slick streets to these errands?)

The shimmeries had disappeared by the time I saw the eye doctor. He made a thorough check and said all was fine so there was nothing to do but shrug. He told me that although there are other causes, it can be brought on by stress but such a manifestation doesn't usually happen to people my age.

Hmmph. The veterinarian had said to me, this rarely happens to cats as old as Ollie.

I don't know if there is any significance to those two statements coming back to back on the same day.

It was strange and a lonely to be in the house without Ollie. It may never have happened before; I might be wrong but I don't recall an overnight vet visit before.

I walked into the kitchen to give him dinner before I remembered he wasn't home. He wasn't there to pester me as usual about going to bed on his schedule and I woke a couple of times during the night wishing for his warm, heavy body leaning against my legs or back.

In the morning, I had to wake up on my own instead of that furry, little paw poking my cheek or forehead. I might have been relieved to sleep in past 5AM but I wasn't. I missed Ollie.

For some elders, their companion pets are the closest friends they have and Ollie is right up there with some of the humans I hold dear. Many different studies confirm that pet ownership contributes to healthier lives for elders. Among the advantages:

  • Pet owners suffer less long-term depression and greater levels of overall happiness than those without pets.
  • Pets are natural stress reducers, leading to decreased blood pressure, less muscle tension and a lower resting heart rate.
  • Persons 65 and older had 30 percent fewer doctor visits than those without pets.
  • Those who have suffered a heart attack or other major illness tend to recover quicker than those without pets.
  • Petting or cuddling with a pet has been found to be soothing and calming. Touch is essential for physical and emotional health.

(I wonder if the pets get similar benefits?)

Pets and old people are a natural and in recent years I have particularly advocated old pets for old people because elder cats and dogs are unlikely to be adopted otherwise. Should I outlive Ollie, I will look into that.

But Ollie's misfortune has revealed a strong impediment to elder pet ownership. When I retrieved him from the vet on Friday, I was presented with an $700 treatment bill (excuse me for a moment while I try to catch my breath again), down $300 from the original estimate.

I don't have that kind of money lying around and paying off the plastic will pretty well demolish my holidays. But at least I can handle it in the longer term. I know elders for whom paying off such an amount would be out of the question and this kind of pet expense is something that had not occurred to me when I've endorsed and promoted the advantages of pets for old people.

So I'll be more careful in the future about the possible expenses involved when I'm shooting off my mouth about what might be good for elders.

Meanwhile, Ollie is home, there is no more hooting and he is doing fine except for his annoyance – make that full-blown, claws-cocked rage – at the three-times-a-day pill regimen that will go on for the rest of the week.

Still, I'm glad he is on the mend and I'm also happy to be done with – to paraphrase Queen Elizabeth II – my diem horribilem last Thursday.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Carl Hansen: He Did Not Look Like a King

ELDER MUSIC: 1964 Again

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

What happened in 1964?

  • Tracy Chapman was born
  • The Olympic Games were held in Tokyo
  • The Rolling Stones released their first album
  • The Mavis Bramston Show premiered
  • BASIC programming language was released. It became a lot less basic over the years.
  • Dr Strangelove was released
  • Melbourne were premiers

There's a terrific quote (well, I think it is, others will probably disagree) from a book called Rock of Ages – History of Rock & Roll that says:

"[In 1964] whenever You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' came on the radio, it reduced, for its three minute span, The Supremes to little girls and The Beatles to fey pretenders.”

Couldn't put it better myself. Here are THE RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS with that song.

Righteous Brothers

♫ The Righteous Brothers - You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'

A couple of Brazilian composers, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, used to sit on an obscure stretch of beach in Rio de Janeiro and watch the girls go by. One was Helô Pinheiro, who'd walk by in her bikini pretty much every day. They wrote a song about her called The Girl From Ipanema.

Due to the success of the song, it is not an obscure stretch of beach any more. Many people have recorded the song, but the fist and best was by STAN GETZ and ASTRUD GILBERTO.

Stan Getz and Astrid Gilberto

♫ Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto - The Girl From Ipanema

Baby I Need Your Loving was THE FOUR TOPS first, but far from last, hit.

Four Tops

It was written by the distinguished Motown writing team of Holland, Dozier, Holland. They wrote this especially for the Tops after they saw them perform in a club in Detroit.

♫ The Four Tops - Baby I Need Your Loving

CHUCK BERRY was still making great music in 1964; he wasn't resting on his laurels (not yet, anyway).

Chuck Berry

The song is No Particular Place to Go. Keen-eared listeners will recognize the tune – Chuck recycled School Days for this one. It wasn't the only time he plagiarized himself.

♫ Chuck Berry - No Particular Place to Go

Walk on By was one of a bunch of songs that Burt Bacharach and Hal David wrote for DIONNE WARWICK.

Dionne Warwick

There was some kind of chemistry between the songwriters and the singer. Pretty much every song they wrote for her became a hit. Not just a hit but a fine piece of music as well.

♫ Dionne Warwick - Walk on By

The British invasion of the world's music was in full swing by 1964. One of those, not just along for the ride, but serious talents in their own right is THE KINKS.


They started out as a sort of proto-punk band and evolved into a serious contender with several of the finest songs of the sixties. This is one of the early ones, You Really Got Me.

♫ The Kinks - You Really Got Me

Another British group, but one you would never call punk is HERMAN'S HERMITS.

Hermans Hermits

The song I'm Into Something Good was recorded when singer Peter Noone was just 16. It's a Gerry Goffin and Carole King song first recorded by Earl-Jean (or Ethel McCrea to her folks), who had been the lead singer for The Cookies.

The Herms' producer heard it and thought it'd work for the group. He was right.

♫ Herman's Hermits - I'm Into Something Good

TERRY STAFFORD is yet another who sounds suspiciously like Elvis.

Terry Stafford

Not just his voice, but the song, Suspicion, was written for The King by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman. Terry got a hold of it a couple of years later and took it up the charts – Elvis's version was only on an album.

♫ Terry Stafford - Suspicion

My Guy was the last record MARY WELLS recorded at Motown records. She left for a better deal elsewhere. The move didn't quite turn out as she hoped as she didn't repeat her Motown success.

Mary Wells

Smokey Robinson wrote the song and produced the record. He later wrote My Girl, sort of an answer song that was big for The Temptations. The song hit number 1 everywhere and was Mary's shining moment.

♫ Mary Wells - My Guy

You have to expect a bit of trash in these columns and who better to supply it than THE TRASHMEN.


Their claim to fame is a little ditty called Surfin' Bird. Rather surprisingly they released half a dozen albums. I haven't heard any of them so I can't tell you what they're like. In the mean time, the bird is the word.

♫ The Trashmen - Surfin' Bird

You can find more music from 1964 here. 1965 will appear in two weeks' time.

INTERESTING STUFF – 15 November 2014


Too often comedians are among the worst offenders with age jokes that are mean rather than funny. As accomplished as they are otherwise, Jon Stewart and John Oliver regularly take aim at elders and although I don't know for certain, I doubt Bill Maher is pristine in that regard.

However, last Friday on his HBO show, Maher gave an righteous rant on ageism. Could it be that he feels a cold wind on his neck as he approaches 60? Whether or not, this is worth your time.


In such a modern age as ours, a people-powered barn raising is an amazing event to see. This took place in Ohio last May. Some information about the time lapse from the YouTube page:

”My husband, Scott Miller, shot this video...from 7:00am until 5:00pm and compressed the 10 hours into 3 minutes and 30 seconds.”


Most of us at this blog are long past child-bearing age and old enough to remember what life was like for women when abortion was illegal.

That was a terrible time for women and there are plenty of people trying to return us to that awful era but I had no idea how bad it has become. I'll quote at a bit more length that usual:

”Based on the belief that he had an obligation to give a fetus a chance for life, a judge in Washington, D.C., ordered a critically ill 27-year-old woman who was 26 weeks pregnant to undergo a cesarean section, which he understood might kill her. Neither the woman nor her baby survived.

“In Iowa, a pregnant woman who fell down a flight of stairs was reported to the police after seeking help at a hospital. She was arrested for 'attempted fetal homicide.'

“In Utah, a woman gave birth to twins; one was stillborn. Health care providers believed that the stillbirth was the result of the woman’s decision to delay having a caesarean. She was arrested on charges of fetal homicide.”

These are an outrage and are not isolated cases; there are hundreds of similar events. We must stop this fetal personhood nonsense. Learn more here.


Last Sunday marked the season's final episode of John Oliver's HBO show, Last Week Tonight.

It has turned out to be much more than the fine comedy we expect from Oliver: actual journalism of the sort hardly any “real” news organizations attempt these days is being done with enormous success. But they haven't forgotten inspired silliness too.

This, from last Sunday, is Oliver's Salmon Cannon. I dare you, even if you are sitting alone at your laptop, not to laugh out loud.


This segment was the meat of Oliver's season finale and you won't see better reporting anywhere on television (and even some print). I'm already eager for the show's return.


Flying cars have been a staple of science fiction TV shows and futurists' dreams for as long as I can remember – so far without success. Darlene Costner sent in a video of this proposed car/airplane. Take a look:

You can find out more about it at this website.


Some years ago, a group of people got together to document all the New Deal sites in California. But that wasn't enough for the hard-working volunteers:

”In late 2010, the Living New Deal was expanded to cover the whole country: to inventory, map, and publicize the achievements of the New Deal and its public works to all 50 states and outlying territories.”

The collection of information is astonishing. In my state alone, Oregon, there are 81 New Deal Projects each documented with photos, historical information and more. There are 781 in my previous state, New York.

You can find out about the entire project here and find your state's public works projects here.


TGB reader Joan McMullen sent this photo of little kids out trick-or-treating disguised as elders. The idea does not seem to be to use tiny old people to scare anyone and I think it's kind of cute. What do you think?



Another in our ongoing series of cute overload.

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

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

What the New Congress Means For Elders

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Ha! This started out to be a short, little warning about what's ahead for Social Security and Medicare and it somehow turned into a rambling political discourse. Sorry about that. The whole thing just got away from me and I ran out of time to fix it or even to clean it up a bit.]

It cannot have escaped your notice that the midterm election resulted in a Republican majority in the Senate.

This gives the entire Congress of the United States to the party that for the past several decades has been trying their damnedest to kill Social Security and Medicare or, failing that, cripple the programs by privatizing them.

In the nearly two weeks since the Republican win, I've been keeping my eye out to see what the political experts and knowledgeable reporters who regularly cover these beats expect from the Republican majority after it is sworn in in January.

The man who will become the new Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, spent the entire campaign avoiding any mention of Social Security and Medicare. Here is what the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM), an organization that has been fighting for these two programs for more than 30 years, had to say about that:

”However, House Speaker John Boehner has no problem laying out the GOP plan. There are no real surprises here, it’s basically the GOP/Ryan Budget version 4 (or 5, we’ve lost count) which has only avoided full passage because of the formerly Democrat-controlled Senate.

“As usual, lowering corporate tax rates while cutting Social Security and Medicare are items #1 and #2 of the GOP 5 point plan. Lower taxes for businesses, Couponcare for seniors and raising the retirement age for Social Security are now back on the table with the Republican-led Congress.”

In a story published Wednesday, Jonathan Weisman, Congressional reporter for The New York Times concurs:

”Congressional Republicans intend to present a plan to overhaul Medicare,” Weisman wrote, “calling for voucherlike 'premium supports' to steer people 65 and over into buying commercial health insurance, and to transform Medicaid, which would be cut and turned into block grants to state governments.

“They also intend to set up a new commission to study options on Social Security, while relying on what one House Republican aide called 'the solid foundation' of the Ryan budget plan.”

This will, of course, be proposed by Republicans – as it always is – in the name of budget and deficit control. But, whatever they try to tell us about the dire state of the budget this time, it just ain't so as Weismen notes:

”The deficit has fallen from $1.4 trillion in 2009 — or nearly 10 percent of the economy then — to $483 billion, or 2.8 percent of the economy, in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. Measured against the economy, the deficit is now below the average over the last 40 years..."

Which won't stop the Republicans from trying to cut as much from social services programs as possible to avoid reductions to the Pentagon budget.

Meanwhile, there is a movement to expand Social Security by providing earnings credits toward future Social Security benefits to people out of the workforce while caring for a family member.

As Social Security Works reports, The Social Security Caregiver Credit Act, sponsored by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), would institute [such] a credit.

In a recent survey by Lake Research Partners, reports Social Security Works,

“'More than two thirds of every demographic, political, and geographic group supported this proposal. 71% of women and 63% of men favor it, Pollster Celinda Lake said...”

Take a look at demographic chart from Lake Research. No meaningful number of likely voters (LV) opposes this legislation:


That's impressive. It's rare for such a large number of Americans to agree on one thing.

For years, Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is one of the few elected politicians who has been fighting the forces that would demolish Social Security and Medicare along with Medicaid, food stamps and every other social program you can name.

Now he has taken a first step toward running for president in 2016, as Robert Costa reported in the Washington Post a couple of days ago:

”Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has spent months fishing for a strategist to guide his potential 2016 presidential campaign. On Monday, he hooked a big one: Tad Devine, one of the Democratic Party’s leading consultants and a former high-level campaign aide to Al Gore, John Kerry, and Michael Dukakis.

“'If he runs, I’m going to help him,' Devine said in an interview. 'He is not only a longtime client but a friend. I believe he could deliver an enormously powerful message that the country is waiting to hear right now and do it in a way that succeeds.'”

With unlimited campaign wealth available to any candidate who will to cave to corporate interests (thanks to Citizens United), the country desperately needs a politician of such integrity as Senator Sanders.

It's easy to sit back and say he doesn't have a chance so why bother and, obviously, that attitude from too many voters becomes self-fulfilling prophecy. However, at bare minimum, a presidential run by Sanders guarantees that a great deal more than corporate platitudes must be attended through the campaign.

Hardly anyone stands up for elder interests in Congress. We need Senator Sanders to fight for Social Security and Medicare over the the Republican onslaught over the next two years and we might need him for president too.

This is a recent interview with Sanders from Bill Moyers. Here's my question: Why don't all politicians speak about the real lives of real people as Senator Sanders does?

(By the way, regarding the Richmond, California municipal election Chevron tried to buy that is discussed at the top of this video: the people - hurray! - defeated Chevron on 4 November.)

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Wendl Kornfeld: My Sweet Bird of Youth

Helen Mirren – An Advocate for Elder Women

Since it was announced more than two weeks ago, you are likely to be way ahead of me about this: on Monday 27 October, the French cosmetic company L'Oreal named 69-year-old actor Helen Mirren their latest spokesperson for the U.K.

This is not new territory for L'Oreal. In recent years, Charlotte Rampling, Diane Keaton and Jane Fonda have been among the famous older faces promoting the company's products. But as far as I can find out, none of them refused to allow Photoshopping of their images:

”Dame Helen Mirren has struck a blow for older women looking their age,” reported The Telegraph, "by insisting her image must not be re-touched when she signed as L’Oreal Paris’s new UK ambassador.”

Here's what she looked like in her first L'Oreal photo shoot:


Has she had cosmetic surgery? Some gossip websites say yes and she hinted not long ago that it is an option.

Because she's an actor, an appearance as youthful as possible is often required to be allowed to continue working. It's too bad that is so but Mirren has never taken herself very seriously, so I'm guessing she'll probably admit it if she does.

Certainly, she has never been coy about her age:

"'I've been telling everybody I'm 70 for the last two years,' she revealed [to The Express in September].

"'I knew I was getting near 70, so I just decided to say, “You know, I'm 70.” It's perfect for me, because I'm surprised that I'm not 70 already. Like, Wow, I'm only 69. That's fantastic!'"

There are few enough role models for elder women. Much of the time, as the stars we like age, they disappear, or so overdo the surgery they become unrecognizable and thereby pathetic.

And, too, there are hardly any good roles for aging actresses. So it's refreshing to have a fine actress, one many of us have admired for her elegance on screen and off, showing how attractive a 70-year-old woman can be and, perhaps, in doing so, helping to make it more acceptable for everyone to get old.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Clifford Rothband: Taking a Chance

Is Hillary Clinton Too Old to be President?

Kentucky Senator and 2016 presidential hopeful, Rand Paul, thinks so. Here is what he told Politico this week in an interview with Mike Allen:

“'I think all the polls show if [Senator Hillary Clinton] does run, she’ll win the Democrat nomination,' he said. 'But I don’t think it’s for certain. It’s a very taxing undertaking to go through. It’s a rigorous physical ordeal, I think, to be able to campaign for the presidency.'”

Oh, the arrogance of youth. Or, in Paul's case, 51-year-old "youth." He's old enough to know better - at least factually if not politically.

Recall that the age question came up in 2008 when Senator John McCain was the Republican nominee for president. A Pew poll [pdf] taken in September that year showed that nearly three-quarters of respondents believed his age was not an issue.


McCain was 72 on inauguration day 2009. Clinton, if elected, will be 69 when she is inaugurated in January 2017. And let us not forget that President Ronald Reagan was 69 in 1981 and 73 at his second inauguration in 1985.

I had some more to say about this with a couple of additional quotations about age, capabilities and presidents but as I write on Tuesday morning, the entire internet is so slow that I am waiting 30 seconds and even a full minute or more for every web page I need to load. Even page scrolling is on a long delay and I've lost my ability to tolerate it. So I'm done with online work for the day.

However, I'm sure you get the gist of what I'm saying so if the speed has improved in 24 hours, have a go in the comments with your thoughts on age, the presidency and Senator Paul's offensive swipe at Senator Clinton.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: Worry Wart

Choosing to Work After Age 80

A few weeks ago The New York Times published a splashy feature containing photo portraits and short interviews with a baker's dozen of people who have continued to work full speed into their ninth and tenth decades.

The long-time, former editor of Harper's magazine and now Lapham's Quarterly, Lewis Lapham, who wrote the introductory essay to “Old Masters,” is at 79 the junior member of the group.

Like most of the others, what keeps him going, he says, is continued interest and the pursuit of knowledge.

A few examples:

84-year-old filmmaker, Frederick Wiseman:
“I have a hard time recognizing that I’m 84, almost 85. I’m in complete denial, which I think is extremely useful. Of course from time to time I allow myself to be aware of it, but it’s not something that I dwell on. I like working. I work very intensely.”

84-year-old actor Christopher Plummer says staying in physical shape is crucial:
“And so is doing the work. It uplifts you...I think you’ve got to continue. We never retire. We shouldn’t retire. Not in our profession. There’s no such thing. We want to drop dead onstage. That would be a nice theatrical way to go.”

84-year-old author and illustrator, R.O. Blechman:
“Doing the work hasn’t changed. I’m the same guy I was 30, 40, 50 years ago. But I think I’m freer now. I think I’m better. It’s crazy. As it goes downhill, I’m going up.”

85-year-old architect Frank Gehry believes it is important to stay up to date:
“You stay in your time. You don’t go backward. I think if you relate to the time you’re in, you keep your eyes and ears open, read the paper, see what’s going on, stay curious about everything, you will automatically be in your time.”

86-year-old financier, T. Boone Pickens:
“I don’t consider myself to be this old. I just go to work like I did 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago. I work the same hours. I haven’t semiretired or slowed down.”

88-year-old singer Tony Bennett:
“Here I am at 88, and I still feel like I have an awful lot to learn, today and tomorrow and the next day and the next day. About my craft. About how to become a better artist. About coming up with creative ideas.”

91-year-old artist, Ellsworth Kelly:
“I’m in the studio everyday. I draw a lot. . . I chose plants because I knew I could draw plants forever. I want to work like nature works. I want to understand the growth of plants and the dead leaves falling. Oh, how I connect with that!

92-year-old actor Betty White:
“I just love to work — getting to connect with the audience, knowing that the camera is another friend in the room, and the fact that all the jokes don’t work but when they do it’s a great kick. So I keep saying yes instead of no.”

99-year-old artist, Carmen Herrera:
“I do it because I have to. I have my ideas. I do my drawings. I make my paintings. It’s my love of the straight line that keeps me going. This has not changed.”

As short as these interviews are – three or four questions each – what shouts aloud from the page is enthusiasm. Each one, in their answers, sounds as eager as a 25-year-old who just landed his dream job. They are, one and all, an inspiration as, undoubtedly, they are meant to be.

But as much as I appreciate their thoughts about the joys of keeping on keeping on, I became envious as I continued to read, envious that I was not allowed to continue the work that had kept me not just in food and shelter for five decades but as interested and involved as these people still are.

It is true that to the degree this blog fulfills some of the same kind of satisfactions I got from my career, I'm luckier than some. But it's not the same as continued employment.

The difference seems to be that if you are famous, renowned or rich, you will be paid to continue indefinitely the work you love. (What else is new) The rest of us get laid off often, these days, as early as age 50, 55 or 60.

Certainly there are plenty of people glad to be done with their working days who welcome retirement. But I know of plenty, many right here on this blog who, like me, would be ecstatic to be in the shoes of these celebrity workers.

But maybe that doesn't really matter. As I was getting wound up in this lament, I went back to re-read a piece of Lapham's introduction where he calls on Merlyn's speech to young King Arthur from T.H. White's Once and Future King:

“You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds.

“There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.”

Merlyn is, of course, correct and that's pretty much how I have kept going.

You can read all the Old Masters feature at The New York Times. The photographs are compelling too.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marcy Belson: The Last Road Trip