INTERESTING STUFF – 10 August 2019

RECALLING THE IMPACT OF THE EARLIEST MOVIES

The Museum of Modern Art in New York City owns the footage in the video below and reminds us that in the late 1800s, when moving pictures were new, they were amazing to see:

“'[Today], We live in an environment where there are moving images constantly around us. But in 1897, this was startling and new and completely revolutionary”...Curator Dave Kehr joins the discussion to help us look at the early film with the same awe-inspired, expanded view of the world of its first audiences,” the YouTube page tells us.

Thank TGB reader Chuck Nyren for this.

WHY DID THE SALMON CROSS THE ROAD?

TGB reader Joan McMullen, who sent this video, says this happens on the Skokomish River near Shelton, Washington, USA. When the river floods, the salmon take short cuts swimming across the road to go upstream to spawn. It happens almost every year.

A commenter on the YouTube page tell us there are signs on the road to warn people: "Danger, Drive Slowly & Carefully, Fish Crossing the Road".

WHY DO WE SWEAR?

Nothing is more satisfying when I've banged my toe into something hard than a string of invective aimed at the gods who cause these things to happen.

As The Atlantic magazine explains on the YouTube page:

”Swear words are an important part of all languages. In English, words like 'shit', 'cock' and 'bastard' can be used as a curse or an insult and, let's face it, saying them can feel good. Scientists believe swearing has a special place in our brains. This film contains strong language. Obviously."
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MILLIONS OF BOOKS TO DOWNLOAD FOR FREE

According to Vice,

”Prior to 1964, books had a 28-year copyright term. Extending it required authors or publishers to send in a separate form, and lots of people didn’t end up doing that. Thanks to the efforts of the New York Public Library, many of those public domain books are now free online.”

You can download these books at websites like Hathi, Project Gutenberg, Standard Ebooks and, often, your local public library. And you can read more about those millions of free, public domain Ebooks at Vice.

WEAVING A BRIDGE IN Q’ESWACHAKA

Here is what the YouTube page tells us about this bridge. (Inka is the same as the spelling we are more accustomed to in the U.S., Inca.

”Every year, local communities on either side of the Apurimac River Canyon use traditional Inka engineering techniques to rebuild the Q'eswachaka Bridge. The old bridge is taken down and the new bridge is built in only three days. The bridge has been rebuilt in this same location continually since the time of the Inka.

“This video is narrated by John Ochsendorf, professor of civil engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and produced by Noonday Films.”

Can you imagine doing all that every damned year?

HOW THE ANIMAL KINGDON SLEEPS

From The Atlantic:

”Sleep is universal in the animal kingdom, but each species slumbers in a different — and often mysterious — way. Some animals snooze with half their brain, while others only sleep for two hours a day (without even suffering sleep deprivation!).

WONDERFUL CAT PHOTOS

Mental Floss tells us that Walter Chandoha, who died in January at age 98, spent a lifetime, 75 years, photographing domestic cats. Here is my favorite from 1955:

CatPhotosTeaseJPG

You can see more of Chandoha's cat photographs at Mental Floss. A book of his cat photos, Cats: Photographs 1942-2018, will be published on Monday, 12 August.

BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN RESCUE

TGB Reader Joan McMullen sent this video of Keller Laros removing a fish hook and line from a dolphin who apparently sought out the diver for help.

TEACHING A KID TO TELL TIME

It's an oldie but goodie from TGB reader Darlene Costner who says she thought she knew how to tell time just fine until watching this video from comedian Dave Allen explaining clocks and time to a young boy.

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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” at the top 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.




Old Age Really is Not for Sissies

For the past five or six weeks, I've been in a great deal of pain. It's been weird. My joints and various parts of my body ached – often enough to keep me from moving around much.

Getting out of bed and up from a chair was problematic. Not to mention funny if your humor, like mine, leans toward the grim and grotesque: I walked a lot like a crab for 10 to 15 minutes and was grateful there was no one here to see me.

A couple of times the pain was so awful the only comfort was to curl up in bed and weep.

The weird part is that the pain moved around my body. One day my ankles, knees, wrists and upper arms would hurt. The next day it would be my calves, neck, left knee and right wrist. And so on.

Even weirder, until one of my doctors asked me if I'd tried ibuprofen, a pain killer had not occurred to me. Okay, for a majority of my 78 years – 76, in fact, before my cancer was diagnosed - any painkillers in my cupboard were likely to have expired; I hardly ever needed them. Still, how stupid can one old woman be.

The painkillers worked in reducing the pain but not nearly enough to call it a solution. Anyone who's been where I was knows how exhausting constant pain is.

The reason we have such phrases as “one in a million” is that most of the time what happens to me, to you, to others is not singular. In a large number of areas of life, we can relate to one another because our own experiences (good and, in this case, not so good) parallel other people's.

That is the reason I feel okay writing about this – that and the large number of times I have read in the comments here that it helps to know “it” happens to others.

Young and old alike rag on old people for their “organ recitals”. As I think we have have discussed here in the past, there is value in doing this with people in our own circumstance, even when there is not a handy fix.

If we live long enough, there is a constellation of maladies that can afflict us. Pick one. Or two. Or more.

Mine, currently, are cancer and COPD. A couple of weeks ago, one of my physicians thought the drug in the inhaler I was using to help the COPD might be the pain culprit. He ordered an inhaler that uses a different class of drugs.

After a week of bureaucratic chitchat among my insurance provider, the pharmacy and doctor's office that was time-consuming for me and is mind-numbing to recount (so I won't), I finally got the new inhaler. It's a finicky little bugger that refuses to emit the medication sometimes (says the brochure) even if the user seems to have correctly followed the seven steps involved.

So far “sometimes” is an understatement since it happened on only the third day I used it. Printed in minute text, the instructions are nearly unreadable but I did find further notes and the final admonition to “Call your doctor for instructions” if this happens.

As I write this, I am awaiting a return call.

Here's the good news. Although I am still taking an over-the-counter painkiller, I can tell that the pain is diminishing by the day. I can get out of bed and up from a chair with only about 15 seconds of “crab walking” instead of 15 minutes.

As of two days ago, I can raise my arms above my head – important when reheating coffee in the microwave – for the first time in a month or more. What pains remain are not as fierce as in the past weeks.

It appears the doctor, who mentioned that he had never seen the pain side effect from that first inhaler before, pulled a Dr. House out of his hat for me.

It was decades ago that the actor Bette Davis who, in the space of less than a year was diagnosed with and underwent surgery for breast cancer followed in quick succession by several strokes, uttered her famous quip, “Old age ain't for sissies.”

As cogent as it is, it is way overused and I'm tired of hearing it for every hangnail. But these days, I sure do get the point.




Day Trippin' to Multnomah Falls

When I was a kid growing up in Portland, Oregon, a regular day trip was a drive to Multnomah Falls. Except for a lovely stone lodge with a good restaurant featuring local food, fish and wine it's almost as pristine it has been for thousands of years.

The Falls are about an hour's drive east from Portland and on Thursday last week, my new family – son Tom, his wife Kathy, their son Henry, Kathy's father Hank and I made the excursion that both Hank and I recall doing during our childhoods in Portland.

If you're new to this blog, you might not know that my son and I met via a DNA testing website about a year and a half ago. If you're interested, the story of how that came about is here.

No trip to Multnomah Falls is complete without a first stop in the Columbia River Gorge area at the Vista house.

Here is a short video (meant for bike riders but shows off the area nicely) which gives you a good idea of the woodsy area and Vista House high above the Columbia River with Washington state on the other side.

The Vista House has been on that promontory since 1918 and you can read about it here.

This is one of our photos, taken by Hank, outside the Vista House – me, Tom, Kathy and Henry. Hank's operating the camera phone.

TomKathyHenryMe

Before we get to Multnomah Falls, a recent history: In the late summer of 2017, the Eagle Creek forest fire threatened Multnomah Falls. Luckily, it escaped damage but not the scenic “old highway” that winds through a forest and had been closed for repairs after the fire. It reopened only a couple of months ago.

So we were happy to be able to visit again – Hank's and my separate memories of many family trips to Multnomah Falls when we were growing up guaranteed some nostalgia was involved for the two of us old folks.

Here are Kathy and Henry with part of the Falls behind them:

KathyHenryWaterfall

And here are Kathy, Henry and Hank in front of the Falls.

KathyHenryHankFalls

It was difficult for me to walk that day due to the pain problems I've been having so I didn't get as close to the falls as I like to, but the rest of the family did and I enjoyed them seeing it for the first time.

Then we had lunch at the lodge before heading home. It had been a beautiful, sunny day and it was lovely to spend it with my family.

Here's a short video Paras Suri made of Multnomah Falls early in the morning before visitors had arrived. It's the best video I've seen of it.

There is a Wikipedia page for Multnomah Falls and more practical information here.




A TGB READER STORY: Sexist Behavior in the Elderly Male

[EDITORIAL NOTE: The backlog of stories is getting short. If you are inclined to submit one, check the note at the bottom of this story.]

By Jack Handley

A while back, another old guy in my complex and I sat on my porch and drank a can of Rainier Ale, and wondered why we ever liked the stuff. He’s not a buddy but occasionally we sit and talk, but we tell each other tales because there’s not much we have in common.

He’s a good looking old fart. He’s bigger than me. And he’s a football nut while I hold that an NFL game is just a 200-minute advertisement interrupted by 60 minutes of football.

He can stay up late enough to watch Late Nite whatever, which surely demonstrates that we run on tracks of different gauge.

This time we talked, I got us both into a cranky mood by mentioning that the only televised sport I could watch, and one I don’t even like very much, was soccer.

He tried to be agreeable and admitted that hockey was gone for him because he couldn’t any longer follow the puck. And I said that wasn’t the fault of the TV producer but that, for instance, unwatchable baseball was.

See, the whole screen is full of the pitcher, who glares, scratches, spits, winds up and throws, and then you see another closeup of the batter swinging, then a far shot of the fly ball in the lights, and then a closeup traveling shot of the fielder running - and not a single view of the runner who was leading off second base, edging back ready to tap the base and run, or whatever the shortstop was doing according to his assessment of the play, which is how you get yours, as the viewer.

He let out a tolerant grunt and changed the topic to ladies. (We are too old to talk of women.) You know Peg? he asked.

That plump lady, who putters in the community garden? Lives in Chateau 3, I think?

Yes. It seems I offended her, she won’t even nod to me - hell, she looks the other way when we pass on the way to the trash bin.

Do you know what you did? Hah! I bet you said something insensitive.

I think I wrote something that offended her.

You wrote something? Hoo boy.

Well, couple weeks ago I stopped at the garden to pass the time of day with her and she asked could I carry some potted plants up to her balcony. So I did.

We chatted, perfectly normal. Did you know she is a teacher - she still works. I told her the old chestnut that you can’t misspell correctly and she laughed.

Then, a few days later my phone died and since I had been sick, I knew my daughter would think the worst if I didn’t answer the phone. So I went over to Peg’s and asked her if she would phone Susan and tell her I had to get a new phone.

So, she read the number off my phone and and called my daughter who didn’t answer and so Peg left a voice message and explained the situation and then gave her her number as my temporary emergency number.

Nice of her. Sounds okay, so far, I said.

Yeah. Well, then she said, let me put your number in my phone. I was going to put her number in mine, but I’m all thumbs with those little keys, and I sure didn’t want to stand there and do the old mumble, fumble, stumble, and spill.

Besides, I was sure Susan was sending a ‘Dad! call me!’ email so I told Peg that, and said I would come back later with my new phone and get her number.

I’m waiting for the interesting part.

Yeah. So, I went back a week or so later; it took me that long to get a new phone, and the number transferred - all that rigmarole - but she wasn’t there, so I left a note.

Ah.

All I wrote was, ‘hey, babe, can I have your number?’

You actually wrote “babe”?

Well, yes, I didn’t think anything of it at the time. I thought it was kind of humorous, you know - an old man who’s forgotten what it’s for, writing a simple note to lady old enough to be in senior housing. I didn’t write, hey babe let’s get together and get skinny, for Christ’s sake.

Perhaps that’s what she read, though.

Sheesh. You think?

Well, you said she’s a teacher. You’re old enough; remember parsing, diagramming sentences and such?

Doubt she is. That must’a been way before her time; she’s not our age.

Women always look way into things, you know: Husband: “Honey, when did you get that new blouse?” Wife: “Why, what’s wrong with it?”

Really?

I dunno. I don’t know anything about women, the ladies, the fair sex, whatever. If I did, do you think I’d be sitting here by myself?

He crushed his can. “Got anything a man can drink?”

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]




Small Pleasures Again

Every year or two, I write a post about the small pleasures in life. Maybe it's a good exercise in gratitude for me.

Mostly, the pleasures haven't changed much during the 15 years I've been producing this blog but with adjustments now for cancer, new ones come along and old ones are enhanced in their pleasure.

My number one small pleasure remains at the top of the list - a hot shower beating down on my back. I could stand there for hours, I think, except that after awhile I feel guilty about wasting water.

Many old people have stools to sit on while they shower and grab bars should be automatic tools in everyone's bathroom. But the bars are not always in the right place, and how many can you have.

So I've added a new procedure to my showers now that I'm not as sure on my feet as I once was: I make certain that my hand or elbow is always touching the wall. That's all it takes to keep me balanced – that, and not shutting my eyes.

Safety is important but it's that hot water streaming over me that I look forward to every day.

The murder of crows who frequently hang out in the parking lot of my apartment area. They squawk and yell and caw and I don't know if they're arguing with one another or screaming at me when I walk by, but they always give me a laugh.

Ice cream. For a couple of months, I've been off chemotherapy that disallowed cold food and drink, and I've been indulging myself any time I want.

In case you think cancer and/or chemo have no up side, I've learned from the nursing staff that they both use up energy and calories faster than healthy bodies. So it doesn't matter how much ice cream I eat; it keeps my weight up.

While we're talking about food, popcorn, in bed while watching a good movie. I like my popcorn with warmed maple syrup poured over it.

Speaking of movies, watching my all-time, favorite movie again: The Third Man. (With popcorn, of course.)

The mornings when I can get out of bed without pain. It's been going on for more than a month, it occurs arbitrarily and the doctors are working to find a cause. Meanwhile, I don't know, when I wake, if it will hurt to get up. When it doesn't – Hurray for the day!

The joy of reading a book you can't put down. It never gets old.

Driving on an old road where the trees have spread out and sunlight is filtered through the leaves. It's beautiful and for me, it is also calming. It makes me feel for a short while that everything is right with the world (when these days we know perfectly well it is not).

Sipping a nice wine over the remnants of dinner with friends while solving all the problems of the world.

I appreciate these and other small pleasures even more than in the past and maybe that is true for other elders. Cancer has limited my energy and stamina, I tire more easily and sometimes I hurt. But all these pleasures and others, too, remain.

What are your small pleasures?




ELDER MUSIC: Singing with B.B.

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.

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B.B. King

Another in the occasional "Singing With" series, this time it's B.B. KING. He hasn't sung with as many people as Willie Nelson, who is present today, but he's up there.

I imagine that everyone here (and many more who didn't make the cut today) would have jumped at the chance to perform with the blues master. I hope you like blues and soul because that’s what you’re getting today - with occasional jazz and gospel influences.

The most appropriate place to start is with the song Playin' with my Friends. On this one B.B. has the help of ROBERT CRAY.

RobertCray&BB1

Robert is one of the newish breed of blues artist who bring elements of soul, rock, jazz and gospel into their playing. He’s an excellent guitarist and a pretty good singer as well. Here he is playin’ with B.B.

♫ Playin' with my friends


BONNIE RAITT is one of the foremost blues guitarists of her generation.

Bonnie&BB1

She’s also a fine singer and here she gets to demonstrate both skills with B.B. doing the same on Baby I Love You.

♫ Baby I Love You


Apart from B.B., JOHN LEE HOOKER was probably the last of that early generation who made the trek from the southern states to Chicago and plugged in their guitars (so they could be heard above the generally raucous crowds).

JohnLeeHooker&BB3

His style of singing and playing is quite the opposite of B.B.’s, but as with everyone today they work well together. The song is You Shook Me.

♫ You Shook Me


Michael Bloomfield and Eric Clapton (and some others) introduced B.B. to an earlier mainstream, mainly rock, audience. U2 performed the same function for the next generation of listeners.

U2&BB2

Instead of B.B. influencing U2 to play the blues, they turn the tables and turn B.B. into a rocker with When Love Comes to Town.

♫ When Love Comes to Town


DIANE SCHUUR is a jazz singer and pianist.

DianeSchuur&BB3

She’s performed with many artists over the years, including Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Stan Getz, Alison Krause and many others. Today it’s B.B.’s turn. The song they perform is Spirit in the Dark. They sure get the spirit on this one.

♫ Spirit in the Dark


After that song, we all need to sit down and rest a while. To help us calm down we have WILLIE NELSON singing and playing with B.B.

Willie&BB4

We have two distinctive guitarists on this one, maybe the two most distinctive who have ever recorded. No one would mistake either of their playing for anyone else.

The same with their singing. The song they perform is Night Life, a song Willie wrote. Due to his straitened circumstances at the time, he had to sell the rights for a pittance, and it’s often credited to others, but it is Willie’s.

♫ Night Life


The song Hummingbird was written by Leon Russell, and he did a fine version of it. Around the same time, B.B. recorded it on his “Indianola Mississippi Seeds” album. Today he has the help of DIONNE WARWICK to sing it.

DionneWarwick17

This version is the equal of the previous two I mentioned. Maybe it’s the song – there are some songs where there is no bad version. This could be one of them.

♫ Hummingbird


Mac Rebennack, better known to most of us as DR JOHN, died recently.

DrJohn&BB1

Mac (or John or Doc or whomever) was another who liked performing with other people, so he’s a good fit in the column today. His style is quintessentially New Orleans, where he was born and bred. Of course, that includes a big dollop of the blues.

They perform There Must Be a Better World Somewhere. Unfortunately or fortunately, this world is all we have.

♫ There Must Be A Better World Somewhere


When I say that ERIC CLAPTON is up next, I imagine you'd expect a great blues jam with B.B., however, you'd be wrong.

Eric&BB2

Eric and B.B. recorded an album together called "Riding With The King" where they performed in all sorts of styles. The track I've chosen is the old standard Come Rain or Come Shine, not what you'd expect from these two. Of course, they turn it into a blues song.

Come Rain or Come Shine


Although he didn’t write it, The Thrill Is Gone became B.B.’s signature tune. He performed it in pretty much every concert he gave during the last several decades of his life. It has appeared on many albums, including “Deuces Wild” where he performed with a bunch of artists and is a valuable source of material today. One of those performers is TRACY CHAPMAN.

TracyChapman&BB1

Tracy first came to my notice with her terrific song, Fast Car, from the late eighties. She and B.B. do a great job with the song – it’d be hard not to.

The Thrill Is Gone


I’ll end with one of B.B.’s friends BOBBY BLAND.

BobbyBland&BB6

B.B. and Bobby often performed together and also made several records, both studio and “live” records. From one of the latter, a most appropriate song: Let the Good Times Roll.

♫ Let the Good Times Roll




INTERESTING STUFF – 3 August 2019

OLD COOTS GIVING ADVICE

As the YouTube page tells us:

”Every summer Saturday, a group of senior citizens in Salt Lake City take questions and give advice from a stand at the farmer's market. Under the banner 'Old Coots Giving Advice,' lines of locals form to glean wisdom from these old souls. Steve Hartman reports from 'On the Road.'”

Take a look, have a good laugh and thank TGB reader Ali for sending this.

GOOD NEWS: WILD TIGER POPULATION IN INDIA INCREASES

In 2006, according to an NPR report, there were only 1,411 tigers in the wild in India. In the latest census, in 2018, the population was up to 2,967 from 2,226 in 2014.

This was not an accident of nature. The government of India,

”After learning that there were a limited amount of tigers left in the world, India decided to strengthen the conservation of tigers in its country. In an effort to protect the endangered species, the National Tiger Conservation Authority was created...”

You can read more about how they did this at NPR. And here is a short, unrelated video from National Geographic about tigers.

MORE GOOD NEWS: ETHIOPIA PLANTS 350 MILLION TREES IN ONE WEEK

Yes, you read that correctly, 350 million trees in one week.

”The planting is part of a national 'green legacy' initiative to grow 4bn trees in the country this summer by encouraging every citizen to plant at least 40 seedlings,” reports The Guardian. “Public offices have reportedly been shut down in order for civil servants to take part.

“The project aims to tackle the effects of deforestation and climate change in the drought-prone country. According to the UN, Ethiopia’s forest coverage was just 4% in the 2000s, down from 35% a century earlier.”

That “4bn” in the first paragraph of the quotation, just in case anyone is unclear, means 4 BILLION trees and Ethiopia means to reach that goal in October. We in the U.S. and many other countries should be doing this too, right now, to help combat climate change.

You can read more at The Guardian, at Mother Nature Network and other places on the web.

SOME FAUNA WITH YOUR FLORA?

I have never bought packaged salad greens or any other fresh food packed in plastic. Being in an airtight container can't do anything good and it also makes the greens slimy. Here is my vindication:

The Washington Post has confirmed my conviction with this headline: “The other greens in your bagged lettuce: Frogs, snakes and lizards” - something that hadn't occurred to me:

”The first review by scientists of wild animals found by customers in prepackaged produce makes clear that frogs are the trouble, and bagged lettuce and spinach are, by and large, their preferred medium.

“While 21 of the 40 reported incursions under review involved amphibians, it is also the unfortunate case that rodents, snakes, lizards, birds and even a bat found their way into bagged lettuces, spinach and cut green beans (snakes, evidently, are partial to the latter).”

And they weren't even all dead: “eight frogs, a toad and a lizard were found alive in bagged greens.”

The paper expanded the story to include an interesting take on shaky definitions of “best by...” and “use by,,,” dates.

You can read more at the Washington Post.

THE IRISHMAN TRAILER

What I have found learned while reading about the upcoming Martin Scorcese film, The Irishman, is a new technique that is said to “de-age” old actors like the stars of this film, Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel, Joe Pesci and others, so they can play themselves from young men into old age.

The first trailer was released this week but it sure is playing fast and loose with that de-aging process so that we don't really get a chance to see what it looks like. See what you think:

You can read a bit more at Cnet.

THE BIRDMAN OF IDAHO

The YouTube page explains

”He just might be the biggest bluebird landlord in Idaho. Al Larson has built and placed more than 350 wooden nest boxes throughout the state’s southwest. The birdwatcher started the project in the late 1970s after reading how important the shelters are to the survival of bluebirds.

“Today, at the age of 97, he is still at it. Larson monitors the little houses to record vital data about the number of eggs and nestlings. To date, Larson has helped fledge over 40,000 bluebirds.”

If you want to know more about Al and his bluebird project, there is a 30 minute documentary made when he was 91. You'll find it here.

CHIEF MOUSER OF DOWNING STREET

Because this story is set in London, we should probably call the cat by his full, official title, “Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,” although his given name is simply Larry.

He lives at 10 Downing Street, adopted and brought there as a rescue cat in 2011 by then prime minister David Cameron to control the rodent population. Larry remained in residence through Teresa May's years in office and is still there for the new prime minister, Boris Johnson.

The chief mouser has his own Wikipedia page, and there is a list of five facts about Larry at Mental Floss.

* * *

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” at the top 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.




The Alex and Ronni Show and Some New Old Photos

Here is the most recent Alex and Ronni Show.

In the video above, Alex and I recall a midnight supper with counterculture satirist Paul Krassner who died last week. Not long after that meal, a friend from Alex's and my time in Houston in the mid-1960s came to visit us in New York City.

Karen Hirschfeld Hendley's parents became good friends and in 1970, and she – a teenager by then - flew to New York to visit us for awhile. Just last week, she tracked down these photos of me she took during her time in the Big Apple.

Ronni1970A680w

Ronni1970B680w

Ronni1970C680w

My god, to me now, I look impossibly young, although I was 29 that year. It's fun to have these photos after 49 years. Yes, I'm smoking a cigarette in the first photo and that's Shabbas the cat in the third photo.)




A TGB READER STORY: Minding My Own Business

By Fritzy Dean

I was meeting a friend for lunch and I was early so I decided to stop for a cup of coffee. The McDonald’s was crowded but it was on my way and I did find a place to sit - a small booth near the front door.

I was reading on my Kindle, minding my own business when a voice said, “Want some company?” Before I could say, “Not really”, a tiny neatly dressed woman sat down across from me.

She started by telling me that this was her regular seat. I understand that feeling of ownership. We humans love to claim our territory, so I smiled. I may have asked her if she lived nearby but I don’t remember saying much after that. This lady was a prolific talker.

Here are some of the things I learned:

She was 90 years old. (I was surprised. at that.)

She intended to go back home and iron. She HAD to iron because she could only wear cotton, everything else made her skin break out.

She did not like the “new fangled” clothes with a hem dipping down on one side and “hiking up on the other. OOPs, she will have an opinion when I stand up.)

She had to buy her clothes at thrift shops because cotton things are hard to find, and she had to iron because cotton wrinkles real bad.

She knows she is almost the last ironer left.

But she has to look presentable because she is a volunteer. (I tried to murmur “Good for you”, but I don’t think she heard.)

She has met all THE BIG SHOTS because of her volunteering.

She mentioned a local business man who does TV commercials, and that woman who used to be our mayor, (we have had two women mayors, but I never learned which one she met), the business man again and “ALL them big shots.”

She volunteers at “a place over on Fulton,” and teaches crocheting - mostly Mexican ladies, but they can learn. They catch on real quick, because she is a good teacher.

Then she goes to a senior center and volunteers to teach crafts. And she’s member of The Eagles, but she doesn’t attend very often any more 'cause all they want is her money. They money her to death.

Just like the ambulance people. She had to call the ambulance to take her to the hospital; she felt she was dying, but the doctors said it was bronchitis. When she got the bill for the ambulance ride it was $1,000!

She told them she could not pay that; she is on fixed income. They said she could pay $30.00 a month and she said, “no, she couldn’t” and they can harass her all they want to but you can’t get blood from a turnip.

And besides, she has called the City of Houston many times to tell them they need to get rid of the standing water on Heights Boulevard, right where she gets off the bus and that water is still there.

She rides the bus anywhere she wants to go; it’s free, you know, because she is 90 years old. One of the perks of getting old.

I had finished my coffee and I got up to leave. As I did, she got up, too, and moved to the other side of the table. Seems like I was sitting in her place, all along.

I kept thinking about the woman and the experience all that day. I had a mixed bag of impressions. I was really aware that at 90 she is sharp, lives alone, takes care of herself, seems to keep herself active.

I also felt she is lonely (she captured a total stranger to talk to), she worries about money and she has no one to call when she needs help - except 911.

I see her as an example of the best and the worst aspects of aging in America in the 21st century. Parts of me are inspired by her and want to emulate her. Parts of me are profoundly grateful I don’t have to. Getting old sure ain’t for sissies.

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]




This Week in TGB Land

I have more obligations than usual over the next several days so I'm taking some time off from the blog.

This, what you are reading now, is today's post. There will be a Tuesday Reader Story and on Wednesday, a short post with more pictures than words.

Publishing will resume to normal beginning with Saturday's Interesting Stuff.

I could just leave the days blank that I don't publish but given my cancer diagnosis that has been going on now for two years, I don't want to scare any readers by just disappearing. So when I do take time off, I'll let you know.

Just so you're not left completely empty-handed on a Monday morning, here is something sweet and comforting to clear your palette of last week's disgusting behavior in certain quarters of the federal government.

Raymond Crowe is an Australian entertainer described as a mime artist, magician and cabaret performer. His act also includes shadow play using only his hands and arms. This one is a tribute to Louis Armstrong from about 10 years ago:




ELDER MUSIC: Goffin and King

Goffin & King

GERRY GOFFIN AND CAROLE KING were one of the most successful song writing teams of the fifties and sixties. They managed to get more than 100 of their songs on the Billboard Top 100, which isn’t a bad effort in anyone’s language.

Carol Klein went to school with (later) fellow songwriter Neil Sedaka. They were a bit of an item for a while and he wrote his first hit, Oh Carol for her. Later she wrote an amusing answer song called, Oh Neil.

She began using the nom de plume Carole King and met budding songwriter Gerry Goffin in college. They started writing songs together and were soon married and became fixtures at the famous Brill Building, song-writing central in New York at the time. These are just a few of their songs, some of which I was surprised that they wrote.

THE BYRDS performed two Goffin and King songs on their album “The Notorious Byrd Brothers”.

Byrds

Both songs appear today, the second below by a different artist. When you talk about rock and roll harmony singing, there’s none better than The Byrds. This is a prime example, Goin' Back.

♫ The Byrds - Goin' Back


THE SHIRELLES don’t seem to be spoken of in the same league as The Supremes and The Ronettes, which is a real shame as I think they are up there with the best.

Shirelles

Apparently they had several hits before I noticed them with the song we have today. Will You Love Me Tomorrow reached number 1 pretty much everywhere that had hit parades.

It was ranked as the number 1 song of 1962. As a trivial aside, the flip side of the record was the song Boys, recorded by The Beatles a couple of years later.

♫ Shirelles - Will You Love Me Tomorrow


GENE MCDANIELS was a jazz singer who became successful singing a bunch of non-jazz songs.

Gene McDaniels

I didn’t know this at the time; I just thought he was a terrific singer. I hope his success meant that he was set up so he could do what he wanted to do. Getting back to those pop songs that hit the top of the charts, one of them was Point of No Return, written by our couple today, of course.

♫ Gene McDaniels - Point of No Return


I can’t think of any group from the late fifties, early sixties who were as good as THE DRIFTERS.

Drifters

Particularly during the rather short period when Ben E. King was singing lead for them, and incidentally writing songs for which he didn’t receive credit. They sang our couple’s songs as well, one of which is Up on the Roof.

♫ Drifters - Up On The Roof


Here is the other song, mentioned above, that was performed by The Byrds. I have to admit that I prefer The Byrds’ version, but DUSTY SPRINGFIELD does it pretty well too.

Dusty Springfield

Dusty was born Mary O’Brien and she first came to my notice as part of a folk group with her brother Dionysius O’Brien, who took the name Tom Springfield. They were joined by Tim Field initially, and later Mike Hurst and called themselves The Springfields. Dusty left and became a successful solo artist. One of her songs from that career is Wasn't Born to Follow.

♫ Dusty Springfield - Wasn't Born To Follow


BOBBY VEE was the recipient of quite a few of Gerry and Carole’s songs.

Bobby Vee

Bobby has always been lumped in with the early sixties pretty boy singers who were created by opportunistic record companies. I think he has more substance than he’s been given credit for. He mostly didn’t write his songs, but he was an astute chooser of them. One such is Take Good Care Of My Baby, a big hit for him.

♫ Bobby Vee - Take Good Care Of My Baby


Eva Boyd was a babysitter for Gerry and Carole. They had seen her dancing around and singing while performing her tasks and wrote a song for her. Friends of theirs said that was a really bad idea because while good singers are rather easy to come by, good babysitters are worth their weight in gold.

In spite of this advice, they went ahead anyway. The song was The Loco-Motion, and Eva recorded it under the name LITTLE EVA.

Little Eva

The song was later also recorded by Kylie Minogue, but Eva’s version is far superior to Kylie’s. Sorry Kylie.

♫ Little Eva - The Loco-Motion


Even when this next song was around, I thought that it was a bit creepy. After all these years I haven’t changed my opinion. You may be surprised to learn that the singer is STEVE LAWRENCE.

Steve Lawrence

Yes, he of Steve and Eydie fame. The song is Go Away Little Girl which sounds pretty good until you listen to the words. It was first recorded by Bobby Vee, which would make it slightly less creepy. Donny Osmond had a go at it later too. He’d have been about the right age.

♫ Steve Lawrence - Go Away Little Girl


Perhaps the song of which Carole and Gerry are most proud is (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman. That’s almost certainly because ARETHA FRANKLIN recorded it.

Aretha Franklin

Aretha nailed it and turned it into one of the finest records of the twentieth century. Nothing more needs to be said, here it is.

♫ Aretha Franklin - (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman


THE MONKEES don’t get any respect from critics of popular music.

Monkees

We know they were created by nefarious TV executives to cash in on the success of The Beatles. However, at least three of them were good musicians before they came together. They grew in that role to become quite a decent band in their own right.

Before that happened, they were given songs to perform from established song writers. One of those from our couple is Pleasant Valley Sunday.

♫ Monkees - Pleasant Valley Sunday


I imagine that pretty much everyone reading this knows that CAROLE KING herself recorded an album called “Tapestry”.

Carole King

This was hugely successful, one of the biggest selling albums of all time. Possibly as a result of that, she went on to have a career as a singer/songwriter (she and Gerry were divorced by then). However, before that, way back in 1962, she recorded a song that became a big hit for her.

Again, Bobby Vee first recorded it, and the record company was a bit dubious about releasing Carole’s version as she only recorded it as a demo for other artists. Don Kirshner (later producer of The Monkees) really liked it and had it released. The song is It Might As Well Rain Until September.

♫ Carole King - It Might As Well Rain Until September




INTERESTING STUFF – 27 July 2019

MR. ROGERS MOVIE TRAILER

Because I raised no children, the TV show, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, wasn't much on my radar but I watched it now and again. It was broadcast from 1968 to 2001.

Even in the earliest days of the show, I thought Mr. Rogers was an anachronism, a gentle, kindly, loving presence in the midst of a much cruder world. It felt to me that he was of another time and certainly moreso now.

His show was popular, won numerous awards and Mr. Rogers himself was named one of the 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time by TV Guide.

Now there is an upcoming feature film about Mr. Rogers who is played by Tom Hanks. Is that perfect casting, or what? Here's the trailer for the movie:

CALIFORNIA CONDORS COMEBACK

In 1987, there were only 22 wild condors left in North America. Conservationists and others stepped in to try to save the birds, breeding them in captivity and in May, they recorded the 1,000th chick born of this project.

Here is a short documentary (8 minutes or so) about the recovery of the California condor made by the Oregon Zoo and released five years ago. It's a good history of the work these did and others continue to do.

You can read more at the Washington Post.

A PERSONAL NOTE

Early last week, I received by mail the new book by the great historian, Robert Caro, titled Working.

I had read several reviews and the book came up in conversations with a number of people via email. I was thinking over whether to order it or not – there are already too many books here - then a British copy arrived via a bookseller affiliated with Amazon.

But – big but – there is no card telling me who is being so generous and the two people I actually recall emailing with about the book say they did not send it. Both the seller and Amazon, when I called, refused to tell me who sent it. Privacy issues, apparently.

So if you're reading this and you are the one who sent it, 'fess up please. I would like to send you a thank-you note.

WHEELCHAIR FOR DISABLED FISH

That headline is not a joke. A man built a flotation device that operates as a sort-of wheelchair for a goldfish. The video explains:

There is more about this at Bored Panda.

AUSTRALIA'S SCARY ANIMALS

We all know that Australia has some strange and scary animals but mostly we see the cuter ones – koalas, wombats, etc. Bored Panda published a whole bunch of photos of the awful kind of Australian animals. Here's a sample:

AustralianEarthWorm

SpiderOnMicrowave

HugeBug

Peter Tibbles, who writes the Sunday music column here and lives in Melbourne, tells me he hasn't run into many of the scary animals. You can see a lot more of them at Bored Panda.

ALTERNATIVE MATH

I may have posted this video a year or two ago but it has become more pertinent every day. This is one teacher's struggle to teach a young student and his parents the solution to a simple math problem everyone should know.

As the YouTube page asks: “See if the school and parental beliefs and attitudes remind you of someone.”

THE MAN WHO ROAD THE THUNDER

Here is an extraordinary adventure story, not in the good sense, about a U.S. Marine Corp pilot, William Rankin, who was forced to eject from his F8 Crusader 47,000 feet above Earth.

”He had a very bad day that summer of 1959 by any pilot’s standard as not only did his engine fail but his parachute deployed in the middle of the thunder storm.”

A NEW SPIN ON THE PHRASE, RESCUE DOG

I know I've seen this before but can't recall if I posted it. YouTube tells us:

”When a gust of wind blew a feather-light canoe away from the gravel bar and into the river, two dogs ran and jumped inside it. Labs will retrieve anything, but what's amazing here is that one of the dogs in the canoe takes the rope and places it over the side and into the water for the Labrador to grab ahold of.”

* * *

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” at the top 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.




Decoding Medical Bills

Medicare does a decent job of making their statements of what Medicare paid, what the a patient's supplemental coverage paid and what the patient him/herself may be billed. But that's mostly for people who are 65 and older.

I know that a lot of TGB readers haven't yet reached Medicare age and that non-Medicare medical bills can be nearly impossible to decipher. Now there is some help.

It's called Your Go-To Guide to Decode Medical Bills, a project of NPR and Kaiser Health News to create the “Bill of the Month”. It is

”...a crowdsourced investigative series in which we dissect and explain medical bills you send us. We have received nearly 2,000 submissions of outrageous and confusing medical bills from across the country.

“Each month we select one bill to thoroughly investigate, often resulting in the bill being resolved soon after the story is published.”

The fact that KHN/NPR can't possibly explain all the bills they receive led to this helpful series – a user-friendly toolkit, as they put it – to help patients understand “some of the ins and outs of medical billing.”

The first section of the most recent “Bill of the Month” contains checklists for what to do before seeking medical care; how to use an itemized bill; common mistakes that might be on your bill; and more.

BillOfTheMonth

There is also a glossary section with definitions of old familiars like copay. Some of them I'd never heard of such as Chargemaster, and apparently there is a difference between outpatient services and outpatient clinic. All explained in non-medical terms so people like me can understand.

You can find this latest in the free series at Kaiser Health News.

MEDICARE PART D
On Wednesday, Reuters reported that President Trump is considering an executive order

”...that would cut prices on virtually all branded prescription drugs sold to Medicare and other government programs, according to two industry sources who had discussions with the White House.
Further,
”The White House declined to comment,” reports Reuters, “and it was unclear how far along the any such plan was from being undertaken. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, also declined to comment.

“Americans pay the highest prices for prescription drugs in the world as most other developed nations have single-payer systems in which the government negotiates drug prices for its people.”

Since we have learned that the president changes his mind from hour to hour and even, sometimes denies having said things we all saw him say on the video tape, there is no way to tell how real this is. You can read more at Reuters.




M*A*S*H in Old Age

You may think a 40-odd-year-old TV show has nothing to do with growing old. I would have said that too until I took a new look at M*A*S*H, as a 78-year-old. Let me explain.

Before I settle down to sleep, I have now and then been watching a rerun of the 1970's sitcom M*A*S*H. They're short, 30 minutes, just the right length to take me out of the concerns of my day before falling off into limbo until morning.

The show had been a favorite when it was first broadcast way back when (1972-1983) and it is no less so now. It's great fun watching Hawkeye, BJ, Hot Lips, Klinger, Radar, Frank Burns, Trapper and all the rest of the cast again. Not to mention some of the best writing in the history of television.

Until this new viewing, I had not realized how much I identified – and still do - with Hawkeye.

The show specialized in my kind of gallows humor, and I don't get tired of Hawkeye's and Klinger's efforts to escape the horrors of a war neither of them believe in while tending to the often gruesome medical needs of the wounded and dying young soldiers.

The reason I'm writing about a TV show that's nearly half a century old is that it struck me a week or two ago that there is not much daylight between Hawkeye and me. Klinger too.

We each find ourselves in an impossible predicament over which we have little control and is likely to kill us at any time. North Korean bombs in the case of Hawkeye; a nasty disease in mine.

Of course, anyone's instinct is to get out of the way as fast as possible but both of us are trapped having to make the best of that predicament. Hawkeye resorts to women, pranks, mordant jokes, his beloved martinis conjured from homemade gin in the tent he shares with BJ along with a strong sense of decency and compassion.

My defenses include never pretending that my disease won't kill me, doing my best to follow my doctors' instructions, keeping myself honest about the cancer by writing about it here, some mordant jokes along with a strong sense of moral outrage aimed at the current U.S. administration.

What struck me a few nights ago after watching a M*A*S*H episode is that the sitcom is an excellent course in coping with dread in the face of Hawkeye's and my individual predicaments.

It is easy with a diagnosis of terminal cancer to feel despair, wishing even that the wait for the end be over soon. But after watching M*A*S*H, which I do two or three times a week, I feel empowered to persevere, that there are people I love I want to spend more time with, books to read and this blog where you, dear readers, allow me to hold forth on whatever crazy ideas I have.

No matter how discouraged Hawkeye and his M*A*S*H cohorts become, they rely on each other to keep going in frightening circumstances and do you think the writers and actors imagined that even 50 years later, they could inspire me to do the same in my own predicament.

Or, maybe you already know this and I am just a very slow learner.

As I was winding up writing this, I checked the web to see if anyone else had ever found such inspiration in the show. Lo, on exactly this day one year ago, Howard Fishman, writing in The New Yorker (how did I, a lifelong subscriber, miss it), was a year ahead of me.

The piece is titled, “What M*A*S*H Taught Us” and Fishman concludes:
“In 1968, the notion that our true enemy could be the callousness, hypocrisy, and small-minded ignorance of our own leaders was fashionable. Fifty years later, it’s become evergreen.”

Let's end with a fine monologue from Hawkeye, a eulogy when a nurse is killed by a landmine following a date with him, that is more explicit about the show's goals beyond exquisitely rendered entertainment.




A TGB READER STORY: Aaah, the Good Old Days

By Melissa Martin

I think that’s why some people like antique stores, flea markets, auctions, yard sales and eBay. Items from the past are attached to memories. We remember happy holidays along with what food was served, hairstyles and clothes of the era, television programs and music. Some hanker for the good old days.

The good old days had bad old days as well. Some memories are probably not accurate and are based on how each person remembers it.

But individual perception becomes our reality. It seems easy to remember only the good parts of the past and forget about the challenges and struggles. Just like the times we live in now, good days and bad days and in-between days. Each generation looks back on their good old days.

Some like to look back and reminisce about the good old days and others do not. “I don't do nostalgia. The phrase 'the good old days' never passes my lips,” writes Nicholas Haslam.

Maybe it’s an aging thing - the older I get the more I like to listen to and tell stories about yesteryears; the funny, cheery, and goofy memories. Stories are able to transport our mind back to another time and another place.

Philip Pullman declared, “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”

Aaah, the good old days. And the good old stories.

I met with my aunt and cousin for lunch recently. And of course, we got around to reminiscing about some of the humorous happenings during the good old days of childhood and beyond.

We laughed over grocery store stories. My mom and aunt piled the cousins into one vehicle and drove to town to stock up on food. The grocery carts would be crammed full of bargains.

Before being squashed into the car to go home, the moms opened a loaf of bread and slapped a slice of trail bologna on it (without condiments) and we ate lunch in the parking lot.

Then the two hurry-scurry sisters squeezed the kids in the car and packed grocery bags into the trunk and every crevice. Each kid held a bag of something with bags at their feet, over their heads and in-between each other.

“Don’t mash the bread!” yelled one mom. “Don’t you dare open that bag of cookies!” yelled the other mom.

“I don’t have enough room!” yelled one kid. “Move over!” yelled another one. And you hoped nobody passed gas, burped or picked their nose.

We rushed home before the frozen food had a chance to melt. And then the boxes, cans and cartons had to be separated. And again we heard, “Don’t mash that bread!” How many times did I hear that phrase growing up? Hundreds.

Aaah, the good old days.

My mom and aunt shopped at the secondhand shoe store in the downtown area. Pairs were different sizes - that’s why they were so cheap. The right shoe would be size 6 and the matching left shoe would be size 6 1/2 or 7. And searching through the boxes and bins of shoes was comical.

Buying shoes for a bunch of kids can be expensive. Nonetheless, our feet survived. And this story is one of my favorite narratives.

We tell stories about the times of yore with affectionate ears and eyes. And with chuckles. Any embarrassment has long since faded.

Every generation has their own hometown memories. Every family abounds with tall tales and embellished anecdotes. Homemade humor - that’s how some people made it through the good old days during the not so good times.

“Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days,” writes Doug Larson.


* * *

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]




How Many Mistakes Can Crabby Old Lady Make?

Prompted by some of your comments, last Friday evening Crabby Old Lady re-read that day's post and even being home alone, she cringed. Big time. She was appalled and embarrassed at what she had published.

In one 700-word essay, Crabby found a minimum of five glaring errors. Let her show you:

AS PUBLISHED: As I of write here, the few news stories about elders, a large number are about those, even 80 and older, who climb mountains, jump out of airplanes, run marathons and otherwise outdo even much younger people at physical challenges.

What a horrible mess. First, that “As I of write here” should be “As I OFTEN write here”.

The rest is much worse. Here is rewrite that is not wildly wonderful but not as terrible as the original: “the few news stories about elders emphasize age 80-plus people who climb mountains, jump out of airplanes, run marathons and...”

It doesn't end there. Here's another which, like the first example, is a twofer:

AS PUBLISHED: What important today is that In many cases it is not just a preference, it is all we are capable of. On Wednesday, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni, noting that “energy in an arc, and it bends over a lifetime toward depletion”, wrote...”

Where the hell is the “is” that should be second word? Worse, apparently Crabby typed the Frank Bruni quotation rather than copy and paste it so that part of the sentence should read, “noting that “energy IS an arc...”

(“Is” does seem to be a particular bete noire of Crabby's.)

Crabby always proof-reads her posts, sometimes more than once and she tries to do that after several hours have passed so that she comes to the copy with a relatively fresh eye. She often catches such errors as these but not this many at one go.

How did she miss them on Friday's story? Crabby has no idea.

When she first noticed all this on Friday, she thought to correct them but the post had been online most of the day and many people had read it so that didn't seem fair. Better to just let her errors stand.

What's amazing is how polite all of you, dear readers, are. Not one of you mentioned the mess Crabby made of a post she considered – and still does – one of the more important in her recent thinking about what it's like to grow old.

While Crabby was pondering all those errors – she found yet another in Saturday's post, in a headline: IS THE DUNNING-KRUGER EFFECT EXPLAIN THE WIDE SUPPORT OF TRUMP?

Obviously the first word should be DOES.

Crabby doesn't recall that she made very many of these sorts of errors throughout the years and decades before now. So is this some quirk of an old brain, do you think? Or could it be that the media emphasis on Alzheimer's stories and drug advertising for that terrible disease has a lot of us – Crabby Old Lady, for example – wondering if these mistakes are signs of incipient dementia.

Or...

And Crabby isn't sure she even found all the errors in that Friday post. If you find others, please let her know in the comments. Also, is any of this familiar to you? Not just writing, necessarily, but other small things that creep into daily living?

As we all discover in time, it's hard to get old but there doesn't seem to be anything to do but get a laugh out of the parts that we can and move on.




Classical Predilections 5

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.

* * *

Here is some more interesting and entertaining music.

MARIE JAËLL was born Marie Trautmann in Alsace and learned the piano when she was six.

Jaell Marie

She was only ten when she was admitted to the Paris Conservatory and within months she won first prize for piano. At 20 she married Alfred Jaëll, once a pupil of Chopin, and they performed together throughout Europe and Russia.

Marie also started writing music and getting it published. Her compositions weren’t just for piano, but covered the full range of music. An example of this is the third movement of her Concerto for Cello and Orchestra in F Major.

♫ Jaëll - Concerto for cello and orchestra in F Major (3)


I’m not a fan of FRANZ LISZT’s rather bombastic compositions, which seems to be most of them as far as I’m concerned.

Liszt

Check that picture, talk about the original rock star. Getting back to what I was saying, every now and then he came up with a beautiful, lyric piece and I have one of those today. It is Au lac de Wallenstadt (At Wallenstadt Lake). The pianist is Lazar Berman.

♫ Liszt - Au lac de Wallenstadt


NICOLÒ CORRADINI was an Italian composer of the early Baroque era.

Corradini

Not a great deal is known about him except that he was the organist of the Cremona Cathedral. He later became a Kapellmeister to a local noble who liked to put on music around town.

Nic wrote music suited to the times, mostly religious. What we have today is a motet called Spargite flores. It’s performed by BRUCE DICKEY, who plays the cornetto, which I know of as an ice cream, but in this context is an instrument totally unrelated to the modern cornet, as you’ll see below. Along for the ride is the soprano HANA BLAŽÍKOVÁ.

Bruce Dickey & Hana Blažíková5

Corradini - Spargite flores


FRIEDRICH KALKBRENNER was born in a carriage traveling between Kassel and Berlin and because of that it caused all sorts of problems registering his birth.

Kalkbrenner

But born he was. In spite of being German, he attended the Paris Conservatoire, and spent the rest of his life in France, mostly in Paris (well, who wouldn’t?) Although living mostly in the nineteenth century, he thought of himself as a throwback to the days of Haydn and Mozart, and he composed in the classical style, rather than the rather bombastic (to my ears) romantic that was the vogue at the time.

Besides being a composer, he was a teacher of piano and he made them as well. Getting back to his compositions, here is the third movement of the Piano Sextet in G major, Op. 58.

Kalkbrenner - Piano Sextet in G major Op. 58 (3)


IGNAZIO ALBERTINI lived in the middle of the seventeenth century. Iggy doesn’t seem to have stood still long enough to have his photo taken.

As far as we know he was born in Milan but the first real mention of him was in Vienna. It was in this city that he spent the rest of his life, all 41 years of it, as he was murdered in suspicious circumstances (stabbed by persons unknown).

All that’s known of his music is a collection of twelve sonatas for violin. This is one of them, his Sonata for Violin & Bass continuo in F major.

♫ Albertini - Sonata for violin & bass continuo


FLORENCE PRICE was born Florence Smith in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1887.

Price Florence

She was taught piano at a very young age and gave her first performance when she was only four and was publishing music when she was eleven. She was head of the music department at an Atlanta university where she married Thomas Price and they moved back to Little Rock.

After a number of nasty racial incidents in that city they decided to move to Chicago. After her divorce from Tom, Florence made ends meet by playing for silent films. She later won (monetary) prizes for some of her compositions, which helped a bit.

Florence was the first African-American woman to have a symphony performed by a major orchestra. A lot of her compositions were thought lost, but a large number have been found in an abandoned house in Illinois. One of those is Tropical Moon, from a series called “Dances in the Canebrakes.”

♫ Florence Price - Dances in the Canebrakes II. Tropical noon


Very little is known about NICOLA FIORENZA, who was from Naples.

Fiorenza Nicola

He was a cellist in the Neapolitan Royal Chapel Orchestra. Later he was up for a job as the head of the string section at the local conservatory. There were four in the running and they drew lots. Nic won.

It seems that he wasn’t the best teacher around – he used to beat his students and otherwise mistreat them – so he was eventually fired from that position. Only about 30 of his compositions are known to exist. One of those is his Cello Concerto in B-flat major. This is the second movement.

♫ Fiorenza - Cello Concerto in B-flat major (2)


GEORGES BIZET is best known for his operas (Pearl Fishers, Carmen and so on).

Bizet

However, that’s not all he wrote – there were symphonies, many compositions for piano, vocal works and so on. Here is the third movement of his Symphony in C. I must admit that it does sound as if it wouldn’t be out of place in an opera.

♫ Bizet - Symphony In C (3)


CHRISTOPH GLUCK was a German composer who specialized in French and Italian operas.

Gluck

Chris spent some time at university in Prague, but for a while after that he seemed to have vanished until he popped up in Vienna some years later. He traveled quite extensively: Italy, London, back to Prague and Paris.

He made radical changes to the prevalent opera style of the time – sort of left over from its Baroque origins – and turned it into the now familiar style. He spent some considerable time in Paris, but spat the dummy and returned to Vienna, where he remained for the rest of his life, when one of his operas received a poor reception.

From his most famous opera, Orfeo ed Euridice, Wq. 30, from Act 3 we have Orfeo singing “Che farò senza Euridice.” This is performed by countertenor PHILIPPE JAROUSSKY.

Philippe Jaroussky

♫ Gluck - Orfeo ed Euridice Wq. 30 Act 3 Che farò senza Euridice (Philippe Jaroussky)


JOSEPH EYBLER was born in Schwechat, which is near Vienna.

Eybler

His dad was in the music biz and the family was good friends with the Haydn family, indeed they were distantly related. It was through Joseph Haydn that he was introduced to Mozart, another of Haydn’s friends.

They got along famously, such that he was (eventually) asked by Mozart’s widow to complete Mozart’s unfinished Requiem. He thought that task was beyond him, but he did conduct that work (finished by Franz Sussmayr) some years later.

Alas, he suffered a stroke while he was doing that, but lived for another 13 years. He wrote about 250 works, one of which is the Clarinet Concerto in B-flat major, this is the third movement.

Eybler - Clarinet Concerto in B-flat major (3)




INTERESTING STUFF – 20 July 2019

THEIR FIRST PRIDE DAY

Some young people took two elders to their first Pride. After he watched the video on Twitter, Chris Evans says, he was sobbing. Me too. And maybe you. Thank my friends Jim Stone and John Gear for this.

THE BEST BAGUETTE IN PARIS

It's a toss-up whether I like baguettes or croissants more but either one, if made well, is better than other breads. Well, for me, anyway.

Here is a guy who won first prize in a 2018 contest for best baguette in Paris.

DEATH WITH DIGNITY FOR ANIMALS

As The Guardian tell us,

”Alexis has a life-threatening disease. She spends her time in the wooded expanse of northern Scotland where she takes care of dozens of others who are also sick, wounded or dying.

“Some have terminal cancer, some were about to be killed because of their disabilities, some were saved from slaughterhouses. Alexis provides palliative care for animals.”

Here is a video about Alexis and a neglected sheep she takes in. It is longer than I usually post – 15 minutes - but is peaceful and loving and uplifting.

You can read an article written by Alexa about her animal hospice here, and The Guardian story is here.

WOW! A JELLYFISH LARGER THAT A HUMAN

As reported in the Washington Post,

”Lizzie Daly was diving Saturday off the coast of Cornwall in Britain when she saw something large in the distance and did a double take. Daly had seen a barrel jellyfish before but nothing of this size.

“Daly, a biologist and broadcaster, swam up to the peach-colored creature gliding through the water, as cameraman Dan Abbott captured the encounter.

“'We weren’t expecting anything,' Daly said. 'It was an absolute delight to get that experience.'”

No kidding. Take a look at the video:

You can read more about the giant jellyfish encounter here.

”MY AMERICA”

Comedian Jeff Allen shares some thoughts on how America is a lot different today than when he (not to mention you and I) was a kid.

IS THE DUNNING-KRUGER EFFECT EXPLAIN THE WIDE SUPPORT OF TRUMP?

I'm no psychologist so I can't evaluate this explanation for the widespread support (35-40 percent) for Trump by the American people but I think Psychology Today might have a handle on it.

”The [Dunning-Kruger] effect is a type of cognitive bias, where people with little expertise or ability assume they have superior expertise or ability. This overestimation occurs as a result of the fact that they don’t have enough knowledge to know they don’t have enough knowledge.

“This simple but loopy concept has been demonstrated dozens of times in well-controlled psychology studies and in a variety of contexts. However, until now, the effect had not been studied in one of the most obvious and important realms: political knowledge.

“A new study published in the journal Political Psychology carried out by the political scientist Ian Anson at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, not only found that the Dunning-Kruger effect applies to politics, but it also appears to be exacerbated when partisan identities are made more salient.

“In other words, those who score low on political knowledge tend to overestimate their expertise even more when greater emphasis is placed on political affiliation.”

The fuller explanation is clear and easily understood. You can read it here. Thank TGB reader Naomi Dagen Bloom for the tip.

BIOLOGIST REVIVES RARE SPECIES OF BUTTERFLY

TGB reader Joan McCullen sent this one. What a good story about how a beautiful blue butterfly has escaped extinction thanks to one young biologist in California.

CAT ON THE GOLF COURSE

This video has been all over the web this week and sent to me by many readers (thank you). Cats are well known to be perverse. Maybe this one thinks the point of golf is to keep the ball OUT of the hole.

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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” at the top 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.




The Heroism of Elders

I didn't plan it this way but today's post has turned out to be the natural continuance of all this week's previous posts, my two and the Reader Story on Tuesday.

As I of write here, the few news stories about elders, a large number are about those, even 80 and older, who climb mountains, jump out of airplanes, run marathons and otherwise outdo even much younger people at physical challenges.

These super-achieving old people are always portrayed as heroic, as the ideal, and that the rest of us should be out there biking the brutal Tour de France or its equivalent.

The result is, of course, a not-so-subtle pressure for all elders to keep doing, keep achieving and push, push, push ourselves to be like 30- and 40-somethings until we're dead.

What those reporters, young 'uns themselves, don't know is that the old people they are interviewing are the aberration. A large majority of us are quite happy to stick closer to home and take our exercise, and our lives in general, in lighter form.

What important today is that In many cases it is not just a preference, it is all we are capable of. On Wednesday, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni, noting that “energy in an arc, and it bends over a lifetime toward depletion”, wrote

”I’m 54 now, and aging is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s also the greatest blessing that I’ve ever been given: I’m not just still around, but I also savor the wisdom of greater perspective and the freedom of letting many of the demands I once made of myself fall by the wayside.

“The hell of aging is limits. But that’s the heaven of it, too. Sometimes to have the parameters of your life shrink is to be unburdened of too many decisions and of indecision itself...” *

All true and it may be the first time I know of that a reporter wasn't giving us the usual “but...” about running at least a half marathon or starting a new business from scratch.

Those limits Bruni mentions? Whether a result of illness or “just” old age, they are impediments even to everyday, ordinary tasks as my most recent mystery malady has made clear.

Without going into detail, it is mostly joint and body pains that come and go and move around my body. An over-the-counter pain killer makes them mostly tolerable but leaves some everyday activities difficult to do.

I can't reach the microwave without a sharp pain in my arm. Getting in and out of bed produces shots of pain from neck to knees. Sometimes my hands hurt so much I can't hold the toothbrush. You get the idea and compared to some I know, I'm doing well.

Yet as difficult as it can be, most old people keep going. Maybe slower, maybe not getting out and about as frequently as they once did and taking more rest breaks but as much as possible, they are doing the things that need getting done along with the pleasures, old and new, they can accommodate.

As Frank Bruni understands, they can “...savor the wisdom of greater perspective and the freedom of letting many of the demands I once made of myself fall by the wayside.”

Yes. Old people know a lot about how unimportant are the things that once seemed crucial. And even as physical demands become more difficult, that “perspective” of which Bruni speaks comes into great play in old age, just when we need it most.

How lucky for us.

It is the patience, creativity and persistence of old people, largely without complaint, that allow them/us to adapt to the one thing that is constant in everyone's life: change. There is just more of it coming at us faster when we are old.

For all that, to me it is not the elder mountain climbers who are heroes to be held up as paragons of old age. It is the majority of old people, the millions who take the lemons life gives us and make the best lemonade we can in our individual circumstance.

They are the ones who deserve our hero worship and hurray to all of us.

* The Frank Bruni quotations are from his weekly, email newsletter which is not yet available online.




What Elders Really Want, and The Alex and Ronni Show

Every day, my email box fills with half a dozen, often more, newsletters urging me to do, do, do. (AARP and Next Avenue are particularly prolific at this.)

Walk 10,000 steps, they tell me, volunteer, get a part-time job, take a class, declutter my home and much more depending on what a new book or media star is recommending this week.

One important thing about these messages: I can't prove it of course, but I believe they are written by younger adults (let's call them pre-elders for now) who haven't a clue yet what old age is like.

This idea has been rolling around in my head for awhile now. I had intended to write about it but TGB reader Ann Burack-Weiss beat me to it in a TGB Reader Story that I published on Tuesday titled My Comfort Zone.

”You’d think they’d let up by the time you reach your 80s,” writes Ann. “That all you need do to keep yourself going is to keep yourself going. But no; everything you hear or read pushes you toward new horizons...

“Old folks are repeatedly told to heed the siren call of the untried that, from the beginning of time, has lured humans from their caves into the sun of enhanced existence...”

After giving a bunch of good reasons to reject this kind of thinking about elders, Ann concludes:

”So I’ll stay right here. Comforted by the familiar, buoyed by memories. Relaxing? Lolling? No, wallowing – that’s the word I’m looking for, wallowing, in my comfort zone.”

The comments on Ann's post, with only one demur as I write this on Tuesday, join me in enthusiastically supporting her point of view.

These days, I like being home. One trip per day out the door is about all I can tolerate now – to the grocery store, lunch with a friend, and in my particular case, doctor visits. I love it when friends come to my home for a visit. Home is my comfort zone and I “wallow” in the days I don't need to go somewhere – no matter what the pre-elders think I should be doing.

If you missed Ann's story yesterday, check it out.

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On The Alex and Ronni Show this week we covered a bunch of topics that are in the news this week. Alex emailed to say the picture freezes at some point but the audio is okay, then the video comes back. Sorry. As he says, "I'm getting to hate all technology."