BOOMERBROADcast

Social commentary on life from a Boomer Broad's Perspective (aka Lynda's soapbox)


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And so it goes

keatonDiane Keaton is one of my favourite celebrities for a variety of reasons, the main one being her authenticity. (I once was amazed to find myself sharing an elevator with her at the old Four Seasons Hotel on Avenue Road in Toronto on my way to our company Christmas party.) I never miss attending her new movies as soon as they’re released. She’s had a few clunkers for sure but Annie Hall was her zenith. I’ve watched that movie so many times I can almost recite the dialogue from start to finish. Sadly, her latest movie And So It Goes co-starring Michael Douglas is, in my opinion, a clunker. Keaton’s movie characters always tend to be a variation of herself with her insecurities, unfulfilled ambitions and a wardrobe of soft cashmere sweaters and tailored blouses. And with Rob Reiner as producer and also playing a minor role in the movie I expected better.

And So It Goes is the story of a sleazy real estate agent played by Michael Douglas who was recently widowed and is selling his own multi-million dollar family home. He temporarily moves into a tired-looking rental unit in a waterside four-plex he owns until his own home sells and he’s ready to move to Vermont. Keaton plays a widow who lives in the adjoining unit. Douglas’ estranged, now-clean formerly-addicted son turns up unexpectedly with a 10-year-old daughter and wants Douglas’ character (who didn’t even know he had a granddaughter) to look after her while the son does a bit of jail time. Grumpiness ensues for Douglas followed by romance and ultimately a predictable happy ending. The dialogue was trite; the premise a bit silly and all in all not worthy of Keaton, Douglas or Reiner. Try harder next time, guys. We know you can do better.


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Birkies are back

Birkenstock sandals are a fashion favourite of many celebs including the Olsen twins.

Birkenstock sandals are a fashion favourite of many celebs including the Olsen twins.

All the fashion mags are currently featuring runway shows by big-name designers like Gucci with models wearing amped up Birkenstocks—yes, those comfortable earth-mother shoes once associated only with granola eaters and lesbians. My own reaction is when did they ever disappear? I’m reasonably cool and my Boomer girlfriends are über-cool and we’ve always loved to shop in the comfort of Birkenstocks, Mephistos or similar feet-friendly attire. We have about-town walking-out comfortable shoes and when our Birkies are past their prime they make great slippers for around the house.

Fitflops are available in Canada at Hudson's Bay and are on sale this week.

Fitflops are available in Canada at Hudson’s Bay and are on sale this week or you can Google them for other offers.

My own personal favourite brand is FitFlops™ which are designed in the U.K. They’re not cheap but I absolutely love them and over the past few years have accumulated six pairs. They caress and cushion the soles of your feet in all the right places and provide good arch support, an old-lady essential. Since I’ve been wearing them I’ve found it impossible to go out the door in anything but.  Despite having a closet full of fabulous shoes which are hardly ever worn, I keep defaulting to my trusty FitFlops. I can motor for miles in them without getting blisters, rubbing, burning or cramping.

FitFlops are my personal favourites and I have this style in black and beige.

FitFlops are my personal favourites and I have this style in black and beige, but I sure do like this red colour.

I highly suspect that Gucci, D&G and the other designers saw me and my trendsetter Boomer girlfriends out living life to the fullest in our comfies and figured they’d better jump on the bandwagon or miss out. As followers of fashion and a huge marketing demographic we can no longer be ignored. Hopefully it’s just a matter of time now until designers start releasing waistbands and dropping hem lengths too. We’re sick and tired of stupid fashions that cater only to the firm of flesh who weigh less than 100 lbs. and are 6 ft. tall.

Birkenstock sandals and FitFlops are both available in an almost unlimited number of colours, designs and materials.

Birkenstock sandals and FitFlops are both available in an almost unlimited number of colours, designs and materials.

In case you’re thinking about opting for the cheap knock-offs of Birkenstocks and similar brands, forget it. The quality just isn’t there and they don’t do the job. Our feet have to last us a few more decades yet and it’s not worth short-changing them. Amazon doesn’t yet carry foot transplants. Buy the real thing. Buy ‘em to fit and happy motoring.


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Feeling uninspired? Take a nap

thinking1Leah Eichler’s Women@Work column in Saturday’s Globe and Mail was a source of inspiration and affirmation better than most I’ve read in a while. Eichler maintains that we often get our best ideas when our brains are off-duty. Haven’t you ever been struck with a brilliant idea just as you’re about to drop off to sleep or when you’re walking the dog through the park? According to Eichler we should allow ourselves more down-time to allow these bursts of inspiration to emerge. Research has shown that we need quiet time for our brains to arrive at the state of zen conducive to new ideas.

It's all in there somewhere. I just have to create the right level of nothingness to let it out.

It’s all in there somewhere. I just have to create the right state of nothingness to let it out.

I agree wholeheartedly with this philosophy. For that reason, I keep a pad and pencil on my night table and another in the map pocket of my car so I can write down these flashes of genius when they happen, or at the next red light. Fortuntely I’m very good at zoning out. And to think teachers used to yell at us for not paying attention. Just think of all the earth-shattering discoveries and inventions they probably killed when we were daydreaming in school.

Multi-tasking and “busyness” are considered virtues in today’s world of 24/7 cell phones, e-mail and texting but these activities are ultimately counter-productive. Thomas Edison would regularly sit on his boat dock holding a fishing pole and line in the water, with no bait. He needed time to think. Bill Gates used to isolate himself at his cottage to free his mind for creativity. Gordon Lightfoot would check into a hotel and stay in his room for days to be free from distractions so he could write songs. And, Winston Churchill is well-known for his afternoon power naps that freed his mind from the stresses of trying to save the world from destruction.

This is my idea of being productive.

This is my idea of being productive.

When I was working, I always found the activity and noise inherent in daily office life to be distracting. My best ideas always came when I was doing some non-work-related activity. I needed my head to be free of clutter and my brain to be in a happy place to be truly productive.

So, with that in mind, please excuse me while I go take a nap. There are major world problems that need solving and I’m pretty sure I’m just on the cusp of finding the key to cold fusion—right after I summon up that Nobel-prize-worthy literature bubbling away in there somewhere. Maybe checking into a Four Seasons Hotel in Bali with the scent of fragrant blossoms and the sounds of surf outside my window would help. It certainly can’t hurt.


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Heather O’Neill bangs it home

saturdayWaiting more than two months to download Heather O’Neill’s new book, The Girl Who Was Saturday Night  from the library was worth the wait. I have a soft spot for Canadian authors and I enjoyed O’Neill’s debut novel Lullabies for Little Criminals enormously. She writes about the grittier side of life in Montreal, Quebec through the eyes of a young teenager in her first book and a 20-year-old in The Girl Who Was Saturday Night. The main character, Noushcka is the twin sister of Nicholas. They are the illegitimate children of a legendary 1970’s Québécois folksinger Étienne Tremblay and his one-night stand with a 14-year-old girl. The twins were abandoned at birth to their paternal grandparents who raised them in the rough Boulevard Saint-Laurent neighbourhood on the island in Montreal.

An English teacher would be impressed with O’Neill’s frequent and graphic use of similes and metaphors. Her descriptions of cats are sensitive and painterly, “A calico cat was sleeping on its back, like a girl in grey stockings with her skirt pulled up over her hips.” Twins Nouskcka and Nicholas were raised during their impressionable teenage years by their aging grandfather, Loulou on his own after the death of his wife. They drop out of school and despite Loulou’s best efforts they inevitably screw up.

Both twins are precocious and Noushcka in particular displays potential for rising above her circumstances. She is intelligent and is trying to earn a better education at night school so she can become a writer. Predictably, they hang around with the wrong people and get into trouble as a result of being irresponsible and emotionally immature. Like many twins, they share a special psychic bond and feel lost and diminished without the physical presence of the other twin. Emotionally immature Noushcka vacillates between displays of childishness and mature assessment.

As the children of an absentee father who is also a confirmed Separatist, both Noushcka and Nicholas have a strong interest in the political climate in Quebec. The fact that they have hardly ventured further than a few kilometers from their Boulevard Saint-Laurent neighbourhood helps explain their lack of perspective and their naivety. This aspect of their personalities reminded me of people I’ve met in the southern United States known as “crackers” who have often never set foot beyond 15 miles of where they were born. These people have a rather peculiar and innocent lack of knowledge and understanding about how real life functions beyond the confines of their own small community.

blueThe narrative of the book reminded me of two movies I rather enjoyed. In Blue Valentine with Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling, the lead characters fall into the same destructive behavioural patterns as Noushcka and Nicholas. The same fate awaited Drew Barrymore’s character in Riding in Cars With Boys.

ridingThe ending in The Girl Who Was Saturday Night caught me a bit off-guard but I’m not going to spoil it. You’ll have to read it and draw your own conclusions. The book is a clever, well-written description of contemporary life in a small corner of Montreal. I’d give it 8 out 10.

 

 


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Building what we want

"Still Mine" is about a New Brunswick couple's struggle to build their "final home".

“Still Mine” is about a New Brunswick couple’s struggle to build their “final home”.

As you may have noticed, I have strong opinions on the type of accommodation currently being offered to Baby Boomers as retirement living (read my earlier post Build it and Boomers will come). With this in mind, there’s a program running on HBO Canada on Monday night, July 28th called Still Mine which we Boomers might find interesting. It starts at 6:15 p.m. which is an odd time but if you’d rather watch the news (which is always a depressing experience) you can PVR it.


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Revealing secrets of the Paris Ritz Hotel

RitzWhen I originally downloaded the book Hotel on Place Vendome I thought it was historical fiction but once I started reading I discovered it was non-fiction which pleased me even more. Written and thoroughly  researched by Tilar J. Mazzeo, the book describes the opening of the world-famous hotel in Paris and its evolution from a modest, beautiful boutique hotel to the internationally-recognized institution it is today.

The main focus of the book centres around the years when it was occupied by the Germans during World War 2. Residents included Hermann Goering, who when he wasn’t living a drug-addicted lavish life in the Imperial Suite spent his time looting Paris of its precious works of art. Coco Chanel shared digs with her

Chanel was a permanent resident of the Ritz for most of her career.

Chanel was a permanent resident of the Ritz for most of her career.

German lover who was a high-ranking officer. After the war the couple fled to Austria where they lived for 10 years until his death. No satisfactory explanation has ever been given as to why Chanel did not suffer the same shameful fate as other collaborators. As the liberation of Paris approached in the summer of 1944, the German occupiers fled with as much confiscated artwork and antiques as they could manage.

The allied forces who took over Paris included new occupants at the Ritz Hotel such as Ernest Hemmingway, Ingrid Bergman and Marlene Dietrich. Petty disagreements over lovers, ego and accomplishments resulted and do not speak well of the individuals involved. While I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I thought it could have offered much more information and insight than it did. For that reason I’m giving it 7 out of 10.

 

 


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Imagine . . . if women ran the world

war1I’ve always maintained that if women ran the world there would be no war. I cannot imagine a woman possessing the surge of testosterone required to push the button that brought down the airliner over the Ukraine or firing missiles at our neighbours. We would never send our husbands, sons, brothers and lovers off to kill other people to gain a bit of dirt. We’d put the kettle on and solve our differences over a nice cup of tea and plate of brownies. That premise got me thinking about what else would be different in the world if it were run by women. Here are a few possibilities to contemplate:

  1. Governments would have balanced budgets and would be relatively debt-free, allowing for a minor misstep whenever summer shoes go on sale early. Federal budgets aren’t that different in principle from personal budgets. We wouldn’t need all those war toys to demonstrate how big our balls are. That money could be put to much better use for such things as daycare, healthcare and improved assistance for the truly poor.
  2. All males would be required to pee sitting down. Enough said.
  3. There would be no tailgating on the highways. Accidents would be greatly reduced with less speeding, lane-hopping and road-racing. Imagine how that would impact the insurance industry.imagine3
  4. Fighting in hockey would be strictly forbidden. It would return to being a game of skill and endurance.
  5. Those evil-minded Wall Street bankers would now be doing hard time and making restitution. Those who are left would have salaries and benefits capped, be required to do community service—and report to women.
  6. Health care for everyone in the United States and other countries around the world would be a right not a privilege enjoyed by the rich few.
  7. Low-heeled comfortable shoes would be considered objects of beauty.
  8. Useless calories and fat would be legislated out of all foods.
  9. Weight and waist-line issues would be a thing of the past (see Item 8 above).
  10. Older, mature women would be the most respected and revered members of our society for their wisdom, experience and inner beauty.
  11. Wine, chocolate and bread would be declared health foods and would have no adverse effects.
  12. Adult children would leave home at the age of 18 and stay gone, forever, be financially independent and live happily ever after.
  13. Affordable, convenient, quality daycare would be easily available for all parents.
  14. All electronic equipment such as computers, tablets, Smart Phones, cable and satellite remote controls would be simple to use even for beginners, be voice activated and do exactly what we want them to do, without complications, errors, breakdowns and tantrums.
  15. That unfortunate thing that happens to all women around the age of 48-50 would never transpire. We’d remain eternally wrinkle-free, slim, fit and dewey moist in all the right places, forever.imagine2

The possibilities are endless and intriguing. Imagine a world without wars, without borders (and the attendant customs duties), a world that is kind and nurturing, wise and wonderful. Many ancient societies were matriarchal including the early Egyptians and most indigenous people.  Let’s start by replacing Vladimir Putin with Elizabeth Warren as President of Russia.

John Lennon got it so right in his beautiful song, “Imagine”.  Bette Midler echoed it in “From a Distance“. There would be no hunger. There would be no child abuse, no rape, no oppression of individuals due to gender, faith, economic status or nationality. Just imagine. . .

 

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