BOOMERBROADcast

Enjoy, laugh, disagree or simply empathize with those who lived life in THE sixties and are now rockin' life in THEIR sixties, and beyond.


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Sharing the joy of reading


Not in my world.

I’m a voracious reader but not a fan of book clubs; I prefer to only read what I truly enjoy and not analyze the bejeezus out of it. Reminds me too much of all those painful high school English classes with Mr. Crowther asking “what did the author mean?”. Good grief! Who but the author really knows what he or she meant. I’m just in it for the fun of reading. I have an extensive spreadsheet summarizing books I want to read—recommendations picked up from friends, The New York Times or The Globe and Mail reviews, magazine reviews and other sources. My detailed ‘To read’ chart includes?

  1. the title of the recommended book
  2. author’s name
  3. a few words describing what the book is about
  4. who or where the recommendation came from
  5. the date when I actually read the book
  6. its rating on a scale of 1-10.

I have to keep track because as soon as I finish a book and move on to the next one, I’m challenged to remember what I just read (which explains why when I was in high school in the olden days, memorizing reams of material for exams was not my forté). Does this level of tracking sound a bit excessive? There are so many books I have to cover in the short time I have left on this earth and I’m not about to waste time on something that doesn’t totally engage me and lift me up.

And she lived happily ever after.

Reading is a cheap and effective way to vicariously travel to foreign countries, experience other cultures, eavesdrop on conversations between fascinating people, engage in a plot for the downfall of a corrupt individual or organization, fall in and out of love, learn about strange events or just simply learn something new, all in the comfort of my LaZgirl. As I said in an earlier blog, the best investment I never made was my library card. What a deal.

Like most bibliophiles, I love the feel, texture and even the smell of a lovely hard-copy old-fashioned linen-covered book, but I’m also a huge fan of e-reading. I’ve gone through many iterations of e-readers and settled on the iPad mini as being my favourite digital reading device. While I’m sitting in Five Guys scarfing down forbidden french fries and Diet Coke, I can hide my face in whatever book I’m currently engrossed in. And nothing beats several books downloaded onto an e-reader for convenience when traveling.

What I like and don’t like

Historical fiction is my favourite genre but I also like:

  • autobiographies and biographies
  • books by and about strong women
  • humour (who doesn’t love David Sedaris?)
  • classical Russian literature including Tolstoy, Chekov and Dostoyevsky (go figure??)
  • some of the current best-sellers.
  • I’m a big fan of Canadian and British female writers.

With all those options, I don’t have time for what I don’t absolutely love. If I start a book and don’t love it within the first couple of chapters, then it gets tossed. This means that many books that were commercially popular or acclaimed by the literary big-wigs did not pass muster. So, when I publish a book review on BOOMERBROADcast, you can be sure it’s a book I enjoyed. There are many books I’ve attempted (sometimes multiple times) to read without success and had to abandon for various reasons:

  • Anything by Ayn Rand. Really?
  • Alice Munro is a Canadian literary goddess. But I find her books boring and tedious. Sorry. Guess I’m just not smart enough.
  • Rachel Cusk also leaves me cold. I’ve tried her Transit Trilogy books three times now, without success.
  • I’m ambivalent about Margaret Atwood. I enjoyed her early writing and Alias Grace, but couldn’t get into her dystopian trips. Although I didn’t enjoy The Handmaid’s Tale when I first read it thirty years ago, I love the television series.
  • The Fifty Shades of Gray series did not make the cut. After the first few pages, I found the writing almost laughable. For those who did enjoy them, more power to you—you’re reading and enjoying yourself which is always a good thing.
  • Surrealism and sci-fi aren’t my thing so I couldn’t get past the first few pages of Harry Potter, anything by Tolkien, or the Twilight series. I’m obviously in the minority about Harry Potter but I did try and as soon as we landed on Track 13½, that was it for me. Moved on.
  • I’ve tried reading Zadie Smith without luck. After about fifty pages of NW I gave up but I may give her another try.
  • I’m very circumspect about anything recommended by Oprah as most of the books she recommends are just plain depressing. When she made a big fuss several years ago about The Secret by Rhonda Byrne I thought I’d give it a whirl because it was about positive thinking. Who couldn’t benefit from a bit of that? Most of the material was copped from other writers and mentors and I felt ripped off. Waste of time. Hated it.

Reading and writing are my two favourite activities, or more accurately, lack of activity. I’ll pick up greasy magazines in the waiting room while I’m getting my oil changed; I’m a magazine junkie. When I enter a bookstore or library I can feel my heartbeat accelerate as I’m confronted with all the marvels on those beautiful shelves. Cereal boxes, picture books, airline safety brochures—put it in front of me and I’ll give it a go. There’s nothing I enjoy more than being engrossed in a good book for hours at a stretch—one of the benefits of being retired.

My personal taste in reading is purely subjective, whittled down after years of trial and error. My friend Alice loves mysteries and fortunately the public library seems to have an endless supply so she’s all set for years to come. Valerie can’t resist a good self-help book and my father, at the age of 92 has just discovered Danielle Steele on his retirement home bookshelves and is enjoying her books. Most of my girlfriends enjoy the same kind of books I do so we trade books and titles constantly. Everyone has their own individual preference in reading material and if you enjoy the same kind of books I do, you probably enjoy my regular reviews. At least I hope you do. I’d love to hear suggestions from readers of BOOMERBROADcast in the “Comments” about books you’ve enjoyed. We’re probably on the same page so let’s share the wealth.


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Keep calm and carry on


Several years ago my husband and I toured the war rooms in the cellars beneath the Admiralty building in London, England. This underground bunker is where Winston Churchill, his generals and advisors spent time during WW II planning strategy and saving themselves from being bombed into oblivion. The tour was a fascinating experience with everything left exactly the way it was on May 5, 1945. The clocks stopped at 5:00 p.m. and cigarette butts still sit in the ashtrays. Seeing all the seemingly ancient telephones in different colours for different lines was odd when compared with today’s technology.

Several other things struck us as amusing. In addition to fake rats scattered throughout (for authenticity) there was only one functioning toilet in the entire complex and it was reserved for Mr. and Mrs. Churchill. The rest of the pit dwellers used large metal lidded cans like garbage cans that were emptied daily. (Don’t know what you had to do wrong to earn that job.) There were many quaint signs on the corridor walls including daily weather reports about the world above. People who were often entombed below ground for days or even weeks on end were supposedly uplifted by reading little blackboards that said “Fair and mild” and the famous “Keep Calm and Carry On”.

The cabinet war rooms in London, England. WW II’s answer to “safe space”.

Prime Minster Theresa May has her hands full these days. While not as challenged as Sir Winston Churchill, she’s had her share of stress with the killer B’s—Brexit, Bombings, Burning Buildings. She may want to consider retreating to that cozy little haven under the Admiralty building to regroup, strategize and escape the flak. It’s an environment free from parliamentary heckling, unhappy voters and bad British weather. And as a bonus, it’s bomb-proof.

The entire world seems to be under siege these days, whether home-grown or from foreign bullies. We have economic, political, social and environmental issues that seem insurmountable. Then there’s the NAFTA, NATO and immigration fiascos. We’ll try to “Keep calm and carry on”. .  and hope it gets better. War and conflict, whether military or economic leaves senseless casualties and is entirely preventable. Experience has proven, however, that we have to stand up to the bullies in order for good to prevail. I only hope our political leaders have the intestinal fortitude of Winston Churchill but somehow I’m not confident they do. Let’s hope diplomacy and cooperation prevail before it’s too late for this fragile world in which we live.

Maybe it’s time to call in the professionals.

Turning off the news and tuning out the noise is one way of constructing my own personal safe space but the problems persist. I’m thinking it might be a better idea to jet off to London, England and seek shelter in Churchill’s bunker. The phones don’t work in the bunker and there’s probably no cell signal or WiFi either. I’d be insulated from all the bad news and I know for a fact there is at least one working toilet. I’d have to download hundreds of books on to my iPad to fill the days. But the lack of sunshine could turn me into a very grumpy girl and no one would like that, so perhaps I’d better just soldier on in my own home in relatively safe Canada. Compared to the problems experienced by the rest of the world, there’s definitely no place like home. And there’s no place I’d rather be.

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Want to feel better about how you look?


You’re beautiful.

Who among us doesn’t look at magazines or at our own bodies in the privacy of bedroom mirrors or in retail store fitting rooms and wish we were thinner, taller or prettier. The media sets impossibly high standards for appearance and even though we know those pictures are extensively Photoshopped and otherwise altered, we can’t help feeling like we fall short. Well, we’re not short, fat or abnormal. Models are genetic freaks. We’re the normal ones. Here are some statistics that will make you feel a whole lot better about yourself:

  • Average height of Canadian women – 5 ft. 4 inches. Any woman over 5 ft. 10 inches tall is in the 97.6 height percentile. Now who’s the freak?
  • Average waist measurement for Canadian women – 35 inches. For American women it’s 37.5 inches. If you’ve ever seen the portions of nutritionally poor food they dish out in American restaurants you’ll understand why there’s a difference.
  • Average dress size – 14. For American women it’s 16-18. Are you listening retail corporate buyers?
  • Naturally blonde hair and blue eyes are genetically carried by only 17 percent of the population. Most Canadians and Americans carry the dominant brown-eyed gene with recessive blue-eyed genes declining each year.
  • Fully 90 percent of women have cellulite—including models and celebrities. It’s the product of female estrogen and cannot be eradicated. This becomes particularly evident once we are no longer teenagers.

Magazines and other forms of media have finally recognized that no one can relate to the genetic mutants featured in fashion and beauty ads. We’re now seeing mature models like Maye Musk and women with normal-sized bodies being featured in media. While it’s tempting to scream “too little, too late” we have to take whatever we can get in the battle to change perceptions of beauty. We’ve achieved a tiny slice of recognition and if we keep the pressure on advertisers and manufacturers we can turn the tide.

The challenge now is to listen to my own advice. Every time I’m tempted to be critical of some aspect of my appearance, I’ll remind myself of how blessed I really am. I’m alive. I’m healthy. I’m happy. That’s more than enough and more than many people can claim to have. You’re beautiful girlfriend and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.


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Who cares if it’s swimsuit season . . . again?


Seriously??

Many years ago I read about a magazine editor who quit her job at a high-profile international women’s magazine because she just couldn’t face overseeing another annual swimsuit edition. I know how she must have felt because I can’t face another swimsuit season either. All the current magazines are full of tips on how to match a bathing suit to our individual figure types, how to look our best and feel confident. Pages and pages in the fashion mags have been dedicated to the latest swimsuit styles. The tropical patterns and colours are yummy and some of those scraps of fabric cost hundreds of dollars. The Photoshopped models look gorgeous. The reality is grim.

I’ll admit some styles are infinitely more flattering than others, but let’s face it, we’re never ever going to resemble anything close to those pubescent nymphets modelling the various styles featured in the magazine spreads. In fact, most boomers are even reluctant to go out in public in shorts much less a bathing suit. Those with cottages or winter homes in Florida can’t avoid donning a swimsuit occasionally but they’re usually hidden under diaphanous lightweight cover ups when we’re not actually under water.

I’ll have what she’s wearing!

It is virtually impossible for swimsuit designs to overcome what makes so many boomer broads self-conscious about beach wear. No amount of underpinning, tummy panels, supportive straps or bum tuckers will compensate for what nature has bestowed upon us after many decades of living our lives. By the time we’ve tried on dozens of unflattering designs in cramped fitting rooms with unflattering fluorescent lighting, cried a river, paid our dues at Weight Watchers, spray tanned our cellulite and waxed our lady parts to an unsightly, red rash, we’re fed up with the entire exercise. Sure, they tell us to feel good about ourselves regardless of our body shape—easy to say when you’re in your twenties or thirties. I sympathize with that fed-up magazine editor. This summer you’ll find me sitting in the shade and privacy of my back-yard gazebo, wearing elastic-waist shorts and a tee shirt, reading the latest New York Times’ best seller on my iPad mini. The beach is no longer my thing and even if it were, give me a birkini any day.

You’re beautiful mes très chères.


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The irony of drug marketing


The late Anthony Bourdain.

Last night I watched a series of programs about Anthony Bourdain on Gusto TV. During one episode in particular he spoke honestly about his entry into the world drug abuse, heroin in particular. He sat with a group of recovering addicts in Greenwood, a small town in Massachusetts plagued with the problems associated with opioid abuse. A local doctor explained how doctors freely prescribed Oxycontin and other pain-killers for everyday problems like sports injuries, getting wisdom teeth removed and back pain because the drug companies assured the doctors the meds were not addictive. When patients can no longer get legal pain-killers, they resort to street drugs and heroin. It’s a problem no longer limited to big city slums. Small towns are now victims of big-city drug abuse problems.

Nearly very commercial aired during this hour-long show was by a major pharmaceutical company promoting an assortment of remedies for real or imagined ailments. ‘Just ask your doctor’, followed by an exhaustive list of qualifiers. If you’ve ever watched television in the United States (not U.S. stations in Canada with substituted Canadian commercials) you’ll know what I’m talking about. I’ve counted up to 13 drug ads in a commercial break with 15 commercials on American television. Just an observation.


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Here’s how to win an election


The promises that accompany every election campaign are piling up. The provincial Liberals are promising universal child care and increasing debt/deficit. They’re trying desperately to cover up the great smoldering pile of doo-doo they’ve created over the last few years.  NDP’ers say they’ll take back Ontario Hydro, as if it’s not enough of a joke already in business management case study circles. They’re also promising free drugs and better healthcare (that mean free facelifts?) for everyone. The Conservatives are going to give us the subway and public transit system of our dreams, but with absolutely no fiscal accountability. Just like Trump promised a wall between the United States and Mexico and to reopen the mines in West Virginia, or the Labour Party in U.K. promised Brexit, the political rhetoric and hollow promises are flying.

One thing is guaranteed about election promises. They’re all lies. Bait to lure in gullible voters. Why do politicians keep doing it to us? Worse still, why do we keep falling for it? We’re not stupid. Right-wing Americans fell for it big-time, to their everlasting peril. Britons are now questioning their choices. Canadians are left to cope with the unfortunate shortcomings of Trudeau’s hollow election promises and growing debt/deficits and Ontarians are wondering how in hell we’re going to make a decision among three disastrous parties running for election, four if we factor in the impotent Green Party. It baffles me how political parties can be so phenomenally inept at representing the best interests of the people.

The only blessing in this cesspool is that our election campaigns have a time limit of a few weeks, unlike in the United States where the agony never ends. We should be thankful we live in a democracy where we have free elections but the politicians treat voters like idiots and corporate lobbying makes a joke of the laws they enact. Let’s be clear on one thing: politicians are in it for their own personal interests not in service to the people. After a mere six years sitting part-time on those comfy seats in parliament, members of parliament get full, pork-barrelled pensions for life. Who in real life gets benefits like that? Don’t raise your kids to be doctors; being an MP or MPP is the best gig going. And don’t even get me started on The Senate.

Economic disaster, social disaster or track-record of disaster? Take ‘yer pick.

We’re now getting down to the nitty-gritty in the Ontario election campaign. The personal insults and hollow promises are flying like confetti at a wedding. Whoever makes the most outrageous promises in sucking up to voters will probably win. And don’t forget—all that cash they keep promising to buy our favour with is our hard-earned money that we pay through taxes. Government money is not fairy dust; it’s mine and yours.

Keeping those promises will inevitably be pushed aside by the winning party as “things were worse than we were led to believe” or “the situation has changed so we’ve had to adjust our position”. The rhetoric is so predictable. As a concerned citizen I’m frustrated and angry. I’ll definitely be voting, because, tempting as it is, a protest vote is useless. I’ve made up my mind about which of the incompetents I’ll go with but as a proud Canadian and a conscientious citizen I’m not a happy voter. But who cares? After all, we just pay the bills!


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Are you ready for online dating?


When I received a request through my blog to review a how-to book about online dating, I couldn’t resist. Author Gail Karpus who wrote Fast Track to Romance, An exclusive online dating guide for the mature woman chalked up an astonishing 500 online dates in her quest to meet Mr. Right. She’s the high priestess of online dating. By the time online dating became part of the scene I was on my second husband but I have many friends who have online dated and it’s an undertaking that requires patience, skill and emotional stamina. Some friends’ dates went so well they got married; others, well, they’re still searching.

Meeting eligible men when you’re post-menopausal comes with a special set of challenges. Fortunately, we’ve probably already made our share of bad choices and gained a lot of experience over the years. While we’re now able to put less emphasis on superficial qualities like guys being cute, we’re now searching for more important criteria, like a good RRSP and being a genuinely good person. One of our major concerns is avoiding men looking for the proverbial nurse or a purse. No one wants to be a sugar momma to a ne-er-do-well and we also don’t want to be saddled with someone who’s only looking for the services of a free live-in housekeeper and caregiver.

Gail Karpus’s advice is honest and enlightening. She lays the groundwork for the online dating scene in the early chapters of the book with the information building in validity and intensity as we get further into the book. At 152 pages it’s a fast read and chock full of good advice. I didn’t agree with absolutely everything she said, but as a non-dater what do I know. Ninety-eight percent of it was truly valuable and sponge-worthy. The overriding message is, “You need to go out and get it! It won’t just come to you.” That requires a plan and some ground work. That was always my advice to women in business as well. Raises and promotions don’t necessarily appear without marketing yourself and lobbying on your own behalf. By taking the advice of Karpus, a seasoned dater, you can save a lot of time and energy. Her goal is to “fast-track” you along the path to happily ever after.

The book includes chapters on preparing yourself physically and mentally, how to construct your online profile, how to read and assess potential ‘meets’, protocols for first, second and third dates, how to cut him lose or reel him in, sorting the wheat from the chaff, the benefits of tracking dates on a spreadsheet (yikes!), watching for and recognizing red flags and many other aspects of dating as a mature woman. Karpus writes honestly and with humour, describing many of her own experiences in a voice that readers can relate to. Every contingency is covered and upon finishing Fast Track to Romance readers will feel more comfortable and confident about proceeding with online dating. I’d rate it 8 out of 10.

To order a copy of Fast Track to Romance from Amazon, click here.