BOOMERBROADcast

The voice of baby boomers, the silenced majority. Rants and reflections on lifestyle, fashion, current events, books and movies.


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Murphy Brown puts baby boomers back in prime time


She’s baaaack!

It’s been a long time since we watched Murphy Brown who personified what so many working boomer women aspired to be. We loved and admired her intelligence, her tenacity and her integrity. We all wished we had her wardrobe and empathized when she couldn’t get a date. She made sure people listened to what she had to say and helped raise awareness of what women were trying to say that was being ignored.

The Globe and Mail’s John Doyle nailed what the new and improved version of Murphy Brown will deliver: “Men don’t get it. Women experience the reality of the workplace, social life and social media differently from men.” Think of the travesty of the Judge Clarence Thomas hearings twenty years ago. Old, white, male senators asked Anita Hill horribly sexist, inappropriate questions that would never be asked of a man. She responded with dignity but in today’s #metoo world, I’d like to think they’d be boo’d, hissed and voted out of their comfy seats for their insensitivity and stupidity. Sadly, much of that attitude still lingers.

And most of the original cast is back too.

Back to Murphy Brown. For purely selfish reasons, I’m thrilled to see baby boomers getting some air time once again. And Candice Bergen represents us so well. More than two decades after her heyday on FYI, Murphy Brown still looks great but she’s no longer young. Unlike all the toned, blonde, surgically enhanced Barbies in sleeveless sheath dresses on most television news shows today, she’s rounder and more seasoned-looking. We won’t be seeing any of those cute little suits with cinched belts and short skirts she wore so well in FYI’s earlier incarnation and we’re more than fine with that. Boomer gals can certainly relate to the effects of time on waistlines and necks. And I must say, that iconic orange sofa seems to have weathered well. The brief scene where she produces her flip-phone may have appeared condescending but I totally related and burst out laughing—I’ve never been able to figure out my new jet-propelled palm-sized computer phone thingie and would love to have my old flip-phone back again.

Amen sister.

The first show put the old characters into 2018 context and set the stage for more good material to come. It was great fun to see Hillary Clinton make a cameo appearance interviewing for the job as Murphy’s “secretary”. I always enjoyed that peculiar cast of rotating characters in the original series. Trump voters won’t be tuning in and we’ll no doubt be seeing nasty tweets from the White House. Let’s hope so. Political commentary and freedom of the press are still a major part of the foundation of the American way of life and let’s hope it continues. The writing is still sharp on the new Murphy Brown. The show certainly got my r-e-s-p-e-c-t and I look forward to many more episodes. Tune in on Thursday nights at 9:30 p.m. It’s not that late; you can still go to bed at your regular time.


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Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 11/9 describes . . . the horror . . . the horror


As if we weren’t frightened enough already by what’s happening south of the border, Michael Moore just added the finishing touches with his current documentary Fahrenheit 11/9 which is now showing in movie theatres. (Coincidently, I’m also currently reading FEAR by Bob Woodward.) Call me a masochist but watching the fall of the United States of America is fascinating and tragically sad at the same time. We knew when we went to see Fahrenheit 11/9, written, produced and directed by Moore, that it would be an unsettling experience and our worst fears were realized.

The breakdown of American society and the corruption of their democratic system are sad to witness. Most of the movie’s content is predictable—how on earth did someone like Donald Trump ever get elected and what does the future hold? Moore spares no one in his condemnation of politicians. Both the Republican and Democrat parties are rotten within, to the extent that Democratic party big-wigs cheated Bernie Saunders out of winning certain states by falsifying the voting results to put third-place Hillary in the lead.

Understandably, a great of time is devoted to the tragedy of the water system in Flint, Michigan, Moore’s home town. It’s a metaphor for greater social problems. Citizens are being exposed to permanent, irreversible health problems as a result of drinking polluted water with a high lead content, something that was totally preventable, fixable and still remains unfixed. Even President Obama was complicit. When he visited Flint, a largely black community, the locals thought that finally they would get their water source rerouted from the Flint River to its original safe source, Lake Huron. They were expecting acknowledgement of their problem, help from FEMA and a return to clean water. Obama even pretended to drink the water, smiled, shook hands with the locals, flew off in Airforce 1—and nothing changed. That lack of action and casting aside of their concerns left the people of Flint feeling defeated. As a result, they realize their legitimate concerns fell on deaf ears and their votes are meaningless.

Undervalued teachers in the United States make less than half what Canadian teachers make. Many live below the poverty line. They had to break with their union and strike for health insurance.

The explanation of the teachers’ strike in various states starting with West Virginia was particularly enlightening. Teachers’ wages are below the poverty level in many American states (very different from Canada) and when they were on strike the teachers still had food drives and delivered meals to children at home who receive their breakfast and lunch every day through the schools. Otherwise, those children would go hungry. In order for teachers to receive any kind of health insurance, they were required by contract to wear FitBits to confirm they were getting in 10,000 steps a day. This punitive decree was signed into law through the collaboration of a weak union and a fat, old, white-guy governor who probably has never walked 10,000 steps in his life.

Fahrenheit 11/9 is a followup to Moore’s earlier Fahrenheit 9/11 and a riff on November 9th, the day Trump was elected. Moore equates that day with a disaster for America right up there with 9/11. He takes a lot of criticism for his extremism and sensationalism but we need people to draw attention to what’s going on. It’s a disturbing movie but an absolute must-see. No one benefits when everyone looks away and assumes good will prevail. Just ask any German who lived through the 1930s and 1940s.

On the bright side, the surge of indignation and anger over the state of democracy in the United States has prompted many formerly passive, intelligent side liners—a great many of them women—to become involved in the nasty business of politics in an effort to get things back on track. It worked in Iceland where the women took over and got the country sorted out. Hopefully they can put an end to this horror show before it’s too late and the apocalypse occurs.

We caught a matinée and it was reassuring to see so many single boomers in the theatre. The subject matter obviously resonates and they took the time to go see and support Michael Moore’s documentary. I hope you do too.


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Have Baby Boomers gone to ground?


Driving at night is no longer as simple as it used to be.

There was a time when I simply couldn’t understand why my parents’ generation didn’t like to drive after dark, or why they preferred to stay home and sleep in their own beds. Look at all they were missing—nights on the town, travel and weekends away with friends. Then, I totally got the driving after dark thing a few years ago when I found my eyesight was just not as sharp as it used to be when I went out at night. The solution was to plan our nights out carefully so we didn’t have to drive too far, if at all. That was the first step on a slippery slope.

I’m now developing a greater appreciation for sleeping in my own bed. Much as we love traveling, nothing’s sweeter than crawling into our own bed when we get home. We just returned from a few days visiting Washington, D.C. for some sightseeing and our room at the Hyatt Regency couldn’t have been better. They’d spent the last four years renovating the hotel and everything was perfection. The elevators in the lobby atrium were glass so we could experience our ascent and descent; the furniture and decor was all fresh and new; the bathroom was large and well-appointed and the floor was slightly heated which felt wonderful on our sore feet after a day of walking miles. The sheets were smooth and delicious to slide into at the end of the day. The pillows felt like down and there were four of them. Even the television was huge, just like at home which pleased my honey enormously. Despite these comforts, it was so good to get home.

Air travel comes with its own special set of horrors which make overseas travel particularly gruesome. If one of the unions hasn’t declared a last minute work-to-rule or full-on strike, then weather delays keep us stewing in the airport holding area for hours on end. If we do manage to get on our flight at the scheduled time and we can’t afford to fly business class with the elite, then we’re jammed into teeny tiny seats with our knees touching our chins while munching dry ham and cheese “snacks”. Who among us hasn’t been trapped on a full plane upon arrival awaiting jetway clearance or waiting for the lightning to stop before we can disembark.

There’s no place like home.

Americans are known and (rightly) mocked for insisting on American food (burgers and fries) when traveling in Europe, but I always take a zip-lock baggie of my own Canadian brand of Red Rose tea when we travel, so who am I to judge. We like things that are familiar and this trait only becomes more entrenched as we get older. That’s not to say we don’t like some adventure and travel, but we’re starting to feel the impact of being away from our home comforts. This insight has made me much more understanding of my parents’ preference for staying home and not visiting me in their later years.

Even staying overnight with close friends can be fraught with challenges. There’s a hilarious sketch on Baroness von Sketch on CBC that pokes fun at the numerous rules imposed by cottage owners on their weekend guests. “Don’t flush. If it’s yellow, let it mellow. No shampoo allowed; it causes algae. Keep the door shut to keep the blackflies out.” And the list goes on. Just makes you want to be in your own home, in your own bed, with your own bathroom on familiar ground. We all try to make our visiting guests feel at home when they come to stay and go out of our way to provide hotel-like amenities but we know from experience that there’s no place like home. And the older we get, the sweeter it is.

Click here to view “The Cottage” by Baroness von Sketch on YouTube.


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Is your clean house making you fat?


Every time I come across a new angle or theory on the science of weight loss, I get a little excited thinking maybe there’s some minor tweak I can make with minimal effort in my lifestyle that will give me back the body I took for granted in my twenties. The business of weight loss is a multi-billion dollar industry built around feeding our insecurities about how we look. The health and wellness industries throw out the bait and reel us in.

It’s not complicated. We’re a privileged society. There’s so much food available, much of which is unhealthy, that we overeat and don’t work it off. Menopause throws the final wrench in the works making it impossible to stay trim without constant effort and vigilance. University students are familiar with the freshman fifteen (pounds) just as boomer women are familiar with the meno fifteen . . . or twenty, or thirty that happens when we hit fifty-ish. Four years ago I spent an entire winter attending Weight Watchers, losing ten pounds, only to put it back on again. I’m lucky compared to those who work harder to lose even more and pack it all back on. We spend an inordinate amount of time, money and emotional energy on weight issues. What a waste of resources.

We’re so brainwashed about the evils of consuming carbs that enjoying a simple piece of toast with jam can bring on paroxysms of guilt and shame. I love ACE bread and only allow myself to enjoy it toasted for breakfast as a treat on weekends. Living on vegetables and protein alone is never going to work. I try not bring things like ice-cream and cookies into the house, but sometimes a gal’s just gotta have a hot dog. But, as we all know, cheating is a slippery slope. As soon as bread is declared an all-inclusive health food I’m going to eat nothing but toast a least three times a day, for the rest of my life. In the fickle world of health advice, it is a possibility. I keep hoping.

Could this be making me fat?

Then, a few days ago I read in the newspaper that household cleaners have been proven to affect the gut flora in children. When small children are exposed to high levels of the chemicals in cleaning fluids, the good gut microbes are lowered. According to the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the gut flora of 757 infants and children up to three years old exposed to cleaning chemicals resulted in higher BMI (body mass index) readings than those exposed to ecofriendly cleaners.

Naturally, this information leads me to conclude (not scientifically, of course) that the reason I’m overweight is because I’ve been exposed to too many chemical cleaning products for more than 70 years. So, that knowledge combined with the inevitable, irreversible menopause fifteen means I’m wasting my time and money trying to lose weight through traditional commercial health and wellness methods. Either I stop cleaning or I risk decreasing my gut flora and I’ll get even fatter. I think the evidence is pretty clear. Don’t clean. Stay thin. Wouldn’t you agree?


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Life is not all political in the Oval Office . . . or is it?


From The Corner of The Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein is not an exposé about the political goings-on behind the  scenes à la Bob Woodward or Michael Wolff. It’s chick lit, for better or worse, and I’m inclined to lean toward better. This memoir is about Dorey-Stein’s five years working at The White House during the Obama administration, including her love affairs prior to and during her time working there and her relationships with fellow employees. As a low-level staffer, she was not privy to confidential meetings with executive staff but she was privileged to accompany the President and his staff on overseas trips, local fund-raisers, family vacations in Hawaii and meetings with foreign leaders.

Dorey-Stein was an under-employed English teacher working several part-time jobs when she spotted an ad for a stenographer on Craig’s List.  Desperate to work at something other than waiting tables, she applied for the job, then blew off the interview. Because part of her past experience included tutoring students at the prestigious Sidwell Friends School attended by Malia Obama, the interviewer followed up and Dorey-Stein was given a second chance to interview.

What she didn’t realize and had not been disclosed in the advertisement was that the job was as a stenographer at The White House, the big one on Pennsylvania Avenue. The job required her to be part of a team that attended every interview, press conference and public speaking event attended by President Barack Obama. His words were recorded and transcribed by stenographers like Dorey-Stein for release to various media sources as well as being kept for historical records. She does have opinions, however. After the Boston Marathon bombing attack, her comments, “You’d think these ‘red-blooded’ conservative congressmen who don’t want equal rights for gays or the right to choose for women would be embarrassed to have the NRA so publicly cupping their balls.” Good one!

Beck Dorey-Stein was there, in the big house, during the saner Obama years.

When she was hired, Stein was advised to “keep her boyfriend” and avoid relationships with secret service agents or fellow employees. Naturally, a young woman in her twenties with raging hormones and a flair for being social found it difficult to adhere to that advice. She was soon romantically involved with a senior member of the executive staff, betraying her boyfriend and her principles. Her new lover, Jason was a chronic and well-known womanizer but she’s already too emotionally involved before she discovers the painful truth about his true colours. Their on-again, off-again affair pulls her under like a drug addiction with no upside other than infrequent good conversation and good sex.

Fans of The West Wing and HBO’s VEEP starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus will love this book. In fact, even if you’re not familiar with those television shows, I think you’ll love it. That’s why it’s a New York Times best-seller. While we learn nothing salacious about White House operations during her tenure, it’s a fascinating read nonetheless. Being a fly-on-the-wall observer at a low level, the author treats us to a rare view of life in the West Wing of The White House. We follow her steps through rooms, corridors and offices, journey along on trips within the United States and internationally aboard Airforce 1 and experience personal exchanges with POTUS through her eyes.

From The Corner of the Oval is a fun beach read about the love affairs and working relationships between Obama-era staffers. You won’t learn any dirty secrets or inside political skullduggery but you will enjoy the observations of an articulate young woman who was there. And her Epilogue is titled, Send in the Clowns. Pour yourself a glass of wine, put your feet up and escape. I’d rate it 7 out of 10.

Click here to order From The Corner of The Oval by Beck Dory-Stein from Amazon.


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Juliet, Naked does not involve nudity (sorry!), but you might want to take a peek anyway.


There’s a reason I haven’t posted any movie reviews lately. That’s because until now there was only one movie in the entire year of 2018 that I thought was worthwhile for baby boomers to see and that was The Book Club. This is not to be confused with The Book Shop which I saw a couple of weeks ago and wasn’t worth the price of admission. I went to see The Book Shop is because it starred the wonderful Bill Nighy and was obviously about books so it offered two potential possibilities. It was an adaptation of Penelope Lively’s novel that really didn’t merit being made into a movie. In fact, there’s such a dearth of movies for boomers that I’m probably going to have to watch The Book Club again just to see something remotely relevant to me.

Anyway, this week I went to see Juliet, Naked starring two of my favourite actors, Ethan Hawke (loved him in Maudie) and Chris O’Dowd. Rose Byrne plays Annie, their mutual love interest. O’Dowd is Duncan, a hapless university professor who has a peculiar obsession with a former rock star called Tucker Crowe, played perfectly by Ethan Hawke. Duncan worships Crowe’s old music and lyrics and hosts a blog for the few Tucker Crowe fans left in the world. As old rockers devoted to sixties music, baby boomers can relate to Duncan’s fascination—who among us isn’t still marveling and analyzing Procol Harum’s A Whiter Shade of Pale.

Duncan’s partner, Annie doesn’t share his fascination and when she posts a derogatory comment on the blog, the elusive Tucker Crowe who has been hiding for more than twenty years in the United States, responds and they become internet pals. Then things get complicated and at times comical.

I won’t give away the complete story line, but I did enjoy the movie. It was fun; the writing was not too cliché and the British setting in a seaside town was cool to watch. The white cliffs of Dover were visible; the movie’s British origins is what prompted me to give the movie a try. I’m glad I did. It’s light, funny and a lovely way to pass a couple of hours with a bucket of popcorn and pail full of Diet Coke.


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Are our senior citizens really OK?


The other day I posted a book review that included a condemnation of our tendency to judge people without knowing their background story. In fact, my entire blog is a form of judgement. I did it again this week, at the grocery store. I’ll give you the details and let you be the judge.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for fresh local produce. Does everyone have access?

It’s harvest season in Ontario, the season for juicy, fresh beefsteak tomatoes, peaches and no end of wonderful local produce. Shoppers are checking out with bushels of Roma tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and fruit for preserving. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year for fresh food.

As I was standing in the produce section husking corn into a giant bin in the middle of the floor, a small, very elderly, very frail gentleman approached. He was probably in his nineties and his face was sweet and kind looking. His grocery tote was a hand truck he’d brought with him with a single reuseable vinyl grocery bag propped open on the base. He was wearing worn, comfortable shoes and socks, a short-sleeved plaid shirt and beige shorts. His shorts were held up with striped suspenders and where one of the suspender’s clips was broken, he’d used a bit of twine to tie the suspenders to the belt loop of his shorts. This simple piece of twine touched my heart as it reminded me of how resourceful and practical his generation is—those who grew up in the Depression—so different from the obscene consumerism of subsequent generations.

For a few minutes I was transfixed as I watched this stooped gentleman pick three ears of corn and place them in his vinyl shopping bag. An Asian woman standing nearby helped him dig through the bin to find some nice ones. All of a sudden I found myself contemplating his entire back story in my imagination. Where did he live? Did he live alone? Did he drive himself here? Did he walk, pushing his hand truck? How does he manage in winter? Particularly in a large city it’s so easy for these vulnerable people to be forgotten.

Because he was buying groceries, he obviously does not live in an assisted living facility. Perhaps he lives in a nearby apartment or maybe he’s still living in the same little bungalow he bought in the 1950s and is unwilling to leave. Does he have children? Do they visit him and help him out? Is his wife still alive or did she pass a few years ago? Is he lonely? Does he need help? So many questions swirled around in my head for the few minutes I observed him.

I found myself thinking of my own father who is 92 and lives in the most wonderful assisted living residence I could imagine. He’s happy, healthy, well taken care of, still drives and is mentally as sharp as ever. His residence overlooks the Trent Canal in front and Ranney Falls on the Trent River behind the building. It’s an idyllic environment and he’s surrounded by kind, caring people and fellow residents he’s known for decades.

I worry about whether our vulnerable seniors are being cared for.

My dilemma concerns my judgement of the elderly man in the grocery store. My initial reaction to seeing this man was sadness. I found myself wishing he could be living carefree in a residence like my father’s. Then, he wouldn’t have to worry about grocery shopping, cooking meals, cleaning or even getting his clothes mended. But perhaps I’m wrong to cast judgement. Maybe he’s living the life he chooses, independent and busy with the simple rituals and routines of daily life. Perhaps my concern is misplaced and he’s happily living his best life. I wonder if and how my husband I will be coping when we’re in our nineties—which isn’t that far off anymore, and if we make it that far. Once again I found myself casting judgement on someone I knew nothing about, however, sympathetic my intentions. I’m still thinking about him, days later. I can’t get him out of my mind, wondering how he’s doing. Is he OK? Are they all OK?