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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Just don’t ask me to bring hors d’oeuvres


Only if I can pick up a ready-made platter at Costco.

You’re having a pot luck? Great. What can I bring? Dessert? Salad? Veg? NOOOOO! Not an hors d’oeuvre! That’s the one thing I hate to do most in the world—right up there with washing the inside of my kitchen cupboards. Even worse, because it requires planning, specialty shopping, fiddling and figuring out how to keep everything fresh/crisp/moist/whatever. And my creations are never as fresh/crisp/moist or as visually appealing as what everyone else in the world can do so much better. It’s like the time my coworker tore apart and rewrapped all our corporate Christmas gifts for clients because she was appalled at what a sloppy job I’d done. I must say, her exquisitely mitred foil end flaps and creative flair with ribbons was far better than my version which was more like preschoolers playing with paper and scissors. I’m just not engineered to do fiddley.

My idea of artful hors d’oeuvres never looks anything like the symmetrically arranged shrimp atop iced butter lettuce in a seashell glass dish that I’ve enjoyed at friends’ houses. My presentations are more like I went dumpster diving, found some salvageable scraps and arranged them on a platter. Some people even brave the world of hot finger foods and present what appears to be the main course entrée on delicate china plates. Have you ever had those gems of nouvelle cuisine served in individual serving-size Chinese porcelain spoons or in colourful martini glasses with themed toothpicks? They seem far too pretty to eat. Don’t expect anything like that at my house. I’ve been known throw a handful of little bags of leftover Halloween potato chips on the coffee table when unexpected guests drop in for a glass of wine.

And for this food that Lynda has prepared, we are truly thankful!

My biggest objection to this whole hors d’oeuvre business is that it takes the edge off your appetite for dinner. When I’ve spent the better part of an entire day on my feet in the kitchen chopping, ladling, stirring and otherwise slaving over a meal for my guests, I want everyone to come to the table faint from hunger. Then, whether my meal presentation is a success or not, no one will know the difference. They’ll be so starved and desperate for food they can barely sit up, so whatever I serve will be a triumph. “Oh Lynda, this meal is amazing; YOU are amazing!”

When you come to my house, enjoy those Tostitos  and the bowl of Kirkland cashews on your dainty paper cocktail napkin because that’s all you’re getting beforehand. It’s called smart meal planning. And if you have a pot luck and ask me to bring an hors d’oeuvre, I hope you like Halloween potato chips. You can always count on me to do my share.


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Hair today; gone tomorrow


Hair loss is not a problem unique to men.

The other day I read an interesting blog posting on a beauty and lifestyle site for mature women. It outlined different strategies for coping with thinning hair as we age. Many women our age have the added challenge of hair regrowth following chemotherapy when new hair is often quite different from its pre-chemo state. Our once glorious manes are no more and we’re constantly on the lookout for ways to enhance thickness, texture, shine and body. Rogaine is one option for thinning hair, although it’s expensive and with limited effectiveness only for as long as you use the product. The science of hair colouring has made tremendous leaps in recent years and for that we’re thankful. Some women use wigs and others clip mini hairpieces into existing hair. Extensions are time-consuming and costly and because they can further damage fragile hair, they’re probably not an option for many boomer women. But they’re de rigueur in the entertainment world.

Hair products today are so plentiful and economical that most of us have such a vast selection in our cupboards we would probably never have to buy more product again as long as we live, if we were to use it all up. I’m totally guilty and my personal stash is embarrassing. Walking the hair care aisle in the drug store or grocery store is an overwhelming experience that can leave us bewildered and confused. All in search of a solution to our hair issues.

In the sixties, we thought our thick, gorgeous, healthy hair would last forever.

Isn’t it ironic that wherever we have hair we don’t want it and where we want to grow hair it’s like trying to cultivate roses in the desert. We spend hours and stupid amounts of money waxing, lasering, threading and otherwise eliminating leg hair, underarm hair and bikini areas. The brunettes and olive-skinned among us may also fight unwanted facial or forearm hair and even blondes aren’t exempt from plucking, waxing or depilatating mustache and chin hairs. The battles never end.

Where we want hair to grow, it stubbornly refuses. Thick, natural eyebrows are now the fashion. Boomers foolishly plucked ours to oblivion in the seventies, not realizing it was a one-way street. Now we’re experimenting with tattooed eyebrows or the new microblading technique. I must say, microblading sounds tempting but I hear it’s not long-lasting which means more maintenance and expense. There’s a resurgence in the use of false eyelashes, whether glue-on strips or professionally applied individual lashes from the salon. I loved wearing false lashes in the sixties, before I wore glasses and before I worried about pulling out my few remaining eyelashes when I ripped off the glued-on strips. We also have the option of getting our eyelashes and brows tinted at the salon to produce the illusion of abundance. Tattooed eyeliner sounds tempting but I’m not confident about the long-term results, and damn, that must hurt. Do I really want to incorporate more expensive, painful maintenance into my already time-consuming and rather tedious repertoire of beauty treatments? What’s a girl to do?

Would you still love me?

Imagine if we were all to rise up in rebellion and let nature take its course—let our body hair flourish wherever it appears and let the hair on our heads fall out, kink, break, go white, whatever. What if it became fashionable for women to have a mustache or a chin like a billy goat. Life would be so much simpler and infinitely cheaper, and if we all looked similarly hirsute, we’d have nothing to feel embarrassed about. Imagine being proud of our mustache? “Oh Lynda, what do you use to get that gorgeous upper lip growing like that? And I’d kill to have a goatee as silky and lustrous as yours!” There are certain cultures that consider it a sign of fertility. What a hairetical idea. I like it.

The downside is that our entire economy could collapse. Imagine the billions upon billions of dollars that presently go into beauty products—advertising, merchandising and manufacturing—suddenly drying up, like our skin or hair on a bad day. Although, as they say, when one door closes, another opens. An entire economy built around leg, face and other body hair grooming products would instantly spring up. Marketers would produce bejewelled, tiny little mustache combs and trimmers (to keep it out of your soup—there are some standards ladies), leg hair conditioners, exotic oils to enhance the shiny bald spots on your scalp, and what about those “natural” dyes that will be needed to make sure the ‘carpet matches the drapes’, as they say.

I’d hate to be responsible for such an apocalypse so I’ll just keep those credit cards ‘a smokin’ in endless attempts to not look how nature intended. When I consider my appearance with hairy legs and pits, chin hairs down to my collarbone and no makeup—well, you get the picture. If I follow up on the microblading thing I’ll let you know how it goes. If you are willing to back me up on the natural hairy look, however, I’ll definitely reconsider. And, once we redirect current social preferences on hair, (depending on where it blooms), I’ll start campaigning about those misplaced standards of beauty regarding weight and preferred amount of body fat. I’m going to be busy and I’ll need your support. Are you in?


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The Hudson’s Bay Company welcomes new CEO and this shopper couldn’t be happier


Helena, girlfriend, I really need you to listen. I’m only trying to help.

Canada’s venerable 350-year-old Hudson’s Bay Company (for non-Canadian readers it’s comparable to Macy’s in the U.S.) is getting a new C.E.O. Her name is Helena Foulkes and she comes from CVS, a health-care company with about 9,700 pharmacies in the United States. Since January 2014, Foulkes was the company’s executive vice-president and president of subsidiary CVS Pharmacy. As a shopper, loyal Canadian and feminist I’m thrilled with the news and thought I’d take the initiative on behalf of all baby boomer women and make her feel welcome:

Dear Helena:

Welcome to Canada. When I heard you were taking over the reins at The Hudson’s Bay Company, I was so excited I could hardly pour my Geritol this morning. For more than twenty years I’ve been lobbying The Bay, making suggestions about how they could improve business and keep their retail stores prospering. And for as many years I’ve been ignored. Maybe we finally have someone who will listen. After all—I’m just the customer—what do I know? I hope you don’t mind me calling you Helena. I feel we’re BFFs since I wrote that complimentary post about you on my blog recently: (Click here to read Brushing away wrinkles and imperfections doesn’t fool anyone.”). I was soooo impressed that you took a stand against digitally altered beauty ads (Photoshopping) in CVS stores.

Anyway, Helena, as I said, my emails, snail mail, blog postings and letters to a series of Hudson’s Bay CEOs have all been ignored over the years and I really want The Hudson’s Bay Company to do well. To make your job easier, here are a few simple things you can do that I guarantee will improve sales and sustain your retail business. This is a simple a point-form summary but you’re free to read links to previous posts with further details about the issue which I’ve conveniently included at the bottom of this posting.

  1. Hire more sales associates. If it means eliminating a few pairs of designer jeans from inventory to come up with the money to pay these people, it’ll be a worthwhile investment. Unlike in European stores, it’s impossible to find knowledgeable staff to assist shoppers in Hudson’s Bay stores. This is particularly critical in suburban mall stores which are severely understaffed compared to your downtown Toronto flagship store.
  2. Make the cash register/sales desks easier to find. I once stood in the middle of the second floor of the Square One Bay store in Mississauga and literally yelled for help. The place was abandoned.
  3. Train your sales personnel to take pride in their work. And what about paying these people a more attractive salary to improve morale? Coming from a corporate marketing background myself, I’ve always felt that valued employees should be treated like clients. Happy employees are the secret to the success of the company, just like those ‘contented cows’ who produce good quality milk. Nordstrom sales associates are trained to walk around the counter and hand me my little silver shopping bag like it’s a special gift and they value my business. I like that.

    We really want you to succeed.

  4. Up the ante on the on-line experience for your customers. American retailers have nailed this and Canadian retailers are woefully late to the game. I’m a dedicated on-line shopper who prefers to do business with established retailers. As baby boomers age, we’ll come to depend on this service even more.
  5. Speaking of baby boomers—I just want to remind you that we’re a huge, overlooked target market. We have time; we have money; we love fashion. But no one acknowledges us anymore because we’re not the 18-45 demographic.
  6. On the subject of listening, have you ever considered appointing customer feedback mechanisms? Perhaps on-line surveys or better still, customer councils?

I appreciate you taking the time to read this, Helena. I really do want Hudson’s Bay Company to succeed and grow. If you’ll just take my advice, I think you’ll find the boss will want to give you a raise. Feel free to just call me anytime. Let’s have a cup of tea and sort things out. No charge.

Sincerely, Your friend, Lynda

P.S. To give credit where it’s due, I’m glad someone responded to my earlier plea to upgrade the ladies washrooms in suburban mall stores. They were pretty disgusting and I’m pleased The Bay is making an effort to correct this.

P.P.S. Here are the links I mentioned above:

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2017/06/09/top-10-suggestions-for-hudsons-bay-to-survive/

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2018/02/01/its-my-fault-retail-stores-are-closing/

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2013/10/31/retail-rant-hits-home/

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2013/10/29/the-solution-for-canadian-retailers-is-as-easy-as-1-2-3/

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2016/11/07/what-on-earth-was-the-hudsons-bay-company-thinking/

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2014/08/31/support-is-growing-for-truth-in-advertising/

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2014/01/29/hello-saks-goodbye-bay/

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2013/09/14/how-to-improve-sales-at-hudsons-bay/

https://boomerbroadcast.net/2018/01/19/brushing-away-wrinkles-and-imperfections-doesnt-fool-anyone/

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/hbc-cvs-helena-foulkes-1.4520526

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Is there a future for romance in the workplace?


Workplace romances have always and will always exist.

Birds do it. Bees do it. Cleopatra, Angelina Jolie, Bridget Jones and even John F. Kennedy did it. I’m talking about love affairs in the workplace. With all the attention on the #metoo movement and the exposing of predatory bosses, it’s easy to be confused about what is now considered acceptable or unacceptable flirting in the workplace. A group of high profile women including Catherine Deneuve in France is speaking out against extremism in reporting bad behaviour. The French women maintain that flirting and bantering between the sexes is normal and acceptable. I don’t think anyone can argue with that but when one person crosses the line and infringes upon another’s personal boundaries or uses their position to jeopardize and manipulate another’s security or career, then it’s a whole different ball game.

A large percentage of the population met their spouse or partner at work. I’m one of them. In fact, I met both my first and second husband through work. It’s an ideal place to go prospecting as you get to see people at their worst and best behaviour.  Being exposed to someone for eight, ten or more hours a day, five days a week provides a pretty accurate indication of that person’s true character. We see how they respond to stress, whether they’re honest and ethical, smart or lazy, and if they’re known as the office gigolo we can opt out. Finding a romantic interest at work eliminates a lot of the guess work.

The power dynamics depend on who’s on top.

The political dynamics of office liaisons, however, are rather tricky. Peers are the safest bet while cross-pollinating between upper, middle and lower ranks is riskier. The inherent problem is if or when the relationship disintegrates, how do the parties handle the fallout? Participants are left in the uncomfortable position of working together when there may be considerable animosity or one partner may be left to witness the other embarking on a new relationship. Not fun and often painful. There’s also the career/business advancement component and women are most often the losers when the male in the relationship is in a more senior position. Chances are one of the parties will have to change jobs and probably leave the company. With all the potential risks associated with office or workplace liaisons, people are advised to enter into relationships with a large dose of caution.

Negotiating the hazards of an office romance can be tricky.

So, what’s a person to do? Long hours at the workplace, particularly early in one’s career often make socializing outside work difficult. When you’re young, single and beginning your career, the opportunities outweigh the pitfalls and if the relationship fails the fallout is less likely to be as damaging. During my forty years in the corporate world I lost count of the number of successful, lasting relationships I saw launched at office baseball games, Christmas parties or after-work drinks at a local pub. Some of these pairings that resulted in marriage and children have successfully produced second generation employees who became part of the corporate ‘family’.

As long as there are men and women, they will pair up in logical, illogical, beneficial and destructive relationships. It served Cleopatra well, but only for awhile; not so for Marc Antony. Brad and Angelina’s relationship fell off the rails in an industry known for risky outcomes. If J.F.K. were alive today, we would like to think his shenanigans would not be tolerated, but consider the track record of the current President of the United States. Workplace romances certainly have their place and will always be part of life but there are no guarantees and should be entered into only after carefully considering the consequences. Not all stories have happy endings.

The #metoo movement is making everyone pause and reconsider what we once considered acceptable behaviour. All flirting is not just cause for dismissal. Not all accusations automatically denote guilt. That’s the challenge. If there are multiple accusers, then odds are “where there’s smoke, there’s fire”. But perpetrators also deserve a fair hearing.

Workplace romance is a complicated business and with the increasing awareness of sexual harassment and pushback from opposing viewpoints the discussion is far from over. The current spotlight on the issue will ultimately generate positive change but not without some bumps in the road. As women become more empowered, the rules will become more clearly defined. In the games people play, it’s essential that everyone understands the rules. Both men and women stand to benefit from the outcome.

You’re beautiful mes très chères.

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There’s work and then there’s ironing


Princess Diana once confessed that she enjoyed ironing. I totally get it. Like Di, I find the job of ironing to be somewhat zen-like, calming and relaxing. Ever since I started setting my ironing board up in front of the television to watch The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the seventies, I can honestly say I do not regard it as a chore. But my instruments and environment have to be exactly to my specifications, much like professional chess players, athletes and Glenn Gould. When the world’s fastest typist, the late Barbara Blackburn once failed to meet her usual high output of up to 212 wpm on a manual typewriter in front of an audience, she attributed her disappointing performance to her chair being adjusted one-quarter of an inch too low. We artists have specific standards.

Ever since my Mary Tyler Moore-watching days, I’ve scheduled my ironing to coincide with watching a favourite television show and the time just flies by. After putting up with a wobbly, inferior ironing board for years, I finally bit the bullet and purchased one of those sturdy extra-wide European models that cost about $150.00 and I can vouch for the fact they are so worth the money. It’s solid, has a rack for piling finished garments, an attached rack for the iron and slots in the frame for stacking empty hangers. Of course, a proper ironing board requires a serious iron that can guarantee an abundance of steam. Thus, another serious investment in a Rowena iron. Fortunately I haven’t yet felt the need for a Miele electric mangle for pressing sheets, pillowcases and tablecloths which is fortunate as they cost more than $3,000.00, Other than hotels and restaurants, who uses that many tablecloths?

One place where I draw the line, however, is men’s shirts. My husband’s wardrobe has been carefully curated so his everyday shirts are no-iron and dress shirts are handled by the dry cleaner. Does that make me a bad wife? I don’t mind ironing my own things, but men’s shirts are just plain drudgery. I once had a friend whose husband did all the ironing and he threatened to quit unless she stopped buying 100% cotton blouses. He understood the difference between work and pleasure.

You can’t deny it’s a beautiful thing.

I also have a passion for 100% linen tea towels—not cotton and not 50/50. I like to pick them up as souvenirs from places I’ve visited. It’s particularly satisfying to iron linen tea towels which always look so colourful, crisp and orderly when neatly pressed and stacked next to a pile of freshly ironed pillow cases. I use scented linen water to spray whatever I’m ironing so my spirits are always uplifted by the scents of lavender or ocean breezes. And there’s nothing as satisfying as admiring a line of freshly ironed blouses and tops. Call me crazy but it’s a truly rewarding sight. Let’s be clear. This doesn’t mean you can start sending me your laundry to iron. The Marilyn Denis Show and CityLine are each only an hour-long and there’s only so much I can accomplish in such a tight time frame. We don’t want it to become work and we have our standards.

Stay special mes très chères.

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All The Money In The World . . . doesn’t buy happiness


John Paul Getty III with his mother Gail after his release.

If you’re a boomer like me, you probably remember the sensational newspaper coverage of a brutal kidnapping in the early seventies. Paul Getty, the sixteen-year-old grandson of the world’s richest man J. Paul Getty, was snatched off the street in Rome and held for ransom of $17 million. The drama played out for several months. Getty Sr. refused to pay the ransom while the Calabrian organized crime ring who kidnapped him grew increasingly desperate. I clearly remember the universal shock and horror when we read that the kidnappers amputated Getty Jr.’s ear and sent it to a newspaper to a) prove that they still had him and, b) to confirm their commitment to following through with further amputations unless their demands were met.

Watching the movie All The Money In The World filled in all the background information that was missing and forgotten about the notorious kidnapping. The substitution of fallen-from-grace Kevin Spacey with Canadian Christopher Plummer was a deft move. Plumber was perfect in his portrayal of Getty Sr. as a calculating, dispassionate, eccentric old billionaire. He protected his fortune greedily while indulging his passion for collecting art with the love and dedication he should have afforded his own family. Casting of Charlie Plummer as Paul Getty Jr. was also excellent and he even somewhat resembled Michelle Williams who played Getty Jr.’s mother. Williams played Gail Getty with just the right amount of angst, indignation and anger. Gail married a Getty son and divorced him without any form of compensation from the Getty family in order to retain custody of her three children. That decision left her broke and incapable of raising the ransom money herself leaving her at the mercy of her former father-in-law.

Michelle Williams played Getty Jr.’s mother Gail, accompanied by Mark Wahlberg as Getty Sr.’s negotiator.

All The Money In The World is a good movie. Not only do we learn the story behind the story, but we’re treated to beautiful shots of Rome and the Italian countryside. We watch the negotiations for a $17 million ransom drop over time as the kidnapping ‘contract’ is sold to a second crime ring. And, there are the obvious conclusions to be drawn about ‘money doesn’t buy happiness’ and the disastrous effects it often has on second and third generations in wealthy families. My gal pals and I really enjoyed our couple of hours watching this movie and I’m confident you will too. We gave it four beautifully manicured thumbs-up.

You are special mes très chères.

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