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


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In the world of television, everything old is new again


Remember when we only received three channels and we all watched the same television?

It seems inconceivable that with more than a thousand television channels we still can’t find something we like to watch. The inroads made by Netflix, specialized cable and streaming sources have expanded our options beyond our wildest imagination but there still seems to be a gap, something missing. Remember growing up in the fifties and sixties when we could only get three black and white channels and reception on two of them was so snowy we could barely watch them? So, the media experts are doing what soap company marketers have been doing successfully for more than a century—re-release a “new and improved” incarnation of the same old thing, the proven formula, but now with extra strength, power boosted or special additives.

Just as good second time around.

It started with the revival of Will & Grace which was soon followed by Roseanne. And now I hear there’s a remake in the works of Mad About You with Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt, and Murphy Brown with Candice Bergen. What to make of these remakes? Personally, I love the new Will & Grace for the same reasons I loved the original series. The writing, although a bit formulaic, is brilliant. The Jack and Karen characters played by Sean Hayes and Megan Mullaley are as sharp and outrageous as ever and could probably even carry their own show. Will is deftly played by Canadian Eric McCormack. Debra Messing’s Grace is still zany, albeit rather less appealing than first time around. But all in all, it works and I look forward to watching these characters every week.

The new Roseanne is slightly more political than the original.

What do you make of Roseanne? The new show is not under the complete control of Roseanne Barr as it was two decades ago, which in my opinion is a plus. More stable minds prevail. The show retains its original edge and attacks sensitive and timely issues faced by us ninety-nine percenters. The first couple of episodes packed a lot of material into the scripts to bring us up to speed and introduce us to the Connor’s new millenium challenges, which seemed a bit strained. Darlene is broke and with her sexually ambiguous son and defiant daughter has moved back home. D.J. (who’s had practically no lines this time around) has a bi-racial daughter and Becky is spinning her wheels going nowhere. Jackie fancies herself a life coach and is as irritatingly full of angst as ever. Dan and Roseanne represent the stable status quo. Imagine that! I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Roseanne’s character soon sees the light concerning her support of Donald Trump. We’re hoping those saner minds referenced above kick in.

Rehashing old stories is not new. Movie remakes rarely have the same magic as the original but Hollywood keeps pumping them out in the absence of new material. Overboard, originally released more than thirty years ago with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell has been remade, although I haven’t seen the redo and not sure I want to. Unless you’re a fan of sci-fi, extra-terrestrial beings or blood and guts, you’re SOL when it comes to finding a good movie. I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to find Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland’s The Leisure Seekers on Netflix, On-Demand or Amazon Prime. No luck.

I just wish I could figure out how to slash my monthly telecom bill enough to make watching what I want more affordable. An old boomer is screwed without a live-in grandchild to manage our on-line and computer issues. I diligently note upcoming movies or TV shows that might appeal to our demographic and then can never find them. The same thing happens with my car keys and my cell phone (which I rarely to never use).

Movies relevant to baby boomers are rare and impossible to find in local theatres. The excellent British releases are considered ‘foreign films’ and relegated to obscure subterranean theatres in inaccessible corners of downtown areas that boomers find inconvenient to find and get to. Or they never turn up on the streaming and other options. I have a whole list of movies and television shows that I can’t find anywhere.

Spare me. Please.

Cineplex shares have registered a six-year low thanks to poor box office sales. Imagine how that could be improved if movie makers recognized there’s an entire generation of baby boomers who love to go to the movies and aren’t fans of blood, violence and special effects. What if television and movie producers rediscovered baby boomers and once again recognized us as a viable demographic? Now that’s what I would call a legitimate revival and something I would definitely line up to buy into.

Back to the future

The Globe and Mail’s Barry Hertz recently described these 10 movies as “summer blockbusters everyone will see”.

Solo: A Star Wars Story: No explanation required.Image result for emoticons

Jurrasic World: Fallen Kingdom: No explanation required.Image result for emoticons

Incredibles 2: Disney film for children.Image result for emoticonsImage result for emoticons

Deadpool 2: R-rated superhero sequel.Image result for emoticons

Mission Impossible: Fallout: No explanation required.Image result for emoticons

Manhunt: Action flick with lots of bad guys.Image result for emoticons

Disobedience: Drama about same-sex relationship in ultra-orthodox Jewish community in London. “Foreign film”Image result for emoticons

Hereditary: Horror filmImage result for emoticons

Under The Silver Lake: Mystery about missing neighbourImage result for emoticons

The Wife: Another “foreign film” starring Glenn Close as betrayed woman.Image result for emoticons

Do any of these appeal to you? I might catch the Glenn Close one. I’ve been waiting all winter for The Book Club with Dianne Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenbergen. It’s been eight months since I’ve been to the movies because I can’t find one I like. And the movie theatres wonder why they’re going broke!! Just ask a baby boomer.


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A tip of the toque to our good ol’ CBC


Our very own CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for my non-Canadian readers) has finally come up with some excellent television programs that I’ve been recommending to friends. Is it because the government has cut their funding and they’re becoming more resourceful or did we just get lucky? Whatever the cause, we’re the beneficiaries. I’ve been sending friends weekly reminders to watch three shows in particular that I love and thought Boomerbroadcast readers might enjoy them too.  I’ve always been a big fan of our particular brand of Canadian humour. It’s smarter than American humour and borrows heavily from dry British humour. Newfoundlanders like Mary Walsh, Rick Mercer, Shaun Majumder and Cathy Jones are brilliant interpreters of our peculiarities. Many of our comedy geniuses including Mike Myers and Jim Carrey migrated south but we still have our own  at-home stash. Feminist humour has a different edge and two new shows featuring Canadian comediennes are definitely worth watching.

On Tuesday nights at 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. depending on your time zone, check out Baroness von Sketch on your local CBC channel. Starring Aurora Brown, Meredith MacNeill, Carolyn Taylor and Jennifer Whalen, it’s a series of comedy sketches covering everyday issues women can relate to. And the fact that the main characters are all so relatable and normal looking —no giant fake boobs, giant fake lips, giant fake hair or obvious plastic surgery—makes them even more appealing. (Have you noticed how all the American shows feature genetically perfect female specimens playing detectives, doctors, politicians and even neighbours? Normal-looking human females need not bother auditioning.) It’s shot in Toronto and if you live here the locations will look familiar. This week’s show opened with a group of girlfriends gathering at a friend’s cottage for a weekend of trash talking and all the therapeutic soul-sharing we love about girls’ weekends. You know what I mean. The hostess kicks things off by listing all the onerous rules and special procedures associated with a weekend at the cottage—everything from don’t flush for number one to don’t eat snacks inside the cottage for fear of attracting rodents. Her exhaustive list of complicated decrees induces her guests to immediately pack up and head home. One way to discourage weekend guests at the cottage.

Workin’ Moms is a satire on the challenges faced by young working mothers in a world that puts them in a moral vice between helicopter parenting and juggling an I can do it all career. The show stars Catherine Reitman, Dani Kind, Juno Rinaldi and Jessalyn Wanlim who are excellent in their roles. While boomers may not relate to the subject matter, they can certainly identify with the issues as mothers of offspring who are experiencing these challenges. It’s not a comedy per se but has hilarious moments that even our generation can identify with. One of the women who has returned to work after mat leave is trying to regain her foothold in the corporate rat race by proving she is up to any challenge her male counterparts can handle. It’s hard to be taken seriously at work when sitting in a boardroom meeting with a dozen men and you’re leaking breast milk through your corporate silk blouse. Long hours at the office and having a baby at home are not always compatible, even when you have a stay-at-home dad, as one character does. And I’ve just heard that Jann Arden will be playing the role of mother to one of the Workin’ Moms next season. That’s reason enough to start watching the series which follows directly after Baroness von Sketch on CBC on Tuesday nights.

Gotta love Dick and Angel’s spirit.

The third show I absolutely love airs on Wednesday evenings at 8:00 p.m. also on CBC. Escape to the Chateau is a must-see for anyone who dreams of living in France and enjoyed reading Peter Mayles’s My Life in Provence books. The series stars a real-life British couple, Angel, who’s a colourful, somewhat eccentric designer and her partner Dick Strawbridge, a professional engineer and retired colonel from the British military. Accompanied by two toddlers and her retired parents, they purchase a 45-room abandoned Chateau in southwestern France for the price of a small flat in England. The once-grand chateau, located on twelve acres that includes an orangerie, several outbuildings and a moat had been abandoned for about fifty years. Dick and Angel envision restoring it on a tight budget by doing much of the work themselves, and turning it into a tourist wedding destination, starting with their own wedding. Dick is one of those husbands we would love to have (except maybe minus the moustache). He can turn his hand to anything and despite some initial minor grumbling, he generally carries out Angel’s fantasy plans for the chateau. They both love what they’re doing and I love watching them.

Tuesday and Wednesday nights on CBC.

It’s gratifying to see some of our tax dollars actually doing some good. CBC has traditionally not been known for being the most efficiently run public broadcasting organization, but it’s still all we have that focuses on Canadian talent. Considering these three shows, two out of three ain’t bad and the third is a close relative. Give them a watch. I think you’ll be glad you did.

Click here for Baroness von Sketch

Click here for Workin’ Moms

Click here for Escape To The Chateau

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5 reasons why Melania will never occupy The White House


If I smile, he said he'd pay my American Express bill.

If I smile, he said he’d pay my American Express bill.

Now that the inauguration festivities are over and President Trump no longer has to fake respect for family values (five children with three wives), First Lady Melania has retreated to her ivory tower in Manhattan, under the guise of being a “full-time” mother. After all, she does have her hands full with making all those wardrobe and accessory decisions while her only child is away all day at private school. But she’s not fooling anyone.

Here’s this Boomer Broad’s take on the real reasons we no longer see the presidential arm-candy around Washington:

      1. gloria2She’s busy packing his things and hauling them to the curb at Trump Tower, dancing around in her gold stiletto’s singing I Will Survive and I’m going to wash that man right out of my hair extensions, at the top of her lungs.
      2. Let’s face it, Ivanka will do a much better job of First-Ladying, having a wee bit of a brain and all.
      3. She got tired of all that orange hair and spray tan in the bathroom sink, and she no longer has to share her makeup.
      4. Her girlfriends on Fifth Avenue provide a much more realistic support system when it comes to making tough decisions about whether to wear the Valentino or the Dolce & Gabanna for her weekly trophy-wife support group lunches.
      5. Life in The White House might require doing some actual work such as pretending she enjoys hosting the King of Tonga or organizing the annual Easter egg hunt. Living away also means she doesn’t have to get behind a worthy cause such as anti-bullying (oops! bad choice) or mental health (sorry, not that one either).

trump2Maintaining security and housing the Secret Service in Trump Tower will conveniently provide a much-needed revenue stream for the financially challenged first family. Former Presidents’ wives have also been known to earn their keep by whispering common sense into the President’s ear when he needs a dose of reality. We’re hoping Ivanka will fulfill that role although her reality is not even remotely anything like that experienced by ordinary citizens. Not much hope there. And, his emperorship listens to reason from no one. So, all in all, having an AWOL first lady is not entirely a bad thing. Perhaps there is an upside to this administration after all. We will survive.

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Mike Myers is our very own symbol of true patriot love, with a touch of class


mike1I know I have a tendency at times (sorry!! it’s a Canadian thing) to gush about books I love, so brace yourself; this is a huge gush. We all know and love fellow Canuck Mike Myers for his Second City and SNL characters as well as his movie roles in Wayne’s World, Austin Powers and Shrek. The Wayne Campbell character was based on his own teenage self. Being funny requires also being smart and Mike Myers displays an abundance of both in his new book about his love affair with Canada appropriately titled Canada.  At nearly four hundred pages, it contains a lot of material but is such a wonderful read I guarantee you won’t be able to put it down (sorry . . . did it again). I read it in less than two days.

Myers’s book is a combination memoir and layman’s guide to all things Canadian. He describes growing up in North York and Scarborough (suburbs of Toronto) with such clarity and relatability that we can practically feel the winter cold, taste the ketchup-flavoured potato chips, hear the shouts on the street of  “game on”, and smell the Tim Horton’s coffee. I once lived in the same neighbourhood around Fairview Mall and can easily picture him and his friend as young boys trying to score hockey stickers from hapless customers at the Don Mills Road and Sheppard Avenue gas station, or envision his family life amidst the white brick high-rise apartment buildings that dominate the neighbourhood.

Like Wayne Gretsky, Myers is endlessly gracious, tossing out dozens of “thank you’s” to everyone along the way who made a positive contribution to his or anyone’s life. His modesty and lack of ego are typically Canadian. The book explains some of our history, our cultural touchstones like the Toronto Maple Leafs, Canadian Tire and Tim Horton’s. He also references our more sophisticated British-influenced sense of humour which is heavy on irony and understatement. As an actor and writer, he’s tuned in to the nuances of language and provides examples of how Canadians, Americans and Brits differ in speech patterns. He has an amazing ear for subtleties.

His Wayne Campbell character was totally based on his teenage self.

His Wayne Campbell character was inspired by his teenage self growing up in “Scarberia”.

His observations of life growing up as a typical Canadian boy are entertaining and enlightening. For many years before cable and satellite, we could only get three television stations in Toronto and as a result of watching Irv Weinstein, Buffalo’s answer to Walter Cronkite (Buffalo: the city of endless fires and shootings), Myers and his friends were always baffled when the eleven o’clock news started with “It’s eleven o’clock. Do you know where your children are?” We all remember that tagline and coming from safe and sane Canada, Myers and the rest of us were left wondering, “What’s going on? Where are the children? Should we get in a car and go down to Buffalo and help find the children?”

After I finished reading the book I checked some of the reviews on Amazon and several people suggested non-Canadians wouldn’t “get it”. I totally disagree. In fact, Canada by Mike Myers should be required reading for every Canadian within and outside our borders. I’ll even go further and suggest it should be required reading for every American whose lack of general knowledge about the world outside their borders, particularly their northern neighbour, is shocking and profound. Myers, who spent the first twenty years of his life in Canada before moving for short time to England then the United States to further his career, agrees. “I live in the States. And you never hear any news about Canada when you live in the States.” Canada, as the title suggests is not an autobiography so there’s a lot of personal information missing about his marriage, family life and what he’s being doing the last few years. It’s a self-described love letter to growing up in Canada, intertwined with history, cultural and political observations of our country. It will warm your heart, just like Mike Myers has done for us for many years now. Schwing!

To order a copy of CANADA by Mike Myers from Amazon, click here.

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I’m sick sick sick of the KKK’s


kardWriters have always been advised and encouraged to write about what they know. Today, I’ve chosen to ignore that advice in order to vent about something I know very little about. Would someone please tell me what is so newsworthy about the Kardashian klan—Kris, Kim, Khloe, Kourtney, Kendall, Kylie—the whole kkk-koven? As part of my research and to be fair to the perpetrators I decided to watch an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians on TV but that only added anger to my state of bewilderment. After 10 minutes I couldn’t take any more and switched channels. Sitting at the head of the table was an old surgically altered woman who goes by the name of Bruce Jenner who may or may not be in a lesbian relationship with Mama Kris. Mama K blessed the whole family and thanked the God of Greed and Great Glorification for her incredible good fortune and the invention of money and plastic surgery.

The rest of the show treated viewers to scenes of entitled, spoiled, insensitive family members whining about other entitled, spoiled, insensitive family members. All this was carried out while sitting aboard a massive yacht anchored somewhere exotic. Perhaps using the word insensitive is unfair. After all, people who do that much name-calling and bitching about their first-world woes must have a level of sensitivity that is higher and far more developed than my own. Otherwise, how could they claim any level of unhappiness living in a world that delivers them every material reward conceivable without actually having to work for it.

Papa K, who passed away in 2003 was best bud, assistant legal counsel and supporter of O.J. Simpson. The kids come from fine stock indeed. In fact, it’s rumoured that one of the little K’s (Kourtney?) was even fathered by Simpson. Credentials don’t come much better than that. The Jenner klan at one time also had their own reality series when Jenner spawn Brody and Brandon were the stars of The Princes of Malibu. At that time, Brody and Brandon’s mother Linda Thompson (ex-girlfriend of Elvis Presley) was married to our very own Canadian music producer David Foster who was step-fathering the spoiled Jenner boys. I also tried watching that but didn’t have the intestinal fortitude. Fortunately, Foster finally saw the light and dumped the ex-Mrs. Jenner. Whew!

I should have probably used some sort of genealogical flow chart to explain the icky interrelationships in the KKK Klan but that would give them more legitimacy than they deserve. Who is financing these people and their lavish lifestyle?  Marlene Arpe had a choice K-quote from Kendall in the Sunday Star, “I want to be taken seriously. People think that this (success) just came to me. But it didn’t.” Arpe’s, “I made the call to Mommy all by myself” says it all. It’s a made-in-America phenomenon that is a sad commentary on the state of the union. I’d like to think it just wouldn’t be korrect here. It’s not very Kanadian, eh!

 

 


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Dear John: I love you


John’s Doyle’s regular column in The Globe and Mail is always an interesting read. Despite my cranky relationship with TV service providers, I genuinely enjoy watching television—well, certain programs anyway. I despise the usurious rates charged by the cable, internet and satellite companies which cost more per month than heat and hydro for my home and rank far lower on the scale of necessary utilities.

Back to my buddy John Doyle, the Globe’s TV critic. We seem to be like-minded in our television tastes and opinions. I don’t like reality shows. I love PBS which fortunately is free. I do enjoy Canada’s basic networks like CBC, Global and CITY but I hate that we can’t live-stream angry old woman2their news programs when we’re visiting in the United States. (I’ve been e-mailing everyone under the sun about this issue for years, to no avail.) I also love HBO, the History Channel and even the Military Channel with its excellent documentaries on World War II. And I’m going to miss Stephen Colbert not being Stephen Colbert any more.

According to Doyle it’s just as well I missed Seth Meyers’ interview with Lena Dunham. I’m a huge fan of Dunham because she’s so (and I hate to use this overworked word) authentic. She’s also incredibly smart, creative and energetic and I’m surprised she didn’t stomp all over Meyers.

In his May 1st column, John Doyle laments the inattention paid by the TV media to white males of a certain age. Do the program decision-makers actually make use of market studies? Why is it that the 18-45 demographic is still targeted as the holy grail. Their market research must date from 1971. Boomers are a much larger slice of the pie and we probably have more money to spend on the drugs, step-in bathtubs, vacations and incontinence products touted by their advertisers. Therefore, we deserve to be catered to and listened to—white males and females, crones, codgers and boomers alike.

tv1Back to my beefs with the cable and satellite sharks. I’ve tried by-passing the service providers by watching via my laptop but that’s not yet a perfect system. A friend gave up on cable years ago and relies on rabbit ears with a fair level of success. But the only way to get HBO and other programs I like is to send Bell Xpressview a gigantic slice of my pension and a pound of my wizened old flesh every month. I’m watching with interest to see what happens with Amazon getting into the movie and TV show rental business.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the current proposal is passed by the government to force service providers to unbundle television channels. Consumers deserve a break and being allowed to pick what programs we are willing to pay for should be a given. Although I’m confident even then they’ll screw us by charging more for what we want.  I currently pay about $25.00/month to PVR programs that are on too late at night or that I’m not home to watch. In the U.S., much as I have my list of beefs with Comcast, I can call up any missed program free on channel 1 or 300. I asked Bell about whether they had that option the other day when I was talking to them about another issue and the guy didn’t know what I was talking about. Nothing is free here – not even choice. All I’m asking for is the ability to watch what I want, when I want and to pay accordingly for those choices.

And in closing, John, I feel so validated to think that you share my opinions. Obviously you’re very smart.


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TV or not TV – that is the question


My relationship with my television satellite supplier is a love/hate thing. Most of the time I hate them for the usurious monthly rates they charge – more than I pay for heat and hydro who provide a more valuable service. However, after years of resisting, I finally caved in a couple of years ago and Continue reading