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Now’s the time for a great American President

Where’s a John F. Kennedy or a Franklin Roosevelt when the American people really need one. After watching the Trump/Clinton debate last night, I came away with one thought: thank heaven I don’t have to cast a vote in the American election. I wouldn’t want to bear any responsibility for the future of the United States based on my choice on election day. Whatever the outcome, the results are going to be scary for the American people, although I would love to be proven wrong.  It’s amazing how they arrived at two equally disliked candidates, but that’s democracy at work. I can see the book just waiting to be written: “The Rise and Fall of the United States of America”.

Then, this morning I burst out laughing when I read the editorial cartoon in today’s Globe and Mail called “Pick one” by Brian Gable. I couldn’t have said it better.

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Start the car sweetie dahlings, start the car!

abfab2Eddy and Patsy are in town—or more accurately, now in a movie theatre near you, if you’re lucky. The long-awaited Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie has finally been released and I can’t wait to see it. As a long-time fan of British humour and in particular the BBC series starring Jennifer Saunders and Joanne Lumley on which the movie is based, I’m beside myself with excitement. It’s one of the few television series for which I own the entire boxed set of shows dating from 1992.

Absolutely Fabulous chronicles the lives of Edina Monsoon and Patsy Stone who personify past-their-prime fashionistas and best friends who selfishly embrace every new fashion, diet, beauty and social fad that appears. Edina runs her own faltering PR firm and Patsy has some vague position with a fashion mag. Both are brutally self-centred remnants of the hippie era who embrace all of life’s vices including smoking, lite drug use and drinking copious amount of “bolly”.

abfab1Jennifer Saunders is the creative genius behind Absolutely Fabulous which she writes and delivers with piercing humour. The Globe and Mail actually gave it three stars out of four and while I don’t usually agree with movie reviews, I have a feeling they’re pretty close to the money this time. It’s a cult movie for mature women everywhere. Stay tuned for my review; I’m heading for the movie theatre now. Start the car, sweetie dahling!

 

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Gretsky’s way off his game

Celebrity endorsements are not necessarily the best choice.
Celebrity endorsements are not necessarily the best choice.

Don’t you find it ironic that Wayne Gretsky endorsed Stephen Harper in the recent federal election? Mr. Harper’s government was responsible for the legislation that denied non-resident Canadians like Mr. Gretsky the privilege of voting in Canada. When the issue of whether Canadians who live outside the country should be denied the right to vote was in the news, we heard from various high-profile non-residents like Donald Sutherland who strongly objected to the new regulation. My initial reaction was that if you’re Canadian you should have the right to vote here. Then, sensibility clicked in.

The blocking of Canadian television in the United States is a disgrace.
The blocking of Canadian television in the United States is a disgrace.

Wayne Gretsky lives in the United States. Anyone who lives in the United States or visits there knows only too well that Canadian news is treated like Al Qaeda propoganda in the land of so-called opportunity. Canadian television stations are blacked out in the United States by insane regulations and local cable/satellite networks. This is despite the fact in Canada we can easily access American networks across various media. Perhaps it’s their paranoia that there might be some objectivity and truth in “foreign” broadcasts that prohibits our point of view from filtering across the border.

The ongoing, persistent lack of Canadian perspective and exposure in American media means American residents really have no idea of what Canada is about, what we stand for, and have little knowledge of what is actually going on in the rest of the world outside the U.S. borders.  That being the case, how can someone who lives in the United States full-time truly understand the complexities of our political and economic situation on a day-to-day basis. Although there is a great deal of information available on-line, there’s nothing more informative than reading local newspapers, watching local news and talking to your neighbours and members of your community to fully understand the implications of political decisions.

Until you have actual skin in the game, don't complain about not being able to vote in Canada.
Until you have actual skin in the game, don’t complain about not being able to vote in Canada.

For these reasons, I think that non-resident Canadians’ right to vote should not be a given. But even more important, is the fact they do not pay taxes in this country. One of the first things our expat superstars do is establish residency in the United States or some tax-sheltering European country rather than pay taxes in and support the country of their birth. Entertainers and professional athletes are famous for this. Until you have “skin in the game” you have no right to a say in how our country is run or by whom. The issue of dual-citizenship is complicated and prone to the vagaries of interpretation. If you’re a Canadian who wants to vote here, then put your money where your mouth is and pay taxes here. Then we’ll let you vote.

 

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Glad I went to McFarland

Movies about sports aren’t usually my first choice but the opportunity of a night out with a couple of girlfriends with a tankful of Diet Coke and bushel of movie popcorn was just too tempting to resist. The movie we went to see is McFarland USA starring Kevin Costner and I particularly liked the fact it is based on a true story set in 1987.  It’s the story of a high school physical education teacher and football coach who is dismissed from a series of jobs because of anger issues and is forced to relocate to a poor, immigrant town in Southern California that represents everything he does not want for his family. Ironically, their last name is “White”.

The movie is based on a true story and while the premise is predictable it's also encouraging and inspiring.
The movie is based on a true story and while the premise is predictable it’s also uplifting and inspiring.

Driving into the Hispanic farming community of McFarland, the family is confronted with their what appears to be their worst fears—grinding poverty, language barriers, social problems and cultural alienation. The high school students he teaches get up at forty-thirty every morning, hop into the back of a pickup truck to go and pick vegetables to augment the family income before they run to school a few hours later. After school, they repeat the process, in reverse.

Kostner’s character, Jim White once again is dismissed as football coach at his new school but after noticing the running skills of his students he decides to introduce them to the world of competitive cross-country track. He recruits seven students and after training and winning several events, they defy the odds and prove the value of effort.

I don’t want to give the entire story away but I will say the theme reminded me of why I enjoyed Clint Eastwood’s Grand Torino so much. Too often we judge others by unfair stereotypical preconceptions. Fear of what we do not know or lack of understanding is often at the root of prejudice. We need to be reminded of this from time to time. And to count our blessings that hopefully our children and grandchildren don’t have to pick vegetables for three or four hours before and after school every day to keep food on the family table. For all our bounty, we give thanks. This movie was a lovely surprise and is definitely a thumbs-up.

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Boomer’s family deals with parents’ legacy

Point o' View was the Oakville family home for Plum Johnson and her four younger brothers growing up in the fifties and sixties.
Point o’ View was the Oakville family home for Plum Johnson and her four younger brothers growing up in the fifties and sixties.

Plum Johnson, author of They Left Us Everything is a Baby Boomer raised in Oakville, Ontario. In 1952, her British veteran father and southern American mother landed in the village when it was little more than a farming community with a few stores and a tiny population. Her family bought a nineteenth century twenty-three-room lakefront home with eight bedrooms for a few thousand dollars. They were only the third family to occupy the house which had originally been built as a summer cottage and where her parents lived for the next sixty-five years.

For twenty years, Johnson and her brothers had been caregivers for their once-vibrant and world-travelled parents before they died. Her handsome and very regimented British father suffered with Alzheimer’s for twelve years before he passed away and her mother lived two more years in the massive house with the ongoing help of Johnson, her brothers and a live-in Tibetan couple.

They Left Us Everything is a sensitive and engaging description of her parents’ life and their final decline. Johnson describes her own frustrations as the result of her mother’s frustrations inherent with aging. For a vibrant woman who had once entertained as many as two hundred people during Christmas holidays to be tethered to an oxygen tank and unable to walk more than a few steps without stopping to rest, those frustrations were enormous.

The book was not without humorous anecdotes such as the story of her brother taking their Alzheimer’s-afflicted father on a Caribbean cruise to give her mother a break. Their father was convinced he’d gone around the world visiting such exotic destinations Borneo, London and Japan and regaled the family with his fantasy-based hilarious tales when he returned home. We share Johnson’s grief, not only for the loss of her parents but that of her brother, Sandy who died of cancer at the age of forty-two. The family and the house both have a fascinating history.

Conducting an inventory of the family belongings grew from a six-week project to nearly two years while Johnson occupied the home. During that time, while going through their possessions, Johnson and her brothers learned things about their parents they never knew and gained a new kind of respect for the people they had been. The difficulties and physical demands of dealing with the detritus of a lifetime are detailed in a way that is engaging and educational for the reader. There are numerous situations Baby Boomers will identify with in relation to our own parents. They Left Us Everything is a fast read but it is a book you won’t be able to put down. I loved it and I have a feeling you will too.

For further insights into the Boomer perspective on business, fashion, mind and body, book and movie reviews, order my book, BOOMERBROADcast. It makes a great hostess or birthday gift as well as just a fun read.

Click on this link:   http://www.lulu.com or  http://www.amazon.com

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Feminist is not a four-letter word

feministBad Feminist by Roxane Gay is a current New York Times Bestseller. I was drawn to reading the book because the format appeared to resemble many aspects of my own book, BOOMERBROADcast. The book is a series of personal essays sorted into categories that reflect the author’s opinions on a variety of popular topics, such as, movies and television, books, racism, classism and of course, feminism. Call it research. I purchased the book to see what made Gay a New York Times best-selling author while I am not.

Roxane Gay is a very complicated lady. Born in desperately poor Haiti, she moved to the United States with her parents where she grew up, often living in predominately white communities. Despite being among the brightest in her class she was marginalized because she was visibly different from her classmates, with bad hair and a quirky personality. Whatever constituted her difficult early life, the result is a complex mix of intelligence, anger, conflict and drive. From playing Scrabble to achieving academic excellence, Gay is driven to prove herself the best of the best.

My copy of Bad Feminist is full of yellow highlighter marks and Post-It flags. The author proffers some insightful observations on current issues, for example:

Privilege is a relative state. “Nearly everyone, particularly in the developed world, has something someone else doesn’t, something someone else yearns for. . . .We tend to believe that accusations of privilege imply we have it easy which we resent because life is hard for nearly everyone. . . To have privilege in one or more areas does not mean you are wholly privileged.”

Citing several examples of bad behaviour by celebrities and professional athletes, she says, ““We live in a culture where athletes are revered, and overlooking terrible, criminal behavior is the price we are seemingly willing to pay for our reverence.” This behaviour should be treated as unacceptable and if necessary, criminal regardless of the offender.

Heterosexual men really do have advantages not shared by women or the LGBT community. “Heterosexuals take the privacy of their sexuality for granted. They can date, marry, and love whom they choose without needing to disclose much of anything. If they do choose to disclose, there are rarely negative consequences.” Why should anyone other than heterosexuals have to “come out”? It should be a non-issue.

Drawing parallels with my own humble book may sound egotistical. I’m neither as educated nor as smart as Roxane Gay but I agree with her opinions on many issues and disagree on many. I do not, however, bear the burden of anger and indignation she does. But she’s still only in her thirties and at sixty-seven I’ve now worked through most of my shit. When Baby Boomers were her age and at her stage in life, we were also searching for justice, fairness, reward and answers. That’s what the journey of life is all about. It eventually gets better, much better, but life will never be fair nor easy. That’s not to say we shouldn’t keep fighting for feminism and other causes that are simply right.  In my opinion, however, Bad Feminist is more about racism than feminism but any “ism” is undoubtedly something that needs attention. And I still do not know why Bad Feminist is a New York Time Bestseller and mine is not. Perhaps you could enlighten me.

For further insights into the Boomer perspective on business, fashion, mind and body, book and movie reviews, order my book, BOOMERBROADcast. It makes a great hostess or birthday gift as well as just a fun read.

Click on this link:   http://www.lulu.com or  http://www.amazon.com

 

 

 

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