Slowing Down

One of my favorite daily rituals is taking my best four-legged friend for his nightly stroll. The walk serves a variety of functions. One, the obvious, Rocky gets to handle his business. Two, on those times the child comes along, I get to hear a recap of her day. Three, and what I really appreciate is that the daily dog walk is a really useful way of walking off any trials and tribulations from the just concluded day at the 9:5.Spider Web

Unfortunately, a few late days at the gig have caused me to rush through our nightly strolls (Why so late? I’d tell you, but there’s that pesky editorial policy that puts an East Germany during the height of the Cold War like wall between me and chatting too specifically about things occupational).

However, after getting home at a normal time one night this week, Rocky and I were able to enjoy one of our traditional full-length strolls. As we were returning home, I saw what looked like a thin piece of tissue paper blowing at the base of a tree on a small mound of pine straw (What we Southerners use as our primary medium for mulch). Upon closer inspection, that fluttering gossamer, gauzy looking thing appeared to be a spider web.

Don’t ask me why, but I dropped to a Peter Parker like crouch to shoot some footage (A true sight to see…a guy my size in a deep squat that would make the featured dancer at the Pink Pony jealous).

Now, I’ve never been what you’d call Johnny Nature, but from time to time, something outdoorsy will catch my eye. And no, I won’t go all William Wordsworth on you and wax poetic about things fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

It’s just a spider web blowing in a gentle wind.

My friends, the moral of the story is if I had not taken the time to relax, leave the angst of the day that was behind and enjoy my time outdoors with my canine homie, I would have missed this little natural phenomenon.

As we’ve discussed before, I guess sometimes you have to slow down, and if you don’t have any roses to smell – stop and marvel at a spider web or two!

An unspoiled day at the movies

We caught the Avengers Age of Ultron a few days back, and I didn’t know what to expect.

Allow me to explain.

Image: Marvel Cinematic Universe Wiki

Image: Marvel Cinematic Universe Wiki

Way back when, I didn’t know Superman would spin the Earth like a top to save Lois, nor did I know Mickey would go code blue in Rocky III (There is a statute of limitations on spoilers isn’t there?). The reason I didn’t know these iconic plots twists is because the two aforementioned films weren’t dissected and previewed ad nauseam on fanboy blogs and 24-hour entertainment sites.

Of course I’m waxing poetic about those analog days before computers got personal. Those were the days when the only way to get spoilers was to talk to your buddy who may have caught the movie in question before you did.

I don’t spend every waking moment on social media but even the most cursory glance of the Internets is enough to expose one to previews and speculations on what fans can expect from the summer’s first blockbuster.

In the days leading up to catching the Avengers,I had to engage in a sort of media blackout so I wouldn’t inadvertently stumble across a critical plot twist.

I’m not going all Johnny Luddite and advocating a return to the pre-Internet dark ages (Even though it would be nice to go back to a time when my cable bill was under $20 a month). I simply want to enjoy my blockbusters spoiler free.

It’s just that if I’m applying for a home equity loan to take in a film with all the concession stand trimmings, I’d like to have the surprise and pleasure of knowing that Haley Joel really did see dead people!

Oh yeah, how was the Avengers?

I won’t say too much because there are more than enough terabytes of data peeling this story apart, but it’s a decent film. Great action scenes, but there were more than a couple of inconsistencies with previous films (Iron 3 and Cap 2) in the Marvel universe (Sorry to go all geek on you!). Robert Downey Stark Jr. had the best lines, that Olsen kid really stepped out of her sisters’ shadow and I gotta admit Chris Evans inspires me to do a few more push ups!

But the best part of the movie was toward the end when….oops, I don’t want to spoil it for you!

Brothers and Sisters

A sad day in the basement

I often enjoy rooting around in my basement. If you haven’t gathered by some of our past conversations, I’m a bit of a sentimentalist and from time to time I’ve been known to take a stroll down memory lane.

Brothers and Sisters

What a great book!

Such was the case a few days ago when I was going through some old books. Maybe this has happened to you, but when I pick up an old book, I not only think about its content, but I immediately think back to where I was in my life when I first read it, what was going on in my world and the world around me.

One such book is Brothers and Sisters by Bebe Moore Campbell.  Released in 1994 (Right in the thick of my striped tie and suspender wearing wanna be buppie days), Brothers and Sisters is set in Los Angeles during the aftermath of the Rodney King beating and the subsequent riots (Forgive the digression, but ain’t it funny how history has a way of repeating itself). The main character of the story is a woman of color who’s trying her best to ascend the corporate ladder and have some semblance of a personal life.

It’s a decent story that 20 plus years later still stands up as a good read.

It’s such a good read, that while rummaging around the basement I thought to myself, what is Ms. Campbell up to these days. It’s been awhile, and I’d love to read any of her new material. So I took out my trusty mobile communications device and asked Siri (Because I’m a geek like that) to give me all she had on Bebe Moore Campbell.

Sadly, the first item among the search results was an obituary. Bebe Moore Campbell lost a fight with cancer In 2006.

Upon learning of her death, I uncharacteristically made things all about me. I was annoyed that I wouldn’t get any new material from her. I can count on one hand the scant number of authors I enjoy, and now that number was cut by one.

Campbell left behind a family for whom her death means more than just not having a good book to read. This reality fortunately snapped me out of what was an embarrassing atypical display of selfishness.

A wonderful feature of books (Paper versus digital is a debate for another day) is that they last and the stories they tell — especially good ones like Brothers and Sisters — endure.

Sorry I’m late, but rest in peace Bebe.

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How’s your falsetto?

I treated myself to a copy of Daryl Hall and John Oates Live in Dublin performance DVD. You all know how much I dig those guys, so I won’t weigh you down with a review of the concert.

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The guys offered up a deep track (Unless you’re a long time fan) you’ve never heard before. It’s a song from 1976 called “Back Together Again.”

The song’s chorus is punctuated by Daryl Hall’s smooth falsetto. Fast forward nearly 40 years to the performance of the same song from the Live from Dublin concert.

You’ll notice that Daryl’s falsetto is a little grittier. And that’s to be expected from a vocalist who’s been in the game longer than some readers of these pages have been on this planet.

So, where am I going with this?

I’ll tell you, but first, please buckle your seat belts because we’re going to take a quick trip down the philosophical highway!

Daryl Hall’s seasoned falsetto is a metaphor for what many of us 50+ midlifers are experiencing.

Can we still hit the high notes of our youth? Probably not (And in some cases, why would we want to? Some songs from our old catalog may best remain unsung – if you know what I’m saying!). But our more seasoned voices are still strong enough to rock the house.

And to keep this musical analogy going, kinda like an encore. (Get those lighters up!),

I’m sure many of my fellow performers in the band that is midlife would agree, we’re at a meaningful point in our existence where it’s more fulfilling to please a small amount of true fans in an intimate club setting, versus trying to make everyone happy in an overflowing stadium.

Ouch, I should have warmed up before that stretch. I think I got a groin pull!

Anyway, rock on Daryl! And to my fellow midlife band mates, yeah, our falsetto may have a little age on it, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop singing our song!

Paper chase

I love my smart phone. I enjoy having a music player, camera, GPS, gaming handheld and – oh yeah – a telephone all in one device. Despite my admiration for this modern convenience, I still can’t get myself to consistently use it to manage my to do list. In fact, the task ‘write blog post’ is scribbled on a piece of paper and not posted in my to do list application.

We had a similar version of this conversation nearly four years ago. No surprise, not much has changed.

To Do ListGiving it some thought, the reason why I still lean on a paper to do list is the ability to quickly jot down a task in my trusty notebook versus the multi-step process of waking up the device, opening the app, going to the ‘new item’ screen, my chubby fingers and the typos that ensue and finally saving the entry.

What’s ironic, my notebook of choice is a pocket-size Moleskine. For some reason I also have a Moleskine notebook app on my phone. I suppose you can guess which one gets the most use.

Of course my handwritten to do list doesn’t provide the ability to set reminders, color code, forward, archive or share my tasks on social media.

And I’m OK with that.

In the highly-technological world in which we live, sometimes a simple non-tech solution is equally effective as a digital alternative.

I could go on, but there are a few more tasks on this dog-eared piece of scrap paper that I have to knock out before the day is over.

 

 

Happy Feet

I have friend who recently retired. He’s nearly 20 years my senior. We didn’t have a lot in common (Which often makes for the best friendships) but one thing we did share is a deep and reverential respect for a good, comfortable – dare I say – sensible shoe.

It was always a sight to see – two grown men fawning over the form and features of their newest kicks in a manner that would put Carrie Bradshaw to shame.

As I mentioned, my friend retired not too long ago, so I was on my own when I comfortably walked into the 9:5 in my latest footwear finery – (Hey! Shouldn’t I get a little coin for this product endorsement?) a well-made pair of cushiony soft Rockport oxfords.shoes

No, I won’t win any style points and I don’t expect to get a call from GQ. In fact someone very close to me paid these shoes the ultimate comment – “…they’re only a little ugly.”

And I’m OK with that!

I have fond and vivid memories as an adolescent in the disco tinged late 70s, suiting up for church and cramming my dogs into a pair of  Italian (Made in China) leather (Leatherette) Tony Manero knockoffs.

And as we’ve discussed in these pages, I suffered through a wingtips and suspenders yuppie phase back in the 90s.

Yes, I still have a couple pairs of (Look better than they feel) dress shoes in my closet (Sadly nothing like my old James Brown boots from 84 with the slick Cuban heels) and from time to time you may see me wear them, but for the most part, my midlife shoe choices lean more toward function than fashion.

I don’t miss my teens, 20s and 30s (Well, maybe the 20s – just a little bit) and the self-imposed pressure to follow the style trends of the day. With age comes perspective and with perspective comes the reality that feeling good in one’s own skin is much more meaningful and goes deeper than the clothes or shoes we wear.

Whoa – Sorry I didn’t flash my turn signal before making that sharp left into the philosophical lane! See how clear the mind is when your feet feel good!

Paper Jam

Readers of a certain age might remember during their youth catching a never ending supply of reruns of a 60s cartoon called the Jetsons. This was a story about a futuristic family that lived in a space-aged world complete with flying cars and robot housekeepers.250px-Jetsonslogo640x480 As a little boy in the early 70s watching this show, I envisioned a future where I could have some of the same 21st century innovations enjoyed by George, Jane his wife, daughter Judy and – we can’t forget – his boy Elroy! (Ain’t it funny how I can remember the lyrics to a cartoon I watched 40+ years ago, but I have to write a note to myself to pick up the dry cleaning after work Monday?) What made me think about this classic cartoon was the meticulous preparation one must undergo to perform that quinquennial ritual of getting one’s driver’s license renewed. You see in my state, and most likely yours, one must provide social security verification and – among other things – proof of residency in the form of printed utility bills, bank statements or similar documents. IMG_0346Editor’s note: Here at the Chronicles, we have a long-standing, vigorously enforced no bitch and moan policy. So please don’t view this post as my complaining. Truth be told, I zipped through the process this morning in under an hour. My issue is simply my surprise that in 2015, we are still so dependent on paper documents for identity verification. In fact, this is one of the few times I can think of that I have to dust off my decades old original social security card. I guess those old habits are hard to break. We may never arrive at time when we’re walking around with bar codes tattooed to our necks like that old Jessica Alba Sci-Fi drama from the early millennium, nor will we ever have RFID chips subcutaneously embedded. Of course given the recent spate of digital identity thefts and security breaches, maybe hanging on to our paper roots ain’t such a bad thing. I wonder if George Jetson had to print out his Spacely Sprockets pay stub or the title to his flying car to verify his identity at the motor vehicles office?