Category: If I knew then what I know now!

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!

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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!

Worn out – The Sequel

It’s rare that we do follow-up reporting here at the Chronicles, but a recent occurrence related to an earlier story warrants additional coverage.

You’ll recall I shared the sad story of one of my favorite tie’s recent demise. Well, it appears the same fate has fallen upon another piece of cherished neckwear.

Interestingly, I bought this tie at the same Stern’s Department Store in Ocean Township, NJ, way back in the early 90s, and like its red and blue tie rack mate, this one has gone the way of all over worn apparel.

Goodbye old friend!

Goodbye old friend!

This is the last tie from that period that remains in active rotation. I have several more tucked away in a box in the basement. Also in that box are several pairs of suspenders that haven’t held up pants since Ross and Rachel were a couple.

The early 90s was an interesting time in the life of this writer. By this time, the carefree, irresponsible (and highly entertaining) 80s were long over. And I had yet to fully enter the white picket fence, bring home the bacon, stop drinking when you’re buzzed, contribute to a pension fund days of the mid to late 90s and beyond.

By the early 90s, John Sr. was gone and by mid-decade so too was mom.

It was the time when I cared about matching ties to suspenders, going for that Babyface curl (Despite that pesky male pattern baldness thing), kissing up to and not pissing off people who I thought (And so did they) were important.

It was also when I realized I was better at writing news releases than reporting on them, which subsequently led to staying at work really late. Not really working, mind you, just staying late to make an impression on those aforementioned important people (Who truly in retrospect really weren’t nearly as important as I or they thought they were).

The fact that my best memories of those early 90s are the ties I owned certainly says a lot 25 years later.

Those early 90s weren’t all bad. I met this really beautiful young lady in church (Cue lightning bolt) who shortly before the decade ended  became my wife. And yes, I gave up on the Babyface curl.

I made it through those days, and I’m happy to report that I’m a lot less worn out than my 25-year-old neck wear!

Weather or Not

Fewer than vs. Less than

That vs. Which

More Than vs. Over

Home In vs. Hone In


Captioned above are just a few common words and phrases that tend to get misused. I’ve done it, you’ve done it. That kid who got straight As in school has likely done it as well.

I’m really not going all grammar guru on you, because in the grand scheme of things, using dessert (Last night’s apple pie) when you should have used desert (Sahara) ain’t that big of a deal.

That is unless, of course, your livelihood depends – in part – on using proper and something close to correct language.

My old school Webster’s is never too far away

My old school Webster’s is never too far away

Such was the case not to long ago (See, I just did it – I used the wrong to) when I received a blind sales pitch from an advertising firm. Advertising – ironically – a form of communication that generally relies on proper language and grammar.

It was your standard features and benefits sales pitch – a claim here, a reference client name drop there, with a metric or two tossed in for good measure. Nothing I haven’t penned myself (And I know two or three of you within the sound of my digital voice have as well).

Then I came to the ‘ask’…the  “…if you think we can help you…” money shot:


 

I’m not sure if your (company) could benefit from our publishing channel or weather we could make it work for your business. But if you think it could be an interesting solution for your organization, we could organize some time to quickly find out if it could work for your (company).


Did you catch it?

weather we could make it work for your business.

Did this little slip up effect (See, I did it again) this sales professional’s chances with me? Not really. I was already turned off by the poor targeting (Fancy Marketing term) that led to my receiving a sales pitch that should have gone to someone else in our organization.

I was more amused than put off by this linguistic faux pas. It could happen to any of us – really it could – using weather (the stuff outside) when you meant whether (a toss-up between two alternatives).

Which is why proofreading is such a useful tool.

Unfortunately, it’s a tool that sometimes goes unused in our hurry up and get it out the door so I can make my number society.

I only hope the next thyme this sales professional rights a pitch, they revue it to insure their are no embarrassing misuse of any words.

Well, I best rap this up so I can take my dog out for a walk before the son goes down and the whether turns bad.

Sunday Horoscope

My grandmother used to swear by her horoscope. I have vivid childhood memories of her reviewing the daily astrological predictions. She wouldn’t stop at her forecast. She’d review the family’s daily prognostication and that of any neighbors who might have happened by for a morning cup of coffee.

Even as a kid, I never took those predictions too seriously. Even though – I must admit – over the years I did continue to check in from time to time on what the stars had in store for me.

Now, since I get most of my daily news digitally, I don’t have get much of a chance to check in on my daily foretelling – at least not in the same manner and format as my grandmother’s daily practice.

Except on Sunday.

The Sunday paper is the only old school printed paper I still read from cover to cover – even though any breaking news I’ve likely been made aware of hours before on my trusty mobile communications device (My views on print vs. digital news distribution and absorption might serve as the topic of a future conversation).

Every now and then the stars get it right!

Every now and then the stars get it right!

Yes, part of my Sunday paper ritual is a review of the daily horoscope. Please forgive the lengthy set up, but this is why we’re gathered here today.

I’d like to share with you some thoughts on the forecast I received this morning.

Today’s horoscope said (paraphrasing) No one likes the know-it-all until the time comes when no one else seems to know anything.

No, I’m not suggesting that I am that know it all referenced in today’s mystical prediction. It may simply be that I’ve been in situations where things grind to a halt because no one is willing to step up and take action (I might be Viennese Waltzing my way around my editorial policy against matters too close to  the 9 to 5, so I think I’ll pump my brakes just a bit).

I found today’s horoscope quite appropriate on the fourth day of a new year. We can’t be afraid to take action – even if it means being branded a know it all. Stepping up and trying to help solve a problem or accomplish a task is often a better alternative than siding with those who favor stagnation, indecision and inaction.

To borrow and paraphrase the Bard, The fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves.

 

Happy (Belated) New Year

This is a slightly adjusted version of the post I intended to offer yesterday, until something came up a couple of nights ago. But since it is still New Year’s weekend, I’ll ask your indulgence as I slip this one in under the wire.

Before I sat down to figure out how to tackle 2015, I thought it would make sense to check in on what I set out to accomplish in 2014.

At the start of last year I simply made a pledge to do more, and I submitted several examples of things I might want to do more of – and thankfully, many of those things I was successful in doing more of.

Enjoying a 50th birthday cruise, ghost writing for a couple of my pals and dusting off my old six string are just a few tangible, concrete examples of doing more in 2014.

This years list will include being useful to others

This year’s list will include being useful to others

Forgive the digression, but I was chatting with another 50-something midlifer who was telling me about his aggressive fitness regimen – a regimen that starts at 4:30 in the morning. I asked this early riser if he gives himself a day or two during the week to sleep in.

He responded, “John, I’ve been sleeping in the past 25 years. It’s time to wake up and be productive!”

This year, I will work hard to be more productive and continue to do more, but as I mentioned in our earlier conversation, I want to focus on how I can do more for others.

Bear with me as I toss out what might appear to be an awkward analogy.

For too often, I’ve been looking in the mirror and focusing on the reflection that appeared before me. Instead, I will view the mirror as more of a clear glass and train my focus beyond the needs of the guy staring back at me.

Like I said…awkward, but I think you get the idea.

Now I don’t plan on making any dramatic, drastic moves like joining the Peace Corps or something of that magnitude. I want to start small. What that looks like, I don’t know, but I will figure it out and when I do, I’ll share those insights with you.

It’s hard to believe I’ve begun the year with a pair of back to back serious, deep thinking posts. Trust me, we won’t continue this pattern. After all, if I’m going to do more for others, I certainly can start by making it a goal not to bore to death the one or two people who regularly read these pages.

Do it for the greater good

Don’t run away, this isn’t another blatant example of loyal fan worship of the greatest duo in musical history – I’m only using them, or better stated one of them as an example.

Allow me to explain.

http://www.examiner.com/article/bonnaroo-2013-artist-interview-john-oates-part-1

Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

The ‘one of them’ is John Oates, who was the subject of a recent article discussing – among other things – why the duo’s biggest hits feature Daryl Hall’s lead vocals.

According to John (because in my mind we’re on a first name basis),
“…over the years…Daryl’s voice became synonymous with the sound of Hall and Oates…”

Stay with me, we’re almost there. John goes on to say,

“Daryl’s voice just connected on radio…It connected in a way that made us popular — and I had to make some decisions with some of the songs…Should I have Daryl sing it and have the possibility of having a No. 1 record or should I sing it and there’s a good possibility it might not be a No. 1 record?”

He concludes…

“And that’s maybe why Daryl and I have existed over the years, because I was willing to make a lot of those hard decisions.”

 

Where am I going with this?

John made decisions that were best for the band, best for business and best for their relationship.

Compromise? Maybe.

Sacrifice? Possibly.

Setting personal interests aside and doing something for the greater good? Definitely!

And that’s my point, sometimes it takes a healthy amount of self-confidence to enable us to put ego aside and look at the bigger picture and the subsequent bigger benefits.

In most cases, of course, we have to look out for number one (song cue), but every now and then, it makes sense to be number 1.5 or 2.

Now don’t get all worked up. I’m by no means suggesting selling out, tossing aside your principles or allowing yourself to be taken advantage of. I just think there are times – in our personal and business lives – when we have to step back, be confident and comfortable in our own skin and think less about what’s best for us, but what’s best for the – take your pick – relationship, partnership, business, and I’m sure there are others.

And yes, sometimes it’s okay to let someone else sing lead vocals.

(Alright, just a little fan worship. Even though Daryl (again first name basis) sang the big hits, John was no slouch vocally – check out a couple these deep cuts for proof)