What A Day For A Sack Race

Herald Sun
Herald Sun

Ruby, Elsie, and Alison show their competitive skills in Wandin (a suburb of Melbourne) in 1957, representing for the Collingwood branch of the (before political correctness took the accuracy out of terms) Old Age and Invalid Pensioners’ Association. Way to stay active!

Still Going At 99

source: Riviera Cocktail
source: Riviera Cocktail

The lady in black is Zsa Zsa Gabor (with husband #3 of 9 George Sanders schlepping the bags) chatting up Earl Blackwell at the 1953 Cannes Film Festival.

Yes, nine husbands. “I am a marvelous housekeeper: Every time I leave a man I keep his house.”

Yes, she is 99 years old, just like the 1980 Toto song by the same name.

While none of us was alive when she was crowned Miss Hungary in 1936, most of our parents weren’t even born when she came into this world in 1917. A stamp cost two cents, women couldn’t vote, Buffalo Bill Cody was in his last year, Chaplin starred in silent films, and the “I Want You” poster, featuring Uncle Sam, attracted thousands of U.S. recruits to WWI duty.

Here she was on her 94th birthday with husband #9.


He plans to throw her a big party this summer to celebrate her 100th birthday (prematurely) and then return to Budapest, her original home, to spend the rest of her life.


Lieberman Center Afternoon Social

source: Harry Benson
source: Harry Benson

90-year-old Illinois resident Celia Goldie belts out a rendition of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” in 1988.

Two things I notice right off the bat:

  1. Old peeps are always cold and keep the cardigan market in business.
  2. Men die first.

Just look how even the gender population is at age 64. But by 85, the men are barely represented.


If you’re interested in moving in, the Lieberman Center serves kosher food, and the current daily rate for a room is $278. Wow–that’s more than double our daily household income! But keep in mind that most of that is covered by Medicare and Medicaid.

For her part,  Mrs. Goldie was quoted as saying, “I hope I drop dead before I’m here one year.” She was profiled in an October 1988 People article as such:

Nearby, a nurse spoon-feeds ice cream to a man strapped into a wheelchair. Beside him, a woman dozes, her head against her walker.

“Look at them—half of them are dead,” Celia says, waving her hand. “I’m alive. I guess I have to make the best of a bad bargain. What can I do? I can’t go back. So I have to like it here. You look around you, and you realize how grateful you are.”

Per articles.chicagotribune.com, she died in September of 1989 at Rush North Shore Medical Center in Skokie. She had been a resident of the Lieberman Geriatric Center for 13 1/2 months.

For more on Celia’s story, visit: http://www.people.com/.


All I Want For Christmas Is For Mariah To Dial It Down


We don’t need to rehash the Rockefeller Christmas Tree incident. Singers age and so, too, their vocal chords. I’ve winced recently when both James Taylor and Amy Grant tried to reach those old high notes. God bless them for trying but sometimes old goats can’t do young goat tricks.

Time catches up with the best and richest of us. And enough already with the 44-year-old decolletage. This is not a vision of love.


You’re a married mommy, remember? Yes, technically still married. You are better than this.

I wish you could stay the lithe, curlyheaded racially questionable five-octave pre-diva chanteuse that you were my freshman year of college, but it’s not possible. You remember her? The one who married the cadaver from Tales From The Crypt?

Ick. I could have told you marrying Smarmy Much-Older Tommy Mottola was a bad choice.

But nearly a quarter century has passed since my buddies and I would pass college bars where drag queens belted out “Love Takes Time” in strapless sequined dresses.  Time has been taken, my dear. It has been took.

So just be 44. Use a little more material. Cover it up. Stop trying to splash around in a bikini in the fountain of youth. You’ll just drown. Or worse, flail about pitiably while your middle-aged orbs spill out. From one 40-something to another: honey, just run for dry land. Let the fountain alone.


Mercy, even the trash man is trying to scoop you into a recycling bin. At least let him take the dress. Or the duct tape Borderline gloves.

You still get to be Mariah. You just can’t be Forever 21. So sit back and collect royalties and obsess over glittery butterflies and Marilyn Monroe and raise dem babies. And don’t kick Nick to the curb. He seems like such a nice boy, such nice manners. I’d introduce him to my Nana. Why, I saw him help Lara Spencer on with her pink coat this morning on Good Morning America. With or without his ruby slippers and velveteen jackets, he’s the best thing to ever hit America’s Got Talent. Give him a second chance. You knew he was young when you married him. You knew you’d have to raise him up.

And if you’re feeling perimenopausal and hormonal, feel free to throw shade all over Nicki Minaj. I don’t care if it is her birthday today. Do what you do best.


Look on the bright side: you can still be beautiful with clothes on. You’re not dead like Whitney. You can sing better than all of us poor peons who don’t have a Morrocan-style hookah lounge; you just can’t sang like in days of yore. But that’s First World Problems, girl. While your peers are busy misplacing car keys, you can chuckle in your rainstorm of Benjamins. Who needs car keys when you have a driver?

You can still be the mistress of condescension. Time hasn’t slowed that down.


And look, I’ll go one better. I won’t tag this post “vintage” like I usually do.




Fifty Years Old

Happy 50th birthday to Molly Shannon, who really does turn 50 years old today! She used to crack me up in her Saturday Night Live (SNL) Sally O’Malley sketches, as a limber 50-year-old woman kicking and stretching, proud of her age and agility. She would hike her pants up to her ribcage without shame.


That’s Molly Shannon in a nutshell. Shameless. Fearless. You remember her jumping backwards into folding chairs when she played Mary Catherine Gallagher?


Please don’t be one of those people who said they stopped watching SNL in the 80s. There are always funny skits; you just have to wait it out during the 3 total shows they do each year and the 49 reruns they show. If there wasn’t any talent, it wouldn’t have lasted since 1975. There wouldn’t be a Portlandia today. No Bill Murray, pointing his finger at me, telling me I’m awesome. And I, for one, don’t want to imagine a world without Will Ferrell.


So happy birthday, Molly Shannon. I hope you and your husband of a decade, Fritz Chestnut (oh, that’s a good one for the Blog of Funny Names), have a lovely day! You are a SUPERSTAR!



Rearview Mirror


This year, this picture will be 20 years old. I took this the first (and last) time I ever went water-skiing. After that summer, my toes would never again touch that lake water, nor would I return to that little town. I didn’t edit the picture in any way; it just has that curious green hue. Now it seems like a metaphor for looking back at youth, vigor, athleticism, the wide hope of your whole life ahead of you–all in the past, but captured by that cheap little camera. For those of us living insular lives, not traveling the world or checking off entries on Bucket Lists–those of us just trying to get by–it’s a nice reminder to know, as Sandra Bullock’s character says in Hope Floats, “Once upon a time your mama knew what it meant to shine.”

The Blood of Young Runaways

How do I stay so healthy and boyishly handsome? It’s simple. I drink the blood of young runaways.–William Shatner

When you think of fitness, Jane Fonda or Denise Austin may come to mind. But no doubt William Shatner isn’t far behind.

Don't point that thing at me!
Don’t point that thing at me!

In the newest acquisition to my library…


…Shatner explains his health and fitness secrets.


In the last thirty years, his metabolism slowed, as metabolisms do. Here he is retrieving a discarded french fry on a Hawaiian beach.


But this is nothing new. Folks have made mockery of his midsection for many years.

www.aoltv.com (does AOL even exist any more?)

In fact, Captain Kirk appears to be sickened by the mere thought of Sweating to the Oldies.

www.aoltv.com (does AOL even exist any more?)

Uh-oh! Someone got a little too close to that flame!


Actually, the flame was due less to Richard Simmons and more to the perils of frying turkey for Thanksgiving, which Shatner discusses here:

Flame-free and portly, he’s still truckin’ at 82 years old (and several months older than Regis!). Last year, he performed in a one-man show on Broadway, called Shatner’s World: We Just Live in It, and he makes consistent appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.  Clearly, he’s having the last laugh.


Not bad for a Canadian.

Face Plant

Keep frowning, Jen; you'll get there in time. www.huffingtonpost.com
Keep frowning, Jen; you’ll get there in time.

Every morning, I look in the mirror, and I see that little frown line that won’t go away, no matter how many hundreds of moisturizer bottles and creams and serums that I’ve used for twenty years.  They all promise reduction in wrinkles and improved skin appearance, and definite results within 8 weeks, but I’m here to tell you that not a one of them has ever worked.  Ever.  This is not an invitation for you to comment about how great your skin care regimen is, because I won’t believe you.

With my long blonde hair now, I look like a surfer Gordon Ramsay, or perhaps Gordon if he was ever a hippie/stoner/metalhead.  He actually had a professional come in and tweak his face, but seriously, he still looks old and wrinkly.  But he’s got a great head of hair and an expression like a chunky nine-month old Aryan baby, so that works for him.


Honestly, I look better than his “after” picture, but that doesn’t prevent me from wanting to get a sander and just smooth out those creases in the manner that I wield an iron against pleated chinos.  I mean, if Sharron Stone can do it, why can’t I?  Oh, yeah, she’s a millionaire.  And she still has smile lines that look like they could snap like a dried rubber band at any second.


Still, she looks better than most of post-surgery Hollywood.  Every time I consider Botox, I remind myself of Meg Ryan and Melanie Griffith and the “chin ladies,” Suzanne Somers and Priscilla Presley, who seem to have injected gravel into their chins, quite the opposite of smoothing:


We want our celebrities to be the beautiful people, eye candy, the standard-setters of beauty.  We need something to aspire to, right?  I have to admit that last month when I watched The Way Way Back (to see Steve Carell because all the world loves a Steve Carell), I was a bit offput by Toni Collette’s ability to move her facial muscles all across her face.  My first thought was, “Why is she letting herself be in a movie for all the free world to see–with a forehead as crinkly as all get-out?”  But then I decided that it matched the character of the everywoman, so it made sense, and why shouldn’t she be allowed to just look like an average human being, warts and all?  Perhaps she has already had something done, but at least she doesn’t look like a Halloween mask.   I’d rather watch her moving parts on the big screen than hear the chin ladies deny rumors of plastic surgery.


As for myself, I think it’s time to trade in my Oil of Olay for something more results-oriented:


Dream Big, They Said

Fred's Lounge, Mamou, LA, 1977
Fred’s Lounge, Mamou, LA, 1977

Here it is in a nutshell: the reality of 1:30am bar life.  Verbena sees the 2:00am last call on the horizon.  Semisonic will play “Closing Time,” and the jukebox will stop, the lights will come up, and the illusion will shatter.  But in this brief moment, with Lloyd’s arm around her, his warm bourbony breath on her cheeks, and fiery hot nuts so accessible and so amazingly affordable, life is good.

This is one of the most telling portraits from Henry Horenstein’s book HonkyTonk, a book of fascinating black and white portraits he took mostly from the country and western scene in the 1970s.  It’s hard to narrow a brief selection down, but there are sites that showcase many of them, such as http://clampart.com/2012/07/honky-tonk-portraits-of-country-music-2/#/13.  However, I prefer to leaf through the book itself and create my own back stories.

Is Earl waxing nostalgic for his salad days, missing the boys in his high school rockabilly band, before the tattoos and the Kool habit?  Before Arlene cheated with Vernon, his supposed best friend, and then a twister took Vernon to his maker, and isn’t that sweet justice?

Hillbilly Ranch, Boston, MA, 1972
Hillbilly Ranch, Boston, MA, 1972

Lookin’ for love in all the right places.

Tootsies Orchid Lounge, Nashville, TN 1975
Tootsies Orchid Lounge, Nashville, TN 1975

Last call indeed.

Tootsies Orchid Lounge, Nashville, TN  1974
Tootsies Orchid Lounge, Nashville, TN 1974

So Not Feeling 22


She’s on TV right this second, dancing in her new video, singing, “I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22.”  And that’s great because she is 22.  She doesn’t seem to DATE 22, but whatevs.  It’s a free country.

Now, I’m not 22, so I don’t feel remotely 22.  But here’s the thing I don’t get:  I don’t feel the age that I am.  I feel more like quadruple 22.  Like a good solid 88.  What’s up with that?  It’s like middle age plus interest.

Now if I were 22, I might spin around dizzily and gloat about it as well.  I graduated college at 22, so yay–one dream accomplished.  Has it benefited me in any way?  Well, that’s another post.  I own a video of me at 22, tanned and fit, doing front handsprings in a blue gingham bikini on the back lawn of a lake house.  So, yeah, 22 was pretty freaking great.  Nicole Brown Simpson didn’t fare so well that year, but sometimes life sucks.

Taylor starts the song with these words:

It feels like a perfect night to dress up like hipsters
And make fun of our exes, uh uh uh uh
It feels like a perfect night for breakfast at midnight
To fall in love with strangers

Yeah, not so much for me.  I have some reading glasses so that I can read the size 4 font on the Advil bottle, but I don’t possess any horn rim glasses, so I’m out on the hipster thing.  And exes?  Exes are something you bury deep in the recesses of the past, raised like Lazarus at the sound of arena rock songs, then quickly repressed again. Highway run… And breakfast at midnight?  Well, that’s a good possibility, due to a decade of insomnia.  But it won’t be eggs.  Gotta watch my cholesterol.  Hello, shredded wheat.  And mercy, girl, don’t fall in love with strangers.  Keep your knees together or you’ll find TROUBLE, TROUBLE, TROUBLE.

In the chorus, she sings, Everything will be alright if we just keep dancing like we’re 22.  I did a lot of dancing at 22, but it wasn’t to pop country, Miss Swift.  In fact, Shania Twain hadn’t even been invented yet.  Back then, they showed videos on MTV.  It was a very Gin Blossoms and Warren G time in history.  When Tom Petty came on the radio, singing the verse, “Oh, my my, oh, hell, yes, honey, put on that party dress,” it was a joy.  Pure joy.  But you can’t dance to Mary Jane’s Last Dance.  There was also a hit called Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm.  No lie.  That was depressing.  Can’t dance to that.  And then there was this weird totally instrumental song that sounded like monks or something called Return to Innocence by Enigma.  Can’t even sing to that.  And lastly, the omnipresent little Lisa Loeb and all her nine stories, with her cat’s eye glasses, staring into the camera, singing Stay.  Poutable, but not danceable.  

So forgive me if I can’t dance like I’m 22.  Or 32.  But I have degenerative discs now, including torn and bulging ones.  So I don’t know about you, but I should probably just sit this one out.  Maybe in the new plush recliner.  With a glass of moscato in my hand.  Yes, that sounds like a plan.