Olivia Newton-John, Pop Songstress Who Wowed as Sandy in ‘Grease,’ Dies at 73 | Vanity Fair

Olivia Newton-John, the British-Australian pop singer who dominated the pop charts of the 1970s and ’80s with mega hits “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” “Magic,” and “Physical”—and jolted audiences with her naif-to-naughty turn as Sandy in one of the top-grossing movie musicals of all time, Grease—died Monday at her ranch in Southern California, according to a message on her official Facebook page. Newton-John was fighting stage 4 metastatic breast cancer—she’d endured breast cancer on and off since 1992, but it had returned in 2017. She was 73.

Source: Olivia Newton-John, Pop Songstress Who Wowed as Sandy in ‘Grease,’ Dies at 73 | Vanity Fair

What made Nichelle Nichols essential to ‘Star Trek’ as Uhura – Los Angeles Times

Kiss aside, there’s no question Nichols was underused in the series . . . Uhura rarely joins a landing party. But even when she’s not the focus of a scene, she is regularly onscreen, even if just visible at her post on the bridge, completing the picture, contributing to the emotional tenor. (And when she isn’t there, you notice it.) As the communications officer, everything runs through Uhura: She’s the voice of what’s happening elsewhere on the ship, and what’s happening outside the ship, whether announcing the presence of some other spacecraft or relating what’s up with Planet X. Even reciting lines like “I’m receiving Class Two signals from the Romulan vessel” or “Revised estimate on cloud visual contact 3.7 minutes,” she is the picture of the professional. She builds exposition, asks important questions; wordlessly reacting to some bit of business on the viewing screen, she brings an emotion and energy into the scene different from that of her sometimes blustery male colleagues.

Source: What made Nichelle Nichols essential to ‘Star Trek’ as Uhura – Los Angeles Times

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Tony Dow, Big Brother Wally on ‘Leave It to Beaver,’ Dies at 77

Tony Dow, who became a star at 12 as Wally Cleaver, the barely teenage older brother on the popular 1950s and ’60s comedy series “Leave It to Beaver,” died on Wednesday at his home in Topanga, Calif. He was 77.

Joni Mitchell Reclaims Her Voice at Newport

Lindsay Zoladz writes in The New York Times that “the past two-plus years of seemingly unending illness, sacrifice and loss have left so many people hungry for stories of resilience, hard-won strength and new beginnings.”

Joni Mitchell, 78, stunned attendees of the Newport Folk Festival (and the countless people who have since watched viral cellphone videos of the event) when she performed in public for the first time since her 2015 brain aneurysm, playing her first full-length live set since 2000.

Once again, Joni Mitchell gives us all a reason to live

Los Angeles Times columnist Mary McNamara writes:

Mitchell, 78, who has spent years recovering from a brain aneurysm, sang, played guitar and proved there is a reason for social media to exist. Most of us were nowhere near Rhode Island when this miracle occurred, but thanks to video posted to YouTube and shared widely through every media platform available, we all got to start our week watching Joni Mitchell live, performing “Summertime,” “The Circle Game” and most especially “Both Sides Now.”

Here’s why Joni Mitchell’s performance at the Newport Folk Festival is so incredible

And Vanessa Romo, reporting for NPR, marvels at Joni Mitchell’s performance because is remarkable because, after the brain aneurysm, Mitchell had to learn to speak, walk, and play the guitar all over again. 

 The Case for Age Limits in American Politics

“We’ve always had a minimum age to serve in Congress. How about a max?”

“It’s not that older folks, who make up a significant chunk of the American population, shouldn’t be properly represented in the halls of power. It’s that they’re way overrepresented, and it is bending the trajectory of our national life. The American story has been crowded out by the story of the baby-boomer generation,” writes Jack Holmes for Esquire

At 79, Biden Is Testing the Boundaries of Age and the Presidency

In The New York Times, Peter Baker looks specifically at President Biden concerning the question of age and politicians: “If he mounts another campaign in 2024, Mr. Biden would be asking the country to elect a leader who would be 86 at the end of his tenure, testing the outer boundaries of age and the presidency.”

Lynne Tillman’s Solitary, Raw Memoir of Caring for Her Mother

“53 million Americans are caregivers to a family member. How can an experience so common so often remain in the shadows?”

Anna Altman looks at the situation of “the sandwich generation”: “as a culture, in spite of the fact that, as of 2020, some 53 million Americans consider themselves caregivers to a family member, we continue to have a fairly paltry understanding of what it looks like to care for one’s aging parents.”

Altman focuses on the memoir Mothercare: On Obligation, Love, Death, and Ambivalence by Lynne Tillman, “a book-length essay about the experience of caring for her intelligent, frustrated, withholding, competitive, sometimes cruel mother who, at 86, is suddenly and mysteriously changed and utterly dependent.”

Tillman, Altman writes, “wants anyone in this predicament to be given grace and compassion: ‘I want to say about this situation: It is impossible to get it completely right.’”

The Aging Student Debtors of America

“In an era of declining wages and rising debt, Americans are not aging out of their student loans—they are aging into them.”

In The New Yorker, Eleni Schirmer reports “Americans aged sixty-two and older are the fastest-growing demographic of student borrowers. Of the forty-five million Americans who hold student debt, one in five are over fifty years old. Between 2004 and 2018, student-loan balances for borrowers over fifty increased by five hundred and twelve per cent.”

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

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How the Sony Walkman changed everything

Sarah Todd looks at the legacy of the Sony Walkman personal cassette player, which was introduced on July 1, 1979: “the Walkman had a lasting impact, precipitating the rise of MP3 players, and accompanying headphones that allow us to revel in our own auditory worlds anytime, anywhere—for better and for worse.”

Sony cassette recorder

TCM-100B

Cassette Recorder (1978)

“Pressman.” A model that was popular among businessmen as the cassette recorder enabled them to take voice memos and operate it with one hand: record, playback, fast forward, rewind, cue, review, and pause controls were all logically arranged. It also incorporated a skim reading function that played back at 1.5x normal speed. This model was the basis for the first Walkman®— released a year after the launch of this product.

Source: Sony

She Inspired ‘A League of Their Own.’ At 95, She’s Far From Done.

“Maybelle Blair is still dedicated to including women and girls in baseball. And she still loves the “clicketyclack” sound of baseball cleats on her feet.”

From the New York Times, a profile of Maybelle Blair, “one of more than 600 women to join the baseball league, created in 1943 in response to World War II.”

The league folded in 1954 and was brought back to life in the 1992 movie “A League of Their Own.” Amazon Prime will have its own version in a new TV series under the same title in August.

Vietnam ‘Napalm Girl’ gets final burn treatment in Florida 50 years later 

“‘I heard the noise, bup-bup bup-bup, and then suddenly there was fire everywhere around me and I saw the fire all over my arm,’ Kim Phuc said Tuesday about the 1972 bombing.”

Known around the world as “Napalm Girl,” Kim Phuc was just 9-years-old when she was photographed running away after a napalm bomb struck her village in Vietnam in June 1972.

Now 50 years later, Phuc has received her final round of treatment for the pain and scars she suffered that day.

One protein seen as ‘critical factor’ in development of Alzheimer’s disease

It’s always encouraging to see a story such as this one: “A new study suggests how a protein called tau drives the development of Alzheimer’s disease, and researchers anticipate this could lead to more targeted treatments and earlier diagnoses.”

The Six Forces That Fuel Friendship

One of the issues older adults face is the loss of friends caused by moving for retirement and by a decreasing circle of contemporaries. In this summation of The Friendship Files for The Atlantic, Julie Beck writes, “I’ve spent more than three years interviewing friends for “The Friendship Files.” Here’s what I’ve learned.”

Lawmakers consider a residents’ ‘bill of rights’ for seniors in independent living facilities

Independent living facilities for older adults are not subject to the same regulation as assisted living facilities.

A disagreement between residents at a Lacey senior living facility and their management has led some state lawmakers to consider legislation that would create a residents’ bill of rights for senior citizens living in independent facilities. 

“The number of seniors is like a silver tsunami and as you look around, there are new facilities being built everywhere,” Rep. Laurie Dolan, D-Olympia, said. “But because there’s no coordination that facilities have to do the same kinds of things, it’s sort of like the Wild West right now.”

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

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Old not Other

Kate Kirkpatrick, tutorial fellow in philosophy and Christian ethics at Regent’s Park College of the University of Oxford, and Sonia Kruks, Danforth Professor of Politics Emerita at Oberlin College in Ohio, write “In Western societies, the shocked realisation that we are growing old often fills us with alarm and even terror.”

The two scholars examine Simone de Beauvoir’s “magisterial study of the topic [old age], La vieillesse (1970) – translated in the UK as Old Age, and in the US as The Coming of Age (1972)” for answers to the question:

What, then, should a society be like, so that all may flourish in their last years of life?

Creating an Aging-Friendly Space

We hear a lot about “aging in place,” a movement to help older adults remain in their homes as long as possible. Here AARP offers offers some advice on how to prepare your home “for your senior years.”

What Good Are Our Memories If We Never Share Them?

“Esther Cohen considers the importance of preserving the experiences we recall, by writing them down and sharing them.”

Scholar and activist ANGELA DAVIS has spent more than 50 years working for social justice. This summer, society started to catch up

This moment is a conjuncture between the COVID-19 crisis and the increasing awareness of the structural nature of racism. Moments like this do arise. They’re totally unpredictable, and we cannot base our organizing on the idea that we can usher in such a moment. What we can do is take advantage of the moment.

Angela Davis

Paul McCartney turns 80: a look back

A pictorial review of the musical career of Sir Paul McCartney in celebration of his 80th birthday.

Dorothy E. Smith, Groundbreaker in Feminist Sociology, Dies at 95

“Starting in the 1960s, she sought to re-center her discipline on the experiences of women, people of color and other marginalized groups.”

I had not heard of Dorothy E. Smith, “a feminist scholar and sociologist whose extensive criticism of her own field led her to establish groundbreaking theories and sub-disciplines that pushed sociology away from its foundations as a male-dominated, male-centered endeavor.” 

11 Romances Featuring Older Couples

I haven’t read any of these novels, but I appreciate the fact that someone—anyone—is interested in focusing on the topic of Older Adults in Literature.

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

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‘Napalm Girl’ at 50: The story of the Vietnam War’s defining photo

Though officially titled “The Terror of War,” the photo is better known by the nickname given to the badly burned, naked 9-year-old at its center: “Napalm Girl”.

50 years after ‘Napalm Girl,’ myths distort the reality behind a horrific photo of the Vietnam War and exaggerate its impact

W. Joseph Campbell, Professor of Communication Studies at American University School of Communication, examines the legacy of the famous photo.

Microsoft to retire Internet Explorer browser and redirect users to Edge

Microsoft has announced it will kill off its much-maligned legacy internet browser Internet Explorer close to 27 years after it graced desktop computers in 1995.

From 15 June, the desktop app will be disabled and users will be redirected to Microsoft’s Edge browser instead.

The More I Wrote, The More I Remembered: Q & A with Laura L. Engel

In 1967, a teenager’s parents drop her off at a home for pregnant unwed women in New Orleans, heartbroken and ashamed at the scandal their daughter has brought upon them. In You’ll Forget This Ever Happened: Secrets, Shame, and Adoption in the 1960s, Laura L. Engel movingly recounts her unsuccessful struggle to keep her baby against the implacable social forces of the era.

I’m nearly 60. Here’s what I’ve learned about growing old so far

“What have I learned about what it’s really like to get old? Not a lot, but here it is. I thought I’d better write it down before I forget it,” writes Tim Dowling.

An endearing mixture of humor and wisdom.

Watergate at 50: System worked in ousting Nixon, but lack of reform led to Trump

UPI examines history and how Nixon lead to Trump.

A Fast Way to See If You’re Wise

We’ve all heard some variation of “with age comes wisdom.” What exactly is wisdom, and how do we know if we have it?

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

Watergate at 50: A viewers guide to remembering the scandal – CNN

Watergate is having another made-for-TV moment, in concert with the 50th anniversary of the original break-in that ultimately led to Richard Nixon’s resignation. Combine that with a new round of televised hearings about alleged White House corruption, and everything old really does seem new again.

Source: Watergate at 50: A viewers guide to remembering the scandal – CNN

Last Week’s Links

End-of-life conversations can be hard, but your loved ones will thank you

Deborah Carr, professor of sociology at Boston University, writes “most people dread thinking and talking about when, how or under what conditions they might die.”

Although most people know they should talk about these issues with loved ones, most don’t actually have the difficult discussion, Carr reports. “But everyone should talk about and prepare for death precisely because we want to minimize our own suffering at the end of life, and soften the anguish of loved ones left behind.”

Here Carr offers some guidance about both what to talk about and how to initiate the discussion.

In 1973, ‘Soylent Green’ envisioned the world in 2022. It got a lot right.

George Bass discusses how the film Soylent Green, released in 1973 and set “in the then-far-off future of 2022,” is “eerily prescient” in its portrayal of what is now our present.

The Federal Writers’ Project: Exploring “The Greatest Literary Project in History”

“Now, some in Congress are looking to the FWP as a model for a new jobs program for writers,” writes Clare Barnett. Read her history of the original Federal Writers’ Project, developed to employ writers in “the biggest public works program in American history” during the Great Depression.

Pickleball: The Rules, Rise, and Reach of a Surging Sport

Kenny Ducey reports on pickleball, “the racquet sport that has taken the world by storm over the past few years.” He defines core players as those who play at least 8 times over a year; these players “skew older, with 54% of them aged 55 and up.”

Janis Ian Lets Her Music Speak Her Mind (One Last Time)

“At 70, the singer-songwriter who has always been unafraid of difficult subjects is releasing a final album, ‘The Light at the End of the Line.’”

With all the recent obituaries of musical greats from the Boomer era, I was glad to find a story about one who is still performing.

The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired new health habits for these 4 scholars – here’s what they put into practice and why

Four academics discuss the habits they have developed to help them cope with the stress of the ongoing pandemic.

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

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Students’ Right to Protest at School Was Affirmed By Tinker v. Des Moines

This piece from Teen Vogue is from a series “in which we unearth U.S. history you may not have learned in school.” Most of us who hang out on this blog also probably didn’t learn about this topic in school—because we lived it. 

This look at “the landmark Supreme Court decision, Tinker v. Des Moines [1969], which affirmed students’ right to free speech,” includes some reminiscences by Mary Beth Tinker, the student originally suspended from school for wearing a black armband in protest of the Vietnam War.

Decision Looms That Could Determine Fate of Alzheimer’s Drug

Federal officials are wrestling with a decision that could go a long way toward determining the future of the controversial new Alzheimer’s drug, Aduhelm, and whether significant numbers of patients use it.

In January, Medicare, the federal health insurance program for people 65 and over, plans to issue a preliminary decision on whether it will cover the expensive medication. The Food and Drug Administration’s approval of Aduhelm in June has drawn fierce criticism because clinical trials showed the drug had significant safety risks and unclear benefit to patients.

Abducted son finds family by drawing map of village he last saw aged four

Here’s another one of those amazingly heartwarming stories I find so satisfying:

Thirty years ago, when Li Jingwei was four years old, a neighbour abducted him from his home village in China’s Yunnan province and sold him to a child trafficking ring.

Now he has been reunited with his mother after drawing a map of his home village from his memories of three decades ago and sharing it on a popular video-sharing app in the hope that someone might be able to identify it.

Kraken fan Nadia Popovici lauded for pointing out Canucks equipment manager Brian Hamilton’s cancerous mole during game

And here’s yet another such story. This one got a lot of publicity in my local area (Seattle, WA, USA), but in case it didn’t make the news where you live, you can read about it here.

 8 Google Maps Hacks to Use on Your Next Trip

I always enjoy learning helpful ways to use current technology, so this article caught my eye. One point to note: You can use Google Maps to find where you parked your car, even if you’re right in your own neighborhood rather than on an actual trip.

THE STORY OF: The Cabbage Patch Kids Dolls

Do you remember scouring store shelves back in the early 1980s hoping to snag a Cabbage Patch Kid for your child? Here’s the complete history of the phenomenon, which is way more complicated that I could have ever imagined.

And you might be truly surprised, as I was, to learn that there is STILL an official Cabbage Patch Kids website, where, for a significant investment, you can order one for your very own.

Does Wisdom Really Come from Experience?

Rachel Syme, a staff writer for The New Yorker, discusses the podcast 70 Over 70, which aims to feature 70 people who have passed their 70th birthday.

“As with any interview show, the strength of each episode depends on the guest. It’s not enough that someone is simply long in the tooth; he or she must also be self-aware about what being “old” means, attuned to the delicate interplay between aging and regret, mortality and joy, irrelevance and freedom.”

I haven’t listened to the podcast myself, but there’s enough written description here to let you decide whether you want to track it down.

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

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Space travel’s surprising impact upon humanity

Most of us grew up with the space race. Here’s an article that look as space travel’s impact in terms of product development.

Farewell to Stephen Sondheim

“His legacy is one that will be debated and argued over as long as people care about musical theatre.”

Adam Gopnik remembers Stephen Sondheim, who died recently at the age of 91:

And yet a kind of Devil’s Theory case may be made, that it was Sondheim who was the most personal, the most truly confessional, of all the great American songwriters. For all that Sondheim spoke only of character and scene and story, when we listen to his music what we hear is not characters, not scenes, but a long, unwinding, timeless soliloquy, charting a psyche at once unimaginably large-souled and thwarted, with sensitivity and guardedness combined—a wounded talent reaching out beyond itself for love and meaning and, above all, for connection.

The original Gerber Baby is celebrating her 95th birthday

Click if you remember “Babies are our business. Our only business.”

Ann Turner Cook, the owner of the baby face that accompanied these ads, turns 95.

10 Tips for Happy Aging From a Feisty 80-Something

Some advice from an 80-something woman whose parents “were not role models for a vital old age.” She had to figure it out for herself, she tells us, and here shares some of what she’s learned.

Fate stomped all over Moby Grape, but Tacoma guitar god Jerry Miller is still rocking and rolling with the punches

what happened to Miller and his colleagues in Moby Grape — a band that combined the raw guitar punch of the Who with the soaring, lit-from-within harmonies of the Beach Boys — might be seen as a cautionary tale.

Something to read if you’re still thinking of getting the band back together.

Growing Old in High Style

A look at what retirement life can be like in New York City for folks who can afford it.

Mel Brooks Writes It All Down

“The comedian will publish his memoirs at the age of ninety-five, and is at work on ‘History of the World, Part II.’”

You think you hear gunshots in a public place. How should you respond?

We had air-raid drills in school.

It breaks my heart to realize that students today have to practice “lockdown” and “active shooter” scenarios. But some of the same situations can occur in other public places such as shopping malls. For those of us who didn’t grow up with this education, here’s some advice. 

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

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