Monthly Archives: November 2011

a hallmark moment…

…and no, I haven’t finished Page Eight. I’ll get to it. It’s not going anywhere. It’s on the DVR. Wonderful invention, like a hard drive. Saves any program you want. Sigh. I find myself deleting most. What was that statement in the early ’60’s , TV’s Wasteland. Anyway. I wasted the other night watching Cancel Christmas. A too predictable, gonna-have-a-happy-ending-in-two-hours-if-it kills-us-all movie. The acting was okay. It’s the premise that’s pathetic. There is the irascible, crotchety, worse than Scrooge person who changes his heart at the end or the family that comes together after a parent died or left or just overcomes tragedy to see the true joy of the Christmas season. Very Hallmark.

And, thanks to cable, we have a Hallmark Channel. So very Hallmark all the time. And I just don’t get it. Is that what people want? The happy endings?  I love the Sisters Grimm books by Michael Buckley. I’ve read the first eight, I think there’s more, but am on to other stuff. In the new television series Once Upon A Time we’re transported back and forth between the world of fairy tale, although not the fairy tales we know and love. They’re a bit more skewed to the evil that exists around us. 

The premise, that the big bad witch of Snow White fame, wants to end all happy endings. And there is the plucky young woman who is going to, one can only hope, bring the big bad witch to a big bad end. Emma. I like that Emma is very now. Present. And edgy. I can’t find any Grimm story or folklore that shows that Snow had a child. Although, there probably is one somewhere. Or some very creative writer decided to invent the daughter as a device to create, eventually, the big bad end. And in Once Upon A Time the catalyst for the denouement is Emma’s own child. The one she gave up at age 18. Because Emma is not in any way at all expecting a happy ending.

Glad this isn’t on the Hallmark Channel. They’d have so messed it up.  


done with the counting thing…

…for now, at least. Watched the first 40 minutes of Page Eight. A Masterpiece Contemporary, I think they call it. Put it on the DVR when I saw the review in The Wall Street Journal. And, anything this terribly British means that I have to watch it for a bit of time, then watch it again. My ears have to get use to the fact that they all mumble, well, except for Rachel Weisz. They use some different terms than we use here. The story so unsubtly British, so spy-driven, for the first several minutes I thought I was watching a John le Carré , Cold War, circa 1960’s, going-to-the-dark-place book.  So much so I was surprised at the talk of a website, the use of a computer and a blackberry. Somehow, it seemed very out of place. Not very Brit spy. Oh, but it is.

Maybe tonight I’ll get through the next 40 minutes. And then there’ll be another 40 minutes after that. Who knows. I do know that while it takes a while to process all that is going on, I won’t forget it.  There are relationships inside, outside and through the story. Which ones are real is the challenge. They all look fake, no, not fake, unreal. Set up. Maybes. After all, they are all spies, well, except for Rachel Weisz. And they are all jockeying for position, of some sort. And it’s spare. Lean. The LA Times calls it a ‘low-boil thriller. Mainly, because of the magnificent cast, little needs to be said. There is the eye-brow lift. The pursed lip. The quiet, almost non-look look.

The plot so far, from those first 40 minutes is this: there’s this file that shows the highest position in the land, the PM, knows where the Americans are keeping and torturing terrorists. The fact is, he knows, and failed to tell his cabinet or his security forces. Oh, those nasty Americans, keeping the Brits as their lapdog. But are they? I mean, if he knows. Michael Gambon as Benedict Baron, head of MI5 [Professor Dumbledore!] is close friend and boss of Bill Nighy, Johnny Worrnicker, security analyst, our hero. Sort of. But is he. Baron is married to Worrnicker’s ex-wife. Worrnicker’s daughter, Juliette, paints the most depressing pictures and is pregnant. I’m not sure where this goes in the story. They all talk so civilly to each other. And, Rachel Weisz, Nancy Pierpan, Senior Editor, and Johnny’s neighbor have this ‘chance’ encounter. Johnny’s main problem is he’s a purist. And he trusts no one. So. Will he trust Nancy?

I left the story where his goes to a dinner at one of those very British old’ boy school functions. All the participants are in evening dress, and all the students are, well, students. The PM comes. Apparently they’ve all gone through Cambridge together. Although, somehow, I wasn’t getting a Cambridge vibe, just me.

But. What I’m really interested in is the file…




-49 days…

Apparently, just having old people hang around was not a good thing. Mary Lou Weisman again, says that in the beginning retirement had not been invented. I get that. From today’s point of view, you wouldn’t think that this is something that NEEDS inventing, would you. In 2011 we are probably more sanitized regarding the life cycle than any other set of living generations. Except for seeing their dog born, or die, most are not up close and personal with the way it works for carbon-based life forms. Although, Tom would say that just because others died is no reason to suspect he will. [Bravado, I say.]

People didn’t get to anything approximating old age when you go through the geological periods, well, we weren’t there for that many but. It would be hard to live a long and healthy life when you are nomadic, fighting big fierce animals, living in caves or on dirt. So. There wasn’t an issue for a long time. Even in Christ’s time, you got old, you stopped doing the physical stuff and started keeping records and doing the planning. That is, if you were not among the wealthy. If you were, you spent your time trying not to eat food your kids prepared or staying away from hunts and battles.

Old people are funny. They spend an entire life gathering and collecting. Then they don’t want to give it away. Resources, except for the money the Fed can print, are finite. So if a bunch of old people have all the resources there’s nothing for those folks coming along behind them. At one point, Cotton Mather, a Puritan zealot, which right there should make you cringe when those two words go together, was among the first to make the argument for retirement. One has to wonder if all the ‘witches’ he tried in Salem, were sweet young things or old hags. I’m betting on the hags.

The idea of retirement has as much to do with the political as it does with the personal. Okay. So it’s not Logan’s run, although Michael York was a cutie,  and we’re not trying to kill anyone over thirty. But we have done something. We’ve convinced  a whole generation, maybe more like brainwashed a generation into thinking retirement is a good thing.

-53 days….

According to Mary-Lou Weisman,  My (Middle Aged) Baby Book, writing in a New York Time article, March 21, 1999, it was a physician named William Osler, who, at John Hopkins Hospital where he had been physician-in-chief, said, in 1906,  that workers between 25 and 40 were in the ’15 golden years of plenty’ and,  that from ages 40 to 50 workers were merely uncreative and tolerable. But after age 60, the average worker was useless. Ha! I’d really like to meet ol’ Will today.

Then,  there was  a Californian physician named Francis Everett Townsend who started a popular movement that mandatory retirement would be at age 60. Egotistically called, wait for it, the ‘Townsend Plan.’  And, that the government would pay pensions of $200.00 per month. Lest you think this is a horrifically low dollar amount, we’re talking 1935 dollars. In 2010 dollars that would be about $3100.00.  Not bad. Where did he come up with the $200? That was the equivalent at the time of full salary for a middle-income worker. Francis was quite the progressive.

Apparently, even Franklin Delano Roosevelt thought this too far out and so he proposed the Social Security Act of 1935, making workers pay into their own old-age insurance. There were a number of amendments, permutations, arrangements, sortings, etc. up to 1950and beyond, but, ah, what did Frank start just to stop the charming Francis, who, according to Wikipedia, had a vendetta against Roosevelt. Nope, don’t know why. But we should not tarry here. They both are dead, after all. And stopping work at age 65 is now a given. Just ask any kid age 25 and younger.

Essentially then, the idea of being paid to stop working began in the 1880’s to stop a political threat. It then became a medical certainty because after a certain age, well, if we weren’t dead, then maybe that wasn’t such a good thing, because we were unemployable, incapable, and hopeless. And, became a political idea again with the government paying. Wow. Getting to understand this retirement stuff is such an uplifting thing.



-55 days…

The historian in me wants to, no needs to know where all this retirement stuff comes from. I feel more grounded in the history of something. If it changes or has changed, I’m the person in the back of the room asking “Why?” And, because I think of retirement as more ‘new’, than around for a while. I think that I am, me personally, on my third career. The first two were pretty successful. A MBA from Pepperdine University in 1975 and twenty-five + years in HR doing everything from hiring to training executives to negotiating with unions.  Then, years getting the girls through their education, possibly being a bit over-protective, yes, MM, I do admit to that. I admit too, that this is a good time for Tom to retire. After years of being a parent, I’m ready to let the girls be the parent. And no. I don’t mean of us. I mean of your own short people.

But, I’m a looker before I leaper. The fact that I have not been hanging out on that corporate world doesn’t mean that I have not been gainfully active. I read. I keep up. And I write. Besides, this will be very cool cocktail party conversation, heehhe, being the smartest a– in the room.

From Monday we know that the Germans, specifically Otto Von Bismark, came up with the idea of stopping work at age 65 and getting paid to stop. At that point in time, because they didn’t think the ‘masses’ would live very long, the government paid. Well, come to think of it, in Germany, the government still pays. Maybe the Socialist won after all!