Sunday, September 29, 2019

The Hamilton Hype is Well-Deserved

We prepared beforehand, listening to Hamilton on YouTube. No action, no pictures, but with the most important element necessary to appreciate the show - the lyrics. 

It is not easy to understand all the words on the album when first heard. It is probably an impossible task. Rewind, listen carefully, re-read the words on the screen a second or third time (or more) – and appreciate. And you can enjoy all this for free! Or, to be more precise, for the cost of your monthly internet fee. Occasionally the rendition is interrupted by a commercial break, but after a click on the Skip ad note in the corner of the screen the ad disappears and the music continues. We did not listen to the entire performance, all 2 hours and 22 minutes, at one time, but absorbed it over a period of days. 

This was preparation for attending a live performance, Hamilton the musical and Broadway play. Except we saw it in Philadelphia.

The hype, in my opinion, is well deserved. The characters, the lyrics, the hip-hop music, the story all weave together to create a masterpiece. Our tickets were $167 each, and as hub declared, we were in nosebleed territory, but we saw and heard everything. 

Do not despair if ticket prices are too steep for your pocketbook. I am sure there will be a movie eventually – probably currently in the works, or at the very least the film rights are being negotiated at this moment. Local playhouses will produce the show, with varied success. Meanwhile listen to the entire show on YouTube. Free. Or invest in the album.

Some people are familiar with Alexander Hamilton, craftsman of the country’s financial system, killed in a duel with Aaron Burr, at the time America's Vice President. A potpourri of historical figures appear in the show, many familiar and others less so: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Marquis de Lafayette, General Charles Lee, King George III (my favorite and the comic relief character.) And the show’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, did not forget the ladies. The Schuyler sisters, Eliza, Angelica, and Peggy, emerge onstage, and two of them play key roles in the show. 


There are observers upset by the fact that the country’s founders are portrayed by performers who do not look anything like the originals. In the play they are black, brown, Asian...One purist noted that, in the production we saw, the Thomas Jefferson character was short. In ‘real life’ he was a tall man. Does it make a difference? At what point is it OK to be historically inaccurate? And when is it important to stick to the facts? I don’t have the answers, but these are thought-provoking issues for debate.

The playwright’s idea was to make the story of the creation of the nation a narrative Americans today can relate to. Costumes are not 21st century, but do not adhere to 18th century protocol either - no powdered wigs, long waistcoats or knee breeches. The play focuses on relatable characters, language understandable to careful listeners, and  issues, ideas, and disputes relevant today.

Hamilton the musical rocks.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Downton Abbey: The Movie

The hype worked for me. Six seasons of episodes immersed in an upper crust, extravagant lifestyle, exhibits of Downton Abbey clothes, dinnerware, table settings and other items, Facebook posts, TV commercials – all whet my appetite for THE movie.

I bought tickets online the day before the movie opened. Seniors that we are, hub and I chose a late afternoon time slot. We arrived a few minutes early, splurged on a bag of popcorn and entered the theater (one of seven screens). Of course the movie did not start at 4:20; previews began at that time. We settled into oversized plush seats, anticipating an enjoyable two hours captivated by another world.

I didn’t mind the previews; they passed quickly as I munched away. Finally, after an
opening scene in which viewers don’t know what is going on until later in the movie, the pristine English countryside appears onscreen. As the camera moves out to reveal a grander view, our eyes settle on Downton Abbey, an English almost-castle. We become engrossed in the lifestyle of lords and ladies as well as a peak into the life of commoners. 

The year is 1927. Life is good, but even aristocrats have a challenging time making ends meet. Numerous servants to pay, clothes to buy (how many outfits are needed when you dress for dinner every night?), food to purchase, a castle to maintain...

And the king and queen invite themselves over for a night.

Folks not familiar with the show need a cheat sheet of the characters and a review of the events of season six if they hope to figure out what is going on. Wikipedia is a great resource for a list of the entire cast throughout the show’s six seasons. 

What struck me as interesting, and rather sad, is that many of the issues confronting the characters and the country remain problems today – England and Ireland, homosexuality, the role of women in society.

The usual cast members show up. Some look older (Lady Grantham and Mr. Carson), some better than ever (Tom Branson). Everyday dilemmas of the characters interweave with preparations for the king and queen’s visit. To add to character confusion new ones are introduced, and I bet a couple will appear in future movies/TV miniseries/comic books/videogames, when and wherever the saga continues.

There are light-hearted moments and banter, exquisite outfits, pageantry, a little intrigue. Downton Abbey fans will appreciate the film, others not so much. A couple of story lines seem to set the stage for a sequel. Or two or three. I can’t wait...

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Debating Law and Order

I sit on a bed in a motel in St Augustine, Florida, on a road trip with hub. The Democratic debate blares on TV and I listen, sort of. If I pay too close attention I get a headache. 

The objective of this trip (who wants to be in the sunshine state during a sizzling, hurricane-prone time? Not me. Or hub. We fly home the day after reaching our destination.)- to deliver our 2012 Mazda 3 to our grandson, 15-years-old and recent recipient of a learner’s permit. We purchased a new car (Honda CR-V). The trade-in price proposed was so low we shrugged it off and offered the car to any member of our extended family in need of wheels. Initially rejecting the idea, on reconsidering our Florida family decided a used Mazda beats no car at all.

The candidates on the screen drone on. And on. One of the many topics discussed is law and order. My mind wanders to the late great TV show of the same name. Friday, September 13th is the show’s anniversary. Law & Order debuted on that date in 1990 on NBC, and lasted twenty seasons, tied with Gunsmoke (1955-75) and a Law & Order franchise spin-off, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999-present), for the longest-running live-action scripted American primetime series.

The original show spawned a number of spin-offs in addition to Law & Order: Special Victims Unit...Criminal Intent, Trial by Jury, LA, True Crime, Hate Crimes, foreign adaptations – including a Law & Order UK, and TV movies and video games. The Chicago TV series are also part of the Law & Order franchise – Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., Chicago Med, and Chicago Justice, which lasted only one season. There may be more, but it’s hard keeping up and I am currently not a fan of any of these shows...

The original Law & Order produced 1,149 episodes. I cannot imagine binge-watching the entire series. How many days...weeks...months would it take? In the past I watched the show on and off over the years. But I am sure if watched again I would not remember which character committed the crime (usually murder). Want to watch old episodes or the entire series? You can’t. For some reason known only to decision-making media magnates, the show is not currently available on any streaming service.

Honestly, I would prefer to sit back, relax and watch three episodes of Law & Order than develop a low-grade headache watching the Presidential candidates spar verbally for three hours. Unless I move to another state quickly (like Iowa or New Hampshire), my vote will have no impact on which candidate carries the Democratic Presidential mantle. My state’s primary is too late to make any impact on the choice of candidate. Whose brilliant idea was it for the debates to drag on for three hours? 

I cannot watch the entire debate. My motel bed beckons...

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Seafood at the Seashore

Locals consider September the best month in our shore town. The weather is mild and sunny (most days), the days long (although getting shorter by minutes each day), the water warm, restaurants uncrowded (except Saturday nights), and parking spots available. Special events bring folks out to enjoy the atmosphere and activities.

This weekend the Downbeach Seafood Festival served up delicious food, with vendors representing some of the most popular (and best) seafood places in the area. There was music, games for the kids, a beer tent, cooking demonstrations and dance performers.
I am not sure you can read the print on this poster, 
but the various items offered by the restaurant vendors are listed.
Fish tacos - my choice, with soft tacos, fresh fish and veggies - lobster rolls, 
an entire boiled dinner, clams, mussels, shrimp...
The chef at a local hotel (the Sheraton) demonstrated how to
cook a fish - the picture above shows a tilefish she prepared, 
caught in the waters off Brigantine, NJ.
An event at the shore must have a sand sculpture!
After the festival, a couple of hours at the beach. 
Beach time is precious now as each day brings autumn closer...
followed by winter cold...then spring rains...and finally summer. 
I can't wait!

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Boomers Forge Ahead into the Transitional Month of September

All at once, summer collapsed into fall.
-      Oscar Wilde

This Labor Day weekend the weather could not have been better. My beach town is overrun with folks taking in the last summer rays, waiting patiently in long lines for their preferred ice cream concoction, savoring favorite restaurant dishes. But shorter days and cool nights remind us that it is time to prepare for a new season’s activities and learn something new. 

This week the boomers have some ideas to help jump-start your autumn. 

Continuing with her 2019 theme of extreme self-care, Jennifer, of Unfold and Begin, focuses on our health with her September calendar.  It's Time to Tune-up in September, remind us how important it is to take care of our body and our mental and emotional well-being. If you haven't already, it's time to make those important Doctor appointments in September.

Tom at Sightings Over Sixty was surprised to read in a recent poll that almost half of the people surveyed believe that Medicare is free. In What Does Medicare Cost? he offers a primer to how much we pay to get coverage -- so new retirees don't get too much of a shock, and so the rest of us can review what we really do pay for our benefits.

You'd think technology would distance people from annoyances but in some cases, it has created brand new levels of intrusion. Over at Heart-Mind-Soul, Carol Cassara puts on her curmudgeon hat and lays out some of today's intrusive marketing efforts and other 21st century annoyances in "You Can...But Should You?”.

On The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer and personal finance journalist, writes about what to do about your digital assets as you get older. Digital assets are something of value or significance created online or on a mobile phone, laptop, or tablet.

Sometimes we just want to 'get away from it all'  - including the 24/7 news - if only for a few hours. 

Living in a big city like Los Angeles can make you crazy but there are many wonderful places you can go to get away for a while. Rebecca Olkowski, with BabyBoomster.com went to visit The Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens near Pasadena. She spent the day there in its serene environment. Here’s what she saw.

You know the feeling. If you see one more all red, all caps “Breaking News” flash, you’re gonna blow. There’s too much coming at us too often and it’s happening all the time. According to Laurie Stone at Musings, Rants, & Scribbles, here are 4 signs you’re on cable news overload and what to do about it

I am in the process of 'getting away from it all' by binge watching a British TV series. Read all about it here.

Check out this week's boomers and drop them a line. We love to hear from you.