• Middle Ages

    I’m Ready For My Closeup

    I had never seen Sunset Boulevard, but as with many movies in the historical canon, or not (I also first saw Die Hard this Christmas) one gleans the plot based on pop culture references. Therefore, I knew the name Norma Desmond, and also knew the character was a washed-up star of the silent movie era. Yet I assumed, based on this premise, that the full-of-delusions, faded beauty actress in question was somewhere in her eighties not 50! 

    Imagine my surprise when I finally decided to watch Sunset Boulevard on a 16 hour flight from Singapore (as well as The Dead Don’t Die, Ad Astra, and Crawl–I refused to watch Dancing Elephant, a Chinese movie about a teen who wakes up from a coma at 30 and 200 pounds but thinks she’s still a ballerina).

    Fifty! That’s the age of the character, and Gloria Swanson, the actress who played her was 51. I realize 50 in 1950 is not the same as 50 in 2020, but being so out-of-touch was made even more chilling when I realized how old the character was meant to be. 

    Apparently, 2019 was “The Year  Women Over 50 Reclaimed Their Right to Be Seen.”

    I don’t know. Maybe. 

  • Barred


    Photo: Janna Orkney/Growing Up With G.I. Joe’s

    When: Saturday, 2:15pm

    I may have found the lounge of my dreams, the bar-side of Hale’s, way out in Portland’s western suburbs. It was immediately apparent from the video lottery machines–everyone was talking about the new addition–comfy chairs on wheels, stained glass, and three out of five patrons (and both bartenders who overlapped shifts) women who weren’t terribly young. At least two were seniors.

    As if right on cue, a tan woman in a tank top and fitted shorts, with long dark blonde hair, walked in, and people started wishing her a happy birthday. Ok, so I immediately tried to guess which birthday internally, as that is one of my only superpowers.

    She had been taken out to P.F. Chang’s the night before and ate the best fried shrimp she ever had. Now, I’m curious about P.F. Chang’s fried shrimp. Oh, and she was turning 49. (I might’ve guessed a few years younger, but this type of woman is confusing because they tend to have grown kids but also at least one little one still at home.)

    The bartender who served me got off and sat on the other side of the bar next to the birthday girl, another blonde woman joined them, and along with the new bartender started talking about back-to-school shopping and reminiscing about Jean Machine, which was a clear signal that they were townies, so to speak, roughly my age.

    I am now old enough to remember shopping in popular, regional clothing stores from the early ’80s. I held my tongue. No one wants an interloper butting in. I did chat with the 60something sitting next to me because she commented on my winning streak. I cashed out at $90. More than enough for my bloody marys and french toast.

    Age appropriate? Do I even have to answer?Honestly, I might question a young woman who chose to sit in the dark, drinking on a Saturday early afternoon when it was pure, hot sunshine outside. A couple of young men bumbled in as I was on my way out and they made me nervous.

  • Gen X'd Out

    Take This Job and Shove It

    That’s how millennials and Gen Z-ers are playing the game — it’s not about jumping up titles, but moving into better work environments. They’re like silent fighters, rewriting policy under the nose of the boomers.

    Ariel Coleman, 28, Portland resident, in The New York Times’Young People Are Going to Save Us All From Office Life

    Ok, I guess. I also know quite a few Gen X-ers who were once gainfully employed and can’t get another even semi-ok full-time job to save their lives. I don’t see myself getting hired to work in an office environment ever again.

  • Middle Ages


    I don’t think I’m imagining the surge of mainstream menopausal stories in 2019. I expect to see a greater interest in the subject in the next five years.

    A lot of it might stem from serious writer Darcey Steinke’s The Flash Count Diaries, which has spawned articles and reactions on the subject in serious publications. And less serious ones.

    The Stranger recently published a first-person piece, “Mysteries of Menopause.” I hadn’t thought of The Stranger as a mouth-piece for the middle-aged but it makes sense since alt-weeklys had their heyday in the ’90s and young people in the ’90s are now old.

    My first published article was in The Stranger (though there is no online evidence of it ever existing), solicited at the time by an editor who was in Harvey Danger and read my zine. It might not be possible to be more ’90s.

    The Guardian has been on a menopausal tear recently and even has a tag devoted to it. I do appreciate British euphemisms like “fanjo” and “front-bottom,” of course.

    P.S. I never posted this and then The Atlantic came out with a piece, “The Secret Power of Menopause” that also served as a sort of review of three books, including

    P.S. I never posted this and then The Atlantic came out with a piece, “The Secret Power of Menopause” that also served as a sort of review of three books, including The Flash Count Diaries. Others were The Slow Moon Climbs: The Science, History, and Meaning of Menopause, and No Stopping Us Now: The Adventures of Older Women in American History

  • Screen Time

    The Handmaid’s Tale

    I never thought I would get some prime “Screen Time’ material from The Handmaid’s Tale. Gilead is not exactly a party. Thanks to the magic of backstories and flashbacks, we now know Aunt Lydia was once a family court lawyer turned horny teacher who gets carried away with her boss, after a New Year’s Eve party where she does a karaoke duet and sings “Islands In the Stream.”

    I also must note that her boss is played by John Ortiz, the actor that spurred Melanie Lynsky’s character in Togetherness to have an affair because they were both consumed by passion for charter schools. Education is sexy, I guess.

  • Screen Time

    Yours, Mine and Ours

    I unintentionally watched Yours, Mine and Ours, the movie that was the basis for The Brady Bunch a few weekends ago. It came on and I was too lazy to turn it off. Well, lazy, but also intrigued by how old the main characters were supposed to be since Lucille Ball was playing the military widow who moved from Seattle to the Bay Area with her eight children, one who appeared to be no older than three. 

    Lucille Ball was 57 when this movie was made. Fine, I’ll suspend my disbelief and accept that a 54-year-old woman could give birth in 1968, but SPOILER ALERT she gets pregnant AGAIN before the end of the movie. 

    My boyfriend seems to think that I enjoy policing (my word, not his) women because I often call out casting impossibilities. This isn’t about saying women are too old for X,Y, and Z, and blaming delusional vanity on the actresses, it’s that by casting older women in younger roles, aging is clearly transmitted as undesirable, not to mention forcing the audience to go along with a plot that’s completely fantastical. 

    But the point of this post was to highlight one of my favorite types of movie scene, older women drinking in bars. 

    Civilian nurse Helen North (Lucille Ball) is taken out on a rare date by Navy officer Frank Beardsley (Henry Fonda) to Señor Pico (created by Victor Bergeron of Trader Vic’s fame) in Ghirardelli Square. It’s a swingin’ place where the olds have little breathing room to sip their Irish coffees among all the hippie-era youth. Helen’s false eyelash gets dislodged and her slip, which she insisted on wearing with the miniskirt her daughter made by cutting her regular-length skirt fell down onto the floor. Frank then crawls on the floor, among all the young, exposed legs, trying to retrieve it. Typical fish out of water antics.

  • Middle Ages

    I Don’t See Age

    Ok, this is pretty nichey. Food world, high-end food world, at that. But I didn’t delete the Family Meal newsletter containing this tidbit after skimming it.

    During a 50BestTalks event that’s part of the World’s 50 Best Restaurant awards that was recently held in Singapore, 46-year-old Ana Roš of Hisa Franko in Slovenia talked about how tough it was for anyone over 50 in kitchens when 28-year-old Daniela Soto-Innes of NYC’s Cosme said, “I don’t think age matters,” despite the only older women working at Cosme being employed to make tortillas.

    Gender and race are very much food world topics. Age? Not so much.

    I suggest checking in with Soto-Innes in 18 years.