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“This job has side benefits!”

Great Grandma Ada said, as two tall, handsome young men escorted her to the stage. And so the laughter began.

My Mother-in-Law Ada was the honored guest and a featured speaker at her retirement community’s 2nd Annual Fall Film Festival yesterday. This particular organization has over a thousand continuing care and assisted living campuses all over the country. Their incredible “Optimum Life Engagement” director, Carol, met Ada months ago and enlisted her immediately, since we all know how charming and disarming this 94 year young Brooklyn babe can be!

We arrived early for the Red Carpet! Carol had provided a special parking spot, an actual handler (Lauren, an adorable Millennial), and hair and make-up people. The tech guys in the back adored the Marvelous Ms A…I was looking for E! News…

I told her later she threw a little Bette Midler into her speech, but she said, “No, don’t you know who my three famous role-models are?” I guessed to no avail – then she said, “Sophie Tucker, Margaret Mead, and Eleanor Roosevelt!” Not a bad trio.

Her son Jeff told her she’d hit the big time, corporate America. This was no Hadassah talk, after all, she was following a series of short films that residents had created on iPads to help celebrate aging and change some stereotypes.

It was an emotional rollercoaster, one woman used a teapot from her grandmother as a metaphor for her feelings about agism. A man saw the reflection of his younger self as he transitioned from home to a motor home. But listening to Ada was like rolling down the home stretch. She told us about being a family counselor, living in NJ for over 50 years and finding herself in TN. Feeling bereft at first, but taping into her sense of humor and a determination I knew she would find again.

“Life has other plans,” she told us, and she chose life. The Jewish Community Center has voted her IN, and last night we celebrated with Turkish food, her favorite. Just as her great grand daughter is starting Hebrew School this month, Ada is starting to bloom in this fertile Southern soil.

ps #HireAda was trending last night! Could talented senior motivational speaker be her next act? Here is Dr Ada with her new manager, Carol, backstage in the Green Room.

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“Green deck for landing, conditions CAVU.”

John McCain’s son Jack tweeted a tribute to his Dad this morning – conditions are great, “Ceiling and visibility unlimited!” Jack is a Navy lieutenant, a helicopter pilot who graduated from the Naval Academy in 2009. The military is in their blood, and flying into danger was part of their family legacy. Now that the great Senator from Arizona is being laid to rest, his service to our country stands in stark contrast to the current occupant of a gold (whoops, “golf”) course in Bedminster, NJ.

As many of you know, Bob is a private pilot. Although he’s never landed a fighter jet on the prow of an aircraft carrier in the middle of the ocean, I like to think I could trust him to land a passenger plane if needed. He likes to follow our flights around the globe on his iPad. I may be reading my Kindle all scrunched up in coach while he happily points out our descent and predicts what runway our Southwest pilot will land on, depending on the wind of course.

Flying around in his old four-seater Piper Arrow, I would breathe a sigh of relief when I saw those three green lights on the console light up, meaning the wheels were down – a very important part of the approach pattern. Kind of like having a green deck for landing!

Yesterday I asked Bob where he was on July 20, 1969 when the Eagle landed on the Moon. We had broken up in college, and he was planning a trip to Woodstock. I was living in a basement apartment in Cambridge, MA with a roomie named Alicia. His parents were away on a trip, and there were lots of friends crashing at Great Grandma Ada’s house on a hill. I asked him if he remembers calling me then, during the moon landing. It’s strange the memories our brains choose to store and those that fall away.

We were reminiscing because I’d played the first trailer of the Rocker’s new company, TOTEM. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/29/movies/first-man-trailer-ryan-gosling.html

Bob isn’t on social media so I have to keep him up to date with the millennials in our lives. Our son did the sound design and music for the trailer of the film “First Man,” with Ryan Gosling playing Neil Armstrong landing on the Sea of Tranquility, taking that first small step. https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/apollo/apollo11.html

Flying into the unknown, into clouds or out of earth’s orbit, takes courage and training, knowing a thousand different variables could go wrong. Starting your own business today takes a leap of faith and a lot of talent. And while staying calm under pressure is a reasonable trope for men and women who choose aviation as a career, it could also be said for young entrepreneurs. An image of a Tesla in space comes to mind!

In fact, this morning astronauts on the International Space Station are having to deal with a leak probably caused by a tiny high-speed meteorite. How did they find it? By passing a finger along the wall. How did they fix it temporarily? Using a sealant and duct tape! https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-45364155

So big congratulations to my son and his partners in TOTEM. Your parents are over the moon happy and proud of you! https://www.totemmx.com

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Is this the real life, or must we upload a picture to social media in order to “Make it so?” The famous Freddie Mercury song, Bohemian Rhapsody, has been swirling around in my head. First of all, the Rocker scored the incredible trailer for the biopic about Mercury https://www.cbsnews.com/news/see-the-first-trailer-for-queen-biopic-bohemian-rhapsody/

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide
No escape from reality
Open your eyes
Look up to the skies and see

And then of course we have our first Reality Show President, working tirelessly behind the scenes to encourage Chief Justice Tony Kennedy, his buddy, to retire NOW. Everyone knows there’s business as usual, and then outside the boardroom all the deals are made in advance. Thank “The Apprentice!” Ivanka takes her daughter on a tour of the Supreme Court courtesy of Tony. Turns out the Donald worked closely with “Tony’s boy” at Deutsche Bank, arranging for loans when other banks wouldn’t touch him.

Bob and I have been helping the Great Grands turn their apartment into a home and dreaming about our own real estate dynasty. What if we, Baby Boomers, the last of a dying breed with secure financial futures thanks to pensions,  401(k)s, and Social Security, were to reinvent retirement? I know I’ve mentioned this before but hear me out: How about a Reality Show for Alta Kakas!?! If you are new to Yiddish, this is an endearing swear word for old people.

I know I know, The Golden Girls. Thanks to Women’s Liberation, we are now dying off in similar numbers so we have to think about the guys right – plus, that was then, when everyone went to Florida. And even though Betty White is an icon, that was a sit-com; I’m talking reality baby, like “Big Brother” only with seniors. Can you see it, a food fight breaks out in the dining room with rice pudding flying everywhere. I would call it “Golden Disrupters.”

Or maybe film this reality show on the water. Did you know there are retirees called “Great Loopers” who put their boats in the water and spend their last days cruising the intercoastal waterways of the South. They bisect Florida on the Okeechobee canal, thereby avoiding the Keys. It’s kinda like Glamping, and definitely not yachting.

Whatever we end up doing on our Golden Pond, I suggest to you that indeed we CAN escape reality, in fact we MUST in order to save our sanity! And Art has always been a great way to circumvent conflict and chaos. In true Adalisciousness, we have turned a second bedroom into an art studio. Here the Bride joins her to paint lilies from a neighbor’s garden.

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“The other interesting thing that’s happened [in contemporary Christianity] is this splitting of church into two types of services: the smaller devotional congregations and then the arena entertainment-based congregations, which are much more outgoing and communal, like Abundant Life. And I would not presume to say that one is better than the other because I’m sure there’s good Christians in both, but my preference is certainly for the devotional side. If I’m going to go to a Taylor Swift concert or see a football game, I’ll do that. I won’t go to church.”

If you want to get anywhere fast in the South, travel on Sunday morning. That’s because most people go to church and the roads are empty mid-morning, unless you’re trying to cross the Cumberland River where a huge TV mega-church is located and traffic can back up for miles. As a full-fledged lapsed Catholic, I could never understand the pull of a church service over say breakfast in bed with a Bloody Mary on the side. I figure Sacred Heart School and St Joseph’s Camp for Girls just squeezed the religious life out of me for good!

Now that Great Grandma Ada has moved to Nashville, she’s met FIVE ministers! Imagine that, in the course of one week she has managed to get right with God because we know that she married a reformed minister herself. And I mean “reformed” as in an ex-Baptist Missionary Minister who spread the good word and built wells and hospitals in Ghana – that is, until he saw the light and recreated himself as a pastoral counselor back home. Then he mostly just married people and tried fixing their marriages later; when he wasn’t carving totem poles.

When I asked Great Grandpa Hudson what religion he wanted to be affiliated with, he said, “Orthodox Judaism!”

Well we all burst out laughing! Anyone who knows Hudson knows he was kidding. Orthodoxy, fanaticism of any kind is abhorrent to him. And just as modern Christians have split themselves into two camps – one being the extreme-Trump-show where anything goes, including separating families at our borders while quoting Bible verses, and the other being more reasonable, ie “devotional,” we Americans are splitting apart too. While Mr T dismantles and disrupts democracy from within, God-fearing Christians make excuses because all the while he’s appointing federal judges to advance their agenda. You know the drill:

You don’t want to bake a cake for a gay wedding, because hey, it’s your religious right!

You want that tiny embryo to be declared a person, and criminalize abortion.

You love your AR 15s and want to buy as many as you possibly can, just because.

If you are a fanatical Christian, an evangelical holier-than-thou holy roller, let’s face it, you’re probably not reading this post. You’re watching Fox Entertainment “News” or listening to one of its subsidiaries. The one time I got into social media trouble was after posting an article calling out Mr T as a faux Christian…because when someone is “born again” everything can be forgiven. Everything.

And the Irish in me can’t always forgive. I was all ready to applaud our current First Lady for visiting a detention center for separated refugee children in Texas, until I saw her cheap jacket emblazoned with “I really don’t care. Do U?” graffiti on her back. I had an ounce of pity for her before, because I saw her hasty hand-swipe, and understood that she didn’t ask for all this attention. But she has become a fashion icon and would never don a piece of clothing like that, evah!

Her “Let them eat cake” moment was supposed to show us her softer side. And I must admit, I HATE it when the news cycle picks up on her clothing and not her words – did she really think these children could call, let alone find their parents? I can’t wait to see who will portray her on a future Netflix docu-drama. Meanwhile, a film you don’t want to miss is:

“First Reformed,” Paul Schrader’s austere, intense portrait of a Protestant minister coming undone in upstate New York. The movie, starring Ethan Hawke as the Rev. Ernst Toller, explores themes that viewers versed in Mr. Schrader’s more than four-decade body of work — which includes “American Gigolo” and “Light Sleeper” (as director) and “Taxi Driver” (as screenwriter) and the critical study “Transcendental Style in Film” — will surely recognize. This is not the first time he has delved into the existential torment of a man’s soul… https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/20/movies/first-reformed-paul-schrader.

Tonight we’ll escort Great Grandma Ada to the Temple for some Jewish levity, or irony, or sanity in the South. We’ll re-introduce her to her tribe in the Reform Jewish tradition, which means I never had to promise to keep Kosher. Thank God! From one snowflake, an avalanche.

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Gone are the days when a Hollywood studio could basically “own” its talent. But we’ve all heard of actors having to sign away their lives for a certain number of pictures over a period of years. Now with the #metoo movement, more than a few casting couches have been exposed. Once you achieved “star” status, the pressure might ease up a little; but did you know that over one hundred years ago at Universal Studios women were writing and directing many of the early silent films?

As director Ida May Park, another of the Universal Women, remarked in 1920, “Films are made for women, [who] compose the large majority of our fans.” That’s true today, when females make up 52% of the moviegoing audience. Yet filmmaking is top-heavy with male-driven stories, written, directed and produced primarily by men. Surely the mismatch has a role in the drop in box office receipts at movie theaters.  http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-sharp-universal-studios-women-20171112-story.html

Last night, I understand Frances McDormand made an impassioned plea at the Oscars. Still haven’t seen “Three Billboards” but it’s on my list! Calling attention to an “inclusion rider” was her way of telling her peers that they can take back their power in numbers if everyone adds this rider to their contract. Simply put, you are calling for diversity of your cast and crew – you’d like the movie you are about to shoot represent all of the varied shades of the American people. All ages and sexes would be nice as well. And, I would add, maybe even women screenwriters?

With the exception of Star Wars, I’ve often felt that studios are so worried about box office numbers, they have lately been putting out any and all iterations of comic/book/super/action/heroes. Adolescent boy material can be good for awhile, but as a culture we’ve come close to overdosing. Women like a movie with a good storyline, that’s all. We don’t want gratuitous scenes of random violence and torture, we don’t need loud car chases and crashes.

Although, I must admit “Wonder Woman” was a long time coming.

Let’s take a look at that fish story. That’s what I call “The Shape of Water.” Bob loved it and I came away with a mawah feeling. I’m not sure why, maybe I’m just too practical to think a woman might fall for a fish. It had periods of light for sure, but best movie Oscar?  I told Bob I can’t wait to see one of my favorite actors, Jennifer Lawrence, in Red Sparrow. It’s only topping out at about 45M in the US, hmmm, then I read a Jezebel review and thought, WHY? Rape, sexual humiliation and torture, when Lawrence’s character is not walking aimlessly around a street…I feel like Nancy Kerrigan all the darn time.

When the Bride and I were driving home from our family forum on healthy sex, she happened to mention that unlike her peers, she remembers that as a teen we would allow her to see films with sex scenes in them, but not violent films filled with guns. I of course remember taking her to see an “Alien” movie because I’d read that Sigourney Weaver was the first female action star – and ended up covering her eyes for most of it! Sometimes you wonder what sticks during those parenting years.

I cannot wait to see “A Wrinkle in Time,” written, directed and starring women of all possible shapes, sizes and colors and ages. I wonder if Oprah, Reese and Mindy had inclusion riders in their contracts? Here is my favorite local historic home, hey Hollywood scouts, let’s see what goes on behind that door!    IMG_2373 2

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It’s been a busy weekend. Not busy like Great Grandpa Hudson’s busy Veteran’s Day celebrations, but busy enough. On Saturday, Bob and I stopped by a new Vietnamese restaurant opening in our neighborhood; and that evening we saw the spectacular “Jane” documentary with the Bride’s family, about Jane Goodall and her beloved chimps of the Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania. As we were leaving the theatre, I remembered interviewing Dame Goodall in Rumson in the 90s.

She was slight like the Flapper, elegant in an easy way, no makeup with her grey hair pulled back in the proverbial ponytail. Wrapped in a long poncho. I remember the determination in her eyes, so focused and bright.

Last night we walked down our alley to meet our 90 year old neighbor, Burdell, and walk to a presentation on the history of Germantown. Our little outpost neighborhood in Nashville started out with an abundance of slaughterhouses in the 1840s and began developing into a mixed residential area until the 1950s. It was an old-school slide presentation and when a certain house on Monroe St appeared, Burdell whispered, “Turnip greens.” Seems a woman would sit on that front porch yelling, “Turnip greens!” all day long.

And I thought I had entered into a Southern novel and was wishing my sister-in-law Jorja  was here.

Burdell and the man wielding the laser light single(or double)handedly rescued Germantown from becoming an industrial zone in 1979. The city wanted to build an emissions testing garage across the street from those venerable old homes, so our buddies ran quite a protest with press coverage and champagne and donuts! Certain homes became historic landmarks and an architectural review board convened to save the tiny row houses and bungalows from extinction.

Now we are back to being a mixed residential zone, only the new condos and apartments being built are hardly affordable. In fact, a new town home next to an old funeral home and across from a pet store just sold for over 1M.

At least that’s what Bill told me. This is how I get my news these days, from neighbors walking past our porch to the coffee house; from Bob’s “damage report” every morning; from BBC and Nashville Public Radio; and for up to the minute “breaking news” from Twitter. I’m changing my habits. Gone are the days of yelling at Morning Joe over coffee. Instead, this morning I watched a video clip on my laptop from the Today Show of Joe Biden.

First I just watched his facial expressions, without sound. Then I punched in the sound as he answered Savannah Guthrie’s question about some juvenile Tweet Mr T sent regarding North Korea’s leader being “short and fat.” Biden was measured and serious, we are no longer laughing at Mr T’s buffoonery. He said he’s known many presidents, and that our children and grandchildren are watching, that our country used to lead by “The Power of our Example.”

We all know you can teach a child through lessons, words and workbooks, but it’s our example as teachers and parents that sifts through their consciousness. I wanted the Love Bug to see “Jane” because she also loves animals, and being outside collecting bugs. If you want your child to not develop an eating disorder, you don’t grab their arm or threaten at the dinner table. One models a healthy lifestyle by living it. Just thinking about two man-baby leaders trading sarcastic middle school Tweets with those same fingers that can access nuclear codes is more than horrifying.

They are putting humans on the endangered species list. When Jane’s chimps ventured south on the Gombe, they were systematically annihilated by a different group in that area. Territory is hard-wired in our brains I’m afraid. And Mr T goes to China and comes back with a branding agreement for his name to be used on hotels and escort services among others, but nada on North Korea. There is a move to impeach this president, have you signed the Need to Impeach Trump petition yet? https://www.needtoimpeach.com

We are walking on a tightrope.

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Let me feel your psyche talk. Reading a recap of the news this morning made me want to break into song, sorry Olivia Newton John. It seems that Mr T is on a Twitter tear, which obviously means he’s not happy, and he’s setting the stage for his United Nation’s address today. What he will say to the General Assembly is anybody’s guess, but one look at his Tweets tells us he’s getting aggressive with the “Rocket Man.” And Nikki Haley’s response?

“He gets emotional.”

Awww. Imagine what would have happened if Hillary Clinton set policy via Tweets creating one scandal after another, and then her Ambassador said she was just being emotional? Imagine President Obama saying just about anything Mr T has said?!! Imagine any US President mock/striking a woman with a GIF of his golf swing! This is our new normal, we have somehow normalized the behavior of a 12 year old boy.

Last night Bob and I drove out to a lake house for dinner with some new friends. We have the shared experience of our daughter’s residency at Vanderbilt. Their doctor-bride-to-be will be married in January, and she is a Pediatric Orthopedist. We met Susan and Tom by chance at the eclipse, and liked them before we found out our girls actually knew each other. We had a lovely time and returned home in time to watch the premiere of Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s epic documentary “The Vietnam War.”

I got pretty emotional, because my brothers served in that war.

I had no idea that the eventual leader of the Viet Cong, Ho Chi Minh, had first written to FDR after WWII for help with establishing independence from the French for his country. That letter was never delivered. After the Chinese Revolution, Russia was only too happy to help this nationalist leader fight for a united Vietnam.

I didn’t know a young congressman named John Kennedy saw the futility of this proxy war for the French. And that in 1959, the first two American soldiers were killed as they watched a movie. The incremental lead up to war was chilling, and resonates today with our troubles in North and South Korea. And so much is about the context of our time, and how that shapes our point of view.

In the 1960s, we thought we were fighting for freedom, because we were afraid of Communism. Fear pushed four presidents of both parties to intercede in a bloody civil war for French Indochina – we didn’t see the obvious end of colonialism. Hindsight may hopefully teach us something this time around.

If we can manage to not let our emotions take over; if our President can control his temperamental Twitter tirades; if we don’t turn our backs on history.

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