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January 12, 2006

Dick Clark

by Nancy       Go to fullsize image

The Book Tarts have been told The Lipstick Chronicles is one of the most popular writer blogs around .  We get lots of hits every day and we each receive plenty of traffic that clicks from the blog to our websites, which are apparently two measures of internet popularity. We get a zillion hits if we include key words that get Googled a lot such as “porn goddess,” “Kelly Ripa + anorexia,” "how can I get my manuscript published,” anything “Evanovich” and “does Stephen King ever write about sex?”  (Okay, I made up the Stephen King thing, but I thought I’d see how many people are curious about Steve today.)

The Tarts are grateful to find ourselves so well-read, and we recognize that we’re a favorite among lots of people because for a foursome of white chicks, we’re very diverse. We don’t plug our books all the time. (Occasionally it's good, though, to remind you why we’ve lured you here.) We vary our material and our style nearly every day, and by now everybody knows that content rules the internet.  We generate a lot of content here at TLC.

But now we’re all writing like mad. Our books, that is. Well, except for Sarah who finished her revisions and is now presumably doing the things all writers do once the manuscript is in the mail:  Taking her first shower in a week, paying the bills so the power company doesn’t turn off her heat, throwing away all those pizza boxes Go to fullsize image  that have stacked up so her family didn’t starve, maybe even flossing---the usual.  Anyway, we’re all pretty busy and it’s hard to make time for blogging.

We were lucky that the Frey scandal hit the fan this week. It provided good fodder. But now it feels sorta over (the speed of the internet doesn’t let us fume for long, does it?) so today I’m finding it especially challenging to write something meaningful or hilarious or with a meaty, thought-provoking metaphor that will make people mull over the state of their lives or their own writing or at the very least goose you into rushing out to buy one of my books.

Metaphor, of course, is perhaps the element that separates good writing from bad. (For those of you tip-toeing into Writing 101 for the first time, I’m not talking about a metaphor of language—He was an oak tree—but the artful and intentional confluence of character, story and theme created by the writer. A reader who can’t see past your surface story to the metaphor is like one of those nuts who moves his family of 9 children into an abandoned bus and forces his wife to home school, can all their food and push out a new baby every year—the guy who takes every word of the Bible literally instead of reading the metaphors to gain insight into the nature of Higher Power. Maybe we should all strive to write for his wife in the hope that she’ll pull herself together and get the kids to a safe place.) I'm getting better at it.  I'm still learning.

The quote that most chilled me this week:  The Afghan tribal leader who said, “Killing one educated person is as effective as killing dozens of ordinary people.”

Anyway, post-Frey, I cast around for a metaphor.

In the end, I decided to blog about my mother being offered a job this week.

Mother is 78 years old, 5’2” on a good day, weighing in at 120 pounds, tops.  She’s been active all her life—golf, tennis, swimming--but this summer had a hip replacement that didn’t go very well, so she’s been forced to give up walking (even with a bad hip, a year ago she was walking briskly a couple of hours every day) and must cut her usual hour of morning yoga by half.  She uses a cane right now, which—okay, I’d never use this word in her presences, but it pisses her off.

So imagine her surprise yesterday when she hobbled into her local YMCA—one of her regular haunts, of course---and the Y director rushed up and begged her to go on the payroll. 

As a lifeguard.  Go to fullsize image

“Are you blind?” my mother asked, laughing as she waved her cane in his face. What qualities did he see that made him think her capable of rescuing someone from the bottom of the swimming pool?

She was secretly pleased, of course.  It’s a nice party to be invited to at the age of 78.  Clearly, somebody thinks the old girl still has a lot of kick left.  It was a great affirmation.

Did you watch television on New Year’s Eve?  Specifically Dick Clark?

Of course you did.  The network set up the story, built the suspense, all but asked the blunt question out loud:  How bad was Dick going to look when they finally parked him in front of the camera and turned on the lights? 



gasp in horror at his appearance?  Were we all shocked by his halting speech?  Did his motionless hand give us all the right shiver of pity?  Just in case we missed it the first time, all the morning “news” shows re-ran the tape so everybody could comment on poor Dick’s sorry appearance.

Which really ticked me off.  I guess you need to have a family member who’s had a stroke to realize that Dick Clark looked FABULOUS.  I know how hard he worked this year.  I can imagine the long hours of rehab, the channeling of extreme frustration into the determination to get those motor skills back.  He spent tedious hours every day working on his speech.  If your dad has had a stroke like Dick’s, wouldn’t you be overjoyed to see him looking so alert? So mentally with it? So unbelievably cheerful despite all that relentless hard work?   

I think we were all supposed to be shocked by his appearance because…well, Dick hadn’t changed at all since those American Bandstand days.  Maybe it was natural, but I have to assume nature didn’t entirely stop those hands of time, but that Dick installed a few software updates along the way.  He didn’t allow the natural changes to show.

Which, I’m thinking, is probably a mistake. Nothing good stays the same. We have to let change occur.  Or we must initiate the changes. Do you think General Motors could stay alive if they didn’t create new designs every . . . okay, bad example. I think it might have been more compelling (and humane) to see Dick fight his long battle for success than allow the media to slap us in the face with his altered appearance. 

Today I found myself thinking that to enjoy any success—in publishing, in blogging, in democracy, in life---I need to embrace change.

Last week we were talking New Year’s resolutions.  Mostly, we were joking around. This week I took another look and decided I needed to make some real revisions in my life.  In the shallow end of my personal pool: One resolution is to waste less time clicking around the internet. (It’s called screen sucking, did you know?  If I encouraged everyone to stop screen sucking, I suppose we’d get fewer hits here at TLC, but maybe it’s better for all of us to stop gulping down useless information like whether or not Angelina Jolie is pregnant.) Another is to spend more time heightening my creativity. (It’s a skill after all, not a bolt of serendipitous lightning. It requires nurturing and hard work every day.  If you’re still into screen sucking, check out Time magazine’s special report.)  Mainly, I want somebody to look at me when I'm 78 and think, "Hey, that's a lady I need on my payroll!"  Which means I must keep changing, growing, evolving, learning.

Meanwhile, I think we’ve resolved to keep things popping here at TLC.  As we've seen this week, blogs can be instruments of change. Thanks for your input.  Our greatest pleasure is getting to know everybody who stops by. It’s you who kick starts the content and takes it somewhere else.


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Hurrah for your Mom, Nancy, and hurrah for Dick Clark. Do you think we Americans might ever be able to start our embrace of change by embracing aging as a natural process? By recognizing that gray hair, wrinkled skin, and a hitch in the old get-along don't mean we've died or are a burden or have somehow lost our value?

Think about what a difference it could make if we stopped masking the outward signs of aging while encouraging people to take care of themselves mentally, physically, and spiritually -- to continue to grow and develop. It seems to me that our current culture of youth perpetuates a stark dichotomy: the illusion of youth for as long as it can be maintained, then an abrupt crash into the inevitable. Young = good, old = nearly dead; therefore, old = scary, bad, and to be avoided at all costs. What if, instead, we saw hair getting grayer and wrinkles getting deeper and bodies changing, but in the context of a person still vibrant, still doing new things, still active within whatever constraints the aging process has conferred? Wouldn't we start to approach something more like "life is change and change is good and there's nothing wrong with getting old"? Isn't that what ultimately leads folks to offer 78-year-olds with canes jobs at the Y?

I know that images like those have, quite literally, changed my life. They've encouraged me to recognize that I am not now, nor will I ever be, too old to try new things (and even to become pretty good at them!). They've encouraged me to understand that yes, I'm going to have new limits -- but I also have new capacities. And, in my own small way, I want to keep that message alive. So the hair will gray and the wrinkles deepen and the skin will sag, all without cosmetic intervention. I'll probably get at least one more tattoo along the way, just for fun. And I hope that I'm still teaching and training when I'm 78 . . .

Aging, to a point, is fine for men. It's just not okay for women.

Harley can confirm this, I'm sure, when the West Coast wakes up. There's a reason she isn't active in the Industry anymore, but the men she acted with are still going strong and have 24-year-old girlfriends or wives.

I am so, so thankful you said what you did about Dick Clark's appearance, which I thought was awesome and brave. Your remarks got my day off to a really great start....

And your mom rocks! So does her local Y!

Great news about the hit counts, or whatever they're called. That's a boxing term, so perhaps another would be more appropriate.

Mixed feelings about Dick Clark - I felt protective of the guy - worried that someone was taking advantage of him. But he's an adult and presumably he has family and agents and whomever to look out for him, so I guess it was his choice, and a brave one at that.

On screen sucking - I have to limit myself to this Blog only - once I start clicking around, I don't even want to answer the phone. That's bad, since if I don't answer the phone, I don't get work, and so forth.

I'm so glad you mentioned how fabulous you thought Dick Clark looked. I was so busy arguing exactly that point with certain members of my family, that we almost missed the ball drop completely.

Kathy Sweeney, I felt protective of him also, knowing that the 6 minutes or so of airtime was going to be replayed and analyzed by people (who really don't know what they are talking about) the whole week after it aired.

But I did think he looked and sounded extraordinarily well, and, knowing how much effort it must have taken to get to that point, I found it very moving.

Congrats to your Mom.

I didn't turn on the TV NYE this year, but did catch a replay of one of Dick Clark's appearances. It saddened me to see what he had gone through. At the same time, I admired his courage to come back and do the show. I want to have that bravery when I'm his age.

But I will always hate change.


"Don't you change."

Al Jarreau
Theme from Moonlighting

I miss that show!!

Bruce Willis with hair....mmmmm.

First two years available on DvD! I know, because I bought it for my wife just before Christmas at (I am ashamed to say) Wal-mart.

We have the DVD as well - hilarious show. Vintage banter than has yet to be repeated.

Cybill Shephard has the most classic wardrobe - sure, there are some over-the-top Nolan Miller (hello shoulderpads) but most of her stuff is aces.

I love the later episodes when she didn't give a damn anymore and wore her sneakers with those silk shoulderpad numbers. And the sound boom kept showing, too. The whold production team just wanted out of there!

Moonlighting was my favorite show until they jumped the shark! The two of them playing off each other, the tension between them, the snappy come backs,NOW THERE WAS A SHOW!

Hooray for mom!
I had that experience recently on my pre-baking and party visit to the Giant Eagle. I zapped my full cart thru the self-check-out thingie so fast, the manager came over and offered me a job. Aas he was baggin my groceries, the man behind me watched as I zipped my coupons into the slot and said, "I didn't know you could actually silence that voice that tells you where to put the coupons if you do it very fast." I think it was the pre-holiday tension that propelled me. For those of us "of a certain age" it is the little things that make us smile!

Hooray for mom!
I had that experience recently on my pre-baking and party visit to the Giant Eagle. I zapped my full cart thru the self-check-out thingie so fast, the manager came over and offered me a job. As he was bagging my groceries, the man behind me watched as I zipped my coupons into the slot and said, "I didn't know you could actually silence that voice that tells you where to put the coupons if you do it very fast." I think it was the pre-holiday tension that propelled me.
For those of us "of a certain age" it is the little things that make us smile!

Sorry for this message ahead of time.Husband having quadruple bypass on Monday, I wanted to make him the coffee cake you gave on the blog, but I cant find it!!!! Can you send it to me? Thanks SusanCo

I love it when one of my habits turns out to be an actual disorder, with a name.

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