6 to 11

You might have a 9 to 5, but do you have a 6 to 11?

Good question. I read it on a blog I like called the Moo Blog. The post is called “It’s Time To Find Your 6 to 11.” It’s about people who have monetized their hobbies; an idea that seems appealing but I can’t imagine it for myself, unless I can find people who will pay me to watch reruns of Law & Order and Seinfeld.

I’ve written in other posts about hobbies, their importance, and even some hobby ideas for us men-of-a-certain-age. I actually started a list and so far have over 140 ideas. Some of them could make you some money, in fact there are people who do. Most are just for fun and enrichment—something to keep you from just settling into a recliner, watching reruns.

But when I read that question: “Do you have a 6 to 11”, I didn’t think immediately of hobbies or second jobs. I thought of how do I spend those few hours of the day when I’m awake and not at work. The last hour of that time frame is pretty set. I love to read, so 10p to 11p is pretty much my reading time.

I’ll admit it. I spend too much time watching TV, but not as much these days. There’s not a lot of programming I care to see right now. The only sports on air is baseball, and while I love going to a game, I can bear to watch it on TV. I haven’t caught Olympic fever which is good because we have DISH network and they are fighting with our local NBC affiliate, so we’re not getting prime time Olympic coverage at our house. Oh, I did find an obscure sports channel that shows some events. So I’ve seen one ping pong match and a couple of badminton matches (if that’s what you call them).

It’s in the evenings that I catch up on blogs I enjoy, I skim through Facebook and Instagram to see if any new pictures of our Grand-Girls have been posted, and I check the online versions of my favorite news sources: NPR, The Atlantic and others, which I won’t list for fear some might label me too hastily.

I enjoy spending evening-time researching potential new purchases; or as my Amazing-Missus might say, “over researching to the point of obsessive and beyond.” But, can you be too careful. For example, if you’re going to buy a cooler that’s so expensive it will require a second mortgage on the home, you need to watch every video on YouTube to see if a YETI® is really worth it. Let me save you some time on this one: Yes, yes it is. It might not work much better than an Igloo® or Coleman®, but they throw in a couple of really cool stickers at no extra charge. Put one on the back window of your pickup and tell the world, “Yes, I’m one of those dudes that will pay way too much for an ice chest.”

See here’s how it works (in my mind), if I spend an inordinate amount of my 6 to 11 in heavy scrutiny over a purchase, it’s okay if it’s expensive, because I’ve done my due diligence and I know I’m getting great value. I have a shirt from a company called Reyn Spooner. Their shirts are relatively high, but worth it. I’ve had one for probably 30 years. And, yes, in my world of fashion it is still boss. (Back in the 60s when I came of age along with Reyn Spooner, “boss” meant cool.) So from time to time, when Spooner is having a sale, I’ll use a couple of good evenings selecting which amazing pattern I will add to the wardrobe—something that says, “Yes, I’m in my 60s, but I still feel like I’m living in the 60s.”

So, here I am sitting in front of a too expensive travel trailer, with my feet propped up on a too expensive cooler, in a too expensive shirt, listening to some old guys singing their wish that all the girls could be California girls. That’s how I’m rockin this 6 to 11.


Spinning Backward

I DID SOMETHING THIS WEEK that I haven’t done for forty years, and it was surprisingly fun.

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
— T.S. Eliot

I’ve noticed something about me and my peers, when we get together and talk, we talk about what we used to do. Somehow, in these strolls down memory lane, we come off braver, stronger, smarter, more adventurous, athletic, and talented. Our exploits were grander, more romantic, more genuine, more enduring.

We tell stories about school, summers, cars, girls, jobs and such, that all start the same way: “Back when I was young…”

If you were to eavesdrop on one of these chats, you might hear something like this: Back when I was a kid, I hauled hay all day long…that was back when hay bales were heavy…before the Obama administration made the farmers grow all this genetically altered grass. We were lucky if we got paid ten bucks a day, which was enough for a tank of gas and money for a date. Thankfully, I was dating girls before Ralph Nader, the Clintons and Obama invented seat belts. That way, she could sit right next to me. We didn’t have air-bags either… we didn’t need them… and our dashboards where steel back then… see this scar?

Regardless of the alignment of our memories to actual reality, it’s still fun to recapture an occasional moment from our youth.

And this week I did just that—for the first time in a long, long time I bought a record! That’s right; a vinyl, 33 and a third, Long-play album! It was highly invigorating.

Thanks mostly to today’s neo-hippies, and young urban hipsters, and their marketplace of choice which includes stores like Urban Outfitters, record players and vinyl records are making a comeback (along with beards and beads and bellbottoms).

So, for once, when I told My Amazing-Missus, “Yes, I want to keep that, it may come back in style,” I was right! I dug out the box of my old records and it is an apt collection indeed. Sgt. Peppers, Rubber Soul, The White Album, Revolver, The Doors, The Kinks, The Beach Boys, Miles Davis, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Carol King, James Taylor, Crosby, Stills Nash & Young…

I even found my turntable. Unfortunately it’s gears are frozen up, it’s wires are frayed and its needle’s a little rusted; sort of like its owner’s.

In the next few days the FedEx guy will carefully (I hope) place a box containing my new record player on the front porch. So this weekend I’m hoping to set everything up, then maybe I’ll put on my headphones, light some incense, platter-up Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, and give it a spin.

I will live in the 60s again for a little bit, and then I will go to the Social Security website and sign up for Medicare, because I’m in MY 60s now, and I only have a month to get this done.

Then I will put The Beatles on the turntable and listen to “When I’m 64” and wish that it was 1964 again.

my first album purchase in many many years--the amazing Bill Evans.

my first album purchase in many many years--the amazing Bill Evans.

Beyoncé & Me

IF THERE WERE A TOP TEN LIST of people that I am not likely to be confused with, Beyoncé would probably be on the list. However, I do feel a certain kinship with her when it comes to being productive. Well, at least we’re both self-certain in our productivity, well-deserved or not.

Maybe you remember the viral Tweet, “We all have the same 24 hours that Beyoncé has”. The Tweet and its various iterations “took the web by storm in late 2013 as the megastar became the figurehead of not only having it all, but being able to somehow do it all too.” — www.infowetrust.com

One of my favorite books of recent days is called “Daily Rituals: How Artists Work” by Mason Currey. Here’s a description:

How do creatives – composers, painters, writers, scientists, philosophers – find the time to produce their opus? Mason Currey investigated the rigid Daily Rituals that hundreds of creatives practiced in order to carve out time, every day, to work their craft. Some kept to the same disciplined regimen for decades while others locked in patterns only while working on specific works.

Making the most of our time is daunting. I have a friend who posts and reposts some of the funniest stuff. Recently there was this:

I’m at that awkward stage between birth and death.

Let’s see if we can think of life in smaller, more manageable chunks, say a day at a time. In Currey’s book he uses his research of journals, biographies, letters, etc. to put together a picture of the daily routines of creative, productive people. The info-graphic folks at www.infowetrust.com illustrated it for us. Here’s an example:

So, I’ve been thinking and talking a lot about hobbies and how important it is too have one. Someone commented to me, “It seems like a hobby could be just a big waste of time.” I suppose there is a danger of that, especially if my hobby were, let’s say, watching reruns of “Law & Order”, a pastime I happen to enjoy. That’s a funny word—pastime.

Time is precious, and despite all the advice to “save time”, we really can’t. We have to make the most of it as it comes. The more I’ve looked in to this whole hobby idea, the more I’m convinced that a hobby can be a very good use of our time.

Saturday, for example, we took the Grand-Girls out on a hobby idea I’ve been looking in to. It’s called geocaching. We had a great time for a long time. Before I knew it four hours had passed. It was a wonderful four hours, with three of the most special people in my life. I highly recommend geocaching with your kids or grandkids.

Back to the time topic. Just for the fun of it, maybe you would want to track a few days of your life using Mason’s model. See if you notice some rhythms. Does your daily ritual include an investment in the things that are really important to you? If not, change it. It’s about time. And, just like Beyoncé and me; you have 24 hours every single day.

Pops’ Movie Club

Hobbies, Creative Pursuits and Worthwhile Causes: First Installment. (For some background, read the previous post, Exploring The Deeper Places.)

So the exploration has begun. The quest: to identify pursuits for us Men-Of-A-Certain-Age; things other than watching the 24-hour news channels and becoming even grumpier old men.

Let me go ahead and offer a few disclaimers: I admit some personal bias here. The first ideas that come to mind for me are those things I find interesting, so canning jelly and jam won’t be on the list unless you love it and want to write a guest post about, which would be awesome. Nothing against jelly, but canning it is not compelling for me.

Of course we need to keep our pursuits within the law, relatively speaking. Since About Pops doesn’t dwell in Colorado, marijuana-growing won’t be on the list. Also we need to have some limits set by reasonablenss and good judgement. So hang-gliding, cliff-diving, self-tattooing, and fire-eating probably won’t be on the list. And while it sounds so manly to include hobbies like cigar smoking or chicked-fried-steak eating, if my cardiologist found out I was experimenting in these realms, he would have a heart attack.

You know what your problem is, it’s that you haven’t seen enough movies - all of life’s riddles are answered in the movies. —Steve Martin

Pursuit #1: Start/Join A Movie Club

This idea is compelling and daunting for me. While I love movies and would welcome the opportunity to watch and discuss with a few close friends, I’m way too introverted to actually join a club. So maybe from time to time I could post a movie suggestion, or you could send me some ideas. Then could watch them individually in the privacy of our own homes.

Everybody has something that chews them up and, for me, that thing was always loneliness. The cinema has the power to make you not feel lonely, even when you are. —Tom Hanks

Selecting a movie or movies seems to be very important, but tricky. Tastes in movies varies wildly, and judgements are made. For example if I suggested our club start with the movies of Nora Ephron, you might suggest that what I need is a cigar and a chicken-fried-steak, or you might assume I had been smoking the favorite crop of Coloradians.

So how about the movies of John Hughes (the good ones)? Or Wes Anderson? Or Woody Allen. I know, let’s compromise and go with Alfred Hitchcock. We’ll start with Rear Window.

A good film is when the price of the dinner, the theatre admission and the babysitter were worth it. —Alfred Hitchcock

Maybe we could leave the movies up to a film expert like Robert Osborne. You know, the guy that picks the films for “The Esstentials” on TCM.

Read this from the TCM website:
“Watch the Essentials every Saturday at 7PM CT. Since its inception on TCM in 2001, The Essentials has become the ultimate series for movie lovers to expand their knowledge of must-see cinema and revisit landmark films that have had a lasting impact on audiences everywhere.  Each season a co-host joins Robert Osborne for a special introduction and post-movie discussion about the enduring qualities of a particular film.”

If tonight’s selection is any indication, I feel like we can trust Robert. So let’s start tonight:

1955 118 Mins TV- PG Drama

It’s a great film and released just as us Baby Boomers were toddling around the house. Here’s a description from the website:

James Dean starred in three films before his tragic death in an automobile accident on September 30, 1955 and the first of these, East of Eden (1955), was the only one released during his short lifetime. An adaptation of the 1952 novel by John Steinbeck, East of Eden was director Elia Kazan’s follow-up to On the Waterfront (1954) and marked his first use of both Technicolor and Cinemascope. The technological upgrade worked wonders for the story’s verdant Salinas Valley setting, where brothers Cal (Dean) and Aron (Richard Davalos) Trask compete for the affections of their taciturn farmer father (Raymond Massey) and the love of a local girl (Julie Harris) in the last innocent months before the start of the First World War. Adapted by playwright turned screenwriter Paul Osborn, East of Eden took as its inspiration the Biblical tale of Cain and Abel, a take torqued even further by Dean’s unorthodox performance (which made him a teen sensation and the industry’s hottest commodity). Dean plumbed deep within his psyche to play the troubled Cal Trask and his unconventional approach to his craft frustrated and angered costar Massey, resulting in a palpable onscreen tension that helped define the fractured relationship of their characters. Toploaded with talent, East of Eden scored its only Academy Award for sixth-billed Jo Van Fleet, in the small but unforgettable role of Cal Trask’s wayward mother. Dean skipped out on the film’s March 1955 New York City premiere and his subsequent Oscar nomination for Best Performance in a Leading Role was bestowed posthumously, an Academy first.

Start the popcorn, dim the lights…