Category Archives: laughter

New Time-Life Johnny Carson special release DVD set

Classic Johnny Carson and Friends

It’s hard to believe Johnny Carson has been gone for so long. He was an important part of life for many Chicagoans. Many of us Boomers couldn’t stay up ’til the end of the show each night but managed to watch at least the monologue. Always guranteed a few laughs. Of course, we had to wait through WAY too many commercials, but we loved him so much we just put up with it. And I was really sad when we moved east where he didn’t come on until 11:30. I never got to see him live again.

Now time-Life has issued a retrospective of nine of Carson’s great shows from the 70s, 80s and 90s that feature appearances by three of America’s most beloved comedians: Steve Martin, Robin Williams, and Eddie Murphy. Watch Carson desperately try to control the show while Robin Williams goes off on his wild improv bits. Watch Steve Martin’s first appearance where he hadn’t prepared material for himself, even though he was a writer for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. The real treasures of that episode are Johnny’s monologue and his interview with the aged but still brilliantly commanding Jimmy Stewart. Carson talks with him  about some of his most famous movies: The ShootistJohn Wayne‘s last film, and It’s a Wonderful Life, the most-viewed Christmas movie of all time. Funny to see the self-confidence six years later Steve Martin exhibits as guest host compared to his first performance. Feel the shock of noticing that Steve Martin is a much taller man than the Rocky movie hero, Sylvester Stallone.
And then watch the magnificently suave and impeccably dressed Eddie Murphy’s first appearance where his sharp and incisive humor carried the night. So impressive was he that Carson invited him back again two more times the same year, while meanwhile Murphy became a breakout star, released his Grammy-nominated debut album, and began shooting his first movie.
The Johnny Carson monologues. The bright and loving interchanges between Carson and Ed and Doc Severinson. Precious memories. This is irreplaceable classic Carson and guests. If you love brilliant humor and love watching Johnny do his schtick, you can watch it without commercials or enjoy it as it appeared, but with only a few select commercials that reek of the times. Get yourself a copy of this Johnny Carson DVD trilogy for $29.95 only from Barnes & Noble. Released July 4, 2017 for direct response only and available now. A great gift for Chicagoans who lived during those 30 years of 1962 to 1992.

Holiday happiness – try gratitude therapy

New Orleans: Thank you message in the grotto o...
New Orleans: Thank you message in the grotto of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church; added by those for whom prayer or miracles were granted (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gratitude – just the act of thinking about how grateful you are for the good things in your life – improves your attitude, your mood and, yes, even your health. has scientific proof of how it works, and they even get hired by corporations to teach executives how to feel more gratitude – because it also improves your ability to be creative and to make sound decisions.

What? you say. Too good to be true! But in fact, it really makes a difference. And if this season tends to give you the holiday blues, here’s a little schedule – with thanks to magazine for the plan – by which you can teach yourself how to feel more gratitude and gain some of those benefits.
For the first week…
  • Notice the good. Every morning think of three things you’re grateful for. Doesn’t matter what they are or how small they are. Can be as simple as “I woke up this morning” or “I have enough milk for my coffee today” or “Knowing my friends.” But make sure you think of three different things each morning. It won’t work if you just mindlessly repeat the same things each day.
  • Put it in writing. Write or record the things you’re grateful for. Journaling works for some, but you could also text your three things to a friend or record a voice memo on your phone.
  • Use terms of positive feelings. When you think, write or record, use words like gifts, blessings, good fortune and abundance. Avoid left-handed expressions of gratitude like “thank heavens, this finally happened” or “it’s about time!” or “it’s the least they could do.”
For the second week…
  • Express thanks to others. Every day tell someone thank you for something very specific they do/did. “I really appreciate that you gave me your seat on the bus.” “Thank you for taking the garbage out in time for the truck.”
  • Put it in writing. Write a note to a friend, family member or mentor expressing your heartfelt appreciation for something s/he did that affected you in a positive way. If possible, read it out loud to the person or schedule a video chat to share it.
  • Volunteer to help someone else. People commonly feel more grateful for their own blessings when they do something for others. Carve out some time and sign up to help in your family, church, community or city in some way.
For the third week…
  • See the good everywhere you look. Notice the good things done by others in your family, school, neighborhood or civic group. When you think of your three blessings each day, also recognize others who perform heroic or even simply kind acts.
  • Find and record silver linings. Think of three less-than-ideal experiences you’ve had recently and discover ways in which they might have benefited you in some unexpected way. Sometimes, for example, getting laid off can lead to an even better opportunity. Ending a difficult relationship may lead to greater peace of mind.
  • Pay it forward at work. Workplaces can be the least gratitude-inspiring environments of all. Change up the vibe in your workplace by showing a peer, an intern or a boss some appreciation. And don’t be surprised if your gratitude comes back to you in return.

Rinse and repeat. Endlessly. And see what happens. Happy holidays!


5 books for boomers: Laugh, cry, exercise, cook and – what the hell – drink


Reading is something a lot of baby boomers are thrilled to have more time for than they used to. Maybe you’ve longed to read all the classics and are into the thick of that project. And perhaps you look for something lighter now and then. Here are 5 books for your consideration:

  1. Laugh. Die Laughing: Killer jokes for Newly Old Folks, selected and annotated by William Novak, author of The Big Book of Jewish Humor. Some good laughs about aging and forgetfulness in some of the stories and especially the quotes from comedians. Some are just funny in general without being specific about aging. If you’re an older married person, you may or may not appreciate the many jokes in here that are built on the idea of how miserable a man is with his wife and a few, vice versa. If you’re an avid emailer who receives frequent jokes from friends, you may recognize quite a few of the stories in here. In any case, you’re bound to find some that are new and entertaining.
    Laugh, cry, exercise
    Laugh, cry, exercise
  2. Cry. My New Friend, Grief: Reflections on loss and life, by Anna Hodges Oginsky. Processing a loss is never easy. The social worker author reflects on how her father’s sudden death awakened memories of previous traumas she’d experienced. She writes about how she got help in processing her many painful, negative memories, how she began to be able to see her grief as a positive force and how she came out feeling stronger and more peaceful afterwards. Because the book is about getting perspective, it may not be good for those newly in the throes of grief, but could be good to keep on hand for when they are ready.
  3. Exercise. Beat Osteoporosis with Exercise: A low-impact program for building strength, increasing bone density and improving posture, by Dr. Karl Knopf, a physician who was also a personal trainer and has worked with older adults and disabled persons for four decades. Growing older doesn’t have to mean extreme muscle loss and broken bones. The secret, says the author, is doing specific exercises and stretches that address the core protection against fractures – strong muscles, solid bones and the best possible posture. He points out that building these things begins in childhood, and that it’s never too early to begin. “Eighty-five to 90% of adult bone mass is acquired by age 18 in girls and age 20 in boys.” So the recommendations in this book are good for both you and your grandchildren – fun, healthy things to do together.
    Cook and - what the hell - drink
    Cook and – what the hell – drink
  4. Cook. Whole Cooking and Nutrition: An everyday superfoods approach to planning, cooking and eating with diabetes, by Katie Cavuto, nutritionist and wellness expert. It’s not often we turn down so many pages in a cookbook on our first trip through it, but that’s what happened with this book. We love that every dish uses creative combinations of ingredients and encourages the reader to discover all kinds of new healthy-eating options. For example, ever heard of tempeh? Well, it’s a fermented soy product from Indonesia that’s firmer and more distinctive tasting – nuttier – than tofu. Check out the recipe that combines this with white balsamic vinegar, citrus juice and don’t-you-just-love-it? orange zest – ginger, soy sauce, garlic and more seasonings with greens. It sounds so delicious we don’t even care that we’ve never liked tofu. How about roasted cabbage steaks with vinaigrette? You don’t have to be diabetic to find pleasure in these recipes, and you don’t have to spend a fortune to get all the benefits of the super nutrition in them.
  5. Drink. Bourbon: The Rise and Fall and Rebirth of an American Whiskey, by Fred Minnick. If you like bourbon and you love history, this might be the right book for you. The author scores American whiskey for Whisky Advocate and has written a number of books about bourbon whiskey, including Bourbon Curious: A simple tasting guide for the savvy drinker (review here). This book focuses on the role of bourbon in American culture and traces its resurgence as a favored spirit in current cocktail culture. Minnick details the rise and fall of various distilleries, bootleggers, marketers and more. Ideally, you should be really into history to appreciate the level of detail here, but it might be fun for any bourbon devotee.

Laughter keeps us young

Laugh, friends!
Laugh with friends!

Got this in an email the other day. Would love to give the author credit, but there was no way to identify who made these up. If it was you, please let us know (email form is below). Some of these are LOL, for sure. My biggest laugh came on #2…

Ramblings of a 70+-Year-Old

  1. Goal for 2016 is to eat healthy foods.
    Ate salad for dinner! Mostly croutons & tomatoes.
    Well, really just one big, round crouton covered with tomato sauce. And cheese…
    FINE! Ok, so it was a pizza.

    A pizza with tomato sauce, cheese, tomatos, fi...
    A pizza with tomato sauce, cheese, tomatos, field mushrooms, onion etc. Português: Uma pizza de queijo feita em casa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  2. How to prepare Tofu:
    1 – Throw it in the trash.
    2 – Grill some Meat.
  3. “I just did a week’s worth of cardio walking through a spider web.”
  4. “I don’t mean to brag but…I finished my 14-day diet in 3 hours and 20 minutes.”
  5. A recent study has found that women who carry a little extra weight live longer than men who mention it.
  6. Kids today don’t know how easy they have it.
    “When I was young, I had to walk 12 feet through shag carpet to change the TV channel.”
  7. “Senility has been a smooth transition for me.”
  8. “Remember back when we were kids and every time it was below zero out they closed school? Me neither.”
  9. “I may not be that funny or athletic or good looking or smart or talented…uh, I forgot where I was going with this.”
  10. It’s great being over 70. Learn something new every day…and forget 5 other things.