“AM I NECESSARY?”

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By Larry Hayes, ActiveOver50

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Not a question you normally ask yourself when you’re young and healthy. But when you suffer a major jolt later in your life, the question may come up.

At age 86, legendary longevity expert Dr. Walter M. Bortz received a
tremendous jolt last year with the passing of his wife Ruth Anne after 62 years of marriage.

He received another jolt this year having undergone 8 hours of ablation surgery to repair an irregular heart beat (atrial fibrillation).

Introspectively, Dr. Bortz asks himself: “Am I still necessary?”

His answer? A resounding yes as he continues to teach at Santa Barbara City College, write a blog for the Huffington Post and work on his 9th book: “Aging Is Negotiable.”

Life does not stop but goes on for one of America’s most distinguished scientific experts on healthy aging.

I was asked a question by my CPA recently. “Why do you still publish ActiveOver50? You’ve been doing it for 12 years and you’re not getting rich or any younger.”

A fair question from those who look at life from a bottom line perspective. I ask myself at age 77: “What keeps me going?”

Crazy as it may sound but since my grad days at Syracuse University in 1970, I’m always wanted to be a publisher. Along the way, I worked as a newspaper reporter for the San Jose Mercury News, created and managed marketing programs worldwide for high tech companies and then launched my own marketing and advertising agency in 1983 at age 43.

Twenty-two years later at age 65, I launched ActiveOver50—my dream of becoming a publisher come true, even though it took 35 years to fulfill. The passion remains the same today as then—to provide useful, interesting information to help boomers and seniors enjoy a longer, healthier life.

The other day I met one of my neighbors, 83, taking his daily stroll.
Rain or shine, he walks around the block several times everyday.

“Your magazine helps me a lot. Thank you for the book.” He calls it a book. I call it my calling.

His comment made my day and reconfirms why I still work. It’s not about the money. It’s about the people I meet and help along the way.

Meeting people like Dr. Bortz and my neighbor inspire and keep me moving. Am I necessary? You bet. And life goes on.

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BADASS CODGERS

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by Christine Scioli

As a partner in a small, indie production company not in LA, I have some disdain for lackluster network programming that some might translate as profound jealousy for a steady paycheck. However, NBC’s Better Late Than Never is one of the funniest show’s I’ve ever seen. I watched the first episode twice, something I’ve never done before, even with my own “stuff”, but I was laughing so hard I was crying, which made my eye makeup run, and then I couldn’t see the screen.

Short story short, senior citizens William Shatner, Henry Winkler, Terry Bradshaw and George Forman (along with a young, male hottie to put everything in perspective), embark on an international adventure, the first offerings being in Asia.

Do note, I have just finished a documentary film on healthy aging, Who Wants to Live Forever, the Wisdom of Aging and it’s made me particularly sensitive to the realm of we aging folks.

Producing this film made me look at the codger oxymoron, and now an expert on such matters, I will call them every more, badass codgers or BC’s.

Shatner leads the pack and he’s a good 15 years older than Winkler – the other two, mere youngsters. At 85 Shatner is totally fawesome all the time.

In our doc, the actor Peter Coyote suggests that we all “age out” from a marketing standpoint. But this show suggests otherwise. With 8 million-plus viewers there’s an innate ability to sell a lot of cars, insurance and the like, hopefully not useless senior supplements the celebrity docs keep pushing (and another topic we tackle with aplomb).

Coyote is a lovely man, a pragmatic Buddhist priest and the author of two wildly entertaining memoirs. He is also a badass codger. I think he would make a great addition to this TV show, traveling with the troupe, contributing much to the mix.

The more I think about it, Better Late Than Never could recruit badass codgers by the dozens. My research on this subject has led me to realize that we are out there in the populous in every-growing numbers. It’s time for BC’s to unite and get things rolling in this world again!

Extraordinary Aging Experts

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Extraordinary Aging Experts
By: Christine Scioli

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As a partner in a small film and video production company, I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with exceptional scientists and physicians on many projects. Years ago Dr. Isaac Asimov astounded me with his ability to explain complicated theories in simple terms while narrating the documentary film Innovations, based on the book Man the Engineer by science writer L. Sprague de Camp. Working with Dr. Laura Esserman, Director of the UCSF Carol Franc Buck Breast Cancer Center on a video about ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), revealed a consummate level of compassion mixed with unswerving determination to win both the battle and the war.

In similar fashion, our recent documentary on healthy aging, Who Wants to Live Forever, the Wisdom of Aging, http://www.aginginc.com, introduced us to two stellar scientists from CPMC Research Institute/Sutter Health, Dr. Steve Cummings and Dr. Greg Tranah.

Though I am of the aging age (as are we all), it was a pretty innocuous article about a woman’s hip replacement who was my age that piqued my interest. So I got to thinking about what was going on in the aging world, and approached my production team and Greg Tranah with the idea for this film.

It will be two years next month that he and I began to communicate; shooting began in January 2015. The film is airing now on KQED/PBS World and on Amazon Direct Video in the US, UK, Japan and Germany.

They are a compelling duo in many regards, relaxed explaining various complex topics for the layperson to understand such as autophagy and circadian rhythms, while at the same time adding both humor and reflection in their commentary. One of the various topics we explore is that of staying mentally engaged as we age and Steve shouts that by example, as he is, numerically speaking, of the senior set.

Our film covers many facets in the field of aging – economic, political, social and philosophical, along with the medical side of things. Time and time again since its release, we have received kudos for the exceptional scientific research we have presented.

Our sincere thanks to Steve and Greg and Dr. Peggy Cawthon at CPMC, along with the phenomenal team at the Buck Center for Research in Aging for making us look so good.

POKEMON, NO!

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by Christine Scioli

Creating documentary films and videos demand keen observations skills. It’s enormous fun. Right now my focus is on aging and on cocktails – two very different projects but the same modus operandi.

Taking four different modes of transportation to get from Marin County, CA to Catalina Island this past week gave me an abundance of fodder to follow. On the airport shuttle I noticed that most of the senior set (including me when I wasn’t watching them), were looking out the supersized windows, enjoying still another grand view of this majestic place we live. Most of the younger folks were taking selfies with the vistas barely in focus, however, it seemed really important for them to chronicle the ride, not so much the scenery.

On the flight to Long Beach a very pretty young woman was sitting in front of us. There was an empty seat between her and a nice looking older guy in a shirt and tie, very intently working on dissecting a legal pleading of some sort. She interrupted him and asked if he would take her picture and closed the shade to nix the light outside in anticipation of the shot. She then shook her long, long hair and extensions for several minutes. Some of her hair plopped over her chair into my husband’s Louis Mondeville cabernet on his tray table, which had him, understandably, a little miffed. She looked at the shot and didn’t like it. She then asked him if he would try again. His face was deadpan and at that point I presumed him a trial attorney. One more try then that was it for him. Meanwhile, she APB’d that pic across cyberspace until her fingers cramped up.

Nothing of note happened on the taxi ride except a quick recall of the diverse profusion that is known as Los Angeles County.

Meanwhile, at the magnificent Long Beach harbor and ferry terminal a weird phenomenon was occurring. While so many of us older tourists were abuzz with the grandeur of the Queen Mary and other cruise ships, the unique city skyline, the lighthouse – right in front of the aquarium a very large gathering of young folks, I’d say 30 and under, were glued to their cell phones, never looking up for a moment. Not once. Some danged near walked into each other, not to mention the water. My own cell phone wasn’t reporting still another disaster somewhere in the world, so concerned, I asked one young man what was up. Eyes still down, he told me this was a very important Pokémon Go check-in point or something to that effect. (Do understand, I have no quarrel against this game, I own a little NTDOY and appreciate the profit, I just don’t get the AR Zen.)

The ferry ride was 26 miles of rolling sea bliss, though most of the younger folks went inside pretty quickly after a few rounds of selfies; two came out later to barf in the head.

Once on the island, a young couple asked hubs to take their picture in front of the “Welcome to Avalon” sign. Being the knowing director he is, he tried to explain the shot was backlit but they weren’t buying it.

I know I’ve done a bit of younger set bashing in my words here and I don’t mean to be a braggart. I really don’t presume to say we fifty and older citizens of the universe are better. I just suggest we have more life experience under our belts, less attacks of digital distraction, obsession and dementia and more of cognitive creativity.

SENIORS ROCK AGING

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by Christine Scioli

With absolutely no thought to the documentary film I was producing on healthy aging, I recently went to see a Hollywood Vampires concert. Senior citizen Alice Cooper went all out from the first note. Guitar icon and senior citizen Joe Perry, who had just passed out at a concert a few days earlier, left that situation far behind as he dazzled with song after song honoring the music of rock stars who died from excess in the 70’s. Youngster Johnny Depp had not a pang of a nasty divorce aura as he valiantly kept up with his mentors while his guitars did anything but gently weep.

I got to thinking about all this aging stuff I had been researching; all the experts and authors I talked to in so many areas – scientific, spiritual, social, economic – for over a year.

And I drew still another significant conclusion. Drum roll. It’s great to have choices as we age.

Some seniors happily retire, travel and play bocce.

Some seniors happily travel and entertain as rock stars.

Some seniors like me travel and produce shows viewers can enjoy.

Attitude rules in the world of healthy aging.

Documentary films can’t fake it

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By Christine Scioli

Yesterday I read an article in a non-scripted industry newsletter, wherein the news editor lamented long and hard about how difficult it is to make a buck as a documentary filmmaker. She pondered if docs are so hot right now, why is the money not?

It seems to me that in all sorts of creative endeavors by filmmakers, musicians, authors, artists, etc., in the never-ending recession that political pundits say no longer exists, the clash between commerce and art is at an all time high. However, the ability to publish what you produce is also seemingly limitless with acronym heavy worlds of VOD, OTT, IPTV, PVV and surely more on the way.

I live and work in the San Francisco Bay area, where tech and startups abound but creativity doesn’t necessarily follow suit. A great deal of time is spent looking just like the competition on company websites and social media portals, so the new guy can appear to be on equal footing with the slightly older gal, and mind blowing company videos consist of a bunch of words jumping on to a white screen and/or hand drawn animation that isn’t.

Documentary films can’t fake it, and originality in delivering a message – a passion project, working with what budget you can afford – is why this world is so imperative at this screwy time in history.

In my small family business, sweat equity can get a little musty sometimes, but a quick shower refreshes just fine. Our next show will air on PBS World in the fall and hopefully exposing a few scams in the world of aging.inc will be worth the journey.

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