News, Culture, Sights and Sounds

Steve Mencher writes about culture, politics, the news and other subjects for AARP. He's also a jazz musician with the Willis Gidney Quintet. He has worked for Carnegie Hall, NPR and the Library of Congress as an audio, video and multimedia producer.

Give Yourself the Gift of Time: Unsubscribe

Do you return to work from holidays and vacations to find dozens or hundreds of emails? I do, but I’m doing something about it: I’m unsubscribing from any email I don’t actually want or need. I figure once I’m done, I’ll have about 10 minutes a day back — about an hour a week for self-improvement or daydreaming. A few years ago, I was ready to give up on email altogether. Spammers made it nearly impossible to find the messages that …

‘Serial’: Still Time to Catch Up on This Audio Whodunit

Baltimore. 1999. A girl is murdered and her body buried in a shallow grave in a city park. Her former boyfriend is convicted of the crime based on the testimony of his classmate and friend. A reporter, plagued by questions, revisits the case. There are two things you should know about the story: 1. It really happened. 2. Serial, a weekly podcast – or audio series – based on the story might well mark a breakthrough for the 10-year-old medium that you listen …

11 Things We Didn’t Know Last Week

News, discoveries and … fun 1. Ants can eat the equivalent of 60,000 hot dogs a year. (Learn more at Washington Post) 2. You can buy Girl Scout cookies online. (Learn more at Huffington Post) 3. Diabetes can age your memory five years. (Learn more at AARP) >> 2015 Technology Gear Guide 4. Prince Harry has stage fright. (Learn more at Mashable) 5. A senior living in an RV might pack your Amazon gift shipment. (Learn more at Mashable) 6. German bosses are forbidden from interrupting an employee’s …

This Week in Boomer History: ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ … Rosa Parks

Notable events from our shared experience Rockabilly guitarist and singer Carl Perkins (“Blue Suede Shoes”) is at Sun Studios in Memphis on Dec. 4, 1956, to record with pianist Jerry Lee Lewis (“Great Balls of Fire”). When Elvis Presley (at left) and Johnny Cash drop in, the four musicians — the “Million Dollar Quartet,” a Memphis paper dubs them — start a jam session for the ages. Recordings of 46 (mostly incomplete) songs from the session don’t begin to appear until …

11 Things We Didn’t Know Last Week

News, discoveries and … fun 1. A flycatcher first glimpsed in 1997 and then collected in 2012 has been confirmed as a new bird species. (Learn more at Futurity) 2. Remarriage is on the rise for Americans ages 55 and older. (Learn more at Pew Research Center) >> Ageless Hollywood Celebs — No Way They’re 70-Plus! 3. A British man lived with a tapeworm moving around in his brain for four years. (Learn more at Mashable) 4. A spoon developed …

This Week in Boomer History: ‘Thriller’ … Iran-Contra

Notable events from our shared experience Atari releases Pong, the first commercially successful video game, on Nov. 29, 1972. Crude by today’s standards, the virtual table tennis game launches an industry — one with annual revenue forecast to pass $100 billion in 2018.   After takeoff of Northwest Orient Flight 305 from Portland, Ore., to Seattle on Nov. 24, 1971, a man claiming to have a bomb demands a $200,000 ransom and four parachutes. The plane picks up the loot in …