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.

This Week in Boomer History: ‘Sesame Street’ … ‘Catch-22’

Notable events from our shared experience Published Nov. 10, 1961, Joseph Heller’s antiwar novel Catch-22 over the years spawns a catchphrase for paradoxical futility. Alan Arkin, Martin Balsam, Richard Benjamin and Art Garfunkel star in a 1970 movie version. Carl Stokes becomes the first black mayor of a major American city when he takes the reins in Cleveland on Nov. 13, 1967. After two terms, he becomes New York City’s first African American TV news anchorman in 1972. >> 10 Essential Boomer Books On Nov. 10, …

11 Things We Didn’t Know Last Week

News, discoveries and … fun 1. For $50,000, the Dallas Zoo will sell you naming rights for a baby giraffe. (Learn more at CBS DFW) 2. More than $2 billion in lottery prizes went unclaimed in 2013. (Learn more at Yahoo! Finance) 3. Some male hummingbirds use their sharp, curved beaks to stab rivals’ throats. (Learn more at University of Connecticut) >>  Best Small Towns in America 4. Carlos Santana became a guitarist because his first instrument, the violin, sounded like an “alley …

This Week in Boomer History: Iran Hostages … Berlin Wall Falls

Notable events from our shared experience Democrat Bill Clinton is elected the 42nd president — and first boomer president — of the United States on Nov. 3, 1992. Republican George W. Bush becomes the second boomer president in an election held Nov. 7, 2000, and settled by the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 12. Young Islamic revolutionaries overrun the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on Nov. 4, 1979, and take 63 Americans hostage; soon, three others at the Iranian Foreign Ministry …

11 Things We Didn’t Know Last Week

News, discoveries and … fun 1. Making candy corn used to be back-breaking work. (Learn more at Slate) 2. Kanzi, a 33-year-old ape, can build a fire and roast marshmallows. (Learn more at GrindTV.com) >> Famous Child Stars — Where Are They Now? 3. Gladiators in the 2nd century consumed an “energy drink” of vinegar and ash. (Learn more at Discovery) 4. The coating on cash register receipts causes serious health problems. (Learn more at AARP)   5. Nearly 1 in …

This Week in Boomer History: Rumble in the Jungle … ‘Car Talk’

Notable events from our shared experience In a daring heist, thieves steal 24 valuable gems — including the golf ball-size sapphire Star of India — from the American Museum of Natural History in New York on Oct. 29, 1964. Authorities quickly arrest the burglars, including the colorful Jack “Murf the Surf” Murphy. Ultimately, 10 of the stones are recovered, and three, including the Star of India, are among AMNH’s most popular exhibits today. After 10 years on the air in …

11 Things We Didn’t Know Last Week

News, discoveries and … fun 1. Two armored fish had the first sex 385 million years ago. (Learn more at Discovery) 2. Zombie-proof cabins come with a 10-year guarantee. (Learn more at C|Net) 3. Even people from Pittsburgh agree their accent may be the “worst” in the nation. (Learn more at Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) 4. Soda might age you as much as smoking. (Learn more at Time) Enter for a chance to win up to $10,000 to help make your dreams …