Hot Topics: Alec Baldwin and Smartphone Obsession
30 Rock star Alec Baldwin apparently is the latest middle-aged celebrity to struggle with addiction -- not to booze, pills or sex, but to a game on his smartphone.
The 53-year-old actor was kicked off an American Airlines flight about to depart from Los Angeles this week, when he apparently didn't turn off his electronic device despite an admonition from a flight attendant, as this MSNBC report recounts.
An NBC spokesperson tried to put a playful spin on the incident -- "Alec is so in love with Words With Friends that he would risk getting thrown off a flight to play" -- but Baldwin himself was considerably less amused. In a piece at the Huffington Post, he apologizes for any inconvenience to the other passengers, but insists that he only had been using his device -- a phone, not an iPad, as described in initial coverage -- while the plane was sitting delayed at the gate.
In Baldwin's version of events, he was unfairly singled out for harassment by an attendant -- whom he derided as a "1950s gym teacher" -- and others who "made flying into a Greyhound bus experience." American Airlines officials, in response, insist that Baldwin is the one who behaved badly, telling CBS News that the star locked himself in the lavatory with his phone after getting into a vociferous tiff with the attendant.
To lend some perspective to the coverage, Entertainment Weekly offers this detailed compendium of celebrity airline brouhahas, including the infamous incident in which Green Day vocalist Billie Joe Armstrong (who turns 40 in February) reportedly was booted from a Southwest Airlines flight because his trousers were too droopy.
In other news for forty- and fifty-somethings that's stirring a buzz around the web:
Biggest Loser Contestants Slim Down Astonishingly: This season, NBC's hit series The Biggest Loser provides proof that it is indeed possible to conquer the middle-aged spread. Antone, a 44-year-old former professional football player and restaurant manager from Knoxville, Tenn., has dropped from a starting weight of 447 pounds to 293 so far. John, a 40-year-old teacher from Mesa, Ariz., has slimmed down from 445 pounds to 267.
More Boomers Embrace the Ministry: Time magazine reports that second-act baby boomers now make up 20 percent of the students at U.S. seminaries, up from 12 percent a few years ago. Here's a February 2011 SecondAct profile of former newspaper journalist-turned-clergyman Jim Davidson, who exemplifies the trend.
Karaoke Cure: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-AZ, who narrowly survived being shot in the head in January, has been utilizing music therapy -- including singing the old Don McLean classic "American Pie" repeatedly -- to help regain her ability to speak and other functions. Here's a Discovery News article on her efforts. Now, a therapist has designed Singfit, a free iPhone and iPad app based on the same concept, to help others trying to overcome traumatic brain injuries and strokes, or slow the ravages of Alzheimer's Disease. The app provides users with an eclectic assortment of sing-along selections, ranging from Foghat's "Slow Ride" to Bob Marley and the Wailers' "Buffalo Soldier."
Being President Isn't As Tough As You Might Think: A just-released study shows that most U.S. presidents actually live longer than most American men their age, putting the lie to the popular myth that that gravitas of the Oval Office takes a toll on the health of its occupants, as this New York Times article explains. Since Herbert Hoover was elected in 1928, presidents have lived 81.6 years on average. Two recent presidents, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford, lived into their early nineties.
The 12 Best Things About Being an Empty Nester: The website 12most.com provides this list to reassure us that having the kids leave home for good is more sweet than bittersweet. "Your bathroom towels will stay neatly hung on their bars," we're reminded, and we'll be able to enjoy some peace and quiet without the continuous pinging and beeping of chat apps on smartphones and other electronic gadgets. That is, unless they're our gadgets.
Boomers Fuel Boom in Early Joint Replacement: This New York Daily News article reports that boomers, who now receive 40 percent of the knee and hip replacement surgeries performed in the U.S., are opting for new joints at earlier ages so they can continue their athletic passions. While surgeons are concerned that intense exercise may push the prosthetic devices beyond their capabilities, one recipient of a new artificial knee -- tennis great Billie Jean King -- gushes that "I feel like I'm 20 again."
Last Word: "When you're loving somebody, baby, you're taking a gamble against some sorrow. But who knows, baby, we may not be here tomorrow." -- from the song "Get It While You Can," written by the late record producer Jerry Ragovoy and performed by legendary 1960s-1970s blues singer Howard Tate, who died Dec. 2 at 72
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