Dave Barry Turns 50

( 5 )

Overview

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist comes a celebration of the aging process. Not just Dave's, but that of the whole Baby Boom Generation—those millions of us who set a standard for whining self-absorption that will never be equaled, and who gave birth to such stunning accomplishments as Saturday Night Live!, the New Age movement, and call waiting. Here Dave pinpoints the glaring signs that you've passed the half-century mark:

- You are suddenly unable to read anything ...

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Dave Barry Turns Fifty

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Overview

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist comes a celebration of the aging process. Not just Dave's, but that of the whole Baby Boom Generation—those millions of us who set a standard for whining self-absorption that will never be equaled, and who gave birth to such stunning accomplishments as Saturday Night Live!, the New Age movement, and call waiting. Here Dave pinpoints the glaring signs that you've passed the half-century mark:

- You are suddenly unable to read anything written in letters smaller than Marlon Brando.
- You have accepted the fact that you can't possibly be hip. You don't even know if "hip" is the right word for hip anymore, and you don't care.
- You remember nuclear-attack drills at school wherein you practiced protecting yourself by crouching under your desk, which was apparently made out of some kind of atomic-bomb-proof wood.
- You can't name the secretary of defense, but you can still sing the Mister Clean song.

So pop open a can of Geritol®, kick back in that recliner, grab those reading glasses, and let the good times roll—before they roll right over you!

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Dave Barry Turns 50 is a book about the really important moments and people in American history — about Kennedy and Woodstock and the invention of Silly Putty; about the Cuban Missile Crisis and Jimi Hendrix and the television debut of "Captain Kangaroo." It's about the good old days, and about how living through them leaves one ill-equipped to survive in the harsh, un-'60s-and-'70s-like world of today. In short, it's about being a baby boomer and getting old.

Dave Barry brings his unique perspective to the above topics, as well as a host of others, as he looks back over his (now very long) life and waxes lyrical and absurd about the very best parts. Or at least the parts he can remember. He begins, after a gratuitously silly introduction, with "The Early History of the Boomers." All you Dave Barry fans out there know what his writing is like, but here's a little sample, just for kicks:

The History of the Baby Boom generation is really the history of the entire species; for if we are to truly understand the Boomers, we must view them not as an isolated phenomenon, but as a result of all that went before them. And thus we must begin our story by travelling back in time millions of years, to the moment when the very first human being appeared on earth. After that a whole bunch of stuff happened, which leads us to...

1947. This is the historic year when the first Boomers were born. The reason there were so many of us was that our parents' generation, having endured the misery of the Depression and the horror of the war years, evidently spent most of 1946 inthesack. At the time, they thought they were merely starting families, as humans had done for eons; they had no way of knowing that they were creating a unique, historic generation. If they had known, probably a lot more of them would have opted to join celibate religious orders. But by the time they realized what they had let loose on the world, it was too late.

Dave Barry Turns 50 is wacky and hilarious — even by Dave Barry standards. In fact, it's one of his best books. This makes perfect sense if we look at his oeuvre (no, I don't hesitate to refer to it as such); though he's never written an unfunny book, he's always truly at the top of his game when writing about something he's obsessed with. Three of his earlier, and best, books are good examples of this. Dave Barry's Guide to Marriage and/or Sex, Dave Barry's Homes and Other Black Holes, and Babies and Other Hazards of Sex are all fraught with genuine mania; his marriage, house, and children, respectively, each really were the focus of his life when those books were written, and it showed.

And there's nothing that he's more obsessed with than aging. Reaching an age that he used to consider old ("Not middle-aged, like Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore in 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'; but actually old, like Walter Brennan as Grandpappy Amos in 'The Real McCoys.'") has inspired him to produce his best material since, well, since Dave Barry Turns 40. One can only imagine what will happen when he really does start getting up there. Dave Barry Turns 100 is a book I would love to see.

From the Publisher
"QUOTING BARRY IS LIKE EATING PEANUTS. . . . ONCE YOU GET STARTED IT'S AWFULLY HARD TO STOP."—The Washington Post

"RIOTOUS . . . [Barry] can find the humor in pretty much anything. And . . . he does not intend to go even slightly gently into that good night."
—San Francisco Examiner

Lance Gould
. . .[F]or a humor bookthere are not enough laughs. Flashes of Barry's wit occasionally surface. . . —New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Pulitzer prize-winning columnist Barry claims, "Many bad things happen when you turn 50. You can't see; you can't hear; you can read the entire Oxford English Dictionary in the time it takes you to go to the bathroom; and you keep meeting people your own age who look like Grandpa Walton." Even so, in this follow-up to his bestselling Dave Barry Turns 40, he decided not to dwell "on the negative aspects of turning 50" and instead offers a "celebration of the aging process" by examining significant baby-boomer accomplishments ("The New Age movement! Call waiting!"). Barry begins with boomer origins in the late 1940s, a time when record players "were closer in design and sound quality to washing machines." Each subsequent decade gets a full chapter as Barry waxes nostalgic while shuffling down pathways of the past to examine an assortment of arcane artifacts and "actual facts," largely gleaned from Rita Lang Kleinfelder's 750-page When We Were Young: A Baby-Boomer Yearbook. Barry ends each chapter with "Discussion Questions" ("Did you inhale? Explain."), and maintains mirth right to the closing pages (retirement plans, death options). However, it's the look back at TV commercials, politics, inventions and attitudes that really makes those who have seen it all (much of "it" through trifocals) chortle out loud. It's not unlike an archeological dig through an attic, choking from laughter rather than dust, as familiar and forgotten memories are refreshed and taken for a satirical synaptic spin by a master humorist. 13-city birthday tour. (Oct.) FYI: Appropriately enough, this title is also available as a Random House audio ($18 ISBN 0-375-40428-7) and in a large-print edition ($22 ISBN 0-375-70418-3)
Library Journal
Dave Barry Turns 40 hit the number two spot on the New York Times Bestseller list, so who knows what will happen with this account of Barry's reaching the Big Five-Oh.
Library Journal
Dave Barry Turns 40 hit the number two spot on the New York Times Bestseller list, so who knows what will happen with this account of Barry's reaching the Big Five-Oh.
Lance Gould
. . .[F]or a humor book, there are not enough laughs. Flashes of Barry's wit occasionally surface. . . -- New York Times Book Review
Thomas Fields-Meyer
. . .[M]aterial you might hear from a Las Vegas comic on a bad night. At his age, Barry ought to know better. -- People Magazine
Kirkus Reviews
It had to happen. Old Mister Barry (Dave Barry Is from Mars and Venus ; Dave Barry in Cyberspace), like many another humorist, has advanced in years and lived to tell about it. Baby Boomer comics are reaching the half-century mark in droves. It generally turns them solipsistic as well as silly, as they harken to toots, creaks, squeaks, and other sounds of creeping senescence. Barry reports on his physical condition, too, and why not? But he also has another idea. A good part of his current effort presents a cultural history of the formative Boomer times and his part in them, starting with 1947 and going through 1974, when, it appears, the author gets tired of the exercise. If it's not quite Mark Sullivan's memorable six-volume Our Times covering the century's early decades, the survey is, indeed, our times (or Barry's times, anyway). And pretty foolish they seem, too, as Barry's time capsule recalls popular music, consumer products, TV shows, advertising, and, of course, the ever-looming threat of Godless communism and the scary Sputnik. Nixon, Johnson, Kissinger are recalled with pleasant contempt. Fearlessly, the author names names; and almost always the name is the late Buffalo Bob, so things weren't all bad. There was, after all, 'streaking,' and Barry would like to see the fad of naked sprinting brought back, although in the case of Boomers, 'there should definitely be a weight limitation.' In addition to the nostalgia, Dave presents obligatory lists (number 14 in '25 Things I Have Learned in 50 Years': 'Nobody is normal'), review questions, and footnotes (all citing 'Buffalo Bob'). And nowhere is the word 'prostate' found—except on the cover. Barry'seven longer in the tooth than he was when he wrote Dave Barry Turns 40; despite his protestations of dotage, he is still clever enough to be his old funny self. There will probably be more laughs before Dave Barry Turns 60.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345431691
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/28/1999
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 188,311
  • Product dimensions: 5.58 (w) x 8.23 (h) x 0.46 (d)

Meet the Author

Dave Barry is a Pulitzer prize-winning columnist and the best-selling author of Dave Barry Is from Mars and Venus, Dave Barry in Cyberspace, Dave Barry's Guide to Guys, and other books. He lives in Miami, Florida, of course.

Biography

In the introduction to Dave Barry Is Not Taking This Sitting Down, the author addresses the desirability of his job as a humor writer and syndicated columnist. "It looks so easy!" he wrote. "...Every year, hundreds of thousands of people try their hand at this demanding profession. After a few months, almost all of them have given up and gone back to the ninth grade."

Yes, Barry is juvenile at times -- but he has achieved the kind of success that can only come from combining a juvenile mind with intelligence, timing, and a keen eye for the absurd. Favorite Barry targets include government inanity, dogs, guys, the Internet, and other oddities of life. He also specializes in weird news and urban myths involving UFO hunters, Pop-Tart science, and toilets. Many of these essays feature the line that has become his catchphrase, "I am not making this up." (Unless, of course, he is introducing something serious and daunting such as a book about the federal government, in which case he reassures that he has made everything up.)

Usually, though, he's not making it up. What he's doing is making it very funny. Whether the target is Congress or commercials, Barry refuses to take anything seriously, least of all himself – but he manages to convey some pretty indicting truths in the process. He's a master of irony and visual punchlines, sometimes interrupting himself with lists, snippets of dialogue, or other on-topic digressions. On the subject of turning 50 and dealing with waning eyesight (a "good thing" about aging, because "you can't read anything"), Barry describes finding restaurant menus suddenly printed "in letters the height of bacteria." He continues: "For some reason, everybody else seemed to be able to read the menus. Not wishing to draw attention to myself, I started ordering my food by simply pointing to a likely looking blur.

ME (pointing to a blur): I'll have this.
WAITER: You'll have "We Do Not Accept Personal Checks"?
ME: Make that medium rare."

Barry has had the most successful and prolific publishing career of any working newspaper columnist, and his humor never seems to go out of style. In 1999, he decided to try his hand at fiction. The result was Big Trouble, a comic thriller à la Carl Hiassen (though filled more with gags than guns) that Entertainment Weekly proclaimed "... not only very funny, [but] sure-footed, even-handed, levelheaded, and other leading book review adjectives." In 2004, he and Ridley Pearson collaborated on Peter and the Starcatchers, a clever prequel to Peter Pan that spawned two additional novels and a series of spin-off children's chapter books.

Along with several other published authors, Barry is a member of the musical group Rock Bottom Remainders. In assessing the band's talents, he has been quoted as saying: "They are not musically skilled, but they are extremely loud."

Good To Know

The Rock Bottom Remainders was originally organized by a publicist to perform at the 1992 American Booksellers Association convention. The members -- which include (or have included) Barry, Stephen King, Amy Tan, Ridley Pearson, Barbara Kingsolver, Mitch Albom, and Matt Groening -- even took their show on the road at one point, turning it into the now out-of-print Mid-Life Confidential: The Rock Bottom Remainders Tour America with Three Chords and an Attitude.

Some things never change: Barry was elected class clown by his Pleasantville High School class in 1965.

Barry got his start in journalism at the Daily Local News in West Chester, Pennsylvania, then worked as a business writing consultant before joining the Miami Herald in 1983.

Attempts to convert Barry's humor to the screen have been less than memorable. The early '90s CBS sitcom based on two of his books and starring Harry Anderson, Dave's World, was short-lived; the spring 2002 release Big Trouble, starring Tim Allen, didn't fare well at the box office. Barry did, however, get a cameo in the latter.

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    1. Hometown:
      Miami, Florida
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 3, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      Armonk, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A. in English, Haverford College, 1969
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Introduction


It's Great to Be 50!
Right. And Herbert Hoover was a rap singer.


I am NOT going to whine.

Yes, I have turned 50.

Yes, this is an age that I used to consider old. Not middle-aged, like Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore in The Dick Van Dyke Show; but actually old, like Walter Brennan as Granpappy Amos in The Real McCoys, gimping around cluelessly in a pair of bib overalls and saying things like "Con-SARN it!"

But I do not choose to dwell on the negative. I choose to be an optimist, like the great explorer Christopher Columbus, who had a dream that he could sail a ship all the way across the Atlantic Ocean. People said he was crazy, but Columbus did not know the meaning of the word "discouragement." He also did not know the meaning of "nostril" or "weasel," because he spoke Italian.

And so Columbus boldly set out and discovered the New World, and then he went back to Europe, where he died in obscurity at age 55, which is only five years older than I am right now! OH GOD! MY LIFE IS OVER!!!

No, scratch that. I really am going to be positive in this book, instead of dwelling on the negative aspects of turning 50, such as that you get wrinkled and forgetful and achy, and you gain weight merely by watching food commercials, and the warranties are expiring on all your remaining teeth and internal organs, and your idea of a big night is to stay up late enough to see the previews for Letterman, whose actual show you have not watched since the Reagan administration.

I am not going to dwell on those things, nor am I going to mention the fact that when you get to this age, you discover random hairs sprouting from unexpected sectors of your body, so that, in addition to all the other little maintenance tasks you've always performed each day, you find yourself asking questions like: Did I remember to pluck my ears?

And I am not going to even mention the word "prostate."

Instead, I'm going to talk about the good things that happen to you when you turn 50, such as . . .

Okay, give me a minute here . . .

All right, here's one: You can't read anything. At least I can't. Actually, this started happening to me when I was 48; I started noticing that when I tried to read restaurant menus, they looked like this:


Entrees
Broasted free-range fennel shootlets with modules of prawns -- $19
Pecan-encrusted apricot-glazed garlic-enhanced shank of frog -- $27
Liver "en Fester" dans une bunche de creme de corne -- $21

At first I thought that this had nothing to do with me--that, for some reason, possibly to save ink, the restaurants had started printing their menus in letters the height of bacteria; all I could see was little blurs. But for some reason, everybody else seemed to be able to read the menus. Not wishing to draw attention to myself, I started ordering my food by simply pointing to a likely looking blur.

ME pointing to a blur: I'll have this.
WAITER: You'll have "We Do Not Accept Personal Checks"?
ME: Make that medium rare.

Pretty soon I started noticing that everything I tried to read--newspapers, books, nasal-spray instructions, the United States Constitution--had been changed to the bacteria-letter format. I also discovered that, contrary to common sense, I could read these letters if I got farther away from them. So for a while I dealt with the situation by ordering off the menus of people sitting at other tables.

"I'd like to order some dessert," I'd tell the waiter. "Please bring a menu to the people at that table over there and ask them to hold it up so I can see it."

Eventually I had to break down and buy those reading glasses that are cut low so you can peer over the top. The first time you put on a pair of those is a major milestone in your life. Because there is no question about it: This is the start of your Senior Citizenship. The transformation is comparable to the one Clark Kent goes through: He takes off his glasses and becomes Superman; you put on your reading glasses and become . . . Old Person.

You find that with your reading glasses on you behave differently. You become crotchety and easily irritated by little things, such as when the supermarket runs out of your preferred brand of low-fat, low-sodium, vitamin-fortified, calcium-enriched, high-fiber, non-meat "breakfast links" made from tofu and compressed cardboard. You become angry at the radio because it keeps playing songs you hate, which is a LOT of songs, because you basically hate every song written since the Beatles broke up, and you're sick of the Beatles, too, because you've heard every one of their songs 900 million times on "oldies" radio, which is all you've listened to for over twenty years. You feel that everybody except you drives too fast. You think of people under the age of 30 as "whippersnappers," and you get the urge to peer over your glasses at them and tell them how tough things were during the Great Depression, even though you personally were born in 1947. Sometimes you are tempted to say, "Con-SARN it!"

So, to avoid transforming into Old Person, you tend to wear your reading glasses as little as possible. You lose them. You go out without them. The result is, much of the time, you can't read anything printed in letters smaller than Marlon Brando.

But what I've discovered-this is the positive aspect of aging that I've been driving at-is that very often not being able to read is a good thing. For example, without my reading glasses, the only part of the newspaper I can read is the headlines, so my front page looks like this:


FIGHTING ERUPTS YET AGAIN IN MIDDLE EAST
Historic Peace Accord No. 2,965,978 Goes Down the Crapper
This doesn't say anything. This is just a bunch of words I wrote here to make it look like there's a story under the headline. If you have gone to the trouble of blowing this up so that you can read it, let me just say: Congratulations, you have even more spare time than I do, which is saying a LOT.
But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by
This doesn't say anything. This is just a bunch of words I wrote here to make it look like there's a story under the headline. If you have gone to the trouble of blowing this up so that you can read it, let me just say: Congratulations, you have even more spare time than I do, which is saying a LOT.
But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by
This doesn't say anything. This is just a bunch of words I wrote here to make it look like there's a story under the headline. If you have gone to the trouble of blowing this up so that you can read it, let me just say: Congratulations, you have even more spare time than I do, which is saying a LOT.
But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by


SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM COLLAPSING
You, Personally, Will Never Get a Cent HAHAHAHAHAHA
This doesn't say anything. This is just a bunch of words I wrote here to make it look like there's a story under the headline. If you have gone to the trouble of blowing this up so that you can read it, let me just say: Congratulations, you have even more spare time than I do, which is saying a LOT.
But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by
This doesn't say anything. This is just a bunch of words I wrote here to make it look like there's a story under the headline. If you have gone to the trouble of blowing this up so that you can read it, let me just say: Congratulations, you have even more spare time than I do, which is saying a LOT.
But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by
This doesn't say anything. This is just a bunch of words I wrote here to make it look like there's a story under the headline. If you have gone to the trouble of blowing this up so that you can read it, let me just say: Congratulations, you have even more spare time than I do, which is saying a LOT.
But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by


STUDY: EGGPLANT CAUSES CANCER
Same Study Also Shows That Lack of Eggplant Causes Cancer
This doesn't say anything. This is just a bunch of words I wrote here to make it look like there's a story under the headline. If you have gone to the trouble of blowing this up so that you can read it, let me just say: Congratulations, you have even more spare time than I do, which is saying a LOT.
But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by
This doesn't say anything. This is just a bunch of words I wrote here to make it look like there's a story under the headline. If you have gone to the trouble of blowing this up so that you can read it, let me just say: Congratulations, you have even more spare time than I do, which is saying a LOT.
But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by
This doesn't say anything. This is just a bunch of words I wrote here to make it look like there's a story under the headline. If you have gone to the trouble of blowing this up so that you can read it, let me just say: Congratulations, you have even more spare time than I do, which is saying a LOT.
But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by


GIANT ASTEROID WILL SMASH EARTH TODAY; HUMAN RACE DOOMED
Professional Baseball Players Strike for Higher Salaries
This doesn't say anything. This is just a bunch of words I wrote here to make it look like there's a story under the headline. If you have gone to the trouble of blowing this up so that you can read it, let me just say: Congratulations, you have even more spare time than I do, which is saying a LOT.
But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by
This doesn't say anything. This is just a bunch of words I wrote here to make it look like there's a story under the headline. If you have gone to the trouble of blowing this up so that you can read it, let me just say: Congratulations, you have even more spare time than I do, which is saying a LOT.
But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by
This doesn't say anything. This is just a bunch of words I wrote here to make it look like there's a story under the headline. If you have gone to the trouble of blowing this up so that you can read it, let me just say: Congratulations, you have even more spare time than I do, which is saying a LOT.
But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by


See what I mean? I don't want to read those stories. I'm glad they're written in bacteria letters. This is also how I feel about the long, scary Consumer Advisories that appear on virtually every product I buy, advising me how potentially deadly it is, like this:


WARNING: Use of this product may cause nausea, insomnia, euphoria, déjà vu, menopause, tax audits, demonic possession, lung flukes, eyeball worms, decapitation, and mudslides. We would not even dare to sell this product if we did not have a huge, carnivorous legal department that could squash you in court like a baby mouse under a sledgehammer. We frankly cannot believe that you were so stupid as to purchase this product. Your only hope is to set this product down very gently, back slowly away from it, then turn and sprint from your home, never to return.


Back when I could read without reading glasses, I would glance at this information, and it made me nervous. But now, thanks to old age, it looks like this:


WARNING: Here we go again: But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by This doesn't say anything. This is just a bunch of words I wrote here to make it look like there's a story under the headline. If you have gone to the trouble of blowing this up so that you can read it, let me just say: Congratulations, you have even more spare time than I do, which is saying a LOT.
But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by This doesn't say anything. This is just a bunch of words I wrote here to make it look like there's a story under the headline. If you have gone to the trouble of blowing this up so that you can read it, let me just say: Congratulations, you have even more spare time than I do, which is saying a LOT.


So I can just cheerfully discard the Consumer Advisory and swallow the product. Granted, this is sometimes a poor decision, such as when the product is liquid drain opener. But I feel the trade-off is worth it.

I am also much more comfortable these days with products that come in boxes marked "Ready to Assemble." As you consumers know, "Ready to Assemble" is shorthand for "Contains the Same Number of Parts as a Nuclear Aircraft Carrier." These products used to intimidate me, because the instructions usually consist of hundreds of steps like this:


STEP ONE. Here we go again: But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here,unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by
STEP TWO. Here we go again: But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by
STEP THREE. Here we go again: But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by
STEP FOUR.Here we go again: But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by
GO BACK TO STEP ONE. Here we go again: But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by


But these days I just toss the instructions aside and start assembling the product. And you know what? I've found that, using nothing but my common sense and natural mechanical ability, I actually finish the assembly process faster than before! Granted, most of the time the products don't work. But they rarely worked even when I could read the instructions, so I figure I'm ahead.

And the inability to read is not the only good thing about turning 50. There's also the fact that you've reached the point in life where you accept the fact that you cannot possibly be hip.

Actually, I don't even know whether "hip" is the word for hip anymore. And I don't have to care! That's the point! Even if I knew how to talk hip, or dress hip, or listen to hip music-even if I knew everything about what currently, at this particular nanosecond in our culture constitutes hipness-I am still, on account of my age, automatically disqualified. What a relief! I'm over the Hipness Hump!

I can remember when I wasn't. There was a brief period, during my college years, when as far as I can tell, I actually was kind of hip, as measured by the standards of The Sixties. Then I went through a long, murky phase--from my 20s through my 40s--when my hipness was steadily draining away, but I would still feel a nagging obligation to participate in trends. The problem was that, as an aging person, I was no longer capable of distinguishing between the trends that were in fact hip and the ones that were just stupid.

For example, do you remember the period--I think it was during the Seventies--when some guys would turn up the collars on their sports jackets? The first time I saw this look-it was on a guy in an elevator in New York City--I thought it was a mistake, and I told the guy, as a friendly gesture, "Your jacket collar is up." He looked at me as though I were a manure-encrusted pig farmer who had just told him that ice was actually frozen water.

"I know," he said.

After that, I started seeing a lot of guys with their collars up, and I realized that it was a trend. Many of these guys were younger than I, but some were my age or even older, and I wondered: Should I be doing this? When I was young and hip-when it was a question of wearing bell-bottomed jeans, or growing my hair long, or smoking banana skins to see if they got you high--I never had a moment's doubt; I just knew. But I was ambivalent about the turned-up jacket collar: Was it really hip? Or were these guys just a bunch of twits?

The answer, we now know thanks to tests conducted by the National Institute of Science, is that they were in fact a bunch of twits. So I'm glad I never participated in that trend. But the point is that, because of my Hipness Uncertainty Syndrome, I wasted valuable time worrying about it.

As years passed and I got older, I found myself worrying less and less about trends. For example, when I was in my 40s, young black men started wearing their baseball caps backward. I was never even slightly tempted to imitate them. A lot of guys were, though. It wasn't so bad with the younger ones, but there was a certain age--I would pinpoint this age at 17--beyond which it started to look pretty silly. You'd see middle-class white guys in their 30s apparently thinking that by turning their caps around they had transformed themselves from junior insurance executives into bad ghetto dudes. Boyz N the Burbz.

I'm happy that, as a definitely older person, I'll never again have to go through that. Likewise I never have to wonder if I should try to like rap music, or wear gigantic pants with the waist down around my knees. Nor do I ever feel any need to participate in a current trend with potentially a very high twitness quotient: Cigar Mania, which in the mid-Nineties swept the nation the way a fart sweeps a crowded living room. All of a sudden, everywhere you go, all these people in the prime of their Hipness Uncertainty Syndrome years are fondling cigars, puffing earnestly away on cigars, and--worst of all--droning away endlessly about cigars, as though cigars are an intellectual topic comparable to classical literature, as opposed to transient wads of spit-drenched tobacco.

Don't misunderstand me: I know that some people, a small minority, truly like cigars--they smoked them before they were popular, and they'll smoke them after they stop being popular. But you just know that, at some point, a whole lot of these puffers and fondlers and droners are going to wake up one morning, smell the cigar stench on their hair and skin and taste the cigar slime clinging to their teeth, and they're going to say: "What the hell am I doing?"

Most of us older people managed to completely avoid participating in the cigar trend, and we feel good about it. We also feel good about the fact that when we hear about global warming, or toxic waste, or global cooling, or the destruction of the rain forests, or one of the many other serious problems threatening to wipe out the entire human race by the year 2050 unless we do something drastic, we can frown politely as though we're concerned, when in fact we're thinking: "No problem! I'll be dead!"

Yes, there are some real benefits to turning 50. And that's going to be the theme of this book: It's going to be a celebration of the aging process. I'm not talking about just my aging process, but that of the whole massive Baby Boom Generation-the millions and millions of us who were born in the postwar era and went on to set a standard for whiny self-absorption that probably will never be equaled.

But dammit, we have a lot to be self-absorbed about. Oh, sure, we had a pretty impressive act to follow. Our parents' generation overcame the Great Depression, won World War II, and went on to build the greatest and most powerful nation this planet has ever seen. But look at the many accomplishments that we Baby Boomers can point to: Saturday Night Live! The New Age movement! Call waiting!

And those are only a few examples. There will be many more in this book, which will chart the historic, highlight-studded course of the Boomers-from the days when they wore diapers to the heady days, decades later, when, as the dominant generation of the planet's dominant nation, they are starting to wear diapers again.

Come, fellow Boomer. Take my hand, and let us travel together on a voyage of exploration into our very favorite topic, which is us. Let us examine in detail the questions of who we are, and where we came from, and where we are going. I promise you that it will be a fascinating journey. Simply read on, and we shall begin.

But first, let go of my hand, because it's really hard to type this way.

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction: It's Great to Be 50! 9
2 The Early History of the Boomers: Hey, the World Wasn't Exactly Perfect When We Got Here 25
3 The Fifties: Domestic Prosperity. International Tension. Buffalo Bob 43
4 The Sixties: Hell Yes, We Inhaled 89
5 The Early Seventies: Maturity Rears Its Ugly Head 135
6 An Invitation to Boomers Reaching 50: Unite! You Have Nothing to Lose But ... But ... 161
7 Tips on Looking Young (Fact: Dick Clark Actually Died in 1972.) 169
8 25 Things I Have Learned in 50 Years 181
9 Sending Your Child to College (Remember: You Don't Need Both of Your Kidneys.) 187
10 Planning for Your Retirement: A Sensible Proposal 193
11 10 Signs That You Might Be Losing It 201
12 Confronting the Inevitability of Death: You Go Ahead. I'm Gonna Watch The Simpsons 203
13 Conclusion: Looking Forward to a Brighter, Better Future. Or Whatever 215
Acknowledgments 219
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Interviews & Essays

On Tuesday, November 3rd, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Dave Barry to discuss DAVE BARRY TURNS 50.


Moderator: Welcome, Dave Barry! Thank you for taking the time to join us online tonight. How are you doing this evening?

Dave Barry: I am doing fine, thank you.


Michael Little from Honolulu, Hawaii: Dave, a serious question about this age business. You turn 50, Barbie turns 40, and you're both looking great. What's your secret? What's Barbie's secret?

Dave Barry: My secret is that I'm made entirely out of plastic. I have no idea how Barbie does it, but I do want to deny any of these rumors about me and Ken.


Michael from Newton, Massachusetts: What was harder for you, turning 30 or turning 50?

Dave Barry: Definitely turning 50, although when I turned 30, I had a fairly major party, which I believe is still going on.


Niki from niki_palek@yahoo.com: Dr. Mr. Barry, what were you like as a kid? Where you a troublemaker?

Dave Barry: Yes, I was actually elected class clown of the Pleasantville, New York, class of 1965, and many teachers told me, "Dave, you can't joke your way through life..."


J. Ball from Virginia: My daughter (a junior at Bryn Mawr) is dating a Haverford English major. Should I be worried?

Dave Barry: Definitely. I was a Haverford English major and I would certainly never have allowed my daughter to date me.


John from JWC901@aol.com: What is the least attractive thing to you about the baby-boom generation?

Dave Barry: Nose hair.


Jennifer from Dade County, Florida: It is good to see you doing your interview on election day. Did you vote?

Dave Barry: I am not allowed to vote. I am on a book tour and I am not even allowed to go to the bathroom.


Loti Bertone from Naperville: Do any of your books have a chapter regarding the University of Nebraska fans? My significant other is one of them and I would love to get him that particular book, if available, for Christmas. Sorry I missed your book signing in Naperville last week. Your books have kept me laughing...thanks.

Dave Barry: I have never written a chapter about University of Nebraska fans, but needless to say, I worship them all as gods, especially if they bought my book.


Dave from East Village, New York City: Who do you think is the greatest living satirist?

Dave Barry: Well, speaking of the East Village, I am a huge fan of Calvin Trillin. I am also a major admirer of Roy Blount Jr.


Jonathan from Seattle: Prunes: friend or foe?

Dave Barry: I would definitely say foe. And may I add: rutabagas.


Dlamos from @ameritech.net: Dave, my son loves your books; however, it is very inconvenient for me to go to the library to get your books. Could you send him some free copies? I did buy one of your books, but it got flushed down our 3.5 gallon toilet. Boy, that thing could suck down a horse!

Dave Barry: First of all, I have severe toilet envy. Second, I am putting several books for your son in the mail along with $45,000 in unmarked bills.


Jonathan from Seattle: Given the opportunity to play water polo with someone famous, who would you pick?

Dave Barry: Albert Einstein, because I think I could easily defeat him since he has been dead for more than 40 years.


Saul Goodman from New York: Hi, Dave. I used to have a great deal of discomfort about aging, but ever since I turned 22, I've kinda gotten used to the idea of being old. So my question is, Do you think there's a point we reach where we truly feel that we're getting better as we get older? Have you reached that point? Thanks.

Dave Barry: Yes, I agree there is such a point: It is called "finality." And I am almost there.


Lynette from North Carolina: To what do you attribute your zany take on everyday life? (P.S.: Our sons are about the same age, and I've loved reading about Rob growing up.)

Dave Barry: Well, a big factor for me was my parents, both of whom had fairly bizarre senses of humor. And my condolences to you on having a son the same age as mine.


Deb from Ohio: So, Dave -- now that you've tried synchronized swimming, what Olympic sport will you attempt next?

Dave Barry: It would be the 400 meter beer drinking.


Gary from Milwaukee: When you say, "I'm not making this up," are you really not making it up?

Dave Barry: I am really NOT making it up. Sometimes the funniest things that happen are true and I need some way to let people know that these are among the rare occasions when I am not lying.


Joann Dominik from Minnesota: What did you think of "Raccoon's Law," and heck, what was the law? I never found it.

Dave Barry: I have no idea what you are talking about, but let me just say that I agree with you 100 percent.


Deb from Ohio: Dave, I don't really have a question, but I just finished reading DAVE BARRY IS FROM MARS AND VENUS, and I wanted to tell you how much I enjoy reading your books and columns. You're hilarious! Thanks for the laughs!

Dave Barry: Thank you, Mom.


Slick from Oregon: Is anyone there?

Dave Barry: No.


Morgan from Creek Ridge, Missouri: Dave Barry, how do you do it? How do you write as often as you do and keep fresh material?

Dave Barry: I have no useful skills.


Louise from Branson, Missouri: Hello, Dave. I am a huge fan and I just wanted to hear your thoughts on the Internet? Do you have any changed feelings since you wrote DAVE BARRY IN CYBERSPACE?

Dave Barry: No, I still feel that the Internet is probably the most brilliantly efficient mechanism ever invented for wasting time.


Katie from Chicago, Illinois: Two of my best friends just moved to the Miami area. Having lived there for some time, do you have any advice for them?

Dave Barry: They should bring guns.


Bobbie from Mobile, Alabama: How do you feel about all these actors putting books out with neither literary backgrounds nor aspirations? Do you think this is bad for book publishing?

Dave Barry: No, I think it is fine, as long as humor writers are allowed to make movies.


Jonathan from Seattle: When are you going to run for the state Senate?

Dave Barry: I would never run for a lowly office like state Senate, in which there is practically no possibility of receiving large illegal cash contributions from the Chinese. I am always running for president.


Steve from Chicago: Dave, I read when I was living in Tokyo and laughed continually. I am about to turn 40. Do I have to wait until I turn 50 to appreciate/understand your new book?

Dave Barry: Yes, but you should buy several copies right now anyway.


Gary Everest from Rockford, Michigan: Would you compare yourself to Will Rogers, and, if so, why?

Dave Barry: Well, we are both very old.


Erin from Bemidji: Dave, what is the meaning of life?

Dave Barry: Beer.


Janek Zielony from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Does a swollen prostate absolutely have to go along with advancing age? Any tips on how to avoid it?

Dave Barry: Well, the best way to avoid it is to keep your hands out of other people's butts.


Jennie from New Harmony, Indiana: Tourists come to New Harmony to see our old buildings. They would love to see you in a rocking chair....

Dave Barry: I have been there for 23 years and nobody even says hi.


Ted from Louisville, Kentucky: Are you a fan of P. J. O'Rourke? Who do you think is funny?

Dave Barry: I am a fan of O'Rourke. I am also a fan of Steve Martin, and my idol when I was growing up was Robert Benchley.


Lisa from Augusta, Maine: It seems more and more authors have to be marketers of their books as well as writers -- how do you feel about the phenomenon?

Dave Barry: I think it is absolutely terrible, and if you call my toll-free number I will not only tell you why but I will send you my book and a set of Ginsu knives.


Slick from Oregon: How long have you been writing for?

Dave Barry: I have been writing this column since about 1977, which is shortly after the Civil War.


Slick from Oregon: Do people ask you a lot of stupid questions?

Dave Barry: Yes.


J.Ball from Virginia: What kinds of music do you listen to? Any hobbies?

Dave Barry: I like mostly songs from when I was young, shortly after the Civil War. My hobby is complaining about the songs my son listens to.


DBV from Ameritech.net: Please use the words "Jerry Springer," "weasel," and "Monica Lewinsky" in a sentence.

Dave Barry: Jerry Springer pulled a weasel out of Monica Lewinsky's....


Gary from Rockford, Michigan: Dave, I'm disappointed in your response about yourself and Will [Rogers]. He's been dead a long, looong time and still could have came up with something more humorous.

Dave Barry: I beg to differ; he is right here next to me at the keyboard and that was his idea.


Jonathan from Seattle: How's your rock band going? Is Stephen King still kicking butt?

Dave Barry: My band, the Rock Bottom Remainders, is still playing its special genre of "hard-listening music." Stephen is still a member and continues to do a superb rendition of "Teen Angel."


Sharon from Long Island, New York: Do you know any up-and-coming comedic authors worth noting?

Dave Barry: Yes, there is a guy named Kevin Cowherd, a columnist for The Baltimore Sun, who is very funny. And there are lots of others, but right now I am too old to remember their names.


Carmina B. from Montreal, Canada: Who's older, you or Garrison Keillor?

Dave Barry: We are both older....


Chuck from Laguna Beach, California: Since you live in Florida, and you're more than 50 and therefore retired now, can you spend some time finding Slash the Manatee Beanie Baby for me?

Dave Barry: No, I cannot because I am retired.


Eileen from Tampa Florida: How can I get a job like yours? If you are tired of doing it and need a...

Dave Barry: I can't let you have my job because then I would have to find something useful to do.


Pac87@aol.com from New Jersey: What is your next project?

Dave Barry: I am working on a novel that is going real well, except that I am in the fifth chapter and there is absolutely no plot.


Elise from Brooklyn: Dave, I'm a native Floridian stranded in New York City! Can you give me any advice on how to re-create the atmosphere when I am feeling homesick?

Dave Barry: Yes, you can glue four or five New York cockroaches together to form one Florida Roach.


Jonas from Delray Beach, Florida: What inspired this book? Is this your midlife crisis?

Dave Barry: No, it was more that I signed a midlife contract.


Sharona from Newark, New Jersey: Dave, there are a lot of books coming out that look back on the century.... Any plans to write one?

Dave Barry: What? We had a century?


Erin from Bemidji: Do you know another reason why vultures have bald heads, other than their eating habits?

Dave Barry: Because they cannot afford hairpieces.


Gary from Rockford, Michigan: Dave, my wife and I want to thank you for your lighthearted and informative books (i.e. How To Make a Board) that we have enjoyed together. Keep up the great work. Gary & Pat

Dave Barry: Thank you, Gary and Pat. I have all of your books also.


Halley from San Francisco, California: Are you going to see the new Babe movie?

Dave Barry: Of course. There is nothing I love more, speaking as a guy, than a talking pig.


Moderator: Thank you for joining us again tonight, Dave Barry, to discuss DAVE BARRY TURNS 50. We hope you will join us again sometime... Do you have any closing comments for your online audience?

Dave Barry: Yes, always remember as my mother used to say to me: It is better to be rich and healthy than poor and sick.


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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 30, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    FUNNY! A Really good read!

    This book is great! I can't count the times when I was laughing so hard that I had tears in my eyes. I was reading it on a plane flight, and as I could not contain myself during the 5 hr. flight, I found others in the cabin were finding things to laugh about, too. Laughter is contagious. This book creates a good effect. What's wonderful is Barry's ability to view the absurdity of so many things in life. He helps you look at these things through his viewpoint, and life isn't so serious, and therefore a lot easier to deal with. He drives home a few serious points about some things, like Vietnam and the insanity of the times in the 60's. His likening Nixon to a "protein-based life form" is, well, extremely accurate. I highly recommend this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2014

    Charlie

    Ok then went there

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2012

    Couldn't stop laughing

    Brought so many memories of those years back. Just gotta share it!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 27, 2012

    Hilarious!!!

    Tears were rolling from my eyes! Brought back lots of memories!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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