Sam Bauman: Films can calm the nerves amid holiday bustle

About this time of year I begin to suffer an overload of hard-sell Christmas commercials and tend to lose the holiday spirit. But then I remember Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” And I feel better.

Yes, it’s bleak in places and Scrooge is a real skinflint. But seniors may remember one of the best film versions of the fantasy starred Lionel Barrymore. There have been many more takes of Dickens’ work, but none as fine as Lionel’s.

So when the merchandizing of Christmas becomes too much, dig up a copy of the story, at library, on the Internet or at Amazon.

Rereading it may take seniors back to the days when Christmas meant a single gift — Tinkertoys or a Lionel train set, doll or sweater. But not everything we wanted. Our parents wanted to have hope for the future, instead of getting us everything we wanted at once.

There are other old movies that don’t reflect Christmas but may warm the heart of seniors who can remember them. How about “The Wizard of Oz,” the one starring Judy Garland, Bert Lahr and Frank Morgan as the sham Oz? Seeing Judy so innocent and fresh singing “Over the Rainbow” has got to summon some old times. Then she did “A Star Is Born,” a bit of a downer, but she was that star.

And here’s a rare one: “The Big Broadcast of 1938” with Bob Hope, Martha Raye and W.C. Fields. Hope sang what later became his theme song, “Thanks for the Memory.” That inevitably brings up the Marx Brothers, comedy unrestrained; “Duck Soup” and “A Day at the Races” were really funny.

Some of these you can find at the Carson Library, or on Netflix or Amazon. But you won’t have to visit the library for the all-time seniors’ favorite, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The cast includes James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore and Henry Travis. Frank Capra directed it and co-wrote the script. I was a failure when released but now is a holiday institution. It’ll be on TV.


In a recent column I wrote about trying to “tip” my doctor. I got this from reader Rich Dunn of Carson City:

“Obamacare has brought in a payment model called ‘accountable care,’ in which providers get bundled payment that rewards them for keeping the cost of treatment from running out of control ... but capping the payment will no doubt lead to under-treatment in some instances. The right model is a capitation plan such as Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) because it gives providers an incentive to keep you healthy in the first place. Gege’s spinal problems and your diabetes and TIA are dietary disorders that could have been easily prevented and even remediated with some intelligent nutritional changes. Trouble is, most doctors have no idea what constitutes a healthy diet. It’s about getting all your essential nutrients — which almost nobody does. It is not about how much sugar, salt and fat you consume, or how much you weigh.”

I don’t quite know how to respond. I keep modest tabs on sugar, salt and fat and I have a medically OK weight, but I don’t really worry about it. I’m too old to worry about it all; I do worry about being able to ski again this season.

Sam Bauman writes about senior issues for the Nevada Appeal.


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