Weekend reading for mid-lifers

by Joey deVilla on March 11, 2017

Anitra and me on our Disney World honeymoon.

It’s been just over 6 years since my personal Great Reset and all that ensued, from winding up in the ICU with killer flu to non-dates gone tragicomically wrong to meeting someone new and then moving from Toronto to Tampa and marrying her. It’s been a wonderful adventure, during which time I adopted “Best! Mid-life crisis! Ever!” as my personal battle cry.

If you’d like to have the best midlife crisis ever as well, you might find these articles interesting reading…

From Get a Midlife, published in the New York Times in January 2012:

YOU may be surprised to learn that when researchers asked people over 65 to pick the age they would most like to return to, the majority bypassed the wild and wrinkle-less pastures of their teens, 20s and 30s, and chose their 40s.

We are more accustomed to seeing the entry into middle age treated as a punch line or a cause for condolences. Despite admonishments that “50 is the new 30,” middle age continues to be used as a metaphor for decline or stasis. Having just completed a book about the history and culture of middle age, I found that the first question people asked me was, “When does it begin?” anxiously hoping to hear a number they hadn’t yet reached.

Elderly people who find middle age to be the most desirable period of life, however, are voicing what was a common sentiment in the 19th century, when the idea of a separate stage of development called “middle age” began to emerge. Although middle age may seem like a universal truth, it is actually as much of a manufactured creation as polyester or the rules of chess. And like all the other so-called stages into which we have divvied up the uninterrupted flow of life, middle age, too, is a cultural fiction, a story we tell about ourselves.

One of the biggest challenges in moving from Toronto to Florida is that I all of a sudden, I was a stranger in a strange land, with few friends. That’s been changing over the three years that I’ve been here, as I’ve gotten to know more locals. There’ve even been times when I’ve walked into a place in Tampa or St. Petersburg and someone would approach me and say “Are you the Accordion Guy?”, just like they used to in Toronto.

I’m particularly mindful of the need for a base of friends because I’m an extrovert who also works from home and is closing in on age 50. This is a particularly dangerous combo for guys my age, and the Boston Globe’s article, The biggest threat facing middle-age men isn’t smoking or obesity. It’s loneliness. covers it in detail. For the women’s perspective, Huffington Post’s Why Midlife Women Need Friends More Than Ever is worth checking out.

I listen to a fair number of podcasts, and one of my regular listens is Cal Newport’s The Art of Maniliness podcast, which always covers interesting topics and features interesting guests. In a recent podcast, Building Your Band of Brothers, Cal interviewed Stephen Mansfield, author of Building Your Band of Brothers, and they talked about the importance and difficulty of forming friendships when you’re no longer a young man. It’s a worthwhile listen:

If you like watching YouTube videos and want to stay healthy in both body and mind, watch Dr. Mike Evans’ channel. He’s got lots of good, science-backed, sound advice. Any time someone comes to me with their worries about hitting their 40s, I send them to this video…

…and then I send them to one of the most profound bits in The Simpsons: Grampa Simpson’s “I used to be ‘with it’” speech…

…and with the recent discovery in Cairo of the buried temple of Ramses II and his statue…

…I’ll send them to that story, reminding them that life is short, and also that Ramses II was also known by another name: Ozymandias.


On Wednesday afternoon, Miami defense lawyer Stephen Gutierrez was trying to convince a jury that his client’s car spontaneously caught fire and was not deliberately set alight by the defendant when smoke began pouring out of his right pants pocket. He ran out of the courtroom, and when he returned shortly afterward with a singed pocket, he claimed that a faulty e-cigarette battery was to blame.

The police and prosecutors are investing the case, and if they determine that the incident was a staged defense demonstration that went terribly wrong — and remember, the unofficial Florida motto is “no idea is a bad one” — he Gutierrez could be held in contempt of court.

As for Gutierrez’ client: he was convicted of second-degree arson.

Thanks to Tim Jones for the find!

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This week on the clearance shelf at my local Publix, you can get cut-rate Mardi Gras costumes…

Assorted cheap Mardi Gras costumes and beads, marked down to 2 for $1.99.

…Star Wars magnets…

Assorted Star Wars fridge magnets, marked down to $3.00 each.

…and a chance to savor the last gasp of pumpkin spice season:

750mL bottles of R.W. Knudsen’s pumpkin spice cider, marked down to 2 for $4.49.


Two years ago today…

by Joey deVilla on March 7, 2017

Anitra Pavka and Joey deVilla facing the guests as newly-married wife and husband at their wedding on St. Pete Beach.

Click the photo to see it at full size.

Has it already been two years? Happy anniversary, sweetie!

I’ll let the pictures, both still and moving, tell the story…

Anitra Pavka and Joey deVilla walk down the plam tree-lined “aisle” of their beach wedding.

Click the photo to see it at full size.

Anitra, Joey and wedding party.

Click the photo to see it at full size.

Anitra Pavka and Joey deVilla at the bridal table at their wedding.

Click the photo to see it at full size.

Anitra in her wedding dress and bridal “Mouse Ears”, laughing.

Click the photo to see it at full size.

Close-up of Anitra’s and Joey’s wedding rings.

Click the photo to see it at full size.

Anitra, Joey, and guests at Bongo’s Beach Bar, at the post-wedding gathering.

Click the photo to see it at full size.

Anitra, Joey, and guests at Bongo’s Beach Bar, at the post-wedding gathering.

Click the photo to see it at full size.

Anitra and Joey’s wedding guests at Bongo’s Beach Bar, after sunset.

Click the photo to see it at full size.

I’ll close this one with my favorite photo: the one I call the “Elvis movie poster”:

Click the photo to see it at full size.

Bonus material

Anitra blows bubbles on the beach after the wedding ceremony

Click the photo to see it at full size.

Here’s a writeup of our wedding by our wedding photographer.

I like the opening: “As Anitra walked down the beach to her husband to be, it was clear as day what was going through Joey’s head,” which brings to mind this scene from The Simpsons:


Florida drummer Lee Koenig, who also goes by the stage name “MR. WOOKY”.
Click the photo to see his Facebook page.

How low will you stoop to get free musical gear? Well, Lee Howard Koenig is a Florida Man, so he stooped low enough not just to order $25,000 worth of drum equipment and microphones using any old fake name, but under the name of Dan Adair, drummer for…Nickelback.

“Must…look…intense!” Nickelback’s photo on the front page of their site.

As my musician friend Jeff Kahl puts it, “Even the real drummer for Nickelback doesn’t openly admit it.”

That’s probably why when Koenig placed the order with an vendor in Vienna, Austria, as Nickelback’s drummer, they became suspicious, especially since the delivery address was in Port St. Lucie, Florida. I mean, c’mon we may be Florida, but we can at least proudly say that no one from Nickelback lives here.

Someone at the vendor contacted Nickelback’s representatives, who did some investigating of their own, and on Tuesday, the police executed a search warrant on Koenig’s house.

This isn’t Koenig’s first fraud. He pretended to collect money on behalf of the Indian Riverkeeper advocacy group, from which he managed to net $78,000 from well-meaning, unsuspecting donors.

I’ll close with some videos about why people feel the way they do about Nickelback:


This was tweeted yesterday by @polNewsNetwork1:

The twitter account’s name is a reference to /pol/, the “politically incorrect” section of 4chan, the message board for miscreants, and source of a lot of what’s poisoning internet culture, from GamerGate to alt-right memes to the current state of politics. The account pretty much is an echo of what you’ll find on /pol/, or any other place where you’ll find angry, disenfranchised, poorly-socialized (and mostly white) men who feel cheated out of a birthright they were promised by the dominant culture.

This reaction reminds me of a quip that I use to tease certain people:

Conservatism is the dread fear that somewhere, somehow, someone you think is your inferior is being treated as your equal.

In the photo, @polNewsNetwork1 sees the destruction of American society, but what I see is its ideal: people doing their own thing, in their own way, and somehow not trying to trample the other for being different.

I’m not the only one who interpreted the photo that way:


Picture of seagulls in flight with text: “Florida Tourist Hack #26: Bring french fries with you to the beach and throw them around the edges of your blanket. It is a natural seagull repellent.”

It’s a trick the locals use, and it really works.