Generation X Turns 50 – February 2016 Edition

Generation X continues to turn 50, and today I want to highlight those of us born in February 1966.  Leading off February, fashion designer John Varvatos turned 50 on February 1st.  Then on the 6th, singer and internet meme legend Rick Astley turned fifty. Those of us who have been on the internet forever owe him a special debt.

Actor Neal McDonough, who I keep seeing more of all the time, Turns 50 on February 13th. And then Justine Bateman on February 19th.  I think Family Ties was one of the shows that captures the Generation X formative years.

On the 20th, supermodel Cindy Crawford hits the big Five – Oh. She certainly has to be among the most successful and famous members of Generation X by any measure.

From Cindy Crawford on Google+
Cindy Crawford

February 24th brings 50th birthday wishes to Billy Zane, and the 25th to Téa Leoni.  On the 27th, Donal Logue turns 50 and Ickey Woods shuffles into a second half-century on the 28th.  Disappointingly, I did not find any leap-year Gen-Xers turning 50 on the 29th.

Finally, just in case you didn’t click at the top, Mr. Rick Astley:

Celebrating my 50th Birthday

I celebrated my 50th birthday on August 2nd of this year.  As befitting the subtitle of this blog, I did not post at that time because I was in a summer of slacking off with regard to blogging. This extended through the fall, and then into the winter.

So, yes, I’ve been a slacker.

50th Birthday From Keep Calm

I was ambivalent about having a party, but I knew I didn’t want some big over the top party.  So I waffled until the last minute, and then told my wife I did want a party, but just a small one.  And that is all there was time to plan at that point, so it all worked out.

While thinking about party versus no party, I had also read this Huffington Post article by Barbara Hannah Grufferman about making a list of fifty things to do during the year you are fifty (rather than having a party).  I found this rather compelling, and thought that maybe I would do the same.  I looked at the first few items on her list…

  • Join a book club
  • Visit the house where I was raised
  • Learn how to juggle
  • Visit the Grand Canyon

Hmm….    I’m not really a book club person, more a solitary reader.  The house where I was raised no longer exists.  I taught myself to juggle in graduate school.  I visited the Grand Canyon in 2009…..

I was clearly going to have to come up with my own list!  But of course, that is the point.

I started to think of things I wanted to do.

  • Learn to play the piano
  • Learn to dance the tango well
  • Learn Spanish
  • Visit my mom in South Dakota and the family in Minnesota
  • Visit my sister in Ireland
  • Write my book on the Manhattan Project
  • etc

But of course, to do 50 things in the year you are fifty, you need to do one thing a week, and take two weeks of vacation!  Most of the things I was thinking of were long term things I still wanted to do.  I suppose I could cast them in a shorter term light (take a piano lesson) but that didn’t really capture the issue.

So instead of finding 50 things to do this year, I am going to make a list of 50 things I want to do while I am in my fifties — that gives me ten years to get these things done.  Not quite a bucket list – I will wait til I am 67 until I write that.

So, anyone have any suggestions for my list of fifty things to do in my fifties?

Generation Xers turning 50 at the end of May.

I was off on vacation the last two weeks and missed some great Generation X 50th Birthdays.  Jay Carney on May 22, John C. Reilly on the 24th, Todd Bridges on May 27th.  But I had really been waiting for the 31st, which saw the 50th Birthday of Brooke Shields.  Another great Generation X actress who still looks great at 50. This article details her big 50th birthday party — looks like it was fun!

Generation X 50th Birthday of the Day – Ted Allen

Ted Allen, host of Food Network’s Chopped turns 50 on May 20.  Ted’s big break came in 2003 when he was in the cast of Bravo’s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.  In honor of Ted’s position as one of the latest Generation X celebrities to turn 50, here is an interview with him from a couple years ago.

Gen X 50th Birthday of the Day – Kevin James

April 26, 2015 is the 50th Birthday of Gen X actor/comedian Kevin James.  James first became well know starring in The King of Queens, and then appeared in a number of films with other largely Generation X actors, including Adam Sandler, Will Smith and Vince Vaughn.  I for one am looking forward to Game of Thrones of Queens, as previewed in this Letterman interview:

Gen X 50th Birthday of the Day – Martin Lawrence!

Turning 50 on April 16, 2015 (and sharing that honor with Jon Cryer) is Martin Lawrence.  I am tempted to call him “famous German actor Martin Lawrence”, since it was news to me to discover that he was born in Germany while is father was serving in the military.

I’m trying to figure out which Martin Lawrence film I like the best – and of course, you can’t go wrong with the Bad Boys films.  But I have a soft spot for Black Knight!  And, while I preferred the original English version, the Chris Rock/Martin Lawrence version of Death at a Funeral was pretty good!  And it has Peter Dinklage reprising his role as the late father’s lover.  What more could you ask for.

Gen X 50th Birthday of the Day – Jon Cryer!

Gen X 50th Birthday of the Day for April 16th, 2015 is Jon Cryer.  Lately of the show Two and a Half Men, those of us in Generation X probably know him first and best from his role as Duckie in Pretty in Pink — one of the classic John Hughes films that came out during Gen X’s formative years.

So, the other night – and I don’t know if this was in celebration of turning 50 – Cryer recreated his dance/lip sync routine to Otis Redding’s Try a Little Tenderness from Pretty in Pink.  So that you can compare in one place, I give you the 1986 original with 21 year old Jon Cryer and the 2015 version with 50 (minus one day) year old Jon Cryer. With the wig, Cryer has appeared to have aged at all in 29 years!

Gen X 50th Birthday of the Day – Paulina Porizkova

April 9th, 2015, our Gen X 50th Birthday of the day belongs to model and actress Paulina Porizkova.  I think I had a Sports Illustrated swimsuit calendar back in the mid 1980s that she was a big part of.  Maybe it included this image:

Paulina Porzkova SI swimsuit photo
Paulina Porzkova SI swimsuit photo

I am as astounded to find out that we are both hitting fifty this year as I was when it was announced she was marrying Ric Ocasek.  But, I have to say, she’s still got it:


Gen X 50th Birthday of the Day – Robert Downey, Jr.

Gen X continues to turn 50, and today I wish a happy 50th birthday to Robert Downey Jr., born April 4, 1965!   For some reason, I regard Robert Downey Jr. as the quintessential Generation X actor.  I think part of it stems from his breakthrough roles being in Less Than Zero, which was based on Brett Easton Ellis’s book of the same name and like Douglas Coupland’s Generation X,  Ellis’ American Psycho, and Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City came out in the mid to late 1980s and captured the early Generation X zeitgeist.

And of course, Downey has had a huge career for thirty years, in spite of his issues with drugs and the law.   In addition to starring in one of the highest grossing film franchises with Iron Man, he also has a seriously successful franchise in Sherlock Holmes.  But the number of great and serious films is simply astounding.  Here are the top ten performances as rated by

Its is a good list. But it doesn’t begin to touch on his minor roles – which are also great, like his appearance in Chef:

And while his performance in Chaplin gets all the critical love, my favorite, and I think an underrated film, is Restoration from 1995.  I should watch it again.

Generation X 50th Birthday of the Day – Rodney King (RIP)

April 2, 2015 would have been the 50th birthday of Rodney King.  King, was of course made famous by his beating at the hands of Los Angeles Police Department members in 1991 that was captured on tape and seen on the news nationwide.  Subsequently, the acquittal of these officers on charges of using excessive force led to the LA riots of 1992, which if you are a GenXer you probably remember watching them on TV.

The King case really foreshadowed where we are now with much more widespread filming of police-citizen interactions, police car dash cams, and plans for police body cameras.

King died in June, 2012, drowning in his swimming pool.  I will always remember his quote during the riots, “Can we all get along?”  Hopefully we can.