During late July and early August of last summer, our little Sun City community had a lot of excitement! Georgia has become one of the top filming locations in the country, and the latest Diane Keaton movie landed on location right here. “POMS,” written by Shane Atkinson and directed by Zara Hayes opens in theaters on May 10.
In the early days of the movie’s inception, this was the official description: “45 minutes outside of Phoenix lies a retirement community. A place where palm trees line the streets, the skies are always clear and the “taxi” (ambulance) drives by two or three times a day – a final destination for retirees. This is the story of America’s first cheer-leading squad for women aged 60.
Phoenix and palm trees were eventually dropped for Georgia, and Sun City Peachtree became “Sun Springs,” the community where Diane Keaton comes to “die.” She is joined in the film by Jacki Weaver, Rhea Perlman, Celia Weston, Pam Grier, Alisha Boe, Bruce McGill, and more.
A Georgia-based casting company was used to hire all the extras, and us residents had first crack at applying for the roles. If you see the movie, almost all of the extras in the retirement community scenes are either our friends, neighbors, or fellow Sun City residents in a community that was less than 2,000 residents at the time.
In addition, the house scenes were all filmed in the homes of residents who applied to have their houses used in the movie.
I was originally cast to be a water aerobics instructor; however, after jumping through a bunch of hoops, the scene got canceled. As a matter of fact, an entire day of filming (and numerous committed extras) got cut. Putting two and two together, I quickly surmised as to why that happened: budget. Just a guess.
That was just one of many scheduling changes that took place each day. Suffice it to say the entire three weeks of filming here could be summed up in one word: chaos.
Having said that, there were a lot of fun moments here as well. Bruce was cast as a “gym goer” and was filmed for a scene out front of our recreation center where Bruce McGill and Celia Weston pass by in a golf cart.
In the gym scene, Bruce walks by in the background for a scene that included our actress friend who lives around the corner from us. Karen Beyer has a speaking role in the movie, and she appears briefly in the trailer.
Although it was a long and boring day for Bruce, I enjoyed hanging out and watching the filming.
The only scene I may appear in is when the crew filmed a resident tai chi class. Evidently, the footage the crew shot of “real” residents will be used for a “Day in the Life of Sun Springs” montage that Diane Keaton’s character watches at the sales center, when she is considering moving to “Sun Springs.”
One thing for sure: Diane Keaton was really nice to the residents here! When she wasn’t filming, she posed for pictures with anybody who asked. Right before I was photographed with Diane, a lady on the way to the pool with her grand kids asked Diane she could take her picture. Diane responded, “Only if you are all in it with me!” Diane asked her assistant to take the picture for them and then did the same for me. In this shot, Diane turned to me and said, “Oh f*@#! He took the picture when I wasn’t ready!” That’s why I’m cracking up!
At the funeral scene (see the trailer; it’s a hoot!), I had the opportunity to chat a little with Diane Keaton, and she was quite friendly. It was very hot that day, though, so she spent most of her time between shoots in her air conditioned limo.
The “grunts” of the film crew were also friendly. We could see as the filming progressed over the three weeks, however, that they were stressed, exhausted, and ready for the film to wrap!
Our HOA ended up with $35,000 for allowing the crew to film onsite, and the experience gave us all a lot to talk about! We are looking forward to a big screening party here when the movie is released. Whether the movie is a hit or bombs out, it sure will be fun watching all our friends on the screen!
As I jumped out of bed and streaked across the back of our house to answer the phone this morning, I neglected to notice the peeping Tom’s outside our bare windows. It wasn’t until I hung up the phone that I looked out and saw I was being stared at by two gorgeous fawns casually relaxing under the trees in our backyard! Bambi 1 and Bambi 2 weren’t spooked by the commotion I made, nor were they in any hurry to leave when I returned with my camera.
These two little Sun City Peachtree cuties have been spotted by several of my neighbors in the past, and we were thrilled to get to see them hanging out at our house this time.
By now, you have probably heard the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, and I’m guessing you couldn’t get it out of your head after you heard it. Well, imagine how Sun City Peachtree’s Lifestyle Director, Stan Heaton felt after wrapping up editing of this video: http://youtu.be/i77miEDbRxs . I appear (very briefly) at the 2:07-2:08 mark.
The video is fun, so check it out!
For a town that averages two inches of snow per year and had no snow in 2013, this has been quite a frosty year!
We were housebound yesterday from an ice storm that caused thousands to lose power to their homes. Thankfully, our utilities are underground, so we stayed warm and toasty.
This was the scene this morning:
Never in my life would it have occurred to me that I could experience colder temperatures in Griffin, Georgia than in Qaqortoq, Greenland. After all, when I stepped off the cruise ship in Qaqortoq it was a frosty 19 degrees, the coldest temperature this Southern California girl had ever endured. I ended up adding my nose to the list of body parts affected by Raynaud’s, thanks to a full day spent hiking up and down the hills exploring the town on that frigid day. What a wimp I was! The local boys rode around on their bikes with opened flannel shirts blowing in the breeze and just a t-shirt on underneath.
More than five years later, here I am in the deep South laughing at 19 degrees! Last night before turning in, weather.com reported a temperature of 17 degrees with a “feels like” temperature at 5 degrees. The low dipped to 14 degrees with a “feels like” of -2! I didn’t stay up long enough to find out; my bed (and Bruce!) seemed like a cozier alternative.
At the moment, it’s a balmy 27 degrees, so I wrapped myself up in my warmest duds to venture out to our waterfall- uhhhh, make that “ice fall!”
When Bruce and I made the decision to move to a Del Webb Sun City community, I decided it would be a perfect opportunity to switch from being a gym rat and return to being a water dog. The treadmill hadn’t been kind to my paws; I had developed a fierce case of tarsal tunnel syndrome and knew it would be an ongoing battle. But, the pool where we lived in San Antonio was an outdoor pool, open only during the (very) hot summer months. That situation wasn’t kind to me either; I developed fierce heat intolerance issues.
Sun City has a climate controlled indoor pool- perfect!
So, I returned to the pool, in 2009, soon after settling in at Sun City Peachtree. I worked on building up my endurance. Then, one day, I decided to try swimming my old competitive stroke again: Breaststroke. Once I built up enough speed and confidence to time myself, I brought my watch to the pool and timed my race from a push off the wall. Aaaaaack! It was far from the 1:19.06 best time I got as a high school senior. But, I went home red-faced, sat down at the computer, and looked up where my time would have ranked if I had competed as a 50 year old, at the Georgia Golden Olympics. Of course, I was only 47, BUT, I was also just getting back into it and figured I would have plenty of room to improve.
To my surprise, my time wasn’t so bad in my age group. So, I looked up where my time would have placed me at the National Senior Olympics and was relieved to see I wouldn’t have placed last! Actually, I would have ended up in the middle of the pack.
So, at that very moment, I set a goal for myself and announced to Bruce: “In 2012, when I turn 50, I am going to compete in the Georgia Golden Olympics!”
It was time to get to work.
After 8 months of swimming on my own, I realized I didn’t have a clue how to properly train to return to competition. And, I could tell by watching the Olympics, in 2008, that breaststroke had changed dramatically, since 1979. I needed a coach. Badly.
After doing some research, I learned that the closest indoor competition pool, Steve Lundquist Aquatic Center, was located 25 minutes away, in Clayton County. I called the pool to see if they could refer me to a coach who could take a look at my strokes and get me back on track. That is how I met Mike Slotnick, the founder and head coach of SMART (Smart Motivated Athletic Respectful Teammate), a kid’s swim team.
Lucky for me, Mike was willing to take me on for reasonably priced private coaching sessions. He had his work cut out for him, for sure…
Meanwhile, I remembered that my sister had been a member of United States Masters Swimming, so I checked out the website and decided to join. Unfortunately, the nearest team was located too far away to train with, but I could still compete with a team at swim meets.
One month after my first coaching session, I competed in my first meet. Thankfully, Mike was there to help calm my nerves, give me last-minute advice, and clue me in as to when and how much to warm up before each race. It turned out to be a great experience!
The following month, Georgia Tech hosted U.S.M.S. Short Course Nationals. How could I miss that with it being just up the freeway from my home? But, Nationals? Whoaaa; that’s way beyond my swimming level. But, U.S.M.S. is an inclusive organization, allowing all members to compete in three events at Nationals, if they don’t qualify to swim more (up to six). So, I went, competed, and ended up second to last in my events. Mike competed, too, we gave each other a lot of encouragement, and I ended up having a blast. The best part was meeting fellow “Forumites” (U.S.M.S. Discussion Forums members) and cheering each other on. And, nobody cared about my swim times; they only cared that I was happy to be there and competed with enthusiasm.
It was because of my great experience at 2010 Nationals that I have gone to most of the Nationals since. And, it has been well worth it! And, all of the local and southeastern Dixie Zone meets have been swimming highlights, as well. It has been a terrific 21/2+ years as a USMS member.
Fast forward to January 20, 2012; my 50th birthday. After swimming in numerous U.S.M.S. meets, I had come to realize that the level of competition is far greater than at the Senior Olympics level. Comparing qualifying times and Nationals results, there was no comparison. But, I had set a goal and I was excited to see it through.
So, 2012 became the year of competing in Senior Olympics meets, in addition to U.S.M.S. meets. As I wrote previously, I competed in the Gwinnett County Golden Games, last April, as my very first Senior Games. It was at that meet that I officially declared myself a “Geezer” competing in the “Geezer Games” and was proud of it! And, as the youngest competitor there, I was even more proud to sit next to my team’s matriarch, 95 year old American Record Holder Anne Dunivin, for the medals photograph. I had won two golds and three silvers. Anne, one of the oldest competitors in the country, proudly admits that she has won those records by outliving her competition. She also won five gold medals at that meet.
The Geezer Games I was really looking forward to competing in, however, was the meet I had my heart set on, back in 2009: The Georgia Golden Olympics, my adopted states’ qualifying meet for Nationals. So, last month, we made our way to Warner Robins to compete in the maximum allowed five races. My coach, Mike, competed too, as well as several of my teammates. I ended up again with two golds and three silvers (my first two medals shown below), getting beaten at both Geezer Games by former collegiate swimmers who were awesome breaststrokers. The gal at the state meet crushed my time; I didn’t have a chance for the gold. But, I achieved my goal, had fun, and swam well, considering the poor conditions (slow pool, too-warm water, too-warm air, no warm-up or cool-down lanes available; it was a joke, really…)
I won’t be going to Cleveland for 2013 Nationals, however, even though I qualified in four of my events . Cleveland isn’t exactly at the top of my bucket list and I am allocating my travel budget, instead, to U.S.M.S. Long Course Nationals, in Mission Viejo, for 2013.
My final Geezer Games competition as a baby geezer was the following week. The Clayton County Senior Games was organized by my coach, Mike, and ran in conjunction with one of my favorite meets, the U.S.M.S. Southside Pentathlon. As the women’s sprint pentathlon (50 yard races in each stroke and the 100 yard Individual Medley) winner in 2011, I wanted to defend my title, so I signed up for both meets. Four of my events counted for both simultaneously, but I was the only baby geezer who signed up for the Geezer Games. So, by default, I won four gold medals. But, I did defend my Sprint Pentathlon title and won another trophy, beating out a 39 year old in the process.
It has been FUN being 50. If it weren’t for Mike’s excellent coaching and friendship, U.S.M.S., and my fellow Forumites who have coached me online, I would have never gotten to the level where I am now with my swimming. And, it just keeps getting better and I keep having more fun, trying new things. Between the Geezer Games, Nationals, my first open water races, winning the Sprint Pentathlon, and winning the Georgia Championship Series trophy (the last meet for the Series is in December, at Georgia Tech, however, I have already mathematically eliminated my competition), it has been a fabulous year.
Life is good being a baby geezer.