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News of the Week: Unhip Tech, Cool Books for the Summer, and Tiny Toast

Published: June 10, 2016

Anybody Got an Abacus?

I have a theory: We use the technology that we’re most comfortable with. Maybe you’re a writer and you still like using a typewriter. Maybe you prefer vinyl records over iTunes. Maybe you still have a landline because you hate smartphones. You don’t have to be a slave to technology and grab the newest, shiniest thing just because the media tell you to. Besides, that new thing will probably be obsolete in 10 months.

Joe Queenan has a fun piece at The Wall Street Journal about “the shame of loving old technology.” But I don’t think it’s shame at all; it’s pride. I’m old enough to remember when CDs were the new thing that was going to replace vinyl. It was compact! The sound was incredible!

I still actually buy CDs. I refuse to buy everything in bits and bytes and simply live in files and in the cloud all the time. I like to have the physical object, though anyone in their teens and twenties probably looks at CDs the way people my age look at those old AOL discs we used to get in the mail to get online.

Speaking of typewriters (three paragraphs ago, but still), author Frederic S. Durbin has a terrific piece at Tor about his love for typewriters. I still have this dream that Apple will make a line of manual typewriters, in various colors, with the Apple logo on the front. Imagine how hip typewriters would become once again, almost overnight.

New Books

book cover

What if We’re Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman

Some new novels and nonfiction for you to read on the beach, or wherever you happen to read books during the summer:

End of Watch, by Stephen King. This is the last book in the Bill Hodges trilogy that started with Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers, with the retired cop battling an old foe out for revenge.

Magic & Loss, by Virginia Heffernan. Can the internet (now with a small i) be considered art? That’s the argument made by Heffernan in this long-awaited look at the good side and the bad side of the thing you’re staring at right now and can’t seem to get away from.

But What If We’re Wrong?, by Chuck Klosterman. What if everything we assume to be true now isn’t true, or won’t be true in 20, 40, 100 years? That’s the premise of Klosterman’s new book that looks at rock music, politics, sports, and everything in between. And yes, the cover is supposed to be upside down.

Seinfeldia, by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong. Armstrong wrote a terrific book a few years ago about The Mary Tyler Moore Show titled Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted. Now she sets her sites on another classic sitcom, Seinfeld. She goes behind the scenes of the shows and also talks to devoted fans. (Comes out July 5)

Introducing: Tiny Toast!

When was the last time the launch of a new cereal got any attention? I’m sure there have been other new cereals launched in the past several years, but Tiny Toast, the new product from General Mills, is getting some buzz. Maybe because it’s the first new cereal from the company in 15 years, or maybe it’s the name, Tiny Toast!

And it’s exactly what it says: little toast-shaped pieces with real fruit “spread” on them, with no high-fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors. Right now it comes in two flavors, blueberry and strawberry. They should make one that’s butter-flavored.

I haven’t tried them yet, but I know I’m going to. I’ll give a full report in a future column.

The Whopperito

What do you get when you combine Burger King’s Whopper with a burrito? You might get indigestion, but you definitely get the Whopperrito. That’s right, the fast food chain has put together those two products and come up with a new concoction for those late-night munchie runs. It’s not available everywhere yet; Burger King is testing it in several Pennsylvania locations.

They could have gone with a different name that combines both foods, though “The Burper” probably wouldn’t have gone over as well.

Night of the Gun

Writer and media columnist David Carr passed away in February 2015. He was a beloved figure in the media world, not just for his fine work for The New York Times and other publications, but also for his memoir, Night of the Gun, a hard-hitting and unflinching look at his many years of addiction.

Now that book will become an AMC mini-series. The network announced the film this week. Better Call Sauls Bob Odenkirk will play Carr, and the book will be adapted by Shawn Ryan, creator of The Shield.

Hey, Lets Spend the Night at Bing Crosbys House!

I bet you’ve seen a celebrity home on television and wished you could own it. Or maybe you simply just want to visit it and maybe stay for one night? Well, thanks to Airbnb and Luxury Rentals by Homeaway, you can.

For a rather large fee, you can spend the night in the home of a classic celebrity. Want to see how Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz lived? It will cost you $1000 a night. Want to have a ring-a-ding time at Frank Sinatra’s? That’s $2,450 a night. Too much? You can stay at Ava Gardner’s place for only $85 a night.

Its Negroni Week

The Negroni is a drink you don’t really hear much about anymore. Have you ordered one recently or heard anyone order one? A lot of people have probably never even heard of it, but it’s really a solid, classic cocktail that should be ordered more. The recipe is pretty simple, and you can make one this weekend for Negroni Week, which ends on Sunday:

  • 1 oz. Campari
  • 1 oz. gin
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth

Combine ingredients in a rocks glass with ice and stir. Throw in an orange peel or slice if you want.

Goes great with a Whopperrito.

Upcoming Events and Anniversaries

Miranda Warning established (June 13, 1966)

The “You have the right to remain silent…” warning given by police after they arrest you arose from the case of Ernesto Arturo Miranda.

President Harding broadcasts first presidential radio message (June 14, 1922)

EarlyRadioHistory.us has a complete history of the radio address, including a photo that shows where all of the microphones were placed.

Battle of Bunker Hill (June 17, 1775)

The line “Don’t shoot ’til you see the whites of their eyes” wasn’t really spoken at the battle.

Stan Laurel born (June 16, 1890)

Steve Coogan will play the legendary comic in a new BBC movie about Laurel and Hardy. Hardy will be played by John C. Reilly.

O.J. Simpson arrested (June 17, 1994)

O.J.: Made in America, a new, critically acclaimed five-part documentary on Simpson’s life and the murder case, debuts tomorrow night on ABC.

Napoleon defeated at Waterloo (June 18, 1815)

After his loss, the General was sent to live in exile on the island of St. Helena, where he died of stomach cancer in 1821.

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  • I agree with your comments and observations on technology in the first paragraph. I’m sorry I couldn’t access more than a few sentences from your Wall Street Journal link without their making me jump through hoops to be able to read the rest, so here’s my take on it which I’m sure is just as good:

    It’s really pathetic that instead of technology being used in a “set it and forget it” manner the way it was through the ’80s or as a means to get something done or accomplished and that was it, it’s now the technology itself for many people that’s everything and they have NO other life aside from it. Technology has been around a long time, but only fairly recently has it been the sick, all-consuming addictive (frankly) fetish it is now. Gimmick after never ending gimmick.

    The idea of having conversations making fun of old phones, records or CD’s from people today today is really ironic, since we live in a time now of sheer nothingness, with people that don’t know how to HAVE an actual verbal conversation, or even write/sign their names beyond a pre-school type scribble.

    Furthermore, the tech stuff being used now will surely be made fun of the same way in 2018 if not sooner by still younger people. Why isn’t today’s completely corporate music and films made fun of? I guess the constant selfie takers with fake cyberspace “friends” don’t think about that, or that it’s a bad thing photography has been reduced to the level of meaningless phone selfies, group shots and bad paparazzi shots in The Star, People, etc. These people’s comments judging rotary phones or whatever mean nothing because they themselves mean nothing.

    I’m looking forward to the book Seinfeldia coming out. Loved the book on the Mary Tyler Moore Show, and the show itself even more after reading it. I didn’t know that was possible, but it is.

    Haven’t heard of the Whopperito Bob, until YOUR ‘News’ column. I pretty much steer clear of fast food, and want you to do the same. I haven’t heard of Negroni before, and will have to check it out. Arrivederci.