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News of the Week: Bad Jobs, Summer Books, and How to Talk Like a Soda Jerk

Published: June 8, 2018

But What If I Want to Be a Disc Jockey?

A microphone in a radio studio

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It’s that time of year again, when CareerCast unveils its list of the best and worst jobs. While everyone in the technology or medical fields rejoices and sips champagne, everyone else reaches for the Advil and wonders where it all went wrong.

Here’s the list. Some of the top jobs include Genetic Counselor, Software Developer, and Information Security Analyst. Jobs at the bottom include Taxi Driver, Retail Salesperson, and (sigh) Newspaper Reporter. Though to be accurate, jobs like Newspaper Reporter or Writer or Disc Jockey/Broadcaster have never been secure or high-paying.

This brings up the obvious question: Do you go into a career you love, even if it doesn’t pay a lot and doesn’t have as much of a future, or do you put all that aside and just go into a career that’s growing and pays well? For people graduating from college right about now, there are probably a lot of factors to consider. What excites you the most? How much money do you want to make? And most importantly, how much did your parents pay for your college education, and will they be ticked off if you become a musician?

There’s a book from decades ago titled Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow. I’ve always wanted to believe that, but I think it’s more wishful thinking than anything concrete. Unless, of course, what you love doing is being an Information Security Analyst.

Read This!

Woman reading a book while laying on the beach

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We have a guide from Amazon to 10 great new books in every issue of the Post, and I thought I’d highlight six more you might want to read at the beach this summer. You don’t have to read them at the beach, of course. They’ll still work if you’re on your couch.

  • Calypso, by David Sedaris. The acclaimed essayist is back with several stories on topics that range from playing board games on vacation to the suicide of his sister Tiffany.
  • When Life Gives You Lululemons, by Lauren Weisberger. The author of The Devil Wears Prada (the movie version seems to be on at least one channel every single day, and I have to stop to watch if I come across it) is back with this sequel, which focuses on the Emily Charlton character (played by Emily Blunt in the movie version).
  • Little Boy, by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. The poet says that this new novel is “not a memoir, it’s an imaginary me.” Ferlinghetti recently turned 99 years old, and Sterling Lord, the literary agent he first met in the 1950s, is 97.
  • Lincoln’s Last Trial: The Murder Case That Propelled Him to the Presidency, by Dan Abrams and David Fisher. The legal analyst and co-author Fisher write about the 1859 Illinois murder trial in which Abraham Lincoln served as defense attorney and how it may have led to his presidential bid.
  • Understudy for Death, by Charles Willeford. This crime novel, about a seemingly normal housewife who kills her family, hasn’t been in print in almost 60 years, and Hard Case Crime will release a new version in July. Willeford is also the author of Miami Blues and many other critically acclaimed crime novels.
  • Flash: The Making of Weegee the Famous, by Christopher Bonanos. Bonanos wrote the terrific Instant: The Story of Polaroid, so I have high hopes for this biography about legendary New York City crime scene photographer Arthur Fellig.

Hello?

A phone's receiver lays on a table

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Every few months, I like to complain about smartphones. Sure, the technology is amazing, but I hate what it has done to us.

In this piece for The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal says that, because a lot of people don’t even answer their phones anymore, telephone culture is disappearing. A lot of what he says is a bit foreign to me, like when he talks about not answering the phone or getting many phone calls. I still answer the phone — having just a landline helps — and if I’m busy or out of the house, I have an answering machine that picks up. It’s also odd that he talks about how he doesn’t answer the phone that much because as much as 80 percent of the calls he gets are robocalls, telemarketing calls, and other types of unwanted interruption.

I was struck by his use of the word phone, because he’s talking about his smartphone. When I say “phone,” I’m still referring to the landline in my kitchen. The generic term phone has become the default term for smartphones, because everyone assumes that everyone else has a smartphone. It used to be that everyone had a landline and a smartphone was the second phone. Now it’s the other way around (if they even have a landline at all).

The people that bug me are the ones who have voicemail on their smartphone but never listen to it. Here’s the scenario: I’ll call a family member to make holiday plans — I won’t mention who it is because it’s my sister — and get their voicemail. I’ll leave a detailed message. They call me back later and ask me what I was calling about. I’ll ask them if they listened to the message and they’ll say, “No, I just scrolled and saw that you had called.” So I have to repeat the entire message to them. I would suggest that these people either listen to their voicemail or get rid of it altogether. In this age of texting, social media, and email, I miss normal telephone conversations and interaction.

I also miss busy signals. That may sound weird, but I really do.

Burn One All the Way, and Check Out That Eighty-Seven and a Half

A stylized illustraiton of a soda jerk serving milkshakes to a woman.

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“Burn One All the Way” refers to a chocolate malted with chocolate ice cream, and “Eighty-Seven and a Half” is an attractive girl sitting at a table with her legs crossed. Those are just two of the many slang terms you’ll read about in this entertaining look from Atlas Obscura at the lost lingo of New York City soda jerks. There are many reasons I wished I had lived in the 1930s, ’40s, or ’50s, and this is one of them. Are there still soda jerks today? Maybe a handful somewhere, doing their thing.

You’ll never guess what “Scandal Soup” is. Come on, guess.

 

Changes for Miss America

“We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance.”

That’s the word from Miss America Organization chairwoman Gretchen Carlson, and it makes me wonder what an “inward physical appearance” would mean. The organization thinks it might be sexist and out-of-date to still judge a woman on how she looks in a bikini and evening gown. Now the entire show will just be all of the contestants sitting at desks, taking the SAT. For the talent competition, they’ll be in jeans and a sweatshirt, performing surgery and figuring out algorithms. Well, not exactly, but Carlson says that they’re more interested in “what comes out of their mouths … when they talk about their social-impact initiatives.” Sounds like a fun show.

When the show airs on September 9, I’ll be curious to see if they really avoid judging the women on their physical appearance. Just because they’re not going to be in bathing suits doesn’t mean the contestants won’t be of a certain weight, a certain height, with nice hair and sparkling white teeth.

I think the question is this: Is it possible to be a feminist, to be a supporter of the #MeToo movement, and still want to see Miss America contestants in bikinis?

Roadside America for Sale

A miniature town opened in Shartlesville, Pennsylvania, in 1953. The creator, Laurence Gieringer, kept adding buildings, trains, and other features until it grew and grew and grew. His granddaughter still owns it, and CBS Sunday Morning visited the display this week. Fascinating.

This may be the first time I’ve ever wanted to be an inch tall.

RIP Kate Spade, Robert Mandan, Bernard E. Trainor, William Phipps, and Jerry Maren

Kate Spade was an acclaimed fashion designer known for her popular handbags and other clothing and accessories. She left the company in 2007 and had changed her last name to Valentine to distinguish the Kate Spade line from her new line of accessories, Frances Valentine. She was found dead in her New York City apartment on Wednesday. She was 55.

Robert Mandan was probably best known for his role as Chester Tate on the ABC comedy Soap. He also appeared on such shows as the Three’s Company spinoff Three’s a Crowd, Private Benjamin, and The Facts of Life, as well as many movies and plays. He died April 29 at the age of 86.

General Bernard E. Trainor was a veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars who later became a military analyst for The New York Times, ABC, and NBC. He died last Saturday at the age of 89.

William Phipps appeared in dozens of movies, including Crossfire, War of the Worlds, Executive Suite, and Cinderella as the voice of Prince Charming. He also appeared in many TV shows, including The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, and did voiceover work in commercials. He died last Friday at the age of 96.

Jerry Maren was the last surviving Munchkin from The Wizard of Oz. He appeared in other movies, too, including Battle for the Planet of the Apes and the Marx Brothers’ At the Circus, as well as on TV on Seinfeld, The Gong Show, The Odd Couple, and in many commercials. He also founded the advocacy group Little People of America. Maren died in May at the age of 98.

Quote of the Week

This week’s quote is an entire obituary, and it deserves an OMG:

 

More on the story here.

This Week in History

Shopping Carts Introduced (June 4, 1937)

The first carts were designed by Sylvan N. Goldman, owner of the Humpty Dumpty supermarkets in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Eighty-one years later and people still don’t return them to the carriage corral.

Frank Lloyd Wright born (June 8, 1867)

Here’s a terrific piece by Todd Wilkinson on the famed architect’s long and stormy career.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Graduate (June 6, 1959)

A college graduate in cap and gown holds a diploma in front of a collage of newspaper clippings.

Graduate
Norman Rockwell
June 6, 1959

We should update this classic Norman Rockwell cover, replacing the headlines in the background with more current stories and worries.

It’s National Steakhouse Month

A cooked steak on a plate

(Shutterstock)

What’s your favorite steakhouse?

My favorite — not that I’ve gone to a lot of them — was the Hilltop Steakhouse in Saugus, Massachusetts. It was a gigantic restaurant, at one time the biggest in the country, with a western theme and various rooms with town names (Dodge City, Sioux City, Virginia City, etc.). I was quite sad when it closed in 2013. It’s being replaced by a shopping center and another restaurant, but it won’t be the same.

One thing that remains is the giant iconic sign. It’s staying where it is and is even getting a makeover.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

The Belmont Stakes (June 9)

If Justify wins, he will be the 13th winner of the Triple Crown (the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes) and the first since American Pharaoh in 2015. The race airs at 4 p.m. ET on NBC.

One of the horses competing is named Gronkowski. You can’t even escape that guy at a horse race.

National Ballpoint Pen Day (June 10)

Some day our signatures will be replaced by fingerprints, retinal scans, or giving a blood sample at the supermarket register. Until then, I’m stocking up on pens.

 

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  • Thanks for The Atlantic link on the decline and fall of even the last remnants of any kind of phone etiquette. To borrow a line from Sheryl Crow, “If you’d like to reach me, leave me alone”.

    I really hope Roadside America finds the right new owners. We all know by now that whenever anything is bought up by somebody else, watch out…

    Unfortunately the only thing not changing about ‘Miss America’ is that it’s my 2nd favorite Styx song. Next year, what will she do when she has been forgotten? I really don’t know… or care. They might as well have Gloria Allred running the whole damn pageant herself at this point!

    Bob Taylor addressed the shocking elephant in the living room beautifully. I’m sorry things couldn’t have been resolved when she was alive though, as to have made such drastic, permanent remarks unnecessary; or at least greatly toned down for some semblance of dignity.

  • Bob Taylor

    Sorry, but my sympathies are with the Dehmlow children, not with their mother. Obituaries such as hers should be cautionary for the rest of us.