News of the Week: Swank Smart-gear, Sam Simon, and Stolen Songs

A wristwatch with a $16,600 price range, writer’s heartfelt goodbye to a good friend, and why 21st-century songwriters “got to give it up” in the weekly current events roundup.

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The Apple Watch

Image courtesy of Apple
Image courtesy of Apple

I’ve been an avid user of Apple products since 1987, and I’m one of those people that still wears a wristwatch (we’re a vanishing breed). But I still have no desire for the new Apple Watch. I’m not someone who needs to access the Web or apps or a dozen other things the watch does from outside my home, and I certainly don’t want to have to also carry around my iPhone just to use my watch (some of the apps won’t work unless you have an iPhone in your pocket).

PC Magazine has a list of the things you need to know about the new tech gadget, and if you do want one, Macworld has a guide on which of the 38 different models is best for you.

Prices for the watch range from $350 for the low-end model to $17,000 for a rose-gold one. Note: You could spend $17,000 for a gold Apple Watch if you want, or you could buy 500 Timex watches and still have money left over for a nice dinner.

RIP, Sam Simon

Simon was one of the most important forces behind The Simpsons. The show was created by Matt Groening, but much of the show’s success is due to Simon. He not only had the cast record each show as an ensemble (unlike many animated shows and movies where the cast records voice work separately), he hired many of the show’s writers and helped set the tone for the series. Even though he left the show after four seasons, his named can still be seen in the credits as one of the three people who developed the show, along with Groening and James L. Brooks. Simon battled colon cancer for several years and passed away on Sunday, March 8, at the age of 59.

Emmy Award-winning TV writer and author Ken Levine worked with Simon on Cheers and The Simpsons, among others. Levine has written a great — as usual — post about what Simon was like and how important he was to The Simpsons.

I Hate These “Blurred Lines”

Robin Thicke performing Debby Wong /
Robin Thicke performing
Debby Wong /

What we all suspected (or should I say what we all knew?) was finally confirmed by a federal jury this week: Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams’ hit song “Blurred Lines” actually ripped off the classic Marvin Gaye song “Got to Give It Up.” The copyright damages amount to $4 million. In addition, Thicke was ordered to pay $1.8 million of his profits and Williams $1.6 million. The Hollywood Reporter has an interesting rundown of what happened at the trial, from what the defense’s strategy was to how much money the song has made to date. It actually wasn’t the only Gaye song the two were accused of stealing.

Whatever side you’re on, I hope we can all agree on this: “Blurred Lines” is a terrible, terrible song. Even if they didn’t swipe the song from Gaye, they should still pay millions in damages for unleashing the tune on the public.


The new George Clooney movie has been a big secret for the past several months, with only a teaser trailer and the usual guesses about what the movie was about from film blogs to get us interested. Now Disney has released a full-length trailer for the Brad Bird-directed film, and it looks fantastic.

Today Is National Chicken Noodle Soup Day


It was in the mid-50s in Gloucester, Massachusetts, today, with a stronger sun than we’ve seen in several months and the snow finally beginning to melt away. I actually went to the store without a jacket. Not exactly chicken noodle soup weather, but we all know that the winter isn’t quite done with us yet so there’s still time to make it on one of these cold nights.

Here’s a recipe from Betty Crocker, and here’s one ​from Smitten Kitchen. Jamie Oliver has a twist on the traditional recipe, one that includes lots of seasonal greens like spinach and kale.

By the way, what you’ve heard is true: Chicken noodle soup really is good for a cold.

The Ides of March


This Sunday is March 15; and while people have a vague feeling that it’s bad luck for some reason, in Roman times the ides of March was just another way of saying March 15. A lot of people don’t really know what the ides of March refers to, they only know that we’re supposed to “beware” of them. Here’s a rundown of what exactly it all means.

It has to do with Julius Caesar.

Upcoming Anniversaries and Events

The Scarlet Letter published (March 16, 1850)

You can read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel for free at Project Gutenberg.

John Updike born (March 18, 1932)

The John Updike Society is a terrific resource about the celebrated author, and The Atlantic has a fascinating account of a man who went through the author’s trash.

Republican Party founded (March 20, 1854)

Wikipedia has an exhaustive history of the political party.​

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