News of the Week: Darth Vader, Distraction, and the Diet of Tom Brady

The Force awakens Twitter rants, a new book explores the mind’s relationship to digital distraction, and Tom Brady speaks out on sugary beverages and cereal. More in this week’s pop culture roundup.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I can’t believe it’s the end of October already. Christmas will be here before you know it. And that’s when the new Star Wars sequel opens, on December 18. Here’s the official trailer:

Fans already have their theories about the trailer. People are examining it more than the Zapruder film. There’s Darth Vader’s helmet! Why is Leia crying? Hey, why does that character have that light saber? The big question is: where’s Luke? He doesn’t seem to be on the poster, and he might not even be in the trailer, though that might be him at 1:40, his repaired hand on R2D2. There must a reason for the secrecy involving the character. Does he look different? Is he in hiding? Has he (gulp) gone over to the dark side and is now the bad guy?

Io9 has a shot-by-shot breakdown of the trailer, which debuted during Monday Night Football, which made some fans unhappy. If you’re the type who likes to argue about things, you can read why some people want you to boycott the film because it’s “anti-white”.

If you plan to see it on opening day, you’re not alone. Believe it or not, fans are already buying tickets. May the Fandango be with them.

man using a laptop, a tablet, and a smartphone at once

The Age of Distraction

Many people are under the impression that because of all of the technological advances we …

I’m sorry, I had to check my e-mail. What was I saying?

Oh yes, distraction. Sure, we’ve always found things to help us kill our attention spans, but not at the level we do now. We’ve been programmed to believe that multi-tasking is actually a good thing, and we can do everything everywhere now because we carry our phones, our mail, our files, our TVs, our music, and our computers around with us in our pockets 24/7. There’s no downtime anymore. We’re always “on” and there’s always something new to distract us.

The new book The World Beyond Your Head by Matthew B. Crawford, argues that, as The Los Angeles Review of Books says, “we are living through an unprecedented crisis of attention.” And as a simple test, see if you can get through that entire review without getting antsy or skimming it or clicking away. A lot of people are having trouble reading anything longform now, because we’ve gotten so used to short social media posts and texts and smartphones and other forms of quick gratification.

The Typewriter Revolution by Richard Polt
The Typewriter Revolution by Richard Polt

The Typewriter Revolution

One thing you can do if you find yourself easily distracted is … buy a typewriter! This is a particularly good idea if you’re a writer and you don’t want to be distracted by email and Facebook and the latest news and games and various alerts and just want to concentrate on the words on the page. Sure, you can’t surf the Web on a Smith Corona — and the only “app” you might use is Wite-Out — but that’s kinda the point.

The Typewriter Revolution is a new book by typewriter expert and historian Richard Polt. In it, Polt not only explains how to choose the best typewriter and care for it, but he delves into the history of the machines, the famous people who used them in the past and the people who use them now, from novel writers to people who have typewriter blogs and host Type-In social events.

There’s a typewriter renaissance that’s been happening the past few years. Younger people are starting to love the machines because it’s not another screen they have to look at, and many people are discovering that unlike computers, they don’t get obsolete or break down or become disposable. Also, typewriters are works of art with different personalities.

Maybe we should thank Tom Hanks for the renewed interest in typewriters. He collects them and even created the Hanx Writer iPad app to bring the machines into the 21st century.

The Tom Brady Diet

A great philosopher, I think it was Aristotle, once said, “Don’t trust anyone who eats kale for breakfast.” And I guess that would include New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who has let us know exactly what he eats and doesn’t eat to keep in shape.

What does he like? Kale for breakfast, raw macaroons, and avocado-based ice cream. What does he avoid? Coca-Cola, which he calls “poison,” and Frosted Flakes, which he implies isn’t food (30:07). Let’s hope Coca-Cola and Kellogg’s don’t advertise at Gillette Stadium.

Doesn’t he know Frosted Flakes are grrrrrrrrrrrrrreat?

October 21, 2015

Universal Studios
Universal Studios

While the Star Wars movies are set in the past (a long time ago…), Back to the Future II was set, at least partly, in the future. October 21, 2015, to be exact. Well, it was the future in the movie. For us, the future is this week.

What did the movie get right in its depiction of 2015 life? Well, we have video-phone calls but still no hoverboards. We have video games that we can play without our hands, like Kinect, but no Jaws 19 (though Universal did create a trailer for it) We have video glasses in the form of Google Glass and virtual reality headsets (though they’re not mainstream yet), but no double neckties (thank God). The Washington Post has a good rundown of what the film got right and got wrong. The movie didn’t predict the Web either, but you can still get a print USA Today.

In the movie, the Chicago Cubs win the 2015 World Series, but … well, sorry, Cubs fans.

If you can’t get enough of all things Back to the Future, there’s a new documentary called Back in Time that includes interviews with the cast and crew and goes behind the scenes of all three movies.

Die Hard 6: An Idea That Should Die Hard

Contrary to popular belief, a movie sequel isn’t always a bad idea. After all, From Russia, With Love was a sequel to Dr. No, and we’ve had several more James Bond sequels since then, and we don’t have a problem with them, right? And everyone loves when there’s a new Avengers or Mission: Impossible, so if they’re well-made, sequels can be really great. Prequels, on the other hand … well, just look at the three Star Wars prequels. Prequels are often bad because they try to act as both prequel and sequel at the same time. If it’s done well, it’s fantastic. If it’s done poorly, then it can put a bad taste in your mouth about the films that came before (after?) it.

But that’s not stopping people from giving us Die Hard 6, which is in the works. What a terrible idea.

The plot? It’s an origin story! We’ll get to see young John McClane (hopefully played by another actor and not Bruce Willis in a bad wig) and the adventures he got into as a young cop in ’70s New York City. Besides the fact the last couple of Die Hard flicks weren’t that great and should have been a sign the series should just go away quietly, the plot goes against what happened in the original. McClane was a Joe Everybody, a non-hero suddenly finding himself in an incredible situation. And now we’re going to go back and see him battling bad guys and saving the day when he was in his 20s? If Willis is in it he might be in scenes in the beginning and end of the film, as an older McClane looking back.

No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Also: no.


October Is National Cookie Month

In honor of the new Star Wars film, how about some cookie recipes centered around characters from the film? Here’s a how-to video on how to make Darth Vader cookies, and here’s a page that shows you how to make R2D2 and light saber cookies. If you want to be really accurate with your cookies, get the Star Wars cookie cutters. You can make a Back to the Future cookie too.

Sorry, I couldn’t find any recipes for Die Hard cookies. If you do, let me know.

Upcoming Events and Anniversaries

Pablo Picasso born (October 25, 1881)
This site says that when it comes to art, Picasso was “probably the most important person of the 20th century.”

Opening of NYC subway (October 27, 1904)
If you don’t live in New York City, its subway system can seem awfully confusing. has a lot of great info to make it a little clearer, along with some great historical photos.

Theodore Roosevelt born (October 27, 1858)
After President McKinley was assassinated, Roosevelt became the 26th president of the United States.

Stock market crash (October 28, 1929)
Known as Black Monday, the dark day led to the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds broadcast (October 30, 1938)
Here’s the complete audio of the broadcast that many thought was a real newscast and that we were actually being invaded.

Halloween (October 31)
The once fun day has been hijacked by grown-ups and just isn’t the same.

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  1. The Matthew B. Crawford book ‘The World Beyond Your Head’ looks like an interesting read on the ‘killing of attention spans’. Thanks for including the great link here Jeff Nilsson wrote just last month on this.

    The ‘Typewriter Revolution’ is pretty interesting, and something any real writer should be happy about. Last December’s POST got me handwriting letters again due to a feature in that issue. I found I liked it, and am sorry I’d let several years go only writing by e-mail.

    Tom Brady’s probably on the right track overall in his desire for a healthier diet. The avacado ice cream sounds like something I’d like to check out. Sugar Frosted Flakes are kind of of an occasional treat, usually sprinkled on top of healthy cereals (I know it sounds like a contradiction… but sometimes it IS grrreat!) I like having a Mexican Coke here and there, usually followed before and after a glass of Crystal Geyser though.

    Of course ‘Die Hard 6’ is bad idea that should die hard. I agree with nearly everything you said about it. The idea of Bruce in a bad wig playing the character (with a straight face) as a man in his twenties is absolutely perfect for this long ago played-out movie franchise.

    He could still be in it (as you suggested) at the beginning and end in his present age in a brief cameo role, but still play a 22-25 year old from several decades ago for nearly all of the fim. It would be brilliant in its unintentional/unwanted funniness the studio/producers NEVER intended, which is the best of all. Hopefully you see it my way too Bob, after reading this. How could you not?


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