If you had told me in the late ’80s and early ’90s, when I was using an Apple computer to put out a homemade music zine and maybe play a few games, that in 30 years that same Apple was going to make our phones, store our music and movies, provide us with news, and even get into credit cards, I would have … actually, I would have totally believed it. When you’re a nerdy guy and read a lot of science fiction, you believe things like that (though I also thought we’d have jet packs by now).
This week Apple announced all of their new tech goodies. I won’t get into detail about their new streaming service, their news subscription service, their arcade, and their (yes) credit card — you can read all about it at The Verge — but I do have a word to say about how everything old is new again.
I love all of this stuff, and I’m sure there’s going to be a customer base for most of it, but I do wonder if anyone in tech understands that they seem to be inventing things that have already been invented. Remember when everyone was going to “cut the cord” on cable TV because we didn’t need all those channels and it cost too much? Welcome to a world where we have Apple TV, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, CBS All Access, Hulu, YouTube, cell phones, and all the other services we pay for. And that’s not even counting the dozen new services that will pop up by the time you finish reading this paragraph. It’s like all of these companies are, well, inventing cable TV. It reminds me of when Twitter started letting users send private communications to each other with unlimited characters, via a direct message. I’m old enough to remember when that was called “email.”
I also have to laugh a little bit when Apple promotes this new news service as being “curated by humans.” Imagine: news presented to us by editors and not algorithms! What’s next, is the online retail giant Amazon going to open brick-and–mortar bookstores? Tonight we’re gonna party like it’s 1959.
I have an idea that might sound crazy, but hear me out. What about we have a news product with a flat fee that’s delivered straight to your doorstep every single day? It will be printed on this technology called “paper” that won’t be glitchy or suddenly unavailable and can’t be hacked. This publication will have news and articles and opinions and comics created by the top people in the industry, and as you read it, the paper won’t suddenly freeze or throw an ad in front of your face or have other people who are reading their own copy of the same paper suddenly scream their opinions at you. You can read it offline without any electrical power or battery, and when you’re done with it, you can cut out the articles and save them in a scrapbook or recycle the paper or even use it to train your new puppy. A fresh paper with new information and entertainment is delivered to your home the very next day.
I don’t know, it’s worth a shot. If Apple did something like that, it would suddenly be hip.
The American Crossword Puzzle Tournament
This is the big tournament, held every year and directed by the most famous name in crossword puzzles, Will Shortz of The New York Times. The winner of the 42nd annual contest last week was Dan Feyer. It’s his eighth title. Last year’s winner, Erik Agard, came in 6th this year.
The tournament wasn’t without controversy. It’s divided into three different divisions — A, B, and C — and the results for the B division were nullified because there was a scoring error in the preliminary round.
Woodstock at 50 (The Concert, Not the Bird)
I was going to type “Can you believe it’s been 50 years since Woodstock?!?” Then I thought, yeah, actually, it does seem like it’s been 50 years.
They’re having a special concert to celebrate, and the list of performers has been announced. It includes several names that played at the 1969 concert, such as Santana, John Fogerty, Hot Tuna, John Sebastian, Canned Heat, and Country Joe McDonald. Robert Plant is going to be there too, though Led Zeppelin’s manager refused to let them play at the original show.
Of course, you can’t have this concert with just bands that were at the first show (Jimi Hendrix isn’t touring anymore), so we’ll also see modern performers like The Black Keys, Jay-Z, Chance the Rapper, and Miley Cyrus.
I’m wondering if there’s any overlap between people that love Hot Tuna and people that love Miley Cyrus.
By the way, we’re going to have a special issue in July to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, with some great pictures and behind-the-scenes info. Hey, this would be a great time to subscribe!
The Boston Public Library Now Has a Bar
I haven’t been to my local library in many, many years. I feel bad about this, but I buy most of my books, and for research I stare at this screen in front of me. Maybe if the place served alcohol, I’d go more often.
That’s what the Boston Public Library is doing. Their Map Room has been turned into a cocktail lounge and restaurant with a literary theme. One of the drinks is called Catcher in the Rye.
80 Years of View-Master
It might be hard for younger people to understand now, but at one point the View-Master was the most exciting technology a kid could have. You mean I can stare into these red things that look like binoculars and see actual pictures? And in 3D? How does it work? Like many futuristic things, it was introduced at the 1939 World’s Fair.
I remember getting the View-Master for Christmas and looking at all of the different cardboard reels I could insert. Besides historical and nature reels, there were reels for TV shows like Mannix, Happy Days, and Adam-12!
RIP Larry Cohen, Scott Walker, and Ranking Roger
Larry Cohen was probably best known as the director and writer of horror movies like It’s Alive!, A Return to Salem’s Lot, and God Told Me To, but people might be surprised that he also created TV shows like The Invaders, Coronet Blue, and Branded, and wrote for Columbo, The Rat Patrol, Kraft Theater, Surfside 6, and The Defenders. He died Saturday at the age of 82.
Scott Walker sang a couple of songs you haven’t heard in a while, but I bet you love: “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” and “Make It Easy on Yourself.” He later became an experimental musician and influenced bands like Radiohead and David Bowie. He died recently at the age of 76.
Roger Charlery — aka Ranking Roger — was the lead singer of the ska bands English Beat (“Mirror in the Bathroom”) and General Public (“Tenderness”). He also had a solo hit in the late ’80s with “So Excited.” He died this week at the age of 56.
Commercial of the Week
I don’t know what I like more about this ad, the fact that when tennis star Roger Federer finds himself at a boring party he decides to go into the kitchen to cook, or the fact that he carries a box of Barilla pasta around with him at all times. You know, for emergencies.
This Week in History
OK Makes First Appearance (March 23, 1839)
You’ve probably never thought about where the word OK comes from, even though you probably use it 100 times a week. It was first used in a humor piece published in the Boston Morning Post.
First Walk of Fame Star (March 28, 1960)
A lot of people think that Joanne Woodward got the first star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but the actual first one went to Stanley Kramer, director of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Inherit the Wind, The Defiant Ones, On the Beach, and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: “New Kind of Cake” (March 29, 1952)
Well, that’s a rather colorful ad for a cake mix. In fact, the recipe is for “Colorvision Cake,” with Colorvision referring to the recipe for the icing (though it sounds like a technology a television would have). Betty Crocker doesn’t make Party Cake Mix anymore, but they do have Party Rainbow Chip.
Okay (or OK), it’s not a Colorvision Cake, but this sounds pretty good too, and you can make it today to celebrate National Lemon Chiffon Cake Day. You can try the recipe at Allrecipes or this one from Taste of Home.
If lemon isn’t your thing, you can also celebrate National Black Forest Cake Day with this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. That holiday was actually yesterday, but you don’t have to tell your family that.
Next Week’s Holidays and Events
April Fools’ Day (April 1)
Bored Panda has a list of 51 great pranks you can pull on your friends and family. Note: number 4 might get you arrested, or at the very least a punch in the face.
International Children’s Book Day (April 2)
The official IBBY site — with IBBY standing for International Board on Books For Young People — says that this day was created in 1967 and is celebrated “on or around Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday.”
Featured image courtesy of Apple.
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