Point-and-Click Is Great, But We Need Brick-and-Mortar Too
I hope I don’t talk about Barnes & Noble too much in these columns. I do it because I love books and I love bookstores and it would really be sad if the stores went away and all we had were the online retailers for our reading. Sure, independent stores seem to be thriving, but big chains are failing, and Barnes & Noble is one of the very few major bookstore chains still around.
This week, Barnes & Noble was sold to the hedge fund Elliott Management for $638 million. This really worries me, and I’m not even sure what a hedge fund is. Will they put money into the stores and turn things around, keeping the stores open for many years to come? Or are they just buying it for other “business” reasons and we’ll see dozens of stores closed and the company eventually go out of business anyway? Elliott Management does own the U.K. chain Waterstones, and the CEO has some ideas to save B&N the way he saved that chain. He wants to get rid of unprofitable books (boo) and redesign the stores and make them smaller (yay).
If the CEO is looking for ideas from a regular shopper, I’d start with bigger tables in the cafe and paper towels in the men’s room.
I Can’t Think of a “Fire” Pun That Hasn’t Been Used Already
This is one of the best articles you’ll read this week.
When a fire burned through much of the Universal Studios backlot 11 years ago, all of the attention was paid to the movies that were lost and the iconic sets that were damaged (including the Courthouse Square set used in the Back to the Future movies and many other films). But did you know that a massive amount of music was lost, too?
Jody Rosen at The New York Times has all of the details on all of the original master recordings that were lost in the blaze, started accidentally by workers using blowtorches, and much of this is being reported for the first time, from secret documents that Rosen has obtained. In fact, many news reports at the time downplayed the losses. Rosen says that many original recordings from Universal Music Group, originals that can’t be replaced, were lost. Depending on which source you believe, anywhere from 118,000 to 500,000 recordings are gone, including all of the original masters by Buddy Holly, music by Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, Chuck Berry, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, the Mills Brothers, Benny Goodman, the Andrews Sisters, Fats Domino, Elton John, the Police, and REM, as well as Etta James’s “At Last,” Bill Haley and the Comets’ “Rock Around the Clock,” and … well, way too many to list here. Let’s just say it’s a jaw-dropping collection, and includes very rare blues, gospel, and spoken-word recordings.
It’s a long read, but a fascinating one.
What Is “The Wife Guy?”
The best part of not being on social media is that you don’t have to keep up with all of the latest memes, viral videos, and trendy “hot topics” that are suddenly being discussed by everyone. Of course, since this is the internet, it’s almost impossible to avoid them because they seep over to other sites you may frequent (like the one you’re reading right now).
The latest popular “thing” is something (or someone) called “The Wife Guy.” According to definitions in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and New York, Wife Guys are men who “make themselves famous for things their wife did, or qualities their wives have or had.” I think I know what they’re talking about, but a question: Are there also “Husband Gals?”
Now that I’ve told you about this new thing sweeping the web, you can forget about it and go back to living your lives normally.
Maybe TV Really Is Bad for You
A study published this week by the National Institutes of Health says that leaving the TV on while you’re asleep may actually make you gain weight. They studied 44,000 women and found that there was an average gain of 11 pounds over a five-year period in bedrooms where a TV or a light was kept on.
Now, it’s not that hearing infomercials for bathroom products we never knew we needed or fashionable Pajama Jeans at 2 a.m. can make you pack on a few pounds, it’s actually the exposure to the light from the screen. We need the darkness during the night to help with our sleep patterns, blood pressure, and metabolism.
Of course, this is one of those medical “problems” that has an easy fix. I call it “shutting off your TV.”
Update on Marty the Robot
A few months ago, I told you about Marty the Robot, the new “employee” roaming the aisles of my local Stop & Shop, alerting coworkers to messes that needed to be cleaned up and how the store is running low on Froot Loops. This week, New Food Economy looked into Marty to try to figure out why the supermarket chain even needs a robot when humans could do the work. Could it be that robots are cheaper? Well, the robots each cost $35,000, but they’re probably cheaper in the long run. Could it be that robots don’t go on strike like the human Stop & Shop employees did recently?
I can tell where this is going just from my own shopping experiences at the store. They never have enough registers open — ever — but they have a robot roaming the store and six self-checkout lanes that are always open. You do the math.
My favorite part of the piece is when they point out that the googly eyes attached to the front of Marty are an attempt to humanize him and make him look “friendly,” but all they end up doing is making him look even creepier. And I mean that in the nicest way, because when the supermarket robots eventually take over, I want them to know that I’m on their side.
RIP Dr. John, Peggy Stewart, Dennis Day, Robert Earle, Jim McMullan, and William D. Wittliff
Dr. John (real name Mac Rebbenack) was a unique New Orleans musician probably best known for the song “Right Place, Wrong Time.” He died last week at the age of 77.
Peggy Stewart starred in dozens of Westerns in the 1940s, but also appeared in Adam Sandler’s That’s My Boy and TV shows like The Twilight Zone, Frasier, Seinfeld, and Justified. She died last month at the age of 95.
A sad story out of Oregon. Police there have identified the body found in a home in April as that of original Mouseketeer Dennis Day. He had gone missing last July. Day was 76.
Robert Earle was the moderator of the popular TV quiz show College Bowl. He died last week at the age of 93.
Jim McMullan appeared in such movies as Downhill Racer and Shenandoah and TV shows like Dallas, Daniel Boone, Chopper One, and The Young and the Restless. He died last month at the age of 82.
William D. Wittliff wrote the screenplays for The Black Stallion, The Perfect Storm, and Legends of the Fall, and well as the TV miniseries Lonesome Dove. He died Sunday at the age of 79.
This Week in History
Writer George Axelrod Born (June 9, 1922)
Axelrod was best known for writing the play The Seven Year Itch and the screenplays for Breakfast at Tiffany’s and The Manchurian Candidate, but he also wrote three novels, one of which, a crime novel titled Blackmailer, I just picked up.
UNIVAC 1 Computer Unveiled (June 14, 1951)
This computer is pretty important in the history of technology, even if it didn’t have a cute name and googly eyes.
This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: “June Is Dairy Month” (June 10, 1961)
If you thought the food and drink holidays I mention each week are modern inventions, here’s an ad from 58 years ago that shows that these days have always been a thing.
Ketchup Ice Cream
And to celebrate Dairy Month, you’ll want to make a cool, refreshing dessert that features the same condiment you put on your burgers and fries.
Yup, it’s Ketchup Ice Cream! It’s from one of my favorite food blogs, The Mid-Century Menu, and was the winner of a Heinz recipe contest decades ago (a big thank you to Mrs. Frank Flynn of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania). It’s pretty easy to make and features Maraschino cherries and toasted almonds. And if your friends and family ask you, “Hey, what’s that other thing I taste?” and you tell them, you can enjoy the expressions on their faces.
It’s also called Heinz Carnival Cream, but that name doesn’t have the same freak-out factor.
Next Week’s Holidays and Events
Father’s Day (June 16)
Why buy him another tie when you could get him a beef jerky flower bouquet instead?
World Sauntering Day (June 19)
Sure, you walk, you run, you may even stroll, but do you ever saunter? That’s a whole different thing. This day was created by W.T. Rabe in 1979 as an answer to the jogging craze.
Featured image: Shutterstock
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