News of the Week: Newspaper Clippings, Private Concerts, and the Rise of the Synthespians

In the news for the week ending June 9, 2023, are the next step in virtual reality, a TV memorabilia auction, the first drive-in theater, homemade candy, and more.


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New Tech vs. Old Tech

This was a week of tech news, both futuristic and retro.

Apple announced their new AR/VR headset, which costs $3,500, the price of an old used car. I have no interest. I’m an Apple fan from way back and I will always use their products (I’m typing this on their newest laptop with the M2 chip!), but I’m not going to spend that much money (or any money) on something I strap to my head. I already look at enough screens during the day, I don’t need one two inches from my retinas.

Of course, a product like this isn’t really for someone like me. I don’t play video games and I have no interest in any sort of virtual reality-type setup that will allow me to make phone calls or cook a meal with the recipe showing on the screen. But if Apple invents a Jetsons flying car or Foodarackacycle, I’m all in.

Many people, thankfully, still like the old ways of doing things, and I was heartened to read this piece in the Wall Street Journal (behind a paywall but you might be able to read it if you haven’t used up your free articles for the month) about people who still clip things out of print newspapers and snail mail them to family and friends. I love that! It’s rare but I love getting articles and recipes (and letters) through the mail. You can email someone a link to an article but it’s not the same.

And hey, It’s one way to beat a paywall.

Batman, Archie Bunker, and Jeannie

I swear I’m not trying to turn this column into one about old TV and movie sets and props being auctioned off, but this is the third week in a row that I’ll be talking about it.

The Tonight Show set I told you about went for $275,000, while the bar set from Cheers went for a whopping $675,000. And if you think that’s a lot, the costumes worn by Adam West and Burt Ward on the Batman TV show went for a very close amount, $615,000.

The living room set from All in the Family went for $125,000. Archie and Edith’s chairs went to the same buyer for $250,000, even though they’re from the last season. They couldn’t auction off the originals because they’re in the Smithsonian.

Other items included barware from Mad Men, props from Star Trek, and Jeannie’s bottle from season 1 of I Dream of Jeannie. Everything was from the collection of James Comisar and brought in around $5 million.

Got Millions? You Can Book a Top Band!

How would you like The Rolling Stones or Flo Rida to play your son’s bar mitzvah, or maybe Sting to play at your wedding? Now you can! Top bands will actually play a private concert for you.

(Just don’t have Sting play “Every Breath You Take” at your wedding; it’s actually a song about stalking and obsession. “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” is also a poor choice.)

It just goes to show that you can indeed get anything if you have enough money. Of course, you’ll have to invite your neighbors, even the ones you don’t like, so they don’t complain about the noise.

I’ll perform at your party, and I’ll only charge $240. I can’t play an instrument, but I can juggle and I do a pretty good Elmer Fudd impersonation.

Word of the Week

Too bad the spelling bee kids didn’t get this word last week. Synthespian is a word made from synthetic and thespian. I’ve been seeing it lately in articles about deceased actors being re-created for films, actors being made to look younger in films, and in stories about AI. But after a little digging, I found out that the word is actually quite old. The New Yorker used it in this 1997 story about Star Wars; the New York Times used it in this 2001 piece; and CinemaBlend used it in this 2014 article about the Terminator movies. And I’m sure there are other examples too. So maybe it’s just new to me?

Still a great word, though.

RIP George Winston, Pat Robertson, Cynthia Weil, Barry Newman, Pat Cooper, Astrud Gilberto, Roger Craig, Dickie Harrell, and Robert Hanssen

George Winston was a popular pianist and composer known for his melodic, soothing seasonal albums, including December, Autumn, and Winter into Spring. He died Sunday at the age of 73.

Pat Robertson was an influential Christian conservative and host of the long-running CBN show The 700 Club. He also ran for president in 1988. He died yesterday at the age of 93.

Cynthia Weil co-wrote (with husband Barry Mann) such songs as “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” “On Broadway,” “Walking in the Rain,” and “Somewhere Out There.” She also wrote with other partners, including songs for Dolly Parton, Lionel Richie, and Hanson. She died last week at the age of 82.

Uploaded to YouTube by Righteous Brothers – Topic

Barry Newman starred in the cult film Vanishing Point and the ’70s NBC drama Petrocelli. He died last month at the age of 92.

Pat Cooper was a veteran stand-up comic and head of the Friars Club roasts. He died Tuesday at the age of 93.

Astrud Gilberto sang the classic bossa nova song “The Girl from Ipanema.” She died this week at the age of 83.

Pitcher Roger Craig started the last game for the Brooklyn Dodgers and the first game for the New York Mets. He won three World Series, two for the Dodgers and one for the Cardinals, and later became a coach and manager. He died last week at the age of 93.

Dickie Harrell was a drummer who played on the Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps song “Be-Bop-A-Lula” and influenced everyone from Led Zeppelin to The Stray Cats. He died last week at the age of 82.

Robert Hanssen was a former FBI agent convicted of spying in 2002. He died Monday at the age of 79.

This Week in History

Robert Kennedy Assassinated (June 5, 1968)

Here’s a remembrance by Post editor Thomas B. Congdon, written shortly after Kennedy’s death.

First Drive-In Theater Opens (June 6, 1933)

Makeshift drive-ins had existed before, but the first official drive-in business was in New Jersey and was owned by Richard M. Hollingshead Jr., who received a patent for his invention just a month before.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Life Savers (June 6, 1953)

There’s a lifeguard shortage this summer, but I don’t think this is the answer.

I Want Candy

I don’t know if any of you actually take the time to make your own candy, but June is National Candy Month so … here you go!

Shugary Treats has a recipe for Cool Whip Candy (Cool Whip folded into milk and dark chocolate to make a sort-of fudge), and The Spruce Eats has Homemade Almond Joy Candy Bars. You can learn how to make your own Peppermint Patties from Dinner at the Zoo, while Insanely Good Recipes has a, well, insanely good recipe for Homemade Peanut Butter Cups.

And if the ad above has you hankering for Life Savers, make these Life Savers Lollipops from Ricardo Cuisine.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

French Open Finals (June 10 and 11)

The women’s final airs on NBC Saturday at 9 a.m. ET, and the men’s final airs at the same time and place on Sunday.

Tony Awards (June 11)

The 76th annual show airs at 8 p.m. ET on CBS and Paramount+.

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  1. I saw the AR/VR headset demo on the national news earlier this week. I’d love to try it out myself for a kick at no cost, but otherwise at almost $4k (with tax) NO thank you. The whole movie/tv set for sale thing has really gotten out of control. 57 year old Batman costumes for over $600k? Whoever’s buying these things has too much money on their hands.

    Booking a top band for millions. No thank you, again. You Want Candy. I want Candy-O, so there ya go. I could treat several friends to go see them for around $200. The price is right. Let’s Go. Beautiful 1953 Life Savers ad in its simplicity, isn’t it? Too bad about the lifeguard shortage and the public pools having to be closed as a result.

    Kids today just can’t catch a break. I don’t know if any of the Olympic-sized pools have any kind of diving boards anymore (I doubt it), but being outside, getting exercise while having fun in the pool isn’t something they should be deprived of. It’s good for their mental health when it’s desperately needed, and reducing unhealthy screen time is only to the good.

    How about some of the ‘too rich’ out there help by using their resources to help these kids have SOME fun this summer at the public pools? It would make being a kid now that much less of a total bummer. Something for the common good.


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