News of the Week: Brisk Verse, Swift Typewriters, and How Gen Z is Trying to Slow Down

In the news of the week ending May 3, 2024, are Derby dishes, recommended reads, and Swiftian supremacy.


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New Books

We have ten fiction and non-fiction picks for you in the current issue of the Post, and here are three more.

Brisk Verse by Garrison Keillor. The writer brings us 132 clever poems about everything from plumbing and Marilyn Monroe to manners and turning 80.

By the way, if you’re not reading Keillor’s column you’re really missing out.

Greatest Hits by Harlan Ellison. If you’re not familiar with the influential writer (who died in 2018), this collection, edited by Babylon 5 creator and executor of Ellison’s estate J. Michael Straczynski, is a great place to start.

Olivetti by Allie Millington. Tom Hanks loved this young adult novel about a sentient typewriter that helps a 12-year-old boy find his missing mother.

The Typing Poets Department

Taylor Swift had 32 songs on the Billboard Top 100 last week. In fact, she controlled the top 14 slots.

That’s … insane. Or maybe Billboard has changed how they measure these things and it’s all based on the decibel levels of teen girls screaming. But either way, it’s an impressive feat, and shows that Swift has more power than some politicians and maybe even Oprah Winfrey.

But does she have enough power to make manual typewriters cool again?

Well, probably not.

First of all, typewriters never lost their coolI’m a big fan myself (shameless plug). And second, just because typewriters feature prominently in the video for the song “Fortnight” and Swift has used typewriters in videos before doesn’t mean that Swifties and others will suddenly say, “Hey, I’m sick of using my laptop and my smartphone, I think it’s time to get an Olivetti or Smith Corona! Now, how do I change this ribbon?”

But imagine if Swift got on stage during an awards show and ordered her army of fans to go out and buy a manual typewriter! I’m not even sure that would be a good thing. I love typewriters, but I want to keep that community small, and I certainly don’t want to see prices rise just because the queen of broken-heart pop told everyone to go buy one.

I Take Back Everything I’ve Said About Gen Z

But Swift isn’t the only young person who seems to be into retro and old-timey tech and hobbies. (At 34 I guess Swift is a Millennial, though it’s hard to keep track of these generational labels, and anyone under 40 is “young” to me.) Some people in their 20s and 30s are buying flip phones, some are quitting social media, and some are even visiting their public library and taking up needlepoint.

Headline of the Week

“Airline Keeps Mistaking 101-Year-Old Woman for Baby”

RIP Duane Eddy, Paul Auster, Marla Adams, Tony Pigg, Howie Schwab, Bob Cole, Mike Pinder, Adele Faber, and Chan Romero

Duane Eddy was the influential guitarist who had such songs as “Rebel Rouser,” “Forty Miles of Bad Road,” “Because They’re Young,” and versions of the TV themes for Peter Gunn and Have Gun – Will Travel. He died Tuesday at the age of 86.

Uploaded to YouTube by Duane Eddy – Topic

Paul Auster was the critically acclaimed author of such novels as City of GlassGhostsThe Locked Room (his “New York Trilogy”), Leviathan, and The Book of Illusions, as well as the memoir The Invention of Solitude. He also wrote The Story of My Typewriter, about his love for his Olympia manual, and several screenplays. He died Tuesday at the age of 77.

Marla Adams played Abbott family matriarch Dina on The Young and the Restless. She also appeared on Days of Our LivesThe Love Boat, and Happy Days, and in films like Splendor in the Grass and Gotcha! She died last week at the age of 85.

Tony Pigg – real name Richard Quinn – was the announcer on Live with Regis and Kathie Lee/Kelly Ripa and a rock DJ for several decades. He died last week at the age of 85.

Howie Schwab was the ESPN researcher and producer who became the star of his own game show, Stump the Schwab. He died Saturday at the age of 63.

For 50 years, Bob Cole was the “voice of hockey” in Canada. He died last week at the age of 90.

Mike Pinder was the original keyboardist for the Moody Blues, known for such songs as “Nights in White Satin” and “Tuesday Afternoon.” He died last week at the age of 82.

Uploaded to YouTube by Beat-Club

Adele Faber was the author of several bestselling books, including How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk. She died last week at the age of 96.

Chan Romero was the writer of (and the first person to perform) the song “Hippy Hippy Shake.” He died recently at the age of 82.

This Week in History

Ulysses S. Grant Born (April 27, 1822)

A Union soldier who witnessed Robert E. Lee surrendering to Grant at Appomattox, ending the Civil War, wrote about it for the April 6, 1940, issue of the Post.

Empire State Building Opens (May 1, 1931)

The building was completed in only eighteen months and opened 45 days ahead of schedule.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Smith Corona Typewriter (May 2, 1953)

What happens if you didn’t mark “yes” to all of these questions? Were you not ambitious enough? Did your parents not buy you a typewriter?

And They’re Off!

The 150th running of the Kentucky Derby will air Saturday at 2:30 p.m. on NBC. Here’s what to consume while watching “the most exciting two minutes in sports.”

You’ll want to start off with Emeril Lagasse’s Mint Julep, the classic drink of the Derby. You could even create a mint julep station like Martha Stewart (of course Martha Stewart has a mint julep station).

After that you can try this Benedictine Spread (a cream cheese/cucumber dip) from Country Living, and then the Kentucky Hot Brown Macaroni and Cheese from Food & Wine. Taste of Home has a Pimiento Cheese Ball, these Hush Puppies, and some Kentucky Pecan Pie and Bourbon Ice Cream for dessert.

People who call the Kentucky Derby “the most exciting two minutes in sports” have obviously never watched pickleball.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Free Comic Book Day (May 4)

I’m about to turn 59, so why do I have this incredible urge to actually get a comic book this year?

National Cartoonist Day (May 5)

It’s on May 5 to mark the day The Yellow Kid made his debut in the New York World. It’s where we got the term “yellow journalism.”

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  1. Bob – I look forward to this almost more than I look forward to my next issue of the magazine. Keep up the great work.

  2. Thank you for sharing Patricia’s story here. She’s a remarkable woman with a real zest for living and travelling, which I hope will continue for as long as the Lord will allow! I can see (her right) eye is probably the culprit of her vision problems. Hopefully the left eye is still strong.

    I hope the airline will fix the ‘age’ problem here. She’s a good sport, but it’s still a nuisance. My main concern otherwise is that she (nor any of us) fly on any Boeing-made planes! Doors falling off in mid-flight, parts not secured properly and coming off, whistleblowers being killed per knowledge of shoddy workmanship on something this crucial? Shockingly yes, to all of it!!

    The Duane Eddy video is much appreciated. Wonderful guitar (and sexy saxophone) instrumental. Also ‘Nights In White Satin’. So great, it was a hit again in 1972. For me personally, both ‘Nights’ and ‘Tuesday Afternoon’ put me in a pleasant hypnotic trance, especially the flute solo on the former. It definitely has a Renaissance era sound.

    As far as the typewriter goes, see Bob’s July 2022 feature ‘Why (and How) I Use A Typewriter’. I think you should find an excuse to re-link it here on ‘News’ soon. It’s extremely popular with close to 20 comments. I’m sure it’ll get more again; like your landline feature of several years ago.

  3. Duane Eddy was not a bad actor either. Fortunately, I can still hear a lot of his music on XM.

  4. Bob, I really enjoyed your comments on the news this week. Especially liked your reminiscing about your love for typewriters and the old Smith-Carona ad where you had to answer yes or no. I look forward to your column every week when the Saturday Evening Post arrives in my email.


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