News of the Week: New Apple Products, Noir Alley, and National Black Cow Day

Here’s the HomePod

This week Apple unveiled their new tech toys in front of a crowd of screaming fans. I don’t know if they announced anything that will blow away the casual user of Apple products, but they made some interesting updates and announcements that will please regular users, including new additions to their line of desktops and laptops, iOS 11, a bigger iPad, and their product to compete with Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home, the HomePod. All that stuff is fun and much needed and I’m sure I’ll be buying one of the new laptops and an iPad at some point. I don’t know if it will be before they announced their next new lineup of new things, but I’ll be buying them.

They also announced a lot of things that only developers or hardcore pro users will care about, including a new SDK called MusicKit and a new iMac Pro that has 8-, 10-, or 18-core Xeon processors, dual FMAs, 2x wider AVX instructions, and 22 teraflops. If you know what any of that means, you’re either a computer expert or a robot from the future.

I think teraflop refers to the new Baywatch movie.

Noir Alley


Have you been watching Turner Classic Movies’ new weekly show,Noir Alley? It’s been on for a couple of months and it has quickly become one of my favorite shows. TCM often airs film noir, but it’s good to have a weekly show where we’re guaranteed to see two hours of dolls, fedoras, guns, and shadowy city streets.

The show is hosted by film noir expert and Film Noir Foundation founder Eddie Muller. He introduces each movie with behind-the-scenes info and trivia and often has a guest, too. (Last weekend, he had Robert Mitchum’s son Chris on to talk about Out of the Past.) This week’s movie is Phantom Lady from 1944, starring Franchot Tone and Ella Raines, about a secretary who tries to prove her boss didn’t kill his wife.

Noir Alley airs every Sunday at 10 a.m. Eastern. Grab a cup of Joe and plant yourself in front of the tube, pal.

RIP Jimmy Piersall, Bill Walsh, Roger Smith, Elena Verdugo, Peter Sallis, and Wendell Burton

I never saw Boston Red Sox outfielder Jimmy Piersall play, but I feel like I did because the movie Fear Strikes Out made such an impression on me. It starred Anthony Perkins as Piersall and depicted his battles with mental illness and pressure from his father. He was a good ball player too. Piersall died Saturday at the age of 87.

Bill Walsh was copy editor at The Washington Post for 20 years and probably best known for three fantastic books on grammar and usage, Lapsing Into a Comma, The Elephants of Style, and Yes, I Could Care Less. If you write or you’re just a grammar geek, they’re must-reads. I didn’t realize that Walsh died back in March but I wanted to mention it. He was 55.

Roger Smith was an actor, writer, and producer who starred on 77 Sunset Strip, Mister Roberts, and many other shows and movies. He was also married to Ann-Margret. He passed away Sunday at the age of 84.

Elena Verdugo received an Emmy nomination for her role as Nurse Consuelo Lopez on Marcus Welby, M.D. She also appeared on radio and TV in Meet Millie and appeared in movies like House of Frankenstein and Little Giant. She died last week at the age of 92.

Peter Sallis was an actor who provided the voice of Wallace in the Wallace and Gromit movies and appeared in the long-running British sitcom Last of the Summer Wine. He died last Friday at the age of 96.

Actor Wendell Burton appeared with Liza Minnelli in The Sterile Cuckoo and played Charlie Brown in the 1973 live-action TV movie You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. He died last week at the age of 69.

In happier obit news, if there is such a thing, a new documentary premiered on HBO this week, If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast. It’s about people who are in their 90s but continue to work, including Carl Reiner, Dick Van Dyke, Betty White, Norman Lear, Mel Brooks, Tony Bennett, and others. Jerry Seinfeld isn’t over 90 yet but he’s in it, too.

The title comes from Reiner, who says that every morning he reads the obituary section of the newspaper. If he’s not in it, he has breakfast. Here’s the trailer:

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Hey Moe

George Clooney and his wife Amal welcomed twins this week. They named the boy Alexander and the girl Ella. I think we can all agree that whatever else happens to the kids, they are going to be two freakishly good-looking human beings.

Those are fairly basic names, right? Unlike other celebrity couples, they didn’t name the kids North (Kanye West and Kim Kardashian), Apple (Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin), or Blanket (Michael Jackson). But there are other rather interesting names that aren’t being used by anyone. This new list from Nameberry shows the names that nobody got in the entire year of 2016. The list includes Bluebell, Jericho, Moe, Frostine, Kermit, Osgood, Fenno, Lucasta, Falconer, and Land. Nobody is using Humphrey either. It’s funny how that name was (and still is) associated with one of the coolest actors in the world but just isn’t popular any longer.

I’d love to see more Moes. A couple could make a plan with other couples to name their kids Moe, Larry, and Curly. Maybe throw in a Shemp too. They could all hang out with each other and get into trouble and have pie fights.

Who Will Replace Scott Pelley?

You’ve probably heard that CBS made the decision to replace Scott Pelley on The CBS Evening News. They announced it while he was on assignment overseas, and it took many by surprise. But Pelley is back on the show this week. His last airdate will be June 16, when Anthony Mason will take over as temporary host until the network chooses a replacement. Pelley will continue his work as a correspondent, now full-time, on 60 Minutes.

So who will replace him? It wasn’t Pelley’s fault that his show was in third place. The show has been in third place for many years. There’s a common wisdom that with cable news and the internet, people don’t watch the nightly network news shows anymore. I still do. I’d rather watch a daily summary of the news than the crazy, exhausting, pundit-filled coverage you get on cable. And 6 to 8 million other people agree with me every night, so the shows are still important.

I loved when Bob Schiffer did the show, but that’s not going to happen again, and it won’t be Anderson Cooper or Katie Couric again either. Charlie Rose? He fills in sometimes, but he has two other shows to do. Could Anthony Mason take over permanently, or will weekend anchor Elaine Quijano take over? We’ll find out in the next couple of months.

This Week in History

D-Day (June 6, 1944)

Here’s Post Archive Director Jeff Nilsson on what happened that day in Normandy, France, and why it was the century’s best-kept secret.

Dean Martin Born (June 7, 1917)

This would have been Dino’s 100th birthday. He was a great singer, able to bring a casual charm to everything he sang. Since today is Cole Porter’s birthday, here’s Martin singing one of Porter’s songs, “True Love”:

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Watering Father (June 4, 1955)

Son waters father, asleep on lawn, with sprinkling can
Watering Father
Richard Sargent
June 4, 1955

It’s been unseasonably cool so far this June, mostly in the 60s, with the past couple of days being even cooler and rainy. I don’t want that to stop, but I know the horrible, uncomfortable heat and humidity is just days away. Like the guy in this cover by Richard Sargent, I’d want to be regularly watered by someone on days like that. But you’ll never find me sitting out on the lawn with the sun broiling me, so I’ll never need someone to do that anyway.

​National Black Cow Day

There are several soda fountain “cow” drinks. There’s a Brown Cow, which is made with cola, and a White Cow, which is made with vanilla ice cream and vanilla syrup. But tomorrow is National Black Cow Day, so let’s concentrate on that.

Here’s how you make it, from Drink Studio. It’s basically a root beer float (vanilla ice cream, root beer, whipped cream if you want) only with the addition of chocolate syrup.

By the way, I haven’t been to a soda fountain in almost 40 years but I’d love to visit one again. Country Living has a great list of some classic places.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

French Open Finals (June 10 and 11)​

The women’s final is tomorrow at 9 a.m. Eastern on NBC, while the men’s final is on Sunday at the same time and place.

Flag Day (June 14)​

Jeff Nilsson has a great feature on Flag Day and why our flag is more than just a flag.

News of the Week: Needless Words, Noir, and Knitting in Public

Stop Using These Words!

This Mashable article is kinda lame. Oh, I’m sorry, that’s one of the words I’m not supposed to use anymore, according to the article (“lame,” not “kinda”).

Now, I’m sure we can agree that there are some words on that list we’d best be advised not to use (though I’ve never used “derp” so I don’t mind continuing to not use it). At the same time, I hope we can also agree we don’t need some sort of incredibly PC word police to tell us what words we need to stop using. People are taking to Twitter to shame people into not using these words anymore, which is the place modern society does its shaming now, I guess. I’m also a bit confused how not using these words make you a better “ally.” What exactly are “ally skills”?

Incidentally, Word Police is a new show coming up this fall on CBS. It’s like CSI, only with dictionaries.

The Summer of Darkness


That sounds like a great title for a crime novel or film, which is appropriate because that’s the name of the noir film festival you’ll see on Turner Classic Movies every Friday this summer (it actually started last week). Hosted by noir czar Eddie Muller, the slate of films you’ll see all day every Friday until the end of July will not only include such well-known classics as Out of the Past, Detour, Laura, and The Maltese Falcon, but also several that you don’t see that much, plus a couple that will be making their debuts on the network: 1950’s Woman on the Run and 1949’s Too Late for Tears. Both have been fully restored by Muller and the Film Noir Foundation.

TCM has created a fantastic site for the event. Not only can you get the complete schedule, you can learn all about noir and even visit the special gift shop they’ve set up, where you can get all your noir needs, from fedoras, lighters, and cocktail glasses to a like-new 1941 Lincoln Continental. It costs $50,000, but it might be fun to click the “Add to Cart” button even if you don’t plan on buying it.

The Summer of Darkness is going on right now, even as you read this. So hurry up, rush, rush to your TV sets! Or however you kids watch TV these days.

Matt Damon Is a Martian

Oh, maybe I should have said SPOILER ALERT, but I don’t think it’s a secret. Actually, the title of Damon’s new movie, The Martian, is a little misleading, as you can see from the trailer for the Ridley Scott movie.

This could be an intense, dour plot, but it looks like there’s a lot of humor thrown in too (it’s based on the novel by Andy Weir). I bet this will be a hit, if moviegoers aren’t gun shy about trusting yet another big-budget space movie.

Eating Spaghetti? You’re Doing It Wrong


Don’t you just hate Internet headlines like that? Headlines that not only insult you but actually want you click on them after they insult you, and then you find out you’re not even doing the said thing “wrong.” How did we ever get by in life before Web articles told us the “right” way to do things?

The thing we’re all doing wrong this week is … eating spaghetti, apparently. This comes from Miss Manners, someone I like because I find her wise, clever, and extremely funny too. But Miss Manners, you’re way off base here! She says that it’s “crude” to eat spaghetti with a fork and spoon. Real Italians simply twirl the spaghetti on their fork using the plate.

Now, as you’ll probably guess by my last name, I’m a real Italian, and my family has always used a fork and spoon. I’ve never heard of the fork and spoon method as being wrong or socially unacceptable. Not only do you get a more perfect twirl, you can hold the spaghetti on the fork using the spoon for a second before you put it into your mouth. It’s not that twirling it on the plate is “wrong” either. To each his own (and there’s certainly nothing “crude” about using a spoon!).

Next week: Straws. YOU’RE USING THEM WRONG

World Wide Knit in Public Day


I’ve always been fascinated by people who knit (I live an exciting life). You watch them, and it seems like they’re geniuses. They take yarn and move their hands really fast with a couple of sticks and BAM, a sweater is formed. It looks like something I could never learn to do in a million years, a combination of physics and magic and artistry that also happens to look really relaxing. My mother used to crochet, and for years I thought crocheting and knitting were the same thing. They’re not.

Tomorrow is World Wide Knit in Public Day. So if you’re really good at knitting (or want to be), get out your gear and head to the subway, a park bench or the beach and show everyone how proud you are of your knitting. You have to do it in public though. Remember that.

You can go back to doing it in private on Sunday.

Upcoming Anniversaries and Events

Stars and Stripes adopted (June 14, 1777)
Here’s how we got the stars and stripes and colors on the American flag.

First U.S. roller coaster opens (June 16, 1884)
It was called the Switchback Railway and it opened at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York. It went six miles an hour and cost a nickel to ride.

War of 1812 begins (June 18, 1812)
SEP Archives Director Jeff Nilsson on the memorable line in American history, “Don’t give up the ship!”

Paul McCartney born (June 18, 1942)
The SEP has covered the Beatles extensively over the years, ever since their invasion of the U.S. in 1964.

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg executed (June 19, 1953)
Wikipedia has a detailed history of the crimes the Rosenbergs committed that led to their execution.