More Things I Don’t Miss

Eight years ago I wrote a piece on the subject of things about the past that I didn’t miss today. Since then I’ve thought of a few more things I’m sincerely glad we’ve consigned to the trash heap of history. Here they are.

1. Having to remember to save documents I’m writing. Like most people my age I have memories of forgetting to save whatever document I’m working on and then having the power go off, or the computer crash, or a program freeze and then staring dumbfounded at a screen for several seconds, trying to absorb the fact that sometimes hours of work — or entire chapters, or term papers, or whatever — were now nothing but virtual memories. These usually happened on hard deadlines for an extra level of I’m fucked to the already massive level of frustration of seeing so much effort just punted into the ether. I don’t think I know anyone my age who can’t remember screaming in disbelief and anger about it.

Fast forward to today, and I think it’s been three or four years since I’ve had to think about saving a document. This is because the two word processing programs I use the most — Microsoft Word and Google Docs — automatically save whatever you’re writing on a regular and frequent basis. I’m pretty sure Google saves, like, every thirty seconds or so, and I’m pretty sure Word saves almost as often (even WordPress, which I write these blog posts on, saves drafts of whatever I’m writing every minute or so). And both programs now automatically save remotely, so if something happens to the computer I’m typing on, the document still exists.

Yes, yes, privacy, huge multinational corporations mining my data, etc. On the other hand, I haven’t lost a document in years, and for someone like me, that’s huge. Now when the power cuts off, I don’t scream and have an urge to take a bat to my desktop computer. I just go, “huh, power’s down” and then have a soda while I wait for it to come back up, and then continue from where I left off, give or take a paragraph. That’s a friggin’ miracle, is what that is.

2. Paper maps. I am so tied into using Google Maps to get me where I need to go these days that I honestly can’t remember what it’s like to use a paper map anymore. I mean, I know I did use them — I got to places before 2007 — but my brain has apparently blocked the memory of their actual use. It’s like my brain said, welp, here’s a bunch of memories that have no purpose anymore and just chucked them out, but meanwhile I can remember the lyrics of all the songs on my daughter Jumpstart educational CD ROMs. My brain is weird.

Another thing I don’t miss: Having to get directions from friends, because I don’t know if you know this, but humans are fucking terrible at giving directions. I remember one friend in particular who would make giving directions into an avuncular and not-in-anyway-precise radio monologue (“and then you turn past Old Man Gilbert’s place, he’s been dead these 20-aught years but we never really took a shine to the new owners, especially after they painted the house yellow”) and I was all, just give me the goddamned cross streets, you garrulous ninny. Now I don’t even need the cross streets. Praise the technology gods!

3. Having to wait to listen/hear music. So, when I was 13, there was this song that came on the radio that I immediately fell in love with, but I missed the title of, and it was electro-pop and all my friends listened to heavy metal so they were no help, and there was nothing I could do but wait to see if the radio station would play it again, and they did, but I missed the intro and they didn’t identify the song at the end, so I had to wait again for them to play it, and it wasn’t like a hugely popular hit in the US at the time, and I had to go to school and all, so it took a week before I learned the song was called “Only You” by this group called Yaz, and the album it was on wasn’t in stock at my local music store, not that I really had the money to buy it anyway, so it took another week of me skulking by the radio in my room waiting for it to come on again so I could lunge at the tape recorder I had set up when it started, which meant that for a couple of years the only version of the song I had was one missing the first ten seconds and an interlude where my mom came in and told me dinner was ready.

And now, Only You:

See, isn’t that so much easier?

Also these days when I don’t know the band or the name of the song, but I do know a snippet of the lyrics, I can put them into the Googles and bam, there’s the whole song. I’m not a delayed gratification sort of person. I like this way much better. I do think today you have to remind people that if they like a song/album/artist they need to actually buy the work and support the musical artist, more than you had to do back in the day. But I do that (I have a rule that if I go out of my way to listen to a song/album three times, I buy it), so I’m good on that score. I’ve bought “Only You” on cassette and CD and electronically, so there’s that.

4. Film. Prior to owning a digital camera, I think I may have personally taken a couple hundred pictures or so in my lifetime (not counting the very brief time I was a yearbook photographer in high school). Since owning a digital camera, I expect I’ve taken at least a hundred thousand photos, and possibly more than that. Just today I’ve taken thirty, mostly of the new kitten and also of a pair of goldfinches hanging out on my windowsill.

What is the cause of this vast difference? Not the digital camera, per se; it’s the fact that before digital cameras, one had to buy film, put film into a camera, take film out of a camera, send it away to be processed, remember to go pick up the processed pictures, and then pay for the photos (or alternately, build a darkroom and develop photos one’s self, which was not cheaper, and you still had to buy film). Basically, getting photos out of your camera took effort and money, and I was both lazy and cheap (and sometimes poor), so there were lots of places for things to fall down, there.

Digital cameras were not better than film cameras back in the day, but they were no worse than the cheap disposable cameras I could afford way back, and I didn’t have to wait or pay extra to see the photos I was taking. For me that made all the difference.

Tangentally, I also don’t miss film in movie theaters, because sometimes it was scratchy and out of focus and every once in a while it would unspool weirdly and the sound would get muffled and honestly, what a pain in the ass. These days everything is digitally projected and film nerds will tell you that you’re missing the deep blacks and authentic film experience, but you know, in the years since digital took over movie theaters, I have yet to have to go complain that the show I’m watching is out of focus or is poorly framed or all sorts of other things I had to do, and I don’t miss having to be the guy who does that (because I was always the guy who did that).

In sum: film sucks.

5. Saturday morning cartoons. It’s hard to explain to the Kids These Days™ just how much animated cartoon shows from the 70s and 80s blew. Six frames per second animation! Hanna-Barbera shows that were three or four teenagers + [insert wacky animal/object/caveman] playing in a band and/or solving “crimes”! Everything having a terrible “moral” segment tacked on to the ending! The Bugs Bunny cartoons, except they censored the violence! And that was the good stuff.

You what I felt the first time I watched Spongebob Squarepants? I felt angry. Spongebob was better than every Saturday morning cartoon I had ever watched from age three to age thirteen, combined*. Even the crappiest of cartoons my daughter grew up on were better written, better animated, and less openly contemptuous of the intelligence of their audience than anything I had grown up on. I want a goddamned actual refund on every single Saturday morning I sat in front of the TV. That seems only fair.

*Except for the School House Rock bits. Those are still cool.


111 Comments on “More Things I Don’t Miss”

  1. Due to a similar experience, Hey There Lonely Boy will always be just Lonely Boy. Damn tape recorders!

  2. I’ll agree with everything but #5 (Saturday morning cartoons – from the 50’s/60’s). Don’t like the new ones.

    Bugs Bunny taught me about classical music. Every time I hear the “Barber of Seville”, I think of Bugs and Porky Pig. And the William Tell Overture: “The Lone Ranger”.

    But, I’m old. And halfway through binge-watching the “Maverick” series.

  3. I still use a map OCCASIONALLY – when travelling out of cell range… so most times we camp, and some of our hikes. And I keep a map book in my car, but it’s about a 2014 map, so clearly I’m not too concerned about being up to date.

  4. A couple rebuttals:

    #2: i still pick up paper maps when I do a cross-country drive, like last year’s Route 66 trip (we only did 2/3, from Chicago to Santa Fe). We did it with minimal planning, no hotel reservations except the first night, but beyond that, we used the paper maps to plot out a day’s worth of adventures, something hard to do *together* on a 6″ screen. And for Route 66 in particular, I highly recommend the EZ-66 spiral-bound maps+guide, which gives you all the alternative routes, highlights, neon, diners, etc.

    #5: I’m a little older than you are, but I have fond memories of Saturday Morning Cartoons. What’s missing from modern cartoons is art. There’s no comparing Adventure Time to Johnny Quest. Yes, the animation in JQ was awful, but the wild ideas, the music and the Alex Toth design work was amazing. Late 60’s/early 70’s had some pretty brilliant stuff, especially if you count the Warner shorts and Hannah-Barbera prime time stuff going to saturday reruns (Flinstones & Jetsons).

  5. joelfinkle:

    “There’s no comparing Adventure Time to Johnny Quest.”

    I agree, although my conclusion runs in the opposite direction. That said, I am an Alex Toth fan.

  6. I may not miss the specific cartoons, but I miss that they don’t seem to exist anymore.

  7. One other thing to not miss about movies on film: It was delivered on multiple 20-minute reels. In most theaters in the 80s they would splice them all on to a giant platter (and then chop them back up into 20-minute segments again). But in older art house theaters they still had two projectors. The projectionist would load up the first two reels and start the film. When the first one got near the end, a bell would ring, then there would be that little circle that blinked in the corner of the frame. When the second circle blinked, the projectionist would switch over to the second projector, rewind the first reel, and load up the third reel.

    My friend was a projectionist at both type of theaters. One time at his art house/dual projector job his girlfriend came from out of town and was with him in the booth. She was distracting him (ahem) during the movie and he heard the bell and realized he hadn’t loaded up the next reel yet. He was a pro so he was able to get the next reel loaded up and going in the 30 or so seconds he had between bell and switchover. The only problem was that he grabbed the wrong reel and showed reel five after reel three. So when five ended, he showed four and then six. He said it was a weird movie and he was hoping people wouldn’t notice. No such luck. It was his last night on that job.

  8. I don’t miss the days when your favorite movie was only shown once a year, on a weekday at 3 a.m., with half of it chopped out to make room for commercials.

  9. I think there were gems in older cartoons, but a lot of them weren’t on Saturday morning. The interesting stuff was syndicated, which meant it was usually on at godforsaken hours of the morning, weekday afternoons, or godforsaken hours of weekday mornings. This did not stop some if it from being genuinely impressive. I have fond memories of a show called Vor-Tech that seems to have utterly disappeared from the world’s memory. One of the major characters was shown to be an UNRELIABLE NARRATOR. How often does that happen in kid’s stuff?

  10. For #3, there’s also Shazam, so I don’t need to hear the announcement or decipher the lyrics in most cases.

  11. I don’t miss cassettes, the CD was the best thing ever to happen to the cassette. I miss vinyl, not for the sound, but for just the whole experience: the cover art, the liner notes and everything that came with with it.

  12. I was fortunate enough to grow up at a time where my earliest memories were the merchandise based cartoons (GI Joe, Transformers) but quickly moved into the more interesting stuff like Batman: The Animated Series and X-Men. As well as hidden gem Exo-Squad.

  13. Getting the Friday newspaper to see what movies were showing and when.

    Then getting to the theater 30 minutes before the showtime of the new movie that you really wanted to see, finding out it was already sold out anyway, and having to decide whether to wait two and a half hours for the next show, watch some other crappy movie you really didn’t want to see, or just bag it and go home.

  14. Point 1 brings painful memories of too many pages lost to oblivion. I think most word processing programs have now the autosave function turned on by default and you can set most of them to save the document at the interval you want.
    I agree to all points.
    “Kids these days…” *raises fist to the air*

  15. I don’t miss typing my college papers on an actual typewriter and hoping I calculated how much room to leave at the bottom for freaking footnotes. On a related note, I did miss that my high school English teachers couldn’t google my “facts” in research papers I completely made up – quotes and sources in the bibliography included. Those were the glory days, indeed!

    I have been trying to identify that song forever (under the mistaken belief that Annie Lennox sang it) and could never find it —
    Your good deed for the month of July can be checked off now

  17. I assume you have read Chalie Stross’s reasoning about why he maintains his own giant disc array rather than going to the cloud, which is grounded in the terms of service as much as in privacy, multinational companies, etc. I won’t attempt to rehash, especially since I work for Google and IANAL / I do not speak for Google but I will faint dead away and then quit if one of my colleagues succeeds in stealing from an author whose work is stored with Google and gets away with it.

    As far as film goes, for some of us it really doesn’t suck. If I am shooting black and white, I haul out a 35-year-old Ricoh and Ilford XP2.

  18. Agreed so much about maps and how terrible people are at giving directions. My father was especially bad about using “past tense landmarks” like you described, usually businesses that had been replaced decades ago.

    I’m ten years younger than you, so my cartoon experience was very different. It was mostly merchandise-driven cartoons, which varied tremendously in quality. I’m a huge fan of animation as a medium, so I went back and watched a lot of them a few years ago, and some hold up quite well (Teenage Mutant Nina Turtles, the Sunbow-produced seasons of G.I. Joe, Spiral Zone), others were fair for their time and circumstances (He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Muppet Babies), and others were just terrible (friggin’ Thundercats, any cartoon spinoff that wasn’t Muppet Babies). Then the nineties arrived and we started getting gold like Batman The Animated Series, Gargoyles, and Exo-Squad.

  19. “…remember to go pick up the processed pictures…” I still occasionally have nightmares where I realize I’ve left some very important photos at the store, waiting to be picked up.

  20. I still use paper maps whenever possible. Online maps will tell you turn left here, turn right there, but it won’t tell you how to get there. You’re just following arbitrary orders that don’t mean anything. With a map I understand where I am and where I’m going.

    I agree that humans are bad at giving directions, but what I’d find is that they inevitably said “right” when they meant “left” or vice versa at least once in every set of directions they gave. I’d handle that by checking it against a map; if I knew I would be talking on the phone to someone who’d be giving me directions, I’d bring the map to the phone with me. That way, again, I could understand what the directions meant and where I’d actually be. (Why get the directions from the other person at all, then? Politeness for one reason; for another, a local may know the best route regarding traffic, pavement quality, etc., in a way not clear on a map.)

    By the way, online services are still not totally reliable either for choosing the best route or for knowing exactly where some destinations are.

  21. Well, you’ve managed to make me feel better that my parents forced me to have violin lessons and denied me Saturday morning cartoons for my entire childhood!

    I’m glad for the convenience of digital cameras, for sure. OTOH, I knew my ancient film camera so well that I could do blind shots reaching up over crowds and they would still be good. I have yet to develop that facility with my digital camera, despite having it for years and taking a lot more photos with it. Oh, well.

    I hate digital movie projection 90% of the time, though. It’s SO DARK. Like, “I can’t see what’s happening on screen” dark. And clearly it’s the recording (possibly combined with the projector), because when I see an older movie in a retro showing at the theater, I don’t have this problem. Likewise, when watching on my computer at home, old shows/movies are fine on a relatively normal brightness, but anything new and I have to max the brightness on my screen.

    Some directors/cinematographers seem to have figured out how not to have this problem, but those folks don’t appear to work for Marvel Studios (except the folks who did Black Panther). I don’t know what the deal is—this is far from my area of expertise—but I do know what my eyes tell me. It’s very annoying.

  22. I worked at a business magazine in a cubicle farm layout Back In The Days. I was the lucky person who was given custody of the first 10MB disc when the magazine purchased it, because I was doing copy-editing and helping with production…it had C/PM as the operating system. I discovered that our writers were able to save files without file names, and how to rescue them, which made me quite popular.

    Anyhow…when the power would go out, the frantic groans from all the writers on all the magazines would echo from one end of the building to the other. It was painful to hear! So many agonized writers crying to the universe at one time! (“It was as if I heard a million voices crying out in horror…”)

  23. I was about to protest that Animaniacs was bloody brilliant, but then I remembered it was weekdays, not Saturday mornings. Carry on.

    Amusingly considering your last list, vinyl is far from something to miss, as it’s well on its way to a comeback. All those record stores that closed down over the past 15 years are opening back up again and expanding. I’m very happy to finally have a turntable connected to decent speakers again. There’s three levels of music listening experience IMO: live, vinyl, and portable. My records, most of which I’ve still got from the 80s/90s, are in good condition, and the listening experience of mp3s or streaming just isn’t comparable. But, if you’re not listening on good speakers it’s not going to be notably different, and I can’t bring my good speakers on the bus with me.

    I’m willing enough to consign radio to the trash heap of history though. It wasn’t so much having to wait for music as finding music I want to listen to, and that’s gotten worse. My tastes have never much run to what gets much radioplay, and I love that having streaming and mp3s on the internet means I can find artists and albums I wouldn’t otherwise have discovered. And then get their music without waiting, and possibly order their album on vinyl.

  24. #4 Theater projectors now have a whole new set of problems that might crop up. I ran into this for the first time while watching Deadpool 2. The picture just went black early in the movie (audio was still going fine). It didn’t come back and a few minutes later one of the people in the audience had to go out and alert the theater manager of this (since there’s no longer a projectionist present during the showing). Then they had to reboot the projector and guess where to start the movie up. For a while we were watching DP2 “Memento style” as they restarted the movie multiple times trying to figure out where it was when the picture went out.

    It’s probably true that problems crop up less often but it’s still annoying as hell when they do happen.

  25. (2) Every so often, I encounter someone who insists on giving directions. Which would be okay, except that they are always certain that the only correct time to give the address is at the end of the very long and very bad directions. I find myself struggling to find a polite way to say, “NOOOOOO!!!!! Just give me the effing ADDRESS! Except, no, I don’t want to say “effing.”

    (5) Oh, please. In addition to the excellence of Bugs Bunny, you are ignoring Rocky & Bullwinkle, and Roadrunner, and…but I think I’m at least a generation older than you, and the censorious sorts were not yet paying attention to children’s programming.

  26. Count me as someone who prefers paper maps. They’re a lot easier to use in the car than an on-line map on a tiny screen. If I have to go somewhere which I don’t have a map for, I use Google maps to show me the area and then print out various views (large-scale for routes, smaller-scale for street names) and bring the printouts with me. But they’re a lot crappier than an actual map.

    As for using Google maps for directions, I do not trust Google at all. Their choices of routes usually stink. I live near NYC, and they almost always tell me to go through Manhattan. One time they even told me to go East across the Hudson and then back a few miles farther downtown. I’ve been at events where people arrived late because Google told them to take all manner of back roads (and I think they got lost, too.) Also, when you ask how to get somewhere within my county, they always say to take a train into Manhattan and another back out — they don’t know that my county has a bus system.

    BTW, if you ask for a specific address, they sometimes show it miles away from where it actually is.
    Like so much of all this fancy computer stuff, it looks cool, but the implementation tends to be pretty half-assed.

  27. Music: Literally the FIRST app I got when I got my first smartphone was Shazam. I was so sick and tired of hearing something come over the speakers in a store or a restaurant and not having any way to find out what it was. Now I Shazam it, and from there I can go on to buy it right then or just make a note and wait until I get home.

    Oh, and those really obscure pieces that are nowhere to be found on any music-sale site but you can find them on YouTube? Yeah, I have a YouTube-to-mp3 conversion utility bookmarked. It’s the court of last resort, because I prefer to pay for the music I download, but it’s there if I need it.

    Also, the convenience of switching tabs between YouTube (to audition more than 30 seconds of a piece) and Amazon (to buy it) is fabulous.

    Film: My experience is very similar to yours. I never had a lot of interest in photography; then in 2008, my partner gave me a cheap PHD digital camera. Ten years later, my Flickr account has nearly 15,000 pictures in it, and the camera travels around in a case on my belt-pack. In a pinch I can use my smartphone’s camera, but I’ve never found it anything like as easy to use as the dedicated item. (Why? It’s awkward to hold the picture framed properly and press the icon at the same time, and too many times the picture comes out blurry or misaligned as a result.)

    Paper maps: We still keep a road atlas in the car as a backup, because Google Maps sometimes isn’t as reliable as it should be. But we don’t have to use it very often, and we don’t buy a new one ever couple of years the way we used to.

  28. A little respect for paper maps, please. If you’re ever in need of Search&Rescue, that’s what we run on. In substantial part because:
    1) No internet out there.
    2) No roads. If you’re on a road you probably don’t need us.
    We’re all USGS topo maps.

    As for power failure, well, that’s why I have a UPS.

    All that said, yeah, no complaints here about the present [1] and I’m old enough to tell you, John, to get off my lawn. If I had one. And actually I’d invite you in for a drink and an introduction to the cats.

    [1] When are you going to get a decent display, though? Yours is an OK size but the oh-by-the-way stuff should be on an auxiliary screen.

  29. Re: Saturday Morning cartoons.

    I notice people mentioning Bugs Bunny et al.

    Bugs Bunny (from Warner Brothers) and the like (mostly?) date from the pre-television days, and would have been shown in movie theaters as shorts before the main feature. The themes and tropes are even older — they date back to vaudeville. (Bugs in particular is a vaudeville comedian.) They weren’t particularly written for children. Also, I think they used hand-painted cels.

    However, when I was young enough to watch Saturday morning cartoons (the 1960’s), the programming was dominated by Hanna Barbara cartoons and the like, which mostly used recycled sitcom plots and very primitive (i.e., cheap) animation. The attitude seemed to be that kids weren’t very discriminating and would watch almost any old junk if there was enough jumping around.

    I don’t watch TV any more (no time), but on the rare occasions when I travelled with the kids and they insisted on watching cartoons on hotel TV’s, it looked like the various cartoon channels were full of the same sort of junk as when I was a kid.

  30. Lis Carey beat me to it. I came here to sputter “…but…but…Rocky & Bullwinkle! with Boris & Natasha! Fractured Fairly Tales! Mr. Peabody and the Wayback Machine!”

    Although now I’m thinking those might have been after-school cartoons, not Saturday cartoons, and probably Before Your Time, you youngster you.

  31. A few years back my dad insisted on giving me station to station directions for a 4-hr trip to my brother’s house. Included were such useful tips as telling me to get on the only highway that goes north from my town and so forth.

    I tried to tell him “thanks, but we have programs that handle this now,” but after the second try I gave up and pretended to be dutifully writing it down while actually writing a note to my boyfriend that said, “bring me a glass of whisky, a gun and two bullets.”

  32. I preferred the character designs in the old cartoons, I really did. I miss those. I feel no love for modern animation styles, which just blobs with eyes as far as I can tell.

    I’m gonna be contrarian on the map issue as well, since I suck just as much at following GPS directions as I do at following regular ones or following old maps. At least with the hint that I was looking for a yellow house (which used to belong to old man etc…) I have half a chance of working out how lost I am (usually: “Very”).

  33. I ran across this nugget in the comments from your 2010 post:

    Another thing I don’t miss: being in the closet out of fear for my life. Later, out of fear for my job.

    I also don’t miss those days. Looking back, I realize that I was in many ways transgender my whole life, but the consequences of people finding out you were anywhere on the LGBT+ spectrum were so horrible that I was in the closet even to myself. (I mean, I was already being routinely called “queer” and “freak.”) The only reason I dared explore my “feminine side” (only to discover I had no masculine one) was that I live in an area and an era when it seems acceptable. And I work for a company that has explicit LGBT-supportive policies.

    I have no words to express the gratitude I feel to my LGBT foremothers and forefathers who struggled and sacrificed and sometimes died (cf. Marsha P Johnson) — and to those who struggle and sometimes die even today — to build a world in which I and people like me can live as themselves without fear.

  34. I don’t miss paper maps or map books. I like Google maps. I can sit down at my computer, an hour or three before I have to leave for $WHEREVER, and look up the best way to get there, then take notes which make sense to me about the directions I need in order to get there (which means I can skip the ones about how to get from where I am to $MAJOR_THOROUGHFARE, because I generally have those floating around in my head), and have the notes sitting handy in the car when I need them (written nice and big, because I don’t use my reading glasses while driving).

    We still have a map book in the car, but that’s more for emergencies than anything else.

  35. I find that I miss Saturday morning cartoons. There was a schedule to it that somehow seemed to matter. A ritual. These days the entertainment is so available. Those cartoons kept me waking up early, and then dealing with my siblings as to which ones to watch.

    Also. Nice monitor.

  36. crypticmirror:

    I feel no love for modern animation styles, which just blobs with eyes as far as I can tell.

    I’m discovering a growing love of anime. Oh, of course Sturgeon’s Revelation applies. Still, there are quite a few with decent art and animation and seriously interesting (gasp!) character-driven stories to tell.

    See if you like any of these:
    “B: the Beginning”
    “Princess Principal”
    “Grimoire of Zero”

    Lots of variety — it’s a medium, I think, more than a genre. Some is juvenile, some is just freaking wierd, etc. But who knows? You might find something you like.

  37. Re Paper maps: GPS and Siri and Alexa and all that don’t do rural areas well. And not well is almost the same as not at all.

    And for cartoons, what about Rocky and Bullwinkle? Talk about not insulting the intelligence of the audience!

  38. I still remember where I was when my punk rock chick friend turned me on to “Nobody’s Diary,” “Situation” and “Only You” off of a German double-album re-issue of both Yazoo albums. Instant nirvana!
    As for Saturday morning cartoons, you are right about most of them, with the exception of Bullwinkle.

  39. Maps.
    I remember being a courier in the mid-90’s. I realized very quickly I needed a map book with decent grid references for Jackson and nearby population centers out to Vicksburg, a good one for the state and a cross street directory for Jackson. About $90 – $110 total at the time but totally worth it for saved time and frustration. And after I was done my bosses couldn’t understand why my replacements never could do as well as I did.

  40. @ megpie71: And don’t forget Google Street View! That’s saved my hide more than once because I looked at the area around a convention venue before I left. I’m not entirely visually-oriented, but it’s easier for me to interpret the verbal directions if I already have some sense of where I’m going.

    @ ljb173: That’s true, and one of the reasons that we have a road atlas for backup. And on the way up to Spokane, we got into an area where Google Maps wasn’t getting any connection, and stopped to pick up an inexpensive dedicated GPS unit that had the maps already loaded.

  41. @katzenclavier mentions the awfulness of radio: THAT, especially if your preferred style is classical. Few stations have smart, knowledgeable announcers who can put together interesting, well okay idiosyncratic programs, which are what I like. I know the standard rep and don’t want to hear the Beethoven symphonies just now, nor I am interested in hearing only tonal music of the 20th c. I rely on friends and reviewers and random purchases. The radio, these days, at least US radio, is useless.

  42. I love maps – all kinds – but for hiking, paper(well, waterproof tyvek) maps are the way to go, with digital maps as a backup. With a big 4k tv I can get a map large enough with detail enough to better a big paper map, but I can fold one of those. For day to day stuff, digital maps, and an iPad for planning, are brilliant.

    And film – sucks for you. But not universally. It’s moved from necessary to completely discretionary, and still has merit. Important to note that distributing movies on film DOES suck, but capturing movies on film is still very current and wondrous. 70mm projections have a magic not yet met by digital projectors, but we’re not far off.

  43. Emphatically seconding you re: theatre film. Both because I used to be the poor slob who had to go FIX it when you complained, and because after 18 months of being the one to fix it, I was so hypersensitive to presentation quality that if I couldn’t see a new movie opening weekend, I didn’t see it, period, because I knew I would flinch at every bad splice and platter scratch.

  44. Speaking as one of those darn millennials, the concept of asking for verbal directions to anything further than a block away is about as offensive as *giving* directions. I had an older couple stop their car by the park the other day and ask the way to the zoo, and yeah, it’s like a mile away on major streets so I could do it, but my instinctual reaction was to question if their phone was broken, because why would you ever just start driving in the general direction of your destination and then ask a stranger for further instructions when you could just… not do that?

    Also, the gap between 80s cartoons and 2010s cartoons continues to widen in all ways- for those with dim memories of cartoons aimed at pre-schoolers being squeaky garbage that even many children would prefer not to watch more than once, I direct your attention to Netflix and “Puffin Rock”, a gorgeously animated, relaxed series of animal adventures on an island with no forced conflict, no awful songs, and charming, professional Irish voice actors. Even the stuff aimed at 4-5 year olds is now of higher quality than almost any cartoon made 30 years ago.

  45. To keep my mental facilities sharp, I’d like to have a GPS programmed to give directions the way a person who is bad at it does, as you described. “Go down here aways and turn where the Esso station used to be.” Ironically, it would probably take a significant amount of artificial intelligence to be realistically stupid. We have the technology now to have it speak in Mike Huckabee’s voice.

    It should also support the popular minimalist mode, that just says “warmer” or “colder” as appropriate.

    (We use the Google Map turn-by-turn navigator. It recently startled us by telling us to “Turn right on Mink St. just past the TGI Fridays.” Similar things have snuck into a lot of its directions.)

  46. I have only skimmed the comments, and note that many of them dealt with the question of cartoons. At the risk of repeating something that has already been said: The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. The animation might not have been great, but the writing was often brilliant. I also remember being tickled by Dudley Doright; to this day, I often point to random objects and, in my best squeaky voice, go, “Oh, look! A crystal chandelier!”

    It probably helps to be a Canadian.

    I agree with other comments that I did come across that there was brilliant animation before and during the 1960s. Not only Warner Brothers, but things like the Betty Boop cartoons of the Fleischer Studios. That having been said, I think John’s point was that the Hannah-Barbera cartoons and others made specifically for television in the 1960s and 1970s, being the bulk of what we could watch in that time period, were terrible. I cannot argue with that.

  47. People forget that except for the Flintstones, for many years there was no such thing as an evening cartoon. (And some forget the Flintstones was made for adults)

    Except, that is, for a year or so, when there was a children’s cartoon with amazingly little (no more than on an adult show would have) comedy: Johnny Quest. (dimly related to the teenage Real Johnny Quest) JQ aired on Mondays, then for Tuesday morning show-and-tell we would go up to the front and tell about the show. Nobody ever went up to talk about, say, Lassie.

    I love big sprawling car and city maps because I like to feel oriented and know the territory. Hence I like to stay in the same city for several days, even if I am not doing any tourist attractions, just getting to know it.
    Many city maps these days have gorgeous colours, and coil bindings, like a cook book.

  48. I feel pretty lucky my cartoon watching days were in the late 60s and early 70s. I had the uncensored Looney Tunes, Pink Panther, and the seriously subversive Rocky and Bullwinkle. The Hannah-Barbera stuff I skipped, it was too boring.

  49. As a teen, I made a recording off the radio which starts a little late but then has the station’s call sign and DJ introducing the next song, which I also recorded. So now I have a weird MP3 somewhere which has two songs separated by that “WLLZ, Detroit’s Wheels, bringing you fresh rock from Rush” tag line …

  50. I don’t know about you, but, even more than to Mad magazine and the works of Leo Rosten, I believe I owe my properly demented boyhood to Jay Ward’s cartoons: The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show (and all its features), Tom Slick, George of the Jungle, and (even) Super Chicken. I think we’d all have died of boredom in the early ’60s without those, no? Certainly, my kindergartener brain had fun working out from Fractured Fairy Tales what was so darned funny about the narrator warning that you should never, ever buy a house if it’s in the town of Escrow, and the Bullwinkle gag concerning the Ruby Yacht of Omar Khayyam.

    Not a single wasted half hour in any Jay Ward production, I’d say.

  51. I don’t miss vinyl records, or reel-to-reel, or 8-tracks or cassettes. I don’t even use cd’s any more, except to copy them to my laptop library (not into cloud or spotify yadda yadda).

    And I love that I can look up an oldie and find it on youtube in about three seconds, and I’m time-tripping back to the days…

    I don’t miss slr cameras and film, but i do miss my polarizing filter, the one deficiency of even the best compact cameras. (The pocket size Canon GS-9 is otherwise an awesome little tool.)

  52. I remember a Hanna-Barbera cartoon that I watched in the late afternoons that was more of an animated sitcom than the hijinks of regular cartoons. The show was called Wait Till Your Father Gets Home.

  53. I don’t miss the physicality of film, but I do miss the latitude. Cameras these days have to do 3 to 5 rapid shots and then HDR to get semi-close to what Kodachrome could do. I also miss the simplicity and robustness of my Nikon FM2. 3 controls (f-stop, shutter speed, and focus) and no batteries. If there was a digital SLR that had those three controls that easily accessible I’d buy it. I went digital about 15 years ago when the cost of film hit about a dollar a frame to buy, develop, and print.

    Saturday morning cartoons: A few years ago I bought the Warner DVD collection and ripped it to watch on my ipad on airplanes.

  54. I use google maps plus the Prius’ internal nav system (which my wife hates and calls “the other woman” but still keep an atlas in the car just in case. Plus when my 82 year old mother is in the card she likes to look at the atlas.
    I also loved Bugs Bunny/Road Runner cartoons, But part of that is that my dad would watch those with us. Hated Grape Ape and the LaffOlympics

  55. On your Saturday morning cartoons blasphemy, I have three things to say:

    Jonny Quest. The Mighty Mightor. The Herculoids.

    Please commence wallowing in chagrin.

  56. What John said about backups. If you don’t already have a DropBox or other cloud service that automatically backs up your documents and other data to the cloud, and that information is important to you, you need to get it backed up off-site PDQ. If the roof falls in or the first category 6 hurricane of the year hits your house, all those backups stored in your desk drawer won’t do you much good. (And the thief who steals your computer will likely take the external hard drive attached to it too.)

    I use DropBox because it’s free and seamless, and has been very reliable in the several years I’ve been using it. Ask a friend who has an account to send you a DropBox invite and you’ll get extra free storage compared with signing up on your own. (If you don’t know someone with an account, drop me a line privately at and I’ll send you an invite. Full disclosure: the inviter also gets some additional free storage.)

    However, two additional notes: First, encryption malware is only going to become more common, and no matter how careful you are, someone else’s screw up (e.g., a legitimate Web site that’s been hacked to download malware) could still burn you. For really important stuff, consider doing a DVD-R backup; once a file is stored on DVD, it can’t be changed (e.g., encrypted). I’m a freelance editor, and I can’t afford to lose my files or those of my clients; that would put me out of business PDQ. So in addition to comprehensive backups on an ongoing basis, I burn a DVD of my files every week, and I store the DVD far from my computer. If someone slips encryption malware onto my computer, I’ll probably notice in less than a week, and the worst data loss will be a few days worth of work. Once my computer is clean, I can reload my files from the DVD.

    Second, if you’ve extensively customized your computer, you need to back up those customizations too. For example, I’ve spent so many hours customizing Word that I can’t work on a stock version anymore. None of the keyboard shortcuts do what I expect, and all my macros and other customizations would be missing. I’d lose many hours of work restoring those customizations.

    For details on how to protect yourself, here’s a really old article I wrote on the subject:
    A bit verbose, since written for a different audience, but still covers all the basics.

    If you rely on Word for your work, try this more recent article instead:
    (It’s outdated, but details will be similar for more recent versions of Word.)

  57. The closest my husband and I have ever gotten to an actual fight is the two occasions when I tried to give him directions to get to me and he got lost. Just both of us frustrated and unhappy and ruined whatever we were trying to do at least for the first part. We were early adopters of GPS, back when they were still stand-alone units.

    And for those of you who mentioned not having network access in some places, you can actually download maps for offline use. We do that for our destination whenever we travel, especially if it’s somewhere rural that connections might be spotty. Still doesn’t address the issue of the maps being straight-up incorrect, but I’ve *knock on wood* never run into that personally.

    I remember when I was about 16 having a full-on meltdown because I put the floppy disk with my novel manuscript in the computer and saw I was missing about 50 pages. Once I got past the initial panic I went back through my various backup disks and saw that I had just grabbed the wrong one. Now I draft in Novlr so I have instant autosave and version control and it is glorious.

  58. Cartoons:
    Barber of Seville.
    Whats Opera, Doc.
    Two unrivaled cartoons.

    I keep a paper atlas in my car, along with jumper cables, and an emergency blanket. I use them all with roughly the same, rare frequency.

    dude, the cloud is like the AOL of storage. You gotta get a NAS device. Synology is a good brand. You want a 4 bay machine, running full raid, and get a smart battery backup so it can tell the drive when power goes out that it needs to shut down cleanly. Put it on a wifi router and it should just work anywhere in your house. Make sure to use good passwords.

    “Everything having a terrible “moral” segment tacked on to the ending! ”

    I wonder if any of that was driven by the code

    I didnt mind film projectors for the movies. I worked at a movie theater in a previous life, so probably some nostalgia kicking on. The biggest advancement in movies to me is being able to buy tickets from home and pick your seats.

    The shazam app is awesome. Identify a song from a clip? Saves the sanity when im out and about and some song comes on i like but dont know or cant remember the name.

    Definitely some cool stuff out there.

  59. As a hillwalker, and also as a tourist in a city, I like paper maps. They give you context. And I’m not too bad at navigating. And I’m younger than you. (I don’t drive, though.)


  60. I also don’t miss that time between when we got a cell phones and when we got maps on our phones. Or was I the only one who got desperate phone calls from friends and family asking for help finding better/alternate routes because they had missed a turn, were lost, there was construction, etc? Odds were good I’d be home and be able to fire up Mapquest or whatever and help them get un-lost. Now Google/Siri does that for me. Yay!

  61. All these comments and not one person has mentioned the best part of the post – the awesome cat picture!

    I don’t recall Bugs Bunny or the Roadrunner being censored for violence at all. Wiley was blown up, shot, fell off cliffs, flattened… in all his glory. The hidden tidbits in the Bugs Bunny cartoons took me years to understand. And the music. “Kill the wabbit! Kill the wabbit!” Satuday morning cartoons were great.

    I don’t miss film. I ran out of film on a trip to Europe after college and had to buy film in Prague. All of those photos have a blue tint to them. Great memory, crappy photos.

  62. If I hear a song I want to know about, I can now pick up my phone, punch up the Eternally Listening Skynet, ask it “what song is this,” and after a moment it will tell me the song, the artist, and the album, and offer the opportunity to purchase it for digital download.

    On the other hand, yesterday morning our Internet and cable were out at the house, and we were forced to go shopping for entertainment. Where’s your Cloud now, Monkey-boy?

  63. I like paper maps for the same reason I like paper books. There is a tactile reality to it that I enjoy, and good ones are beautiful to look at. I think GPS on a phone is one of the greatest things in the universe, though, and can’t imagine how I ever got on without it.

    I’m conflicted with film, though. While the advent of digital photography has made it really easy for everyone to record important (and not so important) details in their lives, it’s completely destroyed photography as an art. Back when every shutter release cost you money, composition mattered. Now days you cant shoot a million frames for free and simple random chance will eventually give you a decent picture once in a while. Not to mention the death of darkroom and printing skills.

    I know no less than four separate people who quit their jobs to become “photographers” (none of them still at it) and that was their entire MO. It’s sad because it makes finding talented photographers really hard.

  64. Oh my goodness – I also have a flashbulb memory of hearing “Only You” for the first time. What an amazing song. I’m a few years younger than you and generally culturally oblivious, so I first encountered it in college, as an absolutely breathtaking acapella cover on a mixtape(!) my ex-boyfriend had made for me as a peace offering. I hunted down the original from a more culturally-savvy friend and recorded it onto a new mixtape of my own. Pretty sure both tapes exist in a box in my basement somewhere, although I don’t have a way to play them anymore. I’d love to at least find the set list from the first one, since I would love a digital copy of that cover.

  65. Now when the power cuts off, I don’t scream and have an urge to take a bat to my desktop computer. I just go, “huh, power’s down” and then have a soda while I wait for it to come back up, and then continue from where I left off, give or take a paragraph. That’s a friggin’ miracle, is what that is.

    I would put in “Frequent power cuts: that’s a thing from the past I won’t miss” except that I have never lived anywhere in the UK that had frequent power cuts, and it was very strange to visit the US and realise that, there in a major city in an apparently modern country, people simply expected their power supply to cut out fairly often. Not every week, but often enough that you just routinely kept a flashlight by your bed, and your reaction to the electricity grid taking a little rest was simply mild routine annoyance, like your reaction to a traffic jam.
    In the UK, keeping a flashlight handy in case of a large-scale power cut would be like keeping a machete handy in case of an unexpected rattlesnake in your washing machine. I think I’ve experienced two in my entire life.

  66. I have a Garmin, and it gets used, but I can’t figure out its obsession with routing me onto the Interstate. Last year I took a weekend trip to KC, and almost every time I got on the road it was “get on the interstate, now get off at the next exit”. I refuse to believe there was no surface street connecting those two points.

    Admittedly, it’s easier to use a Garmin than a paper map or TripTik when you’re traveling alone, because you don’t have to juggle map and steering wheel simultaneously. But I still get the AAA routing just so I can get a feel for the area and can tell if Garmin is throwing in gratuitous Interstate time.

  67. Something I don’t miss is the really, really BAD sci-fi/superhero shows from the 70s–bad acting, bad scripts, terrible special effects repeated endlessly to save money. Not that I wasn’t crazy about them as a kid, but having made the mistake of watching a few old Buck Rogers (with Gil Gerrard) episodes as well as a couple of the original Battlestar Galactica shows–it’s not that they haven’t aged well, but they were never very good to begin with, I just didn’t realize it at the time beyond a vague, gnawing sense of dissatisfaction. And G_d bless Lynda Carter–I will never forget the sight of her running down the street in that Wonder Woman outfit, but watching her try to throw a punch was painful. And the live-action Spiderman from the 70’s? Don’t get me started. When the rebooted Battlestar Galactica came to SyFy (then SciFi?), it really raised the bar on TV series scifi, and I think it also spoiled me as far as those old shows go.

  68. A few thoughts on maps. One huge advantage of paper maps is that they’re still there when your phone battery dies… or a sudden downpour drenches your phone. (We use a nicely designed dry bag for our maps when we hike.) There have also been countless tales of people lured far astray by blindly following their GPS*. Paper maps provide an essential reality check. Of course, you have to know how to read one and use it in the field. That takes more effort than just firing up the GPS.

    * Ours relentlessly tried to kill us while driving in Sicily:
    GPS: “Turn sharp right… now! NOW, I tell you!”
    Me: “But there’s no road to the right and a 100-metre cliff here and for the next hundred metres.”
    GPS: “And yet I say: TURN NOW, FUCKWIT!”
    Me: “Um… no.”

    In terms of power failures, we’uns in Montreal (Quebec, Canada) have several per year. Sometimes it’s an ice storm or heavy snow, sometimes it’s a squirrel committing suicide via a nearby transformer. Either way, it’s good to have an uninterruptible power supply (so we can finish what we were doing and safely shut down the computer), flashlights for bumbling around in the dark until we can get some candles going, and a fireplace insert or cast-iron stove for heat. Our fireplace insert saved me an expensive holiday weekend emergency call to the furnane guy when the furnace died midwinter. I was able to hold out until Monday, when the service cost dropped dramatically.

  69. I do find it amusing that John says ‘cartoons from the 70s/80s were terrible’ and a bunch of people immediately retort with shows from the 60s as a rebuff. :D

    That said, I agree that most 70s/80s Saturday Morning Cartoons were terrible, both in production and concept. But I would argue there were still some gems amongst the chaff. Thundarr the Barbarian had Jack Kirby to help create the closest thing we’d get to a Kamandi TV show. I was fond of the Batman series on CBS (not the Superfriends or the 60s Batman show), but the one that was linked with Tarzan. The Droids TV show was pretty high-end for it’s time, but sadly the Ewoks appeared to do better.

    One class of show John didn’t mention (and greatly deserving of scorn) were all the ‘famous people turned into cartoon’ properties, like the Jackson 5, Brady Bunch, Osmonds, Gary Coleman, Mr. T and more. I can’t bring myself to dislike the Harlem Globetrotters, though. I mean, it probably was a terrible show, but there’s a nostalgia there I make no excuses for (and can maintain as long as I don’t go looking for it). It’s like Hong Kong Phoeey in that regard, it was demonstrably terrible (and that’s before the cultural appropriation), but it has a fond place in memory. Best to let it stay there, in the rear view (with Fred and Barney sneaking cigarettes behind the house).

  70. 1. I have a question for writers related to John’s posting about auto-saving. How do you handle your backups? I work with databases and I am paid to be paranoid about backups. I started using the google online backup for stuff I need to keep. I make shortcuts so I don’t have to intentional save in the google folder. I also made a new email account without my name that I never use for anything so that people have to get both my username/two factor authentication to log in. I don’t like that google uses your email as your password. They should let you have a secret log in.

    Do you guys use online backups or are you paranoid stuff will get stolen like with yahoo? You can also encrypt word files. I do not know how good that encryption is for that. I would want online backups in case my house burned down.

    Do you guys use any change management software to manage older versions of chapters drafts? Github is real popular for software projects to manage folders. Do you guys do that? I would want older versions of chapters, etc… to review in case I ended up liking it better.

    2. Paper Maps: When I was a kid in the 1980s, we went to the AAA. My father was taking us on vacation out of state and the AAA had a service where they would map it out for you. They get the maps and highlight the directions with a highlighter. I still have some paper maps from when I moved to the DC area 20 years ago. I have them in the backseat of my car.

  71. My kid and I watch Steven Universe together (as a kind of bonding thing) and every time we do, the kid moans and cries. “Why didn’t they have shows like this when I was a kid?”

  72. Agree – Saturday morning cartoons were such a nice “babysitterl for my parents, but it was a privilege, if we weren’t done with jobs we didn’t get to watch. Though I do remember when the Mickey Mouse Club show first came on tv (yes, I am from the 50’s) and I miss even now those kinds of clean, fresh-face, innocent type of shows. Though I do not watch many cartoons or kid shows now, I see my grandchildren watch very good PBS ones.
    And privacy – I miss my ability to know what is mine. One has to watch out for the multinational corporations, such as the Amazon “Alexa” device – do you know that Amazon has everything-everything you said to her on record? It is possible to dive in and erase it.

  73. If it wasn’t for terrible Saturday morning cartoons, there would be no Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law! And that would be tragic.

  74. Uncle Josh – So now I’ve learned that the acappella cover of “Only You” I fell in love with 25 years ago was actually an all-female cover of the Flying Pickets’ version. I had never heard of them before today. I love this.

  75. Am I the only one out here who remembers Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent? And Mighty Mouse (Heeeere I come to save the day!) but yeah, that’s 50’s and early 60’s. The town I went to college in had lousy TV reception so I pretty much stopped watching TV for several years after 1966.

  76. I remember being sick with the flu on a Saturday afternoon in the early 1960s, trying to find something to watch on TV to take my mind off how awful I felt. In my part of upstate New York, Saturday afternoons were the toxic dump of TV programming, with seemingly endless episodes of shows like Industry on Parade or tutorials on how to build fallout shelters. But as if by miracle, at 4 PM Rocky and Bullwinkle came on, and for a half hour I felt just great. Eventually, I overcame the flu and, in time, grew up, but I’ve never forgotten the healing power of the subversively ridiculous.

  77. I love, love, love paper maps and always will. I don’t like digital maps and I *really* hate those audio navigation machines (yeah, I’m old). And there was something special about listening to the Brand New Modern Transistor Radio while I did my jr. high homework, hoping my favorite song would come on. Then being thrilled when it did. Even though I owned the 45 and played it all the time. Something about fan community back then? And the Saturday morning cartoons I loved were like, immediately post-WWII, being recycled through TV after having had their run at movie theatres. The ones I really liked were like spoofs of Hollywood movie premières, only under the sea. You’d have the well-known personalities all dressed up like famous Hollywood actors or dancers or singers, only they’d be cod. Or tuna. Or octopuses. My very favorite was the crab: he was Edward G. Robinson, and he’d invariably snarl, “I never go anywhere, I never do anything, I never have any fun.” For some reason that still makes me laugh. And there’d always be some stand-in for Hitler throwing the Nazi salute and then hilariously bashing himself in the face for some reason. Ah, ancient history…

    I totally agree about cameras, though. Except my problem now is how to I sort through the 1,000’s my d-i-l has sent me of my granddaughter through the years? How do I choose which to keep?

  78. Don’t miss “physical contact” storage – vinyl, cassette tape, floppy disks, etc. at all. Rubbing things together is nver going to work well.
    Don’t miss commercials on tv – we went Netflix only years ago and it always jars horribly if I see an ad on some other tv. Don’t miss broadcast radio either.
    For all the horrors we’ve managed to unleash in the world of politics and fashion, I don’t miss the tedious bland boring limiting inanity of the 60s & 70s.

  79. I’m at the point where I’m marveling at the demise of most digital cameras, as a separate product. I got really into them for a while there, but we’re now in a world where there is basically no reason to buy a basic point-and-shoot digicam if you carry a smartphone. For the first decade or so, phonecams were just awful compared to what you could get in a standalone pocket device; but now they’re not, and the convenience of having the camera attached to your communications medium (with the possibility of things like automatic cloud backup) more than makes up for any small infelicities of combining the camera with a phone.

    All that’s left is the high end, because there is still a need for cameras with really good lenses, and there is no physical way to put those into a pocket-sized object; they are just too big.

  80. …The first modern kids’ cartoon that really wowed me was “Adventure Time”. The original short was this hilarious bit of surrealism, but the show itself has a bizarre mythology with a complexity seemingly rivaling Tolkien, and the ability to combine absurdity, pure excitement and genuine pathos. It’s near the top end of quality for television in general, let alone cartoons allegedly aimed at children.

  81. Among the 60s cartoons I remember enjoying, in addition to several named above, were the Mighty Heroes, the Impossibles, Felix the Cat, Tobor the 8th Man. On the other hand, I couldn’t stand Speed Racer. Not his fault, though. That was my sister’s favorite, so no way could I like it.

    My #1 memory of watching TV as a child was the Jonny Quest episode with the giant robot spider. That thing really petrified me, and I watched it from across the room behind the living room comfy chair. It turned out also to be my mom’s #1 memory of me watching TV!

    I can neither agree nor disagree, though, with claims of better or worse, as I haven’t seen anything since to compare. I basically gave up TV in the 70s when I went off to college–another difference between then and now.

  82. Re the “yellow house” directions: In Rhode Island, I always got directions in “Dunkin’ Donuts” units (go to the third DD, turn right); in the UK, it was public houses, though often it was in terms of the names that the pubs used to have. Still, if you have time, there are some fine adventures to be had in guessing where you are.

  83. YES to the bit about being able to find music. With the added “technology is awesome” tool currently available:song recognition apps. If I hear a cool song on the radio now? Or on TV, as soundtrack or commercial? I can just go “Siri, what song is this” and she can figure it out for me. And that technology is getting good enough that you can actually HUM a song into an app and get it identified. I was going crazy trying to find that piece of classical music that I only knew as “the music everyone uses for scenes of despair and damnation”. Ten minutes of google gave me nothing. Ten seconds of singing into Soundhound got me “O Fortuna”.

    Granted this means the weird situation of people looking at you funny for singing to the pocket robot, but it’s worth it to not have questions like that bugging me all day.

    Modern cartoons are awesome and I don’t understand the whiners. Dudes in my age group are throwing snit fits about the Thundercats reboot and I want to take them by the shoulders, look them in the eyes, and tell them gently that Thundercats was terrible and they only thought it was awesome because they were six and high off sugary cereal.

  84. I do agree with most of your items. Also DVD/DVDR replacing VHS/VCR

    There were actually a lot of good cartoons on Saturdays. You’re right that aside from Jonny Quest most of them weren’t HB

    A few that might be out there on the web somewhere:

    Gerald McBoingBoing (from way back in 1958)
    ReBoot (very early 3d animation with lots of computer in-jokes)
    Men in Black (great animation design)
    Big Guy and Rusty
    the 2nd WB era (Freakazoid, Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain)
    Mighty Mouse (both eras)

    while some of the recent stuff is well written, the art is uniformly awful to my eyes.

  85. The DeLorme Gazetteer will always have a place in my heart. I used one all the back in the days of road trips and they always got me home. A later job where I had to find properties all over the state brought it back to me and I will still use one. Google maps gets close to the big picture DeLorme presents. but only close.

  86. I kinda miss Thomas Guides. However, the maps and print are now way too small for my middle-aged eyes.

  87. I don’t miss paper maps. My horrible sense of direction made me unable to use them well.

    The Ruby-Spears “Superman” cartoon done to celebrate Superman’s 50th birthday wasn’t half bad. Remembering Lex Luthor hanging his Lex Corp logo off the Great Wall Of China still makes me grit my teeth. And the “Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians” show was the closest Hanna Barbera got to the DC Comics feel…though I still wonder how Darkseid getting it on with Wonder Woman would have worked out anatomically.

  88. Stuart, aside from Gerald McBoingBoing, I’m fairly sure those were all nineties shows. A good show actually in the 80’s was Real Ghostbusters, though again, the syndicated seasons (Seasons one and two) were the best. The later ABC-funded seasons weren’t nearly as good, but they did produce a gem or two. That was probably because the show had writers like J. Michael Straczynski…

  89. Collary to (1): “The net’s down!” shouted out by someone (often with a few additional descriptors of the net) when the crude, early years office network was down, and you couldn’t access anything that wasn’t on you now stand-alone PC, send/receive any emails, or do anything that required interaction with anyone who wasn’t sitting next to you. And, of course, unless you had kept an updated Rolodex of phone numbers/addresses you couldn’t even call anyone to conduct business. Usually turned into time to go through all the paper in your in-box, throw away all the junk people had been sending, initial on all the distribution you had to pass on, and otherwise deal with all the qweep you generally ignored.

    Note on paper maps: one big advantage they had, particularly when traveling with someone who could navigate while you piloted, is that you could look ahead. Is there an exit about 90 miles down the interstate you’ll hit about 12:30 when it would be a good time to take a lunch break, or where would you be about 6:00 that night when you’d want to stop for the day–any place to stay, or should you stop previous or plan on extending your drive?? How far to the next exit (particularly out West, where the exist can be a long ways apart)–need to stop for gas yet? Not to mention there were Interstate guides that told you what was at each exit–gas stations, places to eat, motels with a pool. It wasn’t necessarily knowing just the route, it was what was along the way. That was the big advantage of the AAA TripTiks–roadside attractions, side excursions, geologic features to notice, history you were passing through (“Hey! The highest point in ND is coming up on our right in a couple of miles!”), where to stop to eat or sleep. I’ll guess there’s apps that will do these things, but I’ve never found them.

  90. You can write on paper maps.
    Nuff said.

    Also, i watched a few episodes of Adventure Time and could not for the life of me figure out what is going on. Seemed like the artist was recounting one long acid trip.

    Johnny Quest was more future than future.
    That show was gonzo for the future. Giant spider robots, hover cars, mother trucking jet packs, hydrofoils, vectored thrust aircraft, underwater cities, and that was just the opening credits. Hell, even Futurama isnt as cra cra for the future like Johnny Quest was. JQ was the golden era, man.

    And Race Bannon won “Best Cartoon Mom” contest.

  91. Maps. I’m meeting my cousin tomorrow and I just texted her a link to the coffee shop I like near where her daughter lives and I don’t need to worry about directions at ALL.
    I adore having a phone with a camera. I’m sure that an actual camera would take better pictures and have a much better lens, but, having the camera with me ALL THE TIME, and being able to see and edit that picture immediately, and maybe attempt another shot if the first ones didn’t work? I take so many more pictures and my pictures improved much faster, too.

  92. I totally agree with the movie experience. My local cinema went digital before I moved here (think Star Wars Ep. 2) and I got used to it fairly quickly. When I went to a old school movie theatre in 2010 I was quite shocked to see the difference. I praise the digital lords!

  93. The main objection I see to the new Thundercats show isn’t that the original was good (I agree that it was terrible), but that we already HAD a perfectly good reboot in 2011.

  94. @FL Transplant – I use the iExit app for looking ahead on long road trips. I’ve done a LOT of multi-day road trips and this app has been amazingly helpful. It automatically finds you on the highway when you open the app, knows which direction you are going, and brings up list of every exit coming up, the driving distance to each, and everything at that exit (gas, food, hotels, grocery stores, etc). You can even search specific things, say if you are really craving Chick-fil-A for lunch and want to know if there’s one coming up within the next hour.

    Sadly it doesn’t include interesting roadside attractions and historic points and that is something that would be really nice to have. I’m sure there’s another app out there somewhere, I’ll have to do some looking before my next road trip.

  95. When I first started using a GPS for my road trips (2013, I think), I would always have a paper map handy (either a Google map I printed or an old AAA TripTik). That’s because the GPS would have me make a wrong turn and I would need the map to get me back on track. The last three years, however, I haven’t had the need for a paper map because the GPS got much better (or I understand the instructions from the GPS better). I was quite impressed with my GPS three years ago when it navigated me through downtown Dallas. I made a lot of turns at its request but, by doing so, I missed a lot of traffic snarl-ups and got to my destination quickly. This year I drove to Phoenix from ABQ via Holbrook and that required a lot of turns through state highways. I got there via GPS without a single missed turn.

    Lot story short, I don’t miss paper maps either.

  96. Film. I miss film. I have thousands of negatives and slides to be scanned/converted, and thousands more historical family snapshots to be scanned and sent to the family archivist.

    When we rebuilt the house we left one bathrooom dark-able, but with the rest of life getting in the way, the darkroom hasn’t been set up yet. I enjoy the process of shooting, developing and printing black and white. Filters go in front of the lens, not in post- processing, and then there’s the zen uncertainty of just what was captured, and how closely it matches your vision.

    That said, I really love the convenience of my Fujifilm X-Pro1, and won’t be giving it up!

  97. GPS vs. maps for long road trips.

    Maps and books are for planning, Google Maps is for detailed planning, GPS is for saying “oh, look, that thing over there looks cool” and getting headed back toward tonight’s stopping point without having to backtrack out.

    My wife and I use various scales of paper maps and charts in conjunction with guide books to figure out our preferred general route. We then move the “anchor points” over to Google Maps on the PC to figure out where we will be camping each night, and where showers are. On the road we use a combination of GPS, GasBuddy, and Google Maps on the phones to do the real-time routing and traffic jam avoidance.

    Directions? Yes, I give them. Primarily because our street has three different names (pick your database), GPS/Google Maps directions route folks badly for getting there, and GPS and Google Maps place our house seven lots North of where it really is. I also tend to get a little snarky when folks call me back because they can’t find the place after refusing directions.

    Keep in mind, our house is four turns off I-95 and US-1, and two turns off A1A. Not difficult unless the software buggers it up.

  98. Another argument in favor of paper maps: They provide an overview of a large area that’s impossible to get with a cell phone or handheld GPS, and thereby provide a sense of mystery (things what need to be explored) that I just don’t get from a tiny screen display. (One reason I always love the front-of-book maps in doorstopper fantasy trilogies.)

    YMMV, of course. That’s a purely subjective feeling, not a criticism of those who don’t share that feeling. And I much prefer GPS directions to giant folded maps while navigating in traffic in the car.

  99. Dear John,

    Democratizing technology. Yay!

    You’ve demonstrated that you are a very good photographer. Good enough in certain genres of it that you could make a living as a professional.

    That talent would never have been revealed, let alone blossomed, were photography still in the film era.

    pax / Ctein

  100. Regarding older cartoons:
    Am in complete agreement, by and large. To my mind, Hanna-Barbera cartoons basically encapsulate everything that is bad animation.
    I will say, though, that the Sid and Marty Kroftt stuff was on another level, and was an artifact of its time in all the best ways in their goofy surrealism. Land of the Lost on its own is probably one of the best children’s shows ever made.
    *Extra-dimensional rifts
    *Alien artifacts
    All in one show! Played fairly straight! I mean, COME! ON!

    Why has Netflix not picked this up and redone it is beyond me.

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