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Post Week in Review: November 23-29

Published: November 28, 2014

Black Friday text art
Today is the annual day when people for some reason feel like they just have to go out and shop to get some sort of deal on a new coffee maker. Some stores even opened yesterday, while some of the bigger chains started their Black Friday “sales” (in quotes because a lot of the deals aren’t deals at all or they’re deals you could have gotten last week or can get a week from now and not be trampled in the process) seven days ago. I noticed a lot of the ads aren’t even mentioning their stores are open on Thanksgiving, they’re just saying “Thursday,” because they know that a lot of people don’t like this new practice.

Soon Black Friday will just be called Black November, which might be a good thing since it will spread out all the shopping deals over the entire month and make a mad one dash rush sort of a moot point and we can get back to some sort of normalcy.

Did you know that Saturday is a shopping holiday too? It’s Small Business Saturday, which is a holiday I hope people celebrate year round. I don’t know if the Sunday between these days has an official name, but may I suggest Save Your Money Sunday?

Food for Thought

Cup of coffee and the blueberry muffin with calories count labels

Now that the big eating day is over (well, one of them), I can reveal some news to you: You ate a lot of calories yesterday. Today did a segment earlier this week where they had a family eat their Thanksgiving meal a little early. They told the familly they were doing a story about Thanksgiving in general. In reality, they were keeping track of how much the family ate. A lot of the calories came before the main meal was even served, thanks to appetizers and snacks (which Sam Sifton of The New York Times says to never serve!).

If you eat at restaurants a lot you might have better luck keeping track of how much you’re eating. Because of new rules put in place by the Food and Drug Administration, restaurants, fast food places, and even movie theaters will have to put calorie/nutritional info on their menus. Though I don’t think anyone who’s going to Wendy’s or Pizza Hut is really thinking “I’m here because I want to eat healthier.”

12 Holiday Scams to Avoid

Illustration by James Yang

Illustration by James Yang

Shoppers should always be on the lookout for scams. But it’s particularly true during the holidays, when more nasty people want to take our money and we’re too busy hurrying from place to place. We may not notice until it’s too late. USA Today has a list of six things (and here’s six more) we should look out for during the Christmas season, including people who steal UPS/FedEx packages from doorways, hackers who collect our credit card information, holiday apps that have malware on them, and shady contests and lotteries.

There’s actually a 13th holiday scam to avoid. If you go to the mall and meet a complete stranger who offers to hold your wallet or purse for you while you shop, just say no.

Katy Perry to Perform at Super Bowl

Katy Perry in peacock costume on stage in 2011

Katy Perry on the American leg of her California Dreams Tour 2011 at the NOKIA Theatre LA LIVE on August 5, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (© Harmony Gerber/Shutterstock.com)

Do people really tune into the Super Bowl for the halftime act? I know that there are people who tune into the big game strictly for the commercials (I happen to be one of those people), but are there people who dislike football and say to themselves, “Ooh, such-and-such is playing halftime!? I can’t wait!?” This week the NFL officially announced that Katy Perry will be the entertainment during the Super Bowl halftime show on February 1. The game (and about 37 hours of pre-game coverage) will air on NBC.

Officially it’s called the “Pepsi Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show.” I guess everything has to be sponsored now (if anyone wants to sponsor this column, I like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Lexus cars).

The Dangers of Oversleeping

Retro alarm clock on nightstand

Speaking of football, there’s one NFL player who probably needs a new alarm clock for Christmas. New England Patriots running back Jonas Gray overslept one day last week and was late for practice. Head coach Bill Belichick doesn’t like it when his players don’t show up on time (he also doesn’t seem to like reporters, but that’s a whole other story), so he punished Gray by making him sit out last weekend’s game versus The Detroit Lions. Gray still suited up for the game though. He just had to stand on the sidelines with his hands on his hips a lot, watching.

From now on he’s probably going to act like Jerry in that episode of Seinfeld, where he’s so worried about waking up the marathon runner friend on time for the big race he not only sets an alarm but also asks Kramer to remember to wake him too. Spoiler alert: The power goes out and no one wakes up on time. Hopefully Gray will buy one with batteries.

The Art of the Restaurant Menu

Have you noticed that a lot of restaurants are replacing paper menus with iPads at every table? This may seem like “progress,” but it also seems like trouble waiting to happen. Glitches will occur, and I can imagine an order not going through or somehow getting sushi when I ordered steak. I also don’t want to see a day when waiters and waitresses are replaced by machines and robots, though I really wish I was around in the time of The Automat.

The New York Public Library has a collection of more than 47,000 menus from various restaurants, past and present. Isn’t that fantastic? CBS Sunday Morning visited the collection last weekend and talked to the curator. You can even browse the collection online.

Menus aren’t just pieces of heavy paper with food and prices listed on them. Some of them are works of art, and can often explain a lot about our region, our city or even America itself.

Play It Again

close up of vintage piano keys. Source: Shutterstock.com/ Ensuper

How much would you pay for a piano? How about a used piano? OK, how about a piano used in the movie Casablanca? Bonham’s and Turner Classic Movies held an auction on Monday and the classic piano sold for $3.4 million. And that includes the gum that’s been stuck on it for the past several years.

It’s actually one of two that were used in the movie. The one used in a flashback scene sold a couple of years ago for $602,500. Other items in the auction included the Cowardly Lion outfit from The Wizard of Oz, which sold for just over $3.08 million, and a jacket worn by Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind, which sold for $50,000.

The Return of Board Games

Monopoly board game

I haven’t played a board game in years. It’s not that I don’t like board games, I love them, even more than video games (which I also don’t play that much). I just don’t have anyone who would want to play. Sure, you can also do multi-player video games, either with someone next to you or several strangers online, but it’s not the same as trying to crush your sibling financially and real estate-wise in a long game of Monopoly.

Now cafes and bars are the newest places to play board games. They’re trying to foster some real-life contact between people. And it’s not just adults. You can find entire families playing the game at places like Snakes and Lattes in Toronto and The Brooklyn Strategist in Brooklyn, New York. Sales of board games are actually up 20 percent over the past year, which is one of the greatest statistics I’ve heard in a long time. I mean, don’t you get tired of blowing things up in a video game? Hopefully everyone shuts off their phones while they’re playing.

Snakes and Lattes is a great name for a board game cafe, by the way. If you want to open up a place, may I suggest Coffee & Checkers? How about Jenga Java? Or maybe EspresSorry?

National Chocolates Day

An assortment of fine chocolates in white, dark, and milk chocolate.

Notice the “s” in the word chocolate. Does that mean this Saturday is different than National Chocolate Day (October 28)? Apparently it is. Using my crack investigative skills (Google), I discovered that National Chocolates Day is for boxes of chocolate, holiday chocolate candy, that sort of thing, while National Chocolate Day is a day to celebrate all chocolate in general.

Of course, every day is a good day to celebrate chocolate, right?

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