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News of the Week: Batman, Books Overdue, and Beatles from Best to Worst

Published: June 16, 2017

RIP Adam West, Glenne Headly, and A.R. Gurney

Adam West will always be the best Batman to me, partly because of nostalgia and partly because I think many of the big-screen movies are too dark and underwhelming. In addition to that iconic role on the 1966–68 ABC series, West appeared in many other TV shows, including The Detectives and a long-running role as Mayor West on Family Guy. West died last Friday at the age of 88.

Here’s a terrific story from the May 7, 1966, Saturday Evening Post that examines the phenomenon surrounding Batman.

West had a home in Ketchum, Idaho, and here’s what it said in the town’s phone book:

Glenne Headly was that actress you probably couldn’t name off the top of your head but you remember from many movies, including Dick Tracy, Mr. Hollands Opus, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and many others. She was also in TV shows like ER and Lonesome Dove and was filming the new Hulu show Future Man. She also died last Friday, at the age of 62.

A.R. Gurney was an acclaimed playwright best known for his plays “Love Letters,” which has been performed thousands of times. He also wrote “The Cocktail Hour,” “The Dining Room,” “The Middle Ages,” and “Who Killed Richard Cory?,” among other plays. He died Tuesday at the age of 86.

Must Be a Really Great Book

I hate to admit this (so much that I hope you just skip this paragraph and scroll down a bit), but I haven’t been to my local library in almost 20 years. With the internet and my spending way too much money on books, I find no need to go. But that doesn’t mean I don’t support them, and it doesn’t mean I don’t think other people should go. Support your local library!

I do remember as a kid being really embarrassed when I had an overdue book. I’d hate going up to the librarian and having her look at the back of the book and see it was a day or two or seven overdue, and I’d have to pay whatever the fine was (a nickel a day maybe?). I thought of that after reading this story about a book that was returned to the Noah Webster Library in West Hartford, Connecticut. Usually, an overdue book being returned to a library wouldn’t make the news, but this book was supposed to be returned by September 29, 1965.

That’s not a typo. It was supposed to be back at the library 52 years ago. At least the borrower enclosed a note of apology.

Flags

My favorite story of the week concerns 11-year-old Preston Sharp of Redding, California, who was upset that not all of the veterans buried at his grandfather’s cemetery had their tombstones decorated with a flag and decided to do something about it:

Every Single Beatles Song, Ranked

I’m no longer a fan of best and worst lists. They used to be fun, back when not everyone was doing them, but so many publications and sites do them now that they’re basically meaningless. I mean, how many “Best Sci-Fi Movies of All Time” or “Best Sitcoms of All Time” lists do we need?

But if a list is extensive enough, they inadvertently become a one-stop history lesson for the subject, like this list from Bill Wyman that ranks all 213 Beatles songs. All lists are ripe for arguments and discussion, and this one is no exception. It’s sort of silly to think that such a list could be 100 percent accurate (is there really a difference between number 77 and number 89?), but it does show how many fantastic songs John, Paul, George, and Ringo recorded.

I have to say that even though I don’t like lists, I’m happy to see “Here, There, and Everywhere” in the top ten. What a great song.

The Formosa Is Back

If you’ve seen L.A. Confidential or Swingers, you’ve seen the Formosa Cafe in Los Angeles. Because it was located near the studios, it was a favorite hangout of many celebrities, from Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Lana Turner to Brad Pitt, Jodie Foster, and Johnny Depp. It was set for demolition in 1991, but public outcry helped to preserve it. Several years ago, it was gutted and remodeled, but people hated that too, so it was rebuilt to look a lot like the original. Now it’s under new ownership and, according to Los Angeles Magazine, it’s going to reopen with all of its vintage charms intact. The reopening is scheduled for summer 2018.

This is one of the historic places I’d love to visit. Some people want to see Hoover Dam, I want to go to a bar in L.A.

I Bet Some of These Stars Hung Out There Too

Speaking of the golden age of Hollywood, the Post has a new special edition with the very same title. The Golden Age of Hollywood is a collection of great articles on people like Marilyn Monroe, Debbie Reynolds, Bogie and Bacall, John Wayne, Charlie Chaplin, Judy Garland, Cary Grant, Marlon Brando, and many other classic film stars. Here’s how to order.

This Week in History

Warren Harding Becomes First President on the Radio (June 14, 1922)

The 29th president spoke at a memorial for “Star-Spangled Banner” poet Francis Scott Key in Baltimore.

John Bartlett Born (June 16, 1820)

The first edition of Bartletts Familiar Quotations was privately published in 1855 and is now in its 18th edition.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: “Icing the Wedding Cake” (June 16, 1945)

Wedding cake

Icing the Wedding Cake
Stevan Dohanos

This is a great cover by Stevan Dohanos, filled with lots of little details that make it feel realistic. I love the calendar in the background. I don’t know if there was an actual calendar in the room that looked like that when Dohanos painted the picture, but a food-centered calendar, one with a loaf of bread as the picture for the month of June, looks like something a cook would have on his wall.

Today Is National Fudge Day

Here are three recipes for various types of fudge — Peanut Butter Fudge, Walnut Pumpkin Fudge, and Gimme S’More Low-Fat Fudge, which replaces a lot of the fat and calories via low-fat semisweet chocolate chips and graham crackers.

But you can pig out on the first two recipes if you want because tomorrow happens to be Eat All Your Veggies Day.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

​Father’s Day (June 18)​

After dad opens up the ugly tie you bought him and you make him breakfast in bed, read him this poem from Charles Osgood titled “Father of the Year.”

Juneteenth (June 19)

As the official site says, Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery. It became a state holiday in Texas in 1980 and its nationwide popularity is growing every year.

First Day of Summer (June 21)

Ah, summer. Hot days, the beach, people in flip-flops, sunlight until almost 9 p.m. I hate it. To help get through the next three months, here’s a classic story Ray Bradbury wrote for the Post titled “Summer in the Air,” tips on how to keep your pets safe from heat stroke and injuries, and here’s a great piece by Jeff Nilsson on how air conditioning went from being a luxury to a necessity. I haven’t had air conditioning in 26 years.

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  • This boy, Preston Sharp is exceptionally wonderful and should be seen as an inspiration to everyone. Against all odds, in a day and age like this, you’ve got a kid who (I feel) has been touched by God. Steve Hartman always does really great human interest stories like this. Preston also reflects the kind of values the Saturday Evening Post and Norman Rockwell represent. Get him started now on a subscription!

    Interesting feature on The Formosa Café. It sounds great. I rarely ever get over to that section of town, but will if it’s done out the way the article says it will, I’ll go—before it gets shut down again. This is a rare case of people showing respect for L.A.’s past!

    Love that jade green neon, too. They need to keep up pictures of the REAL movie stars of the distant past. Johnny Depp’s photo meanwhile, will be right at home in that big container you’ll find in the back of most businesses.

    Far too many things in L.A. and Southern California as a whole are just gone, torn down decades ago. A lot of THOSE places in turn have also. We were one of THE leading places in the country for all the cool mid-century Googie architecture; those cool Space/Atomic Age restaurants and other buildngs. Fortunately, there is the ‘Bob’s Big Boy’ in Toluca Lake, fairly close to me.

    It’s fun for a Friday night vintage car fix every now and then. Leno doesn’t usually go to those, but he likes Sunday car shows, like The Road Kings. Johnny Carson Park with it’s hill and dale lawn, bridges and creek, was the best place to show off those classic cars (with such great shade)until the city of Burbank stopped allowing car shows there, period. Isn’t that rotten? I bet Johnny Carson wouldn’t have allowed that to happen if he were here.

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