News of the Week: New Laws, Great Movie Years, and Why You Should Be Careful When Buying Crickets

In the news for the first week of 2019 are new laws, great movies, lots of spaghetti, a box full of crickets, and more.

A gavel rests on a book.

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Bags, Dogs, Money, and Weed

I went grocery shopping on New Year’s Day and the clerk didn’t ask the magical question, “paper or plastic?” They’ve banned plastic bags here in Massachusetts, which means we have to buy reusable bags or go back to paper.

I don’t mind paper at all. That’s what we always used, though I hope my supermarket stocks up on the ones with handles so I can make it up my stairs with more than one or two bags. (I have a lot of stairs.) Reusables? Convenient, environmentally friendly, blah, blah, blah, but they can also become gross over time with meat juice remnants and other foul debris.

The no-plastic rule is just one of the new laws here in my state. They’ve also raised the minimum wage to $12 an hour, raised the age to buy cigarettes to 21, and pot shops seem to be popping up like Starbucks locations. There are probably new laws where you live too. Vermont is going to give you $10,000 if you move there (though you can’t work there — you have to work for another company remotely). In New York City, you can no longer sell food items in white styrofoam containers and cups (or use packing peanuts), you can now wear bright pink to hunt in Illinois instead of the usual orange, and in California, dogs are now considered part of the family in custody cases.

Some laws aren’t changing in 2019. For example, you still can’t run a greased pig contest in Minnesota (PDF).

1939, 1946, or 2007?

“What was the best year for film?” has always been one of the fun games that movie fans like to play, and the answer is usually 1939. That was the year that saw the release of The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Wuthering Heights, Stagecoach, and Goodbye, Mr. Chips. Hey, that’s a really good movie year!

This question was the subject of a recent Washington Post article that got a lot of attention, mostly because many people found it crazy that it implied that 2018 was a great year for film when most people think it was rather terrible. 1939 is on the list, chosen by Monica Hesse, while Michael O’Sullivan picked 1946 (It’s a Wonderful Life, The Big Sleep, Notorious, and Gilda — I’ll take that over 1939), and Stephanie Merry picked 1982 (E.T., Tootsie, Diner, and Sophie’s Choice). The other years picked are 1955, 1974, 1990, and 2007.

There are a lot of great movie years if you look. How about 1959, with North By Northwest, The 400 Blows, Rio Bravo, Some Like it Hot, and Sleeping Beauty? Maybe 1947, with Miracle on 34th Street, Out of the Past, The Bishop’s Wife, and Gentleman’s Agreement? Or how about 1976, with Rocky, All the President’s Men, Carrie, Taxi Driver, and The Bad News Bears? Any of those years would make for a good weekend binge.

Please note that 1959 also saw the release of one of my favorites, Plan 9 from Outer Space.

Copyrights and Wrongs

Even though I’m a writer, copyrights have always been a mystery to me. Not just the number of years a copyright is in effect, but I also find the reason why people are unhappy about copyright laws confusing. Seems to me that copyrights that end are great for readers because that means there’ll be more editions of various stories and more stories made from the characters, but they’re bad for the families of the writers who created the original works. Shouldn’t they be able to benefit from that work indefinitely?

Anyway, the copyrights for several classic works are ending, including novels by Agatha Christie, Joseph Conrad, Edith Wharton, P.G. Wodehouse, Rudyard Kipling, and Robert Frost. In 1998, Congress created a 20-year extension of certain copyrights, and now those copyrights have run out. That means many works are now in the public domain. Every January, we’re going to see other copyrights run out, including the works of popular 1920s writers like Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. If you’re a writer and you’ve been waiting to self-publish that prequel to The Great Gatsby (The So-So Gatsby?), you’re in luck.

Those We Lost in 2018

CBS Sunday Morning always has the most in-depth In Memoriam segment at the end of every year.

And when you’re done watching theirs, take a look at the tribute from Turner Classic Movies. It’s a beautiful montage that mentions some people that CBS either missed or didn’t really highlight.

RIP Richard Overton, Bob Einstein, Daryl Dragon, Amos Oz, Norman Gimbel, Frank Adonis, Don Lusk, and June Whitfield

Richard Overton was not only the oldest World War II veteran, he was also the oldest person in the U.S. He made news last summer when thieves wiped out his bank account. He died last week at the age of 112.

Bob Einstein created the character of Super Dave Osborne. He was also a writer and actor, appearing in such TV shows as Curb Your EnthusiasmArrested DevelopmentSonny and CherBizarre, and The Smothers Brothers, as well as movies like Ocean’s 13. Einstein died earlier this week at the age of 76.

By the way, Einstein’s brother is Albert Brooks.

Daryl Dragon was the Captain of The Captain and Tennille, the music and variety duo that was popular in the 1970s. Toni Tennille was Dragon’s wife and partner (she sang, he played keyboards), and the two had hits with “Love Will Keep Us Together,” “Do That to Me One More Time,” and “Muskrat Love” and hosted their own variety show and several specials. Dragon died Wednesday at the age of 76.

Amos Oz was the author of such novels as My Michael and Judas, as well as short fiction and essays. He died last week at the age of 79.

Norman Gimbel was an Oscar- and Grammy-winning songwriter who wrote the lyrics for many classic songs, including “Killing Me Softly with His Song,” “I Got a Name,” and the theme songs to Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley. He died last week at the age of 91.

Frank Adonis was an actor who appeared in such movies as Goodfellas, Raging Bull, and Wall Street. He died last week at the age of 83.

Don Lusk was an animator who worked on many classic Disney films, including Pinocchio, Fantasia, Bambi, and Cinderella, as well as The Smurfs and many of the Charlie Brown TV specials. He died last week at the age of 105.

June Whitfield played Edina’s mother on Absolutely Fabulous, appeared in the Carry On movies, and starred in many British series over the years, including Terry and June and Beggar My Neighbour. She also appeared in an episode of Friends. She died last week at the age of 93.

Quote of the Week

This is actually more of a “Tweetstorm of the Week” (click the time stamp below for the entire thread), and it answers the age-old question, “Should you buy a bunch of crickets over the internet?”

And there’s more to the story, as the tweets became so popular that Ingraham’s editor asked him to write an essay about it.

This Week in History

First Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball Drop (December 31, 1907)

The first one was made of wood and iron and had 100 light bulbs. They’ve upgraded since then.

Paul Revere Born (January 1, 1735)

He’s most famous for shouting, “The British are coming! The British are coming!” but … he didn’t really shout that.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Times Square Cleanup (January 4, 1947)

This year, 300 people worked overnight to clean up 56 tons of trash. The confetti was the hardest part.

National Spaghetti Day

All spaghetti is pasta, but not all pasta is spaghetti. I say this because when I was a kid, my Italian family never, ever called anything “pasta.” Spaghetti was spaghetti, macaroni was macaroni, and rigatoni was rigatoni. (And as a side note, “jeans” were called “dungarees” and a “sofa” was a “couch.”)

Today is National Spaghetti Day, and here’s a recipe from Curtis Stone for Spaghetti with Tuna and Spinach. Here’s a recipe from Taste of Home for Mozzarella Baked Spaghetti, and here’s one that’s called $4 Spaghetti That’s Almost as Good as $24 Spaghetti. I’ve always believed that you shouldn’t pay $24 for a plate of spaghetti.

You can even eat one of these dishes while you sit on your couch in your dungarees, watching the best movies of 1946.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

National Bubble Bath Day (January 8)

I haven’t taken a bath in 30 years. I mean, I take showers! But this might be a good day to take one (if I had a bathtub).

National Take the Stairs Day (January 9)

This might be a good way to keep that “lose weight” resolution you made, provided you don’t work in the upper floors of the Empire State Building.

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  1. Gee Bob, the store clerks stopped asking me about 5 years ago if I wanted paper or plastic. I either bring in my own or pay a little extra for one there. Sometimes it’s laziness about getting back to the car from the condo. I like the stronger brown bags with the handles from Sprout’s.

    Though I don’t smoke pot (much less cigarettes!!) I’d rather have pot shops sprouting up instead of the dime a dozen Starbucks. I didn’t know that about the styrofoam cups and containers in NYC. I love my matzo ball and chick soup from Weiler’s Deli served in those containers. It’s wonderful, and I haven’t been sick yet either. CA is doing the right thing regarding dogs!

    The copyright thing is why I don’t do my color copying at Staples. They’re really neurotic there about copyright laws when I’ve wanted to color photocopy vintage ads or magazine covers for my own personal use. SO, I go to Office Depot or a ‘Mom & Pop’ shop I like that has a small sign with the copyright law posted, and go ahead and make my beautiful XEROX (never Canon!) copies with no hassle; like something out of a Seinfeld episode I don’t need!

    Sorry about the loss of Norman Gimbel; so soon too, after Penny Marshall. Hopefully Daryl Dragon didn’t see/hear the terrible all-sound-alike musical acts on the awful ‘New Years Rockin’ Eve shortly before he passed. Captain & Tennille were the right group at the right time, as were so many others in the musical variety Disneyland of 1975.


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