News of the Week: New Books, the Comic Strip Wars, and Maybe You Need Some Cranberry Beef Tea 

In the news for the week ending February 8, 2019, are angry comic readers, an imaginary octopus, an intriguing beverage, and much more.

A coffee mug resting on a pile of books outside on a table during snowfall.

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Winter Reads

I keep waiting for winter to “lock in.” Sure, we’ve (and when I say “we’ve,” I mean New England — your mileage may vary) had lots of days where the temperature was enough to freeze an egg, and we’ve even had a couple of snowstorms. But it still doesn’t quite feel like winter has fully arrived. There have been too many 55-degree days, too many days where the sun is more powerful than it should be, too many weeks where it hasn’t snowed at all and my shovel is more in the way than useful. I want winter now. I don’t want it to suddenly make an appearance the first week of April.

At least the nights have been cold, and that’s a perfect time to curl up on the couch with a good book. Besides the great winter reads in our current issue, chosen by Amazon’s Chris Schluep, here are four more books you might be interested in.

Woe Is I, by Patricia O’Connor. This is the new fourth edition of O’Connor’s popular guide to grammar and writing, with updated rules and new sections. The original is one of my favorite grammar books, so I’m looking forward to reading this.

Digital Minimalism, by Cal Newport. As someone who is also profoundly skeptical about the role the web, smartphones, and social media have in our lives, I’m anxious to read Georgetown University professor Newport’s take on the subject.

Bowlaway, by Elizabeth McCracken. This is just your typical novel about a mysterious woman found unconscious in a Massachusetts cemetery at the turn of the century, carrying 15 pounds of gold, who marries the doctor who helps her and decides to open up a bowling alley.

Good Riddance, by Elinor Lipman. Lipman’s 12th novel (she’s also an essayist and columnist) is about a filmmaker who finds a 1968 yearbook in the trash and decides to uncover the mysteries surrounding the class and the teacher the book is dedicated to.

Boston Globe Readers Didn’t Find This Funny

When was the last time you read a comic strip? There are still a few I read if I think of it, usually in the Sunday paper, but I’ll freely admit that I don’t read them regularly anymore. I still read print newspapers, and I read many columnists regularly, but comic strips are a “here and there” thing for me. The strips I loved aren’t published anymore, and I’ve had a hard time getting into any of the others.

But there are still comic strip fans out there, and when I say “fans,” I mean “you can have my comic strips when you take them from my cold, dead hands” (to paraphrase Charlton Heston). The Boston Globe found that out recently when it decided to drop 11 comic strips from the newspaper, along with two of their daily puzzles. Readers FREAKED OUT, forcing the paper to reverse its decision for some of the more popular strips, like Bizarro, Rose Is Rose, and Adam@Home, along with the daily Jumble puzzle. (Sorry, Zippy the Pinhead.) They’ve also put a survey on their website asking readers what else the paper had better not get rid of.

Supposedly the paper originally got rid of the strips and the puzzles to make more room for its “signature journalism.” But that will always be there, and it’s not something that readers get attached to. Sure, give them local news and hard-hitting investigations and the latest from Washington and the world, but don’t you dare mess with Mother Goose & Grimm.

“The Day the Music Died,” 60 Years Later

Everyone knows that the February 3, 1959, plane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa, killed musicians Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson (along with the pilot). But many don’t know that another musician almost died that day. Waylon Jennings was part of Holly’s band and switched places with Richardson for another flight. Jennings went on to have a successful country music career and died in 2002.

RIP Julie Adams, Frank Robinson, Kristoff St. John, Harold Bradley, and Andrew McCullough

Julie Adams is probably best known as the woman stalked by The Creature from the Black Lagoon, but she was also in such movies as McQ, The Private War of Major Benson, Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, and dozens of Westerns. On TV she was Jimmy Stewart’s wife on The Jimmy Stewart Show, realtor Eve Simpson on Murder, She Wrote, made many appearances on Perry Mason and 77 Sunset Strip, and had a small but important role on Lost. She died Sunday at the age of 92.

Frank Robinson is still the only player in Major League Baseball history to win the Most Valuable Player award in both the American and National Leagues. He was the first black manager (he was still a player at the time), Rookie of the Year in 1956, the winner of several Gold Gloves, and a Triple Crown winner in 1966. He played for various teams in his long career, including the Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore Orioles (helping them win the World Series in 1966), Los Angeles Dodgers, California Angels, and Cleveland Indians. Robinson died this week at the age of 83.

Kristoff St. John had played the role of Neil Winters on The Young and the Restless since 1991. As a child, he had roles on such shows as The Bad News Bears, Happy Days, and That’s My Mama, and later appeared on The Cosby Show and Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper. He died earlier this week at the age of 52.

The Young and the Restless will have a special tribute to St. John on today’s show.

Harold Bradley was one of the most recorded musicians in history. Just look at the list of the songs where he played guitar: Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” and “I Fall to Pieces”; Roger Miller’s “King of the Road”; Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man”; Roy Orbison’s “Crying”; Jeannie C. Riley’s “Harper Valley P.T.A.”; and Christmas classics like Bobby Helms’ “Jingle Bell Rock” and Burl Ives’ “Holly Jolly Christmas. He also played on albums by Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, and the Everly Brothers. He died last week at the age of 93.

Andrew McCullough directed such shows as Family Ties, The Donna Reed Show, Happy Days, Leave It to Beaver, Maverick, Omnibus, and The Thin Man. He also directed Orson Welles in a TV adaptation of King Lear. He died last month at the age of 94.

Headline of the Week

Man Arrested on Suspicion of Drug Driving Faces ‘Long Arm of Law’ After Swerving to ‘Avoid Octopus’

This Week in History

What’s My Line? Premieres (February 2, 1950)

Here’s the first episode of the long-running game show, which ran until 1967 (and was followed by newer versions).

Charles Dickens Born (February 7, 1812)

Many of the famous characters created by the British author (and prolific letter-writer) appeared on the cover of the Post, courtesy of Norman Rockwell.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Gloucester Harbor in Winter (February 4, 1961)

Gloucester Harbor in Winter
John Clymer
February 4, 1961

It’s very rare that I’m personally connected to something on the front of the Post, but the area depicted on this John Clymer cover is right down the street from my apartment.

February Is National Hot Breakfast Month

Sure, I could link to recipes for breakfast staples like eggs, oatmeal, or pancakes, but you probably make those all the time. What you really want to know how to make is a hot drink that combines cranberry juice and beef broth, right? Here it is, from Mid-Century Menu, one of my favorite food sites.

Oh, all right: here’s a recipe for Eggs Benedict, one for Homemade Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal, and one for Apple-Bacon Pancakes.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

The 61st Grammy Awards (February 10)

H.E.R., Dua Lipa, Chloe x Halle, and Baby Dodo are all up for awards this year. And just to prove that you’re as up on music these days as I am, you believed that last one is a real person. The show airs on CBS at 8 p.m.

Valentine’s Day (February 14)

Even if your significant other knows you love them the other 364 days of the year, you still have to buy them something.

Singles Awareness Day (February 15)

When you’re single, every day is Singles Awareness Day. But when it’s the day after Valentine’s Day, you really notice it.

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  1. Every morning it’s Comics Kingdom for 5 comic strips then to Go Comics for 7 others. One is Peanuts Begins which recently started with the first comic strip. It’s interesting to see how Snoopy develops. Doonesbury and Fox Trot run originals on Sundays.

    Also, any way to get a print of that Post cover? Please let me know. Thanks.


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