News of the Week: Billie Eilish, True Grit, and I Tried Oreos with Mustard (Because USA Today Told Me To)

In the news for the week ending February 21, 2020, are a song to die for (if you have the time), the man who shot the man who shot Lincoln, mustard cookies, the first telephone directory, and much more.

Singer Billie Eilish wears dark sunglasses at an event in Los Angeles
(DFree / Shutterstock)

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The New Bond Song Has Dropped

I like saying the word dropped instead of debuted or been released because it makes me sound young and hip.

I actually like this theme to the new James Bond film No Time To Die, even if it is so mumbly and moody that it makes Adele’s “Skyfall” sound like Pharrell Williams’s “Happy.”

Uploaded to YouTube by Billie Eilish

No Time To Die opens in April. Or is that drops? Can a film drop?

Purses and Rings

These are my favorite stories of the week. A week of things lost and things found.

The first story involves a purse found behind lockers at North Canton Middle School in North Canton, Ohio The school did some investigation and discovered that the purse belonged to Patti Rumfola, who was a student at the school and lost the purse in 1957(!). She died in 2013, but the school contacted her children and posted the story on Facebook.

What’s inside the purse is quite interesting. There’s nothing surprising, really, but it’s a fascinating time capsule of what teen girls carried in their purses in the 1950s.

The second thing lost and found this week involves a high school ring. It was a ring given to a girl by her boyfriend in 1973. She lost it after taking it off at a Portland, Maine, department store that same year. You’ll never, ever guess where it was found last month.

Things You May Not Know about John Wilkes Booth (and the Man Who Killed Him)

Actually, there are probably many things I don’t know about the man who shot President Lincoln or the man who shot the man who shot President Lincoln, but this piece at Universal Hub brings up connections between the two I hadn’t heard before. They involve Boston, bad theater reviews, prostitution, and an ill-advised attempt at self-surgery.

RIP Charles Portis, A.E. Hotchner, Zoe Caldwell, Ja’net DuBois, Tony Fernández, Lynn Cohen, Ann E. Todd, Donald Stratton, Kellye Nakahara Wallett

Charles Portis wrote some of the most critically acclaimed cult novels of the past 50 years, including True Grit, Norwood, Gringos, and Dog of the South. He started out as a reporter for the New York Herald Tribune and also wrote pieces for The Saturday Evening Post, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic. He died Monday at the age of 86.

True Grit first appeared as a serialized novel in The Saturday Evening Post. Members can read the story in our digital archive, starting with our May 18, 1968, issue.

A.E. Hotchner not only wrote several novels and nonfiction books about the celebrities he knew — including Everyone Comes to Elaine’s, Choice People, and books about Ernest Hemingway and Doris Day — but he also helped start Newman’s Own with his good friend Paul Newman. He died last weekend at the age of 102.

Zoe Caldwell won four Tony Awards for her roles in Master Class, The Prime of Miss Jane Brodie, Madea, and Slapstick Tragedy. She also directed plays and appeared in several films. She died Sunday at the age of 86.

Ja’net DuBois played neighbor Willona on the ’70s sitcom Good Times and also wrote and sang the theme song to The Jeffersons, “Movin’ On Up.” She died Tuesday at the age of 74.

Tony Fernández was an All-Star shortstop who helped the Toronto Blue Jays win the World Series in 1993. He played for several other teams over 17 years and came back to the Blue Jays to finish his career in 2001. He died last week at the age of 57.

Lynn Cohen had recurring roles on Sex and the City and Law and Order and appeared on such shows as NYPD Blue, Damages, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, as well as Broadway plays and movies like Munich, Manhattan Murder Mystery, and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. She died last week at the age of 86.

Ann E. Todd — not to be confused with actress Ann Todd — was a child actress who appeared in such movies as Intermezzo, Those Daring Daughters, How Green Was My Valley, King’s Row, and All This and Heaven Too, as well as in the sitcom The Stu Erwin Show (a.k.a. Trouble with Father). She died earlier this month at the age of 88.

Donald Stratton was one of the few remaining survivors of the attack on the U.S.S. Arizona at Pearl Harbor. He died last weekend at the age of 97.

Kellye Nakahara Wallett played Nurse Kellye on M*A*S*H. She died Sunday at the age of 72.

This Week in History

Franklin D. Roosevelt Escapes Assassination (February 15, 1933)

A man named Giuseppe Zangara tried to kill the president-elect 17 days before his inauguration. He missed Roosevelt but ended up killing the mayor of Chicago, Anton Cermak, and injuring several others.

First Telephone Directory Published (February 21, 1878)

The very first list of people with phones was a single piece of cardboard that listed 50 homes and businesses in New Haven, Connecticut. Surprisingly, it didn’t list any phone numbers.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Wash Your Hands (February 18, 1950)

With everything that’s going around these days, this 70-year-old cover by Jack Welch just seems like common sense.

Wash Your Hands

Cookies and Crosswords

Have you checked out the Oreo cookie situation at the supermarket lately? It’s very confusing. When I was younger, we had one choice — you know, Oreo cookies — but there are so many flavors now that cookie shopping makes me anxious. In addition to the original — and offshoots of the original, like Double Stuf and Mega Stuf and The Most Stuf and Thins — there are approximately 97 other flavors. There’s watermelon and red velvet and peanut butter and tiramisu and chocolate marshmallow and peppermint bark and maple creme, and special editions for holidays like Easter and Halloween, and even Mystery Flavors. It’s exhausting. Just give me a bag of the originals and a glass of milk and I’m happy.

A new flavor was suggested last week, though I’m hoping Oreo doesn’t jump on the bandwagon and actually make them. The February 12 USA Today crossword puzzle contained the clue “Cookie that some people eat with mustard.” The correct answer turned out to be, yes, OREO. Needless to say, this caused some confusion and anger among cookie fans, crossword puzzle fans, and probably fans of mustard too. A USA Today reporter tweeted out one reader’s reaction to the puzzle.

Because I’m an intrepid investigative journalist, and I had some Oreos and mustard, I decided to try them myself. I added some mustard to the top of a cookie, not too much, not too little, and took a bite. My advice to you? DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS AT HOME.

“Cookie that some people eat with mustard.” Who exactly are these “some people”?

(Probably still better than watermelon though.)

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Nevada Caucus (February 22)

Let’s hope it goes better than it did in Iowa.

Fat Tuesday (February 25)

This is also known as Pancake Day, Shrove Tuesday, and Mardi Gras. The last is the annual celebration in New Orleans, of course, but the tradition actually has an interesting history beyond that.

Ash Wednesday (February 26)

This is the Christian holy day that kicks of the Lenten season of fasting and prayer, and also the reason you might see people with an ash cross on their forehead.

Featured image: DFree / Shutterstock

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  1. I was saddened to learn of Charles Portis’ death. He really was America’s least known great writer, in his case, a comic one. Everyone knows about “True Grit,” but the obscurity of his novels, “Norwood,” “The Masters of Atlantis, and “The Dog of the South” is something I cannot understand.

    If I had to pick a single nominee for the funniest novel I’ve ever read, it would be “The Dog of the South.” The story has nothing to do with dogs or with the American South, unless you count a few pages which are set in Little Rock as being obtrusively Southern.

    The man’s inventiveness was preternatural. Thank God his books remain in print.

  2. Thanks for the ‘No Time To Die’ music video here. I think it’s really good! Fascinating story about the finding of the lost purse, and the high school ring. Once again an interesting connection the ’50s and the ’70s have with each other. Speaking of those two, I put in a corrected comment (2/20) to my 1/20 comments on the Elvis flop in Vegas story here online to check out.

    Fascinating story about John Wilkes Booth and the man who killed him per the link; holy smokes! Jeff Nilsson’s ‘Lincoln and Laughter’ new Post feature here is great, by the way. I never knew FDR had an attempt made on his life shortly before taking office.

    God Bob, you actually ate an Oreo with mustard. It sounds terrible, but cheese would have been worse! You’re so right about there being too many choices. That goes for a lot of things, then you have almost no choices on other things. The vanilla Oreos are good though, as an occasional treat.

    Everyone, click on Andy Hollandbeck’s wonderful new Mardi Gras feature Bob included here under Fat Tuesday for a fun, wild ride!


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