News of the Week: Re-readable Books, Edible Hearts, and the Comfort of the Phone on the Wind

In the news for the week ending February 7, 2020, are new books, old candy, rotary phones, pepperoni pizza, and much more.

Candy Valentine hearts

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New Books

I don’t know what the weather has been like where you are, but it’s been bizarre here. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a winter wonderland across the street from where I live, but since then we’ve had record warmth. Temps in the 50s, no snow, very un-winter-wonderland-like. It snowed a little yesterday, but then it turned to sleet and rain, and it just hasn’t been the winter anyone thought it would be. If this winter were a cocktail, it would be described as “weak and watered down.”

It’s not the type of weather where you “curl up with a good book,” but then again there’s never a bad time for that, is there? Here are five new ones you might want to check out.

Unfinished Business: Notes of a Chronic Re-reader, by Vivian Gornick. The 84-year-old writer decided to go back and reread the books that influenced her life and her career. I know I learn a lot and enjoy rereading books I’ve read before, so I’m anxious to read this.

Summer Snow, by Robert Hass. This is the National Book Award winner’s first collection of poems in a decade.

The Longing for Less: Living With Minimalism, by Kyle Chayka. I think we all have a secret desire to live with less and do less. Most of us can’t actually do it, but Chayka has written a great guide to the lifestyle from the world of Marie Kondo, Instagram, and the minimalist art of people like John Cage and Agnes Martin.

The Splendid and the Vile, by Erik Larson. The author of such popular books as The Devil in the White City and Isaac’s Storm takes a look at how Winston Churchill held Britain together during World War II.

Script for Scandal, by Renee Patrick. Patrick is actually the pseudonym for the husband-and-wife mystery writing team of Vince and Rosemarie Keenan. This is the third entry in their Lillian Frost & Edith Head series. If you like fun mysteries and Turner Classic Movies and just really engaging writing, you’ll love this series. Massively entertaining.

Candy News, Just in Time for Valentine’s Day

The New England Confectionery Company, makers of such classic candies as Necco wafers, Clark Bars, the Sky Bar, Mary Janes, and those little Sweetheart conversation hearts, suddenly went out of business two years ago. It looked like those candies were never coming back, but then came word that a Pittsburgh company would continue to make Clark Bars and a company in Massachusetts had bought the rights to the Sky Bar.

But did you know that Sweethearts are also back? Spangler, the Ohio candy company that makes Dum Dums and many of the candy canes you eat at Christmas (they also bought the rights to the Necco wafers), are making the candy now and they’re back in stores just in time for Valentine’s Day next week. They’re a little different than you remember (an equipment problem means there will be fewer phrases printed on the candies) and they might not be found everywhere, but they’re back. Check national chains like CVS or Walgreens. They’ll be back in full force next year.

In other breaking candy news, Reese’s Take 5 just took over the “World’s Biggest Candy Bar” title from Snickers.

The Phone on the Wind

There’s a phone booth in Provincetown, Massachusetts, that lets you talk to the dead.

It’s not as spooky as it sounds. It’s an old phone booth in the Provincetown Gardens on Bradford Street, set up to allow anyone who wants to “call” loved ones they have lost to tell them what they meant to them. A group of local artists came up with the idea to help people cope with loss. What makes the project powerful is the fact that you don’t just call a random number; you physically call the number the person had when they were alive.

How old is the phone booth? It has a rotary phone. So not only is this a nice idea, you could even bring along someone younger to show them exactly how a rotary phone worked.

RIP Kirk Douglas, Mary Higgins Clark, John Andretti, Fred Silverman, Gene Reynolds, Steve Martin Caro, Wes Wilson, and William Bogert

Kirk Douglas was one of the few remaining links to a Hollywood that doesn’t really exist anymore. He starred in such classic films as Spartacus, Out of the Past, The Bad and the Beautiful, Ace in the Hole, Detective Story, Seven Days in May, and Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, among many others. He died Wednesday at the age of 103.

The Post interviewed Douglas twice over the years, once in 1957 and again in 1986.

Mary Higgins Clark wrote for various magazines when she started out, including a 1961 story for the Post titled “Beauty Contest at Buckingham Palace,” before going on to become one of the best-selling suspense authors of all time. She died last week at the age of 92.

Here’s a great interview with Higgins Clark from CBS Sunday Morning in 2017.

Uploaded to YouTube by CBS Sunday Morning

John Andretti was the first person to attempt racing in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. He won events in the NASCAR, Rolex, and IndyCar series and was part of the famous Andretti racing family: His uncle was Indianapolis 500 winner Mario Andretti, his father was Aldo Andretti, and he was a cousin to Michael Andretti. He died last month at the age of 56.

Fred Silverman was the only person to be in charge of programming at all three major networks: CBS, ABC, and NBC. He was responsible for such hits as All in the Family, Charlie’s Angels, The Waltons, and Hill Street Blues. He was the man who hired David Letterman for a morning show, hired David Hartman for Good Morning, America, and even came up with the idea for Scooby-Doo. He later went on to produce such shows as Matlock, Diagnosis: Murder, and the Perry Mason TV movies. He died last week at the age of 82.

Gene Reynolds started out as a child actor, appearing in many films in the ’30s and ’40s, but then had a second career behind the camera. He produced shows like M*A*S*H, Room 222, and Lou Grant, and directed dozens of episodes of TV shows like The Andy Griffith Show, Hogan’s Heroes, 77 Sunset Strip, Leave It to Beaver, and My Three Sons. He died Monday at the age of 96.

Here’s a remembrance of Reynolds by writer Ken Levine.

Steve Martin Caro was the lead singer for The Left Banke, the band that had such hits as “Walk Away Renée.” He died last month at the age of 71.

Wes Wilson designed many of the iconic psychedelic concert posters of the ’60s featured in the July/August 2017 issue of the Post. He died last month at the age of 82.

William Bogert appeared in many TV shows, including Chappelle’s Show, Small Wonder, The Greatest American Hero, M*A*S*H, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, but was also the star of one of the cleverest political ads of all time, Lyndon Johnson’s “Confessions of a Republican” spot, which I featured in this column back in 2016. He died last month at the age of 83.

This Week in History

Oxford English Dictionary First Published (February 1, 1884)

Yup, “duh” is in the OED. It was added in 2001.

Ronald Reagan Born (February 6, 1911)

The Post profiled the future president in a 1966 cover story, about his chances for becoming governor of California. (Spoiler alert: He won.)

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Man Riding Phone Ad (February 3, 1945)

Telephone ad featuring a Navy sailor riding a receiver

We all carry supercomputers in our pockets now, but 75 years ago, phones were so big you could jump on them and fly anywhere you wanted.

Sunday Is National Pizza Day

I could eat pizza every single day. Okay, that’s not exactly true — too much of a good thing, etc. — but it’s the food I think of when I imagine such a scenario. It’s pretty much perfect. It has sauce, cheese, bread, maybe some meat or vegetables, it’s not that expensive, it’s sold everywhere, and you can hold it in your hand.

If you’d like to make your own at home, here are three recipes from Curtis Stone, including Tomato-Kalamata Olive, Grilled Flatbreads with Garlic-Rosemary Oil, and Mozzarella, Cherry Tomatoes, and Pesto. Looking for an appetizer? How about these Veggie Pizza Appetizers made with crescent rolls?

That’s a lot of veggies, isn’t it? Then try this Homemade Pepperoni Pizza from Simply Recipes. Because pepperoni is the best pizza topping. Don’t even try to argue with me.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

92nd Academy Awards (February 9)

Here’s a list of the nominees you can print out so you can make your own picks. No printer? No paper? Here’s another list.

Galentine’s Day (February 13)

That’s not a typo. Valentine’s Day is the 14th, but Galentine’s Day is celebrated the day before. It’s from Parks and Recreation, and it’s the day that girlfriends get together to celebrate female friendship.

Featured image: Shutterstock

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  1. Well Bob, I hope the temps in your neck of the woods improve to your liking. To think that Antarctica is warmer (at 65 degrees) is a chilling, terrifying thought. Today’s Saturday Evening Post has been very environmentally conscious over the past several years, and I’m sure will continue to be as global warming accelerates on this dire course.

    The phone in the wind seems to be a useful tool per this news report in helping the people of Provincetown, Ma. cope by saying what still needs to be said.

    Sorry to hear about several of these passings. Steve Martin Caro was so talented as the lead singer for The Left Banke. A lesser known hit, but possibly even better (?) was the hauntingly beautiful “Pretty Ballerina”. Check it out on YouTube. There’s even a version with a beautiful cartoon of a pretty ballerina. Another song only possible in the ’60s, which itself continues to haunt every decade that’s followed it.

    The sailor riding the telephone receiver is a great ad from the ’40s. There’s just something about a “real” telephone that’s wonderful. The Academy Awards are just another long-dead thing that few outside that industry care about. I’m sure the ratings will continue to reflect that. When the camera pans out to the “stars” sitting there, it’s like trying to tell one look-alike 4 door sedan/SUV from another; totally generic and non-distinctive. It’s okay though, because it doesn’t matter anymore anyway.


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