News of the Week: Magic Tricks, the Wright Brothers on Mars, and Spaghetti Doesn’t Grow on Trees

In the news for the week ending April 2, 2021, are stupid magic tricks, classic large-scale pranks, interplanetary deliveries, 31 days of Oscars, 480,000 works of art, and more.

Magician performing card tricks to children
Norman Rockwell / © SEPS

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The Change in Your Pocket

The other day I was thinking about magician Mark Wilson, who died in January. I remember watching him on TV when I was a kid and owning the magic kit and a popular book he wrote. I know I don’t have either of those things anymore — it’s been over 40 years and many moves since I’ve used them — but I wanted to see if I had any magic books at all. I was really into magic at one point. (I still remember shocking my mother by making a salt shaker disappear.)

I didn’t find any books, but oddly — you could even say magically! — I found in a box a piece of paper with a magic trick written on it. I don’t remember writing it down, but I must have done it years ago, either from a book or something I found online. Here it is so you can do it to astound your family and friends.

Take your age and multiply by two. Add five. Multiply by 50. Subtract 365 and add the loose change in your pocket under a dollar. Add 115.

The first two digits of the number you come up with are your age, and that last two is the amount of change you had in your pocket. Amazing!

Okay, so it’s not really “magic” so much as it’s just “math.” But math has always been a little mysterious to me.

From Kitty Hawk to Mars

I’m sure Orville and Wilbur Wright had no idea that a piece of their famous plane would one day end up on another planet, but that’s exactly what happened, as NASA put a piece of fabric from the plane inside the solar panels of the Ingenuity helicopter, which is currently on the red planet.

Pepsi Meets Peeps

If you really, really love sugar, you’re probably going to love Pepsi’s new Peeps-flavored Easter soda. Though they really should have gone with the name “Peepsi.”

The Louvre Is Now Online

Being able to view the artwork from museums online isn’t a new thing, but hey, this is the Louvre we’re talking about. The Paris museum, home to the Mona Lisa and other famous works, has put all of the items they have on their site (that’s 480,000 items), and you can view them for free.

31 Days of Oscar

Turner Classic Movies always has great movies on their schedule, but there’s one month of the year when it’s somehow even more special.

TCM has started their annual “31 Days of Oscar” marathon to coincide with the month that the Academy Awards air (it’s usually in February or March, but the ceremony has been pushed back to April this year). They’re airing Oscar-winning films (and maybe a few that didn’t win Oscars but are still great), and they’re doing it in alphabetical order.

It started yesterday so you’ve already missed Adam’s Rib and An American in Paris, but the Bs start today and there are plenty of terrific flicks left.

RIP Larry McMurtry, Beverly Cleary, G. Gordon Liddy, Richard Gilliland, Craig muMs Grant, and Robert Rodan

With his Hermes 3000 typewriter (he didn’t own a computer), Larry McMurtry wrote several critically acclaimed novels, including Lonesome Dove, Terms of Endearment, and Horseman, Pass By, along with screenplays for such movies as Brokeback Mountain and The Last Picture Show. He also owned one of the largest independent bookstores in the country. He died last week at the age of 84.

Beverly Cleary was the author of several popular children’s books involving Ramona and Beezus Quimby and Henry Huggins and his dog Ribsy, along with many spinoff books. She died last week at the age of 104.

One little-known fact about Cleary: In the late ’50s/early ’60s, she wrote several Leave It to Beaver tie-in novels!

G. Gordon Liddy was a Republican adviser who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for masterminding the 1972 break-in at the Watergate Hotel. His sentence was commuted by President Carter after four years. He was later a radio talk show host. He died Tuesday at the age of 90.

Richard Gilliland appeared in such TV shows as Designing Women (in real life he was married to star Jean Smart), Operation Petticoat, McMillan & Wife, The Waltons, Desperate Housewives, 24, Heartland, and many others. He died earlier this month at the age of 71.

Craig muMs Grant was an actor and poet who appeared in the TV series Oz, as well as The Sopranos, Chappelle’s Show, The Knick, and NCIS: New Orleans. He died last week at the age of 52.

Robert Rodan played Adam, the Frankenstein-ish monster on Dark Shadows. He died last week at the age of 83.

This Week in History

BBC Airs “Spaghetti Tree” April Fools’ Report (April 1, 1957)

A lot of viewers actually fell for this because spaghetti wasn’t quite as well known in Britain back then as it is today.

Here’s more on how this joke was pulled off (Uploaded to YouTube by MySwitzerland)

Apple Computer Founded (April 1, 1976)

Most people know the names Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, but there was a third person involved in the creation of the computer company in Jobs’s garage in Los Altos, California. His name is Ronald Wayne. He worked with Jobs and Wozniak at Atari.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Easter Ham (March 31, 1945)

Magazine ad for Swift Ham
Swift Ham advertisement from the Post‘s March 31, 1945 issue.

Did you know that most Easter hams are caught in the Pacific Ocean, just a few miles from Hawaii?

Easter Is This Sunday

Easter sort of sneaked up on me this year, and I bet it did to you too. It’s one of those holidays that my family used to celebrate all the time, with one of the above hams, but we haven’t in quite some time. But if you are, here are some things you might want to try.

Let’s start with the ham. Here’s a classic recipe from AllRecipes. The Pioneer Woman has recipes for two side dishes: Pea Salad and Baked Mashed Potatoes with Crispy Shallots. For dessert, this Old-Fashioned Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting from Taste of Home looks good, or these Marshmallow Easter Eggs.

Oh, that’s right, I mentioned spaghetti earlier. How about this Easter Spaghetti Pie from Kraft? It has ham in it.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

National Library Week (April 4-10)

This would be a good week to borrow something by Larry McMurtry or Beverly Cleary from your local library.

Read a Road Map Day (April 5)

Kids, road maps are like Google Maps if you printed Google Maps out and folded them.

Featured image: Norman Rockwell / © SEPS

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  1. Not one word about the weather, Bob? I know it’s been freezing this past week (still) in much of the country. In Northwest L.A. it was over 90 earlier this week. I had to use the a/c in my condo Thursday evening. I walk in at 9 pm and it’s 86 degrees! It got cooled down to 74 fairly quickly, then off. That’s cold enough.

    Thanks for the link on The Louvre. I love to study works of art. So enriching to the heart and mind; so soothing to the soul. Also a great antidote for life in 2021; God. Also the one for TCM. I should get hooked up with that. I saw ‘Lady In A Cage’ (1963) with Olivia de Havilland recently on Hulu. One of the scariest films I’ve ever seen.

    She was just a few months younger than Beverly Cleary, who would have been 105 this month. My mom used to get her books for me at the library. Very talented author that really knew how to write for children. Kind of a female equivalent to Dr. Seuss if you think about it.

    Robert Rodan was excellent on ‘Dark Shadows’ as Adam during the show’s peak year in ’68. Unfortunately he didn’t get to play other characters on the show like a lot of the other actors. Exactly 50 years ago this week the show ended. Friday, 4/2/71. The one commonality 2021 has with 1971: the calendar is identical.

    That ‘Spaghetti Tree’ video from ’57 looked real to me. I can see how a lot of people in Britain could have been fooled if spaghetti really was that unknown back then. Wasn’t spaghetti popular in the U.S. by then? It had to be. It was featured in that ’55 episode of ‘I Love Lucy’ with William Holden where Ethel had to get out the scissors out of her purse at the Brown Derby to cut the spaghetti!


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