News of the Week: London’s Charlie Brown Tree, the Museum of Failure, and It’s a Wonderful Life Turns 75

In the news for the week ending December 10, 2021, are a tree problem in London, a vinyl bonanza, our favorite failures, and more.

A small, thin Christmas tree being weighed down by a single ornament

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Trafalgar Square’s Christmas Tree Problem

Previously on “News of the Week,” I talked about the lighting of the majestic Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. This week another big tree arrived, this time in London, but it didn’t get quite the same reception.

There seem to be a lot of gaps in the tree, and it’s just not as “full” as Londoners expected. One citizen said it “looks like it was left there since last year,” while another asked, “Have we gone to war with Norway?” (The tree has been an annual gift from Norway since 1947, a thank you for Britain’s help during World War II.)

Here’s a comparison of the Rockefeller Center and Trafalgar Square trees. The London Norwegian Spruce looked better after the lights came on. Well, kinda.

Uploaded to YouTube by Evening Standard

Vinyl Records Aren’t Just Back, They’re Now the No. 1 Physical Music Format

I know that everyone listens to/downloads music from Spotify and Apple Music and all of the other streaming services now (or listens to the free stuff on YouTube … shhhhhh), but I would have still thought that CDs were the physical music media that people were buying if they still bought physical music media. But nope, it’s vinyl, as The Hustle reports.

The Museum of Failure

Someone has to keep track of all of the tech, food, and pop culture products that didn’t make it, and The Museum of Failure does a pretty good job. Do you remember the Nike Magneto, futuristic sunglasses where you had to glue a magnet to your head so they would stay on? Or the Sony Google TV Remote, which was supposed to make TV viewing easier but looks more complicated to use than the controls of a NASA spacecraft? How about Heinz’s colored ketchups (Passion Pink! Blastin’ Green!)? And then there’s the McDonald’s Arch Deluxe, “the burger with the grown-up taste.”

Whatever that means.

75 Years of It’s a Wonderful Life

Some people might think it’s a safe, boring choice, but It’s a Wonderful Life is my favorite movie of all time (my second favorite is Miracle on 34th Street, which tells you a lot about me). Even though I already own a DVD of the film, I’m going to buy the new 75th anniversary edition Blu-ray, which comes with recipe cards.

Though a lot of people still seem to think the movie is shown 1,000 times a year (that was only true pre-1990s, when the copyright wasn’t current), NBC now has the exclusive rights to air the film and only shows it twice a year. The first showing has already happened, but you can catch it on its annual airing on Christmas Eve at 8 p.m. ET. (You can also watch it online.)

RIP Bob Dole, Eddie Mekka, LaMarr Hoyt, Antony Sher, Stonewall Jackson, Marie-Claire Blais, Yvonne Wilder, Melvin Parker, and Edward Shames

Bob Dole represented the state of Kansas as a U.S. senator for 27 years. He was a World War II veteran who ran for president three times, getting the Republican nomination in 1996, and was also running mate to Gerald Ford in 1976. He died Sunday at the age of 98.

Eddie Mekka was a Tony-nominated singer and dancer best known for his role as Carmine Ragusa on Laverne & Shirley. He died Saturday at the age of 69.

LaMarr Hoyt was a pitcher for the Chicago White Sox who won the Cy Young Award in 1983. He died last week at the age of 66.

Antony Sher was a revered stage and screen actor. He died last week at the age of 72.

Stonewall Jackson was a legendary country singer who spent over six decades in the Grand Ole Opry. He had a No. 1 hit with the song “Waterloo.” He died Saturday at the age of 89.

Marie-Claire Blais was an acclaimed Canadian novelist. She died last month at the age of 82.

Yvonne Wilder played Consuelo in the original film version of West Side Story, was part of the Colvin and Wilder comedy team, and appeared in dozens of TV shows and movies. She died last month at the age of 84.

Melvin Parker played drums for James Brown. That’s him on such classic songs as “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” and “I Got You (I Feel Good).” He died last week at the age of 77.

Edward Shames was the last surviving member of the U.S. Army company known as the “Band of Brothers.” He died last week at the age of 99.

This Week in History

Pearl Harbor Attacked (December 7, 1941)

As you can imagine, the Post covered the attack on Oahu, Hawaii, extensively, from the days before Pearl Harbor and a first-person account of the fighting on that day, to the story of the Hawaii Territorial Guard and American life after that December morning.

Here’s one story I never knew about, from The Washington Post, about how the attack forced the world’s first around-the-world commercial flight.

A Charlie Brown Christmas Premieres (December 9, 1965)

The dance sequence makes me laugh every single time. I once tried to re-create some of the moves the kids do. I fell down.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Giving Santa His Seat (December 10, 1955)

Little boy gives Santa his subway seat
“Giving Santa His Seat”
Richard Sargent
December 10, 1955

That’s not gonna do any good, kid.

It’s a Wonderful Life Recipes

If the recipe cards in the new Blu-ray aren’t enough, you can buy the cookbooks inspired by everyone’s favorite Christmas movie. The actress who played little Zuzu, Karolyn Grimes (who is now 81 and was recently interviewed by The New York Daily News), wrote one titled Zuzu Bailey’s It’s a Wonderful Life Cookbook. There’s also It’s a Wonderful Life: The Official Bailey Family Cookbook from Insight Editions (the recipes included with the Blu-ray come from it) and the It’s a Wonderful Life Cookbook from Sarah Key and Virginia Saxe Critton.

Grimes’s book can be previewed online, where you can see recipes such as Martini’s Fiesta Olive Spread, Ruth Dakin’s Bacon Wraps, Violet Bick’s Devilish Eggs, and the Bedford Falls Party Time Favorite Cheese Ball, among others.

Silver Screenings has recipes from The Official Bailey Family Cookbook, including Classic Holiday Roast Turkey and Clarence’s Angel Food Cake.

(Sure, these recipes aren’t actually from the movie, but they’re inspired by it and look pretty great.)

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Poinsettia Day (December 12)

It’s named after the person who first brought the plant to the United States, Doris Day. Just kidding! It was actually Joel Roberts Poinsett.

Bill of Rights Day (December 15)

The first ten amendments to the Constitution were ratified in 1791. In 1941, President Roosevelt declared December 15 Bill of Rights Day.

Featured image: Shutterstock

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  1. Well, probably one of the reasons London’s tree didn’t get a better reception is because our Rockefeller Center tree is just so amazingly beautiful and spectacular! Anyone else’s won’t fare too well compared to that, Bob. I like theirs, and it’s beautiful too when lit, just more low key. No “Ugly American” snobbery to our European friends.

    I’ve heard about the vinyl resurgence for awhile now. It’s a niche, but probably won’t get much past that. The costs of producing them (materials and process alone) don’t make them seem viable for too long. It’ll be interesting to see how long they fare in an era long past their time, as objects of curiosity. I’ve got a nice collection of LP’s from a long time ago, and can basically get any I want (now) from eBay. I need to replace my beautiful ‘Eldorado’ LP.

    The Museum of Failure is pretty interesting. I’m surprised that such a high percentage are comparatively recent actually. I hope they’re planning to expand it, because surely many more ‘failures’ are on their way in the coming years. I never even got to TRY any of the colored Heinz colored ketchups in the 2000’s, but did try their short-lived salsa version: ‘Heinz Ketchup—with a kick!” I loved it, so of course it was discontinued!

    I still caaaan’t watch ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ due to the early 90’s over-saturation of it; even now. Anyone that still thinks it’s still on all the time in December NOW is way off. ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ every few years is different. Great film, but mostly because Natalie Wood is one of my most favorite actresses. Her magic came through in everything she did. Gone far too soon; I still think of her often.

    Thanks for the links on Pearl Harbor. 80 years now! I also had no idea of how the attack forced the first around-the-world commercial flight. It makes sense. I always thought of it as starting after World War II. Wrong, obviously.

    Gotta love that ’55 Sargent POST cover in its totality. We have this lovable little boy that at least partially (from his eyes) believes in Santa Claus. He’s not taking any chances, and is wisely using an opportunity. The lady (presumably his mom) may be napping, or is fully awake with her face expressing the tedium and exhaustion of the Holidays that got old a long, long time ago.

    I was hard at work on my special Christmas cards, including a special envelope. The rest I’m doing and mailing Sunday and should be more (I’ll say it) coherent. Worked all week on getting a new part-time job until my main one starts up again per the portal mess. I can’t do it all, online. Two days of hitting the pavement physically, all dressed up was exhausting. By Thursday night I was La-La land!


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