News of the Week: Waiting for Winter, WIN Buttons, and What Happens When You Mix the Beatles with Mission: Impossible?

In the news for the week ending January 13, 2023, are creepy electronics, a lack of snow (your mileage may vary), inflation from 50 years ago, the loss of a guitar icon, and more.

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Let It Snow, Let It Snow, (Please) Let It Snow

Is it ever going to snow?

Readers in the Buffalo, New York, area may be scratching their heads over that question. They’re probably thinking, what is this guy talking about? I apologize, but we here in Massachusetts are still waiting for our first big storm.

Sure, we’ve had some cold days — though not as cold as they could be — but if you don’t count the few days where a few areas of the state have gotten a few inches, a sad scattering of white, we really haven’t had any major flakes.

I’m not looking for a giant snowstorm every week, but maybe one or two for the season? A storm that closes the schools. A storm that causes big snow drifts. A storm that creates a comforting night of lit pine candles, a hot cup of tea, and a good book. A storm that is so big the lead anchors on local news come in even on their day off and wear sweaters!

Sure, when March comes around and the snow banks are dirty and it’s hard to find a parking space again and everything is icy, I’ll be ready for spring. But it’s only the second week of January, so right now I want to go walking in a winter wonderland.

No, These Aren’t Creepy at All

There are always a lot of great, reasonable products unveiled at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, but there are also products that you can’t imagine buying (or maybe you can, if you’re this much into tech, which if you’re attending the CES, you probably are).

How about the Mutalk bluetooth microphone box that covers your entire mouth so other people around you can’t hear you. And if you pair it with a VR set, it looks like something from a movie set in the future where people are forced to play video games. I’m going to guess that the same people who have so much trouble wearing a mask to the grocery store will have no problem wearing this contraption for five hours a day.

Then there’s the Ring Always Home drone camera that flies around inside your house and tells you when someone left the faucet on or if a burglar is trying to get in. This will be extremely useful until the first time it flies right into your big-screen television (new ones of those were also unveiled at CES, of course).

Or maybe you’d like this robotic cat that is designed to … nibble your finger. It’s for people who love pets but don’t want to go to all of the trouble of actually owning one.

Whip Inflation Now!

If you think recent inflation is bad, you should know that it was at 12 percent at one point in the 1970s. CBS’s Mo Rocca has this report on President Ford’s plan to whip inflation, which involved a WIN button. It stood for Whip Inflation Now. Hey, even Archie Bunker wore one!

Uploaded to YouTube by CBS Sunday Morning

Something I Found Out This Week

There’s a lot of shady stuff on YouTube. I’m talking about the many, many (many) illegal uploads of movies, songs, and TV shows. So I was a little bit skeptical when I saw that every single episode of my favorite show of all time, The Dick Van Dyke Show, is now available on the site. But it’s legit! Film Rise, billed as the largest independent provider of content to streaming services, apparently has the official rights to air the show online.

And it’s not the only Film Rise show you can watch for free. They’ve also uploaded episodes of many others, including The Rifleman, That Girl, Dragnet, The Lone Ranger, Bonanza, Crime Story, and the great NBC 80’s action show Stingray.

RIP Lisa Marie Presley, Bernard Kalb, Jeff Beck, Adam Rich, Russell Banks, Blake Hounshell, Don Williams, Earl Boen, Owen Roizman, Quinn Redeker, Alan Copeland, Jean Paré and Jack Bender

Lisa Marie Presley was a singer and songwriter and the daughter of Elvis Presley and Priscilla Presley. She died Thursday at the age of 54.

Bernard Kalb was a longtime correspondent who started writing for the Army during World War II (his editor was Dashiell Hammett!) and then worked for The New York Times, CBS, and NBC. He was the first host of CNN’s Reliable Sources and the brother of journalist Marvin Kalb. He died last week at the age of 100.

Jeff Beck was one of the greatest guitarists in rock history. He played with the Yardbirds in the 1960s and fronted many of his own bands and released several solo albums. He died Tuesday at the age of 78.

Adam Rich played the youngest child of the Bradford clan, Nicholas, on Eight Is Enough. He died Saturday at the age of 54.

Russell Banks was the author of such acclaimed novels as Continental Drift and Cloudsplitter, as well as several works of short stories and poems. He died Sunday at the age of 82.

Blake Hounshell was the “On Politics” editor for The New York Times. Before that he was a managing editor at Foreign Policy and an editor at Politico. He died Tuesday at the age of 44.

Don Williams was the last surviving member of the Williams Brothers Quartet, which included his brother Andy. He died last week at the age of 100.

Earl Boen was a familiar face (and voice) who appeared in dozens of TV shows, films, and video games over the years. He died last week at the age of 81.

Owen Roizman was the cinematographer on many classic films, including The Exorcist, The French Connection, Three Days of the Condor, Tootsie, and Network. He died last week at the age of 86.

Quinn Redeker appeared in such movies as The Candidate, Ordinary People, and The Three Stooges Meet Hercules but is probably best known for his roles on Days of Our Lives and The Young and the Restless. He died last month at the age of 88.

Alan Copeland arranged vocals for such people as Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Jo Stafford, and Sarah Vaughan, and as a singer with the Modernaires appeared on Your Hit Parade and The Red Skelton Show. He also won a Grammy for this unlikely mix of the Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood” and the theme from Mission: Impossible. He died last month at the age of 96.

Jean Paré was one of Canada’s most popular cooks, selling 30 million copies of her self-published cookbooks. She died on Christmas Eve at the age of 95.

Jack Bender drew the comic strip Alley Oop from 1991 to 2001. He also wrote and illustrated many sports books. He died last week at the age of 91.

This Week in History

Elvis Presley Born (January 8, 1935)

He brought sex to The Ed Sullivan Show, flopped the first time he played in Vegas, and still brings in a lot of money.

Breakup of the Bell System (January 8, 1982)

Is it weird that I kinda miss the Bell monopoly? I also miss heavy black landline rotary phones, calling an operator, and busy signals.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Bell Telephone ad (January 9, 1937)

I wonder whatever became of Kathryn and her brother?

Today Is Gluten-Free Day

Don’t click away from the column yet! Just because something is gluten-free doesn’t mean it’s bad.

Like this Chickpea Chocolate Cake from the Northern Pulse Growers Association. Or how about this Gluten-Free Oven-Fried Chicken from Eat This, Not That? Delish has these Best Stuffed Peppers, and The Minimalist Baker has recipes for The Best Gluten-Free Pizza Crust and Sauce.

If you’re like me and you’ve never been quite sure what a gluten-free diet is and why it’s important for some people, the Mayo Clinic explains. (And if you’re wondering, mayo is often gluten-free.)

 Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Australian Open Starts (January 15)

Several top stars have pulled out of the tournament, including Carlos Alcaraz, Naomi Osaka, and Venus Williams. ESPN and The Tennis Channel will have coverage.

Wikipedia Day (January 15)

According to Wikipedia anyway.

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  1. Van Reid, you’re right. Bitter Joyce Carol Oates doesn’t seem to know the facts you mentioned here about rear projection driving scenes, that were only momentary incidental scenes continuing the story briefly in the car.

    Subconsciously, she probably wanted it filmed in a manner where Grace Kelly could have gotten killed in a car crash.

    The effects in silent films were more advanced for their time than the total crutch CGI is in today’s brain dead garbage. There’s nothing there OTHER than CGI.

    Special effects has been reduced to that, and endless pyrotechnics almost exclusively.

    So Joyce thinks Hitchcock is an overrated director (and more) per the above. We know she loves Andrew Dominik and Brad Pitt though, that created her ‘Blonde’ movie of lies last year to try and destroy Marilyn, which it’s not by the way, at all.

    Most likely Joyce has been harboring immense jealousy over both gorgeous Marilyn and Grace since the 50s, and got her “revenge” on Marilyn with her book years ago, finally made into the horrifically horrible ‘Blonde’.

    Joyce really showed Marilyn a thing or two. “I’ll get you my pretty!”

  2. Wow! Joyce Carroll Oates doesn’t seem to know that the use of rear projection during driving scenes in the movies of Hitchcock’s era was a standard used by many directors. Or that it was what film technology was capable of at the time. Or that, just as techniques of silent films might seem odd or artificial to us, now, this particular element would not have stood out the same way for the film’s original audience. And what great work of art is not manipulating it’s audience? Art, after all, is artifice put to specific motives, effects, and ends.

  3. As a retired rural telecommunications employee I well remember the government breakup of Ma Bell in the early-mid 1980s. In one way, the divestiture of the Baby Bells was a detriment to the rural areas and Judge Green did not take that into account. There were still remote areas of the Baby Bells being served by open wire and lead (not copper) cable throughout the United States. On the other hand, it spawned companies like MCI, LCI, Sprint, Verizon and I could go on and on. I helped bring in the information age of the internet, email, and file transfers. Oh and by the way, I still keep landline service and one of the phones at my home is a black rotary dial phone which still works and I make calls and receive calls from.

  4. You neglected to mention the passing of Robbie Knievel, who was an even better motorcycle daredevil than his father Evel. You also failed to mention the passing of Gerry Coetzee, former WBC Boxing Heavyweight Champion. Both passed away after their respective battles with cancer.

  5. Glad to see you’re talking about the weather again. With the horrible storms in Ca., combined with the cold, further cold much less ANY snow, is the last thing I’d want. You’re still waiting for your first big storm. Be careful what you wish for though, and I’ll leave it at that.

    President Ford meant well. I didn’t realize the inflation numbers were THAT high while he was in office. Stagflation is one thing from the 70s that’s never gone away. Joyce Carol Oates has once again made untrue, ridiculous comments she knows will incite controversy, bringing her attention, even if negative.

    Very sad about Lisa Marie Presley. Losing her son as she did 2 years ago, plus all of the inescapable pressures of being Elvis Presley’s child under a microscope since childhood, took their final toll 2 days ago. May she rest in peace. I pray for Priscilla as this shocking sudden loss may be too much for her to bear.


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