News of the Week: DVDs, Deli Closings, and the Dangers of a Misappropriated Umlaut

In the news for the week ending April 21, 2023, are a change for Netflix, saving small-town general stores, Babe Ruth and Yogi Berra, and more.


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Random Notes

Netflix is ending its DVD-by-mail service. In related news, until recently, Netflix still had a DVD-by-mail service.

I still buy DVDs. I know a lot of people just do streaming or digital movies or YouTube, but I like having a physical copy of things. You never know when your digital copies of movies or music will suddenly “vanish” when the studio or artist wants to take back rights or come out with a new version (I’ve had that happen several times). And with the ways they’re deleting “problematic” episodes of shows like The Simpsons and 30 Rock, it’s good to have physical copies they can’t take away.

The cashier at the supermarket got irritated with me because I wasn’t helping her bag my groceries. What is the etiquette here? I always always always help! I always put the heavy things into the cart myself so they don’t have to do it — 12 packs of water, gallons of milk, big items — but am I supposed to actually bag everything too? Is there a cleanup in aisle 6 I should tend to as well?

April is a weird month for weather. The other day it was almost 90 in Boston, and as I type this it’s rainy and in the 50s. I turn the heat off and then the very next day I have to turn it up again. One night I’m sweating under my comforter, and the next I’m so chilly I have to put the comforter over me even during the day. Make up your mind, April.

I have seen every episode of Everybody Loves Raymond at least 20 times (no joke). Is that weird?

On trash day a couple of weeks ago I noticed that there were two bags of hair next to my trash bags. Odd, but then I remembered that there’s a dog grooming place next door.

I saw Two Bags of Hair open up for R.E.M. back in ’84.

I just realized I forgot to get chicken. Great, now I have to go back to that store.

Saving Small-Town General Stores

Supermarkets are super and convenience stores are convenient, selling everything you might possibly need, but they’re not the same as small-town general stores. They’re usually cold, corporate places, and even the better ones can’t compare to what you’ll find in a general store run by a family or friends, with their penny candy and knick-knacks alongside the essential supplies. CBS Sunday Morning did a segment on a couple of New England general stores this week.

Uploaded to YouTube by CBS Sunday Morning

Goodbye Hello Deli

I honestly thought that the Hello Deli, made famous on CBS’s Late Show with David Letterman because it was right next door to the Ed Sullivan Theater, went out of business years ago. But it’s still around! Until owner Rupert Jee finds an owner, that is. Jee is retiring and looking for someone to take over the business.

Jee’s appearances on the show, along with appearances from other “regular” people, were some of the best moments from Letterman’s run on the network. Here’s a segment from 2001 featuring Jee and a lucky bystander outside the studio who was invited to play a game with Letterman (and here’s a collection of other Jee/Letterman segments, if you have two hours to spare).

Stephen Colbert should do something to celebrate the deli (his show is done in the same studio as Letterman’s). Jee was on the show when Colbert got a bad BLT.

Headline of the Week

“Jethro Tull Legend Ian Anderson Says Motörhead and Mötley Crüe Are Misappropriating Umlauts”

RIP Anne Perry, Ahmad Jamal, Virginia Norwood, Mary Quant, Ed Koren, Charles Stanley, Blair Tindall, Emily Marshall, and Murray Melvin

Anne Perry — real name Juliet Hulme — was the author of several popular crime novels. She was also the subject of the 1994 Peter Jackson film Heavenly Creatures, which helped reveal her secret past. She died last week at the age of 84.

Ahmad Jamal was an acclaimed jazz pianist who influenced many artists, including Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock. He died Sunday at the age of 92.

Virginia Norwood was the scientist who invented the technology, used by the Landsat satellite system, that has helped map the Earth from space for the past 50 years. She died last month at the age of 96.

Mary Quant was an influential fashion designer who helped popularize swinging ’60s fashion, including the miniskirt. She died last week at the age of 93.

Starting in 1962, Ed Koren drew 1,100 cartoons for The New Yorker. His work also appeared in The New York Times, Esquire, Time, Newsweek, Vanity Fair, The Nation, and many other publications. He died last week at the age of 87.

Charles Stanley was a pastor and televangelist who hosted the TV and radio show In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley for many years. He died Tuesday at the age of 90.

Blair Tindall was an oboist and writer whose controversial memoir Mozart in the Jungle was made into an Amazon Prime series. She died last week at the age of 63.

Emily Marshall was a secretary for The Tonight Show who went on to become a sitcom writer, working on such shows as Newhart, Rhoda, Designing Women, and WKRP in Cincinnati. She died last month at the age of 79.

Murray Melvin appeared in such movies as Barry Lyndon, Alfie, and The Phantom of the Opera, TV shows like Starhunter and Oscar’s Orchestra, and many stage plays. He died last week at the age of 90.

This Week in History

First Appearance of Daffy Duck (April 17, 1937)

It was in Porky’s Duck Hunt, and … let’s just say that Daffy was quite crazy in his early days.

Red Baron Shot Down (April 21, 1918)

The German flying ace — real name Manfred von Richthofen — was credited with at least 80 aerial victories before being shot down and killed flying over the Morlancourt Ridge in France.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Yogi Berra cover (April 20, 1957)

On this Earl Mayan cover, Warren Spahn predicted that the Milwaukee Braves would win the National League pennant. They did indeed win the pennant. In fact, they won the championship that year.

April Is National Soft Pretzel Month

Soft pretzels are something you have at a ball game, but let’s find some more interesting recipes (not that there’s anything wrong with just having a soft pretzel on its own).

Modern Crumb has these Three-Cheese Stuffed Soft Pretzels, while Food Network has a Giant Spinach-Dip-Stuffed Pretzel. How Sweet Eats (I was confused by the name but I think it’s a take on the phrase “how sweet it is”) has a Panzanella made with soft pretzels and a mustard vinaigrette. Spiced has these Chicken Bacon Ranch Pretzels, and for dessert you can make these Chocolate Chip Cookie Stuffed Soft Pretzels.

Suddenly I have a massive craving for a soft pretzel stuffed with chocolate chip cookies.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Babe Ruth Day (April 27)

Yogi Berra never played with Ruth, but he did pose for a picture with him, just two months before Ruth died.

Take Our Sons and Daughters to Work Day (April 27)

If you work from home, it’s Take Our Sons and Daughters to My Desk in the Corner of My Bedroom Day.

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  1. General Stores are important to thriving small towns and communities. I have seen cases where the general stores also housed the local post office and bank. When they close often the town or community becomes a “ghost town/community.” This happens all over the United States. It’s very sad in a way. In Mt Airy, TN where I grew up, the local Pope & Johnson General Merchandise served as the local post office, grocery store, hardware store, shoe store, clothing store, feed & fertilizer store, and building supplies store. My parents home was built from supplies purchased from Pope & Johnson. My Dad purchased feed and farm supplies from Pope & Johnson. My Mom, Memaw, and Grannie purchased grocery items from Pope & Johnson or off the “Rolling Store” it operated that served outlying communities surrounding Mt Airy on different days of the week. I was fortunate to have grown up in a time we could go to their store and pull out a cold soft drink out of their chest cooler and grab a candy bar out of their glassed candy bar case and the total amount paid would be 25 cents or less. Pope & Johnson opened in 1906 and closed in the mid 1980s. I wish my kids had the experience I did. I always looked forward going with my Dad to “Mt Airy” where everyone hung out to talk about the local and national happenings and gossip. Those were the days. These millenials have no idea what they missed out on.

  2. I didn’t know Netflix was ending its DVD-by-mail service until reading about it here. Everything’s so unstable, and getting worse. The only way to be sure you’ll always have that film or TV series you love, is to own the DVD’s of it, as it can just be gone on some kind of corporate whim.

    I’ve been lucky with ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ on Hulu, but they recently took away ‘I Love Lucy’ when I need/want a mid-century escape. I’d like to find ‘The Lucy Show’ and ‘Here’s Lucy’ for that matter. Her 2nd and 3rd series’ are great too. She’s ‘Lucy’ in all of them. The point is, I have to BUY the DVD’s for sure assurance.

    Bob. I spoke with that neat lady again on Wednesday at the Gelson’s I wrote of in your Feb. 24, 2023 ‘News’ column. The small, thin 80-something lady with the big beautiful blue ’75 Olds 98 station wagon with that wonderful faux wood along the side. She was just buying a few items and so was I. (Her name is Betty).

    She told me she just got her beautiful new POST about 2 weeks ago with the American eagle on the cover, and just loves it, thanking me so much, ‘telling everybody about it’. She called the number I gave her right away, and the rest is recent history!

    I love seeing this Earl Mayan cover all lit up here. A baseball classic if there ever was one. Don’t get too carried away with the pretzel logic of over indulgence on these pretzel treats.


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