News of the Week: Sitcoms of the Past, Sci-Fi of the Present, and the Future of Cereal

Leave It to Kasich


Did you see that the classic sitcom Leave it to Beaver was in the news this week? It wasn’t in a good way, though. Here’s the quick back story: GOP Presidential contender John Kasich angered people — people are so quick to be “angered” nowadays — because he explained during a town hall in Virginia how he first got elected back in 1978:

“I didn’t have anybody for me. We just got an army of people who — and many women — who left their kitchens to go out and go door to door and to put yard signs up for me all the way back, you know, when things were different.”

Can you pick out the part that has everyone flipping out? That’s right, he dared to say that women left their kitchens! My God, this must mean he absolutely hates women and thinks they should quit their jobs and just go home and raise babies!

There are so many silly reactions to this story, like this blog post at Jezebel and this unfair piece at The Daily Beast, which comes complete with a doctored photo that replaces Hugh Beaumont’s face with Kasich’s (a picture that’s supposed to be insulting but I think is actually a compliment) and a snarky headline about being “a ’50s dad” (thereby insulting all ’50s dads). First of all, what’s wrong with a mother (or a dad) putting their home first? Kasich talked about all people in his quote and said it was a different time (even if he could have said it in a less clunky way). Second, this isn’t current thinking — he was referencing something that happened almost 40 years ago, and while even in the ’70s women had been in the workplace for many years, many were homemakers or juggling both home and career, and he was referring to a real grass-roots campaign. Kasich released a statement explaining his quote a little more clearly, and of course he doesn’t think what people are accusing him of thinking.

In the past 30+ years, it has become the default position that the 1950s were bad, and it’s not a time we want to return to. It’s not? Why? Sure, there were “bad” things about the ’50s, but that means you can’t like the ’30s (the Depression!) or the ’40s (war!) or the ’60s (assassinations and riots!) or the ’80s (all that greed and cocaine, and if you’re on the left, there was Reagan!) because some of it was “bad.” Lots of terrible things about 2016, too, if you haven’t noticed, even if we do have snazzy smartphones and easy access to antibiotics. No era is perfect. But when people wax nostalgic about a certain period, they’re not doing it because they miss the bad stuff; it’s because they want some of that good stuff today.

And to defend Leave it to Beaver specifically, have you watched it lately? It contains a lot more wisdom than you might remember, and we could do worse than listening to the advice of Ward Cleaver.

Believe me, the current presidential candidates are saying plenty of things that we should be angered about. Many, many things. Kasich’s comment isn’t one of them.

The Anger Is Out There

Another finale, another controversy.

Fans of The Sopranos and Lost were upset with those shows when they ended their runs with less-than-satisfying final episodes. But at least those episodes were actual conclusions. You may have hated the way they were handled, and maybe you didn’t like the answers, but at least they were answers. This week’s season (series?) finale of The X-Files ended ‑— SPOILER ALERT — with Mulder (and millions around the world) dying from a mysterious illness, Scully trying to find an antidote to save the world, and an alien spacecraft shining a light on our heroes, about to either abduct them or kill them. Roll credits!

Many fans aren’t too happy about it.

Creator Chris Carter says that this is nothing new, that the episodes and season finales of the show often ended on a cliffhanger. True, but back then we knew the show was absolutely coming back. There’s no guarantee it will this time, though Carter and stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson would like to see it continue. Sure, if I were a betting man, I’d say they’ll do another season (or a movie to end the story). The ratings were good and the fans are loyal. But I think those fans were looking for things to be just a little more wrapped up in this short, six-episode run.

Saving America’s Radio Heritage

car radio

The Radio Preservation Task Force is not a new NCIS spinoff coming this fall to CBS; it’s actually part of the National Recording Preservation Board, an organization that is trying to save the many recordings and other historic information that often vanish after a radio station changes hands or goes out of business. RPTF chair Christopher Sterling is trying to save all of that American radio history.

You can also learn more about the project at the official RPTF site.

What Is Canada?

The answer is: People of this country are currently banned from becoming contestants on Jeopardy!

That’s right, if you live in Canada and want to be on the popular game show, you’re out of luck. Because of a change in Canada’s online privacy laws, including an anti-spam law passed in 2014 and a digital privacy law passed in 2015, you can’t apply to be on the show online. It will probably be cleared up in the future, but it’s really sad that it will be a long, long time before we see Justin Bieber on the show.

The only Canadian allowed on Jeopardy! right now? Host Alex Trebek.

Cereal Killers

Another quick question: Can you guess why millennials don’t eat cereal? (I know, why would that question occur to anyone, but just play along.) Is it…

Actually, it’s none of those reasons. In a rather fascinating piece for The New York Times about the future of cereal, Kim Severson cites a 2015 report that says that almost 40% of Millennials — people born roughly between the years 1981 and 1996 — don’t like eating cereal “because they had to clean up after eating it.”

Is cereal really that messy? I mean, you pour it into one bowl and eat it with a spoon. You just close the box and then clean the bowl and spoon. Seems like one of the more fast and convenient meals. God help these people if they ever have to make spaghetti and meatballs, nachos, or steak.

If he were dead, Jerry Seinfeld would be turning over in his grave.

How to Close a Bag of Chips

Here’s another question about a food problem you might have: What do you do if you open a bag of chips and don’t finish them? You could just use a chip clip to close the bag, but according to this instructional video at Slate, you could also close the bag using a series of really tedious and time-consuming folds that will seal the bag to the point where you might not be able to open it again.

I think that after you watch the video you’ll come to the same conclusion I did: just use a chip clip.

National Pistachio Day​

It occurs to me that I’ve only eaten pistachio nuts in their original form: right out of the shell. I’ve never had pistachio ice cream or used them in salads or rice dishes or in pastries. I don’t know why, because I certainly use almonds and cashews and peanuts in all kinds of recipes.

But since today is National Pistachio Day, I can rectify that by making the recipes above, and so can you. I’ll have to get a bag that has already been shelled because, let’s face it, there’s no way I’m going to sit there and take them out one by one.


Upcoming Events and Anniversaries

The 88th Academy Awards (February 28)
You can print out a list of Oscar nominees and make your own predictions. The show airs at 8:30 p.m. on ABC, but of course you’ll want to start watching at 7 for all the red carpet hoopla.

Ohio admitted as 17th state (March 1, 1803)
What’s hi in the middle and round on both ends?

Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game (March 2, 1962)
Chamberlain’s feat is one of those sports records that will probably never be broken.

Pioneer 10 launched (March 2, 1972)
It was the first spacecraft to fly by Jupiter. It carries a plaque with a message of greetings if anyone finds it out there.

Knute Rockne born (March 4, 1888)
The Notre Dame football player won one for the Gipper.

Georgia O’Kee​f​fe dies (March 6, 1986)
​The American artist’s 1932 painting “Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1” sold for $44.4 million at a 2014 auction.