News of the Week: Vanishing Signatures, Things You Shouldn’t Do in Public, and Strange Burgers

Sign Here

Supposedly, in some horrible future where pen and paper will be viewed the same way we now view butter churns and 8-track tapes, signatures are going to go away. Instead, we’re going to use electronic signatures, fingerprints, retinal scans, and other technological “improvements” that will replace the burden of taking two seconds to sign our names to something. I am going to fight this to my last breath.

That’s why I was happy to read this defense of the signature in The New York Times from Steven Petrow. He talks about how the major credit card companies are getting rid of signatures and how he himself didn’t even do a traditional signature when he bought a home last year.

I don’t want to live in a world where signatures go away. I think that’s why I consciously fight against a lot of this stuff, even if I have to use some of it because I have no other choice. But as long as cursive handwriting and signatures don’t lead to a lengthy jail sentence, I will continue to sign contracts with a pen and send out paper Christmas cards and thank-you notes. To paraphrase Charlton Heston, they can have my checkbook when they pry it from my cold, dead hands.

Spitting and Swearing

While we’re on the subject of seemingly old-fashioned things like signatures, how about good manners and the way we dress?

While surfing around Twitter, which one of these days I’m going stop surfing around because I hate it, professor and author Tom Nichols wrote a series of tweets bemoaning what people seem to think are okay things to do, say, or wear in public (scroll down his feed here). Among the things he can’t stand are adults wearing sweatpants and baseball caps everywhere, swearing in public, wearing shorts to dinner or church, and spitting.

I agree with all of those (side note: I have never once spat in my life — true story), and I would add people who put their feet on the seat in front of them at the movies, people who don’t return shopping carts to the parking lot corral, and people who chew loudly with their mouths open. As for hats, I wouldn’t mind seeing the return of dress hats like fedoras, but guys, you’d have to take them off when you go inside a building.

What’s your public pet peeve?

Lost Monkey

The weirdest story this week comes from Minneapolis. Workers renovating an old Dayton’s department store building found the mummified remains of a monkey!

No one knows how it got in there, or why it stayed in there and died, but Robbinsdale, Minnesota, mayor Regan Murphy might have the answer. His dad and a friend actually stole a monkey from a “Pet-O-Rama” display in Dayton back in the 1960s while playing hooky from school. His mom and his dad’s friends all knew about it. The monkey tore up his dad’s house, so they brought it back. They left it on the escalator and ran out of the store.

This scenario is the exact reason why Theodore Roosevelt once famously said, “Never bring a monkey into a department store.”


Hey, Fribo would be a good name for a monkey.

Fribo is billed as “the robot for lonely people.” It’s a creepy … I mean “cute” … black thing with big eyes that sits on your table. As it learns more and more about you, it can anticipate what you want or need, and even encourage you to text your friends or post on social media. Judging from the video, it looks like the type of thing that will eventually steal money electronically from your bank account and kill your pets because they’re too much competition. Just think: One day we won’t have to deal with other people at all!

This will be the perfect companion in a world where we no longer have signatures.


Just when you thought we couldn’t possibly invent another condiment, along comes Mayochup. That’s right, it’s a combination of mayonnaise and ketchup. It’s been so popular in the Middle East that Heinz is bringing it to the United States.

The company might continue to call it Mayochup, but they’re open to other suggestions as well.


New Books and Movies

Show Trial: Hollywood, HUAC, and the Birth of the Blacklist, by Thomas Doherty, gives an in-depth look at how the Hollywood blacklist of the 1940s and ’50s started. I recently watched Trumbo, the 2015 film about the blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo (played by Bryan Cranston), and while it’s a highly entertaining film, it’s not entirely accurate, so Doherty’s book will probably tell you more about the period.

Andre the Giant is a new documentary on the famous wrestler, who died in 1993. It’s currently airing on HBO and is available On Demand.

He had big hands.


RIP Barbara Bush, Miloš Forman, Harry Anderson, Carl Kasell, R. Lee Ermey, Tim O’Connor, and Jean Marzollo

Former First Lady Barbara Bush married future president George Herbert Walker Bush on January 6, 1945, during World War II, which means they were married for over 73 years. She was the author of several books and a champion of literacy and AIDS research. She died Tuesday at the age of 92.

Miloš Forman won Oscars for directing Amadeus and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. He also helmed Ragtime, The People vs. Larry Flynt, Hair, and Man in the Moon. He died Friday at the age of 86.

Harry Anderson starred in the 1984–1992 NBC sitcom Night Court and later played writer Dave Barry in the CBS comedy Dave’s World. He was also an acclaimed magician and made several appearances on Cheers and Saturday Night Live. He died Monday at the age of 65.

Carl Kasell started on the radio at the age of 16 and went on to work at NPR for over three decades as a newscaster and a judge on the quiz show Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me! He died Tuesday at the age of 84.

R. Lee Ermey was a veteran character actor whose early career in the Marine Corps served him well in his many roles as military leaders and other serious types. He appeared in such movies as Full Metal Jacket, Se7en, Mississippi Burning, and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake. He also lent his voice to the Toy Story movies, The Simpsons, and Family Guy. He died earlier this week at the age of 74.

Tim O’Connor was a regular on Peyton Place and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and made appearances on shows like The Twilight Zone, The Defenders, All in the Family, Columbo, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and dozens more. He died earlier this month at the age of 90.

Jean Marzollo was the author of the popular I Spy books for children. She also wrote several books for adults. Marzollo died last Tuesday at the age of 75.

Best and Worst of the Week

Best: While doing some research on the career of Harry Anderson, I came across a pilot he did in 1999 for a new version of What’s My Line? I couldn’t find anything except this very short clip, but it looked like it could have been promising. The panelists on the pilot were Betty White, Bryan Cranston (hey, there he is again), Catherine Bell, and Al Franken.

I’d love to see this show come back, as long as they did it like the original and not the horrifying new version of To Tell the Truth currently on ABC.

Worst: Far be it for me to say something against museums, but do we really need a Museum of Selfies? That’s an actual place that opened up earlier this month in Los Angeles. Is the taking of more selfies something we actually want to encourage?

Luckily, the museum is only a limited thing, running until May 31. Besides, we already have a permanent museum of selfies. It’s called “the internet.”

This Week in History

Titanic Sinks (April 15, 1912)

Rare correspondence from the doomed luxury liner will be auctioned off this weekend at the British auction house Henry Aldridge & Son. Items include letters, postcards, and even menus from the dining room.

First Appearance of Daffy Duck (April 17, 1937)

The iconic Looney Tunes character looked very different when he made his debut in the Porky Pig cartoon Porky’s Duck Hunt.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Sack Full of Trouble (April 14, 1956)

Sack Full of Trouble by Richard Sargent from April 14, 1956
Sack Full of Trouble
Richard Sargent
April 14, 1956

I don’t know why, but at first I didn’t even realize that the kid in this Richard Sargent cover is actually inside the bag. I think I was trying to figure what the “Quarters” sign behind them is referring to. Free quarters?

Strange Burgers

I know that the warm weather will eventually arrive, and when it does, it means that cookout season has begun. I could link to some traditional recipes, but where’s the fun in that? I assume you already know how to cook a cheeseburger. How about something a little … weirder?

You’ve probably always wanted to try a burger with a tarantula on top of it. I couldn’t find a recipe for it, but you can go to Bull City Burger and Brewery in Durham, North Carolina, and get one for $30. That sounds like a lot, but I really don’t know what the going rate for a tarantula burger is. If that’s a little too exotic for you, how about these Cream Cheese Stuffed Garlic Burgers or this Lasagna Burger from Dude Foods?

Maybe the tarantula burger would be better with some Mayochup on it. Lots and lots of Mayochup.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Administrative Professionals’ Day (April 25)

This is what we used to call Secretaries’ Day, and it’s not the only national day whose name has changed.

Take Our Daughters and Sons To Work Day (April 26)

This used to be called Take Your Daughter To Work Day until they expanded it to include boys in 2003.


Classic Covers: Black Friday

Christmas commercialization is no modern phenomenon. Put the Post cover artists in charge and the mundane experience of making lists, checking them twice, and scavenging stores to gather holiday bounty becomes a delightful, miserable, and just plain silly occasion.

Christmas Shopper

Christmas Shopper
Neysa McMein
December 13, 1919

How we envision ourselves while Christmas shopping — calm and fabulous. This stunning self-portrait by Neysa Mc Mein, one of the Post’s more popular female artists, makes the whole event appear effortless. But we know it’s not as simple as waltzing into the nearest department store adorned in your favorite black mink.

Department Store at Christmas

Department Store at Christmas
John Falter
December 6, 1952

Even 63 years ago the ugly tie was universally recognized as the least desirable Christmas gift. But sometimes, well, that’s the best a person can do.

Lost Child Department

Lost Child Department
Thornton Utz
December 20, 1958

Black Friday may not have existed back in 1958, but Christmas gifts were still serious business. Shoppers flooded malls from gift finding through gift wrapping stages.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
J.C. Leyendecker
December 26, 1936

Probably not a coincidence, this mom bears an uncanny resemblance to St. Nick. Although J.C. Leyendecker was best known for his stylish illustrations of fashionable people, he occasionally produced comic numbers, such as this colorful depiction of the frantic, last-minute shopper.

White Christmas

White Christmas
Norman Rockwell
December 25, 1937

“Pops” Fredericks, the model for this illustration, never achieved fame on the stage or big screen. From a hobo, to Santa Claus, his many appearances on Rockwell covers have turned Pops into a crowd favorite here at the Post.

Father Rushing Home with Gifts

Father Rushing Home with Gifts
J.C. Leyendecker
December 4, 1909

The crazy was felt even in 1909. Take notice of the rocking horse. After being popularized in England during the 1800s, it galloped into factory production. By the time this father ran home with the toy, it had become a staple present in America.

Hiding the Presents

Hiding the Presents
Richard “Dick” Sargent
December 7, 1957

After the shopping is all said and done, we recommend being extra sneaky about where and when you decide to hide the presents. Kids have a knack for watching their parents with hawk-like eyes during the month of December.

In Anticipation of the Big Dump

department store at Christmas
Department Store at Christmas by John Falter, The Saturday Evening Post, December 6, 1952

Combine the 75 percent off after Christmas store sales with the imminent 12-inch snowstorm, and folks in our town sprinted to the stores and malls ready to load up on crap and toilet paper. On the third day of the new year, highways were bumper-to-bumper, parking lots overflowing, and tempers the only short thing around.

My students had presented me with a department-store gift card, and I was ready to spend some of my hard-earned cash. I tugged on my fur-topped waterproof boots to trudge to the car through the remaining slop from the last snow. My husband and I joined the throng of shoppers. As usual, he headed to the electronics department, and I sought out the bargain clothing aisle. Why, I don’t know. This department store notoriously caters to the under-30 crowd, and what used to fit me when I was 30, wouldn’t even come close now. But the gift card had my name all over it. Fully aware that there was nothing in the Juniors’ Department that I could insert a body part into, I located the Women’s Department. I was well aware that the sizes in this store don’t compare to the One-Size-Almost-Fits-All store where I normally shop. Still, I was hopeful, and selected a pair of stretchy black slacks. When I held up those pants with an elastic band, I realized right away that I’d need a different letter on the tag than I normally wear. In my preschool classroom the letters are alphabetized, but here, the next size after “M” wasn’t “N.” I sort of squeaked when I held up the “L” pants and noticed they were too tiny for my thunder thighs no matter how much Lycra they contained. I silently swore at myself for devouring the doughnuts, capitulating to the Christmas cookies, and gorging on the Godiva. Double digits on a clothing tag is one thing, but double letters would do me in. I wasn’t going to do it.

Leaving the carpeted area and plodding along the tile floor, I passed the teeny-tiny lingerie. I could have bought a set for my granddaughter’s fashion dolls. I turned to walk away and swore some more at my hippo hips and ba-da-boom boobs. I’d look horrible in a swimsuit if I didn’t start right away to amend my ways. I’d walk some of the calories off, I decided. I’d kick it into high gear, really walk up and down every aisle at a good clip. Imagining floating in the turquoise ocean I allowed myself to daydream as I hotfooted it and high-stepped through the crowd. I had visions of sandy beaches in my mind when I actually heard the sound of summer at my feet. Slap-slap-slap, the loud noise of flip-flops. What was it? I stopped. The noise stopped. I walked, and there it was again. Step-slap, step-slap. The flat heel on my left boot had dislodged and was flapping like a flag in a snowstorm. I came to an abrupt stop. Each time I walked people looked at me curiously. I gazed at the floor in search of a rubber band. I considered ripping off a hunk of duct tape, but I knew hidden cameras would capture my antics. Whenever a shopper approached, I stopped in my tracks and feigned interest in Ho-Ho-Ho holiday boxers or whatever hoopla was on end caps.

Shuffle-slide, don’t lift your foot and you’ll be able to make it to the door. I dragged my leg like a lame duck. I scooted to the card aisle and stopped to rest my cramped leg muscle. I perused several greeting cards, opened another one, and jumped when the dang thing blared an old-time rock and roll song at me. A singing card! Now I could say I’d heard everything. I shoved that $5 whiz bang back onto the shelf and shuffled off. I got as far as the office supply area. I looked for an open bag of rubber bands. No such luck. Then I spied the answer to my problem. A hot glue gun in a beautiful shade of ocean blue! I knew exactly what to do. I am notorious for using hot glue in my classroom to mount everything from cardboard to wooden shelves. I reasoned with myself. Head to the bathroom, find an electrical outlet and plug it in. Then, glue your heel back onto your boot. It’s not like you’re stealing. If security personnel follow you inside, tell them you will purchase the opened product at the checkout with your gift card. Flash it in their face. Be cool, don’t be obvious, or arouse suspicion, just reach for the glue gun and go. Now. Do it!

Glue gun in hand, I pivoted to the left, took two steps, and my entire sole dislodged. That rotten hunk of rubber suction-cupped itself to the floor like the no-spill plate on a toddler’s high chair.

I’ve walked out of my shoes before, but never off of them. Too embarrassed to follow through with my plan, I hung up my gun, certain that at any minute I would be apprehended for suspicion of shoplifting, certainly not shopping. I scanned the area. I waited for the grandma in the motorized “hot wheelchair” to speed by, and when the mom, with four demanding kids, screamed past, I refused to yield to traffic and joined right in. I limped along to the front of the store. I hoisted myself on a high stool and parked myself by the aromatic popcorn popper, tempted to spend my hard-earned card one way or the other. I resisted. Instead, I dangled my legs and watched shoppers come and go. My husband finally showed up. When he saw my expression he asked with concern, “What’s wrong?”

I grimaced, “We have to get out of here. Now!” I ducked my head and said, “I just lost my sole.”

He looked stricken. His eyes widened, and he said, “What the heck did you DO that was so bad in Target?”