News of the Week: March Madness, Mad Men Ads, and Meatballs of the Swedish Variety 

Is Your Bracket Busted Yet?

There are many things I don’t understand: how the pyramids were created, the size of the universe and how we fit into the grand scheme of life, the popularity of Steve Harvey. I’d add to that list the mania that surrounds March Madness and college basketball in general.

It’s not that I don’t understand why people like basketball (though I’m a tennis and baseball guy myself), I just don’t understand the annual craziness of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. There are people who dedicate weeks if not months to filling out their bracket, and many of these people are people who have no interest in basketball at all the other 50 weeks of the year. Who really cares about these teams, unless you go to the school, you’re an alumnus of the school, or you have a kid who goes to the school? At least in pro basketball you probably live in the city of a particular team or like certain players.

But hey, if you enjoy it and plan on watching it I don’t want to be a buzzkill. Here’s a handy bracket that you can print out from CBS, which will be airing the tournament for the next couple of weeks. I just can’t wait until it’s over and we can get back to regularly scheduled programming.

Pass the Heinz

AMC’s Mad Men is probably my favorite TV drama of all-time. Besides the sheer brilliance of the acting, writing, and directing (I know that’s not an in-depth analysis but it happens to be accurate), I always thought that many of the companies that Don Draper’s advertising agency worked for should actually take the campaigns used on the show and use them for their products in real life. Now, one has.

Heinz is going to use the idea Don came up with, to show the foods that Heinz ketchup would be used on—burgers, fries, etc.— without actually showing the Heinz bottle. In the show Heinz didn’t go with Don’s idea, but now they like it! We’ll see billboards in New York City and print ads too.

Here’s Don’s pitch:

RIP Robert James Waller, Joni Sledge, Christopher Gray, Jay Lynch, and Jack H. Harris

Writer Robert James Waller is best known for his novel, The Bridges of Madison County, which was made into a film starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep. He also wrote several other novels, including Border Music, Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend, Puerto Vallarta Squeeze, and the sequel to The Bridges of Madison County, A Thousand Country Roads.

Waller passed away last week from cancer at the age of 77.

Joni Sledge was part of the group Sister Sledge, famous for songs like “We Are Family,” “My Guy,” and “He’s The Greatest Dancer.” She passed away Saturday at the age of 60.

Christopher Gray was an expert on architecture and a historian who wrote the popular “Streetscapes” column for The New York Times. When the column ended in 2014 after 27 years, Gray continued to write it on Facebook. He passed away last Friday at the age of 66.

Jay Lynch was an important figure in the underground comics scene of the 1960s and ’70’s. Besides creating the comic strip Nard & Pat and starting magazines like Bijou Funnies, he also drew for Bazooka Joe comics, Garbage Pail Kids, and Wacky Packages (something I collected when I was a kid, probably one of the first “alternative” or semi-subversive things a kid at that time could get into). Lynch passed away earlier this month at the age of 72.

Beware of the Blob, it creeps, it crawls! Fans of classic monster movies will remember that line from the opening of The Blob, one of the many movies produced by Jack H. Harris. He also produced Dark Star (the first feature film directed by John Carpenter), The Eyes of Laura Mars, 4D Man, the 1988 remake of The Blob, and other films. Harris passed away Tuesday at the age of 98.

By the way, another remake of The Blob is currently in development.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal at a TED talk
Amy Krouse Rosenthal (Trevor Haldenby / Wikimedia Commons)

“You May Want to Marry My Husband” Essayist Dies

Just two weeks ago, The New York Times published an essay that went viral titled “You May Want To Marry My Husband.” It was written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and only had a short time to live. Rosenthal passed away this week. She was only 51 years old.

Rosenthal wrote more than 30 books in her short time, including children’s books like Duck! Rabbit!, Uni the Unicorn, I Wish You More, and Bedtime For Mommy. She was also a filmmaker and essayist and wrote a really terrific memoir titled Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. Her most recent book was 2016’s Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal, where she actually encouraged readers to send her text messages.

The Biggest Threats to the Web (According to the Guy Who Invented It)

Tim Berners-Lee
Tim Berners-Lee (Paul Clarke / Wikimedia Commons)

When the inventor of something has an opinion about that something, you should probably listen to him.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee created the very thing you’re looking at right now, the World Wide Web. It turned 28 last Sunday, and Berners-Lee wrote a letter for The World Wide Web Foundation outlining what he sees as the three biggest threats we face in the online world.

You can probably guess what they are. One is that we’ve lost control of our personal data, one is that false information can spread quickly and easily on the web, and the other is the dangers of political advertising. These are all major problems that, well, let’s face it, will probably never be solved since people want easy access to information, convenience, speed, and they want to live on social media.

My pick for the biggest threat to the web? Auto-play videos.

This Week in History

Coca-Cola First Sold in Bottles (March 12, 1894)

The first glass bottles of the popular soft drink (invented eight years earlier by Dr. John Pemberton) were sold at a soda fountain in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

President Andrew Jackson Born (March 15, 1767)

It’s the 250th birthday of our seventh president, who was called a brawler, gambler, drunk, thief, and adulterer by supporters of rival John Quincy Adams.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History

“St. Paddy Cake for Policeman” Cover (March 16, 1940)

St. Paddy Cake for Policeman
St. Paddy Cake for Policeman
March 16, 1940

Magazines don’t do covers like this anymore, do they? It’s such a bold, specific image. I love the attention to detail in the bowl. The artist, Albert W. Hampson, could have just drawn an empty bowl but he left some cake batter in there and you can see the scrapes on the inside.

Use Your Noodle

Some weeks I wonder if I should even mention what food month it is. If it’s at the start of the month, sure, they’re well worth highlighting. But if it’s the last week of the month it’s probably too late. Here we are on March 17. That’s still early enough to mention what food month it is, isn’t it?

March is National Noodle Month! There are many things to make beyond chicken noodle soup, like this Broccoli Cashew Casserole, these Soba Noodles with Kimchi, or maybe Betty’s Swedish Meatballs, which ideally should be served over egg noodles.

Betty, by the way, would be Betty Draper, Don’s wife. That recipe is from the fantastic Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook. I don’t know if Heinz ketchup would be good on Swedish meatballs and noodles but give it a try.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

National Cherry Blossom Festival (March 18)

Because of this week’s east coast snowstorm, the official opening of the annual Washington, D.C. festival has been pushed back to March 18. It runs until April 16.

First Day of Spring (March 20)

It’s probably not going to feel like it in many parts of the country, but the Spring Equinox begins in the northern hemisphere at 6:28 a.m.