News of the Week: Money for Happiness, Booze for Seniors, and Sandwiches for Everyone


Someone — it was either Sophie Tucker or Mae West, depending on which dubious internet source you use — once said, “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor — believe me, rich is better.” I understand that. While I’ve never been what one would consider rich — just ask my creditors — there have been many times in my life where my bank account has been nearly empty, I needed to cut back on everything but the essentials, and there has been nothing in my wallet except my license and a supermarket discount card.

So I would agree that having a lot of money is better than not having a lot of money, and I bet you would too. Now there’s research to back up that common-sense wisdom. Happiness researchers — yes, there are happiness researchers — at Purdue University and the University of Virginia have concluded that people who make $120,000 or $200,00 are likely to be more satisfied with their lives than someone who makes $40,000. But the same researchers discovered that the person making $200,000 is no happier than the one making $120,000. There seems to be a magical annual income, $105,000, and if you make anything over that amount, it doesn’t affect how happy you are. There’s even some data to suggest that if you make a lot more than $105,000, your happiness level actually goes down.

I don’t mean to be difficult about this, but I wonder why it even matters. It’s not particularly surprising that there’s no difference in happiness levels between people who make $120,000 and those who make $200,000. The latter is not a life-altering increase in money if you’re already making $120,000. I think the real takeaway from this story is that it’s great if you make $105,000 a year, and even though it might not make you incredibly happier, you should try to make a lot more.

I’d like to see a comparison between people who make $23,000 a year and Oprah Winfrey.

Over 90? Drink More, Exercise Less

Hey, here’s great news if you were born before 1929: You can drink more alcohol!

Researchers (this is a very researcher-heavy week) have discovered that people over the age of 90 who drink a couple of glasses of beer or wine a day are 18 percent less likely to die a premature death, while those who exercise 15 to 45 minutes a day are 11 percent less likely to die a premature death. The same researchers also discovered that if you’re over 90, it’s better to be a little overweight than to be really skinny. It also helps if you have a hobby and drink a couple cups of coffee a day.

I guess this is an interesting story to people who haven’t reached 90 yet, but not to people who have already reached that age. If you’ve already made it that far, you’re going to do what you damn well please anyway.

Now Standing Is Bad for Us

Here’s more health advice, even if you’re not over 90. For the past few years, we’ve heard that sitting is bad. We’ve been told we have to stand up more, to use those standing desks that are advertised on television, and some experts have even said that “sitting is the new smoking.” Well, here’s some breaking news for you: Experts now say that standing is bad for us. In fact, it’s not only physically bad for us, a strain on your backs and limbs, but it might be bad for our brains too. If sitting is the new smoking, standing is the new junk food.

So if we can’t stand up or sit down for long periods of time, I suggest either lying on your back or kneeling. Basically we’re running out of body positions.

Are You Living in the Best State?

The annual “10 Best States in America” list is out from U.S. News & World Report. They look at a variety of factors to figure out which state you should live in, including education, economy, healthcare, infrastructure, crime, and overall quality of life. Colorado comes in at No. 10, while Minnesota is No. 2. What’s number one? Well, you need to click that link to find out. Hint: Johnny Carson was born there.

Massachusetts comes in at No. 8 this year. Last year it was No. 1. I don’t know what I did to make it drop seven spots, but I’m sorry.

RIP Nanette Fabray and Lewis Gilbert

Nanette Fabray was an acclaimed stage and screen actress who won a Best Actress Tony Award in 1949 for her role in Love Life and three Emmys for her work on the ’50s TV series Caesar’s Hour. She also had roles on One Day at a Time and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and had her own series, The Nanette Fabray Show. She died last week at the age of 97.

Lewis Gilbert directed three James Bond movies (You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me, and Moonraker) as well as Alfie, Sink the Bismarck, and many other films. He died earlier this week, also at the age of 97.

Quote of the Week

“Nice is not a common label for comedians, but it is for Canadians.”

—Martin Short, in this terrific interview at Vulture

The Best and the Worst

Best: This is a fascinating video from The New Yorker about a bomber who terrorized Manhattan in the 1940s and ’50s, a case that led to the creation of criminal profiling. I don’t know why this story is not more well known. It’s the topic of the book Incendiary: The Psychiatrist, The Mad Bomber, and the Invention of Criminal Profiling by Michael Cannell and would make for a great TV series.

Worst: Would you spend $590 for a plastic bag? Probably not, because you don’t have $590 to spend on a plastic bag and even if you did you wouldn’t spend $590 on a plastic bag.

But what if I told you it was a designer plastic bag?

Well, if you’re wondering what to blow your tax return on, get this new plastic bag from Céline. Please note that it’s not encrusted with jewels and it’s not from the estate of a famous celebrity. It’s just a plastic bag. You can put things in it.

I have a bunch of plastic bags here at my apartment. They’re from the Ziploc Collection, and I’ll sell you 25 of them for $400.

This Week in History

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Born (February 27, 1807)

The poet wrote several poems for the Post, including “The Arrow and the Song,” which includes the lines, “I shot the arrow in the air/It fell to Earth, I knew not where,” which I first heard in a Three Stooges short. Their version ended with “I get my arrows wholesale!”

“The Family Circus” Comic Strip Debuts (February 29, 1960)

The year before Bil Keane’s classic comic made its debut, the Post published several of his “Pun-Abridged Dictionary” cartoons.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Cover Girl (March 1, 1941)

Cover Girl
March 3, 1941

This issue, with a clever Norman Rockwell painting, features a cover price of 5 cents. Or to be more precise, “5c. the Copy,” which I’ve always found a really the weird way to put it.

Saturday Is National Cold Cuts Day

I don’t eat sandwiches in the winter. Is that weird? Don’t answer that.

But it’s now March, and that gives me permission to celebrate sandwiches in general and National Cold Cuts Day specifically. And you can too. Here are six different cold cut-centric sandwiches you can make, including a Fried Bologna Sandwich, a Kentucky Hot Brown from Bobby Flay, and a Croque Madame from our own Curtis Stone. A Croque Madame is basically a grilled ham and cheese with an egg on top.

So to summarize this week: if you want to have a better life, drink more alcohol, sit down, stand up, eat more cold cuts, and move to the state where Johnny Carson was born.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

The Academy Awards (March 4)

The 90th annual ceremony airs on ABC starting at 8 p.m. (or 1 p.m on E! if you want to watch seven hours of previews and red carpet arrivals). Here’s a handy scorecard if you want to make your own predictions at home, and you can test your knowledge of Best Picture nominees in this fun quiz.

Maybe you can celebrate National Cold Cuts Day at the same time by eating a sandwich while watching the show. That’s what film critic Rex Reed does.

Casimir Pulaski Day (March 5)

Come on, be honest: You’ve never heard of him either.