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.