Buy Me Some Peanuts and Cracker Jack
It’s funny how you can love some things deeply and then drift away from them over time. I’m not talking about people — though that can happen too. I’m talking about things you enjoy, your hobbies, and the ways you spend your time.
That happened to me and baseball. It’s the only sport I played as a kid (left fielder and pitcher), and I grew up obsessed with the Boston Red Sox. At one time I could not only tell you the team’s lineup, but also their batting averages. I loved baseball throughout my teens and early adult years, too.
Then in my late 20s, I became obsessed with tennis, and my knowledge of how many home runs Carl Yastrzemski hit was replaced with how many Grand Slams Roger Federer has won. I was emotional about the Red Sox World Series win in 2004 — after an eight-decade drought — but their 2007 and 2013 championships I watched only as a fair-weather fan, not as someone with a solid interest. Just yesterday, I saw the lineup for this year’s team, and I can only name three or four players, and the only reason I can is that they’re the ones who have been on the team the longest. Sorry, Blake Swihart and Craig Kimbrel!
Baseball season started yesterday, and if you’re still a fan and plan on watching a lot of games this summer, here’s ESPN’s schedule for the entire season, for every team. Maybe I’ll try to catch a Sox game on one of these warm nights, when there isn’t a tennis tournament being played somewhere in the world.
Since I mentioned “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” here’s how Cracker Jack got its name.
When Her Muscles Start Relaxin’, Up the Hill Comes Andrew Jackson
Quick question: What do Groucho Marx, Tony Bennett, and Harry Belafonte have in common? They’ve all made recordings that were just inducted into the National Recording Registry.
Bennett’s “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” entered the ranks, and so did Harry Belafonte’s album Calypso. Twenty-three others got the honor too, including “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins, “My Girl” by the Temptations, Run-DMC’s album Raising Hell, Artur Schnabel’s The Complete Beethoven Sonatas, and the soundtrack to The Sound of Music.
I know what you’re thinking: Groucho Marx? All recordings that are “recognized as vital to our nation’s audio legacy” are celebrated, and Groucho is in for his 1972 album An Evening with Groucho, which includes the song “Lydia, the Tattooed Lady,” originally sung in the movie At the Circus.
USS Juneau Found
The story of the five Sullivan Brothers, who all died aboard the USS Juneau during World War II, is one of the saddest stories of any war. It not only led to new rules regarding how many family members can serve in the military at one time, it was the inspiration for the movies The Fighting Sullivans and Saving Private Ryan. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and his research company recently found the wreck of the ship at the bottom of the South Pacific, 76 years after it sank.
Drink, Click, Buy
I’ve never bought anything after having a few too many cocktails. Oh, I can remember years ago buying a lot of fast food after a night of drinking, but I’ve never had too much to drink and then gone online and bought something I didn’t need. But apparently that’s a real problem, with people spending an average of $448 last year on tipsy purchases.
I have a problem with this news being described as “costing America $30 billion.” If you’re spending money online, isn’t that good for the companies you’re buying from? And if it’s something you want or need, whether it’s a book, a new jacket, or a subscription to your favorite magazine, how is that a bad thing?
National Poetry Month
The April celebration doesn’t start for two more days, but you can get a jumpstart by reading this piece in The Paris Review on Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” which they call “the most misread poem in America.”
I never knew it was once used in an ad for Mentos.
RIP Louise Latham, Linda Brown, Zell Miller, Frank Avruch, and Charles P. Lazarus
Louise Latham was best known for her roles in movies like Marnie and Firecreek, as well as TV shows such as The Fugitive, Perry Mason, Columbo, The X-Files, ER, and Murder, She Wrote. She died in February at the age of 95.
Frank Avruch was a longtime host of Boston TV shows, including The Great Entertainment and Man About Town. He was also one of the guys who played Bozo the Clown, wearing the makeup throughout the 1960s. He died last week at the age of 89.
Just a week after it was announced that Toys ’R’ Us is going out of business, the founder of the chain, Charles P. Lazarus, has died. He was 94.
Quote of the Week
“What’s up, deplorable?”
—liberal Jackie to her conservative sister Roseanne on ABC’s Roseanne reboot, which returned to massive ratings
The Best and the Worst
Best: Can you imagine someone starting a job today and staying at that same job for 50 years? Sue Scheible went to work for The Patriot Ledger in 1968, and she’s still there. She wrote a great top-ten list of her reasons why she’s still on the job.
Worst: Valpak, the coupon company with the blue envelopes, is also marking 50 years. In celebration, they’re randomly sending people checks in those envelopes. I didn’t pick this as a “worst” because this is a bad idea — good for them! — I picked it because I didn’t get one.
This Week in History
Vincent van Gogh Born (March 30, 1853)
Jeopardy! Debuts (March 30, 1964)
The original star was Art Fleming, who hosted the show until 1975 and then again in a revamped version in 1978-79. Alex Trebek has hosted the current syndicated version since 1984.
I couldn’t find video from the first season, but here’s an episode from 1974:
This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Greyhounds (March 29, 1941)
I could tell you that I picked this Paul Bransom cover because I like the use of neutral colors and that it’s a different type of cover for the Post, but the truth is, I just really love dogs.
We don’t celebrate Easter in my family. It’s one of those in-between holidays, more important than Groundhog Day, but not as important as Thanksgiving, so it’s just another day for us. No ham, no colored eggs, no chocolate. Well, actually, there will be chocolate on Easter. There’s always chocolate! It just won’t be shaped like a bunny.
But if you plan on making a meal for your family on Sunday, you can try Curtis Stone’s Roasted Pork Loin, these Maple Dill Carrots, and this Easter Bunny Cake, which is equal parts adorable and horrifying.
And if you plan on having a lot of people over for dinner, try one of these four farm recipes for home-cured ham from 1950.
Next Week’s Holidays and Events
Men’s Final Four (March 31-April 2)
I’m not sure how you did in your bracket (do I have the terminology right? I watch basketball even less than baseball), but the final four going for the NCAA Men’s Championship are Kansas, Villanova, Michigan, and Loyola Chicago. Here’s the CBS and TBS broadcast schedule.
April Fools’ Day (April 1)
Jesus Christ Superstar Live (April 1)
This live musical, airing at 8 p.m. on NBC and starring John Legend, Sara Bareilles, and Alice Cooper, is the latest live event from the network, after The Sound of Music, Peter Pan, The Wiz, and Hairspray. They’re producing A Few Good Men later this year.
Award-winning film critic and writer Bill Newcott has been covering Hollywood for more than 40 years. He is the creator of AARP’s Movies For Grownups franchise and the movie critic for The Saturday Evening Post.
Join our movie review video podcast, Movies for the Rest of Us with Bill Newcott. This week, Bill reviews Blade Runner 2049; Robert Redford’s narration of the gorgeous nature film, Earth: One Amazing Day; Breathe starring Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy; Loving Vincent, which animates Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings to stunning effect; a documentary on Ernie Kovacs and his prime time game show, Take a Good Look; and the Blu-ray release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Discover the Holland that inspired some of Vincent van Gogh’s most famous paintings as author Raphael Kadushin travels into the Dutch landscape and tells the story of a country steadily reclaiming the Dutch painter as its own in “Van Gogh’s Holland” in the July/August 2014 issue. —Editors
Where to Stay in Holland
Sitting directly across the street from Amsterdam’s Museumplain (framed by the city’s trifecta of art museums, the Stedelijk Museum, Rijksmuseum, and Van Gogh Museum), this hotel claims pride of place for art lovers who want to make the most of their gallery time in Amsterdam. Opened in 2011 after massive renovation of the 19th-century Renaissance Revival building—which functioned most recently as a music conservatory—the hotel hasn’t lost its original Neo-Gothic patina or handsome vaulted ceilings.
The 129 airy, contemporary guest rooms, designed by Italian architect Piero Lissoni and many reconfigured as duplexes complete with sleeping lofts, contend for the largest in Amsterdam. Plus: State-of-the-art holistic spa-cum-wellbeing center; your own personalized host; a glass-roof atrium lounge that has turned into Amsterdam’s buzziest meeting place; a casual brasserie; and the Tunes Restaurant, where Dutch master chef Schilo van Coevorden dishes up eight-course tasting menus.
Amsterdam’s pioneering canal-house hotel is still its best, and at relative bargain rates. Composed of 10 joined 17th- and 18th-century canal houses, the impeccably managed Golden Age landmark sits on an elegant stretch of the grand Herengracht canal. You can nab the most ethereal views in town if you book a top-floor room.
Bathrooms have recently been updated, but the hotel’s quirky boho appeal, epitomized by its mix of French reproduction furniture and modernist Dutch paintings, remains intact, along with a very serious library stocked with books left behind by its guests. Since the hotel is the premiere destination of most writers passing through Amsterdam on book tour, the collection includes signed editions by everyone from Donna Tartt and Isabel Allende to Paul Theroux, Salman Rushdie, and the late Doris Lessing.
A step up in price from the Ambassade, the Dylan is located in its own landmark canal house and features a recently renovated added wing and seriously designed rooms that veer between black-and-white minimalism and red-lacquered Zen flair. The hotel’s Michelin-starred Vinkeles restaurant ups the ante with chef Dennis Kuipers’ refined food and the lounge and bar regularly fill with the city’s most photogenic hipsters.
Within easy striking distance of Van Gogh’s Drenthe, this may be one of Holland’s most unexpected finds. Located in a monumental, renovated 18th-century women’s prison, in the middle of the hushed town of Zwolle, the hotel offers 19 themed rooms that go for baroque. Consider the Magnolia Suite, which features walls dripping with Swarovski crystals and its own steam sauna.
Where to Eat
This long-established insiders restaurant sitting on the Noordermarkt square draws locals for its mix of Mediterranean and lowland cuisine, and its market-fresh food. The kitchen sources directly from the Noordermarkt’s own weekly organic market.
A casual canal-side café that draws the young and arty, all fighting for the canal side tables and all downing hearty sandwiches like a beef carpaccio on dense Dutch farmer’s bread, and a silky smoked salmon.
The very definition of an Amsterdam brown café (the name comes from the caramel patina that has built up on the walls over centuries worth of smoke) this Dutch still life of a place serves some of the best shrimp croquettes and jenever (aka Dutch gin) in town.
The pioneering model of a serious locavore restaurant this organic fantasia comes housed in a circa 1926 greenhouse in the middle of epic Frankendael Park and dishes up the freshest Dutch harvest, some of it grown in the surrounding gardens.
The only thing topping the Librije hotel’s sense of excess is the Librije restaurant, a three Michelin star dining destination that lures serious gourmets to Zwolle. Served in the library of a 15th-century Dominican abbey, the multi-course tasting menu features chef Jonnie Boer’s flamboyant, relentlessly ambitious creations (expect lots of foie gras, langoustines, and North Sea crab).
For more information, visit the Netherlands Board of Tourism at holland.com.