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11 Signs and Disclaimers That Are No Longer Necessary

1. “The Captain has turned off the ‘No Smoking’ sign.”

This announcement was heard less frequently beginning in 1988, when smoking was banned on all domestic flights of two hours or less. Ten years later smoking was verboten on all domestic flights, and by 2000 smoking on any U.S. airline was banned by federal law.

2. In Stereo (Where Available)

The FCC adopted a standard for stereo television transmission in 1984, but it took several years for the networks and local affiliates to update their equipment to accommodate the second audio channel. The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson was the first network show to broadcast in stereo (in July 1984), but only New York’s WNBC had stereo capability at the time. Stereo TV sets were just hitting the market and most viewers had to connect their TV set to their home stereo system (that meant a turntable/radio combination back then) in order to enjoy the enhanced sound. As different stations slowly adopted the new technology, more shows included an “In Stereo (Where Available)” announcement during their opening credits. Some syndication copies of older shows still include the notation.

3. Please Be Kind and Rewind

You're not going to believe this, but people used to actually drive to the video store and rent VHS tapes. (Just so we're all on the same page, a VHS tape is that oversized cassette shown here.) A lot of renters had a habit of returning a movie after watching only half of it, or worse, after watching the whole thing but without rewinding it. Special rewinding machines were a common component of home entertainment systems back then, because using your VCR to rewind tapes tended to wear out the video heads. But it was darned frustrating and inconvenient to come home from Blockbuster, pop The Crying Game into the VCR and have it start right at the shocking reveal. At first, stores tried using these types of gentle reminder stickers to nudge their customers; eventually many of them would charge a rewind fee for violators.

4. Unleaded Fuel Only

Lead was added to gasoline beginning in the 1920s when it was discovered that the chemical reduced engine “knock.” But in the 1970s, the federal government admitted that lead was a poison and started taking steps to remove it from our fuel. Catalytic converters were added to new vehicles, which required a new (and more expensive) unleaded gasoline. For many years gas stations offered both leaded and unleaded gas. Since unleaded was more expensive, a lot of owners of newer vehicles purchased a special gadget that allowed the leaded nozzle to fit in their unleaded gas tanks. The government intervened and made “Unleaded Only” warnings standard equipment on new vehicles. Leaded gasoline was banned completely in the U.S. in 1986.

5. No Deposit, No Return

During the Great Depression, most stores in every state charged a two cent deposit on every glass soda pop bottle, which was refunded when you returned the empty. Glass bottles were heavy, so folks returning huge sacks full of them wasn’t a problem for merchants at the time and the nuisance factor was minimal. When the 1960s rolled around, soft drink bottlers started using plastic instead of glass, and they weren’t going to re-use the empties, so consumers were free to just toss them (and save 12 cents per six-pack to boot). “No Deposit, No Return” was printed or embossed on pop bottles until the late 1970s when so-called “Bottle Bills” started passing through various state legislatures. Too many folks were littering the landscape with their discarded containers, so deposits on not only bottles but also cans were once again implemented. Even if your state doesn’t have a return law, your soda labels still have the various requisite deposit amounts printed on them.

6. No Cyclamate

Sodium cyclamate, usually abbreviated to simply “cyclamate,” was an artificial sweetener that was approved by the FDA in 1958. It was sweeter than sugar and had much less of the bitter aftertaste of saccharin. For diabetics, dieters, and kids prone to cavities, cyclamate was nothing short of a miracle. Sugar-laden products were able to offer sugar-free varieties that tasted the same. But then a study published in 1967 announced that cyclamate caused bladder cancer in laboratory mice, and manufacturers started voluntarily pulling their products from shelves before the FDA officially banned the additive in 1970. Research done since that initial study found that the mice in question were of a certain genetic strain that might have been prone to cancer in the first place, and the amount of cyclamate given to them was equal to 350 cans of diet soda pop per day. Cyclamate is still legal and used in many countries around the world, including Canada and the UK.

7. Brought to You in Living Color

All three major networks (CBS, NBC and ABC) began broadcasting in color during prime time in the fall of 1965. Many of the daytime soaps were holdouts, though, and all-color programming didn’t begin until 1972. In early 1968 economists predicted that color TV sets would outsell their B&W counterparts for the first time by the end of the year (they were off by a few years; it didn’t happen until 1972). Only 20% of U.S. households had two or more sets at the time, and almost all portable TVs (usually the choice for a second set) were still black and white due to the technology involved for color. As a result, the networks hyped their color broadcast capability until the mid-1970s in order to get those last holdouts out to the appliance store to buy an RCA console model.

8. This Film is Rated GP

The MPAA started issuing ratings for films in 1968, and the Original Four ratings were G (for general audiences; all ages admitted), M (mature audiences), R (restricted; children under 17 must be accompanied by an adult) and X (no one under 18 admitted). The M rating confused a lot of patrons who equated “mature” with “nudity” or “sex scenes”, so in 1969 M was changed to GP (general audiences, parental guidance suggested). The MPAA officially changed GP to PG in 1970s so that the “parental guidance” angle was more obvious, but a lot of studios stuck with GP long afterward. The 1980 Olivia Newton-John bomb Xanadu was the last commercially released movie with a GP rating.

9. Quadraphonic

If the two channels/two speakers used for stereo sound were good, then quadraphonic sound, which required four channels/speakers, was better, right? Quad sound was originally available only on reel-to-reel tapes until 1971, when Columbia and Sony started marketing quadraphonic vinyl LPs. In order to enjoy the full effect of four channels, however, one needed to buy a compatible (very expensive) quadraphonic audio system. Some quad albums were “stereo compatible,” meaning they could be played on standard stereo equipment, but they didn’t provide the full “surround sound” experience that was intended. A few radio stations experimented with broadcasting in quadraphonic, including Detroit’s WWWW.FM (W4).

10. Home Quarantine Signs

These are actually even before my time, and I’m fairly ancient. But both my parents remember seeing similar signs in their neighborhoods when they were kids. In the pre-antibiotic days, scarlet fever was highly contagious and frequently caused damage to the heart valves. The U.S. achieved measles eradication in 2000, and cases since then have mostly been imported by unvaccinated folks returning from overseas. Other conditions that were cause for quarantine by local health departments at one time include whooping cough, influenza and diphtheria.

11. Free TV! Telephones in Every Room!

Today’s travelers look for lodgings that provide free Internet access. But at one time free TV was a selling point for Mom & Pop motels. And we’re not talking free cable – we mean an actual television set. At one time TVs were such a luxury item that many motels and hotels only had a limited number available for rent from the office. And in-room telephones? Forgetaboutit. They were another luxury that usually added a dollar or two to the price of the room. Unless you were a businessman who lived and died by the phone, most folks saved their money and used the payphone outside.
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As always, we love to hear from you! Share your memories of signs you haven’t seen in a while, or other similar disclaimer-type thingies.

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13 Great Facts About Bad Lieutenant
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Lionsgate Home Entertainment

Bad Lieutenant can be accused of many things, but one charge you can't level against it is false advertising. Harvey Keitel's title character, whose name is never given, is indeed a bad, bad lieutenant: corrupt, sleazy, drug-addled, irresponsible, and lascivious, all while he's on the job. (Imagine what his weekends must be like!)

Abel Ferrara's nightmarish character study was controversial when it was released 25 years ago today, and rated NC-17 for its graphic nudity (including a famous glimpse at Lil’ Harvey), unsettling sexual violence, and frank depiction of drug use. The film packs a wallop, no doubt. Here's some behind-the-scenes info to help you cope with it.

1. THE PLACID WOMAN WHO HELPS THE LIEUTENANT FREEBASE HEROIN WROTE THE MOVIE.

That's Zoë Tamerlis Lund, who starred in Abel Ferrara's revenge-exploitation thriller Ms. 45 (1981) more than a decade earlier, when she was 17 years old. She and Ferrara are credited together for writing Bad Lieutenant, though she always insisted that wasn't the case. "I wrote this alone," she said. "Abel is a wonderful director, but he's not a screenwriter. She said elsewhere that she "wrote every word of that screenplay," though everyone agrees the finished movie included a lot of improvisation. Lund was a fascinating, tragic character herself—a musical prodigy who became an enthusiastic and unapologetic user of heroin before switching to cocaine in the mid-1990s. She died of heart failure in 1999 at age 37.

2. CHRISTOPHER WALKEN WAS SUPPOSED TO STAR IN IT.

Christopher Walken had starred in Ferrara's previous film, King of New York (1990), and was set to play the lead in Bad Lieutenant before pulling out at almost the last minute. Ferrara was shocked. "[Walken] says, 'You know, I don't think I'm right for it.' Which is, you know, a fine thing to say, unless it's three weeks from when you're supposed to start shooting," Ferrara said. "It definitely caught me by surprise. It put me in terminal shock, actually." Harvey Keitel replaced him (though not without difficulty; see below), and the film's editor, Anthony Redman, thought Keitel was a better choice anyway. "Chris is too elegant for the part," he said. "Harvey is not elegant." 

3. HARVEY KEITEL'S INITIAL REACTION TO THE SCRIPT WAS NOT PROMISING.

"When we gave [Keitel] the script the first time, he read about five pages and threw it in the garbage," Ferrara said. Keitel's recollection was a little more diplomatic. As he told Roger Ebert, "I read a certain amount of pages and I put it down. I said, 'There's no way I'm gonna make this movie.' And then I asked myself, 'How often am I a lead in a movie? Read it, maybe I can salvage something from it …' When I read the part about the nun, I understood why Abel wanted to make it."

4. IT WAS ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY.


Lionsgate Home Entertainment

"It was always, in my mind, a comedy," Ferrara said. He cited the scene where the Lieutenant pulls the teenage girls over as a specific example of how Christopher Walken would have played it, and how Harvey Keitel changed it. "The lieutenant was going to end up dancing in the streets with the girls as the sun came up. They'd be wearing his gun belt and hat, and they'd have the radio on, you know what I mean? But oh my God, Harvey, he turned it into this whole other thing." Boy, did he. 

5. THAT SCENE WITH THE TEENAGE GIRLS HAD A REAL-LIFE ELEMENT THAT MADE IT EVEN CREEPIER.

One of the young women was Keitel's nanny. Ferrara: "I said, 'You sure you want to do this with your babysitter?' He says, 'Yeah, I want to try something.'"

6. MUCH OF IT WAS FILMED GUERRILLA-STYLE.

Like many indie-minded directors of low-budget films, Ferrara didn't bother with permits most of the time. "We weren't permitted on any of this stuff," editor Anthony Redman admitted. "We just walked on and started shooting." For the scene where a strung-out Lieutenant walks through a bumpin' nightclub, they sent Keitel through an actual, functioning club during peak operating hours.

7. A GREAT DEAL OF THE DIALOGUE AND ACTION WERE MADE UP ON THE FLY.

The script was only about 65 pages at first, which would have made for about a 65-minute movie. "It left a lot of room for improvisation," producer Randy Sabusawa said, "but the ideas were pretty distilled. They were there."

Script supervisor Karen Kelsall said supervising the script was a challenge. "Abel didn't stick to a script," she said. "Abel used a script as a way to get the money to make a movie, and then the script was kind of—we called it the daily news. It changed every day. It changed in the middle of scenes." Ferrara was unapologetic about the script's brevity. "The idea of wanting 90 pages ... is ridiculous."

8. AND THERE WERE EVEN MORE IDEAS THAT THEY DIDN'T USE.

Ferrara said a scene that epitomized the movie for him—even though he never got around to filming it—was one where the Lieutenant robs an electronics store, leaves, then gets a call about a robbery at the electronics store. He responds in an official capacity (they don't recognize him), takes a statement, walks out, and throws the statement in the garbage. "And that to me is the Bad Lieutenant, you know?" Ferrara said. 

9. THE BASEBALL PLAYOFF SERIES IS FICTIONAL.

The Mets have battled the Dodgers for the National League championship once, in 1988. (The Dodgers beat 'em and went on to win the World Series.) For the narrative Ferrara wanted—the Mets coming back from a 3-0 deficit to win the pennant—he had to make it up. He used footage from real Mets-Dodgers games (including Darryl Strawberry's three-run homer from a game in July 1991) and added fictional play-by-play. But the statistics were accurate: no team had ever been down by three in a best-of-seven series and then come back to win. (It's happened once since then, when the 2004 Red Sox did it.)

10. THEY HAD HELP FROM THE COP WHO SOLVED A SIMILAR CASE.

The disgusting crime at the center of the film (we won't dwell on it) was inspired by a real-life incident from 1981, which mayor Ed Koch called "the most heinous crime in the history of New York City." The street cop who solved it, Bo Dietl, advised Ferrara on the film and had an on-screen role as one of the detectives in our Lieutenant's circle of friends.

11. THEY DESECRATED THE CHURCH AS RESPECTFULLY AS THEY COULD.

Production designer Charles Lagola had his team cover the church’s altar and other surfaces with plastic wrap, then painted the graffiti and other defacements on the plastic.

12. IT WAS RATED NC-17 IN THEATERS, WITH AN R-RATED VERSION FOR HOME VIDEO.

Blockbuster and some of the other retail chains wouldn't carry NC-17 or unrated films, so sometimes studios would produce edited versions. (See also: Requiem for a Dream.) The tamer version of Bad Lieutenant was five minutes and 19 seconds shorter, with parts of the rape scene, the drug-injecting scene, and much of the car interrogation scene excised.

13. THE "SEQUEL" HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT, NOR DID FERRARA APPROVE OF IT.


First Look International

Movie buffs were baffled in 2009, when Werner Herzog directed Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, starring Nicolas Cage. It sounds like a sequel (or a remake), but in fact had no connection at all to the earlier film except that both were produced by Edward R. Pressman. Herzog said he'd never seen Ferrara's movie and wanted to change the title (Pressman wouldn't let him); Ferrara, outspoken as always, initially wished fiery death on everyone involved. Ferrara and Herzog finally met at the 2013 Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, where Herzog initiated a conversation about the whole affair and Ferrara expressed his frustration cordially. 

Additional sources:
DVD interviews with Abel Ferrara, Anthony Redman, Randy Sabusawa, and Karen Kelsall.

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12 Pieces of 100-Year-Old Advice for Dealing With Your In-Laws
Hulton Archive // Getty Images
Hulton Archive // Getty Images

The familial friction between in-laws has been a subject for family counselors, folklorists, comedians, and greeting card writers for generations—and getting along with in-laws isn't getting any easier. Here are some pieces of "old tyme" advice—some solid, some dubious, some just plain ridiculous—about making nice with your new family.

1. ALWAYS VOTE THE SAME WAY AS YOUR FATHER-IN-LAW (EVEN IF YOU DISAGREE).

It's never too soon to start sowing the seeds for harmony with potential in-laws. An 1896 issue of one Alabama newspaper offered some advice to men who were courting, and alongside tips like “Don’t tell her you’re wealthy. She may wonder why you are not more liberal,” it gave some advice for dealing with prospective in-laws: “Always vote the same ticket her father does,” the paper advised, and “Don’t give your prospective father-in-law any advice unless he asks for it.”

2. MAKE AN EFFORT TO BE ATTRACTIVE TO YOUR MOTHER-IN-LAW.

According to an 1886 issue of Switchmen’s Journal, “A greybeard once remarked that it would save half the family squabbles of a generation if young wives would bestow a modicum of the pains they once took to please their lovers in trying to be attractive to their mothers-in-law.”

3. KEEP YOUR OPINIONS TO YOURSELF.

In 1901, a Wisconsin newspaper published an article criticizing the 19th century trend of criticizing mothers-in-law (a "trend" which continues through to today):

“There has been a foolish fashion in vogue in the century just closed which shuts out all sympathy for mothers-in-law. The world is never weary of listening to the praises of mothers ... Can it be that a person who is capable of so much heroic unselfishness will do nothing worthy of gratitude for those who are dearest and nearest to her own children?”

Still, the piece closed with some advice for the women it was defending: “The wise mother-in-law gives advice sparingly and tries to help without seeming to help. She leaves the daughter to settle her own problems. She is the ever-blessed grandmother of the German fairy tales, ready to knit in the corner and tell folk stories to the grandchildren.”

4. IF RECEIVING ADVICE, JUST LISTEN AND SMILE. EVEN IF IT PAINS YOU.

Have an in-law who can't stop advising you on what to do? According to an 1859 issue of The American Freemason, you'll just have to grin and bear it: “If the daughter-in-law has any right feeling, she will always listen patiently, and be grateful and yielding to the utmost of her power.”

Advice columnist Dorothy Dix seemed to believe that it would be wise to heed an in-law's advice at least some of the time. Near the end of World War II, Dix received a letter from a mother-in-law asking what to do with her daughter-in-law, who had constantly shunned her advice and now wanted to move in with her. Dix wrote back, “Many a daughter-in-law who has ignored her husband’s mother is sending out an SOS call for help in these servantless days,” and advised the mother-in-law against agreeing to the arrangement.

5. STAY OUT OF THE KITCHEN. AND CLOSETS. AND CUPBOARDS.

An 1881 article titled "Concerning the Interference of the Father-in-Law and Mother-in-Law in Domestic Affairs," which appeared in the Rural New Yorker, had a great deal of advice for the father-in-law:

“He will please to keep out of the kitchen just as much as he possibly can. He will not poke his nose into closets or cupboards, parley with the domestics, investigate the condition of the swill barrel, the ash barrel, the coal bin, worry himself about the kerosene or gas bills, or make purchases of provisions for the family under the pretence that he can buy more cheaply than the mistress of the house; let him do none of these things unless especially commissioned so to do by the mistress of the house.”

The article further advises that if a father-in-law "thinks that the daughter-in-law or son-in-law is wasteful, improvident or a bad manager, the best thing for him to do, decidedly, is to keep his thought to himself, for in all probability things are better managed and better taken care of by the second generation than they were by the first. And even if they are not, it is far better to pass the matter over in silence than to comment upon the same, and thereby engender bad feelings.”

6. NEVER COHABITATE.

While there is frequent discussion about how to achieve happiness with the in-laws in advice columns and magazines, rarely does this advice come from a judge. In 1914, after a young couple was married, they quickly ran into issues. “The wife said she was driven from the house by her mother-in-law,” a newspaper reported, “and the husband said he was afraid to live with his wife’s people because of the threatening attitude of her father on the day of the wedding.” It got so bad that the husband was brought up on charges of desertion. But Judge Strauss gave the couple some advice:

“[Your parents] must exercise no influence over you now except a peaceful influence. You must establish a home of your own. Even two rooms will be a start and lay up a store of happiness for you.”

According to the paper, they agreed to go off and rent a few rooms.

Dix agreed that living with in-laws was asking for trouble. In 1919, she wrote that, “In all good truth there is no other danger to a home greater than having a mother-in-law in it.”

7. COURT YOUR MOTHER-IN-LAW.

The year 1914 wasn’t the first time a judge handed down advice regarding a mother-in-law from the bench. According to The New York Times, in 1899 Magistrate Olmsted suggested to a husband that “you should have courted your mother-in-law and then you would not have any trouble ... I courted my mother-in-law and my home life is very, very happy.”

8. THINK OF YOUR IN-LAWS AS YOUR "IN LOVES."

Don't think of your in-laws as in-laws; think of them as your family. In 1894, an article in The Ladies’ Home Journal proclaimed, “I will not call her your mother-in-law. I like to think that she is your mother in love. She is your husband’s mother, and therefore yours, for his people have become your people.”

Helen Marshall North, writing in The Home-Maker: An Illustrated Monthly Magazine four years earlier, agreed: “No man, young or old, who smartly and in public, jests about his mother-in-law, can lay the slightest claim to good breeding. In the first place, if he has proper affection for his wife, that affection includes, to some extent at least, the mother who gave her birth ... the man of fine thought and gentle breeding sees his own mother in the new mother, and treats her with the same deference, and, if necessary, with the same forbearance which he gladly yields his own.”

9. BE THANKFUL YOU HAVE A MOTHER-IN-LAW ... OR DON'T.

Historical advice columns had two very different views on this: A 1901 Raleigh newspaper proclaimed, “Adam’s [of Adam and Eve] troubles may have been due to the fact that he had no mother-in-law to give advice,” while an earlier Yuma paper declared, “Our own Washington had no mother-in-law, hence America is a free nation.”

10. DON'T BE PICKY WHEN IT COMES TO CHOOSING A WIFE; CHOOSE A MOTHER-IN-LAW INSTEAD.

By today's standards, the advice from an 1868 article in The Round Table is incredibly sexist and offensive. Claiming that "one wife is, after all, pretty much the same as another," and that "the majority of women are married at an age when their characters are still mobile and plastic, and can be shaped in the mould of their husband's will," the magazine advised, “Don’t waste any time in the selection of the particular victim who is to be shackled to you in your desolate march from the pleasant places of bachelorhood into the hopeless Siberia of matrimony ... In other words ... never mind about choosing a wife; the main thing is to choose a proper mother-in-law,” because "who ever dreamt of moulding a mother-in-law? That terrible, mysterious power behind the throne, the domestic Sphynx, the Gorgon of the household, the awful presence which every husband shudders when he names?"

11. KEEP THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE.

As an 1894 Good Housekeeping article reminded readers:

“Young man! your wife’s mother, your redoubtable mother-in-law, is as good as your wife is and as good as your mother is; and who is your precious wife's mother-in-law? And you, venerable mother-in-law, may perhaps profitably bear in mind that the husband your daughter has chosen with your sanction is not a worse man naturally than your husband who used to dislike your mother as much as your daughter’s husband dislikes you, or as much as you once disliked your husband’s mother.”

12. IF ALL ELSE FAILS, MARRY AN ORPHAN.

If all else fails, The Round Table noted that “there is one rule which will be found in all cases absolutely certain and satisfactory, and that is to marry an orphan; though even then a grandmother-in-law might turn up sufficiently vigorous to make a formidable substitute.”

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