News of the Week: Bob Elliott, Amazon’s Bookstore Plans, and Why I Used the Oxford Comma in This Headline

Great comedic duos, Super Bowl party recipes, how to use the Oxford comma, and more in this week’s roundup.

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RIP, Bob Elliott

Bob Elliott
Bob Elliott

Abbott and Costello. Laurel and Hardy. Martin and Lewis. These are classic comedy teams. I’d add Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding to the mix too. As Bob and Ray, they did very smart and very funny comedy routines on stage and on television for four decades. Goulding passed away in 1990, and this week Bob Elliott died at the age of 92.

I could write something really long about Bob and Ray, but that The New York Times obit says a lot. You can also check out Bob and Ray’s official site, where you get recordings of their routines on CD, iTunes, even on a Flash drive.

Elliott was the father of comedian Chris Elliott, who has appeared on everything from Everybody Loves Raymond to David Letterman’s late night shows. Bob Elliott also starred with Chris in the short-lived but cult-favorite sitcom Get A Life on Fox in 1990. He leaves four other children as well as many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Maybe Bookstores Aren’t Going Away After All?

Did you know that Amazon has a brick-and-mortar bookstore? It’s called Amazon Books, and it’s located at Seattle’s University Village mall. But according to Sandeep Mathrani, CEO of mall-builder General Growth Properties, the online retail giant is planning on opening 300 to 400 more bookstores across the country. Of course, the next day, he released a new statement saying that his previous statement “doesn’t reflect Amazon’s plans.”

But if this is true, it’s one of the biggest retail stories of the year. What a plot twist it would be if Amazon, which has been accused of destroying large bookstore chains like Borders, would actually become a large bookstore chain itself. Suddenly, Barnes & Noble would be the plucky underdog!

Amazon hasn’t commented on the story yet, but people are already making jokes about it on social media. This might be my favorite:



Archer Meets Magnum

I haven’t watched FX’s animated spy spoof Archer since its first season, but this new promo for the seventh season of the show (which starts on March 27) makes me want to get back into it.



That’s real dedication by the artists. Compare it to the original:



Breaking Groundhog Day News

I wouldn’t necessarily go by the predictions of groundhogs Punxsutawney Phil and Staten Island Chuck, who both said this week that we’re going to have an early spring. For one thing, how can a regional groundhog give a forecast for an entire nation? Second, I don’t even think either of these animals have meteorology degrees. Though that’s never stopped Al Roker.

I wouldn’t necessarily go by the predictions of groundhogs Punxsutawney Phil and Staten Island Chuck, who both said this week that we’re going to have an early spring. For one thing, how can a regional groundhog give a forecast for an entire nation? Second, I don’t even think either of these animals have meteorology degrees. Though that’s never stopped Al Roker.

I wouldn’t necessarily go by the predictions of groundhogs Punxsutawney Phil and Staten Island Chuck, who both said this week that we’re going to have an early spring. For one thing, how can a regional groundhog give a forecast for an entire nation? Second, I don’t even think either of these animals have meteorology degrees. Though that’s never stopped Al Roker.

Google Buys Google.com

What’s the significance of $6006.13? More on that in a moment.

Have you ever forgotten to renew your domain name and when you go to do it you find out that someone has already grabbed it? That can also happen to multibillion-dollar international companies too.

For some reason, the Google.com domain was available to buy last September, so a former Google employee bought it for $12.00. And the funniest part is that he bought it on Google’s own registration page! It only lasted a minute though, as the system figured out what had happened and canceled the transaction.

This week Google disclosed that they did indeed pay the man to get the domain back. They bought it for $6006.13. If you look at that monetary amount closely you can see why they decided on that amount. It kinda spells out Google in numbers.

Do You Remember Remember WENN?

Mad Men is my favorite drama of all time, but it irritates me when people (including the people over at AMC) refer to that show and Breaking Bad as the network’s first forays into original scripted shows. There was actually a show on AMC long before those shows started. It was called Remember WENN. It was a half-hour comedy/drama set in the 1940s, about life at a Pittsburgh radio station, and it debuted in 1996. Even though the show ran for three seasons, it has almost been forgotten, except by hardcore fans. It’s not available to stream, and it’s not available on DVD either. Which is really odd, because it was a really good show. Here’s the first episode.

Rachel Syme remembers it though, and writes about it at The New York Times. The creator of the show, Rupert Holmes — yes, the man who did “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” — even went to AMC a few years ago, to see if he could get a DVD set made. They weren’t interested.

How Do You Use the Oxford Comma?

The Oxford Comma, also known as the serial comma, is one of the more controversial punctuation topics (if punctuation can indeed be controversial). In this video, Mary Norris, proofreader and “Comma Queen” at The New Yorker and author of the fun memoir/language guide Between You & Me, explains how to use it correctly. Sometimes when you leave this comma out, it doesn’t just make the sentence less clear, it can change the entire meaning of the sentence. A lot.

Super Bowl Snacks

I’m one of those annoying people that really does watch the Super Bowl for the commercials, and this Sunday will be no different. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like the food. And there’s a lot of food consumed on the big day. According to various organizations and associations, we eat 11.2 million pounds of potato chips, 3 million pounds of nuts, and 1.2 billion chicken wings before the day is over, along with a lot of pizza too.

And dips! Here’s a recipe for a classic guacamole dip, and here are 11 more, including individual 7-Layer dip, a BLT dip, cheesy spinach and bacon, and something called a cookies and cream cheese dip.

And if you’re looking to save a few calories this weekend — though it’s probably one of the worst days to attempt that — how about homemade pita chips instead of potato?

Go Patriots! Oh, wait …

Upcoming Events and Anniversaries​

The Beatles land in NYC (February 7, 1964)

Read SEP Archives Director Jeff Nilsson’s article on why early critics hated the Fab Four.

Del Shannon dies (February 8, 1990)

The “Runaway” singer committed suicide at the age of 55.

Daylight Saving Time debuts (February 9, 1942)

Who is credited with the idea for the time change? Benjamin Franklin.

Little House on the Praire cover
By Laura Ingalls Wilder (scan from the Internet) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Laura Ingalls Wilder dies (February 10, 1957)

Paramount just announced that they’re doing a big-screen version of the TV series Little House on the Prairie, which was based on Wilder’s book series.

President Abraham Lincoln born (February 12, 1809)

During a debate with Stephen Douglas, who called Lincoln “two-faced,” Lincoln said “If I really had two faces, do you think I’d hide behind this one?”.

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Comments

  1. Hopefully new bookstores WILL remain open. Really, there is no other real way to see what books are out there on what topic without them. I’ve often gone in looking for a particular topic (usually vintage/classic cars) but discovered other neat books along the way.

    I really tried to have healthy snacks on Super Bowl Sunday Bob; yes I did—no snickering. My friends and I were pretty bored with the game itself, and the commercials. Doritos and Snickers were the best of those; I would preferred to have just seen the END of the latter where the real MM appears.

    Halftime was another disaster including a social agenda that didn’t belong there; of course neither did Coldplay or Beyonce. She was the centerpiece of the first most disastrous Halftime just a few years ago. I suppose she’ll be asked back again and again for more encores. At this point though, honestly, does it even matter anymore?

    Hopefully the ‘Little House’ film will be good like the TV series of 40 years ago, and not “re-imagined for a contemporary audience” like ‘The Great Gatsby’ was a few years ago, featuring the “music” of dear Beyonce Knowles and Jay-Z. How are they going to work all the cut & paste CGI and pyrotechnics into it every so many seconds the mainly brain dead audiences sadly now seem to require?

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