News of the Week: Christmas TV, Toxic Words, and Respect for the Humble Tater Tot

In the news for the week ending November 23, 2018, are the start of TV holiday specials, Word of the Year season, a liquored-up Keurig, a working fax machine, and much more.

A small santa doll inside a toy TV

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Every Time a Bell Rings, an Angel Gets Its Wings

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving. I know you probably have leftovers in your fridge right now, but Thanksgiving is over, and it’s Black Friday, and Christmas season has begun. And it’s not just time for shopping and Christmas decorations; it’s also time for grinches to steal, magical snowmen to die, and George Bailey to find Zuzu’s petals. It’s time for Christmas TV!

There’s a website devoted to Christmas TV schedules — conveniently called — and it lists every single time a Christmas special or holiday-themed movie will air on broadcast TV and cable until January. When is A Charlie Brown Christmas on? When will the Christmas episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond air? What’s the schedule for all those Hallmark Movie Channel movies where a busy career woman bumps into a guy at Christmastime who just happens to be named Nick and they fall in love?

The site is constantly being updated, so if they don’t have your favorite listed right now, they will once they find out when it’s on. For the record, It’s a Wonderful Life isn’t on as much as it used to be back when the copyright ran out and every station from California to Maine could run it as many times as they wanted. NBC has owned the rights for a couple of decades now, and it’s on only twice this year: November 24 (that’s tomorrow!) at 8 p.m. on NBC-owned USA Network, and Christmas Eve at 8 p.m. on NBC.

Oxford’s Word of the Year

It’s that time of the year when organizations and publications start releasing their “           of the Year” lists. This week, Oxford Dictionaries picked toxic as their word of 2018.

Oxford says they picked the word because they saw a 45 percent increase in the number of times it had been searched for on their website, as well as for the many times it had been used in an array of contexts, including in the media.

I don’t know if I’ve heard the word that much this past year. I think I heard fake a lot more. Of course, Oxford’s word last year was youthquake, so …

Keurig Has a New Machine (And This One’s for Booze!)

There’s a good chance you have a Keurig coffeemaker in your home. Would you buy one that dispenses alcohol?

According to The Verge, Keurig and Anheuser-Busch are teaming up to create a new company called Drinkworks, which will release a new cocktail pod machine. It works similar to the Keurig coffee makers, only the pods contain alcohol. The machine will cost $299, and each pod will be around $4.

This sounds like a natural idea, but I don’t know if it will catch on. The cost of the pods might be a little high, and will people switch from having bottles of alcohol in their home to pods they’ll have to replace? It also seems to me that the actual mixing of a cocktail — the act of creating it yourself and making it exactly how you want it — is a big part of having one in the first place.

I also can’t imagine Philip Marlowe coming home after getting beat up by thugs and placing a pod into a machine.

Fax Machines Are Still a Thing

Every year I buy a pocket planner. Please don’t educate me about the wonders of your Google calendar and other digital marvels. I like paper, and I like the size, and it’s something that just works for me. There’s a page in the planner for your personal information: your name, your address, your phone number, whom to contact in case of emergency, that sort of thing. One thing has always irritated me about this page, though: There’s no line for my email address, but there is a line for … my fax number. (Apparently, the company that makes the planner thinks it’s still 1997.) Not only is this line not needed, but if they took it out, it would give more space for the other lines. I have to write really small to fit in my phone number.

Remember when fax machines were the “OMG” technology? “You mean I can put this paper in the machine on this end and someone across the country gets a copy of it in a few minutes? Wow!”

Well, fax machines no longer get an “OMG” or a “wow” from anyone, unless you’re talking to someone young who might say, “Wow, that sounds really lame.” For some, they belong in an old technology museum, along with 8-track tape players and rotary phones. But as this piece at The Atlantic says, they’re still being used by a lot of people, especially in doctors’ offices and in the court system.

Potatoes, in Tot Form

Tater Tots don’t get much love when you become an adult, not even among potato enthusiasts. It’s something that kids eat. Even the name Tater Tot sounds like it’s something you should abandon when you’re old enough to vote.

But one man, Dan Whalen, thinks this should change. In fact, he wrote a whole book about it, and CBS Sunday Morning profiled him this week.

RIP William Goldman, Roy Clark, Katherine MacGregor, James Greene, and Pablo Ferro

William Goldman was the writer of several classic movie screenplays, including All the President’s Men, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Princess Bride, Marathon Man, Misery, and many others. He also authored some great behind-the-scenes books about Hollywood. He died last week at the age of 87.

Roy Clark was an award-winning country star and guitarist who co-hosted the popular variety show Hee-Haw. He died last week at the age of 85.

Katherine MacGregor was a veteran actress probably best known for her role as Harriet Oleson on Little House on the Prairie. She died last week at the age of 93.

James Greene was a showbiz veteran who played Councilman Milton on Parks and Recreation. He also played Davey the elevator operator on The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd and appeared on many other TV shows, movies, and on Broadway. He died last week at the age of 91.

Pablo Ferro had an interesting life. Not only did he design the main titles for movies like Dr. Strangelove, L.A. Confidential, Bullitt, Good Will Hunting, and Darkman, he also worked with Stan Lee, had a successful run in advertising on Madison Avenue, and edited the Michael Jackson video for “Beat It.” He died last week at the age of 83.

This Week in History

Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (November 19, 1863)

The iconic speech by the president was a lot shorter than people realize, and even the wording is disputed among historians and scholars.

First Push-Button Phones (November 18, 1963)

Bell was the first to offer the push-button option, to customers in Pennsylvania.

I miss rotary phones.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Toddler Empties Purses (November 22, 1952)

We’re now officially in Christmas party season, and this scene from Stevan Dohanos might play out in homes across the country. Look at all those hats!

Toddler Empties Purses

Do people still put their coats on beds during parties?

Tater Tot Stuffing

This recipe is mentioned in the CBS Sunday Morning video above and is officially called Tots-giving Stuffing. But you can make it for Tots-mas too if you want.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Cyber Monday (November 26)

Maybe you can fax your order over to Amazon.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting (November 28)

NBC seems to own network holidays. They have It’s a Wonderful Life, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and they also have the annual Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center in New York City. It airs at 8 p.m. and will feature Tony Bennett, Diana Ross, John Legend, Martina McBride, and other musical guests.

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  1. Thanks for the Christmas program TV guide. Personally I’m keeping the set off more than normal (which is already a lot) because of the commercials. I’m already burned out on the Holidays, sorry.

    ‘Toxic’ could be the word of the year every year, but glad to see it made it once anyway. The Verge sounds weird, but will probably sell well. Alcohol pods. Hmmm. Well they’ll be a new companion for teens already into consuming Tide pods, and definitely for frat boys!

    Fax machines definitely still have their place. Scanning isn’t always easy or practical. When it isn’t, faxing is just what the doctor ordered. Newer technologies don’t make the old ones ‘bad’ or unnecessary, necessarily.

    Roy Clark was great on Hee-Haw, kind of a country bumpkin take on ‘Laugh-In’. Katherine MacGregor was incredible on ‘Little House’ as Harriet Oleson. She may not have had the biggest role on the show, but certainly made the role big!

    Thanks for returning the vintage Post cover near the bottom of the feature. I doubt very many people would leave their coats and hats on a bed like this anymore as people (basically) don’t/can’t trust other people, but they trust their dogs! Did anyone else see The National Dog Show with John O’Hurley on Thursday?


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