News of the Week: Thoughts of Spring, Shatterhand, and the Mystery of the Sesame Street Crack Master

In the news for the last week of February 2019 are the fact that it’s already March (!),a new James Bond movie, an old Sesame Street short, frozen food, and more.

Tulups growing out of a snow covered ground in early Spring

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Suddenly, It’s March

I hate warm weather with a passion, but I’m not a curmudgeon about it. At least I don’t think I am. If I had the choice of the temperature being 0 or 100, I’d take 0 every time. But I’m a New Englander and I do like that there are four seasons. I love the cold and white of winter, but around the beginning of March, I do think that enough is enough. It’s another day in the 30s, and there’s still some snow left over from a storm, ugly from being blackened by the dirt and grime and rubbish of the streets, and I want to see it all go away, and maybe not have to shovel again or wear a heavy coat. So let’s bring on the spring and the flowers and get the warm months started.

Of course, ask me how I feel at the end of July, when I’m crying because it’s too hot and humid and I’m longing for the cool days of October.

This Might Be the Title of the New Bond Movie

There have been a lot of odd names in the James Bond novels and films. Octopussy. Moneypenny. Xenia Onatopp. Plenty O’Toole. Even Skyfall seemed rather odd until we saw the movie and found out it was the name of the home where Bond grew up.

Now comes Shatterhand, which is the working title for the next Bond movie, according to the industry publication Production Weekly.

In the Ian Fleming novel You Only Live Twice, Dr. Guntram Shatterhand was (spoiler alert!) an alias used by Bond’s arch-enemy Blofeld (last seen in the most recent film, Spectre), so maybe we’re going to see Christoph Waltz and the Blofeld character once again, even though Waltz has said that he wasn’t going to be in the next one. We’ll see when the 25th 007 film opens in April 2020.

I’m just wondering how they’re going to put the word Shatterhand into the theme song. Though I guess they did fine with Goldfinger.

A Salute to American Heroes

This is a terrific story from CBS News about a young British boy who felt responsible for the crash of an American B-17 during World War II, so much so that he has spent the last 75 years honoring the men who died in that crash.

Cracks

I was a Sesame Street kid. It’s where I discovered my love of reading, how I learned about other cultures and people, and when I first became incredibly afraid of eight-foot-tall talking yellow birds. I watched the show every day, and I still remember many of the characters, the songs, even sketches and segments I haven’t seen in over 40 years.

But I don’t remember the Crack Master. Apparently this has been an ongoing mystery that fans of the show have been discussing online for years. Many fans don’t remember the short film Cracks, and some have even questioned if they imagined it or are remembering incorrectly what they saw when they were kids and where they saw it.

But now the mystery has been solved! It was indeed a short film that ran on the PBS show in 1969, and someone has helpfully uploaded it to YouTube. The Slate 360 podcast has the whole story, including an interview with the woman who narrated and sang in the short film. She was also the singer of an influential experimental band in the ’60s.

One Last Thing about the Oscars …

I don’t want to rehash and analyze who won this and who won that, and who should have won this and who shouldn’t have won that, but I did want to mention one thing before we put the 2019 Academy Awards in the rearview mirror. They messed up the “In Memoriam” segment. This isn’t a surprise. They always mess it up, but since they didn’t mention many of the celebrities who died in the past year (and RIPs are a regular feature of this column), I thought I should mention them here.

For some reason they forgot to include Carol Channing (and she was even nominated for an Academy Award!), Dick Miller, Sondra Locke, Verne Troyer, R. Lee Ermey, and others.

Now, some will say they didn’t mention those people for two reasons. One, they don’t have time for everybody. This can’t be true, because they did include in the segment behind-the-scenes people that movie fans have never heard of (nothing against including those people, but if you do, you can’t use the “we didn’t have time” excuse). The second reason they give is that people like Stanley Donen — one of the most famous directors in history — died too recently. It’s true, Donen did die just last week, but they could have at least mentioned him (and they did include actor Bruno Ganz, who also died recently).

This show is supposed to be a celebration of the year in film. They need to make the “In Memoriam” segment longer and include more people, or not have it at all. At the very least, tell viewers where they can see a longer list online.

RIP Stanley Donen, Brody Stevens, W.E.B. Griffin, Ethel Ennis, Mark Hollis, Jeraldine Saunders, Dick Churchill, Morgan Woodward

Stanley Donen directed such classic films as Singin’ in the Rain, On the Town, Charade, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Funny Face, and Damn Yankees. He died last week at the age of 94.

Here’s the title number from Singin’ in the Rain. Gene Kelly was sick with a 103-degree temperature when he filmed it:

Brody Stevens was a well-liked stand-up comic who appeared as a warm-up act for many comics and also acted in movies like The Hangover and Due Date. He died last week at the age of 48.

W.E.B. Griffin wrote an astonishing 150 books — adventure and action novels for adults and kids — many of which became best-sellers. He wrote many of the books under a pseudonym or as a ghostwriter. He died earlier this month at the age of 89.

Ethel Ennis was an influential jazz and blues singer who left the music business rather early in her career. She died earlier this month at the age of 86.

Mark Hollis was the lead singer for the band Talk Talk, responsible for songs like “Talk Talk,” “It’s My Life,” and “Life’s What You Make It.” He died this week at the age of 64.

Jeraldine Saunders wrote the novel that the hit TV series The Love Boat was based on. She also wrote many episodes of the series. She died Monday at the age of 96.

Dick Churchill was the last surviving member of “The Great Escape,” the daring escape from a German prison camp during World War II that inspired the movie of the same name. He died earlier this month at the age of 99.

Morgan Woodward appeared in such films as Cool Hand Luke, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, and Firecreek, and on TV shows like The Life and Times of Wyatt Earp, Star Trek, Dallas, The X-Files, and Gunsmoke. He died last week at the age of 93.

This Week in History

Grand Canyon Becomes National Park (February 26, 1919)

The breathtaking landmark turned 100 this week, and you can read all about it in the new issue of the Post.

Glenn Miller Born (March 1, 1904)

The popular bandleader was responsible for such songs as “Moonlight Serenade,” “In the Mood,” “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” “I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo,” and “Pennsylvania 6-5000.” He decided to join the army at the height of his career and entered as a captain in the Army Specialists Corp. Miller and the rest of the crew disappeared over the English Channel in December 1944, and it is presumed the plane crashed due to a combination of pilot error, bad weather, and faulty equipment.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Foodarama Ad (February 28, 1959)

Ad for a refridgerator
Foodrama Ad from the February 28, 1959 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. (Click to Enlarge)

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a refrigerator that big before. It’s bigger than the studio apartment I once had. Look at the size of that freezer!

March Is National Frozen Food Month

How does one celebrate Frozen Food Month? You could just go out and buy a TV dinner or a frozen pizza — there’s nothing wrong with that! — but this section is usually reserved for recipes. So let me give you one that I came up with that requires frozen veggies. I call it Rigatoni Sassone. I call it that because it includes rigatoni and also because food is much more enjoyable when it rhymes.

  • 1/2 box rigatoni pasta
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Perdue Short Cuts chicken (grilled- or rotisserie-flavored)
  • 1 box Green Giant Healthy Vision frozen veggies (rosemary butter-flavored)
  • Parmesan-Romano grated cheese (the kind in the plastic shaker, like Kraft)
  • Pepper

Cook the pasta. Drain but leave a little bit of pasta water in the pot. Cook the frozen veggies. Take the pot of pasta off the head and add the veggies, chicken, cheddar cheese, and Parmesan-Romano. Keep mixing together until it reaches the creaminess you like (hey, it’s your dinner!). Add pepper to taste (I usually add a fair amount because the Parmesan-Romano and pepper go well together). Serve topped with more of the Parmesan-Romano cheese and with a good, crusty bread.

This is a warm, hearty meal that might be too heavy for spring, but it’s not officially spring for a few weeks, and March nights can still get awfully cold.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

National Anthem Day (March 3)

Shouldn’t this be called National National Anthem Day?

Mardi Gras (March 5)

The annual celebration in New Orleans starts this (Fat) Tuesday, though the parades actually started in January and the family celebrations started last week.

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Comments

  1. It’s nice to hear you enjoy the four seasons. Here in southeastern Michigan we have: winter, winter, winter and orange cone season, also known as road construction season. If it were possible, I’d be living in Florida or Arizona year round.
    I really enjoy your column each week !

  2. Here’s hoping you get your wish on the weather. I hate the heat too, but would gladly take 100 degrees over 0 Bob. if forced to choose. Out here it can get up to 117 which (as you’d imagine) is blisteringly wicked. The cold still no match for other parts of the country the winter, HAS been much closer to it for the first time since the late 1880’s, and it’s pretty unpleasant alright! I’m hoping the extreme cold isn’t going to turn into prolonged extreme heat this summer.

    A 25th ‘Bond’ film coming in 2020? Talk about a played-out franchise; good grief almighty. The only thing even MORE burned-out are the Academy Awards, of course. I agree with you on the ‘In Memoriam’ segment being botched-up, but the entire show was anyway. Carol Channing’s absence was probably the most noticeable, I’d agree.

    The Grand Canyon cover of the new Post is one of unique, unmatched heavenly beauty; a true classic.

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