News of the Week: Spring Things, Boston’s Sexy Accent, and the Return of New Coke (For a Limited Time)

In the news for the week ending May 24, 2019, are an end to the cold, an unexpected accent, a bad soda, a case of driving while “lovin’ it,” and much more.

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It Happens Every Spring

I put the screen door in this week. That’s not the most exciting sentence you’ll read today, but it’s an important moment. It’s that time of the year when you realize that the cold days are gone and the warmer days are here and you’re stuck with them until September. Of course, I say you when I should be saying I because there are many people who actually look forward to the warmer temps and are happy to see the cold go away.

I’m not one of those people, but here we are, beginning the months of screen doors and thermostats in the “off” position, icy drinks and shorts, sunglasses and light jackets. Which reminds me, I don’t own a light jacket. I have heavier winter jackets and leather jackets, but I don’t have anything “light” to wear on those spring nights when it’s just cool enough that you have to wear something. This isn’t really a problem in the summer because even the nights are too warm for a light jacket, at least for me.

It’s just that May is the odd twilight zone between April and June, when some days are cool and rainy and some days are sunny and humid and you don’t know what to wear or when to wear it. You go out in the morning with a heavy jacket because it’s wet and cold, but by the time you come home in the afternoon, you’re sweating and you have to carry your jacket around with you. It’s one of the approximately 37 reasons I like colder weather more than warmer weather: You know what to wear and you have more clothing options. I get sick of wearing shorts and T-shirts in the warmer months, I hate the bugs and the fact I can’t have hot tea, and I miss the comfort of the fall and winter. I’m not a sandals/flip-flops type of guy because I find them uncomfortable and I don’t need anyone looking at my feet (and I certainly don’t want to see anyone else’s feet, either).

Ideally there should be a time at the end of May when we do one of those clock changes, only instead of going ahead an hour we go ahead four months and — boom — it’s fall. Though I guess most kids wouldn’t find that ideal.

Anyway, I put my screen door in this week.

Wicked Awesome News

When you think “sexy accents” — and I’m going to assume you probably don’t, but stay with me here — what accent do you think of? According to a social media survey conducted by the travel company Big 7, the accent of Boston is right up there. Of the 50 accents on the list, the Hub came in second.

I was born and raised in Boston and even I don’t think this is right. Who answered this survey, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon?

The list isn’t by state; it’s a mix of states, cities, and regions. For example, “California Valley” comes in at 46; “Appalachian” is 40; “Baltimorese” is at number 15; and “Hoi Toider” (aka “High Toider”) comes in at number 35. If you’re wondering what that last one is, it’s a dialect spoken in small communities near North Carolina.

I had to check the list to see what exactly Boston beat out. Cat in a blender? Cheese grater against rocks? No, turns out New York is in third place. Oh great, another reason for Boston and New York to hate each other.

For the record, “Texan” came in first.

New Coke Is It!

New Coke was a mystery. I can’t quite remember exactly what it tasted like, but I’m pretty sure it was close to Pepsi. And that strategy seemed odd to me. They attempted to make Coke better by … making it taste more like Pepsi? Coke and Pepsi are two different drinks, and people like what they like. (And don’t tell me that they’re both just sugar water that taste the same. They’re completely different.) But Coca-Cola did indeed come out with a product called “New Coke” in 1985, and it turned out to be a complete marketing disaster, forcing the company to bring back the original formula — which they called “Coca-Cola Classic” — a short time later.

But now it’s coming back! In a tie-in promotion for the new season of Netflix’s Stranger Things, New Coke will again be found in vending machines and on the Coke website. It’s only for a limited time, so make sure you grab a few collectible cans.

I’m going to assume that Stranger Things is not going to show this commercial.

What Kind of Reader Are You?

I’m Neutral Good, with a dash of Neutral Evil (hey, it’s my book, why can’t I highlight things if I want to?).

Perry Mason and The Case of the Handheld Hash Brown

If you’re going to give someone a ticket for talking on their cellphone, you better make sure that someone didn’t buy it at McDonald’s.

That’s what police failed to do when they pulled over Jason Stiber for talking on his phone while driving in Connecticut last April. They gave him a ticket for $300 even though he insisted he wasn’t talking on his phone, and was actually … eating a delicious hash brown from McDonald’s. Stiber decided to fight the ticket in court. He lost the first case last year, but hired an attorney last month.

And guess what? The judge believed him. Stiber came to court armed with his phone records, proof that his car is equipped with Bluetooth for hands-free talking, and even the receipt from the Golden Arches. Justice prevails! Hash browns for everyone!

I’m just afraid everyone is going to use this type of excuse from now on. “Officer, that wasn’t a cell phone. It was a Taco Bell Grilled Breakfast Burrito!”

RIP Herman Wouk, I.M. Pei, Preston Epps, Stanton Friedman, and Grumpy Cat

Herman Wouk was the author of such classic novels as The Caine Mutiny, The Winds of War, War and Remembrance, and Marjorie Morningstar. He wrote two books on his faith, and started out as a writer for comedian Fred Allen in the late 1930s, where he was paid $500 a week (that’s $9,000 today!). He died last week at the age of 103.

I.M. Pei was the acclaimed architect responsible for the design of such buildings as the glass pyramid at the Louvre in Paris, the East Building at Washington’s National Gallery of Art, the JFK Library and John Hancock Tower (both in Boston), and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. He died last week at the age of 102.

Preston Epps was playing bongos in a club when he was approached by a record producer. He signed Epps and they went on to produce the hit song “Bongo Rock,” which was followed by several other songs with the word “bongo” in the title. He also played with people like Count Basie, Little Richard, and Ray Charles, and played percussion on “Earth Angel,” the classic song by the Penguins. Epps died earlier this month at the age of 88.

Stanton Friedman was one of the more famous figures in the world of UFOs. He was a nuclear physicist who was a true believer in extraterrestrials and spent over a half century investigating, writing, and speaking about them. He died Monday at the age of 84.

Grumpy Cat was the cat with the frowny face who took the internet by storm when her (yes, it was a female) photo went viral in 2012. Grumpy — whose real name was Tardar Sauce — died last week at the age of 7.

This Week in History

Cheers Finale (May 20, 1993)

You think last weekend’s Game of Thrones series finale got a large audience with their 19.3 million? Last week’s series finale of The Big Bang Theory had 23.4 million viewers. And if you think that’s a lot, the series finale of Cheers had 84.4 million viewers. Even that’s second place to M*A*S*H, which had 105.9 million viewers for its finale.

Samuel Morse Sends First Telegram (May 24, 1844)

Inventor Morse sent the first telegram — just the words “What Hath God Wrought” — from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore. I wonder if anyone has ever texted those words?

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: First Norman Rockwell Cover (May 20, 1916)

It was titled Boy with Baby Carriage and was the first of 322 covers that Rockwell created for the Post.

Memorial Day Recipes

The menu for Memorial Day is remarkably like the menu for Labor Day, which is appropriate because the former is the unofficial start of summer and the latter is the unofficial end. They’re like bookends for the hot season, and the menu consists of burgers and barbecue, hot dogs and potato salad, beer and brats.

Here’s a recipe from Emeril Lagasse for Spiced Buffalo Burgers, and here’s one for Sweet Hawaiian Mini Burgers. If you plan to put ketchup on those burgers, here’s how that condiment became popular.

You’ll need some potato salad, so here’s a recipe from the Recipe Rebel for an Easy Potato Salad, and here’s one from Taste of Home called Dill Pickle Potato Salad. You can make both and argue about whether or not “traditional” potato salad includes things like pickles. My family always made it with onions but nothing much else except mayo and salt and pepper.

Dessert? Taste of Home has you covered there too, with this Peach & Blueberry Trifle, this Almond Butter Swirl Ice Cream, and this Coke Cake.

Note: I have no idea if New Coke will work in this recipe, so be careful.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

French Open Starts (May 26)

The messiest of the Grand Slam tournaments — all that red clay gets on everything, even the ball — airs on Tennis Channel starting at 6:30 a.m. ET. NBC will also have coverage here and there during the week, including the finals.

Stanley Cup Final Starts (May 27)

Hopefully the Boston Bruins will bring their sexy accents when they play the St. Louis Blues in the best-of-seven series, which begins in Boston on NBC at 8 p.m.

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Comments

  1. Who told you that you couldn’t have hot tea in the summer. In our house it’s hot tea 365 days a year. And, coffee.
    Ice “tea”-never!

  2. Glad you got your screen door put in this week, Bob. Mine’s there permanently. I like the open door feeling but with the safety and security of a closed door. Keeping the bugs out is important too.

    I have light and medium jackets. You just never know. This has been the most cold, rainy May (in L.A.) I can ever recall. So I keep one in the car too for the office, in case the a/c get’s too cold. My leather and heavier jackets are in storage, I never get to wear them.

    My own accent is ‘generic’ like the anchors on the National News, but can turn on French, southern, New Jersey/New York, hillbilly, middle eastern accents at the drop of a hat. Since I love to act and entertain anyway, it doesn’t take much persuasion. I can but won’t do Minnesota/North Dakota accents. They’re too goofy for me; no offense to the people of those two fine states.

    Since I like Coke and Pepsi (in moderation) I did like ‘New Coke’ in 1985. I’ll have to try and get my hands on a few cans for a rainy day. On an unrelated, related note, be sure to read Andy Hollandbeck’s new column on Vanilla. It’s anything but vanilla I can assure you. Coke does come up in my comments; a few times in fact.

    Sorry to read about Herman Wouk’s passing, even at 103. Such an excellent writer. Dan Curtis Productions of both ‘The Winds of War’ and ‘War and Remembrance’ had the same hauntingly beautiful theme song composed by Dan’s composer of choice, Robert Cobert. He’s best known for all of his ‘Dark Shadows’ (1966-’71, 1991) music. I love it all too, but the ’80s ‘War’ theme is my most favorite.

    I got to meet him at a DS convention in 1991, and told him so. I could tell he was very touched, and wished he’d heard that from more people. He had fun enthusiastically autographing the outer plastic coverings on the LP’s I bought. Of course that plastic is still on them; you know it is!

    Thanks for the link of ‘Earth Angel’, a true classic of the Doo-Wop Fifties. Love ‘The Penguins’ and ‘The Flamingos, especially ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’. Done many times, many ways, but only once in Doo-Wop.

    Coke Cake? Which flavor would YOU use? Leave your comments below. Sunday’s my birthday Bob. Some years it’s actually ON Memorial Day. I’m in good company. Post cover guy John La Gatta’s is also 5/26; just 63 years earlier. Look up the new ‘Art of the Post’ on him from this week!

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