News of the Week: Muppet Stamps, the Truth about House Hunters, and How to Make a Pimm’s Cup

In the news for the week ending June 28, 2019, are Sesame Street stamps, ‘House Hunters’ high jinx, ugly dogs, toy store renewals, and much more!

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Can You Tell Me How to Get, How to Get the New Sesame Street Stamps?

It’s warm. Too warm. We’ve gone from the weird, wet, and cool weather we were having the past few weeks to a more summer-like mugginess. It’s as if Mother Nature were saying, “What, you thought we were going to go from May to September without heat and humidity? Think again, Pilgrim” (in my head, Mother Nature sounds like John Wayne, apparently). I know I’m going to have to pull out the big fan this weekend.

But before that, let’s talk about Sesame Street. 2019 is the 50th anniversary of the PBS/HBO series, the show that taught many of us how to count and fear creatures that live in garbage cans. This week, the United States Postal Service unveiled new stamps to mark the occasion. The stamps, available now, feature many of the characters from the show, including Big Bird, Kermit, Grover, Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster, Abby Cadabby, and Bert and Ernie.

“Reality” TV

There has been a debate the past several years about whether or not HGTV’s House Hunters is 100 percent on the up-and-up. Various investigations and interviews with people who have been on the show seem to suggest that even though some aspects of each episode are accurate — the people and the homes actually do exist — much of what we see is simply following a formula, and a lot of it is … well, let’s just say “tweaked” or “staged.”

Here’s more evidence: A woman who has been on the show twice (!) has written a piece for Slate that describes what the application and the filming process are like. The piece contains such revelations as the fact that she and her husband weren’t even looking for a house because they already owned one, and that they had to overact and reshoot scenes for dramatic effect. (For the record, here’s HGTV’s statement about the article.)

Some might say it’s naive to think that reality shows are “real,” but I guess I’m old-fashioned when it comes to word definitions and what constitutes fiction and nonfiction. I think people just like to gawk at all the nice houses.

The Ugliest Dog in the World

Scamp the Tramp won (if won is the right word) the 31st annual World’s Ugliest Dog Contest last week in California. The dog’s owner says it was Scamp’s personality that made the judges vote for him, which is what you always say about dogs or people when you don’t want to talk about their looks.

I think he has a Keith Richards vibe.

Toy Story

Good news, everybody: Toys R Us is coming back! Well, you might not find this news worthy of an exclamation point because not many people were shopping in the stores near the end, but it’s coming back!

The new owners are going to open six locations that will be a third the size of the old stores. They’ll also have play areas and other activities the kids can do.

The stores will be open just in time for Christmas, when you’ll probably be buying your toys online.

From $40,000 to …

I was watching Antiques Roadshow this week and they had one of their “vintage” episodes, where they show items appraised many years ago and give an update on what they’re worth now. Sometimes their worth increases (happy music!) and sometimes they go down (sad trombone). This Reno, Nevada, episode had a 1954 Post cover by Stevan Dohanos titled Ice Cream Truck at the Beach. In 2004 it was worth $40,000, but in 2019 it’s worth … well, you’ll have to watch that segment to find out.

BREAKING SEUSS!

You know how to pronounce Dr. Seuss, right? It’s pronounced “Doctor,” like “Proctor.”

Okay, I’m really talking about the last name, the pen name of author Theodor Geisel. All these years we’ve been pronouncing “Seuss” like “moose.” But we should actually be saying “Seuss” so it rhymes with “voice.” It’s true! The author used to correct people but then got tired of doing it, and here we are.

It’s just one of the fascinating tidbits in this episode of WCVB’s Chronicle, about the words and names we’ve been pronouncing wrong. You’ll also find out that dour is actually pronounced “dewer” and a the “g” in gyro is silent, so it’s pronounced “year-o.”

The School with Just One Graduate

Steve Hartman’s “On the Road” segments are my favorite part of the news. It takes us away from all of the political squabbling and tragic news of the day, at least for a few minutes, and shows us what’s really important. Like this story about a girl who is the only graduate of her middle school, and the last graduate at the school ever, since it’s closing this year.

RIP Judith Krantz, Steve Dunleavy, Bob Dorian, and Jim Pike

Judith Krantz was an internationally best-selling author of romance novels, including Scruples, Mistral’s Daughter, and Princess Daisy. She wrote for magazines early in her career and didn’t start writing novels until she was 50. She died Saturday at the age of 91.

Steve Dunleavy was a veteran journalist and lead correspondent on the syndicated tabloid show A Current Affair. He was also an editor and writer for The New York Post and Star magazine. He died Monday at the age of 81.

Bob Dorian was not only a magician — The Amazing Dorian — he was also the host of American Movie Classics, back when the network was more like Turner Classic Movies. He was also an actor, appearing on AMC’s Remember WENN, Woody Allen movies, and as the voice on the tape recorder that starts all the spooky stuff happening in The Evil Dead. He died earlier this month at the age of 85.

Jim Pike was the lead singer of the pop trio The Letterman, famous for such hits as “When I Fall in Love,” “The Way You Look Tonight,” and the medley of “Goin’ out of My Head/Can’t Take My Eyes off of You.” He died earlier this month at the age of 82.

This Week in History

Christopher Latham Sholes Granted Typewriter Patent (June 23, 1868)

The newspaper publisher and politician is credited with co-inventing the first typewriter, the Sholes and Glidden. To mark the day, June 23 is also National Typewriter Day, which probably won’t impress these kids.

Mildred J. Hill Born (June 27, 1859)

You don’t know her name, but you’ve sang the song she co-wrote a thousand times: “Happy Birthday to You.” She wrote it with her sister Patty, based on another song they wrote, “Good Morning to You” (though there’s some dispute about that). For many years, the song was copyrighted, but it became public domain in the United States in 2016 and in the European Union in 2017.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Dog Days of Summer (June 25, 1955)

Dog Days of Summer

This day has nothing to do with the laziness of dogs during the hot months of July and August; it’s actually about Sirius, the Dog Star. Though try explaining that to a dog in July and August.

How about a Pimm’s Cup?

Wimbledon starts on Monday, and since they’re going to be drinking a lot of Pimm’s Cups over there for at least the next two weeks, I thought I’d post the recipe. I’ve heard of the drink for years (and they keep talking about it on TV coverage of the grass tournaments), but I’ve never investigated exactly what it contains.

Wine Enthusiast says that a Traditional Pimm’s Cup calls for 2 ounces of Pimm’s No. 1 (a gin-based drink infused with botanicals and spices), 4 ounces of lemonade or lemon-lime soda, and a mint sprig, cucumber slice, strawberry, or apple slice for a garnish. Put in a chilled tall glass with ice and stir.

And as I like to remind you every year at this time: it’s Wimbledon, not Wimbleton.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

International Joke Day (July 1)

If you’re American in the living room, what are you in the bathroom?

European!

(I heard that on Everybody Loves Raymond.)

Fourth of July (July 4)

If you know your presidential history, you know one of the odder pieces of trivia, that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826. But some might not know that another president, James Monroe, died on July 4 too, five years later.

Other things that happened on July 4? West Point opened, Thoreau moved to Walden Pond, and Lou Gehrig made his “Luckiest Man” speech. Oh, and twins Pauline and Esther Friedman were born in 1918. You know them as Dear Abby and Ann Landers.

Featured image: USPS.

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Comments

  1. I’ve never seen ‘House Hunters’ but have seen the couple on the cover of People (and other expensive trash) at the supermarket check out line. I’ve never watched ‘Property Brothers’ either but HAVE seen their annoying ADT security commercial (unfortunately) a number of times while watching programs on HULU!

    Poor Scamp. He may not be much to look at, but has a heart of gold and I’m sure is a great pet! I’ll have to think about the Keith Richards vibe a little more.

    Let’s see how the revived, limited Toys R Us does. Interesting story on the PBS ’54 Dohanos original illustration that became the Post cover. I never knew I should have been pronouncing Seuss like “Soyce”. Dour and gyro I did know. At one time Jack-in-the-Box had a beef gyro “burrito” that was pretty good. But like with so many items from JITB, it wasn’t around very long.

    Overall those kids reacted to the typewriters better than I might have thought, some even liking them and wanting to give them a chance. One girl appreciated the fact they didn’t involve electricity or wires. Of course this WAS a manual, but I liked her thinking and openness to older technologies!

    Thanks for running that beautiful ’55 Post cover. Isn’t is peaceful and relaxing? And the dogs, of course. I know we have the Post online access now, but it’s still nice seeing them as a parting shot of your ‘News’ column, Bob.

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