News of the Week: Air Conditioning Woes, Bob Ross’s Paintings, and Tom Hanks Is Mister Rogers

In the news for the week ending July 26, 2019, are hot weather, a chandelier marriage, the Algonquin Round Table, air conditioning, blueberries, and much more.


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Heat Wave!

I’ve complained about the heat several times in the past — I’d link to them if I wasn’t exhausted and lazy — but last weekend was truly unbearable. We throw around terms such as “most” and “biggest” and “of all time!” too loosely these days, I think, but last weekend may have been the worst heat and humidity I’ve ever experienced (of all time!). Steamy, Sticky, Soupy, and other Disney dwarves you never hear about.

Because of where my windows and furniture are positioned, I don’t have air conditioning in my apartment, just a Honeywell tower fan, which is rather feeble, but the only thing stopping me from melting like a box of Crayolas on a school radiator. It’s been 25 years and summers are brutal.

I exchanged emails with my sister about the heat, and she informed me that when she went outside to do some errands, it was really awful. She also informed me that she has four air conditioners in her house. That’s not a typo, Post readers. Four. I’ve never been great at math, but I believe that’s four more than I have.

She told me that sometimes, because of all the air conditioning, her house gets too darn cold.

That sounds like a real struggle. I don’t know how she does it. I’m thinking about starting a GoFundMe page for her.

I hope it wasn’t that bad where you live. It’s been better this week, as a front came by and gave us some rain, but the heat and humidity is supposed to return, though in a weaker form, this weekend. I’m just sitting here waiting for Labor Day to arrive.

What Happened to Bob Ross’s Paintings?

Like most people, I was enthralled by artist Bob Ross, host of PBS’s The Joy of Painting. I often wondered, how the heck did he create such great paintings in such a short period of time? And after he died in 1995, I wondered what exactly happened to those paintings? Were they sold? Given away? Shown in galleries? Destroyed or lost? Well, The New York Times wondered the same thing and went on a hunt. And you know what? They found them.

True Love

None of us has any real control with who we fall in love with. Sometimes we find love where we least expect it, at a time when we least expect it. And often, opposites attract. Who knows what mystical forces in the universe are conspiring to pull us toward another?

I’m trying to ease you into this story of a woman who is going to marry a chandelier. No, she’s not marrying a man named Chandler, she’s going to marry a chandelier.

I know what you’re thinking. How can this woman marry an elaborate light fixture? We know what the differences are between the two. The chandelier is 91 years old and she’s only 35! How can such an age difference lead to happiness?

My favorite part of this story is how the woman changed her last name from Whittaker to Liberty “during a prior long-distance relationship with the Statue of Liberty.”

Sure, you can laugh at this woman, but I bet many of you are married to your phone.

The Algonquin Round Table at 100

This New York Times piece is worth clicking on if only for the great illustration by Al Hirschfeld. But read the entire article too. It’s about the 100th anniversary of the first time the famous group of writers, critics, and thinkers — including Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Edna Ferber, George S. Kaufman, and Harold Ross — met at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City. It’s a great tale of what they said, what they ate (and drank), and how they were more socially conscious than you might realize.

The article also has a great picture of where Parker wrote in her apartment. For some reason, her table was right in front of a door.

Trailers: Judy and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

This was a big week for the release of trailers for movies based on pop culture superstars. First up: Renée Zellweger as Judy Garland in Judy. Looks like it focuses on her later years.

Uploaded to YouTube by Movieclips Trailers

The other movie is A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, and it’s about Fred Rogers and the effect he had on Esquire writer Tom Junod. And who did they get to play the nicest guy in the world? Well, the nicest guy in the world.

Uploaded to YouTube by Sony Pictures Entertainment

I’m assuming we’ll see Oscar nominations for both.

RIP Rutger Hauer, David Hedison, Paul Krassner, Art Neville, George Hodgman, Christopher Kraft, and Reed Farrell

Rutger Hauer was best known for roles in movies like Blade Runner, Nighthawks, Batman Begins, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The Hitcher, as well as TV shows like True Blood and The 10th Kingdom. He died last week at the age of 75.

David Hedison was best known for two iconic roles. He was commander Lee Crane on the adventure series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and also the unfortunate scientist who turns into a bug in The Fly. He also played Felix Leiter in two James Bond movies and had roles in shows like Perry Mason, The Love Boat, The Young and the Restless, and The Colbys. He died last week at the age of 92.

Paul Krassner was a provocative political activist and founder, along with Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, of the “Yippie” movement of the 1960s. He started out writing for publications like Mad and later founded The Realist magazine, which published many famous writers. He died last week at the age of 87.

Art Neville was a New Orleans musician and founder of the bands the Neville Brothers and the Meters. He died Monday at the age of 81.

George Hodgman was the author of the acclaimed memoir Bettyville, which told the story of his return to his small Missouri hometown to take care of his ailing mother, and a former editor at several publishing houses in New York. He died this week at the age of 60.

Christopher Kraft was NASA’s first flight director, one of its first engineers, and the man considered the founder of Mission Control who helped guide many Apollo, Mercury, Gemini, and other space shuttle missions. He died this week at the age of 95.

Reed Farrell was the former president of AFTRA (the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists), host of a local talk show in St. Louis, and had the alter ego of “Christopher Coffin,” the ghoulish host of WJRT’s horror film show (think Svengoolie) in the 1960s. He also had a career before all that as a radio disc jockey, and you may have seen this clip of him that has been played a million times (for the record, his bosses made him do it).

This Week in History

Amelia Earhart Born (July 24, 1898)

Do we know what really happened to the famed aviator? Yes and no.

Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis Perform First Show (July 25, 1946)

The crooner and the comic performed their first show together at The 500 Club in New York City. They were a massive hit, going on to do their own TV show and several movies. They split up on the exact same day 10 years later. Contrary to pop culture myth, the 1976 Labor Day telethon was not the first time they were on stage together since the breakup. Martin made an appearance on The Eddie Fisher Show in 1958, where Lewis was a guest, in 1960 Lewis was brought on stage at Martin’s Sands Hotel show, and later that year Martin filled in for Lewis at his stage show when the latter was too busy filming a movie.

By the way, Lewis’s 2005 book Dean and Me: (A Love Story) is quite good.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Air Conditioning Ad (July 20, 1946)

Ad for an air conditioner
(Click to Enlarge)

About that “weather” quote often attributed to Mark Twain: it was actually said by Charles Dudley Warner, editor of the Hartford Courant.


There’s only a few days left in July, but if you hurry, you can still celebrate National Blueberry Month. Seriously, hurry up!

Here’s a recipe from Scott Jenkins for Chilled Blueberry Soup, and here’s a recipe for Blueberry Buckle, which is a kind of coffee cake. If you’d rather consume your blueberries through a straw, try this Blueberry Lemonade or this Blueberry Smoothie.

By the way, did you know that Fred Rogers created an ice cream flavor? Yup, and it was called Blueberry Go-Round.

Next Week’s Holiday and Events

Take Your Houseplants for a Walk Day (July 27)

Hey, if people can marry chandeliers, then you can take your plant for a walk.

International Beer Day (August 2)

To be clear, “international” doesn’t mean that you can only drink imported beers. It means that the day is celebrated around the world. So drink whatever you want to drink.

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  1. I’ve long been fascinated by the disappearance of Amelia Earhart and clicked on your link here regarding it. It’s an excellent article I somehow missed 2 years ago. I too feel it will remain a mystery like Kennedy’s assassination as stated in those comments. With Earhart, I don’t believe it’s an elaborate, sinister riddle; but a riddle it is all the same.

    I’m going to start International Beer Day this afternoon with some Bud Lights pretty soon with my friends on the golf course, a few days early. I’ll do a toast you as I enjoy your column each week very much as the other readers stated. Wish me luck. I haven’t played in awhile so I’ll likely be off my game.

  2. What is up with this ridiculous heatwave anyway here on the east coast? In a few days it will be August and who knows how hot it will be?! I know I am dreading my air conditioning bill but have no choice. Terrible dilemma.

    I agree with you regarding Tom Hanks. He is definitely a rarity we really need, just like Fred Rogers himself. Perfect casting. Bob McGowan jr. I loved your comments on Renee Zellweger, and agree completely. I do not know how you come up with such insightful comments on so many topics, but you do and I love them all. Your only oversight here though was not mentioning Tom Hanks as a best actor nominee, so I will. Tom, you’ve got my vote, Renee you as well. You are both wonderful, and the winners in my book already. Bob Sassone, I love this weekly Post column and figured it’s high time I wrote in and told you. I’m just sorry it took Tom Hanks to get me to do it, but I guess it did. Please accept my apology.

  3. Bob, it seems you’ve managed against all odds to ‘make it work somehow’ for many years without air conditioning, and I’m very proud of you! Thank God you DO have the four seasons and in less than 2 months it’ll be autumn. As for me (out here) not so much. As for your SISTER, I’m just going to say it: she’s got too many damn air conditioners; please!!

    As far as the 35 year old woman marrying the 91 year old chandelier goes, I say why not?! It makes more sense than a lot of things these days. If it makes her happy, it can’t be that bad. The closest thing I can recall to this was an episode of ‘Boston Legal’ where a woman (Mary Gross) fell in love with a utility box. What a great show THAT was!

    The clip of Renee Zellweger portraying Judy Garland looks great. I hadn’t realized it’s been exactly 50 years (that’s 50 plus one month and four days to be clear!) that Ms. Garland passed away. The film appears to be taking us into her unfortunate, but fascinating final years. Zellweger’s gotten too much flack over her facial work in recent years. People need to stop sweating the small stuff and appreciate the big picture, right?! I see a ‘Best Actress’ nominee coming here, oh yes!

    Thanks for running that amazing 1946 Chrysler AIRTEMP ad! Of all the technological advances of the 20th century, a/c has to be very close to the top of the list. Thanks for the blueberry links. I love them already, AND your cool column this week.


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