News of the Week: Dwindling Days, Seinfeld Turns 30, and Does Ketchup Belong on a Hot Dog?

In the news for the week ending July 12, 2019, shorter sun-ups, the disappearance of Mad magazine, Seinfeld’s 30th anniversary, and ketchup problems.

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Can you feel it? It’s very subtle, but it’s happening every day now.

The summer days are getting shorter.

It’s not a lot — just about 30 seconds to a minute every day — but it’s going to add up. Tonight, July 12, the sun sets at 8:21 in Boston. On August 12 it will set at 7:49, and on September 12 it sets at 6:59. Before you know it, school will be starting, we’ll be hearing about Labor Day sales, and the afternoon stroll to the store won’t feel like you’re inside an Easy-Bake Oven. I can’t wait. Bring on the night, bring on the cold.

Actually, I’m really waiting for December 12, when the sun goes down at its earliest time for the entire year, 4:11.

Yes, Me Worry

I think it’s safe to say Mad is an American institution. The satire mag has been published since 1952, it’s a magazine that everyone knows, and we even have a presidential candidate who has been compared to the magazine’s mascot. Despite all that, its run is pretty much coming to an end.

Oh sure, after it’s taken off newsstands in August it will still be available via subscription and comic book stores — a move that could actually work — but it’s no longer going to publish original content, aside from some yearly issues that will feature new cover art. We can argue about whether the magazine is completely ending soon or dying a slow death by a thousand paper cuts, but it will never be what it once was.

There’s a lot of chaos in the print world right now. When it comes to magazines or newspapers dying we always first think of “news” publications and local newspapers, but it’s the pop culture stuff that’s being affected too.

Hey, I’m not saying that I actually read Mad at any point during the past 30 years, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t sad to see it go.

Seinfeld’s 30th Anniversary

That’s right, 30 years (we’re all getting old). The show was originally called The Seinfeld Chronicles and the first season was only four episodes long (and it wasn’t too well received). Funny how things change.

To mark the occasion, it was Jerry Seinfeld Bobblehead Night at Citi Field last week. Jerry even got to throw out the first pitch, and — yada, yada, yada — it was one of the most perfect first pitches by a celebrity I’ve ever seen. It’s pretty much the only positive thing that has happened to the New York Mets this season.

Nobody Knows Who Robert Redford Is

Have you ever gotten actors Robert Redford and Zach Galifianakis mixed up? Apparently they’re twins.

That’s what a lot of people on Twitter think, anyway. A big meme going around is simply a GIF of Redford nodding his head, and too many people think it’s Galifianakis. Because they both have beards, I guess. Galifianakis must be happy for such a comparison, though I doubt Redford is even aware of it. I’m sure he’d rather jump off a cliff than be on social media.

If this was the only instance of people not knowing who Redford is, I wouldn’t have mentioned it. Well, I would have because it’s ridiculous, but there’s actually another recent example of people not knowing him. There was a question on Jeopardy! a while back. Redford was the answer and not one of the contestants knew who he was. And they showed his picture!

Hey, when I was in my twenties, in the late ’80s, I knew who Humphrey Bogart was.

Are Cheeseburgers in Danger?

I’ve been saying for years that we’re putting too many weird things on top of burgers — avocado, pineapple, eggs, five other burgers — and also making them too tall and messy to actually eat with our hands. I’m glad to see Jim Gaffigan agrees.

(Uploaded to YouTube by CBS Sunday Morning)

RIP Rip Torn, H. Ross Perot, Arte Johnson, Cameron Boyce, Sid Ramin, Martin Charnin, and Eddie Jones

Rip Torn had a variety of great roles in his career, most notably as producer Artie on The Larry Sanders Show, for which he won an Emmy. He also appeared in shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Columbo, 30 Rock, and Will & Grace, as well as movies like Men in Black, Dodgeball, and Cross Creek, for which he received an Oscar nomination. He was also nominated for a Tony. He died Tuesday at the age of 88.

H. Ross Perot was the Texas billionaire (he founded Electronic Data Systems) who ran for president against Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush in 1992 and got a lot more votes than anyone thought he would. He died earlier this week at the age of 89.

Arte Johnson was the comedian best known for his Emmy-winning work on the ’60s comedy/variety show Laugh-In. He also appeared in shows like Sally, The Andy Griffith Show, Bewitched, and The Love Boat, as well as many animated shows. He was also in movies like Love at First Bite and That Funny Feeling. He died last week at the age of 90.

Cameron Boyce starred in Disney series such as Jessie, Descendants, Jake and the Never Land Pirates, as well as movies like the two Grown-Ups comedies, where he played Adam Sandler’s son. He died earlier this week at the age of 20.

Sid Ramin was an orchestrator and arranger who won an Oscar and a Grammy for his work on the film version of West Side Story. He also wrote jingles for many TV commercials — you might remember this Revlon song and his Diet Pepsi song, which became a hit for both Andy Williams and The Bob Crewe Generation. He even wrote the theme to The Patty Duke Show. He died last week at the age of 100.

Martin Charnin created and directed the popular, Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Annie. He also did music for several TV shows and specials for which he won Emmys. He died Saturday at the age of 84.

Eddie Jones was a character actor who appeared in movies like A League of Their Own, Trading Places, Seabiscuit, The Rocketeer, and Sneakers, as well as TV shows like Lois & Clark, The Equalizer, and Veep. He died Saturday at the age of 84.

This Week in History

John Paul Jones Born (July 6, 1747)

No, not the Led Zeppelin bassist/keyboardist, I mean the Revolutionary War naval commander.

Telstar Launched (July 10, 1962)

No, not the 1962 instrumental by The Tornados, I mean the first communications satellite. Though it did indeed inspire the song.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Del Monte Catsup (July 8, 1961)

Ketchup ad, featuring a man in a baseball cap holding a hotdog as someone pours a bottle of Del-Monte catsup on it.

This was many years ago, when hot dogs were so heavy you had to hold them with two hands and someone else had to pour the catsup (my spellcheck doesn’t recognize that word, so just call it ketchup) for you.

National Hot Dog Month

Wait … ketchup on a hot dog? That’s a real debate (up there with “Is a hot dog a sandwich?”). Everything from mustard and pickles to cheese and beans are fine and normal toppings to most people, but tell someone you put ketchup on your hot dog, and they’ll look at you like you just told them that you wear socks on your hands. In fact, there’s a Chicago rule: ketchup on a hot dog is fine until you reach the age of 18, but then you have to move on. Even Dirty Harry agrees.

July is National Hot Dog Month. Nathan’s Famous at Coney Island held its annual hot dog eating contest last week, and the usual winners won Mustard Belts again. Joey Chestnut grabbed his 12th title by eating 71 hot dogs (and buns, let’s not forget that) in 10 minutes, just missing his record of 74. In the female division, Miki Sudo won her sixth title, downing 31 hot dogs and buns.

They’re the Roger Federer and Serena Williams of hot dogs, which is a sentence I never thought I’d ever type.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Wimbledon Finals (July 13 and 14)

The women’s final airs Saturday at 9 a.m. ET on ESPN, and the men’s final is Sunday at the same time and place.

National Nude Day (July 14)

I’m a bit of a rebel, so I’m going to celebrate the day by wearing clothes.

Featured image: Shutterstock

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Comments

  1. I’ve noticed the days are getting incrementally shorter also. It’s in the hot summer I’d like it to get dark by 4:11 myself. I haven’t noticed any Halloween paraphernalia out yet, but give that another few weeks (at most) and you will.

    I still have a subscription to MAD, and it’s still a good magazine. Thanks for making us aware of it. I’ll have to keep my eye out for what direction it goes in. I wish it were SNL that was FINALLY being cancelled, but that’ll never happen. Doesn’t matter anyway; it cancelled itself not long after Bill Clinton took office.

    I’m not surprised a lot of people don’t know who Robert Redford is now. Leonardo Di Caprio and Brad Pitt will be facing the same fate too, especially if their new film bombs the way many are already speculating it will. Johnny Depp can welcome them into his bleak universe.

    Cheeseburgers are NOT in ‘grave danger’ at all; just the people’s health that consume that gross American cheese with all its fat and cholesterol. Usually I like the Sunday Morning videos you include, but have to wonder if Jim Gaffigan here isn’t a shill for the cheese industry that’s in insane overdrive and getting worse with the damn cheese!

    The very word ‘cheeseburger’ has almost completely replaced the word ‘hamburger’. In fact you have to special order a lot of things now NOT to have cheese on it. The public has been brainwashed into thinking “it has to be a cheeseburger or it’s nothing”. When I ask friends and other people I know that order them (trying not to be judgmental) what it is about the cheese that makes it so special and wonderful, the answers were all variations of ‘I don’t know’, ‘Huh, I never thought about it’, ‘I’ve just always gotten them with cheese’, ‘That’s a good question now that you mention it!’ So there you have it: NO good reasons.

    I love the ’62 Telestar video by the Tornados, Bob. Never heard anything like it; very interesting. Love the ’61 catsup/ketchup ad too. As far as anyone thinking I’m weird for liking ketchup on my hot dog, I’m not. They are. Everyone I know eats them with ketchup, mustard, chopped onions and/or relish, or variations. No ketchup on hot dogs is weird concept even for this screwed up era.

    Hopefully arguments/debates over it won’t lead to family brawls at Disneyland (again) or little league games between the parents. Not sure if it got on the national news, but yeah, there was a nasty brawl at the Anaheim, Ca. theme park between family members on Saturday, July 7th!

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