News of the Week: Back to School, Twitter Insults, and Here’s the Right Way to Pronounce ‘Gyro’

In the news for the last week of August 2019 are kids in school too soon, Twitter taken too seriously, a winter that’ll be too cold, a sandwich that’s too hard to pronounce, and much more.


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Sorry Kids!

Where I live, school doesn’t start until after Labor Day, and every year I’m always surprised to find out that they start school in August in many parts of the country. August! Some places started school two weeks ago! It’s just not right to make kids carry backpacks and worry about long division in the dog days of summer. There should be a logical point where summer ends and school begins, a definite line, and when I was growing up, that line was always Labor Day.

It reminds me of this classic Staples commercial. It’s a shame they don’t run it anymore. It perfectly captures what it feels like for both kids and parents when the new school year starts (though shopping for new school supplies was always one of my favorite things to do).

The kids in the commercial probably have their own kids now.

All the News That’s Fit to Quit

People are often called nasty names on Twitter. Most of those words are too extreme to repeat in America’s oldest magazine. Being called a “bedbug” is way, way down on the list of unacceptable names you can call a person on social media. There must be, what, 70,000 to 80,000 insults ahead of it?

Not according to controversial New York Times opinion columnist Bret Stephens. He was called a “bedbug” by a professor at George Washington University (the Times had a bedbug infestation last week and the professor compared Stephens and his writing to the annoying insect). Stephens promptly freaked out, which is odd, because the professor didn’t even use Stephens’s Twitter handle in his tweet, and the tweet originally only got a handful of likes and no retweets (God, I can’t stand social media). Stephens either got a heads-up from someone who saw it, or he’s the type of guy who searches Twitter or Google to see if anyone is talking about him.

That practice is rather innocuous, but what Stephens did next wasn’t. He could have just written a snarky tweet back or forgotten about it, but he went ahead and sent an email to the professor telling him to come to his home and “call me a bedbug to my face,” CC’ing GWU’s provost and the Director of the School of Media and Public Affairs. That’s right, Stephens snitched on the professor.

In an appearance on MSNBC that just made things worse, Stephens said he wasn’t trying to get anyone in trouble when he sent a copy of the email to the professor’s bosses. Alrighty then.

The professor, Dave Karpf, wrote an essay for Esquire about the controversy and how he felt when it went viral.

I will say that I agree with Stephens on one thing: Everybody should quit Twitter.

Farmer’s Almanac Predicts Bad Winter

When I read a headline like this, my first thought is, “Oh no, it’s going to be sunny and humid?” Because that would be my definition of a “bad” winter. Of course, that’s not what the Farmer’s Almanac means. They mean it’s going to be colder and snowier than usual.

Example #2517 Why We Need the Oxford Comma

RIP David Koch, Jessi Combs, Charles Santore, and Neal Casal

David Koch was the head of Koch Industries, the multi-billion-dollar global company that deals in everything from finance and energy to natural gas and ranching. Koch also gave millions to cancer research, education, and the arts, including PBS, as well as to conservative political organizations. He died last week at the age of 79.

Jessi Combs was a professional speed racer known as “the fastest woman on four wheels.” She was also a fill-in co-host of the Discovery Channel show Mythbusters. She died this week attempting to break a speed record in Oregon’s Alvord Desert. She was 36.

Charles Santore was an acclaimed artist and illustrator known for his work on children’s books, including a well-received 1991 edition of The Wizard of Oz. Earlier in his career he did illustrations for advertisements and TV Guide, including a great cover of Peter Falk as Columbo. He died earlier this month at the age of 84.

Neal Casal was an influential guitarist who not only released many solo albums, but also worked with artists such as Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams, Shooter Jennings, and Lucinda Williams. He died last week at the age of 50.

Quote of the Week

This Week in History

The Fugitive Finale Airs (August 29, 1967)

The Harrison Ford big-screen adaption of the ’60s David Janssen series is often described as a “great” movie. It’s … okay. There’s nothing really wrong with it, but when you’ve seen the original series and know that Dr. Richard Kimble was on the run for four seasons, it’s a whole different thing. The ending of the movie doesn’t pack the satisfying punch of the two-part series finale of the TV show, which everyone tuned in to watch.

Author Mary Shelley Born (August 30, 1797)

It amazes me that Shelley was only 20 years old when her classic monster novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus was published. She started writing it when she was 18.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Wet Camp Counselor (August 27, 1949)

Throwing camp counselor in the lake

It was the end of the summer. The kids had put up with too many orders, too much bullying, too much yelling from the head counselor. That’s when they decided to push him into the water. And life at Camp Crystal Lake was never the same after that …

Sunday Is National Gyro Day

It’s that time of the year when we all need to remember how to pronounce gyro, and I used the word year to give you a big clue. The correct way to say it is “YEAR-o,” and not “JAI-ro” or “GEAR-o.”

Here’s a recipe for Gyro Meat with Tzatziki Sauce from Alton Brown, and here’s one for a Homemade Greek Chicken Gyro from The Mediterranean Dish. I can pronounce Mediterranean, but I always forget how to spell it.

And while we’re talking about how to say certain foods, let me just add that daiquiri is pronounced “DAK-ari,” açaí is pronounced “a-sigh-ee,” and bruschetta is pronounced “bru-SKET-a.” You’re welcome. And if you don’t agree with me on how to say those words, I invite you to come here and say them to my face.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Labor Day (September 2)

I miss the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon.

Newspaper Carrier Day (September 4)

Not to be confused with International Newspaper Carrier Day, which is in October, this day celebrates Barney Flaherty, the first paperboy, hired by The New York Sun in 1833.

I hope you subscribe to a print newspaper, get it delivered to you, and tip well. In another 10 or 20 years it might be one of those occupations that goes the way of switchboard operators and bowling alley pinsetters.

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  1. Woops and apologies on that goof, for I did know you quit Facebook per your August 16th ‘News’ and the link you enclosed to your other column of August 2014. I generally don’t make mistakes like that (but still my bad.) It’s the &@d damn heat, I’m telling ya! I need to tranquilize my mind with a little overdose of three of my favorite drugs (ELO, Styx and The Cars) in that cool, dark bedroom, Bob. The electric bill is paid ahead, I’m hardly ever home, SO this hot weekend it’s time to do a brain/body reboot by doing… nothing!

  2. Unfortunately Bob, school’s been starting in August in Ca. for the last several years; like the 11th or 12th! It’s way too soon. Like you, I started school after Labor Day, usually the WEEK after. And then the first couple of days would be half days, to ease you back in. A few times in the 3rd and 4th grade there was this sweet neighborhood dog that would come into the classroom to ‘visit’ occasionally and the students & teachers thought he was cute and fun. He was, and even looked like one or two of the dogs per the 2010 link: mostly white with some black, and floppy ears. He’d be wagging his tail, while giving the kids a lick being petted, then scamper on out again!

    That would/could NEVER happen today. That same elementary school now has signs about no guns, weapons and other scary stuff with municipal/penal code violation codes listed and more. Totally unheard of in that COMPLETELY bygone era of course. In the 5th grade, I had a teacher that read us ‘Tom Saywer’ and ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ after lunch, and it was wonderful. Today she’d be arrested, fired or put on paid administrative leave just for even HAVING the books in the classroom! Thanks for that Staples ad, it IS a true classic for sure.

    Just dump Facebook Bob, and keep Twitter! Use it in moderation. Like I said recently, I mainly use it for The Post here, and a few celebrities, but that’s it. I love Charles Santore’s artwork; really beautiful and distinctive. I only know about the correct pronunciation of ‘Gyro’ because Jack-in-the-Box came out with a Greek beef Gyro ‘wrap’ in the ’90s, and heard it pronounced correctly in the TV ads. It was soon gone, just like most ‘new’ offerings on their menu—-like the Pizza Pocket before it, around ’86.


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