News of the Week: New Books, Chicken-Kissing, and 60 Years of Plan 9 from Outer Space

In the news for the week ending September 13, 2019, are lake monsters, space invaders, chicken kissers, cow babies, and much more.


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Fall Reads

Fall really is coming — even if today it’s suddenly 80 degrees and humid for some stupid reason — and that means books. Well, every season means books, but the fall is the time of year we pay particular attention to them. We love to curl up with a good book, but you can’t curl up when it’s hot and humid. Well, you can, but it’s just uncomfortable.

In addition to the books mentioned by Amazon editor Chris Schluep in the current issue of the Post, here are seven other books you might like to read in the next few months.

The Midcentury Kitchen, by Sarah Archer. This is the ultimate collectible for people who love mid-century design and ads. As the ad copy says, it’s “an illustrated pop history from aqua to avocado, Westinghouse to Wonder Bread.” Really great stuff. Archer also has another book, Midcentury Christmas, a terrific book that will bring back a lot of memories for people of a certain age.

The Institute, by Stephen King. It seems like King has a new book (at least) every year. This one is another creepy tale of more creepy things happening to kids who have hidden powers. It just came out this week and it’s already becoming a TV series.

How to Raise a Reader, by Pamela Paul and Maria Russo. This guide from the editors of The New York Times Book Review shows parents how to introduce books to their kids and make them lifelong readers.

The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett. The acclaimed novelist and essayist — who also happens to own a terrific bookstore in Nashville — pens this tale of what happens to various generations of a family after the father buys a lavish estate near Philadelphia. Out September 24.

Grand Union, by Zadie Smith. Smith is a fantastic essayist, and this is her first collection of short stories, including stories she wrote for The New Yorker as well as previously unpublished stories. Out October 8.

The Peanuts Papers. This Library of America special edition collects essays from various writers on how the Charles Schulz strip has influenced them, including Umberto Eco, Jonathan Franzen, Ira Glass, Mona Simpson, Chris Ware, and the aforementioned Ann Patchett. Out October 22.

In Defense of Elitism, by Joel Stein. A former columnist for Time, Stein is a funny writer, and in this tome, he argues that elitism is actually a good thing, not the evil that so many politicians and pundits have tried to say it is. Out October 22.

CDC Wants You to Stop Hugging and Kissing Chickens

This seems like something that doesn’t really need to be said, but I’ll repeat it: The CDC wants you to stop hugging and kissing chickens.

The Loch Ness Monster Might Just Be a Big Eel

I’ve never understood why people wonder what the Loch Ness Monster could be, as if it’s one thing (if it exists). How long have people been seeing something odd in the Scottish body of water — hundreds of years? How could it be the same creature (if it exists)? Unless they’re talking about monster offspring.

But people keep looking for the monster, and it’s a big tourist attraction (even if the most famous photograph of the monster turned out to be a fake). This week, the results of DNA tests on the water came up … well, inconclusive. The researchers say that tests point toward the “monster” actually being giant eels that live in the loch. Of course, as one monster hunter puts it, it’s not a surprise that DNA tests would show that eels live in the water, along with fish and other sea creatures. So, many people aren’t convinced.

But okay, let’s say it’s a giant eel. That’s not a monster?

Ms. Monopoly

Did you know there’s a version of Monopoly that’s based on raisins? Yup, it was a collaboration with Sun-Maid that featured … well, raisins. You could buy the Sun-Maid headquarters and vineyards and other raisin-related places. Hasbro has actually put out hundreds of special editions of the game, including boards based on World of Warcraft, BlackBerry, Disney Villains, and even one centered around Bass Fishing.

The newest is called Ms. Monopoly, and it gives women more power. In a way it’s about time, considering that Monopoly is based on The Landlord’s Game, invented by Lizzie Magie in 1903. As you would expect, the game is getting lots of attention and has caused some controversy and pushback.

Its tagline is “The First Game Where Women Make More Than Men,” which won out over “The Board Game For Game Broads,” which wouldn’t have gone over as well.

Plan 9 from Outer Space Turns 60

Sure, it’s known as the “worst movie of all time,” but I’d rather watch this than anything Adam Sandler puts out.

Uploaded to YouTube by YouTube Movies


RIP Carol Lynley, Jimmy Johnson, T. Boone Pickens, James Atlas, Robert Frank, Bill Harris, Kylie Rae Harris, and Frederic Pryor

Carol Lynley was an actress best known for her work in The Poseidon Adventure, Blue Denim, Harlow, The Stripper, Return to Peyton Place, Bunny Lake Is Missing, and the classic vampire TV movie The Night Stalker. She died last week at the age of 77.

Lynley appeared on the cover of the December 5, 1964 issue of the Post.

Jimmy Johnson was the prolific guitarist you can hear on Aretha Franklin’s “Respect,” Rod Stewart’s “Tonight’s the Night,” Paul Simon’s “Kodachrome,” and many other songs. He was also an engineer and producer on the Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar,” Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman,” and Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll.” He died last week at the age of 76.

T. Boone Pickens was the self-made Texas billionaire who made his fortune in the oil industry. He died this week at the age of 91.

James Atlas was an acclaimed writer of biographies on Saul Bellow and Delmore Schwartz and the founder of a book series that featured bios of Joan of Arc, Crazy Horse, and Branch Rickey, among others. He died last week at the age of 70.

Robert Frank was an influential photographer and documentarian known for books like The Americans and his work with the Rolling Stones, who filed a restraining order against him when his film showed violence and drug use in the crowd at a concert. He died last week at the age of 94.

Bill Harris was a veteran movie critic who took over (along with Rex Reed) At the Movies when Siskel and Ebert left to do their own show. He also worked on Today, Entertainment Tonight, and Good Morning, America. He died last week at the age of 75.

Kylie Rae Harris was a country singer who released two albums and an EP. She died in a car accident last week at the age of 30.

Frederic Pryor was the college student who became part of the prisoner exchange involving a Russian spy and Gary Powers that was depicted in the Tom Hanks/Steven Spielberg movie Bridge of Spies. He died earlier this month at the age of 86.

This Week in History

ESPN Launches (September 7, 1979)

When the sports network launched 40 years ago, someone — maybe New York Times sportswriter Red Smith — called it “the ghastliest threat to the social fabric of America since the invention of the automobile.” I don’t know if that’s true, but it certainly changed the way sports is covered.

Richard Nixon Pardoned by President Ford (September 8, 1974)

Ford, who became president after Nixon resigned because of the Watergate scandal, gave Nixon a “full, free, and absolute pardon … for all offenses against the United States.”

Uploaded to YouTube by AP Archive


This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Borden Contest (September 13, 1947)

Borden ad

I don’t know who won this contest, but I did a little digging and can tell you that the winning entry was “Beauregard.” Elsie and her husband Elmer the Bull (I assume they were legally married) had three other children: Beulah, Larabee, and Lobelia.

Elsie is still the mascot for Borden and can also be seen on cans of Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk, which you can use in …

… These Dessert Recipes!

The Eagle Brands site has a ton of recipes, each one using sweetened condensed milk, including Chocolate Fudge, Magic Cookie Bars, Cinnamon Mocha Coffee, Creamy Banana Pudding, and this Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake, because we’ve entered the season of pumpkin spice and it’s a law that I include at least one recipe with that ingredient.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Constitution Day/Citizenship Day (September 17)

The U.S. Constitution was signed on this day in 1787, which makes it a good day to also think of what it takes to be a good citizen.

International Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19)



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  1. I’m glad autumn is nearly here for YOU Bob, and the temperatures will drop below 80 degrees! I’ll be lucky to get that by Thanksgiving. Still pretty hot out my way though, with 103+ (yes) over the next few days; and October is no prize either, trust me! The book selections you’ve put here look good too, along with the ones in the current issue.

    Kissing chickens just sounds like a really unhealthy, bad idea, not to mention (frankly) just plain weird! Maybe the Loch Ness ‘Monster’ really IS just a huge eel, making it a wonderful sea creature, not a monster at all. I have a friend with a ‘domestic’ eel that swims in a big (warm water) tropical fish tank. He’s about a foot long with beautiful, snake-like skin. He likes to stay at the bottom, swimming or sleeping among the tank’s decor.

    Thanks for mentioning the fine work Carol Lynley did as an actress, and the link of her beautiful Post cover! Carol also did some great work in a late ’68 episode of ‘The Big Valley’ (1965-’69) Western series. She played a beguiling, seductive, sexy outlaw in this must-see episode! The recent online feature here on ‘Bonanza’ is really good; read the whole thing. Ladies didn’t live long on the Ponderosa.

    President Ford was put in a very difficult position, but I have to agree with his decision and the reasons behind
    it he stated; especially viewing it now, 45 years later. It cost him the ’76 election, but allowed Mrs. Ford to get the healing she needed, and establish the Betty Ford Center.

    I love Elsie the cow. She is to Borden (really) what the Coca-Cola logo is to Coke. No need to change something that’s perfect—and an all-time classic. The dessert recipes here look truly scrumptious, Bob. Which one’s your favorite?


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