News of the Week: October Thoughts, Deadline Artists, and Norman Rockwell’s Oatmeal Cookies

In the news for the week ending October 11, 2019, are the amazing joys of autumn, shelves full of cookbooks, little bags of bourbon, and much more.


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Ranking the Months

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

—Anne Shirley, from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

I wouldn’t say that October is my favorite month of the year — I’d go with November or December — but October is the month where the weather completely changes for the better. September can be cool and comfortable too, but it has too many warm and humid days for my liking. October is the first month where you can see that fall is truly here. There’s a crispness to the air, the leaves are changing, it’s the first month where buying hot chocolate makes sense, and it’s the start of all the fall and winter holidays as Halloween arrives.

Of course, Halloween arrived at my supermarket back in August — that’s when they put Halloween candy on the shelves, right next to the beach chairs and flip-flops.

My friend Will Leitch recently did a ranking of the months, and I’ll have to do that one of these days. His favorite month is October and his least favorite is August. I’m with him on August, but October comes in third place in my mind. November has turkey and pumpkin pie and December has peppermint bark and presents.

Hamill and Breslin

Pete Hamill and Jimmy Breslin were two of the best columnists ever to grace New York City newspapers, Breslin at The New York Daily News and Newsday and Hamill at The New York Post and The New York Daily News. They’re the subjects of the entertaining documentary Deadline Artists. Breslin died in 2017, but Hamill was interviewed about the documentary and his life on this week’s CBS This Morning.

Uploaded to YouTube by HBO

Hamill interviewed Sean Connery for the Post in 1964, while Breslin wrote this satire of the credit card industry for the magazine in 1965.

From the “Here’s a Product Nobody Asked For” File …

The Glenlivet ad copy says “No ice. No stirrer. No glass. We’re redefining how whiskey can be enjoyed.” Now, like most people, you’re probably wondering, if you don’t have a glass or ice, how can you enjoy whiskey? Does whiskey-drinking really need “redefining?”

Introducing Glenlivet Shots … oh, sorry, it’s “The Glenlivet Capsule Collection,” because that sounds fancier. They’re for the people who think drinking whiskey out of a glass takes too long. It’s just one packet of whiskey you shove in your mouth.

I don’t think this is something whiskey drinkers are looking for. Putting high-end, classic liquor into a shot is sort of like getting Beluga caviar out of a vending machine.

Also: They look like Tide Pods.

October Is National Cookbook Month

Somehow, some way, I became a collector of cookbooks. It was an accident, really. I’m a fan of all things mid-century and bought a few copies of my favorite cookbook, Peg Bracken’s 1960 classic I Hate to Cook Book, several years ago, and that led to getting her other cookbooks, and then The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook,The Joy of Cooking, The Saturday Evening Post All-American Cookbook, plus a dozen other “retro” cookbooks that highlight recipes from the early 20th century through the ’70s. I no longer have any more room in my apartment for cookbooks, but I know that’s not going to stop me from buying more.

What’s your favorite cookbook, the one you find yourself going back to again and again, the one that’s dog-eared and has food stains all over it? Let me know in the comments.

RIP Diahann Carroll, Ginger Baker, Rip Taylor, Mac Conner, Karen Pendleton, and Marshall Efron

Diahann Carroll was the first black actress to have a lead, non-servant role in a sitcom, in the late ’60s series Julia. She also appeared on shows like Dynasty, White Collar, A Different World, and Grey’s Anatomy, received a Tony for No Strings, and got an Oscar nomination for her role in Claudine. She died last week at the age of 84.

Marc Copage, who played her son on Julia, wrote a remembrance of the actress for The New York Times.

Ginger Baker was the drummer for the classic rock band Cream, which also featured guitarist Eric Clapton and singer/bassist Jack Bruce. He was later in the bands Blind Faith and Ginger Baker’s Air Force and wrote a memoir, Hellraiser: The Autobiography of the World’s Greatest Drummer. He died last week at the age of 80.

Rip Taylor was the wild comic known for his confetti and for hosting one of the oddest shows in TV history, The $1.98 Beauty Show. He made hundreds of appearances on talk shows and sitcoms and did a lot of cartoon voice work, receiving an Emmy nomination for playing Uncle Fester in the animated Addams Family series. He died last week at the age of 88.

On a personal note, I met Taylor briefly when I was an extra on the TV show Wings in 1994. He was there to support his friend Debbie Reynolds, who was a guest star that week. He didn’t have any confetti with him, though.

Mac Conner was one of the great illustrators of the 20th century, a prolific artist whose work appeared many times in the Post. He also worked for magazines like Collier’s, This Week, Woman’s Day, Good Housekeeping, and Redbook and spent many years illustrating ads for various companies and also children’s books. He died last month at the age of 105.

Here is David Apatoff’s tribute to Conner from 2017, and here’s Conner’s very first Post cover, from April 3, 1937.

Karen Pendleton was one of the original Mouseketeers on The Mickey Mouse Club. She died last weekend at the age of 73.

Marshall Efron was a cast member on one of the most interesting TV shows in history, the ’70s comedy/variety series The Great American Dream Machine, which ran on PBS and also featured Chevy Chase, Penny Marshall, Henry Winkler, Albert Brooks, Martin Mull, and Andy Rooney. He died last month at the age of 80.

This Week in History

Monty Python’s Flying Circus Premieres (October 5, 1969)

The crazy British sketch show premiered on BBC1 and became a surprise hit in the U.S. when local PBS stations started to run repeats in 1974. And now everyone quotes something from the show.

Inventor George Westinghouse Born (October 6, 1846)

The battle between Westinghouse and Thomas Edison for the domination of electricity is the subject of the new big-screen drama The Current War, which Bill Newcott reviewed in August.

National Cookie Month

In addition to being National Cookbook Month, October is also National Cookie Month. This is one of my favorite food celebrations, and it’s probably one of yours too, because … who doesn’t like cookies?

Here’s a recipe for Gingersnap Cookies with Lemon Icing, and here’s one for Shortbread Cookies. Here’s the recipe from Nestle for their classic Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies (though there’s some controversy about that), and here’s one from Taste of Home for another classic, Old-Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies. If you want something a little different, how about these Potato Chip Cookies?

And let’s not forget Norman Rockwell’s Oatmeal Cookies, a recipe he gave to the Post just before he died in 1978. The last step is to put the cookies under a broiler, which I have never seen in a recipe before.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Columbus Day (October 14)

Last week we had Leif Erikson Day, so it’s only fair that Christopher gets his day too. Though many states now celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead.

National No Beard Day (October 18)

I’ve been celebrating this day for decades and didn’t even realize it.


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  1. My favorite cookbook is Pillsbury Family Cookbook, 1963
    I have used it for so many great recipes. One of which is the meatball recipe for spaghetti and meatballs.
    With a family of nine to cook for I enjoyed finding new meals to keep everyone happy.
    Thanks for your wonderful magazine and stories.

  2. I can agree with you on October from your place and vantage point, and most of Will Leithch’s assessments and reasoning behind it. I’ve been tired of Halloween since August. I’d probably like November better if it weren’t for the total greed Christmas overkill; especially the auto ads. Ideally (in Ca.) even WE should have some semblance of autumn by November-January. Yes, January. That is if there aren’t near-constant fires, like today!

    As you know, Southern California is largely on fire. Porter Ranch (4 miles from me) has 0 % containment. The air is really bad. Thank God for nose-mouth masks to wear, and Visine. July through October, then December are my least favorite months. January through June much better, generally. No particular order on those.

    The Glenlivet Capsule Collection should be a resounding success for the teens and 20-somethings that get off on eating the Tide Pods!

    Great Westinghouse ad for ‘The Cozy Glow’ heater ad from 1924. Perhaps I wouldn’t have received horizontal burns on my bottom in early ’63 (almost 6 in kindergarten) if I had THIS heater after my bath instead of the Thermador, built into the wall. Yeah, Bobby couldn’t sit down for a few weeks that. Dad… wasn’t allowed to give me my bath after that. Still the fascination with plugs and electrical sockets continued, getting a few shocks before age 10. The worst was at age 23 doing wallpaper hanging behind the refrigerator. The ‘current’ spread further out than I thought with the cutting razor in my hand. An intense, split-second shock went through my body. Pretty scary! Always extremely cautious with electricity, I still want to see ‘The Current War’.


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