News of the Week: Rock Nominees, The Coffin Challenge, and Soup Is Good Food (Even in a Cake)

In the news for the week ending October 18, 2019, are rock ’n’ roll legends, Martian life signs, a shady coffin contest, Campbell’s soup, and much more

(Checubus /

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A Priest, a T. Rex, and Some Doobies

It’s that time of year when the fall foliage is in full bloom, pumpkins are everywhere, and we find out who the nominees are for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. There’s a little something for every rock fan this year, as the list includes Whitney Houston, The Doobie Brothers, Depeche Mode, Pat Benatar, Nine Inch Nails, Motörhead, Judas Priest, The Dave Matthews Band, MC5, Kraftwerk, T. Rex, The Notorious B.I.G., Rufus (featuring Chaka Khan), Todd Rundgren, Soundgarden, and Thin Lizzy.

Only five with make it into the Hall, and the list will be decided by artists, journalists, and historians. And you! You can go to Google to cast your votes (search for “Rock Hall Fan Vote”). You can vote once a day, every single day until January 20. And congratulations to you if you’re that dedicated.

Anybody Out There?

It seems that we get stories about how we’ve possibly found life on other planets at least twice a year. But did we already find life on Mars back in the 1970s?

That’s the claim from ex-NASA scientist Gilbert Levin in this op-ed for Scientific American. He says the 1976 Viking mission revealed positive results for organic life, but other scientists dismissed the results, saying the evidence “mimicked” life but wasn’t actually life. None of the Mars missions since then have carried life-detection instruments on board, Levin says. For the record, NASA stands by its own findings.

In related news, the space agency unveiled its new spacesuits this week. They’ll be used on the next mission to the moon in 2024.

30 Hours in a Coffin (Kinda)

When I first read this story about an annual Halloween contest held at several Six Flags amusement parks, I thought it was funny. I mean, staying in a coffin for 30 straight hours isn’t something I’d ever want to do, but it sounded like a great idea for the spooky season. One location even had Butch Patrick from The Munsters as emcee!

Then I saw the story on my local TV news station and changed my mind. Sure, you had to stay in the coffin for 30 hours, but you didn’t have to lie down with the lid closed; you could sit up! And you got 13-minute bathroom/walking breaks every 3 hours. And you could still eat, drink, and talk on your phone in the coffin. So basically it’s what I do every Saturday night, only I do it on my couch.

Sure, they had to do other challenges too, some involving bugs, and they had to stay awake the whole time. But it doesn’t sound like the hardest contest in the world. My question isn’t who won the contest; I want to know how anyone could lose.

RIP Elijah Cummings, Robert Forster, Harold Bloom, Aleksei Leonov, Sally Soames, Dana Fradon, and Sam Bobrick

Elijah Cummings was a Democratic Congressman from Maryland who was serving his 13th term. He was chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and a strong civil rights advocate. He died yesterday at the age of 68.

Robert Forster was a veteran actor who appeared in movies like Jackie Brown (for which he received an Oscar nomination), Reflections in a Golden Eye, Medium Cool, The Black Hole, and the recently released Breaking Bad movie El Camino. On TV he starred in the early ’70s private eye drama Banyon, Nakia, Heroes, the Twin Peaks sequel, and he played Tim Allen’s dad on Last Man Standing. He died last week at the age of 78.

Harold Bloom was an influential and controversial literary critic, professor, and author. He died Monday at the age of 89.

Alexei Leonov was the first man to walk in space, leaving his spacecraft in March of 1965. In 1975 he was part of the crew that took part in the historic Apollo-Soyuz linkup. He died recently at the age of 85.

Sally Soames was an acclaimed photojournalist whose black-and-white portraits appeared in The Observer, The Guardian, The New York Times, The Sunday Times, and Newsweek. Her work is also in many galleries around the world. She died last Saturday at the age of 82.

Dana Fradon drew 1,400 cartoons for The New Yorker from 1948 to 2003. He died on October 3 at the age of 97.

Sam Bobrick created the teen sitcom Saved by the Bell and also wrote several episodes of The Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. He also wrote for The Paul Lynde Show, The Flintstones, Get Smart, and Bewitched. He died last week at the age of 87.

Quote of the Week

“There are 100 — maybe 500 — more deserving Italians we could be celebrating. Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Marconi, Bon Jovi. Instead we honor a man whose gift to America was measles.”

—Jimmy Kimmel, on Christopher Columbus

This Week in History

The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show Premieres (October 12, 1950)

Do people younger than 50 even know who George Burns is? Maybe they saw Oh, God! on cable at some point. I’m sure they don’t know his wife Gracie, who co-hosted this popular comedy on CBS for eight years.

Noah Webster Born (October 16, 1758)

Webster’s Dictionary defines born as “brought forth by or as if by birth.” That’s what the creator of the dictionary did on this day in 1758. The company advertised in the Post many times.

Webster died (“to pass from physical life — expire”) on May 28, 1843.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Campbell’s Soup For Lunch (October 18, 1952)

Soup ad

Apparently, boys are too dumb and lazy to get their own soup so of course some female in the house has to make and serve the meals.

This Week’s Recipes: Soup (Of Course)

October is the start of soup season. That’s not an official thing, but I think it’s something we can all agree on, right?

Let’s start off with some classics, like Ellie Krieger’s Navy Bean Soup with Ham and then this Ultimate Chicken Noodle Soup from All Recipes. Fine Cooking has this recipe for Tomato Soup, and Simply Recipes has this recipe for French Onion Soup. I don’t know how classic Caldo Verde is, but it was Emeril Lagasse’s childhood favorite. It’s made with chorizo and crispy kale.

You need a sandwich to go with those soups, so how about this Grilled Cheese with Apples from The Lemon Bowl (it would go great with the tomato soup) or this Inside-Out Grilled Ham and Cheese from Food & Wine?

And if you want to end the meal with a dessert and think you can’t incorporate soup somehow … oh, how wrong you are! Try this Tomato Soup Spice Cake from Campbell’s. Just make sure you use the condensed and not the Chunky style.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

World Series Starts (October 22)

The 115th fall classic begins at the home of the Washington Nationals, on Fox at 8 p.m.

TV Talk Show Host Day (October 23)

You can celebrate the career of any talk show host you like, but you should know that this falls on October 23 because that’s the day Johnny Carson was born in 1925.


Featured image:  Checubus /

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  1. Bob Taylor, I couldn’t agree with you more! If it had been possible, I too would have wanted to meet Gracie “in character” as well; for sure. Same thing with Eva Gabor from ‘Green Acres’ which (for all its differences) followed in the tradition of ‘Burns and Allen’.

    I know a few years ago Antenna-TV was showing ‘Burns and Allen’ on weeknights, usually followed by ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents’. Since I have to work longer hours because of CA.’s high cost of living for (cough) people living here legally, TV time has been a casualty. I’d try looking for it on DVD, then that way you’d own the entire series. I should do that myself actually, for both ‘Burns and Allen’ AND ‘Green Acres’!

  2. Gracie Allen will always be a national treasure. I’ve read that there is no video/audio interview of the “real” Gracie Allen, because she refused to “break character” to do them. Would any true fan wish differently?

    There are some Burns and Allen videos on YouTube, but not enough.

  3. The world series begins in either NY or Houston as they each had a better record than Washington.

  4. Well, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame certainly isn’t the honor it once was. Nevertheless, there ARE definitely some worthy candidates here. Only 5 will make it in, but I’m choosing 6—because I can in this column! Drum roll please! Okay! 1.) Depeche Mode, 2.) Pat Benatar, 3.) Kraftwerk, 4.) Rufus/Chaka Khan, 5.) Todd Rundgren, 6.) The Doobie Bros.

    In the case of the Doobie Bros., for me, it’s ONLY the original version (up to ’75) with Tom Johnston. Such a gifted songwriter, guitarist, not to mention vocalist! He unfortunately (due to illness) was replaced with Michael McDonald that ended it as a country rock group, morphing it into the completely different rhythm ‘n blues group from ’76 onward I never cared for.

    I certainly hope Todd is also recognized for his role in re-fueling The Cars in the 2000’s. Saw them in ’06 at (the late) House of Blues on the Sunset Strip, then in ’07 at the Canyon Club. He did a great job, which in turn led to the amazing ‘Move Like This’ album in 2011 with Ric Ocasek once again.

    I really should say shame on you Bob, for EVER quoting anything by that weasel Jimmy Kimmel, but I won’t.

    Thank you for remembering Burns and Allen. Still such a great show now with that vaudevillian humor. Also great as a fun, ’50s fix that covered each section of the decade.

    Are boys really that dumb and lazy they need to be served that bowl of soup by the household Junior Miss? I think some (unfortunately yes–sorry) really are, but not all. The beautiful artwork here I must say disguised all that, until Bob mentioned it here today.


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