And Kids Haven’t Even Finished Their Candy Yet
I saw my first Christmas commercial of the year on Monday, three days before Halloween. It was for Capital One (apparently you can buy gifts with your credit card). My supermarket is already selling Christmas-oriented boxes of Kleenex, and you can listen to the “Holiday Traditions” station on SiriusXM. Of course, that’s not too early for them. That station actually runs all year long. I’m a big fan of Christmas music, but even I can’t listen to “Silver Bells” in June.
You know Christmas is here when we’re already having silly arguments about “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” a song that is perfectly fine but people want to make controversial anyway. Yes, we’re apparently doing this craziness again. I guess it wouldn’t be the holidays without it.
There’s a theory, cliché at this point, that Christmas seems to come earlier every year. This happens to be true, though I don’t know if “earlier” is the right word to use. It seems that everything — holidays, TV seasons, the things we do every single day, time itself — are overlapping and happening all at once. There’s no separation anymore, no breathing room. Everything is faster and earlier. The perfect illustration for this is my supermarket in September, when sitting on one shelf they’ll have summer sand pails, back-to-school supplies, and Halloween candy. You don’t know what season you’re in.
They say — and by “they” I mean the talking heads on TV news who seem to be astounded by how calendars work — that the Christmas season is shorter this year, because Thanksgiving is on the 28th. That means there are six fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, less time to shop and make merry. Of course, this is ridiculous because it assumes that everyone in the world starts their Christmas shopping the day after Thanksgiving (and also assumes that this has never happened before). People shop before the holiday starts, and the web has changed shopping completely. But the news has made Walmart start their holiday deals earlier. In October. It started last week, which means you’re already behind on your Christmas shopping. Hurry up, get on over there before everything’s gone!
A Novel Idea
NaNoWriMo stands for “No, Please Don’t Write Any More Bad Novels This Month.” Actually it stands for National Novel Writing Month, the 30-day period every November when many people attempt to write the first draft of a novel. I don’t know how many of these novels are eventually published, but not everything someone writes has to be published. It could be a fun exercise, especially for beginning writers or kids. Just don’t be fooled into thinking this is actually how writing a novel always works. Unless you’re Mickey Spillane.
The Rat Race
Since we’ve eradicated disease, ended poverty, and solved the problem of climate change, it’s time to move on to the next big project: teaching rats how to drive tiny cars.
Yup, that’s what researchers are doing at the University of Richmond, and they’ve found that the driving reduces the animals’ stress. They must not have tested the rats in Boston or Los Angeles. The results could actually help doctors and scientists learn more about the mental health of humans.
But what if a rat steals a car? Naturally they’ll have to call this cat to catch him:
There are some things in life that just shouldn’t be updated or changed. Black-and-white movies, the number of innings in baseball, Jiffy Pop. I’d add to that list “The Alphabet Song,” the tune that taught us all about the letters we use. We all remember that part in the middle where several letters run together, “LMNOP.” Well, it seems that’s now too confusing for kids, so they’ve slowed that part down.
Nothing makes sense anymore.
RIP Robert Evans, John Conyers Jr., John Witherspoon, Bernie Parrish, and Jerry Fogel
Robert Evans was an outspoken movie producer and former head of Paramount who brought to the public such movies as The Godfather, Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown, The Odd Couple, True Grit, and Love Story. He wrote an autobiography, The Kid Stays in the Picture, which became a documentary. He died last weekend at the age of 89.
Here’s the last tweet he sent, which turned out to be a great way to leave.
John Conyers Jr. was the longest-serving black member of Congress in history. The Korean War veteran served the state of Michigan for 53 years. He died last week at the age of 90.
John Witherspoon was a comic and actor who starred in such films as Friday, Bulworth, and House Party, as well as TV shows like The Tracy Morgan Show, The Boondocks, Black Jesus, and The Wayan Bros. He died this week at the age of 77.
Bernie Parrish was an All-Pro cornerback for the Cleveland Browns who was an advocate for players’ rights, and the rare player that stood up to and tried to unionize the NFL, a move that led to his release from the team. He wrote a book critical of the league, They Call It a Game. He died last week at the age of 83.
Jerry Fogel starred in the ’60s sitcom The Mothers-in-Law. He was also a recurring character on The White Shadow and made appearances on The Bob Newhart Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Marcus Welby, M.D., as well as the movies The Day of the Locust and Tora! Tora! Tora! He died last week at the age of 83.
Quote of the Week
“Now they are mushy, dingy, gray and sometimes cold. I look forward to them the way I look forward to finding a new, irregularly shaped mole.”
—New York Times food critic Pete Wells on the German fried potatoes at Peter Luger, in his zero-star review of the famed steakhouse
This Week in History
New York City Subway Opens (October 27, 1904)
It’s the largest subway system in the world, with 472 stations, but Boston has the oldest underground transit system, with the Tremont Street subway having opened in 1897.
MPAA Film Ratings Take Effect (November 1, 1968)
Motion Picture Association of America president Jack Valenti decided to end The Hays Code, which had been used by the film industry since 1930, in favor of a new letter system. The letter ratings used until 1970 included G (for General Audiences), M (for Mature Audiences), R (Restricted), and X (You Shouldn’t Be Watching This). In 1970, GP (which confusingly stood for Parental Guidance) was added, and ages for the other categories were changed. That lasted until 1972, when the letters became G, PG, R, and X. (Someone needs to make an LMNOP-type song for the ratings.)
In 1984, complaints from parents about the violence and gore in two movies forced the MPAA to create another category, PG-13 (Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13). Do you know what the two movies were? Answers at the end of the column. No Googling!
This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: “The Penciliter” (October 30, 1948)
Maybe you can use one of these for NaNoWriMo, especially if you’re “a smoker who writes” or “a writer who smokes.”
National Deviled Egg Day
It seems to me that Deviled Egg Day should be on October 31, for obvious reasons, but it’s actually November 2. Here’s the recipe for Curtis Stone’s Herbed Deviled Eggs, and here’s one for Curry Deviled Eggs, which utilizes Greek yogurt. If you like deviled eggs but have always wondered how they would taste fried, try this recipe from Food Network. The network also has this recipe for Bacon Deviled Eggs, which I’m including because it has bacon.
Next Week’s Holidays and Events
Daylight Saving Time Ends (November 3)
Many people hate the fact that it’s now going to get darker a lot earlier, but I truly love it. Remember to turn your clocks back an hour before you go to bed Saturday night. So it’s actually November 2 you have to do this, unless you’re up past midnight.
King Tut Day (November 4)
This isn’t the day the boy king was born, it’s the day in 1922 that explorer Howard Carter and his crew found Tut’s tomb.
Answers to trivia question: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Gremlins.
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