News of the Week: Strange Times, Drive-In Movies, and Jerry Mathers as the Beaver

In the news for the week ending March 27, 2020, are the ongoing weirdness of our times, the loss of naked ladies, the return of the drive-in, TV recipes, and more.

Drive-in theatre

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Everything Is Weird Right Now

I was watching Wheel of Fortune the other night, and one of the prizes was a cruise. My first thought wasn’t “that cruise looks like fun” or “why are they still wasting money on vowels at the end of the puzzle?” My first thought was “why would anyone go on a cruise?!” This was my thought right after: “My God, I hope they’re disinfecting the wheel between spins!”

Of course, the episode was recorded before this pandemic. In fact, they put up a disclaimer during the unveiling of the cruise that said that very thing, because they know everyone’s going to be thinking it. (By the way, cruises never look fun to me, even in the best of times.)

TV is odd now, like it comes from a different time, a different place. That medicine commercial shows a bunch of people jammed together at a concert! That diet soda ad has people together at the beach! That soap opera has people in bed together! Contestants on The Price is Right “come on down” and high-five everyone in the audience!

I keep thinking, “DON’T DO THAT!”

So everything is different right now. Delivery people are wearing masks. Supermarkets have “seniors only” hours. Playgrounds are closed. News anchors are doing their jobs from their kitchens. Your favorite restaurant is now takeout-only, if it’s open at all. And the only hand soap my store smells like bananas. Why would anyone make hand soap that smells like bananas?

But hey, we’re all going through these hard times, and we’ll get through this weirdness together. Even if together means being apart.

I’ll Read It Online for the Articles

Here’s another casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic: pictures of naked women.

Specifically I’m talking about the pictures in the print edition of Playboy. In an open letter posted to Medium, Playboy CEO Ben Cohn says that the company has been thinking about going all-digital for a while, but the pandemic has made them do it a lot sooner than they had originally planned. 

They will continue to print special editions again in 2021, but the regular Playboy, with its pictures and features like celebrity interviews and the Playboy Advisor, will now be online-only.

You Can Still Go to the Movies

While some things are going away or changing because of what we’re all going through, some other things are making a surprising comeback. Along with (hopefully) the return of the phone call, we’re also seeing the return of another retro institution.

People can’t go to movie theaters right now — in fact, the premieres of many movies have been pushed back until later in the year — but one place that is seeing a revival in this time of social distancing is the drive-in theater. This might even introduce younger people to the concept of watching a movie from inside the car (it’s like watching Netflix, only you need to bring your coat). No word yet on whether kids will still hide in the trunk so they can get in for free.

Of course, drive-ins never completely went away, as Troy Brownfield pointed out a couple of years ago. I just hope we see even more of them when all of this is over.

And You Can Still Watch Sports

There’s no basketball, baseball, hockey, or soccer, and the Summer Olympics has been postponed until next year, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any sports to watch. How about the oddly riveting … marble racing! For some reason, I found myself rooting for orange.

RIP Kenny Rogers, Dr. Cory SerVaas, Terrence McNally, and Stuart Gordon

Kenny Rogers was a Grammy-winning singer of many country/pop hits, including “Lucille,” “She Believes in Me,” “Lady,” “Through the Years,” “Coward of the County,” “Islands in the Stream” (his duet with Dolly Parton), and “Just Dropped In,” his psychedelic pop song with the First Edition. He was also an actor, appearing in movies like Six Pack and a series of TV films based on his song “The Gambler.” He died last week at the age of 81

Dr. Cory SerVaas was not only editor of The Saturday Evening Post from 1975 until 2007, she had quite an amazing life in addition to that as a health educator, a journalist, an inventor, and a humanitarian, someone who wanted to educate and make the world a better place. You can read our tribute to her here, along with this tribute to her husband Dr. Beurt R. SerVaas, who died in 2014.

Terrence McNally was a Tony-winning writer of such plays as Love! Valour! Compassion! and Master Class, as well as the books for such musicals as Kiss of the Spider Woman and Ragtime. He died Tuesday at the age of 81.

Stuart Gordon directed one of the great horror movies of the ’80s, Re-Animator, and co-created the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids franchise. He died this week at the age of 72.

This Week in History

Elvis Inducted into the Army (March 24, 1958)

His army serial number was 53310761, in case you were wondering.

Exxon Valdez Oil Spill (March 24, 1989)

The ship hit a reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, and dumped 10.8 million gallons of oil into the ocean, the worst oil spill worldwide in terms of environmental damage.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Magnavox (March 24, 1951)

A Magnavox ad from the 1950s

I still remember running home from school when I was a kid because I knew my mom had bought a new Magnavox TV, one of those big pieces of furniture made of wood that sat on the floor and had an opening in the top and lots of cubby holes. It was a lot bigger than the TV in this ad.

Those were the days when you could fit flowers on top of your television.

TV Dinners

Last week, I gave you several comfort food recipes, since we’re all stuck at home and probably doing a lot of home cooking. Now comes a book that gathers similar recipes all in one nostalgic place.

Laurie Jacobson, an expert on all things Hollywood past and present, has written several fantastic books, including Timmy’s in the Well, a biography of husband Jon Provost, who played Timmy on Lassie. Her new book is called TV Dinners, and it features recipes from 40 of the great child stars, including Leave It to Beaver’s Tony Dow, Paul Petersen of The Donna Reed Show, Jay North and Jeannie Russell of Dennis the Menace, Billy Mumy of Lost in Space, Kristy McNichol of Family, and many more. You can order it here.

Classic television and classic recipes? That combo makes TV Dinners the ultimate comfort food. Here’s a recipe from Leave It to Beaver’s Jerry Mathers, who came up with it because he had some serious health issues as an adult and had to take a hard look at his diet.

Jerry Mathers’s Non-Fried Fried Chicken

Ingredients

  • Cut-up chicken parts (thighs, legs, breasts, wings)
  • Olive oil
  • Panko bread crumbs
  • Pinch of dried rosemary
  • Dash of salt and pepper
  • Garlic cloves
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice

Directions

Wash chicken and lightly coat with olive oil. Dip the pieces into bowl of Panko crumbs mixed with dried rosemary and salt and pepper. Coat all sides and place in a roasting pan lined with olive oil, cut-up garlic cloves, and lemon juice. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

National Doctors’ Day (March 30)

This is a great day to honor the people who take care of us. Not in person! Right now, I’d just send a card.

April Fools’ Day (April 1)

Here’s a prank you can play on your family while we’re all stuck at home and looking for something to do: Unplug the TV and tell your family that the cable is out and the company says it won’t be back until May. It will be hilarious!

Featured image: Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

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Comments

  1. Let’s face it Bob, everything’s been really weird, upside down, ass backwards in this country for a long time before this science-fiction nightmare ever started. This is upping the ante in a terrifying new way. Let’s hope the public is obedient in staying indoors, washing their hands, social distancing and more. 2,000 deaths in the U.S.; unimaginable in Italy at 10,000, as of today.

    Honest to God, I didn’t even realize Playboy had gone away. It began fading from my consciousness in the 2000’s, a lot more so in the last decade. I’d stopped subscribing a long time ago. The issues I did see in 2017 (I think) no longer looked or seemed like Playboy at all; more like Wired magazine. Online’s the way to go. Maybe in ’21 with the occasional non-committal ‘book-a-zine’ format?

    Very little sympathy for the entertainment industry other than the ‘worker bee’ employees working pay check to pay check. This country doesn’t need the outrageously priced ‘movie theaters’ anyway. Drive-In’s have more validity and justification today per Troy’s excellent 2018 article on it. Just click the link above.

    Thanks for the link on Kenny Rogers. His passing got no news coverage that I could see due to the situation. The Saturday Evening Post owes it’s life again to Dr.’s Beurt and Cory SerVaas, for re-lighting the match of THE classic American institution 50 years ago which wasn’t easy. Nothing really worthwhile in life ever is.

    It has been in a new Golden Age over the past decade under Joan SerVaas and Steve Slon with publishing challenges that would have had the the editors and publishers in its original heyday fainting—-for good reason. Instead, it’s comparable for today what is was then, with this wonderful website to boot! The Post has had to reinvent itself at different times in its history. Let’s hope our country can somehow reinvent itself, living up to ITS potential as well. You couldn’t ask for a better blue print, right? First we have to get through this crisis. Stay well, sane, and let the animals in your life help you cope!

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