News of the Week: Good News/Bad News, Summer Books, and the Wonderful World of Gin

In the news for the week ending June 12, 2020, are the reopening of movie theaters, the remaking of cartoon legends, the unmaking of tea, the mixing of gin, and much more.

A glass of gin and tonic with lime

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This Week in Social Distancing

I can’t wait until I no longer have to do these “social distancing news” sections of the column. We probably have a while to go, but things are starting to open up. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but things are starting to open up.

Depending on your state or city, restaurants and bars are beginning to do business beyond curbside takeout and delivery, many with outdoor seating or indoor seating with a limited number of patrons, plus other safety measures.

Many doctors and dentists are starting to see patients again, though I’d call ahead to find out what you have to do. Some salons and spas are opening too. The same with beaches and parks. AMC Theaters, which said just last week that they might not be able to survive, said this week that they plan to open all of their locations in July. They haven’t yet given any details on how, but you might be able to see a few new movies this summer, though most have been moved to later in the year, to 2021, or to streaming services.

Of course, there’s bad news too. Nineteen states have seen an increase in COVID-19 cases the past couple of weeks, especially Arizona.

Many retail stores are slated to permanently close locations this summer, including J.C. Penney, Victoria’s Secret, GNC, and Pier One. Not all of the closings are 100 percent pandemic-related, but the virus may have sped up the process. Starbucks is going to close nearly 400 locations and increase its pickup operations.

So basically there’s good news and bad news this week. Which is pretty much how every week has been during this whole thing. For the record, I have no plans to go to a mall, a bar, or a movie. I’m not quite there yet. I’m still in “stay home/watch TV/cook for myself/cut my own hair” mode.

(Note: This is always my mode.)

New Book Releases

The Hardest Job in the World by John Dickerson. The title of this new book from the 60 Minutes correspondent and Whistlestop podcast host refers to the U.S. presidency. The book examines how leaders from Lincoln and LBJ to Reagan and Obama did their jobs and why we need to reevaluate how we view the office. It also has a fantastic cover.

The Daughters of Erietown by Connie Schultz. The first novel from the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist is set in 1957 Ohio and centers on two high school lovers whose lives are turned upside down when the girl finds herself pregnant.

Countdown 1945 by Chris Wallace. The Fox News Sunday host tells “the extraordinary story of the atomic bomb and the 116 days that changed the world,” the weeks that led to the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima.

Night. Sleep. Death. The Stars by Joyce Carol Oates. The new novel from the acclaimed writer tells the story of how the death of a father affects the lives of his adult children in different ways.

Dewey Defeats Truman: The 1948 Election and the Battle for America’s Soul by A.J. Baime. This is a detailed account of the important election made famous by a rather unfortunate newspaper headline. (Out July 7.)

Antkind by Charlie Kaufman. The first novel from the screenwriter of such movies as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Adaptation is about — and I hope I can summarize this correctly — a minor film critic who discovers the greatest movie ever made, which is later destroyed, leaving only one frame behind. He must try to remember the film because it “might just be the last great hope of civilization.” Add to that some commentary about contemporary culture and the influence of social media, and I’m sold. (Out July 7.)

Th-Th-Th-Th-That’s All Folks!

We live in turbulent times, and one solution to the messes we have is to take guns away from cartoon characters.

That’s the word from the new streaming service HBO Max, which has decided to not give Looney Tunes characters like Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam guns in their reboot of the classic comedy shorts, produced by Warner Brothers Animation. They will, however, be able to hunt Bugs Bunny and other characters with knives and scythes.

Sigh.

I don’t know what they expect to accomplish by doing this (and I really hope they don’t start editing out the guns from Looney Tunes cartoons of the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s). Also, are they aware that Porky Pig hasn’t worn pants the past 85 years?

Steeping with the Enemy

I’m a big tea drinker — I can’t stomach too much coffee — but I’ve never really given much thought about the differences between the way we Americans make it and the way the Brits make it. Sometimes I make it with loose tea and an infuser; sometimes I make it with tea bags (Twinings). But there’s a new controversy brewing, and I hope our two countries can remain on friendly terms.

(Warning: The responses highlighted at the other end of the next two links get pretty sweary.)

A while back, an American mom showed the world how Americans make iced tea, and Brits freaked out. All that sugar! Though in the mom’s defense, it looks like she was making a Southern sweet tea.

Now that same mom has decided to show the British how Americans make hot tea. And let’s just say that it didn’t go over too well, because the British take their tea very, very seriously.

Though I have to say our friends in Britain are absolutely right. Seriously, don’t microwave your tea. Just … don’t.

Headline of the Week

Man Tormented by Mystery Pizza Deliveries to His House for Almost a Decade

RIP Bruce Jay Friedman, Kurt Thomas, Mary Pat Gleason, Bonnie Pointer, Chris Trousdale, Claude Heater, Irene Triplett

Bruce Jay Friedman was an influential short story writer, novelist, and screenwriter. He wrote the screenplays for films like Splash and Stir Crazy, novels like Stern and About Harry Towns, plays like Steambath and Scuba Duba, and hundreds of short stories, as well as magazine articles for Esquire. He died last week at the age of 90.

Kurt Thomas was the first American male gymnast to win a gold medal at the world championships. He won several medals at various events over the years and competed in the 1976 Summer Olympics. He died in May at the age of 64.

You’ve enjoyed Mary Pat Gleason in many TV shows over the years, including Desperate Housewives, Mom, Will & Grace, Friends, and ER, as well as films like A Cinderella Story, Basic Instinct, and 13 Going on 30. She also appeared on The Guiding Light and won an Emmy for writing for the show. She died last week at the age of 70.

Bonnie Pointer was one of the founding members of the Pointer Sisters, singing on their early songs, though she left the group before their later major success. She died Monday at the age of 69.

Chris Trousdale was a singer in the ’90s band Dream Street, which had such hits as “It Happens Every Time.” He died last week at the age of 34.

Claude Heater was an opera singer but also played an important role in a classic film. He played Jesus in the 1959 movie Ben-Hur. He died last month at the age of 92.

Irene Triplett was the last American to receive a Civil War pension ($73.13 a month). She died Sunday at the age of 90.

This Week in History

First U.S. TV appearance of the Rolling Stones (June 6, 1964)

It was on Hollywood Palace, hosted by Dean Martin.

Cole Porter Born (June 9, 1891)

The American composer wrote such songs as “Anything Goes,” “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “You’re the Top,” “Begin the Beguine,” “At Long Last Love,” and “Night and Day.” That’s a pretty great résumé.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Butch and Mousetrap (June 8, 1946)

Dog looking at a mouse's hole in a wall. A mouse trap is nearby, untriggered.

I usually try to tie this section in to something else in my column — another story in the news, a picture, a recipe. But I picked this Albert Staehle cover for a purely personal reason: I have a mouse in my apartment.

World Gin Day

Gin is my alcohol of choice, so I’m happy to tell you that Saturday is World Gin Day.

Here are recipes for six Prohibition-era drinks that feature gin, including a Tom Collins, a martini, and a French 75. The Spruce Eats shows you two ways to make an Orange Blossom, while Taste of Home has the recipe for a gimlet, which was Philip Marlowe’s drink (though he took it in a very different way).

Speaking of all things hardboiled, Film Noir Foundation founder and Turner Classic Movies host Eddie Muller has been making cocktails from home over on his YouTube channel during the pandemic. They’re usually tied in to a movie he’s showing that week on Noir Alley. He shows you how to make a Mildred Pierce, a Cornered, and the Blacklisted, among others.

I think the Journalist might be my go-to drink for the summer. Yup, it includes gin.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Flag Day (June 14)

Think you know a lot about Old Glory? Take this Post quiz from 1946 and prove it. I got half of them wrong, but that means I got half of them right.

Bloomsday (June 16)

This day celebrates the life and work of Irish writer James Joyce.

Featured image: Shutterstock

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Comments

  1. I would have classified the closings of 400 Starbucks under the good news, Bob. It’s not much, but it it’s something! Some of these books look pretty interesting, including ‘Countdown 1945’ by Chris Wallace. It’s hard to live in the shadow of someone like Mike Wallace, with the nerve (and stones) to do what HE did as a journalist; unmatched to this day.

    I’m not opposed to what Warner Brothers Animation is doing regarding the gun removal from their cartoons, and they seem to have found some creative alternatives. Dialing down the violence more would be good, but this too is something. Porky Pig seems to have been put on a REALLY long hiatus, or was quietly ‘dropped’ permanently from the WB family. God forbid it wouldn’t be because he STUTTERED would it?! Of course not! Look, at least it’s not because he’s been without any pants on for 85 years. Hasn’t Winnie the Pooh been bottomless at least as long too?

    So, you’re a Gin drinker Bob. Not a drop over here, but some of these recipes might have me wanting to try a shot glass. That incredible top photo IS beautiful! I hope you found the mouse and got him outside safely. Thanks for running the beautiful cover of Butch. He really enhanced quite a few great Post covers in the ’40s. He was often mischievous, but my favorite is the one where he’s lying on his soldier pet Daddy’s uniform, fearful he won’t see him again.

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