News of the Week: Back to School, Ray Bradbury’s 100th, and a Visit to the Ice Cream Graveyard

In the news for the week ending August 28, 2020, are the life of New York City, the death of ice cream, the return of Batman, the celebration of vinyl, and more.

School supplies
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It Gives the Word Homeroom a Whole New Meaning

Here we are, the end of summer. Time for a trip to Staples for composition books and pens and to the mall for new fall clothing. Or maybe the kids can wear what they already own, since the school commute for many of them will be from the bedroom to the kitchen table.

I don’t envy parents who have to decide whether to have their kids actually go to a school, learn from home, or some hybrid. Parents have to work, most kids learn more in a school setting, and some kids don’t even have the equipment to go online. On the other hand, the pandemic is giving parents second thoughts. Are the schools safe? Many colleges are already reporting that many students have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and cases involving children are up.

CBS Sunday Morning’s Jim Gaffigan has thoughts on it too. He has five kids and he’s been going a little crazy this summer. Will he and his wife have to continue with the dreaded “distance learning?”

Uploaded to YouTube by CBS Sunday Morning

Is New York City Dead?

People are always leaving New York City. Joan Didion even wrote an essay about it, “Goodbye to All That,” over 50 years ago. Maybe it becomes too expensive, maybe you become disillusioned with the way your career is going, or maybe you simply find a better place to live.

Or maybe something major happens that makes you rethink living in a big city in general — a 9/11 or the current pandemic. The latter is what entrepreneur and comedy club owner James Altucher is getting at in his essay “NYC Is Dead Forever.” He acknowledges all the previous times that New York was “dead,” but he thinks this time it’s for real.

I don’t know. I’ve learned not to make any big predictions. I just end up looking goofy. Cities like New York don’t just become “over.” Maybe things will change there, drastically, because of COVID-19, people doing things a lot differently than they’ve done in the past, and some people will certainly move out forever. But change isn’t a synonym for over.

Jerry Seinfeld certainly doesn’t think NYC is over. He read Altucher’s piece and didn’t like it, so he wrote this rebuttal for The New York Times.

Batman Begins (Yet Again)

Those of you who were hoping that the latest reboot of the Batman franchise would be grim and dark, feature a growling title hero, and have way too many villains crammed into the story for no apparent reason will probably love this trailer for The Batman.

Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard

Companies discontinue products all the time, but they don’t put them in a “graveyard” that customers can visit. Except for Ben & Jerry’s. Their official site has a virtual ice cream cemetery that has all of the flavors you can no longer buy.

I remember Wavy Gravy and Holy Cannoli, but I had no idea they used to make the flavors Turtle Soup and Economic Crunch. I remembered the one named after a slyly dirty Saturday Night Live sketch (I won’t repeat the name here), but for some reason, in my mind I thought it was a joke ice cream that didn’t actually get produced.

Headline of the Week

“KFC Suspends Its ‘Finger-Lickin’ Good’ Slogan Because of Coronavirus”

This must be a marketing stunt, because there’s no danger in licking fingers if you’re already eating their chicken with your hands. Maybe they mean other people’s fingers.

RIP Dale Hawerchuk, Gail Sheehy, Allan Rich, Justin Townes Earle, Lori Nelson, Frankie Banali, and Anthony Martignetti

Dale Hawerchuk was a Hall of Fame hockey player who played for the Winnipeg Jets, Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues, and Philadelphia Flyers. He also helped Team Canada win the 1987 Canada Cup and was later a coach. He died last week at the age of 57.

Gail Sheehy was a journalist and author who wrote the popular self-help book Passages. She also wrote articles for publications like Vanity Fair, New York, and the New York Herald-Tribune. She died Monday at the age of 83.

Allan Rich was a veteran character actor who appeared in films like Quiz Show, Serpico, Frances, Disclosure, and Amistad, as well as too many TV shows to list here. He died Saturday at the age of 94.

Justin Townes Earle was the son of country rock star Steve Earle and a musician in his own right, releasing nine albums. One of his most well-known songs was “Harlem River Blues.” He died last weekend at the age of 38.

Lori Nelson appeared in several films, including Revenge of the Creature, All I Desire, and I Died a Thousand Times, and was one of the daughters in the “Ma and Pa Kettle” films. She died Sunday at the age of 87.

Frankie Banali was the drummer for Quiet Riot and WASP. He died last week at the age of 68.

Anthony Martignetti starred in one of the most beloved New England commercials of all time, a 1969 spot for Prince Spaghetti. He died this week at the age of 63.

This Week in History

Ray Bradbury Born (August 22, 1920)

Bradbury is one of my favorite writers, and it’s great to see that he wrote several stories for the Post, including the short story that became the basis for the classic 1953 film The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.

Here’s an interview the Post did with Bradbury in 2009, and here’s a terrific piece about Bradbury’s lifelong love of comic books, featuring a great picture of a young Bradbury with comedian George Burns.

To celebrate Bradbury’s 100th, Hard Case Crime has released a new collection of Bradbury’s crime stories, Killer, Come Back To Me.

The March on Washington (August 28, 1963)

Tens of thousands of people (hopefully wearing masks) will be in Washington, D.C. today to commemorate the day Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Postcards (August 25, 1951)

Couple buying postcards and souvenirs
Stevan Dohanos
August 25, 1951

I got a postcard from a friend this week. It’s always great to get a surprise in the mail that isn’t a bill or an ad. I don’t know how many people still send postcards — and this summer there’s a good chance you didn’t stray far from your backyard — but I hope people still send them, or letters. Hey, maybe you can even help save the post office.

Toasted Marshmallow Day

I have a confession to make: I’ve only had a toasted marshmallow once in my life. Okay, that’s not so much a confession as it is a really uninteresting factoid, but I thought I’d mention it. It must have been 40 years ago, and it wasn’t while I was in the Boy Scouts or on a camping trip because I was never in the Boy Scouts and I’ve only gone camping once. I toasted it on the stovetop flame to see what it was like. Not really a fan. Too messy, too toasty. But I’ll have marshmallows in hot chocolate or on top of yams. Did you know that the yams many supermarkets sell are actually sweet potatoes?

Sorry, I got distracted. What was I saying again? Oh yeah, Sunday is Toasted Marshmallow Day. If you’ve never done it, you can do it over an open fire or in your oven, if you don’t want to go to all the trouble of camping.

And if you’re wondering, yes, Ben & Jerry’s does make an ice cream that includes toasted marshmallow. In fact, they have two: Gimme S’More! and S’Mores. The former has toasted marshmallow ice cream with chocolate cookie swirls, graham cracker swirls, and fudge flakes. The latter is chocolate ice cream with fudge chunks, toasted marshmallow, and graham cracker swirls.

I assume that at some point there will be room for only one s’mores-related Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and the other one will end up with flowers and a headstone.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Record Store Day (August 29)

Because of the pandemic, this day — usually in April — will be celebrated on three days this year: August 29, September 26, and October 24.

U.S. Open Begins (August 31)

There won’t be any fans in the stands, but ESPN and ESPN2 will have all-day coverage starting at 11 a.m. Tennis Channel will have highlights and commentary every morning.

Featured image: Billion Photos / Shutterstock

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  1. I really enjoy Jim Gaffigan’s videos in general, but his pandemic-with-the-kids chronicles really ARE something else. 5 children. I have all I can do to handle just one with 4 legs! Been subscribed to his YouTube channel for awhile. Watched the one about Disney World—in the heat. I’ve asked different friends if they could see me as a Dad and the replies are generally variations of “frankly, no!” with children, but “wonderful” with a dog.

    All levity aside, helpless kids coming down with this virus is really upsetting. Not so much for “partying” college students calling it a “hoax” with over 180,000 deaths and counting, spreading it to innocent people. If it could be contained JUST to the frat rats and the other stupid participants, than it’s no loss. It is what it is.

    I watched the trailer for “The Batman” and it was more than enough, Bob. I’ll have to think about thanking you. I definitely am for including the link about KFC’s suspending their ‘Finger Lickin’ Good’ slogan for well, who only knows how long?! Your hands should be clean before eating so that you could. I always took it to mean that it’s so good you might want to lick a finger or two, if you so wanted.

    Other people licking their fingers is something I hadn’t thought of before. I can picture the President licking HIS fingers in the middle of consuming 8 drumsticks saying: “The Colonel’s chicken is fantastic. I think America’s chicken is very, very delicious. The taste of these KFC drumsticks has me licking my fingers. I could lick my fingers for a long time with these wonderful Kentucky Fried Chicken drumsticks, for a very, very long time.”

    Leave it to Ben & Jerry to come up with such an idea. Could it be a marketing ploy though to see which flavor might be popular enough to resurrect at some point in the future, or just some name brand attention? Record store day(s) sound great. I’d like to get ‘Full Circle’ by the Doors. Although yams aren’t to my liking, s’mores are. May I toast a couple of marshmallows over my stove top’s flame, dip them in chocolate, and THEN put them between two graham crackers if I’m really careful?


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