News of the Week: Dog Days, Astronaut Emmys, and Sneaking Zucchini onto Your Neighbor’s Porch

In the news for the week ending August 7, 2020, are dog stars, tropical storms, space videos, zucchini, Neil Diamond in the Age of COVID, and more.

Dog with sunglasses and martini sitting comfortably in a soft chair
(Javier Brosch / Shutterstock)

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This Week in Social Distancing

So here we are in August, the “dog days of summer.” I always thought (and I bet you did too) that the phrase referred to how hot and oppressive August can be, a month when even dogs just lay around panting and tired and miserable. But it actually has to do with Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, sometimes called “The Dog Star.”

This is the part where Paul Harvey would say, “And now you know … the rest of the story.”

But we always take phrases and words and change them, or at the very least extend what they mean, and some things have more than one meaning. You wouldn’t be wrong thinking that “dog days of summer” can also refer to the heat and humidity of August. That certainly has always been part of it.

It was certainly part of it here in Massachusetts the past two weeks. It has been so sweltering and sticky I’ve had trouble sleeping. But last night we were visited by Tropical Storm Isaias. We didn’t get a lot of rain here on the coast, but we did get a lot of wind, which whipped through my door and was so refreshing it almost made me cry. For one night it felt like October here. But today we’re back to sweltering and sticky, just to remind us that summer isn’t quite over yet.

Some social distancing notes for the week:

Rafael Nadal has announced he’s not playing the U.S. Open this year, citing safety and travel concerns. He’ll be playing the French Open though, which takes place in September this year. I’m wondering how many North American players will enter the clay tournament, if they want to travel over there or even if they can travel over there.

Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! have announced that they’re going to go back into production this week, with all of the appropriate safety measures, of course. The Wheel of Fortune precautions include a redesigned wheel that ensures proper social distancing between the contestants. The Jeopardy! changes include more space between the contestants at their podiums. I also assume the interviews that Alex Trebek conducts will now be done from his lectern.

The remake of Mulan was supposed to be one of the big movie hits this year, but then all of the theaters closed. Disney announced that it will instead debut on Disney+ on September 4 (and will cost $30).

Even the witches and goblins of Salem will have to practice social distancing this year.

Still looking for Clorox Wipes? Sorry! Try again next year.

Apollo 11 Astronauts Receive Emmy Nominations (?)

That seems like an odd headline, since Apollo 11 took place 51 years ago, but astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins received Emmy nominations for their cinematography work during the historic mission to the moon. The footage was used in the CNN documentary Apollo 11.

The 72nd Emmy Awards will air on ABC on September 20, but like everything these days, it’s going virtual.

The CBS Eye

George Schweitzer is not only the chairman of marketing at CBS, he could also be the network’s lead historian. Lee Cowan of CBS Sunday Morning interviewed him this week about the history of the network, including that famous eye logo, which turns 70 next year.

I’m really jealous of all of the CBS memorabilia Schweitzer has. CBS toast!

George Schweitzer: Celebrating a Career Celebrating CBS (Uploaded to YouTube by CBS Sunday Morning)

Headline of the Week

“Irish Pub Bans Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline’ From Venue Amid Coronavirus Fears”

RIP Wilford Brimley, Alan Parker, Pete Hamill, Reni Santoni, and Sonia Darrin

Wilford Brimley had roles in such films as Cocoon, The Natural, The Firm, The Electric Horseman, and The Thing, as well as TV shows like The Waltons, Our House, and Seinfeld. He also starred in a long-running series of commercials for Quaker Oats. He died Saturday at the age of 85.

Alan Parker directed a variety of films over a long career, including Fame, Mississippi Burning, Midnight Express, Bugsy Malone, Evita, and Pink Floyd: The Wall. He started out in advertising and directed several commercials in the ’60s and ’70s. He died last week at the age of 76.

For 60 years, Pete Hamill was the definitive New York City journalist and author. He was a columnist for both the New York Daily News and the New York Post and had stints as an editor at both papers as well. He wrote for Newsday, Esquire, The Village Voice and also penned 20 books, including novels, collections of essays and short stories, and memoirs. He died Wednesday at the age of 85.

Hamill was a correspondent for the Saturday Evening Post and wrote several pieces, including this 1964 profile of Sean Connery (PDF).

Reni Santoni had roles in a lot of movies over the years, including Dirty Harry, Enter Laughing, Guns of the Magnificent Seven, and I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, but is probably best known to audiences as Poppie, the restaurant owner with the personal hygiene problems on several episodes of Seinfeld. He also had regular roles in such TV shows as Manimal, Sanchez of Bel Air, Murder One, and Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law. He died Saturday at the age of 82.

Sonia Darrin didn’t have a long movie career, but she had a memorable role playing the bookstore clerk who is also the gangster’s girlfriend in the classic noir The Big Sleep. She also had roles in Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman and other films. She died last month at the age of 96.

Darrin was also the mother of this kid you might remember from dozens of commercials in the ’70s.

This Week in History

Francis Scott Key Born (August 1, 1779)

We know him as the man who wrote the lyrics for “The Star-Spangled Banner,” originally as a poem titled “Defence of Fort M’Henry,” but he was also a successful lawyer and author. F. Scott Fitzgerald was named after Key, who was a distant cousin.

American Bandstand Goes National (August 5, 1957)

The popular teen music and dance show started as Bandstand on local Philadelphia station WFIL-TV in 1952 and had three other hosts before Dick Clark took over in 1956. It went national on ABC the following year.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: School of Fish Among Lines (August 7, 1954)

School of Fish Among Lines (SEPS)

I’ve gone fishing exactly one time in my life. When I was a kid, my brother-in-law took me. Great lake, very scenic and relaxing, and I caught a big snapping turtle. Or should I say he caught me.

This cover is by Thornton Utz.


It’s not Zucchini Day or Zucchini Month, but I’m including some zucchini recipes for reasons that will become clear in about 90 seconds.

To go with that cover above, here’s a recipe for Baked Fish with Zucchini from Food Network. How about this Cheese Zucchini Casserole from The Saturday Evening Post Fiber & Bran Better Health Cookbook? For a light summer dish, try this Sole, Zucchini, and Tomato Napoleon with Tomato-Caper Crudo. And if you’re looking for something a little sweeter, try this Chocolate Zucchini Bread.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day (August 8)

I know I mention this holiday almost every year, but just look at the name!

International Left Handers Day (August 13)

If you’re left handed, today’s your day.

There isn’t a Right Handers Day, but then again, maybe that’s every other day of the year.

Featured image: (Javier Brosch / Shutterstock)

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  1. God I love that opening picture shot, which took SOME doing! In the case of you and only you, congratulations on YOUR tropical storm visit the other night, Bob! A brief and wonderful taste of autumn rushing through your home. It’s been cool-er the last few days out here, but humid. You’ll have to keep those shorts handy, we’re only half way through the summer. For me, that could run into November. Just be glad you’re not a school-age kid facing school or remote learning at home to avoid Covid. What a dilemma we’ve got here in the U.S. Good grief!

    I saw the story about the Clorox wipes. Like Lysol (or any generics), I still wouldn’t count on finding them for quite a while. Interesting feature on George Schweitzer and the CBS eye. Thanks for the link on Pete Hamill here, and the Sean Connery Post feature. And for the one on Mason Reese. I DO remember him quite well—-but not on the Mike Douglas Show with Eva Gabor. I have to see that!

    Bob, I hope you don’t have people going nuts over having to wear the mask at your grocery store. Since we can’t say anything, I’d just steer clear and hope they get arrested and fined later. Oddly enough I haven’t encountered that, and want to keep it that way. I wonder how many any ‘white trash bash’ parties (and variations) there are going to be THIS weekend to keep spreading the virus?!


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