News of the Week: Seasonal Sounds, How to Leave a Zoom Meeting, and TV Might Be Rotting Your Brain

In the news for the week ending September 4, 2020, are changing music, falling satellites, long Zoom meetings, slow honey, and much more.

Father watching TV with his daughter's date.
Date with Television by John Falter, published on the April 21, 1956 cover of The Saturday Evening Post. (John Falter / SEPS)

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September, Finally

Rock ’n’ roll is dead.

I don’t mean that as an all-encompassing cultural statement. I mean it as a temporary personal one.

I’m a little eccentric (the word a person uses when they don’t want you to know how weird they are) when it comes to the various seasons and music. I only listen to certain types of music during certain seasons. For example, summer is for rock and fall and winter are for standards. (I’ve never given much thought to spring, I guess it’s a middle ground.)

I never understood why this was the case for me. I used to believe it was because it was a throwback to my younger days. Summer was the time for warm nights, hanging out, and having a good time, and rock music was the soundtrack. And maybe that’s part of it, but I figured out something several years ago. This isn’t just an organic, natural thing; it’s something I plan.

Summer is my least favorite season. Regular readers of this column know I hate everything about it: the humidity, the laziness of people, that fact that I can’t wear long pants and have to deal with bugs. In late May I’m already actively counting the weeks until Labor Day, when I can have hot tea again, put away my fan, and wear flannel. And since my favorite type of music is standards, people like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Jeri Southern, and Nat King Cole, I don’t want to — and bear with me here — “soil” that music by playing it during my least favorite season, summer.

Wow, I am weird. I mean eccentric!

I don’t even know if this makes sense, but it’s what I do. Let me ask you: Do you do this too? Do you have a quirky tradition that makes sense to you even if it doesn’t make sense to others?

Down to Earth

NASA’s OGO 1 satellite was launched in 1964 and spent 56 years studying the Earth’s magnetosphere. (OGO stands for “Orbiting Geophysical Observatory.”) It burned up in the atmosphere this week. Here’s video of the reentry taken in Tahiti.

Who’s Zoomin’ Who?

Miss Manners is one of my favorite daily reads. Judith Martin and her children dispense commonsense solutions to various problems involving etiquette and communication that people need help with. The other day someone wrote in asking how one leaves a Zoom meeting that has gone on longer than anyone thought (and they know you have no place else to go). The LW (that’s “letter writer” in the world of Miss Manners) doesn’t specify whether this was a work meeting or just a meeting of friends. I think that distinction matters.

If you don’t want to chance leaving your virtual meeting early, you could always try putting up a cardboard picture of yourself.

Poem of the Week

Have you seen the new Samsung commercial? A link would usually go right about here, but the ad is so new it’s not even online yet. It talks about the dangers of kids watching too much television while, well, plugging Samsung products. The poem that the narrator recites is called “Television” and was written by Roald Dahl, creator of Willy Wonka and other classic children’s characters. It starts out like this:

The most important thing we’ve learned
So far as children are concerned
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set
Or better still, just don’t install
The idiotic thing at all

You can read the whole thing here. As someone who has watched five hours of television every day since 1970, I disagree with this poem. Then again, the way I listen to music, maybe I’m the best evidence that Dahl was right.

RIP Chadwick Boseman, Tom Seaver, Cliff Robinson, Alice Koller, Angela Buxton, and Santa A. Claus

Chadwick Boseman starred in the massively popular Marvel film Black Panther, 42, Get On Up, and The Express: The Ernie Davis Story, as well as TV shows like Persons Unknown, Lincoln Heights, Justified, and ER. He died last week at the age of 43.

Tom Seaver pitched in the Major Leagues for 20 years. A 12-time All-Star who won 311 games, 3 Cy Young Awards, and struck out 3,640 batters, he had a lifetime ERA of 2.86, was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1967, and helped the “Miracle Mets” win their first World Series in 1969. He later played with the Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox, and Boston Red Sox. He died Monday at the age of 75.

Cliff Robinson was an All-Star basketball player who played for the Portland Trail Blazers and several other teams. He also appeared as a contestant on Survivor. He died Saturday at the age of 53.

Alice Koller wrote books on the solitary life, including the influential An Unknown Woman. She died in July at the age of 94.

Angela Buxton was a groundbreaking Jewish tennis star who created controversy when she teamed with Black tennis star Althea Gibson for doubles. In 1956 they won both the French Open and Wimbledon. She died last month at the age of 85.

J. Patrick Allen won a long court battle to legally change his name to Santa A. Claus. He was the first person to play Santa at the Mall of America and also played him in TV commercials and public appearances for 50 years. He died last week at the age of 80.

By the way, his official time of death is listed as 12:25, as in Christmas Day.

This Week in History

Hitler Invades Poland (September 1, 1939)

The early morning invasion was the catalyst for World War II.

The Edsel Introduced (September 4, 1957)

Here’s a 1957 Post piece about how the Edsel was “a disaster waiting to happen.” And here’s an old TV ad about how driving a 1958 Edsel is “as easy as flicking a light switch”:

Uploaded to YouTube by MediaReborn

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Butch Weighs In (September 1, 1945)

Dog on a weight scale
Butch Weighs In
Albert Staehle
September 1, 1945

I think a lot of us have gained some weight in the past six months.

September Is National Honey Month

I never make anything that has honey as an ingredient. Nothing against honey, I love it, but it just occurred to me that I don’t have recipes I regularly make that include honey. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make something, like these Honey Lemon Thyme Cornish Game Hens, this Fig and Lavender Honey Yogurt Pie, or some Honey Almond Biscotti. If you’re like me and you’re switching to hot tea or other hot beverages this weekend, try this simple recipe for Tea with Honey.

I used to cry every single time this song came on the radio when I was a kid. I’d listen to it right now but I’m afraid it might happen again.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Kentucky Derby (September 5)

There won’t be any humans at Churchill Downs watching the 146th running (except for the ones riding the horses). It airs at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

Labor Day (September 7)

This holiday always falls on a Monday, so September 7 is the latest date that it can be observed. You can celebrate the day by buying a mattress or a new car.

Featured image: Date with Television by John Falter, published on the April 21, 1956 cover of The Saturday Evening Post. (John Falter / SEPS)

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  1. Rock ‘n’ roll IS dead, and has been for the past 30+ years now. 1955-’88 was a good run. The hour glass still had a little sand left in it in the ’90s, to be fair—in the all-encompassing cultural sense. Its passage is the least of our problems. It was a 20th century thing, but a few of those groups are keeping it alive in the 21st. I was planning to see ELO (great as ever) again last June back in January, but had to have my money refunded due to the situation.

    You’re not weird/eccentric for compartmentalizing your music tastes, Bob. Your brain has it ‘organized’ for you in that way which seems to be working just fine. It’s kind of the same year-round for myself, but with the addition of the various classic artists you mentioned during the Holidays. This December, you could add that ‘News’ link on Dean Martin from 2018. It’s a bona fide classic. The song AND the column!

    It was 115 a couple of hours ago, and 119 high for Sunday. I hate summer too, but unlike yourself know I still have at least two and half months of it left, plus more fires. Fires burning now! Winter heat too. Getting my flu shot this week. I wouldn’t trust any C-19 vaccine out by November 1st. This Labor Day weekend (I predict) will be the biggest mother of them all as a C-19 spreader. Almost 190,000 deaths now, and college students will still party hardy. “It’s a hoax!” “I’m YOUNG. It won’t happen to ME!” “I don’t care if I kill other people!” 300,000 by year’s end seems too conservative, unfortunately.

    No mention of the jet-pack guy flying as high as a jet plane earlier this week? I knew it HAD to be in L.A. even before I got the details. Been wanting to go for a jet-pack ride since I was a little kid to feel like I’m flying. The nation’s tallest buildings would be a high enough high, however.

    Thanks for the television poem and the link. I read the whole thing, brilliant! My desktop computer has almost completely replaced the TV anyway. I’m sure he’d have a poem for that if he was still around. The irony of it is when he wrote it, television was WAY better. Less quantity, more quality.

    Thanks for running the ’57 Edsel commercial and the Post feature. I enjoyed re-reading it. Thanks for the ‘Butch’ Post cover. Such a great intermittent cover series in the Forties. Just a note to Butch though: your weight’s fine!


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