News of the Week: Hello Asteroid, Goodbye Tab, and Five Things to Do with a Pumpkin (Besides Carve It)

In the news for the week ending October 23, 2020, are a hurtling rock, a diet cola, some free lyrics, an adorable skeleton, and much more.

Lit Jack-O'-Lanterns grinning in the dark
Alexander Raths / Shutterstock

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Asteroid Could Strike Earth the Day Before Election!

The way 2020 is going, I’m sure a lot of people right now are thinking, FINE, LET IT COME.

But if you’re not one of those people, you’re in luck! While the 6.5-foot-long rock — with the catchy name of Asteroid 2018VP1 — will come close to our planet on November 2, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson says it won’t actually strike us, so you’re safe to cast your ballot the following day.

I was going to make a joke centering on the idea that maybe this is the reason so many people are voting early, but then I realized that if an asteroid hits it wouldn’t matter anyway and the joke is dumb. So I won’t even mention it.

The Beautiful Drink for Beautiful People

In a world of Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi and fancy bottled waters and fruit drinks, can a diet drink first introduced in 1963 survive? Apparently not.

Coca-Cola is discontinuing Tab after almost 60 years. While it was once immensely popular, sales have really slipped the past several years, and it went from being a mainstream brand that many diet cola drinkers drank to more of a product for devoted fans.

This may shock some people who thought Tab had died years ago, a victim of competition or the saccharin scare, but it has always been around.

Tab will be available until the end of the year, so stock up now!

Uploaded to YouTube by Bionic Disco

Free Words

If you’re a fan of Tom Lehrer or even fancied yourself as the next Tom Lehrer, you’re in luck. The satirical singer/songwriter has made the lyrics to many of his songs available for you to download and use for free, without having to worry about copyright or paying royalties (it’s just the lyrics for now — the music is coming later).

You have until December 31, 2024, when the site will be shut down forever.

Theo and the Skeleton

A great story from CBS’s Steve Hartman about a boy and his buddy … a skeleton. This could be the next Pixar hit.

Uploaded to YouTube by CBS Evening News

Not Sorry, Reese’s

Look, I’m a big fan of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, but I don’t get how they’re allowed to have three of the top ten spots on this list, just because each one is a slight variation of the original “cup.” Is that even legal?

No Heath Bar? No Almond Joy or Mounds? At least candy corn didn’t make the list. Candy corn is the candy they serve in hell, along with those weird orange marshmallow circus peanuts.

Good Grief

Speaking of peanuts, some news about Peanuts.

I was looking at the TV schedule to see when It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown was going to be on. I couldn’t find it. This seemed odd to me so I did a little research and found out the Peanuts specials are now going to be seen exclusively on the Apple+ streaming service.

This is…sad. Sure, nonsubscribers will be able to see It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown for free from October 30 to November 1, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving November 25-27, and A Charlie Brown Christmas December 11-13, but that’s not good enough. Maybe I’m just feeling nostalgic, but it’s a shame these won’t be seen on CBS and ABC the way they have been since the days when Tab was really popular.

Sometimes I hate change.

RIP Rhonda Fleming, The Amazing Randi, Spencer Davis, Sid Hartman, Bert Quint, John Russell, Tony Lewis, and Gerald Gardner

Rhonda Fleming starred in several classic movies, including Out of the Past, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, The Spiral Staircase, Cry Danger, While the City Sleeps, The Crowded Sky, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, as well as many TV shows. She died last week at the age of 97.

The Amazing Randi — real name James Randi — was amazing in two different ways. He was a terrific magician and escape artist and also spent his life investigating and exposing phony psychics and spiritual frauds. He appeared on many TV shows as well, including his own show and countless documentaries, and was one of Johnny Carson’s favorite Tonight Show guests. He died Tuesday at the age of 92.

Spencer Davis was the leader of the Spencer Davis Group, known for such songs as “Gimme Some Lovin’,” “Keep on Running,” and “I’m a Man.” He died Monday at the age of 81.

Sid Hartman was a legendary Minneapolis sports columnist from 1944 until his final column last Sunday. He started at the Minneapolis Times and then went to the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 1948. He died on the day his last column ran at the age of 100.

Bert Quint was a CBS News foreign correspondent for 30 years. He died last week at the age of 90.

John Russell was the oldest living Olympic medalist. He won a bronze medal at the 1952 Helsinki games as a member of the U.S. equestrian team. He died last month at the age of 100.

Tony Lewis was the lead singer of the band The Outfield, known for such songs as “Your Love,” “Say It Isn’t So,” and “Since You’ve Been Gone.” He died Monday at the age of 62.

Gerald Gardner wrote for such shows as Get Smart, The Monkees, and That Was the Week That Was, as well as the movie The World’s Greatest Athlete. He also wrote (with Frank Johnson doing the drawings) the Miss Caroline comic strip, which focused on a young Caroline Kennedy in the White House. He also did the Who’s In Charge Here? books that put funny thought balloons into political photos. He died last week at the age of 91.

This Week in History

Moby-Dick Published (October 18, 1851)

The official title of Herman Melville’s classic novel is Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, but you’re never going to say or write it that way.

BBC Founded (October 18, 1922)

The original name of the British Broadcasting Corporation was the British Broadcasting Company, which isn’t that much of a change but I thought it was interesting enough to mention. It’s the world’s oldest broadcaster.

This Week in The Country Gentleman History: “Halloween Fiddler” (October 22, 1921)

Elder man playing a violin on his porch next to a lit Jack-O'-Lantern
The Country Gentleman, Norman Rockwell, October 22, 1921

Something a little different this week. This is a Norman Rockwell cover from our sister publication, The Country Gentleman, one of 36 covers he did for the magazine.

Pumpkins, Pumpkins Everywhere

I went to the supermarket the other day and was greeted by a bunch of pumpkins near the front doors. It was more than a bunch really, dozens and dozens placed around the entrance, but I’m not sure what you call a large number of pumpkins. A herd? A flock? A litter? Anyway, there were a lot of them.

This is pumpkin season, so how about making a Roasted Pumpkin Salad from Chef Aaron Wright or a Homemade Fresh Pumpkin Pie from AllRecipes? How about this Roasted Pumpkin Soup from Martha Stewart or this Pumpkin and Pecorino Gratin, also from Martha? If you want to go all out and create a great centerpiece, try this Whole Stuffed Roasted Pumpkin from Cooking Light. It’s filled with sausage, mushrooms, potatoes, and peas.

If you do make any of these recipes, remember to reassure your kids that you didn’t use the Great Pumpkin.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Mother-in-Law Day (October 25)

This is not the day for mother-in-law jokes. (Okay, maybe a few.)

Navy Day (October 27)

The Navy’s official birthday was celebrated on October 13, the day it was formed as the Continental Navy during the American Revolution. Navy Day started in 1922 and coincides with the birthday of Navy fan President Theodore Roosevelt.

Featured image: Alexander Raths / Shutterstock

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  1. Bob M, I wish I could have you as my son-in-law, believe me. My daughter and I are both dog people and I’m sorry Helen doesn’t appreciate you! We love your comments and you’d be welcome in our home. We’ve read in the past about her antics before, rolling our eyes, and you’re a darn good sport! Stay well in this corona madness, and keep writing to the Post.

  2. Incredible opening pumpkin shot, Bob. The U.S. is going to be hit with other horrors in the days ahead thanks to our wickedly inhumane government. We’ve got a couple of interesting presidential interviews coming up on Sunday’s ’60 Minutes’. Hopefully Lesley Stahl won’t need bodyguards protecting HER like Dr. Fauci and his wife unfortunately now do.

    I’m surprised the Coca-Cola Company didn’t drop Tab years ago. It’s BEEN years since I’ve seen it anywhere in Ca. in the stores, but I suppose its been available online? Never had any interest in looking. It was really ‘Diet Coke’ when the company came out with it in ’63, but didn’t want to taint Coke with “that name” but knew it would do well with the weight-conscious (mainly) female market.

    Watching the ’78 commercial below, I do declare the song is a fairly blatant rip-off of the Orleans song ‘Still the One’ from 2 years earlier. What do you think?

    I liked the CBS story about the 2 year old boy and his skeleton friend. It’s very endearing, and already shows his values and judgments definitely aren’t skin deep. Theo, you go boy!

    Rhonda Fleming was certainly a beautiful and talented movie star, in the truest meaning of the word. I just watched her in the ’56 color film-noir ‘Slightly Scarlet’ with Arlene Dahl a couple of weeks ago, for a Fifties fix.

    Nice Rockwell cover for The Country Gentleman lit up here. I’m just going to ignore Mother-In-Law Day on the 25th, since my girlfriend’s mom is not my mother-in-law. Helen has embarrassed me at various times and occasions (Thanksgiving & Christmas) and her daughter taking the “easy way out” being dog parents as a “phony substitute” for children!

    She finally stopped with the old 4th of July skinny dip bust last year, so this year would have been safe—I think. Because of COVID of course and NO Holiday get-togethers, we won’t know if she’s really buried that bone or dig it up again at a gathering in the obviously now distant future. Affectionately calling her “Mom” has also gotten me a face slap (by her) at one of those gatherings. That’s the kind of thanks I get, Bob. Absolutely disgraceful.


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