News of the Week: Christmas Memories, TV Reboots, and Have You Ever Had Slumgullion?

In the news for the week ending on Christmas Day 2020 are words of the year, old TV shows returning, the Twilight Zone, an ax-wielding dog, and more.

Winter landscape
S-BELOV / Shutterstock

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The Twinge

I’m not sure when you’re reading this, but if it’s Christmas morning, I hope you have a great day. If it’s late on Christmas night, I hope your day was merry and bright. If you’re reading this four days after Christmas, you should probably throw away those leftovers that are still in the fridge.

This is a different Christmas, of course, as the pandemic has kept us at home and in our bubbles. We miss our families and our friends and our coworkers, and it seems weird to just stay home with our immediate family and communicate with others via the phone, Zoom calls, email, and Facebook. We miss all those things not because we always do them and we want to actually look at and touch the people we love, but because of nostalgia.

As Mad Men’s Don Draper once explained, “Nostalgia, it’s delicate but potent … in Greek, nostalgia literally means ‘the pain from an old wound.’ It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone.” Though Draper’s etymology was a little off, I still think nostalgia is the reason so many of us are having a hard time being away from everyone (and why hundreds of thousands won’t heed the warnings and will travel anyway). If nostalgia is powerful at other times of the year, can you imagine how powerful that twinge is during Christmas, when our childhood memories consume us, a carol takes us back to a certain time in our lives, when the smells of Christmas and winter surround us?

It’s tedious and makes us uneasy, all of this social distancing and change, but I say embrace the tedium of this year. Lean into it. It’s one year. You can still keep in touch, and you can look forward to next year, when you can get together with the people you couldn’t get together with this year and say, “Wasn’t that weird what we went through in 2020?”

Blursday Quarantinis

This New York Times list of the words that defined 2020 is pretty thorough, but I found one glaring omission: contactless.

Everything Old Is New Again

There are currently 70,000 TV shows to watch on 800 different broadcast, cable, and streaming channels (and only 10,000 of those shows are superhero or Star Wars related). There’s something for everyone. Lots of original “content” for you to binge or to watch like a normal person. But what if you want to watch something you’re already familiar with?

You’re in luck! TV loves remaking and redoing and rebooting older shows, and we have several of those coming too. Kelly Ripa and husband Mark Consuelos are producing a primetime sequel to All My Children titled Pine Valley. John Larroquette is bringing back his Dan Fielding character from Night Court for a spinoff show on NBC. If that weren’t enough throwback news for you, there’s also a new version of Little House on the Prairie coming next year.

Mom Got a Robe!

From Saturday Night Live:

Uploaded to YouTube by Saturday Night Live

Headline of the Week

“Kentucky Mail Carrier Encounters Ax-Wielding Dog on His Route”

RIP Jeremy Bulloch, Peter Lamont, Chad Stuart, Barbara Windsor, Catie Lazarus, Henry Haller, David Giler, and Doug Crane

Jeremy Bulloch was the original Boba Fett in The Empire Strikes Back and played other roles in other films in the series. He also appeared on many TV shows, including Doctor Who and The Newcomers, and played Smithers in three James Bond films. He died last week at the age of 75.

Peter Lamont was the production or art designer on 18 James Bond films, from Goldfinger to Casino Royale, and the only reason he didn’t work on 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies is because he was working on Titanic. He also worked on Aliens, Fiddler on the Roof, True Lies, Sleuth, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. He died last week at the age of 91.

Chad Stuart was one half of the popular British music duo Chad & Jeremy, who had several hits in the ’60s, including “A Summer Song” and “Yesterday’s Gone.” He died recently at the age of 79.

Barbara Windsor appeared on the British soap EastEnders for many years and in nine of the Carry On films. She also had roles in A Study in Terror and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. She died last week at the age of 83.

Catie Lazarus created and hosted the popular Employee of the Month live and podcast interview show. She died last week at the age of 44.

Henry Haller was the chef for five presidents: LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan. He died last month at the age of 97.

David Giler not only produced the Alien films, but he also came up with the story for the second movie in the series, Aliens. He also wrote or co-wrote The Parallax View, Myra Breckenridge, Beverly Hills Cop II, and Fun with Dick and Jane. He died last Saturday at the age of 77.

Doug Crane was an animator for films like Beavis and Butt-Head Do America and Heavy Metal, TV shows like Spider-Man, Super Friends, and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and won several awards for his work with Paramount, MTV, and Terrytoons. He died last week at the age of 85.

Cartoon Brew posted some of Crane’s work on their Twitter account.

This Week in History

“A Visit from St. Nicholas” First Published (December 23, 1823)

The Christmas poem was originally published anonymously but was attributed to C. Clement Moore in 1837, though some people think someone else wrote it.

Clara Barton Born (December 25, 1821)

The nurse/patent office clerk started the Red Cross, which was originally an effort to help those wounded in war, but it grew into a global humanitarian organization.

By the way, 1821 just happens to be the same year the very first Saturday Evening Post was published. If you subscribe, you can read two hundred years’ worth of issues.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Tree Love (December 23, 1950)

A man with a Christmas tree in his arms stands in shock as his wife puts up a tree she bought earlier.
Tree Love
Constantin Alajálov
December 23, 1950

I’ve always loved this Constantin Alájalov cover, but I’m also confused by it. So the husband didn’t know that his wife had already bought a tree? They really need to communicate better over breakfast. And why is she already decorating the tree? She didn’t want to wait for him so they could decorate it together?

Or maybe this guy is in the wrong apartment. That would explain the shocked look on the woman’s face.


I go through periods where I’m obsessed with fake food from TV shows. These are food products/meals from TV shows that don’t actually exist in real life, such as the Cheesy Blasters from 30 Rock or the Avocado and Peanut Butter Dip from The Dick Van Dyke Show. Of course, even a fake food product from a TV show can become real when someone decides to make it years later.

I found one that actually does exist, though. The other night I was watching a Christmas movie that has grown on me over the years, 1947’s It Happened on 5th Avenue, and one of the dinners that the cook makes is “slumgullion.” This sounded like an odd name for a real thing, but it is indeed a real thing. It is described in the movie as an Irish stew, and it was originally a cheap stew made with whatever you had available. But many of the recipes I’ve found online are more of a beef stew that has macaroni and tomatoes in it. One of the recipes even compares it to Beefaroni, but that’s far from the classic dish seen in the movie. The site I’m Annette loves the film too and came up with a recipe that seems more authentic, with potatoes and vegetables.

It’s funny, but another holiday film, Christmas in Connecticut, also has a scene where the cook serves Irish stew (which another cook tries to turn into goulash by adding paprika). It seems everyone was eating stew in 1940s Christmas movies.

All the recipes sound good, though, and if you make one of them, let me know how it is. And Merry Christmas.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Boxing Day (December 26)

This holiday started in the UK as a day to give gifts to the poor, but it’s more a general shopping day now.

New Year’s Eve (December 31)

I’m one of those people who believe that you should always stay in on New Year’s Eve — it’s too crowded, too cold, too exhausting — but if there’s any year you should definitely stay in, 2020 is that year.

There’s plenty to watch on TV, though. Both Syfy and Decades TV will have Twilight Zone marathons. SyFy’s starts at 6 a.m. and Decades TV’s starts at 7 a.m. BBC America’s Doctor Who marathon started on Christmas Day, while Comedy Central’s South Park marathon starts on December 28 (both run through New Year’s Day). For you football fans, ESPN has the Texas Bowl — the Arkansas Razorbacks vs. the TCU Horned Frogs — at 8 p.m.

And if you want to watch the ball drop at midnight (I imagine Times Square will be mostly empty), ABC has Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve starting at 8 p.m.

Featured image: S-BELOV / Shutterstock

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  1. I totally skipped out on that beautiful Alajalov Christmas cover, going straight to the bottom. Anyway I think your 2nd guess is probably accurate. The woman may have had the door closed (not latched) or ajar, and the top of the tree accidentally opened it surprising both for that reason PLUS it was the wrong apartment as well. Yeah, that’s it.

  2. Actually, I’ve gotten used to staying at home (which took a long time) but is fine. If you don’t have to drive or go anywhere, don’t. The hospitals (at least in California) are filled to capacity and beyond with Covid patients from the Thanksgiving surge. Look for things to be even more out of control in January on all fronts.

    ‘Contactless’ is a glaring omission. So is ‘super-spreader’. ‘Blursday’ is a great word. Today’s Friday right? Christmas Day? Yes/no? Does it even matter? Canine, feline, Jekyl and Hyde, wear your fake fur on the inside.

    I’ll have to check out the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ and ‘All My Children’ revivals. Hopefully Susan Lucci will figure into their plans. I used to tape it and fast forward to her scenes of mischievous deeds after work.

    Speaking of fast forwarding, maybe I should do that with SNL again per this amazing, brilliant video, Bob. It is representative of the funny, clever comedy that was the show’s hallmark into the early 90’s also showing the current cast CAN be funny too if given the right material! Hulu has it out front and center for me to watch. I suppose I could still do a quick run through, to look for something good. Was this from last Saturday’s episode?

    So I’ve gotten through the Holidays without any (or potential) embarrassing stuff from my “mother-in-law” coming up in front of everyone at either gathering, because there weren’t any. Oh! You can read my comments on the ‘Super Soaker’ in Troy’s new ‘Greatest Toys since 1900, Part III: 1979-Now’ feature. Give her a little blast of water to extinguish that cigarette. Just kidding. I’d never do that, but CAN think it and smile.

    ABC is still calling that train wreck ‘Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve’ when the intended audience has NO idea who he even is/was? Shouldn’t it be ‘Ryan Seacrest’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve’ at this late date. Are they inferring Ryan isn’t able to fill Dick’s shoes? I mean with today’s pool of ‘musical talent’ I think he fills them just fine under the circumstances.


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