News of the Week: Dessert Confusion, Widespread Panic, and the Glorious Return of the Post

In the news for the week ending June 11, 2021, are Julia Child’s return (sort of), book recommendations, things to do with a cucumber, a chocolatey anniversary, and more.

Jell-o dessert on a dish
michelsabbagh / Shutterstock

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Random Thoughts

I often use these opening remarks, during the summer months anyway, to rail against the heat and humidity. But I’ve decided that this year I’m not going to complain anymore. I’m going to have a new outlook, one where I lean into June, July, and August and make the best of things.

If anyone wants to know the numbers on current mask usage, I’ve conducted an extensive scientific analysis (I looked around my supermarket on Tuesday morning) and I’d say that 60 percent of the people aren’t wearing masks anymore and 40 percent are. Many of the people not wearing masks are the delivery drivers who stock the shelves with potato chips, water, and soda. I have no idea what that means but I noticed it.

This commercial bugs me. The guy says “Pass the pudding, please.” But it’s not pudding! It’s JELL-O. Now, I understand that they probably couldn’t use that name because it’s a trademark, but couldn’t he have just said “pass the gelatin” or “pass the dessert?” Or maybe keep the line and show a bowl of actual pudding? Pudding is not JELL-O (though JELL-O does also make pudding).

(These are the things that keep me up at night.)

This is like a scene from every killer bug movie of the 1970s.

I’ve used my cellphone for a total of two minutes in the past year, and that was just a few days ago.

Vinyl is back, and this might be my favorite headline of the year so far.

Wow, it is so hot and humid right now I feel like I’m sitting on the surface of Mercury or deep in the Amazon jungle and oh I guess my new outlook didn’t last long.

Read This!

I’ve never understood the phrase “summer book” or “beach read.” I don’t look at books that way. To me they’re either good or bad, and I don’t consider a book a “summer book” just because it’s lighter in tone or topic. History books and science books can be read in the summer too!

Here are some new ones you might like.

Widespread Panic by James Ellroy. This isn’t part of Ellroy’s current series of books about L.A. crime, but it does take place in that world. It’s narrated from purgatory by Fred Otash, a real-life private eye who knew all of the secrets of ’40s and ’50s Hollywood.

Think Again by Adam Grant. The author wants everyone to reconsider their assumptions and opinions, and to “rethink their way to an open mind.”

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz. When one of his students dies, a has-been writer steals the manuscript for his brilliant novel, passes it off as his own, and becomes rich and famous. But then he gets an email from someone who seems to know what he did …

The Reason for the Darkness of the Night by John Tresch. The subtitle is “Edgar Allan Poe and the Forging of American Science,” and it explores a side of the American writer you might not know about.

This Country: My Life in Politics and History by Chris Matthews. If you’ve noticed the ex-NBC/MSNBC host making the rounds of the talk shows the past week, this memoir is why.

Dream Girl by Laura Lippman. The bestselling author’s new novel is about a hospitalized writer who is stalked by a phone caller who insists she is the “real” person behind the character in his new novel, a person that never existed. Is he dreaming? Is someone out to drive him crazy for some reason?

A Writer Prepares by Lawrence Block. Block is a terrific writer (of A Walk Among the Tombstones and a thousand other books), and this memoir about his early days also serves as a guide to how to be a writer.

Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth by Bryan Burrough, Chris Tomlinson, and Jason Stanford. You may think you know what happened at the Alamo, but you probably don’t know the whole story (though Post readers probably know more than most).

Julia Child: The TV Series

I mean another TV series, not one where she taught us how to cook.

The new HBO Max show, Julia, is a drama that takes place in the 1950s and ’60s. It’s currently filming in Massachusetts (where Child spent much of her life and taped her classic PBS cooking show The French Chef). It stars British actress Sarah Lancashire as Child and Frasier’s David Hyde Pierce as her husband Paul.

100 Years of See’s

Remember the episode of I Love Lucy where Lucy and Ethel work at a candy factory and the candy goes by on the conveyor belt quickly and they have to shove all the chocolates in their mouths? Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance trained for the episode at See’s Candies, the California candy company that is celebrating its 100th birthday this year with a special box of centennial chocolates.

50 Years Since the Return of the Post

If you missed it earlier this week, we have a look at the first issue of the Post after its two-year hiatus in 1969-70, which included a visit to Norman Rockwell’s home in Massachusetts.

Meme of the Week

Mine is Shampoo, which I guess means that I’m going to grow my hair back. What’s yours? (You can Google it or go to Wikipedia.)

RIP F. Lee Bailey, Clarence Williams III, Jim Fassel, David Dushman, Douglas S. Cramer, Erin O’Brien, and Jo Helton

F. Lee Bailey was the star defense attorney who represented everyone from Patty Hearst and The Boston Strangler to Dr. Sam Sheppard and O.J. Simpson. He died last week at the age of 87.

Clarence Williams III was probably best known for his role as Linc on The Mod Squad, but he also had roles in many memorable movies, including Purple Rain, Sugar Hill, 52 Pick-Up, Tales from the Hood, and Half-Baked. He also performed on stage and received a Tony nomination in 1965. He died last week at the age of 81.

Jim Fassel was head coach of the New York Giants from 1997 to 2003. He died this week at the age of 71.

David Dushman was the last surviving liberator of the Auschwitz concentration camp. He later became an expert fencer and fencing coach. He died Saturday at the age of 98.

Douglas S. Cramer produced many TV shows you’ve enjoyed, including The Love Boat, Dynasty, Peyton Place, Wonder Woman, Charlie’s Angels, Vega$, and Hart to Hart. He was also once the head of Paramount TV. He died Monday at the age of 89.

Erin O’Brien not only sang on The Tonight Show with Steve Allen and on shows with Frank Sinatra and Liberace, she starred in Onionhead with Andy Griffith, the pilot episode of 77 Sunset Strip, and the big-screen spy spoof In Like Flint. She died last month at the age of 87.

Jo Helton had an interesting life. In the ’60s you saw her in shows like Dr. Kildare, Peter Gunn, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and Gunsmoke, but then she pretty much quit the business to get a master’s degree so she could dedicate her life to social work. In the 2010s she went back to TV and movies here and there, including roles in Dumb and Dumber To and Mr. Mercedes. She died in March at the age of 87.

This Week in History

D-Day (June 6, 1944)

Of course, the Post covered D-Day in various ways, including an article on why D-Day was the century’s best-kept secret; a piece on Martha Gellhorn, the female war correspondent who “sneaked into D-Day”; and this essay on why D-Day still matters.

John Wayne Dies (June 11, 1979)

The iconic star of westerns was interviewed for the October 27, 1962, issue of the Post, and after his death he appeared on the cover of our July/August 1979 issue.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Entrance of the Graduates (June 7, 1958)

Entrance of the Graduates
George Hughes
June 7, 1958

If you’re wondering why there are no female graduates in this George Hughes cover, it’s because back then Williams College was an all-male college (though a few women did graduate here and there). The college fully accepted women starting in 1971.

Monday Is World Cucumber Day

How do you make cucumbers exciting? Well … you don’t. But they’re not supposed to be exciting, they’re supposed to be tasty.

Like in the yogurt sauce of Curtis Stone’s Grilled Chicken with Turmeric Spice Rub and Baby Greens or this Cucumber Salad from Food & Wine. If you’re going the sandwich route, Taste of Home has these Cucumber Party Sandwiches and these Chicken Cucumber Pitas. You can even make some Cucumber Ice Cream from the Diary of a Country Girl site.

By the way, since June 12 is World Gin Day, how about a cocktail that’s not only made with gin but a gin infused with cucumber? That would be Hendrick’s Gin, which you can use to make this Hendrick’s Rickey.

You have to give your age at that site, but if you’re reading the Post, I assume you’re old enough to drink.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

French Open Finals (June 12-13)

The women’s final airs Saturday at 9 a.m. ET on NBC, and then the men’s final airs Sunday at the same time and place.

Flag Day (June 14)

Think you know a lot about the American flag? Make yourself a Hendrick’s Rickey and take this quiz.

Featured image: michelsabbagh / Shutterstock

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  1. I was glad to read at the end of the first section that you’ll continue to complain about the weather. Misery does love company, especially with that. Summer is the pits, and we want to hear it all. It’s therapeutic too. You almost didn’t above except when you fortunately contradicted yourself. I mention it in Andy Hollandbeck’s new ‘Tropical Tropes’ column. Also mentioning the cicada, the Buick Cascada, that led to some wild ad copy I made up for a CAR I made up!

    So vinyl IS back, but not on anything I’d be buying anytime soon. I have ebay for that. I guess NOW See’s Candies feels they can celebrate their 100th birthday. They’re mainly in Ca., Oregon & Washington state, with few stores nationwide otherwise. Boston and Indianapolis are two of the lucky ones. See’s: the In & Out Burger of chocolates.

    The return of the Post 50 years ago is one of THE most positive and important events in magazine publishing history. The print magazine combined with this daily website is the best in the West and everywhere else!

    This vintage 1958 George Hughes cover has my attention to the people on the right. Are they annoyed, distracted or just in deep thought. There’s probably an explanation on the contents page. I’d love some cucumber ice cream if I can buy it, Bob. Cool cucumber water is great by the way.


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