News of the Week: Bad Dreams, Pumpkin Spice Is Everywhere, and Columbo Turns 50

In the news for the week ending September 17, 2021, are a missing time capsule, a pumpkin cologne for dogs, Norm MacDonald, Columbo, biscuits, and more.

Cup of pumpkin spice latte with pumpkins

Weekly Newsletter

The best of The Saturday Evening Post in your inbox!


Summer Forever

I had a dream the other night (a sentence guaranteed to make people roll their eyes and/or click to another page), and it was one of those dreams that made me wake up, sit up, and think about what I had just dreamed.

I dreamed that it was summer forever.

This was disturbing, since every day being warm is my nightmare scenario, right up there with there being nothing but reality shows on television and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups being outlawed.

The dream was odd for a specific reason. My dreams have changed over the past two years (and I don’t know if this is pandemic-related or not). You know how on a TV show or in a movie a character will have some problem they have to fix, some trouble in their life, and then they’ll dream about that exact problem, and wake up all stressed and worried (or maybe the dream has solved their problem)? I never used to have dreams like that. I would dream a lot, but they were about more general things or events that happened in my past. Now I’m dreaming like a man in a sitcom.

I know why I dreamed this. The weather turned crisp and cool a couple of weeks ago and I thought the fall was going to settle in (Mother Nature tricks me every September), but the past week or so here has been rather warm, even humid and uncomfortable. It’s one of those things that makes me sigh every day, so it’s not surprising I’m dreaming about it.

I can’t wait for the cold days of November and December and January, when my sleep will be filled with thoughts of it being cold forever. Of course, I like it when it’s cold so I probably won’t have any dreams about it at all.

It’s a Pumpkin Spice World, We Just Live In It

Another thing I look forward to when the temps turn cold is pumpkin spice. Yes, I’m one of those people who actually likes the seasonal flavor (I know there are pumpkin spice haters out there). I don’t go overboard, but I’ll drink a pumpkin spice chai or have a pumpkin spice dessert or bread.

I could start a pumpkin spice newsletter — it would probably be called The Pumpkin Spice Newsletter — that would never run out of new products to talk about. We have pumpkin spice drinks at Starbucks (and Dunkin’), pumpkin spice Twinkies, pumpkin spice marshmallows, pumpkin pie Pop-Tarts, and pumpkin & spice yogurt. And just today I was reading about Budweiser’s new Bud Light Pumpkin Spice Hard Seltzer.

But pumpkin spice food and drink products are old hat at this point. If you live long enough, everything you eat or drink will eventually have a pumpkin spice version. I’m more concerned about the inedible pumpkin spice things. Did you know that you can now buy pumpkin spice cologne for dogs, pumpkin spice latte deodorant, and even pumpkin spice toilet paper?

All of these are weird and/or funny, depending on how you take these things, but I draw the line at pumpkin spice-scented face masks.

The Missing Time Capsule

When officials tore down the Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond, Virginia, last week, they were hoping to find a time capsule that was buried in the base of the statue in 1887. But it’s missing!

Advice from Bette Davis

Spend enough time on the web and you discover things about celebrities you never knew. Lucille Ball hosted a radio talk show! Hedy Lamarr invented Bluetooth and Wi-Fi! Thomas Mitchell once played Columbo! You can now add Bette Davis wrote an advice column! to the list. It was in the 1940s for Photoplay magazine.

RIP Norm Macdonald, Michael Constantine, Art Metrano, Fran Bennett, Sondra James, George Wein, Don Collier, and Ruth Olay

Norm Macdonald was a “Weekend Update” anchor on Saturday Night Live for years as well as a stand-up comic. He also appeared on TV shows like Norm, A Minute with Stan Hooper, The Orville, The Middle, his own Netflix talk show Norm Macdonald Has a Show, and several movies. He was a contestant on Star Search and a writer on Roseanne and The Dennis Miller Show. He died this week at the age of 61.

Michael Constantine was probably best known for his roles on Room 222 and the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but he appeared in tons of other TV shows and movies over a 60-year career. He died last month at the age of 94.

Art Metrano appeared in many TV shows and movies and was also a stand-up comic and comic magician known as The Great Metrano. He died last week at the age of 84.

Fran Bennett was a veteran actress who appeared in several soap operas, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Quantum Leap, Lou Grant, NCIS, and Community, as well as movies like Wes Craven’s New Nightmare and 8MM. She also appeared in the live Jeffersons TV special that Jimmy Kimmel produced in 2019 and was also a voice and acting teacher. She died last weekend at the age of 84.

Sondra James had an interesting Hollywood career. She not only ran a post-production company that worked on several films and TV shows, she was an actress as well, appearing in movies like Joker, Mighty Aphrodite, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, and the upcoming The Tender Bar, and TV shows like Sick of It, Crisis in Six Scenes, 30 Rock, and the Law & Order franchise. She died this week at the age of 82.

George Wein was one of the driving forces behind making jazz festivals popular, including the Newport Jazz Festival. He died Monday at the age of 95.

Don Collier starred in The High Chaparral and appeared in every other TV western from the ’50s to the ’90s. He also appeared as “The Gum Fighter” in a series of Hubba Bubba commercials. He died Monday at the age of 92.

Ruth Olay was once Preston Sturges’s secretary but later became an acclaimed singer who performed with Duke Ellington and Benny Carter and released her own albums. She died earlier this month at the age of 97.

Uploaded to YouTube by Ruth Olay – Topic

This Week in History

Walter Reed Born (September 13, 1851)

The man whose name is on Washington D.C.’s military hospital was a U.S. Army doctor who led the team known for their work with yellow fever. He died from a ruptured appendix in 1902 at the age of 51.

Columbo Premieres (September 15, 1971)

The first episode, directed by Steven Spielberg and featuring Jack Cassidy as one half of a mystery writing team who kills his partner, wasn’t the first mystery that Peter Falk solved. There were actually two pilot movies before the series began: 1968’s Prescription: Murder and 1971’s Ransom for a Dead Man.

As Troy Brownfield’s recent Post story points out, Falk wasn’t the first person to play Lt. Columbo. Bert Freed played the detective in a 1960 episode of The Chevy Mystery Show, and Thomas Mitchell (Uncle Billy in It’s a Wonderful Life) played him in a stage play in 1962. The creators first wanted Bing Crosby for the series, but he didn’t want the filming to interfere with his golf game.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Pillsbury Biscuits (September 12, 1931)

Pillsbury magazine ad

You probably won’t have to make 444 biscuits at one time, but if you find yourself in that situation, Pillsbury’s Best is the way to go.

September Is National Biscuit Month

I could scour the web looking for various biscuits for you to make, but it turns out the folks at Pillsbury have you covered, with many types of biscuit recipes to try, including these Easy Bacon and Egg Biscuit Cups, BBQ Biscuit Bombs, Skillet Chicken Biscuit Pot Pie, Flaky Biscuit Pizza Snacks, a Sloppy Joe Casserole, and Fried Biscuit Bread Bites.

Oh, and this Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread with Caramel Sauce. What, you thought I was going to forget to include something with pumpkin spice?

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

The 73rd Emmy Awards (September 19)

You know the Emmys don’t really interest you anymore when you take a look at the list of nominees and realize that you haven’t seen most of them. But if you’re interested, the show airs this Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

Fall Begins (September 22)

It starts at exactly 3:20 p.m. ET, so plan accordingly.

Featured image: Shutterstock

Become a Saturday Evening Post member and enjoy unlimited access. Subscribe now


  1. Well guys, let’s see what a weird, wild weather trip we have in store with the accelerating climate change and Covid. I hate the heat, but too cold is too much for me also. Stay tuned for Bob’s updates and strange events at the store.

    You’re off to a good start with a pumpkin spice newsletter right here, from what I can see. Pumpkin isn’t one of my favorite flavors, but don’t mind it either. I prefer the more Christmas-y cinnamon and nutmeg. It’s too bad about that missing 1887 time capsule. Would have been a good insight into the early post-Civil War years.

    I read the advice Ms. Davis gave to that young (hastily married) World War II bride, and agree with Bette. That’s such a great website! I’m sorry Norm Macdonald passed away. He was great on ‘The Middle’ during the last decade, and much more recently as KFC’s Colonel Sanders. (Rob Lowe gets an ‘A’ for effort though, with his take on it.)

    Thanks for the video of Ruth Olay. Beautiful woman, with a voice to match. ‘You Make Me Feel So Young’ is one of those mid-century songs I ‘kind of knew’ but not fully. Just one more thing everyone, don’t forget to click on Troy’s ‘Columbo’ feature if you’re a fan of the show, and Peter Falk. A very important big anniversary week!

  2. I like to flatter myself by thinking that an aunt & uncle were the only people that moved NORTH after (my uncle’s) retirement (from G.M.). They lived for decades in a town called Mokena, in Illinois; near Joliet, south of Chicago. When my uncle retired, they moved to Hayward, WI! Guess they liked that cold weather too!

  3. Van: I agree. I’ve often suspected that a lot of people just say they like warm weather more than cold because it’s a knee-jerk, learned reaction. I see local news anchors and meteorologists acting this way. They sigh and lament that summer is turning into fall and the warm temps are going away. As if 50s/60s temp is freezing (not that I mind freezing! It’s a lot easier to warm up when you’re cold than cool down when you’re warm – just grab a sweater or turn up the heat or grab a hot cup of tea). I’ll take November over July easily.

    Thanks for the nice words about the column. Glad you enjoy it.

  4. Mr. Sassone,

    I feel that I owe you a long overdue thank you for standing up for cold weather! People think I’m joking when I tell them that I’d rather have a bitter January day than a torrid summer one. When they realize I am not joking, they think I’m crazy. But after a long and dangerous drought, I’ve heard people complain about the first day of rain, so I think the bias toward hot weather (like the bias against a rainy day) is almost a social construct.

    Your column is always a highlight of my Saturday morning, enjoyed with a cup of coffee and some kind of Danish or turnover I shouldn’t be eating. Keep ’em coming!

    Best wishes!


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *