News of the Week: How to Ask a Question, Christmas Troubles, and Marvel’s New Show Has a Post Connection

In the news for the week ending October 1, 2021, are TV news, home robots, tree shortages, Boris Karloff, and more.

Boris Karloff in a scene from The Mummy
(Karl Freund, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

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Random Thoughts

I finally put away my floor fan this week, and I can’t tell you how happy it makes me feel that it’s October. Well, I could tell you, but I already have several times before.

Many fans are mad — who knows if they’re really mad or just “social media mad” — because Jeopardy! champ Matt Amodio always says “What is …” in his answers, even if he’s talking about a person. They feel he should say “Who is …” But I disagree! I think it’s a smart strategy. Amodio has to play these grueling games (they film five episodes a day) and buzz in at just the right time and deal with all of the other stresses and it must help not to waste brain space or energy trying to remember what word to start your question with. It makes for one less thing he has to worry about.

I was looking at the online application for a job the other day and they wouldn’t let me complete the application and send it until I filled out a box with my Instagram account. This is what the world is coming to. Soon we won’t be able to buy groceries unless we have proof of a recent Like on Facebook.

I really enjoyed this interview with Billy Gray about The Day the Earth Stood Still. I like that movie so much that I named my magazine after one of the characters.

Don’t tell me that this is the best-ever era for television when every episode of Bachelor in Paradise is three hours long.

I see this commercial approximately five times a day, and I always get a kick out of how many items on the shelf behind Jimmie Walker have to do with his show Good Times. The hat he used to wear! Pictures from the set! A sign that says Good Times! Basically they’re saying, “Hey, if you’re too young to remember me, I was on a show called Good Times, and here are 97 reminders of that fact.”

Amazon’s new $1,000 robot is named Astro, but he doesn’t look to be as fun as the dog on The Jetsons. It just goes around the house and tells you if your door is unlocked and that you need to order more toilet paper (from Amazon, I assume).

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree (Fingers Crossed)

Because of supply chain chaos, employee shortages, bad weather, problems at certain shipping ports, and factory closings (events made worse and/or caused by the pandemic), we are seeing a massive disruption in the delivery and availability of many products, from clothing and alcohol to paper goods and coffee.

Another shortage we might have to face? Christmas trees and decorations!

You may think it’s just artificial trees (my preferred holiday tree), but even real trees might be in short supply because of fires, droughts, and other problems. And if you do find one, the price might be higher than you expect to pay.

Experts suggest buying your real Christmas tree early. But how early can you buy a real Christmas tree? Should we have them up already, decorated with skulls, bats, and black and orange lights? Will we have to keep our Halloween/Xmas tree up straight through Halloween, maybe adding a turkey or can of cranberry sauce in November just so we have all of our bases covered?

If you’re an artificial person (I mean someone who likes artificial trees, not a robot or mannequin), you hopefully already have one in your attic, cellar, or garage.

What Is Boris Karloff?

There’s a new documentary about the classic horror film star, The Man Behind the Monster. Here’s the trailer.

Uploaded to YouTube by Shout! Factory

Karloff talked about his 30-year career in the movies for an article that ran in our November 3, 1962, issue.

What If …?

A few weeks ago I told you about the new documentary on the life of Post illustrator J.C. Leyendecker titled Coded. Now we find out that a new Marvel series is based on his work.

Paul Lasaine, the production designer for the new Disney Plus animated show What If…? says the inspiration for the look of the show came from Leyendecker. Animation supervisor Stephan Franck and character designer Ryan Meinerding also say that the Post artist was a major inspiration, along with all of the other Marvel movies and TV shows, explaining that they were looking for a style that was “more realistic than the other types of animation that have come before, but still had the sense that it was drawn, still had the sense that it had some artistry behind it, that had nice design and nice thoughtful linework and tones to it.”

I wasn’t planning on watching the show — to be honest I’m rather Marveled out at this point — but now I’ll have to.

Norman … Monty Norman

A lot of people assume that John Barry came up with the classic theme for the James Bond movies. It was actually written by a man named Monty Norman, and just in time for No Time to Die, which had its world premiere in London this week, he explains to CNN how he came up with the tune and why he never thought it would become famous.

RIP Jay Sandrich, Tommy Kirk, Cliff Freeman, Bob Moore, Colin Bailey, Sue Thompson, and Jean Hale

Jay Sandrich was the Emmy-winning director or assistant director on many great sitcoms, including The Mary Tyler Moore Show, I Love Lucy, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Cosby Show, Soap, The Odd Couple, The Bob Newhart Show, Get Smart, and many others. He also produced many episodes of The Andy Griffith Show. He died last week at the age of 89.

Tommy Kirk was a child actor who starred in such Disney movies as Old Yeller, Swiss Family Robinson, The Absent Minded Professor, and The Shaggy Dog. He was also a member of The Mickey Mouse Club and starred as Joe Hardy on The Hardy Boys. He died this week at the age of 79.

Cliff Freeman was the advertising man who came up with the “Where’s the Beef?” campaign for Wendy’s. He also wrote the “Sometimes you feel like a nut …” song for Almond Joy/Mounds and created the “Pizza! Pizza!” slogan for Little Caesar’s. He was even the voice who said those words in the commercials for many years. He died earlier this month at the age of 80.

Bob Moore was a Nashville session musician who played bass on such songs as Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Elvis Presley’s “Are You Lonesome Tonight?,” Brenda Lee’s “I’m Sorry,” and Patsy Cline’s “I Fall to Pieces.” He died last week at the age of 88.

Colin Bailey was a jazz drummer who played with the Vince Guaraldi Trio, famous for the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas. He also played with people like Frank Sinatra, Benny Goodman, and Rosemary Clooney, and sat in with the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson band. He died last week at the age of 87.

Sue Thompson had hits in the 1960s with “Norman” and “Sad Movies (Make Me Cry).” She died last week at the age of 96.

Jean Hale was an actress and model who appeared in such movies as In Like Flint and The Oscar, as well as TV shows like Perry Mason, Batman, The Survivors, and McHale’s Navy. She died in August at the age of 82.

This Week in History

James Dean Dies (September 30, 1955)

People sometimes forget that there were two other people involved in the two-car collision that took the life of the 24-year-old actor. His passenger, Porsche-trained mechanic Rolf Wütherich, sustained serious injuries but survived. He was killed in another crash in West Germany in 1981 at the age of 53.

The driver of the other car, Donald Turnupseed, sustained only minor injuries.

Walt Disney World Opens (October 1, 1971)

According to Florida Sun Adventures, the park covers 43 square miles of land, or 25,000 acres. You can fit 51 Disneylands inside Disney World.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Interwoven Socks ad (September 25, 1926)

Interwoven socks ad from 1929

Not only did J.C. Leyendecker create 322 covers for the Post, he was famous for the many advertising illustrations he did for such products as Arrow shirts and Interwoven socks.

Today Is National Homemade Cookies Day

Do I post too much about cookies here? Possibly! But who’s going to argue? Besides, it’s October 1. Fall is here and the holidays soon will be too, and we’re heading into what is officially called “cookie season.”

Okay, there’s nothing official about it but there should be.

Let’s start off with a classic, the original Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies. AllRecipes has these Easy Sugar Cookies, while Taste of Home has these Old-Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies, which also seem to be pretty easy to make. How about a Pecan Sandie from Food & Wine, or these Chewy Fudge-Cake Cookies from one of my favorite people, Peg Bracken? And of course, I have to link to Norman Rockwell’s recipe for oatmeal cookies. That’s a tradition around here when we talk about cookies.

I don’t know if Leyendecker had a cookie recipe. If you find one, let us know.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

MLB Playoffs Start (October 5)

As I type these words we still don’t know who is going to be fighting for the wild card spots, but whoever they are, the American League game will air on ESPN at 8 p.m. (unless a tiebreaker is needed — that game will air on ESPN on October 4).

Walk to School Day (October 6)

I walked to school every day for my entire school career, except for the time I was in middle school, when I had to take the bus across town. It was driven by a woman who, as I look back, must have been crazy, because she would drive so fast that when we went around a corner we would go up on two wheels. It was actually exciting and fun (we looked forward to it), but when I think about it now she should have been fired.

Featured image: Boris Karloff from The Mummy (Karl Freund, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

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  1. No sweat. I only got to go to Disneyland because it was in Anaheim (Orange County) less than 50 miles away from where I lived. I actually preferred Knott’s Berry Farm, only about 5 miles from it. Every state has their own theme parks that are just as much fun, and (as we know) deliver a lot more bang for waaaay less money. I can’t even imagine ‘Lands admission price now, much less Disney World’s!!!

  2. I hate having to fill anything out online. The Instagram thing is ridiculous. Isn’t that an off-shoot of Facebook anyway? It figures. I keep getting these texts I have 25 people trying to reach me on Facebook. I don’t even HAVE a damn F-book account, and wouldn’t!! I’m sure Amazon’s Astro is actually a surveillance device. Please.

    The supply shortage is bad in most ways, but I don’t know anyone looking forward to Christmas or wanting to bother with it (or Halloween & Thanksgiving) other than in very low key ways. The Boris Karloff documentary looks good, and I said so in another online feature on it.

    So Marvel’s now ‘discovered’ Leyendecker and trying to exploit. Hopefully they’re having to pay The Saturday Evening Post A LOT of money for the privilege! The cookie ideas sound great. I suppose some students walk to school. Most are driven, even if the school is only a few blocks away. I knew Disney World was substantially larger than Disneyland, but never knew you could fit 51 Disneyland’s inside one Disney World. That’s crazy! Bob, have you ever been to either one?


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