News of the Week: Cursive Writing, Hall of Fame Toys, and Why You Should Never Cook Chicken in NyQuil

In the news for the week ending September 23, 2022, are a disappearing phantom, a magazine centennial, all the best toys, and more.


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The Write Stuff

If you’re reading The Saturday Evening Post, I’m going to assume you’re of a certain age and you learned cursive in school. You may even still use cursive in your everyday life, and not just for your signature. But we’re a dying breed, because younger generations aren’t being taught how to read cursive, and there are fewer and fewer reasons to learn how to write it these days.

Who needs cursive writing when you can just text or TikTok your Snapchats? (I hope I have the terminology right.)

It’s an interesting distinction between writing cursive and reading it. There’s been talk for years about how cursive isn’t being taught that much in schools, but it’s always about the writing, not the reading. But it stands to reason that younger generations that don’t really care about cursive aren’t going to know how to read it either. They won’t know how to read old documents or their grandmother’s recipe cards or their grandfather’s diary. One day, being able to read and write cursive is going to be seen as an eccentric hobby.

I suppose there’s a legitimate argument to be made that we don’t “need” to know cursive anymore. People can still write without doing it in cursive, and electronic signatures are becoming more common. A “signature” these days doesn’t have to be personal and consistent; any old scribble will do.

Just the other day I had to sign a contract, and since it’s 2022 I had to sign it electronically and email it. That’s just the way it’s done now, at least in some professions. But I have to admit there’s no style, no charm about using a signature file and attaching it to an email and hitting “Send.” I still try to use paper and my handwritten signature and snail mail whenever possible, for letters and cards and even paying some bills. And I still use paper checks and have to sign those. It would be a sad day if all of that were to disappear, even if I only want to hold on to it for personal, nostalgic reasons.

I have to admit that I got away from cursive writing several years ago (I type on a computer all day, and my handwritten notes aren’t done in cursive), but a few years ago I got back into it because I started to write letters to people again. In a way, it’s like riding a bike; it all comes back to you,

But I still can’t do a proper “z.” I mean, what a weird letter.

Goodbye Phantom

Is there a TV show/movie/play that you’ve never seen but it “feels” like you have? That would be Phantom of the Opera for me. I’ve never seen it, but the play has run for so long and there have been so many takeoffs of it (my favorite was Phantom of the Oprah, brought to you by Leo’s Sludge & Septic) that it seems like I’ve seen it. Plus I kinda know how the story goes, so it’s one of those pop culture things we know even though we don’t know it.

But if I want to actually see it, I’ll have to hurry: the 35-year-old musical, Broadway’s longest-running, will close for good on February 18.

The National Toy Hall of Fame Finalists

Every year when they announce the finalists for induction into the National Toy Hall of Fame, there’s always one entrant that makes me scratch my head. One year it was the smartphone (a smartphone is not a toy). Another year it was the blanket. Last year it was sand. Sand!

This year’s finalists have been announced, and the list includes Lite-Brite, Nerf toys, bingo, Spirograph, Pound Puppies, Catan, Breyer Horses, Rack-O, the top, Masters of the Universe, Phase 10, and piñatas.

I think I played with Spirograph the most. I must have spent hundreds of hours making designs with those discs

100 Years of Better Homes & Gardens

It’s not the 200 years the Post has, but it’s pretty good! Better Homes & Gardens is turning 100, and CBS Sunday Morning has the story.

Uploaded to YouTube by CBS Sunday Morning

Headline of the Week

“Don’t Cook Chicken in NyQuil”

RIP Henry Silva, Maury Wills, Fred Franzia, Marva Hicks, and Jim Post

Henry Silva was a veteran actor who appeared in such movies as The Manchurian Candidate, Johnny Cool, the original Ocean’s 11 (and he had a cameo in the remake), A Hatful of Rain, Cinderfella, Sharky’s Machine, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and Dick Tracy, as well as many TV shows, including a role as Bane in animated Batman and Superman shows. He died last week at the age of 95.

Maury Wills was an expert at stealing bases for the Los Angeles Dodgers, helping them win the World Series in 1959, 1963, and 1965. He was the National League MVP in 1962. He died Monday at the age of 89.

Fred Franzia invented the popular inexpensive wine Two Buck Chuck. He died last week at the age of 79.

Marva Hicks was an actress who appeared in such Broadway shows as The Lion King and Motown: The Musical as well as TV shows like Star Trek: Voyager, Mad About You, Sister Sister, House of Cards, and L.A. Law. She was also a singer who had an R&B hit with “Never Been in Love Before” and sang backup on one of Michael Jackson’s tours. She died last week at the age of 66.

Jim Post was one half of the husband and wife band Friend and Lover, who had a hit in 1968 with “Reach Out of the Darkness.” He died last week at the age of 82.

This Week in History

General Motors Founded (September 16, 1908)

William C. Durant was the largest seller of horse-drawn carriages before founding GM. Companies under the GM umbrella include Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, and GMC.

M*A*S*H Premieres (September 17, 1972)

Here’s Ronald Brownstein on how the show came about after the 1970 movie, and here’s Alan Alda with memories of the show and what went on behind the scenes.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: General Motors ad (September 18, 1948)

I zoomed in on the trunk of the car to read what is etched above the license plate. I think it says “Next Level,” but I have no idea what that means.

September Is National Chicken Month

While you should never cook your chicken in NyQuil (and while we’re at it, you shouldn’t cook it in Robitussin, latex paint, or melted crayons either), there are many normal, delicious ways to prepare chicken for dinner tonight.

Curtis Stone has recipes for Chicken Pot Pie and Fennel Salad, and he also shows you how to make Simple Roast Chicken and Potatoes (it’s also National Potato Month). Here’s a recipe for Coffee-Cured Chicken, and here’s one for Oven-Fried Chicken Tenders from Betty Crocker.

And Better Homes & Gardens (I had to include them, of course) has recipes for Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole, Maple-Glazed Chicken with Sweet Potatoes, and Hasselback Chicken, which I’ve never heard of before but is chicken stuffed with spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, and three types of cheeses.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

National Punctuation Day (September 24)

The difference between “man eating chicken” and “man-eating chicken” is just one example of why correct punctuation is important.

National One Hit Wonder Day (September 25)

“Reach Out of the Darkness” could qualify as a one-hit wonder, but here’s another, from The Buggles. The band was Trevor Horn, a producer and musician and a member of the progressive rock band Yes, and Geoff Downes, keyboardist for Yes and Asia.

Uploaded to YouTube by TheBugglesVEVO

Rosh Hashanah (September 25-27)

The first of the Jewish High Holy Days starts at sunset on the 25th and ends at nightfall on the 27th.

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  1. I’m confused about the comments on Phantom of the Opera when you said it’s one of those pop culture things we know even though we don’t know it. I’ve never gotten to see it so I don’t know. Bob Jr. I think there’s an insult in your comments to those Tik Tok kids I somehow can’t place. Maybe I’m wrong. Either way they deserve it. The very idea is upsetting. How, why would they choose to consume things so awful? It makes my skin crawl.

  2. Take 2:

    Sorry Bob, I just lost all my comments when I clicked on the ‘Don’t Cook Chicken in Ny Quil’ link. Must remember to always use the iPhone for that; my bad. This after an exhausting, long hot weekend. Yes, over 100—again.

    You’re right about the cursive, of course. The younger generations though ARE learning and being encouraged to do the above from the brain-dead Tik Tok, just like consuming Tide ‘pods’ several years ago. A yardstick for lunatics, one point of view. The cursive is so nice for personal-style letters and cards, especially around the Holidays. Fancy but easy to read is best. The ‘Z’ is a drag. Not commonly used. Just keep practicing.

    I loved the Spirograh and Lite-Brite as a kid too. Maybe the latter contributed to my love for neon lights. Japan or today’s beautiful Vietnam, they’re always a sight to behold. I should have avoided trying to make a Revell model car back then. Not even close to the happy boy on the box with his. Illustrated to make it worse. Mine was a mess of paint, glue, tears and a temper tantrum. When mom asked if I wanted another one, I said no, I wanted this one.

    Great feature on ‘Better Homes & Gardens’ magazine. They still seem to have the the autonomy they’ve always had, which is rare now. Time Inc. now being (or having been bought out by) Meredith Corp. is kind of a trip.

    That ’48 Chevy fastback ad is really nice. Love those art deco-style silver streaks. They didn’t work as well on the ’58 Oldsmobile. Less might have been more. I didn’t click on the Buggles song at the bottom, or it’ll get stuck in my head for a few days.


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