News of the Week: Political Ads, Siskel and Ebert, and Do You Dare Try a Goblin Sandwich?

In the news for the week ending October 28, 2022, are Halloween movie marathons, pickleball haters, Taylor Swift’s writing habits, and much more.


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Make It Stop!

There’s a series of commercials that have taken over every TV channel this past year. No, I’m not talking about those Medicare Advantage ads that feature celebrities we all forgot about years ago. I’m talking about all the political ads.

I just saw one for the Democrat running for governor in my state, immediately followed by an ad for her Republican opponent. Another commercial desperately wants me to vote yes on Question 1, but wait a second. The commercial that came on a few minutes before it said to vote the other way on Question 1! What’s up with that?

One guy is a liar and would be a bad senator, but what if the guy who said that is lying?

It’s one thing to have political ads. We’ve always had them and always will. But it’s the ferocious frequency of them that exhausts viewers. In one day of watching television I’ll see at least 50 ads for a politician, their opponent, and all of the ballot questions (both sides). Don’t they know that being in front of our eyeballs so many times a day, for months on end, can make us dislike the candidate, even if we were planning on voting for that candidate?

It’s not just political ads. I’ll be watching a tennis match or an episode of a drama or cable news and they’ll have the same exact ad repeated five or six times in one hour, every hour. Are they trying to beat these products into our heads, to lodge them in there, to exhaust us to the point where we just throw up our hands and say, “FINE, I’LL TAKE THAT PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION EVEN IF I DON’T NEED IT, JUST STOP THE COMMERCIALS!”

It doesn’t matter if I agree with the politician or not, I’m going to make a deal with them. The first one who stops airing their commercials has my vote.

Against Pickleball

Imagine you go to your favorite diamond to play your regular weekly game of softball and find out it has been turned into a hockey rink. Okay, that’s an extreme example, but it’s sort of what’s happening with tennis courts around the country. Owners of tennis courts, including towns, are changing some of them to pickleball courts (and some players are taking it upon themselves to temporarily change the courts), and that is irritating some tennis fans.

Two of them even wrote a manifesto titled “Against Pickleball,” where they say they want tennis players to “oppose the gangrenous spread of pickleball at every turn.”

Is Taylor Swift Okay?

This isn’t a column where you would ordinarily find the words Taylor and Swift (at least not together), but this week I’m making an exception because Slate has conducted an in-depth investigation into the way she holds a pen.

I’m a sucker for a story about handwriting.

Halloween TV

If you’re planning on staying in on Halloween night instead of going to a party — maybe you’re going to just watch TV and eat all the candy because you don’t get many trick-or-treaters anyway — here’s a quick guide.

AMC has an all-day marathon of the Halloween movies (of course); TCM has classic horror and monster movies all day long; SyFy has a marathon of the Harry Potter films; Logo has Bewitched all morning; and History Channel has an all-day marathon of Haunted History and Ancient Aliens. If you want something to watch but don’t want to be scared, except maybe by all the calories, Food Network has an all-day marathon of Halloween Baking Championship.

If you’re looking for something a little older, how about watching the “Halloween Party” episode of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet?

And if you just want to go straight to Christmas and weather outside that’s frightful, Hallmark Channel and Lifetime will have their Christmas movies morning, noon, and night.

Video of the Week

And if you’re tempted to watch any of the Friday the 13th movies, please note that Siskel and Ebert really, really, really hated them (with good reason).

Uploaded to YouTube by Friday The 13th Network

RIP Leslie Jordan, Ron Masak, Jules Bass, John Jay Osborn Jr., Michael Kopsa, Peter Siragusa, and Lucy and Joanna Simon

Leslie Jordan was a popular character actor who had regular roles on such shows as Will & Grace, Call Me Kat, The Cool Kids, American Horror Story, Boston Legal, and Hearts Afire, and appeared in movies like The Help, Shoot the Moon, and Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. He wrote a memoir, appeared in many plays, and became a surprise social media star during the pandemic. He died Monday at the age of 67.

Just a week after the death of Angela Lansbury, her Murder, She Wrote co-star Ron Masak has passed away. He played Sheriff Metzger on the show. He also appeared on Bewitched, The Twilight Zone, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Get Smart, and a hundred other shows, and took over from Pat Harrington Jr. as the voice of the stork in Vlasic pickle commercials. He died last week at the age of 86.

With Arthur Rankin Jr., Jules Bass produced many of the Christmas specials we know and love, including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town. He died Tuesday at the age of 87.

John Jay Osborn Jr. was best known as the writer of the novel The Paper Chase, later made into an acclaimed movie and a TV series. He also wrote for TV shows like L.A. Law, The Associates, and Spenser: For Hire. He died last week at the age of 77.

Michael Kopsa not only appeared in many Hallmark Christmas TV movies, he was also on The X-Files, Fringe, The Sentinel, Falcon Beach, and The Dead Zone. He died Sunday at the age of 66.

Peter Siragusa appeared in movies like The Big Lebowski, The Babe, Home Alone, the remake of Miracle on 34th Street, and Mulan, as well as shows like Out of Order, Home Improvement, Frasier, and Entourage. He died last week at the age of 62.

Lucy and Joanna Simon were the sisters of Carly Simon. Lucy was a singer and Broadway composer (she got a Tony nomination for The Secret Garden) and Joanna was an opera singer and arts correspondent for The MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour. Joanna died last week at the age of 85, and Lucy died just one day later at the age of 82.

This Week in History

JFK Addresses Nation (October 22, 1962)

The president went on TV to tell the country about the Soviet missiles being built on the island of Cuba.

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown Premieres (October 27, 1966)

Linus is still waiting in that pumpkin patch, only now he’s waiting on Apple TV.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: “Witch’s Night Out” (October 27, 1923)

The thing that makes this J.C. Leyendecker cover so creepy is that he drew the witch staring right at us.

Halloween Recipes

Yes, you can make something with a Halloween twist, like Vampire Punch, Eyeball Pasta, or White Chocolate Ghosts, but what I really want you to try is the Goblin Sandwich. It’s from a 1946 pamphlet titled How to Run a 1946 Halloween Party, published by the Doughnut Machine Company. So it’s no surprise that the recipe involves doughnuts, as well as deviled ham, Brazil nuts, avocado, and Worcestershire sauce.

Now that you see the ingredients you know why I want you to try it instead of me. Hey, they might make for great treats to hand out to the kids.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Mischief Night/Cabbage Night (October 30)

The same night has several different names. Besides Mischief Night and Cabbage Night, you can call the night before Halloween Goosey Night, Devil Night, Gate Night, and Moving Night.

I had no idea there was such a thing as Cabbage Night until I saw a Halloween episode of Last Man Standing. It’s called that in Canada too. You’re supposed to raid gardens and steal rotting cabbages.

National Novel Writing Month begins (November 1)

It’s also known as NaNoWriMo, the month you promise to write an entire novel. I used to look down at the month but then realized that since writing is rewriting anyway, it might be worth it to participate and get the first draft of that novel down. You can fix it later.


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  1. Any hater of the obnoxiousness and general oafishness of advertising is a friend of mine. I’m 70, therefore just old enough to remember that fascinating period which reached its peak in the 60s, when advertising was a quasi art. The goal was to inform, primarily, but also to charm consumers into considering the purchase of the product being promoted, not to batter and bludgeon them into submission.

    The Grand Surveillance which capitalism maintains upon us having inferred that I play a little guitar and am obsessed with jazz chords, I cannot get through anything on YouTube without being assaulted with ads for guitar related products; out of a hundred such ads, there might be one which would interest me in the product it’s pushing. The other ninety – nine infuriate me.

    I do not understand the logic of political advertising: commercials with gauzy images of smiling old people, uplifted babies, soft anodyne piano in the background; midlevel shots of the candidate “relating” to the people whom he would serve if given the chance; the announcer, often the candidate, intoning itinerant – seeming keywords such as “community,” “rights,” “choice,” “jobs,” etc., without actually telling us anything about how the candidate thinks he might achieve whatever goal he’s trying to hustle us into believing he aspires to.

    And the timespan! It averages fifteen seconds, on average. ( I can’t estimate time well when I’m in misery. ) Here’s an idea: the candidate faces the camera and talks for a solid minute about an issue, outlining briefly something like a plan to try to do this or that about the issue if elected. It would be riveting. I might not vote for the candidate for reasons of philosophy or policy, but the candidate would have elicited something in me which I rarely have for politicians, respect.

  2. All of those commercials, political or otherwise are too much Bob. Very glad I had the opportunity to go horseback riding this afternoon in the cool wind. Just the antidote for the human garbage thrust upon us. Having said that though, you need to cut back on TV watching time; at least until these mid-term elections are over.

    I enjoyed the Taylor Swift video you included here. The song was pretty good and the video creatively different. As for her pen holding, it’s different. It works for her, and that’s all that matters. I’m right-handed also, and do prefer holding the pen in the conventional way. So yes, she’s okay.

    I feel the same way Siskel & Ebert did in this vintage review, except about 95% of the time. I’d go insane having to watch the vast majority of films they had to review; God!! I really didn’t see most of the work Leslie Jordan did, except Boston Legal. He help make that offbeat legal drama even more so. Ron Masak too, on ALL of the shows mentioned. All favorites.

    I feel much sympathy for Carly Simon and her family. Losing your two sisters within a day of each other? Terrible enough to lose one. Both is horrendously sad and uncanny. One of my favorite songs is ‘Older Sister’ from her incredible ‘Hotcakes’ album I reviewed for my high school paper once upon a time. Wishing her only the best.


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