News of the Week: Christmas Cards, Beer for Dogs, and What Is a Nutcracker For?

In the news for the week ending December 16, 2022, are weird mail, a weirder word, a young Ward Cleaver, Tom Sawyer, and more.


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And Don’t Forget the Zip Code!

Did you know that you can mail a rock? I don’t mean a rock inside of a box, I mean just a rock by itself. As long as it is addressed properly and clearly and has enough postage, you can just mail the rock as is. Same with coconuts, potatoes, and Frisbees.

That doesn’t have anything to do with Christmas cards but I thought I’d mention it.

I haven’t gotten a lot of cards this year. Not yet anyway. Maybe they’re still coming. I hope they haven’t been addressed incorrectly or the senders forgot to put a stamp on them or didn’t put a return address on them.

Quick aside: Where do you put the return address? When I was a kid I always put it on the back flap of the envelope, and some invitations are still done that way, but I think the norm for most people has been to put it in the upper-left corner. I don’t get many pieces of mail with the return address on the back, but I like it when I do.

USA Today has a guide on how to address Christmas cards (and all envelopes, really) so they’ll get to your family member or friend. Do you add a title like Mrs. or Ms.? Do you put the husband’s name first or the wife’s? Is it “The Smiths” or “The Smith Family?”

I don’t know why you would mail someone a rock, though. Unless it’s a gift for a rock collector.

This Is Not a Word of the Year

Sorry, but there’s no way I’m going to start using the word bleisure.

A Nutcracker Is for Cracking Nuts

People on Twitter — and I can sense you thinking, “Oh no, what have they done now?” — have discovered that a nutcracker is for cracking nuts.

These people didn’t know this already, apparently, and are surprised, shocked, and so freaked out they are typing in all caps and using acronyms like WTF, which I believe stands for “What’s This For?”

Wait until they find out what a breadmaker does.

Something I Found Out This Week

I was watching an old Little Rascals short on TCM last weekend — as if I could watch a new one? — and noticed Hugh Beaumont in a small, uncredited role, 17 years before starring as Ward Cleaver on Leave It to Beaver. This led me to look him up online. I knew that he was an ordained minister and that after he retired from acting he opened a Christmas tree farm in Minnesota, but what I didn’t know was that he wrote a short story for the Post in 1951. It’s titled “Reverend Telford’s Failure,” and if you’re a subscriber you can read it here.

Christmas Gift of the Week

You can’t forget your dog this Christmas, so pick him or her up a six-pack of dog beer.

RIP Grant Wahl, Angelo Badalamenti, Stephen Boss, Stuart Margolin, Paul Silas, Jule Campbell, Joyce Bryant, Carl Kleinschmitt, Lee Lorenz, Don Orehek, Helen Slayton-Hughes, and June Blair

Grant Wahl was America’s premier soccer journalist. He worked for CBS Sports, Sports Illustrated, and Fox Sports, and had his own podcast. He died last week at the age of 48.

Angelo Badalamenti was a composer who did the music for many of David Lynch’s projects, including Twin Peaks, Lost Highway, and Blue Velvet. He also wrote songs performed by many singers, wrote the theme for Inside the Actor’s Studio, and did music for the Olympics. He died Sunday at the age of 85.

Stephen Boss — also known as DJ tWitch — was the DJ on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. He died Tuesday at the age of 40.

Stuart Margolin won an Emmy for his role as Angel on The Rockford Files. He also appeared on many other TV shows and in movies and directed several shows too. He died Monday at the age of 82.

Paul Silas spent 40 years as an NBA player and coach. He died Saturday at the age of 79.

Jule Campbell created the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. She died last month at the age of 96.

Joyce Bryant was a singer in the 1940s and ’50s who later became a missionary. She died last month at the age of 95.

Carl Kleinschmitt wrote for such TV shows as M*A*S*H, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Love Boat, The Joey Bishop Show, 1st and Ten, and two series starring Sandy Duncan. He died last week at the age of 85.

Lee Lorenz was a cartoonist and the former cartoon editor of The New Yorker. He died last week at the age of 90.

Don Orehek was a veteran cartoonist whose work appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, Good Housekeeping, Reader’s Digest, McCall’s, Playboy, and many other magazines and books. He died last month at the age of 94.

Helen Slayton-Hughes played cranky Ethel Beavers on Parks & Recreation and appeared on The West Wing, NYPD Blue, Malcolm in the Middle, The Drew Carey Show, Nash Bridges, and many other shows. She died last week at the age of 92.

June Blair portrayed David Nelson’s wife (and was married to him in real life) on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. She died last week at the age of 89.

This Week in History

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Published in the U.K. and Canada (December 10, 1884)

The Mark Twain novel is a sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and one of four books to feature the Tom Sawyer character. The other two are Tom Sawyer Abroad and Tom Sawyer, Detective. Twain started but did not finish three other Tom Sawyer novels; they were published anyway.

Phillips Brooks Born (December 13, 1835)

The Boston clergyman and writer wrote the lyrics to “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: “Rural Post Office at Christmas” (December 13, 1947)

If you haven’t mailed your Christmas cards by now, you better hurry. It’s next weekend!

Saturday Is National Maple Syrup Day

It was blisteringly cold when I went to the supermarket the other morning. The kind of cold that makes even a winter-lover like myself take notice. The kind of cold where you just want to get inside as quickly as possible. The kind of cold that makes you think of pancakes.

Curtis Stone has these Whole-Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes with Strawberry-Maple Syrup and these Acorn Squash Roasted with Thyme that you drizzle with maple syrup. has a recipe for Maple Brownies, which sound pretty good. I’ve made these Maple Brown Sugar Baby Carrots, also from, and they’re quite good. And over at MyRecipes you can find recipes for Maple-Mustard Glazed Chicken and Maple Syrup Snow Candy.

Make sure you use a good maple syrup, because many syrups you find at the supermarket don’t contain any maple at all.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Hanukkah Begins (December 18)

… and ends the evening of December 26.

Winter Begins (December 21)

It begins at exactly 4:48 p.m. EST, if you’re keeping track.

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  1. You’re right Bob, mailing some of these things would be weird. Frisbees not as much, I guess. I got my Christmas cards out Friday, so hopefully they’ll get back East by mid-week. Mentally/psychologically I can’t get into it. Going into soon a 4th year of the Covid nightmare and all its endless entailments, I can’t pretend to fool myself there is an end to it anymore, with this depressing realization of permanency really setting in.

    Speaking of the cards, for the first time in many years I put my name and address on the back flap of the Hallmark (when you care to send the very best) envelopes. Not sure why. I don’t use stickers. Handwriting’s more personal. Oh, and most of them are all done out in cursive.

    Anyone who doesn’t know what a nutcracker is or does is really ignorant, or frankly stupid. They’re usually a steel, vice-like device to crack the outer shell containing the nuts inside. ‘Bleisure’ sounds stupid for sure.

    Thanks for the link on Post cartoonist Don Orehek. It leads to a lot of other good links. His cartoons in Playboy were great too. The ’90s was its last good decade, and then went down and finally out after that. The 2020-forever situation finally pushed the magazine over the cliff, but it was in a bad way years before that.

    Great cover by STEVAN DOHANOS (not N.R.). Love that old truck with the dog behind the wheel! The Maple syrup recipes sound wonderful. I know most of the supermarket syrups don’t contain real maple, but love them anyway occasionally. The Aunt Jemima brand is still around, but was semi-recently renamed Pearl Milling.


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