News of the Week: New Books, Charles Schulz at 100, and There’s Actually a Way to Make a Good Fruitcake

In the news for the week ending December 2, 2022, are a legendary cartoonist, a gigantic Christmas tree, celebrities’ favorite Christmas movies, fruitcake recipes, and more.


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In addition to the picks by Amazon editor Al Woodworth in the current issue of the Post, here are a half dozen more you might want to buy for yourself and/or someone else this Christmas.

Charles M. Schulz by the Charles M. Schulz Museum, Benjamin L. Clark, and Nat Gertler. To celebrate the cartoonist’s 100th birthday, this book explains “the art and life of the Peanuts creator in 100 objects,” including his workspace, old photos and documents, awards, and Peanuts toys.

Christmas Past by Brian Earl. Subtitled “The fascinating stories behind our favorite holiday’s traditions,” it’s a companion to Earl’s popular Christmas Past podcast and focuses on the origins of such things as classic Christmas foods, carols, stories, Santa Claus, and holiday TV specials.

Emily Post’s Etiquette: The Centennial Edition by Lizzie Post and Daniel Post Senning. You don’t want to insult someone this Christmas do you? Or say the wrong thing at the wrong time, or put the wrong utensil on the wrong side of the plate, or address a Christmas card the wrong way, right? Then this 100th anniversary edition of the classic guide is for you.

Secrets Typed in Blood by Stephen Spotswood. I’ll admit I haven’t heard of the Pentecost & Parker mystery series, but this one — set in the 1940s New York City world of pulp novels — just might be the one to make me check them out.

Smitten Kitchen Keepers by Deb Perelman. Smitten Kitchen is one of the best recipe sites, and creator Perelman’s latest book is described as “new classics for your forever file.” If there’s one cookbook you should buy a friend or family member for Christmas, this is it.

Cocktail Time! by Paul Feig. The director of Bridesmaids and the 2016 Ghostbusters and creator of the TV show Freaks and Geeks is a big fan of cocktails and retro cocktail culture. This book has plenty of recipes for your holiday party as well as funny tales from his life.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting

The 90th ceremony took place on Wednesday night.

Uploaded to YouTube by PIX11 News

And Tom Hanks’s Favorite Christmas Movie Is …

Plan 9 from Outer Space. That’s a weird choice, but who are we to argue with Tom Hanks?

Okay, I lied. His favorite is actually A Charlie Brown Christmas. Hanks is just one of the celebrities asked that question for this story at CNN. The list of celebrities also includes Ron Howard, Bobby Flay, Ana Cabrera, and Jake Tapper.

Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year Is …

a very old word. But maybe Merriam-Webster is just telling us that this is the word of the year when it really isn’t, to make us question everything and drive us mad.

Christmas Gift of the Week

Do you know someone who loves model train sets but they seem to have everything they could possibly need, like tracks and lights and buildings and trees? I bet they don’t have a burning brothel. Complete with recorded screams!

RIP Christine McVie, Irene Cara, Clarence Gilyard Jr., John Brown Jr., Charles Koppelman, Freddie Roman, Greg Bear, Gene Perret, Louise Tobin, and James Winburn

Christine McVie was a keyboardist and singer for Fleetwood Mac, known for such songs as “Go Your Own Way,” “Dreams,” “Gypsy,” “Little Lies,” “You Make Loving Fun,” “Rhiannon,” and many others. She died Wednesday at the age of 79.

Irene Cara had hits with the songs “Flashdance … What a Feeling” (for which she won an Oscar and a Grammy) and the theme from the movie Fame. She also appeared in other movies, including Sparkle, City Heat, and Happily Ever After, providing the voice of Snow White, and TV shows like The Electric Company and Roots: The Next Generation. She died last week at the age of 63.

Clarence Gilyard Jr. starred in the TV shows Matlock, CHiPS, and Walker, Texas Ranger and had roles in such big movies as Die Hard, Top Gun, and the Left Behind films. He died last week at the age of 66.

John Brown Jr. was a former governor of Kentucky and the man who bought Kentucky Fried Chicken from Harlan Sanders. He was once married to former Miss America and CBS sportscaster Phyllis George. He died Monday at the age of 88.

Charles Koppelman was the former head of EMI Records and Martha Stewart’s company and had a hand in hits by Dolly Parton, The Lovin’ Spoonful, Bobby Darin, and Vanilla Ice. He died last week at the age of 82.

Freddie Roman was a veteran standup comic and the former head of the Friar’s Club. He died Saturday at the age of 85.

Greg Bear was a prolific writer of science fiction, including Star Trek and Star Wars novels. He was also one of the founders of Comic-Con. He died Saturday at the age of 71.

Gene Perret wrote comedy for Bob Hope and Phyllis Diller and for TV shows like The Carol Burnett Show, Three’s Company, Laugh-In, and Welcome Back, Kotter. He died earlier this month at the age of 85.

Louise Tobin was a jazz vocalist for Benny Goodman who put her career on hold after marrying bandleader Harry James. She made a comeback in the 1950s. She is also credited as the person who discovered Frank Sinatra. She died Saturday at the age of 104.

James Winburn was a veteran stuntman who appeared in countless films. He was the Michael Myers stunt double in the original Halloween. He died earlier this month at the age of 85.

This Week in History

Charles Schulz Born (November 26, 1922)

This is the best thing I saw all week. For Schulz’s 100th, several cartoonists dedicated their syndicated comic strips that day to him and Peanuts.

And don’t forget, Schulz drew for the Post before Peanuts debuted in 1950.

Cocoanut Grove Fire (November 28, 1942)

By the time it was over, 492 people were killed and 166 injured in the Boston fire, which is still the deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. history.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Texas Manor fruitcake (December 1, 1977)

This ad sent me down one of those internet rabbit holes that few ever return from. I tried to find out if the company was still around (I couldn’t go by the address because that P.O. Box is the old mailing address for the Post). I also tried to find out if “Texas Manor” was the name of the company or a style of cake.

I did find this Tripadvisor review of Texas Manor Cake, which apparently is now made by the Ya-Hoo Baking Company. They have a site where you can order all sorts of great-looking desserts, including Texas Manor Fruitcake.

Fruitcake Recipes

If instead you want to make your own fruitcake, you can try this recipe for The Christmas Fruitcake from a 1912 issue of our sister publication The Country Gentleman. King Arthur Baking has Everyone’s Favorite Fruitcake; Alton Brown at Food Network has something called Free Range Fruitcake (which adds blueberries to the mix); and this recipe from Claire Saffitz at The New York Times promises to “double down on the deliciousness.”

Oh, let’s go crazy. The Pioneer Woman has 20 more fruitcake recipes. Fruitcake for everybody on your Christmas list!

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Repeal Day (December 5)

Raise a glass to the end of Prohibition!

National Letter Writing Day (December 7)

Maybe instead of sending a Christmas card this year (though there’s nothing wrong with that), you can send a long Christmas letter to someone you haven’t seen in a while. And no, a Facebook message doesn’t count.

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  1. I looked up Bourbon Institute also, and found various sites on it. There’s one featuring a black & white ad from 1959 to promote Bourbon to the masses. In 1973 the ‘Institute’ merged with some other Distilled Spirits Industries to form some other corporations. Suffice to say Johanna, I think I may know why it was your Mom’s favorite fruitcake, and probably many others for the same reason!

    Speaking of Mom, mine was a little shocked when the downsized December ’77 Post arrived in the mail. “All my magazines are shrinking; now the Post too?!” I showed her the December preview ad in the Nov.’77 advising of the ‘stocking=size’ for the next issue.

    Her ladies and home magazines had been downsized over the past several years, so she shouldn’t have been that surprised, but she was. I told her we were lucky the Post was revived in the large format several years earlier to begin with, when it easily might not have been for its fresh start. She loved that issue by the way. The following October (’78) LIFE was revived as a monthly retaining the large format, and she was pleasantly surprised by that.

    ‘Gaslighting’ should be the word of the year, every year. It’s what we’re constantly living with by and destroyed by both (main) political parties sadistically and methodically working against the American people and this nation as a whole, by their giving trillions of dollars to Zelensky (disgustingly always begging for our money) with no accountability whatsoever, resulting in unprecedented inflation and destruction of the U.S. from within. But that’s okay! Our saboteur “leaders” are getting ever more obscenely rich, stabbing us with their steely knives at every turn, but that’s all that matters, right?

    Always remember, WE work FOR the government and THEIR agenda only, not the other way around.

    I’ve been fairly sick since before Thanksgiving with congestion, coughing, etc. and haven’t gotten to my Christmas cards yet with handwritten messages inside. I was going to ‘do out’ the cards this year, but they’ll be simpler and plainer. Another factor has been cold, rainy weather making trips to Office Depot with photos undesirable. Finally feeling better today. Stay well everyone.

  2. Mom’s favorite fruitcake arrived at our home every year from the Bourbon Institute. I must say, it would be hard to beat!!!!


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