News of the Week: Lost Letters, Roald Dahl, and New (Well, Old) Titanic Footage

In the news for the week ending February 24, 2023, are an official state aroma, TV dinners, a lost-and-found submarine, a laundry hack, and more.


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Random Notes

New Mexico is thinking about becoming the first state with an official state aroma, “green chiles roasting in the fall.” Massachusetts already has an unofficial state aroma, “Dunkin’ Donuts coffee on a cold winter’s morning.”

The next time you complain about the mail taking too long, remember this story about a letter that was mailed in 1916 and finally made it to its destination a couple of years ago.

I took Don Lemon’s advice and used Google. I found out I’m not in my prime either.

If I got this math question when I was in fifth grade, I wouldn’t have made it to the sixth.

Apparently, teenagers don’t want to drive anymore. That’s a very confusing story to me, because when I was a teen it was the thing I couldn’t wait to do.

This great Click Americana feature on TV dinner ads makes me wonder: Are there any meals called “TV dinners” today, or are they all called “frozen meals,” “frozen entrees,” or something equally generic? Why doesn’t Swanson bring back the classic TV dinner, the one with packaging that looked like a TV set? And keep the “TV dinner” name. I don’t want to eat something called a “streaming dinner.”

Now They’re Changing Roald Dahl Books

We’ve seen more and more censorship of books, from both the right and the left, in schools and in communities. The current controversy about Roald Dahl’s works is especially concerning because it has the okay from his estate and his publisher.

“Sensitivity experts” are changing some of the language in Dahl’s books because times have changed and kids can’t handle the words any longer. For example, in The Witches, women were described as “supermarket cashiers” and “letter-writers for businessmen.” Now the women are “top scientists” and “business owners.” In Matilda, a reference to Rudyard Kipling has been changed to Jane Austen (because Kipling has been accused of racism). In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Augustus Gloop is now “enormous” instead of “fat” (someone tell me how that’s better) and Mrs. Twit is no longer “ugly.” And the Oompa Loompas used to be called “small men,” but now they’ll be called “small people.”

Wait a second, as a person who is 5 foot 5 I object to that!

If you like these changes, consider for a moment how this practice could get out of hand, how it could be used against an author you love or even against you. It probably wouldn’t be bad if the publisher made “alternative” versions available for people who want them, but also keep publishing the originals. If I were you, I’d hold on to the old ones you have now or go to your favorite bookstore and try to find them.

If stuff like this continues I might have to change the name of this column. “Week” sounds just like “weak” and I don’t want to imply anything negative about anyone I write about, my coworkers, or my readers.

Back to Titanic

You would think that by 2023 we’d have already seen all of the Titanic footage that could possibly exist. You would think wrong! This footage was taken back in 1986, a year after the ship was found, and has never been released before.

U.S.S. Albacore Found after 79 Years

Keeping with the submerged-vessel-found theme, explorers have finally located the submarine U.S.S. Albacore, which was lost off the coast of northern Japan in November 1944 after striking a mine.

A Laundry Hack

Is it weird that I like to do laundry? I get up around 4 a.m. on Saturdays to do it in the peace and quiet of the dark morning. It calms me, and I like feeling a little bit of accomplishment during the week. (I also like to do dishes.) The Daily Mail has a trick to cut down on your drying time and maybe even save a little money on electricity. It involves a towel.

Have You Done These Things?

Usually these memes give us a list and ask us how many of them we’ve done, not not done, but it looks like this one was created by someone very young. For the record, not only have I done all of these things, I still do six of them every single week.

RIP Richard Belzer, Stella Stevens, Tim McCarver, Barbara Bosson, Donald Spoto, Gerald Fried, Tom Whitlock, and Oliver Wood

Richard Belzer played Detective John Munch not only on Law & Order: SVU and Homicide: Life on the Street, he played him on several other shows, including Law & Order, The Wire, 30 Rock, and The X-Files (he holds the record for appearing on the most shows playing the same character). Before becoming an actor, he was a stand-up comic. He died Sunday at the age of 78.

Stella Stevens appeared in movies like The Nutty Professor, The Poseidon Adventure, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, The Silencers, Too Late Blues, and Girls! Girls! Girls! with Elvis Presley; TV shows like Ben Casey, Bonanza, and Wonder Woman; and many stage plays. She died last week at the age of 84.

Tim McCarver was a catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals and The Philadelphia Phillies. After a 21-year Hall of Fame career, he became an Emmy-winning baseball announcer. He died last week at the age of 81.

Barbara Bosson received several Emmy nominations for her role as Fay Furillo on Hill Street Blues. She got another nomination for Murder One and appeared on such shows as Lois & Clark, Hooperman, and Cop Rock. She died Saturday at the age of 83.

Donald Spoto wrote biographies of many iconic stars, including Alfred Hitchcock, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Laurence Olivier, and Marlene Dietrich. He died last week at the age of 81.

Gerald Fried did music for Star Trek (including the classic music played during fight scenes), as well as Roots, Gilligan’s Island, Mr. Terrific, Riverboat, and The Man From U.N.C.L.E., along with several Stanley Kubrick films. He died last week at the age of 95.

Tom Whitlock started as a movie sound engineer and went on to write many songs, including “Danger Zone” and “Take My Breath Away” for Top Gun. He died last week at the age of 68.

Chuck Jackson had a hit with the Burt Bacharach/Bob Hilliard song “Any Day Now.” He died last week at the age of 85.

Oliver Wood was the cinematographer on such films as the Bourne franchise, Die Hard 2, Rudy, and Face/Off, as well as the TV show Miami Vice. He died last week at the age of 80.

This Week in History

Pluto Discovered (February 18, 1930)

Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh found it, and if you’re wondering where we are on the whole “is Pluto a planet” debate, it is now considered a dwarf planet.

George Washington Born (February 22, 1732)

CBS Sunday Morning had an interesting feature about the Washington Monument, which celebrates its 175th anniversary this year.

Uploaded to YouTube by CBS Sunday Morning

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Philco Washer/Dryer Ad (February 20, 1960)

When I first heard of the washer/dryer combo a few years ago, I thought it was fairly new technology, but apparently it has been around a while. By the way, $329 in 1960 equals $3,321 today.

How to Make Your Own TV Dinners

I don’t know if you can call these “TV dinners” if they don’t include that square dessert that’s hard to get out of the tray because it sticks to the sides, but you can make your own meals by following the instructions at The Busy Budgeter. Or you can do what The Yummy Muffin does and make healthy TV dinners ahead of time. If you really want to go all out and make something that looks just like a TV dinner, complete with the silver trays and everything, check out this at The Los Angeles Times.

I didn’t even know you could purchase TV dinner trays, but you can! You can get the inexpensive kind or go all out and get the reusable stainless steel ones.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Carpe Diem Day (February 26)

“Carpe Diem” means “Seize the Day,” so Carpe Diem Day is Seize the Day Day.

Peace Corps Week (February 26-March 4)

It commemorates the day (March 1, 1961) that President Kennedy established the agency.

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  1. I like paper maps, they allow you to see the big picture, mark familiar spots (for gas, hotels and sights), and I can fold them and put them away for future trips (which I hav done many times).

    I also think politically correcting versions of books is an abomination! Literature is literature (whether it be Shakespeare or Ian Fleming, or anyone else) and should remain as the author intended.

    By the way, the stainless steel reusable trays were also (and still maybe) used in Marine Corps boot camp.

  2. The price for that washer/dryer is pretty outrageous translated into the 2023 cost. I wonder how well they sold back then. Bob Jr., that encounter you had with the elderly lady was wonderful! I laughed out loud at what she said, and how she said it. Very kind of you to help her out and mention the Post to her. I’m sure she will call and subscribe because of you. Her response of not knowing it was published is very typical of most people. Smart to just focus on the current format of the last decade.

    As far as the car goes, they are rare now of at least 47 years old. My parents had the 1973 Chevrolet Kingswood Estate version with that beautiful curved glass at the rear portion. I wish I had it today, even just for sentimental reasons. I never see any of them by the other divisions either anymore, just today’s ugly SUV’s.

  3. As for the stainless steel reusable TV trays, aren’t those called prison meal trays? Not that I would know personally, just asking for a friend.

  4. Censoring books, and that’s what is being done by changing words, should be a crime. Authors take great care in choosing their words carefully, and most certainly reflect the thinking in their time, so how can you appreciate the nuances of words when some prissy, fussy critics decide they know better? Let’s start in the beginning with truth.

  5. Sheesh, ditto on the Myspace and AOL. That was before I started using computers. My husband liked to do a little “coding” on our first one and had me do it for him since I could touch type faster than him (yeah, typing class) and I learned to used the very, very early internet. I still collect CD’s and DVD’s, lol. Used all those early gadgets partly because my kids did and still have some floppy discs I need to clean off, which requires getting a reader for them. Grew up with a rotary phone, telephone book and learned to read paper maps, fortunately. Ugh, now I feel so old.

  6. Well, there should finally be snow up in your section of the country now, right? There’s a heatwave in the South I heard. My state’s a mess with relentless rain and fierce winds on top of being a mess otherwise. Earlier this week it was still nice out, and I was in the Gelson’s parking lot walking back to my car, when I saw an 80-something lady getting ready to load her groceries into this wonderful old station wagon, and complimented her on it.

    It was a blue ’75 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight with the (1971-’76 full-size GM wagon) ‘clamshell’ tailgate. She was smoking, but the light wind was blowing north fortunately. She smiled and said startlingly loud: “SHE’s AN OLD GIRL HONEY, BUT GOD SHE’s BEEN A LOYAL GIRLFRIEND THROUGH THICK AND THIN, NOT LIKE MY HUSBAND WAS!” This was followed by some cackling, and my offer to help her get the bags into the back, which I did.

    I told her about The Saturday Evening Post and she really lit up–as in happy. She thought it had been gone for many years, and I told her it had a beautiful reinvention 10 years ago and comes out every other month. She said “I love it already!” and asked where she could buy it, and I said it’s by subscription only which keeps costs down. I then gave her the (800) number, that she just needs to have her debit card handy, and that’s it.

    SEE! This is why it’s good to have a pen and paper handy at all times. She said I ‘made her week’, then soon I helped her back that huge, wonderful land yacht out safely and she took off. (I HATE parking lots. I try to pull forward if there’s an open space to do so, OR back in.)

    So the libtards are after Roald Dahl’s books now. Not surprised. THEY’RE the ones upset over it, not young children; give me a break. Where’s their upset over giving billions and billions to Ukraine unaccounted for, a President over there now to run away from the Ohio disaster. No help, no nothing for the U.S. and our citizens, ever!

    Leave the books alone. In future printings of them they can have a disclaimer page at the beginning of the book, without altering it otherwise. I can’t even imagine a teacher reading her 5th grade students ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’ and ‘Huckleberry Finn’ like mine did years ago. No one had a problem with it!

    There’s enough to genuinely be upset over, like Klaus Schwab and un-elected World Economic Forum billionaires calling the shots on everything. Watch REDACTED on Rumble to learn what the mainstream media won’t tell you. So much of this b.s. is intentional distraction as everything being taken away from us is well under way.


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