News of the Week: Super Bowl Ads, Snowplows of Minnesota, and 60 Years of The French Chef

In the news for the week ending February 17, 2023, are funny ads, funny names, French food, and more.


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First, an Explanation

I hadn’t planned on writing about the Super Bowl commercials this week — they’re already old news the day after they air — but a few of them concerned topics that would fit in nicely with this column even if it wasn’t Super Bowl week, so let’s talk about them.

The Last Blockbuster

The best Super Bowl ad didn’t even run during the game. It’s from the people who run the very last Blockbuster in the world in Bend, Oregon, and you could have gone to see the ad at their store. On VHS of course! Luckily for us they put it online.

You Say That Like It’s a Good Thing

If there’s one type of ad I love, it’s an ad for smartphones (we need a special font just for sarcasm)! There was a commercial for the new Google Pixel, and the feature they hyped was the phone’s ability to erase stuff that we don’t want to see in the pictures we take, like a stranger in the background photobombing the pic or a stray animal or something else that “ruins” the photo.

It’s the type of technology that makes you say “wow, that’s cool!” and then “wait … that’s awful” if you think about it for a second.

This is where I would usually put in a disclaimer like, “while I can see a need to erase part of a photo if …,” but I actually can’t think of a situation where you would want to erase a portion of a photo. Some kid making a face in the background of a photo? That’s funny! Why would you want to erase that? A dog doing his business in the background of your cute family winter portrait? That’s funny too!

Old boyfriend in the photo? Every time you look at that “fixed” photo you’re going to remember that he used to be right next to you anyway, so you might as well just delete it (and take new ones with your new boyfriend).

I don’t think we should erase parts of our lives. As was said in that wise folk song, “You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both, and there you have the facts of life.” I see too much technology that allows us to do “perfect” and “curate” our lives now. And can you imagine the evil political ways in which this tech could be used to fool people, countries, the media?

Thank You, Canada?

Another commercial, for Crown Royal, featured Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, who extolled the virtues of Canada and everything that was invented by our neighbors to the north. I knew about poutine and Celine Dion, but we also have them to thank for peanut butter, the egg carton, the battery, and American football? The last happens to be true. As for the others, you can take their word for it (or use Google and Wikipedia; that’s what they’re for). Here’s the ad.

Snowplow Names Are a Thing Now

I don’t know when this started, but cities now give names to their snowplows. Most of the suggestions come from kids and other citizens. Boston has Sled Zeppelin and Sherlock Snowmes, Chicago has Sears Plower and Da Plow, and now Minnesota has some new plows too. They include Clearopathra, Sleetwood Mac, and Better Call Salt.

Those are great names, but since it’s Minnesota, they could have gone with Sled Baxter or Lake Snowbegone.

RIP Raquel Welch, Hugh Hudson, Huey “Piano” Smith, Ted Bell, Trugoy the Dove, Jean Anderson, Solomon Perel, Eugene Lee, Bob Orben, and Chris Browne

Raquel Welch appeared in a number of classic films, including Fantastic Voyage, The Three Musketeers, One Million Years B.C., Fathom, Kansas City Bomber, The Last of Shield, and Hannie Caulder, as well as on TV shows like Seinfeld, Bewitched, Mork & Mindy, and American Family. She died Wednesday at the age of 82.

Welch was one of the icons featured in our special issue The Golden Age of Hollywood.

Hugh Hudson directed the Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire. He also helmed Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes and other films. He died last week at the age of 86.

Huey “Piano” Smith was a New Orleans music legend whose songs, including “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu” and “Sea Cruise,” Would be recorded by just about everybody. He died Monday at the age of 89.

Ted Bell was one of the top people in advertising — he worked with Miller Lite, Marlboro, Heinz, and other famous brands — who later became a writer of novels. He wrote the Alex Hawke books, a series about a British spy. He died last month at the age of 76.

Trugoy the Dove — real name David Jude Jolicoeur — was one of the founders of the popular hip-hop group De La Soul. He died last week at the age of 54.

Jean Anderson wrote several cookbooks, including the 1,300-page classic The Doubleday Cookbook and The American Century Cookbook. She got her start working in the test kitchen of Ladies Home Journal and contributed to Bon Appétit. She died last month at the age of 93.

Solomon Perel escaped death in a prison camp by posing as a Nazi. His story was the basis for the critically acclaimed film Europa, Europa. He died earlier this month at the age of 97.

Eugene Lee was the Emmy-winning set designer for Saturday Night Live from its first show in 1975 until this season. He was also a Broadway set designer, winning Tonys for Sweeney Todd, Wicked, and Candide. He died last week at the age of 83.

Bob Orben not only wrote jokes for people like Jack Paar, Red Skelton, and Dick Gregory, he also wrote them for politicians like President Gerald Ford and Barry Goldwater. He also wrote a regular column for Parade and several joke books. He died earlier this month at the age of 95.

Chris Browne was the cartoonist who took over the Hägar the Horrible comic strip from his father in 1988. He died last week at the age of 70.

This Week in History

The French Chef Premieres (February 11, 1963)

Three different pilots for the Julia Child cooking show were filmed in 1962 before the series began the following year. It was filmed at WGBH in Boston and ran for 10 seasons.

Lewis Lapham wrote a piece for the Post in 1964 titled “Everybody’s in the Kitchen with Julia,” and you can watch selected episodes at the PBS site and on Pluto TV.

Chuck Yeager Born (February 13, 1923)

The man with the right stuff was one of the pilots featured in the Post’s July 1, 1950 feature “They Fly Our X-Ships.”

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Party after Snowfall (February 12, 1955)

Looks like a snowplow blocked these cars in. Maybe its name was Norman Rocksalt?

Cook Like Julia!

Julia was probably most famous for her Beef Bourguignon, but you can also make her Quiche Lorraine, Coq au Vin, a Crépe Suzette, and her Chocolate Mousse.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Presidents Day (February 20)

I can never remember if it’s Presidents’ Day, Presidents Day, or President’s Day.

Mardi Gras (February 21)

You get a bonus recipe this week, for the classic Mardi Gras dessert King Cake. It’s probably the only recipe that lists “one miniature baby” as an ingredient.

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  1. Super Bowl LVII was actually a really good game, and even the so=so ads were okay. It’s a low bar now, but I liked the Dunkin’ ad with Ben Affleck working the drive-thru window, Weather Tech-made in America, and the Amazon one of getting a puppy pal for the older dog. I thought it might have had a different ending.

    The Google Pixel ad has the potential for some good, but probably more bad. Speaking of Canada in the next paragraph, I wonder if anyone’s thought of how to make Justin Trudeau disappear?

    I’m still shocked and saddened Raquel Welch has passed away. Thank you for the ‘Golden Age of Hollywood’ link here, that includes comments from several years ago. I don’t have anything further to add other than it’s timely seeing the book included with this week’s Saturday selections. The Post editors did a beautiful job in creating it.

    ‘Snow blocked cars’ is not a Rockwell; Bob’s pulling your leg implying so. It IS a huge mess. Depending on the curve (we don’t see) I’m not sure how even the front car will get out of there; that is if it will even start!

  2. The naming of snowplows started in MN about 4 or 5 years ago. They held a contest for the naming the plows. Many of the suggestions were quite good. And other towns and cities got in on it. I believe this supposedly started in England (I could look it up but I will leave that to you and your readers).

  3. I have to say, Bob Sassone is my kind of guy!
    I like/agree with pretty much everthing he writes!


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