News of the Week: Changing Channels, Harry Houdini, and Goodbye to the World’s Oldest Dog

In the news for the week ending October 27, 2023, are spooky spheres, surprising shipwrecks, and peerless pumpkins.

Harry Houdini in chains, about to jump from Harvard Bridge in Boston, Massachusetts, 1908 (Shutterstock)

Weekly Newsletter

The best of The Saturday Evening Post in your inbox!


Remote Work

They’ve changed the channel numbers again.

The last time this happened was several years ago, when my cable company, Xfinity, created digital HD channels to go along with their analog channels. We had channel 4, the local CBS channel, but the new HD channel was 704. You could still go to channel 4 if you wanted, but everything looked like it was filmed through a dirty windshield.

Then they introduced channel 1004, which was like 704 except…actually, I still don’t know what the difference is. But around this time, if you tried to go to little old channel 4 you no longer could. It now automatically went to channel 704.

And now they’ve changed the channels once again, just when I had them all memorized. Channel 704 is still 704, but MeTV went from 942 to 1180. TV Land went from 68 to 1426. Buzzr used to be 939, but now it’s 1177. I never watch QVC, but it’s now on channel 711, which used to be one of the local PBS stations. For a second, I thought I was going to see Big Bird hawking cookware.

The analog channels? Every single one of them has changed.

According to the TV schedule, the channel numbers now go up to 3802. I might have to write down these new channel numbers and keep the list on the coffee table. I don’t know if I have the energy to memorize them again.

Change is inevitable in life. Sometimes those changes are trivial, sometimes they’re not, and I guess a change in your TV channel lineup would fall into the former category. But we all look for the everyday things that we count on to be consistent, to be reliable, the stuff we don’t have to worry about. When you sit down to watch TV and you see that all of the stations you watch are suddenly hard to find, it disorients you.

I think this is a plot by the cable companies to get us to use their voice-controlled remotes. Sometimes when I press a few buttons on my remote to change a channel – you know, the “old-fashioned way” – a notice pops up in the corner of the screen that says “Next time, try saying CBS into your remote,” as if pressing a few buttons is a chore. DON’T TELL ME HOW TO CHANGE THE CHANNELS, XFINITY!

Remember when we had to actually get off the couch and walk over to the TV to turn it on or adjust the volume and only had 6 or 8 stations to choose from?

1800s Shipwreck Found on Florida Highway

Now that’s something you don’t see every day.

The Pumpkin Carver

This guy is pretty amazing, making faces and scenes out of pumpkins at a level no one reading this would be able to duplicate. And what makes it even more amazing: he’s actually a little allergic to pumpkin.

My favorites are the mean-looking pumpkin and the one where the hand seems to be coming out of the pumpkin’s flesh. It’s like a scene from a horror movie.

Tweet of the Week (Because I Refuse to Call It “X of the Week”)

(If you’re not sure what’s going on here, check out my column from a few weeks ago.)

RIP Richard Roundtree, Carol Buschmann, Betsy Rawls, Haydn Gwynne, Bobby Charlton, Martin Goetz, Elaine Devry, and Bobi

Richard Roundtree was best known for his role in the Shaft films, Man Friday, Inchon, and City Heat, as well as the TV miniseries Roots. He died Tuesday at the age of 81.

Carol Buschmann was a member of The Chordettes, known for such songs as “Mr. Sandman” and “Lollipop.” She died earlier this month at the age of 96.

Betsy Rawls won 55 LPGA championships, including eight majors. She died Saturday at the age of 95.

Haydn Gwynne received a Tony nomination for her role in Billy Elliot The Musical and appeared on such TV shows as The CrownThe WindsorsRomeSherlockMerseybeat, and Peak Practice. She died last week at the age of 66.

Bobby Charlton was a legendary player for England and helped them win the 1966 World Cup. He died Saturday at the age of 86.

Martin Goetz worked on the Univac computer in the 1950s and later received the first patent for computer software. He died earlier this month at the age of 93.

Elaine Devry appeared on such shows as Perry Mason77 Sunset StripDragnet, and Marcus Welby, M.D., as well as movies like The Atomic Kid (with husband Mickey Rooney), A Slight Case of Larceny, and A Guide for the Married Man. She died last month at the age of 93.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Bobi was the world’s oldest dog. He died last week at the age of 31.

This Week in History

Harry Houdini Punched (October 22, 1926)

Did the punch in the stomach from an overzealous college student ultimately lead to the great magician’s death just several days later? Opinions differ.

Theodore Roosevelt Born (October 27, 1858)

Teddy was once a carved pumpkin too.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Budweiser (October 22, 1960)

This was back when you had to open up a can of beer with a can opener (on both sides).

Halloween Recipes

If you’re making something for Halloween, there are two ways you can go. You can just make good food and serve it to party-goers, food that’s not Halloween-specific, or you can make stuff that’s Halloween-themed in looks and/or ingredients. Let’s go with the latter.

For an appetizer, you can try this Taco Graveyard Dip or these Spider Web Deviled Eggs, both from Food Network. For the main course, there’s the Ghostly Pizza from Women’s Day or the Ratloaf from AllRecipes, which is probably in the top ten of the most disgusting-looking food things I’ve ever seen (I mean that in a good way).

For dessert, try the Pumpkin Sugar Cookies, the Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Bars, or the Pumpkin Bread Trifle, all from Real Simple. No carving required.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Mischief Night (October 30)

In some places it’s called Cabbage Night.

All Saints’ Day (November 1) and All Souls’ Day (November 2)

Both All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day have really complex histories.

Become a Saturday Evening Post member and enjoy unlimited access. Subscribe now


  1. Bob, I’m really sorry you’re going through what only can be described as modern TV hell! It’s horrible, and as you mentioned awhile back, we best buy the shows we love most on DVD for a permanent back up. You Tube has been ‘warning me’ for awhile that because I have ‘Adblocker’ I won’t be able to watch YT anymore, OR I can IF I pay $14 per month for YT Premium.

    Sooo, I did the latter and YT ‘came back’. Still, I’m having my computer guy work advise me Monday. It’s the principle more than anything. YT is also getting really neurotic on certain words their algorithm considers ‘inappropriate’, threatening to cancel my access. The word? Ugly. As in I thought most current vehicles were either generic or just plain ugly on Curious Cars. Meanwhile the ‘f’ word apparently is okay in this clown world.

    Love the Pumpkin Carver feature. He’s so good it’s spooky; seriously. I refuse to call Twitter X also. When Prince was the artist formerly known as Prince, it was for legitimate legal reasons; not a billionaire’s ego trip. Thanks for including the ‘Mister Sandman’ link. It sounds better than ever. Mid-century optimism musical perfection.

    I collect beautiful auto and beverage ads, including ones from this Budweiser series. I don’t care for this particular one though. Bobi, the world’s oldest dog. I didn’t think there were dogs still alive from 19 anything now. Maybe some cats. Thanks for giving him a special Post mention for a life well lived, and then some.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *