News of the Week: New Books, America’s Best Decade, and the Surprising Importance of Moon Clocks

In the news for the week ending June 7, 2024, are book recommendations, decade recommendations, vintage photo recommendations, and recipes for a delicious black (or brown or purple) cow.


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Read This!

Here are six new books you should buy (and also read):

All Things Are Too Small by Becca Rothfield. The subtitle for this book is “Essays in Praise of Excess,” and the author takes a long look at such topics as Marie Kondo, Cary Grant, Proust, and even the movie Troll 2.

Eruption by James Patterson and Michael Crichton. When Jurassic Park author Crichton died in 2008, he left behind part of a novel about a volcano threatening to destroy Hawaii. Fellow best-selling author Patterson has now finished that novel.

When the Sea Came Alive: An Oral History of D-Day by Garrett M. Graff. The Pulitzer Prize finalist’s ambitious book might just be the most detailed and thorough look at the campaign that secured the Allied victory in World War II.

Farewell, Amethystine by Walter Mosley. This is the latest entry in the Easy Rawlins series, and has the detective taking on a new case as he turns 50 in 1970.

In My Time of Dying by Sebastian Junger. The author of The Perfect Storm explores the ideas of faith, science, and philosophy in telling the story about how he almost died from a stomach aneurysm in 2020.

When Women Ran Fifth Avenue by Julie Satow. This book has a subtitle too, “Glamour and Power at the Dawn of American Fashion,” and describes the golden age of the American department store (Lord & Taylor, Bonwit Teller, and Henri Bendel) and the women who ran them.

Why Haven’t We Sent Clocks to the Moon Yet?

I didn’t even realize that was something we needed to do, but apparently it is!

People Are Opening Video Stores Again

Last month I told you about how typewriter repair places are still around (in fact one near Boston is for sale). Would you believe me if I told you that VHS stores are coming back too? It’s true! Well, at least a few people are opening up stores for family and friends in their basements.

By the way, today is National VCR Day.

What Was America’s Best Decade?

We keep hearing that people want to go back to a time when America was different than it is now. A better, easier time, when everyone got along and we weren’t so divided. But when exactly was that? It varies, depending on who you ask and how old that person is now.

The researchers at decided to see if they could figure it out. They asked 2000 people what they thought was the best decade in various categories, including best economy, best food, best movies, best fashion, best music, most reliable news reporting, least political division, most moral society, and other categories. The Washington Post looked deeper into the numbers and discovered that we consider what the best decade is not by the era, but by what age we were.

That’s not a shock at all. We like different eras/years for different reasons, usually the personal reasons and not the universal ones.

I don’t know what the “best” decade was, but I know it was before social media and when I had a full head of hair.

Pictures of the Week

Shorpy is one of my favorite places online. It’s a site that shows beautiful pictures from the past, many of them personal photos submitted by members.

I decided to do a search to see if any Post-related photos are on the site, and there are several, including this 1941 picture of two women sitting on a couch (one is reading the October 11, 1941, issue of the Post); this 1955 family photo (where you can see a copy of the Post in the magazine rack); and this 1939 photo of a newsstand that displays the November 4, 1939, issue.

RIP Janis Paige, Erich Anderson, Don Perlin, Parnelli Jones, Larry Allen, Terrence Beasor, Jeannette Charles, and Ed Mann

Janis Paige starred in her own CBS sitcom, It’s Always Jan, in 1955-56 and appeared in dozens of other TV shows. On the big screen she was in Silk StockingsPlease Don’t Eat the DaisiesRomance on the High Seas, and Of Human Bondage, and also appeared on Broadway, including in The Pajama Game. She died Sunday at the age of 101.

Erich Anderson appeared on many TV shows, including FelicityNYPD BlueBoschBay City Blues, and NCIS, and in movies like MissingThe Witches of Eastwick, and Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. He died last weekend at the age of 67.

Don Perlin was a comic book artist who created the characters Moon Knight and Bloodshot. He died last month at the age of 94.

Parnelli Jones was a champion race car driver (including the 1963 Indianapolis 500) and the holder of many speed records. He died Tuesday at the age of 90.

Larry Allen was a Hall of Fame offensive lineman who helped the Dallas Cowboys win the Super Bowl in 1996. He died Sunday at the age of 52.

Terrence Beasor played the old neighbor on The Middle (among dozens of other TV roles) and did several voices on many of the Star Trek shows and video games. He died last month at the age of 89.

Jeannette Charles was an actress who portrayed Queen Elizabeth II in movies like The Naked GunNational Lampoon’s European Vacation, and Austin Powers in Goldmember, as well as in TV shows like Saturday Night Live. She died Sunday at the age of 96.

Ed Mann was a percussionist who played on 30 Frank Zappa albums and in live concerts. He also played with Tammy Wynette, Kenny Loggins, Andy Summers, and on film soundtracks. He died last week at the age of 70.

This Week in History

“Ten Cent Beer Night” Chaos (June 4, 1974)

The Cleveland Indians wanted to increase attendance for their game against the Texas Rangers, and it led to a lot of drinking, streaking, fights, and the Indians forfeiting the game. I guess that’s what happens when you sell beers for only ten cents.

D-Day (June 6, 1944)

It’s the 80th anniversary.

Uploaded to YouTube by CBS Evening News

Of course, the Post has has many articles and even a video about D-Day, including this account by General Matthew Ridgway; a look at what was happening the day before D-Day; and historian John McManus on why the day still matters.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: College Graduation by Thornton Utz (June 4, 1960)

Today, everyone in the graduation ceremony audience has a camera.

Monday is National Black Cow Day

Black Cow is a classic diner drink made with root beer, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate syrup, but there are actually several “cow” drinks. A Brown Cow is made with vanilla ice cream, cola, and caramel syrup (though sometimes with chocolate syrup and sometimes with chocolate ice cream); a White Cow goes heavy on the vanilla; and there’s even a Purple Cow, made with grape soda and vanilla ice cream.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Stanley Cup Finals (June 8)

Game one of the Oilers/Panthers series airs Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

French Open Finals (June 8 and 9)

The women’s final airs on NBC Saturday at 9 a.m. and the men’s final airs on Sunday at the same time and place.

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  1. Another good government waste of money and what really would it accomplish by putting a clock on the moon. It’s the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard of and so silly. First of all, who cares? Secondly, who is going to replace the batteries on the clock when they go dead???…Another mission to the moon with a replacement clock???…Another waste taxpayer of taxpayer dollars….Who’s going to change the clock during Fall and Spring time changes??…Another waste of taxpayer dollars to adjust the clock on the moon…This is so ridiculous. So stupid. Who gives a damn?!

    The best decades? Better off the best range of years: 1951 to 1989.

  2. Well, ‘When Women Ran Fifth Avenue’ sounds like an interesting read. I love the great American department store, although I’ve never been in a Lord & Taylor and the others mentioned. Only those in the Los Angeles area where I could go, including Bullock’s Wilshire, I. Magnin, Robinson’s, The Broadway, and Saks 5th Avenue. Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom came later.

    The first 4 are long gone, unfortunately. Macy’s is ‘okay’ but not upscale enough for me to want to spend time in. The dynamics of how women (and men) worked together in this fantasy (and cut throat) business is simply irresistible. Good luck to those selling the VHS tapes per your link. With the LP record revival, I’m not too surprised at this.

    The ‘best decade’ is hard to say. Probably mid-century, 1946-1965. I know that covers 3 decades. But these were the postwar years, when most things (if you were white…) were about as good as it would get, in most ways and categories. 70’s were the first ‘past it’s peak’ decade, but still had enough good offsetting the bad. Probably true through the early 90’s, but after that not so much. Still, even the 2000’s are GREAT compared with the 2020’s!!

    Thanks for the Shorpy link, and the others. I couldn’t really tell it was the Post in the 1941 photo. I was disappointed not to see more copies of it in the newsstand photo. The ‘Ten Cent Beer Night’ chaos was asinine, totally predictable and preventable. What did the ‘organizers’ of that fiasco THINK would happen?!

    Thanks for the D-Day video. It matters more than ever, especially with an administration that wants war now more than just about anything; always looking for it. If not, they’ll provoke one anyway. God knows they can’t do/get anything else right, but they sure know how to do that, don’t they? What else is new?!

    Bob, I think your b-day’s coming up, so make it a good one with one of the Cow drinks you wrote of here. Now I want one myself. The White Cow (vanilla) sounds wonderful.


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