There are many things in this world we think we can count on. The sun will rise in the east. The checkout line we choose at the supermarket will move the slowest. Adam Sandler will make bad movies. We also know that every Valentine’s Day we’ll see those pastel-colored candy hearts with messages on them.
But that might not be the case anymore.
NECCO, which stands for the New England Confectionary Company, was the oldest continuously operated candy company in the U.S. I say was because it suddenly closed down last week, without any notice, leaving 230 employees without jobs. The company was sold to an unnamed candy company, and the new company hasn’t said whether they’re going to continue candy production. Some employees have actually filed a lawsuit. The NECCO website was still available until very recently, but it seems to have been taken offline.
The company also made NECCO Wafers, a candy I remember from my childhood that is always unfairly maligned. Sure, the black licorice ones were gross — black licorice candy is always gross — but there was something satisfying about having the others melt on your tongue. The company also made Clark Bars, the Sky Bar, Squirrel Nut Zippers, and Mary Janes, my mom’s favorite candy, and for that fact alone I’d like to see the new company rehire all of the employees and continue to make all of the candies. I don’t understand why they wouldn’t want to.
This past week could have been dubbed “Space Week” because there was so much space-related news that I couldn’t keep track of it all. There was the story about NASA’s new spacecraft TESS that is searching for new planets; the news that NASA doesn’t have anything for astronauts to wear if they go back to the moon; and the story about the first eight NASA astronauts that will be flying on Space X and Boeing space missions (hopefully they’ll have something to wear).
And if all that wasn’t enough, it’s also NASA’s 60th anniversary, and the agency made a special video to celebrate the milestone.
Jones, Morris, Hoffman, Thome, Trammell, and Guerrero
That’s not the name of a law firm; it’s the list of the men inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, this past week.
If you’re already wondering who’s going to be on the 2019 ballot, MLB.com has posted its list of potential inductees. You’ll probably see Mariano Rivera but not Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds.
The Answer Is: Who Is Alex Trebek?
I have two questions about this story. The first one is: Why did Alex Trebek give an interview to TMZ’s Harvey Levin, of all people? Trebek told Levin that his contract is up in 2020 and there’s less than a 50/50 chance he’ll actually continue (he’ll be 80). He does offer two suggestions on who should replace him, though. (There was a rumor a few years ago that Matt Lauer might replace Trebek … but that’s not going to happen.)
Oh, the second question I have is this: Since the exclamation point is an official part of the Jeopardy! title, does that mean I need to put an extra exclamation point at the end of the title if the story is exciting or shocking? Like this: “Alex Trebek Might Leave Jeopardy!!”
These are the things that keep me up at night.
WWII Time Capsule Found
Mike Wimberley needs your help.
Wimberley is a contractor who was working on a home in Cleveland when he found a World War II–era time capsule. It was buried by a soldier named Richard Silagy and includes Silagy’s family pictures, his hat, and even an M14 shell.
Wimberley wants to return the time capsule to Silagy’s family. If he can find them, that is. That’s where you come in. Are you related to Silagy or know anyone who is? Wimberley searched on Facebook but so far hasn’t had any luck.
The Ice Cream Man
How long have you been at your job? I don’t know you personally, but I’m going to guess it hasn’t been seven decades.
That’s how long 81-year-old Allan Ganz of Peabody, Massachusetts, has been selling ice cream. Yup, he started when he was just 10, driving around in the ice cream truck with his dad, who also did it for many years. He says he might sell the truck after this summer, but would like to continue to work for the new owner one day a week. After all, selling ice cream is the best job ever.
I think the real story here is that he has listened to that ice cream truck song for 71 years and hasn’t gone mad.
RIP Patrick Williams, Bill Loud, Judith Appelbaum, and Doug Grindstaff
Patrick Williams was a prolific composer for movies and TV shows, including The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, Columbo, Lou Grant, and too many others to mention here. He died last week at the age of 79.
Bill Loud and his family were the stars of one of the first reality shows, PBS’s An American Family. The show was both praised and criticized for its depiction of a real family that always had cameras filming them. He died last week at the age of 97.
Judith Appelbaum wrote one of the classic how-to books for writers, 1978’s How to Get Happily Published. It was the first book I read about becoming a writer. She also wrote for The New York Times Book Review and was managing editor for Publisher’s Weekly. She died last week at the age of 78.
Doug Grindstaff was one of the people who came up with all of the sounds on Star Trek, including the transporter, the phasers, and even the doors opening on the Enterprise. He died last month at the age of 87.
This Week in History
First U.S. Patent Issued (July 31, 1790)
The first patent was issued to a man named Samuel Hopkins, who invented an improvement “in the making of Pot ash and Pearl ash by a new Apparatus and Process.” I don’t know what that is either.
MTV Is Launched (August 1, 1981)
The very first video shown was, appropriately enough, “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles.
This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Dripping Cones (July 29, 1944)
I don’t know why the little girl in this Stevan Dohanos cover thinks she can carry six ice cream cones and get them to her friends across the street before they melt or slip out of her hands. It might make for a fun video game, though — sort of an ice cream–oriented version of Frogger.
Today Is National Watermelon Day
Watermelon is one of those foods that I love but can’t eat any other form of. Meaning, I had a glass of watermelon juice one time and I thought it was rather unenjoyable, even though I’ll eat pieces of watermelon all day long (see also: peas and pea soup).
And if you don’t like watermelon in any form whatsoever, then get out your knife and make one into a keg, a football helmet, or even a shark.
Next Week’s Holidays and Events
Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day (August 8)
I mentioned this last week, and it really is one of the stranger food holidays. It’s a way of getting rid of the massive amounts of zucchini that are grown this time of year. The best time to do it is at night when your neighbor is asleep.
Book Lovers Day (August 9)
If you have any zucchini left after the above celebration, you might as well combine that holiday with Book Lovers Day and buy the cookbook What the #@)*! Am I Going to Do with All These Zucchini???
The popular TV game show Jeopardy! began 2017 with a bit of controversy. For the category “Music and Literature Before and After,” host Alex Trebek offered the answer, “A song by Coolio from Dangerous Minds goes back in time to become a 1667 John Milton classic.” Contestant Nick Spicher was on the right track when he rang in and gave the question, “What is Gangster’s Paradise Lost.”
“Yes,” said Trebek, which added $1,600 to Spicher’s score.
But a few moments later, competition paused and Trebek announced that Jeopardy!’s judges had ruled Spicher’s response incorrect. It should have been “Gangsta’s Paradise Lost.” Spicher’s score dropped $3,200.
Part of the judges’ justification for the ruling was that the Oxford English Dictionary lists separate definitions for gangster and gangsta. And to be fair, that’s how Coolio both spells and pronounces the word in the song. Regardless, Spicher was still triumphant after Final Jeopardy and returned for the next episode.
This isn’t the first time Jeopardy! judges’ pronunciation expectations have cost players chunks of change. In 2015, Rob Russell was ruled incorrect for pronouncing foliage as “foilage.” And just last October, Austin Rogers lost out when he pronounced sherbet as “sherbert,” a pronunciation that is all too common here in the Midwest — and apparently in Rogers’ home state of New York.
If you’re trying to get on the quiz show yourself, the following Jeopardy!-style clues can serve as good practice. Finding the right questions is only the first part — you have to pronounce them correctly, too. (The clues get more difficult as you go along.)
Category: Rock Around the Clock
Except in Arizona and Hawaii, this eight-month-long period will begin on March 11, 2018
What is daylight saving time?
A common mispronunciation is “daylight savings time,” with an unnecessary s. Some even hyphenate the phrase daylight-saving time to make it clearer.
Category: Royal Weddings
Prince William refused to sign this type of legal document to protect his assets in case of divorce before marrying Kate Middleton
What is a prenuptial agreement?
It’s an all-too-common mistake to pronounce nuptial [\NUP-shuhl\ or \NUP-chuhl\] as if it were spelled nuptual — perhaps because a prenuptial agreement is a contractual agreement? Regardless, prenuptial contains only three syllables, though Jeopardy! judges might let you get away with the common two-syllable abbreviation pre-nup.
Anyone can sell a house, but to call yourself this, you must be a member of the N.A.R.
What is a Realtor?
Realtor [\REEL-tuhr\] is a two-syllable word that sometimes gets a superfluous vowel jammed into its pronunciation [incorrect: \REEL-uh-tuhr\]. Likewise, real estate is also known as realty [\REEL-tee\, not \REEL-uh-tee\]. And FYI: The NAR is the National Association of Realtors.
Category: Life Sciences
It’s the branch of biology concerned with the classification, properties, and vital phenomena of animals
What is zoology?
The first syllable of zoology [\zoh-AHL-uh-jee\] is similar in pronunciation to the first syllable of coordinate and cooperate. Don’t pronounce that first syllable like zoo, which is a more recent coinage — an abbreviation of zoological [\zoh-uh-LOJ-ih-kuhl\] garden.
Category: The Winter Olympics
This two-part Olympic competition has its roots in survival skills from snow-covered Scandinavia
Was it the biathlon?
Remember that biathlon [\bahy-ATH-lon\] — the name of the shooting-and-skiing competition — is a three-syllable word. Some people insert an extra vowel sound in there, as if it were spelled biathalon. That extraneous vowel can slip in for a number of athletic terms, including triathlon, decathlon, athlete, and athletic, so watch your tongue.
This Franz von Suppé operetta, today known primarily for its overture, is named for a group of horse-riding soldiers
What is The Light Cavalry?
A slip of the tongue can quickly turn the word cavalry [\KAV-uhl-ree\] into Calvary [\KAL-vuh-ree\], a very different word. The former is a group of mobile soldiers — originally on horseback, but in modern times behind the wheel or in helicopters — and the latter is, in Christian doctrine, the site where Jesus was crucified.
Category: Four Consecutive Consonants
Presidents Lincoln, Garfield, and Cleveland all lost children to this disease also known as “malignant croup”
What is diphtheria?
There should be no P sound when you pronounce this word. The ph in diphtheria [\dif-THEER-ee-uh\] makes an F sound instead. Likewise diphthong [\DIF-thong\].
Category: Cutting Epithets
In the TV Western Maverick, the title character is often accused of being this because he so rarely loses a poker game
What is a cardsharp?
The 1980s-era game show Card Sharks certainly didn’t help people remember that the 19th-century expression for a person who habitually cheats at cards is actually cardsharp, but you can be sure that the Jeopardy! judges know the truth.
Category: HBO Series
The theme song for this comedy about California tech entrepreneurs is called “Stretch Your Face”
What is Silicon Valley?
What a difference an E makes! Silicon [\SIH-lih-kuhn\ or \SIH-luh-kon\] is a common chemical element that is used extensively in computers and electronics; that connection to computers is how the tech hub Silicon Valley got its name. Silicone [sih-lih-KOHN], on the other hand, is a water-resistant polymer used in everything from hydraulic oils to cosmetics to, yes, breast implants.
“JEOPARDY!” is a registered trademark of Jeopardy Productions, Inc.
In 2014, Alex Trebek eclipsed the Guinness record for hosting a game show with his 6,829th appearance. He’s been coming into our living rooms for over three decades. No wonder we think we know the handsome, debonair, and sometimes intimidating host of Jeopardy! The show brought him fame along with an impressive collection of awards, including four Emmys. Off screen, Trebek has found a different kind of enduring success in his marriage to his second wife, Jean, who is a trained spiritual counselor. Two kids and 25 years together seem to have provided the couple’s correct answers.
I’ve known Alex for a long time and while I love to watch him lead contestants through their paces, I’ve seen sides of him other than the persona he projects on TV. That’s probably because, as he told me, “the trick for success for shows like mine is don’t get in the way of the game or the contestants. The focus must never be on you, or the audience will turn against you.”
Jeanne Wolf: What should fans of Jeopardy! know about off-the-set Alex?
Alex Trebek: I’m not going to dispel the notion of viewers that I am this brilliant human being. But the truth is, if I were a contestant I could never get my hand on the button in time. Maybe fans should know I like to fix things around the house when they break and I shop at Home Depot. They should know I am highly competitive, but more with myself than others. I’m always trying to better myself. I try to read more. When I was a kid, I would read and get so excited I just couldn’t wait to get to the next page. Reading a book can provide a level of enjoyment that television can’t seem to do on a regular basis.
JW: On Jeopardy!, you literally hold the answers. Were there times bringing up your son and daughter when you wished you had a pack of cards with the answers to how to be a good parent?
AT: No, I didn’t run into that. My kids figured that dad would know the answer, and most of the time I did.
JW: You speak with great admiration about your wife, Jean. What makes you thrive as a couple?
AT: Viewers of the show have told me that over the past 20 years I have mellowed as a host. My wife has helped to soften me. I try to be more understanding when players make mistakes, to ease the blow for them. I think that’s the main change that my wife has brought about in me. She’s more in tune with the spiritual side of our personalities. I’m not. She says I am, but I deny it. People ask me what guides me. There’s an old saying, I think it’s by Goethe, “If you can dream it, do it, because there is power and glory in doing.” I think that’s it. Dream all you want, but get off your duff and make the effort. Otherwise you could wind up regretting, and no one likes regret. Take a chance and do it. What’s the worst that could happen to you?
An excerpt from our new “Firsthand” column, which premiers in the Jan/Feb 2010 issue of the Post.
I’ve been a know-it-all since I was a kid, but last year I found a way to make it pay.
I’ve watched Jeopardy! for years, calling out my answers to host Alex Trebek, as if he could hear me. My wife, Danielle, watching with me, would sometimes say, “You know, you could clean up on this show.” I shrugged. How do you get on a game show, anyway?
Then one day, Jeopardy! announced an online qualifying test. It seemed like a good opportunity to put up or shut up. I was interested mostly in satisfying my curiosity, and—let’s be honest—in the money, too. So, on the appointed night, I sat at the computer, calm and focused—until the phone rang, dogs started howling outside, and the kids began crawling on my lap. I made a good effort—or tried to. I won’t say I forgot about the test; but I downplayed it ruthlessly and got on with life. Then, two months later, I got an unexpected e-mail: Could I come to Boston for a live tryout in six weeks?
At the audition, everyone was personable and good-looking, while I felt crushingly ordinary in my discount-store necktie and cracked glasses. We all took another quiz, got our pictures taken, then played some practice games. I didn’t freeze up or babble—but neither did I dominate in any way. They thanked us, told us that our applications would be held for up to 18 months, then they let us go. It was late. I raced across town to catch the outbound train back to my family, but missed it. Alone in the empty station with no money to take a cab, I entertained unkind thoughts about Jeopardy!
Spring passed. Summer was a haze of late shifts and reheated dinners. When autumn came, I had not watched Jeopardy! in months. And then, just before Halloween, I got the call inviting me to California as a contestant on the show. Already I was calculating airfares and hotels, thinking, Can I afford to do this?
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