News of the Week: Bud Collins, Carbohydrates, and Casper the Friendly Ghost (Octopus)

RIP Nancy Reagan, George Martin, and Bud Collins

Nancy Reagan
U.S. National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons

So much has already been said about former First Lady Nancy Reagan, who died earlier this week at the age of 94, that I’m not going to repeat it. But Reagan did appear in the pages of The Saturday Evening Post many times over the years, including on the cover of our October 1985 issue. You can also view a gallery of photos from our 2004 memorial to Ronald Reagan.

I didn’t know that CNN’s Anderson Cooper was such a good friend of Nancy Reagan’s, as was his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt.

Producer George Martin was dubbed “The Fifth Beatle” because his work contributed to the sound and to the success of The Fab Four as much as what John, Paul, George, and Ringo did. Martin passed away Tuesday at the age of 90. The Beatles appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post in 1964 — one of the greatest pictures of the group I’ve ever seen — and SEP Archives Director Jeff Nilsson writes about why The Beatles weren’t just a passing fad, even if early critics did hate them.

Other than the players themselves, there was no better ambassador to tennis than Bud Collins. Actually, strike that. Even if you count players, Collins was still the biggest promoter of the sport. He didn’t just cover tennis, it was a part of who he was. Known for the bow ties and wildly colorful pants he would often wear, Collins wrote about tennis for The Boston Globe starting in 1963, wrote Bud Collins’ Tennis Encyclopedia, was a member of the teams that covered tennis for NBC and ESPN for many years, and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1994. In 2015, the press center at the U.S. Open Tennis Center in Flushing Meadow, New York, was renamed the Bud Collins U.S. Open Media Center in his honor.

Collins passed away at his home in Massachusetts last Friday. He was 86.

There was another death this week, but you might not recognize the name. It was Ray Tomlinson, the man credited with inventing e-mail back in 1971 when he was working on the ARPANET, which later became the system we now know as the Internet. When asked why he chose the @ symbol for e-mails, Tomlinson simply said it “just makes sense.” It makes sense for Twitter, too, as that same symbol is part of everyone’s Twitter handle.

And while we’re talking about e-mail, can we all agree that it’s e-mail and not email? It stands for electronic mail, and that dash needs to be there, doesn’t it?

[Editor’s note: SEP house style calls for the use of the unhyphenated email that Mr. Sassone dislikes. It is only begrudgingly that we allow Mr. Sassone this aberration from house style.]

Carbohydrates: The New Cigarettes?

Every day we hear about some food or drink that isn’t good for us. This week we found out that the thing that’s making us unhealthy is … well, most of the foods we eat.

For the past several years, we’ve been told that eating too many carbs — from pasta, rice, pretzels, potatoes, white flour, and sugar — can be as bad for us as foods high in fat and calories. But here’s a new twist: Those same foods might even be so bad for us they can give us lung cancer. According to studies at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, a diet of foods high in the glycemic index can trigger higher levels of blood sugar and insulin, which then increases the level of insulin-like growth factors. Studies on different groups showed that the people who ate a diet of high GI foods had a 49% increase in the possibility of developing lung cancer. This is all just a scientific way of saying that if you eat a lot of white bread, you’re going to die.

Okay, that’s an exaggeration. But it wouldn’t hurt you to eat a carrot once in a while.

Dancing with the Stars Cast Announced

I’m not a reality TV show fan, and I don’t like to write about them often, but since Dancing with the Stars is more of a fun, celebrity-oriented reality competition show — and no one is eating bugs or throwing chairs at one another — I can make an exception. And as a bonus, this season’s cast has a connection to the presidential election!

The new cast includes former Facts of Life star Kim Fields; football players Doug Flutie, Antonio Brown, and Von Miller; Fuller House star Jodie Sweetin; The O.C.’s Mischa Barton; deaf America’s Next Top Model winner Nyle DiMarco; Wanya Morris from Boyz II Men; Fox News’s Geraldo Rivera; mixed martial artist Paige VanZant; and Good Morning America meteorologist Ginger Zee.

Oh, that election connection? Marla Maples will compete, too. She was married to Donald Trump from 1993 to 1999. I’m sure that having her on the show during this election year is a total coincidence.

If Our Bodies Could Talk

If our bodies could talk, they’d probably say, “Stop eating a lot of carbs and eat a carrot once in a while!” Of course, our bodies can’t talk, but Dr. James Hamblin can talk for them. He’s the host of one of the very best video series on the web right now, titled (you guessed it) If Our Bodies Could Talk, over at The Atlantic.

Hamblin covers a lot of ground, from the very serious (like a quest to find the cure for serious diseases) to more fun (yet still helpful) segments on how some companies let you work remotely via robot double, how to cure a hangover, how to cook a real chicken nugget, and why you should never tell someone how old they look. And as you might have noticed from the videos, that segment has special significance for Hamblin.

And The New Host of America’s Test Kitchen Is …

Last year, we told you that Christopher Kimball, host of the PBS cooking shows America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country, couldn’t come to an agreement with the new people in charge and would be leaving the shows after their 2016 seasons (and the cooking magazines, though he will continue to do the weekly radio show). Now comes word that the new hosts have been named for America’s Test Kitchen, and regular viewers will recognize them. Cooks Julia Collin Davison and Bridget Lancaster will now take over as co-hosts.

This is a smart idea. Kimball is loved by fans, and a completely brand new host probably wouldn’t have been greeted too kindly. It will be good to see familiar faces at the helm. A new host for Cook’s Country hasn’t been named yet.

What’s White, Has 8 Arms, and is Currently Freaking Out Scientists?

There’s an old piece of wisdom that says we know more about outer space than we do about what’s going on deep in the ocean. I don’t know how that can possibly be true, but I think about that every time I read a story where scientists have found a bizarre new creature in the water.

This small octopus, probably a new species, was found at 4,290 meters in the Hawaiian Archipelago. It has only one row of suckers, the body is different from most octopuses, and it has such a white, ghostly look to it that it has been nicknamed “Casper.”

National Potato Chip Day


Sure, you could just buy a bag of Lay’s to celebrate this Monday, but can’t we do a lot better than that? How about making your own rippled potato chips? Or how about these potato chip–crusted chicken tenders?

And if you insist on just ripping open a bag of chips, the least you could do is take the time to make a dip, like the classic Lipton onion dip that’s been around for decades and remains one of best.

Upcoming Events and Anniversaries

U.S. Army creates K-9 Corps (March 13, 1942)

The National Police Dog Foundation helps to educate the public about police dogs and helps with the training and purchase of dogs.

FBI launches 10 Most Wanted List (March 14, 1950)

The list started in 1949 after a conversation between FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and International News Service Editor-In-Chief William Kinsey led to an article about the “toughest guys” the FBI was trying to capture at the time.

Beware the Ides of March! (March 15)

What exactly are “The Ides of March” and why should we fear them?

March Madness begins (March 15)

If you’re obsessed with the annual NCAA basketball tourney, here’s a complete schedule of which games will be played where.

St. Patrick’s Day (March 17)

You can celebrate the day by making Rachel Allen’s Irish Apple Cake or making this clever shamrock bookmark.

News of the Week: Maher’s Remarks, Murray’s Christmas, and a Memento Remake Nobody Asked For

Stephen Colbert vs. Bill Maher

You ever watch an interview on TV that makes you squirm a little bit? I don’t mean on the cable news networks, where arguments can sprout like mold on an old bagel. I mean on a show where you don’t expect to see something uncomfortable. You’re looking for laughs and skits and music and you get a serious discussion.

That’s what happened on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Monday. Colbert had Real Time host Bill Maher on his show, and along with the laughs there was a sense of realistic tension too. And this wasn’t one of those fake things, like when David Letterman conducted that weird interview with Joaquin Phoenix that turned out to be a prank. This was a nuanced, realistic kind of tension. Here’s the entire interview, including footage not shown on TV because of time restraints:

It starts amiably enough, but then about two minutes in Maher makes a comment about Nixon being the type of person Colbert would have voted for, and it’s odd from there. Though Colbert remains amiable enough throughout the entire interview, and it’s not the type of wall-to-wall tension where you think they hate each other, you can see Colbert disagrees with Maher on a few things, including religion. It’s almost as if you can look inside Maher’s brain and see he’s thinking, “But Stephen, you’re liberal! How can you believe in God and be serious about religion?!” You can also see that Maher wasn’t particularly thrilled when, at the very end of the interview, Colbert takes over the bit and Maher doesn’t get to finish his joke.

The interview has a lot more bleeps than you’ll usually see on television. But isn’t it interesting that Colbert’s Comedy Central show moved over to CBS largely intact? There’s a lot more political humor and serious discussion of current events than I thought would happen when Colbert took over for Letterman, and when you have that you get nights like this.

By the way, at the start of this episode, Colbert’s band, Jon Batiste and Stay Human, performed the French National Anthem as a tribute to France and the people lost in the terror attacks last week (and we send our thoughts out to the victims and their families as well):

A Very Murray Christmas

Netflix has released the trailer for their new Bill Murray holiday special A Very Murray Christmas, which debuts on December 4. It features a cast list that can only be described as “irreverently epic”: George Clooney, Amy Poehler, Jason Schwartzman, Miley Cyrus, Rashida Jones, Michael Cera, Paul Shaffer, Chris Rock, and Maya Rudolph. How is Tina Fey not in this?

Judging from the trailer, A Very Murray Christmas serves as both the title and also a description of what the special will be like:

These Are a Few of Oprah’s Favorite Things

Every year Oprah Winfrey gives us her list of Favorite Things. This year she’s teaming up with Amazon.

I won’t list of all of the things that she likes that most of us wouldn’t want to spend money on (Okay, I’ll mention one — the rose gold iPhone 6s for $839.00), but there are some nice gifts here, including some that, oh, I don’t know, you might want to buy for a Saturday Evening Post columnist. I mean, who wouldn’t want an Elvis cake?

And This Is One of My Favorite Things

<em>Mad Men Carousel</em> by Matt Zoller Seitz
Mad Men Carousel by Matt Zoller Seitz

TV criticism — and I can say this because I’ve been doing it for 21 years — is often terrible. The writing is terrible, the observations are weak or obvious, and if you read enough of it you realize that just because there’s more of it doesn’t mean it’s better (we’re currently drowning in TV reviews and “hot takes”). But when TV criticism is done right, when it’s done by a good writer who not only loves television but can write about it with a mixture of wit and thoughtfulness, it can not only be important, it can rise to the level of art.

And that’s what you’ll find in the new book Mad Men Carousel by Vulture writer and editor Matt Zoller Seitz. Matt’s one of the best critics around today, and this book is filled with his perceptive, detailed reviews of every single episode of the show, along with a historical time line of things mentioned throughout the show’s run, poems by Martha Orton at the start of each season, and some great illustrations by Max Dalton.

This book is not only the perfect gift for the Mad Men fan on your Christmas list, I think that Lionsgate and Abrams Books should make some deal to make sure it’s included with every single Mad Men complete series DVD set that is sold.

Wait. Did I mention above that I wanted an Elvis cake? I meant to say the Mad Men complete series DVD set. (And an Elvis cake.)

Christopher Kimball Has Left America’s Test Kitchen

Christopher Kimball
Glenn Dettwiler [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Imagine O, The Oprah Magazine without Oprah. Imagine Turner Classic Movies without Robert Osborne. Or imagine The Daily Show without Jon Stewart (and judging by viewer reaction to new host Trevor Noah a lot of people don’t want to). That’s how I feel about Christopher Kimball leaving the company he founded and the company’s magazines, including Cook’s Illustrated. Kimball couldn’t come to an agreement on a new contract with the new people in charge at Boston Common Press, so he’s out. Kimball will also be giving up his hosting duties on the TV cooking shows America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country (Kimball will still be seen as host of the 2016 seasons of the shows because production has already finished on them).

And to drive home the fact that this move is EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY, Kimball’s blog is already gone from the America’s Test Kitchen Feed site.

There are plenty of talented cooks on the TV shows, and they’ll probably find a new host that’s “fine,” but it’s going to be very, very weird not to have Kimball as host. He set the tone and the style for the show. You think of the show, and he’s the person on it you think of. You can’t just throw a bow tie on someone else. It just won’t be the same.

Memento Is Being Remade, For Some Reason

You ever notice that books don’t get rewritten? You never see a publishing company issue a press release that says they’ve hired a writer to rewrite A Tale of Two Cities or The Great Gatsby or The Bonfire of the Vanities. Sure, there might be other books in a series featuring the same characters or sequels or prequels or new writers hired to continue a series after an author dies, but you never hear a publishing company say they’re going to remake a novel.

I know I went off on a little tangent there, but it’s just my way of saying that doing a remake of Memento is a really dumb idea.

Thanksgiving Recipes

Spirtz Cookies
Spirtz Cookies

If you wanted to eat what was served at the first Thanksgiving, you could have clams, venison, mussels, and plums. But it’s 2015 and we have a lot more options than they had in 1621. Besides, try explaining to your family that, hey, this year, instead of turkey, we’re having boiled eel!

If you want a one-stop for all of your Thanksgiving cooking needs, you probably can’t do better than The New York Times’ Thanksgiving headquarters. You’ll not only find recipes there, but also a complete guide on how to plan the day and how to not freak out during that planning. But I’d also add some recipes from The Saturday Evening Post archives, including Red Rice Stuffing with Dried Fruit, a Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake with Spiced Glaze, and Spritz Cookies.

You could also be like Marilyn Monroe. Cooking-wise, anyway. Here’s her recipe for stuffing that was found among her personal letters. If the instructions are a little confusing the New York Times made it and lists the ingredients and instructions on their site a little more clearly. Note: There’s no eel in it.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Upcoming Events and Anniversaries

President Kennedy assassinated (November 22, 1963)

There are approximately 3,000 different theories on the assassination, and Newsweek has a terrific, detailed piece on what happened that day.

Boris Karloff born (November 23, 1887)

The voice of The Grinch also made a mean guacamole dip you might want to try this holiday season.

Lee Harvey Oswald killed (November 24, 1963)

Millions of people watched Oswald get shot by Jack Ruby on national television.

Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species published (November 24, 1859)

You can read the entire text of the groundbreaking book for free at

National Hockey League is formed (November 26, 1917)

The NHL replaced the NHA, the National Hockey Association.

Thanksgiving (November 26)

You can start the day by watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the rest of the day watching marathons of your favorite shows.