News of the Week: Black Friday, White Christmas, and the Many Joys of the Moist Maker

At Some Stores, It Actually Started Last Night

I don’t believe in Black Friday. I mean, I believe it exists. I’m not crazy, and I’ve seen all of the “pre-Black Friday sale” commercials. I just don’t think anyone should participate. Why stand in line with 1,000 other people just to save 40 percent on a toaster? You can always wait to buy the items (or buy them earlier than today), and there’s this thing called the internet where you can get all of the things you’re going to buy today (like, ahem, a new subscription to the Post), often at the same discount or even more.

If you do feel like shopping today, here are some tips for getting the best deals with the least amount of hassle. And don’t forget that this Monday is Cyber Monday, the day when many sites have big deals. By the way, when did the word cyber come back in vogue? I thought that went out with information superhighway.

If you’re feeling like a rebel, please note that today is also Buy Nothing Day. But I’d bet few people are going to celebrate it.

Christmas TV

Christmas season has begun, which means that Christmas TV season has also begun.

This amazing site has a really great list of all the Christmas specials and holiday movies that are coming up from now until New Year’s Day. So if you’re into movies like White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life or animated specials like Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer and A Charlie Brown Christmas, you’ll find it on the list. It even lists Christmas-themed episodes of TV shows, everything from ER and Friends to Father Knows Best and The Equalizer. You can even find out where you can watch classic Christmas specials from Bing Crosby, Perry Como, and Judy Garland.

I’ve looked at the schedule, and I’ve also done a search on some TV listing sites, and I don’t see Miracle on 34th Street at all. Seriously? I guess that’s why God invented DVDs.

Superman for Sale

I wasn’t a big comic book collector when I was a kid. I had some — I was into Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man — but I never thought about them enough to actually “collect” them. I had some in my attic, and once in a while I wonder if I ever owned anything that would go for a lot of money today. I never had the one where Superman made his first appearance though. I’d remember that.

That’s Action Comics #1, and it’s a rare, expensive thing, especially if it’s in fine to mint condition. One of them is going up for auction at Profiles in History in Los Angeles. It sold for 10 cents in 1938 and it could go for up to $1.2 million. It would make a great Christmas gift for the superhero fan in your family.

Maybe I should go back to my old house and check the attic. I’m sure the current occupants won’t mind.

Your NPR Name

There’s another meme (pronounced “meem”) going around the web — one of those things that passes from one person to another that everyone contributes to. This one is your National Public Radio name. Here’s how you do it: it’s a name that was popular in the 1880s–90s plus something that is being made obsolete by either global warming or the internet.

Mine is Clarence Brick and Mortar Stores.

RIP David Cassidy, Malcolm Young, Della Reese, and Mel Tillis

Four stars of the music world died this week.

David Cassidy was the lead singer of the Partridge Family on the 70s sitcom of the same name. He had one of the great voices in pop history, on songs like “I Think I Love You,” “Echo Valley 2-6809,” “I’ll Meet You Halfway,” and “Point Me In The Direction of Albuquerque,” and the group of studio musicians that played on the songs were first-rate. Cassidy died Tuesday at the age of 67.

Malcolm Young was a guitarist and founding member of the rock group AC/DC, known for such songs as “Highway to Hell,” “You Shook Me All Night Long,” and “Back in Black.” He died Saturday at the age of 64.

Della Reese started as a singer in churches and later with Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, and many others. She then became an actress and appeared in many movies and TV shows, including a starring role on Touched ban AngelReese died Sunday at the age of 86.

Mel Tillis was known for his stutter, which didn’t affect his singing of country songs like “Southern Rain” and “Good Woman Blues.” He was also a songwriter, penning songs for Kenny Rogers, George Strait, and many others. He died Sunday at the age of 85.

The Best and Worst of the Week

A new feature of Week in Review, where I pick two things that particularly stood out the past week, one good and one bad.

The Best: I have a confession to make. I haven’t watched 60 Minutes that much in the past several years. Not that it isn’t a great show — it’s still the best newsmagazine on television — but the main reason I tuned in, the main reason a lot of people tuned in, was for Andy Rooney’s essay at the end. The show isn’t the same without him. So imagine the happy surprise fans had when they tuned into last Sunday’s episode and saw Rooney at the end of the show again! They replayed his essay on Thanksgiving, and I really hope it’s just the first of many returns that Rooney will make to the show.

The Worst: This also involves Rooney. Charlie Rose had Jeff Fager, longtime producer of 60 Minutes, on his PBS show. He was on for the entire hour, plus 15 minutes of the next episode, and they talked about every single contributor to 60 Minutes over the past 50 years. They talked about Mike Wallace and Morley Safer and Lesley Stahl, even Anderson Cooper and Oprah Winfrey and David Martin. Guess who they didn’t mention at all, not even in a quick, passing reference?

Andy Rooney.

Can you believe that? I was stunned. It was like watching a documentary on the Boston Red Sox and they mention all the players except Ted Williams. Rooney was arguably the most beloved person on the show for many decades, and he doesn’t get a mention? Very odd.

To make up for it, here’s an interview we did with Rooney in 1984.

This Week in History

First Appearance of Tweety Bird (November 21, 1942)

No, not that tweety bird, I’m talking about the little yellow bird from Warner Brothers cartoons. He (and yes, it is a he) made his first appearance in 1942’s “A Tale of Two Kitties.”

President Kennedy Assassinated (November 22, 1963)

This week, more of the previously unreleased files on the assassination were made public by the National Archives. The director of our own archive, Jeff Nilsson, has a nice retrospective on the many articles we’ve had on Kennedy over the years.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Eavesdropping on Sis (November 19, 1949)

George Hughes
Eavesdropping on Sis
November 19, 1949

This scene by George Hughes is probably alien to many young people. Just one phone in the house, and it’s attached to the wall by a wire? That’s barbaric! But older people remember. I recall fondly the big, heavy black rotary phone we had in the corner of the kitchen. If you wanted to talk to your friends (or that girl you liked from school) on the phone, you had to do it there, in a high-traffic area. Now kids have their own phones and parents don’t know what’s going on.

This cover is actually one of three “eavesdropping” covers that Hughes did for the Post.

What to Do with Thanksgiving Leftovers


You probably have turkey and other foods in your fridge right now. My leftovers plan is pretty simple: I make sandwiches. I don’t make turkey soup or turkey casserole; I just heat up the turkey and stuffing and make big sandwiches. Also: reheated mashed potatoes taste funny to me.

Beyond sandwiches, here’s a recipe for Turkey Pumpkin Chili you might want to try. You get the two big tastes of the season in one bowl. Here’s a Next Day Turkey Primavera, and for something a little different, maybe these Thanksgiving Nachos.

Okay, if you’re just making sandwiches, let’s once again take a cue from one of the shows on that Christmas TV Schedule site: Friends. It’s The Moist Maker, the turkey sandwich Monica made for her brother, Ross, who flipped out when someone at work ate it.

The secret is the third piece of gravy-soaked bread in the middle.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Christmas in Rockefeller Center (November 29)

Last week I told you about the tree being delivered, and now you can see the official lighting and listen to the sounds of Gwen Stefani, Brett Eldredge, Leslie Odom Jr., Jennifer Nettles, The Tenors, and Pentatonix. The shows airs on NBC at 8 p.m. Eastern and is hosted by Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, and Al Roker.

Write a Friend Month Begins (December 1)

Personally, I think we should celebrate Write a Friend Month every month of the year. Here’s what you do: Get out some nice stationery — or go out and buy some if you don’t have any already — grab a pen, and take the time to write an actual letter. Not a quick note, but a real, long letter, the kind people used to write P.T. (pre-texting). Don’t use any smiley faces or web abbreviations like LOL. Put it in an envelope, seal it, place a stamp in the corner, and take it to a mailbox.

Oh, and don’t email or text the person to tell them that you’re mailing it to them. Let it be a surprise.

News of the Week: Christmas Wars, Computer Concerns, and the Case of the Confusing Yam

Starbucks cup
Phonlawat_51 /

Starbucks and the War on Christmas

Ah, the Christmas season. That time of year when bells jingle, choirs sing, snow falls, and people argue about paper cups.

It seems that the War on Christmas comes earlier and earlier every year. This year’s battle centers on Starbucks. This year the coffee shop chain decided to go with a plain red cup with their green and white logo, instead of something featuring Santa or reindeer or snowflakes, and some people are rather upset by that decision.

Here’s the thing: As E! Online illustrates, the company’s cups are always rather minimalist, and if they do have something on them it’s usually a drawing of snowflakes or a reindeer or ornaments and trees. And is there even any religious aspect to snowflakes and reindeer and candy canes we’re missing by having a bare cup this year?

To be clear, Starbucks says there is no directive for employees not to say merry Christmas to their customers, and they do sell coffee labeled Christmas Blend, a Merry Christmas gift card, an Advent calendar, and many other festive things. While I do think that there have been examples of companies and towns being overly politically correct during the Christmas season in the past, this isn’t one of those times. As even The National Review says, viewing plain coffee cups as an attack on religion is embarrassing.

Of course, presidential contender Donald Trump has weighed in on the controversy. While Trump said, “Seriously, I don’t care,” he also hinted he might end the Starbucks lease at Trump Tower, adding “maybe we should boycott Starbucks. … If I become president, we’re all going to be saying merry Christmas again — that I can tell you.”

And millions of people around the country are waiting to see just how he’s going to enforce that.


Computer in a trash bin
denisgo / Shutterstock

The End of the Personal Computer?

In an interview with The Telegraph Apple CEO Tim Cook asks the question, “I think if you’re looking at a PC, why would you buy a PC anymore? No really, why would you buy one?” And to answer that I would say, “Because I like them, that’s why!”

If he wanted me to expand on my answer, I’d say it’s because a laptop (or desktop) is the natural tech to use for producing content like writing. I haven’t used tablets or smartphones that much, but I can’t imagine working on them for an extended period of time. Movies? Games? Surfing the Web? Sure. But for real work I’ll go the traditional route (and there’s no way I’m going to start doing everything on a watch).

It’s a little disconcerting to hear the CEO of the company that makes the MacBook laptops say that the personal computer is going away because a MacBook is what I’m typing on right now. But I’m going to predict that we’re still going to have desktops and laptops for many years to come, so don’t worry about it.


Daniel Craig
Piotr Zajac /

Ranking the Bonds

Whenever a new James Bond movie opens, people love to rank all the movies and the people who have played 007. With SPECTRE in theaters now — and don’t listen to the critics, it’s a good flick — I thought I’d rank the Bonds.

The way it usually works is that you like the Bond you grew up with. I didn’t see any of the Sean Connery movies in the theaters — I saw all the Roger Moore ones there though — but I watched Connery’s Bond countless times on TV and he will always be number one to me.

  1. Sean Connery
  2. Daniel Craig
  3. Timothy Dalton
  4. Pierce Brosnan
  5. George Lazenby
  6. Roger Moore
  7. Barry Nelson (played Bond in a 1954 episode of the anthology series Climax!)
  8. Everyone who played Bond in the awful 1967 version of Casino Royale

Who’s your favorite Bond?


The Blackout of 1965

Where were you when the lights went out in the Northeast in 1965? I was around 5 months old so I was probably in my mother’s arms or, knowing me, crying because the TV just went out. The blackout, caused by human error, affected many states, including New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and even Ontario, Canada. While not everyone in those places lost power, the outage did hit 30 million people, and they didn’t have power anywhere from just a few hours to over 13 hours. Imagine this happening today, and people couldn’t post on Facebook for 13 hours. Oh the humanity!

This week marked the 50th anniversary of the event. Here’s NBC’s breaking news coverage:


The Return of MST3K

In the not-too-distant future, probably 2016 AD, we’re going to see the return of the original Mystery Science Theater 3000. After 15 years and the straightening out of some legal issues, creator and original host of the make-fun-of-movies show Joel Hodgson is bringing it back.

They’ve set up a Kickstarter and it has already reached $1 million, and there’s still almost a month to go in the campaign. The gang hopes to reach at least $2 million, so they can do three episodes on DVD/online. If they reach $3.3 million, they’ll do 6. $4.4 million will get us 9 episodes, and $5.5 million will mean a full 12-episode season.

Fa la la!


IBM WatsonBy Clockready (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons
IBM Watson
By Clockready (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

Watson, The IBM Chef

Sure, IBM’s Watson computer can beat Jeopardy! champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, but can it make beef stroganoff?

I don’t really know. I would love to explore the IBM Chef Watson site more thoroughly, but you have to register with either a Facebook or IBM account. I have neither so what I can see on the site is rather limited. Apparently you can use the site — a joint effort between IBM and Bon Appetit — to create recipes and share them with your friends.

The recipes I’ve seen on the site include a Tomato Tart, Party Bourbon Punch, Salmon Tacos, and a Russian Celery Parsley Bread Lemon Juice Sandwich (yes), created by engineer and chef Florian Pinel for his TED Talk about food waste.


Potatoes and Yams
Brent Hofacker / Shutterstock

Sweet Potatoes Are Yams

I wonder if Watson knows the difference between sweet potatoes and yams? It will soon be Thanksgiving so I thought I’d investigate.

According to The Kitchn, there really isn’t any difference. The yams we eat here in North America are sweet potatoes, even if they’re labeled “yams.” A real yam is native to Africa and Asia and you’re probably not going to find one, unless you go to a specialty supermarket. And to confuse things more, there are two types of sweet potatoes, firm and soft. The yams you find at the supermarket are the soft, sweet potatoes and are labeled yams because they kinda look like real yams. Got that? Good. Maybe you can explain it to me.

I’ve been eating canned yams, the ones in sweet syrup, for many years, while at the same time refusing to eat the sweet potatoes at the Thanksgiving table. I guess it’s time to revisit sweet potatoes, as long as they’re covered in enough stuff like cinnamon and marshmallows to mask the taste. When you reach a certain age, it’s hard to change your eating habits. I yam what I yam.


Upcoming Events and Anniversaries

Suez Canal opens (November 17, 1869)

The 101-mile waterway connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea.

President Nixon’s “I am not a crook” press conference (November 17, 1973)

Nixon made the comments while meeting with 400 Associated Press editors in Orlando, Florida.

The “Heidi Game” (November 18, 1968)

The New York Jets vs. Oakland Raiders game had a really exciting ending. Too bad NBC interrupted it with a showing of the movie Heidi.

President Lincoln delivers Gettysburg Address (November 19, 1863)

Here’s the full transcript of Lincoln’s speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Nuremberg trials begin (November 20, 1945)

The post-World War II military tribunals prosecuted military and political leaders of Nazi Germany.