News of the Week: Advice for Graduates, Ugly Dogs, and How to Make Firecracker Strawberries

Be Kind, Save Money, and Wear Sunscreen

It’s that time of year when young people are graduating from high school and college. It’s also the time of year for commencement speeches and general advice for those graduates before they go off to summer jobs, a new city, or the career they’ve chosen.

We’ve all read (or at least heard about) the classic essay by Chicago Tribune writer Mary Schmich that is often attributed to either Kurt Vonnegut or director Baz Luhrmann (it doesn’t help that the essay at the paper’s site doesn’t have Schmich’s name on it at all). She gives some great advice: wear sunscreen, keep in touch with friends and family no matter where you live, do not read beauty magazines, remember the compliments you receive, and forget the insults. That’s all great advice no matter what age you are.

But there are other pieces of advice that young people would be smart to heed. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, has 12 rules she tries to follow, which include being polite and fair and not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. Frances Bridges at Forbes says that things are going to get harder before they get better, and you should always be smart about your money; and writer George Saunders suggests that, no matter what you do in life, err in the direction of kindness.

I would add to that a few I’ve learned. One is that good credit is more important than love (you’ll find love, but you don’t want to start out by messing up your credit); working is usually better than not working; and if you meet people who tell you that your high school or college years will be the best years of your life, don’t listen to them, because that’s just depressing.

Also: If you ever find yourself on The Price Is Right, never bid one dollar unless you’re the last bidder. The person after you will just bid two dollars and you’ll look like an idiot.

Zsa Zsa

One person’s ugly is another person’s cute, but I think that even people who tend to lean toward the latter have to admit that this dog is pretty darn the former.

Zsa Zsa, a 9-year-old English bulldog from Minnesota with questionable facial and body features, won the annual World’s Ugliest Dog contest last week. She and her owners won $1,500 for capturing first prize.

I think it’s the mouth, those teeth, and that darn giant tongue that’s always hanging out.

Something You Don’t Know About Superman

Shortly after reading Troy Brownfield’s great piece on the 80th anniversary of Superman, I came across an interesting little factoid on how kryptonite entered the Man of Steel’s world.

The voice of Superman on the Adventures of Superman radio show was Bud Collyer, whom you may also know as the host of To Tell the Truth (the ’60s version, not the current monstrosity on ABC). The writers came up with kryptonite, which paralyzes Superman, so Collyer could have some time off from the show. Since all Superman would be doing that week was moaning and groaning, they just got another actor to make those sounds.

It’s funny how something that is so closely associated with Superman actually made its first appearance on the radio show and not in the comic book.

The Words We Always Misspell

My friend Ken Levine has a fun post at his site about the words he always misspells (a word that itself is one I’m sure a lot of people misspell). We all go through this, even if we’re good spellers in general. There are just some words that get us every time. For Ken, it’s privilege, jeopardy, and pigeon.

I once lost a grade school spelling bee on Massachusetts. I spelled it correctly, but forgot to say “capital M,” and my English teacher wouldn’t give it to me. Still bugs me 40 years later. Thanks a lot, Mr. Pike.

Three words I always misspell are miniscule, pasttime, and reccommend. See?!

RIP Harlan Ellison, Charles Krauthammer, Donald Hall, Richard Harrison, Dan Ingram, Deanna Lund, and Koko

Harlan Ellison was a highly influential and opinionated writer and editor who changed the world of science fiction, fantasy, and pop culture in general over the past six decades. He wrote thousands of short stories, novels, novellas, essays and columns. He also wrote for several TV shows including Star Trek (the classic episode “City on the Edge of Forever”), The Outer Limits, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., the 1980’s reboot of The Twilight Zone, and Babylon 5, as well as the movie A Boy and His Dog. Ellison died yesterday at the age of 84.

Here’s Ellison’s official site, where you can read what fans and friends are saying in the forum.

Dr. Charles Krauthammer started out in the field of psychiatry after graduating from Harvard Medical School but found a second career as a conservative writer and pundit. He got his start as a speechwriter for Walter Mondale and also wrote for places like The Washington Post and The New Republic, and was a commentator on Fox News. His terrific book of essays, Things That Matter, sold over a million copies. Krauthammer had been paralyzed since a college diving accident, but he actually succumbed to cancer last week at the age of 68.

Donald Hall was a poet and essayist who was U.S. poet laureate from 2006 to 2007. He died last Saturday at the age of 89.

Richard Harrison was “The Old Man” on the popular History Channel series Pawn Stars. He died Monday at the age of 77.

Dan Ingram was a veteran New York disc jockey. Some people even call him the best disc jockey of all time. He started at small radio stations in the late ’50s and went on to work at such places as WABC, WKTU, and WCBS. He died Sunday at the age of 83.

Deanna Lund was an actress probably best known as Valerie on the sci-fi television series Land of the Giants. She died last Friday at the age of 81.

My two favorite stories of Koko the gorilla who learned sign language? She once destroyed a sink, and when her handlers came into the room to find out what had happened, Koko signed to them that the cat had done it. And there was the time that Mr. Rogers visited Koko and she took off his shoes, because that’s what he always did on his TV show. Koko died last week at the age of 46.

Quote of the Week

“Man, summer is going to suck.”

Meet the Press host Chuck Todd, on the upcoming political battle to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy

This Week in History

First TV Western, Hopalong Cassidy, Premieres (June 24, 1949)

It’s hard to believe now, but at one point, westerns were the most popular genre of TV show, with a staggering 26 shows on the air in 1959. At first the Hopalong Cassidy series was just edited versions of the films, but NBC later created original episodes. William Boyd played the cowboy and became so popular that it led to a theme park, magazine covers, and endless merchandising.

George Orwell Born (June 25, 1903)

Here’s what the Post had to say about Orwell’s classic novel 1984 in 1972.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Row, We’re Out of Gas (June 27, 1959)

Dad attempting to start a boat motor while his impatient family looks on.
Row, We’re Out of Gas
Amos Sewell
June 27, 1959

I’ve been on a boat exactly one time in my life, about 35 years ago — a boat a lot like the one featured in this Amos Sewell cover. And I think I had as much fun as the family in this boat seems to be having. We didn’t run out of gas, I’m just not a boat guy.

July 4 Recipes

At Christmas we see a lot of red-and-green-oriented recipes, and on Halloween it’s orange and black. For the Fourth of July the colors are obviously red, white, and blue. Sometimes you can tell the recipe creators are really stretching things to make ordinary foods with those colors, but I think I found a few that look pretty fantastic.

How about these Firecracker Strawberries, which are first soaked in vodka and then decorated with marshmallow (that’s the white) and sprinkles (for the blue)? Or how about Ina Garten’s Flag Cake, which looks like it might take a while to decorate but is rather impressive? If you’re looking for something savory rather than sweet, how about this Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad? The blue color is actually purple potatoes, but we won’t tell anyone if you don’t.

It’s odd when a holiday lands smack in the middle of the week, but maybe that will give you an excuse to take Thursday and Friday off, too.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

World UFO Day (July 2)

It’s on July 2 to mark the day that a spacecraft (supposedly) crashed in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. You can go to the World UFO Day site to become an official ambassador, or you can just watch Earth vs. the Flying Saucers again.

Wimbledon Begins (July 2)

The top seeds for the tournament at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club are Roger Federer and Simona Halep. They’ve also given Serena Williams, whose ranking dropped considerably after missing a year to have a baby, the 25th seed.

By the way, you don’t have to call it the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. But make sure you say Wimbledon and not Wimbleton.