I was trying to find a poem about fall that I could mention here, but most of the poems I found are rather depressing. They talk about the sadness of the light of summer dying, or how the leaves are changing and it’s a bad thing, or how autumn is just a precursor to winter, which we all know is the worst season of all. But I actually love fall — and winter for that matter — so I didn’t include one.
Today is the first day of fall, and I’m glad that summer is over. I’m ready to replace my iced tea with hot, my shorts with jeans, my T-shirts with sweaters, and my screen door with glass. I’m also looking forward to fall because maybe, just maybe, the cold weather will drive away the people who hang out at the base of my stairs, leaving their coffee cups and other refuse.
The Cassini Crash
We told you back in May about the stunning pictures the spacecraft Cassini was sending back from Saturn. No more pictures will be coming from Cassini, as this week it crashed onto the surface of Saturn.
But don’t be sad! The spacecraft spent a successful 20 years sending back photos and other data from Saturn and its many moons. Cassini took one last photo before crashing just north of Saturn’s equator.
Sitting Is the New Smoking
If you’re sitting there reading this… stand up!
Suddenly, sitting down is incredibly bad for you. Based on a recent study and many past studies, doctors are actually saying that sitting is the new smoking. The longer middle-aged and older people sit, the more likely they are to have problems with obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Of course, like most studies, the data is incomplete and might not tell the whole story. But it wouldn’t hurt to get up from your desk to walk and stretch once in a while.
This sounds like one of those health things that, well, isn’t that easy to fix. Sure, we can walk around more and make sure we exercise in general, but sitting is what we do, at home and at work. It’s like telling someone that standing is really bad for you and you should sit more. Yeah, okay, but it’s hard to go places if you can’t stand up. If sitting is bad for us, how dangerous is lying down and sleeping eight hours a night?
The Happiest State Is …
A question for all of our readers in Minnesota: Are you happy?
You should be, because your state came in first in a study conducted by WalletHub. The site takes data and ranks the states in categories like Emotional and Physical Well-Being, Work Environment, and Community and Environment. Minnesota was number one, followed by Utah and Hawaii. Sorry, West Virginia, but you came in dead last. Sad!
Of course, I don’t know how accurate this study is, so I wouldn’t recommend you suddenly get depressed just because you live in a state that’s low on the list. I mean, I don’t feel like I live in the 19th-happiest state. It feels more like top 10. Certainly top 15.
Cheese Tea Is a Thing, Apparently
Some food combos make a lot of sense. There’s peanut butter and milk chocolate, bagels and cream cheese, and of course peanut butter and jelly. But how did anyone think of putting cheese in their tea?
The Daily Mail says it’s an Asian trend that is coming to New York and Los Angeles. It’s the popular bubble tea, hot or cold, only topped with a sort of whipped cream cheese. This is becoming one of those trends that you are about to hear a lot about but will probably never actually experience yourself, like planking or winning the lottery.
I’m addicted to tea — it’s 11 a.m. and I’m already on my third cup — but this is something I just have no interest in trying. I mean, I’m not even a big fan of teas flavored with fruit, so I’m not going to top my tea with the same stuff I top my nachos with.
I like chocolate chip ice cream and I like onions, but I’m not going to combine them.
The Man Who Carved Mount Rushmore
This week, the National Park Service finally recognized the work of Italian immigrant Luigi Del Bianco, the chief carver of Mount Rushmore. Here’s a report from Jim Axelrod of CBS Sunday Morning.
RIP Harry Dean Stanton, Jake Lamotta, Frank Vincent, Lillian Ross, Grant Hart, Stanislav Petrov, J.P. Donleavy, Mike Hodge, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, and Mark Lamura
Harry Dean Stanton was one of the great character actors, appearing in so many movies and TV shows that you’ll have to take a few minutes to read his IMDb page. He has the lead in the new movie Lucky and was recently seen in Twin Peaks: The Return. He died last Friday at the age of 91.
In 2013, Lawrence Grobel interviewed Stanton for the Post.
Jake Lamotta was the brawling boxer who inspired the classic Martin Scorsese film Raging Bull. He died earlier this week at the age of 95.
Frank Vincent was an actor who appeared in Raging Bull but is probably best known for his role as Phil Leotardo on The Sopranos. He also appeared in such classic films as Goodfellas and Casino. In the 1970s, he was in a band with fellow actor Joe Pesci. Vincent passed away last Wednesday at the age of 80.
Lillian Ross was an acclaimed writer and journalist who, except for a short break in 1987, worked at The New Yorker from 1945 until 2012. She authored several books, including Here but Not Here and the 2015 collection Reporting Always. She died Wednesday at the age of 99.
Grant Hart was the drummer and one of the lead singers of the rock group Hüsker Dü. He died last week at the age of 56.
Stanislav Petrov saved the world in 1983 when, while working as a military officer at a Russian nuclear early-warning center, he got information saying that the United States had launched several nuclear missiles. He decided to check things out instead of retaliating, and it turns out it was a false alarm. Petrov died in May at the age of 77.
J.P. Donleavy was an author known for several novels, including The Ginger Man. He died on September 11 at the age of 91.
Wrestling fans will remember Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. He was the colorful manager of such wrestlers as Andre the Giant, Rick Rude, and King Kong Bundy. He died Sunday at the age of 72.
Mark Lamura was an actor known for his many years playing Mark Dalton on All My Children. He also appeared in several other shows, including The Sopranos, 30 Rock, and Star Trek: The Next Generation. He died last week at the age of 68.
This Week in History
Earthquakes Hit Mexico City (September 19, 1985)
The earthquake that hit Mexico City on Tuesday came on the anniversary of the first of two earthquakes that hit the area 32 years ago, which killed thousands and caused billions of dollars worth of damage. The second earthquake hit a day later.
“Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus” Editorial (September 21, 1897)
Don’t worry, you haven’t fallen asleep for three months. It’s still September and way too early to talk about Christmas. But the answer to the famous letter from 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon was published in The New York Sun this week in 1897. Some interesting trivia: O’Hanlon was the cousin of George O’Hanlon, the actor who did the voice of this guy.
This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Norman Rockwell’s Runaway (September 20, 1958)
I think we can all agree that this cover is the most famous Norman Rockwell work, right? Well, it’s certainly up there with Freedom from Want. Here’s a 2011 interview with the Massachusetts state trooper and little boy who posed for the painting, Dick Clemens and Ed Locke (Clemens passed away in 2012):
Get Ready for the Return of Pumpkin-Spiced… Everything
The start of the fall season means it’s the start of pumpkin spice season. If you haven’t noticed, everything is pumpkin-spiced now. Not just the drinks at Starbucks, but also cereal, butter, pizza, and, of course, dog cologne. We were promised jet packs and flying cars but instead we got Facebook and pumpkin-spiced everything.
A lot of people hate pumpkin spice and dread all of the products that include it. As someone who actually likes the flavor (within reason), I really don’t mind the onslaught of pumpkin-spice-flavored drinks and cookies and cakes. A thousand recipes caught my eye, but I’d go with these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares from Recipe Girl.
By the way, I just checked my high blood pressure medication, and guess what? Pumpkin spice flavored.
Next Week’s Holidays and Events
Oktoberfest (September 23–October 8)
This is billed as the world’s biggest fair, but we all know that when you hear the word Oktoberfest, you think of beer.
National Good Neighbor Day (September 28)
Do people still borrow cups of sugar from their neighbors? I was thinking of that before coming across this day started by Lakeside, Montana, resident Becky Mattson in the 1970s. Why do people always run out of sugar and not eggs or milk or bread? Will people some day borrow pumpkin spice?
Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction, a documentary about the legendary character actor, has recently been released by Swiss filmmaker Sophie Huber. It’s an intimate portrayal of the man who was born in Kentucky in 1926, and went west to become a familiar face in such TV shows as Rawhide, Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Rifleman, Have Gun Will Travel, Bat Masterson, The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, The Fugitive, The Untouchables, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and HBO’s Big Love. Among his films are Cool Hand Luke; Alien; Repo Man; Paris, Texas; Pretty in Pink; The Godfather, Part II; The Last Temptation of Christ; and The Green Mile. In the documentary, David Lynch, Wim Wenders, Sam Shepard, Kris Kristofferson, and Deborah Harry talk about working with him, and Stanton responds to questions tersely. But the heart of the documentary is his singing, as he looks straight into the camera with his well-worn face and soulful eyes.
Question: You recently celebrated your 87th birthday—what have you learned, and have you given up any of the old vices?
Harry Dean Stanton: That we’re not in charge of our lives and there are no answers to anything. It’s a divine mystery. Buddhism, Taoism, the Jewish Kabbalah—it’s all the same thing, but once it gets organized it’s over. You have to just accept everything. I’m still smoking a pack a day. I only drink when I go out, which is rarely. And I miss sex, which is down to hardly ever. But I’m in good shape. No problems yet.
Q: Was it Jack Nicholson who gave you your acting credo?
HDS: Yeah. Be yourself and let the wardrobe do the character. [Laughs.] That was good. I’ve been doing it for over 50 years. I’m tired of movies. But I like to do it when I do it. The best directors leave you alone. They know when they hire you what you can do. I used to talk to Marlon Brando for hours on the telephone. He taught me a couple of Shakespeare monologues over the phone. Sometimes he’d hang up on me. Just screwing with me. He had a class he taught with young actors, and he had me teach it one time when he wasn’t there. I was his substitute teacher. What made Brando and Monty Clift so great was they played themselves. That’s what I do, too. It’s easy. No matter what I’m doing, I’m still Harry Dean Stanton. Even if you’re Olivier, you’re still yourself.
Q: How are you spending your days?
HDS: I watch TV a lot. Game shows. The History Channel. Court TV. Biographies. Once in a while sports. I used to play poker but I stopped because I was in this game every week for a long time and I lost a whole lot of money—a couple of hundred thousand dollars over four years. I shouldn’t have played in it. I don’t think the game was all that straight. But it is what it is. There are no answers.