News of the Week: Passenger Planes, Pulitzer Prizes, and Popsicle Bikes

Sky Maul

Why did the guy get dragged from his airline seat? That’s not the start of a riddle, it’s an actual question millions of people around the world are asking this week. You’ve probably heard about the 69-year-old man who was accosted and dragged from his United Airlines seat because he wouldn’t get off the plane after the crew notified passengers that they needed four seats for airline employees. The plane wasn’t even “overbooked” in the traditional sense; they needed the seats so those employees could get to other United planes, which makes the situation even worse. What, they couldn’t get the employees to Louisville, Kentucky, some other way? They couldn’t offer a ton of money to the passengers instead of dealing with a multi-million-dollar PR nightmare? Maybe the default position for airlines to take, even if a passenger is wrong, should be “don’t drag paying customers off of your plane, especially when every other passenger has a camera.”

Of course, social media lit up, with complaints pointed toward United Airlines’ Twitter account, jokes for new slogans, and memes for United Airlines movie lines. Several people have made the Harrison Ford “Get Off My Plane!” joke.

United CEO Oscar Munoz, after a couple of press releases that just made things worse, went on Good Morning, America on Wednesday morning to address the issue.

It’s almost as if United was trying to win the “Who Can Create a Bigger PR Nightmare Contest?” this week. The other finalists were Pepsi, for their tone-deaf Kendall Jenner commercial, and White House press secretary Sean Spicer, for his comments about Hitler (it’s always a good idea to just never talk about Hitler). This isn’t even the only United controversy this month. Another incident happened in Hawaii last week.

I’m so glad I don’t have to fly that often. Air travel isn’t what it used to be. Though if I do fly and United wants my seat, my going price is $2,000, a night in a nice hotel, and maybe one of those travel bags with the United logo on it.

And the Winners Are…

The 2017 Pulitzer Prizes were handed out this week, and it’s impossible to mention all of the winners and finalists (you can find a complete list here), but a few that stand out are David A. Fahrenthold of The Washington Post for National Reporting, The Salt Lake Tribune staff for Local Reporting, and Peggy Noonan of The Wall Street Journal for Commentary. The Fiction winner was Colson Whitehead for The Underground Railroad.

RIP J. Geils, Tim Pigott-Smith, Peter Hansen, Glenn O’Brien, Charlie Murphy, Chelsea Brown, and Dorothy Mengering

I was rather amazed by how many people online think that J. Geils, who passed away Tuesday at the age of 71, was the singer for The J. Geils Band. No, that would be Peter Wolf. But Geils founded the band in 1967 and played guitar on many of their hits, including “Love Stinks,” “Freeze Frame,” and “Centerfold.”

Tim Pigott-Smith was a veteran actor who appeared in TV shows like Jewel in the Crown, The Chief, and Doctor Who, as well as movies like Quantum of Solace, RED 2, V For Vendetta, Alexander, Victory, and Clash of the Titans. He passed away last week at the age of 70.

Peter Hansen was also a veteran actor. He played Lee Baldwin on General Hospital for close to 40 years. He also appeared in shows like Perry Mason, The Lone Ranger, Sea Hunt, Matlock, Magnum, P.I., and The Golden Girls, and in the movies When Worlds Collide, Branded, A Cry in the Night, and The War of the Roses. Hansen died Sunday at the age of 95.

Glenn O’Brien wrote the “Style Guy” column for GQ for 15 years, leaving in 2015 after a dispute with editors. He got his start working with Andy Warhol, wrote for other magazines, co-wrote Madonna’s book Sex, and was once the creative director at Barney’s. He passed away last week at the age of 70.

Charlie Murphy was Eddie Murphy’s brother and a fine comedian in his own right. He was a performer and writer on Chappelle’s Show, where he was famous for his funny “Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories” segments. Murphy died earlier this week of leukemia at the age of 57.

Chelsea Brown was a cast member on the classic ’60s sketch show Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. She also appeared on The Flying Nun, Mission: Impossible, Marcus Welby, M.D., Police Story, and the bizarre horror-comedy movie The Thing with Two Heads. She passed away on March 27 at the age of 69–74 — sources can’t seem to agree on her exact age.

You might not know the name Dorothy Mengering, but you know her son, David Letterman. Dave’s mom lived in Indiana and appeared on his TV shows many times over the years, reporting from various Olympic Games or appearing during holidays, where she would make a couple of her famous pies and Dave would try to guess what pies she had made that year (one of the great annual traditions on the show). She even wrote a cookbook, Home Cookin’ with Dave’s Mom. She passed away Tuesday at the age of 95.


Where were you during the writers strike of 2007? If you miss those days when production of TV shows was shut down, or maybe you don’t even remember a 2007 strike, we may soon be getting a sequel. The Writers Guild of America is going up against The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers for various reasons and may vote to go on strike on May 2.

A strike authorization vote will take place next week. Obviously this is a complex issue, but Ken Levine has two posts on his site that summarize it rather well, including a post that outlines what you should know about the strike and one that gives an issue-by-issue rundown on why the strike might happen.

Like Ken, I support the writers.

Popsicle Bike?

Every once in a while, we get a Wheel of Fortune answer that boggles the mind. Just two weeks ago, we had the guy who thought A Streetcar Named Desire was actually A Streetcar Naked Desire, which made host Pat Sajak remark that he’d rather see the contestant’s play than the original. Last week, the show had couples on and … well, I’ll just have Jimmy Kimmel explain what happened next. Watch the whole clip; he gives the couple a gift:

Maybe Wheel of Fortune could take this and use it as the basis for a “Really Difficult Puzzle” round on the show. The answers could be anything random. Monkey Crayons! Pickle Tables! Triscuit Envelopes! Make the money amounts on the wheel really outrageous since it will be harder for the contestants to guess what the answers are.

Happy Birthday, Turner Classic Movies

A few weeks ago I was thinking, if I could watch only one TV channel, what would that channel be? I could have picked one of the major networks because there are so many shows that I watch on them, or I could have picked one of the news channels because I would need to keep track of the news. But then I thought, I don’t need it to be one of the news channels because I could watch the news on one of the major networks.

Then I threw all of that away in my mind and settled on Turner Classic Movies. That’s the one channel that, if it went away, I would truly miss.

TCM celebrates its 23rd birthday today. They’re showing some classic films later today (well, they show classic films every day), including Mildred Pierce, Picnic, Magnificent Obsession, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. On Monday night, actor William Daniels will be a guest programmer, introducing the films A Thousand Clowns, 1776, and Dodsworth.

This Week in History

Joseph Pulitzer born (April 10, 1847)

The man whose name is engraved on the awards mentioned above was born in Hungary and passed away in Charleston, South Carolina in 1911.

President Lincoln Assassinated (April 14, 1865)

Saturday Evening Post Archives Director Jeff Nilsson looks at a Post editorial, titled “The Murder of President Lincoln,” that appeared in the pages of the magazine just seven days after the assassination.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: “Late Night Hat Check” (April 13, 1957)

Woman admiring her new hat at 3:40 am
Late Night Hat Check Constantin Alajalov April 13, 1957

I’m trying to figure out what’s going on in this cover by Constantin Alajálov that appeared 60 years ago this week. Is the husband confused because his wife is waking him up in the middle of the night by doing something as silly as trying on her Easter hat? Or is he slowly coming to the realization that, oh, great, my wife spent money on another hat? Probably both.

National Eggs Benedict Day

I worked at a breakfast and lunch place for several years, and one of my least favorite things to make was Eggs Benedict. The eggs had to be poached just right, the English muffins couldn’t be too soggy, and if I let the hollandaise sauce sit around for too long it would thicken up, and I’d have to whip it up again furiously so I could pour it on top. I love Eggs Benedict myself, but I often thought, standing in that hot kitchen, do you really have to order this? How about some toast or maybe a nice bowl of fruit instead?

This Sunday is National Eggs Benedict Day, which is appropriate because Eggs Benedict is a very Sunday-ish thing to have (and it’s Easter). Here’s a classic recipe from Allrecipes, including a recipe for the hollandaise sauce. If you want a variation on the classic recipe, swap some spinach for the Canadian bacon to make Eggs Florentine, or make Eggs Hemingway by using salmon. If you want to keep the toppings the same, you could try replacing the English muffin with something like a buttermilk biscuit, bagel, corn muffin, or a Krispy Kreme chocolate doughnut.

Just kidding about the doughnut — although, if you go that route, let us know how it comes out.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Easter (April 16)

Philip Gulley has a funny story on how the vacations he used to take as a kid around Easter have really changed.

Patriots’ Day (April 17)

The holiday is only officially celebrated in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, and Maine, though the way it’s celebrated in each state is different. And to make it even more confusing, the punctuation on the holiday name is slightly different in Maine.

Newspaper Columnists Day (April 18)

You can celebrate this day in many ways. You could read your favorite columnists, buy a subscription to a newspaper, or support The National Society of Newspaper Columnists. You could even buy an expensive gift for your favorite Saturday Evening Post columnist. Even though it’s not technically a newspaper, it still counts.

Tax Day (April 18)

Because the 15th falls on a Saturday this year, and Emancipation Day will be observed on the 17th in Washington, D.C., we have an extra three days to get our taxes in the mail. If you’re like Homer Simpson, you’ll get them to the post office just before the doors close:


News of the Week: Classic Rock, Campaign Bumper Stickers, and Christmas in October

Cleveland Rocks

For some reason, I thought that Yes was already in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but while they’ve been nominated before, they’ve never made it. Maybe this year will be different, as they’re on the list of the 2017 nominees. Other nominees are Bad Brains, Joan Baez, The Cars, Chic, Depeche Mode, ELO, The J. Geils Band, Janet Jackson, Jane’s Addiction, Journey, Chaka Khan, Kraftwerk, MC5, Pearl Jam, Tupac Shakur, Steppenwolf, Joe Tex, and The Zombies. This is Chic’s 11th nomination!

You can help decide who gets into the Hall by going to the official site and making your choices. Voting ends on December 5.

In related news, The Nobel Prize academy can’t find Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and new Nobel Prize for Literature winner Bob Dylan. If it helps, tomorrow he’s going to be performing at the WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Oklahoma.

Au H2O in ’64

CBS Sunday Morning had an interesting segment this week: campaign bumper stickers. The first ones were actually made out of metal. The stickers arrived in the 1940s.

RIP Eddie Applegate

2016 is turning into the “who died from The Patty Duke Show this week?” year. In March, we saw the passing of Patty Duke, and then in May her co-star William Schallert died. Now Eddie Applegate has passed away.

Applegate played Patty Lane’s boyfriend Richard Harrison on the sitcom that ran from 1963 to 1966. He also appeared in TV shows like Gunsmoke, The Lucy Show, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Daktari, and Nancy, as well as the 2010 movie Easy A. He died Monday at the age of 81.

October Books

Some new fall books you might be interested in:

The New York Times Book of the Dead, edited by William McDonald. This happy little volume contains 320 obituaries from the newspaper, along with access to 10,000 more on a special website.

A Torch Kept Lit, edited by James Rosen. Speaking of famous dead people, here’s a collection of eulogies written by William F. Buckley Jr. Included are remembrances of Ronald Reagan, Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King Jr., and Truman Capote.

The Age of Daredevils, by Michael Clarkson. A history of the many people who tried to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel early in the 20th century.

Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places, by Colin Dickey. A travelogue of places in the U.S. that are supposedly haunted, with lots of historical information about each place. Just in time for Halloween.

Happy Hallo … I mean Merry Christmas!

Here we are, ten days before Halloween, and they’re already running Christmas commercials. I saw this one on Tuesday night:

In a few years we’ll come home after watching the Fourth of July fireworks and Frosty the Snowman will be on TV.

Starburst? Seriously?

I refuse to believe that Starburst is the most popular Halloween candy in my state of Massachusetts.

But that’s what this map from Influenster says. They did a state-by-state survey of Halloween candy and Starburst rules The Bay State. I have not eaten a Starburst in 25 years and I can’t remember the last time I saw anyone eating/buying/talking about them (though to be honest, I don’t really keep track of other people’s candy purchases). I’ll take Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.


Who the heck is eating all that candy corn? I mean, come on.

This Week in History: Noah Webster Born (October 16, 1758)

Have you ever used Webster’s Dictionary? This is the guy to thank.

This Week in History: New York World’s Fair Closes (October 17, 1965)

The fair was open for two six-month runs in 1964 and 1965. Some of the buildings are still standing, if in poor condition, and you can see the Unisphere every year when the U.S. Open is played at Flushing Meadows, New York.

This Week in History: Cuba Embargo Begins (October 19, 1960)

President Obama has eased aspects of the embargo, and now you can get Cuban rum and cigars again!

National Nut Day

Saturday is National Nut Day.

A couple of years ago, I made a batch of spiced nuts that was well-received by my family during the holidays. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the recipe and can’t find it online, so how about this spiced nuts recipe from Emeril Lagasse? Here’s a chocolate zucchini bread recipe that includes chopped nuts, and here’s one for dark chocolate bark with roasted almonds and seeds.

I would have included a recipe for fruitcake, but that’s a Christmas thing and it’s still Halloween time. Even though they’re already playing Christmas commercials. Before Halloween.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Mother-in-Law Day (October 23)

Come on, you can put aside all of those jokes for one day.

Bill Murray receives the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor (October 23)

The Kennedy Center ceremony will be telecast on PBS at 9 p.m. Eastern on October 28 (check local listings). Here’s a piece by Saturday Evening Post Archive Director Jeff Nilsson on the surprising and familiar Twain.

Navy Day (October 27)

The day was chosen because October 27 is President Theodore Roosevelt’s birthday, though some want to change it to October 13.