News of the Week: Superheroes, James Bond, and the Woman Who Leaves Mysterious Notes

Comic-Con 2017 

As this is a pop culture column, I feel that I have to at least mention this year’s Comic-Con convention in San Diego, which just ended. But I really don’t know what else to say except THERE ARE MORE SUPERHERO MOVIES COMING. There are always more superhero movies coming. 

Time has a rundown on all the big trailers and interviews from the convention, while Gizmodo has a list of the winners and losers. 

I have to admit I didn’t realize that Scrooge McDuck was going to be one of the big hits of the convention.  

Bond 2019 

We finally have a release date for the next 007 movie: November 8, 2019. That seems like a long time to wait, but at least we know another one is coming. What we don’t know yet is the title or whether Daniel Craig is going to play Bond once again. The New York Times is reporting that he has indeed signed for one more film, but there’s no official word yet from the studio. 

In the meantime, there are plenty of Post pieces about the secret agent, including this piece on the 50th anniversary of the movie series and this terrific 1964 Pete Hamill interview with Sean Connery. 

Fake (Shark) News 

Okay, look: I didn’t really think that swimmer Michael Phelps and a shark were going to be in the water next to each other in their own swimming lanes, starting at the same time to find out who would win a race. I don’t think most people thought that. But I also didn’t think that Phelps was going to swim by himself and the shark would be represented by computer animation, and the “race” would actually be just a comparison of what the shark’s results “would have been” with “speed based on scientific data.” That’s kind of goofy, and I think a bit of a cheat.  

Phelps says that it’s not his fault if people thought he was actually going to race a great white shark. If that’s the case, then why in this video does he dive down to meet real sharks in a cage, and why does one of the experts talk about the safety measures they’re taking because we “wouldn’t want to see him get eaten up by a shark”?  

Next month, I’m going to try to outrun a 747. We won’t be in the same place and I’ll use stock footage of a 747 flying through the air, but the results will be really interesting! 

RIP John Heard, June Foray, Barbara Sinatra, Chester Bennington, Red West, Jim Vance, Clancy Sigal, Danny Daniels 

John Heard was probably best known as the dad in Home Alone, but he had so many other roles over the past 40 years. Heard was found dead in a hotel room at the age of 71. 

June Foray was the voice of many great characters you remember, including Rocky J. Squirrel and Natasha on Rocky & His Friends, Tweety Bird’s Granny in Looney Tunes cartoons, Cindy Lou Who in the animated How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and Mattel’s Chatty Cathy doll, plus voices in movies like Cinderella and Mulan, and too many others to mention, in a career that started in 1943. She died Wednesday at the age of 99. 

Barbara Sinatra was Frank’s wife for the last 22 years of his life. She was also a former entertainer, a philanthropist, and author of the memoir Lady Blue EyesShe passed away Tuesday at the age of 90.  

Chester Bennington was a singer for the group Linkin Park. He committed suicide last week at the age of 41. 

You’ve seen Red West in a gazillion movies and TV shows over the years. The actor, stuntman and songwriter was also a close friend and confidant of Elvis Presley. He died last week at the age of 81. 

Jim Vance was a longtime news anchor at NBC4 in Washington, D.C. He died Saturday at the age of 75. 

Clancy Sigal was the author of several books, including the influential novel Going Away, and was also a former Hollywood agent who counted Humphrey Bogart as one of his clients. Sigal was later blacklisted and moved to New York City and eventually London to work. He died July 16 at the age of 90. 

Danny Daniels was a veteran choreographer and actor who made his screen debut at the age of 14 in the Bing Crosby film The Star Maker and won several Emmy and Tony awards. He died earlier this month at the age of 92. 

Books and Bombs 

Librarians have to deal with a lot on their first day of work: learning new computer and filing systems, how to deal with kids at the front desk, maybe even budgetary problems. Oh, and they also might have to deal with Civil War artillery shells, like this woman in Massachusetts. She found them at the bottom of a closet with a helpful note that said they might be live shells. 

Notes on Trees 

Here’s the feel-good story of the week (unless you count the Comic-Con news above as “feel-good”). This woman leaves anonymous notes on trees to help inspire people who may be going through hard times. She’s left over 1,000 notes on trees, on pay phones, in airports, and in grocery stores. 

This Week in History 

Detroit Riot Begins (July 23, 1967) 

A new movie about the infamous riotDetroit, opens next Friday. Here’s the trailer. 

That wasn’t the first time there was a riot in Detroit. 

Jacqueline Bouvier Born (July 28, 1929) 

The woman who would become Jackie Kennedy was born in Southampton, New York. Jimmy Breslin wrote this piece for the December 14, 1963, issue of the Post, about her last moments in Dallas with President Kennedy. 

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: “Unwelcome Pool Guests” (July 22, 1961) 

Unwelcome Pool Guests
Thornton Utz
July 22, 1961

I love this Thornton Utz cover for two reasons. One is the detail that shows what this guy had planned for the day. He’s in his lawn chair, he has his paper and his tray of food and his coffee and a radio to listen to the ball game, and here comes the damn family to interrupt things. Can’t I get one afternoon alone?  

The second thing I love is the sitcom dad–like expression on his face as he breaks the fourth wall and looks at us. 

National Milk Chocolate Day 

The old M&Ms slogan says that they melt in your mouth, not in your hand. I found out this week that when it’s this hot and humid, that’s not exactly true. The candy coating sort of melts and leaves your hands sticky. If it’s as hot where you are as it is where I am, you might want to keep your milk chocolate in the refrigerator. 

At least until you make these recipes for National Milk Chocolate Day, which happens to be today. Epicurious has these Milk Chocolate Brownies, while AllRecipes has a Fudgy Milk Chocolate Fondue. Or head on over to the Hershey’s site and try one of the many desserts you can make with their chocolate bars. I’d like some of that Our Gal Sundae Pie. 

By the way, James Bond loved milk chocolate too. 

Next Week’s Holidays and Events 

International Clown Week (August 1-7) 

A lot of people think that clowns are happy and fun! Others think they’re dark and scary. For you people who fall into the former category, here’s the official site for International Clown Week. For those of you in the latter category, here’s the trailer for the remake of Stephen King’s It, which opens on September 8. 

Coast Guard Day (August 4) 

This commemoration celebrates the day in 1790 that Alexander Hamilton founded the United States Coast Guard. Hamilton, of course, went on to become a talented singer and dancer and to star in the critically acclaimed Broadway show that bears his name. 

Chocolate Is Here to Stay!

In the late 19th century, a man by the name of Milton Hershey bought a new technology to help him produce a chocolate coating for his caramels.  What Hershey could not have known was that this new technology would be his “bread and butter,” not his caramels.  Within a few years, he made this keen observation: “Caramels are only a fad.  Chocolate is a permanent thing.”  In 1903, Hershey began the Hershey Chocolate Company and began a chocolate revolution in the United States.  Through his methods of mass-production, he was able to lower the cost of the chocolate and make it an affordable luxury item.

Over a century later, chocolate is still a “hot topic.”  In recent years, chocolate as an industry has even seen a rebirth.  Instead of mass-production and affordability, chocolate has moved into niche markets as a diet and health food, a delicacy to accompany wines and cheese, and a mood-enhancer.  Mass-produced chocolates are still highly popular, but a growing number of chocolate lovers are finding pleasure in these new offerings.

Here at the Post, we have a variety of chocolate lovers.  We thought our readers would enjoy a series of postings that look at the history and the future of chocolate!

Let’s begin with a brief introduction to the key terms:

Cacao (%): The term refers to the ingredients derived from the cocoa bean.  The source of the cacao components are “chocolate liquor” — the term used to describe the pure (nonalcoholic) chocolate in liquid form, cocoa butter, and cocoa powder.  The” % cacao” refers to the percentage of these ingredients, by weight, in the finished product.

Dark Chocolate: The term “dark chocolate” is not defined by regulation in the US.  Within the industry however, it is used to refer to both sweet and bittersweet chocolates containing high levels of chocolate liquor.  Many dark chocolates on the market today contain more than 35% chocolate liquor.  It is common to see dark chocolates containing 45-80% cacao on the market today.  Dark chocolates may contain milk fat to soften the texture, but do not generally have a milky flavor.

Milk Chocolate: The most common kind of eating chocolate; it is made by combining chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, milk or cream and, sweeteners such as sugars and flavorings.  According to the FDA regulations, all milk chocolate must contain at least 10% chocolate liquor and at least 12% milk solids.  The only fats allowed in milk chocolate are milk fat and cocoa butter.  The varieties of milk chocolates in the market are expanding.  Some high cacao % milk chocolates are essentially dark chocolates with additional dairy ingredients.

White Chocolate: White chocolate is a blend of cocoa butter, milk, sugar, and flavor.  No chocolate solids other than cocoa butter are present, which explains the lack of brown color.  According to US regulations, white chocolate needs to be at least 20% (by weight) cocoa butter, at least 14% total milk solids, and less than 55% sweeteners (such as sugar.)

Please join us over the next few Fridays as we explore chocolate. Our chocolate postings will help you determine which chocolates you like, and encourage you to try something new.

More chocolate information may be found at the National Confectioners Association website –