News of the Week: Hurt Hands, Hot Dogs, and Halloween

Jimmy Fallon Is Now Officially Out of Hands

Maybe it would be a good idea if Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon simply didn’t leave the studio.

Back in July, Fallon badly hurt his left hand after falling in his kitchen. This week, Fallon injured his right hand after tripping over a woman who was kneeling down at an event put on by The Harvard Lampoon in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Fallon was in town to accept the Lampoon’s Elmer Award. He was carrying a bottle of Jägermeister at the time, fell, and his hand landed on the broken glass. He was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital and luckily the injury wasn’t nearly as bad as last time.

He really puts the fall in Fallon, doesn’t he?

Breaking News: Nobody Knows What’s in Hot Dogs

Hot Dog Vintage advertisment

This wasn’t a good week for meat lovers. Just when we heard that the Worldshut Health Organization is now going to classify the bacon, beef, and processed meats we’ve been eating as carcinogens — even if some of the reports have been misleading — we also got word that the hot dogs we’ve been eating all these years might have some things in them that we, well, don’t want to eat.

Clear Food, a testing lab, tested 75 brands of hot dogs and sausages and found that 14.4 percent had problems, some “hygienic” and “substitution” issues. Hygienic means that a non-harmful element was introduced to the hot dog, such as human DNA, which was found in 2 percent of the hot dogs tested. Now, I don’t know how finding human DNA in hot dogs can be considered “non-harmful,” but that’s how it’s classified. Substitution means that there’s something in the hot dogs that isn’t listed on the label.

And those vegetarian hot dogs you’re eating to be healthier? Ten percent of those tested contained meat.

Janet Riley, president of the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (yes, there’s a National Hot Dog and Sausage Council) says that she has questions about how the tests were conducted, and that any hygiene or ingredient issues could have been introduced to the hot dogs by the staff of Clear Food or by the way the tests were performed and how the samples were handled. She also calls the scary report “silly” and accuses Clear Food of looking for publicity.

Four brands did get a passing grade: Butterball, McCormick, Eckrich, and Hebrew National. Expect a run on those brands at your local supermarket.

RIP, Maureen O’Hara

Maureen O'Hara
Maureen O’Hara in Miracle on 34th Street (20th Century Fox)

If I were to pick my two favorite movies, they just might be two Christmas movies: 1946’s It’s a Wonderful Life (yes, a common choice but it really is a terrific film) and 1947’s Miracle on 34th Street. The latter starred the beautiful Maureen O’Hara, who passed away at her home in Boise, Idaho this week at the age of 95.

Turner Classic Movies will be running a 24-hour tribute to O’Hara on November 20, with such movies as McClintock!, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Big Jake, and The Quiet Man.

Sherlock Returns on January 1

There’s a great Sherlock Holmes television series, but it’s not the one on CBS. Elementary is … fine, I guess, a passable entertainment, but it’s not great. That would describe the other Holmes and Watson show on television, PBS’s Sherlock. Filming doesn’t begin on the fourth season (or “series” as they say in England) until the spring, but they did film a 90-minute special that will air on both the BBC and PBS on January 1. That’s a first for the show (it usually airs first on BBC and then later on PBS). Here’s the trailer. The show is set in modern times but this episode, “The Abominable Bride,” is set in Victorian England for some reason. It would be great if they don’t even explain why:

Also for the first time, the episode will be shown in select theaters, with 20 minutes of additional footage.

Vintage Words Are Making a Comeback

Dictonary entry for language

Have you noticed that there are a lot of words from decades ago that we don’t use anymore? Language evolves, and some words just vanish as the decades go by, replaced by whatever words we’re all using at the time.

Using Google’s Ngram, which tracks the number of times words are used in print, a researcher discovered that many older words are making a comeback. People are actually using words like “fortnight” and “smitten” and “amidst” and “dapper” again. There’s a chance some hipsters are using these words ironically, but hey at least they’re being used.

There are many words and phrases I’d love to see come back. “Cockamamie.” “Old hat.” “Aces.” “Cahoots.” “Scram.” “Geezer.” “Hoosegow.” Those words are better than any Internet slang or LOL, and if some of them returned it would really be the bee’s knees.

Is Saying “You’re Welcome” Rude?


Crazy question, isn’t it? In what world would saying “you’re welcome” after someone says “thank you” be considered rude? Not to sound like an old man, but it’s coming from you meddlesome kids!

In this Boston Globe essay, Murray McClellan reveals that he recently learned from his son and the son’s girlfriend that saying “you’re welcome” is something you just shouldn’t do. Apparently, saying “you’re welcome” is now looked upon as the equivalent of saying “you owe me one,” an “acknowledgement of an uneven balance of power,” and it’s just plain rude.

Maybe some people don’t want to use the phrase for some reason, but calling it rude?

Now, I’ve noticed that in some situations people actually don’t say “you’re welcome,” Like after the NPR interviews that McClellan mentions (or any interview) where the interviewer says “thank you for being here,” the interviewee won’t say “you’re welcome,” they’ll instead say “my pleasure” or “thanks for having me.” But certainly the phrase “you’re welcome” can and should be used in other, traditional situations we all have, right?

I really do think this is an age thing, a generational thing, and specifically pushed by the tech/business world. In the same way I’ve noticed people start off their answer to a question by saying “So …” which is one of the oddest language things I’ve ever heard.

At this rate, it won’t be long before “thank you” disappears too, and all manners will be gone. We’ll just grunt at one another or stay home so we don’t have to interact with anyone anymore. It’s easier to just type “thx” or “k” in an email (because typing the “o” is too labor-intensive) than to communicate normally. What a cockamamie world this has become.

The Return of the Phone Booth

Phone booth

I miss phone booths, or maybe I miss the idea of phone booths. I’ve gotten sick of hearing other people’s cell phone conversations while at the supermarket, the bank, the movie theater, the street corner. Nobody seems to understand that everyone around can hear what they’re saying. I know what people are having for dinner, what problems they’re having, and even what medical procedures they’re going to be having soon.

But maybe the phone booth is coming back. Or at least a certain kind of phone booth. The new ones don’t have phones in them (unless they’re decorative — a retro touch), they’re more like little rooms so people can have some privacy when they’re on their cells. Several companies are beginning to install the booths in their offices.

This is a fine idea. Now Superman and Supergirl will have some place to change again.


Ghosts pops

This year for Halloween I’m going as the same thing I’ve dressed as for the past several years: Guy Who Doesn’t Get Any Trick-or-Treaters So He Eats All the Candy Himself.

Assuming the planet isn’t destroyed by an asteroid and you’re planning a party, how about trying some of these Ghouly Cupcakes from Food Network? Or how about these Tarantula Tacos? You can even top off the evening with a Jack-o’-Lantern Cake.

Now, if you want a really scary recipe, how about this creepy Frankfurter Macaroni Salad Loaf thing? Oh God, it includes … hot dogs!

Upcoming Events and Anniversaries

Don’t forget to “fall back” this weekend
Before you go to bed on Halloween night, turn your clocks back an hour (and here are some things that might be smart to check after the clocks are changed).

Flight of the Spruce Goose (November 2, 1947)
Howard Hughes’s giant wooden plane only made one flight and is now housed at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.

Laika the Dog launched into space (November 3, 1957)
The three-year-old female was the first animal to orbit the Earth.

King Tut’s tomb discovered (November 4, 1922)
Was a curse unleashed when Howard Carter and his crew entered the tomb?

Will Rogers born (November 4, 1879)
Everybody has a Facebook page these days, including the acclaimed American humorist.

John Philip Sousa born (November 6, 1854)
He wrote “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” the music that’s played during every Fourth of July fireworks display.

News of the Week: Harry Shearer, Harper Lee, and a Whole Lotta Hot Dogs


Stefanie Mohr Photography /
Stefanie Mohr Photography /

Well, that didn’t last long. Just a couple of months after leaving The Simpsons, veteran voice artist Harry Shearer reached a deal for two more years and will be returning to the show. Sure, they could have probably found someone new to mimic the voices of Mr. Burns, Smithers, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, and Reverend Lovejoy (maybe Ted Cruz?), but it just wouldn’t have sounded quite the same.

We’d know.

‘Go Set a Watchman’

Harper Lee’s sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird will be released on Tuesday, and you can read the first chapter today at The Wall Street Journal. You can also join in a discussion of the books on the WSJ Book Club’s Facebook page.

Lee said at a private luncheon last week that she’s excited about the book’s release and always thought it would be published some day.

Am I Supposed to Like Soccer Now?


Congratulations, blah, blah, blah, women’s soccer, blah, blah, blah, etc., etc.

I don’t mean to be one of those people, but I still don’t like soccer. Hey, it’s great that the U.S. women’s team beat Japan this week for the World Cup, and it’s great that the match got terrific TV ratings, and it’s fitting that they’re getting a ticker-tape parade this morning in New York City but … I still don’t like soccer.

On Twitter I started to feel guilty reading all the tweets congratulating the team, many with more exclamation points than anyone should use when you have a limit of 140 characters. If I didn’t tweet something too, was I being a Debbie Downer? Maybe you feel the same way. I’m happy for the team, and I’m happy that other people are happy for them, but it doesn’t mean that I’m suddenly going to start watching soccer now. Sorry!

The World of Amy Schumer

Is there anyone who’s being talked about more right now than comic Amy Schumer? She was once just another comic but suddenly she’s being treated as a combination of Carol Burnett and Lenny Bruce. She has a popular show on Comedy Central called Inside Amy Schumer; she’s on the cover of Glamour; she’s causing controversy because of some of her sketches and comments; she was asked to be the new host of The Daily Show when Jon Stewart steps down but turned it down; and now she has a new movie with Bill Hader that’s getting good reviews. It’s called Trainwreck. Here’s the trailer.

One note about the movie. One of the cast members is Norman Lloyd. You might know him best as Dr. Auschlander from St. Elsewhere, or maybe as the villain who falls from the Statue of Liberty in the great 1942 Alfred Hitchcock thriller Saboteur. He turns 101 in November.


We found out this week that ESPN host Keith Olbermann was leaving the sports channel once again. Rumors were swirling the past couple of weeks that Olbermann’s contract negotiations weren’t going well because execs at the network wanted him to “tone down” his commentary during Olbermann. Who knows if that was even true (the network says it wasn’t) or if it’s the reason why he and ESPN are parting ways? The news was first reported by reporter Jim Miller on Twitter:

So what will Olbermann do now? Let the betting begin. He could easily show up on another sports program, or maybe we might even see him back at MSNBC, which he left in 2011 after hosting the news show Countdown for several years. Hey, stranger things have happened (like Olbermann going back to ESPN after leaving the first time). With MSNBC not doing too well, having Olbermann go back to where he was successful might be a good thing for both. With Olbermann and Brian Williams at the news channel, things could improve ratings-wise.

Introducing Oreo Thins!

“Thin” and “Oreos” aren’t usually words you’d see next to each other, but this week we had the debut of Oreo Thins, which is a healthier (ahem) alternative to the classic cookie we’ve all loved for over 100 years. They’re thinner than regular Oreos, and they’re healthier (ahem) because four of them have 140 calories, compared to the 160 calories of three regular Oreos. So now Oreo has a cookie for everybody: regular, regular cookies with different frosting flavors, different cookie flavors, DoubleStuf, Oreo Minis, and now Thins.

The new cookies are so thin that you can’t do something you can do with the regular ones: Split them open and lick the frosting inside. You can, but they’ll usually break. So since you’re not taking the time to separate the cookies, you’re probably just going to mindlessly gobble the thinner cookies, which means the thinness and lower calorie count won’t even matter. Though I guess you could dunk them in skim milk and feel better about it. Neil Patrick Harris likes them!

Thank you @oreo for sending me new Oreo Thins and sponsoring this evening's treat. #oreothins #delicious

A photo posted by Neil Patrick Harris (@nph) on

Oreo says the new thinner cookies are more “sophisticated.” I know I always feel more grown-up and sophisticated when I have a bunch of chocolate cookie bits all over my teeth.

National Hot Dog Month


This is the time of hot dogs, a food you can probably categorize as “unsophisticated.” Last weekend we saw a big upset at the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island. 23-year-old Matt Stonie ended Joey Chestnut’s 8-year reign by eating 62 hot dogs (with buns!) in 10 minutes. I’m getting kinda gaggy just thinking about that.

It’s also National Hot Dog Month! How can you possibly do something different in the preparation and cooking of hot dogs that hasn’t been done before? So instead of a recipe, how about taking a look at Serious Eats, where they list 13 signature drinks from various regions to pair with hot dogs? You’ve probably heard of drinking tropical drinks at Papaya King and Gray’s Papaya in New York, but in New Jersey and Virginia you could have one with some buttermilk.

I wonder if there is a Joey Hotdog somewhere, and every year he enters a chestnut-eating contest?

Upcoming Events and Anniversaries

Live Aid concerts (July 13, 1985)
This is the 30th anniversary of the two concerts held in London and Philadelphia to aid in the fight to end hunger in Ethiopia.

Bastille Day (July 14)
Officially became a national holiday in 1880 France.

Billy the Kid dies (July 14, 1881)
This site has an exhaustive amount of information on the famous outlaw, including rare photos and letters he wrote.

“Catcher in the Rye” published (July 16, 1951)
J.D. Salinger’s classic comes in at number 72 on The Guardian’s list of the 100 Best Novels of All-Time.

Disneyland opens (July 17, 1955)
SEP Archives Director Jeff Nilsson on the early days of the Disney dynasty.

Erle Stanley Gardner born (July 17, 1889)
The TV show based on Gardner’s famous character Perry Mason was on the air during the supposed “vast wasteland” of programming in 1961.