News of the Week: Summer Vacation, Comic-Con, and How to Get Free Fries for the Rest of the Year

Dog Days

While the annoying commercials tell me at least 20 times a day that “it’s gonna be a Subaru summer” — I swear one of them just came on as I was typing that sentence — it’s also time to buy school supplies again.

That’s right, kids: Only three weeks after the Fourth of July and you already have to start thinking about math and social studies (is that still a thing?). I’ve started to see back-to-school commercials and store advertisements already. It seems rather cruel to expose kids to these things when it’s still 89 degrees and they’re in shorts. Can’t they at least wait until August to run these things? We’re still in the dog days of summer!

I always thought that the dog days of summer referred only to the month of August, but it’s actually a period that runs from July 3 until August 11. I also always thought it had to do with dogs not liking the summer heat, spending the day laying around the house panting and sleeping. But it actually has to do with Sirius, “the Dog Star,” which rises during the above dates.

But don’t worry, kids, there’s still plenty of vacation time left. Don’t let anyone tell you different. You can go to the beach and to the movies and to the mall and to your jobs to make spending money. Wait until mid- or late August to make your Staples run for notebooks and pens and anything else you’ll need for the new school year. You need to just listen to the car company. It’s gonna be a Subaru summer, and you might as well enjoy it while it lasts.


I won’t go into detail about what happened at the Comic-Con convention in San Diego, where fans gather to celebrate their favorite sci-fi/superhero/fantasy films and TV shows — io9 has a good summary of the good and the bad at this year’s show — but I do want to post one trailer that made its debut.

SHAZAM! (and yes, it has to be written all in caps and with an exclamation point) looks like it could be fun. It’s based on the DC comics character — he was also known as Captain Marvel — and it stars Chuck’s Zachary Levi. It looks like a mix of a superhero movie and the Tom Hanks movie Big.

Here’s the Story, of a House for Sale

I never missed The Brady Bunch when I was a kid — it was a Friday night staple, along with The Partridge Family — so I’d like to buy the house used as the exterior on the show. Unfortunately, I don’t have $1.8 million.

But if you have that much and need a second home (and you’re a fan of classic television), you can now buy it. It’s in North Hollywood, California, and looks quite different than it looked in 1970.

The inside, of course, looks nothing like it did on the TV show. Unlike the Brady house, the bathrooms have toilets.

Why Didn’t Somebody Tell Me There Was a New Philip Marlowe Novel?

Raymond Chandler is one of my favorite writers, so I get a little antsy when someone writes a novel based on his most famous character, detective Philip Marlowe. But I’ve been pretty happy with the Marlowe novels written by others, whether it was Robert B. Parker’s Poodle Springs or Benjamin Black’s The Black-Eyed Blonde. They’re not exactly Chandler, but they’re good facsimiles.

I didn’t realize that there was a new Marlowe book released recently. It’s titled Only to Sleep, and it was written by Lawrence Osborne. And here’s a twist: It’s set in 1988 and features an older, retired Marlowe.

Though Chandler once complained to his agent that “slick” magazines like the Post would never publish him, he actually did have a story published in our pages. It’s called “I’ll Be Waiting,” and it appeared in the October 1939 issue.

Free French Fries? There’s an App for That

National French Fries Day was a couple weeks ago, but even if you missed it, you still have time to celebrate. McDonald’s is giving away free medium fries every Friday for the rest of the year! You have to make at least a $1 purchase and download their app, but that’s a pretty good deal.

It might be one of the last times you order from an actual human being at McDonald’s. By 2020, the company wants to put self-ordering kiosks in all of their U.S. restaurants.

RIP Adrian Cronauer, Shinobu Hashimoto, Jonathan Gold, Anne Olivier Bell, Elmarie Wendel, and Gary Beach

Adrian Cronauer was the real-life disc jockey played by Robin Williams in the movie Good Morning, Vietnam. He died last week at the age of 79.

Shinobu Hashimoto wrote several screenplays, including the classic Akira Kurosawa films Rashomon and The Seven Samurai. He died last week at the age of 100.

Jonathan Gold was the longtime food critic for the Los Angeles Times. The Pulitzer Prize winner died Saturday at the age of 57.

Anne Olivier Bell not only edited the diaries of Virginia Wolff, she was one of the members of the Monuments Men, the group that got together to find and protect stolen artwork during World War II. (The story was made into a 2014 George Clooney film.) She died last week at the age of 102.

Elmarie Wendel was best known as landlady Mrs. Dubcek on 3rd Rock from the Sun. She also had roles on The George Lopez Show, NYPD Blue, and many other shows. She died last week at the age of 89.

Gary Beach won a Tony for his role in the Broadway musical The Producers. He also had roles in Beauty and the Beast, La Cage aux Folles, and many TV shows. He died last week at the age of 70.

This Week in History

Ernest Hemingway Born (July 21, 1899)

It may be hard to believe, but the Post rejected all of the stories the writer submitted. But we did publish a story from his grandson John.

Debut of Bugs Bunny (July 24, 1940)

While a Bugs Bunny-ish character made an appearance in Porky’s Hare Hunt, he made his official debut in the Warner Brothers/Merrie Melodies animated short A Wild Hare.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Palefaces at the Beach (July 27, 1946)

Constantin Alajalov
July 27, 1946

I wonder if today this Constantin Alajálov cover would have to have a different title?

Sunday Is National Cheese Sacrifice Purchase Day

I talk about many different kinds of food holidays here, and I always thought the oddest-sounding holiday I’ve come across was National Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day. But now I think we have a new contender in that category: National Cheese Sacrifice Purchase Day.

No, it’s not some bizarre ritual where you sacrifice cheese to some god. It actually has to do with getting rid of mice in your home by sacrificing some cheese to a mousetrap. I’ve had mice, and I find that peanut butter actually works a lot better.

Come to think of it, Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day is still the oddest food holiday.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events​

National Day of the Cowboy (July 28)

This is the 14th annual celebration of cowboy culture and pioneer heritage.

International Beer Day (August 3)

If you celebrate the day a little too much, please note that August 4 is International Hangover Day.

News of the Week: Baseball Begins, Dandelion Ends, and a new Philip Marlowe Is on the Way

Play Ball!

Like last year, we’ve had a weird spring so far here in the Northeast, really not even a spring at all since it has been so cold and raw and snowy. Somehow in between the fall-like chill and two days of downpours, the Boston Red Sox got their home opener in on Monday, defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3. If your favorite team didn’t win their opener, well, I’m sorry, but this is my column and I get to mention my team winning.

If you’re a diehard baseball fan, ESPN has a schedule for every single team and every single game they’ll be playing during the 2017 season, complete with the names of the starting pitchers and links to buy tickets. If you don’t want to wait until the season is over to see who wins the World Series, my friend Will Leitch has looked into his crystal ball and predicted not only who will win everything but exactly how it will all go down.

Goodbye, Dandelion

There’s an episode of Seinfeld where Jerry, George, and Elaine are talking about George’s new girlfriend, Sienna. Elaine asks, “Sienna?” and Jerry says, “Yeah, he’s dating a crayon.”

Sienna (officially “burnt sienna”) was saved from retirement by fans in 2003. But that’s not going to happen with dandelion. Crayola has announced that they’re getting rid of that color (and if you didn’t even know there was a dandelion color in the box of 24, you’re not alone, even though it has been around for 27 years). In this Facebook video, Crayola says that the color is “retiring,” as if it’s going to go live in a toy retirement community, along with Monopoly’s boot. Maybe you should grab as many of the dandelion crayons as you can before they’re gone forever, or buy one of the many dandelion collectibles that the company has on its website.

Luckily, there are approximately 497 other crayon colors that are pretty close to dandelion, so kids and adults alike will have plenty of yellow to choose from. Crayola will unveil a new color (another shade of blue) in May, and fans will be able to help name it.

RIP Don Rickles, Jack Ziegler, Gilbert Baker, Richard Bolles, James Rosenquist, and Joe Harris

Don Rickles certainly knew how to insult someone. In fact, he was an expert at it. Besides being a standup comic for over 60 years, Rickles was also a good actor, with roles in such classic movies as Kelly’s Heroes, Casino, Run Silent, Run Deep, and the Toy Story films (he’ll reprise his Mr. Potato Head role in Toy Story 4 later this year). He also starred in his own TV shows — The Don Rickles Show, CPO Sharkey, and Daddy Dearest — and appeared on The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Andy Griffith Show, Get Smart, I Spy, The Twilight Zone, Gilligan’s Island, I Dream of Jeannie, Hot in Cleveland, and dozens more.

Rickles died yesterday at the age of 90.

He was a regular and memorable guest on The Tonight Show. Here’s a classic episode where Johnny Carson discovers that Rickles broke his cigarette box the night before, when Bob Newhart had filled in as host:

Jack Ziegler was one of the great New Yorker cartoonists, creating 1,600 cartoons for the magazine since the 1970s. Here’s a gallery of some of his work. I love the one with the guy who misses his dog.

Ziegler passed away last week at the age of 74. According to The New York Times, he’s the seventh New Yorker cartoonist to die in the past year.

Gilbert Baker created the rainbow flag that has become so symbolic in the gay community. He came up with the idea after Harvey Milk became the first openly gay person to be elected to office in California in 1977. Baker died last Thursday at the age of 65.

My sister bought me Richard Bolles’ classic career/life book What Color Is Your Parachute? in the late ’70s/early ’80s. If you are of a certain age, you’ve probably read it too (millions of copies are still sold every year). Bolles passed away on March 31 at the age of 90.

James Rosenquist was one of the pop art pioneers of the 20th century, using montages of pop culture and advertising images to create bold art. The New York Times has a gallery of some of his most famous works. Rosenquist passed away last Friday at the age of 83.

If you loved Underdog and the Trix rabbit, you have Joe Harris to thank. He drew those characters, along with Tennessee Tuxedo, Go Go Gophers, The Beagles, and Klondike Kat after forming a company with other advertising execs and creatives to make Saturday morning cartoons. They wanted to compete with the company that made Rocky and Bullwinkle. Harris passed away March 26 at the age of 89.

The Singular They

It seems like we’re getting new grammar/spelling/punctuation rules every week now. Here’s the latest.

The Associated Press has announced several changes, with the big one probably being that they will now accept the singular they in situations where saying anything else would be awkward or unclear. It has a lot to do with new gender definitions that have risen the past few years, changes I will never get used to.

Other changes to the AP Stylebook include cyberattack, which will now be one word instead of two; baby bump, which the AP says they will never use again; and the increased use of our old friend the Oxford Comma, which, the AP reminds us, has always been available when it’s needed for clarity (and it often is).

They’re also changing flier to flyer, as in the phrase frequent flyer. Funny, I’ve always spelled it flyer, which just proves that sometimes you can do something incorrectly for decades and eventually be proven right.

Hey, There’s a New Philip Marlowe

There’s an old joke that says foreigners are taking all of the jobs Americans used to do. And they are! Just look at all the American characters being played by actors from different countries in the movies and on TV. Seriously, are we going to give every action movie role to Liam Neeson?

The answer is yes. It has been announced that Neeson will be playing Raymond Chandler’s classic detective, Philip Marlowe, in a new movie based on the 2013 Benjamin Black novel The Black-Eyed Blonde. The screenplay will be written by William Monahan, who wrote the screenplay for The Departed and is a guy I had a few beers with three decades ago, but he probably doesn’t remember me.

I’m looking forward to this. I’ve been saying for a while now that we need a real private eye series on TV again, preferably in black and white, set in the ’40s and featuring Marlowe. Maybe if this movie is a big hit, they’ll think about bringing him to television again. He was played in a late-’50s series by Philip Carey and in an ’80s series by Powers Boothe. There was a pilot made for a new series in 2007, but it got bad feedback and never made it to the screen.

The star? Jason O’Mara, who’s from Ireland. Of course.

By the way, even though Raymond Chandler often griped that he wasn’t the type of writer who was published in The Saturday Evening Post or other “slick” magazines, he actually did write for us. His story “I’ll Be Waiting” appeared in our October 14, 1939, issue. Unfortunately, we no longer own the rights to republish it online for you.

The Circle 

This movie could do for social media and smartphones what Jaws did for going into the water.

The Circle stars Tom Hanks as the CEO of a massive tech company that, well, controls everything online and, increasingly, offline. Emma Watson plays a new employee who starts to suspect that not everything is what it seems. It’s based on the novel by Dave Eggers and also stars John Boyega, Nate Corddry, Karen Gillan, and Patton Oswalt. It opens on April 28. Here’s the trailer:

This Week in History

Pony Express service begins (April 3, 1860)

Did you know there’s a Pony Express National Museum? There is, and it’s in St. Joseph, Missouri.

U.S. enters World War I (April 6, 1917)

In “Is World War I Relevant?,” Saturday Evening Post Archives Director Jeff Nilsson writes about a fascinating article by Corra Harris from our pages in 1915.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: “Hanging Clothes Out To Dry” (April 7, 1945)

My dryer broke last week. I took my wet clothes out of the washer and put them into the dryer to, well, dry and noticed there was no heat. The repairman came over that same day so I didn’t have to deal with wet clothes for more than a few hours, but it got me thinking of the clothesline we used to have when I was a kid. My mother always put clothes out to dry outside in the backyard but it’s something I haven’t done in almost 40 years. I wish I had a backyard now.

Here’s the April 7, 1945 cover by John Falter.

Children play in yard while mother hangs clothes on lineHanging Clothes Out to Dry
John Falter
April 7, 1945

Play Ball and Eat!

I always sense a shift of eating habits when the warmer weather and baseball come around. Heavier comfort foods and drinks, like pasta with heavy sauces and chili and bourbon, give way to salads and sandwiches and refreshing iced tea. Of course, baseball stadiums seem to destroy that theory by serving pizza and nachos and beer and the aforementioned chili, so maybe there’s room in our minds and stomachs for these comfort foods in the warm months, too.

Oh, and hot dogs! Delish has more than 20 ideas on what to do with hot dogs that they call “insane and brilliant.” I don’t know if those words apply, but I do like these Hot Dog Skewers and these Taco Dogs.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Palm Sunday (April 9)

As this site explains, Palm Sunday is the final Sunday of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week. On this day, many services include the carrying of palm leaves that symbolize the palm branches that surrounded Jesus as he entered Jerusalem.

Passover (April 10)

Here’s a detailed description of what the Jewish holiday — called Pesach in Hebrew — means.

National Scrabble Day (April 13)

One of my favorite Scrabble words is Qi, which, according to Merriam-Webster, is “vital energy that is held to animate the body internally and is of central importance in some Eastern systems of medical treatment (as acupuncture) and of exercise and self-defense (as tai chi).” At The Daily Beast, David Bukszpan has a poem that will help you remember it and 100 other two-letter words you can use the next time you play.