One Is the Loneliest Number
All the things we used to love are going away.
Post Archive Director Jeff Nilsson highlighted some of them in this piece from earlier this year, and in addition to things like neighborhood mailboxes, department stores, and bank branches, he included Blockbuster Video. He mentioned that there were 10 Blockbuster stores left (there were almost 9,000 in its heyday), with seven of them being in Alaska. As of a few weeks ago, there were only two left in Alaska, and those two stores closed last week. What all that video store math means is that there is now only one Blockbuster left anywhere, and I’m running it out of my apartment.
Well, no. Actually, the last Blockbuster is in Bend, Oregon. Yup, you can still go there and rent movies! In an odd way, the closing of all of the Blockbuster locations might be a blessing to the last location, because now they’re getting a lot of press for being the last one, and maybe they’ll get more customers, the ones who might want to go there out of a feeling of nostalgia or don’t want to stream or rent from that Redbox at the supermarket. CBS’s Jamie Yuccas visited the store and filed this story.
Poker isn’t as popular as it once was. There actually might be more people playing it these days — especially online — but it’s not as “hot” as it was 10 or 15 years ago, when ESPN and other networks started televising tournaments and a different kind of “sports” star emerged. It pretty much started when unknown Chris Moneymaker (such a perfect name) won the World Series of Poker in 2003. He made people think they could win too.
This year’s winner was crowned last week at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. John Cynn beat Tony Miles in an epic showdown that lasted 10 ½ hours and 442 hands, including a spectacular made-for-TV hand where Miles made a successful $95 million bluff.
Cynn won $8.8 million and a nice World Series of Poker bracelet. He had a nice run in 2016 too; he came in 11th.
There’s a scene in the original 1933 film version of King Kong where the giant ape is unveiled on stage at a Broadway theater. I’ve always wondered why the people who captured Kong would unveil him in that matter (with all those people, not knowing how strong he is?). But it’s a great idea and a great visual: A giant ape on a stage in front of an audience escapes and goes on a rampage.
Now we’ll be able to experience that same scene with King Kong: Alive on Broadway, the Broadway version of a show that ran in Australia and has been in the works for several years. It’s going to include some impressive animatronics and special effects, as this Hollywood Reporter behind-the-scenes video illustrates.
Green Acres: The Musical
It probably won’t be as exciting as King Kong, but maybe you’d like to see a stage show based on a ’60s sitcom.
We could probably think of a lot of TV sitcoms that might work as stage musicals. Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie come immediately to mind, not only for the plots and settings that would lend themselves to the stage, but also for what they could do with the magic scenes. But I wouldn’t have thought at all that Green Acres would be coming to Broadway, though that’s exactly what is in the works.
If you don’t remember the show, lawyer Oliver Douglas and his wife Lisa move from New York City to a small-town farm. He wants to do it; she hates the idea. Wacky chaos ensues. The official press release for the stage show says, “What happens when two people in love find themselves wanting opposite lives sends us on a journey that is both hilarious and filled with heart.” That certainly sounds more ambitious than the TV show.
Coming soon: F Troop: Alive on Broadway!
Blondie Won’t Be Coming to Blu-ray (Not Yet Anyway)
You might be familiar with the series of Blondie movies released in the 1940s, based on the classic comic strip. Turner Classic Movies runs them. You might not know that there was a TV series in 1957, however. It starred Arthur Lake and Pamela Britton and ran for 24 episodes. Recently there was a campaign to get the series released on Blu-ray and … well, it failed.
David Kawas, founder of ClassicFlix, created a Kickstarter for the project, which needed to reach $20,000. Unfortunately, when the campaign ended last week, it had only reached $6,626. Oh well. Maybe he’ll try it again in the future.
Interestingly, there was also a 1968 Blondie sitcom that ran for only 13 episodes.
How Do You Store Bread?
That may seem like an odd question, but not if you think about it. There are many ways to close and store a bag of bread, as shown in this illustration by graphic designer Kallista Zhang. Which do you do?
We're all in agreement here that chaotic neutral is the most efficient and easy way to store bread, right? pic.twitter.com/EtdSi2WGS0
— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) July 12, 2018
I’m a Lawful Neutral person (even if the artist did confuse things by calling the twist tie that comes with bread a “bag clip,” which is a different thing). I don’t trust Chaotic Evil people.
RIP Nancy Sinatra Sr., Roger Perry, and Ron Satlof
Nancy Sinatra Sr. was the first wife of Frank Sinatra and the mother of his three children (Nancy, Frank, and Tina). She died last Friday at the age of 101.
Roger Perry was a veteran actor who appeared on such shows as Star Trek, Arrest and Trial, The Facts of Life, and Falcon Crest, as well as cult classic movies like The Thing with Two Heads and Count Yorga, Vampire. He died last week at the age of 85.
Ron Satlof was an assistant director on the Martin Scorsese film Mean Streets and director of eight Perry Mason TV movies and dozens of episodes of other shows. He died earlier this month at the age of 79.
This Week in History
First Atomic Bomb Test (July 16, 1945)
The test, code-named “Trinity,” happened in the New Mexico desert and was the result of years of testing as part of the secret Manhattan Project.
The Catcher in the Rye Published (July 16, 1951)
The classic J.D. Salinger novel is one of those books that every American should read, and you can for free at the Internet Archive.
This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Lookout Point (July 18, 1953)
This Richard Sargent cover shows a family on Point Lookout at Lookout Mountain in Tennessee. Point Lookout is now called Sunset Rock.
How dare those kids actually have their noses in books! Today, those kids would be on their phones.
Quote of the Week
“Order Restored: The Guy in the Office Who Was Always Watching the World Cup Is Back to Having Nothing”
—headline at ClickHole, sister site of The Onion
Fortune Cookie Day
I don’t eat as much Chinese food as I used to, so I haven’t opened a fortune cookie in a few years (the person who delivers my pizzas never has any fortune cookies). Today is Fortune Cookie Day, and you can celebrate in one of two ways. You can order some Chinese food tonight and get one, or you can play with this online fortune cookie generator.
I got “A great person was born on your birthday.” It’s nice if they’re talking about me, but they’re probably referring to Cole Porter.
Next Week’s Holidays and Events
Shark Week (starts July 22)
This is the 30th anniversary of Discovery Channel’s annual extravaganza of shark-related programming. Here’s the Post’s Bill Newcott with a montage of great film and TV moments involving sharks.
System Administrator Day (July 27)
If your company’s computer network is up and running, this is the day to thank your SysAdmin.
This Is Snot Your Father’s Toy Fair
Here’s a memory: Creepy Crawlers.
They were bugs you made in the oven. You put the goop into tray molds and then bake it. Voilà! Wiggly bugs to freak out your mom and older sisters. I thought of those while reading about this week’s New York Toy Fair and some of the new outlandish toys that made their debut.
Toys are now a lot more bodily-function-oriented than when you and I were kids. They’ve come a long way since Creepy Crawlers, Wacky Packages, and Whoopee Cushions. For example, there’s Sticky the Poo from Hog Wild, which is exactly what you think it is, and sticks to your walls and appliances. Hasbro has a game called Don’t Step In It, where blindfolded players have to avoid … actually, you can probably guess the object of the game, so I’m not going to finish that sentence.
Not to be outdone, KD Games has a new game called Snot It, where you put on what at first looks like an ordinary old-fashioned pair of glasses and nose, but actually has something hanging from the nose that you use to pick up game pieces. I’ve tried to explain that as delicately as I can, but you have to see it for yourself.
I hope kids still play Monopoly too.
What Color Is a Tennis Ball?
It’s yellow. Hey, we settled that quickly!
Or is it green? That’s the discussion people are having online as tennis season gets into full swing. A Twitter user put up a poll this week asking followers what color the ball is. 52 percent of respondents say it’s green, while 42 percent say yellow.
Yes, this is turning into another “Is the dress black and blue or white and gold?” debate.
Six percent of the respondents said the color was “other,” which makes me wonder what this “other” color could be.
And the Worst President Is…
Speaking of polls, the American Political Science Association released one this week in which 170 scholars were asked for their list of the best and worst U.S. presidents. The ones you imagine would be near the top are indeed at the top (Lincoln, Washington, both Roosevelts, Jefferson, Truman), and the bottom-dwellers are the ones you’d expect to see there too (Pierce, Harrison, and Buchanan). I think it’s rather unfair for Harrison to be listed as one of the worst. The poor guy died of pneumonia just a month after being sworn in (he refused to wear a jacket on the day of the inauguration because he wanted to look stoic), so maybe there should be an asterisk next to his name.
Our current president came in dead last, though if we’re to be fair, the others are being judged on full four- or eight-year terms, when Trump has only been in office for a little over a year.
But a lot of people have always chosen Andrew Johnson, who came in fifth from the bottom on the poll, as the worst of all time. CBS Sunday Morning correspondent Mo Rocca did a segment on Johnson and the town that is still proud of him.
The Book of the Month Club Is Still Around
Are books here to stay? Random House co-founder and What’s My Line? panelist Bennett Cerf wrote a piece for the Post back in 1958, when television was starting to rule our minds, answering that very question. Post Archive Director Jeff Nilsson asked the same question in 2013, and with the popularity of eBooks and various reading devices rising, it’s a question worth talking about. If my spending habits are any indication, books are never going to go away, and in fact, even if a book is digital and not print, it’s still a “book” (print vs. digital is a different debate).
But as someone who buys a lot of books, I was happy to come across the website for the Book of the Month Club this week. Honestly, I didn’t know they were still around. Looks like they’ve updated things for the age of the internet. The club is a great way to not only encourage reading, but also to find some books you might not find or select for yourself.
“Twizzle” sounds like something Snoop Dogg would say, but it’s actually the name of an ice skating move currently being performed and talked about at the Winter Olympics in South Korea. But fans of The Dick Van Dyke Show know what the real dance move is (and I apologize in advance because this song is going to be in your head for the rest of the day):
RIP Billy Graham
The Reverend Billy Graham was known as “America’s pastor.” Besides preaching to millions of people around the world for several decades, he was a counselor to every U.S. president since Harry Truman. He died Wednesday at the age of 99.
A profile of Graham, written by Harold H. Martin, appeared in the April 13, 1963, issue of the Post.
The Best and the Worst
The best: This piece by Tim Wu at The New York Times on the tyranny of convenience. This issue has worried me for the past decade or so, with how we often give up quality just because something is quicker or more convenient.
The worst of the week just might be Fergie’s jazzy, sexy rendition of the National Anthem at the NBA All-Star Game. It’s not often you see players and fans openly laughing at the singer of the national anthem. Is it the worst of all time, though? It’s certainly the most, well, different version of the song that we’ve heard at a national sporting event, though one could argue that Roseanne Barr’s 1990 performance is even worse. At least Roseanne was trying to be funny. And hey, she didn’t have to write the lyrics on her hand.
Quote of the Week
“We really want girls to be cookie entrepreneurs, to find new and creative ways to reach customers.”
—AnneMarie Harper, spokeswoman for the Colorado Girl Scouts, after one of the girls sold 300 boxes of cookies outside of a marijuana shop.
This Week in History
Huckleberry Finn Published (February 18, 1885)
In the September 22, 1900, issue of the Post, reporter Homer Bassford went to Hannibal, Missouri, to speak with the boyhood friends of writer Mark Twain (aka Samuel Clemens).
First Woolworth Opens (February 22, 1878)
One of my fondest memories of childhood was going downtown to Woolworth’s and shopping with my mom. I can still remember where everything was, including the staircase that led down to the toy department. The building is still there. The awning is gone, and it’s now occupied by several small businesses, but you can make out what it once was.
This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Frosty in the Freezer (February 21, 1959)
This cover by John Falter has to be one of the oddest the Post has featured. It has always seemed a little like the start of a horror movie to me. The mom finds a snowman in the basement freezer and she assumes it’s dead, but the cold has kept it alive and it attacks her. The movie’s tagline: He’ll be back again some day.
Today Is National Banana Bread Day
I don’t know why people insist on putting walnuts in banana bread, ruining what is otherwise a terrific dessert and/or snack, but here’s Curtis Stone’s recipe, which seems to go out of its way to mention that it features “lots of toasted walnuts,” just to irritate me.
Next Week’s Holidays and Events
National Sword Swallower’s Day (February 24)
It’s great that sword swallowers have a day all to themselves, but I feel the need to say “don’t try this at home.”
National Pig Day (March 1)
How does one celebrate this day without actually eating something made from a pig, which would be a rather cynical thing to do? Maybe by reading this story about Pigcasso, the pig who paints. Right now she only gets food rewards for her work, but I bet they could sell one of the paintings for a lot of money and really bring home the bacon.
(Sorry about that.)