News of the Week: Roger Moore, the Revenge of Print, and the Return of the Bride of Frankenstein

RIP Roger Moore, Dina Merrill, Anne R. Dick, and Marsh McCall

Roger Moore
By Allan warren (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
Every generation has their favorite James Bond, usually the one you remember seeing in movie theaters. I’m a Sean Connery guy, but the first 007 I saw in theaters was Roger Moore, who died earlier this week at the age of 89. Moore also played another famous character, The Saint, for several seasons and appeared in Maverick, Ivanhoe, and The Persuaders with Tony Curtis.

Here’s a great story from a fan that illustrates the type of person Moore was.

Dina Merrill was an actress and philanthropist (she was the daughter of E.F. Hutton and Post cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post), appearing in such movies as Desk Set, Operation Petticoat, BUtterfield 8, and The Player, as well as TV shows like To Tell the Truth, Murder, She Wrote, and Batman. She passed away Monday at the age of 93.

Anne R. Dick was a jewelry-maker, publisher, and writer who was also a major inspiration in the writings of her husband, Philip K. Dick, author of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (which was turned into the movie Blade Runner), The Man in the High Castle, and many other books and stories. She wrote a memoir of their time together, The Search for Philip K. Dick, and was about to publish her first novel. She died in April at the age of 90.

Marsh McCall started his TV career as a writer on Late Night with Conan OBrien and went on to write for such shows as Just Shoot Me! and The Naked Truth. He was also a producer on Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing and the Full House reboot, Fuller House, and co-created My Big Fat Greek Life. He died Sunday at the age of 52.

Print Books Are Back!

I prefer print books over e-books. It’s not that I’m a Luddite and don’t want to get involved with electronic versions of books — hey, I have the Kindle app! — it’s just that I prefer the look, the feel, the history, even the smell of the printed page. Honestly, I spend so much time in front of screens already. I’m always looking for a way to get away from them, and print lets me do that.

It seems a lot of other people like them too, as this piece at The Guardian explains. E-book sales reached a high in 2014 but ever since then have seen their sales drop. In fact, last year, sales dropped 17 percent. It’s also interesting to see that while many big bookstore chains have failed or aren’t doing too well, independent bookstores are doing better.

I don’t think e-books are going away, leaving us in a world where just print books exist — digital is still where we’re headed — but I think there’s a real future for print that goes beyond just being a niche product that only collectors are still interested in. Print books and bookstores are here to stay.

The American Writers Museum

Many of the books you’ll find in those bookstores (boy, that’s a tortured segue) were written by classic American writers, and now you can go to one place that celebrates their work. The American Writers Museum in Chicago opened recently and showcases the work of such writers as Mark Twain, Herman Melville, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jack London, Shirley Jackson, John Updike, Kurt Vonnegut, David Foster Wallace, and even I Love Lucy writer Madelyn Pugh Davis (who, by the way, went to the same high school as both Kurt Vonnegut and former Saturday Evening Post owner Beurt SerVaas).

It won’t surprise you that, yes, many of those writers wrote for the Post, including Fitzgerald, London, Jackson, and Vonnegut.

Journalists Aren’t Normal, Study Shows

No, this isn’t another story about so-called fake news. It’s about a scientific study that shows journalists’ brains aren’t the same as everyone else’s.

Neuroscientist Tara Swart, in association with the London Press Club, interviewed and tested 40 journalists from various newspapers, magazines, and websites and found out that not only do their brains show a lower-than-average level of functioning than the average population, they’re also more prone to dehydration, to not getting enough exercise, to an inability to “silence the mind,” and to self-medicate with caffeine, sugary foods, and alcohol.

Every single writer and journalist will tell you that those findings are absolutely true.

The study wasn’t all bad news. It also showed that journalists did very well with things like “abstraction” (the ability to deal with ideas rather than events) and “value tagging” (the ability to figure out what’s important or what has meaning). It just so happens that, to many journalists, those important things are caffeine, sugary foods, and alcohol.

Frankenstein and The Mummy and The Creature, Oh My!

Universal Studios wants to make a monster movie universe, a series of connected movies, much like all the Marvel movies are connected and part of the same universe. And they’re going back to their roots to create that universe.

With the launch of The Mummy (with Tom Cruise) on June 9, the studio is well on its way to forming what is being called a “Dark Universe.” Other movies in the series will include The Invisible Man (with Johnny Depp), Van Helsing, and new versions of Frankenstein (with Javier Bardem) and The Bride of Frankenstein.

I hope they don’t ruin these movies with too many special effects when it comes to the actual monsters. They have to be guys in suits, right? That’s the only way these movies will work. Part of the charm of the original Creature from the Black Lagoon was that we knew it was a guy in a creature suit swimming around. I don’t want to see a CGI Creature or Frankenstein.

Finally, You Can Drink a Latte out of an Avocado

I didn’t realize that drinking something out of a food was a thing, but then again, I’m just getting caught up on fidget spinners and Harry Styles.

The Truman Cafe in Melbourne, Australia, is currently serving the Avolatte, which combines two Australia favorites, lattes and avocados. It started as a joke, but now it has taken off and everyone is talking about it.

It probably won’t catch on, and soon we’ll be on to the next fad. Maybe my invention will become popular: drinking Diet Pepsi out of a hollowed-out tomato. I call it The Tomepsi.

This Week in History

Arthur Conan Doyle Born (May 22, 1859)

The creator of Sherlock Holmes contributed several articles to The Saturday Evening Post, including “The End of Devil Hawker,” a nonfiction piece about the wrongful conviction of a half-English, half-Indian man, George Edalji.

Dunkirk Evacuation Begins (May 26, 1940)

Also known as Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk’s beaches and harbor on the French coast took place between May 26 and June 4.

Director Christopher Nolan’s new movie about the event, Dunkirk, opens on July 21. Here’s the trailer:

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: First Cake Cover (May 21, 1955)

First Cake by Stevan Dohanos From May 21, 1955
First Cake by Stevan Dohanos From May 21, 1955

I love that kitchen. I want to live in a time and place where that kitchen exists. This cover is by the great Stevan Dohanos, and it’s so well done you don’t even have to see the date on the cover to know it’s from the 1950s. But it proves you can have all of the most modern appliances in your kitchen and they still won’t guarantee you’ll make a great cake. Even the oven looks shocked at how it turned out.

National Cherry Dessert Day

Today is the day when you can officially eat cherry-inspired desserts, such as these Cherry Oatmeal Cookies or this Cherry Dream Cake. You can also make Mary’s Royal Cherry Trifle. “Mary” is Mary Berry, the tough but fair British food writer and co-host of The Great British Bake Off and The Great American Baking Show.

If you want to pour a latte into one of these desserts, well, I guess I can’t stop you. I don’t think Mary would be too happy about it, though.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Memorial Day (May 29)

This Monday isn’t just the unofficial kickoff to summer, the day to fire up the grill and get out the patio furniture and bug spray; it’s also a day to honor our heroes.

National Doughnut Day (June 1)​

There are actually two National Doughnut Days (the other is on November 5), but most people consider this day the official day, as this Mental Floss piece explains. But feel free to celebrate both if you really like doughnuts.

3 Questions for Sir Roger Moore

Roger Moore
Roger Moore, known for his seven James Bond flicks, as well as the TV series The Saint and a raft of other roles, recently published his third book, One Lucky Bastard — Tales from Tinseltown. (Photo by Terry O’Neill)

At 86, Roger Moore is as elegant and suave as ever. Time hasn’t dimmed his piercing deep blue eyes or his sly wit. The actor, known for his seven James Bond flicks, as well as the TV series The Saint and a raft of other roles, was knighted in 2003 by Queen Elizabeth for his work with UNICEF. These days, he kicks back at homes in Monaco and Switzerland with his fourth wife, Kristina Tholstrup — they’ve been together for 21 years — but you can’t exactly say he’s retired. Having recently published his third book, One Lucky Bastard — Tales from Tinseltown, now he’s taking his show on the road with An Evening with Sir Roger Moore. “I talk about the early days and the interesting stuff that happened to me. I even sometimes sing. Well, not actually. I make a noise that I call singing.”

Moore is the first to admit that his years as James Bond have never left him. But he’d like to set the record straight on one thing. “I never said ‘a martini should be shaken not stirred.’ I was nervous enough about having to say, ‘Bond, the name is James Bond,’ because I was afraid it would sound like I was doing an impression of Sean.”

Jeanne Wolf: You’ve had such an eventful life. Do you feel like a lucky bastard?

Roger Moore: Oh, absolutely. I can remember being told when I started out in the business that you needed 33 percent talent, 33 percent personality and looks, and 33 percent luck. I say it’s 99.9 percent luck. I’ve had a number of friends who were very talented, but luck didn’t come their way.

JW: You’ve been married four times. Are you wiser about women at this point in your life?

RM: The secret is that the man always will have the last word, which is “yes-dear.” When it comes to the ladies I’ve shared sets with, I credit Lana Turner for teaching me about kissing. In Diane when the king dies, I say to Lana, “You made me a prince, now make me a king,” and I’m supposed to throw myself on her and kiss her throat. In the first take she fell backward choking and said, “Cut, cut! Roger you are a wonderful kisser but when a lady gets to 35 she has to be careful about the neck. So do it again with the same amount of passion but less pressure.” As for love scenes, usually it’s 8 o’clock on a Monday morning, the studio has been shut over the weekend, the heat hasn’t been on, you’re freezing cold, it’s the middle of winter, and you have to sort of leap into bed with a lady who drops her towel or is wrapped modestly under the sheets and then the romance should start. There is no romance. I remember at the beginning of the first Bond film that I ever did I was in bed with an actress who was very well developed. And I had to have my arm over her rather voluptuous breasts to show that I was wearing a Pulsar watch because they’d paid a lot to get the publicity.

JW: You’ve changed a lot over the years and so has the Bond franchise. What do you think of the new guy, Daniel Craig?

RM: The 007 films have become far more action-oriented, a little more spectacular, and I think that Daniel is the right man for the time. Actually, I think he would have been the right man for any time because he really looks like James Bond should look — like a killer as Sean Connery did. Some people labeled me the most gentlemanly Bond. I think I said, “I could never kill anybody so I’d either bore them to death or hug them to death.” I was a part of some action scenes but I was always thinking “Am I quick enough on my feet to get out of the way of that?” That’s when the ego steps in and you say, “Oh, yes. I can do that. I’m a hero.” But inside I was quivering like mad.