News of the Week: The Dog Days of Summer, Delivery Drones, and Dating Dos and Don’ts

Water Fight by Thornton Utz
Water Fight
Thornton Utz
June 30, 1951

And Its Not a Dry Heat

It’s 147 degrees where I live. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. It’s 91 degrees and humid. It only feels like 147.

These are “the dogs days of summer,” and the saying actually doesn’t have anything to do with dogs being lazy in July and August. It has to do with Sirius. That’s the dog star in the sky and not the satellite music channel. Though they once used a dog in their logo too. But I think it’s one of those sayings that changed over time and for all intents and purposes that’s what it means now.

Here are some classic covers of The Saturday Evening Post that celebrate these summer days. My favorite is 1951’s Water Fight by Thornton Utz. There’s so much going on in that picture.

Knock Knock. Whos There? Amazon. Amazon Who?

I don’t know if I ever want to open my front door and see a flying machine in front of it with my order from Amazon. How would that even work? Does a metal arm come out and ring your doorbell or knock on the door? Does a robotic voice call you on the phone and say “Hey, I’m outside!” or yell through an open window?

The company is testing drone delivery in Britain. Right now the tests, which aren’t allowed in the U.S., will be conducted under 400 feet, in rural and suburban areas.

These drones probably can’t deliver an 80-inch HDTV to you, but it might be great if you need socks.

Political Conventions on TV: A History

The Democrat and Republican conventions are officially over. We now return you to regular programming.

Atlas Obscura, a terrific site that explores the nooks and crannies of the world and its history, has an interesting piece about the first televised Democratic convention. It was in 1948 and it was the last one that didn’t have air conditioning (it was probably 147 degrees in there). And like this year’s Democratic convention, it was held in Philadelphia.

VHS tapes

Goodbye VCRs!

I gave up my VCR years ago, which was probably an odd thing to do since I have many, many videotapes of TV shows that will probably never be on DVD or online (and I like the old commercials that are on the shows as well). I also don’t understand DVRs. They’re great and convenient, but more than once I’ll have a bunch of episodes of a TV show on them I want to catch up on and then my cable box will die, and I’ll have to give my cable company back the box, and I lose everything I’ve recorded. Is there an easy way to transfer stuff on my DVR to DVD or my computer?

After 40 years, VCRs are going away! Funai, the last company to make the devices, has announced that they will stop making them because not many people want them anymore and the parts are hard to get.

What’s interesting is that there were 750,000 VCRs sold last year, so somebody is still buying them. I’ll probably buy another at some point. Maybe they’ll become hip again, like vinyl records and flip phones and typewriters.

RIP Marni Nixon, Jack Davis, Richard Thompson, and Miss Cleo

Marni Nixon’s voice was known more than her name, even though you didn’t know she was singing. Does that sentence make sense? Nixon was the singing voice for various actresses in many movies over the years, including Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady, Natalie Wood in West Side Story, and Deborah Kerr in The King and I. Her voice can also be heard in Cheaper By the Dozen, An Affair to Remember, Mulan, and other films. She passed away in New York City at the age of 86.

I didn’t realize that Nixon was the mother of Andrew Gold, who wrote and performed the hit song “Lonely Boy” and also wrote “Thank You for Being a Friend,” later used as the theme song to The Golden Girls. He died in 2011.

Jack Davis was one of the more influential pop culture artists of the 20th century. He was a cartoonist and illustrator and worked in many fields, from comic books and movie posters to album covers and magazines like TV Guide and Mad, where he was one of the founding artists in 1952. He was the last remaining EC Comics (Tales from the Crypt, etc.) artist. Davis passed away Wednesday at the age of 91.

Another cartoonist died this week too. Richard Thompson did the comic Cul de Sac until he had to retire because of Parkinson’s Disease in 2009. He was only 58.

Youree Dell Harris passed away this week too. You knew her better as Miss Cleo, the host of late night infomercials for The Psychic Readers Network. She died of cancer at 53.

Star Trek: Discovery

I know, I know, Star Trek posts two weeks in a row, but this is big news in Trekker-dom. At Comic-Con, CBS announced the name of the new series that will debut on the network’s streaming service All-Access in January (after the first episode is shown on CBS). The new show will be called Star Trek: Discovery (the U.S.S. Discovery is the name of the ship).

The show won’t follow the new timeline of the current big-screen movies, and executive producer Bryan Fuller says that each season of the show will focus on one story and won’t be episodic. Fuller also says the rumors going around that Discovery will take place before Star Trek: The Next Generation are false. No cast members have been announced yet.

Did You Miss Me?

Also coming in 2017 is season — or series, if you’re in England — four of Sherlock. Very excited. Here’s the trailer:

Smelly Apartments Are a Deal Breaker 

One of my favorite episodes of Friends — it’s actually one of the greatest sitcom episodes, period — is “The One with the Dirty Girl.” Not only does it come in the middle of two of the show’s great story arcs (Chandler falling in love with Joey’s girlfriend; Monica and Phoebe doing their catering service), it’s also the episode where Ross dates a really attractive woman (Rebecca Romijn) and finds out she has a truly disgusting apartment, with garbage everywhere and rats running around. As the kids say, it’s LOL funny.

I thought of that episode when reading this list of the top dating dos and don’ts. The list comes from Wayfair, the home furnishing company that appears to have nine different jingles in their commercials. The thing that guys and girls equally hate the most about potential dates? Smelly apartments. Other deal breakers include grimy bathrooms, bad plumbing, poorly behaved pets, and lack of privacy.

Men and women also seem to hate ripped upholstery. Honestly, this is something I’ve never thought of when considering who I will date.


National Cheesecake Day

When I was a kid I hated cheesecake. Looking back it wasn’t because I didn’t like the taste. In fact, I don’t think I ever had cheesecake as a kid. It was more of a “Cheese? In a dessert?!?” type of attitude. But as an adult I learned to love it. Probably too much. But a lot of people love cheesecake too much. I mean, to keep up with demand there have been entire factories built just for their production.

Tomorrow is National Cheesecake Day. Here’s a recipe for chocolate chip cheesecake from Bake or Break, and here’s a classic no-bake version from Kraft that uses Philadelphia Cream Cheese. If it’s 147 degrees where you are, you might not want to turn on the oven.

A convention in Philadelphia and Philadelphia Cream Cheese. This was a theme week.

Upcoming Events and Anniversaries

I Want My MTV! (August 1, 1981)

Here’s the very first video that was broadcast on the network.

Germany and Russia go to war (August 1, 1914)

Is the Great War still relevant?

Iraq invasion of Kuwait (August 2, 1990)

After Iraq defied United Nations sanctions and orders, the United States and Coalition forces launched an attack on January16, 1991.

Ernie Pyle born (August 3, 1900)

The great war correspondent was born in Dana, Indiana, and was killed near Okinawa, Japan, in 1945.

First issue of The Saturday Evening Post published (August 4, 1821)

SEP Archives Director Jeff Nilsson takes a look at some of our earliest issues.

Marilyn Monroe dies (August 5, 1962)

Here’s a terrific profile of the actress by Pete Martin, from the May 5, 1956, issue of The Saturday Evening Post.