News of the Week: The Joy of Pencils, a Musical Lawsuit, and Burgers and Shakes for Labor Day

No Siree, My Clue Was Good, I Can Prove It!

School has started — or will soon be starting, depending on where you live — and that means all of the kids and their parents are going to Staples and Target to buy their school supplies. I won’t pretend I loved school when I was a kid, but I certainly loved buying all of the notebooks and pencils and other things I would need for the school year. Funny how I never used a pen as a kid; it was always a pencil. Now I’m starting to get back into pencils, thanks to discovering the Blackwing line. I spend way too much money on writing utensils and paper products.

CBS This Morning’s John Dickerson is also a notebook and pen aficionado, and here he talks about his love of pencils, the memories they invoke, and how they can be a tool in the war against information overload and being in front of a screen all day.

By the way, bonus points to anyone who gets what I’m referring to with the “no siree” line. No fair Googling! If you give up, here’s the answer.

Breaking News about “Breaking News”

This hasn’t been a good month for Michael Jackson.

Last week I told you that the Eagles had overtaken the King of Pop for the No. 1 spot when it comes to album sales. Now we find out that some songs on an album released after Jackson died might not even feature his voice.

There’s a class action lawsuit going on involving Sony and fans, and many online news sources reported that Sony actually admitted the songs weren’t sung by Jackson but by an impersonator. But that’s not exactly what lawyers for Sony said. They were giving a hypothetical legal argument based on the merits of the case and said, “even if the vocals weren’t Jackson’s …” Of course, some people might think that just bringing up a defense like that means it’s possible the songs are sung by someone else.

This actually isn’t a new story. Rumors have been swirling since the album Michael came out in 2010 that the vocals aren’t Jackson’s, and while members of Jackson’s family at first said it was him, some of them now aren’t sure. You can judge for yourself. Music experts say it’s Jackson. Here are “Breaking News,” “Monster,” and “Keep Your Head Up.”

Booze News

Don’t drink alcohol.

That seems to be the results of a new global study published in The Lancet last week. In fact, experts are saying that no amount of alcohol is safe. It’s the type of news that makes you want to, well, take a drink.

This comes many years after all the experts told us that one glass a day of red wine is good for us. Now it seems that all alcohol has turned into battery acid or something. But hey! Here’s an expert who says that we shouldn’t panic. (I choose to believe this expert.)

But even if it turns out alcohol isn’t good for us, we can still eat meat and cheese and chocolate.


The Old Man and the Gun

Robert Redford announced recently that he is retiring from acting. Here’s the trailer for his last movie, The Old Man and the Gun, which will be released on September 28. Looks good!

Chicago, 1968

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, an event marked by riots, arrests, and CBS newsman Dan Rather getting punched on live television. It was just one of the many intense events of a very tumultuous year, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote in the classic Post article “Has This Country Gone Mad?

RIP John McCain, Neil Simon, and Robin Leach

John McCain was a war hero, a longtime Arizona senator, and the Republican nominee for president in 2008. He died Saturday at the age of 81.

Here’s McCain’s farewell letter to the nation, and here’s what fellow senator and close friend Lindsey Graham had to say about McCain a few days ago.

Neil Simon was the acclaimed writer of such plays as The Odd Couple, Barefoot in the Park, Come Blow Your HornSweet Charity, Lost in Yonkers, and Biloxi Blues. He also wrote several screenplays and worked alongside Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner for the classic 1950s variety show Your Show of Shows. He died last week at the age of 91.

Robin Leach was the man who wished us “champagne wishes and caviar dreams” on the popular show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. He died last Friday at the age of 76.

This Week in History

Lyndon Baines Johnson Born (August 29, 1908)

Author Robert Caro has been writing a multi-volume biography of the 36th president, starting with 1982’s The Path to Power. He’s working on the final book in the series now. Late-night host Conan O’Brien, a huge fan of Caro’s, has been trying to get the writer on his show for years, to no avail. But he’s not going to stop trying.

Beatles’ Last Concert (August 29, 1966)

This was the last concert that John, Paul, George, and Ringo put on … unless you count the impromptu performance on that roof.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Postcards (August 25, 1951)

Old man selecting post cards from a rack
Stevan Dohanos
August 25, 1951

What I love about this Stevan Dohanos cover is that it takes something rather mundane — buying postcards during a summer vacation — and makes it rather beautiful.

End of Summer Recipes

Sure, I can call this section “End of Summer Recipes,” but it’s hard to do that when I’m sitting here in 90-degree temps and dew points in the 60s. Just as I finished that sentence, the power went out for a few seconds. Now I’m typing this knowing it’s not going to be saved until my internet comes back. This is the second time the power has gone out today. Funny, I can go through an entire winter of storms, with wet snow and ice and intense winds and not have one power outage, but when it’s really hot, I can get two in one morning.

But Labor Day marks the official (or is that unofficial?) end of the summer season, and here are some recipes to try this weekend. How about these Sweet Hawaiian Mini Burgers or this German Potato Salad, which uses mustard instead of mayonnaise, so millennials will like it? For a refreshing drink, you can try this Vintage Lemonade, and for dessert this cold Hershey’s Chocolate Milkshake.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go turn my fan back on.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

V-J Day (September 2)

This marks the day that Japan surrendered to the Allies during World War II. It can be a confusing holiday because “V-J Day” can be a reference to the day that Japan’s surrender was announced (August 14 or 15 in the UK and other places, depending on your time zone) and September 2 in the US, which is the day that Japan officially signed the surrender papers.

Labor Day (September 3)

Here’s a gallery of Post covers that show how labor and the workforce have changed over the decades.

Read a Book Day (September 6)

Come on. You should read a book every day!


News of the Week: Facebook’s Future, Han Solo’s Past, and a Bunch of Flowers You Can Eat


We all go through a lot of painful times in our lives. We endure broken bones and root canals and tax audits and maybe even some particularly bad paper cuts. When I was a kid, I had such a bad earache one night that I had to go to the emergency room. (Oddly, the pain went away while I was sitting in the waiting room.)

But there are very few things in life as painful as watching people of a certain age who know nothing about technology talk about technology. That was the case this week when several senators and representatives questioned Mark Zuckerberg about the latest privacy scandal involving Facebook.

I’m not a fan of social media (you may have read about that in this column 2, 3, or 5,000 times), but it would have been better to get some questions from people who actually knew something about, well, social media. Sure, some of the questions were clever, some incisive, and some even focused on Facebook’s power, but too many questions showcased a lack of understanding of not only how Facebook works but how internet advertising works in general, especially if you love chocolate. Some of the people asking questions actually thought that FaceMash — a joke version of Facebook from when Zuckerberg was still in college — was still in business.

It’s not that a lot of the officials asking questions didn’t know how algorithms work or how cookies are stored on a browser. A lot of people don’t get that stuff. But if you’re holding two days of hearings questioning the CEO of a company that shared the data of 87 million of its customers, you would hope those people would know that when you “reboot,” it doesn’t mean you put your boots on again.


It was almost enough to make me feel bad for a multi-billionaire. Almost.


I have a problem with the Star Wars movies. I haven’t yet seen the most recent film, The Last Jedi, but I did see all of the films before it and something really bothers me.

(This is where I put a space and give you plenty of notice that SPOILERS FOLLOW.)

Han Solo dies in The Force Awakens. Now, this in itself isn’t a big deal, since heroes die in movies all the time, but it makes it hard to watch the first three in the series (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi). If you go back and watch them now, you see that when they succeed in their mission and Han and Princess Leia have a family, it doesn’t lead to peace and happiness in the universe. It leads to the birth of their son, who grows up to kill a bunch of people, lead a new war, and eventually kill his father Han Solo. That’s really an odd thing to have in the back of your mind as you watch everyone smiling and Ewoks dancing at the end of Return of the Jedi.

Anyway, here’s the trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story, the prequel that depicts the early adventures of Han (played by Alden Ehrenreich). It’s directed by Ron Howard and opens on May 25.


The world’s oldest military veteran (and probably the oldest person in the U.S.) just took a ride on a private jet.

Richard Overton of Texas served in the Army during World War II, and he recently received a free trip to visit the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. He still lives in Austin, Texas, in the same home he built 70 years ago.

It’s really amazing to think that Overton was born in 1906. That’s the year of the great San Francisco earthquake, six years before the Titanic sank, and eight years before the start of World War I. Teddy Roosevelt was president.

Herman Wouk Deserves a Medal

It’s not 111, but 102 years old is pretty good, too. That’s the age of writer Herman Wouk, famous for the novels The Caine Mutiny, The Winds of War, and War and Remembrance. He even wrote for comedian Fred Allen in the 1930s and ’40s! There’s a petition on the White House website to honor Wouk with a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Wouk turns 103 next month, so let’s get that medal for him now. He needs 100,000 signatures before the White House will consider it.

Friday the 13th

If you’re the superstitious type, you’re probably spending today avoiding black cats, ladders, and mirrors (you don’t want to chance breaking one). Maybe you’re so paranoid that you don’t even want to take any risks and you’re reading this on your laptop while curled up in bed.

You’ve probably wondered how Friday the 13th became Friday the 13th. If you’re really young, you might think it has to do with the gory film franchise (it doesn’t). Instead, it involves the Knights Templar, Judas Iscariot, and/or the number 13 itself.

If you do fear the day, you’ll be happy to know there’s a name for your fear: friggatriskaidekaphobia. That’s something you can tell people today. You can explain that you’re not crazy, because there’s actually a name for it.

RIP Susan Anspach, Cecil Taylor, Soon-Tek Oh, Chuck McCann, and Mitzi Shore

Susan Anspach was an actress who appeared in movies like Five Easy Pieces and Play It Again, Sam and TV shows like The Slap Maxwell Story and The Yellow Rose. She died last Monday at the age of 75.

Cecil Taylor was an acclaimed jazz pianist known for his innovative style. He died last Thursday at the age of 89.

Soon-Tek Oh appeared in a million TV shows and movies over the years. Too many to list here. He died last Wednesday at the age of 85.

Chuck McCann was a veteran comic and actor who had a really varied career, from roles in movies (The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter) and TV shows to classic, long-running TV commercials. He even originated the voice of Sonny, the “Cuckoo for Cocoa-Puffs” bird. He died Sunday at the age of 83.

Mitzi Shore was the owner of The Comedy Store in Los Angeles, where many comics, including Robin Williams, David Letterman, Jay Leno, Billy Crystal, and Roseanne Barr, got their start. She was the mother of Pauly Shore. She died Wednesday at the age of 87.

Quote of the Week

“We had to decide, do we go back into the lobby or into the elevator? Those are terrible options when what you’re looking for is a hospital.”

Late Night host Seth Meyers, whose wife went into labor in the lobby of their apartment building last weekend

This Week in History

The Great Gatsby Published (April 10, 1925)

The F. Scott Fitzgerald novel is on most “best novels of all time” lists. You can read it for free at the Internet Archive.

Apollo 13 Launched (April 11, 1970)

The seventh manned Apollo mission almost ended in tragedy when an accident occurred around hour 56. It was the basis for the 1995 Tom Hanks movie Apollo 13 and the source of a famous quote that a lot of people get wrong.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Men Working (April 12, 1947)

Men Working
Stevan Dohanos
April 12, 1947

My favorite detail of this Stevan Dohanos cover is that the guy hasn’t even finished painting the “Men Working” sign.

Spring Recipes

To me, spring food = boring food. In the winter we have enticing, filling comfort foods like pasta and chili and steak and soups. Spring means … salad?

But if we’re going to eat during the warmer months of the year — and the latest medical evidence suggests we should — let’s make sure they’re the best salads we can eat. Here’s a recipe for a classic Cobb Salad, which seems to have everything in it but chocolate and potato chips. Here’s a Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad, and our own Curtis Stone has a recipe for an Apple Salad. And here’s a list of edible flowers (yes, flowers) you can throw into your favorite salad. Dandelions are okay, but stay away from those azaleas.

Supposedly, if you eat a lot of salads, they’ll help you live longer. Maybe to 102 or even 111.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Taxes Due (April 17)

Spring is also tax time! You get two extra days to file this year because the 15th is a Sunday and the 16th is Emancipation Day in Washington, D.C.

National High Five Day (April 19)

Maybe you can give yourself one when you finish doing your taxes.