News of the Week: Buttered Rolls, Marilyn Monroe, and Rockwell at the Swimming Hole

Only in New York? 

Another week, another controversy that breaks the internet. Sometimes you can see them coming, like that Google manifesto that has the left and the right taking sides, or weird/funny videos that go viral. But sometimes something takes over the web that you could never predict, like that dress a couple of years ago that no one knew the color of (I knew it was black and blue!) Yes, there was a day when everyone online was arguing about the color of a dress.  

Now we have a new controversy: buttered rolls! 

This New York Times piece by Sadie Stein extols the virtues of the buttered roll, which she and many other people say is a thing unique to New York City. Now, you might have the same first reaction that I and many other people online had: Can’t you get buttered rolls, well, everywhere?  

Apparently not! Not like the ones in New York! To be fair, it seems like Stein’s talking about a certain type of roll (a big hard roll with butter in the middle, almost like a butter sandwich) that you get in certain places, like bodegas and carts and delis, and you eat it for breakfast with your morning coffee. I’ve never had one of these, but they still seem like, you know, a roll with butter. I’ve had a lot of those.  

This paragraph stands out:

Though of course bread and butter are eaten all over, the buttered roll (or roll with butter, as it is known in parts of New Jersey) is a distinctly local phenomenon. Mention its name outside the New York metropolitan area and you would very likely be met with blank incomprehension.

I very much doubt that, even if our buttered rolls aren’t “buttered rolls.” But what do I know? The article has a lot of defenders, including Stein’s New York Times cohort Pete Wells, and detractors, like BuzzFeed’s Tom Gara. Stein knew there would be people who didn’t understand:

David Letterman Is Back!

I knew he wouldn’t stay away. As soon as I heard him talking about how he wished he had thought of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee and noticed that he had started to do more interviews and podcasts, I knew he would be the anti–Johnny Carson and actually come out of retirement to do another show. Letterman just signed with Netflix to do six episodes of a new talk show starting in 2018. Instead of many guests, Letterman will sit down with one guest for the entire show. I’m thinking it’s going to be more Charlie Rose, less The Late Show.

But Dave, please, shave off that beard.

Speaking of Netflix…

Pop quiz: Who’s going to play Lucille Ball in a new biopic Aaron Sorkin (The West WingThe Social NetworkA Few Good Men) is writing for the streaming service?

  1. Cate Blanchett
  2. Meryl Streep
  3. Debra Messing
  4. Tea Leoni
  5. Amy Adams

Here’s the answer. Now we can all make our predictions on who should play Desi Arnaz.

Does America Have a Tattoo Problem?

I was watching an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show a while back. Sally was telling Rob and Buddy that she would date a guy who had a mustache even though she never liked them before. She then said the next thing she was going to be into was tattoos, which shows how rare it was for men to have them back then (unless you were in the military).

How times have changed. You can’t leave the house without seeing at least one man (or woman) who has at least one tattoo. This piece at The Federalist argues that America has a tattoo problem.

I’ve never been tempted to get a tattoo. I did think about getting my ear pierced for about five minutes back in the ’80s. I’d have to get a really subtle tattoo, small and in a place no one could see it, because, well, they can get out of hand.

A Modern-Day Norman Rockwell Painting

This is proof that Twitter isn’t completely annoying: a photo taken at a recent Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park that could pass, as Maury Brown says, as a Rockwell:

RIP Glen Campbell, Barbara Cook, Robert Hardy, Don Baylor, Darren Daulton, Daniel Licht, Ty Hardin, Haruo Nakajima

Glen Campbell not only performed such classic songs as “Wichita Lineman,” “Rhinestone Cowboy,” and “Gentle on My Mind,” he was also a member of the famous group of session musicians known as The Wrecking Crew and played guitar on many other songs, including The Beach Boys’ “I Get Around” and “Help Me, Rhonda,” Ricky Nelson’s “Hello, Mary Lou,” Wayne Newton’s “Danke Schoen,” and Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night.” He died Tuesday after a battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. He was 81.

Barbara Cook was the Broadway soprano who won a Tony for The Music Man and appeared in other classic musicals like Candide and She Loves MeShe passed away Tuesday at the age of 89.

Robert Hardy was a veteran actor who played Cornelius Fudge in the Harry Potter movies and appeared in many other movies and TV shows, including several in which he portrayed Winston Churchill. He died last Thursday at the age of 91.

Don Baylor and Darren Daulton were two baseball favorites who passed away this week. Baylor was not only the 1979 MVP, he led the league in getting hit by pitches: seven times in his career. He died Monday at the age of 68. Daulton was an All-Star catcher for the Philadelphia Phillies. He died Sunday at the age of 55.

Daniel Lichtdid the music for Dexter and many other TV shows and filmsHe died last Wednesday at the age of 60.

Ty Hardin played Bronco Layne on the 1958–62 CBS Western Bronco and also appeared in movies like PT 109, The Chapman Report, and Merrill’s MaraudersHe died last Thursday at the age of 87.

You wouldn’t recognize Haruo Nakajima because his face was usually hidden inside a suit. The Godzilla suit, to be exact. He was the first person to put it on and stomp around Japan in 1954 and played the monster in 11 more films. Nakajima died Monday at the age of 88.

This Week in History

Marilyn Monroe Dies (August 5, 1962)

The last professional photos of Marilyn Monroe, taken by George Barris three weeks before her death, went up for auction this week. The auction ends at 12:07 p.m ET today, so get your bid in quick.

President Nixon Resigns (August 9, 1974)

Nixon was really excited about taping his Oval Office meetings for posterity, but the practice eventually led to this:

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: “Swimming Hole” (August 11, 1945)

A delivery truck driver cools off in a lake.
Swimming Hole
Norman Rockwell
August 11, 1945
© SEPS 1945

Here’s an actual Norman Rockwell cover, one where he shows a salesman taking an impromptu dip on a hot summer day. I’m trying to find his pants, though. I see his shirt, jacket, tie, shoes, and even glasses, but I can’t find the pants.


August is National Panini Month. Food Network has 50 panini recipes you can try, which means you can have two every day for the rest of the month without repeating a recipe. If you don’t own a panini press, you’ll have to use a heavy pan to press it down in the skillet.

If a panini is too much work for you, you could just make a regular, old-fashioned sandwich, because it also happens to be National Sandwich Month. You could even have a sandwich on a roll.

You know, with butter.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

International Left Hander’s Day (August 13)

If you’re right-handed and have always looked at left-handers as “different,” Sunday’s the day you can treat them as if they were normal.

National Roller Coaster Day (August 16)

I’m not a roller coaster fan. I’ve been on one, years ago at Canobie Lake Park in New Hampshire, and I’ll never go on one again. But National Roller Coaster Day is the day to get on one and ride it again and again and again.