News of the Week: Advice for Graduates, Ugly Dogs, and How to Make Firecracker Strawberries

Be Kind, Save Money, and Wear Sunscreen

It’s that time of year when young people are graduating from high school and college. It’s also the time of year for commencement speeches and general advice for those graduates before they go off to summer jobs, a new city, or the career they’ve chosen.

We’ve all read (or at least heard about) the classic essay by Chicago Tribune writer Mary Schmich that is often attributed to either Kurt Vonnegut or director Baz Luhrmann (it doesn’t help that the essay at the paper’s site doesn’t have Schmich’s name on it at all). She gives some great advice: wear sunscreen, keep in touch with friends and family no matter where you live, do not read beauty magazines, remember the compliments you receive, and forget the insults. That’s all great advice no matter what age you are.

But there are other pieces of advice that young people would be smart to heed. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, has 12 rules she tries to follow, which include being polite and fair and not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. Frances Bridges at Forbes says that things are going to get harder before they get better, and you should always be smart about your money; and writer George Saunders suggests that, no matter what you do in life, err in the direction of kindness.

I would add to that a few I’ve learned. One is that good credit is more important than love (you’ll find love, but you don’t want to start out by messing up your credit); working is usually better than not working; and if you meet people who tell you that your high school or college years will be the best years of your life, don’t listen to them, because that’s just depressing.

Also: If you ever find yourself on The Price Is Right, never bid one dollar unless you’re the last bidder. The person after you will just bid two dollars and you’ll look like an idiot.

Zsa Zsa

One person’s ugly is another person’s cute, but I think that even people who tend to lean toward the latter have to admit that this dog is pretty darn the former.

Zsa Zsa, a 9-year-old English bulldog from Minnesota with questionable facial and body features, won the annual World’s Ugliest Dog contest last week. She and her owners won $1,500 for capturing first prize.

I think it’s the mouth, those teeth, and that darn giant tongue that’s always hanging out.

Something You Don’t Know About Superman

Shortly after reading Troy Brownfield’s great piece on the 80th anniversary of Superman, I came across an interesting little factoid on how kryptonite entered the Man of Steel’s world.

The voice of Superman on the Adventures of Superman radio show was Bud Collyer, whom you may also know as the host of To Tell the Truth (the ’60s version, not the current monstrosity on ABC). The writers came up with kryptonite, which paralyzes Superman, so Collyer could have some time off from the show. Since all Superman would be doing that week was moaning and groaning, they just got another actor to make those sounds.

It’s funny how something that is so closely associated with Superman actually made its first appearance on the radio show and not in the comic book.

The Words We Always Misspell

My friend Ken Levine has a fun post at his site about the words he always misspells (a word that itself is one I’m sure a lot of people misspell). We all go through this, even if we’re good spellers in general. There are just some words that get us every time. For Ken, it’s privilege, jeopardy, and pigeon.

I once lost a grade school spelling bee on Massachusetts. I spelled it correctly, but forgot to say “capital M,” and my English teacher wouldn’t give it to me. Still bugs me 40 years later. Thanks a lot, Mr. Pike.

Three words I always misspell are miniscule, pasttime, and reccommend. See?!

RIP Harlan Ellison, Charles Krauthammer, Donald Hall, Richard Harrison, Dan Ingram, Deanna Lund, and Koko

Harlan Ellison was a highly influential and opinionated writer and editor who changed the world of science fiction, fantasy, and pop culture in general over the past six decades. He wrote thousands of short stories, novels, novellas, essays and columns. He also wrote for several TV shows including Star Trek (the classic episode “City on the Edge of Forever”), The Outer Limits, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., the 1980’s reboot of The Twilight Zone, and Babylon 5, as well as the movie A Boy and His Dog. Ellison died yesterday at the age of 84.

Here’s Ellison’s official site, where you can read what fans and friends are saying in the forum.

Dr. Charles Krauthammer started out in the field of psychiatry after graduating from Harvard Medical School but found a second career as a conservative writer and pundit. He got his start as a speechwriter for Walter Mondale and also wrote for places like The Washington Post and The New Republic, and was a commentator on Fox News. His terrific book of essays, Things That Matter, sold over a million copies. Krauthammer had been paralyzed since a college diving accident, but he actually succumbed to cancer last week at the age of 68.

Donald Hall was a poet and essayist who was U.S. poet laureate from 2006 to 2007. He died last Saturday at the age of 89.

Richard Harrison was “The Old Man” on the popular History Channel series Pawn Stars. He died Monday at the age of 77.

Dan Ingram was a veteran New York disc jockey. Some people even call him the best disc jockey of all time. He started at small radio stations in the late ’50s and went on to work at such places as WABC, WKTU, and WCBS. He died Sunday at the age of 83.

Deanna Lund was an actress probably best known as Valerie on the sci-fi television series Land of the Giants. She died last Friday at the age of 81.

My two favorite stories of Koko the gorilla who learned sign language? She once destroyed a sink, and when her handlers came into the room to find out what had happened, Koko signed to them that the cat had done it. And there was the time that Mr. Rogers visited Koko and she took off his shoes, because that’s what he always did on his TV show. Koko died last week at the age of 46.

Quote of the Week

“Man, summer is going to suck.”

Meet the Press host Chuck Todd, on the upcoming political battle to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy

This Week in History

First TV Western, Hopalong Cassidy, Premieres (June 24, 1949)

It’s hard to believe now, but at one point, westerns were the most popular genre of TV show, with a staggering 26 shows on the air in 1959. At first the Hopalong Cassidy series was just edited versions of the films, but NBC later created original episodes. William Boyd played the cowboy and became so popular that it led to a theme park, magazine covers, and endless merchandising.

George Orwell Born (June 25, 1903)

Here’s what the Post had to say about Orwell’s classic novel 1984 in 1972.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Row, We’re Out of Gas (June 27, 1959)

Dad attempting to start a boat motor while his impatient family looks on.
Row, We’re Out of Gas
Amos Sewell
June 27, 1959

I’ve been on a boat exactly one time in my life, about 35 years ago — a boat a lot like the one featured in this Amos Sewell cover. And I think I had as much fun as the family in this boat seems to be having. We didn’t run out of gas, I’m just not a boat guy.

July 4 Recipes

At Christmas we see a lot of red-and-green-oriented recipes, and on Halloween it’s orange and black. For the Fourth of July the colors are obviously red, white, and blue. Sometimes you can tell the recipe creators are really stretching things to make ordinary foods with those colors, but I think I found a few that look pretty fantastic.

How about these Firecracker Strawberries, which are first soaked in vodka and then decorated with marshmallow (that’s the white) and sprinkles (for the blue)? Or how about Ina Garten’s Flag Cake, which looks like it might take a while to decorate but is rather impressive? If you’re looking for something savory rather than sweet, how about this Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad? The blue color is actually purple potatoes, but we won’t tell anyone if you don’t.

It’s odd when a holiday lands smack in the middle of the week, but maybe that will give you an excuse to take Thursday and Friday off, too.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

World UFO Day (July 2)

It’s on July 2 to mark the day that a spacecraft (supposedly) crashed in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. You can go to the World UFO Day site to become an official ambassador, or you can just watch Earth vs. the Flying Saucers again.

Wimbledon Begins (July 2)

The top seeds for the tournament at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club are Roger Federer and Simona Halep. They’ve also given Serena Williams, whose ranking dropped considerably after missing a year to have a baby, the 25th seed.

By the way, you don’t have to call it the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. But make sure you say Wimbledon and not Wimbleton.


News of the Week: Festivus, Zsa Zsa, and Fa-La-La-La-La La-La La-La

For the Rest of Us

It’s funny how a December 23 holiday from Seinfeld is now actually celebrated by people. Festivus (“A Festivus for the Rest of Us”) was a real celebration created by the family of one of the show’s writers, Dan O’Keefe. It was created around 1966 by O’Keefe’s father, and his son added to or changed some of the traditions for the episode. If you’d like to celebrate it, you’ll need a large metal pole instead of a tree (tinsel is distracting), you’ll need to perform several “Feats of Strength” with your family, such as wrestling, and you’ll also participate in an “Airing of Grievances” during holiday dinner, where you basically tell everyone how they’ve disappointed you over the year.

Just don’t argue about politics with your family this holiday season. There’s plenty of time for that starting on January 2.

RIP Zsa Zsa Gabor, Henry Heimlich, Dick Latessa, Gordon Hunt, and Kevin O’Morrison

Zsa Zsa Gabor was one of those celebrities who seemed to be famous just for being famous. But she was in a lot movies, too, such as Moulin Rouge, Touch of Evil, Arrivederci, Baby!, and the camp classic Queen of Outer Space. She was also in many TV shows — no, not Green Acres, that was her sister Eva — often playing herself, spoofing her role in the entertainment world. She seemed to get it.

Gabor passed away earlier this week at the age of 99 after many years of health problems.
This remains one of my favorite segments from The Late Show with David Letterman. He and Zsa Zsa spent the day visiting various fast food establishments when the show was visiting California back in the ’90s.

If you or someone you know has been saved from choking by the Heimlich Maneuver, the man to thank passed away this week at the age of 96. Henry Heimlich’s maneuver has been credited with saving the lives of over 100,000 people since its first use in 1974.

Dick Latessa won a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Featured Play (Musical) for his role as Wilbur Turnblad in the original production of Hairspray. He also appeared in several TV shows, including Mission: Impossible, Get Smart, Law & Order, True Blue, The Black Donnellys, Edge of Night, The Sopranos, and The Good Wife. He died Monday at the age of 87.

Gordon Hunt was actress Helen Hunt’s father and a true “man who could do anything” in Hollywood. He directed several episodes of various shows, including his daughter’s Mad About You, Frasier, Caroline in the City, and Coach, and was the sound/recording director for hundreds of cartoons, including The Smurfs. He was also an actor and wrote and produced several shows. Hunt passed away last weekend at the age of 87.

Kevin O’Morrison (sometimes known as Kenny O’Morrison) was another man who had his hand in just about everything. He was an actor known for various movies, from 1949’s film noir classic The Set-Up to Sleepless in Seattle, where he played Meg Ryan’s dad, as well as films like The Friends of Eddie Coyle and Funny Farm and TV shows like Lonesome Dove and Law & Order. He also wrote and produced several plays and wrote many novels. O’Morrison was 100 years old.

Scientists Have Found the Most Relaxing Song in the World

Oddly enough, it’s that “Christmas Song” by Alvin and the Chipmunks. ALVIN!

Okay, that’s not true. It’s actually “Weightless” by Marconi Union, an English ambient music band. Neuroscientists from Mindlab International studied the data and determined that the song dropped participants’ anxiety levels by 65 percent and helped with blood pressure levels, stress, and breathing.

You can judge for yourself. Here’s all 8 minutes of it:

And if that’s not enough, there’s actually a 10-hour version. You could put that on when you leave for work in the morning and it will still be playing when you get home at night.

Why? Why? No. No. None. Yup. Nope. 1947.

The Hollywood Reporter sat down with several veteran celebrities who are over the age of 90 and who have no plans to retire. Among the stars profiled are Betty White, Dick Van Dyke, Carl Reiner, Cloris Leachman, Don Rickles, Norman Lear, Marcia Nasatir, Stan Lee, and Norman Lloyd, who has been in a million things in his nine decades of work (you’ll remember him as Dr. Auschlander on St. Elsewhere and as the bad guy who falls from the Statue of Liberty in Alfred Hitchcock’s Saboteur). He’s still acting at 102!

But the interview getting the most press this week is the one with Jerry Lewis. Lewis doesn’t seem to be happy with all of the Hollywood Reporter people and equipment in his home, nor is he happy with the questions from the off-camera interviewer. And I have to say I agree with him on the latter complaint. The questions are rather inane, rattled off in a conveyer-belt-like fashion, so I’m on Team Jerry for this one.

A Christmas Quote

“I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph.”
Shirley Temple

This Week in History

Ben Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack Debuts (December 19, 1732)

The Almanack (or Almanac) was published yearly by Franklin (under the names Poor Richard or Richard Saunders) until 1758. The Internet Archive has the text from several editions of the publication.

On a related note, did you know that The Saturday Evening Post began as a weekly newspaper, printed on the same equipment that Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette was printed on?

General George Patton Dies (December 21, 1945)

The official cause of Patton’s death in Heidelberg, Germany, is pulmonary edema and congestive heart failure after a car accident paralyzed him from the neck down, but many authors and scholars think he may have been assassinated.

Howard Hughes Born (December 24, 1905)

The tycoon, film producer, aviation enthusiast, and ultimately reclusive Hughes is the subject of a movie in theaters right now, Rules Don’t Apply, in which he’s played by Warren Beatty.

Soon It Will Be Christmas Day

The few days before Christmas are always a mixture of excitement and craziness. You’re in the Christmas mood and the music is playing and there’s a chill in the air that makes it feel like the holidays and everyone is nicer to each other. But you’re also running around because you have to buy that one gift you really need, you have parties to get to and school events to attend, and you have this nagging feeling you’re forgetting something. The last thing you want to worry about is what food you’re going to serve on the big day and where you can get some good recipes for things you haven’t made before.

We can help. Here are some favorite holiday recipes from the editors of The Saturday Evening Post, including Minnesota Wild Rice Stuffing and Pancetta and Parm Brussels Sprouts. Or maybe you’d like some Stuffed Celery or Latkes. And for dessert, how about making these Pecan Snowballs or this ultimate Spiced Apple Pie from Curtis Stone?

I’ve been put in charge of the cheese and cracker tray again, so this year my cooking is going to consist of opening some boxes and slicing some cheddar.

* Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from everyone here at The Saturday Evening Post! *

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Hanukkah begins (December 24)

The Jewish celebration runs from sunset on Christmas Eve until nightfall on January 1.

Christmas (December 25)

Here’s a gallery of terrific Saturday Evening Post covers featuring Santa. I think my favorite might be Scott Gustafson’s cover from 1982, with Santa and his elves trying to figure out their computer (not much has changed). I also love this December 23, 1944 cover from Norman Rockwell. You can see Santa in that one too if you look closely.

And if you’re wondering when your favorite holiday special or movie will be on, here’s a complete list from Patch.

Boxing Day (December 26)

What exactly is Boxing Day and why is it celebrated? No, it has nothing to do with two guys punching each other in a ring.