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Post Week in Review: November 2-8

Published: November 7, 2014

The Midterms


If the midterms were set to music, the Republicans would be dancing to the song that Snoopy dances to, while the Democrats would be listening to that sad “wah wah wah waah” trombone you hear on sitcoms and cartoons. The Economist has a good breakdown on who won what where and by how much.

Nik Wallenda Takes a Walk

Remember when we used to experience television together, watching big “event” shows at the same time? Beyond an election or maybe the Super Bowl, that doesn’t happen too often these days. But funambulist Nik Wallenda gets people talking. Last year he walked a high wire across the Grand Canyon and this week he wire-walked between skyscrapers in Chicago (with no safety harness and blindfolded for part of it). It didn’t get the ratings of the Grand Canyon stunt, but it still grabbed over 6 million viewers, and social media lit up for the two hours.

Wallenda’s 11-year-old son Amadeus (yes) stole the show though. When he was asked what he thought of what his dad does for a living he said, “It was pretty cool, but I’d much rather he be a proctologist.” Seems the younger Wallenda won a bet with his dad’s best friend.

Pillsbury Bake-Off Winners

One of these days I’m going to enter the Pillsbury Bake-Off. Last year one of the $5,000 category winners was for a bagel with jam spread on top. I’m sure they’re delicious, but I thought to myself, I can do that! This year’s Special Prize winners were announced earlier this week in a ceremony hosted by chef Carla Hall.

But what about the million dollar grand prize? This year the Pillsbury people are changing things up a bit. There are four finalists for the million dollars, and they’re letting the public vote for the winner online. Voting ends on December 2 and the winner will be announced on ABC’s The Chew.

The Latest Web Celeb: Alex from Target

What did Andy Warhol say about everyone being famous for 15 minutes? (I bet he would have loved social media and viral videos.) Alex from Target is a good example. The 16-year-old was just minding his own business, bagging items at Target like he usually does when a girl took his picture because she thought he was cute. A few days later, not only did he suddenly have a half million Twitter followers he was on Ellen talking about it. He even wore the Target shirt and khakis.

Sure, it’s fine that Alex from Target is getting all this attention, but shouldn’t we all show a little more love to Jake from State Farm? He wears khakis too!

Tom Hanks to Release Short Story Collection

Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks
Featureflash / Shutterstock.com

Tom Hanks recently published a short story in The New Yorker , and now he’s going all-out and doing a book of short stories for Knopf-Doubleday. No title or release date yet, but the stories will be inspired by Hanks’ large collection of typewriters, which he has been collecting since the late ’70s.

Science Journalist Suing Makers of American Hustle over Microwave Ovens


Sometimes lawsuits come out of nowhere. I’m sure the cast and crew of the Oscar-winning movie American Hustle didn’t think that a couple of lines in one scene would prompt a lawsuit, but it has happened. Seems that the author of a magazine article mentioned in the movie isn’t happy about how he was portrayed.

There’s a scene where Jennifer Lawrence’s character puts metal in a microwave oven. It catches fire and she rants about how microwave ovens are unsafe and take all the nutrition out of food, and she mentions a real-life magazine article she says agrees with her. The author of The New Yorker article Paul Brodeur is suing for $1 million, saying he said no such thing, neither in the article he wrote nor in the 1978 People interview he gave.

Shy Bladder Group vs. DirecTV

Yes, shy bladder is a thing. I’m sure a lot of guys remember being little and having to go to the bathroom in front of others and being a little nervous about it. But adults get it too, and they’re organized. The International Paruresis Association (funny how this group is the IP Association) is angry about the new Rob Lowe commercial that shows an awkward version of Lowe suffering from shy bladder.

Here’s the ad. Judge for yourself if it makes light of a serious condition:

I don’t have a shy bladder but I do have a pancreas that has a hard time making friends.

Oprah’s Favorite Things

Oprah WInfrey

Oprah WInfrey

The best episodes of Oprah’s talk show were the ones where she would surprise her studio audience with her annual “Favorite Things” list. The audience would get all of the items on the list — usually worth thousands of dollars — and they would completely FREAK OUT to the point where people watching at home would feel both jealousy and fear that the audience members were going to have heart attacks. Oprah doesn’t have a daily talk show anymore but she still does the list every year. Here’s the 2014 list.

Oprah picks a lot of really expensive things, like $700 Dr. Dre headphones, yet at the same time will recommend something like a plate for $20. That’s sort of like saying “I like rare jewel-encrusted tiaras and … Hot Pockets!” But there’s some good stuff on the list.

Season 5 of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

Jerry Seinfeld Everett Collection/Shutterstock

Jerry Seinfeld
Everett Collection/Shutterstock

One of the best things you can watch on the web comes from Jerry Seinfeld. It’s called Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, and that’s exactly what it is. Seinfeld gets into a cool car — sometimes one from his massive collection but usually one he borrows — and picks up a famous celebrity friend and they go have coffee and talk. That’s it, and it’s brilliant.

Season 5 launched yesterday (I love how Seinfeld calls them “seasons” and even has a regular time slot, Thursdays at noon). This season’s guests will be Jimmy Fallon, Fred Armisen, Bill Burr, Ali Wentworth, Kevin Hart, Amy Schumer, and Miranda Sings.

Tonight on Turner Classic Movies …

Gun Crazy

Gun Crazy

There’s a classic film noir on TCM tonight at 10:45PM Eastern, Gun Crazy, starring Peggy Cummins and John Dall. And it just so happens that it’s based on a short story published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1940. The story was written by MacKinlay Kantor, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Dalton Trumbo. Millard Kaufman was credited with the screenplay because Trumbo was blacklisted at the time.

The movie is considered a classic of the genre and is even part of the American Film Institute catalog.

It’s National Split Pea Soup Week (Wait, Week?!?)

Split Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup

Why do some foods get only one day for their official celebration but split pea soup gets a week? A whole week to enjoy split pea soup? Was there some lobbying effort? Is the inventor of split pea soup famous?

Whatever the reason, National Split Pea Soup Week starts tomorrow. I can’t stand split pea soup. It’s funny, I love peas but I don’t like them in a soup (I also love carrots but not carrot juice, and I love Caesar Salad but I hate anchovies — go figure). My mom loved it though, and here’s a recipe if you want to make it on one of these cold November nights.

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