News of the Week: So, Star Trek, and the Smushing of Bread into Your Face

Words we wish we could say good-bye to in 2016, commemorative Star Trek stamps, and weird memes all in this week’s pop culture roundup.

The word "So" in typeface on a shelf

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So, the Reason Why I’m Manspreading Is Because I Need to Vape

I know we’re a week into 2016 (break your resolutions yet?), but how about one more list from 2015?

Every year Lake Superior State University picks several words and phrases that we should banish because they’re overused, hated, or just plain wrong. Past words have included “bae,” “hack,” “free gift,” “live audience,” and “my bad.” Unfortunately I still see a lot of people using these words and phrases so apparently the banishment hasn’t been made law yet.

This year’s list includes “manspreading” and “vape.” The former is when a man spreads his legs out really far — for example, taking up two seats on a subway — while the latter comes from the word “vapor” and refers to the smoking of e-cigarettes. I really hope the word “manspreading” goes away as quickly as it arrives, though I don’t see “vape” going away anytime soon.

LSSU also wants us to stop using the word “so.” Now, “so” is a perfectly fine word when used correctly. But people have been using it in odd ways for several years now, either as an exclamation in the middle of a sentence (picture Chandler on Friends saying “that is SO not true”) or even worse at the start of sentences, even if they’re just answering a question.

I actually wrote a piece about the word “so” a few years ago where I go into more detail about why it’s such a weird way to use the word, so I’m really happy to see it on the list. See, now that’s a normal way to use the word.

Space, the Final Frontier … These Are the Stamps of the Starship Enterprise

Star Trek stampsI know, I know, everyone is talking about Star Wars these days, but let’s not forget the show that came long before Han Solo and company. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the original Star Trek series (we’ll also see the release of a new Star Trek film this summer, Star Trek Beyond), and the USPS will release a series of stamps to commemorate the milestone, along with two other space-related stamps for NASA’s New Horizons space mission.

The four Star Trek stamps include different shots of the Enterprise, a crew member on the transporter, and Spock’s Live Long and Prosper salute. What, no tribbles?

Samsung Wants to Control Your Home with Their TVs

Samsung Smart TVs
By The Conmunity – Pop Culture Geek from Los Angeles, CA, USA (CES 2012 – Samsung Smart TV) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
I don’t own a smartphone. I’m already online too much and I don’t need to access the Web or my e-mail on my phone while I’m out of the house. But there are days I think that soon I won’t be able to do anything unless I get one.

Samsung wants to control your home with their TV sets. Starting this year, the company’s Smart TVs will be able to connect to other Web-enabled Samsung products, like light bulbs and coffee makers and your home security system. You probably think that your TV is just, well, a TV, but if you don’t have your TV controlling other products in your home, then you’re obviously living in the Stone Age.

This “Internet of things” won’t mean a thing to me until I can post my Saturday Evening Post columns from my toaster.

Have You Smushed Bread into Your Face Today?

You mean you haven’t? Boy, are you out of touch.

Every month we get a new Internet meme whether we want it or not. We’ve had “planking,” where you spread your body over an area like a plank and post the picture online, and “Rickrolling,” which involves surprising people with the song “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley. There was even a short-lived meme a year or so ago which involved people eating spoonfuls of cinnamon (note: do not try this). There’s even a whole website that keeps track of memes.

But all of those are old-hat now. The latest meme is where you take some bread — it can be white bread or raisin bread or garlic bread or even corn bread — and you smush your face into it. Then you post the photo or video online. The woman who created the trend — and I don’t know how many people are doing it besides her — started the BreadFaceBlog last year, and she already has over 33,000 followers. She hasn’t made any money off of it yet, but if she eventually does, it’s proof I’ve obviously chosen the wrong career path.

They said that social media was going to change the world, and they were right.

Dogs: How Should They Wear Their Pants?

A Dog wearing shorts on a beach

Pants on dogs. It’s probably not a topic you’ve thought about before, even if you’re the type of person who puts clothing on your dog, like a sweater. But it’s a thing now!

A Facebook user wanted to know whether a dog, if he were to wear pants, would he wear the pants on just his two back legs or all four legs? And we have an answer! According to a company that actually makes pants for dogs, it’s all four.

This answer is wrong. The pants should just go on his two back legs. Yes, a dog technically has four “legs,” but in this case I think we have to consider his two front legs as also “arms,” and you don’t put pants on your arms. At least until the next wild Internet meme called “pant-ing,” where you wear your pants on the upper part of your body and post the pics to Facebook and Twitter.

Oh no, I hope I just didn’t start something.

It’s National Oatmeal Month

Norman Rockwell's Oatmeal Cookies
Norman Rockwell’s Oatmeal Cookies

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to eat more healthy and filling foods like oatmeal. I’ve been making this same resolution every year since 1992.

But January is National Oatmeal Month, and the cold days and nights seem like a great time to start eating it more. Here’s a recipe from Ina Garten for Sunday Morning Oatmeal, and here’s one from Real Simple that includes cheddar cheese and scallions. I have to admit I never thought of putting cheese and scallions in my oatmeal before.

And nobody said the oatmeal has to be in cereal form inside of a bowl, so how about these Norman Rockwell Oatmeal Cookies, which I’m going to make right away because they look great and the phrase “Norman Rockwell Oatmeal Cookies” might just be the most American recipe name I’ve ever heard. He sent the recipe to the editors of The Saturday Evening Post just before he passed away in 1978. They were his favorite.

Upcoming Events and Anniversaries

Napoleon Bonaparte born (January 13, 1807)

If the French leader was still alive, maybe he would have liked this Sole, Zucchini and Tomato Napoleon from Melissa d’Arabian.

Wyatt Earp dies (January 13, 1929)

Wyatt Earp
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Believe it or not, The Saturday Evening Post printed an interview with the gunman in 1930!

Albert Schweitzer born (January 14, 1875)

You can read more about the talented doctor/writer/pastor/musician/philosopher at the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship site.

First Super Bowl (January 15, 1967)

The Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10 in Super Bowl 1.

Hello, Dolly opens on Broadway (January 16, 1964)

Mary Martin and Ethel Merman both turned down the lead role (which Nancy Walker auditioned for). Carol Channing was hired and the show went on to win a record 10 Tony Awards.

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  1. I forgot about the word ‘upgrade’ in mt last comment. It really means this is the latest of-the-moment tech development we’re trying to pass off as something new and important, when it really isnt. Often the very feature(s) you liked best about the one you’ve been using just fine, are gone with the upgrade.

    It’s not unlike a store or restaurant “bought out” by someone new. So often the prices are higher, and your favorite items have been deleted. The auto industry also has been notorious for this for decades. At one time you could roll down the rear side window in a two door, AND have a pivoting ‘vent’ window up front. The “upgrades” in the late ’60s and early ’70s did away with that.

    Yeah, I don’t get (or like) the idea of smushing bread into my face. Since the idea is really stupid though, I can totally believe this woman has over 33,000 followers. I’m sure there are at least that many that have signed petitions requiring male dogs to wear pants!

  2. Fortunately Bob, some of the words you mentioned here that are (or should be)up for banishment, I didn’t know were offenders, like “free gift”, “live audience” and “hack”.

    “So” is just an out and out stupid way to start a sentence in the examples seen on your link. I’m sorry I read your column because I’d never heard/read the word “manspreading” before, and hope to NEVER again. You already know how I feel about the utterly meaningless, —–ded crutch word “issues” being used instead of ‘problems’ from a semi-recent column.

    I agree with you on “my bad”. I do use the phrase here and there if angered and/or the situation requires sarcasm. The shock value of bad grammar coming from someone who looks like me and speaks perfect English can be very effective, used briefly, in a given situation. I’m sorry when I have to, but it’s better than having to get nasty. Bob I’d like to know what YOU think of “one weird trick” continually being overused as a ‘lure phrase’ in online ads and e-mails.

    Definitely not a ‘Star Wars’ guy, but enjoy the ’60s ‘Star Trek’ somewhat, and ALWAYS the ’60s TV ‘Batman’, but none of the later films of course; they’re not ‘Batman’, please. The ‘Star Trek’ stamps pictured here are pretty sharp.

    I agree with you on the Smart TV’s. I have a smart phone because my boss picks up the tab for me 100%, having me on the company’s Verizon plan. Living in CA it’s also a Godsend having a company gas card. It’s now over $3 a gallon again.

    As far as dogs wearing pants goes, I have heard of people getting upset over male dogs not being required to wear pants, and I’m definitely talking about the lower end, like our beach dog above. Reasons given are male dogs (due to their less areodynamic anatomy) “leave nothing to the imagination”, “very naughty”, “robbing children of their childhood” etc. Yes, there really HAVE been attempts in the politically correct, Puritanical, neurotic, everyone’s-offended-by-everything 2010’s, to have owners of male dogs being walked without pants on subject to fines and arrest. I’ve declined to sign petitions outside the supermarkets to get it on the voting ballot.


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