News of the Week: Monster Insects, Netflix Adventures, and Why You Should Put Coffee in Your Chili

In the news for the week ending October 5, 2018, are a swarm of giant mosquitoes, a new way to aggravate couch potatoes, a pointless quiz, and possibly a new planet.

Silhouette of a mosquito on human skin

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Big, Mean, and Striped

As if the residents of North Carolina didn’t already have enough to contend with after Hurricane Florence, another problem has popped up: mosquitoes.

These aren’t ordinary mosquitoes (which would be bad enough); these are as big as wasps, and billions (yes, with a b) of them have hit the area. As this Newsweek report explains, the mosquitoes are super-sized, aggressive … and striped, for some reason.

I’m sure this will be a SyFy Channel movie next year. It could be the sequel to another movie that was on the network years ago. It’s called Mansquito.

Choose Your Own Adventure and Chill

Netflix is spending $8 billion (yes, with a b) on original content this year, and I couldn’t tell you the name of more than a handful. There are so many TV shows and so many methods to watch them now — both streaming and the traditional way — that it’s hard to keep track of them all. I saw a commercial the other day for the upcoming third season of a show I’d never even heard of.

But Netflix isn’t content with having you just sit back and watch the shows; they want you to be involved. The company announced that they’re starting to make shows that borrow the concept of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. They’re going to let viewers choose how the show goes and how it ends. They’ve already experimented with children’s programming, but the first live-action show to try this will be the sci-fi anthology series Black Mirror.

I don’t want to work or have to decide things when I watch television. That’s why I’m watching television. Just let me be a couch potato.

Beyond Pluto

I told you two weeks ago about Pluto possibly being a planet again, and now we might have to get used to having a new planet.

There’s something billions (again, with a b) of miles beyond Pluto that has scientists interested. They think it might be another planet. It’s larger than Pluto and is actually 10 times the mass of Earth. The International Astronomical Union announced the findings last week, and it has been dubbed “Planet X.”

For its part, NASA says that the planet’s existence is “only theoretical at this point,” because no one has actually viewed the object.

They can look for it if they want, but I hope they’re prepared for what they might find.

Do You Belong in This Era?

Every once in a while, BuzzFeed will have an in-depth investigative report, exclusive interview, or an essay that makes you say “Hey, that’s great! I’m glad BuzzFeed exists!” Unfortunately, the other 364 days of the year, the site is filled with inane quizzes, immature opinions, and laughable “hot takes” that make you think maybe the internet wasn’t such a good idea after all.

Case in point: this quiz that attempts to figure out if you belong in this era or not. The premise of the quiz — no doubt created by someone born after Saved by the Bell debuted — is that if you do more than 24 of the things on the list, you don’t belong in 2018.

And what are some of these things? “Read an actual book.” “Watch black and white movies.” “Look up old recipes.” “Appreciate hard liquor.” “Love looking at old family photos.” “Read the newspaper.” “You never know the words to current pop music.” “Prefer calling someone over texting.”

Aren’t those just things that people … do?

I’m not big on internet acronyms and slang (which, by the way, is another reason the quiz says I might not belong in this era), but if I were, I’d say, “WTF?”

I wonder if people who enjoy these quizzes (or the ones that pop up in your Facebook feed) realize that there’s nothing “official” or accurate about them. They’re just fluff that anyone can create. You can go to BuzzFeed yourself right now and make one of your own. How about “Tell Me Your Favorite Harry Potter Characters and I’ll Tell You Whether You Should Have That Medical Test or Not” or “If You Eat More Than 12 of These Foods You’re Probably Racist”?

How did you do on the quiz? Let me know in the comments below.

RIP Marty Balin, Charles Aznavour, and Otis Rush

Three music icons died this week.

Marty Balin was the co-founder of the rock band Jefferson Airplane, famous for such albums as Jefferson Airplane Takes Off and Surrealistic Pillow, and was later a member of the offshoot band Jefferson Starship. Balin died last week at the age of 76.

Charles Aznavour was a singer known as “the Frank Sinatra of France” and was admired by performers of all musical genres, including Elvis Presley. He died Monday at the age of 94.

Otis Rush was a blues guitarist who helped define Chicago’s “West Side Sound” in the ’50s and ’60s. He died last week at the age of 84.

Quote of the Week

“Well, that’s one way to get out of small talk with Alex Trebek.”

—Jimmy Fallon, on the Jeopardy! contestant who proposed to his girlfriend during the interview portion of the show.

This Week in History

The Twilight Zone Premieres (October 2, 1959)

President Chester A. Arthur Born (October 5, 1830)

Long before The Big Lebowski, President Arthur was nicknamed “The Dude.”

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: TV Date (October 1, 1949)

TV Date
Constantin Alajálov
October 1, 1949

Television was still a rather new thing when this Constantin Alajálov cover appeared in 1949, but the kids don’t seem too interested in it. And they don’t look happy that they have to have their date in front of mom and dad.

I’m assuming it’s the girl’s mom and dad.

National Chili Month

It’s been warmer than it should be for this time of year. Oh, not unbearably so, just not that crisp fall “bite” that I want for October. This is how I judge it: If I can go outside in a T-shirt and shorts during the day, that means it’s still way too warm.

But the nights are cool, so maybe it’s okay to make some chili. October is National Chili Month. Here’s a classic recipe from Emeril Lagasse. If you’re looking for something a little healthier, try this Vegetarian Chili. And if you’re looking for a twist on the traditional recipe, how about this Turkey Pumpkin Chili?

If you want something really different, try this Three-Chile Beef Chili from Food & Wine. It includes coffee, beer, and bacon.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Columbus Day (October 8)

He’s known as the person who “discovered” America, but the real story is a lot more complicated than that.

Pet Peeve Week (October 8-14)

One of my pet peeves is that there are so many holidays now that it’s hard to keep track of them all.

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  1. Thanks for the Newsweek link on the (huge in more than one way) mosquito problem. I can only begin to comprehend how much worse it’s making their already horrific nightmare!

    NASA needs to shut up for awhile in talking about the planets—AT ALL!

    Marty Balin was one of my favorite singers. Very talented with a unique, beautiful voice singing great songs that were memorable and worthy of him—and us.

    Bob, please tell me you got the ‘Jeopardy’ quote from another source, and NOT from Jimmy Fallon’s nightly romper room mess. As far as the contestant doing the proposal goes, it’s all about attention and hoping to cash-in on whatever media mileage he can get. Same thing with proposals on planes and at baseball stadiums. It’s as phony as contestants on the ‘Bachelor/ette’ supposedly lookin’ for a husband or wife. We have WAAAY to much media today and as a result, WILL take these people and turn them into celebrities. Just look at the checkout stand glossy tabloids!

    Thanks for the original ‘Twilight Zone’ intro. I’m sure there’s another ‘reboot’ in the works. (Ugghk.) Thanks for the Alajalov cover. A really awkward situation we have here, but so beautifully drawn! I may hate cigarettes, but do love the FDR-style holder Dad’s using here. It’s kind of like Burgess Meredith’s on ‘Batman’ from the one and only Soaring ’60s!


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