News of the Week: Salinger Goes Digital, Moss Piglets Go to the Moon, and Are You Addicted to Facebook?

In the news for the week ending August 16, 2019, are Salinger on Kindle, bugs in space, characters on the internet, rum in your drink, and more.


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No More Holden Out

I got a Kindle. Please, no applause. I held out for years because I’m much more a real-book kind of guy (I like the feel, the smell of real books, and how perfect the technology is), but I noticed that a lot of old books that are out of print — mainly mysteries and essay collections from the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s I’ve had my eye on — have been grabbed by publishers and converted to ebooks. And they’re pretty cheap too, though I don’t know how cheap when you buy 10 of them at once.

J.D. Salinger is finally joining modern times too. The J.D. Salinger Literary Trust, partly run by his son Matt, has been holding out on putting the books into digital form, but now they’re doing it, according to this piece in The New York Times. The books The Catcher in the Rye, Franny and Zooey, Nine Stories, and Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction are available now.

If you’re waiting for movies or musicals based on the books, however, you have a very long wait. That’s something the family still doesn’t want to do.

One interesting factoid in the Times story: Matt Salinger played Captain America in a 1990 film that was pretty much forgotten until the recent popularity of the Marvel movies. I remember his name from the film but never made the connection.

Moon Buggy

This is the first time I’ve ever heard of “moss piglets,” but they might be on the moon even as we speak (well, as I type and you read). They’re also called “water bears” and they were on the Beresheet spacecraft when it crashed onto the moon back in April. Some of the creatures — which are very tiny tardigrades that can live through extreme conditions — may have survived the crash.

We all know what happens next. We’ve all seen ’50s science fiction movies. When we go back to the moon to set up a colony, these things are going to be gigantic and we’ll have to fight them. We’ll win, but then one of the creatures will sneak aboard the ship back to Earth and we’ll have to call Matt Damon or Emily Blunt to save the day.

Quitting Facebook Is Harder Than Quitting Cigarettes

I’m no longer on social media, but I’m still drawn to it. It’s partly because of the industry I’m in (everyone in media is on social media), but it’s also where everything “happens” now. When places like Facebook (and to a lesser extent Twitter) are where everyone in the world “lives,” it’s very hard to stay away. I’ve managed to stay away for several years, but ask me again in a month.

I believe this piece at USA Today that says quitting social media and our phones is harder than quitting cigarettes. At least we don’t need cigarettes, even if some people love and are addicted to them. Cigarettes are cigarettes, but Facebook and smartphones are like food and water. You can take away someone’s cigarettes for a couple of days and they’ll grind through it somehow. Take away someone’s phone and the ability to text someone or “like” a friend’s lunch photo and they’ll go crazy within the hour.

By the way, if you came here from a Facebook link, could you “like” and “share” this column? Thanks!

Can You Define Important?

It’s been a while since I’ve read an online “Best Of” or “Most Important” list. I try to avoid them because they usually infuriate me. The people who write them usually don’t have a pop culture reference that goes before the 1990s, and they always seem to leave something out, either because of ignorance or to purposely troll and get people talking about the list on the social media sites they’re addicted to. Case in point, this list of the “25 Most Important Characters of the Past 25 Years” at Slate. It’s a list of the most important characters from TV, movies, books, video games, music, and other areas of pop culture.

The list includes some interesting and maybe even worthy characters such as Carmela Soprano from The Sopranos, Thomas Jefferson from Hamilton, and Tina Fey’s impersonation of Sarah Palin from Saturday Night Live. You could argue about those picks, but they’re not crazy choices at all.

Here’s where things go crazy. Number 22 on the list is Milkshake Duck. If you’re scratching your head right now, let me scratch mine with you. At first I thought it was a TV cartoon character or product mascot I somehow missed, but it’s from … a tweet. It’s a funny tweet and actually says something about social media, but … one of the most important characters of the last quarter-century? There isn’t a more well-known internet meme than Milkshake Duck?

Bridget Jones from Bridget Jones’s Diary is on the list, but they couldn’t include anyone from Mad Men? Seriously? No one from Breaking Bad, no SpongeBob SquarePants, no one from Friends (my God, there was even a hairstyle named after one of them!), no one from South Park? Mindy Lahiri from The Mindy Project is on the list, but not Stephen Colbert from The Colbert Report?

It’s also criminal that Flo the Progressive Insurance Lady isn’t on the list. She’s been on TV every single day for the past 12 years!

RIP Rosie Ruiz and Edward Lewis

Rosie Ruiz stunned the running world when she seemingly came out of nowhere to win the 1980 Boston Marathon. People were stunned for good reason: she didn’t actually run the whole race. She jumped in from the crowd about a half mile from the finish line. Other runners and officials knew something was up when they couldn’t remember her at any of the checkpoints, she didn’t seem as tired as she should have been, and she was wearing the wrong type of shirt. She qualified for the Boston race after finishing the New York City Marathon the month before, but officials later found out she didn’t run the whole race there either (she took a subway). Ruiz died last month at the age of 66.

(Uploaded to YouTube by CBS Boston)

Edward Lewis produced such movies as Spartacus, Seven Days in May, Harold and Maude, and The River, as well as the TV miniseries The Thorn Birds. He was also instrumental in getting blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo’s name back in movies when he (along with Kirk Douglas) hired him for Spartacus. Lewis died last month at the age of 99.

This Week in History

Herbert Hoover Born (August 10, 1874)

He’s always near the bottom of the list when it comes to the ranking of U.S. presidents, but he was a contributor to the Post!

Isaac Singer Gets Patent for Sewing Machine (August 12, 1851)

100 years after Singer got that patent, the Post did a feature on “Mr. Singer’s Money Machine.” And yes, the company is still around.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Banana Split (August 16, 1952)

Banana Split

According to the table of contents page of this issue — which you can read if you subscribe! — the man on this Amos Sewell cover is named “Mr. Nervousindigestion.”

Today Is National Rum Day

You thought I was going to talk about National Banana Split Day, didn’t you? Sorry, that was last Saturday.

Instead, how about some cocktails to celebrate National Rum Day, like this Daiquiri or this Lamborn, which contains snap pea juice. You can get a Bee Sting on the Lanai, which is a drink and not a bug bite, or this Shark Infested Water, which is a very summer-ish name for a drink. Of course, you can’t have a list of rum drinks without a classic Mojito.

And while you’re drinking one of those drinks, you can read this piece from the December 9, 1905, issue of the Post, where we told you that soft drinks and “demon rum” were bad, and the only sensible thing a person should drink is water.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

National Radio Day (August 20)

Do you still listen to the radio? I don’t mean just satellite radio or podcasts, I mean real terrestrial radio. It seems like something that will always be with us, but there are some big clues that it’s dying.

National Senior Citizens Day (August 21)

Maybe you could spend the day with your grandparents (or parents!) or check on that elderly neighbor you wave to on the way out the door.

Featured image: Shutterstock

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  1. I really love piglets and just visited them a couple of weeks ago at the Ventura County Fair, along with some great horses and goats. These “moss piglets” here though, not so much—–at all. They look like those enlarged dust mites Bob, and unfriendly to boot.

    90+ percent of what I hear about Facebook is bad. Stay off it. You know better than to rejoin it anyway! I WILL ask you again in a month, and the answer should still be no, and all the months and years that follow. I forgot if you’re on Twitter or not. Anyway, just stick with that. I do to mainly connect with the Post here, and some celebs I have a rapport with, like Tatum O’Neal and Jane Fonda. It’s all you need and isn’t toxic like Facebook!

    Thanks for selecting a great vintage Post cover this week! Those Banana Splits are outrageous. One of them split in half is still too much for both of those kids, let alone one. Beautiful artwork too. Lest we not forget the many, many Post artists that created the majority of wonderful covers, like Amos Sewell here.


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