News of the Week: A New Planet, a Sleeping Beauty, and a Fantastically Funny Family Feud Fail

In the news for the week ending January 17, 2020, are a new planet, an old book, a spectacular game show win, a funny game show loss, and much more.

An alien exoplanet

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TOI 1338 b

What were you doing when you were 17?

I was working at a job I didn’t particularly like — prep cook and dishwasher at a nursing home — trying to figure out how I was going to pass Mr. Pasek’s history class so I could graduate in a few months (I did, and I did), driving a car that didn’t have windshield wipers, doing things on the weekends that 17-year-olds probably shouldn’t be doing. The usual.

I certainly didn’t discover any planets (or, full disclosure, moons or comets). But Scarsdale High School junior Wolf Cukier did, on just his third day as an intern at NASA. The planet is 6.9 times larger than Earth and is 1,300 light-years away from us (that’s a long way).

The name of the planet is TOI 1338 b, which doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue or the keyboard, so they’ll have to change it to “Wolf” or “Cukier,” right?

Men, It’s Time to Up Your Proposal Game

Lee Loechler wanted to propose to his girlfriend, so he did what most of us would do: worked six months with an animator to carefully alter the ending to his girlfriend’s favorite movie to include them both, asked strangers on Reddit to come to the theater to fill the seats that weren’t taken up by family and friends, and had fake tickets printed up. Watch the video and notice how the plan was so well thought out that the animal characters even stop to watch the proposal.

(She said yes.)

The Snowy Day

I don’t have kids, so I haven’t read a children’s book in quite some time, but I know all the big ones: The Cat in the Hat, Charlotte’s Web, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The Snowy Day? I’ve never heard of it.

I’m in the minority though, as the 1962 Ezra Jack Keats classic is the number-one book to be checked out of the New York Public Library since its founding in 1895. There are some adult titles on the list too, including 1984, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Fahrenheit 451.

She’s Wrong, But at Least She’s Confidently Wrong

Uploaded to YouTube by Family Feud Canada

Of course, Popeye’s promptly gave her $10,000 of food for her mistake.

What I Learned From Jeopardy! This Week

First, I learned that Ken Jennings is the greatest player of all time, as he beat Brad Rutter and James Holzhauer in a prime-time battle royale.

Second, I learned that the first device to mute the sound coming from our televisions had the excellent name of Blab-Off. It was invented in 1952 and was a separate device you hooked up to your television with a wire.

Here’s an essay by Laura Alpern, daughter of Blab-Off inventor Howard Manischewitz, that tells the story of how the device was invented (he and his wife were annoyed by commercials) and why it didn’t really take off.

RIP Neil Peart, Carol Serling, and Stan Kirsch

Rush’s Neil Peart was considered by many to be the greatest drummer in rock history. He was also the main lyricist for the band, famous for such songs as “Tom Sawyer,” “The Spirit of Radio,” and “Limelight.” He died last week at the age of 67.

Carol Serling was an actress and the wife of The Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling. She also served as the associate publisher of Twilight Zone Magazine and producer of various films based on the show, as well as the current reboot airing on CBS All Access. She died last week at the age of 91.

Stan Kirsch played Richie on the TV series Highlander. He also appeared on TV shows such as Friends, JAG, and Invincible. He was also an acting coach and teacher. He died last week at the age of 51.

Quote of the Week

“Disney is like jalapeños. I never learn. I always think I can handle it and then a couple of hours later I wish I was dead.”

—Jim Gaffigan, about taking his 5 kids to the amusement park, on Conan

This Week in History

Alexander Hamilton Born (January 11, 1755)

You may have heard of Mr. Hamilton from the stage musical that has become rather popular. When he wasn’t singing, he was also an attorney, a politician, a banker, and more.

Dick York Collapses on Set of Bewitched (January 13, 1969)

The first man to play Darrin on the sitcom suffered from severe back problems and collapsed on the set during the taping of the “Daddy Does His Thing” episode. If you watch the episode, you’ll see that York is in it at the beginning but vanishes for the rest of the episode, except for a quick shot at the very end that was filmed earlier. They had to change the plot of the episode because York wasn’t available, so Darrin conveniently gets turned into a donkey.

Dick Sargent replaced York later in 1969 and played Darrin until the end of the series.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Tea Ad (January 14, 1961)

Vintage tea ad of a man being tied up.

As a tea drinker in a coffee world, I like when I see ads for it. This illustration is a good rendering of how I feel before I have my first cup in the morning.

“Tea psyches you up!” could be the modern slogan for the drink. The ads could feature various celebrities touting the drink. Oprah! Tom Hanks! The woman who got the Popeye question wrong!

January Is National Hot Tea Month

After a few days of bizarre 70-degree weather, it’s cold again here. A little snow this weekend to remind us it’s still January. The perfect time for some Milk Tea, which I’ve been drinking all these years without realizing it. Or maybe you can try this Slow-Cooker Chai, this Ginger Cardamom Tea, or this Spicy Apple Tea.

What, you drink iced tea in the winter? You’re on your own.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

National Thesaurus Day (January 18)

Here are 7 surprising synonyms for the day.

Australian Open Starts (January 19)

Due to the incredible fires currently plaguing Australia, several of the qualifying matches have been delayed, with some players even dropping out of the tournament, which begins on ESPN2 at 7 p.m.

National Handwriting Day (January 23)

Here’s a fun experiment. Write a letter — a long letter — to a friend or family member. If you’re like me, you’ll find that your cursive needs some work. If you’re under 45, today would be a good day to learn cursive.

Featured image: Shutterstock

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  1. My favorite episode of Bewitched has to be the one they filmed in my hometown, one of several episodes they filmed on location in Massachusetts while the set was being rebuilt because of a fire.

  2. This new planet discovery is fine, but what about Pluto? I still want to see it it restored as a planet. So you worked in a nursing home for awhile at 17? I did too, but it was for class/grade credit. Basically an easy ‘A’, I helped the nurses at the local board & care set the tables for the dinner meal, change the water for the elderly resident’s water containers, visit with them and help with any other odds & ends. It “paid” well to be helpful and polite, trust me.

    Really sick of “public” proposals. At least this one wasn’t on a &@) damn plane or sporting event for once. Talk about played out! I have to give him points for creativity at least. He (like the others) has money which will be good for her when the divorce comes…

    Blab-Off should have been a HIT product with Howard making millions. That is just so wrong. I didn’t know the specifics of Dick York’s leaving ‘Bewitched’ as such. Dick Sargent did the best he could as Darrin. One of my favorite episodes of the show EVER was exactly 50 years ago this month.

    It started with Sam wanting to keep her living room normal and Endora wanting it to be over-the-top exotic. Mrs. Stevens (Mabel Albertson) walks in the front door during their back and forth, and instead of fainting, she does a sliding down onto the floor. Sam turns around and is shocked. One of the ONLY times she’s ever caught off guard!

    I think everyday should be National Handwriting Day. Most people under 45 were taught cursive. It didn’t stop until about 2010 or so, meaning people born through the ’90s and even 2000 should know it. If you don’t, it’s worth learning, trust me. You’re better than scribble.


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