News of the Week: Winter Scenes, Nasal Rangers, and the Great American Peanut Butter Debate

In the news for the week ending January 24, 2020, are a smelling machine, an aircraft carrier, a book murderer, a stupid firestarter, congressional milk, and much more.

An illustration of a park in winter. The trees are cov

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This Is January

I’m looking out my living room window to a park directly across the street from my apartment. It’s not a park in the sense that a lot of people actually go there to relax or play with their dogs or toss a Frisbee around. It’s a small park, next to the water, and it more or less acts as a shortcut for people walking from the industrial section of the town to the busier downtown area.

In the summer it’s an area I don’t usually pay attention to, unless I’m jostled out of my sleep by someone trimming the trees using a device with the decibel level of a Boeing jet engine. But in the winter it turns into something else. The snow covers everything in white, the ground and the benches and the barren trees, and creates a seasonal landscape of uncommon beauty. It’s nearly a picture print from Currier & Ives.

You may love the lush, humid days of July and August. I’ll take winter. I’ll take the common cold over sunburn, long pants over shorts, hot tea over iced. Sure, when late February/early March comes around and there’s still snowbanks everywhere, blackened by weeks of dirt and sprinkled with trash, a sad reminder of what once was, I long for a couple of months of warmer weather. But right now it’s January. It’s cold and comforting and beautiful. I love it and I just felt like mentioning it.

Nose News

I’m sure this device will come in handy, but there’s no way they won’t look ridiculous using it.

Doris Miller

The names on U.S. aircraft carriers include such well-known figures as Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Ford, and Reagan, among others. You can now add Doris Miller to that list. You don’t know who he is? Watch this CBS Sunday Morning feature for the story.

The Book Murderer

If I could give this guy just one piece of advice, it would be this: Maybe buy a Kindle?

Spenser Confidential

As a fan of the Robert Parker Spenser novels and the 1980s TV show starring Robert Urich and Avery Brooks, let me just say … this isn’t Spenser. It might be a good movie, but it’s not Spenser. He was in prison? There’s no Susan? Henry Cimoli runs a boarding house? Honestly, it looks interchangeable with 20 other movies that have come out recently; they just happen to be using the character names.

This Week in Dumb Viral Challenges

Eating spoonfuls of cinnamon and dancing next to your car while it’s moving are sooooooo last decade. The new hip thing is electrocuting yourself and possibly starting a fire.

RIP Terry Jones, Jim Lehrer, Christopher Tolkien, Marion Chesney, and Gary Starkweather

Terry Jones was a member of the legendary British comedy troupe Monty Python. He also co-directed (with castmate Terry Gilliam) 1975’s Monty Python and the Holy Grail and later directed Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life. He died this week at the age of 77.

Jim Lehrer was a veteran journalist and host of PBS’s NewsHour for 36 years. The show started in 1975 as The Robert MacNeil Report and was renamed The MacNeil/Lehrer Report a year later, with Lehrer co-anchoring with Robert MacNeil. The name was changed to The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer when MacNeil retired in 1995. Lehrer also moderated 12 presidential debates from 1988 to 2012 and authored dozens of novels, memoirs, and plays. He died Thursday at the age of 85.

Christopher Tolkien was the son of Lord of the Rings creator J.R.R. Tolkien and executor of the late author’s estate. He also kept his father’s writings alive by editing and publishing other works based on the series of books and characters. He died last week at the age of 95.

Marion Chesney was better known as M.C. Beaton, the creator of the characters Hamish Macbeth and Agatha Raisin, who solved mysteries in two different series of books and TV shows. She also wrote over 100 historical romance novels. She died last week at the age of 83.

While working at Xerox in the 1970s, engineer Gary Starkweather had an idea. That idea turned into the laser printer. He died last month at the age of 81.

Quote of the Week

“Now, milk may seem weird, but that’s just so senators from Wisconsin can bring in their emotional support cows.”

—Stephen Colbert, on news that senators are only allowed to drink water or milk during the impeachment trial, on The Late Show

This Week in History

Edgar Allan Poe Born (January 19, 1809)

Did the writer of such classic stories as “The Raven” and “The Tell-Tale Heart” write for the Post? He did! “The Black Cat” was published in our August 19, 1843, issue.

The Post also published several of his earlier stories and poems. There is some mystery about one story titled “A Dream,” which might be the work of Poe, but was published with a byline of only the letter P.

Apple’s Macintosh Introduced (January 24, 1984)

Steve Jobs started the now-common tradition of unveiling new technology via large media events. I don’t know if that turned out to be a good thing or not, but here’s video of his introduction of the Macintosh, which changed computing forever.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Two Points (January 24, 1942)

This is one of my favorite Post covers. It was the last published work by Ski Weld, who died just two years later at the age of 52.

Today Is National Peanut Butter Day

There are many classic debates. Mac vs. PC, Coke vs. Pepsi, end of the toilet paper going over the top vs. underneath. You can add smooth peanut butter vs. crunchy to that list. When I was a kid I only ate the smooth stuff, but as an adult I prefer chunky. I don’t know why these things happen in life, but here we are.

You probably know how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to your liking, so I won’t go into a detailed recipe (just make sure you use a sturdy bread), but how about making these classic Peanut Butter Cookies from Simply Recipes? Maybe give this Peanut Butter Cake from Allrecipes a try, or these No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars. If you want to go all out and make something that combines all of your favorite things, try these Chocolate Pretzel Peanut Butter Brownies from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Any of these would be great with milk.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

NHL All-Star Game (January 25)

The annual game will be played at the home of the St. Louis Blues, the Enterprise Center. It airs at 8 p.m. on NBC.

The Grammy Awards (January 26)

I haven’t been interested in the Grammys since I had a full head of hair, but I think we should all root for Lana Del Rey’s Norman F***ing Rockwell! to win “Album of the Year” and “Song of the Year.” The show airs at 8 p.m. on CBS.

National Puzzle Day (January 29)

Think you’re smart? Try solving these puzzles from the February 8, 1873, issue of The Saturday Evening Post.

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Comments

  1. Dan: I was the same way when I was a kid. American cheese was one of the main food groups in our home and I rarely if ever even tried Swiss or cheddar or anything else (except on a pizza). For sandwiches it was always Kraft American. I actually like it though!

  2. I never had crunchy PB until I was an adult. My mother didn’t believe in the stuff. When it comes to PB & crackers, I definitely want the smooth stuff. But for PB&J, I like either. Also, as a kid I didn’t know that cheese was anything other than American cheese because my mother only bought those American cheese slices. So I thought I hated cheese, all cheese, because I hated American cheese. Only after going away to college did i discover that cheese came in lots of varieties. I actually like most varieties, Swiss the best (the true stuff, not those yucky processed slices) but I still loathe American cheese, almost as much as my most disliked, blue cheese.

  3. I’m glad you’re happy with the cold weather, and (apparently) haven’t been sick with a cold like I was, and there’s still almost 2 months of it left, so enjoy. I’m glad you love it. I might too next year, but not before getting the flu shot no later than October!

    The story on Mr. Miller was very interesting, and he definitely deserves to have a U.S. aircraft carrier named after him. He had to endure a lot of unfairness because he was black, which was compounded by his first name. Dory or Dorie would have been fine, but not Doris!! That was so wrong. Regardless, he’s finally being honored in a way that should inspire all Americans to do their best, and take pride in this country despite the fact it’s getting harder.

    I could have told you what the ‘Spenser Confidential’ trailer would be like without seeing/hearing this trailer, which it was: just another generic, cliched-out, down-the-checklist, two-male “action” film that looks like all the other tens of thousands clones made over the past 30-plus years aimed at brain-dead guys. Of COURSE it’s nothing like the old Robert Urich series, any more than the completely unwatchable “revivied” ‘Hawaii 5-0’ was to the ’68-’80 series.

    Strictly capitalizing on a familiar name and known commodity, using some elements of the real shows, where any similarities end. Fortunately Marky Mark’s film looks like a one shot thing, so far. Remember when I told you the executives at Ford were flown out here to see the pilot of the new ‘Hawaii 5-0’ after it was shot, and they all walked out in disgust after the first 15 minutes of non-stop explosions and carnage? That’s why they didn’t want the Mustang associated with “such an absolute pile of $#!+.” They made the right decision. Chrysler wouldn’t have even considered the Challenger for it, by the way. But, Chevy did…

    Electrocuting yourself and starting fires as the trendy new thing for teens to do. How can I un-read this, please?

    The ’42 cover by Ski Weld is brilliant from every aspect. I really like ALL of his Post covers very much even though there aren’t that many. So great seeing it all lit up online here.

    I have a weakness for peanut butter, but not as much as my dog; my God! All he’s allowed though is a teaspoon from time to time. I don’t feel any more is healthy. The No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars sound especially great!

    You are kidding about the Grammy Awards for the reasons mentioned, and the fact they’ve been meaningless about as long as long as SNL has. But they’ll go on and on as living-dead shows, like ‘Hawaii 5-0’, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ ‘Survivor’ and the ‘Academy Awards’.

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