News of the Week: Summer Vacation, Alex Trebek’s New Book, and Maybe You Need Some Watermelon Beer

In the news for the week ending July 24, 2020, are Alex Trebek, Captain Sir Tom Moore, John Dillinger, Richard Nixon, and more.

Man next to pool

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“Travel” Plans

A heat wave in my area is defined as three days in a row where the temperature reaches 90 degrees. I don’t know why that’s the official definition. I guess they have to have some sort of scientific criteria, but don’t tell me that only two straight days of 90-degree, sticky, soupy weather shouldn’t count as a “heat wave.”

As it turns out, we here in the Northeast did get three days in a row of 90+ temps. But even when it’s just 85 — like it is as I type this — the added 70 percent humidity can make it seem like the surface of Mercury.

Have I told you lately how much I hate summer?

I know I’m in the minority. I’d live in the cooler of my local liquor store if they’d let me. Most people just love June/July/August weather, the time of summer vacations. Disney World! Road trips! Beaches! Personally, I don’t get why someone would want to leave their town where it’s 90 degrees and then go somewhere where it’s … 90 degrees, only more crowded and irritating and expensive. Shouldn’t people go to Iceland in the summer?

Of course, summer vacations look a lot different in 2020. Most people are staying put or at the very least looking for something more local to do. Maybe you’re going to a relative’s pool or renting a place nearby or simply going to a local beach and then coming back home that day. I hope you’re finding a way to get your mind off of all the bad news and find some semblance of a “vacation” before school starts (whatever shape that takes in August).

In fact, I just gave you a mini-vacation in this column. No “This Week in Social Distancing” section this week, because I think we need a little “social distance” from all that news, at least for a week.

I have big plans for my summer vacation. Instead of staying in the living room all the time, I might pack up a bag and travel to another room in my apartment. I might even be really adventurous and take a walk around the block. I’ll carry a lawn chair and a road map so it looks like I’m really going somewhere.

Alex Trebek Update

Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek has a new memoir out, The Answer Is … Reflections on My Life, and he’s been doing interviews for it the past week, including this conversation in The New York Times where he reveals what he has been up to during the pandemic. He says he plans to stay on with the show as long as he possibly can but worries that he might be slurring his words or slowing down a bit, and he knows that one day he’ll have to give up the show (he suggests that Betty White take over).

One of the things he’s been doing during the pandemic shutdown is taping new intros to classic episodes of the series that they’re currently running, including the very first episodes with Trebek as host in 1984.

In a video update for fans, Trebek says that he’s ready to get back to taping as soon as it’s safe for everyone. He also revealed his white quarantine goatee.

About those classic episodes: I’ve been watching the show from the beginning, and I had completely forgotten that contestants used to be able to buzz in with an answer (uh, a question) before Trebek finished the question (I mean the answer). At some point over the years, they changed it, and now if you try to buzz in before Trebek finishes the question, you’re locked out.

Captain Tom Is Now Sir Tom

I’d like to think I’m going to be active and spry and completely with it when I’m 100, but I’ll probably just be sitting in front of my TV watching reruns of old sitcoms. That pretty much describes how I am now, but I bet I’ll be doing it when I’m 100 too.

Not Captain Tom Moore. The British World War II hero turned 100 in April and was recently knighted by Queen Elizabeth for helping raise money for COVID-19 relief efforts. He is now Captain Sir Thomas Moore.

Moore started his fundraising at the age of 99, walking laps around the garden of his house for 24 days. He hoped to raise ₤1,000 by the time he turned 100. So far he has raised over ₤33 million (that’s about $41 million).

Grandma’s 20 Years with the Cincinnati Reds

I spent a summer being the official scorekeeper for my older brother’s softball team. I enjoyed learning how to do all of the different notations and symbols you had to use for a single or an error or a run scored. I remember loving the “official” aspect of it, because the record was important. One day the official scorekeeper for the entire league had to come to my house to look at the box score for a game because he had missed it. I felt important that day.

I only did it for one summer, though (I guess it wasn’t that important to me), which pales in comparison to the records kept by this grandmother, Minnie Lee Olges, an avid Cincinnati Reds fan who kept box scores for nearly every game for 20 years. She kept them in a variety of notebooks and on scraps of paper but never an official scorebook, and did it until she turned 85. She passed away at the age of 90.

Her nephew still has the notebooks and has set up a Twitter page, where he gives the daily scores for each game of the season.

Weird Product of the Week

I don’t have much to say about the new line of Grateful Dead Edible Deodorant. Except this: I’d use it as a deodorant or a food, but not both.

RIP John Lewis, C.T. Vivian, Joanna Cole, Emitt Rhodes, Chris Dickey, Phil Ashly, and Jamie Oldaker

John Lewis was a civil rights icon and Democratic congressman from Georgia whose beating in Selma, Alabama, led to the passage of the 1965 Civil Rights Act. He died last week at the age of 80.

C.T. Vivian was another civil rights leader. He worked alongside Martin Luther King Jr., meeting him during the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott. He died last week at the age of 95.

Joanna Cole was the author of the Magic School Bus book series and many other books. She died Sunday at the age of 75.

Emitt Rhodes recorded three well-received albums in the late ’60s/early ’70s (he was going to be the next Paul McCartney) and then vanished for almost 40 years. He got tired of the business and decided to quit, occasionally doing some behind-the-scenes work as a producer. A big influence on performers like the Bangles, Jon Brion, and Aimee Mann, he released a comeback album in 2016. He died Sunday at the age of 70.

Emitt Rhodes Recordings [1969-1973] (Uploaded to YouTube by Emitt Rhodes – Topic)

Chris Dickey was a veteran foreign correspondent and author of seven books who started as a book editor at The Washington Post and later worked as an editor for Newsweek and The Daily Beast. He died last week at the age of 68.

Phil Ashley was a keyboardist who played with KISS, Mick Jagger, Cher, Debbie Harry, Joe Satriani, Michael Bolton, and Billy Idol. He died earlier this month at the age of 65.

Jamie Oldaker was a drummer who played with such musicians as Eric Clapton, Willie Nelson, Bob Seger, and Leon Russell. He died last week at the age of 68.

This Week in History

John Dillinger Killed (July 22, 1934)

America’s public enemy number one was shot by FBI agents outside Chicago’s Biograph Theater. He had just watched the 1934 film Manhattan Melodrama, starring Clark Gable, William Powell, and Myrna Loy.

Supreme Court Orders President Nixon to Surrender Tapes (July 24, 1974)

The decision was unanimous, 8-0. Nixon resigned from office on August 8, escaping a certain impeachment.

In an article for the Post in 1972, Nixon actually expressed excitement for recording presidential history.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Baseball Player Mowing the Lawn (July 20, 1946)

Team waiting while player mows his lawn

Sure, baseball is back, but the grass still needs to be cut. This cover is by Stevan Dohanos.

July Is National Watermelon Month

I don’t usually tell you that a certain month is a food month at the end of that month because it doesn’t give you much time to celebrate. But then I thought, are people really “celebrating” these food days? Do you really need several days’ notice so you can “prepare” to eat that food? Just grab some watermelon at the store and make the recipes below. There’s plenty of time, don’t panic!

This Watermelon Fire & Ice Salsa not only has a great name but it has a great combo of the refreshing and hot that people will love. If you’re sick of the usual grape or strawberry jelly on your bread, give this Watermelon and Geranium Jam a try. And if you’re looking for a cool summer cocktail that features watermelon, here are 11 from The Spruce Eats, including recipes for a Watermelon Margarita, a Watermelon Martini, Watermelon Beer (!), and something called Peppermelon.

If you’re spending your summer vacation at home, you have plenty of time to try every single one.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

NBA Season Starts (July 30)

All this talk about baseball and we forgot that basketball is starting up too. The first game, between the Utah Jazz and the New Orleans Pelicans, airs on TNT at 6:30 p.m. EDT.

The Muppets Are Back! (July 31)

Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, and the rest of the gang are back in new episodes on Disney+.

Featured image: SEPS

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  1. “Now more than ever, we need to appreciate our 37th President for his wonderful accomplishments; the likes of which we’ll never see again.” “HURAH” We are in our 80’s and did not see them all, we read about them all. “Thank you President Trump! My wife Joyce and I think you are doing more for this country than any previous president! Please get elected again.”

  2. Thank you for Alex Trebek’s video update. He looks fantastic and speaks eloquentlly, a true hero for hope.
    May his book hit the best seller list. Stay safe Alex!

  3. Great opening picture at the top by Thornton Utz (for those who automatically assume it’s a Rockwell). Nothing quite like having an obnoxious brother-in-law with SEVERAL children running to jump into your pool, ruining your Sunday quiet time! This man’s face says it all. He has to be gracious about it—–again.

    So sorry to hear about your heatwave, Bob. Isn’t 90+ awful?! God yes. And over 100, never mind 108-113?! I haven’t had it THAT hot in L.A. yet, but am prepared mentally for a bunch anyway between now and October. I recommend staying indoors and get yourselves one of the new portable fast room coolers. Hallelujah! I agree with everything you wrote about so many people all going to the same 90+ degree destinations. Not fun to me either. Same concept as air travel during the damn Holidays at the most crowded time of the year. Stress none of us need.

    I’m glad you had fun being the official scorekeeper for your brother’s softball team for that season. Obviously Grandma Minnie REALLY loved it and did a wonderful job, bless her heart! Grateful Dead Edible Deodorant? Why not? I actually WOULD have expected a CBD product. Could happen, I suppose.

    Sorry to hear about Emitt Rhodes. I’m familiar with his work; he had a lot of talent and preferred to do his own thing on his own schedule. In the 2000’s and ’10s he also worked closely with (L.A.-based) The Chris Price Band that I’ve seen seen several times between 2012-2017. They’re great and would like to see them again, whenever that may be. Check ’em out on YouTube!

    Speaking of that, I’ve been watching quite a few of the Tube’s features on John Dillinger and Bonnie and Clyde lately. Probably because of my fascination with gangsters from the 1870’s to the 1930’s. He was killed just two months after them.

    Definitely check out that wonderful ’72 POST feature on President Nixon. He wasn’t the first to record presidential history. Now more than ever, we need to appreciate our 37th President for his wonderful accomplishments; the likes of which we’ll never see again.


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