News of the Week: Tricky Resolutions, New Books, and Alex Trebek’s Last ‘Jeopardy!’

In the news for the week ending January 8, 2021, are books to read, hot beverages to try, resolutions to break, and much more.

Flowers and candles are placed on Alex Trebek's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Ringo Chiu / Shutterstock

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The Best Laid Plans …

This is the week we really dug in and started to concentrate on all of the New Year’s resolutions we wrote down after the holidays. This is also the week that many of us abandoned those resolutions. Humans are very hard to figure out sometimes.

The experts — there are resolution experts — say that if we want our resolutions to be successful, they have to be specific and not the general proclamations we make every year. Small steps. So instead of saying, “I’m going to save money this year!” you have to figure out exactly how much money you want to put aside every week and make concrete plans on what to cut out. Instead of saying, “I’m going to lose weight!” you need to actually keep track of what you’re eating and figure out how much exact weight you want to lose and give yourself a deadline. Instead of saying, “I’m going to be happier this year!” actually deactivate your social media accounts.

There’s a certain psychology to making resolutions, and we shouldn’t freak out about them or put too much pressure on ourselves. There’s no law (yet) that says we have to make and start resolutions in January. It always “feels” better to start things at the very beginning of the year, but if you don’t get to them until February, who cares? It’s the starting that’s the important thing.

I want to get in shape this year too, and I have a specific strategy to accomplish this goal. Instead of just making a general resolution to “lose weight,” which never works for me, here’s my plan: I’m going to stop eating two big slices of Sara Lee cheesecake at midnight. I already have plans to eat those slices tonight, but I’ll definitely get to that resolution tomorrow.

New Year, New Books

Maybe your New Year’s resolution is to read more? You can check out the 10 picks by Amazon’s Al Woodworth in our latest issue. And here are a half dozen more:

Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion. This is a collection of essays written by Didion from the late ’60s to 2000.

Martha Stewart’s Very Good Things by Martha Stewart. The home/cooking/style expert has tips for the new year, from organizing your kitchen to updating your furniture to how to make a bomb shelter out of old ice cream containers. Okay, I don’t know about that last one, but she knows pretty much everything else.

Nick by Michael Farris Smith. This novel tells us what Nick Carraway was up to before the events depicted in The Great Gatsby.

The Last Days of John Lennon by James Patterson, Casey Sherman, and Dave Wedge. A look at the events that led up to the killing of the Beatle, featuring interviews with several of Lennon’s friends and associates, including Paul McCartney.

Just As I Am by Cicely Tyson. The 96-year-old actress has done just about everything, including winning an Oscar, a Tony, three Emmys, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom. This memoir explores her life from childhood through her rocky relationship with Miles Davis to her acting career and more.

The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2021 by Sarah Janssen. A lot of people will ask why they should buy something like this when we have the internet. And to that I say, why use the internet when you have this, America’s bestselling reference book of all time?

New H.G. Wells Coin Has Some Problems …

It’s great that the Royal Mint wanted to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the author’s death, but they got a couple of things wrong. For one thing, the Martian tripod on the front has four legs.

Goodbye, Alex

Alex Trebek, who died in November at the age of 80, taped his final episode of Jeopardy! in October, and it airs tonight (Friday). Check your local listings for the time.

Starting Monday, rotating guest hosts will helm the show, starting with champion Ken Jennings. After that, reports say that Katie Couric will host for a week.

Headline of the Week

“Psychic Who ‘Sees Future’ by Throwing Asparagus Makes Predictions for 2021”

RIP Dawn Wells, Phyllis McGuire, Tanya Roberts, Gerry Marsden, Alto Reed, and Paul Westphal

Dawn Wells was best known for playing Mary Ann on the classic sitcom Gilligan’s Island. She appeared in dozens of other shows and competed in the 1960 Miss America pageant. She died last week at the age of 82 (and now Tina Louise — Ginger — is the last surviving cast member from the show).

Phyllis McGuire was the last surviving member of The McGuire Sisters, known for such songs as “Sincerely,” “Sugartime,” and “Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight.” She died last week at the age of 89.

Uploaded to YouTube by The McGuire Sisters – Topic

Tanya Roberts replaced Shelley Hack on the hit ABC series Charlie’s Angels and co-starred in Roger Moore’s last film as James Bond, A View to a Kill. She later had a regular role on That ’70s Show. She died Monday at the age of 65.

Gerry Marsden was the lead singer of Gerry and the Pacemakers, known for such hits as “Ferry Cross the Mersey,” “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying,” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” He died last week at the age of 78.

Alto Reed was the saxophonist for Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band, on such songs as “Old Time Rock and Roll” and “Turn the Page.” He died last week at the age of 72.

Paul Westphal helped the Boston Celtics win the NBA Championship in 1974. He also played for the Phoenix Suns, Seattle Supersonics, and New York Knicks before becoming a coach. He died Saturday at the age of 70.

This Week in History

Alaska Becomes 49th State (January 3, 1959)

The state flag was designed by a 13-year-old, the state bird is the willow ptarmigan, and it’s against state law to give a moose a beer.

Sherlock Holmes’s Birthday — Maybe! (January 6, 1854)

This is the day fans of the detective celebrate, though Sir Arthur Conan Doyle never actually said on what day he was born.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Ice Skating in Central Park (January 5, 1963)

I really like this cover. It’s of Woolman Rink and was painted by Frank Mullins.

Hot Drinks for Cold Days (or Nights)

Whether you’re coming back inside after a day of skating or walking or shoveling snow, you need something to warm you up.

How about this Werther’s Hot Toddy from Delish, which includes Werther’s Original candies? Or how about this Blackberry Bourbon Mulled Wine from Food52? Food & Wine has a 19th-century eggnog called a Tom and Jerry (you have to first make a “Tom and Jerry batter”), while Serious Eats has a spiked coffee drink you may want to try called Architects and Kings.

Have an old coffee percolator in your closet or attic? Try this Spiced Percolater Punch from Saveur.

I just realized that all of those drinks include alcohol. If you want something without spirits for the young or the young at heart, try this Best Hot Chocolate from Bon Appétit.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Universal Letter Writing Week (January 10-16)

I still send out letters, but I want to send out even more (it’s one of my resolutions), so this week I bought some nice stationery. It’s so nice I don’t want to write on it, but I will.

Learn Your Name in Morse Code Day (January 11)

If you’d like to write me a letter in Morse code, mine is

-… – – – -… / … .- … … – – – -. .

Featured image: Ringo Chiu / Shutterstock

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  1. I subscribed to Saturday Evening Post but have never received one copy, what’s wrong?

  2. The best laid plans usually do awry. Life would be SO much better if the percentage of bad over good were reversed. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to hibernate more on days when I’m not working for money off-the- books during furlough. I took an online driving test for my boss this week, but keep that our secret. Most of the time it’s kosher; like dropping off/picking up building blue prints in downtown L.A.

    After you admitted you have 2 big slices of Sara Lee cheesecake at midnight; I had to admit to the above. I’ve cut back on drinking soft drinks but once a week or so I like an ice-cold can of caffeine-free ‘regular’ Coke late at night. The one with the logo in gold, that’s hard to find. I’ve cut back, so I want you to cut back on that delicious cheesecake gradually, so you’ll be satisfied with a sliver by comparison in 2 weeks. Nice the price of gas has remained at $2.95/$3.05/$3.15 overall. I know why, but still.

    I want to get the books by Cicely Tyson and the one on John Lennon. I met Cicely at Bio-Energy in Tarzana back in 2004. Very sweet, down-to-earth, classy lady. I love the cover of her book. I can’t believe she’s 96, yet I CAN from the standpoint she takes really good care of herself. I met Dawn Wells at a great vintage stars convention near LAX in early 2019 and got to talk to her for several minutes. She looked great (not “done”) and is as lovely and nice as you’d imagine her to be! Having access to REAL stars is one of the few perks of living out here.

    I know she would have been around a lot longer had it not been for Covid. Soooo awful. I’m shocked with Tanya Robert’s passing. I wish she had gotten better roles than ‘That 70’s Show’. It was TOTALLY a late 90’s-early 2000’s show, not worthy of her. She gave the final season of ‘Charlie’s Angels’ a dose of fun, sexy, fuel-injected pizzaz!

    Alto Reed was a fantastic saxophone player. ‘Turn the Page’ is one of Seger’s best songs that really showed off Alto’s talents. It’s funny I just mentioned Bob Seger last week in another Post feature comments regarding ‘Her Strut’ as my most favorite of all. The video with Jane Fonda is wonderful.

    Love hot chocolate, and want to try that recipe from Bon Appetit. Also that Spiced Percolator Punch. I have my Mom’s fancy 1954 percolator that still works really well. Talk about a taste that’s fresh and full of life, Bob. The 1963 Central Park ice skating cover is a favorite of mine, too. It was the kind of the final art cover for several years there, which makes it all the more special. This coming week is Universal Letter Writing week? I kind of did that a month ago with all my Christmas cards, and don’t have anything to say now.


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