News of the Week: Here Come the Bugs, the Senior Songstress, and Muffins of the English Variety

In the news for the week ending April 23, 1921, cicadas stage a comeback, English muffins have their day in the sun, NASA takes flight on Mars, 77-year-old songs get a second chance, and more.

(Eric Isselee / Shutterstock)

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Fly, Cicadas, Fly

I was reminded this week of why I dislike the warmer months of the year so much (in addition to the fact that they’re warmer). I found a big spider on my kitchen counter. He was just sitting there, not even bothered by my presence, as if he were waiting for me to make something to eat so he could crawl on it.

But I’ll take that over swarms of flying insects. I saw all those “killer bees” movies when I was a kid.

2021 marks the year that the cicadas come back. Like bell bottom jeans and other things we don’t really need to see again, they return every once in a while to remind us, “Hey, we’re still a thing.” They come in 17-year cycles, and this is our lucky year (especially the months of May and June), so go out and see them before they vanish again until 2038.

USA Today has a guide to what cicadas are and when and where they’ll be visiting. Looks like Indiana is going to be their HQ.

Fly, Dragonfly, Fly

I mentioned a few weeks ago that NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter was set to take its first flight on Mars and it happened this past week.

Uploaded to YouTube by NASA

But NASA already has plans for their next copter. They hope to fly an even bigger machine named Dragonfly on Saturn’s moon Titan in 2027.

Out of the Past

This is my favorite story of the week.

In 1946, when she was 17 years old, Madeline Forman recorded several songs at a studio in New Jersey. Last year the now 94-year-old was doing some pandemic-related downsizing and came across the album in a box. She had completely forgotten about it. Her son contacted a friend who knew someone who could restore the recordings. Now you can listen to the songs, including “Don’t Take Your Love from Me,” “Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man of Mine,” and “Begin the Beguine,” on Forman’s site.

She recently re-recorded “Don’t Take Your Love from Me.” Here’s a comparison. She still sounds great.

Uploaded to YouTube by Howard Forman

Candy Makeup and Bone Broth Beer

I don’t pretend to be an expert when it comes to candy and other confections (though if eating a lot makes you an expert …), so I’m not quite sure why Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups is coming out with its own line of makeup. And it’s not even edible! I mean, what’s the point of having chocolate and peanut butter eye shadow if you can’t also eat it?

In other weird food and drink news, Anheuser-Busch is looking for a new beer taster and product ambassador for a new line of beer they’re launching. The pay is $20,000.

Oh, you have to be a dog.

Correction of the Week


RIP Walter Mondale, Helen McCrory, Felix Silla, Frank Jacobs, Jim Steinman, John Naisbitt, Tempest Storm, and Hester Ford

Walter Mondale was a senator from Minnesota for 12 years before becoming vice president under Jimmy Carter. He ran for president in 1984 but lost handily to Ronald Reagan. He died Monday at the age of 93.

Helen McCrory starred in the TV series Peaky Blinders and appeared in such movies as The Queen, Skyfall, Hugo, and three Harry Potter films. She was also an acclaimed stage actress and was married to actor Damian Lewis. She died last week at the age of 52.

Felix Silla had several memorable roles over his long career, including Cousin Itt on The Addams Family and Twiki the Robot on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. He also appeared as an actor or stunt double in movies like Return of the Jedi, Planet of the Apes, Poltergeist, The Black Bird, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. He died last week at the age of 84.

Frank Jacobs contributed work to Mad magazine for almost six decades, everything from political satire and fake obituaries to song and sports parodies. He died earlier this month at the age of 91.

Jim Steinman wrote all the songs on Meat Loaf’s classic album Bat Out of Hell, as well as Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and songs for Celine Dion, Barry Manilow, Air Supply, and various movie soundtracks. He died Monday at the age of 73.

John Naisbitt wrote the bestselling non-fiction book Megatrends, which he followed up with several popular sequels. He died last week at the age of 92.

Tempest Storm — real name Annie Blanche Banks — was one of the world’s most famous burlesque strippers, up there with Gypsy Rose Lee and Lili St. Cyr. She not only reportedly had affairs with the rich and famous, she also continued to work into her 80s. She died Tuesday at the age of 93.

Hester Ford was the oldest living American. She died Sunday at the age of … well, either 115 or 116.

This Week in History

San Francisco Earthquake (April 18, 1906)

It registered 8.0 on the Richter scale, destroyed most of the city, and killed over 3,000 people.

New Coke Introduced (April 23, 1985)

I’ve mentioned here before how much I love the History Channel series The Food That Built America, the outrageously entertaining/interesting show that explains how popular American foods and companies — McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Lay’s Potato Chips, TV dinners — came to be. The second season started recently and they have a great episode about the history of Coke vs. Pepsi, and one of the sections explores the controversial New Coke that Coca-Cola unveiled this week in 1985 when they saw that their lead over Pepsi was dwindling.

It didn’t last long (turns out Coke lovers didn’t want their drink to taste different!), and it became one of the more controversial business decisions in history.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: “First Prom Dress” (April 18, 1959)

teenage girl trying out her prom dress
First Prom Dress
Kurt Ard
April 18, 1954

Are schools having proms this year? It probably depends on your state. Certainly more than had them last year.

I went to two proms. My own was just so-so but I enjoyed going again a couple of years later.

Nooks and Crannies

Of course, there are other types of English muffins besides Thomas’, who describe their products as having “nooks and crannies” (yes, I linked to that just last month but it’s funny!). Whenever I hear the words “English muffin” I automatically think of Thomas’. I guess years of watching TV and buying the same brand will do that. The power of advertising!

Today is National English Muffin Day. You could go with Thomas’ or make your own Homemade English Muffins. Whichever you choose to use, you can make these Freezer Breakfast Sandwiches, French Toast, or Breakfast Pizza. And since English muffins aren’t just for breakfast anymore, try this Deli in My Belly Tuna Melt, this Ultra Cheesy Mac & Cheese Leftovers Sandwich, or these English Muffin Snack Skewers.

Dessert? How about Strawberry Cheesecake English Muffins with Balsamic Glaze?

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

The Oscars (April 25)

One could argue that the Academy Awards were already becoming ho-hum even before the pandemic reduced the ceremony to a mostly virtual affair. But director Steven Soderbergh is one of the people behind this year’s ceremony so it could get interesting. It airs on ABC at 8 p.m. Here’s a ballot you can print out.

NFL Draft (April 29 – May 1)

It’s only April and we’re already looking ahead to the fall football season. Coverage begins Thursday at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

Featured image: (Eric Isselee / Shutterstock)

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  1. A big spider on your kitchen counter in late April? Always good to have a can of Raid under the counter. Get the lavender or lemon scent if you have a choice. Hopefully that’s it. I’d never heard of the Cicada before. If I didn’t know better I’d have guessed it might have been the name of an upcoming Buick model! At least they don’t sting or bite people and animals. I’m sorry they’ve decided to make Indiana their home. Hasn’t that state been through enough lately?!

    I wasn’t familiar with Madeline Forman, thanks for the link. She not only sounds great, but looks it too. I’d NEVER have guessed her for being 94, not even close! Candy company makeup and bone broth beer? You’re right, that’s weird, but the KFC scented perfume or whatever that was awhile back was even more strange.

    Bone broth beer for dogs. I know that a dog might like the real thing. When I did light and lite drinking in the mid-’80s, I put a little Bud Light into my dog’s 2nd (empty) water bowl and he drank it rather quickly. This was around the same time I let him have some ‘New Coke’. We both thought it tasted great, and felt had it been introduced as an addition to the line as ‘Coke II’ it might have fared better.

    Today my Boston Terrier will occasionally get a little Vanilla Coke when I can actually/occasionally even FIND it with pandemic choice limitations. A teaspoon of peanut butter a little more often? But of course. Limitation of choice is not a problem there. That’s why choosy dads choose JIF!

    Studying that 1959 POST cover, I have to wonder if this girl would choose that prom dress. She looks ambivalent and uneasy despite trying not appear that way. Dad’s unhappy about the price but resigned to paying it if that’s what mom wants.

    Let’s have a toast to the degrading Oscars everyone! May the low ratings on this artificially-kept-alive egotistical broadcast of America’s undeserving rich continue to sink to the levels of (most) of its participants. Yeah, baby!


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