News of the Week: Spelling Bees, Space Billionaires, and Do You Dare Try a Snickles?

In the news for the week ending July 16, 2021, are murraya, Emmys, Snickles, bowling balls, penuche, and more.

Rocket launch
Alexyz3d / Shutterstock

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Popular Science describes a murraya as “a genus of flowering citrus tree that comes from eastern Asia and Australia,” and it’s the word that won 14-year-old Zaila Avant-Garde the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee trophy (and $50,000).

Spelling isn’t the only talent Avant-Garde has. She’s pretty good at basketball too.

Other words in the later rounds included fewtrils, retene, and fidibus. I could tell you what those words mean too but you should look them up.

The bee is fun (ESPN airs it every year), but it must add an incredible amount of stress for the kids (as if they didn’t have enough stress already). I get anxious just watching it. It always reminds me of the time in fifth grade when I almost won my school’s spelling bee. I say “almost” because even though I spelled Massachusetts correctly, I forgot to say “capital M.”

I was not happy.

Rocket Men

Billionaires are just like you and me. They brush their teeth in the morning, they check their email, and they own companies that build innovative rocket ships so they can take personal rides into space whenever they want.

Richard Branson beat Amazon’s Jeff Bezos in the “first into space” race this week, joining other Virgin Galactic employees on a trip high above the New Mexico desert. (Bezos takes off on July 20, the anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the moon.)

They didn’t go to the moon or deep into outer space, it was just far enough to qualify as “space,” but it was an important trip. It wasn’t just a joyride. This is where the future of space travel and travel in general is going, and some private company and citizen had to be the first to do it.

Emmy Nominations

There was a time I knew everything about what was on television. I not only watched TV as a fan, I wrote about it full-time for over 20 years. I knew all the current shows, what was canceled, what was coming back, who was cast in this or that. I knew the premiere dates, watched as many shows as was humanly possible, and watched every single Emmys telecast.

I can’t do that anymore. Not only do I not write about television that much these days, I can’t even keep track of all the shows. With Netflix and Amazon and Paramount+ and Hulu and cable and the broadcast networks and a hundred other outlets, there are just too many shows to watch!

I find comfort in the older shows. I watch MeTV and TV Land more than ABC.

I saw a story the other day about how an NBC show was canceled after four seasons. I had never even heard of the show before, which is probably a good indication of how many people are watching broadcast TV these days.

This is just my long-winded way to tell you that the Emmy nominations were announced this week, and if that’s something you’re interested in, here’s the list from Entertainment Weekly.

Matthew Rhys is nominated for his work on Perry Mason and I guess I want him to win, because he’s really good. And because it’s the only nominated show I watched.

Snickles Satisfies You

I’m not sure how three-year-old memes once again become popular — probably some magical combination of algorithms, Google searches, and someone on social media with a lot of followers finding it and linking to it — but people are talking about Snickles again.

No, I hadn’t heard of it before either. What is a Snickles? It’s what you get when you take a pickle, slice it, and shove a Snickers bar into it. (And then you eat it, if that wasn’t clear.)

This either sounds appealing to you or completely disgusting. Opinions will differ, but if you are intrigued, I suggest that you try it and then come back here and let us know how it is, because I’m certainly not going to eat it.

Headline of the Week

“Muskegon Man Finds 158 Buried Bowling Balls During Home Renovation”

RIP William Smith, Charlie Robinson, Paul Orndorff, and Chick Vennera

William Smith appeared in tons of movies and TV shows, including … too many movies and TV shows to list here! Check out his IMDb page. He died last week at the age of 88.

Charlie Robinson was best known for playing Mac on Night Court. He also had regular roles on Home Improvement, Buffalo Bill, Flamingo Road, Ink, Buddy Faro, Love & War, and other shows. He died Sunday at the age of 75.

Paul Orndorff was a popular wrestler since the 1970s — his nickname was Mr. Wonderful — and a member of the WWE Hall of Fame. He died Monday at the age of 71.

Chick Vennera had roles in such movies as The Milagro Beanfield War, Thank God It’s Friday, Yanks, and McBain, as well as TV shows like JAG and Vegas, and as a voice actor in Animaniacs, The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, and other animated series. He died last week at the age of 74.

This Week in History

Henry David Thoreau Born (July 12, 1817)

Walden Pond, the Concord, Massachusetts, pond made famous by Thoreau, has been the subject of controversy this summer. Swimming outside of designated areas was banned at the pond after a series of water accidents around the state. The ban was reversed less than a week later after complaints, and the pond reopened to all swimming, with additional safety measures added.

Babe Ruth’s First Game (July 11, 1914)

Ruth made his debut as a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox in a game against the Cleveland Naps. He struck out his first time at bat.

Ruth was profiled in a Post four-part series in 1931.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Thunderstorm at the Shore (July 10, 1954)

Thunderstorm at the Shore

It has been raining an awful lot where I am — my front stairs were like a waterfall — so this cover seems appropriate.

Penuche Fudge

I wonder if penuche has ever been a word at the Scripps National Spelling Bee?

Next Thursday, July 22, is National Penuche Fudge Day. That’s the type of fudge that’s tan-colored and creamier than most fudge and flavored with brown sugar and vanilla. It’s popular here in New England and would be perfect for a rainy day.

Here’s a recipe from Martha Stewart that includes walnuts, and here’s one from Yankee Magazine that uses pecans. I happen to like it without nuts, which are usually optional in most recipes anyway.

If you want, you could place some penuche fudge inside of a pickle and start a new food trend. You can call it a Penuchle.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Record Store Day (July 17)

Somehow I missed that Record Store Day happened on June 12. But you’re in luck: this year there are two days to get deals on vinyl.

Moon Day (July 20)

Sure, this is the day to celebrate the 1969 Apollo 11 mission that landed men on the moon, but it’s also a chance to watch Jeff Bezos blast off, eat Moon Pies, listen to the music of Who drummer Keith Moon, maybe even moon someone.

Featured image: Alexyz3d / Shutterstock

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  1. Branson’s high altitude flight was indisputably a marvel of technology. However, much as Branson wants to spin it: if you don’t make it to the Karman Line you haven’t been in space.

  2. Bob: Funny you should say. I call a relative and if I can’t reach her I leave a voice mail but she never listens to them! She just scrolls through the calls she missed, sees that I called, and then calls me, and I have to repeat the entire message to her. Sometimes speed and convenience isn’t all that convenient.

  3. Jeff Bezos is also too cheap to run the a/c in his processing plants, makes his employees pee in bottles, keeps them under constant surveillance, and doesn’t pay any taxes! What a guy! I want him to return safely from his space adventure Tuesday however, but only because he has two innocent people as passengers on board too.

    Snickles: the latest brain-dead ‘trend’ from TikTok. I’m not going to eat it either. Any takers though reading this week’s “News” wanna try it? Let him know; he’s given you an invitation after all. It’s more than I’d offer.

    Such a great Post cover choice! One of the busiest and most dangerous (I believe) the magazine has ever run. Very scary. We’ve got heat & fires out my way; so what else is new?! Oh that’s right, excessive heat without the fires in YOUR section of the U.S.

    I’d like some of Martha Stewart’s penuche fudge. A taste of New England. Sounds wonderful. Especially when she’s calmly explaining how to make it. Placing some of it inside a pickle is disgusting Bob, and we both know it!

    So, do you think I can get Survivor’s striking ‘Eye of the Tiger’ album from this record store? No problem if no. Just curious. I’m so tired of NEVER being able to reach a person on the phone at all now. Referred to an “app” or a “chat box” or worst of all, Facebook. Not being able to reach people on the phone is almost more depressing than COVID. That would make for a good column on your other site, don’t you think? I do.


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