News of the Week: Too Much News, Lightning Strikes, and We All Scream for Ice Cream

In the news for the week ending August 20, 2021, are the Washington Football Team, news, the Bulwer-Lytton Contest winners, more news, fake movies, still more news, cold treats, and an excess of news.

Lightning storm

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How to Stay Sane in a 24/7 World

Too much information running through my brain
Too much information driving me insane
—The Police, “Too Much Information”

I made a decision early on in the current pandemic (I think I can still say current pandemic because numbers are going up again, and we may be living with it forever), and that was to stop watching the news because it was driving me crazy.

Now, I haven’t stopped watching the news completely. I don’t know if that’s even possible if you watch TV and go on the internet every day, with breaking news updates and alerts in our email and social media posts. But I did reduce my news intake to what I would call a normal level.

My normal level is what we all did all the time until the 2000s (like many things, if you want to improve the future, look to the past). I watch maybe an hour of TV news a day, I read a few newspapers, I have a news site that gets updated so I can see what the big headlines are, I stay off of social media completely, and I have just a flip phone with no web access. I stay informed but I don’t drown myself in information. At some point, all the information actually works against you. The more info you get in, the less you understand and know.

I know a lot of people who practically live on social media and people who have cable news on all day. This is unhealthy. At best it can leave you exhausted and at worst maybe even a little depressed.

It never used to be this way. Once upon a time we all had jobs or school and rarely even thought about the news. We’d come home at some point during the day and maybe turn on the local news at 6 p.m. or the national news on the networks at 6:30. We’d read the paper, maybe listen to the radio, and then we’d watch a sitcom and we’d go to bed.

Now? We carry all of the news and information in the world in our pockets on little supercomputers (and next to our beds while we sleep). We have our phones, TVs, radios, mail, and the web with us all the time. We’re always connected, always getting news. There’s no separation anymore.

Because we live in a 24/7 news cycle, everything seems to be “breaking news” now, and TV news doesn’t help by labeling everything as such (and the very structure of social media makes everything “breaking news”). But you don’t have to live that way. Fight against it.

Wow, this opening was a lot more serious than I usually am here. So let’s watch some Three Stooges scenes.

Well, It Is a Tall Building

This happened at the Washington Monument this week:

Uploaded to YouTube by FOX 5 Washington, D.C.

Name That Team

The Washington Football Team, previously known as the Washington Redskins, have narrowed down their choices for a new team name, which they will unveil in 2022. The finalists are the Washington Armada, the Washington Brigade, the Washington Commanders, the Washington Defenders, the Washington Presidents, the Washington RedHogs, the Washington RedWolves, and keeping the current generic name.

(The RedHogs?)

They’ve narrowed it down to three of these names, but they’re not telling us which three.

How about the Washington Monuments? The logo can be a lightning strike.

The 2021 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Prizes

Edward Bulwer-Lytton was a British writer and politician, and he has an award named for him that celebrates bad writing. Specifically, it celebrates (ahem) bad opening sentences.

There are several awards given for various genres, and this year’s “winners” include this gem in the “Crime & Detective” category:

The Big Joe Palooka murder wasn’t just another killing, another homicide, another manslaughter, another slaying, another hit, another whack, another rubbing out, another bumping-off, another assassination, another liquidation, another extermination, another execution — but it was nothing new for Johnny Synonymous, Obsessive-Compulsive Crime Fighter.”

Hey, I’d read that novel.

Of course, these awards are more of a “who-can-write-badly-on-purpose” thing and not an event that skewers actual published works, but the entries are still funny.

Not many people read Bulwer-Lytton today, and even though these “bad writing” awards are named after him, he was once popular and did come up with several phrases that we use today, including “the pen is mightier than the sword,” “it was a dark and stormy night,” and “the great unwashed.”

Well, That Was Quick

Mike Richards, the new host of Jeopardy!, is now the former host of Jeopardy! After past comments he made as host of a podcast several years ago resurfaced, Richards has decided to step down. Richards will remain as the executive producer and the search for a host will continue, with previous guest hosts coming back and new guest hosts giving it a shot.

Richards has actually already filmed an entire week’s worth of episodes so they’ll have to run when the new season starts in September.

Nestflix

This is actually rather brilliant: a qwebsite for movies and TV shows that don’t exist!

RIP Nanci Griffith, Maki Kaji, Una Stubbs, and Chucky Thompson

Nanci Griffith won the 1993 Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album. She wrote and performed the song “From a Distance” (before Bette Midler’s version) and “Love at the Five and Dime” and played with groups like the Chieftains and Buddy Holly’s Crickets. She died last week at the age of 68.

Maki Kaji didn’t invent Sudoku, the numbers puzzle played by millions every day, but he is the one who gave the game its name and made it popular worldwide. He died earlier this month at the age of 69.

Una Stubbs was best known for playing Mrs. Hudson on the TV series Sherlock and Rita on Till Death Us Do Part. She died last week at the age of 84.

Chucky Thompson was a producer responsible for many albums and songs by people like Mary J. Blige, Faith Evans, Sean Combs, The Notorious B.I.G., Usher, and other soul and rap artists. He died earlier this month at the age of 53.

This Week in History

Roosevelt Signs Social Security Act (August 14, 1935)

The Post was originally against federal and local relief programs, but in 1952 we finally came around.

Sports Illustrated Debuts (August 16, 1954)

The cover of the very first issue featured Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Eddie Matthews at bat versus the New York Giants.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Subscribe to the Post! (August 20, 1960)

Subscription ad from 1960

Whether it’s 1960 or 2021, it’s always a good time to subscribe!

Cold Things

Maybe I chose an ad that includes an ice cream illustration subconsciously, because the past two weeks here have been brutal. It’s been sticky, stuffy, stifling, soupy, and other words that sound like alternate Disney dwarfs. Temps in the 90s, dew points in the 70s, and me looking for cold things to eat and drink.

Like ice cream. I know I’ve highlighted ice cream earlier this summer, but indulge me. It will soon be Labor Day, and thoughts of ice cream will be in the rear view mirror, at least in this column.

Here’s a recipe for Homemade Avocado Ice Cream, and here’s one for Roasted Garlic Ice Cream with Raspberry Preserve Ribbon. Don’t have an ice cream maker to make those? Here are three ways to make ice cream without one.

If you’re looking for something cold that isn’t ice cream, Country Living has 40+ recipes for Popsicles. Of course, “Popsicle” is a registered trademark that has somehow become the generic term for treats like this (see also Band-Aids and Xerox), so it’s better if you use the term “ice pops.”

Need a cold drink? Martha Stewart has this Frappe Mocha. I don’t know what region of the country you live in, so you might want to read this Yankee article on the difference between a frappe and a milkshake. It’s a New England thing, even if you do sometimes see it used at Starbucks and McDonald’s.

In some areas of New England, a frappe is sometimes called a cabinet and includes coffee-flavored Autocrat syrup. Now that’s just confusing.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

World Senior Citizens Day (August 21)

I had to mention this day because I find myself pretty close to having to celebrate it.

National Dog Day (August 26)

If you own a dog, every single day is dog day.

Featured image: Vasin Lee / Shutterstock

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Comments

  1. Fantastic opening picture, Bob! The only time I ever see lightning is in pictures, still or motion. I agree with your first 7 paragraphs. That’s probably why I gave myself the gift of deep sleep all day Saturday. I have to have a safe way to shut myself down occasionally; simple as that.

    Thanks for The 3 Stooges link. It leads to a lot more, and I could use a daily dose of them, definitely.

    Not sure what the Washington Football Team should rename themselves. They could just stay with that. Don’t care for the ‘Red Hogs’ either.

    Apparently Mike Richards didn’t learn any lessons from Michael Richards bitter experience 15 years ago, even though this was much less severe. It was bad enough. Too bad. He seemed like a good choice until this surfaced.

    I love that clever ’60 Post advertisement to existing and potentially new advertisers then. Beautifully mid-century. And you’re right. It’s always a good time to subscribe or renew, add on, give new subscriptions, etc. Actually, I just did all 3 again, earlier this month.

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