News of the Week: The Batman, Space Cola, and Are You Ready for Pickleball?

In the news for the week ending February 25, 2022, are good music, sinful states, weird soda, Coke recipes, Tom Hanks and Elvis Presley, and more.

Astronaut eating a burger and drinking cola

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New Music

I talk about books, movies, and TV a lot here, but for some reason I don’t talk as much about new album releases. Let’s remedy that.

The Tipping Point by Tears for Fears. The duo responsible for such memorable ’80s hits as “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” “Change,” and “Shout” are back with their first album in 17 years.

The Batman: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Michael Giacchino. If you’re interested in the 27th reboot of the Batman story, you’ll probably be buying this album of music from the film, which opens on March 4.

Now That’s What I Call Music! Vol. 110. The first volume of these albums that showcase a mix of performers and styles was released in 1983. I had no idea they were still releasing these albums, and now they’re up to volume 110!

Country Stuff by Walker Hayes. You might not know the name, but you certainly know his popular song, which is included on this album.

Nina Simone Feeling Good: Her Greatest Hits and Remixes. Many of the legendary jazz singer’s classic songs are here, including “Feeling Good,” “My Baby Just Cares For Me,” “Strange Fruit,” “I Put a Spell on You,” and “Sinnerman.”

Coca-Cola Has a New Drink Inspired by Space (and Campfires)

What does space taste like? How about a campfire? One could argue that the latter might taste like ash or burning leaves, but how do you describe the taste of an endless void?

Coca-Cola is introducing a new soda called Starlight, and they describe it as being “inspired by space,” and that it has “notes reminiscent of stargazing around a campfire, as well as a cooling sensation that evokes the feeling of a cold journey into space.”

Wow, that’s a lot to ask of a soda. Does adding ice affect that at all?

I haven’t seen it on my supermarket shelves yet, but in the spirit of investigative journalism, I’ll report back when I try it.

It’s Like Tennis, Only with Pickles

I was watching the Tennis Channel on Tuesday when a promo for pickleball came up. That’s one of those things that I’ve heard of in an abstract way but I didn’t know exactly what it entailed. But now I do! Not just because of that Tennis Channel promo (pickleball is a lot like tennis but not quite) but also because The New York Times did a feature on it this past week.

It was invented in 1965 and has been fairly popular, just not mainstream, and certainly not “on TV” mainstream (also not “my spellcheck recognizes the word pickleball” mainstream). An estimated 4.8 million people play the game (even Matthew Perry from Friends!). Besides the Tennis Channel, ESPN, CBS Sports, and Fox Sports are going to start showing matches too. I wonder if there’s a Roger Federer of pickleball?

One of the tournaments is the Palm Springs Pickleball Classic. That might be the best name for a sports tournament I’ve ever heard.

The Most Sinful States

Time for another survey from the people at WalletHub. This one ranks the most sinful states. Before you click, can you guess what number one is? I bet you can.

It’s not Idaho. That’s the least sinful state in the union, apparently.


Elvis Presley performed in that most sinful state many times. Here’s the trailer for the new movie starring Tom Hanks, which comes out in June. (No, he doesn’t play Elvis.)

Uploaded to YouTube by

RIP Sally Kellerman, Bob Beckel, The Amazing Johnathan, Gary Brooker, Sandy Nelson, Frank Pesce, Beverly Ross, Mel Keefer, Tom Veitch, and Gail Halvorsen

Sally Kellerman played Hot Lips Houlihan in the movie version of M*A*S*H. She also appeared in Back to School, The Boston Strangler, The Player, and Lost Horizon, as well as TV shows like Star Trek, Columbo, The Outer Limits, I Spy, Centennial, and The Young & the Restless. She died Thursday at the age of 84.

Bob Beckel was a former co-host of the Fox News show The Five and a columnist for USA Today. He was Walter Mondale’s campaign manager for the 1984 presidential race and a deputy assistant secretary of state in the Carter administration. He died this week at the age of 73.

The Amazing Johnathan – real name John Edward Szeles – was a comic and magician who appeared regularly on Comedy Central and performed in Las Vegas. He died Tuesday at the age of 63.

Gary Brooker was the lead singer of Procol Harum, known for the classic song “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” He died last week at the age of 76.

Sandy Nelson played drums on such songs as “Ally-Oop” and “To Know Him Is to Love Him.” He had several instrumental hits, and the song he did with The Renegades, “Geronimo,” was used in the film Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow. He died last week at the age of 83.

Frank Pesce was a character actor who appeared in such films as the Beverly Hills Cop series, 29th Street, and Top Gun, as well as TV shows like Karen Sisco and Miami Vice. He died earlier this month at the age of 75.

Beverly Ross was a songwriter who co-wrote such songs as “Lollipop” and “Dim, Dim the Lights (I Want Some Atmosphere).” She died last month at the age of 87.

Mel Keefer was an artist who worked on an amazing array of comic strips, including Zorro, Perry Mason, Thorne McBride, Mac Divot, and Willis Barton M.D. He also worked on the TV shows Jonny Quest, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Groovie Goolies, and did the comic strips seen in the Glenn Ford movie How to Murder Your Wife. He died earlier this month at the age of 95.

Tom Veitch was an artist too. He helped continue the Star Wars saga after Return of the Jedi with the Dark Empire comic series. He died last week at the age of 80.

Gail Halvorsen was known as “The Candy Bomber,” dropping candy and chocolate to the kids in West Berlin during the Berlin Airlift. He died last week at the age of 101.

This Week in History

John Glenn Becomes First American to Orbit Earth (February 20, 1962)

The 60th anniversary is being marked by a new book, Apollo Remastered, that shows the mission in incredible detail.

First Woolworth’s Opens (February 22, 1879)

The first store in the five-and-dime chain opened in Utica, New York. I still miss the one we had in my town when I was a kid. The building is still there though, and you can tell what it used to be.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Coca-Cola Ad (February 21, 1925)

February 21, 1925

The “The Pause That Refreshes” slogan didn’t debut until 1929. Here’s a list of other slogans the company has used over the years. I had no idea that the current one is “Real Magic.” It’s not the same.

Things Go Better with Coke

I don’t think the Coca-Cola company markets their drink as being good in recipes as much as they should. For decades people have been making appetizers, main courses, and desserts using the soft drink. Here are a few you can try. (Note: I have no idea if the new Starlight drink will work with these, so I’d stick to Coke Classic.)

Insanely Good Recipes has the instructions on how to make the Cracker Barrel Coca-Cola Cake, while Taste of Home has a recipe for Cola Burgers. Spend With Pennies has Coca-Cola Chicken, Delish has Slow Cooker Coca-Cola BBQ Beans, and Aimee Broussard has a recipe for Pulled Pork Skillet Nachos that includes Coke.

If you want to be contrarian and a little daring, you can wash these down with Pepsi.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Mardi Gras (March 1)

I knew it was also called Fat Tuesday and Shrove Tuesday, but … Pancake Tuesday?

National Anthem Day (March 3)

It’s March 3 because on that date in 1931, President Hoover signed the law making “The Star-Spangled Banner” the national anthem of the United States.

Featured image: Shutterstock

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  1. Wow Bob, your column really is loaded this week. I’d heard about the new Tears for Fears album earlier this week, and will check it out further. Thanks for Jane Pauley’s feature. Musically they always fell into a category of ‘like’ instead of ‘love’ for me. They had all the hallmarks of the 80’s sound, but didn’t love them across the board as with so many others. I’m glad they’ve come together again, and wish them wonderful success on their new tour!

    I got my 2nd Post issue of 2022 AGAIN on a Saturday, and my first taste of Coke’s new ‘Starlight’ within the same hour! I looked up where to buy online, and found it at my West Hills Ralph’s market. Ten 7.5 oz cans; 2 for $11. I bought the 2 pack. This was shortly after picking up my dry cleaning (where I had to wait awhile) located next to a pot dispensary. After getting it cold, I agree with the YouTuber who detected a minuscule chocolate and graham cracker taste. Couldn’t be specific though. The ‘taste of outer space’ when you’re semi-high yourself? Absolutely.

    The ‘Elvis’ trailer looks really good. A summer release that doesn’t look like everything else, every summer??! Unbelievable. Great artwork in the 1925 Coca-Cola ad. I clicked the link for the slogans. Interesting. They incorporated the 1941 slogan ‘Coca-Cola is Coke’ at the end of the 1969 (and early ’70s) ‘It’s the Real Thing’ TV ads. The last ones with any real distinction were the ‘Always Coca-Cola’ (polar bear) ads of the 90’s. No surprise there.


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