News of the Week: New Books, Star Trek Conventions, and the Dangerous World of Office Cake

In the news for the week ending January 20, 2023, are good books, bad cake, bewildering Oscar nominations, and more.


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Read This!

Here are six new books to help you get through the rest of the winter (that’s one book for every week if the groundhog sees his shadow).

  • Still Pictures: On Photography and Memory by Janet Malcolm. The New Yorker and New York Review of Books writer, who died in 2021, wrote a memoir, enhanced by photos, that traces her childhood in Prague to publishing success to her infamous libel trial.
  • Life on Delay: Making Peace with a Stutter by John Hendrickson. This memoir details the Atlantic senior editor’s lifelong struggle to speak.
  • Everybody Knows by Jordan Harper. This new thriller has gotten some great reviews from some famous authors, including Michael Connelly and James Patterson. It’s a modern noir about a high-powered Los Angeles PR specialist who investigates the murder of her boss.
  • The World Famous Beaverpedia by Brian Humek. Are you a Leave It to Beaver fan? This might be the ultimate guide to every episode of the series.
  • Saving Time: Discovering a Life Beyond the Clock by Jenny Odell. The author of the popular book How to Be Alone, which told us how to disconnect from our devices and the “attention economy,” explains how the clock we all live by might not be suited for us after all.
  • One: Simple One-Pan Wonders by Jamie Oliver. The title says it all, as the celebrated chef shows you how to make more than 120 great meals in one pan so you don’t have to wash as many dishes.

The Oscars Are a Mystery to Me Now

I’ve never seen all of the movies that are nominated for Best Picture every year, but there was a time when I at least had heard of all of the nominees. I mean, what exactly is Triangle of Sadness?

That’s one of the nominees for the top Oscar this year. They pick 10 films now, so it’s a mix of popular movies and more artsy ones. So you get Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water, but you also get Tár and Women Talking.

Who was snubbed this year? Tom Cruise, Margot Robbie, Taylor Swift, Will Smith, and a documentary about David Bowie.

Eating Cake at the Office Is the New Smoking

Now they’re coming after our cake.

Well, at least they’re coming for it in England. Officials say that cake is unhealthy and should be discouraged from being brought into the office for snacks, office get-togethers, and retirement/get-well parties.

The chair of the U.K. Food Standards Agency says that such unhealthy choices can be as bad as passive smoking, which is an actual thing the chair of the U.K. Food Standards Agency said.

Maybe she’s right. After all, we’ve all heard about the terrible effects of second-hand cake.


I was a big fan of Raymond Chandler even before I found out he was published in the Post, so I’m excited by this film based on his Philip Marlowe character (and the Benjamin Black novel The Black-Eyed Blonde). Though Liam Neeson’s Irish accent is coming through, and it seems like there’s way too much action, as if they added a touch of Neeson’s Taken films, I’ll still see it.

RIP Jonathan Raban, Rosi Mittermaier, Chris Ford, Bruce Gowers, Lloyd Morrisett, Ginny Redington Dawes, Jean Veloz, Sal Bando, Yoshio Yoda, Marion Meade, and Gwen Knapp

Jonathan Raban was an acclaimed travel writer and novelist. He died last week at the age of 80.

Rosi Mittermaier won two Olympic gold medals, one silver medal, and the Alpine Ski World Cup in 1976. She died earlier this month at the age of 72.

Chris Ford was a player and head coach for the Boston Celtics and was the first player to sink a three-point shot. He died last week at the age of 74.

Bruce Gowers directed not only the first nine seasons of American Idol and many award shows, but also hundreds of music videos, including Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Prince’s “1999,” and “The Heart of Rock and Roll” by Huey Lewis and the News. He died Sunday at the age of 82.

Lloyd Morrisett co-created Sesame Street. He died this week at the age of 93.

Ginny Redington Dawes wrote many commercial jingles you know, including Coke’s “Coke Is It,” American Airlines’ ”Something Special in the Air,” and “You, You’re the One” for McDonald’s, as well as songs for such brands as Tide, Hartz, and Johnson’s Baby Powder. She died last month at the age of 77.

Jean Veloz was a dancer and actress who appeared in several musicals in the 1930s and 1940s. She died Sunday at the age of 98.

Sal Bando was the captain of the Oakland A’s and helped them win three World Series. He died last week at the age of 78.

Yoshio Yoda played Fuji on McHale’s Navy. He died earlier this month at the age of 88.

Marion Meade wrote biographies on such people as Dorothy Parker, Woody Allen, and Buster Keaton. She died last month at the age of 88.

Gwen Knapp was a sportswriter and reporter who worked for The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The San Francisco Chronicle. She died last week at the age of 61.

This Week in History

First American Novel Published (January 21, 1789)

It’s pretty much agreed upon that the first novel published in the United States was the epistolary novel The Power of Sympathy: Or, the Triumph of Nature by William Hill Brown.

First Star Trek Convention (January 21, 1972)

The first official meeting of nerds … I mean “Star Trek aficionados” … was held at the Statler Hilton in New York City. Now it’s a massive annual show held in Las Vegas.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Betty Crocker Cakes (January 24, 1953)

Suddenly, I really want some cake.

Today Is National Chocolate Cake Day

Betty Crocker does indeed have some fantastic recipes using their cake mixes at their site, and they’ll always be my first choice if I were going to make a cake.

But if you want to try making one from scratch, how about this Deep Dark Chocolate Cake? Or how about these really small Chocolate Cakes from the April 15, 1865, issue of the Post? Martha Stewart has a One-Bowl Chocolate Cake, and Ina Garten has a Beatty’s Chocolate Cake, which reviewers rave about. (And if you’re wondering, this is who the cake is named after.)

Note: This is a U.S. food holiday, but if Brits want to make one that’s fine. Just know that if you take it into your office you do so at your own risk.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Australian Open Finals (January 28-29)

Set your alarms! The women’s final airs Saturday morning at 3:30 a.m. on ESPN, and the men’s finals are at the same time and place on Sunday morning.

NFL Playoffs (January 29)

At 3 p.m., Fox will have the San Francisco 49ers vs. the Philadelphia Eagles. At 6:30 p.m., CBS and Paramount+ will have the Cincinnati Bengals vs. the Kansas City Chiefs.

Groundhog Day (February 2)

Will Punxsutawney Phil see his shadow, which will mean six more weeks of winter? It’s all based on science.

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  1. Some interesting books here, to be sure. ‘Saving Time: Discovering a Life Beyond the Clock’ sounds particularly good. I’m presently reading ‘LOOK: How A Highly Influential Magazine Helped Define Mid-Twentieth Century America’ that came out in late 2021 on the 50th anniversary of the 1937-’71 magazine’s folding, from a post-January 6th 2021 perspective.

    Don’t worry about the Academy Awards in any way. It’s a low-rated freak show its few viewers will only be tuning in for is something even worse to happen up on stage. A re-enactment of Alec Baldwin’s event of little over a year ago, perhaps? Will Smith snubbed?! What a no-shock considering he’s been banned from it for 10 years. Of course, the show itself should be long gone by then. The recent Golden Globes had such poor ratings NBC wants to dump it. We’ll see.

    Networks aren’t in the business to have to give prosperous advertisers fire sale (ad) rates, which they’ve been doing, but probably not for much longer. ‘Marlowe’ actually looks like a good film. Of course there was that obligatory pyro scene, hopefully that’s it. Looks like it’s set in the overlooked Thirties which I find intriguing, plus it has Jessica Lange; always a favorite!

    Eating cake at the office is the new smoking? Let them eat cake.

    Nice 1953 Betty Crocker cake ad, even though my favorite isn’t there; chocolate cake with white/vanilla frosting. I had fun as a kid making Crocker and Duncan Hines cakes with my mom. The frosting too. Melted butter to the right consistency added to the the powdered sugar. The cake mix with the electric mixer, and the frosting by hand in a separate bowl.

    Today’s parents would be all upset: “How could you let your little boy lick the beaters or scrape the bowl after putting the mix in the pans?!! OMG! There were RAW EGGS in that mix! What a terrible mother! Using powdered sugar and not Splenda for the frosting?! I’m calling 911 immediately with my weaponized cell phone to have you retroactively arrested! Oh I am, and you can’t stop me!!”


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