News of the Week: X-Files, Q-Tips, and the ABCs of Sending a Telegram

The Return of The X-Files

The new X-Files has aired two episodes so far. The first episode was rather clunky (all that exposition!), but it set up the six-episode continuation rather nicely, and the second episode got things back on track in a big way. So far, the show is getting mixed reviews, but the ratings have been so good I bet we’ll see another season when these six episodes are over.

I’m more worried about the changes they’re making to the plot of the original show. I won’t give away any spoilers here, but it seems like they’re saying, “Hey, remember all the alien stuff that happened in those nine seasons? Well, it wasn’t what you think.” It’s been a while since I watched the old episodes, so maybe they’re not tweaking history as much as I think they might be, but if they are, it could drive X-Files purists crazy.

Q-Tips: The Weirdest Product?

Marie C Fields/Shutterstock

Orson Bean once said in a classic commercial for Q-Tips (video would go here but for some reason it’s one of the few things no one has yet uploaded to YouTube), “Never stick anything inside your ear. Except your elbow.”

I thought of that ad when reading this piece over at The Washington Post about the little sticks with cotton on the end of them. The angle of the piece is that Q-Tips are the most bizarre thing that we buy because we buy it to use in the exact way that the company tells us not to use it, to clean our ears.

I use them for my ears, but I don’t put them inside. They’re to clean the outside, and they’re perfectly shaped for that purpose. I don’t know what else I’d use them for. I don’t wear makeup or put models together, so they have one use for me. I guess they could be handy to clean the crumbs that fall in between the keys of your computer keyboard.

Abe Vigoda Is (Really) Dead

In 1982, People ran an article that called Abe Vigoda “the late Abe Vigoda”. It seems that ever since then, people have been wondering if the Barney Miller actor was really dead or not. It helped that he seemed to live forever and ever while other celebrities passed away. It even became a running joke on David Letterman’s show and later a Web meme.

But the site created to keep track of whether Vigoda was alive or dead took an unpleasant turn this week when Vigoda actually passed away at the age of 94. The site went from clever and whimsical to unfortunate, as it put two Xs over Vigoda’s eyes to show that he was gone (as if simply posting his birth and death dates ’wouldn’t have been enough).

Vigoda got his big success rather late in life, appearing in his first film, The Godfather, at the age of 50. But he had been a stage and TV actor for many, many years before that. Here, courtesy of MediaReborn, is a live commercial he did in 1951 with Jimmy Durante:

[via AdWeek]

Taste the Feeling

First question: Did you know Coke has a new slogan? It’s “Taste the Feeling”. Second question: Do you know what Coke’s old slogan was, the one they’ve been using since 2009? Apparently it was “Open Happiness,” though if you’re like me, you don’t even remember it. I guess when people don’t remember your slogan, it really is time to change it.

Coke has been facing declining sales the past few years. Maybe it’s time to go back to an older slogan:

Facebook “Friends” Aren’t Your Real Friends

People always say that one of the great things about Facebook is that you can keep in touch with friends you haven’t seen in a long time. But maybe there’s a reason you haven’t seen those people for so long. If you wanted to keep in touch, wouldn’t you keep in touch? We’ve had things like email and texting and phones for a number of years now, and even without Facebook, there are ways to see people’s photos online.

I thought of this while reading about a new study from Oxford University that says that for every 150 friends you have on Facebook, only 14 of them would really care about you in real life. And out of those 14, only 5 are truly close friends.

It’s like that old piece of wisdom I think I first heard on an episode of Stingray back in the mid-’80’s: Your real friends are the ones that will come over on a Sunday and help you clean out the garage.

Facebook has made it too easy to “Like” something, to click a button and be a “friend” to someone. Real friendship takes a little more effort.

Can You Still Send a Telegram in 2016?

I. Pilon/Shutterstock

Before Facebook and the Web, people sent telegrams. I never did, and I don’t think many of my friends or family did either, but it was once a quick way to send a message to someone many states away. They were usually short, choppy messages, with the word STOP scattered throughout to denote the end of a sentence or idea, and using a lot of abbreviations (no emojis though).

But Western Union got rid of that service in 2006 (though you can still send money via the company). Is it still possible to send a telegram in 2016? Adrienne LaFrance wanted to find out, so she tried a few companies that promise to send telegrams and wrote about it.

Yes, you can still send telegrams in 2016, but the results are mixed at best. And the whole process probably seems a bit antiquated in this age of quick emails and texting. But if you wanted to participate in a bit of nostalgia, you might want to try it (though be prepared to spend $20–$30 and wait a few days for it to get to its destination). You should read the comments, too, as one of the companies that LaFrance tried actually responded to her.

Miley Cyrus to Star in Woody Allen’s New Series, for Some Reason

Maybe it was her stunning work as Hannah Montana, or maybe it was the way she stuck out her tongue all those times at the MTV Music Video Awards, but Woody Allen saw something in Miley Cyrus that made him cast her as one of the stars of his new Amazon streaming series.

No word yet on what the series is titled or what it’s about, only that it’s set in the 1960s and will run for six half-hour episodes. Cyrus will costar in the show with Allen and Elaine May.

But that’s not the oddest casting news of the week. In what could be the worst timing of any casting-related news in quite some time, this week it was announced that white, British actor Joseph Fiennes will be playing Michael Jackson in a new comedy, “Elizabeth, Michael, and Marlon”. It’s about a cross-country road trip that Jackson (supposedly) took with Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando after the 9/11 attacks. Stockard Channing will play Taylor and Brian Cox will play Brando.

Yes, a comedy about a 9/11 road trip starring Joseph Fiennes as Michael Jackson. It’s only January, but that might be the weirdest pop culture sentence of the year.

Today Is National Corn Chip Day

AS Food studio/Shutterstock

If you really, really want to make corn chips from scratch, you can follow this recipe from It looks pretty easy, but I think most of us just buy corn chips at the store, because it’s the meal we have them with that’s important, right?

Like chili. Food-wise, chili is “America’s Super Bowl.” Here are several chili recipes, three different versions from Emeril Lagasse and one from international chili champion Jason Goins.

Maybe you can make one of those versions of America’s Super Bowl while watching America’s Super Bowl, which is on CBS next Sunday.

Upcoming Events and Anniversaries

American Heart Month

Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women, responsible for one out of every four deaths.

Black History Month

The annual event started as Negro History Week in 1926 and became Black History Month in 1976.

Zane Grey born (January 31, 1872)

Zane Grey’s West Society was created to preserve and promote the works of the great American writer.

Norman Mailer born (January 31, 1923)

The controversial writer once said, “Writing books is the closest men ever come to childbearing.”

By Closed circuit security camera [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Patty Hearst kidnapped (February 4, 1974)

The granddaughter of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army.

Ronald Reagan born (February 6, 1911)

You can read more about the former actor and 40th President of the United States at the official site of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library.

Of Mice and Men published (February 6, 1937)

​John Steinbeck was one of the many great American authors to have written for The Saturday Evening Post.​