News of the Week: The Return of Scott Kelly, the Departure of George Kennedy, and the Sadness of Never Dunking an Oreo

Meanwhile, an American Hero Returns to Earth

On the night everyone was trying to figure out which candidate was going to win which state, following Twitter jokes about Chris Christie, and watching pundits argue on cable news, something else was going on that maybe we should have paid more attention to.

Astronaut Scott Kelly returned to Earth on Super Tuesday after spending 340 consecutive days in space aboard the International Space Station, a record for an American. Kelly also holds the record for total number of days in space for an American: 520.

Kelly was the perfect choice for this experimental mission because scientists can now study the effect that so many days in space had on Kelly’s body by comparing it to a similar body that was down here on Earth the whole time: his twin brother Mark.

RIP George Kennedy

George Kennedy in 1975
By CBS Television (eBayfrontback) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Actor George Kennedy had a long, terrific career as an actor, in everything from The Andy Griffith Show and Cool Hand Luke to Charade and the Naked Gun films. I’ll best remember him as Joe Patroni, the crusty head mechanic who saved the day in Airport and several sequels. He was one of those actors who was good in everything he did. Kennedy passed away last Sunday in Boise, Idaho, at the age of 91.

Kennedy just missed making the “In Memoriam” segment of the Oscars that same night. Hopefully they won’t forget him next year, like they forgot Abe Vigoda in this year’s montage.

There are many great obituaries for Kennedy, and at least one that, well, has a rather insulting headline. I’m astonished they haven’t changed that.

By the way, it was reported this week that Jerry Maren, the last surviving Munchkin from The Wizard of Oz, had passed away at the age of 96. But he’s actually still alive. I guess you can’t believe everything on social media.

If You Have Harry Potter Books, You Might Be Rich!

It’s a safe bet that most homes have at least one copy of one of the many Harry Potter books. Go check, because they might be worth a lot of money.

Okay, the one you have probably isn’t, but rare books dealer AbeBooks says that some of the early edition hardcovers of the books can bring in anywhere from $6,500 to $55,000. If the books are signed they might be worth even more.

I bet J.K. Rowling has a lot of early editions. She should sell them!

Putting the “Fuller” in Fuller House

Fuller House logo
By Jeff Franklin Productions and Miller-Boyett ProductionsE! Online, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

I consume so much pop culture — TV, film, books, magazines, music, the web, etc. — that I often get exhausted. There’s so much pop culture these days that I’m sometimes actually relieved when a TV show I watch is canceled or when it’s one I have no interest in. Hey, don’t have to worry about that one anymore! Such is the case with Fuller House, the reboot of the ’90s sitcom Full House that recently debuted on Netflix and has already been renewed for a second season. I had no interest in the original, so I have no interest in the new version. It makes me happy that I don’t have to think about it.

But I did come across an odd piece of information about the new show. I assumed that the “Fuller” in the title was a play on the title of the original show, showing that this is a continuation of Full House and now it’s “Fuller.” And it does indeed mean that, but did you know that it also refers to the fact that the married name of one of the characters (DJ) is Fuller? I didn’t either.

This reminds me of the time years ago when I found out that the “Grey” in the title Grey’s Anatomy was actually the name of one of the characters on the show. I thought it just referred to the medical book. I got so many nasty comments because I didn’t know that.

So I’m assuming The Price is Right is about the life and career of Vincent Price?

Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad, Angry

What do you think of the new Facebook “Reactions” emoticon buttons? Besides the Like button that everyone uses, you now have a choice of several other buttons, too, for those special posts when a simple Like isn’t enough and you want to express your anger, sadness, shock, or unbridled joy. Facebook users have been asking for a Dislike button, too, but that would just cause more trouble than it’s worth.

Of course, if you think Facebook has introduced the new buttons just to please you, well, think again.

The Return of Zubaz Pants

I didn’t even realize they had been gone, but Zubaz (pronounced “Zubas”) pants are back! The baggy pants with the colorful stripes were big in the early ’90s.

I saw the new commercial for the pants last weekend. What the announcer says around the 52-second mark and how the actors look on the couch really amuses me:

I don’t know what you’re wearing as you read this, but I hope it’s not uncomfortable and boring.

National Oreo Day

I have a big confession to make. This isn’t easy for me to admit, so I hope you’ll be understanding when you hear it and won’t judge me for my shortcomings.

I have never dunked an Oreo in milk. I am 50 years old.

This Sunday is National Oreo Day. You can celebrate by twisting them open and licking them, dunking them, or just eating them by the handful, but how about a few recipes? The official Oreo site has several, including an Oreo milk shake, cheesecake bites, and a frozen Oreo torte. You can also try these Oreo cupcakes. And if you really want something different, how about Oreo popcorn?

Maybe I’ll celebrate the day by finally dunking one of those black and white discs in milk.

Upcoming Events and Anniversaries​

New York Stock Exchange founded (March 8, 1817)

In a 1914 article for The Saturday Evening Post, Will Payne explained why the start of World War I in Europe closed the New York Stock Exchange from July 31 to November 28, 1914 .

Bobby Fischer born (March 9, 1943)

The Atlantic has an interesting piece on how the chess champion’s life unraveled.

First Book-of-the-Month Club selection published (March 10, 1926)

The first book selected was Lolly Willowes, or The Loving Huntsman, by Sylvia Townsend Warner. The club is actually still around if you’d like to join.

Lawrence Welk born (March 11, 1903)

The Lawrence Welk Show was a staple in my home when I was a kid, and it had an amazing run, debuting in 1955 and ending in 1982.

Blizzard of 1888
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The Blizzard of 1888 hits the northeast (March 12, 1888)

The storm, also called The Great White Hurricane, dropped 40 to 50 inches of snow in many areas from Maine to the Mid-Atlantic coast. Many people were trapped in their homes for a week, and even railroads and telegraph services were disabled.

Jack Kerouac born (March 12, 1922)

He wrote the classic novel On the Road in only three weeks (and on one roll of paper).