As long-time readers know, on Fridays — like, you know, today — I do a week-in-review type of thing. Today, I’m going to dive really deep into two emails… but only for a brief second for each.
Every once in a while, I’ll throw an easter egg into a Now I Know. Usually, it’s a vague reference to something in pop culture that I don’t explicitly point out. I do this for two reasons: one, because I think they’re fun, and two, because I love to see if anyone notices.
This week, I buried one each in two different stories. One, a few of you picked up on. In Tuesday’s email about train troubles, I said that a train accident ended up “causing confusion and delay.” That’s a reference to the Thomas and Friends cartoon series; Sir Topham Hatt, the controller of the train line, uses the phrase to admonish the trans whenever they mess something up. Here’s a four-plus minute (!) compilation of him using the phrase; kudos if you can make it through the whole thing. (I stopped at about a minute and a half in.)
The second one, though, no one wrote in to tell me they found it. Oh well. That was on Monday; while talking about advances in technology, I referenced “space-age mechanisms using self-sealing stem bolts or something or other.” Self-sealing stem bolts don’t exist. They’re a running gag from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine that also gets a brief mention in Star Trek: Discovery.
Now, I’m guessing that at least a few of you caught the reference — I can’t be the only one who has watched DS9 more times than anyone should have — but alas, again, no one who noticed decided to email me about it. My big reason for pointing this out today is to ask you to let me know, in the future, if you see one of these easter eggs. It brings me joy to know I brought you some joy this way.
A caveat, though: most emails don’t have things like this in them. I don’t pre-plan them — as I write, sometimes they pop into my head, and I can’t help but sneak them in. So if you don’t see one in any given email, that’s probably because there isn’t one to see.
The Now I Know Week in Review
Monday: The Horse Hide: A fake horse replaces a real one. But why? War, of course!
Tuesday: Giving the Train a Slip: A gross reason for a minor train accident.
Thursday: The Best Reason for a Delayed Flight?: Thank you to everyone who wrote in with their own funny stories of flight delays.
And some other things you should check out:
Some long reads for the weekend.
1) “The Cult Next Door” (Chicago Mag, 20 minutes, June 2016). The subhead: “For decades, the people of Hinsdale gave little thought to the mysterious brick building in town. Then came a scandal.”
2) “What Happens When Sister Cities Break Up?” (Atlas Obscura, 8 minutes, February 2019). As the article notes, in late 2018, Osaka, Japan told San Francisco, California, that it didn’t want to be the latter’s sister city anymore. But what does that mean?
3) “Meet the Obsessive Role-Players Who Live Inside the World of Grand Theft Auto” (Narratively, 26 minutes, November 2021. The subhead: “Renegade developers co-opted this controversial video game’s source code to build a complex alternate universe where breaking character is the cardinal sin. Millions tune in to watch.”
Have a great weekend!