The Weekender, October 16, 2020


For new readers: On Fridays, I don’t send a fun fact and the story behind it. I share other things, often about the inner workings of the newsletter, but sometimes eclectic items like the story behind my grandmother’s baked ziti recipewhy Monopoly is not a good board game, or my dangerously close to fanfic essay on Albus Dumbledore’s true motivations in the Harry Potter series. (That last one uses an old format of the Weekender email; the full essay is here if you want to read it.) 

The common theme in that second group? It’s stuff I’ve not just thought about; it’s stuff I’ve thought a lot about. I’m overthinking it. I think that’s a useful trait (or flaw?) when it comes to writing the newsletter day in and day out, so I don’t mind the fact that I’m spending all these brain cycles on these intellectual pursuits into nowheresville. 

It’s hard, though, to figure out where the line is between “thinking about something” and “writing that story up and sharing it.” I had something longer written for today, but there was no great lesson, no insight into the newsletter, nothing of the sort. And honestly, it wasn’t anything special. It’s a good story, sure, but not great. It’s the type of story that would be borderline good in a memoir, but that’s not what Now I Know is or what it’s for.

And yet, I went back and forth about sharing it. I could have — it’s my newsletter, after all, and there really isn’t much anyone can do to stop me. But I’m a huge proponent of respecting my readers’ time and the sanctity of your email inboxes. If I’m going to share a random musing, it’ll be worth your time. That’s my promise.

The Now I Know Week in Review

Monday: When Christopher Columbus Made the Moon Disappear: Not a nice thing to do.

Tuesday: The Most Dangerous Pole Dance: A capture-the-flag-style competition found in some Japanese schools. 

WednesdayWhere the Cows Go: Petco. Really, they go to Petco.

ThursdayThe Greatest Soccer Player Who Never Was: He wasn’t a good soccer player, but he made a living as one anyway. From my most-recent book.

And some other things you should check out:

Some long reads for the weekend.

1) “He’d Waited Decades to Argue His Innocence. She Was a Judge Who Believed in Second Chances. Nobody Knew She Suffered from Alzheimer’s.” (Pro Publica, 54 minutes, October 2020). A warning: this one doesn’t have a happy ending. It doesn’t have much of an ending at all.

2) “The Mister Rogers No One Saw” (New York Times Magazine, 29 minutes, November 2019). Fred Rogers was a special man; here’s another piece of evidence to support that take. We need more Fred Rogers-types in this world, and we should all aspire to be that.

3) “The True Story Behind the Worst Video Game Ever Made” (Mel Magazine, 8 minutes, October 2020). I could have sworn I had shared this before, but I can’t see how as it’s only a few days old. Anyhoo, the game is E.T. for the Atari, made in 1982, and it’s so awful that it’s culturally relevant. Lesson learned: If you can’t make something good, make it historically bad. 

Have a great weekend!