Thursday, December 20, 2001        Edition: #2201
I Have An Irregular Heartbeat Pa-Rum-Pum-Pum-Pum

Buying gifts for kids? You could do worse than selecting from . . .
10. Hot Wheels
9. Slinky
8. Lincoln Logs
7. Frisbee
6. Erector Set
5. Play-Doh
4. Lionel Trains
3. Barbie
2. Crayons
1. Yo-Yo
(Source: A&E Television/Toy Manufacturers Of America)

Here’s a staggering number — “Lord of the Rings” opened in 10,000 theaters around-the-world . . . Film extra Nathan Crombie, who plays an ‘Orc’ in “Lord Of The Rings”, claims he and a group of fellow actors were high EVERY DAY on ultra-strong grass called ‘Thunderweed’ while the movie was being shot (if you ask us, Tolkien musta been on something when he wrote the damn thing) . . . With “Potter” and now “Rings”, not surprisingly Hollywood is expecting 2001 to be a record-breaking year at the box office . . . Just out-of-rehab Paula Poundstone is back on the comedy circuit doing stand-up (she and Pee-wee Herman oughta work up an act – hide your daughters, it’s the ‘Perv Pair’!).

Like we need this — a bigscreen version of the ’70s TV show “The Six Million Dollar Man” is in the works, but nobody’s signed on to play the lead role yet (no major star would take a paltry $6 million) . . . Looks like Tom Hanks will star in “Comrade Rockstar”, the true story of little-known rocker Dean Reed, who was a mega-star in the Soviet Union in the ‘60s and died mysteriously in 1986 . . . Rick Yune, who co-starred in the surprise hit “The Fast and the Furious” is the lead villain for the untitled 20th ‘James Bond’ film, playing a North Korean general who develops ‘face-changing technology’ (well duh, women have been using it for years) . . . Speaking of “The Fast and the Furious”, a sequel is in the works and the original cast, including Vin Diesel, expected to return for another go-around . . . And oh, remember just after 9/11 when Bruce Willis said his days as an ‘action hero’ were over? Well, he lied — he’ll play the leader of a Special Forces unit in “Man of War”, an action thriller about civil war in an African country.

Etiquette maven Marjabelle Young Stewart has released her annual list of the ‘Most Polite Cities in the US’ and at the top of this year’s list is perennial winner Charleston SC. But in a surprise, tied for #1 is – New York. (What, muggers are now saying, “Give me your wallet — PLEASE”? Which is Canada’s most polite city? Least?)

A store Santa at London’s famous Harrod’s department store has been fired for posing for a photo wearing nothing but his boots! The picture was taken as a prank after-hours. The woman who took it was also fired for ‘unacceptable behavior’. (I have a copy of it here — wow, in the background the elves are looking REALLY nervous!)

Famed physicist Steven Hawkings says he now believes that someday we’ll be able to travel back in time. (In fact, it’s expected to be possible as soon as Afghanistan is opened up for tourism again.)

One of Asia’s most popular golf destinations, Thailand, has announced plans to build an upmarket golfing paradise along its border with Laos and Cambodia. One small problem — the entire area to be developed is currently infested with land mines. (Talk about your ‘hazards’!)  

A 24-year-old businesswoman’s attempt to auction herself off as a wife is back online. Bids for Kay Hammond’s hand in marriage reached $14 million before eBay pulled the plug. But the Birmingham, England Internet entrepreneur has now revived the auction at European auction site The bidding closes DECEMBER 24 and by then, she says, she’s convinced she’ll find herself a husband. (I tried auctioning myself off and the bidding only got to $1.98 – and that was with a ‘Harry Potter Spells and Potions Kit’ thrown in!)

The United Nations meteorological agency is predicting Earth’s overall temperature for 2001 will be the 2nd-highest since global records began 140 years ago. (Part of the phenomenon is attributed to the Britney Spears video.)

Actual products that are on the market this holiday season –
• ‘The Handy Truster’ – a portable hand-held lie detector that boasts 82% accuracy. Perfect for the singles bar — “So are you married?” (That’s cool, ‘cause I only lie 18% of the time.)
• ‘The Emergency Hammer’ – in case of a vehicle accident, it features a steel tip to shatter windows, a razor-sharp knife to slice through seat belts and a built-in rescue beacon. Just your luck — when you need it, you’ll remember you put it in the trunk. (Also comes with handy toenail clippers.)
• ‘High-Heeled Handbags’ – old shoes turned into a fashionable purse, inspired by TV’s “Sex and the City”. (But could you make stylish shoes out of old purses?)
• ‘The Telezapper’ – a little gizmo that attaches to your phone and tells the dialing computers that telemarketers use that your number has been disconnected. (It’s more fun toying with their heads.)
• ‘The Bra Gun Holster’ – a bra designed to hold a .38-caliber revolver and a can of pepper spray. (Actually it’s a 38-D revolver.)
• ‘Bellybutton Lights’ – a flashing neon light that sticks in the navel with an adhesive. They’ve already sold more than 2 million of these little lint lights. (For an extra 5 bucks you can have it go BEEP BEEP BEEP! when you back up.)


1946 [55] John Spencer (Speshock), NYC, TV actor (Chief of Staff Leo McGarry-“The West Wing”)

1954 [47] Michael Badalucco, TV actor (Jimmy Berluti-“The Practice”)

1959 [42] Scott Goodyear, Toronto ON, Indy Car racing driver who fractured a bone in his lower back in this year’s Indianapolis 500

1966 [35] Chris Robinson, Atlanta GA, rock singer (Black Crowes-“Hard to Handle”, “She Talks With Angels”)

1970 [31] Travis Green, Castlegar BC, NHL center (Toronto Maple Leafs)

TODAY is “Games Day”. The best-selling board game of all time? ‘Monopoly’, with over 200 million games sold in 80 countries and in 26 languages since 1935. This holiday season’s top-selling board games (destined to be in garage sales by next summer) include: “Harry Potter Levitating Challenge Game”, “Harry Potter Mystery At Hogwarts Board Game”, “Wheels On The Bus Board Game”, “Buffy The Vampire Slayer Board Game”, and “Life: Monsters Inc”. ‘Myst’ holds the title for top-selling computer game of all time, having sold some 6 million copies worldwide since its inception in 1994. With the release of GameCube and Xbox, that may change in the next few years.

10 YEARS AGO . . .
1991 NHL grants franchise to Ottawa Senators

5 YEARS AGO . . .
1996 “Scream” opens in movie theaters and scares up big box office (and 2 sequels)

1879 [122] 1st demonstration of ‘incandescent light bulb’ by Thomas Edison (Christmas tree lights developed just 3 years later by Edison’s assistant Edward Johnson)

1842 [159] 1st ‘in-home bathtub’ in America unveiled at Adam Thompson’s house party in Virginia

1980 [21] 1st (and only) NFL telecast with NO announcers (as a stunt, NBC uses only sounds and graphics for meaningless Jets-Dolphins game)

1911 [90] 1st ‘artificial ice rink’ (Frank Patrick-Vancouver)

1919 [82] Canadian National Railway (CNR) is established

1928 [73] 1st international ‘dogsled mail’ leaves Minot ME for Montréal

1979 [22] “Trivial Pursuit” is invented by Montréal journalists Chris Haney and Scott Abbott to settle an argument over who’s the better board game player (patented December 10, 1981 and generates $1 billion in sales in 1984 alone)

[Fri] 1st day of Winter
[Fri] Underdog Day
[Fri] Look At The Bright Side Day
[Fri] National Flashlight Day
[Fri] Humbug Day
[Dec 24] National Egg Nog Day
[Dec 25] A’ Phabet Day (as in No ‘L’)
[Dec 26] National Whiners Day
Tell Someone They’re Doing a Good Job Week
Write to a Friend Month (tell them all the exciting things your family’s been doing all year)


Q: Which is NOT another name for Santa Claus somewhere in the world?
a) Papa Noel
b) Grandfather Frost
c) Father North
A: Father North. Santa is known as ‘Papa Noel’ in Peru and Brazil, while Russians refer to the big guy as ‘Grandfather Frost’.

Q: Two of the ‘Three Kings’ were Gaspar and Melchior. Who was the 3rd?
a) Alamancor
b) Balthasar
c) Ralph
A: Balthasar.

Q: In what country did the real St Nicholas live?
a) Sweden
b) Lithuania
c) Turkey
A: He was bishop of the Turkish town of Myra in the early 4th century.

Q: What is the best-selling Christmas single of all time?
a) “White Christmas”
b) “Jingle Bell Rock”
c) “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)”
A: Bing Crosby crooned “White Christmas” to the top.

Q: In Tchaikovsky’s holiday season ballet “The Nutcracker”, who is the nutcracker’s main enemy?
a) The King of the Mice
b) The Toy Soldiers
c) Mr Peanut
A: The King of the Mice.

Every age is modern to those living in it.

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