Wednesday, December 20, 2006        Edition: #3434
Don’t Forget to Renew Your Subscription or You’ll Be Sheet Outta Luck!

Word out of Hollywood suggests that the 2007 “Academy Awards” (FEBRUARY 25th) will NOT include the lavish gift baskets worth upwards of $100,000 that have been presented to stars in previous years, perhaps in response to an IRS announcement that it will send tax forms to all those who receive the freebies (if true, the ‘Best Movie’ award will likely be presented by someone like Michael Richards) . . . After reportedly making bids to appear on Kiefer Sutherland’s hit TV series “24” (FOX), both Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston have been turned down, apparently because producers think they’re simply too recognizable (plus acting their way out of a paper bag might be required) . . . “American Idol 2“ winner Ruben Studdard, who has dropped more than 100 lbs since starting a diet LAST SUMMER, has agreed to serve as an ‘inspiration coach’ for the overweight in his home state of Alabama, asking them to lose 10 lbs over 8 weeks (well, you sure picked the perfect time of year for this idea) . . . Actress Christina Ricci (“Monster”) has bowed to PETA pressure and agreed not to wear fur in the future after being named to the group’s ‘Worst-Dressed List’ for her previous preference for critter couture (her top fan site shutting down as a protest likely had lots to do with the decision) . . . And Oprah Winfrey has been voted ‘Best Celebrity Dog Owner’ in an online poll by “New York Dog” and “Hollywood Dog” magazines (Stedman Graham is straining on his leash in protest).

• Beyoncé – TODAY she flogs her new movie “Dreamgirls” on “Live With Regis & Kelly” (syndicated/CTV).
• 50 Cent – His insurance company is refusing to cover a $10-million damage suit stemming from a brawl that broke out during a Washington DC radio interview LAST YEAR. Apparently it’s been ruled an act of G-Unit.
• *NSYNC – Joey Fatone has expressed interest in participating in the next season of “Dancing with the Stars”. Understandable, it’s the only hope he’d ever have of touring again.
• OK Go – TONIGHT they perform on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (ABC).
• Xzibit – TONIGHT he appears on “Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson” (CBS).

“Rocky Balboa” ( Sports Drama ): 60-year-old Sylvester Stallone is back with a 6th and final instalment to his “Rocky” series, playing ‘Rocky Balboa’ as a 50-something widower who’s retired from the ring and running a small restaurant in Philadelphia. But when an opportunity arises to face the world heavyweight boxing champion, ‘Mason [The Line] Dixon’ (Antonio Tarver), ‘Rocky’ feels the need to fight once more. Along with Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young and Tony Burton appear in all 6 “Rocky” films. Shot in Philly, Vegas and LA.

• In Brazil, a small-town mayor has decided to create the happiest senior citizens on Earth with a new program that hands out free Viagra to elderly residents. But to prevent a sharp increase in extra-marital affairs, the policy is to give it to the town’s women, who can dole it out to their husbands whenever they want some action.
• In Scotland, more than 5,000 Scottish soldiers are being forced to share kilts because the military has yet to finalize a contract to buy enough to go around. Scot combat troops wore the traditional Highland garb in battle as late as World War I, but now plaid kilts are used only as ceremonial uniforms. There are currently just 320 kilts, or 1 for every 15 soldiers. It must get crowded under there!
• In Qatar, a 25-year-old Indian athlete who won silver in the women’s 800 meter race at the “Asian Games” has been stripped of her medal because … she is a he. Santhi Soundararajan failed a gender test conducted by a team of doctors, including a gynaecologist, endocrinologist and psychologist.

New cutting-edge vocab …
• ‘Glurge’ – Those sickeningly sweet and supposedly heartwarming stories that circulate online and through e-mail as friends send them to friends as ‘inspiration’.
• ‘Nutnappers’ – Nickname for the thieves who have stolen container-sized loads of almonds in California THIS YEAR. Large-scale agricultural thefts have become epidemic in the state.
• ‘Synesthesia’ – A rare condition in which the brain links 2 or more of the senses. For instance, an alphabetical letter might be associated with a color (‘a’ with red); or a word may recall a particular taste (one synesthetic claims ‘castanet’ tastes like tuna). It’s now thought that all of us possess this phenomenon to a certain extent.

Low-stress gift-shopping tips for those who’ve waited far too late …
• Go Online Shopping – But do it TODAY as this is the deadline for many online retailers to guarantee delivery by Christmas Day using ‘2-day shipping’.
• Buy Gift Cards – From the drugstore to the electronics store to the coffee shop, everybody is offers them these days. But be sure to read the fine print before you buy … some have expiration dates.
• Send Electronic Gift Certificates – You can purchase an online gift certificate that gets sent out via e-mail. Just hope your recipient won’t mistake it for spam and delete it.
• Shop December 24th – All the organized types will be finished their shopping and mall traffic will be relatively thinner.
• Think Food & Drinks – Consider indulging your loved ones in booze or gourmet food splurges that they might not buy for themselves.
• Magazine Subscriptions – Buy a current issue of the magazine you choose, wrap it up so it looks fancy, and include a hand-written note letting the recipient know there are 12 more issues on the way.
• The Gift of Yourself – Create ‘coupons’ for services you can provide in the weeks to come, ie: dinner; babysitting; pet-care; painting or other handyman services. Cash-strapped kids have been making these for years.
• Donate to a Charity in Someone Else’s Name – Find a worthy cause online, then include details of the donation in your holiday greeting card. (Which you’ll now have to hand-deliver, you last-minute loser.)

Smart-aleck St Nicks are becoming increasingly popular at seasonal parties and retail outlets as many adults seem to prefer a Santa who’s more naughty than nice. The 2003 movie “Bad Santa” starring Billy Bob Thornton first sparked interest in the concept; and now so-called ‘Bad Santas’ can earn up to $200-an-hour for ill-behaved, edgy performances in which they might sing or tell jokes that are sometimes a tad off-color. As well as the traditional costume, a typical Bad Santa may also wear sunglasses, be accompanied by a female hottie, and may even sit on his employers’ laps telling them what HE wants for Christmas. (For an extra 50, you can even get North Pole dancing tossed in.)
– “Rocky Mountain News”

Highlights of a new Office Team poll on executive vacations …
• 50% of Canadian executives say they attend to work at least a few times a week while on vacation.
• 21% of Canadian execs say they never work during vacations, compared to 54% of their employees.
• 13% of top management works every day during vacations, compared to just 10% of workers.
• 75% of US executives say they attend to work at least a few times a week while on vacation.
• 33% of top management works every day during vacations, compared to just 10% of workers.
• Just 4% of American execs say they never work during vacations, compared to 54% of their employees.
Why all this nose-to-the-grindstone during time off? As well as the substantial number of workaholics in executive positions, experts say today’s advanced technology is also to blame. It makes it possible to stay connected to the office 24/7. (Simple solution: Lose the ‘Crackberry’.)
– CP

This holiday season is likely to see record sales of gift cards. The National Retail Federation estimates that shoppers will buy close to $25-billion-worth, up 34% from LAST YEAR. Retailers love them because most consumers spend more than their card is worth, using their own money to make up the difference. But here’s something you may not have considered – experts say about $4.8-billion-worth of THIS YEAR’s gift cards will go unused. “Consumer Reports” estimates that 19% of those who receive cards never use them because the cards either expire or get lost. Electronics retailer Best Buy alone reports a $43-million gain in 2006 from cards that haven’t been used for 2 or more years. But if you insist on giving one, keep in mind that some gift cards get spent faster than others. Supermarkets and gas stations have close to 100% redemption rates. (Why not give just the gift certificate that’s redeemable anywhere … money?)
– Yahoo! News

Dutch women are getting bigger breasts! Fully 32% now have a D-cup or larger, thereby making women with a large bra size the largest segment of the female population in the Netherlands. Experts say poor nutrition habits may have a lot to do with the increase as well as hormones in food and the general increasing size of the population … at large. But the Dutch are not alone. In fact, they actually rank 3rd in Europe behind British and Danish women in terms of bra size. (FYI: Using the ‘Babel Fish’ translator, the word ‘bazooms’ in Dutch is … ’ bazooms’. However, ‘fun bags’ translates to ‘pret zakken’.)
– Expatica News

In gambling-mad Australia, the state of Victoria is attempting to reign in the number of venues where money-sucking poker machines are available. The state government is attempting to impose a limit of 10 machines per 1,000 adults in areas where they are saturated. That means some 543 machines will have to be removed … or at least relocated. The program is just part of a $132-million plan to tackle problem gambling, which also includes reducing the maximum bet allowed from $10 to $5. (That $132 million likely came from … government profits on gambling.)

With most of Canada experiencing warmer-than-normal temperatures, Environment Canada climatologist David Phillips says it looks like a green Christmas for most places east of Alberta. The official definition of a ‘White Christmas’ is 2 cm (about 3-quarters of an inch) of snow on the ground at 7 am on Christmas Day. It’s considered a ‘perfect White Christmas’ if there are also snowflakes in the air. Goose Bay NL, Quebec City QC, Val D’or QC, Thunder Bay ON, Timmins ON, Whitehorse YT, and Yellowknife NT all have a 100% probability of a White Christmas. Timmins has the best chance of a ‘perfect White Christmas’ with a 52% probability. BTW, the heaviest-ever Christmas Day snowfall was in Toronto in 1872 when 38.1 cm (15 inches) fell. (Is that when they called in the Red Coats to shovel?)
– “Globe & Mail”

There’s been no snow so far in the UK and bookies say the odds of a White Christmas happening in Britain at are their bleakest in 20 years. Bookmaking firm William Hill has placed the odds against snow falling at any time during Christmas Day at 10-1 in London, 9-1 in Cardiff, Wales and 7-1 in Glasgow, Scotland. The betting house is also offering 10-1 if the record temperature of 15.5 C (60 F) – set back in 1920 – is beaten. (Al Gore has a C-note on it.)
– Press Association

The restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia is offering what just may be the world’s most expensive hamburger. Made with 225 grams (a half-pound) of Kobe beef, topped with foie gras, Portobello mushrooms and Korean pears, the gourmet burger is priced at a whopping $110. That’s more than twice the minimum wage in some parts of the country … per month. The hotel has only sold about 20 of them since they were launched earlier THIS MONTH.
– Reuters


1945 [61] Peter Criss (Criscoula), Brooklyn NY, classic rock drummer (KISS-“I Just Wanna Rock & Roll All Night”)

1966 [40] Chris Robinson, Atlanta GA, rock singer (Black Crowes-“Hard to Handle”)/married to actress Kate Hudson 2000-06

1990 [16] JoJo (Joanna Noelle Levesque), Foxborough MA, pop singer (“Too Little Too Late”, “Leave [Get Out]”)

• “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. In fact, an estimated 500 million people around-the-world have played ‘Monopoly’ since its inception.
• “I’ve Got My Big Fat Pants On Day”, a day to wear anything you want as long as it’s comfortable and roomy. Wouldn’t this be better celebrated AFTER the holidays?

1946 [60] Frank Capra’s classic Christmas film “It’s A Wonderful Life”, starring Jimmy Stewart, premieres in NYC

1952 [54] Jimmy Boyd’s “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” reaches #1 on pop charts

1986 [20] “Walk Like An Egyptian” by the Bangles hits #1 on pop singles charts

1911 [95] 1st ‘Artificial Ice Rink’ (created by Frank Patrick in Vancouver BC)

1919 [87] Canadian National Railway (CNR) is established

1928 [78] 1st ‘International Dogsled Mail’ leaves Minot, Maine for Montréal QC

1979 [27] “Trivial Pursuit” is invented by Montréal journalists Chris Haney & Scott Abbott to settle an argument over who’s the better board game player (it’s patented December 10, 1981 and generates $1 billion in sales in 1984 alone)

1842 [164] 1st ‘In-Home Bathtub’ in America unveiled at Adam Thompson’s house party in Virginia

1879 [127] 1st demonstration of ‘Incandescent Light Bulb’ by Thomas Edison (Christmas tree lights developed just 3 years later by Edison’s assistant Edward Johnson)

1980 [26] 1st (and only) NFL telecast with NO announcers (as a stunt, NBC-TV uses only sounds and graphics for meaningless Jets-Dolphins game)

[Thurs] Humbug Day
[Thurs] Look at the Bright Side Day
[Fri] Solstice Synchronized Global Orgasm for World Peace
[Fri] Winter begins (7:22 pm EST)
[Fri] “Night at the Museum”; “The Good Shepherd”; “We Are Marshall” open in movie theaters
[Sun] Egg Nog Day
[Mon] “Dreamgirls”; “Black Christmas” open in movie theaters
This Week Is … International Language Week
This Month Is … Safe Toys & Gifts Month


5. “Home Alone”, featuring Macaulay Culkin (1990).
4. “The Santa Clause”, starring Tim Allen (1994).
3. “Christmas with the Kranks”, also starring Tim Allen, with Jamie Lee Curtis & Dan Aykroyd (2004).
2. “Santa Conquers the Martians”, featuring Pia Zadora (1964).
1. “Jingle All the Way”, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger (1996).

If they ever did a remake of “It’s a Wonderful Life”, what modern-day actor should get the Jimmy Stewart role?

Today’s Question: It’s estimated that women buy 80% of THIS, even though it is used by both men and women equally.
Answer to Give Out Next Show: Wine.

Love and time: The only 2 things in all of life and all the world that cannot be bought, but spent.

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