Wednesday, March 20, 2002        Edition: #2257
Boing! Spring will officially have sprung as of 2:16pm EST.

TONIGHT the 16th “Soul Train Music Awards” will be handed out and once again Alicia Keys looks likely to clean up, being nominated in 4 categories . . . “MAD” magazine is celebrating its 50th anniversary (asked if becoming a senior citizen concerns him ‘Alfred E Neuman’ says, “What me worry?”) . . . A new process has been developed to convert regular movies into giant-screen Imax versions, with “Apollo 13″ being first to get the make-over (what film would you want to see on a 3-story screen?) . . . As a publicity stunt to promote FRIDAY’S 20th anniversary re-release of the movie “ET”, both the title character and director Steven Spielberg have taken part in a loooong distance phone call to the crew on the International Space Station (‘ET’ didn’t go home – but at least he called!) . . . Elton John says Liza Minnelli’s new husband David Gest sets off his ‘gay-dar’ (well, gays always have loved Liza) . . . J-Lo’s keeping it all in the family – she’s just dished out a reported $1 million to buy the Chronicle restaurant in Pasadena CA which will get a new name, feature authentic Puerto Rican food, and be run by her pop (Dad-Lo).

• ‘Umfriend’ — A sexual relation of dubious standing or a concealed intimate relationship, as in “This is Bambi, my. . . um . . . friend.”
• ‘PHD’ — Stands for ‘Pompous Headed Dweeb” and is used to describe well-educated people who are somehow still dumb, and conceited to boot. (“Ever since Vanessa graduated from Oxford she’s been such a PHD.”)
• ‘Swiped Out’ — An ATM card that has been rendered useless because the magnetic strip is worn away from extensive use. (“Spot me 20, will ya? The machine spit out my card ‘cause I’m swiped out.”)

• Here’s a working mom’s little secret: A “Good Housekeeping” survey of working women finds that 26% would rather go to the office than stay home because ‘the kids drive me crazy’.
• According to a “New Woman” magazine poll, 34% of women say they could be happily married without spousal sex. (This comes as no surprise whatsoever to husbands.)
• When a man and a woman eat out, who pays? Surprise! A University of Texas survey finds that women are twice as generous when it comes to spending bucks on their partner.
• According to a “Time”/CNN poll, 56% of heterosexuals believe homosexuals can change. (The other 44% are high school graduates.)

56-year-old Hungarian shoemaker Jozsef Kovacs claims he’s made the ‘world’s largest shoe’. It took 345 hours to complete the size 217 men’s leather model that has an inside measurement of 145 cm (about 57 inches), 15 cm longer than the current “Guinness” world record holder, and it weighs in at 65 kg (143 pounds). So why’d he do it? He hopes it will inspire young people to take up his declining profession. (And he also had a custom order from Shaquille O’Neal.)

A new Howard University study shows that combining cigarettes with alcohol triggers the brain to release higher levels of a chemical that affects pleasure – something any smoker already knows. Researchers say this explains why many alcoholics become chain smokers – and vice versa.

A new report in the journal “Psychology of Addictive Behaviors” suggests that Internet gambling addiction is the ‘crack cocaine of gambling disorders’. The study shows that a startling 74% of Internet gamblers develop gambling problems. Why? It’s all speeded up, meaning you can get hooked faster, and lose faster.

• Barnabas R Miller, a registered Republican party member, has been called for jury duty in Contra Costa County, California THIS MONTH. There are two minor problems: ‘Barnabas’ is only 9-years-old, and — he’s a poodle. (Proving the Republican party really has gone to the dogs.)
• 53-year-old Graham Stanton of Worcester, England has spent 25 years collecting 700 road signs which fill several rooms of his house. His wife has had it — telling him to rent a warehouse or give up his hobby. (He’s asked her to YIELD, but she just wants him to STOP. Seems like there’s going to be TRAFFIC PROBLEMS AHEAD.)
• A Dutch woman has been arrested after returning pants to a clothing store and asking to  exchange them for a larger size. The 52-year-old phoned the store first to see if the exchange would be OK. The store clerk couldn’t remember making the sale and decided to review security camera videos – which showed the woman shoplifting the goods 2 days earlier. (Duh!)
• A  Portland, Oregon car dealer has been fined for selling a new car to an Alzheimer’s victim who can’t even drive — SEVEN TIMES IN A MONTH. Hillsboro Chrysler Plymouth Jeep Warehouse agreed to give 78-year-old James Rickards his money back and pay about $90,000 in compensation. Dealership manager Kevin Chimienti said his sales team had ‘no idea’ the victim had bought so many cars. (As his nose grew longer and longer.)
• 28-year-old David Grixti of Melbourne, Australia has won an appeal overturning a $100 fine for – breaking wind in front of a police officer. Judge Leslie Ross has ruled that flatulence is an ‘involuntary and natural circumstance’ and that just because a person bends over to make the situation ‘a little more comfortable’ it does not prove it is deliberate. (Yeah right, try that argument on the wife.)
• German researchers say graveyards are now facing overcrowding problems because dead bodies just aren’t decomposing properly. Scientists at Christian-Albrechts University say the natural decomposition process is being slowed by — anti-aging creams and food preservatives, as if people have been pickled! (They also site the rise in popularity of tequila slammers.)
• Britain’s Pembrokeshire National Park committee is voting on whether to ban memorial benches because they depress visitors. Hikers are complaining the 90-plus benches and plaques dedicated to dead people who enjoyed the area are making the 186-mile coastal trail too gloomy. (My chair in the studio has a plaque. Its says, ‘You’re next!’)


Everyone shares their birthday with at least 9 million other people in the world. TODAY they include . . .
1928 [74] Fred ‘Mr’ Rogers, Latrobe PA, retired kids TV show host (“Mr Rogers Neighborhood” [1967-2001])

1939 [63] Brian Mulroney, Baie Comeau QC, much vilified 18th Canadian PM (1984-1993)

1948 [54] Bobby Orr, Parry Sound ON, NHL Hall of Famer (Boston Bruins)/Don Cherry’s idol

1950 [52] William Hurt, Washington DC, movie actor (plays a restaurateur in a small Newfoundland town in the currently showing “Rare Birds”, “Broadcast News”, Oscar-“Kiss of the Spiderwoman”)

1957 [45] Spike (Shelton) Lee, Atlanta GA, film director (“The Original Kings of Comedy”, “Summer of Sam”)  NEXT MOVIE: Directs the crime drama “The 25th Hour”, opening DECEMBER 6

1958 [44] Holly Hunter, Conyers GA, film actress (“O Brother Where Art Thou?”, Oscar-“The Piano”)

1964 [38] Tracy Chapman, Cleveland OH, pop/folk singer (“Give Me One Reason”, “Fast Car”)

1969 [33] ‘Big Bird’, Sesame Street NY, large-footed, ochre-feathered, 8′-2″ TV fowl (“Sesame Street”)/Caroll Spinney, who provides the voice and puppetry, has to hold the 4-and-a-half pound head up with his right arm

1970 [32] Michael Rapaport, NYC, TV actor (Danny Hanson-“Boston Public)

TODAY, the “First Day of Spring”, is “National Proposal Day” when singles are encouraged to take the plunge, and it’s also the day of the 32nd annual “Snowman Burning” ritual at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste Marie MI to celebrate the end of winter.

TODAY is “Extraterrestrial Abductions Day”, honoring all wackos who’ve been kidnapped by aliens.

1969 [33] John Lennon marries Yoko Ono at the Rock of Gibraltar

1914 [88] 1st ‘International Figure Skating Championship’ begins, in New Haven CT (the next day, the French judge is sent home early)

1964 [38] 1st edition of TV game show “Jeopardy!”, with Art Fleming as host (Alex Trebek hosts the revival that begins in 1984)

1980 [22] 1st ‘Elvis sighting’ reported, despite his widely rumored 1977 death (Butte, Montana)
1999 [03] Hot air balloon piloted by Brian Jones of England and Bertrand Piccard of Switzerland completes ‘1st nonstop around-the-world flight’

[Thurs] National Teenagers Day and Single Parents Day (coincidence?)
[Fri] Goof Off Day (also known as ‘Friday’)
[Sat] World Meteorological Day
[Sun] Palm Sunday
National Bubble Week (the beginning of ‘Bubble-Blowing Season’, don’t you know)
National Anonymous Giving Week
Music In Our Schools Month (now there’s a bandwagon worth jumping onto!)


• How long was the longest Oscar acceptance speech?
a) 10 minutes
b) 30 minutes
c) 60 minutes
[Actress Greer Garson holds the dubious honor for 1942’s “Mrs Miniver”. Her acceptance of the ‘Best Actress’ award reportedly took a full hour.]

• Who became infamous for exclaiming, “You like me, you really like me!” upon winning her 2nd Oscar?
a) Meryl Streep
b) Sally Field
c) Madonna
[Sally Field took the ‘Best Actress’ Oscar for Norma Rae (1979) and again for “Places In The Heart” (1984), when she uttered the phrase that’s been the stuff of cruel parody ever since.]

• Which actor refused Oscar recognition – twice?
a) Marlon Brando
b) George C Scott
c) Adam Sandler
[The late George C Scott turned down a ‘Supporting Actor’ nomination in 1961 for “The Hustler”, then turned down the ‘Best Actor’ Oscar itself for “Patton” (1970) by saying, “The ceremonies are a two-hour meat parade, a public display with contrived suspense for economic reasons.”]

• Only 2 actors have won Oscars for playing a character of the opposite sex. Linda Hunt won a ‘Best Supporting Actress’ for playing a man in “The Year Of Living Dangerously” (1984). Who was the other?
a) Dustin Hoffman
b) Hillary Swank
c) Elton John
[Hillary Swank won a ‘Best Actress’ for playing a transgender girl who preferred life as a boy in “Boys Don’t Cry” (2000).]

• Who’s the oldest person ever nominated for an acting Oscar?
a) Gloria Stuart for “Titanic”.
b) Jessica Tandy for “Driving Miss Daisy”.
c) George Burns for “Oh, God!”.
[Gloria Stuart, who received a ‘Best Supporting Actress’ nomination in 1998 at age 87. Jessica Tandy was the oldest to WIN an acting Oscar at age 81 in 1990. George Burns won in 1976 for “The Sunshine Boys”, but he was a sprightly 80.]

• While many filmmaker-actors have been nominated, only one has directed himself to an acting Oscar. Was it —
a) Woody Allen
b) Laurence Olivier
c) Mike Myers
[Laurence Olivier for “Hamlet” (1948). It was also the first British production to win ‘Best Picture’. Woody Allen has won 3 Oscars, but they were for directing and writing.]
Sources: “Triviaville”,, Internet Movie Data Base

Two of the following are actual tabloid headlines, the other a total fake. But which?
GAME #1 –
• “Bin Laden’s Wild Nights With a Goat!”
• “Ay Caramba! Scientists Grow Giant Chihuahua!”
• “All Harvard Diplomas Are Worthless!” (FAKE)

GAME #2 –
• “Peanut Butter: The Ultimate Aphrodisiac!” (FAKE)
• “Giant Roaches Invade Cleveland!”
• “Red China Loses Platoon of 50 Invisible Soldiers!”

GAME #3 —
• “Moths Attack Pope’s Hat!”
• “Holey Cow! Farmer Gives Bessy a Pierced Udder!” (FAKE)
• “Stupid Saddam Bleaches His Black Stallions!”

“The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.”
— Henry Van Dyke, “Fisherman’s Luck”

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