December 20, 2002

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Friday, December 20, 2002        Edition: #2447
Doing the Work of 3 Men … Curly, Larry & Moe!

THIS WEEK a new $2-million, 10-week exhibit based on “The Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy opened at the Museum of New Zealand in Wellington, featuring costumes, film footage, props, and special effects from the films (the exhibit is already booked to tour Singapore, Sydney, London and Boston so far) . . . Word is Jen & Ben’s Valentine’s wedding may have to be postponed because of a bitter feud between J-Lo and Ben’s best man, Matt Damon, who’s reportedly been doing his best to talk Ben out of marrying her . . . A “People” magazine poll asking who we’d like as a celebrity ‘designated driver’ after a night of partying finds most (38%) pick actor and sometime race car driver Paul Newman – guess we like to get home FAST! (funny, nobody picked Nick Nolte) . . . British bookmaking firm William Hill is now offering odds of 500 to 1 on Michael Jackson getting a ‘full head transplant’ in 2003 . . . A few celeb New Year’s resolutions from “YM” magazine – “Lord of the Rings” star Elijah Wood plans to stop biting his nails, “8 Mile” actress Brittany Murphy wants to learn how to drive, and “Black Hawk Down” actor Josh Hartnett says he will devote less time to work and more time to having fun (sounds good to us – yee-haw!).

Finally Martin Scorsese’s highly-anticipated, $120-million historical drama “Gangs of New York” with Leonardo DiCaprio & Daniel Day-Lewis officially opens after numerous delays, the sweeping tale of the early mean streets of Manhattan from 1846 to 1863 . . . The romantic comedy “Two Weeks Notice” stars Hugh Grant as a billionaire who depends on his brilliant attorney (Sandra Bullock) to run not only his company but his life, until she gets fed up and threatens to leave . . . There’s already Oscar buzz surrounding Denzel Washington’s directorial debut, the drama “Antwone Fisher” about a sailor (Derek Luke) prone to violent outbursts who is sent to a naval psychiatrist (Denzel) for help . . . The animated family comedy “The Wild Thornberrys Movie” is based on the Nickelodeon TV show about a family that travels the world making nature documentaries, featuring a daughter that can communicate with animals.

Cornell University’s Center for Hospitality Research has conducted several studies revealing some interesting facts about server habits that can boost their tip percentages. Here are a few of them –
• Being Helpful: A study of hotel bellmen reveals that taking a few extra minutes explaining to guests how to operate the TV and thermostat, opening the drapes, and offering to fill the ice bucket increases tips by up to $5.
• Touching: Waiters experience a tip increase if they briefly touch the shoulder of the customer. Both men and women leave higher tips when touched, and although younger customers increase their tip amount more, all ages increase the tip by some amount. (Most effective at Hooters restaurants.)
• Squatting: Two studies show that waiters who squat next to the table when taking orders and talking with customers receive increased tips. Apparently, the eye contact and closer interaction creates a more intimate connection. (Do you like it when some garlic-breathed guy squats 6 inches in front of your face and says “Hi I’m Raul. I’ll be your server this evening”?)
• Giving Candy: Giving customers a piece of candy with their bill causes an increase in tip  percentage. Interestingly, giving out 2 pieces of candy increases tips even more. But the largest impact comes from the server giving 1 piece, then ‘spontaneously’ offering a 2nd. This method increases the tip to an average of 23% of the bill! (We’re such suckers for gifts.)

Several companies are offering an alternative to the traditional Christmas turkey dinner. Substitute turkeys made from tofu called ‘Unturkey’ or ‘Tofurky’ are designed to give vegetarians and vegans a main course to be proud of. The ‘Unturkey’ is white after cooking and slices like boneless turkey breast, while additional boneless tofu drumsticks have more dark style ‘meat’. Although the tofu is a meal in itself, it’s intended as a replacement roast for people who’ve been raised on meat and potatoes. (Do they come with plastic ‘wishbones’?)

Beware, the end is near! Australian researcher Robert Bast believes the ancient Mayans had the ability to scientifically predict a major cataclysmic event that will destroy Earth. The ancient Mayan calendar mysteriously ends on a date that he says corresponds to December 21, 2012 on our calendar. That leaves us 10 years from TOMORROW before the world ends. How? Bast thinks it could be caused by a polar ice shift or a movement of Earth’s magnetic poles. He plans to move to a mountaintop in West Africa, which he claims will be the safest spot in the world. (Does this sound like Y2K or what?)

• A mourning family in Leeds, England arrived at a cemetery to pay their last respects only to find the grave had not been dug and they would have to wait at least 48 hours for the burial. The grandsons of the deceased couldn’t wait, so they took matters into their own hands, seized two shovels, and dug the grave themselves! (Always read the fine print in those pre-planned funeral agreements. Especially the part about ‘some assembly required’.)
• Danish toy giant Lego is taking a South African company to court over a design printed on a T-shirt showing a pair of block figures in a suggestive position with the word ‘Legover’ printed underneath. (Don’t you hate it when you can’t get them apart?)
• Picture this – more than 100 guests from all over the country were gathered in Bucharest, Romania for a wedding when at the last minute the bride-to-be went into labor and had to be rushed off to a maternity ward. What to do? Groom David Sandor didn’t want to disappoint everyone so he asked his best man to put on the wedding dress, step into the bride’s shoes and march up the aisle with him. (Geez, wonder what happened on the honeymoon?)
• A Dutch tourist who looked under his pillow in a Malaysian hotel room after he felt something wriggling there was temporarily blinded in one eye – when a cobra spat at him. (Certainly a step up from the traditional bedtime chocolate ain’t it?)
• Women in the central Mexican mountain village of Teenek are chasing away beer delivery trucks because they’re sick of their men getting drunk. The women say they are fed up with the men stumbling home or falling over in the fields so they’ve been blocking delivery trucks and shouting “Get out! Get out!” at the drivers. (Hey hombres, feliz navidad! Sounds like our office Christmas party.)

These are the top trees, based on ‘needle-retention time’ –
• Colorado Blue Spruce, Balsam Fir – 2-3 weeks
• Scotch Pine, Douglas Fir, Eastern White Pine – 4-5 weeks
• Noble Fir, Concolor (White) Fir – 5 weeks
• Fraser Fir – up to 6 weeks
Source: “Detroit Free Press”
(They missed ‘Aluminum – 300 years’)

It’s estimated that 52% of households now have an artificial Christmas tree.


1946 [56] John Spencer (Speshock), NYC, TV actor (2002 Emmy Award for Chief of Staff Leo McGarry-“The West Wing”)

1954 [48] Michael Badalucco, TV actor (Jimmy Berluti-“The Practice”)

1959 [43] Scott Goodyear, Toronto ON, TV auto racing analyst (ABC Sports coverage of Indy Racing League)/Indy Car racing driver who broke a bone in his back in 2001 “Indianapolis 500″

1966 [36] Chris Robinson, Atlanta GA, rock singer (Black Crowes-“Hard to Handle”, “She Talks With Angels”) who’s now pursuing a solo career/Mr Kate Hudson

1970 [32] Travis Green, Castlegar BC, NHL center (Toronto Maple Leafs)

1937 [65] Jane Fonda, NYC, ex-movie actress (Oscars-“Klute”, “Coming Home”)/exercise maven (“Personal Trainer Series”)/married ex-hubby Ted Turner 11 years ago TODAY (1991)

1948 [54] Samuel L Jackson, Washington DC, Hollywood’s hardest working actor who’s appeared in over 70 movies in the past decade (“XXX”, “Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones”, “Changing Lanes”)  UP NEXT: In 2003 he’ll appear in “Kill Bill”, “Blackout”, “SWAT”, and “Basic”. He’s also signed to shoot the future sequels “Star Wars: Episode III” and “XXX2″.

1955 [47] Jane Kaczmarek, Milwaukee WI, TV actress (Lois, the mom-“Malcolm in the Middle”)/married to Bradley Whitford (“West Wing’s” ‘Josh Lyman’) since 1992

1957 [45] Ray Romano, Queens NY, $800,000 per episode TV sitcom actor (2002 Emmy Award for Ray Barone-“Everybody Loves Raymond”)

1966 [36] Kiefer Sutherland, London ENG [dropped out of Catholic boarding school in Ottawa at age 15], TV actor (2002 Golden Globe Award as Jack Bauer-“24″)/movie actor (“A Time to Kill”, “A Few Good Men”)/actor Donald Sutherland’s son/grandson of former Saskatchewan premier and 1st federal NDP leader Tommy Douglas

1973 [29] Mike Alstott, Joliet IL, 250-lb NFL RB (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

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. The top-selling board games of 2002 include some old faves: “Chutes & Ladders”, “Operation”, “Connect Four”, “Battleship” and “Twister” (which is way more fun naked). 

TODAY is “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 Christmas?)

TOMORROW is “Winter Solstice” as winter officially arrives at 8:14pm EST. The shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere is the excuse for the tongue-in-cheek observances “Look At The Bright Side Day” and “National Flashlight Day”. In pagan times, it was the beginning of the celebration “Yule”, source of the ‘yule log’.

TOMORROW is “Humbug Day”, when 12 ‘humbugs’ are allowed to be uttered in order to vent frustrations preparing for the holidays.

1952 #1 song is Jimmy Boyd’s Christmas hit “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”

1911 [91] 1st ‘artificial ice rink’ (Frank Patrick-Vancouver)

1919 [83] Canadian National Railway (CNR) is established

1928 [74] 1st international ‘dogsled mail’ leaves Minot ME for Montréal

1946 [56] Frank Capra’s classic Christmas film “It’s A Wonderful Life” starring Jimmy Stewart premieres in NYC

1979 [23] “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)

1842 [160] 1st ‘in-home bathtub’ in America unveiled at Adam Thompson’s house party in Virginia

1879 [123] 1st demonstration of ‘incandescent light bulb’ by Thomas Edison (Christmas tree lights developed just 3 years later by Edison’s assistant Edward Johnson)

1980 [22] 1st (and only) NFL telecast with NO announcers (as a stunt, NBC uses only sounds and graphics for meaningless Jets-Dolphins game)

[Sun] First [Full] Day of Winter
[Tues] National Egg Nog Day
[Wed] Movies “Catch Me If You Can”, “Chicago” and “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” open
[Thurs] Boxing Day (Canada, UK, Australia, NZ)
[Thurs] Kwanzaa begins
[Thurs] National Whiner’s Day
[Thurs] Recyclable Packaging Day
[Thurs] Awful Tie Day
[Dec 27] National Fruitcake Day
[Dec 28] Card Playing Day
[Dec 31] Make Up Your Mind Day
This Week Is . . . Tell Someone They’re Doing a Good Job Week
This Month Is . . . Stress Free Family Holidays Month / Write to a Friend Month (tell them all the exciting things your family’s been doing all year – don’t spare any excruciating details)


1. Yo-Yo
2. Crayons
3. Barbie
4. Lionel Trains
5. Play-Doh
Source: Toy Manufacturers Of America

BS Q & A:
Q: Christmas is the biggest candy-selling season of the year. What holiday ranks 2nd?
A: Easter which, perhaps surprisingly, surpasses Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Halloween.
Source: Triviaville

Today’s Question: 18% of us say we would ‘squeal with delight’ and hug a person who gave us this for Christmas.
Answer to Give Out Next Show: A new set of tires.

No man is an island, but some of us are long peninsulas.

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